Here be ghosts that I have raised this Christmastide, ghosts of dead men that have bequeathed a trust to us living men. Ghosts are troublesome things in a house or in a family, as we knew even before Ibsen taught us. There is only one way to appease a ghost. You must do the thing it asks you. The ghosts of a nation sometimes ask very big things; and they must be appeased, whatever the cost.
Of the shade of the Norwegian dramatist I beg forgiveness for a plagiaristic, but inevitable title.
P. H. PEARSE.
ST. ENDA’S COLLEGE, RATHFARNHAM, Christmas Day, 1915.
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There has been nothing more terrible in Irish history than the failure of the last generation. Other generations have failed in Ireland, but they have failed nobly; or, failing ignobly, some man among them has redeemed them from infamy by the splendour of his protest. But the failure of the last generation has been mean and shameful, and no man has arisen from it to say or do a splendid thing in virtue of which it shall be forgiven. The whole episode is squalid. It will remain the one sickening chapter in a story which, gallant or sorrowful, has everywhere else some exaltation of pride.
‘Is mairg do ghní go holc agus bhíos bocht ina dhiaidh,’ says the Irish proverb. ‘Woe to him that doeth evil and is poor after it.’ The men who have led Ireland for twenty-five years have done evil, and they are bankrupt. They are bankrupt in policy, bankrupt in credit, bankrupt now even in words. They have nothing to propose to Ireland, no way of wisdom, no counsel of courage. When they speak they speak only untruth and blasphemy. Their utterances are no longer the utterances of men. They are the mumblings and the gibberings of lost souls.
One finds oneself wondering what sin these men have been guilty of that so great a shame should come upon them. Is it that they are punished with loss of manhood because in their youth they committed a crime against manhood?. . .Does the ghost of Parnell hunt them to their damnation?
Even had the men themselves been less base, their failure would have been inevitable. When one thinks over the matter for a little one sees that they have built upon an untruth. They have conceived of nationality as a material thing, whereas it is a spiritual thing. They have made the same mistake that a man would make if he were to forget that he has an immortal soul. They have not recognised in their people the image and likeness of God. Hence, the nation to them is not all holy, a thing inviolate and inviolable, a thing that a man dare not sell or dishonour on pain of eternal perdition. They have thought of nationality as a thing to be negotiated about as men negotiate about a tariff or about a trade route, rather than as an immediate jewel to be preserved at all peril, a thing so sacred that it may not be brought into the market places at all or spoken of where men traffic.
He who builds on lies rears only lies. The untruth that nationality is corporeal, a thing defined by statutes and guaranteed by mutual interests, is at the base of the untruth that freedom, which is the condition of a hale nationality, is a status to be conceded rather than a glory to be achieved; and of the other untruth that it can ever be lawful in the interest of empire, in the interest of wealth, in the interest of quiet living, to forego the right to freedom. The contrary is the truth. Freedom, being a spiritual necessity, transcends all corporeal necessities, and when freedom is being considered interests should not be spoken of. Or, if the terms of the counting house be the ones that are best understood, let us put it that it is the highest interest of a nation to be free.
Like a divine religion, national freedom bears the marks of unity, of sanctity, of catholicity, of apostolic succession. Of unity, for it contemplates the nation as one; of sanctity, for it is holy in itself and in those who serve it; of catholicity, for it embraces all the men and women of the nation; of apostolic succession, for it, or the aspiration after it, passes down from generation to generation from the nation’s fathers. A nation’s fundamental idea of freedom is not affected by the accidents of time and circumstance. It does not vary with the centuries, or with the comings and goings of men or of empires. The substance of truth does not change, nor does the substance of freedom. Yesterday’s definition of both the one and the other is to-day’s definition and will be to-morrow’s. As the body of truth which a true church teaches can neither be increased nor diminished – though truth implicit in the first definition may be made explicit in later definitions – so a true definition of freedom remains constant; it cannot be added to or subtracted from or varied in its essentials, though things implicit in it may be made explicit by a later definition.
If the definition can be varied in its essentials, or added to, or subtracted from, it was not a true definition in the first instance.
To be concrete, if we to-day are fighting for something either greater than or less than the thing our fathers fought for, either our fathers did not fight for freedom at all, or we are not fighting for freedom. If I do not hold the faith of Tone, and if Tone was not a heretic, then I am. If Tone said ‘ BREAK the connection with England,’ and if I say ‘MAINTAIN the connection with England,’ I may be preaching a saner (as I am certainly preaching a safer) gospel than his, but I am obviously not preaching the same gospel.
