[Sir] Roger Casement: Commentary

W. B Yeats
Joseph Conrad
James Joyce
G. B. Shaw
St. John Ervine
Denis Gwynn
León Ó Bróin
Brian Inglis
W. G. Sebald
Suzanne Bree
A. N. Jeffares
Brian Fallon
Joseph O’Neill
Lucy McDiarmid
Rosin MacAuley
Colm Tóibín
Keith Jeffry
David Norris
Angus Mitchell
Eileen Battersby

W. B Yeats: “Roger Casement”: ‘I say that Roger Casement / Did what he had to do. / He died upon the gallows, / But that is nothing new. / Afraid they might be beaten / Before the bench of Time, / They turned a trick by forgery / And blackened his good name. / A perjurer stood ready / To prove their forgery true; / They gave it out to all the world, / And that is something new; / For Spring Rice had to whisper it, / Being their Ambassador, / And then the speakers got it / And writers by the score. / Come Tom and Dick, come all the troop / That cried it far and wide, / Come from the forger and his desk, / Desert the perjurer’s side; / Come speak your bit in public / That some amends be made / To this most gallant gentleman / That is in quicklime laid’.

W. B. Yeats, “The Ghost of Roger Casement”: ‘O what has made that sudden noise? / What on the threshold stands? / it never crossed the sea because / John Bull and sea are friends. / But this is not the old sea / Nor this the old seashore. / What gave that roar of mockery, / That roar in the sea’s roar? / The ghost of Roger Casement / Is beating on the door. / [Refrain:] // John Bull has stood for Parliament, / A dog must have his day ... // John Bull has gone to India / And all must pay him heed / For histories are there to prove / That none of another breed / Has a like inheritance / Or sucked such milk as he ... // I poked about a village church / And found his family tomb / And copied out what I could read / In that religious gloom; / Found many a famous man there; / But fame and virtue rot. / Draw round, beloved and bitter men, / Draw round and raise a shout / [Refrain]’.

Joseph Conrad: ‘I can assure you that he is a limpid personality. There is a touch of the conquistador in him too; for I have seen him start off into an unspeakable wilderness swinging a crookhandled stick for all weapon, with two bulldogs, Paddy (white) and Biddy (Brindle) at his heels and a Loanda boy carrying a bundle for all company. A few months afterwards it so happened that I saw him come out again, a little leaner, a little browner, with his sticks, dogs, and Loanda boy, and quietly serene as though he had been for a stroll in the park […] I always though some particle of La Casas’ soul had found refuge in his indomitable body. [...] He could tell you things! Things I have tried to forget, things I never did know.’ (Letter to R. B. Cunninghame Graham, 26 Dec. 1903; printed in Alfred Noyes, The Accusing Ghost, 1957; quoted by n Richard Kirkland, ’Rhetoric and (Mis)recognitions: Reading Casement’, in Irish Studies Review, August 1999, pp.168-69; see also a version of same given in W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn, 1998, infra). Further memories of Casement, confirming his relation to Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, given in interview, New York Evening Post (11 May 1923). Conrad refused to sign the petition for remission of death sentence against Casement.

James Joyce - Ulysses (“Cyclops” chap.): ‘Well, says J. J., if they’re any worse than the Belgians in the Congo Free State they must be bad. Did you read that report by a man what’s this is name is? / ‘Casement, says the citizen. He’s an Irishman.’ (See further under Notes, infra.)

