Jenny Marx on Ireland
Article I February 27, 1870
Article II March 5, 1870
Article III March 16, 1870
Article IV March 18, 1870
Article V March 22, 1870
Article VI April 2, 1870
Article VII April 17, 1870
Article VIII April 19, 1870
Written under the pseudonym J. Williams for the French newspaper La
Marseillaise. The third article was co-written by Jenny Marx and her
father. These articles generated considerable public response.
Online Version: The fifth article was quoted in The Irishman No. 40 (April
20, 1870) and the sixth was reprinted in full in an English translation in
No. 45 (May 7, 1870). They were first fully translated into English by
Progress Publishers in 1970. Transcribed for the Internet Jan 18 1996, by
Zodiac. Present html markup by Brian Basgen in 1999.
La Marseillaise, No. 71
March 1, 1870
London, February 27, 1870
The Marseillaise for February 18 quotes an article from The Daily News, in
which the English paper gives information to the French press concerning
the election of O'Donovan Rossa. Since this information is somewhat
confused and since partial explanations only serve to throw a false light
on the things which they are claiming to elucidate, I should be grateful if
you would kindly publish my comments on the article in question.
Firstly, The Daily News states that O'Donovan was sentenced by a jury, but
it omits to add that in Ireland the juries are composed of minions more or
less directly nominated by the government.
Then, in speaking with righteous horror of the treason-felony, the false
liberals of The Daily News omit to say that this new category in the
English Penal Code was expressly invented to identify the Irish patriots
with the vilest of criminals.
Let us take then the case of O'Donovan Rossa. He was one of the editors of
The Irish People. Like most of the Fenians he was sentenced for having
written so-called seditious articles. Consequently the Marseillaise was not
wrong in drawing an analogy between Rochefort and Rossa."'
Why does The Daily News, which aims at keeping France informed about the
Fenian prisoners, remain silent about the appalling treatment of them? I
trust that you will allow me to make up for this prudent silence.
Some time ago O'Donovan was put in a dark cell with his hands chained
behind his back. His handcuffs were not removed night or day so that he was
forced to crouch on the ground to lick his food, gruel made with water. Mr.
Pigott, editor of The Irishman, learnt about these facts from Rossa who
described them to him in the presence of the prison governor and another
witness, and published the information in his newspaper, encouraging Mr.
Moore, one of the Irish members of the House of Commons, to request a
parliamentary enquiry into what goes on in the prisons. The government
strongly opposed this request. Thus, Moore's motion was rejected by 171
votes to 36 -- a worthy supplement to the voting which crushed the right to
And this took place during the ministry of the sanctimonious Gladstone. As
you-can see the great Liberal leader knows how to mock humanity and
justice. There are also judases who do not wear glasses.
Here is another case which also does England credit. O'Leary, a Fenian
prisoner aged between sixty and seventy, was put on bread and water for
three weeks because -- the reader of the Marseillaise would never guess why
-- because Leary called himself a "pagan" and refused to say he was
Protestant, Presbyterian, Catholic or Quaker. He was given the choice of
one of these religions or bread and water. Of these five evils, O'Leary, or
"pagan O'Leary" as he is called, chose the one that he considered the
least-bread and water.
A few days ago after examining the body of a Fenian who died at Spike
Island Prison the CORONER expressed his very strong disapproval of the
manner in which the deceased man had been treated.
Last Saturday a young Irishman called Gunner Hood left prison after four
years in it. At the age of 19 he had joined the English army and served
England in Canada. He was taken before a military tribunal in 1866 for
having written seditious articles and sentenced to two years' hard labour.
When the sentence was pronounced Hood took his cap and threw it into the
air shouting, "Long live the Irish republic!" This impassioned cry cost him
dear. He was sentenced to an extra two years in prison and fifty strokes
for good measure. This was carried out in the most atrocious manner. Hood
was attached to a plough and two strapping blacksmiths were armed With
cat-o-nine-tails. There is no equivalent term in French for the English
knout. Only the Russians and the English know what is meant by this. Like
draws to like.
Mr. Carey, a journalist, is kept at present in the part of the prison
intended for the insane, the silence and the other forms of torture to
which he has been subjected having turned him into a mass of living flesh
deprived of all reason.
The Fenian Colonel Burke, a man who has distinguished himself not only by
his military service in the American army but also as a writer and painter,
has also been reduced to a pitiful state in which he can no longer
recognise his closest relatives. I could add many more names to this list
of Irish martyrs. Suffice it to say that since 1866, when there was a raid
on The Irish People's offices, 20 Fenians have died or gone mad in the
prisons of humanitarian England.
La Marseillaise, No. 79
March 9 1870
London, March 5
During the meeting of the House of Commons on March 3 Mr. Stacpoole
questioned Mr. Gladstone on the treatment of Fenian prisoners. He said,
among other things, that Dr. Lyons of Dublin had recently stated that
"the discipline, diet, personal restrictions and the other punishments were
bound to cause permanent damage to the prisoners' health."
After having expressed complete satisfaction with the way in which
prisoners were treated, Mr. Gladstone crowned his little speech with this
brilliantly witty remark:
"As to the health of O'Donovan Rossa, I am glad to be able to say that
during her last visit to her husband Mrs. O'Donovan Rossa congratulated him
on looking better."
Whereupon a burst of Homeric laughter broke out from all sides of that
noble assembly. Her last visit! Note that Mrs. O'Donovan Rossa had not only
been separated from her husband for several years, but that she had
travelled all over America earning money to feed her children by giving
public lectures on English literature.
