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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 28 Aug 2012 - 3:13

Fourth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, October 25, 1888






When the Commission resumed work at ten o'clock, today, Mr. Michael Davitt and Mr. Biggar were the only prominent "criminals" in attendance. Mr. Davitt, seated on the bench in front of Sir C. Russell, was busily writing notes with his only hand - the left - as dexterously as most experts can do with both. Mr. Davitt was just in time to hear the opening speeches of a long indictment, of which he himself was the hero. Sir Richard, it seems, had at first no intention of inditing this long chapter in his history. But, as he explained, Mr. Davitt's announcement, yesterday, that he meant to plead his own case, changed his (the Attorney-General's) plans somewhat. Sir Richard Webster began with making revelation of the origin of the Land League, which must have surprised and amused Mr. Davitt himself. At any rate, Mr. Davitt suddenly looked up from his notes, smiled, and glanced right and left as if in search of some colleague and countryman with whom to share his feelings. But none were there - not even Mr. Parnell, who is unpunctual in his attendance; and, as for Mr. Biggar, he sat in a quiet corner of his own. Mr. Davitt has all along regarded himself, and been described by others, as the "Father of the Land League." But here was the Attorney-General robbing him of the glory of paternity, and alleging, with all the solemn emphasis at his command, that the Land League was an importation from America, and the creation of American-Irish dynamitards. The Ladies' Gallery, which was full from the opening of the Court, concentrated its gaze on Mr. Davitt while the Attorney-General described the visit which the Arch Leaguer paid to America, soon after his release from Portland Prison, in order to secure - as the Attorney-General tried to prove - the active support of the Dynamitard Party in the Irish political "new departure."

Mr. Davitt, according to the Attorney-General's argument, was the link by which the American dynamitards and the "Constitutional" Party, headed by Mr. Parnell, were brought into touch. That was Sir Richard's main proposition, which he endeavoured to illustrate by the reading of extracts from letters and speeches. Mr. Parnell, the Attorney-General contended, was reluctant to form any such connection. "I can show," declared Sir Richard Webster, "that Mr. Parnell hesitated at the risk of being dragged into alliance with men who advocated the blowing up of London." During the Attorney-General's reading of letters showing the objects of Mr. Davitt's Land League, Mr. Davitt, at one moment, stood up to suggest that the full contents should be given; and on the point of partial extracts a short and lively discussion ensued between Sir Richard Webster and Sir Charles Russell. It ended with a reassurance on Sir Richard's part that he would supply, and gladly, the full texts of all such documents as he was quoting, so that his opponents might have an opportunity of referring to any passages omitted in his quotations.

Proceeding with his extracts from the letters and speeches of Mr. Davitt and others, Sir Richard quoted expressions to the effect that the principle of the Land League was the "complete destruction of Irish landlordism," the landlords being the "British garrison," which stood in the way of Irish independence. "You may call this land reform, of course," said the Attorney-General; "but then what of the means - such as shooting into the houses of tenants who paid their rents? Was that reform?" It must be carefully borne in mind that in the Attorney-General's view Mr. Parnell was a reluctant convert to the opinion of the Extreme Irish Party, whose inspiration was, according to the Attorney-General, Fenian and American. According to this view of Sir Richard Webster's, Mr. Parnell's conversion was by no means a slow, though a reluctant, process, and to show this Sir Richard Webster proceeded to quote extracts from the speeches which Mr. Parnell made during his American tour in the year 1880. One of these was the famous "Last Link" extract, the authenticity of part of which Mr. Parnell, it will be remembered, denied in the House of Commons.
It was very singular, continued Sir Richard, that the American suggestion of vitriol-throwing as a means of agrarian agitation was never known in Ireland until this tour of Mr. Parnell's in America. "That was how the 'Light was spread," said Sir Richard, the spreading of the light in Ireland being the distribution of the crime-inciting Irish World, with the managers of which Mr. Parnell was then in communication, and which was distributed among the Land League branches by the Land League organisation itself. The expressions used by some of the Attorney-General's "Light Spreaders" were pretty strong; one of these paragraphs in the Irish World suggesting how might the "light be spread" in a city like London, whose rich population was at the mercy of a quarter of a million of the criminal classes; while another paragraph made a like suggestion in reference to the alleged fact that there were half a million uncaught criminals in the country.
During most of the morning's sitting the Attorney-General succeeded in holding pretty fast the attention of his audience; but the interest rather subsided when he entered into the long details of the American movement subsequent to the mission of Mr. Davitt and Mr. Parnell. The story of the Chicago Convention, with its warnings against landgrabbing, contained nothing new. Nor was interest restored when, after the usual half-hour's interval, the Attorney-General resumed his speech at two o'clock. The everlasting repetition of the names of Egan, Sheridan, Ford, Brennan, and such-like notorious obscurities, and the endless reproductions from their very lurid oratory, had grown wearisome. Proceeding with his task of demonstrating the alliance between the Parnellites and the American-Irish advisers of murder and outrage, the Attorney-General quoted speeches which a man named Finerty and Frank Byrne, ex-secretary of the Irish Land League, delivered in New York and Chicago in 1883, the year in which Byrne escaped to America. From these speeches extracts were quoted to the effect that the men who uttered them were "not fastidious" as to the means that Ireland would employ to effect her own deliverance - the knife, dynamite, the rifle, or Parliamentary agitation - each method according to the circumstances of the time. "Now," said the Attorney-General, "there was regular relationship between Mr. Parnell and this man Finerty long after Mr. Parnell must have known the man's character - the same man, who in another speech, in September, 1883, declared that the Irish people had committed too few murders. Sir Richard Webster then sketched the history of the Philadelphia Convention, which established the Irish National League in America. The aim of this American reproduction of the Irish National League was (the Attorney-General said) not merely the abolition and extirpation of landlordism, but also the separation of Ireland from the United Kingdom; and with this Convention a number of the most active and leading Parnellite M.P.'s were directly associated.