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George Bernard Shaw, ‘The Roger Casement Trial; An Unpublished Statement’ [signed 19 Dec. 1934, and presented to Julius Klein; later printed in the Letters, ed., Dan. H. Laurence], in Robin Skelton and David R. Clark, eds., Irish Renaissance [A Gathering of Essays, Memoirs, and Letters from the Massachusetts Review] (Dolmen Press 1965), pp.94-96: ‘I did not know Casement personally; but I understood his policy, and, as an Irishman, held he had just as clear a right to take the German side in the war as any Serb had to take the English side, even a Serb who had formerly been in the Turkish service. ... I was moved to by the distress of his cousin Mrs. Parry ... I advised Casement to conduct his own defence; not to plead guilty but to admit all the facts; to assert his complete right to at as he had done; to claim that as the was a prisoner of war and not a traitor his execution would be a murder; to be eloquent about his right to take up arms for the independence of his country, and to finish with a defiant, “Now murder me if you like and be damned”. ... / Unfortunately I could not induce Casement to give the requisite weight to my advice. [...’; &c.] (p.95.) ‘As to the sort of British patriotism which expressed itself in dismissing Casement’s cousin from [her] educational post ... because she visited him in prison, I had no feeling for it but one of contemptuous disgust ... The British government discredited Casement shockingly ... But this alleged diary has never been produced, and unless it is forthcoming the contention of Casement’s friends that the document is a relic of his Putewayo [for Putumayo] days, when he had to copy and report many unmentionable confessions, remains unrefuted.’ (END; p.96.)

St. John Ervine, Bernard Shaw: His Life, Work and Friends (London: Constable; NY: William Morrow 1956), p.465-69: ‘During the War, a servant of the British Crown, Sir Roger Casement, an Ulsterman from County Antrim, who had done invaluable work in exposing atrocities in the Congo, became mentally unbalanced. This statement is not made offensively or in a partisan spirit, but as a fact. His biographer, Denis Gwynn [...] asserts his belief that Casement, in the last years of his life, was out of his mind. Had this plea been made and substantiated, he could not have been hanged, as he was in 1916. / Casement, in his lunacy, “went native”, as Ulstermen say of an Ulster Protestant who becomes an Irish Republican; and in October 1914, he began to campaign to secure the “freedom” of Ireland by German aid [and] endeavoured to seduce Irish prisoners of war from their allegiance. They were to serve in a German Army as soldiers seeking to set Ireland free. This was poor performance for a man of honour and some distinction and it is inexcusable on any ground save that of insanity. It is idle to say that Ireland was suffering from great wrong. All Ireland’s grievances at that time were academic, and could have impressed only men whose minds were divorced from reason.St. John Ervine (Bernard Shaw, 1956) - cont.: ‘The country was as contented as Ireland is ever likely to be; the [465] government, especially in local affairs, was substantially in the control of the people who were either owners of their land or in the process of becoming owners. There was a larger degree of general prosperity than there had ever been; and that prosperity was increased enormously during the War. It was, indeed, an argument used for rebellion by Patrick Pearse, an incompetent schoolmaster whose bankrupt school was maintained to a great degree by Irish-Americans on condition that he trained his pupils in riot and disturbance. He told his associates in that Ireland was now so prosperous that the people were no longer interested in Home Rule . [...] Among those who took up Casement’s cause was Mrs J. R. Green, the widow of the historian, who was in distress because she could not persuade any distinguished counsel to defend her protégé. Sir John Simon would not accept a brief, nor would Tim Healy, Sir Charles Russell, a Roman Catholic and son of Lord Russell of Killeen, refused to help in any way. When Gavin [sic for Gavan] Duffy consented to act for him, his partners are said to have repudiated him. [466] It was in the hope of obtaining money from G.B.S. [Shaw] that he and Charlotte were invited to lunch with her next-door neighbours, the Webbs, to meet her.’ (p.467).

St. John Ervine (Bernard Shaw, 1956) - cont.: Ervine gives an account of the meeting, at which Shaw offered to write a ‘speech which will thunder down the ages’, according to the record in Beatrice Webb’s Diary (1912-24, pp.62-63). Ervine quotes from Shaw’s ‘speech’, which was printed in 25 copies by Clement Shorter and reprinted in Henderson’s life of Shaw (p.647): ‘almost all the disasters and difficulties that have made the relations of Ireland and England so mischievous to both countries have arisen from the failure of England to understand that Ireland is not a province of England but a nation, and to negotiate with her on that assumption. If you persist in treating me as an Englishman, you bind yourself thereby to hang me as a traitor before the eyes of the world. Now, as a simple matter of fact, I am neither an Englishman nor a traitor: I am an Irishman, captured in a fair attempt to achieve the independence of my country; and you can no more deprive me of the honours of that position, or destroy the effects of my effort, than the abominable cruelties inflicted 600 years ago on William Wallace in this city when he met a precisely similar indictment with a precisely similar reply, have prevented that brave and honourable Scot from becoming the national hero of his country. I am not trying to shirk the British scaffold; it is the altar on which the Irish saints have been canonised for centuries.’ (Ervine, p.469.) Ervine remarks that the argument is specious since Casement was not treated as an Englishman but as a British subject and notes the Casement kept the title that ‘his sovereign had conferred upon him’.

