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telegraph to me if it is possible to postpone it. If] it does

not come on at reasonable hour, if impossible to postpone it,

can you see me for few minutes if I go up?

Mr. Parnell wished the Bill postponed in order to have
time to get the full voting strength of his Party to-
gether, if the full voting strength was required.

In a letter to me under date of August 25th, Lord
R. Grosvenor assumed that I should be satisfied with
the arrangements made for the Registration Bill. He
seemed very much shocked by recent speeches of Irish
members in the House, and he alluded to the restrain-
ing influence of Parnell's presence; Parnell had been ill
the previous Saturday and unable to attend the House.
Lord Richard said some very kind things about Parnell's
good intentions.


Here are some further "notes" for consideration by
Mr. Gladstone for my use in the negotiations: -

The Irish Local Government Board should sanction the
giving of outdoor relief in the Unions scheduled under the
provisions of the Emigration Sections of the Arrears Act, and
more especially should this be done in the case of evicted
families, hundreds of whom, owing to inability to pay costs,
have been unable to obtain the benefit of Arrears Act, and
are living in extreme poverty.


He (Parnell) has been considering what useful measures
for Ireland the Government might pass this session without
the expenditure of much time or incurring any risk, and he
has selected the following as complying with these con-
ditions :

(1) The Registration Bill of the Chief Secretary with the

amendments of Mr. Dawson.

(2) The Labourers Bill.

(3) The Poor Law Guardians Election Bill, as read a second

time and including the abolition of the proxy vote.

He also thinks that the Government should agree to de-
fine the expression "undue influence" in the Corrupt Practices
Bill in a manner satisfactory to the Irish members.

If he were assured of the passage of these measures, and
if the Registration Bill were passed or material progress made
with it in the intervals of the stages of the Corrupt Practices
Bill, he feels sure that he could influence his friends from time
to time during the rest of the session so as to secure consid-
erable facilities for Government business, except the Criminal
Code Bill, which he must continue to oppose owing to cer-
tain objectionable provisions contained in it.

A suitable definition of "undue influence" is of great im-
portance, as it would enable him to afford his friends a fairly
sufficient reason for withdrawing from further opposition to
the Corrupt Practices Bill, since it is not desirable that he



should take them into his confidence as regards the prospect
or promise of the legislation for Ireland indicated above.



The lessee of any holding who at the expiration of any
lease existing at the passing of the Land Law (Ireland) Act,
1881, would be deemed to be a tenant of a present ordinary
tenancy from year to year, at the rent and subject to the
conditions of the lease, shall from and after the passing of
this Act and notwithstanding that such lease has not expired
be deemed to be a tenant of a present tenancy at the rent
mentioned in said lease, and his holding shall be subject to
all the provisions of the said Act of 1881 with regard to pres-
ent tenancies. Provided that such lessee shall not be deemed
to be a present tenant.

(a) Where substantial consideration has been given by
such lessee for the said lease and such lessee objects to be-
ing deemed a present tenant.

(6) Where such lessee is not the immediate occupying ten-
ant of such holding.

(c) Where the holding is of such a character as to come
under any of the exceptions contained in the fifty-eighth sec-
tion of the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881.

(From Arrears Act, s. 13). Suspension of Proceedings. -
Where any proceedings for the recovery of the rent of a
holding to which this Act applies, or for the recovery of such
holding for non-payment of rent have been taken before or
after an application under this Act in respect of such hold-
ing, and are pending before such application is disposed of,
the Court before which such proceedings are pending shall,
on such terms and conditions as the Court may direct, post-
pone or suspend such proceedings until the application under

this Act has been disposed of.


Revision of Rents.

(1) The landlord or tenant of any holding, subject to stat-



utory conditions, or such landlord and the tenant jointly, at
the expiration of three years from the commencement of
the statutory term, may apply to the Court to revise the
judicial rent of such holding.

(2) In making such provision, the Court shall have regard
to the prices of the principal articles of produce of such holding
as compared with the prices when the judicial rent was fixed.

Date of Judgment.

In any application to the Court made within three months
after the passing of this Act for the fixing or revision of a
judicial rent the judgment of the Court shall date and have
effect as from the date of the gale-day coming next before the
date of the passing of this Act.

