The crime against Ireland and how the War may right it
Public domainPublic domainfalse
Crime against Ireland
How the War may
By Sir Roger Casement.
Ireland, Germany and Freedom of the Seas.
To Free the Seas, Free Ireland.
The following articles were begun in 1911 under the title, "'Ireland, Germany and the Next War," and were intended for private circulation only among a few interested friends of both countries.
Part I was written in August, 1911, Parts II to VI were written at odd moments, between the end of 1912 and November 1913; Part VII in December 1913. Part VII under the title of "The Elsewhere Empire" was published in January 1914 in a Dublin monthly review.
The whole seven parts furnish in outline the case for a German-Irish alliance as this presented itself to the writer's mind when the world was still at peace; and in Part VII the intrigues of Great Britain to induce an antiGerman policy on the part of the United States are touched on.
It was the writer's intention to show in succeeding chapters how the vital needs of European peace, of European freedom of the seas and of Irish National life and prosperity were indissolubly linked with the cause of Germany in the struggle so clearly impending between that country and Great Britain.
The war has come sooner than was expected. The rest of the writer's task must be essayed not with the author's pen, but with the rifle of the Irish Volunteer. As a contribution to the cause of Irish freedom this presentment of the case for Germany, friend of Ireland and foe of England, is now published.
It was written on the assumption that a war between Germany and Great Britain might be localized between those two Powers alone.
Obviously this was unlikely; but for the purpose of stating the ease of Ireland more clearly the conflict was limited, in this outline, to the two great antagonists—England lighting, to retain the mastery of the seas and keep all Europe pent up in an armed camp, Germany fighting for freedom of the seas and to break through the forest of bayonets British policy has created as the surest guarantee against her own dominion of the ocean being successfully challenged .
Once the chief factor governing the conflict is perceived, namely, the British claim to own the seas and to dominate the commercial intercourse of the world, then the cause of Germany becomes the cause of European civilization at large. Germany is fighting the battle of Europe, the battle of free trade, the fight to open the seas of the world.
A German triumph will bring equality of opportunity to all who traverse the seas, and in order to safeguard that new- won freedom Ireland, the Keeper of the Seas for Great Britain must become the Keeper of the Seas for Europe. Such is the object of the German effort: such the possibility and hope to Ireland and the sea nations of a German triumph. A German victory must bring, as one of the surest guarantees of future peace and sea liberty for all an Ireland restored to Europe and erected into a sovereign European State under international guarantees.
England fights as the foe of Europe and the enemy of European civilization. In order to destroy German shipping, German commerce, German industry, she has deliberately plotted the conspiracy we now see at work. The war of 1914 is England's war.
For years she has been planning how she could, without danger to herself, destroy the peaceful menace of German prosperity.
A few more years of peaceful expansion by Germany and the chances of success would be less if not quite gone. Since August, 1911, the sole object of British foreign policy has been to put Germany in a false position and to arrange for the blow to be struck by other hands—by hired hands.
To-day we see the triumph of British diplomacy. Russia and France have been nerved up to the task. The sword has been drawn against Germany, and England, confident now that come what may she must gain her object (the destruction of German sea power, shipping and commerce), enters joyfully into a struggle that while it shall never touch her own shores, or interrupt or lessen a single English meal, must end in the laying waste of Germany and the annihilation of the only European people who had shown themselves capable of serious competition in the peaceful arts of commerce and industry.
In order to achieve this crime England is prepared to hand Europe over to Russia. Herself a non-European Power she cheerfully contemplates Europe dominated by an Asiatic Power, so that she may sweep German commerce from the seas and destroy the constant threat of German peaceful expansion. No greater crime against civilization has ever been planned. Secure herself, as she believes, guarded by the seas and her "invicible" ring of Dreadnoughts, having never experienced the horrors of invasion or herself borne the suffering of war she has plotted and achieved a war of inconceivable horror and devastation abroad, from which she confidently hopes to pull the spoils of a ruined German world commerce.
In this war Germany fights not only for her own life—she fights to free the sees and if she wins she fights to free Ireland. In this war Ireland has only one enemy. Let every Irish heart, let every Irish hand, let every Irish purse be with Germany.
Let Irishmen in America get ready. The day a German sea victory tolls the death knell of British tyranny at sea, it tolls the death knell of British rule in Ireland.
Let Irishmen in America stand ready, armed, keen and alert. The German guns that sound the sinking of the British Dreadnoughts will be the call of Ireland to her scattered sons.
The fight may be fought on the seas but the fate will be settled on an island. The crippling of the British fleet will mean a joint German-Irish invasion of Ireland and every Irishman able to join that army of deliverance must get ready to-day.
New York City, 1. September 1914.
(Written in August, 1911.)
As long ago as 1870 an Irishman pointed out that if the English press did not abandon the campaign of prejudiced suspicion it was even then conducting against Germany, the time for an understanding between Great Britain and the German people would be gone for ever.
It was Charles Lever who delivered this shrewd appreciation of the onlooker.
Writing from Trieste on August 29. 1870. to John Blackwood, he stated:
"Be assured the Standard is making a great blunder by its anti-Germanism, and English opinion has just now a value in Germany which if the nation be once disgusted with us will be gone for ever."
Lever preserved enough of the Irishman through all his official connection to see the two sides of a question and appreciate the point of view of the other man.
What Lever pointed out during the early stages of the Franco-German War has come to pass. The Standard of forty years ago is the British press of to-day. with here and there the weak voice of an impotent Liberalism crying in the wilderness. Germany has, indeed, become thoroughly disgusted and the hour of reconciliation has long since gone by. In Lever's time it was now or never; the chance not taken then would be lost for ever, and the English publicist of to-day is not in doubt that it is now too late. His heart searchings need another formula of expression—no longer a conditional assertion of doubt, but a positive questioning of impending fact. "'Is it too soon?" That the growing German navy must be smashed he is convinced, but how and when to do it are not so clear.
The situation ist not yet quite intolerable, and so, although many urge an immediate attack before the enemy grows too strong, the old-time British love of compromise and trust in luck still holds his hand. The American "alliance," too, may yet come off. The entente with France, already of great value, can be developed into something more assuredly anti-German, and if present day relations of friendship with the United States can be but tightened into a mutual committal of both Powers to a common foreign policy, then the raid on Germany may never be needed. She can be bottled up without it. No man who studies the British mind can have any doubt of the fixed trend of British thought.
It can be summed up in one phrase. German expansion is not to be tolerated. It can only be a threat to or attained at the expense of British interests. Those interests being world-wide, with the seas for their raiment—nay, with the earth for their footstool—it follows that wherever Germany may turn for an outlet she is met by the British challenge:"Not There!" British interests interdict the Old World; the Monroe Doctrine, maintained, it is alleged by British naval supremacy, forbids the New.
Let Germany acquire a coaling station, a sanitorium. a health resort, the ground for a hotel even, on some foreign shore and "British interests'" spring to attention, English jealousy is aroused. How long this state of tension can last without snapping could, perhaps, be best answered in the German naval yards. It is evident that some 70,000,000 of the best educated race in the world, physically strong, mentally stronger, homogenous, highly trained, highly skilled, capable and energetic and obedient to a discipline that rests upon and is moulded by a lofty conception of patriotism, cannot permanently be confined to a strictly limited area by a less numerous race, less well educated, less strong mentally and physically, and assuredly less well trained, skilled and disciplined. Stated thus the problem admits of a simple answer; and were there no other factor governing the situation, that answer would have been long since given.
It is not the ethnical superiority of the English race that accounts for their lead, but the favorable geographical situation from which they have been able to develop and direct their policy of expansion.
England has triumphed mainly from her position. The qualities of her people have, undoubtely, counted for much, but her unrivalled position in the lap of the Atlantic, barring the seaways and closing the tideways of Central and North-Eastern Europe, has counted for more.
With this key she has opened the world to herself and closed it to her rivals.
The long war with France ended in the enhancement of this position by the destruction of the only rival fleet in being.
Europe, without navies, without shipping became for England a mere westward projection of Asia, dominated by warlike peoples who could always be set by the ears and made to fight upon points of dynastic honor, while England appropriated the markets of mankind. Thenceforth, for the best part of a century, while Europe was spent in what, to the superior Briton were tribal conflicts, the seas and coasts of the world lay open to the intrusions of his commerce, his colonists, his finance, until there was seemingly nothing left outside the two Americas worth laying hands on. This highly favored maritime position depends, however, upon an unnamed factor, the unchallenged possession and use of which by England has been the true foundation of her imperial greatness. Without Ireland there would be to-day no British Empire. The vital importance of Ireland to England is understood, but never proclaimed by every British statesman. To subdue that western and ocean-closing island and to exploit its resources, its people and, above all, its position, to the sole advantage of the eastern island has been the set aim of every English government from the days of Henry VIII onwards. The vital importance of Ireland to Europe is not and has not been understood by any European statesman. To them it has not been a European island, a vital and necessary element of European development, but an appanage of England, an island beyond an island, a mere geographical expression in the titles of the conqueror. Louis XIV came nearest, perhaps, of European rulers to realizing its importance in the conflict of European interests when he sought to establish James II on its throne as rival to the monarch of Great-Britain and counterpoise to the British sovereignty in the western seas. Montesquieu alone of French writers grasped the importance of Ireland in the international affairs of his time, and lie blames the vacillation of Louis, who failed to put forth his strength, to establish James upon the throne of Ireland and thus by a successful act of perpetual separation to "affaiblir le voisin." Napoleon, too late, in St. Helena realized his error: "Had I gone to Ireland instead of to Egypt, the empire of England was at an end."
With these two utterances of the French writer and of the French ruler we begin and end the reference of Ireland to European affairs which Continental statecraft has up to this emitted, and so far has failed to apply.
To-day there is probably no European thinker (although Germany produced one in recent times), who, when he faces the overpowering supremacy of Great Britain's influence in world affairs and the relative subordination of European rights to the asserted interests of that small island, gives a thought to the other and smaller island beyond its shores. And yet the key to British supremacy lies there. Perhaps the one latter day European who perceived the true relation of Ireland to Great Britain was Neibuhr.
"Should England." he said, "not change her conduct, Ireland may still for a long period belong to her, but not always; and the loss of that country is the death day. not only to her greatness, but of her very existence."
I propose to point out as briefly as may be possible in dealing with so unexpected a proposition, that the restoration of Ireland to European life lies at the bottom of all successful European effort to break the bonds that now shackle every Continental people that would assert itself and extend its ideals, as opposed to British interests. outside the limits of Europe.
It may be well first to define "British interests" and to show that these are not necessarily synonymous with European interests.
British interests are: first, the control of all the seas of all the world—in full military and commercial control. If this be not challenged peace is permitted; to dispute it seriously means war.
Next in order of British interests stands the right of pre-emption to all healthy, fertile, "unoccupied" lands of the globe not already in possession of a people capable of seriously disputing invasion, with the right of reversion to such other regions as may, from time to time prove commercially desirable or financially exploitable, whether suitable for British colonization or not.
In a word British interests assume that the future of the world shall be an English-speaking future. It is clear that sooner or later the British colonies, so-called, must develop into separate nationalities, and that the link of a common crown cannot bind them for ever. But, as Sir Wilfrid Laurier said at the recent imperial conference. "we bring you British institutions"—English language, English law, English trade, English supremacy, in a word—this is the ideal reserved for mankind and summed up in the words "British interests."
Turn where you will these interests are in effective occupation, and whether it be Madeira, Teneriffe, Agadir, Tahiti, Bagdad, the unseen flag is more potent to exclude the non-British intruder than the visible standard of the occupying tenant. England is the landlord of civilization, mankind her tenantry, and the earth her estate. If this be not a highly exaggerated definition of British interests, and in truth it is but a strongly colored chart of the broad outline of the design, then it is clear that Europe has a very serious problem to face if European civilization and ideals, as differing from the British type, are to find a place for their ultimate expansion in any region favored by the sun.
The actual conflict of European interests in Morocco is a fair illustration of English methods.
In the past France was the great antagonist, but since she is to-day no longer able to seriously dispute the British usufruct of the overseas world she is used (and rewarded) in the struggle now maintained to exclude Germany at all costs from the arena. Were France still dangerous she would never have been allowed to go to Algeciras, or from Algeciras to Fez. She has uses, however, in the anti-German prize ring and so Morocco is the price of her hire. That Germany should presume to inspect the transaction or claim a share in the settlement has filled the British mind with profound indignation, the echoes of which are heard rumbling round the world from the Guildhall to Gaboon and from the Congo to Tahiti. The mere press rumor that France might barter Tahiti for German goodwill filled the British newspaper world with supermundane wrath. That France should presume to offer or Germany to accept a French Pacific island in part discharge of the liabilities contracted at Algeciras was a threat to British interests. Tahiti in the hands of a decadent republic, the greatest if you will but still one of the dying nations, is a thing to be borne with, but Tahiti possibly in the hands of Germany becomes at once a challenge and a threat.
And so we learn that "Australasia protests" to the Home Government at the mere rumor that France may chose to part with one of her possessions to win German good will in Morocco. Neither France nor Germany can be permitted to be a free agent in a transaction that however regarded as essential to their own interests might affect, even by a shadow on the sea, the world orbit of British interests. These interests it will be noted have reached such a stage of development as to require that all foreign States that cannot be used as tools, or regarded as agencies, must be treated as enemies. Germany with her growing population, her advancing industries, her keen commercial ability, and her ever expanding navy has become the enemy of civilization. Far too strong to be openly assailed on land she must at all costs be pent up in Central Europe and by a ring-fence of armed understandings prohibited from a wider growth that would certainly introduce a rival factor to those British institutions and that world language that are seriously if not piously meditated as the ordained future for mankind.
For English mentality is such that whatever England does is divinely ordained, and whether she stamps out a nation or merely sinks a ship the hymn of action is "Nearer, My God, to Thee". In a recent deputation to King George V it will be remembered that certain British religious bodies congratulated that monarch on the third centenary of the translation into English of the Bible.
Both the addresses of the subjects, eminent, religious and cultured men, and the sovereign's reply were highly informative of the mental attitude of this extraordinary people. The Bible it appeared was the "greatest possession of the English race". "The British Bible" was the first and greatest of British investments and upon the moral dividends derived from its possession was founded the imperial greatness of this Island Empire. That other peoples possessed the Bible and had even translated it before England was not so much as hinted at. That the Bible was Greek and Hebrew in origin was never whispered. It began and ended with the English Authorized Version. The British Bible was the Bible that counted. It was the Bible upon which the sun never sets, the Bible that had blown Indian mutineers from its muzzle in the 'fifties and was prepared to-day to have a shot at any other mutineers, Teuton or Turk, who dared to dispute its claim that the meek shall inherit the earth. The unctuous rectitude that converts the word of God into wadding for a gun is certainly a formidable opponent, as Cromwell proved. To challenge English supremacy becomes not merely a threat to peace, it is an act of sacrilege. And yet this worldwide Empire broad based upon the British Bible and the English navy, and maintained by a very inflexible interpretation of the one and a very skillful handling of the other, rests upon a sunk foundation that, is older than both and will surely bring both to final shipwreck.
The British Empire is founded not upon the British Bible or the British Dreadnought, but upon Ireland. The Empire that began upon an island, ravaged, sacked and plundered shall end on an island, "which whether it proceed from the very genius of the soil, or the influence of the stars, or that Almighty God hath not yet appointed the time of her reformation, or that He reserveth her in this unquiet state still for some secret scourge which shall by her come unto England, it is hard to be known but yet much to be feared." Thus Edmund Spenser 340 years ago, whose Muse drew profit from an Irish estate (one of the fruits of empire) and who being a poet had imagination to perceive that a day of payment must some day be called and that the first robbed might be the first to repay. The Empire founded in Ireland by Henry and Elizabeth Tudor has expanded into mighty things. England deprived of Ireland resumes her natural proportions those of a powerful kingdom. Still possessing Ireland she is always an empire. For just as Great Britain bars the gateways of northern and west central Europe, to hold up at will the trade and block the ports of every coast from the Baltic to the Bay of Biscay, so Ireland stands between Britain and the greater seas of the west and blocks for her the highways of the ocean. An Ireland strong, independent and self-contained, a member of the European family of nations, restored to her kindred, would be the surest guarantee for the healthy development of European interests in those regions whence they are to-day excluded by the anti-European policy of England.
