Gladstone and the Irish Nation

By J. L. Hammond | Go to book overview

APPENDIX TO CHAPTER XXVI
THE ABORTIVE NEGOTIATIONS OF MAY, 1886

Labouchere published in Truth on October 14, 1908, under the tide "The Secret History of the First Home Rule Bill" an account of the negotiations in which he took a leading part on the eve of the debate on the Second Reading. Gladstone made his speech on the Second Reading on May 10, and it disappointed Chamberlain's expectations and destroyed the hope of a settlement. Labouchere gives the events leading up to this speech. He says that on May 8 when the Cabinet was sitting he sent in to Gladstone a memorandum asking him certain questions about the concessions he was ready to make; that he received a satisfactory answer which he communicated to Chamberlain; that Chamberlain then telegraphed to some of his friends to say that Gladstone had capitulated; that among these friends was O'Shea; that Parnell heard in this way of the proposed concessions. Mr. Garvin, who supplements Labouchere's account from the Chamberlain Papers, thus describes the consequence. "One of these messages went to O'Shea who was in high feather since he had forced the Irish leader to return him for Galway. Parnell was told and at once communicated the telegram to Downing St. Indignantly Mr. Gladstone informed an inquiring journalist that he had yielded nothing."1

The Gladstone papers throw a new light on these events and they show clearly two things; the first that Gladstone believed that the concessions he announced on May 10, which Chamberlain found so unsatisfactory, gave Chamberlain what he asked through Labouchere; the second that Parnell did not influence the speech or lead Gladstone to change his mind or tactics.

The sequence of events is as follows. On May 5 Gladstone drew up the Memorandum on his Bill for Irish Government, 2nd Reading Division, and sent it first to Morley and Granville and then had it circulated to the Cabinet. In this paper he provided for the return of the Irish members when questions of taxation affecting Ireland were discussed. On May 6 Labouchere wrote to Chamberlain stating that Gladstone had drawn up this scheme and urging Chamberlain to accept it.2 "I don't believe that you will get more." On May 8 the Cabinet met and accepted Gladstone's scheme. On May 9 Gladstone, then out of London, wrote to Arnold Morley thanking

____________________
1
Garvin, Vol. II p. 227.
2
Life of Labouchere, p. 305.

-525-

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