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which she enforced upon the minds of her children. She was not without her reward, she lived to see the dearest of them surpassing every presage, and accumulating public honors upon a name, which she, in her station, had adorned by her virtues.
John Philpot, the eldest of their sons,* having given very early indications of an excellent capacity, the Rev. Nathaniel Boyse, the resident clergyman at Newmarket, pleased with the boy, and moved by regard for his parents, received him into his house, and by his own personal tuition initiated him in the rudiments of classical learning. This, his first acquired friend and instructor, had also the satisfaction of seeing all his care repaid by the rapidity with which its object ascended to distinction, and still more by the unceasing gratitude with which he ever after remembered the patron of his childhood. Many of this gentleman's letters to him, written at a subsequent period, remain; and it is not unpleasing to observe in them the striking revolution that a few years had effected in the fortunes of his pupil. In some of them the little villager, whom he had adopted, is seen exalted into a senator, and is solicited by his former protector to procure the enactment of a statute that might relieve himself and all of the clergy from the vexations of the tythelaws.
The rapid progress that he made under the instructions of Mr. Boyse, and the fond predictions of his parents, determined them to give their son, what has always been a prevailing object of parental ambition in Ireland, a learned education. It was also their wish, which he did not oppose at the time, that he should eventually enter the church. With this view he was soon transferred to the free-school of Middleton, upon which occasion his generous friend insisted upon resigning a particular ecclesiastical emolument (in value 101. a year) for the purpose of partly defraying the expenses of his young favorite's studies.t He remained
* Mr. Curran had three brothers and a sister, all of whom he survived. + O'Regan says that he was “transplanted” to the school of Middleton, by Mrs. it of
at this school until he had attained the preparatory knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, which should capacitate him to become a student of Trinity College, Dublin. It may not be unworthy of remark, that the same seminary had, a few years before, sent up to the capital the late Lord Avonmore, then commencing his career in circumstances, and with a success so resembling those of his future friend.*
The early history of eminent persons so generally contains some presaging tokens of the fortune that awaits them, that something of the kind may be expected here, yet Mr. Curran's childhood, if tradition can be credited, was not marked by much prophetic originality. At the first little school in the town of Newmarket to which he resorted, previous to his reception into Mr. Boyse's family, he used to say that he was noted for his simplicity, and was incessantly selected as the dupe and butt of his play-fellows. This, however, it would appear that he soon laid aside, for
Aldworth. In mature life, speaking of this lady, Curran said, " It is not to be wondered at, that she does not do all that is expected of her. To be enabled so to do, nature should have supplied her with three hands. It is impossible that, stintedly furnished as she is, she could accomplish the great purposes of her heart; she is not prepared for 80 enlarged a charity. Such in truth is her benevolence, that she would have occasion for the constant employment of three hands; but having only two, and these always engaged, one in holding the petition of the poor, the other in wiping away the tears which flow for their distresses; and not having a third to put into her pocket for their relief, she is thus rendered incapable of administering to their wants; but still she is excellent, and her heart is bountiful.”-M.
* Another of Curran's schoolfellows at Middleton, was Jeremiah Keller, subsequently Well known as the witty and sardonic senior of the Munster bar.
He presided, says Sheil, at their mess, "and ruled in all the autocracy of wit.” Yelverton, afterwards Viscount Avonmore, and, for more than twenty-one years, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, in Ireland, was fourteen years older than Curran-which leads me to doubt their having been at school together, though, no doubt, both had been educated by the same master, Mr. Carey. Robert Day, afterwards one of the Irish Judges, and a friend of Grattan's, is also said to have been Curran's schoolfellow.-M.
† Thomas Davis, who was himself from that part of Ireland, honored by Curran's birth and pupilage, gathered up many recollections of his childood, which had floated down to these later times, on the current of tradition. He reports, from there, that Curran, at school, was "a vehement boy, fonder of fun than books." He describes him as being among the hills and the streams, his father's court, the fairs, markets, and merry-makings, and his mother's lap. He learned much passion and sharpness, and some vices, too.-M.
a puppet-show having arrived in Newmarket, and Punch's prompter being taken suddenly ill, he, then a very little boy, volunteered to perform the sick man's duty, and seizing the opportunity, mercilessly satirized the reigning vices of the neighbours. This is almost the only exploit of his childhood that has been related.
