From The Citizen, May 1840.

It is the thirteenth of April, in the year of grace, eighteen hundred and forty, – and the Decennary of Catholic Emancipation. Do we remember what we were, prior to that memorable day, when the minister of England told his reluctant master, that if he signed not the writ of religious liberty, he could no longer hold the reins of rule? Are we conscious of the change that has taken place in us, and in our land, since then? Have we looked in the glass of time, and marked how the form of our countenance has changed? Have we measured the course we have run; or the destiny that now, like a map of our national fate, lies opened out before us? It may be that we have not, or not too carefully. And yet, if a consistent policy is to mark our future course, if we are to prove ourselves worthy of the great and good, who from their martyr’s home, look down upon the partial accomplishment of that redemption which they lived and died for – if we be worthy to perfect that great work which has already been so well begun, it is indispensable that we pause at the recurrence of such epochs as this day terminates, to ask and answer the all-meaning questions, Where are we then? Whence have we come; and whither are we wending?

Childhood – the time of ignorance, of weakness, of unstable purpose, of wild dreams, of fruitless energy, of little joys and feeble fears – childhood has passed away. The sense of individual being is already quick within us; the consciousness of a power determinedly to will, of a capacity to self-guide and self-sustain, – struggles inarticulately for utterance, as though – unused to the echo of its own voice – it hesitated to pronounce the high longings that are in its heart. With such like wonder at its new condition, doth the young eagle linger near the broken shell, ere it venture forth on untried wing to seek its destined course; not that the clear breath of morning is not sweet to its emancipated sense – not that it dreams of going back into its prison-house again; its calm, bold eye is fixed upon the sun; when its pinions are full plumed it will soar, – when its instinct shall say – it is time.

So is it with a people. In the days of childhood, they were weak, inconstant, ignorant of all things, specially ignorant of themselves. They vacillated between blind and desperate resistance to an authority whose strength they forgot to estimate – and reckless submission, whereinto they allowed themselves to be amused, by sugared words whose fallacy they had found a thousand times. There was no self-knowledge – no self-reliance; but a vain looking after foreign help that could not save them. Neither was there any calm or reasoned insight then, into the evils they endured, or into the real cause and nature of them. Palliatives, quick remedies then (as still) were held out to them; but not as now were they appreciated and scorned. The people had not begun to learn to think for themselves; and the ill comprehended dictates of whispering conspiracy were instead of the instinctive utterance – incontrollable as unbidden, of the reasoned and abiding sympathy of a great people.

‘Twas childhood’s time; and, save as contributing to mould and temper the development of future years, ‘twas an idle fruitless time, – a time full of deep suffering and slavery – the deeper and more sorrowful to look back on, for the very silence and oblivion that hangs over its grave. Nevertheless, for our country it was also the growing time. Not eighty years ago the traveller, as he looked over the green fields round Cashel’s hill, lamented that it was but one uncultured pasture, and that there were not men enough to till the ground.[1] There are men enough in Tipperary now, to till the ground – aye, and for better purpose too. ‘Twas the schooling time. Political teaching – like all other teaching that is good for aught – must be self-learned. For some twenty generations – less or more, were our people kept at school; and by an infinite medly of methods, chiefly indeed of the inhuman and blood-bringing sort, was it sought to drill, and cuff, and kick, and flog them into the manners and notions of their masters. We do not stop to ask how far the process was successful, or how lasting any part of what was force-taught thus is likely to prove. We are thinking of other things just now; rather of what Ireland has become and is becoming, than of a hypothetic present built upon a hypothetic past. We see one thing growing up daily, hourly, in and among our people, and we deem that one thing in itself, far more than adequate to accomplish all that we desire and want. That thing is SELF-RESPECT.

Next to the homage that is due to the Most High, and the cultivation of that respect, which it is our best of privileges to know how we ought to render most acceptably, the most abiding and inalienable duty which a nation owes is self-respect. He who dishonoureth himself must be dishonoured by his fellows; he who forgetteth in whose likeness he was made, cannot expect that others will remember it. And it is with a people as with a man. They have no right to forego their rights; to whom indeed should they yield them up? The stature of no fellow nation hath been cast loftier than theirs; the sorrow of no other is more sacred than theirs; the flesh of no other is less mortal than theirs; and the spirit of them both is one and everlasting.

