Josephine Butler to Mrs Tanner and Miss M Priestman

Scope and Content

Postcard. Written from Bienne (Switzerland). Refers to 'that unhappy man P[arnell]; and to the whole affair as 'the most terrible tragedy'. [On 17 Nov 1890 the Divorce Court granted a decree nisi to Captain O'Shea in a suit against his wife, in which Parnell was the co-respondent] Also refers to Dillon 'Relieved to see that letter from America from Dillon etc' [Pledging their support to Parnell in his leadership of the Irish Party]. Feels that their own Purity leaders 'fail a little in that other supreme principle of the divine life...Charity'

Administrative / Biographical History

Postmark 5-XII-90 Bienne

'Surely enough has been said about that unhappy man P[arnell]. It is the most terrible tragedy'

First there was the excitement of the 'forged letters' published in 'The Times' Apr 1887 and disproved by a Commission in Feb 1889. (See Note and letter Canon Butler to his son George, 22 Feb 1889). This was followed by the divorce suit of Capt William O'Shea against his wife Katharine, in which Parnell was named as co-respondent. Adultery was proved and a divorce granted 1890. In 1891 Parnell married Mrs O'Shea. The episode ruined Parnell's political career; the Irish group split into Parnellites and anti-Parnellites. Home Rule was in modern parlance 'phased out'.

Biog: Charles Stewart Parnell; WT Stead; HP Hughes