Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/259

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
219
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

only reply from Sir William Vernon Harcourt, "The Queen will not accord a full pardon to Michael Davitt."

The following July Mr. Gladstone carried his warfare on the Irish members to the extent of expelling Mr. Parnell and twenty-three others from the House of Commons, because they had "obstructed" the passage of his Coercion bill. The act was prearranged and the victims singled out. One of them at least, Mr. O'Donnell, had been absent from the House all night, and was therefore absolutely innocent of the alleged offense. Sir Lyon Playfair, when challenged to show in what way Mr. Parnell had obstructed the proceedings, said: "I admit, Mr. Parnell, that you have not obstructed the bill, or spoken much during its progress, but you belong to the party; I have therefore considered myself entitled to include you in the suspension." The Coercion bill was one of the most atrocious ever passed, even by the English Parliament; one of its clauses gave power to a judge, without a jury, to pass sentence of death on any person or persons for writing or speaking what he (the judge) might be pleased to consider treason. Mr. Gladstone sought to have some slight modification incorporated in the bill, but the Tories united with the English Whigs in defeating him. O'Reilly placed the responsibility where it belonged, when he wrote:

There will be a day of reckoning for this, and when it comes England shall vainly invoke the pity she so ruthlessly denies her victims now in the insolence of her power. Coercion will fail as it has failed before, but the spirit that dictated it will be remembered; for it is the voice of England, not of this or that party; or, to speak more accurately, it is the voice of England's rulers. The English may be misled by their rulers in this matter, for to-day it is the peasantry of Ireland who are to be dragooned into silence. To-morrow it may be those of England or Scotland. Always it is the people who must be kept in their place, that their "betters" may be left in luxury and idleness. God speed the day when the people shall know and take their true place! That day will come all the sooner when Englishmen and Scotchmen learn that the cause of Ireland is their cause.

On July 20 the cause of Irish patriotism lost as devoted