On 28th April 1957 the Belfast Unionist MP, H. Montgomery Hyde (1) published a lengthy article in the Sunday Times arguing strongly for the authenticity of the Black Diaries. His article was intended as a review of a new book by Alfred Noyes entitled The Accusing Ghost or Justice for Casement which was due on sale the following day. Noyes argued that the diaries which he had never seen were forgeries. His was the first book to make the case for forgery since William Maloney’s 1936 volume The Forged Casement Diaries. M. Hyde’s review article presented evidence aimed at refuting the arguments set out by Noyes and closed with the following comment: ‘Finally, there is in the National Library of Ireland the manuscript of a poem by Casement, entitled “The Nameless One.” In my view it betrays strong homosexual feelings in its author. Those who may read it below can judge for themselves of this.’ The published poem consists of seven quatrains and does bear the interpretation indicated by M. Hyde. By simple inference readers would conclude that the author of the poem must also be the author of the diaries.
Only five days after publication the Sunday Times editor who commissioned the article contradicted M. Hyde’s published claim that there was such a manuscript in The National Library of Ireland (NLI). On 3rd May Leonard Russell, the literary editor, wrote ‘My information is that Casement wrote two poems under the same title, and that the one we published is on microfilm in the National Library of Ireland – it was given to the Library by the New York Public Library.’ In fact, M. Hyde did not state he had seen a manuscript; he alleged only the presence of a manuscript which he had not seen. In historical research and in legal procedures it is axiomatic that the provenance of disputed or contentious documents be securely established beyond all reasonable doubt.
Alfred Noyes was a retired professor of literature, a former Nobel Prize nominee and a respected poet and author. His name had been linked to the diaries controversy since 1916; while working in the News Department of the Foreign Office, he had seen the police typescripts at the height of the smear campaign As an Englishman, a distinguished professor and well-known author, his voice could not be ignored.
Far from being ignored, Noyes’ book provoked extensive press attention with articles and letters in The Nation, The Economist, the New Statesman, The Tablet, The Sunday Press, the Observer, The Spectator, the Evening Herald and not least inthe Sunday Times.
On the day following publication of M. Hyde’s article, a Dublin doctor, Herbert O. Mackey, visited NLI in Kildare Street and asked to see the manuscript of the poem published by M. Hyde. Staff brought him a manuscript of a poem entitled The Nameless One the text of which referred entirely to the Hamidian massacres of Armenians in 1895-6. (2) The poem consisted of six stanzas of six lines. Dr. Mackey was assured that this was the only manuscript poem of that name in the library.
Dr. Mackey was well known to library staff on account of his frequent visits to research Casement matters. He was chairman of The Casement Repatriation Committee which for years had sought the return to Ireland of Casement’s remains. On that Monday, 29th April, Dr. Mackey hand copied the text of the manuscript and also obtained a certified Photostat copy of the manuscript. He then wrote a letter to the Editor of the Sunday Times enclosing the hand copy of the poem and explained that this was a copy of the only manuscript in the library of that name. The letter was posted immediately.
Russell wrote on May 2 to M. Hyde advising him of the letter and poem sent by Dr. Mackey and asking ‘What do I tell him?’ On the same day he replied to Dr. Mackey: ‘The only thing I can do is to pass your letter on to Mr. Montgomery Hyde, and write to you again when I have his answer.’ The answer came only a day later as cited above but the locution ‘my information is …’ conceals the identity of who gave Russell the information. It follows from the letter of 3 May that M. Hyde did not take his version of The Nameless One from a manuscript when he visited NLI some ten days before publication of his article. Nonetheless, his article attests to the presence of a manuscript (A) while Russell’s letter of 3 May attests to the presence of a different manuscript (B) of the same name. However, manuscript (A) was not present on 29th April when Dr. Mackey enquired for it. Therefore M. Hyde’s claim in his Sunday Times article is false. It is an undisputed fact that the purported NLI manuscript of the published poem has never been seen by anyone at any time. It remains to determine the provenance of the published text.
Two years after the Sunday Times articles, the M. Hyde text of The Nameless One was published by Singleton-Gates in his Black Diaries of 1959 citing M. Hyde as source. The same text was republished by Brian Inglis in 1973 citing Singleton-Gates as source. Neither had seen a manuscript in NLI nor did they refer to a microfilm. This latter is explained by the fact that the purported microfilm source cited in Russell’s letter of May 3 remained private with Dr. Mackey and was discovered by this author only in February 2021.
Three microfilms of Casement documents in the Maloney collection were indeed made by NYPL in 1946 and were sent to NLI. Obviously, the poem published by M. Hyde did not come from either of the sources cited at the time. The fact that the source of the published poem was concealed in 1957 indicates that there was no option but concealment. It follows that there are solid grounds for suspicion that the published poem was not written by Casement.
The question which imposes itself at this point concerns the true provenance of the poem published by M. Hyde. The Ransom Centre at the University of Texas holds the papers of M. Hyde and these reveal the provenance to be former senator Frank MacDermot (3), barrister and journalist with the Sunday Times from 1938 to 1950. The poem typed on a single A4 page was sent from Dublin by MacDermot on 13 April directly to Leonard Russell at the Sunday Times. Therefore M. Hyde had no role whatsoever in sourcing and providing the poem for publication.
