-dEi. 35] THE SPEAKER'S COUP 2t7
ing the incidents of the debate, declared that in the interest of ' the dignity, the credit, and the authority of the House/ he had resolved to stop the further discussion of the Bill, and to call upon hon. members to decide at once on the question of the first reading. This announcement fell like a thunderclap on the Irish party. They were thoroughly unprepared for it; they had no conception that the debate would be closed in this manner. Accordingly, taken completely by surprise, they did not attempt to resist the Speaker's authority, and the first reading was then put, and carried by a majority of 164 to 19. Immediately afterwards the House adjourned until noon, the Irish members, astonished and perplexed, crying out as they retired: ' Privilege ! Privilege ! '
Mr. Parnell was not present at this scene. He had been at his post until an advanced hour in the morning, and had retired for a brief rest. ' Parnell/ says Mr. Justin McCarthy, ' was not present. He came into the House some time afterwards. The men were complaining of his absence. But there were no complaints when he appeared. Everyone seemed delighted to see him. There was a feeling of relief. He took the whole business very coolly, and said the action of the Speaker should at once be brought under the notice of the House.
The House met at twelve o'clock. The report of the Speaker's coup had spread rapidly throughout the West End, and many persons had gathered within the precincts of the House to watch the further development of events. The Lobby was crowded, as usual on great or critical occasions, and the question, 'What will Parnell do now ? ' passed hurriedly around. There was a general impression that any attempt on the part