The Orangeman has long been to the Irish Nationalist a source at once of eager hope and of melancholy despair. He has filled us with despair, because we have appealed to him so often to forget the childish quarrels of vanished ages and to take his stand on the side of Ireland, and because, in spite of all our appeals, he has still allowed the honeyed words of some landlord whose only interest in Ireland has been to screw the last penny out of his unfortunate tenants, or of some lawyer who was willing at the first opportunity to sell his soul, with Ireland thrown in, in return for thirty pieces of Government silver. On the other hand, the Orangeman inspires us with eternal hope, because he is so sincere, and so passionate, and so extreme. Men of this stamp cannot go on for ever watching their country bleeding to death, and imagining that they can cure her by uttering meaningless catchwords, like incantations, over her prostrate body. Ireland cannot be cured by catchwords any more than a sick human being can. She can only be cured by the untiring devotion and skill of all her sons and daughters, to whatever creed, or class, or political party they belong.
Every Orangeman, I suppose, will admit that Ireland at present is a very sick country, indeed. She is bleeding to death, both in men and in money. Since the year 1871 her population has decreased by over a million and the taxation per head of her population has gradually risen from 18s. 9d. until it is now £2 4s. 4d. I know that some Orangeman will retort: “Oh, but Belfast is all right! It is growing in wealth and population every day!” No true Orangeman, I am sure, will consider a thriving Belfast anything but a small compensation for a dwindling and decaying Ireland. If a man’s mother were perishing from some disease of the heart you would scarcely be able to set his mind at rest by pointing out to him that at least one of her arms was still healthy and vigorous. Besides, even Belfast is not yet as perfect or as prosperous as it might be. Every advance in the health and prosperity of Ireland means an advance in the health and prosperity of Belfast as well. Belfast is the capital of Ulster, and is proud of the fact. On the other hand, Ulster, like the rest of Ireland, dwindles and decays. How much prouder we should be, and how much better it would pay us – to take no higher a ground – if we were the capital of a happy and flourishing province instead.
The Orangeman is said to be hard-headed. Let him consider the present state of Ireland in the cold light of facts, and devise a cure for it. I beseech of him to ask himself how the wealth and prosperity of other nations have been built up, and tell us, if he can, of a single instance in which any country has been made great except by the exertions and self-sacrifice of her own sons and daughters. England was built up by the exertions and self-sacrifice of English men and women. It was by relying upon themselves alone that the people of the United States of America made their country one of the mightiest nations on the face of the earth. Germany tells a similar story, and so does Japan. And if we Irish men and women are ever to make Ireland what God intended it to be – a rich and busy and populous country, inhabited by healthy, upright men, and by sweet and beautiful women – surely, in striving to do so, we must depend upon the means with which God Himself has provided us, upon our Irish hearts, and our Irish brains, and our Irish hands.
At present we have no time to use our hearts and brains and hands in building up such an Ireland as we should like to see. We are too busy distrusting each other, and calling each other names. I doubt, however, whether the average Orangeman even believes that it is possible to make Ireland a much better and happier country than it already is. On the other hand, if he does chance to have any faith left in the future of his country, he fondly believes that our salvation will come from England and not from within – from our own imperfect selves. If this is not so, then why does he wish to keep Ireland subject to an English Parliament?
The Orangemen did not always look abroad in this self-distrustful, characterless way for his country’s salvation. When the union between Great Britain and Ireland was on the point of being brought about, more than a century ago, some of its bitterest and most splendid opponents, like Saurin, were Orangemen. All over the country, too, Orange Lodges passed resolutions condemning a measure that was an insult to their intelligence as it was to their patriotism. I will quote one or two of the resolutions. Here is a resolution based by Lodge 428, Newtownbutler, and dated 18th March, 1800.
“That no lover of his country could have proposed a measure fraught with such destructive consequences, and that all supporters of it should be execrated by their fellow subjects and by posterity.
JOHN CORRY, Master.”
With what terrible force have the words “destructive consequences” justified themselves since. It is all the more difficult to understand how it is the Orangemen of the present day are not stirred by the same splendid spirit of faith in Ireland and themselves that impelled Lodges 382 and 390 to resolve during the crisis of 1800: –
“That, as Irishmen, we feel insulted by the degrading arguments held forth in favour of the Union, as if the Lords and Commons are so weak, helpless, and ignorant that they can neither support nor legislate for Ireland without British aid.”
