When Hungary was in the vortex of her struggle for national existence, one Charles Boner, English diplomat, visited the country, and wrote a book in which he gave the Hungarians the benefit of his superior British wisdom. Gently but firmly he chided their errors and pointed them out the way they should go. His book, which was published in the year 1865, possesses much interest for reflective Irish readers, for other Boners have been generous enough to give similar advice to us, and Irish people have been found to receive it with respect. The first fact that pained the good Englishman was that the Hungarians insisted on remembering the wrongs that had been inflicted on themselves and on their ancestors. “A Hungarian,” wrote Boner, “always dwells on and cherishes his wrongs, and like the Irish, never loses an opportunity of putting them forward prominently.” Even after Boner’s a reproach appeared in print, the Hungarians remained intractable, hating their oppressors and venting their hatred in words and action. The next fact that pained Boner was the uncompromising attitude the Hungarians had taken up. They will have no compromise, he writes. “They say, ‘He who is not with us is against us.'” They will not, the Englishman complains, accept assurances, representations, or even proofs that they are in the wrong. They do not want proofs. “They assume as incontrovertible truths, particular views of their own with regard to their grievances.” “In every step taken by Government, the animus which is invariably shown to be inimical is affirmed beforehand, and by their assertion all abide.” The Hungarians truly enough refused to see in the Austrian Government aught but an enemy, which caused the Englishman to complain that they were “wilful,” “devoid of political sagacity,” “self-blinded,” “inordinately proud,” and lacking “in the faculty of clear-sighted deliberation, in the power to discriminate between the desirable and attainable, in that wisdom which inclines to compromise rather than to haughty antagonism, where nothing is to be gained by it.” Now, if the Hungarians had hearkened to Boner – their disinterested friend Boner, as he styled himself if they had compromised, doffed their caubeens, to the Austrian garrison, presented loyal addresses to Francis Josef, and sang “God Bless the Emperor,'” there would have been no Hungary to-day, great, free, and prosperous, but in its stead an Austrian province peopled by serfs and forgotten by the world.

Hungary did not hearken to Boner. It derided that “wisdom which inclines to compromise,” and remained defiant, immovable, and deaf to all blandishments, and it won its game. It refused to see the reasonableness of Boner when he chided it for Its foolish declaration that it would prefer a bad native Government to a good foreign one. “It is all very well,” wrote Boner, in his Epistle to the Hungarians, “to cherish old customs and privileges,” but he added, it would be much wiser to let the past be past and join in the great March of Progress. Boner was also compelled to point out ta the Hungarians, as his countrymen have been compelled to point out to us, that they were subconscious liars while their oppressors were monuments of truth. “The Hungarians are continually being led by the predominance of the imaginative faculty,” he wrote. “They are so accustomed to take what they fancy to be fact, and which should be so, for truth, that it is necessary to test carefully all statements in which national and political feeling is likely to bias them. Herein, as in numerous other cases, they are the very opposite of the German. He is slow to assert and scrupulous in examining. The Hungarian, borne away by imagination and his hot passions, boldly asserts as fact the promptings, of his ardent temperament, and he will often lavish forth assertions as recklessly as he has always hurled defiance against his opponent.” Is there a reader to whom this is not familiar, who, substituting “Irishmen” for “Hungarians,” and “Englishmen” for “Germans,” cannot recall having read in the books of the English the same passage? Nor is there a country in civilised Europe into the ear of which England has not poured the same story of the Irish that Boner poured into the ear of the- world about the Hungarians when Hungary was down – that our grievances are imaginary, our charges against the English false – that, in short, we are liars and the English true-begotten children of Truth.

We shall journey some distance with Boner. He is instructive company. His British rectitude was shocked at the “moral terrorism” which restrained respectable Hungarians who desired to compromise and conciliate from doing either. “Fear of the others deter them,” wrote Boner. “The Hungarians exercise a greater tyranny than any Government – for they morally stigmatise a man and brand him ruthlessly should he not act with them.” Thus possible Hungarian Dillons and T. P. O’Connors blushed unseen, and men who would gladly have sold their country were constrained by the force of public opinion to remain honest.

