Kitty O'Shea.

Charles Stewart Parnell; his love story and political life (Volume 2) online

. (page 6 of 20)
Online LibraryKitty O'SheaCharles Stewart Parnell; his love story and political life (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

waiting to take the horse, proceeded to rub him down
while considering the matter, thereby delighting the crowd
of onlookers.

The policeman besought him to "get on the 'orse,
sir, and ride hoff," before the whole street got "'eld
hup," but Parnell gently declined, as he knew that Presi-
dent had now no chance of keeping his feet on the ice-
coated pavement. After fully considering the matter
he found the chief thing was to get himself out of the
crowd as quickly as possible, and, slipping a little com-
fort into the constable's hand, he ordered him to put
the horse up at the nearest stables and drove off, ignor-
ing all queries and protests.

He sent me a telegram from the House to assure me
of his safe arrival, but forgot all about his waiting ser-
vant, who, after some hours, not daring to return home,
telegraphed to me to know what he was to do, as his
master had not arrived. The whole thing amused Par-
nell intensely, but unfortunately he had given the police-
man the name of Prescott, and, in absence of mind,
sent his groom the next day to find and bring back the
horse of "Mr. Stewart." It was a most expensive trial
of President's utility. The pocket-book I still use daily,
and prize very highly; it is as perfect, though much worn,
as when he bought it, some twenty-six years ago.



After my old collie Elfie died, Parnell offered to get
me another dog, and, as I wanted an Irish wolf-hound,
he and I went to see one that was advertised for sale.
It was a magnificent animal, but we had much doubt as
to its true breed, and decided that Mr. Parnell should
not buy it.

He then suggested bringing me an Irish setter the
next time he went to Ireland, and, as the idea pleased
me, he brought a half-grown setter given him by Mr.
Corbett, M. P., who said this dog, Grouse, was the
very best he had ever had. Grouse became at once the
constant companion and pleasure of his master and my-
self. He was a beautiful dog, and most faithful and
affectionate. Mr. Parnell would tease him by pretend-
ing to be jealous when Grouse lay at my feet with his
head on my foot, and when the dog rose with the dignity
that always characterised him, and went over to Par-
nell, resting his head on his knee and assuring him of his
absolute devotion, I would in my turn despair at hav-
ing no dog to love me.

After a few moments of this game poor Grouse would
sit exactly between us, looking from one to the other,
and whining at the impossibility of pleasing us both at
once. Then Parnell would move to my side on the
sofa so that Grouse could rest his chin on our clasped
hands, to his great contentment. The dog always slept
in Parnell's room, and, in his last illness, when the doc-
tors wished to have Grouse removed, Parnell would not
allow it.

Mr. Corbett was very sad when he heard that Grouse
had become a lady's pet, as the old sportsman con-
sidered it a sin to "spoil" a gun dog; but I think that
if he had known the pleasure Grouse gave "the Chief"
he would have been glad that the dog should have ex-



changed the Wicklow Mountains for the hated Saxon's
home. Parnell took Grouse over for the grouse-shooting
one season and telegraphed to me that he had done
very well, but he soon brought him back to me.

Another dog that Parnell brought home to me from
Ireland was a mongrel Irish terrier that he had found
wandering in the streets of Killaloe. He had been dread-
fully starved and ill-used, and was quite savage when
handed over to me at Brighton with muzzle and chain
on, but with kindness and good feeding he soon became
as devoted to us as Grouse was, and with him used
thoroughly to enjoy following Parnell when he rode over
the Downs for his daily exercise.

After we went to Brighton Parnell would give the
dogs a swim in the sea every day, and Grouse's strong
swimming was a great delight to his master. Pincher,
the terrier, was the cause of much anxiety, as he used
to swim right out to sea so far that we lost sight of
the little dark head and Parnell had very often to get
a boat out and fetch the exhausted little beast back.
This little dog lived for many years after his master's
death (Grouse only two years), but he would never
allow another man to touch him without trying to bite
him. He was fond of Parnell, but always on guard with
other men, though quite good-tempered with women.
Parnell used to say that Pincher must have been so
badly treated by some man that he had learned dis-
trust of all males. Many a time he came home from
his rides with rueful amusement at the exaggerated value
placed upon their legs by shepherds or labourers he had
met on the Downs who had been bitten by Pincher with
a careless indiscrimination that at last earned him a

