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*Lord Carnarvon.



was that he would pledge the Liberal Party to nothing
until he was in office and supported by the Irish Party.
While there was a Tory Government in alliance with
Parnell he would do nothing. Whether or no he was
sincere in his advice to us to take Home Rule rather
from the Tories than the Liberals if possible because
many Liberals would support a Tory Home Rule Bill,
while all Tories would oppose a Liberal measure this
I cannot say. He offered it constantly, though he urged
that a trafficking with both Parties for the purpose of
getting the best terms possible, when, as in the end it
must be, avowed, would injure a Tory measure and
kill a Liberal one.

The result of the election was that the Tories in alli-
ance with the Parnellites outnumbered the Liberals by
four. The Liberals in alliance with Parnell would have
outnumbered the Tories by 167. Parnell had swept
the board in Ireland, and in the House of Commons he
was dictator.

Immediately after the General Election the Salis-
bury Cabinet met to consider its Irish policy, and Lord
Carnarvon at once tendered his resignation. The con-
clusion to be drawn is obvious. Compact or no com-
pact, Lord Carnarvon had reason to believe that the
Cabinet were prepared to pursue a certain line of policy
which it now appeared they had no intention of pur-
suing. The reason for the volte face, too, is plain. Tories
plus Parnellites formed too narrow a majority of the
House for Governmental purposes. The Irish were no
longer of any use, and they were abandoned.

Correspondence with Mr. Gladstone continued, and
his letters were still cautious. He seemed to fear the
soreness of certain Liberals over the Parnellite opposi-
tion at the polls, but he professed to be very willing to



co-operate with the Tory Government in the matter
of Home Rule, and he stated that he had acquainted
the Government with his disposition. Letters of De-
cember 19th, 22nd, and 24th are all more or less to this
effect. He harped on the word "bribe."

As a matter of fact, Mr. Gladstone had approached
the Cabinet through Mr. Balfour, both personally and
by letter, urging that it would be a calamity if this great
question were to fall into the lines of Party conflict.
The Cabinet seem to have treated Mr. Gladstone's
letter with scant respect. In spite of Lord Carnarvon's
tendered resignation, Lord Salisbury was resolved to
make no concession to Home Rule. Lord Carnarvon
agreed not to resign until the opening of Parliament.

A statement in the Press inspired by Mr. Herbert
Gladstone to the effect that Mr. Gladstone was pre-
pared to concede an Irish Parliament in Dublin was
declared by the latter to be "inaccurate and not au-
thentic." But on December 26th he issued a memo-
randum to certain of his more reliable followers to the
effect that he would support the Tories in a Home Rule
policy which should satisfy him and the Irish Nation-
alists, and that if he were called upon to form a Gov-
ernment the preparation of a scheme of duly guarded
Home Rule would be an indispensable condition.

On December 29th I wrote to Gladstone, forwarding
a memorandum from Parnell. On the last day of the
year he sent me a memorandum marked "Secret," in
which he summarised the position between Parnell and
himself. It amounted to this: Parnell wanted a definite
pledge that there should be no more coercion before
throwing the Tories out of power and putting the Lib-
erals in. Gladstone, while realising the gravity of
O'Brien's statistics in the Nineteenth Century as to the



result of exceptional legislation, refused to give this
pledge. He alluded philosophically to the probable course
of events if the Address went through unamended. Mr.
Parnell wrote to me to the following effect embodying
the points I was to pass on to Gladstone.

DEAR MRS. O 'SHEA, In reply to your query it would
be inexpedient that the Government .... But, in any
case, we should move a series of separate amendments to the
Address one asking for a suspension of the support by the
naval, military and constabulary forces of the Crown of
ejectments, pending the consideration by Parliament of the
proposed Land measure; another praying the Crown to re-
move Chief Justice May from the Bench; a third condemn-
ing the practice of jury packing, resorted to by the Crown in
all the recent trials; a fourth asking her Majesty to fulfil
the promise contained in the Speech of last year for the equal-
isation of the borough franchise in Ireland to that in Eng-
land; a fifth condemning the proclamation of the meetings
at Brookeboro' and Cullohill; and a sixth protesting against
the proclamation and additional police force sent to several
of the counties.

