PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM
TERENCE MACSWINEY Late Lord Mayor of Cork
THE SOLDIERS OF FREEDOM
IN EVERY LAND
It was my intention to publish these articles in book form as soon as possible. I had them typed for the purpose. I had no time for revision save to insert in the typed copy words or lines omitted from the original printed matter. I also made an occasional verbal alteration in the original. One article, however, that on "Intellectual Freedom," though written in the series in the place in which it now stands, was not printed with them. It is now published for the first time.
I wish to make a note on the article under this heading to avoid a possible misconception amongst people outside Ireland. In Ireland there is no religious dissension, but there is religious insincerity. English politicians, to serve the end of dividing Ireland, have worked on the religious feelings of the North, suggesting the danger of Catholic ascendancy. There is not now, and there never was, any such danger, but our enemies, by raising the cry, sowed discord in the North, with the aim of destroying Irish unity. It should be borne in mind that when the Republican Standard was first raised in the field in Ireland, in the Rising of 1798, Catholics and Protestants in the North were united in the cause. Belfast was the first home of Republicanism in Ireland. This is the truth of the matter. The present-day cleavage is an unnatural thing created by Ireland's enemies to hold her in subjection and will disappear entirely with political Freedom.
It has had, however, in our day, one unhappy effect, only for a time fortunately, and this is disappearing. I refer to the rise of Hibernianism. The English ruling faction having, for their own political designs, corrupted the Orangemen with power and flattery, enabled them to establish an ascendancy not only over Ulster, but indirectly by their vote over the South. This becoming intolerable, some sincere but misguided Catholics in the North joined the organisation known as THE ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS. This was, in effect, a sort of Catholic Freemasonry to counter the Orange Freemasonry, but like Orangeism, it was a political and not a religious weapon.
Further, as a political weapon, it extended all through Ireland during the last years of the Irish Parliamentary Movement. In Cork, for example, it completely controlled the city life for some years, but the rapid rise of the Republican Movement brought about the equally rapid fall of Hibernianism. At the present moment it has as little influence in the public life of Cork as Sir Edward Carson himself. The great bulk of its one-time members have joined the Republican Movement. This demonstrates clearly that anything in the nature of a sectarian movement is essentially repugnant to the Irish people. As I have pointed out, the Hibernian Order, when created, became at once a political weapon, but Ireland has discarded that, and other such weapons, for those with which she is carving out the destinies of the Republic. For a time, however, Hibernianism created an unnatural atmosphere of sectarian rivalry in Ireland. That has now happily passed away. At the time, however, of the writing of the article on Religion it was at its height, and this fact coloured the writing of the article. On re-reading it and considering the publication of the present work I was inclined to suppress it, but decided that it ought to be included because it bears directly on the evil of materialism in religious bodies, which is a matter of grave concern to every religious community in the world.
I. THE BASIS OF FREEDOM
III. MORAL FORCE
IV. BROTHERS AND ENEMIES
V. THE SECRET OF STRENGTH
VI. PRINCIPLE IN ACTION
IX. THE FRONTIER
X. LITERATURE AND FREEDOM—THE PROPAGANDIST PLAYWRIGHT
XI. LITERATURE AND FREEDOM—ART FOR ART'S SAKE
XIII. INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM
XV. THE EMPIRE
XVI. RESISTANCE IN ARMS—FOREWORD
XVII. RESISTANCE IN ARMS—THE TRUE MEANING OF LAW
XVIII. RESISTANCE IN ARMS—OBJECTIONS
XIX. THE BEARNA BAOGHAIL—CONCLUSION
PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM
THE BASIS OF FREEDOM
Why should we fight for freedom? Is it not strange, that it has become necessary to ask and answer this question? We have fought our fight for centuries, and contending parties still continue the struggle, but the real significance of the struggle and its true motive force are hardly at all understood, and there is a curious but logical result. Men technically on the same side are separated by differences wide and deep, both of ideal and plan of action; while, conversely, men technically opposed have perhaps more in common than we realise in a sense deeper than we understand.
This is the question I would discuss. I find in practice everywhere in Ireland—it is worse out of Ireland—the doctrine, "The end justifies the means."
One party will denounce another for the use of discreditable tactics, but it will have no hesitation in using such itself if it can thereby snatch a discreditable victory. So, clear speaking is needed: a fight that is not clean-handed will make victory more disgraceful than any defeat. I make the point here because we stand for separation from the British Empire, and because I have heard it argued that we ought, if we could, make a foreign alliance to crush English power here, even if our foreign allies were engaged in crushing freedom elsewhere. When such a question can be proposed it should be answered, though the time is not ripe to test it. If Ireland were to win freedom by helping directly or indirectly to crush another people she would earn the execration she has herself poured out on tyranny for ages. I have come to see it is possible for Ireland to win her independence by base methods. It is imperative, therefore, that we should declare ourselves and know where we stand. And I stand by this principle: no physical victory can compensate for spiritual surrender. Whatever side denies that is not my side.
What, then, is the true basis to our claim to freedom? There are two points of view. The first we have when fresh from school, still in our teens, ready to tilt against everyone and everything, delighting in saying smart things—and able sometimes to say them—talking much and boldly of freedom, but satisfied if the thing sounds bravely. There is the later point of view. We are no longer boys; we have come to review the situation, and take a definite stand in life. We have had years of experience, keen struggles, not a little bitterness, and we are steadied. We feel a heart-beat for deeper things. It is no longer sufficient that they sound bravely; they must ring true. The schoolboy's dream is more of a Roman triumph—tramping armies, shouting multitudes, waving banners—all good enough in their way. But the dream of men is for something beyond all this show. If it were not, it could hardly claim a sacrifice.
A spiritual necessity makes the true significance of our claim to freedom: the material aspect is only a secondary consideration. A man facing life is gifted with certain powers of soul and body. It is of vital importance to himself and the community that he be given a full opportunity to develop his powers, and to fill his place worthily. In a free state he is in the natural environment for full self-development. In an enslaved state it is the reverse. When one country holds another in subjection that other suffers materially and morally. It suffers materially, being a prey for plunder. It suffers morally because of the corrupt influences the bigger nation sets at work to maintain its ascendancy. Because of this moral corruption national subjection should be resisted, as a state fostering vice; and as in the case of vice, when we understand it we have no option but to fight. With it we can make no terms. It is the duty of the rightful power to develop the best in its subjects: it is the practice of the usurping power to develop the basest. Our history affords many examples. When our rulers visit Ireland they bestow favours and titles on the supporters of their regime—but it is always seen that the greatest favours and highest titles are not for the honest adherent of their power—but for him who has betrayed the national cause that he entered public life to support. Observe the men who might be respected are passed over for him who ought to be despised. In the corrupt politician there was surely a better nature. A free state would have encouraged and developed it. The usurping state titled him for the use of his baser instincts. Such allurement must mean demoralisation. We are none of us angels, and under the best of circumstances find it hard to do worthy things; when all the temptation is to do unworthy things we are demoralised. Most of us, happily, will not give ourselves over to the evil influence, but we lose faith in the ideal. We are apathetic. We have powers and let them lie fallow. Our minds should be restless for noble and beautiful things; they are hopeless in a land everywhere confined and wasted. In the destruction of spirit entailed lies the deeper significance of our claim to freedom.
It is a spiritual appeal, then, that primarily moves us. We are urged to action by a beautiful ideal. The motive force must be likewise true and beautiful. It is love of country that inspires us; not hate of the enemy and desire for full satisfaction for the past. Pause awhile. We are all irritated now and then by some mawkish interpretation of our motive force that makes it seem a weakly thing, invoked to help us in evading difficulties instead of conquering them. Love in any genuine form is strong, vital and warm-blooded. Let it not be confused with any flabby substitute. Take a parallel case. Should we, because of the mawkishness of a "Princess Novelette," deride the beautiful dream that keeps ages wondering and joyous, that is occasionally caught up in the words of genius, as when Shelley sings: "I arise from dreams of thee"? When foolish people make a sacred thing seem silly, let us at least be sane. The man who cries out for the sacred thing but voices a universal need. To exist, the healthy mind must have beautiful things—the rapture of a song, the music of running water, the glory of the sunset and its dreams, and the deeper dreams of the dawn. It is nothing but love of country that rouses us to make our land full-blooded and beautiful where now she is pallid and wasted. This, too, has its deeper significance.