The relation of Ireland to Great Britain has been in no wise understood on the Continent. The policy of England has been for centuries to conceal the true source of her supplies and to prevent an audit of her transactions with the remoter island. As long ago as the reign of Elizabeth Tudor this shutting off of Ireland from contact with Europe was a settled point of English policy. The three "German Earls" with letters from the Queen who visited Dublin in 1572 were prevented by the Lord Deputy from seeing for themselves anything beyond the walls of the city. 
To represent the island as a poverty stricken land inhabited by a turbulent and ignorant race whom she has with unrewarded solicitude sought to civilize, uplift and educate has been a staple of England's diplomatic trade since modern diplomacy began. To compel the trade of Ireland to be with herself alone; to cut off all direct communication between Europe and this second of European islands until no channel remained save only through Britain; to enforce the most abject political and economic servitude one people ever imposed upon another; to exploit all Irish resources, lands, ports, people, wealth, even her religion, everything in fine that Ireland held, to the sole profit and advancement of England, and to keep all the books and rigorously refuse an audit of the transaction has been the secret but determined policy of England.
We have read lately something of Mexican peonage; of how a people can be reduced to a lawless slavery, their land expropriated, their bodies enslaved, their labor appropriated, and how the nexus of this fraudulent connection lies in a falsified account. The hacendado holds the peon by a debt bondage. His palace in Mexico city, or on the sisal plains of Yucatan is reared on the stolen labor of a people whose bondage is based on a lie. The hacendado keeps the books and debits the slave with the cost of the lash that scourges him into the fields. Ireland is the English peon, the great peon of the British Empire. The books and the palaces are in London, but the wealth has come from the peons on the Irish Estate. The armies that overthrew Napoleon; the fleets that swept the navies of France and Spain from the seas were recruited from this slave pen of English civilization. During the last 100 years probably 2,000,000 Irishmen have been drafted into the English fleets and armies from a land purposely drained of its food. Fully the same number, driven by Executive-controlled famines have given cheap labor to England and have built up her great industries, manned her shipping, dug her mines, and built her ports and railways while Irish harbors silted up and Irish factories closed down. While England grew fat on the crops and beef of Ireland, Ireland starved in her own green fields and Irishmen grew lean in the strife of Empire.
While a million Irishmen died of hunger on the most fertile plains of Europe, English Imperialism drew over one thousand million pounds sterling for investment in a world policy from an island that was represented to that world as too poor to even bury its dead. The profit to England from Irish peonage cannot be assessed in terms of trade, or finance, or taxation. It far transcends Lord MacDonnell's recent estimate at Belfast of £320,000,000—"an Empire's ransom," as he bluntly put it.
Not an Empire's ransom but the sum of an Empire's achievement, the cost of an Empire's founding, and to-day, the chief bond of an Empire's existence. Detach Ireland from the map of the British Empire and restore it to the map of Europe and that day England resumes her native proportions and Europe assumes its rightful stature in the empire of the world. Ireland can only be restored to the current of European life, from which she has for so long been purposely withheld by the act of Europe. What Napo eon perceived too late may yet be the purpose and achievement of a congress of nations. Ireland, I submit, is necessary to Europe, is essential to Europe, to-day she is retained against Europe, by a combination of elements hostile to Europe and opposed to European influence in the world. Her strategic importance is a factor of supreme weight to Europe and is to-day used in the scales against Europe. Ireland is appropriated and used, not to the service of European interests but to the extension of anti-European interests. The arbitrium mundi claimed and most certainly exercised by England is maintained by the British fleet, and until that power is effectively challenged and held in check it is idle to talk of European influence outside of certain narrow Continental limits.
The power of the British fleet can never be permanently restrained until Ireland is restored to Europe. Germany has of necessity become the champion of European interests as opposed to the world dominion of England and English-speaking elements. She is to-day a dam, a great reservoir rapidly filling with human life that must some day find an outlet. England instead of wisely digging channels for the overflow has hardened her heart, like Pharaoh, and thinks to prevent it or to so divert the stream that it shall be lost and drunk up in the thirsty sands of an ever expanding Anglo-Saxondom. German laws, German language, German civilization are to find no ground for replenishing, no soil to fertilize and make rich.
I believe this to be not only the set policy of England, but to be based on the temperamental foundations of the English character itself, from which that people could not, even if they would, depart. The lists are set. The English mind, the English consciousness are such, that to oppose German influence in the world is to this people a necessity. They oppose by instinct, against argument, in the face of reason, they will do it blindly come what may and at all costs, and they will do it to the end.
Their reasoning, if reason exists in what is after ail a matter of primal instinct, might find expression somewhat as follows:
"German influence cannot but be hostile to British interests. The two peoples are too much alike. The qualities that have made England great they possess in a still greater degree. Given a fair field and no favor they are bound to beat us. They will beat us out of every market in the world, and we shall be reduced ultimately to a position like that of France to-day. Better fight while we are still the stronger. Better hinder now ere it be too late. We have bottled up before and destroyed our adversaries by delay, by money, by alliances. To tolerate a German rivalry is to found a German empire and to destroy our own."
Some such obscure argument as this controls the Englishman's reasoning when he faces the growing magnitude of the Teutonic people. A bitter resentment, with fear at the bottom, a hurried clanging of bolt and rivet in the belt of new warships and a muffled but most diligent hammering at the rivets of an ever building American Alliance—the real Dreadnought this, whose keel was laid sixteen years ago and whose slow, secret construction has cost the silent swallowing of many a cherished British boast.
English Liberalism might desire a different sort of reckoning with Germany, but English Liberalism is itself a product of the English temperament and however it may sigh, by individuals, for a better understandig between the two peoples, in the mass, it is a part of the national purpose and a phase of the national mind and is driven relentlessly to the rivets and the hammering, the "Dreadnoughts" in being and that mightier Dreadnought yet to be, the Anglo-Saxon Alliance. Germany must fight if she is to get out.
Doubtless she has already a naval policy and the plans for a naval war, for the fight will be settled on the sea, but the fate will be determined on an island.
The Empire that has grown from an island and spread with the winds and the waves to the uttermost shores will fight and be fought for on the water and will be ended where it began, on an island.
That island, I believe, will be Ireland and not Great Britain.
(Written in September, 1912.)
A conflict between England and Germany exists already, a conflict of aims.
England rich, prosperous, with all that she can possibly assimilate already in her hands, desires peace on present conditions of world power. Those conditions are not merely that her actual possessions should remain intact, but that no other Great Power shall, by acquiring colonies and spreading its people and institutions into neighboring regions, thereby possibly affect the fuller development, of those pre-existing British States. For, with England equality is an offense and the Power that arrives at a degree of success approximating to her own and one capable of being expanded into conditions of fair rivalry has already committed the unpardonable sin. As Curran put it in his defense of Hamilton Rowan in 1797, "England is marked by a natural avarice of freedom which she is studious to engross and accumulate, but most unwilling to impart: whether from any necessity of her policy or from her weakness, or from her pride, I will not presume to say."
Thus while England might even be the attacking party, and in all probability, will be the attacking party, she will embark on a war with Germany at an initial disadvantage. She will be on her defense. Although, probably, the military aggressor from reasons of strategy, she will be acting in obedience to an economic policy of defense and not of attack. Her chief concern will be not to advance and seize, always in war the more inspiring task, but to retain and hold. At best she could come out of the war with no new gain, with nothing added worth having to what she held on entering it. Victory would mean for her only that she had secured a further spell of quiet in which to consolidate her strength and enjoy the good things already won.
Germany will fight with far other purpose and one that must inspire a far more vigorous effort. She will fight, not merely to keep what she already has. but to escape from an intolerable position of inferiority she knows to be unmerited, and enforced not by the moral or intellectual superiority of her adversary or due to her own shortcomings, but maintained by reason of that adversary's geographical position and early seizure of the various points of advantage.
Her effort will be not merely military, it will be an intellectual assertion, a fight in very truth for that larger freedom, that citizenship of the world England is studious "to engross and accumulate" for herself alone and to deny to all others. Thus, while English attack at the best will be actuated by no loftier feeling than that of a man who, dwelling in a very comfortable house with an agreeable prospect, resists an encroachment on his outlook from the building operations of his less well-lodged neighbor, Germany will be fighting not only to get out of doors into the open air and sunshine, but to build a loftier and larger dwelling, fit tenement for a numerous and growing offspring.
Whatever the structure Germany seeks to erect England objects to the plan and hangs out her war sign "Ancient Lights."
Who can doubt that the greater patriotism and stronger purpose must inspire the man who fights for light, air and freedom, the right to walk abroad, to learn, to teach, aye, and to inspire others, rather than him whose chief concern it is to see that no one but himself enjoys those opportunities. The means, moreover, that each combatant will bring to the conflict are, in the end. on the side of Germany. Much the same disproportion of resources exists as lay between Rome and Carthage.
England relies on money, Germany on men. And just as Roman men beat Carthagian mercenaries, so must German manhood, in the end, triumph over British finance. Just as Carthage in the hours of final shock, placing her gold where Romans put their gods, and never with a soul above her ships, fell before the people of United Italy, so shall the mightier Carthage of the North Seas, in spite of trade, shipping, colonies, the power of the purse and the hired valor of the foreigner (Irish, Indian, African), go down before the men of United Germany.
But if the military triumph of Germany seems thus likely, the ultimate assurance, nay even the ultimate safety of German civilization can only be secured by a statesmanship which shall not repeat the mistake of Louis XIV and Napoleon. The military defeat of England by Germany is a wholly possible achievement of arms, if the conflict be between these two alone, but to realize the economic and political fruits of that victory, Ireland must be detached from the British Empire. To leave a defeated England still in the full possession of Ireland would be, not to settle the question of German equal rights at sea or in world affairs, but merely to postpone the settlement to a second and possibly far greater encounter. It would be somewhat as if Rome, after the first Punic War had left Sicily still to Carthage. But Ireland is far more vital to England than Sicily was to Carthage, and is of far more account to the future of Europe on the ocean than the possession of Sicily was to the future of the Mediterranean.
If Germany is to permanently profit from a victory over England, she must free the narrow seas, not only by the defeat of British fleets in being, but by ensuring that those seas shall not again be closed by British fleets yet to be. The German gateway to a free Atlantic can only be kept open through a free Ireland. For just as the English Channel under the existing arrangement, whereby Ireland lies hidden from the rest of Europe, can be closed at will by England, so with Ireland no longer tied to the girdle of England, that channel cannot be locked. The key to the freedom of European navigation lies at Berehaven and not at Dover. With Berehaven won from English hands, England might close the Channel in truth, but Ireland could shut the Atlantic. As Richard Cox put it in 1689, quaintly but truly, in his dedication to King William III and Queen Mary of his "History of Ireland from the Earliest Times":
"But no cost can be too great where the prize is of such value, and whoever considers the situation, ports, plenty, and other advantages of Ireland will confess that it must be retained at what rate soever; because if it should come into an enemy's hands, England would find it impossible to flowrish and perhaps difficult to subsist without it. To demonstrate this assertion it is enough to say that Ireland lies in the Line of Trade and that all the English vessels that sail to the East, West and South must, as it were, run the gauntlet between the Harbors of Brest and Baltimore; and I might add that the Irish Wool being transported would soon ruin the English Clothing Manufacture. Hence it is that all Your Majesty's Predecessors have kept close to this fundamental Maxim of retaining Ireland inseparably united to the Crown of England."
The sole and exclusive appropriation of Ireland and of all her resources has indeed formed, since the Recorder of Kinsale wrote, the mainstay and chief support of British greatness.
The natural position of Ireland lying "in the line of trade," was possibly its chief value, but that "Irish wool," which was by no means to be allowed free access to world markets typifies much else that Ireland has been relentlessly forced to contribute to her neighbor's growth and sole profit.
I read but yesterday—"Few people realize that the trade of Ireland with Great Britain is equal to that of our trade with India, is 13,000,000 pounds greater than our trade with Germany, and 40,000,000 pounds greater than the whole of our trade with the United States." How completely England has laid hands on all Irish resources is made clear from a recent publication that Mr. Chamberlain's "Tariff Commission" issued towards the end of 1912.
This document, entitled "The Economic Position of Ireland and its Relation to Tariff Reform,'" constitutes, in fact, a manifesto calling for the release of Ireland from the exclusive grip of Great Britain. Thus, for instance, in the section "External Trade of Ireland," we learn that Ireland exported in 1910, £63,400,000 worth of Irish produce. Of this Great Britain took £52,600,000 worth, while some £10,800,000 went either to foreign countries, or to British colonies, over £4,000,000 going to the United States. Of these £11,000,000 worth of Irish produce sent to distant countries, only £700,000 was shipped direct from Irish ports.
The remainder, more than £10,000,000 although the markets it was seeking lay chiefly to the West, had to be shipped East into Great Britain and to pay a heavy transit toll to that country for discharge, handling, agency, commission, and reloading on British vessels in British ports to steam back past the shores of Ireland it had just left. While Ireland, indeed, lies in the "line of trade," between all Northern Europe and the great world markets, she has been robbed of her trade and artificially deprived of the very position assigned to her by nature in the great tides of commercial intercourse. It is not only the geographical situation and the trade and wealth of Ireland that England has laid hands on for her own aggrandizement, but she has also appropriated to her own ends the physical manhood of the Island. Just as the commerce has been forcibly annexed and diverted from its natural trend, so the youth of Ireland has been fraudulently appropriated and diverted from the defense of their own land to the extension of the power and wealth of the realm that impoverished it at home. The physical qualities of the Irish were no less valuable than "Irish wool" to Empire building, provided always they were not displayed in Ireland.
So long ago as 1613 we find a candid admission in the State papers that the Irish were the better men in the field. "The next rebellion, whenever it shall happen, doth threaten more danger to the State than any heretofore, when the cities and walled towns were always faithful; (1) because they have the same bodies they ever had and therein they have and had advantage of us; (2) from infancy they have been and are exercised in the use of arms; (3) the realm by reason of the long peace was never so full of youths: (4) that they are better soldiers than heretofore, their Continental employment in wars abroad assures us, and they do conceive that their men are better than ours."
This testimony to Irish superiority, coming as it does from English official sources just three hundred years ago, would be convincing enough did it stand alone. But it is again and again reaffirmed by English commanders themselves as the reason for their failure in some particular enterprise. In all else they were superior to the Irish; in arms, armament, munitions, supplies of food and money, here the long purse, settled organization and greater commerce of England, gave her an overwhelming advantage. Moreover, the English lacked the moral restraints that imposed so severe a handicap on the Irish in their resistance. They owned no scruple of conscience in committing any crime that served their purpose. Beaten often in open tight by the hardier bodies, stouter arms and greater courage of the Irishmen, they nevertheless won the game by recourse to means that no Irishman, save him who had joined them for purposes of revenge or in pursuit of selfish personal aims, could possibly have adopted. The fight from the first was an unequal one. Irish valor, chivalry, and personal strength were matched against wealth, treachery and cunning. The Irish better bodies were overcome by the worse hearts. As Curran put it in 1817—"The triumph of England over Ireland is the triumph of guilt over innocence."
The Earl of Essex, who came to Ireland in 1599 with one of the largest forces of English troops that, up to then, had ever been dispatched into Ireland (18,000 men), ascribed his complete failure, in writing to the Queen, to the physical superiority of the Irish:
"These rebels are more in number than your Majesty's army and have (though I do unwillingly confess it), better bodies, and perfecter use of their arms, than those men whom your Majesty sends over."
The Queen, who followed the war in Ireland with a swelling wrath on each defeat, and a growing fear that the Spaniards would keep their promise to lend aid to the Irish Princes, O'Neill and O'Donnell, issued "Instructions" and a set of "Ordinances" for the conduct of the war in Ireland, which, while enjoining recourse to the usual methods outside the field of battle—(i. e. starvation, "politic courses," [assassination of leaders], and the sowing of dissension by means of bribery and promises), required for the conflict, that her weaker soldiers should be protected against the onslaught of the unarmored Irishman by head pieces of steel. She ordered "every soldier to be enforced to wear a murrion, because the enemy is encouraged by the advantage of arms to come to the sword wherein he commonly prevaileth."
