There are wise people who tell England, till England is tired of hearing them, that the Irish never will listen to reason, never will appreciate fair dealing, and never will see in humanity anything but cowardice. Every now and then, it must be said, this estimate receives a painful confirmation in facts. What else can we think when we read the comments of the Irish Catholic organs on the execution of the Manchester murderers? In the newspapers and on the chapel doors the Irish are told that it is a meritorious and heroic act to kill any defender or servant of the British Government in the performance of his duty. It is meritorious, they are told, to combine, to arm, to hold secret meetings, and issue mandates for the execution of any means that may be thought conducive to the subversion of the British rule, and the establishment of a revolutionary government in Ireland exclusively in the hands of one race and one religious communion. It is more than a duty – it is heroic to obey these mandates and execute these orders, whether by lurking assassination or by the use of overwhelming numbers and deadly weapons. Murderous assaults bring upon their actors all the honours of martyrdom and beatification. The simple fact of the recent case is that three men, armed with loaded revolvers, and assisted by forty or fifty others, armed with revolvers and other weapons, surprised and slaughtered an unarmed and perfectly inoffensive policeman doing his duty. They shot down upon him as he stood helpless in the well of the prison van, refusing to betray his trust. Unless the assailants had been swift to shed blood, as well as ready, they need not have done so in this case, for so many could have mastered the poor sergeant. The butchery could hardly have gained them more than a minute of time. This deed, horrible and detestable by every English standard, confers glory and immortality in the opinion of the Irish press. They proclaim, in effect, that this is what every Irishman ought to do when the opportunity occurs. The execution of the murderers, after a most careful trial and after every possible allowance in their favour, is ascribed by these leaders of opinion to the British “spirit of hatred and brutal revenge.” It is described as an “injustice,” which the Irish people are invited not to accept as one of the inevitable decrees of “Providence” – that is, as falling under the canon against murder. The practices and ceremonies of their Church, which have regard to the condition of souls in a future state are made the vehicle of attacks on the British rule, which is declared to be so utterly out of the pale of Christian law that it has no right to defend itself. Alike alien and excommunicate as it is, anybody may take the life of its servants without incurring the guilt of murder, while every act of self-defence on its own part, if it take life, must be murder and nothing less. In order to make England Russia and our Queen a Czar, these writers are rather fond of comparing their own country to Poland. It is not every Irishman who knows the condition of Poland, its history, its race, its politics, or what the Russian Government is doing with it. They would be considerably surprised to find the true state of the case. The surest plan would be for the Irishman to send some of its staff to Warsaw to establish a journal on its own lines, and supply paraphrases mutatis mutandis, of its own articles. The striking similarity between the two Sovereigns and Governments would make this an easy matter. The results we will not anticipate, but as the climate of Ireland is decidedly preferable to that of some less maritime countries we should be sorry to hear that any friend of ours had committed himself to the experiment. But the Irish do know the case and condition of their own country. In the first place, they know that they are permitted to call it heroism to slay an officer of the British Government, and a murder to inflict capital punishment for that crime. They are permitted to say just what they like. They are permitted to declare continual war upon the British Government, to proclaim it under perpetual outlawry, to maintain that no act against it is a crime, and even to promise advantages in the world to come to all who die or suffer in the crusade against it. In order respects Irishmen can do whatever an Englishman can do. They have the world before them exactly in the same sense that Englishmen have, and, as it happens, are much better able to make their way in the world than Englishmen generally are. The three unfortunate men who chose to make open war against the British Government at Manchester may really be called representative Irishmen, and no Englishman need be ashamed to point to their story. Allen, for example, was born near the town of Tipperary, which is at least as thriving as most English country towns. His father removing to Bandon, and becoming keeper of a bridewell, he was educated at a school under the superintendence of the present Bishop of Tuam. 1
Bernard was the younger son of James Bernard, 2nd Earl of Bandon, by Mary Susan Albinia Brodrick, daughter of the Right Reverend Charles Brodrick,Archbishop of Cashel. Francis Bernard, 3rd Earl of Bandon, was his elder brother. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and appointed the 56th Bishop of Tuam, 55th Bishop of Killala and 56th of Achonry in 1867. He died in post on 31 January 1890.
It is only four years since he became a Roman Catholic. At Bandon he was apprenticed to a respectable carpenter and timber merchant – about as good a chance as is found in that class of life. Indeed, any English gentleman wishing to apprentice a promising lad to a carpenter in good business will find that he has to pay a good premium. However, this foolish, unsettled youth was induced by relatives to go to Manchester. There he had the same chances and certainly the same liberty that other people have at Manchester. Gould, alias O’Brien, served an apprenticeship in a drapery business, in the prosperous city of Cork. He also tried his fortune in America, where he had many relatives, some in prosperous circumstances. He joined the army, and served several campaigns. It was thus his own career and circumstances, not the history and misfortunes of his country, that led to the unhappy result. Such are the two careers, which are forced upon us as fair specimens of the Irish social state. Will our Continental critics, always ready to throw Ireland in our teeth, say that they find in these two biographies valid reasons for placing England under an interdict, and relieving from present disgrace and future consequences all manslaughters and other crimes committed against her devoted head? But when the Irish press proclaim murder no murder, so long as the victim is an Englishman doing his official duty, they must be aware that the doctrine is progressive, and that their pupils will improve on it. Every hotbrained youngster, every man with a turn for enterprise, and everybody with a morose temper may now read on the chapel doors, or imbibe at his leisure from the popular organs of his party and creed, a warrant to murder everybody with whom he can fasten a political or quasi political quarrel in any way that he may please. He may do it by night or by day, alone or in masses, by ambuscade or by force, as taste or opportunity may direct. If he can only manage to escape apprehension at the instant, he will find an “underground railway” everywhere, passing him safely from one hiding-place to another; he will be enrolled on the list of Ireland’s worthies, and when he dies at last a grateful country will pray for the mitigation of his purgatorial pains. Such is the Poland of this despotic and intolerant Empire. We know not whether the Poles will see the likeness, or even feel flattered by it. So far as regards to moral aspects of the case, they may even prefer their own country, where, if there is an ever-smouldering rebellion, there is something like reason for it, which there certainly is not in Ireland. – Times.
Cork Constitution, November 30, 1867 – reproducing Times.
- The Right Reverend the Honourable Charles Brodrick Bernard, the younger son of James Bernard, 2nd Earl of Bandon, appointed the 56th Bishop of Tuam, Anglican Church of Ireland, in 1867. ↩