The papers in Texas also reveal that in early April 1957 MacDermot informed Russell of a “homosexual poem” which he could provide for the proposed article. MacDermot did not give Russell the source of the poem and this fact made Russell somewhat suspicious. On 15 April Russell wrote to M. Hyde confirming receipt of the typescript poem from MacDermot but asking M. Hyde to “authenticate its presence in the Casement material” on his visit to NLI. Obviously M. Hyde could not do this because there was no such manuscript in NLI. Nonetheless and without having seen any manuscript, Russell published the poem as a prize exhibit; it was a ‘scoop’ for the Sunday Times.
The Hyde papers also reveal that the proposal for the two Sunday Times articles came from MacDermot, not from M. Hyde, and that MacDermot did not wish his name to appear in print: ‘information is offered freely and gladly … provided my name is not mentioned.’ Nowhere in those papers is there an indication of how MacDermot came to be in possession of the text of the poem. However, the reference in Russell’s letter to Dr. Mackey of 3 May to a microfilm sent to NLI from New York Public Library can safely be attributed to MacDermot since in a letter sent from his Paris address dated 15th January, 1960, recently found in Dr. Mackey’s papers, he stated that the source of the poem was a microfilm in NLI.
‘The poem I referred to was “The Nameless One” – not that given by Dr Mackey but that published in the Sunday Times by Mr. Montgomery Hyde. You can find it on one of the Casement microfilms in the National Library.’
This establishes as fact that MacDermot knew in April 1957 of these microfilms in NLI but did not inform M. Hyde of their existence and deceived him into believing the source was a non-existent NLI manuscript. It also establishes that MacDermot knew of the existence of a manuscript of the same name in NLI (the Ottoman poem) and also knew of the existence of a manuscript poem in NYPL with the title The Nameless One. The question which imposes itself at this point is very obvious; why before May 3 did MacDermot conceal from Russell and M. Hyde the existence of the NY manuscript? A poem of that title was indeed listed in the file of Casement poems donated to NYPL by Dr. Maloney in December 1940. That MacDermot made no reference to it requires explanation and the only explanation which satisfies common sense and probability is that MacDermot knew the NY manuscript was another copy of the same Ottoman poem held in NLI. Casement often made more than one manuscript of his poems and manuscripts of several poems in NLI can also be found in the NYPL file.
MacDermot could not have foreseen the intervention of Dr. Mackey in NLI on 29th April or that he would send the Ottoman poem to Russell. This predicament constrained MacDermot to invent the implausible remedy of two poems with the same name. It is simply not credible far less probable that Casement wrote two poems with radically different themes and gave them the same title. They have nothing in common. There is no reason why any poet would do this anymore than a novelist would publish two utterly different novels with the same title.
In 1946 three microfilms of Casement documents in the Maloney Historical Papers were made by staff in New York Public Library. These were sent to NLI. A collection of poem mss attributed to Casement can now be found on one of the microfilms which are not listed in the main catalogue. Among these is a photograph of a ms poem with the mis-spelled title The Namless One. It is recorded that Dr. Maloney donated most of these mss to NYPL in December 1940. A typed contents list with the file in NY records a poem called The Nameless One as being part of the original donation. Other mss were added to the file on later dates.
Today in that NY file there is a ms of The Nameless One, with the title mis-spelled, and on the reverse of the ms there is a handwritten inscription which gives the date and place of composition which seems to authenticate the ms as being written by Casement. The NLI microfilm does not contain a photograph of this reverse inscription. The text on the NLI microfilm corresponds to the ms held today in NYPL but neither corresponds to the text printed by M. Hyde in the Sunday Times; there are several differences although they do not alter the overall meaning of the poem. The reverse inscription was not published by M. Hyde and his line 18 differs from that line in both the NLI microfilm and the present ms in NYPL.
The text published by M. Hyde was sent to him by Russell of the Sunday Times who had received it in the form of a typed A4 page from Frank MacDermot who by then was a retired journalist living in Paris. Much of the mystery about this poem and its suspect provenance arises from MacDermot’s enigmatic role in its publication. It follows that MacDermot did not obtain his text from either the microfilm or the ms now in NYPL. Where MacDermot obtained his text remains a matter of speculation.
MacDermot had long nourished an antipathy towards Casement which he himself admitted. ‘I dislike and disapprove of Casement quite apart from his sex life.’ (Letter of May 5, 1956 to M. Hyde.) According to his letter to Russell of 13 April, 1957 his interest in the diaries ‘began with the publication of Maloney’s worthless but mischievous book,’ in 1936 when he contacted Malcolm MacDonald, then Dominions Secretary, asking him to verify that the diaries were authentic and received ‘a written assurance (marked private and personal) … but he did not say that he had seen them or that they still existed.’ This was reported in MacColl’s 1956 book (page 290) without naming MacDermot who was described as ‘…a former member of the Dail. He has an unimpeachable record for disinterestedness and honesty.’ MacColl cited the un-named MacDermot; ‘But it enrages me that in Ireland and the U.S.A. the diary is now frequently referred to as an ignoble forgery.’ It was this antipathy which induced him to give credibility to the preposterous allegations made by Serjeant Sullivan whom he interviewed more than once.