Boner was concerned that the Hungarians should cut themselves off from the world by reviving their own language. He appealed to them for their own welfare to stick to German. Hear him on the Hungarian language and literature: “Hungarian literature cannot supply the place of that which Germany offers in such rich abundance. German is a language which associates the Hungarians with the civilised world the language of a literature that has remodified Europe. This ignoring of a literature is part of a system” – Boner had discovered the dark plot “and does not arise from an imperfect acquaintance with the language in which it is written, for every Hungarian of education speaks German well. It is like the present strict adherence to the national costume on the part of the men, a demonstration of political feeling rather than anything else.” The “system” triumphed, and now the Hungarian language is the language of all Hungary, and the literature of Hungary is one of the great modern literatures. Again and again the benevolent Englishman deplored the uncharitableness and mental and moral defects of the Hungarians. “The bitter feeling existing among the Hungarians against the German population,” he writes, “is so intense that in all concerning the latter it utterly blinds and deprives them of the capacity to form a reasonable judgment… With the Hungarian every question becomes crystallised into one of nationality; this warps his judgment, for he thus regards even those which are most diverging from one sole special point of view. Argument is then at an end, and a rabid state begins. He loves especially to take his stand on history. Against this nothing is allowed to have weight… He can neither comprehend nor will tolerate that petty personal considerations should stand in the way of action that has once been resolved on; being himself ready to make any sacrifice for his convictions, he expects the same willingness in another who, up to a certain point, has marched along with him. Having also in a high degree what in German is called selbstgefuhl or feeling of his own personality, he has no exaggerated respect for or servile fear of mere authority or its representatives in office… They [the Hungarians and Austrians] are as different as possible in nature, education, aims and political views. In character they are as unlike as the Irish and Scotch – indeed, I have often thought the buoyant Hungarian, swayed easily by passion resembled the former, while the Austrian, thrifty and methodical, reminded me of him of the north country.”

Boner further pointed out to the Hungarian that the self-esteem and exclusiveness which forbade him to associate with the Austrian must lead to his undoing. “His contempt for the Austrian is nearly as great as his hate,” wrote Boner. “…In every explanation given on political questions it is inevitably as a perfectly innocent victim that the Hungarian appears; not a shade of wrong appertains to him, nor is he answerable for one of his misfortunes. All is the work of others – he is merely the sufferer, a sort of modern Prometheus, whose gigantic unmerited suffering- appeals, not in silence, but loudly to humanity and heaven.” Where is the Irishman who does not recognise this English sarcasm as an old acquaintance; and who does not recognise himself in the following as painted to Europe by his enemy: “The Hungarian exhibits exactly the same fault which he attributes to his rulers – a dislike to hear the truth… In the discourse of the Hungarians about themselves and their nationality there is not the remotest approach to anything like logical reasoning… Not to march with the Hungarians is in their eyes proof sufficient of rascality… The Hungarian is always goading himself on by brooding over or recapitulating his wrongs, not only of to- day, but of the past as well… For everything unfavourable that happens or has happened to them the Hungarians make the Government answerable…; they have a dogma to which they cling as though salvation depended on it – that Government desires to ruin them financially… In every enactment, no matter what it be, the Hungarian discovers a plan, direct or indirect, for doing him some harm. … I have pointed to these things because no well-wisher to the Hungarians can observe them without regret.”

Benevolent Boner! If the Hungarians had but taken his advice, forgotten their past, surrendered their language, assimilated themselves and learned the “wisdom of compromise,” they would to-day be in the enjoyment of blessings similar to those which England showers on this country. But our primary purpose in resurrecting Boner is to exhibit him as a strenuous advocate of the policy of Parliamentarianism, which for years has been adored as the Only Policy For Ireland. The Hungarians rejected that policy and refused to permit their representatives to appear in the Imperial Parliament. Six years of persistence in this attitude reduced the Imperial Parliament to impotence, but Boner, like our wise men, perceived the folly of the Hungarian attitude and the immense advantage Hungary would derive from maintaining a party to fight the battle of Hungary on the Floor of the House – in Vienna. “It would be far wiser,” wrote Boner, “if the Hungarians, instead of each one laying down his mandate, had entered the assembly and there fought their battle. They would have found among the German members faithful allies… Their eminent qualifications for political life would soon have given them the ascendancy. The Government, even had it opposed good measures, would have been forced to give way. I cannot but deeply regret the determination of the Hungarians to have nothing to do with Parliament or office… They, after all, are the greatest sufferers by it… In no way do they more injure themselves and act against their own interests than by abstaining from all share in the Government and in declining to hold any office, for by their refusal men are placed in authority who are unfit for it. Yet, while the Hungarians suffer by the want of trust and incompetency of such officers, they chuckle at the abuses and imperfections to which their nomination leads. “Worse still, Boner asserts, the Hungarians who refused to enter the Imperial Parliament “chuckled” at the Saxons who did, when these same Saxons were outvoted on every question where their interests collided with those of the Austrians.