One of the Generals of the Spanish King, Phillip III, who came to Ireland in the Winter of 1601 with a handful of Spanish troops (200 men), to reinforce the small expedition of de Aguila in Kinsale, thus reported on the physical qualities of the Irish in a document that still lies in Salamanca, in the archives of the old Irish College. It was written by Don Pedro de Zubiarr on the 16th of January, 1602, on his return to the Asturias. Speaking of the prospect of the campaign, he wrote: "If we had brought arms for 10,000 men we could have had them, for they are very eager to carry on the war against the English. The Irish are very strong and well shaped, accustomed to endure hunger and toil, and very courageous in fight."
Perhaps the most vivid testimony to the innate superiority of the Irishman as a soldier is given in a typically Irish challenge issued in the war of 1641. The document has a lasting interest, for it displays not only the "better body" of the Irishman of that day, but something of his better heart as well, that still remains to us.
One, Parsons, an English settler in Ireland, had written to a friend to say that, among other things, the head of the Colonel of an Irish regiment then in the field against the English, would not be allowed to stick long on its shoulders. The letter was intercepted by the very regiment itself, and a Captain in it, Felim O'Molloy, wrote back to Parsons:
"I will do this if you please: I will pick out sixty men and fight against one hundred of your choice men if you do but pitch your camp one mile out of your town, and then if you have the victory, you may threaten my Colonel; 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 were attacked by the same enemy and sacrificed to the same greed that had destroyed her own freedom.
Unhappy, indeed, is it for mankind as for her own fate and honor that Ireland should be forced by dire stress of fortune to aid her imperial wrecker in wrecking the fortune and freedom of brave men elsewhere!
That these physical qualities of Irishmen, even with a population now only one tenth that of Great Britain are still of value to the Empire, Mr. Churchill's speech on the Home Rule Bill made frankly clear (February, 1913). We now learn that the First Lord of the Admiralty has decided to establish a new Training Squadron, "with a base at Queenstown," where it is hoped to induce by the bribe of "Self-Government" the youth of Cork and Minister to again man the British fleet as they did in the days of Nelson, and we are even told that the prospects of brisk recruiting are "politically favorable."
Carthage got her soldiers from Spain, her seamen, her slingers, from the Balearic Islands and the coasts of Africa, her money from the trade of the world. Rome beat her, but she did not leave a defeated Carthage to still levy toll of men and mind on those external sources of supply.
Germany must fight, not merely to defeat the British fleet of to-day. but to neutralize the British fleet of tomorrow. Leave Ireland to Great Britain and that can never be. Neutralize Ireland and it is already accomplished.
One of the conditions of peace, and for this reason the most important condition of peace that a victorious Germany must impose upon her defeated antagonist is that Ireland shall be separated and erected into an independent European State under international guarantees. England obviously would resist such conditions to the last, but then the last has already come before England would consent to any peace save on terms she dictated.
A defeated England is a starved England. She would have to accept whatever terms Germany imposed unless those terms provoked external intervention on behalf of the defeated Power.
The price Germany seeks to win from victory is not immediate territorial aggrandizement obtained from annexing British possessions, nor a heavy money indemnity wrung from British finance and trade (although this she might have), but German freedom throughout the world on equal terms with Britain. This is a prize worth fighting for, for once gained the rest follows as a matter of course.
German civilization released from the restricted confines and unequal position in which Britain had sought to pen it, must, of itself, win its way to the front, and of necessity acquire those favored spots necessary to its wider development.
"This is the meaning of his (the German's) will for power; safety from interference with his individual and national development. Only one thing is left to the nations that do not want to be left behind in the peaceful rivalry of human progress—that is to become the equals of Germany in untiring industry, in scientific thoroughness, in sense of duty, in patient persistence, in intelligent, voluntary submission to organization." ("History of German Civilization," by Ernst Richard, Columbia University, New York.)
Once she had reduced Great Britain to an opposition based on peaceful rivalry in human progress, Germany would find the path of success hers to tread on more than equal terms, and many fields of expansion now closed would readily open to German enterprise without that people incurring and inflicting the loss and injury that an attempted invasion of the great self-governing dominions would so needlessly involve. Most of the British self-governing colonies are to-day great states, well able to defend themselves from over-seas attack. The defeat of the British navy would make scarcely at all easier the landing of German troops in, say, Australia, South Africa, or New Zealand. A war of conquest of those far distant regions would be, for Germany, an impossible and a stupidly impossible task.
A defeated England could not cede any of those British possessions as a price of peace, for they are inhabited by freemen who, however they might deplore a German occupation of London, could in no wise be transferred by any pact or treaty made by others, to other rule than that of themselves. Therefore to obtain those British Dominions. Germany would have to defeat not merely England, but after that to begin a fresh war, or a series of fresh wars, at the ends of the earth, with exhausted resources and a probably crippled fleet.
The thing does not bear inspection and may be dismissed from our calculation.
The only territories that England could cede by her own act to a victorious Power are such as, in themselves, are not suited to colonization by a white race. Doubtless, Germany would seek compensation for the expenses of the war in requiring the transfer of some of these latter territories of the British Crown to herself. There are points in Tropical Africa, in the East, islands in the ocean to-day flying the British flag that might, with profit to German trade and influence, be acquired by a victorious Germany. But none of these things in itself, nor all of them put together, would meet the requirements of the German case, or ensure to Germany that future tranquil expansion and peaceful rivalry the war had been fought to secure. England would be weakened, and to some extend impoverished by a war ending which such results; but her great asset, her possession beyond price would still be hers—her geographical position. Deprive her today, say, of the Gold Coast, the Niger. Gibraltar, even of Egypt, impose a heavy indemnity, and while Germany would barely have recouped herself for the out-of-pocket losses of the war. England in fact would have lost nothing, and ten years hence the Teuton would look out again upon the same prospect, a Europe still dominated beyond the seas by the Western Islanders.
The work would have to be done all over again. A second Punic war would have to be fought with this disadvantage—that the Atlantic Sicily would be held and used still against the Northern Rome by the Atlantic Carthage.
A victorious Germany, in addition to such terms as she may find it well to impose in her own immediate financial or territorial interests, must so draft her peace conditions as to preclude her great antagonist from ever again seriously imperilling the freedom of the seas. I know of no way save one to make sure the open seas. Ireland, in the name of Europe, and in the exercise of European right to free the seas from the over-lordship of one European island must be resolutely withdrawn from British custody. A second Berlin conference, an international Congress must debate, and clearly would debate, with growing unanimity the German proposal to restore Ireland to Europe.
The arguments in favor of that proposal would soon become so clear from the general European standpoint that save England and her defeated allies, no Power would oppose it.
Considerations of expediency no less than naval, mercantile, and moral claims would range themselves on the side of Germany and a free Ireland. For a free Ireland, not owned or exploited by England, but appertaining to Europe at large, its ports available in a sense they never can be while under British control, for purposes of general navigation and overseas intercourse, would soon become of such first rank importance in Continental affairs as to leave men stupified by the thought that for five hundred years they had allowed one sole member of their community the exclusive use and selfish misappropriation of this, the most favored of European islands.
Ireland would be freed, not because she deserved or asked for freedom, not because English rule has been a tyranny, a moral failure, a stupidity and a sin against the light; not because Germany cared for Ireland, but because the withdrawal of Ireland from English control appeared to be a very necessary step in international welfare and one very needful to the progress of German and European expansion .
An Ireland released from the jail in which England had confined her would soon become a populous state of possibly 10,000,000 to 12,000,000 people, a commercial asset of Europe in the Atlantic of the utmost general value, one holding an unique position between the Old and New Worlds, and possibly an intellectual and moral asset of no mean importance. This, and more a sovereign Ireland means to Europe. Above all it means security of transit, equalizing of opportunity, freedom of the seas—an assurance that the great waterways of the ocean should no longer be at the absolute mercy of one member of the European family, and that one the least interested in general European welfare.
The stronger a free Ireland grew the surer would be the guarantee that the role of England "consciously assumed for many years past, to be an absolute and wholly arbitrary judge of war and peace" had gone forever, and that at last the "balance of power" was kept by fair weight and fair measure and not with loaded scales.
(Written in March, 1913.)
I believe England to be the enemy of European peace, and that until her "mastery of the sea" is overmastered by Europe, there can be no peace upon earth or goodwill among men. Her claim to rule the seas, and the consequences, direct and indirect, that flow from its assertion are the chief factors of international discord that now threaten the peace of the world.
In order to maintain that indefensible claim she is driven to aggression and intrigue in every quarter of the globe; to setting otherwise friendly peoples by the ears; to forming "alliances" and ententes, to dissolving friendships, the aim always being the old one, divide et impera.
The fact that Europe to-day is divided into armed camps is mainly due to English effort to retain that mastery of the sea. It is generally assumed, and the idea is propagated by English agencies, that Europe owes her burden of armaments to the antagonism between France and Germany, to the loss of Alsace-Lorraine by France, and the spirit and hope of a "revanche" thereby engendered. But this antagonism has long ceased to be the chief factor that moulds European armaments.
Were it not for British policy, and the unhealthy hope it proffers, France would ere this have resigned herself, as the two provinces have done, to the solution imposed by the War of 1870. It is England and English ambition that beget the state of mind responsible for the enormous growth of armaments that now overshadows Continental civilization. Humanity hemmed in in Central Europe by a forest of bayonets and debarred all egress to the light of a larger world by a forbidding circle of dreadnoughts, is called to Peace Conferences and Arbitration Treaties by the very Power whose fundamental maxim of rule ensures war as the normal outlook for every growing nation of the Old World.
If Europe would not strangle herself with her own hands she must strangle the Sea serpent whose coils enfold her shores.
Inspect the foundations of European armaments where we will, and we shall find that the Master Builder is he who fashioned the British Empire It is that Empire, its claim to a universal right of pre-emption to every zone and region washed by the waves and useful or necessary to the expansion of the white races, and its assertion of a right to control at will all the seas of all the world that drives the peoples of Europe into armed camps. The policy of the Boer War is being tried on a vaster scale against Europe. Just as England beat the Boers by concentration camps and not by arms, by money and not by men, so she seeks to-day to erect an armor-plate barrier around the one European people she fears to meet in the field, and to turn all Central Europe into a vast concentration camp. By use of the longest purse she has already carried this barrier well towards completion. One gap remains, and it is to make sure that this opening, too, shall be closed, that she now directs all the force of her efforts. Here the longest purse is of less avail, so England draws upon another armory. She appeals to the longest tongue in history—the longest and something else.
In order to make sure the encompassing of Europe with a girdle of steel it is necessary to circle the United States with a girdle of lies. With America true to the policy of her great founder, an America, "the friend of all Powers but the ally of none," English designs against European civilization must in the end fail. Those plans can succeed only by active American support, and to secure this is now the supreme task and aim of British stealth and skill. Every tool of her diplomacy, polished and unpolished, from the trained envoy to the boy scout and the minor poet has been tried in turn. The pulpit, the bar, the press, the society hostess, the Cabinet Minister and the Cabinet Minister's wife, the ex-Cabinet Minister and the royal family itself, and last, but not least, even "Irish Nationality"—all have been pilgrims to that shrine, and each has been carefully primed, loaded, well-aimed, and then turned full on the weak spots in the armor of republican simplicity. To the success of these resources of panic the falsification of history becomes essential and the vilification of the most peace-loving people of Europe. The past relations of England with the United States are to be blotted out, and the American people who are by blood so largely Germanic, are to be entrapped into an attitude of suspicion, hostility, and resentment against the country and race from whom they have received nothing but good. Germany is represented as the enemy, not to England's indefensible claim to own the seas, but to American ideals on the American Continent. Just as the Teuton has become the "Enemy of Civilization" in the Old World because he alone has power, strength of mind, and force of purpose to seriously dispute the British hegemony of the seas, so he is assiduously represented as the only threat to American hegemony of the New World.
This, the keynote of the attack on Germany, is sounded from every corner of the British Empire, wherever the Imperial editor, resting from the labors of the lash he wields against the colored toilers in mine or camp, directs his eyes from the bent forms of these indentured slaves of dividend to the erect and stalwart frames of the new Goths who threaten the whole framework of Imperial dividend from across the North Sea. From the Times to the obscurest news-sheet of the remotest corner of the British dominions the word has gone forth.
The Monroe Doctrine, palladium of the Anglo-Saxon World Empire, is imperilled by German ambitions and were it not for the British fleet, America would be lost to the Americans. Wherever Englishmen are gathered to-day their journals, appealing possibly to only a handful of readers, assert that the function of the British fleet is to exclude the European States, with Germany at their head, from South America, not because in itself that is a right or worthy end to pursue, but because that Continent is ear-marked for future exploitation and control by their "kinsmen" of the United States, and they need the support of those "kinsmen" in their battle against Germany.
I need quote but a single utterance from the mass of seditious libels of this character before me to show how widespread is this propaganda of falsehood and how sustained is the effort being made to poison the American mind against the only people in Europe England genuinely fears, and therefore wholeheartedly hates.
The Natal Mercury, for instance, a paper written for the little town of Durban and appealing to a population of only some 30,000 whites, in a recent issue (March, 1913), devoted a leader to the approaching "Peace Centennial" of 1914, to be held in commemoration of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the second war between Great Britain and the American people in 1814.
"After all, blood is thicker than water," quotes the Natal Journal with satisfaction, and after pointing out some latter-day indications of rapprochement between England and the United States, it goes on to proclaim the chief function of the British navy and the claim thereby established on the goodwill of America.
"We make mention of them because such incidents are likely to repeat themselves more and more frequently in that competition for naval supremacy in Europe which compels the United States to put her own fleets into working order and to join in the work that England has hitherto been obliged to perform unaided.
"It is England that polices the Seven Seas, and America has reaped no small benefits from the self-imposed task, an aspect of the matter to which every thougthful American is fully alive. There is a real and hearty recognition in the New World of the silent barrier that Great Britain has set up to what might become something more than a dream of expansion into South America on the port of one potent European State. It is, indeed, hardly too much to say that the maintenance of the Monroe Doctrine is at the present moment, almost as fully guaranteed by England as it is by the country which enunciated the policy and is the chief gainer by it. It is a case in which a silet understanding is of far greater value than a formal compact that 'would serve as a target for casual discontent on this side or that.'"
The article concludes by proclaiming "the precious permanence of an unseen bond" and the lofty and enduring worth of "good faith mutually acknowledged and the ultimate solidarity of mutual interests rightly preceived." "The ultimate solidarity" aimed at by those who direct these world-wide pronouncements is not one of mere sterile friendship between the American and the British peoples. American friendship with England is only worth having when it can be translated by world acts into enmity against Germany.
It might truly be said of the British Empire to-day that where two or three are gathered together, there hatred of Germany shall be in the midst of them. Turn where we will, from the Colonies to England, from England to her fleet, from the seas to the air, the Englishman lives and moves and has his being in an atmosphere not of love, but of hatred. And this, too, a hatred, fear and jealousy of a people who have never injured him, who have never warred upon him, and whose sole crime is that they are highly efficient rivals in the peaceful rivalry of commerce, navigation, and science.
We are told, for instance, in one of the popular London magazines for January, 1913, in an article upon the financial grievances of the British navy that were it not for Germany there would be to-day another Spithead mutiny. "Across the North Sea is a nation which some fifty years ago was so afraid of the French navy that it panicked itself into building an iron-clad fleet.
"To-day, as the second naval Power, its menace is too great for any up-to-date Spithead mutiny to come off. But the pay question was so acute that it is possibly only the Germans and their 'menace' that saved us from trouble."
But while the patriotism of the "lower deck" may have been sufficiently stout to avert this peril, the patriotism of the quarter-deck is giving us a specimen of its quality that certainly could not be exhibited in any other country in the world.
