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Preston" apparently being but a poor protection in keep-
ing off curiosity as to Parnell's habits. He wearily said
he did not want to live in London unless I would live
there too, but, as I pointed out, that was impossible,
and I took a house in York Terrace, Regent's Park (fur-
nished), for him. Here I installed him with two ser-
vants, who absolutely worshipped the ground he walked
upon, and, having placed various books about, books
that he considered of pleasant relaxation, such as engi-
neering and mining treatises, with a couple of Dickens'
works that he had always been "going to read," and a
few technical journals, I went home haunted by his
grave, considering eyes and his sad "You must not leave
me here by myself; I don't want to be here without
you!" hoping that after a day or two he would settle
down and feel the benefit of getting more quickly to

The house was charming, with, on one side, a lovely
outlook over Regent's Park. It was very pretty and
comfortable, and I used to make flying visits to him, to
sit with him while he ate his breakfast.

For three weeks I congratulated myself on having
been self-denying enough to earn him better rest, even
at the cost to myself of not having him so much with
me; then, on my return from my aunt, whose great age
was now beginning to tell upon her, late one evening, I
felt anxious and worried about my lover, even though
my good-night telegram was awaiting me. He always
telegraphed "good-night" if he was away from me. I
tried to shake the feeling off, but after dinner I found
myself mechanically making up the fire in my sitting-



room as I did when sitting up for Parnell after a late
sitting of the House. I felt amused at my absent-mind-
edness, and sat down before the fire, thinking that I
would take advantage of the beautiful blaze I had made.
I sat there idly, thinking of Parnell, wondering what exactly
he was doing at that moment, and presently, hearing the
servants go to bed, and feeling disinclined for bed my-
self, I got a book.

I could not settle to reading, and began to feel very
lonely and to wish I were really waiting up for Parnell,
as I used to. Perhaps the loneliness was too great to
him also, I thought, and the extra rest might not com-
pensate for it. I thought of my aunt, of how very old
she was, of her immense goodness to me ever since I
had lived at Eltham, and of what a great blank there
would be when she died her life seemed to be like a
flame flickering in the wind now, and it might go out
any day. I got up to shake off my sad thoughts, and,
throwing open the window, leant out and listened to the
wind in the trees.

I heard the clock strike two, and listened, as I had
always done, about this time, for the regular beat of
the horse's hoofs that would bring my King home. I
could hear nothing, and my longing for his presence was
so great that I called out under my breath, "I wish you
would come. I do wish you would come." Then I
think I became drowsy, for I started up from the window,
suddenly hearing three o'clock ring out from the village
and the steady trot-trot of a horse in the distance.

I held my breath to listen, my heart beating with an
eager joy. I could hear the beat of the hoofs round the
corner into the village as they came from the Common,
then lost as they went up the High Street, and suddenly
clearer with the jingle of the cab bells as they turned



the top of the road and stopped. I knew now, and
opened the door quickly as my love came up the little
side-walk past the window, giving the familiar signal as
he went up the two steps; and I was in his arms as he
whispered, "Oh, my love, you must not leave me alone




"For none on eirth so lone as he
Whose way of thought is high and free,
Beyond the mist, beyond the cloud,
Beyond the clamour of the crowd."

I HAD long since had a high paling put round my gar-
den to screen the garden from the inquisitive eyes of
persons who had, until this was done, the impertinence
to lean over the short stone wall and railings to watch
Parnell as he went in and out. This new paling was
seven feet high. On the carriage gates there was bronze
ornamental work, thick and heavy. Once this was cut
through by someone unknown and fell, the next time
the gate was opened, upon the head of the groom, as
he stooped to unbolt it.

This little "accident" was no doubt intended for Mr.
Parnell's or for my benefit, and the fact that the young
man's arm was pushed against the gate, above his head,
as he stooped to ease the bolt, doubtless saved him from
a cracked skull. As it was, he was badly bruised and
cut, some fifty pounds of bronze work falling partly
upon him. After this he examined the work on the
other gate, and, finding that this also had been cut
through, with the help of the gardener lifted it off be-
fore further damage was done. This pointless and ma-
lignant spite might easily have had far more serious
consequences, since my children were going out by these



driving their ponies, and it was quite by chance
that they had called the groom to open the gates for
them, for one or other of them generally played at be-
ing the "footman" on these occasions. The police could
not trace the perpetrators of the little pleasantry.

