Published in The New York Evening Journal, March 17, 1914. Originally given the title “How Does She Stand?”.
Since I have landed in this country I have not seen in any American newspaper a reference to Ireland that was even approximately accurate in its facts. Personalities the most diverse are confounded; antagonistic movements are spoken of as if they were identical; phases of the same movement are made to appear mutually destructive; men are represented as holding the exact views which they exist to combat. You identify the national movement with the Home Rule episode; you regard the newly-formed Volunteers as a force designed to help the British Government to suppress Sir Edward Carson; you speak of the dramatic movement as if it were embodied in the Abbey Theatre; you imagine that the literary revival in Ireland is expressing itself in English. We, on our side, have doubtless many mistaken notions as to American life and politics, but I do not think we make such blunders as these.
This fact is that Ireland is not allowed to speak for herself to Americans or to the world; England speaks for her. All Irish news reaches you through English channels. As a consequence you do not get a true version of any Irish happenings; you get the version the English want you to get. Every news item sent out from Ireland is censored; every fact that would lead to the actual state of affairs is suppressed; a fantastic picture as of one of those nightmares isles described in the ‘Voyage of Maelduin’ is drawn by England and presented to a gaping world as a picture of Ireland. And Ireland cannot set herself right. She is effectually cut off from outercourse by an admirable system of espionage. Not content to hold our soil with 25,000 armed soldiers and 12,000 armed police, the English have now blockaded us by sea. The last of our ports is being closed. It is, roughly speaking, no longer possible to enter Ireland or to leave Ireland, to send a letter or a postcard or a dollar’s worth of goods into Ireland or out of Ireland, except through England. As one of the last to sail from the Cove of Cork before the blockade was completed I am in a position to give American readers a view of Irish affairs which will have the advantage of being new to them, with the additional advantage of being true.
Most of you are under the impression that Ireland is seething with passion on the question of Home Rule. But, outside the professional politicians, no one in Ireland is taking any interest in Home Rule at all. The measure of autonomy offered to Ireland under the present Home Rule Bill is so slight that to the majority of Irish Nationalists it passing or its nonpassing is almost a matter of indifference. On the whole, they will be relieved if it passes, for its passing will end a not very glorious episode in the history of the national movement. But Nationalists of all sections recognize that, under Home Rule, as in its absence, there will remain for them the substantial business of achieving Irish nationhood and that the advent of Home Rule will mean at most a slight reorganization of their plan of campaign.
If Home Rule comes, a Separatist Party will at once make its appearance in the Irish House of Commons backed by a strong armed movement outside; if Home Rule does not come, the whole nation will automatically swing back to the policy and methods of the Fenians. In either event the year 1914 will mark, not the beginning of a peace with England, but the beginning of a new and stirring chapter in the Irish struggle for independence.
I write from the standpoint of a separatist, but I believe that the majority of those who call themselves Home Rulers will accept my view of the situation. Despite the pledges given in their name by Mr. Redmond they feel and they acknowledge no loyalty to England.
They remember that saying of Parnell which they have engraved on his monument in Dublin: No man can set a bound to the march of a nation.
I have spoken of Home Rule as a mere episode in the national movement. Episode is the exact word. The national movement antedates Home Rule and will outlast Home Rule. The national movement aims at nothing less than the undoing of the English conquest of Ireland, and it has as many phases as there are phases to a national civilization. The movement has ebbed and flowed with the decades, but it has always been here; no generation has entirely lost the tradition of Irish resistance to English domination which is not merely political, but is the domination of an alien civilization over a native one, of an inferior civilization over a superior one.