« ÖncekiDevam »
mirth became expanded into the nobler warmth of social virtue, and the horizon of the board became enlarged into the horizon of man—where the swelling heart conceived and communicated the pure and generous purpose—where my slenderer and younger taper imbibed its borrowed light from the more matured and redundant fountain of yours. Yes, my Lord, we can remember those nights without any other regret than that they can never more return, for
** We spent them not in toys, or lusts, or wine,
But search of deep philosophy,
Wit, eloquence, and poesy,
Lord Avonmore one of those men in whom a rare intellect and vast acquirements are found united with the most artless unsuspecting innocency of nature.
Whatever the person in whom he confided asserted, he considered to be as undoubted as if he had uttered it himself. His younger friend, aware of this amiable imperfection, used often to trifle with it, and, in moments of playful relaxation, to practice harmless impositions upon his lordship's credulity. His ordinary artifice was to touch his sensibility, and thus excite his attention by relating in his presence some affecting incident, and, then pretending to be unconscious that his lordship was listening, to proceed with a detail of many strange and improbable particulars, until he should be interrupted, as he regularly was, by the good judge's exclaiming, “Gracious heavens! sir, is it posssible? I have overheard all those most truly amazing circumstances, which I could never have
* Lord Avonmore, in whose breast political resentment was easily subdued, by the same noble tenderness of feeling which distinguished the late Mr. Fox upon a more celebrated occasion, could not withstand this appeal to his heart. At this period (1805) there was a suspension of intercourse between him and Mr. Curran; but the moment the court rose, his Lordship sent for his friend, and threw himself into his arms, declaring that unworthy artifices had been used to separate them, and that they should never succeed in future.-C.
believed, if they did not come from such good authority." His lordship at length discovered the deception, and passing into the opposite extreme, became (often ludicrously) wary and incredulous as to every thing that Mr. Curran stated. Still, however, the latter persisted, and, quickening his invention as the difficulties increased, continued from year to year to gain many a humourous triumph over all the defensive caution of his friend. Even upon the bench, Lord Avonmore evinced the same superstitious apprehension of the advocate's ingenuity, whom he would frequently interrupt, sometimes in a tone of endearment, sometimes of impatience, saying, "Mr. Curran, I know your cleverness; but it's quite in vain for you to go on. I see the drift of it all, and you are only giving yourself and me unnecessary trouble.” Upon one of these occasions, the judge having frequently interposed to prevent the counsel's putting forward some topic that was really relative and necessary to his case, declaring, as often as it was attempted, that the tendency of his argument was quite obvious, and that he was totally straying from the question, Mr. Curran addressed him thus : “ Perhaps, my lord, I am straying; but you must impute it to the extreme agitation of my mind. I have just witnessed so dreadful a circumstance, that my imagination has not yet recovered from the shock.” His lordship was now all attention. " On my way to court, my lord, as I passed by one of the markets, I observed a butcher proceeding to slaughter a calf. Just as his hand was raised, a lovely little child approached him unperceived, and, terrible to relate—I still see the life-blood gushing out, the poor child's bosom was under his hand, when he plunged his knife into--into"- -“ Into the bosom of the child !" cried out the judge, with much emotion—"into the neck of the calf, my lord; but your lordship sometimes anticipates."*
There are no reports of Mr. Curran's early speeches at the bar; but the celerity of his ascent to distinction in his profession, and in the public estimation, may be inferred from the date of bis
* Phillips also tells this story, but has worked it up too dramatically.-M.
entrance into Parliament. He had been only seven years at the bar, when Mr. Longfield (afterwards Lord Longueville) had him returned for a borough in his disposal.* At this time boroughs were the subject of notorious traffic, and it seldom happened that the members returned for them did not bind themselves to remunerate the patrons in money or in services. There was no such stipulation in the present instance; the seat was given to Mr.
express condition of perfect freedom on his part; but having soon differed from Mr. Longfield on political subjects, and there being then no way of vacating, he insisted upon purchasing a seat, to be filled by any person whom that gentleman might appoint; an arrangement against which, it is but justice to add, that Mr. Longfield anxiously endeavoured to dissuade him.t
* The borough of Kilbeggan, for which the other member was the celebrated Mr. Flood. It was also about this period that Mr. Curran obtained a silk gown.-C.
+ In the succeeding parliament Mr. Curran also came in, at his own expense, for the borough of Rathcormack.-C.
The Irish House of Commons, in 1783—Sketch of the previous history of Ireland-Effects
of the revolution of 1688—Catholic penal code-System of governing Ireland—Described by Mr. Curran–Intolerance and degradation of the Irish parliament-Change of system-Octennial bill-American Revolution-Its effects upon Ireland-The Irish volun. teers--Described by Mr. Curran-Their numbers, and influence upon public measures –Irish revolution of 1782-Mr. Grattan's public services-Observations upon the subsequent conduct of the Irish Parliament.