If we want full revenge for the past the best way to get it is to remain as we are. As we are, Ireland is a menace to England. We need not debate this—she herself admits it by her continued efforts to pacify us in her own stupid way. Would she not ignore us if it were quite safe so to do? On the other hand, if we succeed in our efforts to separate from her, the benefit to England will be second only to our own. This might strike us strangely, but 'tis true, not the less true because the English people could hardly understand or appreciate it now. The military defence of Ireland is almost farcical. A free Ireland could make it a reality—could make it strong against invasion. This would secure England from attack on our side. No one is, I take it, so foolish as to suppose, being free, we would enter quarrels not our own. We should remain neutral. Our common sense would so dictate, our sense of right would so demand. The freedom of a nation carries with it the responsibility that it be no menace to the freedom of another nation. The freedom of all makes for the security of all. If there are tyrannies on earth one nation cannot set things right, but it is still bound so to order its own affairs as to be consistent with universal freedom and friendship. And, again, strange as it may seem, separation from England will alone make for final friendship with England. For no one is so foolish as to wish to be for ever at war with England. It is unthinkable. Now the most beautiful motive for freedom is vindicated. Our liberty stands to benefit the enemy instead of injuring him. If we want to injure him, we should remain as we are—a menace to him. The opportunity will come, but it would hardly make us happy. This but makes clear a need of the human race. Freedom rightly considered is not a mere setting-up of a number of independent units. It makes for harmony among nations and good fellowship on earth.
I have written carefully that no one may escape the conclusion. It is clear and exacting, but in the issue it is beautiful. We fight for freedom—not for the vanity of the world, not to have a fine conceit of ourselves, not to be as bad—or if we prefer to put it so, as big as our neighbours. The inspiration is drawn from a deeper element of our being. We stifle for self-development individually and as a nation. If we don't go forward we must go down. It is a matter of life and death; it is out soul's salvation. If the whole nation stand for it, we are happy; we shall be grandly victorious. If only a few are faithful found they must be the more steadfast for being but a few. They stand for an individual right that is inalienable. A majority has no right to annul it, and no power to destroy it. Tyrannies may persecute, slay, or banish those who defend it; the thing is indestructible. It does not need legions to protect it nor genius to proclaim it, though the poets have always glorified it, and the legions will ultimately acknowledge it. One man alone may vindicate it, and because that one man has never failed it has never died. Not, indeed, that Ireland has ever been reduced to a single loyal son. She never will be. We have not survived the centuries to be conquered now. But the profound significance of the struggle, of its deep spiritual appeal, of the imperative need for a motive force as lofty and beautiful, of the consciousness that worthy winning of freedom is a labour for human brotherhood; the significance of it all is seen in the obligation it imposes on everyone to be true, the majority notwithstanding. He is called to a grave charge who is called to resist the majority. But he will resist, knowing his victory will lead them to a dearer dream than they had ever known. He will fight for that ideal in obscurity, little heeded—in the open, misunderstood; in humble places, still undaunted; in high places, seizing every vantage point, never crushed, never silent, never despairing, cheering a few comrades with hope for the morrow. And should these few sink in the struggle the greatness of the ideal is proven in the last hour; as they fall their country awakens to their dream, and he who inspired and sustained them is justified; justified against the whole race, he who once stood alone against them. In the hour he falls he is the saviour of his race.
When we plead for separation from the British Empire as the only basis on which our country can have full development, and on which we can have final peace with England, we find in opponents a variety of attitudes, but one attitude invariably absent—a readiness to discuss the question fairly and refute it, if this can be done. One man will take it superficially and heatedly, assuming it to be, according to his party, a censure on Mr. Redmond or Mr. O'Brien. Another will take it superficially, but, as he thinks, philosophically, and will dismiss it with a smile. With the followers of Mr. Redmond or Mr. O'Brien we can hardly argue at present, but we should not lose heart on their account, for these men move en masse. One day the consciousness of the country will be electrified with a great deed or a great sacrifice and the multitude will break from lethargy or prejudice and march with a shout for freedom in a true, a brave, and a beautiful sense. We must work and prepare for that hour. Then there is our philosophical friend. I expect him to hear my arguments. When I am done, he may not agree with me on all points; he may not agree with me on any point; but if he come with me, I promise him one thing: this question can no longer be dismissed with a smile.
Our friend's attitude is explained in part by our never having attempted to show that a separatist policy is great and wise. We have held it as a right, have fought for it, have made sacrifices for it, and vowed to have it at any cost; but we have not found for it a definite place in a philosophy of life. Superficial though he be, our friend has indicated a need: we must take the question philosophically—but in the great and true sense. It is a truism of philosophy and science that the world is a harmonious whole, and that with the increase of knowledge, laws can be discovered to explain the order and the unity of the universe. Accordingly, if we are to justify our own position as separatists, we must show that it will harmonise, unify and develop our national life, that it will restore us to a place among the nations, enable us to fulfil a national destiny, a destiny which, through all our struggles, we ever believe is great, and waiting for us. That must be accepted if we are to get at the truth of the matter. A great doctrine that dominates our lives, that lays down a rigid course of action, that involves self-denial, hard struggles, endurance for years, and possibly death before the goal is reached—any such doctrine must be capable of having its truth demonstrated by the discovery of principles that govern and justify it. Otherwise we cannot yield it our allegiance. Let us to the examination, then; we shall find it soul-stirring and inspiring. We must be prepared, however, to abandon many deeply-rooted prejudices; if we are unwilling, we must abandon the truth. But we will find courage in moving forward, and will triumph in the end, by keeping in mind at all times that the end of freedom is to realise the salvation and happiness of all peoples, to make the world, and not any selfish corner of it, a more beautiful dwelling-place for men.
Treated in this light, the question becomes for all earnest men great and arresting. Our friend, who may have smiled, will discuss it readily now. Yet he may not be convinced; he may point his finger over the wasted land and contrast its weakness with its opponents' strength, and conclude: "Your philosophy is beautiful, but only a dream." He is at least impressed; that is a point gained; and we may induce him to come further and further till he adopts the great principle we defend.
His difficulty now is the common error that a man's work for his country should be based on the assumption that it should bear full effect in his own time. This is most certainly false; for a man's life is counted by years, a nation's by centuries, and as work for the nation should be directed to bringing her to full maturity in the coming time, a man must be prepared to labour for an end that may be realised only in another generation. Consider how he disposes his plans for his individual life. His boyhood and youth are directed that his manhood and prime may be the golden age of life, full-blooded and strong-minded, with clear vision and great purpose and high hope, all justified by some definite achievement. A man's prime is great as his earlier years have been well directed and concentrated. In the early years the ground is prepared and the seed sown for the splendid period of full development. So it is with the nation: we must prepare the ground and sow the seed for the rich ripeness of maturity; and bearing in mind that the maturity of the nation will come, not in one generation but after many generations, we must be prepared to work in the knowledge that we prepare for a future that only other generations will enjoy. It does not mean that we shall work in loneliness, cheered by no vision of the Promised Land; we may even reach the Promised Land in our time, though we cannot explore all its great wonders: that will be the delight of ages. But some will never survive to celebrate the great victory that will establish our independence; yet they shall not go without reward; for to them will come a vision of soul of the future triumph, an exaltation of soul in the consciousness of labouring for that future, an exultation of soul in the knowledge that once its purpose is grasped, no tyranny can destroy it, that the destiny of our country is assured, and her dominion will endure for ever. Let any argument be raised against one such pioneer—he knows this in his heart, and it makes him indomitable, and it is he who is proven to be wise in the end. He judges the past clearly, and through the crust of things he discerns the truth in his own time, and puts his work in true relation to the great experience of life, and he is justified; for ultimately his work opens out, matures, and bears fruit a hundredfold. It may not be in a day, but when his hand falls dead, his glory becomes quickly manifest. He has lived a beautiful life, and has left a beautiful field; he has sacrificed the hour to give service for all time; he has entered the company of the great, and with them he will be remembered for ever. He is the practical man in the true sense. But there is the other self-styled practical man, who thinks all this proceeding foolish, and cries out for the expedient of the hour. Has he ever realised the promise of his proposals? No, he is the most inefficient person who has ever walked the earth. But for a saving consideration let him go contemplate the wasted efforts of the opportunist in every generation, and the broken projects scattered through the desert-places of history.