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Denis Gwynn, Traitor or Patriot: The Life and Death of Roger Casement (1930), makes the case that the nefarious diary was Casement’s record of evidence in his investigation of Putawayo [Putumayo] matters; on reading it Lady Gregory changed her opinion, formerly expressed in a letter to Shaw of Aug. 1916, ‘I could feel much enthusiasm for Casement, but I wish something could be done for John McNeill, a scholar to the backbone and most generous in his help to learners. There are such masses of MSS to be translated while he is making sacks in gaol.’ (See Lucy McDiarmid, reviewing Dan H. Lawrence & Nicholas Grene, eds., Shaw, Lady Gregory and the Abbey: A Correspondence and a Record, Colin Smythe 1993, in Irish Literary Supplement, Spring 1994, pp.4-6; see further under g. B. Shaw, infra.)

León Ó Bróin, Protestant Nationalists in Revolution Ireland: The Stopford Connection (1985), writes that ‘Casement was inevitably found guilty and made a speech from the dock that recalled many in the Irish patriotic tradition, particularly that of the Anglo-Irish Robert Emmet.’ Further: ‘He addressed himself to the charge that he had forsworn loyalty ... by his association with the German enemy. He explained where in the struggle between the Anglo and Irish elements in his make-up, the true core of loyalty lay, and why at Easter other men now dead had acted as they did [...].’ Quotes Casement in the dock [see Quotations, infra]. Further: ‘After an unsuccessful appeal of sentence of death was carried out at Pentonville on 3 August.’ (p.135). Ó Bróin notes that Casement was highly delighted after the Howth gun-running, writing to Mrs Alice Stopford-Green, ‘Oh woman of the Stern Unbending Purpose ... may the God of Erin put rifles in the hands of Irishmen and teach them to shoot straight!’ (Ibid., p.63.)

Brian Inglis, ‘Sir Roger Casement’, in Downstart (London: Chatto & Windus 1990): ‘Casement, I found, “cracked” in two ways. One split was the consequence of his homosexuality. As it had to be hidden both from his employers and from his social circle in Ulster, where he liked to spend most of his time when he was on leave, his affairs had to be with youths who were not of his own class; this made it difficult, often impossible, to express the love which he longed to link with his sexual appetite. / The other division was in his loyalties. So long as his work took him to places such as the Congo and South America, the growing involvement in the Home Rule campaign did not trouble him; but when he was on leave he was confronted by the three-way pull of Unionism in the British sense; Ulster Unionism - in effect, Protestant nationalism; and Home Rule. The confusion of the years leading up to the First World War, with Carson and the English Unionists in effect backing rebellion in Ulster - “Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right” - confused Casement, too, until he decided, disastrously, that it justified his going to Germany to win support for [270] the Home Rule cause he had embraced, thereby making himself in British - and many Irish - eyes a traitor.’ (pp.270-71.)