It was at the eventful era of 1783 that Mr. Curran became a member of the Irish House of Commons*—an assembly at that day thronged with groups of original historic characters, the
* The manner in which Curran got a seat in Parliament has been thus related, as well authenticated:” Lord Longueville, an Irish peer, with vast property, and large boroughinterest, wishing to avail himself of Curran's talents, offered him a seat in Parliament. Curran replied that his politics were opposed to the party to which Lord L. belonged. He was reminded, with a laugh, that patriotism was unprofitable, and that, with a young family, his good sense would tell him so. Some time after, one of Curran's friends asked him for a frank, and informed him that he was gazetted as member for one of Lord Longueville's boroughs. He took his seat, and voted against Lord L.'s friend, the minister. In explanation, he said that he entered Parliament independent and unshackled, and that so he would remain. At that time, he had saved only five hundred pounds. This money, and about twice as much more, which he borrowed from his friends, he sent to Lord Longueville, in payment for his seat.-M.
+ Of some of these, Mr. Grattan (in his answer to Lord Clare's pamphlet, 1801) has given the following masterly sketches, over which he has, perhaps, unconsciously distri. buted the noble traits which, if collected, would form the portrait of himself.
"I follow the author through the graves of these honourable dead men, for most of them are so, and I beg to raise up their tombstones as he throws them down; I feel it more instructive to converse with their ashes than with his compositions.
" Mr. Malone, one of the characters of 1758, was a man of the finest intellect that any country ever produced. "The three ablest men I ever heard were Mr. Pitt (the father), Mr. Murray, and Mr. Malone. For a popular assembly, I would choose Mr. Pitt; for a privy council, Murray; for twelve wise men, Malone. This was the opinion which Lord Sackville, the secretary of 1753, gave to a gentleman from whom I heard it. He is a great sea in the calm,' said Mr. Gerrard Hamilton, another great judge of men and talents ; 'Ay,' it was replied, “but had you seen him when he was young, you would have said he was a great sea in a storm.' And like the sea, whether in calm or storm, he was a great production of nature.
“Lord Pery.-He is not yet canonized by death; but he, like the rest, has been canon. ized by slander. He was more or less a party in all those measures which the pamphlet condemns, and indeed in every great statute and measure that took place in Ireland for the last fifty years. A man of the most legislative capacity I ever knew, and the most comprehensive reach of understanding I ever saw; with a deep-engraven impression of public care, accompanied by a temper which was adamant. In his train is every private virtue that can adorn human nature.
* Mr. Brownlow-Sir William Osborne. I wish we had more of these criminals. The former seconded the address of 1782, and in the latter, and in both, there was a station of mind that would have become the proudest senate in Europe.
"Mr. Flood, my rival, as the pamphlet calls him: and I should be unworthy the charac. ter of his rival, if in the grave I did not do him justice.- lle had his faults; but he had great powers, great public effect; he persuaded the old, he inspired the young; the Castle vanished before him. On a small subject, he was miserable : put into his hand a distaff, and, like Hercules, he made sad work of it: but give himn the thunderbolt, and he had the arm of a Jupiter. He misjudged when he transferred himself to the English Parliament ; he forgot that he was a tree of the forest, too old and too great to be transplanted at fifty; and his fate in the British Parliament is a caution to the friends of union to stay at home, and make the country of their birth the seat of their action.
" Mr. Daly, my beloved friend.-He, in a great measure, drew the address of 1779, in favour of our trade, tható ungracious measure;' and he saw, read, and approved of the address of 1782, in favour of our constitution, that address of separation. He visited me in my illness, at that moment, and I had communication on those subjects with that man whose powers of oratory were next to perfection, and whose powers of understand. ing, I might say, from what has lately happened, bordered on the spirit of prophecy.
* Mr. Forbes-a name I shall ever regard, and a death I shall ever deplore.—Enlight. ened, sensible, laborious, and useful; proud in poverty, and patriotic; he preferred exile to apostacy, and met his death. I speak of the dead—I say nothing of the living; but that I attribute to this constellation of great men, in a great measure, the privileges of your country; and I attribute such a generation of men to the residence of your Parliament,
"Mr. Burgh: another great person in those scenes which it is not in the little quill of this author to depreciate. He was a man singularly gifted, with great talent, great variety-wit, oratory, and logic. He, too, had his weakness; but he had the pride of genius, also, and strove to raise his country along with himself, and never sought to build bis elevation on the degradation of Ireland. I moved an amendment for a free export; he moved a better amendment, and be lost his place. I moved a declaration of rights: "With my last breath will I support the right of the Irish Parliament,' was his note to me, when I applied to him for his support ; he lost the chance of recovering his place and his way to the seals, for which he might have bartered. The gates of promotion were shut on him, as those of glory opened."-C.
Walter Hussey Burgh, thus eulogized by Grattan, merits more particular notice. Called