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Parnell Commission Inquiry Adjournment

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Parnell Commission Inquiry Adjournment

Post by Karen on Mon 7 Jan 2013 - 8:30


On April 19th, 1887, the very day after the appearance of the first fac-simile in the Times, the following article appeared in The Echo. It will be seen that from the first we foreshadowed the probable solution of the mystery: -

There has been a tremendous stir made about the fac-simile of a letter which appeared in yesterday's Times. That paper says that it was written by Mr. Parnell, while Mr. Parnell flatly and indignantly denies it. What proof has the Times given that Mr. Parnell was the author of the letter? Nothing beyond the fact that the signature closely resembles that of Mr. Parnell. Had the letter itself been in Mr. Parnell's handwriting, or had it as closely resembled his handwriting as the signature, though the whole letter might have been a forgery, people generally would believe that the letter was genuine. The letter is written by one hand and the signature by another, and the body of the letter is on one side of a sheet of notepaper, and the signature on the opposite side. This, it may be said, and is said, is only an artful method of writing a compromising letter to avoid detection. On the other hand, it may be said that writing a letter in one handwriting on one side of a sheet of notepaper, and forging a signature on the opposite side, is just the method a forger would adopt. Forgeries of signatures are only too common in the world. There are some people who can imitate other people's handwriting almost as easily as others can imitate their gestures or their voices. At the present moment feeling - and particularly feeling against Mr. Parnell and the Irish Party - is running unusually high. It is not unlikely, therefore, in the circumstances, that someone hating Mr. Parnell and all his works should forge his signature, and impose on the Times. Yesterday a Frenchman, who had for sixteen years nurtured revenge, tried to assassinate Marshal Bazaine, and it is not only possible, but within the limits of probability, that someone has attempted to stab Mr. Parnell - not with a sabre, but with a pen. Besides, nothing is more common than that public men should be asked for their signatures. No doubt the editor of the Times, and certainly the chief proprietor of the Times, has been asked for his autograph, and probably given it. We appeal to the experience of public men in this matter. Have they not been frequently asked for their autographs? And who is more likely than Mr. Parnell to be so asked? And who is more likely to oblige? And, if given, what more likely form would it take than "Yours very truly, Chas. S. Parnell" on the top of a sheet of notepaper, or exactly as it appears in fac-simile in the Times. It is not unlikely, if the truth were known, that Mr. Parnell has given his autograph in this form scores of times during the last few years, and, if so, how comparatively easy for any passionate opponent or evil-disposed person, who might be in possession of one of those autographs, to forge a letter on the opposite page. We do not say that this has been done. We only say it may be easily done; and, unfortunately, there is not wanting motive just now to do it. The Times has given the world the fac-simile of a letter. It is for the Times to prove that the original is genuine. It has not even attempted to prove it. Where was the letter posted? Where is the envelope with the postmark on it? Anyone who would keep such a letter would probably keep the envelope. The fact is that, up to the present, there has been a great cry and little wool; and unless the Times is prepared to give more evidence than it has published it has made a mistake. Unless the Times can sustain the position it has assumed in reference to the letter it will have weakened many of its recent utterances. The articles entitled "Parnellism and Crime" must be judged according to the facts they revealed. It is altogether different with the alleged letter. That may be a fact, or it may be a fiction, and as it is more likely to be a fiction than a fact, it consequently tends to weaken rather than strengthen the indictment preferred in "Parnellism and Crime."

Source: The Echo, Thursday February 28, 1889, page 2

Last edited by Karen on Tue 8 Jan 2013 - 8:19; edited 1 time in total

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

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Re: Parnell Commission Inquiry Adjournment

Post by Karen on Mon 7 Jan 2013 - 10:29



The London Correspondent of the Sheffield Independent says: - Two detectives were yesterday despatched from Scotland-yard, and though the authorities are very reticent on the subject, they have, I believe, come up with Pigott, and his arrest will take place immediately. In the meantime there is no danger of his escaping. To use Mr. Healy's term, he is "shadowed" both by the French and English police, and the coils of the net are being silently drawn around him.


