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ENTEEND according to Act of Congress, in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred And Fifty five, by
J. S. REDFIELT), in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern
District of New York.
ever native of Irish soil, was the centre of the sparkling wits, the
renowned orators, the brilliant advocates, and the honored statesmen who
flashed upon the darkness of his conntry's latest hours of freedom, and
vainly endeavored to maintain the national independence which they had
achieved for her. His life is identified with the latest years of Ireland's
nationality. He manifested an independence as advocate for the accused,
during the State Trials, which endeared him to the people from whose
ranks he sprung. To use the words of Thomas Davis (who resembled him
many things), he was
a companion unrivalled in sympathy and wit ;
an orator, whose thoughts went forth like ministers of nature, with robes of light and swords in their hands; a patriot, who battled best when the flag was trampled down; and a genuine earnest man, breathing of his climate, his country, and his time.”
He has been fortunate in his biographers. The life by his Son (who is yet living), contains materials which were inaccessible to other writers. Also came a volume of Recollections by Charles Phillips, who knew him well in his later years—a work which, greatly enlarged, was republished a few years ago, with all the charm of novelty. Later still appeared the Memoir,
but brief tribute by one honest and gifted man to the worth and memory
of another. Anterior to all these is the Memoir, by William O'Regan (the
friend and contemporary of Curran, and often engaged with him in the
same causes), written during Curran's lifetime, with his knowledge, if not
with his direct sanction, and published within six weeks after his death
a book little known, but full of interesting personal details, and abounding
with anecdotal and other illustrations of Curran's wit.
It appeared to me that there was sufficient in the career and character
of Curran to interest not only the members of his own profession but a
large number of general readers in this country.
I have therefore
taken the life by his Son, and without alterations or omissions, have
introduced a large quantity of new matter, principally relating to his
legislative and personal life.
These additions will be found between
brackets, and, with the notes which I have occasionally found it requi
site to add, bave made the Memoir more full of interest than any yet
In the Appendix I have placed a few specimens of the wit with which
Curran and his friends were wont " to set the table in a roar,"
The portrait which embellishes this work is a characteristic likeness, by
Comerford, of Dublin, now for the first time engraved in this country, and
little known even in Ireland.
R. SHELTON MACKENZIE.
New York, September 20, 1865.