From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Letter to R. J. Kelly of Dublin
Dear Sir, — Very many thanks for your note. I am an Imperialist because I believe the whole to be greater than the part, and I would always willingly sacrifice any part if I thought it to the advantage of the whole. It was the apparent enmity of Ireland to the Empire which held me from Home Rule for many years, and it is still that view which is hardest to overcome.
But I came to understand that these cheers for the enemies of the Empire were symptoms, and not the disease, and that, if you want to remove symptoms, it is not good treatment to continue the cause of them, but rather to alter that, and then the symptoms go of themselves. It seems a simple proposition, but nothing is simple when human prejudice and party politics distort it.
I hope the Nationalists will soon cease to allow their opponents the use of the Union Jack as a symbol. More Irishmen have died for that flag than men of any other race in proportion to numbers. It is the sign of the Empire which Ireland has helped to build, and which, be the local exception what it may, has stood for freedom and progress all the world over. Britain, be the past what it may, has honestly tried to do its best for Ireland for at least one long generation of mankind — the one party by legislation, the other party by endeavouring to restore Ireland's Legislature. Surely the days of bitter feeling are drawing to an end, and the Throne and the Flag should be recognised as they are everywhere recognised in the Empire, as being high above the clouds of political It may be objected that it is putting the cart before the horse, but I am convinced that, if the Flag was honoured in Ireland as elsewhere, it would weaken British resistance to Home Rule more than any other cause. Folk do want to be reassured upon this point, that an Irish nation would be a loyal friend and not a scheming enemy. Of course, the whole lesson of history is that it would be so. This has always been the result of past grants of freedom to various portions of the Empire, but people, especially biassed political people, have always some reason why each particular case should be an exception to a general rule.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex, April 2, 1912.