Even as I write I read in the "British Review" how Admiral Sir Percy Scott attacks Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, dubs him "the laughing-stock of the fleet," accuses him of publishing in his book, "The Betrayal," a series of "deliberate falsehoods," and concludes by saying that the gallant Admiral is "not a seaman."
And it is a fleet commanded by such Admirals as these that is to sweep the German navy from the seas!
During the Crimean War the allied British and French navies distinguished themselves by their signal failure to effect the reduction of such minor fortresses as Sveaborg, Helsingfors and the fortified lighthouses upon the Gulf of Finland. Their respective Admirals fired their severest broadsides into each other, and the bombardment of the forts was silenced by the smart interchange of nautical civilities between the two flagships. Napoleon III, who sought an explanation of this failure of his fleet, was given a reply that I cannot refrain from recommending to the British Admiralty to-day. "Well, Sire," replied the French diplomatist who knew the circumstances, "both the Admirals were old women, but ours was at least a lady." If British Admirals cannot put to sea without incurring this risk, they might, at least, take the bumboat woman with them to prescribe the courtesies of naval debate.
That England to-day loves America no one who goes to the private opinions of Englishmen, instead of to their published utterances, or the interested eulogies of their press, can for a moment believe.
The old dislike is there, the old supercilious contempt for the "Yankee" and all his ways. "God's Englishman" no more loves an American citizen now than when in 1846 he seriously contemplated an invasion of the United States and the raising of the negro-slave population against his "Anglo-Saxon kinsmen."
To-day when we near so much of the Anglo-Saxon Alliance it may be well to revert to that page of history. For it will show us that if a British Premier to-day can speak as Mr. Asquith did on December 16th, 1912, in his reference to the late American Ambassador as "a great American and a kinsman," one "sprung from a common race, speaking our own language, sharing with us by birth as by inheritance not a few of our most cherished traditions and participating when he comes here by what I may describe as his natural right in our domestic, interests and celebrations," then this new-found kinship takes its birth not in a sense of common race, indeed, but in a very common fear of Germany.
In the year 1846, the British army was engaged in robbing the Irish people of their harvest in order that the work of the famine should be complete and that the then too great population of Ireland should be reduced within the limits "law and order" prescribed, either by starvation or flight to America.
Fleeing in hundreds of thousands from the rule of one who claimed to be their Sovereign, expelled in a multitude exceeding the Moors of Spain, whom a Spanish King shipped across the seas with equal pious intent, the fugitive Irish Nation found friendship, hope and homes in the bosom of the great Celtic Republic of the West. All that was denied to them in their own ancient land they here found in a new Ireland growing up across the Atlantic.
And the hate of England pursued them here and those who dared to give them help and shelter. The United States were opening wide their arms to receive the stream of Irish fugitives and were saying very harsh things of England's infamous rule in Ireland. This could not be brooked. England in those days had not invented the Anglo-Saxon theory of mankind, and a united Germany had not then been born to vex the ineptitude of her statesmen or to profit from the shortcomings of her tradesmen.
So the greatest ministers of Queen Victoria seriously comtemplated war with America and naturally looked around for someone else to do the fighting. The Duke of Wellington hoped that France might be played on, just as in a later day a later minister seeks to play France in a similar role against a later adversary. The Mexicans, too, might be induced to invade the Texan frontier. But a greater infamy than this was seriously planned. Again it is an Irishman who tells the story and shows us how dearly the English loved their trans-Atlantic "kinsmen" when there was no German menace to threaten nearer home.
Writing from Carlsruhe, on January 26th, 1846, to his friend, Alexander Spencer, in Dublin, Charles Lever said:
"As to the war the Duke says he could smash the Yankees, and ought to do so while France is in her present humor and Mexico opens the road to invasion, from the South—not to speak of the terrible threat that Napier uttered, that with two regiments of infantry and a field battery he'd raise the slave population in the United States."
The infamy of this suggestion cannot be surpassed. The brilliant soldier who conceived it was the chivalrous Englishman who conquered Scinde, one of the chief glories of the Britannic hierarchy of soldier-saints.
The Government planning it was that of the late Queen Victoria with the Duke of Wellingtons advice, and the people against whom the black slave millions were to be loosed were the "kith and kin" of those meditating this atrocious form of massacre. Truly, as an old Irish proverb, old even in the days of Henry VIII, put it, "the pride of France, the treason of England and the warre of Irelande shall never have end."
As a latter-day witness of that treason, one who had suffered it and knew it from birth to the prison cell, a dead Irishman speaks to us from the grave. Michael Davitt, in a letter to Morrison Davidson, on August 27th, 1902, thus summed up in final words what every Irishman feels in his heart:
"The idea of being ruled by Englishmen is to me the chief agony of existence. They are a nation without faith, truth or conscience, enveloped in a panoplied pharasaism and an incurable hypocrisy. Their moral appetite is fed on falsehood. They profess Christianity and believe only in Mammon. They talk of liberty while ruling India and Ireland against the principles of a constitution, professed as a political faith, but prostituted to the interests of class and landlord rule."
Have Englishmen in less than two generations substituted love for the hate that Napier, Wellington, and the Queens Ministers felt and expressed in 1846 for the people of the United States? Is it love to-day of America or fear of someone else that impels to the "Arbitration Treaties" and the celebration of the "Hundred Years of Peace?"
The Anglo-American "Peace Movement" was to be but the first stage in an "Anglo-Saxon Alliance," intended to limit and restrict all further world changes, outside of certain prescribed Continental limits, to these two peoples alone on the basis of a new "Holy Alliance," whose motto should be "Beati possidentes."
Since England and America, either in fact or by reservation enjoy almost all the desirable regions of the earth, why not bring about a universal agreement to keep every one in his right place, to stay "just as we are," and to kindly refer all possible differences to an "International Tribunal?"
Once again the British Bible was thrown into the scale and the unrighteousness of Germany, who did not see her way to join in the psalm singing, was exposed in a spirit of bitter resignation and castigated with an appropriate selection of texts. The Hague Tribunal would be so much nicer than a war of armaments! With no reckless rivalries of naval and military expenditure there could be no question of the future of mankind.
An idyllic peace would settle down upon the nations, contentedly possessing each its own share of the good things of life, and no questionable ambitions would be allowed to disturb the buying and selling of the smaller and weaker peoples. The sincerity of the wish for universal arbitration can be best shown by England when she, or any of the Powers to whom she appeals, will consent to submit the claim of one of the minor peoples she or they hold in subjection to the Hague Tribunal. Let France admit Madagascar, Siam, or her latest victim, Morocco, to the franchise of the Court. Let Russia agree to Poland or Finland seeking the verdict of this bench of appeal. Let England plead her case before the same high moral tribunal and allow Ireland, Egypt, or India to have the law of her. Then, and not until then, the world of little States and beaten peoples may begin to believe that the Peace Crusade has some foundation in honor and honesty—but not till then. Germany has had the straightforwardness and manliness to protest that she is still able to do her own shooting and that what she holds she will keep, by force if need be and what she wants she will, in her own sure time, take, and by force, too, if need be. Of the two cults, the latter is the simpler, sincerer, and certainly the less dishonest.
Irish-American, linked with German-American keen-sighted hostility did the rest. The rivalry of Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Taft aided, and the effort (for the time at any rate), has been wrecked, thereby plunging England into a further paroxysm of religious despondency and grave concern for German morals. This mood eventuated in Lord Haldane's "week-end" trip to Berlin. The voice was the voice of Jacob, in spite of the hand of Esau. Mr. Churchill, at Glasgow, showed the real hand and the mess of pottage so amiably offered at Berlin bought no German birthright. The Kreuz-Zeitung rightly summed up the situation by pointing out that "Mr. Churchill's testimony can now be advanced as showing that the will of England alone comes in question as the exponent of peace, and that England for many years past has consciously assumed the role of an absolute and perfectly arbitrary judge of war and peace. It seems to us all the more significant that Mr. Churchill proposes also in the future to control, with the help of the strong navies of the Dominions, the trade and naval movements of all the Powers on the face of the earth—that is to say. his aim is to secure a world monopoly for England." There has never been any other thought in the English mind. As I said in part I of this paper. "British interests are first the control of all the seas of all the world in full military and commercial control. If this be not challenged peace is permitted; to dispute it seriously means war.
Germany is driven by necessity to dispute it seriously and to overcome it. She cannot get out to play her part in world life, nay, she cannot hope to ultimately maintain herself at home until that battle has been fought and won.
Arrangements with England, detentes, understandings, call them what you will, are merely parleys before the light. The assault must be delivered, the fortress carried, or else Germany and with her, Europe, must resign the mission of the white races and hand over the government and future of the world to one chosen people.
Europe reproduces herself yearly at the present time at the rate of about five million souls. Some three-fifths of this number are to-day absorbed into the life of the Continent, the balance go abroad and principally to North America, to swell the English-speaking world. Germany controls about one-fifth of Europe's natural annual increase, and realizing that emigration to-day means only to lose her people and build up her antagonist's strength, she has for years now striven to keep her people within German limits, and hitherto with successful results far in excess of any achieved by other European States. But the limit must be reached, and that ere many years are past. Where is Germany to find the suitable region, both on a scale and under conditions of climate, health and soil that a people of say 90,000,000 hemmed in a territory little larger than France, will find commensurate to their needs? No other European people is in such plight.
Russia has the immense and healthy world of Siberia, into which to overflow. France, far from needing outlets, increases not at all, and during 1911 showed an excess of close on 40,000 deaths over births. For France the day of greatness is past. A French Empire, in any other sense than the Roman one of commercial and military exploitation of occupied territories and subjugated peoples is gone forever.
France has no blood to give except in war. French blood will not colonize even the Mediterranean littoral. Italy is faced with something of the same problem as Germany, but to a lesser extent. Her surplus population already finds a considerable outlet in Argentina and Southern Brazil, among peoples, institutions, and language largely approximating to those left behind. While Italy has, indeed, need, of a world policy as well as Germany, her ability to sustain a great part abroad cannot be compared to that of the Teutonic people. Her claim is not so urgent; her need not so insistent, her might inadequate.
The honesty and integrity of the German mind, the strength of the German intellect, the skill of the German hand and brain, the justice and vigor of German law. the intensity of German culture, science, education and social development, these need a great and healthy field for their beneficial display, and the world needs these things more than it needs the British mastery of the seas. The world of European life needs to-day, as it needed in the days of a decadent Roman world empire, the coming of another Goth, the coming of the Teuton. The interposing island in the North Sea alone intervenes. How to surmount that obstacle, how to win the freedom of the "Seven Seas" for Europe must be the supreme issue for Germany.
If she fails she is doomed to sterility. The supreme test of German genius, of German daring, of German discipline, of Hohenzollern Kingship and imagination lies there.
Where Louis XIV, the Directory, and Napoleon failed, will the heir of Karl the Great see clearly?
And then, when that great hour has struck, will Germany, will Europe, produce the statesman-soldier who shall see that the key to ocean freedom lies in that island beyond an island, whose very existence Europe has forgotten?Till that key is cut from the Pirate's girdle, Germany may win a hundred Austerlitzes on the Vistula, the Dnieper, the Loire, but until she restores that key to Europe, to paraphrase Pitt, she may "roll up that map of the world; it will not be wanted these fifty years."
(Written in March, 1913.)
The foregoing reflections and the arguments drawn from them were penned before the outbreak of the war between Turkey and the Balkan Allies.
That war is still undecided as I write (March, 19 13), but whatever its precise outcome may be, it is clear that the doom of Turkey as a great power is sealed, and that the complications of the Near East will, in future, assume an entirely fresh aspect. Hitherto, there was always the possibility that Germany might find at least a commercial and financial outlet in the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan. There was even the possibility, had Turkey held together, that England, to mitigate pressure elsewhere, would have conceded to an expanding and insistent Germany a friendly interest and control in Asia Minor. It is true that the greatest possible development, and under the most favored conditions of German interests in that region, could not have met the needs or satisfied the ever increasing necessities of Teutonic growth; but at least it would have offered a safety valve, and could have involved preoccupations likely to deflect the German vision, for a time, from the true path to greatness, the western highways of the sea.
An occupation or colonization of the Near East by the Germanic peoples could never have been a possible solution under any circumstances of the problem that faces German statesmanship. As well talk of reviving the Frank Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The occupation by the fair-haired peoples of the Baltic and North Seas of the lands of Turk and Tartar, of Syrian and Jew, of Armenian and Mesopotamian, was never a practical suggestion or one to be seriously contemplated. "East is East and West is West," sings the poet of Empire, and Englishmen cannot complain if the greatest of Western peoples, adopting the singer, should apply the dogma to themselves. Germany, indeed, might have looked for a considerable measure of commercial dominance in the Near East, possibly for a commercial protectorate such as France applies to Tunis and Algeria, and hopes to apply to Morocco, or such as England imposes on Egypt, and this commercial predominance could have conferred considerable profits on Rhenish industries and benefited Saxon industrialism, but it could never have done more than this. A colonization of the realms of Bajazet and Saladin by the fair-skinned peoples of the North, or the planting of Teutonic institutions in the Valley of Damascus, even with the benevolent neutrality of England, is a far wilder dream (and one surely no German statesman ever entertained), than a German challenge to the sea supremacy of England.
The trend of civilized man in all great movements since modern civilization began, has been from East to West, not from West to East. The tide of the peoples moved by some mysterious impulse from the dawn of European expansion has been towards the setting sun. The few movements that have taken place in the contrary direction have but emphasized the universality of this rule, from the days of the overthrow of Rome, if we seek no earlier date. The Crusades furnished, doubtless, the classic example. The later contrary instance, that of Russia towards Siberia, scarcely, if at all, effects the argument, for there the Russian overflow is filling up Northern rather than Eastern lands, and the movement involves to the Russian emigrant no change of climate, soil, law, language or environment, while that emigrant himself belongs, perhaps, as much to Asia as to Europe.
But whatever value to German development the possible chances of expansion in the Near East may have offered before the present Balkan War, those chances to-day. as the result of that war, scarcely exist. It is, probably the perception of this outcome of the victory of the Slav States that has influenced and accelerated the characteristic change of English public opinion that has accompanied with shouts of derision the dying agonies of the Turk. "In matters of mind," as a recent English writer says in the Saturday Review, "the national sporting instinct does not exist. The English public invariably backs the winner." And just as the English public invariably backs the winner, British policy invariably backs the anti-German, or supposedly anti-German side in all world issues. "What 191 2 seems to have effected is a vast aggrandizement of the Slavonic races in their secular struggle against the Teutonic races. Even a local and temporary triumph of Austria over Servia cannot conceal the fact that henceforth the way Southeast to the Black Sea and the Ægean Sea is barred to the Germans."
That is the outstanding fact that British public opinion perceives with growing pleasure from the breakup of Turkey.
No matter where the dispute or what the purpose of conflict may be, the supreme issue for England is "Where is Germany?"
Against that side the whole weight of Great Britain will, openly or covertly, be thrown. German expansion in the Near East has gone by the board, and in its place the development of Greek naval strength in the Mediterranean, to take its stand by the Triple Entente, comes to be jauntily considered, while the solid wedge of a Slav Empire or Federation, commanding in the near future 2,000,000 of armed men, is agreeably seen to be driven across Southeastern Europe between Austro-German efforts and the fallow lands of Asia Minor. These latter can safely be left in Turkish hands yet a while longer, until the day comes for their partition into "spheres of influence;" just as Persia and parts of China are to-day being apportioned between Russia and England. This happy consummation, moreover, has fallen from heaven. aid Turkey is being cut up for the further extension of British interests clearly by the act of God.
The victory of the Balkan States becomes another triumph for the British Bible; it is the victory of righteousness over wrongdoing.
The true virtue of the Balkan "Christians" lies in the possibility of their being moulded into an anti-German factor of great weight in the European conflict clearly impending, and in their offering a fresh obstacle, it is hoped, to German world policy.
Let us first inspect the moral argument on the lips of its professors. We are assured, by it, that the claim of the Balkan allies to expel Turkey from Europe rests upon a just and historic basis.
