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John Redmond's Last Years   By: (1864-1950)

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JOHN REDMOND'S LAST YEARS

BY

STEPHEN GWYNN

LONDON

EDWARD ARNOLD

1919

[All rights reserved]

PREFACE

In writing this book, I have had access to my late leader's papers for the period beginning with the war. These were placed at my disposal by his son, Major William Archer Redmond, D.S.O., M.P. I had also the consent of Mrs. Redmond to my undertaking the task. But for the book and for the opinions expressed in it I am solely responsible. No condition having been imposed upon me, it seemed best, for many reasons, that it should be written, as it has been written, without consultation.

A writer in whom such a trust has been placed may well be at a loss how to express his gratitude, but can never convey the measure of his anxiety. From those who cherish Redmond's memory, and especially from those who were nearest to him in comradeship and affection, I must only crave the indulgence which should be accorded to sincere effort. Differences of interpretation there will be in any review of past events, and others can claim with justice that on many points they were better situated for full understanding than was I. Yet for the period which is specially studied, if there is failure in comprehension it cannot be excused by lack of opportunity to be thoroughly informed.

To readers at large I would say this that if any sentence in these pages be uncandid or ungenerous, it is most unworthy to be found in the record of such a man.

S.G.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. INTRODUCTORY 1

II. REDMOND AS CHAIRMAN 23

III. THE HOME RULE BILL OF 1912 62

IV. THE RIVAL VOLUNTEER FORCES 90

V. WAR IN EUROPE 126

VI. THE RAISING OF THE IRISH BRIGADES 152

VII. THE REBELLION AND ITS SEQUEL 218

VIII. THE CONVENTION AND THE END 259

INDEX 343

PORTRAIT OF JOHN REDMOND Frontispiece

JOHN REDMOND'S LAST YEARS

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

I

The time has not yet come to write the biography of John Redmond. Not until the history of the pledge bound Irish Parliamentary party can be treated freely, fully and impartially as a chapter closed and ended will it be possible to record in detail the life of a man who was associated with it almost from its beginning and who from the opening of this century guided it with almost growing authority to the statutory accomplishment of its desperate task; who knew, in it and for it, all vicissitudes of fortune and who gave to it without stint or reservation his whole life's energy from earliest manhood to the grave.

But when the war came, unforeseen, shifting all political balances, transmuting the greatest political issues, especially those of which the Irish question is a type, it imposed upon men and upon nations, but above all on the leaders of nations, swift and momentous decisions. Because that critical hour presented to Redmond's vision a great opportunity which he must either seize single handed or let it for ever pass by; because he rose to the height of the occasion with the courage which counts upon and commands success; because he sought by his own motion to swing the whole mass and weight of a nation's feeling into a new direction for all these reasons his last years were different in kind from any that had gone before; and as such they admit of and demand separate study. Intelligent comprehension of what he aimed at, what he achieved, and what forces defeated him in these last years of his life is urgently needed, not for the sake of his memory, but for Ireland's sake; because until his policy is understood there is little chance that Irishmen should attain what he aspired to win for Ireland the strength and dignity of a free and united nation.

It is of Redmond's policy for Ireland in relation to the war, and to the events which in Ireland arose out of the war, that this book is mainly designed to treat... Continue reading book >>




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