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ignore, have been prominent agents of both Societies. But the Land League, and its alias, the National League, were the creations of men whose avowed purpose was violently to subvert our rule in Ireland; the paramount object of both was, " to sweep away the British connexion,” and the “ destruction of landlordism” was but a means to the end ; and it follows from this that each League was a treasonable conspiracy in its essential nature. Should it be urged, however, that this would be a straining of the theory of constructive crime, let us see whether we cannot gather from the lips of leaders of both Confederate Bodies plain evidence of a conspiracy to rebel against the State. I can select only two or three samples. But what meaning is to be attached to Mr. Biggar's words that, in certain events, “ Ireland would produce another Hartmann”; to Mr. Parnell's clearly proved utterance that he had received "5 dollars for bread and 20 for lead”; to the candour of Mr. P. J. Sheridan, who "would ask the people to ring out their voices from the muzzles of Minié rifles"; to the speech of Mr. Dillon, in the affair of the Juno, expressing strong sympathy with a Fenian raid ; and to the language of Mr. Parnell's delegates at the Chicago Convention ? It would be harsh, perhaps, to infer the treason of Parnellism from the infamous teaching of Patrick Ford and the Clan-na-Gael—incitement to rebellion of the most frightful kind-though Patrick Ford and the Clan-na-Gael have done yeoman service in the common cause; but what conclusions can we help drawing from articles in The Irishman, and in United Ireland, organs of the Land and the National Leagues, which have repeatedly declared that, were there a chance of success, an armed Irish rising would be a sacred duty ? If the Commissioners, therefore, had had before them a charge of a conspiracy to destroy British power in Ireland, they would have had evidence for a finding of treascn
against most of the Parnellite leaders; and there can be little doubt what, on such an issue, would have been the verdict of a Jury, in the great days of Chief Justice Campbell and Chief Justice Cockburn. The “ Irish Party" too, we must not forget, might have been accused of another crime, of a treasonable complexion, though not high treason. It is treason-felony to attempt by violence to bring about a change of Government, or to overawe Parliament, and to try to effect this purpose by any overt act, including "printing, writing, or open and advised “ speaking ;” and really, when we recollect what has been the conduct of many of the Parnellites, during the last ten years, we cannot see how they could have escaped, had a charge of this kind been made against them.
I have dwelt, for a moment, on this topic, for though treason, in the sight of many, is political excitement, which excuses crime, and is not criminal in any true sense, the subject affects our most vital interests. Mr. Gladstone and his followers have committed themselves to a policy of Home Rule for Ireland; what that policy is they have refused to explain, except that it means an Irish Parliament, and an Irish Executive dependent on it. That this would make Parnellism supreme in Ireland, is an indisputable, nay, an admitted fact, and the Parnellites have been stumping the country proclaiming the “Union of Hearts,' and loud in their assertions that they are loyal subjects, and promising that Ireland is to be our firmest friend, should Parliament accept this plausible compromise. But these are the men some of whom the Report finds to have sought to make Ireland an independent State, and many of whom might have been involved in charges of conspiring to destroy our Government in Ireland by insurrectionary force; these are the men who are the paid allies of Patrick Ford, and of the Clan-na-Gael, a League of Anarchists, who openly avow that they look to Home
Rule “to establish the plant ” of Revolution in Ireland. And, in view of these facts, I ask Englishmen if Home Rule is not an insane policy; if the slightest credence is to be given to Parnellite talk of conciliation and peace; if the hideous features of treason and crime are not to be seen behind the Parnellite mask; if Mr. Gladstone did not speak truly when he said that “dismemberment" was the main object of the Land League movement; if Sir George Trevelyan did not correctly state that “there was no halfway house between Separation and Home Rule ? "
I proceed to consider the other counts in the indictment of The Times, examined in the Report. The second charge is that “one of the immediate objects of the conspiracy,” i.e., of the Land and National Leagues," was, by a system “ of coercion and intimidation, to promote an agrarian “ agitation against the payment of agricultural rents, for " the purpose of impoverishing and expelling from the