I then made a beautiful, thick rose-hedge at one side
of this garden, and the roses grew and flourished to
such an extent that it proved an effectual screen from
the too-pressing attention of persons, who had not, I
suppose, very many interests of their own.

On the morning that the (so-called) Parnell letters
appeared in the Times (March 7, 1887), they were cut
out and pasted on the gate by a person or persons un-
known; and here also the perspicacity of our local police
failed to find the merrymaker.

On that day I did not give Parnell the Times opened
as usual for his glance over the political reports while
he breakfasted. He asked for it, but I wanted him to
finish his breakfast first, and replied: "The Times is un-
usually stodgy; do eat your breakfast first."

He said he must finish a bit of assaying he had left
over-night, before going to London, and would not have
time for papers afterwards, so I told him of the letters,
and propped the Times against the teapot as usual.

He read the whole thing; meditatively buttering and
eating his toast the while. I supplied him with marma-
lade, and turned over the folded paper for him so that
he could read more easily.

He made no remark at all till he had finished break-
fast, and carefully clipped the end off his cigar; then,
with a smile, he tossed the paper at me, saying, "Now
for that assaying I didn't finish! Wouldn't you hide
your head with shame if your King were so stupid as
that, my Queen?"



I helped him to set his chemicals right, urging on him
that the thing was very serious, and that he must -at-
tend to it; but he only replied: "You think about it
for me while I am finishing this. Now don't spoil this
for me. It will do presently!" and I subsided with
the Times while he worked at his crucibles, and jotted
down results absolutely absorbed for more than two
hours, and only brought back to politics by my call of
"You absolutely must start now."

He had a wonderful little machine a balance that
gave the weight of almost infinitesimal parts of a grain
and this might be touched by no one but himself.
He now reluctantly covered it with its glass case and
lovingly padded it round with a cloth, lest a rough move-
ment in the room should put it out of balance.

I said, "Now, my King, you must attend to the
Times. You must take an action against them."

"No. Why should I?" struggling into his coat as I
held it for him. "I have never taken any notice of any
newspapers, nor of anyone. Why should I now?"

However, he promised me he would consult the
"Party" about the letters, and left assuring me that
the English Times was a paper of no particular im-
portance, after all.

He got home before I did that evening, and I found
him on my return weighing the infinitesimal specks of
his morning's extraction of gold with the utmost accu-
racy. He gave me a smile and the fire-flame of his wel-
coming eyes as usual, but murmured, "Don't speak for
one moment; I'll tell you the moment I have finished
this," and I had to sit with as much patience as I could
muster while he finished his calculations. Then, com-
ing over to me in triumph, he informed my for once
uninterested ears that he had now completed the ex-



traction of something or other of a grain of the gold
for my wedding ring.

On my firmly recalling his attention to the matter of
the letters he said wearily all the interest and buoy-
ancy gone - "They want me to fight it, but it will be
a terrible nuisance, my Queenie; I have seen Lewis, and
he is going to see Russell Sir Charles, you know -
and then I am to see him again."

He was very undecided about the necessity of taking
the action against the Times, and more than once pointed
out to me that the opinion of that paper and its readers
did not really interest him; but, on my refusing to ac-
cept this at all, and urging that Ireland required that
he should defend himself in this, and that my view was
that of the Irish Party, he promised to take the matter
seriously, merely remarking with an amused cynicism that
if Ireland wanted him to cudgel a clean bill of health
out of England she would find work for all the black-
thorns she grew.

Soon my absorbed study of the forged letters caught
Parnell's interest, he shook off his apathy, and joined
my study of his handwriting of many years, and those
of the various possible (and impossible) imitators. Once
he became interested he threw himself into it as whole-
heartedly as he did into any other hobby. We spent
hours in this study of calligraphy, and made some in-
teresting and amusing discoveries.

