If any one, after reading the title of this paper, should suppose that the author considers himself a prophet, and that the future is about to be unfolded before him, he had better read no further than this. What follows is only an attempt, and, perhaps a rough one at that, to think out the present situation.
A great many people in Ireland, unfortunately, live from hand to mouth; most of them, apparently, think after that fashion also. They not only think in that unsatisfactory way, but they impose arbitrary limits on their thinking. There are certain things which the average Irish mind will never allow as debatable. The spirit of nationality is eternal – that is a fine-flowing Irish maxim. No one ever thinks of asking himself – Is it? We nearly won in ’98; we may win another time. Another undisputed view. No one ever dares to ask himself – Can we? I suppose the Gael is a sensuous creature, liking music, rhetoric and day-dreams, and hating realities when they wear a dour and threatening look. We are the most fitted people in the world for living in a fool’s paradise.
No man of any sense would dream that this peculiarity of the Gael can be eradicated. No Irishman would wish it to be so. In many of its manifestations this characteristic of the Gael is his greatest charm. His optimism and hope spring from it; his good humour flows from it; his happiness and content, amid surroundings that would be intolerable to a more matter-of-fact nature, depend upon it. We can’t have our cake and eat it. And as we all are proud of the glamour and light-heartedness that are part of our national disposition, we must not grumble too much at the disadvantages which they carry in their train. But when these characteristics are indulged in to such an extent as to threaten our very existence as a nation, it is time to call a halt and examine whither we are drifting. The dreamy Spaniards, who possess so many characteristics like our own, had a very cruel awakening when ‘they found that the courage of their sailors, which might have swept the world under medieval conditions, was powerless before the money and ships of the Yankee. Even if the Anglo-Saxon race, or, as it is now being called, the English-speaking race, stopped where it is we could not keep on in our present way without disaster. But the English-speaking race, in the meshes of which we are interwoven by a thousand material and immaterial ties, is making the pace, and we must either stand up to it – which I fear we cannot; isolate ourselves from its influence – which we largely can do; or else get trodden on and swallowed up – which, it appears to me, is, if we keep on as we are going, inevitable.
I doubt if there is one Irishman who has ever mounted a platform to “speechify” who has not, at some time or another, declaimed that fine old hackneyed saying of Burke’s – “The age of chivalry is gone”. In so far as chivalry means sentimentalism, tilting at wind-mills, and cutting other absurd capers, it is, unfortunately, one of the things that has not gone out of Ireland yet. But the most remarkable thing about this quotation is that the other part of it – “That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded” – is never allowed to have a look in. None so poor as to repeat it. Yet economic tendencies. sway the world now. The highest aim of English and other statesmanship is to find new markets. What is known as the industrial revolution has changed the face of the world and fundamentally altered the forces that make the figures move. The new forces have driven Ireland into an ugly economic corner. Some of us keep on prating about physical force, whilst the weapons of every country are becoming more complex and expensive, and Ireland is losing what little she had. She is like a huxter’s shop in competition with a monster store, if we imagine that the huxter is still unable to see that the conditions of competition have changed since his rival was a huxter also. Owing to stagnation of thought, or some other reason, we keep on thinking that what was good enough for us a hundred years ago will serve us very well to-day. If English weapons of war had not improved we might have had another ’98 in the past year of grace, and have been more successful than on the last occasion. I remember visiting the Naval Exhibition some years ago with a friend of mine who had “gone out” with his rifle in the affair at Tallaght. I believe that until he had seen the stupendous engines of modern warfare there he nursed the hope that he might shoulder that rifle again in the cause of the liberty of his country. Up to this we have retained a little bit of our nationality by various means. The forces at work that tend to crush out this remnant are changing and growing every day, whilst we go on declaiming and growling and demonstrating, and, what is worse, persuading ourselves that we are a parcel of patriotic heroes, whilst all the time the observer with common sense sees that we are only playing the parts of hysterical old women.