Boner was not a fool. He was a shrewd Englishman, employed in the British Diplomatic Service. He wished for the defeat of the Hungarians, because he apprehended that if they succeeded in beating down Austria, Ireland would imitate the Hungarian tactics and paralyse England. “What I saw and heard,” he wrote, “continually reminded me of Ireland… it is exactly the same… even as regards the rallying-cry ‘Ireland for the Irish,’ ‘Hungary for the Hungarians,’ Pitt saw… that if matters were to mend, others besides Irishmen must legislate for Ireland. This was essential. He also saw that the Dublin Parliament must be under the influence of the Imperial Parliament… Of all the difficulties an Austrian minister has to encounter, the opposition of the Hungarians is undoubtedly the greatest, because of their intelligence, their boldness, their perseverance, and their implacability. But there are many others of minor importance. Supremacy of language is one of them… Let us fancy to ourselves the Irish peasant speaking only his own native Irish and demanding equal rights for his tongue!…”

Boner was needlessly alarmed. Hungary won, but Ireland did not know what her victory meant. All Ireland knows about European politics is what the British Press, having first coloured to suit British interests, permits her to know. One strong, able, honest man in Ireland in 1867, after the failure of the Fenian insurrection, apprehending the significance of the coronation of Francis Josef at Pesth, could have rallied and led the country to victory. Ireland did not produce him. Ireland produced Isaac Butt, who substituted for the claim of a nation the appeal of a province.

And now we have sufficiently outlined the history of the struggle in Hungary, and brought home the parallel to apply the lesson. We must consider how the existing relations, apart from the actual connection which has subsisted, unwillingly on the one part, since the twelfth century, have been brought about. Six hundred years after the English invasion of this country, the English Parliament renounced all claim or title to govern this country. Its Renunciation is still inscribed on the British Statute-book, and, nevertheless, the English Parliament governs us. The discovery to be made is, how this illegality originated, and how it has been perpetuated.

The Parliament of Ireland, prior to the last quarter of the eighteenth century, despite the efforts of men such as William Molyneux, Dean Swift, and Charles Lucas, was almost a Parliament pour rire. It had little more real power than the statutory Parliament Mr. Gladstone proposed to establish in Dublin in 1886. But it, however, served a useful purpose in keeping Dublin, to some extent, a National capital. Men resorted to Dublin because of this even shadowy Parliament, and those who were honest and courageous among them sought to make the shadow substance. In time they succeeded. When Molyneux wrote his famous book asserting the independence of the kingdom of Ireland and the responsibility to the Irish people alone of the Irish Parliament, he was boycotted by the respectable people, and the hangman publicly burned his seditious book, but his ideas no hangman could burn, and they remained secretly working in the minds of the English-speaking Irish. Then came Swift – and shrewdly seeing that the independence of his country could only be achieved by uniting the old Irish and the new, he sought for years an issue to unite them on, and found it at length in Woods’ halfpence. By his giant genius he united all Ireland, peer and peasant, Catholic, Protestant, and Dissenter, Norman, Cromwellian, and Gael in opposition to England, and when he had it united launched his thunderbolt in the famous “Fourth Letter of M. B. Drapier to the Whole People of Ireland” – his declaration that by the law of God, of nature, and of nations, the Irish people were as free a people as the people of England – and that no power other than the King of Ireland and the Parliament of Ireland had the right or authority to make laws to bind them. The English Government replied by offering a reward for Swift’s discovery and apprehension, but they found none to earn it. As Swift himself wrote afterwards: “Not a traitor could be found, To sell me for six hundred pound.”