This would be an assault along the whole line of English
misgovernment in Ireland, and should, in my opinion, be
delivered before we allow the Address to leave the House.
The first fortnight or so of the session would thus be occu-
pied while the Government were making up their minds as
to their proposed Land Bill.

At the meeting of the Party I think of proposing a reso-
lution recommending the minority to pay more deference
to the opinion of the majority than they did last session,
and urging all the Irish members to sit together in opposi-

Kindly let me know what you think of these proposals.
Yours truly,




These blanks were left in the letter as the phrases
omitted were too confidential to be written. I learnt
them and quoted them to Gladstone.

On January 9th, 1886, Gladstone wrote a reply in
the usual vague terms. On the 24th he referred to
what he had said before about communications from
him to Parnell before the Tory Government had had
its chance. As to Mr. Jesse Collings's motion he was
not yet resolved. But two days later he had appar-
ently made up his mind that the motion would benefit
the recently enfranchised agricultural labourers and please
their representatives, for he announced his determination
to support it.

On January 29th he wrote asking me to assure Par-
nell that should he become Prime Minister the objec-
tion to private negotiations would disappear.

To this letter I replied : -

Mr. P. has not expressed any apprehension of the nature
which has been reported to you.

Yesterday Mr. Labouchere introduced the subject to him
and stated that he had been requested by Mr. Herbert Glad-
stone on your part to ask whether he (Mr. P.) would have
any objection to "open communications" of the nature of
those which took place with Lord Salisbury on the Redis-
tribution Bill, if they should become necessary by and by.

Mr. P. put off Mr. Labouchere by saying that he would
think about the matter.

If you should in future have any messages such as those
which Mr. L. has represented himself as having been author-
ised to make to him during the last few days, he thinks it
would be more prudent that they should be sent through
myself or Lord R. Grosvenor, as Mr. P. has not a high opinion
of Mr. L.'s discretion.

When the time comes he will be glad to learn from you



through Lord R. Grosvenor or myself the method you think
it best to adopt for the purpose of the full interchange of
views you deem desirable and indispensable with regard to
Irish autonomy.

It may interest you to learn that some days since Mr. P.
sent Mr. Harrington to Ireland, with directions to overhaul
the doings of the branches of the National League, and with
power to dissolve any that would not keep within bounds.
The first result of this you will see in enclosed cutting.

K. O'S.

From Lord Richard's reply of January 30th I gathered
that Labouchere, as usual, had been romancing. Lord
Richard seemed of opinion that there were more desir-
able Mercuries.

The difficulty with Mr. Labouchere was that he had
the habit of mixing his own opinions with those of the
person to whom he spoke and delivering the mixture
in public.

On January 21st Parliament met * to transact busi-
ness, and the resignations of Lord Carnarvon and Sir
W. Hart Dyke were announced. Notice was given of
a new Coercion Act, and on the 26th the Government
was defeated by 331 to 252 votes not, however, on
an Irish amendment, but on the motion of Jesse Coil-
ings raising the question of "three acres and a cow.'




"Memories, images and precious thoughts
That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed"


BEFORE forming his Cabinet Mr. Gladstone enunciated
the necessity for an examination whether it was prac-
ticable to establish a legislative body to sit in Dublin,
and to deal with Irish, as distinguished from Imperial

Five of the members of his last Cabinet Lords
Hartington, Derby, Northbrook, Selborne and Carling-
ford signified their absolute opposition to Home Rule.
Two Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Trevelyan agreed
to the inquiry provisionally. Two Sir Charles Dilke
and Mr. Shaw Lefevre had been defeated at the Gen-
eral Election. Seven - Lords Granville, Spencer, Kim-
berley, Ripon and Rosebery, Sir William Harcourt and
Mr. Childers agreed absolutely. Four new men
Mr. Morley, Mr. Campbell-Bannerman, Mr. Mundella
and Lord Herschell came into the Cabinet. Mr.
Morley became Irish Secretary. A scheme was drafted
by Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Morley. It consisted of two
Bills, a Home Rule Bill and a Land Bill. On the scheme
being laid before the Cabinet Mr. Chamberlain and Mr.
Trevelyan resigned.

