His Moods and Whims
ALWAYS QUIXOTIC, BUT ACTIVE ON BEHALF OF THE BOTTOM DOG
HIS CONTEMPT FOR MONEY
A Londoner who has been acquainted
with Sir Roger Casement for the past 20 years has given to the
“Daily Sketch” the following record of Sir Roger’s
characteristics and activities.
My first meeting with Roger Casement was in an isolated place
in Central Africa. That was 20 years ago, and he had just given
up a position as purser in an Elder-Dempster boat to become British
Consul for the district in which we met.
In appearance he was the most disreputable Consul I had ever met,
and I have never since seen a Consul dressed as he then was. He
was positively ragged. Hatless, his trousers so frayed, and his
coat so well worn that they were fit only for a scarecrow, and
with a pair of rough rush shoes encasing his feet, he was indeed
the weirdest type of British representative I had ever met.
But I had only been in conversation
with him a few minutes when I realised that he was not a man to
be judged by this clothes.
He is quixotic. In whatever part of the world he has found himself
his activities have always been on behalf of the bottom dog.
His latest unfortunate and misguided action is but a development
of the real Casement spirit. For what he believed to be the good
of Ireland he would stop at nothing, whatever the risks or consequences.
My own view is that the very risk of death which attended his
latest deplorable mission was an added inducement to him to “strike
a blow for Ireland,” as he would doubtless describe his
“Casement has often been foolish and misguided, but no man
I know has ever been more sincere on behalf of any cause he has
taken up. There never was any middle course with Casement; his
intense sincerity was his great failing, for the reason that the
attainment of his object was the only thing he saw.
NOT A MONEY LOVER
However much we have to deplore
Casement’s activities since the beginning of the war there
is one thing I will never believe of him. I am confident that
he never went into this unfortunate adventure with a desire to
make a penny piece for himself. He cared nothing for money. What
he had he gave away, and I have more than once encountered him
in London without the price of a meal upon him. Perhaps when he
had come out earlier in the day he had had ample funds upon him,
but the sight of a poverty stricken wretch he could never stand.
He could not keep money. He gave every penny away, and I will
venture to say that beyond whatever money he might have had on
him at the time of his arrest he has nothing else in the world.
Some time ago it was reported that the Kaiser had given Casement
£2,500 as a first payment for bringing about a revolution
in Ireland and that he had promised to hand over a larger sum
on the completion of that work.
WOULD HAVE SHOT HIM DEAD
This is my reply to that story.
If any man in Germany or elsewhere had offered Casement any money
for work for that kind Casement would have shot him dead.
It was his intense desire to further Ireland’s interests
that blinded him to the danger or the wickedness of his methods.
When he appealed to the Irish prisoners at Limburg to forewear
their allegiance to King George and form an Irish battalion, I
don’t for a moment believe he thought he was asking them
to perform a traitorous act.
Here is an instance of Casement’s self sacrifice for which
I can vouch. A certain person was appointed British Consul for
a place in which that individual could not possibly live. Casement
knew it, and as there was no one else to take over those duties
he accepted the position himself, and this meant a sacrifice of
£300 a year in salary, to say nothing of the great risk
he ran in enduring a climate that he knew could have killed his
NOT A SUCCESSFUL CONSUL
As a British Consul I would
not say that Casement was a success, but as an investigator of
matters which required remedying he had few equals in the British
His working habits were irregular. He had no regard for official
hours. He would be at his office day and night for several days;
then for several weeks he would disappear, and nothing would be
heard of him. Cablegrams might be for days on his office desk,
and messages would be despatched in all directions. When eventually
he was located he was generally immersed in the problems of some
investigation concerning the conditions of one of the lower strata
of the population among whom he lived. Or he might be found miles
away discussing folk-lore with the natives.
All his work of the past six years has been carried on under acute
physical pain. He has been a victim to rheumatic arthritis, and
it is not too much to say that the movement of every joint caused
him more or less suffering.
A TRAITOR OR A LUNATIC
To his own friends Sir Roger
Casement has been a mystery since the year 1911 – three
years before war broke out – when he published a traitorous
pamphlet in New York. Since then his friends have received letters
from him which induced the more indulgent of them to consider
him in the charitable light of a man suffering from mental disorder.
