And now my appointed task draws to its close. In the pages I have written I have set nothing down in malice nor have I sought otherwise than to make a just presentment of facts as they are within my knowledge. It may be that, being a protagonist of one Party in the struggles and vicissitudes of these years, I may sometimes see things too much from the standpoint of my own preconceived opinions and notions. But on the whole it has been my endeavour to give an honest and fair-minded narrative of the main events and movements of Irish history over a period in which I believe I can claim I am the first explorer. There are some subjects which would come properly within the purview of my title, such as the power, province and influence of clericalism in politics, but I have thought it best at this stage, when so many matters are in process of readjustment in Ireland, and when our people are adapting themselves to a new form of citizen duty and responsibility, to leave certain aspects of our public life untouched. It may be, however, if this book meets with the success I hope for it, that my researches and labours in this field of enterprise are not at an end.

All I have now to do in this my final chapter is to summarise some of the issues that present themselves for our consideration. I do not propose to deal with the activities of Sinn Fein since it won its redoubtable victory over the forces of Parliamentarianism as represented by the Irish Party at the General Election. The country turned to it as its only avenue of salvation from a reign of corruption, incompetence and helplessness unparalleled in history. Mr O'Brien and his friends of the All-for-Ireland League, of their own volition, effaced themselves at the General Election. They had striven through fifteen long years, against overwhelming odds and most unscrupulous and malignant forces, for a policy of reason and for the principles of Conference, Conciliation and Consent, as between all Irish-born men and a combination of all parties, Irish and British, for the purpose of effecting a broad and generous National settlement. Had they received that support which the events of the last two years demonstrates could have been had - had the moderate Irish Unionists, and especially the Southern Irish Unionists, the moral courage to declare their views, temperately but unequivocally, as Lord Midleton and others have recently declared them, the tide might easily have been turned and wiser counsels and policies prevailed.

If the great peace pronouncement of Cork City merchants and professional men, made a few months ago on the initiative of Alderman Beamish, had only been arranged when the All-for-Ireland League was founded; if Lord Bandon had then held the meeting of Deputy-Lieutenants he recently convened to declare for Home Rule; if Lord Shaftesbury, three times Lord Mayor of Belfast, had then made the speech he made at the Dublin Peace Conference last year, nothing could have resisted the triumph of the policy of Conciliation, and Ireland would be now in enjoyment of responsible self-government instead of being ravaged as it is by the savagery of a civil war, in which all the usages of modern warfare have been ruthlessly abandoned. It is also to be deplored that Sir Horace Plunkett, who is now the enthusiastic advocate of Dominion Home Rule (and, indeed, believes himself to be the discoverer of it), did not, during all the years when he could potently influence certain channels of opinion in England, raise his voice either for the agrarian settlement or for Home Rule and refused his support, when he was Chairman of the Irish Convention, to Mr W.M. Murphy's well-meant efforts to get Dominion Home Rule adopted or even discussed by the Convention.

Of course this much must be said for the Unionists who have pronounced in favour of Home Rule within the past few years, that they could plead fairly enough that every man like Lord Dunraven, Mr Moreton Frewen, Lord Rossmore, Colonel Hutcheson-Poe, and Mr Lindsay Crawford, who came upon the All-for-Ireland platform from the first, was foully assailed and traduced and had his motives impugned by the Board of Erin bosses, and other Unionists, more timid, naturally enough, shrank from incurring a similar fate.

But these things are of the past, and we would turn our thoughts to the present and the future.

The country, at the General Election of 1918, by a vote so overwhelming as to be practically unanimous, gave the guardianship of its national faith and honour into the keeping of Sinn Fein. This is the dominant fact of the situation from the Irish standpoint. Other considerations there are, but any which leave this out of account fail to grip the vital factor which must influence our march towards a just and durable Irish settlement. Another fact that cannot be lost sight of is that there is a Home Rule Act on the Statute Book. With this Southern Ireland will have nothing to do! Unionists and Nationalists alike condemn it as a mockery of their national rights. But the Orangeman of the Six Counties are first seriously going to work their regional autonomy - they are going to set up their Parliament in Belfast. And once set up it will be a new and vital complication of the situation preceding a settlement which will embrace the whole of Ireland.

