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The cartoon refers to Conservative/Unionist attempts to delay the passage of Gladstone's Second Home Rule Bill through the House of Commons by talking it out. Gladstone (appearing much more youthful than in real life) is shown with his emblem, the tree-felling axe, accompanied by "Pat" the stereotypical honest Irishman. The blacks lurking behind trees include Arthur James Balfour (Conservative leader in the Commons; higher of the two faces on the right, with sideburns and open mouth) and Liberal Unionist leader Joseph Chamberlain (with eyeglass) the monkey with long moustaches on the branch overhead represents the Ulster Unionist leader Edward Saunderson.
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