The Attorney-General's historical retrospect now proceeded faster, and he passed rapidly over leading events in 1884-1885, up to the American Convention of the summer of 1886, at which Messrs. Redmond, Devoy, Brennan, Egan, Ford, Davitt, W. O'Brien, and others assisted. Among them, also, was the man Finerty, already named. "Now," said the Attorney-General, "though Mr. Davitt declared at that Convention that he did not consider the use of dynamite necessary, he found no fault whatever with the sentiments expressed there and then by Finerty." In the course of this portion of his speech, the Attorney-General pointed out how the Irish World - which the Irish National League leaders were disseminating throughout Ireland - reported approvingly, and collected funds for the celebration of the Phoenix Park dinners, and of "martyrs" who had perished on the scaffold for the commission of murder. He also quoted expressions from Mr. Davitt himself confessing that the Irish World had been his (Mr. Davitt's) guide and philosopher and friend ever since the Dartmoor days. At last the Attorney-General reached the final stage of his address, dealing with the question - Did the National League follow out the mission of the Land League? Did the Irish National League repent of the doings of the organisation out of which it had grown? That is to say, up to this point the Attorney-General had been mainly concerned with the Land League. He would now have to prove how the history of the National League, since its foundation in 1882, would prove that its leaders and members relied for the success of their policy on intimidation and crime, and that separation was its aim.

The Judges entered the Court this morning punctually at half-past ten o'clock. There was rather a larger attendance than yesterday at this hour, the Judges' and public galleries being conveniently full.
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. Mr. P.A. Chance is represented by Mr. Hammond, solicitor, and Mr. Biggar, M.P., and Mr. Michael Davitt, appear personally.


The Attorney-General resumed his speech. He said he approached at once that part of the case to which he referred last night when the Commission adjourned - that was the connection between the persons who are charged with being members of the American organisation or conspiracy. The appearance of Mr. Davitt before the Commission would necessitate his referring to some of the matters which, in all probability, it would not have been necessary for him to have brought forward had he not been now a party. There were now certain incidents in connection with him he should have to put forward in evidence. It should be remembered that the Times alleged that the Land League, which had for its president Mr. Parnell, was, in effect, originated in America; that it was a conspiracy which was hatched, plotted, and carried out with American money, and that among those who were members of the conspiracy in America were persons who had advocated assassination and the use of dynamite. It should be recalled, too, that crimes of the worst description were necessary incidents for the carrying on of the war; and it should not be forgotten that among the Members of Parliament and "other persons" engaged directly in promoting and disseminating in Ireland literature which incited to sedition, and the commission of crime, outrages, boycotting, and intimidation, were those mentioned in the charges.


Amongst the newspapers he wished to particularly refer to were the Irish World, the Chicago Citizen, the Boston Pilot, and United Ireland. It would be part of his duty to indicate what evidence he proposed to call with reference to that part of the case, and to prove that the schemes carried out by Mr. Parnell's friends in 1881 and 1882 were carried out by those he had already mentioned. He should show that from 1878 to 1886 there was the most intimate connection between these parties, who most actively co-operated in carrying out their nefarious plans. Among the persons he should show to have played an active part in the schemes were Egan, to whom he had already referred; Patrick Ford, the editor of the Irish World, and who, he would show, received thousands upon thousands of pounds for the Land League and National League in subscriptions from America; Brennan, to whom he had already referred; P.J. Sheridan, the same man he had mentioned as the Land League organiser, and who organised crimes of outrage and violence, and was connected with the Irish World; Breslin, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and who assisted the escape of Stephens from Richmond Jail; Father Sheehy; Condon, who was sentenced to death for the murder of Sergeant Brett at Manchester, but whose sentence was subsequently commuted, he going to America to be eventually associated with the most prominent men mentioned in the particulars; Jno. Finerty, who, he would show, was a prominent dynamitard; James Redpath; and O'Donovan Rossa.


