To the Death of Parnell

Patrick Weston Joyce

982. The London "Times" now (1888) brought a terrible charge against Mr. Parnell. It accused him of having written letters encouraging persons to commit crimes and outrages, and of saying that Mr. Burke, who was murdered in the Park, got only what he deserved. The writer went on to state that the letters, in Parnell's handwriting, were in the "Times" office. Parnell at once declared these accusations false, and brought an action for slander against the "Times." After a long trial it was found that all the letters had been carefully forged, in imitation of Parnell's handwriting, by an Irish newspaper editor named Pigott, who sold them for a good sum to the editor of the "Times." Pigott fled, but was pursued: and when he found himself overtaken, committed suicide. The "Times" had to acknowledge the forgery, and by agreement of both sides, handed Parnell £5000 as damages, besides paying all the enormous expenses.

983. The Plan of Campaign still went on, though it—as well as boycotting—had been condemned by a rescript from Rome, and by the Catholic ecclesiastical authorities in Ireland. While many landlords were forced by it to reduce their rents, a large proportion of them resisted it with great determination; and large numbers of the tenants who held back their rents were evicted from their farms. These farms were, in many instances, given by the landlords to others—often persons brought from a distance. But the position of these new settlers was generally a very unpleasant one: for they were absolutely boycotted by the people of the neighbourhood, so that they often found it hard to obtain the necessaries of life; and in many cases they had to be protected by the police. Towards the close of the year (1889), however, the country became more tranquil; the Plan of Campaign failed on many estates, and there was much less boycotting.

984. At this time a circumstance occurred that led to the disruption of the Nationalist party. For a considerable period, very unfavourable rumours affecting Mr. Parnell's personal character had been going about: but he persisted in declaring them false, and that when the proper time came he would prove them so. But when the proper time did come, it was found that they were all true. On this, the Irish Catholic bishops and the majority of his followers declared that they would no longer have him as leader (1890); but a section of the Nationalists took his part, and determined that they would still follow him. So the Nationalist party became broken up into two sections, Parnellites and anti-Parnellites, who were bitterly opposed to each other. The hierarchy and Catholic clergy in general were all through, to the very end of this dispute, on the side of the anti-Parnellite party; and later on the bishops issued a manifesto declaring Parnell unworthy to be leader, and appealing to the people to sever themselves from him.

985. One of the most extensive and influential landlords in the south of Ireland was Mr. Smith Barry: and, so far, he and his tenants had agreed very well. But it happened that he gave aid to a neighbouring landlord who was trying to resist the Plan of Campaign; and for doing this, Smith Barry's tenants—urged on by some of the Nationalist leaders—quarrelled with him, though having little or no fault to find with his manner of dealing with themselves. Then commenced a bitter struggle. The tenants resorted to the Plan of Campaign on his estates, and he evicted them wholesale for non-payment of rent. He was the owner of a great part of the town of Tipperary—a town then very prosperous, and having a large number of well-to-do shopkeepers, his tenants. Following the advice of one or more of the leaders, they now resolved to abandon their dwellings and shops wholesale, so as to cut off the supply of rent from the landlord. They built up a temporary town in the neighbourhood, which they called "New Tipperary," to which most of them removed; while others, who thought the matter unadvisable and foolish, and who did not wish to remove, were forced to do so. But after a considerable interval the shopkeepers, getting tired of their new abodes, and finding themselves not prospering, settled matters with their landlord, who treated them very well on the occasion; they went back to their old homes; and so this business came to an end.

986. During 1890, and far into 1891, Parnell went through the country, holding meetings of his followers and making speeches; and there were many violent scenes, quarrels, and collisions, between the two parties. At last he became ill: yet with extraordinary energy he still persisted in attending and speaking at meetings in all sorts of weather, when he ought to have been in his bed. But human nature could not stand this strain: and at last he broke down utterly, and died on the 7th of October, 1891. His death, instead of ending the dissension, as many thought it would, only made matters worse: and though the majority of the anti-Parnellites were anxious for reconciliation, the Parnellites bitterly rejected all advances. The leader of the Parnellites was Mr. John Redmond, M.P., while Mr. Justin M'Carthy, M.P., was at the head of the anti-Parnellites, and, after his resignation, Mr. John Dillon, M.P. Some years later on, both parties were united under the leadership of Mr. John Redmond, M.P.: a union brought about mainly by Mr. T. Harrington, M.P., one of the Parnellite members.

Another Home Rule Bill for Ireland was brought forward by Mr. Gladstone in 1893; while Mr. John Morley was Chief Secretary for Ireland. It was passed in the Commons, though not with a very large majority—43 in a house of 651: but the House of Lords rejected it, 419 of them voting against it, and only 41 in favour of it. The news was received this time in Ireland with little surprise or excitement; for everyone foresaw that the Lords would throw it out, as the majority in the Commons was so small.