Nov. 7th, 1848. – In my cell, “Dromedary” Hulk. – This evening, after dusk, as I sat at my window, looking drearily on the darkening waters, something was thrown from the door of my cell, and lighted at my feet. I heard a quick noiseless step leaving the door. Picking up the object, I found it to be a London paper. The Halifax mail has arrived – I long for the hour when my cell is to be locked, and carefully hide my treasure till then.
At last the chief mate has locked and bolted me up for the night. I light a candle, and with shaking hands spread forth my paper.
Smith O’Brien has been found guilty, and sentenced to be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution and hanged. The other trials pending.
21st. – All the four – O’Brien, Meagher, M’Manus, O’Donoghue – sentenced to death. But the enlightened Spirit of the Age – the d—- take his enlightened cant! – is going to spare their lives, and only transport them for life. I have seen a part of Butt’s speech in defence of Meagher – bad. Also the few words spoken by poor Meagher after conviction; brave and noble words.
I have been sick, and unable to write. Why do I not open my mouth and curse the day I was born? Because – because I have a hope that will not leave my soul in darkness – a proud hope that Meagher and I together will stand side by side on some better day – that there is work for us yet to do – that I am not destined to perish on the white rocks of Bermuda – that the star of Thomas Meagher was never kindled to set in this Clonmel hurdle.
Of the state of public opinion in Ireland, and the spirit shown by the surviving organs thereof, I have but this indicium. The Freeman’s Journal, one number of which I have seen, ventures as a piece of incredible daring, to print some words used by Whiteside in his speech for the prisoners – words deprecatory of the packing of juries, or something of that sort. The editor ventures on no remarks of his own, and carefully quotes Whiteside’s words as “used by counsel.” Quite, quite down! Yet, on the whole, I do not much blame Gray for not flinging himself into the open pit. He was no way committed to this particular movement; and perhaps he is wise to let the storm blow past and keep his paper alive for quieter times.
Let me try if I can arrive at any reasonable estimate of the prospects of the great cause amidst all this ululu. Half-a-dozen gentlemen, or so, are “transported” (or suppose we had been impaled or broken on the wheel). This, we will say, is a loss to the half-dozen gentlemen and their friends. But the question is, has British government in Ireland been damaged by the collision, or otherwise? Has a breach been effected? If so, we who were in the front rank of the assault, have no right to complain that we only help to fill up a ditch with our bodies for other men to pass over. Let us thank God if there be men to pass.
And I think British dominion has been damaged, and heavily. Of course, the contrary will seem to be the fact for awhile. All bold newspapers being silenced and all leading men put under lock and key, there will be a lull in the matter of “sedition” and “treason”; Ministers will sanctimoniously congratulate the peaceably disposed community; Cockney newspapers will crow most cheerily; and the Irish Rebellion will be matter of merriment to all sleek money-getting men in England. But is Irish disaffection growing less deep or deadly all this while? Will the strong healthy appetite for our glorious treason just subside when Lord Clarendon chooses burglariously to enter and gut all seditious newspaper offices? Will Catholic householders, who know they are entitled to serve as jurors, paying the requisite taxes and having their names on the needful books, will they love the “government” any better than they did, when they find themselves publicly proscribed and excluded from the common rights and functions of citizenship? “And, I prithee, tell me how doest thou find the inclination of the people, especially of the younger sort?” Surely we have not been utterly losing our labour all these years past, with our Nations, and our Irish libraries, and ballads, and the rest of it. Boys have been growing up all these years; the national schools have not been idle. Within thousands of those “small curly heads” (celebrated by Reilly), thoughts have been kindled that Dr. Whately wots not of. Under many a thin poor little jacket, who can tell what a world of noble passion has been set aglow; what haughty aspirings for themselves and their ancient land; what infinite pity; what hot shame for the trampled country and the dishonoured name of their fathers; what honest, wistful rage? Ha! if the thoughtful fiery boy but live to be a man. What I mean to say is, in short, that there is now actually in Ireland, a sort of inchoate rudimentary public opinion independent of the Carthaginians on the one hand, and of the priests on the other. If I be right, or nearly right, in my estimate of the relative forces now extant in Ireland, Carthage will dearly rue her vigour of 1848.
For the persons on whom this vigour is exerted, it befalls happily that the chief men amongst them (not including myself) are of the highest, purest character. Acts of Parliament, verdicts of “guilty,” hulks, chains, hurdles, cannot blacken or disgrace these men. When persons calling themselves “government,” by conspiring with corrupt sheriffs and tampering with courts of justice, lay foul hands on such men, I believe that government cannot long survive its crime.
