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1. John Phil pot Curran, 

2. Archibald Hamilton Rowan, . 

3. Sir Laurence Parsons, Earl of 


4. George, Count de Browne, 

5. Lord Edward Fitzgerald, . 

6. Samuel Neilson, 

7. Doctor MacNovin, 

S. Thomas Addis Emmet, 
9. Robert. Emmet, 

10. Arthur Wolfe, Lord Viscount 


11. Dr. Patrick Duigenan, 
Right Hon. George Ponsonby, 
Sir Hercules Langrishe, Bart., 

Il4. Sir Philip Francis, 

15. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 
16.^ Francis, Marquis of Hastings, 

7. George Canning, 

16. George Tierney, 

19. Richard, Earl of Donoughinore, 

20. Robert, Marquis of London- 

derry, .... 
Major-Gen. Sir R. R. Gillespie, 


22. Edward Maurice, Bishop of 


23. Philip Skelton, 

24. Rev. Dr. Leland, 

25. Sir Walter Blake Kirwan, 

26. Thomas Percy, Bishop of Dro- 




A. ;t; 


























































Matthew Young, Hi si- op of 

Cluiifert, ... 158 
Rev. William Hamilton, . 161 
Dr. Hugh Hamilton, Bishop of 

Ossory, . .162 

Rev. Arthur O'Leary, . 163 
Rev. Samuel Madden, D.D., 164 


Oliver Goldsmith, . 167 

Charles Macklin, . . 203 

Spanger Barry, . 205 

Laurence Sterne, . . 205 
Kane O'Hara, . . 207 

Sylvester O'Halloran. . 208 

Arthur O'Neill, . . 208 

James Cavanagh Murphy, . 208 

Sir Richard Musgrave, . 20L. 
Rev. Archibald Maclaine, 
Charles MacCornnckV / 
David MacBride.j ' 
Elizabeth Hamilton, 
John Jar vis, 
Robert Jephson, 
Charles Johnson, 

Henry Jones, . . . *, 

Arthur Murphy, . . 21. an 

Edmund Maione, . . 212 s 

William Halliday, . 213 

Joseph Black, . . . 213 

Thomas Demiody, . . 216 

Samuel Derrick, . . 218 
Richard Lovel Edgeworth, 218 

Richard Kirwan, . 224 

Mary Tighe, . . . 224 

James Barry, . . 225 


V" l!>: 


J ;ton, and 
ce of 10 a 





59. Sir William Cusack Smith, 

Bart., .... 
60 Richard, Marquis Wellesley, 

61. Charles Kendal Bushe, 

62. Right Honourable William 


63. John Sidney Taylor, 


64. William Magee, D.D., Arch- 

bishop of Dublin, . 

65. Rev. Charles Wolfe, 

66. Rev. William Phelan, 

: 67. John Jebb, Bishop of Limerick, 425 

68. Dr. John Barrett, . . 437 

69. Rev. Richard Graves, D.D., 442 

70. Rev. Cesar Otway, . . 446 

71. Bartholomew Lloyd, D.D., 

Provost, . . . 449 

72. Rev. Charles Robert Maturin, 452 

73. Rev. C. Dickenson, D. D., 

Bishop of Meath, . . 456 

74. Thomas Lewis O'Beirne, D.D, 460 

75. John Thomas Troy, D.D., 461 

76. Thomas Elrington, D.D., 

Bishop of Ferns, . . 463 


77- Edward Hill, Regius Professor 
353 1 of Medicine, 471 

409.78. Whitley Stokes. S. F. Reg. 
418 Prof. Med., . 47? 








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3loj)tt p&flpot urram 

10RN A. D. 17^0. DIED A. D. 18l7 

JOHN PHILPOT CURRAN was born in the summer of 1750, his father, 
Mr James Curran, was the seneschal of a manor court at Newmarket, 
in the county of Cork. His mother's maiden name was Philpot, the 
descendant of a respectable family of that name. She is represented 
as a person of superior endowments and attainments, and her distin- 
guished son, perhaps justly, traced from her the talents he possessed. 
With more certainty, he attributed his subsequent success in life, to 
her early influence. 

From the estimate early formed of his capacity, he was committed 
to the tuition of the Rev. Nathaniel Boyse, the clergyman of the 
parish. From the manner in which this circumstance is mentioned 
by Mr Curran's biographer, and referred to by himself, it is to be in- 
ferred that Mr Boyse's care and instruction were gratuitously bestow- 
ed from kindness and the high opinion he had conceived of the youth. 
Kis rapid progress seems to have justified this kindness, and induce*! 
his parents to determine upon his receiving a college education. His 
first destination was the church. 

After a time, he was removed to the free school of Middleton, and 
his expenses were supplied wholly, or in part, at the sacrifice of 10 a 
year, by Mr Boyse. 

In 1769? he entered as a sizar in the university of Dublin an 
honourable test of his proficiency as from the number of the sizars 
being limited, his admission was the result of a successful and most 
probably a severe competition. 

In the university, his studies were principally devoted to classical 
literature, and in this too, his assiduity was rewarded and proved by 
the scholarship which he attained. His progress and attainments are 
not unfairly to be estimated from his having commenced reading' for 
the fellowship. 

During this period of his life, the progress of his mind is in some 



degree traceable by many of his letters, which have been fortunately 
preserved and interwoven with the narrative of his life, written by his 
son. Our object, and the restricted scale of our memoirs, will not 
permit us to avail ourselves of these, unless when they chance to be 
strictly coincident with the line of our narrative. It is observable 
that though the earliest of them indicate the usual activity of youthful 
sentiment, the language is far more free from the vices and manner- 
ism of style, than we should have anticipated. 

When he had entered his second year in college, an incident occur- 
red which manifested his command of the resources of wit and reason, 
so as to elicit the applause of his fellow-students, and awaken his ambi- 
tion. In consequence of this, it is said he changed his determination 
of entering the church, for the bar. He had obtained the reputation 
of wit, accompanied with its not unusual concomitants wildness and 
extravagance. He was seldom missing in the youthful freak, for 
which, until the last generation, the students of "old Trinity," were 
renowned. He was, it may be inferred, often in perplexity and 
in want of money, but he bore all with steady courage and 
good humour. 

He is represented by his biographer, as having been much addictt r 
to metaphysical inquiries and disputations, and to have frequently co. 
versed on the nature of death, eternity, and the immortality of the soul 
topics, which are the first to offer themselves to the curiosity of youth- 
ful speculation, before the mind has learned the narrowness of its 
range and the vastitude and obscurity of such subjects. 

There are preserved also some specimens of his power of composi- 
tion in verse, from the same period. They indicate very considerable 
command of versification, an easy and not inelegant turn of language, 
and a tendency to wit; in a word, a talent for the prompt and playful 
style of the vers dc societe, but not, even the slightest indication of 
any poetic power beyond metre and rhyme. The verses to W. 
Apjohn, we should pronounce, generally, superior to most effusions of 
the same nature which he afterwards produced, for the truth, point, 
and ease of the satire. 

Having finished his academic studies, Mr Curran proceeded in 
1773, to serve his terms in the Middle Temple. From London, his 
letters give a tolerable account of his feelings and occupations.. We 
must here be satisfied with a single incident. He was in the custom 
of frequenting a debating society, in which, though he felt the native- 
impulse, he could not muster the nerve for a trial of his own powers 
of speech; he was in some measure discouraged by a "precipitation 
and confusion of utterance," (perhaps the result of eagerness which is 
apt to outrun the tongue), which had among his schoolfellows obtained 
for him the soubriquet of "stuttering Jack Curran." Such was the 
amount of this defect, that he was advised to devote himself to the 
silent duties of the chamber counsel. Mr Curran must of course have 
felt the consciousness, which never fails to accompany a power so 
strenuous and kindling as that of the orator; he felt what no one else 
could perceive so well, where his difficulty lay, and determined to over- 
come it. His first attempt was, as may well be supposed, a failure. 
He stood up filled with nervous anxieties, and more apprehensive of 


the eyes and ears of winch he became the centre, than of the topics of 
the debate; and thus pre-occupied, the mind refused its office, he got 
no further than " Mr Chairman;" his friends cried hear him, but as 
he has told the story, " there was nothing to hear." After this un- 
toward incident, some time elapsed before he could again summon 
up courage for a second trial. A more auspicious moment at last 
arrived. It was under the happy influence of a remittance from New- 
market, and an additional glass of punch, that he repaired with his 
friend Apjohn to the " devils," where there was already an orator on 
his legs, "just such a person," according to Mr Curran's own descrip- 
tion, " as Harry Flood would hav3 called ' the highly gifted gentle- 
man with the dirty cravat and greasy pantaloons!' I found this 
learned personage in the act of calumniating chronology by the most 
preposterous anachronisms, &c., &c. ' He descanted on Demosthe- 
nes the glory of the Roman forum; spoke of Tully as the famous con- 
temporary and rival of Cicero ; and in the short space of half an hour 
transported the straits of Marathon three several times to the plains 
of Thermopylae. Thinking I had a right to know something of these 
matters, I looked at him with surprise; and whether it was the money 
in my pocket, or my classical chivalry, or most probably, the supple- 
mental tumbler of punch, that gave my face a smirk of saucy confi- 
dence, when our eyes met there was something like a wager of battle 
in mine; upon which the erudite gentleman instantly changed his 
invective against antiquity into an invective against me, and concluded 
by a few words of friendly counsel to ' orator Mum,' who he doubted 
not, possessed wonderful talents for eloquence, although he would re- 
commend him to show it off in future by some more popular method 
than his silence." Mr Curran followed the seasonable advice, for 
which he repaid his adviser, the " dirty cravated orator, in such a sort, 
that it was agreed by most persons present, that they never ' saw him 
so well dressed.' ! So decided was his success, that the president dis- 
patched his secretary to invite the " eloquent stranger" to sup with 
him. After this seemingly trivial, but perhaps really important inci- 
dent, Mr Curran became a regular speaker at debating clubs, where he 
acquired the fluency, and what is more important the confidence, 
which in public speaking is more than half the battle. It is mentioned 
by his biographer,* that from his zeal in the cause of the Roman 
Catholics, and from his dress, he was supposed to be a young priest of 
that church, and in the club at which he most usually attended, was 
called " the little Jesuit from St Omers." 

It appears from various sources, that very high anticipations of the 
future success of Mr Currau, began to be soon entertained among his 
friends, and a letter from Dr Creagh of Newmarket, afterwards his 
father-in-law, gives some proof of the strong and just impression his 
conversation and other manifestations of talent were capable of making. 
We also learn that he was endeared, among the circle of his friends 

* To prevent the necessity of references, we may here mention once for all, 
that this memoir is entirely written upon the authority of the " Life of Curran, 
by his Son :" that is, so far as relates to the facts and incidents of the personal 
history of its eminent subject. 


and relations, by his affectionate and unassuming- deportment among 
them. That he was subject to intervals of despondency, and that his 
circumstances were sometimes such as to warrant depression of spirits, 
were there no other cause. We also learn, that among his friends, 
there was at least one who was generously desirous to impart assist- 
ance. This was Mr Hudson the well-known dentist, his friend and 
neighbour through the remainder of their lives. 

Of his studies we are toid, and of this there is indeed ample proof 
in his practice, that his reading was extensive and assiduous. His 
acquaintance with all the best standard English writers, is clearlv 
ascertainable through most of his speeches, and formed, indeed, a roost 
important department of his mind. Though apparently of spare and 
attenuated frame, he was patient of fatigue, and required but little 
rest; and being constitutionally alert, he was enabled to pursue his 
studies with interest and constancy, while seemingly devoted to con- 
vivial habits. Among those writers from whom he is supposed to 
have derived his earliest notions of style, were Junius' Letters, and 
lord Bolingbroke. The speech of Antony in Julius Cassar, was also 
an incessant study, and he could pronounce it with great skill. Of 
the classics, Virgil was his favourite, and next to him, Homer. 

A peculiar source of his ideas, which might not be anticipated, and 
without some reflection may not be well conceived, was his familiarity 
with the language and manners of Irish low life. The deeply imagi- 
native tinge of Irish nature infused through the languag-e, and im- 
bodied in the very ignorance of this antique race, could not fail *o_ 
impart much to a mind like that of Mr Curran. which, though not of 
much compass or depth, was within its proper range endowed with 
the keenest perceptions and nicest tact and sensibility. " He used," 
says his biographer, "to say himself, that he derived his first notions 
of poetry and eloquence from the compositions of the hired women over 
the dead.' J Perhaps, it may also be not too much to say, that his poli- 
tical sympathies were in some measure kindled at the same source. 

Mr Curran was called to the bar in 1775. His character went 
before him, and he rapidly obtained employment; as a proof of this, it 
is mentioned, that the " first year produced eighty-two guineas; the 
second between one and two hundred; and so on in a regularly increas- 
ing proportion." The same nervousness which impeded his first effort 
at oratory influenced h:s debut at the bar, and that in a manner much 
more marked, and, we should presume, unusual. He had but to 
" read a short sentence from his instructions, but he did it so precipi- 
tately and inaudibly, that the chancellor, lord Lifford, requested of 
him to repeat the words and to raise his voice." The brief "dropped 
from his hands, and a friend who sat beside him was obliged to take 
it up and read the necessary passage." On what precise occasion this 
distressing affection was conquered, we are not informed; but his bio- 
grapher mentions, in connexion with the foregoing anecdote, that it 
disappeared when he had to repel unwarrantable attacks. One of 
these occasions is mentioned, and said to have occurred very early. 
On some statement of judge Robinson's, Mr Curran observed, " Thid 
lie had never met the law, as laid down by his lordship, in any book 
in his library." "That may be, sir," said the judge; "but I suspect 


chat your library is very small." Mr Curran replied, " I find it more 
instructive, my lord, to study good works than to compose bad ones; 
my books may be few, but the title pages give me the writers' names, 
my shelf is not disgraced by any such rank absurdities that their very 
authors are ashamed to own them." " Sir," said the judge, " you are 
forgetting the respect which you owe to the dignity of the judicial 
character," " Dignity!' exclaimed Mr Curran, " My lord, upon that 
point I shall cite you a case from a book of some authority, with which 
you are, perhaps, not unacquainted." He then briefly recited the story 
of Strap in Roderic Random, who, having stripped off his coat to 
fight, intrusted it to a bystander ; when the battle was over, and he 
was well beaten, he turned to resume it, but the man had carried it 
off; Mr Curran thus applied the tale: " So, my lord, when the person 
intrusted with the dignity of the judgment-seat, lays it aside for a 
moment to enter into a disgraceful personal contest, it is in vain when 
he has been worsted in the encounter, that he seeks to resume it it 
is in vain thcit he tries to shelter himself behind an authority which he 
has abandoned." " If you say another word, Sir, I'll commit you," 
replied the angry judge, to which Mr C. retorted, " If your lordship 
should do so, we shall both of us have, the consolation of reflecting, 
that I am not the worst thing your lordship has committed." We 
have extracted t 1 !s dialogue, as indicating the promptness of Mr Cur- 
ran, and the bo- spirit, which in those rude and disorderly times, were 
a strong recotna^endation at the Irish bar. A contest so discreditable 
could not now be likely to occur in the same scene. 

J' Some years, nevertheless, occurred, before the real powers of Mr 
urran had a fair occasion for display. This occasion offered itself at 
ie Cork assizes, in an action brought by a priest of the church of 
ome, against lord Doneraile. The occasion was one of which the 
circumstances are so wholly foreign to the spirit of pur times, and so 

unlikely ever to recur in times in which the upper classes of society 
are so much more civilized, that it is unnecessary to go at length into 
a story which can now convey no lesson. It is enough to say that Mr 
Curran acted with humanity and spirit, and won for himself the enthu- 
siastic attachment of the lower orders, who from that time looked upon 
him as their champion. In the performance of his duty on this occasion, 
he had to cross-examine Mr St Leger, brother to the defendant; and, 
as it was his object to depreciate his evidence, he had described him 
in very gross and insulting language in his speech. In doing so, he 
had, however, not mentioned his name. When " Mr St Leger came 
upon the table, and took the Testament in his hand, the plaintiff's coun- 
sel, in a tone of affected respect, addressed him saying, * Oh, Mr St 
Leger, the jury will, I am sure, believe you without the ceremony of 
swearing you; your character will justify us from insisting on your 
oath.' The witness, deceived by this mild and complimentary language, 
[his irritation evidently diverted his notice from the-very palpable trap 
that was laid for him,] replied with mingled surprise and irritation, 
' I am happy, Sir, to see you have changed the opinion you entertained 
of me when you were describing me a while ago.'^ ' What, Sir? the? 
r ou confess it was a description of yourself ! Gentlemen, act as yen 


please; but I leave it to you to say, whether a thousand oaths could 
bind the conscience of the man I have just described.' ' 

A duel followed, in which Mr Curran evinced very great intrepidity; 
he was called upon to fire by his antagonist, to which he answered 
with a pun, tolerably fair considering the occasion, " No, Sir, I arn 
here by vour invitation, you must open the ball." And then, observ- 
ing Mr St Leger's pistol, to be directed wide of him, with singular 
promptitude he called out " fire." St Leger fired, and missed. This 
was a well known manoeuvre among duellists of that day. Mr Cur- 
ran declined firing, and the affair terminated. 

This incident contributed materially to the increase of Mr Curran s 
practice. It had another effect, which we must state in the language 
of his biographer : " It was probably, too, with this event,* that 
originated his great popularity among the lower orders of the Irish, 
a feeling- which a little time matured into an unbounded veneration 


for his capacity, combined with a most devoted attachment to his per- 
son.' After some further sentences, Mr Curran proceeds, " His 
trenius and habits were so purely national, that the humblest of his 
countrymen, forgetting the difference of rank in their very many com- 
mon sympathies, fondly considered him as one of themselves, and 
cherished his reputation not more as a debt of gratitude to him, than 
as a kind of peculiar triumph of their own. These sentiments, which 
he never descended to any artifices to cultivate, continued unimpaired 
to his death, and will probably survive him many years." 

We have lonsr since adverted in this volume to the monks of 
order of St Patrick, founded by lord Avonmore, Mr Curran's cl- 
friend. It contained all those who were most eminent for wi 
popularity, and most indeed of the first public men of the time. Ar. 
these Mr Curran was a principal member. One of the better, perh 
the best of his poetical efforts, was the charter song of the order. v. 
his pathetic allusion after a lapse of many years to the recollections 
of this union, we have already taken notice in lord Avonmore's 
memoir. We shall here add, that the passage in which it occurs, 
has been censured as out of time and place, but that we think it to 
be vindicated on sufficient grounds by his biographer. (Note. p. 128.) 

Mr Curran had been seven years at the bar, when he was returned 
as member for the borough of Kllbeggan, by the interest of Mr Long- 
field, afterwards lord Longueville. Having disagreed with Mr Long- 
field on political opinions, he shortly after insisted on purchasing a 
seat to be filled on Mr L.'s nomination. It was about the same period 
that Vie obtained his silk gown. 

In 1785, Mr Curran had a quarrel with Mr -Fitzgibbon, afterwards 
lord Clare. The debate in which it occurred, arose out of a measure of 
the latter gentleman, who was at the time attorney-general. While Mr 
Curran was speaking, Mr Fitzgibbon slept, or more probably, pre- 
tended to sleep, on which Mr Curran let fall some strong personalities, 
which were retorted with equal violence, Mr Curran again replied; 

* His biographer (we should say,) includes many incidents of a very r> >;..ij^r 
cU.'UMctcr, which \ve have omitted for want of space. 


the consequence was a hostile meeting 1 , after which they retained a 
mutual enmity through life. 

At this time Mr Curran had attained a full and lucrative practice 
at the bar. His life passed in a round of duties and occupations which 
demand no comment, and offer little of detail. The point of view in which 
he always appears to most advantage, and in what we might call the 
most genuine character, is in such of his letters as have been published. 
These, and we regret it much, are wholly beyond our compass. A 
visit which he paid to France in 1787, affords some pleasing speci- 
mens ; he was a nice and discriminating observer of all that is char- 
acteristic, and with his happy humour and power of language, never 
fails to transport his reader to the scene. He possessed a peculiar 
turn for practical wit, which occasionally gave rise to adventures 
which could not be carried through by any one but himself. Of this 
many curious instances are yet remembered, which we cannot here 
venture to relate on the mere authority of oral tradition. An amusing 
story, but far inferior to some we have heard, is told by his biographer 
among the details of his visit to France. Having received from his 
friend Arthur O'Leary, an introduction to the superior of a convent 
near some town he was to pass ; Mr Curran was received in 
the most cordial and complimentary manner, with a Latin oration, 
and an offer of the keys. The Latin was so very bad, that he, without 
hesitation responded in the same language ; he said " that nothing 
could be more gratifying to him than to reside for a few days among 
them: that he should feel himself perfectly at home in their society; 
ac j^hat he was by no means a stranger to the habits of a monastic 
p^, being himself no less than the prior of an order in his own 
T/untry, the order of St Patrick, or the monks of the screw. Their 
,ime might never have reached the abbot's ears, but he would under- 
take to assert for them, that though the brethren of other orders might 
i be more celebrated for learning how to die, the monks of the Screw 
were as yet unequalled for knowing how to live. As however, 
humility was their great tenet and uniform practice, he would give an 
example of it on the present occasion, and instead of accepting all the 
keys which the abbot had so liberally offered, would merely take 
charge, while he staid, of the key of the wine cellar." A very droll 
adventure is also related, on the occasion of his sitting at the opera 
between an Irish lady whom he had accompanied thither, and a young 
Frenchwoman. The ladies having manifested a mutual disposition 
to converse, but being respectively unacquainted with each other's 
language, Mr Curran volunteered his service as an interpreter. He 
however so altered and adorned the conversation as it passed, with 
witty and complimentary additions, that the ladies each began to 
entertain a very flattering impression of the other, in the words of 
his biographer, " he transmitted between the parties so many finely 
turned compliments, and elegant repartees, that the unsuspecting 
ladies became fascinated with each other," at length Mr Curran, 
when he thought admiration had gained its height, " in conveying 
some very innocent question from his countrywoman, converted it into 
an anxious demand if she might be favoured with a kiss, ' Mais oui f 
nion Dieu ! oui,' cried out the animated French girl, 'j'allois le pro- 


poser moimeme,' and springing across Mr Curran, imprinted an em- 
phatic salutation, according to the custom of her country, upon each 
cheek of his -fair companion; and then turning to him added, *O 
vraiment, Monsieur, madame votre amie est une veritable ange.' ' 

In 1788, Mr Curran made an excursion to Holland, of which as 
usual his letters contain some graphic and interesting sketches. 

In the following year, he took an active part in the Regency ques- 
tion. It is mentioned that on this occasion he offered to be raised 
to the bench, and eventually to the peerage, on the condition of giving 
his support to the administration. These offers he had the public 
virtue to decline. His opposition was on the other hand marked by a 
fresh degree of spirit and unsparing animosity, and he wielded his 
favourite weapons of ridicule and illustrative exposure with so much 
address, and preferred charges so plain and popular, that it is evident 
he became very obnoxious to the Irish administration. Some time after, 
upon a discussion in the house on the division of the Board of stamps 
and accompts, he was replied to by Sir Boyle Roche, who concluded 
with language conveying a clear menace of personal consequences. Mr 
Curran made a spirited reply, which he concluded by saying, " as to 
myself, while I live, I shall despise the peril ; I feel in my own spirit, 
the safety of my honour, and in my own and the spirit of the people 
do I feel strength enough to hold that administration, which can give 
a sanction to menaces like these, responsible for their consequences to 
the nation and to the individual." In a few days after he was in- 
sulted by some person, who was, or was supposed to be, in the ser- 
vice of the castle.* He applied to major Hobart to dismi \yf ^ 
person; the major replied that he had no such power, an' 1 ^ O .^K' 
that the person wns as much a stranger to him as to Mr Cui ,- 

correspondence followed and was terminated by a duel from 
neither party received any hurt. To enter into the merits Oi s , 
quarrel, would require a fuller statement than we have thought it ex- \ 
pedient to offer. 

Between Mr Curran and Mr Fitzgibbon, there grew up by degrees 
a spirit of hostility which is easily accounted for, upon a full view of 
their respective characters, without any imputation to either. The 
moral as well as the intellectual features of their characters were 
cast and combined in a mould of the extremest contrast. There are 

* We believe this to have been Newell, a person notorious for his daring, 
presumption, and perfidy, almost unparalleled. Having, by turns betrayed and 
maligned all who put any trust in him. Both by nature and habit, incorrigibly 
addicted to deceit a liar, even when there was no object further than to fabri- 
cate a story, he was incapable of stating the most ordinary fact, without a mixture 
of falsehood. Having first betrayed the rebels, and included innocent with guilty 
persons in his informations, he presumed upon the importance of his services, 
when such services were unhappily of some moment, and having attempted to 
beard his employers, he came speedily into contact with men of principle and 
honour, and received mortifications and repulses, which he revenged by turning 
again, and calumniating honourable men. His calumnies were greedily re- 
ceived, and propagated as history, by those who repelled with scorn his 
disclosures respecting the rebels. He ended his execrable career, by falling 
into the hands of his former friends, by whom, there is reason to believe, he wan 


some strong reasons why we do not wish to delineate in detail, the 
points of opposition ; of which the principal one alone needs mention, 
as it is one of constant recurrence in our labours. Posterity has not 
done equal justice to the men ; the faults of Mr Curran were more 
popular than the very virtues of his enemy. The balance of an im- 
partial comparison would involve a scrutinizing analysis, which we 
should not desire to apply. We could not with any fairness consent 
to the severe calumnies and misrepresentations which have darkened 
the fame of the earl of Clare nor even to record more honest 
censure, without disturbing more than we could wish the wreath with 
which affection and popular opinion have crowned the grave of his 
antagonist. For this reason we shall pass very lightly over the historv 
of their disagreements. There grew up a hostility between them of 
which we shall only say that we entirely disagree with the estimate 
which is to be drawn from the statements of Mr Curran's biographer, 
of the merits of their contention and in the constructions of their 
actions. We see indeed, much to censure in the whole conduct to- 
wards each other of both these eminent men. 

To Mr Curran, a main consequence of this quarrel was that he lost 
his practice in the court of chancery, which he rated at 1000 a-year. 
His powers of advocacy were so pre-eminently fitted for the practice 
of the law courts, that it is not easy to conceive ho\v he could fail to 
have his utmost powers of effort engaged. But this, we are aware, 
does not meet the question of emolument. 

From the period last mentioned to 1794, Mr Curran took a very 
active part in the numerous important questions brought forward in 
parliament. In these he took the popular side, and spoke and acted 
with all the fearless honesty of his character. He stood by the side 
of Mr Grattan, and yielded to none in zeal or popularity. 

It would nevertheless, according to our estimate, be an injustice to 
Mr Curran, to look upon him as a politician. So ranked, he would 
take his place among many good and eminent men, whose names are 
now beginning to be nearly lost upon the roll of celebrity. It is as a 
rhetorician and an advocate that we are to put forward the claim of 
one, who in these respects has perhaps never been excelled, and not 
often equalled in modern times. In weighing the merits of his oratory, 
a very remarkable oversight seems to have been committed by 
critical writers, who, in reviewing his printed speeches, have neglected 
those allowances which are always to be made for the advocate, from 
the consideration of the actual circumstances under which he has to 
address the jury or the court. We have already in our general intro- 
duction to this period, given some account of the eloquence of the 
last century and of its influencing causes. It will here be enough to 
say, that there was at that time a taste for all that appealed to the 
fancy and passions in oratory ; and that the pleader who had to address 
a jury, best consulted the interests of his client by conforming in some 
measure to their tastes. We do not indeed agree with the argument 
which we have sometimes heard advanced, that the applause of an 
assembly, or even the verdict of a jury, is any test of merit; this 
remains to be tried on more strict grounds; we think it a full excuse 
for much that has been severely censured by critics in Mr Curran's 


addresses. And if the licence be once allowed, we are inclined to tbink 
that where the censure has fallen to the ground, much high praise 
will be found due to the singular promptitude of application, of argu- 
ment, of sarcasm, retort, or pathetic and solemn appeal; in a word of 
all the higher elements of rhetoric w r ith also the rich and overflowing 
affluence of the stream of a poetic diction. These, whether he abused 
them or not, belonged to Mr Curran. But it is indeed known, and 
has been well insisted on that his seemingly most licentious deviations 
from the staid and dry decorum of the forensic style, performed an im- 
portant part; if judges or juries could be so impressed, it was fit so 
to impress them. At least so it will always be considered by the 

His defence of Mr Rowan, addressed to any jury and in any time, 
must be always admitted to be a noble piece of advocacy. He exalts 
his subject and the occasion with every solemn and affecting consider- 
ation which can impress the conscience or feelings of the jury in 
i'avour of his client; and his manner and style were equal to his 
matter. The power of allusion, was the master quality of Mr Curran's 
mind on light occasions it probably furnished the better part of his 
wit, while on serious ones it played a more important part. His most 
powerful passages display a mastery of the best models, and of the most 
effective passages of ancient and modern literature. His biographer 
notices the striking resemblance of his opening sentence in the defence 
of Mr Rowan to the opening of Cicero's defence of Milo. A more 
remarkable and closer similarity occurs in the same speech, as the 
much celebrated passage on emancipation is very nearly a paraphrase 
of a well-known passage from Cowper's task. 

' We have no slaves at home. Then why abroad ? 

And they themselves once ferried on the wave 

That parts us, are emancipate and loosed. 

Slaves cannot breath in England ; if their lungs 

Receive our air, that moment they are free, 

They touch our country and their shackles fall," <tc., <lv. 


" I speak in the spirit of British law, which makes liberty commen- 
surate with, and inseparable from British soil ; which proclaims even to 
the stranger and the sojourner, the moment he sets his foot upon 
British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and conse- 
crated by the genius of universal emancipation," c., &c. The entire 
i-f these two splendid specimens, are much too long for quotation. 
By referring to the originals, the curious reader will easily observe 
the several mouldings which the same thoughts and images have re- 
ceived from two minds of very different classes, each perhaps equally 
expert, and each eminently a rhetorician in his own art. Mr Curran's 
speeches afford much matter for similar observation. The masterly 
allusion to the golden image and the spirit walking through the furnace 
is (in the sense of our observations,) another instance of Mr Curran's 
surprising range of command over the varied expanse of literature. 
Scripture he had evidently studied as a favourite classic, and uniformly 
drew from it his happiest touches of allusion and moat graceful lan- 
guage. If it may be said with truth, that there is 110 indication of 

fi:iu>n.j JOHN PHILPOT CURRAN. 1] 

mucn merely intellectual compass or depth about Mr Curran, it will 
by those who justly weigh his claims, not be considered as any deroga- 
tion: such was not his own pretension; it was not in any way 
essential to his proper character. But in such an estimate, there is 
probably a very considerable error of a kind not very fully understood: 
if we admit that Mr Curran does not appear to have been endowed 
with any of those broad and massive intellectual powers which 
must be attributed to the higher classes of lawyers, economists, and 
statesmen; we should add that he possessed powers as rare, and as pro- 
found, when judged by a more impartial and philosophic estimate; his 
depth was a moral depth. His world was that of the heart and of 
human nature. The admiration of mankind is more honest than dis- 
criminating; and injustice is often the result, because praise injudici- 
ously bestowed, raises pretensions open to question: and question, too 
often originating in hostility, seldom waits to do justice. Mr Curran 
was a consummate advocate he possessed the powers of the actor, 
the dramatist, the poet, and the moralist, all kindred faculties; 
and if he is to be referred to a class; it will in principle, be the class 
of Scott and Shakespere, not Adam Smith, Pitt, Fox, or Burke, though 
Burke might be referred to every class. 

We have been at some pains to express these views with more dis- 
tinctness than many of our readers may think necessary, because 
otherwise we might appear to take a slighting view of an eminent 
man, of whose genius we have not formed the same precise estimate 
with many of his admirers. We wish to have it understood, that in 
valuing him differently we do not undervalue him intentionally, and 
that though in common with others, we may have widely erred, yet 
that there is no derogatory design in our statements. 

We must now enter more at large into some details concerning 
those unfortunate and guilty men whose trials took place in 1798, and 
whose defence forms no little portion of Mr Curran's renown. Mr 
Rowan's case we omit, because we propose to offer a brief memoir 
of this gentleman further on. 

The next state trial in which Mr Curran's efforts are recorded is 
that of Mr William Jackson. He was a clergyman of the church of 
England, a native of Ireland, but had for several years resided in 
England in the family of the Duchess of Kingston, who is supposed to 
have used his pen in her controversy with Foote. Having visited 
France and embraced the principles of republicanism, he was 
presently employed in the same cause with other Irishmen who from 
perverted nationality or want of honesty were ready to lend themselves 
to the designs of the enemy. He w r as sent over to Ireland to ascer- 
tain the practicability of an invasion. We have already had to men- 
tion the result. In London he met an old confidential friend to whom 
he made certain communications, and engaged to some extent in his 
correspondence. This person after a short time fearing to have gone 
too far revealed the circumstances to Mr Pitt. Mr Pitt availed 
himself of so favourable an opportunity, and desired him to accompany 
Mr Jackson to Ireland. and bv his means obtain further information 


as to the state and progress of the conspiracy which seemed to be 
Ihus indicated. Accordingly this person, whose name was Cockayne, 


obeyed, and soon made discoveries already familiar to the reader. Of 
Mr Jackson's guilt there could of course be no doubt, and it was not 
long before Cockayne gave information, and he was arrested and tried 
on the charge of high treason. 

As Mr Jackson had been held aloof from, by the exceeding caution 
of the United Irishmen, he had not at the time come into connexion 
with the leaders of this body further than some meetings of a pro- 
bationary nature with Tone. But the interest taken in his fate was 
so great among that body, that four inferior members, associated to 
save him by the assassination of Cockayne; a circumstance which 
became known in the course of another trial. 

Mr Jackson remained in prison a year, during which time he was 
treated with great kindness and lenity by the government, and per- 
mitted to enjoy the society of his friends. A circumstance is men- 
tioned, during this time to have occurred, which is not only honour- 
able to Mr Jackson, but which offers a strong case for the illustration 
of the important moral theorem, that laxity of political or public prin- 
ciple is not inconsistent with private integrity. One of his friends 
had remained with him to a late hour, and he w r ent to see him to the 
outer door. The jailer was asleep and beside him lay the keys. Not 
wishing to disturb him, Mr Jackson took the keys and let out his 
friend. While thus engaged, the natural thought of escape flashed 
upon him ; he wavered for a moment but the next brought up to his 
mind the consequences to the jailer, who had on all occasions treated 
l.lm with kindness; the generous sense prevailed, he quietly laid down 
the keys, and without awakening the friendly jailer, returned to his 

The terrible particulars of Mr Jackson's trial cannot we regret, be 
here stated with the detail they merit. \Ve abridge them from Mr 
Curran's life, where they are given with dramatic effect. 

Precautions had been taken against suicide, which were ridiculed 
by the prisoner, who observed that " the man who feared not death, 
could not want the means of dying, and that as long as his head was 
within reach of the prison wall, he could prevent his body from being 
suspended to scare the community/' 

When on his way to the court to receive his sentence he was 
observed to be very sick. In the court he appeared in great disorder, 
which was for a time ascribed to fear. This continued to increase 
rapidly; he obeyed the directions of the court, with unnatural and 
spasmodic efforts, which served to indicate an imperfect conscious 
ness ; the perspiration streamed down his face, and rose in clouds of 
steam from his hair; a general impression of astonishment and horror 
spread through the court. " He beckoned his counsel to approach 
him, and making an effort to squeeze him with his damp and nerve- 
less hand, uttered in a whisper, and with a smile of most awful 
triumph, the dying w r ords of Pierre 

' We have deceived the senate.' ' 

Struck by these terrible indications, Clonmel was about to remand 
him, when the attorney-general entered the court and called for judg- 

* Dr M'Ne.iu's Pieces of Irish History. Life of Curran. 


inent ; he was accordingly " set forward and displayed a liorrible 
spectacle; in a profuse perspiration, tottering-, and his face convulsed 
. with a rapid succession of 'minute and irregular' spasms : his eyelids 
weighed down with the gathering torpor, drooped upon his half 
closed eyes on which the dim glare of approaching death was to be 
seen. Still endeavouring to obey the orders of the court, and to 
assume the appearance of firmness, he exhibited in a manner which 
must ha^ e been awful to witness a frightful struggle between the 
powers of life and death. In this condition, while vainly trying to 
stand erect, he was asked the usual question of the law, " what he had 
to say why judgment should riot, &c." Mr Curran rose and interposed 
some arguments in arrest ofgudgment. A long discussion took place 
during which the symptoms rapidly increased. The windows of 
the court were thrown open, and the discussion went on. At last Mr 
Jackson sunk in the dock. The conclusion is taken from the reported 
trial, we copy it from Mr Curran's life, as follows. 

Lord Clonmel. " If the prisoner is in a state of insensibility, it is 
impossible that I can pronounce the judgment of the court upon him." 

Mr Thomas Kinsley who was in the jury-box, said he would go 
down to him; he accordingly w r ent into the dock, and in a short time 
informed the court that the prisoner was certainly dying. 

" By order of the court Mr Kinsley was sworn." 

Lord Cloumel " Are you in any profession?" 

Mr K. " I am an apothecary." 

Lord C. " Can you speak with certainty of the state of the 
prisoner ?'' 

Mr K " I can; I think him verging to eternity." 

Lord C. " Do you think him capable of hearing his judgment?" 

Mr K " I do not think he can." 

Lord C. " Then he must be taken away, &c." While Lord C. 
was giving directions, the sheriff informed the court that the prisoner 
was dead. On which lord Clonmel rejoined, "let an inquisition and 
a respectable one be held upon his body. You should carefully inquire 
by what means he died." The court adjourned and the corpse re- 
gained in the dock till next day when upon the inquest a large quantity 
of metallic poison was found in his stomach. 

The most remarkable feature in this case, was the decision in oppo- 
sition to the most ancient and established principles of criminal justice, 
that in Ireland, one witness was sufficient to sustain the charge of high 
treason. If such an anomaly could be justly or safely admitted, it would 
/ have been in that time, and in Ireland, in which secrecy in treason had 
attained a perfection in itself as strange and unprecedented. It would 
perhaps be dangerous, on any consideration to tamper with the sanctity 
of a principle of such universal and obvious importance: we abstain 
therefore from some reflections suggested by the commentary of others. 
One affirmation must be made, that we wholly deny the assertion that 
any excessive severity can be fairly imputed to the administration of 
criminal law in Ireland: but that on the other hand it was remarkably 
mild. The contrary opinion, asserted by eminent and able men does no 
credit to their candour or judgment; they were advocates and popu- 
lar party men and as such, may be excused for using the language 


of their party. But we cannot help thinking it strange, that their 
descendants, biographers and admirers can be betrayed into the sober 
historical assertion of such \vhollv unwarranted sentiments. The con- 


duct of the administration, was mild, forbearing and equitable; and 
if severity be at all a part of justice, it never was more called for than 
at the time. We would not admit of an unconstitutional expedient; 
but we quite concur in the assertion of the wise and good man who 
was attorney-general then, that " it was rather necessary to strengthen 
the crown against the popular crime, than to strengthen the criminal 
against the crown." We have, indeed, made many statements in proof 
of this proposition; and we have not done with it yet. There can be 
no reasonable doubt, that the law as it was supposed to have stood, 
Wiis in principle defective nor was the contingent advantage sufficient 
to compensate a deviation so wide from a principle which derives 
something of its stability from the most ancient usage. The 
fault was amended by special enactment, settling the rule that high 
treason should require two witnesses for conviction. 

Of the depravity of those miscreants, whose evidence was in that 
dreadful and calamitous state of things resorted to, there can be no 
doubt. It is one of the most deplorable conditions of secret conspiracy, 
that resort must be had to such means; accident may be allowed 
for: but accident apart, there is no way by which honest and trust- 
worthy men can become privy to the deliberations and designs of artful 
villany. The witness must either first have committed the crime, or 
practised treacheries little less guilty and far more revolting. But 
having made so much allowance we must add that there is no better 
alternative; and that practically, no ill consequence of moment is 
likely to arise in any court of justice worthy of consideration, lu 
all the trials of this time, and in all such trials, there were and must 
be large allowances in favour of mercy, the real demerits of the 
witnesses were rightly weighed and appreciated, neither the verdicts 
of juries and judgments of courts were exclusively dependent on mere 
asseveration; whatever may be the rule of legal practice, there is in all 
cases a moral evidence arising from a certain range of facts and cir-, 
cumstances, which essentially governs the decisions of men. 
question is ultimately, as to the validity of a chain of proof, in whici, v 
the character of the witness and the probability of his statements as 
well as their abstract value, must be weighed in the scale of the 
nicest responsibility. In mere theory, it would indeed be easy to show 
how the lives of innocent men might be placed in the hands of per- 
jurers; we fear to be carried too far into disquisition; but we could \ 
easily show that, unless the court itself be first depraved into an instru- 
ment of cruelty, (as in the Spanish inquisition, the revolutionary tribu 
nals, or the courts of some old despotism) such cases are merely theo 
retical ; it would be easy to show that the counteractions, in a Britis 1 
or Irish court of justice are too numerous and too stringent; and that : 
anything must be admitted on the other side, it is merely so much 
must be allowed for the fallibility of all human judgment. One mr 
remark must be made. Subsequent proofs have in all instances confirm . 
the judgments in these cases; and though such proof could have i 
height in justification of a verdict; yet if duly considered it has muc 


in its application to the foregoing argument, as the question of proba- 
bility is affected bj the result of the comparison of instances ; the 
uniform result indicates the agency of the uniform process. 

It has been said that the minds of the jurors were at that time 
strongly influenced by a general panic, and also by that of the 
informers, whose testimony they were called upon to reject. Of these 
influences, the first had some existence, the second does not require 
notice. The general fear of conspiracy did not mislead the juries ; 
but those who have made the remark, have failed to notice, that 
a contrary influence of a much more urgent nature also prevailed. 
The fear of a wide spread popular conspiracy to overawe the consci- 
ences of juries, is ascertained by well-known and unquestionable facts: 
should any one doubt it, we can only here say, that it is a very intel- 
ligible consequence of any popular conspiracy, and especially in this 
country. No one, for example, is ignorant of the extent to which 
provincial juries are controlled by their fears, in the disturbances of 
our own times. But neither then, or now, has there been any just 
ground to impute any very considerable departure on either side from 
their sworn duty, by the jurors in criminal causes. In the metropolis, 
where they have always acted under a sense of adequate protection, it 
may with confidence be affirmed that, at all times, juries have per- 
formed their duties with courage and honesty; and there was in the 
cases to which these remarks are applied, no substantial difficulty. 
The considerations thus reviewed are in our judgment not required 
for the purpose of explaining the peculiar resources of Mr Curran's 
advocacy. So far as such explanations can be necessary, the main 
causes were some of them of a nature opposite to those alleged. To 
create those very impressions, under which he sometimes appeared to 
labour ; and to excite some sense of the state of parties, and the con- 
duct of persons which seemed to rouse his indignation, was an essen- 
tial part of his duty as an advocate. He had in every one of those 
celebrated cases, to contend against law, fact, and justice: this is an 
important portion of his praise; an essential excuse for seeming de- 
fects. But the unfortunate result has been, that the same dexterous 
\ advocacy, which once failed to cloud the common-sense of a jury, or 
to prevent the decisions of justice, has been used to pervert history 
and to give a specious language to party. 

If Mr Curran's style of appeal is to be apologized for, (we do not see 
that it is necessary), it must be on different ground. It was justified 
by the practice of his day; and it is not to be overlooked, that it was his 
uniform style and adopted independently of the circumstances alleged. 
In truth, the rules by which he has been rather severely criticised, 
have been applied by a ludicrous complication of mistakes the clear 
oversight of all applicable considerations. Assuming (what must be 
assumed by the pleader) that his cause is good; his clients, the jury, 
and the court, were precisely in the position that is implied in all 
those solemn and pathetic appeals; and such was the highly seasoned 
style of logic, manner and language, demanded by the taste of the 
time. We do not in this include the faults incidental to that style, of 
these we shall take special notice. 

The most remarkable in many respects of those trials was that of 


Henry and John Sheares, whose fate is still recollected with in- 
terest. This trial afforded one of the most memorable displays of 
Mr Curran's eloquence, and of the peculiar energy with which he 
threw his mind into the cause of his client. The trials of several of 
the leaders of the conspiracy? who had been seized at Bond's, and of 
Bond himself, followed. There is one reason, why we may now pass 
them slightly. As trials, they could not, from the circumstances, be 
more than the necessary preservation of the form and instrumentality 
of the law. The facts were too well ascertained and their character 
too unambiguous, to leave room for any serious question. Mr Curran 
discharged his duty with his usual talent and zeal, but though it was 
his duty to endeavour to shake the character of the informer, he must 
have been aware that the degree in which any point he could so gain 
would bear on the whole proof of the guilt of his clients, was nearly 
an infinitesimal, compared with the full evidence of circumstances. It 
is no disparagement to Mr Curran what is equally applicable to 
every other criminal advocate that if the doctrines he was often ac- 
customed to state on the subject of testimony were adopted in practice 
by juries, it would be impossible to establish a case of high treason 
otherwise than by having recourse to proceedings of a nature wholly 
different from the trial by jury. Happily, the ingenuity which it is on 
those occasions the advocate's duty to employ, is in most cases wholly 
inoperative with the plain common sense of a tribunal, of which it is 
the merit, that in questions of fact, it is provided with the kind and 
measure of inte! r .g-ence which such questions require, unperplexed 
by the rules of science. In making this assertion, we must take 
leave to guard our meaning. 

The doctrine of presumptions, is like sight and hearing, far easier 
to apply than to analyze, and generally more correct in its intimations, 
than any mere inferences of theory. But it is in part for this reason, 
and in part on account of the fallibility of all human judgments, that 
the rules of legal science lean uniformly to caution, and are so con- 
trived, as to favour mercy, rather than strict justice. Its intent is 
not so much to aid the sagacity of the tribunal, as to control and 
limit its exercise, on the merciful principle, that it is better that ten 
guilty should escape, than one innocent person suffer. But as circum- 
stantial evidence may amount to a degree, far beyond any demand of 
justice, or even of mere allegation of witnesses, it would be ridiculously 
absurd to suppose, that technical restrictions can limit the common 
sense of a jury, to the extent which it may be the advocate's duty to 
demand. Any rules by which Jackson, or the Sheares's, or Bond, 
could have been acquitted, would have been inconsistent with the 
sufficiency of the law. The purpose of those whose liberality would 
relax the severity of criminal justice, under the circumstances then 
existing, would be overshot for the concession of their assumptions 
would only tend to prove, that the law of the land is insufficient for 
such occasions, and that times of danger and conspiracy would thus 
demand some provision of a more prompt and decisive character. It 
is a mistake to assume, that the conviction of these men rested on the 
mere allegations of informers, or were in any degree decided by fears 
or influences. The information of Reynolds, (to take an instance,) 


was essential to the arrest of certain persons, and to the steps by 
which strong facts were clearly ascertained 4 but not in the least de- 
gree necessary to ascertain with the utmost assurance of which the 
human mind is capable, the truth of the charges. The testimony was 
essential to satisfy the conditions of positive law. If a murder were 
committed in the hail of the courts, and under the eye of justice the 
same formal and strict testimony would be required; and a clever ad- 
vocate might use similar expedients to construct his defence. It is fit 
and right it should be so were it not, presumption might under 
circumstances be sadly stretched. But in the cases Mr Curran had 
to deal with, all was as clear as is consistent with the nature of human 
concerns. The conspiracy was fully known to exist, and the men 
were fully identified with the conspiracy. Reynolds was but an 
essential form of Justice. We fully approve of the extension of mercy 
in such cases, and do not here contend for strict justice to the shed- 
ding of blood ; we only repel certain statements, and deny the fitness 
of allowing justice to be stultified by paltry technicalities, of which 
the true intent is first dexterously put out of sight by the advocate, 
and next totally set aside by the historian. The praise of Mr Curran 
does not demand the assertion and defence of his bar arguments. 

It may here be the best place to give some account of the two 
brothers, John and Henry Sheares, whose unhappy fate alone 
entitles them to historic recollection. Of these unfortunate gen- 
tlemen, were there indeed any propriety in giving a very detailed 
account, they are still sufficiently recollected by several persons, and 
we have been made sufficiently familiar with their characters and pri- 
vate history, to sketch them with some precision; but there is really 
no reason for such a departure from our general rules of selection. 
They are mentioned to have been members of the Irish bar; Henry 
the elder brother possessed a competent fortune, had received a uni- 
versity education, had no talents, but was much valued and loved in 
the private relations of life. He has left the character of being weak, 
credulous and yielding. Some traits of an opposite but not incon- 
sistent kind, have been preserved among his acquaintances, he was proud, 
ambitious, talkative, and ostentatious. His brother John was a man 
of firmer intellectual mould : a simpler and sterner character, with far 
less vivacity, but with more tendency to enthusiasm. These brothers 
were remarkable for their strict attachment to each other, and as usu- 
ally happens, John possessed a strong ascendancy over both the con- 
duct and opinions of his feebler brother. In 1792, they had spent a 
little time in Paris, where they contracted a republican taint, and in 
consequence, when they came home, they fell into contact with the 
United Irishmen. With their principles, they took up also the cant 
about reform; under the cover of which, these principles were con- 
cealed.* With these dispositions, they soon became objects of public 
suspicion, and in a few instances, fell under the special notice of the 
authorities, but were by a lenity, unfortunate perhaps for themselves, 
connived at. When matters had arrived at the verge of insurrection, 
they were soon drawn in to take an active part. Among the ex- 

* Life uf Wolfe Tone. 


pedients resorted to by the conspiracy, for the furtherance of their 
views, a very obvious preliminary, was the endeavour to seduce the 
soldiery from their duty. In the army, there was in some degree, the 
same diffusion of revolutionary opinion and sentiment, which then 
prevailed among the lower classes; and it is evident, that there must 
thus have been found abundant means of access to the soldiery. 

> ' 

through the agency of disaffected individuals. And such, according 
to the construction which the whole of the facts taken together appear 
to suggest it was in the attempt to avail themselves of such an 
instrumentality for the purpose of seduction, that the Messrs Sheares 
became the dupes and victims of their own intrigues. Among the 
troops quartered at Laughiinstown camp, there was a captain of the 
name of Armstrong, who, though certainly not a United Irishman, 
was, we presume, a person of unsettled principles on general ques- 
tions of politics, and had fallen into the not unusual habit of talking 
very loosely an imputation not having much w r eight in that day. 
But it was the means of exposing him to the proposals of those who 
were on the watch for such indications; and it is to be observed, that 
the conduct of the conspiracy had at that time begun to pass into 
the hands of less experienced persons, and was carried on with less 
tact and discretion, than had till then accompanied the conduct of the 
united men. Captain Armstrong belonged to a regiment which was 
supposed to be disaffected, and this offered an additional inducement 
for the trial. It so happened that he was accustomed to resort occa- 
sionally to the shop of a bookseller, Mr Byrne, who was evidently a 
procurer for the purpose of rebellion. This person drawing his in- 
ferences, both from the conversation (on books, political and re- 
ligious) of Armstrong, and from the character of his regiment, took 
the very obvious step of sounding his opinions ; these, there is every 
reason to believe, were of a free and loose complexion, and most pro- 
bably had, in theory, a close affinity to those of Mr Byrne. It is at 
least easy to see how this person might thus without any design 
be led to consider Mr Armstrong as one fitted for his purpose: such, 
at all events, was his conclusion. And it should be recollected by the 
fair reader, that it does not follow from these incidents, that Mr 
Armstrong actually held the notions which he is thus shown to have 
expressed: every one who has conversed with the world, has often 
met weak persons, who take the tone of their conversation entirely 
from that which prevails among those whom they set up as models 
for themselves the vain, the light and daring. Deism, dissoluteness, 
drunkenness, and disloyalty, formed at that time, no slight portion of 
the character of the rakish fashion of the day, in the middle ranks of 
Irish gentry. They deeply tainted the militia officers. The con- 
sideration is here so far important, as we are inclined to think, that 
too much stress has been laid on the fact, that Mr Armstrong had on 
previous occasions, used very libertine expressions. There was an 
impression made on Byrne, that Mr Armstrong was ready for the 
proposals which, there can be no doubt, he was anxious to urge. 
" Sir," said he, " I could wish a gentleman of your enlightened 
principles, would allow me to introduce you to some gentlemen who 
would be happy to cultivate your acquaintance I mean the Messrs 


Sheares, men who are deeply engaged in the common cause; and as 
you can render material services, you will be a valuable acquisition, 
&c." Now, at this stage, various constructions will apply to the con- 
duct of Armstrong 1 , not one of which will go to affect his character as a 
witness, though some of them would bear unfavourably on him as a man. 
Some persons, when they perceive a shallow design, will humour it for 
mere cajolery ; and it is also evident, that to a man of unrefined and 
coarse mind which does not involve dishonesty or untruth the con- 
duct of Byrne was adapted to suggest a counterplot, which was per- 
fectly fair but not precisely within the conventions acknowledged 
by gentlemen. When it was proposed by Byrne to introduce Mr 
Armstrong to two gentlemen of his own way of thinking; Armstrong, 
of course, saw that he was to be subjected to a regular course of 
seduction, and made instrumental to a certain purpose, and he probablv 
decided at once what to do. There was here indeed little choice 
between one course, which was rigidly right, and a crime of the basest 
description; it was his duty to expose such an attempt. He may have 
lent himself too far to a false understanding, and if so, we cannot 
acquit him of the charge of meanness; but he was also perhaps under 
a very natural impression, which the history of the trial puts wholly 
out of sight; and it is one which might carry a man very far: the 
reader must recollect, that all the time he may have (or must have,) 
perceived that he was himself the object of a crafty, perfidious, arid 
criminal game, and that he was deeply interested in outwitting and 
defeating his insnarers. He had not, it ought to be remembered, 
before his mind the tragic circumstances, which have lent a peculiar 
interest to the fate of his seducers. Now, though it may be truly 
said that no person of a high sense of honour will stoop to a contest in 
craft, such as we are now supposing : it will not follow that a man 
who will, is to be regarded as acting on meaner motives than those 
of the multitude. The exercise of considerable artifice and even of 
deception, unworthy as it is of the gentleman or the Christian, does 
not disqualify as a witness in a court of justice. If it did, few indeed 
could be admitted a large class would be too evidently excluded. 
The manner and circumstances must regulate the credence of the 
man in such cases. If it be asserted that in the proceedings of IVIr 
Armstrong there was both duplicity and treachery; they were 
employed in opposition to duplicity and treachery, with this differ- 
ence, that on the side of Mr Armstrong the motives were clearly 
those of duty, on that of the Sheareses of crime. We do not affirm 
(or admit,) that there is any duty which in strictness can warrant 
such conduct we simply assert, that in the administration of justice, 
character must be estimated according, to the average morality of 
human conduct, which is by no means very high. In poetry, in 
moral writings, in the professed maxims of the world, a higher standard 
prevails, drawn from a purer code; and therefore, when the advocate 
finds it expedient to depreciate character, it is very easy to turn the 
pure and bright beams of moral truth upon the infirmities of another, 
which his own could ill stand the test of. It is also to be observed, 
in reference to this case and some others, in which Mr Curran was 
employed that the same considerations lead to the further stricture 



on criminal advocates in general, that they carry their efforts to taint 
the character of the witnesses for the prosecution, something beyond 
what we can admit to be fair. Perhaps the best excuse for this may 
be, that such dexterity is insufficient for the purpose for which it is 
employed, and can seldom impose on the good sense of juries. 

But to return to our narrative, Mr Armstrong, upon receiving the 
proposal of Byrne, must have felt the intent of the proposal, and con- 
cluded without any doubt as to the line which his duty imposed. Byrne 
may in the first instance have acted without thought, and unadvisedly 
mud..- the concession usual in such cases: it would have needed some 
firmness and presence of mind to refuse; he hadheediesly talked him- 
selt into a false position. But having assented, it is still more apparent 
that he must have felt himself committed to act in one way or other, 
lie might have retracted, this would have required explanation and 
recantations, from which weak and mean men shrink. He pursued 
the rigid line of duty, in communicating with his superior. It 
appears that he received the directions usually given on all such occa- 
sions; to lend himself to the arts employed for his corruption, and thus 
enable the government through his means to trace them. Mr Arm- 
strong acceded, and having been introduced to the brother conspirators, 
he necessarily entered upon a course of proceedings of no very honour- 
able character, and from a review of which we fully admit, we think 
very lowly indeed of Mr Armstrong. We have so far dwelt with 
more than usual minuteness on the preceding details, because the 
tLirerent narrators of the same transaction, while they do not deny the 
substantial truth of his allegations, appear to consider his character 
as a witness questionable, and that some discredit is thus reflected 
on the prosecution. We think differently in both respects, and have 
endeavoured to make apparent the grounds of our opinion. 

It was past midnight when Mr Curran rose to address the jury in 
the deience of Mr Henry Sheares; he was exhausted by the exertions 
of a duy spent in protracted endeavours to discredit the testimony of 
the witness. He availed himself of the equivocal character of many 
of the circumstances already mentioned, with a latitude fully conceded 
to the advocate in such cases, with great felicity, and delivered one 
of the most affecting speeches perhaps ever heard in a court of 
justice, leaving no topic untouched which might affect the feelings, 
conscience, or reason of the jury. As, however, the whole evidence 
was such as to leave no doubt upon the case, his eloquence was vain 
to save his unfortunate clients. From the circumstances which came 
out on the trial, the credibility of Mr Armstrong seemed to be con- 
siderably shaken;* but his evidence was too strongly supported by 
facts and circumstances to admit of reasonable doubt. And the verdict 
of guilty was followed by the sentence of the law. 

* Some opinions held by Mr Armstrong, were proved by most credible witnesses, 
and denied by him on oath. But his profession of such opinions may have 
been false, and his oath true. Men of shallow understanding and loose lives have 
often made a boast of infidel opinions, and assumed the character of freethinkers, 
without (in reality,) having any distinct opinions at all. And it is not improb- I 
able that the idle boast of a random tongue, may be wholly forgotten by tho 


The peculiarities of position and circumstance under which these 
unfortunate gentlemen were thus placed, can have in them but little 
more interest than must belong to that dreadful interval between the 
condemnation of the criminal and its ^ad event. But incidental occur- 
rences have withdrawn the gloomy veil which mostly conceals the terror 
of the condemned cell, and a frightful as well as affecting glimpse is 
given of the extremity of moral suffering in the person of Henry 
Sheares. On the announcement of the verdict, the brothers clasped 
each other in their arms. When brought up for judgment they each 
addressed the court. Henry Sheares having a large family, attempted 
to utter a request that he should have time allowed for the arrange- 
ment of his affairs ; at the mention of his family, his feelings over- 
powered him, and he was unable to proceed. His brother John 
addressed the court at some length. After vindicating himself 
from the imputation of having inculcated sanguinary rules of conduct 
among the rebels, he proceeded w r ith strong and pathetic earnestness 
to implore that some respite should be allowed to Henry, to provide 
for his unhappy wife and six children, and their aged mother. The 
request was inadmissible, and the refusal, which was hardly less 
pathetic than the request, was rendered painful to lord Carleton, by 
circumstances which we shall state in his own words. " In the awful 
duty imposed on me, no man can be more sensibly affected than I am, 
because I knew the very valuable and respectable father and mother 
from whom YOU are both descended. I knew and revered their 


virtues. One of them, happily for himself, is now no more; the other, 
for whom I have the highest personal respect, probably by the events 
of this day may be hastened into futurity," &c. His lordship's address 
ended with the sentence of the law. And at the demand of the Attorney- 
general, he ordered that it should be executed on the next day. John 
Sheares prepared to meet his end with the natural firmness of his 
character. A letter which he wrote to his sister the night before his 
death, bears all the characters of strong affection for his family, and 
a calm and unshaken fortitude. The circumstances attendant upon 
the other brother's death are more remarkable. We cannot fairly say 
that Mr Henry Sheares was utterly devoid of the ordinary degree of 
human courage, for the affections of our nature are variable, and the 
changes of character dependant on circumstance are very extreme; 
the peculiar incidents belonging to this unfortunate gentleman's posi- 
tion, were such as to shake the fortitude and soften the affections of 
most men. When any cause induces a person to turn his back on 
danger, however free from fear he may have been, fear is likely to be 
a consequence. In Henry Sheares, the affectionate solicitude of his 
friends heightened the love of life and the pain of parting the strong 
interest with which his fate was viewed imposed on his imagination; 
the impression left on his mind by the defence of his advocate, the 
sympathy of the judge, with minor incidents which we need not 
mention, all contributed to raise illusory hopes, and his feelings 
could not within the short interval allowed let go the hold of 
life and turn composedly to his dreadful fate. Such we believe 
were really the causes which operated to cast his mind into tha 
fearful struggle, which, however it may commence, may lead to the 


agony of terror. We have been tempted to regret that his letter 
to Sir Jonah Barrington was preserved; it exhibits that awful 
convulsion of spirit which the heart shrinks from, and which 
one would wish concealed for the same reason that the features are 
hidden in the last struggles of the scaffold. On receiving that letter, 
Barrington hastened to lord Clare, who was deeply affected by it, and 
advised Barrington to take the only step which remained, evidently 
intending to co-operate. But he was not aware of the rapidity with 
which the officials connected with justice were at the very same 
mon|ent rendering vain any such late efforts. Had Sir J. Barrington 
received the letter but a few hours sooner, there is little room to doubt of 
his success, as substantially it contained an offer which was precisely 
conformable to the suggestion of lord Clare. " I will lie under any condi- 
tions the government may choose to impose on me, if they will but re- 
store me to my family." The chancellor's suggestion was, " do you 
think Henry can say anything, or make any species of discovery which 
can authorize the lord lieutenant in making a distinction between 
them?" The chancellor was fully desirous to save him: but for 
reasons very plain and evident, he was anxious that the reprieve should 
be accounted for in such a manner as to prevent the mischievous con- 
sequences which it might otherwise produce at so critical a juncture. 
Among those who lived in that time and were acquainted with Henry 
Sheares, some excuses have been made for him; we do not enter into 
them here because they appear to us weak and inconclusive, arid we 
should be compelled to waste space in their analysis. 

The trials connected with this period, in which Mr Curran was 
successively engaged, remain some of them to be noticed hereafter; 
but so far as the orator or advocate merely is to be commemorated, we 
have nothing material to add to the remarks hitherto made. Some of 
the peculiarities of his oratory, we have traced to time and circum- 
stance, some to the nature of the duty on which he was engaged: we 
may add very generally, that in some of the praises of the admirers of 
his speeches we do not coincide, and in like manner, that we strongly 
disagree with the most unfair and uncandid as well as narrow and 
mistaken attacks which have been made upon them in some well known 
critical works. We must now add, that so far as we can extract any 
fair notion of Mr Curran's political opinions from his conductor public 
speeches, they are so broadly at variance with every opinion which we 
have endeavoured to maintain in these lives, that it would now be 
superfluous to enter on the subject. Of his parliamentary speeches 
few specimens remain; these, so far as we have seen them, rather 
manifest a disposition to relieve and adorn the tediousness of debate, or 
perhaps to disconcert by wit those upon whom argument had failed, 
than any very strong interest in or deep knowledge of the subject. 
He could not indeed have much thought to spare for such discussions. 
We also apprehend that his affections were too deeply cast and 
coloured in the mould and tones of nationality to look with cold and 
unbiassed reason on any of the great questions which then agitated the 
heart of Ireland to its centre. 

During the peace of 1802 he paid a short visit to Paris, when a new 
chapter of political philosophy was opened to his keen observant mind, 


and which we believe he attentively and profitably studied. His 
speech in behalf of Kir wan in the rebellion of 1803, is elevated not 
only by a sounder but stronger and more philosophic tone of principle 
than anything 1 preserved of his previous displays. Something of this 
is due to a cause which, in fairness to Mr Curran, ought to be strongly 
put forward. The criminal advocate has too often the disadvantage 
of being induced (perhaps compelled,) to defend guilt by maintaining 
false principles, and imposing false impressions, and this must after- 
wards operate to lower the credit of his character as an orator. But 
on the occasion now adverted to, he took hold of the occasion to 
throw out many sound, forcible, and impressive appeals to his deluded 
countrymen which prompt, in reading it, a wish that there were now 
among us some voice of equal power to warn and to remonstrate with 
our delusions. Of the rebellion of 1803 we must offer some separate 
notice, and shall therefore avoid it here. We shall only stay to notice 
that the intimacy of Robert Emmet in Mr Curran's family involved him 
in circumstances of a most painful nature. To some of these we 
must distinctly advert in a brief memoir of Robert Emmet, to which 
we refer the reader. The visits of this ill-fated man, necessarily cast 
some degree of suspicion on one so popular in his opinions and reputa- 
tion as Mr Curran, and occasioned some troublesome steps of inquiry, 
in which he was however treated with respect, and delicacy as well as 
justice, by all persons concerned in the investigation. 

On Mr Pitt's death, Mr Curran's party came into power. He was 
appointed master of the rolls, and a member of the privy council. He 
was dissatisfied with a station so little in conformity with the character 
of his habits of legal practice, which had been entirely or at least 
chiefly confined to the law courts. And in consequence there arose a 
coolness which lasted some time between him and his friend Mr 
George Ponsonby. 

There remains little to be told. The rest of his life was passed in 
the duties of his situation, and the social intercourse for which he was 
endowed with so many striking qualifications. It is mentioned by his 
biographer, that from the hour of his promotion, his spirits were 
observed to decline. To relieve the monotony of his time, he was 
led to form some projects of literature. Of these, one was a memoir 
of himself and his time. It is much to be regretted that his health 
and leisure should have deprived the world of anything from Mr 
Curran's pen; we may frankly say, it is not precisely a historical 
work that we should most desire to receive from his hands; neverthe- 
less it must be added, that it is so impossible to believe that he could 
have fallen into the utter falsehood, and the flagitious misrepre- 
sentation which disgraces the historical accounts of his time, it 
would have been an advantage to possess the testimony of one man of 
scrupulous integrity and of legal and constitutional understanding to 
confront with so much false testimony. Indeed, there are circum- 
stances that show Mr Curran's mind to have subsided into far more 
just and temperate views than might be presumed from the evidence 
of his speeches: but as we have already observed, the speeches of the 
advocate or the partisan are no test of the historian. The few remarks 



upon the subject left by Mr Curran himself,* give a favourable idea 
r* the spirit in which he would have entered on the task, and suggest 
the scrupulous caution and self-distrust, which are among the best 
securities for the truth and impartiality of history. Of the other 
literary undertaking mentioned by his biographer, it must be allowed 
that few men appear to have been more eminently qualified by nature 
while there was also much in the previous habits of his life to prepare 
him for such an effort. We doubt whether a work of fiction can be the 
fruit of such broken efforts as he would have had the power to bestow, 
still there cannot be much doubt that in this department of effort, he 
could not well have failed to leave a work of great power, pregnant with 
wit, observation, and the heart-knowledge in which his genius lay. 
This was the favourite undertaking and perhaps very little remained 
to be done, could the effort be summoned for that little. He had in 
fact composed a great part of his tale in his mind, and was in the 
habit of reciting long passages from it among his friends, such as to 
suggest very high expectations of what it would be when completed. 
Mr Curran is mentioned as being much addicted to novel reading, and 
to have dwelt with the freshness of infant delight on the scenes which 
caught his fancy in the writings of the most eminent novelists. He 
had evidently a fine and feeling perception of effect, indicated by his 
great mastery of the art of social narration, and this, schooled as it is 
likely to have been by his habits of reading and the practice of a fine 
discrimination, could not well fail to have raised any effort of his pen 
far above the standard of mediocrity. With all this, there can be no 
doubt of the power of Mr Curran in the exercise of his intellect in the 
range of passion and sentiment; this was the proper walk of his 
understanding, plainly perceptible in all his sayings and doings of what- 
ever description: within the same range of moral power which gave 
weight and pathos to his addresses, there can be little doubt of the 
success with which he might have wielded the wand of fiction. 

The change of habits to which these projects were to be traced, 
had, as we have said, a depressing effect on his spirits. The dry 
business of equity, did not afford exercise to his peculiar powers. 
It was morally a termination of his public existence, and the effect is 
very traceable, both in such of his letters as have been preserved and 
in the recollections which yet remain among those who knew him. 
We are inclined to infer, from a multitude of small incidents, that he 
had been at all times a man of the most morbid habits and tendencies 
of temper; these are liable to be repressed in society, and in the con- 
duct of public business; to some extent, they shun the eye of day. It 
is in the privacy of retirement, or on those occasions when a man's 
individual sense is in some way brought into action that they assert 
their supremacy. In many of the well-known stories about Mr Curran, 
there are strong proofs of this. For example, the collisions between 
himself and lord Clare, are, some of them, referrible to a tendency 
to suspect insult, and to the well-known habit of an irritable self-asser- 
tion. It is somewhat curious indeed, that the partiality of his bio- 

* See Life, by his Son, vol. ii. p. 163 r 


grapher in stating the affronts which he resented with so much spirit, 
passes entirely over what is so very obvious, the insults on his part which 
preceded them, and which Mr Curran was so ready to offer at the call 
of public duty. There is one statement made by his biographer which 
appears to be wholly accountable on the supposition of a morbid antici- 
pation of insult, and a fierce preparation to repel it. Mr Curran, under 
circumstances tending to implicate him in Emmet's rebellion, is brought 
by the attorney-general (acting as a friend) to lord Clare in private, 
and is insulted by a look, which he imagined himself to have returned 
with such a formidable glance as completely to prostrate the lord 
chancellor, and to have changed him so wholly, that having intended 
to be very tyrannical, he actually conducted himself with great for- 
bearance and delicacy. Now, all this requires no^comment; any 
one who has well considered the characters of the parties will at once 
see how Mr Curran imposed on himself. We should not notice this, 
but that it affects another person besides Mr Curran. 

During this period, Mr Curran passed his vacations in travelling 
for health or amusement. In his visits to England, he was received with 
all the distinction which his talents and celebrity claimed from persons 
of every rank; and we accordingly trace him in the highest whig 

In 1814, the increasing infirmity of his health induced him to resign 
his judicial appointment and from that period he passed most of his 
time in England. A few of his letters are the sole materials from which 
(if space admitted,) we should be enabled to follow him with any 
detail through the brief remainder of his days. These letters, which, 
considering the writer, must be read always with interest, have an 
added interest in the verv singular distinctness with which they 

i/ O ' 

exhibit the working of a mind to which the world had become vapid 
and colourless, and of which the springs appear to have become 
thoroughly broken down, and the spirits evaporated. Still it is the 
probability, that, under the influence of -the social affections, and the 
power of convivial excitement, the " cervantic spirit which used 
to set the table in a roar" would be lighted up for a moment, and that 
the wonted charm would be found upon his tongue. And such, indeed, 
is apparent from the testimony of many. But from the more retired 
and sobered loneliness of his pen, the power and exhilaration had 
departed he is perceptibly overpowered by a sense of the monotony 
of the prison wall of his existence, and of a life cheered by no animating 
principle; his heart is sick. He reflects and remarks, but his mind is 
not with his words he makes efforts, and is strenuous without energy 
or power. He meditates on mortality in the catacombs, and on all the 
sad and busy vanities which he meets; but in all he seems to be rather 
rousing up his mind to feel and think, than to be in earnest on any- 
thing, except now and then an affecting allusion to himself. He was 
accompanied by an impression, which did not deceive him, that he was 
near the end of his life. A few years of very melancholy wandering 
from place to place in search of health, which he did not hope to find, 
and of aocial intercourse, which he but imperfectly enjoyed, conducted 
| him to the gate towards which all are travellers. He was first seized 
with slight attacks of paralysis, which did not apparently affect the 


vital parts, and which went off without serious alarm. It was on the 
7th of October, 1817, a swelling appeared over one of his eyes, 
which he merely attributed to cold ; on the 8th he was seized by 
apoplexy, from which he continued insensible, or nearly so, to his death 
on the 14th. " Three of his children," writes his biographer, " his son- 
in-law, and daughter-in-law, and his old and attached friend, Mr 
Godwin, surrounded his death-bed, and performed the last offices of 
piety and respect." 

He was buried on the 4th of November, in one of the vaults of 
Paddington church. Among others, Mr Thomas Moore, the Rev. 
George Croly, and Mr Godwin, attended his funeral. 

His biographer claims for him the praise of " having held for the 
last twenty years of his life, the reputation of being the most eloquent 
advocate that had ever appeared at the Irish bar," and adds, that " if 
future times shall hold his genius in estimation, it is his eloquence 
which must entitle him to that distinction." With this dictum we 
fully agree; and, as any further criticism would involve very tedious 
discussion, we must be content to adopt it. 

But the most striking and peculiar of Mr Curran's talents was one 
which of all others is least susceptible of any permanent memorial. 
It w r as his wit, which during the better years of his life was as an ex- 
haustless spring of delight in the convivial ring. A few first-rate 
specimens are handed down among the old story-tellers of the Irish 
bar they require to be well told, and would evaporate on paper. So 
much of the best sallies of wit consists in the prompt and unexpected 
light that flashes from the spirit, and glances on the incident of the 
moment, that in few instances it bears even oral repetition; and for this 
it must be acted to the life. It is also the free and unstudied sparkle 
of evanescent gleams of combination, allusion, and of the play of fancy, 
that constitutes the better order of wit; the specimen must needs do 
it wrong. And the more so, as taken singly there are few mots so 
supremely good as not to be within the compass of numerous punsters, 
who having adopted a profession of waggery succeed from time to time 
in manufacturing very clever things. 


DIED A. D. 1834. 

MR ROWAN was born in 1751. He was the son of Gawin Hamilton, 
of Killyleagh, and of the only daughter of William Rowan, whose name 
he adopted, in consequence of a desire expressed in his grandfather's 
will. The accounts of his early life are of much interest, but must 
be here omitted. He received his education in England; and having 
been for some time in Westminster school, he entered the university 
of Cambridge. While a student, he paid a visit to Holland. He 
obtained a commission in the Huntingdon militia, from the duke of , 
Manchester. About the same time, he was induced by a London 

* This memoir is drawn up entirely from the autobiography of Mr Rowan. 


solicitor to raise money by selling annuities at six years' purchase, 
and launched into a course of extravagance. Soon after, he became 
acquainted with lord C. Montague, who being compelled to return to 
his government of South Carolina, invited him to accompany him as 
far as Falmouth, and then prevailed upon him to take a trip with him 
to America, in the character of private secretary. At Charleston, he 
witnessed some of the political disorders which were in fact the 
early preliminaries to the American war. After three months, he 
took his passage back to England, where having arrived, he returned 
to Cambridge. 

Finding himself heavily involved by the extreme mismanagement 
of his pecuniary concerns, he applied to his parents. His mother 
offered to compound with his creditors, which he honourably refused. 
He obtained relief by arrangements suggested by a friendly soli- 
citor, which, at some sacrifice of his estate, obtained money to pay 
his debts, and continue his expensive style of living. He hired a 
house on Hounslow Heath, kept lodgings in London, and " having 
plenty of cash at command, thought nothing of expense." He kept 
his phaeton and hunters. His coachman turned out to be a notorious 
highwayman, known as " sixteen-string Jack," who, there was reason 
to suspect, used his hunters for the purpose of highway robberies. 
This man on one occasion, when his master happened to want cash to 
buy a horse, offered him a 50 note. 

About this period of his life, a paper written by one of his Cam- 
bridge contemporaries, supplies some distinct notions of his character 
at an early age; and as it is preserved by Mr Rowan himself, it may 
be regarded as authentic. The following particulars may be gleaned 
from it. It mentions " his incessant intrepidity, his restless curiosity, 
his undertaking spirit." His strong mechanical tendencies are also dwelt 
upon, as something unusually remarkable. His love of adventure and 
frolic were equally striking, and he was "to be found in every daring 
oddity. Lords Burlington and Kent, in all their rage for pediments, 
were nothing to him. For often has the morning caught him scaling* 
the high pediments of the school door, and at peril of his life, 
clambering down, opening the door within, before the boy who kept the 
door could come with the key. His evenings set upon no less perils; 
in pranks with gunpowder, in leaping from unusual heights into the 
Thames," &c. At Cambridge, he is similarly described, as "after 
shaking all Cambridge from its propriety by a night's frolic, in which 
he climbed the sign-posts, and changed all the principal signs, he was 
rusticated," &c. 

Of his vivacity, frolic, and love of practical jests, many curious 
anecdotes are told. And his early disposition appears equally marked 
by warmth both of temper and affection, and by his animated enthusiasm. 
With such a disposition, the bent of his opinions was likely to be 
determined by the intercourse of that society in which he should 
chance to fall. And his associates were nearly all persons who enter- 
tained opinions closely resembling those which were afterwards the 
principles of his own course in life. But one disposition of Mr Rowan's 
mind is strongly and justly pointed out by the editor of his life, as 
offering the true key to much of his early conduct; and we should add 


that the same clue is also adverted to bv Mr Rowan himself, when the 


experience of much suffering had made him " a sadder and a wiser 
man;" it was an irrepressible craving for distinction. It was his 
prominent impulse to be first; and the success which was in early years, 
the result of courage and physical prowess, helped to buoy up and feed 
this most unfortunate direction of human pride. 

The narrative of Mr Rowan's life, is one of romantic and striking 
incidents and adventures, which we much regret being compelled to 
omit; but it should be said that they are mostly such as to convey the 
impression, of which we fully believe the justice, that he was a man of 
great moral and physical energies, and capable of the utmost extremes 
of hardihood, and the most exalted sacrifices to his notions of right. 

Among other excursions and journeys, Mr Rowan paid a visit to 
France, where he resided for some time. He became acquainted with 
the notorious and unfortunate George Robert Fitzgerald, who at- 
tempted to jockey him out of a horse. Having by his firm and manly 
bearing defeated this design, he was soon after drawn in to take some 
part in a quarrel between the same gentleman and a Mr Baggs ; of 
which one consequence was, his being tricked out of 100, and then in- 
duced to act as second in the duel which ensued between the parties. It 
was, upon the whole, as singular an affair as we can recollect to have 
read of. Mr Fitzgerald was accused of being plastrone, and defended 
himself by throwing off his coat and waistcoat, when it was observed 
that, though not defended in the cowardly way suspected, he had 
taken the curious precaution of tying ribands round his waist and 
arms. When the parties fired, Mr Baggs was wounded; and while 
levelling their second pistols, he sunk, saying, " Sir, I am wounded." 
*' But you are not dead yet," answered Fitzgerald, firing- at him. 
" Baggs immediately started on his legs, and advanced on Fitzgerald, 
who, throwing his pistol at him, quitted his station, and kept a zigzag 
course along the field, Baggs following him.'' Baggs took a flying 
shot, and brought down his man ; and Fitzgerald who was now wounded 
in the thigh, proposed, that as they were both wounded, they should 
begin again. But Baggs had been taken to his carriage. 

About the same time, or soon after, Mr Rowan obtained from his 
friend, lord C. Montague, a lieutenant-colonelcy in the Portuguese 
army; which led to further wanderings and adventures, but to no 
military service. He visited Portugal in consequence, and paid a vis>it 
to Gibraltar. 

A more important event in the history of his life is next to be 
mentioned. In 17^1, he was married to Miss Dawson of Lisanisk, m-ar 
Carrickmacross. This young lady was at school in England, and was 
accustomed to reside during the vacations with Mr Rowan's mother. 
She was, at the time of her marriage, in her 17th year. Some time previ- 
ous to their marriage, Mr Rowan was in Paris; and his letters and 
journals addressed to her, and now published in his autobiography, 
afford many interesting glimpses of Paris, and some not less so of 
himself. His mother came to Paris, accompanied by the young lady, 
and they were married there. While thev continued to reside in 

** * 

Paris, their eldest son Gawin Hamilton, afterwards a distintiuibhed 


captain in the navy, was born. They remained about two years in 


Paris, moving, as their rank entitled them, in the best circles, and 
receiving the most marked attentions from all persons of distinction. 

In 1784, Mr Rowan came to reside in Ireland, when he purchased 
Rathceffey, in the county of Kildare. Soon after, while he was in 
Dublin with his family, a transaction occurred, which first brought 
him prominently into popular notice ; and thus, we are persuaded, ex- 
ercised an unfortunate influence over his after-course in life. We 
cannot enter into details in themselves insignificant ; but the sum of 
the affair was, that a girl of the name of Mary Neal had been, or was 
alleged to have been, grossly ill-treated. The proceedings taken by 
her father were crossed by other accusations and proceedings Mary 
Neal and her family were accused of robbery. Her mother died in 
prison ; and Mary was convicted, and sentenced to death. A strong 
feeling of suspicion was excited, and Mr Rowan entered into the in- 
vestigation of the circumstances with all the enthusiasm of a generous 
and fiery nature. He wrote a pamphlet on the occasion; and causing 
a person who had a principal share in the accusation to be arrested, 
he convicted him of subornation of perjury. Mary Neal was thus 
saved, but an active paper-war ensued; and Mr Rowan, while his own 
enthusiasm was strongly excited in the defence of an injured female, 
became the object of popular admiration and favour. This is the 
occasion of a story well toid by Sir Jonah Harrington, and also quoted 
by Mr Rowan's editor, which represents him as making his appear- 
ance in a club composed of lawyers, and alarming the company with 
his formidable appearance, and more formidable demand to know if 
any of them would avow himself the calumniator of Mary Neal. 

This incident was soon followed by another still more adapted to 
throw an inauspicious popularity round Mr Rowan. A bull-baiting 
having been attempted to be suppressed by the sheriff, resistance was 
made by the people they pelted stones at the soldiers, who fired in 
return, and killed four persons. Mr Rowan was applied to, and after 
some signs of reluctance, came forward; after subscribing larg'ely to 
a fund for the prosecution of a public inquiry, he came to town and 
spent five hours in "tracing every step of the military that day." 
Sheriff Vance was tried, and acquitted; but Mr Rowan's character was 
set in a strong light, as a defender of the people's rights, and his 
enthusiasm received a new impulse. 

Impulses of a stronger kind soon arose, which were adapted to act 
powerfully on the calmest mind. It cannot be necessary to repeat the 
history of the Irish volunteers. In this celebrated body Mr Rowan 
was enrolled. He joined his father's company at Killyleagh, and was 
distinguished by his military adroitness in the usual exercises. At 
the election of delegates, he was elected for the county of Down. 

We may pass this portion of his history with the observation, that 
it was his introduction to that career of party which he afterwards 
followed. He w T as universally received with those marks of distinction 
Avhich were the n itural tribute to his character and station, and 
which were peculiarly adapted to work on a proud temper, accessible 
to flattery, and alive in a high degree to all the kindly emotions and 
social sympathies. At this time, faction had not yet wholly absorbed 
the public feelings : and while motives of the noblest kind first im- 


bodied the protestants of the north, the political sentiments which soon 
began to be developed among them, and to vitiate their conduct and 
character, had in themselves some high redeeming qualities; they 
were true in principle, and only erroneous so far that they were prema- 
ture as related to Ireland, and unseasonable as regarded the then 
state of Europe. In this there is no reproach conveyed. If there 
were errors, they were those of wiser men than Mr Rowan, or those 
who acted with him ; they were the errors of Flood, and Grattan, and 
Fox, and of a numerous and most illustrious host of first-rate men; 
and only illustrate the shortsightedness of the best human wisdom. 

The reader is already aware, that two great impulses began at very 
nearly the same period to be developed among the volunteers that of 
revolution, and that of political reform. They were both separately and 
conjointly efficient. The revolutionists availed themselves of the ques- 
tion of reform, and grew up under its cover; but, as will ever happen 
in such cases, they who were most in earnest, most enthusiastic, and 
prepared to go farthest, gradually contrived to infect the entire. 
They availed themselves of every impulse, and of the whole machinery of 
the party seized on all pretexts, and converted every passion to their 
purpose. And thus, it may appear that while the views of some were 
of the most pernicious kind, others were moderate and well principled. 
Of this latter class was Mr Rowan ; and to him, as to several others, the 
defence set up by that party, and their advocates, may be justly 
applied. They were insensibly warped with the direction given to 
their party, and were taught to despair of reform, and to look for a 
remedy in the gulf of revolution. The transition was artfully con- 
ducted; and it was sustained and fomented by the open sanction and 
excitement of the eloquence of public men, who little considered the 
poisonous exhalations they were breathing over the mind of their 

The exceedingly able and dexterous, but most unwise and unreflect- 
ing men, who gradually obtained the lead of the United Irishmen 
under the pretext of two distinct views, leading the one to the other, 
by which they actually imposed upon their friends, held virtually but 
one from the beginning, according to the account they at the last 
gave of themselves. It was first reform, as the means of revolution ; 
and then revolution, quocunque modo. By this double understanding, 
they were enabled to quibble afterwards with a safe conscience, and 
with the help of that kind of reasoning by which anything can be 
proved, or any course justified. 

Mr Rowan became (as he could not well fail to be) implicated in 
suspicion. In December, I 792, a paper of the most seditious nature, 
breathing the sentiments, and in the language, of the Parisian demo- 
cracy, was actively circulated among the volunteers ; and Mr Rowan, with 
Mr Tandy, were accused of being the instruments employed for the pur- 
pose. An ex ojficio information was filed by the attorney-general against 
Rowan. At the same time, Mr Tandy resented some disrespectful 
words applied to him by Mr Toler in the house of commons; and 
having resolved to obtain satisfaction in the way then usual, he applied 
to Mr Rowan to act as his friend. Mr Tolcr, however, declined the 
proposed meeting. Other incidents of the same kind quickly followed. 


A duel between Mr Burrowes and Mr Dowling took the parties over 
to Holyhead; and Mr Rowan accompanied, as friend to Mr Dowling. 
Another quarrel of the same nature immediately after occurred between 
the hon. Simon Butler and lord Fitzgibbon. Mr Rowan was applied to 
by the former. But lord Fitzgibbon, whose courage had, in several well- 
known instances, been placed beyond question, refused to compromise 
the dignity of his station, by answering a challenge on account of 
severe language used by him, in delivering a sentence of the house of 
lords. Mr Rowan called upon him, and with great propriety, hoped 
he might be permitted to say it was not his lordship's intention that his 
words should be taken personally, and that they had been made use of 
unreflectingly. The answer of lord Fitzgibbon is characterestic: 
he " thought that the circumstances of the case called for the expres- 
sions he had used; that he never spoke unreflectingly in that situation; 
and, under similar circumstances, he would again use similar words." 
He declined further explanation, referred Mr Rowan to his situation 
as lord chancellor, and so the matter ended. Mr Rowan, in this affair, 
conducted himself with a spirit and temper which seem to have made 
a favourable impression on the mind of the chancellor. A friend of 
his, who chanced to breakfast with lord Fitzgibbon soon after, men- 
tioned that Mr Rowan had expressed to him his regret at having 
come to Ireland while party was running so high, and that he would 
return to England, when the prosecution then pending should be 
over. Lord Fitzgibbon desired the gentleman to tell Mr Rowan, that 
if he would retire to England for a few years, " he would issue a nol. 
pros, on the prosecution " But unfortunately he added the condition 
that he should withdraw his name from the United Irishmen. This 

Mr Rowan declined, and the offer came to nothing*. 

. . 

In 1793, an incident occurred which was the cause of great trouble 

to Mr Rowan. In a trial in Scotland, a letter of his was read in 
court in evidence against a Mr Muir, to whom it had been addressed. 
It drew from the lord advocate some very severe language, directed 
against the writer. Mr Rowan resolved to look for satisfaction, and 
went over to Edinburgh with his friend the hon. Simon Butler. The 
public was then little less agitated in Scotland than in Ireland, by 
passions, animosities, and fears; and there was far less indulgence for 
the chivalric levelling of the Irish code of honour. The lord advocate 
was less accessible to hostile messages than lord Fitzgibbon, and there 
the character of Mr Rowan was less known. A warrant was issued 
against him. He was set at liberty on the security of Mr M'Leod, a 
gentleman of large property and extensive connexions, and holding 
generally the same party tenets. The matter was then terminated 
by the lord advocate's declaration, that he did not hold himself ac- 
countable for observations which he thought proper to make in his 
official capacity, &c. And as it was evident that he could not be 
compelled to take a different course, Mr Rowan and his friend saw the 
inutility of further prosecuting an affair which a little sounder dis- 
cretion should have stopped at the first. 

In the meantime, the period of the expected trial drew on upon the 
information filed in the preceding year. It was the wish of Mr Rowan 
to be defended by United Irishmen. But Messrs Emmet and Butler 


thought it might seem presuming for junior counsel to take the lead 
iu such a case. He yielded to the urgency of Mrs Rowan and other 
friends, and engaged Mr Curran. In the meantime his mother died, 
and he went for a time to England to settle her affairs. Great delays 
occurred in the prosecution of the trials. We have not space to 
detail them, and the more so as they would lead to rather tedious 
expositions as to the causes, which were mistaken by Mr Rowan, 
whose ear was abused by the calumnies propagated by his party. 

At last the trial came on: it had been awaited with breathless 
interest by his friends and by the lower classes. The celebrated 
speech made by Mr Curran on the occasion has been already noticed 
in this volume. A verdict of guilty was brought in, and Mr Rowan 
was sent to the new prison to await his sentence. Mr Rowan addressed 
the court on this occasion; and though he vindicated his own inten- 
tions with perfect truth, he still avowed enough to justify the verdict, 
by strong implication. It has been denied that he was the distributor 
of the seditious libel at the time alleged; Mr Rowan did not himself 
deny it he distinctly justified the sentiments it expressed, and that 
in language which implied his being a party to its distribution, (see 
Autobiography of A. H. Rowan, p. 197). He was sentenced to a fine 
of 500, and two years' imprisonment; and to give securities, under 
heavy bail, for seven years. 

During his imprisonment, Mr Rowan's deportment and style of 
living were characteristic of the peculiar moral temper of his mind; 
at the same time manifesting the generosity of his disposition, and his 
strong tendencies to the love of popularity. His means were liberal, 
and he kept a frugal table for himself, yet such i\s to enable him to 
dispense freely to the wants of his poorer fellow-prisoners. When he 
had been about three months in prison, Mr Jackson, of whose trial and 
death we have already related the circumstances [Life of Curran^ 
was introduced to him, together with Cockaine, the fatal satellite of 
his mission. He also about the same period received from Mr Tone 
his well-known " Statement of the situation of Ireland," written for 
the information of the French Directory. Of this paper Mr Rowan 
made two copies, of which he gave one to Mr Jackson to convey to 
France. This, Cockaine put under a cover directed to Hamburgh, and 
dropped into the post-office. The whole matter had been precon- 
certed with Mr Pitt Cockaine was immediately seized, and taken 
before the privy council; and Mr Jackson was arrested, and sent to 

The same evening Cockaine came to Mr Rowan, and gave him an 
account of all that had passed; but such as it is hard to say how far it 
may have been true or false. At all events, he so far alarmed Mr 
Rowan, that he considered his life in danger, and determined to 
escape. This he effected by a stratagem which would be tedious to 
relate at length, and which we believe Mr Rowan would not have 
adopted unless under a sense of very urgent necessity. Having in- 
duced the uuder-jailer to accompany him to his own house in Do- 
minic street, he contrived to retire for a moment into a back room, 
where he first disguised himself, by dressing himself in the clothes of| 
LIs herd, who fortunately had come to town that day; he then let! 


himself down by a rope from the window, and proceeded to the head 
of Sackville street, where, after some delay, he was met by his friend 
Mr Dowling, according to appointment, with horses. They then 
proceeded to the sea-side, to a Mr Sweetman's, near Baldoyle, where 
they were kindly received. 

The next morning Mr Sweetman set out at daybreak for Rush, to 
endeavour to engage a passage for Mr Rowan in one of the smuggling- 
boats, and found the place in great confusion, as a military party 
was already there, making an active search for Mr Rowan in all the 
neighbouring houses, under the guidance of Mr Dowel, the under-jailer. 
In the course of the day, proclamations appeared, offering 1000 from 
government, '500 from the city, and other sums from the jailers, 
for his apprehension. Thus disappointed in this quarter, it was 
proposed to Mr Rowan, to make his escape in a small fishing wherry 
belonging to Mr Sweetman, to which he consented. Two brothers, 
of the name of Sheridan, were found to navigate this little craft, and 
they were to find a third person to assist. They embarked, and 
after many slight casualties, among which was a storm and a fleet of 
merchantmen, with their convoy, they reached the coast of France in 
safety. He divided his purse among the sailors, and bade them make 
for home ; but, as he learned, they were pursued and taken. We can- 
not enter into the lesser details, for which we must refer to the 
autobiography from which this account is taken. Mr Rowan was 
treated with harshness and suspicion by the first official persons with 
whom he came in contact. He was for a considerable time imprisoned 
in Brest, and exposed to unexpected insults and privations. At last, 
however, by the intervention of circumstances, his name was recognized 
by the inspector of jails, who, by an application to the Comitede Salut 
Publique, had him liberated, and sent to Paris. 

In Paris he had an interview with Robespierre. He was at the 
same time seized with a severe fever. He soon became disgusted and 
shocked by the horrible scenes then acting there. He witnessed the 
execution of 200 persons, and, at the distance of some hundred paces, 
found himself standing in a lake of human blood. He resolved to go 
to America; obtained passports for the purpose, and sailed in a 
wherry down the Seine. His journey was impeded and rendered 
extremely dangerous by the officious blood-thirstiness of the in- 
habitants of different places he had to pass; and it was with some 
difficulty, and after many interruptions and dangers, that he reached 

At last he engaged a passage to America, and embarked. His 
voyage was not without its danger. One of these was an incident for 
which he was fortunately prepared; for, seeing the likelihood of 
detection by some British cruiser, it had been agreed between him- 
self and the captain, who made up some bills of lading for him in his 
assumed name of Thomson, that he might appear as an American 
merchant on his return home. When they had been two days at sea, 
their vessel was brought-to by the Melampus, commanded by Sir J. 
Borlase Warren, who had been acquainted with Mr Rowan in Cam- 
bridge. An officer was sent on board, who examined the ship's papers, 
and then interrogated Mr Rowan pretty closely. Mr Rowan retired 

. VOL. vi. c 


as soon as he was allowed, to avoid the risk of being observed by the 
British commander. 

The voyage was tedious, and crossed by contrary winds ; and Mr 
Rowan amused its tedious monotony by writing a journal for his 
wife. Among numerous entries of incident or reflection, there occurs 
one which ought not to be omitted. " I own to you candidly, when it 
is of no avail, that my ideas of reform, and of another word which 
begins with the same letter [Republicanism] are very much altered by 
living for twelve months in France ; and that I never wish to see one 
or the other procured by force. I have seen one faction rising over 
another, and overturning it; each of them in their turn making a 
stalking-horse of the supreme power of the people, to cover public and 
private massacre and plunder ; while every man of virtue and humanity 
shuddered, and skulked away in a disgraceful silence." 

At last America was reached, and landing, Mr Rowan remained for 
a short time at a boarding-house in Philadelphia, from which he soon 
proceeded to Wilmington, about thirty miles from that city, and in the 
state of Delaware. 

During the few years of his continuance in America, there occurred 
little to prolong our narrative. He was supplied with money by 
frequent remittances from his wife, whose superior good sense and 
steady affection appear conspicuously through his entire narrative. 
He made two several efforts to embark in trade; but displayed more 
of the ardour and strenuous temper of his mind, than of the caution 
and calculating prudence so essential to secure profit, or even guard 
against loss, in any branch of business. His indifference to privations; 
his proud humility, which spurned the aristocratic distinctions to which 
he had been reared; his readiness to submit to hard labours and trying 
losses; all indicate, in no unfavourable light, the bold and strong out- 
line of the heroic temper of old romance. He suffered much from the 
separation from his wife, but would not urge her coming out to join 
him, from the recollection of the sufferings of his own voyage. The 
incidents of Mr Rowan's life in America have considerable interest, 
which cannot be retained in an abridgment. We therefore omit 

During" the greater part of this interval, occasional efforts were in 
progress to obtain permission for Mr Rowan to come home. Lor.l 
Clare exerted a kindly influence in his favour, and expressed his 
willingness to assist in obtaining his pardon : by the exertion of his 
authority, he also prevented Mr Rowan's property from passing out of 
the hands of his family on his outlawry. He now exerted himself to 
obtain his pardon. In this he met obstacles from the opposition of 
the English chancellor, but was countenanced by lord Castlereagb. 
A friend of Mr Rowan (of opposed politics,) sent him out the draft 
of a petition, which he advised him to transmit to government; but this 
he declined, as it contained admissions and engagements which he 
could not make consistently with his own opinions. Mrs Rowan, 
however, urged her suit that he might be permitted to return to 
Europe. Of this the following extract will sufficiently state the main 
particulars. " Mr Griffith warmly seconded her efforts, by writing to 
the lord chancellor, and calling on him repeatedly to urge her suii. 


To the chancellor's honour be it recorded, that he always evinced a 
cordial sympathy in the sufferings and deprivations of Mrs Rowan and 
her family; that he g-ave her the most judicious advice as to the 
management of her affairs, and suggested such a course of conduct to 
Mr Rowan, as led ultimately to the accomplishment of her wishes. 
At length, in September, 1799, she was gratified by the receipt of the 
following letter from lord Castlereagh, with whom Mr Rowan's father 
was well acquainted: "Madam, my lord lieutenant having, by desire of 
the lord chancellor, stated to his grace the duke of Portland, that Mr 
H. Rowan was anxious to proceed to Denmark from America, but 
that he was afraid he might be apprehended in his passage by one of 
his majesty's cruisers; I am directed to acquaint you, that, in conse- 
quence of the favourable report made by the lord chancellor of Mr 
Rowan's conduct since he resided in America, he will be secured (as 
far as his majesty's government is concerned,) in the refuge which 
may be granted him in Denmark or elsewhere, as long as he continues 
to demean himself in such a manner as not to give offence," &c. &c. 

In consequence of the arrangements thus made, Mr Rowan had in 
1800 the happiness to meet his family in Altona, where he took a 

In July, 1802, Mr Rowan transmitted to the king a petition, which, 
as it gives a just view of the mind and sentiments of the writer, we 


" THE humane protection afforded under your majesty's 
government to your petitioner's wife and family, while crimes were 
imputed to him which might have rendered him liable to the severest 
penalties of the law, and he had taken refuge among your majesty's 
enemies, has made an indelible impression on his mind. He could not 
avoid comparing, with the strongest feelings of gratitude, the situa- 
tion of his dearest connexions with the forlorn state which the families 
of emigrants experienced in the country to which he had fled. Under 
these sensations, in the year 1795 your petitioner withdrew himself 
from France, and retired to America, being determined to avoid even 
the imputation of being instrumental in disturbing the tranquillity of 
his own country. During above five years' residence in the United 
States your petitioner resisted all inducements to a contrary conduct, 
and remained there quiet and retired, until your majesty, extending 
your royal benevolence, was graciously pleased to permit his return to 
Europe, to rejoin his wife and family. Impressed with the most 
unfeigned attachment to your majesty's government, in gratitude for 
those favours ; conscious of the excellence of the British constitution. 
in which your p^itioner sees, with heartfelt satisfaction, his native 
country participating, under the late happy union effected by your 
majesty's paternal wisdom and affection; your petitioner approaches 
your majesty's throne at this auspicious moment, praying that your 
majesty will extend your royal clemency," &c. &c. 

In the meantime, lord Clare, to whose influence Mr Rowan's friends 

mainly trusted, died, before the matter could be pressed with much 

( confidence; and Mr Griffith, having gone over to London, mtt 


with some discouragement from Mr Pelham. Some further corres- 
pondence followed, in which Mr Rowan himself took part. At last 
the question was discussed in the cabinet, with a favourable result; and 
his pardon was resolved on. And in the meantime, arrangements 
were made to permit his coming to England, which were communi- 
cated by Mr Steele and lord Castlereagh, from each of whom he 
received letters, which marked an active and friendly attention to his 

The king's warrant for his pardon and the regrant of his property, 
contained a stipulation to prevent his going to Ireland. As it was the 
opinion of lawyers that this pardon was informal, and that it should 
be passed under the great seal of Ireland; that his application should 
have been in the first instance made to the lord lieutenant ; and that the 
pardon only secured his liberty in England; it was a great object to 
go over in order to plead his pardon, and have his outlawry reversed 
in the Irish courts. In obtaining this permission, he failed during the 
Addington administration; but on the change, he applied to lord 
Castlereagh, who showed every disposition to effect his wishes. The 
delays were productive of advantage; for in the interim he found 
interest to have the form of the pardon changed, and was permitted to 
reside in Ireland. 

