A CALL TO ARMS. TO IRISHMEN IN SOUTH AFRICA.
September 13, 1899.
The Government of the Transvaal being now threatened with extinction by our ancient foe, England, it is the duty of all true Irishmen to throw in their lot with the former, and be prepared by force of arms to maintain the independence of the country that has given them a home, at the same time seizing the opportunity to strike a good and effective blow at the merciless and tyrant power that has so long held our people in bondage.
The position of affairs in the Transvaal to-day is exactly similar to what it was in Ireland at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion. As soon as the first English adventurers had established a footing there, their liege lord, Henry the Second, claimed the suzerainty, and from that day forward, the story of Ireland’s wrongs and sufferings began. Under each succeeding British sovereign the deeds of England in Ireland are written in letters of blood in the history of the nation. In the days of good Queen Bess the country was given over to fire and sword, and old and young, men and women, were murdered indiscriminately. The memory of the massacre at Drogheda, by order of the infamous regicide, Cromwell, is still darkly remembered in Ireland, and the England of that day applauded and justified the cold-blooded butchery as a righteous judgment executed. In no country in the world has the family tie always been held in greater reverence in Ireland. To outrage this noble feeling and to cause bitter tears of sorrow to flow from heart-broken parents in many a lowly cabin the inhuman monster Cromwell caused some thousands of the children of the poorer people (seized in a raid like Herod’s) to be sold as slaves in the West Indies, and the innocent Irish girls to be sent to Jamaica, consigned to a fate of degradation and shame. May his memory be forever accursed!
The treaty stone of Limerick remains to this day a mute but eloquent witness of England’s worthless promises and broken faith. In the reign of Anne the Irish people were reduced to a condition closely resembling the bondage which black slaves endured in the Southern States of America. Under her successors this dreadful state of things continued, until 1798, that year of sad though glorious memory, when the people of Ireland, goaded nearly to madness by an intolerable tyranny, made a gallant but unsuccessful attempt to throw off the British yoke. Needless to recount with what cruelty the miserable remnant of the people were treated. Half strangulation, the pitchcap and triangle, were some of the mildest of the tortures, which inflicted such agonies that death in comparison would have been merciful. The Act of Union was passed by the aid of 150,000 armed men, and millions of corruption money. Three years later the executioner was busy, and the scaffold was reeking with the best blood of the Irish nation. All know the fate of the gallant men of ’48 and ’67. Some received the sentence which was to cut short the thread of their existence, to consign them to a bloody and ignominious death, and to leave their bodies mutilated corpses from which the rights of Christian burial were to be withheld. Against others a fate hardly less painful and appalling was decreed. Recent revelations have thrown a lurid light on the horrors endured by the Irish political prisoners who have languished within English prisons, but it needs far more than a half-stifled cry from the dungeon depths to enable the outside world to realise the misery, the wretchedness and degradation attached to the condition to which England reduces her political prisoners. They are daily exposed to the persecution of brutal, coarse-minded men, and restricted to a course of discipline which blasts the vigour of the body, as in the case of P. W. Nally, who died on the very day of his release, and under whose influence reason herself totters upon her throne, as happened to Dr. Gallagher, Whitehead and many others.
The present reign, so lauded as the most prosperous for other portions of the British possession, has been one of the most disastrous for Ireland, as the following statistics will show. Since the accession of Queen Victoria, in Ireland 1,225,000 died of starvation, 6,000,000 were evicted, and 4,200,000 emigrated, giving a grand total of 10,425,000 Irish people destroyed through English misrule. If the scenes enacted in Ireland in days gone by have been revolting ones, equally as bad have been witnessed within the past few years. The people assembling in a peaceful and orderly manner to ask for the redress of their many grievances have ben dispersed, battered, and shot down by police and soldiers, and all can remember the famous, or rather infamous, telegram from an English official to his subordinate at Mitchelstown on the morning of an Irish meeting there – “Don’t hesitate to shoot.”
With the story of Ireland’s wrongs and sufferings before them no wonder the Boer people refuse to surrender their cherished independence to the hateful sway of Britain. England has been the vampire that drained Ireland’s life-blood for centuries, and now her difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity. When the American colonists took up arms in defence of their liberties amongst the comrades of the brave Lafayette some of the most conspicuous were members of the Irish Brigade, and in a short time the ominous words were heard in the English Parliament – “America has been lost through the Irish.” May not history repeat itself in South Africa?
Irishmen, you are called upon to join in the defence and the assertion of a people’s liberty, and the sword is blessed in that sacred cause! The ashes of those who have died on the scaffold and in exile for Ireland repose in many lands, and to you, the inheritors of their name and heroic spirit, their martyr blood cries aloud for vengeance. Let your arms be ready to strike, your spirit ready to sacrifice for the accomplishment of that object. Guiltless millions of your countrymen have perished unavenged. The time is at hand to avenge your dead. Irishmen! England’s hands are red with the blood, and her coffers are filled with the spoil, of the Irish people, and we call upon you to rise as one mass, and seize upon the present glorious opportunity of retaliating upon your ancient foe. Act together and fight together! Prepare! The end is in view! The day of reckoning is at hand!
LONG LIVE THE REPUBLIC!
IRISHMEN TO THE RESCUE!
GOD SAVE IRELAND!
By order of the Transvaal Irish Volunteers’ Association.
For particulars apply to Secretary, Box No. 3956, Johannesburg.