Here are some of the anomalies in MacDermot’s role:
Although MacDermot proposed the articles and poem to Russell, and although he was an experienced journalist known to Sunday Times readers, he was reluctant to write the articles and preferred M. Hyde as author.
He did not name the poem when promising to supply it and referred only to a ‘homosexual poem’ which he allowed Russell to infer was a manuscript in NLI.
Although MacDermot already knew of the 3 NLI microfilms of Casement documents he did not mention a microfilm as the source of the poem.
He made it a condition of giving the poem text for publication that his name would not appear.
MacDermot knew there was no ms of the poem in NLI but he did not tell Montgomery Hyde.
In his letter of May 5 in the Sunday Times he did not comment on the false claim about a ms source in NLI.
Only when asked on May 2 about provenance did MacDermot tell Russell about a microfilm.
It is clear from these verified points that MacDermot intended to conceal his source from both his former colleague and his ‘old friend’ M. Hyde. That he did not name the poem when discussing the articles with Russell can only be explained by his not knowing the name. Since it is unthinkable that MacDermot had seen the poem he was proposing but had forgotten its name, this implies he had not seen the poem at that time. It follows that if he had not seen it he could not know that it was a ‘homosexual poem’ unless someone had told him of its topic. That unknown someone was almost certainly the person who gave the text to MacDermot. Unsurprisingly Russell was suspicious about its provenance but he managed to set aside his suspicion in order to obtain a ‘scoop’.
Two further facts must be considered. Before April 1957 there is no evidence that anyone had ever heard of this poem in any form and MacDermot was the first to refer to it. Secondly, Russell claimed in his letter of May 3, ‘Casement wrote two poems under the same title …’; the other poem is the Ottoman poem of 1898. But this is very unusual. Without Dr. Mackey’s intervention, MacDermot would never have made the improbable claim about two poems of the same title and the microfilm. Even then only Dr. Mackey was informed – privately – of the microfilm and no other researcher since 1957 has been aware of it. It requires to be explained why MacDermot intended to conceal the microfilm as his source.
There are strong reasons for thinking that when MacDermot first proposed the unknown poem to Russell in late March he was proposing a ‘work in progress’ – bait for a ‘scoop’. Indeed the second article filled an entire page of the newspaper and provoked dozens of readers’ letters. Among the very few published were two from MacDermot printed on 5th and 19th May. The first referred to the article of 28th April. In neither letter did this man with the ‘unimpeachable record for disinterestedness and honesty’ correct M. Hyde’s false claim about a manuscript in NLI. Nor did he refer to a microfilm from NYPL as source of the poem. Instead he allowed the falsehood to deceive hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide.
At this point one question imposes itself upon the rational inquirer; why did MacDermot not give as his source the ms entitled The Namless One now held in NYPL?
The published poem did not come from a ms in NLI as alleged. It did not come from a microfilm in NLI as alleged. It did not come from a ms in NYPL. Therefore it came from somewhere else and its true provenance in 1957 was concealed and this concealment was intentional and therefore necessary. There is only one explanation for the necessary concealment of its provenance – the poem was not composed by Casement. It follows that the ms entitled The Namless One now in NYPL was not written by Casement.
The mss on the microfilm are accompanied by anonymous handwritten notes which purport to authenticate the calligraphy as Casement’s hand. This writer has inspected many hundreds of Casement mss over several years and none of them bear any note purporting to authenticate the handwriting. It is a fact that archives do not assume responsibility for the authenticity of the documents deposited with them. Their task is simply to conserve and make them available to the public. Therefore, these side-notes on the NLI microfilm deserve the maximum suspicion because they are unique. Some special circumstance attaching to these poems made it necessary to add the side-notes. Since the notes are intended to authenticate the mss on the microfilm, that circumstance was the apprehension by the writer of the notes that some of the mss might arouse suspicion that they were not genuine. The notes were intended to respond to anticipated suspicion about the poems in the future. Therefore some circumstance was known to the writer of the notes when they were written. But since the notes are unsigned, the writer remains unidentified, therefore without authority to authenticate anything. Indeed, not only are the notes worthless as authentication but their presence itself signals that at least one of the mss will come under suspicion as not genuine. The poem which did come under suspicion from 1957 onwards was The Nameless One and that suspicion arose from its publication in the Sunday Times. Prior to publication that poem was unknown. There is evidence in the side-notes on the microfilm that this poem deserved ‘special attention’. The notes referring to the other poems simply claim the ms is in Casement’s handwriting. But the note for The Nameless One gives the following; ‘The Nameless One. Lines written in very great dejection at Genoa, Nov. 15, 1900 by Roger Casement in Casement’s handwriting.’ These twenty words about time, place and mood cannot be derived from the text of the poem. This side-note is almost twice the average length of the notes for the other mss. This ‘authenticating’ detail did not appear with the Sunday Times version which demonstrates that MacDermot did not obtain his text from the NLI microfilm. Since it is unthinkable that MacDermot would have concealed or ignored these ‘authenticating’ details, it can be deduced that he had not seen these details when he sent his text to Russell. Nonetheless, a version of this ‘authenticating’ side-note does appear on the reverse of the ms now held in NYPL. That version concludes with the words ‘before sailing on “Sirio” for Barcelona’ which are missing from the microfilm.