Some time previous to 1782 the English who happened to be born in Ireland took a dislike to their mother country for various reasons not necessary to mention. The Irish people, who at this time were nearly all Gaelic-speaking and sunk in enforced ignorance, took little or no interest in this family dispute. Those few of them who did wished Grattan and his followers well, as they considered that the successful issue of the revolt would be beneficial to the mere Irish. This English revolt has ever since imposed itself upon the people as a thing embodying all the attributes of Irish nationality. Later on O’Connell roused the Irish nation, for the first time in modern history, but failed in his main purpose. He started the method of gaining influence over the people by flattering them. The poor people were so crushed at that time that a large amount of flattery was probably good for them and justifiable. But this method, after the circumstances that called for it had disappeared, has remained the one method of all our minor leaders since. Every one of them has his few fine-sounding flourishes with which he feeds the elemental appetite of the Irish gallery. They have got so much of that sweet stuff, with spicy personal abuse as a condiment, that they make wry faces at any other fare. One of the most common flourishes of the minor leader is the one about “the Isle of Destiny”, and what great vague things it is going to do in a manner never explained, as the gallery don’t want explanations. Then the minor leader knows that a Sarsfield flourish will always bring down the house; and a reference to Owen Roe, in a language which that chieftain would not have insulted his throat by attempting to speak, stamps him as a man deeply versed in his country’s historic lore. The ingredients that go to make a minor Irish leader are very simple – no wonder the trade is overcrowded. In many ways the Irish mind is very shrewd, but the Irish love of being in rosy conceit of the nation plays it strange tricks. We are conscious that we are breaking into fragments, but yet we somehow manage to keep our spirits up. We all tell one another that we are wonderful people, and we are happy on the strength of one another’s bombast. Since O’Connell’s time, the whole country, with the exception of a few primitive and remote patches, has lost all knowledge of the national language. In O’Connell’s time, Ireland, so far as the great body of the people were concerned, had no capital city. The Gaels did not read or write, and all they had to feed and influence their minds were the old stories and gossip in their native tongue. If the conditions under which they lived made advance impossible, they, at least, secured isolation. At the present time the capital of Ireland is London. This great change, with all that it implies, is a fact that must be reckoned with.
Let us attempt to trace the probable development of Ireland assuming the continued play of existing forces on both sides. First of all the age of economics has come. The human foundation of economic science is Adam Smith’s “economic man”, the individual who follows his self interest as measured in terms of cash. There is not any person who absolutely corresponds to the “economic man”, but we all tend that way. We are all economic men qualified by prejudices, sentiments, affections and so forth. How does the tendency which impels the man with sixpence to cross to the other side of the road, if he can get sevenpence, affect “Ireland a Nation”? Ireland is a poor country, situated, for all practical purposes, next to the two richest countries in the world, with both of which she is now in perfect accord as regards language. One country rules her – or tries to do so – and claims her inhabitants as fellow-countrymen when they behave themselves: the other contains more Irish blood than Ireland herself. She has a sentimental attachment for the United States: she has a sentimental hatred for England. The latter feeling, however, puts no barrier between them to hinder the play of economic tendencies; on the contrary, Irishmen take a keen delight in making good livelihoods out of their enemies. At present there is no stopping the march of Irishmen to the best markets, and every market in these English-speaking countries is open to us. The melancholy procession is never-ending. Every youngster with a little education and some enterprise looks round on his country, and, with few exceptions, sees no possible career for him in it, nor feels any compelling ties to bind him to it. He shakes the dust of Ireland from his feet on the first opportunity. I have seen it remarked somewhere that if the names of the most prominent 100 or 1,000 Irishmen were collected, nearly all of them would be found to belong to men who have left their country for ever. Many of them have gone vowing that at the first opportunity they would return; but, nevertheless, Ireland sees them no more.