It is true there will be amongst the better-fed classes – of Catholics especially – a hideous display of meanness and servility on this occasion. I shall not wonder if corporations, bishops, Catholic assistant-barristers, and other notabilities publicly praise my Lord Clarendon for his “wise precautions,” and so forth. O’Connell’s son will zealously disclaim all connection with illegal persons, and profess anxiety to administer the poor dilapidated remnant of his hereditary “agitation,” as he calls it, in a strictly constitutional manner. All this is sad enough; yet, I say, the fact of a number of honourable and worthy men being oppressively and corruptly put out of the way by the English agents will assuredly bear good fruit in Ireland; the wholesome leaven will be working; “disaffection” will have received a new stimulus, motive and reason, and will be deepening and widening daily. Then the circumstance that half the transported felons are Protestant and half Catholic will surely help to convince the North (if anything can ever teach the blockhead North) that our cause is no sectarian cause. I rely much also on the exertions of the national school teachers to inculcate sound Irish doctrine dehors the class-books furnished to them by Dr. Whately. Very many of those teachers, I know, were fully bent, a year ago, on counteracting the influence of that old shovel-hatted Carthaginian who has so long ridden the national school system, like a shovel-hatted nightmare.
On the whole, then, we have:
First. – The British Government unmasked – driven fairly from its conciliatory position, and forced to show itself the ferocious monster it is.
Second. – All the generous sympathies and passions of the young and high-minded enlisted on behalf of the felons and their felony, and outraged and revolted by the atrocity of the enemy.
Third. – The strong appetite for national or seditious reading sharpened by Lord Clarendon’s press-censorship: so that the next pouring forth of sound doctrine will be as springs of water in a thirsty land.
Thus the breach is every way widened and deepened; arms are multiplied, notwithstanding proclamations and searches; a fund of treason and disaffection is laid up for future use; and it will burn into the heart of the country till it find vent. And so the “Irish difficulty” will grow and swell like a huge mountainous possibility. God prosper it!
Yes; we “convicts” may be very sure that of all our writing, speaking, acting and endeavouring, and of the labour we have laboured to do, what was true, just, faithful, will not perish or fail of its effect, but will stand and bear fruit, even though we may be lying in foreign graves, our bones mixed with the unclean dust of unspeakable rascaldom forever.
But what must our poor countrymen go through in the meantime? Alas! what further, deeper debasement of mind and body is yet before them while those English — still have power to torture the land with their “laws?” What exterminations, what murders, what beggary and vice, what fearful flights of hunted wretches beyond sea to the four winds of heaven! How long! how long!
22nd. – Letter from my brother William, who is in New York: it seems if he had not left Ireland at once he would have been arrested under the Habeas-Corpus Suspension Act (which is the palladium of the British Constitution – the Habeas Corpus or the suspension of the Habeas Corpus?) Lord Clarendon is cramming the goals: but Dillon, Reilly, O’Gorman, and Doheny all seem to have escaped. Dillon is in New York – O’Gorman escaped in a small vessel to some port in Bretagne. I cannot make out Reilly’s whereabouts; but wherever he is, the worthy fellow is not idle.
French Republic still standing, and, I think, likely to stand. The information that has penetrated to me through my bars is but fragmentary; not presenting me with the panorama in due sequence, but only a tableau here and there; yet, what I have seen is good. In June, some people, whom the English newspapers call the “Red Republicans” and Communists, attempted another Paris revolution, which, if successful, would have been itself a horrible affair, and at any rate might have been the death of the Republic; but they were swept from the streets with grape and canister – the only way of dealing with such unhappy creatures.
I cannot believe that all the party called Red Republicans are also Communists, though the English newspapers use the terms as synonymous – of course to cast odium on the thorough-going Republicans. I suspect that there is a numerous party of staunch Republicans who believe the Revolution is but half accomplished, which, indeed, may turn out to be the case. But then these ought to make no common cause with Socialists; Socialists are something worse than wild beasts.
But I can see no French papers; I am in British darkness.
Note, that the gentle Alphonse de Lamartine has somehow dropped out of the tableau of late. I miss his dignified figure, and lofty brow with its invisible crown of thorns. I miss the high-flying language and gushing tenderness of that piteous poet – his Bedouin instep, and his eye in elaborate fine frenzy rolling. What has become of him I cannot make out, nor the special cause of his dechèance. But it was natural, necessary and right: let Alphonse retire to the East again, and see visions of a Druse-Maronite empire – let him pour fourth [sic] his mysterious sorrows on Lebanon, and add with tears to the dews of Hermon. He had no call to the leading of a revolution, and was at best but what we seamen call a figure-head. The demission of Alphonse pleases me the better, as I predicted the same in the United Irishman within a month after the February revolution. So far, well; I have other political prophecies pending – fulfilment not due yet.
