When Mr O'Brien retired in 1903 the majority of the members of the Party scarcely knew what to make of it, and I have to confess myself among those who were lost in wonder and amazement at the suddenness of the event and the reasons that caused it. This knowledge came later, but until I got to a comprehension of the entire facts I refused to mix myself up with either side. When, however, Mr O'Brien returned to public life in 1904, I saw my way clear to associate myself with his policy and to give it such humble and independent support as I could. It will be remembered that one of Mr O'Brien's proposals for testing the Purchase Act was to select suitable estates, parish by parish, where for one reason or another the landlords could be induced to agree to a reasonable number of years' purchase and thus to set up a standard which, with the strength of the National organisation to back it up, could be enforced all over the country. The "determined campaigners" defeated this plan but failed to provide any machinery of their own to protect the tenant purchasers or to assist them in their negotiations. On Mr O'Brien's re-election he took immediate steps to form an Advisory Committee composed of delegates from the eight divisional executives of the city and county of Cork. This Committee adopted as its watchword, "Conciliation plus Business," and as its honorary secretary I can vouch for it that when the methods of Conciliation failed we were not slow about putting into operation the business side of our programme. Thus the landlord who could not be induced to listen to reason around a table was compelled to come to terms by an agitation which was none the less forceful and effective because it was directed and controlled by men of conciliatory temper whom circumstances obliged to resort to extreme action.

The fruits of the work of the Advisory Committee, ranging over a number of years, are blazoned in the official statistics. They make it clear that if only a similar policy had been working elsewhere the tenant purchasers all over Ireland would have got infinitely better terms than they did. The bare fact is that in County Cork, where we had proportionately the largest number of tenant purchasers (in Mid-Cork, I am glad to say, there was scarcely a tenant who did not purchase, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred through my intervention), the prices are, roughly, two years' purchase lower than the average all over the rest of Ireland.

In Cork, where Mr O'Brien's policy prevailed, we had, outside the Congested Districts, from 1st November 1903 to 31st March 1909, a total of 16,159 tenant purchasers, and the amount of the purchase money was L7,994,591; whilst in Mayo, one of whose divisions Mr Dillon represented in Parliament, and where his doctrines held sway, the number of tenant purchasers in the same period was 774, and the amount of the purchase money only L181,256. And be it noted what these unfortunate and misguided Mayo men have to be grateful for: that they have remained for all these years, since the Act of 1903 was placed on the Statute Book, under the old inexorable rent-paying conditions, whilst down in Cork the tenants are almost to a man the proprietors of their own holdings, owning their own improvements, knowing that every year that passes brings the time nearer when their land will be free of annuities, and having all that sweet content and satisfaction that flow from personal ownership. Up in Mayo, in a famous speech delivered at Swinford, 12th September 1906, three years after the Land Purchase Act was passed, Mr Dillon declared:

"Attempts have been made to throw the blame on Michael Davitt, The Freeman's Journal and myself, and it has been said that we have delayed the reinstatement of the evicted tenants and obstructed the smooth working of the Act more than we have done. It has worked too smoothly - far too smoothly, to my mind. Some men have complained within the past year that the Land Act was not working smooth enough. For my part I look upon it as working a great deal too fast. Its pace has been ruinous to the people."

There, in a nutshell and sufficiently stated, are the two policies. Mr O'Brien wanted to expedite land purchase by every means in his power, but he wished that the tenants should have proper advisers and should act under the skilled guidance of their own organisation, so that they may make no bad bargains. Mr Dillon, on his part, sought to kill land purchase outright, but why he should have had this mad infatuation against the most beneficent Act that was passed for Ireland in our generation, I am at a loss to know, if it is not that he allowed his personal feeling against Mr O'Brien to cloud the operations of his intellect. It is a curious commentary, however, on the good faith of the Party leaders, that whilst Mr Dillon was making the speech I have quoted to his constituents at Swinford, his bosom friend and confidant, Mr T.P. O'Connor, who was seeking the shekels in New York, was telling his audience that "the Irish landlords were on the run, and, if they continued to yield, in fifteen years the very name of landlordism would be unknown. I say to the British power: - after seven centuries we have beaten you; the land belongs now to the Irish; the land is going back to the old race."

What is one to say of the manhood or honour of the men who spent their days denouncing the policy of Conciliation in Ireland, but who, when they went across the Atlantic, and wanted to coax the money out of the exiles' pockets, spoke the sort of stuff that Mr O'Connor so soothingly "slithered" out at New York?

I say it with full and perfect knowledge of the facts, that it was the dishonest policy of Mr Dillon, Mr T.P. O'Connor and the men who, blindly and weakly, and with an abominable lack of moral courage, followed their leadership, which has kept one hundred thousand tenants still under the heel of landlordism in Ireland. These men, in driving a nail into the policy of Conciliation, drove a nail far more deeply into their own coffin. In burying the Land Act of 1903 they were only opening graves for themselves, but, in the words of Mr Redmond, they were "so short-sighted and unwise" they could not see the inevitable result of their malicious side-stepping.