He should first have to deal particularly with the case of Davitt. Their Lordships would find, on admissions made by Davitt himself, that the cooperation of Patrick Ford was secured before the formation of the Land League, together with the cooperation of the Boston Pilot. The aid of Patrick Ford and his newspaper, the Irish World, was secured by Mr. Davitt himself. Mr. Ford had been introduced to Mr. Davitt. Mr. Ford had remonstrated with Mr. Davitt for his halting or half-hearted policy. Well, he (the learned counsel) thought he would show that Mr. Davitt's policy went far enough, but it did not then go sufficiently far to satisfy Mr. Patrick Ford. Mr. Davitt made public statements from 1880 to 1884, when Patrick Ford was his counsellor, guide, and friend, and the incitements to outrage in the columns of the Irish World was a part of the scheme which Davitt succeeded in getting Ford to advocate in his paper. The Attorney-General then read a statement by Mr. Davitt, in which he asked the Nationalists of America to support the new programme, to enable him to preach the new gospel. Now, he (Sir R. Webster) must be pardoned for repeating from time to time references to which he and his learned friends attached great importance - that there had been the professed and distinct announcement of what was being done by Mr. Parnell and his followers at home, made with a view of attaining the same ends as were being advanced by the American section, and that it was impossible for the followers of Mr. Parnell to break with the extreme American party.


The American section were advocates of Communism, assassination; and gross outrages; and in the years 1883, 1884, and 1885 the same intimate relationship was kept up, and distinct notice given to Mr. Parnell and many of the other followers that the persons with whom he had been associated were professed dynamitards, and advocates of assassination. Mr. Parnell dared not break with that extreme American section. The result of attempting to break it up would have been the withdrawal of the money with which the Land League was doing its work, and without which it could not do its work. There was a memorable speech made by Mr. Davitt during his tour in America, on the 24th of September, 1878. In that speech Mr. Davitt said that twelve or fourteen years previously he had had a boyish pride in those who had taken up the cause of the Irish Nationalists. He was then a humble disciple of these men, and was ready to suffer for his profession in the same spirit as Burke and Devoy had done. The Attorney-General pointed out that Burke had been convicted of high treason, and Devoy was believed to be a Fenian. In the resolution which was passed at that meeting, it was decided that the landlord system forced upon the Irish people by the English Government was a disgrace to humanity; and that the abolition of the "foreign" landlord system, and the substitution of native landowners, was the only true solution of the Irish land questions, and that the Irish Republic also could effect it.


Now, he (the Attorney-General) should endeavour to prove the adherence to all these principles of Mr. Parnell and his followers. With the American Party - it was necessary to state this - there was to be no compromise to the complete overthrow of the British domination; and he should prove that such was the nature of speeches at literally hundreds of meetings. For the persons at home the abolition of the landlords was to be a correlative inducement to join in the organisation. And so to satisfy the greed for land hunger, which it was well known existed in the minds of the Irish peasants, the tenants were led to believe that, by obedience and adherence to the laws and rules of the League, the landlords would be evicted and the land would be the land of the tenant occupier.


In reference to Mr. Davitt's connection with the Irish-Americans, it would be worth noticing the meeting held to welcome Condon and Melledy, who, as he had before said, were connected with the Manchester outrage. Mr. Davitt was present at this meeting. An address was read to these two men, in which they were congratulated on having escaped their sentence; and reference was made to the three executed men - Allen, Larkins, and O'Brien - who were described as "professors of the political faith." Mr. Davitt was present at another meeting, in Brooklyn, at which one speaker said he was in favour of landlordism being entirely abolished and swept out of Ireland. "That it should be swept away - this accursed system of landlordism" were the words used. Whatever might be said with regard to the importance of that speech, he contended that it went to show, as was alleged in "Parnellism and Crime," and, as was alleged now by the Times, that the object of the Land League, the object of Mr. Parnell and the speakers he sent down, and of his own speeches, was to sweep landlordism right out of the country; and the way in which it was proposed to be done was by the organisation of a system of tyranny over the poor tenant, which had never before been attempted - a system which rendered it impossible that the ordinary relations which had hitherto existed between landlord and tenant could continue to exist. So far as that system could it gave Mr. Parnell a greater power in Parliament than he had ever before had.


He believed it would turn out that the mode of outrage introduced at that time was absolutely new, and after a few months that it grew into a system. If he was correctly informed, he believed that Mr. Davitt, in 1878, got the adherence of the American section by telling them that they would advocate independence by the abolition of landlordism from the country. If he was correct in his statement, that the way in which they were to attempt the abolition of that class was by attacking it in a way which they had never before attempted - if his learned friend could not disprove these premises, then the conclusion was that the power of which he had spoken did rest upon that organised conspiracy of crime, and nothing else. It was clear the object of the organisation was to enlist upon their side a class which previously had no sympathy with them; and how? By tyranny, by the intimidation of those men who were afraid of their lives in resisting the Land League. It was by appealing to self-interest, to the greed of the Irish tenant, that this organisation was also able to gain a certain extent of power. It was their object to enlist those who did not want to pay rent, and to get under their thumb - ay, and worse than their thumb - those who were afraid to pay. Devoy, representing the Irish Revolutionists, gave his support to "the movement," as it was called. The result was that they had the power of controlling the tenant interest, and all working for the same object. Ford, too, was labouring hard to promote the common purpose.


