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people do not appreciate me, they only howl with joy
because I have been found within the law. The Eng-



lish make a law and bow down and worship it till they
find it obsolete long after this is obvious to other na-
tions then they bravely make another, and start afresh
in the opposite direction. That's why I am glad Ire-
land has a religion; there is so little hope for a nation
that worships laws."

And when I persisted, "But don't you feel a little
excited and proud when they all cheer you, really you?"
and the little flames showed in his eyes as he said, "Yes,
when it is really me, when I am in the midst of a peasant
crowd in Ireland. Then I feel a little as I do when I
see you smile across the street at me before we meet,
but for these others it is then I know how I hate the
English, and it is then, if I begin to feel a little bit elated,
I remember the howling of the mob I once saw chasing
a man to lynch him years ago. Don't be too pleased
with the clapping of these law-lovers, Queenie. I have
a presentiment that you will hear them another way
before long, and I am exactly the same, either way!"

At the National Liberal Club, at which Sir Frank
Lockwood presided, Mr. Parnell and Lord Spencer shook
hands for the first time. When Parnell rose to speak
he received a perfect ovation. He said:

"There is only one way in which you can govern
Ireland within the Constitution, and that is by allow-
ing her to govern herself in all those matters which can-
not interfere with the greatness and well-being of the
Empire of which she forms a part. I admit there is
another way. That is a way that has not been tried
yet. . . . There is a way in which you might obtain
at all events some present success in the government of
Ireland. It is not Mr. Balfour's bastard plan of a semi-
constitutional, a semi-coercive method. You might find
among yourselves some great Englishman or Scotchman,



who would go over to Ireland her Parliamentary rep-
resentation having been taken away from her and
would do justice to her people notwithstanding the com-
plaints of Irish landlordism. Such a man might be
found who, on the one hand, would oppose a stern front
to the inciters of revolution or outrage, and on the other
hand would check the exorbitant demands of the gov-
erning classes in that country, and perhaps the result
might be successful. But it would have to be a method
outside the Constitution both on the one side and on
the other. Your Irish Governor would have to have
full power to check the evil-doer; whether the evil-doer
were a lord or a peasant, whether the malefactor hailed
from Westminster or New York, the power should be
equally exercised and constantly maintained. In that
way, perhaps, as I have said, you might govern Ireland
for a season. That, in my judgment, from the first
time when I entered political life, appeared to me to be
the only alternative to the concession to Ireland of full
power over her own domestic interests, and her future.
In one way only, I also saw, could the power and influ-
ence of a constitutional party be banded together with-
in the limits of the law; by acting on those principles
laid down by Lucas and Gavan Duffy in 1852, that
they should hold themselves aloof from all English politi-
cal parties and combinations, that they should refuse
place and office for themselves or for their friends or
their relations, and that the Irish constituencies should
refuse to return any member who was a traitor to those

In July Parnell was presented with the freedom of the
City of Edinburgh. In his speech of acknowledgment
he said:

"In what way could Ireland, supposing she wished to



injure you, be more powerful to effect injury to your
Imperial interests than she is at present? If you con-
cede to her people the power to work out their own fu-
ture, to make themselves happy and prosperous, how
do you make yourselves weaker to withstand wrong-
doing against yourselves? Will not your physical capac-
ity be the same as it is now? Will you not still have
your troops in the country? Will you not still have all
the power of the Empire? .... In what way do
we make you weaker? In what way shall we be stronger
to injure you? What soldiers shall we have? What
armed policemen shall we have? What cannons shall
we have? What single means shall we have, beyond the
constitution, that we have not now, to work you injury?"




" We went as children joyous, or oprest,
In some absorbing care, or blest,
In nodding conversation hand in hand."