The Carthaginian newspapers, I find, are deeply distressed about this French Republic – mad that it yet lives. They are zealous in laying hold of and exaggerating all the inconveniences that cannot fail to grow out of the dislocation of interests and interruption of business occasioned by such a revolution; they are concerned about it chiefly for the sake of the French people, you may be sure; and one and all predict a speedy return to monarchy in the person of the young Bordeaux-Berri-Bourbon, if not of Louis Philippe himself. In truth, these newspaper-men are thoroughly frightened; or, rather, their owners or subsidisers, the aristocracy and credit-funding plutocracy of Carthage, are frightened at this near neighbourhood of liberty, and the danger of fund-confounding revolution; and so they all devote it from their hearts to the infernal gods.
Here is the mighty game of sixty years ago coming to be played again – to be played out perhaps this time; and the world is about to be a spectator of a most excellent piece of work. And am I, O my God! through all these crowded years of life, to sit panting here behind an iron grating, or to die an old hound’s death, and rot among Bermudian blattae! Infandum!
Jan. 16th. – Last night, as my double-goer and I – for I go double – sat in my cell smoking our pipe together, the awful shade took occasion to expostulate with me in the following terms;- “I do observe,” quoth he, “a singular change in you of late days; a shadow of gloom, and almost a tinge of atrocity, staining the serene empyrean of your soul; and, what is yet sadder, I behold in you what seems to be a sort of conscious obliquity of judgement and elaborate perversity of feeling, which is – that is, it appears to me – that is, if I read you aright – which is blacker than mere natural malignity.”
The Ego (puffing thick clouds). – Explain; your language is unusual.
Doppelganger. – Well, then, first; What is the meaning of all this fiery zeal of yours for the French Republic? I know well that you feel no antipathy to either a monarchical or an aristocratic government, as such; that, in fact, within your secret heart, you care very little about Republicanism in the abstract.
The Ego. – Not a rush. What then?
Doppelganger. – Then I am forced to conclude that your anxiety for the success of the French Republic springs from something else than zeal for the welfare of the human race.
The Ego. – A fig for the human race; to be sure it does.
Doppelganger. – Yes; it is born of no love for mankind, or even French mankind, but of pure hatred to England, and a diseased longing for blood and carnage. You think a republic cannot long stand in France without a European war, which would smash the credit-system, cut up commerce, and in all probability take India and Canada from the British Empire – to say nothing of Ireland.
The Ego. – To say nothing of Ireland? But what if I were thinking of Ireland all the time?
Doppelganger.- And for the chance of getting Ireland severed from Britain in the dreadful state melée, do you desire to see all Europe and America plunged in desperate war? For the chance of enkindling such a war, do you delight to see a great and generous people like the French, committing themselves and their children to a wild political experiment, which, as you know, is as like to breed misery as happiness to them and theirs?
The Ego – (Laying down pipe, and raising aloft an umbrageous pillar of smoke). – Now, listen to me, Herr Doppelganger. First, I care little, indeed, about Republicanism in the abstract; but the French Republic I watch in its growth with keen and loving interest. For Republicans, or Monarchism, in the abstract, is nothing – a government is a thing that governs concrete living men under absolute extant circumstances; and I regard aristocratic and monarchic institutions, how good soever in their day and place – how defensible soever “in the abstract,” as being for the Western nations of Europe worn out – that is to say, worn out for the present; and until we shall have advanced to them again, via barbarism, in the cyclical progress of the species. For England, for Ireland especially, I believe those institutions are far more than worn out – were worn out fifty years ago, and have only been kept seemingly alive by the commercial world, and for purposes of traffic – to stave off the inevitable bankruptcy, smash, and alteration of the style and firm; but in so sustaining a fictitious credit, and pushing trade to such desperate lengths under it, those money-making people are likened unto the man who built his house upon the sand – the longer he has been able to shore it up (building additional storeys on it all the while) the greater will be the fall of it. Secondly, I hold that in all marches and counter-marches of the human race, France of right leads the van. Your Anglo-Saxon race worships only money, prays to no other god than money, would buy and sell the Holy Ghost for money, and believes that the world was created, is sustained, and governed, and will be saved by the only one true, immutable Almighty Pound Sterling. France recognises a higher national life, aspires for ever to a grander national destiny than mere trading. France mints the circulating medium of thoughts and noble passions, and sets up poor nations in business with capital of that stamp. Paris is the great moral metropolis of mankind. Thirdly, Mein Herr, the French have no right to stipulate for their own “happiness,” while they discharge this high public duty. Neither for man nor nation is happiness the end of living – least of all for those who utter new truths and lead in new paths. Let a nation act with all the energy of its national life – do with its might what its hand findeth to do – the truth it has got to utter speak it in thunder. Therein let it find its “happiness,” or nowhere.
