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Title: Personal Sketches of His Own Times, Vol. 1 (of 3)
Author: Barrington, Jonah
Language: English
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              Personal Sketches of His Own Times, Vol. I.


  _Engraved by J. Heath, from a drawing from life by Commerford._


  _London. Pub^d by Colburn & Bentley New Burlington Str.^t 1830._


                           PERSONAL SKETCHES


                             HIS OWN TIMES,


                         SIR JONAH BARRINGTON,

                              &c. &c. &c.

                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                                VOL. I.

                            SECOND EDITION,
                         REVISED AND IMPROVED.

                         NEW BURLINGTON STREET.






                          THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

                         CHARLES KENDAL BUSHE,

                       CHIEF JUSTICE OF IRELAND,

This trifle, the pastime of a winter’s evening, is presented—to a person
of whom I have long held the highest opinion among the circle of my
friends and the crowd of my contemporaries, and for whom my regards have
been disinterested and undeviating.

The work is too trivial to be of any weight, and I offer it only as a
_Souvenir_, which may amuse one who can be constant to friendship at all
periods, and knows how to appreciate a gift, not by its value, but by
the feelings of the heart which sends it.

                                         JONAH BARRINGTON, K. C.



                         TO THE FIRST EDITION.

The compilation by me of a medley of this description may appear rather
singular. Indeed, I myself think it so, and had got nearly half-way
through it before I could reasonably account for the thing;—more
especially as it was by no means commenced for mercenary purposes. The
fact is, I had long since engaged my mind and time on a work of real
public interest; and so far as that work was circulated, my literary
ambition was _more_ than gratified by the approbation it received. But
it has so happened, that my publishers, one after another, have been
wanting in the qualification of stability; and hence, my “Historic
Memoirs of Ireland” have been lying fast asleep, in their own sheets, on
the shelves of three successive booksellers or their assignees; and so
ingeniously were they scattered about, that I found it impossible for
some years to collect them. This was rather provoking, as there were
circumstances connected with the work, which (be its merits what they
may) would, in my opinion, have ensured it an extensive circulation.
However, I have at length finished the Memoirs in question, which I
verily believe are now about to be published in reality,[1] and will
probably excite sundry differences of opinion and shades of praise or
condemnation (both of the book and the author) among His Majesty’s liege


Footnote 1:

  See the Prospectus, published with the present work.


For the purpose of completing that work, I had lately re-assumed my
habit of writing; and being tired of so serious and responsible a
concern as “Memoirs of Ireland and the Union,” I began to consider what
species of employment might lightly wear away the long and tedious
winter evenings of a demi-invalid; and recollecting that I could neither
live for ever nor was _sure_ of being the “last man,” I conceived the
idea of looking over and burning a horse-load or two of letters, papers,
and fragments of all descriptions, which I had been carrying about in
old trunks (not choosing to leave them at any body’s mercy), and to
which I had been perpetually adding.

The execution of this _inflammatory_ project I immediately set about
with vast assiduity and corresponding success; and doubtless, with very
great advantage to the literary reputation of an immense number of my
former correspondents as well as my own. After having made considerable
progress, I found that some of the fragments amused myself, and I
therefore began to consider whether they might not also amuse other
people. I was advised to make selections from my store, particularly as
I had, for near half a century, kept—not a diary—but a sort of rambling
chronicle, wherein I made notes of matters which, from time to time,
struck my fancy. Some of these memoranda were illegible; others just
sufficient to set my memory working; some were sad, and some were
cheerful; some very old, others recent. In fine, I began to _select_:
but I soon found that any thing like a _regular_ series was out of the
question; so I took a heap indiscriminately, picked out the subjects
that amused me most, wrote a list of their several headings, which were
very numerous; and, as his Majesty pricks for sheriffs, so did I for
subjects, and thereby gathered as many as I conceived would make two or
three volumes. My next process was to make up _court-dresses_ for my
Sketches and Fragments, such as might facilitate their introduction into
respectable company, without observing strict _chronological sequence_,
to which I am aware light readers have a rooted aversion.

This laudable occupation served to amuse me and to fill up the blanks of
a winter’s evening; and being finished, the residue of the papers
re-deposited, and the trunks locked again, I requested the publisher of
my “Historic Memoirs” also to set my “Personal Sketches” afloat. This he
undertook to do: and they are now sent out to the public—the _world_, as
it is called; and the reader (_gentle_ reader is too hackneyed a term,
and far too confident an anticipation of good temper) will of course
draw from them whatever deductions he pleases, without asking my
permission. All I have to say is, that the several matters contained
herein are neither fictions nor essays, but relate to real matters of
fact, and personages composed of flesh and blood. I have aimed at no
display of either fancy or imagination; nor have I set down long
dialogues or soliloquies which could not possibly be recorded except
when heroes and heroines carried short-hand writers in their pockets,
which must have been peculiarly inconvenient. In speaking of _fanciful_
matters, I may as well except my own opinions on certain subjects here
and there interspersed, which I freely leave to the mercy of any one who
is disposed to esteem them visionary.

However, be it understood, that I by no means intend this disclaimer as
an assault on—but on the contrary as a distinguished compliment
to—writers and works of pure imagination—of improbability and
impossibility!—inasmuch as such works prove an unlimited range of
intellect and talent, on the part of the authors, for inventing _matters
of fact_ that never could have occurred, and _conversations_ that never
could have taken place;[2] a talent which, when duly cultivated and
practised for the use of friends and private families, seldom fails to
bring an author’s name into most _extensive circulation_; and if
perchance he should get himself into any scrape by it, nothing is so
likely as the exercise of the same talent of _invention_ to get him out
of it again.


Footnote 2:

  I have seen in a new novel a minute recital of a very affecting
  _soliloquy_ pronounced with appropriate gesticulation by a fine young
  man while he was “pacing about” a large room in a castle; the thunder
  meanwhile roaring, and the rain pattering at the casements. In this
  castle there was at the time no other living person; and the soliloquy
  was so spoken as his dying words immediately before he shot himself.
  As there was nobody else in the castle during the catastrophe, his
  affecting words were never divulged till this novel made its
  appearance—leaving the ingenious reader to infer the many invisible
  spies and tell-tales that survey our most secret movements.


On the other hand, I must own (even against myself) that the writing of
mere common-place truths requires no talent whatsoever! it is quite a
_humdrum_, straight-forward, dull custom, which any person may attain.
Besides, matter of fact is not at all in vogue just now: the disrepute
under which truth in general at present labours, in all departments and
branches of literature, has put it quite out of fashion even among the
_savans_:—so that chemistry and mathematics are almost the only
subjects, on the certainty of which the “nobility, gentry, and public at
large,” appear to place any very considerable reliance.

Having thus, I hope, proved my candour at my own cost, the deduction is
self-evident—namely, that the unfortunate authenticity of these sketches
must debar them from any competition with the tales and tattle of
unsophisticated invention: when, for instance, _scandal_ is _true_, it
is (as some ladies have assured me) considered by the whole sex as
scarcely worth listening to, and actually requiring at least very
considerable exaggeration to render it at all amusing! I therefore
greatly fear I may not, in this instance, experience so much of their
favour as I am always anxious to obtain: my only consolation is, that
when their desire to indulge an amiable appetite for scandal is very
ardent, they may find ample materials in every bookseller’s shop and
_haut-ton_ society to gratify the passion.

I feel now necessitated to recur to another point, and I do it at the
risk of being accused of egotism. I hope, however, I can advance a good
reason for my proceeding; namely, that, on reading over some of the
articles whereof this _mélange_ is composed, I freely admit, that if I
were not _very_ intimately acquainted with myself, I might be led at
least into a puzzle as to the writer’s genuine sentiments on many points
of theology and politics. Now, I wish, seriously speaking, to avoid, on
these subjects, all ambiguity; and therefore, as responsible for the
opinions put forth in the following Sketches, I beg to state, that I
consider myself strictly orthodox both in politics and theology: that is
to say, I profess to be a sound Protestant, without bigotry; and an
hereditary royalist, without ultraism. Liberty I love—Democracy I hate:
Fanaticism I denounce! These principles I have ever held and avowed, and
they are confirmed by time and observation. I own that I have been what
is generally called a _courtier_, and I have been also what is generally
called a _patriot_; but I never was either _unqualifiedly_. I always
thought, and I think still, that they never should, and never need be
(upon fair principles) opposed to each other. I can also see no reason
why there may not be patriot kings as well as patriot subjects—a patriot
_minister_, indeed, may be more problematical.

In my public life, I have met with but one transaction that even
_threatened_ to make my _patriotism_ overbalance my _loyalty_: I allude
to the purchase and sale of the Irish Parliament, _called_ a Union,
which I ever regarded as one of the most flagrant public acts of
corruption on the records of history, and certainly the most mischievous
to this empire. I believe very few men sleep the sounder for having
supported the measure; though some, it is true, _went to sleep_ a good
deal sooner than they expected when they carried it into execution.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I must also observe that, as to the _detail_ of politics, I feel now
very considerable apathy. My day for actual service is past; and I shall
only further allude, as a simple casuist, to the slang terms in which it
has become the fashion to dress up the most important subjects of
British statistics—subjects on which certain of these Sketches appear to
have a remote bearing, and on which my ideas might possibly be

I wish it therefore to be considered as my humble opinion, that what, in
political slang, is termed _Radical Reform_, is, in reality, _proximate
revolution_:—_Universal Suffrage, inextinguishable uproar_:—and _Annual
Parliaments, periodical bloodshed_.[3] My doubts as a casuist, with
these impressions on my mind, must naturally be, how the orderly folks
of Great Britain would relish such _pastimes_?—I do not extend the query
to the natives of my own country, because, since His Majesty was there,
nobody has taken much notice of them: besides, the _poor_ people in
Ireland having very little to eat and no amusement at all, the aforesaid
entertainments might _divert_ them, or at least their _hunger_, and of
course be extremely acceptable to a great body of the population.


Footnote 3:

  I apprehend that there were more persons killed at the late elections
  in Ireland than there were members elected at the contested places;
  and I have no doubt that annual parliaments would give more employment
  to the coroners in Ireland than any species of riot that has yet been
  invented for that pugnacious population. In truth, what I have
  mentioned in another work as being the proofs of _pleasure_ in
  Ireland, were also generally the termination of contested elections:
  the gradation was always the same: viz. “an illumination, a bonfire, a
  _riot_,” and “_other_ demonstrations of _joy_!”—N.B. Where candles to
  illuminate with were not to be had, _burning a house_ was not
  unfrequently substituted!


As I also perceive some articles in these Sketches touching upon matters
relative to Popes, Cardinals, Catholics, &c.; lest I may be misconstrued
or misrepresented on that head, I beg to observe, that I meddle not at
all in the controversy of Catholic Emancipation. The _Doctors_ employed
_differ_ so essentially in opinion, that, as it frequently falls out on
many other consultations, they may lose their patient while debating on
the prescription:—in truth, I don’t see how the Doctors _can_ ever
agree, as the prescribers must necessarily take the _assay_; and one
half of them verily believe that they should be poisoned thereby!—“Among
ye be it, blind harpers!”

I apprehend I have now touched on most of the topics which occurred to
me as requiring a word of explanation. I repeat that this book is only
to be considered as a desultory _mélange_—the whim of a winter’s
evening—a mere chance-selection. I shall therefore make no sort of
apology for inaccuracies as to unity of time, for defective connexion,
or the like. It amused my leisure hours; and if it fortunately amuses
those of other people, I shall receive a great deal of satisfaction.

                                               JONAH BARRINGTON.

        May 28th, 1827.




                           THE FIRST VOLUME.

                         MY FAMILY CONNEXIONS.

 Family mansion described—Library—Garden—Anecdotes of my
 family—State of landlord and tenant in 1760—The gout—Ignorance of
 the peasantry; extraordinary anomaly in the loyalty and
 disloyalty of the Irish country gentlemen as to James I., Charles
 I., Charles II., James II., and William—Ancient toasts—My
 great-grandfather, Colonel John Barrington, hanged on his own
 gate; but saved by Edward Doran, trooper of King James—Irish
 customs, anecdotes, &c.                                            p. 1

                         ELIZABETH FITZGERALD.

 My great-aunt, Elizabeth—Besieged in her castle of Moret—My uncle
 seized and hanged before the walls—Attempted abduction of
 Elizabeth, whose forces surprise the castle of Reuben—Severe
 battle                                                               19


 Instances of attachment formerly of the lower orders of Irish to
 the gentry—A field of corn of my father’s reaped in one night
 without his knowledge—My grandfather’s servants cut a man’s ears
 off by misinterpretation—My grandfather and grandmother tried for
 the fact—Acquitted—The colliers of Donane—Their fidelity at my
 election at Ballynakill, 1790                                        43

                             MY EDUCATION.

 My godfathers—Lord Maryborough—Personal description and
 extraordinary character of Mr. Michael Lodge—My early education;
 at home; at school—My private tutor, Rev. P. Crawley,
 described—Defects of the University course—Lord Donoughmore’s
 father—Anecdote of the Vice-Provost—A country sportsman’s
 education                                                            52

                       IRISH DISSIPATION IN 1778.

 The huntsman’s cottage—Preparations for a seven days’ carousal—A
 cock-fight—Welsh main—Harmony—A cow and a hogshead of wine
 consumed by the party—Comparison between former dissipation and
 that of the present day—A dandy at dinner in Bond-street—Captain
 Parsons Hoye and his nephew—Character and description of both—The
 nephew disinherited by his uncle for dandyism—Curious anecdote of
 Dr. Jenkins piercing Admiral Cosby’s fist                            65

                      MY BROTHER’S HUNTING-LODGE.

 Waking the piper—Curious scene at my brother’s hunting-lodge—Joe
 Kelly’s and Peter Alley’s heads fastened to the wall—Operations
 practised in extricating them                                        77

                         CHOICE OF PROFESSION.

 The Army—Irish volunteers described—Their military ardour—The
 author inoculated therewith—He grows cooler—The Church—The
 Faculty—The Law—Objections to each—Colonel Barrington removes his
 establishment to the Irish capital—A country gentleman taking up
 a city residence                                                     89

                     MURDER OF CAPTAIN O’FLAHERTY.

 Murder of Captain O’Flaherty by Mr. Lanegan, his son’s tutor, and
 Mrs. O’Flaherty—The latter, after betraying her accomplice,
 escapes—Trial of Lanegan—He is hanged and quartered at
 Dublin—Terrific appearance of his supposed ghost to his pupil,
 David Lauder, and the author, at the Temple in London—Lauder
 nearly dies of fright—Lanegan’s extraordinary escape; not even
 suspected in Ireland—He gets off to France, and enters the
 Monastery of La Trappe—All-Hallow Eve—A church-yard anecdote—My
 own superstition nearly fatal to me                                  97

                          ADOPTION OF THE LAW.

 Marriage of my eldest brother—The bridemaid, Miss D. W.—Female
 attractions not dependent on personal beauty—Mutual
 attachment—Illustration of the French phrase _je ne sais
 quoi_—Betrothal of the author, and his departure for London, to
 study for the Bar                                                   114

                        A DUBLIN BOARDING-HOUSE.

 Sketch of the company and inmates—Lord Mountmorris—Lieut. Gam
 Johnson, R.N.—Sir John and Lady O’Flaherty—Mrs. Wheeler—Lady and
 Miss Barry—Memoir and character of Miss Barry, afterward Mrs.
 Baldwin—Ruinous effects of a dramatic education exemplified—Lord
 Mountmorris’s duel with the Honourable Francis Hely Hutchinson at
 Donnybrook—His lordship wounded—Marquis of Ely, his second          121

                            IRISH BEAUTIES.

 Strictures on change of manners—Moral influence of dress—The
 three beauties—Curious trial respecting Lady M—— —Termination
 favourable to her ladyship—Interesting and affecting incidents of
 that lady’s life—Sir R— M——, his character, and cruelty—Lady M——
 married against her will—Quits her husband—Returns—Sir R.
 mistakes her for a rebel in his sleep, and nearly strangles her     132

                       PATRICIANS AND PLEBEIANS.

 The three classes of gentlemen in Ireland described—Irish
 poets—Mr. Thomas Flinter and D. Henesey—The bard—Peculiarities of
 the peasants—Their ludicrous misinformation as to distances
 accounted for—Civility of a waiter—Equivocation of the peasants,
 and their misdirection of travellers to different places            149

                              IRISH INNS.

 Their general character—Objections commonly made to them—Answer
 thereto—Sir Charles Vernon’s mimicry—Moll Harding—Accident nearly
 of a fatal nature to the author                                     161

                       FATAL DUEL OF MY BROTHER.

 Duel of my brother, William Barrington, with Mr. M‘Kenzie—He is
 killed by his antagonist’s second, General Gillespie—The
 general’s character—Tried for murder—Judge Bradstreet’s
 charge—Extraordinary incidents of the trial—The jury arranged—The
 high sheriff (Mr. Lyons) challenged by mistake—His hair cut off
 by Henry French Barrington—Exhibited in the ball-room—The Curl
 Club formed—The sheriff quits the country, and never
 returns—Gillespie goes to India—Killed there—Observations on his
 cenotaph in Westminster Abbey                                       167

                       ENTRANCE INTO PARLIAMENT.

 My first entrance into the Irish House of Commons—Dinner at Sir
 John Parnell’s—Commencement of my intimacy with public men of
 celebrity—Maiden speech—I attack Grattan and Curran—Suicide of
 Mr. Thoroton—Lord De Blacquiere—His character                       182


 Anecdote of Tottenham _in his boots_—Interesting trial of the
 Earl of Kingston for murder—Description of the forms used on that
 occasion                                                            195

                          THE SEVEN BARONETS.

 Sir John Stuart Hamilton—Sir Richard Musgrave—Sir Edward
 Newnham—Sir Vesey Colclough—Sir Frederick Flood—Sir John
 Blacquiere—Sir Boyle Roche, and his curious bulls—Their
 characters and personal description—Anecdotes and
 bon-mots—Anecdote of the Marquess of Waterford                      205

                         ENTRANCE INTO OFFICE.

 The author first placed in office by Lord Westmoreland—Made
 king’s counsel by Lord Clare—Jealousy of the bar—Description of
 Kilkenny Castle—Trial of the Earl of Ormonde for outrage at
 Kilkenny—Acquitted—Author’s conduct—Distinguished and liberal
 present from the Earl of Ormonde to the author, of a gold box,
 and his subsequent letter                                           222

                         DR. ACHMET BORUMBORAD.

 Singular anecdotes of Dr. Achmet Borumborad—He proposes to erect
 baths in Dublin, in the Turkish fashion—Obtains grants from
 Parliament for that purpose—The baths well executed—The Doctor’s
 banquet—Ludicrous anecdote of nineteen noblemen and members of
 Parliament falling into his grand salt-water bath—The accident
 nearly causes the ruin of the Doctor and his establishment—He
 falls in love with Miss Hartigan, and marries her—Sudden
 metamorphosis of the Turk into Mr. Patrick Joyce                    233

                      ALDERMEN OF SKINNERS’ ALLEY.

 The institution of Orangemen—United Irishmen—Protestant
 ascendancy—Dr. Duigenan—Origin, progress, and customs of the
 aldermen of Skinners’ Alley described—Their revels—Orange toast,
 never before published—The aldermen throw Mr. M‘Mahon, an
 apothecary, out of a window for striking the bust of King
 William—New association—Anecdotes of Sir John Bourke and Sir
 Francis Gould—The Pope’s bull of absolution to Sir Francis G.—Its
 delivery suspended till he had taken away his landlady’s
 daughter—His death                                                  246

                       PROCESSION OF THE TRADES.

 Dublin corporation anecdote—Splendid triennial procession of the
 Dublin corporation, called _Fringes_ (franchises), described        259

                            IRISH REBELLION.

 Rebellion in Ireland, in 1798—Mr. Waddy’s castle—A priest cut in
 two by the portcullis, and partly eaten by Waddy—Dinner-party at
 Lady Colclough’s—Names and characters of the company, including
 Mr. Bagenal Harvey, Captain Keogh, &c.—Most of them executed soon
 after—Tour through and state of County Wexford, after the battles
 and storming of the town—Colonel Walpole killed and his regiment
 defeated at Gorey—Unaccountable circumstance of Captain Keogh’s
 head not decaying                                                   267

                               WOLF TONE.

 Counsellor Theobald Wolf Tone—His resemblance to Mr. Croker—He is
 ordered to be hanged by a military court—General Craig attached
 in the court of Common Pleas—Tone’s attempt at suicide—Cruel
 suggestion respecting him                                           281

                            DUBLIN ELECTION.

 My contest for Dublin city—Supported by Grattan, Ponsonby,
 Plunkett, and Curran—Singularity of a canvass for Dublin—The
 election—Curious incidents—Grattan’s famous philippic, never
 before published—Memoirs of Mr. John Giffard, called the “dog in
 office”—Horish the chimney-sweeper’s bon-mot                        287

                      ELECTION FOR COUNTY WEXFORD.

 Mr. Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s contest for County Wexford,
 omitted by all his pseudo-biographers—Duel of Mr. Alcock and Mr.
 Colclough (candidates), on a question respecting Mr. Sheridan’s
 poll—Colclough killed—A lamentable incident—Mr. Alcock’s trial—He
 afterward goes mad and dies—His sister, Miss Alcock, also dies
 lunatic in consequence—Marquess of Ely tried for an outrage at
 Wexford, and fined                                                  302

                              WEDDED LIFE.

 Lord Clonmel, chief justice of the Irish Court of King’s
 Bench—His character—Lady Tyrawly’s false charge against
 him—Consequent duel between him and Lord
 Tyrawly—Eclaircissement—Lord Tyrawly and Miss Wewitzer—Lord
 Clonmel’s hints “How to rule a wife”—Subsequent conversation with
 his lordship at Sir John Tydd’s                                     313


 My first acquaintance with the Duke of Wellington and the late
 Marquess of Londonderry, at a dinner at my own house—Some memoirs
 and anecdotes of the former as a public man—My close connexion
 with government—Lord Clare’s animosity to me
 suspended—Extraordinary conference between Lord Castlereagh, Mr.
 Cooke, and me, in August 1798—Singular communication—Offers made
 to me for succession as solicitor-general—I decline the terms
 proposed—Lord Castlereagh’s letter to me—Character of Mr. Pelham,
 now Earl of Chichester                                              323

                             LORD NORBURY.

 Quarrel between Lord Norbury and the author in the House of
 Commons—Curran’s bon-mot—Dinner at Lord Redesdale’s, who attempts
 being agreeable, but is annoyed by Lord Norbury (then Mr.
 Toler)—Counsellor O’Farrell—Mr. (now Lord) Plunkett and Lord
 Redesdale—Lord Norbury and young Burke—His lordship presides at
 Carlow assizes in the character of _Hawthorn_                       337

                             HENRY GRATTAN.

 Mr. Grattan in his sedan-chair—The “point of honour”—Mr. Egan’s
 gift of second-sight—The guillotine and executioner—Colonel Burr,
 vice-president of the United States, and Mr. Randolph—Mr. Grattan
 in masquerade—Death of that illustrious patriot, and strictures
 on his interment in Westminster Abbey—Letter from the author to
 his son, Henry Grattan, Esq.                                        349

                         HIGH LIFE IN NEWGATE.

 Lord Aldborough quizzes the Lord Chancellor—Voted a libeller by
 the House of Peers—His spirited conduct—Sentenced to imprisonment
 in Newgate by the Court of King’s Bench—Memoirs of Mr.
 Knaresborough—His extraordinary trial—Sentenced to death, but
 transported—Escapes from Botany Bay, returns to England, and is
 committed to Newgate, where he seduces Lady Aldborough’s
 attendant—Prizes in the lottery—Miss Barton dies in misery          362

                          JOHN PHILPOT CURRAN.

 Sketch of his character—Personal description—Lodgings at
 Carlow—Mr. Curran and Mr. Godwin—Scenes in the “Cannon”
 coffee-house—_Liberality_ of mine host—Miss H * * * in
 heroics—Precipitate retreat—Lord Clancarty—Mr. Curran’s notion of
 his own prowess—The disqualifications of a wig—Lord and Lady
 Carleton—Curran in 1812—An attorney turned cobbler—Curran’s
 audience of the present king of France—Strictures on his
 biographers                                                         375

                           THE LAW OF LIBEL.

 Observations on the law of libel, particularly in Ireland—“Hoy’s
 Mercury”—Messrs. Van Trump and Epaphroditus Dodridge—Former
 leniency regarding cases of libel contrasted with recent
 severity—Lord Clonmel and the Irish bar—Mr. Magee, of the “Dublin
 Evening Post”—Festivities on “Fiat Hill”—Theophilus Swift and his
 two sons—His duel with the Duke of Richmond—The “Monster!”—Swift
 libels the Fellows of Dublin University—His curious
 trial—Contrast between the English and Irish bars—Mr. James
 Fitzgerald—Swift is found guilty, and sentenced to Newgate—Dr.
 Burrows, one of the Fellows, afterward libels Mr. Swift, and is
 convicted—Both confined in the same apartment at Newgate            398


 Biographical and characteristic sketch of Dean Kirwan—His
 extraordinary eloquence—The peculiar powers of Sheridan, Curran,
 and Grattan contrasted—Observations on pulpit, bar, and
 parliamentary oratory                                               423

                            QUEEN CAROLINE.

 Reception of the late Queen Caroline (then Princess of Wales) at
 the drawing-room held after the “delicate investigation”—Her
 depression and subsequent levity—Queen Charlotte and the Princess
 compared and contrasted—Reflections on the incidents of that day
 and evening—The Thames on a Vauxhall night                          433

                      LORD YELVERTON AND THE BAR.

 Characteristic and personal sketches of three Irish barristers:
 Mr. William Fletcher (afterward chief justice of the Court of
 Common Pleas), Mr. James Egan (afterward judge of Dublin county),
 and Mr. Bartholomew Hoare, king’s counsel—Lord Yelverton’s dinner
 party—The author’s parody—Mr. Egan right by _mistake_!              440

                    MR. NORCOT’S ATTEMPT AT SUICIDE.