That he would go to such lengths as he has gone, few imagined.
CAPTURE OF SIR ROGER CASEMENT
Outline of German Plot
(From the “Daily Chronicle”)
Lord Lansdowne imparted to the
House of Lords on Wednesday a brief outline of the German plot
which designed to land Sir Roger Casement and some of his fellow
conspirators on Irish soil and simultaneously to supply arms and
ammunition to his deluded followers by means of a German vessel
with false papers and disguised as a neutral trading vessel.
The “Daily Chronicle” is now able to fill in the details
of what was certainly an elaborate scheme, worked out with all
German thoroughness. That it did not succeed, that it was indeed
a pitiable failure, we owe to the unfailing vigilance of the navy
and to an Intelligence Department from which few enemy secrets
But to begin with, it should be made quite clear that the enterprise,
futile as it must appear in British eyes, was seriously meant.
The suggestion had been made that it was in part a stratagem to
get rid of Casement, whose presence was no longer desired in Germany,
and that the submarine commander had orders to dump him on Ireland
and leave him to his fate. That is quite a mistaken view of German
psychology, which still cherishes the notion that Ireland can
be roused to serious rebellion if the proper instrument is employed.
Sir Roger Casement was regarded as this instrument, and it is
probable that he was able to impress the German government with
an exalted idea of his influence and of the number of his followers
if he could be placed at their head. There is something almost
pathetic in the infatuation which has now been dispelled by the
fiasco of the “landing” and its aftermath.
The drama opened with the report spread through the easy medium
of the German Press Bureau that Casement had been arrested in
Germany for an offence not indicated and was awaiting trial.
This, very likely, was a clumsy device to suggest that Casement
was not longer persona grate with the German Government, and that
if England ever had any cause to fear his activities, it no longer
It was at this time, or perhaps a little later, that Casement,
with two companions, was taken on board a German submarine, to
be conveyed to a chosen spot on the Irish coast. Earlier still
a little steamer disguised as a harmless merchantman and manned
by a crew of 20 picked officers and seamen of the Imperial navy,
had crept out of a German port, and hugging the coast within territorial
waters had made its way in the leisurely manner of a … steamer
due north. Its papers were all in order, its cargo, on the surface,
was entirely innocent. The ship was quite prepared to undergo
inspection; it had apparently nothing to conceal.
The Intelligence Department works in a mysterious way, and the
wonders it performs are not so wonderful after all when its methods
are disclosed. No more need be said than that this apparently
innocent little vessel was never lost sight of on its voyage north
to the Shetlands, almost to Iceland, and when it turned south
on its mission. But is was not molested, or at any rate no more
than was sufficient to give the officers of the Aud, as we may
call it, the impression that they had successfully hoodwinked
the British Navy.
And so we come to the day when at one of the western inlets of
Ireland the drama unfolded itself a little more. All this coast,
is, of course, carefully patrolled by land and sea. Suspicion
was aroused by the presence of a powerful motor car in a region
which tourists do not usually frequent. It put the guards more
on the alert, if that were possible. And then vigilance was rewarded.
A small boat, apparently coming from nowhere, was seen making
for the shore. Two men were at the cars, three others sat in the
stern. The boat grounded and the men got out. Their arrival had
been watched by the coastguard, and they had no sooner set foot
on shore than they were presented with the alternative surrender
or a bullet. They had no difficulty in making the choice, and
all were made prisoners.
The officer in charge of the patrol thought he recognised one
of them; possibly he had some aid to memory. “You are Sir
Roger Casement,” he said. “I am,” said the prisoner,
not without pride. “I have come to do my duty.”
Casement is said to have greatly changed in appearance since he
made his dramatic appearance as the exposer of the Putumayo rubber
atrocities. He does not in the least resemble the portrait which
was published in the “Daily Chronicle.” His full beard
has been shaven down to whiskers of the ‘mutton-chop’
variety, and he has greatly aged. The debonnaire dandy of other
days has changed to an elderly gentleman of an old-fashioned type.
During his swift conveyance to England and subsequently to the
Tower, where he is now a military prisoner, Casement made several
admissions with regard to the men acting in concert with him in
Ireland. To those who came in contact with him he gave the impression
of supreme vanity, suggesting that he was the head and front of
any rebellion that was possible, and without him it must speedily