the debate was closured by the Speaker on his own responsibility and the bill read a first time. The Speaker’s action was approved by the House generally, but acrimonious debates were raised by Irish members. Parnell and 35 of his colleagues were suspended, and the bill became law on the 2nd of March, but not before great and permanent changes were made in parliamentary procedure. An Arms Bill, which excited the same sort of opposition, was also passed into law.
That a Land Act should be passed was a foregone conclusion as soon as the result of the general election was known. There were many drafts and plans which never saw the light, but it was at last resolved to adopt the policy Land Act, 1881. known as the “Three F’s”—free sale, fixity of tenure and fair rents. By the first tenants at will were empowered to sell their occupation interests, the landlord retaining a right of pre-emption. By the second the tenant was secured from eviction except for non-payment of rent. By the third the tenant was given the right to have a “fair rent” fixed by a newly formed Land Commission Court, the element of competition being entirely excluded. There were several exceptions and qualifying clauses, but most of them have been swept away by later acts. The act of 1881 can scarcely be said to have worked well or smoothly, but it is not easy to see how any sort of settlement could have been reached without accepting the principle of having the rent fixed by a third party. Drastic as the bill was, Parnell refused to be a party to it, and on the second reading, which was carried by 352 to 176, he walked out of the House with 35 of his followers. When the bill became law in August he could not prevent the tenants from using it, but he did what he could to discourage them in order to please his American paymasters, who repudiated all parliamentary remedies. In September a convention was held in Dublin, and Parnell reported its action to the American Land League: “Resolutions were adopted for national self-government, the unconditional liberation of the land for the people, tenants not to use the rent-fixing clauses of the Land Act, but follow old Land League lines, and rely on the old methods to reach justice. The executive of the League is empowered to select test cases, in order that tenants in surrounding districts may realize, by the results of cases decided, the hollowness of the act” (Barry O’Brien, Life of C. S. Parnell, i. 306). His organ United Ireland declared that the new courts must be cowed into giving satisfactory decisions. The League, however, could not prevent the farmers from using the fair-rent clauses. It was more successful in preventing free sale, maintaining the doctrine that, rent or no rent, no evictions were to be allowed. At the first sitting of the Land Commission in Dublin the crier, perhaps by accident, declared “the court of the Land League to be open.” Speaking at Leeds on the 7th of October, Gladstone said “the resources of civilization were not exhausted,” adding that Parnell “stood between the living and the dead, not like Aaron to stay the plague, but to spread the plague.” Two days later Parnell called the prime minister a “masquerading knight-errant,” ready to oppress the unarmed, but submissive to the Boers as soon as he found “that they were able to shoot straighter than his own soldiers.” Four days after this Parnell was arrested under the Coercion Act and lodged in Kilmainham Kilmainham “Treaty.” gaol. The Land League having retorted by ordering the tenants to pay no rent, it was declared illegal, and suppressed by proclamation. Parnell is said to have disapproved of the no-rent manifesto, as also Mr John Dillon, who was in Kilmainham with him, but both of them signed it (ib. i. 319). At Liverpool on the 27th of October Gladstone described Parnell and his party as “marching through rapine to the disintegration and dismemberment of the empire.” In 1881, 4439 agrarian outrages were reported; nothing attracted more attention in England than the cruel mutilations of cattle, which became very frequent. The Ladies’ Land League tried to carry on the work of the suppressed organization and there was even an attempt at a Children’s League. Sex had no effect in softening the prevalent style of oratory, but the government thought it better to take no notice. The imprisonment of suspects under the Coercion Act had not the expected result, and outrages were incessant, the agitation being supported by constant supplies of money from America. Gladstone resolved on a complete change of policy. It was decided to check evictions by an Arrears Bill, and the three imprisoned members of parliament—Messrs Parnell, Dillon and O’Kelly—were released on the 2nd of May 1882, against the wishes of the Irish government. This was known as the Kilmainham Treaty. Lord Cowper and Forster at once resigned, and were succeeded by Lord Spencer and Lord Frederick Cavendish, who entered Dublin on the 6th of May.
That same evening Lord Frederick and the permanent under-secretary Thomas Henry Burke were murdered in the Phoenix Park in broad daylight. The weapons were amputating knives imported for the purpose. The assassins drove Phoenix Park murders. rapidly away; no one, not even those who saw the deed from a distance, knew what had been done. A Dublin tradesman named Field, who had been a juror in a murder trial, was attacked by the same gang and stabbed in many places. He escaped with life, though with shattered health, and it was the identification of the man who drove his assailants’ car that afterwards led to the discovery of the whole conspiracy. The clue was obtained by a private examination of suspected persons under the powers given by the Crimes Act. To obtain convictions the evidence of an informer was wanted, and the person selected was James Carey, a member of the Dublin Corporation and a chief contriver of the murders. He swore that they had been ordered immediately after the appearance of an article in the Freeman’s Journal which declared that a “clean sweep” should be made of Dublin Castle officials. The evidence disclosed the fact that several abortive attempts had been previously made to murder Forster. Out of twenty persons, subsequently arraigned, five were hanged, and others sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Carey embarked for South Africa in the following July, and was murdered on board ship by Patrick O’Donnell, who was brought to England, convicted, and hanged on the 17th of December 1883.
Mr (afterwards Sir) G. O. Trevelyan had been appointed chief secretary in May 1882, and in July the Crimes Prevention Act was passed for three years on lines indicated by Lord Cowper. In the first six months of the year National League. 2597 agrarian outrages were reported, and in the last six months 836. They fell to 834 in 1883, and to 744 in 1884. The Arrears Bill also became law. Money enough was advanced out of the surplus property of the Irish Church to pay for tenants of holdings under £30 one year’s rent upon all arrears accruing before November 1880, giving them a clear receipt to that date on condition of their paying another year themselves; of the many reasons against the measure the most important was that it was a concession to agrarian violence. But the same could be and was said of the Land Act of 1881. That had been passed, and it was probably impossible to make it work at all smoothly without checking evictions by dealing with old arrears. The Irish National League was, however, founded in October to take up the work of the defunct Land League, and the country continued to be disturbed. The law was paralysed, for no jury could be trusted to convict even on the clearest evidence, and the National League branches assumed judicial functions. Men were openly tried all over the country for disobeying the revolutionary decrees, and private spite was often the cause of their being accused. “Tenants,” to quote the Cowper Commission again, “who have paid even the judicial rents have been summoned to appear before self-constituted tribunals, and if they failed to do so, or on appearing failed to satisfy those tribunals, have been fined or boycotted.” In February 1883 Mr Trevelyan gave an account of his stewardship at Hawick, and said that all law-abiding Irishmen, whether Conservative or Liberal, were on one side, while on the other were those who “planned and executed the Galway and Dublin murders, the boycotting and