He entered Trinity College as a sizer, in 1769, being then nineteen years old, an age at which the students of the present day have, for the most part, nearly completed their college course.* Here he studied the classical writings of antiquity with great ardour, and with eminent success. Nor did his enthusiastic admiration of them ever after subside. Amidst all the distractions of business and ambition, he was all his life returning with fresh delight to their perusa!; and in the last journey that he ever took, Horace and Virgil were his travelling companions. He obtained a scholarship, and that his general scholastic attainments were not inconsiderable, may be inferred from his having commenced a course of reading for a fellowship,t but, deterred by the labor, or diverted by accident, he soon gave up the project.
When we reflect upon the lustre of his future career, it becomes a matter of natural curiosity to inquire how far his mind now began to indicate those qualities, by which it was to be subsequently so distinguished; and upon this interesting subject there happened to be preserved some documents, principally a portion of his early correspondence and his first poetical attempts, from which a few occasional extracts shall be offered, for the purpose of giving some idea of the writer's juvenile habits and capacity. Whatever may be considered to be their intrinsic merit, several
* Curran entered Trinity College, Dublin, on the 16th June, 1769. The examination is & severe one, but Curran's answering must have been very good, as he obtained the second place at entrance. His Sizarship entitled him to free rooms and commons, at College.-M.
# O'Regan states that besides acquiring an intimate acquaintance with the Classics, Curran had made considerable advance in science, particularly in metaphysics and morality, while the purest modern classics in the English and French literature, became equally familiar to him. With the Bible he was familiar, and once said, “It would be a reproach not to examine the merits of a work in which all mankind are so much engaged, and have taken so deep an interest."--M.
of them were at least written with considerable care, and may therefore be introduced as no unfair specimens of the progress of his intellectual strength. To the student of eloquence their defects will not be without instruction, if they inspire him with a reliance
upon that labor and cultivation, which alone conduct to excellence.
One of the most intimate friends of Mr. Curran's youth, and of his riper years, was the late Rev. Richard Stack, his contemporary at Trinity College, and since a fellow of that University.* The following is a formal letter of consolation to that gentleman upon the death of a brother. The writer had just completed his 20th year, and appears to have been so pleased with his performance, that no less than three transcripts of it remain in his own handwriting
" DUBLIN, August 20, 1770. “Dear Dick.
“ I am sorry to find by your letter (which I have just now received), that you judge my silence for some time past with so much more severity than it deserves. Can
friend suspect me of being unconcerned at his sorrows ? I would have wrote to you on hearing from Vincent of his late misfortune, but that I was unwilling to press a subject upon your thoughts which you should take
every means of avoiding. To offer consolation to a man of sense, upon the first stroke of affliction, is perhaps one of the most cruel offices that friendship can be betrayed into. All the fine things that can be addressed to the fancy will have but small effect in removing a distemper fixed in the heart. Time and reflection only can cure that; and happy is it for us that in this chequered scene, where everything feels perpetual decay, and seems created only for dissolution, our sorrows cannot boast of exemption from the common fate. Time, though he sometimes tears up our happiness by the roots, yet, to inake amends for that,
* Mr. Stack wrote a Treatise on Optics, long a College Text-book.-M.
kindly holds out a remedy for our afflictions; and though he violently breaks our dearest connexions, yet he is continually teaching us to be prepared for the blow. 'Tis true, nature on these occasions will weep, but, my dear Dick, reason and reflection should wipe away these tears. A few years may see us numbered with those whom we now regret, or will give us cause to congratulate those whose happy lot it was, by an early retreat from this scene of misery and disappointment, to escape those troubles which their survivors are reserved to suffer. 'Tis true, the inattention of youth will leave the great account more unsettled than might be wished; but at this age, we have everything to plead for that defect—the violence of passions, want of reason to moderate them. Faults, no doubt we have, but they are the faults of youth, of inexperience; not a course of wickedness riveted by habit, and aggravated by obdurate perseverance, which (heaven help us) in a length of years they may become; but, above all, that Being who is pleased to call us so suddenly from hence, has mercy and compassion to make allowance for these involuntary omissions. But I find I have fallen unawares upon a theme which I had no intention to pursue so far, as I was persuaded your own good sense would suggest much stronger reasons for your consolation than I could.
“J. P. C."
At the date of this letter, the writer, if he looked forward to fame, expected to find it in the pulpit; but this, and a short religious discourse, are all that remain of his early compositions, which, from the style, would uppear to be written with a view to his first destination. Mr. Stack, however, entertained so very high an opinion of his talents for the solemn eloquence of the church, that being appointed a few years after (1775) to preach before the judges of assize at Cork, and being anxious that his matter should be worthy of his auditors, he entreated of his young friend, who was then upon the spot, and going his first circuit, to compose a sermon for the occasion. Mr. Curran complied; and his produc