Page:Men of the Time, eleventh edition.djvu/883

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.



uient, but during the Session of 1876 he attracted^some attention hy engaging in one or two prolonged and stubborn conflicts with the Go vemment. In Feb., 1877, he made his first appearance as a legislator, introducing *' The Irish Church Act Amendment Bill," the object of which was to facilitate the purchase of their holdings by the tenantry of the disestablished Irish Church ; the bill was thrown out by 150 to 110 votes. The introduction of the Prisons Bill by Sir Bichard (then Mr.) Cross, gave rise to the first real development of the principle of what was known as the " active ** jx)licy to the Irish, and the i)olicy of " obstruction " to the English people. The various clauses of the measure were obstinately opposed ; and when attempts were made to force the bill through at a late hour, there were repeated motions for adjournment. A similar course was pursued on the Mutiny Bill, hostility being chiefly directed against the flogging clauses ; and scenes of much passion and excite- ment frequently occurred. Mr. Courtney, Mr. E. Jenkins, and other Liberal members, were strongly opposed to the South Africa Bill, which authorised, among other things, the annexa- tion of the Transvaal. Mr. Pamell joined in the attack upon the Go- vernment; and, on the 31st July, the House sat for 22 hours — ^from a quarter to four on a Tuesday till two in the afternoon of the follow- ing Wednesday. Mr. Pamell came into serious collision in the course of this Session, both with Sir Staf- ford Northcote, the then leader of the House of Commons, and Mr. Butt, then leader of the Irish party. Sir Stafford Northcote moved a re- solution on one occasion for Mr. Pamell's suspension, which, after varying fortunes, had finally to be abandoned, in order to give way for some New Bules against " obstruc- tion ** generally. Mr. Butt con- demned the policy of Mr. Parnell,

both by letters and speeches; but it soon became apparent that the action of the younger man was the more popular among the Irish people. In the beginning of 1878, Mr. Pamell was elected President, instead of Mr. Butt, of the Irish organisation in England, known &b the Home Rule Confederation, and from this time forward Mr. Bntt practically ceased to be the leader of the Irish party. The sessions of 1878 and 1879 were practically a repetition of the proceedings of 1877. In 1878, a conmiittee was appointed to discuss the best means for putting down ob- struction," and Mr. Pamell was appointed a member, and took an active part in examining the various witnesses called. The hostility of Mr. PameU. was chiefly directed in these years to the use of the lash ; and finally, in 1879, he succeeded in having it aboli^ed. At the close of the session of 1879, Mr. Pamell entered u}>on a new and important epoch in his career. There had been a succession of three bad harvests in Ireland ; the country was threatened with deep and wide-spread distress ; and the time was ripe for starting a new movement for reform of the rela- tions between landlord and tenant. A meeting had been held in Irish- town, CO. Mayo, in the previous April, but it was not till June that Mr. Pamell formally joined the new land movement. It was on this occasion that he uttered as the keynote of the coming struggle the words, "Keep a firm grip of your homesteads." On the 21st of Oc- tober following, the " Irish National Land League was founded, and Mr. Pamell was elected the first President. The objects of the new organisation were declared to be "first, to bring about a reduction of rack-rents ; secondly, to facilitate the obtaining of the ownership of the soil by the occupiers." In December of the same year, he sailed for America^ in order to i-aiae