Swift died without seeing the independence of his country achieved, but his spirit lived. He had implanted in the breasts of the descendants of the English Colonists in Ireland a feeling of resentment against England, and a feeling of kinship to a degree with the sons of men whose fathers died on the beaten side at Aughrim and the Boyne. Then came Lucas, lacking the genius of Swift and the scholarship of Molyneux, but bluntly honest, fearless, and incorruptible – inveighing against the English dominance in Irish affairs and lashing with a vigorous tongue the corruption and slavishness of the Irish Parliament. The mob of Dublin cheered to the echo the anti-English harangues of the honest demagogue, and the English Government in Ireland, fearing a weakening of its usurped power, proscribed him. On the younger generation the propaganda of Molyneux, Swift, and Lucas was not lost. Langrishe, Grattan, Flood, and others now appeared, and the War of American Independence placed the game in Ireland’s hands. The country was denuded of troops, even as it was during the late Boer War, and “the loyal inhabitants” apprehensive of a French invasion, banded themselves together for common protection, procured arms, learned to use them, and then reflected that it was not the French who had imposed restrictions on their commerce and freedom of action. “England,” as a contemporary writer says, “notwithstanding she had in some instances suspended, and in others prohibited the exportation of Irish manufactures, inundated the Irish markets with every species of her own, and with a view to effectually destroy all power of competition in Ireland, the great capitalists of England determined at any loss to undersell the Irish in their own markets – a loss, however, which they thought would be amply repaired by the monopoly which must necessarily succeed the utter destruction of the Irish manufacture. This system it was impossible for the Irish manufacturer to resist or counteract; his capital was too small to bear the losses of competition; resistance would have been vain; he had therefore no alternative but to change his trade or submit and famish.” The Volunteers observed this, came to understand that it was not France who was the enemy, and accordingly, drafted and adopted the famous “Non-Importation and Non-Consumption Agreement.” By this patriotic agreement the Irish Volunteers bound themselves not to import any goods of English manufacture which goods Ireland manufactured, or was com petent to manufacture, and not to consume such English goods. The Irish merchants, the Irish shopkeepers, and the Irish people generally, enthusiastically followed the Volunteers in adopting the agreement. The English conspiracy was smashed and Irish manufactures revived to an unprecedented degree. For the first time for generations prosperity began to smile upon the land, and the national victory was celebrated in the Marching Song of the Volunteers:

Wasn’t John Bull a fool,
When he took off our wool
To leave us so much of
The leather, the leather!
It ne’er entered his pate
That a sheep-skin well-beat
Will draw a whole nation
Together, together!

The whole nation had been drawn together by the “Non-Importation Agreement,” and now demanded its freedom. The Volunteers originally all Protestant, threw open their ranks and invited their Catholic fellow-countrymen to come in – which they did – and when the delegation of the Irish Parliament walked to the Castle to demand the renunciation of England’s claim to govern this country, it passed through streets lined by the armed grandchildren of the men who fought under opposing flags at Limerick, Deny, Aughrim, and the Boyne, now united in defence of their common country.

England renounced her claim to govern this country, awed by the bayonets of 200,000 Irish Volunteers. Though her divide-et-impera policy subsequently succeeded in riving the union of the people of Ireland, the memory of Dungannon she can never eradicate – the memory of that day when 300 Irish Protestants, representing the 200,000 armed defenders of the country, resolved in the Church of Dungannon that the independence of their country must ever be maintained, and that the Catholics of Ireland were their brethren.

England yielded to the Volunteers. She had no alternative. But secretly she planned their destruction and the destruction of our country. Suspicious of her acknowledgment of Irish independence, the Volunteers demanded that she should expressly renounce tor ever all pretension to rule this country. In the English Parliament, a peer – Abingdon – opposed the Renunciation vehemently. Ireland, he declared, must be kept subordinate. The news came to Ireland, and 120,000 armed and disciplined men prepared to take the field. England threw up the sponge, and rushed the Renunciation Act – through her Senate. If she had not done so, the Duke of Leinster would have been crowned King of Ireland by the Volunteers, and the countries for ever separated. This Renunciation Act by it England renounces for ever all pretension to govern this country – remains inscribed on the British Statute Book. Under the Constitution no power exists or has existed since the year 1783 in the British Parliament to legislate for this country.

