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SKETCHES OF PUBLIC CHARACTERS IN IRELAND.
MR. O'CONNELL, It is strange, when we remember dense cloud of misery over that the close and intimate union that fair but unhappy land; with every has existed between England and cabability of human happiness, she Ireland for ages, how little we are has long been a waste of human yet acquainted with the real charac- misery, with the richest and most ter and manners of the inhabitants productive soil, her population have of the latter country. Long accus been starying in thousands; with as tomed to regard that fine and fertile fine a peasantry as any in Europe, island in the light of a subjugated the nakedness of poverty is every province, and its peasantry as semi where visible; in place of her peobarbarous, prejudice has usurped ple being happy and united, 'she the place of investigation, and en has been a dreary scene of civil pro, quiry has been superseded by cold scription, and a bloody theatre for indifference or contempt. We can contending factions.
Yet, through ourselves almost recollect the time, all this gloom and moral darkness, when a journey to the interior of she has at intervals been illumi. Ireland was considered seriously nated by gleams of the finest genius. hazardous, and its people mentioned The greatest of her orators sleeps as the “ Wild Irish,” just as we now
within the mausoleum of departed speak of the predatory Arabs of glory, but her poet yet lives who Bidulgered, of the Great Desart. has clothed her sufferings in imThe accounts that have been given mortal song. A better day has at us of Ireland base, in general, been length, we trust, dawned over her, prejudiced or superficial: with the The frown of a gracious monarch exception of Arthur Young, Mr. has denounced the bands of faction, Wakefield, and one or two other and proclaimed equal justice and writers, those, who published their protection to all his Irish subjects, Aying tours through that island, Her distresses have been met hy the knew nothing whatever of the coun warmest sympathy in English botry or its inhabitants. Their anec soms, and the stores of their mudotes were collected from the worst Dificence poured out for her relief; and lowest sources, and their bulls calm and tranquility appear again and jokes from some vulgar worn to have resumed their sway; but out jest-book. Time, the great there is yet a great deal to he lone, enlightener, has gradually been and more to be undone in Ireland, working a most important change. Her inhabitants have much to learn As the intercourse between the two and much which the rising genecountries has become more frequent, ration must endeavour to forget. the asperities of prejudice every day The blessings of extended educadisappear. The people of Ireland tion, united with good government, are at length somewhat better can alone banish ignorance and known; their virtues are credited criine, and lead to patient industry, to them as their own, and their fail- and permanent peace and quiet. The ings (which cannot be disguised) introduction of manufactures, par. are charged to the long account of ticularly the great staple one of the oppression and suffering, which, north, the linen trade, into the sou, like a pestilence, has smote the thern and western parts of Ireland land. Centuries of blood and con would bring with it incalculable quest rolled over that hapless coun benefits. Much of the deplorable try, during which the chariot wheels misery now prevailing is owing to of the victor seldom were staid, the facility with which the potatoe and the hand of misgovernment is procured, and the excess of ponever ceased to be busy. The tem- pulation that swarms over the land. pest of woe and destruction, that Famine has been unable to subdue swept over Europe, seemed to have it, and emigration amid so many rolled back on the billows of the millions is scarcely felt or perceived. Atlantic, and to bave settled in one The early and unprovided marriages Eur. Mag. Jan. 1823.
of the Irish peasantry are attended England, and was surpassed by nowith the most melancholy results. thing in Greek or Roman story. They ought to be discouraged by The names of Grattan, of Flood, of their elergy as much as possible, by Burgh, of Curran, now only live in every influence and representation. the annals of their country; they
The price of labour is much too low are gone with the freedom of that in Ireland; it will not purchase a land over which they mourned. single comfort of life, and scarcely Rome, in her decline, was disturbed a necessary of existence; it is ap- by the contests of sectaries, or the portioned to the cost of rearing disputes of sophists, when the vithat vegetable which is the peasant's gour of her legions was no more, sole support. English enterprise and the tumult of arms no longer and capital once introduced would brought her triumphs. In Ireland do much to remedy that evil. The the debates of her senate are now more the people of England become supplied by aggregate meetings or acquainted with Ireland and its corporation halls. The decking out inhabitants the better, industry, a statute, or the concession of a veto, cleanliness, and comfort will gra- are the subjects of that discussion, dually follow. The situation and which forty years since produced a the wants of Ireland, the character free trade, and roused a population and conduct of its leading person
Party divisions and reages, possessing power or influence, ligious strifes are the themes for cannot be too generally made known, her present eloquence. The epbeor too publicly canvassed. In Eng. meral popularity of a mob has sucland, all that is marked by genius ceeded to the applauses of a nation ; or acquirements, that is elevated or men of different nould have apremarkable, finds instant record and peared, fit for those lesser combats, publicity through the mighty me who are content with the oaken dium of its press.
