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THE IRISH QUESTION., Issue 7906, 14 May 1889
THE IRISH QUESTION.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir,— Warned by Pope that “ Foola rush in where angels fear to tread,” I feel no very intense desire to follow your correspondent “ Irishman ” in his imaginative flight into the regions of Irish politics, especially as he has not the moral courage to subscribe his name to his opinions. But having been intimately associated with the Home Rule movement and its leaders in England, I may be allowed to possess a greater knowledge of the subject than your correspondent, who, judging from his letter which appeared in your issue of Thursday last, I assume to be no patriotic son of the Emerald Isle, but some rampant Orangeman, devoid of all sympathy for the Irish people, and who is more in love with his own opinions than with truth. “Irishman” bases his hostility to the popular cause upon certain utterances imputed to Messrs Dillon and Do.vltt (totK o£ ■whom deny their accuracy! and several extracts culled from one-sided organs, whose chief aim is—to use Milton’s phrase—“ to make the worse appear the better reason ” ; and his object at this particular juncture, no doubt, is to discount Home Rule in the eyes of the colonists, and prevent its ' champions, Messrs Dillon, Deasy, and Esmonde, receiving a warm reception when they visit Dunedin. A Roman Catholic is, in his sight, a very Frankenstein—an embodiment of all that is vile and unhallowed—and he would hunt him from the sphere of civilisation as one unfitted to mingle with the human family. He has not the power to argue, so he makes a frantic appeal to prejudice, and would frighten his readers by the apparition of his own fears. What has bigotry in religion to do with the justice of a great principle, or sectarian differences with the aspirations of four millions of people ? Possibly there are bigoted Roman Catholics as well as bigoted Protestants, and bigots on either side will do all they can to traduce and misrepresent those to whom they are opposed, and intelligent men knowing this will rate their ravings at their proper value. If “ Irishman ” intends to combat Home Rule and “ fight for Dame Religion as for punk,” he must take higher ground than a platform supported by prejudice and bigotry. He must be prepared to demonstrate that the sons of Erin are below all the other races in the world in physical, mental, and moral attributes; and this, with the noble traditions which Irishmen have written on the tablets of history, will prove a task of no easy accomplishment. To men of liberal ideas, what does it matter whether bigoted Wesleyans or brutal Orangemen regard Home Rule as a blessing or a delusion? The more important considerations with enlightened statesmen should be Shall justice be meted out to the Irish people ? Shall the rights sacred to every Englishman and Scotchman be denied to them? Shall free thought and speech, which have full play in every British colony, be refused only to our brethren in Ireland ? Shall a small clique of landgrabbers—the diseased excrescence of a corrupt political system—command all the military resources of the Kingdom to divorce the peasant from the soil and rob the tenant of his improvements? These are the questions which “ Irishman ” must argue if he desires to discuss the right of Ireland to selfgovernment, and, when he has braced up his nerves to wage the battle on these lines, I shall only be too happy to enter the arena as his antagonist. To understand the question of Home Rule as it ought to be understood, the student of Irish history must make himself acquainted, not only with the past wrongs of Ireland, but with her present wants and social condition. A heavy curse, for a long career of crime in Ireland, rests upon the rulers of England, and, before the guilt can be expiated, we shall have to pay a bitter penalty. Balfour and his minions may smile, and “ murder while they smile,” but, as the “old man eloquent” warned them, the hand-writing is on the wall, and the hour of doom rapidly approaching. If the heart of “Irishman” is not wholly ossified, I would advise him to take a few reading lessons' in Irish history, and he will then learn that from the very moment the English planted foot in Ireland they have played the part of savages and butchers, “ Force first made conquest, and that con’ quest law ”; and from that period down to the present generation, our methods of government have been penal edicts, confiscations, proscriptions, and coercion Acts, the last of which they have had eighty eight for the same number of years. Still we have not conquered Ireland, nor stamped out the noble aspirations of her people. We have consigned her patriots to the dungeon and executed them on the scaffold, but the spirit of the departed animates the living. The bleeding sire? have bequeathed as a legacy to their sons The indomitable will. Tbe thirst for bate, and study of revenge, The courage never to submit or yield, And, what is more, ne’er to be overcome,
still survive, and will gain greater force every day till England shall extend the olive branch of peace, and gracefully concede justice to a people whom she so long has cruelly wronged. The harp of Erin has not lost its strings—its strains are musical, but they are tinged with sadness ; still, the mountains and valleys which resound with the songs of her bards shall reawaken the spirit of her people and lead them on to victory. Hitherto Ireland has been treated as a shuttlecock, battledored by Whig and Tory. Both have given her promises, and both have shamefully violated them till “ hope deferred hath made the heart sick.” Can we, then, wonder that she has grown impatient of her thraldom, and burns with the desire to become a free nationality ? No, rather let us sympathise with hermisfortunes, and applaud her efforts to work out her own emancipation. We may not always approve the method she adopts to attain her ends; but she has no choice of weapons, and she must avail herself of those which the inexorable necessity of the situation has compelled her to make use of. The circumstances were of our creation, and the present generation, though innocent itself, must suffer,' to Som& eitenti for the crimes of its fathers. Some weak-knepd politicians will sajl 1 Ireland should bide hsr time till the English conscience feels a qualm of justice; but, in the language of the poet, might we not Where (s the slave so lo\yly Whb, fiould he burst ' ■ His chains at flrst, Would pine beneath them slowly? A country which has given birth to such men as Emmett, Curran, Grattan, Moore, and O’Connell, and which can still boast of such leaders as Messrs Parnell, Dillon, Davitt, and O’Brien, will not be content
“ to champ the bit and foam in fetters,” to be dragooned into silence, or coerced into slavery. “In the good old times when George the Third was King,” when corrupt Judges and vile Ministries conspired to consign Irish patriots to the scaffold, the hounds of persecution might be let loose on each and every occasion, but in this age of intelligence and toleration Englishmen can afford to acknowledge their Roman Catholic brethren as equally virtuous as themselves, and find no gratification in forging fetters to enchain the limbs of men whose only crime is that of loving their country, and whose only desire is to live in peace and harmony with their Scotch and English brethren, under the flag of Liberty, and enjoy the blessings of free institutions. —I am, etc., E. S. Mantz. North east Valley, May 13.
THE IRISH QUESTION., Issue 7906, 14 May 1889
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