He went over to Ireland, and went through the proceedings neces- 
sary for the reversal of his outlawry. This being done by the usual 
forms, he was put to plead, on the original indictment for high treason: 
he pleaded the king's pardon ; and this being allowed, he was discharged. 
These forms were concluded in a manner highly honourable to Mr 
Rowan, who, in a brief and eloquent address, expressed his sense of 
the clemency which had throughout been extended to himself and his 
family ; and concluding, " Were I to be insensible of that clemency, 
I should indeed be an unworthy man. All are liable to error. The 
consequences have taught me deeply to regret the violences I then 
pursued. Under the circumstances in which I stand, were I to ex- 
press all I feel on this subject, it might be attributed to base and 
unworthy motives," &c. 

After this, Mr Rowan in a few days returned to London. He was 
warmly Congratulated, and his political opponents were not backward 
in the cordial testimony of their satisfaction. 

The remainder of his life does not belong to history; it was passed 
in the discharge of his duties as a kind and beneficent landlord, and 
in cultivating the relations of private and domestic life. He lived to 
the extremest date ordinarily assigned to man ; and though his course 
was prosperous in the main, he had the affliction to survive his estimable 
wife, and his good and brave son, captain Gawin William Rowan 
Hamilton, who rose to the high rank he held in the British navy by 
courage and conduct. This gentleman distinguished himself in several 
actions and commands. In 1832 he resigned the command of the 
Druid, in consequence of delicate health. He only lived from this date 
two years, and died at his father's residence in August 1834, of water 
in the chest, leaving a son of sixteen to represent his father's family. 

Mr Rowan died in 1834: his remains were placed in a vault in St 
Mary's church. 


Sir ILaurince 3Pargong t ?ari of 

BORN, 1758. - DIED, 1841. 

WE have already had occasion to notice the origin of the family of 
Parsons in Ireland. William Parsons, lord justice of Ireland in the 
reign of Queen Elizabeth, died, leaving a son, through whom his 
estates were transmitted to his posterity for four succeeding genera- 
tions. His grandson was elevated to the peerage, as baron Oxman- 
town and viscount Rosse. The next descendant was advanced to the 
earldom; but the next, Richard, second earl of Rosse, died without 
issue, when all the honours expired, and the representation of the 
family passed into another branch. 

Laurence Parsons, the brother of the lord justice, was joined with 
him as supervisor of the crown lands in Ireland. He had been 
appointed attorney-general for Munster, and was also made one of 
the barons of the exchequer. The third successor in descent from 
this gentleman, Laurence of Birr Castle, was made a baronet: the 
fourth in descent from him, or the third baronet, had two 
sons, William, the elder, who succeeded as fourth baronet, and 
Laurence, who was elevated to the peerage in 1792, under the titles 
of baron Oxmantown. and afterwards viscount Oxmantown and earl 
of Rosse; the first and last of which titles were limited in reversion 
to the son of his elder brother, William, who had become the repre- 
sentative of the elder branch in 1764, by the death of the last direct 
representative. The person to whom we have thus traced down was 
the eldest son of Sir William, fourth baronet, and elder brother to 
the earl. He was born in 1758, and succeeded to the baronetcv in 

In the lifetime of his uncle he took an active part in politics. 
He was very much distinguished for his high independence, his 
firmness and temperance in opposition, and a style of eloquence of 
the best quality, in which respect he was little, if anything, inferior 
to the most eminent public speakers of his day. His style was not, 
however, of that peculiar kind which distinguished the popular 
orators of his country, nor did he carry his popular opinions to 
that extreme which was necessary to obtain the applause of the 
multitude in that period, when nothing short of extravagance could 
satisfy the excited ear of a public inebriated with the lees of Ameri- 
can and French democracy. Yet it may confidently be affirmed, that 
he was not inferior to any other orator of the Irish parliament, if 
regard be had to the standard qualities of clear reason, and an easy, 
unencumbered, and forcible style. Some of the most respected men of 
that day have been much indebted to the favour of the public. 
The support of popular views has always conferred a species of dis- 
tinction, which has been, in some measure, the result of its effects on 
the public mind; and in some, of the false taste which once prevailed. 
Something also is, in strictness, to be allowed for the facility of appeals 
to vulgar passions and of amplifying on vulgar prejudices. Sir Laurence 
derived aid or reputation from none of these tinsel qualifications. He 


neither adhered to corrupt administrations, nor flattered the delu- 
sions of a rude and ignorant populace, nor lent himself to the turbu- 
lent and ambitious captiousness of shallow demagogues. Of the 
public men of his day in Ireland, not one approached nearer to the 
wisdom of the statesman, in either party; certainly in his own, none 
so near. Whether he was right or not in his opposition to the 
relief bill in 1792, one thing is certain, he clearly and forcibly, in 
one of the ablest addresses which we recollect to have read, pre- 
dicted its remote effects. He did not fear any evil from the relaxation 
of the penal enactments, so far as the gentry and nobility of the church 
of Rome were directly the subject; but he saw that the Irish 
peasantry were, on every account, then unfit to be trusted with power. 
He saw that it would have simply the effect to hand over so much 
power to the demagogues and to the papal cabinet. This he saw in 
the exceeding ignorance of the populace, and their entire subser- 
viency to those who flattered their passions or governed their super- 
stitions. He clearly perceived the infatuation of attributing any 
weight to the idea of conciliation a notion not merely absurd from 
the mistake it involves, but the moral assumption of injustice it so 
strongly implies in principle. Conciliation is so much the cant of 
shallow policy, that it is worth a few remarks. It is a principle 
highly applicable only in the transactions of private life, and with 
regard to individuals. In such cases it is an appeal to affections and 
sentiments, to gratitude, or to some such sense of personal obliga- 
tion. Considering men, however, in their aggregate state, such sen- 
timents have but a slight and transitory hold; they can be awakened 
in the collected multitude by the sympathetic excitements to which 
crowds are subject. But multitudes acquire all their deliberate sen- 
timents by separate processes, and in their component individuals. The 
individual acknowledges, in his sober moments, but a small part of the 
obligation of his country. Much of it he cannot comprehend: little of 
it affects himself, and that little, remotely. The public impression, 
however strong, is but an ebullition, and, supposing it the deepest, 
:uld quickly subside : its permanent effect would be an evanescent 
.entity. So far is one, and but one, part of a complex error: so far 
only reasonable question as to conciliation should be, will those 
who govern the will of the multitude be contented, and allow the 
people to be quiet. For, in unenlightened times and nations, the most 
grateful multitude will change at the first breath of the trumpet 
of discontent. Another fact should not be wholly disregarded, that 
concessions have ever been, and will ever be (and not quite untruly), 
attributed to fear that thus they offer no reason for gratitude, and 
much reason for increased exaction. It was this mistake that mainly 
overturned the Roman empire. But the doctrine, as we have said, 
implies gross wrong: why should that which justice demands be 
granted from the cowardly and unphilosophic principle of concilia- 
tion? And surely this exceedingly obvious principle must itself be 
too quickly suggested not to neutralise the boon surely it must ever 
be understood that it is something that demands no thanks, but may 
call for contempt. We would gladly blot out the frivolous word that 
implies concession from fear, or denial from injustice, for ever from 


the doctrines of statesmen. Such was the sense of Sir Laurence 
Parsons: he bade the house of commons grant the projected im- 
munities, if they thought them matter of right; but he warned them 
as to what the consequences would surely be. He told them that 
the power thus given would be used, without any reserve but that 
of a cautious policy, to attain an ascendency fatal to the country 
and constitution. We should have made some extracts from this 
speech, by far the ablest of those delivered in the Irish Parliament, 
but that any specimen would do it wrong. 

We find no very distinct records of his career, but the imperfect 
reports of his speeches in the Irish parliament. He was first mem- 
ber for the University, and afterwards for the King's County, of 
which he retained the representation, until the death of his uncle, 
in 1807. 

When the question of the legislative union between England and 
Ireland was brought forward in the Irish parliament, he took the 
lead in opposition. It was twice debated in 1799? when the measure 
was rejected; and in 1800, when it was successfully introduced. On 
this latter occasion, Sir Laurence anticipated the intentions of the 
government, and introduced the subject in opposition to the address. 
He thus brought on a spirited and warm debate, the same in which 
Mr Grattan made his celebrated speech on that occasion. 

Sir Laurence accused the minister of using corrupt means to effect 
his purpose ; of "prostituting the prerogative of the crown, by appoint- 
ing members to places, so as to pack parliament." He dwelt on the 
impropriety of bringing on the measure at a time of public disorder 
and alarm, when the country was covered with armies and terrified 
by martial law; and insisted that the project ought to be postponed 
to peaceful times, when the mind of the country should be free for 
determination; and on this point dexterously retorted his own reason- 
ings, against reform in time of war, upon the British minister. 

He dwelt on the probable consequence, that the 100 Irish members 
would become merged in the 600 members of the United Parliament 
so that, virtually, there would be no representation for Ireland. He 
dwelt on the good actually done by the Irish parliament. 

He observed with regret the disposition in Irishmen to look up to 
England, and down on their own country, as the means of encouraging 
the assaults of the British minister. 

With far more reason, Sir Laurence urged the mischiefs which 
were likely to be produced by the increase of absenteeism consequent 
on such a measure. He ended by moving an amendment upon the 
address. He was replied to by lord Castlereagh, and supported by 
lord Cole, Mr John Claudius Beresford, Right Hon. G. Ogle, and 
Mr Grattan. 

We do not further enter upon the history of this debate, as the 
topic must recur in other memoirs. 

In 1 787 Sir Laurence was married to Miss Lloyd of Gloster, in 
the King's County. In 1802 he had the misfortune to lose a son, 
whom he commemorates in affecting terms in a work published many 
years after. 

In 1807 he succeeded to the earldom of Rosse. It is now several 


years since we recollect to have read with much pleasure a work 
written by him, having reference to the evidences of revealed religion. 
Not happening to possess the book, we cannot, at this moment, recall 
more precisely its purport. But we have a very clear recollection of 
the impression which its statements then made on us and on others, 
of eloquence, right intent, and an effective and agreeable style, com- 
bined with the evidences of studies which are the best comfort, orna- 
ment, and occupation of the leisure, and of the declining years of 
those who have the reputation and ability to be the leading men of 
their time. 

We have also to mention a small volume, of the highest merit and 
ability, written by his lordship in the earlier period of his life, on the 
bequest of Henry Flood, in which he enforces with rare ability the 
importance of Irish antiquities. 

The earl died in 1841. 

George, Count Be Bro&ne* 

DIED, 1792. 

THIS eminent soldier was an Irish officer in the Russian service, who 
conducted himself so nobly on several occasions, that he obtained the 
government of Livonia, and was made a count of the empire. After 
governing Livonia for thirty years, his resignation was refused by the 
empress Catharine II., who answered, "Death alone shall part us." 
He was an immediate descendant from the Brownes of Moyne, in the 
county of Mayo. 

BORN A. D. 1763. - DIED A. D. 1798. 

LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD was the fifth son of James, the twentieth 
earl of Kildare, afterwards first duke of Leinster. His mother was 
daughter o f the second duke of Richmond. After his father's death, the 
duchess was again married to Mr William Ogilvie, a gentleman of an- 
cient and respectable Scottish descent. Lord Edward, being at the time 
of this marriage very young, thus fell under the care of his stepfather, 
who treated him with great affection and tenderness, and brought him 
up with a view to the military profession. 

Concerning the particulars of his early education, there is nothing 
of any importance to mention. Though eminently gifted with some 
intellectual endowments of a very high order, they were little developed 
by education. It is, however, evident that he was brought up in virtue 
and religion ; and that his strong natural affections were cultivated in 
n very eminent degree. In such sense as the terms can be applied to 
human creatures, and to an extent in which they can be predicated of 
few, this amiable but hapless youn^ 1 nobleman was pure and overflow- 
ing with goodness; he was possessed of taste, imagination, and enthu- 


siasm; but his habits of observation were more subservient to these 
qualities than to reflection or common sense ; and when his enthusiasm, 
passions, and even his virtues, came into the sphere of a false but 
high-sounding philosophy, his noble but unguarded spirit became 
entangled in the illusions, and fell a victim to the crime and folly of 
darker spirits. So sweet and refined, so kindly and humane, appear all 
his notions, and so sad and fatal was the course of error into which he 
was led astray, that even the widely destructive and desolating prin- 
ciples to which he fell a martyr are lost sight of for a moment in the 
pain of such a fall, and the sad fate of such a spirit. 

In his eighteenth year, lord Edward obtained a lieutenancy in the 
96th regiment of infantry. From this he exchanged into the 19th, 
with which he sailed for America. We shall not enter on the history 
of this campaign ; but must not omit the highly honourable testimony 
of Sir John Doyle: " I never knew so loveable a person; and every 
man in the army, from the general to the drummer, would cheer the 

In 1783 he returned home: his brother sent him into the Irish parlia- 
ment, in the proceedings of which his name hardly happens to occur. 
With his brother, and the party to which his family had uniformly 
belonged, he was always on the side of opposition. 

But the taste for military life, and a native love of adventure, seems 
to have had possession of his breast ; the dull routines of civil life 
wearied his romantic and buoyant temper; he could not find interest 
in political proceedings, which exercised none of his intellectual powers 
or moral passions; his field was the ocean and the unknown land; and 
it may be easily felt how he must have burned for activity. He gave 
himself for a time to the study of his profession; visited Spain; and 
finally joined his regiment in Nova Scotia. 

He had formed more than one attachment, and met with an early 
disappointment: it appears that the young lady's family had objected 
to him on the score of fortune. The origin of his republican notions 
is attributed by his biographer to this. The links of such a process are 
obvious enough; indeed it is easy to perceive, that when the republican 
mania was going, his was not the mind to repel it: it cannot, however, 
escape attention, that, in characters of an ardent and active temper, such 
an incident, must have had a powerful influence, and may have helped 
for a time to govern and modify his thoughts ; and we may at least well 
conceive the stirring campaign, or the adventurous voyage, to have been 
the chosen resources against the fret and impatience of disappoint- 

Under these circumstances, the many strong, and the more numer- 
ous evanescent ties by which human feelings are bound to society, 
may well be conceived to have fallen loose from lord Edward, when 
he found himself under the fascination of nature in new, wild, 
and adventurous scenes, among the boundless forests and prairies 
of the new world. Every one who is endowed with a spark of the 
imaginative part of our intellectual nature, and who has ever felt the 
impulses proceeding from the overflow of youthful life, will readily 
seize the inspiriting effect of such situations. They are common to 
many; but in this particular instance they constituted and for ever 


modified tlie character of the man. It was a combination of incidents 
and influences specially adapted to a nature, which, to the last year of his 
life, was remarkable for its freshness and youthful ness of spirit. To such 
a temper there must have been something highly congenial in scenes at- 
tractive to every nature ; it was, if we maybe permitted to use a bold but 
not unsuitable figure it was es a recommencementof the wonder and ad- 


miration of his infant years. Here seemed the reality of nature pure 
uuincumbered with the restraints free from the low desires unfet- 
tered by the dull usages undisturbed by the cankering disappointment 
and anxieties uncoutamiuated by the vices of social life. Here the 
charm of independence, and of the primitive simplicity of savage life, 
first caught hold of a mind constituted for their reception. There was 
no complex system of relations with social life, such as in the course of a 
few years arises from man's commercial or civil character, and from the 
thirst for gain or power, to counteract these influences: nor were the 
reason, the analyzing and comparing powers, brought strongly to bear on 
them by any previous discipline, either from experience or study. Lord 
Edward caught the flame of enthusiasm from the associations of this 
interval of his life. He did not, as some in whom the speculative 
faculties were uppermost have done, build wild theories inconsistent 
with social life ; but he became fitted for their reception. If we are 
asked, upon what evidence we would assign such workings to the influ- 
ence of the circumstances here implied, we answer, that we would, if 
necessary, rest on the testimony of his letters, of which many have been 
published by Mr Moore. We have dwelt at so much length on the 
impression which their perusal has made, because it is not in our power 
to give them as extracts. They indicate in effect, all that we have 
attempted to place before the reader in the form of inference. The 
poetic powers of lord Edward, though, we presume, quite uncultivated, 
seem to have been of a very high order; and though his talented bio- 
grapher has, in some instances, noticed the effect of this, we think that 
he does not sufficiently allow for the fact. We have often felt that 
the poetry which is wrought into some structure of language, is far in- 
ferior to the internal poetry of thought, feeling, and action, which con- 
stitutes a great part of the poet's existence. A man may, by a combina- 
tion of but ordinary faculties, acquire the skill of dressing out a very 
scanty moc K 2um of fancy into effective verse: the artificesof composition 
;<re themselves a science, and have a charm. But there is a deep, in- 
born, and seemingly inexhaustible lightspring of bright creations of 
imagination, fancy, or feeling, in the genuine poet, that infuses its sun- 
shine through every particle of the mind its sunshine or its gloom, 
and lights up or overshadows the existence of the man, though he may 
never have turned a stanza, or dallied with the fetters of rhyme. In a 
word, we speak not of a paltry art, but of a high and powerful state 
of soul an influence which we can best describe in the language of an 
Irish poet, with whom, we trust, the reader is acquainted: 

" llast thou beheld the obedient march of \vaves, 
The appointed flow, the regulated fall, 
The rise and lapse alternate? Even r.* 
Shall thev rebel against the silent maid 


Who walks in joy among the company 

Of Stars, and smiles enchantment on the deep, 

As poet struggle with the awful power 

That wakes the slumbering spirit into song, 

Or man forbid the soul to undulate 

Through all its depths, what time the breath of heaven 

Waves o'er the darkness." ANSTER. 

Some more special notion must, however., be desired, of the influ- 
ences of which we speak, on lord Edward. In a letter to his mother, 
he writes " You may guess how eager I am to try if I like the woods 
as well in winter as in summer. I believe I shall never again be pre- 
vailed on to live in a house." Speaking in the same letter of an ex- 
cursion, he goes on" I cannot describe all the feelings one has in 
these excursions, when one wakens, perhaps, in the middle of the night, 
in a fine open forest all your companions snoring about you the 
moon shining through the trees the burning of the fire in short 
everything strikes you." 

It may be conceived how deeply such a spirit must have been cap- 
tivated by the attractions of savage life ; and so it was. He frequently 
expressed his delight at the simplicity of their modes of life, and at 
their primitive equality. He entered with ardour into their forest 
pursuits of g'ame, and was even adopted into one of their tribes. In 
one of his letters, he says " The equality of everybody, and their man- 
ner of life, I like very much," &c. ; and he frequently dwells with plea- 
sure on the same thought. Thus, in brief, was his nature moulded. 
That he thus arrived at the actual formation of any of those anti-social 
theories which have been worked out by the shallow ingenuity of half- 
crazed philosophy, we should not be inclined to admit. But it must be 
remembered, that of these theories, some are illusions native to the mind, 
the triteness of which has been put out of sight by the eloquence or 
ingenuity of their advocates. That such notions should offer them- 
selves very strongly under the precise peculiar circumstances, we 
would look upon as a matter of course : the paradox of Rousseau is 
conjured up in a different form by Shakspeare in the forest of Arden- 
nes ; under every approach to similarity of circumstance, the same 
vision will arise; it is the deepest aspiration of old human nature. 
With these remarks we shall quote Mr Moore, who says " The conclu- 
sions drawn by lord Edward in favour of savage life, from the premises, 
thus half-truly, half- fancifully drawn by him, much of the colouring 
which he gave to the picture being itself borrowed from civilization, 
had already, it is well known, been arrived at, through all the mazes of 
inge e Jous reasoning by Rousseau; and it is not a little curious to 
observe how the very same paradox which the philosopher adopted in 
the- spirit of defiance and vanity, a heart overflowing with affection 
and disappointment, conducted the young lover." For the causes here 
assigned, we have made some allowance not much. We think that Mr 
Moore overrates their effect, as we suspect he also does their intensity 
and duration. We do not think that lord Edward was one to be so 
permanently affected at that period of his life by the tender passion, 
or that the sentiment of disappointment could be retained and carried 
into the forests of America by a heart so overflowing with youthful 
and all its varied and buoyant emotions. Love, and all its gay 


and sad changes of romance, are certainly dear to the young breast ; 
when not in actual operation, they are the favourite playthings of 
sentiment, and so far we can imagine the romantic wanderer to have 
courted the influence of such melancholy dreams; but it requires no 
casual state of emotion to suggest and recommend the fascinating 
dream of savage life. There never was a poet (unless Mr Moore 
claims to be an exception,) who has not dreamed it: nor to those 
who have the good fortune to be altogether exempt from such wild 
imaginings, will this tendency be quite unintelligible. It is, in fact, the 
intuitive impulse of the natural man the conception suggested by all 
the passions, but modified by the acquired tendencies of civilization ; 
and, looking at Rousseau, he displays, indeed, one of the many curious 
examples of what has often occurred in philosophy the employment 
of much subtilty in coming round by a circuitous way on common and 
superficial illusions. 

In lord Edward's mind, tastes, enjoyments, and natural instincts, 
keenly called forth and imparted all that Rousseau's philosophy halluci- 
nated. There was, meantime, preparing in Europe a social phase of 
moral and intellectual delirium; a derangement of the structure of 
civilization, which bore a most unhappy affinity to the speculations of 
the hunter of the American woods. 

Before we follow lord Edward into Europe, w r e must not neglect to 
observe, that, among the charms of his most delightful letters, among 
the most interesting we ever remember to have read, one principal 
attraction is the beautiful sentiment of filial piety that is diffused 
through them. The image of his mother seems ever present to his 
thoughts, and is called up by every scene that gives him pain or plea- 
sure. Whenever he is animated with the noble emotions which every 
situation from the heart of savage nature to the thronged military 
rock of Gibraltar was sure to awaken, the overflow of filial love 
escapes in some exclamation of " fond endearment," that cannot be 
read without a starting tear. One of those effusions we extract for 
the picture it gives, and the incidental sketch of home life: " I long 
for a little walk, with you leaning on me or to have a long walk with 
you, sitting on some pretty spot, of a fine day, with your long cane in 
your hand, looking at some little weed at your feet, and looking down, 
talking all the time:' 

But we have loitered beyond our space in this portion of his life 
partly, indeed, because justice requires that his character should be 
set in the true light, as an amiable enthusiast, whose virtues were 
those of a fine mind and lofty nature, and whose faults were the ( result 
of virtues turned astray. ^ 

On his return to Europe, lord Edward was introduced to Mr\^itt. 
Mr Pitt must have quickly seen that he was not likely to find in him 
a very important or very certain accession to his strength; and London 
was, at the time, for one so predisposed, as dangerous as Paris. In 
the society of Fox and Sheridan, Mr Moore represents him as drawing 
new and deep draughts of the philosophy of republicanism. In these 
gentlemen ' k he found those political principles to which he now, for 
the first time, gave any serious attention, recommended at once to his 
imagination, bv all the splendid sanctions with \v' 


genius, wit, eloquence, and the most refined good fellowship, could 
invest them." 

From London he went to Paris, in the autumn of 1792. It was a 
time when the great movement of the revolution had fully set in, 
and already given sufficient indications for the mind of Burke of what 
it was likely to grow to. The unhappy Louis was only not yet mur- 
dered the south was filled with massacre the empire of pikes had 
been proclaimed and established the goddess of reason was worship- 
ped and the Jacobins were reaching their dreadful ascendancy: all 
\vas menace and murder; but they were wreathed with flowers, 
marched to music, and revelled in the strains of love and peace 
liberty, equality, and the regeneration of mankind. The theory which 
the woods of America had conceived, which the eloquence of Fox 
had ushered into birth, the theatrical prestige of French taste dis- 
played in its specious proportions. The enthusiastic stranger failed 
to be impressed with the tiger features, or the sparkle of the assas- 
sin's knife beneath the tragi-comic robe, or the blood that dropped 
from its folds; he heard but the philosophy of the forest the Arca- 
dian vision was native to his heart; their cant was as the echo of the 
free woods. The splendid and imposing exhibitions, which, in a more 
advanced stage, " drew iron tears" from the bucaniering sympathy 
of Mr Tone, gave also a strong military impulse to a higher heart. 

But the influence of these new impressions was heightened by a 
stronger and purer influence. He became acquainted with a young 
lady whose birth is yet involved in some degree of mystery, though she 
was understood, and it has since been pronounced truly, to be the 
daughter of the duke of Orleans and Madame de Genlis. With this 
lady he fell in love, was accepted, and married. It is to be presumed 
that the daughter of Egalite was not unversed in the philosophy of 
the revolutionary salons, and that the expansive spirit of latitudinarian 
benevolence became exalted and charmed by that purer passion 
which throws its own peculiar grace on everything. Whatever be 
the cause of the change (which, it must be confessed, was not much), 
his lordship grew thoroughly, and, it must be said, absurdly im- 
bued with the mania of liberalism. W T e use a modern word; for it 
is now but a word for the same disease in another form: the acute 
disorder has taken a slower form and is become chronic. The funda- 
mental maxims which are now occasionally adverted to, cautiously, and 
remotely, and timorously inferred from, by coolheaded Englishmen, 
who would not dare to follow them out to their consequences, were 
then sincerely and madly embraced, and carried to their legitimate 
(we cannot say lawful) consequences. We find lord Edward, whose 
heart and imagination absorbed the whole man, writing as follows: 
" In the coffee-houses and playhouses, every man calls the other 
comrade, frere, and with a stranger he immediately begins: " Oh, 
nous sommes tous freres, tous hommes, nos victoires sont pour 
>ous, pour tout le monde." Such language was the spell which called 
up, and seemed to imbody in flesh and blood the sublime and lofty 
genius of the American prairie. It won upon his imagination and 
his affections, and lured him, by his very goodness and benevolence, 
from the path of honour and of safety. 


On a fatal day, at a public dinner given by the English in Paris, 
in honour of the French victories, lord Edward proclaimed himself 
a convert to the doctrine contained in the foregoing pithy descrip- 
tion, flung off his allegiance, and his civil and military rank, and 
adopted the title of "le Citoyen Edward Fitzgerald." His dismissal 
from the king's service followed as a matter of course. Inquiry was 
considerately spared it was unnecessary, and could only serve to throw 
a stain. The hope was entertained that his dream would have a 
waking, and that he might quietly fall back into the path of sobriety. 
Mr Gordon, the only historian of this period of Irish history, has 
hazarded some strictures on the treatment of that offence; in answer 
to which it will be enough to observe, that though it cannot be de- 
nied that lenity and conciliation may, as Mr Gordon assumes, have 
better effects as regards the individual offender ; yet, in all such cases, 
this must be but a secondary consideration. The English government 
was engaged in a strenuous combat with the disorganizing principles 
of the revolution; and were it not so, the conduct of lord Edward 
could not, under any circumstances, be passed over without preju- 
dice to the principle of discipline. It would, indeed, be an unfor- 
tunate handle for reproach, that would have been soon enough seized 
by those who have censured the opposite conduct; for by vvhat law of 
equal rights could lord Edward have been connived at, and any 
subaltern in the king's pay been permitted to breathe sedition? 

Lord Edward did not complain beyond the limits of the mania 
by which he was impelled, his common sense was too just: he was 
not subject to those vindictive affections which so commonly warp 
the sense of factious men. He was decided in his elected course 
by every sentiment that binds strong spirits: the habits of his 
mind ; all he had learned of political opinion ; the connexions 
he had formed; in brief, the air he breathed was the wildest 
republicanism the very negation and defiance of social institution. 
No strong grasp of reason restrained him from the too sincere 
adoption of those conclusions which he drew from the fallacies 
of profounder men. He was no more than Grattan would be, or 
even Fox, if they fairly followed out the principles so often implied, 
arid so often announced in their inflammatory speeches. By the 
severest l^gic it would, indeed, be an easy task to work out all his 
errors from the speeches of the soberest of the liberal school. But 
this is a truth to which we mean to revert. 

We have already traced the early rise and spread of republicanism 
in Ireland. It was widely diffused under various pretexts, and insin- 
uated into the popular spirit in the vehicle of some real and many pre- 
tended or spurious grievances; and was far advanced in its progress 
when lord Edward arrived in Ireland. 

His first return to his native land, and into the circle of his 
friends and connexions, may well be supposed to have been guarded 
by more wholesome associations and influences than those with which 
he had for some time been surrounded. His familv ties, and still 


more the tie he had so recently formed, strongly tended to direct him 
into the quiet courses and enjoyments of domestic life. During this 
time there may have been a considerable interval, in which he was 


becoming acquainted with the actual state of things in Ireland. 
The conspiracy of the United Irishmen, though very generally and 
even precisely apprehended in every circle, was yet not correctly 
identified in any of its secret springs. It spoke, as usual, an equi- 
vocal language, and was sanctioned by the countenance of some 
good, but not clear-sighted, men. 

In this interval he enjoyed all that home-felicity for which his 
nature was so pre-eminently constituted. His lively affections spread 
sunshine over his roof and around his path ; his simple tastes and 
spirit, free from the bonds of social convention, ensured and preserved 
for him those true and pure delights which nature only can bestow, 
and bestows on so few. The history of this interval is illustrated by 
letters chiefly written to his mother. They breathe all that is kindly 
and noble in our purest and highest conceptions of the human cha- 
racter. But such pictures of life cannot easily be preserved in the 
narrow space we have at our command the commonplaces of human 
happiness and misery convey little, however varied; and such repre- 
sentations can only be conveyed in the minute incidents which distin- 
guish one life from another. Though such happiness as we should 
have to describe may not be the lot of many, it is that state which is 
nearest to the heart, and is easiest conceived by all. From these 
letters we may select a passage or two. In October, 1794, his lord- 
ship was yet reposing over the concealed earthquake in which his 
happy home was to be shaken down for ever. He writes, in this 
month, to his "dearest mother" the confidential recipient of all his 
emotions: " The dear wife and baby go on as well as possible. I 
think I need not tell you how happy I am. . . . Dear mother, 
how you would love it [his infant! ' Nothing is so delightful as 
to see it in its dear mother's arms, with her sweet, pale, delicate face, 
and the pretty looks she gives it." One more little picture must 
stand here for many of the same character and force. Describing 
his little place in Kildare, he says " I think I shall pass a delightful 
winter there. I have got two fine large clamps of turf, which look 
both comfortable and pretty. I have paled in my little flower-garden 
before my hall door with a lath paling, like the cottage, and stuck it 
full of roses, sweetbriar, honeysuckles, and Spanish-broom. I have 
got all my beds ready for my flowers; so you may guess how I long 
to be down to plant them. The little fellow will be a great addition 
to the party. I think when I am down there with Pam. and child, 
of a blustering evening, with a good turf fire, and a pleasant book, 
coming in, after seeing my poultry put up, my garden settled, flower- 
beds and plants covered for fear of frost, the place looking comfor- 
table and taken care of, I shall be as happy as possible; and sure I 
am I shall regret nothing but not being nearer my dearest mother," &o. 
This letter was written in 1794. 

The United Irishmen had been several years slowly, but effec- 
tively, undermining the government, and cementing the prejudices 
and passions, the distresses, and the vices, of the populace into a 
dark tissue of infatuation, to serve their purpose, when they 
were joined by lord Edward, in 1794, or, as some writers state, 
two years later. He brought with him some military science 


and talent, but no great prudence ; but he possessed one quality 
which does not appear to have been much among their gifts a 
bold and decisive spirit, which was likely to awaken and sustain the 
real movements of insurrection. This is not the place in which we can 
conveniently re-enter upon the difficult, delicate, and complicated pro- 
ceedings of this particular period : as, in point of fact, no statement 
connected with Irish politics can be simply made, we can only avoid 
the discussion of facts involved in conflicting statements, and obscured 
by an incrustation of party prejudices and fallacies, by cutting short 
the narration. An outline of this portion of history has been 
offered in the account of Mr Tone: some further notices shall be 
offered in another. 

It will here suffice, for the purpose of the present memoir, to men- 
tion, that at the period of lord Edward's accession to the conspiracy 
of the United Irishmen, it had not only attained a very mature form, 
but had acquired a vast increase of impulse from the hopes of a French 
invasion. Lord Edward, with Mr Arthur O'Connor, undertook to go 
to France, for the purpose of opening a direct communication between 
the " Irish Executive" and the Directory. In the previous year a Mr 
Le wines, a Dublin attorney, had been sent to Paris; and the result 
was, a proposal of the mission of some agent of rank, accredited by the 
leaders of the body. In consequence, these gentlemen now repaired 
to Hamburgh, and from Hamburgh into Switzerland. At Basle it 
appears to have been arranged, that Mr O'Connor should proceed 
alone to meet the French authority, as lord Edward's connexion with 
the house of Orleans might cause suspicion as to the object of such a 
meeting. Accordingly Mr O'Connor went forward, and had an inter- 
view with Hoche, in which the general project of an invasion is 
supposed to have been adjusted. Some of the results have been stated. 
Hoche's expedition took place shortly after, in the same year. 

This incident was not, of course, wanting to alarm the government; 
and measures of a very stringent nature were resorted to for the pre- 
servation of the country. The danger was urgent; its full extent per- 
fectly apprehended ; but such was the complete organization of a society 
of which concealment was a main object, that, as Mr Moore justly 
states, there had now " elapsed two whole years of all but open re- 
bellion, v.nder their very eves, without their being able, either by 
force or money, to obtain sufficient information to place a single one 
of the many chiefs of the confederacy in their power." This deside- 
ratum was providentially supplied by what seems to have been the 
accidental indiscretion of Mr Thomas Reynolds, a mercer of Dublin. 
He was concerned in some pecuniary transaction connected with some 
lands near Castle Jordan, in the county of Meath, and was travelling 
with Mr Cope to receive possession of these lands. On this occasion 
he disclosed the particulars of the entire plot. There are different 
accounts of this incident; but it is yet doubtful whether Reynolds was 
actuated by conscientious and honourable, or by sordid and treacherous 
motives. As we can best understand the manner of the disclosure, 
it seems to have commenced in the natural garrulity of Reynolds 
he could not resist the cravings of self-important vanity; and in 
clumsily displaying his sagacity and political information, he pro- 


bably dropped hints which roused the curiosity, and sharpened the 
attention of Mr Cope; who, by a little cautious cross-questioning, 
or perhaps by opposition which, since the days of the P^lian sage, has 
been a good screw for secrets drew out enough to make Reynolds 
feel himself committed. According to the account given by Mr 
Madden, Cope made indirect proposals of reward; on which Reynolds 
revealed the whole, and was prevailed upon to take the only course 
which was consistent with safety, after such a communication; 
and the government was at last put in possession of the requisite in- 
formation. The memory of Mr Reynolds has been ever since in bad 
odour among Irishmen we have no great interest in his defence. If 
the matter was according to our construction, his worst fault was 
indiscretion; if not, it is evident that he was wanting in the "thieves 
honour" of a conspiracy ; but the crime, which prevented a worse, 
and saved the country from a deluge of its best blood, may be allowed 
to pass with at least as much indulgence as we have shown to the 
buccaniering enterprise the vindictive, plundering, and confiscating- 
patriotism of Wolfe Tone. But what we wanted to observe is this 
the very curious abhorrence of the " informer," which is deeply marked 
in the character of the lower classes of the Irish people. It would 
seem to have a peculiar connexion with habits. It may be traced, it 
is true, to a very ancient origin: it seems to be the proper and natural 
result of conspiracy and crime, in whatever shape; and to be no less 
than the self -protecting principle applied to vicious and criminal com- 
binations the virtue of the assassin, the thief, and the conspirator. 
In this point of view, it is a matter of curious contemplation to ob- 
serve the deep hold which this strange point of honour possesses of 
those classes and communities which are most habitually conversant 
in criminal combination the smuggler, the bandit, the conspirator. 
Were we to adopt lord Bacon's method of classifying human prejudices, 
we might call it an " idol" of the den. But leaving this considera- 
tion, and looking to the essential principle the moral character of the 
act; it is, in truth, evident and ought not to be left unsaid the 
motives alone must constitute the essence of such a character. We must 
not allow of evil, that good may come; and though assuredly the fidelity 
of a cut-throat or a swindler is more allied to evil than his repentance, 
yet we must allow that such a repentance as is here supposed may 
be itself a result of the most sordid vices. We ought, after cast- 
ing such a balance, to confess that, from all the circumstances, we do not 
think very highly of the honour or honesty of Reynolds; though we 
cannot assent to the peculiar language with which he is commonly 
mentioned. We freely admit that the disposition which induces an 
individual to turn informer against those in whose aims he is himself 
implicated, is most likely to be a bad quality ; it is, indeed, that provi- 
dential countercheck in the moral system against comprehensive 
schemes of villany the conspiracy of the evil is counteracted (in 
many ways,) by its own inherent nature: it would be absurd to look 
for high motives among the vicious or the false. The popular fallacy, 
however, goes something farther, it attaches an odium to the authority 
that uses such a resource. This fallacy is more especially to be found 
wherever the people have imperfect notions of right and wrong 1 ; and 
VOL. vi. i> 


it has always more especially been observable in this country, where 
it has been encouraged by the use which has been so largely made of 
the popular mind for the purposes of agitation. In this latter form, it 
is not necessary to expose such a notion; it too obviously implies a 
conventional etiquette or point of honour between the law and the 
offence the crown and the traitor which has only to be put into a 
distinct form to resolve itself a into mere joke. The obvious design 
of this work must be taken as the proper excuse for these remarks: 
every step we advance in the history of the latter part of the 
eighteenth century is clouded with gross misrepresentations, and the 
prejudice into which in course of time they have become fixed as a 
portion of the Irish public mind. 

To return, Mr Reynolds, having committed himself as described, 
was prevailed on by Mr Cope to endeavour to retract and extricate 
himself from the conspiracy, and to give him information from 
time to time of its proceedings. A meeting of the delegates was soon 
to meet (12th of March,) at the house of a Mr Oliver Bond; and of 
this Mr Cope gave information to the government. 

On the appointed day, Mr Bond's house was visited by the police 
magistrates, and fourteen of the conspirators were apprehended. l)r 
M'Nevin and Mr Thomas Emmet were apprehended at the same time, 
and several others. 

Lord Edward alone escaped. A separate warrant had been issued for 
his arrest, of which he received notice from a faithful servant, as he 
entered his brother's mansion in Kildare Street. Mr Moore, with 
great justice, regrets the circumstance of his having happened not to 
be taken with the others, as it seems indeed a matter of course that 
his life would have thus been preserved with theirs. But it seems 
still more unfortunate, that the high enthusiasm of this young noble- 
man did not allow 7 him to pause in his determinations, and more dis- 
criminately reflect on the precise position in which he was thus placed. 
Instead of this, he resolved on pushing the preparations, already far 
advanced, to the issue of arms. 

The government, as we shall more fully detail hereafter, adopted 
measures the most vigorous, though not more so than the emergency 
required; and by the very natural effect of such measures, the dis- 
affected classes were rendered impatient and irritated. This irritation, 
was increased by the imprudent and most reprehensible declamations 
of opposition members of parliament criminal lawyers and public 
journals; of whom some (like Mr Grattan,) were ignorant of the real 
state of Ireland, others (like Mr Outran,) felt a strong habitual 
sympathy with the popular passion, others, again, (like all the popu- 
lar journalists,) only thought of their faction. Lord Edward was 
now the sole head of the approaching insurrection; and while the 
insurrectionary classes looked to him with anxious solicitude, the 
officers of justice were no less earnestly engaged in endeavouring to 
discover his place of concealment. 

He remained for a month concealed in the house of a widow lady ; 
from whence, it being necessary for the purposes in which he was 
fngaged, he removed to the house of a Mr Murphy, a featherman, in 
'1 honias Street. Still he might have saved himself. Lord Clare, 


actuated by strong commiseration for one so much to be pitied, and so 
deeply misled, intimated his desire that he should make his escape, 
and that the ports should be open to facilitate it; but lord Edward's 
courage, and his zeal in what he looked on as a noble enterprise, 
Ipurned at escape, save through the path of triumph. But his daring 
Indiscretion rendered long concealment impossible in his present 
abode; and he removed to a Mr Cormick's, another person in the same 
line of trade, where he may in a manner be said to have kept an open 
house for the confederates of his enterprise. It was decided that the 
banner of rebellion should be raised in the province of Leinster, in 
the end of May. And every day his discovery became more and more 
an object of the utmost importance. On the llth of May, a reward 
of 1000 was proclaimed for his apprehension. This decisive act 
gave new impulse to the conspirators; and the 23d of May was fixed 
for a general rising through the kingdom. 

On the 17th, information was received that he was to pass guarded 
from Thomas Street to Usher's Island, and major Sirr, with Messrs 
Ryan and Emerson, heading a strong party, proceeded to that quarter 
"and there being two different ways (either Wattling-street or 
Dirty-lane,) by which the expected party might come, he [major Sirr,] 
divided his force, so as to intercept them by either road. A similar 
plan happening to be adopted by lord Edward's escort, there took 
place in each of these two streets, a conflict between the two parties; 
and major Sirr, who had almost alone to bear the brunt in his quarter, 
was near losing- his life," c. One prisoner was taken, who imposed 
on them so adroitly by the assumption of ignorance, that he was let 
go in a few days, and turned out after to have been M'Cabe, one of the 
most notorious of the rebel party. Lord Edward so far escaped. Next 
day, many slight incidents occurred which led him to suspect that he 
was watched they are detailed at length by Mr Moore. He was 
conducted back to Murphy's by Mrs Murphy. 

About mid-day, a sergeant-major with a party of soldiers passed by, 
and halted at Moore's, where he had been in the morning. This 
incident so plainly indicated information, that it was thought necessary 
to put him into some more secure concealment. Accordingly, a place 
was found among Mr Murphy's stores, where his lordship continued 
till dinner-time. 

Mr Neilson had been parading the street during the day in a state 
of much excitement, and occasionally turned to ask Mr Murphy, as he 
passed, " Is he safe?" " Look sharp!" He was at last asked to meet 
lord Edward at dinner; and he, becoming free from apprehensions, 
came down to join the party. After dinner, Mr Neilson suddenly re- 
tired, for some unknown reason ; and, on quitting the house, left the door 
open behind him.* Lord Edward, being left alone, retired immediately 

* This incident has given rise to suspicions affecting the character of Neilson. 
These are, however, unfounded in fact. Mr Madden mentions the foiluv.-iiiy 
entry " June 20th 1798, F. II. discovery of L. E. F. 1000 ;" from which it 
appears that the informer was somebody whose name was designated by these 
initials. He also mentions a train of circumstances which seems to fasten thf 
imputation on a person named Hughes, one of the immediate attendants of lot 
E 1 ward. 


to his bed- room, when Mr Murphy, soon following, found him lying on 
the bed with his coat off. Very few minutes had passed from Neiison's 
departure; and Mr Murphy was just asking lord Edward if he would 
like some tea, when a trampling was heard on the stairs, and major 
Swan entered the room. What followed is thus related by Mr 
Moore: " Scarcely had this officer time to mention the object of his 
visit, when lord Edward jumped up, as Murphy described him, ' like 
a tiger' from the bed; on seeing which, Swan fired a small pocket-pistol 
at him, but without effect; and then turning- short round upon Murphy, 
from whom he seemed to apprehend an attack, thrust the pistol vio- 
lently in his face, saying to a soldier who just then entered ' Take 
that fellow away.' Almost at the same time, lord Edward struck at 
Swan with a dagger, which it now appeared he had in the bed with 
him; and immediately after, Ryan, armed only with a sword-cane, 
entered the room. 

" In the meantime, major Sirr, who had stopped below to place the 
pickets round the house, hearing the report of Swan's pistol, hurried 
up to the landing, and from thence saw within the room lord Edward 
struggling between Swan and Ryan the latter down on the floor, 
weltering in his blood; and both clinging to their powerful adversary, 
who was now dragging them towards the door. Threatened as he was 
with a fate similar to that of his companions, Sirr had no alternative 
but to fire ; and aiming his pistol deliberately, he lodged the contents 
in lord Edward's right arm, near the shoulder. The wound for a 
moment staggered him; but as he again rallied, and was pushing 
towards the door, major Sirr called up the soldiers; and so desperate 
were their captive's struggles, that they found it necessary to lay their 
tirelocks across him before he could be disarmed, or bound so as to 
prevent further mischief." 

He was carried away in a sedan-chair to the castle, where his papers 
were examined and verified. From thence he was removed to New- 
gate. There he suffered much from his wound perhaps more from 
the cruel and unnecessary exclusion (if truly stated,) of his nearest 

There remains a very circumstantial narrative of these incidents, 
writti.'ii by Mr Murphy, of which we have made little use; because, by 
his own account, he was immediately removed from the scene of 
action ; and also because his account is strongly tinged with very 
evident, but "nost excusable, feelings of irritation. We only advert to 
it because it differs slightly from that collected by Mr Moore." 

The government acted on this occasion, as on many others, with a 
severity which would, upon any principle of human nature but one. be 
inexplicable the sense of dire emergency and the vindictive spirit 
which cannot fail to be sooner or later developed by fear and opposi- 
tion. Lord Camden refused to permit the relations of the unhappy 
prisoner to have access to him; nor could he be induced to relent 
by the most affecting entreaties. Finding him inexorable, lady Louisa 
Conolly, the prisoner's aunt, had recourse to lord Clare. Lord ('lure 
was entertaining a large ['arty at dinner, and came to the door with i : 

* M.'uUlen's United Irishmen, vol. i. pp. '254, and s>eq. 


napkin in his hand. He could not act in direct opposition to lord 
Camden; but he was so deeply moved by the entreaties of this noble 
lady, that, without his hat, or the slightest change of dress, he stepped 
at once into her carriage, and drove to the prison introduced her to 
the prisoner's apartment, and remained with considerate patience for 
two hours, while she communicated with her dying nephew. 

The scenes which occurred between lord Edward and some members 
of his family are extremely affecting. In pain of body, and deep distress 
of mind, a heavy sense of desolation and horror had crept over his feel- 
ings. Mrs Pakenham, who watched him with unwearied care, having 
learned that symptoms of a fatal kind had also set in, sent off an ex- 
press for his brother Henry? and lady Louisa Conolly; from whose 
letter, as given by Mr Moore, the following extracts are taken: "I first 
approached his bed: he looked at me, knew me, kissed me, and said, 
(what will never depart from my ears.) ' It is heaven to me to sze you;' 
and shortly after, turning to the other side of his bed, he said, ' I can't 
see you.' I went round; and he soon after kissed my hand, and smiled 
at me, which I shall never forget, though 1 saw death in his face at 
the time. I then told him that Henry was come. He said nothing 
that marked surprise at his being in Ireland; but expressed joy at 
hearing it, and said, ' Where is he, dear fellow?' 

" Henry then took my place; and the two dear brothers frequently 
embraced each other, to the melting of a heart of stone; and yet God 
enabled both Henry and myself to remain quite composed. As every 
one left the room, we told him w r e only were with him. He said, 
' That is very pleasant.' ' Lady Louisa then mentions a conversation 
in which she gave him some accounts of his wife and children. It 
did not proceed far before he showed signs of mental wandering. 
They left him with a promise to return next day. But within two 
hours and a-half he was dead. 

The wounds of lord Edward are stated to have been slight, and 
insufficient to have caused his death. But there was a sad aggrava- 
tion of circumstances. The incidents immediately preceding and con- 
nected with his capture, were of so shattering a nature, and so likely 
to shake and disorder a frame of mind and body so finely organized 
as that of lord Edward, ill and broken as he is described to have been 
for the previous fortnight, that we have no doubt that a severe illness 
must, at all events, have been the result. After his arrest, the agita- 
tion of his feelings, and the disorder of his nervous system, are indi- 
cated, by well-attested facts, to have been very great. A wound 
which, under more fortunate circumstances, would have been rapidly 
healed, was, as has sometimes been experienced in even slighter cases, 
affected by a morbid action, resulting from an entire derangement of 
the frame and its functions; and, accordingly, it is stated that morti- 
fication set in the day or two before his death. It was accompanied 
by fever and occasional paroxysms of strong 1 delirium. If to any one 
this account should appear insufficient, we have to suggest a due con- 
sideration of the circumstances. The unfortunate young nobleman 
was under the immediate apprehension of an ignominious execution, 
horrible beyond all description to his high pride and sensibility. It 
was the same awful terror that has so often blanched the hair and 


stamped the wrinkles of premature old age, in a few days upon the 
convict. Of these conjectures, a strong- confirmation will be found in 
the narrative of Mr Moore, who mentions the effect produced on his 
lordship by the sounds from abroad, where preparations were in pro- 
gress for the execution of another person. 

One extract will complete our melancholy and most reluctant task. 
It conveys the most satisfactory incident by which the life of mortal 
man can be attended at its close. " I hear that he frequently com- 
posed his dear mind with prayer, was vastly devout and as late 
as yesterday evening got Mr Garnet, the surgeon, to read in the 
Bible the death of Christ, the subject picked out by himself, and 
seemed much composed by it." 

Such scenes, so told, will be read, as they have been transcribed, 
with a painful tension of the breast and a feeling too deep for com- 
ment. A heart more full of all the kindly affections, or more alive to 
the happiness they confer a temper more free from degrading vice 
or a spirit so heroic, will not often be presented by human record, 
in a situation so darkly and awfully contrasted with its proper nature 
and happier hopes. 

It remains to give some account of the more immediate conse- 
quence of this tragic incident to the remaining members of the party 
thus deprived of their leaders. 

Deprived of their leading men, the executive directory met in a 
state of perplexity, and not without serious apprehensions; but they 
easily saw that there remained no choice between hurrying on the 
insurrection or abandoning their accomplices to their fate. It was 
not, indeed, difficult for men intimately acquainted with the state of 
the people, to be aware that the wave of excitement had reached 
that point at which it must break. They issued orders, on the 23d 
of May, for a general rising of the people. Early on that day the 
colonels of the districts immediately surrounding Dublin met in 

Abbev Street, to receive orders from those who were commissioned 


to give them. Neilson, already mentioned in this memoir, was the 
principal acting person on this occasion. It is said by one who was 
not likely to be misinformed, that on this occasion he got drunk on 
his way to the directory; and instead of proceeding on his errand, 
he reeled ->ff to the prison of lord Edward. He offered, accord- 
ing to some accounts, to force his way; but it is certain that he was 
arrested. He was well known to the jailer, having been for some 
time in the same prison. In the meantime he was expected at the 
directory, and much anxiety was felt. On learning what had occurred, 
they dispersed in hurry and dismay. This completed the disorgani- 
zation of the party and their system. There remained an infuriated 
and widely-confederated populace, deprived of leading and command, 
hut desperately bent on the venture to which their spirits and passions 
had been so long and so sedulously wound up. 

Lord Edward left three children with his widow. On the 27th of 
July, 1798, a bill for his attainder was brought in by the attorney- 
general, which passed after much discussion. The members of the 
Irish government are admitted, by adverse authorities, to have been 
reluctant on the occasion; but to have acted on the principle, that 


examples of terror were necessary at the time. When the peace of 
the country had been settled, there was shown much disposition to 
repair the injury thus sustained by the family of the unfortunate young- 
nobleman. As lord Edward had not been tried, there was much 
question as to the legality of the attainder. On this we cannot pre- 
tend to determine, but it seems inconsiderate. Had he been tried and 
convicted, the attainder would, we believe, be an immediate conse- 
quence, by the common law. The bill of attainder was not by law, 
but by an express act of the legislature, in strict conformity with the 
principle of law; and, therefore, quite constitutional. The treason 
was confessed by several acts, and not subject to any doubt. A bill of 
attainder would seem to be the precise remedy in such a case, for 
which the law falls short, though the reason of the penalty remains. 
We think that a mistake arises also from not clearly keeping in view 
the real principle of all legal penalties not for the punishment of the 
individual, but to deter others from the offence. 

But the point of justice being settled, it must be admitted that an 
attainder, in one respect, differs from most other penalties, inasmuch 
as it includes the innocent. This consequence has led to several 
modifications; and, above all, to the very cautious and humane ad- 
ministration of such a penalty. Nor can it be said that the case 
of lord Edward is remarkable as an exception. The disposition to 
reverse the attainder, was counteracted by the violent outbreak of 
Emmet's rebellion, in 1803, and by the agitated state of Ireland during 
the interval. The return of a general peace was the event for which 
the English government thought it prudent to wait; and this caused 
a longer delay than was anticipated. At length it came; and, in 
1819? on the application of Mr Ogilvie, and by the kind efforts of the 
late earl of Liverpool, the attainder was at last reversed. 

The estate of lord Edward had been sold under the foreclosure of 
a mortgage in chancery. It was purchased by Mr Ogilvie for the 
heirs; to whom it was restored, free from encumbrance. 


BORN A. D. 1759. DIED A. D. 1803. 

IT is alleged by Mr Madden, that Mr Neilson was "the originator" of 
the United Irish Club, as Mr Tone was the contriver and author of 
its organization. 

The prominent part which he took in the events related in our 
previous volume, renders it fit to give some distinct account of him. 
In so doing, we must endeavour, so far as may be, to avoid re-entering 
too minutely into questions to which we have already devoted a con- 
siderable portion of our space. A few preliminary observations are 
necessary to this essential abridgment of our labours. 

The reader who has perused the memoir which we have given of 
MF Tone, may recollect that a very principal object which we have kept 
in view, through that memoir, has been to exhibit the fact, that there 
was, from the commencement of the United Irish Association, a 


secret intent, concealed by a public and avowed pretext. Both have 
beer, with sufficient fulness, traced and appreciated in these pages. 
The after statements by which the same delusion was attempted to 
be kept up, have also, to some extent, been exposed ; and we shall 
yet come to their more deliberate exposure. With these remarks, 
we shall offer a summary account of the main incidents of Mr Neil- 
son's life. 

He was the son of a Presbyterian clergyman in the north, and 
spent several of the earlier years of his life in some commercial business. 
The prevailing passion for politics, and the great interest of the 
critical events of the time, drew him, like others, into political move- 
ments, which then rapidly absorbed all other concerns in Ireland. He 
became proprietor of a public journal called the " Northern Star," 
which was the principal organ of that party out of which the United 
Club had its origin. The preliminary address of this paper, pro- 
posed parliamentary reform, as the chief object of its attention. But 
in strict accordance with the statements which we have already made, 


we have Mr Tone's authority for the assertion, that reform was in 
part regarded as a pretext ; and in part, as a means to an end ; and 
that this end was " to erect Ireland into a republic, independent of 
England."* The first number of this paper appeared 4th January, 
1792. The particulars are very fully and minutely detailed by Mr 
Madden ;| but we think it enough to state here, that it was set up by 
a subscription of w r ealthy merchants of Belfast, that Mr Neilson em- 
barked 500 in the undertaking, and that the paper quickly acquired 
an extensive circulation, by his exertions. After some time, in 1 794, 
he became sole proprietor of this paper. As it was the great channel 
for the publication of matter not altogether within the bounds of 
legal admissibility, it was occasionally the subject of expensive prose- 
cutions, which soon induced the other proprietors to relinquish their 
shares, and finally compelled Mr Neilson to abandon his mercantile 
occupations. After many misfortunes of the same kind, brought on by 
the illegal and seditious character of his publication, it was finally 
suppressed in 1797, after having been a principal instrument of in- 
calculable mischief to his country. Previous, however, to this last 
mentioned event, Mr Neilson himself had, with others of his con- 
federates, been arrested, and committed to Newgate, on a charge of 
high treason. Mr Neilson's conduct upon the occasion was manly 
and creditable to him. It was such, at least, as in some measure to 
confirm our opinion that, however we must condemn his actions, and 
repel his principles, he considered himself as acting for the good of 
his country ; and that he was elevated by a sense (however fallacious) 
of right. We say this here the more emphatically, as the views 
offered in these memoirs, of the conduct in which he was embarked, 
involve so much of crimination, that it becomes the more imperatively 
necessary to preserve all strictness of discrimination, in favour of those 
whom we are thus forced to censure. With this sense, we take the 
present occasion to express our opinion, that Mr Neilson was sincere, 

* Life, Vol. I. p. 67. 
f Madden's United Irishmen, Vol. II. p. 51 ; and Vol. III. p. 102. 


honest, and disinterested; and that, although he acted under delusions 
too common at the time, he was one of those few whose patriotism was 
not a pretence, and a cloak for the concealment of faction, self- 
interestedness, or mere turbulence. We cannot afford space for the 
detail of such incidents ; but the circumstances of Mr Neilson's arrest 
are extracted at length by Mr Madden (pp. 104, 105, vol. Hi.), from 
the Northern Star of that date. It will here be enough to state, that 
he voluntarily surrendered himself to those who were authorized to 
arrest him, on the alleged ground that, having committed no offence, 
he had nothing to fear. 

Among the points specially to be noticed on the occasion of this 
incident, there is one of seemingly small importance, on which we 
consider it most especially our duty to animadvert, because it consti- 
tutes an essential part of the uniform tinge of misrepresentation, 
against which it has been our chief care to guard. The narrators of 
the incidents of this period, in speaking of the conduct which the 
Irish administration found it necessary to observe with regard to 
their prisoners, describe it in general terms which seem to imply the 
most cruel as well as needless severities. When, however, the relation 
descends to particulars,, they exhibit not only the utmost stretches of 
lenity and indulgence, but even a general laxity, which is not always 
so easy to justify; and which occasionally gives rise to consequences, 
such as to account for some instances of seemingly unaccountable 
strictness. Occasional harshness is indeed a necessary and unhappy 
consequence of all habits of undue relaxation. Now, in the instances 
immediately under consideration, some such causes are made quite 
apparent from Mr Madden's narrative: that there was a very imperfect 
and relaxed system of prison government ; that the prisoners availed 
themselves of it, to a very remarkable extent; that thus their whole 
demeanour, as well as some occasional incidents, could not fail to awaken 
alarm and suspicion among the prison authorities ; and that, in 
consequence, there was occasional recourse had to the employment 
of a formal strictness, which appeared capricious, and carried 
with it an appearance of exceeding the demands of the occasion, 
for this is the common effect of all relaxations of system ; and 
lastly, that the complaints which accompany the narration of such 
formal acts of strictness, almost uniformly terminate in the admis- 
sion? of great indulgence and lenity; so that it is not easy to account 
for this inconsistency, until it is observed to be the result of a 
fallacious and most unfair habitual system of language, indiscrimin- 
ately applied. Some instances of very rough and informal acts may, 
indeed, be traced in these narratives, which can only be excused by 
the sense of emergency and the ignorant zeal of the persons employed. 
These can, however, be in some measure accounted for, by the conduct 
of the prisoners themselves, as related in their own accounts. They 
contrived, with great dexterity, to defeat all the ordinary constraints 
of their prison, and to maintain a nearly unrestricted correspondence 
with their friends and confederates abroad. With this we find no 
fault; but we contend that it offered grounds to justify extraordinary 
precaution on the part of the government, and to excite considerable 
irritation among the subordinate agents with whom they were in per- 


sonal communication. The prisoners were persons of considerable talent 
and courage, and were known to be connected with a wide-spread 
and formidable conspiracy ; facts entirely overlooked by those who 
adopt in their defence an indignant tone of injured innocence, wholly 
inconsistent with these facts. The perverted and wrong-headed spirit 
in which these men saw everything, is indeed curiously illustrated by 
the mock-heroic petulance with which they are related to have re- 
torted to the very forms of justice. Of this, some ludicrous instances 
may be found in Mr Madden's history. But it is not our intention to 
enter into any detail of the history of these individuals, whom the 
events of an agitated period have brought into a prominency to which 
they are not otherwise entitled. As the narrative of their misfor- 
tunes has been made the vehicle of much injustice, we have simply con- 
sidered it as our duty to endeavour to rectify the false position in 
which their misdeeds and follies have been placed. We fully concur 
with Mr Madden in condemning" the occasional instances of brutality 
in low officials, which he relates: we also have felt with him the 
deeply afflicting pictures of distress to which the imprisonment of 
these persons, who are the heroes of his narrative, gave rise. But 
we cannot approve of the invidious tone in which the tale is told. 
He does not seem to have reflected that these instances are but 
the common incidents of humanity ; that cruelty and vice may 
be found acting on the side of justice and order ; and that the bosom 
affections of life will assert themselves even in the sufferings of 
the lowest criminals. Mr Madden speaks of the sufferings of 
Neilson and his fellow-prisoners, as if they were those of innocent 
men, though he must know very well that the government were 
thoroughly aware of their guilt. He evidently assumes, that there 
ought to have been a strict adherence to those ordinary constitutional 
processes, which are not sufficient, and never were designed, for the 
state of emergency to which these persons had reduced the kingdom 
a state which would well have warranted the most decided and sum- 
mary courses that the precedents of history admit; and which, 
mainly considered, was met with a degree of moderation as well as 
firmness, not easily to be paralleled in such emergencies. The con- 
stitutio^ would be feeble indeed, which could be swindled away by 
men as shallow and visionary as Neilson and his associates, under 
the very protection of those forms and constraints which were insti- 
tuted mainly for its defence. It seems to be imputed as a serious 
offence on the part of those whose duty it was to protect the state, 
that they used the only available means for the detection of as 
dangerous a conspiracy as any which has been recorded in history. 
Who, but spies and informers, can, under the w r ell-known circum- 
stances, be found to give the necessary intelligence ? But on this 
point, it is evident enough that the common fallacies of the criminal 
advocate admissible in the discharge of his duty are absurdly 
adopted by historians. We cannot enter on the task of answering 
perfect absurdities. It is curious enough to find grave and learned 
men seriously examining the proofs of ascertained offences, as if they 
were lawyers, by the application of tests and arguments which, even 


when addressed to juries, have no effect, because they are mani- 
festly inconclusive. 

On the 22d February, 1798, Mr Neilson was liberated. If we are 
to adopt the grounds for this step, proposed by liberal historians, we 
would infer tbat it was in some measure to prevent disclosures, which, 
if prematurely made, would seriously embarrass the efforts of govern- 
ment to bring the details of the conspiracy to light. It is also pro- 
bable that a false sense was attached to the declaration that Mr 
Neilson was innocent, made by Bird, a person who, having first agreed 
to give information, was seized with remorse, and escaped. It did 
not occur that Bird was probably not quite in the secret, and also 
that his notion of guilt may not have involved rebellion. On his 
liberation, Mr Neilson removed to the house of a Mr Sweetman, 
with whom he remained until the arrest of the principal leaders of 
the conspiracy at Bond's. 

After this event, he again was induced to take a very active, and 
even violent part. His excuse, when afterwards questioned, w r as, that 
he had learned that he was again to be arrested an apology of which 
we must doubt the candour, as it is not only inadequate, but essentially 
connected with the violation of the pledge on which he was liberated. 
However this may have been, he now exerted himself with great ac- 
tivity in filling up the vacancies left by these arrests. His habitual in- 
discretion quickly led him into the danger he pretended to have appre- 
hended. He was actually proclaimed on the 22d of May, the day after 
the arrest of Henry and John Sheares. He planned an attack on New- 
gate, for the next day, for the liberation of lord E. Fitzgerald. He was 
taken while reconnoitering the prison, and his party in consequence 
dispersed. He is alleged to have received severe personal injuries on 
the occasion. The fact is not to be doubted, as the sincerity of Neil- 
son is strongly attested, and still more forcibly confirmed by after 
circumstances. Yet it is to be observed, that the foulest imputations 
are brought forward against more respectable men, on far less grounds 
than those which have given rise to suspicions connected with Neil- 
son's conduct at this time. We shall presently notice them, not for 
the purpose of crimination, for we acquit Neilson of the imputed 
wrongs, but to illustrate the true nature of charges easily made, and 
often difficult to meet, which have been too largely dealt in by the 
party to which Neilson belonged. 

Mr Neilson was the first proposer of that compromise with the 
government, by which himself and many of the other prisoners were 
spared, and afterwards liberated. It was suggested to him by his 
attorney. We have already mentioned the main particulars. The 
evidence given on the occasion by Mr Neilson, is subject to the 
same comments which we have already made on that of his fellow- 

During the negotiation which was carried on between the prison- 
ers and the government, a very striking, and indeed singular, display 
of human perverseness and cunning ensued. The prisoners were mak- 
ing terms for their lives: they bargained to give certain information 
to the government, and formed the design to deceive the government 
in their communications. They simplv viewed the contract as an occa- 


sion to impress views favourable to their purposes, and to vindicate 
themselves. Their examinations (as published by themselves) were 
plainly a contest of advocacy. Nevertheless, they manifested a bold 
and defying front, and exercised a petulance of temper, which would 
be astonishing, if we were not to consider that, when they had secured 
their lives, there was nothing further to fear; that is, nothing at once 
apparent. There was, however, in their evidence, nearly as much in- 
advertence as craft and dissimulation. They let fall inconsistencies 
and strong admissions, in the shape of opinions; and, on the whole, dis- 
played a temper and tone of character, which could not fail to awaken 
strong distrust. 

While such was the position in which they stood, circumstances 
arose in which it appeared unsafe to liberate them unreservedly. 
The conduct of Mr Tone had made it quite apparent, what con- 
sequences were to be expected from sending out some dozen mission- 
aries of Irish conspiracy to guide French expeditions to our shores. 
To the administration it became apparent, that it was inconsistent 
with their own notions of public safety. They acted on a principle of 
public duty, (perhaps a mistaken one.) when they determined to 
qualify the terms into which they had entered with the prisoners. 
These, on their part, displayed the temper which was to be expected, 
and for which it is easy to excuse them. They were subjected to a 
grievous disappointment, and, according to their principles, an un- 
merited penalty. But it had become far too apparent, from their own 
conduct, and the tone of character they had displayed in the negotia- 
tion, that, under the existing circumstances, they could not, with 
safety to the kingdom, be trusted. Whether, under such an impression, 
(for this is enough,) it \vas the duty of government to hold to the 
terms of an agreement, hollow and specious on the part of the pri- 
soners, and on that of government merely a formal pretext for mercy 
is a question into which we do not think it necessary to enter; nor 
should we have wasted space by stating it, were not the complaints of 
the prisoners iterated and reiterated, until they have passed into tacit 
admission on all sides. There are occasions when it may become 
apparent that persons in office have entered into engagements in- 
consistent with their duty to the nation: it will then depend on the 
nature of the contract, and the character of the parties, how far they 
are bound. A nation, for example, having ratij'i< j d a treaty with 
another nation, to its own prejudice, must abide by it; because, in the 
commerce of nations, good faith is of more importance than any con- 
sequence which can be fairly supposed. But it is not in the power of 
a government to bind a nation, to its manifest hurt, to a small party 
of individuals, even if they were not rebellious subjects. And even if 
this proposition should not be granted, it will be allowed that the case 
admits of strong allowance. Assuredly, it was not for subjects 
leagued against the government, and equivocating for their lives with 
the intention to keep no faith themselves, to complain of any depar- 
ture from an imperfect engagement, in which there was no reciprocity 
a contract which could not stand in equity. We cannot consider that, 
substantially, any injustice was committed towards men whose whole 
proceedings had fully and fairly earned for them the last penalty of the 


law; and who, in bargaining for tlieir lives, had recourse to every pos- 
sible chicanery. Men whose tolly, to say the least, steeped their country 
in blood, and who used all the efforts of falsehood to make their own 
crimes appear chargeable on the essential and indispensable precau- 
tions of government, could not be permitted to take the lofty tone of 
wronged and suffering patriots, and to heap most unmerited odium on 
the government, while experiencing its mercy. The indignation of 
official agents was quite justifiable: it was in some instances displayed 
in acts of petty insolence, discreditable to the actors, but nothing 
further. The personal indignities of which Mr Neilson has com- 
plained, are not to be assumed as attributable to any cruelty on the 
part of persons under government: the prisoners were generally 
treated with great indulgence this we have on the express admission 
of many of them. Mr Neilson appears to have been in some respects 
a special exception: this will be in part explained by his own conduct, 
which was at times such as to alarm his associates. He was violent, 
indiscreet, and, if he cannot be described as a drunkard, he was, when 
drunk, more than usually dangerous. Mr Madden, we are aware, 
defends him from this charge : but Mr Madden, whose honesty of 
of intent we freely admit, has unawares slipped into the very common 
failing of having two different methods of judging of the infirmities 
of different c 1 asses one for lord Clare, and another for Samuel 
Neilson. For those who, in that period of emergency and alarm, were 
burdened with the most trying and responsible duties which can fall 
to human courage and wisdom, there seems to be no scrutiny of 
motives too nice, no rule of conduct too exacting: they must rise 
above mere humanity, and execute justice, or maintain truth, without 
suffering at any time, for a moment, the most delicate tinge of indig- 
nation to rise against the fools, the madmen, or the knaves, from whom 
it becomes their duty to save the peace, happiness, and virtue the 
religion, principles, and institutions of the social state. On the other 
hand, for the theorists and projectors who would carry out the most 
wild and insane speculations at the expense of society who, while 
they breathe philanthrophy, union, and the rights of man. in their 
ignorance and folly, or wickedness and selfishness, as it may be, (for 
there is always a mixture,) of which the result must be blood, ruin, 
and desolation, there is no stretch of allowance too wide. The phi- 
losophy and heroism which is supposed to be implied in their creed, 
covers every vice, and explains every ambiguity. The heroes and 
martyrs of rebellion are to be canonized by popular piety, and the 
blasphemy of imputation repelled with pious resentment. So radically 
is this perverted sentiment intermingled with those writings to which 
we are now mainly compelled to resort for material, that, as we read, 
an influence falls over the mind, aiid we shrink involuntarily from 
profaning the monument which a false superstition has raised. We 
recoil from insulting the ardour of honest and well-meaning, though, 
we think, mistaken veneration. 

We are not in the least degree desirous to pursue the memory of 
these idols of popular veneration with severity. Our only desire is 
to apply the same law of equitable allowance to the infirmities of 
those who have been the marks of a deep and long-breathed rancour, 


which has not been permitted to pass with the times and events which 
gave rise to it. We freely admit of the defence which has been 
made for Mr Neilson, on some apparently equivocal points. We 
think that he was, to the full extent of his own principles, an honest 
man. His letters from Fort-George display him favourably, so far 
as respects the private relations of life. His political conduct was 
sincere, according to his views. But those views were not merely 
fallacious ; they were to be carried into effect by craft and dissimulation, 
to an extent which we shall presently have to point out. His sufferings 
evidently sobered, corrected, and dignified his character; the prisoner 
of Fort-George is a different man from the prisoner at Newgate. On 
the whole, there is somewhat very unaccountable in the circumstances 
attending his imprisonment in Newgate. He made a complaint of the 
very heavy irons in which he was placed by the jailor. But it after- 
wards incidentally appears that those irons were but a pretence. He 
only wore them, he told Mr Curran, for the inspector; while the jailor 
affirmed in court, that he put them on him from the fear that his life 
would be attempted. There is some inconsistency in the whole nar- 
ration ; and the entire of the circumstances, when put together, seem 
to justify the dismay and tergiversation of the rebel directory when 
they heard of it. If Neilson was, what we should not wish to deny 
without better pr-oof, an honest man, he was so excessively unguarded in 
his conduct, that no secret can be easily imagined safe in his keeping. 
Persons of his character often differ much in their sober and drunken 
moods. And further, it ought to be observed rather in reference to 
the topic into which we have been led, than to Neilson that in Ire- 
land, and in Neilson's especial circle, a man might acquire a very 
honest name, and be very far from being an honest or honourable man 
in any other. There was, at that time, among the lower classes, a very 
singular confusion of principle, which appears to have been indige- 
nous, but which we ascribe in reality to a perpetual state of secret con- 
federacy, in many respects not essentially different in principle from 
the murderous creed of the Thugs in India. The people had little 
notion, at the time, of strict truth or commercial integrity; but in its 
place tilere was a certain point of faith and honour in crime, of which 
the conventional name was " loyalty." To be true to his faction, to 
be a trustworthy accomplice, to hold the religion of his fathers, were 
the general tests of character. The devotion to a cause appears to 
be a strong tendency of the Irish character a moral element, which, 
if correctly disciplined and rightly applied, would be the source of 
the highest moral virtues. But the Irish peasantry were then wholly 
uncivilized the gentry not very much above them in this respect; 
and it can be perfectly understood how a class of fallacies, generated 
in a common social state, grows insensibly round the moral nature 
of a people. The point of honour was, indeed, a virtue of the same 
class; and it held a similar supremacy over the gentry. To some 
extent the two elements were blended. A fact not sufficiently allowed 
for in the analysis of social influences, is the great intercourse between 
the higher and lower classes in the early part of life. The child has 
his first sentiments from the servant; his first ambition is to receive 
the flatteries of the dependent: the youth, studious of athletic games 


and field sports, enters into relations of sympathy with a larger and 
lower class. Thus the sentiments, the notions, superstitions, and pre- 
judices of the inferior class, entered insensibly, and modified the not 
very dissimilar habits of mind of the middle class. In the long- 
continued existence of such a state of things, accompanied by a 
system of conspiracy which had become constitutional, the same influ- 
ences operated on the very language of the country. We reserve 
some further disquisition on this point, till we shall have an occasion 
to apply it. 

The personal severities experienced, in some particular instances, by 
some of the prisoners, are not to be fairly imputed to the Irish ad- 
ministration, but to the animosity of low individuals. Such instances 
cannot be defended; but it is admitted, on the best authority (that of 
the prisoners), that their general treatment was humane and indulgent. 
Some allowances must be made for the impression caused by sudden 
alarms; something for sudden indignation; something for the fact that, 
in emergencies, the first proceedings were of necessity summary, and 
conducted by inferior agents. Even the statements of those writers 
who omit no complaint which can be imagined, contain sufficient ad- 
mission to make good this view. Strong charges are made in general 
terms against lord Clare and against lord Castlereagh: their conduct, 
however called for, is interpreted by the imputation of vicious motives; 
yet when they are in any instance personally brought forward, their 
actions are humane and honourable. 

To return to the contract: the English government it was, and not 
the members of the Irish administration, which, on very full and suffi- 
cient grounds, determined to detain the prisoners till the termination 
of the war with France. They could not decide otherwise. They could 
not have anticipated that this would be productive of any very un- 
reasonable length of captivity. They ordered them to be conveyed to 
F'ort-George, a military fortress. 

The true spirit of this measure, and the entire absence of any vin- 
dictive motive, was shown by the great attention paid to the health and 
comfort of the prisoners. This is strongly testified by the letters of 
Mr Neilson, from w r hich Mr Madden gives abundant extracts. The same 
documents also strongly manifest a very considerable improvement in 
the character of Mr Neilson himself. Separated from the moral con- 
tamination of the party with which he had moved the depraved 
habits which had lowered both the moral and intellectual tone of his 
mind; and confined to the society of the better class of that party men 
of talent, information, and virtue, he becomes sober, reflecting, and 
disciplined. Separated from his family, his affections are awakened 
into a predominating intensity, and his religion becomes a happy and 
salutary resource. 

The prisoners passed their time in reading, and music, and frolic, 
which was indeed in itself both natural and excusable, in a manner and 
with a degree of violence which bore plain marks of the same turbulent 
and vindictive spirit which marks the whole of their conduct. Their 
remonstrances and reproaches, evidently designed to excite popular 
irritation, produced no effect either on the people or the government ; 
and they were perhaps surprised by the lenient and forbearing treat- 



ment which was shown them through the entire period of their im- 

Mr Neilson, by a courageous act of self-denial, was enabled to ob- 
tain his son as the companion of his captivity. The prisoners in Fort- 
George, were allowed each a pint of wine every day. Mr Neilson 
sold his share at the rate of 3s. 6d. per bottle, by which means he 
raised a sufficient sum for the maintenance of his boy, then in his 
seventh year, and remarkable for his docility and amiable dispositions. 
This child not only employed much of his father's time usefully and 
pleasurably, but also helped to amuse the dulness and monotony of 
their confinement for the other prisoners exerted themselves for his 

Under these circumstances, Mr Neilson's imprisonment, though dis- 
turbed by the natural impatience of constraint, was passed in a quiet 
and virtuous tenor of studies, duties, innocent amusement, and intelli- 
gent society, which had together a salutary influence both on his 
health and moral character. 

At last, peace was concluded with France; and the inmates of Fort- 
George were liberated. Mr Neilson turned his mind to America, 
but first determined on a clandestine visit to Ireland both to see his 
family, and to vindicate himself from some imputations which affected 
his reputation. He effected this purpose with some risk, but without 
any material adventure. 

He then crossed the Atlantic having left his family in Ireland 
with the intention to secure the means of subsistence, before he removed 
them from their friends. On his arrival in New-York, he soon re- 
ceived encouragement to induce him to set up a journal; and entered 
upon his labours with diligence and success. But a rheumatism, con- 
tracted during his long imprisonment, soon returned with added seve- 
rity, and his constitution quickly gave way. He died at a small town 
on the river Hudson, in 1803, in the 44th year of his age. 


<*> Soctor /, ,_ 


DIED' A. D. 1841.* 


DOCTOR MACNEVIN was descended from a family of considerable* 
respectability, in the county of Galway. At an early age, he was sent 
to Germany, on the invitation of his uncle, Mr Hugh MacNevin, who 
had acquired some property in that country by marriage. He there 
received a good education, and having obtained the qualifications essen- 
tial for the practice of physic, he returned to Ireland, and commenced I 
practice with great success in Dublin. Being of the Church of Rome,'' 
and possessed of an active temper and considerable talents, he soou 
began to take a prominent part in the political agitation of his time; 
and thus became acquainted with the leading members, who, under the 
pretext of seeking catholic emancipation and parliamentary relcrai, 

: Though Doctor MacNevin has lived far into a period later than that in whirh 
vre are yet engaged, yet his life belongs to the time in which he is here iiot.c 


were working round their party, with great art and success, to deeper 
views. Dr MacNevin is mentioned, by his daughter,* to have been 
first initiated into the arcana of the United Irishmen by Arthur 
O'Conor and lord E. Fitzgerald, on whose expressed desire he be- 
came a member ; after which, his activity and zeal were distinguished 
on several occasions. 

The events which soon after followed, and which led to the long 
imprisonment and expatriation of Dr MacNevin, have been sufficiently 
detailed in the preceding memoirs. After his liberation, the doctor 
travelled for a time: he subsequently went to France, and entered, witli 
the rank of captain, into the French service with the hope (as his 
daughter infers from his conversations on the subject,) of serving in 
some expedition against Ireland. This prospect having soon wholly 
disappeared, he resigned his commission, and sailed for New- York, 
where he once more entered, with the best success, upon his profession. 
In 1810, he married; after which he spent a long and prosperous 
life. He appears to have been a man of the kindliest nature, capable 
of the warmest attachments, and deriving from them the uninterrupted 
felicity of his long life. He died, respected by his adopted country- 
men, and lamented by his friends and family, in 1841. Besides several 
political pamphlets, he published a " Ramble through Switzerland" 
Pieces of Irish History" an edition of " Brande's Chemistry" an 

Exposition of the Atomic Theory ," &c. 

*. / 




DIED 1841. 

DOCTOR EMMET was a physician of great practice, and high repute, 
in Dublin. He held for several years the place of state physician. 
He was thus, by station, brought more directly into the acquaintance 
and conversation of the most eminent public men of the day. With 
much to recommend him to the regard of his large and eminent circle 
of intercourse, there is ample reason to believe that the doctor was 
rather a clever and active-minded than a wise man. Were we to form 
an opinion from the various notices of him which occur incidently, and 
from the history of his children, we should say that he was a man of 
singular and eccentric habits of mind, with a considerable portion 
of flighty enthusiasm and cracked talent. As politics in Ireland 
were sure to absorb any superfluous activity of mind, the doctor 
was very earnest and wrong-headed in politics. In a time when 
revolutionary notions were mixed up with even the most temperate 
views of whig party, he left all far behind in the wildness of his 
schemes, and the almost crazed zeal with which he took every occa- 
sion to enforce them. He had three sons, all young men of the most 
brilliant parts, who, each in his own way, inherited something of the 
unlucky craze which neutralized the understanding of their father. 
to the fault of nature, education did not fail to add its part. A 


* Memoir, in Madden 's United Irishmen, Vol. III. 
VI. E 




hyperbolical and fanatic idolatry of country, was the devotion of their 
infant years. There are times and countries, when, unquestionably, the 
principle could not well be either misapplied, or carried too far; but 
Ireland was not the country ; nor was the beginning of a democratic 
ferment, that was to overflow the civilized world with confusion, the 
time for any very violent excess of such a temper. The Emmets 
grew up in the spirit of martyrdom, to a cause which they were 
prepared to adopt as the cause of their country. With the spirit of 
knights-errant, we must allow that they were endowed with the noble 
virtues of ancient chivalry they were humane and honourable, as 
they were devoted. As each of the brothers is entitled to some share 
of our notice, we shall give here a short account, in order, of the 
two elder, before entering upon our narrative of the history of the 
younger and more celebrated brother. 

/ O 

Temple Emmet, the elder, was considered, by those who knew him, 
a prodigy of attainment. His memory was astonishing, and his com- 
mand of language strange and peculiar. He is said to have begun his 
profession of the law with the full and precise knowledge that is usually 
the attainment of a laborious life. But if we are to form an opinion 
of his intellect from the account which remains of his style, judgment 
and the discursive faculty do not seem to have had much place. His 
language was not merely extravagantly figurative, but actually cast in 
the mould of verse; and even as poetry, it appeared inflated. He, 
nevertheless, soon attained practice, and died early, in greater business 
than had been known in any other instance. 

The next brother, T. Addis Emmet, is better known. Of the three, he 
would appear to have had the most manageable combination of faculties. 
He also was called to the bar, and rose to early eminence. He was, like 
his brothers, early schooled to liberalism in politics ; and though he did 
not join the United Irish conspiracy till 1796, he yet endeavoured in 
all things to serve its ends in his professional capacity. One occa- 
sion is mentioned, on which he acted in a manner remarkablv charac- 


teristic of that peculiar temperament ascribed to his family. Some 
persons were prosecuted for the administration of an unlawful oath. 
At a certain stage of the proceedings in court, Mr Emmet, having 
risen to speak to a point of law, took the opportunity to say that 
he did not consider the oath unlawful; and, to the astonishment of the 
>ourt and all persons present, he added, " My lords, here, in the pre- 
sence of this legal court, this crowded auditory, in the presence of the 
Being that sees, and witnesses, and directs this judicial tribunal, herf, 
my lords, I myself, in the presence of God, declare, I take the oath/' 
It is mentioned by Mr Madden, that another barrister well known as 
one of those United Irishmen who were expatriated by the agreement 
with government a Mr William Sampson, at nearly the same time, 
performed the same feat on a similar occasion, and with the same 

Mr Emmet soon after joined the conspiracy, and was one of those 
who compromised for life, on the occasion here adverted to. We have 
already offered some comments on the evidence which he gave on 

In 1791, he married a Miss Patton, the daughter of a presby/ n 



clergyman, by whom he had many children. This lady was permitted 
to remain with him during- a considerable part of the long interval in 
which he was confined in Fort George, and had a child there. 

After the liberation of Mr Emmet, his thoughts naturally turned to 
America. He crossed the Atlantic, and landed at New- York. After 
some doubts as to the selection of a profession, he chose to recom- 
mence life in the profession with which he had already made acquaint- 
ance in Ireland. He selected the state of Ohio, and was 
admitted to the bar at Alexandria; but presently yielded to the advice 
of general Clinton, then governor of New- York, to remain there. A 
great obstacle, arising from the regulations of the bar, stood in the 
way ; but by the influence of his friends, and the consent of the benchers, 
it was removed; and he was permitted to practise, without the preli- 
minary probation of six years, which would have been a serious deduc- 
tion from a life of which forty years had been already spent. 

We very much regret that we cannot go into the interesting details 
of Mr Emmet's most honourable and distinguished career at the Nevv- 
York bar. It is a portion of American biography; and though we 
admit that it reflects honour on the country of his birth, yet it would- 
lead us too far from the course from which, however we may have 
been occasionally tempted to wander in our earlier volumes, we are 
now imperatively bound to keep. 

He rose to the rank of attorney-general, and stood in reputation fit 
the very head of his profession, both as an orator and a lawyer. One 
of his critics compares him to Erskine, and places him above Curran, 
and adds, " I might safely challenge the whole list of Irish orators for 
the superior of Thomas Addis Emmet." We quote this as clearly 
fixing one thing the unquestionable character of Mr Emmet. As to 
the comparison, we may observe by the way, without questioning Mr 
Emmet's superiority, that the critic displays an imperfect acquaintance 
with the Irish bar; at which Mr Curran, with all his undoubted elo- 
quence, was far from standing first; and at which Mr Erskine would 
have met more than his match. 

Early in the year 1827, while addressing a jury with all his wonted 
eloquence, Mr Emmet was seized with an apoplectic fit, and carried 
home, where he died, in the 63d year of his age. Every mark of 
respect due to his great eminence was observed. His funeral was 
attended by the members of his profession. 

Mr Emmet was as well known, and as much revered, for the worth 
and amiability of his private character and deportment, among his 
friends, as he was honoured and respected by the public for his talents 
and public virtues. His learning was various ; his knowledge of his 
professional science, profound ; and the industry by which these attain- 
ments had been gained, not less than the brilliant talents employed in 
their use. 

A public monument was raised in the court where he was seized 
with his last illness, and inscribed with an honourable and true 
tribute to His memory, from the country of his adoption. 



DIED 1803. 

ROBERT was the youngest son of the Doctor Emmet mentioned in a 
foregoing memoir. Of the history of his early life, it is unnecessary 
to take notice. It must be easily apprehended that his education and 
early habits were the fitting preparation for the brief and unfortunate 
career which forms a part of the history of his country. 

He has been described, by one who was not likely td be in this 
respect mistaken, to possess surpassing eloquence. But all that is known 
of the incidents of his life may serve to illustrate how little of essential 
connection there is between eloquence and a sound understanding : 
his opinions on political subjects were those of a visionary and 
fanatic. We must endeavour to state, within the briefest compass 
we may, the event of which lie is the hero. 

The legislative union between this country and England had been 
effected, and the consequences were looked forward to, by sober men 
of either party, with different anticipations; while there was prevalent 
among the more moderate men, and the better classes, an anxious hope 
for the benefits which its advocates had abundantly promised. These 
hopes were to receive the first of many blows from the desperate 
project of a few deluded men, a remnant of which had, unfortunately 
for this country, escaped from the hand of justice in 1798. Among- 
these men there was deeply retained a trust that they would still be 
enabled to effect their mad and wild projects: they brooded in Paris 
over dreams of revenge and plunder, which their fancy delineated 
with a fine and shadowy pencil as the back-ground of that political 
regeneration which was yet to come from France, then beginning to 
spread her principles, and their results, over Europe. There Mr 
Kobert Emmet found a secure and appropriate asylum from the stern 
control of the English ascendancy, and the constraint of British laws; 
and, in the society of a chosen circle of citizens and sages, the elite of 
the Jacobins and the United Irishmen, drew the liberal lore of French 
philosophy and Irish patriotism. These men were at least resolved 
that their beloved country should not settle down prematurely into an 
ig-nominious acquiescence in the new order of things, or subside into 
the hackneyed progress of commercial civilization. To rescue her 
from this inglorious end, and restore her to her centuries of intestine 
disorder, was the favourite hope for which alone these men lived. 
They kept up a correspondence with their friends at home, and 
watched with anxious vigilance everything that stirred the popular 

For a moment, their hopes had been excited by the report of colonel 
Despard's meditated conspiracy to assassinate the king; and before 
this design failed, they had met, and entered upon a resolution to send 
over to London to obtain accounts of the actual progress of affairs, 
and to give such aid as might be required. One of those who were 
not under any prohibition, accordingly visited London, and enterc ii 
into communication with Despard. This emissarv, having been so far 


successful, proceeded on to^ Dublin, and succeeded, without much 
trouble, in raking together \e embers of the rebellion of ninety-eight. 
There was enough of this td be met in every quarter; but, mixed with 
the patriot's fire, there had sunk deep a cold and deadening experience. 
The generation then existing had received a lesson on the con- 
sequences of civil war, which damped their eagerness with a little 
cool discretion; and this, which was to show itself signally when 
matters were a little more advanced, gave signs, even at the outset, 
not very satisfactory to a gentleman who was yet fresh from the 
Parisian school, and breathing freedom. Nevertheless, he did not 
despair, but entered on a vigorous course of preparation ; brought 
together secret meetings, and spent considerable sums in the collecting 
and forging of arms. This gentleman, whose name was Dowdal, is 
said to have been carried by his enthusiasm into many indiscretions, 
and now and then dropped his disclosures in mixed company. The 
government had obtained a clue to Despard's conspiracy; and it is 
more than probable that the correspondence of Mr Dowdal thus fell 
into the hands of the authorities. His own associates, trained to 
caution, and fearing his indiscretions, began to avoid him ; and he \vas 
himself, by some means, so alarmed, that he concealed himself for 
a time. Despard was arrested, and his conspiracy frustrated; but 
Mr Dowdal had given so much encouragement to his friends in Paris, 
that Robert Emmet and others were already on their way to Ireland. 

Emmet arrived some time in the end cf November, and took up 
his abode at Rathfarnham, where he lived with Dowdal in entire 
seclusion. Mr Hamilton, one of the principal persons now concerned, 
was sent to Paris for Russel, the well-known friend of Wolfe Tone, 
and one of the original planners and movers in the old conspiracy. The 
whole party were soon together, carrying on their secret meetings 
in Thomas street, and making all provisions and arrangements for 
the execution of their treasonable ends. 

At these meetings, Emmet was usually in the chair. They did not 
confine their discussions to the immediate purpose of the meditated 
outbreak, but entered into the consideration of all the various con- 
ceivable forms of government, consistent with that insane notion of 
freedom which was the basis of all their acts and imaginings; and 
there is authority enough to say, what, considering the men, needs no 
authority, that plans were proposed, amounting to the dissolution of the 
social state in any form. To such results, even the most moderate 
looked as consequences to come, but from the reproach of which they 
hoped to keep clear, by declining to be the immediate instruments of 
unnecessary mischief and ruin. 

_>^\ ?J hile they were thus proceeding in these isolated deliberations, 
'^Pcounts were received from correspondents in the north that appear- 
ed to indicate some revival there of the smouldering fires of the 
former conspiracy. To avail themselves of this auspicious promise, 
Mr Russel was despatched in that direction. That we may not have 
^o write a memoir of this gentlemen, we shall for a while accompany 
his movements. 

After a circuitous journey, Mr Russel arrived in Belfast, where he 
as well known as the active associate of Mr Tone ; and, immediately 




after, a meeting was brought together, to hear from his lips an 
account of the hopes, means, and progress of the new conspiracy. 
He, on his part, as his breast was the seat of a more earnest and 
sincere zeal, had the more anxious part of endeavouring to feel the 
pulse of their patriotism, and to infuse into lukewarm breasts the 
spirit of conspiracy. Though he found many ready enough to enter 
warmly into the views which he unfolded, it presently became unpleas- 
antly apparent that the majority were unprepared to hear of any 
prospect of immediate action: their sentiments were as disaffected as 
he could desire; and they showed many sparks of convivial indignation, 
such as finds a safe and salubrious vent over the punch-bowl. But it 
was too plain that their expectation and their wishes had not risen 
above the natural impulse of the vulgar to hear speeches, hold meet- 
ings, utter complaints, and enjoy the comfort arid self-importance of 

His views were, however, assented to; and when the more daring 
agreed on immediate organization, no one had the face to show his 
fears by dissent; and thus it was that Russel was for some time the 
dupe of his own activity and enthusiasm. One meeting got rid of its 
vacillation by appointing another ; and several were held in succession, 
in different places, and by different persons. We shall avoid the dis- 
agreeable and sometimes painful task (now unnecessary) of entering- 
into details, which could not be prolonged without language which we 
endeavour to avoid to the utmost extent. 

Having set the flame in motion, Russel hastened to make his reports 
in Dublin; and having obtained instruction for concerted movements, 
he returned to his post. The plans in town had been conducted to the 
verge of explosion ; and Mr Russel returned to urge immediate action. 
He brought accounts of formidable preparations, of sure-laid projects, 
and seeming success. We have to observe generally, on these enunci- 
ations, that they evidently infused more of surprise and consternation 
than of military ardour. The meetings began more and more to be- 
come like Quakers' meetings, and to derive their whole excitement 
from the circulation of the glass. Russel promised mountains, after 
the approved prescription of conspirators. He did more, recollecting 
the maxim of Horace, to appeal to the evidence of seeing oculis 
JidelibuSy he carried about a military coat, made and ornamented after 
the true revolutionary cut of the Parisian school; and when he found 
his oratory ineffectual, or when at times he had succeeded in exciting 
a, transient glow the hectic of a fear-damped patriotism, he put on 
the coat, and endeavoured to rouse their virtue and confidence by a 
stalking show of military pomp. But the coat had mostly an effect 
different from his intention it seemed to offer a nearer view of a^ li1 ^ 
ling realities, and evidently excited a wish to escape. In a w ^ 
it is nearly evident that his valour only roused the spirit of northei 
discretion; and the coat, gorgeous with gold and green, came upon 
the jolly meetings as an evil auspice, that shook from its horrid skirts 
" pestilence and war," like Milton's comet, and not only sobered thei 
stoutest, but paralyzed even the circulation of the social jorum. 

Like most deeply infatuated men, Russel, though he could not hel' * 
feeling the reaction ou his own confidence of these discouraging 


cidents, neglected to reason on them strictly; but thought to escape 
from the suspense of one abortive stage of progress, by trying the next 
and more decided. His courage took refuge in the path of despe- 
ration. It appears only accountable by some such impulse, that, in 
despite of the manifest indications of reluctance, which were the only 
result of all his exertions, he endeavoured to resort to the expedient 
of violent and open action. Notwithstanding the dry evasions, the 
reserve, and the frequent panics of his friends, and the decidedly 
avowed unwillingness of the peasantry, he proposed an attack on the 
barracks in Belfast. His opinion, supported by his colleague Hamil- 
ton, and by a few bold persons of an inferior description, was passively 
assented to by the meeting in which it was proposed, because they 
shrunk from expressing reluctance; but with a secret intention on the 
part of each individual to keep himself clear of all danger. This was 
the latent danger. Kussel and his companion were too brave, and too 
little sagacious, to comprehend this state of things, until they were per- 
sonally committed beyond retreating. In the interval, their eyes were 
painfully and slowly opened by a succession of painful disappointments. 
The meetings for the purpose of the enterprise above mentioned, can 
only be understood by comparing them to a crowd of grown men 
humouring the follies of children. They came together, talked of the 
crops, and looked grave at the mention of action proposed to wait a 
little took fright, and skulked away, leaving the general alone. The 
persons who were employed to convey intelligence, and sound the 
people, returned accounts that they generally expressed reluctance to 
be shot at and hanged, and would not rise until they saw decided 
prospects of success. These persons, in their heedless zeal, distributed 
seditious papers indiscriminately, and soon rendered secrecy out of 
the question. The violent alarm thus spread over the country ope- 
rated as an added check, both to the peasantry and to all leading men 
who might otherwise have aided with their council and influence. 
The agitators presently also had the mortification to learn that one of 
their chief friends had abandoned them. 

But they had one trust they depended upon the success of Robert 
Emmet in Dublin, and reckoned with confidence on the results. For 
themselves, there was no safety, but in the field; and they strenuously 
urged those who could be prevailed to listen, to consent to rise when 
the account of Emmet's success should arrive. This promise none of 
their friends refused, for all considered it a safe one ; and a general 
understanding spread to this effect. The two colleagues separated, 
and met with various incidents ; but one event was common to both 
they were reached by the tidings of Emmet's failure, and were under 
the, necessity of concealing themselves; but in vain. We shall pre- 
sently recur to the remaining incidents of their career. 

We now return to the master-mind of the movement. Mr Emmet's 
jzeal, energy, and talent, had infused spirit into his immediate accom- 
plices in the metropolis. He collected material, and organized a sys- 
ftfl) of not inadequate preparation, and arranged schemes of attack 
I simultaneous movement, which, had they been successful, must 
oubtedly have caused much calamity, though it cannot consider- 
y be affirmed that they would have ensured the prosperous issue 


of his undertaking. A house was taken in Patrick street, No. 26, 
where a manufacture of arms and various combustibles was kept busily 
at work. Pikes to fold like the handles of a parasol, for concealment, 
and abundance of long pikes, were forged; rockets and grenades were 
made ; hollow beams were filled with every missile of destruction, with 
gunpowder to give them murderous effect. With these, guns and 
blunderbusses were stored, with other implements, for the various 
purposes of assault or obstruction. Among the several cross circum- 
stances which frustrated these formidable preparations, the first was 
a frightful accident. In bearing materials from the furnace to the 
table, for the preparation of the rockets, the droppings of some explosive 
substance had been suffered to fall and concrete on the floor. A spark 
from the workman's pipe fell on this; and a tremendous explosion of the 
whole store of inflammable ingredients shook the house, and destroyed 
the floor on which they stood. One man was killed, most of those 
present frightfully injured, and great alarm communicated to the 
whole neighbourhood. Most unfortunately, the real occasion of the 
mischief was not suspected, though the police of the city (not then 
very efficient) crowded to the scene, and found scattered in confusion 
the plain-speaking evidences of some secret treason. 

The effect of this disaster was, a great increase of vigilance in the 
indefatigable mind of Mr Emrnet. He now took up his abode wholly 
at the depot, where he watched the progress of the work, relieving 
himself by study, and taking rest, as nature required, upon a mattress 
on the floor. A few sentences, from a paper written at this time, and 
found in the room, not only convey with the most impressive truth 
the character of the writer's mind, but throw no feeble gleam of ex- 
posure on the conduct of his plans. " I have little time to look to the 
thousand difficulties which stand between me and the completion of 
my wishes. That those difficulties will disappear, I have an ardent 
and, I trust, rational hope. But, if it is not to be the case, I thank 
God for having gifted me with a sanguine disposition. To that dis- 
position I run from reflection; and if my hopes are without foundation 
if a precipice is opened under my feet, from which duty will not suffer 
me to run back, I am grateful for that sanguine disposition which 
leads me to the brink, and throws me down, while my eyes are still 
raised to those visions of happiness which my fancy has formed in the 
air." How strongly the inexpressible enthusiasm of the fanatic is 
drawn in this language! how still more strikingly the rashness and 
precipitancy of spirit that hurries to ruin, and will not damp its 
energy, or fret its impatience, by the deliberations and precautions 
that are essential to the success that in any w y ay depends on minute 
and complex details! Such a man might be efficient on the eclg-e of 
battle, and lead the torrent of a rushing charge; but Mr Emmet was: 
engaged in a nice and delicately-framed system of arrangementsJ 
dependent on the most circumspect attention to the conditions of time I 
and place. Such a project was easy enough to plan; and Mr Emmet 
so far, was no way deficient in contrivance: but in his calculations 
many elements were omitted. Like all ardent projectors, he c* 
not allow for casualty, he could not forecast the small accumul; , j 
of errors, fears, and vices, which must have part in such a tissu vu . t 


minds and instrumentalities. Mr Emmet has left an authentic detail 
of his whole arrangements, written with a view to vindicate himself 
from the reproach of an abortive plan. We can here only use it for 
a brief summary; but it is impossible to give that document an atten- 
tive perusal,* without feeling the truths here expressed. 

The three principal points selected for attack were the pigeon- 
house, the castle, and the artillery barracks at Island-bridge. Au 
arrangement for the surprise of Cork-street barracks was also planned. 
Certain points from which effective resistance was to be apprehended 
were also to be occupied. These were chiefly, the old custom-house, 
Mary-street barracks, and the corner house of Capel street, opening 
on Ormond quay. For all these points, strong bodies of men were 
severally allotted, generally from two to five hundred. Houses were 
secured by hire or otherwise, and magazines of the most formidable 
description designed. In some streets, strong lines of defence were 
planned, either by chains and cross-beams, or by overturning the neigh- 
bouring stands of hackney coaches. A line of streets (being the 
issues from Beresford street) was to be thus occupied, to compel the 
king's troops to move towards the castle in the line on which the 
rebel forces were to be concentrated for their reception. As the 
army might still take different directions at Merchant's quay, there 
were arrangements for assault in different turnings. All these ar- 
rangements were to be mainly of the same description; cross chains, 
and beams loaded with explosive ingredients ; bodies of men in the 
houses, with fire-arms and grenades, and in the streets with pikes. 