And bear in mind also that this same Mr. Gladstone, whose quips Care so
pointed, is the almost sacred author of Prayers, the Propagation of the
Gospel, The Functions of Laymen in the Church and the recently published
homily Ecce homo.
Is the profound satisfaction of the head jailer shared by his prisoners?
Read the following extracts from a letter written by O'Donovan Rossa, which
by some miracle was. slipped out of the prison and arrived at its
destination after an incredible delay:
Letter from Rossa
I have already told you about the hypocrisy of these English masters who,
after placing me in a position which forced me to get down on my knees and
elbows to eat, are now depriving me of food and light and giving me chains
and a Bible. I am not complaining of the penalties which my masters inflict
on me -- it is my job to suffer -- but I insist that I have the right to
inform the world of the treatment to which I am subjected, and that it is
illegal to hold back my letters describing this treatment. The minute
precautions taken by the prison authorities to prevent me writing letters
are as disgusting as they are absurd. The most insulting method was to
strip me once a day for several months and then examine my arms, legs and
all other parts of my body. This took place at Millbank daily from February
to May 1867. One day I refused, whereupon five prison officers arrived,
beat me mercilessly and tore off my clothes.
Once I succeeded in getting a letter to the outside, for which I was
rewarded by a visit from Messrs. Knox and Pollock, two police magistrates.'
How ironical to send two government employees to find out the truth about
the English prisons. These gentlemen refused to take note of anything
important which I had to tell them. When I touched upon a subject which was
not to their liking, they stopped me by saying that prison discipline was
not their concern. Isn't that so, Messrs. Pollock and Knox? When I told you
that I had been forced to wash in water which had already been used by half
a dozen English prisoners, did you not refuse to note my complaint?
At Chatham I was given a certain amount of tow to pull out and told that I
would go without food if I did not finish the work by a certain time.
"Perhaps you'll still punish me even if I do the job in time," I shouted.
"That's what happened to me at Millbank."
"How could it?" asked the jailer.
Then I told him that on July 4 I had finished my work ten minutes before
the appointed time and picked up a book. The officer saw me do this,
accused me of being lazy and I was put on bread and water and locked in a
dark cell for forty-eight hours.
One day I caught sight of my friend Edward Duffy. He was extremely pale. A
little later I heard that Duffy was seriously ill and that he had expressed
the wish to see me (we had been very close in Ireland). I begged the
governor to give me permission to visit him. He refused point-blank. This
was round about Christmas '67 -- and a few weeks later a prisoner whispered
to me through the bars of my cell: "Duffy is dead."
How movingly this would have been described by the English if it had
happened in Russia!
If Mr. Gladstone had been present on such a sad occasion in Naples, what a
touching picture he would have painted! Ah! Sweet Pharisees, trading in
hypocrisy, with the Bible on their lips and the devil in their bellies.
I must say a word in memory of John Lynch. In March 1866 I found myself
together with him in the exercise yard. We were being watched so closely
that he only managed to say to me, "The cold is killing me." But then what
did the English do to us? They took us to London on Christmas Eve. When we
arrived at the prison they took away our flannels and left us shivering in
our cells for several months. Yes, they cannot deny that it was they who
killed John Lynch. But nevertheless they managed to produce officials at
the enquiry who were ready to prove that Lynch and Duffy had been given
very gentle treatment.
The lies of our English oppressors exceed one's wildest imagination.
If I am to die in prison I entreat my family and my friends not to believe
a word of what these people say. Let me not be suspected of personal
rancour against those who persecuted me with their lies. I accuse only
tyranny which makes the use of such methods necessary.
Many a time the circumstances have reminded me of Machiavelli's words:
"that tyrants have a special interest in circulating the Bible so that the
people understand its precepts and offer no resistance to being robbed by
So long as an enslaved people follows the sermons on morality and obedience
preached to them by the priests, the tyrants have nothing to fear.
If this letter reaches my fellow countrymen I have the right to demand that
they raise their voices to insist that justice be done for their suffering
brothers. Let these words whip up the blood that is moving sluggishly in
I was harnessed to a cart with a rope tied round my neck. This knot was
fastened to a long shaft and two English prisoners received orders to
prevent the cart from bouncing. But they refrained from doing this, the
shaft rose up into the air and the knot came undone. If it had tightened I
would be dead.
I insist that they do not possess the right to put me in a situation where
my life depends on the acts of other people.
A ray of light is penetrating through the bolts and bars of my prison. This
is reminder of the day in Newtownwards where I met Orangemen and Ribbonmen
who had forgotten their bigotry!
Political prisoner sentenced
to hard labour
"O'Donovan Rossa. Letter from the Member for Tipperary",
The Irishman, No. 32, February 5, 1870.
La Marseillaise, No. 89
March 19 1870
London, March 16, 1870
The main event of the past week has been O'Donovan Rossa's letter which I
communicated to you in my last report.
The Times' printed the letter without comment, whereas The Daily News
published a commentary without the letter.
"As one might have expected," it says, "Mr. O'Donovan Rossa takes as his
subject the prison rules to which he has been subjected for a while.
How atrocious this "for a while" is in speaking of a man who has already
been imprisoned for five years and condemned to hard labour for life!
Mr. O'Donovan Rossa complains among other things -- "of being harnessed to
a cart with a rope tied round his neck" in such a way that his life
depended on the movements of English convicts, his fellow prisoners.
But, exclaims The Daily News, "Is it really unjust to put a man in a
situation where his life depends on the acts of others? When a person is in
a car or on a steamer does not his life also depend on the acts of others?"
