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When the news of his execution was proclaimed, a woman wept in the street. “Ah, poor Tom MacDonagh,” she said. "And he would n't have hurt a fly!"
I do not know what dream these men had in their minds, but this much is cer tain, there was nothing unclean or mean about their motives. I think they were foolish men, and I think they did incalculable harm to their country; but whatever was their belief, they were prepared to suffer the hardest test for it-the test of death.
slightly receding chin that caused his short, tightened upper lip to look indrawn and strained; and the big, ungainly, jutting ears consorted oddly with the serious look of high purpose that marked his face in repose. It was as though Puck had turned poet and then had turned preacher. One looked at the fleshy lower lip and the jutting ears, and thought of a careless, impish creature; one looked at the shapely, pointing nose and the kindly, unflinching eyes, and thought of a man reckless of himself in the pursuit of some fine purpose.
“We did not come here to surrender," some of the rebels said to an envoy, carrying a white flag, who came to demand their surrender; “we came here to die." And when their stronghold was subsequently taken, only one man out of twenty-three was still alive, and he died soon afterward.
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THE rebellion was virtually over on the Saturday following Easter Monday, but for the best part of the succeeding week there was still some difficult work to be done in rounding up the snipers who had taken to the roofs of houses. In places like Merrion Square they were virtually immune from discovery. They could run along the roofs, hidden by parapets, and fire on the troops with the minimum chance of detection: but their position was a hopeless one. Death or discovery was inevitable, and in a few days the last of
the snipers was taken.
About the middle of the second week I was able to get across O'Connell Bridge
THE STORY OF THE IRISH REBELLION
into O'Connell Street. The official name of O'Connell Street is Sackville Street. A soldier told me that Ypres was not much worse than O'Connell Street was. An American lady who had seen Louvain said that that town was not more battered and broken than the heart of Dublin. One saw a huddle of torn walls and twisted girders and rusty rails and stones and ashes. I went hurriedly to Marlborough Street, and found that the Abbey Theater had marvelously been untouched, though the houses immediately facing it were in ruins. The Royal Hibernian Academy, where an exhibition of pictures was being held, was a heap of cinders. One had to walk warily because the ground was covered with hot ashes, and if one was not careful, one sank into them and was burned.
One wall of a house near the theater still stood, and it contained the fireplace. There was a kettle sitting on the hob, and on the mantelpiece were two delf ornaments, uninjured, and a clock; and by the side of the fireplace a photograph frame was hanging, a little askew. The postoffice was gutted; the Imperial Hotel and the offices of the "Freeman's Journal" were level with the street. One looked around that pitiful pile of broken shops and houses, at the broken wires and burned-out tram-cars and shattered walls, and wondered what was to be the end of it all. High-minded men had led romantic boys to a futile enterprise, and the end of their work was a smashed city and a ruined population.
Thomas MacDonagh, they say, was urgent against the rebellion, and so was The O'Rahilly, but the voting went against them, and they submitted to that overruling and joined their friends. The O'Rahilly was killed in the fighting at the post-office. Thomas MacDonagh died, as he had lived, with a high heart. So did they all.
ONE thinks of three big rebellions in Ireland and of their failures. The first failed because there were no leaders good enough for the followers they had; the second
39 failed because the followers were not good enough for the leaders they had. In this third rebellion leaders and followers were worthy of one another, matchless in spirit and devotion; but they had not the people behind them, and they had to fight an immeasurably superior force. And the third rebellion is, we pray, the last rebellion. MacDonagh and Pearse and all who followed them had found their highest aspiration in the desire to die for Ireland. There are other Irishmen who turn away from that ambition and look hopefully to a harder fight in which they shall spend themselves not in the hope of dying for Ireland, but in the hope of living for her.
