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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Mon 29 Oct 2012 - 15:19

Fortieth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, January 29, 1889



The speech-making, with which the Court closed on Friday night, seems likely to be continued for some few days. The time that task would have occupied if the various utterances were read in extenso, has, however, been materially shortened by a step taken by the Times counsel when the Court re-opened today.
Sir Henry James informed the Commissioners that, in the hope of shortening the reading process, he proposed taking the 1880 speeches, delivered at the period when the branches of the League were being formed, as fairly representing that portion of the case. He would not read in detail the speeches of the other years, except what seemed to be absolutely necessary, and that upon which reliance must be placed. With regard to those of 1881 and 1885, he would only mark certain passages in them in red ink. The reason why they had so decided was because they thought the extracts they would have to read from United Ireland would cover what they wished to arrive at.
Sir Charles Russell - I don't know whether I am expected to make any sort of a reply; but I understand the Court has been furnished with all the speeches, and I presume you have read them.
The President - I have read all that was furnished me. I was under the impression that they came up to the latest date, but I see that is not so, though they reach up to 1881.
Sir Charles Russell - Perhaps, my Lord, you will be served with another dose. (To Sir Henry James). Is that not so, Sir Henry?
Sir Henry James - I don't accept the medical term made use of by Sir Charles Russell, but some further speeches will be handed in to the Court.
Sir Charles Russell - I will drop the term then, but I will say that we cannot mark passages upon which we rely, because we rely upon the whole of the speeches.
The President - Oh, but you have marked some passages already - at least, somebody has.
This terminated the incident.


Sir Henry James proceeded with his monotonous task. Having read a few extracts from Sligo speeches of 1880, he passed on to the county of Tipperary in the same year. Speaking at Mullinahone on the 8th of August, Michael Boyton observed that under the existing circumstances no more deadly and no more dangerous charge could be made against a man than that of being a land shark - a land-grabber. They were determined that they would make the name of that man as odious as ever was the name of an informer in Ireland. Though he would not answer for the miserable life of the man guilty of treason to the people's cause, they would see that his name was handed down to his children's children as that of a miserable traitor.
Mr. Lockwood, however, had an extract to place against this. It was from the same speech, and in the course of it Boyton told the people that it was not from the battle-field the regeneration of Ireland would arise. It must spring from the domestic circle; in short, from Irishmen consenting to live and work together, using for this purpose nothing but civilised means.


In September Mr. J. Dillon spoke at Templemore. In the course of this speech Mr. Dillon advised the people to organise themselves thoroughly, and to appoint men to go round and take the names of everyone of the farmers in each of the townships, which could be submitted to the branch of the League. They would thus give every man a chance of joining the movement, and then if a man set himself against the rules of the League by taking an evicted farm - (A voice: "Shoot him.") No. He would not shoot him. He would advise them to have no communication with him, not to allow their children to communicate with his children, not to buy from him or sell to him - in fact, to treat him as a traitor to his country and an oppressor of the people. That, he said, would be better than shooting him, and no one could punish them for it. In another speech, in October of the same year, Mr. Dillon made use of similar expressions. "Any man," said he, "who refuses to obey the order of the League treat him thus, and I tell you in a few months he will leave the country."


Mr. Reid read a few sentences from another of Mr. Dillon's speeches. It was delivered at Clonmel on the 4th of October, 1880. In the course of it Mr. Dillon protested against the columns of news describing outrages that had never occurred, being deliberately manufactured in Dublin and telegraphed to the London papers for the purpose of bringing the Irish people into disrepute. He declared that he refused to denounce crime because their movement was not identified with crime of any kind.
In the same month Mr. Dillon spoke at Thurles. Looking forward to the future, to a time when he would have finished public speaking, and would be able to take a little rest, he said that such a period would occur when they had the branches properly organised. When the country was properly organised he would not have to make any more speeches, because then the people would know what they had to do, and who they would have to obey.
Sir Henry James - I have no right, of course, to make any comment upon the speeches, but I may say, my lord, this passage explains why I shall not have to read several other later speeches.
At this Thurles meeting, Michael Boyton spoke denouncing the land-grabber as a "double-dyed traitor to his God and country," and advising the people to strike a blow at the greedy hand of the landlord and the agent.
One of Mr. Biggar's speeches delivered at Duncannon at the latter end of 1880 was next produced. Sir Henry James read a portion in which Mr. Biggar told the people there were fifty ways of treating a person who took an evicted farm. "Do not speak to him," said he. "Do not speak to his family; hoot him, pass him by on the other side of the road; do not buy of him; do not sell to him; put him in what is commonly called "Coventry." A little later on, after referring to the proposals that were then being made for the suppression of League meetings, Mr. Biggar said the course of O'Donovan Rossa was the only remedy that Mr. Forster left the Irish people. They must have some means of making their grievances known. He did not, however, advocate physical force, nor did he agree with the principles of O'Donovan Rossa. But he loved O'Donovan Rossa, and would tell them why. He loved him because O'Donovan Rossa hated the English and the English system of government, and because he hated the tyrants who lived in the country, and who were identified with the persecution of the tenants. He did not recommend physical force to them, because it would not be an equal force, and they could not succeed in fighting against the British Government; but if they carried out what the League advocated nothing could beat them.
Both Sir Henry James and Mr. Lockwood had extracts to read from Mr. T.D. Sullivan's speech at Kilbrennan, in Westmeath, at the latter end of 1880. That read by Mr. Lockwood denounced, in the most emphatic terms, outrages of every kind; and that read by Sir Henry James recommended the people to so organise every Irish county that it would be necessary to increase the police force in them.
Mr. Parnell spoke at New Ross at the latter end of the same year. The speech was read by Mr. Arthur Russell and by Sir Henry James. In the extract read by the latter, Mr. Parnell referred to the murder of the son of a landlord in the locality a few days before. He said there was no need to point out that recourse to such measures of procedure was entirely unnecessary and absolutely prejudicial to the cause. If there had been a suitable organisation amongst the tenants he felt sure such a crime would never have been committed.


