One of the many crises afflicting Asquith's premiership was the Irish rebellion of Easter 1916. This seems to have caught the government by surprise, Asquith confiding to Sylvia Henley that it came as 'a bolt from the blue'.
We can see the private reactions in high political circles where it seems that at first some found it difficult to take the Rising seriously. The papers of the under-secretary for Ireland, Sir Matthew Nathan, include details of day-to-day occurrences in the streets of Dublin during the Rising as reported to the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The heavy-handed British response turned what had been a small revolt into a national movement.
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MS. Eng. d. 3214, fols. 396v-397r â€˜The P.M gave me the astonishing newsâ€¦â€™ - Harcourtâ€™s journal, 25 April 1916, p.1
CMD 6231 - (1916), p.1 Harcourt Papers â€˜The PM gave me the astonishing newsâ€¦â€™ - Harcourtâ€™s journal, 25 April 1916, p.2
CMD 6231 - (1916), facisimile of p.2 Harcourt Papers â€˜A real bolt from the blueâ€™ - Letter from Asquith to Sylvia Henley, 26 April 1916
MS. Eng. lett. c. 542/3, fols 640v-641r