Not Scotland, but Wallace,
baffled Edward. Not England, but Cromwell,
struck a king
from his seat. Not America, but six or
men, put stripes and stars on the banner of a nation. To quote
however, is needless; they must strike at once on every mind.
If Ireland be conquered
now — or what
would be worse — if she fails to fight, it will certainly not be the
the people at large, of those who form the rank and file of the nation.
failure and fault will be that of those who have assumed to take the
commanding and conducting the march of a people for liberty, without,
having any commission from nature to do so, or natural right, or
population of the island are ready to find and furnish
everything which can be demanded from the mass of a people — the
physical strength, the animal daring, the health, hardihood and
population on earth of equal amount would furnish a more effective
conscription. We want only competent leaders — men of courage and
men whom nature meant and made for leaders, not the praters and
bustling botherbys of the old agitation. These leaders are yet to be
Ireland furnish them?
It would be a
sheer and absurd blasphemy against nature to doubt it. The first blow
bring them out.
But very many of
our present prominent leaders must first retire
or be dismissed. These men must at once be got rid of utterly. They
is nothing else for it. They are stopping our way, clinging round our
giving us up to our enemies. Many of them come into this business from
desire of gaining little personal distinctions on safe terms, and at a
and easy rate of obtaining petty honours and offices — of making a
small Dublin reputation — of
parish fame or a tea-table fame. They will never suffer the national
to swell beyond the petty dimensions which they are able, themselves,
and command; and are therefore, a source not of strength, but of
for them we could walk down the utmost force of England in one month.
It is never the
mass of people that forms its real and efficient
might. It is the men by whom the mass is moved and managed. All the
of history have been done by a very few men. Take half a dozen names
revolution upon record, and what would have been the result.
movement of the nature which had been going on for years in
this country, it was impossible to prevent the intrusion into offices
command of that class of men who mar success instead of making it.
was into their hands those offices have been almost exclusively
confided up to
the present hour. This can hardly be called a mistake, for it was
The movement, naturally and of necessity, belonged to them. It was of
mock-heroic order, the machinery of which none but mean hands could
or be competent to manage.
class of men who make revolutions, and who doubtless
exist here as elsewhere, have been altogether disgusted and driven away
the service of their country by the peculiar character of that sort of
“struggle for freedom,” the system of “moral agitation” which Ireland
fit to adopt; and from which their pride of manhood and pride of
revolted. The staff leadership which that system created, and has left
it, is composed of men utterly unfit, and unwilling to take charge of a
military struggle, and who ought at once to be superseded and replaced.
generations — may history forget to mention them — those men have been
to do this — the best work that ever yet was done for tyranny — to take
the people the terror of their name and make popular movement a mockery.
And what now are
they working to do? To hold Ireland down, hand
and foot, while her chains are being locked and double locked; and her
noble prisoners sent fettered and handcuffed to a penal colony of
hear it, O Earth, and hear it, O God! — for saying that Ireland should suffer
Oh ! worse for
us than the foreign tyrant is the native traitor;
and worse than the open traitor in the enemy’s ranks is the vile
the base craven in our own. Away with them! They must quit at once or
quashed. One man, and every man, of those now in the prison of Newgate,
worth a host of the dastards and drivellers who are bidding you stand
“bide your time,” while your best and bravest are being transported as
in the face of your city, in the sight of two islands, in view of all
But how are you
to know them, those menials of England in the green
livery of their
country? By this ye shall know them. Any man who objects to every plan
resistance that is proposed, while he produces none or no better one of
own. Or any man who tell you that an act of armed resistance — even if
soon as tomorrow — even if offered by ten men only — even if offered by
armed with stones — any man who tells you that such an act of
be premature, imprudent or dangerous — any and every such man should at
spurned and spat at. For, remark you this and recollect it, that
somehow, and by somebody a beginning must be made; and that the first
resistance is always, and must be ever, premature, imprudent and
dangerous. Lexington was premature,
was imprudent and even Trenton was dangerous.
There are men
who speak much to you of prudence and caution, and
very little of any virtue beside. But every vice may call itself by the
some one virtue or other; and of prudence there are many sorts.
call itself, and readily pass for, caution; and of those who preach
it behoves to inquire what kind of prudence it is they speak of, and of
class of prudent persons they belong themselves. There is a prudence
of the wise and bravest — there is a prudence the virtue of beggars and
Which class do those belong to who are prating now for prudence against
premature insurrection, while rejecting every proceeding and plan for
advice of those men, and all men such as they, I
declare my own. In the case of Ireland now there is
but one fact to
deal with, and one question to be considered. The fact is this — that
present in occupation of our country some 40,000 armed men, in the
service of England; and the question is — how best and soonest to kill
capture those 40,000 men.
required to state my own individual opinion, and allowed to choose my
I certainly would take the time when the full harvest of Ireland shall be staked in the
haggards. But not
infrequently God selects and sends His own seasons and occasions; and
oftentimes too, an enemy is able to force the necessity of either
failing. In the one case, we ought not, in the other we surely cannot,
waiting for our harvest-home. If opportunity offers, we must dash at
opportunity — if wherefore, let us fight in September, if we may — but
if we must.
however, remember this — that somewhere and somehow,
and by somebody, a beginning must be made. Who strikes the first blow
for Ireland? Who draws the
for Ireland? Who wins a
wreath that will
be green forever?