On April 8th, 1886, the evening of the introduction
of the Home Rule Bill, Mr. Gladstone sent his private



secretary down to Eltham with a letter to me asking
me to telegraph one word, "Yes," if he was to intro-
duce the Bill that night. In this case he was to speak
shortly after four o'clock. Mr. Parnell had not given
him the required answer earlier, as he had up to the
last moment been trying to induce Mr. Gladstone to
give the Bill wider and more comprehensive clauses than
the G. O. M. would assent to. Now, however, he had
said to me, as he started that evening for the House:
"This Bill will do as a beginning; they shall have more
presently. If the Old Man wires to know if it is all
right answer 'Yes." Mr. Gladstone had previously
arranged with me that I should be at home waiting for
his message in order that I might let him know that
Parnell and the "Party" were ready.

His messenger was so late that I simply snatched
Gladstone's letter from him and, scribbling my "Yes"
on the enclosed Government form, sent my waiting ser-
vant flying to the telegraph office with it. After which
I had time to join in the regrets of Mr. Gladstone's
secretary that his master had made it impossible for me
to get up to the House in time for his introduction of
the Bill. The secretary told me that he would have
"derived considerable interest" from the proceedings,
but I felt much more keenly than that about this Bill
that I had taken so often in its swaddling clothes from
parent to foster parent, and I was very much disap-
pointed at not being present at its introduction to a
larger life.

The debate on the first and second readings lasted
sixteen days. It is to be remembered that in his attack
on the Bill Mr. Chamberlain did not oppose Home Rule,
but only this particular scheme.

There was a Mrs. Rae, an elderly lady, who haunted



the ladies' gallery of the House of Commons, and whom
I and Mr. Parnell were not always successful in avoid-
ing, she being most anxious to help Mr. Parnell politi-
cally. So far as I can remember Mrs. Rae had in this
instance become possessed or involved in some most
curious scheme, purporting to bear the authority of Mr.
Gladstone, in regard to measures affecting Ireland. On
March 18th he wrote saying that he did not know the
lady and did not understand her scheme. He seemed
to desire Parnell to co-operate with Mr. Morley.

A great wish of Willie's was to be appointed Under-
secretary for Ireland. I had on various occasions made
the suggestion to Mr. Gladstone, but without success-
ful issue. Gladstone had a perfect manner of refusing
appointments when personally asked for them; it was
always an apparent pain to him; nothing but the knowl-
edge of his duty restrained him from interference, and
though I was not really anxious that Willie should re-
ceive this appointment I was wilh'ng to please him by
asking for it, and it might have excited suspicion if I
had not asked. I must admit that Mr. Gladstone never
to my knowledge of him all those years made an ap-
pointment from motives of private favour. Here once
more, when he wrote regretting he couldn't poach on his
colleagues' patronage preserves, his manners were perfect.

On May 8th an urgent letter from Gladstone at Down-
ing Street was delivered at my house. Mr. Morley had
lost track of Mr. Parnell, and wanted to know where
he was. It was apparently the most natural thing in
the world to ask me where was Parnell. A form of
Government telegram was enclosed for my reply.

In view of the fact that Mr. Gladstone and his col-
leagues were so pained, surprised, and properly shocked,
when Mr. Parnell was publicly arraigned as my lover,



the frantic way in which they applied to me, when they
were unable to find him, was, afterwards, a source of con-
siderable amusement to us both.

From the time of my first interview with Mr. Glad-
stone onwards, no time was lost in "failing to trace
him here" before hurried application was made to me
at my and Parnell's permanent address. I did not
choose that the Irish Party should have his private
address nor did Parnell choose it but I was most
particular that the Government should know it. Gov-
ernments especially Liberal Governments are before
all things simple-minded and of childlike guilelessness.

I remember when on one occasion the Government
desired to know Parnell's views on certain matters be-
fore elaborating a Bill shortly to go before the House,
a special messenger was sent to Eltham with a letter.
I had gone to the seaside with my children, and my ser-
vants had standing orders that they knew nothing of
Mr. Parnell or of his whereabouts. So the nonplussed
Governmental messenger meditated upon my doorstep
for one moment only, then, armed with "Mrs. 0' Shea's
address" at Hastings, came straight on to receive Mr.
Parnell's reply, and safely deliver it within the stipulated
time. But there can be no doubt, of course, that Mr.
Gladstone's "Poor fellow, poor fellow, what a terrible
fall," subsequent to the hounding, at his word, of his
gallant opponent to death by the Irish sycophants, al-
luded to the breaking of the eleventh commandment of
social life: "Thou shalt not be found out" (publicly),
rather than to the seventh of orthodox Christianity.

