From The United Irishman, January 31, 1885.
John! The New York Herald of January 26 prints a long telegram from Paris about the great victory the Irish won, fighting the English enemy in the enemy’s great citadel of London, and I see in the dispatch this passage about you.
“It is an indisputed fact that the notorious John Morrissey, of County Carlow, who was a head centre in the revolutionary movement of 1867 and the preceding years, has visited Paris, and he is believed to have taken part in the explosions. The dynamite used on this occasion was manufactured in France, and forwarded to England several months ago in separate cakes to localities designated, where the pieces were scientifically amalgamated. More serious work is contemplated shortly.”
John! John! I do not know what to say about your making yourself known this way. If you had a hand in the fight, I do not wonder you should glory in it, I do not wonder you should rejoice at it, and I do not wonder you should boast of it. In the seven hundred years of England’s ruthless war upon Ireland, Ireland has not had such a victory as she now has in this blow struck last week in the heart of the enemy’s country. It has made the heart of the Irish People leap with joy in every part of the world where an Irishman’s heart beats today.
I was up at Wicklow Byrne’s yesterday, and when I went into the parlour he stood up, he laughed heartily, and he actually danced with delight. I called to see Major Horgan. The Major is not as strong as he was when you last saw him, and sorry I am for it. He was thinking of going to Florida for a few months for the good of his health; but now I don’t think he’ll go at all; the news from London has put new life into him.
“Why, Rossa,” said he, “’tis enough to make John Mitchel, and Thomas Davis, and Robert Emmet, and Lord Edward, and Owen Roe, and Red Hugh, and all the other Irish martyrs, dance with delight in the other world.”
Yes, John Morrissey, ‘tis the grandest piece of work in Irish history, and ‘tis a great day for Ireland. I do not wonder at your glorying in it. But, John, is it possible that you have Kate with you over there? That is what John Neville, of Kilkenny, asked me in Chambers street, a few minutes ago. He spoke of that night we were at your wedding, in 1864, in Dublin. Is it possible, John, that this is Kate?
Some hours after the explosion a soldier, remembered the visit to the Tower of a woman, who was apparently about to become a mother, and who was tenderly assisted along by a tall and soldiery-looking man. Both vanished before the gates were closed. The police now believe that the woman was padded with dynamite. The gatekeeper at the Tower remembers the entrance of the woman, but cannot remember her departure. The theory continually gains ground that this mysterious woman was the active agent in the Tower explosion.
If that was Kate, John, she must have got right royal notions into her head, to go into the great Tower of London to get “delivered.” You recollect the last place we met; you recollect Finerty and Dunne and Tom Dwyer were at the meeting; you remember there was another place spoken of that is not touched yet. I expected to see that go up, too; but I suppose the “resources of civilization” are yet in reserve for it. That’s what Gladstone said to Parnell in Parliament one time. “Let me tell the honourable member,” said he, “that the resources of civilization are not yet exhausted.” Good for Gladstone, good for Ireland that he spoke these words; he has taught us the lesson; and it is well to learn a lesson from the enemy. Do you know Latin, John? Here is the quotation: Fas est ab hoste deceri.
The English in America are mad, John; and they are working heaven and earth to get English laws passed here. The work was underway before this London explosion took place at all; because England employed spies here, and these spies put up dynamite jobs themselves, and then they gave information about them, as if it was our people put up the work. They laid that information before the President, and they made such a fool of the poor man that in his last Presidential message to the people he spoke of the necessity of enacting laws against dynamite. The English think they have worked the matter cutely; they have “seen” the two parties in this country – the Whig and the Tory parties – and they have made their bargain with them to introduce the bill. One party is to propose it, and the other party is to second the motion. Edmunds was one of the candidates for President on the Republican side at the last election, and Bayard was one of the candidates on the Democratic side. Look at this dispatch from Washington that I read in the World this morning:
“WASHINGTON, January 25. – Senator Edmund’s bill directed against the dynamiters in this country, introduced in the Senate yesterday, was written upon the paper of the State Department. It was evident that the measure was prepared there. Mr. Edmunds, since he took charge of the Nicaraguan treaty, has become the mouthpiece of the Administration. It is possible that this bill will be rushed through the Senate, but it will make slower progress in the House.
The Secretary of the Treasury has today ample authority to control the exportation of explosives, and no additional legislation is needed. However rigorous a law may be passed, its enforcement will in the end depend upon the Secretary of the Treasury. There are a number of members who have no sympathy with the dynamiters and who are opposed to any hurried legislation, as it will mean nothing, in their judgment, but a gushing sympathy with a Government which did all in its power to put money in the purses of its citizens at the expense of the American people during the late war of the rebellion.”
There will be some “hair fly” in this country, John, before you see this English law passed here. See that mild reminder up there, of the part England played in the last American war. That Major Horgan I speak of above there fought his way bravely through that war, in the Eighty-eighth Regiment of the Irish Brigade, while England was at the same time fitting out war ships to supply money, arms and ammunition to destroy the Union. Not that she loved the Southern people more than she loved the Northern people. She hated both alike, but she hated the Union of all peoples in America, and she tried to break up that Union. I’ll say no more to you, John. I wish you good-bye, and wish you luck, and wish you health, wealth and prosperity. Some of the American papers will copy what I say to you. What I say to you may be telegraphed to London and to Paris; it is safer for me to write to you this way than write in manuscript or by hand. All the boys are well, and I am in strong hope that, now that our brothers in exile all over the world see that the fight is going on in earnest, they will come to your assistance with the sinews of war.
One word more. War is war; and if this late victory in London will not bring the enemy to terms, a more desperate stroke can be struck. We are not allowed here to engage in the fight with you, but it is not illegal for us to give assistance or to give suggestions. I was speaking to Dennie Corbett yesterday.
“Rossa,” said he, “if I was over in London, I could get fifty men, or fifty women, and I’d locate them in fifty hotels or lodging houses, in a circle that would compass three or four squares in the heart of London; I’d have them so prepared with the ‘Resources of Civilization’ that, at one appointed hour, the fifty men or the fifty women would set fire to their rooms, and go about their business. The rush of fire engines to the fifty fires would blockade the streets in the small compass I speak of. The fires may spread through London in spite of all efforts to extinguish them, and the prophecy or the picture Macauley drew for that New Zealander may be realized.”
“Think well on it.” That is a quotation, John, from the little religious book I used to see Kate reading long ago.
Yours as ever, John,