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'THE TIMES’-PARNELL COMMISSION.

A DRAMATIC INCIDENT.

The principal witness before ‘ The Times ’- I'aruell Commission during the first week of July was Michael Davitt, in the course of whose cross-examination several dramatic incidents occurred. The examination-in-chief disclosed nothing new in connection with Davitt’s career, but in the early part of the cross-examination much interest was excited by Sir Henry James confronting him with a letter that was produced at his trial for treason felony twenty years ago. The letter began “Dear friend,” and went cn apparently to suggest that a certain assassination should take place, but that the assassin should not proceed in the matter until certain permission from superiors had been obtained. The words were “If you get Jem and Fitz’s consent let it be done by all means.” This letter was found twenty years ago in the poasess ; on of a young man named Forrester. It wrs produced against Davitt at his trial. No explanation was given at the trial, but now Sir Henry James pressed Davitt for the name of the man to whom he had addressed the letter. This Davitt refused to give, despite the president’s urging, and said: “ I have been tried for this letter. It was a stupidly criminal letter, I admit. I have suffered seven years’ penal servitude for it. Am I to be tried for it again ?” The Attorney-General pressed for an answer, and finally Davitt gave the following explanation of the matter, suppressing all names:—A young officer in the Fenian body took a personal dislike to a brother Fenian and determined to kill him, and Davitt was consulted in the matter. The letter he wrote in answer was a sort of blind, which, while apparently sanctioning the intended murder, was really written to gain time to let the matter cool down; hence the reference to obtaining the preliminary sanction of the chiefs called Jem and Fitz, Davitt swore that he wrote secretly to these two men, both of whom he believed to be now alive in America, asking them to forbid the intended crime, and that his intention in writing the letter, which he again called criminal, was to delay and ultimately prevent the murder. “If that letter had anything to do with the assassination,’' he exclaimed, “I would deserve penal servi tude for life.” Nevertheless, he would not even now give up the names of Jem and Fitz, unless they released him from his obligations. When the point again came up as to the name of the man to whf m he wrote the letter he exclaimed: “ I appeal from this box where I stand to America to that chief to give the name to their lordships, and again I appeal to that man to take from my life the stigma I have borne for twenty years.” In answer to the president, Davitt admitted that his explanation of the criminal document was not put forward on his trial. In answer to further questions, Davitt boldly declared for complete independence, saying that he made the land question and the movement to exterminate and drive out the landlords a stepping stone to this end. Mr Parnell was not for the complete separation of tho two countries. “ I am,” said Davitt. Then very firmly pressed, Davitt further repeated that he was one of the principals who were in favor of a general separation, but he would to-morrow, if Mr ParneU’s policy were successful, give his loyal support to it, and the idea of separation, he believed, might ultimately die out. Davitt admitted that he was on close terms of intimacy with men like Dr Carroll, of Philadelphia, who was a trustee of the Skirmishing Fund, the object of which was to do damage to England, whenever possible, and level its greatest cities.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890815.2.44

Bibliographic details

'THE TIMES’-PARNELL COMMISSION., Issue 7986, 15 August 1889

Word Count
628

'THE TIMES’-PARNELL COMMISSION. Issue 7986, 15 August 1889

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