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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Fri 2 Nov 2012 - 8:58

Forty-fourth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, February 5, 1889




Although it had been anticipated for several days past that the letters attributed to Mr. Parnell would be reached today, the public displayed very little interest in this morning's opening proceedings. In fact, when the Commissioners took their seats there were only a few more spectators in the galleries than in the early part of last week, when the monotonous duty of reading speeches and newspaper articles was performed by Sir Henry James. The Attorney-General and Mr. Atkinson, Q.C., appeared in Court with the broad band of linen round the wrists of their coats, worn as a mark of respect and a token of mourning, in memory of the late Crown Prince of Austria. During the morning Sir Morell Mackenzie entered the Court and occupied a seat on the solicitors' bench, between Mr. Biggar on the left and Mr. Lowden, popularly known as the "Attorney-General" of the Nationalist Party, on his right. He conversed for some time with Mr. Biggar and watched the proceedings with a great deal of interest.


At the outset the Attorney-General informed the Court that he had gone carefully through the evidence already given, and found that he would be obliged to call a few other witnesses with reference to that part of the case, but they had not yet been summoned. He thought he could now take the American part of the case, which was a case entirely separate in itself, and he hoped he would be able, subject to the reservation he had made, to keep it almost unbroken. He would call Major Le Carom.
The Major is a short, slightly-built, very dark gentleman. He wore a very neatly-trimmed and waxed moustache, black frock coat, and white tie, set off with a diamond pin. In reply to the Attorney-General, he said his name was Thomas Hillis Beach, and he was born at Colchester, in Essex.
Under what name have you passed for a number of years? - For the last twenty-eight years I have been known by the name of Henri le Carom. I went to the United States some little time after the breakout of the War of Rebellion, in 1861.


Did you enlist in the Army? - I did; in the Northern. I enlisted as a private and served as acting assistant major-general with the ranked major. During all that time I passed in the name of Le Carom. In the year 1864 I became acquainted with James O'Neil, who, in that year, communicated with me respecting the Fenian movement. In 1865 he communicated with me respecting the invasion of Canada, and I communicated with my father.
Did he communicate with a Member of Parliament?
Sir Charles Russell objected to the question, and the objection was sustained by the President.
The Attorney-General (to the witness). - Did you communicate with a Member of Parliament? - I did not; nor did I communicate with the Government.
Sir Charles Russell again objected to the course of examination, as not being applicable to the case.
The President - I think, too, his conduct in 1865 is not necessary in this inquiry.


The Attorney-General - Very well, my Lord.
To the witness: Did you join the Fenian organisation? - I did, at the latter part of the year 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.
When did you take office in the Fenian organisation? - In the spring of 1868 I was military organiser. There was a convention at Philadelphia in 1869.
What work was being carried out by the organisation in 1869? - They contemplated the invasion of Canada. In my hands was entrusted the shipping of all the ammunition and arms along the line of territory, and I attended the "council of war."


Did you communicate with the Canadian Government? - Yes, everything. (Laughter.) The attempt at invasion in 1870 was a miserable failure. I personally knew Mr. J.J. O'Kelly, and first met him at the House of Commons in March, 1861.
When did you first know him by name? - In 1875.
You mean Mr. J.J. O'Kelly, Member of Parliament? - Yes. After the failure of the invasion I returned to the West, and graduated as Doctor of Medicine. In 1875 I heard something in connection with the Fenian organisation.
Who made the first communication to you with reference to the Fenian organisation? - In 1876, in New York, from Colonel Clingen. On hearing of this I communicated with London with the Government. I received instructions, and joined the organisation. (A laugh.) I was proposed by Alexander Sullivan, of Chicago.


