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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 19 Dec 2012 - 10:38

Fifty-fifth Day of Proceedings - Friday, February 22, 1889








* will denote future explanations and shocking revelations to think about. In other words, did Mr. Parnell and his "camp" copy Pigott's handwriting? I ask you now to think of how Russell and the Parnell defendants acquired Pigott's handwriting just one or two days prior to the fifty-fifth day of proceedings and asked him to write, in his own hand, the exact words and phrases that they would then use against him in a false confession to discredit him. They already knew that he had spelling issues and used this against him with the time allotted to them since acquiring his handwriting to fabricate these letters of confession. These Parnellite individuals are very well-known and very skilled in the art of deception, falsehood, and forgery; as are most secret societies. Please do not believe everything that you hear as the written word. The truth lies under its own opposite. Take what is commonly reported and reverse it to find the truth.

When the proceedings opened this morning the Court was crowded to its utmost extent. As the case goes on public interest increases. Mr. Labouchere, Mr. Biggar, Mr. Davitt, and Dr. Commins were early arrivals; but Sir Charles Russell was before them, entering the Court at a quarter-past ten o'clock. He sat for some time eagerly scanning the prints of yesterday's evidence. The Earl of Aberdeen and Sir Wilfrid Lawson occupied seats in the jury-box.


The cross-examination of Mr. Pigott by Sir Charles Russell was resumed.
(Handing the witness a letter) Is that your letter? - Yes.
It is dated the 12th of March, 1887, and comes from the Hotel St. Petersbourg. It is addressed to the Archbishop of Dublin. It reads thus: - "My Lord, - I am much honoured by your Grace's reply to the letters. I have no doubt your Grace is right with reference to what you say as to the subject of them. My notion was that the evidence I heard of, which is both documentary and personal, would prejudice the probable effect of the publication - seeing it as a mixture of what I believe to be true and what I suspect to be false - and that it might be forestalled and rendered harmless by publicly exposing the * disgraceful means by which it has been obtained." The letter went on to say that the writer, moreover, thought that such a course would assist the parties concerned with the knowledge of what precisely they would be charged with, and they would be prepared to meet it. However, his Grace had put the matter in such a clear light that he felt there was no need for him to mention the matter again, and must apologize for having occupied his Grace's time.

* the disgraceful way in which the evidence was obtained, as mentioned above, was through the seal of confessional - but not from Pigott's confessions, but from Parnellites and Fenians' confessions. Pigott and the Archbishop wanted to expose these self-proclaimed "St. Patrick's of Ireland" for what they really were. Remember, violent atrocities were occurring and that is a fact.


Upon the suggestion of the President Sir Charles Russell read through the letter from the Archbishop to Mr. Pigott which produced this reply. This was the one read yesterday, in which the Archbishop impressed upon Mr. Pigott the absolute necessity of his telling nothing but the truth when he came to go into the box.


Having heard that letter read, what do you say now? - Well -
First of all, did you receive it? - Yes.
What have you to say, then? - I wish to explain my position when I communicated with the Archbishop. I obtained, as I knew, letters which were very seriously compromising; and also I had heard of other publications in support of these letters which were in course of preparation. Consequently I felt considerably nervous, because, when I came to think the matter over, I found that, although I had had the undertaking that I should never be called upon, I should, as a matter of fact, at any subsequent proceedings, have to prove whence they came, and all about them. Then I had lost a great deal of time and work through engaging in this work, and had really nothing to depend upon. With this additional reason I wrote to his Grace in the hope that he might and would bring me into communication with the Parnellites, with the object of inducing them to provide me with the means of leaving the country. That is, in return for the information I could give them, and telling them what I knew about the matter, and how the letters were secured, that they would provide me with sums of money to leave the country. I may also say that when I obtained the letters I was certainly under the impression that they were not to be published, and were to be held in reserve.


Would you like to say anything more? - When the letter appeared in the Times I was considerably startled and surprised, and, moreover, wrote strongly to Mr. Houston, and said it was a breach of faith.
Sir Charles Russell - I call for that letter of remonstrance against the publication of the facsimile letter.
Mr. Houston - I do not remember receiving it.
Mr. Pigott - I am sure I wrote it.
Sir Charles Russell - Then I think from last night you have removed from your bosom the idea that it had reference to some fearful charge not yet disclosed? - I may say at once that the statements I made to the Archbishop were entirely unfounded. I wished to put the case as strong as I could to induce him to interfere.


Then, may I take it that in the letters I now read and have read you deliberately sat down and wrote lies? - They were exaggerations. (Laughter.) I won't say lies.
Were the exaggerations such as to leave no truth? - I should think very little. (Renewed laughter.) When I wrote that letter on the 12th of March I knew of the letters, but I had only a vague idea of the charges.
(Reading) - "What I suspected to be false or believed to be true." What do you suspect to be false? - I could not say.
"By which further testimony is sought to found a criminal prosecution." Who had told you about a criminal prosecution? - I heard all along that criminal proceedings were pending - heard from Mr. Houston.
"Evidence, documentary and personal, being sought on which to found a criminal prosecution." For what? - The only criminal prosecution I could imagine would be complicity in the Phoenix Park murders.
Against Mr. Parnell and his leading colleagues? - I suppose so.
Sir Charles Russell then read two other letters from Mr. Pigott to Archbishop Walsh, and the latter's reply, in which the Archbishop said that, as a minister of religion, he would afford Mr. Pigott every facility for communicating what he wished, adding that Mr. Pigott might rely with absolute confidence that no use would be made of his name, nor would anything be given to lead to a clue as to the source from which the statements came.


