JET. 33] THE ENNIS ELECTION 191
by their concession of July 7, and defeated Lord Harrington's resolution by 291 to 185 votes. So ended the campaign against the < cat' in 1879—flogging was abolished in all cases except when the alternative punishment was death. In 1881 it was abolished altogether. In the end other men became as anxious for the abolition of the ' cat' as Parnell; but it was he who began the fight, and who carried it on with a skill and tenacity which made victory secure.
From Westminster Parnell hastened to Ireland to take part in the Ennis election in July. There were two candidates in the field : Mr. William O'Brien (Whig), a Catholic barrister and Crown prosecutor, and Mr. Finnigan (HomeEuler), ParnelTs nominee. The bishops and the priests supported Mr. O'Brien, the advanced men stood by Mr. Finnigan. It was the Ennis election that tested ParnelTs strength in the country. * If Ennis had been lost/ he said afterwards, ' I would have retired from public life, for it would have satisfied me that the priests were supreme in Irish politics/ Ennis was not lost. Mr. Finnigan was returned.
Some days later an incident occurred which caused a good deal of commotion at the time, and gave Parnell not a little trouble. The Irish University Bill (which afterwards became law)l was before the House of Commons. Parnell took an advanced position in the discussion. He was, in fact, in favour of the extreme Catholic demand—namely, a Catholic university. Mr. Gray, the proprietor of the ' Freeman's Journal/ and other moderate Catholic members were in favour of a
1 The Bill establishing a Royal university—practically an examining board. Curiously enough, the Government said they would not deal with the subject at the beginning of the session; but, to buy off Parnell's opposition to their measures generally, they introduced and passed it at the end.