Page images
PDF
EPUB

assassination. The charge was that he and his companions showed a levity which disregarded what a man might do, so long as that man was a foreign patriot.

The “ Timesof March 15, 1864, had a leading article on the subject, which is not without its application to the present circumstances. The right honorable gentleman was not then in the flush and heyday of youth. He was able to judge whether Mazzini and his associates and satellites were what they were represented to be. The “ Times” said —

“ Who, then, is this M. Mazzini, to whose innocence this gentleman [Mr. Stansfeld] and Mr. W. E. Forster pledge . themselves ? Let any one read the passages quoted by Mr. Hennessy last night, and say whether the friends of M. Mazzini have any right to indulge in high-flown indignation when it is alleged that he might possibly be engaged in a conspiracy against a potentate's life.”

I ask whether the right honorable member for Bradford was justified in seizing at the chance of high-flown indignation because the newspaper that accused him then of sympathy with assassination accuses some of us now of the same thing. I wonder that the memory of that episode in his career has not made him more generous — yes, I will say, more honest

toward men whom, in his heart, he no more believes to be guilty of that charge than honorable men then believed him to be.

I pass from that not uninstructive incident to the right honorable gentleman's attack on Irish members, and the grounds on which that attack was made. He had something to say about myself in connection with “ United Ireland," a paper published in Dublin. He said much the same thing about a year ago. He then went over the story of some articles that he said appeared in that paper. I believe they were

not articles, but headings of paragraphs; and he appealed to me, though I was not in my place at the time, to know whether I approved of all these various paragraphs and headings.

Now, the right honorable gentleman must have known at all events he might have known that I could not have seen that newspaper then. He knew that I had been out of England the whole of that recess, from the end of one session to the beginning of another. [An Irish member: “Ho did.”]

He did, and he said so himself in this House, for he indulged in some more or less graceful satire at my expense, and complained that, instead of helping to keep order in Ireland, I had been enjoying myself among the monuments of ancient Greece.

But since I was so culpable as to be enjoying myself among the monuments of ancient Greece, and in countries much farther off, he might have known that it was not likely that a Dublin paper followed me in all my wanderings. He knew that at the time he was speaking - at the time he was so playfully chiding me for the amusement of the House — he must have known that that paper was prevented from coming into this country; and though I made strenuous efforts shortly after to get copies of it, and see if it contained the terrible things it was said to contain, I was unable to obtain a copy. .

However, I allow that to pass. It would not much matter if the right honorable gentleman could have sustained his charge. If he had not returned to it, I should not have cared to raise it. But I am quite willing to tell him, if it affords him the slightest interest, the history of my connection with that paper. It was started to get rid of a notorious print, which appears lately to have lived by the levying of blackmail in Dublin. It was founded by a committee of gentlemen in whom I have the greatest trust; and the editorship was given to a man whom I regard and respect, and whom I know to be incapable of conducting a journal on the principles the right honorable gentleman described.

Under these conditions I felt content, having no control over the paper, to go abroad among the monuments of ancient Greece, and to leave the paper in the hands of the able editor who has already shown his ability in this House. I did not inquire in my absence how he conducted it. I know he conducted it honorably and well; and we have learned that the only things the right honorable gentleman objects to are the paragraphs and headings which got into the paper while he had the responsible editor under lock and key in one of his prisons.

I have said enough on that point. I do not believe that any investigation would convict that editor of publishing any articles which men of honor would be ashamed to sanction.

The right honorable gentleman went over many points with the object of associating me and others with plots and assassinations. For example, he spoke of a telegram sent by Mr. Brennan, who was the correspondent of the “Irish World,” to that paper. The telegram is given variously in the different journals, but I would ask the right honorable gentleman, Is this which I am about to read the right version ?

All sorts of theories are afloat concerning this explosion” that is the Salford dynamite explosion—“but the truly · loyal one is that Fenianism did it.”

What is the plain and evident meaning of that? Is it not that the fashionable and loyal theory, as a matter of course,

is that the Fenians did it? I ask the right honorable gentleman, is not that the manifest meaning? [Mr. W. E. Forster.-“I would ask the honorable member to read the remainder of the telegram.”] I quote the whole of the printed version I have. The right honorable gentleman charged me with deliberate avoidance of reading articles in order that I might be able to say I do not know of the incitement to assassination they contained. Then he said:

“I expect, or suspect”-probably suspect, it is more in his line“I suspect the honorable member”—meaning myself

-“ has been careful not to read the articles to which I refer."

The charge is, perhaps, hardly parliamentary. There was a rude interruption last night, which we all regret, to an imputation which ought not to have been made; but the right honorable gentleman is allowed to say: “I suspect the honorable member has been careful not to read the articles to which I refer."

The whole theory and purpose of his declamation and defamation was to make members of this House responsible for every violent act done, and every violent word said, by any supposed follower of his in this country or America. I should like to know how that theory would apply to the right honorable gentleman.

The right honorable gentleman has not forgotten the riots which occurred in the Reform years, nor the men who got up those riots.

He has not forgotten the riot which led to the breaking down of the Hyde Park railings, and the maiming and wounding of many of the mob and some policemen. The right honorable gentleman and his friends came back to power on that smash of the Hyde Park railings.

The right honorable gentleman was well acquainted with the leader of the democratic movement the late Mr. Beales. [Mr. W. E. Forster.-“I did not know him personally.”] Neither do I know personally those who have uttered these violent words and done these violent acts in Ireland, for which I am sought to be made responsible. Mr. Beales is dead. Mr. Beales was a man of honor and courage. I knew him and I respected him. But he certainly got around him, and could not help getting around him, men of very odd character and very odd pretensions. Does the right honorable gentleman remember a certain Mr. Joseph Leicester, a famous glassblower? [Mr. W. E. Forster.-“I do not remember him.”]

He does not remember him? As a famous actress said on one occasion, “What a candor; but what a memory!” At the time Mr. Leicester's name used to appear in every London newspaper every morning. This distinguished supporter of the right honorable gentleman's party went to a great meeting one day—a great trades' demonstration, held, I think, in Trafalgar Square-and this was part of the speech of Joseph Leicester. There was then, as there has been more lately, a kind of rush and raid on the House of Commons to force them to pass a certain bill, and this was what this demagogue here said:

“The question is, were they to suffer those little-minded, decrepit, hump-backed, one-eyed scoundrels, who call themselves the House of Commons, to defraud them any longer of their rights?"

I was not a member of the House of Commons then and did not come in for any part of that lively personal descrip tion; but I ask the right honorable gentleman if some one as nearly connected with the honorable member for the city of Cork as Mr. Leicester was with the right honorable gentleman, had used words of that description to a meeting of Irish

« PreviousContinue »