Still one will look out on the grim things of the hour, and hypnotised by the hour will cry: "See the strength of the British Empire, see our wasted state; your hope is vain." Let him consider this clear truth: peoples endure; empires perish. Where are now the empires of antiquity? And the empires of to-day have the seed of dissolution in them. But the peoples that saw the old empires rise and hold sway are represented now in their posterity; the tyrannies they knew are dead and done with. The peoples endured; the empires perished; and the nations of the earth of this day will survive in posterity when the empires that now contend for mastery are gathered into the dust, with all dead, bad things. We shall endure; and the measure of our faith will be the measure of our achievement and of the greatness of our future place.
Is it not the dream of earnest men of all parties to have an end to our long war, a peace final and honourable, wherein the soul of the country can rest, revive and express itself; wherein poetry, music and art will pour out in uninterrupted joy, the joy of deliverance, flashing in splendour and superabundant in volume, evidence of long suppression? This is the dream of us all. But who can hope for this final peace while any part of our independence is denied? For, while we are connected in any shape with the British Empire the connection implies some dependence; this cannot be gainsaid; and who is so foolish as to expect that there will be no collision with the British Parliament, while there is this connection implying dependence on the British Empire? If such a one exists he goes against all experience and all history. On either side of the connection will be two interests—the English interest and the Irish interest, and they will be always at variance. Consider how parties within a single state are at variance, Conservatives and Radicals, in any country in Europe. The proposals of one are always insidious, dangerous or reactionary, as the case may be, in the eyes of the other; and in no case will the parties agree; they will at times even charge each other with treachery; there is never peace. It is the rule of party war. Who, then, can hope for peace where into the strife is imported a race difference, where the division is not of party but of people? That is in truth the vain hope. And be it borne in mind the race difference is not due to our predominating Gaelic stock, but to the separate countries and to distinct households in the human race. If we were all of English extraction the difference would still exist. There is the historic case of the American States; it is easy to understand. When a man's children come of age, they set up establishments for themselves, and live independently; they are always bound by affection to the parent-home; but if the father try to interfere in the house of a son, and govern it in any detail, there will be strife. It is hardly necessary to labour the point. If all the people in this country were of English extraction and England were to claim on that account that there should be a connection with her, and that it should dominate the people here, there would be strife; and it could have but one end—separation. We would, of whatever extraction, have lived in natural neighbourliness with England, but she chose to trap and harass us, and it will take long generations of goodwill to wipe out some memories. Again, and yet again, let there be no confusion of thought as to this final peace; it will never come while there is any formal link of dependence. The spirit of our manhood will always flame up to resent and resist that link. Separation and equality may restore ties of friendship; nothing else can: for individual development and general goodwill is the lesson of human life. We can be good neighbours, but most dangerous enemies, and in the coming time our hereditary foe cannot afford to have us on her flank. The present is promising; the future is developing for us: we shall reach the goal. Let us see to it that we shall be found worthy.
That we be found worthy; let this be borne in mind. For it is true that here only is our great danger. If with our freedom to win, our country to open up, our future to develop, we learn no lesson from the mistakes of nations and live no better life than the great Powers, we shall have missed a golden opportunity, and shall be one of the failures of history. So far, on superficial judgment, we have been accounted a failure; though the simple maintenance of our fight for centuries has been in itself a splendid triumph. But then only would we have failed in the great sense, when we had got our field and wasted it, as the nations around us waste theirs to-day. We led Europe once; let us lead again with a beautiful realisation of freedom; and let us beware of the delusion that is abroad, that we seek nothing more than to be free of restraint, as England, France and Germany are to-day; let us beware of the delusion that if we can scramble through anyhow to freedom we can then begin to live worthily, but that in the interval we cannot be too particular. That is the grim shadow that darkens our path, that falls between us and a beautiful human life, and may drive us to that tiger-like existence that makes havoc through the world to-day. Let us beware. I do not say we must settle now all disputes, such as capital, labour, and others, but that everyone should realise a duty to be high-minded and honourable in action; to regard his fellow not as a man to be circumvented, but as a brother to be sympathised with and uplifted. Neither kingdom, republic, nor commune can regenerate us; it is in the beautiful mind and a great ideal we shall find the charter of our freedom; and this is the philosophy that it is most essential to preach. We must not ignore it now, for how we work to-day will decide how we shall live to-morrow; and if we are not scrupulous in our struggle, we shall not be pure in our future state, I know there are many who are not indifferent to high-minded action, but who live in dread of an exacting code of life, fearing it will harass our movements and make success impossible. Let us correct this mistake with the reflection that the time is shaping for us. The power of our country is strengthening; the grip of the enemy is slackening; every extension of local government is a step nearer to independent government; the people are not satisfied with an instalment; their capacity for further power is developed, and they are equipped with weapons to win it. Even in our time have we made great advance. Let one fact alone make this evident. Less than twenty years ago the Irish language was despised; to-day the movement to restore it is strong enough to have it made compulsory in the National University. Can anyone doubt from this sign of the times alone that the hour points to freedom, and we are on the road to victory? That we shall win our freedom I have no doubt; that we shall use it well I am not so certain, for see how sadly misused it is abroad through the world to-day. That should be our final consideration, and we should make this a resolution—our future history shall be more glorious than that of any contemporary state. We shall look for prosperity, no doubt, but let our enthusiasm be for beautiful living; we shall build up our strength, yet not for conquest, but as a pledge of brotherhood and a defence for the weaker ones of the earth; we shall take pride in our institutions, not only as guaranteeing the stability of the state, but as securing the happiness of the citizens, and we shall lead Europe again as we led it of old. We shall rouse the world from a wicked dream of material greed, of tyrannical power, of corrupt and callous politics to the wonder of a regenerated spirit, a new and beautiful dream; and we shall establish our state in a true freedom that will endure for ever.
One of the great difficulties in discussing any question of importance in Ireland is that words have been twisted from their original and true significance, and if we are to have any effective discussion, we must first make clear the meaning of our terms. Love of country is quoted to tolerate every insidious error of weakness, but if it has any meaning it should make men strong-souled and resolute in every crisis. Men working for the extension of Local Government toast "Ireland a Nation," and extol Home Rule as independence; but while there is any restraint on us by a neighbouring Power, acknowledged superior, there is dependence to that extent. Straightway, those who fight for independence shift their ground and plead for absolute independence, but there is no such thing as qualified independence; and when we abandon the simple name to men of half-measures, we prejudice our cause and confuse the issue. Then there is the irreconcilable—how is he regarded in the common cry? Always an impossible, wild, foolish person, and we frequently resent the name and try to explain his reasonableness instead of exulting in his strength, for the true irreconcilable is the simple lover of the truth. Among men fighting for freedom some start up in their plea for liberty, pointing to the prosperity of England, France, and Germany, and when we debate the means by which they won their power, we find our friends draw no distinction between true freedom and licentious living; but it would be better to be crushed under the wheels of great Powers than to prosper by their example. And so, through every discussion we must make clear the meaning of our terms. There is one I would treat particularly now. Of all the terms glibly flung about in every debate not one has been so confused as Moral Force.