The name of the organisation for which I was proposed (proceeded the witness) was the United Brotherhood, known as "U.B.," which was altered to "V.C." as a cipher. I knew what the Clan-na-Gael; it was a secret organisation called the "V.C."
Then the "V.C." was the Clan-na-Gael? - Yes. The word we used for "Irish" was "Jsiti"; for "Ireland," "Jsfboe." There was a sign for the secretary, who was known as "Y." The secretary was "T" or "Z"; the treasurer, "X." The country was divided into districts.
What was the object of the U.B.? - To bring about the establishment of an independent Republic in Ireland, and it was believed that the only method by which that could be established was by the force of arms.
(Handing copy of document) - Is that the copy of the "V.C." - the constitution? - It is.
The Attorney-General, remarking that he should hand in the document for their Lordships' perusal, read extracts from this "Book of Constitution of the V.C.," the object of which, according to the opening section, was the overthrow of English domination - the total separation of Ireland from England. The rules went on to say that they would prepare unceasingly for the armed insurrection of Ireland, and would have no interference in politics. Then followed this sentence: - "And act in concert with J.S.C. in Ireland and HSFBSCSJUBJO, and assist it with money, war materials, and men." Witness said those letters represented the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Ireland and Great Britain.


Witness, continuing, said he was still a member of that organisation. He was appointed senior guardian of Camp 463, at Chicago. He still held that position, but the camp number had now been altered to 121. He had in that capacity received documents from the Executive. He could produce some of the original documents, and some copies. He explained that invariably when a document was forwarded by the executive body, instructions were also sent that after the document had been read twice to the whole organisation it should be returned to the executive body. In other cases instructions were forwarded that the document, having been twice read before the organisation, should be destroyed in the presence of the organisation. It was in the cases where those documents had been so destroyed or returned that witness could not produce the originals.


"Now," asked Sir Richard Webster, "from 1875 to 1878 what was the work of this organisation?" - "The work of organisation, increasing the organisation, subscribing money, attending meetings, and shipping arms to Ireland through the accredited agents of the organisation."
Was O'Donovan Rossa a member of the "V.C."? - He was until 1876, when he was expelled from the organisation.


I may be allowed to correct myself (added the witness) by saying that Rossa's expulsion did not take place until 1882. There was a "Skirmishing Fund" in 1877, of which John J. Breslin, John Devoy, W. Carroll, J. Reynolds, O'Donovan Rossa, Austin Ford, Thomas Clarke Lubie, and Thomas Francis Burke were trustees - they were all, by the way, members of the "V.C." - and controlled the movement. The object of the fund, in the first place, was for skirmishing purposes - to strike the enemy when and where it was possible. In 1879 there was considerable discussion in the Irish World and other papers about the fund. In that year envoys - John Devoy and General Millen - were sent over to Ireland. One went as a military envoy, and the other, the civil envoy, to inspect the organisation known as the I.R.B.
Were the members of the "I.R.B." and the "U.B." associated in any way? - They were one. For this service of General Millen's, continued the witness, $10,000 were allowed, and taken from the Skirmishing Fund.


Did you know what policy Devoy had been preaching prior to leaving America? - Active warfare. He returned in July, 1879, and in the following month a great convention, attended by delegates from every camp in good standing, by the executive and the envoys from Ireland, was held in Pennsylvania. After that the report presented to the meeting by the envoys was sent to the senior guardians of all the camps.
Was any other report sent to you? - Yes; there was one which was a report of John Devoy, known as Mr. Jones, which was not included in the official report.
What did you do with that? - I destroyed it as soon as I conveniently could, in my office; but I produce a copy of it.
Sir Charles Russell objected to its admission, but the President ruled otherwise.
The report was, therefore, read. It described Devoy's visit to Ireland, and the meeting of the organisation in Ireland for the purpose of making preparations for the great revolutionary struggle.
The document went on to say that "it was decided, before the introduction of arms in any quantities to Ireland, to send three or four trusty men to "prepare the ground," while an undertaking was given by the "V.C." to provide each man with a ride for 1 pound. "If the V.C. pushes forward this good work, the brightest future is before us." (A laugh.) The document concluded, "Affectionately and fraternally, John Devoy."