If the Orangemen would only let the scales of sectarian prejudice fall from their eyes, and would only open their ears to the voice of their country instead of to the voices of false-tongued lawyers and ambitious politicians, would they not feel equally insulted, as Irishmen, to-day at being considered “so weak, helpless, and ignorant that they can neither support nor legislate for Ireland without British aid?”
The leaders of Orangeism in 1800 were aristocrats, as they have been ever since, and the Grand Lodge in Dublin, though not daring to give an open support to the proposed Union, sent round an address to the other Lodges, beseeching them not to take sides in the matter. The sturdy Orange working-men and farmers, however, refused in many instances to obey so cowardly and unpatriotic a demand. On the 4th of February, 1800, Lodge 500, Mountmellick, issued an “Address to all Brother Orangemen,” containing the following sentences: –
“We cannot think it is the duty of Orangemen to submit implicitly in all cases of the utmost moment to the direction of a Lodge, which is principally composed of persons who are under a certain person, which is exerted against the rights of Ireland, and while a Lodge under such influence shall give the law to all Orangemen, we fear that our dearest interests will be betrayed. We, therefore, protest against its injunctions to silence, and declare, as Orangemen, as freeholders, as Irishmen, that we consider the extinction of our separate legislature as the extinction of the Irish nation. We invite our brother Orangemen without delay to elect a Grand Lodge which shall be composed of men of tried integrity, who shall be unplaced, unpensioned, and unbought, and who shall avow their best qualifications for such a station, that they will support the independence of Ireland and the Constitution of 1782.”
The Constitution of 1782 declares that “there is no body of men competent to make laws to bind this nation except the King, Lords and Commons of Ireland, nor any other Parliament which hath any authority or power of any sort whatsoever in this country, save only the Parliament of Ireland.” Why is it that Orangemen have grown less jealous of their country’s honour and independence since then? Is it because Ireland has prospered since the Union? It cannot be so, for we know that she has been robbed, and plundered, and weakened on every side. Is it that they have grown less confident in their own ability to defend their rights and liberties, in their own intelligence and hardihood? Surely, they cannot have become so timid and demoralised as that would imply! Or is it that they have ceased to believe in, or care for, “the Irish nation?” One of the resolutions passed by the Orange lodges in 1800 against the extinction of the Irish Constitution contained the following sentence: –
“That we see with unspeakable sorrow an attempt made to deprive us of that Constitution, our rising prosperity, and our existence as a nation, and reducing us to the degrading situation of a colony of England.”
How long will it be before the Orangemen regain their heroism and independence of spirit sufficiently to realise how degrading it is to be a mere “colony of England,” when they might be the citizens of a great and free and prosperous nation? Let them only give free play to their instincts, to the instinct that bids them love their mother country above all other countries, as it bids them love their mothers above all other women, and they will soon begin to feel that there is no honour, and no dignity, and no happy future within their power to bestow, of which Ireland, their mother and ours, is not a thousand times worthy.
It is clear from the references to history I have already made that a belief in the union between England and Ireland was never an essential part of the Orange faith. A little over a hundred years ago, the Orangeman will speak of “the Irish nation” with the same accent of pride and reverence that we expect from an advanced Nationalist to-day.
I do not mean to suggest that in 1800 all Orangemen did speak of “the Irish nation” in this way. But a great many of them did. They believed that Ireland and England should be reigned over the same King, but they were equally insistent that the laws by which Irishmen should be governed should be made by Irishmen alone, unhampered by British aid. We do not nowadays often hear Orange speakers and writers referring in terms of praise to the Volunteers of 1782 and the Declaration of Irish Independence. Recently, however, I came upon a copy of the Dublin University Magazine for April, 1835, in which a writer – and a fiercely Orange and Protestant writer, too – speaks of the Volunteers of 1782 as though they were practically the forerunners of the Orange Society. Orangeism was in very bad odour with the British authorities about 1835 because of the Firman plot – a plot, the object of which was to keep the Princess Victoria out of succession to the British Crown, and to place the Duke of Cumberland on the throne instead. The writer in the Dublin magazine takes up the cudgels earnestly on behalf of his brethren in an article called “What is an Orangeman?” Here is what he says in reference to the year 1798: –
“Then it was that the Orangemen of Ireland stood nobly forward; they placed themselves at the disposal of the Government, and on them the Government relied. The Protestant Volunteers who, in 1782, had forced from England the recognition of Ireland’s independence, were now, under the new name of yeomanry, embodied to maintain it against the attempted domination of France.”