Shall apply to any rent due on ordinary payable on the
last gale-day of the present year.

Willie was very anxious that Mr. O'Hart (O'Hart's
Irish Pedigrees) should be granted a pension from the
Civil List. Mr. Gladstone had already declined to in-
clude him in the List of Beneficiaries. Now at Willie's
urgent request I most reluctantly asked Mr. Gladstone
to reconsider his decision as to Mr. O'Hart, and on
September 19th, 1884, received a snub for my pains. I
had told Gladstone that Lord Spencer was credited with
having expressed the opinion that Parnell had some con-
nection with the Phoenix Park murders. Gladstone now
said he was sure that Spencer did not really believe this.

In October, 1884, Mr. Trevelyan ceased to be Irish
Secretary and entered the Cabinet as Chancellor of the
Duchy of Lancaster. The vacant post was offered to
Mr. Shaw Lefevre, but on hearing that Lord Spencer
intended to seek for the renewal of the Coercion Act
when it expired in September, 1885, he refused the
offer. Mr. (afterwards Sir Henry) Campbell-Banner-
man became Chief Secretary on October 24th.




"No one has the right to limit the aspirations of a people."


DURING 1884 Parnell had kept quiet, and my negotia-
tions on his behalf with Gladstone were intermittent.
In the early part of the year, however, a document
of tremendous import was submitted none other than
"A Proposed Constitution for Ireland," drawn up by
Parnell, which was as follows :

An elected Chamber with power to make enactments re-
garding all the domestic concerns of Ireland, but without
power to interfere in any Imperial matter.

The Chamber to consist of three hundred members.

Two hundred and six of the number to be elected under
the present suffrage, by the present Irish constituencies, with
special arrangements for securing to the Protestant minority
a representation proportionate to their numbers; the remain-
ing 94 members to be named in the Act constituting the

The principle of nomination regarding this proportion of
members to last necessarily only during the duration of the
first Chamber.

The number of elected members, suffrage, and boundaries
of constituencies for election of succeeding Chamber to be
capable of alteration by the preceding Chamber, excepting
those special arrangements for securing to the Protestant
minority a proportionate representation, which arrangements
shall be fixed and immutable.


The first Chamber to last for three years, unless sooner
dissolved by the Crown.

The Chamber shall have power to enact laws and make
regulations regarding all the domestic and internal affairs of
Ireland, including her sea fisheries.

The Chamber shall also have power to raise a revenue for
any purpose over which it has jurisdiction, by direct taxa-
tion upon property, by Customs duties, and by licences.

The Chamber shall have power to create departments for
the transaction of all business connected with the affairs over
which it has jurisdiction, and to appoint and dismiss chief
and subordinate officials for such departments, to fix the term
of their office, and to fix and pay their salaries; and to main-
tain a police force for the preservation of order and the en-
forcement of the law.

This power will include the constitution of Courts of Jus-
tice and the appointment or payment of all judges, magis-
trates, and other officials of such Courts, provided that the
appointment of judges and magistrates shall in -each case be
subject to the assent of the Crown.

No enactment of the Chamber shall have the force of law
until it shall have received the assent of the Crown.

A sum of one million pounds sterling per annum shall be
paid by the Chamber to the Imperial Treasury in lieu of
the right of the Crown to levy taxes in Ireland for Imperial
purposes, which right would be held in suspense so long as
punctual payment was made of the above annual sum.

The right of the Imperial Parliament to legislate regarding
the domestic concerns and internal affairs of Ireland will also
be held in suspense, only to be exercised for weighty and
urgent cause.

The abolition of the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
and all other offices in Ireland under the Crown connected
with the domestic affairs of that country.

The representation of Ireland in the Imperial Parliament
might be retained or might be given up. If it be retained



the Speaker might have the power of deciding what questions
the Irish members might take part in as Imperial questions,
if this limitation were thought desirable.

Such Naval and Military force as the Crown thought req-
uisite from time to time would be maintained in Ireland out
of the contribution of one million pounds per annum to the
Imperial Treasury; any excess in the cost of these forces over
such sum being provided for out of the Imperial Revenue (i. e.
by Great Britain).

