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8                    CIIAELES  STEWART PAENELL             [1883
onslaught made upon him; he alone remained unmoved. ' Parnell, Parnell,' English members shouted again and again. A scornful smile was Parnell's only response. The discussion seemed about to collapse when an English member interposed to avert a division. The Irish members got around their Chief, and urged him to reply on the instant. He refused. His colleagues persevered. Finally he yielded to their importunities, and at the close of the night's proceedings moved the adjournment of the debate. ' He did not want to answer Forster at all,' says Mr. Justin McCarthy; 1 we had to force him.*
On February 23 the House met in a state of intense excitement. The approaches were thronged, the lobbies crowded, the galleries full; members themselves had scarcely standing room. Among the distinguished strangers who looked down upon the scene the portly figure of the Prince of Wales and the refined, ascetic face of Cardinal Manning ware conspicuous.
Parnell sat amongst his followers, calm, dignified, frigid, quietly awaiting the summons of the Speaker to resume the debate. It came. He rose slowly and deliberately, and in chilling, scornful accents began : ' I can assure the House that it is not my belief that anything I can say at this time will have the slightest effect on the public opinion of this House, or upon the public opinion of the country' (a pause); then, raising his head proudly, looking defiantly around, and speaking with marked emphasis : ' I have been accustomed during my political life to rely upon the public opinion of those whom I have desired to help, and with whose aid I have worked for the cause of prosperity and freedom in Ireland, and the utmost I desire to do in the very few words I shall address to the House is to