Briefly stated it is that the Turk has held his European provinces by a right or conquest only. What the sword took, the sword may take away. When the sword was struck from the Ottoman's grasp his right to anything it had given him fell, too. Thus Adrianople—a city he has held for over five hundred years—must be given up to a new conqueror, to a conqueror who never owned it in the past and who certainly has far less moral claim to be there to-day than the descendants of Selim's soldiers.
But the moral argument brings strange revenges.
If Turkey has no right to Adrianople, to Thrace—"right of the sword to be shattered by the sword"—what right has England to Ireland, to Dublin, to Cork? She holds Ireland by exactly the same title as that by which Turkey has hitherto held Macedonia, Thrace, Salonica—a right of invasion, of seizure, of demoralization. If Turkey's rights, nearly six hundred years old, can be shattered in a day by one successful campaign, and if the Powers of Europe can insist, with justice, that this successful sword shall outweigh the occupation of centuries, then, indeed, have the Powers, led by England, furnished a precedent in the Near East which the victor in the next great struggle should not be slow to apply to the Near West, when a captive Ireland shall be rescued from the hands of a conqueror whose title is no better, indeed, somewhat worse than that of Turkey to Macedonia. And when the day of defeat shall strike for the Turkey of the Near West, then shall an assembled Europe remember the arguments of 1912—13 and a freed Ireland shall be justified on the very grounds England to-day has been the first to advance against a defeated Turkey.
"But the Turk is an Asiatic." say the English Bashaws: to which, indeed, Europe might aptly reply, "and are the English European or non-European?" The moral argument and the "Asiatic argument" are strange texts for the desecrator of Christian Ireland to appeal to against that continent which she would fain hem in with Malayan and Indian battleships and Canadian and Australasian dreadnoughts. Not the moral argument, but the anti-German argument, furnishes the real ground for the changed British attitude in the present war.
The moral failure of Turkey, her inability to govern her Christian peoples, is only the pretext; but just as the moral argument brings its strange revenges and shows an Ireland that has suffered all that Macedonia has suffered, and this at the hands of Christians, and not of Moslems, so the triumph of the Balkan Allies, far from benefiting Britain, must, in the end, react to her detriment.
The present apparent injury to German interests by the closing of Southeastern Europe and the road to Asia Minor, will inevitably force Germany to still more resolutely face the problem of opening the western seaways. To think otherwise is to believe that Germany will accept a quite impossible position tamely and without a struggle.
Hemmed in by Russia on the East and the New Southern Slav states on the South East, with a vengeful France being incited on her Western frontier to fresh dreams of conquest, Germany sees England preparing still mightier armaments to hold and close the seaways of the world. The Canadian naval vote, the Malayan "gift" of a battleship, come as fresh rivets in the chain forged for the perpetual binding of the seas, or it might more truly be said, for the perpetual binding of the hands of the German people.
We read in a recent periodical how these latest naval developments portend the coming of the day when "the Imperial navy shall keep the peace of the seas as a policeman does the peace of the streets. The time is coming when a naval war (except by England), will be as relentlessly suppressed as piracy on the high seas." (Review of Reviews, December, 1912.)
The naive arrogance of this utterance is characteristically English. It is, after all, but the journalistic echo of the Churchill Glasgow speech and the fullest justification of the criticism of the Kreuz-Zeitung already quoted. It does not stand alone; it could be paralleled in the columns of any ordinary English paper—Liberal as much as Conservative—every day in the week. Nothing is clearer than that no Englishman can think of other nations save in terms of permanent inferiority. Thus, for instance, in a November, (1912), issue of the Daily News we find a representative Englishman (Sir R. Edgcumbe), addressing that Liberal journal in words that no one but an Englishman would dream of giving public utterance to. Sir R. Edgcumbe deprecated a statement that had gone round to the effect that the Malayan battleship was not a free gift of the toiling Tamils, Javanese, Chinese, and other rubber workers who make up, with a few Malays, the population of that peninsula, but was really the fruit of an arbitrary tax imposed on these humble but indifferent Asiatics by their English administration.
Far from being indifferent, Sir R. Edgcumbe asserted these poor workers nourished a reverence "bordering on veneration" for the Englishman. "This is shown in a curious way by their refusing to call any European 'a white man' save the Englisman alone. The German trader, the Italian, the Frenchman and all are, in their speech, 'colored men.'"
After this appreciation of themselves the English cannot object to the present writer's view that they are non-Europeans.
Thus, while the Eastern question is being settled while I write, by the expulsion of the Turk from Europe, England, who leads the cry in the name of Europe, is preparing the exclusion of Europe from all world affairs that can be dominated by sea power. Lands and peoples held for centuries by Turkey by a right not less moral than that by which England has held Ireland, are being forcibly restored to Europe. So be it.
With the settlement of the Eastern question by this act of restitution Europe must inevitably gain the clarity of vision to deal with the Western question by a similar act of restoration.
The Western Macedonia must go the way of its Eastern fellow. Like those of the Orient, the problems of the Occident for Europe are two-fold—a near Western and a far Western question. Ireland, keeper of the seas, constitutes for Europe the near Western question.
The freedom of those seas and their opening to all European effort alike on equal terms constitutes the far Western question. But in both cases the antagonist of Europe, the non-European power is the same. The challenge of Europe must be to England, and the champion of Europe must be and can be only Germany. No other European people has the power, the strength of mind, of purpose, and of arm to accomplish the great act of deliverance. Europe, too long blinded to her own vital interests while disunited, must now, under the guidance of a united Germany, resolutely face the problem of freeing the seas.
THAT WAR OF THE SEAS IS INEVITABLE. It maybe fought on a Continent; it may be waged in the air—it must be settled on the seas and it must mean either the freeing of those seas or the permanent exclusion of Europeans from the affairs of the world. It means for Europe the future, the very existence of European civilization as opposed to the Anglo-Saxon world dominion. In that war, Germany will stand not alone as the champion of Europe, she will fight for the freedom of the world.
As an Irishman, I have no fear of the result to Ireland from a German triumph. I pray for it; for with the coming of that day the "Irish Question," so dear to British politicians, becomes a European, a world question.
With the humbling of Great Britain and the destruction of her sea ownership, European civilization assumes anew stature, and Ireland, oldest and yet youngest of the European peoples, shall enter into free partnership with the civilization, culture, and prosperity that that act of liberation shall bring to mankind.
(Written in November-December, 1913.)
It is only the truth that wounds. An Irishman to-day in dealing with Englishmen is forced, if he speak truly, to wound. That is why so many Irishmen do not speak the truth. The Irishman, whether he be a peasant, a farm laborer, however low in the scale of Anglicization he may have sunk is still in imagination, if not always in manner, a gentleman.
The Englishman is a gentleman by chance, by force of circumstance, by luck of birth, or some rare opportunity of early fellowship. The Irishman is a gentleman by instinct and shrinks from wounding the feelings of another man and particularly of the man who has wounded him. He scorns to take it out of him that way. That is why the task of misgoverning him has been so easy and has come so naturally to the Englishman. One of the chief grievances of the Irishman in the middle ages was that the man who robbed him was such a boor. Insult was added to injury in that the oppressor was no knight in shining armor, but a very churl of men; to the courteous and cultured Irishman a "bodach Sassenach" a man of low blood, of low cunning, caring only for the things of the body, with no veneration for the things of the spirit—with, in fine, no music in his soul. The things that the Irishman loved he could not conceive of. Without tradition or history himself he could not comprehend the passionate attachment of the Irishman to both, and he proceeded to wipe both out, so far as in him lay, from off the map of Ireland and from out the Irishman's consciousness.
Having, as he believed, with some difficulty accomplished his task, he stands to-day amazed at the result. The Irishman has still a grievance—nay, more, Ireland talks of "wrongs." But has she not got him? What more can she want—except his purse? And, that too, she is now taking. In the indulgence of an agreeable self-conceit which supplies for him the want of imagination he sees Ireland to-day as a species of "sturdy beggar,"—half mendicant, half pickpocket—making off with the proceeds of his hard day's work. The past slips from him as a dream. Has he not for years now, well, for thirty years, certainly, a generation, a lifetime, done all in his powerto meet the demands of this incessant country that more in sorrow than in anger he will grant you, was misgoverned in the past. That was its misfortune, never his fault. This is a steadily recurring phase of the fixed hallucination in his blood. Ireland never is, but only always has been cursed by English rule. He, himself, the Englishman of the day, is always a simple, bluff, goodhearted fellow. His father, if you like, his grandfather very probably, misgoverned Ireland, but never he himself. Why, just look at him now, his hand never out of his pocket relieving the shrill cries of Irish distress. There she stands, a poverty stricken virago at his door, shaking her bony fist at him, Celtic porter in her eye, the most fearful apparition in history, his charwoman, shaming him before the neighbors and demanding payment for long past spring cleanings that he, good soul, has forgotten all about or is quite certain were settled at the time. Yes, there she stands, the Irish charwoman, the old broom in her hand and preparing for one last clean sweep that shall make the house sweet and fit for her own children. And John Bull, honest, sturdy John Bull, believing the house to be his, thinks that the only thing between him and the woman is a matter of wages; that all she wants is an extra shilling. Ireland wants but one thing in the world. She wants her house to herself and the stranger out of the house.
While he is, in his heart, perfectly aware of this, John Bull (for the reasons given by Richard Cox), is quite determined that nothing shall get him out of the house. "Separation is unthinkable"' say English Ministers. The task of Ireland is to-day what it always has been—to get the stranger out of the house. It is no shame to Ireland, or her sons, that up to this they have failed in each attempt. Those attempts are pillars of fire in her history, beacons of light in the desert of Sin, where the Irish Israel still wanders in search of the promised land. Few of the peoples of Europe who to-day make up the Concert of Powers have, unaided, expelled the invader who held them down, and none has been in the situation of Ireland.
As Mr. Gladstone wrote in 1890, "can anyone say we should have treated Ireland as we have done had she lain not between us and the ocean, but between us and Europe?"
In introducing the scheme of mild Home Rule termed the Councils Bill in 1907, Mr. Birrell prefaced it with the remark that "separation was unthinkable—save in the event of some world cataclysm." World cataclysms up to this have not reached Ireland—England intervened to well. She has maintained her hold by sea power. The lonely Andromeda saw afar off the rescuing Perseus, a nude figure on the coast of Spain or France, but long ere his flight reached her rock-bound feet she beheld him fall, bruised, mangled, and devoured by the watching sea monster.
Had Italy been placed as Ireland is, cut off from all external succor save across a sea held by a relentless jailer, would she have been to-day a free people, ally of Austria on terms of high equality?
The blood shed by the founders of modern Italy would all have been shed in vain—that blood that sanctified the sword of Garabaldi—had it not been for the selfish policy of Louis Napoleon and the invading armies of France. Italy, no more than Ireland, could have shaken herself free had it not been for aid from abroad. The late Queen Victoria saw clearly the parallel, and as hereditary custodian of Ireland, Her Majesty protested against the effort then being made to release Italy from an Austrian prison, when she herself was so hard put to it to keep Ireland in an English jail. Writing to her Prime Minister on July 25th, 1848, Her Majesty said: "The Queen must tell Lord John (Russel) what she has repeatedly told Lord Palmerston, but without apparent effect, that the establishment of an entente cordiale with the French Republic for the purpose of driving the Austrians out of their dominions in Italy would be a disgrace to this country. That the French would attach the greatest importance to it and gain the greatest advantage from it, there can be no doubt of. But how will England appear before the world at the moment she is struggling to maintain her supremacy in Ireland; * * *" and on October 10th, following, her Majesty wrote to her uncle, the first King of the Belgians (who owed his new-minted crown to the Belgian people depriving the Dutch sovereign of his "lawful possessions'") in the following memorable words:
"Really it is quite immoral, with Ireland quivering in our grasp and ready to throw off her allegiance at any moment, for us to force Austria to give up her lawful possessions. What shall we say if Canada, Malta, &c, begin to trouble us? It hurts me terribly." (Page 237, Queen Victoria's letters, published by order of His Majesty, King Edward VII).
It hurt Ireland much more terribly, that failure to throw off the hand that held her "quivering in our grasp," so soon to stretch her "a corpse upon the dissecting table."
Ireland has failed to win her freedom, not so much because she has failed to shed her blood, but because her situation in the world is just that unique situation I have sought to depict. Belonging to Europe, she has not been of Europe; and England with a persistency that would be admirable were it not so criminal in intention and effect, has bent all her efforts, all her vigor, an unswerving policy and a pitiless sword to extend the limits of exclusion. To approach Ireland at all since the first English Sovereign laid hands upon it was "quite immoral." When Frederick of Hohenstaufen (so long ago as that!) sent his secretary (an Irishman) to Ireland, we read that Henry III of England declared "it hurt him terribly," and ordered all the goings out and comings in of the returned Irish-German statesman to be closely watched.
The dire offence of Hugh O'Neill to Elizabeth was far less his rebellion than his "practices" with Spain. At every cessation of arms during the Nine Years War he waged with England, she sought to obtain from him an abjuration of "foreign aid," chiefly " that of the Spaniard." "Nothing will become the traitor (O'Neill) more than his public confession of any Spanish practices, and his abjuration of any manner of hearkening or combining with any foreigners."
Could O'Neill be brought to publicly repudiate help from abroad it would have, the Queen thought, the effect that "in Spain * * * the hopes of such attempts might be extinguished.
As long as the sea was open to Spain there was grave danger. If Spaniard and Irishman came close together O'Neill's offense was indeed "fit to be made vulgar"—all men would see the strength of combination, the weakness of isolation.
"Send me all the news you receive from Spain for Tyrone doth fill all these parts with strange lies, although some part be true, that there came some munition." It was because O'Neill was a statesman and knew the imperative need to Ireland of keeping in touch with Europe that for Elizabeth he became "the chief traitor of Ireland"—"a reprobate from God, reserved for the sword."
Spain was to Elizabethan Englishman what Germany is to-day.
"I would venture to say one word here to my Irish fellow countrymen of all political persuasions. If they imagine they can stand politically or economically while Britain falls they are woefully mistaken. The British fleet is their one shield. If it be broken, Ireland will go down. They may well throw themselves heartily into the common defense, for no sword can transfix England without the point reaching Ireland behind her." (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in the Fortnightly Review, February, 1913, "Great Britain and the Next War.")
The voice is a very old one, and the bogey has done duty for a long time in Ireland. When to-day, it is from Germany that freedom may be feared, Ireland is warned against the Germans. When, three hundred years ago the beacon of hope shone on the coast of Spain, it was the Spaniards who were the bad people of history.
Fray Mattheo de Oviedo, who had been sent to Ireland as Archbishop, wrote to King Phillip III from O'Neill's stronghold, Dungannon, on June 24th, 1600. We might be listening to the voice of the Fortnightly Review of yesterday. "The English are making great efforts to bring about a peace, offering excellent terms, and for this purpose the Viceroy sent messengers twice to O'Neill, saying, among other things, that Your Majesty is making peace with the Queen, and that his condition will be hopeless. At other times he says that no greater misfortune could happen to the country than to bring Spaniards into it, because they are haughty and vicious and they would destroy and ruin the country." The Irish princes were no fools. "To all this they reply most honorably that they will hold out so long as they have one soldier or there remains a cow to eat."
Hugh O'Neill saw clearly that all compromise between Ireland and England was futile, and that the way of escape was by complete separation and lay only through Europe. He again and again begged the Spanish King to sever Ireland and erect it into an allied State. He offered the crown of Ireland to a Spanish prince, just as three centuries earlier in 1315 another and a great O'Neill offered the crown of Ireland to Edward Bruce.
The coming of the Bruce saved Gaelic Ireland for three centuries. Had Phillip of Spain sent his son as King to Ireland, her fate had been settled then instead of remaining three centuries later to still confront European statesmanship with an unsolved problem. In many letters addressed by the Irish leaders to Phillip II and Phillip III we find the constantly recurring note of warning that to leave England in possession of Ireland meant the downfall of Spain. The Irish princes knew that in fighting England they were in truth fighting the battle of European civilization.
