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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 22 Aug 2012 - 22:03

Second Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, October 23, 1888





The comparative smallness of the attendance in the Court, today, showed the lack of public interest in the merely historical portions of the Attorney-General's speech. Before Sir Richard Webster resumed, a little interest was aroused by Mr. Biggar's sudden appearance in the character of an accused person undertaking his own defence. Yesterday Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., announced himself as counsel for all the members of the Irish Party, excepting the few for whom special counsel were reserved. Correcting himself today, Mr. Lockwood explained that Mr. Biggar would argue his own case, whereupon Mr. Biggar, sitting on the bench immediately in front of that occupied by leading counsel, asked for, and received, assurance of every facility in the conduct of his self-imposed task. After this, the Attorney-General formally resumed his speech, beginning with County Kerry and the speeches delivered there in 1880 by Mr. Parnell and other members of the League. The Attorney-General declared that the history of Kerry in 1880 would prove what he had attempted to prove yesterday in the case of Galway, that these speeches were regularly followed by acts of violence.
Yesterday Mr. Matt Harris was the hero of Sir Richard's speeches. Today, it was Mr. T.M. Harrington, as far as Kerry was concerned. He quoted speeches in which land-grabbers were described as "dead" in Kerry, and as men to be shunned like men afflicted with small-pox. And then the Attorney-General dropped his voice, and in his most solemn manner appealed to the Bench as follows: -
"Were not all these speeches an incentive to violence? I say it is impossible to exaggerate the wickedness of such speeches." At this point a prominent Leaguer is heard whispering that Sir Richard's account of these matters is incomplete, and that the Irish Members' counsel would produce equally copious proofs to show that the chairmen of Land League branches invariably denounced these violent speeches at the time. I hear that Sir Charles Russell and his assistants will produce full records of the State trials at Dublin in 1880, at which all these extracts were read, and at which the full contexts were also given. So that there is some chance of the production of heaps upon heaps of newspaper files. Just at this moment a hundredweight or two of files of the Times are dragged into one of the offices adjoining the Court, in a sort of vehicle like an ambulance, with two bearers before and two behind.
Having finished his list of agrarian speeches in Kerry, Sir Richard Webster proceeded to county Mayo, and to the Land League propagandism there by Messrs. Davitt, Parnell, Biggar, Nally, Boyton, and others. "You will observe," said the Attorney-General, in effect, "that this progress through the counties of Western and South-western Ireland implies a regularly settled plan and organisation, for the purpose of intimidating landlords, and all tenants who dared to exercise their individual liberty of occupying farms from which others had been evicted." In Sir R. Webster's description of the state of County Mayo nearly nine years ago the agitator Nally was constantly turning up. Nally, if not much of an orator, was a man of strong speech. On one occasion, said the Attorney-General, this man Nally, speaking in Mayo on a certain day, declared that more good work had been done there that week than all the orations had accomplished. At this point, again, the Attorney-General assumed his most solemn manner when he explained that that same week a man had been shot at in the district. "Pills," exclaimed one of Mr. Nally's hearers. The Attorney-General suggested the usual moral that these speeches by men in the service or membership of the League were intended to be followed by outrage and crime. And once more, the same prominent Leaguer to whom I have already referred was overheard whispering in his corner near Mr. Lockwood, Q.C., "this man Nally we were constantly snubbing and condemning for his violent, foolish harangues; Charles Russell will give you the other side of the story."
Nally having disappeared for awhile from the scene, Matt Harris reappears for a moment - the same Matt Harris, legendary or real, for whom there was some attraction in a day's sport, with a gun, among the landlords. On this occasion Matt is said to have declared that Irish liberty was to be won not by talking but by fighting. All this time, as Sir Richard plods through his endless strings of nine-year-old extracts, there is a subdued buzz in Court. The three Judges are, of course, all attention. Justice Smith is patiently, doggedly, scribbling notes. But most of the other occupants of Probate Court No. 1 looked considerably bored. They refuse even to be interested when the Attorney-General describes how some heated Irish orator in 1881, advised his countrymen to avoid the traitors known as landgrabbers "like the very devil"; how he compared the grabber to "Judas," and hinted more broadly than delicately that "hot-shot" was the right sort of medicine for him. The buzz in Court growing louder, the usher frowns and calls out, just over his breath, "Hush!" Twice or thrice in the course of his enumeration of boycottings and murders following Land League speeches, the Attorney-General paused to enforce his historical doctrine that such crimes were a new phenomenon at that period - that, in fact, it was the League that first ushered them in, and that the League was responsible for them. Mr. Justice Day yawns, then shrugs his shoulders, and looks as if he would like to lean back and stretch out his arms. Mr. Justice Smith drops his pen, and subsides apparently into a brown study. In the Judges' Gallery there is only one occupant - a lady. She must possess considerable powers of endurance. And the buzzing (as likewise the nudging and whispering among the juniors) have begun again. I suspect certain among the juniors are drawing funny sketches on their blotting-paper. But most present look up, expectant, for a moment when, after another of his pauses, the Attorney-General propounds the following question, "What has the land-grabber done that makes him worthy to be shot?" "Is the land-grabber," he continued, "a robber; or only the victim of a horrible, tyrannical scheme?" The reader can anticipate the Attorney-General's answer. The whole case of the Attorney-General, at this stage, at any rate, of the investigation, rests upon his proposition that the intimidation caused by the perpetration of crime was necessary to the attainment and preservation of power by the League.
The Court became a little more full, and the assemblage a little more interested, when the Attorney-General came to narrate the story of the "No-rent Manifesto" of 1881, which declared that it was impossible "to evict a whole nation." This "No-rent Manifesto," said the Attorney-General, became the text of all future Land League speeches. "I shall show," he said, "how the local branches acted under the instruction of the central office in Dublin; and how the cheque-books and other incriminatory documents of this central office have disappeared." At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.