You replied to that letter on the 5th of May, 1887, addressing your reply from Anderton's Hotel, Fleet-street? You wrote, "As it is possible I shall be home on Saturday, it would be more satisfactory for my purpose to wait till then, when I can communicate what I have to say to your Grace personally. Should I be detained longer, I will write the statement to you." - I wrote that.
Did you write that statement - or rather, two statements? - I wrote two letters containing the statements.
Did you ever ask to have those statements returned to you - or rather, the two letters? - No; I did not, but the Archbishop did return them without my request. He enclosed a letter with them in which he said he considered it necessary to send me back all the letters which he had received from me.
And that without your request? - Yes.
Have you recently communicated with the Archbishop? - Yes.
In order to get from him the statements that you had made in your earlier communications, in which you disclaimed being the forger of the documents? - No. My object was -
First, have you got his letter? - Yes.
Why have you kept that letter and not the others? - Because this is a recent letter, and I did not think it necessary to keep the others.
Now did you receive an answer from the Archbishop on the 7th of May, 1887, in answer to yours of the 5th? - Yes.


The Archbishop wrote: - "I have read your letter very carefully, and thought it better to return it to you, because letters preserved here, amongst even the most confidential papers, must eventually fall into other hands. As regards the main purpose of your writing, I can't see how what you have written can be of any use to Mr. Parnell or his colleagues in enabling them to expose the forgery or bring the forger to justice." Archbishop Walsh went on to say, "Evidence may be manufactured, but the question is, Has the evidence been manufactured or is it genuine. From your previous letters I assume that you had some knowledge which you could communicate as to the fact that men had been employed in procuring evidence of a fraudulent character. Any statement short of that would be useless. I have no desire to learn the name of the gentleman who is at the bottom of the transaction." Now, who did you mean by the gentleman at the bottom of the transaction? - I had Mr. Houston in my mind.


In another letter Archbishop Walsh said he could not undertake to lay Mr. Pigott's proposal before Mr. Parnell. "I know him sufficiently well," continued the Archbishop, "to know that he would do nothing to prevent the continuance of the publications, or to secure the withdrawal of those already published. As regards the facsimile letter, its withdrawal would be worthless unless he could secure the admission that it was a forgery."


I will now read the last of these letters: -

"12th May, 1887.
"My Lord, - I assume that my latest proposal has not found favour in your Grace's eyes, and I take the liberty of begging that your Grace will be good enough to return my last two letters at your earliest convenience."
What was your latest proposal? - I never said anything about a proposal.
What was your latest proposal referred to in the letter I have just read? - I can't tell exactly.


Well, inexactly? - I will tell you how the whole thing occurred. I only made, so far as I recollect, one proposal.
What was that? - That that I have told you - that I should be put into communication with Mr. Parnell. I said I had been shown letters that were compromising, and were intended for publication, that my opinion had been asked as to whether they were genuine or not, and that I had stated I considered the Parnell letters rather doubtful. In fact, the body of the letters was entirely unknown to me.
In fact you said they were forgeries? - I do not think I said they were.
Will you swear that? - I won't. I stated that I was not acquainted with the writing of the body of the letters, and that I had no notion whose it was, and that I had considerable doubt about them in consequence. As regards Mr. Parnell's own handwriting I was imperfectly acquainted with that, but the signatures looked like his. As to the Egan letters I told him they were like his, and my opinion was that he had written them.
Will you swear that you ever mentioned the Egan letters at all? - Yes.
By that name? - Yes.
In your letters? - Yes.
The Archbishop declined to see you personally? - Yes.
What letter did you refer to them in? - In one of the late series, I think.
One of the two returned? - No; one of the former batch.
Well, I read them all through? - I believe it must have been in one of the first letters - perhaps it is in the first one I wrote after that in which he said he regarded the letters as private.


Let me put my original question to you again. I ask you what you meant by your allusion to your "latest proposition." - I wrote believing that some of the letters were not genuine, and thinking he would put me in communication with some of the Parnellite Party, and with Mr. Parnell.
To enable him to establish that they were forgeries? - No.
What then? - It must have been to put Mr. Parnell in possession of facts concerning the publication of these things, and enable him to defend himself.
And establish that they were forgeries? - If he could.
And assist him in doing so? - To assist him.
Which of the Parnell letters did you believe were not genuine? - All of them, because I could not recognise the handwriting of the body of them.
Do you swear that you ever did, in any shape or form, communicate with the Archbishop of Dublin that you believed the Egan letters to be genuine? - Yes.
Will you swear that? - My impression is that I did.


Not believing the Parnell letters to be genuine, did you say so much to Mr. Houston? - I didn't state that I believed they were not genuine. (Laughter.) I said they might possibly be forgeries.
At all events - I will take all your varying moods - were you in doubt about it? - I was.
Did you tell Mr. Houston so? - I told him to submit them to every possible test.
Did you tell him so? - I said I didn't know the body of the letters.
Did Houston every express any doubts about their genuineness? - No.
Are you sure? - Quite sure.