It can be reasonably concluded that the note-writer’s apprehension of suspicion concerned The Namless One rather than the other mss. That particular apprehension can only be explained by the writer’s awareness that a version of this poem was intended for publication as a prize exhibit in the Sunday Times. Thus it became necessary before publication to ‘authenticate’ all the poems on the microfilm.
Staff in NYPL have verified that none of these side-notes purporting to authenticate the mss can be found today in NYPL. There is, therefore, no evidence today that the side-notes existed in 1946 when the microfilms were made. Library staff today have never seen them. Readers must decide if they find it credible that curators of the Casement papers in NYPL were authorized to destroy documents which purport to authenticate the poem mss entrusted to their care. If a credible motive for this extraordinary destruction cannot be found, it follows that the side-notes were not destroyed and could not be destroyed because there were no side-notes in NYPL. This leaves only one explanation for their existence today on the NLI microfilm. In 1957 the microfilm was manipulated to include the forged side-notes and the forged version of The Namless One.
Some readers will understandably find this exposition challenging and perhaps confusing. They might attribute this to human weakness, indeed to a certain carelessness on the part of the principal actor, MacDermot, whose behaviour is difficult to rationalize. But MacDermot was an Oxford trained barrister, a banker, journalist and a politician who founded a very successful political party and whose Dail and Seanad orations were considered models of lucidity and coherence as were his journalistic writings. It is unlikely that his anomalous conduct was due to mere carelessness.
Whatever the motive for MacDermot’s conduct, publication of the poem in a mass-circulation newspaper reaching over a million readers in single day clearly served to overwhelm the arguments in Noyes’ book. This result would have been shared by British intelligence with considerable satisfaction. It can be reasonably discounted that MacDermot, a seventy-one-year-old retired journalist living in Paris, acted entirely on his own initiative. Moreover, there is no evidence that MacDermot had the literary skills and experience required to compose a well-made poem. Those who doubt that British intelligence was capable of producing the twenty eight lines of the poem seriously underestimate their ingenuity, experience and modus operandi.
It seems improbable that MacDermot was motivated exclusively by his acknowledged hostility to Casement and his lifelong pro-British sentiment. Certainly he was close to the British establishment and MI5 would not have felt awkward about approaching him. His undercover role in providing the poem and the timing of its publication strongly suggest that this was an intelligence services exercise. Now at last the nameless one has a name – Frank MacDermot. No doubt he knew the names of other ‘nameless ones’.
The author wishes to thank Dr. Philip O’ Connor for his vital research in NLI and Meredith Mann for his extensive and patient research in NYPL. Thanks are also due to Deirdre Mackey for permitting access to her grandfather’s papers.
1 – Montgomery Hyde (1907-1989), born in Belfast to a merchant family, was schooled in England, took a history degree at Queens, Belfast before studying law at Magdalen College, Oxford. He worked as a barrister and a private librarian until WW2 when he became an intelligence officer operating in New York, Gibraltar and Bermuda. From the early 30s he was a prolific author. After a false start, he won the North Belfast Unionist parliamentary seat in 1950 which he held for nine years. He became active in law reform, particularly homosexual law reform and published on Oscar Wilde, the Casement trial, homosexuality, pornography and on his secret service experiences. He had a long term interest in the Casement story and was a steadfast proponent of the authenticity of the diaries even before he saw them on August 10, 1959 when invited by the PRO along with René MacColl to witness the ‘first’ viewing.
2 – The Nameless One (the Ottoman poem) was written by Casement in November 1898 and the manuscript is held in NLI. Readers are referred to Dr. Pat Walsh’s explanatory article in Irish Foreign Affairs Volume 14, Number 2, June 2021, which elucidates the somewhat obscure references. (see below).
3 – MacDermot (1886-1975), described as an anglophile cosmopolitan, was born in Dublin, a son of the attorney general of Ireland. He was educated at Downside School in Somerset and studied law at Oxford. During WW1 he served in the Royal Army Service Corps and reached the rank of major. After several years as a banker in New York he returned to Ireland and entered politics, becoming founder and co-leader of the National Centre Party which merged with Fine Gael of which he became vice-president. Despite his opposition to Fianna Fáil and to De Valera, he joined Fianna Fáil in 1937, becoming a senator in 1938. He opposed the new constitution, the official status of Irish and was a critic of neutrality during WW2. In 1938 he became US correspondent for the Sunday Times, later moving to New York where he spent the remaining war years. In 1945 he became Paris correspondent for the Sunday Times where he lived until his retiral in 1950.
Paul R. Hyde
THE NAMELESS ONE
(Dr. Pat Walsh’s explanatory article in Irish Foreign Affairs Volume 14, Number 2, June 2021, which elucidates the somewhat obscure references.)
Roger Casement’s “The Nameless One”
Roger Casement wrote ‘The Nameless One’ at the end of November, 1898. He did so outside Lagos, on board the Gretchen Bolen, sailing to London. It is a poem largely about the massacre of Armenians by the forces of the Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid, known widely as “Abdul the Damned” in England. It is a vicious poem, couched in biblical/classical language, but its message is clear: the Sultan and his Empire is a product of Hell and should be consigned back to its place of origin. It was written when Casement was a fervent Imperialist going to assist the destruction of the independent Boer Republics and incorporating them in the British Empire.