Still, there is no definite tidings of the man. Is he in Paris? Has he gone to Spain? Is Switzerland his destination? Has be been to Antwerp? These are questions which now concern the public. There is, so far, nothing certain in evidence to show that the absconded witness made his way to the French capital. The letter sent from thence, and dated Hotel des Deux Mondes, is by no means proof positive that it came from that hostelry, or that if it did it was posted by the self-confessed forger. Immediately on receipt of the missive produced before the Special Commission telegrams were despatched to Paris and inquiries made at the hotel named; but these investigations only resulted in showing that nothing was known there of the missing witness, and, further, that all the names on the register were those of persons well known. Beyond this there was nothing to connect any visitor to the hotel with the man fleeing from justice; except the fact, reported in a telegram received through Reuter's Agency, according to which a man speaking English, whose description fairly agrees with that of Pigott, called at the hotel on Tuesday morning, obtained paper with the name of the hotel upon it, and forwarded a letter to London. This person gave no name, and left immediately after breakfasting. It appears from a Paris Correspondent's telegram that Pigott was accustomed to put up at the Hotel de St. Petersbourg, which is doubtless precisely the last place to which he would under existing circumstances resort. It is, as a fact, not considered very probable by the police that the fugitive would remain in the French metropolis, but at least as likely that Switzerland or Spain might be his destination, so as to be less liable to extradition. Of course it is, on the other hand, quite possible that Pigott actually posted the letter received by Mr. Shannon at Paris, stopping at the station for that purpose on his way to Spain or Switzerland.


Currency was given yesterday to the report that he had been seen in the Strand, on Tuesday afternoon, fully an hour after the warrant for his arrest had been issued by the Royal Commission. It was given out that he had entered the shop of a tradesman with whom he had previously had dealings, and changed a cheque for 25 pounds. It is the case that a transaction of this kind did take place in the Strand, but it was on Monday, not Tuesday, and then it has been ascertained that Pigott obtained a sum of over 25 pounds in settlement of an account for books left with Messrs. Sotheby for sale. It seems he called at Mr. Sotheby's about two o'clock and asked for a cheque for the balance of the account due to him for the books, with the particular request that the cheque might not be crossed. Mr. Hodge, jun., one of the partners of the firm, was not able to oblige the applicant at the moment, and he went out. Later in the day Mr. Hodge, having also been out, found on returning that Pigott had received a cheque for 25 pounds 15s. 6d. on Messrs. Prescott's Bank, Threadneedle-street, and this cheque Pigott presented at the bank and obtained for it notes and gold about four o'clock the same afternoon. Soon after that time he was seen in Fleet-street, and since then all trace of him has been lost. All that is positive is that cashing the cheque supplied the funds with which he may have made the trip to the Continent, or with which possibly expenses are being defrayed nearer home.


It has been stated that the warrants issued for perjury and contempt of Court would not avail to secure Pigott's extradition, nor would the offence of forgery, to which the fugitive has confessed, inasmuch as it is not the forgery of an instrument of monetary value. This is a mistake. Perjury is an extraditable offence. There are, however, it would seem, other grounds on which the absconder is wanted, both in England and France. One of the allegations against the absent man is that he has been dealing with certain vendors of offensive books in Paris, and that if he were recognised there he would at once be arrested, on account of moneys due to them; while on this side of the Channel there are, it is alleged, sundry bills drawn and accepted by Pigott that would provide basis for an extradition claim.


With regard to the alleged delay that took place in the transmission of the Pigott warrant to Scotland-yard, it is pointed out that in consequence of the formalities necessarily attendant on the application made to Mr. Vaughan, Mr. Parnell and his party were not able to leave Bow-street until five o'clock, and that the extradition warrant for perjury was by them placed in the hands of Inspector Conquest. Moreover, the gentleman holding possession of the Bench warrant issued by the Commissioners on Sir Charles Russell's application had that warrant transmitted by hand from Ely-place (the offices of Messrs. Lewis and Lewis) immediately on his arrival there, but he did not reach Ely-place until half-past five in the afternoon, the interim having been filled up by duties at the Commissioners' Court, and afterwards at Bow-street.