I will finish reading this letter of yours. (Reading) "In conclusion, I trust your Grace will do me the justice of believing that I am not the fabricator of the published letters, as has been falsely asserted and circulated to my great inconvenience and injury." Who was the fabricator? - I don't know.
Had you a belief there was a fabricator? - No. I had not.
(Reading) "I defy anyone to prove that I have had anything to do with them further than I have already told you." What had you told his Grace? - I had explained that the letters were shown to me, and my opinion was asked as to their genuineness. I didn't tell him I had purchased one.
(Reading) "But this is not an isolated instance of my having to suffer for the sins of others. Hardly an article against Parnellism that has appeared of late years that has not falsely been attributed to me." (Handing the witness a document) - Is that your handwriting? - No.
Is it like it? - I don't think so.
Do you think there is the slightest resemblance between that and what is called the fac-simile letter? - No, I don't.


Do you know a Protestant clergyman of the name of the Rev. Duncan Craig? - He lived next door to me.
Are you a Catholic gentleman named Pigott? - Pigott is my name.
Look at that letter. Where "Pigott" appears it is spelt with one "t"; yours is spelt with two "t's"? - Yes.
And where "Pigott" occurs there is an erasure. (Mr. Pigott, shaking his head, said he could not see it.)
Sir James Hannen, examining the letter through a strong magnifying glass, and handing it to Mr. Justice Day, said - We are not able to see the erasure.
Sir Charles Russell said that he thought he could, but perhaps he was mistaken.
Sir Charles Russell (to witness) - Were you in desperate circumstances then? - I was very hard up. (Laughter.)
The normal condition? - Yes, perhaps.
Will you swear that you did not send that letter anonymously to the Archbishop of Dublin? - (Emphatically) - I will swear I never saw it before.


Mr. Wemyss Reid was called forward, Sir Charles Russell explaining that, as the biographer of the late Mr. Forster, Mr. Reid had produced letters which passed between Mr. Forster and Mr. Pigott.
(Handing Mr. Pigott a letter) - Is that yours? - Yes.
Mr. Asquith read it. It bore the date of the 2nd of June, 1881, and was from Mr. Pigott to Mr. Forster. The writer, as the proprietor of the Flag of Ireland, said that no doubt Mr. Forster had observed that that paper had opposed the Land League agitation; claimed credit for having strongly supported the Land Bill; and had inserted articles condemning assassination.


Mr. Pigott, in his letter, went on to say that, on account of his opposition to the Land League movement, he had been boycotted, and "my affairs have come to such a crisis that unless I get immediate help I must succumb." He then proceeded to ask if the Government would give him a sum of 1,500 pounds - he could manage with 1,000 pounds - to get out of debt. "If the Government will let me have an advance of either sum I will be forever their most obedient and, I trust, valuable servant."


Sir Charles next read the late Mr. Forster's answer to that letter. Mr. Forster wrote: - "With regard to your proposal, I cannot make the advance you suggest. The Government subsidies no papers; and if I were to accede to your proposal your paper would be the only exception in the three kingdoms, besides which the arrangement would have to be absolutely secret. I cannot but sympathise with you on the treatment you have experienced. Though I must still differ with you greatly, and though we approach Irish matters from very different points of view, I appreciate the patriotism which has induced you to moderate your views. - Believe me to remain, &c., W.E. FORSTER."


The President - Have you read all these letters, Sir Charles.
Sir Charles Russell - No, my Lord. But I think it necessary to put them all in. I wish this gentleman to be painted by his own hand. (Laughter.)
President - But do you think it necessary to read all the letters?
Sir Charles Russell - We think it necessary to have every scrap of them. We want to get to the very bottom of those matters.
The President - So do we, but we can get to the bottom without using such a very long rope. (Laughter.) Laughing


Sir Charles - Then I will go on to another matter for the present. (To Mr. Pigott) I think you said you were in needy circumstances? - Yes.
Living from hand to mouth from 1881 up to the time that you were fortunate enough to make acquaintance and receive employment from Mr. Houston? - More or less up to the present.
In debt? - Yes.
Expecting seizure of your goods for rent? - Yes.
And turning anxiously to every quarter for help which would bring you money? - Yes.


Now, with reference to your correspondence with Mr. Egan. On the 23rd of Feb., 1881, you wrote to him while he was in Paris, telling him that you had endeavoured to obtain an interview with Mr. Parnell, but that he had left for Paris. You said you wanted to make him acquainted with a matter which had come to your knowledge, and which you considered it vitally important that Egan should be made acquainted with as soon as possible. That is what you say in your letter. What was this matter that you wished to communicate? - I have not the slightest idea.
Was there any matter? - I don't know.
Did you receive an answer from Mr. Egan in which he told you to write to him under cover to 99, Avenue de Villiers? - I may have done, but I cannot remember.


And did you on the 27th February, 1881, write him the following letter: - "Dear Egan, - I received your note yesterday, but had not an opportunity of writing till today. The matter I wish to communicate to you is, I think, of the greatest importance, and of such an extraordinary character that you may well be warranted in regarding it with much doubt. But it is, nevertheless, strictly true. On this day week I received an anonymous letter stating that on the Monday following a couple of gentlemen would call upon me and make propositions to me, which, if I accepted, would turn out very much to my advantage.