After this brilliant piece of arguing, the pious casuist reproaches
O'Donovan Rossa for not loving the Bible and preferring the Irish people,
an opposition which is sure to delight its readers.
"Mr. O'Donovan," it continues, "seems to imagine that prisoners serving
sentences for seditious writing should be supplied with cigars and daily
newspapers, and that they should above all have the right to correspond
freely with their friends."
Ho, ho, virtuous Pharisee! At last you have admitted that O'Donovan Rossa
has been sentenced to hard labour for life for seditious writing and not
for an attempted assassination of Queen Victoria, as you vilely insinuated
in your first address to the French press.
"After all," this shameless newspaper concludes, "O'Donovan Rossa is simply
being treated for what he is, that is, an ordinary convict."
After Mr. Gladstone's special newspaper, here is a different angle from the
"liberal" press, The Daily Telegraph, which generally adopts a rougher
"If we condescend," it says, "to take note of O'Donovan Rossa's letter, it
is not because of the Fenians who are incorrigible, but exclusively for the
well-being of France.
"Let it be known," it says, "that only a few days ago in the House of
Commons Mr. Gladstone made a formal denunciation of all these outrageous
lies, and there cannot be any intelligent Frenchmen of whatever party and
class who would dare doubt the word of an English gentleman."
But if, contrary to expectation, there were parties or people in France
perverse enough not to believe the word of an English gentleman such as Mr.
Gladstone, France could not at least resist the well-meant advice of Mr.
Levy who is not a gentleman and who addresses you in the following terms:
"We advise our neighbours, the Parisians, to treat all the stories of
cruelties committed on political prisoners in England as so many insolent
With Mr. Levy's permission, I will give you a new example of the value of
the words of the gentlemen who make up Gladstone's Cabinet.
You will remember that in my first letter I mentioned Colonel Richard
Burke, a Fenian prisoner who has gone insane thanks to the humanitarian
methods of the English government. The Irishman was the first to publish
this news, after which Mr. Underwood sent a letter to Mr. Bruce, the Home
Secretary, asking him for an enquiry into the treatment of political
Mr. Bruce replied in a letter which was published in the English press and
which contained the following sentence:
"With regard to Richard Burke at Woking Prison, Mr. Bruce is bound to
refuse to make an enquiry on the grounds of such ill-founded and
extravagant insinuations as those contained in the extracts from The
Irishman which you have sent me."
This statement by Mr. Bruce is dated January 11, 1870. Now in one of its
recent issues The Irishman has published the same Minister's reply to a
letter from Mrs. Barry, Richard Burke's sister, who asked for news, about
her brother's "alarming" condition. The ministerial reply of February 24
contains an official report dated January 11 in which the prison doctor and
Burke's special guard state that he had become insane. Thus, the very day
when Mr. Bruce publicly declared the information published by The Irishman
to be false and ill-founded, he was concealing the irrefutable official
proof in his pocket! It should be mentioned incidentally that Mr. Moore, an
Irish member in the House of Commons, is to question the Minister on the
treatment of Colonel Burke.
The Echo, a recently founded newspaper, takes an even stronger liberal line
than its companions. It has its own principle which consists of selling for
one penny, whereas all the other newspapers cost twopence, fourpence or
sixpence. This price of one penny forces it on the one hand to make
pseudo-democratic professions of faith so as not to lose its proletarian
subscribers, and on the other hand to make constant reservations in order
to win over respectable subscribers from its competitors.
In its long tirade on O'Donovan Rossa's letter it finished up by saying
that "perhaps even those Fenians who have received an amnesty will refuse
to believe the exaggerations of their compatriots", as if Mr. Kickham, Mr.
Costello and others had not already published information on their
suffering in prison totally in accordance with Rossa's letter! But after
all its subterfuge and senseless evasions The Echo touches on the sore
The "publications by the Marseillaise," it says, "will cause a scandal and
this scandal will spread all round the world. The continental mind is
perhaps too limited to be able to discern the difference between the crimes
of a Bomba and the severity of a Gladstone! So it would be better to hold
an enquiry", and so on.
The Spectator, a "liberal" weekly which supports Gladstone, is governed by
the principle that all genres are bad except the boring one. This is why it
is called in London the journal of the seven wise men. After giving a brief
account of O'Donovan Rossa and scolding him for his aversion to the Bible,
the journal of the seven wise men pronounces the following judgment:
"The Fenian O'Donovan Rossa does not appear to have suffered anything more
than the ordinary sufferings of convicts, but we confess that we should
like to see changes in this regime. It is very right and often most
advisable to shoot rebels. It is also right to deprive them of their
liberty as the most dangerous type of criminals. But it is neither right
nor wise to degrade them."
Well said, Solomon the Wise!
Finally we have The Standard, the main organ of the Tory party, the
Conservatives. You will be aware that the English oligarchy is composed of
two factions: the landed aristocracy and the plutocracy. If in their family
quarrels one takes the side of the plutocrats against the aristocrats one
is called a liberal or even radical. If, on the contrary, one sides with
the aristocrats against the plutocrats one is called a Tory.
The Standard calls O'Donovan Rossa's letter an apocryphal story probably
written by A. Dumas.
"Why," it says, "did the Marseillaise refrain from adding that Mr.
Gladstone, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Mayor were present
each morning while O'Donovan Rossa was being tortured?"
In the House of Commons a certain member once referred to the Tory party as
the "stupid party". Is it not a fact that The Standard well deserves its
title as the main organ of the stupid party!