MY aunt appeared to me to be failing in health a good
deal at the beginning of 1888, and, though she some-
times seemed to be stronger, and chatted with all her
old interest in the things of the past, there were days
when she was so quiet and drowsy that I feared to rouse
her by talking. At other times she would like me to
talk and read to her as usual, but was so languid and
tired that a little smile and pressure of the hand I held
was the only response she made. In April she had a
slight attack of bronchitis, and her doctor ordered her
opium to ease her lungs. She much objected to all
opiates, but her doctor's treatment seemed to ease her.
She would not let me sleep in her house, as she thought,
as usual, that it would "disorganise the household," but
I went now nearly every night across the park in the
fragrant spring nights to inquire, under her maid's win-
dow, if Mrs. "Ben" was asleep.

The owls had nested for years in a great tree by my
aunt's bedroom windows, and I loved to watch them
in the moonlight hawking for the food they had to sup-
ply in sueh abundance now to the screeching owlets in
the nest. The old birds used to sit on Aunt Ben's



window-sill, and hoot, and had done so, much to her
pleasure, for the sixty or seventy years of her residence
in the house; but now her maid shook her head sadly,
as she leant out of the window to tell me of her mis-
tress's condition, saying "That's an omen, m'am; the
dear mistress must be going soon." I answered irrita-
bly that the owls had hooted there since Mr. Benjamin's
time, as her mistress had often told her, but felt her
"time will show, m'am," to be unanswerable.

On these May nights, if he was at home, Parnell
would walk across the park with me and wait on a seat
for me till I had obtained the latest bulletin.

One morning, very early, when her night had been
restless, I made Mary Ann (my aunt's personal maid)
come down and let me in. On going up to the great
four-post bed where the dear little old lady lay, looking
as small and frail as a child, she put out one, now fee-
ble, white hand, and held mine. I told the maid she
could go and rest a bit, and I would call her if my aunt
wanted her.

When she was gone, my aunt, who was breathing
with difficulty, whispered as I bent down to kiss her
hand, "You do believe, do you not, my Swan?" I an-
swered, "Yes, auntie, of course I do believe, most firmly."
She said, "I am glad. I wish you could come with me,
my darling!" and I sobbingly told her that I wished I
could too.

I stayed by her side, and smoothed her hand till she
ceased to breathe, and then waited by her as all her
servants who had been with her for many years filed
past the bed, and took a last look at their stern, but
just and much-loved mistress.

She left a great void in my life, and the sensation of
being always wanted and tied to one place that I had



This portrait was coloured for Mr. Farnell and always carried by him until his death.
He had it with him in Kilmainham


sometimes felt so keenly hard I would now have given
much to feel again. With this old lady died, so far as
my acquaintance went, the last of the old world that
old world of leisure and books and gentle courtesy of
days when men might wear their gallantry without fool-
ishness, and women knew the value of their sex.

Through all those years in which I waited on my
aunt I never heard her use a clipped word, or use a sen-
tence not grammatically perfect and beautifully rounded
off, and although in the hurry of modern life I some-
times felt impatient when chided for some swallowed
pronunciation or ignored g's, I look back upon the years
of my life spent in that old-world atmosphere as a very
precious memory.

After my aunt's death Eltham became intolerable to
me, and I took a small country house near Motting-
ham till I could let my own house. Directly we left
Eltham the pretty garden was devastated by relic-hunters,
who pulled the place to pieces in obtaining mementoes
of "the house where Parnell had lived.'*

The house at Mottingham was damp, and we longed
for the sea.

For various reasons we had been obliged to relinquish
any idea of living in the little house we had finished,
with so much pleasure, at Eastbourne, and at last we
had removed the few things we had stored there, and
in 1887 had finally decided to take the end house of
Walsingham Terrace (No. 10), Brighton. Shortly after
my aunt's death we went down to live there. The
position then was attractive to us: cornfields from one
side of the house away up to Shoreham basin and har-
bour, a waste of hay at the back of the house, an ex-
cellent train service and a sufficient distance from Brigh-
ton proper to enable us to avoid the crowd. While we



were living there people used to walk and drive out to
see "Parnell's house," but this was not particularly
annoying, as when he was at home we went out early,
or late anyhow, at a time when the average person
is kept at home by appetite. Personally, if it was not
glaringly inconvenient, I was always rather proud and
interested in the popular attention Parnell attracted
wherever he went.

