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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 6 Mar 2013 - 9:18

One hundred and twentieth Day of Proceedings - Thursday, November 7, 1889


Boycotting was the theme of the earlier portion of Sir Henry James's speech this morning. He quoted a speech of Mr. Davitt in which that gentleman spoke of "boycotting a traitor to the cause of Ireland." In the use of the word, he said, Mr. Davitt was not counselling that moral suasion which Sir Charles Russell claimed as the right of every man to exercise. When Mr. Davitt used the word "traitor" - a word they would have to construe and deal with when they came to other matters - he knew what it meant, and his audience knew that it was handing over the very man who had been so regarded to those who had known in the past how to deal with traitors, according to their view, and did so deal with them. All the way through they found that when reference was made to the treatment of landgrabbers the audiences always understood what was meant, and regarded it as an incitement to physical force. At the same time, the words of the speaker might, perhaps, never be so construed by thinking people, but in the cases Sir Henry quoted he pointed to expressions from the crowd which showed conclusively their interpretation of the remarks.


This brought him to the celebrated speech of Mr. Parnell of September, 1883. In the course of that speech Mr. Parnell defined boycotting without any of the limitations to which Mr. Davitt had referred. He said, "Now, what are you to do for a tenant who bids for a farm from which his neighbour has been evicted?" Here a voice in the crowd exclaimed, "Shoot him!" "No," Mr. Parnell went on, "I wish to point out to you a better way, a more Christian, a more charitable way, which will give the lost sinner an opportunity of repenting. When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted, you must shun him in the roadside, when you meet him you must shun him in the streets of the town, at the shop counter, at the fair, and in the market place, and even in the house of worship, by leaving him severely alone, by putting him in a moral Coventry by isolating him as a leper of old, by showing him your detestation of the crime he has committed. You may depend upon it if this is carried out there will not be a man in the country who will be such a traitor as to take an evicted farm." Sir Henry submitted that where advice such as that fell from a person in the position of Mr. Parnell he must be held responsible for a great amount of the crime and outrage which followed, and which, perhaps, was the interpretation of the remarks by his hearers.


As the League grew, and the National League succeeded it, boycotting increased also. It was fashioned by experience and polished by all that human ingenuity could devise, until at length it became marked by incidents of a sad, cruel nature. In strong terms Sir Henry denounced boycotting. Did any nation, he asked, ever rise to freedom worthy the name by such methods? Could the nationality springing from such a source have truth, or good, or greatness in it? He placed the responsibility for such deeds as much upon those who counselled them as upon those who perpetrated them, and pointed to the fact that Mr. Parnell, and other leaders of the movement, did not come forward and plead ignorance of what was being done. Mr. Parnell had done nothing to rescue the victims from their terrible fate. He was content to leave them to fight their own battles against terrible odds - ay, and against a movement which was due to his inititiation, and was carried on with his knowledge, even with his consent. Mr. Matt Harris's expressions about boycotting were next referred to very extensively, Sir Henry James dwelling upon the celebrated "partridge speech," and detailing all the well-known facts connected with it.


Sir Henry especially brought before the attention of the Court the speech of the organiser of the Land League, Boyton, in which he said that if they must blow out the brains of an enemy to the cause, they should not wait for the cloak of darkness, but blow them out in daylight. That, said Sir Henry, came from a man who was a paid organiser of the League, a man who was appointed by them, with the consent of Mr. Parnell, a man who went forth at the behest of Mr. Parnell to disseminate the views of the Land League through Ireland. What was the result of such speeches? That a cloud of crime gathered over the heads of the Irish people. What the agitators sought had been gained - unsettlement was there, and crime was there.
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, Sir Henry asked - What did Mr. Parnell, this "Uncrowned King," this lawgiver of an "unwritten law," due to put a stop to crime? Mr. Davitt denounced crime, but what did Mr. Parnell do? Nothing. Why? Because "My engagements being at an end," Mr. Parnell, who could have obtained a willing audience in any town or village, left these outrages unchecked because his engagements were at an end. His words would have been the keynote for every other speaker, but his words were absent and his voice was dumb because he had no other engagement. So he went his way, leaving his party at their work, and their victims to their fate.
(The report will be continued.)

Mr. Balfour left Dublin last night, and arrived at Chester from Holyhead early this morning. Here he broke his journey, and was driven to Saighton Towers, on a visit to his secretary (Mr. G. Wyndham, M.P.). The hon. gentleman, as usual, was accompanied by two detectives.

Source: The Echo, Thursday November 7, 1889, Page 3

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

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