CELT document E900002-054

Notes on the Front [23 October 1915]

James Connolly

Edited by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

Notes on the Front [23 October 1915]

Notes on the Front


23 October 1915

“Where the treasure is there the heart is also.” So said an old proverb, and its truth was never more apparent than it has been since the present war began. Since that witches' cauldron was stirred up we have seen the most extraordinary somersaults thrown by men and nations, and the most careful study of conditions cannot reveal any other reason for the somersaulting than the overmastering love of treasures.

Consider the case of France. France is the mother of European democracy, the apostle of the right of rebellion, the century-long sword of the revolution of peoples. England, which struts before the world as the home of the Mother of Parliaments, has in reality been chiefly engaged in evolving a system of government in which there should be the greatest semblance of freedom, and the least practical control by the democracy of the essentials of freedom. Witness the absolute power vested in the Cabinet, despite the fact that the Cabinet is quite outside the Constitution, and unknown to British Law.

America has since its own foundation as a nation, the United States, been ever opposed to all revolutionary movements elsewhere; and fettered the free development of its own citizens by means of a Supreme Court to which all laws are amenable. The decision of an overwhelming majority of the electors of the United States upon any particular question can be upset and rendered null and void by five members of the Supreme Court.


But France, the example of France, the free spirit of France, the human outlook of France, the glorious tradition of France – all combined to make France the beau idéal among the nations of all lovers of liberty.

Ever since the Revolution this has been the lot of France – to inspire and enthuse rebels everywhere, and everywhere to lend keenness to the blades of whosoever struck out for Freedom.

But since the great defeat of 1870 – a great defeat brought upon France by the rule of an unscrupulous despot and murderer, Napoleon III, brought upon France by that despot waging a criminal and foolish dynastic war upon a matter in which his subjects had no earthly interest, viz: the succession to the throne of Spain – since then France has been gradually turning her back upon her glorious past, and uniting with forces that stood for all those things in warring against which her revolutionary children had made her name immortal.

France has been the incarnation of Freedom, Russia has been the embodiment of brutal and soulless despotism. They were as far as the poles asunder. But there came a time when Russia borrowed money in France, when French bankers coaxed thrifty French peasants to empty their stockings of the hoards of sorely accumulated coins, and lend them to the Czar's government at good rates of interest. And the peasants yielded to the lure – the thrifty republicans lent gold to the spendthrift despot.

If you lend money to a man you do not like to hear of him losing his job the next week; if you lend money to a business house you do not like to hear of it putting up its shutter and going into bankruptcy. No, until you get your money back you want that man to stop at his job, that house to keep its doors open, and its business flourishing.

England has flourished because she owed money everywhere, her national debt was the biggest in the world, and every one who had bought a share in that debt, or lent England money was anxious that the British Empire should not go down lest their money should go down along with her.

The Russian despot borrowed money from the French Republicans, and gradually the fear lest they should lose their money so worked upon the minds of the republicans that they dreaded the advent of a republic in Russia, and lent more money to keep the despot on his throne, and aid him in crushing in blood the aspirations of those who  p.180 wanted in Russia the same Republican Freedom as the French enjoyed in France.

It was a situation to make the Devil grin. The great Russian Revolution of 1905 was only crushed by means of the monies lent to the Czar by the French Republicans; it was the children of revolutionary France that enabled the blood-soaked despot to overthrow the Duma, and fill his jails to overflowing with the bravest, best and most enlightened of his subjects

Out of that horrible situation has grown the participation of France in this War. The money-lenders of France force their nation into war that they might not lose the money they lent to the Czar to enable him to destroy the Russian Revolution. Gallant France, liberty-loving France, revolutionary France, with its free spirit, its human outlook, its glorious tradition does not make this war, although it suffers and fights in it. The France that makes this war is the France of the capitalists, the money-lenders' France whose one great enthusiasm and ideal is that their dividends upon Russian loans be paid though millions perish, and the child of Freedom be strangled in its cradle.

“Where the treasure is there the heart is also.” Over the Atlantic we are beholding the first stages in the similar process of corrupting the hearts of a people. America has taken up a Billion Dollar Loan to the Allies. Henceforth America is no passive onlooker at the struggles of Europe. Her heart will ever follow her treasures, and the splendid neutrality of the past will be followed by an excited and selfish interest in the fortunes of European wars.

The fathers of the American Revolution laid down the axiom that the United States should make no 'entangling alliances'. The last great message of George Washington to his countrymen embodied that advice, and for over a century it has guided American statesmen.

Following that advice America remained the hope and the refuge of all European rebels against tyranny, and the shining example to the world of a nation seeking only a peaceful intercourse with others.

The greatest and most insidious enemy of that policy of America has ever been the statesmen of the British Empire. Without ceasing they have ever striven to lure the United States into an alliance with Great Britain – an Anglo-Saxon Alliance as they phrased it, coolly ignoring the fact that the  p.181 Anglo-Saxon strain in American blood is but a poor stream in a mighty ocean of many powerful currents.