Nearly all young Irishmen keep one eye on the possibility of emigrating. Their characters are formed under the shadow of that possibility, and they look upon their life in Ireland as a transitory fact. They give up their country, and they shape all their endeavours with a view to preparing them- selves for a foreign environment. If eventually they do not emigrate they help on the more vigorously the Anglicisation of their neighbours. Some time ago I was driving through a remote part of Kerry, and stopped at a village hotel to have something to eat. I invited the driver – a fine sturdy young chap – in, and he ate with his fingers. “Now, if I go to America,” said he, “they’ll make game o’ me for not bein’ able to use a knife and fork”. The eye is always on America or somewhere else. The point which I want this story to impress is this: If that man did not contemplate the probability of going to America he would be content during the course of his life, were it the easier way, to eat with his feet. Every incentive comes from abroad, and the Irish nation so deeply despises itself that it has ceased to develop by force of its own vitality. The Irish people who emigrate, never having been really Irish at all, quickly become absorbed into whatever community they fall among, during their own life-time; and in the next generation all signs of their Irish origin are usually lost. I know there may be some people who will feel inclined to throw down this article at this point and say – “Bosh!” They will be those who consider that the Irish-American of the boasting, blaspheming, vulgar type has preserved his Nationality.
Alongside of the outgoing Irish procession there is the foreign incoming one. Ireland is civilised, but she cannot supply the wherewithal for her own civilization. Even the little town from the back of God-speed is anxious in some ways to be up-to-date, and to toe the line with the great world outside. Ireland has invented nothing of importance during the century except the Dunlop tyre. I don’t say this as a reproach, as there are good reasons to explain the why and wherefore; and Irishmen abroad have done their share in this kind of progress. I only state it as a fact. But Ireland cries for very many of the modern mechanical inventions. Twenty years ago the people would have their photographs taken, like the rest of the advanced world, and a little stream of skilled men crossed the Channel and cornered that business before the native had a chance. She wants electric light, and again a little cargo of Saxons are unloaded on the Irish quays. Waterworks, railways and all the other modern developments have each deposited its little foreign colony in our midst. In Dublin the huxters’ shops and the public houses have Irish names over their doors, but the insurance offices and other complex institutions are largely controlled by Scotchmen. This tendency will go on because Ireland will keep demanding ready-made skill of a new kind which she can only get in so many cases from outside her own shores, for she has no way of developing it herself. She has become, from an economic point of view, a poor county of England. No one denies that Ireland can supply raw human material as good as, if not better than, any country in the world; but a large proportion of her people must get their experience and training out of Ireland. This state of affairs brings about facts like these: – When Ireland wants a new kind of mechanic she has got to import him from England or elsewhere, whilst on the other hand when England requires to make, say a Tower Bridge, she has to get an Irishman to engineer it. And the saddest part of it is that though Ireland is in this peculiarly weak economic position, the efforts of the enthusiasts to arouse her people to the vital necessity of strengthening the nation at this weak point are treated with shameful apathy, and are sometimes looked on with suspicion. The prating mock-rebel has no stomach for such prosy things. I do not believe that it was the intrinsic importance of the Financial Relations Question which caused it to spring so suddenly into popularity, but the grand opportunity which it offered for indulging in the sensuous pleasure of calling England – what, no doubt, she is – a robber and a cheat. A few years ago I was present at a very able lecture on the economic history of Ireland, after which there was a long discussion. During the course of the discussion even the word economy was scarcely uttered, but the hall rang with the rankest rebel clap-trap that one could wish not to hear.
