George F Dillon.

War of antichrist with the Church and Christian civilization : lectures delivered in Edinburgh in October 1884 online

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effectively than any delusion, or bribe, or persecution which
heresy had been able to invent. They were undermining the
Faith of the people and destroying secretly but surely that love
and respect for the clergy which had distinguished the country
ever since the days of St. Patrick. A paper edited by one of
these men, was circulated for at least two years in the homes
of nearly all the population. It contained, to be sure, much
incitement to revolution ; but it contained also that which in
Lord Palmerston' s eyes compensated for the kind of revolution
Fenians could make a tJiousand fold — it contained the most able,
virulent, and subtle attacks upon the clergy. This paper
remained undisturbed until Palmerston passed away, and affairs in
America made Fenianism a real danger for his successors in
office. Its issues contained letters written in its own office,
but purporting to come from various country parishes, calumniating


many of the most venerable of the priests of the people. Men
who so loved their flocks as to sacrifice all for them during the
famine years — men who had lived with them fi-om youth
to old age, were now so artfully assailed as foes of their country's
liberation, that the people maddened and deluded by such attacks,
passed them on the road without the usual loving salutation
Catholics in Ireland give to and receive from their priests. The
secret sect backed up the action of the newspaper. Its leaders
got the " word of command " for that purpose, and had to be
obeyed. Matters proceeded daily from bad to worse, until at
last Divine Providence manifested clearly the deadly designs
against religion underlying the Fenian movement, and the people
of Ireland recoiled from it and were saved.

And then it was hard to keep, even the leaders themselves,
bad to the end. At death, few of them like to face the God
tliey have outraged, without reconciliation. But in life these
men, like the informers with whom they are so often in alliance,
do desperate things to deceive first, and then, for a passing
interest, to ruin their unfortunate dupes afterwards. For my
own part, I am of opinion that the man Avho deludes a number of
brave young hearts to rush into a murderous enterprise, hopeless
from the outset, is as dangerous as the man who seduces men to
become assassins and then sacrifices their lives to save his own
neck from the halter. At most there is but the difference of
degree in the guilt and malignity of the leaders who urged on
impetuous youth to such risings as those of the snowstorms in
1867, and of the scoundrel who planned assassination, entrapped
and excited the same kind of youth to execute it, and then swore
their lives away to save himself from his justly deserved doom. I
am led to this conclusion inevitably from the account given of the
Fenian rising, by one of the purest Irish patriots of this century,
one just gone amidst the tears of his fellow-countrymen, with stain-
less name, and a career of glorious labour, to his eternal reward.
Mr. Alexander M. Sullivan in his interesting " Story of Ireland "
says :


" There was up to the last a fatuous amount of delusion
'^ maintained by the ' Head Centre ' on this side of the Atlantic,
" James Stephens, a man of marvellous subtlety and wondrous
" powers of plausible imposition ; crafty, cunning, and quite un-
" scrupulous as to the employment of means to an end. However,
" the army ready to hand in America, if not utilized at once,
" would soon be melted away and gone, like the snows of past
"winters. So in the middle of 1865 it was resolved to take
" the field in the approaching autumn.

" It is hard to contemplate this decision or declaration,
" without deeming it either insincere or wicked on the part of
" the leader or leaders, who at the moment knew the real
" condition of affairs in Ireland. That the enrolled members,
" howsoever few, would respond when called upon, was certain
" at any time ; for the Irish are not cowards ; the men Avho
"joined this desperate enterprise were sure to prove themselves
" courageous, if not either prudent or wise. But the pretence of
" the revolutionary chief, that there was a force able to afford the
" merest chance of success, was too utterly false not to be
" plainly criminal.

" Towards the close of 1865 came almost contempora-
" neously the Government swoop on the Irish Revolutionary
" executive, and the deposition — after solemn judicial trial, as
" prescribed by the laws of the society — of O'Mahony, the
" American ' Head Centre,' for crimes and offences alleged to
" be worse than mere imbecility, and the election in his stead of
" Colonel William R. Roberts, an Irish American merchant of
" high standing and honourable character, whose fortune had
" always generously aided Irish patriotic, charitable, or religious
" purposes. The deposed official^ however, did not submit to
" the application of the society rules. He set up a rival
" association, a course in which he was supported by the
" Irish Head Centre ; and a painful scene of factious and
" acrimonious, contention between the two parties thus
"antagonised, caused the English Government to hope — nay,


'' for a moment, fully to believe — that the disappearance of

" both must soon follow."