Sir Henry James - That concludes the speeches of 1880 - that is, when the Land League was being formed. What we propose to do is this: I don't propose going through the speeches as we have done with the year 1880. But I would ask permission that I might refer to one or two - perhaps, I shall not refer to more than eight or ten - in different periods that either refer to matters upon which we rely and must be mentioned, or to matters to which your attention will be called hereafter.
The first speech read under the new condition of affairs was that of a Mr. Crampsey, delivered at Cardossa, in the county Donegal, on March 15th, 1881, the object being to show the position, as organiser, held by Mr. Sheridan.


A speech made by Boyton on the 4th of March, 1881, at Killorglin, in the county Kerry, was next produced. Boyton referred to Magistrates as "contemptible sneaks" and frequently styled Mr. Forster a "Quaker Secretary, whom he defied." Referring to the landgrabber, he said, "I have no sympathy with a night attack. Meet him in the broad daylight, and if you must blow out his brains blow them out in the daytime." Proceeding, Boyton advised the people to teach the landgrabber to be afraid of them. "If the police come to your house at night," he added, "and if you have an old musket, and your wife and daughter are afraid, there is no reason why you should not drive out his brains."
With reference to this speech Mr. Reid intimated it was desirous that the person who reported it should be produced.
Father Murphy, speaking at a meeting held in the same county, advised the tenants not to go by the back-way to pay their rents. This was greeted with the remark from the crowd, "They are going that way now," whereupon the rev. father remarked, "I should think there are plenty of night boys about here who could watch them."


Mr. Matt Harris spoke at Killimor, in the county Galway, on the 25th March, 1881. He referred especially to a man named Kennedy, who has appeared at the Court as a witness, and who took the evicted farm of a widow named Dempsey. "Beware of the landgrabber," said Mr. Harris. "I am told there is one in this district named Kennedy. That vile wretch! Keep away from him; for his very breath is contaminating. He is a disgrace not only to this locality, but to all Ireland. I am told that this wretch has members of the R.I.C. guarding him every day. They march up and down with the ploughs as they tear up this poor widow's land. When the constabulary are employed guarding such a wretch as this man, they will become as contaminated as himself. So keep away from this Kennedy as if he were a demon from hell, and everyone belonging to him for generations to come." In another speech in the same county, a few days later, Mr. Harris said he had gone down to the locality to see how the Quarter Sessions were conducting the business of the county. Referring to the President of the Court, he said, "If an old starved rat with a black muffler round his neck were perched upon the bench you would have a picture of English tyranny."


In the same week P.J. Gordon made use of some very strong language. Referring to landgrabbers, he said they would see in the newspapers, ere long, that six or seven land-thieves had been shot. Eventually it would come to their shooting two land-thieves for every one of their friends arrested.
Mr. T. Harrington pointed out to the Court that Gordon was under arrest when these sentiments were uttered, and they were spoken from a railway-carriage, and not at a Land League meeting.

SPEECHES IN 1885-86.

Sir Henry James acknowledged that such was the case. He would now, he said, pass on to the speeches of 1885.
A Mr. Kellaher's speech, delivered at Illishannon, on the 12th July, 1885, was the first read from the county Cork. Mr. Kellaher denounced the persecution to which an agent was subjecting a tenant in the locality. He cautioned the agent against pursuing conduct which would bring the vengeance of man upon his head, "and, after all," he said, "the vengeance of man, so far as this world is concerned, is worse than the vengeance of God, for the vengeance of God is tempered with mercy and patience."
Sir Henry James next referred to speeches made in 1886-7, which had been handed in, and which dealt with the "Plan of Campaign." He pointed out that only those speeches which went to show that the "Plan" was being carried on in a way that incited outrage would be considered admissible. He would see, however, that speeches that stood alone would not be put in.
With the remark that they would have to read extracts from United Ireland, Sir Henry James produced a very carefully compiled series of extracts from speeches, letters, telegrams, &c., relating to matters connected with the League agitation, dating from 1879.
Mr. Reid submitted that the mere intelligence that appeared in a newspaper was not really evidence of an actual occurrence.
Sir Henry James retorted that what appeared in the newspapers must be taken in evidence against the publishers.
The point was not pressed. Sir Henry James consequently went on to read his extracts, many of them being culled from speeches delivered in America.
At this point the Court adjourned.


On the Court resuming, Sir Henry James continued to read extracts from United Ireland. In the issue for May 5th, 1883, there was a report of the proceedings of the Philadelphia Convention. Patrick Egan was reported to have said at that Convention that, as secretary of the Irish Land League, he had received one million and twenty-three thousand dollars, of which one million dollars came from America. Walsh, as treasurer, said at the Convention he had sent to Ireland for Land League purposes, $62,754. Another large sum had been sent for purposes of relief. A sum of money had also been sent to the mother of the boy Walsh, who had been hanged for murder, although he was innocent. Father Walsh averred that, if the poor woman knew who really committed the murder, she would rather lose her son than turn informer.


Sir Henry James next read a letter which was signed, "A School Girl," and dated London, May 16th, 1883. The writer stated that when they broke up at the school, the "girls asked their governess to pray for Brady, Dan Curley, and all the others," and they all did so. Nine girls who received Communion for the first time also prayed for them. She was sorry they could not have Mass said for them at their church on Sunday, but they would do so on the following Thursday.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Tuesday January 29, 1889, Page 3

Karen Trenouth
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