Immediately Davitt had succeeded in obtaining the allegiance of the American section to his programme, he endeavoured to secure the support of Mr. Parnell and his followers. So far as he (the Attorney-General) could say, the first negotiations came from Davitt to Parnell, and not from Mr. Parnell to the American section. He (the learned counsel) believed it would be found from Davitt's own account of his interviews with Parnell that Mr. Parnell was favourably impressed with portions of the new policy; but he hesitated, fearing he might push himself further than he cared to go. There was a reluctance of Mr. Parnell, a fear of being pushed further into the connection than he wished - connection with Devoy, Condon, Finerty, men who advocated the blowing up of London, Manchester, and other large cities. It did throw a remarkable light upon the growth of this conspiracy, the way in which it gradually grew up, and the way in which the "Constitutionalist" Party were dragged in - dragged into a Slough of Despond, from which they had never been able to escape.


Early in the year 1879 (continued the learned counsel), and before the formation of the Land League, an agitation was commenced in Ireland. It was commenced by a speech made by Mr. Davitt at Milltown, in county Galway. In that speech he advised the tenant-farmers to feed themselves and their children, to live comfortably, and to send their children to school; and then, if there was any money left, to give it to the landlords. He also said that an organisation had disestablished the Irish Church, and that an organisation of tenant-farmers would disestablish the landlords in half that time.


The Land League was founded at the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, on the 21st of October. Mr. Parnell, Patrick Egan, Mr. O'Sullivan, and others, were present at the meeting. There was, of course, a necessity for a considerable sum of money, and he contended that an auxiliary movement was started in America for the purpose of providing it. Its object was, so it was stated, to give those Irishmen who had been driven out of Ireland by landlordism an opportunity of helping to drive landlordism out in turn. Mr. Davitt, writing to his friends in America, pointed out the importance of the agitation and which, he said, up to that point had been carried on at the personal expense of a few gentlemen.


Mr. Davitt received 308 pounds 8s. from the National Fund in America in his own personal responsibility. The National Fund was only another name for the Skirmishing Fund. The Skirmishing fund had, so it was asserted, been organised for the purposes of laying the great cities of England in ashes. He, at least, thought their Lordships would find that the object with which subscriptions to the fund had been obtained were for acts of the greatest violence. The Land League was started with such energy and spirit that branches, in the space of two or three years, were established by hundreds. He repeated that. According to Mr. Davitt, the object of the organisation of which he was the founder was the complete destruction of landlordism.


Mr. Davitt here intimated that he had not yet received a copy of the charges made against him. He hoped he should be provided with them because he really did not know what to answer.
The Attorney-General said he would give Mr. Davitt all that he put in. He added that it was understood his speech would be printed from day to day, and what fell from his lips would of course appear.
The President interposed by observing that he had ordered that the documents should be printed in the text, and that the portion not read by the Attorney-General should appear in brackets.
Sir Charles Russell said that was quite new to him, and he was very pleased to hear it.
The Attorney-General disclaimed any intention to keep back any portion of the documents, but explained that he had not all the materials to put the full context of any speech he might read. He would, however, undertake to put upon the note the whole of any document he read, which he happened to have.
Sir Charles Russell - Does that apply to the speeches you read - ay or no?
The Attorney-General - I haven't got the speeches. A man might speak for hours.
Sir C. Russell having again asked that the whole of the context of the documents should be included.
The Attorney-General retorted that he need not suppose that he was going to keep anything back.


Sir Charles Russell (warmly) - Don't be so petulant, Mr. Attorney!
The discussion terminated by the President intimating that he would look at the report tomorrow, and see whether it met his idea of what it should be.


The Attorney-General again resumed his speech. He cited another letter of Mr. Davit's referring to the objects of the Land League. In this letter Mr. Davitt said that the principal upon which the League was founded was the complete destruction of Irish landlordism, which was responsible for all the suffering of the Irish tenants, and because it "is the garrison that bars the way to Irish independence." That, said the Attorney-General, clearly showed what the object of the League was, because the letter was written by the actual founder of the organisation. Their Lordships could judge if he had been misled, and whether their statements were not correct that these objects bound together every section of the conspiracy.


In the autumn of 1879 Mr. Parnell went himself to America to start the Irish-American Land League. On the 11th of March, 1880, was held the New York Hotel Conference. Who composed that Conference? Amongst others, John Breslin, who was trustee of the Skirmishing Fund; Captain O'Meagher Condon, the murderer of Constable Brett; John Devoy, of Illinois; Mr. Parnell, and James Reynolds. Mr. Parnell asked that there should be formed a National Irish League in the United States, to be affiliated to the Irish National League at Dublin. That American auxiliary was formed. In a speech at Cincinnati on the 23rd of February, 1880, Mr. Parnell said that with the help of the League there he felt sure they would be able to kill the Irish landlord system, and thus lay the foundation for building up the Irish nation. "None will be satisfied until we have severed the last link which keeps bound Ireland to England." Some years afterwards Mr. Parnell repudiated that sentence in his speech; but, with the exception of that solitary occasion, he (the Attorney-General) did not think Mr. Parnell impugned the accuracy of the report which was given in the Irish World. But, what was more important still, he (the learned counsel) wished to show that, in a little temporary quarrel between Ford and Parnell, Ford said Mr. Parnell was wrong to disavow any part of his speech at Cincinnati. It would have been utterly useless for Mr. Parnell to have repudiated the main plank of the American platform, and then expect to get American support.