The Attorney-General put in a copy of the proceedings of the "Convention" in 1879, the witness explaining that the secret report of John Devoy was not included in the report of the proceedings. The learned counsel referred to a resolution relating to "independence," which was stated in the report could only be attained by force of arms. The "R.D.," said the witness, was the "Revolutionary Directory," which directed the acts of operation, and waited for a favourable opportunity to take action.
Major Le Carom (in proceeding) said that J.J. O'Kelly was an agent of the organisation for the purpose of shipping arms into Ireland. After the Convention of 1879 O'Kelly left America for Europe. He was instructed to buy arms in England and ship them to Ireland. Those agents were controlled partly by the executive body of the organisation, but mainly by the Revolutionary Directory. O'Kelly's expenses were paid from the Revolutionary Fund, and he also received money from the Skirmishing Fund in 1881. He (witness) knew that fact from a secret report of the trustees of the Fund.


He remembered the visit of Mr. Parnell and Mr. Dillon to America in 1880, and as an officer of the "V.C." he knew that, without exception, the organisation of Mr. Parnell's and Mr. Dillon's meetings in the Eastern and Western tour was in the hands of the leaders of the United Brotherhood or the Clan-na-Gael. At some of the Conventions armed men were present, including the "Clan-na-Gael Guards" and the "Hibernian Rifles," the latter body being connected with the Ancient Order of Hibernians.


At this point several of the rules of the "U.B." were produced by the witness and read, the latter task occupying about half-an-hour. In one of the paragraphs it was pointed out to the members in Ireland that it was inadvisable that they should communicate with the central body while the British Government kept such careful watch over their proceedings.


The Attorney-General read a communication from Devoy in 1880, in which he said, "I think the Land League has now money enough for present purposes, and the state of things in Ireland now demands that all the money should be devoted to revolutionary purposes."
The witness stated further that Devoy told him that he contemplated inaugurating a new system of warfare - a cold-blooded warfare to be carried out by the R.I.B. At the beginning of 1881 Alexander Sullivan told witness, too, that it was the object of the organisation to conduct active warfare in Ireland and England, that the matter was "in good hands," but that it would take time to complete. The warfare was to be secret and silent.


Patrick Mellady, one of the organisers, told witness, in his office at Illinois, in the presence of Devoy, that a man named Wheeler had invented a hand-grenade, composed of something more explosive than anything then known; that it was so portable that a dozen could be carried in a satchel, while the time-fuses were such that a person could "locate" the explosives and time them in such a way that the man who placed them could escape. Mellady declared that he was willing to go over to England and inaugurate any part of the work.
The Attorney-General - What work? - "Locating" and "planting" - destruction by dynamite.
Further questioned, the Major said O'Donovan Rossa was a member of the organisation.


In 1881, continued the witness, he saw Devoy, and, through the negotiations of Colonel Cleghan, agreed to come to Europe. Devoy then gave witness two sealed packets - one for Patrick Egan, and the other for John O'Leary, who were in Paris. Witness had heard of Patrick Egan and O'Leary as being connected with the Irish Republican Brotherhood. O'Leary was the accredited agent in Paris of the U.B. and I.R.B.
The Attorney-General - Have you heard that O'Kelly was a member of the U.B.?
The witness replied that he would swear Mr. O'Kelly was a member of the U.B. and that organisation and the Land League were connected. Witness was formerly a treasurer of the Land League in America, and has remitted money to a priest in Massachusetts.
The Court then adjourned for lunch.


Upon the Court resuming the Attorney-General continued to examine Major Le Carom. The latter said that when he left America he came direct to England and then went to Paris, and stayed at the Hotel Brighton with Mr. Egan. They went to the opera together, and on the next day they went to see O'Leary. During the following three months witness spent some of his time in London and some in Paris. He became very intimate with Egan during that time. Egan made a confidant of witness, and communicated to him the fact of his having been for a long time the backbone of the Dublin organisation. He also told witness he had for some time been on the supreme council of the I.R.B. home organisation. He further stated that "he was a Land Leaguer today, and something else when the occasion presented itself." He saw no reason why there should not be a perfect understanding between the two organisations.
"What two organisations?" asked Mr. Davitt.
Witness - The open movement, and the secret or revolutionary organisation. Egan also spoke of many men on this side of the Channel as being just as good a Nationalist as he was himself.


