—Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: Great was my
admiration in listening to the remarks addressed to the youth of
Ireland a moment since by my learned friend. It seemed to me
that I had been transported into a country far away from this
country, into an age remote from this age, that I stood in ancient
Egypt and that I was listening to the speech of some highpriest of
that land addressed to the youthful Moses.
His listeners held their cigarettes poised to hear, their
smokes ascending in frail stalks that flowered with his
speech. And let our crooked smokes. Noble words coming.
Look out. Could you try your hand at it yourself?
—And it seemed to me that I heard the voice of that Egyptian
highpriest raised in a tone of like haughtiness and like pride. I
heard his words and their meaning was revealed to me.
FROM THE FATHERS
It was revealed to me that those things are good which
yet are corrupted which neither if they were supremely
good nor unless they were good could be corrupted. Ah,
curse you! That’s saint Augustine.
—Why will you jews not accept our culture, our religion and
our language? You are a tribe of nomad herdsmen: we are a
mighty people. You have no cities nor no wealth: our cities are
hives of humanity and our galleys, trireme and quadrireme, laden
with all manner merchandise furrow the waters of the known
globe. You have but emerged from primitive conditions: we have a
literature, a priesthood, an agelong history and a polity.
Child, man, effigy.
By the Nilebank the babemaries kneel, cradle of
bulrushes: a man supple in combat: stonehorned,
stonebearded, heart of stone.
—You pray to a local and obscure idol: our temples, majestic
and mysterious, are the abodes of Isis and Osiris, of Horus and
Ammon Ra. Yours serfdom, awe and humbleness: ours thunder
and the seas. Israel is weak and few are her children: Egypt is an
host and terrible are her arms. Vagrants and daylabourers are you
called: the world trembles at our name.
A dumb belch of hunger cleft his speech. He lifted his
voice above it boldly:
—But, ladies and gentlemen, had the youthful Moses listened
to and accepted that view of life, had he bowed his head and
bowed his will and bowed his spirit before that arrogant
admonition he would never have brought the chosen people out of
their house of bondage, nor followed the pillar of the cloud by
day. He would never have spoken with the Eternal amid
lightnings on Sinai’s mountaintop nor ever have come down with
the light of inspiration shining in his countenance and bearing in
his arms the tables of the law, graven in the language of the