The Court resuming after half-an-hour's interval, Sir Richard Webster stated that the Land League books were removed from Dublin in October, 1881, and that an ex-clerk of the Land League central office in Dublin, would be put in the witness-box to give evidence in regard to the missing documents. "We shall produce documents," said the Attorney-General, "to show that the Central League in Dublin was paying for" outrages - "Yes, for outrages," he exclaimed, with an emphatic nod of his head. But the interest gradually flagged again as Sir Richard took up the thread of his historical illustrations - one of which was the declaration of a League orator that two thousand evictions were a more lamentable thing than the murder of four landlords to show how, as he declared in the morning sitting the "No-rent Manifesto" became the text of future Nationalist speeches. The Attorney-General quoted, among a string of other examples, a meeting at Cork, at which Mr. Parnell, Mr. Healy, Mr. Redpath, Mr. Shea, and Mr. T.P. O'Connor, appeared. On that occasion, he said, quoting speeches, non-payment was recommended. The Attorney-General next enumerated the Cork outrages of 1880 and 1881 - outrages, so he declared, upon men who had paid their rents in spite of the No-rent Manifesto of the League, outrages consisting of maiming of the person and sometimes resulting in death. Sir Richard Webster next moved off to County Clare, the speechifying history of which he treated in the same way as in the case of Galway and Mayo, and Kerry and Cork. He quoted largely from a meeting held at Ennis in September, 1880, at which Messrs. Parnell, Sullivan, Healy, and other League leaders appeared. He quoted Mr. Parnell. "What," asked Mr. Parnell, "should go to a land-grabber?" "Shoot him!" exclaimed one of his Clare audience. "I shall show you a better than that," returned Mr. Parnell; "shun him like a leper," &c., &c. The natural results, according to the Attorney-General's argument, followed - murders, and attempts at murders, six of the former, and eighteen of the latter within a period of two years.
Shortly before the Court rose, Mr. Labouchere entered, and plunged into a whispered conversation with Mr. Lockwood. In the earlier part of the sitting there was at least one distinguished stranger in the gallery - the Mayor of Chicago, the same gentleman who filled the office at the time of the Chicago riots. Mr. Justice McCarthy also came in before the end of the sitting. Mr. Parnell was not present today. But Mr. Biggar was "all over the shop."

The business of the Commission was resumed this morning a few minutes after half-past ten.
The counsel for the Times are the Attorney-General (Sir Richard Webster), Sir Henry James, Q.C., Mr. W. Murphy, Q.C., and Mr. W. Graham, of the English Bar, with Mr. J. Atkinson, Q.C., and Mr. Ronan, of the Irish Bar. The counsel for the Irish Members are Sir Charles Russell, Q.C., Mr. Asquith, Mr. R.T. Reid, Q.C., Mr. F. Lockwood, Q.C., Mr. Lionel Hart, Mr. Arthur Russell, Mr. Arthur O'Connor, and Mr. Harrington.


The Attorney-General at once called the attention of the Commission to the application made by Sir Charles Russell yesterday with regard to the documents to which he said the Times had has privilege of access. He asked that that matter might be postponed till tomorrow morning, owing to the fact that his client was not served with the notice until yesterday afternoon, and had not had time to make the "discovery" asked for. With regard to the other application, as to particulars of "other persons," that could be taken now.
Sir Charles Russell, however, declined. He thought it would be as well to take the two together, but he urged that the notice was served yesterday at twelve o'clock, pointing out how important it was that the particulars should be supplied immediately.
The Attorney-General declared that the notice was not served until yesterday afternoon, that his client was then in Court, and busy with him, and could not attend to it.
These matters were accordingly postponed by agreement.