I will not here discuss the point whether the Yeomanry of 1798 were really the representatives of the Volunteers of 1782. What I want to make clear is the fact that in 1835 a violent pro-Orange writer believed that they were, and that the belief does not seem to have caused him to feel the slightest degree of shame. If anything, indeed, he appears to have been just a little proud of progenitors who “forced from England the recognition of Ireland’s independence.” I believe there are individual Orangemen patriotic enough to feel that pride even at the present day. When the reading of Irish history becomes general among Orangemen – when they read both sides of the story, and read it, not with sectarian, but with patriotic eyes – they will suddenly realise that, compared with the Dungannon Convention of the 13th of February, 1782, the battle of the Boyne is but a trivial affair in the records of Ireland’s march towards the natural and righteous goal.
The Protestant Volunteers at Dungannon declared their faith in two great principles – the principle of religious equality and the principle of legislative independence for Ireland. There is no educated Orangeman today, I imagine, who does not profess to believe in religious equality. As I have tried to show there is no reason either why any educated Orangeman should not be in favour of Irish independence. Why is it then that Orangemen are less national to-day then they were a hundred years ago? I can see no reason for it except that they are less consciously Irish than they used to be. And this, I believe, is largely owing to the influence of the Reverend Dr. Cooke. The people of Belfast put up a statue to Dr. Cooke. But Dr Cooke, as far as I can see, did as much to de-Irishise the Protestant North of Ireland as Daniel O’Connell did to de-Irishise the Catholic South. O’Connell was brought up to speak the Irish language in his home in Kerry. When he grew to manhood, he threw contempt on it, and longed for its destruction. He taught the people to regard English as a superior tongue, and to look to the English Parliament for Ireland’s salvation. If O’Connell exerted an Anglicising influence on the Ireland of his day, Cooke’s influence in the same direction was a thousand times worse – so far, at least, as Ulster was concerned.
He was the son of a County Derry farmer, named John McCooke; but, on going to college, as we read in Mr. Latimer’s “History of the Irish Presbyterians,” he dropped the “Mac” from his name. It was too Irish – or, at least, Gaelic – for him. Like O’Connell, his early years were passed in the days that led up to the insurrection of ’98, and, like O’Connell, he was shocked, instead of being inspired, by that noble and desperate struggle for freedom. He appears to have been quite devoid of any love for Ireland. He was the enemy of every progressive and liberal movement. For instance, in 1850, at a meeting of the Presbyterian Synod of Belfast, a motion was brought forward in favour of petitioning the British Parliament in behalf of Tenant Right. “Now here it is,” cried Cooke in the middle of one of the speeches; “we have Socialism preached here in the Synod.” He opposed the Tenant Right movement tooth-and-nail. He always sided with the Dublin Castle landlord party. So powerful a speaker was he, however, so determined was his nature, and so commanding his personality that he drew practically all Protestant Ulster after him. Since his day, Orangeism has been but a tail of English Conservatism, and Presbyterian Liberalism has been little better. He taught his followers to be proud of being un-Irish. In spite of the dropped “Mac” in his name, he could coolly speak of “our Saxon forefathers.” He always spoke as a Protestant, never as an Irishman. This is as bad as always to speak as a Catholic, never as an Irishman. To be a Protestant or a Catholic to such a degree as to forget that you are also an Irishman is to be an extremely bad Protestant or an extremely bad Catholic. No matter what may be our needs, we are all of us Irishmen, though leaders on both sides have tried to make us forget this by raising sectarian issues. Cooke, more than any other man of his time, made Protestant Ulster forget that it was a part of Ireland. He was the evil genius of the North in the nineteenth century.
In spite of Cooke and men like him, however, the instinct of nationality breaks out now and then among the Orangemen. When the Gaelic League was set on foot, the Rev. Dr Kane gave it his support, remarking that he never would forget that he was an Irishman and an O’Cahan. To this extent he believed in Ireland’s national individuality; and he also believed that, in the matter of taxation, we had a right to separate national treatment. Then, since Dr. Kane’s death, we have had the birth of the Independent Orange Order and the Magheramorne Manifesto. It is clear that Orangemen are growing tired of a way of thinking that makes them strangers in their own country and that leads them, as one of their first duties, to distrust their fellow-countrymen. Their natural human instincts are re-asserting themselves, are telling them that they owe not only love, but dutiful allegiance, to the country of their birth. Why, then, do Orangemen hesitate for a moment to feel that it is an insult to them, as Irishmen, that Ireland should be treated as a mere province or colony of England’s, and to promise, with the help of God, to assist in placing her once more among the free nations? I believe it is because the grim shadow of Dr. Cooke still lies over them. Not having read history very widely or wisely, they believe that Irish Nationalism stands for Catholicism, and that England stands for Protestantism and liberty. As I will try to show, however, Irish Nationalism stands for the good of Ireland, and for the good of all Irish men and women, to whatever creed or class they belong. England, on the other hand, so far as Ireland is concerned, has always stood for the very negation of liberty. Irish Protestantism and Irish Catholicism are all the same to her. She will use both for her own ends. In so far as either becomes really Irish, she will attempt to injure and maim it. Catholic England crushed and maltreated Ireland in the days before Henry VIII and the Reformation, with as little compunction as Protestant England did the same thing in the centuries that followed. In spite of occasional lapses into sectarianism, the real fight in Ireland has always been, not between Catholics and Protestants, but between Irishmen who love their country, and their country’s enemies. Only let him grasp this fact in its full significance, and every straightforward Orangeman is bound to see that, however fervent a Protestant he may be, he will be compromising no article of his religious faith by working for the liberty and ennoblement of Ireland.
