THE KILMAINHAM TREATY, 1882
In the days of Whiteboy crime Cornewall Lewis recalled Bacon's story of the Spanish commander who vowed that when the Devil on the Mount showed Christ all the kingdoms of the earth he left Ireland out and kept it for himself. The history of a few short weeks in April and May, 1882, might seem to illustrate that melancholy truth. At the beginning of May, Ireland and England were near to a settlement. At the end of May they were more bitterly divided than ever. Yet it is easy to see that the event which brought this calamity might, had fortune been less implacable, have helped the two nations to understand each other.
The history of these momentous weeks is complicated, but it is easy to avoid confusion if the reader remembers how the Irish problem and the Irish prospect looked to Gladstone. In his view everything depended on the success of the Land Act. The case for coercion was not that it might be expected to cure Ireland, but that it might be expected to remove conditions under which the Irish Land Act was obstructed and might be defeated. Parnell had been put in prison as the chief agent in that attempt to obstruct and defeat it. Once there was evidence that he nursed that intention no longer, the case for keeping him under lock and key was gone.
Gladstone knew nothing of Parnell's private life and at this time he had not even heard the first rumour of his relations with Mrs. O'Shea. Those relations were now becoming an important political disturbance. In February Mrs. O'Shea had given birth to their first child, a daughter, so poor in health that her life only lasted a few weeks. On April 10, Parnell was released on parole to attend his nephew's funeral in Paris, and he was with Mrs. O'Shea for a short