Since the time of O'Connell the cry Moral Force has been used persistently to cover up the weakness of every politician who was afraid or unwilling to fight for the whole rights of his country, and confusion has been the consequence. I am not going here to raise old debates over O'Connell's memory, who, when all is said, was a great man and a patriot. Let those of us who read with burning eyes of the shameless fiasco of Clontarf recall for full judgment the O'Connell of earlier years, when his unwearied heart was fighting the uphill fight of the pioneer. But a great need now is to challenge his later influence, which is overshadowing us to our undoing. For we find men of this time who lack moral courage fighting in the name of moral force, while those who are pre-eminent as men of moral fibre are dismissed with a smile—physical-force men. To make clear the confusion we need only to distinguish moral force from moral weakness. There is the distinction. Call it what we will, moral courage, moral strength, moral force; we all recognise that great virtue of mind and heart that keeps a man unconquerable above every power of brute strength. I call it moral force, which is a good name, and I make the definition: a man of moral force is he who, seeing a thing to be right and essential and claiming his allegiance, stands for it as for the truth, unheeding any consequence. It is not that he is a wild person, utterly reckless of all mad possibilities, filled with a madder hope, and indifferent to any havoc that may ensue. No, but it is a first principle of his, that a true thing is a good thing, and from a good thing rightly pursued can follow no bad consequence. And he faces every possible development with conscience at rest—it may be with trepidation for his own courage in some great ordeal, but for the nobility of the cause and the beauty of the result that must ensue, always with serene faith. And soon the trepidation for himself passes, for a great cause always makes great men, and many who set out in hesitation die heroes. This it is that explains the strange and wonderful buoyancy of men, standing for great ideals, so little understood of others of weaker mould. The soldier of freedom knows he is forward in the battle of Truth, he knows his victory will make for a world beautiful, that if he must inflict or endure pain, it is for the regeneration of those who suffer, the emancipation of those in chains, the exaltation of those who die, and the security and happiness of generations yet unborn. For the strength that will support a man through every phase of this struggle a strong and courageous mind is the primary need—in a word, Moral Force. A man who will be brave only if tramping with a legion will fail in courage if called to stand in the breach alone. And it must be clear to all that till Ireland can again summon her banded armies there will be abundant need for men who will stand the single test. 'Tis the bravest test, the noblest test, and 'tis the test that offers the surest and greatest victory. For one armed man cannot resist a multitude, nor one army conquer countless legions; but not all the armies of all the Empires of earth can crush the spirit of one true man. And that one man will prevail.
But so much have we felt the need of resisting every slavish tendency that found refuge under the name of Moral Force, that those of us who would vindicate our manhood cried wildly out again for the physical test; and we cried it long and repeatedly the more we smarted under the meanness of retrograde times. But the time is again inspiring, and the air must now be cleared. We have set up for the final test of the man of unconquerable spirit that test which is the first and last argument of tyranny—recourse to brute strength. We have surrounded with fictitious glory the carnage of the battlefields; we have shouted of wading through our enemies' blood, as if bloody fields were beautiful; we have been contemptuous of peace, as if every war were exhilarating; but, "War is hell," said a famous general in the field. This, of course, is exaggeration, but there is a grim element of truth in the warning that must be kept in mind at all times. If one among us still would resent being asked to forego what he thinks a rightful need of vengeance, let him look into himself. Let him consider his feelings on the death of some notorious traitor or criminal; not satisfaction, but awe, is the uppermost feeling in his heart. Death sobers us all. But away from death this may be unconvincing; and one may still shout of the glory of floating the ship of freedom in the blood of the enemy. I give him pause. He may still correct his philosophy in view of the horror of a street accident or the brutality of a prize-fight.
But war must be faced and blood must be shed, not gleefully, but as a terrible necessity, because there are moral horrors worse than any physical horror, because freedom is indispensable for a soul erect, and freedom must be had at any cost of suffering; the soul is greater than the body. This is the justification of war. If hesitating to undertake it means the overthrow of liberty possessed, or the lying passive in slavery already accomplished, then it is the duty of every man to fight if he is standing, or revolt if he is down. And he must make no peace till freedom is assured, for the moral plague that eats up a people whose independence is lost is more calamitous than any physical rending of limb from limb. The body is a passing phase; the spirit is immortal; and the degradation of that immortal part of man is the great tragedy of life. Consider all the mean things and debasing tendencies that wither up a people in a state of slavery. There are the bribes of those in power to maintain their ascendancy, the barter of every principle by time-servers; the corruption of public life and the apathy of private life; the hard struggle of those of high ideals, the conflict with all ignoble practices, the wearing down of patience, and in the end the quiet abandoning of the flag once bravely flourished; then the increased numbers of the apathetic and the general gloom, depression, and despair—everywhere a land decaying. Viciousness, meanness, cowardice, intolerance, every bad thing arises like a weed in the night and blights the land where freedom is dead; and the aspect of that land and the soul of that people become spectacles of disgust, revolting and terrible, terrible for the high things degraded and the great destinies imperilled. It would be less terrible if an earthquake split the land in two, and sank it into the ocean. To avert the moral plague of slavery men fly to arms, notwithstanding the physical consequence, and those who set more count by the physical consequences cannot by that avert them, for the moral disease is followed by physical wreck—if delayed still inevitable. So, physical force is justified, not per se, but as an expression of moral force; where it is unsupported by the higher principle it is evil incarnate. The true antithesis is not between moral force and physical force, but between moral force and moral weakness. That is the fundamental distinction being ignored on all sides. When the time demands and the occasion offers, it is imperative to have recourse to arms, but in that terrible crisis we must preserve our balance. If we leap forward for our enemies' blood, glorifying brute force, we set up the standard of the tyrant and heap up infamy for ourselves; on the other hand, if we hesitate to take the stern action demanded, we fail in strength of soul, and let slip the dogs of war to every extreme of weakness and wildness, to create depravity and horror that will ultimately destroy us. A true soldier of freedom will not hesitate to strike vigorously and strike home, knowing that on his resolution will depend the restoration and defence of liberty. But he will always remember that restraint is the great attribute that separates man from beast, that retaliation is the vicious resource of the tyrant and the slave; that magnanimity is the splendour of manhood; and he will remember that he strikes not at his enemy's life, but at his misdeed, that in destroying the misdeed, he makes not only for his own freedom, but even for his enemy's regeneration. This may be for most of us perhaps too great a dream. But for him who reads into the heart of the question and for the true shaping of his course it will stand; he will never forget, even in the thickest fight, that the enemy of to-day and yesterday may be the genuine comrade of to-morrow.