Wherefore then the difference? Say rather wherein lies the difference? In many things doubtless, in more numerous things than we could easily name; but specially and above all, in this thing of self-respect. The trodden down of many hundred years, the outlawed for generations in their own land, the severed into hostile bands to tear and maim, and humble one another for their own manifest loss, and the avowed benefit of their superiors as they call themselves, until they are called so even by their victims – can these know self-respect? Can these be built up into honour? Can these enter into the banqueting rooms of nationhood, and learn to feel and to be felt not as intruders there?

Yes, assuredly they can, if they but will. The means – the way – the power are all chiefly in themselves. With the steady growth and consciousness of life and light, and of the casting off one by one of the gyves that held them hitherto down, the sense of self-reliance – self-esteem will come; and this respect – in the good time appointed by our God – will work out our redemption without fear or trembling.

But the habit must be nurtured with all care; the good must be cultivated, ministered to, tended now in the spring time of its growth, lest it fade away and come not to maturity in our time. It is the year of grace 1840, and we – what and where are we? Not where we were as yestereven; hardly in sight of the dim and cheerless goal we started from – scarce twenty years ago. We already feel – what then was an unknown want – the want of recognition. Even as the beaten slave, was the country then, whining for leniency and food, and every now and then licking the hard hand of power, or out of breath with exultation when its voice feigned aught of conciliation.

That shameful day – when, if it were possible, we justified our burdens – that shameful day is done, is already fallen into such forgetfulness, that we verily believe could one who died then, rise from the dead to-day, he would imagine chaos come again. It is the thirteenth of April, 1840, the decennary of emancipation. Ten noteful years have come and gone, since the organised might of the Irish people broke utterly and for ever, that ‘machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, which,’ as our own glorious countryman has imperishably said, ‘was as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment, and degradation of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.’[2] The governors of England maintained it while they could. It was the mystic symbol of their rule; and when they suffered it to fall, they did not willingly surrender it, but, as was finely said by one whose earlier years were spent in the conflict, ‘they dropped it with a curse.’

Of the results of that mighty act, history must speak. We are yet too near to see or count them all; too near perhaps to estimate any of them in their true proportions. But there are one or two effects of the great charter of 1829, which, as they have been less often dwelt upon, and yet are inferior to none in their lasting and national importance, we crave a moment’s patience while we note.

And the first is – Protestant emancipation – the emancipation of the faith of Protestants from the shame of oppression, of the feelings and the energies of Protestants from the garrison duty of maintaining and defending an un-Irish, an inhuman, an unchristian system. Not for their benefit was that strong hold of tyranny constructed, though that was the pretext and the lure. Many among them saw and felt this, and earnestly expostulated with those who had dominion over them. The deep corruption – the soul-darkening vileness of that system was loathed, and hated, and resisted even unto unavailing death, by many a brave man who could not look upon his neighbour’s face, without remembering how all the genuine honour of his religion was sullied and defiled, by the tyranny inflicted hypocritically in its name. It concerns the traditionary reputation of our land, while as yet her history is unwritten, not to forget these things; to recollect that almost all the men of Protestant name and lineage from 1782 to 1829, whose virtues or whose talents we look back upon with pride – avowed themselves ashamed of the bondage of their countrymen, and proved that were it left to them, that bondage long ago had ceased.

But these were as the tops of the mountains, which caught the earlier gleams of day, and enjoyed a purer atmosphere. To the many, the perception of the joy and the good of being just – of the duty of revolting against injustice, no matter how antique or constitutionally forfeited – came not so soon. It was part of the denationalising, unhumanising system of Catholic slavery, to educate Protestants in the theory and the logic of oppression. They were taught fear instead of love, suspicion instead of confidence, the policy of tyranny instead of the security of justice, to believe their religion depended upon acts of Parliament instead of the promises of the Gospel. What followed? That patriotism in the minds of men so trained, became a thing impossible. They felt the want of it themselves, and were continually trying to kindle a mimic fire of Britonism; but it would not light, for it was an affectation. They had no country; ah – it is a dreary waste of human misery, and groping selfishness, and hardening of the heart, and unspiritualising of the spirit of man – that whereon the gate of the country closes. It was a sense of this moved Grattan when he asked the Protestant parliament of 1782: –

‘Will you not take off the Catholics’ chain, that they may take off yours?’