"Accordingly, on Monday evening (proceeded the letter) they came out to my house in Kingstown. They declined to give me their names, and I have not the faintest idea who they are. The interview lasted a couple of hours, and, to make a long story short, they asked me to publish a statement in the Irishman and Flag which they showed me, and stated that I might name my own price for doing so, and that I would be indemnified against the costs and expenses of any legal proceedings which might arise out of its publication. The thing purports to be a statement of the expenditure of the League funds, and is, I think, an outrageous libel from beginning to end. It however, makes very circumstantial charges, mentions names, gives dates, and also what it is alleged are authentic copies of correspondence between people in the country and the executive of the League, relating, on the one hand, to demands for funds to defend persons prosecuted for participating in outrages, and the support of the families of evicted tenants; and, on the other hand, emphatic refusals."


"My own opinion is (the letter continued) that the whole affair is a tissue of falsehoods, but it is so artfully done, and so apparently truthful, that its publication would, I think, be likely to do much harm. As a matter of course I refused point-blank to have anything to do with it at first, but on consideration I thought it best to prolong the chat in order, if possible, to find out the source from which it proceeded. I did not succeed in this, but requested time to give the matter further consideration. This was assented to, and when I am prepared to give the final answer to advertise in the Irish Times, the form of advertisement being agreed upon, and the parties will again call upon me. My first impression was that our friends of the S.C. were the originators of the affair; but from effective inquiries I have made at headquarters, I am perfectly certain that that is not the case; that they had neither hand, act, or part in it."
Do you observe that there is also a reference of that sort in one of your letters to Archbishop Walsh? - Yes.


(Reading) "But I have also ascertained certain things which make me conclude that the moving spirits in the affair are the Castle people."
That meant the Government? - Yes.
At that time were you in communication with Mr. Forster? - Not at that time.
(Reading) "This may seem to you incredible, but I fear it is a fact. I have opportunities, as I told you before, of hearing occasionally of the doings and proceedings in that quarter, and I have learnt that just now there is great activity amongst the officials, and there is an appearance of mystery which indicates that there is something in the air. I know for a fact that a large number of writers have been brought over from London, and sworn to secresy as regards the work they are engaged in. Our Irish clerks will not be trusted, and these facts, with others, give me the assurance that things will be done of a peculiar character in Dublin, and that, moreover, there will be dirtier work than we have at present any knowledge of."


"The gravest matter is (continued Mr. Pigott) that there are traitors in the camp, that some one in your confidence, or in the confidence of the League leaders, has sold the papers. (Laughter.) God forbid that I should endeavour to bring unfounded suspicion into your mind about anybody. The whole thing may be a fabrication, but from a casual glance I got at the document I came to the conclusion that if any of the statements are founded on fact they must have been got from the League leaders. At all events you must be on your guard. I will not mention the name of anybody. If this thing can be published it can be exposed; but, of course, the English papers would not care to make any trouble about it." The document went on to say that, if published in Mr. Pigott's paper, it would serve him well so far as the Fenian organisation was concerned.
You were, at that time, still the accredited representative of the Fenian organisation? - Yes.
(Reading) "I have reason to believe these people would give me anything I ask just now, but I consider myself in honour bound to you, and, bad as I am, I can truly say I have always been true to those who trusted me. (Laughter.) You might, I think, perhaps, have been more liberal with me. I wanted 500 pounds at least, and you gave me but 200 pounds, greatly embarrassing me."
That related to the sale of the Irishman? - Yes.


The document further showed that the writer could easily understand why "these people" wanted "this thing" published in the Irishman. It was so that it might be circulated all over Ireland and America, where it would have the desired effect, especially on the members of the Land League. They were also aware of the impossibility of getting it published in any paper that favoured the League, and they considered the Irishman the only organ to which they could possibly go. The letter concluded thus: - "And as the proprietor is very impecunious, and, as some say, not over-scrupulous, I shall await your reply."
Did you get an answer to that letter? - Yes.
Where is it? - I don't know. I have not got it. I don't recollect when I got an answer. Egan, however, did not send me the money.
Sir Charles (handing letter) - That is in Egan's handwriting? - It looks like the answer I received.


Sir Charles Russell read a letter, which was dated 9th of March, 1881. It was from the witness to Egan. Mr. Pigott again referred to the document, and the statement he had been asked to publish. It would, said the writer of the letter, be very damaging to the Land League, "even if it may be proved to be built up by fabrications." It would give a list of the funds subscribed to the League, and would ask what had become of the balance. "My reason for thinking that the Castle people are the prime movers is that articles have appeared in the Express with much the same tendency. You see, from the enclosed note, that if I publish this document I shall get 500 pounds, and shall not be required to vouch for the correctness of the statements made." Mr. Pigott went on to say that he wanted a temporary loan of 300 pounds, and, "My affairs have arrived at such a crisis that delay is fatal."


Sir Charles (handing Mr. Pigott a note) - Was that the note you enclosed to Egan as the communication made by a mysterious individual? - I cannot remember.
(Reading) - "5-3-81." - Your decision is still anxiously awaited. You are not required to authenticate any of the statements made. You may even throw doubt upon them, and invite contradiction. You are only asked to print this document. Will wait another week for your answer, and if you agree to publish, 500 pounds will be lodged to your credit in any bank you please in Dublin, or elsewhere."


