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fellow-members had besought the Government to institute an inquiry into the charges made against them in the 'Times' newspaper before a House of Commons committee, and the Government thinking that the inquiry, if it were to be held at all, should take place before the strongest possible tribunal, had passed an Act of Parliament referring the whole subject to three judges. Their report entirely acquitted Parnell as to the letter, but on matters of far greater importance their findings amounted to a terrible condemnation of the conduct of members of the National party, and form a document of the utmost historical value to all who wish to know the facts as to an important period of Nationalist agitation.
Parnell's triumph-if such it can be called-was of very short duration, for the revelations of the Divorce Court in November 1890 proved the end of his power. With all his faults he was a man of splendid courage and tenacity. There was a certain quiet manliness about him that claims respect, and there is something almost tragic in the suddenness and completeness of his fall. Undoubtedly he was very badly treated both by his Irish followers and his English allies. Amongst members of Parliament, and probably in a much wider circle, the relations between Parnell and Mrs. O'Shea had been notorious for several years past, but this had never been considered by Nationalists as affording them any reason for withdrawing their allegiance, nor by Gladstonians any reason for rejecting his alliance. After the Divorce Court proceedings the Nationalist party in Dublin resolved to stand by Parnell, and he was, on the meeting of Parliament, again chosen their leader by the parliamentary party. Mr. Gladstone and his chief colleagues, however, concluded, probably correctly, that Parnell's continuance in his old position would tell heavily against them, and therefore against the Home Rule cause, at the next general election. Parnell, therefore, must go. True, he had been re-elected by the Irish, but if the latter were to have the assistance of an English alliance it must be on English terms. Logically, no doubt, there was not a little absurdity in English Home Rule Liberals, who were contending for the great principle of management by Irishmen of Irish affairs, denying the right of the Irish parliamentary party to choose its own leader. But Mr. Gladstone on some occasions was quite as practical a man as Parnell, and he now had in his eye the coming elections in England. Gladstone, therefore, threatened to retire himself (this
seems the more obvious rendering of his letter) unless Parnell did. Parnell was accordingly dismissed by a great majority of his old parliamentary following, who thereby unintentionally aimed as deadly a blow at the very basis of Parnellite policy as at the position of Parnell himself. To this majority it doubtless appeared that they had to make the painful choice between voting on personal grounds for their old leader and voting on patriotic grounds for the Home Rule cause. In truth, they absolutely destroyed that independence of the Nationalist party by which alone, according to Parnell, the cause could ever be won. Parnell made a splendid struggle to call back his countrymen to their old flag, but his strength, which had for some time. been failing, broke down owing to his excessive exertions, and he died at the early age of forty-one, leaving no one behind him to fill his place.
In that last struggle the politic silence maintained by the Irish leader whilst Mr. Gladstone was doing the work of Home Rule for him was abandoned. Parnellism and Fenianism stood shoulder to shoulder whilst the majority of the Home Rule members, who had cast in their lot with Mr. Gladstone and the bulk of the Roman Catholic priesthood, were against him. Whether or not, if life had been spared him, Parnell would have succeeded in resuscitating an independent and united Nationalist party can never be known. The years which have followed his death have shown that amongst Irish Nationalists there was no one who was personally qualified to contest Parnell's supremacy, whilst Mr. Gladstone's departure from the political stage has shown conclusively that no English Home Rule statesman remained whose own ascendency could threaten in any degree the independence of the Irish parliamentary party. If there was to remain in Ireland any strong feeling for Nationalism, it would seem inevitable that Parnell would again have been the Nationalist leader; but even so he would again have been doomed to disappointment and failure, for he could never have won Home Rule.
The influence of a strong personality has made Mr. Barry O'Brien strangely blind to the difficulties which prevented the accomplishment of Parnell's policy. He writes as if the Irish leader had really been within an ace of achieving success; and as if the maintenance of the parliamentary unity of the three kingdoms was due to the exposure of the unfortunate relations that existed between Parnell and the wife of Captain O'Shea! The only possible
chance for the acceptance by Parliament of Home Rule lay in its being rushed through Parliament' before it was understood by the British people. The attempt to substitute for our present constitution a new system, which had not first been submitted to the people, has twice been attempted, and has twice been foiled, to the unmistakeable satisfaction of the electorate. Moreover, time and experience have shown us-thanks in large measure to the firmness and ability of Mr. Arthur Balfour-that the contention of Parnell and Mr. Gladstone, and of many others who should have known better, that the choice lay between Home Rule and the government of Ireland by an almost Russian absolutism was mistaken almost to the point of absurdity. On the contrary, it is clear that the best prospect of peace and well-ordered freedom in Ireland lies in the maintenance of the parliamentary union.
The real obstacles in Parnell's way were the circumstances and conditions of the age in which he lived. National sovereignty in the present day in democratically governed countries belongs not to individual monarchs, but to parliaments. Parnell always carefully explained that he asked not for provincial, nor for state, but for national rights, and for that reason he found amongst the Fenians his most constant friends. Mr. Gladstone expressed his belief to Mr. O'Brien, in January 1897, that, but for the divorce, an 'Irish Parliament' would have been in actual existence. We do not for a moment believe it. But how have matters gone in the last two years? No English Liberal statesman of the front rank now ventures to express the slightest desire for an Irish Parliament;' and, as a party, they have quite lately affirmed in the House of Commons their disapproval of the Irish claim of legislative independence.' Is this abandonment of the Gladstone and Parnell policy also due to Mrs. O'Shea, or to deeper canses? Assuredly the Home Rule faith, in its inception and in its abandonment, has been a strange political portent; and it is now left to Unionists to cry that Home Rule is not yet quite dead!
Irish patriotism, as time goes on, will, we cannot doubt, develope on lines very different from that of the late Nationalist leader. After all, amongst the majority of Irishmen, love of their country does not mean hatred of England; and the day will come when all educated Irishmen will look upon John Bright as a far truer friend of Ireland than ever was Parnell. Parnell failed utterly and
completely in the object he had set before himself-the making Ireland a nation, and the instrument by which he was to achieve it broke in his hands. His party could not, as an independent party, impose its will on Parliament, and when it entered into a close alliance with the Gladstonians it lost the independence of even choosing its own leader. Where Parnell and Gladstone failed, it is not likely that lesser men will succeed. It is impossible to arrest the tendency of our times towards national consolidation. Considerations of party exigency, which loom so large in the eyes of party managers, and sometimes of party leaders, count for little in the result, when they are opposed to the actual conditions of the time. It is too late for 'Particularism' to raise its head here. Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen are doomed by the necessities of modern civilisation to a closer and closer identification of their own interests and sentiments, and our inevitable advance will be towards a complete and more harmonious union in a single nation of the whole people of the British Isles.
No. CCCLXXXIX, will be published in July.
American Revolution, review of Sir G. Trevelyan's and Mr.
Anson, Sir W. R., his Autobiography of Duke of Grafton' re-
Asia Minor, review of books upon, 515-as a Roman province, 516
Badminton book on 'Big Game Shooting' reviewed, 213.
Bond, F. T., his story of Gloucester smallpox reviewed, 335.