Here is a transcription of ‘The Nameless One’:
Embodied pest! – thou Pharaoh in reverse
Who will not let the people go – nor stay;
To whom the rod of Aaron comes as curse
To turn to blood the waters of thy sway,
Stupendous in the vastness of thy crime,
Unpardoning; – and unpardoned through all time!
Lord of the Purple East thou art indeed –
Thy rule of thought ’twere hardest to assign,
Some minor Lord of Hell’s imperial seed
Must prompt thy role in this inferior line;
For thou art of the few among mankind
More vile in fact than thy villain mind!
What portion hast thou cast in the Crescent’s sheen?
Thine Orb is Algol’s variable mood:
A growing presage to the pale Armene
On Candia’s shore shrinking point of blood:
The “star of horror” tho’ it wax or wane
Be this the emblem of thy awful reign.
Thou murderer! with thy calling in thy face,
The poisoner’s smile, the vulture’s drooping stare –
Imperial ruffian in the Caesar’s place
Of Nero’s crimes the consecrated heir –
Be theirs thy fate – the opened vein, or cord
Of strangler’s art made perfect on its lord!
Yet ere thou go shall Christendom not smite
Thy laggard steps with more than empty word?
Hath man no monarch but must barter right
To win thy cunning smile, anointed Kurd?
Yea, thou shalt find thy trust in Kings decreed
By universal scorn a broken reed.
Yes, thou shalt find not Solyman’s eclipse
Magnificently total as thine own –
Lepanto’s gulf but swallowed up his ships,
This wider gulf shall swallow up thy throne;
And Hells’ expectant glare shall pale before
Earth wrath that lights thee to thy native shore.
Some translation/interpretation is necessary for the reader.In the first stanza Casement compares the Ottoman Sultan to Pharaoh, who had at least let his people go, rather than keep them in subjugation. The rod of Aaron was the instrument that God gave to Moses’s brother which conjured up the plagues and famines that led to Pharaoh dismissing the Hebrews. It was God’s power given to man and turned into a snake in Pharaoh’s court and Egypt’s waters to blood. The Ottoman Sultan possessed similar power, which was a curse to his subjects. History would not pardon him for his deeds, according to Casement.
In the second stanza Casement makes cutting remarks on the Ottoman lineage. The Sultan is a “minor Lord of Hell’s imperial seed” – the offspring of the Devil’s domain but not having the status of the Devil himself. The“inferior line” is a notion connected to English Social Darwinism. The Ottomans were criticized by British writers for their easy-going tolerance of races which, it was suggested, was leading to the demise of their empire. The British Social Darwinists were, in fact, appalled at the way the Ottomans had incorporated other races into the governing of their empire and had blended aspects of their cultures into the Ottoman mix.
‘Nationalism and War in the Near East’ by George Young, ‘A Diplomatist,’ edited by Lord Courtney of Penwith, and published by Oxford University Press in 1915 (at the time of the Armenian relocations) is a good example of this argument. The British and Ottoman Empires were seen as having entirely different notions of race and governing. It was argued that the British Empire was successful because it was founded on the principle of racial distinction and hierarchy whereas the Ottomans played fast and loose with these categories to the extent that, in the English biological view, they contravened the laws of nature, leading to an inevitable Ottoman extinction. They put this down to the Sultans having foolishly indulged in the race weakening practice of miscegenation (race mixing) by marrying (ironically) Armenians and Circassians etc. This had destroyed the racial stock and minds of the Ottoman dynasty by polluting it with lesser biological material. These notions led to a great eugenics movement being established in England presided over by Arthur Balfour and Winston Churchill at its first Congress in London.
Casement’s third stanza contains the line: “Thine Orb is Algol’s variable mood: A growing presage to the pale Armene”. The orb/authority of the Ottoman Sultan is likeAlgol, the “Star of Horror “which takes its name from the Arab phrase (Ras al Ghul) for demon’s head. The Greeks knew it as the Gorgon’s head and the Hebrews as the Satan’s Head. This star is found in the brows of Gorgon in the constellation Medusa. Medusa was, for the Greeks, the Lady of the Beasts and had hair of snakes turning those who saw her instantly to stone. Algol is a variable star, waxing and waning in brightness and darkness rather like the variable moods of the Ottoman Sultan who had the arbitrary power of destruction depending on his mood at the time.
There is a connection between Medusa and Crete and in Casement’s next line he refers to “On Candia’s shore shrinking point of blood: The “star of horror” tho’ it wax or wane.” Candia is Heraklion in Crete where in 1898 local Moslems rose up after Great Power intervention in support of a Cretan Greek insurrection demanding union with Greece. The Greeks had sent troops to Crete and also, in April 1897, attempted invasions of the Ottoman Empire. They were thoroughly defeated before the Europeans intervened and began occupying Crete under an Admiral’s Council. The local Turks were against plans to take the island out of Ottoman suzerainty and in the conflict they killed the British vice consul and some occupying soldiers and sailors. The Moslem leaders were subsequently hanged on the walls of Candia after Queen Victoria called for “drastic action” and the Turkish population was ethnically cleansed from the island. Interestingly the Cretan insurrectionary Venizelos took power after the transfer of the island to Greece. When he later seized power in Greece and helped the Allies undermine Greek neutrality Casement (in his later phase) accused him of responsibility for a coming Greek tragedy.