Then (the Attorney-General proceeded to say) letters sent from Ireland to America - posted, say, in Dublin on the 5th, and arriving at their destination on the 12th - would appear in the Irish World as cablegrams, which, he supposed, was to make them appear more important. One of these "cablegrams" to the Irish World was sent by Mr. Davitt: - "Copies of the Irish World should be sent to all parts of Ireland. Bishop Moran, of Ossory, denounces it and the League. May Heaven open his eyes to the truth. Spread the light!" "Spread the light" was a phrase frequently used. It meant the dissemination of Land League literature. Mr. Davitt gave further expression to his sentiments in a number of speeches which he made while in America in 1880. In one of those speeches Mr. Davitt again advocated the abolition of Irish landlordism, and said that the hopes of Ireland would be consummated when they had succeeded in abolishing "something else." In another speech he said that in England it appeared to be a crime to be an Irishman, and they were now making it a crime to be an Irish landlord. In a speech, in which he referred to the Society of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Mr. Davitt and that that Society, which had given so much assistance to Ireland, would no doubt come forward with a strong arm to help her when they were prepared to strike a blow for independence. All this went to justify his contention that when Irishmen were in America they were compelled to, and did, advocate the principles of the Extreme Party, in addition to their own object of landlord extermination. Mr. Davitt's speeches had been reported in the newspapers, and at no time had they been disclaimed.


It was in the year 1880 that dynamite was spoken of as a new political agent, and it was significant that the execution of Irish landlords was also described as "the execution of land thieves." In that year Irish women were also recommended to throw out vitriol at the bailiffs. Before that time, vitriol throwing, if known in Ireland, had scarcely ever been adopted as a means of resistance. This was adopted in consequence of the circulation of the Irish World - which contained the recommendation - all over Ireland, a circulation due, to a great extent, to the Land League. It was remarkable that Mr. T. Brennan, the then Secretary of the Land League, Mr. Parnell, and Egan congratulated that journal on the work it was doing.


Turning his attention to the declaration of the principles of the Land League, issued in America in March, 1881, and published in America in April, 1881, Sir Richard pointed out that in this it was said, "We bind ourselves together till landlordism, root and branch, is abolished." He thought he should be able to prove that that document was edited by Mr. Michael Davitt.
Mr. Davitt - As I was in prison in March, 1881 I don't know how it can be said that I was in America.
The Attorney-General reminded Mr. Davitt that he did not say he was in America, but merely that he edited the document. If he did not do so, Mr. Parnell, or some other leader of the movement, put his name to it. On the 24th of May of the same year was published a communication in the Irish World, also attributed to Mr. Davitt, which commenced by saying, "Gladstone is going to hell by rapid transit." (Laughter.) He (the Attorney-General) did not know what there was to laugh at in such an observation, but he thought it rather a serious matter. The document, after declaring that the stupidity of his administration was only paralleled by his malevolence, said: "To friends in America, - It is to you we turn our eyes. England is watching you. You are the Land League's base of operations. Realise the glorious possibilities of which you are capable. Be faithful to the banner of the people...and to your brothers on this side now struggling in the first throes of the revolution." What were the operations of which the American Party was to be the base? In 1881 the Land League operations had consisted in boycotting, intimidating, and shooting persons; and he asked their Lordships whether it was anything more than the plain truth to say it was the result of a conspiracy organised and supported by those in America and the leaders in England - that England which "is watching you."


There was another statement in the Irish World worth noticing. It was to the effect that, if only that journal were more read, "it will be beyond the power of earth and hell to perpetuate landlordism in Ireland. More light!" That was the kind of literature spread in Ireland. That was "constitutional agitation!" The suggestion would doubtless be made that Mr. Parnell and his party had nothing to do with the Irish World. But they were, at least, content to receive its money. One of the means by which the movement was promoted was the dissemination of this seditious language throughout the length and breadth of Ireland; and it was to be wondered at - with invitations to throw vitriol - that outrages followed? J.P. Quinn in writing to Brennan, actually described the Irish World as the "sole reliance." This Irish World encouraged the outrages, and they were, indeed, literally the life-blood of the organisation, and without them it would have dwindled into nothingness. It was in this Irish World that a paragraph appeared from Mooney, who could only be described as an infamous scoundrel. "London," said Mooney (who was now dead), "consisting of four millions of the wealthiest people of the world, is at the mercy of its criminal classes, who number a quarter of million. Make a note! Oh, spread the light!"


The celebrated Chicago Convention took place in 1881. There were present at the Convention Mr. Breslin, the treasurer of the Skirmishing Fund; the Rev. J. Conaty, treasurer of the Parnell Testimonial Fund; John Devoy, Fenian; John Finerty, dynamitard; Mr. T.M. Healy, Mr. T.P. O'Connor, Mr. Alex. Sullivan, and also Dr. Wallace. In one speech made there it was stated that England was Ireland's bitterest enemy. Mr. T.P. O'Connor did not speak there. In another speech, however, he had said that if he was the agent of an insurance society he would not like to have business relations with the ten thousand farmers who went into farms from which another ten thousand had been evicted. Father Sheehy had said in a speech at the same meeting that the extermination of Irish landlordism was only a stepping-stone to a greater and a higher object. England, he contended, was the only enemy Ireland had on the face of the earth. It was not so much for the love of their own country, but for the hatred of that country's enemy, that the Irish in America were so opposed to England. Mr. Healy - who also refrained from speaking at the Convention, had, in a speech, declared that the object of the Convention was revenge. He also stated, "No rent" for all time. The Convention also passed a resolution, declaring the English rule in Ireland to be without either legal or moral sanction.