 The hollowness of interested popularity illustrated in the
 example of Mr. Norcot—The dilemma of a gamester—The last
 resource—The “faithful” valet—Mr. Norcot turns Mahometan—His
 equivocal destiny                                                   445

                       ANECDOTES OF IRISH JUDGES.

 Baron Monckton—Judge Boyd—Judge Henn—Legal blunder of a judge,
 and Curran’s bon-mot thereon—Baron Power—His suicide—Crosby
 Morgal’s spirit of emulation—Judge William Johnson—Curious
 anecdote between him and the author—Judge Kelly—His character and
 bon-mots—Lord Kilwarden—His character—Murder of him and his
 nephew the Rev. Mr. Wolfe—Mr. Emmet executed—Memoir of that
 person—Judge Robert Johnson—Arrested in Ireland, and tried in
 London, for a libel written on Lord Redesdale in Ireland and
 published by Cobbett—Doubts of the legality of his lordship’s
 trial—He is found guilty                                            452


                           PERSONAL SKETCHES.

                         MY FAMILY CONNEXIONS.

Family mansion described—Library—Garden—Anecdotes of my family—State of
  landlord and tenant in 1760—The gout—Ignorance of the peasantry;
  extraordinary anomaly in the loyalty and disloyalty of the Irish
  country gentlemen as to James I., Charles I., Charles II., James II.,
  and William—Ancient toasts—My great-grandfather, Colonel John
  Barrington, hanged on his own gate; but saved by Edward Doran, trooper
  of King James—Irish customs, anecdotes, &c.

I was born at Knapton, near Abbeyleix, in the Queen’s County,—at that
time the seat of my father, but now of Sir George Pigott. I am the third
son and fourth child of John Barrington, who had himself neither brother
nor sister; and at the period of my birth, my immediate connexions were
thus circumstanced.

My family, by ancient patents, by marriages, and by inheritance from
their ancestors, possessed very extensive landed estates in Queen’s
County, and had almost unlimited influence over its population,
returning two members to the Irish Parliament for Ballynakill, counties
of Kilkenny and Galway.

Cullenaghmore, the mansion where my ancestors had resided from the reign
of James the First, was then occupied by my grandfather, Colonel Jonah
Barrington. He had adopted me as soon as I was born, brought me to
Cullenaghmore, and with him I resided until his death.

That old mansion (the Great House as it was called) exhibited altogether
an uncouth mass, warring with every rule of symmetry in architecture.
The original castle had been demolished, and its materials converted to
a much worse purpose: the edifice which succeeded it was particularly
ungraceful; a Saracen’s head (our crest) in coloured brick-work being
its only ornament. Some of the rooms inside were wainscoted with brown
oak, others with red deal, and some not at all. The walls of the large
hall were decked (as was customary) with fishing-rods, fire-arms, stags’
horns, foxes’ brushes, powder-flasks, shot-pouches, nets, and
dog-collars; here and there relieved by the extended skin of a kite or a
king-fisher, nailed up in the vanity of their destroyers: that of a
monstrous eagle, (which impressed itself indelibly on my mind,)
surmounted the chimney-piece, accompanied by a card announcing the name
of its assassin—“Alexander Barrington;”—who, not being a _rich_
relation, was subsequently entertained in the Great House two years, as
a compliment for his present. A large parlour on each side of the hall,
the only embellishments of which were some old portraits, and a
multiplicity of hunting, shooting, and racing prints, with red tape
nailed round them by way of frames, completed the reception-rooms; and
as I was the only child in the house, and a most inquisitive brat, every
different print was explained to me.

I remained here till I was near nine years old; I had no play-fellows to
take off my attention from whatever I observed or was taught; and so
strongly do those early impressions remain engraven on my memory,
(naturally most retentive,) that even at this long distance of time I
fancy I can see the entire place as it stood then, with its old
inhabitants moving before me:—their faces I most clearly recollect.

The library was a gloomy closet, and rather scantily furnished with
every thing but dust and cobwebs: there were neither chairs nor tables;
but I cannot avoid recollecting many of the principal books, because I
read such of them as I could comprehend, or as were amusing; and looked
over all the prints in them a hundred times. While trying to copy these
prints, they made an indelible impression upon me; and hence I feel
confident of the utility of embellishments in any book intended for the
instruction of children. I possessed many of the books long after my
grandfather’s death, and have some of them still. I had an insatiable
passion for general reading from my earliest days, and it has occupied
the greater proportion of my later life. Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson
Crusoe, Fairy Tales, and The History of the Bible, all with numerous
plates, were my favourite authors and constant amusement: I believed
every word of them except the fairies, and was not entirely sceptical as
to those “good people” neither.

I fancy there was then but little variety in the libraries of most
country gentlemen; and I mention as a curiosity, the following volumes,
several of which, as already stated, I retained many years after my
grandfather and grandmother died:—The Journals of the House of Commons;
Clarendon’s History; The Spectator and Guardian; Killing no Murder; The
Patriot King; Bailey’s Dictionary; some of Swift’s Works; George
Falkner’s Newspapers; Quintus Curtius in English; Bishop Burnet; A
Treatise on Tar-water, by some other bishop; Robinson Crusoe; Hudibras;
History of the Bible, in folio; Nelson’s Fasts and Feasts; Fairy Tales;
The History of Peter Wilkins; Glums and Gouries; somebody’s Justice of
Peace; and a multiplicity of Farriery, Sporting, and Gardening Books,
&c. which I lost piecemeal, when making room for law-books—probably not
half so good, but at least much more experimental.

Very few mirrors in those days adorned the houses of the country
gentlemen:—a couple or three shaving-glasses for the gentlemen, and a
couple of pretty large dressing-glasses, in black frames, for the
ladies’ use, composed, I believe, nearly the entire stock of reflectors
at my grandfather’s, except tubs of spring water, which answered for the

A very large and productive, but not dressed-up garden, adjoined the
house. The white-washed stone images; the broad flights of steps up and
down; the terraces, with the round fish-pond,—rivetted my attention, and
gave an impressive variety to this garden, which I shall ever remember,
as well as many curious incidents which I witnessed therein.

At the Great House, where the Courts Leet and Baron were duly held, all
disputes among the tenants were then settled,—quarrels reconciled,—old
debts arbitrated: a kind Irish landlord then reigned despotic in the
ardent affections of the tenantry, their pride and pleasure being to
obey and to support him.

But there existed a happy reciprocity of interests. The landlord of
_that_ period protected the tenant by his influence—any wanton injury to
a tenant being considered as an insult to the lord; and if the
landlord’s sons were grown up, no time was lost by them in demanding
satisfaction from any gentleman for maltreating even their father’s

No gentleman of this degree ever distrained a tenant for rent: indeed
the parties appeared to be quite united and knit together. The greatest
abhorrence, however, prevailed as to tithe proctors, coupled with no
great predilection for the clergy who employed them. These certainly
were, in principle and practice, the real country tyrants of that day,
and first caused the assembling of the White Boys.

I have heard it often said that, at the time I speak of, every estated
gentleman in the Queen’s County was _honoured_ by the gout. I have since
considered that its extraordinary prevalence was not difficult to be
accounted for, by the disproportionate quantity of acid contained in
their seductive beverage, called rum-shrub—which was then universally
drunk in quantities nearly incredible, generally from supper-time till
morning, by all country gentlemen—as they said, to keep _down their

My grandfather could not refrain, and therefore he suffered well:—he
piqued himself on procuring, through the interest of Batty Lodge, (a
follower of the family who had married a Dublin grocer’s widow,) the
very first importation of oranges and lemons to the Irish capital every
season. Horse-loads of these, packed in boxes, were immediately sent to
the Great House of Cullenaghmore; and no sooner did they arrive, than
the good news of _fresh fruit_ was communicated to the Colonel’s
neighbouring friends, accompanied by the usual invitation for a

Night after night the revel afforded uninterrupted pleasure to the
joyous gentry; the festivity being subsequently renewed at some other
mansion, till the gout thought proper to put the whole party _hors de
combat_; having the satisfaction of making cripples for a few months
such as he did not kill.

Whilst the convivials bellowed with only toe or finger agonies, it was a
mere bagatelle; but when _Mr. Gout_ marched up the country, and invaded
the head or the stomach, it was then called _no joke_; and Drogheda
usquebaugh, the hottest-distilled drinkable liquor ever invented, was
applied to for aid, and generally drove the tormentor in a few minutes
to his former quarters. It was, indeed, counted a specific; and I allude
to it the more particularly, as my poor grandfather was finished by
over-doses thereof.

It was his custom to sit under a very large branching bay-tree in his
arm-chair, placed in a fine sunny aspect at the entrance of the garden.
I particularly remember his cloak, for I kept it twelve years after his
death: it was called a _cartouche_ cloak, from a famous French robber
who, it was said, invented it for his gang for the purposes of evasion.
It was made of very fine broad-cloth; of a bright blue colour on one
side, and a bright scarlet on the other: so that on being turned, it
might deceive even a vigilant pursuer.

There my grandfather used to sit of a hot sunny day, receive any rents
he could collect, and settle any accounts which his indifference on that
head permitted him to think of.

At one time he suspected a young rogue of having slipped some money off
his table when paying rent; afterward, when the tenants began to count
out their money, he threw the focus of his large reading-glass upon
their hands:—the smart, without any visible cause, astonished the
ignorant creatures!—they shook their hands, and thought it must be the
_devil_ who was scorching them. The priest was let into the secret: he
seriously told them all it _was_ the devil sure enough, who had mistaken
them for the boy that stole the money from the Colonel; but that if he
(the priest) was _properly considered_, he would say as many masses as
would _bother fifty devils_, were it necessary. The priest got his fee;
and another farthing never was taken from my grandfather.

My grandfather was rather a short man, with a large red nose—strong
made; and wore an immense white wig, such as the portraits give to Dr.
Johnson. He died at eighty-six years of age, of shrub-gout and
usquebaugh, beloved and respected. I cried heartily for him; and then
became the favourite of my grandmother, the best woman in the world, who
went to reside in Dublin, and prepare me for college.

Colonel John Barrington, my great-grandfather, for some time before his
death, and after I was born, resided at Ballyroan. My grandfather having
married Margaret, the daughter of Sir John Byrne, Bart., had taken the
estates and mansion, and given an annuity to my great-grandfather, who
died, one hundred and four years old, of a fever, having never shown any
of the usual decrepitudes or defects of age: he was the most respectable
man by tradition of my family, and for more than seventy years a
parliament man.

Sir Daniel Byrne, Bart. my great grandfather, lived at his old castle of
Timogrie, almost adjoining my grandfather Barrington: his domains, close
to Stradbally, were nearly the most beautiful in the Queen’s County. On
his decease, his widow, Lady Dorothea Byrne, an Englishwoman, whose name
had been Warren, (I believe a grand-aunt to the late Lady Bulkley,)
resided there till her death; having previously seen her son give one of
the first and most deeply to be regretted instances of what is called
forming _English connexions_. Sir John Byrne, my grand-uncle, having
gone to England, married the heiress of the Leycester family:—the very
name of Ireland was then odious to the English gentry; and previous
terms were made with him, that his children should take the cognomen of
Leycester, and drop that of Byrne; that he should quit Ireland, sell all
his paternal estates there, and become an _Englishman_. He assented; and
the last Lord Shelburne purchased, for less than half their value, all
his fine estates, of which the Marquis of Lansdown is now proprietor.

After the father’s death, his son, Sir Peter Leycester, succeeded, and
the family of Byrne, descended from a long line of Irish princes and
chieftains, condescended to become little amongst the rank of English
Commoners; and so ended the connexion between the Byrnes and

My mother was the only daughter of Patrick French, of Peterwell, county
Galway, wherein he had large estates: my grandmother (his wife) was one
of the last remaining to the first house of the ancient O’Briens. Her
brother, my great-uncle, Donatus, also emigrated to England, and died
fifteen or sixteen years since, at his mansion, Blatherwick, in
Cheshire, in a species of voluntary obscurity, inconsistent with his
birth and large fortune. He left great hereditary estates in both
countries to the enjoyment of his mistress and natural children,
excluding the legitimate branches of his family from all claims upon the
manors or demesnes of their ancestors. The law enabled him to do what a
due sense of justice and pride would have interdicted.

The anomaly of political principles among the country gentlemen of
Ireland at that period was very extraordinary. They professed what they
called “_unshaken loyalty_;” and yet they were unqualified partisans of
Cromwell and William, two decided usurpers—one of them having dethroned
his father-in-law, and the other decapitated his king.

The fifth of November was always celebrated in Dublin for the
preservation of James, a Scottish king, (after Queen Elizabeth had cut
his mother’s head off) from Guy Fawkes and a barrel of gunpowder in
London; then the thirtieth of January was highly approved of by a great
number of Irish, as the anniversary of making Charles the First, the son
and heir of the said James, shorter by his head. Then the very same
Irish celebrated the restoration of Charles the Second, the son of the
_shortened_ king, and who was twice as bad as his father; and whilst
they rejoiced in putting a crown upon the head of the son of the king
who could not keep his own head on, they never failed to drink bumpers
to the memory of _Old Noll_, who had cut that king’s head off; and in
order to commemorate the whole story, and make their children remember
it, they dressed up a fat _calf’s-head_, whole and white, on every
anniversary of King Charles’s _throat being cut_, and with a red-smoked
ham, which they called “Bradshaw,” placed by the side of it, all parties
partook thereof most happily; washing down the emblem and its
accompaniment with as much claret as they could hold, in honour of _Noll
the regicide_!

Having thus proved their loyalty to James the First, and their
attachment to his son’s murderer, and then their loyalty to the eldest
of his grandsons, they next proceeded to celebrate the birth-day of
William of Orange, a Dutchman, who had kicked their king, (his
father-in-law) the second grandson, out of the country, and who in all
probability would have given the Irish another _calf’s head_ for their
celebration, if the said king, his father-in-law, had not got out of the
way with the utmost expedition, and gone to live upon charity in France,
the _then_ mortal enemy of the British nation; and as they dressed a
calf’s head for the son’s murder, so they dressed _sheeps’ trotters_
every first of July, to commemorate the grandson’s running away at the
Boyne Water, in the year 1690.

One part of the Irish people then invented a toast, called, “_The
glorious, pious, and immortal memory of William, the Dutchman_;” whilst
another raised a counter-toast, called “_The memory of the chesnut
horse_,” _that broke the neck of the same King William_.[4] But in my
mind, (if I am to judge of past times by the corporation of Dublin) it
was only to coin an excuse for getting loyally drunk as often as
possible, that they were so enthusiastically fond of _making
sentiments_, as they called them.[5]


Footnote 4:

  King William’s _neck_ was not broken, only his _collar-bone_; his fall
  from a chesnut horse, however, hastened his dissolution.

Footnote 5:

  Could his majesty, King William, learn in the other world that he has
  been the cause of more broken heads and drunken men, since his
  departure, than all his predecessors, he must be the proudest ghost
  and most conceited skeleton that ever entered the gardens of Elysium.


As to the politics of my family, we had (no doubt) some very substantial
reasons for being both Cromwellians and Williamites; the one confirmed
our grants, and the other preserved them for us; my family, indeed, had
certainly not only those, but other very especial reasons to be pleased
with King William; and though he gave them nothing, they kept what they
had, which might have been lost but for his usurpation.

During the short reign of James the Second in Ireland, those who were
not _for_ him were considered to be _against_ him, and of course were
subjected to the severities and confiscations usual in all civil wars.
Amongst the rest, my great-grandfather, Colonel John Barrington, being a
Protestant, and having no predilection for King James, was ousted from
his mansion and estates at Cullenaghmore by one O’Fagan, a Jacobite
wig-maker and violent partizan, from Ballynakill. He was,
notwithstanding, rather respectfully treated, and was allowed forty
pounds a year by his said wig-maker, so long as he behaved himself.

However, he only behaved well for a couple of months; at the end of
which time, with a party of his faithful tenants, he surprised the
wig-maker, drove him out of possession in his turn, and repossessed
himself of his mansion and estates.

The wig-maker, having escaped to Dublin, laid his complaint before the
authorities; and a party of soldiers were ordered to make short work of
it, if the colonel did not submit on the first summons.

The party demanded entrance, but were refused; and a little firing from
the windows of the mansion took place. Not being, however, tenable, it
was successfully stormed—the old gamekeeper, John Neville, killed, and
my great-grandfather taken prisoner, conveyed to the drum-head at
Raheenduff, tried as a rebel by a certain Cornet M‘Mahon, and in due
form ordered to be hanged in an hour.

At the appointed time, execution was punctually proceeded on; and so far
as tying up the colonel to the cross-bar of his own gate, the sentence
was actually put in force. But at the moment the first haul was given to
elevate him, Ned Doran, a tenant of the estate, who was a trooper in
King James’s army, rode up to the gate—himself and horse in a state of
complete exhaustion. He saw with horror his landlord strung up, and

“Holloa! holloa! blood and ouns, boys! cut down the colonel! cut down
the colonel! or ye’ll be all hanged yeerselves, ye villains of the
world, ye! I am straight from the Boyne Water, through thick and thin:
Ough, by the hokys! we’re all cut up and kilt to the devil and back
agin—Jemmy’s scampered, bad luck to him, without a ‘good bye to
yees!’—or, ‘kiss my r—p!’—or the least civility in life!”

My grandfather’s hangmen lost no time in getting off, leaving the
colonel slung fast by the neck to the gate-posts. But Doran soon cut him
down, and fell on his knees to beg pardon of his landlord, the holy
Virgin, and King William from the Boyne Water.

The colonel obtained the trooper’s pardon, and he was ever after a
faithful adherent. He was the grandfather of Lieutenant-colonel Doran,
of the Irish brigade, afterward, (if I recollect right,) of the 47th
regiment—the officer who cut a German colonel’s _head clean off_ in the
mess-room at Lisbon, after dinner, with one stroke of his sabre.[6] He
dined with me repeatedly at Paris about six years since, and was the
most disfigured warrior that could possibly be imagined. When he left
Cullenagh for the continent, in 1784, he was as fine, clever-looking a
young farmer as could be seen; but he had been blown up once or twice in
storming batteries, which, with a few sabre-gashes across his features,
and the obvious aid of numerous pipes of wine, or something not weaker,
had so spoiled his beauty, that he had become of late absolutely


Footnote 6:

  Sir Neil O’Donnel, _who was present_, first told me the anecdote. They
  fought with sabres: the whole company were intoxicated, and nobody
  minded them _much_ till the German’s head came spinning like a top on
  the mess-table, upsetting their bottles and glasses. He could not
  remember what they quarrelled about. Colonel Doran himself assured me
  that he had very little recollection of the particulars. The room was
  very gloomy:—what he best remembered was, a tolerably effective gash
  which he got on his left ear, and which nearly eased him of that
  appendage:—it was very conspicuous.


This occurrence of my great-grandfather fixed the political creed of my
family. On the 1st of July, the orange lily was sure to garnish every
window in the mansion: the hereditary patereroes scarcely ceased
cracking all the evening, to glorify the victory of the Boyne Water,
till one of them burst, and killed the gardener’s wife, who was tying an
orange ribbon round the mouth of it, which she had _stopped_ for fear of

The tenantry, though to a man Papists, and at that time nearly in a
state of slavery, joined heart and hand in these rejoicings, and forgot
the victory of their enemy while commemorating the rescue of their
landlord. A hundred times have I heard the story repeated by the
“_Cotchers_,”[7] as they sat crouching on their hams, like Indians,
around the big turf fire. Their only lament was for the death of old
John Neville, the game-keeper. His name I should well remember; for it
was his grandson’s wife, Debby Clarke, who nursed me.


Footnote 7:

  A corruption of “_Cottager_;” the lowest grade of the Irish peasants,
  but the most cheerful, humorous, and affectionate. The word is spelt
  differently and _ad libitum_. Though the poorest, they were formerly
  the most happy set of vassals in Europe.


This class of stories and incidents was well calculated to make
indelible impression on the mind of a child, and has never left
mine.—The old people of Ireland (like the Asiatics) took the greatest
delight in repeating their legendary tales to the children, by which
constant, unvarying repetition, their old stories became hereditary, and
I dare say neither gained nor lost a single sentence in the recital, for
a couple of hundred years. The massacres of Queen Elizabeth and Cromwell
were quite familiar to them; and by an ancient custom of every body
throwing a stone on the spot where any celebrated murder had been
committed, upon a certain day every year, or whenever a funeral passed
by, it is wonderful what mounds were raised in numerous places, which no
person, but such as were familiar with the customs of the poor
creatures, would ever be able to account for.

I have often thought that people, insulated and shut out from society
and external intercourse, ignorant of letters and all kinds of legends
save their own local traditions, are as likely to be faithful historians
as the plagiarists and compilers of the present day.

I have heard the same stories of old times told in different parts of
the country by adverse factions and cotchers, with scarcely a syllable
of difference as to time or circumstance. They denote their periods, not
by “the year of our Lord,” or reigns, or months; but by seasons and
festivals, and celebrated events or eras,—such as “the Midsummer after
the _great frost_”—“the All-hallow eve before the _Boyne Water_”—“the
Candlemas that Squire Conolly had _all the hounds_ at Bally
Killeavan”—“the time the _English Bishop_[8] was hanged,” &c. &c.


Footnote 8:

  Arthur, Bishop of Waterford, was hung at Dublin for an unnatural
  crime—a circumstance which the prejudiced Irish greatly rejoiced at,
  and long considered as forming an epocha.


                         ELIZABETH FITZGERALD.

My great-aunt, Elizabeth—Besieged in her castle of Moret—My uncle seized
  and hanged before the walls—Attempted abduction of Elizabeth, whose
  forces surprise the castle of Reuben—Severe battle.

A great-aunt of mine, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, was married to Stephen
Fitzgerald, who possessed the castle of Moret, near Bally-Brittis, not
very far from Cullenagh.[9] She and her husband held their castle firmly
during the troubles. They had above forty good warders; their local
enemies had no cannon, and but few guns. The warders, protected by the
battlements, pelted their adversaries with large stones, when they
ventured to approach the walls; and in front of each of that description
of castle, there was a hole perpendicularly over the entrance, wherefrom
any person, himself unseen, could drop down every species of defensive
material upon assailants.


Footnote 9:

  I have heard the _battle of Moret_ told a hundred times, and never
  with one variation of fact or incident. It was a favourite legend with
  the old people, and affords a good idea of the habits and manners of
  those lawless times.


About the year 1690, when Ireland was in a state of great disorder, and
no laws were regarded, numerous factious bodies were formed in every
part of the country to claim old rights, and re-take possession of
forfeited estates, by mere force, when their factions were strong

My uncle and aunt, or rather my aunt and uncle (for she was said to be
far the most effective of the two), at one time suffered the enemy, who
were of the faction of the O’Cahils of Timagho, and who claimed my
uncle’s property, (which they said—very truly—Queen Elizabeth had turned
them out of,) to approach the gate in the night-time. There were neither
outworks nor wet fosse; the assailants therefore, counting upon victory,
brought fire to consume the gate, and so gain admittance. My aunt, aware
of their designs, drew all her warders to one spot, large heaps of great
stones being ready to their hands at the top of the castle.

When the O’Cahils, in great numbers, had got close to the gate, and were
directly under the loop-hole, on a sudden streams of boiling water,
heated in the castle coppers, came showering down upon the heads of the
crowd below: this extinguished their fire, and cruelly scalded many of
the besiegers.

The scene may be conceived which was presented by a multitude of scalded
wretches, on a dark night, under the power and within the reach of all
sorts of offensive missiles. They attempted to fly; but whilst one part
of the warders hurled volleys of weighty stones beyond them, to deter
them from retreating, another party dropped stones more ponderous still
on the heads of those who, for protection, crouched close under the
castle-walls: the lady of the castle herself, meantime, and all her
maids, assisting the chief body of the warders in pelting the Jacobites
with every kind of destructive missile, till all seemed pretty still;
and wherever a groan was heard, a volley of stones quickly ended the
troubles of the sufferer.

The old traditionists of the country say, that at day-break there were
lying one hundred of the assailants under the castle-walls—some scalded,
some battered to pieces, and many lamed so as to have no power of moving
off; but my good aunt kindly ordered them all to be put out of their
misery, as fast as ropes and a long gallows, erected for their sakes,
could perform that piece of humanity:—her faithful old partizan, Keeran
Karry, always telling them how sorry the lady was that she had no doctor
in the castle, she being so _tender-hearted_ that she could not bear to
hear their groaning under the castle-walls, and so had them hanged out
of _pure good-nature_.

After the victory, the warders had a feast on the castle-top, whereat
each of them recounted his own feats. Squire Fitzgerald, who was a quiet
easy man, and hated fighting, and who had told my aunt, at the
beginning, that they would surely kill him, having seated himself all
night peaceably under one of the parapets, was quite delighted when the
fray was over. He walked out into his garden outside the walls to take
some tranquil air, when an ambuscade of the hostile survivors surrounded
and carried him off. In vain his warders sallied—the squire was gone
past all redemption!

It was supposed he had paid his debts to Nature—if any he owed—when,
next day, a large body of the O’Cahil faction appeared near the castle.
Their force was too great to be attacked by the warders, who durst not
sally; and the former assault had been too calamitous to the O’Cahils to
warrant them in attempting another. Both were therefore standing at bay,
when, to the great joy of the garrison, Squire Fitzgerald was produced,
and one of the assailants, with a white cloth on a pike, advanced to

The lady on the castle-top attended his proposals, which were very
laconic. “I am a truce, lady!—Look here, (showing the terrified squire)
we have your husband in hault—yee’s have yeer castle _sure_ enough. Now
we’ll change, if you please: we’ll render the squire, and you’ll render
the keep; and if yees won’t do that same, the squire will be _throttled_
before your two eyes in half an hour.”

“Flag of truce!” said the heroine, with due dignity and without
hesitation; “mark the words of Elizabeth Fitzgerald, of Moret Castle:
they may serve for your own wife upon some future occasion.—Flag of
truce! I _won’t_ render my keep, and I’ll tell you why: Elizabeth
Fitzgerald _may_ get another _husband_, but Elizabeth Fitzgerald may
never get another _castle_; so I’ll keep what I have; and if you don’t
get off faster than your legs can readily carry you, my warders will try
which is hardest, your skull or a stone bullet.”

