Skip to main content

Full text of "The Life Of Charles Stewart Parnell Vol - I"

See other formats

--Ex. SI]                        OBSTRUCTION                               107
In 1876 Parnell had already fleshed his sword. In the spring of 1877 he regularly opened the obstruction campaign. He singled out the Mutiny Bill and the Prisons Bill for attack. Anyone reading c Hansard' now would see nothing unusual in his proceedings. For anything that appears to the contrary, he might have been influenced by a bond-fide desire to improve both measures. * Parnell excelled us all,' said one of his obstructive colleagues, ' in obstructing as if he were really acting in the interests of the British legislators.' He was cool, calm, business-like, always kept to the point, and rarely became aggressive in voice or manner. Sometimes he would give way with excellent grace, and with a show of conceding much to his opponents ; but he never abandoned his main purpose, never relinquished his determination to harass and punish the ' enemy.' The very quietness of his demeanour, the orderliness with which he carried out a policy of disorder, served only to exasperate, and even to enrage, his antagonists. One night an Irish member proposed that the committee on the Irish Prisons Bill should be put off, as the Irish members * would shortly have to attend the grand juries at the assizes in Ireland/ This was barefaced obstruction. But Parnell would have none of it. Rising with the dignity of a Minister responsible for the despatch of public business, he said: 'I think the business of the nation should be attended to before local affairs, and therefore the attendance at the grand juries is no reason for postponing the committee.' Who could charge this man with obstruction? Upon another occasion he moved an amendment to the English Prisons Bill. Mr. Newdegate (who had sometimes gone ink) the same lobby with him in the divisions on the Bill, for