Doppelganger. – You speak as if France were fighting the republican fight for all the world, and in advance of all the world. Apparently you forget America, and where France herself went to school to learn republicanism. At any rate, the United States were a republic before ever France was one.
The Ego. – And San Marino before the United States; but I was speaking of the great ancient nations of feudal Europe, and the struggle and travail that is appointed them before they can slough off the coil of their decrepit or dead aristocracies and heraldries, which have come to be humbugs – a struggle which the United States never knew, nor had need to make; for those British colonies in America, once the yoke of King George was broken, found themselves republics by necessity of the case; they had no material there whereout to form any other sort of government. The difficulty there would have been to get up a dynasty – to find the original parents out of whom to breed an hereditary aristocracy. In short, external circumstances and agencies, and mere necessity, made America Republican. But France – France, with all her circumstances, habits, traditions, tending the other way; ancient France, Mother of Chivalry, heritage of Charlemagne’s peers, environed by a whole world of monarchism, landlordism, and haughtiest gentility – tearing off the clinging curse, trampling it under foot, and fronting the naked swords of all raging Europe, while she stood forth in the simple might of manhood, uncrowned, unfrocked, untabarded, showing what, after all, men can do; then, after her own hero, in whom she trusted, lifted up his heel against her, when she was hacked and hewn almost to pieces by the knives of allied butchers, hag-ridden by the horrid ghost of a dynasty, and cheated by a “citizen king,” – cherishing still, deep in her glowing heart, the great idea, through long years, through agonies and sore travail, until the days are accomplished for the god-like birth – this, I apprehend, is another kind of phenomenon than the Declaration of Independence. And we ought to be thankful to the good God (you and I) that we live in the days when we may reasonably hope to see this noble work consummated, though it be in flames and blood.
Doppelganger. – You say nothing in answer to my charge, that all this enthusiasm of yours is mere hatred of England.
The Ego. – No; I scorn to answer that. But what mean you by England? – the English people, or the English Government? Do you mean those many millions of honest people who live in England, minding their own business, desiring no better than to enjoy, in peace and security the fruits of their own industry, and grievously devoured by taxes? Or do you mean the unholy alliance of land appropriators, and fund-men, and cotton-men, who devour them? Do you mean the British nation? or do you mean what Cobbett called the Thing?
Doppelganger.- By England I mean, of course, all her people, and all her institutions: tradesmen and nobles, Church and State, weavers, stockholders, pitmen, farmers, factories, funds, ships, Carlton clubs, Chartist conventions, Dissenting chapels, and Epsom races. I mean that.
The Ego. – You do? Then let me tell you it is a very unmeaning kind of lumping you make; I hold that now, and for fifty years back, the best friend to the British nation is simply he who approves himself the bitterest enemy to their government, and to all their institutions, in Church and State. And thus I claim to be, not an enemy, but a friend of England; for the British people are what I call England.
Doppelganger. – Excluding, of course, those cruel capitalists, mill-owners, landlords; everybody, in short, who has anything?
The Ego. – Excluding nobody! But you are aware that in every possible condition of human society, no matter how intolerable to the great majority, no matter how grievously it may cry aloud for change, there are always many fat persons right well content with things as they are – to wit, those who thrive upon things as they are. Why, in Ireland, even, are many grave and well-dressed persons (I have seen them myself in Belfast, and even in Dublin, among the fed classes) – who say, Ireland is doing reasonably well, and likely to do well. Now, in speaking of Ireland and the Irish people, I do not exclude those persons: only set at naught their opinion, and set aside their particular interests in consideration of the vital general interest. Therefore, when I say that I would cut down and overthrow, root and branch, the whole government and social arrangements of England, I am entitled also to call myself a friend to the English people, to all the English people – yes, to the very money-men in Lombard Street, to the very dukes, the very bishops – I would make them all turn to some honest occupation.
Doppelganger. – Do you imagine capitalists eat their money, and so make away with it out of rerum natura? Or that land-proprietors devour and digest the entire produce of their estates? Or, in short, that the wealthy, be they ever so malignant, can use their riches otherwise than by employing the poor, and paying them for their labour? Or do you propose to enable all the poor to live without labour or wages?