If it is imperative that we should fix unalterably our guiding principles before we are plunged unprepared into the fight, it is even more urgent we should clear the mind to the truth now, for we have fallen into the dangerous habit of deferring important questions on the plea that the time is not ripe. In a word, we lack moral strength; and so, that virtue that is to safeguard us in time of war is the great virtue that will redeem us in time of servility. It need not be further laboured that in a state enslaved every mean thing flourishes. The admission of it makes clear that in such a state it is more important that every evil be resisted. In a normal condition of liberty many temporary evils may arise; yet they are not dangerous—in the glow of a people's freedom they waste and die as disease dies in the sunlight. But where independence is suppressed and a people degenerate, a little evil is in an atmosphere to grow, and it grows and expands; and evils multiply and destroy. That is why men of high spirit working to regenerate a fallen people must be more insistent to watch every little defect and weak tendency that in a braver time would leave the soul unruffled. That is why every difficulty, once it becomes evident, is ripe for settlement. To evade the issue is to invite disaster. Resolution alone will save us in our many dangers. But a plea for policy will be raised to evade a particular and urgent question: "People won't unite on it"; that's one cry. "Ignorant people will be led astray"; that's another cry. There is always some excuse ready for evasion. The difficulty is, that every party likes some part of the truth; no party likes it all; but we must have it all, every line of it. We want no popular editions and no philosophic selections—the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This must be the rule for everything concerning which a man has a public duty and ought to have a public opinion. There is a dangerous tendency gaining ground of slurring over vital things because the settlement of them involves great difficulty, and may involve great danger; but whatever the issue is we must face it. It is a step forward to bring men together on points of agreement, but men come thus together not without a certain amount of suspicion. In a fight for freedom that latent suspicion would become a mastering fear to seize and destroy us. We must allay it now. We must lead men to discuss points of difference with respect, forbearance, and courage, to find a consistent way of life for all that will inspire confidence in all. At present we inspire confidence in no one; it would be fatal to hide the fact. This is a necessary step to bringing matters to a head. We cannot hope to succeed all at once, but we must keep the great aim in view. There will be objections on all sides; from the blase man of the world, concerned only for his comfort, the mean man of business concerned only for his profits, the man of policy always looking for a middle way, a certain type of religious pessimist who always spies danger in every proposal, and many others. We need not consider the comfort of the first nor the selfishness of the second; but the third and fourth require a word. The man of policy offers me his judgment instead of a clear consideration of the truth. 'Tis he who says: "You and I can discuss certain things privately. We are educated; we understand. Ignorant people can't understand, and you only make mischief in supposing it. It's not wise." To him I reply: "You are afraid to speak the whole truth; I am afraid to hide it. You are filled with the danger to ignorant people of having out everything; I am filled with the danger to you of suppressing anything. I do not propose to you that you can with the whole truth make ignorant people profound, but I say you must have the whole truth out for your own salvation." Here is the danger: we see life within certain limitations, and cannot see the possibly infinite significance of something we would put by. It is of grave importance that we see it rightly, and in the difficulties of the case our only safe course is to take the evidence life offers without prejudice and without fear, and write it down. When the matter is grave, let it be taken with all the mature deliberation and care its gravity demands, but once the evidence is clearly seen, let us for our salvation write it down. For any man to set his petty judgment above the need for setting down the truth is madness; and I refuse to do it. There is our religious pessimist to consider. To him I say I take religion more seriously. I take it not to evade the problems of life, but to solve them. When I tell him to have no fear, this is not my indifference to the issue, but a tribute to the faith that is in me. Let us be careful to do the right thing; then fear is inconsistent with faith. Nor can I understand the other attitude. Two thousand years after the preaching of the Sermon on the Mount we are to go about whispering to one another what is wise.
To conclude: Now, and in every phase of the coming struggle, the strong mind is a greater need than the strong hand. We must be passionate, but the mind must guide and govern our passion. In the aberrations of the weak mind decrying resistance, let us not lose our balance and defy brute strength. At a later stage we must consider the ethics of resistance to the Civil Power; the significance of what is written now will be more apparent then. Let the cultivation of a brave, high spirit be our great task; it will make of each man's soul an unassailable fortress. Armies may fail, but it resists for ever. The body it informs may be crushed; the spirit in passing breathes on other souls, and other hearts are fired to action, and the fight goes on to victory. To the man whose mind is true and resolute ultimate victory is assured. No sophistry can sap his resistance; no weakness can tempt him to savage reprisals. He will neither abandon his heritage nor poison his nature. And in every crisis he is steadfast, in every issue justified. Rejoice, then good comrades; our souls are still our own. Through the coldness and depression of the time there has lightened a flash of the old fire; the old enthusiasm, warm and passionate, is again stirring us; we are forward to uphold our country's right, to fight for her liberty, and to justify our own generation. We shall conquer. Let the enemy count his dreadnoughts and number off his legions—where are now the legions of Rome and Carthage? And the Spirit of Freedom they challenged is alive and animating the young nations to-day. Hold we our heads high, then, and we shall bear our flag bravely through every fight. Persistent, consistent, straightforward and fearless, so shall we discipline the soul to great deeds, and make it indomitable. In the indomitable soul lies the assurance of our ultimate victory.
BROTHERS AND ENEMIES
Our enemies are brothers from whom we are estranged. Here is the fundamental truth that explains and justifies our hope of re-establishing a real patriotism among all parties in Ireland, and a final peace with our ancient enemy of England. It is the view of prejudice that makes of the various sections of our people hopelessly hostile divisions, and raises up a barrier of hate between Ireland and England that can never be surmounted. If Ireland is to be regenerated, we must have internal unity; if the world is to be regenerated, we must have world-wide unity—not of government, but of brotherhood. To this great end every individual, every nation has a duty; and that the end may not be missed we must continually turn for the correction of our philosophy to reflecting on the common origin of the human race, on the beauty of the world that is the heritage of all, our common hopes and fears, and in the greatest sense the mutual interests of the peoples of the earth. If, unheeding this, any people make their part of the earth ugly with acts of tyranny and baseness, they threaten the security of all; if unconscious of it, a people always high-spirited are plunged into war with a neighbour, now a foe, and yet fight, as their nature compels them, bravely and magnanimously, they but drive their enemy back to the field of a purer life, and, perhaps, to the realisation of a more beautiful existence, a dream to which his stagnant soul steeped in ugliness could never rise.
On the road to freedom every alliance will be sternly tried. Internal friendship will not be made in a day, nor external friendship for many a day, and there will be how many temptations to hold it all a delusion and scatter the few still standing loyally to the flag. We must understand, then, the bond that holds us together on the line of march, and in the teeth of every opposition. Nothing but a genuine bond of brotherhood can so unite men, but we hardly seem to realise its truth. When a deep and ardent patriotism requires men of different creeds to come together frankly and in a spirit of comradeship, and when the most earnest of all the creeds do so, others who are colder and less earnest regard this union as a somewhat suspicious alliance; and, if they join in, do so reluctantly. Others come not at all; these think our friends labour in a delusion, that it needs but an occasion to start an old fear and drive them apart, to attack one another with ancient bitterness fired with fresh venom. We must combat that idea. Let us consider the attitude to one another of three units of the band, who represent the best of the company and should be typical of the whole; one who is a Catholic, one who is a Protestant, and one who may happen to be neither. The complete philosophy of any one of the three may not be accepted by the other two; the horizon of his hopes may be more or less distant, but that complete philosophy stretches beyond the limit of the sphere, within which they are drawn together to mutual understanding and comradeship, moved by a common hope, a brave purpose and a beautiful dream. The significance of their work may be deeper for one than for another, the origin of the dream and its ultimate aim may be points not held in common; but the beautiful tangible thing that they all now fight for, the purer public and private life, the more honourable dealings between men, the higher ideals for the community and the nation, the grander forbearance, courage and freedom, in all these they are at one. The instinctive recognition of an attack on the ideal is alive and vigilant in all three. The sympathy that binds them is ardent, deep and enduring. Observe them come together. Note the warm hand grasp, the drawn face of one, a hard-worker; of another, the eye anxious for a brother hard pressed; of the third, the eye glistening for the ideal triumphant; of all the intimate confidence, the mutual encouragement and self-sacrifice, never a note of despair, but always the exultation of the Great Fight, and the promise of a great victory. This is a finer company than a mere casual alliance; yet it makes the uninspired pause, wondering and questioning. These men are earnest men of different creeds; still they are as intimately bound to one another as if they knelt at the one altar. In the narrow view the creeds should be at one another's throats; here they are marching shoulder to shoulder. How is this? And the one whose creed is the most exacting could, perhaps, give the best reply. He would reply that within the sphere in which they work together the true thing that unites them can be done only the one right way; that instinctively seizing this right way they come together; that this is the line of advance to wider and deeper things that are his inspiration and his life; that if a comrade is roused to action by the nearer task, and labours bravely and rightly for it, he is on the road to widening vistas in his dream that now he may not see. That is what he would say whose vision of life is the widest. All objectors he may not satisfy. That what is life to him may leave his comrade cold is a difficulty; but against the difficulty stand the depth and reality of their comradeship, proven by mutual sacrifice, endurance, and faith, and he never doubts that their bond union will sometime prove to have a wise and beautiful meaning in the Annals of God.
