It may be said that whilst all these things were going on in Ireland and the Party marching with steady purpose to its irretrievable doom, the British people were in the most profound state of ignorance as to what was actually happening. And the same may be said of the Irish in America, Australia, and all the other distant lands to which the missionary Celts have betaken themselves. They were all fed with the same newspaper pap. The various London Correspondents took their cue from Mr T.P. O'Connor and the Freeman. These and the Whips kept them supplied with the tit-bits that were in due course served up to their several readers. And thus it never got to be known that it was Mr William O'Brien and his friends who were the true repositories of Party loyalty and discipline, the only men who were faithful to the pledge, who had never departed from the policy of Conference, Conciliation and Consent, upon which the great Land Act of 1903 was based and to which the Party, the United Irish League, and Nationalist opinion stood committed in the most solemn manner.

When the General Election of 1906 took place those of us in County Cork and elsewhere who had taken our stand by Mr O'Brien were marked out for opposition by the Party chiefs. But a truce was arranged through the intervention of Mr George Crosbie, editor of The Cork Examiner, who generously sought to avert a fight between brother Nationalists, which, whatever its effects at home, would be bound to have grave results abroad, where the only thing that would be strikingly apparent was that brother Nationalists were at one another's throats. So we all came back, if not exactly a happy family at least outwardly in a certain state of grace.

This state of things was not, however, to last. Without rhyme or reason, without cause stated or charge alleged, with no intimation of any sort or kind that I was acting contrary to any of the Party tenets, I was, so to speak, quietly dropped overboard from the Party ship in November 1906. I did not get any official intimation that I was dismissed the Party or that I had in any way violated my pledge to sit, act and vote with it. I was simply cut off from the Party Whips and the Parliamentary allowance and, without a word spoken or written, thus politely, as it were, told to go about my business. The matter seemed inconceivable and I wrote a firm letter of remonstrance to Mr Redmond. It drew from him merely a formal acknowledgment - an adding of insult to injury. To test the matter I immediately resigned my seat for Mid-Cork, placed the whole facts before my constituents, published my letter and Mr Redmond's acknowledgment and challenged the Party to fight me on the issue they had themselves deliberately raised - namely, as to whether in supporting the policy of Conciliation I was in any way faithless to my pledge. Wise in their generation, the men who were courageous enough to expel me from the Party, to which I belonged by as good a title as they, were not brave enough to meet me in the open in a fair fight and, where there could be no shirking a plain issue, and accordingly I had a bloodless victory. It was satisfactory to know I had the practically unanimous support and confidence of the electors of Mid-Cork. It would have been more satisfactory still if we had the policy of Conciliation affirmed, as we undoubtedly would have, by an overwhelming vote in a genuine trial of strength. There were at this time outside of the Party, besides myself, Mr William O'Brien, Mr T. M. Healy, M.P. for North Louth (who had not been readmitted after 1900), Sir Thomas Esmonde, M.P. for North Wexford, Mr John O'Donnell, M.P. for South Mayo, Mr Charles Dolan, M.P. for South Leitrim, and Mr Augustine Roche (Mr O'Brien's colleague in the representation of Cork).

The Party were now in a rather parlous state. The country was disgusted with their mismanagement of the Irish Council Bill. Branches of the United Irish League had ceased to subscribe to the Party funds and it was evident that a temper distinctly hostile to the Party managers was widely springing up. Furthermore, an irresistible movement of popular opinion set in, demanding that there should be a reunion of all the Nationalist forces and "Unity" demonstrations of huge dimensions were held in Kerry, Limerick, Cork, Clare and Wexford. There was no denying the intensity of the demand that there should be an end of those differences which divided brother Nationalists and dissipated their strength. Finally, at Ballycullane, in Mr Redmond's native constituency, Mr O'Brien formulated proposals for reunion, the first of which is so notable as a declaration of Nationalist principle that I quote it fully:

"No man or party has authority to circumscribe the inalienable right of Ireland to the largest measure of national self-government it may be in her power to obtain."

Further conditions declared that it was the duty of Nationalist representatives to devote themselves honestly to working for every measure of practical amelioration which it may be possible to obtain from "either English Party, or from both," and that the co-operation of Irishmen of all creeds and classes willing to aid in the attainment of any or all of those objects should be cordially welcomed. Within a week Mr Redmond conveyed to Mr O'Brien his desire for a Conference on unity. It was duly held. Mr O'Brien's proposals were substantially agreed to. It will be observed that they were a solemn reiteration of the principles of Conference and Conciliation, which was the bed-rock basis of the Party policy in its most useful and memorable year, 1903. It is possible that if Mr O'Brien's suggestion for a National Convention to give the new Unity an enthusiastic "send-off" had been agreed to, many things might have been different to-day. But Mr Dillon never wanted, in those days, if he could help it, to appear before a great assemblage of his countrymen in company with Mr O'Brien. He knew his own limitations for popular appeal too well to risk comparison with the most persuasive Irish orator since the days of O'Connell.

The six of us who rejoined the Party under the foregoing peace treaty were sincerely anxious that the reunion should be cordial and thorough. We saw, however, no manifestations of a similar spirit on the part of Mr Dillon or his special coterie of friends. Mr O'Brien published in his own paper, The Irish People, a communique in which he said:

"I am certain the universal Irish instinct will be, frankly and completely, to drop all disputes as to the past and have no rivalries except as to who shall do most to create good will and a common patriotism among Irishmen of all shades and schools of thought. Let us turn with high hearts from the tragedies of the past to the glorious possibilities of the future."

