JZi. 33] THE LAND LEAGUE 195
He saw all the risks of the situation, and he resolved to face them. A united Ireland was the paramount consideration.
On October 21 there was a conference of Nationalists and Land Eeforniers at the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, and there and then the ' Irish National Land League ' was formed, for the purpose of ' bringing about a reduction of rack rents' and facilitating the creation of a peasant proprietary. ' The objects of the League/ so ran one of the resolutions, ' can best be attained by defending those who may be threatened with eviction for refusing to pay unjust rents ; and by obtaining such reforms in the laws relating to land as will enable every tenant to become the owner of his holding by paying a fair rent for a limited number of years. Parnell was elected president of the League; Mr. Biggar, Mr. 0'Sullivan, Mr. Patrick Egan, hon. treasurers; Mr. Davitt, Mr. Kettle, Mr. Brennan, hon. secretaries. Thus of the seven first chosen officers four were Fenians or ex-Fenians—Biggar, Egan, Brennan, Davitt—and all were in sympathy with Fenianism, The Land League was, in fact, the organisation of the New Departure. Within twelve months of his return from America Davitt had established a formidable association, well fitted in every respect to carry out the policy which he and Devoy had planned. Davitt and his colleagues might be in rebellion against England. They were also in rebellion against the governing body of the Fenian society. Land League meetings were now held constantly throughout the country, and speeches of extreme violence were delivered. The fight between the League and the Government had commenced in earnest.
The agitators acted wTith vigour and ability; the Government with supineness and stupidity. Disbe-