country the Irish landlords who were styled the English "garrison ;” and of this 43 of the Parnellite Members, and Mr. Michael Davitt, have been found guilty. Such have been the effects of lying clamour and factious cries for a purely selfish purpose, that Irish landlords have of late years been generally denounced as a kind of wolves, to be hunted down without law or pity; and in the opinion, doubtless, of many simple people, the finding of the Commission, so far from being a discrediting sentence, is a mark of honour. True it is that Irish landlords have, through troubled centuries, been the mainstay of English rule in Ireland; that they have given the State more than a due proportion of eminent, nay, of illustrious names; that, when it suited his purpose, they have been singled out by Mr. Gladstone for special praise; that, whatever may be said, they are not “rack-renters, exterminators," or anything of the kind; and that, as a body, they have stood the test of Parnellite obloquy, and have
emerged unscathed. But the accidents of their position have made them a class, divorced from their dependents in three-fourths of Ireland; they have dared, moreover, to cross Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Parnell in their Home Rule Alliance; and, therefore, it is a patriotic virtue to drive them from their homes, and to compass their ruin. Yet thinking persons will perhaps recollect that the destruction, in Ireland, of the English garrison, was incident in a great scheme of treason; and that a general onslaught on Irish landlords, is not only in itself a crime, but has shaken Property and Order througout these kingdoms. The Parnellite agitation has been a leading cause of the movement against Tithe and the Church in Wales, and of the disastrous strife between Labour and Capital, which has become an evil sign of the times.
Though only a part of the treasonable plot, the attack on Irish “landlordism," and the agrarian war that followed, became the chief features of the wide-spread conspiracy. Even those who declaim against Irish landlords, and desire to see the order effaced, will hesitate to admire the methods by which the two Leagues have endeavoured to attain their object.
The fifth and part of the second of the charges made by The Times are that the respondent M.P.'s, “ by their speeches and by payments made for that
purpose, incited persons to the commission of crime, " including murder ;” and that “the conspiracy sought to 'attain its ends by a system of coercion and intimidation." The Parnellite Members have been absolved from the guilt of directly inciting to murder, as regards this branch of the fifth charge ; but the Commissioners add that “the “ speeches made” . “had the effect of causing an "excitable peasantry to carry out the laws of the Land
League, even by assassination.” I must say a word on this pregnant finding, which has been described as a
complete acquittal of the Parnellite chiefs from the terrible charge of complicity with crime of a murderous nature. In the first place, the verdict applies to the Members affected, and to them alone; it has no reference to their partners in the Leagues, and other conspicuous worthies of the kind, who left the country after the deed in the Phoenix Park; and it should be added here—a most striking fact—that a great number of impeached persons did not dare to appear before the Judges, and, accordingly have escaped their
In the second place, the finding extends to the question only of legal guilt ; it merely amounts to this, that a single section of the Parnellite leaders were not guilty in the opinion of a regular Court of Law, bound down by the strict rules of evidence, of distinctly advising the crime of murder; and, had it ended here, it would have left the question of moral guilt open for public enquiry. But, in the third place, the Report pronounces a significant judgment on this very question. The Commissioners have found that some of the persons charged used, on several occasions, "most dangerous language;" and, indeed, when we recollect how Mr. M. Harris, in the presence, it has been alleged, of Mr. Parnell, declared that “if the tenant-farmers “ shot down landlords as partridges are shot he would
never say a word against them;" how Mr. Parnell himself, addressing a mob, in view of the corpse, so to speak, of a murdered man, only described the deed as “an
unnecessary procedure, where there was a suitable organisation,” as a kind of alternative; and how Mr. Biggar, on another occasion, confined himself to “not recommending "the shooting of landlords,” because it was “an extreme measure,
and undesirable in the interests of the "cause;" there can be no second opinion on this matter. But this “ dangerous language, and language tenfold worse, used by other prominent agents of the Leagues, was employed to promulgate, and, if necessary, to enforce