But the real American spirit has ever been too strong for this attempt to succeed, and America has grown strong in peace, and mighty through the strength of her own industry and resources.

But the rulers of the British Empire have many strings to their bow, and in the attempt to snare a nation are the most sleepless hunters the world has ever known.

Where the politician could not succeed, where the most wily diplomat was worsted, the financier has succeeded. An appeal to the cupidity of American capitalists has resulted in these gentry betraying their nation's best interests, as capitalists will ever sell for gold any human or holy cause.

America lends money to enable the Allies to pay for war, as America made munitions to enable the Allies to make war.

Consider the hellish irony of it all! The All Lies buy munitions of war from America, and propose to pay for them with monies borrowed from America.

It is like as if you bought a suit of clothes and proposed to pay for them with money borrowed from the tailor who made them. Did you ever try it?

The result is that all the powerful financial interests in America – the Steel Trust, the Armament makers, the Bankers, the manufacturers of Army requirements, all will henceforth be pledged to keep America on the side of the Governments of France, England, or Russia in every war or domestic revolution in which these latter may be engaged.

And that means that all the small investors with whose money those great sharks are gambling will slowly, almost imperceptibility, but surely and inevitably have all their sympathies drawn from the side of freedom towards that side which makes for the security of the Governments to whom their money has been lent.

“Where the treasure is there the heart is also.” America is no longer free of entangling alliances: America is committed to the worst kind of an alliance, that alliance of sordid interests in whose grasp French Republicanism has surrendered its soul, to whose loathsome embraces American capitalism has committed the civilisation of the American Continent.

And yet, and yet – the forces of evil will not forever prevail.

Document details

The TEI Header

File description

Title statement

Title (uniform): Notes on the Front [23 October 1915]

Author: James Connolly

Editor: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

proof corrections by: Aisling Byrne

Funded by: University College, Cork via The Writers of Ireland Project

Edition statement

2. Second draft.

Extent: 2550 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2006

Date: 2011

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E900002-054

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description


  • Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh (ed.), James Connolly: The Lost Writings (London 1997).

Selected further reading

  1. James Connolly and William Walker, The Connolly-Walker controversy on socialist unity in Ireland (Dublin 1911, repr. Cork 1986).
  2. Robert Lynd, James Connolly: an appreciation, to James Connolly, Collected works (2 vols, October 1916, repr. Dublin 1987) i, pp. 495–507.
  3. Lambert McKenna, The social teachings of James Connolly (Dublin 1920).
  4. Desmond Ryan, James Connolly: his life, work and writings (Dublin 1924).
  5. G. Schüller, James Connolly and Irish freedom: a marxist analysis (Chicago 1926, repr. Cork 1974).
  6. Noelle Davis, Connolly of Ireland: patriot and socialist (Carnarvon 1946).
  7. Richard Michael Fox, James Connolly: the forerunner (Tralee 1946).
  8. Desmond Ryan, Socialism and nationalism: a selection from the writings of James Connolly (Dublin 1948).
  9. Desmond Ryan, 'James Connolly', in J. W. Boyle (ed.), Leaders and workers (Cork 1960, repr. 1978).
  10. C. Desmond Greaves, The life and times of James Connolly (London 1961, repr. Berlin 1976).
  11. François Bédarida, Le socialisme et la nation: James Connolly et l'Irlande (Paris 1965).
  12. Joseph Deasy, James Connolly: his life and teachings (Dublin 1966).
  13. James Connolly, Press poisoners in Ireland and other articles (Belfast 1968).
  14. James Connolly, Yellow unions in Ireland and other articles (Belfast 1968).
  15. Peter McKevitt, James Connolly (Dublin 1969).
  16. Owen Dudley Edwards, The mind of an activist: James Connolly (Dublin 1981).
  17. Derry Kelleher, Quotations from James Connolly: an anthology in three parts (2 vols Drogheda 1972).
  18. Peter Berresford Ellis (ed.), James Connolly: selected writings edited with an introduction by P. Berresford Ellis (Harmondsworth 1973).
  19. Samuel Levenson, James Connolly: a biography (London 1973).
  20. James Connolly, Ireland upon the dissecting table: James Connolly on Ulster and Partition (Cork 1975).
  21. Nora Connolly O'Brien, James Connolly: portrait of a rebel father (Dublin 1975).
  22. E. Strauss, Irish nationalism and British democracy (Westport CT 1975).
  23. Bernard Ransom, Connolly's Marxism (London 1980).
  24. Communist Party of Ireland, Breaking the chains: selected writings of James Connolly on women (Belfast 1981).
  25. Ruth Dudley Edwards, James Connolly (Dublin 1981).
  26. Brian Kelly, James Connolly and the fight for an Irish Workers' Republic (Cleveland, OH 1982).
  27. John F. Murphy, Implications of the Irish past: the socialist ideology of James Connolly from an historical perspective (unpubl. MA thesis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte 1983).
  28. Anthony Lake, James Connolly: the development of his political ideology (unpubl. MA thesis, NUI Cork 1984).
  29. Frederick Ryan, Socialism, democracy and the Church (Dublin 1984). With reviews of Connolly's 'Labour in Irish History' and Jaures' 'Studies in socialism'.
  30. Connolly: the Polish aspects: a review of James Connolly's political and spiritual affinity with Józef Pilsudski, leader of the Polish Socialist Party, organiser of the Polish legions and founder of the Polish state (Belfast 1985).
  31. X. T. Zagladina, James Connolly (Moscow 1985).
  32. James Connolly and Daniel De Leon, The Connolly-De Leon Controversy: On wages, marriage and the Church (London 1986).
  33. David Howell, A Lost Left: three studies in socialism and nationalism (Chicago 1986).
  34. Priscilla Metscher, Republicanism and socialism in Ireland: a study of the relationship of politics and ideology from the United Irishmen to James Connolly, Bremer Beiträge zur Literatur- und Ideologiegeschichte 2 (Frankfurt-am-Main 1986).
  35. Michael O'Riordan, General introduction, to James Connolly, Collected works (2 vols Dublin 1987) i, pp. ix–xvii.
  36. Cathal O'Shannon, Introduction, to James Connolly, Collected works (2 vols Dublin 1987) i, 11–16.
  37. Austen Morgan, James Connolly: a political biography (Manchester 1988).
  38. Helen Clark, Sing a rebel song: the story of James Connolly, born Edinburgh 1868, executed Dublin 1916 (Edinburgh 1989).
  39. Kieran Allen, The politics of James Connolly (London 1990).
  40. Andy Johnston, James Larraggy and Edward McWilliams, Connolly: a Marxist analysis (Dublin 1990).
  41. Lambert McKenna, The social teachings of James Connolly, by Lambert McKenna, ed. Thomas J. Morrissey (Dublin 1991).
  42. Donnacha Ní Gabhann, The reality of Connolly: 1868-1916 (Dublin 1993).
  43. William K. Anderson, James Connolly and the Irish left (Dublin 1994).
  44. Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, What Connolly said: James Connolly's writings (Dublin 1994).
  45. James L. Hyland, James Connolly: life and times (Dundalk 1997).
  46. William McMullen, With James Connolly in Belfast (Belfast 2001).
  47. Donal Nevin, James Connolly: a full life (Dublin 2005).