Sir Charles Russell having read Egan's reply to that note and enclosure,
The President asked if those letters had not been published.
Sir Charles Russell replied that portions of them appeared in the Freeman's Journal in December, 1881, with the remarks that, "Mr. Richard Pigott, late proprietor of the Irishman and Flag of Ireland, has at length openly gone over to the enemy."


Referring to the visit of the two strangers, Sir Charles Russell asked, "What were they like?"
Mr. Pigott - One middle-aged, the other young.
Sir Charles Russell - Did they give any names? - No; I did not ask. I had never seen them before nor since.
Did they wear masks? - (Laughter.) - No.
Blackened faces? - (Laughter.) - No; they were not disguised. It was in the evening, after dinner, when they called upon me. I gave them refreshment, but cannot say if I took any myself.
Mr. Pigott, is this story the creation of your own brain? - It is perfectly true.
You swear that solemnly before my Lords? - I do. I took no steps to identify them. I had an idea afterwards that one of the men was a man named O'Sullivan, who had acted as Land League Secretary. That was suggested to me after the publication of the letter in the Freeman's Journal. I came to the conclusion that the statements were true before I closed my correspondence with Egan.
I could not accept the conditions of the two men.


What were the conditions they imposed? - That I should accept the condition that I would publish a statement in my papers that I knew the publication to be authentic. I would not accept that condition.
But if, as you say, before the completion of your correspondence with Mr. Egan you believed the statements to be genuine, why did you refuse to accept the condition? - Well, I knew the leaders of the League in Dublin were trying to force me into bankruptcy so as to get hold of my property. I therefore tried to put pressure on Mr. Egan to get the 300 pounds from him to make up the 500 pounds.
It was no sense of virtue that made you recoil from this offer to publish? - I suppose not.


Now, on the 16th of May, 1881, did you write a letter to Mr. Egan in which this occurred: "From the turn things have taken, it appears to me that Mr. Parnell and the League cannot well do without an organ. The Land Bill is better than it was expected to be, and the people seemed satisfied with it - even the Nation is disposed to accept it. It seems to me it is important for the League to have a paper to sustain its policy, and they have that ready at hand in the Irishman. I have written to Mr. Parnell, asking him to reconsider his decision not to purchase or to arrange for a partnership of the papers. I venture to solicit your influence with him"? - Yes.
Did you receive a reply from Mr. Egan, in which he told you he had written to Mr. Parnell, to ascertain his views, and he would probably write to you? - I believe so.


Sir Charles Russell also read a letter from Mr. Pigott to Mr. Egan, in which he offered to sell the papers for 3,500 pounds and the debts, or 4,000 pounds without. The papers, he thought, were cheap at that, and could be made a splendid property if backed up by an organisation like the League. He would sell for 3,500 pounds, on the condition that he was given employment on the paper. "I should only get 3,300 pounds cash (Mr. Pigott added) as I owe you 200 pounds, and, as it will take 2,500 pounds to pay off the mortgages and other secured creditors, it will leave only 800 pounds to divide amongst the unsecured creditors and myself."
Another letter from Mr. Pigott to Mr. Egan was read. In this he said, "I have received a letter from Mr. P. accepting my offer, but stating that he will not permanently employ me."
Mr. Pigott also urged Mr. Egan to intercede for him, and if Mr. Parnell would not agree to employ him, to add the 200 pounds which he (Pigott) owed to the purchase-money. To that letter he received a reply from Egan, in which the latter said that any suggestion to raise the purchase-money would be received with disfavour, and if there was any delay in the transfer the contract would be at once broken off.
In one letter (proceeded Sir Charles) Mr. Egan says that your application for an increased amount would not be entertained. Can you explain that? - I don't believe he ever wrote in that style.
Why? - Because he told me that the matter was entirely in Mr. Parnell's hands. In that letter, as you say, Mr. Egan says he refuses my offer. I deny that he refused it.
But you are putting me in this position. There were letters that were addressed to you? - Yes.
And which you cannot produce? - Just so; but on the sale of my paper I handed the letters over to my solicitor.


Have you been struck with the extraordinary similarity between the first five lines of one of Egan's letters and the last five of what I give to you as Egan's reply? I will read some. Here is a letter which you were lucky enough to get out of the black bag. Here is the forged letter: - "18 June, 1881. Dear Sir, - Your two letters of 12th and 15th inst. are duly to hand, and I am also in receipt of the communications from Mr. Parnell informing me that he has acted on my suggestion, and accepted offer made by B. You had better at once proceed to Dundalk, so that no time may be lost. - Yours very faithfully, P. EGAN."

Now, the other letter runs thus: - "Paris, 18th June, 1881.
"Dear Sir, - Your two letters of the 13th and 15th inst. are duly to hand, and I am also in receipt of communications from Mr. Parnell, informing me that he has acted upon my suggestion and accepted the offer contained in your first letter."


Don't you think that very singular? - It is.
What do you say? - I say that it was concocted by Egan.
Why should he in his concoction have made it the 13th and 15th whereas the forgery is 13th and 15th? - I don't know.
Don't you think it a coincidence? - Certainly.
Very strange, in fact? - Yes. (Laughter.)


The 10th of June, 1881, letter commences: - "Dear Sir, - I am in receipt of your note of the 8th, and I am writing Mr. P." The genuine, which you admitted, commences: - "Dear Sir, I am in receipt of your letter of the 16th inst. and in reply shall write Mr. Parnell."
Now we come to another: -

"11th March, 1882.