When the time drew nigh, the materials were found wanting, partly 
from the blunders of subordinate agents, and partly from want of 
money. In consequence, Mr Emmet gave up all the points of his 
plan but the castle, and the lines of defence. 

For the attack of the castle, the men were to assemble at the depot 
in Patrick street; a house near the gate was to be obtained. The 
first step was to consist in the entrance of two job coaches, loaded 
with armed men, who were to step out and seize the guards. Should 
this stratagem fail, persons were to be ready, in the next house, to come 
down by a scaling-ladder from a window over the guard-house; and a 
fire was to be at the same moment opened on the gate from three op- 
posite windows. An arrangement was made, in the expected event, to 
send off the Lord Lieutenant and government officers, with the bulk of 
the artillery, to the commanding officer in Wicklow, where the tra- 
gedy of Wexford bridge might have been enacted on a magnificent 
sea 1 !.- "A case it should be found necessary to retreat. It is, however, 
i r ~ential to particularize the events that were intended, or might 
..',,_' been. The actual result will clearly show what might have 
Set ;n expected from success. 

. ! Three rockets were to denote the commencement of an attack; a 
rocket with stars, to announce victory ; a silent one, repulse. 

But the beams were left, some unloaded, some without wheels; 
the fusees were unfinished; the jointed pikes blown up, c. &c. The 

* It is published in the Appendix to the Life of Mr Curran, by his Son. 


appointed bodies of men did not come in. Some parties came too soon, 
and went off in time to save themselves and others. In short, nothing 1 
was ready, and all was in utter confusion ; and as the counties were 
supposed to be ready for simultaneous action, the day could not be 
postponed. " Had I another week, had I 1000 pounds, had I 1000 
men, I would have feared nothing," was the significant apology of Mr 
Emmet. To this unfortunate madman it is justice to add, that, when 
the moment approached, and he saw that failure must be the inevi- 
table result, he made such efforts as he could to prevent the rising. 

But numbers of Kildare men had actually come into town; and 
though Mr Emmet had the courage to rush upon a sea of bloody con- 
tingencies, he possessed neither the sense nor firmness to arrest the 
impulse altogether. He made an effort far less efficient than he seems 
to have assumed it to be, to prevent the rising of the counties; yet, 
while he states this fact in his apology? and endeavours to vindicate 
his conduct, it does not appear that it crossed his thoughts, how rash 
and criminal, on any allowance, was his next and last step. Having 
actually relinquished the objects of his enterprise, and exerted himself 
to arrest its progress, is the only intent which could (even according 
to his own principles) justify the havoc and bloodshed it involved. 
After having insisted that his object was to allow of the least blood- 
shed his purpose would admit, and after the enterprise was divested 
(for the time) of all its promises, it seems strange and unaccountable 
to find him leading out a small and desperate band of ruffians and des- 
peradoes, of the most vile and abandoned description, to waste their 
violence and sanguinary propensities on peaceful men. He could not, 
under the circumstances, dream of any effective success, consistently 
with any pretension to be qualified for command, nor consistently with 
any knowledge of the rabble at his heels, could he have failed to see 
what was to follow. Any drum-boy could have unerringly predicted 
the whole course of the following- incidents: but the sanguine temper, 
so truly drawn by his own hand, worked to the last; and this is Mr 
Emmet's tr^e apology. He then had upon his mind an impulse and 
an impression, not much differing from the illusion of monomania, 
that, somehow or other, all would go well. 

On the appointed day, numerous small bodies of men had come in, 
and collected at the assigned points of mustering. These were, for 
the most part, dispersed by reports which were long attributed to 
cowardice or treachery, but which, by Mr Emmet's own account, may 
be inferred to have been set in motion by himself. The money, re- 
quired for some indispensable necessaries, had not been obtair-^' ai - u Hil 
five in the evening; and by the absence of the store-keeper* 1 jpimu-te 
critical moment, as well as from the want of arrangement, i,^ H? ^ 
materials and equipments lay in inextricable confusion iVa " 

About nine in the evening, when, by the plan, 2000 men should h J o r 
been armed at their posts, about 200 were come together; and a i'V \(' 
more scattered bands, at different lurking corners, waited securely x 
see what turn the matter would take. The appointed signal was 
given. A rocket was seen to arise from Mass lane, and a disorderly 
and unarmed banditti rushed together at the depot. There, guns and 



pikes were liberally dispensed to all who came; and there can be little 
doubt that many of the mere city rabble, whom the noise drew to- 
gether, were tempted to take the weapons thus lavishly given. 

Among 1 the tumultuous and confused uproar of people, scrambling- 
for pike and gun, Mr Emmet stood conspicuous, in an attire not quite 
unsuitable to the occasion the green and gold of revolutionary 
France. Messrs Stafford, Quigly, and Dowdal, his staff-officers, were 
similarly attired in Jacobinical foppery. 

The arming was soon completed, when Mr Emmet drew his sword, 
and gave the word "Come on, boys!" and marched off at the head of a 
small party of not quite a hundred men. The last division of his fol- 
lowers, to the number of 400, were to join in Thomas street. 

In Thomas street, Mr Emmet was destined to learn a lesson in the 
laws of insurrectionary war, which the history of a few previous years 
should have amply taught. The rabble, whom he conducted, displayed 
the faithful indication of the only purpose for which they were fit. A 
carriage driving through the street, was instantly surrounded, stopped, 
and torn open; and a cry went through the crowd, that they had taken 
the lord Kilwarden. It was answered with shouts for vengeance from 
every tongue. His lordship, whose character had been made popular by 
justice and the most signal humanity, thought that the sound of his 
name would have been a safeguard among the people. He was, alas! 
mistaken he had miscalculated the temper of the rabble, and the 
passions of human nature in their direst phase ; or, more truly, he 
was in total ignorance of the true nature of the infuriated disarray that 
crowded round. He was not permitted long suspense. Torn from 
his carriage, he was pierced with thirty pikes. He is said to have 
been pressed by the blood-thirsty avidity of the crowd against a door, 
and, while writhing with numerous wounds, to have cried out, in his 
agony, for a merciful and deadly thrust, to end his tortures. The 
patriotic apologists for this and such deeds, have attempted to ex- 
tenuate its atrocity, by a story which we shall take a future occasion 
to tell, but which has no true application here. The point of it is, to 
transfer the blame from the crowd, to the vindictive recollections of 
one man. But the whole circumstances, however told, repel such a 
solution, and render it unnecessary. It is rather beyond the charity 
of history, to vindicate the fame of the perpetrators of a murder as 
foul as ever disgraced the stained and empurpled records of human 
nature ; though we cannot pass without note, the perverse liberality 
which dwells with indignant eloquence on the half-hangings and other 
cruelties resorted to by vicious officials of police, and displays its cha- 
rity by such apologies. With the accusations just alluded to, we fully 
sympathize. The objects have been exaggerated for party purposes; 
and this partly accounts for the inconsistency we have alleged- We 
have glowed with indignation at the cruelties committed in the disguise 
of justice. Even though the alleged half-hangings might not, wrong- 
fully to the individual or to the law of justice, be superseded by more 
complete, but sanctioned executions; yet were they justly to be re- 
probated, as displays of the evil nature of the agents. These mea 
indulged the inherent cruelty of their natures; though there were 
ctvd'ul and indispensable necessities in that desperate crisis, which gave 


1 " ' l f..._ * 



w.-A- 2"* 


at least the shadow of a rightful sanction to their deeds. But such 
extenuations are wholly foreign from the horrible tragedy of lord 
Kilwarden's murder. The animosity of one man can neither explain 
nor extenuate the scene. The unfortunate lord Kilwarden was accom- 
panied by his daughter, and his nephew, the Rev. Mr Wolfe. The 
daughter attempted to intercede for her father, and offered money. 
The ignorance, as well as the brutality of the crowd, were displayed in 
the reply: they "were looking for liberty, not plunder." She was 
pulled from the carriage, and ordered to take herself out of the way. 
The reverend Mr Wolfe thought to escape; but he was followed, and 
piked to death. 

The time lost, and the notice attracted by these exploits, made it 
hopeless that they should succeed in an attempt to surprise the castle. 
To this main object of their meeting, they were urged by their leaders; 
but the unfortunate Emmet must, at this painful and degrading moment, 
deeply and agonizingly have been awakened from his romance of 
patriotism to a true sense of the position into which he had so blindly 
rushed. His lofty dream of a band of patriots had terminated in a 
paltry rout of the vilest'cut -throats most probably the lowest dregs of 
the town, (to admitmore would be a slander on the Irish peasantry,) 
following the same old instinct of all such base aggregations, from 
the rising of Jack Cade, to his own. The horrible exploit they had 
committed seemed to have roused their fury and self-confidence beyond 
the control of leaders. From killing the chief justice, they naturally 
proceeded to break the prisons. They took the reins in their own 
hands, and marched off to the Marshalsea prison. Here they sur- 
rounded and slaughtered a corporal ; but the guard, consisting of about 
eight soldiers, turned out in their own defence; and the rabble, with a 
cowardice worthy of the deed from which they came still reeking, 
gave way and retreated, leaving several rebels dead upon the street. 
After proceeding some distance, and an insignificant fray with the 
watch and some constables, they came into contact with a picquet of 
about fifty soldiers, who were detached to meet them towards Thomas 
street. On seeing the military, the word was given to the pikemen to 
charge. The soldiers were ordered to fire; and, at the first volley, the 
rebels turned and fled with precipitation. This put an end to the affair : 
every one, leaders and men, turned to seek his own safety as he might. 

The leaders, Emmet and his friends, with a few more of their offi- 
cers, took their road towards the Wicklow hills. At an early hour 
in the morning, they entered a farmer's house in Tallaght. They were 
in the highest spirits, and exhibited a levity of character little consistent 
with the disappointments of the night, or the horrors which had been 
perpetrated in their names, or even with the slaughter and capture 
their wretched adherents. They played with their calamities \\ 
the heroism of Sans Culottes not inaptly assumed the characte: 
French generals spoke gibberish to their entertainer and evide* 
were happy at the risk they had escaped. How far the more ar< 
temper of Mr Emmet was sustained by the same spirit, we I 
not the means to judge; which we regret, because we think tha 1 
moral trait should be lost of a story which ought to be so deepb 
tractive to Irishmen. 



In the meantime, the depot in Patrick street was found, by the 
waste of arms and ammunition which lay strewed before the house 
since the previous evening, when they had been tossed out of the 
stores to the mixed crowd. There were found 8,000 pikes, with up- 
wards of 36,000 ball-cartridges, with rockets, grenades, scaling-ladders, 
and all other such implements of attack and defence. Mr Emmet's 
papers were discovered, among which was a proclamation to the 
citizens, announcing freedom, and the end of British oppression. Pre- 
parations enough were also found, to give a brilliant and imposing 
exterior to success. Green flags and uniforms were found in such 
abundance as the scanty finances of the conspirators, and the prudence 
of tailors, would afford. 

It was now the remaining object of those who cared for Mr Emmet, 
either from private regard, or the hopes of "another day," that he 
should escape from the kingdom. Mr Emmet's fate was crossed by 
another ungoverned impulse, which his wayward and ardent temper 
had received in the course of the preceeding incidents. During his 
retirement at Rathfarnham, he had found free access to the home and 
hospitality of Mr Curran, and contracted a strong and mutual attach- 
ment with his daughter, Miss Sarah Curran. Such a proceeding, it 
is to be admitted, was inconsistent with discretion and honour. It 
was clandestine, and under circumstances which should, on the part 
of Mr Emmet, have suspended the prosecution even of an open 
and avowed affection. But it is the excuse of the lady, that she 
was young; of the gentleman, that he was too sanguine to be conside- 
rate. She only saw the splendid mind, ennobled by aspirations, of the 
value of which she had no just measure: he looked forward only to 
success, which would repair the fault of a momentary deception. They 
stood, in the thoughtlessness of their young and inexperienced breasts, 
over a caldron of woes unutterable; for her, broken-hearted agony, 
and a life of sorrow; for him, remorse and a violent end, unredeemed 
by any circumstance to adorn his memory. 

While his friends were at work to secure his retreat, he could not 
resist the impulse to seek a last farewell of the object of his affections. 
For this he returned to lodgings which he had for some time previ- 
ously occupied, in Harold's cross. There, in August, he was taken by 
major Sirr. 

Thus, a prisoner, his fate was fixed. There were in his case no 
alleviating circumstances. The rebellion, which he had made such 
exertions to excite, did not, like the former, grow out of any train of 
ion accumulating causes it was no operation of the madness of the 
tim > ivt was the effort of a few individuals to renew and prolong the 
crimes and sufferings of a people exhausted and subdued by the cala- 
mitous inllictions of civil war. Its very failure was due to the apathy 
and prudtnce, the fear, and the rueful experience of the country. 
The leaders, few and unsupported, were only carried forward by the 
delusion of their reason, and the ardour of their impulses, as children 
striving to keep up a play, when their seniors have grown tired of it. 
But it was a game for lives. There was no plea for Mr Emmet but 
the deep spirit of Quixotism, which was interwoven with the bright 
and powerful qualities of his head and heart. He was a man who 


would have stood calm on the last fragment of Ireland, in the wreck 
of a dissolving" world whose passions and virtues did in nowise 
belong to the region of low-born realities in which he was lost. For 
him there was no redeeming angel in the furnace:* his fate must be 
lamented, but it cannot be condemned. 

On the particulars of his trial and death it is not necessary to dwell. 
His defence of himself is spoken of as a model of eloquence unsurpas- 
sed. There is a tradition, which we do not believe, of a singular proof 
of indifference to the terrors of the scaffold. But there are some 
deeply affecting circumstances, which can only be recited and heard 
with pain, and on which we should not wish to dwell, but that a kind 
of justice forbids the omission of anything that can relieve the narra- 
tion of so unfortunate a career. In the last hours of his life, Mr 
Emmet evinced a high indifference to self, and an earnest and fervent 
care for the o'ject of his latest affections, such as would have graced 
a nobler end. Nor is the anxious effort he made in that fearful 
moment, for the vindication of an imaginary honour, less indicative of 
a noble strain of character. 

When Mr Emmet was committed to prison, he called aside the 
gaoler, and gave him all the money he had about his person, and en- 
trusted him with a letter for Miss Curran, requesting its safe delivery. 
The gaoler, as his duty prescribed, gave it to the attorney-general. 
When Mr Emmet ascertained the circumstance, he immediately sent 
to the authorities to offer, that, if they sent the letter according to its 
address, he would plead guilty, and go to execution without a word ; 
that otherwise, he would address the people. Of course, such a com- 
promise could not be accepted. 

Of the fate of Mr Emmet's accomplices, it remains to say a word. 
Mr Russel might, according to every account, have escaped. On learn- 
ing the arrest of Mr Emmet, he came to town, in the hope of rescuing 
him by some means. He was arrested by the active vigilance of 
major Sirr. On his trial, he displayed the firmness and enthusiasm 
of his character. He vindicated his designs on a ground somewhat 
distinct from the principles of Mr Emmet and other persons similarly 
engaged. He appears to have been strongly impressed with some 
fanatic notions, derived from his own interpretations of the Apoca- 
lypse, and to have looked forward to the event of revolution as part of 
the plan of Providence. He requested, on his trial, three days for the 
completion of a work on the subject. He was condemned and exe- 
cuted in Downpatrick. The same fate was shared by Drake and 
Currey, two of his accomplices. The rest were afterwards par/J<p^ d. 

As we have frequently had occasion to make mention of Mr mi-pel, 
it may have some interest to be mentioned, that he was the 'son of s, 
respectable gentleman, an officer in the army, and afterwards master 
of the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham. He was himself e;/rly in the 
army, and served at Bunker's-hiil. After the American v/ar, he was 

* The reader may recollect the affecting lines of Mr Moore : 

" Thou hast called me thine angel in moments of bliss; 
Still thine angel I'll be, in the horrors of this ; 
Through the furnace unshrinking, thy steps to pursue, 
And shield thee, and save thee, or perish there too." 



/ ''-'W^V' 

- ' ' / 
- ' - v ./ -vv 

/ x 




':<> 'fJM%, 

.,.,,.,.,,., />.,/., /..ft.,, '../-' 


placed on the half-pay, and became the friend and colleague of Tone. 
His leisure was for a time occupied in theological studies, for which 
his previous education had not prepared him. With a sanguine and 
gloomy turn of mind, he became a fanatic. Without judgment, know- 
ledge, or any talent but that of language a fluency the more prompt, 
because unconstrained by reason, he naturally found his level in the 
councils of the ignorant enthusiasts who then gave their main impulse 
to the popular passions. 

There was, among the persons whose names or deeds demand no 
memorial, engaged in these disturbances, a man of the name of Dwyer, 
who, at the head of a small but desperate banditti, had remained in 
arms, in the county of Wicklow, from the previous rebellion. This 
person was supposed to possess an entire influence over the peasantry 
in that county; and overtures were made to him by the party of Mr 
Emmet. He is said to have replied, that " he would not commit his 
brave men on the faith or good conduct of the rabble of Dublin: if, 
however, they could gain any advantage, or that he should see the 
green flag flying over the castle, he would be at hand to aid them." 

Some further incidents, connected with this narrative, will be found 
in the following memoir. 

estolfe, ftorlr IJteaMirt Btlfoartiem 

B)RN A D. 1739. DIED A. D. 1803. 

ARTHUR WOLFE was the eldest son of Mr John Wolfe of Forenaghts, 
in the county of Kildare. He received his education in the university 
of Dublin; and, having been called to the bar, soon rose to eminence 
in his profession. 

In 1787> he was appointed solicitor-general attorney-general in 

As first law-officer of the crown in Ireland, he was not less dis- 
tinguished for his ability than for the humanity which obtained for 
him a well-merited and honourable popularity, won without any com- 
promise of right or justice, and by no vain or vile prostration of 
his abilities to the vices and follies of the multitude. Of this, many 
incidental proofs are recorded. 

In 1798, he was raised to the dignity of chief justice of King's 
Bench ; and, in the same year, created lord Kilwarden of Newlands, in 
the county Dublin. In 1800, he was advanced in the peerag-e, as vis- 
count Kilwarden of Kilwarden. In the next year, he was appointed 
vice-chancellor of the university of Dublin. 

The memory of lord Kilwarden obtains its chief claim on our his- 
torical recollection by the event and the circumstances of his death, 
reflecting the highest honour on him, as it would dishonour if they 
were not below the level of dishonour itself on the wretched mis- 
creants by whom he was murdered. 

His lordship had been, since the former rebellion, known to entertain 
lively fears of assassination. When attorney-general, the mildest dis- 
charge of his duty had raised enmities against his person, which the 


duties of chief judge in a criminal court were not likely to diminish; 
and so much alive were his apprehensions, that, up to the last year of 
his life, from ninety-eight, he had continued to pass his nights in 
town, from the fear of some attack beyond its limits. His country- 
house was about four miles from Dublin, on the side from which the 
rebels were crowding in, on the 23d of July, 1 803, from Kildare; and 
towards evening, the family were alarmed by a succession of alarm- 
ing rumours. Either the accustomed fear returned to his lordship's 
mind, or, as some have supposed, he was to attend a privy council; but 
he set out at a late hour of the evening for town, in a post-chaise, with 
his daughter and nephew. 

They passed, without interruption or alarm, along the solitary roads 
towards the Kilmainham side of Dublin. On reaching town, he re- 
solved on entering at the nearest point, from the impression that all 
danger of interruption would cease on gaining the more populous and 
public streets: hence, instead of entering by the barracks, he ordered 
his driver to pass through St James street and Thomas street, which 
were at the moment in the actual occupation of the rebels. It was ten 
o'clock, and, it is said, more than usually dark, as the carriage entered 
Thomas street, about two hours after sunset. The rebels had at the 
time wholly thrown off all control, and been heated by several casual- 
ties, in which they had committed some unprovoked assassinations, 
The carriage was stopped within twenty yards of the entrance to 
Thomas street, and the party within dragged out. His lordship's 
cries for mercy were disregarded ; and a violent contention took 
place among the murderers, for the savage gratification of wounding 
him. One gentleman who was present was slain, for an attempt to save 
him. His nephew was slain in ^n effort to escape, as has been con- 
jectured, from his being found twenty yards farther on. Miss Wolfe, 
allowed to escape, made her way to the castle ; where she arrived, in a 
state bordering on frenzy, with the dreadful story. 

It was at this time that, the alarm having been fully spread, some 
small parties of soldiers were collected, and brought forward to check 
the further movements of those misguided ruffians. They were in 
consequence suddenly alarmed, and compelled by their terrors to de- 
camp. Some persons who had been terrified witnesses of the scene, 
among whom was at least one servant of his lordship, ventured to ap- 
proach the bloody spot. They found him frightfully mangled, but yet 
breathing, and conveyed him to the nearest watch-house, in which, 
stretched on such a bed as the place afforded, he lived in pain for 
half-an-hour. While he lay contending with his mortal agony, and 
in this lonely and forsaken condition, a person who stood near him, 
roused to indignation by his pitiable state, exclaimed that he " hoped 
the assassins would be executed next day !" The truly noble reply of 
lord Kilwarden was, "Murder must be punished; but let no man 
suffer for my death, but on a fair trial, and by the laws of his country" 
words which, as lord Avonmore truly said, " ought to be engraven on 
his tombstone in letters of gold, and which deserve to be transmitted 
to posterity as the motto of the family to which he was so great an 
honour, and so bright an ornament." 


13r ^atrtcfe Sutgtnam 

Bf)RN A. D 1735. - DIED A. D. 1816. 

DR PATRICK DUIGENAN is said to have been the son of a peasant of 
the county of Leitrim. His parents are represented to have been of 
the Roman church. His conversion, according to the same account, 
was due to a Protestant clergyman, who kept a school, and had ob- 
served his early signs of superior intellectual power. From the school 
of this gentleman, he entered the university of Dublin, where he 
obtained a scholarship, and, in course of time, a fellowship. He took 
one of the two lay fellowships allowed by the regulations, and was 
called to the bar. 

When Mr Hutchinson was appointed provost, Mr Duigenan took 
an active and leading part in the manifestation of that discontent 
which was the general and just sense of the university on an appoint- 
ment so inappropriate. The consequences we have already mentioned, 
in our notice of Provost Hutchinson. Mr Duigenan displayed his strong 
but coarse satirical powers, in a series of squibs and pamphlets; was 
challenged, and took the field with a loaded blunderbuss; which so 
astonished and alarmed the opposite party, as to put a quiet end to the 

In 1?85, he was appointed king's advocate, and judge of the pre- 
rogative court; and in 1790, he was elected member of the Irish 

From this last-mentioned event, his name is largely mixed with 
those political incidents which have been noticed in the preceding 
pages. We cannot afford to re-enter on those topics, and shall there- 
fore briefly notice such occasions as gave matter for the active appli- 
cation of the doctor's talents. With respect to his history, there is 
one point of very peculiar importance. We have little notice of his 
life and character, that does not come from the hands of his enemies; 
and it is a consequence, that nearly every assertion which affects his 
character is to be received with the utmost distrust. 

He is charged with a fierce animosity to the members of the church 
of Rome; of which there appears no proof, but the strenuous opposi- 
tion which he gave to their claims in parliament. This opposition is 
to be accounted for on the grounds of policy, so very strongly urged 
in his speeches, and altogether unanswered by his opponents at the 
several periods; while the fact that he married a lady of that persua- 
sion, and kept a chaplain in his own house for her, affords a very 
striking indication of an unprejudiced temper, and of affections dis- 
engaged from such feelings. 

There is no doubt that his political conduct, both as a writer and as 
a speaker, was marked by some disregard of the forms of courtesy pre- 
served by others. He did not wield the keen and polished scalping- 
knife of Mr Grattan; nor could he, like Mr Curran, sport in glanc- 
ing discharges of wit. The doctor's mind was not more powerful to 
apprehend, than it was simple and earnest in the vindication of poli- 
tical truths. With a clearness in the comprehension of the real state 

VOL. vr. F 


and prospects of the country, and a perception of political causes and 
consequences, such as none of his able antagonists had any pretension 
to, he listened with impatience and indignation to singularly powerful 
statements, which were all founded on the most complicated miscon- 
ceptions both of fact and principle, and which were calculated to do 
mischief to the country in two ways, by exciting- the people, and by 
deceiving the government. Hence it was that there was a coarseness 
in his attacks, and a violence which mere party activity never could 
excite. Dr Duigenan was in earnest. 

He was fierce in his attacks on Mr Grattan. It is to be admitted 
that this great orator displayed, in the latter period of his political 
life, strong proofs of an understanding that could gather wisdom from 
experience, and rise clear above the violent prejudices and sympathies 
of the earlier part of his career. But, in the Irish parliament, his 
close, nervous, and pointed statements, were but too often the echoes 
of excited popular passion and prejudice the suggestions of those 
who made a trade of excitement; by their force and warmth, reflecting 
back power and sanction upon the delusions, to which they gave a 
voice, and the stamp of a higher currency. If even the statements made 
by Mr Grattan, in that period, were to be fully allowed, the indiscrimi- 
nate violence of his denunciations w r as adapted to effect more evil than 
/good could have resulted from his success. He wanted, and his 
party wanted, what none can be censured for the want of, a statesman- 
like sense of the real relations of political and constitutional facts. 

Without attributing any very extraordinary powers of intellect to 
the subject of this memoir, we would claim for him, in some degree, 
those which were wanting to many of his superiors in genius. He was 
profoundly and extensively informed he was master of much of the 
wisdom of experience; and he brought a strong sagacity to bear on 
the questions then agitating the Irish public. The consequences were, 
not only a strong and direct opposition to the popular parties, but to 
their principal abettors and parliamentary supporters. Other men, 
less strenuous and less consistent, have had some admissions in their 
favour; and for some, their friendships have secured at least some partial 
courtesy. But Dr Duigenan's life and memory consist in a fierce and 
stout opposition to the popular parties in Ireland; and, as all our 
historians have hitherto belonged to these, his name has passed into a 
by-word of reproach. 

As to the main incidents of his parliamentary life, they are nearly 
identified with the various topics already noticed in our pages. One 
of the most remarkable efforts of Dr Duigenan, as a debater, was per- 
haps on the occasion of a bill proposed in the Irish parliament by 
secretary Hobart, February 17U3, for the relief of the Roman Catho- 
lics. On this occasion, the doctor spoke at considerable length, 
in reply to that gentleman, and to Sir H. Langrishe, his seconder. 
His argument showed that he had closely sifted the history of that 
body, and looked prospectively to the probable workings of such a 
measure. We could not, without tedious detail, go into his argu- 
ments; but it would be a wrongful omission not to notice that events, 
Jong after his time, have, to a great extent, confirmed the deductions of 
his reasoning. If he is accused of an unqualified support of government, 


it must be recollected that the bill which he resisted was a govern- 
ment measure ; and for those who have accused him of animosity 
against the Roman Catholics, we may let the accused have at least the 
benefit of his own strong and plain denial, for which we transcribe the 
concluding sentences of his speech. " I utterly, from my heart, dis- 
claim the operation on my mind, of any partial or interested views, in 

thus forming and delivering my sentiments on this occasion In 

thus publicly declaring my sentiments, I even do some violence to my 
private feelings and affections, as I live in the strictest intimacy and 
friendship with several Roman Catholics, for whom I have the sincerest 
regard and esteem, knowing them to be persons of the greatest worth, 
integrity, and honour." 

Another question in which Dr Duigenan is mentioned to have taken 
an active part, was that of the legislative union between the two 
countries. For such a measure the minds of all considerate statesmen 
and politicians had been long preparing. The policy of such a 
measure, as affecting the national interests of Ireland, had been 
generally recognised in the commencement of the eighteenth century, 
when it was rejected by the commercial jealousies of England. It 
was, indeed, evident enough, that a country so far behind in civil 
progress -so inferior in wealth, population, civilization, and all that 
constitutes the existence of a nation could not stand by itself in the 
jarring community of Europe. It was as plain, that it could not be 
joined in any partial relation with a country such as England, on any 
terms, however limited, without a real and substantial subordination. 
This, no conventional understanding, no specific agreement, no legal 
provision, could prevent. It could not be prevented ; and half a cen- 
tury of the most powerful effort, conducted by much ability, did not 
substantially diminish it. It could not be done away by acts of parlia- 
ment, or by the most explicit renunciations on one side, and the most 
violent assertions on the other. It was the operation of circumstances 
not within the control of institutions, or the will of men. It was a 
condition of the social nature of man, as affected by the actual state 
of human progress. 

Wise men felt the force and reality of this great truth; and if wis- 
dom and virtue were inseparable, a more strict and diffusive union 
between the countries would, from an early time, have been the aspi- 
ration of the patriot. Of such a union, the effects might be very slow 
and remote; but they would be certain as nature. A process of 
equalization would commence, and proceed uniformly, but limited by 
the existence of numerous retarding causes. This advance would 
also be accelerated in its progress by the removal of obstacles, and 
by the accession of advantages. 

But, besides the reluctance of England, there was in Ireland a great 
combination of causes to retard the introduction of the more inti- 
mate and equalizing connection here described. On these it will be 
useful to make a few remarks. 

First, there was the reluctance of the, Irish aristocracy, who, in 
the barbarous isolation of Ireland, possessed a degree of political 
power inconsistent with the more direct and immediate interposition 
of English authority, opinion, civilization, and commercial euterprise 


Secondly, the system of jurisdiction and opinion, which placed Ireland 
under the jurisdiction of the Roman see, contained a powerful combi- 
nation of obstacles. Thirdly, the influence of a powerful, but wrongly- 
instructed public feeling, which arose from national pride and anti- 
pathy. And lastly, the growth and concentration of a brilliant and 
effective parliamentary opposition; the constitution of which, it has 
been one of the objects of the previous memoirs, in some measure, to 
illustrate. From the operation of this last, combined with some other 
causes, also largely discussed in these pages, other still more effective 
obstacles arose towards the end of the century. Of the two last alone, 
it will be necessary to speak more distinctly. 

The idea of carrying out in Ireland a distinct application of the 
elementary provisions of the British constitution, was the great, but 
somewhat premature, view of Flood, Grattan, and the lesser lights 
who accompanied or followed in their train. They were orators, 
lawyers, theorists, and, above all, patriots; living in the sunshine of 
the public gaze; heated by the popular sentiments which they had 
contributed to raise; having in their hearts and brains, though un- 
consciously, a theoretic state of things a Utopian Ireland, imaged 
to their understanding in the reflected light of Blackstone, the 
British debates, and the history of England. To this they squared 
or rounded all their thoughts, and played Walpole or Chatham on 
their lesser stage. To give effect to the spirit of party, thus 
awakened, dilated, and dignified, great occurrences contributed. 
Of this nature was the whole history of the volunteers, their poli- 
tical triumphs, the results on public feeling, and the wide-spread dis- 
affection which so closely followed. Giving and receiving mutual 
excitement, the popular orators and the popular factions supplied 
each other with sanction and accumulating vitality. Pride entered 
largely into the animosities of a generous but barbaric race; and 
flatteries and prejudices, as fabulous as fairy tales, gave no light help 
to nourish the unenlightened antipathies of Irishmen against each 
other, and against England. 

Such is the most brief and summary statement we can offer of the 
great leading obstacles to a union. 

But to all thinking and observing men, whose minds were not 
absorbed into the whirl of party and faction, it was plain enough that 
the interests of Ireland absolutely required such a vital and intimate 
union. In the strife of the powers of Europe for territory, Ireland 
could not stand alone: in the wars with France, this could not, for 
obvious reasons, be consistent with the safety of either England or 
Ireland. With unequal resources, inferior wealth, and a compara- 
tively slight and barbarous population, she could not stand, or be per- 
mitted to stand, on a commercial equality with England. Under the 
same rule, having common laws, and common political interests and 
government, she could not be allowed to exert a strong political ani- 
mosity of opposition, exhibiting itself even in the commonest matters 
of form, and not obscurely or inaudibly asserting the same in more 
essential matters. Such a state of formal combination and actual 
opposition, virtually amounted to a separation. To rule Ireland at 
all, resources were used which were unconstitutional in their nature, 


but absolutely indispensable ; for as a separate polity^ hostile in its 
temper and spirit, Ireland could not be permitted to remain. It must 
have been reconquered or ruled; and it could only be ruled by force 
or faction, tyranny or corruption. 

If, however, there were apparent reasons on more general grounds 
of English policy, there were some far more imperatively requiring 
consideration with regard to the immediate interests of Ireland. 
There then had grown up a violent animosity between the opposite 
coasts of the two islands. Without contributing to each other's 
interests, they were affected by rival feelings in commerce. There 
were growing up seeds of hatred which, at some period, would have 
the direst and most violent operation. Ireland was augmenting her 
demands for concessions, which the people of England considered 
as sacrifices. Such a state of things was not to be continued. 

One way alone was calculated to meet all these present and worse 
prospective evils. And this was such a union of the countries as 
should, to all purposes, make them one in interest, in law and con- 

To bring this about, the prejudice and ignorance of the public 
were to be dealt with, and the fierce and proud resistance of those 
whose glory it was to keep up and feed the vanities and delusions 
of the populace. In the British parliament, the difficulties were com- 
paratively slight; but it was in Ireland that obstacles were to be 
overcome of no common force and magnitude. 

A great measure was to be effected for the advantage, safety, and 
welfare of both countries, but most of Ireland, which had then so 
much to gain, and so little to give. The means by which it was 
brought about have been censured. On these, it is, for very obvious 
reasons, not our wish to say much. Corruption was largely resorted 
to, and cannot, on the grounds which alone we would desire to take, 
be defended. But fairness demands some allowances, and the removal 
of some fallacies. 

For those gentlemen who absolutely sold their votes, we have no 
defence to offer they betrayed the trust of their constituents, or the 
known duty of their station. There were, it is true, many whose 
personal interests had an insensible influence at all times on their party 
conduct; and the less strict principle and inferior light of those days, 
such persons might easily be induced to see with the eyes of their 
superiors. It is not to be assumed that all members of parliament 
could, in that day, untie all the knots of every great and complex 
question of commerce and state policy. The reasons on the side of 
government were not so inferior in force, as to leave it clear that the 
anti-unionists were right. And it was but conformable with the vicious 
system, long naturalized by necessity in Ireland, that persons even who 
thought with government, should derive personal advantages from 
their compliances. Now, we have no doubt that this very defensible 
class of supporters includes many whose names lie under the heavier 
reproach of an assumed bargain. But these we only mention by the 
way. Had the union been a popular measure, and even indifferent in 
this respect, the accusations and reproach which have been lavished 
would not have been heard of they would have been referred to the 


long-established abuses of Irish administration, and the ordinary 
mediocrity of public virtue- But we lay no stress on these considera- 
tions, and only entered upon them with a view to the charges against 
the government which effected the union. There are three points 
to be taken together, of which little more than the bare statement 
ought to be required. The measure appeared expedient; there was 
but one way to effect it; and that way was one which, though not 
absolutely conformable with abstract principles of political rectitude, 
was in the strictest conformity with the usage of all times. In Ire- 
laud, the wholly anomalous disposition and working of the polity of the 
constitution, which was a mixture of high civilization and barbarism, 
of English law, French republicanism, covert papal jurisdiction, the 
local despotism of the wide-spread confederacies of the many, the 
petulant opposition of the demagogues, the self-interested intrigues of 
the government supporters; all these causes together, composing a 
constitution compacted out of all the abuses incidental to civil society, 
demanded much special contrivance and management for the applica- 
tion of any government whatever. It was easy for Mr Grattan, and 
his good and able companions, to give force to their harangues by 
talking the language of the British constitution. And, considering 
them simply as an opposition, it was all fair enough. It must also be 
confessed that it must have operated as a useful check on a system 
which, from its nature, involved irregularity, and, from the nature of 
man, abuse. We find no fault, but simply object to the vicious echo 
of unfair and inapplicable objections. The government were com- 
pelled to govern, as all governments must, by the use of the forces 
in actual operation in the country. They had not, as then existed, and 
still exists in England, a rightly-informed mass of public opinion, 
itself the time-built result of the British constitution, at their back 
At the same time, to constrain and enforce their sound decision, tliev 


were armed with no well-working system of institutions. They bad 
to deal with a mixed medley of powers, all unconstitutional. Insulted 
and degraded by the dictation of an armed populace, who themselves 
claimed legislative authority, and dictated laws, the parliament was 
but a mart of intrigue, and an arena of faction. There existed an 
abusive instrumentality the only effective principle which could be 
applied, in a defective, irregular, and imperfectly organized constitu- 
tion of things. It was perhaps for the first time applied to a purpose 
of unqualified good to Ireland, and has in that single instance been 
immortalized by very exaggerated reproach. 

To govern such a country, in such times, demanded the indispens- 
able use of those instrumentalities which constituted the whole avail- 
able means of resistance to the headlong impulses of the people. It 
was an act of wisdom to use these for the purpose of sweeping away 
the vicious state of things, which made them thus indispensable. An 
influence which had its basis in corruption, was the fundamental hold- 
fast of Ireland ; by which, for at least twentv years, it hung suspended 
over the abyss of revolution. By corruption, the union was carried the 
venality of some, the accessibility to influence of many; sordid re- 
sources, it is true, but used by the minister to work out a purpose 
essential to the safety and welfare of Ireland. 


Mr Pitt had no selfish end in view; and they who will take the 
trouble to study the public discussions of the subject, which yet re- 
main in many forms on record, will admit that the measure of the 
union was recommended on sufficient grounds of sound policy to ren- 
der such charges unnecessary and vexatious. If there were those (for 
we have only assumed it for argument) who can be said to have bar- 
gained away their public duty, it is no defence for them to say that 
they w r ere unintentionally right; but we are at the same time per- 
suaded, that the heavy weight of political odium which they have thus 
incurred is in no way connected with the assumed or actual turpitude 
of political dishonesty. All popular faction, but especially in this 
country, deals in the most unsparing and indiscriminate imputation. 
The merest abnegation of political opinion is enough to draw from 
its cloud the spark of rancor, inveterate and unsparing. Nor is this a 
matter of reproach: the real burden of the charge. is, not the means 
by which the union was effected; the union itself is the corpus de- 
licti the head and front of the offence. 

That there existed ample reasons to render the union apparently 
essential to the welfare of Ireland, is the whole amount of our propo- 
sition. We enter upon the consideration only so far as concerns our 
own immediate office the rectification of those fallacies which affect 
the reputation of many individuals whose memory deserves better from 
their countrymen. 

If subsequent events have been really such as to warrant a different 
view of the real merits of that great measure, so far as we are con- 
cerned, we may be satisfied to repel any inference to the discredit of 
its main proposers and supporters. It may he right to say, that we 
cannot concur in any such view. It would be perhaps construed 
into a miserable want of frankness, if we avoided the direct affirma- 
tion of an opinion which none of our readers can doubt. And there- 
fore, without entering on a discussion which is here uncalled for, we 
shall give one paragraph to the distinct statement of our opinions. 

We could offer many reasons for thinking that the union has been 
actually the means of opening many civil, and many commercial ad- 
vantages; while it placed Ireland, for the first time, in possession of 
the real benefits of the British constitution, till then but a theory the 
romance of oratory. It also, to a very considerable extent, diminished 
or neutralized the action of numerous vicious and irregular workings, 
which retarded all advances. It introduced the first steps of a spirit of 
British feeling and civilization, by increasing the communication be- 
tween the countries. All these advantages can be fully proved in 
theory, and, to a great extent, verified by the actual results. That 
the whole extent of the proposed advantages has not in every respect 
been attained, must be admitted. For this, there are some evident 
reasons. In the first place, the measure, like all great and extensive 
measures of change like all great revolutions (for it was a revolution, 
the real result of the united Irishmen, and their more sanctioned 
abettors) was attended with its concomitant disadvantages, though all 
in their own nature exceedingly light and transient, if not aggravated 
and perpetuated by other causes. The same popular temper, the 
same party turbulence, and the same inveterate divisions, which had 


previously to the union, aggravated every evil, could not be expected 
to subside, upon the mere eveiit of the union. Against this measure, 
every effort was tried to raise and maintain a feeling of public exas- 
peration; but, above all, the real and direct operation of the union 
was counteracted to the utmost possible extent, by the raising of the 
most exasperating party questions, and by the instrumentality of a small 
body of men, who pursued their objects by the sole agency of popular 
feeling and passion. How far popular agitation should have been re- 
sorted to, for any purpose, would be a distinct question. We can con- 
ceive a danger, so counterbalanced by considerations of justice, as to 
warrant the risk of incurring it; but our affirmation is this, that, owing 
to the continued agitation of the Irish people, the most important bene- 
fits to be expected from the union have been counteracted to an incal- 
culable extent. Commerce has been repelled absenteeism has been 
largely occasioned, and fully justified law has been weakened and dis- 
armed a perpetual conspiracy nourished the most savage murders so 
countenanced by the populace, and so directly traceable to their known 
opinions, as to render them ostensibly the act of a land "where law 
protects not life." Not to multiply such facts. Such are not the pro- 
cesses from which civilization has ever grown: such is not the state 
of things from which it ever will grow. 

While the country continues to be in the arbitrary jurisdiction of 
a populace under whatever name, whiteboys or ribbonmen, and 
while any denomination of the better classes think it essential to tbeir 
purposes, to carry their points by means of this unlawful agency, 
there will be no end to the sufferings of every class in Ireland. They 
only will have peace, who have nothing to defend, or who can afford 
to live elsewherf . 

We have ava.,-.-d ourselves of the known opinions of Dr Duigenan, 
for the last stat..aent of political opinion which we shall offer in this 
work. So far us we can see our way, in the few political memoirs 
which remain, we shall have it in our power to refer the reader to the 
statements alre; >y made. 

Dr Duigenan rose to the stations for which he was, by his talents 
and attainments, pre-eminently qualified. He died in 1816; at which 
time he was a ii ember of the privy council ; judge of the prerogative 
court; Yicar-gei.eral of Armagh, Meath, and Elphin; king's advocate- 
general of the high-court of admiralty. He was also professor of 
civil law in the university. 

He was a mtui of strong intellectual powers, and exceeded by none 
of the many able men of his day in those practical applications of rea- 
son which are called common sense, and which, as the word is gener- 
ally (though wj ongly) taken, deserves a better name. He was not 
possessed of genius, or of the lesser endowments which are considered 
as genius. He was not an orator, and had little command of the arti- 
fices of persuasion or sophistry, or of the flowers and graces which 
captivate the hearer's fancy. These endowments he did not possess, 
or much appreciate. He had a coarse mind, impelled by a sanguine 
temperament; and treated the sophistries of his antagonists with scorn, 
without being even aware that he wounded their pride, and offended 
the taste of his hearers. But he was a man of the kindliest nature, 


and wholly free from the malevolence which will always be imputed 
to those who offend the public and its favourites. 

He has been charged with sycophancy. We have not the materials 
for his defence. But the charges of the writers who were opposed 
to him may be dismissed lightly, for they are too heedlessly made. 
Those gentlemen who find no epithet of scorn too severe for those 
who touch with a breath of disrespect the memory of rebels and con- 
spirators, are keen to find flaws in the characters of the honest and 
wise men who saved the country from their follies and crimes, and 
prompt to put base constructions, wherever they can by any stretch 



BORN A. D. 1755. DIED A. D. 1817- 

THE subject of the present memoir was born in March, 1755. His 
father, the Hon. John Ponsonby, son to the first earl of Besborough, 
was a man of high eminence in his time, having filled the office of 
speaker to the house of commons. 

Mr George Ponsonby received his education at Cambridge, where 
he obtained considerable distinction. In 1780, he was called to the 
bar in Ireland. For some years, he was remarkable chiefly for an appa- 
rent remissness in the avocations of his profession; but circumstances, 
which had their origin in the arrangements of government, having 
operated to reduce his income, the effect was to alter the character of 
his pursuits, and determine him to the laborious and diligent pursuit 
of the law. 

Mr Ponsonby, having found it necessary to enter upon a course of 
serious exertion, soon attained the eminence due to his high and dis- 
tinguished abilities, both as a lawyer and as a member of the Irish 
house of commons. But it is by his political life that he is best known, 
and best entitled to our notice. Deprived of a post of considerable 
emolument, to make way for Mr Marcus Beresford, (of which Mr 
Coppinger had been similarly deprived, to make way for himself,) Mr 
Ponsonby soon made the government aware that it had added another 
formidable name to the list of its opponents. From that time forward 
(the lieutenancy of the marquis of Buckingham), Mr Ponsonby was an 
active and able ally of the party of which we have already had to 
commemorate so many illustrious individuals. 

When lord Clare was raised to the chancery bench, he presented 
his brief-bag to Mr Ponsonby, though his political enemy. The in- 
cident ascertains the high character of Mr Ponsonby in his profession, 
as it cannot be otherwise explained. 

To follow him in the detail of this portion of his life, would involve 
the tedious repetition of topics already discussed so far as there can 
be any object in their discussion. The main questions in which he 
took a prominent part are known by the mention of his party: his 
last act, as a member of the Irish parliament, was opposition to the 


In 1806, a change of parties occurred, favourable to Mr Ponsonby. 
The coalition between lord Grenville and Mr Fox, raised him to the 
dignity of lord chancellor. The administration by which he had been 
appointed was soon dissolved, and he retired with the pension of 
4000 a-year. 

He now commenced a new career, by obtaining a seat in the 
British house of commons. There he quickly became the leader of the 
opposition a clear and strong proof of eminent qualifications. In the 
British parliament, his reputation as a debater stood high: he was clear, 
plain, and forcible. His style was strictly of the logical order; and 
though not remarkable for the ornaments or artifices of the rheto- 
rician, yet polished and correct. He was noted for the facility and 
method of his replies, sometimes coming forward towards the close of 
a long debate, and meeting in due order the several arguments of 
numerous adversaries. He has also been justly praised for his fairness 
and candour in opposition. It is hardly necessary to mention that his 
political conduct was, in the main, regulated by the principles of the 
party to which he had so long been an ornament. 

In the year 1817, during a debate, he was attacked by some 
paralytic affection. In a few days after, he died in London, and was 
buried at Kensington. 

ji^ercules tLangrigf)*, 

DIED 1811. 

IF we were to distribute our space in strict proportion to the intrinsic 
merits of the subject, not many of his eminent contemporaries might 
claim a more full memoir than Sir Hercules Langrishe. During forty 
years, he represented the borough of Knocktopher in the Irish par- 
liament, in which he sustained, throughout, a high character among 
the small knot of talented men with w r hom he was numbered. The 
few of his speeches which have survived, though sadly mangled in the 
imperfect reports of that period, display the mind and powers of an 
orator of the first rank. He was a whig in his politics, and strove, 
according to the views then entertained by his party, for the improve- 
ment and elevation of his country. 

It would be a needless repetition to enter upon the numerous ques- 
tions in which his talent and patriotism were signalized. He was not 
less respectable as a country gentlemen, than distinguished as a pub- 
lic man. Having been for a considerable period resident in the vici- 
nity of which he had been a conspicuous ornament though long after 
his time, we have personally been enabled to observe the recollections 
of affection and respect which have long outlived their object. His 
refined and classic wit his social virtues the happy and graceful 
facility of his pen were remembered and praised by those who could 
well appreciate the better as well as the more brilliant qualifications 
of such a man. Some specimens of his poetry have been preserved, and 
may be seen in Mr Grattan's Life, by his son. They are full of wit, 
character, and spirit; indicate a mastery of the resources of scholarship, 


then so important a part of literature; and, we would say, place their 
author in the foremost rank of the poets of the social or the political 
circles of a time when the faculty of verse was still somewhat of a 

Sir Hercules belonged to a day, and was one of the brightest orna- 
ments of a circle, which, for good or evil its lustre or its darkness 
the world is not likely soon to see again. It must be owing to no 
common combination of incidents, that so many persons so brilliantly 
endowed, and so rich in the excellencies which give a charm to pri- 
vate life, should have fallen so closely into the same circle. The sub- 
ject of this brief memoir; the late chief-justice Bushe; Grattan; Rich- 
ard Power, whose mind, the seat of all refinement, obtained for him 
the appellation of " The Classic ;" the recently departed Sir John 
Power, whose fortune placed him in the centre of the circle, and 
whose head and heart adorned his prosperity, and wo*uld have digni- 
fied any condition ; with many talented and worthy persons, not to be 
named, because their names belong to private life alone and others, 
who still remain ; were the individual components of a brilliant 
society, often brought together by the hospitality of Kilfane. In Kil- 
iane, or at Knocktopher or Floodhall, was frequently assembled, from 
every quarter, the grace, wit, poetry, and talent of Ireland, in her proud- 
est day of talented men ; and all that can charm and wing the hour 
in itself too swift combined to elevate and adorn the social scene. 
Happy, if such scenes were not as transitory as rare! and fortunate, 
if they over whom they breathe the fairest illusions of a world in 
which all is largely mixed with illusion, are not lulled into forgetful- 
ness of the realities which surround them and await them! But we 
forget our " brief." 

Sir Hercules was created a baronet in 1777. He was the first 
who endeavoured to obtain the relaxation of the penal statutes against 
the members of the papal church in Ireland, in 1792 and 1793. 

He took a conspicuous part in the debate, in May, 1782, on the 
duke of Portland's address; in 1783, on Mr Flood's motion for re- 
form. To reform, he was a consistent and steady opponent; and, we 
think, on just grounds, justly applicable at the time. 

Sir Hercules died in 1811. 


BORN 1740 DIED 1818. 

SIR PHILIP FRANCIS was the son of Dr Francis, the translator of 
Horace. He was born in Dublin, but received his education in Eng- 
land, whither he was sent in his tenth year. At the age of sixteen, he 
obtained a clerkship in one of the government offices, where he was 
taken into favour and employment by the elder Pitt, through whose 
influence he was speedily put on the path of honourable exertion. 
Having resigned an appointment in the war-office, by reason of some 


misunderstanding with lord Barrington, he spent some time on his 
travels, in 1772. 

In the following year, he was appointed one of the members of the 
council, in the Indian government, at Bengal. In that station, his 
quarrels with Mr Hastings, the governor, are matter of history. As 
the other two members of council held, or fell into his views, which 
were opposed to that of the governor, Mr Francis was thus placed in 
a most anomalous position one, indeed, not easily reconciled with any 
notion of an efficient administration. The consequence was such as 
could not be avoided. The governor's power was in a measure para- 
lyzed; and as he was placed in a most difficult position nothing but the 
most consummate possession of the qualifications which the juncture 
required, could enable him to act effectively for the safety of the Bri- 
tish empire in India. Mr Hastings was bold, enterprising, prompt, 
dexterous, and unscrupulous: his conduct gave ample scope for oppo- 
sition. Mr Francis tried his temper to the utmost ; and private 
causes of animosity were mingled with and gave force and bitterness 
to those which were official. Mr Hastings frankly insulted his 
opponent, by a letter of the most unsparing reproach ; and in the 
duel which followed, Mr Francis was severely wounded. He resigned 
his office, of which the salary was 10,000 a- year, and returned to 
England, to prepare new troubles for his enemy. 

The history of the impeachment of Mr Hastings needs no repeti- 
tion. It has been already stated as a portion of the life of its illustrious 
conductor. With reference to Mr Francis, it may be enough to state, 
that he had, with the keen apprehension of enmity, observed and trea- 
sured up the faults of Mr Hastings ; and, from his local knowledge, 
was qualified to give the most full effect to their representation. He 
supplied the leaders of the impeachment with materials, added im- 
pulse, and contributed to give weight to their accusations. It was by 
Mr Burke, and Fox, and their associates, considered desirable to 
avail themselves of the knowledge of Mr Francis, by his appointment 
on the committee. But this, the justice of the house of commons 
would not suffer. It would, indeed, have been deeply to be regretted, 
that a just impeachment, which afterwards became the object of great 
unpopularity, should have been entangled with so questionable a pro- 
ceeding. The peculiar acrimony of Mr Francis, was perhaps not then 
so well understood: it would have added much to the reproach. Mr 
Francis himself made, upon the occasion, a speech of great power, and 
remarkable for that characteristic combination of refinement, sim- 
plicity, energy, and point, which have subjected him to the imputation 
of being the author of Junius's Letters. 

Mr Francis possessed too deeply the spirit of defiance, to be otherwise 
than an opponent to government; too much spleen and ambition, to be 
otherwise than a discontented man. He was among the first pro- 
jectors of the reform association, called the friends of the people, by 
a misnomer which never has been fairly examined; but which, in 
most cases, might be corrected not amiss by the term, enemies of their 
rulers. His notions of reform were, like most such systems, erroneous 
inferences from a narrowed view of superficial truths the best defini- 
tion, perhaps, of plausibility. 


Mr Francis was, it is said, once on the point of being sent out to 
India, as governor-general. In 1806, he was made a knight of the 
order of the bath. 

The main subject of his parliamentary speeches was India. In 
1814, he seems to have retired from parliament in disgust, and with 
the resolution of taking no further part in public life. He died 
in 1818. 

It remains to offer a few remarks on a much controverted, but still 
undecided subject. Was Sir Philip Francis the author of the Letters 
of Junius? To enter fully on the discussion of the arguments for 
this opinion, would be an unpardonable waste of our limited space. It 
may be enough to state in what they consist, and to apprize the reader 
that they remain unanswered, but by the general objection, that they 
are not quite conclusive on the point; and that the inference is re- 
pelled on a different ground, which is not quite so satisfactory. Such 
is the state of a question not now to be decided. 

The arguments in the affirmative of this question, are the follow- 
ing: That the style of the letters is similar to that of Sir Philip's 
speeches and known writings; while both are very peculiar and cha- 
racteristic: a strong argument, it must be admitted. This argument 
is corroborated by another similar in its force. Numerous phrases, 
sentiments, figures of rhetoric, and sentences mostly remarkable in 
themselves, coincide either wholly, or too nearly, to be referred to the 
ordinary causes of such coincidences: another argument which, accord- 
ing to the degree in which it can be affirmed, may approach to cer- 
tainty. An additional argument, of less weight, but which derives great 
value from the concurrence of other proofs, is the similarity between 
the character to be attributed to Junius, and the ascertained character 
of Sir Philip. Again, the correspondence in the time, and other cir- 
cumstances of the composition of the letters, with the personal history 
of Sir Philip: his absences and presences; his special knowledge of 
facts ; his discontents, enmities, and friendships. And lastly, we may 
add the consideration due to the whole of such arguments, as complet- 
ing a stated sum of probability, of which each part derives some force 
from all the rest. This is but a brief summary of the argument, which, 
we must confess, leaves no doubt on our mind. To bring its parts 
together, we have omitted a few striking details, which we shall here 
state. It may be sufficient simply to advert to the known veneration 
of Sir P. for lord Chatham. Now, it is remarkable that the only person 
whom Junius drops his wonted acerbity, to compliment in the lan- 
guag-e of enthusiasm, is lord Chatham (Letter 54, col. 1806). 

It has been noticed by more than one historian, that the letters of 
Junius show a minute knowledge of the events which had occurred in 
the war-office, and in the secertary of state's office, and of the chief 
persons connected with them. During the interval between 1763 
and 1 772, Sir Philip was employed in the war-office, which he was 
forced to leave on account of some annoyance from lord Barrington. 
In the same interval, the letters were published; and it has been re- 
marked, that the clerk who was put in his place was honoured with the 
bitter scorn of Junius. " It is curious, indeed, to remark with what 
sort of feelings a person like Junius, who considered the highest 


characters in the kingdom as not game too high for him. regarded an 
ordinary clerk who had been put into his place. We find him, ac- 
cordingly, descending to the lowest and most scurrilous invectives 
whenever he touches on that subject, and evidently uttering the lan- 
guage of a man whose mind is agitated between contempt and indig- 
nation. He calls Chamier, Tony Shamney little Shamney a 
tight active little fellow a little gambling broker little waddle-well 
my duckling little three per cents, reduced a mere scrip of a 
secretary an omnium of all that's genteel. Bradshaw, who was con- 
nected with Chamier, he also mentions as Tommy Bradshaw the 
cream-coloured Mercury, whose sister, Miss Polly, like the moon, 
lives upon the light of her brother's countenance, and robs him of no 
small part of his lustre." It is scarcely too much to say that Mr 
Francis alone could have been the writer of these phrases, utterly be- 
neath the pride of the writer of the haughty letters to Sir William 
Draper; but quite consistent with the self-abandonment of pride, when 
it is deeply and painfully touched. We pass the touch of Irish oratory 
in the moon that robs the sun of " no small part of his lustre," for it 
is not characteristic of either. Perhaps the appointment of Francis, 
soon after, to a place worth 10,000 a-year may be referred in some 
measure to the distinct, though secret understanding, of the formidable 
character he had assumed. 

To this may be added, that Sir Philip is allowed to have been the 
most prompt pamphleteer and letter- writer of his time. It was his 
known habit to address the public journals on all occasions of the 
slightest public interest. Another circumstance maybe mentioned: 
the hand-writing of Sir Philip has been found to be similar to that of 
the original copies of Junius, which Woodfall had preserved. 

The foregoing are but instances to exhibit the general nature of 
this argument, and of the grounds on which it relies. The strongest 
fact of all is the least susceptible of being stated in a general form: 
it consists in the close similarity of the entire constitution and history 
of the characters of Junius and Sir Philip, so far as each can be 
traced. Slighter evidence would be sufficient for a jury upon a capi- 
tal felony. It has now also a weight which it had not when the 
question was formerly discussed. There is at least one remarkable 
precedent as it is upon the force of similar evidence, not more 
strong or complete, that an English barrister identified Sir Walter 
Scott with the author of Waverly. The material was, it is true, more 
abundant for the comparison of styles ; but in many respects the argu- 
ment was far less complete. With such strength of positive proof, 
this curious question seems to be reduced to the consideration of what- 
ever objections can be offered. 

Now, as to objections, we know but of one which merits any notice: 
it is very strong in appearance, but cannot bear examination. We 
mean, the denial of Sir Philip himself. 

That the writer of Junius' Letters, whoever he was, did deny the 
authorship, may be taken for granted. That most public men of that 
day would little hesitate to deny an authorship designed to be con- 

* Editor's Preface to 


cealed, no one will doubt. That there were the most urgent rea- 
sons for such a denial, is as little matter of question. That the 
author of Junius' Letters was a person of as high political stamp and 
intercourse as Sir Philip, and as little likely to shield his own reputa- 
tion, peace, and safety, by a species of falsehood often hazarded by 
men who would not be guilty of any other, will also be admitted, after 
a moment's reflection. Juuius did not consider himself safe: he had 
assailed the highest and most influential public men; he had been in 
consequence denounced and proscribed among the circles in which he 
lived. He had probably now and then to listen to denunciations from 
his own personal friends: he was branded by Dr Johnson's pen as 
sharp, and far more powerful than his own. If he was a young man, 
as the history of Junius himself renders not improbable, (so far as we 
require,) he probably, as he advanced in life, found added reason for 
secrecy. Though the letters were admired as models of a certain 
style, and though many a conceited literateur would compromise all 
shames and fears to wear the plume of Junius, yet such are not the 
feelings which actuate public men of great and admitted abilities. 
To be the author of the letters would have been a small thing to 
Sir Philip. They had not then been enshrined in mystery, and 
exalted by discussions. Sir Philip was not ambitious of admiration 
on the mere ground of style, or to be the reply to a conundrum; but 
he justly shrunk from odium and enmity. It was from a sense of this 
nature, that towards the decline of life he gave up the India questions, 
strongly expressing the sufferings of his life, from the constant vexa- 
tions of party animosity. " By so long endeavouring to maintain 
right against wrong, I have sacrificed my repose, and forfeited all 

hopes of reward and personal advantage As to future personal 

proceedings against any man, I am resolved to take no part in them. 

My spirits are exhausted, and my mind subdued, by a long, 

unthankful, arid most invidious application to one pursuit, in which I 
have never been able to do any good." This was after more than 
thirty years of public life the sentiment of an anxious, restless, and 
irritable mind, which, to use his own expression, was as a sword that 
wore out its scabbard. Such a person was little likely to covet the 
supposed honours of Junius. 

But the denial itself is more than a mere denial: it surely states a 
motive, and that in language which few but Junius would venture to 
breathe. He did not deny it as an indifferent matter, on which he 
thought it incumbent to speak the truth ; he anxiously deprecated the 
assertion of " a silly malignant falsehood." Why was it malignant to 
place upon his aged brow the coveted wreath of Junius? It was ma- 
lignant, because it was a distinction which he feared and shrunk 
from; because in his view, and in the circle of his associations, it 
would crown the old age of a not unhonoured life, with contempt and 
execration. In his apprehension, it was malignant; and his denial 
goes for nothing. There is no reason why he should not have denied 
it, more than why Junius should have denied it. 

We have but one remark to add. We do not mean to attach to the 
authorship of those celebrated letters any portion of the species of 
censure implied in the language here used; we simply would express 


what may well have occurred to Sir Philip. He lived among the 
persons whose enmity, dislike, and condemnation had been drawn forth 
by Junius. He had listened to language, and witnessed a sentiment 
which has not outlived its time. Junius was not a worse libeller than 
many worthy gentlemen now living, with whose names we should not 
think fit to associate the term. The letters were reprehensible in the 
degree that all political personalities are, and not a thousandth part so 
much to be condemned as the anonymous abuse of modern journalism, 
which no one blames, and no wise man cares for. We can easily con- 
ceive young men drawn into such writings, with far less motives than 
Sir Philip; and afterwards, when raised in rank, and improved in feel- 
ing and experience, looking back upon them with feelings of regret 
and shame. 


BORN 1751. DIED 1816. 

THE history of the Sheridans would be a history of the social state 
of their times. The manners, amusements, literature, and the transi- 
tions to which these incidents are subject, in the progress of time. 
Of the grandfather of the eminent person we are now to notice, some 
account has been already given. His father was also a man of con- 
siderable attainments, and eminent in his profession as an actor. 
This gentleman married a Miss Frances Chamberlain, the grand- 
daughter of Sir Oliver Chamberlain. She was the writer of the well- 


known tale of Nourjahad, and other popular works. 

Of this marriage, Richard Brinsley Sheridan was born in Dublin 
in 1751. In his seventh year, he was sent to Whyte's school in 
Grafton street. Here he was only permitted to remain for one year ; at 
the end of which he was, with his brother Charles, removed to Har- 
row. At that eminent school, Dr Robert Suinner was then master, 
and Parr an under-master. It is said that these able scholars quickly 
discovered the early indications of talent in Sheridan, and exerted 
themselves to improve it. They found in him an aptness to learn, in 
a great degree neutralized by the idleness of an over-vivacious temper. 
He was a universal favourite among his school-fellows. He was mis- 
chievous and full of pranks; but this disposition was qualified with 
so much wit and good humour, that he contrived to conciliate his 
masters into something very like connivance. He was praised and 
caressed; and it is quite evident, from the accounts of Dr Parr, that 
his ambition was gratified without any effort, by the praise of acknow- 
ledged talent. A great misfortune, as it was the means of diverting 
him from that application which would have given their proper aim 
to his eminent abilities, and enabled him to bear a masterly part 
in those great questions in which, notwithstanding his gifts of the 
first order, he can only be said to have floated on the surface. Thus, 
also, a strong and craving vanity w r as early nursed, and became too pro- 
minently the spring and guide of his conduct; often leading him into 
degrading associations, and always giving a tinge to his character, 

///.O - 


/// // '/ // /'/ 

- , ' . 


which in some way lowers his most honourable actions. Anxious for 
admiration, and no less sedulous to maintain the reputation of a gifted 
idler, he gradually fell into the habit of secret study; and, by unob- 
served efforts, he made himself master of the principal authors read in 
schools. This feature of his character is important to fix on the 
reader's mind, as one of the leading clues to much that is peculiar in 
his after-life. " To seem in all things superior to effort to preserve 
the dignity of seeming indifference to conceal failure, and magnify 
success,"* are indeed common dispositions; and with these the heart 
that has been taught to live on the smiles of the world, will become 
at last identified. 

Of his first attempts in literature, it will not be necessary to say 
much in a short memoir. They were pursued in partnership with a 
highly gifted and amiable youth, a Mr Halhed, his schoolfellow at 
Harrow, who was afterwards early successful, and would have risen 
to eminence; but having been sent out to India, he came home 

Sheridan continued at Harrow until he had attained his eighteenth 
year; when he was removed to his father's house in London. His 
father contributed his own share to his education, and perfected him 
in the essentials of grammar and oratory. The removal of his 
family to Bath seems to have placed his genius in its more appropri- 
ate soil. His fine perceptions, and his disposition to satire, found 
ample food, in a place where the infirmities of human character flourish 
with their fullest luxuriance, and where the genius of sarcasm and 
scandal has made its most favoured abode. Here he studied human 
life with the eye of a wit, and drew that knowledge of manners, and 
that keen sense of human weaknesses and vices, which constitutes his 
genuine claim to the immortality of literature. 

Their removal to Bath took place in 1770. His father's connection 
with the stage brought the family into an immediate intimacy with that 
of Mr Linley, the celebrated musical composer. With his daughter, 
herself eminent as a vocalist of the first order, young Sheridan fell in 
love. Miss Linley was no less celebrated for her talents than for her 
beauty; and he had numerous rivals. She was the rage of the hour: the 
young men of the city were fired with admiration ; and among Sheridan's 
rivals were many of his own friends. He courted his mistress, as he 
studied, in jealous secrecy; and while many preferred their suits, and 
were rejected, he alone passed without suspicion. No romance is 
more deeply diversified with crosses and constancy, and the whole 
train of those vicissitudes of sentiment which though only celebrated in 
fiction, are no less known in reality, than the history of Mr Sheridan's 
courtship. We must here be content to select some incidents, too 
prominent to be wholly passed without note. Miss Linley had been 
proposed for by a Mr Long, a gentleman considered to have 200,000. 
He was accepted by her father; but was privately applied to by herself, 
with an entreaty that he would withdraw his suit. With a rare 
generosity, Mr Long not only complied, but took upon himself the 
danger of breaking off the match. Mr Linley took legal proceedings, 
and was indemnified with 3000. 

* Dublin University Magazine, April, 1837. 

VCL,. VI. G 


Among- the numerous incidents belonging to this portion of our 
memoir, there was one attended by very serious consequences. Among 
the admirers of Miss Linley was a Mr Matthews, a married man, who 
was intimate with her family; and who, presuming on her profession, 
began to persecute her with attentions which could only be received 
as insults. Repelled in these odious advances, he had recourse to 
menace ; and she felt herself compelled to disclose the circumstances to 
her lover. His feelings need not be explained. He immediately 
proceeded to expostulate with Matthews; but his remonstrances had 
no effect. Terrified by such ruffianly and deg'rading importunities, and 
disgusted with a profession which exposed her to them, Miss Linley 
came to the resolution of flight. Sheridan, who it may be assumed 
was her adviser, borrowed the needful means from his sister, and 
accompanied her. Her plan was to take refuge in a French convent. 
Of the achievement of this exploit, we only state the main outline. 
The time was taken, when the family were engaged at a concert; and, 
with a proper female companion, the fugitives made their way to 
London. There it naturally occured that the only remedy for the 
dangers attendant upon such a step was an immediate marriage; and 
they were married accordingly. 

The romance was not to terminate with the wedding. The morti- 
fied pride of Matthews could not acquiesce in being so frustrated by a 
rival whom he perhaps had too readily despised. He satisfied his 
vengeance by calumnies and misrepresentations, some of which appeared 
through the medium of the Bath Chronicle. These found their way 
to Mr Sheridan, who wrote to threaten vengeance; and who shortly 
returned, with that purpose, to London. He found his way at a late 
hour of the night to the lodging of Mr Matthews, and was for a long 
time detained at the door, on pretence that the key could not be found. 
When this artifice failed, he was at length admitted. Matthews met 
his remonstrances with an altered tone, and endeavoured to appease 
him. With this view, he had recourse to lies: he told him that the 
reports of which he complained, were circulated by his own brother, 
Mr Charles Sheridan, in Bath. Sheridan at once went off to Bath, 
saw his brother, and ascertained the falsehood of the assertion. Both 
brothers returned to London, and Sheridan immediately challenged 
Matthews. Matthews showed no very keen appetite for cold steel, and 
many delays and changes of place took place on this meeting. At 
last they engaged with swords, in the Castle tavern, Henrietta street. 
They were not long confronted, when Sheridan contrived to strike his 
antagonist's sword aside, and, running in, caught his sword-arm by the 
wrist. Matthews asked his life, and, after some efforts at evasion, 
was compelled to retract his calumnious statements, in a writing which 
was inserted in the Bath Chronicle. 

Mr Matthews withdrew from the painful notoriety which attended 
this defeat, and attempted to shroud his wounded reputation in the 
retirement of his Welsh estate. He was, however, assailed by the con- 
dolences of some " damned good-n:itured friend,'' who soon convinced 
him that he might as well meet the sword of his enemy as the 
tongues of his neighbours. How long, or by what process of persua- 
sion and mortified rumination, the courage of Matthews was rouse.l 


from its torpor, we are not enabled to state. His valour was screwed, 
we presume, '-to the sticking point;" and he set off with his friend, 
once more to seek and brave the trial of cold iron. The parties once 
more met, but with a different result. Unfortunately, Mr Sheridan 
thought to conclude the affair as on the former occasion, by a coup 
de main, and rushed upon his antagonist, laying himself quite open. 
He was received on his point, and severely wounded. The sword, 
coming against one of Mr Sheridan's ribs, was broken; and the 
parties closed and fell, Matthews being uppermost. On the ground, 
a most brutal strife followed, on which the seconds appeared to 
have looked with blameable remissness. Matthews, after several 
attempts to wound his antagonist with his broken sword, recovered the 
point, with which he wounded him in the belly. He received a similar 
wound from Mr Sheridan, whose sword was also broken. His second, 
now called out, " My dear Sheridan, beg your life!" This advice was 
also repeated by the other second; for this seems to have been the 
etiquette of such encounters. " No, by G , I won't!" was the reply. 
They now resolved to interfere; and the parties were, with their 
own consent, disarmed, and withdrawn from the scene. 

The result was, that a strong suspicion of the fact of their marriage 
was raised ; and Sheridan's father, still in the hope to guard against such 
an event, sent him for a time upon a visit to some friends in Essex. 
The youthful pair still continued to guard their secret, as, both parties 
being under age, they feared the marriage might be dissolved. 
Sheridan remained in this afflicting separation, of which the suffering 
was greatly augmented by the natural jealousy of his temper; and his 
painful apprehensions were increased by a consideration of the pecu- 
liarly exposed condition of his wife. 

After much distressful and harrassing endurance, and some stolen 
interviews, Mr Linley became convinced of the inutility of any effort 
to separate them, and at last consented to their marriage. A second 
and more formal celebration accordingly took place, in the spring- of 

The first step taken by Mr Sheridan was, to refuse his consent to 
the engagement which had been made for his wife as a public singer. 
They retired to a cottage at East Burnham, from which they removed 
in winter to London. 

It will not be necessary further to pursue this part of his life in any 
detail. His wit and reputation for talent was set off by his adven- 
tures, and by the accomplishments and pleasing manners of his wife; 
and they were received in the best society. 

Sheridan now commenced his brilliant career as a dramatist. la 
the summer of 1774, he had finished his well-known comedy of " The 
Rivals," in which he seems to have taken some hints from his recent 
adventures with Matthews. The first reception of this comedy was 
not answerable to the character it afterwards attained, and still bears. 
It came forth with the errors of inexperience about it, and, among other 
detects, had that least of all likely to pass the trial of an audience: it 
took four hours in the acting a test which few, if any, plavs ever 

O e/ 1 * 

written would be likely to escape without some show of impatience. 
It was coldly received; but the prompt sagacity of the anlho'* took the 


hint, and, before the next representation, it was trimmed into more 
current form and dimension. It was then received with the favour 
due to its characteristic power, and took its place as a stockpiece 
among the most popular plays in the language a success which 
may be said to stamp its claim, whatever may be conceded to the 
criticism which has discerned its faults as a representation of charac- 
ter. It effects the object of the author to amuse and instruct by 
ridicule. The faults and weaknesses of his persons might, it is true, 
be delineated with a more fine and feeling hand, and more conform- 
ably to nature and reality. They might also be worked into consider- 
able dramatic effect by the coarser and more common method of the 
plot, in which actions are followed up to their consequences. But it 
is equally legitimate, and more appropriate to the species of follies 
which are the subject of " The Rivals," to treat them with the appropri- 
ate edge of ridicule. This is done in the manner most suited to a 
mixed audience, by the humourous exaggeration of caricature a 
species of satire agreeable to the custom and taste of all times, and 
founded on the principle that much of the absurdity of human con- 
duct can be represented in no other way. The real operation of the 
folly of Lydia Languish would probably consist in a course of secret 
impulses, and nearly evanescent acts, which, separately taken, would be 
in no way ridiculous. To expose them, they are to be converged in the 
concave mirror of satire. Nor is there in this anything really un- 
natural: it is effective as a sort of practical exemplification, in which 
absurdities are carried to their legitimate consequences, and displayed 
apart from the tissues of reality. In life, the duellist is also a man, and 
lias the common interests and pursuits of other men; in the satire, he 
is a duellist, and no more. The drama does not represent life in the 
abstract, or even the whole life and character of its heroes: it selects 
an incident of their lives, in which some ruling virtue or vice, weakness 
or absurdity, is brought out, and becomes the spirit of the hour. Such 
a consideration strongly enforces the justness of the mode of delineation 
wi'ich has been in some measure blamed in " The Rivals." The satire 
i.s not the representation of the man, but of the folly. It is an infirmity 
realized for the moment, by dressing it in the features of humanity. 
Once more let the character of Mrs Malaprop be considered: the slip- 
slops which distil so amusingly from her tongue are in no one instance 
more extravagant than the lamentable reality: no absurdity is too gross 
ibr the flippant and conceited tongue of an ignorant and shallow 
woman, with a pedantic temper and a half education; as was very 
common in the last century. Such blunders were but occasional ; and 
how was this disgusting absurdity to be touched by any delinea- 
tion pretending to the character of reality? Surely it Mrs Malaprop 
had only fallen into one dull flippancy in the whole representation, the 
point must wholly have escaped; or, if observed, it would have been 
considered as the mistake of the author. But Mrs Malaprop was 
simply the impersonation of feminine slipslop, and her blunders touched 
into perfection by the wit of the satirist. It is not the less exact as 
a specimen, hecause it is qualified by a ludicrous felicity. Of the 
cowardice of Bob Acres, we should observe that it is a most k>? n 
dissection of the workings of a passion in itself most singularly 


characterized by the opposite extremes of the ludicrous and awful. 
Such are its different aspects to the looker-on and the subject of it. 
There is no passion so resisted and subdued by the pride of manhood: 
it only obtains power where there is unusual folly and imbecility; and 
its real tendencies and suggestions, when betrayed, are so disgusting, 
that it requires to be set off by the playful absurdity of the satirist, 
to bear the light of popular representation. 

Sheridan's school was the world. His observation was keen; but it 
was the observation of a wit, and not of a philosopher. Of the facts 
to be collected from society, from self-experience, and from the occa- 
sional reaches of mind in thought or composition, he was master. 
His mind worked within a narrow compass; and this may be said 
upon his own authority. " There are," he said, " on every subject, but 
a few leading and fixed ideas; their tracks may be traced by your 
own genius, as well as by reading.'' This dictum, expounded by the 
actual productions of Sheridan, of every kind, indicates at once the 
real machinery, and the limit of his intellectual power. He had not 
in view the comprehensive application of principles, for this was not in 
his writings or habits. His fixed ideas were but practical resting- 
places for the memory and fancy a popular system, beginning in 
certain common elements of practice, rules, maxims, and established 
facts. But we must not suffer our pen to be led away by distinctions 
which, however just, demand more space than we have at our disposal. 

At this period, Mr Sheridan was anxious to make his way into 
political life. He commenced by the writing a reply to Dr Johnson's 
pamphlet, " Taxation no Tyranny." His indolence, in an effort for which 
he had naturally no vocation, was perhaps the cause of his not having 
completed it. The fragments published by his biographer do not 
display much of the talent suited to the antagonist whom he had 
selected, or the nature of the subject. 

Sheridan became, not long after, a member of the celebrated Literary 
Club: he was proposed by Johnson, with the observation that " he who 
had written the two best comedies of his age, is surely a considerable 
man." This occured in 1777- 

Although he did not permit Mrs Sheridan to appear on the public 
stage, yet his circumstances were not such as altogether to dispense 
with the profitable employment of her singular talents. And this was 
rendered the more necessary by the extravagant habits of life into 
which he was led by his social tastes and accomplishments. Private 
concerts were had recourse to, and in some measure assisted to supply 
the waste of their profuse living. Their house became for a time one 
of the gay centres of festivity ; and if income was obtained from various 
sources, it went out something faster than it came in. But it was the 
season of youth, and hope, and power, and high friends, and splendid 

It is indeed a curious, but melancholy consideration, that now, even 
in the heyday of his life, when the path to fortune and the attractions 
of the world, in their brightest form and hue, seemed opening before 
him, and all was enjoyment of the present, and gay hope for the 
future, the causes of ruin were already sprung up around him, and, 
though slowly, yet surely, preparing a future day of gloom and deser- 


t;on. There is a strong 1 and feeling 1 contrast between the pecuniary 
embarrassment which was entangling him, and the festal abandonment 
of his home, and the brilliant increase of his fame. Those hours which 
were not engrossed by the serious game of politics, were devoted to 
mirth and frolic. Besides the social and convivial wit for which he is 
remembered, he was equally addicted to, and successful in, practical 
jokes; and of this many curious stories have been preserved by Mr 
Moore and other biographers. By Mr Moore we are told, that " he 
delighted in all sorts of dramatic tricks and disguises; and the lively 
parties with which his country-house was always filled, were kept in 
momentary expectation of some new device for their mystification 
or amusement." 

"The Duenna" appeared on the 21st November, 1775, at Covent- 
garden: it ran for 95 nights. The merits of this celebrated opera are 
so generally known, that we may hold ourselves absolved from any 
criticism. The comments of which it has been the subject would, if 
mentioned, require several paragraphs of analysis, which our readers 
will excuse, and for which we have not room. 

In the same year, he entered into a treaty with Garrick for Drury- 
lane theatre. Garrick was about to retire into private life, having 
realized an ample fortune. They had become acquainted at the table 
of Reynolds, and were, as they should have been, soon warm friends. 
Garrick seems to have thought that Sheridan's dramatic genius would 
give new life and success to that theatre, which he had for some years 
found it not easy to manage. Ten thousand pounds was to be paid by 
Sheridan. The sum was advanced by two of his friends, who were se- 
cured by mortgages upon his share in the concern. Mr Linley joined 
to the same amount, and Dr Fordyce to the amount of 15,000. The 
rest of the estate continued with Mr Garrick's partner. 

Sheridan was, as he said, resolved upon success; and he argued that 
of this laudable resolution, success must be a consequence. Such a 
consequence must depend on means and causes, which are too often for- 
gotten in the computation. Yet Sheridan had strong grounds for con- 
fidence: he possessed within himself a rich mine of wit and dramatic 
invention ; and had not indolence, the thirst for dissipation, and the ill- 
regulated ambition which drew him into the field of politics, inter- 
fered to relax and counteract the bent of his mind, and divert his 
talents from their proper aim, we should be inclined to look with 
similar confidence to the result of his exertions. In addition to these 
disqualifying tendencies, he was utterly without that commercial pru- 
dence, attention, and calculation, without which the most prosperous 
circumstances will be neutralized. He had not a due sense of economy, 
or any apprehension of the real effects of debt. He spent profusely 
what he had, and what he had not, and seldom looked beyond the suc- 
cess or the triumph of the hour. 

His first effort disappointed his friends. The alteration of Van- 
burgh's comedy of "The Relapse" was a failure: the "School for 
Scandal," however, appeared in May 1777, and made amends. For 
years, this distinguished piece eclipsed all other dramatic productions. 
It still holds its place at the head of the comic drama. Many things 
have been written or said, tending to diminish this praise. The pains 


it cost the author has been noticed; its moral has been assailed; and 
the very authorship questioned. On the latter of these points, we do 
not consider it necessary to speak; it is simply foolish. On the others 
we may make a few remarks, as it is on his dramatic achievements 
alone that the true fame of Sheridan must rest. 

To say that any degree of slow and careful elaboration, by which 
the most consummate excellence of art can be produced, can diminish 
the praise of success, would display an ignorance of the powers, and 
a misconception of the character and resources of genius: it involves 
a confusion between the ideas of excellence and rapidity, which latter 
is more frequently an indication and a result of mediocrity. This 
ought to be understood. As the faculties augment in power, the first 
consequence must be a proportional enlargement and perfection of the 
standard conceptions of excellence;, and consequently a still greater in- 
crease in the difficulties of execution, which must fall short of the 
poet's or artist's taste, in proportion as it approaches the perfect stand- 
ard. Here then is evidently shown an inverse ratio between power 
and rapidity, so far as such inferences are to be allowed. As the 
standard rises, the labour of art becomes more and more infinite: 
mediocrity alone, aiming at little, soon arrives at its imagined per- 
fection. If it may, with some speciousness, be replied, that in the 
actual instance under consideration, the application of this principle 
is not very precise as promptness is essential to the merit of wit, it 
would not be difficult to show the misconception contained in such an 
objection: it simply shifts the question from art to conversational 
power. The power is the same, but differently used: the same talent 
which can exhilarate and arouse the social circle by the rapid and rich 
play of point and allusion, contrast and comparison, is capable of the 
most unbounded elaboration, and is subject to all the gradations of 
improvement. The same principle applies to all that can be done by 
the power of art. The highest aim prescribes the deepest elaboration, 
and no elaboration can create the power. " A thousand years of 
labour could not have enabled Hayley to write ' Comus,' or Cum- 
berland the 'School for Scandal.'"* The materials for this comedy 
seem to have been accumulating from an early period of his life, and 
to a considerable extent are to be traced to the associations of his 
sojourn in Bath. The steps of its progress have been traced by Mr 
Moore in details too long for this work, but curiously, and on a scale 
of unusual breadth, disclosing the secrets of the midnight lamp. 

Much has been said of the defects in the conduct of the story or 
plot of this, as of Sheridan's other plays. The real interest of the 
" School for Scandal" is not properly to be sought in the plot, or in the 
progress of its incidents, but in the truth and happy boldness of the 
satire. We do not therefore concur in the criticism which has 
analyzed a part of the design which had no existence. The truest 
and severest picture of the manners and morals of a time needs no 
aid from the common charm of the circulating library. But it 
challenges criticism on a different score the moral perversion dis- 
played in the brothers Charles and Joseph Surface, in whose charac- 

* Dublin University Magazine. 


ters libertinism is adorned, and virtue degraded, so as to convey a 
corrupt and thoroughly false impression to the spectator. This caii- 
not indeed be denied by the most practical critic, who is not ready to 
betray the most sacred duty of his office: and we must not only ad- 
mit the severe strictures which have been often repeated on the 
flagitious misrepresentation which is the signal stain upon this great 
masterpiece; but strongly, as is our duty, impugn the defence which 
has been set up for Sheridan, by his admirers. It has been de- 
fended by the assertion that there was worse before it, and that 
a service was done to morals, by the exposure of the hypocritical Jo- 
seph Surface, while the irregularities of his brother are set off by the 
bright example of his natural virtues. Were open profligates com- 
monly persons of exalted worth, and were persons apparently of strict 
moral conduct commonly secret villains ; if such a transposition of the 
realities of human nature actually were to exist, something might be 
said in defence of the representation. It would have at least the merit 
of truth, though it would unhappily be a better argument for vice than 
vice has yet been able to find. But the hypocrite and the libertine are 
the creations of the dramatist: referred to reality, they are among the 
accidents of a vicious state of society, and not properly the subject of 
moral portraiture. In real life they may exist; but they are a mor- 
bid specimen, and should not be selected. The truth must be said: 
there was a state of society, when it was felt to be an object to sneer 
down religion and decorum, and to invest profligacy with the grace 
and dignity of virtue. The preposterous transfer was welcome to the 
gay and the vicious (the friends of the author), and was the honour and 
glory of the piece. It helped the cause of dissipation, and swelled the 
triumph of dice, drunkenness, and drabbiug, against "grave advice 
with scrupulous head." Every one knows that the favourite cant of 
open profligacy is, the charge of "hypocrisy" against those who 
scandalize it by decency; and the effect of a contrast like Sheridan's, 
in favour of vice, must be, so far as it goes, to bring into disrepute all 
the higher moralities, and to shed a gay charm around the libertine. 
On the other hand, so far as the representation can be said to apply, 
it can have no effect whatever: the Joseph of reality still has his 
secret to himself. The profligate will wear the plume woven for him; 
but he is not bound to maintain a stock of concealed goodness, for 
some dramatic denouement: he will be content, with Charles, to have 
credit for virtues on the score of profligacy and vice. 

In 1778, Sheridan had made a further investment in Drury-lane, to 
the amount of 45,000. He had been reconciled with his father, and 
on this occasion used his newly acquired power to make him manager. 
It was hoped that the father's experience might compensate for the 
imprudence of his son. 

Garrick died January, 1779- Sheridan attended as chief mourner 
at his funeral. On this occasion he wrote the longest of his poems. 
Of his poetry, we shall not say anything in this cursory sketch: the 
consideration would lead us too far. According to our estimate, his 
mind possessed no poetry, save the rhetoric; and even in this, we 
should have important deductions to make. As a poet, his best suc- 
cess is the ballad, in which his point, his sentiment, and his not uu- 


lyrical ear, combined in his behalf. This is sufficiently apparent in 
the songs of "The Duenna." 

In the same year "The Critic" appeared, and to some extent main- 
tained the reputation of Sheridan. But the difficulties in which the 
theatre began to be entangled were beyond the powers of prose or 
verse. His father was little competent, in his old age, to deal with 
perplexities which, in a far milder form, had been too much for the 
vigour of his youth. He resigned; and the plot began to thicken on 
the "Road to Ruin." 

But the gloomy chasm that was to swallow up the brightness of 
Sheridan's career was for many years to be concealed by other suc- 
cesses. His brilliant powers, ail pre-eminently of the social order, had 
brought him prominently into the highest circles, and made for him 
friends of the leading whigs of the time. It had long been the favour- 
ite object of his ambition, to try his fortune, and display his powers on 
the stage of politics. The friendship of Fox decided him. 

To pass superfluous detail, he obtained his desire. He was brought 
into parliament as member for Stafford. A petition complaining of 
undue election gave him a favourable occasion for the display of his 
eloquence; but his debut, owing to nervous excitement, was unsatis- 
factory. Such an impediment could not long retard powers of such 
an order; and though he prudently avoided committing himself for a 
time on great questions, he gradually convinced the house of his 

We do not consider the politics of Sheridan such as to demand an 
excuse for venturing into the history of his time, or of the questions 
which occupied the orators and statesmen who then lived. We must 
therefore endeavour to adhere to a strict course of personal history. 
From the outset of his political life, he is to be seen as the friend 
and follower of Mr Fox. While he mainly adopted the principles of 
that great man, and seconded the party movements of which he was 
the conductor, his own tact, address, and keen common-sense, enabled 
him to keep clear of many of the disadvantages of a violent popular 
faction; and he knew how to avail himself of the connections thus 
obtained, to raise his own position, and wind his way to favour. He 
thus found access to the prince of Wales, and soon attained, by his wit 
and address, the confidence and companionship of his pleasures and 

The reader is most probably acquainted with the general state of 
parties at the time: we have sufficiently described it in Burke's memoir. 
The country was menaced by a violent influx of revolutionary prin- 
ciples, represented in the person and party of Mr Fox. With this party 
the prince was for a time connected. They fought his battles, and 
swelled his state. His extravagance had led him into difficulties his 
associations had involved him in the just displeasure of the king, who 
hoped to break such alliances, and induce his heir to marry, by making 
it a condition of the payment of his debts. Such a compromise was re- 
jected by the prince; and several years of painful disunion afflicted his 
father, and promoted the objects of his political friends, by making 
their talents useful. He was thrown into the arms of as debauched 


and unprincipled a set of projectors, parasites, and profligates, as ever 
degraded a court. 

For Sheridan, as for Mr Fox, it is to be said, that they were actu- 
ated rather by their own tastes arid propensities, than by any low 
motive by which men are likely to court favour in courts. However 
the friendship of the prince might appear to promise future political 
advantages, their own tempers, passions, and pursuits, were ail in the 
same track ; and the prince was not one to whom any companion could 
fail to become attached. 

Through the entire of the protracted negotiations which were con- 
sequent upon the prince's difficulties, Sheridan was the nearest in his 
confidence the partaker of his counsels and of his amusements. In 
this latter capacity, his spirit of mischievous frolic had ample range ; 
and many stories are told of his exploits of practical humour. If the 
outbreaks of their gaiety are less equivocal than the nocturnal sallies 
of prince Hal, and the revelry of the Boar's Head, they are not far 
short in mischief, and far superior in wit. In that grave play of spe- 
cious knavery, which mystifies the victim of a jest, Sheridan was 
unrivalled. Of this, the instances which have been repeated by 
numerous biographers and collectors of anecdote are numerous; and 
among the best of their kind. 

The climax of his renown as an orator rose from the impeach- 
ment of Mr Hastings. It is needless to estimate the precise 
value of the praise his celebrated speech obtained: it answered the 
highest uses of praise to its object. We shall offer some remarks at 
the close of this memoir, on this and some other points of the same 

His father died in 1788; and the attendant circumstances, in them- 
selves unimportant, brought into evidence the natural strength of his 
filial affections. 

In 1791? he received a severer blow, in the death of his wife. Her 
health had been shaken by the heavy labours which she undertook, to 
regulate and keep order in the tangled engagements and perplexed 
affairs of her husband; in which she manifested the most admirable 
patience, industry, and talent. A cold, operating on a naturally 
delicate habit, seems to have brought on her last illness. She received 
the most tender and assiduous attention from her husband, who sat up 
night after night by her death-bed. 

In 1795, he was again married to Bliss Ogle, daughter to the dean 
of Winchester. His party at this time was crumbling away: the 
views they had espoused had begun to be exposed by facts; and a deep 
reaction, set in motion by the eloquence of Mr Burke, was confirmed 
by events. Sober men began to shake off the revolutionary delusions of 
the day, and to perceive the importance of rallying in defence of insti- 
tutions. Sheridan was not slow to follow the dictates of reason, and 
became for a time the object of reproaches to the leaders whose 
intrigues for place were defeated by his address. 

In 1798, he brought out "The Stranger" and " Pizarro" well- 
known adaptations from the German Kotzebue. 

In 1804, he obtained the receivership of the duchy of Cornwall, 


from the prince of Wales, "as a trifling proof of that friendship his 
royal highness had felt for him for a long series of years." 

In the autumn of 1807, he entered into a treaty with Mr Jones of 
Dublin, long well-known to the Irish public as the spirited proprietor 
of Crow-street theatre. It seems to have been a part of the agreement, 
that Mr Sheridan should write a play within the given time of three 
years. This agreement was arranged in the form of a bet for 500 
guineas, which was agreed on by the parties in presence of Mr Richard 
Power and Mr Becher, who joined in the bet. 

As we have already intimated, Drury-lane theatre, had from the 
beginning, been a source of embarrassment and extreme annoyance to 
its proprietors. The petty squabbles of the company of actors and 
actresses, the accumulation of debts, the doubtful and controverted 
rights, and the occasional lawsuits to which they gave rise, became 
too much even for the natural insousiance of Sheridan. This state of 
things was aggravated by an accident. He was attending a debate, 
when word came that the theatre was on fire. He left the house, and 
proceeded to the scene, when he witnessed with surprising calmness 
the destruction of his whole property. 

In 1811, the arrangements for rebuilding the theatre were complete. 
And among these the interests of Sheridan were attended to. He was 
to receive 20,000, out of which different claims were to be satisfied. 
It was also a stipulation, that he should have no concern or connection 
of any kind with the new undertaking. Such a condition strongly indi- 
cates the impression which existed as to his utter unfitness for any con- 
cern in the conduct of business. In truth, with every kindly, amiable, 
and generous impulse, he was incapable of bringing home to his mind 
the urgent sense of duty, of right, or of obligation, or any of the prin- 
ciples which are essential to the whole commerce of life. Such con- 
siderations were, in a mind of which buoyant levity was the character- 
istic quality, only known as elements of rhetoric, and the flourishes of 
sentimental poetry. Mr Moore's observations on the transaction here 
related, are too important in this point of view to be omitted. Having 
mentioned that the adjustment of the affairs of the theatre were under- 
taken by Mr Whitbread, he proceeds: "It would be difficult indeed to 
find two persons less likely to agree in a transaction of this nature, 
the one, in affairs of business, approaching almost as near to the 
extreme of rigour, as the other to that of laxity. While Sheridan, 
too, like those painters who endeavour to disguise their ignorance of 
anatomy by an indistinct and fuzzy outline, had an imposing method 
of generalizing his accompts and statements, which to most eyes (arid 
most of all to his own,) concealed the negligence and fallacy of the 
details ; Mr W T hitbread, on the contrary, with unrelenting accuracy, laid 
open the minutia3 of every transaction, and made evasion as impossible 
to others, as it was alien and inconceivable to himself."* The light, 
inconsiderate, and volatile frame of Sheridan's temper \vas as a butter- 
fly impaled upon the needle of the artist writhing and fluttering to 
escape to his zephyrs and his flowers. Mr Whitbread did not com- 
prehend the levity and the ingenuity that would load to-morrow with 

* The italics are not Mr Moore's in the above extract : they are intended to 
ruark the passages bearing mainly upon our own statement. 


calamity and ruin, to make to-day run smoothly; and this was the life 
and soul of Sheridan. On Sheridan's part, the collisions which arose 
in their proceedings were embittered by distress and wounded pride. 

Among these annoyances, one alone requiresourimmediatenoticenow. 
He applied for an advance of 2000, for the purpose of securing his 
election for the borough of Stafford. But as this advance would have 
been premature, and anticipate the state of his accompts, it was refused. 
The refusal was perhaps harsh, but it was strictly right, and was 
peculiarly the result of all Sheridan's conduct. It is one of the cases 
in which opinion is seldom just, and in which justice is sometimes 
difficult. In looking back on the history of men like Sheridan so 
light, brilliant, and unfortunate, we cannot help seeing through the 
light of those consecrating recollections which follow departed genius. 
There was nothing in poor Sheridan's character to command either 
the respect or sympathy of men of strict principle and sober conduct. 
But it was nevertheless a blow that gave the last sad impulse to his 
declining career. The dark spirit of ruin, to which he had sold his 
life, had followed his progress through court, and senate, and stage, 
with invisible steps, but steady malignity of eye: it now began to 
tread closer on the heels of the victim, and to claim the fatal price. 
The known prospect of 20 ; 000 was a dangerous signal to his credi- 
tors. The precise detail of the state of his affairs at this time, we 
have not been able to learn; nor is it further important than the 
general fact: he \vas dipped beyond his means in debt, though it 
is mentioned that there was still some balance remaining over and 
above the debts, to which he was rendered subject by the arrange- 
ments of the committee for the management of Drury -lane. 

We must here, in passing, say (and we only say it that our silence 
may not be misinterpreted) that we w r holly disagree with, and deeply 
disapprove of, the comments of some other writers on the transactions 
of this period of Sheridan's life, as uucandid and unjust. It is vain 
to palliate his follies and his misconduct at the expense of just and 
honest men. There is something gratuitous in the misrepresentation 
of circumstances, and the misconstruction of the motives of those 
who have been charged with that neglect which was the inevitable 
result of his own conduct, of the position in which he had placed 
himself, and of the degrading changes which he had undergone: they 
can serve no good end. It is not by dealing wrongful imputations 
that a great man's memory is to be redeemed from the censure of 

These remarks have their object; and, let it be said, are written 
with a constrained and temperate hand. We do not consider the 
memory of George IV., whatever were the real faults of the man or 
of the prince, less important to history than that of Mr Sheridan. 
Both are long beyond the reach of satire or partial praise, which 
must fall ineffective on the " dull cold ear of death." But we cannot 
let pass the pernicious implication, that it is the claim of brilliant 
social and literary talents to be protected at the expense of other men 
from the consequences of folly and infirmity. Let these considera- 
tions be our excuse if we deal unceremoniously, but fairly, with the 
latter days of poor Sheridan. And let us further preface this division 


of our task with the remark, that for talent, or even for genius, ex- 
clusive of moral worth, we profess no veneration, and consider such a 
popular fallacy. Considered in itself, genius is simply power, valuable 
according to the use. It is the lofty moral and spiritual qualities 
which ought to be the result of a broader and higher range of mind, 
and of more large and purer sympathies, which give their grace, love- 
liness, and dignity to the poet of nature and to the philosopher of 
truth, and which demand the honour of mankind or awaken the enthu- 
siasm of the observer. But we cannot be compelled to pay this high 
tribute to the man who has in his life displayed great powers, stripped 
of all these nobler attributes. We cannot consent to crown and gild 
a vicious model, or to add to the spurious wreath of praise twined by 
the hand of calumny. 

During the closing years of his life, changes had been taking 
place in Sheridan, consequent upon his habits, which were such as 
to wear out the very bonds of the nearest relations of life, and 
which must have rendered him less the object of sympathy, and 
entirely cancelled the common claims which pass for friendship in the 
world. It was felt to be past the reach of all effective kindness to 
raise him from a condition, not more ruinous from its actual amount 
of evil, than hopeless from the increase of those infirmities which 
brought it on. He was in head and heart, mind and body, fallen from 
his height, such as it was that of a wit an ornament in the polished 
circles, a contributor to the amusements of the gay, and whatever 
value will be claimed and conceded for his political life. All this 
was gone. And, though it may so appear in the rapid transition of a 
brief memoir, it was not the change of an hour: he had been long' 

' O O 

working a downward way. Any one characterized by the tenth part 
of his folly, and without the brilliant energies which upheld him 
for an interval of forced elevation, would long before have been 
consigned to a charitable oblivion. He was felt to be incorrigible in 
the infatuation which "made him poor," and would "keep him so at 
last." With the fair allowance for such considerations, it ought to be 
neither matter of wonder or blame that his friends had become alien- 
ated from one whose ways were become incompatible with respect or 
with the habits of polished life that he came to be tolerated in regard 
to past claims. " The ancients, we are told," writes Mr Moore, " by a 
significant device, inscribed on the wreath they wore at banquets the 
name of Minerva. Unfortunately, from the festal w^reath of Sheridan, 
this name was now too often effaced." This is gracefully said, and it 
becomes Mr Moore to cast a flower where a harsher hand must fix a 
sterner mark ; but it is our duty to translate the charitable conceal- 
ment of poetic language. Sheridan had sunk into a habitual and con- 
firmed drunkard. In some, caution; in some, their place in society; 
in some, their great insignificance, might in a measure counteract the 
tendency of his worldly acquaintances to spurn such a disgusting 
association. Much is endured, because it must be endured. But poor 
Sheridan had lived on the admiration of society ; he had been cultivated 
by inclinations and the sympathies of men. With all his amiability, 
and the prestige of reputation, he was felt to have become disagreeable 
and disqualified, as much for the adornment of society as he had 


always been for its affairs. No kindness could sustain him above 
the level he bad found for himself. 

But there is another consideration, before reproach against his 
great friends can be fairly admitted. It should have been fairly 
noticed, that the destitute state of his finances could not have been 
known. He was nominally in the possession of several sources of 
income. It was only known that he was embarrassed, and that, with 
the possession of any assignable estate, he would be embarrassed 
still. The prince had been munificent, and a patent office had ap- 
parently secured enough for moderate desires. The numerous anec- 
dotes told by Mr Moore and others, could we here avail ourselves of 
so detailed a method, would amply attest the justice of these remarks. 