Here Parnell had the dining-room as his own sitting-
room, where he kept the roll-top desk I had given him
for all his papers and political work, while down in the
basement there was a room in which he had a furnace
fitted up, and where we used to burn the crushed ore
before assaying it. We spent many hours down there,
and I sometimes feared the excessive heat must have
been bad for him; but he did not think so, and would
become so absorbed in this work that I used to have the
greatest difficulty in getting him out for the gallop on
his horse President across the Downs, which did him so
much good.

I found at length the only way was to get his cap
and whip and show them to the dogs. Immediately
I did this they would begin to bark wildly and jump
up at him to make him start for the run they loved
so much. Parnell would then say reproachfully, "Oh,
Queenie, how can you deceive the poor dogs like that?"
and I would answer that the only way to keep them
believing in us was to go at once for that belated ride.
Once started none of the party, dogs or horses, enjoyed
it more than he.

In this house we had from the side windows of Par-
nell's and from my room in which he afterwards died,
a view of the most wonderful sunsets I have ever seen
in England. Then the whole west was a veritable fairy -



land of gold and crimson, and the harbour and Shore-
ham town, with the little country church of Aldrington
against the setting of the Downs, were touched with a
pearly mist of light that lifted them far out of the pro-
saic ugliness we knew by the blank light of midday.
Parnell used to say to me as we walked away to the
golden harbour, "Is it really like this, my Queen, or as
we see it at noon?" I could only reply that it was
both the both that made life at once so interesting
and so difficult.

Often in the following spring my King and I would
drive out as far as the foot of the Downs near the train-
ing stables beyond Southwick; and then, climbing to
the crest of the hills, go for long walks, away over the
Downs, walking or resting as we felt inclined, returning
as night fell, to drive home.

One sunny morning, lengthening into a brighter day,
I especially remember, when the south-west wind sent
the flickering shadows across the Downs where its sea-
scents mingled with the sweet pungency of the young
herbage. As we walked along hand in hand we were
gay in the glorious spring of the year, feeling that while
love walked so closely with us youth could not lag too
far behind, and in the wide expanse of the South Downs,
which appealed so much to both our natures, we forgot
all care and trouble.

Very far away, standing clear against the skyline,
there was a figure of a shepherd, his flock a little lower
showed grey against the dull green distance. He stood
motionless, as these lonely Down shepherds do. The
tumbled heap by him, we said, was his dog. So we
watched him some miles away for more than an hour.
We wondered what he thought of, and whether all this
lonely loveliness meant anything to him, or if he would



be glad to change his quiet life for the rush and hurry
of a town.

Presently, from where we sat, at the highest point of
the hills, we saw some horses going at full gallop over
the training ground, the horses straining at the bit, and
seemingly glad to be alive. The dull, thud of the hoofs
came up to us to mingle with the incessant trilling of
the skylarks and the bleating of the distant sheep.
Now we turned seaward, overlooking Shoreham Har-
bour, and watched the vessels going out to sea on voy-
ages fraught with unknown possibilities.

In spite of the excessive beauty of the scene, in the
region of thought it had a saddening effect on us; and,
as the last gleams of sunlight fell across the sea, lightly
touching the sails as they slipped out of the light into
the wider darkness of the leaden waves, we turned and
retraced our steps, I leaning on his arm as we went down
to the valley again.

A favourite haunt of ours at Brighton was a little
shop in Pool Valley altogether devoted to the sale of
pebbles and crystals of various sorts, also of jet. Par-
nell did not like the jet, but was greatly interested in
the pebbles and the polishing of them.

He spent much time after we had found this shop in
watching the process of cutting crystals and polishing
the pebbles. Onyx ball beads he selected in sizes with
the greatest care, and had a long chain of them made
for me with a gold ball between each two onyx beads.
To these he had added a locket composed of crystal
and onyx, and was much pleased with the result.