Practically, there is only one thing that prevents Orangemen from becoming out-and-out Irishmen, and that is the sectarian difficulty. The Orangeman sees the people of Ireland divided into two camps, and England has taken care that he shall think from his cradle that one of those camps is Protestant and the other Catholic. Ireland is indeed divided into two camps, but the camps have never been, except by accident, Protestant and Catholic; the one has always been the camp of the patriotic Irish, the other the camp of the English garrison in Ireland. The Orangeman, if he reads history, will realise this very distinctly. He will see that in all the great movements in the history of Ireland – the movement under Hugh O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell, the movement under Owen Roe O’Neill, the ’98 and the ’48 and the Fenian movements – the struggle has been between the friends of Ireland and the enemies of Ireland. England, of course, has, as often as she thought it advisable, posed as the representative and guardian of Protestantism. “Home Rule,” she whispers into the ear of the hesitating Orangeman, “is Rome Rule”: and he is so credulous that he is willing to believe her when she tells him that everything national in the country is sheer Popery. If, however, England poses as the friend of Protestantism to the Protestants, she has been equally unscrupulous in posing as a friend of the Catholic cause when it was a question of conciliating Catholic opinion. It was by pretending to be a friend of Catholicism that she prevented the Southern Irish from entering with all their forces into a great national movement under O’Neill and O’Donnell in the days of Elizabeth. It was by pretending to be a friend of Catholicism that she procured the support of many of the leaders of the Catholic Church for the Act of Union at the end of the eighteenth century. If we go further back, was it not by pretending to be concerned for the welfare of the Catholic Church that the English King, Henry II obtained the Papal Rule which was supposed to justify the first English invasion of Ireland. This is scarcely a similar case to the others I have mentioned, but it seems to remind the impartial student of history how consistent and successful has been the hypocrisy with which England has deluded the adherents of the different religions with regard to the real nature of her aims.
England’s game in Ireland has always been to whisper one suspicion into the ear of the Protestant and another suspicion into the ear of the Catholic, until the two of them became irritated with each other, almost to the point of murder. While the Irish Protestant and Catholic stand scowling at each other, they forget everything else in the heat of their passion. They forget their own interests. They forget the interests of Ireland. Above all, they forget to watch what England is doing. England, in the meanwhile, has not been wasting her time. Having engaged the Protestant Irishman and the Catholic Irishman in a deadly quarrel, as soon as she feels sure that neither of them is looking, she begins to fill one of her pockets with Catholic money and the other with Protestant money – it is all the same to her. It is money she is after – Irish money; and she does not stop to inquire into the religion of the individual proprietors. In the eighteenth century she did not listen to the cry of the Protestant manufacturers, as she crushed our manufactures one by one, and grew rich on Ireland’s poverty. In the nineteenth century, she would not spare our manufacturers because they were Protestant. She did not crush them because they were Catholic, but because they were Irish. The history of Irish agriculture is much the same as the history of Irish industries. England did not liberate the Protestant farmer from his state of semi-servitude any sooner than she liberated the Catholic farmer. She was equally deaf to the appeals of both until she saw that the similarity of their interests was drawing them together, and making them remember that they were both equally Irishmen. Then she conceded just enough to satisfy the Protestant farmer, that it was by trusting in her rather in those wicked Catholic brothers of his that he would get what he wanted. The sectarianism that is the curse of Ireland is really the product of English rule. It has paid England to split Irishmen into different sects, and to take advantage of the consequent weakness of Ireland to appropriate as much of our wealth as she was able. If you clear the English Government out of Ireland, sectarianism will scarcely survive more than a single generation.
If Orangemen would only pause a moment to consider, they would see that England’s policy in Ireland is not, in the last analysis, a Protestant policy but an anti-Irish policy. It is a policy supported by all creeds and classes of Englishmen. The English Catholic approves of it as heartily as the English Protestant. One of the most consistent enemies that Irish nationality has had for some time is the leading English Catholic layman, the Duke of Norfolk. If England is fighting the battle of Protestantism, and not of English grab and greed, how is it that when she wants an Irish national movement crushed she attempts to get it officially condemned by the Pope? If it is a friend of the Protestants that England has succeeded in deluding the Ulster Orangemen, it is as a friend of the Catholics that she raises her voice at the Vatican. England wears the Catholic mask one day and the Protestant mask another day; she always assumes the mask that pays best at the time. England went to Rome to demand a condemnation of the Plan of Campaign. She got what she asked for, and the Papal denunciation of the Plan of Campaign was ordered to be read from every Catholic pulpit in Ireland. If England is fighting the battle of Protestantism in Ireland, how is it that she succeeded in getting her Irish policy endorsed in this way by the Pope? Are the Orangemen so infatuated as to believe that a fight in which English Protestants and English Catholics and the Pope were on one side and the majority of Irish Catholics with a handful of Protestants on the other can rationally be described as a fight between the forces of Protestants and the forces of “Popery?” If so, they will argue next that the late Pope was a Protestant, and will be for having his portrait painted on their banners. I imagine, however, that, as reasonable human beings, they are bound before long to see that England in the course of her long connection with Ireland has been seeking neither Protestant ends nor Catholic ends. She has never sought anything but her own ends, and these have been the enrichment of England, and as a necessary result, the impoverishment and depopulation of Ireland. She has sought her own ends in Ireland as she has in South Africa. The Boers are as predominately Protestant as the Irish are predominately Catholic – much more so, indeed. But England robbed the Protestant Boers of their possessions with as little compunction as she showed in robbing the Catholic Irish of theirs. When will the eyes of Orangemen be opened so that they may see that the first object of their lives ought to be to make Ireland happy and free and beautiful; and that the chief obstacle to this is the foreign domination established in this country, and kept in its place by the Catholic and Protestant electors of England? If the Catholics and Protestants of England can combine to ruin us, why can we Irish Catholics and Protestants not combine and save ourselves from ruin? It is not Catholics or Protestants that will save Ireland, Ireland will only be saved by Irishmen.
If the Orangemen are going to justify themselves as Irishmen – and all good Orangemen, I believe, are Irish at heart – they must surely recognise that they owe a very special and, perhaps, difficult duty to their country. One of the chief duties of an Irishman to-day, as everybody must see, is to put an end to sectarianism throughout the land. The oath of the United Irishmen bound every member of the society to “forward a brotherhood of affection, an identity of interests, a communion of rights, and a union of power among Irishmen of all religious persuasions.” Every true Irishman, whether Protestant or Catholic, ought solemnly to take that oath to-day. Is there any reason in the world why an Orangeman should not take it? If an Orangeman cannot take this oath, then neither can he deserve the name of Irishman. If Irishmen really love their country, the Protestant Irish must try and forget all the wicked things Catholics have done, and the Catholic Irish must try and forget all the wicked things Protestants have done. Both sides have done many things of which, on looking back, they must feel ashamed. In the history of Ireland, however, sectarian atrocities are but occasional accidents. We might use them as an argument against the truth of Christianity, as fairly as against the righteousness of Ireland’s passion for nationhood. What we must remember is the noble tradition that our mother Ireland has handed down to us – Protestant and Catholic alike, – the tradition of a great fight in which Catholic and Protestant aristocrat, “Popish” priest and Presbyterian minister, lawyer and farmer and labourer, have fought side by side, ready to give up life and liberty, if by doing so they could help, in ever so little, a measure to make their country prosperous and beautiful and free. It is the tradition of Red Hugh, of Owen Roe, of Lord Edward, of Wolfe Tone, of Emmett, of Thomas Davis, of John Mitchel. To reverence this tradition ought to be part and parcel of the religion of every Irishman. Our country, like our mother, was given to us to love and to cherish. I cannot see how any man can love God without loving his country, and I cannot see how any Irishman can love either God or his country without resolving to do all in his power to banish the evil spirit of sectarianism from Ireland. Every one will admit, however, that an Ireland free from sectarian strife and passion would be an Ireland fit for all the blessings and responsibilities of independence. The ideal, therefore, of every true Irishman must be an independent Ireland. We are marching irresistibly towards the independence of Ireland to-day. We do not ask the coward or the self-seeker or the sectarian to join us. To every honest Orangeman however, we hold out the hand of fellowship. “Ireland,” as Parnell said, “cannot afford to do without any of her sons.”