W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn [English Version 1998] (London: Harvill 1999), Chap. V, pp.127-32: ‘Conrad considered Casement the only man of integrity among the Europeans whom he had encountered there [n the Congo], and who had been ccorrupted partly by the tropical climate and party by their own rapaciousness and greed. I’ve seen him start off into a unspeakable wilderness (thus the exact words of a quotation from Conrad, which has remained in my head) swinging a crookhandled stick, with two bulldogs: Paddy (white) and Biddy (brindle) at his heels and a Loanda boy carrying a bundle. A few months afterwards it so happened that I saw him come out again, leaner, a little browner, with his stick, dogs, a Loanda boy, and quietly serene as though he had been for a stroll in the party.’ (p.104.) Further: ‘The first news of the nature and extent of the crimes committed against the native peoples in the course of the opening up of the Congo came to public attention in 1903 through Roger Casement, then British consul at Boma. In a memorandum to Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne, Casement - who, so Korzeniowski [Joseph Conrad] told a London acquaintance, could tell things that he, Korzeniowski, had long been trying to forget - gave an exact account of the utterly merciless exploitation of the blacks. [...] Casement was on the one hand praised for his exemplary report and awarded the CMG, while on the other hand nothing was done that might have had an adverse effect on Belgian interests. When Casement was transferred to South America some years later, probably with the ulterior motive of getting his troublesome person out of the way for a while, he exposed conditions in the jungle areas of Peru, Colombia and Brazil that resembled those in the Congo in many respects, with the difference that here the controlling agent was not Belgian trading associations but the Amazon Company, the head office of which was in the city of London. [...] It was only to be expected that in due course he would hit upon the Irish question [...; - that is to say, his own. Casement had grown up in County Antrim, the son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, and by education and upbringing he was predestined to be one of those whose mission in life was the upholding [of] English rule in Ireland. In the years leading up to the First World War, when the Irish question was becoming acute, Casement espoused the cause of “the white Indians of Ireland”.’ [See longer extract - as attached].

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Suzanne Breen, Irish Times (26 March 1994), writing on the release of the Casement diaries, ‘If authentic, they reveal Casement to have been obsessed with sexual activity. During one four-month period, the diarist was sexually active with, or made sexual approaches to, 60 different men.’ James Bryce, British ambassador in Washington recalled ‘the magnetic Irishman, dead white face, dead black hair, hypnotic eyes and hovering hands’; John Devoy complained of his ‘utter impracticability’ and his constant meddling in his ‘honest but visionary way’; one of the first to argue that the example of the Ulster Volunteers should be followed; broad left-wing tendencies; actively involved in Gaelic League; perturbed when fellow Leaguer, Ada MacNeill, fell in love with him; (‘I wish she would leave me alone ... these repeated invitations to meet her are a bit out of place’; described Carson as ‘honest. sincere and fearless’ but also ‘a cross between a badly raised bloodhound and an underfed hyena’; and liked him better than ‘plotting craven Englishmen’; of Germans, ‘honesty and integrity of German mankind, the strength of the German intellect, the skill of the German hand and brain ... I regret that I am not German’; in 1965, when his body was returned to Ireland, Tomás Mac Giolla, Sinn Féin, spoke of the necessity of returning the diaries to ‘nail for all time the slanderous attacks’ [i.e., charges of homosexuality].

A. N. Jeffares, W. B. Yeats: A New Biography (1988), ‘[Yeats] got into a ‘blind rage’ on reading Dr. Maloney’s The Forged Casement Diaries and wrote two furious ballads, “Roger Casement”, and “The Ghost of Roger Casement” ... In the version of the poem published in the Irish Press, 2 Feb. 1937, he had attacked ‘Alfred Noyes and all that troupe [var. troop]’ for spreading stories about Casement’s homosexuality in order to prevent an appeal against his being sentenced to death for treason in 1916; Noyes was reported by Maloney as having described the Casement diaries as ‘filthy beyond all description’ [in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, 31 Aug. 1916; New Comm., p.386]; but wrote a disclaimer to the papers [Comm., Irish Press], and Yeats, in accepting his explanation, revised the poem to read ‘No matter what the names they wear!’ [see Jeffares, New Comm., 1984, p.386] and thanked him for a ‘noble’ letter [in a letter of his own of 13 Feb. 1937; Letters, ed. Wade, p.822-83], agreeing with the suggestion that the diaries should be examined by some tribunal – it is now generally accepted that they are genuine’ (p336). See also Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems (1984), pp.384ff., citing fully Yeats’s impassioned support of Maloney’s view in letters to Ethel Mannin (15 Nov. 1936; Letters, ed. Wade, p.867-68) and Dorothy Wellesley (28 Nov., 7 Dec., and 12 Dec. 1936; DWL, p.107-111); his ‘ferocious ballad’ elicited public thanks from the vice-president of the Exec. Council, and de Valera’s private secretary, as well as from Count Plunket, and a ‘long leader’ in de Valera’s Irish Press saying that ‘for generations my poem will pour scorn on the forgers and their backers’ (letter to Dorothy Wellesley, 8 Feb. 1937).

