Sayfadaki görseller
[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

tion excited such general admiration, that his mother, in answer
to the congratulations of the neighbourhood upon so flattering a
proof of her son's abilities, could not avoid tempering her mater-
nal exultation with Christian regret, and exclaiming—“Oh, yes, it
was very fine; but it breaks my heart to think what a noble
preacher was lost to the church when John disappointed us all,
and insisted on becoming a lawyer." All his subsequent success
and celebrity at the bar could never completely reconcile her to
the change; and in her latter years, when her friends, to gratify
and console ber, used to remind her that she had lived to see her
favorite child one of the judges of the land, she would still reply-
"Don't speak to me of judgesJohn was fit for anything; and had
he but followed our advice, it might hereafter be written upon my
tomb, that I had died the mother of a bishop.”

This excellent and pious woman died about the year 1783, at the advanced age of eighty. It is not written upon her tomb that she died the mother of a bishop or of a judge; but there is to be seen upon it an attestation to her worth from the son who was her pride, which, as long as virtue and filial gratitude are preferred to the glare of worldly dignities, will be considered as an epitaph no less honorable both to the parent and the child.*

It was during the second year of his college studies that he fixed on the profession of the law. In his original intention of taking orders he had been influenced by the wishes of his friends,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


* Her remains lie in the churchyard of Newmarket; over them is the following epitaph, written by Mr. Curran :



She was marked by

Many Years,
Many Talents,
Many Virtues,
Few Failings,

No Crime.
This frail memorial was placed here by a

Whom she loved.

[ocr errors]


and by the promise of a small living in the gift of a distant relative, and probably still more strongly by a habitual preference for the calling to which his early patron belonged; but his ambition soon overruled all these motives, and he selected the bar as more suited to his temperament and talents. According to his own account, it was the following incident that suggested the first idea of a change in his destination.

He had committed some breach of the college regulations, for which he was sentenced by the Censor, Dr. Patrick Duigenan, either to pay a fine of five shillings, or translate into Latin a number of the Spectator. He found it more convenient to accept the latter alternative; but, on the appointed day, the exercise was not ready, and some unsatisfactory excuse was assigned. Against the second offence a heavier penalty was denounced—he was condemned to pronounce a Latin oration in laudem decori from the pulpit in the college chapel. He no longer thought of evading his sentence, and accordingly prepared the panegyric; but when he came to recite it, he had not proceeded far before it was found to contain a mock model of ideal perfection, which the Doctor instantly recognized to be a glaring satire upon himself. As soon, therefore, as the young orator had concluded, and descended from his station, he was summoned before the Provost and Fellows to account for his behaviour. Doctor Duigenan was not very popular, and the Provost was secretly not displeased at any circumstance that could mortify him. He, therefore, merely went through the form of calling upon the offender for an explanation, and listening with indulgence to the ingenuity with which he attempted to soften down the libel, dismissed him with a slight reproof. When Mr. Curran returned among his companions, they surrounded him to hear the particulars of his acquittal. He reported to them all that he had said, “and all that he had not said, but that he might have said;" and impressed them with so high an idea of his legal dexterity that they declared, by common acclamation, that the bar, and the bar alone, was the proper pro

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

fession for one who possessed the talents of which he had that day given such a striking proof. He accepted the omen, and never after repented of his decision.

In College he distinguished himself by his social powers. He had such a fund of high spirits and of popular anecdote; his ordinary conversation was so full of “ wit, and fun, and fire,” that in the convivial meetings of his fellow-students he was never omitted. His general reputation among them was that of being very clever and very wild. He often joined in those schemes of extravagant frolic so prevalent in that University, and after one of the nocturnal broils to which they usually led, was left wounded and insensible from loss of blood to pass the remainder of the night on the pavement of Dublin.

He was at this time supported partly from the funds appropriated to the sizers, and partly by scanty remittances from Newmarket. But he was frequently without a shilling; for he was incorrigibly improvident, and would often squander, in entertaining his companions, what should have been meted out to answer the demands of the coming quarter. Yet, whatever his privations were, be bore them with singular good humor, and when he had no longer money to treat his friends, he never failed to divert them with ludicrous representations of his distresses and expedients.

One of his sayings while he was in College has been preserved, and is a favorable instance of the felicitous use that he made of his classical knowledge in the production of comical effect.* A fellow-student in reciting a Latin theme assigned a false quantity

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

* Another classical application shews his readiness, if not his wit. A gentleman of very ordinary countenance, whose forehead was so prominent on the one side that it rose like a rugged hill, while on the other it was depressed like a valley, being charged by one of his friends with an affair of gallantry, blushed exceedingly, and defended him. Bell from the imputation by good bumoredly offering his deformity as a proof of his innocence; on which Carran observed : "On the first blush I should think you ought to be acquitted, but the maxim is still strong against you-Fronți nulla fides, nimium no erede colori, "--M,

[ocr errors][merged small]

to the syllable mi in the word nimirum. A buzz of disapprobation succeeded ; Mr. Curran, to relieve his friend's confusion observed, “ that it was by no means surprising that an Irish student should be ignorant of what was known by only one man in Rome, according to the following testimony of Horace

“Septimius, Claudi, nimirum intelligit unus."

He was at this early period remarkable for his disposition to subtle disputation and metaphysical inquiries, connected with which a circumstance may be mentioned that strikingly illustrates the speculative propensities of his young and ardent mind. A frequent topic of conversation with one of his companions was the investigation of the nature of death and eternity, and the immortality of the soul ; but finding that the farther they followed the bewildering light of reason, the more they were “in, wandering mazes lost,” they came to the romantic agreement, that whoever of them might first receive the summons to another state, should, if permitted, for once revisit the survivor, and relieve his doubts by revealing, whatever could be revealed to him, of the eternal secret. A very few years after, the summons came to Mr. Curran's friend, who, finding his end approach, caused a letter to be addressed to his former fellow-student, apprising him of the impending event, and of his intention to perform his promise (if it should be allowed) on a particular night. The letter did not reach its destination till after the expiration of the appointed hour; but it was the first, and the only intimation, that arrived of the writer's decease.

Something of the same turn of mind may be observed in a little poem that Mr. Curran wrote the year before he left Trinity College. One of his contemporaries there, was a young gentleman, named Apjohn, with whom he became intimately connected by a community of taste and pursuits, and who claims a passing mention as a friend from whose example and encouragement ho

[graphic][merged small][merged small]



derived the most important advantages at this trying period of his career, when hope and ardour were the most precious benefits that a friend could bestow.

During a temporary absence of Apjohn from college, a report reached his companions that he had died suddenly at his native place, Killaloe. It was soon discovered to have been unfounded, upon which occasion, while the others congratulated him in prose, his more ambitious friend addressed him in the following versos :

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

The doleful tale around was spread :
“ Hast heard the news? Poor Apjohn's tlead !"-
" Imposeible!”'_" Indeed it's true-

He's dead and so is Casey too-
In Limerick this, and that Killaloe.
As St. Paul says, 'we all must die!'
I'm sorry for ’t.”—“ Faith so'm 1-
Extremely so—But tell me, pray,
If you were on the ice to-day?
There was great skating there, they say—"
" I could n’t go for want of shoes
In truth I'm sorry for the news-
And yet I knew and always said,
When be had got into his head
That strange abstemious resolution,
'Twould quite destroy his constitution."
Thus careless, tearless sorrow spoke,
And heaved the sigh, or told the joke,
Yet, must I own, there were a few
Who gave your memory its due ;

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ÖncekiDevam »