[Sidenote: Deeper and deeper.]
Friday, May 12th, I may dismiss in a few words. As the closure had been refused on Thursday night, the Obstructives started again on the first clause on Friday afternoon—Mr. T.W. Russell leading the van. He had nothing to say beyond what he had said a hundred times already, even in the course of the present Session; and his speech would have passed unnoticed had it not been for a brisk but odious and ignoble little storm which he and the Tories managed to raise between them. Mr. Russell declared that he heard the phrase across the floor, “What the devil are you saying?” and stopped as if the heavens and the earth must refuse to go round on their axes because of this introduction into Parliament of the negligences of private conversation. Mr. Gibbs—a very pestilent and very empty member of the young army of silly obstructives—moved that the words be taken down—an ancient formula not heard of for years till the present Session, when everything is turned to account for the purpose of occupying time and breaking down the House of Commons, and at the same time accused Mr. Swift McNeill of having used the words. Mr. McNeill indignantly denied the charge: then Mr. Macartney attributed them to Mr. Sexton—another and equally indignant denial; and then much uproar and contradictions and apologies—the lubberly and unmannerly interventions of Lord Cranborne as usual conspicuous—and, finally, the end of the storm in a teacup. Positively loathsome—the whole business methods of the Tories to grasp at everything to rouse a storm or provoke a scene; and altogether disheartening to those who don’t wish to see the House of Commons reduced to the drivel and turbulence and anarchy of a French Convention. Finally, a little after six o’clock, the first clause of the Bill had passed, with a majority of 42. The House of Commons had decided that there shall be established in Ireland a Legislature of two Chambers. Then in a graceful, well-delivered, and pleasant little speech, Mr. Victor Cavendish opened the fight on the second clause. The evening was devoted to the Anti-vaccinationists—answered triumphantly in an admirable and unanswerable little speech by Sir Walter Foster—with as many as seventy men voting against vaccination. I had no idea previously that the proportion of lunatics in the Assembly was so large.
RENEWAL OF THE FIGHT.
[Sidenote: A fresh start.]
Nothing of memorable importance occurred during the week before the Whitsuntide holidays, but with Tuesday, May 30th, came the renewal of the great battle over Home Rule. The Old Man was first to be observed. He looked very fresh and sunny, but, at the same time, had that slightly deepened pallor which he always has on the first day of a Session—the result of the long day’s journey which he has gone through in coming from his country house. Mr. Balfour