"Dear Sir, - As I understand your letter which reached me today, you cannot act as directed unless I forward you money by Monday next. Well, here is 50 pounds; more if required. Under existing circumstances, what you suggest will not be entertained. - I remain, dear Sir, yours truly, P. EGAN."

Now the genuine letter, which you admit is from the Hotel Brighton. It is dated 11th March, 1881 - the same day of the same month, the only alteration being the year. It commences: - "Sir, - As I understand your letter, which reached me today." Word for word the same, you see? - I beg your pardon, one commences "Dear Sir," and the other "Sir,"
Do you suggest that has been altered? - Yes.
What do you suggest? - That Egan altered it.
Sir Charles Russell - Do you suggest that Egan altered the letter of the 11th March, 1881? - He must have done so.
In answer to the President, Sir Charles said that this letter was also published in the Freeman in 1881.


Did you receive from Mr. Parnell an original letter of the 13th of June, 1881? - Yes; but I have not got it?
Sir Charles Russell then read a copy of the letter - 13th of June, 1881 - which he said was in Mr. Campbell's handwriting, but signed by Mr. Parnell. It referred to the negotiations between Mr. Parnell and Mr. Pigott with reference to the sale by the latter of the Irishman. Mr. Parnell said: - "We cannot undertake to provide you with permanent employment on the paper."
Sir Charles Russell next read a letter from Mr. Parnell to Mr. Pigott, dated 16th June, 1880, which commenced, "Dear Sir, - In reply to yours of this date, I am sure you will feel I shall always be anxious to do what I can for you."


The learned counsel pointed to the similarity in the commencement of that letter with the alleged forgery of the 16th of June, 1882, and asked if it was not a coincidence that the two letters were written on the same day of the year in 1881 and 1882.
Mr. Pigott - Assuming that the copy is correct - which I by no means admit.
Can you explain, except on the hypothesis of fraud and forgery, how it came about? - Assuming that the copies are not forgeries?
Sir Charles Russell - Assuming that they are not forged by the other side. Suppose you wanted to forge a letter, would it help you to have a genuine letter? - Of course, it would. I cannot say how I should use it.
Suppose you put delicate tissue over it. Would that enable you to trace the characters and outline? - That is the way you would do it. (Laughter.)
Would you do it in that way? - I should trust to imitation. Your way would be easier.
Why do you think so? Have you tried? No I have not tried.
Replying to further questions, Mr. Pigott said he thought Mr. Parnell's signature would be a difficult one to imitate.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.


Upon the Court resuming, Sir Charles Russell handed in copies of other of Mr. Pigott's letters, and also an original letter of Mr. Parnell's. Mr. Egan accompanying them. The letter which was dated 16th of June, 1881, was in Mr. Campbell's handwriting, and was signed by Mr. Parnell. It ran as follows: - "Dear Sir, - I enclose copy of my letter to Mr. Pigott, of the 13th inst. - Yours, PARNELL.
P.S. - Enclosed also is another copy of my letter sent to Mr. Pigott this afternoon."

Sir Charles then called for the letter dated 8th of June, 1881, from Mr. Pigott to Mr. Egan. He pointed out to Mr. Pigott that in that letter the word "hesitancy" was spelt wrongly, at least (said Sir Charles) it was not spelt in the way in which it was ordinarily spelt." - I believe (said the witness) that it was spelt wrongly.
Is that a word you are accustomed to use? - I have used it.
Are you aware that you did not spell it correctly yesterday when writing it for me? - Yes, I fancy I made a mistake.
You had a general consciousness that there was something wrong? - Yes.
You spelt it "hesitency." That is not the recognised spelling. - The "a" is misplaced with an "e."


Have you noticed the fact that the writer of the body of the letter of the 9th of January, 1882 - the alleged forged letter beginning "Dear Mr," - spelt the word "hesitency" in the same way? - I have heard it, and I fancy that it was hearing so many people remark on the fact that the word was spelt wrongly that resulted in my spelling it wrongly. (Laughter.)
It had got into your brain somehow or other? - Yes.
It got into your brain, and came out at your fingers' ends? - Yes.
Very well; but do you know that the letter purports to be dated the 9th of June, 1882, and you say you did not come into possession of the letter until the summer of 1888? - Yes.


Then the wrong spelling did not get into your brain until that time? - Spelling is not my strong point.
Perhaps not; but do you notice that in this letter of the 8th of January, 1881, you spelt "hesitancy" in the same way? - No, I did not.
Well, look at it (handing the letter to witness).
After Pigott had examined it, it was handed to the President, who also said he could see the mistake in the spelling.
Does it strike you (asked Sir Charles of the witness) a remarkable coincidence? - No.