Now what Tone taught, and the fathers of our national faith before and after Tone, is ascertainable. It stands recorded. It has fulness, it has clarity, the sufficiency and the definiteness of dogma. It lives in great and memorable phrases, a grandiose national faith. They, too, have left us their Credo.
The Irish mind is the clearest mind that has ever applied itself to the consideration of nationality and of national freedom. A chance phrase of Keating’s might almost stand as a definition. He spoke of Ireland as ‘domhan beag innti féin’, a little world in herself. It was characteristic of Irish speaking men that when they thought of the Irish nation they thought less of its outer forms and pomps than of the inner thing which was its soul. They recognised that the Irish life was the thing that mattered, and that, the Irish life dead, the Irish nation was dead. But they recognised that freedom was the essential condition of a vigorous Irish life. And for freedom they raised their ranns; for freedom they stood in battle through five bloody centuries.
Irish nationality is an ancient spiritual tradition, one of the oldest and most august traditions in the world. Politically, Ireland’s claim has been for freedom in order to the full and perpetual life of that tradition. The generations of Ireland have gone into battle for no other thing. To the Irish mind for more than a thousand years freedom has had but one definition. It has meant not a limited freedom, a freedom conditioned by the interests of another nation, a freedom compatible with the suzerain authority of a foreign parliament, but absolute freedom, the sovereign control of Irish destinies. It has meant not the freedom of a class, but the freedom of a people. It has meant not the freedom of a geographical fragment of Ireland, but the freedom of all Ireland, of every sod of Ireland.
And the freedom thus defined has seemed to the Irish the most desirable of all earthly things. They have valued it more than land, more than wealth, more than ease, more than empire.
Fearr bheith i mbarraibh fuairbheann
I bhfeitheamh shuainghearr ghrinnmhear,
Ag seilg troda ar fhéinn eachtrann
‘Gá bhfuil fearann bhur sinnsear,
said Angus Mac Daighre O’Daly. ‘Better to be on the tops of the old teens keeping watch, short of sleep yet gladsome, urging fight against the foreign soldiery that hold your fathers’ land.’ And Fearflatha O’Gnive spoke for the generations that preferred exile to slavery:
Má thug an deonughadh dhi
Sacsa nua darbh’ ainm Éire
Bheith re a linn-si i láimh bíodhbhadh,
Do’n inse is cáir ceileabhradh.
‘If thou hast consented (O God) that there be a new England named Ireland, to be ever in the grip of a foe then to this isle we must bid farewell.’
I make the contention that the national demand of Ireland is fixed and determined; that that demand has been made by every generation; that we of this generation receive it as a trust from our fathers; that we are bound by it; that we have not the right to alter it or to abate it by one jot or tittle; and that any undertaking made in the name of Ireland to accept in full satisfaction of Ireland’s claim anything less than the generations of Ireland have stood for is null and void, binding on Ireland neither by the law of God nor by the law of nations.
A nation can bind itself by treaty to do or to forego specific things, as a man can bind himself by contract; but no treaty which places a nation’s body and soul in the power of another nation, no treaty which abnegates a nation’s nationhood, is binding on that nation, any more than a contract of perpetual slavery is binding on an individual. If in a drunken frolic or in mere abject unmanliness I sell myself and my posterity to a slaveholder to have and to hold as a chattel property to himself and his heirs, am I bound by the contract? Are my children bound by it? Can any legal contract make a wrong thing binding? And if not, can a contract executed in my name, but without my express or implied authority, make a wrong thing binding on me and on my children’s children?
Ireland’s historic claim is for Separation. Ireland has authorised no man to abate that claim. The man who, in the name of Ireland, accepts as ‘a final settlement’ anything less by one fraction of an iota than Separation from England will be repudiated by the new generation as surely as O’Connell was repudiated by the generation that came after him. The man who, in return for the promise of a thing which is not merely less than Separation, but which denies Separation and proclaims the Union perpetual, the man who, in return for this, declares peace between Ireland and England and sacrifices to England as a peace-holocaust the blood of fifty thousand Irishmen, is guilty of so immense an infidelity, so immense a crime against the Irish nation, that one can only say of him that it were better for that man (as it were certainly better for his country) that he had not been born.
I have proved this terrible infidelity against a living Irishman, against all who have supported him, against the majority of Irishmen who are now past middle life, if I can establish that the historic claim of Ireland has been for Separation. And I proceed to establish this.