The Militia would also be levied, controlled, and paid by
the Crown, and all forts, military barracks, posts, and strong
places of the country would be held and garrisoned by the
Crown forces.

No volunteer force to be raised in Ireland without the con-
sent of the Crown and enactment of the Imperial Parliament,
and, if raised, to be paid for and controlled by the Crown.

On May llth, 1884, Lord Richard Grosvenor wrote
a non-committal acknowledgment of the receipt of this

The Government was then devoting its attention to
the Franchise Bill and the Redistribution of Seats Bill,
and it had been decided to incorporate Ireland in the
scheme. This Parnell considered to be of tremendous
importance. Speaking in December, 1883, at the Dub-
lin banquet held in his honour, he alluded to the force
which had then been gained for Ireland. The change
was, in fact, enormous. Instead of the franchise being
confined practically to the farmers, it would now in-
clude the labourers and the cottier tenants, and the
number of voters in Ireland would go up from 200,000
to 600,000. How would those labourers and cottier
tenants vote? Lord Randolph Churchill (who supported
the Bill against his Party) and Mr. Chamberlain thought,
strangely enough, that their inclusion would help the



landlord interest. Parnell knew better, and when the Bill
became law, in December, 1884, he leapt into action. This
was the weapon for which he had been waiting. From
December to March of the following year he went through
Ireland organising for the imminent General Election.

In the early months of 1885 the Liberal Government
was in a bad way. It had narrowly escaped defeat
on the vote of censure for its failure to relieve Gordon
at Khartoum. The Cabinet was divided against itself.
Many of the Liberal members were inclined to rebel,
and the Irish were working with the Tory Opposition.
Ireland was the rock upon which the Government was
to come to a wreck. The majority of the Cabinet was
in favour of continued coercion. Mr. Chamberlain, Sir
Charles Dilke, and Mr. Shaw Lefevre were strongly
opposed to it. But on the subject of local government
for Ireland the difference of opinion was even more
dangerous. Chamberlain submitted a scheme for an
elective National Council in Dublin, with control over
administrative Boards and Departments, but not over
the police and the administration of the law. It had
been ascertained indirectly that Parnell would accept
this scheme, and would not oppose a moderate Coercion
Act. Gladstone was prepared to go a step farther and
give the National Council control over the police. A
vote was taken in the Cabinet. All the Peers, with
the exception of Lord Granville,* were against, and the
Commoners, with the exception of Lord Hartington,
were in favour of the scheme. Therefore "for the pres-
ent" the scheme was abandoned. This was in May.
The battle over coercion remained to be fought. In
less than four weeks the Government was out of office.

*Lord Morley has stated that Granville voted for the scheme, and Lord
Eversley that all Peers voted against it.



Gladstone had not been able to make up his mind
to abandon coercion altogether, though he had endeav-
oured to sweeten the draught with the promise of a Land
Purchase Bill, and Parnell had been able to arrange
privately with the Conservative Opposition that if they
came into power coercion would be dropped.

On June 8th the Government was beaten on the
second reading of the Budget. The ostensible question,
which concerned nobody, was that of a tax on wine and
beer. The whole of the thirty-nine Irish members voted
for the Opposition, and the Government was beaten
by twelve. Thereupon Gladstone resigned and Lord
Salisbury formed his first Ministry. Parnell held the
key of the position. He had put the Tories into power;
at his will he could put them out again.

Lord Carnarvon became Lord Lieutenant, Sir Michael
Hicks-Beach Chief Secretary, and the intention was
expressed to govern Ireland by constitutional methods.
Coercion for the time being was abandoned, Lord Car-
narvon had thought much on Irish questions, and his
rule was in marked contrast to that of his immediate

On July 14th Lord Richard Grosvenor suddenly re-
membered Parnell's draft Constitution for Ireland which I
had submitted to Gladstone. Did it still hold good? To
this letter I replied, and on July 23rd Lord Richard wrote
again asking for a plain answer. But this at the moment it
was impossible to give, for the attitude the Tories would
take up with regard to Home Rule was not yet certain.
Lord Carnarvon, the Lord Lieutenant, was believed to be
very favourably disposed to the Irish demands, and Lord
Randolph Churchill seemed willing to go far. On July
28th Lord Richard wrote again, imploring us to show our
hand. Evidently the Irish vote was worth securing.



