170 CIIAELES STEWART PAKNELL [1886
was the author of the Plan of Campaign ? ' I asked one behind the scenes. He answered : ' "William O'Brien. It came about in this way. Parnell really desired peace. He was ill for one thing,1 for another he .wanted to reconsider the whole situation. Gladstone .was converted to Home Eule. We now had friends in .England. A new condition of things had arisen. How was it to be dealt with ? That was one of the problems which Parnell had to face, and he was anxious for breathing-time to look round.
' His Land Bill would have secured peace by preventing the exaction of impossible rents. But the Government would not have it. They soon found out their mistake. They desired peace too. They were anxious to govern without coercion. They wished to be in a position to say : " The Home Eule Bill has .been rejected, but Ireland is perfectly quiet. The Liberals could not rule by the ordinary law ; we can. Ireland is contented." The excellent intentions of the Government were baffled by their own friends. As the autumn approached the landlords demanded their rents. The tenants asked for reductions. The landlords refused. The tenants held out. Writs of eviction were issued, and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach suddenly saw his hopes of a peaceful Ireland gravely jeopardised. He appealed to the landlords not to insist on their " rights." Sir Eedvers Buller,* who had been sent to the south on some special mission, supported the Chief Secretary in his efforts to stay the hand o.f the evictor. But the landlords were implacable. It was at this stage that William O'Brien proposed to take action. The efforts of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach to keep the landlords in check were the talk of the
. l * Sick unto death ' is Mr. Healy's expression. smoothing over <difficulties, making peace, and holding us together:' the Home tittle Bill