The Ego. – I am not to learn from you first principles of political economy, taken out of Dr. Whately’s little primer. Perhaps you will next be urging that mill-owners are not, by nature, anthropophagous, and that landlords are not, by anatomical structure, hyaenas, but men. Let us suppose all those matters you have mentioned, just proved, admitted, put out of the way: they are nothing to the purpose. But the case is this – those you call capitalists are, as a body, swindlers – that is to say, the “commercial world” is trading on what it knows to be fictitious capital – keeping up a bankrupt firm by desperate shifts, partly out of mere terror at the thought of the coming crash, and partly because – what often happens in bankruptcy – those who are active in the business are making their private gains in the meantime out of the already dilapidated estate – and all this is but preparing for a heavier fall and wider-spreading ruin – the more undoubting confidence in the stability of the concern is felt by fools and pretended to by knaves, so much the greater number of innocent and ignorant people will have their homes desolated at last. Again, I say that fifty years ago the Crown and Realm of Britain was a bankrupt firm, and that the hollow credit system on which it has kept itself afloat is a gigantic piece of national swindling – which must end not in ruin merely, but in utter national disgrace also.
Doppelganger. – Ah! The nation is swindling itself then! I perceive you think England must be ruined by the national debt – that huge sum of money due by herself to herself.
The Ego. – Yes – due by England to herself; that is to say, due by the millions of tax-payers to the thousands who have interest enough to get themselves made tax-eaters – that is to say, due by the workers to the idlers – due by the poor to the rich – yet, incredible to tell, incurred and created at first by the idlers and the rich, to sustain a state of things which keeps them idle and rich. In short, over and above the eternal inequalities of condition in human society, which for ever doom the many to labour that the few may eat and sleep, over and above this, British policy has thrown an additional burden of eight hundred millions or so upon the working many – placed an item of that amount on the wrong side of the account – to make the workers, I suppose, work the better – to make them look sharp, and mind economy – lest they should wax fat and kick, possibly kick down the whole Thing.
Doppelganger. – But, after all, the main question as to this national debt is, whether the objects for which it was incurred were to the nation worth the money, or rather worth the inconvenience of owing the money and burdening the industry of the country with the interest in it. England was certainly saved from invasion – her vast commerce and manufactures –
The Ego. – Yes, England was saved from invasion; her institutions in Church and State, from ruin; her game-preserving aristocracy from abolition and the lamp-iron; her commerce and manufactures were kept going on a fictitious basis – and India, Canada, Ireland, were debarred of their freedom. These are the things for which the eight hundred millions were squandered – and instead of incurring a never-to-be-paid debt to avert all those sad events, I tell you that, to the English people, it had been worth many a million to effect them – every one – to the Irish people worth the best blood in their veins.
Doppelganger. – But why do you keep saying fictitious basis, fictitious capital? What is there fictitious in all this commerce? Does it not hold myriads of men employed? Does it not pay them in hard money every Saturday? Does it not keep their families in comfortable houses, and clothe and feed them as only the families of British artisans can pretend to be clothed and fed? Does it not enable them to save money and realise an independence for their old age?
The Ego. – How do they invest their savings? In buying land?
Doppelganger. – No; you know well that small properties of land are not a common commodity in the market. The soil of the British islands is not just yet cut up into little fee-farms: your revolution has to come yet.
The Ego. – How then do these hard-working men secure the money they have realised, as you tell me, for an independence in their old age?
Doppelganger. – Why, in the public funds – or, in the savings-banks, which invest it for them in the same funds. And I believe, when they wish to draw out their deposits, those banks generally pay them without demur.
The Ego. – They do – the insolvent State has not yet shut its doors. Yet I do affirm that these poor honest people are laying up their savings in a fund beyond the moon – they take debentures on the limbo of fools. Why, the last holders of these securities will all inevitably be robbed; that grand national swindle, which is called the “national credit” (and to keep up the “stability” of which all newspapers and organs of opinion are subsidised to express confidence, and to vaunt daily the infinite resources of the empire) – that national credit swindle will cheat them irremediably at last. There is no money, or other wealth, in those same funds: there is absolutely nothing to meet these poor people’s claims – nothing but confidence – and they are exchanging their hard earnings for draughts of east wind.
Doppelganger. – But how well, how wonderfully it works! Consider how many people live comfortably on the yearly produce of these same debentures, and bequeath them to their children, or exchange them for farms and merchandise – and never know that the notes are but drafts of Notus and Company upon Eurus and Sons. Consider the amount of gainful business actually done upon this great national credit – the vast interests that depend upon it. Why may it not go on and expand itself infinitely, or, at least, indefinitely?