After a couple of interviews with Mr. Lewis and Sir
Charles Russell, Parnell one evening asked me if I would
mind seeing Lewis, as he had expressed a wish to see me.
I went therefore to Ely Place, and had an interview
with Mr. (Sir George) Lewis. After we had talked over
the situation he gave me tea, and made an appointment
for another interview in a few days' time. I put before



him my various conclusions as to handwritings, one of
which he considered might be useful.

We had frequent consultations after this, and, as the
time of the trial drew near, Lewis's offices and the pas-
sages leading to it, with the waiting-rooms, were filled
with the witnesses from Ireland concerned in the trial.
The case did not worry Parnell much except that it
took up so much of our all too little leisure time, which
was so prdlipus to us.

The following letters, written from Avondale during
the anxious time preceding the trial, will serve to show
how little the matter affected his ordinary interests.

August 30, 1887.

MY OWN WIFIE, I have been exceedingly anxious about
you ever since I left. You seemed so very ill that it has been
haunting me ever since that I ought to have stayed in London.

My own darling may write to me whenever she pleases.
I was so longing for a telegram all day yesterday, but not get-
ting one came to the conclusion that you had not been able
to go to London.

I have been round the place here, everything going on
well. The new mine is improving, so I have been tempted
to continue it for a short while longer.

It will not be necessary for me to remain here longer than a
few days, so that whenever you are ready for me I can re-


I am very well indeed.

January 4, 1888.

I finished will before going to bed on Monday, and will
execute it and send it north to-morrow. Am pretty sure to
be able to return next Monday or Tuesday at latest.

MY OWN DARLING QuEENiE, I got off all right yester-



day morning, forgetting the lamp, however, until I was in
train, when I decided upon telegraphing them from Chester
to send it on at once, which I did. I am having the carpen-
ter to fix a strong hook in the ceiling joist for it to hang upon,
and it will be a great improvement on the present state of
affairs, as the consumption of candles is enormous, while
giving very little light. They are undoubtedly the best and
safest lamps out; in fact, absolutely safe.

One of the little lamps here was broken since, so I have
suspended the other one also, as it was no use by itself.

The room will be very nice for a large suspended lamp; it
is about 13| feet high, by 24 feet by 20 feet.

I had only half an hour to wait at Kingstown for the train,
which I spent in the waiting-room, and a quarter of an hour
at Bray.

The sea was rather rough, but not too rough for me. I
studied the swinging of a lamp minutely during the passage,
and derived valuable lessons for the new ship.*

Am going to Arklow in the morning. Everything going on
here very well, notwithstanding which I have been advising
and admonishing K.f all day.

E.J is here all by herself, mother being expected to-night.

Miss B. B. was very old, very ugly, and very vulgar; in
fact, E. says the worst sponge that ever got hold of my
mother. She drank nothing but whisky, and took it to bed
with her.

There was dancing after theatricals till six in the mornmg.

I am very anxious about my own love, and so glad to get
telegram to-day; expect letter to-morrow. Raining torrents

*He studied the balance of the lamp for the "new ship" he was invent-
ing the one he was always trying at Brighton. (See p.142 .)

fKerr, Mr. Parnell's agent and bailiff.

JEmily Dickinson, Parnell's sister.

Mrs. Delia Parnell was giving the theatricals and dance in the great
new cattle-shed he had had built from his own plans, modelled on the plan
of the new station at Brighton.



A couple of weeks before the action came on Parnell
came home in great amusement. Lewis had written
asking him most particularly to call, as he had had a
consultation with Sir Charles Russell and wished to re-
port the result to Parnell. On Parnell's calling, think-
ing some new phase of the case had been evolved, Mr.
Lewis had "hoped he would not be annoyed," but Sir
Charles and he were rather worried about his (Parnell's)
clothes, and would he very much mind having a new
frock-coat from Poole's for the trial! Parnell had great
fun with me over that Poole coat, and when it canae home
we tried it on with great ceremony, Parnell stroking its
silk facings with pride, and insisting upon a back view
of it in the long mirror in my room.