It is true, that long before 1829, the mass of Protestants had greatly changed; but the plague spot was still there, and there could be no health along with it.

‘Twas indispensable then, that both Catholics and Protestants should be emancipated, before either could have a country. Oppression hath no country; the free, bounding, self-devoted spirit of nationalism hath not where to lay its head, in an oppressor’s land. It will not be paraded in the train of fear; it will not wear a holiday cloak for suspicion; it will not fabricate the glided sheath for the dagger, that has reeked in the life’s blood that it loves. There may be asseveration most eloquent in its way, there may be theatre applause at historic patriotism, – there may even be individual philanthropy, justice, mercy, truth in a thousand forms – aye and a million-voiced acclaim of gratitude from the many who bow down; but while the many do bow down, for that leave to live in peace which rightfully is their own to have as men – there can be no such thing as country, in the heart of those to whom they bow.

And they themselves – shall they be told they have a country, as they cringe, and stoop, and promise good behaviour if their domineers will but trample lightly on them? Yes truly, they were told it many a time; by none more frequently, and we have no doubt sincerely, than by each other. The dream of an (impossible) patriotism was less intolerable, than the confession of being nationally homeless; and in their misery they dreamt that dream of country, and waking said ‘twas true. Whereupon ten thousand swords were brightened beside every stream, and the Catholic soldiery of Ireland went forth to bleed and die, in defence of a country, that – except in dreams – was none of theirs.

Internally there were consequences of all this; and externally. As towards each other we were senseless, because, although the organs to see and know were given us, while the wall of separation lasted we could not overlook it. But it is broke down; and now, as in the garden given us to dwell in, we behold each other as ‘twere for the first time, and mutual presence brings to each that sense of shame, which until now, it was impossible we should have known. We look upon the fair and fruitful garden that surrounds us; we call to mind that it was given us to tend and cultivate; and while we seem to hear the voice of the common Spirit-father in every cool interval of the day, we hide our face in self reproach and deep humiliation, for we have sinned and we are naked.

Naked truly are we, and neglected is this garden-land of ours. It is a bitter thought, and one made more intolerable by the gazing, curious pity of the nations round us. We feel there is no little of indecency in this our exposure to the compassion even of the world; we shrink – we hide – alas! we cannot hide ourselves. Yet surely even this – hard, bitter, grievous though it be – is also appointed for our good. Nay, it is clear, that, starting from that point of internal severance, and enmity, and mutual ignorance of twenty years ago, it was a gate of sorrow through which it was necessary we should sometime pass; and being so, is it not well we have arrived at it so soon? And having come thus far, and thriven by the way in strength, and knowledge, and mutual understanding, it is not in the power of all our adversaries to thwart our triumphant progress onwards.

There are backsiders and deserters, it is true; but was there ever such a host as that whereunto we belong, from whose ranks there were not such apostates? Was ever a full harvest without some blind ears? Was ever bough without some withered leaves? We can afford all such deductions without fear or care. We are growing strong – we are growing many. We are – what is even more important still – fast welding together into one firm bond, similar – inseparable – one. The little brawling of the small-witted bigotry which fumes and swaggers up and down its narrow and unpopulous path, can do no great harm. It is hungry – it is loud – it is nimble – but it is growing daily thinner, more unfashionable; ‘tis more frequently disowned by those that once it loved, and from whose fingers it was fed; ‘tis growing spiteful, feeble, shrill; ‘twill possibly die mad. Meanwhile, its tragics forcibly remind us of the petulant clique of a former day, whom Burke has embalmed in the fragrant spices of his ridicule: –

‘Because half-a-dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, while thousands of great cattle chew the cud and are silent, let no man imagine that those who make the noise are the chief inhabitants of the field, that they are even many in number, or that, after all, they are other than the little shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour.’

The puny efforts of these famishing intolerants to do serious mischief cannot avail. Their English masters are much disagreed as to whether they are any longer serviceable; but they are nearly unanimous in declaring that they are not worth paying for. Ungrateful enough, to be sure, such treatment, and, indeed, not apparently politic on the part of the said masters. For should they be wanting in some time to come, by way of last resource, they will have fallen so sadly out of the good old mercenary condition, that it will take a generation to recruit them. Thus every way is their turmoil and striving to push back the tide of time vain and pitiable. ‘Twill not go back – this tide of time; ‘twill assuredly overpass their tiny bramble barriers. ‘Twere better for themselves they timely sneaked into whatever barge was nigh, and penitently submitted to be floated on that tide of time, rather than be overwhelmed thereby; which advice indeed not a few of the less stupid ones among them have already shown their willingness to take.

But, for the progress onward of The People unto nationality – of the Nation into power and freedom – that is secure. Emancipation is passed – amalgamation is begun. Catholicity has been enfranchised, Protestantism has been unburdened, and the good of both have been united as they never were before. The image of ascendancy is fallen in the dust – is broken in pieces by the joined hands of those who dragged its car, and those who were crushed beneath its wheels.

But externally, likewise, results will quickly become recognisable, from the events of that memorable day, when our jailors, finding it no longer possible to make us hold each other down, as they fled from the door of our prison-house, flung us the key. As we were then unknown to one another, we were unknown also to the world. Elsewhere similar deeds of despotism had been done to other people; but they knew not of our fate, nor we of theirs, nor mutually had we learned how mighty is the pulse of that great sympathy between the wronged and the wronged, that the prison discipline of tyranny is everywhere so sedulous to numb.

If the despots have their masonry, shall not also the free? or, to speak more literally, if Austria and Russia are doing now, as England and Spain were doing not very long ago, are we men, and have we hearts within us, and do we not yearn to know how the fight fares – our own fight of yestereven – the fight must be lost and won throughout the world, ere one-half of mankind cease to suffer the rulers of the other half to boast, that they must and that they may be treated in their own fair fatherlands, ‘as aliens in blood, language, or religion.’ This is no new theorem of misrule; it is the old canon of imperial ruffianism, and has been recognised and acted on, in one form or other, in every political system of imposition, from Rome’s to Spain’s – from the days of Mahomet II to those of Nicholas I. If a subject people will not nationally die – if they will not stifle every memory and each aspiring thought – if they cannot, without wrinkling, suffer the smoothing-iron of assimilation to pass over them – then they must be trodden down, crushed out of home, and hope, and pride. ‘The public safety renders the severity indispensable;’ and the blasphemy against nature becomes the rubric of the established order of things.

Two things, however, have begun to make a very serious difference in the modes and possibilities of these matters – the one is printing, and the other is steam. It makes a most insubordinate, quite an unmanageable difference, in the state and prospect of the world-gaols, that the prisoners should hear all that is going on, as soon as the gaolers themselves. Still more perplexing is the condition of this upper class of personages, when the news reaches the prisoners a considerable time before it comes to them – telegraphs, spies, secret agents, couriers, police, and plenipotentiaries notwithstanding. Confusion still more irredeemably becomes confounded, when the contents of some principal devil’s portfolio walk suddenly out of its cover, and walking into a dirty, low-browed newspaper office, offer, for certain considerations to be then and there arranged, to tell the prime secret of all the prime turnkeys to the whole grinning, jibing, scoffing, and unpinioned crowd. Time was, when the long interval between distant events and the tidings of them, wholly numbed the most ready sympathy. ‘By this time it must be all over one way or other; there’s no use thinking, no use writing, no use stimulating by brotherly encouragement or counsel; what can be done?’ From which state of things, to that upon whose confines we already feel ourselves treading, there is a mighty span. No brother nation can be struck at now, and we remain unconscious. A few more railroads, and a few more additions to the available powers of steam, and the insolent menace will often waver ere it ventures to descend, in the face of witness-nations.

There is a moral power in physical force great in proportion to its diversity and amplitude; and the annihilation of space and time, which some unthinking, purblind prophets would have us mourn over as likely to militate against the severalty of nations, is in truth the mightiest pitfall ever dug for imperial ambition. Make the people of one country conscious of each other’s might – make them conscious of their won, and, with the growing insight into the one eternal and alone immutable principle of government, that whatever be the form (aye, or the whim) of each, SELF-RULE is the only right rule, – the imposition of a foreign yoke will become impossible and unmaintainable.

