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178 CIIAELES STEWART PARNELL [1879
Irishtown, County Mayo. Three Fenians besides Davitt attended, and they were unquestionably the ablest and most energetic men present. There is little use in mincing words over these transactions now. Official Fenianism in Ireland held aloof from the land agitation. But that agitation would probably have never reached the formidable proportions it assumed had not individual Fenians flung themselves into it with characteristic earnestness and daring.1 The * Land League Fenians' were, no doubt, ultimately expelled from their own body; but they carried into the new movement the fire and energy of the old, unchastened and unrestrained, however, by that purer spirit of nationality which animated the founders of the Fenian organisation.
At the Irishtown meeting was struck the spark which soon set Ireland in a blaze. But before the conflagration had yet spread throughout the land Isaac Butt, perhaps fittingly, passed away. In July 1878 he felt seriously alarmed about his health, and wrote to his medical adviser and friend, Dr. O'Leary:
' United Hotel, Charles Street, St. James's, * July 4,1878.
'My DEAR O'LEAEY,—You have always shown such kindness and care to me that I would like you to know every little thing that happens to me. I am not happy about myself. Yesterday I crossed over in a good passage. I laid down the latter half of the way. Before getting up I felt an uneasy sensation at my heart, with something like palpitation. Getting up I
1 The freedom given to the Fenian officers at the Paris meeting was, of course, very useful to Devoy and Davitt; the reason, no doubt, why it was taken away in 1880.