Mr. Lockwood here explained that though he yesterday said he appeared for "other Members of Parliament" he did not appear for Mr. Biggar.
Mr. Biggar, M.P., intimated that he appeared personally, and asked that he might be supplied with copies of speeches attributed to him, upon which the Times relied. He said he was not a person of sufficient importance to have his speeches fully reported in the Irish newspapers, and did not know what he had to meet.
It was stated that the request would be complied with.


Sir Charles Russell asked that marginal notes might be inserted in the report of the proceedings, showing that the notes of the speeches quoted by the Attorney-General were taken by Government officials, which, he understood, was the case.
The President thought they could deal with it tomorrow morning.
The Attorney-General, however, explained that the notes of the speeches were obtained by his clients from witnesses in the usual way. He denied that they were taken by Government officials. His friend was entirely mistaken when he thought they were.
Sir Charles Russell pressed the point that they were taken by Government officials, whereupon the Attorney-General retorted, "My learned friend is in the wrong, and I will not again correct him."
The President elicited from the Attorney-General that he had no objection to the marginal notes being inserted, and the matter dropped.


The Attorney-General then resumed his speech. He said he had now to refer to a no-rent manifesto, purporting to have been issued from Kilmainham at the time some the Irish Members were there. This no-rent manifesto was signed by Parnell, Kettle, Davitt, Brennan, Dillon, Sexton, and Patrick Egan. Mr. Davitt's signature was not affixed to it by Mr. Davitt himself, for he was at that time confined in Portland Prison. As far as the evidence, he (the learned counsel) could put before the Court that signature of Mr. Davitt's was affixed by some one of the persons in Kilmainham Jail. Whether Mr. Davitt ever authorised it or not was a matter of some importance, which would be referred to later on. He (the Attorney-General) was anxious to allude to this no-rent manifesto, in order that their Lordships might see themselves that the policy of preventing rent being paid, and of punishing tenants who did pay, was undoubtedly continued during the time Mr. Parnell was in prison from October, 1881, to May, 1882, with a small interval between. With reference to the indictment of a number of gentlemen - not Mr. Parnell alone, but a number whose names would afterwards be referred to - Mr. Biggar, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Matt Harris, and others - he would show their Lordships, as he said yesterday, long before and after this time these gentlemen had been in Kilmainham, a series of speeches was made, of many of which notes were taken and kept, and many of which he (the Attorney-General) had no note. He would refer to


The first speech made at Beaufort was on the 18th of May, 1880, by Mr. Parnell himself; and it would be found that in many counties Mr. Parnell made an opening speech - if he (the learned counsel) might call it such - at which began the initiation of the Land League work. These speeches were followed by others delivered by speakers, many of whom were directly paid by the Central Association or organisation at Dublin, by persons who were afterwards rewarded by being nominated for certain constituencies. Their Lordships would be able to appreciate the working of this organisation under such circumstances. (A laugh.) The learned counsel then read extracts from Mr. Parnell's speech, in which the speaker remarked to his Irish hearers that the day was dawning when the first step would be taken to do away with British rule.
Sir Charles Russell called attention to the fact that these were merely extracts - sentences picked out.
The Attorney-General - If the report is inaccurate, my learned friend will have the advantage of it. On the 10th October (continued the learned counsel) Mr. A. O'Connor and Mr. Biggar spoke, deprecating the commission of acts of violence because their enemies made use of such acts, and public opinion in Ireland was affected by them. Mr. O'Connor,


told them "to provide for their own maintenance and then their shop debts, and when that was done they might think of the landlord." Mr. Biggar said, "They would take care that none of their neighbours gave more than the valuation in the shape of rents. They would take care that if any one was base enough to take a farm from which a tenant had been evicted, they would take care that public opinion would be brought against him. If any man was put on trial for shooting a landlord it was the duty of the Land League to see that he got a fair trial." At Brosna, on Oct. 21.


spoke, and proposed a resolution pledging the people "never to take an evicted farm or to hold intercourse with such persons. A man named John O'Connor had taken an evicted farm, and endeavoured to dare public opinion for three or four months, but the jeers and scorns with which he was met obliged him to surrender them to his landlord." This case, said the Attorney-General, was a case in which the tenant's crop of flax had been thrown into the river; he had been boycotted, and his house had been maliciously set on fire, and then he had surrendered his land. This was undoubtedly an instance in which the steps taken by those who were opposed to this man gaining his livelihood had been sufficient to make him surrender his land, as he had not the courage, or did not dare to resist, the objects of the Land League.