The Ego. – Because, Because it is the inevitable fate of mere sublunary soap-bubbles to burst, when they are blown to a certain predestined bigness – because a lie, be it never so current, accepted, endorsed, and renewed many times, is quite sure (thank God!) to get protested at last. Is it not so written in the great book of noster Thomas? – Written also in the yet greater books of nature and history, with an iron pen? – “Great is Bankruptcy.”
Doppelganger. – Suppose all this is true – I, at least, cannot think, without pain, of the inevitable destruction of all this teeming life and healthy, glowing action. It is a bright and stirring scene.
The Ego. – But look well at the background of this fine scene; and lo! the reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls of Skibbereen! – and the ghosts of starved Hindoos in dusky millions.
Doppelganger. – Surely these sore evils are not incurable – by wise administration, by enlightened legislation; the ghosts and skeletons are not an essential part of the picture; not necessary to the main action of the piece.
The Ego. – Absolutely necessary – nay, becoming more and more necessary every hour. To uphold the stability of the grand central fraud, British policy must drain the blood and suck the marrow of all the nations it can fasten its desperate claws upon: and by the very nature of a bankrupt concern sustaining itself on false credit, its exertions must grow more desperate, its exactions more ruthless day by day, until the mighty smash come. The great British Thing cannot now do without any one of the usual sources of plunder. The British Empire (that is, the imaginary Funds) could not now stand a week without India – could not breathe an hour without Ireland: the Thing has strained itself to such a pass that (being a sublunary soap-bubble, and not a crystalline celestial sphere), the smallest jag will let the wind out of it, and then it must ignominiously collapse. Or you may call this abomination a pyramid balancing itself upon its apex – one happy kick on any side will turn it upside down. For ever blessed be the toe of that boot which shall administer the glorious kick!
Doppelganger. – And must every new order of things in the revolutions of eternity be brought about only through a fierce paroxysm of war? Let your mind dwell for a minute on the real horrors of war.
The Ego. – Let your mind dwell a moment on the horrors of peaceful and constitutional famine: it will need no effort of imagination, for you have seen the thing – and tell me which is better, to pine and whiten helplessly into cold clay, passing slowly, painfully through the stages of hungry brute-ferocity – passionless, drivelling, slavering idiocy, and dim awful unconsciousness, the shadow-haunted confines of life and death, or to pour out your full soul in all its pride and might with a hot torrent of red raging blood – triumphant defiance in your eye, and an appeal to heaven’s justice on your lips – animam exhalare opimam? Which? Nay, whether is it better that a thousand men perish in a nation by tame beggarly famine, or that fifty thousand fall in a just war? Which is the more hideous evil – three seasons of famine-slaughter in the midst of heaven’s abundance, at the point of foreign bayonets, with all its train of debasing diseases and more debasing vices, or a thirty years’ war to scourge the stranger from your soil, though it leave that soil a smoking wilderness? If you have any doubt which is more horrible, look on Ireland this day. “They that be slain with the sword,” saith Jeremiah the prophet, “are better than they that be slain with hunger; for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.”
Doppelganger. – I cannot see the absolute necessity of either. These good people may not be mere idiots, after all, who look forward to the total cessation of war.
The Ego. –
Ου χαρ πψ τουτ εοτλ φιλου μακαρεοοι Φεολου
Φυλοπιδος ληςαλ πριυ κευ λυκος οιυ υμευαιοι
See Aristophanes. Let me also refer you to the Homeric verse –
Doppelganger. – Let me have none of your college quotations.
The Ego. – Then give me none of your confounded cant about cessation of war. Nature has laws. Because the Irish have been taught peaceful agitation in their slavery, therefore they have been swept by a plague of hunger worse than many years of bloody fighting. Because they would not fight, they have been made to rot off the face of the earth, that so they might learn at last how deadly a sin is patience and perseverance under a stranger’s yoke.
Doppelganger. – I hear you say so; but I want some reasons. Nature has laws; but you are not their infallible interpreter. Can you argue? Can you render a reason?
The Ego. – I never do. It is all assertion. I declaim vehemently; I dogmatise vigorously, but argue never. You have my thought. I don’t want you to agree with me; you can take it or leave it.
Doppelganger. – Satisfactory; but I find the Irish people draw quite a different moral lesson from late events. They are becoming, apparently more moral and constitutional than ever; and O’Connell’s son points to “Young Ireland,” hunted, chained, condemned, transported, and says: “Behold the fate of those who would have made us depart from the legal and peaceful doctrines of the Liberator!” And they hearken to him.