What prospect, in view of this state of affairs, has Ireland a Nation in the future? The social and intellectual forces working in Ireland herself make for completing the destruction of whatever relics of nationality yet remain; and the outgoing stream, ever carrying away a portion of the cream of the race, and the incoming stream, hasten on the work. It may be said that the influx of the British into Ireland is very small, and that, in any case, history will repeat itself, and that they will in time become more Irish than the Irish themselves. I can see no foundation for this view; those who hold it forget the little fact that the relative conditions which obtain to-day are somewhat different from those which obtained three, four, five hundred years ago. When Ireland absorbed strangers, she was a strong, positive entity; she had customs, laws, language, and ways of thinking of her own. She held to these with grim fanatic intensity, and treated all foreign ways with a scorn perhaps greater than they deserved. There was something in the land in those days that had absorbing power. Is there anything now? No man can write to-day as Edmund Spenser wrote three hundred years ago – “It seemeth straunge to me that the English should take more delight to speake that language (Gaelic) than theyre owne, wheras they should, me thinks, rather take scorne to acquaynte theyr tonges therewith: for it hath bene ever the use of the conquerours to dispise the language of the conquered, and to force him by all meanes to learne his.” The tables are turned now. We have no scorn for the ways of strangers; we welcome them as teachers; we have nothing to teach them; every poor little ill-bred Saxon that comes along is a giver of light and a maker of manners. They hold the loadstone, and the Irish nation is moving their way.
I do not think it is in any way extravagant to predict that, as Irishmen refuse to rise to the economic occasion, the time is not far off when many of such industries as are suitable to the present condition of Ireland will be largely “run” by English commercial enterprise. It will not be done on the wholesale scale in which the South African Republic is exploited; but England is almost sure to send us over capital, skilled managers and foremen, to replace the native ability economic tendencies have, and will have, drawn out of Ireland, and the natives will do the servile work at wages lower than must be paid in England. Then there is the tourist traffic, which is already upon us, but yet in nothing like the volume which it is bound to assume. What good can this traffic do to Ireland a Nation? Without speaking of the demoralising influence of the “ tripper” himself, who forms the great bulk of the present-day touring public, there will be the troops of French chefs and Swiss waiters, and English managers and supernumeraries, which the tourist will demand for his money, for the man who pays call the tune. The English visitor must have a shock-headed Swiss to wait upon him, and Paddy will be good enough to laugh at. And Paddy has lost so much of his self-respect that he is only too glad to make a buffoon of himself for a few English coppers. In this age, when economic tendencies rule the world, there is no stopping the tourist development. Yet, this particular industry breeds some of the meanest types of the human species. It is all fawning on vulgar people with money, tip-taking and cringing. It breeds beggars in rags and beggars in broad-cloth – products which, I need scarcely point out, do not tend to the glory or preservation of Ireland a Nation.
For many years the Irish nation has been breaking up before the inexorable forces of political economy. The Irish language was dropped, because it hindered the people from making their way in the world; millions have left their native land through necessity or with the money-making fever in their veins, and the best intellect of the country has wandered, does and will wander, all over the world for the golden markets of foreign lands. We have all been brought up from our cradles in a half-hearted Anglo-Saxon civilization, as it was possibly amongst that people that we should have to seek our fortunes. There is certainly a sediment of the race that was not influenced. Some of the country poor learnt nothing, and we despise them; a still lesser number remained Gaelic-speaking, by the accident of their geographical position, and we make game of them.
Amid all this decomposition of the nation there is one movement that is claimed to have risen spontaneous out of the soul of Ireland. A certain number of Irish literary men have “made a market” – just as stock-jobbers do in another commodity – in a certain vague thing, which is indistinctly known as “the Celtic note” in English literature, and they earn their fame and livelihood by supplying the demand which they have honourably and with much advertising created. We make no secret of the reason why we have dropped our language, have shut out our past, and cultivate Anglo-Saxon ways. We have done them all in the light of day, brutally, frankly – for our living. But an intelligent people are asked to believe that the manufacture of the before-mentioned “Celtic note” is a grand symbol of an Irish national intellectual awakening. This, it appears to me, is one of the most glaring frauds that the credulous Irish people ever swallowed. I hope no one will think that I am attacking the “Celtic note” from an English literary point of view. I am looking at it merely from the point of view of the Irish nation, of which it is put forward as a luminous manifestation, Beyond being a means of fame and living to those who can supply the demand, what good is the “Celtic note” in English literature to the Irish nation? What good is it to any, except the owners of them, that Irish names figure largely in current English literature? I hasten to allow that it secures for Ireland a little bit of English patronising praise, which is at present the breath of our Irish national nostrils. We were recently asked to swell ourselves out with pride after contemplating the English debt to Irish literature. What a happy pass we have come to when we cry out with joy because of the gifts we have given our enemies. Has the Irish nation got anything for it? Nations which give away things and get nothing in return are playing the fool; nations that pride themselves on their folly are crazy. The next thing which we shall be asked to pride ourselves about is that we give England two-and-a-half millions a year for nothing.