On May 14th Gladstone wrote with regard to the rules
laid down by the Government for the Home Rule de-
bate. He complimented the Irish on their speeches.

On June 7th Mr. Parnell spoke on the Home Rule



Bill. It was the last night of the debate, and he had
carefully prepared his speech for that night. I give the
substance of it herewith. He said:

"During the last five years I know that there have
been very severe and drastic Coercion Bills, but it will
require an even severer and more drastic measure of
coercion now. You will require all that you have had
during the last five years, and more besides. What has
that coercion been? You have had during those five
years I don't say this to inflame passion you have
had during those five years the suspension of the Habeas
Corpus Act; you have had a thousand of your Irish
fellow-subjects held in prison without specific charge,
many of them for long periods of time, some of them for
twenty months without trial and without any intention
of placing them upon trial (I think of all these thousand
persons arrested under the Coercion Act of the late
Mr. Forster scarcely a dozen were put on their trial);
you have had the Arms Act; you have had the suspen-
sion of trial by jury all during the last five years.
You have authorised your police to enter the domicile
of a citizen, of your fellow-subject in Ireland, at any
hour of the day or night, and search any part of this
domicile, even the beds of the women, without warrant.
You have fined the innocent for offences committed by
the guilty; you have taken power to expel aliens from
the country; you have revived the curfew law and the
blood money of your Norman conquerors; you have
gagged the Press, and seized and suppressed newspapers;
you have manufactured new crimes and offences, and
applied fresh penalties unknown to your law for these
crimes and offences. All this you have done for five
years, and all this and much more you will have to do



"The provision in the Bill for excluding the Irish
members from the Imperial Parliament has been very
vehemently objected to, and Mr. Trevelyan has said
that there is no half-way house between separation and
the maintenance of law and order in Ireland by Imperial
authority. I say, with just as much sincerity of belief
and just as much experience as the right hon. gentleman,
that in my judgment there is no half-way house between
the concession of legislative autonomy to Ireland and
the disenfranchisement of the country and her govern-
ment as a Crown Colony. But I refuse to believe that
these evil days must come. I am convinced there are
a sufficient number of wise and just members in this
House to cause it to disregard appeals made to passion,
and to choose the better way of founding peace and
goodwill among nations; and when the numbers in the
division lobby come to be told it will also be told, for
the admiration of all future generations, that England
and her Parliament, in this nineteenth century, were
wise enough, brave enough, and generous enough to
close the strife of centuries, and to give peace and pros-
perity to suffering Ireland."

The rejection of the Bill by a full House 343 against
313 votes was immediately followed by the dissolu-
tion of Parliament. Thus in July, 1886, the Liberals
went out in alliance with the Irish leader, whom, only
twelve months before, they had gone out denouncing
with all his followers.


So ends the most important period of my negotiations
with Gladstone. The subsequent course of them may
be sketched briefly.

In July, 1886, Gladstone replied to certain suggestions
of Parnell recommending perseverance with the Home


Rule scheme, with the objection that he was unable to
carry the Gladstonian Party beyond a certain point.

There were times when Mr. Gladstone became some-
what uneasy in regard to the possible consequences of
so many interviews with me. Also someone said once
to him, "Supposing Mrs. O'Shea told Parnell you said
so and so, and it was more than you meant to say?"
On June 15th, 1887, for example, he wrote asking with
utmost politeness for a letter instead of an interview.

However, on August 22 of the same year I find him
writing from Hawarden thanking me for some gift (of
game or fruit) and expressing hope of the future.

Gladstone now told me that he wished to meet Par-
nell in order to talk over the political situation, and I
suggested that a visit to Hawarden by Parnell would
have a good effect politically. Gladstone then asked
Parnell to Hawarden to talk over the political situation,
an invitation which Parnell did not answer at once, as
he first wished to ascertain the tactics of the Conserva-
tive Party.