It will be conceded to me that the Irish who opposed the landing of the English in 1169 were Separatists. Else why oppose those who came to annex? It will be conceded that the twelve generations of the Irish nation, the ‘mere Irish’ of the English state-papers, who maintained a winning fight against English domination in Ireland from 1169 to 1509 (roughly speaking), were Separatist generations. The Irish princes who brought over Edward Bruce and made him King of Ireland were plainly Separatists. The Mac Murrough who hammered the English for fifty years and twice out-generalled and out-fought an English king was obviously a Separatist. The turbulence of Shane O’Neill becomes understandable when it is realised that he was a Separatist; Separatists are apt, from of old, to be cranky and sore-headed. The Fitzmaurice who brought the Spaniards to Smerwick Harbour was a mere Separatist: he was one of the pro-Spaniards of those days – Separatists are always pro- Something of which the English disapprove. That proud dissembling O’Neill and that fiery O’Donnell who banded the Irish and the Anglo-Irish against the English, who brought the Spaniards to Kinsale, who fought the war that, but for a guide losing his way, would have been known as the Irish War of Separation, were, it will be granted, Separatists. Rory O’More was uncommonly like a Separatist. Owen Roe O’Neill was admittedly a Separatist, the leader of the Separatist Party in the Confederation of Kilkenny. When O’Neill sent his veterans into the battle-gap at Benburb with the words ‘In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, charge for Ireland!’ the word ‘Ireland’ had for him a very definite meaning. If Sarsfield fought technically for an English king, the popular literature of the day leaves no doubt that in the people’s mind he stood for Separation, and that it was not an English faction but the Irish nation that rallied behind the walls of Limerick. So, up to 1691 Ireland was Separatist.
During the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century a miracle wrought itself. So does the germ of Separation inhere in the soil of Ireland that the very Cromwellians and Williamites were infected with it. The Palesmen began to realise themselves as part of the Irish nation, and in the fulness of time they declared themselves Separatists.
While this process was slowly accomplishing itself, the authentic voice of Ireland is to be sought in her literature. And that literature is a Separatist literature. The ‘secret songs’ of the dispossessed Irish are the most fiercely Separatist utterances in any literature. Not until Mitchel did Anglo-Irish literature catch up that Irish vehemence. The poet of the Roman Vision sang of the Ireland that was to be:
No man shall be bound unto England
Nor hold friendship with dour Scotsmen,
There shall be no place in Ireland for outlanders,
Nor any recognition for the English speech.
The prophetic voice of Mitchel seems to ring in this:
The world hath conquered, the wind hath scattered like dust
Alexander, Cæsar, and all that shared their sway,
Tara is grass, and behold how Troy lieth low, –
And even the English, perchance their hour will come!
An unknown poet, seeing the corpse of an Englishman hanging on a tree, sings:
Good is thy fruit, O tree!
The luck of thy fruit on every bough!
Would that the trees of Inisfail
Were full of thy fruit every day!
The poet of the Druimfhionn Donn Dílis cries:
The English I’d rend as I’d rend an old brogue,
And that’s how I’d win me the Druim-fhionn Donn Og!
I do not defend this blood-thirstiness any more than I apologise for it. I simply point it out as the note of a literature.
Finally, when the poet of the Róisín Dubh declares that
The Erne shall rise in rude torrents, hills shall be rent,
The sea shall roll in red waves, and blood be poured out,
Every mountain glen in Ireland, and the bogs shall quake,
is it to be supposed that these apocalyptic disturbances are to usher in merely a statutory legislation subordinate to the imperial parliament at Westminster whose supreme authority over Ireland shall remain unimpaired ‘anything in this Act notwithstanding’?
The student of Irish affairs who does not know Irish literature is ignorant of the awful intensity of the Irish desire for Separation as he is ignorant of one of the chief forces which make Separation inevitable.
The first man who spoke, or seemed to speak, for Ireland and who was not a Separatist was Henry Grattan. And it was against Henry Grattan’s Constitution that Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen rose. Thus the Pale made common cause with the Gael and declared itself Separatist. It will be conceded that Wolfe Tone was a Separatist: he is The Separatist. It will be conceded that Robert Emmet was a Separatist. O’Connell was not a Separatist: but, as the United Irishmen revolted against Grattan, Young Ireland revolted against O’Connell. And Young Ireland, in its final development, was Separatist. To Young Ireland belong three of the great Separatist voices. After Young Ireland the Fenians; and it will be admitted that the Fenians were Separatists. They guarded themselves against future misrepresentation by calling themselves the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
It thus appears that Ireland has been Separatist up to the beginning of the generation that is now growing old. Separatism, in fact, is the national position. Whenever an Irish leader has taken up a position different from the national position he has been repudiated by the next generation. The United Irishmen repudiated Grattan. The Young Irelanders repudiated O’Connell. The Irish Volunteers have repudiated Mr. Redmond.