The O’Cahils kept their word, and old Squire Stephen Fitzgerald, in a
short time, was seen dangling and performing various evolutions in the
air, to the great amusement of the Jacobites, the mortification of the
warders, and chagrin (which however was not without a spice of
_consolation_) of my great-aunt, Elizabeth.

This magnanimous lady, after Squire Stephen had been duly cut down,
waked, and deposited in his garden, conceived that she might enjoy her
castle with tranquillity; but, to guard against every chance, she
replenished her stony magazine; had a wide trench dug before the gate of
the castle; and pit-falls, covered with green sods, having sharp stakes
driven within, scattered round it on every side—the passage through
these being only known to the faithful warders. She contrived, besides,
a species of defence that I have not seen mentioned in the Pacata
Hibernia, or any of the murderous annals of Ireland: it consisted of a
heavy beam of wood, well loaded with iron at the bottom, and suspended
by a pulley and cord from the top of the castle, and which, on any
future assault, she could let down through the projecting hole over the
entrance;—alternately, with the aid of a few strong warders above,
raising and letting it drop smash among the enemy who attempted to gain
admittance below,—thereby pounding them as if with a pestle and mortar,
without the power of resistance on their part.

The castle-vaults were well victualled, and at all events could safely
defy any attacks of hunger; and as the enemy had none of those despotic
engines called cannon, my aunt’s garrison were at all points in
tolerable security. Indeed, fortunately for Elizabeth, there was not a
single piece of ordnance in the country, except those few which were
mounted in the Fort of Dunrally, or travelled with the king’s army; and,
to speak truth, fire-arms then would have been of little use, since
there was not sufficient gunpowder among all the people to hold an
hour’s fighting.

With these and some interior defences, Elizabeth imagined herself well
armed against all marauders, and quietly awaited a change of times and a
period of general security.

Close to the castle there was, and I believe still remains, a shallow
swamp and a dribbling stream of water, in which there is a stone with a
deep indenture on the top. It was about three feet high—very like a
short joint of one of the pillars of the Giant’s Causeway. This stone
was always full of limpid water, called St. Bridget’s water,—that holy
woman having been accustomed daily to kneel in prayer on one knee, till
she wore a hole in the top of the granite by the cap of her pious joint.
She then filled it with water, and _vanished_ from that country. It took
the saint a full month, however, to bore the hole to her satisfaction.

To this well, old Jug Ogie, the oldest piece of furniture in Moret
Castle, (she was an hereditary cook,) daily went for the purpose of
drawing the most sacred crystal she could, wherewith to boil her
mistress’s dinner; and also, as the well was _naturally_ consecrated, it
saved the priest a quantity of trouble in preparing holy water for the
use of the warders. It was _then_ also found to boil vastly quicker, and
ten times hotter, than any common water, with a very small modicum of
any kind of fuel. But the tradition ran that it would not boil _at all_
for a year and a day after Madam Elizabeth died. It was believed, also,
that a cow was poisoned, which had the presumption to drink some of it,
as a just judgment for a _beast_ attempting to turn _Christian_.

On one of these sallies of old Jug, some fellows (who, as it afterward
appeared, had with a very deep design lain in ambush) seized and were
carrying her off, when they were perceived by one of the watchmen from
the tower, who instantly gave an alarm, and some warders sallied after
them. Jug was rescued, and the enemy fled through the swamp; but not
before one of them had his head divided into two equal parts by the
hatchet of Keeran Karry, who was always at the head of the warders, and
the life and soul of the whole garrison.

The dead man turned out to be a son of Andrew M‘Mahon, a faction-man of
Reuben; but nobody could then guess the motive for endeavouring to carry
off old Jug, the most ancient hag in that country. However, the matter
soon became developed.

Elizabeth was accounted to be very rich,—the cleverest woman of her
day,—and she had a large demesne into the bargain: and finding the
sweets of independence, she refused matrimonial offers from many
quarters; but as her castle was, for those days, a durably safe
residence, such as the auctioneers of the present time would denominate
_a genuine undeniable mansion_, the country squires determined she
_should_ marry one of them, since marry willingly she would not—but they
nearly fell to loggerheads who should _run away_ with her. Almost every
one of them had previously put the question to her by _flag of truce_,
as they all stood in too much awe of the lady to do it personally: till
at length, teased by their importunities, she gave notice of her fixed
intention to _hang_ the next flag of truce who brought any such impudent
proposals of marriage.

Upon this information, it was finally agreed to decide by lot, at a full
meeting of her suitors, who should be the hero to surprise and carry off
Elizabeth by force, which was considered a matter of danger on account
of the warders, who would receive no other commandant, were well fed,
and very ferocious.

Elizabeth got wind of their design and place of meeting, which was to be
in the old castle of Reuben, near Athy. Eleven or twelve of the squires
privately attended at the appointed hour, and it was determined, that
whoever should be the lucky winner was to receive the aid and assistance
of the others in bearing away the prize, and gaining her hand. To this
effect, a league offensive and defensive was entered into between
them—one part of which went to destroy Elizabeth’s warders root and
branch; and to forward their object, it was desirable, if possible, to
procure some inmate of the castle, who, by fair or foul means, might be
induced to inform them of the best mode of entry: this caused the
attempt to carry off old Jug Ogie.

However, they were not long in want of a spy; for Elizabeth, hearing of
their plan from the gossoon[10] of Reuben (a nephew of Jug’s),
determined to take advantage of it. “My lady,” said Jug Ogie, “pretend
to turn me adrift in a dark night, and give out that my gossoon here was
found robbing you—they’ll soon get wind of it, and I’ll be the very
person the squires want—and then you’ll hear all.”


Footnote 10:

  A gossoon was then, and till very lately, an indispensable part of a
  country gentleman’s establishment;—a dirty, bare-legged boy, who could
  canter six miles an hour on all sorts of errands and messages—carry
  turf—draw water—light the fires—turn the spit, when the dog was
  absent, &c. tell lies, and eat _any thing_. One of these gossoons took
  a _run_ (as they call it) of ten miles and back for some person, and
  only required a large dram of whiskey for his payment.


The matter was agreed on, and old Jug Ogie and the gossoon were turned
out, as thieves, to the great surprise of the warders and the country.
But Jug was found and hired, as she expected; and soon comfortably
seated in the kitchen at Castle Reuben, with the gossoon, whom she took
in as kitchen-boy. She gave her tongue its full fling,—told a hundred
stories about her “_devil_ of a mistress,”—and undertook to inform the
squires of the best way to get to her apartment.

Elizabeth was now sure to learn every thing so soon as determined on.
The faction had arranged all matters for the capture:—the night of its
execution approached: the old cook prepared a good supper for the
_quality_:—the squires arrived, and the gossoon had to run only three
miles to give the lady the intelligence. Twelve cavaliers attended, each
accompanied by one of the ablest of his faction—for they were all afraid
of each other, whenever the wine should rise upwards; and they did not
take more for fear of discovery.

The lots, being formed of straws of different lengths, were held by
M‘Mahon, the host, who was disinterested; and the person of Elizabeth,
her fortune, and Moret castle, fell to the lot of M‘Carthy O’Moore, one
of the Cremorgan squires, and, according to tradition, as able-bodied,
stout a man as any in the whole country. The rest all swore to assist
him till death; and one in the morning was the time appointed for the
surprise of Elizabeth and her castle—while in the mean time they began
to enjoy the good supper of old Jug Ogie.

Castle Reuben had been one of the strongest places in the county,
situated on the river Barrow, in the midst of a swamp, which rendered it
nearly inaccessible. It had belonged to a natural son of one of the
Geraldines, who had his throat cut by Andy M‘Mahon, a game-keeper of his
own; and nobody choosing to interfere with the _sportsman_, he, with his
five sons, (all rapparees well-armed and wicked) remained peaceably in
possession of the castle, and now accommodated the squires during their
plot against Elizabeth.

That heroic dame, on her part, was not inactive; she informed her
warders of the scheme to force a new master on her and them; and many a
round oath she swore (with corresponding gesticulations, the description
of which would not be over agreeable to modern readers,) that she never
would grant her favours to mortal man, but preserve her castle and her
chastity to the last extremity.

The warders took fire at the attempt of the squires. They always
detested the _defensive_ system; and probably to that hatred may be
attributed a few of the robberies, burglaries, and burnings, which in
those times were considered in that neighbourhood as little more than
occasional pastimes.

“Arrah! lady,” said Keeran Karry, “how many rogues ’ill there be at
Reuben, as you larn, to-night?—arrah!”

“I hear four-and-twenty,” said Elizabeth, “besides the M‘Mahons.”

“Right, a’nuff,” said Keeran: “the fish in the Barrow must want
food this hard weather; and I can’t see why the rump of a rapparee
may not make as nice a tit-bit for them as any thing else:

All then began to speak together, and join most heartily in the
meditated attack on Reuben.

“Arrah! run for the priest,” says Ned Regan; “maybe yee’d like a touch
of his reverence’s office first, for fear there might be any _sin_ in

“I thought you’d like him with your brandy, warders,” said Elizabeth
with dignity: “I have him below: he’s _praying_ a little, and will be up
directly. The whole plan is ready for you, and Jug Ogie has the signal.
Here, Keeran,” giving him a green ribbon with a daub of old Squire
Fitzgerald, (who was hanged,) dangling therefrom, “if you and the
warders do not bring me the captain’s _ear_, you have neither the
courage of a weazel, nor—nor” (striking her breast hard with her able
hand) “even the revenge of a woman in yees.”

“Arrah, be asy, my lady!” said Keeran, “be asy! by my sowl, we’ll bring
you _four-and-twenty pair_, if your ladyship have any longing for the
ears of such villains, my lady!”

“Now, warders,” said Elizabeth, who was too cautious to leave her castle
totally unguarded, “as we are going to be just, let us also be generous;
only twenty-four of them, besides five or six of the M‘Mahons, will be
there. Now it would be an eternal disgrace to Moret, if we went to
overpower them by _numbers_: twenty-four chosen warders, Father Murphy
and the corporal, the gossoon and the piper, are all that shall leave
this castle to-night; and if Reuben is not a big bonfire by day-break
to-morrow, I hope none of you will come back to me again.”

The priest now made his appearance; he certainly seemed _rather_ as if
he had not been idle below during the colloquy on the leads; and the
deep impressions upon the bottle which he held in his hand, gave ground
to suppose that he had been very busy and earnest in his devotions.

“My flock!” said Father Murphy,—somewhat lispingly,—“my flock”—

“Arrah!” said Keeran Karry, “we’re not _sheep_ to-night: never mind your
flocks just now. Father! give us a couple of glasses a piece!—time
enough for _mutton-making_.”

“You are right, my chickens!” bellowed forth Father Murphy, throwing his
old black surtout over his shoulder, leaving the empty sleeves dangling
at full liberty, and putting a knife and fork in his pocket for ulterior
operations:—“I forgive every mother’s babe of you _every_ thing you
choose to do till sun-rise: but if you commit any sin after that time,
as big even as the blacks of my nele, I can’t take charge of yeer sowls,
without a chance of disappointing you.”

All was now in a bustle:—the brandy circulated merrily, and each warder
had in his own mind made mince-meat of three or four of the Reuben
faction, whose ears they fancied already in their pockets. The priest,
spitting on his thumb, marked down the “_De profundis_” in the leaves of
his double manual, to have it ready for the burials:—every man took his
long skeen in his belt—had a thick _club_, with a strong spike at the
end of it, slung with a stout leather thong to his wrist; and under his
coat, a sharp broad hatchet with a black blade and a crooked handle. And
thus, in silence, the twenty-five Moret warders, commanded by Keeran
Karry, set out with their priest, the piper, and the gossoon with a
copper pot slung over his shoulders as a drum, and a piece of a poker in
his hand, to beat it with, on their expedition to the castle of Reuben.

Before twelve o’clock, the warders, the priest, Keeran Karry, and the
castle piper, had arrived in the utmost silence and secrecy. In that
sort of large half-inhabited castle, the principal entrance was through
the farm-yard, which was, indeed, generally the only assailable quarter.
In the present instance, the gate was half open, and the house lights
appeared to have been collected in the rear, as was judged from their
reflection in the water of the Barrow, which ran close under the
windows. A noise was heard, but not of drunkenness;—it was a sound as of
preparation for battle. Now and then a clash of steel, as if persons
were practising at the sword or skeen for the offensive, was going
forward in the back hall; and a loud laugh was occasionally heard. The
warders foresaw it would not be so easy a business as they had
contemplated, and almost regretted that they had not brought a less
chivalrous numerical force.

It was concerted that ten men should creep upon their hands and feet to
the front entrance, and await there until, by some accident, it might be
sufficiently open for the ferocious rush which was to surprise their

But Keeran, always discreet, had some forethought that more than usual
caution would be requisite. He had counted on dangers which the others
had never dreamt of, and his prudence, in all probability, saved the
lives of many of the warders. He preceded his men, crawling nearly on
his breast; he had suspected that a dog overheard them, and a bark soon
confirmed the truth of that suspicion, and announced the possibility of
discovery. Keeran, however, was prepared for this circumstance; he had
filled his pockets with pieces of bacon impregnated with a concentrated
preparation of nux vomica, then, and at a much later period, well known
to the clergy and spirituals on the continent.[11] Its fatal effect on
dogs was instantaneous; and the savoury bacon having rendered them quite
greedy to devour it, it had now an immediate influence on two great
mastiffs and a wolf-dog who roamed about the yard at nights. On taking
each a portion, they resigned their share of the contest without further


Footnote 11:

  It was formerly used by nuns, monks, &c. in the warm climates to
  _temper their blood_ withal. There is a sort of cooling root sold at
  the herbalists in Paris at present, of which the young _religieuses_
  of both sexes are said to make a cheap, palatable, and powerful
  _anti-satanic ptisan_. It is displayed in the shops on strings, like
  dried lemon-peel.


Keeran thus advanced crawling to the door; he found it fast, but on
listening, soon had reason to conjecture that the inmates were too
numerous and well armed to make the result of the battle at all certain.
He crept back to the hedge; and having informed the warders of the
situation in which they were placed, one and all swore that they would
enter or die. The priest had lain himself down under a hay-stack in the
outer yard, and the piper had retired nobody knew where, nor in fact did
any body care much about him, as he was but a very indifferent chanter.

Keeran now desired the warders to handle their hatchets, and be prepared
for an attack so soon as they should see the front door open, and hear
three strokes on the copper kettle. The gossoon had left that machine on
a spot which he had described near the gate, and Keeran requested that,
in case of any fire, they should not mind it till the kettle sounded. He
then crawled away, and they saw no more of him.

The moments were precious, and seemed to advance too fast. At one
o’clock, a body armed possibly better than themselves, and probably much
more numerous, would issue from the castle on their road to Moret,
prepared for combat. The result in such a case might be very precarious.
The warders by no means felt pleased with their situation; and the
absence of their leader, priest, and piper gave no additional ideas of
conquest or even security. In this state of things near half an hour had
elapsed, when of a sudden they perceived, on the side of the hay-yard
toward their own position, a small blaze of fire issue from a
corn-stack—in a moment another, and another! The conflagration was most
impetuous; it appeared to be devouring every thing, but as yet was not
perceived by the inmates at the rear of the house. At length volumes of
flame illuminated by reflection the waters of the river under the back
windows. The warders now expecting the sally, rubbed their hands well
with bees’ wax, and grasped tightly their hatchets, yet moved
not:—breathless, with a ferocious anxiety, they awaited the event in
almost maddening suspense. A loud noise now issued from the interior of
the house; the fire was perceived by the garrison—still it might be
accidental—the front door was thrown open, and above thirty of the
inmates poured out, some fully, others not fully armed. They rushed into
the hay-yard—some cried out it was “treachery!” whilst others
vociferated “accident! accident!”—All was confusion, and many a stout
head afterward paid for its incredulity.

At that moment the copper kettle was beaten rapidly and with force:—a
responsive sound issued from the house—the garrison hesitated, but
hesitation was quickly banished; for on the first blow of the kettle,
the warders, in a compact body, with hideous yells, rushed on the
astonished garrison, who had no conception who their enemies could be.
Every hatchet found its victim; limbs, features, hands, were chopped off
without mercy—death or dismemberment followed nearly every blow of that
brutal weapon, whilst the broad sharp skeens soon searched the bodies of
the wounded, and almost half the garrison were annihilated before they
were aware of the foe by whom they had been surprised. The survivors,
however, soon learned the cause (perhaps merited) of their comrades’
slaughter. The war cry of “A Gerald!—a Gerald!—a Gerald!”—which now
accompanied every crash of the murderous hatchet, or every plunge of the
broad-bladed skeen, informed them who they were fighting with:—fifteen
or sixteen still remained unwounded of the garrison—their case was
desperate. Keeran Karry now headed his warders. The gossoon rapidly and
fiercely struck the copper, in unison with the sound of the fatal
weapons, whilst the old and decrepit Jug Ogie, within the castle,
repeated the same sound, thereby leading the garrison to believe that to
retreat inside the walls would only be to encounter a fresh enemy.

The affair, however, was far from being finished;—the survivors rapidly
retired, and got in a body to the position first occupied by Keeran’s
warders. They were desperate—they knew they must die, and determined not
to go alone to the other regions. The flames still raged with
irresistible fury in the hay-yard. It was Keeran who had set fire to the
corn and hay, which materials produced an almost supernatural height of
blaze and impetuosity of conflagration. The survivors of the garrison
were at once fortified, and concealed from view, by a high holly hedge,
and awaited their turn to become assailants:—it soon arrived.

From the midst of the burning ricks in the hay-yard a shrill and
piercing cry was heard to issue, of “Ough, murther—murther!—the
devil—the devil! ough Holy Virgin, save me! if there is any marcy, save
me!” The voice was at once recognised by the warriors of Moret as that
of their priest Ned Murphy, who had fallen asleep under a hay-stack, and
never awakened till the flames had seized upon his cloak. Bewildered, he
knew not how to escape, being met, wherever he ran, by crackling masses.
He roared and cursed to the full extent of his voice; and gave himself
up for lost, though fortunately, as the materials of his habit did not
associate with flame, he was not dangerously burned, although suffering
somewhat in his legs. No sooner did they perceive his situation, than
the warders, each man forgetting himself, rushed to save their _clergy_,
on whom they conceived the salvation of their souls entirely to depend.
They imagined that the fight was ended, and prepared to enjoy themselves
by the plunder of Castle Reuben.

This was the moment for the defeated garrison:—with a loud yell of “a
Moore! a Moore! a Moore!” they fell in their turn upon the entangled
warders in the hay-yard, five of whose original number had been wounded,
and one killed, in the first fray; whilst many had subsequently thrown
down their hatchets, to rescue their pastor, and had only their spikes
and skeens wherewith to defend themselves. The battle now became more
serious, because more doubtful, than at its commencement. Several of the
warders were wounded, and four more lay dead at the entrance to the
hay-yard; their spirit was dashed, and their adversaries laid on with
the fury of desperation. Keeran Karry had received two sword-thrusts
through his shoulder, and could fight no more; but he could do better—he
could command. He called to the warders to retreat and take possession
of the castle, which was now untenanted: this step saved them; they
retired thither with all possible rapidity, pursued by the former
garrison of the place, who however were not able to enter with them, but
killed another man before the doors were fast closed. Keeran directed
the thick planks and flag-stones to be torn up, thereby leaving the hall
open to the cellar beneath, as had been done at Moret. The enemy were at
bay at the door, and could not advance, but, on the other hand, many of
the warders having, as we before stated, flung away their hatchets, were
ill armed. The moment was critical: Keeran, however, was never at a loss
for some expedient; he counted his men; five had been killed in the
hay-yard, and one just outside the walls; several others were wounded,
amongst whom was the piper, who had been asleep. Keeran told the warders
that he feared the sun might rise on their total destruction, if
something were not immediately done. “Are there,” said he, “five among
ye, who are willing to swap your lives for the victory?” Every man cried
out at once—and, I!—I!—I!—echoed through the hall. “It is well!” said
Keeran, who without delay directed five men, and the gossoon with the
copper kettle, to steal out at the back of the castle, creep through the
hedges, and get round directly into the rear of the foe before they
attacked; having succeeded in which, they were immediately to advance,
beating the vessel strongly.—“They will suppose,” said the warlike
Keeran, “that it is a reinforcement, and we shall then return the sound
from within. If they believe it to be a reinforcement, they will submit
to mercy: if not, we’ll attack them front and rear—and as our numbers
are pretty equal, very few of us on either side will tell the story to
our childer! but we’ll have as good a chance, at any rate, as them

This scheme was carried into immediate execution, and completely
succeeded. The enemy, who were now grouped outside the door, hearing the
kettle in their rear, supposed that they should be at once attacked by
sally and from behind. Thinking they had now only to choose between
death and submission, the mercy, which was offered, they accepted; and
peep-o’day being arrived, the vanquished agreed to throw their arms into
the well,—to swear before the priest that they never would disturb, or
aid in disturbing, Lady Elizabeth or the castle of Moret,—that no man on
either side should be called upon by law for his fighting that night;
and finally, that the person who had succeeded in drawing the lot for
Elizabeth, should deliver up the lock of his hair that grew next his
ear, to testify his submission: this latter clause, however, was
stipulated needlessly, as M‘Carthy O’Moore was discovered in the
farm-yard, with nearly all his face sliced off, and several skeen wounds
in his arms and body. Early in the morning, the dead were buried without
noise or disturbance in a consecrated gravel-pit, and both parties
breakfasted together in perfect cordiality and good-humour: those who
fell were mostly tenants of the squires. The priest, having had his
burnt legs and arm dressed with _chewed herbs_[12] by Jug Ogie, said a
full mass, and gave all parties double absolution, as the affair was
completed by the rising of the sun. The yard was cleared of blood and
havock; the warders and garrison parted in perfect friendship; and the
former returned to Moret Castle, bringing back Jug Ogie to her impatient
mistress. Of the warders, thirteen returned safe; six remained behind
badly wounded, and six were dead. Keeran’s wounds were severe, but they
soon healed; and Elizabeth afterward resided at Moret to a very late
period in the reign of George the First. Reuben soon changed its
occupant, M‘Mahon, who, in the sequel, was hanged for the murder of his
master; and that part of the country has since become one of the most
civilized of the whole province.


Footnote 12:

  I believe that most countries produce simple herbs, of a nature
  adapted to the cure of diseases prevalent in their respective
  climates. The old Irishwomen formerly had wonderful skill in finding
  and applying such remedies; they chewed the herbs into a sort of pap,
  and then extracted the juice, for the patient to take inwardly—whilst
  the substance was applied as a poultice.

  Many of the rebels told me, after 1798, that having no doctors, the
  country bone-setters and the “_Colloughs_” (old women) soon cured
  their flesh-wounds and broken limbs: “but,” added they, “when a _boy’s
  skull_ was _smash’d_, there was no more _good_ in him.”


I have given the foregoing little history in full, inasmuch as it is but
little known—is, I believe, strictly matter of fact, and exhibits a
curious picture of the state of Irish society and manners in or about
the year 1690. A small part of Moret castle is still standing, and
presents a very great curiosity. One single ivy tree has, for a period
beyond the memory of man, enveloped the entire ruins; has insinuated its
tendrils through the thick walls; penetrated every seam and aperture;
and now contributes to display one solid mass of combined masonry and
foliage. It stands on the old Byrne (now Lansdowne) estate, about a mile
from the great heath, Queen’s County.


Instances of attachment formerly of the lower orders of Irish to the
  gentry—A field of corn of my father’s reaped in one night without his
  knowledge—My grandfather’s servants cut a man’s ears off by
  misinterpretation—My grandfather and grandmother tried for the
  fact—Acquitted—The colliers of Donane—Their fidelity at my election at
  Ballynakill, 1790.

The numerous and remarkable instances, which came within my own
observation, of mutual attachment between the Irish peasantry and their
landlords in former times, would, were I to detail them, fill volumes. A
few only will suffice, in addition to what has already been stated, to
show the nature of that reciprocal good-will, which, on many occasions,
was singularly useful to both parties; and in selecting these instances
from such as occurred in my own family, I neither mean to play the vain
egotist, nor to determine generals by particulars, since good landlords
and attached peasantry were then spread over the entire face of Ireland,
and bore a great proportion to the whole country. Were that the case at
present, Ireland would be an aid, and a substantial friend, instead of a
burthen and a troublesome neighbour to her sister island. He must be a
good prophet that can even now foresee the final results of the Union.

I remember that a very extensive field of corn of my father’s had once
become too ripe, inasmuch as all the reapers in the country were
employed in getting in their own scanty crops before they shedded. Some
of the servants had heard my father regret that he could not by
possibility get in his reapers without taking them from these little
crops, and that he would sooner lose his own.

This field was within full view of our windows. My father had given up
the idea of being able to cut his corn in due time. One morning, when he
rose, he could not believe his sight:—he looked—rubbed his eyes—called
the servants, and asked them if they saw _any thing odd_ in the
field:—they certainly did—for, on our family retiring to rest the night
before, the whole body of the peasantry of the country, after their hard
labour during the day, had come upon the great field, and had reaped and
stacked it before dawn! None of them would even tell him who had a hand
in it. Similar instances of affection repeatedly took place; and no
tenant on any of the estates of my family was ever distrained, or even
pressed, for rent. Their gratitude for this knew no bounds; and the only
individuals who ever annoyed them were the parsons, by their proctors,
and the tax-gatherers for hearth-money; and though hard cash was scant
with both landlord and tenant, and no small bank-notes had got into
circulation, provisions were plentiful, and but little inconvenience was
experienced by the peasantry from want of a circulating medium. There
was constant residence and work—no banks and no machinery; and though
the people might not be quite so refined, most undoubtedly they were
vastly happier.

But a much more characteristic proof than the foregoing of the
extraordinary devotion of the lower to the higher orders of Ireland, in
former times, occurred in my family, and is publicly on record.

My grandfather, Mr. French, of County Galway, was a remarkably small,
nice little man, but of extremely irritable temperament. He was an
excellent swordsman, and proud to excess: indeed, of family pride,
Galway County was at that time the focus, and not without some reason.