Mr. A. M. Sullivan, after speaking of the history of the

Fenian movement in America, continues : —

" This brief episode at Ridge way was for the confederated
Irish the one gleam to lighten the page of their history for
1866. That page was otherwise darkened' and blotted by a
record of humiliating and disgraceful exposures in connection
with the Irish Head Centre. In autumn of that year he
proceeded to America, and finding his authority repudiated
and his integrity doubted, he resorted to a course which it
Avould be difficult to characterize too strongly. By way of
attracting a following to his own standard, and obtaining a
flush of money, he publicly announced that in the winter
months close at hand, and before the new year dawned, he
would (sealing his undertaking with an awful invocation of
the Most High) be in Ireland, leading the long-promised
insurrection. Had this been a mere ' intention ' which might
be ' disappointed,' it was still manifestly criminal thus to
announce to the British government, unless, indeed, his resources
in hand were so enormous as to render England's preparations
a matter of indifference. But it was not as an ' intention ' he
announced it and swore to it. He threatened with the most
serious personal consequences any and every man soever, who
might dare to express a doubt that the event would come off
as he swore. The few months remaining of the year flew by ;
his intimate adherents spread the rumour that he had sailed
for the scene of action, and in Ireland the news occasioned
almost a panic. One day, towards the close of December
however, all New York rang with the exposure that Stephens
had never quitted for Ireland, but was hiding from his own
enraged followers in Brooklyn. The scenes that ensued were
such as may well be omitted from these pages. In that bitter
hour thousands of honest impulsive, and self-sacrificing Irish-
men endured the anguish of discovering that they had been


" deceived as never had men been before ; that an idol worshipped
" with phrenzied devotion was, after all, a thing of clay."

The plottings of the " Head Centre," however, were not at
an end. Mr. A. M. Sullivan continues : —

" In Ireland, where Stephens had been most implicitly
believed in, the news of this collapse — which reached early in
1867 — filled the circles with keen humiliation. The more
dispassionate wisely rejoiced that he had not attempted to keep
a promise, the maknig of which was in itself a crime ; but the
desire to wipe out the reproach supposed to be cast on the
whole enrolment by his public defection became so overpowering,
that a rising was arranged to come off simultaneously all over
Ireland on the 5th March, 1867.

" Of all the insensate attempts at revolution recorded in
history, this one assuredly was preeminent. The most extra-
vagant of the ancient Fenian tales supplies nothing more
absurd. The inmates of a lunatic asylum could scarcely have
produced a more impossible scheme. The one redeeming
feature in the whole proceeding was the conduct of the hapless
men who engaged in it. Firstly, their courage in responding
to such a summons at all, unarmed and unaided as they were.
Secondly, their intense religious feeling. On the days imme-
diately preceding the 5tli March, the Catholic churches were
crowded by the youth of the country, making spiritual prepara-
tions for what they believed would be a struggle in which
many would Ml and few survive. Thirdly, their noble humanity
to the prisoners whom they captured, their scrupulous regard
for private property, and their earnest anxiety to carry on their
struggle without infraction in aught of the laws and rules of
honourable warfare.

" In the vicinity of Dublin, and in Tipperary, Cork, and
Limerick counties, attacks were made on the police stations,
several of which were captured by or surrendered to the
insurgents. But a circumstance as singular as any recorded
in history intervened to suppress the movement more effectually



" than the armies and fleets of England ten times told could do
" On the next night following the rising — the Gtli ]\Iarcli — tliere
" commenced a snowstorm which will long be remembered in
" Ireland, as it was probably without precedent in our annals.
" For twelve days and nights without intermission, a tempest of
*' snow and sleet raged over the land, piling snow to the depth
" of yards on all the mountains, streets, and highways. The plan
'' of the insurrection evidently had for its chief feature desultory
" warfare in the mountain districts, but this intervention of the
" elements utterly frustrated the project, and saved Ireland from
'' the horrors of a protracted struggle."