And hence we draw the clear and not to be mistaken principles, whereon the Foreign policy of Ireland must be founded. Hitherto such considerations were worse than meaningless. We were not a nation in our own esteem, or in the eyes of others. But as our own ideas are not what they were, so neither is our aspect in the sight of other peoples. Our relationship to England is changed. While the game lasted of governing that crowd of fretful sectaries that, instead of a nation, occupied Ireland for two hundred years, a national policy – a self-ruling policy, either for things internal or for things external, was impossible. ‘Twas treason by act of parliament – ‘twas gibbering mockery of sense and fact, which was far worse. But ten years’ truce has done its work; ten years of civil equality, even though frustrated and defeated in a thousand sinister and vexatious ways, have sufficed to show what Ireland must become ere long. And that we take to be this in chief among many other things – a country governable only by her own consent.

Already the overwhelming preponderance of British representatives in parliament baulk at their old course of bearing down, by the dumb insolence of mere numbers, the constitutional voice of our people. They are as ready and as willing as ever; but their leaders shrewdly see the hopelessness of any administration which would drive the representatives of Ireland at bay. The last scene of the dragooning system covered all concerned in it with shame and discomfiture; that was in 1833, and we have made far head-way in intelligence, in thought, in every element of power since then.

Wherefore, we say that the time is fast approaching, if, indeed, it be not already come, when we can no longer neglect the external duties which we owe. Ireland has now her foreign policy – a great and comprehensive policy – based upon the immutable accordance of popular justice and popular interest.

We have, moreover, ample means for the practical and efficient exercise of that right which our advance to nationhood has put upon us. One hundred and five men annually go at our bidding across the sea, to consult with the delegates of Great Britain what is for the common weal of both, and what for the separate weal of each. It is true, that the prerogative of peace and war, and the conduct of foreign relations vests, by the book theory of the constitution, in the crown. But we also know, that a majority in parliament absolutely prescribe the principles, though not perhaps the persons, who are to be the responsible advisors thereof. This, therefore, is an obvious instrument of power which lies ready to be exercised if we will; and it is an instrument which we shall be accounted inexcusable by the future chroniclers of European liberty, if we forget to use. In the slang of diplomacy, the fate of Europe hangs upon the harmony or discordance of the five great powers, whereof the government of Ireland and Great Britain is one. That government could by the writing of ten lines have secured the liberty of Italy and of Poland within our own recollection. These lines were left unwritten, for the spirit of aristocracy in England, and the spirit of sectocracy in Ireland was paramount; and when did either of those twin influences willingly interpose on behalf of popular freedom? In Ireland, we have broken our tormentor-demon’s spell; and we are blind to our plain self-interest, deaf to our undoubted duty, if we instruct not our representatives steadily to keep in view – Ireland’s foreign policy.

But here cries some chicken-hearted prig: – ‘Why all this talk? surely the interests of the two countries must be one? What’s good for England cannot injure us, and what would injure us can never be the policy of England.’ To all of which, in the flippant, bat-blind, antinational sense in which it is uttered, we have only one answer to give, and that is: –

‘You have got, or you are hungry for a place, sleek sir; and, as you are not able to afford to think or feel like a man, we pity you exceedingly, but really we have nothing else for you at present but our most sincere compassion.’

There is indeed a sense wherein all this transparent roguery would turn to literal and honest truth; for we do also cherish the belief that the real interests of no two nations, did they so see them, or were they both suffered so to see them, can be permanently different. But this is wide as are the poles asunder, of the practical meaning of the crew, who would forbid us think, as Irishmen, of Ireland’s foreign policy. Take an example. We are perfectly convinced that the English people have as little interest as we have in a war just now with China; but to war, nevertheless, it seems highly probable that the government will go. Wherefore? Because the foreign policy of England has, for nearly now two centuries, been wielded by the aristocracy upon aristocratic principles – the principles of conquest, rapine, and misrule; and the people of England care not to interpose that China may not be invaded, rifled, and appropriated, as India has already been.