But the men of different creeds who stand firmly and loyally together are a minority. We are faced with the great difficulty of uniting as a whole North and South; and we are faced with the grim fact that many whom we desire to unite are angrily repudiating a like desire, that many are sarcastically noting this, that many are coldly refusing to believe; while through it all the most bitter are emphasising enmity and glorifying it. All these unbelievers keep insisting North and South are natural enemies and must so remain. The situation is further embittered by acts of enmity being practised by both sides to the extreme provocation of the faithful few. Their forbearance will be sorely tried, and this is the final test of men. By those who cling to prejudice and abandon self-restraint, extol enmity, and always proceed to the further step—the plea to wipe the enemy out: the counter plea for forbearance is always scorned as the enervating gospel of weakness and despair. Though we like to call ourselves Christian, we have no desire for—nay even make a jest of—that outstanding Christian virtue; yet men not held by Christian dogma have joyously surrendered to the sublimity of that divine idea. Hear Shelley speak: "What nation has the example of the desolation of Attica by Mardonius and Xerxes, or the extinction of the Persian Empire by Alexander of Macedon restrained from outrage? Was not the pretext for this latter system of spoliation derived immediately from the former? Had revenge in this instance any other effect than to increase, instead of diminishing, the mass of malice and evil already existing in the world? The emptiness and folly of retaliation are apparent from every example which can be brought forward." Shelley writes much further on retaliation, which he denounces as "futile superstition." Simple violence repels every high and generous thinker. Hear one other, Mazzini: "What we have to do is not to establish a new order of things by violence. An order of things so established is always tyrannical even when it is better than the old." Let us bear this in mind when there is an act of aggression on either side of the Boyne. There will not be wanting on the other side a cry for retaliation and "a lesson." We shall receive every provocation to give up and acknowledge ancient bitterness, but then is the time to stand firm, then we shall need to practise the divine forbearance that is the secret of strength.
But with only a minority standing to the flag we cry out for some hope of final success. Men will not fight without result for ever; they ask for some sign of progress, some gleam of the light of victory. Happily, searching the skies, our eyes can have their reward. We shall, no doubt, see, outstanding, dark evidence of old animosity; we shall hear fierce war-cries and see raging crowds, but the crowds are less numerous, and the wrath has lost its sting. Men who raged twenty years ago rage now, but their fury is less real; and young men growing up around them, quite indifferent to the ideal, are also indifferent to the counter cries: they are passive, unimpressed by either side. Rightly approached, they may understand and feel the glow of a fine enthusiasm; they are numbered by prejudice, they will become warm, active and daring under an inspiring appeal. Remember, and have done with despair. Think how you and I found our path step by step of the way: political life was full of conventions that suited our fathers' time, but have faded in the light of our day. We found these conventions unreal and put them by. This was no reflection on our fathers; what they fought for truly is our heritage, and we pay them a tribute in offering it in turn our loyalty inspired by their devotion. But their errors we must rectify; what they left undone we must take up and fulfil. That is the task of every generation, to take up the uncompleted work of the former one, and hand on to their successors an achievement and a heritage. Youth recognises this instinctively, and every generation will take a step in advance of its predecessor, putting by its prejudices and developing its truth. Every individual may know this from his own experience, and from it he knows that those who are now voicing old bitter cries are ageing, and will soon pass and leave no successors. Not that prejudice will die for ever. Each new day will have its own, but that which is now dividing and hampering us will pass. Let the memory of its bitterness be an incentive to checking new animosities and keeping the future safe; but in the present let us grasp and keep in our mind that the barrier that sundered our nation must crumble, if only we have faith and persist, undeterred by old bitter cries, for they are dying cries, undepressed by millions apathetic, for it is the great recurring sign of the ideal, that one hour its light will flash through quivering multitudes, and millions will have vision and rouse to regenerate the land.
Happily, it is nothing new to plead for brotherhood among Irishmen now; unhappily, it is not so generally admitted, nor even recognised, that the same reason that exists for restoring friendly relations among Irishmen, exists for the re-establishing of friendship with any outsider—England or another—with whom now or in the future we may be at war. Friendliness between neighbours is one of the natural things of life. In the case of individuals how beautifully it shows between two dwellers in the same street or townland. They rejoice together in prosperity; give mutual aid in adversity; in the ordinary daily round work together in a spirit of comradeship; at all times they find a bond of unity in their mutual interests. Consider, then, the sundering of their friendship by some act of evil on either side. The old friendship is turned to hate. Now the proximity that gave intimate pleasure to their comradeship gives as keen an edge to their enmity; they meet one another, cross one another, harass one another at every point. The bitterness that is such a poison to life must be revolting to their best instincts; deep in their hearts must be a yearning for the casting out of hate and the return of old comradeship. Still the estranged brothers are at daggers drawn. Sometimes the evil done is so great and the bitterness so keen that the old spirit can apparently never be restored; but while there is any hope whatever the true heart will keep it alive deep down, for it must be cherished and kept in mind if the whole beauty of life is to be renewed and preserved for ever. It is so with nations as with individuals. Once this is recognised we must be on guard against a new error, which is an old error in new form, the taking of means for end. The end of general peace is to give all nations freedom in essentials, to realise the deeper purpose, possibilities, fulness and beauty of life; it is not to have a peace at any price, peace with a certain surrender, the meaner peace that is akin to slavery. No, its message is to guard one nation from excess that has plunged another into evil, to leave the way open to a final peace, not base but honourable; it is to preserve the divine balance of the soul. It may be further urged that we are engaged in a great fight; that to try to rouse in men the more generous instincts will but weaken their hands by removing a certain driving bitterness that gives strength to their fight. Whatever it removes it will not be their strength. In a war admittedly between brothers, a civil war, where different conceptions of duty force men asunder, father is up against son, and brother against brother; yet they are not weakened in their contest by ties of blood and the deeper-lying harmony of things that in happier times prevail to the exclusion of bitterness and hate. When, therefore, you teach a man his enemy is in a deep sense his brother, you do not draw him from the fight, but you give him a new conception of the goal to win and with a great dream inspire him to persevere and reach the goal.
If, then, beyond individual and national freedom there is this great dream still to be striven for, let us not decry it as something too sublime for earth. It must be our guiding star to lead us rightly as far as we may go. We can travel rightly that part of the road we now tread on only by shaping it true to the great end that ought to inspire us all. We shall have many temptations to swerve aside, but the power of mind that keeps our position clear and firm will react against every destroying influence. In the first stage of the fight for internal unity, when blind bigotry is furiously insisting that we but plan an insidious scheme for the oppression of a minority, our firmness will save us till our conception of the end grow on that minority and convince all of our earnestness. Then the dream will inspire them, the flag will claim them, and the first stage in the fight will be won. When internal unity is accomplished, we are within reach of freedom. Yes, but cries an objector, "Why plead for friendship with England, who will have peace only on condition of her supremacy?" And an answer is needed. If it takes two to make a fight, it also most certainly takes two to make a peace, unless one accepts the position of serf and surrenders. But this we do not fear; we can compel our freedom and we are confident of victory. There is still the step to friendship. Many will be baffled by the difficulty, that while we must keep alive our generous instincts, we must be stern and resolute in the fight; while we desire peace we must prosecute war; while we long for comradeship we must be breaking up dangerous alliances: literary, political, trades and social unions formed with England while she is asserting her supremacy must be broken up till they can be reformed on a basis of independence, equality and universal freedom. While we are prosecuting these vigorous measures it may not seem the way to final friendship; but we must persist; independence is first indispensable. Here again, however, while insisting among our own ranks on our conception of the end, it will grow on the mind of the enemy. They may put it by at first as a delusion or a snare, but one intimate moment will come when it will light up for them, and a new era is begun. In such a moment is evil abandoned, hate buried and friendship reborn. There is one honest fear that our independence would threaten their security: it will yet be replaced by the conviction that there is a surer safeguard in our freedom than in our suppression; the light will break through the clouds of suspicion and a star of stars will glorify the earth. For this end our enemy must have an ideal as high as our own; if thus an objector, he is right. But if in the gross materialism and greed of empire that is now the ruling passion with the enemy there is apparently little hope of a transformation that will make them spiritual, high-minded and generous, we must not abandon our ideal: while the meanness and tyranny of contemporary England stand forward against our argument and leave our reasoning cold, we can find a more subtle appeal in spirit, such an appeal as comes to us in a play of Shakespeare's, a song of Shelley's, or a picture of Turner's. From the heart of the enemy Genius cries, bearing witness to our common humanity, and the yearning for such high comradeship is alive, and the dream survives to light us on the forward path. We must travel that path rightly. We can so travel whatever the enemy's mind. More difficult it will be, but it can be done. That is the great significance and justification of Nationalism: it is the unanswerable argument to cosmopolitanism. If the greatness and beauty of life that ought to be the dream of all nations is denied by all but one, that one may keep alive the dream within her own frontier till its fascination will arrest and inspire the world. If this ultimate dream is still floating far off, in its pursuit there is for us achievement on achievement, and each brave thing done is in itself a beauty and a joy for ever. For the good fighter there is always fine recompense; a clear mind, warm blood, quick imagination, grasp of life and joy in action, and at the end of day always an eminence won. Yes, and from the height of that eminence will come ringing down to the last doubter a last word: we may reach the mountaintops in aspiring to the stars.