So far as Ireland is concerned the public mind is occupied at the moment of my writing with the question of "reprisals." Various efforts have been made to bring about peace. They have failed because, in my view, they have been reluctant to recognise and make allowance for certain essential facts. The whole blame for the existing state of civil war - for, repudiate it as the Government may, such it undoubtedly is - is thrown on the shoulders of the Irish Republican Army by those who take their ethical standard from Sir Hamar Greenwood. It is forgotten that for two or three years before the attacks on the Royal Irish Constabulary began there were no murders, no assassinations and no civil war in Ireland. There was, however, a campaign of gross provocation by Dublin Castle for two reasons: (1) by way of vengeance for their defeat on the Conscription issue; (2) as a retaliation on Sinn Fein, because it had succeeded in peacefully supplanting English rule by a system of Volunteer Police, Sinn Fein Courts, Sinn Fein Local Government, etc. The only pretext on which this provocation was pursued was on account of a mythical "German plot," which Lord Wimbourne never heard of, which Sir Bryan Mahon, Commander-in-Chief, told Lord French he flatly disbelieved in, and which, when, after more than two years, the documents are produced, proves to be a stale rehash of negotiations before the Easter Week Rising, with some sham "German Irish Society" in Berlin. On this pretext the Sinn Fein leaders, Messrs de Valera and Griffith (whom there is not a shadow of proof to connect with the German plot), were arrested and deported, with many hundreds of the most responsible leaders. Furthermore, an endless series of prosecutions were instituted and savage sentences imposed for the most paltry charges-such as drilling, wearing uniform, singing The Soldiers' Song, having portraits of Rebel leaders, taking part in the Arbitration Courts which had superseded the Petty Sessions Courts, and such like. All this, with suppression of newspapers and of all public meetings, went on for many months before Sinn Fein, deprived of its leaders, was goaded at last into attacking the Royal Irish Constabulary. Whatever the juridical status of the guerrilla warfare thus entered upon (which it is not improbable England would have applauded if employed against any other Empire than her own), it was conducted on honourable lines by the Sinn Feiners. The policemen and soldiers, including General Lewis, who surrendered, were treated with courtesy, and not one of them wounded or insulted. Their wives and children were also carefully preserved from danger until the police "reprisals" in the Thurles neighbourhood - the wrecking of villages and the savage murders of young men - ended by producing equally ruthless "reprisals" on the other side. In Dublin, since the Dublin Metropolitan Police declined to go about armed, not one of them has been fired upon.

The real ferocity on both sides began when the "Black and Tans" were imported to take the place of the R.I.C., who were resigning in batches. It is indisputable - independent investigation by the Committee of the British Labour Party and the daily messages of fearless British journalists, such as Mr Hugh Martin, establish it beyond possibility of contradiction - that when the "Black and Tans" were let loose on the Irish people they began a villainous campaign of cowardly murder, arson, robbery and drunken outrage, which should have made all decent Englishmen and Englishwomen shudder for the deeds committed in their name. Whenever the particulars are fully disclosed they will, I venture to say, horrify every honest man in the Empire. Not the least disgraceful feature of this black business was the manner in which the Chief Secretary sought to brazen things out and the audacious lies that he fathered, such as that Lord Mayor M'Curtain was murdered by the Sinn Feiners, that it was Sinn Feiners who raided the Bishop of Killaloe's house at midnight and searched for him (unquestionably with intent to shoot him), that it was the Sinn Feiners who burned down the City Hall, Public Library and the principal streets of Cork, etc.

And then the utter failure of all this "frightfulness"! Several months ago Sir Hamar Greenwood declared that Sinn Fein was on the run, and the Prime Minister declared they had "murder by the throat," the fact being that the young men they sought to terrorise were made more resolute in their defiance of the Government. The only people at all terrorised were the invalids, the nuns whose cloisters were violated by night, the women and children whose homes were invaded at night by miscreants masquerading in the British uniform, maddened with drink and uttering the filthiest obscenities. And does England take account of what all this is going to mean to her - that the young generation will grow up with never-to-be-forgotten memories of these atrocities, while the thousands of young men herded together in the internment camps and convict prisons are being manufactured into life-long enemies of the Empire? Might not Englishmen pause and ask themselves whether it is worth it all, apart from other considerations, to implant this legacy of bitter hatred in Irish breasts?