He also said that Mr. Parnell was a thorough Nationalist in sentiment, and had always been a revolutionist to the backbone. In proof of that statement he told witness that about a year previous to that conference Mr. Parnell had made an application and had endeavoured to join the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood. Egan said that as the organisation at that time was not in so good or prosperous a condition as Mr. Parnell thought it was, they thought he would think a great deal more of it if they kept him outside. They also thought it would interfere with Mr. Parnell's usefulness if he joined the organisation. Consequently they refused to allow him to become a member.


Major Le Carom went on to say that Egan had told him that members of the League had audited the accounts of the Land League. He said there were several matters which it would never do for the public to know all about the funds of the League. "For instance," he said, "you remember the Dutch officers who were sent down to South Africa in the Boer affair. I defrayed their expenses out of the funds of the League. That's an affair that it would never do to allow to come to the light."
You mean that he supplied funds for the Boers against England? - Yes.


Major Le Carom went on to say that Egan said he saw no reason why the open movement and the revolutionary should not work on the same lines, and complained of the attitude of several of the members who were opposed to Mr. Parnell's policy. He was introduced to Mr. Parnell as "one of our friends from America," by Egan, near one of the refreshment-stands in the Lobby of the House of Commons, in the latter part of 1881. After that he returned to Paris, and was then informed that Mr. Parnell wished to see him. Accordingly he returned to London.
Did you see Mr. Parnell again? - I did. On the night on which we conversed I went down to the House of Commons, and met Mr. J.J. O'Kelly, who bitterly complained of the attitude of the organisation against Mr. Parnell and party, and thought that something could and should be done by us upon the other side to bring them into line. While talking with other persons, Mr. Parnell came up. He immediately recognised me, and shook hands. A few words passed between us, and he beckoned me, and we passed down a corridor into a quieter one near the library. Mr. O'Kelly resumed the same subject.


Yes, but did anything pass between you and Mr. Parnell? - Yes. Mr. Parnell said, after O'Kelly had left us, that the whole matter lay in our hands. "You furnish the sinews of war," he said. "You have them in your power. If they don't do as they are told, stop the supplies. The whole matter rests in your hands." He further told me that John Devoy was the first man in the party who could bring about a good understanding, and asked me to ask Devoy to meet him here, promising that he would guarantee all his expenses.


He also requested witness to see Sullivan, Hind, Devoy, and Dr. Carrol on his return to America, lay before them the situation, and impress upon them the necessity of coming to an understanding. He also asked him to get Sullivan or Hind to come over from America, if Devoy could not come. He did not ask Carrol to come over, as he thought he was opposed to the open movement. He said there should not be any misunderstanding; they were working for a common purpose - the independence of Ireland.


Witness also averred that Mr. Parnell used the following language: - "I have long since ceased to believe that anything but the force of arms will ever bring about the redemption of Ireland." Mr. Parnell also said he saw no reason why an insurrectionary movement, if it had sufficient money, men, arms, and organisation, could not be inaugurated in Ireland. He also said that by the end of that year the Land League treasury would contain 100,000 pounds.


Witness promised to do all that Mr. Parnell had asked him to do, and Mr. Parnell gave him his photograph, with his signature, as a memento of his visit. That photograph was now on its way to England.


Witness (continuing) said he afterwards went to Dublin in 1881, and also went to Kilmainham Jail with Dr. Kenny, and there saw Mr. Dillon, Mr. Boyton, and P.J. Sheridan. He had a private conversation with Boyton, who asked him to tell the "Boys," when he returned to America, that they knew he was sound to the core, and that if they could only see, as he had seen, the national spirit which had been aroused in Ireland by the open movement, they never would oppose it as they were doing.
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Tuesday February 5, 1889, pp. 2-3

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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