In Ireland its wreath, when the olive crown is no influence is local and little diffused longer attainable. Each age and beyond its immediate shores. Under its occurrences possess their hero ; such circumstances, we felt consi- and we now give the character of a derable gratification on reading, in gentleman, who, though not disa distinguished miscellany, sketches tinguished by the splendour of taby a masterly hand of two of the lent and high attainments of a first and ablest of the bar in Ire- Bushe, ora Plankett, has yet shewn land. We were glad to see por- great versatility of powers, and contraits of those distinguished indi- siderable energy; and, borne on the viduals, whose names and characters turpid wave of popular discontent, gradually become a part of the his- has risen almost suddenly into tory of tlieir country. The talents marked notice; and long filled, if of 'such men are in themselves an not an elevated, at least a most imperishable distinction; they draw conspicuous station in the eyes of nothing from official rank or ju. Ireland. dicial elevation. Indebted for their Daniel O'Connell, esq. the subfame to no fortuitous concurrence of ject of this memoir, was born we time or circumstances, they would believe at Derrynagh, in the county do honour to the best and brightest of Kerry, in Ireland, in or about days of Ireland's independence, and the year 1773. His father, Morgan still shed a lustre on its dark O'Connell, esq. was
a Catholic ness and depression. All that was gentleman, of ancient family, and once great and illustrious in that considerable fortune; known for land has almost passed away; but his hospitality, and much respectmen still point to a Plunkett and ed in the county where he lived. a Bushe, as examples of that elo The penal code was then in full quence, which thundered in - her se- proscriptive force in Ireland ; and nate for liberty, or roused her patriðt the national university was closed citizens to her defence. The period against Catholics, who were exclud. of her triumphs was short and ed from the whole range of the fleeting, but presenting in its dura- liberal professions; these desolating tion a constellation of talent which enactments had exiled numbers of rivalled the proudest exertions of the Irish youth to foreign countries,
at once for education and employ. but that majority was so 'small, ment, and Mr. O'Connell was early that the then Irish Secretary (Lord sent to be educated in France. He Castlereagh) determined, with his had an uncle, General Count O' wonted perseverance, to propose it Connell, bigh in the French ser again. Every artifice of influence vice, during the ancientRegime, and in the internal was used to gain proanother near relative then also on the selytes to that destructive ineasure. continent; and now a Chamberlain Rewards, titles, promises, pensions, at the Court of Vienna. We have were unsparingly lavished for the heard he was at first intended for purpose. The great patriot of 1782, the Catholic priesthood. The ha. (Mr. Grattan) attacked it when bits of his later life, of strict devo- brought forward, with the whole tion to the ceremonies of that force of his oratory; though feechurch, give a strong colouring to ble with illness, he entered the the report; and had he assumed the house, to the dismay of ministers, sacred garb, there can be little soon after midnight; and from his doubt that his talents would have place, seated, and unable to stand, secured him high elevation within pointed the thunders of his elothe pale ; bringing as he would quence against that motion, which to its service, either in the pulpit went to destroy for ever the indeor for the mission, the same bold pendence he had atchieved for Ireeloquence, and fearless intrepidity, land: his invectives against the miwhich have distinguished him in nisterial benches were terrible and a different profession in subsequent overpowering. He depicted in dark life. The beneficence of the Mo colours the corruption which was Darch and the wisdom of the Bri every where aronnd him; and its foltish Legislature had, however, soon lowers succumbed beneath his voice after abated much of the severity of and eye. Never was he greater in that frightful code which carried his spring-time of youth and glory; proscription through Ireland, among though