The chain, when finished, was a little heavy, but he
had had such a happy time in selecting each bead and
so carefully matching the markings that I wore it with
a light heart till he noticed it was rubbing my neck,



and insisted upon my taking it off there and then for

Another favourite haunt of ours was Smith's second-
hand bookshop in North-street, where he would stand
for an hour at a time poring over old books on mechanics,
or mining, while I dug out "bargains" amongst the poets
of a bygone age, and discussed books with the proprietor.

Parnell always tried to get a few days' shooting every
year in Ireland on the grouse moors he hired at Anghav-
anagh, and I had much pleasure in getting together
hampers of provisions for him in London to take over
with him, as the arrangements he had been used to
before I met him were decidedly primitive and very
trying to his health. I always found that a good supply
of hams and tongues, with the very best tea that I could
procure, a new spirit kettle (every year) and a goodly
supply of rugs and blankets rendered him sufficiently
comfortable, and returned him to me without the acute
attacks of indigestion that had formerly rendered these
holidays among the mountains so little gain to him in

I had to insist upon his learning to make his own
tea to save him from the "stewed" tea made by his
servant in Ireland, and I found it better to label the
tea I got for his personal use: "For presents," and that
which he might give away: "For Mr. Parnell's own use,"
as he said plaintively, "They seem to like my tea best!"

He used to love these shooting expeditions, but would
never stay more than a few days, as he could not bear
to be away from me longer. I used to wish it were
possible for me to go to Ireland with him in order that
he might enjoy his shooting to the full, but that was im-
possible, and he always declared that "Three or four
days broke the back of that little shoot, anyhow!"



For many months Parnell tried to invent a vessel
which would so cut through the water as to obviate
any sensation of the motion of the waves. When he
had done this the ship was to be built, and I would
be enabled to cross the Atlantic as comfortably as I
now made the journey to Brighton! Incidentally this
invention was also to make our fortunes. Although the
building of the ship had to be indefinitely postponed,
the models made and tested by Parnell were really won-
derful. He had had no training in mechanics, nor did
he know anything of shipbuilding or engineering, except
such information as he obtained from the various books
he read for amusement at rare intervals but these
models he made, and tried off the underdeck of the
Chain Pier at Brighton, were extraordinarily ingenious.

I do not venture to record this on my own authority,
for I know absolutely nothing of such matters, but the
firm, who cast the copper "floats" for him from his
plans, and continually altered and corrected the models
after trials, came to the conclusion that Mr. "Smith"
was on the verge of a very useful invention; though,
to his annoyance, they would not dissociate the torpedo-
like structure from Portsmouth and the Admiralty. I
frequently took my children down to Brighton for a
few days' change, and on these occasions Mr. Parnell
would stay at a place near the Chain Pier, and we would
spend most of the day on the underdeck of the pier-
head trying the "invention."

Once a hobby like this got hold of him he could think
of nothing else in his leisure time, and this note is a
specimen of many sent round from his hotel:

Am making new float, which will sink five feet, and shall
have it ready to try to-morrow at 12.30. Will meet you on



Chain Pier at that hour. Am anxious to make this trial
before returning, and we will take Hassocks and Burgess Hill
in afternoon on way back to look at houses to let.

This new model we tried in all weathers, and, as at
last it seemed to answer perfectly, with the exception
of its lack of speed, he said he would patent it, and get
someone who had more knowledge than he to overcome
the speed difficulty. To my uninitiated mind the thing
looked like a treble torpedo-boat. Had he lived I think
he would have gone further into the matter, but, by
the time this was finished, one thing after another oc-
curred with such rapidity that it was perforce laid aside.

I remember one rough, stormy day when we had been
much worried and were wondering whether the time of
waiting we had imposed upon ourselves (that Ireland
might not risk the leadership which seemed her only
hope) till the way could be opened to our complete union
before the world, was not to be too long for our endur-
ance. It was a wild storm, and Parnell had to hold
me as we slowly beat our way to the pier-head. The
chains were up to prevent anyone going on to the
lower deck, but Parnell lifted me over, and we tried
the "float," though it was useless to do so, as the waves
shattered the slight thing against the pier before Parnell
could sink it to the required depth.