Sheridan had one kind and invariable friend, who never deserted 
him, or lost sight of his interest. It was the prince-regent (Geo. IV). 
But having, between indolence and the habits already described, in 
a great measure become estranged from attendance at court, and as 
the same changes rendered him less qualified to appear advantageously 
in a circle which had during the very same time been changing in the 
opposite direction, he was not sought after or his society cultivated 
with the same flattering care. He was no longer attractive or the 
object of admiration and respect, though he was yet regarded with 
kindness and compassion. This was not understood, either by Sheridan 
or his friends. A morbid pride, which had lurked in his mind through 
life, resented the alteration, without justly calculating that the cause 
was iu himself. He became pettish; and his friends, who did not 
look beyond him, naturally resented his imaginary wrongs. Partv, 
which lives in misrepresentation and misunderstanding, and above all, 
popular party, which is reckless in assertion, and looks on kings and 
nobles as game for " the liberty of the press," perverted the circum- 
stances for the purpose of calumny against the prince-regent. And 
thus it was, that when the character and pursuits of poor Sheridan had 
become such as made it impossible for any person of rank to be his 
associate, or still less for the king- to seek him out in haunts bevond 


which he had in a great measure ceased to exist when he had 
fallen into such a condition that he could not be trusted a few hours 
to his own discretion when he himself, with some natural conscious- 
ness of what he was become, avoided the society of which he had 
once been the ornament he drew upon himself the neglect which 
he courted and resented. When a man loses sight of his own dignity 
and interest, it is frivolous to demand that he is to be held up by 
others. It is with some remorse that we follow the dictates of justice, 
in endeavouring to transfer a little misplaced censure to the proper 
scale. "We participate in the common prejudice which demands 
somewhat of tenderness towards the infirmities of men like Sheridan. 
His hapless decline is indeed a theme to awaken the most painful 
sympathy. One asks with sorrow and indignation, Was all this talent, 
spirit, amiability, success, to terminate thus ? How brilliant the 
ascent! fame, fortune, public admiration, princely favour! How sad 
the descent! embarrassment, poverty, degradation, and neglect! The 
mortifications aggravated by the most brilliant recollections, and em- 
bittered by the pride of a spirit still lofty in its ruin. 


In 1815, a disorder brought on by continued intemperance became 
confirmed and incurable. His powers of digestion were gone; but his 
native strength of constitution prolonged his struggle with disease. 
He nevertheless rapidly lost strength, and in the spring- of 1816 was 
entirely confined to his bed. It was in this condition that his dying 
bed was harrassed by the demands of creditors. His house was beset 
by the bailiffs, and he \vas compelled to seek aid from his friends. 
Liberal assistance was offered by the prince-regent : it was refused, 
to satisfy the pride of Mrs Sheridan's relations. Perhaps, indeed, they 
acted from a more respectable feeling. His distress was not such as 
to be admitted without something of shame. And we feel also 
bound to say, that some of his biographers, in relating his pecuniary 
transactions, have been so much enchanted by their sense of wit, as 
to overlook the real and essential character of very equivocal transac- 
tions. We can find excuses in Sheridan's utter levity; but it is easy 
also to see to what lowering constructions he must have become 
subject in the opinions of the vulgar. We cannot, at all events, find 
any fair ground of reproach to any one but the unfortunate person 
who, too dearly perhaps, paid the penalty which seldom fails to croun 
a life of imprudence. 

One more point connected with these considerations demands some 
notice, and it must be brief where the public friends, the great and 
noble persons of Sheridan's party, are reproached with deserting him. 
It ought not to be forgotten, and the less because it is to his praise, 
that he had first departed from them. Though far from a wise or a 
prudent man, Sheridan was sincere; and when the true tendency of 
the conduct and principles of that party became palpable to his dis- 
cernment, he expressed and acted on his better sense. Such changes 
are hardly tolerated when they can be supported by the power and 
respectability of the person, and the after-course by which his retreat 
is dignified. 

But to conclude. Sheridan was ari^ested in his bed; and after keep- 
ing him a few days in terror, the bailiff was only prevented from 
removing him by Dr Baine, the physician who attended him. The 
bishop of London happening to learn of his dying state, sent an offer 
of his attendance, which was gladly accepted. Sheridan joined in the 
bishop's prayers with fervour, and appeared to have received much 
comfort. He died without a struggle, July, 1816. He was interred 
in Westminster Abbey. 

The personal character of Sheridan is best to be understood from 
the numerous anecdotes which are told by several writers of his 
wit, his prankish vivacity, his indolence, and most singular carelessness 
about times and engagements. We are also, by similar records, made 
acquainted with his powers of persuasion the combined effect of wit, 
dexterity, and engaging address. These instances are numerous 
enough to overflow a volume, and there is little purpose to be served 
by selection: it would not serve the only purpose for which we could 
justifiably prolong* this memoir. Mr Moore, in an ample volume, has, 
we believe, given a faithful picture of Sheridan. The most vivid and 
characteristic ideas of his personal habits and peculiarities may per- 
haps best be looked for in the Reminiscences of Michael Kelly. 


But, however they may in his lifetime constitute the man, per- 
sonal defects and excellencies have no surviving power. They can- 
not be adequately represented by specimens. These can be but 
scattered reflections, which leave behind no image. Sense and truth 
may survive, but convivial pleasantry has no record. The raciest 
humour evaporates on the. page, and grows dull as the crambeof "Joe 
Miller." It is as a comic dramatist of the first order that Sheridan 
must hold his place. As an orator, we cannot rate him very highly: 
\ve do not subscribe to the test of success. To be a test, success 
must be abiding it must rest on something essential. The ultimate 
reputation of authors, though submitted to a more cold and deliberate 
judgment than the speech of a popular orator, is not in many instances 
settled by their first reception. The public taste, sentiment, and 
passion, are variously swayed by circumstances of the most transient 
effect; but true fame is fixed by the sentence of deliberate and enlight- 
ened judgment, which comes after the momentary burst of popular 
excitement, or the silly craze of fashion. This is more closely appli- 
cable to the public speaker than to any other display of human talent. 
There is in great crowds, under the excitement of an interesting occa- 
sion, not only an enormous development of sympathy, but a prepos- 
session of the mind, which anticipates and is ready to find glowing 
eloquence and the most impressive representations. Under such an 
impression, it is only conceivable by experience, how much effect can 
be produced on the heated audience by the glitter of conceits by 
obvious and flimsy turns of rhetorical dexterity. There are well- 
known instances where a court of justice has been affected by a 
sparkling effusion of mere language, in which even the subject was 
forgotten by the pleader; because, in fact, his remote and tumid 
allusions were applied to the real subject, even beyond their meaning, 
by the preconceptions of the jury. On the same data nearly, it might 
be explained, that a speech of the most accomplished excellence, 
while it may produce all the direct effect that eloquence can occasion, 
must, at the same time, be only justly appreciated by a very few 
hearers, and those the most self-possessed and unheated, or the most 
judicious and enlightened. We know it will be said, the only use of 
a, speech is to produce the very effects which we are thus attempting 
to underrate. We do not assent to this: but we do not require to dis- 
pute it here; let it be granted. We have only to answer, that if the 
object and character of oratory be lowered to something so contempt- 
ible and low as the mere practice on the passions and sympathies of 
the crowd, it cannot have any pretension to a more permanent praise. 
Such, in point of fact, is not the pretension of that language in which 
Sheridan has been praised as an orator. We ground our decision on 
the consideration that all the remains of Sheridan as a speaker, or as 
a writer of plain prose, in which most of the same capabilities should 
appear, do not in any instance rise very far above clever mediocrity ; 
and much, which we know to have been admired and rapturously 
applauded, was mere tumid verbiage, in the very w r orst taste not to 
be praised for its sense, and displaying little of that other species of 
pretension which would best be tested by putting it into verse. As 
a debater, we are convinced that Sheridan's merit mutt have been 

' / ,r'(,f 

irt ,/ /,/ , ' /;, 



considerable ; for in this, his happy address, and the poignancy of 
his prompt and abundant wit, could not fail of their effect. 

But, as we have said, it is with the dramatist alone posterity is 
concerned. As a dramatist, so far as the genius of the author is to 
be considered or the success of the piece, there is, in truth, no deduc- 
tion of importance to be made. We have already entered in some 
degree into the merits of the School for Scandal, which cannot but be 
looked on as the masterpiece of its author, and most truly representa- 
tive of the real powers of his intellect. Mr Moore has traced it to a 
slow accumulation of the result of labour and the concentration of 
long-collected wit. He has detailed a curious and instructive history 
the slow steps of a progress in which two distinct sketches, differing 
in plot, became at length amalgamated into one. He has followed out 
the still more interesting process by which stray wit and the char- 
acteristic strokes of satire were caught, treasured, refined, and 
condensed into the brilliant and dazzling excess which flows so 
copiously in every sentence of the School for Scandal. From the MS. 
remains of his studies for this piece, it is plain with what diligence he 
seized and improved every suggestion, and turned every point in every 
aspect, until it was placed to the best advantage. In his margins, it 
seems to have been his habit to write down his unappropriated points, 
to wait the occasion when they might be best brought in. And 
thus, by consummate skill, was worked out the result of consummate 

Mr Moore has been most unjustly blamed for withdrawing the veil 
from the mystery of the poet's laboratory. We entirely disagree with 
so unfair a charge. It was the duty of the biographer. Without its 
close, true, and impartial representation of the actual merits of the 
person, biography would be a task too degrading for any qualified 
mind. What, it may be asked, is the memory of the departed to pos- 
terity, but a portrait or a lessoii ? Where, without impartial truth, 
would be the faith of history? which is, if not true, the worst of all 
romances. But the defence is not wanting. The history of Sheridan's 
works is but a modification of the history of genius ; sometimes slowly 
maturing the magnum opus, and always, either consciously or uncon- 
consciously, collecting and ripening the form and materials. When 
Mr Moore shall have added one more to the list of departed poets, it is 
to be trusted that his varied life and brilliant productions will merit 
a historian and a commentator as instructive and impartial as himself. 

of if 

BORN 1754. DIED 1825. 

GEORGE RAWDON, of Rawdon in Yorkshire, came over with the earl 
of Strafford, and settled in Ireland, about the middle of the seventeenth 
century. He was an active soldier in the rebellion of 1641; and, it 
is said, took a respectable and useful part in the affairs of the country 
during his time.* His great-grandson, Sir John Rawdon, was raised 

Burke 's Peerage. 



in 1750 to the peerage, as baron Rawdon of Rawdon, in the county 
of Down. 

The grandson of this last-mentioned person was Francis, the sub- 
ject of our memoir. He was born in 1754, at the family mansion in 
Down. Of his early life and education, it is needless to say more 
than that he was educated in a manner suitable to his birth. He 
early conceived a passion for the military life, and entered the service 
young, after having, as was then usual, given some time to foreign 
Travel. When the American war broke out, he was a lieutenant in 
the fifth grenadier regiment. He was present at the memorable and 
bloody fight of Bunker's-hill, in which he was one of seven of his 
company who escaped : his cap was perforated by two bullets. On 
this occasion, he received the honourable testimony from the general 
(Burgoyne), in his despatch, "Lord Rawdon has this day stamped his 
fame for life." 

In 1 778 he was promoted to the rank of colonel, and appointed 
adjutant-general to the army under general Sir H. Clinton. By 
many distinguished services, he confirmed his growing reputation and 
displayed his capacity for command. As a consequence, much was 
trusted to his judgment and activity; and he was soon detached, on a 
separate command, in South Carolina. In this charge he conducted 
the force committed to his charge so as to acquire fresh praise; and in 
some time after, when lord Cornwallis a second time left him in the 
command of an inconsiderable force, in the same district, he had to 
maintain himself against the combined manoeuvres of two American 
corps, under different generals ; in which extreme difficulty he ex- 
erted so much superior skill, promptitude, and decision, that the enemy 
found it necessary to retreat before they could make any impression 
on his position. Soon after, a very superior force was collected to 
dislodge him. It was encamped on a hill while preparing to attack 
him, and delayed only for the arrival of some reinforcements, which 
were fast coming up, and immediately expected to arrive. As lord 
Rawdon was aware of the circumstance, it occurred to him that the 
most expedient step would be to anticipate the event, by a prompt 
attack on the enemy's entrenchments on Hobkirk-hill. By a well 
planned and directed movement, he reached the most accessible point 
of approach, without being perceived by the adverse commander 
(Green). Some dexterous manoeuvring followed on both sides; but 
lord Rawdon perceived and baffled the intentions of his antagonist; 
and when the Americans came rushing down the hill, under cover of 
a heavy cannonade, a sudden extension of the British front received 
the charge, and disconcerted the design of their general The conse- 
quence was a total rout, and a victory glorious for lord Rawdon. 

In the decline of the British affairs (which had been sadly mis- 
managed by the commanders, who were ill chosen for the weighty 
charge of a war so extensive, and still more entangled by the fatal 
usage then adopted, of cabinet interference and dictation), lord Corn- 
wallis became ill; and the retreat of the troops in South Carolina 
having been judged advisable, the charge of the movement was in- 
trusted to the experienced ability of lord Rawdon. We shall on'y 
l.ere say, that the important and most difficult trust was most fully 


justified by a retreat conspicuous in military annals for the courage, 
circumspection, skill, and judgment with which it was conducted. In 
the course of this duty, lord Rawdon's bodily health gave way to the 
united effects of labour, anxiety, and the heat of the season in that 
sultry climate. He was, in consequence, compelled to travel in a 
cart, from which he directed the march. Such an effort was by no 
means likely to restore his strength ; and the illness increased so much, 
that he was under the necessity of sailing for England. The vessel 
in which his lordship sailed was taken at sea by a French frigate, and 
carried to Brest. He was not, however, long destined to be a pri- 
soner; but was exchanged, and returned to England. 

His lordship's honourable services in America were rewarded with 
a promotion to the English peerage, as baron Rawdon of Rawdon, in 
the county of York. 

In 1 793, by the death of his father, lord Rawdon succeeded to the 
earldom of Moira, the title by which he was long an object of popu- 
larity in Ireland. 

As a politician, it is not necessary to follow his lordship with any 
precision. It will be enough to say, that in this, as in his professional 
career, he manifested considerable talent, and as much judgment as 
could properly be looked for in the opinions of a clear-headed 
and sagacious man, who had not been educated as a statesman. In 
the practical details, there is a great affinity between the capabilities 
of military command, on a large scale, and those of political conduct; 
but in the latter, so much knowledge, of a nature both extensive and 
profound, is essential to the exercise of the ablest understanding, that 
none but genius of the highest order can be expected to be much 
more than an effective in the foremost ranks of party, without such 
preparation. Though we may admit that the highest nature, the no- 
blest intentions, and the most exalted spirit of humanity, will, at least, 
ensure a thorough freedom from all the misconduct and failure which 
inevitably, in the end, result from the ordinary interference of those 
selfish and family interests which constitute so much of the real and 
interior policy of public men. 

His lordship had an opportunity to signalize his military genius in 
the expedition under the duke of York, sent in 1793 to the assist- 
ance of the States-general in Flanders. A body of troops, of which 
he was in command, being ordered to Flanders, he embarked and 
landed with them at Ostend. The country was entirely in possession 
of the French forces; and it was only by the exertion of much skill. 
daring, and readiness of resource, that his lordship was enabled so to 
avail himself of favourable incidents as to join the English army. In 
the course of the movements essential for this purpose his lordship 
had a sjnart action with the enemy, in which he repulsed them. 

On his return to England, he entered, with his natural activity, 
into the politics of his time, and joined the minority in the house of 

When the Union was proposed, he strenuously opposed it; but 
when it was carried in the Irish parliament, he admitted that his 
objections were removed by their consent. He also assented to the 
fairness of the provisions of the bill. 


Having been appointed commander of the forces in Scotland, he 
became as popular there as in Ireland. One of the most popular 
Scottish tunes was, for a long time, " Lord Moira's Welcome to 

In this island, his affability, public spirit, and humanity, so endeared 
him to the people, that the United Irishmen seem for a while to have 
entertained the hope that he might be drawn into their views. They 
were, of course, soon made aware of their error. 

On the death of his mother, he succeeded to the honours of her 

In 1804, he married Miss Flora Campbell, countess of Loudon. 
He was employed, in 1812, to form a liberal administration; but the 
negociation did not succeed; and soon after he was appointed governor- 
general of Bengal. 

In 1816, he was created viscount Loudon, and advanced to the rank 
of marquis of Hastings. 

He returned to England in 1 822 ; and, soon after, his health began 
visibly to decline. He, nevertheless, accepted of the government of 
Malta it is said, from the embarrassment of his circumstances. His 
death was hastened by a fall from his horse, and occurred in 1825. 

He was a good and high-hearted nobleman, with very considerable 
talents, much skill in his profession, and a true zeal for the honour 
and welfare of the kingdom. He was also kind arid affectionate in 
the private relations of life, generous and considerate towards his 
dependants, kind to his friends, and exercised a munificent liberality 
and hospitality to all who came within his circle; and though many 
inheritances seem to have devolved upon him, yet his expenditure 
appears to have made him poor in the end. 


BORN 1770. DIED 1827. 

THE ancestor of Mr Canning c;ime into Ireland, in the reign of 
queen Elizabeth, as a military officer, and obtained a grant of the 
manor of Garbagh, in the county of Londonderry. The fourth in 
descent from this gentleman, Mr Stratford Canning, was married to 
Miss Letitia Newburgh of Ballyhouse, in the county of Cavan. His 
son by this lady, Mr George Canning, offended his father, by marry- 
ing without his consent, and was disinherited in consequence. He 
was a man of considerable talent; and, forming expectations of retriev- 
ing his fortunes by literature, he removed to London, where he pub- 
lished a volume of poems, and entered as a student in the Middle 
Temple. In the following year, his wife gave birth to a son. In 
one year more, this unfortunate gentleman died, leaving his wife and 
infant in a precarious condition.* 

* There seems to have prevailed a general ignorance of the country of Mr 
Canning. The entire of his life, from his birth, is *o identified with England, 
that this ignorance is excusable. Mr Canning claims to be an Irishman, in a 
letter published in Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott. The above particulars, 

/t ft 1 ff f'f <t f'tf . I / S )/ S/ ft 

PuD - ' 


Canning's mother was thus left, with her infant, in a forlorn 
condition, from which she was extricated by a marriage with an 
actor and by employment as an actress. This person did not live 
long ; and she then married a Mr Hunn, a linen-draper of Exeter. 

Mr Canning's grandfather, whose inveteracy had exposed his parents 
to the vicissitudes of fortune, at last began to relent, and secured to 
his grandson a small estate in Ireland, which yielded the independent 
means for his education. 

At the proper age he was sent to Eton, and quickly attained all the 
reputation of a schoolboy. He was more especially distinguished for 
the ease and elegance of his exercises in Latin and English. Among 
other qualities, which afterwards were distinguishable in his maturer 
efforts, was the abundant and happy vein of irony of which he was so 
perfect a master. 

From Eton, at seventeen, he was removed to Oxford. There, too, 
he maintained his growing reputation. With the profound ambition 
which was one of the main impulses of his character, his whole con- 
duct at Oxford was characterized by the most concentrated exertion 
and prudence. His associations with others were governed by an 
unerring soundness of judgment; his talents were cultivated his 
memory stored with all that was ornamental or available in learning 
for the course he had already marked for himself. 

Having left the university, he entered his name at Lincoln's Inn. 
For a time, he followed the study of the law, of which the history 
and general principles form the indispensable foundation of the states- 
man's still profouuder though less denned science. That he must 
have aimed at something farther than a mere profession, will seem 
probable, on a consideration of his character and position at the time. 
His extensive attainments, and splendid powers; his aspiring temper; 
his reputation, which had reached London before his arrival; are 
elements of success, which, in a far less degree than belonged to 
him, must have turned any one who possessed them to public life. 
The prediction, attributed to lord Lansdowne, that Canning would 
one day be prime-minister, has at least one value: it cannot fail to 
have been founded on a perception of the bent as well as the power 
of his mind. Such a prediction would not, for example, be hazarded 
with regard to Scott or Byron, who were still superior to Canning in 
their powers; or with respect to lord Eldon, who, in his walk, was not 
inferior. It was neither the attainment nor the mere amount of power, 
but the whole animus of the man, which such a conjecture ascertains, 

He quickly became an object of similar expectations in London 
society. He showed his superiority in the societies in which the 
young lawyers and aspirants for public life met to try or practise 
their powers. He was no less remarkable, in private circles, for his 
information, sparkling intelligence, wit, and address. He was intro- 
duced to most of the leading men of the whigs, and there was a 
general expectation that he would join their ranks. 

Such expectations were disappointed when Mr Canning was brought 

which we give on the authority of Mr Burke, in his " Peerage," sets any doubt 
at rest. 


into parliament, by Mr Pitt for the borough of Newport, in 1790. 
Of the exertions of eloquence and reason by which this selection was 
justified, we cannot write in detail, as it would, for this purpose, be 
necessary to branch out into many questions on which, for obvious 
reasons, we cannot satisfactorily enter. In three years more (179o), 
he was appointed one of the under-secretaries of state by Pitt. With 
Mr Pitt he went out of office, in 1801 ; and returned on the declaration 
of war, in 1 804, when he was appointed treasurer of the navy. 

The death of Pitt, in 1 806, dissolved the administration, and de- 
prived Mr Canning of a powerful patron. He was, however, sufficiently 
advanced in estimation to be independent of the support of a patron. 
Powers such as he possessed, if once placed fully on their appropriate 
sphere and course of action, can hardly need further support. He was 
also freed from the ties of influence and authority which bound him, 

e/ ' 

in some measure, to the strict line of Mr Pitt's views of policy. He 
had learned his own strength from many an honourable trial, and fixed 
his eye and thought on the highest point of attainment. To use his 
own language, he buried his allegiance in Mr Pitt's grave. 

Still adhering, nevertheless, to the main principles of the policy he 
had already contributed to adorn and support, he took his part effec- 
tively in the contest with the Grenville party, which ended in the esta- 
blishment of that sound and constitutional svstem of conduct which, 


under the mercy of God, at last freed France from a murderous des- 
potism, and Europe from the iron and merciless domination of a single 
tyrant's will. In 1807, he came again into office with the duke of 
Portland, as secretary for foreign affairs; thus, for the first time, be- 
coming a cabinet minister. 

The succession of great and interesting events which followed, are 
too well known, and too variously related, to be told otherwise than 
in the minutest detail. We therefore only advert to such incidents 
as our immediate purpose demands. 

Mr Canning was among the first and most efficient in stimulating the 
energies of England to the most honourable war, both in its object 
and event, that has as yet taken its place in the records of history. 

In 1 809, Mr Canning was implicated in a quarrel with lord Castle- 
reagh, on account of a misunderstanding on the part of this nobleman, 
as to some effort of Mr Canning's to have him removed from the war- 
office. He was accused by lord C. of having expressly, but privately, 
made a stipulation with the duke of Portland to that effect, and thus 
made his lordship's continuance in office subject to his own pleasure, 
while he still continued to sit in the same cabinet with him. Such 
conduct was, in the opinion of the noble lord, not to be endured ; and 
he demanded satisfaction in a letter. Mr Canning briefly replied, and, 
without offering any explanation or denial, further than might be con- 
veyed in the assertion that his lordship's letter was full of " misre- 
presentations and misapprehensions," consented to give him the re- 
quired satisfaction. They accordingly met, and Mr Canning was 
slightly wounded. An explanation, exculpatory of Mr Canning, was 
circulated, to the effect that the concealment of which he was accused 
was contrary to his wishes and express remonstrances, and that he 
had no discretion as to the time of the proposed change. He had first 


stipulated for it, and then consented to its postponement to a certain 
period, which the duke had fixed on as convenient. We cannot enter into 
details, which can now have no very general interest; but it seems that, 
without any fault on his own part, Mr Canning was placed in a false 
position by the intrigues of the premier. 

The consequence of this quarrel was, the resignation of both parties. 
We shall but briefly comment on the disgraceful character of this, and 
all such appeals to the pistol. Nothing can be said that is not obvious 
to the humblest common sense. They are unmeaning and absurd, if 
they were not criminal. If referred to the vindictive principle, they 
are a perversion which, if the consequences were not often so lamen- 
table, would be nearly ridiculous: if referred to the higher principle 
which they offend they amount to a crime of the deepest dye an open 
and direct contempt of God. They can redress no grievance, they 
wipe away no stain. A man may be a liar, a swindler in his dealings, 
a blackleg on the turf, a cheat at play, a traducer of his friend, a cor- 
rupter of innocence, in a word, all that language can express of 
infamous and base, and fearlessly stake body and soul in this lottery 
of death. He may even be a coward ; for cowards, who are apt to 
quarrel, will involve themselves in the necessity of braving what they 
fear. For coward and brave, the duel is but a barbarous homage to 
the idol opinion, an absurdity which has outlived the superstition 
which once gave it a wrongful meaning, the test of a most audacious 
and blasphemous appeal to the Supreme Being, by an express violation 
of his laws. No comment on this practice can be required in the way 
of mere exposure: we but here record our opinion, as in duty bound. 
Could we afford it, much might be usefully suggested as to the course 
which ought to be taken for its extinction. But we can only add, that 
the course hitherto adopted is rather contradictory. It is not to be 
admitted that a person can justly be placed in so false a position as a 
military man has of late years been subjected to. It is unjust to make 
a man criminal by law for doing that which, if he does not do, he is 
liable to be cashiered for cowardice. Such Spartan legislation will 
answer no purpose : until the appeal to arms is placed out of the ques- 
tion, by full provisions to meet every stage of such transactions, law is 
as nothing. The man who considers himself pledged to risk his life, 
is fully prepared to meet all consequences. The law must cut the 
knot as silly as a love-knot of a spurious honour an honour consis- 
tent with all rascality. More right, just, and true conventions must 
be settled: in a civilized age, and a Christian country, they need not be 
mentioned. Surely the time is not very far off, when that species of 
grievance which is termed insult to that portion of a fool and a cox- 
comb which is called his honour, and which no anatomist of mind or 
body would be able to find, will be out of date. If a real effective 
slander can be repelled in a more rational way, there is no harm done, 
save to the slanderer exposure is revenge : if it cannot, not all the 
blood in the camp or cabinet can wash it away. But we have gone 
far beyond our purpose. 

Mr Canning did not again appear in the cabinet till 1816. He 
then was appointed president of the Board of Control, under lord 
Liverpool, who had been his schoolfellow and friend in the university 


In the interval, he had the distinguished honour to be elected (1812) 
for Liverpool. He was sent ambassador to Lisbon in 1814, and had 
to sustain those assaults which are little more than the ordinary war- 
fare of party, and may well be passed. 

In 1820, after a troubled interval of office, during- a time when the 
internal peace of England was broken by the pressure of a general 
collapse among the various trade interests, consequent on the changes 
from so long a. war, Mr Canning was induced to resign, by his reluc- 
tance to be a party to the proceedings against the queen-consort of 
George IV., to whom he had formerly acted as an adviser. To avoid 
being present, he retired to the continent. 

On his return, he was nominated to the government of India by the 
Company; and was on the eve of departure, when the death of the 
marquis of Londonderry occurred. This made an opening for him of a 
kind more suitable to his wishes; and he was appointed secretary of 
state for foreign affairs. 

The politics of the administration, of which he thus became part, 
cannot, with any propriety, be compressed. We do not wish to 
entangle our pen in unsupported statements on the politics, so nearly 
those of the present day. It must be enough to say, that Mr Canning's 
views, while he yet belonged to the tories, were those of a constitu- 
tional whig, a whig of the school of Burke, perhaps a tory of the 
present hour. The consequence was, that a strong sense of alienation 
grew between him and some of the leading persons among his party. 

Of this he was destined to feel the consequences, perhaps to be the 
victim. Mr Canning's generosity, and the expansive liberality of his 
principles, his zeal for the welfare of his country, and for the freedom 
of every nation, were nobly manifested in his entire conduct; but they 
were not tempered by a clear insight into the actual state of Europe. 
He did not see, what was then become apparent to some leading- 
spirits alone, the vast fermentation of a rising change in the whole 
mind of Europe a revolution still but in its beginnings. Mr Canning 
did not, in his zealous liberality, perceive the rocking of the ground- 
swell on which thrones and institutions were trembling. He did not 
feel, as we could wish he had felt, that every retarding power would !K> 
required to withstand the fearful acceleration which must be necessarily 
consequent on the wide-spreading combination of opinions, powers, and 
increased numerical intelligence, with other causes of a physical 
character, then imperfectly anticipated. In the " holy alliance," he only 
saw the ambition of kings: it escaped his observation strangely, that 
whatever may be the individual self-interest which will always be 
found bound up with the best designs of men of whatever rank, the 
main design of that alliance was just, honourable, and founded in the 
strictest right. They were truly bonded against those evils against 
which they professed to declare ; and it is our belief, that they were 
leagued also against evils only to be (then) apprehended by those 
few whose position made it difficult for them to be deceived. Mi- 
Canning, with the purest integrity and the noblest feelings, unfor- 
tunately took a narrow view of policy: he looked to local interests and 
partial questions; and, consequently, showed a temper to act in resis- 
tance to a far broader and deeper policy that of his friends and 


colleagues in office. The consequence was to him unhappy. We 
ought at the same time to add, that we do not mean to pronounc 
against many of the main acts of Mr Canning's policy during this 
interval, in which, so far as we are enabled to judge, we see the 
highest ground for approbation. 

When lord Liverpool was incapacitated by a paralytic stroke for 
the duties of his office, Mr Canning was commanded to form a cabinet. 
He applied to the leading tories; and, as every one is aware, failed, in 
a manner that was likely to make a painful impression upon his sensi- 
tive temper. He was therefore compelled to have recourse to his poli- 
tical opponents, and was thus thrown into the unfortunate predicament 
of a coalition always injurious to the public character of a states- 
man, and liable to entanglements and false positions, except in those 
instances when it is the early effect of changes arising from ex- 
perience, the result of principle, and not the resource of party position. 

This step on the part of Mr Canning, was rendered perhaps the 
less injurious to his reputation, as the change of conduct and principle 
to which it seemed to lead, had, for a considerable time previous, 
been strongly suspected ; and was, in fact, the obstacle to his obtaining 
the sanction of his former friends. He was not the less subject to 
painful and mortifying consequences: he had become a prime minis- 
ter, without the real substantial support of any party. He felt at his 
back, an alliance with which he had no real community of principle 
for his conversion was but half-way. There was a pressure upon 
him, and he could not well escape being precipitated into distressing 
and difficult positions, in which those who had been his friends would 
be his opponents and his censurers ; while he would be cheered on by 
those whom he could not respect. 

We shall not more distinctly review the policy of his administration 
it brought with it a popularity with which the spirit of Canning was 
too noble to be satisfied. It brought also an ample train of far more 
mortifying and embarrassing irritations and annoyances, which sunk 
deeply on his spirit, and in a few months brought him to his grave. 
He caught cold at the duke of York's funeral: it was aggravated by 
the wearing effects of continual and painful excitements, and closed 
his existence in the 57th year of his age. 

As an orator, take him for all in all, Mr Canning had no rival in 
our times he was the last, and perhaps the most accomplished, of 
that splendid class among which he is to be numbered. Without the 
matchless powers of Mr Burke, he had the strenuous will to excel, 
which, with the aid of a rich wit, and a fine rhetorical tact, always 
secured for his oratory a degree of finish, and a style, which the 
"careless grandeur" of Mr Burke mostly disregarded. In the full 
attainment of academic culture, and all those acquirements which are 
the result of the most ambitious and successful study, he excelled his 
contemporaries: above all, he was master of the treasury of Grecian 
and Roman literature. As a rhetorician, we know of no modern 
name to be compared with his; but irony was his unrivalled weapon: 
if rivalled, only perhaps by Tierney, another Irishman, far his in- 
ferior in all other respects. On the profounder powers of Mr Canning's 
understanding, we shall only say, he was a man of powerful capacities ; 


bat we are not impressed with the conviction that any portion of his 
excellence lay in the depth or vigour of a strong 1 comprehensive 
reason. It may happen that brilliant popular qualifications will carry 
their possessor into positions where plainer and more weighty powers 
are required to maintain the reputation gained from the less discri- 
minate sense of the public mind. We speak cautiously of Mr Canning 
there was perhaps more to be known had he lived; but we speak 
our impression from all that we find stated by his friends and ad- 
mirers. Entirely avoiding all questions of recent British politics, 
as demanding a scope for statement far beyond our disposal, we 
cannot say more. So far as we have ventured to weigh the political 
character of Mr Canning, the consideration was necessary to the views 
preserved throughout these memoirs. 

In private life, none could stand higher than he did for worth 
or social amiability. He was mild, affable, and unaffected in his 
deportment, and highly endowed with the best and kindliest affections. 
On the rich and varied attractions of his conversation, we have the 
high testimony of Sir Walter Scott. 

O / 

torge Ctt 

BORN A. D. 1761. DIKD A. D. 1830. 

MR TIERNEY'S father was a native of the countv or town of Limerick. 


He became a prize-agent in Gibraltar. There his sou was born. He 
received his education at Cambridge, and is said to have been de- 
signed for the legal profession. His course of life was altered by the 
death of his elder brothers, which made him master of affluence. 

He selected the house of commons for his scene of exertion, and 
obtained his election for Colchester. In parliament, his distinguished 
powers of sarcasm and sneer his prompt shrewdness, and fluent com- 
mand of a plain colloquial idiom, most adapted for the application of 
those powers, made him an adversary not much to be desired. He 
was remarkable for his power of caricaturing the arguments he wished 
to decry; and, as with most persons ridicule is more effective than 
reason, he was thus most formidable in the ranks of opposition, for 
which his mind was pre-eminently adapted. 

In 1798, having been accused by Mr Pitt of an opposition to "the 
bill for stopping seamen's protections, from a wish to impede the 
service of the country," a challenge and a duel followed, between him 
and Mr Pitt. They met, and fired two cases of pistols on Putney 
Heath, but with no result. 

Mr Tierney took office as treasurer of the navy in Mr Addington's 
administration and once more, we believe, after the death of Mr 
Fox. There is, however, little ground for any exception to the 
general statement, that he was a steady and consistent opponent to all 
government measures. It would be unfair to assert that he had not 
a sincere political creed, to which he conscientiously adhered; but 
there is much in his tone, manner, and public habit, to suggest the 
idea of vexatious opposition. This is perhaps chiefly suggested by 


the very artificial character of his manner of statement and reason- 
ing: his points were too commonly shrewd appeals to prejudice and 
ignorance, too often merely wit. In the perusal of such arguments as 
those Mr Tierney, and generally the supporters of the same questions, 
had recourse to, it is often forced upon the mind that the speaker 
does not believe his own inference. But to this Mr Tiernev was 


perhaps one of the exceptions, if such a rule were to be allowed. 
It exceedingly seldom happens that men so shrewd have much capa- 
bility of thinking justly on the broader questions of policy, or on 
any other of the more profound branches of human thought. Their 
true province is computation, in which the process of thought de- 
mands strictness, minute caution, nice perception, and steady atten- 
tion. And, accordingly, Mr Tierney would have been an exceedingly 
clear and able financier. He was too subtile, had too much lively 
and prompt Jinesse, for the vague, complex, and unprecise phenomena 
of social workings on a large scale, which demand qualities of a 
different description steady and reflecting observation, comparison, 
considerate judgment, and freedom from the sway of opinion and the 
entanglement arising from unessential considerations too often the 
stumbling-block of very clever people. 

Mr Tierney took office under Mr Canning, and was made master 
of the mint. 

He died suddenly, January, 1830. 

We add an extract, descriptive of his style as a public speaker, from 
a very able character of him in the Annual Obituary. "As a spealser, 
Mr Tierney was exceedingly original. From the moment he opeaed 
his mouth, until he sat down, the attention of his hearers never flagged 
for one moment. In a style which never rose above the colloquial, 
the most cutting sarcasms, level to the most ordinary understanding, 
escaped from him, as if he were himself unaware of their terrible 
effect. His sneer was withering. Of all the speakers, contemporaries 
of Mr Tierney, no one was so much dreaded as he was. His irony 
was inimitable. From the simplicity of his language, the reporter 
never misunderstood him ; but from the rapidity of his colloquial 
turns, and the instant roar with which they w^ere followed in the 
house, it was impossible to record all that fell from him ; and the 
reports, therefore, though almost always characteristic of him, were 
far from complete. But his manner and intonation added greatly to 
the effect of what he said. It was the conversation of a shrewd, 
sagacious man of the world, who delivered his observations on the 
subjects under discussion with apparent candour, which contrasted 
singularly with the knowing tone and look of the speaker. His mode 
of taking an argument to pieces, and reconstructing it in his own way, 
astonished his hearers, who recognised the fidelity of the copy, yet 
felt at a loss how he had himself failed to perceive, during the pre- 
ceding speech, what seemed now so palpably absurd," c. Though 
it is allowed, that ridicule is not the test of truth, it is evident how 
much it disturbs the apprehension of it: and it is easy to see how 
much more effective this practice is likely to be in popular assemblies, 
than the methods of an understanding more deeply engrossed with the 
principles of the question, and the real details of the subject. The 


writer of the preceding extract thinks it necessary to vindicate Mr 
Tierney from a, charge of limited knowledge: his remarks just prove 
the fact of the existence of such an imputation. We wish to have it 
understood, that while it falls in very well with the opinion we have 
here expressed, it is by no means coincident with it. Our view is 
simply, that his mind was not of the order that deals with deep or 
extensive knowledge; and this is confirmed by the description of his 
admirer, and the mere fact of the suspicion having existed. Mr 
Tierney may have mastered the Encyclopedia he may have devoured 
libraries; but the contents were never assimilated, and had little part 
in the operations of his mind. 


BORN, A. D. 1756. DIED A. D. 18'25. 

WE have already had to notice the right honourable John Hely 
Hutchinson, the father of the late earl of Donoughmore. This 
nobleman graduated in the university of Dublin; and became, when 
of age, a member of the Irish parliament. He attached himself to 
the whigs, from which the course which he took on the questions 
which then agitated the public may be easily enough ascertained. With 
respect to his personal character as a politician, there is all reason to 
believe that he was thoroughly free from the imputation of factious 
views, and that he had in every act the good of Ireland at heart. 

The main question with which his parliamentary life is identified, 
is that which is known by the phrase Catholic Emancipation. This 
he pursued steadily through life. The grounds on which he and all 
the advocates on his side of this question placed their views, were 
in the abstract just, and consistently to be inferred from the soundest 
principles of humanity, law, and government ; and such as do 
honour to their wisdom and humanity. The arguments which were 
opposed to them are not less creditable to their opponents. It was 
one of those questions, in the discussion of which, the actual realities 
which were under consideration differed remotely on either side. 
And, between them, the proper question was mostly allowed to fall to 
the ground. On one side were stated general principles, and a case 
of great hardship; on the other, special grounds, which they believed, 
and which, if true, made a most necessary exception to those rules. 

It can hardly be denied that the claim of rights must be limited at 
some point, by co-relative duties of subjection to the laws under which 
they arise, and the essential self-preserving principle of all law and 
all right. 

In November, 1797, this nobleman was created viscount Suirdalt ; 
and in 1800, earl of Donoughmore. 

In July, 1821, he was created viscount Hutchinson, in the peerage 
of Great Britain. 

He was a lieutenant-general in the army. He nevei married. His 
death occurred 25th August, 1825. 





',; 'y . 



&o&ert, /^latcjut.s of 

BORN, A. D. 1769. DIED, A. D. 1822. 

THE eminent nobleman whom we are now to notice, at a length verv 
inadequate to the importance of his eventful history, was the son of 
the first marquis of Londonderry. He was educated at Armag'h, 
and sent to Cambridge in 1786. He was early remarkable for the 
grace and suavity of his address; and no less so, for the cool intrepidity 
often so usefully displayed in his political life. 

On attaining majority, he stood for the county of Down, and was 
elected. He commenced his political career with the popular party, 
as most young men will whose aim is political activity, and who 
are not controlled by such connections as leave no will to the 
young. The first feelings of youthful inexperience are popular 
sympathies: the earliest opinions partake of the nature of pre- 
judices. But, independent of predilection, there is always a greater 
facility for display, and the exercise of unfledged experience, in the 
ranks of opposition: its complaints and reproaches are the aptest themes 
for youthful declamation. Any pelting of stones or of clods may pass 
on the side of assailants, who are in fact understood to be merely such; 
there is no reproach for inaccuracy no serious detriment from absur- 
dity. There is no responsibility, and therefore no nervous vigilance, 
precaution, and abstemiousness of statement, required. A young man 
too, is allowed the privilege of changing sides, when experience, and 
maturity of knowledge and judgment, may claim at least to be the 
causes of the change. 

His debut in the house was successful : on this occasion he spoke 
for the right of Ireland to trade with India, in disregard of the char- 
tered rights of the company. He even presided at a public dinner, 
where the seditious toast, " Our sovereign lord, the people," was 
drunk. He supported the cause of parliamentary reform, and railed 
as stoutly against government as any of his party. 

To what extent, or by what degrees or means, his eyes became 
clearly open to the errors and inconsistencies of the leaders of the 
Irish opposition, we have no means of judging. 

Fortunately for his fame, and for the safety of Ireland, then at the 
point of a destructive rebellion, and which had for ten previous years 
been maturing its forces under the varied pretexts of popular agitation, 
he found reason to quit the unprincipled party which at that time lent 
their pernicious sanction to the United Irishmen. We think ourselves 
thus at liberty to assert briefly what we have already proved in detail. 
That the repetition is not here superfluous, will be fully understood 
by those who have but cursorily looked through the various histories, 
papers, or speeches, in which allusion is made to the life of lord 
Castlereagh. We are by no means desirous to be ranked among his 
admirers; and have always felt that he was, at a later period, placed, 
by a combination of circumstances and personal advantages, in a 
position above his real capabilities. But we deeply revolt at the 
injustice with which he, in common with greater men, has been 


treated. A fair and full view of the actual state of Ireland at the 
interval now in question, exhibiting the total decomposition of its 
moral and social elements the entire want of any system of constitu- 
tional principles, privileges, or powers, except in the mouths of de- 
claimers and the visible emergencies by which the government and 
peaceful part of the community were menaced would plainly demon- 
strate the utter absurdity of those summary accusations, which Irish 
writers affirm for party purposes, and English writers echo, because 
they cannot understand how such loud and reiterated assertion 
should be so false, or so much violent animosity unfounded ; unless 
indeed in the inflammable zeal of that vice which is said by the poet 
to kindle with its own progress: 

" Mobilitate viget, viresque acquirit eundo, 
Parva metu primo, mox sese attollit in aures, 
Ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubila condit." 

That the Irish administration should suffer itself to be so shut in 
by the forms of a constitution which had no virtual existence, and 
was not recognised but for cavil under emergencies, too, against 
which the most established constitution would be a farce as to suffer 
all the institutions, the interests, and the entire of the social commu- 
nity, which it was their sole duty to guard, to be confused, harassed, 
and finally crushed by a combination of traitors and cut-throats 
such was the moderate requisition of the popular leaders of that day. 
According to their notions, it was a deep grievance, that in the very 
presence of a gathering insurrection, connected with republican prin- 
ciples and agents, of which no one could at the moment see the 
extent or the end that the perversion and the abuse of rules, designed 
for peaceful states, was not allowed to be made the stalking-horse of 
revolution. At that period, the whole peaceful and respectable part of 
the community (that is to say, the people of Ireland,) stood in terror 
and dismay ; they were apprized of the horrors acting through Europe 
they were obscurely acquainted with the designs of the French on 
Ireland; they were in the habit of hearing (from gentlemen like the 
Emmets and Shearses) the wildest designs discussed in the social 
circles, and the most horrible vaticinations and surmises of ills to 
come. These surmises were not without foundation. At such a time, 
indications arose, not to be mistaken by the lookers on, though easily 
confounded now; and the government was soon struggling on the 
ground with a ferocious conspiracy. With laws that had no power 
with an undisciplined and raw militia and yeomanry, and no very 
certain clue to the actual position of an enemy whose main force lay 
in the obscurity of its ambush : the government in that awful crisis 
did its duty, in availing itself of the only means which it possessed, 
in its own and the country's defence. It used the indispensable and 
perfectly legitimate aid of deserters and traitors, against the traitors 
to whom they were untrue. It employed agents, who, being engaged 
in no regular service, used irregular means means not to be used by 
persons of rank and refinement, but not unsuited to the coarse nature 
of such persons as alone could be employed on a low detective service. 
That such agents would commit abuses, was a matter of course, and 


not to be guarded against. The only resource, under these circum- 
stances, would have been a system of police, which did not then exist, 
even in its very elements. 

These difficulties and unhappy necessities were heightened by the 
powerful action of an eloquent, zealous, and vivacious opposition, some 
of whom were enthusiasts, others superficial, others merely factious, 
and not a few tainted with the licentious politics and philosophy of 
the Jacobins all perhaps, with a total disregard of consequences, 
mainly intent on the ordinary aim of oppositions, to gratify their 
party animosities, and overthrow their opponents. Such was the 
ruinous game of Mr Fox in England; and it is not likely that his Irish 
imitators were more honest or wise. 

But it is perhaps a fortunate provision, in the distribution of human 
gifts, that the most practical powers of the understanding will be 
found on the side of order and the peace of society. It is easier to 
agitate and to rouse evil passions, than skillfully to conduct a civil 
contest; and there was on the rebel side little understanding, and that 
not the most influential, that could fairly cope with the practical 
abilities of men like lord Clare. 

Endowed with an active taste for political concerns, with strong 
common sense, the firmest courage, and a thorough contempt of popular 
influences, lord Castlereagh, however induced, chose the side on which 
he could alone be respectably employed. He did not possess the bril- 
liant antithesis, the pointed epigram, the flowered robe of metaphoric 
diction, or the treasured refinements of Grecian and Roman genius, 
to amplify the commonplaces of declamation, or give force and accep- 
tance to popular fallacies. He would have been an obscure follower of 
those great men whose eloquence could dignify a cause which admitted 
little scope for candour, scrupulous truth, or practical common sense. 
It would be little becoming his rank to be the pioneer of a conspiracy. 
It may, therefore, we think, be with much reason assumed, that as 
matters ripened for the crisis, and as the real tendencies of the popular 
party became apparent, his lordship felt it unsuitable to remain in the 
ranks of opposition, and brought his talent to its proper position on 
the first available opportunity. 

In 1798, it will be admitted that little doubt could remain as to 
the real course of events. He then took the office of secretary under 
lord Camclen. 

It will be merely sufficient to say, that having engaged on the side 
of government, he gave the whole force of his activity, talent, and 
address, to save the country, and put down an awful rebellion. He 
was mainly instrumental to the final amendment of that disorderly and 
most unconstitutional state of things from which it arose, by the mea- 
sure of the union. 

As a matter of course, he became unpopular in Ireland, and a 
standing mark for abusive language, which, being the proper missile 
of popular declamation, we should not object to, if, in this instance, it 
did not sink below even its usual level of decency and propriety. In 
the county of Down, he was rejected by his former constituents, and 
compelled to come into parliament on borough interest. 

To follow his career in England would demand verv considerable 

O v 


detail of English and European politics, which, at this period of our 
history, has not sufficient object in his lordship's memoir. We shall 
therefore claim indulgence for a summary statement. 

In 1805, he was appointed secretary at war and for the colonies; 
and, with some interruptions, he retained office till the event of his 
quarrel with Mr Canning, on which he resigned. In 1 81 2, he succeeded 
the marquis of Wellesley as foreign secretary, in which office he con- 
tinued till his death. 

In this position his lordship was maintained by his consummate 
address and power of management, his unwearied industry and steadi- 
ness of purpose, and by the influence which these qualities were adapted 
to acquire and preserve. His ability was efficiently employed in the 
maintenance of the war policy; but we cannot. say that we consider his 
abilities as fairly on a level with the great emergencies of the time. He 
cannot be considered as responsible for the errors, on a great scale, 
which protracted, and well-nigh frustrated the objects of the war. it 
had too much been the established usage, to attempt to govern the move- 
ments of foreign campaigns from the cabinet. The consequence was, not 
only a deficiency in the provisions for the war, but the counteraction 
of those talents and professional experience by which alone war can be 
well conducted. On several occasions national disgrace and public dis- 
couragement were risked and incurred by the consequences of defect- 
ive forces, and generals hampered by unskilful orders. We do not 
believe that the commander whose genius (under Providence) achieved 
the ultimate triumph of British arms in the Peninsular war, could have 
directed its operations from his seat in Downing street. But to who- 
ever these misarrangements, which frustrated British valour and 
military talent, are to be imputed, they were, we believe, happily 
terminated in 1809> when the marquis Wellesley succeeded to the 

On the close of the war, lord Castlereagh went over to the congress 
as plenipotentiary for England. We cannot enter upon the proceed- 
ings of the congress, or of the kings and ministers of whom it was 
composed; but its results had no slight influence on the fortunes and 
reputation of the subject of this memoir. While we would vindicate, 
and are ready to vindicate, the general principles of policy which were 
on that occasion publicly recognised by the powers of Europe, we 
consider it evident enough, that in the train of dispositions and arrange- 
ments which, of necessity, claimed their attention, the common and 
secret-working views of self-interest, which are never far away from 
the human breast, were strongly roused by the numerous and various 
suggestions of occasion for the re-arrangement and distribution of ter- 
ritorial dominion, as well as from the essential necessity imposed on each 
of the powers then present to regard every proposition with relation to 
those consequences which might affect his own dominions. With- 
out reproach to any one, it may w r ell be inferred that the first high 
and solemn impulses of religion and duty, at which the infidel and 
Jacobin alone have sneered, soon passed away, and subsided under tin- 
influence of more common and worldly motives. And consequently, 
it might be inferred that the negotiations which followed, however ;i 
sound principle might be mainly recognised and observed, would par- 


take largely of the game of cabinet and diplomatic double-dealings. 
Always keeping in view the one fact, that the assailants of the " Holy 
Alliance" are here held to be spurious and vicious, and that nothing 
which we have thus alleged in general terms is meant as concession 
to Jacobinism or deism, we consider the congress to have been soon 
led aside into the ordinary and intricate cross-purposes of diplomacy, 
to which the genius of the marquis of Londonderry, or the degree of 
influence and authority which he could command, were far from being 
equal. His personal spirit was too high his honour, and his sincerity 
in the principles of action and arrangement, ostensibly adopted, were at 
variance with the part and the tenor of action imposed upon him by in- 
fluences which he did not know how to meet or how to resist. It is pro- 
bable that he was too prompt to trust the sincerity of royal intriguers, 
and their subtle ministers. But, however this may be, there is every 
reason for believing that, in the result, his lordship found many strong 
grounds for dissatisfaction with his own share in the proceedings of 
the congress. The interests of England were not merely suffered to be 
the last, but were seemingly neglected; and the lesser powers and com- 
munities of Europe were treated with injustice and wrong. The high 
spirit and political integrity of the marquis were evinced by a spirited 
protest against some of the most reprehensible acts of the sovereigns. 
But the sense of the little he had been able to effect in counteracting 
what he condemned, or effecting what he considered right, fell heavily 
on his spirits, over wrought with toil, perplexity, and anxious care. He 
had, from nearly the commencement of his public life, been exposed 
to a current of vexations, such as would, in one-tenth of the time, have 
killed most other men. He was the mark of popular hatred, for his 
firm opposition to the principles of revolt and change; he was subject 
to a sense of the mortifying disrespect of the abler men of his own 
party, who held his lordship's abilities in less esteem than his pride 
could be satisfied with. His ambition, exposed to frequent checks 
and frequent mortifications, was much, though secretly irritated. His 
great self-command, and excellent common-sense, prevented these 
circumstances and affections from tainting his ordinary manner or con- 
duct ; but they made triumph essential, and defeat or humiliation deadly. 
In the triumphs of England he had obtained his share, from the cordial 
excitement of public feeling ; but with the return of calm, a cold reac- 
tion was to follow, together with the keen-eyed criticism of the ablest 
opponents, both political and personal. A fearful and protracted re- 
action was to commence a long reckoning was to be paid events were 
to set in which would disappoint the expectations of the public mind of 
Europe what he had done, and failed to do, were to be sifted with 
a firm hostility. What was wrong would be visited with the castiga- 
tion of justice, severe in its moderation; what was right would be 
assailed with the foul missiles of democratic journalism and oratory. 
Of this, much may well be assumed to have been present to his lord- 
ship's mind, of which the imposing habitual calmness was rather the 
result of pride than of stoicism. 

The consequences became quickly apparent: he was soon observed 
to have lost much of his wonted placidity of manner, and to be occa- 
sionally absorbed, and often irritable. While thus affected, another 



congress was resolved on by the European powers. The marquis 
had strongly protested against any further congresses, and had come 
to very altered views with respect to what had been done, and the 
course, injustice, to be pursued. But he had entangled himself, it 
is amrmed, by pledges, and in such a position was once more appointed 
to represent Great Britain in the game of diplomacy. 

A mean spirit and an unprincipled breast could have found no diffi- 
culty in the position, not uncommon with great men in the world of 
politics. The lofty spirit of the marquis sunk under its intolerable 
j-ressure. This began more plainly to appear in the arduous session 
i f 1822. It has been mentioned that the king, after having on one 
occasion given him audience, wrote to lord Liverpool, expressing his 
r-larm for the marquis, whose incoherent talk suggested fears for his 
intellect, and urging to have medical advice obtained. The mar- 
chioness was at nearly the same time, on the same day perhaps, simi- 
larly alarmed by the same appearances; and his lordship's physician 
was sent for. The family were at the time about to proceed to North 
Cray, their country residence. Shortly after, they set out. In one 
or two days after that, by previous agreement with the marquis, Dr 
Bankhead proceeded to the country, and found him labouring under a 
heavy nervous attack. On the next day this continued, and indicated 
derangement by one of its most usual indications, the morbid suspicion 
of conspiracy. The following morning, his lordship was seen to rush 
into his dressing-room, whither Dr Bankhend, on being apprized of 
the circumstance, followed him. He just arrived in time to witness, 
hut late to interrupt, the last fatal deed. The n arquis, standing with 
his back to the doctor, was in the act of cutting his throat. He per- 
ceived the doctor coming forward, and called out " Bankhead, let 
*'.\Q fall upon your arm; it is all over!" The carotid artery was cut, 
as by the skill of an anatomist, with a narrow but deep wound, 
which must have been guided by deliberate inquiry. " The most 
< xpert surgeon, if endeavouring to extinguish human life with the 
utmost promptitude, could not have effected the obj-. ct more scien- 

The marquis was exposed to many disadvantages. He was a man 
of the noblest moral constitution of mind high-spirited, honourable, 
and independent. He possessed also considerable talents; but they 
were far inferior to the positions in which his ostensible and specious 
advantages placed him. An exterior appearance of the noblest order, 
both in person and countenance a graceful address, and much that 
was the result of real goodness with official expertress, and consider- 
able powers as a debater together with the advantages of rank, 
combined to raise him to an eminence which, under ordinary circum- 
stances, he might have maintained without failure. 

But he had to contend with emergencies which demanded powers 
of the highest order if, indeed, any human powers could come with 
honour out of the responsibility embraced by his 1< rdship. There was 
a rising change of public spirit, which was in some measure casting 
off the ancient conventions of the social state: it appeared, as such 

* Annual 01-itii r . 

PEIUOD.] MAJOR GEN. Sill 11. R. GILLESP1E. K.C.B. 131 

changes too often must, hi the form of license, insubordination, and 
the denial of all principles. The onward wave of human progress 
is, indeed, little governed by human wisdom or goodness: it is too 
often by the most vicious impulses that the fetters of worn-out pre- 
judices are cast off; and hence, justified by fallacy, and degraded bv 
wicked aims, the justice or the expediency concealed in popular ft-r- 
ments is little to be recognised. The insurgent impulse may be the 
result of some real defect in the constitution of things; but it infallibly 
takes the form of anti-social designs, exactions, and crimes. Hence, 
in troubled times, a strong control becomes essential to preserve the 
peace of society and the integrity of its main institutions; while yet 
a progress is silently and unnoticed working its way, both in the posi- 
tion of things, and the opinions of parties, which afterwards gives 
force to retrospective enmity, when those who had to struggle with 
the emergencies of one time are pursued by vindictive recollections in 

In reviewing the authorities (all surcharged with rancour) from 
which we have drawn up the narrative portion of this memoir, we 
have to say that they are, for the most part, perfect examples of that 
want of candour which arises from strong political bias. This we do 
not so much blame; but it is to be observed, that in many of the most 
decided of these portraitures, the writer scarcely throws a decent mask 
over the republicanism and the atheism which walk hand in hand 
through his paragraphs. 

en. tr . . Oillcgpft, &. 

BORN A. D. 1766. DIED A. D. 1814. 

ROBERT ROLLO GILLESPIE was born at his father's house, in the 
county of Down, in January 1766. His family was of the first respec- 
tability in that county. His father, having no children from two suc- 
cessive marriages, when he again became a widower, married Miss 
Bailie of Innishangie, in the same county. From this marriage, the 
sole fruit was the subject of this memoir. 

Of his education it will be needless to speak. Born to affluence, 
with a lively temperament, and indulgent parents, it can well be CV_ T I- 
ceived that he was early led into the path of pleasure and dissipation. 
He was, nevertheless, endowed by nature with considerable talent, 
activity of temper, and love of enterprise; and, amidst the frivolous 
gaieties of fashionable life, he soon began to feel the promptings of a 
high and honour-seeking spirit. Of such a spirit, under the circum- 
stances we have stated, the army presented the appropriate field of 
exertion. His parents were, for a time, reluctant to see their only 
hope thus drawn away from the safe road of peaceful life. He was 
destined for the bar; but this intention gave way to his strong bent; 
and in his 18th year he was gratified by the purchase of a cornetcy in 
the third regiment of horse carbiniers, 

A considerable time occurred before he was placed in the way of 
distinction by actual service; aud in the meantime we have only to 



mention his marriage, in 1786, with the fourth daughter of Mr 
Taylor, of Taylor's Grange, in the county of Dublin. 

In 1791 he had the misfortune to lose his father. In the same 
year, he obtained the step of lieutenant in the '20th regiment of light 
dragoons. He had, with the feelings of a married man and a landed 
proprietor, been for some time inclining to quit the military life: he 
now determined to join his regiment in Jamaica. 

Ou the voyage, he had a narrow escape from shipwreck; and, on the 
first night of his arrival, was so unfortunate as to sleep in a bed 
recently occupied by one who had died of the yellow fever. He 
caught this horrible disease, and remained for two months in the 
doubtful struggle between life and death. 

It was the time when there was much alarm reasonably felt from 
the progress of French emissaries in their efforts to revolutionise the 
island of St Domingo their ordinary prelude to the inroad of armed 
usurpation. To avert from the British colony such a contagion, was 
an object of the most anxious consideration. The colonists in St 
Domingo had turned to the British for protection; and the commander 
in Jamaica was induced to comply. Lieutenant Gillespie seized the 
occasion to volunteer for the service. The intention of the British 
commander being known to the republican commissioners in St Do- 
mingo, they had recourse to a proclamation, announcing freedom to 
the slaves, to create confusion, and paralyze the resistance they had 
reason to expect from the planters. The British expedition was 
conducted with the usual bravery, and so far succeeded as to take 
the town and harbour of St Jeremie, and of the Mole of Cape 
St Nicholas. But, as difficulties probably accumulated to an amount 
beyond the force of their armament, they failed in an attack on 
Tiburon, and returned to obtain reinforcements. In the meantime, 
Mr Gillespie was advanced to the command of a troop, and had 
the good fortune to be thus enabled to take a distinguished part 
in the second and successful attack on Tiburon. This important suc- 
cess was followed by a determination on the part of the British com- 
mander to send a flag of truce, demanding a surrender, previous to the 
last decisive step of an attack on Port-au-Prince, the capital of the 
French territory. '1 he mission was considered dangerous, from the 
lawless character of the republican commissioner. It was undertaken 
by captain Gillespie, and captain liowley of the navy. They s \varn to 
shore with their swords between their teeth ; were fired at on the way ; 
and, on landing, were taken prisoners. The brutal governor would 
have ordered them to execution. Fortunately, in this critical moment, 
captain G. perceived some "emblem of freemasonry about the person 
of the commissioner, or one of his attendants;" and, being a freemason, 
it occurred to him to try the effect of some one of the signs of the 
order. The expedient succeeded, and had the immediate effect of 
saving their lives and obtaining a respectful treatment. They were 
honoured with a sumptuous entertainment, though the proposal of 
their mission was refused. They suspected some treachery still, but 
were safely dismissed. 

In the attack, which immediately followed, Captain G. distinguished 
himself as usual. We shall not describe the combat, as no special 


incident of a strictly personal nature occurs. Ihe attack was suc- 
cessful. It is known that, owing to the fatal ravages of the yellow 
fever, and the general unwholesomeness of the climate, the British 
were discouraged from any adequate efforts to retain their conquest. 

Captain Gillespie had received numerous wounds; and his strength 
was also much affected by extreme fatigue and the effect of an un- 
wholesome climate. He availed himself of a still interval to visit 
England. He spent some months at home, made arrangements respect- 
ing his property, and took a tour in Scotland with his wife. 

Having once more joined the service with an expedition sent out 
for the West India Islands under major-general Wilford, Captain 
Giilespie had part in the various transactions which followed the ar- 
rival of that officer. He soon rose to his majority (Dec. 1796), and 
obtained distinguished notice from general Simco in the succeeding 
spring. He quickly acquired a great command of local knowledge, 
which, with his usual promptness, talent, and intrepid activity, made 
his counsel of the greatest importance to the general. We cannot 
afford to enter minutely on the events of these expeditions. The major 
obtained from both general Simco and from general Whyte, who suc- 
ceeded, the confidence and the approbation his never-failing valour 
and military talent deserved: by the latter he was appointed deputy 
adjutant-general. When, after a succession of events which we pass, 
the evacuation of the island of St Domingo by the British was a step 
of great hazard and difficulty, the experience of major G. was entirely 
relied upon. But on this occasion he had the mortification to be de- 
frauded of his praise; for, as has in more than one instance happened, 
his services on the occasion were, in the despatches, attributed to 

It was about the same time that he was attacked at midnight in his 
quarters by several assassins. He was roused from his sleep by a. 
dreadful cry. Starting up, he seized his sword, and ran down stairs. 
His servant was severely wounded. On the major's appearance, eight 
ruffians rushed upon him. He defended himself with skill and pre- 
sence of mind, and six of his assailants gave proof of his valour with 
their bodies: the remaining two fled. He received several severe 
wounds, and lay for some time in a doubtful state, but at last slowlv 
recovered. His fame was by this exploit spread far and near; but as 
it was accompanied by reports of his death, his mother was so affected 
by the shock, that she fell ill and died. 

On his recovery, he returned to Jamaica, where the sense of his 
merits was so high, that he was recommended by the lieutenant- 
governor to the House of Assembly, for appointment as second lieu- 
tenant-colonel to the 20th light dragoons, as " having served with 
distinguished credit in several high situations." The house consented 
in terms no less honourable to the major. But the event was yet 
more gratifying: the memorial consequent on these proceedings had 
not reached England, when the same appointment was made by the 
unsolicited favour of the authorities a strong testimony to the high 
reputation of the major. In November 1799> he became lieutenant- 

We pass several minor testimonies, not less creditable. We shall 


only mention that, by a vote of the Jamaica legislature, he received a 
sword worth one hundred guineas ; and that, by a declaration of 
major-general Churchill as to his merits, we are incidentally apprized, 
that, among the services he performed, he had successfully led the 
storming of two forts. 

The lieutenant-colonel landed with his regiment at Portsmouth in 
1802. He had been, for some time previous, the object of private 
and most inveterate and malignant persecution at the hands of a bro- 
ther officer, to whom his high reputation was, perhaps, the object of 
invidious feeling. But, however this may be, it is well understood 
that there is mostly in every large community, in which there is room 
for it, some stirring and vivacious individual, ambitious for authority* 
without the talent to obtaii it in the lawful way, and therefore mor- 
tified by the success of others, and desirous to supplant them by the 
only means at its command low and slanderous intrigue. Such was 
the rival for honour that now hovered in prying obscurity about every 
movement of the colonel, misunderstanding and misstating all he did. 
These infamous and miserable attempts of petty rancour were as im- 
potent as they were mean. The whole of his conduct had been too. 
much in the light of day, and too high above the level of calumny. 
His traducer was discountenanced at head-quarters, and contemptu- 
ously repelled by those who best understood the state of facts. There 
was ignorance as well as malice in the complaints he made. But they 
made their impression with unhappy force upon the high and sensitive 
military pride of the coiouel himself; and for a long time he was 
haunted and harrassed by dark imputations, circulated as industriously 
as the tongue and pen of a malignant and unscrupulous enemy could 
send them. Of course there was a resource a court-martial is the 
best refuge for the honour of a soldier. But the commanders before 
whom the complaints had been made, by letters and applications, un- 
derstood their whole groundlessness, and did not think that they 
demanded so much notice. 

On the return of the troops, such charges acquired something of a 
different kind of importance. They could be circulated in a wider 
circle with less contradiction, and that contradiction less authoritative; 
and the colonel felt that his character could be whispered away by an 
activity of malice which never relaxed, and found kindred echoes as it 
went. He exerted himself to obtain an investigation. At last the 
commander-in-chief most fortunately saw the matter in the same light, 
and resolved to put an end to the affair. His enemy received orders 
to bring forward his charges. He did so; and, to the satisfaction of 
lieutenant-colonel Gillespie, his whole regimental proceedings received 
a minute, elaborate, and searching inquiry, which left no recess unex- 
plored, or no dark spot for insinuation to rest on. He was acquitted 
in the very strongest terms that respect and approbation could find, 
and the only result was a clearer and more public attestation of su- 
perior merit than could otherwise be attained. 

In 1805, he exchanged his regiment for one in actual service the 
19th light dragoons, then in India; and determined to travel thither 
overland. His journey was diversified with adventures as interesting 
to the reader, and as dangerous or disagreeable to the adventurous 


traveller, as any we can recollect. To retain their interest, they 
should be told at length: we must, however, simply mention them. At 
Hamburgh, he only escaped being seized by the French, by a warn- 
ing 1 from a stranger whom he met at the theatre, and who turned out 
to be no less a person than Napper Tandy. Having fallen in with 
the Austro- Russian army, he drew up to let the soldiers pass; when 
" an illustrious personage," attracted by the sight of two valuable 
fowling-pieces which he carried with him, stopped, and, having ex- 
amined them, deliberately handed one of them to an orderly, without 
the least regard to the colonel's remonstrances. 

In his passage across the Euxine, he became aware that the pilot 
had changed the stipulated course of the vessel evidently with some 
treacherous design. By a prompt effort of resolution, he compelled 
the fellow again to resume the proper course, and thus escaped being 
delivered up to pirates. 

Having reached Constantinople, and remained there for a short time, 
he proceeded by way of Greece for Aleppo. He had with him a servant 
who understood the language of the wandering Arabs. Falling in 
with a large party ; while they were at supper, this man ascertained 
that there was a plot to murder his master for his arms, to which 
the chief had taken a fancy. This person was, however, taken sud- 
denly ill ; and the colonel, who was provided with some powerful medi- 
cines, administered a dose, which, after leaving the matter perilously 
doubtful for a little, produced the wished-for effect. Gratitude fol- 
lowed, and protection took the place of hostility. Having made some 
stay at Bagdad, where he was honourably distinguished by Ali Pacha, 
he proceeded for Bussorah, and embarked for Bombay. 

He was soon after appointed to the command of Arcot. He was 
not long there before he learned that an old companion in arms was 
at the time stationed at Bellore. On the 9th July, he had an invita- 
tion to dine with this friend; but, by a most providential interposition 
of circumstances, he was prevented from keeping the engagement 
letters from the government having come, and compelled him to send 
an apology. It was the very night appointed for the first step of an 
insurrection, planned to commence with a massacre of the British in 
Bellore. About two in the morning, at moon-rise, the European 
barracks were surrounded, " and a destructive fire poured in at every 
door and window, from musketry and a six-pounder, upon the poor 
defenceless soldiers, who, being taken by surprise, fell in heaps." 
The rebels and mutineers then hastened to the houses of the officers, 
whom they shot; among others, colonel Fancourt, the friend of colonel 
Gillespie. These horrors continued until seven in the morning, when 
two officers and a surgeon made their way into the barracks, and 
rallied the courage of the remaining- soldiers to fight their way out. 

At six in the morning, colonel Gillespie was about to ride over to 
breakfast with his friend, when these frightful tidings came. With 
his usual promptitude, he collected a troop of the 1 9th dragoons; and 
ordering the guns to follow, he hastened to the fatal scene, riding all 
the way far before his men. lie was joyfully recognised from a 
distance by a sergeant who had served with him in the West Indies. 
His approach was saluted by a fierce fire from the walls, in defiance 


of which he made his way to a bastion in the possession of the 
British soldiery. They let down a chain of soldier's belts, by which 
he ascended, and took the command. His first step was a charge with 
the bayonet, during which the guns arrived. A sharp conflict followed. 
in which the Sepoys, who were commanded by their own officers, 
fought with desperation; and 100 of their number had fallen, when 
the rest broke and fled in every direction that appeared open to them. 
As everything indicated the privity of Tippoo and his sons to this 
conspiracy, the soldiery earnestly pressed to be permitted to attack the 
palace; and the colonel, filled with lively indignation, by the foul 
murder of his friend, felt a strong impulse to consent; but a sense of 
a higher responsibility suggested more discreet counsels, and he took 
the family under his protection. As the success of the mutineers was 
to have been the signal for a general rising of the native troops, 
colonel Gillespie's decision and bravery was thus the means of warding 
off calamities, of which the least amount would have been the fiercest 
and most extended succession of similar scenes. In all probability, the 
Carnatic was preserved. General Sir John Cradock spoke of the 
event in his despatch as a "military wonder" Bellore being a fortress 
of great strength. The Indian government rewarded him with a vote 
of thanks. He was appointed inspector of cavalry, a post in which he 
added much to his reputation ; though the Indian government after- 
wards were led, by some private intrigue (for such things then had 
existence in the Indian government), to supersede him. On the whole, 
it belongs to the faithful historian to say, that an achievement not 
more conspicuous for its heroism than important for the mischiefs it 
prevented, was repaid by an insignificant approbation, and by insulting 

His regiment was ordered home in 1807; and he, still bent on 
active service, exchanged into the 8th, or Royal Irish light dragoons. 
He was immediately after appointed to command the cavalry in Ben- 
gal, against the Seiks of Punjab. In this service, he effected, by great 
exertion and address, a restoration of discipline long lost among the 
troops intrusted to his command. 

Some adventures of less moment, though not less illustrative of 
the same remarkable heroism and ability, we are compelled to omit 

In 1809, from a wish for more active service, he made another ex- 
change into the 25th light dragoons. We have hitherto written colonel 
to his name, simply to escape the addition of a long title. He was soon 
after this time appointed to the command of Bungalore, with the brevet 
rank of colonel. The post was one of exceeding weight and respon- 
sibility, demanding, from the peculiar condition and existing state of 
the army, far more than ordinary caution, nerve, and conciliatory 
address. It was owing to the eminent ability for command of this 
able officer, that nothing occurred which demands especial detail. The 
best evidence of merit was his appointment to the command of the 
whole Mysore division. 

The island of Java, for more than a century in possessi ;n of the 
Dutch, was, by the ascendency of the French in Europe, now placed 
at their mercy, and occupied by a formidable force. It \viit. too evi- 


dent to be neglected, that the settlement was thus a dangerous vicinity 
for the British empire. An expedition was accordingly ordered, under 
the command of Sir S. Auchmuty, and landed in Java in August, 181 !. 
In the preparations, the counsel of colonel Gillespie had been con- 
sidered important enough to be the ground of much of the essential 
arrangements. He was placed in command of the advance of the 
troops. It of course fell to him to make the dispositions necessary 
to cover the landing of the expedition. On the 8th, possession was 
taken of Batavia. They were soon menaced by the rapid approach 
of a column of the enemy; and colonel Gillespie headed the party 
which sallied out, attacked, and compelled them to retire. Next 
morning the advance was ordered towards Welterweeden; where, on 
arriving at day- break, they found the enemy in possession of a very 
strong position, Their flanks were protected by two rivers, and their 
lines well covered by plantations, from which they were enabled to pour 
a destructive fire of musketry and grape-shot upon the British. A 
sharp action, which lasted two hours, carried all their points of strength, 
and gave them a total route. They fled towards Cornells, an en- 
trenched camp, five miles round, and guarded by 180 pieces of cannon. 
Preparations were now made to attack it. This formidable and 
brilliant affair demands a more full recital than we h ive space to 

In the position here to be attacked, everything combined to offer 
difficulties so formidable as rarely occur in the records of such opera- 
tions. Here the French had concentrated their forces, brought toge- 
ther their means, and exerted in a very high degree the best resources 
of military skill. Their lines, strong by nature, were rendered stronger 
by art. Sir S. Auchmuty saw the necessity of the utmost circum- 
spection, and resolved to begin by a thorough examination of the 
defences, and the surrounding localities. In the meantime, the lines 
of approach were commenced, and carried on with diligence; so that 
on the 20th, their works had reached to within six hundred yards of 
the enemy's. On the morning of the 24th, the batteries were com- 
plete; and a tremendous fire was opened upon the enemy, and re- 
turned with spirit. 

It was nevertheless apparent that the enemy must have the advan- 
tage of a species of conflict for which their resources were far better 
adapted, and that success could only be hoped for by storming. Of 
an attack, the difficulties were such as might have suggested despair 
to spirit and ardour less than British. Front, rear, and flanks, were 
anxiously explored, and presented each an aspect impregnable, or nearly 
so. The right, protected by the Slokan, was soon concluded to be the 
most assailable; but, desirable as it was to obtain more precise in- 
formation, the commander was reluctant to have it reconnoitred, lest 
his design might be suspected. A deserter gave the needful intelli- 
gence on the 24th. On his information, the plan was settled for storm- 
ing the lines on the 26th. 

The principal attack was committed to colonel Gillespie, supported 
by colonel Gibbs. The storming party set off a little after midnight, 
as they had a long and difficult march before they could gain the 
point of assault. The night was dark, and the way beset with obsta- 


cles, ravines, strong fences, impenetrable plantations, and difficult 
defiles. They made but a slow progress; and it required all the 
vigilant and active sagacity of the colonel to keep the right way. 
Colonel Gibbs, less successful, was most unfortunately separated from 
the advance with his corps, by the same obstacles. At one point, the 
advance was thrown into perplexity by arriving at cross roads; but an 
officer who had been a few days before that way, happily set them 
right; and the guide soon began to recognise objects, which ascer- 
tained that they were on the direct way. 

At last, as they approached the lines at the destined point, colonel 
Gillespie received an account, that colonel Gibbs, with the rear of 
the party was not come up. It was an anxious moment : to push on, or 
hesitate, were each laden with risks. He could not hope to remain long 
undiscovered by the enemy; nor could he securely reckon on the im- 
mediate approach of the rear. To avoid notice from the redoubt, he 
retraced his steps a little but after a pause of vain expectation, he 
justly considered that any longer delay would be to risk the failure 
of Che attack, and the whole chain of operations connected with it; 
and that although the force under his command might be insufficient, 
yet he might expect that his firing would bring up the rear, who, 
having daylight to guide their march, might come up with more 
rapidity than he had been enabled to do. 

Accordingly, casting away all indecision, he took his place at the 
head of a small but resolute party of 500, and moved forward to the 

" A deep cut across the road, close to the enemy's lines," writes an 
eye-witness of the whole affair, " obliged us to advance slowly, in 
order to afford time to the men to form, after they had passed over. 
The dawn of the morning now showed us the videttes of the enemy, 
who were posted outside, on the left of the road. They challenged 
us twice, and were answered, ' Patrole.' We passed on. An officer's 
picquet, stationed close to one of the principal redoubts, situated with- 
out the river Slokan, challenged us next, when colonel Gillespie gave 
the word 'Forward!' and so rapidly was the advance conducted, that 
the enemy's picquet had not time to effect their retreat, but every 
man was either killed or taken. A general blaze now suddenly arose, 
blue lights and rockets being sent forth by the enemy to discover 
our approach, while the artillery on the redoubts discharged their 
grape and round-shot; which, however, passed chiefly over our heads. 
The foe in the nearest redoubt had not time to reload ; for our soldiers 
actually assailed it at the point of the bayonet, and carried it with 
such celerity, that not a man escaped."* 

Colonel Gillespie pressed on: in the heat of the attack, he kept in 
view the essential plan of proceeding. The passage into the enemy's 
lines was yet to be secured. Jt was strongly guarded by four guns, 
and commanded by all the surrounding batteries. The struggle was 
fierce, but decisive. The colonel and his men carried all before them. 
Having secured the bridge over the Slokan, he rapidly entered, and 

* History of the Conquest of Java. Extracted here from a memoir of General 


attacked a redoubt within the body of the works. The enomy came 
crowding 1 like bees upon his handful of men; but they were men or 
the same stuff as the conquerors of Vittoria, and Salamanca, and 
Waterloo; and where no other troops could have escaped, they were 
assailants still. In the face of a tremendous and destructive fire, out- 
numbered on every side, they pressed forward with the bayonet, and 
the enemy gave way. "Here," says our authority, "several officers 
lost their valuable lives, in the verv bosom of victory ; and mtinv gallant 
soldiers were killed and wounded." 

Fortunately, colonel Gibbs, with his party, arrived at this time. 
A formidable redoubt to the right was next to be won: he was di- 
rected to carry it. While this order was in the course of execution 
in the most gallant style, the magazine of the redoubt blew up, with 
its mixed and dangerous contents. Great numbers, on both sides, 
were killed by the explosion, which for a moment suspended the fight. 
The captains of the grenadier companies of three regiments were 
killed, and the ground was heaped with the mangled bodies of French 
and British, frightfully mixed together. Colonel Gibbs and some 
other officers were thrown to some distance, but without material hurt, 

The French general Jauffret was at this period taken prisoner by 
colonel Gillespie in person. 

Continuing the same course of operations, colonel Gibbs now went 
on to carry the redoubts to the right, and colonel Gillespie to the left 
and towards the rear, under a heavy and well-kept-up fire, until all 
the batteries were in their hands. At this point, it is stated, they 
were joined by the 59th regiment, led by lieutenant-colonel M'Leod. 
With this reinforcement, colonel Gillespie proceeded to attack the 
enemy's park of artillery and reserve. They were both powerfully 
and skilfully opposed ; but in spite of every obstacle that a brave enemy 
could offer, they went on, making good their way from point to point, 
until their opponents, driven from a last desperate stand in front of 
Fort Cornelis, broke, and fled in all directions. 

Other attacks, of greater or less importance, were during the same 
time made; but it will be enough here to state, that the commander, 
by a well contrived feint in the front of the camp, drew out a heavy 
fire from its batteries, and diverted for a time the attention of the 
enemy from the real attack. 

All resistance being at last overcome bv the stormers, the armv 

O .' y 

advanced from every point to the pursuit. Colonel Gillespie received 
a severe contusion in the last assault, which, with the severe fatigue 
of such exertions as he had made, caused him to faint. He quickly 
recovered, and mounted an artillery horse for the pursuit: he was met 
by his own charger, and for ten miles followed the enemy. The enemy 
made several attempts to rally: at one place they came together in con- 
siderable force, and attempted a stand, with four pieces of horse-artil- 
lery, behind some broken carts and thick hedges. The colonel placed 
himself at the head of the cavalry, which, charging in sections, bore 
down all resistance. He took a general in this charge, as he had 
taken another in the camp. He also slew a colonel of the enemy. 

By the account of Sir S. Achmuty, a thousand men were buried in 
the enemy's works, and thousands more in the retreat. 5000 pri- 


soners were taken, among- which were three generals, thirty-four field- 
officers, seventy captains, and one hundred and five subalterns. The 
despatch concluded with a just tribute to the heart and arm of that 
glorious victory. " I must not omit noticing 1 to your lordship the verv 
particular merit of colonel Gillespie, to whose assistance in planning 
the attack, and to whose gallantry, energy, and judgment in executing 
it, the success is greatly to be attributed." 

We have given more than usual space to these details, though still 
far less than their interest and importance demand. The Peninsular 
war at this time concentrated the attention of Europe upon its rapid 
succession of splendid events and achievements; so that exploits which 
otherwise might have rung on every shore, passed almost unnoticed 
beyond the scene of action. We must however add that the exploits 
we have here but faintly sketched have, so far as the justice of history 
is concerned, been fortunate in the lively and spirited narration of an 
eye-witness, from whose account we have taken our incidents. 

This important conquest was committed to the civil government of 
Mr Rafles, and the military command of the colonel. He was, how- 
ever, immediately after these events, seized with a fever, from which, 
for a time, no hope of his recovery was conceived. Contrary to the 
fears of his friends, he at last struggled through, and was enabled to 
resume his duties. These were arduous and trying. The resistance 
of an open enemy was succeeded by the secret machinations of lurking 
hostility. The native princes were suspected to be on the watch for 
occasion to expel the Europeans altogether from their island. While 
engaged in the precautions thus imposed, he was summoned to the 
neighbouring island of Sumatra, where the native princes continued to 
surprise and massacre the European residents at the Dutch factory. 
As this island was a dependency of the government in Batavia, it was 
felt necessary to interfere. An expedition was fitted out, and com- 
mitted entirely to the charge of colonel Gillespie. 

Never, perhaps, have the details of any similar achievement been 
more full of romantic interest, or more decidedly illustrative of the 
uniform judgment, decision, and leading ability, in all respects, of its 
leader, as well as the bravery and steadiness of the force he conducted, 
than the arduous and formidable succession of trials and difficulties 
now overcome by the colonel and his followers. The force ag-ainst 
them was enormous, and, had it been European, scarcely, indeed, to be 
faced with discretion. But there was. on the part of the Malays, no 
want of the energy and decision to resist the unequalled precision, 
dexterity, and promptitude, which took advantage of the least slack- 
ness, unsteadiness, or inadvertency. We must, however, decline en- 
tering on a statement which, without many pages of detail, would be 
to no purpose. We can only, therefore, mention that on this occa- 
sion the colonel displayed, in a very eminent degree, those qualities 
which would have been equal to a more formidable and important 
expedition, and amply succeeded in the objects of his mission. 

He returned to Batavia, to encounter new emergencies, still more 
trying and formidable. The conspiracy, which had for some time 
been ripening in the dark, began to present indications not to be any 
longer overlooked; and to make the ditFicu'ty greater, the urgency 


of the dangers to be apprehended was such, that it was not thought 
expedient even to await the arrival of a portion of the force which 
had not yet returned from Sumatra. The means of the sultan (or 
native king 1 ) were apparently overwhelming 1 in amount, whether lor 
places of strength, or the arms and munitions of war, or for numerical 
force. The Dutch fort, which had been built to check the native 
power, was worthless, unless as a store. The British troops were 
comparatively a handful to a nation. After some formal uegociatious, 
which the sultan onlv attributed to fear, matters came to the decision 


of arms; and the sultan was stormed in his stronghold, defended as it 
was by a hundred guns, with all the impediments of walls, dykes, and 
gates of the utmost strength. The assault displayed the usual skill, 
spirit, and indomitable courage of the British soldier; and it was after 
suffering from many well-aimed discharges of grape, and surmounting 
many obstacles, that the gallant band succeeded in silencing the 
enemy's guns, and ending a desperate resistance of three hours' dura- 
tion. Colonel Gillespie, on this occasion, received a severe wound in 
the arm. The result was the surrender of the sultan, and the entire 
termination of the conspiracy. The political consequences of this 
victory were very important : they were secured by the ablest 

So many brilliant services happily did not escape the observation of 
the government; and the colonel was now promoted to the rank which 
he was, in all respects, so qualified to adorn, being in the beginning 
of the year appointed major-general. The commander-in-chief, in his 
general orders, at very considerable length, and with a force of lan- 
guage to which nothing could be added, detailed the services of this 
distinguished officer. He dwelt on his personal intrepidity and pre- 
sence of mind, his well-timed and prompt decision, and his wise and 
prudent arrangements. 

As this memoir is growing beyond the limits prescribed by our 
essential economy of space, we must pass much that reflects higli 
honour on the general, and possesses much interest in itself. He was, 
as is usual when there is a division of governing authorities in unsettled 
states, much thwarted in his wise and comprehensive views of policy, 
and had the mortification to witness the evils resulting from inatten- 
tion to his counsels. It was perhaps under a sense that his powerful 
conducting energies were wasted on petty arrangements, and small 
vexations, that he gave up his command, and returned to India. 

At that time, an expedition had been planned for the invasion of 
Nepaul a mountainous region, of which the inhabitants were re- 
markable for their turbulent and predatory habits, as well as for their 
courage and hardihood. They had become very troublesome on the 
northern frontier, where they set up a claim to a fertile district, pro- 
perly appertaining to the British dominion. An arbitration was, to no 
purpose, resorted to ; and after a fair award against their pretensions, 
these lawless mountaineers, despising the prudent temporizing of civil- 
ized policy, asserted their claim by seizure. The impolicy of submit- 
ting to such an insolent encroachment, in the face of the whole east, 
needs no explanation. The territory was re-occupied, and the Nepaul- 
ese expelled. The returned, and avenged themselves on the inhabi* 


tants. War was in consequence now declared, and an expedition more 
adequate to the occasion prepared. 

An army of 30,000 men, under four commanders, marched to the 
borders of Nepaul. This division was mainly suggested by the dif- 
ficulties of sustaining so large a force on that distant march: it was 
also rendered expedient by the shape of the frontier, and the local 
structure of that country. It was important to repel the predatory 
incursions of the inhabitants along an extended line of country, 
and to intercept the several points of retreat or concentration conse- 
quent on the numerous lines of height and valley. The marches 
assigned to these divisions are not essential to our limited purpose. 
While the extreme right was directed to march upon the enemy's 
capital, the division immediately intrusted to major-general Gillespie 
was directed to march towards the district of the Dhoon, to occupy the 
valley of Desrah. The two right divisions entirely failed to enter the 
difficult country on the points to which they marched. General Gil- 
lespie made good his way to the Dhoon, where his operations were 
properly to commence. 

The object of his operations was to pass into the valley of the 
Dhoon. and move on to the fortified camp of the enemy at Xahan; 
from which he could, according to previous arrangement, co-operate 
with the western division of the army, under colonel Ochterlony. 
There were two practicable passes into the Dhoon, the Timly and 
Kerrie, through which his division must enter. It was his intention 
to wait till all his forces were come up, and the 1st of November had 
been fixed for his advance. But he obtained information which de- 
cided him upon more prompt movements, to expedite his advance 
towards the interior. He was deeply sensible of the arduous nature 
of the service, and considered that the difficulties had in some respects 
been underrated. His apprehensions were considerably increased by 
the necessity under which he lay of numerous subdivisions of his force. 
He, nevertheless, made the complicated arrangements necessary to 
seize the guarded passes, and the ferries, and post his detachments 
at all the points of observation. The main obstacle to be overcome was 
the fortress of Kalunga, which guarded the entrance to the Dhoon. 

On the 24th, he inarched by the Timly pass for the banks of the 
Jumna; and, on the 25th, on descending into the Dhoon, for the pur- 
pose of reconnoitering positions, he received intelligence that colonel 
Mawby, whom he had sent in advance, in the hope that the valley and 
fort might be surprised, had attacked Kalunga, and failed, for want of 
correct information, and that " it was impracticable to take the place." 
It was unfortunate that, according to the previously concerted plans, 
he had a few days before detached a large force to co-operate 
Avith colonel Ochterlony. He saw the whole emergency a position 
of very unexpected strength, with a force inferior to the occasion, and 
the utmost urgency of time. The fort of Kalunga stood, by his own 
description, " on the summit of an almost inaccessible mountain, and 
covered with an impenetrable jungle the only approaches commanded, 
and stiffly stockaded." He, nevertheless, considering the necessity of 
the occasion, and perhaps remembering the success of more formidabie 
undertakings, determined to attack this fortress. 

Pr..iioD/ MAJOR GEN. SIR. R. R. GILLESPIE, K C. B. 143 

On the 2ijth of October, having- reconnoitered the place, he made 
his dispositions for the attack. These dispositions are to be found in 
his field-orders, but are not within the compass of an extract. We can 
only say, they are remarkable for their clear simplicity, and the com- 
prehensive concern they manifest for all possible exigencies. The 
several regiments were ordered to posts convenient for the lines of ap- 
proach designed for their respective attacks; and a signal was appoint- 
ed, on which they were to move simultaneously to the point of attack. 
During the night, artillery was carried to the height, and batteries 
erected at the most advantageous points. 

It was arranged that signal-guns were to be fired two hours previ- 
ous to the attack, in order that the columns might have full time to 
correct any errors in their distance, or lines of march through very 
difficult approaches. 

At seven, the signal-guns were fired; and of course, it was to be 
reckoned upon as a matter approaching to certainty, that the several 
divisions of the force would be up nearly at the time allowed for. A 
little after nine, an attack made by the enemy, and repelled, seemed 
to offer a very advantageous opportunity to pursue them into their 
works; and very justly considering that the whole of his force must 
be close at hand, he directed the assailing column to advance, sup- 
ported by the reserve, and covered by the fire from the batteries. 

This prompt conception had the expected success. The Royal 
Irish Dragoons drove the enemy before them to the walls. A long 
and desperate struggle ensued, in which the troops actually engaged 
conducted themselves with the utmost steadiness, until they began to 
feel that they were numerically insufficient to hold the position they 
had by their valour and well-timed attack attained. 

Most unfortunately, the signal had not been heard by two columns 
of the force intended for the attack; and thus, in this critical mo- 
ment, the major-general was deprived of half his force. Suspecting 
some cause of failure, he despatched orders to urge them on ; but 
though he took the precaution to send duplicate orders by different 
routes, they never reached their destination. 

Having stated these essential facts, it will be unnecessary to detail 
the circumstances of two efforts to carry the place, directed with great 
skill and energy; but which, from the entire inadequacy of the means, 
failed of the desired effect. Nothing seemed left to be hoped for from 
further attempts ; and the brave commander felt that the emergency 
was one for which there was no provision but the strenuous impulse 
which brave men receive from the heroism of their leader. On this, 
the major-general, of all men, may well be excused if he placed reli- 
ance; for no man had ever been more successful in combating far more 
trying emergencies than he then had to encounter: he had, indeed, well 
earned the title of " Enfant gate de victoire," so happily applied to 
another, not braver or abler man. Confiding in his wonted success, 
and feeling the whole importance of the moment incapable of ad- 
mitting the failure of British arms he at once determined to lead his 
men in person to the storm. He left the batteries, with the declara- 
tion that he would take the fort, or lose his life in the attempt. 

The depression of the soldiery was cheered when they saw their 


general place himself in front, with a calm and cheerful courage on 
his face; while he addressed captain Kennedy with these words: 
" Now, Kennedy, for the honour of the county of Down." 

The w r ord was given, and the men rushed forward with spirit. 
But while their heroic leader was cheering them onward with his lu.t 
and sword, he received a ball in his heart, and fell lifeless. 

There is no doubt left, by circumstances subsequently known, that, 
but for this fatal event, there would have been nearly immediate suc- 
cess. But this at once suspended and terminated the assault. 

It may be fit to mention, that of five divisions of force which had 
marched to the frontier, only two made their way good into the in- 
terior, and came to a fair trial of strength with the natives in tl e 

On the commander's fall, the next senior officer ordered a retreat. 
It only remains to say, that the army and the government, both n 
India and England, were fully sensible of the loss they sustained in 
this event; and that all the honours which nations can confer upon 
their illustrious dead were dispensed with a free hand. The memory 
of eminent men is, however, more dependent upon the results of their 
achievements than upon the actual quantum of virtue or wisdom 
which they required and employed. The cenotaph neither spreads or 
perpetuates its report ; and thus a most brave and illustrious soldier, 
who spent great abilities and heroic valour in remote and compara- 
tively obscure warfare, retains no fame proportioned to his debti i. 

There are some memoirs -which might be added to the preceding ; but as they 
nearly an equal relation to the history of the next and last, we keep them back. 



jWaurtc^ 23te5cp of 

DIED 1756. 

EDWARD MAURICE is so little known in the records of literature, that 
his name escaped our notice in the termination of our last ecclesiasti- 
cal period. Our present notice of him must be brief. In point of actual 
claim to be commemorated as an eminent character, we might indeed 
omit him, as no extraordinary activity or success in public life, or no 
great published work, presents the ordinary claim which regulates 
our selection. That he was the author of a MS. translation of 
Homer, would be an insufficient reason, as we have not the least 
doubt that translations of Homer, and of other great works of every 
kind and class, enough to fill more libraries than ever have been 
printed, have occupied the lives, and mouldered with the dust of 
countless scholars. But the MS. of bishop Maurice is yet extant in 
the library of the university of Dublin, of which he was a graduate, 
and is known to possess merits of the very highest order. So far as 
can be judged from extracts, those printed by bishop Mant, in his his- 
tory of the Irish church, leave no doubt as to the superior qualifications 
of the translator. While this admission demands its distinct record, 
we cannot, it is plain, prolong a memoir on the strength of merits so 
little public in their pretensions as unpublished manuscripts. 
Bishop Maurice died in 1756. 


BORN A.D. 1707. DIED A.D. 1787. 

THIS very able writer in support of revealed religion was born in 
1 707, and received his education in the Dublin university. Some- 
time after taking his degree, he obtained the curacy of Monaghan, in 
which his conduct as a Christian clergyman was no less worthy of 
distinction, than the talent and industry with which, in a very infidel 
age, he maintained the truth of revealed religion. With a salary of 
forty pounds a-year, he allowed ten for the support of his mother. 

From this curacy he was removed by bishop Clayton to the living- 
of Templecarn, a wild and extensive parochial district on the borders 
of Fermanagh and Donegal. Here he found a population entirely 
ignorant of Christianity, and exerted himself with the most devoted 
and exemplary diligence in their instruction. During this interval of 

VOL. vi. K 


his life, he wrote a tract proposing 1 "the revival of Christianity," which 
attracted public notice, and was attributed to Swift. It was, perhaps, 
while engaged in the arduous labour of a Christian teacher, in a scene 
pervaded by the deep spiritual obscurity which then prevailed in every 
class, that his mind was deeply impressed with a strong- sense of the 
scornful discountenance which religion met from the upper classes of 
country gentlemen. The able and effective work which he wrote to 
expose the infidelity of his time, seems to be strongly impregnated 
with such a sentiment. His arguments are stated in the form of con- 
troversial dialogues, with all the force, though without the refined skill 
and eloquence, of Berkeley. The argument proceeds on the fiction that 
a lawyer, a man of Inrge property, and a deist, visits the neighbouring 
parish church with his ward, a young- gentleman whom he is desirous 
to preserve from all taint of religious belief. Offended with the 
preacher for bringing forward some arguments in favour of religion, 
he invites him to a controversy; the clergyman assents, and the argu- 
ment is continued for several days in succession. Mr Skelton, in the 
management of his argument, displays powers both of statement and 
reasoning of a very high order, and a most extensive acquaintance 
with a subject of great variety and extent. He is greatly to be 
praised for the fairness with which he states the arguments of the 
deist, and as much for the conclusive force with which he replies. 

The popular value of such a work is not, however, quite commensu- 
rate with these great merits, \\hile the proofs of revealed religion, 
grounded on the ordinary principles of evidence, must always con- 
tinue the same, every age has brought forth some form of unbelief 
peculiar to itself: the successive refutation of each infidel theory has 
still continued to drive the sceptic to exercise the powers of invention 
in some new resource. In consequence of this, the controversy with 
the deist must ever, so long as it shall last, continue to shift its 
ground to a large extent. At that time, it was the fashion to oppose 
Christianity with an imaginary religion of nature, and by certain 
unfounded notions of moral obligation, which no one bu^philosophers 
knew, and which none followed. It had been for some time the main 
art of deism, to endeavour to supersede the Gospel as much as possible, 
without allowing it to come directly into discussion; and the artifice 
by which this was to be effected was, to steal into its place a mode of 
religion which was admirably adapted for the purpose. In a most 
irreligious age, when all that was spiritual in Christianity was by 
common consent so neglected, that its preachers were content to 
deliver ethical discourses, which might have suited the ancient schools 
of Greece, and the nominal Christian little thought of the Gospel, 
save as an ethic rule, it was very easy to exhibit the same rule as the 
mere result of human reason ; and thus, though nominally differing, 
the deist and the Christian would be practically the same. The 
results of such an artifice need not be detailed. It is easy to see what 
numbers would be happy to step across a line so narrow, in order to 
divest the rules of moral obligation of the penal sanction and the 
chain of conscience. From this consideration it will be understood, 
that the Christian advocates of such a time must have been largely 


involved in the discussion of the most entangled speculations, in whic'ft 
it would not be desirable for any one but a professional theologian u< 

In Mr Skelton's lifetime, such a work was of the utmost importance ; 
though it must be added that, from the very nature and causes of 
deism, there are no writings so little likely to produce any commensu- 
rate effect as those in which it is opposed. The deist is often a most 
amiable man, and in all other respects most reasonable; but his 
opinions are so strongly founded in inclination, and so slightly in 
reason, that he is unwilling to look upon them closely; and without 
being more vindictive than others, to resent the exposure of his falla- 
cious unbelief. Mr Skelton was impressed with a sense of the im- 
portance of a work which fills two laborious volumes, and went to 
London to look for a publisher. By his own account, the person to 
whom it was committed for an opinion was Mr Hume, who advised 
the publisher to print it. This work is, we believe, now scarce: it is 
entitled, " Ophincus, or Deism Revealed." 

He was no less distinguished by his strenuous and well-directed 
labours as a Christian pastor; labours then more distinguishing, as 
more rare. In our times, it would be as rare to find a parish clergy- 
man in Ireland remiss. Nor can it now be necessary to detail the 
laborious avocations which are familiar in every parish except those 
few in which unhappily they have no scope. 

Mr Skelton's work or name are little known beyond the limit of 
the theological obituary. In the record of the eminent and illustri- 
ous of this world, he can occupy but little space, however high he 
may stand upon a loftier and more permanent record. Had he been 
promoted to the higher stations of the church, he had ability and 
active energy and zeal to obtain a historical reputation; but he led a 
long life in comparative obscurity and poverty, fulfilling in times of 
great difficulty the duties of a faithful soldier of Christ, and earning 
for himself a better crown and a less corruptible treasure. 

He died iw*l784. 

&cb. r tlelanG, dF* C. CT. S> 

BORN A.D. 17'22. DIED A.D. 1785. 

THOMAS LELAND was born in the city of Dublin, in the year 1722. 
He was placed at the school of the celebrated Dr Sheridan. In his 
fifteenth year he entered the university of Dublin as a pensioner, and 
obtained a scholarship in 1741. In 1745, he first sat for the fellow- 
ship, without success ; but the next year, was unanimously elected. He 
entered into holy orders in 1748; and it is mentioned by one of his 
biographers, that his deep sense of his spiritual obligations was mani- 
fested in an essay then much admired, though not now extant, on 
"The Helps and Impediments to the Acquisition of Knowledge in Reli- 
gious and Moral Subjects." A few years after, he is said to have been 
commissioned by the university to publish an edition of Demosthenes. 
It was in 1756 that he published tl.e first volume of his well-known 


translation of Demosthenes, which was completed in three volumes, 
between that time and 1770. This, with the critical and historical 
capability displayed in his notes, raised and extended his reputation 
among the learned men and universities of England. Not long after the 
publication of the first volume of his translation, he published (in 1758) 
his history of Philip, king of Macedon ; and having in 1763 been ap- 
pointed professor of oratory by the board, he obtained no less distinc- 
tion by a dissertation upon eloquence; which having been attacked 
by Warburton and Hurd, he replied in two successive publications, 
and obtained, according to the opinions of the ablest critics and 
scholars of his time, a decided victory over both. We shall not here 
enter upon this curious controversy as it could lead to no useful 
end. The position of Warburton was, like many of his opinions, 
absurd, and ably maintained. He was a man of very high inventive 
subtilty and admirable skill in reasoning; but far from a proportion- 
able soundness of judgment. He had a love of paradox; and in 
search of it, was apt to overshoot his aim and stumble into fallacy. 
Leland's next undertaking was a history of Ireland, written in the 
standard style of the best ancient or modern histories, and yielding 
to none in the highest merits of the historian a lucid and masterly 
arrangement a judicious selection of matter a clear and simple, yet 
critically elegant style and a thorough freedom from the influences 
of party, from which it is so hard to escape anywhere, but nearly im- 
possible in Ireland. Such qualities place him in the first rank of 
historians, so far as the intrinsic merits of his work is weighed. 
There are, it is true, deductions enough to be made some real, and 
some not more than specious. The historian of Ireland is little likely 
to be placed in the same scale with the historian of Europe or of Eng- 
land, whatever may have been the success or the real difficulties of his 
undertaking. But in a country of which the political temper has been 
so triply steeped in party rancour in which the powers of vitupera- 
tion are exhausted to find language for the eloquence of party in 
v.iiieh no small wit and ingenuity have been spent to' *he dregs in 
misrepresentation ; in such a country no impartial historian could be 
candidly accepted. When writing- his history, the well-known abili- 
ties of Leland induced many to look to his work, as such works are 
ever looked to, as an instrument of faction; and he was much urged, 
by several men on both sides, to adopt those opinions and tones of 
statement most favourable to their own views. Such advice, however 
urged, he steadily rejected; and the consequence is, that his work does 
not meet the wants of any section of the public. But it may be 
safely recommended to the sober and sound-minded student of history 
as the " History of Ireland," which, so far as it reaches, makes any 
other quite unnecessary. We should not here say so much, even 
though deeply indebted to Dr Leland, were it not for the excessive 
flippancy with which his great work is commonly noticed by the col- 
lectors of biographical notices. 