Mr. Lewis inspired me with the greatest confidence,
and his charmingly deferential manner fascinated me,
while the keen brown eyes seemed to read the hidden
secrets of the soul. He was always exquisitely dressed,
and, when I made some playful remark about Parnell's
new coat, he told me in confidence that Parnell's Irish
homespuns were a great trial to him this with such
earnestness that I tried to suppress my laughter, as I
explained to him what a pleasure it was to me to be
possessed of a man who was above clothes; not below
them in slovenliness, but above them and unconscious
of his coverings.

Very many years after this, long after my husband's
death, this acquaintance with Sir George Lewis served
me in good stead. Circumstances arose which rendered
me very doubtful and uneasy in regard to the probity
of my trustee and solicitor, who had charge of my whole
income and the capital thereof. I had had no commu-
nication with Sir George Lewis for very many years;
but then the happy thought struck me that he would



advise me privately and disinterestedly. My son went
to him on my behalf, and it is entirely owing to the prompt
action taken by Sir George that any part of my little
income was saved to me.

My trustee had been speculating wildly, and, among
that of other clients, every penny of my small fortune
had been misappropriated. Sir George compelled the
repayment of what was possible by the discredited and
ruined man, and thus saved me by his kind and ener-
getic intervention from absolute destitution. Apart from
the very serious loss it entailed upon me, the downfall
of my trustee, clever, good-looking and altogether charm-
ing, was a great blow to us all. He had been so much a
friend, and I and my son and daughters had trusted him
so completely.

The result of the Parnell Commission is well known.
I continued to see Mr. Lewis regularly before the case
came on, and on one occasion he asked me if I would
mind going to Wood's Hotel, close by Ely Place, to meet
him on a matter that had to do with the case. This I
did, and, being early, awaited him in the coffee room.
When he came we had a long business talk about the
case, and he assured me that the issue was now com-
pletely secured. People were passing in and out as we
talked, and several I noticed passed very close to us, and
stared curiously at me before going out.

Suddenly, on observing this, I asked Mr. Lewis why
he had arranged our interview in this place instead of
at his office as usual. He made some evasive reply
about a client of his who occupied a very distinguished
position and he mentioned this personage by name
having an appointment at the office, and disliking the
fact of any other person being received during the same
hour of his visit.



I pointed out to Mr. Lewis that he was surely speak-
ing at random, as the person he mentioned could not
be left about at his office like a nobody while he talked
to me at an hotel. At this he laughed, and asked that
I should be satisfied with his reply until he saw me again,
and with this I had to be content, though I was some-
what ruffled at his not offering a sufficient explanation
of his odd place of appointment, and I curtly refused
to make another at the office for the following week.

Our interview had ostensibly been for the purpose of
discussing certain letters I had given into his care at a
former interview, but, as he afterwards told me, he had
asked those persons, who had, I thought, stared at me
in the hotel, if they could identify me with someone
who had been impersonating me with the hope of better
entangling Parnell, and of preventing him from publicly
protecting his honour for fear of dragging me into the
case. The "gentlemen from Ireland" who had had so
good a look at me were forced to admit that they had
never seen me before in their lives.

Shortly before the case came on I asked Mr. Lewis
if he would mind my going to see Mr. Soames (solicitor
for the Times). He answered, "I do not see why you
should not do so if you wish it," and to Parnell, who
had just come in, "It will be quite safe for her to see
Soames." "Yes, of course, she knows best," answered
Parnell, and off I went, pursued by Mr. Lewis's "You
must come straight back here, Mrs. O'Shea," as he put
me into the waiting cab.

My waiting cab was always an acute irritation to
Lewis. After his first greeting of me he invariably asked
me if my cab was waiting. ;< Yes, of course, how else
should I get home? " : ' You are not going to drive home ! "
with horror. "No, but to the station." "Pay him



off, my dear lady, and I'll send for another when I have
given you some tea," encouragingly. "But I like this
horse, he has such good legs." Then dear Mr. Lewis
used to get intensely irritated, and send someone flying
to pay my cab to go away at once. I never dared at
this stage to tell him that I always made a compact
with the cabman that "waiting did not count."