Grattan, unconsciously, was used by the English Government as an instrument to disband the Volunteers. When Sir Lucius O’Brien moved in the Irish House of Commons to call on the King of Ireland to declare war against Portugal, which was conspiring with the English Government against Irish trade, Grattan was silent; when Montgomery suggested Ireland should proceed to build a fleet to defend her coasts and commerce, Grattan was not his supporter; had he been, we to-day would be the free citizens of an independent and prosperous nation. When the Volunteers had been disbanded, the Castle raised a paid force, the militia, to help its scheme. Then when its preparations were completed it introduced the “Bill of Union.” We need not call in question the validity of the “Act” of Union on the ground that it was carried by corruption and intimidation of the vilest type, or on the ground that what were declared to be fundamental provisions have since been violated by the English Government. The “Act” of Union was never valid. It does not and cannot exist as a law under the Constitution. The members of the Irish Parliament had no legal power to terminate the existence of that Parliament. They were, in law, simply trustees for the time being of a power proceeding from the people, and they were bound in law to deliver that trust back into the hands of its owners. Instead they sold it. “The Legislature,” as Locke says, “cannot transfer the making of laws into other hands, for it is merely a delegated power from the people.” Every great Irish lawyer pointed out at the time that the “Act” of Union could not be legal or binding – Saurin, Plunkett, Ponsonby, Ball, Bushe, Curran, Burrowes, Moore, Fitzgerald, and a score others; and no lapse of time, no ignorant acquiescence, can render legal an illegal act. No legal authority exists or can exist in the English Parliament to legislate for Ireland. If Ireland had adopted in 1800 towards the illegal Act of Union with England the attitude Hungary adopted in 1849 towards the illegal Union with Austria, England could not have sustained the “Act” of Union for ten years. Had Henry Flood lived she might have done so. Grattan was incompetent. He was an excellent orator, sincerely patriotic, but he was neither a statesman nor a leader of men. Plainly enough, like Saurin and Plunkett and Bushe and the other Irish legists he saw that the “Act” of Union was unconstitutional, but having salved his conscience by saying so, he considered he had done his duty to his country and returned to his favourite occupation of making eloquent speeches. All of the miscalled “constitutional” leaders who followed him worked on the assumption that the Act of Union was legal and binding. O’Connell asked for an impossibility when he asked for Repeal of the Union – there can be no legal repeal of an illegality.

Count Beust, the Austrian statesman, who arranged the Ausgleich with Hungary, had, twenty years later, much adverse criticism to offer on Gladstone’s attempt to “settle the Irish question.” The man who “settled the Hungarian question” pointed out that the legislature Gladstone proposed to erect in Dublin, and which the Irish Parliamentary Party declared itself willing to accept in “final” settlement of Ireland’s claim, conferred no real power on the Irish people, and even degraded Ireland to a lower position than she at present occupies, as in exchange for an illusory “Parliament,” she was required to give up her claim to distinct nationhood. Gladstone, in introducing his Home Rule Bill, had the audacity to compare it with the Ausgleich carried out by Beust and Deak. Beust pointed out in his criticism of Gladstone that the Ausgleich rendered the Hungarian Parliament co-ordinate with the Austrian Parliament, rendered Hungary absolute mistress of her own affairs, and gave her the status in international law of a sovereign State. In Hungary the Austrian is as much a foreigner as he is in France or England, and, as in those countries, must be naturalised before he can claim the rights of citizenship. Gladstone’s Bill proposed to erect a legislature in Dublin, subordinate to the Parliament of London – a legislature whose existence could be terminated in forty-eight hours if a majority of the British members of the British Parliament so desired, and this legislature was to be excluded from having any voice in questions of war and peace, foreign affairs, the army and navy, international treaties, customs dues, matters of currency, indirect taxation, etc. In return, Ireland was to resign for ever her status as a separate nationality and become a province of the Empire. There was scarce a province of the Austrian Empire whose petty Diet did not possess greater powers than Gladstone proposed to give his “Irish Legislature,” and the proposal in 1861 of the Austrians to give Hungary a Legislature with absolute power over the internal affairs of Hungary, but yet terminable in certain circumstances by the Act of the Viennese Parliament, was unanimously and contemptuously rejected by the Hungarian people. Beust, in continuing the analogy between the Hungarian and Irish questions, frankly admitted that Austria would never have conceded Hungary’s demand had Hungary not made it impossible for her to refuse it by the policy she adopted and persisted in for eighteen years. England, the statesman showed, would, similarly, never concede Ireland’s demands unless Ireland made it impossible for her to refuse them. There was no question of generosity or desire to do right in Austria’s action. She had sworn again and again that she never would and never could admit Hungary’s claims, as England has sworn again and again that it is mere midsummer madness for the Irish people to imagine she could assent to Irish independence. Swearing she would never consent, Austria consented – and England, like Austria, will consent when the Irish make it as impossible for her to combine dishonesty with profit as the Hungarians did in the case of Austria.

