^Ei. 31] CONTKOVERSY WITH BUTT 117
is impossible not to see that your action in the House is considered both by friends and enemies as an organised system of policy adopted not for English but for Irish purposes, and one which both friends and enemies do not hesitate to describe as a policy "of obstruction/'
'1 feel that I am in a position in which I can judge of the effect that is likely to be produced by any " policy of obstruction." It must tend to alienate from us our truest and our best English friends.
'It must waste in aimless and objectless obstruction the time which we might, in some form or other, obtain for the discussion of Irish grievances. It must expose us to the taunts of being unfit to administer even the forms of representative government, and even of discrediting and damaging every movement we make.
' But, if I urge these grounds of prudence, I am not insensible of that which is higher than all prudence— the duty of maintaining before the civilised world the dignity of the Irish nation and the Irish cause. That will only be done while we respect ourselves and our duties to the assembly of which we are members—an assembly to degrade which is to strike a blow at representative institutions all over the world, a blow that will recoil with terrible severity on the very claims we make for our own country, but which, whatever be its effects, would be unworthy of ourselves and our cause/
Parnell's reply (which I am also obliged to abridge) was written on May 24, 1877 :
' Your interpretation of the views which I expressed in my last letter regarding my obligations to yourself (not to the Home Eule party, as you state) is not a