Parnell also brought to Eltham a very old setter,







Ranger. He had been a splendid dog, and now his
limbs were too feeble to follow his faithful heart in his
master's sport. So Mr. Parnell took pity on him, and
asked Mr. Corbett to let him have the dog for a lady
who would care for his old age, and Ranger came to us,
spending the evening of his life in basking on the sunny
lawn at Eltham, wagging a dignified tail of appreciation
and greeting to those of us he met on his stiff walks
about the place or dreaming his doggie dreams of the

sport of the past, happy and cared for till he died.


The following letter was sent to United Ireland on
April llth, 1885, in regard to the proposed visit of the
Prince of Wales to Ireland : -

You ask for my views regarding the visit of the Prince
of Wales. In reply, I desire to say that if the usages of the
Constitution existed in Ireland as they do in England there
would, to my judgment, be no inconsistency in those who
believe in the limited monarchy as the best form of govern-
ment taking a suitable part in the reception of the Prince.
But in view of the fact that the Constitution has never been
administered in Ireland according to its spirit and precedents,
that the power of the Crown as wielded by Earl Spencer and
other Viceroys is despotic and unlimited to the last degree,
and that in the present instance the Royal personage is to be
used by the two English political parties in Ireland for the
purpose of injuring and insulting the Irish Nationalist Party,
and of impeding, if possible, their work, I fail to see upon
what ground it can be claimed from any lover of constitu-
tional government under a limited monarchy that the Prince
is entitled to a reception from the independent and patriotic
people of Ireland, or to any recognition save from the garri-
son of officials and landowners and place-hunters who fatten
upon the poverty and misfortunes of the country. Let me
suggest a parallel. Would it be tolerated in England for a


moment if the Government, for their own party purposes,
on the eve of a general election, were to use the Prince of
Wales as an electioneering agent in any section of the coun-
try, and were to send him upon a Royal progress in order to
embarrass their political opponents? The breach of consti-
tutional privilege becomes still graver when we consider that
it is the march of a nation which is now sought to be impeded
the fruition of a long struggle and of many sacrifices which
the adventitious aid of this Royal visit is enlisted to injure.
I have, however, every confidence that our people, having
been suitably forewarned, will not allow their hospitable na-
ture and cordial disposition to carry them into any attitude
which might be taken as one of condonation for the past or
satisfaction with the present state of affairs.


This letter was written at Eltham, and there was a
laughing battle between us over the writing of it. I
threatened to make him hang out "Union Jacks" from
every window of Avondale if he made things unpleasant
in Ireland for the Prince, and he, in pretended horror,
wrote the above, and tossed it to me for the alterations
(which I, of course, did not make) that my "English
prejudices" demanded. But he seriously believed that
this visit of the Prince to Ireland was timed by the ad-
visers of his Royal Highness with singular and malicious
advertence to the state of the political situation, and he
commented most strongly upon the poverty of imagi-
nation and chivalry of a great country such as England
who could find no better use for her Prince than that
of an electioneering agent.




"Anfang bedenk das Ende"


CAPTAIN O'SnEA had made himself so thoroughly un-
popular in the Irish Party that when, in 1885, he de-
sired their co-operation on his seeking re-election for
County Clare none but Parnell was ready to help him.
From his first entry into the House he had refused to
sit with the body of the Irish Party, and from his van-
tage point of the Ministerial benches kept up an under-
current of sneering comment, or, still more galling, an
appearance of deprecating amusement at the manner-
isms, accents, or garments of his colleagues, which was the
more irritating to them from its intangible air of toler-

With his own set, in and out of the House, Willie
was very popular. He was witty, and his wit was a
little cruel; a raconteur, his stories lost nothing in the
telling, and as a diner out he was much sought after.
But his set did not include the then Irish Party. To
Willie it would have been sacrilege to himself not to be
at all times perfectly dressed, and to dine out of even-
ing clothes as bewildering as to dine in them would
have been to the majority of those on the Irish benches.
To point out to Willie that most of these men were giv-
ing their services to their country at considerable loss
to themselves, and that more than one had been singled



out and invited to enter the lists by Parnell solely be-
cause of some outstanding merit of cleverness, was to
provoke the languid rejoinder that he could "rejoice in,
but could not sit with, unvarnished genius."