Who that reads over this brief history of the contest between
the Fenian leaders and the priesthood of Ireland, may not see
the wisdom and goodness of the religious guides of the people,
and the reckless cruelty and callousness of the secret society
seducers ? It was a life-and-death struggle. The true friends of
the people could not look on and see them led to ruin of soul and
body. They knew by a Light from on high, more certain than
any that guides ships from danger, the real nature of the
secret conspiracy that laid its meshes to deceive, to ruin, and to
betray. They raised the warning voice, and for this were
secretly assailed, maligned, circumvented, and even threatened
in body, in life, in means, and in character. But the minister
of God is not to be deterred by any such menaces. He that in
the penal days braved the dungeon and the halter for them, and
who every day braves pestilence, want, and death if necessary
for their sakes, who is of them and with them from the cradle
to the grave, whose only interest is their interest, has surely
more claims upon their love and allegiance than any con-
spirator. We learn wisdom from the end of all the secret-
society seducers — men first seduced themselves, and who then
try to seduce others. But surely the Irish people and the young
men of Ireland especially, have had experience enough of the
wUole lot of them. All seduce them into fiital courses under
pretence of benefiting Ireland. Nearly all sell and betray them.



All profit — if profit their wretched gain can be called — by the
folly of our too fervid, too generous, too confiding youth.

Some of these same seducers are found, I am informed, plying
their deadly trade amongst Irish working men in the large
manufacturing districts of England and Scotland. For aught I
know they may be found in this very city or its neighbourhood.
They certainly are no friends of the Irish working man or of
his family. Hopeless and criminal as were the Fenian con-
spiracies, the attempts of these openly lecturing, or worse still,
secretly agitating, secret-society seducers, are much worse.
At best they are idlers who, instead of devoting themselves to
honest toil, find it more congenial and easy to live upon the
''subscriptions" of poor working men, who give to these oily-
tongued vagabonds a portion of their hard earnings " to liberate
Ireland." God help us! To liberate Ireland by means of
such heartless schemers, who would be only too happy to
sell Ireland and their dupes into the bargain, for a wonderfully
small consideration. It is well if these dangerous prowlers do
not do worse and "swear in" some incautious, hot-headed, simple
boys into societies which are seen to eventually brinsf the prison
plank-bed if not the halter. The Irish working man in England,
in Scotland, or in America, has no worse enemy than these
itinerant agitators who perambulate the country, creating
excitement at one time, and encouraging secret-society practices
at another. They render the condition of the Irish working
man often intolerable. They lead him from home and to tlie
public house. They encourage him in the worst possible habits
for himself and his little fiimily. They drag him from his God,
from his religion, and often to his ruin. The best way, believe
me, for the Irish working-man to serve Ireland in this country
is to keep strictly sober, to mind his employment, to attend well
to the Catholic education of his children, to live frugally, to
practise economy, to become a respectable member of society.
He will then have a voice and a voice that will be heard in the
land, and when he comes to use the franchise he will benefit his


fellows, and do something real and tangible in the Parliament
of England, to serve Ireland. The victim of the secret society
agitators is kept in liis vices and drunkeimess. He is never
religions. He lives in rags and wretchedness, and dies in the
workhouse or in the gaol.


The sad ending of Conspirators.

