JET. 35] ME. GLADSTONE ON THE OUTLOOK 303
the time/ said the Ulster Liberal whom I have already quoted,1 'that ParnelTs policy of trying to keep the tenants out of the Land Courts in 1881 was foolish, and almost criminal. But I now believe he was quite right.' By keeping the tenants back, by looking suspiciously at the Act, by keeping up the agitation, he succeeded in getting larger reductions than would ever have been made if the farmers had rushed into the courts, and if Parnell had taken no pains to control the decisions of the commissioners. In fact it was Parnell who got the Land Act, and it was Parnell who administered it in the south ; though he refused to make himself responsible for it, and even appeared to be hostile to it. He played a deep game and played it with great ability. He kept his whole party together by not cordially accepting the Land Act, and he took pains at the same time to secure the best administration of it in the interests of the tenants.
Mr. Gladstone thought that Parnell was bent on obstructing the Land Act and thwarting the Government. Nevertheless the Prime Minister believed that the Irish Executive ought to pursue a conciliatory policy. On September 5 he wrote to Mr. Forster :
Mr. Gladstone to Mr. Forster
'. . . We have before us in administration a problem not less delicate and arduous than the problem of legislation with which we have lately had to deal in Parliament. Of the leaders, the officials, the skeleton of the Land League, I have no hope whatever. The better the prospect of the Land Act with their adherents outside the circle of wirepullers, and with the
1 Ante, p. 298.