The Ego. – And do you read Ireland’s mind in the canting of O’Connell’s son? or in sullen silence of a gagged and disarmed people? Tell me not of O’Connell’s son. His father begat him in moral force, and in patience and perseverance did his mother conceive him. I swear to you there are blood and brain in Ireland yet, as the world one day shall know. God! let me live to see it. On that great day of the Lord, when the kindred and tongues and nations of the old earth shall give their banners to the wind, let this poor carcase have but breath and strength enough to stand under Ireland’s immortal Green!
Doppelganger. – Do you allude to the battle of Armageddon? I know you have been reading the Old Testament of late.
The Ego. – Yes. “Who is this that cometh from Edom: with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine vat? I have trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart.” Also an aspiration of Kind David haunts my memory when I think on Ireland and her wrongs: “That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and that the tongue of thy dogs may be red through the same.”
Doppelganger. – Anathema! What a grisly frame of mind!
The Ego. – Ah! the atmosphere of the world needs to be cleared by a wholesome tornado. The nimble air has grown obese and heavy; charged with azote and laden with the deleterious miasmata of all the cants that are canted. Tell me, do you believe, or rather understand, that these neighbouring West Indian islands would soon be uninhabitable to any living creature save caymans and unclean beasts, but for an occasional hurricane?
Doppelganger. – Very true; and I observe the analogy. But I do not understand that men in the West Indies get up hurricanes, or pray to heaven for hurricanes. Remember that God, in the hollow of whose hand is the cave of all the winds, sends forth His storms when He sees fit.
The Ego. – And His wars also. The difference lies only in the secondary agencies whereby the Almighty works: when tornadoes are wanted to purify the material atmosphere, He musters and embattles the tropic air-currents from Cancer to Capricornus, be they moist, dry, dense, or rare, under their several cloud-banners; and at the blowing of the thunder-trumpet they rush blindly together, crashing calamitously through cane plantations, blowing the sails off sugar-mills, and desolating colonial banks – but when the moral tornado has to blow upon the earth – when wars and revolutions (the truest moral force) are needed to purify and vivify a comatose world, then Providence uses another kind of power – to wit, Man. For not more surely, not more absolutely are the winds enclosed in the hollow of the Almighty hand, than are the gusts and tempests of mortal passion, or even what we deem our coolest and best regulated resolves: and when strong indignation against oppression, when pity, and pride, and sacred wrath have grown transcendental in divine rage against falsehood and wrong, and arm for desperate battle against some hoary iniquity, then charge in the name of the Lord of Hosts!
Doppelganger. – But a mistake may occur. In your high-blazing transcendent fury you may chance to be fighting the devil’s fight.
The Ego. – Be that at the peril of every man who goeth up to the battle.
Doppelganger. – Enough, enough! I seem to smell the steam of carnage. I envy you not your bloody dreams. Though all this were as you argue –
The Ego. – I do not argue.
Doppelganger. – Well, as you harangue; yet one is not obliged to delight in the storm of human wrath and vengeance, any more than in the wasting tornado. Though it must be that this offence come, woe unto him by whom it cometh! Oh! pity and woe, if the same be his chosen mission, wherein his soul delights. In such gloating over thoughts of dying groans and hoof-trampled corpses, and garments rolled in blood, there is something ghastly, something morbid, monomaniacal – to you surely something unnatural, for you have always lived peaceably. And though we were very Manicheans, and believed that the principle of destruction, disorder, and darkness were for ever to maintain unextinguishable and infinite battle with the spirit of Order and of Good, yet I cannot think he chooses the better part who enlists under the banner of Ahriman – who loves to destroy, and builds – creates – nothing.
The Ego. – Hearken once more, O Double-goer! Consider how this habitable earth, with all its rock-built mountains and flowery plains, is for ever growing and perishing in eternal birth and death – consider how the winds, and lightnings, and storms of rain and hail, and flooded rivers, and lashing seas are for ever cutting, mining, gnawing away, confringing, colliding and comminuting the hills and the shores, yea, and the sites of high-domed cities – until every mountain shall be brought low, and every capital city shall lie deep “at the bottom of the monstrous world,” where Helice and Buris, Sodom and Gomorrah lie now – this, I suppose, you call destruction – but consider further how the nether fires are daily and nightly forging, in the great central furnaces, new granite mountains, even out of that old worn rubbish; and new plains are spreading themselves forth in the deep sea, bearing harvests now only of tangled algae, but destined to wave with yellow corn; and currents of brine are hollowing out foul sunless troughs, choked with obscene slime, but one day to be fair river-valleys blushing with purple clusters. Now in all this wondrous procedure can you dare to pronounce that the winds, and the lightnings, which tear down, degrade, destroy, execute a more ignoble office than the volcanoes and subterranean deeps that upheave, renew, recreate? Are the nether fires holier than the upper fires? The waters that are above the firmament, do they hold of Ahriman, and the waters that are below the firmament, of Ormuzd? Do you take up a reproach against the lightnings for that they only shatter and shiver, but never construct! Or have you a quarrel with the winds because they fight against the churches and build them not! In all nature, spiritual and physical, do you not see that some powers and agents have it for their function to abolish and demolish and derange – other some to construct and set in order? But is not the destruction, then, as natural, as needful, as the construction? – Rather tell me, I pray you, which is construction – which destruction? This destruction is creation: Death is Birth and
“The quick spring like weeds out of the dead.”