On my arrival at Mr. Soames's office he saw me at
once without any pretence of being "too busy." In
fact his office appeared almost deserted, and he wel-
comed me as his "cousin." He took some time in ar-
ranging the exact collateral degree of our relationship,
but beyond this our interview behind his closely shut
glass-panelled door led to nothing. I was desirous of
finding out which way his suspicions tended as ob-
viously he did not really think that Parnell had written
the letters; he, on his part, was trying to find out why
I had come.

On the 1st of March, 1889, Pigott shot himself in Mad-
rid. It was a painful affair, and Parnell was sorry for
the poor creature.

When Parnell attended the House for the first time
after the result of the Parnell Commission was made
known, I was not well, and could not get to the Ladies'
Gallery, as I had hoped to do, but long before he came
I had had reports of the tremendous ovation he received;
how every section of the House - Ministers, Opposi-
tion all rose at his entry as one man, cheering them-
selves hoarse and shouting his name. I asked him after-
wards if he had not felt very proud and happy then,
but he only smiled, and answered, "They would all be
at my throat in a week if they could!" I thought of
that speech a little later on.

Soon after the death of Pigott Mr. Parnell met Mr.



and Mrs. Gladstone at Mrs. Sydney Buxton's* "at home."
Almost the only comment, when he got home was : " That's
over; thank goodness!"

On May 28th, 1889, Sir Charles and Lady Russell
gave a reception in honour of the hero of the fight.
Parnell hated these affairs, but, as I pointed out to him,
it would be very sad if all those people assembled to
meet him and he was not there. The reception was a
time of adulation for him from first to last, I afterwards
heard, but when Parnell came home and told me all
about it he remarked, "It was all very kind and just
as troublesome as usual or would have been had I
not discovered a pretty little brown head with friendly
eyes that looked as shy as I felt."

I answered, "Dear me, who was this charming lady?
I should like to know!"

"That was just what she was, a charming little lady,
an Irishwoman. You know, Queenie, you are the only
Englishwoman I can bear! This was Katharine Tynan,
you read some of her things to me," and he went on to
speak of others at the reception, afterwards reverting to
the pleasure he had felt in meeting Katharine Tynan,
who he believed genuinely felt what all "those others"
were saying.

Presumably "those others" were perfectly sincere in
their appreciation of him, but Parnell, so English in
his own nature, had a constitutional distrust of English
people, and, curiously enough, he did not understand
them well, while the Irish character was an open book
to him. At a reception like this where the guests were,
of course, mostly English, Parnell would retire behind
his coldest, most aloof bulwark of exquisite courtesy,
and, to use his own simile about Katharine Tynan, "I

*Now Viscountess Buxton.


felt as though a little friendly bird had made a song
for me in an unfriendly land." We often afterwards
spoke of the "little friendly bird," and, should Mrs.
Hinkson (Katharine Tynan) ever see this book, she will
know that the "Chief" appreciated both her loyalty
and her song.

Directly the result of the Parnell Commission was
made known Mr. Parnell was elected a life member of
the National Liberal Club; an election which afforded
him a certain grave amusement at the time and a query
later on, when the "National Liberals" wished to de-
pose him, as to whether a "life member" can dare be
so illogical as to continue life without the membership.

On the 8th March, 1889, he was entertained for the
second time at the Eighty Club, and, a few days later
at a great meeting at St. James's Hall. At both meet-
ings the enthusiasm was so great that the whole body
of people present rose en masse as he entered, cheering,
waving handkerchiefs, and shouting his name for some
time before they allowed him to sit down.

Naturally these ovations of my hero gave me the
greatest pride and joy, but he would never allow me to
say much about them.

"You see, my dear, these people are not really pleased
with me," he would say. : 'They thought I had written
those letters, and now they are extolling their own sense
of justice in cheering me because I did not write them.
I might as wisely shout myself hoarse if a court of law
decided that Gladstone had not told somebody to rob
a bank!" And I would reply: "Well, I love to hear
and read about your being properly appreciated," only
to get a reproving "You are an illogical woman. These

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Online LibraryKitty O'SheaCharles Stewart Parnell; his love story and political life (Volume 2) → online text (page 9 of 20)