Writing to Phillip II from Lifford. on May 16th, 1596, O'Neill and O'Donnel drew the King's attention to the cause of Ireland as the cause of Europe, and in the name of Ireland offered the crown to a Spanish Prince. "But inasmuch as we have felt, to our great and indescribable harm the evildoings and crimes of those whom the Queen of England is in the habit of sending amongst us, we beg and beseech Your Majesty to send someone well known to you and perfectly fit to be the King of this island, for his own welfare, ours. and that of the Christian State"' (Christendom).
They asked for a Prince "who will not be unwilling to rule over and live amongst us and to direct and guide our nation well and wisely." They pointed out how "he will obtain much advantage and glory by so doing," and finally they begged "would that your Majesty would appoint the Archduke of Austria, now Governor of Flanders, a famous man and worthy of all praise, than whom none would be more acceptable." (The original is in Latin in the archives of Simancas.)
No more statesmanlike appeal was ever made from Ireland; and had the Archduke of Austria assumed the crown of Ireland in 1569, "now or never" would indeed have become "now and forever." Had Phillip II carried out his often repeated promises of sending aid to that country the fate of his own kingdom must have been a very different one.
"I wish it were possible for me, by word of mouth, to show the importance of this undertaking and the great service that would be rendered thereby to God and His Church, and the great advantage it would he to the service of Your Majesty and the peace of your States to attack the enemy here."
So wrote, in 1600, to Phillip III, the Archbishop of Dublin, already quoted Mattheo de Oviedo.
This prelate had been specially sent to Ireland "to see and understand the state of the country misrepresented by English emissaries at foreign courts."
The wrath of Elizabeth against O'Neill was largely due to his keeping in touch with the Continent, whereby the lies of her agents abroad were turned to her own ridicule. To Essex, her viceroy, she wrote: "Tyrone hath blazed in foreign parts the defeat of regiments, the death of captains, and loss of men of quality in every quarter."
O'Neill, not only for years beat her Generals in the field, he beat herself and her councillors at their own game. To Essex, in an ecstacy of rage at the loss of the last great army sent, she wrote (September 17th, 1599): "To trust this traitor upon oath is to trust the devil upon his religion. Only this we are sure (for we see it in effect), that you have prospered so ill for us by your warfare, as we cannot but be very jealous lest we should be as well overtaken by the treaty."
(Essex wished to bring O'Neill in by a treaty which, while ostensibly conceding the terms of the Irish Prince, was to allow the Queen time to carry out her purpose.)
The Irish Princes knew Elizabeth and her Ministers, as well as she read Essex. "Believe no news from England of any agreement in this country," they had written to Phillip II in 1597, "great offers have been made by the Queen of England, but we will not break our oath and promise to you.'" In a letter written a year earlier (October 16th, 1596), replying by the special envoy sent by the King, they said: "Since the former envoys left us we have used every means in our power, as we promised we should do, to gain time and procrastination from one day to another. * * * But how could we impose on so clever an enemy, so skilled in every kind of cunning and cheating if we did not use much dissimulation, and especially if we did not pretend we were anxious for peace? We will keep firm and unshaken the promises which we made to Your Majesty with our last breath; if we do not we shall incur at once the wrath of God and the contempt of men."
How faithfully they kept those promises and how the Spanish King failed in his, their fate and the bitter ruin of their country shows. That men fighting for Ireland, had to meet Elizabeth and her statesmen with something of her own cunning is made very clear to anyone reading the English State papers in Ireland.
Essex, in one of his "answers," wrote: "I advise Her Majesty to allow me, at my return to Dublin, to conclude this treaty, yealding some of their grants in the present: and when Her Majesty has made secret preparations to enable me to prosecute, I will find quarrels enough to break and give them a deadly blow."
The Irish, however, failed in this contest. They were not sufficiently good liars, and lacked the higher flights of villainy necessary to sustain the encounter. The essential English in Tudor days, and much later, for administering a deadly blow to an Irish patriot was "assassination." Poison frequently took the place of the knife, and was often administered wrapt in a leaf of the British Bible. A certain Atkinson, knowing the religious nature of Cecil, the Queen's Prime Minister, the founder of a long line of statesmen foremost as champions of Church and Book, suggested the getting rid of O'Neill by some "poisoned hosts." This proposal to use the Blessed Sacrament as a veritable Last Supper for the last great Irish chief remains on record, endorsed by Cecil.
Another Briton, named Annyas, was charged to poison "the most dangerous and open rebel in Minister," Florence MacCarthy More, the great MacCarthy. Elizabeth's Prime Minister piously endorsed the deed—"though his soul never had the thought to consent to the poisoning of a dog, much less a Christian."
The fundamental characteristics of the two peoples, English and Irish, were perhaps never more sharply brought into contrast than in some of these measures adopted by an English Queen and her Ministers to get rid of an Irish enemy. The Earl of Ormonde, the Queen suggested, might aid one of her projects for getting rid of Shane O'Neill. Ormonde, although the head of an Anglo-Irish house, conspicuous for its loyalty to the Crown, had four centuries of Irish chivalry in his veins. His reply is on record, and as a warrant of Irish honor, it stands beside Burghley's warrant to his English poisoner. "The clause in the Queen's letter seems most strange to me. I will never use treachery to any, for it will both touch Her Highness's honor too much, and mine own credit; and whosoever gave the Queen advice thus to write to me is fitter to execute such base services than I am." The Irish blood will out—even in a butler.
To Carew, the President of Munster, Cecil wrote enjoining the assassination of the young Earl of Desmond, then "in the keeping of Carew": "Whatever you do to abridge him out of Providence shall never be imputed to you for a fault, but exceedingly commended by the Queen." After this, we are not surprised to learn that in her instructions to Mountjoy, the successor of Essex, the Queen "recommended to his special care to preserve the true exercise of religion among her loving subjects." As O'Neill was still in the field with a large army, she prudently pointed out, however, that the time "did not permit that he should intermeddle by any severity or violence in matters of religion until her power was better established there to countenounce his action." That the character of their adversary was faithfully appreciated by contemporary Irish opinion stands plain in a letter written by James Fitzthomas, nephew of the Great Earl Gerald of Desmond, to Phillip II. "The government of the English is such as Pharaoh himself never used the like; for they content not themselves with all temporal prosperity, but by cruelty desire our blood and perpetual destruction, to blot out the whole remembrance of our posterity * * * for that Nero, in his time, was far inferior to that Queen in cruelty."
The Irish chiefs well sustained their part in meeting this combination of power and perfidy, and merited, on the highest grounds of policy the help so often promised by the King of Spain. They showed him not only by their valor on the field but by their sagacious council how great a part was reserved for Ireland in the affairs of Europe if he would but profit from it and do his part.
In this the Spanish King failed. Phillip II had died in 1598, too immersed in religious trials to see that the centre of his griefs was pivoted on the possession of Ireland by the female Nero. With his son and successor communication was maintained and in a letter of Phillip III to O'Neill, dated from Madrid. December 24th, 1599, we read: "Noble and well-beloved, I have already written a joint letter to you and your relative O'Donnell, in which I replied to a letter of both of you. By this, which I now write to you personally, I wish to let you know my goodwill towards you, and I mean, to prove it. not only by word, but by deed." That promise was not fulfilled, or so inadequately fulfilled, that the help, when it came, was insufficient to meet the needs of the case.
History tells us what the sad consequences were to the cause of civilization in Ireland, from the failure of the Spanish King to realize the greatness of his responsibilities. But the evil struck deeper than to Ireland alone. Europe lost more than her historians have yet realized from the weakness of purpose that let Ireland go down transfixed by the sword of Elizabeth.
Had the fate of Europe been then controlled by a Hohenzollern, instead of by a Habsburg Spaniard, how different might have been the future of the world!
Although Europe has forgotten Ireland, Ireland has never forgotten Europe. Natural outpost and sentinel of that Continent in the West, for three hundred years now gagged and bound, since the flight to Rome of her last native Princes, she stands to-day as in the days of Phillip III, if an outcast from European civilization none the less rejecting the insular tradition of England, as she has rejected her insular Church. And now once more in her career she turns to the greatest of European sovereigns, to win his eyes to the oldest, and certainly the most faithful of European peoples. Ireland already has given and owes much to Germany. In the dark ages intercourse between the Celtic people of the West and the Rhinelands and Bavaria was close and long sustained. Irish monasteries flourished in the heart of Germany, and German architecture gave its note possibly to some of the fairest cathedral churches in Ireland.
Clonfert and Cashel are, perhaps, among the most conspicuous examples of the influence of that old time intercourse with Germany. To-day, when little of her past remains to venerate, her ancient language on what seemed its bed of death owes much of its present day revival to German scholarship and culture. Probably the foremost Gaelic scholar of the day is the occupant of the Chair of Celtic at Berlin University, and Ireland recognizes with a gratitude she is not easily able to express, all that her ancient literature owes to the genius and loving intellect of Dr. Kuno Meyer.
The name of Ireland may be unknown on the Bourses or in the Chancelleries of Europe; it is not without interest, even fame, in the centres of German academical culture. But that the German State may also be interested in the political fate of Ireland is believed by the present writer. He knows something of the greatness of soul of her ruler, of his breadth of view and of the part he designs, under God, the German people to play in the future of mankind. The task of freeing Ireland and of restoring that exiled island to the current of European life is one worthy of the greatness and strength of the German Kaiser and his people. Where the Kings of Spain, in varying measure promised help and failed to give it. where Louis XIV and Napoleon planned but failed to achieve, a German Empire at war with England cannot be misdirected as they were. The contention of Ireland so often put before those monarchs, that England, to be beaten, must be driven out of Ireland, will not be laid in vain before the greater brains and mightier purpose that control the vaster armaments of Germany.
Maurice Fitzgerald, the outlawed claimant to the Earldom of Desmond, wrote to Phillip II from Lisbon on September 4th, 1593:
"We have thought it right to implore your Majesty to send the aid you will think fit and with it to send us (the Irish refuges in the Peninsula) to defend and uphold the same undertaking; for we hope, with God's help, your Majesty will be victorious and conquer and hold as your own the Kingdom of Ireland * * * We trust in God that Your Majesty and the Council will weigh well the advantages that will ensue to Christendom from this enterprise * * * since the opportunity is so good and the cause so just and weighty, and the undertaking so easily completed."
The task was easy of accomplishment in Tudor days; to-day it will be the first test of Imperial sovereignty in Europe; a task that will tax the greatness of a great people, the genius of their statesmanship, the intelligence of their ruler, but one that will infinitely repay the labor of accomplishment.
The task of Ireland is to prepare for the coming of the German. No people can expect freedom except through sacrifice. Our young men and women, our boys and girls, must be taught the part Germany is destined to play in the affairs of the world, and must be trained to know their duty when the day of trial comes. The history of human freedom is written in letters of blood. It is the law of God. No people who clutch at safety, who shun death are worthy of freedom. It was not by Act of Parliament or gift of the hater that Aodh O'Neill sought to win freedom for Ireland. Nay, rather will Irish liberty come as the gift of the halter.
The dead who die for Ireland are the only live men in a free Ireland. The rest is cattle. Freedom is kept alive in man's blood only by shedding of that blood. It was not an act of a foreign Parliament they were seeking, those splendid "scorners of death," the lads and young men of Mayo, who awaited with a fearless joy the English army fresh from the defeat of Humbert in 1798. Then, if ever. Irishmen might have run from a victorious and pitiless enemy who, having captured the French General and murdered in cold blood the seven hundred Killala peasants who were with his colors, were now come to Killala itself to wreak vengeance on the last stronghold of Irish rebellion.
The ill led and half armed peasants, the last Irishmen in Ireland to stand in pitched fight for their country's freedom, went to meet the army of England, as the Protestant Bishop, who saw them, says: "running upon death with as little appearance of reflection or concern as if they were hastening to a show."
The late Queen Victoria, in one of her letters to her uncle, the King of the Belgians, wrote thus of the abortive rising of fifty years later in 1848:
"There are ample means of crushing the rebellion in Ireland, and I think it is very likely to go off without any contest which people (and I think rightly), rather regret. The Irish should receive A GOOD LESSON OR THEY WILL BEGIN AGAIN." (Page 223, Vol. II., Queen Victoria's Letters). Her Majesty was profoundly right. Ireland needed that lesson in 1848, as she needs it still more to-day. Had Irishmen died in 1848 as they did in 1798 Ireland to-day would be fifty years nearer to freedom. It is because a century has passed since Europe saw Ireland willing to die that to-day Europe has forgotten that she lives.
As I began this essay with a remark of Charles Lever on Germany so shall I end it here with a remark of Lever on his own country, Ireland.
In a letter to a friend in Dublin, he thus put the epitaph of Europe on the grave of a generation who believed that "no human cause was worth the shedding one drop of human blood."
"As to Ireland all foreign sympathy is over owing to the late cowardice and poltroonery of the patriots. Even Italians can fight." (Letter of C. Lever from Florence, August 19th, 1848.)
It is only the truth that wounds. It is that reproach that has cursed Ireland for a century.
Sedition, the natural garment for an Irishman to wear, has been for a hundred years a bloodless sedition. It is this fiery shirt of Nessus that has driven our strong men mad. How to shed our blood with honor, how to give our lives for Ireland—that has been, that is the problem of Irish nationality.
The day the first German comrade lands in Ireland, the day the first German warship is seen proudly breasting the waves of the Irish Sea with the flag of Ireland at her fore, that day many Irishmen must die, but they shall die in the sure peace of God that Ireland may live.
(Written in November-December, 1913.)
It would be idle to attempt to forecast the details of a struggle between Great Britain and Germany. That is a task that belongs to the War Departments of the two States. I have assigned myself merely to point out that such a struggle is inevitable, and to indicate what I believe to be the supreme factors in the conflict and how one of these, Ireland, and that undoubtedly the most important factor has been overlooked by practically every predecessor of Germany in the effort to make good at sea. The Spaniards in Elizabeth's reign, the French of Louis XIV and of the Directory took some steps, it is true, to challenge England's control of Ireland, but instead of concentrating their strength upon that line of attack they were content to dissipate it in isolated expeditions and never once to push home the assault on the one point that was so obviously the key to the enemy's whole position. At any period during the last three centuries, with Ireland gone, England was, if not actually at the mercy of her assailants, certainly reduced to impotency beyond her own shores. But while England knew the value to herself of Ireland, she appreciated to the full the fact that this profitable juxtaposition lay on her right side, hidden from the eyes of Europe.
"Will anyone assert," said Gladstone, "that we would have dared to treat Ireland as we have done had she lain, not between us and the ocean, but between us and the Continent?" And while the bulk of England, swollen to enormous dimensions by the gains she drew from Ireland, interposed between her victim and Europe, her Continental adversaries were themselves the victims of that strange mental disease psychologists term the collective illusion. All the world saw that which, in fact, did not exist. The greatness of England, as they beheld it. imposing, powerful and triumphant, existed not on the rocky base they believed they saw, but on the object, sacked, impoverished and bled, they never saw. And so it is to-day. The British Empire is the great illusion. Resembling in much the Holy Roman Empire it is not British, it is not an Empire, and assuredly it is not holy. It lives on the lifeblood and sufferings of some, on the sufferance and mutual jealousy of others, and on the fixed illusion of all. Rather is it a great Mendicity Institute. England now, instead of "robbing from Pole to Pole," as John Mitchel once defined her activities, goes begging from Pole to Pole, that all and everyone shall give her a helping hand to keep the plunder. Chins, Goorkhas, Sikhs, Malays, Irish, Chinese, South African Dutch, Australasians, Maoris, Canadians, Japanese, and finally "Uncle Sam"—these are the main components that when skilfully mixed from London, furnish the coloring material for the world-wide canvas. If we take away India, Egypt, and the other colored races, the white population that remains is greatly inferior to the population of Germany, and instead of being a compact, indivisible whole, consists of a number of widely scattered and separated communities, each with separate and absorbing problems of its own, and more than one of them British neither in race, speech, nor affection.
Moreover, if we turn to the colored races we find that the great mass of the subjects of this Empire have less rights within it than they possess outside its boundaries, and occupy there a lower status than accorded to most foreigners.
The people of India far outnumber all other citizens of the British Empire put together, and yet we find the British Indians resident in Canada, to take but one instance, petitioning the Imperial Government in 1910 for as favorable terms of entry into that British possession as the Japanese enjoyed.
