Page images

“ other respondents of insincerity in their denunciation of “the Phenix Park murders." I pass by the absurd nonsense spoken and written by partizans on this subject, men who declared that the charge was a trifle, when it was believed that it might be true, and who now exclaim that it is nine-tenths of the case; men who say that the whole indictment fails, because Mr. Parnell and his allied M.P.'s and Mr. Davitt have been acquitted most justly, on a part of a single count ! I come to the point on this finding ; the Commissioners, having pronounced the letters forged, absolve the accused of double dealing as regards the tragedy of the 6th May, but they are silent as to insincere conduct as regards the denunciation of crime generally; and, if we recollect that they have distinctly stated that the respondents did not denounce “boycotting,” we may infer what is their view in the matter. If we pass, too, from the question of insincerity with respect to criminal acts, to that of insincerity in the general conduct of the Parnellite movement since its origin, the Judges have impliedly found Mr. Parnell guilty of grave duplicity, and of a marked and singular want of truthfulness. He professes to lead "a constitutional movement; but, apart from his dealings with Ford, and such worthies—the Commissioners report that “ he used language indicating “ a desire for the complete separation of Ireland from the “United Kingdom," that he did utter the remarkable words,

a true revolutionary movement in Ireland should, in my opinion, partake both of a constitutional and an illegal

character;" that he probably said to the witness, Le Caron, that “ he had long ceased to believe that anything “but force of arms would bring about the redemption of “ Ireland!” Though, too, he disclaims extravagant views on the Irish Land Question, the Judges have found that he did tell the peasantry “ to hold a firm grip on their lands,” and to resist eviction ; that he did say

“ let us not suppose that a great cause like this can be won “without shedding a drop of blood ;” that he did order that farms should be left derelict, whether the rent that caused the eviction was fair or not. It should be observed, moreover, that Mr. Parnell is understood to be one of the proprietors of United Ireland, an incendiary journal of the worst type; and it must be added that the Judges have formed many of these conclusions in direct defiance of Mr. Parnell's evidence as a sworn witness. This shews pretty clearly what their opinion is of the straightforwardness and the veracity of the Gladstonian suspect now marked out for Gladstonian honour, and if it is no doubt a difficult task to play a revolutionary and a constitutional game in concert, to take the money of Ford and of the Clan-na-Gael, and to angle for Gladstonian Liberals, this scarcely absolves even an "uncrowned king from the first obligations of moral duty. In view of all this it is but a small thing that Mr. Parnell admitted on oath that he had sought "to mislead the House of Commons," in a deliberate statement of great importance, and that the Commissioners have evidently given no credit to a contrary statement he made in the box.

The judgment of the Commissioners on the whole indictment may be summed up in a few sentences. They find eight of the accused guilty of seeking to make Ireland an independent State; and all the accused might have been charged with a conspiracy of a treasonable kind. They convict the accused of a settled purpose to make paupers and exiles of the Irish landlords through a general and systematic attack on their property; and they find that, in order to carry out this object, they adopted methods of coercion and intimidation,” that is of “boycotting,” which produced a Reign of Terror in large parts of Ireland. They acquit the accused of direct complicity with murder and crime of a murderous nature; but they do not absolve

them of moral complicity, for they expressly say that “the “speeches made" conduced to “assassination ” on the part of the peasantry. They report that the accused diffused a literature of the worst kind in the form of pestilent journals-rebellious, incendiary, and in a word, Jacobin ;and they find that the accused did not condemn "boycotting," but promoted it, well knowing its frightful effects. They acquit the accused of concerting with notorious criminals, and of getting up testimonials for them; but they allege that they lavished funds in the defence of criminals, and in compensating persons injured in the perpetration of crime, the wounded soldiery of an agrarian war declared for treasonable and felonious ends. Lastly they bring the accused in direct contact with the dynamite anarchists in the Far West, who have made attempts to destroy our cities; they have proved that the accused were paid by these men, and would have been powerless but for their aid ; and while they acquit the accused of the minor charge of insincerity in denouncing crime, they plainly intimate that Mr. Parnell's conduct was insincere in the highest degree, and they have often disregarded his evidence on oath. Such a dishonouring verdict has never been pronounced before on any body of men engaged in politics; and the miserable efforts that have been made to distinguish between personal and political acts, and between direct and indirect guilt, may be brushed aside as not worth comment. This Judgment, too, it will be borne in mind, has been delivered in the case only of those who dared to face British Justice ; many incriminated persons made default, and these, no doubt, were the most culpable; and the Judgment was given, on limited charges, with most important matter of proof withheld, and by Judges bound by the strict rules of evidence, in what practically was a criminal trial. History will be searched in vain for a like example of guilt brought