Mr. T.P. O'Connor and Mr. Healy were, he would again remind them, at the Convention, and sat upon the platform. They did not, however, speak; and perhaps the speech to which he was about to refer would explain that fact. He mentioned this speech, because it showed how it was considered desirable that the leaders in England should not be publicly mixed up with the Land League. The president of the meeting said, "I have a message for you. There are certain grave reasons that are quite satisfactory to us, and would be if known to you, which prevent Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Healy from responding to your loving invitation to speak."


The circulation of the Irish World was at every opportunity advocated by every one of the prominent members of the League. For instance, Brennan sent a telegram to America, in which he asked that the paper might be circulated everywhere in Ireland, for "it did a power of good."
Sir Charles Russell observed that at that time Brennan was in Kilmainham.
"Oh," retorted the Attorney-General, "that made no difference at all." Indeed, it was all the more probable, he said, that the telegram was sent under such circumstances. The associations existing between the warders and some of the suspects had long been a matter of comment, and it was one of the boasts of the latter that they could get anything out of the jail or into it.


The Irish World - among whose staff were "Transatlantic" and P.J. Sheridan, for whom a warrant was issued in connection with the Phoenix Park murders - continued its advice during a later period of 1882. Amongst other items in the paper during that time was one which said that a dynamite explosion in all the manufacturing centres and great towns of England would be the signal for Ireland's liberty. It would be little trouble to spread the attack throughout England in a single night, and it should be done. The article concluded, "Oh, the Irish World would again start a Skirmishing Fund!" This, said the Attorney-General, was the wicked sort of literature that journal teemed with. He did not attempt to suggest what would be their Lordships' opinion of an organisation that sent such literature as that broadcast through the land. This contained a distinct incitement to the use of dynamite for the destruction of the towns and the great manufacturing centres of England, the cost of which would be defrayed by another skirmishing fund, to be started as the first one had been.


They could not, of course, leave this American portion of the subject without directing some attention to the Philadelphia Convention of 1883. At that Convention there were, among others, present, Brennan, Frank Byrne, Mrs. Frank Byrne, Condon, Patrick Egan, Finerty, Colonel O'Flynn, J.A. Parnell, Mr. Parnell, O'Donovan Rossa, and John Walsh. It was very significant that in April, 1885, hardly six weeks after the Phoenix Park murders, they should find in America so many persons who had been so intimately connected with the Irish organisation. It was also an instance that required explanation that they should all visit America together, and should associate with men there whose private opinions were certainly of a violent character, and whose aims were not altogether legitimate. Mr. Parnell wrote to that Convention, and his letter was read at the meeting. The letter was addressed to the president of the Irish-American Convention, and in the letter he described the Convention as the most representative convention of Irish-American opinion. Now, Mr. Parnell did or did not know the character of the men assembled at that Convention. Did he know some of them were persons who openly and avowedly advocated outrage, and were willing that dynamite should be used; and that these were associated with people who had not been able to remain in Ireland in consequence of some outrage which formed the subject of an inquiry, and that some of the men present were accomplices of murder and outrage? What, in the face of these facts, was the real bond between the two sections?
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, the Attorney-General directed their Lordships' attention again to what occurred at the Philadelphia Convention. He first of all read the speech of the president, Charles Moody. In that it was stated that they were there chiefly to reorganise the Land League started in Ireland. It was true, he added, they hated the English with a hatred as intense as that of any Irishman at home. Alexander Sullivan, the president of one of the American branches, and of the Clan-na-Gael, also spoke, observing that they "had met neither on the one hand to dictate to their brothers in Ireland, nor on the other to apologise to their and our common enemy for anything. We have met (he concluded) to concentrate our forces to fight against that common enemy." The audience was told that the principles for which Emmett died should be adopted. It was significant (said the Attorney-General) that the names of Wolfe, Tone, and Emmett ran through most of the patriotic speeches, and that those of Butt and O'Connell - both of whom had been vigorously opposed to the shedding of blood - were generally omitted.


On the 23rd of June (said the Attorney-General) there appeared in the Irish World an account of an interview between Matthew Harris and Patrick Ford, of that paper, in which Ford stated to Harris that what some people chose to call the Phoenix Park murder, was not a murder, but simply an execution. Now, Caffrey, one of those who suffered for that crime, confessed to the justness of his sentence, and for that reason his family were not allowed to receive any money from the Martyrs' Fund. Then a meeting was held, at which Frank Byrne, Mrs. Byrne, O'Donovan Rossa, P.J. Sheridan, John Walsh, Hamilton Williams, and others attended. The meeting was to pay homage to the Phoenix Park murderers. Frank Byrne, secretary of the League, who had escaped to America in 1883, said, "I am not fastidious as to the means by which the cause of liberty may be advanced. I do not know that you should alone use dynamite, the knife, the rifle, or Parliamentary agitation; but I hold no Irishman true who won't use one and all as the opportunity presents itself.