THE SECRET OF STRENGTH
To win our freedom we must be strong. But what is the secret of strength? It is fundamental to the whole question to understand this rightly, and, once grasped, make it the mainstay of individual existence, which is the foundation of national life. So much has the bodily power of over-riding minorities been made the criterion of absolute power, that to make clear the truth requires patience, insight, and a little mental study. But the end is a great end. It is to reconnoitre the most important battlefield, to discover the dispositions of the enemy, to measure our own resources and forge our strength link by link till we put on the armour of invincibility.
We have to grasp a distinction, knowledge of which is essential to discerning true strength. It can be clearly seen in the contrast between two certain fighting forces; first, a well-organised army, capably led, marching forward full of hope and buoyancy; second, a remnant of that army after disaster, a mere handful, not swept like their comrades in panic, but with souls set to fight a forlorn hope. Let us study the two: in the contrast we shall learn the secret. The courage of the well-organised army is not of so fine a quality as that nerving the few to fight to the last gasp. Consider first the army. What is its value as a force? Its discipline, its consolidation, the absolute obedience of its units to its officers, with the resulting unity of the whole; added to this is the sense of security in numbers, buoyancy of marching in a compact body, confidence in capable chiefs—all these factors go to the making of the courage and strength of the army. It is because their combination makes for the reliability of the force that discipline is so much valued and enforced, even to the point of death. Let us keep this in our mind, that their strength lies in their numbers, concentration, unity, reliance on one another and on their chiefs. A sudden disaster overtakes that army—the death of a great general, the miscarriage of some plan, a surprise attack, any of the chances of war, and the strength of the army is pierced, the discipline shaken, the sense of security gone. There is an instinctive movement to retreat; the habit of discipline keeps it orderly at first; the fear grows; all precaution and restraint are thrown aside—the retreat is a rout, the army a rabble, the end debacle. External discipline in giving them its strength left them without individual resource; internal discipline was ignored. When their combined strength was gone there was individual helplessness and panic. Consider, now, a remnant of that army, the members of which have the courage of the finer quality, individually resolute and set on resistance, clearly seeing at once all the possible consequences of their action, yet with that higher quality of soul accepting them without hesitation, pledging all human hopes for one last great hope of snatching victory from defeat, or, if not to save a lost battle, to check an advancing host, rally flying forces, and redeem a campaign. This is the heroic quality. In a crisis, the mind possessed of it does not wait for instructions or to reason a conclusion. It sees definite things, and swift as thought decides. There are flying legions, a flag down, a conquering army, and flight or death—to all eyes these are apparent; but to a brave company between that flight and death there is a gleam of hope, of victory, and for that forlorn hope flight is put by with the acceptance of death in the alternative if they fail. That is the quality to redeem us. Because it is witnessed so often in our history we are going to win; not for our prowess in more fortunate war on an even field or with the flowing tide, not for many victories in many lands, but for the sacred places in this our brave land that are memorable for fights that registered the land unconquerable. Why a last stand and a sacrifice are more inspiring than a great victory is one of the hidden things; but the truth stands: for thinking of them our spirits re-kindle, our courage re-awakens, and we stiffen our backs for another battle.
We have, then, to develop individual patience, courage, and resolution. Once this is borne in mind our work begins. In places there is a dangerous idea that sometime in the future we may be called on to strike a blow for freedom, but in the meantime there is little to do but watch and wait. This is a fatal error; we have to forge our strength in the interval. There is a further mistake that our national work is something apart, that social, business, religious and other concerns have no relation to it, and consequently we set apart a few hours of our leisure for national work, and go about our day as if no nation existed. But the middle of the day has a natural connection with the beginning of the day and the end of the day, and in whatever sphere a man finds himself, his acts must be in relation to and consistent with every other sphere. He will be the best patriot and the best soldier who is the best friend and the best citizen. One cannot be an honest man in one sphere and a rascal in another; and since a citizen to fulfil his duty to his country must be honourable and zealous, he must develop the underlying virtues in private life. He must strengthen the individual character, and to do this he must deal with many things seemingly remote and inconsequential from a national point of view. Everything that crosses a man's path in his day's round of little or great moment requires of him an attitude towards it, and the conscious or unconscious shaping of his attitude is determining how he will proceed in other spheres not now in view. Suppose the case of a man in business or social life. He has to work with others in a day's routine or fill up with them hours of leisure they enjoy together. Consider to what accompaniment the work is often done and with what manner of conversation the leisure is often filled. In a day's routine, where men work together, harmonious relations are necessary; yet what bickerings, contentions, animosities fill many a day over points never worth a thought. You will see two men squabble like cats for the veriest trifle, and then go through days like children, without a word. You will see something similar in social life among men and women equally—petty jealousies, personalities, slanderings, mean little stories of no great consequence in themselves, except in the converse sense of showing how small and contemptible everything and everyone concerned is. A keen eye notes with some depression the absence from both spheres of a fine manliness, a generous conception of things, a large outlook, that prevents a squabble with a smile, and because of a consciousness of the need for determination in a great fight for a principle, holds in true contempt the trivialities of an hour. For in all the mean little bickerings of life there is involved not a principle, but a petty pride. One has to note these things and decide a line of action. In the abstract the right course seems quite natural and easy, but in fact it is not so. A man finds another act towards him with unconscious impudence or arrogance, and at once flies into a rage; there is a fierce wrangle, and at the end he finds no purpose served, for nothing was at stake. He has lost his temper for nothing. In his heat he may tell you "he wouldn't let so-and-so do so-and-so," but on the same principle he should hold a street-argument with every fish-wife who might call him a name. He may tell you "he will make so-and-so respect him," but he offends his own self-respect if he cannot consider some things beneath him. One must have a sense of proportion and not elevate every little act of impudence into a challenge of life to be fought over as for life and death. It may be corrected with a little humour or a little disdain, but always with sympathy for the narrow mind whose view of life cannot reach beyond these petty things. Yet, to repeat, it is not easy. An irritable temper will be on fire before reason can check it; the process of correction will prove uncomfortable—the reasons will be there, but the feelings in revolt. Still, little by little, it is brought under, and in the end the nasty little irritability is killed just like a troublesome nerve; and, by and by, what once provoked a fierce rage becomes a subject for humorous reflection. Let no one fear we kill the nerve for the great Battle of Life; this we but strengthen and make constant. Every act of personal discipline is contributing to a subconscious reservoir whence our nobler energies are supplied for ever. And so, little things lead to great; and in an office wrangle or a social squabble there is need for developing those very qualities of judgment, courage, and patience which equip a man for the trials of the battlefield or the ruling of the state.
