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is referred for abundant illustrations of the apprehended crisis to the decline and fall of the Irish Legislature. In contemplating that scene, he will have an opportunity of observing the great leading symptoms, and (which may equally deserve his attention) of discerning the minute, but no less unerring signs which portend that the spirit which gives it life is about to depart from the representative body; and should it ever be his calamity to witness, what he will find Ireland was condemned to see, the members of that body betraying, by their conduct and language, that they held their station as a portion of their private property, rather than as a temporary, public trust-should he observe a general and insatiate appetite for power, for the sake of its emoluments and not its honours—should he see, as Ireland did, grave and authenticated charges of public delinquency answered by personal menaces, or by most indecent ridicule-skilful duellists and jesters held in peculiar honour-public virtue systematically discountenanced, by imputing its profession to a factious disappointed spirit-should he see,

within the walls of the Commons' assembly, a standing brigade of mercenaries, recognising no duty beyond fidelity to their employers, the Swiss defenders of any minister or any principleshould he, lastly, observe a marked predilection for penal restraints, an unseemly propensity to tamper with the Constitution, by experimental suspensions of its established usages-should Englishmen ever find all, or many of these to be the characteristics of the depositories of their rights, let them remember the prediction of the philosopher, and the fate of Ireland, and be assured that their boasted securities are becoming but a name.

But to record at length the progress of that fate, to dwell in any

the various characters, and the various inducements (whether of hope, terror, avarice, ambition, or public duty) of the men who accelerated, and of those who would have averted the catastrophe, might well be the subject of a separate and a very considerable work. It will be sufficient for the purposes of Mr. Curran's history to have made these cursory allusions to the

detail upon

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spirit of the times in which he acted, leaving more ample developments of it to himself, in the specimens of his eloquence that will be found in the following pages.

Mr. Curran's Parliamentary speeches have been always, and justly, considered as inferior to his displays at the Bar. To this deficiency many circumstances contributed. Depending solely upon his profession for support, he was not only seldom able to give an undivided attention to the questions that were brought before the senate, but he perpetually came to the discussion of them, exhausted by the professional labours of the day. The greater number of the important questions that emanated from the Opposition were naturally introduced by the older leaders of that party; while he, whose talents were most powerful in reply, was reserved to combat the arguments of the other side. The debates, upon these occasions, were in general protracted to a very late hour, so that it often happened, when Mr. Curran rose to speak, that the note-takers were sleeping over their task, or had actually quitted the gallery. But, most of all, the same carelessness of fame, which has left his speeches at the Bar in their present uncorrected state, has irretrievably injured his Parliamentary reputation. While other members sat up whole nights retouching their speeches for publication, he alınost invariably abandoned his to their fate, satisfied with having made the exertion that his sense of duty dictated; and deeming it of little moment that what had failed of success within the house should circulate and be applauded without.*

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, however, his career in Parliament supplies much that is in the highest degree honourable to his talents, spirit, and public integrity; of which the leading examples shall be adverted to as they occur in the order of time.

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Another circumstance contributed greatly to the inaccuracy of the reported speeches of such opposition members as would not take the pains of correcting them. The most skilful note-takers, of whom the number was very small, were in the service of the Govcroment, and considered it a part of their duty to suppress whatever it might not be agreeable to the Administration to see published.-C.

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CHAPTER VI.

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Mr. Flood's plan of Parliamentary Reform-Mr. Curran's contest and duel with Mr. Fita

gibbon (afterwards Lord Clare)-Speech on Pensions-His professional success—Mode of life-Occasional verses—Visits France-Letters from Dieppe and Rouen-Anecdote --Letters from Paris-Anecdote-Letter from Mr. Boyse-Anecdote of Mr. Boyse—Letters from Holland.

The first occasion upon which Mr. Curran's name appears in the Parliamentary register, is in the tempestuous debate of November 29, 1783, upon Mr. Flood's proposition for a Reform in Parliament.* The Convention of Volunteers, by whom Mr. Flood's plan had been approved, was still sitting in Dublin. About four o'clock in the afternoon of the 29th of November, that gentleman rose in the Convention, and proposed that he, accompanied by such members of Parliament as were then present, should immediately go down to the House of Commons, and move for leave to bring in a bill exactly corresponding with the plan of reform approved of by them, and that the Convention should not adjourn till the fate of his motion was ascertained. Lord Charlemont's biographer, who, apparently with much reason, condemns the violence of this proceeding, describes the scene in the House of Commons as terrific: several of the minority, and all the delegates from the Convention, appeared in their military uniforms. As to the debate, “it was uproar, it was clamour, violent menace, and furious recrimination."In the little that Mr. Curran said, he supported Mr. Flood's motion.I

* This is an error. Curran's name first appears in the Parliamentary Debates on November 12, 1783, when he briefly objected to the issue of a new writ for Enniscarthy. Again, on November 18, he casually recommended immediate attention to the claims of some distressed manufacturers. Mr. Curran, as member for the borough of Kilbeggan, was then colleague of Henry Flood.--M,

+ Hardy's Life of Lord Charlemant, page 270, where the particulars of this interesting scene are very strikingly detailed.-C.