The chain of the Separatist tradition has never once snapped during the centuries. Veterans of Kinsale were in the ’41; veterans of Benburb followed Sarsfield. The poets kept the fires of the nation burning from Limerick to Dungannon. Napper Tandy of the Volunteers was Napper Tandy of the United Irishmen. The Russell of 1803 was the Russell of 1798. The Robert Holmes of ’98 and 1803 lived to be a Young Irelander. Three Young Irelanders were the founders of Fenianism. The veterans of Fenianism stand to-day with the Irish Volunteers. So the end of the Separatist tradition is not yet.
It would be very instructive to examine in its breadth and depth, in its connotations as well as in its denotations, the Irish definition of freedom; and I propose to do this in a sequel to the present essay. For my immediate purpose it is sufficient to state that definition merely as a principle involving essentially the idea of Independence, Separation, a distinct and unfettered national existence.
The conception of an Irish nation has been developed in modern times chiefly by four great minds. On a little reflection one comes to see that what has been contributed by other minds has been almost entirely by way of explanation and illustration of what has been laid down by the four master minds; that the four have been the Fathers, and that the others are just their commentarists. Accordingly, when I have named the four names, there will be hardly any need to name any other names. Indeed, it will be difficult to think of names that can be named in the same breath with these, difficult to think of men who have reached anything like the same stature or who have stretched out even half as far.
The names are those of Theobald Wolfe Tone, Thomas Davis, James Fintan Lalor, and John Mitchell.
It is a question here of political teachers, not of mere political leaders. O’Connell was a more effective political leader than either Lalor or Mitchel, but no one gives O’Connell a place in the history of political thought. He did not propound, he did not even attempt to propound, any body of political truths. He was a political strategist of extraordinary ability, a rhetorician of almost superhuman power. But we owe no political doctrine to O’Connell except the obviously untrue doctrine that liberty is too dearly purchased at the price of a single drop of blood. The political position of O’Connell – his falling back on the treaty of 1782-3 – was not the statement of any national principle, the embodiment of any political truth – it was an able, though as it happened unsuccessful, strategical move.
Parnell must be considered. If one had to add a fifth to the four I have named, the fifth would inevitably be Parnell. Now Parnell was less a political thinker than an embodied conviction; a flame that seared, a sword that stabbed. He deliberately disclaimed political theories, deliberately confined himself to political action. He did the thing that lay nearest to his hand, struck at the English with such weapons as were available. His instinct was a Separatist instinct; and, far from being prepared to accept Home Rule as a ‘final settlement between the two nations,’ he was always careful to make it clear that, whether Home Rule came or did not come, the way must be left open for the achievement of the greater thing. In 1885 he said:
It is given to none of us to forecast the future, and just as it is impossible for us to say in what way or by what means the national question may be settled – in what way full justice may be done to Ireland – so it is impossible for us to say to what extent that justice should be done. We cannot ask for less than the restitution of Grattan’s Parliament, with its important privileges and wide and far-reaching constitution. We cannot, under the British constitution, ask for more than the restitution of Grattan’s Parliament, but no man has a right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation. No man has a right to say ‘Thus far shalt thou go, and no further’; and we have never attempted to fix the ne plus ultra to the progress of Ireland’s nationhood, and we never shall. But, gentlemen, while we leave these things to time, circumstances, and the future, we must each one of us resolve in our own hearts that we shall at all times do everything that within us lies to obtain for Ireland the fullest measure of her rights. In this way we shall avoid difficulties and contentions amongst each other. In this way we shall not give up anything which the future may put in favour of our country; and while we struggle to-day for that which may seem possible for us without combination, we must struggle for it with the proud consciousness that we shall not do anything to hinder or prevent better men who may come after us from gaining better things than those for which we now contend.
