228 CHARLES STEWART PARNELL [1880
present Government/ said the Duke of Argyll in 1881, < was formed with no express intention of bringing in another great Irish Land Bill ... it formed no part of the programme upon which the Government was formed/
It is strange that this should have been so. The land question had been kept constantly before Parliament since 1876. Mr. Butt's Bill, based on the three F.'s, was then introduced. It was rejected by 290 against 56 votes.
In 1877 Mr. Crawford, an Ulster Liberal, introduced a Bill to extend the Ulster custom—the right of free sale—through the rest of Ireland. It was talked out. In 1878 Mr. Crawford again introduced the Bill. It was defeated by 85 against 66 votes. Mr. Butt's Bill of 1876 was also re-introduced. It was defeated by 286 against 86 votes. In 1879 Mr. Butt's Bill was again brought in. It was again defeated by 263 to 61 votes; and Mr. Crawford's Bill was again talked out. The land agitation had been growing in intensity since 1877.1 Sir Stafford Northcote's statement in the House in February 1880 demonstrated the reality of Irish distress. Everything that was happening showed the discontent and the misery of the people. Yet on the meeting of Parliament in April Mr. Gladstone's Government gave no sign that Ireland filled any place in the thoughts of Ministers.
The first appearance of the Irish members in the House of Commons showed that there was still a division in their ranks. Mr. Shaw, with those who had supported him at the public meeting, sat upon one
1 I have dealt fully with the land controversy In The. Irish Land Question and English Public Opinion and in the Parliamentary History of the Irish Land Question. See also Sir Gavan Duffy, League of North and Soitth.