$ Barry Yelverton, then Attorney-General, had made a damaging speech against

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In the following month he spoke more at length in prefacing a motion on the right of the House of Commons to originate money bills; but as neither this, nor any of his parliamentary speeches during the session of 1783 and 1784, contain much that is remarkable, it would be unnecessarily swelling these pages to dwell upon them in detail.

[Some notice of Curran's early parliamentary career may not be quite uninteresting. On December 16, 1783, on moving that it is the sole and undoubted privilege of the Commous of Ireland to originate all bills of supply and grants of public money, in such manner, and with such clauses as they shall think proper,” Curran spoke at some length, declaring that he was no party man, and entering into a history of the right of the Commons to originate and frame money-bills. He said, “I lament that a learned and honourable member, with whom I once had the pleasure of living on terms of friendship, is now absent; because I think I might rely upon his supporting the resolution I intend to propose ; that support would, perhaps, renew the intercourse of our friendship, which has been lately interrupted. And I must beg the indulgence of the House to say, that that friendship was upon the footing of perfect equality, not imposed by obligation on the one side, or bound by gratitude by the other; for I thank God, when that friendship commenced, I was above receiving obligations from any man, and therefore, our friendship, as it was more pure and disinterested, as it depended on a sympathy of minds, and congeniality of sentiments, I trusted would have endured the longer. I think myself bound to make this public declaration, as it has gone forth from this House, that I am a man of ingratitude, and to declare, that for any

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Flood's proposition ; Langrishe, George Ponsonby, Fitzgibbon, Burke, and Hutchinson also opposed it. Then weakly but pertly, Hardy (afterwards Lord Charlemont's biographer) spoke in opposition, and Curran's speech, in which he cautioned the House not to make & public declaration against the Volunteers, was in reply to Hardy. Leave to bring in the bill was refused by a large majority; a counter resolution against interference by the Volunteers was then carried : and, soon after, the Convention dissolved.--M,

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of opinion with my learned and right honorable friend, I cannot be taxed with ingratitude; for that I never received any obligation from him, but lived on a footing of perfect equality, save only so far as his great talents and erudition outwent mine."

Leonard MacNally's copy of Curran's speeches, a present from Curran himself, contains a note in which it is stated that the person thus referred to was Barry Yelverton—but their coolness was of a much later date. Besides, their friendship commenced in youth, when neither was in independent circumstances.

On February 14th, 1785, Curran supported an unsuccessful motion of Flood's, that the immediate and effectual retrenchment of the national expenses was necessary.

On the same day, Curran delivered a panegyric on the Volunteers, and personally attacked Mír. Luke Gardiner, whom he called “ the little advocate," for voting ministerially, in the hope of being rewarded by being raised to a higher rank. (In fact, he was created Lord Mountjoy at the Union.) This led to a wordy wrangle with Gardiner, whose defence was undertaken by Fitzgibbon, afterwards Earl of Clare, who, assailing Curran as champion of the Volunteers, said, “As I feel myself in a very different situation from that honourable member, I shall ever entrust the defence of the country to gentlemen, with the King's commission in their pockets, rather than to his friends, the beggars in the streets."]

In the year 1785 took place his quarrel with the late Lord Clare, then Mr. Fitzgibbon, the Attorney-General* an event which deeply affected his future fortunes. During Mr. Curran's first years at the bar they had been on terms of polite and even familiar intercourse;t but the dissimilarity of their public characters, the high aristocratic arrogance of the one, and the

# John Fitzgibbon was made Solicitor-General on November 9th, 1783, and on December 20th, 1753, succeeded Yelverton as Attorney-General. This latter ofice he retained until he was made Lord Chancellor, on August 12th, 1789, his place as leading law officer to the Crown, being then taken by Arthur Wolfe, afterwards Lord Kilwarden.--M.

† The first bag that Mr. Curran ever carried was presented to him by Mr. Fitzgibbon, for good luck's sake.-C.

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