Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/418

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Stephens
Stephens
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Rutherford hints that Stephens hunself, seeing the game was up, betrayed the plot. The fact seems to be that while there was no direct treachery there was a good deal of culpable negligence. Stephens was not arrested at the time, a point which is considered to weigh heavily against him, but neither were Kickham, Brophy and others, and there is no reason to doubt that, had he liked, Stephens could easily have slipped out of the country. He remained at his post, hoping against hope that the expected money to purchase arms would arrive from America in time. The money miscarried, and on 11 Nov. Stephens, under the name of Herbert, was arrested at Fairfield House, Sandymount, and confined in Richmond prison. He had boasted that his organisation was so perfect that no gaol in Ireland was strong enough to hold him. His confidence proved well founded. With the connivance of his warder and the assistance of his friends outside he managed to escape on 24 Nov. A large reward was offered for his capture, but Stephens seemed to lead a charmed life. No assistance arrived from America, and he easily escaped to Paris on 11 March 1866. Some weeks later he sailed for New York. His efforts to close up the Fenian ranks there proved fruitless. As a last desperate throw he announced amid applause, at a monster meeting on 28 Oct., his intention of immediately returning to Ireland and unfurling the flag of rebellion. But when in the succeeding weeks Stephens showed no sign of action he was denounced as a traitor on 20 Dec. at a meeting at which he was present. Next day he was formally deposed as 'a rogue, an impostor, and a traitor.' After lingering for some time in New York in constant fear of his life, Stephens made his way back to Paris, where he eked out a scanty livelihood by journalism and by giving lessons in English. In 1885 he was wrongly suspected of being concerned in the American dynamite plots and his expulsion from France was demanded, but the mistake being admitted he was allowed to return to Ireland, where his friends organised a national subscription on his behalf. He was thereby enabled to live in comparative comfort at Blackrock, where he died on 29 April 1901.

Stephens was the creator of an organisation which, if it failed in its immediate object, exercised an enormous influence not only on Irish opinion the wide world over but on the relations between England and Ireland for many years. Believing that it was only by open force — by meeting England on the field of battle — that the freedom of Ireland could be won, he had no sympathy with the methods of the dynamite conspirators, and even less with the parliamentary methods of Butt and Parnell. He was a difficult man to deal with — vain, arrogant, and not scrupulously truthful. On the accessible evidence he may be pronounced not guilty of treachery to his fellow-conspirators. At any rate the charge is not proven.

Stephens is described as a broad-shouldered, stoutly built man of medium height, with small, furtive-looking eyes. A photographic likeness of him forms the frontispiece to vol. ii. of O'Leary's 'Fenians and Fenianism,' and there is another by Lafayette, Ltd., in the article in the 'Pall Mall Magazine.' Stephens married the sister of his friend George Hopper, whose father was a small tradesman in Dublin.

[O'Leary's Recollections of Fenians and Fenianism; James Stephens, by one who knew him, in Pall Mall Mag. xxiv. 331–7; Rutherford's Secret Hist, of the Fenian Conspiracy; Doheny's Felon's Track; Pigott's Personal Recollections of an Irish Journalist; Le Caron's Twenty-five Years of Secret Service; Eye- Witness's Arrest and Escape of James Stephens; J. Stephens, Chief Organiser of the Irish Republic, N.Y., 1866; and authorities mentioned in the text. An examination of Stephens's unpublished papers, lately in the possession of a personal friend of Michael Davitt (cf. Davitt's Fall of Feudalism in Ireland, ch. vii.), is needed to reveal the full truth.]

R. D.


STEPHENS, JAMES BRUNTON (1835–1902), Queensland poet, born at George Place, Borrowstounness in Linlithgowshire, on the Firth of Forth, on 17 June 1835, was son of a schoolmaster there in poor circumstances. When he was still quite young, his family moved to Edinburgh, and he was educated at Edinburgh University (1852–4), paying his college fees, it is said, by teaching in the evening and in the vacations. He had a successful university career, although he took no degree, and on leaving college became a travelling tutor for three years, spending a year in Paris, six or seven months in Italy, and visiting Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, the Levant, and Sicily. Subsequently he was for six years a schoolmaster at Greenock, and did some writing in a small way. In 1866, on account of health, he emigrated to Queensland, and landed in the colony about the end of April. For a short time he lived with a cousin at Kangaroo Point on the outskirts of Brisbane. He engaged