The next verse of “The Nameless One” refers to the caricature of Abdul Hamid often carried in Punch and other British periodicals – “the poisoner’s smile, the vulture’s drooping stare”. The “Imperial ruffian” is compared with the evil Emperor Nero who mercilessly persecuted Christians and fiddled while Rome burned, after organising its burning himself. He utilized the fire to rid himself of the Christians, whose growing power he feared. This, presumably, is meant to show that Sultan Abdul Hamid was inciting and killing the Armenians, without thought of the destruction he was bringing to his domain, to advance his own evil interests.
The next stanza reveals that Casement desired that the Great Powers should use more than words against the Ottomans and give more than empty promises of reform to the Armenians. This was a common complaint levelled at Conservative governments in Britain by English Liberals. They were more interested in geopolitics than humanitarianism and should have an ethical foreign policy instead. Christendom, which represented morality in the world, should “smite” (strike with a very firm blow) the Moslems. The Kurds, the main enemies and killers of the Armenians in eastern Anatolia, in particular, needed to be taught manners. By breaking the Sultan the Christian Powers would teach the Kurds a lesson in misplaced loyalty, suggested Casement.
The final stanza recalls Christian Europe’s great victories over the Moslem hordes from the East at the battle of Lepanto and sieges of Vienna. At Lepanto the Pope’s fleet had sent the Ottoman navy to the bottom of the sea, ending the Moslem threat to the Western Mediterranean. This was in 1571, before the rise of British sea power. At the two sieges of Vienna, in 1529 and 1683, the Ottoman land advance had been checked by Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire confined to the Balkans. This was “Solyman’s eclipse” – the eradication of the Ottoman threat originally brought by Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-66).
But Casement hoped for a greater eclipse for the Ottomans – that they and their Sultan be swallowed up into Hell, from whence the Turk originally came, their “native shore”.
At first sight Casement’s anti-Turk tirade seems to have been provoked by the “Hamidian Massacres.” But the date of the poem’s writing is important. The “Hamidian Massacres” occurred between 1894-6, around 5 years before Casement’s poetic outrage. So something else provoked the outrage, since it is inconceivable that such pent up anger was restrained over such a long period. There had to be a different trigger.
The trigger was presumably the outrageous visit of the German Emperor to the Ottoman Sultan only a month before Casement released his wrath on the “Nameless One.” This visit produced a deluge of hysteria in Europe with the “Armenian Massacres” at the forefront of the attacks on Kaiser Wilhelm.
British Foreign Policy was very much in flux in the mid-1890s. It was poised between that which upheld the peace and stability of Europe since the Vienna Congress in 1815 and the policy that led to the Great War of 1914. Up to that point Britain had upheld the Ottoman Empire as a great buffer against Russian expansion down to the Mediterranean. “The Russians shall not have Constantinople” was the popular refrain in England when Disraeli was prepared to go to war against the Tsar if he even thought about coming down to the Straits.
But when Lord Salisbury came to be British Prime Minister in 1895 he concluded that the Ottoman Empire had outlived its usefulness for Britain. It was beyond redemption, morally and physically. It could no longer do what Britain had required of it over the previous generations, and so Salisbury, acting as his own Foreign Secretary, flirted with the Tsar proposing the idea of ending the Great Game on good terms, to the mutual benefit, and carving up the Ottoman territories between them. The “Sick man of Europe” was to be put out of his misery for the benefit of all humanity, even its enemy component. All was needed was an agreement over his remains. But vultures are not good at negotiating over carcasses and the French vulture, which had circled over the potential carrion for longer than both the Russian and British predators, wanted a cut of the meat. It all proved too messy and complicated in the end. Salisbury failed and it was left to Sir Edward Grey, a decade later, to close the deal.
The Armenian revolutionary groups believed they had got signals that the intervention of the Great Powers would take place if they could provoke the Ottomans into a violent reaction. They attempted to do this but found that Britain had not changed its position at this point and Russia, therefore, could not act in the 1890s. The result was disaster.
A stranger had come, newly on the scene, who, seeing the sick man prostrate before the predators, suddenly had the bright idea of helping the man to his feet. Obviously he became an enemy of the vultures from that day. Kaiser Wilhelm blundered into this situation as a young and most unwelcome upstart. The Kaiser became an interloper through his visit to Istanbul and Palestine in 1898 and made war inevitable between Britain and Germany. The Kaiser declared his intention of preserving and consolidating some surviving states of the world against the British and French designs on them. He first enraged Britain by impudently sending a telegram of sympathy to the leader of one of the Boer Republics that Britain was intent on incorporating into its expanding empire. On the visit to the Ottoman Empire in 1898 he declared that a strong Moslem state was a necessary component of stable order in the world and signalled his intention of bolstering it through economic rejuvenation and the Berlin-Baghdad Railway.