It is interesting to note that on July 17th Mr. Cham-
berlain, speaking at Holloway, urged that the pacifica-
tion of Ireland depended on the concession to her of
the right to govern herself in the matter of purely local

At the end of July Parnell met Lord Carnarvon in
London. The Lord Lieutenant had already been in
communication with Sir Charles Gavan Duffy and Mr.
Justin McCarthy upon the subject of Home Rule, and
there can be little doubt he was in earnest in his agree-
ment with the principle. How far he was used by his
Party as a cat's-paw to play for the Irish vote is another
question. At least Lord Salisbury knew of the proceed-
ings of his colleague, and was perhaps not averse to
using Lord Carnarvon's convictions to win Parnell's
support at the forthcoming elections without giving a
definite Party pledge. The conversation between Lord
Carnarvon and Parnell led the latter to believe that the
Tories were prepared to support a measure of local gov-
ernment for Ireland. But how far were the Liberals pre-
pared to go?

On August 4th Mr. Gladstone wrote to me further
with reference to the proposed constitution for Ireland.
Did this represent Parnell's views now? He was urgent
in asking for an answer. In one of my notes I had spoken
of the suggestion that a proposition of his son, Mr. Herbert
(now Lord) Gladstone, should be substituted for it. Mr.
Gladstone now assured me on the best authority that no
such proposition had been made. I gathered, however,
that his son had made some suggestions.

To this a long and comprehensive reply was sent -
apparently too long and comprehensive. No doubt he
wanted a definite and limited scheme to be set before
him. I had referred in my letter to certain changes



which had occurred since the draft was sent. I knew
that Gladstone knew what those changes were, for the
frantic appeals for a definite statement were precisely
the counter-bidding against the heightened biddings of
Lord Randolph Churchill and the Conservative Party
in which Gladstone declared he would not engage. He
was obviously disinclined to make an offer until Parnell
had pinned himself down to a final demand. If only
he could know what the Home Rule Party wanted!

The following day Mr. Gladstone set out on a yacht-
ing expedition (to Norway), and a few days later, on
August llth, Parliament was prorogued.

Parnell opened his campaign in Dublin on August
llth, when he announced that he and his Party would
stand for an Irish Parliament and nothing else. There
was no talk now of a National Council. Lord Hart-
ington replied declaring Parnell's proposals to be fatal
and mischievous, and on September 9th Lord Richard
wrote, on behalf of Mr. Gladstone, who was back in
England, pleading for details.

On October 7th Lord Salisbury, speaking at New-
port (Mon.), made a diplomatic statement about Ire-
land which suggested much and promised nothing.

Later in the month I sent Mr. Gladstone a paper
containing the views of Mr. Parnell, and on November
3rd Lord Richard Grosvenor replied, referring me to
the Government of the day, but thanking me for the
information. There was some mention in the letter
of Willie's prospects for Mid-Armagh. Apparently that
affair was off, since Willie had himself written to such
an effect. Willie was given a gentle rap on the fingers
for having in Ireland talked over the plans for his elec-
tion with another person.

On November 9th, at Edinburgh, Mr. Gladstone



made a speech which rivalled Lord Salisbury's in elu-
siveness. The constitutional demands of Ireland must
not be disregarded, but it would be a vital danger if
at such a time there was not a Party politically inde-
pendent of the Irish vote.

Parnell desired precisely the contrary, and on Novem-
ber 21st, the eve of the General Election, a manifesto
was issued calling upon Irish voters in Great Britain to
vote against the Liberal Party.

Before Parnell's interview with Lord Carnarvon I
had sent Gladstone Parnell's suggestions for a new
Home Rule Bill. Mr. Gladstone wrote expressing satis-
faction at the news of the intended interview, but he
would not be drawn. Nevertheless Parnell made an-
other attempt, and on December 14th, 1885, addressed
the following letter from my house at Eltham: -


December Uth, 1885.