The learned counsel next referred to a speech delivered on the 27th Feb., 1881, at Barrowduff, by Mr. Boyton, and said he should prove that Boyton was known to Mr. Parnell as being one of the principal organisers in Leinster; and when at a later date it was considered desirable for Mr. Parnell to express his willingness to suppress outrages, Boyton was the man whom Mr. Parnell would use to suppress outrages. On the same platform were Mr. T. Harrington and Father O'Leary (Catholic curate). Boyton said, "The time for speeches was almost past. I believe the landgrabbers are dead in Kerry; if not, it is high time for you to look after them. The day must cease in Ireland when rent will be paid. From this it will be our duty to put an end to the land-grabbers in your midst. You are entitled to fix what is fair rent. If that be refused, keep the rent." It was impossible to exaggerate the wickedness of these speeches, and yet, he repeated, without the outrages they caused the Land League could not have existed. It was the intimidation, and the murder that stood behind the intimidation that gave the League its force.


He then referred to speeches delivered at Castle-island on the 4th March, 1884, by Messrs. Boyton and Harrington. The former, said the Attorney-General, declared that there would soon be an end of landlords of a certain class. He also stated that he did not believe in murdering a man in the night, but rather in the daytime, boldly and fearlessly, and told the audience that if a policeman entered their house they were to murder him. These outrages (the learned counsel emphasised) were unknown until 1880. There was no doubt that in connection with agrarian agitation in Ireland there had been very serious outrages prior to the time, but, so far as contemporary history was concerned the system received not only a fresh start, but completely a fresh form of existence with the foundation of the Land League. In short, as the Land League flourished so did crime; and as it was suppressed so were outrages lessened.


The next speech read was that of a parish priest who, referring to local landlords, informed the audience that "there were more ways than one of killing a dog without choking him with butter." Another priest spoke at the same meeting, observing that he was there to brand Mr. Hartlett, the local landlord, and Mr. Arthur Herbert, his agent, as disturbers and destroyers of the peace of the community, and warning the latter that "if he came into the district they would not injure a hair of his head." "It did not," observed the Attorney-General, "require the mystic Irish words, thiggin dhu, to explain the meaning of that." At another meeting a priest urged the people to "cut" the land-grabber in every way, to ostracise him, to shun him, adding that when public opinion was thus brought to bear upon him he would rot under it. "We will give England her deserts," said a speaker at another meeting, "and as soon as we have given her her deserts, you can drink the health of Davitt."


Then the learned counsel referred to moonlighting in connection with the Land League, and asserted that, as far as he could get any information on the subject, in every case the Moonlighters, or alleged Moonlighters, were Land Leaguers; and it was a not unimportant fact that those men charged were defended with Land League money. He mentioned this, not in any way for the purpose of further connecting the Land League with these outrages - because there would be abundant proof of that - but to show for what purpose the money was subscribed. The persons who committed these offences he had described knew that they would be defended by the Land League money. The Attorney-General next referred to a series of outrages committed on Thomas Talbot ("whose only offence," said the learned counsel, "was that he was a caretaker of a farm"), Jeremiah Sullivan, and others, whose houses were visited and shots fired into their windows. Jeremiah Sullivan was a tenant who paid his rent; he, too, continued the Attorney-General, had done nothing else, so far as I know, to deserve the vengeance of the Land League. But his house was visited, and shots were fired into his windows while he and his wife lay in bed. In addition to this a notice was posted on his door, threatening him with death, and saying that it was only on account of the large family dependent on him that he was not shot. The notice was signed, "Rory of the Hills, the Moonlight Ranger"; while by the side of a drawing of a coffin were the words, "And God rest his soul!"


Proceeding to still further describe the nature of the outrages, the learned counsel mentioned the case of Michael M'Cunliffe, whose house was attacked by an armed party on the 29th of June, 1881, when both himself, his brother, and his sister were wounded with gunshot. He had served some eviction notices upon tenants who were under Mr. Herbert's agent. On the 6th September, 1881, (continued the Attorney-General), William Cottis, of Knotbush, found a notice posted on his door to the effect that unless he apologised to the Land League for having paid his rent he would be boycotted. His house was subsequently fired into. On the 12th November, 1881, another tenant, against whom it was alleged that he had paid his rent, was fired at and wounded. On the 7th December, 1881, Michael Flynn, of Cordel, had his house entered by an armed party for having paid his rent; was fired at and so badly wounded that his leg had to be cut off. These outrages (observed the learned counsel) were occurring in Kerry daily, and one could not help noticing that there was not one single speech or attempt made by this "great Constitutional party" to restrain the Land League.


The Land League started under the name of Mr. Parnell; Mr. Biggar and Mr. Brennan being officers, and Egan the treasurer. Throughout the length and breadth of Ireland the doings of the Land League had been printed and circulated, and, rightly or wrongly, these outrages were connected with the very men who were connected with the organisation. How was it that - if they were not taking advantage of this organisation, this conspiracy - not even a circular was sent out to warn these people of the iniquity - to tell them that some persons other than Land Leaguers were committing these outrages? There was not one single step taken during the whole of these dreadful years of 1881-82 by Mr. Parnell and his followers to put an end to all this. One would rather have thought that such things as these would have provoked the pity of the constitutional agitators who were concerned with the Land League. Nothing of the kind, however, was issued.