Brian Fallon writes, ‘The use of the homosexual diaries to secure his conviction was deliberate and nasty and it is a lasting stain on the poet Alfred Noyes (who later recanted) that he took part in the official vilification of Casement in America and elsewhere.’ (Irish Times, 6 May 1995.)

Joseph O’Neill, review of Adrian Weale, Patriot Traitors: Roger Casement, John Amery and the Real Meaning of Treason (2001), in (in The Irish Times (30 June 2001), quotes G. B. Shaw: ‘the word traitor as applied to a rebel has always been a mere vituperation from the days of Wallace to those of Sir Edward Carson and Sir Frederick Smith [...]. Certainly, no one outside Great Britain will have any desire to apply it, even for vituperative purposes, to Casement.’ Reviewer comments: ‘It’s this barely suppressed detestation of its subjects that undermines Patriot Traitors and its claim to illuminating  “the real meaning of treason”.’

Lucy McDiarmid, ‘Martyr for Many Causes’, in The New York Times Book Review (8 Feb. 1998), writes: ‘The “Black Diaries” may not be his. The five diaries, whosever they are, contain coded and not-so-coded descriptions of homosexual encounters in Ireland, England and South America. Depending on which line of thought you follow, they’re either the ingenious contrivances of a British forger or Casement’s private records, stolen by Scotland Yard. In June 1916, Casement was on trial fore attempting to recruit Irish prisoners of war in Germany to fight in the Easter Rising. During the summer, the diaries were circulated sub rosa to discourage Casement’s supporters from appealing his treason conviction and to ruin him for martyrdom. Sir Ernley Blackwell, legal adviser to the Foreign Office, wrote in his report, “I see not the slightest objection to hanging Casement and afterwards giving him as much publicity to the contents of his diary as decency permits, so that at any rate the public in America and elsewhere may know what sort of man they are inclined to make a martyr of.” When the American Ambassador told Prime Minister Herbert Asquith he had seen a copy of the diaries, Asquith remarked, “Excellent; and you need not be particular about keeping it to yourself.”’ Further, ‘Their authenticity has been definitively confirmed and stubbornly questioned in a dozen biographies, in W. J. Maloney’s Forged Casement Diaries (1936) and in the 1959 Peter Singleton-Gates book, The Black Diaries. Linking an Irish patriot with sexuality - even, as in Parnell’s case, with heterosexuality - has always caused commotion, but the possibility of a gay martyr challenged fundamental notions of Irish identity. Each new biography, whatever its theory of Casement, inspired prolonged debate about national heroes, or sex, or both. Casement’s unsettled posthumous history meant that the mere mention of his name evoked the thought of homosexuality even when the word wasn’t mentioned.’; quotes Irish Times letter of 1956: “The fascination of the voluminous correspondence on the moral character of Casement is only exceeded by its futility”; Further, ‘Meanwhile, privately (very privately), Casement’s friends accepted the diaries’ authenticity. Eamon De Valera, the Irish President, who spoke movingly at the reinterment in Dublin, did not want the diaries along with the bones, and they remain in the Public Record Office in London. [...] In the wake of Ireland’s decriminalization of homosexual acts in 1993, the BBC devoted a program to the diaries, and a handwriting expert declared them genuine. Two Englishmen, Angus Mitchell, a travel writer who moved to Brazil to study the extermination of native tribes, and Roger Sawyer, the author of a biography of Casement and a book called “Slavery in the Twentieth Century”, signed a contract to edit the 1910 diaries. [&c.]’

