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346 CHARLES STEWART PARNELL [1882
the whole transaction. But Mr. Gladstone was highly gratified. ' This,' said he, ' is a liors d'ceuvrc which we had no right to expect, and I rather think have no right at present to accept. I may be far wide of the mark, but I can scarcely wonder at 0'Shea saying " the thing is done." . . . On the whole ParneH's letter is, I think, the most extraordinary I ever read. I cannot help feeling indebted to O'Bliea.' 1
The thing wn-s done. On May 1 the Cabinet met to discuss the prospective policy in lien of coercion. After the meeting of the Cabinet Mr. Gladstone wrote to Lord Cowpcr:
Mr. Gladstone to Lord Cowpcr
' MY DEAB GowpEtt,—In consequence of the altered position of the No Kent party, further attested to us by important information which (without any covenant) wo have obtained, the Cabinet has discussed anxiously tho question whether tho three members of Parliament2 now in prison should bo released, with a view to further progressive release of tbose not believed to be implicated in crime upon careful examination of their cases. No decision has boon absolutely taken, but the Cabinet moots again to-morrow at twelve, and it is probable that a telegram may bo sent to you requesting you to give directions for tho immediate liberation of the three. The information we have had in the briefest words IB shortly this: we know that Parncll and his friends are ready to abandon "No Kent " formally, and to declare against outrage energetically, intimidation included, if and when the Government announce a satisfactory plan for dealing with arrears. We have
1 Sir Womyiw Rciicl, Lift, of the. night Uon, W. K. Forster.
2 The three were Pam«ll, Mr. O'Kelly, and Mr. Dillon.