That fortnight of ruin and rebellion was passed in sunshine and sweet mountain airs. One looked at the trees in St. Stephen's Green, and saw them spreading out their fresh foliage, and wondered how men could be content to lurk in their shade with loaded rifles in their hands. Now and then the wild fowl in the lake cluttered in fright; but mostly they flew about their domain, untroubled by the hatreds of humans. The warmth of spring was everywhere except in human. things; and when the rebellion was over, suddenly the skies slackened, and there was heavy rain for three days. The end of all that misery has not yet come. A man said to me that MacDonagh had no hope of a military success, but that he had every hope of a spiritual success. One wonders, and, wondering, thinks that so much devotion and generosity of ideal and high purpose might more worthily have been used. There is an old, ignoble phrase which has often been bandied about by Irish politicians: England's necessity is Ireland's opportunity. It is hardly an exalted sentiment even when one allows for the circumstances of Irish history, and it is the tragedy of this rebellion that noble-minded men sought to prove the truth of a mean phrase. Perhaps in a different way than that for which they hoped their ideal may be achieved, and Ireland yet come to unity, joined in honorable friendship with England.
one," and he offered a walking-stick to me. I looked at the stick and I looked at the looters, and I said, "No." It was characteristic of "Skeffy," as he was called in Dublin, that he should behave like that. The pacifist in him would not permit him to use force to restrain the looters, though one might have thought that the logician. in him would have regarded a walkingstick as a weapon; but the hero in him compelled him, for the honor of his country, to do something to restrain them. On the previous day he had harangued them from the top of a tram-car, reminding them that they were Irish, and bidding them not to loot for the sake of Ireland's honor; and they had stopped looting-until he had gone away. To-day his proposal was to overawe them with walking-sticks. Here indeed, I could not but think, was Don Quixote charging the windmills yet another time!
I imagine that he was unsuccessful in his efforts, for later on in the afternoon I saw him pasting slips of paper on the walls of O'Connell Bridge. The slips bore an appeal to men and women of all parties to attend the offices of the Irish Suffrage Society in Westmoreland Street and enroll themselves as special constables to maintain order. I never saw Francis Sheehy Skeffington again. That evening. That evening he was taken by a lunatic officer and shot in Portobello Barracks.
By this time the soldiers in Dublin had been reinforced, and troops were already hurrying from England. All that evening, as far as I could see, there was no stir in the green; but the firing was heavier than on the previous day, and all over the city there was a persistent banging of bullets. The windows on the ground floor of the Shelbourne were full of bullet-holes, and the wall of the Alexandra Club on the west side of the green was covered with the marks of bullets. That afternoon I had seen a dead Sinn Feiner lying inside the gate of the green that looks down Grafton Street, lying face downward in a hole in the earth, and I wondered whether he was the man I had
seen the day before, intently watching, while the girls chaffed him.
And while I was peering through the railings at the dead man, some one came up and said to all of us who were there:
"Poor chap! Let's get him out and bury him!" There were three women from the slums standing by, and one of them, when she heard what he said, rushed at him and beat him with her fists and swore at him horribly.
"No, you'll not get him out," she yelled. "Let him lie there and rot, like the poor soldiers!"
That speech was typical of the general attitude of the Dublin people toward the Sinn Feiners. Popular feeling was dead. against them. Here was a singular rebellion, indeed! Men had risen against a power which they could not possibly beat in behalf of people who did not wish for their championship! Wherever I went in Dublin in the first days of the rebellion. I heard the strongest expressions of hatred for the Sinn Fein movement. There was a feeling of remarkable fury against the Countess Marckevitz, remarkable because this lady had spent herself in feeding and succoring poor people during the 1911 strike, and one would have imagined that some feeling of gratitude would have saved her from the insults that were uttered against her. A strange, incalculable woman, born of an old Irish family, she had thrown herself into all kinds of forlorn hopes. It was said of her that her most ardent desire was to be the Joan of Arc of Ireland, that she might die for her country.
ON Easter Tuesday night, about ten o'clock, the soldiers on the top floor of the Shelbourne began to use machine-guns, and the fire from them went on, I think, for an hour. Up to then we had heard only the sound of rifles, and it was a very unimpressive sound. If this was war, we thought to ourselves, then war is an uncommonly dull business. We became bored by bullets. When the surprise of the rebellion was over, most of us became irritable. We could not get about our
ordinary affairs, we could not take our customary pleasures, and the rebellion itself had become flat.