Count Beust admitted that the geographical position of Ireland was more favourable than the geographical position of Hungary, but he argued it as a serious weakness of her claim, that, unlike Hungary, Ireland had not a separate language and literature, and that she had, unlike Hungary, given her case away by sending members to the British Parliament, thus recognising its authority. The first of Beust’s objections was made in ignorance of Ireland, and would not, of course, be urged by him if he lived to-day. Ireland has a distinct language and literature of its own. The second is more serious, but not fatal. From the inception of “The United Irishman[1]” we have opposed the sending of Irishmen to sit in the British Parliament on two grounds (1) That it is a recognition of the usurped authority of a foreign assembly to make laws to bind the people of Ireland, and (2) That the policy of Parliamentarianism has been materially and morally disastrous to the country. We need not labour the latter point. No measure of a beneficial nature for this country has ever been passed by the British Parliament as a result of the presence, speeches, and action of the delegation from Ireland. The five measures which are usually accepted as beneficial, passed for Ireland by that Parliament the Catholic Emancipation Act, the Tithes Act, the Church Disestablishment Act, the Land Act of 1881 – with the supplementary Ashbourne Act – and the Local Government Act, were passed as a result of the unconscious carrying out by the people of the Hungarian policy – the policy of Passive Resistance – with occasional excursions into the domain of Active Resistance at strategic points. In one sentence the impotence of the Irish Parliamentary Party in Westminster can be exhibited. It has been there for thirty-three years – a generation – to keep it there Ireland has expended over £600,000 – and during the period of its existence the population of Ireland has decreased by 20 per cent., and the taxation of Ireland for British purposes has increased by 70 per cent. No condemnation is further needed than these figures. A man who runs his business on such lines ends in the Bankruptcy Court. A nation which persists in running its business on such lines must inevitably go smash[2].

The recognition of the competency of a British Parliament to make laws to bind this country, which, the attendance of the Parliamentary Party at West-minster implies, is, of course, a great political mistake; but Count Beust’s contention that Ireland surrendered her case when she returned men to sit in. the British Parliament, goes too far. The Act of Union is illegal and unconstitutional. Acceptance of seats in the British Parliament by Irishmen cannot render this illegal enactment legal. The temporary acceptance of the Act of Union as binding has had the unfortunate result of misrepresenting the position of Ireland to the world, and of confusing the minds of her people. It has led them into a cul-de-sac, and ignorance, vanity, and selfishness on the part of their leaders prevented them admitting the truth, and retracing their steps. O’Connell had one statesmanlike idea in his. latter life. It flashed across his mind to sum- mon the Irish Parliament to meet in Dublin, and, ignoring the illegal “Act” of Union, proceed to legislate for the country. There then existed a law known as the Convention Act, which forbade the assembly of delegates in Ireland, and the British Government attempted to counter O’Connell by its use. O’Connell sought to evade the provisions of the Act by calling his assembly the Council of Three Hundred, and the Young Ire- landers, recognising the political wisdom of the move, enthusiastically supported O’Connell – they even for the moment thought they had misjudged the Tribune in holding him to be no statesman. “If the members be wise and brave,” said John Mitchel, “Ireland will be saved.” The British Government was alarmed as it had not been alarmed since 1798. “In six months,” said Lord John Russell, “the power and functions of government will be wrested from our hands, and the Lord Lieutenant will sit powerless in Dublin Castle.” The preparations for the meeting of the Council of Three Hundred proceeded apace. Thomas Davis was selected to sit for the County Down, John Mitchel for the town of Banbridge: then O’Connell discarded his own proposal. The Council of Three Hundred never met the “Arbitration Courts,” which had been formed throughout the land to supersede the English Law Courts, were abandoned, and the English Government breathed freely again. Had Ireland been led by a statesman then, the end of the English government of Ireland was at hand. It is sixty years since, and our population has decreased by one-half. Our rights remain. The withdrawal of the Irish Parliamentary Party from the British Parliament and the summoning of the Council of Three Hundred to meet in Dublin are the initial steps for Ireland to take in the application of a National Policy. The Council of Three Hundred should meet in Dublin during a period of the year, and initiate, discuss, and pass measures calculated to benefit the country. These measures once passed, the County Councils, Urban Councils, Poor Law Boards, and other representative bodies should, so far as they have legal powers – and the powers of the Irish County Councils and Poor Law Boards are more extensive than most Irishmen wot of – enforce them. For instance, the County Councils have power to make monetary grants and levy rates for desirable purposes. If the Council of Three Hundred pass a measure affecting the industries or agriculture of Ireland, the County Councils can by united action give the measure much of the legal force of an Act passed by the British Parliament. Let it be recollected that even under the Coercion Act, there is no violation of the law committed by 300 gentlemen meeting in Dublin and recommending the adoption of measures to the Irish people calculated to improve their condition, and that there is nothing illegal in the Irish representative bodies using their full powers to give force to these recommendations. The County Councils of Hungary formed the strongest weapon of Kossuth in the Forties and Deak in the Sixties against the Austrian Government. The County Councils of Ireland possess in some respects greater powers than the County Councils of Hungary; it needs but their united action, under the guidance of a directing mind, to render them as, potent against English misgovernment as the Hungarian Councils were against Austrian oppression… A sum of £25,000 is raised annually for the upkeep of an impotent Irish Parliamentary Party in the British Parliament. This sum should continue to be raised, but be devoted to quite a different object, to the upkeep in all the great European capitals and important commercial centres of capable and patriotic Irish men of business, whose duties would be (1) to keep Europe acquainted with the truth about the struggle in Ireland, and (2) to secure a profitable market for Irish goods and produce abroad. The Hungarians adopted this plan with, a success that would seem incredible to the average Irishman. From Paris to New York Hungary established its consuls during the years of its struggles against Austria, and the efforts of these consuls trebled the export trade of Hungary during the period of their work. What Hungary did. Ireland can do, but at the present time Ireland has, not a direct representative of her interests in any Continental capital, and she is the only country in. Europe of which that fact is true. As a consequence our export trade to the Continent is insignificant and actually decreasing.