One charge, made in no unfair or illiberal spirit, is to be noticed. 
The comparatively scanty notice which he has taken of the more 
ancient history of Ireland, has been charged on Dr Leland as a fault. 
We cannot concur in such a charge, it originates in a confusion of 


two great brandies of knowledge, nearly related, but intrinsically 
distinct distinct in their elements, and in the results to which they 
lead. The historian who undertakes the civil history of a nation, to 
perform his task aright, must pursue the remotest traces of all its 
institutions, and gather from the earliest antiquity the faintest light, 
which illustrates the origin and growth of its actual constitution. But 
there are many and important reasons why he must properly observe this 
limit. It is not merely that the objects of antiquarian research are, 
to a very considerable extent, unconnected with the main design and 
leading topics of the historian; but in fact it has also an importance 
of its own, and is too extensive and difficult to be needlessly combined 
with other topics of research and reasoning. The one belongs to 
the science of politics, in the broadest extent in which the term can 
be understood combining the statesman's mind with that of the 
philosopher: the other falls within the province of arts, languages, 
the natural history of the human race; and embraces a wide range 
of consideration, too wide, remote, and vague, to have any very im- 
portant application to civil and political history. Both demand powers 
of no inferior order, though much differing- in kind: and for each, 
the labour of a life would be necessary. The person in whom both 
should be reconciled, or the history in which each couid be fully 
entertained, would be the history and the historian of the human race. 
If, indeed, it w r ere usual to pursue the civil history of modern coun- 
tries back into the obscurity of traditionary times, we should not sav 
a word in excuse of the omission. But such has not been the usage 
of the standard writers: their notice of the primitive history of the 
nation, has not in general been more than a formal preliminary. No;- 
is this fact to be explained by the want of traditions or national 
monuments; for every great empire has its recollections and anti- 
quities. If any one desires an illustration, he may compare the lucu- 
brations of Niebuhr, with the histories of Tacitus and Livy. 

The investigation of Irish antiquities would have employed the life 
of Dr Leland three times over, and more than doubled his work. 
Scriptus et in tergo, necdum Jinitus. The success of the eminent 
antiquarians of Ireland, has not been so brilliant, many and able as 
they have been, that our civil history should await the termination of 
their labours. We would not be thought to think lightly of the 
antiquities of any ancient nation every unquestionable discovery of 
the true interpretation of such remains and traditions, offers a fact of 
importance in the history of man. It is, at the same time, impossible 
to refrain from the observation, that if such labours were to be esti- 
mated by the amount of their actual results, or even by the soundness 
and discretion with which these results have been pursued, their claim 
to our respect is slight enough. 

To these remarks on the writings of Leland, we may refer to the 
well-known praise of Dr Johnson,* and quote the following- less 
known extract, supposed to be written by Dr Pan-: " Of Leland, my 
opinion is not founded upon hearsay evidence; nor is it determined 
solely by the great authority of Dr Johnson, who always mentioned 

* See Bostrell's Life of 


Leland with cordial regard and marked respect. It might, perhaps, 
be invidious for me to hazard a favourable decision upon the history 
of Ireland, because the merits of that work have been disputed by 
critics. But I may with confidence appeal to writings, which have 
long contributed to public amusement, and have often been honoured 
by public approbation; to the life of Philip, and to the translation of 
Demosthenes; to the judicious dissertation upon eloquence, and to 
the spirited defence of that dissertation."* 

These works had been before the public, and the reputation of Dr 
Leland, both as a writer and as a very highly admired preacher in 
Dublin, had been fully established, when lord Townsend came over 
as lord-lieutenant. As he was fully informed as to the merits and ^ 
public character of Leland, there was, as usual, a very considerable, - 
though not very well-founded expectation, of his immediate preferment. 
This was, of course, owing to the public ignorance of the political 
principle then, and even now (though to a modified extent), adopted 
in the disposal of preferment. The support of the existing govern- 
ment, by the disposal of its patronage; to a certain extent essential to 
the existence of a government; is carried to an extreme, when made 
the ground of ecclesiastical promotion. It necessarily led to the 
evil of promoting Englishmen to the government of the Irish church 
a great injustice, for which there was no excusable motive. Not that 
the actual selections were in themselves objectionable; but that the 
not inferior talent, wisdom, learning, and piety of Ireland, was passed 
over with most iniquitous neglect. The expectations of Leland's 
admirers expectations in which he was probably too wise to share 
were disappointed. He could not, without discredit, be wholly 
neglected, and obtained some small preferments which could be held 
with his fellowship. The prebend of Rathmichal, with the vicarage 
of Bray, were conferred upon him in 1768.J" 

Dr Leland died in 1785. 

Keb. SHalter Elafce Utrbmn. 

BORN A.D. 1754 DIED A.D. 1805. 

DKAN KIRWAN was descended from a highly respectable family in the 
county of Galway. He was born in the year 1754. 

He was brought up for the priesthood, in the communion of the 
church of Rome; and in consequence, according to the custom of the 
time, received his education at a foreign university, the college of the 
English Jesuits at St Omer. 

At the age of 17j he was induced, by the invitation of a near kins- 
man, to go out to the Danish island of St Croix in the West Indies, 
where his relation had considerable property. The strong sensibility 
of voung Kirwan rendered the scenes of cruelty arid tyranny which he 
witnessed there insupportably disgusting; and he soon made up his 

* Quoted in Mant's History of the Irish Church. 

f M:iut. 


mind to return to his first destination. Having- returned to Europe, 
he repaired to the university of Louvaine. There he soon rose to so 
much distinction, that he was raised to the professorship of natural 
and moral philosophy a nearly incredible confusion of sciences. 
Previous to this, he had obtained priest's orders. 

In the year 1778, he obtained the appointment of chaplain to the 
Neapolitan embassy in London. Having left the embassy, he came 
over to see his Irish relations ; here, circumstances soon occurred to alter 
his views iii religion, and he conformed to the church of England. 
We think it necessary to mention, that we are in full possession of 
the very silly and malignant fabrication which a very low writer has 
contrived to rake together to account for this change. It is too long 
to be gratuitously refuted, and we therefore pass it by. The change 
is surely not one which demands far-fetched and inapplicable reasons to 
explain it. Mr Kirwan's professed reason was probably near the truth 
he thought he could do more good as a protestant preacher; and if 
the secret impulse of ambition mingled with, and gave added fuel to 
the fire of great native benevolence, it will not be set down as unwor- 
thy a man still young, and conscious of some high and effective powers. 
But, considering the moral and intellectual characters of the dean, as 
they are to be gathered from all that is known of the subsequent life 
of a very public man, we must confidently say, that it is quite impro- 
bable that he could for a day have entertained the notion of such a 
change, unless the reasons by which it might be warranted and justi- 
fied, had first occupied his attention It would be easy, if necessary, 
to show that such reasons are likely to be contemplated by every man 
of sound intellect in the church of Rome; and it is as plain that, 
until the very moment of decision, any possibility of change must be 
concealed. However unexpected by his friends, it is not to be pre- 
sumed that the conversion of this eminedt man was either sudden, or 
without the maturest deliberation. 

He was first introduced to the pulpit of the church of England, by 
the rector of St Peter's church, in Anngier street in Dublin, June, 
1787. Great numbers were attracted by curiosity. It was whispered 
by some, that he would display a vindictive enmity towards the church 
he had left ; by others it was expected that he would endeavour to 
recommend himself by denouncing it. All such anticipations must 
have been disappointed: he made no allusion to the subject. 

It is needless to trace the steps of the rapid progress which he made 
in public opinion. The effects produced, both from the matter and 
manner of his discourses, must have been very unusually great. It 
was a time when oratory was the prevailing taste. Always powerful 
in its effects on popular assemblies, it had in Ireland acquired a more 
peculiar power over public feeling, by its long-established use as the 
instrument of political agitation: a taste had thus been diffused, which 
had been improved and fostered by the influence of such men as Flood, 
Grattan, Curran, and other eminent orators, on the public taste; as 
well as generally by the native rhetorical temper of the Irish nation. 
Mr Kirwan was not inferior to the highest standard of the Irish tastf ; 
if second to any, it was to Mr Grattan alone. He did not possess the 
copious fertility of point, metaphor, or the ornamental play of fancy 


which gave a force and novelty to the sentences of that eloquent 
man. But he possessed an ample store of the most powerful ana ef- 
fective turns of thought, highly-wrought pictures, and forcible 
appeals, both to the feeling and imagination, drawn from his extensive 
ethical reading; and above all, from the discourses of the fervid 
school of Massillon, and the orators of the French pulpit. All their 
deep and splendid conceptions he reproduced in English, with a power 
of manner, eye, countenance, action, and tone, which could, we are led 
to believe, only have been paralleled by men like Garrick, Kemble, 
or Kean. 

In one respect, he had a great and signal advantage. It was a time 
when the pulpit was at the very lowest ebb, both of dulness and inef- 
ficacy. The infidel character of the age was more than countenanced 
by a style of preaching which had in it nothing to remind the hearer 
of Christianity, but a dull and frigid echo of its moral system. The 
preacher endeavoured to enforce the moral virtues on grounds exclu- 
sively prudential; and if any allusion to Christian doctrine was intro- 
duced, it was too evidently formal, to be understood as a thing really 
intended. The religion of society was that which the world is always 
endeavouring, by a nearly unconscious tendency, to work out for 
itself a purely secular system of ethics, which was called Chris- 
tian, to satisfy the forms of a church, and content the conscience 
of a multitude. But the commonplaces of the ethical schools were 
quite inadequate for any purpose of eloquence: the maxims of pru- 
dence were too low the abstract rules of right too cold and heart- 
less for the popular appeal. Mr Kirwan, whether from a sense of 
duty, or the dictates of a sound judgment, saw the necessity of a 
truer and more effectual groundwork. He sought and found it in 
the main truths of revealed religion. 

It is not, however, to be supposed that he went to the full extent 
of the doctrinal teaching of the whole practical system of the gospel, 
to which the humblest teacher of the Christian church has since ar- 
rived. This we do not mention in any spirit of censure. It was some- 
thing to have made a single step in advance. It was something in 
that unbelieving time to point, however remotely, to the Cross, and to 
arraign the intense secularity of the church-going multitude. If he 
did not advance the full efficacy and the true foundation of the gospel, 
he still went so far as to bring prominently forward those great practical 
facts and results which cannot be seriously entertained without a de- 
sire to look further for a refuge than human merits. The brevitv of 

O J 

life, the transitory nature and the uncertainty of its objects, the illu- 
sions of which it is constituted, the nearness and certainty of death, 
and the terrors of the day of judgment; these solemn and awful 
truths afforded the powerful and effective ground of his weighty and 
heart- moving appeals. 

It must be observed, that it is only from twelve of his charity ser- 
mons that we can form any opinion as to the matter of his discourses. 
It would therefore be unfair to conclude as to the amount of his doc- 
trines. The subject also was one which must be admitted to have 
imposed a certain line of topics. We must not, consequently, be 
understood to pronounce upon what he omitted; but, so far us our 


means go, to point out and value what he did. He referred to the 
specific design and main result of the announcements of our Lord, as 
the ground and motive of charity, instead of confining himself to the 
poetical and philosophical, or political appeals to humanity and pru- 
dence, which had till then been the resources of the pulpit. If he did 
not instruct his flock where to find redemption, he endeavoured to make 
them look for it. Perhaps to the impulse which he then imparted, we 
may (under Providence) refer the great spiritual advances which im- 
mediately began to follow, when men like Mathias and Roe, with far 
humbler powers, drew from a purer fountain, and diffused wider and 
more permanent effects. 

One thing is, however, certain. Kirwan " disturbed the repose of 
the pulpit." He introduced a new and true principle into the religion 
of his day. We have been thus particular, because it is usual to 
estimate his preaching by the requisitions of an age far different in its 
spiritual state. 

It is also to be admitted that Mr Kirwan derived success from a 
method of delivery which we apprehend would scarcely be tolerated 
in our times, unless in its more appropriate practice on the stage. Sir 
Jonah Barrington has left a few descriptive sentences, which perhaps 
give the nearest idea of the orator: " His manner of preaching was 
of the French school ; he was vehement for a while, and then becom- 
ing, or affecting to become, exhausted, he held his handkerchief to his 
face; a dead silence ensued; he had skill to perceive the precise mo- 
ment to recommence ; another blaze of declamation burst upon the 
congregation, and another fit of exhaustion was succeeded by another 
pause. The men began to wonder at his eloquence; the women grew 
nervous at his denunciations. His tact rivalled his talents, and at the 
conclusion of one of his finest sentences, a "celestial exhaustion,' as { 
heard a lady call it, not unfrequently terminated his discourse, in 
general, abruptly." 

The portrait of dean Kirwan, which was published as the frontis- 
piece to his printed sermons, gives some added strength to the con- 
ception thus imbodied in words. There is a considerable expression 
of much pathetic power upon his face, which, though what may be 
called plain, and what in common scenes might be thought forbidding, 
combined an austere solemnity with a heartfelt sentiment of commise- 
ration and distress, suited with wonderful aptness to the main topic 
>f his appeals. There is a strong, yet tempered, surprise and indigna- 
ion, even in the portrait, that seems to bring as a reproach the wants 
nd sufferings, of the poor against the levities, the luxuries, and infi- 
delity of a riotous and ungodly age. 

The result was proportional to the means. The collections which 
followed his discourses were profuse, beyond anything before or since 
known; frequently amounting to twelve hundred pounds at a sermon. 
Those who came to give their half-crowns left their rings and watches 
in pledge for their full value. The reputation of the preacher rose 
in proportion to such success. He was addressed by parishes and 
corporate bodies, and painted by eminent artists. 

The archbishop of Dublin recognised his merits by the prebend of 
Ilowth, and the parish of St Nicholas Without, amounting, together, 


to 400 a -year. Lord Cornwallis afterward, in 1800, preferred him 
to the deanery of Killala. 

He died in 1805, at his house in Mount-Pleasant avenue, near 
Dublin, leaving a widow and four children. As he had not been en- 
abled to make any provision for them, king George III., with his 
wonted humanity and good taste, provided for them by a liberal pen- 
sion of 300 a-year to Mrs Kirwan, with a reversion to her two 

of Srourore, 

BORN A. D. 1728. DIED A. D. 1811. 

FOR this eminent scholar and excellent man we are indebted to 
England. The long-established usage of transferring learned men to 
our sees from the English universities, while it has tended much to 
depress our church, and suppress many a bright light, has occasion- 
ally made amends in men like Bedell and Taylor, Percy and Brinkley 
men whose names are splendid ornaments to learning, as their lives 
and actions were examples deserving of record for all that could grace 
their stations. 

Of some of these illustrious persons, we are far from adequately sup- 
plied with any account proportioned to their merits, or the place they 
filled. For those who lived in former periods, history itself has 
afforded the materials, MS there were few persons of any eminence who 
did not, as actors or sufferers, enter largely into the current of events. 
We are now compelled to trust to the gleanings of literary notices 
and to incidental recollections. 

Thomas Percv was descended from the ancient Percvs of Northum- 

/ ** 

bcrland. Bosweil asserts him to have been the heir of that family. 
This would, we suspect, have been hard to prove; nor was the occasion 
wanting, or unlikely to be suggested, as the heirs of that race appear 
to have been extinguished with the eleventh earl, and the honours to 
have passed with his daughter into another ancient Norman family. 

He was born in Bridgenorth, in Shropshire, in 1728. The first 
rudiments of learning he received from the Rev. Samuel Lea, head 
master of Newport school, in that Shire. From this he entered Christ 
church, Oxford. 

Having completed his academical terms, he was preferred by his 
college to the vicarage of Easton Manduit, in Northamptonshire, in 
1756. In 1765, he accepted the office of chaplain to the duke of 
Northumberland. In 1769, he received the appointment of chaplain 
to the king. On this latter occasion, he took his degree of D. D at 
Cambridge, for which purpose he was admitted a member of Enrmuel 

During the interval, of which the main incidents are thus summarily 
stated, the character of Dr Percy for elegant literature and extensive 
scholarship had been uniformly rising into public eminence. In 1761 
lie had published " Han Kion Chonan, a Translation from the Chinese 
Miscellanies." In the year after, some Runic poems, translated freely 


from the Icelandic. A version of the Song of Solomon appeared from 
his pen in 1764, translated from the Hebrew, with a commentary. In 
1 768, his celebrated work, by which his rank is fixed in literary history, 
made its appearance. 

At the same time, his reputation in the distinguished literary circle 
of London was extended and established. He was an original member 
of the celebrated Literary Ciub, and his name occurs in its annals with 
those of Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, and Reynolds. With Johnson he 
had long been on terms of the most kindly intimacy; and in the well- 
known memoir of Bos well, his name frequently is met ; and his authority 
is often cited by subsequent editors, as conveying the most accurate and 
and authentic notices of that great and worthy man. Dr Johnson's 
opinion of him is handed down in a letter, on which Dr Percy himself 
has said, " I would rather have this than degrees from all the univer- 
sities in Europe. It will be for me and my children, and grand- 
children." Such a testimony is not to be omitted. 

It was in 1778, the same year that Dr Percy obtained the deanery 
of Carlisle, that he happened to give a dinner to a small party, con- 
sisting of Boswell, Dr Johnson, and Mrs Williams. In the course of 
conversation, Pennant was warmly praised by Johnson. Dr Percy, 
who recollected resentfully that Pennant, in his mention of Alnwick 
castle, had used language which he considered not sufficiently respect- 
ful, eagerly opposed. Johnson retorted; and a colloquy ensued, which 
was mixed with much sarcasm on the part of Johnson, who at last was 
violently excited by a very harmless personality. Percy had said that 
Pennant was a bad describer. Johnson replied, " ' I think he describes 
very well.' PERCY. ' I travelled after him.' JOHNSON. ' And / 
travelled after him.' PERCY * But, my good friend, you are short- 
sighted, and do not see as well as I do.' Johnson said nothing at 
the time; but inflammable particles were collecting for a cloud to burst. 
In a little while, Dr Percy said something more in disparagement of 
Pennant. JOHNSON (pointedly) ' This is the resentment of a nar- 
row mind, because he did not find everything in Northumberland-' 
PERCY (feeling the stroke) ' Sir, you may be as rude as you 
please.' JOHNSON. ' Hold, Sir! Don't talk of rudeness. Remem- 
ber, Sir, you told me* (puffing hard with passion, struggling for a vent) 
' I was short-sighted. We have done with civility. We are to be as 
rude as we please.' PERCY. ' Upon my honour, Sir, I did not 
mean to be uncivil.' JOHNSON. '/ cannot say so, Sir; for I did 
mean to be uncivil, thinking you had been uncivil.' Dr Percy rose, 
ran up to him, and, taking him by the hand, assured him, affection- 
ately, that his meaning had been misunderstood ; upon which, a recon- 
ciliation took place."* We need not stay to point out the amiable and 
Christian temper shown on this occasion by Dr Percy: it would be 
still more apparent, could we have ventured to extract the irritating 
dialogue from the beginning. But it is here quoted only to retain 
as much as possible the interest of the following letter to Boswell: 

" Sir, the debate between Dr Percy and me is one of those foolish 
controversies which begin upon a question of which neither cares how 

* Boswell's Johnson, vol. vii., Ed. I835 t 


it is decided, and which is, nevertheless, continued to acrimony, by 
the vanity with which every man resists confutation. Dr Percy's 
warmth proceeded from a cause which, perhaps, does him more 
honour than he could have derived from juster criticism. His 
abhorrence of Pennant proceeded from his opinion that Pennant had 
wantonly and indecently censured his patron. His anger made him 
resolve that, for having been once wrong, he never should be right. 
Pennant has much in his notions that i do not like; but still I think 
him a very intelligent traveller. If Percy is really offended, I am 
fcorry; for he is a man whom I never knew to offend any one. He is 
a man very willing' to learn, and very able to teach a man out of 
whose company I never go without having* learned something 1 . It is 
true that he vexes me sometimes; but I am afraid it is by making me 
feel my own ignorance. So much extension of mind, and so much 
minute accuracy of inquiry, if you survey your whole circle of ac- 
quaintance, you will find so scarce, if you find it at all, that you will 
value Percy by comparison. Lord Hailes is somewhat like him; but 
lord Hailes does not, perhaps, go beyond him in research ; and 1 do 
not know that he equals him in elegance. Percy's attention to poe- 
try has given grace and splendour to his studies of antiquity. A 
mere antiquarian is a rugged being. 

" Upon the whole, you see that what I might say in sport or petu- 
lance to him, is very consistent with full conviction of his merit. I 

am, dear Sir, your most, c. c , 


Among the many notices of Dr Percy which occur in the corres 
pondence of Johnson, we learn that, for some time after his promotion 
to the deanery of Carlisle, he continued to occupy an apartment in 
Northumberland house. Here, sometime in March, 1780, a fire 
broke out, by which he sustained some small losses; but his papers 
and books were preserved. 

Some coolness arose between him and Johnson, which has been 
ascribed to the circumstance of a parody upon the style of his versions 
of some of the relics of English ballads.* This incident was, however, 
at the time of its occurrence, far more harmless than it was afterwards 
made to appear. It was an unpremeditated effusion, in the natural 
flow of conversation at the tea-table of Miss Reynolds ; but having been 
retailed, circulated, and getting into the newspapers, it assumed a 
character which was never intended. That, under this point of view, 
it must have been felt painfully, can be inferred from the way in which 
it is mentioned by contemporaries, who were not aware of all the cir- 
cumstances; and soon after, Johnson complains, that Dr Percy went 
off to Ireland without taking leave of him. 

It was in 1782 that Dr Percy became connected with this country, 
by his promotion to the see of Dromore. Some accounts of his con- 
duct, and of the character he sustained in his diocese, are brought 
together bv bishop Mant in his history. We cannot offer these more 

O / I. ' 

satisfactorily than by extracting the brief account of the bishop: 
" Bishop Percy resided constantly in his diocsse, where he is said to 

* It was a parody 011 " The Hermit of Warkworth." 


have promoted the instruction and comfort of the poor with unremit- 
ting- attention, and superintended the sacred and civil interests of the 
diocese with vigilance and assiduity: revered and beloved for his 
piety, liberality, benevolence, and hospitality, by persons of every rank 
and religious denomination."* 

The retreat of one who held a place so eminent in the most refined 
circles of scholarship and cultivated taste, could not but be followed 
by the most kindly recollections ; and he still continued to be sought 
by the gifted and the learned. When Sir Walter Scott was engaged 
in his " Border Minstrelsy," a work similar in material and design to 
the bishop's, he constantly consulted and kept up a correspondence 
with him. His opinion of the bishop's literary merit we shall presently 

Bishop Percy lived to a great age, and saw many changes in Ire- 
land. He was deprived of sight some years before his death ; and 
under this afflicting privation, we are told that he showed the most 
entire and even cheerful resignation; with the true temper of a chris- 
tian, always expressing his deep thankfulness for the mercies of which 
he had, through his long' life, been the continual object. His last 
painful illness was borne with the most exemplary resignation. He 
died in September, 1811, at his episcopal mansion, and was buried 
in a vault adjoining his cathedral. 

Among the most popular literary remains of bishop Percy, may be 
mentioned the beautiful ballad, " O Nannie, wilt thou fly with me," 
to a no less beautiful Scottish air. But the fullest justice to the 
literary recollection of the bishop may be only done by reference to 
the notices which he has received from one who was the most qualified 
to appreciate him justly. In his introductory remarks on popular 
poetry, Scott says: "The task of collecting and illustrating ancient 
popular poetry, whether in England or Scotland, was never executed 
by a competent person, possessing the necessary powers of selection 
and annotation, till it was undertaken by Dr Percy, afterwards bishop 
of Dromore, in Ireland. The reverend gentleman, himself a poet, 
and ranking high among the literati of the day, commanding- access 
to the individuals and institutions which could best afford him mate- 
rials, gave the result in a work entitled ' Reliques of Ancient English 
Poetry,' in three volumes, published in London, 1765, which has since 
gone through four editions. The taste with which the materials were 
chosen the extreme felicity with which they were illustrated the 
display at once of antiquarian knowledge and classical reading which 
the collection indicated, render it difficult to imitate, and impossible 
to excel, a work which must always be held the first of its class in 
point of merit," &c. This high praise admits only of the one excep- 
tion, which the modesty of its author would not have admitted. 

The bishop was savagely and unfairly attacked by Ritson, who, to 
an irritability not quite clear of the limits of insanity, added the fierce 
animosity of a fiery polemic. His objections, partially correct, were 
urged with a fierceness and acrimony quite beyond the utmost delin- 
quencies of literature. 

* History of the Irish Church, vol. ii., p. 683. 


^lattfieto Young, Bte&op of lonfert. 

BORN A. D. 1750. DIED A. D. 1800 

MATTHEW YOUNG, among the most eminent persons to whom Ireland 
has given a birth-place for learning and talent, was born in the county 
of Roscommon, in 1750. 

Having entered the university of Dublin in 1766, he was elected 
to the fellowship in 1775, after which he entered into holy orders.. 
He is said, at the examination for the fellowship, to have obtained 
great credit for the knowledge which he had acquired in the New- 
tonian philosophy, which he cultivated with the ardour of high scien- 
tific genius. The period during which he lived in college was, in that 
seat of science, pre-eminently distinguished for talent and literary 
taste. It was the time when the first impulses of that scientific ad- 
vance, which began to show itself in the civilized world, were more 
or less felt in every literary body; and, though it had much to depress 
it, both in the state of the kingdom, and the constitution of the uni- 
versity, was yet entertained by the leading minds of the place and 
time. The university of Dublin, standing by far the first in Europe 
as a seminary for the diffusion of a well-devised and equable system 
of education, was, in its other capacity as an institution for the promo- 
tion of literature and science, retarded and depressed by the severe 
drudgery of the junior fellows, who were condemned to labour in a 
treadmill of rudiments during the more active years of life. They were 
compassed without by a sea of bigotry and political prejudice, party 
exasperation, and democratic agitation. To cultivate learning, de- 
manded a singular devotion, and a happy insensibility to the distrac- 
tion and menace of the time. There was, indeed, another grievous 
want: science had no public. There was no concert in the pursuits 
of investigation, and none of that happy community among the varied 
branches of knowlege, and their students, which now carries the 
slightest thought through the civilized world. Men like Matthew 
Young found little sympathy outside the walls of a laborious university. 

The engagements of his fellowship admitted little relaxation, and 
left less of that energy essential to his favourite studies. There 
was indeed a provision for such men in the arrangements of the in- 
stitution ; but at that time it was imperfect and insufficient. There 
were a few professorships, neither sufficient in number or endow- 
ment, which were from time to Time filled by men competently 
qualified for their appropriate paths of investigation. \Vhen we affirm 
that they do not appear at that time to have been employed to the 
best advantage, it is necessary in all fairness to add that this disad- 
vantage has been long removed. Men who were worn out by the 
severe routine of university labour, as well as by years, were raised to 
professorships, which, so far as lecturing alone is considered, they 
filled with exemplary learning and competency; but the years of in- 
vention, and intense and concentrated research, which draws deepest 
on the vital powers, were gone. And thus it was that men like Young, 
far from few in the Dublin university have so often passed, and left 


no trace of what they were. Young- toiled twenty years as a junior 
fellow, before a vacancy in the professorship of natural philosophy, 
to which he was elected, placed him in his appropriate seat. 

In this interval, he had, by the very unusual industry of a mind 
which never wearied in the application of the highest intellectual 
powers, continued to acquire vast and varied treasures in every branch 
of study, and made considerable and curious advances in speculative 
science enough, indeed, to prove the high place he must have filled 
in the scientific world of a later time. He produced several works, 
which manifested high powers of invention, some of which have been 
rendered unimportant by the subsequent progress of science ; and 
others, perhaps, hare never had their deserved reputation. Of these 
we shall say a few words at the conclusion of our memoir. 

But first is to be mentioned, that the scientific progress which 
has of recent years so honourably distinguished the university of 
Dublin, received its earliest impulse from Dr Young. Much addicted 
to intellectual conversation, and hardly more remarkable for genius 
than for his social virtues, he uniformly exerted himself to promote 
the intercourse of the better minds in the university. Among other 
results of this nature, he brought together a society for the promotion 
of sound theological learning. It was composed of the best and 
ablest men in college, and lasted many years. As its members were 
for the most part men eminent in scientific learning, it gave birth to 
another society, of which Dr Young was also the main spirit. The 
members of this constituted afterwards the Royal Irish Academy, now 

*f * 

among the few very highest scientific centres in the civilized world, 
emanating and receiving its main intellectual life from the university ; 
from which, like some main artery of the heart, it communicates with 
and sends life into the best mind of the country. Of this, Dr Young 
was, during the latter years of his life, the most distinguished mem- 
ber; and the early volumes of the Transactions are adorned by numer- 
ous proofs of his talent and varied research. 

On his appointment to the chair of natural philosophy, he devoted 
himself to its duties. A new and improved system of philosophical 
instruments gave new aid to his lectures, which were soon raised to 
a reputation till then unknown. 

To the firmness and independent spirit of Dr Young is prima- 
rily due one of the most important benefits to the university, con- 
ferred in the abatement of a flagitious and destructive abuse. For a 
long succession of years anterior to 179U the provosts of the univer- 
sity had been accumulating an unconstitutional control the natural 
effect, perhaps, of the influence of station and authority, when acting 
on a very narrow compass. The fellowship, according to the statutes, 
and to the practice before and since, was the attainment of successful 
competition, awarded by the majority of the senior fellows ; but, for 
some time, the provost had asserted a right of nomination. On 
all other questions, a veto was pretended to. The consequences need 
not be detailed. Dr Young drew up a memorial on the subject, 
which, Dr Magee has remarked, would do honour to " the ablest 
and best-informed legal understanding." The attention of the uni- 
versity was thus awakened; and the next year, the question was for- 


mally brought before the visitors. Happily, the vice-chancellor of 
that day was a man of the most uncompron ising firmness and integ- 
rity of principle lord Fitzgibbon; himself one of the most dis- 
tinguished students in the under graduate course, the university ever 
produced; and these abuses were put a final stop to, by a judicial 

His treatise on the " Phenomena of Sounds," had been published 
in 1784, two years before. He was engaged in, and had nearly com- 
pleted his favourite work on the Newtonian calculus, when the see of 
Clonfert became vacant. Earl Cornwallis was at the time lord-lieu 
tenant. He nobly and wisely set aside the claims of many a courtly 
aspirant, and asked for the most deserving: the most deserving was 
Dr Young. 

It is needless to dwell upon the few incidents of two years, in which 
he laid aside his great work, to fulfil his still more important duties 
as an overseer of the church. It was an interval painfully illustra- 
tive of the uncertainty of all worldly success. " His consecration 
took place on the third of February; and nearly at the same moment, 
the dreadful malady, which terminated so fatally, made its appear- 
ance. At first only a small ulcer on the tongue, it occasioned little 
alarm; but the duty to which he was called at the primary visitation 
of his diocese, of giving a public exhortation to his clergy, produced 
such an exaggeration of the complaint, as gave serious cause for 
apprehension. Its horrid progress was henceforth continual. His 
utterance became painful, and gradually inarticulate. The disorder 
spread to the throat. To the dreadful pain attendant upon cancer 
was added the torture arising from the application of the violent reme- 
dies which were judged necessary. Hopeless of relief from regular 
practitioners, he went to seek it at Whitworth, in Lancashire ; and 
there, after near five months of extreme suffering, he expired, on the 
28th of November, 1800, in the fiftieth year of his age/'* 

The same writer mentions further: " It will hardly be credited, 
that during the rapid progress of this deplorable malady, he drew up 
from his lectures his ' Analysis of the Principles of Natural Philo- 
sophy,' and superintended the publication with accuracy and correct- 
ness scarcely to be equalled laboured in the improvement of his com- 
ment on the first book of Newton's Principia wrote an essay on 
sophisms, collecting examples of the several species from the works 
of the deistical writers, thus at the same time serving the causes 
of science and religion made himself acquainted with the Syriac 
language, and completed a translation of the Psalms, of which before 
his illness he had done little more than sketch out the plan and drew 
up a demonstration a priori of the attributes of the Deity. These last 
two works occupied his attention as long as he could hold a pen, and 
were the subject of his correspondence till within a very few weeks 
of his death. The axioms which he assumed as the foundation of his 
proof of the existence of a God, are discussed by him in a letter to 
the provost, dated the tenth of last October !"-J* 

It remains to take some brief, and of course inadequate, notice of 

* Appendix to Dr Elrington's Funeral Discourse. f Ib. 


his literary character and works. To enter adequately upon the in- 
vestigations of mathematics and physical science, neither belongs to 
a popular history, nor could answer any purpose for which we are 
engaged. His great work was not quite prepared for the press at 
his death. There yet remains a manuscript, of which if the merit is 
at all answerable to the description, or to the character of the 
author, the publication would be most desirable. We mean the essay 
mentioned in the foregoing extract, and which is said to consist of 
exemplifications of the several species of sophisms, collected from the 
works of infidel writers. A plan of the utmost value to logic. No 
sound-minded person who is intimately conversant with this inge- 
nious though unsolid class, can fail to be aware how admirably 
fertile is the field it offers for the fullest illustration of every species 
of fallacy, disguised by all the arts of writing. In the long and con- 
tinued controversy between Deism and Christianity, the utmost in- 
genuity of the most subtle minds has been exhausted in the effort 
to disprove the plainest, the clearest, and most complete body of 
proof that has existence; and in this daring and desperate task, 
the whole genius of fallacy has lavished its best and most curious 
efforts. This is the more important, because logical writers have 
not generally been very successful in the examples which they have 
invented. Mr Hume, whose genius in inventing sophisms, and ad- 
mirable dexterity in disguising them by fine and gradual transitions, 
succeeded so long in perplexing the metaphysical world (the world of 
words), would supply many chapters of the most instructive analysis, 
to illustrate the various departures from right reason, and display the 
consequences. Should Dr Young's collection bear any proportion to 
his academic reputation, we must say that the publication of his MS. 
would be a desirable present to the reasoning portion of the 

The scientific labours of Dr Young have not met their appropri- 
ate recompense. In part, because they were not adequately brought 
before the public; partly, because at the time, there was (properly 
speaking) no scientific circle beyond the walls of the universities; 
and, most of all, from the rapid development which every branch of 
scientific investigation has since received. Hence it occurs, that in 
the historical notices of science, in which far inferior men are named, 
the name of Dr Matthew Young has not its place. It is now too 
late to repair the omission. The following is the list of his works : 
" The Phenomena of Sounds and of Musical Strings;" " The Force 
of Testimony;" " The Number of Prismatic Colours in Solar Light;" 
"On the Precession of the Equinoxes;" "Principles of Natural 

&*b t SSStlltam Hamilton. 

DIED A. D. 1797. 

THE Rev. William Hamilton was a fellow of the university of DuMin, 
from which he retired on the college-living of Fanet, in the county 
of Donegal. 



He has merited commemoration by some writings which attracted 
great and well-merited notice at the time. In his " Letters on the 
Coast of the County of Antrim," his speculations on the geological 
and mineralogical character of that interesting district, drew the 
attention of scientific men in every part of Europe. 

To the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, he contributed 
"An Account of Experiments for determining the Temperature of 
the Earth's Surface in Ireland." 

His efforts to maintain tranqullity in the surrounding country had 
been long successful, and obtained for him the love and veneration of 
every class; when the evil spirit of revolt, then rapidly diffusing its 
fatal influence, at last reached his county. He naturally became the 
object of conspiracy. 

One evening in March, 1797, he was returning home from a visit 
to the bishop of Raphoe. Meeting some impediment at the ferry 
over the Swilly, he took the occasion to call at Dr Waller's of Sharon, 
and yielded to a pressing invitation to stay for the night. That night, 
at nine o'clock, Mr Waller's house was surrounded by a gang of 
armed miscreants, who fired several shots in through the window of 
the sitting-room. Mrs Waller was killed. They next threatened to 
burn the house, unless Mr Hamilton should be given up to them. In 
this dreadful emergency, the servants took the authority in their own 
hands; a horrible scene too revolting for description ensued. Every 
feeling but the cowardlv instinct of self-preservation was forgotten. 


The unfortunate gentleman made a desperate struggle for his life, 
and a diabolical ingenuity was used to overcome his resistance. Having 

o * 

clung to the stair-case with a strong gr,"sp, he was compelled to let 
go his hold by the application of a lighted candle to his hands. And 
thus, when all resistance was overcome, he was dragged to the door 
and thrust out to the blood thirsty miscreants, by whom he was, of 
course, instantaneously murdered. 

!3r $ug6 Hamilton, 

BORN A. D. 17-9 DIED A. D. 1805. 

UP to the most recent period, there may be traced many signs of a 
reluctance, among the historians of learning, to do justice to several 
most distinguished Irishmen. Of this, bishop Hamilton offers an 

This distinguished mathematician was born in the county of Dublin, 
in 1729; entered the university of Dublin; and in 1751, when yet in 
his 22d year, obtained the fellowship. 

In 1758, he published a " Geometrical Treatise of the Conic Sec- 
tions," &c. It was eminently successful, and was soon adopted in all the 
British universities, and approved in general by mathematicians. The 
previous writers who had adopted the same general method of treating 
this branch of science, had used methods of proof which were either 
too narrow, or too prolix and circuitous. Dr Hamilton was the first 
to deduce the properties of the conic section from the properties of 


the cone, by demonstrations which were general, unencumbered by 
lemmas, and proceeding in a more natural and perspicuous order. 

In 1759, Dr Hamilton was elected professor of natural philosophy. 
In 1764, he retired on a college living. After some further changes, 
he obtained the deanery of Armagh. In 1796, he was promoted to 
the see of Clonfert: the appointment was made without any solicita- 
tion, or even knowledge, on his part. 

He died 1st December, 1805. 

DIED A. D. 1802. 

ARTHUR O'LEARY is now recollected for his wit, humour, and social 
qualifications. But he was a man of great worth, and sterling practi- 
cal sense and integrity. He was born at Cork, and went in early life 
to France, where he studied at the college of St Maloes. In due 
course of time he became a Capuchin friar of the order of St Francis. 
He obtained an appointment, as chaplain to the English prisoners, 
during the seven years' war, with a small stipend from the French 

On his return to Ireland, he distinguished himself by his well- 
directed efforts to dispel the prejudices of the people, on points essen- 
tially connected with their welfare and the peace and improvement 
of the kingdom. There existed at that time a strong and general 
desire for the relief of the people of Ireland from the severe pressure 
of the penal laws affecting the papists. The difficulty was very con- 
siderable, and the question was perplexed on either side by objections 
nearly insuperable. On one side was the illegal and extra-constitutional 
authority of the pope ; on the other, the absolute impediment to national 
progress, presented by such a state of law. It was evident to every 
sound understanding, that the existence of a secret working foreign 
jurisdiction over the conscience of a people, imperatively demanded the 
counterbalance of a stringent system of control and exclusion. It was 
no less certain, that no kingdom could have peace or attain civil pro- 
sperity, with divisions and inequalities, distrust and animosities, per- 
vading and poisoning its entire system. Such was the question, of 
which, as usual in all such questions, some saw one side and some 
another; while few, indeed, seem to have perceived its real difficulty, 
or actual merits. 

O'Leary, with the practical good sense of his character, spoke and 
acted with courage and clear discrimination. He endeavoured to 
prevail on his countrymen to take advantage of the favourable dis- 
position of their rulers, by conforming themselves to the essential 
conditions of the constitution, and showed them the contradiction of 
asking for the immunities and privileges of a state, the authority of 
which they rejected. 

In a tract entitled " Loyalty Asserted," he endeavoured to main- 
tain that the Romanists might conscientiously swear that the po;>f 
had no temporal authority in Ireland. In this he was streuuou&.v 


opposed by bis brethren. It is now superfluous to discuss the value 
of the proposed concession; nor under any circumstances, should we 
enter upon the consideration here: we would only guard against the 
implication of any intent to convey our private opinion on the merits 
of the proposal. It is obvious that the question would remain, to what 
extent (in the particular case of the papal church) temporal dominion 
may be involved in spiritual. 

It is evident, from all the writings of O'Leary, that he was a man 
of a clear and liberal understanding, who saw the real position and 
wants of his unfortunate country, and did all that lay in his power to 
breathe peace and right-mindedness. His efforts were on some occa- 
sions successful in repressing the spirit of grievous outrage. And it 
was admitted by the government, that he did much good, and pre- 
vented much mischief. 

But the cloud of prejudices, the irritation of discontent, and the 
excitement of republican agitation, grew beyond the power of human 
influence. A man like O Leary could not, in such an interval as the 
period of the Tones, Russells, &c., hope to maintain any authority 
with the Irish populace. He retired to England. There he acted 
for several years as clergyman to the Roman Catholic chapel in Soho 
Square, and lived peacefully, and respected by every class and com- 

He died at an advanced age, in 1802. 

His writings have been published in one small volume. They in- 
dicate all the clear good sense for which he was remarkable. Some 
of his sayings are preserved, and have passed into the common stock 
of social humour. One specimen at least has preserved the name of 
its author. Some one who attempted, with great petulance, to draw 
him into a dispute on purgatory, was told with quiet humour by 
O'Leary, "You may go farther, and fare worse." 


BOKN A. D. 1C87. DIED A. D. 1765. 

DR MADDEN was born in 16^7, and graduated in the university of 
Dublin. He acquired a high reputation, in his own day, for learn- 
ing and talent; but his claim upon the memory and the gratitude of 
posterity, rests on benefits of an extensive and permanent kind, which 
are widely and effectively felt, though they convey no adequate recol- 
lection of their promoter. 

The notices of Dr Madden are sufficiently numerous. It would, 
indeed, be impossible that a name so connected with the most uselul 
institutions of Ireland, should be overlooked in any portion of our civil 
history. But we have not been so fortunate as to discover any notice- 
able details of his personal history. His monuments are thick around 
us, and present themselves on every side; our arts, agriculture, and 
literature, and all that has contributed to the bist interests of Irish 
civilization, are stamped with honourable recollections of Dr Madden. 
Such a man, whose fortune and understanding appears to have been 


mainly instrumental to tlie civil ancl intellectual progress of his 
country, should, it might be thought, occupy a far more considerable 
place in its history and recollections. That such is not the fact, is 
simply the illustration of an important, though not very popular truth. 
It is not the most exciting- incidents, or the most noisy actors, which 
impart the most decisive and important impulses to the real and per- 
manent progress of the social state. The loud disturber who agitates 
the passions of the crowd, will be traced by the calamities which 
follow, and by the stern and lamentable, though necessary results of 
retributive justice or controlling expediency. But the act which for- 
wards the more silent ancl slow-working tendencies from which ail 
real improvement grows, can from the very nature of the process be 
but slowly tested and indistinctly traced. A single sentence may 
throw the nation into the waters of civil commotion, tinged with 
blood, and leaving- desolation and delay. While a beneficent institution 
like the Dublin society, breathing a quiet influence upon the private 
pursuits of individuals; entering into the workshop the study the 
laboratory, to suggest improvement, and propose reward ; and, in 
something' more than a figurative sense, shedding a quiet fertilizing 
dew over hill and valley; operates like the growth of vegetation, only 
to be seen by sober, thoughtful, and reflecting observation, though 
happily felt through all the recesses of social being. When the 
statue of the warrior whose victories have fortunately been effaced by 
time, or the laws and policies of statesmen, have been outgrown, or 
repealed or stultified by experience, the results of quiet industry, use- 
fully encouraged, enlightened, and matured, will continue to be the 
blessing of millions, though not perhaps to bear the founder's or pro- 
moter's name. 

Jn 1738, Dr Madden led the way to the most considerable step that 
ever was made for the civilization of this country, by a pamphlet 
entitled, " Reflections and resolutions proper for the gentlemen of 
Ireland." In this most able tract, with a solid and sterling judgment 
and sagacity, and a force, and even elegance of style, not often surpas- 
sed, he suggested and impressed the real importance of the polite and 
useful arts; after which he stated and proposed his plan: " At as low 
an ebb as these arts are in Ireland, I am confident, if reasonable salaries 
were appointed by the public to two or three foreign architects, or if 
the linen or tillage boards, or the Dublin society had funds assigned 
to them to give premiums annually to the three best pictures, and 
the three best statues made here, or to the architects of the three best 
houses built annually in this kingdom, we should in time see surpris- 
ing improvements in them all." The next year, he again called attention 
to the subject in a letter to the Dublin society, in which he maKes an 
offer of 130 per annum for a premium-fund for the same objects.* 
Dr Madden's suggestions were adopted; his noble contribution to im- 
provement accepted ; and he lived to see the confirmation of his 
opinions, and the fruit of his munificence in a prosperous beginning 
cf a course of rapid improvement. 

But if Dr Madden has been inadequately repaid by the grat.itudo 

* Mr Foot's address in 1843. 


of his countrymen for the benefits already stated; others, which are 
certainly of not less importance, have been still more lightly recol- 
lected. If the beginning's of arts and popular institutions can be lost 
sight of in the splendour and magnitude of their subsequent progress, 
when through the medium of varied and numerous intelligence they 
have adorned and fertilized the land. How much less likely to be 
appreciated is the less prominent moral working, which, from small 
beginnings, sets mighty but unseen influences in motion, and improves 
the country by giving an increased momentum to its intelligence. 
Such was the institution of the system of premiums in the university. 
Of this most important change, the effect is by no means difficult to 
understand; we only doubt that it has been so fully appreciated as we 
think it deserves. It may be admitted, that the love of intellectual 
attainment is capable of very high development; but, unless in a few 
peculiarly constituted minds, and those not of the first order, this de- 
velopment is itself the result of acquisition. The vivacity and living 
impulses which mostly accompany the higher powers, have strong and 
early tendencies, which conduce nothing to the desire of rudiments, or 
of penetrating into spacious territories of knowledge, of which the uses 
cannot well be seen, till some progress has been made. Hence has it 
so often occurred that the most gifted men have been led astray in 
the commencement of their lives into premature appropriations of their 
genius, and been seen retracting their steps at much cost of life and 
labour, when experience has enabled them to perceive how much they 
have neglected the true ends of reason. 

Before either the taste for acquirement, or a sense of its uses, can 
well be attained, some initial motive appears evidently to be required. 
The love of distinction, whether for industry or talent, almost coeval 
with the moral conformation of the mind, was the principle selected 
by -the university on the suggestion of its public-spirited member. 
This principle was adopted, and in 1734, the system of premiums at 
the quarterly examinations, was adopted. The effects of this fortu- 
nate expedient for the encouragement of youthful industry, by substi- 
tuting immediate for remote results, is known to all who have received 
a university education, and may be understood by all who know any- 
thing of human nature. 

Nor did the honourable deeds here emphatically and yet too feebly 
and inadequately commemorated, emanate from an inferior or ordi- 
nary understanding, though on this head there remains but slight in- 
dication of what this eminent man really was. There is, however, 
an ostensible answer to the suggestion, that from a learned man, so 
earnest in the promotion of knowledge, and so sagacious in the means, 
some literary monument might reasonably be looked for. Such is 
not by any means, a conclusion warranted by strict experience. But, 
not to discuss the principle in the case of Dr Madden, there is an 
incidental fact of some importance on record. A very considerable 
scheme of literature, and which would probably have given a high 
celebrity to his name, was for some reason recalled and laid aside 1 
after its completion. The title of the work may explain the reason. 
In 1 T.'i'J, he published the first volume of " Memoirs of the Twentienth 
Century, or Original Letters of State under George the Sixth." Fi\e 



others were to follow. The public attention was roused, and a rapid 
sale commenced; when suddenly the edition was called in and cancelled. 
Such an account appears to carry with it a whole history, equally 
suggested by the title and the result, of keen, far-sighted, and pene- 
trating satire, and searching wisdom, laying bare the recesses of cor- 
ruption and impolicy, and showing the remote consequences. Power 
of statement and knowledge there must have been ; and, what is most 
here to the purpose, time and toil must have been sunk in labours 
which were frustrated of their aim. 

Dr Madden cultivated poetry, and his productions were not de- 
spised by a man like Leland, to whose life of Philip a copy of his 
verses was prefixed. That his verses were but indifferent may be 
excused, both because many of the ablest men have failed in their 
attempts at poetry, but because he lived at a time when the very best 
was hardly worthy of notice, and when the poetry of England was in 
one of its dark intervals. The sun of Milton and Shakspeare was 
set; that of Pope was in its dawn. The day of Johnson, Goldsmith, 
and the more splendid and vigorous race which was to succeed, had 
not appeared. The verses of Dr Madden's time are mostly astonish- 
ing for their destitution of all that constitutes poetry. A poem en- 
titled " Boulter's Monument," written by him, was revised by Dr 
Johnson, then young in his fame. It is mentioned in his life. Dr 
Madden is also said to have published a drama entitled " Themis- 

He was appointed to the living of Drummully, and preferred, it is 
said, to a deanery. 

His death occurred in 1765. 



BORN A. D. 17*29. BIED A. D. 1774. 

THE family of Goldsmith is ancient and respectable, and is traced 
by Mr Prior so far back as 1542 in Ireland, when John Goldsmith 
held the office of searcher in the port of Galway. A subsequent tra- 
dition states that a Spaniard, travelling in Ireland, married a descend- 
ant of this person, and that his children assumed their mother's 
name. They settled in and on the borders of the county Roscommon. 
One of these, the Rev. John Goldsmith, was one of the few who 
escaped from the massacre at the bridge of Shruel, in 1641. He was 
the ancestor of the poet, whose father was the fourth in descent from 

* To save much reference,, we may here at once state that this memoir is, so 
far as regards its statements of fact and dates, drawn up from Mr Prior's Life of 

Oliver Goldsmith. 


The Rev. Charles Goldsmith, father to the poet, was educated in 
Trinity College, Dublin, and entered into holy orders. He married, 
in 1718, Anne, daughter of the Rev. Oliver Jones, master of the dio- 
cesan school of Elphin. Not being possessed of competent means of 
living', they accepted of a house at a place called Pallas, near Bally- 
mahon, in the county of Long-ford, from Mr Green, uncle to the lady. 
Here they lived for a period of twelve years, struggling with difficul- 
ties, and increasing 1 their family. 

The scale of these memoirs must exclude many interesting particu- 
lars, which have now happily found a permanent record in Mr Prior's 
able memoir a work for which Ireland should feel grateful. 

On the 20th of November, 1729, Oliver Goldsmith was born at 
the place already mentioned. But two years after, on his father suc- 
ceeding his uncle in the rectory of Kilkenny West,* the family re- 
moved to Lissoy, a " respectable house and farm on the verge of a 
small village standing in his own parish, on the right of the road 
leading from Ballymahon to Athlone, and about midway between these 
towns." That the poet's recollection of this place suggested the prin- 
cipal local descriptions and characters in the Deserted Village, has 
all the proof of which the matter admits. Mr Prior gives much and 
deeply interesting information on these particulars, of which we shall 
make further mention at a future stage of our task. 

Of Goldsmith's childhood, much might be told. Such traditions have 
generally no importance, because in the eminence commonly attained 
by ordinary men, the genius of the man has little or no part. The moral 
qualities or intellectual powers commonly displayed in the affairs of lite 
offer little distinction that may not be resolved into their mere amount. 
When we are told of prudence, sagacity, varied learning, keen and 
prompt wit, clear and commanding reason, combined as they may be in 
various minds, we hear what most educated persons can thoroughly con- 
ceive, and what few are without in their several degrees. In the recesses 
of poetic power, however common to mankind its separate elements 
may be, there are depths of conception and creative invention unfa- 
thomed by the possessor, and a my&tery to the world. Hence the 
seemingly irreconcilable phases of the same individual; the compre- 
hensive reason, and the infantine simplicity; the slowness and dulness, 
concealing the accumulated treasures of observation; the second self, 
that awakens in the moments of serious exertion or high excitement, 
and presides in solitude. Of such combinations, on which we refrain 
from dilating, Goldsmith was an extreme instance. Those who have 
attentively read his works, and who are acquainted with the commonly 
known anecdotes of his public life, will be well prepared to learn that 
he was considered to be a dull child that his first instructress " ad- 
mitted he was one of the dullest boys ever placed under her charge, and 
doubted for some time whether anything could be made of him." His 
schoolfellows, we learn, on the same authority, considered him MS 
"little better than a fool, whom everybody made fun of." 1 he 

* These localities are here stated without any notice of the old and long-stand- 
ing disputes upon the subject, documents suited by Mr Prior having seillvd lac 
question beyond controversy. 


ease, indeed, appeai-s extreme; but there was a natural and eas'.Jv 
traced connection between the character of the slow and seemingly 
dull child, and the well-known etourderie of the man, which givrs 
it the importance of a principle in the exposition of a character which 
it is hard to contemplate without some curiosity. For this reason, 
we trust that it will not be thought digressive if we commence his 
memoir by a deliberate analysis of this not uncommon incident, of which 
Goldsmith was so strong an instance. It will, if we mistake not, much 
facilitate the conception of his character, and place it in a simpler and 
juster point of view than it has hitherto attained. 

Among those to whom the habits of children are most commonly the 
subject of observation, it is not too much to say that there is an entire 
ignorance of the human mind and its faculties. And the consequence, 
so far as we are here concerned, is a constantly occurring mistake. 
Not bein- aware of the entire distinctness of several of the intellec- 


tual tendencies, every appearance is resolved into one of the two opposite 
categories of dulness or cleverness a readiness to learn the alphabet a- 
smartness which is shown in bird-catching or in mischief a prompt- 
ness in acquiring the mysteries of the kennel or stable, or any kind of 
smartness and vivacity ; all very commonly pass for the promise of talent. 
It never occurs to the fond mother, and still less to the nurse or school- 
mistress, that in the occupations and pursuits of the grown-up world, all 
these numerous talents are to be seen exercised in their highest per- 
fection by persons in whom there is a manifest incapacity for all the 
higher and profounder applications of mind. It is not perceived ho\v 
destitute the smart stable-boy, or precocious little man who manufac- 
tures mouse-traps, or apes his seniors in folly, may be of imagination, 
of the reasoning faculty, or of fancy, or of moral or intellectual tact. 
These qualifications, less conversant with the ordinary minutice of 
daily life, and slower in their external manifestations, pass unseen 
by the vulgar eye, and gather force and material in the silent pro- 
cesses of observation, feeling*, and association. If marked at all, it is 
most likely to be by the impatience of minute details, and an insensi- 
bility to all that does not move the sensibility or awaken the fancy. 
Thus endowed, if a child has not much vivacity, it will pass for dull: 
if it has, it may show tendencies which will be called odd or wild, 
but which are likely in some way to be misunderstood by the vulgar 
observer. These considerations are sufficient for our immediate 
object; but we must guard against a possible misconception. In ex- 
plaining these distinct tendencies of human character, it is not in- 
tended to be affirmed that they are necessarily and always to be found 
separate, or that the same individuals may not frequently be seen 
possessed of a combination of the most opposite endowments. We 
merely assert, that such a division occasionally does occur whether 
often or rarely, is not of present concern. Goldsmith was pre- 
eminently an instance to be explained by the distinction. 

He was pre-eminently a poet by nature and it must, in these latter 
times, be emphatically added, a poet of nature. From the first dawu 
of intelligence, his whole mind was unconsciously taken possession of by 
the associations of feeling and fancy. In accordance with this, his eves 
and ears were governed, and his heart moulded by a spirit which threw 


the halo of imagination round even the simple vulgarities that sur- 
rounded him. Devoid of vivacity, ungifted with the common shrewd- 
ness of common men, he only saw the outside of the busy play of rural 
life arouud him. Prone to reflection, he soon began to moralize upon, 
but not to penetrate, the affairs of life and the conduct of men. Hence, 
he was unconsciously different from those about him: while he was 
more fanciful and reflective, he was also more simple and implicit in 
his notions. Hence the ridicule of meaner minds hence the frequent 
t'tourdeiies and hence the keen sense of ridicule, awakening with 
the years of puberty, called forth and gave a painful development to 

For the more clearness, the same elements may be traced also in the 
conduct of the adult. As new passions are called into existence, and 
new relations of life arise, the mind is forced into numerous points of 
contact with other minds; and conforms more nearly to the ordinary 
ways of life. But the habits and tastes are already formed. The 
intellectual faculties become engaged on the conduct and actions of 
men, and the poet or the philosopher contemplates and meditates on 
the players of an active and crafty game, v. hich he wants the art and 
activity to play. Instead of profiting by his experience, he melts 
it into the mass of his philosophy; and while he grows wise in 
the science of human nature, he continues a child in conduct. From 
this general consideration can easily he traced the whole of Gold- 
smith the irritable sensibility the moralizing simplicity the way- 
ward humour hurried and earnest self-assertion. \\e can also 
discriminate the goodness of heart, unchecked even by prudence the 
deep affections to man and nature the fond recollections of early 
scenes of unreality his Auburn, the poetry of his youth, in which 
fancy takes its tone from the deepest fountains in the human heart, and 
communicates to his verse more touches of irresistible pathos than 
are elsewhere to be found in poetry. Much more may be accounted 
for, from the same simple principles : but we fear to be led too far 
into disquisition, and reserve these considerations for further occa- 
sions. So far, they will throw some useful light on the main history 
of his life. 

At six years of age, he was committed to the village schoolmaster, 
Thomas Byrne; of whom an interesting account is preserved in Mr 
Prior's memoir. Under this person's care, he made no considerable 
progress. But the earlier indications of poetry began to appear. His 
sister's description of him at this period, is by Mr Prior stated thus: that 
his temper, "though peculiar, was kind and affectionate; his manner, 
for the most part, uncommonly serious and reserved; hut when in gay 
humour, none more cheerful and agreeable." Mr Prior follows out 
this description, by comparing it with the very similar temper and 
manners afterwards so familiarly known in the history of his London 

We cannot enter at length into some interesting statements, relative 
to the books which at that time were the substance of popular litera- 
ture in Ireland; works of the most absurd or superstitious fiction; 
histories of robbers, taken from the Newgate Calendar; and ballads 
without end. Nor shall we delay to trace the effects of such reading 


on tlie poet's youth, because though we agree with his historian in 
thinking it must have been very considerable, yet it is, according to 
our views, but secondary to the more general causes already men- 
tioned that is, so far as regards Goldsmith. 

Among the incidents which may have had a very deep influence on 
his mind, was one otherwise of some consequence. A very severe 
attack of smallpox, which became confluent, and nearly threatened 
life, left its marks upon his face, and thus exposed him to a species of 
coarse and offensive ridicule, which is the sharpest of all to the vanity 
of youth. From this the perpetual consciousness of a shame to be 
protected and vindicated must needs have begun ; and the weapons of 
retort must have been sharpened in painful meditation. Of this there 
are proofs in the shape of anecdotes, which cannot here be told. He 
began to acquire the reputation of wit, from occasional flashes of keen 
vindictive sarcasm. 

In consequence of this illness, he was taken from the school of 
Byrne, and sent to an uncle's residence in or near Elphin, in the 
county of Roscommon. There he attended the school, which had 
once been his grandfather's; and began to apply his mind more sedu- 
lously to study. 

He was first destined to the mercantile profession ; but the indica- 
tions of talent which now began to be displayed, led his parents to 
form a strong desire to give him the advantage of a college education. 
His brother Henry was already reading for the university at a school 
in Longford. Oliver was now sent to a school in Athlone. where he 


continued two years. On the death of the master, he was removed to 
Edgeworthstovvn school, from which he entered the university. From 
his schoolfellows, many interesting recollections of him were after- 
wards collected : we can only say of these, that they all tend to con- 
firm the sketch already given of his youthful character. 

We pass to his college history. He entered college as a sizar, in 
the year 1745, in his sixteenth year a fact which, though it is to be 
added that he was last on the list of the eight successful candidates, 
seems to offer proof of considerable attainment. It was the misfortune 
of Goldsmith, that he was entered under the tuition of Mr Wilder 
a man known for the irregularity of his own conduct, during the 
earlier stages of his college life, and for singular harshness and bru- 
tality after he became a fellow. By this gentleman, his proud and 
sensitive pupil was treated with the most galling contempt, and had to 
endure insults which even a firmer and humbler spirit could not easily 
have borne. These affronts he retorted at times, and thus added to 
the animosity of his persecutor, and made for himself a powerful 
enemy, where he should have found a protecting friend ; and if ever a 
friend and protector was essentially needed, it was by poor Goldsmith, 
whose mind appears to have been wholly destitute of all conducting 
sense, and who drifted at the random impulse of his passions. 

The condition of a sizar in the university has been humanely and 
beneficially changed: it was then replete with humiliations; and these 

fvere the more felt by Goldsmith, as the pretensions of his family were 
espectable. The income of his father was small, and rendered less 
>y improvidence so that he could obtain but scanty supplies from 


home; and mortifying- privations were superaddedto exasperations and 
humiliations. Such a condition would have tasked the fortitude, pru- 
dence, and forbearance, of a stronger character. It is not to be won- 
dered at, if it exercised the most inauspicious influences on the feehle 
and sensitive temper of such a subject. The sore and captious vanity 
which had been early developed by unlucky concurrences, was here 
inflamed, by contempts and humiliations, into an organic defect. 

But this was not all. In Goldsmith's disposition, the imprudence 
for which his race had always been noted, seemed to have attained the 


maximum point. His penurious means were squandered on the im- 
pulse of the moment that placed them within his reach. His scanty 
pittance was equally ready at the call of pleasure or pity; and the 
sustenance of a month went to furnish the thankless revel, or to re- 
lieve some well-feigned distress. It may be supposed that such a 
temper, with such circumstances, must have involved him in many 
distressing and many ludicrous embarrassments; and of such, examples 
enough will be found in Mr Prior's history of his life. 

He appears, nevertheless, to have been not entirely remiss in the 
pursuit of the classical portion of the college course, as he was one 
of the competitors for the scholarship; and though he did not succeed, 
he yet obtained an exhibition then not worth more than thirty shil- 
lings a-year. 

In 1747, his father died; and his means of support, always scanty, 
became still more so. The remittances from home were at an end, 
and he became dependent on the kindness of such of his relations as 
could spare an occasional contribution to his necessities; and but for 
this, he should have entirely relinquished his studies. 

Among the friends to whom he was thus indebted, the principal 
was the Rev, Thomas Contarine, who had married his aunt a jren- 


tleman of whose origin and personal history Mr Prior gives a most 
curious and interesting account. 

With all these disadvantages and difficulties, he possessed a san- 
guine temper, which, if it led him into indiscretions, still suggested 
hopes. Though mortified by the dislike of his tutor, he possessed the 
good-will of his class-fellows, who loved his amiability and his convivial 
talents, and pitied his weaknesses: among these he was treated with 
friendly respect and regard. In their freaks and sports he took a 
prominent part; and in the convivialities to which, at that time, the 
youth of the country were (like their fathers) too much addicted, his 
song and story were among the best attractions. It is indeed known, 
that among the expedients to which he was compelled to resort for 
the means of subsistence, was the composition of ballads for the street 
singers, and that he sold these performances for five shillings a-piece. 
With his gift of verse well adapted to either light or grave, it can 
be conceived that he must have had some success in this mode of 
recruiting his purse. For the light compositions by which his 
necessities were thus relieved, he is mentioned to have shown some 
parental feeling, as it was his custom to stroll through the streets Lt 
night for the purpose of listening to them. 

In 1747, there occurred a very serious riot in Dublin, in which the 
students took a principal part, and in which many were hurt, and 


some lives lost. In consequence, some students were expelled: Gold- 
smith was among those who were publicly admonished as accessories 
to the riot. The consequence of this disgrace was beneficial to Gold- 
smith, who thereupon exerted himself to some purpose, and soon afier 
obtained the exhibition already mentioned. It was his first academic 
distinction; but, according to the accounts which have been pre- 
served, appears to have led to an unfortunate result. In his exulta- 
tion, he thought (it to give a dance and supper to a party of his col- 
lege associates and city acquaintances, of both sexes, in his rooms. 
Mr Wilder, hearing of this breach of discipline, proceeded to the 
place, and reprimanded him very severely (and perhaps justly) before 
all his guests. Goldsmith retorted, and it may be interred in no very 
respectful or measured language. This the savage temper of Mr 
Wilder could not endure; and, giving way to his ferocity, he pro- 
ceeded to inflict personal chastisement. From such a grievous indig- 
nity, there was no refuge for the mortified pride of the unhappy suf- 
ferer but absence from the scene of his mortification. He came to 
the resolution of quitting college, and seeking his fortune in some 
foreign country. With this view, he sold his books and other dis- 
posable effects. Having thus obtained a small sum of money, he 
yielded to the temptation to spend it, and remained in town till it was 
reduced to a shilling 1 . On this he starved for three days, and then 
sold his clothes, which did not sustain him long. Sobered by suffer- 
ing, he then turned homeward, and was met and relieved by his 
brother, Henry. This kind and affectionate brother, having clothed 
him, brought him back to college, and effected a hollow and transient 
reconciliation between him and his tutor. There are reasons stated 
by Mr Prior, which confirm the affirmation of Dr Michael Kearney 
(himself a good authority), that Goldsmith obtained a premium in a 
Christmas examination. This was, of course, a classical premium, as 
he had made no progress in science. Mr Prior's researches seem to 
fix this incident on the Christmas examination of 1748. 

He graduated with his class in February, 174^, and quitted college 
immediately glad to leave a scene of humiliation and disappointment. 
Conscious of talents of a high order, it had been painfully forced upon 
his feelings, that they were not of a kind at that time to be appreciated 
in that seat of learning; and that, whether from a want of inclination 
or intellectual power, he was deficient in those branches of knowledge 
on which academic reputation depended. In this, no doubt, idleness 
and disinclination had their share: but, at the same time, it is impos- 
sible not to be aware that his understanding was not of that order 
from which much could be hoped in any walk of exact science. 
His fancy, feelings, and moral perceptions, held in the composition of 
his mind a development of the highest order. An ear for the har- 
mony of language, his most especial and distinguishing gift, com- 
pleted the man, and made the poet and rhetorician. For mathematics 
he had acquired a distaste. The general cause of this we have ex- 
plained in a previous memoir: it is perhaps peculiar to mathematical 
science, that its first approaches convey no intimation of the attractive 
subjects of research to which it leads. To the spirit of fancy arid 
sentiment it appears dull, barren, and contracted; and as it can be 


successfully cultivated (up to a certain limit) by persons of the most 
inferior faculties, the successful industry of many seemed to offer to 
one like Goldsmith the disagreeable condition of a harassing and 
lowering competition with hard-working and patient mediocrity. 
The vanity of youthful self-confidence would look with slight on a 
rejected pursuit; and this was an infirmity observable at the latest 
periods of his life. What he did not cultivate, he despised; what he 
could not (or would not) master, was not worth mastering. Mathe- 
matics and logic were the objects of his avowed scorn; and not 
these alone: we find him dropping contemptuous sneers at Shak- 
speare and Milton, and generally speaking in a tone of slight or 
censure of whatever lay without his own range of exertion. Much 
of this may be traced to the incidents of his early life; but these 
must have, after all, been rendered effectual by the conformation 
of a peculiar genius. It is, indeed, probable that it is to this 
strong and peculiar bent that much of the real power, still un- 
equalled in its own walk, is due. What Johnson has said of 
Thomson is applicable with far more truth to Goldsmith he saw 
everything with the eye of a poet: this is only true of Thomson's 
verse. Goldsmith lived in the sphere of his own moral and poetic 
creed, such as it was not profound or philosophical, but deeply dyed 
with all the affections of the simplest human nature. Devoid of 
artificial refinements, or the powers of subtle elaboration, the realities 
of common life, as known to his own heart, rushed upon his concep- 
tion with a power which mere imagination never gave, and supplied 
those affecting, true, and harmonious pictures, drawn from the simplest 
objects, and coloured with the most common hues, such as none but the 
great masters of the epic or lyric ever left, or will leave. But we are 
anticipating not perhaps to no purpose, as there is little told of 
Goldsmith that will not give light, or receive it from his character as 
a poet. He was among those who cannot be justly understood with- 
out a deep and lively sympathy with the secret spirit that pervaded 
his mind and characterized all his steps the 

" Charming nymph, neglected or decried, 
My shame in crowds, my solitary pride; 
Thou source of all my bliss and all my woe, 
That fo-und'st me pour at first, and keep'st me so." 

Perhaps, when the writer of these lines is rightly understood, it will 
be felt that his poetry is too deeply identified with his life to be 
separated from it. Every one, even the slightest, of those singularly 
vivid touches of pathetic incident, which are profusely scattered 
through the Deserted Village, are the realities of early recollection, 
sketched by affection and fancy. Even the fallacies are true as r - 
gards the simple-minded and warm-hearted observation of the relator. 
The benevolent sympathy with human suffering, and the proud but 
too much mortified and irritated independence that warred against 
the pretensions of the proud, alike obscure the judgment and distort 
the perception of one far more endowed with feeling than discri- 
mination, whose genius was, with all its vivid and various power, 
intensely that of human nature, and neither chilled nor enlightened 
by the habits or the intellectual tendencies of the metaphysician. 


From the university, Goldsmith returned to the friends and to the 
haunts of his youth, and passed two years in idleness undetermined 
and reluctant to decide as to his future profession. He was evidently 
much imbued with the restless love of excitement and adventui-e, 
which seldom fails to mark the poet. His temper recoiled from still- 
life industry, and the monotony of professional occupation. He went 
from place to place, sojourning 1 as a guest among' his relations. For 
a while he gave assistance in the school of his brother Henry, who 
was still curate of the living 1 once held by his father, but lived in the 
old family-house at Lissoy. From the drudgery of teaching he soon 
recoiled, in disgust. At his uncle Contarine's, also, he passed much 
tune. His favourite occupations were active: he gave himself up 
with lively and earnest fondness to the sports of the field, and loved to 
join in all the athletic recreations then cultivated by every class in 
Ireland, and more especially in the western counties. 

His friends were earnest in their anxiety to see him settle into 
some sober pursuit; and the church, as the most immediately con- 
nected with a college education, and in which he was most likely to 
succeed, was thought of first. With this, however, his love of pleasure, 
and that vanity which was the prevailing weakness of his mind, inter- 
fered. He did not much relish the strict morality which he, justly 
and truly, associated with a sacred calling: he could not submit to its 
unpopularity; he could not abandon, however remote, the hope of 
cutting a gay and splendid figure in the attire of the world At last, 
it is mentioned, the urgency of his friends prevailed, and he was pre- 
sented for ordination to a bishop. But his studies had not lain in 
theological literature, and he was refused, probably on a strict ex- 
amination. Another peaceful interval of rural relaxation, spent in the 
idle yet active amusements he loved the best, though he afterwards 
describes them with slight, followed. He was loved by his rustic inti- 
mates, with whose concerns he sympathized, and in whose sports he 
took even a leading part. He was much addicted to conviviality, and 
passed much of his time at an inn opposite his mother's house; and 
seems to have found companionship and sympathy in every company 
and amusement. Among his more respectable associates in the 
vicinity of Bally mahon, his favourite was a colleg-e acquaintance, Mr 
George Bryan ton, at whose residence he was a frequent guest, and 
with whom he often shared the excursion or the field-sport. 

This life could not last very long. Neither the means of his rela- 
tions could afford to maintain an idler, nor could a decent pride en- 
dure so total and helpless a state of dependence. Though Goldsmith 
was not one from whom such considerations were likely to find early 
regard, yet he must have heard plain speaking now and then: the bread 
of dependent idleness is never wholly unmixed with bitterness. His 
kind and generous uncle, Contarine, obtained a tuition for him an 
occupation for which he was radically unfit; but this was yet to be dis- 
covered. In the situation thus obtained he remained a year, until he 
became weary of the confinement and drudgery. He quitted it in 
consequence of a quarrel with some of the family. 

It appears probable that during this interval he paid a visit to hia 
relative and namesake* the dean of Clovne. But, as there are no 



details to be relied upon of the circumstances of this visit, it v.'ill bo 
enough to mention that there is reason to think he was disappointed 
as to any hope he may have formed from such a connection. 

On leaving 1 his tuition, he possessed a horse, and thirty pounds. 
With this sum, he came to the determination to seek his fortunes in 
America. Having proceeded to Cork, he sold his horse, and made 
his bargain with a captain about to sail, to whom he paid his freight 
and expenses. For three weeks, the vessel was detained by weather; 
and at last, when the weather became favourable, Goldsmith had 
absented himself, and gone on some party of pleasure, so that the ship 
departed without him. The rest of this adventure is characteristically 
told, and must be given in his own words. It, indeed, strongly displays 
the reckless improvidence which was the cause of all his misfortunes. 
" The remainder of my time I employed in the city and its environs, 
viewing everything' curious; and you know no one can starve while 
lie has money in his pocket. Reduced, however, to my last two 
guineas, 1 began to think of my dear mother and friends whom I had 
left behind me, and so bought that generous beast, Fiddleback, and 
bade adieu to Cork, with only five shillings in my pocket. This, to 
be sure, was but a scanty allowance for man and horse towards a 
journey of above aii hundred miles; but I did not despair, for I knew 
1 must find friends on the road." The adventures which followed are 
toid with all the dramatic effect which his pen could so well command. 
We must be content with the mere incidents. He first thought of a 
friend whom he had known in his college days, who lived in the 
vicinity of Cork, and had often urgently invited him, with many pro- 
mises of amusement, to spend a summer with him in the county of 
Cork. Towards the habitation of this kind friend Goldsmith con- 
fidently turned his course, secure of entertainment, counsel, and relit!'. 
lie was at first cordially received, and might have found all the 
friendship he had any reason to expect, had it not been so urgently 
wanting. But when his story was told, so decided a change came 
over the manner and countenance of his friend, that he could not help 
perceiving it. This amiable and worthy gentleman, who would have 
thought it worth while to entertain a spirited and agreeable com- 
panion, from whose company he might draw credit and advantage, 
immediately saw that the reckless confidence of the good-natured 
prodigal who claimed his friendship might cost something more than 
the quid pro quo, which is the only consideration with such cold and 
stunted spirits. He at once saw that his friend was likely to be more 
troublesome than pleasant, and to be got rid of as quickly as the forms 
of civility, and a due care for whole bones, would allow. He could 
not well retract the cordiality of the first-welcome few have effront- 
ery equal to their actual meanness ; but he endeavoured to extricate 
himself by arts not quite uncommon, though seldom carried so far. 
He resolved, with all possible politeness, to starve away the needy 
visitor, who had indiscreetly owned that he had but " one half-crown 
in his pocket," and was so silly as to add that he now thought himself 
in "a safe and comfortable harbour." The surprise and perplexity which 
this disclosure occasioned, poor Goldsmith at first attributed to kind 
concern; and the long silence' which followed, to a nice sense of deii- 


cate friendship, which was to be shown by acts, not words. He was 
undeceived: alter a long* fast of several hours, during which he wasted 
much curious speculation upon the lateness of dinner, the housekeeper 
made her appearance with a bowl of sago, some sour milk, mouldy 
bread, and mity cheese. He was then told that his friend's illness 
had condemned him to live on slops, and that the house had in conse- 
quence been unsupplied. Soon after, he retired for the night, and 
Goldsmith was obliged to go to bed hungry. The next morning, he 
determined on retreat; and, on declaring his intention, it was warmly 
approved of by his host, who told him, " To be sure, the longer you 
stay away from your mother, the more you will grieve her and your 
other friends," &c. Goldsmith now renewed his statement of distress; 
asked for the loan of a guinea, and promised repayment; at the same 
time reminding his host, " It is no more than I have often done for 
you." To which he firmly answered, " Why, look you, Mr Gold- 
smith, that is neither here nor there. I have paid you all you ever 
lent me; and this sickness of mine has left me bare of cash. But I 
have bethought myself of a conveyance for you: sell your horse, and 
I will furnish you with a much better one to ride on." " I readily 
grasped at the proposal, and begged to see the nag; on which he led 
me to his bed-chamber, and from under the bed he pulled out a good 
stout oak stick," &c. When he received this gift, Goldsmith was y*--t 
doubting whether he should not begin by applying it to the giver's 
back, when his doubt was interrupted by a rap at the street door. 
His host flew to the door, and returned with a gentleman, to whom, 
as if nothing of the previous incidents had occurred, he introduced 
Goldsmith as his ingenious and worthy friend, of whom he had so 
often heard him speak with rapture. This gentleman invited them 
both to dine. They accepted the invitation, and were hospitably 
entertained. When they were about to retire, Goldsmith was asked 
to stay; on which he says, "I plainly told my old friend that he 
might go home and take care of the horse he had given me, but that 
I should never re-enter his doors." At this new friend's he remained 
three days; and, when departing, was offered the free use of his 
purse. He took but a guinea, and proceeded homeward. Mr Malone 
has expressed his doubts of the truth of this and other passages of 
this period of Goldsmith's life. His doubts are judiciously discussed 
by Mr Prior. But they are in reality absurd, and have no ground 
but Mr Malone's want of perception of character. 

His relations once more took up the perplexing question of his 
future profession, now become additionally embarrassing by the fuller 
development of a character too manifestly unfit for any common 
course of industry. They hit upon the most unsuitable of all, and 
contributions were soon supplied to fit him for the law. Mr Contarine 
g-ave him fifty pounds, and he repaired to Dublin, on the way to 
London, where he was to keep the usual terms. The result might 
have been calculated upon, for one in whom any sober course of 
steady proceeding would have been a strange exception to all his pre- 
vious conduct. But in this instance, the event surpassed even his 
ordinary indiscretion; for, immediately after his arrival in Dublin, he 
WHS tempted to a gaming-house, and left pennyless again. The inuis- 



cretions of Goldsmith were not from the want of either principle, 
right feeling, or knowledge; but from the utter recklessness and 
facility which prevented him from using them. It was when the 
headlong impulse was over, and the folly done, that reflection came 
and overwhelmed his sensitive and infirm breast with ineffectual shame 
and remorse ; and brought good resolutions, seldom to be trusted, but 
which in him had no abiding root. He was for some time reluctant 
to communicate his error and loss, and remained in much embarrass- 
ment in Dublin. 

The circumstances were at last made known, and he was invited 
home. His uncle forgave him at once; and his mother, after some 
time. He then went to live with his brother Henry, and remained 
with him until some unpleasant difference between them occurred. 

The next attempt for his advancement was, after two years, now 
made by the advice of the dean of Cloyne. The medical profession 
was to be tried; and it was arranged that he should go to study 
physic at Edinburgh. 

He was enabled to proceed to Edinburgh by the united contribu- 
tions of his relations, who promised their continued effort for his 
maintenance while on his studies. His love of natural history his 
habits of curious observation, were favourable to the project, and he 
set off with more than usual hopes of himself. 

We must pass briefly over this interval, of which the recollections 
are far too indistinct for any purpose of so brief a memoir. Some 
verses, supposed to have been written during the preceding interval 
of idleness, are, with some probability of circumstance, and much of 
internal evidence, traced to the magazines in which he was afterwards 
a contributor. He took the lead in convivial parties, which he could 
w r ell enliven by song and tale, and was much liked by his fellow- 
students, both for his powers of amusing* and for his extreme good- 
nature. He was, as usual, imprudent in his expenses, and suffered 
often for his imprudence; and this was increased by the irregularity 
of his correspondence with home. Of this correspondence, few 
specimens remain: they are such as w r ould lead us to wish for more 
being full of the natural character and humour of the writer, and 
little short, in point of style, of his best productions. Much, indeed, 
of the power of Goldsmith's style and style is his first pretension 
was, more than in any other writer w r e can recollect, the result of 
a felicitous constitution of nature, and to some extent independ- 
ent of either study, skill, or acquirement. We cannot here quote, 
but it is a part of his history to state one communication con- 
tained in a letter to his uncle. " I read (with satisfaction) a science 
the most pleasing in nature, so that my labours are but a relaxation, 
and, I may truly say, the only thing here that gives me pleasure." 
It also appears, from the same letter, that he had attained some de- 
gree of economy in the management of his resources, and also how very 
limited they were. " I draw," he writes, "this time for 6, and will 
draw next October but for 4, as I was obliged to buy everything 
Mnce I came to Scotland, shirts even not excepted." As this letter 
is dated in May, the reader will perceive that the G here drawn tor 
was the allowance for six mouths, so far as his uncle's contribution; 


and his uncle must have been by much the largest contributor to his 
support. He was entangled by having become security for the debts 
of a fellow- student, and might have been thrown into prison, had he 
not, in his turn, received seasonable assistance from two other Irish 
students Mr Sleigh, afterwards a physician, resident in Cork, the 
well-known friend of Burke and Barry; the other, a Mr Maclaine, 
still more known afterwards in London. 

During the latter part of his sojourn in the Scottish metropolis, he 
probably had much enlarged his circle of friends. His exceeding 
honesty and good-nature must have struck and conciliated the better 
and more discerning observers among a shrewd and observant people. 
His social talents must have attracted many, and made him popular. 
He obtained an introduction at the duke of Hamilton's, in whose circle 
he was for some time a frequent guest. But for this species of inter- 
course he was incapacitated by the skinless vanity which made him 
too sensitively alive to every seeming of slight. He was not, perhaps, 
much mistaken in the suspicion that he was entertained on account of 
his power of amusing. 

He had been about two years in Scotland, when he made arrange- 
ments for his voyage to Ley den then among the first in repute as a 
school of physic. It was, most probably, the extreme slenderness of 
his finances that exposed him on that occasion to unpleasant contin- 
gencies, which might well seem attributable to his natural inadvertency, 
though this unquestionably had some share in aggravating his distress. 
Having engaged his passage in some trader, he presently found him- 
self one of a company of persons, in whose appearance and bearing a 
more guarded observer would have discerned indications which might 
suggest cautious reserve in his intercourse with them. Goldsmith's 
good-nature, and rather extreme love of good-fellowship, threw him 
off his guard; and it appears, by his account, that he suffered himself 
to be drawn into the most unreserved familiarity with persons of very 
doubtful character. Two days after they put to sea, they were forced, 
by rough weather, to gain the English coast, and landed at Newcastle- 
upon-Tyne. They proceeded to refresh themselves at an inn, and were 
engaged in the height of convivial merriment, when the whole party 
was surprised by a serjeant with his file of soldiers, and carried off 
to jail. They turned out to be Scotchmen who were sent over by 
the king of France for the purpose of a secret levy of men in Scot- 
land. Goldsmith was detained for a fortnight; and there is reason to 
believe that he only extricated himself by the aid of his Edinburgh 
friends. As it occurred to him that such an adventure might inter- 
fere with his degree, he for some time endeavoured to cover the 
transaction with stories of an arrest for debt. This incident, though 
replete with inconvenience and vexation, was, nevertheless, the pro- 
vidential means of saving his life; for, in the meantime, the vessel had 
again put to sea, and was wrecked, with the loss of crew and cargo. 
He now once more obtained his passage; and, after nine days' sailing, 
was landed at Rotterdam, from which he made good his way to Ley- 
den. The same letter from which (as given by Mr Prior) we extract 
these incidents, also gives an interesting account of the people and 
country, in Goldsmith's best style of humour and description. One of 


the most striking characteristics of Goldsmith is the curious and 
sometimes puzzling mixture of sagacity and simplicity, of inadvertence 
and correct observation. For this we should feel it necessary to ac- 
count, but that it is a combination common enough to have been notice- 
able by every one who has seen much of mankind. Though thus happily, 
both for ourselves and our readers, relieved from moral disquisition, we 
may point attention to some conditions which render a seeming incon- 
sistency more intelligible. It will be, perhaps, enough to say, what most 
persons will perceive the truth of, that a keen and discriminating obser- 
vation is in itself wholly distinct from those qualities of prudence and 
discretion by which it may be turned to the best account, when these 
advantages happen to exist in the same person. The first are intellec- 
tual ; the second, moral endowments often enough seen asunder. We 
thus, not unnaturally, through this life, find the most imprudent and 
inconsiderate of men observing keenly the events of life, anatomizing 
the conduct of men with skill, yet never seeming to make any volun- 
tary effort of judgment for his own guidance. Again, Goldsmith's 
powers of ridicule are seldom surpassed; but his keen sense of the 
absurd seems never for a moment to interfere with his own absurdity. 


It is, after all, but an extreme case of a common truth: most people 
are more apt to exercise their discrimination on others than on them- 
selves; and the conduct of many is not so much regulated by their 
prudence as by the impulse of the moment. 

With what diligence Goldsmith's studies were prosecuted at Ley- 
den, we have no very certain means of judging; nor is it a question 
of any importance. They were, however, the favourite objects of his 
taste; and probably formed a source of interest and occupation. 
There seems to be sufficient ground for the conclusion that he took 
no degree: there is indeed reason to believe that he was not formally 
matriculated as a student. It is probable that his narrow finances 
compelled him to pursue a more economical and less regular course 
of study. 


When he had been there about a year, he came to the resolution of 
travelling. This is peculiarly illustrative of the temper of his cha- 
racter. Full of unsettled ardour and curiosity active habituated to 
a life of wandering and emergency restless, courageous, and impro- 
vident. He relied on his own resources; arid, if they failed, could 
trust to chance itself. He was fearless of hardship and fatigue, and 
full of that peculiar curiosity that feeds on new locality, and prompts 
to change of place. It is also in a high degree probable that these 
dispositions would acquire added excitement from the varied inter- 
course of a foreign university, then the resort of every country. With 
such a spirit, it can easily be felt how strongly the wandering craze 
might seize upon the mind of a poet, ardent of itself to wander and 
explore. " He possessed," writes Mr Prior, " an ardent curiosity, a 
buoyant spirit, and a constitutional inclination rather to look at the 
brigrbt than the dark side of the prospect; a disposition in some 
degree national, for it is a well-known and avowed peculiarity of the 
lower orders of his countrymen, to put as large a share of their faith 
in chance as in conduct, in much of the business of life. Reliance 
was 110 doubt placed upon his o\vn iu^tuuity, his learning, aua m 


cal knowledge: he was young [in his 26th year]; his frame, though 
short in stature, vigorous arid accustomed to fatiguing exercises," &c. 
To these considerations, it is justly remarked by Mr Prior that there 
was an interest attached to such a tour as that meditated by Gold- 
smith, which has since ceased, from the number who have travelled 
similarly "on foot through Flanders, France, Switzerland, and parts 
of Germany, at a trifling- expense." 

Connected with these considerations, a very curious fact is noticed 
by Mr Prior, which it will here be enough to advert to. It is evident 
from an outline given by Goldsmith of the life of the baron Holberg, 
who had died a little before, that he was in some measure stimulated 
by his example, and that he took him for the model of his wanderings 
as, in fact, the description \vhieh he gives of him is precisely that 
of his own habits.* 

Thus disposed and prepared, his only care was to raise some means 
towards the expenses of his journey. He was indebted to the gene- 
rosity of Dr Ellis; but the kindness of his friend was frustrated by 
the indiscreet good-nature of his own disposition. Wandering into 
some horticultural mart, where flowers of the most costly sorts were 
displayed for sale, he immediately recollected the taste of his uncle, 
Contarine, for flowers, and laid out a considerable sum upon flower- 
roots, as a gift for him. 

Of the incidents of his travels there is no satisfactory account. He 
kept no record. Mr Prior mentions some letters, supposed to be yet 
extant, which he endeavoured with much pains to trace, but unsuccess 
fully. Occasional anecdotes in his writings may, without much risk, 
be referred to the period of his travels. General recollections only 
remain from the statements which he made either by letter or in con- 
versation. On such authority, it is mentioned that he travelled with- 
out money; that he made his way by his music, and by the hospitality 
of the peasantry. An extract from the Vicar of Wakefield has, we 
believe (at least within our own experience), been always regarded as 
descriptive of himself. " I had some knowledge of music, with a 
tolerable voice, and now turned what was my amusement into a pre- 
sent means of subsistence. I passed among the harmless peasants of 
Flanders, and among such of the French as were poor enough to be 
very merry for I ever found them sprightly in proportion to their 
wants. Whenever I approached a peasant's house at nightfall, I played 
one of my most merry tunes, and that procured me, not only a lodging, 
but subsistence for the next day." The only difficulty in applying this 
to its author, is slight. Some doubt is suggested by a consideration 
of intrinsic improbability: his skill in music was rude, and confined 
to the most common airs of Ireland and the sister countries; and, 
generally, the excitement derived from music depends much on pre- 
vious familiarity. But, not to say that he may have made numerous 
acquisitions during his residence in Leyden, and even on his travels, 
it may be that a quick and vivacious peasantry would be excited by 
even the sound of music, if but the time were tolerably marked a 
common quality of the music best known to the lower orders in 

* See his Inquiry into the State of Polite Learning. 


every country. The general results of his observation, and douhtless 
much of the incident, is embodied in his poem " The Traveller." 
Some scattered accounts remain in his works of his adventures in 
Paris, where he obtained introductions to some of the most distin- 
guished authors of the time. Among others, he made an acquaint- 
ance with Voltaire, by whom he was invited and entertained, and of 
whom he has left an interesting notice in his works. From Paris he 
again set out upon an excursion to Switzerland, with a gentleman to 
whom he was introduced. On this occasion he remained for some 
time in Germany, of which he gives some curious accounts in his 
Essay on Polite Literature. It was during this journey that he con- 
ceived the idea of " The Traveller;" of which the first rude sketch was 
transmitted to his brother from Switzerland. It may, indeed, be con- 
sidered as an epistle which was, in the first intent, addressed to one 
whom he recollected with the gratitude and affection so deeply fixed in 
his disposition, and with whose memory so much of the most cherished 
associations of his life were associated. We dwell on so trifling a 
consideration, because it gives added point to the most graceful, tender, 
and refined address which we can recollect either in prose or verse, 
which, for this reason, familiar as it is to every one, we extract here. 

" Remote, unfriended, solitary, slow, 
Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po, 
Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor 
Against the houseless stranger shuts his door ; 
Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies, 
A weary waste expanding to the fckies ; 
Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see, 
My heart, untravelled, fondly turns to thee ; 
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain, 
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain. 

Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend, 
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend ; 
Bless'd be that spot where cheerful guests retire 
To pause from toil and trim the evening fire ; 
Bless'd that abode, where want and pain repair, 
And every stronger finds a ready chair ; 
Bless'd be those feasts with simple plenty crown'd, 
Where all the ruddy family around 
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail, 
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale; 
Or press the bashful stranger to his food, 
And learn the luxury of doing good. 

But me, not destined such delights to share, 
My prime of life in wandering spent and care ; 
Impell'd with steps unceasing to pursue 
Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view ; 
That, like the circle bounding earth and bkies, 
Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies ; 
My fortune leads to traverse realms alone, 
And find no spot of all the earth my own." 

Nothing can be more exquisitely characteristic than the splendid 
and expansive picture iu which he follows up this sketch of a desolate 


condition, and represents himself on the " Alpine solitude," surveying 
a vast and varied scene of divine bounty and human happiness, and 
exulting in the blessings of others. 

It is not necessary, in our stinted space, to follow out details which 
are enough to fill the two ample volumes of Mr Prior. It will be 
enough to state that, having remained for some time at Geneva, he 
went on to Italy ; where, having (we presume) better resources, he 
saw more, and looked with attentive and diligent curiosity into the 
general state of learning and manners. His faculty of intelligent 
observation is strongly marked in all that he has written on the varied 
objects of notice. But nothing, perhaps, more strongly illustrates the 
profound sagacity which was exercised on all that came before him, by 
this self-heedless and simple-minded being, than his sagacious obser- 
vations on the still minute indications of the changes which were slowly 
coming upon the spirit of the French. " He appears," writes Mi- 
Prior, "to have clearly observed the slow and almost silent operation 
of a new and formidable principle, at that time taking root in the 
public mind of France." This remark he verifies by the following 
quotation from Goldsmith: "As the Swedes are making concealed 
approaches to despotism, the French, on the other hand, are imper- 
ceptibly vindicating themselves into freedom. When I consider that 
these parliaments, the members of which are all created by the court, 
(the presidents of which can only act by immediate direction,) presume 
even to mention privileges and freedom, who, till of late, received 
directions from the throne with implicit humility; when this is consi- 
dered, I cannot help fancying that the genius of freedom has entered 
the kingdom in disguise. If they have but three weak monarchs suc- 
cessively on the throne, the mask will be laid aside, and the country 
will once more be free." Mr Prior observes in a note, the community 
of sentiment on this topic between Goldsmith and Burke; but assigns 
to Goldsmith a priority in time. 

In 1756, he arrived in England. About his first attempts to obtain 
the means of living, there are numerous reports and traditions, but 
nothing ascertained. His own narratives of fictitious adventures 
have, with great probability, been applied to himself in this, as in other 
parts of his earlier life. VV'e must here keep to what is known, or 
assumed for truth. His first ascertained effort was to turn his classi- 
cal attainments to account. He failed, from being unknown, and, we 
think, from having taken injudicious steps to remedy this disadvantage. 
It is conjectured that he actually, at this time, obtained a situation 
as usher in an obscure school in Yorkshire; but soon left it, and 
returned to London. He then, with somewhat more success, endea- 
voured to avail himself of his chemical knowledge. Fortunately he 
discovered that Dr Sleigh, his old fellow-student in Edinburgh, was 
in town; and, having called upon him, was received with friendship, 
and his present wants relieved. By the exertions of this kind friend, 
he was enabled to establish himself as a physician in Bankside, 
South wark. 

It was about the same time that he became acquainted with Rich- 
ardson, and, there is reason to believe, was employed for a while as a 
reader in his printing-office. Other traces of him have been obtained 


from the recollections of acquaintances who at this time met him in 
town. With Dr Farr, he came to breakfast, and submitted to his 
criticism a part of a tragedy which he was engaged in writing, but 
which his better judgment probably found reason to throw aside. Mr 
Prior, in commenting upon this incident, notices it as an instance of 
the "frequent practice of young poets to start in the race for public 
applause with tragedy; adventuring thus, in their literary nonage, upon 
an effort which experience and the most cultivated powers only can 
hope to render worthy of general approbation." We quote this remark 
to observe, that the instance is an example of the universal tendency 
of the consciousness of power in the young, and of the natural ambi- 
tion by which it is accompanied. As for the error upon the compara- 
tive difficulty of tragedy and comedy, we concur in Mr Prior's judg- 
ment; but on this, too, we must notice the reason of the error, and its 
probable solution. The main powers employed on these two branches 
of the drama are different: and those which belong to tragedy are the 
earliest developed, as they mainly consist in the natural powers of the 
mind; while comedy depends more exclusively on that kind of know- 
ledge which comes with maturity alone. Though requiring less of 
every mental power than tragedy, comedy demands materials which, 
in a raw and immature mind, have scarcely any existence; while there 
is a full growth of all the loftier capabilities, the sentiment, passion, 
and poetry, required for the deeper drama. The powers essential 
for tragedy are far more general, and for this reason there are more 
numerous individuals capable of attaining mediocrity; while a far 
higher degree of intellect is required to pass the average level, and, 
therefore, high success is more rare. Observing that in this com- 
parison is omitted all consideration of the common properties of both 
branches, it may be concluded that, considered thus apart, tragedy 
demands a loftier command of the ideal a broader range of concep- 
tion, and deeper philosophy, and is more within the province of crea- 
tive invention; while the comic drama is more the work of skill, and 
less the work of genius. The question of comparative difficulty, escapes 
the proper points of comparison. Each demands special gifts which no 
skill can attain, and offers difficulties which a thousand years of the 
ordinary mediocrity of authors could not overcome. 

Goldsmith was utterly unfitted to succeed as a physician: he wanted 
tact, discretion, self-possession, and address (the result of these). His 
appearance was against him; and he wanted the means which might 
compensate, by dress and the other specious externals which win, or 
compel the respect of the world. Strange and comic incidents must 
have occurred, and mortifications been felt. That he was unprosper- 
ous is beyond question. 

About the end of the year 1756, it was proposed to him to under- 
take, for a time, the superintendence of the school of Dr John Miluer, 
at Peckbam in Surrey, during the illness of this gentleman. He con- 
sented; and continued there for a period not precisely ascertained. 
There remains, however, a very characteristic account of his general 
manner and deportment, his good stories, singular good-nature, and 
improvident generosity, which led Mrs Milner on one occasion to U'll 
him: " You had better, Mr G., let me take c. re of vour money, as i 


do for some of the young 1 gentlemen;" to which he replied, " In truth, 
madam, there is equal need." 

At the table of Dr Milner, he became acquainted with Dr Griffiths, 
at the time a bookseller in the Row, and the projector of the Monthly 
Review. The result was an engagement, by the terms of which, he 
was to live for a year with the bookseller, at a regular salary. This 
compact was, by mutual consent, dissolved in five months. Goldsmith 
found the drudgery more severe than he had anticipated, having been 
compelled to scribble daily from nine till two, and often the whole 
day. This is, indeed, one of the sad illusions to which young persons, 
who ha\? a strong turn for literary pursuits, are liable. The exertion 
of the talents they actually possess, and the attraction of studies con- 
genial to their taste, form the first great allurement, in their concep- 
tion of authorship. Having, however, committed themselves fully, 
they soon, but not soon enough, discover that, to work to any purpose, 
they must, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, be satisfied to work 
out the plans of the bookseller, and delve the clay or break the stones 
on the low regions about the foot of Parnassus, which they will find 
to be as hard and untasteful as any other clay and stones which it 
might be their better luck to work upon. To complain, would in- 
deed be childish for, not to say that most persons, who possess intel- 
lectual power, commence by over-rating it, the journey-work of litera- 
ture alone gives profitable scope for the employment of moderate 
attainment and talent. It is only to be regretted, where rare abilities, 
adequate to the composition of such poems as " The Traveller," are 
condemned for life to the factory-work of the trade. This was, 
unhappily, the fate of Goldsmith. His first acquaintance with 
the trade was the more irksome and galling, as his obscurity rnado 
him liable to the insolence of dictation and ignorant interference. 
Not only Mr Griffiths, but his wife, impaired his articles by their 
tasteless and ignorant interpolations. The articles written by him for 
the Monthly Review long continued untraced to their author: at 
length Mr Griffiths' private copy fell, by the course of sale, into the 
hands of a gentleman, from whose liberality, by the intervention of a 
friend, Mr Prior was enabled to ascertain the exact extent and matter 
of Goldsmith's labours. 

When he left Mr Griffiths, he " made a shift to live," by joining the 
literary with the medical profession. As a physician, he had no 
chance; but, as a writer, he could not fail to make his way: and, 
though his productions were but hasty and little considered efforts 
for daily subsistence, he was rapidly rising into notice. Much inter- 
esting matter, relative to his writings and acquaintance, which has 
been diligently brought together by Mr Prior, must here be omitted. 

During this interval, he lived near Salisbury square, Fleet street: 
but his chief resort was the Temple Exchange cofiee-house, where, as 
was usual among the literary men of the day, he met his acquaint- 
ances, and sought the relaxation of his idle hours. 

