From The Irish People, December 26, 1863.
Our duty as National journalists would be easy of performance, if we had to deal only with the open enemy. Neither should we be troubled with many compunctious visitings when obliged to lay the lash upon the shoulders of those recreant Irishmen, who wear out their lives ingloriously, in shameful forgetfulness of the allegiance which all men owe to the land that gave them birth. It were rather a pleasure than otherwise, too, to spoil the trade of political mountebanks who trumpet their panaceas for the speedy and certain cure of the wounds of Ireland, in order to put money in their own purses. But besides all there is a class of men of men amongst us who devote much time to regenerating their country; who burn the midnight oil in endeavouring to clothe the limbs of Revolution in graceful and becoming garments – ensuring their friends that Revolution is by no means the vulgar monster he is usually represented to be – and who do this from no sordid motive whatever. We are even free to admit that some of these patriots do make sacrifices (after a fashion) for the sake of principle; and for this reason we should most willingly let them go their way unchallenged, if we were not convinced that their lucrubations must work some mischief, if our friends should be left under the impression that we see nothing to object to in this peculiar species of revolutionary literature. By the bye, some of these public instructors seem to be subject to periodical fits of revolution on the brain. While the attack lasts, “Revolution,” in all the terror of Italics, stares at us from beginning to end of their compositions; and though the dreadful word is generally locked in a parenthesis, we cannot help feeling nervous while reading them. Louis XV had such a terror of death that its name was never allowed to be uttered in his presence. When he went abroad he was preceded by couriers, whose office it was to turn all funeral processions out of the royal route. Every object that might suggest the dreaded thought to the royal mind was carefully kept out of sight. Yet Louis the XV would at times stop his carriage opposite the cemetery, and would send to the sexton to know how many new-made graves there were that morning! But comparisons are odious.
One of the most prolific of these well-meaning ready writers in his last hebdomadal lecture, represents Ireland at home as “benumbed,” and declares that “for all practical purposes she is as dead, since she shows no sign of life whatever.” This will be news to the Fenian Brotherhood, whom this writer seems anxious to damn with faint praise. Did not he know that the resolutions, “so quiet in tone, and so outspoken in purpose, assumed that Ireland was neither “bemused” nor “as dead.” If the writer’s object was to weaken and destroy “the formidable organisation placed under the command of Mr. O’MAHONY,” he could hit upon no hotter plan for his purpose than that of persuading our exiled countrymen (as he does try to persuade them) that we here are waiting with folded arms for them to come and set us free. Fortunately, however, our exiled brothers know how to estimate those silly or insidious attempts to misrepresent us at their true value.
Is it not strange if Ireland be the “benumbed” thing she is represented to be, that this writer should have thought it necessary to warn the young men of Ireland against “conspiracies,” and “military marching,” and “drilling and training” – sagely assuring them that “drilling and training” could be “well learned in a few weeks if ever it should come to be needed!”
May heaven defend us from such public instructors and grant us patience to bear calmly the terrible visitation which they weekly inflict upon us.
In the meantime let us assure our transatlantic friends that so far from being “benumbed,” our blood makes as healthful music as we or they could wish.