[Sidenote: And so to the end.]
The penultimate week in August went on—wearily, tamely, and monotonously. It was, perhaps, the presence of the Speaker—it was, perhaps, the painful recollection of the scene of violence on a previous occasion—it was, perhaps, the universal exhaustion of the House; whatever the cause, the excitement on the night of August 25th was infinitely below what anybody would have expected. Throughout the whole evening there was exactly the same spectacle as on previous evenings—that is to say, there was the same old obstructive group discussing exactly the same topics; raising the same objections; going into the same subtleties as if the Bill were just in its first stage; and there was the same dreary and universal emptiness of the House generally. At last, as eleven o’clock approached, the Unionists prepared themselves for a dramatic effort. Mr. Chamberlain prepared an educational bombshell, but Mr. Healy hoisted the engineer with his own petard.
Then, quietly and noiselessly, we went through a couple of divisions; and before we knew where we were, Mr. Morley was standing at the table, and moving that the third reading of the Bill should take place the following Wednesday. Nearly every one of the most prominent debaters had by this time cleared out. The Irish Benches, however, remained full, and from them came a triumphant cheer as, at a quarter to twelve, the motion was carried, and the second stage of the great measure of Irish emancipation was completed.
IRELAND’S CHARTER THROUGH.
[Sidenote: A dull beginning.]
Insipidity, weariness, and dulness marked the commencement of the concluding week of the Home Rule Bill in the House. There was no private business on the Monday, and accordingly for nearly a quarter of an hour—it seemed infinitely longer to the little group of members present—the House sat in sedate and solemn silence. Then commenced questions, and in a moment half-a-dozen members were buzzing with gnat-like pertinacity about the impassive figure of the Postmaster-General. Mr. Arnold Morley was continually on his legs. For instance, Mr. Bousfield wanted to know what rule there was which forbade Post Office employes to approach the House of Commons directly, or to sign a petition to the House with reference to any grievance, after having unsuccessfully petitioned the Postmaster-General. Mr. Morley replied laconically, “There is no such rule.” Then several of the Tory members attempted to corner Sir U.K. Shuttleworth about the quantity of coals consumed in the “Majestic” while going at full speed. Sir Edward Harland was cautious, and Mr. Gibson Bowles, whose rising was the signal for derisive cheers, was pertinacious. The Secretary to the Admiralty, always dignified, was grave and serious. He was not to be tripped up, and discreetly declined to be drawn.