It was in the year 1757 that he received an unexpected visit from 
his younger brother, Charles Goldsmith, then only twenty-one. With 
the simplicity of his race, Charles had rashly concluded that, as his 
brother was beginning- to be known to eminent persons, he might have it 


in his power to obtain something* for himself. He was disappointed 
to find him living three pair of stairs up, and without any marks of 
wealth or comfort about him. Goldsmith, in his turn, felt the disad- 
vantage and distress of having another to support, while himself not 
much above want. He did not, however, fail in all the kindness that 
his generous and affectionate nature could command; but Charles, 
seeing how matters really stood, went off as suddenly as he had come. 
With the same wandering spirit as Oliver, he went off to Jamaica, 
and did not return to England for thirty years, during which tim? he 
was unheard of. 

In or about this period, Goldsmith obtained an appointment as phy- 
sician to a factory in some of the colonies. During the delays which 
occurred in maturing the appointment and making preparations, he ap- 
pears to have continued in a state of anxious deliberation, between his 
desire for independence and his reluctance to quit a scene where the 
hopes of success were beginning to dawn upon his efforts. Among the 
steps to which, during this interval, he was urged by the anxious state of 
his mind, was an effort to obtain some less unpleasant appointment of 
the same description. With this view, he presented himself at an 
examination in Surgeons' Hall, where, to his great mortification, he 
was rejected. The consequence of this was, his being compelled to 
abandon the appointment he had attained. In the meantime, he had 
been, at all the intervals he could command, preparing for publication 
his " Essay on the Polite Literature of Europe." He justly considered 
that something more deliberate and finished than the task- work of the 
periodical press was wanting to establish his reputation, and give a 
standard value in the market to his writings. On this occasion his 


wish to obtain a subscription in Ireland led to many letters, some of 
which have been happily collected and preserved by the laudable zeal of 
Mr Prior a service the more important, as there is reason to believe 
that they could not, in the form of mouldering MS-, have outlived 
another generation. The perusal of these letters, admirable for their 
style, but far more so for the deep insight they give into the affect'ons 
and spirit of the writer, leave indeed nothing to be desired in this 
last respect. A deeper and broader range of thought might easily be 
found in many published letters, and a more keen and polished ptay of 
fancy; but never a more pure and true expression of the pride and 
tenderness of our nature. It is, perhaps, a fancy; but there is often in 
Goldsmith's poetry and letters a singular common power of bringing 
up the writer's self to the eve and breast of the reader, in the same 


way that many writers convey graphic touches of locality. There is a 
peculiar reality in those unstudied and artless, yet powerful flashes of 
feeling, which come by surprise, and for a moment seem to recall the 
past or absent: they are, throughout his writings, but more especially 
his poetic waitings, charged with some undefined attraction, not 
found in other writers, that identifies the reader with the poet, and 
seems to convey the heart and imagination into the localities he 
describes or alludes to. 

Of the letters here adverted to, it was the object to prevent the 
surreptitious publication in Dublin of his forthcoming book, by ob- 
taining a subscription for it there .himself, through the medium of 


those friends to whom he wrote, and to whom his proposals were for- 
warded for circulation. 

While this work was still on the eve of publication. Goldsmith had, 
by his excessive improvidence, placed himself in a position of the 
most extreme pecuniary embarrassment ; and, in the thoughtless indis- 
cretion of his nature, entangled himself in necessities not to be read 
or written of without pain and mortification. As the relation would be 
long, and as the effects were happily but transient, it will be here 
enough to say that, to meet the expenses of the trial he proposed to 
make in Surgeons' Hall, he drew on the purse and credit of Griffiths 
more largely than he could repay. Having made to this person some 
representations of an expectancy, the disappointment of which he 
was too proud and sore to explain, he evidently must have appeared 
to have had recourse to false pretences. Such was the inference of 
Griffiths, who accordingly treated him, on the occasion, with all 
the insolence of his nature. This affair ended by a total alienation 
between him and Griffiths, whose advances were repaid by a Life 
of Voltaire, hastily written for the purpose, and sold for twenty 
guineas. A Version of the Henriade followed ; and was, like the 
former, published in the Monthly Review. This version is, however, 
supposed to have merely been revised and corrected by Goldsmith, 
for the benefit of a needy author, whom he endeavoured to keep 
from want, at a time when he had much to do to live himself. This 
leads us to dwell briefly on a beautiful trait of Goldsmith's character, 
which, however, can only be done justice to in a more detailed bio- 
graphy. His benevolence was the master-passion of his mind a com- 
mon virtue, but, of all others, the most rarely to be met pure from 
the adulterations of the world; and still, perhaps, more rarely, the 
ruling tendency of the heart. In Goldsmith it actually usurped much 
of the legitimate province of self-love: it also interfered with discre- 
tion and prudence. It was not merely that he totally forgot himself, 
in his regard for others ; but he did not, until after years of experi- 
ence, perceive how little the sentiment could be understood, respected, 
or shared in by the generality of people. Little governed by selfish 
wisdom, and utterly unable to look unmoved on the sufferings of 
others, his hard-won and penurious resources were lavishly bestowed 
on the poor, or became an easy prey to the artful, with both of whom 
his poverty brought him into too near vicinity. For the numerous inci- 
dents which have suggested these reflections, we must refer to Mr 
Prior's Memoirs, in which no accessible fact is omitted; or to his own 
writings, in which the whole heart of the author is so lucidly reflected, 
that to know them is to be more intimate with Goldsmith than most 
men are with their nearest friends. 

It is not necessary, in a memoir designed to be short, that we 
should trace his progress to reputation. Chiefly obtained by great 
and talented efforts in the obscure walk of the periodical press of his 
day, it required the most signal uniformity of excellence and success 
to enable his employers to appreciate his ability at its just value. But 
the time came when his essays became the main support of the maga- 
zines and journals in which they appeared, too evidently to admit of 
the fact being overlooked. Still less was it possible for those who 


themselves filled the highest places of intellectual rank, not to be 
aware that there had arisen among them a writer of the most eminent 
genius. In 1760, and the following year, his writings are shown to 
have been obtaining popularity a connection with Mr Newbery 
brought him into a succession of engagements both profitable and 
creditable; and the success of his Essay had introduced him to the 
literary world. For the next following years, the same series of en- 
gagements proceeded without material interruption, and with increas- 
ing reputation; though, from the letters which he wrote to Mr New- 
bery (to be seen in Mr Prior's memoir), it is plain that he was very 
inadequately paid. He was also employed by Smollet, in the British 

His acquaintance with Dr Johnson originated in mutual respect 
and high estimation, before any personal acquaintance. An invitation 
from Dr Goldsmith first introduced them to each other. Every one 
who has read Boswell's Life of Johnson is aware how intimate their 
intercourse continued, until ended by Goldsmith's death. We ought 
here to observe, that it is mainly owing to the misrepresentation which 
pervades that otherwise singularly faithful biography, that the charac- 
ter of Goldsmith was defrauded of its proper respect in the estimate 
of after-times. We cannot doubt that, in Boswell's notices of Gold- 
smith, there entered much invidious feeling, arising from two causes, 
distinct, though combined in their operation. Incapable of adequately 
appreciating the genius of Goldsmith, Boswell was a keen and shrewd, 
though not very deep, observer of externals: he saw the real defects 
of Goldsmith, and he saw no farther. He looked down upon a man 
who was immeasurably his superior, and resented the claims and 
the allowances which he did not really comprehend. His accounts of 
Goldsmith are uniformly tinged with this jealousy and this misappre- 
hension: the objection to them is not that they are not true, in point 
of fact, but that they are partial and one-sided recollections. Boswell 
cannot be fairly blamed for the error of his understanding; and, if 
this error were to be admitted, the feeling may be forgiven few can 
bear the pretensions of mediocrity. But the consequence is to be much 
regretted, by which a writer, who stands among the three or four who 
were the first of their generation, should be only recollected by those 
weaknesses which were simply personal, and should have been for- 
gotten when they were past, and when nothing' but that which is im- 
mortal should survive. We dwell on these considerations at seem- 
ingly disproportionate length, because we cannot help thinking that 
the popularity of Goldsmith's writings has been impaired by the 
notion thus propagated of himself. Few will trouble themselves to 
look into the writings of the Goldy who struts and blunders in the 
page of Boswell. 

The purchase of literary fame, when wrung from the obscure toil 
of writing for the trade, is perhaps the severest incidental to human 
pursuit; and never more so than in the instance of Goldsmith. The 
hapless drudgery of catering for the superficial and idle taste of the 
crowd, or for the dull wants of the public intellect, may be a gainful 
trade, and may even offer an easy road to reputation for many; but 
to the spirit overflowing with thought, and buoyant with the vivid 


life of genius, it cannot fail to be a painful captivity, as well as 
a hard labour. For it would be a groat mistake to assume that 
the toil of shallow thought, and the compilation of trite matter, 
is less laborious than the deepest speculation or the highest imagin- 
ing. The labour is, indeed, woefully increased by the want of 
interest, and absence of the spontaneous power which ever accom- 
panies the loftier efforts of thought. About the period at which 
we must now suppose ourselves arrived in Goldsmith's life, his 
health began to be shaken by the gloomy labours which brought so 
little remuneration. However animated in society, he had been 
taught, by long communion with adversity, to reflect intensely when 
alone. He became subject to attacks of illness; and a " painful dis- 
ease" is said to have been the effect of continual drudgery at his desk. 
His circumstances were, however, in other respects improved; and he 
had recourse to occasional excursions to different places of public 
resort, of which, we are told that his favourites were Bath and Tun- 
bridge. From the same cause, he removed to Islington in the close of 
1 762, where he boarded with a Mrs Fleming. Mr Newbery, his great 
publisher, resided in this neighbourhood, which was an additional in- 
ducement, as this gentleman was always ready to advance such sums 
as his expenses required. He paid fifty pounds a-year for his board, 
which is observed by Mr Prior to be equivalent to a hundred at the 
present. Here he continued till 1764. He was evidently treated with 
great respect and kindness by his hostess, who was accustomed to make 
no charge for dinners given to his visitors. 

During the same interval, his literary projects were numerous. 
Among these was a biographical work, for the execution of which h-^ 
entered into an agreement with Dodsley. This agreement is now 
extant, as a literary relic, in the hands of Mr Rogers. The title of 
the projected book was, " A Chronological History of the Lives of 
Eminent Persons in Great Britain and Ireland." He was to receive 
three guineas a sheet, and to complete the work within two years. 
The difficulties of the task are apparent enough, but we think them 
hardly sufficient to compel the abandonment of such an undertaking 1 . 
A natural history, by Dr Brooke, received important additions from 
his pen; in testimony of which, his receipt for eleven guineas from 
Mr Newbery is preserved. The labours of his pen seem to have been 
heavy; and (we would say) the payment far from adequate. It i/> 
evident, from the several receipts preserved by Mr Prior, that hi-. 
expenditure was always in advance of his earnings, and his name o i 
the wrong side of his publisher's books. To illustrate these statement-. 
we must be content to extract one of the many documents contained 
in the Memoir of Mr Prior. 

Brooke's History, . . . . 11 11 

Preface to Universal History, . 330 

Preface to Rhetoric ..... 220 

Preface to Chronicle, .... 110 

History of England ..... 21 

The Life of Christ, . . . . 10 10 

The Life (Lives) of the Fathers, . . 10 10 

Critical and Monthly, .... 330 


It is needless to say that so much work would be paid at a far higher 
rate, to a writer of Goldsmith's reputation, in later times. Circum- 
stances have, indeed, greatly changed. The profits upon successful 
composition are now largely increased, by the enormous consumption 
of the literary market. And very many influential causes of less weight 
may be added on the same side. This is one of the questions which 
we shall have to discuss in its proper place. 

Goldsmith's acquaintance with Reynolds was formed about this 
period, and was one of the fortunate incidents of his life. It had the 
effect of fairly introducing him to his proper place in the scale of 
opinion, which is regulated by seemingly slight circumstances. Rey- 
nolds, a man of genius himself; of still more extensive taste; exempt, 
by the success and the nature of his pursuits, and perhaps by that of his 
mind, from the petty jealousy and invidiousness of literary competition ; 
and having, in consequence, the freest intercourse with every class of 
cultivated society: linked by taste and talent with the gifted, and by 
the influence of his most popular and delightful of the arts, with wealth 
and rank, he was happily placed for the cultivation of social intercourse 
iu all its more attractive aspects. He was also eminently endowed 
with that rare discernment which can apprehend the genuine indica- 
tions of the character before the stamp of success has left no room for 
the exercise of penetration. Wealth, the reward of signal genius, and 
an open and liberal hospitality, completed the position of one who, 
without being the most gifted or greatest in his circle, was mainly 
instrumental to the union of the best and brightest minds of his day. 
With Burke and Johnson he had formed an intimate friendship, early 
after their introductions to notice. With the same happy tact, he saw 
the brilliant powers of Goldsmith. Neither the poet's anxious and irri- 
table pride, the result of the circumstances and accidents of his condition, 
nor the nervous precipitation which sometimes placed him in an absurd 
position, nor the simplicity which, if unaffected by these disadvantages, 
would have been an admired virtue, prevented men of the highest order 
of mind from rightly appreciating Goldsmith from their first acquaint- 
ance with him. He was warmly and affectionately taken up by Rey- 
nolds, at whose table he was initiated in the best intellectual society 
which his age produced. It would be unimportant to dwell on this 
circumstance, were it not for the injustice which has been already re- 
marked, and which, originating in the envy and insensibility of one man, 
has been perpetuated by the invidious notices he has left. But, in 
the early and discerning regard of such men as Reynolds and Johnson, 
there is an ample reply to any misconstruction, founded either on the 
ignorant slight of Boswell, or upon the anecdotes, true or false, which 
are told of the subject of this memoir. The fact which gives a stamp 
to the assertion that the ordinary character and conversation of Gold- 
smith were such as to elicit admiration and regard, is one which, w hrn 
fairly looked at, admits no doubt: he might have been tolerated as a 
fool of genius, or an " inspired idiot," as he was called by some unin- 
spired coxcomb ; but it is utterly inconsistent with the known laws of 
human action, that any such fool should have been selected, by men 
like Reynolds, Johnson, and Burke, to be one of a small exclusive circle. 
That the Literary Club was almost immediately open to many who cau 


not be said to have had any claim to similar distinction, is no objection 
to the inference thus suggested; it depends on the first intent. All 
that followed is nothing- but what may be explained, and might have 
been anticipated, on the common principles of human intercourse. The 
distinguished men who formed the nucleus of that celebrated body, 
had each his own circle of friends in which he was accessible to influ- 
ence, and open to solicitation. Few men of the \vorld are ignorant of 
the intrigues by which cunning undermines its way to the distinctions 
which are supposed to be the reward of talent. 

In December, 1764 (by Mr Prior's correction of the date), "The 
Traveller" was published. Its success, though not equal to the expecta- 
tion of his friends, or to the transcendent merit of the piece, was very 
great, and decisive as to the literary station of the author. We defer any 
critical notice to the end of this memoir. The pecuniary remuneration 
was as much as he had, at the time, reason to expect, from the state of 
literature, and the ordinary principles of trade, but bore no proportion 
to the intrinsic worth of the production. It was, in truth, only among 
the higher class of educated minds that taste had yet made a remote 
approach to any classical standard; though the literature of England 
had long attained a high, perhaps its highest, pitch of excellence. AH 
that criticism then could do was done, to inform the public mind upon 
the merits of " The Traveller;" and among the literary and reading 
circles, its progress was sufficiently rapid. Dr Johnson made all the 
efforts of friendly notice, through the press and in conversation, to 
bring it forward; and, among other methods, adopted the effectual 
means of reading it out among his acquaintances. It was also attacked 
by the malice or folly of a few. To those who judge by faults, they 
must always be easily found in all that is of human production. But 
there is one source of accusation which cannot fail plagiarism, which 
must ever be the seeming defect of every thought or form of expres- 
sion, in proportion as it approaches nearer to the most pure and natural 
standard of either. It is indeed a subject liable to perpetual error, 
and in need of some strict law of discrimination. In the common 
course of conversation, or the ordinary topics of human thought, the 
same thoughts and modes of expression are continually recurring, and 
the same suggestions arising from similar incidents. Neither these, 
nor the probable combinations of the mind, o~ the powers of expression, 
are so very various and infinite as to admit of any considerable variety ; 
and the daily repetitions in every quarter of the world, are only not 
considered, because they are not heard by any one individual. Now, it 
may at once be granted that there are classes of writers who may escape 
the consequence of this condition: there are the countless adepts of the 
modern lyre, who indulge in the boundless variety of small nonsense ; 
and the mightier few, who play the same fashionable instrument on the 
broader scale of transcendentalism and metaphysical speculation. We 
may also add a more favourable exception for those who, like Mr 
Southey, have availed themselves of some new and foreign atmosphere 
of poetry, completely removed from the haunts of life and nature as 
in his splendid and wonderful creations from the oriental traditions 
arid mythologies. But, among those who have worked poetry out 
of the old alements of civilized hum^u nature, it is a mistake to look 


for the species of originality imagined by the shallow criticism so 
often provokingly misapplied to our best poets. The error involved 
is a total disregard of the laws of suggestion and combination, and of 
the limited materials and impulses of human thought. What may 
legitimately be demanded is, that the whole combination is originated 
by the poet, and that the several thoughts and expressions are the 
natural suggestions arising from that whole in natural succession. So 
far regards the charge of plagiarism, strictly considered. We are 
willing to admit, in truth, that something more than the mere absti- 
nence from this disgusting vice is properly required by the rule of 
composition; and that accidental coincidences, when they pass a not 
very wide limit, should be corrected and pruned away. But this point 
we are not obliged to discuss. We may, however, add, what every 
poet knows, and what they who are not poetical may consider curious, 
that one of the most frequent annoyances to which they are subject is 
the occasional discovery that they have fallen into trains of thought 
and expression belonging to previous writers of whom they were at 
the time wholly unaware. And it ought to be added, that there is a 
very large and varied range of common property in the fields of 
knowledge and opinion; and there is not an inference to be fairly 
gained without treading through some part of this. The originality 
of many is due to their looseness of reason ; and, in the popular poetry 
of the present day, it would not be hard to find specimens of sound- 
ing eloquence which, if translated into the language of plain prose, 
might not be much wronged by the scornful epithet of " slipslop." 

Among the friends supposed to have been at this time acquired by 
Goldsmith, in consequence of this poem, was " Mr Uobert Nugent, 
afterwards lord Nugent, viscount Clare, and earl Nugent," a de- 
scendant from the Nugents of Westmeath. By this nobleman he was 
probably introduced to the earl of Northumberland; who having in- 
timated a desire to see him, Goldsmith waited upon his lordship. The 
incidents of this visit have been made the subject of a ludicrous piece 
of slander, in which one of the fictions of the poet was turned against 
himself: but the actual occurrence has been ascertained from the nar- 
rative of Sir John Hawkins, who happened to meet him at the earl's 
on the occasion. Having waited to take Goldsmith home, he ob- 
tained from him the following account: " His lordship told me he 
had read my poem, aud was much delighted with it; that he was 
going lord-lieutenant to Ireland; and that, hearing I was a native of 
that country, he should be glad to do rne any kindness/' Sir John 
then asked, "And what did you answer to this gracious offer. 1 '" 
" Why," said Goldsmith, " I could say nothing but that I had a 
brother there, a clergyman, who stood in need of help." Having 
mentioned this answer, he added: "As for myself, I have no depend- 
ence on the promises of great men: I look to the booksellers for sup- 
port; they are my best friends, and I am not inclined to forsake them 
for others." The answer exposed him to an injurious comment from 
the reporter; but we trust the reader will see the higher qualities 
indicated in the statement the generous affection that preferred his 
In-other, and the native and simple independence of his mind. There 
vas not in his deportment anything of the foolhardy sturdiness which 


Sir John would impress he would not have repelled real and sub- 
stantial friendship but he would not be trammelled by a promise 
which there was reason to suspect might be designed to purchase his 
political support. He did not desire to incur a debt of gratitude for 
future favours, but what he said amounted to a clear intimation of the 
way he would be served. His reply was just what it ought to be, and 
only to be mistaken by the crawling sycophancy of those who flatter 
in the presence of the great. But it is in the comment, which Sir John 
has so stated as to make it seem part of the answer to the peer, but 
which was made to himself, that a little touch of the simplicity and 
vanity of the poet's weaknesses appear. Goldsmith wished naturally 
to magnify his profession, and did not fully comprehend the sly malignity 
of Hawkins, who seemed to be at the moment doing him a courtesy. 

Goldsmith, so far from having manifested any of the boorish (and 
indeed mean) rudeness insinuated, went away in a kind and gracious 
understanding with the earl, and was from that time on terms of 
intimacy in his family. The popular ballad of " The Hermit" was 
first composed and printed for the amusement of the countess. When 
this was afterwards published, a low writer, now too obscure to be 
named, publicly accused him of a plagiary from Dr Percy's Reliques; 
it was, however, stated, in a public letter by Goldsmith, that his ballad 
had been prior, and had been communicated to Dr Percy, who had 
taken and acknowledged the hint from it. Another source was 
pointed out afterwards, discovered as common to both, by some of the 
bishop's commentators ; but, on examination, it appears utterly without 

Goldsmith still felt a strong impulse to the undertaking of some 
great work answerable to his powers, and to the reputation he had 
acquired. The difficulty of this was formidable. It is well pointed 
out in the following instructive passage from Mr Prior: "It is on 
such occasions that the disadvantages of a professional author, destitute 
of fixed means of support, are most acutely felt; with his eye eagerly 
fixed on immortality, and with powers of an order capable of obtain- 
ing it, he may be doomed to experience, while toiling for fame, the 
want of daily bread." A volume of Essays which had been till then 
unproductive, was now compiled, to take advantage of the gale of 
public favour, and was published in June, 1765. For this he received 
twenty guineas a fair price for the time, if it be considered that he 
had been already paid for its contents, as matter for the periodicals. 
It was suggested by Godwin to Mr Prior, that Goldsmith was pro- 
bably the author of " Goody Two Shoes," as it appeared to him to 
exhibit the skill "of a practised writer of no inferior order." Mr 
Prior, by following out this curious proposal, seems to have ascer- 
tained coincidences of date and circumstance which give much pro- 
bability to the sagacious hint of his friend. 

Among other resources at the same period resorted to, to turn his 
reputation to advantage, and improve his means, was one adopted by 
the advice of his friends, and, as we see it, extremely injudicious. He 
suffered himself to be persuaded to try the success of his profession 
of physic. He set out on this chimerical project by assuming the dress 
then worn by physicians purple silk breeches and scarlet roquelaure 



and, as has been ascertained from the evidence of tailors' bills, 
putting- himself to other expenses for fineries which he at once carried 
to extreme, and which ill became his plain person and ungraceful 
deportment. The result was unsatisfactory. Some amusing details 
are preserved, but we must omit them. 

Compilations, commentaries, and prefaces for the trade, were still 
found his best resources. But the "Vicar of Wakefield" now appear- 
ing-, made a more effective, because a wider and more popular, impres- 
sion than often has happened before his time, even to works of sterling 
power. Contrary to the then established precedent for works of the 
same class, it enlisted the sympathies on the side of honour, virtue, 
and religion, instead of libertinism and vice ; and produced as much 
effect in opposition to the worst tendencies of human nature as Field- 
isig and Smollett had produced by their aid. It has, indeed, (for, 
unlike those glittering fabrications of corruption, it may still be 
spoken of in the present tense,) an advantage rare to moral fictions, 
the well sustained interest of romance ; and may be recommended as a 
medicine more palatable than luxury. The consequence was an ad- 
mission into every circle, a translation into every language, and a 
permanent popularity in every civilized country. 

In this production, it is an important duty here to observe, that it 
is also an abiding monument of the author's own genuine mind. A 
reader who may be even slightly conversant with the habits of the 
intellect in which imagination predominates, and the manner in which 
it incorporates itself with the phenomena of accident and experience, 
and spins its new and peculiar conceptions out of self-existence, will, 
in reading, pe-rceive how deeply the whole narrative is infused with 
the clear and beautiful spirit of the framer's heart. From the same 
rich fountain originated the noble and virtuous sentiments, and even 
the venial errors of the better order of his persons. Even those lu- 
dicrous incidents which, for obvious reasons, were noticed as incidents 
of his own history, are the fruit of that reflex conception which a 
man acquires of himself. It has not, perhaps, been observed how 
much the power of satire depends on the follies and absurdities of 
the satirist. 

During this interval, Goldsmith was a resident in the Temple, which, 
says Mr Prior, was " a favourite abode then, as it appears, of several 
men of letters." Here having, on the appearance of more promising cir- 
cumstances, taken more expensive apartments, on which he laid out a 
sum of four hundred pounds, he enlarged his entire style of living, 
and laid, it is thought, the foundation of those embarrassments which 
poisoned his latter years, and perhaps aided the work of disease by 
lowering his constitutional health. 

We have next to relate the main incidents of his success in another 
department of fiction. We omit, in consideration of our limits, the 
interesting train of circumstances previous to the appearance of " The 
Good-natured Man." It was first offered to Garrick, who evidently 
failed to discern its merit, or was more probably actuated by an in- 
vidious disposition towards Goldsmith an inference to which we are 
strongly inclined, from the consideration of all circumstances. One 
who, like Goldsmith, appears to disadvantage in the intercourse of 


society, and at the same time gives plain proofs of high intellectual 
superiority, will be judged according to his real powers by first-rate 
men. and according to his defects by the groundlings, who will conse- 
quently look with an invidious eye on the pretensions of one whom they 
would wish to despise. Garrick, who, with a smart but still diminutive 
g-enius, possessed a singular development of those very endowments in 
which Goldsmith was most deficient, and whose fame even rested upon 
them, would gladly have kept him in the back-ground. The friend- 
ship of men like Reynolds, Johnson, and Burke, made it difficult to 
treat him with open slight: but it seemed easy to suppress a comedy 
presented for his judgment and adoption. The amiable simplicity of 
the author expected justice and friendship, but his piece was kept in 
silence, until his temper was irritated by a delay which he must have 
felt to be disrespectful. He withdrew it by a very polite note, to 
which an answer equally courteous was returned. It was then given 
to Co vent- Garden; and, after some short delays, was acted in Janu- 
ary, 1768. Johnson furnished the prologue for the occasion. The 
reception of this comedy was far from equivalent to its real merits, 
and one of the best scenes was very near leading to an unfavourable 
result. Mr Prior mentions that the taste of the town was grown sen- 
timental: a scene, then bold and new in the conception, and replete 
with the happiest humour, elicited unfavourable indications, and was 
suppressed before the next night of representation. The substantial 
merits of the piece were indeed too great to be overlooked, and these, 
with the talented exertions of Shuter, in the character of Croaker, 
saved it. It had a run of ten nights. It has never become a stock 
piece, and has, we should say, defects of a kind very opposite from 
those which offended its first audience. With the most admirable 
sketching of humorous caricature, grotesque but true, it offends in 
the serious part by an excess of the tawdry sentimentality of spurious 
benevolence and innocence in Honey wood, the hero; by a total viola- 
tion of the laws of female propriety in the heroine, who lays aside the 
modest dignity of her sex, and plays the hero's part to protect and 
win the amiable simpleton, who must have led her a sad life after 
they were married. Such folly, and such forwardness, can only be 
tolerated in the shape of satire; and we cannot help saying that no 
sympathy can be felt with the conduct of Miss Kiehland, without 
the accompaniment of a bad example. 

The profits, though small, must to the author have been far from 
inconsiderable. The three nights commonly understood to be allotted 
for the remuneration of the author, produced a clear profit rated I-f- 
tween 350 and 400 pounds. The publication of four editions in quick 
succession must have brought a large sum. 

It is no slight testimony for the intrinsic merits of this piece, that 
it received the high preference of Burke and Johnson. And gener- 
ally, though the play-going multitude seem to have given it but a 
qualified approbation, the critics were on his side. The success of the 
play of " False Delicacy," in Drury-lane, was cotemporaneous with 
that of Goldsmith's; and the coincidences of time, plot, sale, the coun- 
try of the authors (both Irishmen), led to comparisons ; and an irritat- 
ing sense of rivalry soon began to prevail between them. This was 


increased by the gossip of the scribbling swarm that infested the 
haunts of literary men ; and of which Goldsmith was but too much the 
prey and the dupe. 

The period of his life at which we are now arrived demands little 
prolonged detail, in a memoir which pretends to be little more than a 
brief and summary sketch. The struggles with poverty, prolonged by 
imprudence, but in a considerable degree abated by transcendent 
genius, still, in some measure, accompanied him. Compelled to main- 
tain himself by the journey-work of the trade, he could rarely com- 
mand those intervals of leisure from which any great result, commen- 
surate with his powers, might be fairly expected. He was, nevertheless, 
established in the possession of the high reputation due to justly 
appreciated genius; and as the preference of the market thus secured, 
gave a sure money value to the slightest effort of his pen, he was above 
the present apprehension of want. His varied engagements with the 
booksellers, demand here no special detail. He was now engaged on 
that well-known work, his "Animated Nature;" remarkable for the 
attraction which his simple elegance of style has given to subjects, 
which the learning, extended research, and increased accuracy of later 
times and far more informed writers, have not rendered so popular as 
they deserve to be. He was also engaged on an abridgment of his 
History of England ; perhaps the most deservedly popular book that 
ever was written. 

The labour of these avocations was pleasantly broken by an exten- 
sive intercourse with the best and most attractive society of the age. A 
visit to France, with some ladies of the name of Horneck, occurred in the 
summer of 1771. This excursion has been productive of at least one 
letter of exceeding interest, w r hich is printed in his life by Mr Prior. 
Some tune after his return, we find by a letter which he wrote to Mr 
Bennet Langton, and which is to be found in the same repository, that 
he had put off a summer visit to this gentleman in order to repair the 
loss of labour consequent on his excursion, and that he was at the time 
lodging at the house of a country farmer, and occupied in the composi- 
tion of his comedy, " She Stoops to Conquer." " Every soul," he 
writes, " is a-visiting about and merry but myself; and that is hard 
too, as I have been trying these three months to do something to 
make people laugh. Thus have I been strolling about the hedges, 
studying jests with a most tragical countenance." This retreat was 
"near the six-mile stone on the Edgware Road; and he finished seve- 
ral of the various compilations in which he was engaged at the same 
period. Mr Prior, who mentions that he continued to retain this 
lodging till his death, gives an account of his own visit to the spot, and 
describes the general features and character of the surrounding scenerv, 
such as to prove the taste of the poet's choice. The son of the person 
with whom he lodged was, at that time, about sixteen, and remembered 
his person and appearance: from this person some not uninteresting 
accounts of his habits were communicated to Mr Prior. These we 
cannot omit. " It appears, that though boarding with the family, the 
poet had the usual repasts commonly sent to his O\MI apartment, 
where his time was chiefly spent in writing. Occasionally he wandered 
into the kitchen, took his stand with his back towards the lire, appa- 


rently absorbed in thought, till something seeming to occur to his mind, 
he would hurry off to commit it, as they supposed, to paper. Some- 
times he strolled about the fields, or was seen loitering and musing 
under the hedges, and perusing a book." 

" In the house, he usually wore his shirt collar open, in the manner 
represented in the portrait by Sir Joshua. Occasionally he read much 
at night when in bed; at other times when not disposed to read, and 
yet unable to sleep, which was not an unusual occurrence, the candle 
was kept burning, his mode of extinguishing which, when out of 
immediate reach, was characteristic of his fits of indolence or careless- 
ness; he flung his slipper at it, which, in the morning, was in conse- 
quence usually found near the overturned candlestick daubed with 
grease. No application of a charitable description was ever made to 
him in vain; itinerant mendicants he always viewed with compassion, 
and never failed to give them relief." We must reluctantly abridge 
the rest. He was in this place frequently visited by Johnson and his 
other principal town associates, to whom he frequently gave dinners. 
The narrator also mentioned instances of Goldsmith's treats and enter- 
tainments to the young people of the house, and of his visits in the 

In 1772 the " Animated Nature" was completed, and he received 
the balance of the price, amounting to 840. At the end of the year 
he was anxiously eng-aged in the arrangements to bring out his comedy. 
Considerable difficulties arose, from the managers of the theatres to 
whom the piece was submitted; at last Mr Colnian, who was unfavour- 
ably impressed, was urged by the solicitations of three common friends 
to give it a trial. As these delays were considered groundless and 
vexatious, and had the injurious consequence of impairing the pros- 
pects of success, by curtailing the time, they became a topic of con- 
versation, and it is said raised some interest in the town, by which the 
conduct of Mr Colman was generally, and not without reason, attri- 
buted to the jealousy of rivalship. His strong predictions of the 
failure of Goldsmith's play were repeated on every side, and could 
hardly fail to operate to its prejudice; they were even repeated 
to those who came to engage their seats for the representation, as 
more specially appears in the instance of the duke of Gloucester's 
servant who had been sent to hire the stage box. Thus it is as evi- 
dent as circumstances can render it, that all possible efforts were made 
to secure a failure. Some of the players refused their parts, and new 
difficulties arose which were overcome by the determination of the 
author, roused into firmness by repeated irritation. The prologue was 
supplied by Garrick: new difficulties arose about the epilogue: when 
these were obviated, mortifications were not wanting in the rehearsal, 
where the envy of Colman found a free vent. At last the play came 
out on the loth March. The success was beyond all expectation. 
Under all the impediments that malice, armed with skill and opportunity, 
could devise bad actors, dresses, scenery there was a triumph which 
must have retaliated on Colman much of the distress which he had 
been the means of inflicting on its author. Only twelve nig'hts 
remained free for its representation; on these it was received with all 
the strongest proofs of public favour. Goldsmith received between 


three and four hundred pounds on the three nights allotted for the 
author. The excitement which had been raised among the literary 
circles continued to manifest itself variously. Col man escaped from 
the storm of squibs in prose and verse, many of which Mr Prior pre- 
serves, by leaving town. But the most serious consequence seems to 
have fallen upon Goldsmith. A letter, composed in the most bitter 
spirit of taunting malice, supposed to be written by Dr Kenrick, 
appeared in the " London Packet" of the 24th of March. An Irish 
captain, who was a friend of Goldsmith, and who understood but one 
way of receiving such an attack, suggested and urged violent pro- 
ceedings on the occasion, with such success, that he repaired to the 
publisher's, and, without much preface, struck this person with his 
cane; a scuffie followed, in which it is supposed the poet came by the 
worst. The real author of the offence, who was at the time in the 
back parlour, came out and separated the combatants. Concerning 
this transaction numerous interesting particulars may be found in Mr 
Prior's volumes. The comedy was published with large profit by 
Newberry, to whom it was given in lieu of a novel for which the 
author had been pledged, but failed to produce. 

In the meantime literary projects were not wanting to keep his pen 
employed, or to excite his active industry to renewed effort. Among 
these, a favourite one, was the plan of a dictionary of arts and sciences, 
which it may be regretted, was not carried into execution, as it was de- 
signed to contain contributions from Johnson, Burke, Reynolds, Burney, 
and Garrick, on the several topics with which they were each most con- 
versant. This, whatever may have been its intrinsic value, would have 
been inestimable as an object of personal and historic interest. But 
the time, expense, and the habits of the projector's own life and char- 
acter, offered difficulties formidable in the eye of commercial prudence ; 
and the splendid plan fell to the ground. A Grecian history, on the 
plan of his other works of the same description, was in the same year 
completed and sold to the booksellers. For this he received 250, as 
appears from his own receipt, published by Mr Prior. 

Notwithstanding the success of his pen, Goldsmith's embarrassments 
were accumulating. He was utterly destitute of prudence ; credulously 
good natured and compassionate, and consequently the dupe of every 
knave, and the prev of his own servants. A look or voice of distress 
was enough to torture his sentient weakness; and his entire stock of 
cash, when he possessed any, was kept in an open drawer. When 
occasional distress compelled him to borrow for his own wants, he was 
still ready to relinquish the scanty supply to the imposture of a begging 
story. Repeated loans had grown into a debt beyond his industry to 
pay his credit with the trade began to fail and his labour began to 
be sunk in hopeless efforts to repair the past. His spirits gave way 
before the prospect of distresses of which the recollections of his own 
experience could present the most formidable shadows. Of this sad 
interval of depression and despair, some accounts have been preserved 
from the writings of one of his most confidential friends (Mr Joseph 
Cradock) ; we have no room for the quotation, but it strongly repre- 
sents the hectic of that depression which attends the last consciously 
vain struggle with the resistless approach of certain calamity. 


It was during this season of distress that " Retaliation,'' the most 
felicitous specimen of the class to which it is to he referred, was writ- 
ten. It had become usual for most of the principal men of letters to 
dine together from time to time at St James's Coffee-house. On some 
one of these occasions, a question arose as to how Goldsmith might be 
mentioned by posterity. The conversation suggested to some one the 
notion of an epitaph ; and for some time several of those present in- 
dulged their wit in specimens of this species of composition, for which 
Goldsmith was selected as the butt. Such is, with the highest reason, 
thought to have been the origin of Goldsmith's poem. It is, never- 
theless, certain that it was not publicly read to the party or at the 
club, and that most of the members were ignorant of it till after the 
poet's death. From the evidence of a line, its date is assigned to 
some time in February, 1774. Mr Prior justly estimates the qualities 
indicated by this poem. " A production such as this presents no 
ordinary difficulties to the writer, as he requires for its execution 
great acuteness and much good nature, keen perception of the 
shades of character, and deep insight into the human heart." Tne 
poem, with all its singular merit, was left unfinished. As the spring 
advanced, his health and spirits continued to decline; while he en- 
deavoured to sustain his spirits by dissipation, and indulged to ex- 
travagance in the expenses of pleasure and a profuse hospitality. 
Having retreated to the country, he was compelled by a painful disease 
to return to town, where his complaint gave way to medical treat- 
ment; but it left behind exhaustion on a frame already debilitated, 
and a nervous fever soon set in. His death was the result. It has 
been ascribed to the rash use of James's powders, taken in defiance of 
his medical attendant. His sufferings continued for a week, and it 
appears that mental distress had a chief effect in the fatal termination. 
When one of his physicians addressed him, " Your pulse is in greater 
disorder than it should be from the state of fever which you have; is 
your mind at ease?" He answered, " It is not." He breathed his 
last on the 3d of April, 1774, at midnight, in his forty-fifth year. He 
was deeply lamented by the best and ablest men of his day, Burke, 
Johnson, and Reynolds: men who were capable of knowing what he 
was, and who felt what he could be, and might become, had his life 

been prolonged and circumstances been favourable. 

It was at first designed that he should have a public funeral; but 

the embarrassment of his affairs altered the intention. It was esti- 
mated that his debts amounted to somewhat near 2,000. 

The character of Goldsmith's mind seems to need less than usual 
comment. Its features are more broad, simple, and well defined than 
often occurs in human history; but it is even from this that some of 
the errors have arisen among his numerous critics and biographers. 
The conventional maxims of social opinion, formed on average views, 
and therefore mostly, though coarsely, just, are apt to fail in singular 
instances: because in all such, principle and the analysis of reason 
must be recurred to. 

In thinking about Goldsmith, a difficulty of constant recurrence is 
the endeavour to reconcile the seemingly strong opposition between the 
wisdom of his writings and the extreme simplicity of his deportment 


and manner, and the heedlessness of his conduct. To form a just con- 
ception of the character thus seemingly inconsistent with itself, there 
is a distinction to be observed, which, though of universal application, 
is not, in most instances, absolutely necessary to the estimate of human 
character. We mean the distinction between the intellectual and tie 
moral constitutions of the mind. In the general composition of ordi- 
nary men, and in the common conduct of their concerns, the higher 
powers of the intellect have no part, and the inferior far less than 
might be supposed. The larger part of every man's conduct is governed 
by motives and impulses arising from inclination, the sense of interest, 
and the passions; and in these, is guided by those nearly unconscious 
convictions and perceptions which are ingrafted and impressed by habit. 
Whatever may be required over and above these, a very superficial 
exertion of independent thinking power can sufficiently effect. The 
qualities here described are, with considerable uniformity, engaged 
in the pursuit of those interests and objects of desire which mainly 
concern the individual, or which appertain to the narrow circle of his 
nearest duties and affections. And it is from their continued and 
habitual exercise within this restricted compass, that the general pro- 
perties of expertness, caution, address, cunning, or prudence, and all 
the ordinary manifestations of common sense and ready sagacity, which 
is to be observed on common occasions, have their rise. That all 
these conditions may be improved by the concurrence of higher 
qualities, we are in no way concerned to deny. Nor are we prepared 
to assert, that higher attributes of intellect may not in many ways be 
improved by the aid of the more general and inferior qualifications. 
Our immediate object in laying down the distinction, is to remind our 
reader of what must be the result in a case of the possible, though 
less usual combination of genius and high sensibility, when to some 
considerable extent deprived of those, more common, and perhaps 
useful, qualities which keep the common way of life. Now, we have 
but to follow the well-marked development of Goldsmith's character, 
from the earliest stages at which his fullest biographer has traced 
it, to find the clearest and simplest illustration of a disposition framed 
apart from the common walk of habit, and nurtured in the higher 
and less practical regions of fancy, imagination, reflection, and 
contemplation. Little, or scarcely at all, affected by the impulses of 
calculating selfishness, which is one of the first and most effective 


teachers and trainers of youthful reason; while others of equal age 
were sharpening their faculties in the shortsighted, yet not less eager 
and vigilant commerce of childish pursuits, Goldsmith employed his 
faculties in those visionary delights which have never so deep an en- 
chantment as that which they exercise on the fresh fancy, which no real- 
ity of experience can interrupt. Endowed also with natural benevolence 
and tenderness far beyond what is usual, and, consequently, confiding 
in the love and kindliness of all the world, it is evident that the ele- 
ments of distrust, jealousy, and caution, wanted those ordinary stimu- 
lants which give them their early and effective predominance in the 
human character. And thus it was that he grew up and was tossed 
from wave to wave in the unconsciousness of a simple and unworldly 
nature exercising his intellect, and keenly too, but on a different 


scale, and under different impulses, from those of the common classes 
of men. So far there is no difficulty. But the reader may per- 
haps recollect the coarseness and vulgarity of many of his tastes and 
habits. We fear to prolong- these remarks too far; hut a moment's 
attention will satisfy any one that there is no essential opposition in 
this fact: but, indeed, rather on the contrary, it must be allowed that 
the inordinate impulses of those strong animal passions, by which the 
early life of our poet may have been led astray, are not among the 
causes which lead to habits of prudence or to the improvement of the 
perceptions or manners, though they may eventually be the means of 
imparting a very considerable experience of human nature of its 
follies and vices and this, with all his credulous simplicity, Goldsmith 
possessed. The point of distinction here to be observed is this, his 
knowledge of man was the result of experience and observation ; his 
disposition was that of habit, the growth of his nature from childhood; 
his knowledge of man was like book-learning, at the call of reason, 
but not an intuition of habit. 

In attentively perusing the chief writings of Goldsmith, it will be 
observed that, so far as they display views of life and of human char- 
acter, much is derived from the experience of his own mind from 
his own virtues and his own errors and that when the vices of the 
basest and most heartless kind are to be delineated, that he displays 
no proof of a thorough and internal acquaintance with the darker and 
colder corruptions of the human heart. He can with his usual power 
describe the actions of bad men, and their results; but he has none of 
that sympathy by means of which the inward workings of wickedness 
are caught for delineation. The characters of Dr Primrose and of his 
son are personated and drawn from within while Squire Thornhill is 
remotely sketched, and no more than a common property of the ma- 
chinery of stories. How differently would the same conception be 
managed by the pen of Smollet, who would have traced the favourite 
scamp with the colours of the heart, and dismissed him to happiness 
in the end. Wherever Goldsmith displays a knowledge of the moral 
world, it will, with little exception, be found to rise from the same 
more wide scope of study and patient observation, rather than from 
the commoner and more narrow circle of habitual intercourse. And 
it is to the very same fact that we are to ascribe his lively perception 
of numerous follies and anomalies which mostly pass unnoticed in the 
world, because most persons are too nearly identified with them to be 
much struck with their absurdity, 

Thus also it may be more easily understood why there is to be found 
in his histories a wider and juster view of the larger events of time, 
and of their relations and consequences, than might be anticipated 
from the personal conduct and character of the writer. 

With regard to the poetry of Goldsmith, it would be easy to apply 
much of the same reasoning; but for this there is not the same occa- 
sion. There is not the same seeming inconsistency to be reconciled ; 
at least not further than the same suggestions will similarly apply. 
But we must not pass the consideration, that much of the peculiar 
inimitable tone of both his main poems is due to the same constitution 
of mind. The character of both the genius and its produce is the 


same intense simplicity and singleness. The whole of these thorough- 
ly original compositions manifest, with uncommon force, the mind it- 
self identified w T ith the language; and this is their peculiar and cha- 
racteristic excellence, and the secret of their power. Poets, as poets 
generally are, are compelled to step out of self to throw aside the in- 
significance of common life, and their ordinary intercourse of thought 
when they sit down to work out the manufacture of poetry, as mostly 
known to readers. Their materials are (evidently) selected, with 
more or less address, from a range of familiar common-places, and 
elaborately polished and adorned by repeated touches of skill. Gold- 
smith felt and thought in verse, and thus expressed the pure native 
suggestions as they rose. It is thus that, however he may have cor- 
rected and adorned, he had first secured that which no skill can give 
the pure expression which alone can awaken the sympathy of the 
breast. This is the real charm of his verse, and it is also the true 
reason why no one can be a poet but by nature. 

To sum the whole of these reflections, Goldsmith was, in a peculiar 
arid eminent sense, the opposite of all that is understood by " a man 
of the world." He w r as a poet, a philosopher, a dreamer, a reasoner, 
and a curious contemplator all that could be compounded from in- 
tellect and sensibility : but as singularly deficient in the little arts and 
knowing qualities which govern all the smaller commerce of the 
world, and the petty craft they generate. 

Among the effects of this temperament, we should notice the very 
singular power by which the utmost harmony of verse, and the utmost 
refinement and finish of expression, are combined with the utmost 
simplicity both of language and conception. No forced turns of either 
no apparently far-sought phrases, or artifices for mere effect, re- 
mind the reader of the tricks of composition. All is the spontaneous 
product of real conception, no less simple than exquisitely true. 

His poetry has found its way to every heart, from the Irish cabin 
to the chamber of refinement and luxury, for there is an echo to 
nature through the entire compass of humanity. It can be under- 
stood by all, and convey the same tenderness, purity, and harmony to 
every ear. Poetry may be overlaid by glittering art, disguised by 
fantastic philosophy, and degraded by imitations and fabrications by 
triteness, nonsense, and eccentricity; and, in the effort to exalt the 
spurious texture of the trade of the hour, be huddled into neglect 
amid the confusion of tongues in the Babel of modern literature : but 
all this must pass away in no long time, because there is no substan- 
tial permanent principle to support it. One flimsy fabrication will be 
outshone by others, and the equally shallow fallacies of rationalism 
or transcendentalism must be cancelled by new follies, if not by 
natural wisdom: truth and nature will never want a place where 
there is sound sense, nor, it is to be hoped, fail to bring back the pub- 
lic taste to the more true and standard rules of judgment, in which the 
" Deserted "Village" and " The Traveller" must find their claim to 


DIED A. D. 1797. 

FOR the life of Macklm the materials are abundant, and the interest 
of these is also very great. His memoir would comprise the history 
of the stage for the more considerable part of the last century. Had 
this occurred at an earlier stage of these volumes, we should have 
cheerfully entered upon the details essential to such a review. The 
reader is, however, aware of the reasons why such a devotion of our 
fust-contracting space is now inexpedient; and we advert to the con- 
sideration here, only to avoid the imputation of having underrated 
the importance of the materials which we are compelled to refuse. 
The following summary is ail we can afford. 

Charles Maclaughlin was born in 1690, in the county of West- 
meath. Ke was respectably educated, and having a strong propen- 
sity to the stage, changed his name to Macklm. He spent some years 
among different strolling companies, and about 1 725 came to London, 
and was engaged in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields theatre. In 1735 he had 
the misfortune to kill a brother actor by an unlucky blow given in the 
heat of a dispute; for this he was tried and acquitted. In 1741, his 
performance of Shylock fixed his character as an actor. For this part, 
his naturally harsh and sinister cast of features gave him great advan- 
tages. From this time, he was mostly sure of obtaining engagements at 
the principal theatres on the most liberal terms, though the caprice of 
his temper, much indiscretion, and a projecting disposition, very fre- 
quently involved him in difficulties which much neutralized his suc- 
cesses, and often threw him out of employment. To the talents of a 
first-rate actor he added those of a dramatic writer of very consider- 
able merit, and produced several pieces which, however they might 
stand the test of criticism, were proofs of very great natural powers. 

In 1748, he was, with his wife, engaged by Sheridan for the Dublin 
stage, at a salary of 800 a-year, for two years. His extreme cap- 
tiousness soon brought this engagement to a premature conclusion. 
He became so intolerably irritable and interfering, that he was actu- 
ally excluded from the theatre; and, in consequence, had recourse to 
law proceedings. The result was a considerable loss, and the ter- 
mination of a profitable engagement. He engaged next at Covent- 
garden, and played Mercutio during the winter with a success which 
has perplexed criticism to account for, as it was little suited to his 
appearance or presumed capabilities. 

In 1754, he took a formal leave of the stage, being then in his 64th 
year, though still in the full possession of his powers. This step was 
occasioned by a speculation which was no less than the scheme of a 
coffee-house and tavern in the piazza of Covent-garden, by which he 
was to realize a vast fortune in a few years. The principal merits of 
the plan on which he relied were cheapness and order; and his arrange- 
ments for the purpose were liberal in the extreme, but otherwise not 
injudicious. At five o'clock a bell was rung, and dinner was served up, 
when the door was shut, and all further guests excluded. Macklm 


having himself brought in the first dish, stood at the sideboard with 
his waiters, whom some months of previous drilling had accomplished 
in the art of attending without noise, according to a system of signs. 
The arrangement, it is said, imposed some useful constraint upon the 
guests; and, while the concern lasted, there occurred fewer quarrels 
than is usual in such places. The provisions for accommodation and 
comfort were otherwise ample, and the table was crowded with the 
wit and literature of the day. 

Combined with this plan, there was another, which, considering its 
perfect inappropriateness, or the incapacity of Macklin himself, was 
singularly unfortunate, and adapted to convert the whole concern into 
a lamentable farce. The company, thus collected, w^ere to be edified 
with critical dissertations on the British drama by Macklin himself. 
An undertaking which demanded the utmost learning, refinement of 
taste, judgment, and eloquence, was sure to become the butt of ridi- 
cule in the hands of one so destitute of all these qualifications, and 
only armed with that rash assurance which is so often the result of 
presuming ignorance. And such was the result. Macklin made him- 
self ridiculous, and exposed himself to the terrible waggery of Foote, 
who seized every occasion to draw him into farcical colloquies, in which 
Macklin was his easy victim. Meanwhile, an improvident scale of 
expense, insufficient attention to economy, and the dishonesty of the 
servants to whom he trusted, soon reduced him to ruin, and in 1 755 
he was declared bankrupt. 

He next joined Barry and Woodward in a new theatre in Dublin, 
when they built one in Crow street, in 1757- This partnership lasted 
but a short time, during which his wife, an actress of some merit, 
died. Fie returned to England, obtained a lucrative engagement at 
Drury Lane, and brought out the farce of " Love a la Mode," the 
success of which brought him both money and reputation. 

In 1774, some discontents with his acting, and some with his con- 
duct, arose, and were fomented into very considerable violence, which, 
after lasting for some time, ended in his dismissal from the company. 
He went to law, and obtained considerable damages, which he relin- 
quished, simply requiring his law expenses, and 200 worth of tickets 
to be taken for his daughter's and his own benefit, with 100 simi- 
larly laid out for the benefit of the theatre, on his reinstatement in 
the company. 

He was at this time in his 85th year, and still, from time to time, 
appearing on the stage both in Dublin and London. But on two 
occasions he was suddenly deserted by his memory in the act of per- 
formance, and in consequence gave up the stage soon after. His last 
appearance was in 1789> on the Dublin boards, in the character of 
Shylock, his memory failed in the middle of the play, and his part 
was taken by another. He was then, if his birth be rightly dated, in 
his hundredth year. He lived, nevertheless, for eight years longer, 
and died July 1 1 ? 1797- 



DISD A. D. 1777. 

BARRY, the celebrated actor, who long contested the palm of histri- 
onic excellence with Garrick, was born in Dublin in 1719. He was 
bred to the business of his father, an eminent and wealthy silversmith. 
But, possessing a strong taste for the stage, with unusually great 
advantages of person and voice, he embraced the dramatic profession 
in 1744. His success was distinguished, and being engaged in Lon- 
don, he played on even terms with Garrick, with whom he fully 
divided the public favour. His name occurs in every record of the 
theatre, and is associated with its entire history. There is no object 
to be attained by an abridged narrative of his life. He built Crow- 
street theatre, and failed to make it profitable; but, returning to 
London, he soon repaired his circumstances, and lived in full posses- 
sion of the most distinguished public favour till his death, in 1777- 
He was interred in Westminster Abbey, 

Barry was also famed in his own time for magnificent and profuse 
hospitality, excessive extravagance, and for the same address in cajol- 
ing his creditors which distinguished Sheridan. These traits would 
furnish an amusing volume. 


DIED A. D. 1768. 

THOUGH actually in holy orders, and the incumbent of English 
benefices, Sterne's character and writings cannot, with any propriety, 
be referred to the ecclesiastical division of this work. 

He was born in Clonmel, in 1713. His father was a lieutenant in 
the army, and grandson to the archbishop of York, Dr Richard 
Sterne. His early life was marked by numerous adventures, incident 
to the military profession of his father, and of these he has left some 
interesting accounts. 

After much wandering he was placed at school at Halifax in 1722, 
and his father having accompanied his regiment to Gibraltar, was 
there wounded in a duel, so severely, that he never quite recovered 
and shortly after being sent to Jamaica, died of a fever in 1731. 

At the age of fifteen Sterne entered Cambridge : he graduated in 
1736. He then, through the influence of his uncle (a prebendary of 
Durham and of York,) obtained the small living of Sutton. In 1741 
he married, and obtained a prebend in York, through the influence 
of his uncle, with whom he soon after quarrelled. Their disagree- 
ment arose from differences of political opinion, but can not be satis- 
factorily explained in a brief sketch. Nearly twenty years, from this 
time, elapsed in the quiet enjoyments of rural arid domestic life, in 
which his time was passed in the performance of his professional 
duties and the gratification of his tastes, among the chief of which, 


music and painting were diligently cultivated. To these, authorship 
presently began to add its pleasures and troubles: it was in 1747 
that the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy made their appearance, 
and were received with immediate and general applause. There was, . 
in that licentious period, no drawback upon their praise on the score 
of religion or strict morality, and their wit and fine sentiment were 
received as a full compensation for the vein of corrupting and in- 
delicate suggestion which accompanied them throughout. In the 
strangely capricious structure of Sterne's language, the most sublime 
and virtuous trains of expression w r ere used to lead to the most offen- 
sive and ludicrous meanings like flowery and adorned alleys leading 
to the dark recesses of vice. By pursuing no train of thought or 
narration, he was enabled to preserve the seeming of great copiousness 
of matter, as he was thus enabled to bring in everything that he could 
think of, or find in any book he could lay his hands on. The whole 
was, however, richly set off by great powers of humour, a picturesque 
conception, and those bursts of elevated sentiment which belonged 
to a mind at the same time replete with fancy, sprightly wit, and 
lively sensibility. We cannot here enter into a fuller description of 
this equivocal production which we trust will not again be paralleled 
from the pen of a Christian divine.* 

It introduced its author at once to the highest worldly circles, and 
as his conversation was very much of a piece with his writings, he 
was universally caressed and entertained. In 1 760 he was presented 
with the curacy of Coxwould, where there was a desirable residence, 
where he afterwards lived at intervals. 

His health began to decline under the combined influence of labour 
and dissipation upon an excitable and weak frame. A blood-vessel in 
his lungs was ruptured, and he was under the necessity of seeking a 
milder air in France. His reception in Paris was worthy of the sage 
motto " vive la bagatelle," of the gay and laughing generation of 
Frenchmen then living. His letters, which have been published, 
overflow with the account of his honours and triumphs. There the 
objectionable coarseness of his writings appeared softened by com- 
parison with the exceeding grossness of manners and conversation, 
in which there was no reserve, and where delicacy was quite un- 
thought of. 

Having continued for five months in this giddy and brilliant circle, 
he was joined by his wife aud daughter, and they repaired to Toulouse, 
where they remained for a year. After some further stay in Mont- 
pellier, he returned in 1764 to England. But as his health could 
not permit of any continued sojourn, he again went abroad in the 
following year. It was at this time his design to write an elaborate 
v/ork descriptive of Italy, its manners, people, and antiquities, and he 
prepared himself for this purpose by extensive reading. But his 
strength did not admit of the necessary exertions. By his letters he 
is to be traced with much interest through Turin, Florence, Naples, 
and Rome; but the details are not full, nor is there any indication of 

On the subject of Sterne's Work, our opinion is stated very fully in the 
Dublin Unhersity Magazine, September 1S3G ; from which this abstract is now 


tlie more serious purpose. Having accepted of a travelling pupil, he 
extended his tour to Venice, Vienna, Saxony, Berlin, and so returned 
to England in 1766, where we find him engaged in the ninth volume 
of Tristram Shandy. 

About this time occurred his most unfortunate intimacy with Mrs 
Draper; which, although we do not see reason to pronounce it guilty 
in the most criminal respect, yet cannot be seen as otherwise than 
degrading to his profession and years, as it was hurtful to the peace 
and reputation of its object. We cannot admit that the sentimental 
tie, commonly called Platonic, may not in possibility be quite innocent ; 
but considering the inconsistency and self-illusion of all sentimental 
passions, and the sleepless wickedness of the human heart, we must 
admit a strong primd facie case against it. Out of a thousand cases 
it is much if one is guiltless. For Sterne may be pleaded old age and 
a broken frame his strong asseverations his facile affections and 
quick sympathies with the loneliness in which he then lived. The 
heart of an old man will seek something to rest on as deserted 
by the promises of the world, an awful sentiment of loneliness begins 
to steal around it, like the approach of night. It is, indeed, to be 
regretted that he had not found a nobler, purer, and truer refuge in 
that faith and hope of which he was the pledged minister. 

Repeated attacks of the same debilitating disease soon brought 
Sterne to the last stage. On the 18th of March, 1768, he expired at 
a boarding house in Bond Street. 

In including Sterne in our memoirs, we have acted in deference to 
the general assumption of biographers; but we have to observe, that 
the grounds of admission by which we have been governed are want- 
ing. His parents were English, and his education, as well as his 
subsequent life, was all in England. We have adopted a wide and 
liberal rule of construction, including both Englishmen who lived and 
founded families in Ireland, and Irishmen wherever they were born 
or lived: acting thus on a rule which excludes the mere locality of 
birth ; we think it right to observe that in the case of Sterne there is 
no other claim. It is for this reason that we have declined entering 
upon the numerous topics offered by his life and works, at the length 
which they perhaps deserve. The view which we have formed upon 
some of the most popular questions respecting his writings, we have 
very fully stated in the Dublin University Magazine.* 

DIED A. D. 1782. 

O'HARA was the author of the burletta of "Midas." He was in his 
day distinguished for musical taste. He wrote the " Two Misers," the 
" Golden Pippin," and " April Day," and altered Fieldings " Tom 
Thumb" to the form which is now known. He died 1782. 

* Xo. for April 1836. 



BORN A. D. 1728. DIED A. D. 1807- 

SYLVESTER O'HALLORAN, a native of Limerick, is well-known to the 
students of Irish history. He began life as a Medical student. Be- 
fore he had reached his twenty-first year he wrote a treatise on 
Cataract, which obtained the approbation of Haller. 

In 1785 he became a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and 
reached considerable eminence as an antiquarian. He wrote an an- 
cient history of Ireland, which holds authority among antiquarians ; 
and several other tracts, on the same subject, which have been received 
with distinction by competent judges. He died in his native city 
in 1807. 

DIED A. D. 1816. 

O'NEILL is still remembered as a harper of unrivalled skill. He is 
said to have been instrumental to the preservation of many of the 
Irish melodies. He was also eminent for antiquarian knowledge. 
Like Carolan, he was blind. He was ill his ninetieth year when he 
died, in 1816. 

DIED A. D. 1816. 

JAMES CAVANAGH MURPHY was a very eminent architect, and the 
author of several distinguished works. He was a traveller, and pub- 
lished his " Travels in Portugal." He also published " Antiquities of 
the Arabians in Spain ;" and " Plans, Elevations, and Views of Ba- 
talha in Portugal." He died in 1816. 

DIED A. D. 1818. 

SIR R. MUSGRAVE is well-known as the author of a history of the 
rebellions in Ireland, in which he gave such minute and faithful de- 
tails as to give great offence to the popular press. He was collector 
of the excise in Dublin, and a member of the Irish parliament. He 
died in 1818. 



DIED A. D. 1804. 

MR MACLAINE was born in the county of Monaghan. He is entitled 
to be recollected for his distinguished translation of Mosheim's His- 
tory, and some other less known writings. He died in 1 804. 


DIED 1807. 

MAcCoRMiCK was designed for the bar; but, unable to meet the 
necessary expenses, he turned to literary pursuits. His principal 
works are " A Secret History of Charles II.," " Reign of George 
III. to 1783," "Continuation of Rapin's England," and a "Life of 
Burke." He died in 1807. 

DIED A. D. 1778. 

MAcBniDE was a physician of very considerable eminence, and was 
born in the county of Antrim. His " Experimental Essays," pub- 
lished in 1764, obtained much notice. But he is to be commemorated 
as the author of a very able and highly distinguished treatise " On 
the Theory and Practice of Medicine." He died in 1778. 


BORN A. D. 1758. DIED A. D. 1816. 

Miss HAMILTON was born in 1758, in Belfast. As her mother was 
not in circumstances favourable to her education, she was, in her sixth 
year, committed to the care of an aunt, her father's sister, who re- 
sided in Scotland. By this lady and her husband the most anxious 
and judicious attention was given to her education. She applied to her 
studies with ardour and distinguished success. It is mentioned that, 
in her thirteenth year, an attempt was made by some youthful friend 
to taint her mind with deistical notions. Happily this effort failed. 
She came to the rational resolution to satisfy herself by a fair inves- 
tigation. With her clear and vigorous understanding, the result of 
such an inquiry could not be doubtful. Her faith was fixed, and gave 
a direction to her life. 

It was in 1785 she made her first essay as a writer for the press, 
by a paper sent to the Lounger. Though devoted to study, she never 
allowed her taste to encroach upon her duties; but, with a forbear- 



ance and right-mindedness seldom to be seen except in the best and 
most principled women, devoted her hours to the household cares of 
her aunt. 

At this period of her life she is mentioned as having been led for 
some time into an engagement of the affections which appeared to 
offer prospects of happiness, but which only led to disappointment, 
and the abandonment of any future hopes of entering into married 

In 1786, the arrival of her brother, a most amiable man, in talents 
not inferior to herself, but more advanced in knowledge and the ex- 
perience of life, not only contributed to her happiness, but also to the 
development and to the more judicious direction of her studies. Hav- 
ing at this time made a great progress in Oriental literature, and 
being engaged in translations from Indian writings, he communicated 
a taste for the same studies to his sister. Under his care and pro- 
tection, she obtained the consent of her friends to visit London, where 
she was introduced to the literary circles of the day, and led to form 
more distinct views for her own guidance and the disposal of her 

In 1792, she had the affliction to lose her inestimable brother, who 
died while preparing for his return to India. 

Her first serious exertion in literature was the " Hindoo Rajah," 
which, some years after its composition, she published in 1796. Her 
next work was " Modern Philosophers," in which she exposed the 
morals and philosophy which were then diffused with pestilential 
activity through Europe. She next produced " Letters on Educa- 
tion," an able and useful work. 

Sometime in 1804, her useful writings had so far attracted atten- 
tion that George III. conferred a pension on her. In the same year, 
she bad returned to fix her residence in Edinburgh, where she was 
received with cordial satisfaction, and took an active part in the pro- 
motion of the improvement of the condition of the poor. Proposals 
of an advantageous nature were made to her to engage in superin- 
tending the education of a nobleman's children; she so far complied 
as to reside in the family as a guest for some months for the purpose 
of guiding the arrangements for that purpose. The result was 
another useful publication, entitled " Letters to the Daughter of a 
Nobleman." Her next work was " Exercises in Religious Know- 
ledge," published in 1809. The " Cottagers of Glenburnie" followed, 
with distinguished success. 

In 1812, the state of her health was such as to excite alarm among 
her friends. It was advised that she should pass the winter in Eng- 
land. She accordingly repaired to Kenilworth, where she continued 
with laudable industry to pursue her plans of useful and instructive 
literature. But, in addition to gout and rheumatism, her ordinary 
ailments, she was attacked with a violent inflammation in the eyes, 
which occasioned the severest suffering. Having repaired to Harrow- 
gate, her strength and spirits continued to decline till the 13th July, 
1816, when she was released from her sufferings by death. 


DIED A. D. 1804. 

JARVIS was a very eminent painter on glass. Having first obtained 
notice in Dublin, he removed to London. He was employed to paint 
the windows in Windsor and Oxford, from designs by Reynolds and 
West. He died in 1804. 

DIED A. D. 1803. 

JEPHSON was born in 1736. He w r as a captain in the 73d regiment, 
and was a dramatic writer of some ability. He was warmly be- 
friended by W. Gerard Hamilton, who obtained him 600 a-year on 
the Irish establishment. His tragedy of " Braganza" was admired by 
Horace Walpole. His " Count de Narbonne" was eminently success- 
ful. He died at the Blackrock in 1803. 

DIED A. D. 1800. 

JOHNSON was born in 1719, in the county of Limerick: received his 
education in the Dublin University. Was called to the bar, but was 
impeded by deafness. He is noticeable as the author of " Chrysal ; or 
the Adventures of a Guinea." In 1782, he went out to the East 
Indies, and narrowly escaped shipwreck. He was for some time a writer 
in the Bengal newspapers became partner in some journal, and is 
said to have made money. 

He died in Bengal in 1800. He wrote several works. 

DIED A. D. 1773. 

JONES was born in an humble condition (in Drogheda), and became a 
bricklayer. His literary talents were introduced to the notice of lord 
Chesterfield, when lord-lieutenant, who took him to England. By the 
aid and interest of this nobleman, his tragedy, the "Earl of Essex." 
was brought out. It appeared in 1753, and ran twelve nights. Fierce 
passions, and an intractable vanity, alienated and tired out his friends, 
and he died in great want, in a garret, in 1773. 


BORN 7 A. D. 1727. - DIED A. D. 1805. 

ARTHUR MURPHY was the son of a merchant. He was born at 
Clooniquin, in the county of Roscommon. His father was lost at sea. 
He was sent, at the age of ten, to St Omer's, to be educated: there 
he acquired a masterly acquaintance with the Greek and Latin lan- 
guages. He returned home in 1744; remained for three years with 
his mother; was then sent to an uncle in Cork, in whose counting- 
house he continued till 1749. He was destined for business, but the 
vagrant temper, so often combined with the poetical temperament, 
interfered, and, instead of going out to take charge of his uncle's 
West India estate, he returned to his mother in 1751. 

In October, 1752, he entered on his long literary career by com- 
mencing a periodical: it lasted two years, and was the means of intro- 
ducing him to actors and literary men in London. He contracted 
debts on the hope of a legacy from his uncle; but, being disappointed, 
he took Foote's advice, and tried his success as an actor. His first 
appearance was in Othello ; and, though wanting in the essentials for 
distinguished excellence, by dint of judgment he rose to a respectable 
rank. He was thus enabled to pay his debts and clear 400. He 
then resolved to quit the stage, and go to the bar. 

He was refused admission in the Middle Temple, on the ground of 
his having been on the stage; but was received at Lincoln's-Inn. We 
pass his political writings. He mainly lived by writing for the stage. 
His dramatic productions were in general attended with success. 

He was called to the bar in 1762. He went the Norfolk circuit, 
but without success; and afterwards obtained but scanty employment 
in London, where he now and then appeared to plead. He left the 
bar in 1788, in disgust, on a junior being appointed king's counsel. 

Retiring to Hammersmith, he gave himself up entirely to literature. 
In 1793 he published his translation of Tacitus, which he dedicated 
to Edmund Burke. 

By the interest of lord Loughborough, he was appointed one of the 
commissioners of bankruptcy, and soon after obtained a pension of 
200 a-year. 

His dramatic works entitle him to a high rank among the British 
dramatists ; and his classical attainments have obtained him no inferior 
place as a scholar. 

He died at Knightsbridge, in 1805. 

BORN A. D. 1741. - DIED A. D. 1812. 

MALONE was born in Dublin, in 1741. He was a descendant from 
the ancient family of the Malones, a branch of the O'Conors. In 


1756 he entered the university of Dublin, and graduated with his class 
in the ordinary time. 

In 1763 he was called to the Irish bar, and was rapidly rising into 
reputation and employment, when a fortune was left him, which made 
him independent of professional industry. He therefore retired; and 
settling in London, devoted himself to literature. His chosen walk 
was criticism, and he is known to the world as the most judicious of 

While engaged in the revision of his edition of Shakespeare, a 
very strange dispute arose between him and Steevens. Mr Steevens 
insisted that his brother commentator should reprint his notes with- 
out any change, in order to preserve the force and application of 
certain replies which he had in preparation for them. To this 
monstrous requisition, which overtops the proverbial absurdities of 
Shakespeare's commentators, Mr Malone did not think fit to accede. 

Mr Malone's edition of Shakespeare was published in 1790. Its 
merit is too universally recognized for comment. In the present day, 
a more rational spirit has directed the antiquarian class,* and a vast 
accession of light has been reflected on the page of Shakespeare. 
The full importance of this is well known, but it would be unfair to 
exact the advantages of modern discovery from the ablest writers of 
the last century. 

Mr Malone was intimately acquainted with Johnson, Goldsmith, 
Burke, Percy, and all the eminent men of his time. He was one of 
the executors of Reynolds. 

In 1800 he published an edition of the pros 3 works of Dryden, 
which till then had been obscurely scattered. 

He was on the point of publishing a new edition of Shakespeare 
when he fell ill and died, in 1812. 

DIED A. D. 1812. 

HALLIDAY was distinguished as a scholar; but only claims commemo- 
ration for his extensive attainments in the ancient Irish language and 
literature, from which much was expected by the Irish public. These 
expectations were disappointed, by his death at the age of twenty-four, 
in 1812. He published the translation of half of Keating's History 
of Ireland, and composed an Irish Grammar. 


BOEN A, D. 1728. - DIED A. D. 1799. 

OCR claim to Black is of that nature which we should consider as 
exempting us from the necessity of introducing his name, were it not 

* We shall enter largely upon the subject at a further stage of this work. 


that his claim on the gratitude of this, and every other country where 
knowledge is prized, forbids the slight implied in the abandonment of 
our right. His birth belongs to France his life to Scotland, but 
his father was a native and inhabitant of Belfast, where he was edu- 

He was born in Bourdeaux, in 1728. At twelve he came home to 
Belfast, and there received the first rudiments of his education. From 
thence he was sent to the university of Glasgow. 

The tendencies of his mind were early shown, and a strong love of 
natural science evidently directed his choice to the medical profes- 
sion. Scotland was then the great centre of this branch of study, and 
to this that country was indebted for Black. 

Black graduated in Edinburgh in 1754, and his inaugural disserta- 
tion is remarkable as a sketch of the subsequent track of his studies 
and discoveries. It was entitled^ " De humore acido a cibis orto ct 
magnesia alba" 

In 1756, he had brought his ideas before the professional and 
scientific circle of Edinburgh in a more full and detailed form, and it 
was perhaps in consequence that he received his appointment to the 
professorship of anatomy and chemistry in Glasgow, on the resigna- 
tion of Cullen. 

His great discovery on the subject of heat followed, and was the 
splendid result of several years of profound investigation. He also 
made the first steps in the discovery of the gases, of which till his 
time no just notion had been received. We abstain from all detail of 
these great branches of natural science, because we do not think that 
any one who has acquired the rudiments of chemistry can now be 
ignorant of them, or that accurate ideas can in a brief compass be 
conveyed to those who have not.* These latter are few, indeed, 
among the educated classes: those brilliant and interesting facts, not 
very long since among the profoundest secrets of nature, beyond the 
intellectual compass of the immortal Cullen, are now brought within 
the reach of every school-boy the beautiful and powerful agents of 
more than half our social comforts. 

Dr Black's theory of heat became universally adopted. He pursued 
it into many curious and useful applications, in which he was aided 
by his pupils, Irvine and Watt. He was ably followed in the same 
line of application, by Priestley and Cavendish. In 1762, he read an 
account of his experiments in public, and made a statement of the 
fundamental theorems on which the whole was built. The entire 
details of his method, experiments and discoveries, having been spread 
through all the schools in Europe, were taken up and prosecuted by 
the ablest philosophers. One of the consequences was, the same 
injustice that has so often aimed to deprive British genius of its fame. 
The French chemists, with the vanity and disingenuousness peculiar 

* As we may be accused of not having obserred the rule thus implied, we 
must observe that, if any instance to the contrary be found, the intelligent reader 
will also perceive the special reason. For example, an important controversy a 
fallacy pernicious to science, morals, or religion the advance of Irish art or 
science, die. <tc. 


to that people, repeated his processes, and published the results as 
original discoveries, with an entire disregard of the author. Laplace 
published investigations on heat, plainly pirated from the labours of 
Black, which had been many years before the public. Of Black's 
existence he seems unconscious a species of dishonesty which would 
be unaccountable and perplexing, were it not so usual among his 
countrymen as to leave no doubt as to its character and motives. But 
all such artifices sink into trifles compared with the audacious im- 
posture which we must, however reluctantly, couple with the name of 
De Luc. As in the case of Newton and Leibnitz, there had been a 
previous correspondence on the subject, though of a nature far more 
explicit and direct. De Luc had communicated to Dr Black his 
admiration of his theory and investigations, and expressly proposed to 
be the foreign editor of a systematic exposition. Dr Black furnished 
him with numerous details. De Luc brought out a work in which he 
gave the whole theory as his own, incidentally stating (as a satisfac- 
tory confirmation) his understanding that Dr Black agreed with his 

The friends of this great man were neither silent nor patient of such 
an unworthy proceeding. The doctor was urged to publish a system- 
atic history of his discoveries; but this the urgent and laborious duties 
of his professorship, much augmented by the zeal with which they were 
discharged, rendered difficult. He had been brought from Glasgow, 
in 1766, to succeed Dr Cullen in the chair of chemistry in Edinburgh. 
Here his lectures became in a high degree popular: they were crowded 
from the whole of Europe, and became even fashionable as a part of 
polite education. This latter circumstance was the consequence of his 
extraordinary perspicuity, and the ingenuity, precision, and general 
interest of the experiments by which his statements were illustrated 
and confirmed. 

His constitution was by nature extremely delicate; and the intense 
and anxious labour of his pursuits and duties was too much to be re- 
sisted without injury. He became subject to distressing affections of 
the stomach and lungs; and a spitting of blood was the result of any 
fatigue, or the slightest freedom of living. 

It was in 1799> in the seventy-first year of his age, that he closed 
his illustrious labours with his life, by an easy and painless death, un- 
attended by any decided illness. He was found dead in his chair, with 
the cup from which he had just taken the simple diet of which his 
delicate health admitted, resting on his knee in such a manner as to 
indicate how tranquilly and gently the last earthly change had passed. 

His lectures have been published by Professor Robinson. The only 
works from his own hand are slight in bulk, though interesting and 
important in value. These are, his " Inaugural Dissertation ;" his 
"Experiments on Magnesia Alba, Quicklime," &c. ; "Observations 
on the more ready Freezing of Water that has been Boiled;" and ail 
" Analysis of the Waters of some Boiling Springs in Iceland." 

* From the application of these strictures, Lavoisier is honourably exempt. It 
was on the recommendation of this illustrious Frenchman that Black was elected 
as one of the foreign associates to the academy of sciences in Paris. 


EOIIN A.D. 1775. -- DIED 1802. 

DERMODY'S father was a schoolmaster, first at Ennis where his son 
was born in 1 775, and afterwards in Galway. In his school, Thomas, 
the subject of our memoir, received his education, and showed such 
extraordinary powers of attainment, that he is said to have been em- 
ployed as classical assistant when he was but nine years old. Before 
he had attained his tenth year, he displayed poetic powers of no mean 
order. There is also reason to believe that the same precocity showed 
itself in every part of his conduct and disposition. When the affections 
and passions, as well as intellectual powers, are prematurely developed, 
they are necessarily far in advance of the slower progress of the judg- 
ment, founded on mature experience, and demand, in a more than 
ordinary degree, the control of authority, and the training hand of 
discipline and example. This seems to have been precisely what was 
wanting to Dermody. His father, a man of talent and learning, was 
addicted to drunkenness ; and the consequence was a disorderly home 
and a vicious example. The son, without religion, prudence, or virtue, 
thoroughly ignorant of life, and inflated by imagination, vulgar flattery, 
and vicious reading, was, while yet a boy, inflamed with a strong in- 
clination to leave his home and follow the fortunes of an adventurer. 
The perusal of that most profligate and corrupting novel, " Tom 
Jones," gave the immediate impulse to his depraved temper, and from 
the house of a gentleman with whom he and his father were on a visit, 
he departed, without communicating his design, for Dublin. Two 
shillings were his entire provision; but he entertained a full reliance 
on his genius, and a strong expectation of the fortunate adventures 
which happen to the heroes of romance. We cannot pursue the inci- 
dents of his peregrination; he arrived penniless in Dublin, and was 
soon glad to accept of a tuition from the keeper of a book stall. As 
this was the dictate of hunger, so it is probable that a few days of the 
sordid economy of a cellar, in which his employer resided, must have 
tired his wandering genius. He became successively acquainted with 
several persons of learning, who had the discernment to perceive his 
extraordinary talents and scholarship, and the liberality to relieve him, 
and to endeavour to put him in the way of doing something for himself. 
At last he was introduced to the notice of that most worthy man, the 
Reverend Gilbert Austin, Rector of Maynooth, who, being himself 
richly versed in every branch of literary and scientific attainment, and 
endowed with a most enlarged spirit of charity, entered with the zeal 
ot his benevolent nature into the interests of a young and friendless 
scholar and poet. At his own expense he selected and published a 
volume of his poems; and, by means of a subscription, collected a suffi- 
cient sum to place him out of the reach of immediate want. 

It was now that his vices began to assert the entire command over 
his conduct. The most abandoned and flagrant impostures, without 
any proportionable inducement, plainly indicated an utter disregard of 
every principle of right, or truth, or sense of honour or decency. And 


the consequence was, that while by his genius he obtained patrons, he 
lost their protection as fast, by conduct unrestrained by either shame 
or prudence, We save ourselves the disgusting task of recounting 
instances, because there is, in the case of Dermody, no demand for the 
nice abatements which the duty of justice usually imposes, where good 
and bad are to be carefully weighed in the opposite scales, and the 
exaggerations of report corrected. Dermody had no virtues but 
those random and capricious impulses which originate in the animal 
sympathy, and which derive their real value from the more permanent 
habits of the mind; they may communicate ardour and fervency to 
spiritual sentiment, they may quicken virtue in the observance of right, 
but they aiford to vice the gift of dissembling with effect, and are the 
current pretension of fraud and hypocrisy. We are fully aware, and 
admit, that these virtues of temperament (if the expression be allowed), 
when they are largely developed, may have a very controlling influ- 
ence over the conduct this it would be folly to deny but, in the 
present instance, we have no allowances to make on this score. Thomas 
Dermody was not only abandoned to every vice, and devoid of all virtue, 
but he was avowedly so. His love of vice was avowed: " I am vicious, 
because I like it," was the profession of which every incident of his 
life which has found any record, is the illustration. One after another, 
wealthy and liberal friends exerted themselves to raise him from the 
abject condition to which vice and folly quickly reduced him again ; 
however lifted into respectability by his own genius or the charity of 
others, he uniformly sank back by the innate weight of a thoroughly 
profligate nature. Such being summarily the life to which details 
could but impart the severity which we wish to avoid, we have only 
to state the names of the benevolent and liberal friends who would, 
were it possible, have raised him to the position which they thought 
might be attained by his talent and learning: Mr Owenson; Henry 
Grattan; the Countess of Moira; the Attorney General (afterwards 
lord Kilwarden), who generously offered to pay the expenses of a uni- 
versity education; all the successive efforts of these liberal friends were 
frustrated by a uniform improvidence at the prompting of a worthless 
and vicious disposition. A life of extreme vicissitudes and emergen- 
cies was the consequence; if he was one day the cherished object of 
generous patronage, in a few more he contrived to be the squalid in- 
mate of the abodes of vice, or the penniless outcast even from these last 
retreats of human degradation. In depravity, as well as in goodness, 
there is a progress, which is, however, not so pleasing to follow; per- 
haps it is a wise and merciful provision, that the obliteration of the 
moral sense is accompanied, and perhaps limited, by the decay of the 
understanding. Something of this is strongly suggested by the inci- 
dents related of Dermody. 

Having run through all the changes of a life few in years, but dis- 
graced by profligacy and darkened by misery seldom compassed in 
the longest; worn by diseases arid privations, and impaired in intellect, 
Thomas Dermody died in England, in 1802. His writings and his 
attainments were deservedly admitted as unquestionable indications of 
talents and of genius approaching the highest order, bestowed to no 
purpose but for a lesson too plain to be enforced by amplifications. 



We have to add a strong assurance to our reader that it is with no 
uncharitable pleasure that we have written this brief summary. It is 
usual among the writings which must be turned over for our materials, 
to disguise, to some extent, the reality by qualifications which, when 
they do not chance to be quite nugatory, are pernicious. Leaving the 
character over which they pretend to cast a tolerant veil, thoroughly 
exposed to the understanding of any reader, their charity goes no far- 
ther than a courtesy or a deference to vice. The extent to which this 
perversion is carried is often ludicrous. Some one has, for instance, 
been complaisant enough to praise Dermody for not, " like some others," 
pretending to any virtue. We trust that no one may be offended by 
our disclaiming this species of charity, of which we cannot discern 
any useful or worthy end. 


BORN A.D. 1724 -- DIED A,D. 1769. 

DERRICK began life as apprentice to a linen-draper in Dublin. Having 
a taste for gaiety and idleness, and some superficial talents, he quitted 
the business, and after vainly trying the stage, he subsisted by writing 
for the press. After many vicissitudes, he profited so far by his inter- 
course with the scenes of dissipation and folly, as to succeed Beau 
Nash as master of the ceremonies at Bath. He produced many works 
of no notoriety, and died in 1769. 

ILobet 3 

BORN A.D. 1744. DIED A.D. 1817. 

MR EDGEWORTH'S family settled in Ireland in the reign of Elizabeth. 
Its descendants seem to have been endowed with more than the 
average portion of talent, vivacity, and activity of spirit, and to have 
passed through the lights and shades of earthly vicissitude, to which, 
in the course of things, such a modification of the character is liable. 
Mr Edgeworth seems to have faithfully inherited the mind with the 
fortune of his ancestors ; and at an early age manifested on several occa- 
sions and in various modes, the indications of a precocious and prompt 
intellect and of a temper active, adventurous, and speculative. Of 
this, numerous examples may be found in his memoir, which has long 
been in the hands of the public. 

He was born in or about the year 1744. He ascribes that love for 
mechanics, for which he was so distinguished, to the early impression 
received in his seventh year from an old gentleman, who then showed 
an orrery and explained its uses. His youthful age was distinguished 
by a love of acquirement, and a no less remarkable fondness for the dis- 
sipation of gaiety, and the pleasures of the hall and field. In 1760 he 
entered the university of Dublin; he was then in his sixteenth year, 
and was, probably, too much under the intoxication of that opening 
period of youthful hope and desire, to attend to the studies of the 


place. And. it may be added, that it does not necessarily follow that 
a practical talent for the results of science, is proportionably accom- 
panied by a talent or taste for the rudiments, or the theory. Mr Edge- 
worth was idle, and, consequently, obtained no collegiate distinction. 
When he had passed about two years in this unprofitable course, he 
was sent to finish his education on easier terms in Oxford. While 
there, he contracted an attachment to a Miss Elers, the daughter of an 
old friend of his father's, whom he married in Gretna Green, a step 
rendered necessary by his being yet a minor. He obtained his father's 
forgiveness. He soon after entered the temple to keep terms for the 
bar. While thus employed, he became acquainted with Sir Francis 
Blake Delaval, the most wild and dissipated character of his day, a wit, 
gambler, and horse racer; by means of this gentleman he was intro- 
duced into a circle of persons of an idle and rakish class, but the death 
of an intimate, through whom this association was formed, was for- 
tunately its termination; and he soon fell into more respectable and 
more congenial acquaintances. 

He had been for some time amusing himself by exercising his in- 
genuity in the invention of mechanical contrivances, among which, the 
varied modes of locomotion appear chiefly to have engaged his attention. 
In pursuing these, he had conceived some improvement upon an inven- 
tion of Darwin's, who had also amused his leisure in similar pursuits. 
The result was, after some correspondence, a visit to the Doctor, who 
had all through imagined his clever correspondent to be a coachmaker, 
and whose error was hardly removed after some hours' acquaintance. 
To most readers who may happen to be conversant with the social and 
literary history of that day, it is needless to say, that Mr Edgeworth 
thus dropped into a circle very peculiarly characterized: much shrewd 
common sense and observation much intellectual activity, smartness, 
and ingenuity a strong infusion of the superficial philosophizing of that 
day, moderated by those qualities, but still giving to their manners and 
language a slight tinge of ckarlatanerie, seem to be the characteristic 
breathing, with no small prominency, in the recollections of the clever and 
lively circle of the Sewards, Darwins, Days, and their tea-table and 
epistolary friends. Mixed with these we meet names of weightier 
claim, Watt, Bolton, Ramsden, &c., men at the head of the practical 
science of their time, and the worthy founders of the vast improve- 
ments which are now so entirely altering the structure and operations 
of social life throughout the world. This, to one so social, clever, and 
vivacious, as Mr Edgeworth, was like the opening of a new world of 
adventure and a new field of intellectual excitement. The conversa- 
tion and the gossip of the literary the studies and inventions of the 
scientific and the bold speculations of the theoretic, were laid open 
to him in their most animated and engaging aspects. Himself in 
many respects among the most ingenious and active spirited of the 
circle, his ambition was nourished, and his curiosity awakened and 
instructed; and his mind, which never could have subsided into a quiet 
and settled course, directed into one that was both respectable and 

Among his early acquaintance was Mr Thomas Day, a gentleman 
of fortune, known as the author of " Sanford and Merton." His 


opinions may be generally described as extreme deductions from the 
eccentric and shallow theories of the day. In common with Mr Edge- 
worth, this gentleman indulged a taste for such theories, and their 
intimacy was cemented by an earnest ardour in the pursuit of useful 
and practical results from them. It would be tedious here to trace 
these propensities to the spirit of the time, or to show how a strong 
impulse in favour of change and innovation rendered education a topic 
of exceeding interest to speculation. It evidently was the main handle 
offered to the metaphysical inquirer for any extensive practical experi- 
ment. These young friends took up the question with the ardour of 
their nature and youth, and began to speculate on education before they 
can be properly said to have completed their own. For such youthful 
and inexperienced philosophers there must have been, as we know there 
was, a deep fascination in the sparkling eloquence of Rousseau. His 
erratic doctrines, founded on assumptions so specious as to wear to in- 
experience the aspect of plain common sense, were largely infused into 
the spirit of a time pregnant" with change. With Day it found a con- 
genial soil and became assimilated, shooting up in a plentiful growth 
of fantastic notions. Mr Edgeworth was, happily for himself and his 
children, gifted with shrewd sense and high powers of observation, 
which rescued him from the illusions which misled his ardour for a 
time. The philosophy of a depraved school was differently accepted 
and put into practice by each. Mr Day concluded by discovering a 
philosophy of his own, and while less daring minds speculated on the 
improvement of the rising race, by trusting their education to the 
kindly hands of nature, he resolved to begin one step at least farther 
back, in the education of the mothers. His plan was to educate a wife 
for himself; and for this purpose he took two female children from the 
foundling hospital, and carried them abroad, to superintend the growth 
of their understandings. Mr Edgeworth was content to try the ex- 
periment on his first-born son, and in course of time found reason to 
alter and amend his views on the subject of education. 

The very unusual course and character of the main incidents of the 
earlier part of Mr Edgeworth's life, is such as to render it inexpedient 
for us to enter minutely upon the details with which he has abundantly 
supplied the world. They who look for them in his own account, will 
be much amused and, perhaps, instructed. He led a varied and busy 
life, was acquainted largely in the most interesting circles, and observed 
with a curious eye. His autobiography is replete with the interest 
which might reasonably be anticipated frora such advantages. We 
must, however, resist the temptations to digress, thus offered in every 
page, and confine our remarks to a few points of more general im- 

Mr Edgeworth's first wife having died, he was shortly after married 
to a Miss Honora Sneyd; and with this marriage his autobiography 
ends, and the account of his life is taken up by his celebrated daughter, 
the offspring of his first wife. 

After his second marriage, Mr Edgeworth returned to Ireland to 
live upon his estate. From that period he may be said to have com- 
menced a new and far more respectable and useful course of life. The 
improvement of his property, and the education of his children exercised 


his talents; while his devotion to mechanical studies and contrivances 
gave a salutary and safe direction to the excess of his mercurial facul- 
ties. In a country, and at a period when unbounded prejudice and 
ignorance obscured the intellect and repressed every tendency to im- 
provement, his sagacity and experienced observation, and the boldness 
of a free and adventurous temper, combined to lead him to the adop- 
tion of a more rational and beneficent method, both in his estate and 
household. And in his conduct to his tenantry, and in the educa- 
tion of his children, he displayed an example in many respects worthy 
to be followed. So far as we are enabled to form an opinion from the 
statements of Mr Edgeworth's biography, we are convinced that among 
the tendencies of his mind, one was a strong ambition to be useful, 
and, according to his own views, to promote the interests of mankind. 

Among the means for this laudable end, the diligent application to 
mechanical contrivances afforded employment to the prevailing turn 
of his tastes and intellect. He possessed much of the curiosity and 
invention essential to such a purpose ; and we cannot doubt that a more 
profound and enlarged acquaintance with mathematical and physical 
science than he seems to have possessed, would have enabled him to 
take a prominent place among the authors of useful inventions. He 
claims to have invented an application of telegraphic communication, 
and we believe he is allowed to have made some useful discoveries re- 
lative to wheel carriages. 

The most important, however, of Mr Edgeworth's claims to the 
gratitude of posterity, are his contributions, however they may be rated, 
on the subject of education. To this subject he applied much good 
common sense, much experience, and a diligent and careful study pur- 
sued under favourable circumstances. He had set out in life with a 
very remarkable mistake on this head; precisely the reverse of the most 
important and universal fact in the nature of the infant mind. So 
much so, indeed, that the notice of it offers the fairest occasion to 
state a truth more important to parents than any other to know and 
act on. It was the error of the school of Rousseau, that the early for- 
mation of the moral and intellectual character was to be trusted to the 
hand of Nature, and that the mind was to be suffered to attain a cer- 
tain degree of maturity before any application of discipline or educa- 
tion. Mr Edgeworth had the good sense to reject the destructive and 
absurd quackery of the specious character of Geneva, and to adopt and 
inculcate a system founded on the reality of human nature. We are 
not, however, aware to what extent an elementary explanation of this 
principle has been at any time stated. It is the result of two distinct 
considerations: first, the fact that the faculties and the tendencies of the 
human mind begin to be developed in different degrees, and with a rapid 
though irregular succession, commencing with the earliest dawn of life. 
Thus, for example, before an infant is many months old, anger and 
jealousy begin to show themselves with love; and observation witli 
curiosity, also as early begin to indicate the first intellectual move- 
ments. Before the first year is passed, there are few of either the 
moral or intellectual tendencies of ordinary men that cannot be more 
or less discerned by any qualified observer. This is the first fact. 
The second is, that all the knowledge, the dispositions, and acquire- 


raents of mature life, are (with some insignificant exceptions,) acquired 
habits. That we think, act, and even feel, hear, and see, by habit. 
And that in proportion as habits are early acquired, they are more 
thoroughly incorporated with the character. These are the fundamental 
principles of education. And the very first proposition which follows 
most immediately from them is, that the very earliest indication of a 
tendency, (so far as certain other considerations of a limiting kind do 
not interfere,) would, in principle, be the moment for the application 
of a proportional discipline to that tendency. The limits arise from 
the fact that there are other tendencies of our complex nature to be re- 
garded; and the parent's judgment is to be shown by preserving the 
temperate course between opposite principles. We are not eng-aged 
upon a treatise on education, or we should say much more ; we have 
made the foregoing statement, because we are glad to have any op- 
portunity to suggest a principle of such extensive importance, which 
(to judge from the common conduct of parents,) seems so very little 

We do not agree with Mr Edgeworth as to the value of what his 
biographer has termed the " experimental method" of education. The 
results of particular observation of the indications of individual chil- 
dren, would have the same value that similar observation has in natural 
philosophy, were it not that all the main processes on which education 
must depend, are familiarly known. They are the old laws of human 
nature, on which thousands of able observers and thinkers have been 
engaged from the beginning of society. All that such a register as 
might thus be made could serve, would be the exhibition of the law 
regulating peculiar cases. We do not deny that such an induction 
might be very useful, we only deny the use proposed. We wholly dis- 
agree with the argument which an eminent critic has employed against 
it; for we are thoroughly convinced of the uniformity which must pre- 
vail in the utmost eccentricities of human conduct, or in the moral or 
intellectual phenomena of nature. It is to detect this very law that 
the method proposed would be useful. And the very hasty assertion 
of the reviewer is just what shows its want. It would be curious, and 
not without its use in theory, to ascertain the limits of age at which 
certain human tendencies may commence. The apparent singularities 
of children are not only reproduced, but they are actually the begin- 
nings of the peculiarities of grown men and in this view it would be 
desirable that they should be studied, and, if possible, be reduced to 
rules. They are, indeed, often the combined effects of nature and 
circumstances, and thus would be more important still. 

Mr Edgeworth had ample opportunity for the prosecution of experi- 
ments on the education of children; he was married five times, and 
had children by each of his wives. Whether the method he pursued 
was the very best or not, it was in a great many respects judicious, 
and, so far as we have been enabled to judge from the results, success- 
ful in an eminent degree. Of the talents and virtues of some, at least, 
of his children, the public has been enabled to judge; and were we 
tv> test a theory by the criterion of success, the decision must unques- 
tioi ably be favourable. It does not, indeed, follow from such instances 
that the theory is altogether right, because the practice has been 


ill some instances successful. A man may walk well, and have a 
false theory of walking. In common courses of conduct, men will 
theorize wrongly, and act with much practical prudence; observation, 
common sense, and judgment, go before and preside over the detail: 
theorizing follows; and many little exertions of ingenuity may obtain 
the merit of successes with which they have nothing to do. The chil- 
dren of Mr Edgeworth were endowed with hereditary talent some 
of them in a very high degree. The experience of Mr Edgeworth 
was peculiar; to appreciate his theories of education we should allow 
or deduct for the intellectual constitution of his children. His method, 
however, seems to have been well adapted to the subjects on which it 
was employed. His pursuits, the results at which he commonly 
arrived, his love of explaining, were all suited to the excitement and 
gratification of intellectual tendencies. This would not be equally 
successful with numerous broods of children. In Mr Edge worth's 
system there was a defect which no philosophical merits can compen- 
sate we mean the want of a Christian education, by which alone the 
radical vices of human nature can be rightly disciplined. This is, 
indeed, the lowest statement which can be given of such a want. It 
is the vice which radically pervades the views of Mr Edgeworth, so 
far as they are to be inferred from his statements; made, too, under 
circumstances which seemed to impose the necessity of being explicit; 
that he looked on religion only so far as it has relation to the tem- 
poral interests, or simply as a social principle. This most indefensi- 
ble error has been very justly and strongly reprehended by the same 
critical writer, in the " Quarterly Review," to one of whose strictures 
we have already adverted. We should, but for this, have made a few 
remarks; but we do not consider the comment which we should have 
to offer to be so much wanting now as at that period. As we have 
not here stated the fallacious defence, we may omit the reply. It may 
be enough for the present to record our protest against the notion, 
under whatever circumstances advanced, that any svstem of education 
in which the spiritual and eternal interests of the individual are not 
placed in their due pre-eminence, can be regarded as other than la- 
mentably and fatally defective. These are the Jirst interests, and it 
is an error, or a culpable neglect, to omit them: neither the legislature 
or the parent can set aside the paramount obligation ; there is but one 
excuse which is not illogical, and that one is not true. 

Mr Edgeworth entered parliament at a late period of his life. Of 
his political opinions, it is unnecessary to enter into any detail. At 
the time of the rebellion his house was attacked, and saved by the 
gratitude of one person who had received some act of kindness from 
his family. The members of his household had flown on the first 
alarm into Longford ; and on their return they found everything safe, 
and were received with joyful welcome by the people of Edgeworths- 
town. It was at this period that Mr Edgeworth was married to his 
last wife. 

Mr Edgeworth was a man of very considerable talent and virtue, 
and in a very high degree to be praised, when such praise was a dis- 
tinction for all that contributes to the respectability and happiness of 
private life; as well as, also, for a public spirit of utilitarianism, which, 


properly directed, controlled, and seconded, would be capable of great 
and extensive good. 

He was joint author with his far more able and talented daughter, 
in several useful writings ; most of which were directed with a view 
to the education of the young or the improvement of the poor; and 
which, we have no doubt, have had their designed effect in diffusing 
just ideas and dispelling prejudices. 

Mr Edge worth died in 1817. 

DIED 1812. 

MR KIRWAN was educated in the Jesuits' college of St Omer's : he was 
intended for a physician. He showed a strong turn for chemistry, and 
pursued the study with eagerness. By the death of his elder brother, 
he succeeded to the family estate in the county of Gal way, and, in con- 
sequence, relinquished the design of a profession. He nevertheless 
followed his prevailing taste in devoting himself to the diligent pur- 
suit of chemical investigations. He attained a high character for 
knowledge and skill, but was not fortunate in the results of his in- 
quiries. Among the writings of more eminent men, and among the 
records of their discoveries or speculations, his name is commonly 
found, and his authority quoted, as a careful and accurate observer. 
He had the honour to be president of the Royal Irish Academy. 

He was also diligent, and not unsuccessful in the collection of old 
Irish music, for which he had a strong taste 

He died in Dublin, in 1812. 

BORN A. D. 1774. DIED A. D. 1814. 

MRS TIGHE was born in Dublin, 1774. She was the daughter of the 
Rev. W. Blachford. Her mother was a Miss Tighe of Rosanna, in 
the county of Wicklow. She married her cousin, Mr Henry Tighe, 
of the same place. She was remarkable for the refinement and deli- 
cacy of her taste and sentiments. Her frame and physical constitu- 
tion were, unhappily, as delicate as her mind, and her health began 
early to give way "to steal before the steps of time." Family be- 
reavements and afflictions contributed to hasten a premature decline, 
and she died, deeply regretted, in 1814, after a long and distressing 
interval of extreme debility. 

Her principal poem is generally known. The sweet, and often 
pathetic, composition of " Psyche," shows a mind of exceeding refine- 
ment and elegance, though in some degree too languid to excite much 
interest or convey permanent impressions. But it cannot be read 
without awakening a sense of tenderness and respect for the feel- 
ing and lovely authoress. Mr Moore has commemorated her in one 


of his Irish Melodies " I saw that form" in which, if we are to place 
any faith in the language of poetry, he gives a pathetic testimony to 
her powers of pleasing, and the charm of her manners and conversa- 

" Though many a gifted mind we meet, 

Though fairesc forms we see, 
To dwell with them were far less sweet 
Than to remember thee Mary !" 

BORN A.D. 1741. DIED A.D. 1806. 

BAUHY'S father was, according to the best accounts, the commander 
of a trading vessel which coasted the south of Ireland. His childhood 
was early marked by the indications of an intellectual temperament. 
His love of study was carried even to a dangerous extreme. Origin- 
ally designed for his father's calling, he was soon observed to have 
recourse to sketching with chalk, on every accessible surface of the 
ship, the various objects tnat presented themselves along the coast. 
As he grew older, he bega.i to exhibit more impatience of the mono- 
tonous life to which he was destined by his father. And as his pre- 
valent taste and his singular talents became at the same time more 
apparent, his father was urged by many friends to change his purpose, 
and send him to school. 

