Page:Roger Casement - The crime against Ireland and how the war may right it.djvu/35

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otherwise, do not reckon your chickens before they are hatched."

The Anglo-Saxon preferred "politic courses" to accepting the Irish soldier's challenge, even where all the advantage was conceded by the Irishman to his foe and all the risks, save that of treachery (a very necessary precaution in dealing with the English in Ireland), cheerfully accepted by the Celt.

This advantage of the "better bodies" the Irish retained beyond all question up to the Famine. It was upon it alone that the Wexford peasantry relied in 1798, and with it and by it alone that they again and again, armed with but pike and scythe swept disciplined regiments of English mercenaries in headlong rout from the field. This physical superiority of his countrymen was frequently referred to by O'Connell as one of the forces he relied on. With the decay of all things Irish that has followed the famine, these physical attributes have declined along with so much else that was typical of the nation and the man.

It could not to-day be fearlessly affirmed that sixty Irishmen were more than a match for one hundred Englishmen; yet depleted as it is by the emigration of its strongest and healthiest children, by growing sickness and a changed and deteriorated diet, the Irish race still presents a type, superior physically, intellectually and morally to the English. It was on Irish soldiers that the English chiefly relied in the Boer War, and it is no exaggeration to say that could all the Irishmen in the ranks of the British army have been withdrawn, a purely British force would have failed to end the war and the Dutch would have remained masters of the field in South Africa.

It was the inglorious part of Ireland to be linked with those "methods of barbarism" she herself knew only too well, in extinguishing the independence of a people who