The institution of a system of Protection for Irish industries would be one of the principal duties- of the Council of Three Hundred, and one that, by the co-operation of the Irish pubic bodies, could be made effective. The Hungarians inaugurated and carried out such a system by means of the “Vedegylet” association. The supersession of the English civil courts in this island, by the institution of “Arbitration Courts,” such as the Young Irelanders projected and the Hungarians established, would be a matter of no difficulty and great profit to the nation. Voluntary Arbitration Courts are legal, and their decisions have all the binding force of Jaw when the litigants sign an agreement to abide by them. The Irish abroad, especially in America, could form a valuable auxiliary, both by rendering aid to Irish industrial enterprises and obstructing and thwarting the designs of English foreign policy, as the Hungarian exiles did from 1849 to 1867 in the case of Austria – although far less in number than the Irish abroad. It would, of course, be a principal duty of the Council of Three Hundred to keep Irishmen out of the ranks of the English armed forces. In Hungary the County Councils saw so effectively to this that the Austrian army was rendered ineffective, and went to pieces in seven days before the Prussians.

We have but roughly indicated how the policy which made Hungary what it is to-day may be applied to Ireland; where the circumstances of the countries differ, it is a work of detail to adapt the policy. For its successful working clear-thinking, uncompromising men are required to lead. There is no doubt of the readiness of the people to follow. The people of Ireland are not less patriotic and not less intelligent than the people of Hungary – three-fourths of their misfortunes are trace- able to their pusillanimous, incompetent, and sometimes corrupt leaders. An Irish Deak would have found in Ireland a support as loyal and as strong as Deak found in Hungary. But the Irish Deak never appeared, and shallow rhetoricians imposed themselves upon the people in his stead. Thus for a hundred years, with brief interruptions, Ireland has been consistently misled, and has paid for her weakness with the lives of half her people, and the loss of her fortune.

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, Ireland, by the determination and wisdom of her sons, was raised from the position of an insignificant and poverty-stricken province to the status of a nation and to a prosperity as great as that of any civilised country of her extent and population then existent. What Irishmen did in the eighteenth century, Irishmen are competent to do in the twentieth – what the Hungarians did for Hungary Irishmen can do for Ireland. None who reflect can doubt that, carried out with the same determination, the policy which resurrected Hungary from the tomb that Austria built for her in 1849 at Vilagos can end the usurped authority of England to rule our country.


[1] It will be remembered that the foregoing and all that follows was written in 1904.

[2] The decrease in Ireland’s population since the inception of the Parliamentarian movement is now (1918) 23 per cent, and taxation of Ireland for English purposes has risen 300 per cent.