Certain relics of feudal arrogance frequently set the neighbours and
their adherents together by the ears:—my grandfather had conceived a
contempt for, and antipathy to, a sturdy _half-mounted_ gentleman, one
Mr. Dennis Bodkin, who, having an independent mind, entertained an equal
aversion to the arrogance of my grandfather, whom he took every possible
opportunity of irritating and opposing.

My grandmother, an O’Brien, was high and proud—steady and sensible—but
disposed to be rather violent at times in her contempts and animosities;
and entirely agreed with her husband in his detestation of Mr. Dennis

On some occasion or other, Mr. Dennis had outdone his usual outdoings,
and chagrined the squire and his lady most outrageously. A large company
dined at my grandfather’s, and my grandmother launched out in her abuse
of Dennis, concluding her exordium by an hyperbole of hatred expressed,
but not at all meant, in these words:—“I wish the fellow’s ears were cut
off! _that_ might quiet him.”

It passed over as usual: the subject was changed, and all went on
comfortably till supper; at which time, when every body was in full
glee, the old butler, Ned Regan (who had drunk enough), came in:—joy was
in his eye; and whispering something to his mistress which she did not
comprehend, he put a large snuff-box into her hand. Fancying it was some
whim of her old domestic, she opened the box and shook out its
contents:—when, lo! a considerable portion of a pair of bloody ears
dropped upon the table!—The horror and surprise of the company may be
conceived: on which Ned exclaimed—“Sure, my lady, you wished that Dennis
Bodkin’s ears were cut off; so I told old Gahagan (the game-keeper), and
he took a few boys with him, and brought back Dennis Bodkin’s ears—and
there they are; and I hope you are plazed, my lady!”

The scene may be imagined;—but its results had like to have been of a
more serious nature. The sportsman and the _boys_ were ordered to get
off as fast as they could; but my grandfather and grandmother were held
to heavy bail, and tried at the ensuing assizes at Galway. The evidence
of the entire company, however, united in proving that my grandmother
never had an idea of any such order, and that it was a misapprehension
on the part of the servants. They were, of course, acquitted. The
sportsman never re-appeared in the county till after the death of Dennis
Bodkin, which took place three years subsequently, when old Gahagan was
reinstated as game-keeper.

This anecdote may give the reader an idea of the devotion of servants,
in those days, to their masters. But the order of things is reversed—and
the change of times cannot be better illustrated than by the propensity
servants now have to rob (and, if convenient, murder) the families from
whom they derive their daily bread. Where the remote error lies, I know
not; but certainly the ancient fidelity of domestics seems to be totally
out of fashion with those gentry at present.

A more recent instance of the same feeling as that indicated by the two
former anecdotes,—namely, the devotion of the country people to old
settlers and families,—occurred to myself; and, as I am upon the
subject, I will mention it. I stood a contested election, in the year
1790, for the borough of Ballynakill, for which my ancestors had
returned two members to Parliament during nearly 200 years. It was
usurped by the Marquis of Drogheda, and I contested it.

On the day of the election, my eldest brother and myself being
candidates, and the business preparing to begin, a cry was heard that
the whole _colliery_ was coming down from Donane, about eight miles off.
The returning officer, Mr. Trench, lost no time: six voters were polled
against me; mine were refused generally in mass; the books were
repacked, and the result of the poll declared—the election ended, and my
opponents just retiring from the town,—when seven or eight hundred
colliers were seen entering it with colours flying and pipers playing;
their faces were all blackened, and a more tremendous assemblage was
scarce ever witnessed. After the usual shoutings, they all rushed into
the town with loud cries of “A Barrinton! a Barrinton! Who dares say
_black_ is the _white_ of his eye? Down with the Droghedas!—We don’t
forget Ballyragget yet!—Oh, cursed Sandy Cahill!—High for Donane!” &c.

The chief captain came up to me:—“Counsellor, dear!” said he, “we’re all
come from Donane to help your honour against the villains that oppose
you:—we’re the boys that can _tittivate_!—Barrinton for ever!
hurra!”—Then coming close to me, and lowering his tone, he
added,—“Counsellor, jewel! _which_ of the villains shall we _settle

To quiet him, I shook his black hand, told him nobody should be hurt,
and that the gentlemen had all left the town.

“Left the town?” said he, quite disappointed: “Why then, counsellor,
we’ll be after overtaking them. Barrinton for ever!—Donane, boys!—Come
on, boys! we’ll be after the Droghedas.”

I feared that I had no control over the riotous humour of the colliers,
and knew but one mode of keeping them quiet. I desired Billy Howard, the
innkeeper, to bring out all the ale he had; and having procured many
barrels in addition, together with all the bread and cheese in the
place, I set them at it as hard as might be. I told them I was sure of
being elected in Dublin, and “_to stay azy_” (their own language); and
in a little time I saw them as tractable as lambs. They made a bonfire
in the evening, and about ten o’clock I left them as happy and merry a
set of colliers as ever existed. Such as were able strolled back in the
night; the others next morning; and not the slightest injury was done to
any body or any thing.

The above was a totally unexpected and voluntary proof of the
disinterested and ardent attachment of the Irish country people to all
who they thought would protect or procure them justice.[13]


Footnote 13:

  Here I wish to observe the distinction which occurs to me as existing
  between the attachment of the Scottish Highlanders to their lairds and
  the ardent love of the Irish peasantry to their landlords—(I mean, in
  my early days, when their landlords loved them.)

  With the Highlanders—consanguinity, a common name, and the
  prescriptive authority of the Scottish chief over his military clan,
  (altogether combining the ties of blood and feudal obedience) exerted
  a powerful and impetuous influence on the mind of the vassal. Yet
  their natural character—fierce though calculating—desperate and
  decisive—generated a sort of independent subserviency, mingled with
  headstrong propensities which their lairds often found it very
  difficult to moderate, and occasionally impossible to restrain when
  upon actual service.

  The Irish peasantry, more witty and less wise, thoughtless,
  enthusiastically ardent, living in an unsophisticated way but at the
  same time less secluded than the Highlanders, entertained an
  hereditary, voluntary, uninfluenced love for the whole family of their
  landlords. Though no consanguinity bound the two classes to each
  other, and no feudal power enforced the fidelity of the inferior one,
  their chiefs resided in their very hearts:—they obeyed because they
  loved them: their affection, founded on gratitude, was simple and
  unadulterated, and they would count their lives well lost for the
  honour of their landlords. In the midst of the deepest poverty, their
  attachment was more cheerful, more free, yet more cordial and
  generous, than that of any other peasantry to any chiefs in Europe.

  The Irish modes of expressing fondness for any of the family of the
  old landlords (families which, alas! have now nearly deserted their
  country) are singular and affecting. I witnessed, not long since, a
  genuine example of this, near the old mansion of my family.—“Augh
  then! Musha! Musha! the owld times!—the owld times!—Ough! then my owld
  eyes see a B—— —before I die. ’Tis I that loved the breed of
  yees—ough! ’tis myself that would kiss the track of his honour’s feet
  in the guther, if he was alive to lead us! Ough! God rest his sowl!
  any how! Ough! a-vourneen! a-vourneen!”

  Yet these peasants were all papists, and their landlords all
  protestants:—religion, indeed, was never thought of in the matter. If
  the landlords had continued the same, the tenantry would not have
  altered. But under the present system, the populace of Ireland will
  never long remain tranquil, whilst at the same time it is increasing
  in number—an increase that cannot be got rid of:—hang, shoot, and
  exile five hundred thousand Irish, the number will scarcely be missed,
  and in two years the country will be as full as ever again.

  It is not my intention to enumerate the several modes recommended for
  reducing the Irish population, by remote and recent politicians; from
  Sir William Petty’s project for _transporting the men_,—to Dean
  Swift’s scheme of _eating the children_, and the modern idea of
  _famishing the adults_. A variety of plans may yet, I conceive, be
  devised, without applying to either of these _remedies_.


                             MY EDUCATION.

My godfathers—Lord Maryborough—Personal description and extraordinary
  character of Mr. Michael Lodge—My early education—At home—At school—My
  private tutor, Rev. P. Crawley, described—Defects of the University
  course—Lord Donoughmore’s father—Anecdote of the Vice-Provost—A
  country sportsman’s education.

A christening was, formerly, a great family epocha:—my godfathers were
Mr. Pool of Ballyfin, and Captain Pigott of Brocologh Park; and I must
have been a very pleasant infant, for Mr. Pool, having no children,
desired to take me home with him, in which case I should probably have
cut out of feather a very good person and a very kind friend—the present
Lord Maryborough, whom Mr. Pool afterwards adopted whilst a midshipman
in the navy, and bequeathed him a noble demesne and a splendid estate
near my father’s. My family have always supported Lord Maryborough for
Queen’s County, and his lordship’s tenants supported me in my
hard-contested election for Maryborough in 1800.

No public functionary could act more laudably than Mr. Pool did whilst
secretary in Ireland; and it must be a high gratification to him to
reflect that, in the year 1800, he did not sell his vote, nor abet the
degradation of his country.

Captain Pigott expressed the same desire to patronise me as Mr.
Pool;—received a similar refusal, and left his property, I believe, to a
parcel of hospitals: whilst I was submitted to the guardianship of
Colonel Jonah Barrington, and the instructions of Mr. Michael Lodge, a
person of very considerable consequence in my early memoirs, and to
whose ideas and eccentricities I really believe I am indebted for a
great proportion of my own, and certainly not the worst of them.

Mr. George Lodge had married a love-daughter of old Stephen Fitzgerald,
Esq. of Bally Thomas, who by affinity was a relative of the house of
Cullenaghmore, and from this union sprang Mr. Michael Lodge.

I never shall forget his figure!—he was a tall man with thin legs and
great hands, and was generally biting one of his nails whilst employed
in teaching me. The top of his head was half bald: his remaining hair
was clubbed with a rose-ribbon; a tight stock, with a large silver
buckle to it behind, appeared to be almost choking him: his chin and
jaws were very long: and he used to hang his under jaw, shut one eye,
and look up to the ceiling, when he was thinking, or trying to recollect
any thing.

Mr. Michael Lodge had been what is called a Matross in the artillery
service. My grandfather had got him made a gauger; but he was turned
adrift for letting a poor man do something wrong about distilling. He
then became a land-surveyor and architect for the farmers:—he could
farry, cure cows of the murrain, had numerous secrets about cattle and
physic, and was accounted the best bleeder and bone-setter in that
county—all of which healing accomplishments he exercised gratis. He was
also a famous brewer and accountant—in fine, was every thing at
Cullenagh: steward, agent, caterer, farmer, sportsman, secretary, clerk
to the colonel as a magistrate, and also clerk to Mr. Barret as the
parson: but he would not sing a stave in church, though he’d chant
indefatigably in the hall. He had the greatest contempt for women, and
used to beat the maid-servants; whilst the men durst not vex him, as he
was quite despotic! He had a turning-lathe, a number of grinding-stones,
and a carpenter’s bench, in his room. He used to tin the saucepans,
which act he called _chymistry_; and I have seen him, like a tailor,
putting a new cape to his riding-coat! He made all sorts of nets, and
knit stockings; but above all, he piqued himself on the variety and
depth of his _learning_.

Under the tuition of this Mr. Michael Lodge, who was surnamed the “wise
man of Cullenaghmore,” I was placed at four years of age, to learn as
much of the foregoing as he could teach me in the next five years: at
the expiration of which period he had no doubt of my knowing as much as
himself, and then (he said) I should go to school “_to teach the

This idea of teaching the master was the greatest possible incitement to
me; and as there was no other child in the house, I never was idle, but
was as inquisitive and troublesome as can be imagined. Every thing was
explained to me; and I not only got on surprisingly, but my memory was
found to be so strong, that Mr. Michael Lodge told my grandfather _half
learning_ would answer me as well as _whole learning_ would another
child. In truth, before my sixth year, I was making a very great hole in
Mr. Lodge’s stock of information (fortification and gunnery excepted),
and I verily believe he only began to learn many things himself when he
commenced teaching them to me.

He took me a regular course by Horn-book, Primer, Spelling-book,
Reading-made-Easy, Æsop’s Fables, &c.: but I soon aspired to such of the
old library books as had pictures in them; and particularly, a very
large History of the Bible with cuts was my constant study. Hence I knew
how every saint was murdered; and Mr. Lodge not only told me that each
martyr had a painter to take his portrait before death, but also fully
explained to me how they had all sat for their pictures, and assured me
that most of them had been murdered by the Papists. I recollect at this
day the faces of every one of them at their time of martyrdom; so
strongly do youthful impressions sink into the mind, when derived from
objects which at the time were viewed with interest.[14]


Footnote 14:

  Formerly the chimneys were all covered with tiles, having
  scripture-pieces, examples of natural history, &c. daubed on them; and
  there being a great variety, the father or mother (sitting of a
  winter’s evening round the hearth with the young ones) explained the
  meaning of the tiles out of the Bible, &c.; so that the impression was
  made without being called a lesson, and the child acquired knowledge
  without thinking that it was being taught. So far as it went, this was
  one of the best modes of instruction.


Be this as it may, however, my wise man, Mr. Michael Lodge, used his
heart, head, and hands, as zealously as he could to teach me most things
that he did know, and many things he did not know; but with a skill
which none of our schoolmasters practise, he made me think he was only
amusing instead of giving me a task. The old man tried to make me
inquisitive, and inclined to ask about the thing which he wanted to
explain to me; and consequently, at eight years old I could read prose
and poetry,—write text,—draw a house, a horse, and a game-cock,—tin a
copper saucepan, and turn my own tops. I could do the manual exercise
with my grandfather’s crutch; and had learnt, besides, how to make
bullets, pens, and black-ball; to dance a jig, sing a _cronaune_,[15]
and play the Jew’s harp. Michael also showed me, out of scripture, how
the world stood stock still whilst the sun was galloping round it; so
that it was no easy matter at college to satisfy me as to the Copernican
system. In fact, the old Matross gave me such a various and whimsical
assemblage of subjects to think about, that my young brain imbibed as
many odd, chivalrous, and puzzling theories as would drive some children
out of their senses; and, truly, I found it no easy matter to get rid of
several of them when it became absolutely necessary, whilst some I shall
certainly retain till my death’s day.


Footnote 15:

  The _Cronaune_ had _no words_; it was a curious species of song, quite
  peculiar, I believe, to Ireland, and executed by drawing in the
  greatest possible portion of breath, and then making a sound like a
  humming-top:—whoever could _hum_ the longest, was accounted the best
  Cronauner. In many country gentlemen’s houses, there was a fool kept
  for the express purpose, who also played the trump, or Jews’-harp;
  some of them in a surprising manner.


This course of education I most sedulously followed, until it pleased
God to suspend my learning by the death of my grandfather, on whom I
doted. He had taught me the broad-sword exercise with his cane, how to
snap a pistol, and shoot with the bow and arrow; and had bespoken a
little quarter-staff, to perfect me in that favourite exercise of his
youth, by which he had been enabled to knock a gentleman’s brains out
for a wager, on the ridge of Maryborough, in company with the great
grandfather of the present Judge Arthur Moore, of the Common Pleas of
Ireland. It is a whimsical gratification to me, to think that I do not
at this moment forget much of the said instruction which I received
either from Michael Lodge, the Matross, or from Colonel Jonah
Barrington,—though after a lapse of nearly sixty years!

A new scene was now to be opened to me. I was carried to Dublin, and put
to the famous schoolmaster of that day, Dr. Ball, of St.
Michael-a-Powell’s, Ship-street;—one of the old round towers still
stands in the yard—towers which defy all tradition. Here my puzzling
commenced in good earnest. I was required to learn the _English_ Grammar
in the _Latin_ tongue; and to translate languages without understanding
any of them. I was taught prosody without verse, and rhetoric without
composition; and before I had ever heard any oration, except a sermon, I
was flogged for not minding my emphasis in recitation. To complete my
satisfaction,—for fear I should be idle during the course of the week,
castigation was regularly administered every Monday morning, to give me,
by anticipation, a sample of what the _repetition day_ might produce.

However, notwithstanding all this, I worked my way, got two premiums,
and at length was reported fit to be placed under the hands of a private
tutor, by whom I was to be _finished_ for the University.

That tutor was well known many years in Digges-street, Dublin, and cut a
still more extraordinary figure than the Matross. He was the Rev.
Patrick Crawly, Rector of Killgobbin, whose son was hanged a few years
ago for murdering two old women with a shoemaker’s hammer. My tutor’s
person was, in my imagination, of the same genus as that of Caliban. His
feet covered a considerable space of any room wherein he stood, and his
thumbs were so large that he could scarcely hold a book without hiding
more than half the page of it:—though bulky himself, his clothes doubled
the dimensions proper to suit his body; and an immense frowzy wig,
powdered once a week, covered a head which, for size and form, might vie
with a quarter-cask.

Vaccination not having as yet plundered horned cattle of their
disorders, its predecessor had left evident proofs of attachment to the
rector’s countenance. That old Christian malady, the small-pox, which
had resided so many centuries amongst our ancestors, and which modern
innovations have endeavoured to undermine, had placed his features in a
perfect state of compactness and security—each being sewed quite tight
to its neighbour, every seam appearing deep and gristly, so that the
whole visage appeared to defy alike the edge of the sharpest scalpel and
the skill of the most expert anatomist.

Yet this was as good-hearted a parson as ever lived:—affectionate,
friendly, and, so far as Greek, Latin, Prosody, and Euclid went,
excelled by few: and under him I acquired, in one year, more classical
knowledge than I had done during the former six,—whence I was enabled,
out of thirty-six pupils, to obtain an early place in the University of
Dublin, at entrance.

The college course, at that time, though a very learned one, was ill
arranged, pedantic, and totally out of sequence. Students were examined
in “Locke on the Human Understanding,” before their own had arrived at
the first stage of maturity; and Euclid was pressed upon their reason
before any one of them could comprehend a single problem. We were set to
work at the most abstruse sciences before we had well digested the
simpler ones, and posed ourselves at optics, natural philosophy, ethics,
astronomy, mathematics, metaphysics, &c. &c. without the least relief
from belles-lettres, modern history, geography, or poetry; in short,
without regard to any of those acquirements—the classics excepted,—which
form essential parts of a gentleman’s education.[16]


Footnote 16:

  Mr. Hutchinson, a later provost, father of Lord Donoughmore, went into
  the opposite extreme; a most excellent classical scholar himself,
  polished and well read, he wished to introduce every elegant branch of
  erudition:—to cultivate the modern languages,—in short, to adapt the
  course to the education of men of rank as well as men of science. The
  plan was most laudable, but was considered not monastic enough:
  indeed, a polished gentleman would have operated like a ghost among
  those pedantic Fellows of Trinity College. Dr. Waller was the only
  Fellow of that description I ever saw.

  Mr. Hutchinson went too far in proposing a riding-house. The scheme
  drew forth from Dr. Duigenan a pamphlet called “Pranceriana,” which
  turned the project and projector into most consummate, but very coarse
  and ill-natured ridicule.

  Doctor Barrett, late vice-provost, dining at the table of the new
  provost, who lived in a style of elegance attempted by none of his
  predecessors, helped himself to what he thought a peach, but which
  happened to be a shape made of ice. On taking it into his mouth, never
  having tasted ice before, he supposed, from the pang given to his
  teeth and the shock which his tongue and mouth instantly received,
  that the sensation was produced by heat. Starting up, therefore, he
  cried out (and it was the only oath he ever uttered), “I’m _scalded_,
  by G—d!”—ran home, and sent for the next apothecary!


Nevertheless, I jogged on with _bene_ for the classics—_satis_ for the
sciences—and _mediocriter_ for mathematics. I had, however, the
mortification of seeing the stupidest fellows I ever met, at school or
college, beat me out of the field in some of the examinations, and very
justly obtain premiums for sciences which I could not bring within the
scope of my comprehension.

My consolation is, that many men of superior talent to myself came off
no better; and I had the _satisfaction_ of hearing that some of the most
erudite, studious, and pedantic of my contemporary collegians, who
entertained an utter contempt for me, went out of their senses; and I do
believe that there are at this moment some of the most eminent of my
academic rivals amusing themselves in mad-houses. One of them I lamented
much—he still lives; his case is a most extraordinary one, and I shall
mention it hereafter:—’twill puzzle the doctors.

Whenever, indeed, I seek amusement by tracing the fate of such of my
school and college friends as I can get information about, I find that
many of the most promising and conspicuous have met untimely ends; and
that most of those men whose great talents distinguished them first in
the university and afterward at the bar, had entered, as sizers, for
provision as well as for learning:—indigence and genius were thus
jointly concerned in their merited elevation; and I am convinced that
the finest abilities are frequently buried alive in affluence and in
luxury: _revolutions_ are sometimes their hot-bed, and at other times
their grave.

The death of my grandmother, which now took place, made a very
considerable change in my situation, and I had sense enough, though
still very young, to see the necessity of turning my mind toward a
preparation for some lucrative profession—either law, physic, divinity,
or war.

I debated on all these, as I thought, with great impartiality:—the
pedantry of the book-worms had disgusted me with clericals; wooden legs
put me out of conceit with warfare; the horrors of death made me shudder
at medicine; the law was but a lottery-trade, too precarious for my
taste; and mercantile pursuits were too humiliating for my ambition.
Nothing, on the other hand, could induce me to remain a _walking
gentleman_: and so, every occupation that I could think of having its
peculiar disqualification, I remained a considerable time in a state of
uncertainty and disquietude.

Meanwhile, although my choice had nothing to do with the matter, by
residing at my father’s I got almost imperceptibly engaged in that
species of _profession_ exercised by young sportsmen, whereby I was
initiated into a number of _accomplishments_ ten times worse than the
negative ones of the walking gentleman:—namely,—riding, drinking,
dancing, carousing, hunting, shooting, fishing, fighting, racing,
cock-fighting, &c. &c.

After my grandmother’s death, as my father’s country-house was my home,
so my two elder brothers became my _tutors_—the rustics my
_precedents_—and a newspaper my _literature_. However, the foundation
for my propensities had been too well laid to be easily rooted up; and
whilst I certainly, for awhile, indulged in the habits of those around
me, I was not at all idle as to the pursuits I had been previously
accustomed to. I had a pretty good assortment of books of my own, and
seldom passed a day without devoting some part of it to reading or
letter-writing; and though I certainly somewhat mis-spent, I cannot
accuse myself of having lost, the period I passed at Blandsfort—since I
obtained therein a full insight into the manners, habits, and
dispositions of the different classes of Irish, in situations and under
circumstances which permitted nature to exhibit her traits without
restraint or caution: building on which foundation, my greatest pleasure
has ever been that of decyphering character, adding to and embellishing
the superstructure which my experience and observation have since
conspired to raise.

It is quite impossible I can give a better idea of the dissipation of
that period, into which I was thus plunged, than by describing an
incident I shall never forget, and which occurred very soon after my
first _entrée_ into the sporting sphere.—It happened in the year 1778,
and was then no kind of novelty:—wherever there were hounds, a kennel,
and a huntsman, there was the same species of _scena_, (with variations,
however, _ad libitum_,) when the frost and bad weather put a stop to
field avocations.

                       IRISH DISSIPATION IN 1778.

The huntsman’s cottage—Preparations for a seven days’ carousal—A
  cock-fight—Welsh main—Harmony—A cow and a hogshead of wine consumed by
  the party—Comparison between former dissipation and that of the
  present day—A dandy at dinner in Bond-street—Captain Parsons Hoye and
  his nephew—Character and description of both—The nephew disinherited
  by his uncle for dandyism—Curious anecdote of Dr. Jenkins piercing
  Admiral Cosby’s fist.

Close to the kennel of my father’s hounds, he had built a small cottage,
which was occupied solely by an old huntsman, (Matthew Querns,) his
older wife, and his nephew, a whipper-in. The chase, the bottle, and the
piper, were the enjoyments of winter; and nothing could recompense a
suspension of these enjoyments.

My elder brother, justly apprehending that the frost and snow of
Christmas might probably prevent their usual occupation of the chase, on
St. Stephen’s day, (26th Dec.) determined to provide against any
listlessness during the shut-up period, by an uninterrupted match of
what was called _hard going_, till the weather should break up.

A hogshead of superior claret[17] was therefore sent to the cottage of
old Querns the huntsman; and a fat cow, killed, and plundered of her
skin, was hung up by the heels. All the windows were closed, to keep out
the light. One room, filled with straw and numerous blankets, was
destined for a bed-chamber in common; and another was prepared as a
kitchen for the use of the servants. Claret,—cold, mulled, or
buttered,[18]—was to be the beverage for the whole company; and in
addition to the cow above mentioned, chickens, bacon, and bread were the
only admitted viands. Wallace and Hosey, my father’s and my brother’s
pipers, and Doyle, a blind but famous fiddler, were employed to enliven
the banquet, which it was determined should continue till the cow became
a skeleton, and the claret should be on its stoop.


Footnote 17:

  Claret was at that time about 18_l._ the hogshead, if sold for _ready
  rhino_; if on credit, the law, before payment, generally mounted it to
  200_l._; besides bribing the sub-sheriff to make his return, and swear
  that Squire * * * * had “neither _body_ nor _goods_.” It is a
  remarkable fact, that formerly scarce a hogshead of claret crossed the
  bridge of Banaghu, for a country gentleman, without being followed,
  within two years, by an attorney, a sheriff’s officer, and a _receiver
  of all his rents_, who generally carried back securities for 500_l._

Footnote 18:

  Buttered claret was then a favourite beverage—viz. claret boiled with
  spice and sugar, orange-peel, and a glass of brandy; four eggs, well
  beat up, were then introduced, and the whole poured in a foaming state
  from one jug into another, till all was frothy and cream-coloured.
  ’Twas “very _savoury_!”


My two elder brothers;—two gentlemen of the name of Taylor (one of them
afterward a writer in India);—Mr. Barrington Lodge, a rough
songster;—Frank Skelton, a jester and a butt;—Jemmy Moffat, the most
knowing sportsman of the neighbourhood;—and two other sporting gentlemen
of the county,—composed the _permanent_ bacchanalians. A few visitors
were occasionally admitted.