During his attention to county Mayo, the Attorney-General prefaced his remarks with regard to this portion of his speech by explaining who the speakers and organisers of the Land League were at this time. Galway, he said, was visited by Matt Harris, P.J. Gordon, and Kelly. They made a succession of speeches at various places. In Kerry, Boyton, at times, the Harringtons and other people, carried on the agitation. Mr. Biggar made a few speeches; but not so many as the others. There was an organiser to work every county and district in Ireland, in order that the power of the League should be felt universally throughout the length and breadth of the land.


The first meeting the learned counsel referred to as having been held in Mayo, was one that took place at Irishtown, on the 2nd May, 1888. This was attended by Mr. Parnell and Mr. Davitt. Several speakers delivered themselves of sentiments similar to those mentioned above. In face of the fact that such speeches were delivered in the presence of the avowed leaders of the party, he (Sir Richard) did not know how anybody could contend that this was not a conspiracy. The organisation was really started by agents intended to do the work in various parts of Ireland. It was one that could not be carried out by the three, four, or five men who combined in the first instance. It was of such a nature that it must be done by agents. And it was for that reason, he asserted, that the charge that the leaders connived at and winked at the work that was being done, was correct. They did not do it directly, but the other men were doing it for them; and of that system they took the advantage, inasmuch as it was the mainstay and pole stay of their existence. Without this it would have been impossible for Mr. Parnell to have gained the sympathy from that large body who subsequently supported him.


Michael Boyton (said the Attorney-General) told the people at a meeting on the day following the Irishtown meeting that he represented Mr. Parnell that day, and warned his hearers to take care of their holdings. The Rev. Father Corbett, who also spoke, conjured the people to let the land lie waste rather than take it after persons had been evicted. J.W. Nally told those at the meeting that they could get a licence to shoot for 10s. "You can shoot the whole year round for that - jackdaws, magpies, and the "nuisance," was a sentence occurring in the speech, while a voice in the meeting called out, "Don't shoot the police." At Shrule P.J. Gordon said he noticed the absence of the parish priest, whose name was Goed. "And a _______ little goed he is" - (a laugh) - was also one of the expressions. On the 4th of July, 1880, at Bohola, J.W. Nally and Walsh spoke. Nally said, "There has been more work done this week than all the speeches could do, "Pills." Shortly before that speech an outrage was committed in the district - a man was shot. The men who were selected for speaking at the gatherings were not selected for their eloquence, but were chosen as persons specially suited to do the work of the Land League. At the very time that speech was made there was a man not far off to whom he (the learned counsel) had learned was lying dying from a shot wound. He had committed no offence beyond offending the Land League.


On the 11th of July, 1880, at a meeting in County Mayo, Gordon, J. Walsh and Father O'Mally were present. Gordon said, "The man who takes an evicted farm I will appoint him a greater assassin than the man who fires a pistol shot. They say we are promoting assassination, as if it is not enough to make an assassin of any man when he sees his family sent forth into the world." Walsh, at the same meeting, said, "I have seen landgrabbers, and they had the look of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ. I see you will find a lot of these pills I have been selling. Any man can have a rifle, and use it." Walsh after saying that the "light was spreading," proposed a resolution declaring that no man should take an evicted farm. Before the end of the case (added the learned counsel) their Lordships would have little doubt as to what was the effect upon the American branches of the way in which their agitations were conducted, and of the result of the outrages which were at any rate the consequence of these speeches.


With regard to the statement that the "light was spreading," it would be well to recall the fact there was what was called a "Spread the Light Fund." The expression, "Spread the light," was commonly used both by the speakers on this side and in American literature; and one of the ways in which the light was to be spread was by the circulation in Ireland of the Irish World - a paper which, in its articles, openly advocated dynamite, assassination, and all forms of acts of violence. Their Lordships would find some of the men whose names were implicated, actually applying to America for thousands of copies of the Irish World to be sent over; and Mr. Parnell himself thanked the Irish World for the good it had done to the Land League. More than that, they would find persons whom they were charging today in close communication with the American representatives of the Irish World - many of these men quoted in the Irish World as being advocates of the course of conduct which he had been denouncing. These men were only known as dynamiters, or advocates of dynamite, or as persons who were advocating in the American Press of the "light" to be spread in Ireland.