I have attempted to show that economic forces make for the obliteration of the Irish nation. The question which every Irishman should think out for himself is whether it is better to allow economic tendency to work its way free from all sentimental obstructions, or whether he will elect to attempt to stem the tide and endeavour to fight on for the realisation of the dream of Ireland a Nation. History satisfies us that when Irishmen have a good definite sentiment to stick to they can put their backs against the wall and defy a material world in arms. Economic force and ruthless oppression combined could not rob the Catholic Irish of the religion which they believe to be right, and these forces, were they combined again, cannot kill the Irish nation if the Irish nation makes up its mind to live.
It was true all through this century – and it is true now – that legislative independence – even entire political separation – would only have cleared the decks for the work of the rehabilitation of the Irish nation; and, if under present conditions the people do nothing but keep their eyes on the English Parliament and Irish political agitators, I submit, for the broad reasons I have referred to, that the break up of the Irish nation will shortly have gone too far for remedy. It is unpleasant to watch a man going to the devil with the very best of muddle-headed intentions. If Ireland will go to the devil, let her go as a responsible entity, and not drift there unknowingly, while she is making a great demonstration ploughing the sands. If we don’t care about Ireland a Nation, if we won’t pay the price at which it must be bought, let us admit the fact to ourselves, and shape our course accordingly. Take all such literature as “Speeches from the Dock” from the hands of the Irish youth. The little squint-eyed bit of nationality, the spirit of impotent hate and surly growl, which we get from such sources, do no good under present conditions. On the contrary the sentimental and ineffective sulks which these books put most of us into do us a great deal of material harm. Even abroad, the ’98 spirit, the spirit which causes us to sit down and put our hats on when “God Save the Queen” is struck up, shuts us out from a great many avenues that would lead to our better material well-being; and it creates an anti-Irish prejudice in England which falls hardly on the Irish working classes in the British towns and cities. Why not make a decent job of it while we are about it, and fire the whole national bag of tricks into oblivion – send “Speeches from the Dock” and the likes of it after our language, customs, literature, and self-respect? Let us be Irish as the lowland Scotch are Scotch. Let us shout that God may save the Queen or anyone else whom it may serve our policy to toady to at the moment. Let us work up an ambition in the hearts of Irish youth to become Empire makers and civilisers of the heathen. If the rebel sentiment against serving the Empire were removed I do not think it would be too much to say that hundreds of Irish boys, out of the National and Christian Brothers’ Schools, would rise to the front ranks of Empire-makers, and load their pockets with riches: as it is they stop at home and stultify themselves, or go abroad organising insurrections which never come off. If Ireland became politically “loyal,” as the logical extension of her other backslidings, she would in no way, I submit, hasten the passing of the nation. And think of what we should gain – we should get cart-loads of the English praise that we thirst after: we should get a royal residence which would induce thousands and thousands of additional ill-bred trippers to come into our midst, and teach us genteel English manners of speech and behaviour; the Mayors of Dublin and Cork would stand a chance of being knighted, as well as those of Belfast and Derry; politicians – for there would be still politicians – would be free to hob-nob with high placed people without prejudice to their avocation as mob orators. In short, a little beggarly smug millennium might be expected to descend upon the land. The Irish people would at least have acted thoroughly and logically, and those who did not like the new complexion of things could leave it, and forget that they ever had a country. As it is, so strong is the mere rebel sentiment, that an Irishman feels he does something most unscrupulous if he touches Dublin Castle with a tongs, with the result, that the Government officials in Ireland—when they are Irish—are frequently men who have turned venemously against their country, just as people who change their religion, from some unworthy motive, usually turn on their former persuasion. Yet, is the Irishman who thanks God he has a country to sell, and goes up to Dublin Castle and sells it, doing any more real damage to “Ireland a Nation” than the shouting rebel who holds himself aloof, drifts with the Anglicising tide, and waits, sulking in poverty, for something which never turns up? Both are selling their country, and isn’t there something to be said for the man who is sensible enough to get something for what he gives away?