Let it be admitted that since the Government have been shamed into dropping their denials of "reprisals" and taken them in hand themselves the military destruction has at least been carried on with some show of reluctance and humanity by the regular army, but it cannot be too strongly emphasised that the disbandment and deportation of "the Black and Tans" is the first condition of any return to civilised warfare or to any respect for the good name of England or her army.

If I were asked to state some of the essentials of peace I would say it must depend first of all on the re-establishment of a belief in the good faith of England. This belief, and for the reasons which I have attempted to outline in the preceding chapters, has been shattered into fragments. There is a strong feeling in Ireland that the Prime Minister's recent peace "explorations" are not honestly meant - that they are intended to rouse the "sane and moderate" elements in opposition to Sinn Fein. Whilst this feeling exists no real headway can be made by those who seek a genuine peace along rational and reasoned lines. The Prime Minister must be aware that when he professes his readiness to meet those who can "deliver the goods" he is talking rhetorical rubbish. "Delivering the goods" is not a matter for Irishmen, but for British politicians, who have spent the last twenty years cheating Ireland of the "goods" of Home Rule, which they had solemnly covenanted again and again to "deliver."

Mr Lloyd George's conditions for a meeting with "Dail Eireann" are so impossible that one wonders he took the trouble to state them - viz. (1) that "Dail Eireann" must give up to be tried (and we presume hanged) a certain unspecified number of their own colleagues; (2) that they must recant their Republicanism and proclaim their allegiance to the Empire; (3) that negotiations must proceed on the basis of the Partition Act and the surrender of one-fourth of their country to the new Orange ascendancy.

No section of honest Irishmen will dream of negotiating on such a basis, and any attempt to make use of "sane and moderate" elements to divide and discredit the elected representatives of the people will be met by the universal declaration that the "Dail Eireann" alone is entitled to speak for Ireland. Until this primary fact is recognised the fight in Ireland must go on, and many black chapters of its history will have to be written before some British statesman comes along who is prepared to treat with the Irish nation in a spirit of justice and generosity.

Peace is still perfectly possible if right methods are employed to ensure it. It is futile to ask Sinn Fein to lay down arms and to abjure their opinions as a preliminary condition to negotiations. I doubt whether the Sinn Fein leaders could impose such a condition upon their followers, even if they were so inclined - which they are not and never will be. Let there, then, to start with, be no preliminary tying of hands. The initiative must come from the Government. They should announce the largest measure of Home Rule they will pledge themselves to pass. They should accompany this with a public promise to submit it to an immediate plebiscite or referendum of the whole Irish people on the plain issue "Yes" or "No." All they can ask of the Sinn Fein leaders is that they will leave the Irish people absolutely free to record their judgment. I can imagine that, in such circumstances, the attitude of the Sinn Fein leaders would be: "We do not surrender our Republican opinions, but if the Government offer full New Zealand Home Rule (let us say) and pledge themselves to enforce it if Ireland accepts it, Sinn Fein would be justified before all National Republicans in saying: 'This is a prospect so magnificent for our country we shall do nothing in the smallest degree to prejudice the opinion of the people against its acceptance or to fetter the free and honest working of the new institutions.'" Beyond this no person desiring a real peace ought to expect Sinn Fein to go, and I am convinced that if this were the attitude of Sinn Fein and if the offer were made by the Government as suggested, the majority for acceptance, on a plebiscite being taken, would be so great that there would be no further shadow of opposition even in Ulster, where nobody would object that it should have local autonomy in all necessary particulars.

I can conceive only one man standing in the way of a settlement on these lines - a settlement which would be just to Ireland and honourable to Britain. So long as Sir Edward Carson remains the powerful figure he is - dictating and directing the policy of the Cabinet - it is improbable that he will consent to have the opinion of "the six counties" taken by a plebiscite. But if Sir Edward Carson were to quit politics, as one may hope he can see a thousand good reasons for doing, I can well imagine that Mr Lloyd George would be very glad to come to a satisfactory arrangement.

Whatever happens this much is certain, there is only one road to peace in Ireland - the recognition of her nationhood, one and indivisible, and of the right of Irishmen to manage their own affairs in accordance with Irish ideals.



Since this book went to press, the appointment of Sir Edward Carson as Lord of Appeal and the interview between Mr de Valera and Sir James Craig are developments of a more hopeful character which, it is devoutly to be hoped, will bring about the longed-for rapprochement between the two countries.