Patrick Casey gives Pigott the lie. He strongly denies that he ever had any dealings with him beyond calling at the Hotel de St. Petersbourg, in response to a card left upon him. Casey's brother Joseph, who is always amiable to Irishmen visiting Paris, saw Pigott several times, but there was never any question of letters. Patrick Casey adds that Pigott has already tried to saddle the letters upon Eugene Davis, saying that Davis gave them to him at Lausanne. This also he believes to be utterly false. On the subject of the bag and letters left by Byrne at a hotel in Paris, Casey is equally positive. When Byrne was arrested at the instigation of English detectives in Paris, all the luggage was seized, minutely examined, and inventoried. Letters of this kind would have never been allowed to go out of the hands of the emissaries of the Home Office. The whole story is a concoction.


PARIS, Feb. 28 (10:22 a.m.) - A representative of Mr. Parnell's solicitors who came to Paris on Monday, and has been searching for Pigott for two days, has returned to London without succeeding in his mission. He is convinced that Pigott is not in this city.

Detectives, in addition to ordinary police, are watching the arrival steamers at North Wall, Dublin, and Kingstown, close to which Pigott has resided.


There is a singular story told this morning of the documents which were at Pigott's house, and were said to have been destroyed. This is what a Correspondent of the New York Herald says: -
"You've seen the statement, of course, that among the letters of Pigott which were seized at the hotel in Fleet-street, was one the postscript of which stated that his housekeeper had, according to instructions, burnt the contents of a certain black box which was secreted in his house. As a matter of fact, the contents of that box were not burnt, but were handed over to a certain party for a consideration, and ultimately came into the hands of Sir Charles Russell. It is said that these precious documents were in his hands that morning when the postscript was read in Court; and a bomb-shell large enough to shake the country would have exploded had Pigott reappeared in the box."
Pigott was - the same authority declares - at least faithful to one man. That man was Isaac Butt. His identity as the writer of the article called the "Holocaust," he never revealed, although he suffered imprisonment for it. He kept Butt's name secret for best of all reasons - that he regularly blackmailed Butt, under the promise not to reveal his name, to the extent of between 200 pounds and 300 pounds a year.


Michael Flannery is alive. He is the Irishman who is supposed to have been murdered on the Continent. Yesterday he was in the Law Courts. "Pigott (said he to an interviewer of the New York Herald) had an accomplice. It will come out some day. He was an Irishman of literary attainments who was disowned by Mr. Parnell, and who vowed vengeance against him. I could prove it, but I cannot mention names. He left England suddenly when the Commission began, and is now abroad. He tried to betray the Convention of Extremists, held in Paris, and is nothing but a spy. The end of this Commission will be the taking of the lives of, at least, two traitors." "Do you intend to remain in London," asked the interviewer. "Why not? But that, of course, I cannot answer. I should only like to say that the Invincible, and Clan-na-Gael, have, as a rule, been quite opposed to Parnell, and that at one time he was to have been murdered. The lots were drawn at the Hotel du Grand Corf, at St. Ouen L'Aumone. The task fell to Meehan, who left the brotherhood, and is now in a Trappist monastery in France."


