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the occasional ebullition of an irresistible and righteous indignation.


Charles Stewart Parnell was born at Avondale, county Wicklow, on the 27th day of June 1846. On the father's side he came of an English family which had been settled in Ireland since the Restoration. had as little of the Celt in him as Swift. His mother was the daughter of an American naval officer, of Ulster descent; and from her he imbibed that rooted animosity towards England which was the motive-power of his public action. That the English were "simply thieves" was the sum and substance of Mrs Parnell's political belief. The poor woman could not refrain from giving vent to her crazy views even at the table of the Lord Lieutenant; and she transmitted her peculiar form of monomania to more than one of her offspring. Charles, strangely enough, received his whole education in the detested country, showing himself at once idle and insubordinate. But he regarded both his school and college days "with peculiar aversion." "These English despise us," so the unhappy creature told his brother John, "because we are Irish "; and he seems to have kept harping on that string. A more foolish notion never entered a disordered brain. Any one who knows the English Universities must be aware how ridiculous the idea is. Were it not superfluous to cite instances, the mere mention of the name of King-Harman, so familiar and

so dear to Oxford men of twelve or fifteen years ago, would be sufficient to demonstrate its absurdity. An Irishman of the right sort will be welcomed as warmly and as heartily received as any Englishman or Scot. It is highly probable, we admit, that the "aversion" nourished by Mr Parnell was entirely reciprocated by its objects,— his schoolfellows, and his contemporaries at Cambridge. But the idiosyncrasy, and not the nationality, of the man was what provoked it. Englishmen, "thieves" though they may be, have a large share of those generous feelings with which that class of persons is proverbially credited. The undergraduates of the college which Mr Pepys once adorned were probably as fond of cricket as the future Irish leader. But when they discovered the spirit in which he engaged in that pastime when they proved him ill-tempered, and "ever ready to take advantage of every chance to outwit his opponents they doubtless preferred his room to his company, and told him so. Small blame to them if they did. Whatever else he may have been, Mr Parnell was no sportsman.

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His interest in politics was first aroused by the Fenian movement: and the significance of the fact becomes obvious when it is remembered, first, that Fenianism was a political, not an agrarian, propaganda; and, secondly, that it derived its momentum from acts of lawlessness and violence. Mr O'Brien (need we say?) treats us to a good

deal of the usual casuistry about the Fenian convicts. Courage, honesty, a keen point of honour, high-mindedness, truthfulness, punctilio, sensitiveness—such, it seems, were a few of their salient characteristics. Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien intend to kill Ser

geant Brett? Oh, dear, no! Nothing was further from their thoughts, poor fellows! "Their sole object was to rescue their comrades." To all which beautiful reasoning-so creditable to the forensic acumen of Mr Barry O'Brien, and to the fostering care of his alma mater, the Middle Temple-we can only reply by strongly recommending Irish patriots in the rescuing line of business to leave such dangerous playthings as loaded firearms at home, unless they have a fancy for a hempen cravat. We are quite willing to take it that the Fenians were the most virtuous and excellent fellows in the world. But we are perfectly sure that they were "nane the waur of a hanging." Mr Parnell, for one, made no mistake about them. "From the moment he first thought seriously of politics, he saw, as if by instinct, that Fenianism was the key of Irish nationality," and that without the help of the Fenians no man could lead the Home Rule movement. In them, to use his biographer's phrase, he found the lever on which his power turned. "I do not want," said Mr Parnell, when invited to join the I.R.B., which he declined to do-"I do not want to break up your movement. On the contrary, I wish it to go on. Collect arms, do everything that you

are doing, but let the open movement have a chance too. We can both help each other." In that last sentence rings the key-note of Mr Parnell's policy. Physical force by itself would come to grief, as it always had done. On the other hand, a genuinely constitutional agitation would be merely futile. The true means to the end was a Parliamentary campaign, with the Revolutionists massed behind the Parliamentary forces. There must always be a body of men willing and able, upon his instructions, to sound a rousing peal in the chapel-belfry. We congratulate the Gladstonians upon their quondam ally.