The aristocracy have their own interests in everything that tends still further to augment the territorial empire of England. The patronage of the colonies – three-fourths of which are no more colonies, than the negroes kidnapped on the coast of Guinea are the children of their stealers – is a principal means of aristocratic livelihood. The profits of colonial situations are very great – the responsibility little more than a plausible fiction; and were such an eldorado taken away, there would no longer be governorships, and judgeships, and comptrollerships to feed the mob younger sons, pauper cousins, and well-connected blockheads, who laugh, idle, and grow fat, in every subjugated quarter of the world. And as, from the nature of the thing, and in obedience to the all-explaining axiom of political economy – that ‘the supply has a tendency to exceed the demand,’ this vagrant mob have a constant tendency to increase – their illustrious food-finders, of every hue and party, have industriously, according to their several ability, to devise new encroachments and appropriations.

If the people of England, being aware of these things, choose to suffer them to be done in their name, what is that to us? Are we to stand by and acquiesce therein, because forsooth the legislatures of the two kingdoms happen to be united? Whose blood is shed in these conquests? Is it British only? Or whose hard industry is taxed for outfit of expeditions, and extra allowances, and additional regiments? Is it England’s only? Or what right – to put it upon higher ground – have we to ask the God and Father of our country for his blessing, if tacitly we sanction, through the medium of our representatives, that atrocious system of aggression and spoilation, which has characterized the foreign policy of aristocratic England in every clime – from Canada to Hindustan. If the Union be a reality, and not a cheat, it signifies this – that the delegates of both countries bear equally, in every respect, the moral – as their countries do the fiscal, responsibilities of empire; and if moral responsibility mean anything in a delegate, it means this – that neither as a man will he do what is morally wrong, nor as a member of parliament will he do what his constituents would not approve. We are not arguing now how far the past is irremediable; its guilt be upon the head of those who acted in it – we and our country are free. Until now we had no power to interpose; we have nothing, therefore, to reproach ourselves with – nothing wherewith history can reproach us. But with the accession of power, new responsibilities as a nation are come upon us; and our representatives, as they hope to stand individually blameless at the bar of public opinion – as they hope to keep their country free from the blood of all men in the sight of God – will henceforth have to stand together, in firm and unflinching opposition to any perseverance in the policy of oppression and of conquest.

The interests of Ireland and her uprising people are kindred with those of all the countries, where freedom is either won, or is struggling into life. The more closely we are allied with France, with Belgium, and with Spain, with Holland, Switzerland, Hungary, and Norway, the better will it be for us. They are all wending at various speed to the same goal, that we have in view. They have all had to pass through the same fiery ordeal of religious warfare; and all of them have had to fight for national freedom, and the sacred right of self-rule. And all have to a greater or a less degree triumphed over foreign and religious despotism. They are free – free by their own indomitable love of freedom, and of country. May God bless them, each and all of them, and crush the arm whencesoever it may come, that would molest them in the continued progress they are making, in the accomplishment of domestic liberty. But the fortunate do not alone call for and deserve our solicitude. Poland, Italy, and Greece – how full of shame would we be, if looking back at the desertion and betrayal of your cause by others, we had the intolerable memory of having lent a hand to the allied guilt of your undoing. Be your sufferings dearly and tenderly cherished in our hearts. Be our help and counsel ever ready when ye call for it; ere then we may have more effectual influence to exercise in your behalf; woe be unto us if we forget to use it!

The position of Hungary and Norway, so closely represents our own, that it is impossible to conceive anything more imperative, than the duty of watching diligently every movement of their national progress. Each of them is engaged in a constitutional conflict, against a power stronger than itself (in the world’s estimation at least,) and with the vantage of being the residence of the royal government. The great question they have practically to answer is, whether they are to have a national government, or an antinational one. We shall find ample opportunity hereafter, for entering in detail into the peculiar circumstances of both these excellent co-temporary workers, in the great work of human amelioration.

Upon the other hand, it is clear that with Austria or Russia, we have and can have no sympathy or community of interest. The decimation of Poland, and the subjugation of Italy, are real and solid grounds of sorrow and of distrust, to every people working out their freedom. The time has gone by when the fall of Warsaw, or of Naples, could be matter of indifference to us. It is right and just that it should be so. It is better we should be subject sympathetically to the anguish and the grief of such misfortunes, than incapable of feeling them. It is a part of the price of our advancement; one, that it is well for us that we are capable of paying. Surely it is better to have sympathy, at the risk of the agony that death calls forth, than to pass through existence below the capacity of its solace or of its joy.