The Times, this morning, referring to recent proceedings before the Parnell Commission, after quoting the statement made yesterday by the Attorney-General, at the sitting of the Special Commission, in regard to Pigott's evidence and final confession, says: -

We desire to endorse and to appropriate every word of the foregoing statement. It is our wish, as it is our duty, to give expression to that feeling of sincere regret to which the Attorney-General referred. It was obvious that, after Pigott, on his own showing, had proved himself to be a person utterly unworthy of credit, and after he had made two confessions, varying in detail, but both admitting that the letters which he had produced were tainted with forgery, our duty was unreservedly to withdraw these letters from the consideration of the Judges. Moreover, Mr. Parnell having in the witness-box stated that the letters attributed to him were forgeries, we accept in every respect the truth of that statement. In these circumstances we deem it right to express our regret most fully and sincerely at having been induced to publish the letters in question as Mr. Parnell's, or to use them in evidence against him. This expression of regret, we need hardly say, includes also the letters falsely attributed to Mr. Egan, Mr. Davitt, and Mr. O'Kelly. It is clear now that Pigott was guilty of a gross and disgraceful fraud when he produced the documents which reached our hands. Into the circumstances under which we received and published them it is scarcely fitting we should enter. Nor shall we now refer to the grounds, apart from Pigott's testimony, on which we considered ourselves to be justified in dealing with these letters as genuine documents. To do so would be to touch upon controversial matter which cannot for the present be properly dealt with in these columns. We are bound, however, to point out that though Pigott was the source from whence the letters came, and though they were thus contaminated by their origin, he was not the person with whom we communicated, and who placed the documents in our hands. Moreover, we must add that we firmly believed the letters to be genuine until the disclosures made by Pigott in the course of his cross-examination.


We heard on Tuesday of "a conspiracy behind Pigott and Houston," but it must be evident to all reasonable persons that, if a conspiracy existed, the Times was victimised by it and not a party to it. Errors in judgment may have been committed, and for them the penalty must be paid. What we have done, it must be clearly understood, has been done by us in the public interest alone. It has been done, moreover, altogether of our own motion and upon our own responsibility. We regarded the undertaking on which we entered as one of national importance, but we must enter an emphatic protest against attempts to make any statesman or any political party conjointly responsible with us for acts which were exclusively our own. We may point out, further, that it is absurd to take us to task for not having at once abandoned the portion of the case dependent upon the letters at an earlier stage of Pigott's examination. We were responsibly advised that it was not within our right or power to express any opinion on the evidence of a witness still under examination, and could not offer any view of our own until that witness's cross-examination was concluded. As soon as the incidents affecting Pigott's flight had been inquired into, our counsel at once asked for an adjournment for the purpose of considering the most proper form in which to present our withdrawal of the letters from the consideration of the Commission. This withdrawal, of course, refers exclusively to the letters obtained from Pigott, and not to the other portions of the case embraced in the "charges and allegations," which still remain the subject of judicial inquiry. Our desire is simply to express deep regret for the error into which we were led, and to withdraw unreservedly those parts of our original statements which we cannot honestly continue to maintain.

* In other words, the Times is only withdrawing the letters obtained from Pigott, but are not withdrawing the charges and allegations of violent crime having occurred (and still occurring) in Ireland. They are, in essence, stating that the violent crimes are the most important facet of the Parnell Commission, and not the forged letters. Just because Parnell and his Irish Party did not write the letters forged by Pigott, that doesn't mean that Parnell and his party were not involved in the violent crimes in Ireland.



When Lord Hartington rose to address the great Unionist meeting at Norwich last night, he declared that the policy of their opponents had been to distract the attention of the country from the great and vital questions which were at stake, and to raise every kind of side issue, to divert the minds of the constituencies from the real point at stake. (Cries of "Times!" and "Pigott!" at once greeted this remark.) Well (said his Lordship) that was one very important side issue raised. He had carefully considered whether it was possible for him properly to say anything upon that subject, which had excited the greatest interest in the public mind at the present moment. He had, however, come to the conclusion that he could not even touch upon that question, or upon the subjects which were now being discussed before a judicial Commission, without going into matters which had not yet been fully cleared up - (hear, hear) - and going into matters which were still the subject of judicial investigation.