This was the event that outraged Britain and brought the Armenian question back into play a month before Casement fulminated against “Abdul the Damned” and his problem from Hell (Wasn’t that the title of a book by the humanitarian interventionist Samantha Power that won her a prestigious prize and a career promoting the destruction of functional Moslem states. What was it said about history repeating itself as farce?).
Casement was not a particularly racist and bitter man. If he was a racist he was a racist because he was a British Imperialist. He was certainly a humanitarian. Humanitarianism and various other causes are used as weapons in the hands of Imperialist states.
Casement’s famous work and report on Belgian atrocities in Africa was later used by the British government to ensure the Belgians did not allow a traverse of their territory by the Germans, that might break the encirclement and blockade and prevent a world war. It was Britain’s intention to prevent a quick European war occurring in 1914 and instead grind down Germany in a global war of attrition, as well as taking the parts of the Ottoman territories it desired (Palestine and Mesopotamia as well as Egypt and Cyprus). When Casement witnessed this he freed his humanitarianism from Imperialism.
Armenian Massacres and Casement (1898 and 1915)
What were the “Hamidian Massacres”? They were Ottoman counter-insurgency operations conducted against Armenian revolutionary groups in Eastern Anatolia during 1894-6. In the course of these operations a sizeable amount of Armenians were killed both by regular Ottoman forces, Kurdish groups acting in the pay of the state (Hamidiye) or in their own interests, and local Moslems who took reprisals for previous killing by Armenian bands. The main events occurred in Istanbul, Sasun, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Zeitun, Trabzon and Van.
The Armenian/Moslem conflicts followed much the same pattern everywhere. Armenian revolutionary groups, hoping for western intervention, engaged in provocative acts such as firing from rooftops at crowds of Moslems at Friday prayers. A really provocative act occurred in Istanbul when Pasdermadjian and his Dashnaks assaulted the Ottoman Bank, casually blowing up a large amount of civilians. These provocations drew local Moslems into attacking local Armenians and state forces were employed into the areas of the attacks with predictable consequences. So, Armenian revolutionaries killed Moslems and Moslems killed Armenians in greater number because Turks and Kurds were the majority and more powerful. The Western reports contained reports of Moslems killing Christians but no reports of Armenian revolutionaries provoking the Moslems. The Armenian revolutionaries would have failed in their objectives without provoking these massacres. The Hunchaks and Dashnaks did not care how many ordinary Armenians died in reprisals for their provocations. The more the better to make as big an impression in the West as possible. And the numbers massacred were vastly inflated when the Ottomans failed to kill enough to disgust Christian Europe. In Sassun the British consul claimed 10,000 Armenians had been massacred. The consul later revised his figure to 900. A joint investigatory committee of British, French and Russian consuls later established the actual figure of 263 deaths (Sean McMeekin, Ottoman Endgame, p. 25). Often more Armenians died than actually existed and the actual figure is almost impossible to establish. Meanwhile the Hunchak and Dashnak revolutionaries were spirited out on western battleships and even granted pardons by the Sultan.
The massacres were the lever needed to provoke Christian outrage in the West and hopefully produce the Bulgarian model of intervention. In Bulgaria the “Bulgarian Horrors” of 1878 had produced Bulgarian independence.
The continuation of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire did not require a genocidal policy on the part of the Ottomans but the establishment of a nationalist Armenian state in Anatolia did.This was because, unlike the Bulgarians and Greeks in the old Balkan provinces of Ottoman Europe, who possessed majorities and many of the elements of nationhood, in none of the eastern provinces did the Armenians constitute a majority of the population. So whilst it was comparatively easy for Greeks and Bulgarians, once Western ideas of nationalism had reached them, to enlarge the Ottoman autonomy of their own community institutions into territorial independence, any attempt to transfer Armenian autonomy from a religious to a territorial basis was quite another matter. The population of the eastern provinces was such that a restoration of the old Armenian Kingdom was impossible without overcoming ten centuries of history through the construction of a homogeneous Armenian state. That would, of necessity, have involved the ethnic cleansing of large numbers of Turks and Kurds and almost certainly have required a policy of genocide against them to achieve a functional and stable Armenia. And that is why the Kurds fought for the Ottoman Sultan.
The Armenian revolutionaries hoped to repeat the Bulgarian example. They failed in 1894-6 but this not stop them playing the same game for the highest stakes in 1915. But this time Casement was no longer on their side.
