Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
786
[FROM ANGLO-NORMAN INVASION
IRELAND

public astonishment, when the case came on for trial there was no defence, and on the 17th of November 1890 a decree nisi was granted. Parnell’s subsequent marriage with the respondent before a registrar did him no good with his Roman Catholic supporters. The Irish bishops remained silent, while in England the “Nonconformist conscience” revolted. Three days after the verdict a great meeting was held in the Leinster Hall, Dublin, attended by 25 members of the Irish parliamentary party. The result was an enthusiastic vote of confidence in Parnell, moved by Mr Justin M‘Carthy and seconded by Mr T. M. Healy. Five days later he was unanimously re-elected chairman by his party in parliament, but the meeting was scarcely over when Gladstone’s famous letter to Mr Morley became public. The writer in effect demanded Parnell’s resignation of the leadership as the condition upon which he could continue at the head of the Liberal party. He had to choose between the Nonconformist vote and the Irish leader, and he preferred the former. Next day the secession of the Irish members from their chief began. Long and acrimonious debates followed in committee-room 15, and on the 6th of December Parnell was left in the chair with only 26 supporters. The majority of 45 members—Anti-Parnellites, as they came to be called—went into another room, unanimously deposed him, and elected Mr Justin M‘Carthy in his place. Parnell then began a campaign as hopeless as that of Napoleon after Leipzig. He seized the office of United Ireland in person. The Fenian element was with him, as he admitted, but the clergy were against him, and the odds were too great, especially against a Protestant politician. His candidate in a by-election at Kilkenny was beaten by nearly two to one, and he himself was injured in the eyes by lime being thrown at him. Similar defeats followed at Sligo and Carlow. He went over to France to meet Messrs Dillon and O’Brien, who had not yet taken sides, but nothing was agreed to, and in the end both these former followers went against him. Every Saturday he went from London to Dublin and addressed some Sunday meeting in the country. The last was on the 27th of September. On the 6th of October 1891 he died at Brighton, from the effects of a chill following on overwork and excitement. His funeral at Glasnevin was attended by 200,000 people. At the general election of 1892, however, only 9 Parnellites—the section which under Mr John Redmond remained staunch to his memory—were returned to parliament.

The “Parnellite split,” as it was called, proved fatal to the cause of Home Rule, for the Nationalist party broke up into factions. No one of the sectional leaders commanded general confidence, and personal rivalries were of the bitterest kind. An important result of these quarrels was to stop the supply of American money, without which neither the Land League nor the Home Rule agitation could have been worked. The Unionist party had adopted a policy of local government for Ireland while opposing legislative independence, and a bill was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr Balfour in February 1892. The principle was affirmed by a great majority, but the measure could not then be proceeded with. At the general election in July the Gladstonians and Nationalists together obtained a majority of 40 over Conservatives and Liberal Unionists. Lord Salisbury resigned in August, and was succeeded by Gladstone, with Lord Houghton (afterwards earl of Crewe) as lord-lieutenant and Mr John Morley as chief secretary. The Crimes Act, which had already been relaxed, was altogether suspended, and the proclamation declaring the National League illegal was revoked. The lord-lieutenant, on taking up his quarters in Dublin, refused a loyal address because of its Unionist tone; and in October the government issued a commission, with Mr Justice Mathew as chairman, which had the restoration of the evicted tenants as its avowed object. Two of the commissioners very shortly resigned, and the whole inquiry became somewhat farcical. It was given in evidence that out of £234,431 collected under the plan of campaign only £125,000 had been given to evicted tenants. In February 1893, on the application of the sheriff of Kerry, an order from Dublin Castle, refusing protection, was pronounced illegal in the Queen’s Bench, and persons issuing it were declared liable to criminal prosecution. In the same month Gladstone Home Rule Bill 1893. introduced his second Home Rule Bill, which proposed to retain 80 Irish members in the imperial parliament instead of 103, but they were not to vote on any proceedings expressly confined to Great Britain. On the 8th of April 1886 he had told the House of Commons that it “passed the wit of man” to draw a practical distinction between imperial and non-imperial affairs. On the 20th of July 1888 he informed the same assembly that there was no difficulty in doing so. It had become evident, in the meantime, to numberless Englishmen that the exclusion of the Irish members would mean virtual separation. The plan now proposed met with no greater favour, for a good many English Home Rulers had been mainly actuated all along by the wish to get the Irish members out of their way. The financial provisions of the bill were objected to by the Nationalists as tending to keep Ireland in bondage.

During the year 1892 a vast number of Unionist meetings were held throughout Ireland, the most remarkable being the great Ulster convention in Belfast, and that of the three other provinces in Dublin, on the 14th and 23rd of June. On the 22nd of April 1893, the day after the second reading of the bill, the Albert Hall in London was filled by enthusiastic Unionist delegates from all parts of Ireland. Next day the visitors were entertained by Lord Salisbury at Hatfield, the duke of Devonshire, Mr Balfour, Mr Goschen and Mr Chamberlain being present. Between the second reading and the third on 1st September the government majority fell from 43 to 34. A great part of the bill was closured by what was known as the device of the “gag” without discussion, although it occupied the House of Commons altogether eighty-two nights. It was thrown out by the Lords by 419 to 41, and the country undoubtedly acquiesced in their action. On the 3rd of March 1894 Gladstone resigned, and Lord Rosebery (q.v.) became prime minister. A bill to repeal the Crimes Act of 1887 was read a second time in the Commons by 60, but went no farther. A committee on the Irish Land Acts was closured at the end of July by the casting vote of the chairman, Mr Morley, and the minority refused to join in the report. The bill to restore the evicted tenants, which resulted from the Mathew Commission, was rejected in the Lords by 249 to 30. In March 1895 Mr Morley introduced a Land Bill, but the government majority continued to dwindle. Another Crimes Act Repeal Bill passed the second reading in May by only 222 to 208. In July, however, the government were defeated on the question of the supply of small-arms ammunition. A general election followed, which resulted in a Unionist majority of 150. The Liberal Unionists, whose extinction had once been so confidently foretold, had increased from 46 to 71, and the Parnellites, in spite of the most violent clerical opposition, from 9 to 12. Lord Cadogan became lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and Mr Gerald Balfour—who announced a policy of “killing Home Rule by kindness”—chief secretary.

In the session of 1896 a new Land Act was added to the statute-book. The general effect was to decide most disputed points in favour of the tenants, and to repeal the exceptions made by former acts in the landlord’s Land Act 1896. favour. Dairy farms, to mention only a few of the most important points which had been hitherto excluded, were admitted within the scope of the Land Acts, and purely pastoral holdings of between £50 and £100 were for the first time included. A presumption of law in the tenant’s favour was created as to improvements made since 1850. The 40th clause introduced the principle of compulsory sale to the tenants of estates in the hands of receivers. The tendency of this provision to lower the value of all property was partly, but only partly, neutralized by the firmness of the land judge. The landlords of Ireland, who had made so many sacrifices and worked so hard to return Lord Salisbury to power, felt that