Gladstone and the Irish Nation

By J. L. Hammond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX
THE PARNELL COMMISSION

In the autumn of 1885 Lord Richard Grosvenor was occupied in two transactions, the combination of which must make a strange impression on anybody who has followed the events of the time. He was corresponding, as we have seen, with Mrs. O'Shea, partly about Parnell's plans, partly about finding a seat for O'Shea; at the same time he was corresponding with a gentleman of the name of Pigott who had asked him to find money for the publication of a pamphlet called Parnellism unmasked. For the last three years Pigott had been supplying anti-Irish papers in England with articles attacking Parnell, and this pamphlet attempted to give its full concentrated effect to the energy that had been dispersed over these several publications. Grosvenor ended by putting Pigott into touch with a young man named Houston, a gentleman who had been on the staff of the Times correspondent in Dublin, and was at this moment secretary of a body called The Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union.

Houston saw pretty soon that to treat Pigott merely as a man of letters was to waste him. For Pigott had had a long and interesting career, in the course of which he had been Fenian and anti-Fenian, Leaguer and anti-Leaguer. Almost his first success in the world of blackmail and plot where he was most at home had been in drawing money out of poor Butt by threatening to set the Fenians on him in all their fury. Since that time he had sponged on men of all parties, intrigued with men of all parties, and he had known everybody who was to be known in the revolutionary movement, in Ireland or the United States. He was just the man to dig out secrets.

At first Houston found him a little diffident. Fortune

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