At a meeting held at Ballyhannis, on October 10th, 1880, Matt Harris and James Daly were the speakers. They declared that a local landlord "was not worth shooting as a landlord," but was shot because he fined a man 10s. at the Petty Sessions; while Matt Harris declared Ireland could not be won by talking but by fighting. "The iniquitous system of landlordism must be abolished for ever," exclaimed another speaker at a subsequent meeting, and the way in which this was to be accomplished was by shunning and boycotting anyone who took a farm that had become vacant. "I suggested on one occasion "pills," said Nally at another meeting; "but 'pills' have got too mild now, and are like sweets. I will suggest a stronger remedy - dynamite and gun-cotton. I will not advise you to shoot anyone, but you can do so if you like." At the same meeting the British Government was denounced as Ireland's worst enemy. At Roundfort, P.J. Gordon asserted that if the Irish people held out as the Boers had done, the British Government would soon give them what they asked. "Keep your own arms ready and your firearms safe," he added. The same person, told the people to "blow Burke to ______ some fine morning." That, said the Attorney-General, was Walter Burke, who was afterwards shot while in company with a soldier who was guarding him. When that direct incitement to murder was made, Father Corbett was on the platform.


From the end of 1880 to the beginning of 1882, there were in the county of Mayo five murders, fourteen cases of firing on people, eighteen of firing into houses, and a number of other outrages of a less serious character. But what, asked Sir Richard, had these "landgrabbers" done to deserve such treatment. Either they had in some way robbed some other man, who had decided to take vengeance on him, or they were the victims of some scheme planned for the purpose of preventing land being occupied. What he submitted was this - That because A and B had a dispute, that therefore C, who had nothing to do with it, should be treated as a leper, an outcast, vermin to be shot at, boycotted, and, if necessary, to be killed, if he took a piece of land to get a living for himself and family - to say that such a doctrine should be taught, promulgated, encouraged, was a most infamous and horrible form of tyranny. For persons to say it was "constitutional agitation" was a gross abuse of terms, and an outrage on language.


Speaking of the "No-rent Manifesto," the learned counsel said that Mr. Davitt did not at the time put his name to it, nor was he consulted about it. It was signed by some person for him in Kilmainham. It was read at a meeting of the Land League by Mr. H. Campbell, now an M.P. At the same time Mr. Campbell read a number of telegrams from the Irish World, one of them to the effect that Mr. Henry George had sailed on the 15th Oct, 1881, and would arrive in Dublin on the 25th. Now it would be proved by those who suffered that the offence was that rent had been paid contrary to the No-rent Manifesto. It was circulated through Ireland and made the text of the Land League speeches at League meetings, and particularly at meetings of the Ladies' Land League. Either Mr. Parnell or those who signed it knew what had been going on before, or they did not. He should ask their Lordships to come to that conclusion - it would be ridiculous to suggest that Mr. Parnell, Mr. Dillon, Mr. Biggar, Mr. Sexton, Mr. Egan, Mr. Brennan, and the others, who had been up to that time actively connected with the Land League, did not know what had been the effect of the Land League organisation. Reports were sent from the Land League branches week by week and month by month to the head office. He should further ask them, when they had heard the evidence, to come to the conclusion that many - nay, that all - of these men did know what had been the work of the Land League during the previous two years. If they did not know that, the manifesto was meaningless, in at least that portion which referred to the magnificent organisation which had nearly brought landlordism to its knees. From 1879 to 1881 the National Land League was doing exactly the work it was constituted to perform.


Their Lordships would hear some remarkable evidence regarding the disappearance of Land League papers and books. If there was any evidence at all in favour of the Land League work, he would put it before them, because he was there for the purpose of giving every opportunity of investigating these charges, and the allegations which the Times made were that the object and intention of this organisation was to destroy the relation between landlord and tenant, and was to sweep away the English garrison of landlords. The Attorney-General next read a printed bill which had been posted side by side with the No-rent Manifesto, and bearing the names of Mr. Parnell, Mr. Biggar, Patrick Ford, and others denouncing the Land Act as a sham measure, and advocating the non-payment of rent.
The Commission at this point adjourned for luncheon.


Resuming his speech, after the adjournment, the Attorney-General said he must again refer to the No-rent Manifesto, and said he should be able to prove two telegrams immediately preceding the issue of that document from Kilmainham. One was from Ford to Egan: - "Communicate with Parnell if possible. Consult your colleagues and issue manifesto." Then there was the reply from Egan to Ford" - "Your suggestion approved. Prompt measures now in progress to obtain general strike. The manifesto to be issued without delay." He (the Attorney-General) would just allude to the large amount of money subscribed to the Land League, and the small amount accounted for.


He next read the following letter from Mr. H. Campbell to Dr. Kenny: - "Dear Sir, - Yours received. Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Sheridan will proceed to London, today. I will go to Liverpool and bring the books from there to Palace Chambers, and I shall also instruct the men at Liverpool to return to Dublin as you request. Mr. O'Connor wishes you to send him a cheque for 30 pounds on his bankers, Messrs. Ridgway, 2, Waterloo-place. This is to enable us to pay as we go. - Yours truly, H. CAMPBELL." That document was put in evidence at the trial of "O'Donnell v. Walter," said the Attorney-General. It had been received in due course at the Land League offices, and was initialled as having been attended to by "W.F.M." (probably Maloney), and was undoubtedly a record of the date of the League books being sent from Dublin to London. At the time there was a fear in Ireland of a raid being made, and of the documents being discovered. Assuming the documents to be innocent, and to relate to bona fide "constitutional organisation," one could not understand why the Land Leaguers feared discovery.