his summer strength. had other concessions, the doors of ad passed away he seemed, amid illmission to the liberal professionsness and debility, gradually to strugwere again thrown open; and whe- gle with, and at length shake off ther from feelings of youthful am- his mortal coil, and to exist on the bition, or dislike to the austerities imperishable energies of his spirit of a foreign cloister, Mr. O'Connell alone. He closed by a reply to the rejected the tonsure, and its de- coarse attack of the Irish Cnancellor nials, and determined to devote his of the Exchequer, Mr. Isaac Corry, talents,not to the studies of Aquinas which was only inferior to his celeor Augustine, but to the more mun brated philippic against the great dane though not less subtle dis. Flood. 'It produced an instant duel quisitions of Bracton and Coke. between the parties, fought in the He was entered, accordingly, at Lin- twilight of morning: both left the coln's Inn ; and, after keeping the house immediately: Mr. Grattan usoal terms there, and in Ireland, with a conviction, as he said, that the was called to the bar of that coud castle and its adherents, unable to try about the year 1800. This was subdue him in any other way, bad an agitating period in that Island; determined if possible to pistol'him men's minds were roused to the off. The meeting between the great highest pitch of anxiety and alarm. patriot and Mrs. Grattan was a The dreadful insurrection of 1798 more than Roman one. He tore had only just passed away; the himself from her arms, prepared to stains of blood were not yet washed die. Fortunately he survived the out, or the smouldering fires of ruin determined combat, as he did the extinguished, when the question of independence of Ireland, which fell a legislative union between the two soon after. He lived to prove to a countries was again renewed. It British Parliament, what the elobad already once failed; though quence of that country was in her (supported by the whole influence best days. At this period the press of the British minister) it had pas- was inundated with pamphlets. Posed the English Parliament, it was lities were the avenues by which rejected by a majority in Ireland; distinction preferment were
opened to the Irish bar. Though and falsehood, and to search every Mr. O'Connell has been fond of winding of the heart. His figure is writing in latter days, we do not manly and imposing, and his voice find that he employed bis pen on powerful in its compass and disthis occasion. He was, we know, tinct in its intonations. The cona determined opponent of the union, tour of his countenance is pecubut had, we believe, then seduously larly Irish; perhaps there is litdevoted himself to study ;, and was tle else remarkable in his features, employed in acquiring that know- either singly or as a whole; his ledge of his profession which led to eyes are grey, and small, presenthis early advancement, and subse- ing nothing that interest when in a quently procured for him so much state of repose, but bright and emolument and reputation. The bar animated when lit up by exertion. has proved an up-hill and dishearten- Mr. O'Connell is considered one of ing pursuit to inany, subsequently the best motion - lawyers in the distinguished by splendid ability, courts; quick in arraying his own and ranking high in the annals of strongest points, and equally acute legal fame. Mr.O'Connell was more in seizing and exposing the least fortunate; his endeavours proved weakness of his adversary. He is early successful; be rose rapidly in in full business; the Munster cirhis profession, and the interval of cuit producing him probably more only a few years elasped between money than any gentleman of that his being called, and his business bar. "He has, from his ability, a producing him at least two thousand monopoly of what is called the pounds annually; his professional Dock, in Ireland, that is, the crimiincome, at present is probably dou nal business of the circuit, which is a ble that amount. He is not con source of great emolument. With sidered a profound lawyer; nor is his briefs on these occasious, he will his manner either captivating or not take less than a fee of three impressive. He is distinguished in guineas, and constantly receives the court more by his energy and infinitely more.
