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150 CIIAELES STEWART PARNELL [1877
shall meet their threats with deeds/ At Greenock, on September 22, where the Fenians were in force, he declared : * We must carry out a vigorous and energetic policy in the House of Commons. If that be done, then I believe we have a power in Parliament of which few men have any notion/ Addressing a meeting of his own constituents, where Fenians were not strongly represented, on September 24, he said: ' I think that opposition to English rule is best which is most felt. . . . O'Connell gained Catholic emancipation outside the House of Commons. . . . No amount of eloquence could achieve what the fear of an impending insurrection, what the Clerkenwell explosion and the shot into the police van, had achieved.*
In October there was a conference of Irish members in the City Hall, Dublin. Here Butt denounced obstruction with impassioned eloquence, and singled out Parnell for special animadversion.
Parnell replied briefly and quietly. He said he did not care whether his policy was called a policy of obstruction or not. There was no value in a name; it was a policy of energy and earnestness, and that was what the Irish people wanted. Mr. O'Connor Power and Mr. A. M. Sullivan, two eloquent speakers, defended the ' forward ' policy at greater length. Indeed, Parnell left the talking to them.
Pamell now felt he had many of the rank and file of the Fenians at his back, and he believed that the future was with them. Butt's policy of conciliation only helped to estrange Fenian sympathisers and to undermine the influence of the Home Rule leader.
In December an event fraught with important results in the development of Parnell5 s relations with the Fenians occurred. Michael Davitt, a Fenian