Now, who was the solicitor to whom you confided the documents? - The late Mr. McGovan, of College-green, Dublin.
When did you confide the documents to him? - When I got them.
Why? - He was acting as my solicitor.
Did you ever get them back? - No; I've never seen them since.
Have you tried to get them? - Since this Commission commenced I have made inquiries, but I could never make out who succeeded him.
Then I am to take it you never had the original of the letter 16th of June, 1881, except for a very brief period? - I sent it at once over to Mr. McGovan.
Did you ever have a copy? - No.
Do you know the Very Rev. Father Maher, of Dublin? - Yes.
Do you recollect endeavouring to get him to intercede with Mr. Parnell for you? - I do.
When? - 1888, I think.
That was to make an appeal on the ground of an implied promise that you would get employment? - Yes.
Did you afterwards ask Father Maher to return you some or all or any of the letters you had written him? - No, I didn't.
Will you swear that? - No.
It's rather a habit of yours to ask persons to return letters of yours, isn't it? - If they're private.
Was this private? - No.
Did you send a copy of Mr. Parnell's letter, 16th of June, 1881, to the Father as a foundation for your application? - I did.
Then why did you say you never received a copy from McGovan, to whom you say you sent all these letters, and who is now deceased? - That escaped my memory. (Laughter.)
There are two letters - forged letters, so alleged, of the 16th of June, 1882, both alleged to be signed by Mr. Parnell; you knew it? - Yes.
And were you aware that the date of which you sent a copy to the reverend Father was the 16th of June, 1881? - Yes.
So that the two, so far as the date is concerned, corresponds with the genuine letter with the alteration of the "1" into "2"? - Yes.


Do you notice that in the genuine letter the phrase occurs - "I shall always be anxious"? - Yes.
And that in the other letter that that phrase also occurs? - Yes.
And do you notice that the phrase in the genuine letter, after the formal acknowledgment, "I am sure you will feel," occurs in the others? - Yes.
Doesn't that strike you as a coincidence? - It appears to me so horribly stupid that if I committed the forgery I would not do such a thing as that - (laughter) - at all events, in not so many words as that.


Not intentionally, with your eyes open? - I should consider myself very stupid if I did such a thing as that. (Excitedly.) I consider, my Lords, it is a most scandalous thing that he should be allowed to continue his suggestions, and -
The President - Witness, we are the Judges who will decide whether counsel exceeds his duty or not.
Pigott - But I think I ought to be allowed to explain that I utterly deny that I forged these letters. If I had I should not be here now.
Sir Charles Russell - Not if you could help it. (Laughter.) However, we shall see later on.


Sir Charles Russell added that Mr. Wemyss Reid had made a selection of the letters which passed between Mr. Pigott and Mr. Forster.
The Attorney-General said he ought to see the whole of the letters before they were read.
The President suggested that they should be handed in, and the selection made by the Court.
Sir Charles Russell said he preferred that some of the letters should be read now.
Mr. Asquith then read passages from a letter dated 6th June, 1881, from the witness to Mr. Forster, in which Mr. Pigott said, "I have the temerity to ask you to personally favour me with a loan to tide over my present difficulties. In September last Mr. Parnell would have advanced me as much money as would have paid my debts, if I allowed him to control the editorial management of the papers, but I could not do that."
Mr. Pigott, who was handed one of the letters to examine, scrutinised it for some time.
The President - I have a strong feeling that we should be wasting a good deal of time if we had the letters read now. (Looking at Mr. Pigott.) This will take as long as if the letters were read. (Laughter.)
Sir Charles Russell said he desired they should be read now, and Mr. Asquith then took the task in hand.


Mr. Asquith proceeded to read another letter by Mr. Pigott to Mr. Forster, in which he said, "My embarrassments arise from an inability to pay instalments to some of my creditors, owing to a decrease in the receipts, owing to the opposition of the League to the circulation of my paper. I therefore venture to ask you to advance me 350 pounds as a loan. My position is so desperate that I cannot avoid making the proposals.
Sir Charles Russell pointed out that Mr. Forster's answer to that letter had already been read, and proceeded to read another letter written to Mr. Forster by Mr. Pigott in August, 1881. In this epistle Mr. Pigott wrote, "I now ask you to fulfill the kind promise you made to advance me 100 pounds, to be repaid when things mend with me. As you are, no doubt, aware, the Land Leaguers have bought the Irishman and other papers from the mortgage creditors; and I had no alternative save to me in the sale. It was only under the pressure of imperative necessity that I consented. If I could have encompassed a loan for a few hundred pounds I could have gone on longer, and could have beaten the Land Leaguers, but I could not do so. They have only paid me sufficient to pay my secured creditors, leaving me absolutely nothing, so you will see my position is not an enviable one."


Mr. Pigott also wrote, "Can you recommend me for some position in connection with the new Land Commission? The work would be congenial, and I am pretty well up in the land question. If you can find any such appointment, I would venture to solicit your interest in my behalf." Mr. Forster replied to that letter that he would prefer to forward 50 pounds rather than the larger sum. He would (the right hon. gentleman added), if he asked, introduce him (Mr. Pigott) to the editor of a London newspaper, with the object of his writing an article for him. To this Mr. Pigott replied that the larger sum would be more acceptable. (Laughter.) He had, he said, been contemplating writing an article for a London journal, the only bar being his faulty and somewhat ragged style of writing - a fault which was never noticed in Ireland - would perhaps not be acceptable on the part of the editor of a London journal.


To this, again, Mr. Forster replied on August 13, 1881. He enclosed a cheque for 100 pounds, saying, "I just wish to say three things to you - that is, (1) Keep this matter entirely to yourself, as I have not mentioned it to any of my colleagues; (2) There has been so much talk about Secret Service Money that I may as well say that I lend you my own money; (3) Though I am sure you may wish to repay the loan, till better times come don't let the thought of repayment be a worry or a trouble to you. I will write again about the magazine."
In Mr. Pigott's reply, dated the 14th of August, he said: "I acknowledge, with gratitude, cheque for 100 pounds. I am quite aware it is your own money, and though you are generous enough not to allow the payment to be a source of anxiety, I shall feel it a duty to refund the amount as soon as I can lay my hands on so much." (A laugh.)