Where were they now? These letters which had been referred to were produced to the solicitors of the Times by a League clerk, who would be called to give evidence in regard to that letter and to other matters. But there were other documents which would be produced, and the handwriting in many cases would be proved of papers relating to the part of the work done by the League on two occasions shortly before the offices were removed to London. These documents would be very material, not only for their contents, but for the purpose of showing the system which was being carried on, and the connection between the branches of the National League and the Central Office. He (the learned counsel) only trusted it might be possible to get at the corresponding documents for the earlier month, if they had not been destroyed. The documents already in their possession undoubtedly proved the work done by the League branches - the payment of person who refused to work for boycotted people, the payment of those who were carrying out the decrees of the League, and thereby losing their employment, and, what was much more important, payment for outrages. One John Ferguson, of Glasgow, would be proved to have been a high official in the League.


On the 20th of September, 1881, just a month before the documents were removed, Timothy Horan called at the National League Office, Castleisland. He wrote to J.B. Quinn, also a Land League official. Timothy Horan was the local secretary of the Castleisland branch. He thus wrote: -
"Sir, - I beg to draw your attention to a private matter which I attempted to explain to you when I was in Dublin at the Convention. The fact is that one of the men from a shop lost the use of his eye. It cost him 4 pounds to go to Cork to get medical attendance. Another man received a wound in the thigh, and was laid up for a month. No one knew the patient but the doctor, myself, and members of the Society. I may inform you that the said parties cannot afford to suffer. If it were a public affair a subscription list would be opened at once for them, as they proved to be heroes. One man who escaped being shot has got his jaw grazed. Hoping you will see your way to give a grant, which you can send here or through the Catholic clergyman. - Yours truly, TIMOTHY HORAN."


That letter, said the Attorney-General, was initialled "J.F." It was purely accidental that these documents were found; purely accidental that they were left with a Land League official. The facts would be proved beyond all question, and it would be for their Lordships to draw their own inference as to the connection between the Central Land League and the branches. He (the learned counsel) believed that he should be able to connect an outrage with the statements made in the letter he had read.


Adverting to the opposition the League had met with in various parts, the Attorney-General said there were people in Cork who had courageously fought the organisation all along the line, and it would not be unimportant to notice how those persons, who were bold enough to fight the battle of law and order as against the League, were treated. He mentioned the case of a Cork man, who, he said, had on every possible occasion stood up and denounced the League. He had been fired at three or four times, and so had, amongst others, several women who had courageously done all they could to oppose the tyranny of the League. He mentioned this because he contended, and he should contend, that for everyone who resisted the League - and they did so at their peril - there were a hundred who would give in, because they knew that these so-called constitutional leaders were well informed, and knew they could practically hold the population in complete subjection.


The Attorney-General then directed his attention to speeches delivered in county Cork. "If any ruffianly, damnable creature be found in the ranks of landgrabbers," observed one speaker, "we must not speak to him. We must not sit with him in church, we must pass him by as a mad dog." At another meeting a Mr. Thomas Fuller compared landlords to wolves, for whose heads rewards are given; and Miss Parnell advised the people to keep the proceeds of their harvest to fight the British Government. At a demonstration in Cork, attended by Mr. Parnell, Mr. T.M. Healy, referring to a banner in the hall, advised the audience to "pay no rent - but, see what the rent is going to be." In the county of Cork there were a long series of speeches in 1885.


He (the learned counsel) should, at a later period, point out that in 1885-86, right down to the publication of these articles ("Parnelllism and Crime") the speeches were being made under the auspices of the organisers and members of the National League, which was the direct successor, under the same organisers as the Land League, with the same objects and the same money to promote the same outrages, the same results following. So far as he knew, no leading representative of the Parnellite Party had ever suggested that there was any difference whatever between the Land League and the National League; they had openly admitted it was the same organisation, controlled by the same money by the same officers, and acting entirely on the same lines.