The history of his early days must be slightly passed; though, could 
we afford sufficient space, the formation of Barry's peculiar character 
would l>e instructive to trace. He made himself unusually remark- 
able by his intractable temper; his powers of conversation; his talents 
for, and love of, disputation; his devotion to reading; and, most of all, 
his enthusiastic study of art. His favourite books were theological, 
and his controversial temper was displayed and nourished by frequent 
disputes with the priests of the Roman Church who frequented his 
mother's house. 

His early attainments in the art of delineation attracted universal 
notice. Without any of the aids by which the most ordinary tyro can 
now be rapidly accomplished in all that can be taught of art, he had, 
in his seventeenth year, acquired an easy, powerful, and expressive 
mastery of the pencil. At this period he began to paint. 

For about five years from the point of time last mentioned, it will 
be unnecessary to trace him. Within that interval, he probably had 
advanced as far as was possible for mere intellectual power, unaided by 
the means usual for the students of so refined and difficult a branch 
of study. 

Of the actual state of art in that period, it is our design to speak 
more at large in our introduction to the next, as we shall thus be 
enabled to offer some approach towards a sketch of the history of this 
particular branch of art. It will be here enough to say, that, consider- 
ing the defectiveness of his means of attainment, and the actually low 
state of art, his progress was surprising. He was not without such 

VOL. vi. P 

226 LITE !i All Y SERIES. [FlFTH 

aid anil encouragement as the praise of the crowd could give ; and he 
also obtained occasional employment from the booksellers. 

It was in 1763, when he had attained the twenty-second year of 
his age, that he came to Dublin with several paintings, of which the 
enumeration here will show the range of his mind. These were, ^Eneas 
escaping with his family from the sack of Troy ; a Dead Christ; Susanna 
and the Elders; Daniel in the Lion's Den; Abraham's Sacrifice; and 
the Baptism of the King of Cashel. This last mentioned alone needs be 
noticed, as it was his actual introduction into life. The story on 
which this painting was designed, is told at length by Keating. 
Patrick was represented leaning on a staff, or crozier, of which the 
lower end, armed with a spike, rested on the monarch's foot. His 
guards were advancing to seize the supposed offender, but were stayed 
by perceiving that their master seemed quite unconscious of the spike 
which was piercing through his flesh. It was a well chosen subject; 
and the time was fortunate for the painter. The society for the en- 
couragement of arts and manufactures in Ireland was just preparing 
for an exhibition of paintings. Barry applied for and obtained a 
place for his picture. It was hung near the two best paintings in the 
room, the productions of artists who had exhausted the means of im- 
provement then to be obtained, and finished their studies in Italy. 
When Barry went to see his picture after it was hung, he was elated 
by perceiving his own decided superiority. The favourable anticipa- 
tion thus raised was confirmed on the opening of the exhibition. He 
wcis excited to a fierce delight by the general impression: the crowd 
pressed eagerly to see the king of Cashel. A murmur of inquiry for 
the artist rose, and Barry could not refrain from crying aloud, " It is 
my picture." " Your picture!" answered a spectator, surprised at the 
rude appearance of the artist, " what do you mean?" " I can paint a 
better," was the reply. But he was not believed, until an acquaint- 
ance came forward to confirm his word. This picture was immedi- 
ately purchased and presented to the House of Commons. It was 
destroyed in the fire by which the parliament-house was a few years 
after consumed. 

Barry's fortune was eventually more promoted by a letter of intro- 
duction, addressed to Burke, from Dr Sleigh, of Cork. Burke was at 
the time in the commencement of his splendid career, and was in 
Dublin as private secretary to \\ illiam Gerard Hamilton, of whom 
the reader mav find some notices in our memoir of Burke. To BurKr. 


Barry's animated and clever conversation and spirited tone of mind 
were favourable recommendations, and a strong friendship began be- 
tween them. The first result must be briefly told. After being 
introduced to the refined and enlightened circle of which Burke was 
the ornament and conspicuous centre, and receiving eight months of 
pleasure and improvement in their society, Barry was advised to try 
his fortune in a fairer field, and set out for London with Richard 
Burke. There, by the active and zealous exertions of Burke he ob- 
tained some employment and much kind notice. 

By the advice of Reynolds, it was determined to send him to Italy. 
Some delay occurred, until Burke, by the improvement of his own 
income, and by the influence vhich he could exert, was enabled to 


obtain the means of a sure provision for the necessary expense. This 
at last occurred; and Barry was sent out to spend five years in the 
improvement of those attainments for which early perseverance and 
nature had done so much. 

In October, 1765, he set out on his way to Paris. There he con- 
tinued ten months, making a more sure advance, and pursuing his 
studies more judiciously than at any subsequent interval. He is to be 
traced with unusual distinctness by his letters to Burke, Reynolds, 
and others. In these his extraordinary powers of observation, thought, 
and expression, are displayed with rich abundance, and from the same 
we are also enabled with certainty and ease to trace the whole pro- 
gress of his character, and to decide on the unhappy peculiarities 
which clouded the entire of his after life, and closed his days in 
misery. For this reason, it is upon this portion of his history that 
we consider it worth while to expand our narration something more 
than we have done, or shall continue to do after his return. 

In Paris he applied himself with diligence, and, among other 
studies, he constantly attended to the practice from living models in 
the Hospital of St Luke. The independent, but in no slight degree 
wrong-headed, turn of his mind, was perhaps shown in the strong con- 
tempt for academies which he expressed at this time in some of his 
very curious and interesting letters to Burke. His objections are (as 
indeed mostly happens in such cases) partly founded in truth, but 
proceed upon narrow and incomplete views. We shall discuss them 
further on, when the subject will present stronger claims upon our 
notice. Writing of them at this period, Barry says, " We have two 
of them here, the academy of St Luke and the royal academy; there 
are such mobs of blackguards go every night to acquire a trade 
there, as is enough to shock any one who has the least regard for the 
art. People send their children to make them painters and statuaries, 
without learning, genius, or indeed anything else, only because it is 
less expensive than making them perukiers or shoemakers." We quote 
this sentence, because we think it indicates in a slight degree tenden- 
cies which become more fully developed as we proceed. The strong 
repugnance to be classed among the crowd the dislike to beaten 
paths (merely as such) and a tendency to opposition arising from a 
combative cast of temper, were dispositions not at any time wholly dor- 
mant in the character of Barry, but soon to gain from circumstances 
a peculiar and dangerous prominence. It must be the main object of 
this memoir to bring these facts into a strong and clear light, because 
whatever may be Barry's independent claim, his name has been ren- 
dered extremely prominent in the history of art, by the zeal with which 
two opposite parties have taken it up as an object of contention. The 
consequence is, that his life, conduct, opinions and genius, have been 
deeply involved in such misrepresentations as party conflicts ever pro- 

His strictures on the state of art in France are judicious, original, 
and curious. The brilliant monotony which was the result of an 
entire want of character, remarkable alike in their paintings and 
social state, are traced by him to the latter. " Character," he says, 
'' in the different classes of men, is very little attended to by the 


French artists, either painters or sculptors (though I think the last 
very superior to the former), and indeed it is not to be wondered at, 
since, even in life, it is entirely lost here; politeness, and an artificial 
carriage, is too general amongst them; and, laying the garb aside, it 
is only in dialect, or other refinements of expression or thought, they 
differ; while everything in the gesticulation and all other externals 
that are characteristic in art are visibly the same." With great just- 
ness of thought, and the happiest force of language, he again pursues 
the same topic, and shows the faults of the French school to be mainly 
results of too much attention to mere ornament, and remarks the 
analogous effects in poetry and oratory. 

He left Paris in the autumn of 1766, for Italy. On his way he 
wrote letters to Mr Burke, which yet remain, and manifest extraordi- 
nary powers of observing and describing: his description of the 
scenery of the valleys of Burgundy, of the passage over mount Cenis, 
and the mountain regions beyond, are worthy of a master of the lyre 
or pencil. The merit of these letters is strongly attested by the ad- 
miration of Reynolds. 

Rightly to understand the modifications which his character next 
underwent, the reader must have before him some distinct ideas of the 
scene of his studies after reaching Rome. This ancient city pos- 
sessed a traditionary grandeur: its claim to the pre-eminence in art 
and the ideas which belong to art was founded in time immemorial: 
it possessed the remains of the great masters; its walls had been 
animated by the touch of their genius, and the echo of their feet 
might yet be conceived to linger among the venerable ruins of a more 
ancient and noble antiquity. Here the students of art made their 
pilgrimage from every other land, and it was the universal school of 
the conoscenti and the artists. But from many causes, which we shall 
not here investigate, the genius of Italian art had itself sustained a 
long decay. The demand for works of art had ceased, and it had 
become the taste and privilege of the Italians to teach, to criticise, and 
to talk: possessing unbounded treasures of great works not to be 
rivalled, much less surpassed, they seemed to repose on the fame of 
the past, and to despair of further attainment. This decrepitude of the 
genius of Rome had mainly arisen from a general languor of all the 
processes of the social state: debarred from all those public objects 
which rouse into action the more powerful energies of man, the upper 
classes were abandoned to trifles, and the contests of vertu were in- 
vested w T ith an importance which was unknown elsewhere. The pub- 
lic places, the studies, and every resort of art, taste, or learning, echoed 
loudly with the fluent charlatenerie of all sorts of pretenders. To 
give additional zest and spirit to such scenes, a trade was carried on 
in spurious pictures; and, as in the great conflicts of political party, 
principles were adopted and upheld which favoured the traffic of the 

Such a state of things was adapted to call forth together, the power 
and the infirmity of Barry. 

There were peculiarities in the mind of Barry which were so radi- 
cally connected with his entire history, and so essential to the just 
decision of some controverted points, that we are compelled to some- 


thing more than our wonted minuteness in the statements concerning 
this portion of his life. In him an extraordinary acuteness of percep- 
tion was, as sometimes happens, combined with a morbid temperament, 
in no small degree disposed to hypochondria. When such is the case, 
it is very well known that this latter tendency has the effect of addi- 
tionally quickening, while it, in some respects, misleads the observa- 
tion. The hypochondriac, when far advanced in this disordered state, 
while he exercises a singular promptness, penetration, and decision, 
on indifferent matters, is mostly disposed to entertain false impres- 
sions respecting those concerns immediately relating to his more pro- 
minent interests or affections, and to be haunted by those diseased 
suspicions winch are observable in the most common cases of mania: 
a state to which they lead, and perhaps in all cases might be con- 
sidered to belong. These considerations are, with regard to Barry, 
of serious importance. From not observing the distinction which they 
tend to clear, one class of his critics and biographers have fallen into 
the error of imputing to him moral vices, which were the result of a 
sad infirmity, the fearful affliction of his life: and this disorder was 
partly concealed by the justness, sagacity, and profound originality of his 
writings. Such has been, for instance, the error of Mr Knight, whose 
notices of this able but unfortunate man are discoloured by a tone of 
vituperation amounting to malignity. While, on the other hand, his 
enthusiastic followers and admirers have fallen into a style of pane- 
gyric which has imposed on them the necessity of either omitting to 
allow for, or misrepresenting the failings of his character. Hence we 
have to steer between hostile delineations of Barry on one side, and, on 
the other, imputations equally fallacious against his assailants, and to ex- 
plain the case by keeping in view the leading principle of exposition. 

Before Barry was long in Rome, the picture trade, of which it was 
the great emporium, roused his irritable spleen. It excited his live- 
liest indignation to see the frauds which degraded the art he loved. 


His ambition, his love of excellence, and his honesty, were offended 
by the spurious principles of art, according to which a false and cor- 
rupt style was upheld for the purpose of maintaining a fraudulent 
traffic. He saw nature and the laws of effect excluded, to secure 
currency for the imitation of pictures which Time had more than half 
obliterated. And being by nature of a controversial temper, ardently 
alive to the honour as well as the theory of his art, and not much 
experienced in the ways of life, he proclaimed his opinions without 
reserve. So far he was only to be censured on the ground of pru- 
dence. His deportment and language, honourable to his taste and 
integrity, were eminently indiscreet. A little knowledge of the world 
would have shown him that the corruptions of human nature are not 
to be corrected by exposure or railing; that parties intrench their 
wrongful motives in contempt and recrimination a contest of which 
the victory is ever to the strongest. Barry's notions were treated as 
novel heresies, and those who would have failed to answer him, se- 
curely launched the unanswerable sneer from the ambush of old pre- 
judices. Exposed to this method of opposition, it will be easily appre- 
hended how the morbid excitement to which he was liable would be 
ere long called into action. Often foiled by a sophism, often repelled 


by the smile of affected superiority, or silenced by the frigid counte- 
nance of assumed indifference, he retired brooding over the repulse; 
and, in his solitary moments, reacted the contest and accumulated new 
bitterness and a sense of wrong. When such a captious mood became 
habitual, he soon became jealous of words and looks; and not unna- 
turally began to imagine that his opponents, deeply interested as they 
must be, were enemies. Not obtaining the facile acquiescence of 
flattery from those to whom his sincerity was sometimes offensive, he 
conceived himself to have become the marked object of hatred, and 
thus presently became retiring, gloomy, and resentful. Such a change, 
and the manners which it is apt to produce, were of course likely to 
cause appearances which would seem to confirm this delusion. Hav- 
ing become morose and repulsive, he was avoided; and the general re- 
serve of others appeared to verify the suspicion that he was the object 
of a conspiracy. This was the result to which both his own temper, 
and the conduct he had pursued, inevitably tended; and while under 
its influence, he bore himself with increasing rudeness to his imagined 
enemies, and resented that diminution of courtesy on their part which 
was its excusable consequence. This, we may observe, is the most 
important fact of Barry's life, which we are desirous to impress fully, 
as offering the best illustration of much that seems to have been mis- 
represented in the subsequent intervals of his life. Much, we are 
thoroughly satisfied, has been unjustly construed to the prejudice 
of others, which was the result of Barry's own infirmities, themselves 
the effect of a partial derangement, which at this period began first to 
be developed. Before we here part with the subject, we may confirm 
our statement by the prediction of Mr Burke, contained in one of his 
letters to Barry, and afterwards accurately fulfilled: " Depend upon 
it, that you will find the same competitions, the same jealousies, the 
same arts and cabals, the same emulations of interest and of fame, and 
the same agitations and passions here that you have experienced in 
Italy. And if it have the same effects on your temper, it will have 
the same effects on your interest; and, be your merit what it will, you 
will never be employed to paint a picture. It will be the same in 
London as at Rome; and the same in Paris as in London; for the 
world is pretty nearly alike in ail its parts," &c. We pass much of 
unequalled good sense, shown in the most sound counsel, to extract the 
part of the same admirable letter which is to our purpose: " You 
will come here; you will observe what the artists are doing, and you 
will sometimes speak your disapprobation in plain words, and some- 
times in a no less expressive silence. By degrees, you will produce some 
of your own works; they will be variously criticised; you will defend 
them; you will abuse those who have attacked you; expostulations, dis- 
cussions, letters, possibly challenges, will go forward; you will shun your 
brethren; they will shun you. In the meantime, gentlemen will avoid 
your friendship, for fear of being engaged in your quarrels: you will fall 
into distresses, which will only aggravate your disposition for further 
quarrels. You will be obliged for your maintenance to do anything 
for anybody; your very talents will depart, for want of hope and en- 
couragement, and you will go out of the world fretted, disappointed, 
and ruined." Were such our object, these very striking sentences 


might be brought forward as an instance of the extent to which saga- 
cious observation and sound reasoning may go in anticipating a class 
of consequences, which are supposed not untruly to be the most diffi- 
cult to human reason. They were indeed fulfilled with the minutest 
precision. But our present object is the confirmation they offer to 
the views by which we must explain the subsequent history of Barry; 
and as this precision goes far to establish the correctness of assump- 
tions and inferences which can be so verified, we shall further on 
arrive at the application. 

We must now proceed to the studies of Barry, they were no less 

As might be anticipated, Barry was far more studious of the theory 
than the practice of his art. His active understanding and rapid con- 
ception were more ready than the slow and toilsome labour of the 
hand. To men constituted with high intellectual power, it is perhaps 
in all cases easier to think than work; to entertain questions than to 
follow out the cautious and minute steps of other hands or minds. 
The aspiring ambition of Barry, and his impatience of the pretension 
of inferior minds, gave him a repugnance to the tedious mechanism, 
which, though it be the first essential step to perfection, must level 
for a while the gifted and the vulgar. He had already acquired a 
considerable facility of hand, and he probably fell into a very natural, 
and we believe not uncommon error that of confounding the concep- 
tion of the fancy with the execution of the pencil. While he stood ab- 
stracted and absorbed among the great master-pieces of Italian genius, 
and dreamed ideal grace of form, or analyzed composition and colour- 
ing, he forbore to disturb his own anticipations of rival excellence by 
subsiding into the anxious walk of manual effort. 

Such were not precisely the best studies for the formation of a 
finished artist; but, at the same time, they were admirably adapted 
for the accomplishment of the great artistic critic and teacher. If 
they did not conduce to his fortune, or eventually to his happiness, art 
is indebted to them for much that is admirable in its theory. We are 
at present concerned with the former. 

His irritable impatience, and his strong propensity to frame opin- 
ions and rush upon conclusions, were probably combined with his im- 
patience of slow drudgery which he conceived could lead to no 
profitable result to influence the course of study which he followed, 
Instead of toiling to acquire a practical acquaintance with the re- 
sources of colouring and the refinements of expression, he set out 
with the study of effects and proportions by mere observation. In 
point of fact he looked rather in the spirit of the poet and philosophi- 
cal critic, than the artist. Considering his hand sufficiently trained, 
and ignorant of the unlimited nature of that progress which is the 
result of habit, he was led into the error of imagining that whatever 
he could seize with his understanding, he could, when he might please, 
execute with his pencil. W'ith this conviction he abandoned himself 
to the delights of contemplation and criticism. The great works of the 
Vatican and the Capuella Sestina were to him as books ; and, if he was 
led to make any occasional effort of a kind more strictly professional, 
it was merely to obtain delineations by means of a machine, which, 


without any exertion of skill, gave outlines and proportions. With 
his actual skill, it must be admitted that this method might be suffi- 
cient, so far as these elements of skill were concerned. But it must 
necessarily have left much unlearned, that nothing but the utmost 
labour and practice could impart. Having also adopted a preposses- 
sion for that enlarged style of art which had, owing to some obvious 
causes, become unsuited to the wants of the age, he neglected the 
style in which all the prospects of art then lay involved.* It may, at 
the same time, be easily seen how favourable was the course thus pur- 
sued, not only for the critic, but also for the exercise of the inventive 
powers. He thus acquired an extensive command of outline, group- 
ing, and composition, and a facility in the conception of effects, such 
as no power of mere manual skill could ever reach. Sketching was 
also frequently resorted to a useful practice, yet, for reasons which 
we cannot here state with intelligible fulness, to be used with the 
utmost caution. 

On the course of his studies we meet much admirable and instruc- 
tive commentary in the letters which he received from Mr Burke. 
The strong and urgent remonstrances of this good and wise friend 
had also the effect of dispelling, for a season, the black humours which 
had begun prematurely to settle upon his temper and embitter his life. 
For a while he forcibly repressed the ebullitions of spleen and dog- 
matism, and entered into a more frank and kindly intercourse with 
his brethren of the studio. The effect was a corresponding change in 
their manners towards him, and he admitted his error and acknow- 
ledged that he found courtesy, candour, and even kindness from those 
whom savage manners and the unrepressed license of opposition had 

Among the most valuable remains of Barry, are the notices of art 
which at this time form the main substance of his letters. These we 
are compelled reluctantly to omit. In many of them the criticism of 
art seems to us to be carried to a very high point of excellence. 

In April, 1770, he left Rome. His progress homeward was retarded 
for a considerable time in Boulogne by an accident which delayed 
his remittances, and was productive of much distress and mortification. 
When this untoward affair was set right, he was further delayed by 
obtaining his election as an honorary member of the Clementine 
academy as the usual custom, on such occasions, required the pre- 
sentation of a painting, he of course remained to discharge this obli- 
gation. He chose the subject of Philoctetes in the Isle of Lemnos, 
following the Greek epigram on an ancient picture upon the same sub- 
ject, with the help of the drama of Sophocles. 

The morning of British art was already far advanced, when Barry 
arrived a second time in London, to accomplish, as he might, the 
favourable expectations of his friends. He had been ushered into 
notice with a perilous splendour, under the star of Burke. He was 

* Much of the explanation here offered is more largely, and therefore more 
clearly stated, in a memoir of Barry, in the Dublin University Magazine, Xos. 
117 and 118, in 1842, from which this memoir has been drawn up and several 
passages taken. No marks of acknowledgment have been thought necessary, as 
both memoirs have been written by the same author. 


aware that the hour of preparation was past, and that he must at 
length redeem the promise of admitted genius and costly outlay, by 
some proportional result. 

He painted two pictures: one was Venus rising from the waves; 
the other Jupiter and Juno. According to the accounts of these, the 
first obtained general praise, and was considered equal to the preten- 
sions of the artist. The second was more coldly received. Of the 
opinions which we have met in the writers on Barry, we are inclined 
to think the praise too indiscriminate and full of zeal to have much 
weight, while, on the other hand, the censure is impaired by too evi- 
dent a tinge of malignity. Forming an estimate from both, we are 
inclined to judge favourably of these compositions as to conception, 
composition, correct design, and poetical effect, and unfavourably as 
to the colouring. The painting of Venus rising from the sea was 
probably the more successful, inasmuch as it did not very much put to 
the test his skill as a colourist, and we may add that such an estimate 
is conformable with the style of study which we have described. 

The success of one so largely and variously endowed as Barry cannot 
be supposed to have for a moment rested upon the fortune of any 
single effort or season; nor can it reasonably be doubted that his talent, 
enthusiasm, and industry, if rightly directed, .were sufficient to place 
him high among the great masters of every age and nation; even 
though it may be allowed that it is a nice and delicate question to 
settle what, under actual circumstances, he did attain. He had in his 
favour the prepossession of the highest minds of the time. It was 
also in some degree favourable to his success, that Reynolds advocated 
the theory of which Barry was the devotee; if, indeed, it may not be 
more just to say, that it was an unfortunate circumstance which gave 
so high a sanction to the error of which he was eventually the martyr. 
His powers of conversation, and, above all, in the expositions of art- 
istic theory, must have added much to his reputation ; and the 
more, as these gifts were set in the fairest light by the circle of his 
friends and patrons. It was also fortunate for Barry that the state of 
art was yet in the commencement of a period there was the charm 
of novelty and of a fresh and vigorous impulse, while there was not the 
exacting fastidiousness of a long-disciplined taste. 

But, on the other hand, there were many, and these not slight ob- 
stacles, some from circumstances, and some in himself. Though Rey- 
nolds concurred with him in the advocacy of a style, his practice was 
precisely opposed to his doctrines. This opposition has been consi- 
dered insincere; but this is a point which we would hesitate to main- 
tain. The sagacity of Reynolds at once put him in full possession of 
the truth, that the grand style which he praised, was not that which 
could lead to wealth. It was no part of his ambition to paint for 
Fame, who but too often presides with empty purse over the loftier 
aspirations of genius. He knew that there was no place or scope for 
pictures twenty feet by twelve; and that there did not yet exist the 
taste which might afford to reimburse the expenses of their produc- 
tion; it was no part of his ambition to sustain his dogmas by presenta- 
tions to public societies of the best results of his life and industry. 
In addition to the adoption of an unprofitable line of art, Barry had, 


in common with the artists of his day, to contend with a false taste, 
which had long been contracted in the actual commerce of art. Of 
this we shall say a little, farther on. But, as will be seen in the whole 
course of this memoir, the great obstacles to his success arose out of 
the unhappy tendencies of his own mind. 

Before we further proceed to trace the events of his history, it 
will be necessary to give some account of the institutions with which 
they are essentially combined. 

The Society of Arts, Commerce, and Manufactures, was the natural 
result from the rapid prosperity of English trade. It was founded in 
1750, and had the merit of first establishing a school of drawing in 
the kingdom. Its patronage was gradually extended, and it began to 
offer premiums for sculpture and paintings. Such facts are mostly 
themselves the result of some tendency in the time; and, consequently, 
may be regarded as the indications, as well as causes, of something to 
follow. The impulse thus given may be supposed to have had its effect; 
but the artists soon began to feel its insufficiency. They began to 
hold meetings for the establishment of an academy. Several years 
elapsed while they exerted themselves with most commendable zeal and 
perseverance to promote instruction in the several departments of art. 
Besides the resources of private instruction, they made a gratuitous 
offer to decorate the walls of the Foundling Hospital. By such efforts, 
the public attention, already prepared for the impulse, was fully ex- 
cited. The artists perceived their time: they petitioned the Society 
of Arts for the use of its chambers, for the purpose of an exhibition. 
The society acceded, and with a liberality which attests their disin- 
terested zeal, the artists admitted the public to a gratuitous exhibition 
in 1760. Some dispute arose between the society and the artists, 
of whom the principal in the next year opened their exhibition in 
Spring Gardens. The second exhibition was, like the first, gratui- 
tous. But as this could not long be sustained, the moderate price of 
one shilling was in the following year adopted. Besides the artists, 
the leading literary men of the day took an efficient part, by the 
strong advocacy of the press. A charter was the next step; the king 
was petitioned, and they were incorporated in 1765. There were, 
however, in this first incorporation, defects which were fatal to a pro- 
longed existence; and the result was a secession, a new charter, and 
finally, the institution of the Royal Academy, which held its first 
meeting in December, 1768, when Reynolds, whom they elected as 
their president, delivered his inaugural address. 

With this great institution, an era in the history of art, is connected 
the most important portion of poor Barry's history. It is at once 
apparent how, with his vast abilities and his able and powerful friends, 
it ought to have been the means of advancing both his fortune and 

But it was replete with low and inflammable elements, which are 
inseparable from every public body of a popular structure; and from 
which, perhaps, the most rigid principles of election are not too much 
to guard the most refined corporate institutions to the full extent 
that might be desirable; and when contention, intrigue, or malversa- 
tion, of whatever nature, could find a place, the keen discrimination, 


the prompt suspicion, and the fierce spleen of Barry, were sure to 
entangle him in the fierce animosities which they must generate. 
Such is actually the main principle with which we must be forced to 
deal. On this subject fierce controversy has been raised by critics 
and biographers, which it must be our duty to enter fully. 

At the time of Barry's return, the Academy had been three years 
in existence ; and his first two pictures appeared with much effect on 
its walls. Of the Venus we have spoken: the other was also admir- 
able in conception. In this he followed the poetry of Homer, and 
the tradition of a picture on the same subject by Phidias, the greatest 
poet and the greatest sculptor of antiquity. The subject acquired 
an additional interest from the tradition that the sculptor's work had 
been an attempt to imbody the idea of the bard. 

*!1 KU,l XUXViyfflV l-TT 0U/TI VeVffl K.OOVIUV 

The conception was at least worthy of a great and adventurous 
genius, but was assuredly such as to task to the uttermost powers of 
the highest order. His next attempt, in the succeeding year, was less 

A few years passed, of which it will not be necessary to relate the 
incidents, further than they may in some instances have been obtruded 
on public attention by the acrimony of party. Among these, the 
most important is the charge of ingratitude towards Mr Burke. This 
charge has been urged with exceeding severity; but its real import- 
ance is derived from its being made use of as an instance to give 
force to other similar charges, and to put a foul and malignant con- 
struction upon his entire history. The facts are as follow: Doctor 
Brocklesby wished to obtain a portrait of Mr Burke, and desired to 
have it from the hand of Barry. Mr Burke's pressing avocations 
caused an irregularity in his attendance. Barry, whose mind had be- 
come extremely sore on the point of his own respectability, and who 
was specially hurt at supposed slights from Mr Burke, evidently set the 
irregularity down to contempt. He was, under this false impression, 
not unnaturally impelled to assert his wounded self-importance, as well 
as the honour of his profession, by disappointing Mr Burke whenever 
he found time to call, and putting him off under different pretences. 
This continued for nearly two years, after which Mr Burke began to 
feel his feelings of friendship wounded by treatment which must have 
seemed unkind, and also became sensible that his repeated and abortive 
calls for such a purpose might be interpreted into motives of vanity. 
Under such impressions, he wrote a letter to Barry, of an explanatory 
and apologetic nature. But Barry could only look on the matter 
through the medium of his own impression, and considered this letter 
as a severe and cutting irony. He replied by complaining of it as an 
attack upon his peace of mind, and by vindicating the rights of his 
profession. Mr Burke explained; the quarrel was ended; the por- 
trait finished; and the friendship continued unbroken. This state- 
ment may be allowed to be unfavourable to Barry, inasmuch as it 
displays the workings of false pride and of a diseased irritability. 
But from these imputations we do not mean, and it would be vain, to 


defend him. The far deeper charge of an entire disregard to the 
claims of gratitude and friendship a charge which amounts to utter 
baseness has been urged; now, the first-mentioned charges (if they 
deserve the name) contain the full and sufficient answer to the second, 
and are therefore rather in Barry's favour than against him. Though 
it would be impossible to vindicate a thorough insensibility to the claims 
of friendship and gratitude, it is too well understood to need explana- 
tion, that these sentiments, when really entertained, are such as to make 
any slight be more keenly felt; and that where there is, as in the in- 
stance of Barry, a deep taint of morbid sensitiveness, such slights are 
very usually imagined. It matters nothing to the question that such 
impressions are mere illusion they are the illusion of disease the 
object of pity, not of blame. Now, while it appears abundantly that 
such was Barry's disease, there is special ground for assuming its 
operation in the case before us. With the deepest veneration and 
strongest affection for Mr Burke, and the most anxious jealousy con- 
cerning his regard, Barry had already suffered his mind to become 
warped into the very course of rivalship and party animosity already 
explained arid predicted by Mr Burke himself. He had begun to 
feel and to resent the real and the fancied errors and abuses of art, 
and the false directions of public taste. With these unfortunate dis* 
positions, he saw with pain, that the entire leaning of Mr Burke's 
mind was with those whom he set down as his enemies, because they 
were not bis adherents; all that was to be anticipated from the ten- 
dencies of his mind was already taking place, and to-be felt in his 
manner and conversation long before it decided his conduct. He was, 
at the same time, more advanced in his claims to consideration, and 
less within the constraint of advice and influence. He very naturally 
rated his own genius, skill, and theory of art, on the highest level; 
and deeply resented the preference which he considered as grounded 
in the rejection of those claims and those opinions. For these he was 
zealous even to martyrdom, and we therefore think that his resent- 
ment is to be held quite exempt from every imputation but those of 
an excusable jealousy and an unhappy disease. To those who may 
think that too much stress is here laid on the incident, we must 
observe that it has a special claim to our consideration; as it has, 
even by Barry's admirers, been unthinkingly given up as a case 
of discreditable ingratitude. If Barry's offence deserves so revolting 
an appellation, we think it, at least, something to prove that it did 
not originate in the ordinary source, or involve the base heartless- 
ness which makes ingratitude a hateful vice. The mind that, like 
Barry's, becomes isolated by so many causes disease, error, pride, 
the enthusiasm of theory must be viewed as an exception from the 
common rules of social opinion. Those who can conceive the true 
position of one who exists in the elevation of his own conceptions, 
and who must measure himself and others by a peculiar scale, will feel 
at once the force with which he was likely to resent the decided pre- 
ference of Mr Burke for Reynolds. 

Barry's life was a dream of the full restoration of the splendours 
of ancient art : his spirit communed from afar with Raphael and 
Michael Angelo and in the actual impulse of his day, he saw a dawn 


of glory in the approaching- restoration of the great style. In principle 
(at least) he was not alone ; but he differed from his brethren in dis- 
interestedness. He admitted no prudential reserves, or saw no im- 
possibilities. For a moment, too, there appeared a promise of success 
sufficient to impose on the credulity of hope. There still lingered, among 
the cognoscenti, some remains of the old impression, that one of the main 
objects of art was the illustration of Scripture and the decoration of 
churches. In their zeal, the artists proposed to embellish St Paul's 
Cathedral. The Dean and Chapter consented before they had taken 
time to deliberate: and the leading artists of the day, with a most laud- 
able alacrity, prepared to enter on the undertaking. Barry had been 
himself the mover of the project he was now chosen by the Academy 
with Reynolds, West, and four other artists of the first eminence, to 
carry it into execution. Barry's picture was to have been Christ 
rejected; but it must be looked on as a matter of course, that such a 
scheme could not exist many days without interruption, as one wholly 
alien from the spirit of the Church of England. The Bishops of 
London and Canterbury interfered, and thus defeated a design which 
may have been favourable to art, but which was certainly not so to 
Christianity. Barry, whose zeal for art had gained the exclusive 
possession of his understanding, fiercely resented the supposed wrong. 
But the question was thus introduced, and the project became a 
subject of curious and eager discussion. The Society of Arts seems 
to have seized on the occasion to find a vent for the liberality of the 
Academy. But the artists, too, had their second thoughts, their 
prudence had time to interfere, and when the society offered them 
permission to decorate its ample walls, at their own cost, they declined 
an offer of such equivocal liberality. Barry was again incensed, his 
indignation drove him to his pen, and he wrote an essay inquiring into 
" The Real and Imaginary Obstructions to the Progress of Art in 
England." Of this able essay it is fit to give a more full account, as 
the topic is one of much interest, and its discussion of the proposed 
subject creditable to the ability of its gifted author. 

The argument of this able work had been, it is probable, long 
ripening in his mind; and was first suggested at Rome by the taunts 
of foreigners, who had adopted the theories of Montesquieu,- Winkle- 
man, and Du Bos, all of whom had affirmed the inaptitude for art of 
the British genius. The manner and the matter of Barry's reply 
are alike valuable. To refute this absurd and presumptuous assertion, 
he went largely into the history of ancient art, by which he was 
enabled to expose the argument on which these writers mainly 
depended. From the various characteristics of the several schools 
of art, they plausibly inferred the existence in each of some modifying 
cause peculiar to the climate or the people, which determined, in each, 
the prevailing characteristic. It is easy to see how such a principle 
could be applied against a nation where the progress of art had been 
inert and dull, and it is not hard to perceive that such a theory 
offered no slight difficulties to an opponent: for the real originating 
causes of style (whatever they may be), are so far complex, incidental, 
and transient in their nature, as to have no distinct indications by 
which they can be traced with facility. Thus when they had alleged 


the fine colouring and faulty design of the Venetian; the faulty col- 
ouring and rigid delineation of the Florentine ; the grace and elevation 
of the Romans; the clumsiness of the Flemish; the poverty and vul- 
o-arity of the Dutch; it was by no means easy to escape the conclusion 
of the theorists. The differences are not only distinct and well 
marked, but, in fact, have in some of the cases a considerable adapta- 
tion of the very kind contended for. But Barry's acuteness and in- 
dustry were not baffled by such a difficulty ; by a close inquiry, he ascer- 
tained so much of the original causes of these differences, as to make 
it quite plain that they were in their nature mainly incidental as he 
succeeded in distinctly tracing them, in numerous cases, to the imita- 
tion of individuals who had been the masters or disciples of other 
schools and the natives of other countries. For example, he traces 
the Venetian Giorgione to the following of Leonardo the Florentine. 
It is indeed, when once suggested, evident enough how the peculiarities 
of one gifted individual will become transfused as the characteristics 
of a school: so that any theory exclusive of this plain fact, must fall to 
the ground. We cannot avoid, however, adding that the refutation of 
the argument does not necessarily decide upon the question. We must 
also confess, that had not the actual progress of art decided the fact, 
we should feel much difficulty to remain. We cannot but feel that 
comparing the Dutch, the Italian, and the French schools of art, there 
are in them differences plainly and undeniably characteristic of the 
nation, and strictly conformable to its moral and intellectual tendencies 
as otherwise shewn. But the fault of Winkleman and his colleagues 
is, that they have first proved their position from fallacious instances, 
and then made too much of it even if it were granted. It is not very 
difficult, were we engaged in a full inquiry, to distinguish between the 
peculiarities derived from the individual and those derived from the 
race or climate. It is easy to see that certain modifications of temper 
and mind are prevalent in certain families, races, and countries; that 
also they have severally their local habitudes of mind arising from the 
scenery, history, and religion of a place. But when all may be exhausted 
that learning or ingenuity can suggest, there are strong facts which should 
entirely have arrested the sweeping restrictions of the theory. We might 
"rant that a nation may exist of which the constitution is unfavourable 
to art: we can admit the fancy of Beotian dulness. But there was no 
time when the principle could have fairly applied to England. Eng- 
land might be without a school of art. But the country of Chaucer, 
Spenser, Shakspeare, Jonson, Milton, and their fellows an unparalleled 
display of all the higher faculties of the mind, could not, without an 
absurdity not easily exceeded, be supposed by any defect of any kind, 
unless the actual want of hands and eyes, unfavourable to art. The 
direct contrary could indeed have been more easily inferred. The 
same causes which have multiplied poets and schools of poetry so 
marked and diversified, must have similarly operated with regard to 
painting: and such has been the actual effect. The same free institu- 
tions which have allowed the human tendencies and faculties to ex- 
pand unconstrained in every direction, were actually the means of 
breaking down the prejudice and mannerism which had so long 
arrested the progress of art. England may have wanted Italian skies 


and Alpine heights, or the antique splendours and graces of temple arid 
palestra: but the towering, pervading, and apprehensive imagination; 
the ready and grasping intelligence; the untrammelled appropriation 
and application that spurns aside prejudices and advances with a free 
and decided footstep to real results, belong to England only. The 
reasonings which had then imposed on the age, were not indeed very 
difficult to deal with but to the crowd, any notion which seems to 
explain an existing state of things, always bears conviction. The 
sagacity of Barry penetrated the dull theory which time has since 
scattered into oblivion. 

Among the important topics which Barry was led to discuss, there 
was none more important than the corruption of taste, which had 
been the result of the long continued frauds of the picture dealers and 
the large importations of the rubbish of foreign imitation. As time 
had impaired the colouring, while it increased the price of these pre- 
cious and venerable remains, a taste was formed which had their defects 
for its groundwork; and vicious or defective habits of the eye were 
necessarily to be satisfied by the painter. The artist followed the 
imitations of taste, and in successive generations departed more and 
more from nature. Thus art had been for some time under a course 
of gradual decline from its proper type, and had acquired a character 
essentially at variance with its primary intent; a well browned and 
blackened piece of wood, framed in tarnished gold, could, by the force 
of association, possess a charm beyond the most costly furniture. The 
new and brilliant style, then in its birth, though vitiated by this crazed 
corruption of taste, was, nevertheless, little in accordance with it; it 
was a new heresy springing in the hotbed of an old superstition, and 
was the more likely to be ill received, because it tended to depreciate 
many a costly collection. A false system of art helped to maintain 
the price of many a spurious gem, as well as of many a decayed 
masterpiece, which age had reduced to the shadow of a shade. Con- 
sidering this, there was much boldness in the denunciation which 
invaded the repose of collections of ancient art, and stripped them of 
many of their boasted ornaments. Barry's essay was received with 
interest in the literary circle; and would have been of less qualified 
advantage to his professional prospects but for the fanaticism which 
animated him against all whom he looked upon as opponents, and led 
him to intersperse the latter part of his book with sarcastic hits, 
which, as he explained in his letter to Mr Burke, " alluded to certain 
matters agitated among artists, and were satires upon some of them." 
On this Mr Burke commented with the frankness and dignity insepar- 
able from his character. " With regard to the justice or injustice of 
these strictures (of which there are several in the latter part of the 
book) Mr Burke can form no opinion. As he has little or no know- 
ledge of the art, he can be no judge of the emulations and disputes 
among its professors; these parts may, therefore, for aught he knows, 
be very grateful and possibly useful to the several parties which sub- 
sist (if any subsist) among themselves, but he apprehends they will 
not be equally pleasing to the world at large, which rather desires to 
be pleased with their works, than troubled with their intentions. 
Whatever merit there may be in these reflections, the style of '.hat 


part which most abounds with them is by no means so lively, elegant, 
clear, or liberal as the rest." We should balance this stricture with 
the compliment contained in the same letter it is, we have no doubt, 
equally merited and as sincere. He thanks Barry for the early com- 
munication of his " most ingenious performance on painting, from 
several parts of which he has received no small pleasure and instruc- 
tion. There are throughout the whole many fine thoughts and observa- 
tions very well conceived, and very powerfully and elegantly expressed." 
It may be admitted that there is in the tone of this letter something 
more of cold formality than may appear consistent with the terms of a 
long-standing friendship, and this, we have no doubt, has had a share 
in suggesting the assumption that the recent quarrel had not been made 
up other incidents, however, which we cannot now afford to mention, 
offer much stronger grounds for the opposite inference. But it is much 
to the purpose of illustration which w r e have in view to observe, that there 
were, on Mr Burke's part, some very apparent reasons for a change of tone, 
and for the preservation of a certain degree of reserve, without supposing 
any diminution of kindness. Mr Cunningham has, we think, settled 
this point well, and we have only to transcribe his remarks; premising 
that Barry had become the fierce and bitter opponent of Reynolds and 
others with whom Mr Burke was on terms of the strictest intimacy. 
Mr Cunningham observes, " To continue on intimate terms with one 
so fierce of nature, it was necessary to become his partizan; he expected 
those who loved him should share his grief, and resent whatever he 
thought worthy of resentment." Such contests as those implied by Mr 
Cunningham, had not only imbittered the temper of Barry, but created 
much animosity against him. He was now fairly fulfilling the predic- 
tions of Mr Burke, and had thoroughly, and with a sad increase, fallen 
back into the very disease from which the remonstrances of that kind 
and discerning friend had roused him in his Italian sojourn. The 
malady of his temper and constitution had arisen to its height, and he 
w r as no longer accessible to the influence or exhortations of others. 
Self-reliance, and a strict and combative pertinacity, the faults of his 
nature, were confirmed by habit. He had outlived all submission and 
deference" to precedent or authority. Having embraced a system, he 
considered the superior power of reasoning, and the justviews of art with 
which he could enforce it, as establishing the theory itself so unques- 
tionably, that those who disagreed must be his enemies. Like all men 
of the same cast of intellect, he had no respect for time, place, or cir- 
cumstances; and could admit no motive but the pure and simple devo- 
tion of a creed. Without presuming to decide upon the actual merits 
of that creed, we may assert that Barry w r as a fanatic to its power. 
He grew reserved, solitary, and morose, and was entirely wrapt in his 
dreams of triumphs and enmities. That the latter were sadly realized, 
cannot be doubted. Such men must have enemies. A man cannot 
long choose to live on terms of enmity with the world without creating 
the enmity he imagines. And he who keeps apart and ceases to cul- 
tivate the intimacies and friendships, or to regard the moral feeling of 
society, will, sooner than he thinks, be thrown aside from the current 
of existence, and be forgotten and neglected by his acquaintances and 
iriends. Enmity has more lasting recollections, for pride and self- 


regard are in the common crowd more vital than pure benevolence. 
The retreat of Barry, while it sequestered him from the charities of 
life, was not the abode of serenity or content. While he fed a vindic- 
tive spirit with visions of fancied persecution, he was no less alert 
in contriving real mortifications and injuries for supposed adversaries, 
and in making formidable enemies for himself. Of this we shall have 
to offer melancholy illustrations. 

But above all, the magnificent scheme of vindicating his professional 
creed by some vast work of unprecedented and surpassing splendour and 
sublimity, filled and fired the painter's breast, and burned more intensely 
in the desolation he had made for himself: and at last, after sustaining 
repeated disappointments, he adopted a course which amply illustrates 
the intense devotedness of his zeal, and the stern concentration of his 

la the year 1777, he offered to decorate the rooms of the " Society 
for the Improvement of Arts, &c.," gratuitously with paintings. The 
offer was accepted. When this offer was made he possessed no income, 
and his entire means are said to have consisted of the sum of sixteen 
shillings. On this task, the next following seven years of his life were 
employed, with an industry impatient only of rest. As his labour 
supplied no means of subsistence, he was compelled to supply his wants 
by the severest extra labour; the greater part of the night was spent 
in drawing for the printshops. But Barry was characteristically insen- 
sible to privations; he was by nature ascetic, and while his spirit nou- 
rished itself with lofty imaginings, he was, perhaps, quite content with 
the bread and apples, which are said to have been his principal fare 
during most of this interval. It was the happiest portion of his life 
he had at last obtained that fair field, which is the craving desire of 
genius, and was too enthusiastic to doubt of success. 

We may pass this quiet interval, and come at once to the result. 
His undertaking was accomplished in 1783. The pictures were in 
number six, each eleven feet ten inches in height: two were forty-two 
feet in breadth, and the other four fifteen feet two inches. It was 
their object to illustrate the development of the industrial resources 
of society in a series of allegorical representations. He begins with 
the story of Orpheus; in his second picture he represents a harvest 
scene, with a festival of Ceres and Bacchus ; navigation occupies its 
order in the third, which depicts the "Triumph of the Thames;" a 
compliment to the society was paid in the representation of their dis- 
tribution of prizes in the fourth. In the fifth, with a singular want of 
moral keeping, he brings the spectator back to the Elysian fields. 
The society repaid his art by a vote of 250 guineas, which may then 
have been thought not illiberal, but which would now be no adequate 
compensation for a picture of four feet by three, if worth anything. 
Their gold medal was, however, added, and an honorary seat. 

It would be affectation to pretend to a rigid estimate of these 
paintings, which we have not seen. As, however, the estimate in- 
volves the character of Barry as an artist, we shall sum the opinions 
of his chief critics, and state the balance to the best of our judgment. 
They who have praised them the most warmly, rest their praise mainly 


on the qualities of design and composition, the power of conception, 
the wide grasp of knowledge, and the profuse variety of groupings and 
attitudes: the force of the style has also been praised, as well as the 
occasional felicity of expression. The "Victors at Olympia" has been 
allowed merits of the highest order; and some of the figures in the 
" Final Retribution" have been spoken of in terms adequate to any 
praise that art will ever deserve. In all this there is little inconsistent 
with our opinion of the native powers of Barry in fact, these praises 
imply more of natural genius than of attainment. But it cannot be 
denied that such praises are, after all, but splendid generalities, which 
lose much of their value when we consider them as opposed to 
censures which question or deny the merits of artistic skill. On the 
score of colouring, his admirers are silent, or admit his remarkable 
deficiencies. They who, on the other side, are unfavourable in their 
accounts of Barry and it must be allowed they are critics (some of 
them artists), of no mean authority affirm that, with some excep- 
tions, his pictures are as badly drawn as they are allowed to be unskil- 
fully coloured. If something is to be deducted for the animosity of 
tone which indicates the critic to have been biassed by personal re- 
collections similar allowance is to be made for the enthusiasm and 
party-feeling which amplifies his praises. It is to be added, that the 
censures are not directly combated, and are apparently maintained 
with far more skill and knowledge. We are, on the whole, inclined 
to judge that, if the merits of Barry are fairly weighed together, 
they will appear to justify alike the praise and censure, though not 
the tone of spleen on one side, or exaggeration on the other. The 
impressions they have made seem to have depended on the character 
of the observer. Men like Burke and Johnson are easily warmed into 
admiration by an art not their own, as they are more ready to seize 
on the happy conception than to apprehend the presence of a mere 
artistic imperfection; and it ought also to be allowed, that their praises 
must at least be some test of the species of merit of which they were 
the best judges. But the same allowance has its weight in either 
scale : the keen dispraise of Mr Knight cannot be rated at less than 
an indication of those defects, of which he was so eminently a judge. 
The alert and active understanding will seize on very slight hints, 
and find mighty meanings where the author or artist has but poor 
and trifling intents; and a vivacious but shallow astuteness will 
pass over the broad and deep, to seize minute absurdities. All this 
is the common incident of criticism. But with respect to Barry, it 
must riot be forgotten that the drawing and colouring are the main 
elements of his art: if he has really presented the noblest thoughts in 
the worst executed painting, he may be praised as a poet or a philo- 
sopher, but he cannot be exemplified as the model of an artist. All 
this, while we apprehend it must go to condemn those pictures which 
are so strangely praised and censured, cannot touch the true genius of 
Barry. Imperfectly trained in the mechanism of his profession, and 
therefore defective in its manual departments, he had all the powers 
and all the genius essential to its highest walk. He had that which 
no teaching can impart the most elevated and just conceptions of the 


real power and capabilities of his art. But the most profound mas- 
tery of theory is yet far from artistic skill in practice; and he is more 
to be considered as a philosopher than an artist. 

The success of these pictures was, nevertheless, very considerable: 
there was a novelty and a boldness in the attempt ; the British public, 
less conversant with paintings than it has since, perhaps, become, 
was not nice in the perception of critical demerits, and was captivated 
by the rich variety, the symbolical meaning-, the numerous likenesses 
of living persons, and the impression of power and skill stamped 
roughly on the whole. The known reputation of Barry did its part, 
and far inferior drawings would have been admired by a public pre- 
pared to admire. A letter was written by some anonymous hand, con- 
taining much able criticism; it has been very generally assigned to 
Mr Burke. A writer in the Edinburgh Review is of the opposite opin- 
ion, on grounds in which we partly agree. The opinions expressed 
in that letter, do not seem to be those of Mr Burke. The Scottish 
critic objects also on the ground of style. This, as we agree with his 
conclusion, is not worth disputing; but we think that the style of the 
letter, though unlike that of Mr Burke's political writings, is very 
much the same as that of his ascertained private letters. 

We must next pass on to his connexion and disputes with the Royal 
Academy. The relation must lead us to the most dark and melan- 
choly evidences of the truth of the view which we have taken in this 
memoir. In 1?82, he had been elected Professor of Painting to the 
Academy. He was at the time deeply engrossed by his paintings, 
and could not easily command time for the lectures, which it was his 
duty to deliver before the students. He was in consequence repri- 
manded by the president, whom he answered with a degree of asperity 
which plainly shows the progress that had at this time been made 
by the fatal disorder which was the real source of all the sufferings 
and misfortunes which clouded his latter years. It becomes, indeed, 
painfully apparent, that the hypochondriac temperament, which had 
shown itself so detrimentally in his early life, had now assumed the 
entire control of his mind, and gave its character to his whole con- 
duct. The lectures which he subsequently delivered, afforded the 
first occasion for its effective display; they became the vehicle of his 
angry feelings, and thus gave offence to most of his brethren. 

But in addition to this moral source of enmitv, his zeal for the 


theory of art which he maintained, was that of a gloomy fanatic, 
jealous "even to slaying." His enthusiasm had no allowance for those 
considerations which regulate the intercourse of the world; and he 
was not more earnest than vindictive in his inculcation of the supe- 
rior claims of the " great style" of art. He thus omitted nothing 
titlier in his lectures or conversation, that could have the effect of 
causing him to be looked on with not unjustifiable enmity. Against 
the trade part of the profession, he railed and sneered without con- 
straint, and did not spare even Reynolds. He was treated by his 
brother artists with great forbearance ; but it is impossible to avoid 
the admission, that a feeling must have been generated, which must 
sooner or later operate to his prejudice. 

The occasion was not slow to offer. He had proposed in the Aca- 


demy, that their funds should be appropriated to the purchase of Italian 
paintings, for models to illustrate his lectures. The measure was 
highly inexpedient as his own statement shows and the Academy 
refused compliance. The resentment of Barry vented itself with un- 
scrupulous violence and publicity, in charges of a kind which, if not 
hurtful, were certainly offensive and derogatory. This could not be 
endured, or even in prudence suffered to pass. It cannot be allowed 
that any member of a corporate body should be permitted to infringe 
those laws by which every such body exists. In March, 1799> charges 
were brought against the professor of painting, and he was deprived 
of his professorship, and expelled. Of this decision, opposite views 
have been maintained. We partly disagree with each. We think he 
was justly expelled; but we do not think his trial was fairly conduct- 
ed. We have not space to discuss the point, but have fully stated our 
view elsewhere.* 

On the remainder of his life it is needless to dwell. It offers no 
question; and though full of gloomy interest, this could only be 
brought out to advantage by means of details for which we have no 

The profits of his two exhibitions amounted to 500, which, with 
the vote of the society, gave altogether 750; and this was probably 
the entire sum realized by his professional labours. Soon after his 
expulsion from the Academy, a subscription was raised for his sup- 
port, by the influence and personal exertion of the earl of Buchan. 
Of this, the result was 1000, with which an annuity for his life was 
purchased. He did not enjoy it long. In February, 1806, he was 
seized with a pleuritic attack in the street. It was so severe as to sus- 
pend all power of motion and speech. He was conveyed to his own 
house; but owing to some disrepair of the lock of his door, his friends 
were unable to gain admittance ; and after much severe exposure, 
which may have increased the effect of his disease, he was taken to 
the house of a kind friend. After due attention was paid to his 
immediate wants, a bed was procured for him in a neighbouring 
house. Here he neglected to look for medical aid; but with the 
peculiar wilfulness of his temper, locked himself up for two days, 
during which he suffered severe pain, and underwent mortal changes, 
which timely bleeding might have averted. He became himself 
alarmed, and communicated with a friend. Remedies were actively 
resorted to ; but it was too late. He lingered for about a fortnight, 
when he expired, 22d February, 1806. His remains, after lying in 
state in the society's rooms at the Adelphi, were interred in St. Paul's 

His real merits are to be estimated by his writings. He possessed 
the highest powers of the poet and the philosopher; and was perhaps 
second to none in the natural gifts of the painter. But while he was 
in a measure deficient in the intellectual culture essential to the 
former, he was as loosely disciplined in the mechanical training on 
which the second must depend. But his native promptness, clearness 
of apprehension and observation, his habit of reflection, his enthu- 

* D. U, Magazine. 


siasm for his art, his industry and perseverance, operated together, so 
far as concerned the mind, in the place of education, and made him a 
great master of the theory of his art. His paintings which we are 
compelled to estimate from the description of friends and enemies 
are perhaps the splendid indications of the insufficiency of the high- 
est powers, without the severe discipline to which the artist is mostly 
compelled to submit in order to attain the command of the mechanism 
of that language which constitutes his mode of expression; but his 
letters and lectures still remain the monuments of power, taste, and 
judgment, of which there can be no doubt, and which still constitute 
a ^I'st valuable part of the artist's library. 











WE have hitherto endeavoured to preface the main divisions of this 
history each with a rapid, but not inaccurate sketch, of the more gene- 
ral characteristics and tendencies which appeared to be discoverable 
in the history of the times to which they had relation. We do not 
consider this part of our labour to be now either as desirable, or as 
easy to perform. 

During the lapse of many centuries, it was not a matter of extreme 
difficulty to trace, amid numerous changes, a still slow on ward tendency, 
which though much extended and variously interrupted, was still 
potentially in existence, and perceptibly advancing the growth of civi- 
lization. It was by the close observation of this tendency, that we 
endeavoured to understand the progress of the world, and to find a 
light where the authorities which we had to trust to, afford none. Of 
this we shall have to speak largely at a future period. We have now 
but to observe, that we do not think the remainder of the task before 
us demands any such preliminary expositions. Most of what we should 
have to state under the head of introduction, has been anticipated in 
the immediately previous period. But, in reality, the few memoirs of 
any importance, which now remain, are riot such as to lead to these 
considerations, further than may well be provided for when occasion 
may require. 

We have hitherto been engaged in the treatment of historical events 
and changes: our notice of persons has been rather subsidiary to such 
a purpose, than directly the subject of our statements. But in what 
remains, the case is reversed. The history of our last period must be 
written hereafter; for much of it has passed within the time of the 
existing generation all that remains to be noticed, is the Present in 
substance and spirit. The same questions continue to be agitated, 
.though under altered circumstances, and with a vast accession of ani- 
mosities, mistakes, and perplexities. The long progress of social 
change, through ages accumulating both matter and motion, has at 
last arrived at a degree of breadth and acceleration wholly beyond 
precedent; insomuch, that the social world seems to have approached 
the last term, of a long progression, and to offer a moral and social 
problem, which increases in complication and difficulty in proportion 
as it is more attentively and more comprehensively studied. We are 


happy to feel absolved for the present, from a discussion, which can- 
not, as we see it, be effectively prosecuted within any compass which 
we have at our disposal. If we agreed with the opinions of any one 
great section of the public, it would be easy to refer to much able and 
intelligent statement; but large differences of opinion are not to be 
briefly asserted without the appearance of rashness or eccentricity ; 
and we disagree with all the main great parties with which we have 
any acquaintance in some very important respects. We do not believe, 
with one great body for whose principles we entertain the utmost 
respect, that the social world can either stand still, or return to past 
states; nor do we agree with its great antagonist section as to the 
real direction of its progress, or its actual destination. We are 
strongly persuaded of much, that should not be said, without full, 
clear, and circumstantial proof, derived from several elementary sources, 
some of which we must confess to be laden with uncertainty. 

It is, however, by no means difficult to say, so far as concerns us, 
what is the existing apparent character of the social stage at which 
we have arrived. In this, we may expect the assent of most observers, 
in whatever spirit they observe. It is evidently a period which bears 
the characters of vast moral, intellectual, and social transition; and 
attended with circumstances, some advantageous, and some the con- 
trary, such as might be anticipated in a great period of change. Of 
these, the most important are too fully developed, and too obvious to 
demand any distinct statement here. No one doubts the effects of the 
railroad, or the applications of steam to motion and machinery ; no 
one can doubt the vast accession of strength and intelligence which 
has been gained by the popular element of civilization the conse- 
quent development of the democratic principle into increased energy 
and the change of institutions which have followed, and must follow. 
However they may be understood, or in whatever spirit witnessed, 
these are plain facts or inevitable deductions. 

It must, indeed, be more for the preservation of the form which 
we have hitherto found it expedient to observe, than for any special 
object in our present stage, that we venture a few statements under 
the heads of division used in the previous course of our labours. They 
must be brief, and therefore general. 

POLITICAL, PARTIES. The great political questions which agitated 
the public mind in the last period, continue to exercise an increased 
influence upon the present. The same parties subsist, actuated by the 
same influences, though with objects that have undergone many and 
great changes. Of these changes we cannot here speak. They have 
been accompanied by moral and social effects, of which some may be 
noticed as more prominent, and as more likely to affect the future 
courses of events. One of these results has been a gradual communi- 
cation of intelligence and political information to the lower and mid- 
dle classes in Ireland; and, in consequence, though largely obstructed, 
a growing disposition is to be observed among the people, to throw 
off the delusions and prejudices which hitherto have had a larger share 
than will readily be admitted in chaining this country to the dust. 
The peasantry of Ireland continued (we do not here enter into 
causes) for ages without opinions or knowledge fast bound in au 


iron bond of prejudice, arid only seeing through the eyes of their 
leaders for good and evil. They are now in all the more cultivated 
districts universally awakening into the condition of voluntary and 
intelligent agents, and either for good or for evil, beginning to think 
for themselves. The twilight of opinion is growing over the villages, 
and wherever there is to be seen an advance in the common comforts of 
civilized life, there will, on close inquiry, be also found an approxima- 
tion to just ways of thinking, and to that first great desideratum in 
Ireland a rational sense of their own true interests. This more fa- 
vourable condition is, indeed, sadly modified by influences of opposite 
kinds. There are those who would contract, and there are those 
who would loosen the social bond of order: there is prejudice and 
ignorant speculation, the nightmare of the past, and the fever dream of 
a visionary future. Against these and other influences far more dark, 
the only preservative under providence likely to be brought into 
timely operation, is the most strenuous and efficient regard to the 
improvement of the condition of the peasantry a sound commercial 
action on a sufficient scale the promotion of abundant and well-paid 
employment. To those who are destitute of the means of life, know- 
ledge is useless, and more likely to be subservient to evil than to good. 
Some enlightened persons, who, (justly enough,) think that prejudices 
are to be dissipated by education, have not enough considered the ef- 
fects it may have in the promotion of revolutionary notions. The 
highest instruction of any populace can amount but to a trifle. There 
is a current in the stream of events by which all existing instrumen- 
talities are likely to be governed, and they who do not watch its direc- 
tions are not fit to guide the least of them. 

LITERATURE. Our literature, though in a commercial sense be- 
ginning to take an independent character, is yet in spirit and substance 
as it should be identical with that of the British empire. We do 
not feel bound to discuss it, but may just touch on a few points of 
present interest. The literature of the day, is, indeed, little likely to 
be the literature of the age: it is, strictly, in a state of transition, and 
this in a still more observable degree than the general form of the 
social state. For this many causes work together. First, the vast 
influx of new material, and the impulse and expansion which this has 
communicated to the thinking powers many spacious fields of real 
knowledge have been attained, and clouds of speculation vast and illi- 
mitable much as has been discovered, more has been fancied; arid as 
the narrow bonds of prejudice and convention have been widened or 
weakened, a vague tendency to reject old forms, and look for new, is 
largely diffused in the mind of the world. So far, regards the depart- 
ment of opinion. The character of polite literature is no less affect- 
ed. The same causes which have removed the barriers of opinion, 
have altered the standards of taste. A vast infusion of new material 
new names, new objects, new notions, have had to be transfused into 
language and the language of the Past has been found inadequate to 
give them place and form. Hence the ancient methods and normal 
forms of speech, and the rules of style, have been abandoned and 
broken through by the writers and forgotten by the critics, unless in 
the very few instances of a higher order of mind, in which correctness 


of method is ever native, because it is the result of clear and compre- 
hensive thought. So far, the state which we have endeavoured to 
describe briefly, is strictly that of transition, and will slowly settle 
within the strict limits of truth and good taste, as intellects of a supe- 
rior order always few and far between occur to give precision and 
symmetry to a new language, to define and stabilitate the true, and 
dispel the false in fact and opinion. To this we have to add another 
operative process the wide increase of intelligence among the lower 
orders of society has generated a literature wholly new and peculiar 
to the time. A vast quantity of the very lowest range of intellect 
finds occupation in producing food for an immature state of mind, and 
for a widely craving appetite for a crude literature. From this most 
necessary and most useful scope, an additional corruption arises the 
field which bears the simple diet for the reading crowd brings forth 
the abundant growth of weeds and worthless flowers. 

Lastly, there is a strong effect produced by a cause so nearly 
related to the last mentioned, as to be but imperfectly distinguishable 
from it. The effect of political excitement, has been to deaden the 
public mind in some respects to all that has no connexion w T ith popu- 
lar feeling. This is an affection, more especially to be observed in 
this country, where the passions of the multitude are roused upon 
more vital questions, and where the talents of those who give its tone 
to popular feeling, are themselves from habit more involved in the 
same passions. It is slightly counteracted by the very superior quality 
of intellect thus engaged in this country, over the paltry and vulgar 
tone of mind similarly engaged in London. We should hesitate to 
compare the springing genius of Ireland with the English democratic 
press, or with the meagre knowledge and narrow range of its annuals 
and popular publications, in which, with little exception, the highest 
qualification is to sell the least and lowest mind to the best advantage 
at any market. If we are overborne by the excitement of present pas- 
sions and passing events, we are at least free from the morbid froth and 
vapour of transcendentalism; and the cold, dull, and heartless jour- 
neywork of those factories of cockney literature, which, in their little 
way, are helping to corrupt the noble literature of England. But 
still, such is the fact, our newborn literature is menaced by the whirls 
and shallows of the vortex in which we are kept moving. It is not 
that we want, in our higher and more cultivated circles, taste and 
knowledge to fully appreciate all that mind can do; but it is that our 
more alert and adventurous spirits are absorbed into a false medium, 
in which the little is magnified and the great diminished. 

We have, however, notwithstanding these deductions, high and 
ample grounds of hopefulness in Ireland. We have already taken 
occasion to notice the yet silent growth of our literature, and traced 
the course by which a succession of increasing efforts gave rise at last 
to the Dublin University Magazine. This now eminent periodical, 
first taking its rise from the rich fountain of the University, has been 
protected and fostered by the courageous liberality and commercial 
skill of our friend Mr James M'Glashan, until it stands on the highest 
level to which such publications can attain. It has been the means of 
uwukeniug public attention, and exciting a profitable emulation so 


that, from having no literature in Ireland, our metropolis is now fast 
rising in this respect to a level of production equal to its means ; 
means which, if fully brought into action, are adequate to raise it to an 
equality with any city in the world. An increasing demand for intel- 
lectual nutriment is beginning to be provided for in many quarters: 
all, at least characterized by eminent talent, though we witness their 
efforts not without some anxiety, lest their opinions and their sense of 
the real interests of the Irish people may not turn out to be as sound 
as we believe their intentions to be pure, and their motives patriotic. 
Yet even so much must we look on as some advance. Considerable 
talent and learning has also been very efficiently brought into action 
in a very able and well-conducted quarterly, which, though ranged 
against our own opinions, and, (as we understand,) especially hostile to 
the principles and statements of these volumes, we must say, is gener- 
ally free from unfairness, and likely to become creditable and useful 
to the country. 

We have already stated the claims of Trinity College to the grati- 
tude of Ireland. In a dull twilight of obscurity, it was a solitary ray, 
slowly, but effectively diffusing knowledge, and the taste for know- 
ledge, and sending out men of learning and cultivated talent and sen- 
timent into every part of the island. In our own times, it has kept 
its place, and from being a source of useful instruction, it has become 
a proud ornament to Ireland: known in every country where the light 
of science shines, for its eminent professors, and able works in every 
branch of solid attainment, its theology, its physics, and its pure 
mathematics. Nor does it less deserve to be commended for its abun- 
dant fertility in literature, than for its very singular liberality in pro- 
moting the ends of knowledge. Cultivating the higher and less prac- 
tical branches of science through the press, and through the transac- 
tions of the Royal Irish Academy, it provides for the diffusion of the 
most popular and practical branches by its school of engineering, 
which bids fair to be the most extensively useful institution of the 
kind yet known. Nor is it less remarkable for its public spirited con- 
duct in the recent outlay of its income in the very striking improve- 
ments which have been made in the neighbouring streets of the 

In estimating the literary prospects of our country, it is by no means 
superfluous to take into account the fact that many able works, appa- 
rently the produce of English talent, are really to be traced to the 
source from which, under a more fortunate order of circumstances, 
the literature of Dublin should be supplied. Nobody doubts from 
whence the best and most successful translation of the greatest conti- 
nental poet has come : or that Dr Anster is an Irishman. If, indeed, 
we were here to enter on a subject of such detail as the works of 
living individuals, we cannot but at once perceive how long and how 
important would be the enumeration of works written here, though 
issuing from the London press. Nor, happily, is the recent accession 
of useful and able publications from our own city, whether we look to 
Curry's, Hodges and Smith's, or the university press, less intrinsically 
valuable. We cannot enter on the subject, but may exemplify our 
remarks by adverting to the numerous able works in elementary 


science, and the valuable editions of the Greek and Roman classics, 
which have been within the few last years published chiefly by 
the above-named booksellers. Writing-, however, cursorily on this 
point, it would be an unpardonable omission to pass the recent volume 
on the round towers of Ireland, published by Hodges and Smith : 
a work not hitherto to be equalled in its own department by the anti- 
quarian labour, research, and talent of any country ; and never likely 
to be surpassed, until the same class of difficulties have again to be 
encountered by similar moral and intellectual qualifications.* 

Generally speaking, as to the development of intellect in the popu- 
lar mind, its advance may, with some near approach to the truth, be 
estimated by the degree of advance in the ordinary attainments of 
that popular branch of literature included in the term " the press." 
For this there is a reason which has an immediate and very general 
application. With the few exceptions which do not require explana- 
tion, the minds of those writers professionally connected with the 
press, are almost exclusively habituated to apply one main standard of 
value to the results of thought, a standard drawn from their immediate 
currency and probable effect on the popular mind; with which a habitual 
sympathy is thus soon acquired, and a tendency to see and think 
through the medium of popular feeling. This curious fact cannot be 
mistaken by those who are extensively conversant with the journals of 
the present time, and supplies a ready and by no means inaccurate 
way of ascertaining the popular progress and tendencies The same 
principle has another far more curious and interesting application, 
connected with the progress of culture in the more educated ranks ; 
and of which we have ourselves had peculiar facilities of observation. 
Some years ago, a very considerable movement, with respect to edu- 
cation, commenced in the more cultivated circles; the education of 
children, always a duty, became a fashion; books for children were 
multiplied, and Jack the Giant-killer, with the fairy-tales, gave way 
to whole piles of histories and elementary treatises on every imagina- 
ble subject. Every g-entlewoman became a school-mistress, or, at the 
least, a writer of tracts for infancy. Now one result of this became 
soon evident: persons of the finest taste, the most cultivated reason, 
if they happened to be infected with this most useful mania, began 
presently to think of every book with reference to the infant under- 
standing; and thus by the operation of the same natural process above- 
mentioned, a tendency to self-identification might have been ob- 
served to gradually carry back the intellect to habitudes of concep- 
tion useful for instruction, but not so for any ulterior end. But from 
this, another consequence gradually began to appear the children 
which were the objects of this application of human reason, went on 
in the natural course of progress, and soon began to manifest those 
tastes and tendencies of thought which might be looked for as the 
direct result of early instruction on so augmented a basis. A re- 

The Royal Irish Academy has to add this great work to the long list of its 
other eminent deservings, well known through Europe, but far too little at home. 
The nucleus of Mr Petrie's inquiry consisted of his prize essay in the academy, 
and appears as a volume of its transactions. 


markable contrast was the consequence between the tastes, the studies, 
and manifestations of intelligence of the rising generation, and that by 
which it was thus propelled. The tracts of twenty years ago are fast 
giving place to volumes of a more ambitious kind; and the steeps of 
science appear likely to be invaded by the children of those whose 
laudable ambition it was to think for the nursery alone. A vast ex- 
pansion of mind in this country has been the result of this and the 
concurrent progress of improved methods of school and college edu- 
cation. But for the reasons already observed, it has rather been an 
advance of knowledge and of pure intellect, than of cultivated taste. 
The literae humanioves have, within the same period, lost ground 
under the combined influences of a double revolution; the changes of 
the social state which have been concurrent with those of human 

The same causes which have contributed to this last mentioned ef- 
fect, are likely, in the course of time, to bring round the remedy. Of 
this it forms no part of our present task to speak. But there is one 
topic to be adverted to, which may even suggest the course by which 
the empire of taste is not unlikely to be again, at some future period, 
restored. We mean the new and fortunate impulse which has been 
received by the fine arts in Ireland. Of this we must say a few words. 

ARTS, &c. The state of society, such as has been described in these 
pages, cannot be supposed to have been favourable to the arts. The 
clamour of a pervading 1 and incessant political contention, would, of it- 
self, be sufficient to account for the absence of the humanizing spirit of 
the fine arts. It was not that there was wantingnvealth for their 
encouragement; but there was a state of society unfavourable to their 
suitable appreciation, and ."occupied also by numerous predispositions 
equally so to their development. The demand was wanting, and the 
soil was overrun with weeds. There is in every low state of social re- 
finement, a debased and vulgar form of utilitarianism the philosopher 
is a utilitarian, because he looks with prospective wisdom to the re- 
mote applicability of whatever is true and real; but we speak of the 
well-known temper which can admit no truth but by sight or preju- 
dice, and no measure of value but use. Its universal comment is 
contained in the words of the great grandmotherly old ballad, " Will 
the flame that you're so rich in, make a fire in the kitchen !" It is 
not, however, that there was actually no taste to appreciate the 
finished results of art; there never perhaps was a time when a Claude, 
a Murillo, or a Raphael would not have elicited admiration and won- 
der: nor was the cant of criticism ever wanting' among the better 
classes. The most important point of consideration is distinct from 
this: while the peasant is often capable of feeling the result, it is in 
the pursuit and apprehension of the means that a productive condition 
of society consists. It is not until men can look to the prospective 
results of extended applications of principle that the soil is to be con- 
sidered as dressed and prepared for the higher expansion of its fer- 
tility. The dullest can at once see in part the importance of a steam- 
engine; but there was a time, and that not long ago, when the trials 
and experiments, of which it is the result, would have seemed visionary 
to the multitude. There is now, on the other hand, a high feeling of 


popular respect for the remotest excursions of speculation; and the 
mind of the world, increased in quantity and improved in quality, is 
putting forth tastes and talents, and accommodating itself to the na- 
tural method of advance in knowledge and civilization. \\ here the 
physical wants alone were once the real and only springs of productive 
industry, and gambling, politics, or debauchery, of the passions the 
operation of moral sentiment, the power of imagination, the charm of 
fancy, the deep fascination of their varied combinations in the desires 
of cultivated taste, are now loudly asserting their claims, the higher 
and nobler claims of our mere humanity. 

This has been, doubtless, first a result of the wide improvement of 
the intellectual tendencies ; it is also pretty obvious that the cultiva- 
tion of the useful arts has a natural connection with the ornamental: 
and the mind, when it has once received its impulse in whatever di- 
rection, will go on to the most refined and extreme results, when not 
arrested by peremptory circumstances. 

In the city of Dublin, the impulse has indeed been great. The 
zeal and talent of a few individuals has, in this important respect, done 
the work of years. The Art Union has sprung up among us to call 
forth or to reform the taste, and to elicit those resources by the active 
application of which alone professional art can be expected to thrive. 
An increased market for paintings, having been by whatever means 
produced, the wide diffusion of pictures will contribute to draw 
forth or to rectify the taste of every class. The artificial market 
will give place to a natural demand, and a result from this will 
be that the productions now collected from remote quarters will 
come to be produced at home. Towards this desirable end, the 
Royal Hibernian Academy have been making zealous and eflSciei.t 
efforts to contribute. The last few years have seen our collections 
advancing in general as well as individual excellence. And even 
while these lines are penned, this body has meritoriously signalized 
itself by a step from w r hich the best and most decided effects may be 
looked for, having advertised the admission of the poorer classes for the 
last three days, at a price which may be called gratuitous, being in 
fact the nearest approach that could be made to this result with safety 
to the paintings. 

That this is the effective preliminary to further advances in the 
same humanizing direction, there can be no reasonable doubt. Any 
great impulse communicated to the public mind, may be expected to 
propagate motion in every similar direction of tendency. And this 
is a principle not merely confined to the range of art, in all its walks ; 
but, if regard be had to the influences of that branch from which the 
actual impulse is in the present instance derived, it may be observed 
that it involves the whole dominion of the mind. Whoever has at- 
tentively observed the effects of the study of art upon artists, will 
easily conclude upon the effects which must go hand in hand with the 
cultivation of painting. They comprise all that belongs to the de- 
partment of refined sentiment the charm of grace and the delicacy 
of perception the fancy is awakened, and the imagination taught to 
spread its wings, and all the ornamental tendencies of civilized life 
are rendered active, to blend with and refine its moralties. It is the 


more popularly effective form in which poetry itself can address and 
influence the crowd, oculis subjectafidelibus. 

With these few remarks we must be here content; any topics of 
the same general nature which remain, must, so far as occasion re- 
quires, find their place in the following memoirs. 


ir aaUUam ffusacfe Smftf), 

BORN 1766 DIED 1836. 

SIR WILLIAM CUSACK SMITH was the son of Sir Michael Smith, a 
distinguished lawyer and estimable man, who having passed with dis- 
tinction through the university of Dublin, of which he was a scholar, 
afterwards rose to equal eminence at the bar. He was raised to the 
bench in 1794, as one of the Barons of the Exchequer. In 1799, he 
was created a baronet; and in 1801, appointed Master of the Rolls, 
in which he was the immediate predecessor of Mr Curran. 

Sir William was born in 1766; he graduated in Oxford. During 
his early years, he became acquainted with Burke, who formed a very 
high opinion of his character and abilities. That these latter were of 
a very high order, there can be entertained no reasonable doubt, as 
many of his literary compositions remain. They uniformly manifest 
the perfect command of an easy and perspicuous style, very consider- 
able ingenuity, and a shrewdness rather in the nature of metaphysical 
refinement, than the species of sagacity usually connected with the 
exercise of a sober and solid judgment. Not indeed that in his earlier 
writings there is any deficiency in this respect. Neither in these, 
and still less in his public conduct, was there any deficiency in that 
practical common sense, without which every intellectual power is 
worthless; and indeed, whenever his love of refining did not carry 
his judgment too far into the wide field of theory, there is a striking 
and even exemplary precision in his statements and reasonings. 

He was called to the bar in 1788. We find many curious and in- 
teresting notices of him in the bar history and correspondence of that 
period. He was very highly esteemed among his contemporaries ; 
but the same subtilizing temper, which we cannot avoid regarding as 
a defect of his understanding, and which perhaps was in some measure 
the result of a very refined nervous organization, seems to have also 
entered into the moral conformation of his mind. He was easily 
offended, subject to depression and to fits of suspicion. In consequence 
of this constitution of mind, his intimacies, which were congenial to 
his high talent and tone of sentiment, were liable to be sometimes 
crossed by misunderstandings, which not being founded on any sub- 
stantial ground, were not the easiest to remove by ordinary means; 
but the fearless honesty and the lofty principle of Mr Smith, often 

vi. R 


terminated such breaches of regard in a manner as honourable as 

they were peculiar. We shall relate one instance. Smith, we should 

first mention, w T as remarkably endowed with that high moral sense, 

that a passing thought unfavourable to the moral character of an 

acquaintance, had the effect of lowering him in his regard to a degree 

approaching detestation; and so great was his nicety, that it was not 

at that time easy to avoid offending it. With this chivalric infirmity 

the infirmity, it may well be said, of noble minds it may easily be 

conceived how easy it was to fall under his disfavour. Such once 

chanced to be the misfortune of one of the most illustrious of his bar 

friends, though from what cause has not been stated ; but so it was. 

Bushe, then his junior at the bar, was surprised by a sudden coldness 

and estrangement of manner, which nothing had occurred to account 

for. Smith, however, continuing to display toward him a gloomy, cold, 

and somewhat petulant manner, two talented and high-spirited young 

men ceased to have any communication. During the interval, the 

manner of Smith became more and more gloomy and depressed, when 

one day they happened on circuit to dine in the san.e company in 

Philipstown. Smith left the room immediately after dinner. After 

sitting for a couple of hours longer, Bushe proceeded to seek his 

lodging. It was a cold, damp, blowing night, and quite dark. He 

had not proceeded many paces from the door, when he felt himself 

lightly touched on the shoulder, and accosted by a voice which he 

immediately recognised as that of Smith, saying in a tone peculiarly 

his own, " I want to speak to you;" his friend went aside with him, 

when Mr Smith addressed him, " This town smites me with the 

recollection of your kindness to me, and of my unkindness to you; 

I have to request that you will, without any explanation, suffer me to 

call you again my friend, you will be sorry to hear, what I deserve 

very well, that my conduct to you has injured my health." Now, the 

same authentic source from which we have this anecdote, also enables 

us to say, that the whole of this wrong, which so deeply affected 

the trembling sense of justice in Mr Smith's mind, amounted to 

nothing more than the very common wrong, of having for a time 

entertained some notion injurious to his own high estimate of his 

friend; and which, by closer observation, or maturer reflection, he 

saw reason to give up. Such was the delicacy of Mr Smith's honour 

and conscience, that he felt it to be a crime to wrong a friend even in 


Mr Smith's rise at the bar was proportioned to his high qualifica- 
tions. So early as 1795, he became king's counsel. He represented 
the county of Donegal in the last Irish parliament. When the ques- 
tion of the Union was agitated, he at first took the adverse part with 
Bushe, &c., and was among the majority by which this measure was 
rejected on its first proposal in parliament in the session of 1799- In 
the interval between this and the introduction of the same measure in 
the next year, he had been led to a more full review of the question ; 
and having, according to his natural tendency, taken it up on more 
general and speculative grounds, he came to the opposite conclusion. 
As there continued for a long time much reproach against those who 
voted for the Union, and espf dully against those who in any way ob- 


tained any personal advantage in consequence, or apparently in conse- 
quence, of their conduct on that occasion, a few remarks are necessary 
in justice to baron Smith. He was one of those few men who couid 
have pursued the exact course which he adopted at that time, without 
affording fair ground for any malignant construction, because the ex- 
treme length to which he carried his independence of character the 
zeal for principles the spirit of defiance with which he asserted his 
views of right, both accounted for his opinions, and for the course by 
which he acted upon them. Both were the natural result of his intel- 
lect and temper; so much so that, among all who were personally 
acquainted with him, there was not the smallest doubt as to the rigid 
uprightness, and the perfect sincerity of his motives. His conduct 
was in this, the same as in the numerous lesser instances with which 
the experience of his bar friends was familiar; and every one knew 
the spirit with which he rejected all considerations but his own view 
of a question, so that, indeed, it was felt that he never could be depend- 
ed on as a party man. It was known that at any moment he would pause 
and hesitate on the lightest doubt, and conscientiously turn, if his opin- 
ion were to undergo a change. He did not feel, or at least acknow- 
ledge, those lesser ties of mere opinion, by which ordinary men are 
bound with an iron force, and which mainly constitute their stock of 
political knowledge, if not of public principle. Smith, however, firmly 
convinced himself on the occasion here spoken of; and continued 
through life to argue strenuously in support of the principle of the 
Union. His appointment as solicitor-general, in 1800, was a step 
to which he was eminently entitled, and would have been obtain- 
ed, had he adopted the contrary course of politics. But when, 
in 1802, he was raised to the bench, and succeeded his father as a 
baron of the exchequer, the appointment necessarily gave offence 
to the factions, and through them to the multitude. The fact had 
little chance to be fairly weighed; nor was it easy to separate the 
man from the circumstances under which he obtained this latter pro- 
motion. The promotion must be allowed to have been the result of 
service on the union question; but there was as certainly no bargain. 
The baron was the only man of talent who espoused the ministerial 
party, such happening to be the result of his own view of the question. 
He was too important an ally not to be valued: the rest, rightly viewed, 
was matter of course. Every public man thinks it right to avail him- 
self of court or ministerial favour; and to accept of promotion, when 
offered without any dishonourable understanding: to refuse, in the 
instance under consideration, would have had no meaning but a tacit 
acknowledgement that his conscientious vote was wrong. But the 
numerous cases which occurred, in which the parties were brought over 
by downright bribery, have thrown a kind of imputation not to be satis- 
factorily met, because the public judges by general prepossessions, and 
does not deal in distinctions. Among those who then differed in opinion 
from Smith, the soundest and ablest have since changed their mind. 
And though a measure so broad, universal, and delicate in the changes 
it was calculated to effect, must needs have brought evil as well as good 
with it: we can have no doubt that we are with the soundest opinions 
in saying that Smith was right. It must, however, be said that had 


he been less speculative, and more practical in liis intellectual habits, he 
might, like other able men, have then seen enough to have led his judg- 
ment to a different conclusion. Important as must be the prospective 
consequences of the union, and important as have been the benefits it has 
effected, and the far greater evils it has prevented, it must have been 
easy to see two great disadvantages that it would deprive us of our 
aristocracy; and, still more, that there was an existing state of things 
which could not fail, and has not failed, to neutralize the natural con- 
sequences of the Union. We have, however, little doubt that the 
baron's view was right, and supported by right reasoning. Time is 
the great restorer of theory, if it be true. The circumstances which 
have retarded the growth of Irish prosperity, though more durable 
than the impediments of a similar nature in any other country, cannot 
last for ever, and even now are rapidly disappearing; and the common 
processes of national advance are beginning, though as in a stormy 
spring, to expand to the light. 

On obtaining 1 his seat on the bench, baron Smith, still young, 
and in the most vigorous perfection of his faculties, began to turn 
his mind to the more profound study of law. For this he justly felt 
that his mind was eminently qualified. His extraordinary acuteness, 
the promptness and rapidity of his discernment, and his mastery of 
speculative methods and principles, appear indeed to have fully war- 
ranted the hope of legal eminence. To the study of law his mind was 
eminently adapted: law, while from the strictly logical concatenation 
of its inferences and principles, it offers fit matter and a suitable 
exercise for the discursive faculties; at the same time, from the very 
distinctness and definiteness of the entire chain, presents that limitary 
barrier which the speculative temper so very generally requires. And 
thus it will now and then occur that a mind which might otherwise 
be led to waste its energies upon an unproductive field of vague and 
flighty metaphysics, may take a high place as a lawyer, or as the 
advocate of a policy. Baron Smith signalized himself in both; but 
most especially as an able and expert writer on legal questions, on 
some of which his essays are of considerable interest. 

As a judge, he cannot be praised above his deserts. He carried to 
the bench, not only the skill and talent of a lawyer; but the liberal and 
humane sense and wisdom of a Christian philosopher. 

At a late period of his life, the baron took justifiable alarm at the 
violence of the democratic party in Ireland. The increase of Rib- 
bonism rose for a time to ar> alarming pitch, and infected the pea- 
santry to an extent unknown within the previous memory of the age. 
It was then quite obvious that the people interpreted both the 
concessions of reform, and the representations of their leaders, into 
meanings of their own ; and, for a time, no life was safe under the 
influence of false impressions and visionary expectations. Murder 
was uncontrolled ; and the law, sufficient in itself, was frustrated by 
the pusillanimity or party-spirit of provincial juries. It was under 
these circumstances that the baron was induced, by his strong constU 
tutional feelings, to adopt a course which soon made him the object of 
much party animosity. On his circuits, he delivered a series of 
charges, of which it was the purpose to counteract the fatal influence 


of political terror, then perniciously operating on the minds and ver- 
dicts of juries. In the execution of this imperatively necessary task, 
which lay strictly within the duty of the judge, baron Smith could 
nut have evaded the unfortunate condition of seeming to identify him- 
self with a party. He has indeed, by a strange oversight, been ac- 
cused of partiality for having dealt severely with the crimes and errors 
of one party, and neglected to brand the wrongs committed on the 
opposite side. Now, admitting for a moment that such wrongs had 
existence to the amount alleged by popular writers, we have to ob- 
serve that such a stricture on the baron can only be warranted by 
the assumption that his charges were intended simply as political 
addresses to the counties: the very assumption in which the accusa- 
tion consists. But the baron, as a judge, was simply concerned with 
the crimes which came within the scope of the criminal law, and with 
the political influences which then, and since, have been notoriously 
operative in direct opposition to the law. With the vicious constitu- 
tion of things which may have led to crime by intermediate influences, 
he was not so immediately concerned. Under ordinary circumstances, 
it must be admitted that a strict abstinence from all party considera- 
tion is the imperative duty of the bench. But this rule, like every 
earthly rule, has its limit party considerations may variously inter- 
pose within the judge's compass of duty; and this cannot admit of 
doubt, when they directly intrude upon the essential action and ma- 
chinery of justice. Considering that such occasions are in the nature of 
exceptions, that when all the rules and forms of the constitution are 
in a state of disruption, every man's office becomes for the time merged 
in his duty as a member of society, we think the baron was rigidly 
right. When the law was disarmed, deserted by its servants, and 
defied by its subjects, the wonted solemnity of the bench, affecting 
indifference to the storm, and calmly issuing its impositions, would 
be like poor mad Lear in the court of his rebel child, or preaching 
justice and pity to the winds. Attributing the state of the country 
to the state and conduct of the party ostensibly at the head of the 
popular movements, the baron acted with a just regard to his judicial 
duty in the endeavour to neutralize its effect on the minds of juries. 
In the execution of a duty which, happily, does not often devolve to a 
judge, perhaps the baron did not rigidly draw the line which ought 
to divide the official from the social duty. If this were to be 
conceded, the urgency of the case must be allowed for; but in such 
emergencies it forms no part of the duty imposed on any office, to be 
rigidly right and no more. When the duty of the judge and of the 
politician, by a rare juucture of circumstances, happened to coincide, 
it was not too peremptorily to be demanded that the political depart- 
ment of the mind should not assert its ordinary authority, and that the 
judge, compelled to enter the field, should forget the citizen and the man. 
But we must be just; there can be as little doubt that when such, 
unhappily, becomes the judge's part, he must take the consequences. 
If we once admit the existence of the leading of a popular party, if 
we admit the rights of agitation, which, with due limits we do not 
deny, it becomes apparent that, in the strife of party, the judge must 
be met like any other man when he enters the field of strife. 


Thus, then, according to the theory involved in these statements, 
we consider that circumstances may warrant the judicial assumption 
of a political function, and th'e same circumstances equally justify the 
consequent direction of party assault against such a step. Of course, in 
either case, the question as to the particular grounds, the occasion and 
the manner, remain untouched. They form a question which does not 
belong to this volume to discuss ; nor would such a discussion be now 
desirable, when much of the party bitterness which disordered the 
time has subsided among the lowest dregs of the infidel or revolu- 
tionary writers of the provincial press, who still think it not indecent 
to attack Christianity through the sides of protestantism; and, in their 
eagerness to strike, forget to conceal the lowness of the quarter from 
which alone the language they use can emanate. 

The baron was, of course, subject to a parliamentary attack, which, 
under the circumstances, could not fail to be made. But his high 
reputation as a judge, the strong sense which existed of the vicious 
state of things which appeared to require, or at least warrant, the 
course he took, were in his favour. The government was then hostile, 
but it was an administration without weight, and his friends in the 
House were earnest and effective, so that the storm rolled harmlessly 
by; addresses from the grand juries were poured in to the baron, to 
congratulate and compliment him on the occasion, and he replied to 
ail in short and pithy answers, which attracted great attention by 
their elegance of style, and by the variety of their language. They 
were perhaps not less remarkable for the point and freedom with which 
he reasserted the principle of his charges, and vindicated himself. 
We abstain from details which would necessarily require the notice 
of numerous living persons,* whom it is not the part of this book to 
censure or compliment. We must avoid the angry spirit of modern 
parties, and preserve, to the utmost possible extent, a freedom from 
personal crimination, reserving the right to assert our views of prin- 
ciple, whenever the principle is of sufficient importance in our eyes to 
excuse the necessary deviation. 

Baron Smith was a man of strong nervous irritability of tempera- 
ment, which was increased by habits which it induced. Among these, 
he is said to have had one to which nervous subjects are mostly inclined, 
irregularity in the observance of hours; he was much addicted to 
watch, and pursue his studies to a late hour of the night, and was, in 
consequence, habitually languid by day, until roused by the sense of 
duty, or by some powerful sentiment. His nature was, however, as 
such natures are, of the most excitable order, and all his strong powers 
were ever ready to start into life and action at the demand of each 
of the high and refined sentiments of which his heart was full. It 
has often been affirmed that he was capricious and uncertain; this 
may, in its fullest extent, be true: but one thing has never been justly 
allowed for, which might perhaps account for much of the numerous 
instances current in the talk of story-tellers. What we mean will 

* The details of the parliamentary discussion, upon this occasion, may be 
fovinu in the second part of " Ireland and its Rulers," from which the facts of the 
above memoir are mainly drawn. 


most briefly be communicated by a trivial story, which we know to be 
perfectly true, as it is highly characteristic. One day, while he was 
attorney-general, it happened that he sat at dinner between two bar- 
risters in a circuit town. These two gentlemen, from time to time, 
kept up a whispering conversation behind his back, and from some 
words which met his ear in the general hubbub of the table, it seemed 
to him that some plan of a very low species of intrigue was the sub- 
ject. One of these gentlemen was a man of the highest talent and 
worth, and married to a woman of great attraction and goodness. 
Smith's sense of the degradation of such a man, and wrong to such a 
woman, took fire; and, unable to suppress the sentiment, he assumed a 
haughty and reserved manner towards the supposed delinquent. Happily 
some occasion led to a communication, and he mentioned the cause of 
his reserve, adding that he had not respect enough for the other per- 
son in question, to be very seriously impressed by his supposed mis- 
conduct; yet that a similar course would excite his abhorrence if 
followed by one of whom he had always entertained the most exalted 
opinion, and whom he knew to be married to a most estimable woman. 

Such was the fine and sensitive moral nerve, which responded to 
the lightest touch of a principle. We only notice it as offering the 
most satisfactory illustration of the course of conduct which we have 
had occasion to reflect upon here, and not for the purpose of insisting 
upon what by no means follows as matter of course, and what we 
have not had the means of ascertaining, that baron Smith was himself 
a pattern of the utmost moral purity in private life. Of his private 
life we are ignorant; but in viewing his public life it is not unimportant 
to keep in view his moral tendencies. We think it necessary to make 
the distinction, because we have a strong distrust of such tendencies 
in those cases in which the passions of private life become strongly 
engaged. Whatever may be man's nature, it becomes altered under 
the strong influences of pride, hatred, fear, and love, though it can 
resist the impulses of ambition, and can spurn the sordid interests. Of 
the baron's conduct, as a public man, we can express our perfect ap- 
probation, and consider it high, above all question, public-spirited, 
judicious, independent, and constitutional, even in the only instance 
of seeming deviation. 

Of the personal foibles and infirmities of a mind which it cannot 
be denied was subject to some eccentricities, it is enough to say that 
the baron was both respected and esteemed by the high-minded and 
light-hearted profession, to which he must be admitted to have been 
an ornament. We have some reason to suspect that his eccentricities 
became aggravated towards the close of his life, by the natural effects 
of old age. His last literary production, which consisted of a com- 
mentary on lord Brougham's introduction to his work on Paley, may 
be considered as clearly indicating a decay of those intellectual powers 
by which his earlier compositions are so highly distinguished. He 
died in 1836, not very long after this production. 



BORN 1759 DIED 1814. 

AMONG the illustrious names which ornament the personal history of 
Ireland, few indeed, in all important respects, are more honourable 
than Wellesley : if great and efficient services are to afford the test of 
comparison none. The original paternal name of the family was 
Colley.* Walter -Colley, or Cowley, was Solicitor-general of Ireland, 
in 1537. From this gentleman the family is traced, for seven descents, 
to Richard, who, on succeeding to the estates of the Wellesleys of 
Dungaii castle, an Anglo-Saxon family of very ancient standing, settled 
in Ireland from 1 172, adopted the surname and arms of Wellesley. 

Garret Wellesley, first earl of Mornington, was justly celebrated 
for his high musical genius, having composed several glees which 
were successful in obtaining the prizes and medals given by the glee 
club. His church music still continues to be played, and to be very 
much admired. This nobleman married a daughter of the first lord 

The eldest son of this marriage was the late marquis Wellesley. 
He was first sent to Harrow, from which, with several others, he was 
expelled in consequence of a rebellion in the school, in which he took 
part. He was then placed at Eton. Here his reputation stands un- 
questionably fixed by the severest test of comparison, having been by 
the master preferred to Person. Such distinctions are not always 
clear of the uucertainties of traditionary recollection, or of the possi- 
ble imputations of partial favour. In this instance, this test of first- 
rate merit is as authentic as it is honourable. Lord Brougham re- 
lates the incident to which we would refer " When Dr Goodall, his 
contemporary, and afterwards headmaster, was examined in 1818 be- 
fore the Education Committee in the House of Commons, respecting 
the alleged passing over of Porson, in giving promotion to King's 
College, he at once declared that the celebrated Grecian was not, 
by any means, at the head of the Etonians of his day; and, on being 
asked by me (as chairman) to name his superior, he at once said 
lord Wellesley." 

From Eton he entered Christchurch College, Oxford, where he 
eminently sustained the reputation he had acquired at Eton. A re- 
cent publication has put the world in possession of his beautiful, strik- 
ing, and classic compositions in Latin verse, to which we shall here- 
after more particularly revert. Our materials are not such as to war- 
rant our dwelling further on the incidents of this period of his life. 
He came to the age of manhood at a time when youths distinguished 
for talent and having the vantage ground of station in society, were 
invited into a brilliant field of distinction. It was the day of Grattan, 
and Curran, and Bushe, and Plunkett, in the Irish, and of Pitt, Fox, 
and Burke, in the British House of Commons. It was also a season 
of intense political excitement, when great changes were passing 

* Burke's Peerage. 




/ ' 
// / 

.' //:</// 



through their courses, and greater still beginning to open on the eye 
of the age. The French Revolution was throwing its broad and 
blood-red glare, and its vast impulse, like the centre of a mighty vor- 
tex that stirs the waters into a thousand lesser whirlpools and eddies, 
throughout Europe. Whatever may have been, or may yet be the 
event, it was an auspicious era for the school of political acquirement, 
and for the youthful energy and intellect of a man like Wellesley. 
His eminently broad and comprehensive spirit received its discipline 
at the sources of the great order of events of which he was to be 
rnagna pars, in which his name was to bear a lofty place, and to be 
graved on perennial monuments. 

Jn the Irish House of Lords, he took his seat as lord Mornington, 
in 1784. Of the early stages of his political life, our space does not 
permit any detail. Of the talents which would have raised him to a 
place of the first eminence as an orator, we can entertain no doubt; 
but his parliamentary career was early interrupted by still higher and 
more responsible and arduous duties. We shall therefore hurry on to 
the statement of those historical events in which he is to take his real 
position as the ruler of great events in the history of nations. 

His first appearance in the British parliament, was when he made 
a very eloquent speech in defence of Hastings. It was in 1805, that 
he was appointed to succeed lord Cornwallis, as governor-general of 
India ; a station of such high responsibility so complicated with 
difficulties and embarrassments, and involving a state of things so full 
of emergency to British interests, and severe and delicate responsibi- 
lity to the governor that the appointment may well be regarded as 
displaying the high character which lord Mornington must have 
then acquired, while his acceptance of it in some degree indicates the 
courage and firmness of his character. To understand this, the 
reader has only to call to mind the history of India for the few previ- 
ous years. 

W r e have already stated, as fully as the purposes of this history re- 
quire, the origin of the British settlements in Hindostan, and the 
course of policy by which it had been extended and confirmed. In 
that policy, there was a singular combination of the most flagrant in- 
justice, with the most unbending and stern necessity, such as to render 
it a question of the most embarrassing nature to assign the precise 
equitable result of praise, acquittal, or condemnation, in pronouncing 
on the policy employed, or on the merits of those who were its authors. 
There can be no doubt that evil consequences were prevented, and a cer- 
tain amount of good secured, by evil means ; that crimes were punished 
by crimes, and wrongs redressed by wrongs; but it must also be allow- 
ed, that when, by whatever means, the British empire had been firmly 
established in India, on the ordinary basis settled possession the 
rights and the lives of millions were not to be abandoned on grounds 
of principle, which, however specious in formal enunciation, had sub- 
stantially little application. Between the Indian princes and the 
colonies, there existed a commerce of injury, in which, on the part of 
the rajahs, the most extreme purposes of the most rancorous hostility 
were pursued under the most plausible professions of friendship. 
Always prompt to appeal to the most strict principles of right craft, 


treachery, and falsehood, were their undeviating rules of conduct, 
whether towards their subjects, their nearest kindred, or their strictest 
alliances ; there is not to be discerned the slightest trace of any prin- 
ciple, or any right affection, to render them the object of respect or 
trust. If referred to any standard of national justice, the application 
would have been partial, for they acknowledged none. If we refer to 
the principles of mere humanity, it may well be doubted on what 
ground they could have been pleaded for Hyder or his execrable son. 
When the rights and lives of British subjects had been embarked in a 
contest, which the artifice and dishonesty alone of these tyrants could 
have divested of the character of open war, it had become a peremp- 
tory obligation to protect them at every sacrifice, against enmities 
which rejected all restraint, and which were not to be subdued. Even 
looking back to the more extreme and difficult aspect of this question, 
as it respects the conduct and policy of Mr Hastings, the same 
reasoning must, to a considerable extent, be applicable; and however 
the strict rule of justice may condemn the line of conduct which estab- 
lished the empire of religion, humanity, and civilization, in so large 
a portion of the globe, this result, once attained, must be allowed to be 
one which the best ends of human existence require to be maintained at 
all risks, and at every cost. The ultimate end of that evil policy was 
beneficial, whether considered in relation to England or to India. And 
while, in its proximate results, much was to be condemned, and still more 
deplored; still it cannot but be viewed as one of the greatest advances 
which have been made in the social destinies of the human race. The 
visible progress of humanity has been largely connected with conquests ; 
and these, it ought to be observed, have been so often repeated in the 
history of every great nation, that there is a peculiar absurdity in the 
popular impression, founded on an illusory notion of the perpetuity of 
certain native immemorial rights. In the history of mankind, no such 
perpetuity is known. The native Indian had long before been subju- 
gated to the constraining yoke of Mahometan conquest; and was then 
labouring under the prostration of an iron and relentless tyranny, and 
by superstitious the most degrading, and the least liable to be removed 
by the advances of civilization. The British conquests were but a 
repetition of the common process, enforced by the irresistible control 
of circumstances. 

