Lecture 6: Home Rule. Home Rule. The objective of Irish constitutional nationalists for over four decades The term was coined by Revd. Joseph A. Galbraith – a member of the Home Government Association ‘Transfiguring vagueness’ – politically useful
‘He did not at present ask the house to concede Home Rule to Ireland. That question remained to be discussed, and perhaps to be discussed for many years.’
…‘must tend to alienate our truest and best English friends…It must expose us to the taunt of being unfit to administer even the forms of representative government…’Butt
‘England respects nothing but power.’
‘What did they ever get in the past by trying to conciliate them? They would never gain anything from England unless they trod upon her toes.’
1885: 86 Home Rule MPs
who pledged to vote together were elected
Between 1880 and 1885 the number of farmers and shopkeepers, all Home Rulers, rose from 2 to 22
The number of Catholic MPs increased from 37 in 1868 to 51 in 1874, 55 in 1880 and 75 in 1885.
Townshend, C., Ireland: The 20th Century, p29.
‘While no Irish leader of the nineteenth century has been so intensively studied, none remains so enigmatic and inaccessible.’
Lyons, F. S. L., ‘The Political Ideas of Parnell’ in The Historical Journal, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Dec., 1973), p 749.
Gladstone’s conversion to Home Rule was perhaps the summit of Parnell’s achievementHome Rule seemed likely to succeed the next time roundOver 200 British members supported a principle which got only one British vote when O’Connellraised it in 1834 and a mere ten votes when Issac Butt proposed it in the previous decade
‘If the members of the Irish parliamentary party do not wish to alienate the sympathy of the radicals of England and Wales, and indefinitely postpone the victory of a policy based on justice and right, they must insist on Mr Parnell’s immediate retirement. He must go. British politics are not what they were. The conscience of the nation is aroused. Men legally convicted of immorality will not be permitted to lead in the legislation of the kingdom.’An eminent Baptist, Dr Clifford quoted in The Star 19 Nov. 1890.
The Bishops and the Party wish to alienate the sympathy of the radicals of England and Wales, and indefinitely postpone the victory of a policy based on justice and right, they must insist on Mr Parnell’s immediate retirement. He must go. British politics are not what they were. The conscience of the nation is aroused. Men legally convicted of immorality will not be permitted to lead in the legislation of the kingdom.’That tragic story made,A husband that had sold his wife And after that betrayed;But stories that live longestAre sung above the glass,And Parnell loved his country,And Parnell loved his lass.W.B. Yeats, ‘Come gather round me Parenllites’, from Last Poems, 1936-39.
‘If the Land League can be reckoned one of the most remarkable vehicles of agrarian agitation in nineteenth-century Europe, Parnell’s party has some claim to be considered among the most remarkable political movements established in a primarily rural European society. In leadership, organisational efficiency, debating ability and political capacity it compared favourably with most continental contemporaries. In no European society, including England, did the transition from loosely organised, largely local groups to the tight central control of a national organisation occur so rapidly or effectively. The tragedy of the fall of Parnell was not only the tragedy of great leader, but also the tragedy of a great party.’ Lee, J., The Modernisation of Irish Society, 1848-1918, p109.