If this thorough and logical policy does not meet with the approval of the Irish people let them take the other practical and effective course. The average Irish head does not take kindly to thinking out national problems for itself; but, I believe, the instinct of every Irish heart is to compass by some means or other a real separation from England – not the separation adorned with the bleeding heads of “loyalists”, and illuminated by their burning homes, that the Primrose dames love to shriek about, but a separation of national personality, the keeping distinct and clear cut as many things as possible that may mark us off from our neighbours. Along this line lies the only effective way in which we can attempt to regain our lost nationality. We must retrace our steps, and take as much of our inspiration as possible from our own country and its history. We must be original Irish, and not imitation English. Above all, we must re-learn our language, and become a bi-lingual people. For, the great connecting link between us and the real Ireland, which few of us know anything about, is the Gaelic tongue. A national language will differentiate us from the rest of the world, and keep us ever in mind that we are an entity of original and historic growth, not a parasite stuck on to the side of England because our own heart was too weak to keep the vital spark in us. A distinct language is the great weapon by which we can ward off undue foreign influence, and keep ourselves surrounded by a racy Irish atmosphere. The value of such a language as a fount of a hundred inspirations; its direct and indirect influence on the character of a people; its potent isolating power, are things gone beyond the necessity of proof now. The state of Wales, where political union is not questioned, contrasted with the state of Ireland, where we have been working all the century to hoist the harp without the crown, bears its own eloquent witness; the language wars on the Continent proclaim them, and we have the echo of the voice of the Irish-hating Spenser ringing out from three hundred years ago – “for it hath ever bene the use of the conquerors to dispise the language of the conquered, and to force him by all meanes to learne his”. There is one great advantage which a language movement has over a political agitation, an advantage which must appeal to a people sick to despair with disappointed hopes – it cannot be betrayed by any leaders. The death of one man, or the stupidity and cowardice of a section in an hour of crisis, cannot render years of labour worse than useless: every move is a step forward and a step that cannot be blotted out. A movement of this kind stands like a cone upon its base, not like so many of our disastrous agitations, a cone upon its apex with one man holding it in place. When the fashionable young Irishman and woman, not overburdened with strength of character – the type which in every community follows the tide whithersoever it may lead – can talk Irish as well as English, and knows more of the real Ireland than of modern London, then there will be a genuine Irish nation – whoever may be making the laws – which economic tendencies, battering rams, or the Queen’s soldiers will be powerless to kill. If anyone is startled at this view, and decides that it is impossible of realisation, that the price is too much, the difficulties too great, then let him have the courage of his convictions, think things out to a rational conclusion, and cease playing the fool.
As far as I can see the national journals do not agree with this view, neither do the rank and file of the people – they in fact do not appreciate that it has any real importance whatever. In face of the fact that so many numerically – even though proportionately they are not considerable – hold grimly by the necessity of restoring the language as they would by an article of faith, it were time that the national papers should try to justify their attitude by attempting to show the movement up to ridicule, and prove that this hankering after an old language is only at best a fad or a mere academic movement. Some of the papers countenance it, others of them patronise it, none stick their faith to it, but all are apparently afraid to attack it. This is not spirited. The political leaders for the most part follow a similar flabby policy. It is allowed a look in on sufferance in the paper programmes of some of the Irish-at-Home-and-Abroad conventions, but nothing comes of it. Human nature in essentials is the same all the world over. The English Government take no notice of an Irish grievance until things are made hot for it, and the Irish powers that be, the politicians and the press, will go on ignoring this national movement until it becomes so pressing that they will have to swallow it whether they will or no. A master of tactics, like Parnell, would have seen the importance of annexing it before he was publicly forced to adopt it.