As for myself, I was too unseasoned to go through more than the first
ordeal, which was on a frosty St. Stephen’s day, when the _hard goers_
partook of their opening banquet, and several neighbours were invited,
to honour the commencement of what they called their _shut-up

The old huntsman was the only male attendant; and his ancient spouse,
once a kitchen-maid in the family, (now somewhat resembling the amiable
Leonarda in Gil Blas,) was the cook; whilst the drudgery fell to the lot
of the whipper-in. A long knife was prepared, to cut collops from the
cow; a large turf fire seemed to court the gridiron on its cinders; the
pot bubbled up as if proud of its contents, whilst plump white chickens
floated in crowds upon the surface of the water; the simmering potatoes,
just bursting their drab surtouts, exposed the delicate whiteness of
their mealy bosoms; the claret was tapped, and the long earthen
wide-mouthed pitchers stood gaping under the impatient cock, to receive
their portions. The pipers plied their chants; the fiddler clasped his
cremona; and never did any feast commence with more auspicious
appearances of hilarity and dissipation—anticipations which were not
doomed to be falsified.

I shall never forget the attraction this novelty had for my youthful
mind. All thoughts but those of good cheer were for the time totally
obliterated. A few curses were, it is true, requisite to spur on old
Leonarda’s skill, but at length the banquet entered: the luscious smoked
bacon, bedded on its cabbage mattress, and partly obscured by its own
savoury steam, might have tempted the most fastidious of epicures;
whilst the round trussed chickens, ranged by the half dozen on hot
pewter dishes, turned up their white plump merry-thoughts exciting
equally the eye and appetite: fat collops of the hanging cow, sliced
indiscriminately from her tenderest points, grilled over the clear
embers upon a shining gridiron, (half drowned in their own luscious
juices, and garnished with little pyramids of congenial shalots,) smoked
at the bottom of the well-furnished board. A prologue of cherry-bounce
(brandy) preceded the entertainment, which was enlivened by hob-nobs and
joyous exclamations.

Numerous toasts, as was customary in those days, intervened to prolong
and give zest to the repast: every man shouted forth the name of his
fair favourite, and each voluntarily surrendered a portion of his own
reason, in bumpers to the beauty of his neighbour’s mistress. The pipers
jerked from their bags appropriate planxties to every jolly sentiment:
the jokers cracked the usual jests and ribaldry: one songster chanted
the joys of wine and women; another gave, in full glee, “stole away” and
“the pleasures of the fox-chase:” the fiddler sawed his merriest jigs:
the old huntsman sounded his long cow’s horn, and thrusting his
fore-finger into his ear (to aid the quaver,) gave the _view holloa!_ of
nearly ten minutes’ duration; to which melody _tally ho!_ was responded
by every stentorian voice. A fox’s brush stuck into a candlestick, in
the centre of the table, was worshipped as a divinity! Claret
flowed—bumpers were multiplied—and chickens, in the garb of spicy
spitchcocks, assumed the name of _devils_ to whet the appetites which it
was impossible to conquer.

For some hours my jollity kept pace with that of my companions: but at
length reason gradually began to lighten me of its burden, and in its
last efforts kindly suggested the straw-chamber as an asylum. Two couple
of favourite hounds had been introduced to share the joyous pastime of
their friends and master; and the deep bass of their throats, excited by
the shrillness of the huntsman’s tenor, harmonized by two rattling
pipers, a jigging fiddler, and twelve voices, in twelve different keys,
all bellowing in one continuous unrelenting chime—was the last point of
recognition which Bacchus permitted me to exercise: my eyes now began to
perceive a much larger company than the room actually contained;—the
lights were more than doubled, without any _real_ increase of their
number; and even the chairs and tables commenced dancing a series of
minuets before me. A faint _tally ho!_ was attempted by my reluctant
lips; but I believe the effort was unsuccessful, and I very soon lost,
in the straw-room, all that brilliant consciousness of existence, in the
possession of which the morning had found me so happy.

Just as I was closing my eyes to a twelve hours’ slumber, I
distinguished the general roar of “stole away!” which seemed almost to
raise up the very roof of old Matt Querns’s cottage.

At noon, next day, a scene of a different nature was exhibited. I found,
on waking, two associates by my side, in as perfect insensibility as
that from which I had just aroused. Our pipers appeared indubitably
_dead_! but the fiddler, who had the privilege of age and blindness, had
taken a hearty nap, and seemed as much alive as ever.

The room of banquet had been re-arranged by the old woman: spitchcocked
chickens, fried rashers, and broiled marrowbones appeared struggling for
precedence. The clean cloth looked fresh and exciting: jugs of mulled
and buttered claret foamed hot upon the refurnished table; and a better
or heartier breakfast I never enjoyed in my life.

A few members of the jovial crew had remained all night at their posts;
but I suppose alternately took some rest, as they seemed not at all
affected by their repletion. Soap and hot water restored at once their
spirits and their persons; and it was determined that the rooms should
be ventilated and cleared out for a cock-fight, to pass time till the
approach of dinner.

In this battle-royal, every man backed his own bird; twelve of which
courageous animals were set down together to fight it out—the survivor
to gain all. In point of principle, the battle of the Horatii and
Curiatii was re-acted; and in about an hour, one cock crowed out his
triumph over the mangled body of his last opponent;—being himself,
strange to say, but little wounded. The other eleven lay dead; and to
the victor was unanimously voted a _writ of ease_, with sole monarchy
over the hen-roost for the remainder of his days; and I remember him,
for many years, the proud and happy commandant of his poultry-yard and
seraglio. They named him “Hyder Ally;”—and I do not think a more
enviable two-legged animal existed.

Fresh visitors were introduced each successive day, and the seventh
morning had arisen before the feast broke up. As that day advanced, the
cow was proclaimed to have furnished her full quantum of good dishes;
the claret was upon its stoop; and the last gallon, mulled with a pound
of spices, was drunk in tumblers to the next merry meeting!—All now
retired to their _natural_ rest, until the evening announced a different

An early supper, to be partaken of by all the young folks, of both
sexes, in the neighbourhood, was provided in the dwelling-house, to
terminate the festivities. A dance, as usual, wound up the
entertainment; and what was then termed a “raking pot of tea,”[19] put a
finishing stroke, in jollity and good-humour, to such a revel as I never
saw before, and, I am sure, shall never see again.


Footnote 19:

  A _raking pot of tea_ always wound up an Irish jollification. It
  consisted of a general meeting about day-break, in the common hall, of
  all the “young people” of the house—mothers and old aunts of course
  excluded; of a huge hot cake well buttered—strong tea—brandy, milk,
  and nutmeg, amalgamated into syllabubs—the fox-hunter’s jig,
  thoroughly danced—a kiss all round, and a sorrowful “_good_-morning.”


When I compare with the foregoing the habits of the present day, and see
the grandsons of those joyous and vigorous sportsmen mincing their fish
and tit-bits at their favourite box in Bond-street; amalgamating their
ounce of salad on a silver saucer; employing six sauces to coax one
appetite; burning up the palate to make its enjoyments the more
exquisite; sipping their acid claret, disguised by an olive or
neutralized by a chesnut; lisping out for the scented waiter, and paying
him the price of a feast for the modicum of a Lilliputian, and the pay
of a captain for the attendance of a blackguard;—it amuses me extremely,
and makes me speculate on what their forefathers would have done to
those admirable Epicenes, if they had had them at the “Pilgrimage” in
the huntsman’s cottage.

To these extremes of former roughness and modern affectation, it would
require the pen of such a writer as Fielding to do ample justice. It
may, however, afford our reader some diversion to trace the degrees
which led from the grossness of the former down to the effeminacy of the
latter; and these may, in a great measure, be collected from the various
incidents which will be found scattered throughout these sketches of
sixty solar revolutions.

Nothing indeed can better illustrate the sensation which the
grandfathers, or even aged fathers, of these slim lads of the
Bond-street and St. James’s-street establishments, must have felt upon
finding their offspring in the elegant occupations I have just
mentioned, than an incident relating to Captain Parsons Hoye, of County
Wicklow, who several years since met with a specimen of the kind of lad
at Hudson’s, in Covent-Garden.

A nephew of his, an effeminate young fellow, who had been either on the
Continent or in London a considerable time, and who expected to be the
Captain’s heir, (being his sister’s son) accidentally came into the
coffee-room. Neither uncle nor nephew recollected each other; but old
Parsons’ disgust at the dandified manners, language, and dress of the
youth, gave rise to an occurrence which drew from the bluff seaman
epithets wonderfully droll, but rather too coarse to record:—the end of
it was, that, when Parsons discovered the relationship of the stranger,
(by their exchanging cards in anger,) he first kicked him out of the
coffee-room, and then struck him out of a will which he had made,—and
died very soon after, as if on purpose to mortify the macaroni!

Commodore Trunnion was a civilized man, and a beauty (but a fool),
compared to Parsons Hoye,—who had a moderate hereditary property near
Wicklow; had been a captain in the royal navy; was a bad farmer, a worse
sportsman, and a blustering justice of peace: but great at _potation_!
and what was called, “in the main, a capital fellow.” He was nearly as
boisterous as his adopted element: his voice was always as if on the
quarter-deck; and the whistle of an old boatswain, who had been
decapitated by his side, hung as a memento, by a thong of leather, from
his waistcoat button-hole. It was frequently had recourse to, and,
whenever he wanted a _word_, supplied the deficiency.

In form, the Captain was squat, broad, and coarse: a large purple nose,
with a broad crimson chin to match, were the only features of any
consequence in his countenance, except a couple of good-enough bloodshot
eyes, screened by most exuberant grizzle eye-brows. His powdered wig had
behind it a queue in the form of a hand-spike,—and a couple of rolled-up
paste curls, like a pair of carronades, adorned its broad-sides; a blue
coat, with slash cuffs and plenty of navy buttons, surmounted a scarlet
waistcoat with tarnished gold binding—the skirts of which, he said, he
would have of their enormous length because it assured him that the
tailor had put _all the cloth in it_; a black Barcelona adorned his
neck; while a large old round hat, bordered with gold lace, pitched on
his head, and turned up on one side, with a huge cockade stuck into a
buttonless loop, gave him a swaggering air. He bore a shillelagh, the
growth of his own estate, in a fist which would cover more ground than
the best shoulder of wether mutton in a London market.[20] Yet the
Captain had a look of generosity, good nature, benevolence, and
hospitality, which his features did their very best to conceal, and
which none but a good physiognomist could possibly discover.


Footnote 20:

  I once saw the inconvenience of that species of fist strongly
  exemplified. The late Admiral Cosby, of Stradbally Hall, had as large
  and as brown a fist as any admiral in His Majesty’s service. Happening
  one day unfortunately to lay it on the table during dinner, at Colonel
  Fitzgerald’s, Merrion Square, a Mr. Jenkins, a half-blind doctor, who
  chanced to sit next to the admiral, cast his eye upon the fist: the
  imperfection of his vision led him to believe it was a roll of French
  bread, and, without further ceremony, the doctor thrust his steel fork
  plump into the admiral’s fist. The confusion which resulted may be
  easily imagined:—indeed, had the circumstance happened any where but
  at a _private_ table, the doctor would probably never have had
  occasion for another _crust_. As it was, a sharp fork, sticking a
  sailor’s fist to the table, was rather too irritating an accident for
  an admiral of the blue to pass over very quietly.


                      MY BROTHER’S HUNTING-LODGE.

Waking the piper—Curious scene at my brother’s hunting-lodge—Joe Kelly’s
  and Peter Alley’s heads fastened to the wall—Operations practised in
  extricating them.

I met with another ludicrous instance of the dissipation of even later
days, a few months after my marriage. Lady B— and myself took a tour
through some of the southern parts of Ireland, and among other places
visited Castle Durrow, near which place my brother, Henry French
Barrington, had built a hunting cottage, wherein he happened to have
given a house-warming the previous day.

The company, as might be expected at such a place and on such an
occasion, was not the most select:—in fact, they were _hard-going_
sportsmen, and some of the half-mounted gentry were not excluded from
the festival.

Amongst others, Mr. Joseph Kelly, of unfortunate fate, brother to Mr.
Michael Kelly, (who by the bye does not say a word about him in his
Reminiscences,) had been invited, to add to the merriment by his
pleasantry and voice, and had come down from Dublin solely for the
purpose of _assisting_ at the banquet.

It may not be amiss to say something here of this remarkable person. I
knew him from his early youth. His father was a dancing-master in
Mary-street, Dublin; and I found in the newspapers of that period a
number of puffs, in French and English, of Mr. O’Kelly’s abilities in
that way—one of which, a certificate from a French _artiste_ of Paris,
is curious enough.[21] What could put it into his son’s head, that he
had been _Master of the Ceremonies at Dublin Castle_ is rather
perplexing! He became a wine-merchant latterly, dropped the O which had
been placed at the beginning of his name, and was a well-conducted and
respectable man.[22]


Footnote 21:

  Mr. O’Kelly is just returned from Paris. Ladies and gentlemen, who are
  pleased to send their commands to No. 30, Mary-street, will be most
  respectfully attended to.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  Je certifie que M. Guillaume O’Kelly est venu à Paris pour prendre de
  moi leçons, et qu’il est sorti de mes mains en état de pouvoir
  enseigner la danse avec succès.

                                    GARDEL, Maître à Danser de la Reine,
                                       et Maître des Ballets du Roi.

  À Paris, le 20ème Août, 1781.

Footnote 22:

  But as he was a Roman Catholic, and as no Roman Catholic could then
  hold any office in the vice-regal establishment of Dublin Castle, Mr.
  M. Kelly must have been misinformed on that point as to his father,
  whom I have often seen. Mr. Gofton, a dancing-master of Anne-street,
  Linen Hall, and uncle to Doctor Barrett, the late extraordinary
  vice-provost of Trinity College, was a friend of Mr. O’Kelly’s, and
  taught me to the day of his death, which was sudden. Under his
  tuition, I beat time and danced minuets for four years. Doctor Barrett
  used to carry his uncle’s _kit_ till he entered Dublin College, of
  which he died vice-provost. He had two brothers; the most promising
  one was _eaten by a tiger_ in Dublin, the other died a pawnbroker.


Joe was a slender young man, remarkably handsome; but what, in that part
of the country, they emphatically styled “the _devil_!” I recollect his
dancing a hornpipe upon the stage in a sailor’s costume most admirably.
He also sang the songs of Young Meadows, in “Love in a Village,”
extremely well, as likewise those of Macheath and other parts; but he
could never give the acting any effect. He was, strictly speaking, a
bravura singer;—there was no deep pathos—nothing _touchant_ in his
cadences;—but in drinking-songs, &c. he was unrivalled. As his brother
has not thought proper to speak about him, it might be considered out of
place for me to go into his history, all of which I know, and many
passages whereof might probably be both entertaining and instructive.
Some parts of it however are already on record, and others I hope will
_never_ be recorded. The Duke of Wellington knew Joe Kelly extremely
well; and if he had merited advancement, I dare say he would have
received it. The last conversation I had with him was on the Boulevard
Italien, in Paris. I was walking with my son, then belonging to the 5th
Dragoon Guards. Kelly came up and spoke to us. I shook him by the hand,
and he talked away:—spoke to my son—no answer;—he tried him again—no
reply. Kelly seemed surprised, and said, “Don’t you know me, Barrington?
why don’t you speak to me?”—“’Tis because I _do_ know you that I do
_not_ speak to you,” replied my son.—Kelly blushed, but turned it off
with a laugh. I could not then guess the reason for this cut direct; and
my son refused to tell me: I have since, however, become acquainted with
it, and think the sarcasm well merited. It was indeed the bitterer, from
its being the only one I ever heard my son utter. Joe Kelly killed his
man in a duel, for which he was tried, and narrowly escaped. According
to his own account indeed, he killed plenty at the battle of Waterloo,
and in other actions. He was himself shot at Paris by a commissary with
whom he had quarrelled, and the Irish humorists remarked thereupon that
Joe had “died a _natural death_.”

Of this convivial assemblage at my brother’s, he was, I take it, the
very life and soul. The dining-room (the only good one) had not been
finished when the day of the dinner-party arrived, and the lower parts
of the walls having only that morning received their last coat of
plaster, were, of course, totally wet.

We had intended to surprise my brother; but had not calculated on the
scene I was to witness. On driving to the cottage-door, I found it open,
whilst a dozen dogs, of different descriptions, showed themselves ready
to receive us not in the most polite manner. My servant’s whip, however,
soon sent them about their business, and I ventured into the parlour to
see what cheer. It was about ten in the morning: the room was strewed
with empty bottles—some broken—some interspersed with glasses, plates,
dishes, knives, spoons, &c.—all in glorious confusion. Here and there
were heaps of bones, relics of the former day’s entertainment, which the
dogs, seizing their opportunity, had cleanly picked. Three or four of
the Bacchanalians lay fast asleep upon chairs—one or two others on the
floor, among whom a piper lay on his back, apparently dead, with a
table-cloth spread over him, and surrounded by four or five candles,
burnt to the sockets; his chanter and bags were laid scientifically
across his body, his mouth was quite open, and his nose made ample
amends for the silence of his drone. Joe Kelly, and a Mr. Peter Alley,
from the town of Durrow, (one of the half-mounted gentry,) were fast
asleep in their chairs, close to the wall.

Had I never viewed such a scene before, it would have almost terrified
me; but it was nothing more than the ordinary custom which we called
_waking the piper_.[23]


Footnote 23:

  _Waking the piper_ was an ancient usage. When he had got too drunk to
  play any more, he was treated as a corpse—stretched out, and candles
  placed round him: while in this insensible state, they put the drone
  of his pipe into his mouth, and blew the bellows till he was bloated.
  This was called _blowing-up_ the piper with _false music_. It did him
  no bodily harm, as burnt whiskey and plenty of pepper soon sent the
  wind about its business, to the no small amusement of the company.


I sent away my carriage and its fair inmate to Castle Durrow, whence we
had come, and afterward proceeded to seek my brother. No servant was to
be seen, man or woman. I went to the stables, wherein I found three or
four more of the goodly company, who had just been able to reach their
horses, but were seized by Morpheus before they could mount them, and so
lay in the mangers awaiting a more favourable opportunity. I apprehend
some of the horses had not been as considerate as they should have been
to tipsy gentlemen, since two or three of the latter had their heads cut
by being kicked or trampled on. Returning hence to the cottage, I found
my brother, also asleep, on the only bed which it then afforded: he had
no occasion to put on his clothes, since he had never taken them off.

I next waked Dan Tyron, a wood-ranger of Lord Ashbrook, who had acted as
maître d’hôtel in making the arrangements, and providing a horse-load of
game to fill up the banquet. I then inspected the parlour, and insisted
on breakfast. Dan Tyron set to work: an old woman was called in from an
adjoining cabin, the windows were opened, the room cleared, the floor
swept, the relics removed, and the fire lighted in the kitchen. The
piper was taken away senseless, but my brother would not suffer either
Joe or Alley to be disturbed till breakfast was ready. No time was lost;
and, after a very brief interval, we had before us abundance of fine
eggs, and milk fresh from the cow, with brandy, sugar and nutmeg in
plenty;—a large loaf, fresh butter, a cold round of beef, (which had not
been produced on the previous day,) red herrings, and a bowl-dish of
potatoes roasted on the turf ashes;—in addition to which, ale, whiskey,
and port made up the refreshments. All being duly in order, we at length
awakened Joe Kelly, and Peter Alley, his neighbour: they had slept
soundly, though with no other pillow than the wall; and my brother
announced breakfast with a _view holloa!_[24]


Footnote 24:

  The shout of hunters when the game is in view.


The twain immediately started and roared in unison with their host most
tremendously! it was however in a very different tone from the _view
holloa_,—and continued much longer.

“Come boys,” says French, giving Joe a pull—“come!”

“Oh, murder!” says Joe, “I can’t!”—“Murder!—murder!” echoed Peter.
French pulled them again, upon which they roared the more, still
retaining their places. I have in my lifetime laughed till I nearly
became spasmodic; but never were my risible muscles put to greater
tension than upon this occasion. The wall, as I said before, had but
just received a coat of mortar, and of course was quite soft and
yielding when Joe and Peter, having no more cellarage for wine, and
their eyesight becoming opake, thought proper to make it their pillow;
it was nevertheless setting fast from the heat and lights of an eighteen
hours’ carousal; and, in the morning, when my brother awakened his
guests, the mortar had completely set, and their hair being the thing
best calculated to amalgamate therewith, the entire of Joe’s stock,
together with his queue, and half his head, was thoroughly and
irrecoverably bedded in the greedy and now marble cement;—so that if
determined to move, he must have taken the wall along with him, for
separate it would not. One side of Peter’s head was in the same state of
imprisonment, so as to give his bust the precise character of a
bas-relief. Nobody could assist them, and there they both stuck fast.

A consultation was now held on this pitiful case, which I maliciously
endeavoured to protract as long as I could, and which was every now and
then interrupted by a roar from Peter or Joe, as each made fresh efforts
to rise. At length, it was proposed by Dan Tyron to send for the
stone-cutter, and get him to cut them out of the wall with a chisel. I
was literally unable to speak two sentences for laughing. The old woman
meanwhile tried to soften the obdurate wall with melted butter and new
milk—but in vain. I related the school story how Hannibal had worked
through the Alps with vinegar and hot irons:—this experiment likewise
was made, but to no purpose; the hot irons touching _the raw_, only
added a new octave to the roars of the captives, and the Carthaginian
solvent had no better success than the old crone’s. Peter being of a
more passionate nature, grew ultimately quite outrageous: he bellowed,
gnashed his teeth, and swore vengeance against the mason;—but as he was
only held by one side, a thought at last struck him: he asked for two
knives, which being brought, he whetted one against the other, and
introducing the blades close to his skull, sawed away at cross corners
for half an hour, cursing and crying out during the whole operation,
till at length he was liberated, with the loss only of half his hair,
the skin of one jaw, and a piece of his scalp, which he had sliced off
in zeal and haste for his liberty. I never saw a fellow so extravagantly
happy! Fur was scraped from the crown of a new hat, to stop the
bleeding; his head was duly tied up with the old woman’s _praskeen_;[25]
and he was soon in a state of bodily convalescence. Our solicitude was
now required solely for Joe, whose head was too deeply buried to be
exhumated with so much facility. At this moment Bob Casey, of
Ballynakill, a very celebrated wig-maker, just dropped in, to see what
he could pick up honestly in the way of his profession, or steal in the
way of any thing else; and he immediately undertook to get Mr. Kelly out
of the mortar by a very ingenious but tedious process, namely,—clipping
with his scissors and then rooting out with an oyster knife. He thus
finally succeeded, in less than an hour, in setting Joseph Kelly, Esq.
once more at liberty, at the price of his queue, which was totally lost,
and of the exposure of his raw and bleeding occiput. The operation was,
indeed, of a mongrel description—somewhat between a complete _tonsure_
and an imperfect _scalping_, to both of which denominations it certainly
presented claims. However, it is an ill wind that blows nobody good! Bob
Casey got the making of a skull-piece for Joe, and my brother French had
the pleasure of paying for it, as gentlemen in those days honoured any
order given while enjoying their hospitality, by a guest, to the family
shop-keeper or artizan.


Footnote 25:

  A coarse dirty apron, worn by working women in a kitchen, in the
  country parts of Ireland, and exhibiting an assemblage of every kind
  of filth. Were you to ask a “Collough” why she keeps it so dirty, her
  reply would be—“Sure nobody never heard of _washing_ a _praskeen_,
  plaze your honor’s honor!”


I ate a hearty breakfast, returned to Durrow, and, having rejoined my
companion, we pursued our journey to Waterford,—amusing ourselves the
greater part of the way with the circumstances just related, which,
however, I do not record merely as an abstract anecdote, but, as I
observed in starting, to show the manners and habits of Irish country
society and sportsmen,[26] even so recently as thirty-five years ago;
and to illustrate the changes of those habits and manners, and the
advances toward civilization, which, coupled with the extraordinary
_want of corresponding prosperity_, present phenomena I am desirous of
impressing upon my reader’s mind, throughout the whole of this
miscellaneous collection of original anecdotes and observations.


Footnote 26:

  Pipers at that time formed an indispensable part of every sporting
  gentleman’s establishment. My father always had two—the ladies’ piper
  for the dance, the gentlemen’s piper for occasions of drinking. These
  men rendered that instrument the most expressive imaginable:—with a
  piece of buff leather on their thigh, they made the double chanter
  almost speak words, and by a humorous mode of jerking the bag, brought
  out the most laughable species of chromatic conceivable.

  They were in the habit of playing a piece called “the wedding,” in
  which words were plainly articulated. The wedding-dinner, the dancing,
  drinking, &c. all was expressed in a surprising manner. They also
  played “the Hunt, or Hare in the Corn” through all its parts—the
  hounds, the horns, the shouts, the chase, the death, &c. If the German
  who composed the Battle of Prague had heard an old Irish piper, he
  never would have attempted another instrumental imitation of words.


                         CHOICE OF PROFESSION.

The Army—Irish volunteers described—Their military ardour—The author
  inoculated therewith—He grows cooler—The Church—The Faculty—The
  Law—Objections to each—Colonel Barrington removes his establishment to
  the Irish capital—A country gentleman taking up a city residence.

My veering opinion as to a choice of profession was nearly decided by
that military ardour which seized all Ireland, when the whole country
had entered into a resolution to free itself for ever from English
domination. The entire kingdom took up arms—regiments were formed in
every quarter—the highest, the lowest, and the middle orders, all
entered the ranks of freedom, and every corporation, whether civil or
military, pledged life and fortune to attain and establish Irish
independence, but with the same constitution, and under the same king as
England, inseparably and for ever united. England tried to _evade_, as
she could not _resist_ this; but in 1782 Ireland was pronounced a free
and independent nation.