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Rosin MacAuley, letter to The Irish Times (1 Sept. 2001) expressed amazement at the ‘rerun of the old shibboleth’ about the forgery of the Casement Diaries and recounts her examination of them in connection with the BBC series Document which she directed with producer Nigel Acheson; permitted to examine the diaries by the British Govt. in 1993; diaries examined by Dr. David Blaxendale who compared the writing with that in the public diaries held in the Irish National Archive; confirmed their authenticity; concludes, ‘if he hadn’t been homosexual, knowing what it was like to feel oppressed and marginalised, he might not have been a hero to anyone.’ (Reading,/Berkshire,/England./Dublin 12.)

Colm Tóibín, extract on Roger Casement from his new book, argues that ‘Roger Casement deserves our admiration for the passion and erotic complexity revealed in the Black Diaries and that his homosexuality may have made him a great humanitarian’ [sub-heading]. Tóibín considers fully the evidence for and against forgery and retells the memoranda of the Home Office legal adviser: ‘[H]e has for years been addicted to the grossest sodomitical practices. He seems of late years to have completed the full cycle of sexual degeneracy and from a pervert has become an invert - a woman or pathic who derives his satisfaction from attracting men and inducing them to use him.’ Further, ‘So far as I can judge, it would be far wiser from every point of view to allow the law to take its course and, by judicious means, to use these diaries to prevent casement attaining martyrdom’. Tóibín counters all this from a different angle: ‘He loved the people of the Congo and the Amazon Indians. […] he wanted to fondle them and make love with them in a way which would give him pleasure. Since he was gay, he did it with blokes. One presumes that some of them took pleasure in it too - maybe even some of the ones he paid. On the other hand, having it off with a large, bearded man from Northern Ireland might not have been to everyone’s taste.’ (The Irish Times [Weekend], 2 March 2002, p.4). Note, Tóibín’s own Love in a Dark Time scheduled to appear on 22nd inst.)

Keith Jeffry, reviewing W. J. McCormack, Roger Casement in Death; or, Haunting the Free State, in Times Literary Supplement (15 Nov. 2002), writes: ‘[...] McCormack places the cultural phenomenon of “Casement vindication” alongside clerical child abuse, prime ministerial corruption and paramilitary terror. Like them, he asserts, it is an “abrogation of history, a rejection of verifiable knowledge, a very Irish instance of fideism.” The expose of these activities, along with the emergence of the complete, imperfect, Casement, may in fact reflect the increasing political and social maturity of independent Ireland.’ (p.24.)

David Norris, review of Roger Casement: The Black Diaries (Belfast Press), in The Irish Times (18 Jan. 2003), “Weekend”. Norris notes that Martin Mansergh in his preface veers towards the forgery theory on the basis that Casement ‘had absolutely no conscience in regard to his own sexual life and no obvious concern about its impact on his life’s work if ever revealed’ and calls Casement ‘as predatory towards the natives as those he criticised’ - and retorts: ‘This opinion would in my view be hard to sustain in the light of the fact that the predatoriness of the colonisers was expressed in terms of mass murder, the mutilation of children in front of their parents to inculcate discipline and fear, and policies that were tantamount to genocide. Against this background, Casement’s sexual fumblings which, althogh carried on pretty indiscriminately, appear to bave been universally welcomed, paid for and mutually pleasurable and were clearly of a different order.’ Casement’s body was subjected, at the direction of the Home Office, to prolonged rectal examination with the intention of demonstrating that he habitually took the passive role in sodomy.’ Calls the editor a ‘stalwarth companion’ in the fight for gay liberation in Ireland. Dudgeon identifies Casement’s long-term boy-friend as Millar Gordon, who subsequently married and produced two children, dying from heart disease in Greystones in the mid-1950s. Norris disputes that the diaries can be calle erotic: ‘They consist of brief repetitive exclamatory accounts of sexual encounters usually accompanied by a note of the monetary exchange involved. One would need a compulsive fascination with the history of sexuality [...] to main an interest in over 600 pages of variations on the simple theme “saw beauty - enormous - huge - wanted dreadfully”. Quotes Dudgeon’s summary of Casement’s character: ‘His virtues were nonetheless many and varied: indifference to discomfort and pain, courage in the face of physical violence, persistence, love of humanity, kindness to animals, a refusal to see those of other races as subordinate by definition, and political effectiveness’.