But however the philosopher or the philanthropist may impose on 
his own understanding by general views, and the exclusion of essen- 
tial facts, one thing must be finally admitted, that with the adminis- 
tration of Mr Hastings, the question ends. By his energy, sagacity, 
and unscrupulous zeal, the British empire in India was placed on the 
ordinary grounds of right. But much security was yet wanting: the 
settlements were surrounded by enemies, most treacherous and powerful, 
whose fatal and deadly purposes were always maturing under the cover 
of the friendliest professions ; who respected neither truth nor right, and 
regarded treaties but as the secure approaches of concealed hostility. 
Such an enemy was Tippoo, Sultan of Mysore. His empire had been 
considerably reduced in extent by the result of a severe struggle, in 
which lord Cornwallis, after a severe and sanguinary campaign, had 
besieged him in Seringapatam, the capital of his dominions, and com- 


pelled him to make large cessions of provinces which bordered closely 
on the domains of the British empire, or which were possessions of 
the allies of the Company. Though the territory of the Carnatic was 
thus rendered more secure, and the power of Tippoo considerably re- 
duced, he still remained master of the most wealthy and populous 
territory of the east, and of the most ample means and resources of 
war ; he was also fortified by caution, derived from the experience of 
two disastrous wars; and his unappeasable hostility w r as fixed and ani- 
mated by the fanaticism of his Mahometan creed : he firmly believed 
that he was destined to drive the European infidels from the east, and 
with this conviction he bent all his vast resources to repair and re-or- 
ganize his means of offence. But the British had taught him to look 
with respectful caution on the dangers to be braved : he had already 
been twice betrayed to the verge of utter ruin, by an over-san- 
guine reliance on his numerous cavalry, on his powerful artillery, 
and on the assurance of the European officers whom he had 
taken into his pay. He now resolved to await the most favourable 
opportunity for a blow, and to be prepared: his preparations were 
to be masked under various pretexts, and his animosity concealed by 
the fairest professions. He was not, indeed, trusted implicitly, for 
there was a uniformity of every vice in his character, which left but 
little scope for dissimulation ; yet the pretexts he put forth were well 
adapted for the purpose of deceit; they were corroborated by their 
seeming prudence, as his real interests were understood to be best con- 
sulted by the course he pretended to adopt, and his well-known abili- 
ties were cast into the wrong scale, when it was assumed that he was 
too wise to risk another war. Six years were thus allowed to p-ass, 
during which the conduct of the Sultan was becoming more and more 
calculated to awaken suspicion: nor had his plans been so guarded as to 
prevent the secret of his designs from transpiring, so that at last there 
was no doubt remaining, that he only awaited the favourable moment. 
This too had been, to all appearance, approaching. Many circum- 
stances had, in this interval, been turning in his favour. He had pre- 
served peace with the surrounding rajahs, and successfully employed 
all his cunning to gain friends among them. The war between 
England and France had given him every promise of a most effectual 
ally, and powerfully strengthened the European part of his forces. 
The most effective of the British allies in India, the Nizam, had suf- 
fered a material diminution of strength and territory. Tippoo, mean- 
while, had availed himself of the terrible resources of the most com- 
plete and effectual despotism ever known on earth, to repair his 
treasury, and complete the arms and defences of war. And now that 
many circumstances appeared to conspire in his favour, he was encour- 
aged by a strong persuasion that the champion of Destiny must now 
look, in a conjuncture so favourable, for the event decreed. 

It was the period when Bonaparte had led his well-known expedi- 
tion into Egypt, having among his plans the prospective view of at- 
tacking England in her Indian dominions ; and there is no doubt that 
such a contingency entered with no small consideration into the 
speculations of a prince so long-headed, and so congenial in his enmi- 
ties as Tippoo. He at this time received from the artful Corsican the 


following epistle: "Bonaparte to the most magnificent Tippoo Sul- 
tan, our greatest friend. You have learnt my arrival on the shores 
of the Red Sea, with a numerous and invincible army, wishing to de- 
liver you from the yoke of the English. I take this opportunity to 
testify my desire for some news relating to your political situation, by 
the way of Muscath and Morea. I wish you would send to Suez or 
to Cairo, an intelligent and confidential person, with whom I might 
confer. The Most High increase your power, and destroy your ene- 
n.ies." Tippoo, on his part, with the strongest professions of honesty 
and good faith to the British, was no less earnest to cultivate so pro- 
mising an alliance with their powerful enemy. In the previous year, 
he had sent his envoys to the French government in the Mauritius, of 
whose mission it was the object to levy men for the service of their mas- 
ter. The French governor there had no superfluous troops; but the 
Sultan's alliance was too important to be disregarded: his objects were 
identical with those of Bonaparte. A small and disorderly force was 
raised and embarked in a French frigate for Mangalore, where they 
arrived in April. A further instance of Tippoo's resolution and subtle 
policy is also to be noticed, as illustrative of the character of the man, 
and of the difficulties to be encountered by the British governor- 
general. The Nizam, or ruler of the Deccan, was understood to be 
in strict alliance with the English. Tippoo, availing himself of the 
pacific understanding as yet subsisting, entered into a plot with the 
French in his own service, to augment the European force of the Nizam, 
by the addition of large bodies of French soldiery secretly disaffected, 
and commanded by officers under his own pay ; and by raising this body 
above the Nizam's real force, to undermine him in his own dominion. 
In prosecution of this design, a force of 20,0(30 Europeans, chiefly 
French, was thus incorporated with the army of the Nizam. Another 
principal step of Tippoo, was his embassy to the powerful Shah of 
Cabul, the ruler of the Affghan tribes, recently so well-known to our 
Indian armies, and, like himself, a strict Mahometan, and full of animo- 
sity against the British. To the Shah he proposed a choice of two 
plans of co-operation, having a common end in the expulsion of the 
infidels, and a strong personal inducement in the subsequent spolia- 
tion, and, probably, division of the Deccan, and other territories, in 
which doubtless Tippoo proposed to himself to secure the lion's share. 
His negotiations with the French and other hostile powers had 
been, as we have said, trauspirin ; and terror had begun to awaken at 
Madras, and creep along the Carnatic, in i 798, wheu lord VVellesiey 
was chosen as one qualified to meet arid cope with a season of menac- 
ing emergency. It was indeed a position not to be courted, nor ac- 
cepted unless by one whose courage was above the power of all that 
could dishearten and terrify. It was well known how tardy and in- 
sufficient were the resources of the British government in India. How 
trying the emergencies which were suffered to arise, and how severe 
and invidious w r as the spirit of inquiry which would be sure to follow 
and scrutinize w hatever might be done under any circumstances. The 
responsibility which was to be placed between these dangers, was to be 
additionally burthened by the reluctance, the fear and incapacity of sub- 
ordinates. But lord Wellesley was armed with vigour, sagacity, deci- 


sion, promptitude, and firmness. His mind seems to have been framed 
for some great and imperial emergency to control the dull, captious, 
and reluctant subordinate, and defeat the art and treachery of enemies. 
Having on his way out, providentially met the Indian despatches at 
the Cape, he had the means of making himself entirely master of the 
state of affairs; and then, even at this early period of his office, he 
framed the plan of proceeding, which he afterwards effectively pursued ; 
a fact ascertained by his despatches from that place. 

This remarkable instance of a rare decision and promptitude of 
judgment, was as conspicuously qualified by the statesmanlike pru- 
dence, which was required by a complication of difficulties. He deter- 
mined to set out by maintaining the principles of justice and fair- 
ness so far as they were substantially applicable, and not to be 
cajoled by pretences and specious seemings, where they were not. 
The actual state of things he thoroughly comprehended; and on his ar- 
rival, entered on his course with the uncompromising decision which 
is always the result of clear apprehension. He had to meet the pre- 
judices and the timidity of persons in office; to make those efforts by 
negotiation and remonstrance, which must necessarily precede demon- 
strations of resistance to concealed hostility; and to counteract those 
preliminary expedients which were the preparations for the meditated 
aggression. These preliminaries were subjected to added difficulty 
and embarrassment by a fact which he soon discovered, that the 
financial resources at his disposal were insufficient for an immediate 
resort to arms. The campaign which would follow in the course 
which he meant to adopt, should, he thought, be pushed to its con- 
clusion within the season ; and the grounds for this are obvious 
enough, if it be only considered how powerful an amount of hostility 
was actually in the course of concentration, from the northern extreme 
of Cabul, to the powerful and inveterate Sultan of Mysore. Already 
the Shah was on his march towards Delhi. Most of the Indian 
princes, either from fear, ambition, or the influence of secret corrup- 
tion, were secretly on the watch to declare for Tippoo, whom they, 
at the same time, feared and detested. The presidency of Madras was 
unequal to meet the first shock of the Sultan, who could pour down his 
thousands on the Carnatic coasts, and nearly decide the war before 
resistance could well make the least effectual movement. 

Under these circumstances, lord Wellesley entered on a course of 
preparatory measures such as this juncture of circumstances required. 
To repair the dissolved and disorganized defences and army of Ma- 
dras, and form " so permanent a system of preparation and defence, 
as, while it tended to restore to the government of Fort St. George, 
with all possible dispatch, the power of repelling any act of aggres- 
sion on the part of Tippoo Sultaun, might ultimately enable him 
(lord Wellesley) to demand both a just indemnification for the expense 
which the Sultauu's violation of treaty had occasioned to the govern- 
ment of the East India Company, arid a reasonable security against 
the consequences of his recent alliance with the enemy."* With this 
view, as the same despatch informs us, in June, 17^8, he gave orders 

* Despatches. 


for the army to assemble on the coast of Coromandel. These orders 
appear to have met every obstacle from the fears of the principal 
authorities at Madras. But to these the governor opposed the power 
of his official authority; and put an end to a weak and unwise, but con- 
scientious resistance, by the gentle but peremptory declaration of his 
will. " If," he wrote in the orders of council, " we thought it proper 
to enter with you into any discussion of the policy of our late orders, 
we might refer you to the records of your own government, which 
furnish more than one example of the fatal consequences of neglecting 
to keep pace with the forwardness of the enemy's equipments, and of 
resting the defence of the Carnatic, in such a crisis as the present, on 
any other security than a state of early and active preparation for war. 
But being resolved to exclude all such discussions from the correspon- 
dence of the two governments, we shall only repeat our confidence in 
your zealous and speedy execution of those parts of the public service 
which fall within the direct line of your peculiar duty." 

In the mean time, the governor-general applied himself to the re- 
moval of the most intrinsically serious obstacle to success, in the insi- 
dious and dexterous contrivance, by which Tippoo had actually contrived 
to obtain a formidable military position in the dominions of the Nizam 
of the Deccan. An army of 13,000 Europeans, under the pretence of 
alliance, or of ostensible neutrality, was not to be allowed to remain 
without some step to obviate it. This step was taken with admirable 
dexterity. A treaty was concluded with the Nizam, for a large addition 
to the English force in his pay. Three thousand British were marched 
to the next British station, close to Hydrabad, the Nizam's capital; 
and on the conclusion of the treaty, they were inarched thither, and 
joined by a large squadron of the native cavalry. Happily, a mutiny 
had just broken out among the French; the opportunity was promptly 
seized; they were surrounded, disarmed, and marched off to Calcutta, 
and shipped thence to France. The effect of this masterly demon- 
stration was immediate, and widely influential: it was felt and under- 
stood through India, and conveyed to all her princes a sensation of 
terror and respect. It likewise operated to restore the courage and 
confidence of the irresolute and prejudiced councils and officers of the 
presidencies. The Nizam was thus strengthened against the other- 
wise certain destruction which menaced him, and the Hrst and strongest 
approach was strengthened against the enemy. 

It does not belong to this memoir to follow out the particulars of 
the campaign which so soon ensued, and we shall only state the main 
results. The governor-general, when he had disposed and arranged his 
resources to the utmost, and taken all those well-devised and compre- 
hensive precautions which his means afforded, or his considerate 
understanding could suggest, clearly saw that the time to act with 
decision was come. The impatience of Tippoo was at its height, and 
he was likely to take the initiative, which might lead to disastrous 
consequences. The British armaments were only to be sustained at 
an expense, for which the resources at the governor-general's disposal 
were not more than barely adequate, and all circumstances showed 
that the moment for overt hostility was come. Lord Wellesley, there- 
fore, took the indispensable lirst step, before he could have recourse to 


arms. He wrote to the tyrant of Mysore, and told him that he was 
aware of his various acts of a hostile character. He then apprized him 
of the success of the English arms in the Nile of the alliance with the 
Nizam, and the termination of the French influence and force in the 
Deccan the presence of an English fleet on the Malabar coast and 
such other facts of similar weight, which tended to show that there 
could be no prospect of French aid either from France or Egypt. 
Trusting to the effect of these communications, he proposed that the 
Sultan should receive major Doveton, whom he would send instructed 
duly for an amicable arrangement. To facilitate the proposed inter- 
course, the governor then proceeded to Madras, and on his arrival 
received Tippoo's answer one, it is now needless to say, plainly 
stamped with the marks of duplicity. On Tippoo's part, the point of 
moment was the evasion of the proposed mission. This, it must be ob- 
served, was a test from which alone no doubt could remain of his 
intentions. Lord Wellesley instantly wrote a second letter, repeating 
this proposal, and urging a reply within one day. After three weeks 
had elapsed, the reply came, that the Sultan was about to go hunting, 
and would receive major Doveton, if he came " slightly attended." The 
drift of this evasion was too plain to leave any doubt ; but in the inter- 
val, lord Wellesley, with a thorough apprehension of the mind and the 
proceedings of the Sultan, and determined not to let him gain the ad- 
vantage of delay his obvious design had sent on the advanced 
guard of the British, with directions to proceed into the territory of 
Mysore, and at the same time took the steps necessary to put in mo- 
tion, or to place on their guard, the other divisions of the British and 
his allies. 

It was immediately discovered, as lord Wellesley had foreseen, that 
Tippoo's forces were already assembled, and in preparation for the 
reception of an enemy. It was plain that, if not invaded, he had been 
on the start to invade ; and it may be inferred that his march was only 
checked by the approach of the Malabar army under general Stewart. 
From a hill they were seen forming their encampment between See- 
daseer and Seringapatam. Having the advantage of concealed positions, 
in a very difficult region of hills and forests, they were enabled to 
g-ain the advantage of coming unexpectedly on a division of the Bri- 
tish, and attacking them simultaneously both in front and rear, before 
more than the three corps they thus engaged could come up the 
remaining corps being intercepted by another body of the Sultan's 
troops. In this formidable emergency, the troops of the presidency 
remained till next da^ ; and, completely surrounded, they only defend- 
ed themselves by the most desperate valour. Their intrinsic supe- 
riority sustained them against overwhelming numbers, until general 
Stewart came to their relief with the flank companies of the 75th and 
77th regiments. The engagement was fiercely renewed ; and after 
half an hour, Tippoo's men gave way and fled through the jungle, 
leaving the British conquerors, but completely exhausted from the 
fatigue of this severe struggle. 

Immediately after this affair, a junction was formed between this 
division and the main army, notwithstanding the efforts of Tippoo, who 
endeavoured to prevent it by laying waste the villages and country on 


their line of march. Pie did not, however, extend this destructive 
operation sufficiently for the purpose; and, by a slight deviation, the 
British general (Harris) reached the end of his march without inter- 
ruption. Tippoo was too shrewd not to be aware, that his chance in 
the field was thus reduced to nothing, and that his trust lay in the 
strength of his capital, which he knew they would attack, and thought 
might defy their force. He therefore directed his flight thither, 
with the remains of his beaten army. 

In about a week from the engagement mentioned above, the British 
were encamped before Seringapatam. This was on the 16th of April. 
On the 30th their batteries were opened: in a few days there was 
effected a considerable breach. The assault was made in the heat of 
the day, at the time when least resistance was to be expected. The 
attack was completely successful; and the town was soon in the pos- 
session of the British. Tippoo was found after a long search, lying 
under heaps of dead, and wounded in five places. 

In the meantime, the menaced invasion from the northern Affghan- 
istan power was prevented; and a most imminent danger warded from 
British India, by the well-directed force which the governor-general 
had previously sent into the principality of Oude, with the double 
view to intercept the Shah, who, according to the suggestion of Tip- 
poo, had marched to Delhi, and of checking the movements of Scindia, 
whose hostility was well known. 

The fail of Tippoo gave occasion for effecting more completely the 
system of arrangement, by which alone the security of the eastern 
empire, and the peace of India, could be placed on a footing of toler- 
able security. The Indian princes, while they exercised the most 
grinding despotism over their subjects, were utterly devoid of all sense 
of honour, faith, and truth; arid this, not so much from any peculiar 
depravity of nature, as from the character of their religion, education, 
and habits. They did not really recognize the feelings nor the princi- 
ples by which European transactions are formally governed, and which 
are the recognized basis of all public proceedings and compacts: they 
had but learn ed the language. In their dealings with Europeans, they 
had recourse to this language, but acted on principles of far more lati- 
tude; by means of which, while they never failed to appeal to the ele- 
mentary maxims of right and justice, they had no scruple in setting 
them aside, when the opportunity offered. The conduct of the strictest 
public bodies, and the most upright governments, and of all men, but a 
few individuals of the highest order of mind, is little to be trusted when 
great advantages can be gained by deviation from the strictness of 
justice. This, at least, we freely concede. But these splendid barbaric 
despots, under whom the East lay prostrate, knew no control of prin- 
ciple, save the deadly and uncivilizing superstitions which maintained 
their own rule by the degradation of mankind. There was, indeed, no 
room for the recognition of any other. Under their sway, there existed 
no rights or no interests worth question; the people were but as the 
fruit of the soil, an ignoble and unrespected possession, mere tillers, who 
were barely allowed a poor subsistence from the ground they cultivated 
ior their sovereign. \Vith regard to each other, there was one, and but 
one, system of reciprocity, clearly understood and uniformly observed 


that of taking every advantage which falsehood, craft, and unscru- 
pulous murders in every form could gain whether it was to usurp a 
neighbour's throne, or that of a father or brother, by whatever horrible 
expedients (such as fill their history,) and make the earlier records of 
the " gorgeous East," a romance of blood a frightful collection of 
" tales of terror." 

Towards this wretched confederacy of uncivilized tyrants, we must 
repeat, it was essential to maintain the rules of European policy, only 
so far as they were applicable. There was no ground in the more gen- 
eral considerations of humanity, why they should be respected or even 
endured. The fundamental law alone, which secures existing posses- 
sion, was their equitable protection, and could not be violated without 
adequate ground in the same elementary code. But this, their own 
falsehood and treachery amply afforded. There was no genuine ground 
for the questions which a humane but ignorant and inconsiderate Op- 
position suggested, on this occasion. By the results of war, and by 
the still more justifiable results of courses of lawless policy, the domi- 
nions of the Eastern potentates had been placed at the discretion of 
the British empire in ludia (for thus it should be stated). Under 
these circumstances, there can be no fair doubt that the British em- 
pire, now the main part of India, was in the first place, bound to act 
on the great primary law of self-protection. It was not to be 
heard that this great and civilized empire, by which the interests and 
safety of fifteen millions as well as the progress of civilization, freedom, 
and true religion in Asia depended, was to be risked and betrayed 
for the advantage of some half dozen miserable tyrants of the worst 
description, that they might be allowed to conspire against each other, 
to crush the wretched Hindoos, and confederate for the destruction of 
the British. But on this question, as on many others, fallacious no- 
tions had been engendered by the previous agitation of another ques- 
tion, which, though essentially distinct in all its bearings, applied to 
the same subject. The rules of one, and still more the feelings, were 
applied to the other. It has been the noble distinction of England to 
lead the way in all the great measures of humanity, and its errors are 
entitled to respect. But the charges against Warren Hastings and 
his predecessors involved precisely that violation for beneficial ends 
it is true of rights which, however their force may be settled, had in 
this later period either changed their character, or entirely ceased to 
exist. The power exercised by the British government, was become 
a just, and even a conceded right. The territories appropriated were 
fairly won in self-defensive war: the princes interfered with were 
some of them only existing by the protection of the British; and the 
rest either convicted enemies, or unable to maintain themselves with- 
out danger to the empire. And these are all recognised cases of 
international law in which interposition becomes authorized. These 
observations are only here offered to those to whom the consideration 
has not previously occurred. We do not believe that any doubts now 
remain on this class of questions; and those which were entertained, 
or pretended by party opposition, were even then silenced by the good 
sense and just feeling of all parties. 

The governor-general took advantage, as we have said, of the fall 

VOL. vi. s 


of Tippoo, to carry into effect his plan for the radical correction of 
the false and vicious system, under which there vas neither security 
for the British empire from the incessant recurrence of the same ex- 
pensive and calamitous wars, nor for the Rajahs, from the consequences 
of their own turbulence, craft, and weakness. The Mahratta war, 
which followed the conquest of Mysore, protracted and delayed 
the more full completion of this new arrangement, by which the 
Indian princes were thenceforward to place the military depart- 
ment of their establishments under the command and authority of 
the British government, allotting for the purpose a sufficient portion 
of their revenues; and retaining only the civil government of their 
respective provinces. 

Of the Mahratta war, it would be impossible to give an account 
suitable to its importance and interest, within the space which can 
here be afforded. Five chiefs of provinces had managed, by the usual 
resources of the East the weakness of their sovereign, and the facility 
of rebellion to raise principalities for themselves in five western pro- 
vinces of the Deccan, and protected themselves by a mutual league. 
The vast dominion cemented by this compact amounted to nearly nine 
hundred miles square. They were among the most warlike and tur- 
bulent princes of the East, and the most alert to seize on each occa- 
sion of hostility to the British. A population of forty millions, 
i nabled them to maintain armies amounting to four hundred thousand 
und upwards. As may well be conjectured by the reader, the harmony 
of such a union of turbulence and intrigue, was by no means undis- 
turbed: among these potentates there went on an incessant strife for 
the supremacy. Their principal object was severally to obtain pos- 
session of the authority of the Peishwa, or prince of Poonah, who 
was the least in point of strength, but who had the advantage of deriv- 
ing his title by descent from the first founder of their union, whose 
paramount sovereignty they all pretended to recognise. As the 
usurpation, thus intrigued for, would, by the concentration of so large 
an empire, be dangerous to the British dominion, it was the policy of 
the government to prevent such a result, by maintaining the balance 
among them; and for this purpose, the course pursued was to add 
strength to the Peishwa, and to maintain with him a strict alliance. 
With such views, on the fall of Tippoo, a considerable addition was 
made to his territory; and he was recognised in every treaty as the 
sovereign of the Mahratta confederacy. These wise precautions were, 
however, entirely defeated by the successful efforts of Scindia (one 
of the five), who kept the Peishwa in such complete subjection that 
he not only could not fulfil his engagements to the British, but was 
even compelled to refuse their favours. 

Such was the position of affairs among the Mahrattas, when dis- 
turbances arose among them, which it would be foreign from our 
immediate purpose to relate. A war sprang up between Holkar and 
fecindia, the former of whom marched against the Peishwa, who ap- 
plied for protection to the governor-general. As the result of his fall 
must, in all probability, have been soon followed by the ascendency of 
Ilolkar, it was evidently an occasion of the most pressing emergency; 
and therefore immediate stops were taken, which led to the commence- 


ment of that war, which is rendered so well known in military history 
by the subsequent renown of one of the able and successful commanders, 
under whom it was brought to a favourable conclusion, after a glorious 
and hard-fought campaign. As this most brilliant succession of dis- 
tinguished vi'ctories and of most able arrangements, could not be even 
summarily described in less than twenty added pages, we must be con- 
tent to say that it was in the month of February, 1804, that peace was 
proclaimed with the Mahratta chiefs, on terms accommodated to the 
general system of pacification arranged by lord Wellesley. 

The inhabitants of Calcutta, necessarily impressed with a sense of 
the importance of the success of this comprehensive and masterly 
measure, voted a subscription for a marble statue of the governor- 
general, whose promptness, wisdom, and firmness, had thus finally 
crowned the series of distinguished achievements which had raised 
our Indian empire, by settling it on a broad foundation of power and 
beneficence. At home, he received the honourable distinction of the 
order of the Bath, and the thanks of parliament. 

These splendid results were scarcely less deserving of praise than 
the mild and steady progress of improvement in the civil and con- 
stitutional state of the entire country thus secured from the dangers of 
incessant invasion. The administration of justice, of the internal po- 
lice, the morals of the people, the interests of knowledge, and still 
more of education, obtained lord Wellesley 's attention and unremitting 
care. Ever singularly regardless of selfish considerations, his whole 
heart and entire resources were freely devoted to the great purpose 
of consolidating the empire, and adding to the happiness and welfare 
of the people. Into details we cannot enter. While his sagacity 
was confirmed by results of the most comprehensive and permanent 
kind, his disinterestedness was also attested by acts of munificence, 
which are subject to no mistake. He proved his superiority to the 
low temptation of wealth, by relinquishing 100,000, his share of the 
spoils of Tippoo, to the army ; and came home not advanced in any- 
thing but honour, and the satisfaction of having done good on an im- 
perial scale. 

Though his services did not secure unqualified approbation, they 
were rated justly by wise and honest men. On coming home, an. 
attempt to impeach him had but the effect of drawing forth universal 
testimony to his high deserts. In the commencement of 1806 he 
returned, when the death of Mr Pitt had the effect of reducing the 
Tory party to a state of disorganization ; and a protracted series of 
intrigues and abortive negotiations to construct an administration out 
of the leaders and the debris of both, continued for several months. 
The members of Mr Pitt's government applied, with the king's con- 
sent, to the marquis Wellesley, who declined to make an attempt of 
which he saw all the difficulties. In the following session, Sir Philip 
Francis moved for his impeachment. Sir Philip was desirous to 
make a grand display on Indian administration, as he was still excited 
by a hope that he might himself be sent out as governor-general. 
But there was too strong a feeling in favour of the marquis; and the 
more respectable members of eithrr party, with the exception, we 
believe, of Mr Fox, discountenanced u jarty prosecution so gratui- 


tously vexatious. The marquis held himself aloof in the scramble for 
place, to which his large intellect and refined tastes were repugnant, 
until 1809- In this year, when the country had been led to increased 
efforts in the great struggle in which it was then embarked, it was 
proposed by Mr Canning to bring the marquis into the cabinet as 
secretary at war, instead of lord Castlereagh, out of which arose a 
misunderstanding and a duel between those two statesmen. 

In the same year, the marquis w 7 as by much entreaty induced to go 
as envoy extraordinary to Spain, where the greatest detriment to the 
service had occurred from the utter incapacity of Mr Frere. Towards 
the close of the year he returned, and was appointed foreign secre- 
tary in place of Mr Canning, when lord Liverpool succeeded lord 
Castlereagh in the war and colonial office. We find him at this time, 
with great and striking oratorical excellence vindicating his brother 
and the conduct of the war. against the powerful faction among the 
v.higs, which then were violent in the opposition; and though Can- 
ning and Croker were among the distinguished defenders of the war, 
there does not appear to have been any speech produced by the occa- 
sion deserving of comparison with that of lord Wellesley. Among the 
whigs, the war had been unpopular from the well-known principles of 
their party ; but it is specially to be observed that their opposition was at 
this time exasperated by impatience of a contest which, while it was at- 
tended with a heavy expenditure of public money, seemed to promise no 
decided result. In a word, they did not understand the actual position 
of affairs in the peninsula, and seemed warranted by the precedents of 
a quarter of a century, in drawing unfavourable inferences from the 
tedious movements of a protracted campaign. They did not know 
the real difficulties which it required time and steady patience as 
well as first-rate ability to surmount, nor had they any adequate 
notion of the abilities which were engaged in the task. They did 
not know, what they might have known the inadequacy of the 
means applied, at a time when the utmost liberality should have been 
exerted to further the crisis of this great struggle. The great com- 
mander to whom Europe is indebted for delivery from the progress of 
a disorganization of which it is hard to say the end, had to strive 
against all imaginable odds a parsimonious and niggardly supply of 
the necessaries of war the stubborn and wrong-headed interferences, 
peculation, and remissuess of the rabble of official persons, civil or 
military, with whom he was compelled to act; so that his friends were 
actually more formidable than the numerous, brave, and well-com- 
manded army against whom he was to direct his little force. All this 
was not rightly understood, until the success of our troops made the 
knowledge late. Such indeed is always in some degree the ignorance 
which exists in the opposition party, and sometimes in both, when the 
scene of action or the country which is the object of legislative measures 

tf J 

is remote, or even beyond the ordinary compass of immediate personal 

In 1812, when the restrictions on the Regency were on the point 
of expiring, and there arose an interval of distraction, uncertainty, 
and apprehension, among the holders and the expectants of office, the 
Uiarquis tendered his resignation. The regent requested of him_to 


retain his place provisionally, until he should himself be placed at 
liberty. Into the causes of the marquis's wish to resign, and the in- 
trigues of those who were his personal enemies, it is not necessary to 
enter. It will be enough to say, that it appears that the result of 
these circumstances was contrary to what might have been expected 
and desired to establish Mr Fercival in place, and confirm the mar- 
quis in his determination to resign. On tendering his resignation 
the second time, he was requested by the prince to state his opinion 
as to the changes advisable in the plans of administration. The 
marquis recommended a satisfactory settlement of the claims of the 
Romanists in Ireland, ami a more efficient prosecution of the war. 
His resignation was then accepted. 

In 1822, he succeeded earl Talbot in Ireland, and produced bene- 
ficial effects on the agitated temper of the country, by the adoption of 
a line of conduct in which a liberal and impartial spirit was carried 
to the utmost extent consistent with fairness or sound policy. The 
marquis undoubtedly discerned the great changes, in point of number, 
weaiih, and civilization, which seemed to call tor and admit a relax- 
ation of the political restraints which the necessity of earlier times 
had compelled; but he did not see the counteracting impulses which 
still survived in the mind of a nation retentive of traditionary wrong, 
prone to excitement, susceptible of perverted prejudices and vindic- 
tive passions, and exposed to bra v\ ling misrepresentation. He did 
not observe those courses of public feeling which showed a temper of 
unbounded and insatiable requisition, and a spirit which could be 
satisfied with nothing less than a vindictive superiority. These indi- 
cations were not then indeed fully understood by the leaders of the 
popular party in this country. Nor even yet would they be as fully 
apparent as they have become, were it not for the profound revela- 
tions of journalists and parliamentary orators. But we are treading 
on dangerous ground. The marquis was recalled in 1828, on the ac- 
cession of the Tories. In 1830, he accepted the appointment of lord 
steward in the household. In 1833, he came back to the vicerovaltv 

/ / 

of Ireland, which he resigned in the following year. 

On the subsequent political career of marquis Wellesley, it is not 
within the plan of this work to enter at length. He was twice lord 
lieutenant of Ireland : the history of these two administrations could 
only be intelligibly discussed at very considerable length. That the 
reader may be satisfied that such is the case, we have only to observe, 
that our ordinary plan of simply adhering to such outlines of leading 
events as may be deemed matter for history, (in the strict sense,) 
would, in the case of very recent events, satisfy no one who could be 
supposed to look into works of this nature. The detailed history of 
parties in Dublin would be the proper material of our memoir, thus 
composed. Nor are we quite sure that our own personal politics 
could wholly be prevented from colouring the narrative; at least we 
know of no narrative which escapes the force of such an objection. 
In Ireland, the marquis maintained his character for high impartiality, 
and vigorous efficiency; he was by far the ablest of those whom we 
have seen in the same station. We cannot, however, pay him a coin- 


pliment, which we think due to none, that of a full and adequate com- 
prehension of the state or of the interests of Ireland. 

\Vhile he was here the second time, he married his second wife, an 
American lady, and widow of Mr Paterson. 

He might, had lie so desired, have continued to hold his high sta- 
tion ; but was actuated by a principle of consistency. He returned, 
and took a leading and effectual part in turning out the Tories. The 
base and unprincipled party which he served, were assuredly unworthy, 
as they showed themselves unconscious of his services. Lord Brougham 
relates, " On their accession to power, I have heard him say, he re- 
ceived the first intimation that he was not to return to Ireland from 
one of the doorkeepers of the House of Lords, whom he overheard, 
as he passed, telling another of my friends lord Mulgrave's appoint- 


After his return, we hear little of him as a public man. The same 
high and comprehensive character of mind which fitted him for ins 
Indian administration, and perhaps unfitted him for the very peculiar 
civil atmosphere of Ireland, also predisposed him unfavourably for the 
narrow scope and party tactics of parliamentary warfare in England. 
He remained aloof, preserving a social intercourse with the best and 
most enlightened persons of every side, and indulging in those studies 
for which his talents were of the highest order. 

The lofty firmness of the marquis's moral temper, and his high 
and statesmanlike disregard of popular opinion, and of low calumny, 
is fully exemplified, by a well authenticated statement made by lord 
Brougham, which shows him to have continued eight years silent 
under the reproaches and bitter invectives of those whom he was un- 
remittingly toiling to serve, and that in opposition to his nearest anil 
dearest personal friends. On this we must be silent, as it would in- 
volve us in the necessity of a protracted discussion, or, what were 
worse, the brief and hurried outline of an argument imperfectly 
stated ; but may refer to lord Brougham's admirable sketch.* 

Of lord Wellesley, as an orator and a writer, we are far from possess- 
ing information sufficient to speak otherwise than very generally. \Y e 
may, however, refer the reader to two very accessible sources of in- 
formation, of both of which we shall here avail ourselves a little Lord 
Brougham's Historical Sketches, and an article in the Quarterly lie- 
view, for March, 1840. 

Oil the first point, the following extract will interest the reader. 
" The excellence of lord Wellesley 's speeches has been mentioned; the 
taste which he had formed from study of the great Greek exemplar, 
kept him above all tinsel and vulgar ornaments, and made him 
zealously hold fast by the purity of our language; but it had not 
taught him the virtue of conciseness: and he who knew the vtgi rov 
crtpavov by heart, and always admitted its unmeasurable superiority 
to the second Philippic, and the Pro Milone, yet formed his own style 
altogether upon the Roman model. That style, indeed, was consider- 
ably diffuse; and the same want of compression, the same redundancy 

* Historical Sketchc.-s vol. iii. 


of words, accompanied, however, by substantial though not always 
needful sense, was observable, though much less observable, in his 
poetical pieces, which generally possessed very high excellence. It is 
singular to mark the extraordinary contrast which his thoughts and 
his expressions presented in this respect. There was nothing super- 
fluous or roundabout in his reasoning, nothing dilatory or feeble in 
the conceptions which produced his plans. He saw his object at once, 
and, with intuitive sagacity, he saw it in its true colours and real 
dimensions; he at one glance espied the path, and the shortest path 
that led to it; he in an instant took that path, and reached his end. 
The only prolixity that he ever fell into was in explaining or defend- 
ing the proceedings thus concisely and rapidly taken. To this some 
addition was not unnaturally made by the dignity which the habits of 
vice-regal state made natural to him, and the complimentary style 
which, if a very little tinctured with oriental taste, was very much 
more the result of a kindly and generous nature." 

From this period the life of marquis Wellesley is not to be traced in 
the sphere of political party ; but was, as we understand, mainly devoted 
to the retired and tranquil pursuits which he loved, and for which he 
was eminently qualified. Among his friends, men of congenial tastes 
and accomplishments, and his books, he enjoyed those studies and 
that intercourse of mind, which, next to the contemplation of past 
good deeds, can give such ease and such dignity as old age may derive 
from temporal circumstances. Si vero habet aliquod tamquam pabu- 
lum studii, atqtfe doctrincp, nihil est otiosa senectute jucundius. The 
source of enjoyment thus asserted by the wisest of the Romans, eminently 
belonged to the marquis. And, like Cato, into whose mouth the 
sentiment has been put by Cicero, the marquis seems, from lord 

Brousrham's account, to have, in the last vears of his life, amused him- 

. . **. 

self with the study of Greek in the orations of Demosthenes, which, 

though seemingly congenial to the character of his own genius, he 
had in some degree neglected in his earlier studies. 

The pursuits of the last retirement of the marquis are, like the 
achievements of his public life, fortunately not without their monu- 
ment. A small volume of Latin poems, dedicated to lord Brougham, 
and published in the author's eightieth year, sufficiently prove that 
he would have been as distinguished in the cultivation of letters as he 
was in the government of states. Of the verses we cannot here 
speak so fully as they deserve : but we shall endeavour to make amends 
by an extract which shall close this account. It was in the year 1839 
his lordship took the villa of Fernside, near Windsor. As this natu- 
rally led to excursions among the haunts of his early years, when a 
scholar in Eton, his notice was on some such occasion attracted by a 
weeping willow which hung over the bank of the Thames. Recollect- 
ing its known origin, that it had been brought in the last century 
from the banks of the Euphrates, near Babylon the " waters of Baby- 
lon" he composed the following exquisite piece. 

" Pas.^is moesta cornis, formosa doloris imago 

Qua; flenci siniilis, pendet in amne Salix, 
Euphratis nata in ripa Babylone sub alta 

Dicitur Ilebreas sustinuisse lyras ; 


Cum, terra ignota, Proles Solymea refngit 

Divinum Patrise jussa movere melos ; 
Suspeasisque lyris, <fc luctu muta, sedebat, 

In lacrymis memorans Te, reverende Sion ! 
Te dilecta Sion ! frustra sacraia Jehova? 

Te prsD^enti yEdes irradiata Deo ! 
Jsunc pede barbarico, et maaibus temerata profanis, 

Nunc orbata Tuis, et taciturna Doinus ! 
At tu, pulchra Salix, Thamesiai littoris hospes, 

Sis sacra, et nubis pignora sacra feras ; 
Qua cecidit ludica, mones, captiva sub ira, 

Victricem stravit Quse Babylona manus ; 
Inde, doces, sacra et ritus servare Parentum, 

Juraque, et antiqua vi stabilire Fidern. 
Me quoties curas suadent lenire seniles 

Umbra Tua, et viridi ripa beata toro 
Sit mibi, primitiasque meas, teriuesque triumphos, 

Sit revocare tuos dulcis Etona! dies. 
Auspice te, sum rare mirari culmina famse, 

Et purum antique lucis adire jubar 
Edidici puer, et, jam primo in limine vitse, 

Ingeauas veroc laudis aiaare vias. 
O juncta Aonidum lauro, prsecepta Salutis 

^Eternje ! et Musis consociata Fides ! 

Felix Doctrinal et divina insita luce! 

Q,UJB tuleras animo lumina fausta meo: 
Incorrupta, precor maneas, atque integra, heu te 

Aura regat populi, heu novitatis amor. 
Stet quoque prisca Domus; (neque enim manus impia tangat); 

Floreat in mediis intemerata miais; 
Det patribus patres, Populoque det inclyta cives 

Eloquiumque Foro, Judiciisque decus, 
Conciliiwque aaimos, magaa;que det ordine Ger.ti 

Immortalem alta cum pietate Fidem. 
Floreat, intacta per postera secula fama, 

Cura diu Patrise, cura paterna Dei. 

It would be difficult to give this exquisite poem higher praise than 
it deserves; nor is it needful to point out to the classical or poetical 
reader all the beautiful propriety of its allusions, or (what is far more 
remarkable) the deep vein of uncorrupted fancy and feeling, preserved 
from the brightest and purest fountain of the youthful affections, which 
glows through every line of a composition at the advanced age of 
eighty. Nor can it be required to dwell upon the evidences it bears 
of the Christian studies and habits of feeling, which indicate that this 
noble and high heart was cheered in its latter days by still happier 
consolations, and led by purer lights and more immortal hopes than 
the muse of Greece or the literature of Rome. 

The marquis died not long after the publication of the little book 
from which the foregoing poem is taken, and was buried in West- 
minster Abbey. 


Bentral &usf)t t CF&icf justice, 

BORN 17G7 - DIED 1843. 

THE end of the last century, though far behind the present time in 
public intelligence and in the advancement of real knowledge, was 
vet as far beyond it in that loftier cultivation of the heart and reason 
among the higher classes, which constituted the finished gentleman, 
the accomplished man of letters, or the powerful orator. Not, indeed, 
that this pre-eminence was generally diffused among the wealthier 
classes, but while there existed among the lowest ranks a perfect 
barbarism, and among the rural gentry a rude and uncultivated con- 
dition as to habits of life and general attainment, there was among 
the higher aristocracy, the university, the bar, and the parliamentary 
leading men, a sedulous cultivation of elegant literature, of the re- 
finements and graces of language, of the popular methods of address, 
as well as of the exercise of the whole art of forensic eloquence, such 
as has not since been remotely approached ; nor, considering the changes 
which have since taken place in knowledge and manners, is likely to be 
again attained. In England, our illustrious countryman, Burke, had, 
with all his unrivalled power, raised his testimony against Indian oppres- 
sion or domestic improvidence, and warned his country and mankind 
against the rising storms of French revolution " Shook the arsenal 
and fulmin'd over Greece" followed by the brilliant and celebrated 
me.n of either party, whose names are still so familiar. In Ireland, 
Grattan and his powerful contemporaries were only less famous, be- 
cause they had a narrower stage, and less elevated parts to play. 
Emanating from this splendid competition of men of the highest gifts, 
there were in different circles of society bright expansions of in- 
tellectual light, of greater or less compass and spirit according to the 
local combination and social influence of some one or more central 
minds; but there was no spot within the country or the kingdom 
more conspicuous for its high and elegant cultivation than the county 
of Kilkenny. The county of Flood and of Langrishe, had long 
been eminent for the distinguished refinement of its social habits, and 
for the cultivation of every elegant and graceful art; under the in- 
fluence of a few accomplished families, it had become the Attica of 
Ireland, and this pre-eminence was long maintained by a succession of 
distinguished men. To this effect the residence of several wealthy 
proprietors contributed ; and family connections added to this illus- 
trious circle the choicest mind of other places: by the intermarriage 
of his sister with Mr Bushe. of Kilfane, as well as by his early ac- 
quaintance with Mr Flood, Mr Grattan became a frequent and in- 
timate associate in a circle thus distinguished by the union of those 
qualities which give a charm and grace to society, and are so fa- 
vourable to the development of the mind. Such were the auspices, 
and such the time and place from which we are to date the illustrious 
career of the late Charles Kendal Bushe, a name too honourable to 
derive illustration from any title, or from any distinction in the gift of 


The ancestry of the Bushe family may be traced far into the 
heraldry of England, and is variously connected with that of the most 
respectable families in their part of Ireland. Of the Irish family, 
the founder came over as secretary in the time of William III., under 
the vice-regency of lord Carteret. They acquired, by grant or pur- 
chase, large possessions in the county of Kilkenny, and resided in the 
family mansion of Kilfane ; in the present, or rather the now passing- 
generation, this seat was transferred by sale to the late Sir John Power, 
baronet, who married Harriet, daughter to Gervase Parker Bushe, of 
Kilfane. A few steps of this lineage will be acceptable to many 
readers of the present memoir. 

In the end of the 17th century, the then Mr Bushe, of Kilfane, 
married Eleanor, sister to Sir Christopher Wandesford, who was 
created viscount Wandesford in 1707- By this lady he had (among 
other children) two sons, Amyas and Arthur; of these, the elder 
inherited Kilfane, and was the immediate ancestor of the Kilfane 
branch. To Arthur, his father gave Kilmurry, being a small estate 
separated from the family demesne. 

The Reverend Thomas Bushe, eldest son to Arthur Bushe, of 
Kilmurry, married Katharine Doyle, sister to the late general Sir 
John Doyle, long governor of Guernsey, and well known as the gal- 
lant colonel of the brave 87th. Sir John was also very universally 
known for his rare command of wit and humour, for the eloquence of 
his speeches and addresses in the Irish parliament, and afterwards in 
the India House; and was very much distinguished by the favour 
of George IV., who was so eminent a judge of character and social 
talent. Of his peculiar style of humour we can only afford an in- 
stance. Once w r hen he had the honour of dining at Carlton house, a 
gentleman was entertaining the prince and his company with a lively 
account of some adventures which he had met on his travels; 
among- other wonders, he gave a lively description of some monstrous 
bug, on the marvellous properties and exploits of which he dwelt with ail 
the eloquence of Munchausen. " Pray, Sir John," said the prince, ad- 
dressing the baronet, "have you any such bugs in Ireland?" Sir John 
replied, " They are quite common, I can assure your highness, we call 
them humbugs in Ireland." The sister of this worthy baronet, though 
less widely known, was not less remarkable for her superior under- 
standing, her refined and polished wit and taste, and her knowledge 
of that literature which was then cultivated bv the highest minds. 

J O 

She lived to a very old age, and had the gratification of seeing her 
gifted son Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. She was still, at that ex- 
treme period of her life, very remarkable for her graceful manner, 
the elegance of her easy play of allusion, and the youthful brilliancy 
of her fine eyes. She was equally observable for the fine tone of high 
and generous feeling, which often reminded us of some dignified matron 
of the Cornelian race: there was about her person, manner, and style 
of conversation, much to verify and illustrate the frequent remark, how 
often the most illustrious men have been indebted to the virtues and 
talents of their mothers. 

Not long, we believe, after his marriage with this lady, Mr Bushe 
i ccepted of the chaplaincy of Mitchelstown; and having fallen into 


considerable pecuniary embarrassments, was compelled to alienate 
Kilmurry for the liquidation of debts which had been chiefly the 
result of an unfortunate passion for building. Previous to this occur- 
rence, two children, Elizabeth, and afterwards Charles Kendal, the 
subject of our narrative, were born, the latter in 1 767. He received 
the name of Kendal in honour of a Mr Kendal, who had bequeathed 
to his father the neighbouring demesne of Mount Juliet, which his 
father had a little before let to lord Carrick. After removing to 
Mitchelstown, Mr Bushe had five other children. 

Of the early education of Charles Kendal Bushe, we have no very 
precise details to offer, and shall not load our pages with those which 
can amount to no more than generalities. In his fourth year, he 
was sent to Mr Shackleton's academy at Ballitore, then eminent for 
its superior system of education, and afterwards illustrious for the men 
it produced. We have already had to notice it in these pages. From 
this, he was removed to another very distinguished school, that of 
Mr Craig in Dublin, the same in which we have already had to trace 
the early days of Tone. Here, too, many persons conspicuous in after 
life, many of whom are yet upon the stage of the world, became 
united together in that interesting tie of memory, which, from so 
slight a beginning, has so deep and permanent a hold. From these 
traditionary recollections, we must pass on to the time of his entrance 
in Trinity College, Dublin, in 1782, when he was in his fifteenth 
year Here he \vas eminently distinguished, and notwithstanding his 
extreme youth, was successful in winning premiums both in classics 
and science. His classical attainments were placed beyond doubt, and 
nearly beyond the reach of comparison, by the unusual circumstance 
of a scholarship in 1785, with eight first best marks. A distinction 
strongly verified by that perfect mastery which he retained to the 
very last, of the whole of that range of Greek and Roman literature 
which was then included in that arduous trial. His contemporaries 
were among the most remarkable persons of his generation. Pluiiket, 
Miller, Graves, Magee, were among the scholars at the time. Tone, 
also, then as much distinguished by almost unrivalled wit, and admi- 
rable address, had obtained his scholarship in the previous year. 
To maintain a leading- position in a circle, which has not been 
equalled since, and is not likely to be soon equalled again, the great, 
reputation which Bushe had then acquired, and well maintained, is of 
itself a test of high distinguishing qualities. The Historical So- 
ciety brought these brilliant and active spirits together into a compe- 
tition more free and congenial than the pursuit of academic honours; 
and here Bushe rose as nearly to his comparative place, relative to 
these eminent men, as was consistent with the imperfect nature of the 
test, and the inexptrience of those who were to pronounce the awards 
of fame. We think it of some importance to mark this distinction, 
because we are convinced, first, that the reputation which is acquired by 
such academic displays of popular talent in early life, long continues 
to fix a man's place in the comparative estimation of his contempo- 
raries: to point out the reasons would lead us too far, but such is the 
fact. And second, that there are some limits to the applicability of 
such a criterion as is thus held out, which are not likely to be quite 


understood at the period when this species of fame is won. Young 
men, at least in the academic stage of their lives, are often very ex- 
cellent judges of style, of the rhetorical and logical expertness of a 
writer or speaker; but not equally so of those more severe, and solid 
qualities, which must be the chief foundation of excellence, in the ma- 
turer and more important efforts of actual life. They are sure to be 
v\on by ready and unfailing ingenuity, which can make the worse ap- 
] ear the better cause, and is never at a loss for the retort and reply. 
Errors of judgment, perversions of principle, they do not always detect, 
and when they do, an over-allowance is sure to be made for the ficti- 
tious understanding under which a fallacy is to be maintained ; they 
readily assume that all that ready resource in the support of error, 
must be still more triumphant in the contest for truth; but it cannot 
often occur (to the many,) that in point of reality the higher powers 
of the understanding are rarely tested in such efforts of advocacy; and 
if they were, their use is not very strongly apparent on the surface. 
The great and commanding faculty of judgment has little scope in such 
boy-contests; and even, if the contrary be admitted, this master 
faculty of the reason, being rather employed to guide the other facul- 
ties (as from within) than to show its own peculiar working, and being 
mostly only to be recognized by justly measuring its effects requires 
a nearly equal endowment of the same gilt in the listener, before he 
can be qualified to appreciate this latent source of power. This fact 
will be found to have a very peculiar bearing on every just estimate 
of that mind, of which it is the main purpose of this memoir to give a 
faithful picture; and with the same view, it is not less important to 
observe that the profound and comprehensive grasp of truth and of 
the principles of truth which give value to the nobler exertions of 
the mind, will, on such occasions, place the inexperienced speaker at 
a disadvantage, for there cannot be a stronger obstacle to promptness 
in sophistry than the clear apprehension, and keen sense of truth and 
right, with which a high degree of such qualities must inspire their 
possessor. These distinctions are easily applied; it is not within our 
province to compare the early academic successes of Bushe, with those 
of any one who may have stood higher in the opinion of boys. We shall 
presently come to the notice of his more popular gifts; but it is on 
the force of the principle thus stated, that we must ground our own 
peculiar view of a mind which we will not admit to be second to any 
one of the eminent persons with whom he may have been brought into 
comparison. In the play of rhetoric, his match was to be found; in 
sophistical ingenuity, and the arts of dexterous advocacy, his superior 
might, perhaps, be named; but in the secret ruling intellectual power 
that guides to sound views, and imparts truth to the reason, and even 
refinement and grace to wit, he had no equal among his countrymen, 
and few anywhere. 

If, however, Bushe had, in the estimation of his college cotem- 
poraries, a place in any degree lower in comparison than we must 
claim for him, it cannot strictly be said that he was underrated; if he 
was notjirst, he was nearest to it. He possessed by nature the flow- 
ing torrent of burning words which all can feel: he was also master 
of a rare and matchless style of \vit, which art never gave; it was that 


command of the most rapid, varied, and lively combinations of fancy* 
and of playful allusion, which he had inherited with his mother's blood, 
and which seemed to sport involuntarily and without consciousness 
upon his lips. He never was to be caught in premeditated witticisms, 
or guilty of resurrectionary Joe Millar's in his lightest discourse; he 
was witty because he could not help it ; and as his whole conversation 
flowed from the kindliest feelings of human nature, his wit was as 
much directed to give pleasure, as that of most wits to give pain. 
Quite free from the vanity of competition, and admired by all, he 
never interfered with the pretensions, real or imaginary, of others, or 
entered into frivolous disputes for the sake of victory. 

After leaving college, some years were spent in studies of which the 
law, which he had selected for his profession, formed but a small part. 
This is an inference warranted by the known extent and variety of 
his early and intimate acquaintance with every branch of polite litera- 
ture, and the skill and information in the reasonings of metaphy- 
sical writers, of which there remain among his papers proofs, on which 
we shall hereafter offer more full information. A thorough acquaint- 
ance with the best writers in defence of revealed religion, and a very 
able reply to Hume's attack upon it, were the fruits of this interval. 

He was called to the bar in 1790. We cannot distinctly say to 
what cause it is to be ascribed that his success was not so rapid as 
might be expected from the high reputation he had already acquired, 
and the popular nature of some talents he so strikingly possessed. 
The case is (seemingly at least), not of infrequent occurrence. Men 
of first-rate legal attainments, as in the instance of Lord Eldon, have 
been long unnoticed. But deep legal erudition, and the powers essen- 
tial to the lawyer, are not of a nature to force themselves into notice; 
nor are those gentlemen who are the dispensers of bar employment, 
the best qualified to discern the powers and attainments they are in 
duty bound to look for. It was then, at all events, thus. It is true 
that in the instance of Bushe these reasons are insufficient; his facul- 
ties were too bright to escape the dullest vision, But it was a moment 
of vast ebullition of all the lower and baser elements of the social state: 
there was a collision between democratic rage and folly, and admini- 
strative misrule. Disaffection on one side; and on the other, low 
intrigue, and base subornation; while unprincipled or misprincipled 
acquiescence in popular folly, filled the space between. Bushe could 
easily have sold himself to the Castle, or bartered his lofty sense of prin- 
ciple for the praise of democratic clubs, and the foul applause of rabbles. 
He could early have had the office of a crown prosecutor of those 
whom he condemned, but loved and pitied; or he could have been the 
popular advocate of crimes which menaced the dissolution of civil so- 
ciety. There was in his nature a dignity, and an instinct of truth which 
repelled both. He stood apart, not so much intentionally as from the 
instinct of a nature at once generous and delicately alive to principle. 

In the same year, he was called on to assist in the last meeting of 
the Historical Society, and made on that occasion a speech long re- 
membered by those who heard it. This society was in itself an insti- 
tution subject to the college, composed of its students, and within its 
walls, though not comprised in its corporate constitution. It will best 


be described as a school of oratory, poetry, and history, of which the 
first nearly absorbed the whole practice. It always met, during- the 
college terms, on every Wednesday night, and when the secretary had 
read a minute of the transactions of the last previous night, some ques- 
tion selected on a former meeting was formally proposed for debate. 
These questions were mostly of an historical character, and involved 
some important moral or political principle. We are not aware that 
the general order and practice of the society at this period, was 
materially different from the later society revived in the same place 
not many years after, in which we can recollect to have heard the 
early eloquence of many now known to fame 

Et nos 

Consilium dedimus Syllso, privatus ut altum 


In the earlier period, it must be allowed, there was a day of genius 
not afterwards equalled. But there was in both periods, an error in 
its constitution, inconsistent with permanence. It admitted of the 
clash of party opposition, and thus necessarily called into existence 
among rash and heady youths, the same tendencies which carry grown 
up men into such folly, crime, and violence. In the later society, it is 
well known to what an extent a spirit of intrigue, turbulence, and in- 
subordination were beginning to appear, though under greater con- 
straints and with less provocation from without. But in the day 
of Bushe, their debates were far more free; and they were touched 
with no slight spark of that fire which burned so fiercely in the 
breast of the Emmets, of Tone, and others, who were then among 
their distinguished orators, and were soon after too well known to 
their country. It was in 1790, that the heads of the University, actu- 
ated (we believe) by reasons not materially different from those which 
they again acted upon in 1815, thought it necessary to place the His- 
torical Society under more stringent rules. The effect was in each 
instance the same: the society met and voted itself out of existence.* 
To grace, and give force to this act of self-dissolution, Bushe was in- 
vited. It was the custom, at the beginning and end of their sessions, 
to open and close the meeting by a speech from the chair; the ora- 
tor on such occasions was always chosen for his ascertained powers, 
and the public was admitted. It was therefore a distinguished test of 
character to be thus called to speak to the world the last of these 
solemn addresses the last words of the old Historical Society. Many 
passages of the speech which he then delivered, have been printed in 
different works, and are therefore generally known to those who exer- 
cise a taste for oratory. We here give no extract, because it is our 
design to offer other specimens of far maturer power. 

On attaining the age of majority, Mr Bushe's first step was one 
which, while it indicates the same high and generous nature which 
will appear in every part of his life, had the unhappy effect of plunging 
him into difficulties which operated to retard his advancement, and 
heavily cloud both the peace and the prospects of his earlier years. 

* This institution is once more revived, but under a far more well-conceived 
and durable form, in which all its proper ends are secured, and its irregular ten- 
dencies excluded. 


Unable to resist the pain of witnessing the embarrassments of his 
father, he made himself liable for the full amount of his debts. Of 
the actual amount of these, neither father nor son had any distinct 
knowledge; and Mr Bushe, having assented to the proposal, imme- 
diately found himself involved to the amount of thirty thousand pounds. 
This heavy incumbrance was unaccompanied by any proportionate 
means of liquidation ; and he soon became so severely pressed by his 
creditors, that he was compelled to absent himself from Ireland for an 
interval of two years after his call to the bar. It must be quite unneces- 
sary to say how darkly such a state of circumstances must have clouded 
his youthful ambition; how like the aspect of ruin it must have ap- 
peared. The way was nevertheless opening which was to extricate 
him, so far at least as to enable him to enter upon the scene of his 
professional labours and future successes. 

Some time before, he had been introduced to Mr Crampton, then 
residing in Merrion Square in Dublin. This gentleman was in his 
family and among his acquaintance considered remarkable for his 
sound and penetrating judgment in the observation of human charac- 
ter; and it is now a satisfactory test of the justice of this character, 
that he immediately formed a very high opinion of the merit and 
qualifications of his new acquaintance, and expressed a confident anti- 
cipation of his future distinguishing success at the bar. Mr Bushe 
seems, from what we are enabled to infer, very soon after this intro- 
duction to have conceived a strong attachment to Mr Crampton's third 
daughter. This circumstance must have first been productive of a 
painful aggravation of his distressing situation, when he found him- 
self compelled to quit, together with his professional prospects, the 
scene of those hopes and wishes which he is likely to have felt with 
such peculiar strength. 

After an interval, during which he pursued his studies in his Welch 
retreat, he returned to Dublin, probably with some definite prospect 
of an arrangement with his father's creditors, such as might allow the 
prosecution of his professional interests. His was not the temper of 
mind to stand contentedly aside and let the world go by : and we can- 
not now even conjecture to what extent the clouds which thus had 
thrown a momentary shade upon the outset of his brilliant career, 
may have begun to sever and let in a more cheering light. We can 
only now say, that after a couple of years, he returned and entered on 
his profession. As his marriage had been understood to await this 
important preliminary, it soon followed, with the full consent and ap- 
probation of every side. He had previously made such arrangements 
as his circumstances admitted, for the settlement of the liabilities to 
which his high and generous spirit had exposed him. The fortune 
which he received with his wife, increased by a considerable loan from, 
an attached friend, enabled him to extricate himself from the immedi- 
ate pressure of embarrassments, by paying off the most urgent of his 
father's creditors. He then came to reside for a time in Merrion 
Square, with, his wife's mother. 

Such a union might well be regarded as an event too important in 
the history of his life, not to demand some especial notice. It was 
indeed the happiest compensation for many evils in his position for 


the weary struggle that was yet before him. But we have not on 
any previous occasion so strongly felt the difficulty of dealing with a 
subject, which at the same time demands and forbids so much of 
comment. The venerable and highly respected lady, to whom the 
subject of our memoir was so deeply indebted for the best portion of 
his comfort in this world, is, happily for her friends, still living, the 
loved and cherished centre of the numerous circles of his descendants 
and her own; and being fully aware of her extreme dislike to all allu- 
sion to those qualifications which are too much known and valued to 
be quite private, we feel that there would be something of a violation 
of the sanctuary of a Christian's profound humility, to say much that 
our feeling prompts and our subject requires. It may be desirable to 
notice the circle of connexion into which Mr. Bushe was thus intro- 
duced. Mr. Crampton's eldest daughter had been previously married 
to the Reverend Gilbert Austin, the worthy and amiable rector of 
Maynooth. Another was afterwards married to Mr. Smyly, a barrister 
of very considerable eminence. Of Sir Philip Crampton, it must be 
wholly unnecessary to speak. Mr. John Crampton, the eldest brother, 
has also been well known in the best society of both countries, and 
died a few years ago, as eminent for his enlarged and zealous piety, 
and earnest promotion of the best and highest of causes as a true and 
faithful servant of Christ, as he had in early life been for his gaiety, 
and singularly active and powerful frame. Of the Rev. Josiah Cramp- 
ton, rector of Castle Connel, we have not so directly the means of 
speaking on our own personal knowledge; but we may here insert a 
sentence written in after life by the illustrious subject of this memoir 
himself. " I return you Joss's inestimable letter, full of all the good 
realities of a fine downright unsophisticated character, a droiture and 
justness both in thinking and feeling, which affectation could not 
assume, and fiction could not invent." Such, indeed, was the character 
of this estimable Christian minister, who never for a moment bent his 
knee to Mammon, or lost sight of the proper character of his calling, 
the highest, if rightly understood. He had, in common with most of 
the members of his family, considerable talents. These few we select 
from many who formed Mr. Bushe's first and inmost circle on his intro- 
duction into professional life. It would be vain to enumerate the many 
who at that period must have claimed familiarity with one so eminently 
known for social attractions. These were the most gifted persons of 
their time and country. 

A considerable interval now followed, which does not admit of 
distinct commemoration, unless by such notices as cannot be said in 
any way to be connected with the progress of our narrative. We, 
have already taken occasion to state that, during this period, he made 
little professional advance. He continued to walk the courts, if not 
without a brief, at least without any opportunity of distinction, and 
to go circuit, with but occasionally small employment for several years. 
We can, however, most satisfactorily ascertain one fact : that among his 
cotemporary lawyers, he held his proper estimation. And we can 
have no doubt, that the general and evident sense of those best quali- 
fied to judge, must have helped to sustain his courage during those 
trying years, in which he continued to buffet with and withstand the 


waves of adversity. His trials were, indeed, rough, and sufficient to 
overwhelm a spirit of less energy, and less consciousness of power. 
While he was pressed by the clamour of creditors from without, he 
was haunted by the menace of straitened means within the home of 
his tenderest affections of the wife he loved, and of his increasing- 

His talents were, it is true, known to government, and, as we shall 
presently exemplify, brought offers which, under his circumstances, 
few, indeed, could have rejected. The leaders of the Irish opposi- 
tion were, in fact, all those who were capable of making any impres- 
sion by their eloquence on the public. The accession of Mr Bushe 
would have been cheaply bought by the administration, at any price. 
Such offers came: they brought with them the feeling of honourable 
indignation, and the painful sense of the claims of wife and children. 
But happily for Bushe, his pure and lofty principles were shared in by 
her whose peace alone could have induced an instant's hesitation, 
and he invariably repelled every temptation to swerve from the strict 
line in which his duty appeared to consist. 

In the year 1797, he was elected member for the borough of Callan: 
and it was not long before he found occasion enough to display an elo- 
quence which, though far, indeed, from being appreciated according 
to its real excellence, yet could not fail at once to place him high in 
the foremost rank of orators. His speeches then, as ever after, mani- 
fested little if anything of those popular ornaments, which were then 
valued so much beyond their real merits by the people, because 
they were accommodated to their taste, and cultivated by men of 
superior understanding on account of their popular effect. There was 
in Ireland a degree of barbaric taste for effect, which harmonized 
powerfully with the strong popular passions which then prevailed. 
And, accordingly, the adornment of trope and figure the flight of 
poeticdiction thepointed epigram the keen retort and the laboured 
display of invective were the study of the orator, and the admiration 
of his hearers. More solid and higher qualities had indeed tluir 
praise; but, unless in their highest degree of excellence, they were 
scarcely second to the more ostentatious flights of ornamental Ian- 


guage, or displays of specious, though rather obvious and shallow dex- 
terity, for which too much deduction is to be made in now estimating 
even the greatest orators of that period. Among the very foremost 
in celebritv of those, it is now curious to see how much of that 


superiority consisted simply in manner, and how much of this was rather 
the result of much elaboration on very vicious models than the genuine 
production of real intellectual power ; and even when this power 
must be acknowledged to have existed in a very high degree, it may 
be no great hazard to say, that more fame was won by the tawdry 
embellishment which delighted the vulgar ear, than by the more 
pure and lofty display of intellectual power, or of detached and com- 
prehensive knowledge. This will be easily observed in the ora- 
tions of that truly great man Mr Grattan, in his earlier period. 
Nothing can be less entitled to the praise of eloquence than the real 
arguments and material statements of his best speeches. These are, 
nevertheless, the real indications of his powerful and comprehensive 


intellect; but Ins fame was won by those less durable, though more 
brilliant efforts, which, admirable in their way, would hardly have 
been remembered, but from the dry and stern elevations of Titanic 
intellect which they accompany, but do not blend with. 

Contrasted with such a style or styles, was the less ostentatious, 
but far more masterly one, of which Mr Bushe may be regarded as 
the facile princeps. A style difficult to convey any clear idea of by 
mere description: impossible to conceive or to execute, without rare 
gifts, m rarer combination. And this is not merely true, but even a 
characteristic truth. It is easy to pursue a chain of reasoning, with 
(of course) the aid of adequate, though still not uncommon power of 
reason: it is easier still to soar into the well-frequented region of 
metaphorical cloud work: the union of wit and gall, which the epi- 
grammatic point combines, though somewhat rarer, is neither quite 
uncommon, nor remarkably elevated in its claim, though a claimant, 
perhaps, too formidable to be put off without due allowance. But 
Buslie united ali the reason, the clear and lucid statement, the wit 
of purest water, the dazzling play of fancy, the keen and terrible edge 
of satire, in his most simple, pure, and classic flow of apt and yet 
unstudied language. In his narrative, in his argument, in his reply, 
the clear and unembarrassed method displayed a mind attentive only 
to what was material ; while every sentence was rendered more effec- 
tive than the most laboured glitter of ordinary rhetoric, by a pure, 
rich, intrinsic beauty of diction a light from the unseen source of 
mind within. This quality, while it told on the simplest mind, was 
itself a result of the most refined reach of perception and taste. An 
exquisite adaptation of every word to his purpose a perfect arrange- 
ment of every word in every sentence of every sentence in every 
period produced the fullest effect on the mind and ear that lan- 
guage as an instrument could produce. Nor was this the result of 
study, or of any elaborate effort for effect it was the gift of nature: 
the result of that prompt standard feeling or tact, which cannot go 
wrong without violence to itself. It was also, in a great measure, 
produced by a sound and comprehensive conception of the real rela- 
tions of things in its ordinary indications called common sense; 
but which Mr Bushe possessed in no ordinary degree: a quality 
which gives their direction and value to every exertion of every 
mental power. Such were the material elements of which the 
most striking combinations may be exemplified in Mr Bushe's 
oratory. At the present period of our narrative, it is likely 
that his speeches, of which our reports are very imperfect, were 
by no means equal to those of later times, because it is the pro- 
perty of his style of speaking to improve; the common character of 
all that comes from reason and observation. Yet, among the first of his 
speeches which we can discover in the debates of the Irish commons, 
there is a surprising pre-eminence in yll the sounder and more standard 
qualifications of a great speaker. In the debate on Mr Ponsonby's 
motion, to bring in a bill to repeal an act for the suppression of dis- 
turbances in 1797, the speech of Bushe is very remarkable for its 
clear superiority over the other speeches of the same night, in the 
apprehension and application of the real principles of the question of 


debate, as well as from the unswerving connectedness with which he 
followed out the course of his argument, and the entire absence of 
those declamatory expansions which always, more or less, show a 
feebleness of grasp, and a narrowness of range We should also ob- 
serve a curious fact the newspaper reports of the speech from which 
\ve shall presently extract, are far more full in matter, and finished in 
style, than any other speeches reported on the same debate. This 
cannot be accounted for, by assuming the well-known practice of pre- 
paring- speeches before-hand, and obtaining their insertion; because one 
of the remarkable characters of this speech is that it is not merely an 
opposition speech, but that Mr Bushe, on this occasion, with a masterly 
tact, seizes on the arguments of the two principal speakers on the oppo- 
site side, upon the combination of which he frames his answer. It would 
be foreign from our design to enter upon the merits of the question that 
night before the house; but it may be proper to observe that Mr 
Bushe's part in the debate shows very forcibly the peculiar character 
so strongly to be traced in every part of his life, that clear and 
tenacious apprehension of principle, which never allowed him to be a 
political partisan. Though he was not to be bought by government, 
and though, like all high-spirited young men, his breast was swayed 
by many popular feelings, he yet could not be deterred from the support 
of the constitutional authority of the laws, either by a liberal view of 
popular rights, or by his opposition to the government party. The 
necessity of measures of control, and that of the most stringent kind, 
was so obvious at the moment, that we never have been able entirely 
to understand how men, who were not themselves bent on a sanguinary 
revolution, could impose upon themselves by the paltry reasons against 
military law and coercive enactments, which were founded on state- 
ments of fact which they must have known to be false, and views of prin- 
ciple which a moment's reflection should have dissipated: yet such was 
the staple of the addresses of the greatest popular orators of the day. 
It is hard to say with what degree of sincerity men of understanding 
minds and honourable feelings could babble of the constitution in be- 
half of leniency towards as dangerous a conspiracy as ever was formed 
against it. But these remarks would lead us too far: we have pro- 
mised extracts for which the reader will be impatient. Having com- 
menced, by some comments on Mr Fletcher's speech, Mr Fletcher 
rose to explain his language; when he sat down, Mr Bushe proceeded; 
" Sir, I did not wilfully misrepresent the honourable gentleman, and 
if I misconceived him. I am sorry for it. But, Sir, if I had not a 
strong feeling, and a serious conviction on this night's question, if 
I was obliged to argue in the mercenary and unfeeling character of 
an advocate, I could not wish for stronger positions on which to 
ground my opposition to the repeal of the Insurrection Act, than 
those which have been laid down by the honourable mover, and the 
honourable and learned gentleman (Mr Fletcher). The first of these 
gentlemen has laid down as an undeniable principle, in which I al- 
together concur with him, that the duty of statesmen and legislators 
in to administer public affairs according to the peculiar circumstances 
of particular times; and the other honourable gentleman, with that 


strength of language which he so eminently possesses, has described 
the present times to be new, strange, portentous, and formidable. 
After such admissions from such high authority, I should go out of 
my way if I argued whether the Insurrection Act was strictly agree- 
able to the spirit of the constitution or not; for conceding for a mo- 
ment that it was not so, I learn from the first of these positions that 
the legislature is completely justified in enacting and continuing 
this measure of coercion, as it has been called, provided the necessity 
existed for it; and I learn from the other learned gentleman that the 
necessity does exist for it, and that the present times are strange, por- 
tentous, and formidable. But, Sir, I did not expect that the honour- 
able gentleman who drew this striking picture of the novelty and 
danger of the present times should call with so much triumph, and so 
much doubt, for the proof of his own proposition. Individual mur- 
ders (as he lightly called them) have been committed, says he; but 
where is the evidence of that public danger which necessitates coer- 
cion? where are the documents? when was the inquiry? I really do 
not know what evidence the honourable gentleman can require of 
any fact, beyond the evidence of a man's own senses, and the deduc- 
tions of his own understanding. To my senses, and to my under- 
standing, the demonstration is complete ; and if the honourable gen- 
tleman has the same organs and the same intellects as other men, I 
know nothing left for him to doubt of, but the testimony of his own 
experience. The past and passing history of the country evinces, be- 
yond controversy, the truth of his assertion, that the times are por- 
tentous and formidable, at the same time that they contradict his in- 
ference by affirming his position, and refute his conclusion that the 
danger does not create the necessity. It is upon this high and para- 
mount species of evidence that a high court of legislature grounds 
its proceedings, and I am sure that the honourable gentleman does 
not to narrow us into a court of Nisi Prius, and to produce 
witnesses on the table by subpoena ad te&tijicand'um to demonstrate 
the deductions of every man's reason, and the observations of every 
man's experience: to go beyond such evidence and call for documents, 
appears to me the height of scepticism, and seems to revive the in- 
genious folly of that fanciful philosophy which asserted that all which 
is, is not, and proved the non-existence of matter by the evidence of 

our senses." 

From this extract, it may be seen with what adroitness and force, 
and yet with what simplicity, and how much admirable method, the 
speaker has seized upon and shaped his argument from the statements 
of the adverse speakers. The following brief extract from the same 
speech will exemplify more than one quality of high value to the 
orator. After dwelling strongly on the proofs that there existed 
real dangers in the actual state of the country, he gives, in the 
following passage, a sensible illustration, which must have strongly im^ 
pressed his hearers. " I pass by the inferior trials of the Defenders, 
though pregnant with proof in support of this fact, and I recall his 
recollection to that evidence which has driven the unfortunate Mr 
Rowan into exile and disgrace; to that evidence which produced the 


tragedy of Mr Jackson; and to that by which, and by the lenity of 
government, an unhappy gentleman now wastes upon the desert air of 
an American plantation, the brightest talents that I ever knew a man 
to be gifted with. Who that is acquainted with the fate and melan- 
choly history of this gentleman, can doubt the deliberate plan which 
was well laid, and nearly executed, of invading this country by a 
French army, dissevering it from Great Britain, and establishing a 
democracy? I am sorry such a fact is so decidedly proved, and I am 
sorry that it is proved in such a manner, for I never shall speak, or 
ever think of the unhappy gentleman to whom I allude, with acrimony 
or severity. I knew him from early infancy as the friend of my youth, 
and companion of my studies; and while I bear testimony to the 
greatness of his abilities, I shall also say of him, that he had a heart 
which nothing but the accursed spirit of perverted politics could mis- 
lead or deprave; and 1 shall ever lament his fate with compassion for 
his errors, admiration for his talents, and abhorrence for his political 

We cannot here, as on former occasions, enter into the history of 
a time which has been already noticed in these pages, for the purpose 
of showing that Mr Bushe was as clearly right as he was eloquent 
and effective. The justice of his exposition would indeed claim no 
praise, were it not for the fact that other men of high political reputa- 
tion, who like him were inclined to popular politics, spoke and acted 
in defiance of the plain facts of the time, as well as the clear princi- 
ples of the question. 

At this period of his history we are enabled to trace him through 
the Leinster circuit, by several letters of which our fast contract- 
ing limits do not here permit the use. It does not appear that, at 
the time, his professional employment was increasing to any consider- 
able amount. But we find in his family correspondence the overflow 
of mental activity, and of those deep and fervent affections which 
through life continued to be the ornament and delight of the inner 
circle of his home. We can also, in the same easy and unstudied 
effusions, discern, in its purest and simplest form, the same rich and 
graceful flow of fancy and feeling which characterized his conversation 
in the world, or his public displays of forensic eloquence. In his corres- 
pondence, these qualities are set off by a deeper glow of heart, which, re- 
strained in public, or among strangers, by fastidious tact, or not called 
forth by the occasion, could not be conceived by those who only met 
him in company. It would, indeed, be an omission of one of the most 
distinguishing features of his mind, not to observe upon the aspect 
of character thus shown, and which, therefore, we the more regret 
being for the present compelled to withhold. His letters possessed a 
charm, never, in any instance we can recall to mind, exemplified in any 
approaching degree. In these, an unconscious facility of comparison 
and contrast, and a flow of just and pregnant observation, are enliv- 
ened and ornamented by the graceful gaiety which stamps them with 
the character of perfect ease, and throws a charm of repose over the 
periods which, from any ordinary pen, would bear the impression 
of labour. The impression we desire here, in the absence of exarn- 


pies, to convey, is, that the style of these compositions is not merely 
unlaboured, but that it carries in itself the internal evidence of ease.* 

Occasionally we find intimations of a retainer, but nothing for some 
vears occurred to enable him to prove his powers as an advocate. 
The first occasion which really brought him into fair professional 
notice, was one which frequently occurs in the history of the bar. We 
have not at this moment in our possession any report of the trial at 
which it took place, nor is it indeed material ; the fact is generally 
notorious. ' A cause of some importance, in which he happened to be 
retained, came on for hearing at a moment when the senior counsel 
was otherwise engaged Mr Bushe was next in rotation, and as his 
duty required, urged the necessity of delay. To this the judge would 
not consent, and impatiently asked if the junior was prepared to go on. 
Happily, the answer was affirmative, and he was peremptorily desir- 
ed to proceed. It was soon felt that his client was no loser by the 
change; he showed a thorough command of the case, and his exer- 
tions were crowned with success. It was at once felt that a new and 
distinguished claimant to the honours and practice of the bar, had 
established his place; and from this day, briefs poured in freely. 
Mr Bushe was soon as involved in an overflow of practice, as he had 
till then been immersed in anxieties arising from the weight of here- 
ditary debt. 

It was some time in 1799, when he had become largely engaged in 
professional business, and had also attained a very high parliamentary 
reputation, that Mr Bushe received a visit at his house in Baggot 
Street, from two gentlemen officially connected with government, both 
most probably commissioned to treat for his services; one of whom, 
professing- the most anxious friendship, apprized him of the very 
high consideration in which his character and abilities were held 
by lord Cornwallis; and told him that there were several situations 
vacant, that of the Rolls, of Attorney, and of Solicitor-general, to 
any of which he was considered eligible, and that he had but to 
choose and express his wishes. Mr Bushe acknowledged that it would 
be most desirable for him to obtain any of these promotions; but that, 
looking at the political measures actually contemplated by the admini- 
stration, he felt that some sacrifice of opinion, and of what he regarded 
as his public duty, must be looked for in return. That otherwise, if 
the lord lieutenant actually considered it fit and right on grounds of 
public service or private regard to promote him, he would do so; but 
that he himself would not sacrifice his independence by seeking any 
favour, or take office under the trammel of obligations. We state this 
incident explicitly here, because it is one of the utmost importance in 

"' It may, with apparent justice, be objected, that some specimen at least of 
the epistolary powers which we have described, ought not to have been withheld 
from the public. We have, however, to plead the limits which we were bound to 
keep, and which we have been but too apt to transgress. To such compositions 
as the letters in our possession, all specimens would be an injustice, and tbey 
must, when made public, be given in their integrity. For this duty we must be 
content to remain debtors to the public ; but the debt shall (if permitted,) be paid 

in no long time. 


the estimate of the character of Mr Bushe. In the summary sketcli 
which we have given of lord Clare, we gave a brief statement of those 
arts of brihery and corruption by which the measure of the Union was 
carried in 1800. The mere purchase of a vote was not inconsider- 
able; but that of a man like Mr Bushe was the highest; and not only 
promotion but still prospective elevation to rank and place would have 
been within the sure prospect of venal talent. But Mr Bushe, who 
as we have just seen, had the rare manliness to spurn the clamour of 
mere nationality, and to resist the impositions of popular enthusiasm and 
prejudice, while he still held the steady line of unswerving patriotism, 
has equally shown his lofty firmness and incorruptible integrity by 
trampling on the temptations of ambition and the flatteries of power. 
The case is not the same as that of some other great men who took 
the same part: there were few indeed of these who had not so com- 
mitted themselves with the rebel party, or who were not so wholly 
abandoned in spirit and principle to the popular party, that it was not 
in their power to recede, without an infamous abandonment of their very 
identity as public men ; to such persons, the highest elevation could afford 
no shelter for their pride. That these were the motives of those great 
men we do not insinuate; we merely mark a difference of position. 
We mean that such motives, were there not higher, must have 
restrained them. But Mr Bushe stood wholly unfettered by such 
ties; he stood not more clear of Castle influence, than unsullied by 
the slightest subserviency to the exactions of popular caprice; as he 
disregarded the cant of patriotism, so he repelled the splendid corrup- 
tion of power. Had he been for the Union, he could, with less re- 
proach than most others, have taken the part of a government which 
made such an effort to secure him, But in common with many others, 
he entertained opinions hostile to that measure. With such opinions, 
the readers of these memoirs are aware that we do not agree. In 
claiming for Mr Bushe, in common with his eminent compatriots, the 
high praise of independence and integrity on that memorable occasion, 
we are far indeed from asserting for them that of skilful and compre- 
hensive policy. They were men of the highest intellectual powers 
they were fine scholars, eloquent orators, and able lawyers; but it 
no more follows that they were or could have been profound states- 
men than skilful painters. The cant of party politics, which is not 
very superior to the " cant of criticism," has so wholly preoccupied the 
public mind with its false criterions, that in speaking of the conduct 
of public men, it is not easy to do justice. To have comprehended 
the whole, and still more, the remote consequences of a measure like 
the Union, at that period, demanded a political education in a school 
different from the arena of lawlessness, antisocial opinion, and admini- 
strative corruption, then existing in Ireland. Lawyers, no doubt, 
may be assumed to have the most just insight into the principles of 
the legal constitution of the nation; beyond this, and this is little in- 
deed, this very knowledge may be observed to carry with it a remark- 
able inaptitude for the full comprehension of the much larger ques- 
tions which depend on the relation of the laws and institutions of the 
country to its social and economical condition. There is between 
positive institutions and the great Jaw of social progress, a species of 


contrary action which we have already pointed out; and this contra* 
rietv will mostly be found marked in the intellects of great lawyers 
as compared with those of great statesmen; not from any real differ- 
ence of intellectual stature, but from difference of mental habits. The 
objections to the Union then put forward by Bushe, Plunket, Saurin, 
Grattan, and Magee, we admit to have been not merely specious, 
but just, so far as they could go; and what is more, we think their 
truth to be more evident than that of the reasons on the opposite side. 
Bat in truth the former lay upon the surface; they were obvious first 
aiiv immediate consequences, which were palpable to the dull eye of 
popular sense. The same may be said of most of the arguments for 
the measure ; but in fact the question in its remoter and ultimate bear- 
ings could not then have been at all understood. The then future and 
far distant effects of the accelerating progress of the social state to- 
war Js a form of which an intense and irresistible centralization must 
be a result inevitable as fate, could not have been foreseen, and is yet 
but partially understood. It could not be foreseen by human fore- 
sight, that a state of things must arise in which a parliament in Dublin 
would be as absurd as one parliament in Westminster, and another at 
Blackwall. And if a digressive observation may be here allowed, we 
may add, that the great question then not understood, is yet misap- 
prehended by those who have adopted the same patriotic view of it; 
as we are satisfied that the full carrying out of their demands would 
be the abolition of all parliaments, unless on the supposition of certain 
ulterior elements which have not yet appeared. We have not fully 
stated our views on this point, but we have said so much, because we 
think that it is the most satisfactory method of showing the necessity 
of declining a discussion which should lead into such intricate and 
difficult inquiries. 

But setting such considerations aside, and referring to the discus- 
sion on the night of January 21, 1800, we have no hesitation in as- 
signing the highest merit to the admirable speech made on that night 
by Mr Bushe. It was not, like those of Mr Grattan and some other 
eminent men a speech to be represented fairly by extracts, The 
staple of his eloquence did not consist in wrought up passages; he 
did not deal much in those elaborate parallels and contrasts which are 
the popular instruments of speech, but in a more refined and consum- 
mate play of mind, which, as it grew out of his line of argument, dif- 
fused its even light and grace as well as its effect and impressive 
power over the whole. The subject of that night did not in a great 
measure admit of the peculiar graces of his style, but it pre-eminently 
brought forth some of his graver and profounder qualities. Too earnest 
and too clear, to indulge in the rhetorician's lighter play, his power was 
that night shown by his close and unrelaxing grasp of the previous 
speakers to whom he rose to reply. In consequence of this, his speech 
exhibits a peculiar play of what might not inappropriately be called 
logical wit, by which, while he follows out a masterly statement of his 
own views, he seems to dally and sport with the inconsistencies of his 
opponents. Looking to most of his rivals (if we may so term them), a 
dry statement of fact and argument is now and then wound up by a few 
Leniences of great effect. Mr Bushe's statements, as simple in expre*- 


sion and as truo in sense, were never dry, but always adorned with a 
phraseology of which the point, propriety, and terse arrangement, 
conceal the idiomatic simplicity; more truly, indeed, answering- to 
the simplex munditiis of the Roman poet than most results of art we 
can recall to mind. These considerations are essential to any specific 
view of his parliamentary efforts. In his bar speeches we shall need 
no such qualification. In these, a wider play was afforded to his 
unrivalled powers of advocacy, his playful fancy, his keen and fine 
satire, the dexterity of suggestion, and the power of narration, in which 
it is at least doubtful if he has ever been equalled. But of this here- 
after, our business is now with his speech on the Union. 

As specimens of eloquence, we might take any passage of this 
speech, and may therefore first select one with reference to a con- 
sideration already explained in this memoir; that is, the vindica- 
tion of Mr Bushe's consistency against a species of accusation which 
has often been preferred against him, as well as other eminent men, 
by quoting their speeches made on this occasion. They who would 
draw any such unfair inferences from such matter, will do well to 
read attentively the whole of Mr Bushe's speech against the Union, 
and see to what principles he refers, and on what ground he argues. 
If they will not practically allow for the great real changes which the 
state of a question may undergo, they may find, in statements such as 
the following, reasons for a charge different from inconsistency: 
" But this is not all, the government of the country has appealed from 
the decision of parliament, and to whom have they appealed? Not 
to the constituent body constitutionally recognised; not to the electors 
of the kingdom; nor the freeholders; but to the people individually: 
abusing that most monstrous proposition of reform and innovation 
I mean of universal suffrage and canvassing the rabble of the king- 
dom, against the constitution of the country. A government wielding 
the whole influence of the crown at the head of every department the 
army the church, and the revenue, exercises all its authority to pro- 
cure individual signatures as a counterbalance to the opinion of the 
representatives of the people in parliament assembled." This re- 
proach involves both a feeling and a principle which is wholly at 
variance with the entire mind of those who have thought proper to 
quote Mr Bushe for their own support, or who have set him against 
himself. He in reality never entertained those views which are now 
those of the popular p.irty in Ireland. As public questions then stood, 
the distribution of opinion and principle was wholly different, and to 
those who take the trouble to think strictly, such comparisons are 
soon found devoid of meaning. 

The following passage offers more of the orator, but is also full of 
historic interest. " I should be glad to know, Sir, if this amend- 
ment be unnecessary, of what use have been the campaigns and peram- 
bulations of his excellency the lord lieutenant since the last session of 
parliament? Why has his excellency subjected himself to the fatigue 
of so many marches and countermarches? Why did he think it neces- 
sary to write down the constitution of Ireland in a correspondence, 
through his military secretary, with the seneschal of every close 
borough, with whose patron he had previously communicated, and 


with every parish priest who was sufficiently complaisant to induce his 
flock to sign manifestoes against the parliament of this country, if 
after all the crown is to meet the parliament, blinking and skulking 
from the premeditated determination of extinguishing it for ever."* 

As we have said, it is one of the highest praises of the speeches of 
Mr Bushe, that they are not to be adequately represented by extracts, 
as for the most part they consist in a single and uniform tissue of rea- 
soning and statement, flowing from a deep and vital grasp that seldom 
relaxed enough for the small ambitious art of compounding sentences. 
The speech from which the foregoing extracts are given by no 
means for any rhetorical peculiarity is throughout distinguishable for 
the power of applying constitutional principle, or for the prompt dex- 
terity with which weak points are seized, or by which seeming advan- 
tages on the opposite side, are converted into points of attack. But 
we have still a lengthened task before us, and must retain scope for 
specimens of maturer art and power, in the bar speeches of this illus- 
trious advocate. 

After the Union, Mr Bushe, in common with other eminent men of 
the day, entertained strong apprehensions for the future respectability 
and prosperity of his own profession in this country, and had nearly 
made up his mind to try his fortune at the English bar. Such a 
change must have placed him under many serious disadvantages; but 
we can safely say that his qualifications were not of a nature to be 
lost in the crowd. It so happened that the measure which he had so 
ably resisted, was favourable in its immediate consequences to him- 
self. He was not, as was the case with many, an opponent to the ad- 
ministration either from party connection, or from any popular feel- 
ing'; he had never been led to commit himself to any line of party 
conduct. Having taken for his rule of conduct solely the sense and 
spirit of a constitutional lawyer, he had met all such questions as had 
claimed his attention as a member of parliament, simply on their legal 
and constitutional merits. He had supported the lawful authority of 
the government against extreme opposition, to which he never had lent 
his sanction. He had not less strenuously joined in the vindication of 
such popular rights as met with the assent of his own independent 
reason. To what extent in this lofty course he may have been mis- 
led or the contrary, it is no part of our present duty to say; it 
was the part of a noble and generous mind, that could never be won 
or daunted, though it might, with all that is human, err. But to him 
its result was, that the immediate effect of the Union left no impor- 
tant difference between him and the government. And as his repu- 
tation had then attained a high level, the discernment of Mr Pitt, 
which had early marked him out for promotion, was not slow to seize 
the earliest occasion which offered; and in 1803, on the dissolution 

* The point of this language depends on the manner in which the question was 
brought before the house. The measure of the Union had been rejected in the 
former session, and the minister thought it necessary to keep back the discussion 
till he was prepared with what was not inaptly called a " packed parliament," all 
mention of it was therefore omitted in the king's speech. To resist this design, 
the question was on this occasion brought forward by the opposition, in their 
n.otion of amendment on the address. 


of the Grenville administration, he was raised to the rank of Solicitor- 

In this first step, which may be said to have secured his prospects, 
some able and eloquent writers, themselves possessed by popular views, 
have discerned difficulties, and others found matter for censure, with 
neither of which we agree. Against the assumptions of both, we have 
already in some measure guarded, in shaping our former statements; 
but as these statements are express, and have been often repeated, we 
must here add a little special comment. We have, in the foregoing para- 
graph, described the independent character of his political conduct; 
but though he did not in the slightest degree sail in the wake of 
popular leaders, or still less by the breath of popular opinion, yet as 
for a long time his own views held him in the same course with the 
Irish opposition, in some great and leading questions of policy, he had 
thus actually gained a popularity which he never sought, and obtained 
also the reputation of holding the same general views as those with 
whom he had acted. From this arose some verv natural, and there- 


fore excusable errors; for a character was imputed to him by the un- 
distinguishing heat of popular opinion, and by this character he was 
judged. Lesser points of opposition were soon forgotten, and his real 
views of principle were not yet known but to intimates; and in this 
country, in which all courses of action were on the popular side ex- 
treme, and on the government side assumed to be so; when all was, 
in the loose parlance of popular oratory, resolved into a vital contest 
between despotism and patriotic resistance, there existed no sobrr 
predicamental line to which to refer the steady mind of constitutional 
regard for the rights of both. Hence arose mistakes which never 
have been cleared, because the facts have never been looked at with- 
out some bias to either side.' It has been thought that, by this pro- 
motion, Mr Bushe was placed in somewhat of a false position, in 
which he was compelled to support a line of policy on the part of the 
Attorney-general, which was contrary to his own opinions; and, con- 
sequently, that he must have been led to trim his notions to meet the 
requisitions of his personal interest. Somewhat more delicate 
language has of course been used ; but to repel such insinuations, it 
is necessary to be explicit. We entirely, and in the most unqualified 
manner, deny that any change in any real principle of action or opi- 
nion, is to be detected in the whole of Mr Bushe's conduct, from first 
to last. Some changes his mind underwent, in common with the best 
and ablest thinkers the state of questions changed the action of 
laws changed the entire texture of parties changed the relations 
of claims, relative position, and social processes between parties and 
nations have changed and been changing; and even in the interval of 
time between the parliamentary and official engagements of Mr Bushe, 
there occurred incidents of no slight nature, well adapted to impress 
thinking men with strong doubts of the soundness of their views, who 
till then had been the organs or the leaders of popular feeling in Ire- 
land. But indeed, even this consideration ouo-ht to be unnecessary 

'-T 1 t 

as the ardour of youth subsides, and sober experience begins to give 
iis indispensable aid to the right understanding of public questions, 


much change of conduct (did such appear) might be looked for in any 
one who might act sincerely from principle. 

There ought surely to be no doubt as to the interpretation which 
Mr Bushe must have put on the revolutionary principles of the United 
Irishmen. Emmett's rebellion finds no sanction in any of his speeches 
or conduct. Whether in these matters he thought rightly or wrongly, 
we do not contest; there is no doubt as to his actual opinions, and if 
there were, we could meet that doubt. Now, a moment's consideration 
must show that these and such facts were the only real grounds of con- 
struction as to the intent, and still more, as to the effect of such de- 
monstrations on the part of individuals or bodies, as showed them- 
selves in the same manner, assumed the same tone, and expressed the 
same sentiments as had on former occasions been the mask and cloak 
of the first movements of insurrection. That such must necessarily 
be their constant intent, we do not say; but there is in human affairs 
no infallible criterion which can warrant the lawyer and statesman to 
fling aside the only known rules of experience and historical prece- 
dent. Mr Bushe resisted the Union because he thought that measure 
fraught with many ills and his view stands recorded with all his 
reasons; but the same sense which led him to resist the popular mem- 
bers in 1797, in the debate on the insurrection act, operated to con- 
vince him in 1803, and succeeding years, of the duty and the necessity 
of supporting the laws and government, and the peace of the country, 
against lawless factions, and wrong-headed mischief-makers, under 
the specious name of patriots. Those indeed who best knew this 
great man, and who were most competent to form an opinion of him, 
are aware that if such a fault can be said to exist, it was his fault to 
cherish the very shadow of a principle, with a stern and uncompro- 
mising tenacity, in all matters in which conduct was involved. They 
who knew him superficially, could not so well detect this habit, in him 
peculiar from its amount; as in ordinary conversation it was wholly 
concealed by his singular freedom from the pedantry of dogmatizing 
in social intercourse. 

With respect to the actual merits of the line of policy which was 
then administered by the law advisers of the crown, we shall more 
appropriately notice it (so far as we must), in a future memoir. 
Though friendly to the objects of his fellow countrymen of the Roman 
church, Mr Bushe is not to be therefore assumed as favourable to the 
course then pursued for the attainment of their objects. In connec- 
tion with his able colleague in office, he considered it quite fit for 
them to look for a disengagement from every constitutional restraint; 
but it is not enough considered, that he looked on their proceedings 
with a lawyer's eye. The means were illegal; they bore also too 
close an analogy, both in form and in the language used, to the similar 
proceedings of an unfortunate period, of which he was himself a living 
witness. Some distinctions there did exist, but these were then scarcely 
palpable we may, perhaps, discuss them in a succeeding memoir. We 
only make these remarks to express our general dissent from some 
comments, which have dropped from other writers, on the position in 
which office must have placed him. He loved the people, but cared 


little for popular praise or blame; his respect for truth and right le't 
no room for such an infirmity. And we must further remark, that the 
bland and graceful suavity of his manner has been also a means of 
leading casual observers into a notion, not only in itself fallacious, but 
likely to contribute to the false impression here discussed: so con- 
siderable, indeed, has been the mistake on this point, that we shall 
have to enter upon a full explanation of this remarkable and much re- 
marked part of his character; we may therefore pass it by for the pre- 
sent. It will here be enough to say, that we cannot recall to mind any 
instance of a man more direct and single-minded in the principles of his 
conduct, or in the feeling and spirit which governed its uniform and un- 
swerving course. Like all persons who love to reciprocate good will, 
and who shrink from stain, he could feel injurious comments; but it was 
only when they followed him into his retirement when the fight was 
over. In action, he defied comment, and spurned apprehension, and 
had no hesitations but those from which fools alone are free. 

The first remarkable occasion which brought Mr Bushe forward in 
his official character, rose out of the trials in 181 1, of which we must 
offer a brief account, for the purpose of rendering intelligible some 
extracts with which we shall follow it. In August, 1811, several 
persons of respectability were arrested in Dublin, on a charge of 
attending a parish meeting to elect representatives of the Irish Roman 
Catholic body, "for the purpose or under the pretence" of preparing 
petitions to parliament, contrary to the provisions of the Act 33 Geo. 
III., commonly called the Convention Act. In the following- Novem- 

* O 

her, they were brought to trial in the King's Bench. The occasion 
was one of great public interest, and the court was crowded by all 
parties. It ought to be observed, that it was purely the trial of a 
question as to the power and interpretation of the law, as the Attorney- 
general had no intention of carrying the proceedings to a penal result, 
but simply sought to vindicate the law of the land as it stood. In 
the course of a long and obstinately contested trial, many points of 
dispute, as usual, arose, which we shall explain as they may become 
essential to our present purpose. The main point was, of course, that 
of the express violation of the law "the election or appointment of as- 
semblies purporting to represent the people, or any description or num- 
ber of people of the realm, under pretence of preparing or presenting 
petitions," c., &c. On this act, there were two prosecutions in the 
same year, both occupying the same grounds. For as the jury brought 
in a verdict of not guilty in the first instance, grounded expressly on 
the insufficiency of the evidence, the offence was repeated, and it 
became a direct and open question between the law and the conven- 
tion of delegates. Each time the reply on the part of the crown fell 
to the Solicitor-general, and we have two speeches of admirable wit 
and power, to supply us with specimens of his manner. But first we 
must request that the reader may bear in mind what we have already 
explained. Our specimens are really what we term them not elabo- 
rate flights of embellished language, or keen flashes such as come few 
and far between, but specimens of a flowing and spontaneous felicity 
of style and method, remarkable for the grace, ease, and aptitude of 
its application to the call and purpose of the moment. We shall here, 


for the sake of compendiousness, extract indifferently from both 
speeches. Mr Burro wes had led for the traversers, with a speech of 
vast eloquence and skill, in which he had contrived to embarrass the 
actual question with a variety of inflammatory and irrelevant topics, 
as well as refined but false verbal distinctions. To meet these, and 
remove the impressions thus raised, was in both instances the duty of 
the Solicitor. After a brief, nervous, and graceful preface, in which 
he expresses his determination to confine himself "to the only two 
topics which seem to have been forgotten this day" the law and the 
fact he begins by animadverting on the efforts of his opponents to 
make the discussion one of politics. " Gentlemen, it is not my incli- 
nation, or my duty, and I disclaim the right, to address you upon any 
of those popular topics, which have been so laboriously and passion- 
ately urged upon you by the traversers' counsel. I recollect the place 
in which I stand 1 know that 1 am in a court of justice, and not in a 
house of parliament. I shall not stop to inquire how far these gen- 
tlemen may have abused that latitude of discussion which is permitted 
to those \vho defend an accused man. I wish riot to abridge the free 
exercise of such a privilege although I may be allowed to observe, 
that it has been indulged in this day without stint, and carried to its 
utmost limits. Be that as it may, a colder duty devolves on me; I 
prosecute the man whom they defend, and God forbid that, in doing 
so, I should appeal to anything but your understandings." 

It was elaborately endeavoured by Mr Burrovves to confound the 
jury into an adjudication on the legal merits of the cause. The force 
and skill of the Solicitor's comment is very striking. " I am sure that 
it is not necessary to remind you that you are not empanelled to decide 
upon great political and constitutional questions, which have been so 
much agitated this day; that you are not legislators, but jurors; and 
that your oaths bind you to a fair verdict between the crown and the 
traverser. But it is very necessary to observe upon the confusion of 
jurisdiction which has been contended for this day, and the very un- 
fair attempts which have been made to induce you to usurp the autho- 
rity of the court. Gentlemen, your exclusive province is to decide 
upon the facts in controversy between the parties; instead of which, 
you have been clamorously called upon to interpret the laws of the 
land. The mummery of sending up a dozen copies of an act of par- 
liament has been resorted to, and you have been called upon to decide 
upon its policy as if you were senators, and to construe its enactments 
as if you were lawyers. You have been told that its provisions were 
difficult of interpretation that learned counsel have differed upon 
them and that it has been objected to the convention law, that it 
requires professional astuteness to expound it; and yet the same advo- 
cate calls upon twelve respectable citizens, to resolve, upon their oaths, 
all those intricate and entangled questions, as if your habits, your 
education, or your studies, enabled you to decide upon them." 

The next extract we shall make, displays the same style of language, 
so characteristic for its elegance and point, half concealed by its terse 
propriety. It will also exhibit much of the dexterity of which he is 
always so consummate a master, in throwing an aspect of absurd 
contradiction over the elaborate defence of the adverse counsel. An 


elaborate and prolix examination of the witnesses, for the purpose of 
breaking down the proof of the facts, was followed by a most power- 
ful speech by Mr Burrowes, which assumes their reality, and defends 
their legality and justice. After pointing out the plain fact, that if 
the allegations of the indictment were false, the defendant could con- 
tradict them by producing numerous persons who were actually present 
in court, Mr Bushe goes on " You are called upon rashly to disbe* 
lieve what they will not controvert ; to impute, by your verdict, 
perjury to those witnesses for the crown; and to declare on your oaths 
that you do not believe that which they will not deny. Gentlemen, I 
am at a loss, in discharging this duty, to discover what I am to reply 
to : one counsel asserts his client's innocence, in point