Then we stood looking out at the great waves so
near, and shaking the whole pier-head in their surge.
Parnell remarked that the old place could not last long,
and as I turned to get a fresh hold on him, for I could
not stand against the wind, and the motion of the sea
sickened me, the blazing fires in his eyes leapt to mine,
and, crushing me roughly to himself, he picked me up
and held me clear over the sea, saying, "Oh, my wife,



my wife, I believe I'll jump in with you, and we shall
be free for ever."

Had I shown any fear I think he would have done
it, but I only held him tight and said: "As you will,
my only love, but the children?" He turned then, and
carried me to the upper deck, hiding my eyes from the
horrible roll and sucking of the sea beneath our feet.

In going through some old letters I have found this
copy of one sent by my husband to Cecil Rhodes, and
think it is sufficiently interesting to publish, though it
must stand alone, as, the bulk of what was an extremely
interesting interchange of views is lost. Parnell had taken
considerable notice of Rhodes's tactics in South Africa,
and when he received a letter from Rhodes expressing
the wish to see him he took an early opportunity of
calling upon him informally at the Westminster Palace
Hotel, in London.

DEAR SIR, I am much obliged to you for your letter of
the 19th inst., which confirms the very interesting account
given me at Avondale last January by Mr. McNeill as to his
interviews and conversations with you on the subject of Home
Rule for Ireland. I may say at once, and frankly, that you
have correctly judged the exclusion of the Irish members
from Westminster to have been a defect in the Home Rule
measure of 1886, and, further, that this proposed exclusion
may have given some colour to the accusation so freely made
against the Bill that it had a separatist tendency.

I say this while strongly asserting and believing that the
measure itself was accepted by the Irish people without any
afterthought of the kind, and with an earnest desire to work
it out with the same spirit with which it was offered a
spirit of cordial goodwill and trust, a desire to let bygones be
bygones, and a determination to accept it as a final and satis-



factory settlement of the long-standing dispute between Great
Britain and Ireland.

I am very glad that you consider the measure of Home
Rule to be granted to Ireland should be thoroughgoing, and
should give her complete control over her own affairs with-
out reservation, and I cordially agree with your opinion that
there should be effective safeguards for the maintenance of
Imperial unity. Your conclusion as to the only alternative
for Home Rule is also entirely my own, for I have long felt
that the continuance of the present semi-constitutional sys-
tem is quite impracticable. But to return to the question
of the retention of the Irish members at Westminster. My
own views upon the points and probabilities of the future,
and the bearing of this subject upon the question of Imperial
federation my own feeling upon the measure is that if
Mr. Gladstone includes in his next Home Rule measure the
provisions of such retention we should cheerfully concur with
him, and accept them with goodwill and good faith, with
the intention of taking our share in the Imperial partnership.
I believe also that in the event I state this will be the case,
and that the Irish people will cheerfully accept the duties and
responsibilities assigned to them, and will justly value the
position given to them in the Imperial system. I am con-
vinced that it would be the highest statesmanship on Mr.
Gladstone's part to devise a feasible plan for the continued
presence qf the Irish members here, and from my observa-
tion of public events and opinions since 1885 I am sure that
Mr. Gladstone is fully alive to the importance of the matter,
and that there can be no doubt that the next measure of
autonomy for Ireland will contain the provisions which you
rightly deem of such moment.

It does not come so much within my province to express
a full opinion upon the larger question of Imperial federation,
but I agree with you that the continued Irish representation
at Westminster immensely facilitates such a step, while the
contrary provision in the Bill of 1886 would have been a bar.


Undoubtedly this is a matter which should be dealt with in
accordance largely with the opinion of the colonies themselves,
and if they should desire to share in the cost of Imperial
matters, as undoubtedly they now do in the responsibility,
and should express a wish for representation at Westminster,
I certainly think it should be accorded to them, and that
public opinion in these islands would unanimously concur in
the necessary constitutional modifications. I am, Dear sir,

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Online LibraryKitty O'SheaCharles Stewart Parnell; his love story and political life (Volume 2) → online text (page 10 of 20)