Go to – the revolutionary Leveller is your only architect. Therefore take courage, all you that Jacobins be, and stand upon your rights, and do your appointed work with all your strength, let the canting fed classes rave and shriek as they will – where you see a respectable, fair-spoken Lie sitting in high places, feeding itself fat on human sacrifices – down with it, strip it naked, and pitch it to the demons: wherever you see a greedy tyranny (constitutional or other) grinding the faces of the poor, join battle with it on the spot – conspire, confederate, and combine against it, resting never till the huge mischief come down, though the whole “structure of society” come down along with it. Never you mind funds and stocks; if the price of the things called consols depend on lies and fraud, down with them too. Take no heed of “social disorganisation”; you cannot bring back chaos – never fear; no disorganisation in the world can be so complete but there will be a germ of new order in it: sansculottism, when she hath conceived, will bring forth venerable institutions. Never spare; work joyfully according to your nature and function; and when your work is effectually done, and it is time for the counter operations to begin, why, then, you can fall a-constructing, if you have a gift that way; if not, let others do their work, and take your rest, having discharged your duty. Courage, Jacobins! for ye, too, are ministers of heaven.
Doppelganger. – In one word, you wish me to believe that your desire to plunge your country into deluges of slaughter arises out of philosophical considerations altogether.
The Ego. – Entirely: I prescribe copious blood-letting upon strictly therapeutical principles.
Doppelganger.- And revenge upon England, for your own private wrong, has nothing to do with it.
The Ego. – Revenge! Private wrong! Tell me! are not my aims and desires now exactly what they were two years ago, before I had any private wrong at all? Do you perceive any difference even in point of intensity? In truth, as to the very conspirators who made me a “felon,” and locked me up here, I can feel no personal hostility against them: for, personally, I know them not – never saw Lord John Russell or Lord Clarendon; would not willingly hurt them if I could. I do believe myself incapable of desiring private vengeance; at least I have never yet suffered any private wrong atrocious enough to stir up that sleeping passion. The vengeance I seek is the righting of my country’s wrong, which includes my own. Ireland, indeed, needs vengeance; but this is public vengeance – public justice. Herein England is truly a great public criminal. England! all England, operating through her Government: through all her organised and effectual public opinion, press, platform, pulpit, parliament, has done, is doing, and means to do, grievous wrong to Ireland. She must be punished; that punishment will, as I believe, come upon her by and through Ireland; and so will Ireland be avenged. “Nations are chastised for their crimes in this world; they have no future state.” And never object that so the innocent children would be scourged for what the guilty fathers did; it is so for ever. A profligate father may go on sinning prosperously all his days, with high hand and heart, and die in triumphant iniquity; but his children are born to disease, poverty, misery of mind, body and estate. The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. Mysterious are the works and ways of God. Punishment of England, then, for the crimes of England – this righteous public vengeance I seek, and shall seek. Let but justice be done; let Ireland’s wrong be righted, and the wrong done to me and mine is more than avenged; for the whole is greater than its part. Now, Mein Herr, you have my theory of vengeance; and for such vengeance I do vehemently thirst and burn.
Doppelganger (musing). – He has a great deal of reason; I do begin to be of his opinion.
The Ego. – Yes; we generally come to be of one mind in the long run. But it grows late, and we have talked long enough. Let us drink our rum-ration; and I will propose to you a national toast – (rising up and speaking solemnly) – “ARTERIAL DRAINAGE”
Doppelganger. – (with enthusiasm) – “Arterial Drainage!”
The Ego. – Good night.
Doppelganger. – Hark! I hear the first mate coming with his keys. Good night.
(Doppelganger flies out of the port-hole, between the bars. The Ego tumbles into bed).
 No – to Constantinople – J.M.