In the fourteen years that have passed since “The Resurrection of Hungary” was written, Ireland continuing to pursue the policy rejected by Hungary in its conflict with Austria, has had its population further reduced by eighty thousand souls and its taxation trebled. In the British Parliament, whither it sent its representatives, those representatives during that period supported in office four successive English Governments; associated Ireland with England’s declaration of war upon Germany; aided England’s Government to impose English war taxes upon this country; declared that Irish manhood must subserve the war aims of England; announced willingness to aid England to conscript Irish youth should it be necessary to English victory; and agreed with England to partition Ireland in the twentieth century as Russia, Prussia and Austria partitioned Poland in the eighteenth.
In the same space of time sixteen Irishmen were executed and two thousand five hundred Irishmen deported and imprisoned on proof or suspicion of seeking that measure of independence for Ireland which England claims for nations that lie within the dominion of the Powers upon whom she declared war.
In the past year the British Premier stated in the British House of Commons (a) that Ireland is still as unreconciled to England as it was in the days of Oliver Cromwell; (b) that the Irish representatives in England’s Parliament had never claimed for Ireland that sovereign independence England claims for Belgium, Serbia, Rumania and Poland; and (c) that England would never yield Ireland back her sovereign independence.
These are the evil fruits of Parliamentarianism masquerading as Constitutionalism physical and economic decay, moral debasement, and national denial.
The constitutional leader of Hungary Francis Deak refused to associate his country with Austria’s war against Prussia even when Austria bid the restoration of Hungary’s independence as the price. None but the Government of a free Hungary might pledge the lives and property of the people of Hungary. The pseudo-constitutional leaders of Ireland pledged Ireland’s blood and treasure to England’s war upon Germany and Austria-Hungary without even offer of the bribe of Irish independence, and without reference to the Irish people. The Irish people have disowned their false leaders, but the sin was less in the men than in the system. Irish Parliamentarianism, born of the Act of Union and based upon admission of English right over Ireland, was inherently vicious. It constituted not a national expression, but a national surrender. It was the acceptance of moral and constitutional right in another country to shape our destinies; and whither it led the Irish people to the attempted renunciation of their national past and their national future to provincialism, partition, and foreign conscription – was whither it tended by the law of its being.
When Mr. Pitt, having struck down an organised and centred Ireland, induced the Irish to send their representatives to a foreign Senate to discuss with a foreign majority the affairs of this country, and to accept the vote of the foreign majority as the deciding factor Mr. Pitt came nearer to conquering Ireland than came Mountjoy, who handed over Ire- land to Elizabeth “carcases and ashes,” or than came Cromwell when, with fire, sword, and slaveship, he “settled Ireland for all time.” For Mr. Pitt achieved by fraud what the warriors failed to gain by force. He confused the moral standards of the nation. He caused Ireland to revolve on an axis not its own. He made Irish nationality a doubter of its own existence, and in Irish politics he made a chaos.
Thus most Irishmen lost the instinct of thinking nationally, and came to think of Ireland in terms of English Toryism or English Whiggery, English Radicalism or English Socialism. They grew to look upon this English party or class as a friend, and that English party or class as an enemy. Hence they ceased to recognise in all English parties and classes the same England in different garments. Mesmerised by London – whither its eyes were turned away – Ireland permitted, one by one, the attributes of nationhood to be filched, and in the end the Irish Nation, dwindling from the earth, listened to the spellbinders who half-persuaded it that duty and allegiance lay outside itself, and were in fact due to that country which had erased its name from the list of independent nations.
Ireland was sick – mind-drugged by Parliamentarianism – but Ireland is convalescing. The memory of what she was and the realisation, of what she is are restoring her to national health. She sees herself as Hungary came to see herself through eyes no longer fitted to foreign spectacles. She sees Finland stand up a free Republic, Poland arise a sovereign Kingdom. She asks shall she, their elder sister, be less in the world’s account, and she demands to-day an equal independence. It is the story of the Sibylline Books.
Fifty-seven years ago the London “Times,” writing of the struggle then waging, said of the Hungarians –
They wish to be Hungarians, and not Germans, and they have no desire to be dragged by Austria into German politics and be compelled to spend their money and lives in pursuit of objects in which they have no interest.
That is to-day the position of the people of Ireland. They wish to be Irish, and not English, and they have no desire to be dragged by England into British politics and be compelled to spend their money and their lives in pursuit of objects in which they have no interest.
ARTHUR GRIFFITH. January 20, 1918.