Gladstone and the Irish Nation

By J. L. Hammond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
THE CARNARVON ADVENTURE

In the winter of 1884, while Chamberlain was negotiating with Manning and Parnell through the unfortunate medium of O'Shea, a distinguished Irishman was discussing the Irish problem with a leading Conservative. The Irishman was Sir Charles Gavan Duffy who in his youth had suffered imprisonment as an Irish patriot and had emigrated to Australia in 1856, disgusted by the failure of his effort to form and keep together an independent Irish Party in the House of Commons. In Australia he had had a successful career, being Prime Minister of Victoria from 1871 to 1877. In 1880 he had returned to Europe and settled at Nice. He had followed the new movements in Ireland with great sympathy and had written in favour of Gladstone's Land Act in 1882. The Conservative was Lord Carnarvon who had been Colonial Secretary twice, first under Derby in 1867, and then under Disraeli in 1878. He was a man with a mind of his own and he had left office on both occasions over a disagreement on policy. He had resigned in 1867 in protest against Disraeli's Reform Bill and in 1878 in protest against Disraeli's decision to send the Fleet to Constantinople.

Carnarvon and Duffy had made friends in 1883 and from that time the two had corresponded on the Irish question. Gavan Duffy had urged Carnarvon to consider whether the Conservative Party could not find a settlement. In October 1884, Duffy stayed with Carnarvon and put before him a scheme for an Irish Parliament. He declared that if there was the least chance of its being adopted by the Conservative Party he would return to England and devote to it all that he had of strength and life remaining. He would canvass the Roman Catholic Bishops and all the moderate Party,

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