home to a set of public men; and the country owes a real debt to The Times for dragging to the light such a dark conspiracy, and bringing it to the test of Judicial Enquiry. Justice has not been done to this great journal, on account of the unhappy mistake about the forged letters; but it has nobly fulfilled a public duty of paramount importance to England and the State. The fair way to try what it has achieved is this : strike out the third charge, in itself a small one, but extravagantly magnified to conceal truth, and ask, would “Parnellism,” to this hour, have been proved to have been connected with "Crime" - as it has been proved by a conclusive Judgment—but for the exertions and the patriotic spirit of The Times ?

A word on a plea that has been urged to lessen the effect of this overwhelming judgment, “ It were infinite to con“ sider the cause of causes, and their impulsion one on the “ other;" and the Commissioners, following the rules of law, have, on a question of the proof of crime, declined to wander into the maze of History. When, however, Mr. Gladstone and his friends pretend that this weakens the significance of the Report, nay, reduces it to a mere caput mortuum, we “thank them for a word” of peculiar silliness. Historical Enquiry would add tenfold weight to its gravity and its damning sentence. When Parnellism invaded Ireland like a plague, the country, despite of passing distress, was prosperous and con“ tented," in Mr. Gladstone's language ; the peasantry enjoyed his favourite Land Law, “the most liberal,” he has declared, of “any in Europe;" under the “blackguardism” of the Union, Ireland had made more progress comparatively than either England or Scotland ; and domestic agitation had for years been dead. All this strengthens the evidence that this wicked movement was, and has always been, a foreign conspiracy, led, subsidised, and backed by foreign agents; and, if we consider the subject from

another point of view, the lessons taught by History are even more striking. For three hundred years Ireland has contained a rebellious faction more or less powerful ; it has always acted on aid from abroad ; it has invariably pursued the same methods and roused an agrarian war for its evil purposes. It looked to Richelieu in 1641, and massacred the colony of English birth ; it looked to Louis XIV. in 1688, and proscribed and ruined the loyal settlers; it looked to the French Directory in 1798, and marked out the Irish gentry for revenge ; it now looks to the Clan-na-Gael, in America, and plots against “ the English garrison" in the land. Except in two instances, leading men in England have defied and held down this bad conspiracy ; but Charles I. flattered it to save his crown ; James II. countenanced it to regain his throne ; Mr. Gladstone has made it his ally and master to win back office, which the voice of the electors took from him. History warns Englishmen to have nothing to do with these enemies of their race and faith ; it tells us, too, that for trading with Irish treason Charles I. was brought to the block at Whitehall, and James II. became an exile ; and it may yet record that, for like conduct, a versatile statesman will have forfeited fame. Are our countrymen prepared to hand over all that is loyal, civilised, and of their own blood in Ireland to apostles of “ rapine and dismemberment," and to preachers of the gospel of boycotting ? Are they willing to see Ireland made a base of operations for their worst enemies in the event of war, to have her ports turned into havens for privateers let loose to prey on their world-wide commerce, and to dissolve the Empire on the demand of traitors ? History, we believe, will give no uncertain answer; a party of wreckers will not succeed in luring the vessel of the State to the rocks by holding up false lights to deluded ignorance.


« PreviousContinue »