Skip to main content

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

See other formats

J&T. 31]                    MICHAEL DAVITT                             151
convict, was released from Dartmoor Prison. Davitt was born near Straide, in the County Mayo, in 1846. When he was quite a child his parents -emigrated to England, settling at Haslingden, near Manchester. There Davitt grew up. He attended a "Wesleyan school in the town, entered a factory (where he lost his right arm, which was caught accidentally in the machinery), became in turn an assistant letter-carrier, a bookkeeper in the post office, a commercial traveller, and finally joined the Fenian organisation in 1870. He was tried at Newgate for treason-felony, found guilty, and sentenced to fifteen years' penal servitude. Seven years and seven months of this sentence he endured. He was then, on December 19, 1877, released on ticket-of-leave.1 He immediately rejoined the organisation, and ultimately became a member of
1 Davitt had been engaged in collecting arms, and some 14,000 rounds of revolver cartridges and 400 Snider rifles were traced to him. Apropos of Davitt's release, the official of the Home Rule Confederation whom I have already quoted told me the following incident: * There was a local Home Rule association called the " Westminster Home Bule Union." It was an association for the " respectable " members of the organisation who did not like to rub shoulders with Fenians and Fenian sympathisers. Of course, at the central office we were glad of the association; every association in league with us helped. One night I was at a meeting of the Westminster Union. Suddenly a Fenian
named C-----popped in his head rather mysteriously, and popped it out
again without saying anything. He returned in about ten minutes, and brought in a dark, delicate-looking young fellow of about thirty with him. "Here," he said, without any ceremony, "is Michael Davitt, who has just been released from Dartmoor." WeU, the " respectables " were in a fix. They couldn't turn Davitt out, so they asked him to sit
down.   He and C------ stopped for about twenty minutes, and then
went away.   When they were gone some of the members of the Union
said: " What the devil does that fellow C------mean by coming in here
and bringing this Davitt with him ? " I said: " You need not turn up your nose at a man who has suffered seven years' penal servitude for Ireland whether you agree with him or not." They simply sneered. However, before many weeks these gentlemen were on the same platform with Davitt, and were loud in their praises of the man who had *' suffered for Ireland." You see that is the way Fenianism colours our political movements and influences the most constitutional of us.'