The coming years will be, perhaps, the most critical that Ireland has known since the English first landed on her shores. They will be critical years, too, in the history of Orangeism. The Orangeman must now make a definite choice. He must declare himself an Irishman, with a high faith in Ireland’s future and a passionate longing to see her raise her head once more among the free nations. Or he must frankly confess himself to be an anti-Irishman, a hater of that beautiful green land in which his fathers, and their fathers before them, lived and laboured and were put to rest in their graves. The choice is quite clear. It is not between Protestant and Catholic. Protestant and Catholic alike have grown from child to boy, from boy to man, on Irish earth, and in Irish wind and sun and rain. Protestant and Catholic alike have fought the good and lasting fight on behalf of Irish liberty – have faced death cheerfully side by side in the hope that one day they or their sons would rescue the fair body of their country from defilement by the foreigner. Ireland has had many daring sons of diverse creeds and diverse races. Protestant and Catholic, Celt and Dane, and Norman and Saxon, they are all her lawful children, sprung from her loins, sucked at her loving breast owing her loyalty and service as they owe loyalty and service to no other country under God’s wide Heaven. What a foul and unnatural brood we must be if, now that there is a chance of setting our country free, and making her strong and self-reliant and glorious again, we put off coming to her aid in order to indulge in a miserable family squabble? It has no relation to the question whether Ireland is to be governed from at home by Irishmen or from abroad by foreigners.
England has dishonoured our country in body and in soul. She has robbed it of its revenues. She has banished its strong men and women to the ends of the earth. She has made a wilderness where once were pleasant gardens. As the fruit of seven hundred years of English rule, Ireland, that was a queen among the nations, now sits, like a tattered kitchen-wench, among the ashes of her greatness, desolate and despised, her very name all but blotted out from the world’s memory. Who is on the side of Ireland? Who is on the side of her destroyer? This is a question that Orangemen must answer soon – that they will answer, I believe, as dutiful sons of this common motherland of ours ought to answer it. I cannot believe that courage is dead in Ulster – the courage that leaps in the heart with the desire to help the weak against the strong – to take service under God in the endless battle against the forces of unrighteousness. If there is one thing of which I am certain, it is that for Irishmen the service of God and the service of the Irish nation are one, and that the English spirit of domination is wickedness and a sin against the light, to which every honest Irishman ought to offer all the resistance in his power.
The love of Ireland may not, however, lead Orangemen to so extreme a conclusion all at once. It is not unfair to ask them whether this love of Ireland is going to lead them to any conclusion that will be of practical benefit to Ireland at all. If they love Ireland, what is the most they are prepared to do for her? Without even ceasing to be political Unionists, they may do a great deal. They may help Ireland to become industrially and intellectually independent. Dean Swift, one of the greatest of Irish patriots, told us in detail the causes of a kingdom’s throwing many years ago. “The fourteenth,” he said, “is a disposition of the people of a country to wear their own manufactures, and import as few incitements to luxury, either in clothes, furniture, food, or drink, as they possibly can live conveniently without.” Do the Orangemen wish Ireland to thrive? If they do, then they must insist upon obtaining in the shops they support Irish-manufactured goods as far as it is possible. They must insist upon having Irish watches, Irish soap, Irish flour, Irish boots, Irish hats, Irish clothes. If the shopkeepers cannot supply them, let the Orangemen withdraw their support, and give it to shopkeepers who can and will.