Before closing I must warn the French not to confuse the newspaper clamour
with the voice of the English proletariat which, unfortunately for the two
countries, Ireland and England, has no echo in the English press.
Let it suffice to say that more than 200,000 men, women and children of the
English working class raised their voices in Hyde Park to demand freedom
for their Irish brothers, and that the General Council of the International
Working Men's Association, which has its headquarters in London and
includes well-known English working-class leaders among its members, has
severely condemned the treatment of Fenian prisoners and come out in
defence of the rights of the Irish people against the English government."'
P.S. As a result of the publicity given by the Marseillaise to O'Donovan
Rossa's letter, Gladstone is afraid that he may be forced by public opinion
to hold a parliamentary public enquiry into the treatment of political
prisoners. In order to avoid this again (we know how many times his corrupt
conscience has opposed it already) this diplomat has just produced, an
official, but anonymous denial of the facts quoted by Rossa.
Let it be known in France that this denial is nothing more than a copy of
the statements made by the prison jailer, police magistrates Knox and
Pollock, etc., etc. These gentlemen know full well that Rossa cannot reply
to them. He will be kept under stricter supervision than ever, but ... I
shall reply to them in my next letter with facts, the verification of which
does not depend on the goodwill of jailers.
La Marseillaise, No. 91
March 21 1870
London, March 18, 1870
As I announced in my last letter Mr. Moore, an Irish member of the House of
Commons, yesterday questioned the government on the treatment of Fenian
prisoners. He referred to the request about Richard Burke and four other
prisoners held in Mountjoy Prison (in Dublin) and asked the government
whether it considered it honourable to hold the bodies of these men after
having deprived them of their senses. Finally, he insisted on a "full, free
and public enquiry".
So here was Mr. Gladstone with his back to the wall. In 1868 he gave an
insolent, categorical refusal to a request to hold an enquiry made by the
same Mr. Moore. Since then he has always replied in the same fashion to
repeated demands for an enquiry.
Why give way now? Should he admit to being alarmed by the clamour on the
other side of the Channel? Never. As to the charges levelled against our
governors of prisons, we have asked them to give a full explanation in this
The latter have unanimously replied that all this is sheer nonsense. Thus,
our ministerial conscience is naturally satisfied. But after the
explanations given by Mr. Moore -- these are his exact words -- it appears
"that the point in question is not exactly satisfaction. That the
satisfaction of the minds of the government derives from its confidence in
its subordinates and, 'therefore', would be both politic and just to
conduct an enquiry into the truth of the jailers' statements".
One day he says this, and the next day says that,
His yesterday's views today he will shelve,
He now wears a helmet, and now a top hat,
A nuisance to others, a bore to himself.
But if he does give way in the end, he does so with a further mental
Mr. Moore demands a "full, free and public enquiry". Mr. Gladstone replies
that he is responsible for the "form" of the enquiry, and we already know
that this will not be a "parliamentary enquiry", but one conducted by means
of a Royal Commission. In other words, the judges in this great trial, in
which Mr. Gladstone appears as the main defendant, are to be selected and
appointed by Mr. Gladstone himself.
As for Richard Burke, Mr. Gladstone states that the government had learnt
of his insanity as early as January 9. Consequently, his honourable
colleague Mr. Bruce, the Home Secretary, lied outrageously by declaring in
his open letter of January 11 that this information was untrue. But, Mr.
Gladstone continues, Mr. Burke's mental disturbance had not reached a
sufficiently advanced stage to justify his release from prison. It must not
be forgotten that this man was an accessory to the blowing up of
Clerkenwell Prison. Really? But Richard Burke was already detained in
Clerkenwell Prison when a number of other people took it into their heads
to blow up the prison in order to free him. Thus he was an accessory to
this ridiculous attempt which, it is thought, was instigated by the English
police and which, if it had succeeded, would have buried him under the
ruins! Moreover, concludes Mr. Gladstone, we have already released two
Fenians who went mad in our English prisons. But, interrupts Mr. Moore, I
was talking about the four insane men detained in Mountjoy Prison in
Dublin. Be that as it may, replies Mr. Gladstone. There are still two
madmen less in our prisons.
Why is Mr. Gladstone so anxious to avoid all mention of Mountjoy Prison? We
shall see in a moment. This time the facts are verified not by letters from
the prisoners, but in a Blue Book published in 1868 by order of Parliament.
After the Fenian skirmish ... the English government declared a state of
general emergency in Ireland. All guarantees of the freedom of the
individual were suspended. Any person "suspected of being suspected of
Fenianism" could thus be thrown into prison and kept there without being
brought to court as long as it pleased the authorities. One of the prisons
full of suspects was Mountjoy Convict Prison in Dublin, of which John
Murray was the inspector and Mr. M'Donnell the doctor. Now what do we read
in the Blue Book published in 1868 by order of Parliament?
For several months Mr. M'Donnell wrote first to Inspector Murray protesting
against the cruel treatment of suspects. Since the inspector did not reply,
Mr. M'Donnell sent three or four reports to the prison governor. In one of
these letters he refers to
"certain persons", -- I am citing word for word -- "who show unmistakable
signs of insanity". He goes on to add: "I have not the slightest doubt that
this insanity is the consequence of the prison regime. Quite apart from all
humane considerations, it would be a serious matter if one of these
prisoners, who have not been sentenced by a court of law but are merely
suspects, should commit suicide."
