IRISH IDEAS

By William O'Brien

Page 112

TOLERATION IN THE FIGHT FOR IRELAND [1]

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A PHILOSOPHER once observed that men are apt to have less charity for those who believe in half of their creed than for those who deny the whole of it. The observation is especially true of politics in our day, and is true, to an aggravated degree, of Irish politics. Political bigotry has increased in the proportion in which religious intolerance has diminished; and with far less justification than could be quoted for the excesses of religious warfare. Religious truth is a matter of eternal concern, and appeals to a Divine sanction. Political truth is the most dubious and changeable of all the sciences. It has sects without number. Its tenets and boundaries are shifting with every generation. Nevertheless, men who would call it mediaeval bigotry to persecute their neighbours for differences about points of theology are sometimes disposed to consider it the first of public virtues to display intolerance towards those of our countrymen who differ from us in complicated political controversies: to attribute to them the motives of knaves, and to reply to them with words as harsh as paving-stones, and in extreme cases even with paving-stones without the words. We have arrived at a stage in Irish affairs at which it occurred to me some national benefit might be ...continue reading »


[1] Lecture delivered before the Belfast Young Ireland Society, Nov. 2, 1892.

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