Angus Mitchell, ‘Ireland, South America, and the Forgotten History of Rubber’, in History Ireland (July/Aug. 2008), pp.41-45: ‘[...] In 1910, as British consul-general in Brazil, he undertook an official investigation of the rubber industry in the north-west Amazon and made two journeys into the region in order to determine the treatment of British subjects and the extent of the devastation for indigenous forest communities. Using his diplomatic contacts, pressure was [43] applied at the very highest level. The British ambassador to Washington, James Bryce, commented in a letter to the US secretary of state in May 1911: “It is no exaggeration to say that this information as to the methods employed in the collecting of rubber by the agents of the company surpass in horror anything hitherto reported to the civilised world during the last century. Flogging, torturing, burning, starving to death, have been in this ill-fated region, constantly and ruthlessly employed in the collection of rubber by the agents of the company their tyrants, while the brutal lust and hideous cruelty wantonly practised on the women and children deepen, if possible, the horrors of the scene.” Casement’s Blue Book, published in 1912, hastened the financial collapse of the extractive rubber market in the Amazon. Investment in the market now shifted from latex extraction to the new market for plantation rubber in south-east Asia. Decades of unregulated activity had left the region in tatters. The issuing of a papal encyclical Lacrimabili Statu Indorum by Pope Pius X was too little too late. Various missionary groups departed for the region in an effort to protect the remnants of the communities. / A group of five Irish missionaries- Fathers Leo Sambrook, Cyprian Byrne, Frederick Furlong, Felix Ryan and Edwin O’Donnell - arrived in the region in 1913. Not to be outdone, British Protestants, affronted by the Peruvian government’s insistence on and support for a Catholic mission, decided to send various unauthorised delegations. [...]’ (pp.43.-44.)

Eileen Battersby, ‘Roger Casement: A romantic defender of the oppressed’, in The Irish Times (3 Aug. 2016): ‘Roger Casement endured a horrible death, disgraced and sordid. But most of all, it was unfair. The executions of 15 of the leaders of the 1916 Rising were carried out between May 3rd and May 12th. Among the executed was James Connolly. Dying of wounds suffered during the rebellion, he was shot while tied to a chair. Ireland was shocked by the deaths, particularly his, as was the world. Largely unheeded by many Irish people, who regarded the rebellion as a skirmish staged by a small group of revolutionaries, the executions raised awareness of the bold intent behind the idealism. Outrage increased and the republican dead became martyrs. Yet there was a 16th execution and it took place 100 years today. Casement did not face a firing squad. There was no glory and no pathos, although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, WB Yeats and George Bernard Shaw had tried to intervene.’ [...] It is easy to romanticise him, but the fact is, he was a romantic. He was also a maverick, an Anglo-Irish Lawrence of Arabia. Unlike TE Lawrence, also famed for an erratic personality, Casement did not die in a dramatic accident, as Lawrence would in 1935, following a motorbike crash. Also, for all the ambivalence surrounding Lawrence’s sexuality, he was more usually regarded as asexual. For Casement the existence of the Black Diaries, which may or may not have been written by him, in the form of five notebooks chronicling sexual encounters, the material proved damning and was used to condemn him. Were they forged? Why not? A similar tactic had been used to destroy Charles Stewart Parnell, another victim of his private life – in his case an adulterous relationship which did end in marriage. Casement was not a traitor, he was an embarrassment, and not only to the British government, as he also exposed the evils of European colonialism. [...]’ (See full-text version - as attached; or go to The Irish Times - online.)