On August 30th, 1889, Mr. Gladstone wrote to Par-
nell a most private letter, lamenting that he had not
heard from him and his friends with reference to a visit
to Hawarden. The fact was that since Parnell had re-
ceived Gladstone's invitation the Tories had been mak-
ing advances, and had just proffered a Roman Catholic
University for Ireland. Gladstone was right in suppos-
ing that here was the cause of ParnelPs silence. He was
not angry, but he threatened Parnell with the effect of
this new proposal on Nonconformist and Presbyterian
Liberals. In October the air was clearer, the Govern-
ment's Irish University scheme had gone awry, and
Gladstone was jubilant. He wrote on the 16th renew-
ing the invitation. With regard to the Home Rule Bill



he was all for reserve; with regard to ParnelPs action
against the Times all for dispatch.

It was two months later, however (on December 19th),
that Parnell, on his way to Liverpool, visited Glad-
stone at Hawarden. It was a short but agreeable visit,
and at dinner Mr. Parnell sat next to Miss Gladstone.
The conversation turned upon actors and acting, and
Miss Gladstone said, "Who is the greatest actor you
have ever seen, Mr. Parnell?" "Your father, undoubt-
edly!" he promptly returned, much to her delight.

As Parnell became moderate in politics Gladstone
became more extreme. I remember one evening in April
or May, 1888, driving with Parnell to Morley's house
in Elm Park Gardens where Parnell and Morley had a
quiet conversation together.

I waited in the hansom cab a little way off the house
for a considerable time, and at last Parnell came out
with an amused expression on his face. As we were
driving home he said:

"We can never satisfy English politicians! They
imprisoned me for causing agitation in Ireland, and now
they want agitation, if not outrage. Morley said to me :
'The people must be made to wake up a bit; can't you
do anything to stir them up?' " Then with a laugh: "If
they knew how easy it was for me to stir Ireland up,
and how confoundedly difficult I have found it to quiet
her down again, they would be very careful before giv-
ing me such an invitation!" And, with the experience
of the past to give force and conviction to his words, he
had shown Mr. Morley the extreme danger of Mr.
Gladstone's suggestions.




"He who for winds and clouds

Maketh a pathway free,
Through waste or hostile crowds
Can make a way for thee." PAUL GERHARDT.

ONE morning in 1882, I saw in the morning papers a
cable message announcing the death of Miss Fanny
Parnell. Mr. Parnell was at my house at the time, but
asleep. After an all-night sitting I would never allow
him to be roused until four in the afternoon, when he
would have breakfast and chat with me until it was
time to go to the House. On seeing the newspaper
cable from America about his sister I thought it better
to wake him and tell him of it, lest he should read it
while I was away with my aunt. I knew that Fanny
Parnell was his favourite sister, and he had told me that
she was the cleverest and most beautiful woman in his
family. This I knew was high praise, as Willie had met
Mrs. Thomson another of Parnell's sisters and had
told me that she was the most strikingly beautiful woman
he had ever met.

I woke him and told him of his sister's death as gen-
tly as I could, but he was terribly shocked, and I could
not leave him at all that day. For a time he utterly
broke down, but presently a cable arrived for him -
sent on from London saying that his sister's body



was to be embalmed and brought to Ireland, and his
horror and indignation were extreme. He immediately
wrote out a message for me to cable from London on
his behalf, absolutely forbidding the embalmment of
his sister's body, and saying that she was to be buried
in America.

The idea of death was at all times very painful to
him, but that anyone should be embalmed and taken
from one place to another after death was to him un-
speakably awful. For this, amongst other reasons, I
could not bear to have him taken to Ireland to Glas-
nevin Cemetery after his death. My desire was to
have him near me and, as he would have wished, to
have taken care of his grave myself. But I gave way
to the longing of the Ireland he had lived for, and to
the clamour of those who had helped to kill him. How
they dealt with him alive is history now, but how they
dealt with him in death is not so well known; and I
give an extract from the message of a friend, who had
gone to see his grave a few short years after his death:
"Your husband's grave is the most desolate and neg-
lected spot in the whole cemetery, and I grieve to tell
you of the painful impression it made upon me."

I then sent over a servant, with some flowers, and

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Online LibraryKitty O'SheaCharles Stewart Parnell; his love story and political life (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 20)