Roger Casement wrote in The Continental Times in October 1915: “A fresh ‘Armenian Massacre’ having been deftly provoked by a conspiracy engineered from the British Embassy at Constantinople, whereby English arms, money and uniforms, were to be furnished to the Armenians on condition that they rose against the Turkish Government, England now turns to the humanitarian impulse of the American people to secure a fresh sword against Turkey. America is being stirred with tales of horror against the Turks – with appeals to American manhood on behalf of a tortured and outraged people. The plan was born in the (British) Foreign Office; and the agency for carrying through the conspiracy against Turkish sovereignty in Armenia was Sir Louis Mallet, the late British Ambassador at Constantinople.” (The Continental Times, 18 October 1915)
Also writing in The Continental Times, under the pen-name “Dr. John Quincy Emerson” Casement pointed to Britain’s breaking of the Cyprus Convention of 1878, concluded between Lord Salisbury (when he was Foreign Secretary) and the Ottoman Sultan, as an example of Britain’s bad faith: “England pledged her national word and ‘to defend the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan’ from Russian attack, and in return for this guarantee, the island of Cyprus was to be ‘occupied’ by her, Turkish sovereignty remaining legally intact, so that a point of d’appui for the defence of Asia Minor might be in the hands of the defending power. In 1914 Russia declared war upon Turkey and the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan are invaded. England, although she was under no treaty obligation to Russia or bound by any agreement to that Power, her hands being ‘perfectly free’, as Sir Edward Grey assures Parliament repeatedly, and although she was bound to defend Turkey from this very attack, proceeds to violate her treaty with Turkey and commits a double act of national dishonour. She not only does not fulfil her promise to defend the invaded region she has taken under her protection, but she seizes the very gage entrusted to her keeping to assure the fulfilment of that promise and she co-operates with the invader by herself assailing the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan. She annexes Cyprus and joins Russia in the assault on Asia Minor. So much for the sanctity of treaties when British interests call for their violation….” (“Still Further North”, The Continental Times, 22 October 1915.)
Casement no longer wanted the Ottoman Empire to go to Hell. It was one of Ireland’s “gallant allies” with which it fought alongside to secure its freedom.
When Casement left the Imperial orbit and began viewing the world in a new way the blinkers came off. He began seeing the true context of situations in the world and became a very dangerous man who had to be hanged by his former employers. And his very dangerous thoughts had to be erased by an attempted fouling of his memory.
The case of the curious “The Namless One”!
Finally, it should be noted that “The Nameless One” is not the only poem of that name attributed to Roger Casement. Mysteriously, another called “The Nameless One” first appeared in 1957 in the Sunday Times by Harford Montgomery Hyde of British Intelligence, Unionist MP for North Belfast and a proud self confessed forger (see The Catholic Herald, 25 February, 1966) who claimed it was based on a manuscript in the National Library which did not exist. Hyde, and then many others, used it to promote the Black Diaries story that the British used to secure the hanging of Casement. Unlike the poem dealt with above the provenance of this latter poem is unclear – and provenance is crucial in all matters relating to the Black Diaries and associated issues.
It is most peculiar that Casement would have written two poems within a couple of years of each other with the same name but on utterly different subjects and the manuscript of this other one was not “discovered” until the late 1990s in the New York Public Library with a misspelt title, other textual differences to that published in 1957 and not signed or initialled by Casement as was his usual practice. More curiously, Hyde did not give it as his source in the Sunday Times or in any of his extensive writings on Casement before or after its publication by him. How puzzling!
But such questions have not stopped many promoting this other poem, “The Namless One,” as something of greater importance than the real and fully authenticated above poem and is considered by them to be the clincher in the debate about the Black Diaries.
Well, Imperialism’s work is never done, it seems.
|‘England’s regard for the truth – by one who knows both’ by Roger Casement These articles by Sir Roger Casement, originally published in The Continental Times of Berlin, have lain forgotten for over a century. Now, for the first time, they are published as a collection by Athol Books to bring the authentic Casement to the general public. They take up the theme of his only published book, The Crime Against Europe: British Foreign Policy and how it brought about the First World War. They reveal Casement as a consistent Liberal when English Liberalism failed its great test in the ultimate moment of truth in August 1914. They show Sir Roger as a consistent Irish Nationalist when the Home Rulers collapsed into Imperialism. The ground shifted under his feet but he remained solid. For Casement action was consequent upon thought and knowledge. Remaining true to his principles he attempted to forge an Irish-German alliance. Not for Casement “my country right or wrong” but who was right and who was wrong. This collection explains why Casement did what he did and how it led him to Easter 1916. It shatters the British narrative of the Great War by “one who knew”. It shows why Casement was the most dangerous Irishman who ever faced up to Britain and why they had to hang him and attempt to foul his memory. They have not succeeded. ‘Casement – decoding false history’ Recent research by Paul R. Hyde Foreword by Angus Mitchell (120pp). ISBN 97 9781903497951 €15, £12 Published by the Aubane Historical Society 2021 The book published here is the result of original research undertaken since publication of Anatomy of a Lie by Paul R. Hyde in 2019. This book represents a further penetration into the century-long ‘Black Diaries’ controversy. Here readers can see for the first time the secret memo of 1914 which gave birth to the later scandal. Here Casement’s defence counsel, Serjeant Sullivan, is revealed as playing a major role in the deception. For the first time the seven conflicting versions of the diaries’ provenance are analysed with devastating conclusions. And here the astonishing revelations of an ex-naval officer, Commander Clipperton—suppressed by all biographers—can be seen for the first time. Published in 1973, Brian Inglis’ biography provided a new and convincing template for the interpretation of the Casement controversy; its consequences still resonate today. The Inglis template was convincing, detailed, clever and false. Without any source notes, it remains unsurpassed for the subtlety of its deceptions, rapidly becoming the standard biography which has conditioned the understanding of later generations of trusting readers and historians. But Inglis spun a web of deception exploiting logical fallacies, selective framing, omission, altered documents, innuendo, false attribution—all the sins of intellectual dishonesty. Anatomy of a Lie exposed many of his sins for the first time; this volume reveals even crimes against truth. Both available from: https://www.atholbooks-sales.org|