He is, besides, reshrewdness, than by any higher tained in every civil case of any qualities of research or eloquence. importance. His proscription as a His industry is greater than his Catholic) has deprived him of that ability, and he owes much to his official rank as a King's Counsel, firmness and self-possession, which which would add to his importance, never desert him; his arcent is bad, even though it reduced his emoluand his language in general com ments; he has seen in the course of his mon-place and inelegant; his pro- practice a silk gown given to many of nunciation is marked!y vicious, a his associates of inferior talents, that compound of Irish and Gallic badly precedence and distinction to which associated, which the late witty Mr. his standing and abilities had unKeller used to call “ his Glanerogh questionably entitled him. It is but English." He has a manner of natural he should feel deeply, on extending his mouth, when he such occasions. One of the failings wishes to be impressive, which is of Mr. O'Connell's character is a any thing but graceful; and a habit strong tinge of vanity and egotism, of Aying from one observation to which colours all his actions, and another, both in his addresses to those feelings of disappointment he juries and his arguments before the has accordingly constantly and pubjudges, leaving his best points un licly avowed. He made, however, defended, and his illustrations in an effort in 1820, soon after the late complete; but he is generally, ef- Queen's return to England, which, fective, and always useful. Subtle had he sacceeded, would have more in the examination of a liostile wit than supplied the rank he had so pess, and gifted with great powers long regretted. He applied, through of discernment and penetration, his Alderman Wood, for the situation knowledge of the manners, the cus of her Majesty's Attorney General toms, and the failings of the Irish for Ireland'; and for some time ep. peasantry is .complete; and he is tertained the strongest hopes of sucable with such a witness, to unravel cess. Every disposition was shewn the most perplexing web of fraud by the Queen's official advisers to
make the grant, if consistent with to his career as a lawyer, howerer former, usage. His own anticipa- successful, that Mr. O'Connell owes tion spoke of the appointment as the distinction, or at least the pubcertain; he had even selected his licity, which he has long attained associate as Solicitor General in the and enjoyed ; we say enjoyed; for, person of Mr. Bennett. It would with him, to be talked of" is to be have been to Mr. O'Connell an every thing-to be “ broad and geacquisition of first rate importance; neral as the easing air" is the sum. giving him the full precedence of a mit of happiness and ambition. NonKing's Counsel without affecting publicity would be non-existences the considerable emoluments derived He lives but on the sound of the from his lesser practice in criminal public voice ; and exists but on the business. The prints of Ireland at notice of the public eye. Many the period were full of his elevation; men who make more money than the coat of office was bespoke by Mr. O'Connell, and in a higher him, and even word. It was re walk of the profession, are compa. marked he did not appear at home ratively unknown, even in Ireland, in the official garb, that
and never heard of here. But his * New bonours come upon bim
voice has been for years the loud Like our strange garments, cleave
bell that tolled an alarm to the not to their mould
castle. He is the warder on the Bat with the aid of use."
tower of Catholic orthodoxy; he
rings the annual peal which is to Bat Mr. O'Connell had in this in. rouse the disheartened population stance of his individual promo- again to the task of petition. He tion, as he has too often done in comes forward, unsolicited, as their pablic life, suffered his wishes and champion clad in his spiritual pafeelings to outrun his calmer judg. Doply, as in armour proof, and sur. ment. He had made no search, or rounded by countless legends of ascertained whether; at any previous holy anchorets and fathers. He period, any of the Queen's Consorts talks to them of the sacrifices he of England had exercised such a has himself made, and the endless right as that of which he sought losses he has endured in their causes the advantage. In seizing the idea, He has bat just returned from the his usual shrewdness and quick defence of a burglar, or a horsebess were displayed, for it was not stealer"; and he assures thèm “ they included in the penal code, as one are the finest and the bravest pea of the offices denied to Catholics : ple on the face of the earth." He but her Majesty's advisers in Engo dwells on the beauty of the " whiteland were much too wise and prů- bosomed daughters of Erin," and dent to recommend any hasty ap their misfortunes on being the wives pointment affecting her rights, which and mothers of slaves"; ĥis auditors could not subsequently stand the drink in his accents, and become full test of scrutiny and contest. On happy in their bondage; some favoinvestigation it was found that no rite orator follows, and resolations record existed of such an appoint are proposed worthy of the days of ment in Ireland, except in one weak Chalcedon or Constance. Anathemas instance, which could not possibly are showered upon every thing, be erected into a precetlent; they vetoistical or heterodox; and the were, therefore, obliged reluctantly apotheosis of their leader is deterto pause in the nomination; and mined and pronounced by a thouunder the circumstances of her Ma sand exulting and applauding voices jesty's demise soon after, and the at once. It was in the year 1809, loss of sitaation (if granted) which as well as we remember, that Mr. must have followed, it was, per- O'Connell made his first appearance haps, preferable for Mr. O'Connell in public life at an aggregate meetto have endured a temporary disa ing in Dublin. It was assembled appointment, rather than have ex to petition for the repeal of the perienced the humiliation, a return grievances still affecting the Cathoto the back bar, and the reassurop lic body, and the then Lord French tion of a stoff gowo, must infallibly presided in the chair. His speech lauve brought with them. Beritis not on that occasion possessed all the