yEx. 44] THE LIBERALS 269
in Brighton—" a most remarkable man, a most extraordinary man," he said. "But what about this divorce case ? " I asked. " Parnell will come off all right; he has assured me so," he replied. " But," I said, " suppose he does not come off all right. Suppose he is found guilty of adultery, as we all believe he is, will he retire"? " " He will not," said Mr. Morley. " He will remain where he is, and he is quite right." " Well," I said, "if he remains you must be prepared to face the Nonconformists ; they won't stand it." '
It is but just to Mr. Morley to say that he was personally animated by the friendliest feeling towards the Irish leader. Even after the divorce proceedings he was not without hope that the storm might yet be weathered. This hope was dispelled at the Sheffield meeting. There he met the Nonconformists, and quickly came to the conclusion that the only course open to the Liberal leader in the interest of the Liberal party was to throw Parnell to the lions.
I asked a distinguished Tory to give me his view of the crisis, and I set out here what he said because, though coming from what might be regarded as a prejudiced source, I believe his statement is a fairly accurate summing up of the situation as far as the Liberal leaders were concerned. He said : * I cannot conceive why the Irish gave up Parnell. He was everything to them. He was the centre of the whole enterprise, and the idea that things could go on after his overthrow exactly as they went on before seems to me to be absolutely fatuous. I cannot think even now that Gladstone wished Parnell to go; he must have known too much of the man and too much of the movement I think Gladstone was forced into the pit. You remember the meeting at Sheffield—what do they call Ins ;