Now, as to the Cork outrages. On the 15th of July, 1880, Samuel Hutchins was returning home at a quarter to five, in a dog cart, driven by a man named Downey. He was shot at, and Downey, who sat behind him, was severely wounded. There was no doubt that in this case they meant to shoot Hutchins and not Downey; and it was certainly one of the cases subsequently referred to by Mr. Biggar as "shooting the wrong man." On the 2nd of June, 1881, a public meeting was held to denounce persons who paid rent or gave any information of any kind to the police. A tenant named Buckley paid his rent on the 22nd of June, 1881, and the day following six men broke into his house, beat him with furze bushes, and asked him if he had paid his rent. On saying he had, one of the men took out a pair of scissors from his pocket and cut off a part of his right ear, and took it away with him. On the 3rd of Oct., 1881, Patrick Leary was fired at, and was so severely wounded that he died, the only reason that could be assigned for the outrage being that he was thought to have been watching to see who were going to ask persons about paying their rent. If such a very small act was an offence against the Land League, certainly it showed that tyranny had reached a point beyond which it could not be surpassed.


Proceeding next to deal with the last of the counties - Clare - the Attorney-General said they would find in one of the principal speeches - that of Mr. Parnell - the text as to how to deal with land-grabbers. On the 19th of September, 1880, there was a meeting at Ennis, at which were present Mr. Parnell, Mr. Finnigan, Mr. Sullivan, and others. Mr. Parnell, referring to the question whether farmers should give evidence before the Land Commission, said his opinion was "that whatever harm they might do to the cause by going before the Commission, they would not do it any good." Speaking on the subject of landgrabbing, he said - "What are you to do to a tenant who bids for a farm from which his neighbour was evicted. (Cries and shouts of "Shoot him.") Now I think I heard cries of "Shoot him," but I think I know a better way, which will give the lost sinner a chance of repentance. You must shun him when you meet him in the streets of the town, in the fair or market-place or even in the house of worship itself; by leaving him severely alone, by putting him into a moral Coventry, by isolating him as if he were a leper of old, and if this doctrine is carried out there will be no man in Ireland who will dare to transgress the unwritten code of laws." Any steps (said the learned counsel) were to be taken which were necessary for the purpose of compelling a man to abandon that course of conduct which the majority of the people objected to.


Prior to September, 1880, Clare was in a normal condition, and comparatively free from crime. Very shortly afterwards the ordinary police had to be doubled from 327 to 600, and between January, 1881, and February, 1882, there were six murders and twelve attempts at assassination. From February, 1882, to November, 1883, there were six attempted assassinations. Here were three instances of the condition of the country: - First, they heard of a labourer being murdered. Then, on the 18th of November, Patrick Hallan, who had worked for a landlord named Enright, was fired at. On the 28th of the same month another man who worked for Enright was fired at. "He was not killed," explained the learned counsel, "but he lost his reason, and has ever since been an inmate of a lunatic asylum." These poor, unfortunate men, who had only tried to earn their living, were but labourers - one murdered, another injured, a third driven out of his mind. In 1882 a Mrs. Cormick, of the Ladies' Land League, travelled through a district in Clare, persuading the tenants not to pay their rents. Michael Maroney did pay his rent. He was afterwards fired at, and died as a result of his injury. One wondered how it could be made to appear that the Land League representatives were doing bona fide constitutional work. It would be his (the Attorney-General's) duty to prove that the Land League ent their aid to outrage as described in "Parnellism and Crime."


At this point, the Attorney-General proceeded to revert to the Kilmainham incidents. Their Lordships, he said, must not suppose that there was no communication with Mr. Parnell in that prison. It had been suggested that there was a difficulty in getting documents out of Kilmainham. As a matter of fact, there was not the slightest difficulty and, if it were seriously disputed, he (the Attorney-General) would prove that documents were freely passed out while Mr. Parnell was there.
The Commission shortly afterwards adjourned.


Mr. Chance, M.P., writes to correct the story of a Correspondent who, in mentioning that Mr. Hammond appeared for Mr. Chance at the Commission, added that the determination of Mr. Chance to separate himself from his colleagues has excited much comment. Mr. Chance says this determination exists only in the reporter's imagination. Mr. Hammond is his London agent, and there never was a time when a member of the party would have less reason to desire to separate himself.


A circular has been issued from the Central Offices of the Irish National League of Great Britain, calling a meeting of Nationalists and Liberals in the Metropolis for tomorrow night for the purpose of taking active steps to raise the necessary amount to defray the legal expenses of the Irish Party both before the Commission and in the English and Scotch Courts. A London Committee for the purpose of receiving subscriptions will be formed.


The Dublin Express says the Conservative Government is not in any sense upon its trial, whatever may be the verdict of the Judges or the effect of the evidence upon public opinion. The Commission was proposed as a compromise by a certain section of the Liberal Unionists upon the Government refusing to grant Mr. Parnell a Committee. Should Mr. Parnell rehabilitate his character, it will prove nothing as to the expediency of the Home Rule policy, which is bad, whatever we think of Mr. Parnell's character.


Mr. John Barry, M.P., and Mr. Biggar, M.P., were subpoenaed yesterday during the sitting of the Court on behalf of the Times.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday October 23, 1888, pp. 2-3

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