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304                CHARLES STEWART PARNELL            [L890
Davitt attacked him for ' appealing in his desperation to the hillside men and the Fenian sentiment of the country/ adding : ' It would be a piece of criminal folly in Mr. Parnell to lead the young men of the country to face the might of England in the field.1 Parnell replied in a stirring speech, addressed to the ' physical force men/ from the window of the Victoria Hotel, Kilkenny, defining his position towards them with characteristic precision and frankness :
11 have, in answer to this, to announce, in no undecided tones and with a clear voice, that I have appealed to no section of my country. My appeal has been made to the whole Irish race, and if the young men are distinguished amongst my supporters it is because they know what I have promised them I will do* I have not promised to lead them against the armed might of England. I have told them that, so long as I can maintain an independent Irish party in the English Parliament, there is hope of winning our legislative independence by constitutional means. I have said that, and I repeat it to-night. Hear it again. So long as we can keep our Irish party pure and undefiled from any contact or fusion with any English parliamentary party, independent and upright, there is good reason for us to hope that we shall win legislative independence for Ireland by constitutional means. So long as such a party exists I will remain at its head. But when it appears to me that it is impossible to obtain Home Bule for Ireland by constitutional means, I have said this—and this is the extent and limit of my pledge, that is the pledge which has been accepted by the young men of Ireland, whom Michael Davitt in his derision calls the hillside men—I have said that when it is cleax to me that I can no longer hope to obtainnot to treat/tct opinion tif tin*an umlorfctand what ft