” ENGLAND’S CARE FOR TRUTH by One who knows both.” (Roger Casement) published by Athol Books. Reviewed by Donal Kennedy in the IRISH POLITICAL REVIEW (August 2018)
This is the second volume of Roger Casement’s Selected Writings published by Athol Books.
The first volume, comprising “The Crime against Europe”, with “The Crime against Ireland,” has not, so far as I know, been much commented on by professional, i.e. paid, academics, columnists or cultural guides, although they are authenticated writings of the man. I would hope they would now read both volumes and comment on them, if only for the pleasure it would give me to challenge the commentators.
Recent comments on Casement by some of them suggest ulterior, even posterior, motives.
Scholars today will tell you that Britain sleepwalked into war in 1914. No doubt the Providence of God guided her steps. Steps such as building the largest and most powerful fleet of warships ever seen, to complement a seemingly infinite Merchant Navy. A Merchant navy which included, in those days of rigid, doctrinaire Laissez Faire, an Admiralty-subsidized ocean liner, The Lusitania,with special features. By happy coincidence, French and British military leaders had already coordinated plans for joint action in a war on Germany.
(It was not Divine Providence or an Act of God, that later exposed Franco/Russian/British collusion for war on the Central Powers and the Ottoman Empire. It was Godless Bolsheviks who captured and unsportingly published the secret treaties and the enticements given and rewards promised to the warmongers.)
Thus, at the outbreak of war Britain’s Royal Navy effortlessly swept German merchant shipping from the world’s oceans and cut German access to transatlantic cables. News and comment uncomplimentary to Britain’s motives, policy and conduct were suppressed. Neutral ships, including American ones, carrying such comment, were seized, searched and robbed of them by the Royal Navy.
Britain’s “paper wall around Ireland” whose destruction was a primary aim of Arthur Griffith when he founded Sinn Fein had proven to be a template for a paper wall around the world.
British Naval Intelligence, secure telegraphic communication and the prompt interception and deciphering of foreign communications saved the sleepwalkers putting too many feet wrong. Moladh go deo le Dia! Besides, the Official Secrets Act was already in place, and the Defence of the Realm Act, was passed by Parliament in a single day (8 August 1914) only four days after the declaration of war. Perhaps sleepwalking Civil Servants had drafted it a long time earlier?
“DORA” was a draconian Act designed to scare critics. It allowed the suppression of newspapers and the internment of critics. To encourage the others the Government an example of Bertrand Russell, a renowned scholar, grandson of Prime Minister Lord John Russell who had presided over Ireland’s Great Hunger, whose family had been ennobled for the savage repression of The Prayerbook Rebellion in Cornwall and enriched by the spoils of the suppressed monasteries in the time of Henry VIII. Russell was interned without trial’
Many Liberal MPs had long opposed Grey’s preparations for war and John Dillon, the Irish Party’s spokesman on foreign affairs had condemned it for years, but when the Party’s Chairman, John Redmond, without consulting Party colleagues or seeking a popular mandate pledged Irish support for the war, Dillon was silenced and Liberal MPs who would have opposed it, and C P Scott’s Manchester Guardian and the Daily News, theretofore opponents of the war policy fell into step with the warmongers.
Advanced Nationalists of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Fein, and Connolly’s Irish Labour Party, apparently did not worry the warmongers. But Roger Casement had an internationally earned reputation as a brave and honest humanitarian who had explored the Belgian Congo and exposed the genocidal cruelties of that supposed benefactor of Africans, King Leopold II of the Belgians, who had enslaved the Africans and murdered upwards of ten millions of them and made himself immensely rich from the rubber extracted there. Casement had walked through the vast jungles there and later did similar hard work in the Amazon basin and exposed similar villainy. He worked for the British Consular Service, was personally well acquainted with Foreign
Secretary Sir Edward Grey and Lord Curzon “that contemptible Cad” and “had met Lloyd George and all the rest of them.”
Casement was not only a critic of John Redmond’s folly and treachery to Ireland. His opposition to Britain’s role in the war arose from concerns wider than his Irish patriotism. He had published letters in Ireland and in the United States and made his way to neutral Norway when his former employers sentenced him to death, without a trial in October 1914. Casement had travelled in dangerous parts where he had made enemies and had taken the precaution of employing a Norwegian ex-seaman, Adler Christensen to help him with his business. The day they landed 29 October 1914, Christensen was seized and bundled intoa car by a couple of hoods who frogmarched him through the back door of the British Legation in Christiania (Oslo) to be interviewed by a staff member who questioned him on his employer’s identity and movements. Christensen gave him no help.
The next day another British goon assailed Christensen and invited him to visit the Legation “where he would hear something good.” Christensen who kept Casement informed, accepted the invitation and was interviewed by the Minister, a Mr Findlay who informed him that if Casement were to disappear, it would be a very good thing for whoever brought it about.
Further interviews followed an on 3 January 1915 the Minister, in writing on Legation paper promised on behalf of his Government £5,000, immunity from prosecution and free passage to America to Christensen the capture of Casement, who had committed no crime under British or Norwegian Law. The Minister had spoken of Casement’s being “knocked on the head” and had himself “had form” in Egypt organising outrages mentioned by Shaw in the Preface to “John Bull’s Other Island”. In addition to the promise of a reward, and expenses paid to Christensen, the Minister gave him a backdoor key to the Legation.
Amongst the many pieces in the Collection is Casement’s letter to Sir Edward Grey, returning the Legation Key,the expenses paid by Mr Findlay to Christensen, a copy of the promise of £5,000, decorations given by the British to Casement, renunciation of his Knighthood and an explanation of his activities.
Casement ensured that copies of his letter appeared in the ContinentalTimes and John Devoy’s Gaelic American in New York. When the British finally murdered Casement in August 1916 in Pentonville they were simply carrying out a sentence passed by the Foreign Office two years earlier.
They were annoyed with the delay and got their revenge by blackening his name, with documents whose provenance has never been explained and which have not been subjected to objective examination.
Casement’s authenticated writings are of universal interest, because Sir Edward Grey and his friends in 1914 launched a war whose repercussions have killed hundreds of millions of people in the past 104 years and may yet see the extinction of all human, animal and plant life on earth,
If indeed we’re all doomed to simultaneous extinction I would hope that the prime movers for that cataclysm, its clear-eyed, heartless prime movers, Sir Edward Grey and colleagues, will have been first exposed to universal execration and the sleepwalking myth will have joined them in the hottest pit in Hell.
End of Review.
Since this review was published I opened David Lloyd George’s War Memoirs. It’s a hefty tome of nearly 1,100 pages .Printed in 1938. Its first Chapter “The Brewing Of The Storm” opens with the following paragraph:
“ 1. FIRST CONTACT WITH FOREIGN AFFAIRS
In the year 1904, on the day when the Anglo-French Entente was announced, I arrived at Dalmeny on a couple of days’ visit to the late Lord Rosebery. His first greeting to me was: ‘Well, I suppose you are just as pleased as the rest of them with this French agreement?’ I assured him I was delighted that our snarling and scratching relations with France had come to an end at last. He replied: ‘You are all wrong. It means war with Germany in the end!’ “
(Rosebery had been Prime Minister in 1894 and 1895. He was a Liberal Imperialist, as was Asquith. Their faction supported the Tories in the Boer War, and in the long preparation for the war on Germany)