All these letters addressed by Mr. M'Donnell to the governor were
intercepted by John Murray. Finally, Mr. M'Donnell wrote direct to Lord
Mayo, the First Secretary for Ireland. He told him for example:
"There is no one, my Lord, as well informed as you yourself are on the
harsh discipline to which the 'suspect' prisoners have been subjected for a
considerable time, a more severe form of solitary confinement than that
imposed on the convicts."
What was the result of these revelations published by order of Parliament?
The doctor, Mr. M'Donnell, was dismissed!!! Murray kept his post.
All this took place during the Tory ministry. When Mr. Gladstone finally
succeeded in unseating Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli by fiery speeches in
which he denounced the English government as the true cause of Fenianism,
he not only confirmed the savage Murray in his functions but also, as a
sign of his special satisfaction, conferred a large sinecure, that of
"Registrar of habitual criminals", on his post of inspector.
In my last letter I stated that the anonymous reply to Rossa's letter,
circulated by the London newspapers, emanated directly from the Home
It is now known to be the work of the Home Secretary, Mr. Bruce. Here is a
sample of his "ministerial conscience!"
As to Rossa's complaint that he is obliged "to wash in water which has
already been used for the convicts' ablutions, the police magistrates Knox
and Pollock have declared that after their careful enquiry it would be
superfluous to consider such nonsense", says Mr. Bruce.
Luckily the report by police magistrates Knox and Pollock has been
published by order of Parliament. What do they say on page 23 of their
report? That in accordance with the prison regime a certain number of
convicts use the same bath one after the other and, that "the guard cannot
give priority to O'Donovan Rossa without offending the others". It would,
therefore, be "superfluous to consider such nonsense".
Thus, according to the report by Knox and Pollock, it is not O'Donovan
Rossa's allegation that he was forced to bathe in water which had been used
by convicts that is nonsense, as Mr. Bruce would have them say. On the
contrary, these gentlemen find it absurd that O'Donovan Rossa should have
complained about such a disgrace.
During the same meeting in the House of Commons at which Mr. Gladstone
declared himself ready to hold an enquiry into the treatment of Fenian
prisoners, he introduced a new Coercion Bill for Ireland, that is to say,
the suppression of constitutional freedoms and the proclamation of a state
Theoretical fiction has it that constitutional liberty is the rule and its
suspension an exception, but the whole history of English rule in Ireland
shows that a state of emergency is the rule and that the application of the
constitution is the exception. Gladstone is making agrarian crimes the
pretext for putting Ireland once more in a state of siege. His true motive
is the desire to suppress the independent newspapers in Dublin. From
henceforth the life or death of any Irish newspaper will depend on the
goodwill of Mr. Gladstone. Moreover, this Coercion Bill is a necessary
complement to the Land Bill recently introduced by Mr. Gladstone which
consolidates landlordism in Ireland whilst appearing to come to the aid of
the tenant farmers. It should suffice to say of this law that it bears the
mark of Lord Dufferin, a member of the Cabinet and a large Irish landowner.
It was only last year that this Dr. Sangrado published a large tome to
prove that the Irish population has not yet been sufficiently bled, and
that it should be reduced by a third if Ireland is to accomplish its
glorious mission to produce the highest possible rents for its landlords
and the largest possible quantities of meat and wool for the English
La Marseillaise, No. 99
March 29 1870
London, March 22
There is a London weekly with a wide circulation among the people which is
called Reynolds's Newspaper. This is what it has to say about the Irish
"Now we are regarded by the other nations as the most hypocritical people
on earth. We blew our own trumpets so loudly and so joyfully and
exaggerated the excellence of our institutions so much, that now when our
lies are being exposed one by one it is not at all surprising that other
peoples should ridicule us and ask themselves whether it can be possible.
It is not the people of England who have brought about such a state of
affairs, because the people also have been tricked and deceived -- the
blame lies with the ruling classes and a venal, parasitic press ...... .
The Coercion Bill for Ireland which was introduced on Thursday evening is a
detestable, abominable, execrable measure. This Bill extinguishes the last
spark of national liberty in Ireland and silences the press of this unhappy
country in order to prevent its newspapers from protesting against a policy
which is the crying disgrace of our time. The government wants its revenge
on all those newspapers which did not greet its wretched Land Bill with
transports of delight, and will get it. In effect the Habeas Corpus Act
will be suspended, because from now onwards it will be possible to imprison
for six months or even for life any person who cannot explain his behaviour
to the satisfaction of the authorities.
Ireland has been put at the mercy of a band of well-trained spies who are
euphemistically referred to as "detectives".
Not even Nicholas of Russia ever published a crueller ukase against the
unfortunate Poles than this Bill of Mr. Gladstone's against the Irish. It
is a measure which would have won Mr. Gladstone the good favour of the
famous King of Dahomey. Nevertheless, Mr. Gladstone had the colossal
effrontery to boast in front of Parliament and the nation of the generous
policy which his government is proposing to adopt with regard to Ireland.
At the end of his speech on Thursday Gladstone even went as far as
producing expressions of regret pronounced with a sanctimonious, lachrymose
solemnity worthy of the reverend Mr. Stiggins. But snivel as he may, the
Irish people will not be deceived.
We repeat that the Bill is a shameful measure, a measure worthy of
Castlereagh, a measure which will invoke the condemnation of all free
nations on the heads of those who invented it and those who sanction and
approve it. Finally, it is a measure which will bring well-deserved
opprobrium to Mr. Gladstone and, we sincerely hope, lead to his swift
defeat. And how has the demagogic minister Mr. Bright been able to keep
silent for forty-eight hours?
We state without hesitation that Mr. Gladstone has proved to be the most
savage enemy and the most implacable master to have crushed Ireland since
the days of the notorious Castlereagh.