In 1875, when Mr Parnell entered the House of Commons for the first time as member for Meath, the Irish party was led by Mr Isaac Butt, a man of considerable humour and of many agreeable gifts, but a man for whom it is scarcely possible to entertain very much respect. To him belongs such credit as is due for inventing the plausible expression "Home Rule." As Mr O'Brien discloses in one of those bursts of candour which give his work its principal value, "he thought the old cry of 'Repeal' would frighten the English, but that the phrase 'Home Rule' would commend itself to every one as reasonable and innocent." Truly there is much in a name ! Mr Butt had not made much progress with his cause in the House of Commons, and Mr Parnell resolved upon a complete change of method. The concessions which could not be extracted from the good nature of Great

Britain should be wrung from her fears. The conception was not wholly original. "Butt's a fool, too gentlemanly; we're all too gentlemanly," had been the terse and sweeping commentary of a member of the Irish party, the exceptional baseness of whose mind was only equalled by the exceptional deformity of his person. This being combined the moral and physical peculiarities inseparably associated with the fictitious character of Mr Daniel Quilp; and he it was to whom first occurred the brilliant idea of making our representative institutions ridiculous by deliberately obstructing every species of public business. When Mr Parnell, however, appeared upon the scene, Quilp yielded precedence to the genius of a superior strategist. The new-comer was not hasty, but proceeded by degrees. He acquired an unrivalled knowledge of the rules of the House by gradually breaking them. He learned how to keep his finger on the pulse of that singular assembly, and to gauge the limits of its patience and toleration to a nicety. But he rarely dropped the mask. The amendments which he brought forward in such profusion were drawn with consummate care and skill. He hoodwinked the occupants of the Government and the Opposition benches alike. The Radicals fondly believed that something other than pure obstruction was his aim, and that he was as genuinely solicitous as themselves to subvert the discipline of the army,


example, without

having any more sinister object beyond. Mr Gladstone, it will be remembered, was busily engaged during those momentous years in promoting the interests of Russia and thwarting the policy of Great Britain in the near East. Sir Stafford Northcote, for all his amiable qualities and sterling ability, was not the man to grasp the true character of the conspiracy thus set on foot to destroy the constitution. Before very long, Mr Parnell ousted Mr Butt from the leadership of the Irish parliamentary party. This was his first great and palpable triumph. Butt had steadfastly refused to abandon the arts of conciliation and persuasion. He was consequently displaced by a vote of the "Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain,” which was largely under the control of the Fenians. The year 1877 marks the formal adoption of the

new policy: the policy of badgering, wearying, and threatening the British Parliament on the one hand, and of simultaneously backing-up parliamentary proceedings by violence in Ireland on the other.

Let us for a moment recapitulate Mr Parnell's sentiments, as discovered by his faithful and admiring biographer:

"He resolved to wring justice from England, and to humiliate her in the process. He wanted not only reparation but vengeance as well" (i. 98). "He regarded Englishmen as enemies, and

he would treat them as enemies. He did not believe in negotiations. He believed in fighting. The fighting force in Ireland was the Fenians" (i. 103). "Had he attempted to break up Fenianism, he would have gone to pieces. He therefore leant on it; he walked on the verge of treason-felony,

and so won the hearts of many of the rank and file" (i. 157).