My father had raised and commanded two corps—a dragoon troop called the
Cullenagh Rangers, and the Ballyroan Light Infantry. My elder brother
commanded the Kilkenny Horse, and the Durrow Light Dragoons. The general
enthusiasm caught me; and before I well knew what I was about, I found
myself a martinet and a red-hot patriot. Having been a university man, I
was also considered to be of course a _writer_, and was accordingly
called on to draw up resolutions for volunteer regiments all over the
county. This was my first attempt at political subjects; and a general
declaration which I wrote being short enough and warm enough to be
comprehended by all the parties, it was unanimously adopted—every man
swearing, as he kissed the blade of his sword, that he would adhere to
these resolutions to the last drop of his blood, which he would by no
means spare, till we had finally achieved the independence of our
country. We were very sincere, and really, I think, determined to
perish, (if necessary) in the cause—at least, I am sure, I was.

The national point was gained, but not without much difficulty and
danger. The Irish parliament had refused to grant supplies to the crown
or pass a mutiny bill for more than six months. The people had entered
into resolutions to prevent the importation of any British merchandise
or manufactures. The entire kingdom had disavowed all English authority
or jurisdiction, external or internal; the judges and magistrates had
declined to act under British statutes:—the flame had spread rapidly,
and had become irresistible.

The British Government saw that either temporising or an appeal to force
would occasion the final loss of Ireland: 150,000 independent soldiers,
well armed, well clothed, and well disciplined, were not to be coped
with,—and England yielded.[27] Thus the volunteers kept their oaths:
they redeemed their pledge, and did not lay down their arms until the
independence of Ireland had been pronounced from the throne, and the
distinctness of the Irish nation promulgated in the government gazette
of London.


Footnote 27:

  The Irish patriots demanded 30,000 stand of arms from Government,
  which the latter not being so circumstanced as to enable them to
  refuse with safety, they were delivered to the volunteers, from the
  ordnance stores in Dublin Castle, and distributed among those corps
  which were least able to purchase arms.


Having carried our point with the English, and proposed to prove our
independence by going to war with Portugal about our linens, we
completely set up for ourselves, except that Ireland was bound, as I
before said, constitutionally and irrevocably, never to have any king
but the King of Great Britain—whether _de jure_ or _de facto_, however,
was not specified.

We were now, in fact, regularly in a fighting mood; and being quite in
good humour with England, determined to fight the French, who had
threatened to invade us. I recollect a volunteer belonging to one of my
father’s corps, (a schoolmaster of the name of Beal,) proposing a
resolution to the Ballyroan Infantry, which purported, “that they would
never stop fighting the French till they had flogged every _sowl_ of
them into mincemeat!” This magnanimous resolution was adopted with
cheers, and was, as usual, sworn to, each hero kissing the muzzle of his
musket. In truth, the whole nation being well prepared for blows; and
disappointed, as a fellow-countryman gravely observed to me at the
period, of fighting the English, were quite _anxious_ to have a bout
with the French: so long, indeed, as they could get a good meal of
fighting, they were just then no great epicures as to _who_ were _served

I am not going any further into a history of those times, to which I
have alluded only to show what, for the moment, excited my warlike
ardour, and fixed my determination, although but temporarily, to adopt
the military profession.

On communicating this decision to my father, he procured me, from a
friend and neighbour, General Hunt Walsh, a commission in that officer’s
own regiment, the 30th. The style of the thing pleased me very
well:—but, upon being informed that I should immediately join the
regiment, in America, my heroic tendencies received a serious check. I
had not contemplated transatlantic emigration; and feeling that I could
get my head broken just as well in my own country, I, after a few days’
mature consideration, perceived my military ardour grow cooler and
cooler every hour—until, at length, it was obviously defunct. I
therefore wrote to the General a most thankful letter, at the same time
“begging the favour of him to present my commission in his regiment to
some hardier soldier, who could serve his majesty with more vigour; as
I, having been brought up by my _grandmother_, felt as yet too _tender_
to be any way effective on foreign service—though I had no objection to
fight as much as possible in Ireland, if necessary.” General Walsh
accepted my resignation, and presented my commission to a young friend
of his, (an only son) whose brains were blown out in the very first

Having thus rejected the army, I next turned my thoughts to that very
opposite profession—the church. But though preaching was certainly a
much safer and more agreeable employment than bush-fighting, yet a
curacy and a wooden leg being pretty much on a parallel in point of
remuneration, and as I had the strongest objection to be either
dismembered or half starved, in the service of the king or the altar, I
also declined the cassock, assuring my father that “I felt I was not
steady enough to make an ‘exemplary parson;’ and as any other kind of
parson generally did more harm than good in a country, I could not, in
conscience, take charge of the morals of a flock of men, women, and
children, when I should have quite enough to do to manage my own; and
should therefore leave the church to some more orthodox graduate.”

Medicine was next in the list of professions to which I had,
abstractedly, some liking. I had attended several courses of anatomical
lectures at Dublin; and although with very repugnant feelings had
studied that most sublime of all sciences, human organization, by a
persevering attention to the celebrated wax-works of that university.
Yet my horror and disgust of _animal putridity_ in all its branches was
so great, (inclusive even of _stinking venison_, which most people
admire,) that all surgical practice by me was necessarily out of the
question; and medicine, without a touch of surgery, presenting no better
chance of making a fortune, shared a similar fate with the sword and the

Of the liberal and learned professions, there remained but one, namely,
the law. Now, as to this, I was told by several old practitioners, who
had retired into the country, (as I afterward found, from having no
business to do in town,) that if I were even as wise as Alfred, as
learned as Lycurgus, or as vociferous as Serjeant Toler,—nobody would
give me sixpence for all my law (if I had a hundred weight of it), until
I had spent at least ten years in watching the manufacture. However,
they consoled me by saying, that if I could put up with light eating
during that period, I might then have a very reasonable chance of
getting some briefs, particularly after inviting a gang of attorneys to
dine with me.—Here I was damped again! and though I should have broken
my heart if condemned to remain much longer a walking gentleman, I
determined to wait awhile, and see if nature would open my propensities
a little wider, and give me some more decisive indication of what she
thought me fittest for.

While in this comfortless state of indecision, my father, like other
country gentlemen, to gratify his lady under the amiable pretence of
educating the children, gave his consent to be launched into the new
scenes and pleasures of a city residence. He accordingly purchased an
excellent house in Clare-street, Merrion-square; left a steward in the
country to _mis_manage his concerns there; made up new wardrobes for the
servants; got a fierce three-cocked hat, with a gold button and loop to
it, for himself; and removed his establishment (the hounds excepted) to
the metropolis of Ireland.

Here my good and well-bred mother (for such she was) had her Galway
pride revived and gratified; the old green coach _de cérémonie_ was
regilt and regarnished, and four black geldings, with two postilions and
a sixteen-stone footman (in white, scarlet, and laced liveries)
completed her equipage.

I had my _bit of blood_ in the stable; my elder brother, who had been in
the First Horse, had plenty of them:—my father had his old hunter “brown
Jack;” and we set out at what is commonly called a _great rate_—but
which great rates are generally, like a fox-chase, more hot than
durable. However, the thing went on well enough; and during our city
residence many pleasurable and many whimsical incidents occurred to me
and other individuals of my family; one of which was most interesting to
myself, and will form a leading feature in my subsequent Sketches.

Before adverting to this, however, I will mention a lamentable event
which occurred during our stay in Clare-street, to a neighbour of ours,
Captain O’Flaherty, brother to Sir John, whom I shall hereafter notice.
The captain resided nearly facing us; and though the event I speak of,
and the very extraordinary incident which succeeded it, are clearly
digressions, yet the whole story is so singular, that I will, without
further apology, introduce it.

                     MURDER OF CAPTAIN O’FLAHERTY.

Murder of Captain O’Flaherty by Mr. Lanegan, his sons’ tutor, and Mrs.
  O’Flaherty—The latter, after betraying her accomplice, escapes—Trial
  of Lanegan—He is hanged and quartered at Dublin—Terrific appearance of
  his supposed ghost to his pupil, David Lauder, and the author, at the
  Temple, in London—Lauder nearly dies of fright—Lanegan’s extraordinary
  escape; not even suspected in Ireland—He gets off to France, and
  enters the Monastery of La Trappe—All-Hallow Eve—A church-yard
  anecdote—My own superstition nearly fatal to me.

Captain O’Flaherty, a most respectable gentleman, resided in
Clare-street, Dublin, opposite my father’s house. He had employed a
person of the name of Lanegan, as tutor to the late John Burke
O’Flaherty, and his other sons. But after some little time Lanegan
became more attentive to Mrs. O’Flaherty, the mother, than to her boys.

This woman had certainly no charms either of appearance or address,
which might be thought calculated to captivate any one; and there was a
something indescribably repulsive in her general manners, in consequence
whereof all acquaintance between her and our family soon terminated. She
was not satisfied with the occasional society of Mr. Lanegan, whilst he
continued in the house as tutor, but actually proceeded to form a
criminal intercourse with him; and, in order to free herself from all
restraint, meditated the very blackest of human crimes, which she
determined to perpetrate by giving the unfortunate captain a
rice-pudding for his dinner, by virtue whereof she might at any rate be
saved the trouble of ever making another for him.

Mr. Lanegan was with this view sent by her to several apothecaries’
shops; at each of which, to avoid suspicion, he asked for a _very
little_ stuff _to kill the rats_; and thus, by small portions, they
ultimately procured a sufficient quantity to kill not only the rats, but
the husband into the bargain.

The murderous scheme was carried into execution by Mrs. O’Flaherty
herself, and the captain was found dead in his bed! Some misgivings,
however, were generated from the appearance of the body, which swelled
and exhibited black spots: and these, with other unequivocal signs,
conspired to prove that the rats (for they were actually dealt with) had
not been the only sufferers. The Coroner’s Inquest, indeed, soon decided
the matter, by a verdict of “_Poisoned by Arsenic_.”

Mrs. O’Flaherty and Mr. Lanegan began now to suspect that they were in
rather a ticklish situation, and determined to take a private journey
into the country until they should discover how things were likely to
go. The adulterous wife, full of crime and terror, conceived a suspicion
that Lanegan, who had only purchased the poison by her directions, and
had not administered it (except to the rats), might turn king’s
evidence, get the reward, and save himself by convicting her. Such a
catastrophe she therefore determined, if possible, to prevent.

On their journey she told him that, upon full consideration, she
conceived there could be no possibility of bringing conclusive evidence
against them, inasmuch as it would appear most probable that the captain
had, by accident, taken the poison himself—and that she was determined
to surrender and take her trial as soon as possible, recommending Mr.
Lanegan to do the same. In pursuance of this decision, as they passed
near the town of Gowran, County Kilkenny, she said, “There is the gate
of a magistrate: do you go up first, put on a bold face, assure him of
your entire innocence, and say that, as infamous and false reports have
been spread, both of yourself and me, you came expressly to surrender
and take your trial;—for that you could not live in society under such
vile imputations! Say, also, that you hear Mrs. O’Flaherty intends
likewise to surrender herself in the evening, and request that he will
be at home to receive her.”

Lanegan, suspecting no fraud, followed these instructions literally;—he
was secured, though without roughness, and preparations were made for
his being taken to Dublin next day in custody. The magistrate waited for
Mrs. O’Flaherty, but she did not appear: he sent down to his gate-house
to know if any lady had passed by: the porter informed him that a lady
and gentleman had been near the gate in a carriage, in the morning, and
that the gentleman got out and went up the avenue to the house, after
which the lady had driven away.

It now appearing that they had been actually together, and that Lanegan
had been telling falsehoods respecting his companion, strong suspicions
arose in the mind of the magistrate. His prisoner was confined more
closely, sent under a strong guard to Dublin, indicted for murder, and
tried at the ensuing commission.

Positive evidence was given of Lanegan’s criminal connexion with Mrs.
O’Flaherty, coupled with the strongest circumstantial proof against him.
He had not the courage boldly to deny the fact, and being found guilty,
was sentenced to be hanged and quartered; the former part of which
sentence having been carried into execution, his body, after a cut on
each limb, was delivered to his mother for burial.—Mrs. O’Flaherty
escaped beyond sea, and has, I believe, never since been heard of in the

Such is the history which forms the prelude to an occurrence some time
afterward in which I was a party, and which may be regarded as a curious
illustration of stories of supposed ghosts.

A templar and a friend of mine, Mr. David Lauder, a soft, fat,
good-humoured, superstitious young fellow, was sitting in his lodgings,
(Devereux-court, London,) one evening at twilight. I was with him, and
we were agreeably employed in eating strawberries and drinking Madeira.
While chatting away in cheerful mood, and laughing loudly at some remark
made by one of us, my back being toward the door, I perceived my
friend’s colour suddenly change—his eyes seemed fixed and ready to start
out of his head—his lips quivered convulsively—his teeth chattered—large
drops of perspiration flowed down his forehead, and his hair stood
nearly erect.

As I saw nothing calculated to excite these emotions, I naturally
conceived my friend was seized with a fit, and rose to assist him. He
did not regard my movements in the least, but seizing a knife which lay
on the table, with the gait of a palsied man retreated backward—his eyes
still fixed—to a distant part of the room, where he stood shivering, and
attempting to pray; but not at the moment _recollecting_ any prayer, he
began to repeat his _catechism_, thinking it the _next best_ thing he
could do: as—“What is your name? David Lauder! Who gave you that name?
My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism!” &c. &c.

I instantly concluded the man was mad; and turning about to go for some
assistance, was myself not a little startled at sight of a tall,
rough-looking personage, many days unshaved, in a very shabby black
dress, and altogether of the most uncouth appearance. The stranger and I
stood for a moment opposite each other, staring and motionless: at
length he broke silence, and addressing my friend, said, in a low
croaking voice, “_Don’t be frightened_, Mr. Lauder; sure ’tis _me_
that’s here.”

When Davy heard the voice, he fell on his knees, and subsequently flat
upon his face, in which position he lay motionless.

The spectre (as I now began to imagine it was) stalked toward the door,
and I was in hopes he intended to make his _exit_ thereby; instead of
which, however, having deliberately shut and _bolted it_, he sat himself
down in the chair I had previously occupied, with a countenance nearly
as full of _horror_ as that of Davy Lauder himself.

I was now totally bewildered; and scarce knowing what to do, was about
to throw a jug of water over my friend, to revive him if possible, when
the stranger, in his croaking voice, cried—

“For the love of God, give me some of that,—for I am perishing!”—I
hesitated, but at length did so: he took the jug and drank immoderately.

My friend Davy now ventured to look up a little, and perceiving that I
was becoming so familiar with the goblin, his courage somewhat revived,
although his speech was still confused:—he stammered, rose upon his
knees, held up his hands as if in supplication, and gazed at the figure
for some time, but at length made up his mind that it was tangible and
mortal. The effect of this decision on the face of Davy was as ludicrous
as the fright had been. He seemed quite ashamed of his former terror,
and affected to be stout as a lion! though it was visible that he was
not at his ease. He now roared out in the broad, cursing Kerry dialect:
“Why then, blood and thunder! is that you, Lanegan?”

“Ah, Sir, speak low!” said the wretched being.

“How the devil,” resumed Davy, “did you get your four quarters stitched
together again, after the hangman cut them off of you at Stephen’s

“Ah, Gentlemen!” exclaimed the poor culprit, “speak low: have mercy on
me, Master Davy; you know it was I taught you your Latin.—I’m starving
to death!”

“You shall not die in _that_ way, you villanous schoolmaster!” said
Davy, pushing toward him a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine that stood
on the table,—but standing aloof himself, as though not yet quite
decided as to the _nature_ of the intruder.

The miserable creature having eaten the bread with avidity, and drunk
two or three glasses of wine, the lamp of life once more seemed to
brighten up. After a pause, he communicated every circumstance relating
to his sudden appearance before us. He confessed having bought the
arsenic at the desire of Mrs. O’Flaherty, and that he was aware of the
application of it, but solemnly protested that it was _she_ who had
seduced _him_; he then proceeded to inform us that after having been
duly hanged, the sheriff had delivered his body to his mother, but not
until the executioner had given a slight cut on each limb, just to _save
the law_; which cuts bled profusely, and were probably the means of
preserving his life. His mother, conceiving that the vital spark was not
extinct, had put him into bed, dressed his wounded limbs, and rubbed his
neck with hot vinegar. Having steadily pursued this process, and
accompanied it by pouring warm brandy and water down his throat, in the
course of an hour he was quite sensible, but experienced horrid pains
for several weeks before his final recovery. His mother filled the
coffin he was brought home in with bricks, and got some men to bury it
the same night in Kilmainham burial-ground, as if ashamed to inter him
in open day. For a long time he was unable to depart, being every moment
in dread of discovery:—at length, however, he got off by night in a
smuggling boat, which landed him on the Isle of Man, and from thence he
contrived to reach London, bearing a letter from a priest at Kerry to
another priest who had lived in the Borough, the purport of which was to
get him admitted into a monastery in France. But finding the Southwark
priest was dead, he then went to Scotland, using various disguises; and
returning to town, was afraid, though possessing some little money sent
him by his mother, even to buy food, for fear of detection! but
recollecting that Mr. Lauder, his old scholar, lived somewhere in the
Temple, he had got directed by a porter to the lodging the night before.

My friend Davy, though he did not half like it, suffered this poor devil
to sit in the chamber till the following evening. He then procured him a
place in the night coach to Rye, from whence he got to St. Vallery, and
was received, as I afterward learnt from a very grateful letter which he
sent to Lauder, into the monastery of La Trappe, near Abbeville, where
he lived in strict seclusion, and died, as I heard, some years since.

This incident is not related as a mere isolated anecdote, unconnected
with any serious general considerations; but rather with a view to show
how many deceptions a man’s imagination may hastily subject him to; and
to impress the consideration that nothing should be regarded as
supernatural, which can by _possibility_ be the result of human

In the present case, if Lanegan had withdrawn before Lauder had arisen
and spoken to him, no reasoning upon earth could ever have convinced the
Templar of the materiality of the vision. As Lanegan’s restoration to
life after execution had not at that time been spoken of, nor even
suspected, Lauder would have willingly deposed, upon the Holy
Evangelists, that he had seen the _actual ghost_ of the schoolmaster who
had been hanged and quartered in Dublin a considerable time before; his
identification of the man’s person being rendered unequivocal from the
circumstance of his having been formerly Lanegan’s pupil. And I must
confess that I should myself have seen no reason to doubt Lauder’s
assertions, had the man withdrawn from the chamber before he spoke to
me—to do which, under the circumstances, it was by no means improbable
fear might have induced him.

Thus one of the “best authenticated ghost stories ever related” has been
lost to the history of supernatural occurrences. The circumstance,
however, did not cure Davy Lauder in the least of his dread of
apparitions, which was excessive.

Nor have I much right to reproach my friend’s weakness in this
particular. I have, on the other hand, throughout my observations
admitted—nay, I fear, occasionally boasted—that I was myself
_superstitious_. The species of reading I adopted and ardently pursued
from my infancy upward may, I admit, have impressed my mind indelibly;
and the consciousness of this fact should have served to render me
rather _sceptical_ than _credulous_ upon any subject that bore a
mysterious character.

My relations, whilst I was a boy, took it into their heads that I was a
decided coward in this way, which though I in round terms denied, I
freely admitted at the same time my coyness with regard to trying any
unnecessary experiments or making any superstitious invocations,
particularly on _Allhallow-eve_,[28] or other mysterious days, whereupon
a sort of bastard witchcraft is always practised in Ireland.


Footnote 28:

  The pranks formerly played in Ireland on _Allhallow-eve_, were
  innumerable. The _devil_ was supposed to be at large on that night,
  and permitted to make what prey he could among the human species, by
  bringing them together. His principal occupation was therefore thought
  to be match-making, and it was whispered that he got more subjects,
  and set more Christians by the ears, through the sacrament of
  matrimony, than all his other schemes put together. Matches were then
  frequently made by burning nuts, turning shifts, &c.


Hence I was universally ridiculed on those anniversaries for my
timidity; and, one Allhallow-eve, my father proposed to have a
prayer-book, with a £5 bank-note in it, left on a certain tomb-stone in
an old catholic burial-ground quite apart from any road, and covered
with trees. It was two or three fields’ distance from the
dwelling-house; and the proposal was, that if I would go there at twelve
o’clock at night, and bring back the book and a dead man’s bone, (many
of which latter were scattered about the cemetery,) the note should be
mine; and, as an additional encouragement, I was never after to be
charged with cowardice. My pride took fire, and I determined, even
though I might burst a blood-vessel through agitation, or break my neck
in running home again, I would perform the feat, and put an end to the

The matter therefore was fully arranged. The night proved very dark; the
path was intricate, but I was accustomed to it. There were two or three
stiles to be crossed; and the Irish always conceive that if a ghost is
any where in the neighbourhood, he invariably chooses a stile at which
to waylay the passengers.

However, at the appointed hour I set out. I dare say most ladies and
gentlemen who may read this know what _palpitation of the heart_ means;
if so, let them be so good as to fancy an excess of that feeling, and
they may then form some idea of the sensations with which I first
touched the cold grave-stones of the dead, who, if they had possessed
any spirit, would have arisen, _en masse_, to defend their bones from
being made the subject of ridiculous experiment.

Having groped for some time in the dark, I found the book, but my hand
refused to lift it, and I sat down panting and starting at every rustle
of the foliage: through the gloom wherewith the trunks and branches of
the trees were invested, my excited imagination conjured up figures and
shapes which I expected, at every glance, would open into skeletons or
shrouded spectres! I would, at that moment, have given the world to be
at home again!—but I really could not stir: my breath had got too short,
and my eyesight too confused, for motion.

By degrees these sensations subsided. I obtained a little confidence;
the moving of a branch no longer startled me, and I should have got on
well enough had not an unlucky goat, which came roaming near the place,
though with a different object, thrown me into a complete relapse. At
the conclusion of about half an hour, however, which appeared to me at
least five-and-twenty years, I secured the book snugly in my pocket,
together with a dead man’s thigh-bone, which I tied up in a cloth
brought with me for the purpose; and, fastening this round my waist,
lest it should drop during my flight, I made a very rapid exit from this
scene of perilous achievement.

Having reached the house in triumph, and taken a large tumbler of wine,
I proceeded to exhibit my book, put the bank-note in my pocket, and with
an affectation of unconcern untied my cloth and flung my huge thigh-bone
upon the supper-table. I had my full revenge! The girls, who had been
amusing themselves by telling each other’s fortunes, tossing coffee,
burning nuts, turning shifts, writing _abracadabras_, &c. &c. &c., were
cruelly shocked—they all set up a loud shriek, and whilst some were half
swooning, others ran headlong out of the room, or rolled over the
chairs. My courage now grew rampant: I laughed at their terrors, saying,
if they pleased, they might leave the bone on the top of my bed till
morning, and that would sufficiently show, who was most in dread of dead

Confidence was at length restored on all sides. I was half cured of my
superstitious fears, and the family universally admitted that I
certainly should make a brave general if I went into the army. We made
merry till a late hour, when I retired joyously to bed, and sleep very
soon began to make still further amends for my terrors.

While dreaming away most agreeably, I was suddenly aroused by a rustling
noise for which I could not account. I sat up, and, upon listening,
found it to proceed from the top of my bed, whereon something was in
rapid motion. The dead man’s thigh-bone immediately started into my
recollection, and horrible ideas flashed across my mind. A profuse
perspiration burst out at once on my forehead, my hair rose, the cramp
seized both my legs, and just gathering power to call out “Murder,
Murder!—help, help!” I buried my head under the clothes. In this
situation, I could neither hear nor see, and was besides almost
suffocated: after awhile, I began to think I might have been dreaming,
and with that idea thrusting my head fearfully out, the bone (for that
it certainly was) sprang with a tremendous crash from the bed down
beside me upon the floor, where it exhibited as many signs of life
(probably more) than when its original owner was in legal possession of
it. Upon viewing this, my spirits sank again, I shook like a man in an
ague, gave some inarticulate screams, and at length dropped back, nearly
senseless, upon the pillow with my eyes covered.

How long I lay thus, I know not; I only remember that the bone still
continued its movements, and now and then striking a chair or table,
warned me of my probable fate from its justly enraged proprietor, who, I
was apprehensive, would soon appear to demand his undoubted property.
Had the scene continued long, I actually believe I should scarce have
survived it: but at last, paradise seemed all on the sudden to be
regained, though in no very orthodox way. A loud laugh at the door
clearly announced that I had been well played off upon by the ladies,
for my abrupt display of a dead man’s bone on a supper-table. The whole
of the young folks entered my room in a body, with candles; and after
having been reassured, and nourished by a tumbler of buttered white
wine, I obtained, by degrees, knowledge of the trick which had
occasioned a laugh so loud, so long, and so mortifying to my

The device was simple enough: a couple of cords had been tied to the
bone, and drawn under the door, which was at the bed’s foot; and by
pulling these alternately, the conspirators kept the bone in motion,
until their good-humoured joke had well nigh resulted in the loss of
their kinsman’s reason.

My character for bravery as to supernaturals was thus finally
demolished;—and my general courage was also considered as a doubtful
matter, in consequence of a most plausible piece of argument used by old
Christopher Julian, a retired exciseman, who occasionally came down from
his little cottage to take some shrub-punch at my father’s house. He was
very humourous, and we all liked him.

“Sure, Master Jonah,” said the old gauger, “cowardice is occasioned only
by the fear of death?”

I assented.

“And whether a man comes to that death by another man or by a ghost,
it’s just the same thing to him?”

“Certainly,” said I, very inconsiderately giving in to him.

“Then,” said Kit Julian, triumphantly, “how the devil can a man be stout
as to a man, and afraid of a ghost? If I knew any such shy cocks, they
never should get into the revenue. The devil a smuggler ever they’d
face; and then heigh for the potsheen, and contrabands! If a man’s not
afraid for his own carcass, he’d never dread another man’s winding

“That’s true,” said my father, and the laugh was turned completely
against me.

                          ADOPTION OF THE LAW.

Marriage of my eldest brother—The bridesmaid, Miss D. W.—Female
  attractions not dependent on personal beauty—Mutual
  attachment—Illustration of the French phrase _je ne sais
  quoi_—Betrothal of the author, and his departure for London, to study
  for the Bar.

My father still conceived that the military profession was best suited
to my ardent and volatile spirit. I was myself, however, of a different
opinion; and fortune shortly fixed my determination. An accident
occurred, which, uniting passion, judgment, and ambition, led me to
decide that the Bar was the only road to my happiness or celebrity; and
accordingly I finally and irrevocably resolved that the law should be
the future occupation of my life and studies.