They pointed out that a Japanese could enter Canada on showing that he held from six pounds to ten pounds, but that no British Indian could land unless he had forty pounds and had come direct from India—a physical impossibility, since no direct communication exists. But they went further, for they showed that their "citizenship" of the British Empire entailed penalties that no foreign State anywhere imposed upon them.
"We appeal," they said, "and most forcibly bring to your notice that no such discriminating laws are existing against us in foreign countries like the United States of America, Germany, Japan, and Africa, to whom we do not owe any allegiance whatsoever."
So that outside its white or European races it is clear the Empire has no general or equal citizenship, and that, far from being one, it is more divided racially against itself than are even opposing Asiatic and European nations which have the good fortune not to be united in a common imperial bond.
The total white population of this incongruous mass in 1911 consisted of some 59,000,000 human beings made up of various national and racial strains, as against 66,000,000 of white men in the German Empire, the vast majority of them of German blood. And while the latter form a disciplined, self-contained, and self-supporting and self - defending whole, the former are swelled by Irish. French-Canadians, and Dutch South Africans who, according to Sir R. Edgcumbe, must be reckoned as "colored."
It is one thing to paint the map red, but you must be sure that your colors are fast and that the stock of paints won't run out. England apart from her other perplexities is now faced with this prospect. Great Britain can no longer count on Ireland, that most prolifix source of supply of her army, navy, and industrial efforts during the last century, while she is faced with a declining birth-rate, due largely, be it noted, to the diminished influx of the Irish, a more prolific and virile race. While her internal powers of reproduction are failing, her ability to keep those already born is diminishing still more rapidly. Emigration threatens to remove the surplus of births over deaths.
As long as it was only the population of Ireland that fell (8,500,000 in 1846 to 4,370,000 in 1911), Great Britain was not merely untroubled but actually rejoiced at a decrease in numbers that made the Irish more manageable, and yet just sufficiently starvable to supply her with a goodly surplus for army, navy, and industrial expansion in Great Britain. Now that the Irish are gone with a vengeance it is being perceived that they did not take their vengeance with them and that the very industrial expansion they built up from their starving bodies and naked limbs contains within itself the seeds of a great retribution.
"Since Free Trade has ruined our agriculture, our army has become composed of starving slum dwellers who, according to the German notion, are better at shouting than at fighting. German generals have pointed out that in the South African War our regular and auxiliary troops often raised the white flag and surrendered, without necessity, sometimes to a few Boers, and they may do the same to a German invading force. Free Trade which 'benefits the consumer' and the capitalist has, unfortunately, through the destruction of our agriculture and through forcing practically the whole population of Great Britain into the towns, destroyed the manhood of the nation." (Modern Germany, page 251, by J. Ellis Barker, 1907). An army of slum dwellers is a poor base on which to build the structure of a perpetual world dominion.
While the navy shows an imposing output of new battleships and cruisers for 1 913, the record, we are told, of all warship construction in the world, it takes blood as well as iron to cement empires. Battleships may become so much floating scrap iron (like the Russian fleet at Tsushima), if the men behind the guns lack the right stamina and education.
We learn, too, that it is not only the slum dwellers who are failing, but that to meet the shortage of officers a large number of transfers from the Merchant Marine to the Royal Navy are being sanctioned. To this must be added the call of the Great Dominions for men and officers to man their local fleets. As the vital resources of England become more and more inadequate to meet the menace of German naval and moral strength, she turns her eyes to Ireland, and we learn from the London Daily Telegraph that Mr. Churchill's scheme of recruiting at Queenstown may furnish "matter for congratulation, as Irish boys make excellent bluejackets, happy of disposition, amenable to discipline and extremely quick and handy."
As I can recall an article in this same journal, written during the course of the Boer War, in which Ireland was likened to a "serpent whose head must be crushed beneath the heel," the Daily Telegraph's praise to-day of the Irish disposition should leave Irish boys profoundly unmoved—and still ashore.
There is yet another aspect of the growing stream of British emigration. "Death removes the feeble, emigration removes the strong. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, have no use for the sick and palsied, or for those incapable of work through age or youth. They want the workers, and they get them. Those who have left the United Kingdom during 1912 arc not the scum of our islands, but the very pick. And they leave behind, for our politicians to grapple with, a greater proportion of females, of children, and of disabled than ever before." (London Magazine.)
The excess of females over males, already so noteworthy a feature of England's decay, becomes each year more accentuated and doubtless accounts for the strenuous efforts now being made to entrap Irish boys into the British army and navy.
If we compare the figures for Germany and Great Britain, and then contrast them with those for Ireland, we shall see, at a glance, how low England is sinking, and how vitally necessary it is for her to redress the balance of her own excess of "militants" over males by kidnapping Irish youths into her emasculated services, and by fomenting French and Russian enmities against the fruitful German people.
Germany 1910: Males 32,031,967; females, 32,871,456; total, 64.925,993. Excess of females, 739,489.
Great Britain, 1911:
England and Wales: Males, 17,448,476; females, 18,626,793; total. 36,075,269. Excess of females, 1,178,317.
Scotland: Males, 2,307,603; females, 2,451,842; total. 4,759,445. Excess of, 144,239. Total for Great Britain. 40,834,714. Excess of females, 1,322,556.
Thus. on a population much less than two-thirds that of Germany. Great Britain has almost twice as many females in excess over males as Germany has, and this disproportion of sexes tends yearly to increase. We read in every fresh return of emigration that it is men and not women who are leaving England and Scotland. That Irish emigration, appalling as its ravages have been since 1846, is still maintained on a nationally healthier basis the sex returns for 1911 make clear. The figures for Ireland at the census were as follows:
Ireland: Males. 2,186,802; females. 2,195,147; total, 4,381,951. Excess of females, 8,346.
Ireland, it is seen, can still spare 100,000 or 150,000 males for the British armed forces and be in no unhealthier sex plight than Scotland or England is in. It is to get this surplus of stout Irish brawn and muscle that Mr. Churchill and the British War Office are now touting in Ireland.
I take the following Government advertisement from the Cork Evening Echo (of March. 1913), in illustration:
"NOTICE—Any person that brings a recruit for the Regular or Special Reserve Branches of the Army to the Recruiting Officer at Victoria Barracks, Cork, will be paid the money reward allowed for each recruit, which ranges from 1s. 6d. to 5s. each."
From whatever point of view we survey it we shall find that England's Empire at bottom rests upon Ireland, and requires the continued exploitation of Ireland to make good British deficiencies. The Dominions are far off, and while they may give battleships, they take men. Ireland is close at hand—she gives all and takes nothing. Men, mind, food, and money—all these she has offered through the centuries, and it is upon these and the unrestricted drain of these four things from that rich mine of human fertility and wealth, that the British Empire has been founded and maintained. To secure to-day the goodwill and active co-operation of the Irish race abroad as well as in Ireland, and through that goodwill to secure the Alliance and support of the United States has become the guiding purpose of British statesmanship.
The Home Rule Bill of the present Liberal Government is merely the petty party expression of what all English statesmen recognize as a national need. Were the present Liberal Government thrown out to-morrow their Unionist successors would hasten to bind Ireland (and America) to them by a measure that, if necessary, would go much farther. Every Unionist knows this. Ireland is always the key to the situation.
I will quote two pronouncements, one English and one American, to show that Home Rule has now become an Imperial necessity for England.
Speaking in the House of Lords on the Home Rule Bill, Earl Grey, the late Governor General of Canada, said on January 27th, 1913:
"In the interests of the Empire I feel very strongly that it is imperative that the Irish question should be settled on lines which will satisfy the sentiment of the over-sea democracies, both in our self-governing colonies and in the United States. Every one. I think, will agree that it is most important and in the highest interests of the Empire that there should be the friendliest feelings of generous affection and goodwill, not only between the self-governing Dominions and the Motherland, but also between America and England * * *. I need not elaborate this point. We are all agreed upon it. A heavy shadow at present exists, and it arises from our treatment of Ireland * * *. If this be so, is it not our duty to remove the obstacle that prevents relationship with America from being that which we all desire?"
The American utterance came from one equally representative of American imperial interests. It is that of Mr. Roosevelt, published in the Irish World, of New York, February 8th, 1913:
"I feel that the enactment into law of this measure * * * bids fair to establish goodwill among the English-speaking peoples. This has been prevented more than by any other one thing by this unhappy feud that has raged for centuries, and the settlement of which, I most earnestly hope and believe will be a powerful contribution to the peace of the world, based on international justice and goodwill. I earnestly feel that the measure is as much in the interests of Great Britain as of Ireland."
Did we judge of Ireland only by many of the public utterances made in her name, then indeed, might we despair of a people who. having suffered so much and so valiantly resisted for so many centuries were now to be won to their oppressor's side by, perhaps, the most barefaced act of bribery ever attempted by a government against a people.
"Injured nations cannot soforgive their enemies without losing something of their virility, and it grates upon me to hear leader after leader of the Parliamentary Party declaring without shame, that Home Rule when it is won for Ireland is to be used as a new weapon of offense in England's hands against the freedom of the world elsewhere."
Did the Irish Parliamentary Party indeed represent Ireland in this, Mr. Wilfrid Blunt's noble protest in his recent work "The Land War in Ireland," would stand for the contemptuous impeachment, not of a political party but of a nation.
Mr. Redmond, in his latest speech, shows how truly Mr. Blunt has depicted his party's aim: but to the credit of Ireland it is to be recorded that Mr. Redmond had to choose not Ireland, but England for its delivery. Speaking at the St. Patrick's Day dinner in London on March, 17, 1913, Mr. Redmond, to a non-Irish audience, thus hailed the future part his country is to play under the restoration of what he describes as a "National Parliament."
"We will, under Home Rule, devote our attention to education, reform of the poor law, and questions of that kind which are purely domestic, which are, if you like, hum-drum Irish questions, and the only way in which we will attempt to interfere in any imperial question will be by our representatives on the floor of the Imperial Parliament in Westminister, doing everything in our power to increase the strength and the glory of what will then be our Empire at long last; and by sending in support of the Empire the strong arms and brace hearts of Irish soldiers and Irish sailors, to maintain the tradition of Irish valor in every part of the world. That is our ambition."
Were this, indeed, the ambition of Ireland, did this represent the true feeling of Irishmen towards England, and the Empire of England, then Home Rule, on such terms, would be a curse and a crime. Thierry, the French historian, is a truer exponent of the passionate aspirations of the Irish heart than anyone who to-day would seek to represent Ireland as willing to sell her soul no less than the strong arms and brave hearts of her sons in an unholy cause.
"* * * for notwithstanding the mixture of races, the inter-communion of every kind brought about by the course of centuries, hatred of the English Government still subsists as a native passion in the mass of the Irish nation. Ever since the hour of invasion this race of men has invariably desired that which their conquerors did not desire, detested that which they liked, and liked that which they detested * * *. This indomitable persistency, this faculty of preserving through centuries of misery the remembrance of lost liberty, and of never despairing of a cause always defeated, always fatal to those who dared to defend it, is perhaps the strangest and noblest example ever given by any nation." (Histoire de la Conquete de l' Angleterre par les Normands, Paris edition, 1846, London, 1891.)
The French writer here saw deeper and spoke truer than many who seek to-day not to reveal the Irish heart, whose deep purpose they have forgotten, but to barter its life-blood for a concession that could be won to-morrow by half that blood if shed at home, thus offered without warrant "as a new weapon of offence in England's hands against the freedom of the world elsewhere."
The Irishman, who in the belief that Home Rule has come or that any measure of Home Rule the London Parliament will offer can be a substitute for his country's freedom, joins the British army or navy is a voluntary traitor to his country. His place is to prepare for the coming of the German. His place is to see that when a victorious Germany severs Ireland from her hereditary exploiter the difficulties of settlement shall be resolutely faced by a people determined to justify the freedom conferred upon them. Even were Germany all that Englishmen paint her and Irishmen only to change "owners," the change could not but be beneficial to Ireland. Germany took Alsace-Lorraine by force from France in 1870, and has governed those provinces for forty years by what is termed "brute force" and against the will of the majority. Yet forty years of German "tyranny" have brought extraordinary prosperity. Strassburg, a mean, pent-in garrison town under France, has become a great and beautiful city under the Germans, and the population of the whole annexed territory has greatly increased in the period. Ireland in the same forty years of English civilization has lost nearly one-fifth of her population. Her pauper rate, her lunacy rate, her sick rate—consumption—have all gone up; her vitality has gone down. Her ports, save one, lie idle; her rivers empty. Every way out lies only through and across Britain.
Almost everything that Ireland produces, or consumes, must all go out or come in solely through England and on payment of a transit and shipping tax to English trade.
The London press has lately waxed indignant over Servia denied by Austria a port on the Adriatic, and we have been told that a Servia without a port is a Servia held in "economic slavery," and that her independence is illusory unless she have free outlet to the sea. But what of Ireland? With not one, but forty ports, the finest in all Western Europe, they lie idle and empty. With over a thousand miles of seaboard, facing the west and holding the seaway between Europe and America, Ireland, in the grip of England, has been reduced to an economic slavery that has no parallel in civilization.
And it is to this island, to this people that the appeal is now made that we should distrust the Germans and aid our enslavers! Better far, were that the only outcome, the fate of Alsace-Lorraine (who got their Home rule Parliament years ago), than the "friendship" of England. We have survived the open hate, the prolonged enslavement, the secular robbery of England and now that England smiles and offers us with one hand "Home Rule" to take it away with the other, are we going to forget the experience of our forefathers? A Connacht proverb of the Middle Ages should come back to us—"three things for a man to avoid: the heels of a horse, the horns of a bull, and the smile of an Englishman!"
That Ireland must be involved in any war that Great Britain undertakes, goes without saying; but that we should willingly throw ourselves into the fray on the wrong side to avert a British defeat, is the counsel of traitors offered to fools. Our part may be at first a passive one, or we may be able to make it something more, but the day a German squadron holds the Irish Sea and communication with Great Britain is cut off, that day shall be the first day of Irish freedom, and the first day of freedom on the seas for Europe.
We must see to it that the day Germany strikes, Ireland shall be there. We must see to it that what was written only a few years ago by a member of the German General Staff shall not be falsified by any act of recreancy of ours: "Of the Second Army Corps (of the British army) two divisions and one brigade of cavalry are quartered in Ireland, of which at any rate the larger part will remain there in order to prevent a rising of the Irish to whom the German invasion would bring the liberty they long for." (Von Edelsheim, in his pamphlet Operationen über See.)
We must see to it that what Thierry wrote of our fathers is not shamefully belied by their sons. Our "indomitable persistency" has up to this excelled and subdued the unvarying will applied to one unvarying purpose of those who, by dint of that quality, have elsewhere subjugated the Universe. We who have preserved through centuries of misery, the remembrance of lost liberty, are not now going to merge our unconquered souls in the base body of our oppressor.
One of the few liberal statesmen England has produced, certainly the only liberal politician she has ever produced, the late Mr. Gladstone, compared the Union between Great Britain and Ireland to "the union between the mangled corpse of Hector and the headlong chariot of Achilles." (1890.)
But, while I cannot admit that England is an Achilles, save, perhaps, that she may be wounded like him in the heel, I will not admit, I will not own that Ireland, however mangled, however "the plowers have ploughed upon her back and made long furrows," is in truth dead, is indeed a corpse. No; there is a juster analogy, and one given us by the only Englishman who was in every clime and in every circumstance a Liberal; one who died fighting in the cause of liberty even as in life he sang it. Byron denounced the Union between England and Ireland as "the union of the shark with its prey."
Ireland has been swallowed by the shark, but she has not been digested, she has not yet been assimilated. Byron's analogy admits of hope and admits also (as science shows us) of that outlet of escape and retribution Edmund Spenser foresaw with dread nearly three centuries earlier. Although swallowed, Ireland may be reserved "in this unquiet state still for some secret scourge which shall by her come unto" the swallower. We need not go to the poets for the end of the story. Natural history furnishes the sequel. The shark sometimes swallows the wrong fish and the greatest of English naturalists tells us what has been observed to follow.