This was his frame of mind, this his position, when the agrarian agitation of 1879 was started under the auspices of the ticket-of-leave man, Davitt, among others of his kind. The Fenians rallied in large numbers to what Mr Barry O'Brien justly describes as one of the most lawless movements which had ever convulsed any country." Mr Parnell contributed not a little to foment the turmoil. He advocated "boycotting" in terms absolutely unmistakable. He made the celebrated "bread - and - lead" speech, for much less than which many a rogue has been deservedly hanged. But he was always a little nervous of agrarian agitations. Not that he had a weak and childish antipathy to murder, mutilation, or any species of cruelty when applied to other people. He had all a great man's superb contempt for other people's sufferings. "An outburst of lawlessness in Ireland was regarded by Parnell simply with a view to its effect on the national ' movement (i. 375). What he dreaded was lest the peasantry, having secured the coveted portion of plunder, should settle down into a quiet and peaceable mode of life. He cared not two straws whether his countrymen were povertystricken or prosperous, miserable or happy. He cared a very great deal about the humiliation of England. The end to which the Land League was to serve as a means was

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Beaconsfield to the Duke of Marl"My Lord Duke," wrote Lord borough in the spring of 1880, "a danger in its ultimate results scarcely less disastrous than pestilence and famine, and which now engages your Excellency's anxious attention, distracts Ireland. A portion of its population is attempting to sever the constitutional tie which unites it to Great Britain in that bond which has favoured the power and prosperity of both."

What a torrent of derision this celebrated letter elicited from all the superior and thoughtful persons! Many weak-kneed Conservatives, with the pusillanimity which has too often disgraced their party, would have disowned it if they decently could. But wisdom is justified of her children; and subsequent events (to say nothing of Mr Parnell's biography) have conclusively shown that Lord Beaconsfield's view of the situation and his statement of the issue at stake were the true ones.

The general election of 1880 sent Mr Parnell back to Westminster with a "tail" of rapscallions and ruffians, the like of whom had never sate in a

British Parliament. Next year brought forth a Coercion Bill, calculated to produce the maximum of irritation with the minimum of effect, and also a Land Act which no words can adequately condemn. Of all Mr

Gladstone's attempts at constructive legislation, none have turned out such shameful failures as his abortive efforts to settle the Irish land question. Many systems of land tenure may be found in the world, some good, some bad, and some indifferent; but not one is so demonstrably imbecile-not one is so illogical in theory and so inequitable in practice as that set up by the Irish Land Acts of 1870 and 1881. True, it broke faith with the landlords and robbed their pockets, and that in the eyes of certain persons is of the essence of land-law reform. But it communicated the benefit of the spoil not to the community at large, nor yet to succeeding generations of occupiers, but to a strictly limited class,-to the present tenants, and to the present tenants alone. Nay more, it practically secured a recurrence of those very evils which it was meant to cure; for when an occupier has to pay a large sum of money every year, it matters not whether that sum represent rent paid to a landlord, or interest on the purchase-price of the outgoing tenant's interest in the holding. Consider, too, the administration of the statute of 1881. It has been violently attacked by the landlord party. Let us hear what the ingenuous Mr O'Brien has to tell us about it :

"Parnell had little faith in the

Land Court per se. He believed that the reduction of rents would be in exact proportion to the pressure which the League could bring to bear upon the commissioners. 'By what rule,' I once asked an Irish official, 'do the Land Courts fix the rents?' 'By the rule of funk,' was the answer. Parnell resolved that the 'rule of funk' should be rigidly enforced. By the 'rule of funk' he had got the Land Act. By the 'rule of funk' he was determined it should be adminis

tered" (i. 302).

Was there ever а more infamous travesty of justice?

At the very moment when Mr Parnell was meditating how most effectually to prevent the Act of 1881 from benefiting anybody, it pleased Mr Gladstone, with much pomp of oratory, to lay him by the heels. The Premier's victim and the Premier's enemies for enemies he had, like a certain eminent architect and land-surveyordid not scruple to attribute this act to personal pique, as who should say that Mr Parnell was not giving the Land Act a fair chance. We know now that Mr Gladstone was much too good to have been actuated by that sort of motive. Indeed, no one but a very good man would have ventured to do many of the things he did. As for Mr Parnell, he went off to prison with the prophecy on his lips that Captain Moonlight would reign in his stead: which, curiously enough, proved a true word. Outrages increased in number, audacity, and horror,

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