CELT document E900002-069

Notes on the Front [15 April 1916]

James Connolly

Edited by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

Notes on the Front [15 April 1916]

Notes on the Front


A Mixture of All Sorts. 15 April 1916

“Sydney Barker, the publisher of the Australian organ of the 'Industrial Workers of the World', has been fined £100, with the alternative of a year's imprisonment with hard labour, for publishing statements likely to prejudice recruiting.”

Thus we read in a Labour paper published in England. In a Labour paper published in Scotland we read confirmation of the news published in the capitalist dailies that about a dozen prominent members of the working class movement — trade unionists — have been seized in the middle of the night in Scotland, and deported without any form of trial.

In Ireland we see prominent organisers of the Irish Volunteers arrested and sentenced to deportation for feebly endeavouring to imitate Sir Edward Carson; we see newspapers raided and printing machinery seized by the military amid a chorus of approval from all the enemies of militarism; and in the rural districts we see every day arrests of men for passing the most ordinary comments upon the war.

Free speech and a free press no longer exists. The Rights of Labour have been suppressed; to strike is an offence against the law whenever the authorities choose to declare it so; and all over these countries bands of soldiers and sailors are being encouraged to invade and break up meetings of civilians.

Gradually the authorities have been making successful war upon every public right, gradually the mind of the unthinking has been accustomed to see without alarm the outraging of every constitutional liberty. That arbitrary exercise of power which two years ago would have evoked a storm of protest is now accepted with equanimity and even with approval.

Tyranny grows with what it feeds upon, and the slave soon grows accustomed to the bearing of chains which when first applied seemed worse than death itself. The state of these countries to-day is a sad proof of the truth of these maxims.

That brilliant revolutionist, Tom Mann, speaking at Sheffield said that “the termination of the war at this moment would result in serious disaster,” and that other trade union leader, Ben Tillett, has a constant job on the recruiting platform. These two men were before the war the greatest of internationalists, and rather despised our Irish love for our own nationality, as being mere sentimental slop and entirely out of date. Now they are raving jingoes, howling for the blood of every rival of the British capitalist class.

In the speech above mentioned Mr Tom Mann quoted some figures which serve to show the wonderful fight being made by the Germans against odds. He said that: “Official figures showed that the enemy had 19,800,000 men of military age. Russia alone had 19,719,000, and of these 10,000,000 had not been touched. The allies, excluding Britain, had 31,997,000.”

Yet in spite of these enormous odds it is freely admitted by every competent military authority that the superiority lies undoubtedly with the forces of the Central Powers.

More than once we have pointed out this disparity of forces, more than once we have shown that Russia alone has a greater population than Austria and Germany combined, and therefore the fact that the German armies still remain immovably fixed on the soil of her enemies proves either of two things: Either the military forces of the Allies are hopelessly led by bungling incompetents. Or, the German Nation is incomparably superior to any nation in Europe.

But to read the accounts of the war published by the British press, and by the foresworn traitors who run in Ireland the pro-British press, one would imagine that the only real army on the field of battle was the British army, that the Germans were cowering in fear of a British attack, and that the French were in the rear of the British lines somewhere in France, and principally engaged in writing letters urging the British Tommies on.

An American writer, Irvin S. Cobb, writing a humorous sketch recently in the Saturday Evening Post, of Philadelphia, tells how he was interviewed by a bore who was an enthusiastic adherent of the Allies, and – but we will let him tell the story himself. In his Americanese he says:

He cruelly impaled me in the lance tips of his steely relentless glance, and while I wriggled in feeble agony demanded of me, as one intrepid Anglo-Saxon to another, whether I agreed with him that the Anglo-Saxon was waging a magnificent struggle for the liberties and civilization of the world. And if not, why not? Hearing him one got a mental picture of a small determined Anglo-Saxon licking, single-handed, practically all the rest of creation.

I might, I suppose, have told him that my Anglo-Saxon strain wouldn't bear the acid test, some of my ancestors having been the kind of Anglo-Saxons who came from the North of Scotland and spoke Gaelic; and others were the kind of Anglo-Saxons who hailed from the South of Ireland and disliked any mention of the late Oliver Cromwell coming up in the course of social conversation.

I might have added that, after a cursory view of the situation, I was rather of the opinion that, in his struggle against the embattled foeman, the Anglo-Saxon, from time to time, was receiving some slight assistance from Frenchmen and Italians and Russians and Poles and Belgians and Japanese and Hindus and Sikhs and Ghurkas and Turcos and Canadians and Serbians and Australians and New Zealanders and Montenegrins and Algerians and Boers and South Africans and Americans — yes, quite a few Americans — and Celts and Slavs and Walloons, and various other allied branches of the Anglo-Saxon breed. But I didn't.

I waited until he lowered his guard for a precious moment, and then I wrested myself free and fled, leaving him still rendering a favourite selection of airs on the Anglo-Saxophone.

In much the same way does the British and Redmondite press work to distort the news and to impress upon the mind of its readers a totally distorted view of events.

For instance there is one paper in Holland, the Telegraaf, owned and controlled by Englishmen, and when the Freeman's Journal or the Irish Times wishes to make us believe that the people of Holland are enthusiastic for the Allies they always quote this English-owned paper, and nearly always ignore every other.

From Italy the only papers quoted are those that support the Government, the others are either ignored or misrepresented.

In America papers like the New York Sun, which even in normal times is notorious for its snobbery and devotion to English interests and its contempt for American, are the favourites to which the Freeman's Journal turns when seeking American opinion on the war.

Even on the matter of the recent Irish Convention it is the editorials of this lickspittle journal that the Freeman's Journal quotes to show the trend of Irish opinion upon this historic gathering. Never did the Sun in recent years show anything but contempt and hatred for all sincere Irish movements against English rule, but nevertheless on Monday, April 10, the Freeman's Journal gravely cites the paper in question in the defence of John E. Redmond against the angry denunciations of the American Irish.

And so the tale goes on, ad infinitum, a carnival of tyranny, a saturnalia of military license, an orgy of well-paid falsehoods. These are the everyday accompaniments of present day British rule in Ireland, and in the world.

Well, we must endure it, we suppose. At any rate we are not leaving Dublin until the Whit Trade Union Congress at Sligo. After that if the worst comes to the worst we can take our courage in our hands and —

Pass a Strong Resolution.

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Title (uniform): Notes on the Front [15 April 1916]

Author: James Connolly

Editor: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh

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Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

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

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2. Second draft.

Extent: 2460 words

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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: 2010

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

CELT document ID: E900002-069

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 M. 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 León, The Connolly-De León 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. Fintan Lane, James Connolly's 1901 census return, in Saothar: Journal of the Irish Labour History Society 25 (2000) 103-106.
  47. William McMullen, With James Connolly in Belfast (Belfast 2001).
  48. 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. 216–219.

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 	 = {216–219}


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Creation: by James Connolly

Date: 1916

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Keywords: political; essay; prose; 20c

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  1. 2010-04-26: Conversion script run; header updated; new wordcount made; file parsed. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2008-08-29: File validated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2008-07-30: Keywords added. (ed. Ruth Murphy)
  4. 2006-01-25: File proofed (2), structural and content markup applied to text; header inserted and file parsed. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  5. 2005-12-01: File proofed (1). (ed. Aisling Byrne)
  6. 2005-09-10: Text scanned. (data capture Benjamin Hazard)

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