Describing the Brazilian sea fish, Diodon, which he had noticed off Bahia in the course of his voyage, Darwin says: "I have heard from Doctor Allen of Forres, that he has frequently found a Diodon floating alive and distended in the stomach of the shark, and that on several occasions he had known it to eat its way, not only through the coats of the stomach, but through the sides of the monster, which has thus been killed. Who would ever have imagined that a little soft fish could have destroyed the great and savage shark?"May it be found when German Science begins its great voyage for the freeing of the seas that the Irish Diodon was indeed the wrong fish for the World Shark to swallow!
(Written January, 1914.)
Every man born in Ireland holds a "hereditary brief" for the opponents of English sway, wherever they may be. The tribunal of history in his own land is closed to him; he must appeal to another Court; he must seek the ear of those who make history elsewhere. The Irishman is denied the right of having a history, as he is denied the right of having a country. He must recover both. For him there is to be no past, any more than a future. And if he seeks the record of his race in the only schools or books open to him he will find that hope has been shut out of the school and fame taken out of the story.
The late John Richard Green, one of the greatest of English historians was attracted to Ireland by a noble sympathy for the fallen he shared with very few of his countrymen. We are told that he sympathised with the spirit of Irish nationality.
"A State," he would say, "is accidental; it can be made or unmade; but a nation is something real which can be neither made or destroyed."
He had once planned a history of Ireland, "but abandoned the idea because the continuous record of misery and misgovernment was too painful to contemplate." "The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told." All pleasure lies in contrast. The history of Ireland offers no contrast; it is a tale of unmitigated wrong.
It is too full of graves, and the ghosts are not laid yet. As well write the history of a churchyard. Forty years before John Richard Green thus explained why he had abandoned the plan of the graveyard, Victor Hugo lashed the front of England with this very thong. "Ireland turned into a cemetery; Poland transported to Siberia; all Italy a galleys—there is where we stand in this month of November 1831!"
The history of Ireland remains to be written, because the purpose of Ireland remains yet to be achieved. The widow of John Richard Green has laid the foundations of that temple of hope in which the youth of Ireland must enter and be sworn to the task that yet remains for Irishmen to accomplish.
And so in these opening days of 1914 I bring, with a message of hope, these scattered thoughts upon the British Empire and its approaching dissolution to lay before the youth of Ireland. I say approaching dissolution advisedly, for the signs are there to be read. "Home Rule" will not save it. The attempt now being made to bribe Ireland and the Greater Ireland beyond the seas, to the side of the Elsewhere Empire by what has been aptly termed a ticket-of-leave bill will not suffice. The issue lies in stronger hands. Even could the two Irelands be won by the dole now offered of a subordinate Parliament in Dublin, its hands tied so that it must be impotent for any national effort, "a Parliament," as Mr. Herbert Samuel says, "for the local affairs of Irishmen," there are other and more powerful agencies that no measure of "conciliation within the Empire" can permanently win to that system of world exploitation centred in London.
"I would let the Irish have Home Rule," said recently Mr. Winston Churchill, "for their own idiotic affairs." But the last word came from Lord Morley, the "father of Home Rule." "Give it them," he said, in friendly, private counsel, "give it them; let them have the full savour of their own dunghill civilization."
But the last word of all will come, not from Lord Morley or "Home Rule," but from the land and the myriad peoples whose ancient civilization, Lord Morley, like every precedent Satrap, has striven to bury under the dunghill of British supremacy in India, and to hide the very outlines of the ancient body in the set designs of a new purpose.
Civilization has her triumphs of destruction no less than of construction, as the submerged pillars of Philæ attest. In India the task is to obliterate by construction.
The draughtsman now succeeds the storming parties of the past and wipes out with rule and compass what even pillage had spared. The capital of British India is to be "the new Delhi," planned in Whitehall, but paid for in India—the apotheosis of dung. The new India will make short work of "the new Delhi."
"An unplumbed, salt, estranging sea,"' of moral and spiritual separation sets between the imperial conception as nourished in Britain, and the growing hope of the great millions of mankind who make up the greatest realm of her Empire.
Ireland might be bought or bribed, at any rate in this generation, to forfeit her national ideals and barter the aspiration that six centuries of contact with England have failed to kill; but the three hundred and fifty millions of Indian mankind can never be won, or bought, or bribed in the end.
Even if Ireland forgot the deathless words of Grattan, delivered in the subordinate Parliament of 1780, those words will find a response in the hearts of men who never heard of Grattan. For the voice of the Irish patriot was, in truth, a world voice—a summons to every audience wherever men gather in quest of freedom. The prophesy Grattan uttered in the name of Ireland assuredly will be fulfilled, and that in the lifetime of many of us, in that greater Ireland England holds in the Eastern Seas by the very same title of raid, conquest and spoliation that has given her our own land.
Substitute "India" for "Ireland" and the Grattan of 1780 becomes the Indian patriot of to-day.
"I never will be satisfied so long as the meanest cottager in Ireland has a link of the British chain clanking in his rags; he may be naked, he shall not be in irons; and I do see the time is at hand; the spirit is gone forth, the declaration is planted; and though great men should apostasize, yet the cause will live; and though the public speaker should die, yet the immortal lire shall outlast the organ which conveyed it, and the breath of liberty, like the word of the holy man will not die with the prophet, but survive him."
Were Ireland to accept the bribe now offered she would indeed justify the reproach of Wilfrid Blunt: but she Avould become something else than "a weapon of offence in England's hands against the freedom of the world elsewhere;" she would share, and rightly share, the fate of the parasite growth that, having gripped her trunk so tightly, has by that aid reached the sunlight. The British Empire is no northern oak tree. It is a creeping, climbing plant that has fastened on the limbs of others and grown great from a sap not its own. If we seek an analogy for it in the vegetable and not in the animal world we must go to the forests of the tropics and not to the northern woodlands. In the great swamps at the mouth of the Amazon, the naturalist Bates describes a monstrous liana, the "Sipo Matador," or Murdering Creeper, that far more fitly than the oak tree of the north typifies John Bull and the place he has won in the sunlight by the once strong limbs of Ireland.
Speaking of the forests around Pará, Bates says:—"In these tropical forests each plant and tree seems to be striving to outvie its fellows, struggling upwards towards light and air—branch and leaf and stem—regardless of its neighbors. Parasitic plants are seen fastening with firm grip on others, making use of them with reckless indifference as instruments for their own advancement. Live and let live is clearly not the maxim taught in these wildernesses. There is one land of parasitic tree very common near Pará which exhibits this feature in a very prominent manner. It is called the "Sipo Matador," or Murderer Liana. It belongs to the fig order, and has been described and figured by von Martius in the Atlas to Spix and Martius's Travels. I observed many specimens. The base of its stem would be unable to bear the weight of the upper growth; it is obliged, therefore, to support itself on a tree of another species. In this it is not essentially different from other climbing trees and plants, but the way the Matador sets about it is peculiar and produces certainly a disagreeable impression. It springs up close to the tree on which it intends to fix itself, and the wood of its stem grows by spreading itself like a plastic mould over one side of the trunk of its supporter. It then puts forth, from each side, an arm-like branch, which grows rapidly, and looks as though a stream of sap were flowing and hardening as it went. This adheres closely to the trunk of the victim, and the two arms meet at the opposite side and blend together. These arms are put forth at somewhat regular intervals in mounting upwards, and the victim, when its strangler is full grown, becomes tightly clasped by a number of inflexible rings. These rings gradually grow larger as the Murderer flourishes, rearing its crown of foliage to the sky mingled with that of its neighbour, and in course of time they kill it by stopping the flow of its sap. The strange spectale then remains of the selfish parasite clasping in its arms the lifeless and decaying body of its victim, which had been a help to its own growth. Its ends have been served—it has flowered and fruited, reproduced and disseminated its kind; and now when the dead trunk moulders away its own end approaches; its support is gone and itself also falls.”
The analogy is almost the most perfect in literature, and if we would not see it made perfect in history we must get rid of the parasite grip before we are quite strangled. If we would not share the coming darkness we must shake off the murderer's hold, before murderer and victim fall together. That fall is close at hand. A brave hand may yet cut the “Sipo Matador,” and the slayer be slain before he has quite stifled his victim.
If that hand be not a European one, then may it come, bronzed, keen and supple from the tropic calm! The birds of the forest are on the wing.
Regions Cæsar never knew, including Hibernia, have come, under the eagles, nay, the vultures, of imperial Britain. But the Lion's maw is full.
At length the overgorged Beast of Prey, with all the diseases in his veins that overeating brings, finds that his claws are not so sharp as they were, that his belly is much heavier when he tries to leap, and that it is now chiefly by his Voice he still scares his enemies.
The Empire of England dates from Tudor times. Henry VIII was the first John Bull. With the conquered Irish and the wealth derived from their rich country England set out to lay low every free people that had a country worth invading and who, by reason of their non-imperial instincts, were not prepared to meet her on equal terms. India she overran by the same methods as had given her Ireland.
Wholesale plunder, treachery and deceit met at her Council Board under a succession of Governors and Viceroys, whose policy was that of Captain Kidd, and whose anteroom of State led every native prince to the slippery plank. The thing became the most colossal success upon earth. No people were found able to withstand such a combination. How could peoples still nursed in the belief of some diviner will ruling men's minds resist such attack?
For one brief space Napoleon reared his head; and had he cast his vision to Ireland instead of to Egypt he would have found out the secret of the Pirate's Stronghold. But the fates willed otherwise; the time was not yet. He sailed for Alexandria, lured by a dream, instead of for Cork; and the older Imperialists beat the new Imperialist and secured a fresh century of unprecedented triumph. The Pyramids looked down on Waterloo; but the headlands of Bantry Bay concealed the mastery, and the mystery, of the seas.
With 1815 was born the Era of Charles Peace, no less than of John Bull— on Sundays and Saint's days a Churchwarden, who carried the plate; on week days a burglar who lifted it. Truly, as John Mitchel said on his convict hulk, “On English felony the sun never sets.” May it set in 1915!
From Napoleon's downfall to the battle of Colenso, the Empire founded by Henry VIII has swelled to monstrous size. Innumerable free peoples have bit the dust and died with plaintive cry to heaven. The wealth of London has increased a thousand fold, and the giant hotels and caravauserais have grown, at the millionaire's touch, to rival the palaces of the Caesars.
“All's well with God's world”—and poet and plagiarist, courtier and courtesan, Kipling and cant— these now dally by the banks of the Thames and dine off the peoples of the earth, just as once the degenerate populace of imperial Rome fed upon the peoples of the Pyramids. But the thing is near the end. The “secret of Empire” is no longer the sole possession of England. Other peoples are learning to think imperially. The Goths and the Visigoths of modern civilization are upon the horizon. Action must soon follow thought. London, like Rome, will have strange guests. They will not pay their hotel bills. Their day is not yet, but it is at hand. “Home Rule” assemblies and Indian “Legislative Councils” may prolong the darkness: but the dawn is in the sky. And in the downfall of the Tudor Empire, both Ireland and India shall escape from the destruction and join again the free civilizations of the earth.
The birds of the forest are on the wing.
It is an Empire in these straits that turns to America, through Ireland, to save it. And the price it offers is—war with Germany. France may serve for a time; but France, like Germany, is in Europe, and in the end it is all Europe and not only Germany England assails. Permanent confinement of the white races, as distinct from the Anglo-Saxon variety, can only be achieved by the active support and close alliance of the American people. These people are to-day. unhappily, republicans and freemen, and have no ill-will for Germany and a positive distaste for imperialism. It is not really in their blood. That blood is mainly Irish and German, the blood of men not distinguished in the past for successful piracy and addicted rather to the ways of peace. The wars that Germany has waged have been wars of defence, or wars to accomplish the unity of her people. Irish wars have been only against one enemy, and ending always in material disaster, they have conferred always amoral gain. Their memory uplifts the Irish heart: for no nation, no people can reproach Ireland with having wronged them. She has injured no man.
And now, to-day, it is the great free race of this common origin of peace-loving peoples, filling another continent, that is being appealed to by every agency of crafty diplomacy, in every garb but that of truth, to aid the enemy of both and the arch-disturber of the old world. The jailer of Ireland seeks Irish-American support to keep Ireland in prison; the intriguer against Germany would win German-American goodwill against its parent stock. There can be no peace for mankind; no limit to the intrigues set on foot to assure Great Britain “the mastery of the seas.”
If “America” will but see things aright, as a good “Anglo-Saxon” people should, she will take her place beside, nay, even a little in front of John Bull in the plunder of the earth. Were the “Anglo-Saxon Alliance” ever consummated it would be the biggest crime in human history. That alliance is meant by the chief party seeking it, to be a perpetual threat to the peoples of Europe, nay, to the whole of mankind outside the allied ranks. And, instead of bringing peace it must assuredly bring the most distracting and disastrous conflict that lias ever stained the world with blood.
John Bull has now become the great variety artist, one, in truth, whose infinite variety detection cannot stale any more than Customs officers can arrest the artist's baggage.
At one moment the “Shirt King,” being prosecuted for the sale of cheap cottons as “Irish linen” in London; the next he lands the “Bloater King” in New York, offering small fish as something very like a whale. And the offer in both cases is made in the tongue of Shakespeare.
That tongue has infinite uses: from China it sounds the “Call for prayer,” and lo, the Book of Dividend opens at the right text. Were Bull ever caught in the act, and put from the trade of international opium-dosing to that of picking oakum and the treadmill, we should hear him exclaim, as he went out of sight, “Behold me weaving the threads of democratic destiny as I climb the Golden Stair!”
The rôles are endless. In Ireland, the conversion of Irishmen into cattle; in England, the conversion of Irish cattle into men; in India and Egypt the suppression of the native Press; in America the subsidizing of the non-native Press. The tongue of Shakespeare has infinite uses. He only poached deer—it would poach Dreadnoughts. The emanations of Thames sewage are all over the world, and the sewers are running still. The penalty for pollution of the Thames is a high one; but the prize for the pollution of the Mississipi is higher still: the fountains of the deep, the mastery of the great waters, these are the things John Bull seeks on the shores of the “Father of Waters.”
The sunset of a fading Empire would turn those waters into blood. The British Empire was not founded in peace; how, then, can it be kept by peace or ensured by peace treaties? It was born of pillage and bloodshed, and has been maintained by both; and it cannot now be secured by a common language any more than by a common Bible. The lands called the British Empire belong to many races, and it is only by the sword and not by the Book of Peace or any pact of peace that those races can be kept from the ownership of their own countries.
The “Anglo-Saxon Alliance” means a compact to ensure slavery and beget war. The people who fought the greatest war in modern history to release slaves are not likely to begin the greatest war in all history to beget slaves.
Let the truth be known in America that England wants to turn the great Republic of freemen into the imperial ally of the great Empire of bought men, and that day the “Anglo-Saxon Alliance” gives place to the Declaration of Independence.
The true alliance to aim at for all who love peace is the friendly Union of Germany, America and Ireland. These are the true United States of the world.
Ireland, the link between Europe and America, must be freed by both.
Denied to-day free intercourse with either, she yet forms in the great designs of Providence the natural bond to bring the old world and the new together.
May 1915 lay the foundations of this—the true Hundred Years of Peace!
- This was written in August, 1911.
- This time-honored British precept—that foreigners should not see for themselves the workings of English rule in Ireland—finds frequent expression in the Irish State Papers. In a letter from Dublin Castle of August 1572. from the Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam to Burghley, Elizabeth's chief Minister, we are told that the "three German Earls" with "their conductor," Mr. Rogers, have arrived. The Viceroy adds, as his successors have done up to the present day: "According to your Lordship's direction they shall travell as litle waye into the cuntrey as I can."
- Sir E. Grey and the "Entente Cordiale."
- The Duke of Wellington; the report was brought to Lever by the Marquis of Douro, the Duke's heir.
- Save for a few newspaper extracts and remarks appended to them, Articles I, II and III, were written in August, 1911, and September, 1912.
- Mr. Frederick Harrison in the English Review, January, 1912.
- This was written before the second Balkan War began between Bulgaria and her former allies.