Willie's intimacy with Mr. Chamberlain was also a
considerable factor against his position with the party,
and his persistent voicing of Mr. Chamberlain's opinions
provoked considerable distrust. "Listen to him then,
with his 'Chamberlain and I,' and will ye tell me how
much is 'Chamberlain' and how much 'I' in that cabal?"
was how one of them voiced their discontent.

To give an instance of the feeling of some of the
Irish members I may tell of one incident that certainly
had its funny side also. Parnell came home one night,
or rather early morning, while Willie was still member
for Clare. After his supper, and while placidly lighting
a cigar, he observed with a slight smile, "A man was
waiting in the Lobby to-night for Willie to kill him."
"To do what?" I exclaimed with horror. "To kill him;
it's all right; don't get excited! was much too drunk
to be able to kill anyone; but I wish Willie would not
annoy them all so much. From what I could make
out Willie smiled at his pronunciation of 'Misther
Spaker, Sorr.' Willie's smile is a bit of a twister some-

And now Willie was keenly anxious to be returned
again for Clare, and was making it known to all that
he did not intend to give the party pledge again.

I was very anxious that Willie should remain in Par-
liament. Politics were a great interest to him and gave
him little time to come down to Eltham. When he
did so the perpetual watchfulness and diplomacy I had
to observe were extremely irksome to me. Years of
neglect, varied by quarrels, had killed my love for him



long before I met Parnell, and since the February of
1882 I could not bear to be near him. r


October 23, 1885.

MY DEAR MKS. O'SnEA, Will you kindly enclose in en-
velope and direct and post enclosed?

The weather here has been very wet and cold, but I hope
to get away soon and see you shortly on my return to London.
Kind regards to all. Yours very truly, in haste,


The enclosure was the following private letter to me,
sent thus to allay suspicion if they were seen at Eltham.


October 23, 1885.

MY OWN LITTLE WiFiE, He* arrived here this morning
and left for the North, where he is to see one of the leaders
and ascertain whether they will let him in. He then wants
me to see Lord R.,f but I would much prefer not doing so,
as it would very probably come out.

If the Old ManJ agrees to proposition the best plan will
be for you to write and tell W. that it is all right, so as to get
me out of seeing Lord R.

I suppose you have been advised as to nature of propo-
sition, so I need not detail it here.

When I arrived at Euston I found him on the platform
before me, also T. P., and we all then went over together.
I asked the latter about the former's chances, and he was
positive he had none, pledge or not. O'K.^[ on my arrival
was of the same opinion, and advised me strongly to let him
go North or else make some provision for him outside politics.

*Captain O'Shea. "\Lord Richard Grosvenor. {Gladstone.

Captain O'Shea. IfO'Kelly.



He called to see me next morning and told me he considered
his chances very bad, also that nothing would induce him to
take pledge. I said very little, and while we were talking
over the situation O'S. tapped at door. He said he would
like to consult O'K., so invited him in. The latter strongly
advised him not to stand, and while conversation was pro-
ceeding he informed O'K. he would not take pledge, when
O'K. told him at once that it was not in the power of mortal
man to get him in for any National constituency without it,
and that even I could not do it. He then decided to give
it up, and it was arranged he should stand for a constituency
in the North which we do not intend to contest, and where
he will have a chance. The rest you know.

I hope to be able to cross Sunday, if not obliged to attend
Gal way Convention Monday, where the "ring" is endeavour-
ing to put in a man who is obnoxious to me.

I often wish that I had wings and an invisible suit, so
that I could fly across to you every evening after my day's
work is done. I hope my queen is driving out every day.
Home Rule will draw either phaeton or buggy by himself if
you give him his time, and the more quiet exercise he gets
the better, but Dictator goes too fast for him.

H. behaved very badly about Fermanagh, threatening and
striking O'K. on Monday evening to intimidate him from
going forward, but the latter squared up to him like a man
and cowed him.