Nor can there be a spectacle presented by histojy more
sad than the fate of the unfortunate Fenian leaders. The Irish
who have died directly for their faith in the dungeon,
on the rack, or upon the gibbet, have had the crowning
consolation of martyrdom and the bright light of heaven when
their sufferings were over. Those who fell victims of extermination,
of hunger, want, and exile, might, at least indirectly, trace their
sorrows to the same cause — grand, unalterable fidelity to the
Church of God. The martyr's hope lit up their lives. The joy
they had even in famine, even in death, no man could take from
them. From their perishing bodies came forth the radiance of
immortality. Their souls, naturally, the noblest souls, the most
gitted, the very purest, given by God to this earth, conquered
the very world that scorned and crucified them, with Him they
loved and feared not to follow. They endured the pangs of
starvation, cold and rags just as they did the gaol, the fever-
ship, and the gallows, with a sublime, godlike fortitude. Godlike,
for it came from God indeed. Who ever heard' of one of these
millions of slowly- tormented victims seeking death by suicide —
the remedy of the disbeliever? Who ever knew of one of them
to seek to lengthen life by means which a section now condones,
indeed half praises, in the case of the no more than equally tried
man-slayers and cannibals in a shipwreck ? Who that
remembers tlie dread years of the great famine of '47 and '48
does not know of thousands and of tens of thousands of Irishmen
and Irishwomen, aye, of Irish little children, that then laid down
their lives in horrible agonies, sooner than receive from a hellish


so-called " charity " the food, clothing, and patronage that would
enable them to live in comfort, — a "charity" which callous
proselytizers offered everywhere at the price of one single act of
apostasy — at the price of even eating meat on a Friday in
contempt of God's Church ? I myself have known of such
cases. And I have seen this. I have seen downright honest
pity manifested by these same starving but noble people of G-od
for the rich man who lived in wealthy splendour, and then died
in a great liouse near them, when they knew that by want of the
Faith he ought to have, his life was without hope and his eternity
without God. Never since the days of Christ did a whole
people realize more vividly or act more truly upon the teaching
conveyed in the parable of the rich man lost and Lazarus saved.
The long eternity of hell, the Avant of the drop of water, never
to be obtained, the eternal contempt and the eternal pain
awaiting the sumptuously-living sinner, was no myth. It came
from the mouth of Him who had the knowledge of the fact,
because he was the Creator and the Judge. As vividly came
the vision of their own bright, peaceful, wealthy rest, figured by
the lot of Lazarus reposing in a bosom far brighter, far sAveeter
than that of Abraham — in the Heart of Jesus Christ, in the
beautiful vision of God, in the embrace of Mary, the loved
Mother of Ireland — and so these millions passed peacefully
through the dark valley of famine, until, worn and weary, their
bodies sank like the rain drops, forgotten, beneath the green
sward of Erin, and their souls passed for ever to the joy of the
blest. How different is the case of the few apostates amongst
them who sold their faith ! Who may not tell of the agony
of mind, the desolation, the suicides of these ? But next to
them in melancholiness is the fate of the Irishman who first
begins to listen to the seducer of the secret society, and
afterwards becomes himself a seducer, a leader, perhaps a traitor,
in the deadly, secret conspiracy to ruin religion, to destroy God.
His career is often this : At first a hopeful, young, ambitious
student of his country's history, he begins to feel indignation at


her wrongs, and wishes to right them. In a fatal hour he meets
the tempter. He is sworn into the terrihle sect. He gets a
command, an importance in the organization. He is youthful,
but the season of life wherein to make an honest livelihood passes
rapidly in intrigue. He knows that the course into which he has
Mien is bad, is injurious to religion, but he hopes to repent. Alas !
little by little his conscience, his Faith passes from him. The
day comes surely when he realizes his sad position, and knows
the advice of the Church to be right. But having lived his best
days to conspire, he now must " conspire to live," and inured
to bad habits, he is at last ready for anything. Like the wretch
who preys upon the little left to the Irish emigrant, now as a
guide, now as a broker in New York or Liverpool, he, too, will
wrench by every means fraud can devise the hard earnings of
the poor, under pretence of injuring England, if not of liberating
Ireland. He will stop at nothing, and so the existing conspirator
is made. He has no further scruple to join if he can the
worst class of the Atheistic and Socialist plotters of Paris. He
herds with them. And this is strange, for while the Irish
conspirator may be as able to plot mischief as the worst of the
miscreants with whom he associates in France, he differs from
them in this, that in the secret of his soul he never loses
his Faith. They know this well, and they watch him, use him,
but never fully trust him. Many a broken Irish' heart the
children of the Revolution in Paris have made already. Many
a one of those Irish victims wish again for the days of his boyish
innocence and blessed faith. A life wasted, hopes blasted,
happiness departed, a cheerless, neglected, old age, are little
recompense for the free-thought and free-act which a
system of Atheism and irreligion, never really believed in, con-
ferred upon any Catholic Irishman.



