From The Spark, 9 April, 1916. The article is unsigned but is attributed to Pearse in the bibliographical note of the 1973 book P. H. Pearse by Raymond Porter. The article itself is also written in Pearse’s distinctive literary style and Pearse was also known to have been a contributor to the Spark. From this, we can assume Pearse to have been most likely the author.
When critics (or his own Doppelganger, which was his severest critic) urged against Mitchel that his glorious wrath was a purely destructive force, a thing splendid in slaying but, unlike Davis’s love, with no fecundity or life-giving beneficence within it, Mitchel had an adequate answer:
“…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 Abriman, 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.”
And the primary task of the revolutionary is in fact to Overthrow. Yet why overthrow? Because he would fain Rebuild – rebuild “nearer to the heart’s desire.” The true revolutionary has always seen a vision; and his attempt, crude and bloody and pathetic though it may be, is an attempt to embody his vision – his glimpse of God – in some human institution. He has visioned the glory of a free people, of a happy democracy, of a world at peace; and he sows the whirlwind that those who come after him may enjoy that sunshine. He knows the old profound truth that Armageddon comes before the Kingdom of God.
What is our vision of the Ireland that we shall achieve through revolution? First, all her men and women must be free, with no earthly fealty but to the Nation which is themselves embodied and which rests upon and guarantees that freedom. These free men and women must be, not merely in theory, but in actual fact owners of the material part of Ireland, her land and all the sources of her wealth. They alone must make her laws; and each of them must have an equal voice in the making of her laws; which (since laws must in practice be made by delegates) can be secured only by giving every man and woman an equal vote in the election of legislators. The responsibility of the legislators to the people must be absolute, in fact as in theory. The administration of the laws, again, must be in the hands of persons who do in fact represent the people (that is, the whole people) and who are in fact mediately or immediately responsible to the people. Accidents (especially, undesirable accidents, such as the possession of wealth or of a legal education) shall not be considered to qualify a man for the duty of legislator or administrator. Honesty and capacity are the only qualities the people shall look for; and the people’s will shall cover a multitude of deficiencies.
Every citizen must have equal rights and (humanly speaking) equal opportunities; and every citizen must accept equal – I do not say identical – responsibilities. In order that all citizens may be fitted worthily to enjoy their rights and opportunities and worthily to discharge their responsibilities, there must be a large and noble system of national education which shall aim at fostering the best that is in every individual so as to help him or her to become a perfect man or woman and a perfect citizen. And this education shall have as its watchword that word of Colm Cille’s, “If I die it shall be from excess of the love I bear the Gael.”
In a free Ireland there will be work for all the men and women of the nation. Gracious and useful rural industries will supplement an improved agriculture. The population will expand in a century to twenty millions; it may even in time go up to thirty millions. Towns will be spacious and beautiful (as the semi-free Anglo-Irish of the 18th century planned to make Dublin), but, since the country will chiefly rely for its wealth on agriculture and rural industry, there will be no Glasgows or Pittsburghs.
Literature and art will flourish. The Táin and the Fionn-story will come again in mighty dramas. The voice of a people that has been dumb for many centuries will be heard anew; and it will make such music as has not been heard since Greece spoke the morning song of the free peoples.