Our optimism was sadly disappointed when the first occasion came for testing the sincerity of the reunion. A Treasury Report was issued containing proposals for lessening the landlords' bonus under the Purchase Act of 1903 and for increasing the tenants' annuities. (These proposals were later embodied in Mr Birrell's Land Act of 1909 and practically put an end to land purchase and to the beneficent operations of the Act of 1903.) A meeting of the reunited Party was summoned for the Mansion House, Dublin (29th April 1908), to deal with this grave situation, rendered all the more serious by reason of the fact that the Treasury proposals were openly advocated by The Freeman's Journal. One of the clauses of the articles of reunion declared that the co-operation of Irishmen of all classes and creeds willing to aid in the attainment of, among other things, "the completion of the abolition of landlordism" is cordially welcomed. When Mr O'Brien moved, in order that the demands of the Treasury should be met with a united and resolute Irish front, that the Party was prepared to appoint representatives to confer with representatives of the landlords, Mr Dillon at once showed that on no account would be agree to any Conference, and he proposed an amendment that the whole matter should be referred to a Committee of the Irish Party exclusively. This was a fatal blow at the principle on which the Party had been reunited. Whilst the controversy raged around the Conference idea, Mr Redmond spoke never a word, though he saw that "the short-sighted and unwise policy" was again getting the upper hand. Mr Dillon carried his amendment by 45 votes to 15, and thus the treaty on which the Party was reunited was practically torn to pieces before the ink was scarce dry on it.

One further effort was made to try to preserve the Act of 1903 from being ham-strung by the Treasury. A short time previously a deputation of the foremost landed men and representative bodies of Cork had saved Ireland from the importation of Canadian cattle into Britain. It was decided to organise now a still more powerful deputation from the province of Munster to warn the Government of the fatal effects of the proposed Birrell Bill. I had a great deal to do with the preliminaries of the meeting at which this deputation was selected, and I can say with all certainty that if we had had only the most moderate display of political wisdom from Mr Dillon and his friends we could have the great mass of the landlords in Ireland agreeing to the full concession of the constitutional demand for Irish liberty. The Cork meeting was beyond all doubt or question the most remarkable held in Ireland for a century. It was summoned by a Joint Committee drawn from the Nationalist and landlord ranks. On its platform were assembled all the men, either on the landlord or the tenant side, who had been the fiercest antagonists in the agrarian wars of the previous twenty-five years - men who had literally taken their lives in their hands in fighting for their respective causes. It is but the barest truth to say that the evictors and the evicted - the leading actors in the most awful of Ireland's tragedies - stood for the first time in Irish history side by side to join hands in a noble effort to obliterate the past and to redeem the future. It was one of the greatest scenes of true emotion and tremendous hope that ever was witnessed in any land or any time. If its brave and joyous spirit could only have been caught up and passed along, we would have seen long before now that vision glorious which inspired the deeds and sacrifices of Tone and Emmet and the other magnificent line of martyrs for Irish liberty - we would have witnessed that brotherhood of class and creed which is Ireland's greatest need, and upon which alone can her eventual happiness and liberty rest. And, most striking incident of all, here had met, in a blessed forgetfulness of past rancours and of fierce blows given and received, the two most redoubtable champions of the landlords and the tenants - Lord Barrymore and Mr William O'Brien, the men whose sword blows upon each other's shields still reverberated in the minds of everyone present. What a study for a painter, or poet, or philosopher! The most dauntless defender of landlordism, in a generous impulse of what I believe to be the most genuine patriotism, stood on a platform with Mr William O'Brien, whom he had fought so resolutely in the Plan of Campaign days, to declare in effect that landlordism could no longer be defended and to agree as to the terms on which it could be ended, with advantage to every section of the Irish nation. It was only magnanimous men - men of fine fibre and a noble moral courage - who could stretch their hands across the yawning chasm of the bad and bitter years, with all their evil memories of hates and wounds and scars and defy the yelpings of the malicious minds who were only too glad to lead on the pack, to shout afterwards at Mr O'Brien: "Barrymore!" when of a truth, of all the achievements of Mr O'Brien's crowded life of effort and accomplishment there is not one that should bring more balm to his soul or consolation to his war-worn heart than that he should have induced the enemy of other days to pay this highest of all tributes to his honesty and worth. He had convinced his enemy of his rectitude, and what greater deed than this! I confess it made my ears tingle with shame when I used to hear unthinking scoundrels, egged on by others who should have known better, shout "Barrymore!" at Mr O'Brien in their attempts to hold him up to public odium for an act which might easily have been made the most benign in his life, as it certainly was one of the most noble.

This memorable meeting of the erstwhile warring hosts agreed absolutely as to the main conditions on which the Land Settlement of 1903 ought to be preserved - viz. that the abolition of landlordism should be completed in the briefest possible time, that the rate of tenant purchasers' annuity should remain undisturbed, and that the State bonus to the landlords should not be altered. If there were to be losses on the notation of land loans the loss should be borne by the Imperial Treasury for the greatest of all Imperial purposes. A deputation of unequalled strength and unrivalled representative character was appointed to submit these views to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. But jealous and perverse and, I must add, blindly malignant, influences had been at work, and a deputation which comprised six peers, eleven Members of Parliament, and some of the leading public men in Munster was refused a hearing by Mr Birrell. Though the act was the act of Mr Birrell, all the world knew that the sinister figure in the background was Mr Dillon. And they have both paid the penalty since then of their follies, not to say crimes - though a nation still suffers for them.