19JL CHARLES STEWART PARNELL [1379
now resolved to sweep the various tenant defence societies scattered over the country into one great organisation, and to call it the Land League. His plan was to have a central committee in Dublin, and local branches in the rural districts. He put his views before Pamell. Parnell for a moment hesitated. He had often heard Butt say that organisations of this kind were attended with a good deal of danger. The central authority could not always control the local branches, yet it was responsible for every act of a local branch. The moderate members of the parliamentary party, while sympathising thoroughly with the cause of the tenants, shrank from Davitt's proposal. Parnell, however, with the clearness of vision which always characterised him, saw that the promotion of the League was inevitable. The question was, should it go on without him ?
After the conversation with Kickham, if not before, he fully realised that the tenant farmers could never be left out of account; therefore, to hold himself apart from a great land movement would be political suicide. Farmers, Fenians, Home Killers, bishops, priestsó all should be brought into line, and he should lead all. That was the policy, that was the faith, of Parnell.
' Unless we unite all shades of political opinion in the country,' he had said at a meeting of the Home Kule League on September 11, ' I fail to see how we can expect ever to attain national independence.' To have a Land League standing by itself and out of touch with the Home Kule League seemed to him, after a little reflection, the height of folly. His principle all the time was c unity/ and assuredly it would not make for unity to have Davitt at the head of one league and himself, or somebody else, at the head of another.