As if the cup of ministerial shame were not already full to overflowing, it
was announced in the House of Commons on Thursday evening, the same evening
as the Coercion Bill was introduced, that Burke and other Fenian prisoners
had been tortured to the point of insanity in the English prisons, and in
the very face of this appalling evidence Gladstone and his jackal Bruce
were protesting loudly that the political prisoners were treated with all
possible care. When Mr. Moore made this sad announcement to the House he
was constantly interrupted by hoots of bestial laughter. Had such a
disgusting and revolting scene taken place in the American Congress, what a
howl of indignation would have gone up from us!
Up till now the Reynolds's Newspaper, The Times, The Daily News, Pall Mall,
The Telegraph, etc., etc., have greeted the Coercion Bill with shouts of
wild joy, particularly the measure for the destruction of the Irish press.
And all this is taking place in England, the acknowledged sanctuary of the
press. But one should not, after all, be too angry with these new writers.
You will agree that it was too hard to watch The Irishman each Saturday
demolish the tissue of lies and calumny which these Penelopes worked on for
six days of the week with sweat on their brows, and that it is quite
natural that they should give a frantic welcome to the police who come to
tie the hands of their formidable enemy. At least these fine fellows
realise their own collective worth.
A characteristic exchange of letters has taken place between Bruce and Mr.
M'Carthy Downing concerning Colonel Richard Burke. Before reproducing it I
should like to remark in passing that Mr. Downing is an Irish member of the
House of Commons. This ambitious advocate joined the ministerial phalanx
with the noble aim of making a career. Thus, we are not dealing here with a
February 22, 1870
If my information is correct, Richard Burke, one of the Fenian prisoners
formerly held in Chatham Prison, has been transferred to Woking in a state
of insanity. In March 1869 I took the liberty of bringing his state of
apparent ill-health to your notice, and in the following July Mr. Blake,
former member for Waterford, and I informed you of our opinion that if the
system of his treatment were not changed, the worst consequences were to be
feared. I received no reply to this letter. My object in writing to you is
the cause of humanity and the hope of obtaining his release so that his
family may have the consolation of seeing to his needs and mitigating his
suffering. I have in my hand a letter from the prisoner to his brother
dated December 3 in which he says that he has been systematically poisoned,
this being, I imagine, one of the phases of his disease. I sincerely trust
that the kind sentiments for which you are known will urge you to grant
February 25, 1870
Richard Burke was transferred from Chatham as a result of his illusion that
he was poisoned or cruelly treated by the prison medical officers. At the
same time, without him being positively ill, his health deteriorated.
Consequently, I gave orders for him to be moved to Woking and had him
examined by Dr. Meyer from Broadmoor Asylum, who was of the opinion that
his illusion would disappear when his health improved. His health did, in
fact, improve rapidly and an ordinary observer would not have noted any
signs of his mental weakness. I should very much like to be in a position
to give you an assurance of his early release, but am not able to do so.
His crime and the consequences of the attempt to free him are too serious
for me to be able to give you such an assurance. Meanwhile all that medical
science and good treatment can do to restore his mental and physical health
will be done.
H. A. Bruce
February 28, 1870
After receiving your letter of the 25th in reply to my request that Burke
should be handed over to the care of his brother, I hoped to find an
occasion to talk to you on this matter in the House of Commons, but you
were so busy on Thursday and Friday that an interview was out of the
question. I have received letters from a number of Burke's friends. They
are waiting anxiously to hear whether my request has been successful. I
have not yet informed them that it has not. Before disappointing them I
felt "justified" in writing to you again on the matter. I thought that as a
person who has invariably and at some risk denounced Fenianism, I could
permit myself to give a word of impartial, friendly advice to the
I have no hesitation in saying that the release of a political prisoner who
has become mentally unbalanced would not be criticised and certainly not
condemned by the general public. In Ireland people would say: "Well, the
government is not as cruel as we thought." Whereas if, on the other hand,
Burke is kept in prison this will provide new material for the national
press to attack it as being even crueller than the Neapolitan governors in
their worst days. And I confess that I cannot see how men of moderate views
could defend the act of refusal in such a case...
I regret that I am unable to recommend Burke's release.
It is true that he has shown signs of insanity and that in ordinary cases I
would be "justified" in recommending him to the mercy of the Crown. But his
case is not an ordinary one, because he was not only a hardened
conspirator, but his participation in the attempt to blow up Clerkenwell
which, if it had succeeded, would have been even more disastrous than it
was, makes him an improper recipient of pardon.
H. A. Bruce
Could anything be more infamous! Bruce knows perfectly well that if there
had been the slightest suspicion against Colonel Burke during the trial
concerning the attempt to blow up Clerkenwell, Burke would have been hung
next to Barrett who was sentenced to death on the testimony of a man who
had previously given false testimony against three other men, and in spite
of the evidence of eight citizens who made the journey from Glasgow to
prove that Barrett had been there when the explosion had taken place. The
English have no scruples (Mr. Bruce can confirm this) when it is a question
of hanging a man -- especially a Fenian.
But all this spate of cruelty cannot break the iron spirit of the Irish.
