/Ex. 36] AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION 335
green flag/ said an admirer; and Parnell smiled at tliis delicate allusion to one of his many superstitions. < How is the No Eent manifesto working, Mr. Parnell ? ' said another visitor. ' All I know about it is that my own tenants are acting strictly up to it/ was the grim answer.
Eeports of the state of the country reached him almost every day. Indeed, he knew all that was going on as well as, perhaps even better than, Mr. Forster. Ireland was in a state of lawlessness and anarchy. Lawlessness and anarchy which served only to embarrass the British Minister mattered little to Parnell. Lawlessness and anarchy which served to embarrass himself mattered a great deal. The country was drifting out of his hands, and drifting into the hands of reckless and irresponsible men and women whose wild operations would, he felt sure, sap his authority and bring disaster on the national movement. It was quite time for him to grasp the reins of power once more, and to direct the course of events. His release from prison became, in fact, a matter of paramount importance. How was he to get out ? I have said that the thought uppermost in Mr. Gladstone's mind was how to bring about a modus vivendi with Parnell. The thought uppermost in ParnelPs mind was how to bring about a modus vivendi with Mr. Gladstone. It occurred to the Irish leader that a treaty might be made on the basis of doing something more for the Irish tenants. He had pointed out the defects of the Land Act, he had dwelt on the importance of dealing with the question of arrears, and he now thought that this question might be made the ground of some arrangement whereby the present intolerable and (it seemed to him) insane condition of affairs would be ended.