I know of no greater glory that any man, or Party, or organisation could aspire to than to be, in any way, however humble, associated with the policy which made three hundred thousand of the farmers of Ireland the owners of their own hearths and fields. Where the Land Purchase Act operated it gave birth to a new race of peasant owners, who were frugal, industrious, thrifty, and assiduous in the cultivation and improvement of the soil. In a few years the face of the country was transformed. A new life and energy were springing into being. The old tumble-down farm-houses and out-offices began to be replaced by substantial, comfortable, and commodious buildings. Personal indebtedness became almost a thing of the past, and the gombeen man - one of Ireland's national curses - was fast fading out of sight. The tenant purchasers, against whose solvency the "determined campaigners" issued every form of threat, took a pride in paying their purchase instalments as they fell due. The banks began to swell out into a plethoric affluence on their deposits. And who can estimate the social sweetness that followed on land purchase - the sense of peace and security that it gave to the tenant and his family, the falling from him of the numbing shadows of unrest and discontent? Also with the disappearance of agrarian troubles and the unsettlement that attended them there has been a notable decline in the consumption of alcohol. To reverse an old saying: "Ireland sober is Ireland free" - it may be said that "Ireland free (of landlordism) is Ireland sober." And then the happiness of being the master of one's own homestead! No race in the world clings so lovingly to the soil as the Irish. We have the clan feeling of a personal love and affection for the spot of earth where we were born, and when the shadows of evening begin to fall athwart our lives, do we not wish to lay ourselves down in that hallowed spot where the bones of our forefathers mingle with the dust of ages? Truly we love the land of our birth - every stone of it, every blade of grass that grows in it, its lakes, its valleys, and its streams, each mountain that in rugged grandeur stands sentinel over it, each rivulet that whispers its beautiful story to us - and because we would yet own it for our very own, we grudge not the sacrifices that its final deliverance demands, for it will be all the dearer in that its liberty was dearly purchased with the tears and the blood of our best!

The settlement of the Evicted Tenants Question was another of the vital issues salved from the wreckage. There were from eight to ten thousand evicted tenants - "the wounded soldiers of the Land War" as they were termed - to whom the Irish Party and the National Organisation were pledged by every tie of honour that could bind all but the basest. The Land Conference Report made an equitable settlement of the Evicted Tenants problem an essential portion of their treaty of peace. But the revival of an evil spirit amongst the worst landlords and the interpretations of hostile law officers reduced the Evicted Tenants clause in the Act of 1903 almost to a nullity. In this extremity the Cork evicted tenants requested the Land Conference to reassemble and specify in precise language the settlement which they regarded as essential. All the representatives of the landlords and of the tenants on the Conference accepted the invitation, with the single exception of Mr Redmond. Eventually, despite these and other discouragements, the Conference met in Dublin in October 1906, sat for three days, and agreed upon lines of settlement which were given effect to in legislation by Mr Bryce the following year. True, the restoration of these unhappy men did not proceed as rapidly as their sacrifices or interests demanded. They were also the victims of the malign opposition extended to the policy of Conciliation, even when it embraced a deed so essentially charitable as the relief of the families who had borne the burden and the heat of the day in the fierce agrarian wars. Lamentable to relate, Mr Dillon tried to intimidate Mr T.W. Russell and Mr Harrington from joining the Conference, and when he failed, publicly denounced their Report. And if there are still some of them "on the roadside," as I regret to think they are, the blame does not lie with the Conciliationists, but with those who persistently opposed their labours.

In the settlement of the University Question Cork also took the lead when its prospects were in a very bad way. This had been for over a century a vexed and perplexing problem. I have dealt cursorily with primary education, which is even still in a deplorably backward state in Ireland. Secondary education has not yet been placed on a scientific basis, and is not that natural stepping-stone between the primary school and the university that it ought to be. There is no intelligent co-ordination of studies in Ireland and we suffer as no other country from ignorantly imposed "systems" which have had for their object, not the development of Irish brains but the Anglicisation of Irish youth, who were drenched with the mire of "foreign" learning when they should have been bathed in the pure stream of Irish thought and culture.

It would require a volume in itself to deal with all the evils, not only intellectual and educational, but social, economic and political, which Ireland has suffered owing to the absence of a higher education directed to the development of her special psychological and material needs. It took eighty years of agitation before anything like educational equality in the higher realms of study was established. The Protestants had in Trinity College a university with a noble tradition and a great historic past. The Catholics had only University College and a Royal University, which conferred degrees without compulsion of residence. In hounding Mr Wyndham from office and killing him (in the political sense, though one would be sorely tempted to add, also in the physical sense), the Irish Party also destroyed, amongst other things, the prospects of a University settlement in 1904. A University Bill had, as a matter of fact, been promised as the principal business for that session. The question was in a practically quiescent state, nobody taking any particular interest in it, when the Catholic laity of Cork, supported by the mass of the Protestant laity as well (as was now become the custom on all great questions in the leading Irish county), came together in a mighty and most representative gathering, which instantly impressed statesmen that this educational disability on religious grounds could no longer be tolerated. Mr Birrell, who failed in most other things during his ill-starred Irish administration, was admirably energetic and suave in getting his University proposals through. And it was by employing wisely the methods of conciliation and winning over to his side men of opposite political views, like Mr Balfour, Mr Wyndham, Sir Edward Carson, and Professor Butcher that he piloted the Bill safely through its various Parliamentary stages.

With the success of Land Purchase, with the introduction and passage of the Labourers and University Acts, with the settlement of the Evicted Tenants Question, and with the offering of any resistance to the effort made to remove the embargo on Canadian cattle, which would seriously have affected the prospects of the farmers, the Irish Party had exercised no initiative and could not legitimately claim one atom of credit in respect of them. Yet when their Parliamentary prestige began to shake and show unmistakable signs of an approaching collapse, it was ever their habit to group these among their achievements in the same way that they appropriated the fruits of Parnell's genius - it was "the Party" that did everything, and so they demanded that the people should sing eternal Hosannas to its glory.

In justice to the Party, or, more correctly, to Mr J.J. Clancy, M.P., who stood sponsor for the measures and watched over their progress with paternal care, they did get inscribed on the Statute Book two Acts of considerable importance - the Town Tenants Act and the Housing of the Working Classes Act, but beyond these the less said of their Parliamentary conquests from 1903 onward the better. Their achievements were rather of the destructive and mischievous than the constructive and beneficent.