Connolly, James (1997). ‘Notes on the Front’. In: James Connolly: The Lost Writings‍. Ed. by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh. London: Pluto, pp. 178–181.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {James Connolly},
  title 	 = {Notes on the Front},
  editor 	 = {Aindrias Ó~Cathasaigh},
  booktitle 	 = {James Connolly: The Lost Writings},
  publisher 	 = {Pluto},
  address 	 = {London},
  date 	 = {1997},
  pages 	 = {178–181}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling declarations

The whole article is included.

Editorial declarations

Correction: Text has been proof-read twice and parsed.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text. Italicized or capitalized sections of the text are tagged emph.

Quotation: Direct speech is tagged q.

Hyphenation: Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (and subsequent punctuation mark) crosses a page-break, this break is marked after the completion of the word (and punctuation mark).

Segmentation: div0=the whole text; div1=the article. Page-breaks are marked pb n="".

Standard values: Dates are standardized in the ISO form yyyy-mm-dd.

Interpretation: Names of persons (given names), and places are not tagged. Terms for cultural and social roles are not tagged.

Reference declaration

A canonical reference to a location in this text should be made using “article”, eg article .

Profile description

Creation: by James Connolly

Date: 1915

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)
  • One term is in French. (fr)

Keywords: political; essay; prose; 20c

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2011-02-05: Conversion script run; header updated; new wordcount made; file parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2008-08-29: File validated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2006-01-25: File proofed (2), structural and content markup applied to text; header inserted and file parsed. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  4. 2005-12-01: File proofed (1). (ed. Aisling Byrne, Dublin)
  5. 2005-09-10: Text scanned. (data capture Benjamin Hazard)
  6. 2005-07-30: Keywords added. (ed. Ruth Murphy)

Index to all documents

Standardisation of values

CELT Project Contacts



For details of the markup, see the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

page of the print edition

folio of the manuscript

numbered division

 999 line number of the print edition (in grey: interpolated)

underlining: text supplied, added, or expanded editorially

italics: foreign words; corrections (hover to view); document titles

bold: lemmata (hover for readings)

wavy underlining: scribal additions in another hand; hand shifts flagged with (hover to view)

TEI markup for which a representation has not yet been decided is shown in red: comments and suggestions are welcome.

Source document


Search CELT


    2 Carrigside, College Road, Cork