I shall go to Dublin to-morrow morning by first train, and
shall be there all day and probably Saturday night.


On ParnelPs writing to me that it really was practi-
cally impossible to get him returned again for County
Clare, nor, without the pledge, for any other Irish seat
under his control, I wrote to Willie, and in return re-
ceived a letter of bitter complaint accusing Parnell of
ingratitude and treachery. Now already, in the use of



these terms by Willie, certain persons enemies of Par-
nell's policy with that over-anxiety of the dishonour-
able to use the meanest weapons of attack in preference
to those of nobler forging professed to see indications
of a loathsome treaty between Parnell, Willie, and my-
self. Willie was under the impression that he had been
the chief negotiator of the Kilmainham Treaty, and that
he had, on another occasion, done Parnell signal political
service in a certain negotiation with Mr. Gladstone, and
thinking, as he did, that this was so, and having a very
keen sense of his own importance, with far too much
vanity to understand that he had become not merely
unpopular, but absolutely disliked in the party, he be-
lieved, and fervently protested, that Parnell was behav-
ing with singular ingratitude and treachery to him in
not more strongly supporting his candidature. That Par-
nell had, and was pressing it so strongly as to jeopardise
his own position he could not understand. His true
reason for doing so my desire he did not know;
nor did he know, what Parnell knew, that ugly rumour
had already begun the campaign of brutality that, not
daring to meet its foe in the open, wars with the dirty
word, the filth flung at a woman's love and, with only
the knowledge of its own motives and methods, the be-
lief that where there is a wrong that wrong must surely
be of the basest kind.

Parnell could not apply to Lord Richard Grosvenor
himself as was Willie's cool proposition but on re-
ceipt of Parn ell's letter, after some consideration, I went
to see Lord Richard, point-blank told him that I most
particularly wished Willie to continue in Parliament,
and asked him if there was any chance of getting him
returned for one of the divisions of Liverpool. Lord
Richard was very kind, and though full of the business



caused by the General Election, he devoted a whole
morning to showing that I was asking, if not the im-
possible, at least the unreasonable thing of him. He
said, "And we don't even know what O'Shea's politics
are!" "You know Chamberlain's," I replied, and in
spite of a smile he sat down again to consider the matter

The upshot of this interview was that, on leaving
Lord Richard, I wrote to Willie that Lord Richard Gros-
venor had promised to use his influence for him for
Liverpool, and I give the interchange of telegrams that
resulted :-


October 9,lst t 1885.

No use, am leaving for Birmingham to-night to see Cham-
berlain. B.*


October ZZnd, 1885.

Energetic action on Gladstone's part necessary; wrote you
from Chamberlain's. B.

October 24th.

Hef is at Morrison's. Fairest compromise offered me in
North, but he declares himself, as usual, powerless. B.

Thereupon I wrote to Gladstone, and on 24th October
he replied to the effect that the matter lay wholly within

*My pet name in our early married life for Willie was "Bopsie."



the province of Lord Richard Grosvenor, to whom he
was forwarding my letter and one of Willie's of the
same date. He might perhaps see Lord Richard, and
in any case would tell him, what he already knew, how
sorry he would be if Willie was not elected for the new
Parliament. To go beyond this would, as I should
understand, lead to much inconvenience and confusion
of duties.


Sunday, October %5th, 1885.

DEAR KATE, I am going to Belfast to-morrow. I
scarcely know why. However, one likes to see a game out.

I have kept my temper more or less well so far. Mr.
Chamberlain, with his knowledge of what I did at various
times for Mr. Parnell, considers the latter well, thinks
very ill indeed of him. He (C.) and all my life friends say
that if he had any feeling, any spark of honour, he would
have told his party that he was under such a promise and
such an obligation that my seat must be secured, or he would
resign his leadership.

Lord Claud Hamilton was in the train in which I returned
last night, and pointed me out to the Orangemen at Porta-
down, so that it appears the murder is out, and that my
attempt at Mid Antrim will appear to-morrow morning.

My impression is that I shall be in London on Tuesday,
and that I was not wrong in fearing, ere I left it, that I was
on a wildgoose chase.

No one can ever deal successfully with lying and treachery.
- Your B.