They have just celebrated their national holiday, St. Patrick's Day, more
demonstratively than ever in Dublin. The houses were decorated with flags
saying: "Ireland for the Irish!", "Liberty!" and "Long live the political
prisoners!" and the air rang with the sound of their national songs and --
Agrarian Outrages in Ireland
La Marseillaise, No. 113
April 12 1870
London, April 2, 1870
In Ireland, the plundering and even extermination of the tenant farmer and
his family by the landlord is called the property right, whereas the
desperate farmer's revolt against his ruthless executioner is called an
agrarian outrage. These agrarian outrages, which are actually very few in
number but are multiplied and exaggerated out of all proportion by the
kaleidoscope of the English press in accordance with orders received, have,
as you will know, provided the excuse for reviving the regime of white
terror in Ireland. On the other hand, this regime of terror makes it
possible for the landowners to redouble their oppression with impunity.
I have already mentioned that the Land Bill consolidates landlordism under
the pretext of giving aid to the tenant farmers. Nevertheless, in order to
pull the wool over people's eyes and clear his conscience, Gladstone was
compelled to grant this new lease of life to landlord despotism subject to
certain legal formalities. It should suffice to say that in the future, its
in the past, the landlord's word will become law if he succeeds in imposing
on his tenants at will the most fantastic rents which are impossible to pay
or, in the case of land tenure agreements, makes his farmers sign contracts
which will bind them to voluntary slavery.
And how the landlords are rejoicing! A Dublin newspaper, the Freeman,
publishes a letter from Father P. Lavelle, the author of The Irish Landlord
since the Revolution, in which he says:
"I have seen piles of letters addressed to tenants by their landlord, the
brave captain, and 'absentee' living in England, warning them that from now
on their rents are to be raised by 25%. This is equivalent to an eviction
notice! And this from a man who does nothing for the land except live off
The Irishman on the other hand publishes the new tenure agreements dictated
by Lord Dufferin, the member of Gladstone's Cabinet who inspired the Land
Bill and introduced the Coercion Bill in the House of Lords. Add the
rapacious shrewdness of an expert moneylender and the despicable chicanery
of the advocate to feudal insolence and you will have a rough idea of the
new land tenure agreements invented by the noble Dufferin.
It is now easy to see that the rule of terror has arrived just in time to
introduce the rule of the Land Bill! Let us suppose, for example, that in a
certain Irish county the farmers refuse either to allow a 25% rent increase
or to sign Dufferin's land tenure agreements! The county's landlords will
then get their valets or the police to send them anonymous threatening
letters, as they have in the past. This also counts as an "agrarian
outrage". The landlords inform the Viceroy, Lord Spencer, accordingly. Lord
Spencer then declares that the district is subject to the provisions of the
Coercion Act which is then applied by the same landlords, in their capacity
as magistrates, against their own tenants!
Journalists who are imprudent enough to protest will not only be prosecuted
for sedition, but their printing presses will be confiscated without the
semblance of legal proceedings!
It should, perhaps, now be obvious why the head of your executive
congratulated Gladstone on the improvements which he had introduced in
Ireland, and why Gladstone returned the compliment by congratulating your
executive on its constitutional concessions. "A Roland for an Olivier"'
those of your readers who know Shakespeare will say. But others who are
more versed in the Moniteur than in Shakespeare will remember the letter
sent by the head of your executive to the late Lord Palmerston containing
the words "Let us not act like knaves!"
Now I shall return to the question of political prisoners, not without good
The publication of Rossa's first letter in the Marseillaise produced a
great effect in England -- the result is to be an enquiry.
The following dispatch was printed by all the newspapers in the United
"The Marseillaise says that O'Donovan Rossa was stripped naked once a day
and examined, that he was starved, that he was locked in a dark cell, that
he was harnessed to a cart, and that the death of his fellow prisoners was
caused by the cold to which they were exposed."
The Irishman's New York correspondent says:
"The Rochefort Marseillaise has placed the suffering of the Fenian
prisoners before the eyes of the American people. We owe a debt of
gratitude to the Marseillaise which, I trust, will be promptly paid."
Rossa's letter has also been published by the German press. From now
onwards the English government will no longer be able to commit its
outrages in silence. Mr. Gladstone will gain nothing from his attempt to
silence the Irish press. Each journalist imprisoned in Ireland will be
replaced by a hundred journalists in France, Germany and America.
What can Mr. Gladstone's narrow-minded, out-of-date policies do against the
international spirit of the nineteenth century?
The Death of John Lynch
La Marseillaise, No. 118
April 17, 1870
I am sending you extracts from a letter written to The Irishman by an Irish
political prisoner during his detention (he is now at liberty) in a penal
colony in Australia.
I shall limit myself to translating the episode concerning John Lynch.
LETTER FROM JOHN CASEY
The following is a brief, impartial report of the treatment to which my
brother exiles (twenty-four in number) and I were subjected during our
incarceration in that pit of horrors, that living tomb which is called
Above all it is my duty to pay a tribute of respect and justice to the
memory of my friend John Lynch who was sentenced by an extraordinary
tribunal in December 1865 and died at Woking Prison in April 1866.
Whatever may be the cause to which the jury has attributed his death, I
confirm, and am able to furnish proof, that his death was accelerated by
the cruelty of the prison warders.
To be imprisoned in the heart of winter in a cold cell for twenty-three
hours out of twenty-four, insufficiently clad, sleeping on a hard board
with a log of wood as a pillow and two worn blankets weighing barely ten
lbs. as one's only protection against the excessive cold, deprived through
an inexpressibly fine stroke of cruelty of even covering our frozen limbs
with our clothes which we were forced to put outside our cell door, given
unhealthy, meagre nourishment, having no exercise apart from a daily walk
lasting three-quarters of an hour in a cage about 20 ft. long by 6 ft. wide
designed for the worst type of criminals: such privation and suffering
would break even an iron constitution. So it is not surprising that a
person as delicate as Lynch should succumb to it almost immediately.
