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The Rev. Robert Laird Collier, formerly a prominent minister in Chicago, but now a resident of England, in a letter to a Chicago daily paper says, “England is panic-stricken. Dynamite, dynamite, dynamite everywhere. The queen dare not move from Windsor Castle, which is doubly guarded, and the public for the first time in years are debarred entrance upon these royal precincts. You have heard of the arrests in Birmingham and London of the men who have been manufacturing nitro-glycerine in such large quantities, and who have been caught just in time to save London from wide-spread and horrible disaster. But you have not heard across 4,000 miles of land and water the echo of the feeling in England. The feeling is very complex. The public press suppresses this feeling, as it deems, in the interest of social order. All sober minded persons look upon this Fenian plot to carry on assassination wide-spread, with detestation and horror. The full power and penalty of the law must be used and enforced. All this goes without saying. But the dominant conviction is that we are just at the beginning of a European political and social revolution. The old regime is drawing to its close. It is given out, that never again will a crown be permitted to be placed upon a head in Europe. Men who are sober and prophetic as was Isaiah, solemn and as pathetic as was Jeremiah, call the world to order. “Halt!” All along the lines these men are shouting “Halt!”
Education, steam, electricity have introduced man to man all over Europe. Man is in solemn conclave. In London—in its streets, its clubs, its galleries, among all sections of society, men are propounding questions in social statics that no philosophy can answer, except just one: Social revolution!
The wrongs of Ireland are venerable and heinous. England has been strong and confident. The wrongs of Ireland have been recognized and redress promised. As far back as 1842 a royal commission reported to parliament in favor of certain reforms in Ireland. Bill after bill has for these forty years been introduced looking to reformatory legislation, and they have either been defeated or dropped.
Englishmen own Ireland. These few thousand land owners have, up to now, exacted every farthing of rent in good years and bad years, and have spent their money in England. Ireland has been villainously governed and socially ill-used. So to the end, would Ireland have been governed and ill-used had she not made her voice heard in the land. But really the Irish question, momentous as dynamite is causing it to be, is but a small factor in this general European revolution.
Within gun’s shot of Buckingham palace men and women are dying—not figuratively, but actually—of starvation. What redress have the people? How can they make themselves heard? Parliament is the legislature of the rich, and men who oppose these venerable wickednesses are counted as eccentric, as agitators, as dangerous.
There is no newspaper of influence in London, if in England, that raises its power against these legislative wrongs. The tongues of the platform, and the
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press, and the pulpit are bribed by social considerations.
Dynamite is horrible. Assassination hideous. These are one way that men are making themselves heard. The press, the platform, the pulpit are closed to their cause.”
— January, 1884 —