The Triumph of Irish Faith.

The secret society onslaught on the attachment of the
people of Ireland to their spiritual guides and to their ancient
faith was treacherous, deadly, and long-continued. But,
thank heaven ! the Church in Ireland, has survived the
shock, terrible though it was. My own Archbishop — at present,
happily for Australia, placed by the Holy Father over
that extensive portion of the vineyard — a Prelate who knows
the Ireland of history better, I would say, than any living mnn,
and the Ireland of the pi-esent day, as well, certainly,
assured me that nevei' since the days of St. Patrick was the
Faith stronger in the country than at the present moment.
The frequentation of the sacraaients was at no past period more
general — if ever as general. Pious Confraternities spread
their blessed influence everywhere. Temperance is progressing.
The clergy, numerous and well supported by the people,
enlighten all by the purity, self-denial, and laboriousness of
theii' lives. They visit their people in every home, no matter
how poor, in every cabin, in every garret. They are, as ever, of
and with the people. Their little means are freely given to every
want of education and religion, and, as far as these means can go, to
the poor. This is a condition of things that must continue to
bind the priests to the people, and the whole Church of Ireland
to God. These holy pastors, whom every tie of nature, affection,
and duty, bind to the Irish people, are the guides who have
been with them for ages. Numerous, intelligent, learned,
patriotic in the highest degree, sons of the saints, they alone
can lead God's people aright. They have done so, and sad must
be the hour when miserable adventurers, seeking their own gains,
can so delude a nation as to seduce them from the side of God's
anointed, to what did prove, and must ever prove, if pursued by
the Irish people against the loving and intelligent advice of the
Irish priests, " a mockery, a delusion, and a snare." The time


is come, however, when using their own intelligence Irishmen
will everywhere be able to resist the wiles and temptations of
the secret society seducer, and think for themselves. The leaders,
the fathers who have never deceived them, whose advices are
always given for their best advantage, who suffered and died
for them in the past, and are ready to do so in the present and
in the future, are the clergy of Ireland, led l)y the Bishops of
Ireland, and all follownig the infallible teachings of the Vicar of
Jesus Christ. God grant that this guidance may never fail ;
that the day may never dawn when it will not be heeded ; and
that the race of wretched men who have so often in the past
ensnared generous-hearted, Catholic Irishmen in Ireland, in
Great Britain, in America, and elsewhere, may end for ever.
From such false agents and fi-om the machinations of all enemies
to Irish Faith, we well may pray, God Save Ireland !

I have no doubt whatever, but this our prayer will be
heard. We only want a knowledge of the evil to avoid it. Even
from what I have said this evening — and I have only stated
plain, unvarnished facts — it must be evident that all secret
societies and societies aiming at bad and irreligious ends are no
other than deadly Illuminated Freemasonry. Let them be called
by whatever name, they are a part of the system of secret
revolutionary fraud, invented and cast upon the earth by Satan
to compass the ruin of souls, and the destruction of the reign of
Jesus Christ. They are of the same kind as the Black Hand in
Spain, as the Commune of Paris, as the Nihilism that now
dominates in Eussia. With such associations the children of
God have only one duty to discharge. It is : so for from giving
them any countenance or support, to oppose them by every
means possible. I believe their strength has spent its force
in Ireland. It only remains that the Irish abroad, who
have crossed the seas to find a home, an honest living, and an
honourable fortune if they can in this and in other lands,
should, as I have just advised, stand on their guard against
emissaries who, under pretexts as seductive as those used by


the Fenian leaders to lead our countrymen to ruin, or by
that degraded seducer of brave, but heedless and passionate
young men, Carey, to drag his victims to murder and the gallows,
may come to whisper words of conspiracy and lead fir astray.
The Catholic who hears the invitation from any quarter, were it

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Online LibraryGeorge F DillonWar of antichrist with the Church and Christian civilization : lectures delivered in Edinburgh in October 1884 → online text (page 16 of 26)