He hoped that in taking that course there was no one, even of his opponents, who would attribute that reticence on his part to any but the real motive. He hoped that at all events he was not so foolish, if he could be so cowardly, as to think that they could permanently avoid a full and open discussion of every subject which had been brought before the Parliamentary Commission. He would not, if it were in his power, postpone the public discussion for a single moment, but he believed that that discussion could only be usefully and fairly entered into when the inquiry had been completely and finally concluded, and when the facts, as a whole, produced before the Commission could be submitted to full and public examination. (Cheers.)


No one who had watched the conduct of Mr. Balfour (proceeded Lord Hartington, at once adverting to charges which had been made against the Chief Secretary) - (cheers and groans) - in Parliament could deny him the possession both of physical and moral courage. Charges had been made against him which would disgrace the greatest moral and physical coward, but the result had been that he (Lord Hartington) believed that today there were thousands in Scotland, England, and even in Ireland, who felt the calumnious, base, and unfounded charges upon that statesman to be almost as much personal insult to themselves as if they had been levelled at their own heads.


Mr. Morley had never descended to calumnious and base charges of that description. He boldly attacked what he believed to be a wrong and pernicious system, but had abstained from those personal calumnies which added nothing to the force of argument, and which did nothing but disgrace the persons who uttered them. But what was Mr. Morley's argument? He could not deny that offences against the law had been committed, although it was a matter of congratulation that the number of outrages had now greatly decreased. There was no higher duty that the law was called upon to perform than to render it possible for all men to perform the contracts into which they had entered, to do that which they had a right to do so long as they did not injure the rights of their neighbours, and, above all, to exercise the first right of every citizen to earn his own living, if possible to improve his position in life by his own honest, unchecked, and untrammeled industry. (Cheers.) He would avow his own conviction that in the first and prior duty of the law there was no distinction between conspiracies to deprive individuals of their inherent rights and conspiracies from so-called political motives.


They found the Irish Members recommending practices which led to the commission of outrage, and palliating those practices. Well, then, if Mr. Morley admitted as he did, that the law should deal with offences of that description, was he prepared to contend that the leaders of the organisation were to go free when the minor agents were fitting subjects for the punishment of the law? He (Lord Hartington) denied that Mr. Morley had proved his case that conciliation was the first duty of Government. Mr. John Morley appeared to argue that it was a bad policy to punish popular leaders, but if that were logically carried out, they would have our Judges elected by the popular voice, and would let them know that what they had to do was not to administer justice impartially between man and man, but to protect the strong and powerful, and to abandon to the mercy of their opponents all those who were weak and defenceless and unprotected. As to the treatment of political prisoners, his lordship said that he was willing there should be a difference in their treatment from that of ordinary prisoners; but if the distinction was to be drawn it should be drawn up by Act of Parliament, and not left to the Judges, or still less to the Executive Government.


Nothing had happened (declared Lord Hartington), which had altered the view the Liberal Unionists took respecting the proposals made by Mr. Gladstone's Government. (Cheers and hisses.) On the contrary, all that happened since then had tended to strengthen their objections, and, in their opinions, their arguments. Efforts would be made to divert their attention to every species of side issue, but he relied upon the sense, judgement, steadfastness, firmness, and courage of his fellow-citizens in Great Britain to put aside that which was not essential, and to concentrate their attention upon the greatest principles on which alone they ought to form their final and conclusive verdict. (Loud cheers.)

Source: The Echo, Thursday February 28, 1889, page 3

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

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Re: Parnell Commission Inquiry Adjournment

Post by Karen on Mon 7 Jan 2013 - 10:35


The Press Association's Downpatrick Correspondent telegraphs: - This morning Laurence Hanlon, who is now undergoing sentence of penal servitude for life, and Edward McCaffrey, who was sentenced to ten years' penal servitude, both in connection with the Phoenix Park murders, left the convict prison at Downpatrick, in charge of warders and police, for London, to give evidence before the Special Commission. McCaffrey is also to be summoned at the trial of Molloy at the Old Bailey for perjury.

Source: The Echo, Thursday February 28, 1889, page 4

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