We have considered the individual in business and social life. Let us now follow him into a political assembly. We find the same conditions prevail. Again, men fight bitterly but most frequently for nothing worth a fight; and again those rightly judging the situation must resolve not to be tempted into a wrangle even if their restraint be called by another name. What in a political assembly is often the first thing to note? We begin by the assumption, "this is a practical body of men," the words invariably used to cover the putting by of some great principle that we ought all endorse and uphold. But, first, by one of the many specious reasons now approved, we put the principle by, and before long we are at one another's throats about things involving no principle. It is not necessary to particularise. Note any meeting for the same general conditions: a chairman, indecisive, explaining rules of order which he lacks the grit to apply; members ignoring the chair and talking at one another; others calling to order or talking out of time or away from the point; one unconsciously showing the futility of the whole business by asking occasionally what is before the chair, or what the purpose of the meeting. This picture is familiar to us all, and curiously we seem to take it always as the particular freak of a particular time or locality; but it is nothing of the kind. It is the natural and logical result of putting by principle and trying to live away from it. Yet, that is what we are doing every day. It means we lack collectively the courage to pursue a thing to its logical conclusion and fight for the truth realised. If we are to be otherwise as a body, it will only be by personal discipline training for the wider and greater field. We must get a proper conception of the great cause we stand for, its magnitude and majesty, and that to be worthy of its service we must have a standard above reproach, have an end of petty proposals and underhand doings, be of brave front, resolute heart, and honourable intent. We must all understand this each in his own mind and shape his actions, each to be found faithful in the test. In fine, if in private life there is need for developing the great virtues requisite for public service, even more is it necessary in public life to develop the courage, patience and wisdom of the soldier and the statesman.
A concrete case will give a clearer grasp of the issue than any abstract reasoning. Our history, recent and remote, affords many examples of the abandoning by our public men of a principle, to defend which they entered public life; and our action on such an occasion is invariably the same—to regard the delinquent as simply a traitor, to load him with invective and scorn and brand him for ever. We never see it is not innate wickedness in the man, but a weakness against which he has been untrained and undisciplined, and which leaves him helpless in the first crisis. Ireland has recently been incensed by the action of some of her mayors and lord mayors in connection with the English Coronation festival; the feeling has been acute in the metropolis. Certain things are obvious, but how many see what is below the surface? Let me suggest a case and a series of circumstances; the more pointed the case, the more interesting. I will suppose a particular mayor is an old Fenian: let us see how for him a web is finely woven, and in the end how securely he is netted. First a mayor is a magistrate, and must take the judicial oath, but the old Fenian has taken an oath of allegiance to Ireland—clash number one. It is not simply a question of yes or no; there are attendant circumstances. Around a public man in place circulates a swarm of interested people, needy friends, meddling politicians, "supporters" generally. The chief magistrate will have influence on the bench which they all wish to invoke now and then, and they all wish to see him there. They don't approve of any principle that stands in the way. They group themselves together as his "supporters," and claiming to have put him into public life, they act as if they had acquired a lease of his soul. Not what he knows to be right, but what they believe to be useful, must be done; and before the first day is done the first fight must be made. However, the old Fenian has enough of the spirit of old times to come safe through the first round. But the second is close on his heels: Dublin Castle has been attentive. The mayor, as chief magistrate, has privileges on which the Castle now silently closes. There are private and veiled remonstrances by secret officials: "The mayor is acting illegally; he must not do so-and-so; such is the function of a magistrate; he has not taken the oath," etc. All this renewing the fight of the first day, for the Castle, too, wants the mayor on the bench to brand him as its own and alienate him from the old flag. It puts on the pressure by suppressing his privileges, weakening his influence, and disappointing his "supporters." All this is silently done. Still, the mayor holds fast, but he has not counted on this, and is beginning to be baffled and worried. Meanwhile a sort of guerilla attack is being maintained: invitations arrive to garden parties at Windsor, lesser functions nearer home, free passages to all the gay festivals, free admissions everywhere, the route indicated, and a gracious request for the presence of the mayor and mayoress. Genuine business engagements now save the situation, and the invitations are put by, but our chief citizen is now bewildered. These social missiles are flying in all directions, always gracious and flattering, never challenging and rude—who can withstand them? Still he is bewildered, but not yet caught. A new assault is made: the great Health Crusade Battery is called up. Here we must all unite, God's English and the wild Irish, the Fenian and the Castleman, the labourer and the lord. Surely, we are all against the microbes. There is a great demonstration, their Excellencies attend—and the mayor presides. Under the banner of the microbe he is caught. It is a great occasion, which their Excellencies grace and improve. His Excellency is affable with the mayor; her Excellency is confidential and gracious with the mayoress—we might have been schoolchildren in the same townland we are so cordial. Everything proceeds amid plaudits, and winds up in acclamation. Their Excellencies depart. Great is the no-politics era—you can so quietly spike the guns of many an old politician—and keep him safe. The social amenities do this. Their Excellencies have gone, but they do not forget. There is a warm word of thanks for recent hospitality. Perhaps the mayor has a daughter about to be married, or a son has died; it is remembered, and the cordial congratulation or gracious sympathy comes duly under the great seal. What surly man would resent sympathy? And so, the strength of the old warrior is sapped; the web is woven finely; in its secret net the Castle has its man. You who have exercised yourselves in Dublin recently over mayoral doings, note all this—not to the making light of any man's surrender, but to the true judging of the event, its deeper significance and danger. Whoever fails must be called to account. When a man takes a position of trust, influence, and honour, and, whatever the difficulty, abandons a principle he should hold sacred, he must be held responsible. A battle is an ordeal, and we must be stern with friend and foe. But there is something more sinister than the weakness of the man: remember the net.
The concrete case makes clear the principle in question. The man whom we have seen go down would have been safe if he had to fight no battle but one he could face with all his true friends, and in the open light of day. Having to fight a secret battle was never even considered: threats direct or vague or subtle, blandishments, cajolery, graciousness, patronage, flattery, plausible generalities, attacks indirect and insidious—all coming without pause, secret, silent, tireless. He who is to be proof against this, and above threat or flattery, must have been disciplined with the discipline of a life that trains him for every emergency. You cannot take up such a character like a garment to suit the occasion: it must be developed in private and public by all those daily acts that declare a man's attitude, register his convictions, and form his mind. It gives its own reward at once, even in the day where nothing is apparently at stake; where men scramble furiously over the petty things of life; for he who sees these things at their proper value is unruffled. His composure in all the fury has its own value. But the mind that held him so, by the very act of dismissing something petty, gets a clearer conception of the great things of life; by intuition is at once awake to a hovering and fatal menace to individual or national existence, unseen of the common eye; and in that hour proves, to the confusion of the enemy, clear, vigorous and swift. Let us, then, for this great end note what is the secret of strength. Not alone to be ready to stand in with a host and march bravely to battle—the discipline that provides for this is great and valuable and must be always observed and practised. This gives, however, only the common courage of the crowd, and can only be trusted on an even field where the chances of war are equal. But when there is a struggle to restore freedom, where from the nature of the case the chances are uneven and the soldiers of liberty are at every disadvantage, then must we seek to adjust the balance by a finer courage and a more enduring strength. The mustering of legions will not suffice. The general reviewing this fine array who would rightly estimate the power he may command, must silently examine the units, to judge of this brave host how large a company can be formed to fight a forlorn hope. If this spirit is in reserve, he is armed against every emergency. If the chances are equal, he will have a splendid victory; if by any of the turns of war his legions are shaken and disaster threatened, there is always a certain rallying-ground where the host can re-form and the field be re-won, and the flag that has seen so many vicissitudes be set at last high and proudly in the light of Freedom.