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lH)i CHARLES STEWART PARNELL [1881
* When in doubt, do nothing/ was one of Lord Melbourne's wise maxims. Parnell resolved to do nothing for the present. Before the first and second reading of the Bill the Easter recess intervened. During that time he kept his own counsel. The general impression was, however, that he meant to support the Bill. ' People whispered: ' Parnell will take the moderate line, he will accept the Bill.' A clique of Parliamentarians prepared to undermine his authority. A convention was summoned in Dublin to consider the situation. Like Parnell, the convention decided to do nothing. Every member of Parliament was to be left free to take any course he pleased, thus leaving the question still open. The second reading of the Bill was fixed for the 25th of April.
A few days previously the parliamentary party met to consider finally what course should be pursued.
* We were all assembled on the appointed day,' says tin Irish member. 'As usual, Parnell was not up to time, which gave an opportunity to the malcontents to grumblo. At length ho arrived, walked straight to the chair, of course, made no apology for being late, sat down, then rose immediately and said: " Gentlemen, [ don't know what your view on this question is. I am against voting for the second reading of the Bill. We have not considered it carefully. We must not make ourselves responsible for it. Of course I do not want to force my views upon anybody, but I feel so strongly on the subject that if a majority of the party differ from me 1 shall resign at once." This \va,s a thunderbolt. It took us all by surprise. The clique who were plotting against Parnell looked perfect fools. He had trumped their card. There was dead silence. "I now move," said Parnell, "that we