But the rattle of machine-guns made us all sit up. The marrow in our spines seemed to be crawling about in search of a hiding-place. I do not know to what to compare the sound that a discharging machine-gun makes. Some one said to me that it resembles the noise of a lawnmower which has been turned upside down; but to me it sounded like the noise made by a stick which is drawn rapidly along railings. One sat there, frankly afraid, and imagined a perpetual flow of bullets pouring across the green, killing and wounding and terrifying. One wondered, too, whether the wooden shutters were stout enough to keep out ricochetting bullets. The sensible thing to do, of course, was to keep to the back of the house, or, at all events, as far from the front windows as possible; but one does
not do the sensible thing in such times. Instinctively, one rushed to the window to look out when a shot was fired, as instinctively as the crowds in London, despite official warnings, rush into the streets to look at the Zeppelins. The overmastering desire to see what is happening will draw the most craven to the scene of disaster, and that accounts, no doubt, for the fact that people went every day to "see the fighting" in Dublin, and could not be persuaded to keep indoors until the rebellion had been suppressed.
That night, that Easter Tuesday night, was, I think, the worst of all the nights. It was the first time we had heard the noise of machine-guns, and it was the only night that a lengthy spell of firing took place in that part of the city. If rebels remained inside the green, their terror must have been akin to madness. I wondered vaguely what had happened to the three little girls whom I had seen busy
there on Monday. I suppose they had been sent away on Monday, but if they had endured the rake of that fire
I CANNOT remember now on what day the great fire of Dublin began. I think it was on Thursday. There were rumors that the Helga had come up the Liffey and shelled Liberty Hall, and I was told that the Abbey Theater was lying in ruins; but it was impossible to get near O'Connell Street or obtain any reliable information as to what had happened. There were soldiers on the roof of Trinity College, commanding the general postoffice and also the rebel strongholds in Dame Street, and the fire from their rifles and machine-guns made the approach to O'Connell Bridge a no-man's-land. One went down to the firing-line every day, and repeated all the rumors that one had gathered on the way.
And then the fire began. I stood at the window of my bedroom and looked at a sky that was scarlet with flame. The whole of O'Connell Street and many of the contiguous streets were like a furnace, roaring and rattling as roofs fell in a whirlpool of sparks that splashed high in the air. The finest street in Europe was consumed in a night.
All this was in the center of the city. In outlying places fierce fighting continued, and many men on both sides were killed and wounded; but of these things I knew nothing beyond what I subsequently read in the newspapers. I was bound inside the city, just beyond the zone of flames, and here there was little firing left. I could still see the republican flag floating over the College of Surgeons, but those who were inside the college were keeping very still. Now and then the soldiers in the Shelbourne fired spasmodically, and we could hear the sound of heavier and more regular firing farther off; but for us, there was chiefly the flames flowing skyward from O'Connell Street. Almost one was glad that the looters had secured some of the stuff that would otherwise have been fuel in that terrible fire. No one can tell what caused the fire.
Some say that it was started by looters, either intentionally or accidentally, and some say that it was caused by the explosion of shells or ammunition. It is, I think, more likely that a careless looter began it.
IN a few days Dublin became a city of nurses and doctors and ambulances. Wherever one went, one saw men with Red Cross badges on their sleeves, hurrying continually. Motor-cars, with large Red Cross flags flying at their sides, rushed about the town, laden with nurses and doctors and medical students, and every now and then an ambulance came swiftly to a hospital door, and some wounded man or woman or child was carried from it.
On the Saturday following the beginning of the rebellion I walked out of Dublin to see a friend, and when I was returning in the evening I heard that some of the rebels had surrendered. A man came along the road, riding a bicycle furiously, and as he passed he leaned forward a little and shouted, "They've surrendered!" and then went on. We had been heavy in our minds until then. The rebellion was getting on our nerves, and we were pessimistic about the future of Ireland. News had come to us, too, that a friend, a man of unique value to Ireland, had narrowly escaped death by accidental shooting. shooting. He had miraculously escaped all injury, but the shock of his danger hurt our spirits. And then came the news of the surrender, and suddenly the heaviness lifted. We doubted the truth of the news, but even in that state of dubiety there was relief. It seemed to us that the air became clearer, that there was a noticeable look of recovered happiness everywhere. When we came to the outer suburbs of the city we saw groups of people standing at corners, talking animatedly. "It must be true," we said, and hurried to join one of the groups; but as we hurried we heard the dull noise of rifles being fired, and the joy went out of us, and our pace slackened.
But the news was true. Some of the
rebels had surrendered. Thomas MacDonagh and P. H. Pearse, finding themselves in an impossible plight, decided to surrender, and thus prevent the loss of
more lives. A friend of mine, a member of the viceregal court, who witnessed the surrender told me afterward that Thomas MacDonagh came to the surrendering