If then we hear of Russian conquest in Asia, and ask is this done without remonstrance, let us not be baffled by the aggravating excuse, that no remonstrance was made against the recent subjugation of Cabul by Anglo-Indian arms. Again and again, we ask what is that to us? Loss, direct or indirect, but certain, in a pecuniary way is the only certain result thereof to us. The British possessions in India have been a lucrative source of aristocratic benefit no doubt, and the greater they become, the wider that benefit may grow. But these possessions have been since 1765, and they are up to the present hour, a dead weight upon the hard taxed toil of our impoverished people. The East India Company owe an enormous debt; the East Indian garrisons are supplied to a great extent by troops of the line? What are these troops paid for? Surely not for any Irish benefit? Whose money pays them? Ours is common with that of our English neighbours. But they do not complain; what, were it true, would that be to us? Would that pay our share of the taxes? But it is totally false. The English working classes, though far better off than ours, are tolerably discontented at their actual condition, are full of anger and vexation, and, though perhaps ill organised, seem to be fully possessed with the resolution to effect some change in the governing system. If they don’t understand precisely as yet what it is they must have done, or what it is that is radically wrong in England’s economical condition, that is no affair of ours. We understand our own position, and our own interests, foreign and domestic, and if we are wise and true men, we will not fail to secure them.

The standing policy of Ireland is peace. War is the policy of ambition – of aggression internationally – of usurpation and of slavery at home. Peace is the policy of freedom, war the policy of despotism. Peace is the strength of the people; war is the trade of oppressors of every grade, royal or aristocratic. Peace is the thriving time of popular improvement; war is the harvest of crime, the holiday of guilt. Peace is the religion of Christ; war is the gospel of hell. The free know well, however, that environed with the envy and hatred of the unjust, provision for self-defence is an absolute duty; and self-defensively, that war may frequently be forced upon them, whether they will or no. In such cases where the individuality of existence, is at stake, or those rights wanting which existence is but a state of nightmare, destitute of the consistency or consciousness even of a dream, to peril life and all things in the struggle is not only just, but admits not of honest hesitation. To endure with fortitude, only becomes the Christian and the patriot, when resistance to the evil is no longer possible – when to wrestle against power can no longer serve any purpose. Human life – our own, or that of others, is a sacred thing, which nought can justify our periling, but the menaced safety of some higher thing, or something as altogether sacred as itself. And such equivalents are few. The freedom of conscience – national integrity – the chastity of our homes – individual existence – are such; but we know not any other. The other daily causes of sanguinary warfare are but inhuman pretexts, in the mouths of those, who are in reality contending ‘for power, for plunder, and extended rule.’ Such were the wars of Louis XIV; such were those of Napoleon; such were those of Chatham and his inhuman son; and such are those now carrying on by Russia against Chiva and Circassia.

Russia is ambitious to become the Macedon of European liberty. The free states which hitherto gave arts and science to the world, while every land outside their confederation, lay in a comparative darkness of ignorance and despotism, have admitted the semi-barbarous but physically formidable neighbour into their league; and as he has thus acquired the knowledge and the power of civilization, they have one after another despicably abandoned the vital principles of their former brotherhood, and for selfish but unhallowed gain, permitted Russia to absorb province after province, and state after state within its reach. The Scythian has already bivouacked, at the invitation of England, in the Champ de Mars; he has made his home by the sufferance of France among the tombs of Warsaw; he has swallowed half of Sweden, and the fairest provinces of the Ottoman empire, by the acquiescent sanction of all – and the pale of the once boasted republic of free kingdoms is utterly trampled down. Yet this is the familiar friend – the humoured bloodhound pet of the courts of Paris, London, Vienna; and upon condition that Africa shall be left to the French, and Italy and Hungary to the Austrians, and Southern Asia to the English, to treat as they severally will, no word of reprobation or abhorrence will be suffered to escape diplomatic lips.

It is time then, that we learned to look at these things in their real colours, to judge for ourselves concerning them.

[1] Philosophical Survey of Ireland in 1777, by Dr. Campbell; Letter XIV.

[2] Burke.