The recollection of the incident to which I have alluded excites, even
at this moment, all the sensibility and regret which can survive a grand
climacteric, and four-and-forty years of vicissitude. I shall not dilate
upon it extensively; and, in truth, were it not that these personal
fragments would be otherwise still more incomplete, I should remain
altogether silent on a subject which revives in my mind so many painful

My elder brother married the only daughter of Mr. Edwards, of Old Court,
County Wicklow (niece to Mr. Tennison, M. P. County Monaghan). The
individuals of both families attended that marriage, which was indeed a
public one. The bridemaid of Miss Edwards was the then admired Miss D.
Whittingham. This lady was about my own age: her father had been a
senior fellow of Dublin University, and had retired on large church
preferments. Her uncle, with whom she was at that time residing, was a
very eminent barrister in the Irish capital. She had but one sister, and
I was soon brought to think she had no equal whatever.

They who read this will perhaps anticipate a story of a volatile lad
struck, in the midst of an inspiring ceremony, by the beauty of a lively
and engaging female, and surrendering without resistance his boyish
heart to the wild impulse of the moment. This supposition is, I admit, a
natural one; but it is unfounded. Neither beauty, nor giddy passion, nor
the glare of studied attractions, ever enveloped me in their labyrinths.
Nobody admired female loveliness more than myself; but beauty in _the
abstract_ never excited within me that delirium which has so impartially
made fools of kings and beggars—of heroes and cowards; and to which the
wisest professors of law, physic, and divinity, have from time
immemorial surrendered their liberty and their reason.

Regularity of feature is very distinct from expression of countenance,
which I never yet saw mere symmetry successfully rival. I thank Heaven,
that I never was either the captive or the victim of “perfect beauty;”
in fact, I never loved any handsome woman save one, who still lives, and
I hope will do so long: those whom I admired most (when I was of an age
to admire any) had no great reason to be grateful for her munificence to
creating Nature.

Were I to describe the person of D. Whittingham, I should say that she
had no beauty; but, on the contrary, seemed rather to have been selected
as a foil to set off the almost transparent delicacy of the bride whom
she attended. Her figure was graceful, it is true: her limbs fine, her
countenance _speaking_; yet I incline to think that few ladies would
have envied her perfections. Her dark and deep-sunk, yet animated and
penetrating eyes could never have reconciled their looking-glasses to
the sombre and swarthy complexion which surrounded them; nor the carmine
of her pouting lips to the disproportioned extent of feature which it
tinted. In fine, as I began, so will I conclude my personal
description—she had _no beauty_. But she seems this moment before me as
in a vision. I see her countenance, busied in unceasing converse with
her heart;—now illuminated by wit, now softened by sensibility—the wild
spirit of the former changing like magic into the steadier movements of
the latter;—the serious glance silently commanding caution, whilst the
counteracting smile at the same moment set caution at defiance. But upon
this subject I shall desist, and only remark further, that before I was
aware of the commencement of its passion, my whole heart was hers!

Miss Whittingham was at that time _the fashion_ in high society: many
admired, but I know of none who loved her save myself; and it must have
been through some attractive congeniality of mind that our attachment
became mutual.

It will doubtless appear unaccountable to many, whence the spell arose
by which I was so devoted to a female, from whom personal beauty seems
to have been withheld by Nature. I am unable to solve the enigma. I once
ventured myself to ask D. Whittingham if she could tell me _why_ I loved
her? She _answered_ by _returning the question_; and hence, neither of
us being able to give an explicit reason, we mutually agreed that the
query was _unanswerable_.

There are four short words in the French language which have a power of
expressing what in English is inexplicable—_Je ne sais quoi_; and to
these, in my dilemma, I resorted. I do not now wish the phrase to be
understood in a mere _sentimental_ vein,—or, in the set terms of young
ladies, as “a _nice_ expression!” In my mind it is an _amatory idiom_;
and, in those few words, conveys more meaning than could a hundred
pages: I never recollect its being seriously applied by any man till he
had got into a decided _partiality_.

I have said that the phrase is inexplicable; but, in like manner as we
are taught to aim at perfection whilst we know it to be unattainable, so
will I endeavour to characterise the _Je ne sais quoi_ as meaning a
species of indefinable grace which gives despotic power to a female.
When we praise in detail the abstract beauties or merits of a woman,
each of them may form matter for argument, or a subject for the exercise
of various tastes; but of the _Je ne sais quoi_ there is no
specification, and upon it there can be no reasoning. It is that
fascinating enigma which expresses _all_ without expressing _any thing_;
that mysterious source of attraction which we can neither discover nor
account for; and which nor beauty, nor wit, nor education, nor any
thing, but _nature_, ever can create.

D. Whittingham was the _fashion_:—but she depended solely, as to
fortune, on her father and her uncle. I was the third son of a largely
estated, but not at all prudent family, and was entitled to a younger
child’s portion, in addition to some exclusive property of my own (from
my grandmother): but I had passed twenty-one, and not even fixed on a
profession—therefore, the only probable result of our attachment seemed
to be misery and disappointment. Notwithstanding, when in the same
neighbourhood, we met,—when separate, we corresponded; but her good
sense at length perceived that some end must be put to this state of
clandestine correspondence, from which, although equally condemning it,
we had not been able to abstain. Her father died, and she became
entitled to a third of his estate and effects; but this accession was
insufficient to justify the accomplishment of our union. I saw, and,
with a half-broken heart, acquiesced in, her view of its impossibility
until I should have acquired some productive profession. She suggested
that there was no other course but the Bar, which might conciliate her
uncle. The hint was sufficient, and we then agreed to have a ceremony of
_betrothal_ performed by a clergyman, and to separate the next moment,
never to meet again until Fortune, if ever so disposed, should smile
upon us.

The ceremony was accordingly performed by a clerical person in the
parlour of the post-office at Bray, County Wicklow; and immediately
afterward I went on board a packet for England, determined, if possible,
to succeed in a profession which held out a reward so essential to my

I did succeed in that profession: but, alas! she for whose sake my toil
was pleasure had ceased to exist. I never saw her more! Her only sister
still lives in Merrion Square, Dublin, and in her has centred all the
property of both the father and uncle. She is the widow of one of my
warmest friends, Mr. Burne, a king’s counsel.

I hasten to quit a subject to me so distressing. Some very peculiar
circumstances attended, as I learned, the death of that most excellent
of women; but a recital of these would only increase the impression
which I fear I have already given grounds for, that I am deeply
superstitious. However, I have not concealed so important an incident of
my life hitherto not published, and I have done.

                        A DUBLIN BOARDING-HOUSE.

Sketch of the company and inmates—Lord Mountmorris—Lieut. Gam Johnson,
  R. N.—Sir John and Lady O’Flaherty—Mrs. Wheeler—Lady and Miss
  Barry—Memoir and character of Miss Barry, afterward Mrs.
  Baldwin—Ruinous effects of a dramatic education exemplified—Lord
  Mountmorris’s duel with the Honourable Francis Hely Hutchinson at
  Donnybrook—His Lordship wounded—Marquis of Ely, his second.

After my return to Dublin from the Temple, before I could suit myself
with a residence to my satisfaction, I lodged at the house of Mr. Kyle,
in Frederick-street, uncle to the present provost of Dublin University.
Mrs. Kyle was a remarkably plain woman, of the most curious figure,
being round as a ball; but she was as good as she was ordinary. This
worthy creature, who was a gentlewoman by birth, had married Kyle, who,
though of good family, had been a trooper. She had lived many years, as
companion, with my grandmother, and, in fact, regarded me as if I had
been her own child.

In her abode so many human curiosities were collected, and so many
anecdotes occurred, that, even at this distance of time, the
recollection amuses me. Those who lodged in the house dined in company:
the table was most plentifully served, and the party generally comprised
from eight to ten select persons. I will endeavour to sketch the leading
members of the society there at the period of which I speak; and first
on the list I will place the late Lord Mountmorris, of celebrated
memory. He was a very clever and well-informed, but eccentric man;—one
of the most ostentatious and at the same time parsimonious beings in the
world. He considered himself by far the greatest orator and politician
in Europe; and it was he who sent a florid speech, which he _intended_
to have spoken in the Irish House of Lords, to the press:—the debate on
which it was to be spoken did not ensue; but his Lordship having
neglected to countermand the publication, his studied harangue appeared
next day in the Dublin newspapers with all the supposititious
_cheerings_, &c. duly interposed! I believe a similar _faux pas_ has
been committed by some English nobleman.

His Lordship, at the period in question, was patronising what is
commonly ycleped a _led captain_—one Lieutenant Ham or Gam Johnson, of
the royal navy, brother to the two judges and the attorney. He was not,
however, a led captain in the _vulgar_ application: he was an
independent-minded man, and a brave officer; but, like many others,
sought for patronage because _he could not get on without it_. Though
not absolutely _disgusting_, Lieut. Johnson was certainly one of the
ugliest men in Christendom. It was said of him that he need never fire a
shot, since his countenance alone was sufficient to frighten the bravest
enemy. His bloated visage, deeply indented by that cruel ravager of all
comeliness, the smallpox, was nearly as large as the body which
supported it, and that was by no means diminutive. Yet he was civil and
mild, and had, withal, a much higher character as an officer than his
captain in the Artois frigate, Lord Charles Fitzgerald, who, it was at
that time thought, conceived that a sound nap was as good as a hard

Next in the company came Sir John O’Flaherty, Bart. (whose brother had
been poisoned by Lanegan), and Lady O’Flaherty his _sposa_. He was a
plain, agreeable country gentleman. Her Ladyship was to the full as
_plain_, but not quite so agreeable. However, it was (as Mrs. Kyle said)
a very _respectable_ thing, at a boarding-house, to hear—“_Sir John_
O’Flaherty’s health!”—and “_Lady_ O’Flaherty’s health!”—drunk or
hobnobbed across the table.—They formed, indeed, excellent stuffing to
cram in between my Lord Mountmorris and the simple _gentry_.

Lady Barry, widow of the late Sir Nathaniel Barry, Bart., and mother of
Sir Edward, (who was also an occasional guest,) follows in my catalogue,
and was as valuable a _curiosity_ as any of the set.—She, too, was a
good ingredient in the _stuffing_ department.

Mrs. Wheeler, the grandmother of Sir Richard Jonah Denny Wheeler Cuffe,
a cousin of mine, gave up her whole attention to lap-dogs; and neither
she nor the last-mentioned dowager were by any means averse to the
fermented grape—though we never saw either of them “_very_ far gone.”

Lady Barry’s only daughter, afterward Mrs. Baldwin, was also of the
party. Though this young female had not a beautiful face, it was
peculiarly pleasing, and she certainly possessed one of the finest of
figures,—tall, and slender in its proportions, and exquisitely graceful.
Her father, Sir Nathaniel Barry, many years the principal physician of
Dublin, adored his daughter, and had spared neither pains nor expense on
her education. She profited by all the instruction she received, and was
one of the most accomplished young women of her day.

But unfortunately he had introduced her to the practice of one very
objectionable accomplishment, calculated rather to give unbounded
latitude to, than check, the light and dangerous particles of a volatile
and thoughtless disposition. He was himself enthusiastically fond of
theatricals, and had fitted up a theatre in the upper story of his own
house. There the youthful mind of his untainted daughter was first
initiated into all the schemes, passions, arts, and deceptions of lovers
and of libertines!—the close mimicry of which forms the very essence of
dramatic perfection. At sixteen, with all the warmth of a sensitive
constitution, she was taught to personify the vices, affect the
passions, and assume the frivolities of her giddy sex!

Thus, through the folly or vanity of her father, she was led to
represent by turns the flirt, the jilt, the silly wife, the capricious
mistress, and the frail maiden,—before her understanding had arrived at
sufficient maturity, or his more serious instructions made sufficient
impression, to enable her to resist voluptuous sensations. She had not
penetration enough (how could she have?) to perceive that a moral may be
extracted from almost every crime, and that a bad example may sometimes
be more preservative against error, (from exhibiting its ruinous
consequences,) than a good one. She was too young, and too unsteady, to
make these subtle distinctions. She saw the world’s pleasures dancing
gaily before her, and pursued the vision—until her mimicry, at length,
became nature, her personification identity. After two or three years,
during which this mistaken course was pursued, Sir Nathaniel died,
leaving his daughter in possession of all the powers of attraction
without the guard of prudence. In the dance—in declamation—in music—in
the languages—she excelled: but in those steady and solid qualities
which adapt women for wedlock and domesticity, she was altogether
deficient. Her short-sighted father had been weak enough to deck her
with the gaudy qualifications of an actress at the expense of all those
more estimable acquirements which her mind and her genius were equally
susceptible of attaining.

The misfortunes which ensued should therefore be attributed rather to
the folly of the parent than to the propensities of the child. Her heart
once sunk into the vortex of thoughtless variety and folly, her mother
was unable to restrain its downward progress; and as to her weak,
dissipated brother, Sir Edward, I have myself seen him, late at night,
require her to come from her chamber to sing, or play, or spout, for the
amusement of his inebriated companions;—conduct which the mother had not
sufficient sense or resolution to control. However, good fortune still
gave Miss Barry a fair chance of rescuing herself, and securing complete
comfort and high respectability. She married well, being united to
Colonel Baldwin, a gentleman of character and fortune:—but, alas! that
delicacy of mind which is the best guardian of female conduct, had been
irrecoverably lost by her pernicious education, and in a few years she
relinquished her station in society.

Long after that period, I saw Mrs. Baldwin at the house of a friend of
mine, into which she had been received, under an assumed name, as
governess. This effort, on her part, could not be blamed: on the
contrary, it was most commendable; and it would have been both cruel and
unjust, by discovering her, to have thwarted it. Though many years had
elapsed, and her person had meanwhile undergone total alteration,—her
size being doubled, and her features grown coarse and common,—I
instantly recognised her as one whom I had known long before, but whose
name I could not recollect. I had tact enough to perceive that she
courted concealment, and, in consequence, I carefully abstained from any
pointed observation. The mother of the children subsequently told me
that her governess, Mrs. _Brown_, was an admirable musician, and took me
to the door of her room to hear her play. She was sitting alone, at the
piano. I listened with an anxiety I cannot describe—indeed scarcely
account for. She sang not with superiority, but in plaintive tones,
which I was confident I had heard before, yet could not remember
where,—when an air which, from a very peculiar cause, had in early days
impressed itself _indelibly_ on my memory, brought Miss Barry at once to
my recollection.[29] Her image swam into my mind as she appeared when
youth, grace, innocence, and accomplishments made her a just subject for
general admiration, and had particularly attracted a friend of mine, Mr.
Vicars, the brother of Mrs. Peter Latouche, who loved her to
distraction.—He since married Miss Georges.


Footnote 29:

  It was a favourite air of D. Whittingham’s, and affected me much,
  though after a lapse of twenty-four years.


Her secret I kept inviolably:—but some person, I believe, was afterward
less considerate, and she was discovered. Had I supposed it possible she
could have then enfeebled the morals, or injured the habits, of my
friend’s children, I should myself have privately given her a hint to
change her situation;—but I never should have _betrayed_ her. I
conceived her at that time to be trustworthy in the execution of the
duties she had undertaken. She had suffered amply. Her own daughter
resided with her, and scarcely ever left her side. No longer a subject
for the irregular passions, she had just lived long enough, and felt
keenly enough, to render her early follies a warning for her later
years, and even to cause her to entertain disgust for those errors which
had so fatally misled her:—and I then believed, nor have I now any
reason to question the solidity of my judgment, that she was on the
direct road to prudence and good conduct.

I have related these events, as I confess myself to be an avowed enemy
to a dramatic education. That sexual familiarity which is indispensable
upon the stage undermines, and is, in my opinion, utterly inconsistent
with, the delicacy of sentiment, the refinement of thought, and reserve
of action, which constitute at once the surest guards and the most
precious ornaments of female character. Strong minds and discriminating
understandings frequently escape; but, what a vast majority of Thalia’s
daughters fall victims to the practices of their profession!

Let us return to Kyle’s boarding-house. The different pursuits adopted
by these curious members of the society assembled there were to me
subjects of constant entertainment, and I stood well with all
parties.—Good manners, good humour, and good cheer, make every place
agreeable;—all these were united at Kyle’s boarding-table: the society
never exceeded ten; and the company was always good.

One day, after dinner, Lord Mountmorris seemed rather less communicative
than usual, but not less cheerful. He took out his watch; made a speech,
as customary; drank his _tipple_ (as he denominated the brandy and
water), but seemed rather impatient. At length, a loud rap announced
somebody of consequence, and the Marquis of Ely was named.

Lord Mountmorris rose with his usual ceremony, made a very low bow to
the company, looked again at his watch, repeated his _congé_, and made
his exit. He entered the coach where Lord Ely was waiting, and away they
drove. Kyle (a most curious man) instantly decided that a duel was in
agitation, and turned pale at _the dread of losing so good a lodger_.
Lieutenant Gam Johnson was of the same opinion, and equally distressed
by the fear of losing his Lordship’s interest for a frigate. Each
snatched up his beaver, and, with the utmost expedition, pursued the
coach. I was also rather desirous too see _the fun_, as Lieutenant Gam
(though with a sigh!) called it, and made the best of my way after the
two mourners, not, however, hurrying myself so much—as, whilst they kept
the coach in view, I was contented with keeping them within sight. Our
pursuit exceeded a mile; when, in the distance, I perceived that the
coach had stopped at Donnybrook fair-green, where, on every eighth of
June, many an eye seems to mourn in raven gray for the broken skull that
had protected it from expulsion. I took my time, as I was now sure of my
game, and had just reached the field when I heard the firing. I then ran
behind a large tree, to observe further.

Lieut. Gam and Kyle had flown toward the spot, and nearly tumbled over
my Lord, who had received a bullet from the Hon. Francis Hely Hutchinson
(late collector for Dublin) on the right side, directly under his
Lordship’s pistol arm. The peer had staggered and reposed at his length
on the green-sward, and I certainly thought it was all over with him. I
stood snugly all the while behind my tree, not wishing to have any thing
to do at the coroner’s inquest, which I considered inevitable. To my
astonishment, however, I saw my Lord arise, gracefully but slowly; and,
after some colloquy, the combatants bowed to each other and separated;
my Lord got back to his coach, with aid, and reached Frederick-street,
if not in quite as good health, certainly with as high a character for
bravery, as when he left it. In fact, never did any person enjoy a wound
more sincerely! It was little else than a contusion, but twenty grains
more of powder would probably have effectually laid his Lordship “to
rest on the field of battle.” He kept his chamber a month, and was
inconceivably gratified by the number of inquiries daily made respecting
his health—boasting ever after of the profusion of _friends_ who thus
proved their solicitude. His answer from first to last was—“_no
better_.”—To speak truth, one-half of the querists were sent in jest by
those whom his singularity diverted.

                            IRISH BEAUTIES.

Strictures on change of manners—Moral influence of dress—The three
  beauties—Curious trial respecting Lady M—— —Termination favourable to
  her Ladyship—Interesting and affecting incidents of that lady’s
  life—Sir R—— M——, his character, and cruelty—Lady M—— married against
  her will—Quits her husband—Returns—Sir R. mistakes her for a rebel in
  his sleep, and nearly strangles her.

It is singular enough, but at the same time true, that female beauty has
of late years kept pace in improvement with modern accomplishments. She
who in the early part of my life would have been accounted a perfect
beauty,—and whose touch upon a harpsichord or spinnet, accompanied by a
simple air sung with what they then called “judgment,” (in tune,) would
have constituted her a syren as well as a Venus, would now be passed by
merely as “a pretty girl, but such a confounded _bore_ with her music!”
In fact, women fifty years since (and much later) not being, generally
speaking, thrust into society till they had arrived at the age of
maturity, were more respected, more beloved, and more sedulously
attended than in these days, when the men seem to have usurped the
ladies’ corsets, to affect their voices, practise their gait, imitate
their small-talk, and, in surtouts and trowsers, hustle ladies off the
foot-paths, to save their own dog-skins from humidity.

This degradation of both sexes has arisen from various causes. Beauty is
now less rare, accomplishments more common, dress less distinguished,
dignity worse preserved, and decorum less attended to, than in former
times. It is a great mistake in women not to recollect their own
importance, and keep up that just medium between reserve and familiarity
which constitutes the best criterion whereby to appreciate the manners
of a gentlewoman. But women are too apt to run into extremes in every
thing; and overlook the fact, that neither personal beauty nor
drawing-room display are calculated to form permanent attractions, even
to the most adoring lover.—The _breakfast-table_ in the morning, and
_fire-side_ in the evening, must be the ultimate touch-stones of
connubial comfort; and this is a maxim which any woman who intends to
marry should never lose sight of.

To such lengths did respect for the fair sex extend, and so strong was
the impression formerly that men were bound to protect it even from
accidental offence, that I remember the time, (indeed I witnessed two
instances,) when, if any gentleman presumed to pass between a lady and
the wall in walking the streets of Dublin, he was considered as offering
a personal affront to her escort; and if the parties wore swords, (as
was then customary,) it is probable the first salutation to the offender
would be—“Draw, sir!” However, such affairs usually ended in an apology
to the lady for inadvertence, scarcely ever proceeding to extremities
unless the offence was premeditated.

But if a man ventured to intrude into the boxes of the theatre in his
surtout, or boots, or with his hat on, it was regarded as a general
insult to every lady present, and he had little chance of escaping
without a shot or a thrust before the following night. Every gentleman
then wore in the evening a sword, a queue, and a three-cocked
hat—appointments rather too fierce-looking for the modern dandy! whilst
the morning dress consisted of what was then called a French frock,
(having no skirt-pockets,) a waistcoat bordered with lace, velvet or
silk breeches, silk stockings, pumps, and a _couteau de chasse_, with a
short, curved broad blade—the handle of green ivory, with a lion’s head
in silver or gilt at the end, and a treble chain dangling loose from its
mouth, terminating at an ornamented cross or guard, which surmounted the
green scabbard. Such was the costume: but although either the male or
female attire of that day might now appear rather grotesque, yet people
of fashion had then the exclusive dress and air of such, and ladies ran
no risk of being copied in garb or manner, or rivalled, perhaps
surpassed, by their pretty waiting-maids—now called “young persons!”—who
not unfrequently first ape, then traduce, and next supplant, their
mistresses. The _nice_ young governesses also, (of twenty,) now selected
to instruct young ladies of seventeen, present a modern system of
education to which, I believe, Doctors Commons is under obligation.

The Irish court at that period was kept up with great state, and hence
the parties who frequented it were more select. I recollect when the
wives and daughters of attorneys (who now, I believe, are the general
occupiers of the red benches, then solely the seats of nobles) were
never admitted to the viceregal drawing-rooms. How far the present
growing system of equality in appearance among different ranks will
eventually benefit or injure society in general, is for casuists, not
for me, to determine. I must, however, take occasion to own myself an
admirer, and (whenever it is proper) a zealous contender for distinction
of ranks; and to state my decided opinion, that superior talents,
learning, military reputation, or some other quality which raises men by
general assent, should alone be permitted to amalgamate common with high
society. Nature, by conferring talent, points out those whom she
intended to distinguish: but “free agency” too frequently counteracts
the _intention_ of Nature, and great talent is often overpowered, and
lost in a crowd of inferior propensities.

It is an observation I have always made, (although it may be perhaps
considered a frivolous one,) that dress has a moral effect upon the
conduct of mankind. Let any gentleman find himself with dirty boots, old
surtout, soiled neckcloth, and a general negligence of dress, he will,
in all probability, find a corresponding disposition to negligence of
address. He may, _en deshabille_, curse and swear, speak roughly and
think coarsely: but put the same man into full dress; powder, or at
least curl him well, clap a sword by his side, and give him an evening
coat, waistcoat, breeches, and silk stockings, lace ruffles and a
_chapeau bras_, and he will feel himself quite another person!—To use
the language of the blackguard would then be out of character: he will
talk smoothly, affect politeness if he has it not, pique himself upon
good manners, and respect the women: nor will the spell subside until,
returning home, the old _robe de chambre_ (or its substitute surtout),
the heelless slippers, with other slovenly appendages, make him lose
again his brief consciousness of being a gentleman!

Some women mistake the very nature and purposes of dress: glaring
abroad, they are slatterns at home. The husband detests in his _sposa_
what he is too apt to practise himself: he rates a dirty wife; she
retorts upon a filthy husband, and each of them detests the other for
that neglect of person which neither will take the trouble of avoiding,
except to encounter strangers.

Two ladies, about the period of my entrance into public life, and
another some time after, became very conspicuous for their beauty,
though extremely different in all points both of appearance and manners.
They still live:—two of them I greatly admired—not for beauty alone, but
for an address the most captivating; and one of these, especially, for
the kindest heart and the soundest sense, when she gave it fair play,
that I have (often) met with amongst females.

In admitting my great preference for this individual lady, I may,
perhaps, be accused of partiality, less to herself than to a family:—be
it so!—she was the wife of my friend, and I esteem her for his sake: but
she is an excellent woman, and I esteem the Honourable Mrs. C.
Hutchinson also for her own.

Another of the ladies alluded to, Lady M—, is a gentlewoman of high
birth, and was then, though not _quite_ a beauty, in all points
attractive: indeed, her entire person was symmetrical and graceful. She
passed her spring in misfortune—her summer in misery—her autumn without
happiness!—but I hope the winter of her days is spent amidst every
comfort. Of the third lady I have not yet spoken:—though far inferior to
both the former, she has succeeded better in life than either; and,
beginning the world without any pretensions beyond mediocrity, is likely
to end her days in ease and more than ordinary respectability.

My first knowledge of Lady M— arose from a circumstance which was to me
of singular professional advantage; and, as it forms a curious anecdote,
I will proceed to relate it.