Next was a letter from Mr. Forster (written by the secretary) to witness, dated December 9th, 1881, asking if a letter written by Mr. Pigott to Mr. Egan, and published in the Freeman, was really written by Mr. Pigott.
In Mr. Pigott's reply to Mr. Forster, the witness, referring to letters to Egan, published in the Freeman, said: "There are sentences and expressions in these letters which I did not write." In another letter, written by Mr. Pigott to Mr. Forster, the witness explained a boast he had made that he had means of knowing what was going on at the Castle by saying he had information of what transpired from a Mr. Macdermott, his brother-in-law, who was a Government auditor. He told witness (so the letter stated) that he and other Land Leaguers were to be arrested, but that the story was a hoax.


In a letter dated 16th of December, written by Pigott to Mr. Forster, the former enclosed a paragraph from United Ireland, by which (he said) Mr. Forster would see that Egan was trying to make it impossible for him (Pigott) to make a living. He also wrote, "I believe he has falsified the letters, as there are passages in them which I am all but certain I never wrote. The opposition of the Land League and my support of the Land Bill has brought me to ruin, and left me absolutely penniless. I am grateful to you for your generous help, but only regret that you regret having given it, and that you allow yourself to be deceived by the latest device of my enemies and yours to bring me to beggary." Mr. Pigott then asked Mr. Forster to assist him "to go to America." In a further letter he told Mr. Forster that he thought he had a claim on the Government for services he had rendered them, and considered Mr. Forster would be glad to satisfy that claim. The letter added that Mr. Pigott thought he had been unfairly treated, promises having been held out to him which had not been fulfilled.


You wrote an article in Macmillan's Magazine in December, 1881? - Yes.
Did you write on your own convictions then? - Yes.
Well, I will read a portion of it. In the course of the article Mr. Pigott stated that the Land League was started with the object of overcoming the secret party of Fenianism, and in order that everything might be carried on fairly and above board.
The reply of Mr. Forster to his letter disclaimed that Pigott had been ill-treated, and asserted that he must strongly deny that he employed Pigott to write for the Government, or held out any hope on the part of the Government. He hoped that the 20 pounds he gave him when he last saw him did not hurt his feelings - (laughter) - but he only gave it him because he felt so much sympathy for him.


The next letter from Mr. Pigott to Mr. Forster was dated the 26th of December, in which the writer said, "It is perfectly true you never engaged me to write in support of the Government, and it is true that the generous and substantial help was given with no other object to assist me." Mr. Pigott said he should loathe himself if he asked for further assistance; but in the next communication he asked for a loan, and pleaded that he was in "desperate straits," and "within a measurable distance of destitution." Mr. Forster replied, saying that the witness had no claim on the Government, but offering him 50 pounds if he would go to America. Mr. Pigott sent a prompt reply, remarking that he could not find words to express his gratitude, and adding, "I shall not know peace of mind until I have discharged my indebtedness to you." (Laughter.)
(The report will be continued.)

Source: The Echo, Friday February 22, 1889, pages 2-3

* N.B. It is abundantly clear that Mr. Parnell and his colleagues were very eager to ruin Mr. Pigott's newspaper, reputation and finances through heavy boycotting for Pigott having written articles, both in his newspaper and others' newspapers on the exploits of the Land League. Then, they all troop in en masse to pull the carpet out from under him by taking over his newspapers to publish their violent tripe, with the help of several other secret societies. The triumphant responses in the courtroom during the Commission, through the constant outbursts of laughter, after Pigott describes his destitution and poverty, show just how corrupt and awful these individuals are. They sound very familiar to me if you read certain message boards.


Mr. W.H. Gladstone has sent a letter to a Manchester gentleman relative to the extraordinary story about the Hawarden tenantry. Referring to an article in a Manchester paper, he declares that it is a very fair one, and he sent a reply to the effect that after full value had been allowed for the tenant's vested rights, he thinks the landlord has a right to the remainder. "But," he continues, "the further and all-important question is, if this condition were satisfied, how many of the Irish evictions could be justified. It is difficult, no doubt, to get the dust out of people's eyes when so much has been thrown into them, but I think if (failing other means) you were to come over here and inquire for yourself you would be satisfied. Due respect will always be paid by me to an occupation that has remained in one family for two hundred years (assuming the fact to be correct.) Still, is it to be pleaded that a tenant is for this reason to be allowed, by his own indolence and incapacity, to bring his landlord's property to ruin and himself to destitution? The tenant in question, I may remark, has not been "turned out," but remains in his house with all his furniture till the 1st of May. What has happened in each of these four cases may be defended as being right and just in itself, but much more than this, it was positive duty (too long delayed) which I owed to the great bulk of the tenants who were and are doing their duty both to their landlord and to themselves."


There is no truth whatever in the statement that Mr. Gladstone, "by converting his interest" in the Hawarden estate "into an annual charge upon the property, has made himself directly responsible for one of the arrangements, so strongly condemned in the case of Irish landlords, whereby the capacity of the limited owner to act generously is fatally curtailed." This allegation is described by the Daily News today as being absolutely and entirely untrue.

Karen Trenouth
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