Dickson was very civil, but, of course, wants S. Tyrone,
for which they are starting O'Brien.

On October 29th Lord Richard telegraphed to me from
Chester acknowledging the receipt of my letter late the



previous night. "He had hoped to be able to reply
definitely that day, but was unable. He had not heard,
as expected, that morning."


November 2, 1885.

DEAR KATE, The doctor cannot yet tell me when I may
hope to leave this wretched place. I am certainly recovering,
but very slowly. He says the slightest cold would bring on
a relapse which might be fatal. I shall stay a night at Cham-
berlain's on my way back.

Of course I knew nothing about your political movements
and arrangements.

All I know is that I am going to lie in ditch. I have been
treated in blackguard fashion and I mean to hit back a stunner.
I have everything ready; no drugs could make me sleep last
night, and I packed my shell with dynamite. It cannot
hurt my friend,* and it will send a blackguard's reputation
with his deluded countrymen into smithereens.

I have got your telegram. He won't be of high "impor-
tance" soon.

I wonder the little girls have not written to me; no one
cares a bit for me except my poor old mother.

I am very tired from writing a lot of letters. Yours,


In spite of my letters and telegrams Willie was still
indignant and unwilling to leave Ireland for an English
constituency. He was ill and felt his disappointment
the more keenly for this reason. After this last letter
I saw Lord Richard Grosvenor again, and on the result
wired to Willie as follows:



November 4, 1885.


Grosvenor says as you written declining he working another
direction, but says if anything done must be done by him
alone, so if you think any besides old place do communicate
him first before any whisper gets out about it. Address
twelve Upper Brook Street. We just going your mother.



November 4, 1885.

Letter mistaken. He* first refused to perform promise
respecting present place, pleading inability to cope with oppo-
sition of his own friends. He then offered compromise North,
stating only minority 550, then to you 700. It is actually
2,000. WILLIE.

On receipt of a letter from me of the 4th November
Willie began to waver in his determination to keep to
Ireland and replied:


November 5th, 1885.

What seat? C.f thought nothing left England except for-
lorn hopes. Representatives of fishermen came to-day. Very
sorry their friendf so perfidiously sacrificed.

On the 8th he wrote me as follows :


November 8th, 1885.

DEAR KATE, I shall leave by the mail packet to-morrow

I lunched to-day at Sir Richard Martin's; Lord Justice
*Parnell. fChamberkia. > JO'Shea.



Barry and four or five other gentlemen there. There is much
talk in Dublin about my affair. All agree that Parnell's con-
duct is loathsome, except a few who say he is a poor cur
whipped by O'Brien and Healy.

He has run away to England.

As I have reason to believe, he may deny his having prom-
ised me to secure my re-election "without trouble." I wrote
him duplicate notes last night, one to Avondale, the other
to Morrison's Hotel, which must effectually prevent his tell-
ing that lie through forgetfulness.

Chief Justice Lawrence sent me a very kind message.

I shall stay at Holyhead to-morrow night, as I am still
very weak and easily tired. Yours, W. H. O'SHEA.

I then wrote more fully to him, and again urged Lord
Richard to do his best for him in Liverpool. He replied
by wire on the 9th, saying that he would write to Liver-
pool on Saturday. He had wired that day.

On November 13, the Parliamentary agent, Wyllie,
wired me that he had informed their Liverpool corre-
spondent and had wired Willie.

On the same date Willie telegraphed me from Cham-
berlain's that another man had been chosen, and that
he should return to London. By this time I was so
determined that Willie should be returned for Liverpool
that I threw all caution to the winds so far as Lord
Richard and Gladstone were concerned and sent a per-
emptory message to Wyllie asking where the former was.
He replied from London that Lord Richard was expected
there that morning, and on receiving my further message,
Grosvenor replied with really natural irritation that he
could not possibly tell what candidate had been settled
on the previous day.

I then telegraphed to Willie on the morning of No-
vember 14 :



If you think it wise, tell your Liberal friends (Holt and
others) privately that you have reason to know that Mr. P.
will stand unless you are accepted. I can get that put in

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryKitty O'SheaCharles Stewart Parnell; his love story and political life (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 20)