From The United Irishman, March 4, 1899.
The appearance of a new journal is an event of such frequent occurrence in Ireland that it has come to be treated with indifference. During the past few years many papers sprang into existence – wherein, indeed, lay their sole resemblance to the offspring of Jupiter – and, having no raison d’etre, died as quickly and decently as possible. Our fate may not be unlike; but if the cheers which resounded recently through the land for the men and methods of ’98 were born of honest throats, our future should be secure.
There exists, has existed for centuries, and will continue to exist in Ireland, a conviction hostile to the subjection, or dependence, of the fortunes of this country to the necessities of any other; we intend to voice that conviction. We bear no ill-will to any section of the Irish political body, whether its flag be green or orange, which holds that torturous paths are the safest for Irishmen to tread; but, knowing we are governed by a nation, which religiously adheres to:
“The good old rule – the simple plan –
That those may take who have the power and those may keep who can,”
We, with all respect for our friends who love the devious ways – are convinced that an occasional exhibition of the naked truth will not shock the modesty of Irishmen and that a return to the straight road will not lead us to political destruction. We intend to decry the work of no Irish party nor to belittle the character or asperse the motives of any Irish publicist who may differ from us; but we feel certain that if the eyes of the Irish Nation are continually focused on England, they will inevitably acquire a squint; for, in our own experience, we have known some good Irishmen who by too constant gazing on the Union Jack, acquired a degree of colour-blindness which caused them to perceive in it an emerald-green tinge. To be perfectly plain, we believe that when Swift wrote to the whole people of Ireland 170 years ago, that by the law of God, of nature, and of nations they had a right to be as free a people as the people of England, he wrote common sense; notwithstanding that in these latter days we have been diligently taught that by the law of God, of nature, and of nations we are rightfully entitled to the establishment in Dublin of a legislative assembly, with an expunging angel watching over its actions from the Viceregal Lodge. We do not deprecate the institution of any such body, but we do assert that the whole duty of an Irishman is not comprised in utilising all the forces of his nature to procure its inception.
While we shall, as we have said, assume no attitude of hostility to any party in Ireland working for what it holds to be the interest of our country – while we shall never stoop to the stupid vulgarity of assailing the personality of any who may differ from us – one thing we shall do – or strive to do; there is a vile, skulking, servile spirit abroad – a lying, dastardly spirit – sometimes disguising itself as a patriotic spirit. When England shrieks out against another nation, it urges us to join in the cry – to turn up our eyes at the corruption of Republics, the tyranny of Czars, and the eccentricities of Emperors; it prates about British greatness and British magnanimity, and foretells us devoted Britishers when we have got our “rights”; it derides nobility allied with failure and, when a voice is raised on behalf of the cause for which men died, it sniggles of “Cabbage-gardens” and “Battles of Tallaght.” We shall strive to exorcise that spirit and to make its harbourers loathsome as leprosy in the sight of the people.
With the present-day Irish movements outside politics we are in more or less sympathy. The Financial Reformers, who with child-like faith think their magnetic eloquence will draw our vanished millions from the pocket of John Bull, are incidentally doing good in promoting an union of Irishmen in opposition to their one enemy; the resuscitation of our National Language is a work in which every one of us should help; at the same time we would regret any insistence on a knowledge of Gaelic as the test of patriotism. It is scarcely necessary to say we are in full sympathy with the objects of the Amnesty Association; but we shall not at any time support an appeal to any such myths as English Justice or English Mercy.
We trust we have made ourselves perfectly plain. We have not endeavoured to do aught else. Lest there might be a doubt in any mind, we will say that we accept the Nationalism of ’98, ’48 and ’67 as the true Nationalism and Grattan’s cry, “Live Ireland – Perish the Empire!” as the watchword of patriotism.
With these words, we commend the UNITED IRISHMAN to your support, but to secure it we shall not abate a jot of our principles. We ask for it the support of all our countrymen, but we do not seek it on any false pretence, trusting to prove equal to either fortune.