The Black Diaries: An Account of Roger Casement's Life and Times, with a Collection of His Diaries and Public Writings

The Black Diaries: An Account of Roger Casement's Life and Times, with a Collection of His Diaries and Public Writings

The Black Diaries: An Account of Roger Casement's Life and Times, with a Collection of His Diaries and Public Writings

The Black Diaries: An Account of Roger Casement's Life and Times, with a Collection of His Diaries and Public Writings

Excerpt

Roger Casement cuts a strange figure against the Victorian background of XIXth century Ireland. It is difficult to trace one aspect of his personality which is not in contradiction with the mental habits of his contemporaries. His opposition to a society which he vaguely resented when young, gradually discovered its justifications and grew in precision with the passing of years, while his inner conflicts developed. An irreconcilable rebel by the time he reached middle age, he was ready to forfeit honourable fame for a traitor's death.

Born to a family which had provided many staunch supporters of British rule in Ireland, he was groomed to be an influential member of the pro-English Ulster minority. Instead, he became an Irish separatist, and one of the most advanced extremists.

The son of a Protestant father, it would seem that he was secretly baptized a Catholic at his mother's request. Following her death, nevertheless, young Casement was brought up as a Protestant, soon to become a freethinker, although he seems to have given signs of intermittent religious inclinations. It is only towards the last troubled phase of his life, however, when his rationalist beliefs gave way, that Casement was drawn to the Catholic religion, in which he saw a poetic expression of the Irish soul. He died a devout Catholic.

To explain a man of so many paradoxes, should we (in keeping with modern doctrine) look for a clue in his sexual idiosyncrasies? Even if we deny the authenticity of the Black Diaries, it seems most unlikely that British Intelligence officers went so far as to forge incriminating poems in order to substantiate the charge of homosexuality made against him. . .

No human hand to steal to mine,
No loving eye to answering shine,
Earth's cruel heart of dust alone
To give me breath and strength to groan.

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