One of the worst enemies of Ireland at present is the shopkeeper who, for the sake of a small bonus, helps the foreigner to drive the Irish manufacturer out of the home market. The buying public, however, can change all this. If we refuse to buy foreign goods, we shall soon cease to see them occupying the foremost place on the shop counters and in the shop windows. It is our patriotic duty, however, not only to create great national industries, but to bring into being a great national system of education. If we really love Ireland, it is about Ireland, and not about England or any foreign country, that we shall wish principally to hear in our schools. Irish history must be made an important part of the education of every Irish child. The teaching of Danish history so awakened the national mind of Denmark during the past century that Denmark is now a prosperous and progressive nation. Irish ignorance of the history of Ireland has so sapped our interest in ourselves and our faith in ourselves that some of us have been even brought to believe that we alone among civilised peoples are unfit for the ordinary duties of self-government. This shows what we might call a lack of national manhood, of national self-respect, that is excessively degrading. And, along with our history, we must restore the Irish language to its rightful place as the language of the Irish people. The Irish language and the Irish people are the products of the same air and the same soil. The Irish language belongs to the people of all races who inhabit Ireland just as the English language belongs to the people of all races who inhabit England. If the English people had adopted the language of their Norman conquerors, England would now be a mere weakly province of France instead of being one of the great nations of the earth. The English, however, clung to their language, and everybody who wishes to live in England must learn to speak it. As a result, the English national mind became strong and self-reliant, and the fruits of their strength and self-reliance may be seen in a great English commerce and a great English literature. Ireland, when she spoke her own language, also produced a noble literature, and laid the foundations of a flourishing commerce. If Irish were now the language of all the Irish people, we, too, would be a nation, thinking our own thoughts, writing our own books, working out our own commercial and agricultural and intellectual salvation. As it is, we are very little better than a spiritless, unenterprising country or colony of England. If a country imports a language from abroad, it will import everything else from abroad. It is a law of nature. “Only upon the soil of a nation,” said Kossuth, “can the salvation of a nation be worked out.” Will Orangemen insist upon the introduction of the Irish language into all the Irish schools? They cannot learn the language themselves, perhaps; they can see that their children learn it, and grow up Irish through and through. When Irishmen all speak their own language again, Ireland will be a nation indeed, standing upon her own two legs, self-reliant and unashamed among the nations of the earth. The Orangemen, without sacrificing an iota of their political convictions can help us to achieve this glorious end. Surely, this is the least that, as Irishmen who love Ireland, they can honourably do.
I have shown already, however, that an Orangeman may go much further than this without sacrificing any of the historic principles of his order. The Orangemen of a hundred years ago believed that Ireland ought to take her place among the nations, not only in an industrial and intellectual, but in a political sense. The best of them believed that no power on earth had the right to make laws for the Irish people, except the King, Lords and Commons of Ireland. If foreigners are allowed to make our laws for us, we are, as Dean Swift said, “in the condition of patients who have physic sent them by doctors at a distance, strangers to their constitution, and the nature of their disease.” This is eternally true. Many of the Orangemen saw it a hundred years ago. Many of them, I believe, are beginning to see it again to-day. No one who really loves Ireland can fail to see it. With our own King, Lords and Commons, we might now have made of Ireland a perfect country. We should certainly not have made such a dismal mess of it as the strangers have done. Are the Orangemen willing to open their eyes to the folly of governing Ireland by English Lords Lieutenants and English Chief Secretaries? If they are, are they willing to accept the only possible alternative, and demand that she shall be governed by an Irish Parliament? They can do so without ceasing to be constitutional Orangemen, and no one will deny them the right to be called patriotic Irishmen, if they accompany us so far. As patriotic Irishmen, can they even desire to do less?
So for myself, I believe that Ireland will one day be an independent republic, and I believe that this is a consummation for which all good Irishmen ought both to pray and to labour without ceasing. “From my earliest youth,” said Wolfe Tone in 1798, refusing to make any defence or apology for the course of action that he was about to pay for with his life, “I have regarded the connection between Ireland and Great Britain as the curse of the Irish nation; and felt convinced that while it lasted this country could never be free nor happy.” Everyone who has read Irish history with any care or desire to discern the truth will feel bound, however reluctantly, to agree with this declaration of Wolfe Tone’s. The history of the relations between Ireland and Great Britain since the death of Tone has justified his attitude a thousand times over. The closer our connection with England has been made, the less free and the less happy we have become. It has never been a connection founded upon love or common interests. It is such a connection as exists between a ravisher and the woman he has forced to marry him. If a man were either to force or dupe a woman into marrying him, no one would argue that such a marriage was Divine. No one would expect the woman to forgive and forget, to let bygones be bygones, to live happily, even joyfully, with a partner who had done her so foul a wrong. Ireland, like an unwilling bride, has pined and sickened unto death in the chains of her unnatural connection with England. Or, perhaps, it is only glossing over the truth to hint that anything that can honestly be called a marriage exists, or ever has existed between England and Ireland. Ireland has been not so much an unwilling bride as an enslaved mistress, a thing to be used and not loved, a chattel for the satisfaction of base appetites, despised even while she is held closest, now betrayed with a kiss, now insulted with sneers, her spirit beaten out of her with cruel blows. These are the facts of the situation, as it is at the present moment, as it has been for hundreds of years. We may lie to ourselves as we please, we may pretend to ourselves as we please, we may go on talking cant about “loyalty,” and England’s love of freedom, until we have put out the sun with our talking, but, if we have a pair of ordinarily honest eyes in our heads – perhaps, I ought to say “in our souls” – nothing can blind us to the fact that England rules Ireland to-day, not by love or the consent of the people, but by force of arms. By means of corruptest trickery, too, for has not England always held out lavish rewards to those who have sown strife among us, teaching the Irish Protestant that the Irish Catholic is his enemy and that he must look to England, instead of to God and his own right arm, for his salvation? Scarcely an Ulster Unionist member has ever retired from public life without having had some honour or office conferred on him in return for his services as England’s agent and purveyor of lies to the Irish Protestants. Please God, the Irish Protestants will not much longer be the dupes of these contemptible mercenaries. They have been bought and sold like tripe over a counter; and the humour of the whole business is that they have been despised equally by those who have bought and those who have sold them. Orangemen – and, indeed, Irishmen of every sort – will be despised, and justly despised, until they learn to respect themselves and each other. They would not respect themselves and each other without at once claiming their rights as the citizens of a free and self-reliant nation.