And again, in the same year:
Ireland a nation! Ireland has been a nation: she is a nation; and she shall be a nation… England will respect you in proportion as you and we respect ourselves. They will not give anything to Ireland out of justice or righteousness. They will concede you your liberties and your rights when they must and no sooner. . .We can none of us do more than strive for that which may seem attainable to-day; but we ought at the same time to recollect that we should not impede or hamper the march of our nation; and although our programme may be limited and small, it should be such a one as shall not prevent hereafter the fullest realisation of the hopes of Ireland; and we shall, at least if we keep this principle in mind, have this consolation that, while we may have done something to enable Ireland in some measure to retain her position as a nation, to strengthen her position as a nation, we shall have done nothing to hinder others who may come after us from taking up the work with perhaps greater strength, ability, power, and advantages than we possess, and from pushing to that glorious and happy conclusion which is embodied in the words of the toast which I now ask you to drink – ‘Ireland a nation’!
These words justify me in summoning the pale and angry ghost of Parnell to stand beside the ghosts of Tone and Davis and Lalor and Mitchell. If words mean anything, these mean that to Parnell the final and inevitable and infinitely desirable goal of Ireland was Separation; and that those who thought it prudent and feasible, as he did, to proceed to Separation by Home Rule must above all things do nothing that might impair the Separatist position or render the future task of the Separatists more difficult. Of Parnell it may be said with absolute truth that he never surrendered the national position. His successors have surrendered it. They have written on his monument in Dublin those noble words of his, that no man has a right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation; and then they have accepted the Home Rule Act as a ‘final settlement’ between Ireland and England. It is as if a man were to write on a monument ‘I believe in God and in Life Everlasting’ and then to sell his chance of Heaven to the Evil One for a purse, not of gold, but of I.O.U.’s.
If I could think of any other name that, with due regard for proportion, could be named with the great names, I should name it and proceed to examine its claims. But I can think of no other name. I can think of heroic leaders like Emmet; I can think of brilliant rhetoricians like Meagher; I can think of able and powerful publicists like Duffy; I can think of secret organisers like Stephens: and all these were Separatist. But I cannot think of anyone who has left behind him a body of teaching that requires to be examined. Emmet’s mind was as great as any of the four minds except Tone’s, but we have not its fruits; only an indication of its riches in his speech from the dock, and of its strength and sanity in the draft proclamation for his Provisional Government.
I can think, again, of three great political thinkers of Anglo-Ireland before Tone: Berkeley, Swift, and Burke. And from the writings of these three I could construct the case for Irish Separatism. But this would be irrelevant to my purpose. I am seeking to find, not those who have thought most wisely about Ireland, but those who have thought most authentically for Ireland, the voices that have come out of the Irish struggle itself. And those voices, subject to what I have said as to Parnell, are the voices of Tone, of Davis, of Lalor, of Mitchell.
Let us see what they have said.
First, Tone. Of 1790:
I made speedily what was to me a great discovery, though I might have found it in Swift and Molyneux, that the influence of England was the radical vice of our Government, and consequently that Ireland would never be either free, prosperous, or happy until she was independent, and that independence was unattainable whilst the connection with England lasted.
It a communication from Russell immediately set me thinking more seriously than I had yet done upon the state of Ireland. I soon formed my theory, and on that theory I have invariably acted ever since.
To subvert the tyranny of our execrable Government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country – these were my objects. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in the place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter – these were my means.
I hold all Irish nationalism to be implicit in these words. Davis was to make explicit certain things here implicit, Lalor certain other things; Mitchel was to thunder the whole in words of apocalyptic wrath and splendour. But the Credo is here: ‘I believe in One Irish Nation and that Free.’
And before his judges Tone thus testified:
I mean not to give you the trouble of bringing judicial proof to convict me, legally, of having acted in hostility to the Government of his Britannic Majesty in Ireland. I admit the fact. From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain as the curse of the Irish nation, and felt convinced that, while it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy. My mind has been confirmed in this opinion by the experience of every succeeding year, and the conclusions which I have drawn from every fact before my eyes. In consequence, I determined to apply all the powers which my individual efforts could move in order to separate the two countries.
. .Will she England allow us, for good or ill, to govern ourselves, and see if we cannot redress our own griefs. ‘No, never, never,’ she says, ‘though all Ireland cried for it – never! Her fields shall be manured with the shattered limbs of her sons, and her hearths quenched in their blood; but never, while England has a ship or a soldier, shall Ireland be free.’
And this is your answer? We shall see – we shall see!