At the present moment the Ireland that we love is an Ireland of our dreams and fancies, in which we can live as well – perhaps better – though we exist and move on a foreign soil. The real Ireland is not a land of heart’s desire. Does a patriotic Irishman who has lived and made a fortune abroad ever go back to spend the rest of his days in the land of his birth? A few have tried it. There was Kevin Izod O’Doherty, for instance, who came back to sniff his native air, and, evidently not liking the smell of it, departed after a decent interval. The people who emigrated from Ireland were only about half Irish when they left, and in a foreign environment they quickly became absorbed. I once heard a man bewailing bitterly the lack of patriotism on the part of those Irishmen who have become rich abroad, and who refuse to come back to Ireland when they retire from their work. But the fault is in Ireland and not in the voluntary exile. Where is the motive to come from? The man was sent out in the first place half Anglicised, and the associations that might have surrounded his younger years, and which would appeal to him in later times, he never experienced. What is there to come back to? Whatever part of the Anglo-Saxon world he may be in he hears better English spoken, he finds more thought and activity, more thoroughness and independence of character: he finds, in short, that in everything that appeals to a man the real is better than the imitation.
When an Irish generation is brought up with a knowledge of the Irish language, and gets a view through that, the only possible medium, of the character, and genius of their race, they will feel a thousand new cords binding them to their native country. They will cease to be the unworkable compound which they are now—Gaels by heredity, and English by adoption. It is not conceivable that the Irish born under such circumstances will cease to be drawn to the better economic markets of the English-speaking countries, but though the relative economic weakness of Ireland will remain a permanent fact, her position is capable of being considerably strengthened, and a real Irish atmosphere would act as a barrier to emigration by tying the people’s hearts to their country, and by intensifying the foreign nature of other lands. And even those who do go will have been licked into national shape before their departure, and will carry a good deal of their Irish atmosphere along with them, and help to form genuine Irish colonies across the seas. Had the Irish-speaking millions who left Ireland since the Famine been educated, self-respecting men, instead of being cringing spirits ashamed of their language, great tracts of the United States might be Irish speaking and Irish thinking: had the sea-divided Gael carried their language with them in their wanderings what a potent imperial race the Irish would be to-day! We have lost those emigrants in a two-fold sense: they went out from us, and the English-speaking race which threatens to swamp us, swept them into her net. English traditions, language and influence have been made irresistible by the colonising Irish Gael!
I have refrained from referring to many points for fear of dragging out this paper to an unwelcome length. Yet, if I succeed in inducing anyone who may read it to grip the question for himself from the points of view I have taken, he can go into the bye-ways of reflection which it leads to, on his own head, as well as he could on mine. I have made a rough effort in one article to present a picture of a situation which should, properly, be treated piece by piece in half-a-dozen, and, therefore, all attempt at that nicely-regulated sequence and finish, which lazy-minded readers crave for, had to be abandoned. I hope no one will take away the impression that in my eagerness to dethrone political agitation from its present false position as the begin-all and end-all of Irish nationhood, I wish in any way to belittle its necessity and importance in its relative place. But the time has come when people and politicians must be made to recognise that there are two other Irish movements as important as politics, and which have an equal right to as much public attention as Home Rule. Both movements are in their infancy yet, but each has a great possibility before it. One is the movement which aims at making the best of Ireland’s economic opportunities, and the other, that for reviving a universal interest in all that appertains to the Gael and his language.