Whether we believe in absolute separation from England, or whether we aim at such legislative independence as existed under Grattan’s Parliament, we can at least agree upon the means by which to arrive at our goal. Our paths are the same for nine-tenths of the way, and we can march along them in the spirit of the closest comradeship and co-operation. Let us admit at once that we have only been giving our case away by sending delegates to ask for our freedom in the British House of Commons. The battle of Irish freedom will not be fought out on the floor of the British House of Commons, but on the soil of Ireland. The Irish nation will be built up by the loving labour and self-sacrifice of Irish men and women, not by an Act of the British Parliament. The representatives of Ireland at Westminster are compelled to take an oath of allegiance to the King of England, and, while Ireland is bound hand and foot in the chains of English mis-rule, to take an oath of allegiance to the King of England is to take an oath of treachery to Ireland. Even if the attendance of a few score Irish beggars at Westminster were not worthy as a matter of principle, it would have to be condemned as the sheerest folly on merely practical grounds. Firstly, by turning our eyes towards Westminster, we have turned our eyes away from Ireland. For the last thirty years or so we have been so engrossed in English Parliamentary debates that we forget to build up our industries, to establish a decent national education system, to do the work nearest to our hands, at home. Secondly, to accept seats in the English Parliament is to accept the price paid by England for Irish freedom, and so to admit England’s right to take away our freedom, and to govern us for her own ends. Thirdly, it is giving England the choice of ground, and in a battle it is always madness to give the choice of ground to the enemy. Fourthly, it is to put ourselves in a false position before the civilised world. While Irishmen voluntarily continue to enter the British House of Commons and to join the British army and navy, the civilised world will laugh at Ireland’s still pretending to be a nation. We cannot logically and at the same time act as if we were an English country and claim to be a separate nation; nor can we with honesty protest against being kept down by armed force at one moment, and the next moment become a part of the armed force by which our country is kept down. Fifthly, England has never conceded Irish legislation to talk in the House of Commons; she has never failed to give in in some measure to vigorous and determined agitation at home. The freedom of the Irish tenant-farmers has been won bit by bit by the farmers themselves putting themselves in a fighting attitude; or at least in an attitude of angry resistance. The lesson of Irish history since the Union is that Ireland must look to herself for salvation.
If we must give us Parliamentary agitation as unprincipled and unprofitable, and if we cannot in this year of grace hope to free ourselves by force of arms, what course of action is left open to us? Perhaps the Orangemen have not yet studied the Sinn Fein policy. They will find it described in detail in Mr. Arthur Griffith’s pamphlet, “The Sinn Fein Policy,” and in the Manifesto of the Dungannon Club. It is a policy of abstemption from helping England to govern us whether through her Parliament or her armed forces, of offering a passive resistance at all possible points to English taxation and to English rule. It is a policy which calls on Irishmen to revive their industries and to revive the language. It is a policy that invites them to create a national Parliament out of their own will, to send their representatives to meet in the Irish capital, and to consent to stand by their decrees. If the Irish nation, Protestant and Catholic, Celt, and Dane and Saxon, has any manhood left in it, it will adopt this policy, and it will not be long after that until Ireland is a nation once more, freer and happier and nobler than ever she was before. If we Irishmen and women are, in reality, the sons and daughters of God, is it not right that, in harmony as brothers and sisters, we should establish a Kingdom of God within the borders of this island country of ours? The call of Ireland to us is a Divine call. Only when Orangemen and Catholic alike hear it, will the will of God be fully accomplished among us and Ireland fulfil her destiny as a light among the nations.