And now, Englishmen, listen to us! Though you were to-morrow to give us the best tenures on earth – though you were to equalise Presbyterian, Catholic, and Episcopalian – though you were to give us the amplest representation in your Senate – though you were to restore our absentees, disencumber us of your debt, and redress every one of our fiscal wrongs – and though, in addition to all this, you plundered the treasuries of the world to lay gold at our feet, and exhausted the resources of your genius to do us worship and honour – still we tell you – we tell you, in the names of liberty and country – we tell you, in the name of enthusiastic hearts, thoughtful souls, and fearless spirits – we tell you, by the past, the present, and the future, we would spurn your gifts, if the condition were that Ireland should remain a province. We tell you, and all whom it may concern, come what may – bribery or deceit, justice, policy, or war – we tell you, in the name of Ireland, that Ireland shall be a Nation!
Lest it may be pretended (as it has been pretended) that the nationhood thus claimed in the name of Ireland by this passionate nationalist was a mere statutory ‘nationhood’, federalism or something less, I quote a passage which makes it clear that Davis (loyally though he supported the official policy of the Nation, which at that stage did not go beyond Repeal) was thinking all the time of a sovereign independent Ireland. Urging the need of foreign alliances for Ireland, he writes (the italics are Davis’s):
When Ireland is a nation she will not, with her vast population [Footnote: Nearly 9,000,000 then.] and her military character, require such alliances as a security against an English re-conquest; but they will be useful in banishing any dreams of invasion which might otherwise haunt the brain of our old enemy.
Elsewhere Davis sums up the national position in a sentence worthy of Tone: ‘Ireland’s aspiration is for unbounded nationality.’
Repeal, in its vulgar meaning, I look on as utterly impracticable by any mode of action whatever; and the constitution of ’82 was absurd, worthless, and worse than worthless. The English Government will never concede or surrender to any species of moral force whatsoever; and the country-peasantry will never arm and fight for it – neither will I. If I am to stake life and fame it must assuredly be for something better and greater, more likely to last, more likely to succeed, and better worth success. And a stronger passion, a higher purpose, a nobler and more needful enterprise is fermenting in the hearts of the people. A mightier question moves Ireland to-day than that of merely repealing the Act of Union. Not the constitution that Wolfe Tone died to abolish, but the constitution that Tone died to obtain – independence; full and absolute independence for this island, and for every man within this island. Into no movement that would leave an enemy’s garrison in possession of all our lands, masters of our liberties, our lives, and all our means of life and happiness – into no such movement will a single man of the greycoats enter with an armed hand, whatever the town population may do. On a wider fighting field, with stronger positions and greater resources than are afforded by the paltry question of Repeal, must we close for our final struggle with England, or sink and surrender.
Ireland her own – Ireland her own, and all therein, from the sod to the sky. The soil of Ireland for the people of Ireland, to have and hold from God alone who gave it – to have and to hold to them and to their heirs for ever, without suit or service, faith or fealty, rent or render, to any power under Heaven.
Not to repeal the Union, then, but the conquest – not to disturb or dismantle the Empire, but to abolish it utterly for ever – not to fall back on ’82, but to act up to ’48 – not to resume or restore an old constitution, but to found a new nation and raise up a free people, and strong as well as free, and secure as well as strong, based on a peasantry rooted like rocks in the soil of the land – this is my object, as I hope it is yours; and this, you may be assured, is the easier as it is the nobler and more pressing enterprise.
And yet again:
In the case of Ireland now there is but one fact to deal with, and one question to be considered. The fact is this – that there are at present in occupation of our country some 40,000 armed men, in the livery and service of England; and the question is – how best and soonest to kill and capture those 40,000 men.
Lastly Mitchel takes up his hymn of hate against the Empire:
– And do you read Ireland’s mind in the canting of O’Connell’s son? or in the sullen silence of a gagged and disarmed people? Tell me not of O’Connell’s son. His father begat him in moral force, and in patience and perseverance did his mother conceive him. I swear to you there are blood and brain in Ireland yet, as the world one day shall know. God! let me live to see it. On that great day of the Lord, when the kindreds and tongues and nations of the old earth shall give their banners to the wind, let this poor carcase have but breath and strength enough to stand under Ireland’s immortal Green!
– Do you allude to the battle of Armageddon? I know you have been reading the Old Testament of late.
Yes. ‘Who is this that cometh from Edom; with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel travelling in the garments of his strength? Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine vat? I have trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart.’ Also an aspiration of King David haunts my memory when I think on Ireland and her wrongs: ‘That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and that the tongue of thy dogs may be red through the same.’
Thus Tone, thus Davis, thus Lalor, thus Mitchel, thus Parnell. Methinks I have raised some ghosts that will take a little laying.