JET. 86] MB. BEIGHT ON THE COERCION ACT 331
the Bill. I heard your speech in support, and I didn't like it.'
Mr. Bright (with a smile, and stroking his chin with his finger). ' I dare say you didn't. What would you have ? Bemember, I voted for coercion before. The position I have always taken has been that you cannot resist the demand of the Minister who is responsible for the administration in Ireland, though you may say, as I have certainly said, that other remedies must be applied.'
I said : (The Minister in this case was wrong.'
Mr. Bright. ' Well, yes' (getting up and throwing some coal on the fire and then turning his back to it, looking withal a noble figure, as he there stood with leonine head, venerable grey hair, and dignified bearing). ' The suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act,' he continued, ' had been successful in the case of the Fenians; we supposed it would be successful in the case of the Land League. That was the mistake. The League was a bigger organisation. It extended all over the country. The arrest of the leaders did not affect it: the local branches were too well organised. For every man who was arrested there was another ready to take his place. Our information was wrong. The conspiracy was more widespread and more deeply rooted than we were led to suppose. It was not a case for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act.'
I said : ' The policy was inexcusable.'
Mr. Bright. f To be fair you must consider the circumstances under which the policy was adopted. Put yourself in the place of a Cabinet Minister. Suppose the Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary—the men, mark, who are responsible for the government of the country, the Executive—suppose they tell you that