The Rev. George Pepper made a speech in Sept., 1883, in reference to this terrible crime. He was referring to O'Donnell, the murderer of Carey, the informer: - "If (said he) Ireland possessed five thousand such men like O'Donnell her deliverance would be at hand."
Mr. Davitt - The Rev. George Pepper, Methodist minister?
The Attorney-General - The Rev. George Pepper, Methodist minister.
The Attorney-General resuming his speech, said he thought it would be shown, on the authority of Mr. T.P. O'Connor himself, that the Irish World's contributor, "Transatlantic" (whom Sir Richard had previously denounced as a scoundrel) was the first subscriber to the so-called constitutional organisation.


Now, they came to the meeting held in Chicago on the 20th of September, 1883, to receive the widow of Daniel Curly. He was one of the men who were hanged in connection with the Phoenix Park murder. At that meeting Finerty, who welcomed the widow, Curly, said it did not become Irishmen to apologise for an act committed by an Irishman against England. He also, in the same speech, paid "a tribute of respect" to the man who, he said, "had risen like a morning star - Mr. Charles Stuart Parnell." It was later in the same year - in October - that the Irish World published a lecture by P.J. Sheridan. In that he stated that he was in favour of a well-directed scientific warfare - dynamite and nitro-glycerine. That man was the organiser of the Land League. In chronological order they came to a meeting held in connection with the Grady anniversary. Who was Grady? Grady was, he said, another of the men who were hanged in connection with the Phoenix Park murders, and the one who it was believed struck the blow. At the meeting there were present Frank Byrne and O'Donovan Rossa, and a letter of regret was received from Patrick Ford. Frank Byrne made a speech on that occasion, as also did Dr. Hamilton Williams. The latter declared that dynamite was the only weapon that would be successful. He declared, too, that they would make the government of Ireland, if it was continued, a very costly experiment. Byrne - who, he again reminded them, was the ex-secretary of the League - warmly applauded Joe Brady's noble act. "It is the duty of the Irish people to kill every English official who comes into Ireland," was one of his sentiments, and he told the audience that if they wished to honour the memory of Joe Brady, and imitate his example, they must work. "The men at home will do," he concluded; "all they want is the money and the word of order." O'Donovan Rossa delivered himself of some warm sentiments. "I hold," he exclaimed, "that every Englishman who goes into Ireland for the purpose of administering English law should be killed within twenty-four hours."


The Attorney-General's next point was with reference to the Boston Convention in August, 1884. Mr. W. Redmond, M.P., and Mr. Sexton and Mrs. Parnell, were amongst those present. A Mr. Ganon said they should not apologise for the crime of any patriot Irishman. But when was given back to them their murdered brethren, then, perhaps, they might drop a tear and pretend to be sorry for such an act as he referred to. "That means," observed the Attorney-General, "that the crimes of Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, and such men as these, are not to be apologised for, but rather should be commended." He did not know whether it would be said that that was all "wild talk." It was not wild talk when the money was flowing into the till of the Land League; nor was it wild talk when the dynamiters came over to England and caused a series of explosions, which resulted in much loss of property, and even of life, in the Metropolis.


The Attorney-General proceeded to mention that on the 6th of May, 1885, a banquet was held in honour of the men who suffered for the Phoenix Park murders. It was spoken of in the columns of the Irish World as a "brilliant gathering of ladies and gentlemen," including Joe Brady, one of the murderers of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke, as the "modern Corielanus." Then there was a statement made with reference to Burton and Cunningham, convicted for the dynamite explosions at the House of Commons, the Tower, and the Underground Railway; and this was the kind of literature the Land League circulated: - "Whether Cunningham and Burton were or were not participators in the act for which they are now suffering, they are entitled to the sympathy of their race. They are martyrs of Irish liberty." In September, 1885 (continued the learned counsel), a special sum of money was spent from America, from the Emergency Fund, to Mr. Parnell, to enable him to purchase the interests in an Irish paper called the Irishman, which was bought, and amalgamated with United Ireland.


In 1886 there was the Chicago Convention. Mr. T.P. O'Connor suggested that it was libellous of the Times to say that he was present at that Convention. He (the learned counsel) did not know what the gentlemen at that Convention thought of Mr. T.P. O'Connor; but it was a little significant that he should object to the mistake of recording him as being one of the those present. There was a T.P. O'Connor there, but it was a Mr. T.P. O'Connor of Illinois, and thus the mistake arose.


The Attorney-General, still on the question of the Chicago Convention, alluded to a speech made by Mr. Davitt, in which he said, referring to one delivered by Mr. Finerty, "he deprecated a policy of unprofitable revenge. He did not believe dynamite to be necessary; but he found no fault with Mr. Finerty or Mr. Sullivan for the sentiments they expressed." He (the learned counsel) was quoting from their own paper, the Irish World.
Mr. Davitt (rising) - What paper?
The Attorney-General - The Irish World, 28th of August, 1886. Of course, it will be for those here; who were present at the Convention, to correct it when the evidence is given, in order that mis-statements may not be made.
Mr. Davitt (addressing the President) - My Lord, I only asked the question, as the Times had a reporter there, and I expected that they would have quoted from the Times report.
Sir James Hannen - That might properly be given as evidence, not as an interruption.
The Attorney-General - On my instructions, Mr. Davitt's information is not correct.


