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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84



Meetings now succeeded each other with great rapidity in Ireland, and although, generally speaking, the speeches were delivered with a due regard to the requirements of the moment, in showing a moderate front; at times there were significant passages in the orators' harangues, and the hearers broke forth into such cries as "We don't want to be loyal;" "We will get it [so-called justice] by physical force;" "By the rifles;" "We will fight for it;" "A cheer for the Fenians;" "Another cheer for the Fenians;" &c. The spirit of hatred, and almost devilment, which was communicated to the people by the hints and inuendoes employed on the platforms began to manifest itself, and the lawlessness of the worst portion of the population to produce saddening results. The Agrarian Crime Returns soon disclosed a decided, if gradual, rise. Davitt spoke in Castlebar in September, and while there had only been forty-five outrages in the previous month, this number was increased by twenty in the month referred to. In October the numbers stood at one hundred; in November, at one hundred and sixty-seven; and, varying, in December numbered one hundred and thirty-five.

Mr. Parnell left Ireland at the end of the year 1879, and, in company with Mr. John Dillon (an enthusiast of the strongest possible anti-imperial views) and Mr. Timothy Healy, then private secretary to him, landed at New York on the 9th of January, 1880. He was everywhere received by the Fenians with open arms, and not alone by the Republican portion of the American community, but by very many others who sympathised with the then condition of Ireland, threatened as she was with a visitation of famine. Mr. Parnell was all things to all men, and when in the midst of his page 17 Fenian colleagues he grew positively eloquent on the subject of physical force. At Cleveland, three weeks after he had landed, he told his hearers, when speaking of the use of arms in the freeing of Ireland, "Well, it may come to that some day or another." At Rochester, subsequently, "he was bound to say that every Irishman should be prepared to shed the last drop of his blood in order to obtain a solution" of the question. Because the New York Herald had taken the landlord side of the struggle, he said, "The best punishment for the New York Herald, when it goes to the lower regions, would be to send the Irish land system and the British Government with it." At Pittston, on February 16th, he told his hearers that "from the blood of the brave Connemara women who resisted the home-destroyers (this is an euphemism for landlords) shall spring up a power which will sweep away, not only the land system, but the infamous Government that maintains it;" and at Cincinnati, just a week afterwards, he boasted of the coming downfall of the landlord system, which had been "the corner-stone of English misrule. Pull out that corner-stone, break it up, destroy it, and you undermine English misgovernment," he continued, and then went on to make the momentous assertion that "none of us—whether we be in America or in Ireland, or wherever we may be—will be satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which keeps Ireland bound to England." Of course all these statements were rapturously applauded. Why should they not be—ministering, as the speaker was, to the revolutionary sentiment of his hearers?

But while Mr. Parnell was haranguing the forces of Irish-American Fenianism in this way, he was too practical to forget the special object of his mission; and he made quite as much headway in the matter of getting money from both the revolutionary section and the moderate sympathising native American. As a result of this visit Land League branches were started right through the United States for the ostensible object of collecting funds to aid the distressed Irish at home, and with the more secret aim of organising the brethren, so that the "sea-divided Gael" might all be joined together in this last grand move for what Mr. Parnell described as the destroying "of the last link which keeps Ireland bound to the Empire."

The American tour was, however, brought to an abrupt termination at the commencement of March, 1880, when a hurried summons page 18 was cabled to Mr. Parnell to return to Ireland for the General Election, which was to take place almost immediately. The work of organisation had gone on apace during his absence, and when he arrived back in Ireland things were very pleasantly situated for him. All the resources of the Land League were immediately brought into play in order to have candidates returned who bore the imprimatur of Mr. Parnell. The "Nationalist" Leader had already indicated what his policy in the choice of candidates would be. He wanted a certain type of Parliamentary representative who should be young and clever, able to study and become acquainted with matters in Parliament connected with Imperial interests; and who could, by speaking and discussing the details of these, pursue to the full the "policy of exasperation." It was not a very high ideal, but it was one suited to his particular position. He wanted to give satisfaction to those behind him, and he could not do so save by clothing Parliamentary representation with some of the attractiveness, which it could only have in Fenian eyes, by bringing the Imperial Legislature into contempt. Another requirement of this new type of Irish representative was to be found in the fact that, as a general rule, he was not to be a man of much social standing; for the policy which it would be necessary at times to pursue would necessitate an entire absence of scruple, principle, and independence.