From The Freeman’s Journal, June 11, 1884.

The Young Ireland Society in Glasgow recently elected Mr. John O’Leary, of Paris, as their hon. president. The secretary at once communicated the fact to Mr. O’Leary, who on the 4th inst. replied as follows:—

Paris, June 4th, 1884.

DEAR SIR—I grant I am willing to accept the position of president of your society, it being, of course, understood as from the nature of things it must, I suppose, necessarily be, that the office is, and indeed must mainly rest, an honorary one. I shall, however, as soon after my return to Ireland in the beginning of next year as I possibly can, make it my business to visit Glasgow and offer a few words of thanks, or probably some of counsel, to my Young Ireland friends. In the meantime, though I am in little mood for writing just now, and more or less disinclined to express any very definite opinions on the present state of public affairs, I still feel as if I owed it to you to say something. You are right in thinking that my political opinions have undergone little, if any, change since ’48; and I think they are little likely to suffer any material modification while God grants me the full possession of my faculties. Now, as then, I have little faith in Parliamentary action, which does not, however, involve want of faith in all public action, and still less in Parliamentary men. Now, as then, I am from the straight course at all times, and for the strong course whenever possible. Of course you do not need to be told how much I deplore and detest the new and horrible dynamitic Invincible delusions that have seized upon some few of our countrymen everywhere, and unhappily upon a good many of them in America. I should almost begin to despair of our future if I did not believe that this was a mere passing craze—the Irish form of that general Nihilistic movement which, in some shape or other, seems spreading everywhere at present. Non tali auxilo nic defensoribus estis tempres egit. It is by far other men and far other means Ireland must be served if she means to be free, or even to take any forward steps on the road to freedom. As to what these measures should exactly be, and what men or classes of men are destined to carry them out, these are questions I cannot enter into with any feelings now. One measure, however, is always urgent, and never more urgent than now, no matter what dishonest or ignorant spouters may constantly tell you to the contrary. ‘Educate that you may be free,’ said Gavan Duffy long ago; and no man living has done so much to help us to educate ourselves as the very author of the maxim himself. I hope I have in my time done a little in that way, too; but, alas, how much of that sort of education that tends to make a nation free—as, indeed, of any sort of education—we still need, the most cursory perusal of Irish or Irish-American papers but too clearly shows. In fine, to put the thing in a nutshell, to do more we must know more. To turn from measures to men, we must learn to be tolerant of all sorts and conditions of men. Our sole standard should be whether a man means honestly to serve Ireland. As to whether a man thinks wisely for Ireland, it is generally only the few that know, and mostly time alone can with any certainty tell; and we, none of us, can be so certain of our own wisdom as to be entitled to condemn a man simply because he differs from us. But I cannot do better than end this letter, as I end many letters, by giving you the words of the man who has taught us all sorts of high and noble lessons, too easily forgotten by some of us, and probably never learned at all by others:—

‘We hate the Saxon and the Dane,
We hate the Norman more,
We cursed their greed for blood and gain,
We curse them now once more.
Yet start now, Irish born man,
If you’re to Ireland true,
We heed not blood, nor creed, nor clan,
We have no curse for you.
What matter that at different shrines
We pray unto one God?
What matter that at different times
Our fathers won this sod?
In fortune and in name we’re bound
By stronger links than steel,
And neither can be safe nor sound
But in the other’s weal.

Sincerely yours,