Having alluded to further statements in the Irish World, the Attorney-General said he had today travelled over a period of not less than eight years. He had shown that, he thought, that the initial plan of the Irish Land League emanated from Mr. Davitt, after a consultation with Ford in America. Mr. Davitt was undoubtedly a clever man. When he returned from America he had a difficulty in inducing Mr. Parnell to assent to the programme which he had proposed because Mr. Parnell was afraid he might be driven too far. Mr. Parnell, however, gave way, and the result was that American money was produced for the starting of the initial organisation of the Irish Land League. During 1881, '82, and '83, American friends contributed large sums of money for Land League purposes, and during a portion of that time outrages unconnected with land agitation were perpetrated. These


The vile criminals who carried them out, and the agents by whom they were planned, also came from America, and, if he remembered right, the dynamite used in all the outrages in England was believed to have been American dynamite. The Attorney-General said he was prepared to prove that the dynamite party was in close alliance with the Land League party. Referring to the Land League, he said that victim after victim - who had only paid their rents, had been subjected to the tyranny of that League - if what he told their Lordships was true, and he challenged his learned friend, Sir Charles Russell, to say that it was not true that there was an intimate relation between the two conspiracies.


The Attorney-General then dealt with the question of the National League, which, he contended, had carried on the same sort of work that the Land League had done. It would be necessary for him (the Attorney-General) to read extracts from several other speeches made subsequent to 1885, and in which several other names would be brought before their Lordships. On the 7th June, 1885, a meeting of the National League was held, at which a man named M'Carthy, a suspect, whom the Attorney-General believed was in jail at the same time as Mr. Parnell, made a speech strongly condemnatory of the land-grabbers. "There is one way," he said, "in which you can get rid of the scourge - boycott him, isolate him, as accursed by God." "Don't give him a drink of water." At Hunting Hill, County Cork, 14th June, 1885, M'Carthy also spoke at this latter meeting, and said that the sooner thee got the landgrabbers off the face of the earth the better. A Philadelphian spoke at this meeting, and he, referring to the fact that Lord Spencer had left Ireland added, "But he has got off a lot too easy." Mr. Deasy, M.P., and Mr. Hooper, M.P., were at a meeting at Dunshannon, at which a speaker warned a landlord if he continued in the course he was pursuing towards his tenants he would bring down upon himself the vengeance of God, and not only the vengeance of God, but the vengeance of man, which was ten times worse." That (observed the Attorney-General, amidst a slight titter on the side of the Parnellite counsel) - that was a matter of opinion.


was next referred to. It was delivered on Aug. 23, 1885. "For God's sake, said Dr. Tanner, "boycott every man, woman, or child who would not be true, and join the national cause." He also, said the Attorney-General, told the people not to purchase anything from anyone "except the Nationalists' begob." At another meeting, Mr. J. O'Connor, just as the effigy of a landgrabber was carried by the gathering, said he had no objection to a landgrabber being "dealt with properly." Mr. W. Redmond and Mr. J.C. Flynn were present at a meeting at which a man, named Walsh, advised them to "make the place as hot as hell for the landgrabber," and to boycott them to the utmost.


Members of Parliament were present at other meetings at which the people were urged to persevere in the work until landlordism was swept out of the country. "Now, my Lord," observed Sir Richard, "I submit that if there were some ignorant men at that meeting who were so ignorant as to fancy that by removing landlords they could get the land for themselves, such remarks as those would have a terrible effect upon their minds." Incidentally, the Attorney-General mentioned that Mr. Flynn, who was present at most of the meetings to which he had just referred, afterwards became a Member of Parliament; and this seemed to be the way in which Mr. Parnell sought to reward those who spoke for him. He then cited another speech by Dr. Tanner, delivered about this time. Dr. Tanner said the learned counsel had a greater command of metaphor than many other members. He referred to the landgrabber as a "rapacious beast, too low, too filthy to take cognisance of, and too low to denounce. He is like the leper in the East, and like that other gentleman we must treat him. We must leave him severely alone."


Mr. Hegarty would be called before their Lordships. Mr. Hegarty was not unpopular in his district, but he had the determination to decline to knuckle under to the Land League. He was a witness who would be able to describe the position of a man in Ireland if he had the courage to resist the National League. Mr. Hegarty was described as "A low, creeping reptile, who doesn't deserve the name of human being, whose proper definition would be a thing," while the paragraph containing the speech went on to say, "but since he would call him something, he would call him the lowest of creeping things - a louse." (Laughter.) It did seem an extraordinary thing that such a kind of speech should be necessary to forward the work of a bona-fide organisation. The Attorney-General concluded his remarks by saying that tomorrow he should refer to the outrages and the remaining speeches.
The Commission then adjourned.


The Freeman's Journal says that the letters from Mr. M. Harris, read by the Attorney-General yesterday, were from copies taken by Government when his house at Ballinasloe was searched and his papers temporarily removed.
The Freeman hears that over two hundred Irish police have been placed by Government at the disposal of the Times as witnesses without subpoena.

Source: The Echo, Thursday October 25, 1888, pp. 2-3

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