PARNELL, CHARLES STEWART Irish Nationalist leader, was born at Avondale, Co. Wicklow, on June 27, 1846, the son of John Henry Parnell and Delia Tudor, daughter of Commodore Charles Stewart of the U.S. navy. The Parnell family came from Congleton, Cheshire, and counted various dis tinguished persons among its members. Thomas Parnell, who mi grated to Ireland after the Restoration, had two sons, Thomas Parnell the poet and John Parnell, an Irish judge. From the latter Charles Stewart Parnell was descended. Sir John Parnell, chancellor of the exchequer in Grattan's parliament, and one of O'Connell's lieutenants in the parliament of the United Kingdom, was the grandson of Parnell the judge. The estate of Avondale was bequeathed by him to his youngest son, William, grandfather of Charles Stewart Parnell. His second son was Sir Henry Parnell (Baron Congleton), who held office under Grey and Melbourne, and died by his own hand in 1842. Charles Stewart Parnell was much influenced by his mother, who inherited a hatred of England from her father. He was, however, of English extraction, a landowner and a Protestant. Educated at private schools in England and at Magdalene College, Cambridge, his temperament and demeanour were singularly un-Irish on the surface—reserved, cold, repellent and unemotional. As a schoolboy he was fond of cricket and devoted to mathematics, but had little taste for other studies or other games. He was subject to somnambulism, liable to severe fits of depression, and invincibly superstitious. He was as little at home in an English school or an English university as he was afterwards in the House of Commons. "These English," he said to his brother at school, "despise us because we are Irish, but we must stand up to them. That's the way to treat an English man—stand up to him." Parnell took no interest in politics in his early years, but he was deeply moved by stories related to him by servants and peasants of certain revolting cruelties perpetrated by English landlords in the not distant past. He was passionately stirred by the execution of the "Manchester Martyrs" in 1867, but did not yet think seriously of politics, though his sister Fanny was already writing patriotic verse. In the meanwhile he paid a lengthened visit to the United States. At the general election of 1874 he desired to stand for the county of Wicklow, of which he was high sheriff at the time. The lord-lieutenant declined to relieve him of his disqualifying office, and his brother John stood in his place, but was unsuccessful at the poll. Shortly afterwards a by-election occurred in Dublin, and Parnell stood as a supporter of Isaac Butt, but was beaten. He was elected for Meath in 1875.
Butt had scrupulously respected the traditions and courtesy of debate, and disapproved of the obstructive tactics invented by cer tain members of the Conservative party in opposition to the first Gladstone Administration. Parnell entered parliament as a virtual rebel who knew that physical force was of no avail, but believed that political exasperation might attain the desired results. He resolved to make obstruction in parliament do the work of outrage (he hated outrage and cruelty) in the country, to set the church bell ringing—to borrow Mr. Gladstone's metaphor—and to keep it ringing in season and out of season in the ears of the House of Commons. He would not condemn outrages to gratify English members of parliament. He accepted the alliance of the physical force party. He invented and encouraged "boycotting" as a sub
stitute for outrage. In the course of the negotiations in 1882, which resulted in what was known as the Kilmainham Treaty, he wrote to Captain O'Shea : "If the arrears question be settled upon the lines indicated by us, I have every confidence that the exer tions we should be able to make strenuously and unremittingly would be effective in stopping outrages and intimidation of all kinds." In 1877 Parnell entered on an organized course of obstruction. He and Joseph Biggar were gradually joined by a small band of the more advanced Home Rulers, and occasionally assisted up to a certain point by one or two English members. Butt was deposed. William Shaw, a "transient and embarrassed phantom," was elected in his place, but Parnell became the real leader of a Nationalist party. After the general election of 188o the more moderate section of the Nationalist party ceased to exist. Ob struction in Parnell's hands was a calculated policy, the initial stage of a campaign designed to show the malcontents in Ireland and the Fenian Brotherhood in America that strictly correct parliamentary methods were useless, but that the parliamentary machine could be so handled as to secure Irish legislative inde pendence. The Fenians were hard to convince, but in the autumn of 1877 Parnell persuaded the Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain to depose Butt from its presidency and to elect himself in his place. Parnell's opportunity came with the general election of 188o, which displaced the Conservative government of Lord Beaconsfield and restored Mr. Gladstone to power. Parnell would have no alliance with either English party. He would support each in turn with a sole regard to the balance of political power in parliament and a fixed determination to hold it in his own hands if he could. From the time that he became its leader the Home Rule party sat together in the House of Commons and always on the Opposition side. From the first Parnell imposed on the parliamentary party an iron discipline. It was there to obey orders and to vote straight. Members, if required, were to speak at indefinite length, to carry out feats of endurance at all-night sittings; to paralyse parliament under the directions of Parnell, who had the eye of genius for the proper action in any emergency. In the autumn of 1879 Parnell, after some hesitation, had given his sanction to the Land League founded by Michael Davitt. He then crossed to the United States. There the "new departure" —the alliance of the open and the secret organizations—was con firmed and consolidated. Parnell obtained the countenance and support of the Clan-na-Gael, a revolutionary organization of the American-Irish, and the Land League began to absorb all the more violent spirits in Ireland, though the Fenian Brotherhood still held officially aloof from it. As soon as the general election of 188o was announced Parnell returned to Ireland in order to direct the campaign in person. Though he had supported the Liberals at the election, he soon found himself in conflict with the Gladstone government, represented in Ireland by Earl Cowper and W. E. Forster. Parliament was summoned at an early date, and a Coer cion Bill for one year, practically suspending the Habeas Corpus Act and allowing the arrest of suspects at the discretion of the government, was introduced, to be followed shortly by Harcourt's Arms Bill. Parnell regarded the measure as a declaration of war.