MY DEAR MRS. O'SHEA, It appeared to me from Mr.
Gladstone's utterances in Scotland that he would admit the
justice of Ireland's claim for autonomy, and also the expedi-
ency of soon endeavouring to satisfy it provided the result of
the General Election went to show an overwhelming pre-
ponderance of the opinion of the representatives of Ireland
in favour of this claim. A very proper reservation was also
made regarding the maintenance of the supremacy of the
Crown in Ireland and all the authority of Parliament neces-
sary for this supremacy.

We now know that more than five-sixths of the Irish mem-
bers elected by household suffrage have been returned, mostly
by very large majorities, as supporters of the institution of
an Irish Parliament, that a clear majority, seventeen out of
thirty-three, from the Ulster constituencies have been so re-
turned, and that only one county and one city in Ireland



Antrim and Belfast respectively, are without Nationalist rep-

Under these circumstances does it not seem that the ques-
tion has now resolved itself firstly, into a consideration of
the details of the proposed settlement, and secondly, as to
the procedure to be adopted in obtaining the assent of Par-
liament, and if needful of the British electorate to this
settlement? As regards the first matter, the rough sketch,
which I sent you some weeks back, appeared then, and still
appears to me, the smallest proposal which would be likely
to find favour in Ireland if brought forward by an English
Minister, but it is not one which I could undertake to sug-
gest publicly myself, though if it were enacted I would work
in Ireland to have it accepted bona fide as a final settlement,
and I believe it would prove to be one.

This proposal was carefully designed with a view to pro-
pitiate English prejudice, and to afford those guarantees
against hasty legislation, interference in extraneous matters,
and unfair action against particular classes, apprehended by
many persons as a result of the establishment of an Irish
Parliament. It did not involve a repeal of the Act of Union,
an irrevocable step, and the Imperial Parliament having con-
ferred the privilege by statute would thus always be in a posi-
tion to recall it by a similar method, if the privilege was abused.

It provided for a special proportionate representation for
the large Protestant minority of Ireland. It also left to the
Imperial Parliament the practical decision from time to time
as to the matters which did or did not come within the prov-
ince of the local legislature. These are all important con-
cessions and guarantees, and some opinion must surely have
been formed by now upon these and other details.

As regards the question of procedure, I am desirous of
knowing after a time whether the solution of the Irish ques-
tion would be made the first and only business by a Liberal
Government till the question was settled. The reform of
procedure would probably be found not so necessary or press-


ing if the Imperial Parliament could get rid of its Irish work.
It appeared to me that the best way to turn out the present
Government would be by a general vote of censure without
special reference to Ireland, or by a vote directed against
some act of policy other than Irish, for which occasion may
shortly arise. We might then either abstain or vote for the
censure as might be deemed best. I have not seen Lord C.,*
and shall probably not arrange to do so for a week or two, as
I wish to know how the other side is disposed first. I have
always felt Mr. Gladstone is the only living statesman who
has both the power and the will to carry a settlement it would
be possible for me to accept and work with.

I doubt Lord C.'s power to do so, though I know him to
be very well disposed. However, if neither party can offer
a solution of the question I should prefer the Conservatives
to remain in office, as under them we could at least work out
gradually a solution of the Land question. You will see from
this letter that I am very much in the dark, except as to my
own mind and that of Ireland, that I want information as to
whether Mr. Gladstone has, as I suppose, accepted the prin-
ciple of a Chamber for Ireland with power over her domestic
and internal affairs, and, if so, which, if any, of the details
contained in sketch he objects to or is in doubt about. Fur-
ther, it is important that I should be advised before the meet-
ing of Parliament what procedure would in his judgment
be best for bringing about that change of Government which
would enable Mr. Gladstone to deal authoritatively with the
Irish question. Yours very truly, CHAS. S. PARNELL.

I sent this letter to Gladstone, and on December
16th, three days before the completion of the General
Election, he dispatched from Ha warden a long reply;
but he said nothing more than he had already said in
public at Midlothian and elsewhere and in private letters
to me. Throughout this period the one fact apparent

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