On arrival at the prison Lynch asked for permission to keep his flannels
on. His request was rudely refused. "If you refuse I shall be dead in three
months," he replied on that occasion. Ah, little did I suspect that his
words would come true. I could not imagine that Ireland was to lose one of
her most devoted, ardent and noble sons so soon, and that I myself was to
lose a tried and tested friend.
At the beginning of March I noticed that my friend was looking very ill and
one day I took advantage of the jailer's brief absence to Ask him about his
health. He replied that he was dying, that he had consulted the doctor
several times, but that the latter had not paid the slightest attention to
his complaints. His cough was so violent that although my cell was a long
distance from his, I could hear it day and night resounding along the empty
corridors. One jailer even told me, "Number 7's time will soon he up -- he
should have been in hospital a month ago. I've often seen ordinary
prisoners there looking a hundred times healthier than him."
One day in April I looked out of my cell and saw a skeleton-like figure
dragging itself along with difficulty and leaning on the bars for support,
with a deathly pale face, glazed eyes and hollow cheeks. It was Lynch. I
could not believe it was him until he looked at me, smiled and pointed to
the ground as if to say: "I'm finished."
This was the last time I saw Lynch.
This statement of Casey's corroborates Rossa's testimony about Lynch. And
it should not be forgotten that Rossa wrote his letter in an English prison
whilst Casey was writing in an Australian penal colony, making any
communication between the two of them quite impossible. However, the
government has just stated that Rossa's assertions are lies. Bruce, Pollock
and Knox even declare "that Lynch was given flannels before he asked for
On the other hand Mr. Casey insists as firmly as Mr. Bruce denies it that
Lynch complained that "even when he was incapable of walking and was forced
to remain in the terrible solitude of his cell his request was refused".
But as Mr. Laurier said in his beautiful speech:
"Let us leave aside human testimony and turn to the testimony that does not
lie, the testimony that does not deceive, the silent testimony."
The fact remains that Lynch entered Pentonville blooming with life, full of
hope and, three months later, this young man was a corpse.
Until Messrs. Gladstone, Bruce and his cohort of police can prove that
Lynch is not dead, they are wasting their time in vain oaths.
Letter from England
La Marseillaise, No. 125
April 24, 1870
London, April 19, 1870
"No priests in politics" is the watchword which can be heard all over
Ireland at the moment.
The large party which has been opposing with all its might the despotism of
the Catholic Church, ever since the "disestablishment" of the Protestant
Church, is growing daily with remarkable rapidity and has just dealt the
clergy a crushing blow.
At the Longford election the clerical candidate, Mr. Greville-Nugent, beat
the people's candidate, John Martin, but the nationalists challenged the
validity of his election because of the illegal means by which it had been
won, and got the better of their opponents. The election of Nugent was
annulled by judge Fitzgerald who declared Nugent's agents, that is to say
the priests, guiIty of having bribed the voters by flooding the country not
with the Holy Spirit, but with spirits of a different kind. It appeared
that in the single month from December 1 to January 1 alone the reverend
fathers had spent L3,500 on whisky!
The Standard allows itself to make some most peculiar comments on the
"With regard to their scorning of the intimidation by the clergy," writes
the mouthpiece of the "stupid party", "the nationalists deserve our
praise.... The great victory which they have won will encourage them to put
tip new candidates against Mr. Gladstone and his ultramontane allies."
The Times writes:
"From the Papal Bull issued in the eternal city to the intrigues of the
country priests, all ecclesiastical power was lined up against Fenianism
and the nationalists. Unfortunately this ardour was not accompanied by
prudence, and will result in a second battle at Longford."
The Times is right. The battle of Longford will break out again and be
followed by those of Waterford, Mallow and Tipperary, the nationalists in
these three counties also having presented petitions requesting the
annulment of the election of the official members. In Tipperary it was
O'Donovan Rossa who first won the election, but since Parliament stated
that he was incapable of representing Tipperary the nationalists proposed
Kickham in his place, one of the Fenian patriots who has just finished a
spell in English prisons. Kickham's supporters are now declaring that their
candidate has been duly elected in spite of the fact that Heron, the
government and clerical candidate, gained a majority of four votes.
Bear in mind, however, that one of these four voters for Heron is a
wretched maniac who was taken to the poll by a reverend father-you know the
weakness which priests have for the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven. And that the second voter is a corpse! Yes, the honest
and moderate party actually dared to profane the name of a man who died a
fortnight before the election by making him vote for a Gladstonian. Apart
from this, patriotic voters say that eleven of their votes were discounted
on the grounds that the first letter of Kickham's name was illegible, that
their telegrams were not delivered, that the authorities were bribing
electors right and left and that a base system of intimidation was
The pressure which was brought to bear in Tipperary was unprecedented even
in the history of Ireland. The bailiff and the policeman, who stand for
eviction warrants, besieged the tenants' hovels in order to terrify wives
and children first. The booths in which the voting took place were
surrounded by police, soldiers, magistrates, landlords and priests.
The latter hurled stones at people who were putting up posters for Kickham.
On top of all this, the moneylender was present in the booths, his eyes
resting hungrily on his wretched debtor during the voting. But the
government got nothing for all its pains. One thousand six hundred and
sixty-eight small tenants braved it out and, unprotected by secret ballot,
gave their votes openly for Kickham.
This brave act reminds us of the heroic struggle of the Poles.
Faced with the battles waged in Longford, Mallow, Waterford and Tipperary,
will anyone still dare to say that the Irish are the abject slaves of the