At the assizes of Wexford, while I was but young at the bar, I received
a brief in a cause of Sir R—— M——, Bart., against a Mr. H——. On perusal,
I found it was an action brought by the baronet against the latter
gentleman respecting his lady, and that I was retained as advocate for
the lady’s honour. It was my “first appearance” in that town. But, alas!
I had a _senior_ in the business; and therefore was without opportunity
of attempting any display. The ill-fated Bagenal Harvey[30] was that
senior counsel, and he had prepared himself to make some exhibition in a
cause of so much and such universal excitement. I felt dispirited, and
would willingly have given up twenty fees to possess his opportunity.


Footnote 30:

  An unfortunate friend of mine who was afterward hanged, and his head
  stuck over the door of the same court-house.


The cause proceeded before Judge Kelly: the evidence of Sir R—— M—— was
finished, and the proper time for the defence had arrived; every thing
as to the lady was at stake. Bagenal Harvey had gone out to take fresh
air, and probably to read over some notes, or con some florid sentences
and quotations with which he intended to interlard his elocution. At the
moment the evidence closed the judge desired me to proceed. I replied,
that Mr. Harvey, my senior, would return into court directly.

Judge Kelly, who was my friend, said he would not delay public business
one minute for anybody; and, by a sort of instinct, or rather impulse,—I
cannot indeed exactly say what it was, but certainly it was totally
_impromptu_,—I began to state her ladyship’s case. I always had words
enough at command: the evidence afforded sufficient material for their
exercise; and, in fact, being roused by the cause into a sort of
knight-errantry, I felt myself completely identified with it. If I
should succeed, it would greatly serve me. I forgot poor Bagenal Harvey,
and was just getting into the marrow and pathos of my case, when the
crier shouted out “Clear the way for Counsellor Harvey!” Bagenal came
in, puffing and blowing, and struggling through the crowd—scarcely able
to command utterance. I instantly stopped, and begged his pardon, adding
that the judge had said the public time could wait for nobody! “So,”
continued I, “let me just show you where I left off! (turning over the
leaves of my brief:)—there, begin there—it will be useless to repeat
what I have already said; so begin there.” A loud laugh succeeded.

Bagenal, though generally very good-tempered, became irritated as much
as he was susceptible of being, and whispered me that he considered it a
personal insult: while old Judge Kelly gravely said, “Go on, Mr.
Barrington, go on! we can have no speeches by dividends: go on, sir!” So
on I went, and I believe, (because every body told me so,) that my
impromptu speech was entirely successful. I discredited the witnesses by
ridicule, destroyed all sympathy with the husband, and interested every
body for the wife. In short, I got the judge and jury into good-humour.
Yet, I know not that I should have ensured a verdict, had not a certain
point of law, which I believe was then started for the first time,
occurred to me; and which, though rational in itself, and on that trial
recognised by the judge, has since been overruled in _terms_, though it
stands in _substance_;—namely, if a husband cannot truly aver that he
has sustained mental injury by the loss of that comfort arising from the
_society_ of a wife, it is anomalous to say he has any claim to damages;
and this averment can scarcely be made where the parties have been
separated voluntarily and completely for years.[31]


Footnote 31:

  This is, indeed, altogether a species of action, placing a price upon
  dishonour, maintained in no country but England (a money country). Why
  not transfer the offence to the _criminal_ side of the courts of
  justice? All the rest of Europe ridicules our system. The idea
  entertained on the continent upon such occasions is _silence_ or
  _death_!—if not the most lucrative, certainly the most _honourable_
  mode of procedure.—An _affectionate_ husband cannot be recompensed by
  _any_ thing, and a _rich_ seducer cannot be _punished_. But if the
  gentleman was to be sent to a _tread_-mill, and the lady to _solitary_
  confinement, adultery would soon be as much out of fashion as it is
  now the _haut goût_.


The judge, the kindest-hearted man living, chuckled at this new point.
The jury, who did not much admire the plaintiff, were quite pleased with
my suggestion; and after the judge had given his charge, in a few
minutes, to the utter discomfiture of the baronet, there was a verdict
against him! His lips quivered; he stood pale and trembling with anger;
and subsequently quitted the town with the utmost expedition.

Some time after, a complete reconciliation took place between the
parties, so far that her ladyship consented to live with him
again—influenced much, I rather think, by having suffered great
inconvenience, if not distress, from want of regularity in the receipt
of her separate maintenance of 700_l._ per annum. I had the pleasure of
meeting her frequently afterwards at the lady lieutenant’s parties.

The conclusion of the renewed intercourse is too curious to be omitted.
Sir R—— had taken a house in Nassau Street, in the city of Dublin; and
it was thought possible that he and his wife might, at any rate, pass
some time under the same roof: but fate decided otherwise.

Sir R—— was literally insane on all political subjects, his imagination
being occupied, night and day, with nothing but papists, jesuits, popes,
priests, and rebels. Once in the dead of the night his lady was awakened
by a sense of positive suffocation, and rousing herself, found that Sir
R—— was in the very act of strangling her!—He had grasped her by the
throat with all his might, and, muttering heavy imprecations, had nearly
succeeded in his diabolical attempt.—She struggled, and at length
extricated herself from his grasp; upon which he roared out, making a
fresh effort—“You infernal _papist rebel_! you United Irishman! You
_eternal villain_! I’ll never part from you alive, if you don’t come
quietly to the guard-house!”

In fact this crazy Orange-man had in his dream fancied that he was
contesting with a rebel, whom he had better choke than suffer to escape,
and poor Lady M—— was nearly sacrificed to his excess of loyalty. In her
_robe de chambre_ and slippers she contrived to get out of the house,
and never more ventured to return, as she now clearly perceived that
even her personal safety could not be calculated on in her husband’s

I have in another work given a full character of Sir R—— M——, and stated
my opinion of his worse than mischievous history of Ireland. One more
anecdote of him, and I have done.

Whilst he was high sheriff for the county of Waterford, an old man was
sentenced to be whipped at the cart’s tail for some political offence;
when, the executioner not being in readiness, the _high sheriff_,—a
baronet and member of Parliament,—took up the cat-o’-nine-tails, ordered
the cart to move on _slowly_, and operated himself with admirable
expertness, but much greater severity than the hangman would have
used!—Thus did he proceed to whip the old man through the streets of the
city; and when the extreme point was reached, the sentence executed, and
he was scarcely able to raise his arm, he publicly regretted he had not
a little farther to go!

Lady M—— was, in her own right, entitled to a fortune of 15,000_l._, to
be paid only on her marriage. Her father, a gentleman of rank and
estate, had by some mismanagement in office become extremely
embarrassed. Sir R— M—, a man of family, but whose fortune was not
large, cast his eye on her beauty—not totally overlooking her property.
His taste was indisputably good; the lady being, at that period, every
thing that could be desired! She possessed an ardent mind, great
constitutional gaiety, and a sensitive heart;—to which were added a most
engaging figure and a lovely and expressive countenance. Her father she
loved dearly; and for his unhappy circumstances, therefore, her heart
bled; but Sir R— M— could make no impression upon it. On the contrary,
he excited her aversion.—Thus her affections being unattainable, the
baronet resolved, if possible, to _purchase_ her hand, leaving her heart
to some future opportunity! Hence commences the affecting narrative of
her ladyship’s wrongs and misfortunes, related to me by herself, almost
unconsciously, in broken fragments, and at several times.

“I was not aware (said she) what caused my dear father’s obvious
unhappiness, and often was I surprised at the pertinacity with which he
pressed the baronet upon my consideration. I rejected him over and over
again; still his suit was renewed, still my father appeared more anxious
on his behalf, whilst my mother seconded their wishes.—My aversion
increased; yet Sir R— M—’s assiduities were redoubled with his repulses;
and at length I contemplated the leaving my father’s house, if I were
longer persecuted by these addresses.

“Though young, I knew the failing of my own character, which possessed
not sufficient resolution to oppose its constitutional tendencies.
Nature had formed me for all the pleasures and the pains which are alike
inseparable from sensibility. I found a glow in every thought—an
enthusiasm in every action. My feelings were always _in earnest_. I
could love to excess, and hate to rancour! but I could do neither with
mediocrity. I could be the best or the worst of wives. I could endure
any thing with a man I loved, but could not sit upon a throne with one
whom I detested.

“At length, I discovered the whole of my father’s more than pressing
embarrassments; and understood that Sir R— M— had agreed to give up to
him a considerable portion of my fortune if our marriage was effected.
This shock to such a disposition as mine was cruel; and the dilemma was
distracting: it involved my father’s comforts—or my own misery!

“Often, as we sat at our family repasts, have I perceived that dear
parent lay down the fork he was conveying to his lips, and turn away to
conceal the agitation of mind which might have betrayed to us that
distress he was endeavouring to conceal.

“Gradually, I found that filial affection was taking the strongest hold
of me. I thought I could endure unhappiness myself, but I could not bear
to see my father miserable. I weighed the consequences, and reasoned so
far as I possessed the faculty of reasoning. I saw his ruin or my own
was inevitable!

“The struggle was, indeed, sharp—it was long—it was _very_ painful: but
at length filial piety prevailed over self; and I determined upon making
the sacrifice. I communicated to my father my decision to admit the
addresses of Sir R— M—, without hinting at my true reasons; but, at the
same moment, I felt an indescribable change of character commence,
which, from that sad period, has more or less affected every action of
my life. I felt a sort of harsh sensation arise within my mind, and
operate upon my temper, to which they had previously been strangers. My
spirits flagged,—all pleasures grew insipid; and I perceived that the
ice of indifference was chilling the sensibility of my nature.

“From the moment of my assent, my father’s disposition seemed to have
undergone almost as radical a change as my own. He became once more
cheerful, and I had at least the gratification of reflecting that, if I
were myself lost, I had saved a parent! But I must remark that it was
not so as to my mother—who, indeed, had not been kind to me.

“In due time the settlements were prepared, and my fortune, I learnt,
secretly divided. The ceremony was about to be performed, and Sir R— M—
at that very hour appeared to me to be the most disagreeable of mankind.
There was a sort of uncouth civility—an abrupt, fiery, coarse
expression, even in his most conciliating manners, which seemed to set
all feelings of respect or cordiality at defiance. As to love, he was
not susceptible of the passion; whilst I was created to enjoy its
tenderest blessings. He was half mad by nature;—I had become so from
misery! and in this state of mind we met to be united at the altar! I
was determined, however, that he should learn by anticipation what he
had to expect from me as a wife. ‘Sir R— M—, (said I to him,) I am
resolved to give you the last proof you will ever receive of my candour.
I accept you, not only as a husband whom I never can love, and never
will obey, but whom I absolutely detest!—now marry me at your peril, and
take the consequences!’—He laughed convulsively, took me by the hand,
and having led me into the next room, that ceremony was performed to
which I should have thought a sentence of death preferable. The moment
we were united I retired to my chamber, where tears, flowing in
torrents, cooled my heated feelings. My purpose in marrying was
effected: I therefore determined that (if possible) I never would live
an hour in his society, and it was two months before my ill-fated stars
compelled me to become the actual wife of the most unfeeling and
abominable of fanatics.

“Our residence together of course was short, and at twenty-one I was
thrown upon the world, to avoid my husband’s society. Being possessed of
sufficient means, I travelled; and for the fourteen years of our
separation my whole time was an unnatural and continued strife between
passion and propriety. On a late occasion, you were my counsel, and from
you nothing has been concealed. You did me more than justice—you have
defeated him, and preserved me!”

I have not seen her ladyship for these many years; but never did I meet
with one whom I conceived to be more completely thrown away, or whose
natural disposition seemed better calculated to lead to her own
happiness and to the happiness of those within her sphere of influence.
I speak of her as she was when I knew her; and I have no reason to alter
my impressions. Her father, mother, and husband, are all gone: how she
is situated with regard to her surviving connexions, I know not.

                       PATRICIANS AND PLEBEIANS.

The three classes of gentlemen in Ireland described—Irish poets—Mr.
  Thomas Flinter and D. Henesey—The bard—Peculiarities of the
  peasants—Their ludicrous misinformation as to distances accounted
  for—Civility of a waiter—Equivocation of the peasants, and their
  misdirection of travellers to different places.

I will now proceed to lay before the reader a brief but more general
sketch of the state of Irish society at the period of my youth,
reminding him of the principle which I have before assumed; namely, that
of considering anecdotes, bon-mots, and the like, valuable only as they
tend to exemplify interesting facts relative to history or manners: many
such I have inserted in these fragments; and as I have been careful
throughout to avoid mere inventions, my reader need not, by any means,
reserve their perusal for the study of his travelling carriage.

Miss Edgeworth, in her admirable sketch of _Castle Rackrent_, gives a
tolerably faithful picture of the Irish character under the combination
of circumstances which she has selected; and the account that I am about
to give may serve as an elucidation of the habits and manners of Irish
country society about the period Miss Edgeworth alludes to, and somewhat
later—with which she could not be so well acquainted.

In those days, the common people ideally separated the gentry of the
country into three classes, and treated each class according to the
relative degree of respect to which they considered it entitled.

They generally divided them thus:

1. _Half-mounted_ gentlemen.

2. Gentlemen _every inch of them_.

3. Gentlemen _to the back-bone_.

The first-named class formed the only species of independent yeomanry
then existing in Ireland. They were the descendants of the small
grantees of Queen Elizabeth, Cromwell, and King William III. by their
confiscations; possessed about 200 or 300 acres of land each, in fee,
from the Crown;[32] and were occasionally admitted into the society of
better gentlemen—particularly hunters—living at other times amongst each
other, with an intermixture of their own servants, with whom they were
always on terms of intimacy. They generally had good clever horses,
which could leap over any thing, but seldom felt the trimming-scissors
or currycomb, unless they belonged to _jockey_ gentlemen. The riders
commonly wore buck-skin breeches, and boots well greased, (blacking was
never used in the country,) and carried large thong whips heavily loaded
with lead at the butt-end, so that they were always prepared either to
horsewhip a man or knock his brains out, as circumstances might dictate.
These half-mounted gentlemen exercised hereditarily the authority of
keeping the ground clear at horse-races, hurlings, and all public
meetings (as soldiers keep the lines at a review). Their business was to
ride round the inside of the ground, which they generally did with
becoming spirit, trampling over some, knocking down others, and slashing
every body who encroached on the proper limits. Bones being but very
_seldom_ broken, and skulls still seldomer fractured, every body
approved of their exertions, because all the by-standers gained thereby
a full view of the sport which was going forward. A shout of merriment
was always set up when a half-mounted gentleman knocked down an
interloper; and some of the _poets_ present, if they had an opportunity,
roared out their verses[33] by way of a song to encourage the gentlemen.


Footnote 32:

  Their ancestors had mostly been troopers in the English armies, and
  were mingled amongst the Irish to _mend the breed_. They however soon
  imbibed the peculiarities of the Irish character with an increased
  ability to procure all its gratifications. In country sports they were
  quite pre-eminent, except a few who took exclusively to farming and

Footnote 33:

  I recollect an example of those good-humoured madrigals. A poet,
  called Daniel Bran, sang a stanza aloud, as he himself lay sprawling
  on the grass, after having been knocked down with a loaded whip, and
  ridden over, by old Squire Flood, who showed no mercy in the
  “execution of his _duty_.”

                “There was Despard so brave,        (a soldier)
                 And that son of the wave,          (a sailor)
           And Tom Conway, the pride of the bower;  (a farmer)
                 But noble Squire Flood
                 Swore, G—d d—n his blood!
             But he’d drown them all in the Delower.”


The second class, or gentlemen _every inch of them_, were of excellent
old families;—whose finances were not in so good order as they might
have been, but who were not the less popular amongst all ranks. They
were far above the first degree, somewhat inferior to the third; but had
great influence; were much beloved, and carried more sway at popular
elections and general county meetings than the other two classes put

The third class, or gentlemen _to the back-bone_, were of the oldest
families and settlers, universally respected, and idolised by the
peasantry, although they also were generally a little out at elbows.
Their word was law; their nod would have immediately collected an army
of cottagers, or colliers, or whatever the population was composed of.
Men, women, and children, were always ready and willing to execute any
thing “the squire” required, without the slightest consideration as to
either its danger or propriety. The grand juries were selected from the
two last classes.[34]


Footnote 34:

  These distinct classes have for some years been gradually losing their
  characteristic sharp points, and are now wearing fast away. The third
  class have mostly emigrated, and, like the _wolf-dogs_, will soon be


A curious circumstance perhaps rendered my family peculiarly popular.
The common people had conceived the notion that the lord of
Cullenaghmore had a right to save a man’s life every summer assizes at
Maryborough; and it did frequently so happen, within my recollection,
that my father’s intercession in favour of some poor deluded creatures
(when the White Boy system was in activity) was kindly attended to by
the government; and, certainly, besides this number, many others of his
tenants owed their lives to similar interference. But it was wise in the
government to accede to such representations; since their concession
never failed to create such an influence in my father’s person over the
tenantry, that he was enabled to preserve them in perfect tranquillity,
whilst those surrounding were in a constant state of insubordination to
all law whatever. Hanging the Irish will never either reform their
morals, or thin their population.

I recollect a Mr. Tom Flinter, of Timahoe, one of the first-class
gentlemen, who had speculated in cows and sheep, and every thing he
could buy up, till his establishment was reduced to one blunt faithful
fellow, Dick Henesey, who stuck to him throughout all his vicissitudes.
Flinter had once on a time got a trifle of money, which was burning in
his greasy pocket, and he wanted to expend it at a neighbouring fair!
where his whole history, as well as the history of every man of his
half-mounted contemporaries, was told in a few verses,[35] by a fellow
called Ned the dog-stealer, but who was also a _great poet_, and resided
in the neighbourhood:—he was remarkably expert at both his trades.


Footnote 35:

  These lines were considered as a standing joke for many years in that
  part of the country, and ran as follows:

  Dialogue between Tom Flinter and his man.

          TOM FLINTER.  Dick!                           said he;

          DICK HENESEY. What?                           said he;

          TOM FLINTER.  Fetch me my hat:                says he;
                        For I will go,                  says he;
                        To Timahoe,                     says he;
                        To buy the fair,                says he;
                        And all that’s there,           says he.

          DICK HENESEY. Arrah! _pay what you owe!_      said he;
                        And _then_ you may go,          says he;
                        To Timahoe,                     says he;
                        To buy the fair,                says he;
                        And all that’s there,           says he.

          TOM FLINTER.  Well! by this and by that!      said he;
                        Dick! Here, _hang up my hat_!   said he.


In travelling through Ireland, a stranger is very frequently puzzled by
the singular ways, and especially by the idiomatic equivocation,
characteristic of every Irish peasant. Some years back, more
particularly, these men were certainly originals—quite unlike any other
people whatever. Many an hour of curious entertainment has been afforded
me by their eccentricities; yet, though always fond of prying into the
remote sources of these national peculiarities, I must frankly confess
that, with all my pains, I never was able to develop half of them,
except by one sweeping observation; namely, that the brains and tongues
of the Irish are somehow differently formed or furnished from those of
other people. Phrenology may be a very good science; but the heads of
the Irish would puzzle the very best of its professors. Very few of
those belonging to the peasantry, indeed, leave the world in the same
shape they came into it. After twenty years of age, the _shillelah_
quite alters the natural formation, and leaves so many hills and hollows
upon their skulls, that the _organ_ of _fighting_ is the only one
discoverable to any certainty.

One general hint which I beg to impress upon all travellers in Hibernia,
is this: that if they show a disposition toward kindness, together with
a moderate familiarity, and _affect_ to be _inquisitive_, whether so or
not, the Irish peasant will outdo them tenfold in every one of these
dispositions. But if a man is haughty and overbearing, he had better
take care of himself.

I have often heard it remarked and complained of by travellers and
strangers, that they never could, when on a journey, get a true answer
from any Irish peasant as to _distances_. For many years I myself
thought it most unaccountable. If you meet a peasant on your road, and
ask him how far, for instance, to Ballinrobe, he will probably say it
is, “_three short_ miles!” You travel on, and are informed by the next
peasant you meet, “that it is _five long_ miles!” On you go, and the
next will tell “your honour” it is “a long _mile_, or about that same!”
The fourth will swear “if your honour stops at _three_ miles, you’ll
never get there!” But, on pointing to a town just before you, and
inquiring what place that is, he replies,

“Oh! plaze your honour, that’s Ballinrobe, sure enough!”

“Why you said it was more than _three_ miles off!”

“Oh yes! to be sure and sartain, that’s from my _own cabin_, plaze your
honour.—We’re no scholards in this country. Arrah! how can we tell any
distance, plaze your honour, but from our own _little cabins_? Nobody
but the schoolmaster knows that, plaze your honour.”

Thus is the mystery unravelled. When you ask any peasant the distance of
the place you require, he never computes it from where you _then are_,
but from his _own cabin_; so that, if you asked twenty, in all
probability you would have as many different answers, and not one of
them correct. But it is to be observed, that frequently you can get no
reply at all, unless you understand _Irish_.

In parts of Kerry and Mayo, however, I have met with peasants who speak
Latin not badly. On the election of Sir John Brown for the county of
Mayo, Counsellor Thomas Moore and I went down as his counsel. The
weather was desperately severe. At a solitary inn, where we were obliged
to stop for horses, we requested dinner; upon which, the waiter laid a
cloth that certainly exhibited every species of dirt ever invented. We
called, and remonstrating with him, ordered a clean cloth. He was a low
fat fellow, with a countenance perfectly immoveable, and seeming to have
scarcely a single muscle in it. He nodded, and on our return to the
room, (which we had quitted during the interval,) we found, instead of a
clean cloth, that he had only folded up the filthy one into the
thickness of a cushion, and replaced it with _great solemnity_. We now
scolded away in good earnest. He looked at us with the greatest
_sang-froid_, said sententiously, “_Nemo me impune lacessit!_” and
turned his back on us.

He kept his word; when we had proceeded about four miles in deep snow,
through a desperate night, and on a bleak bog-road, one of the wheels
came off the carriage, and down we went! We were at least three miles
from _any_ house. The driver cursed (in Irish) Michael the waiter, who,
he said, “had put a _bran new_ wheel upon the carriage, which had turned
out to be an _old_ one, and had broken to pieces. It must be the devil,”
continued he, “that changed it. Bad luck to you, Michael the waiter, any
how! He’s nothin else but a treacherous blackguard, plaze your honour!”

We had to march through the snow to a wretched cottage, and sit up all
night in the chimney corner, covered with ashes and smoke, and in
company with one of the travelling fools who are admitted and welcomed
for _good luck_ in every cabin, whilst a genuine _new wheel_ was got
ready for the morning.

The Irish peasant, also, never, if he can avoid it, answers any question
_directly_: in some districts, if you ask where such a gentleman’s house
is, he will point and reply, “Does your honour see that large house
there, all amongst the trees, with a green field before it?”—You answer,
“Yes.” “Well,” says he, “plaze your honour that’s _not it_. But do you
see the big brick house, with the cow-houses by the side of that same,
and a pond of water?—you can’t see the ducks, becaze they are always
diving, plaze your honour.”


“Well, your honour, _that’s_ not it. But, if you plaze, look quite to
the right of that same house, and you’ll see the top of a castle amongst
the trees there, with a road going down to it betune the bushes,—and a
damn’d bad road, too, for either a beast or his master!”


“Well, plaze your honour, _that’s not it_ neither—but if your honour
will come down this bit of a road a couple of miles, I’ll show it you
_sure enough_—and if your honour’s in a hurry, I can run on _hot
foot_,[36] and tell the squire your honour’s _galloping after_ me. Ah!
who shall I tell the squire, plaze your honour, is coming to see
him?—he’s my own landlord, God save his honour day and night!”


Footnote 36:

  A figurative expression for “with all possible _speed_”—used by the
  Irish peasants: by taking short cuts, and fairly hopping along, a
  young peasant would beat any good traveller.


Their superstitions are very whimsical. On returning from the election
of Mayo, I asked a fellow who was trotting away by the side of the
carriage, and every now and then giving a long hop, to show us his
agility—(twisting his shillelah over his head like a whirligig)—“if he
was going far that night.”

“Ough! no, no, plaze your honour; it is me that would not go far in this
country, these times, after sunset—oh, no, no!”

Fancying he alluded to robbers, I did not feel comfortable:—“And pray,
friend,” said I, “why not?”

“I’ll tell your honour that:—becaze, plaze your honour, all the ould
people say that the devil comes out of Castlebar after sun-down, to look
for prey, from the day the Virgin was delivered till Candlemas eve, and
all the priests can’t do nothing against him in this quarter. But he’s
never seen no more the same year till the holly and ivy drive him out of
all the chapels and towns again coming Christmas—and that’s the truth,
and nothing else, plaze your honour’s honour!”

                              IRISH INNS.

Their general character—Objections commonly made to them—Answer
  thereto—Sir Charles Vernon’s mimicry—Moll Harding—Accident nearly of a
  fatal nature to the author.

An Irish inn has been an eternal subject of ridicule to every writer
upon the habits and accommodations of my native country. It is true
that, in the early period of my life, most of the inns in Ireland were
nearly of the same quality—a composition of slovenliness, bad meat,
worse cooking, and few vegetables (save the royal Irish potato); but
with plenty of fine eggs, smoked bacon, often excellent chickens, and
occasionally the hen, as soon as she had done hatching them—if you could
chew her. They generally had capital claret, and plenty of civility in
all its ramifications.[37]


Footnote 37:

  I have visited many small inns, where they never gave a bill, only a
  verbal—“_What your honour pleases!_” I once asked a poor innkeeper in
  Ossory, why he did not make out his bills as other publicans did:—he
  gave me many reasons for not doing so:—“The gentlemen of the country,”
  said he, (“God bless them!) often give us _nothing at all_, and the
  _strange quality_ generally give us _more_ than we’d _ask for_; so
  both ends meet! But,” added he, proceeding to the most decisive reason
  of all, “there is never a _schollard_ in the house—and the
  schoolmaster _drinks_ too much punch, plaze your honour, when Mary
  sends for him, to draw out a bill for us; so we take our chance!”


The poor people did their best to entertain their guests, but did not
understand their trade; and even had it been otherwise, they had neither
furniture, nor money, nor credit, nor cattle, nor _customers_ enough to
keep things going well together. There were then no post-horses nor
carriages,—consequently, very little travelling in Ireland; and if there
had been, the ruts and holes would have rendered thirty miles a-day a
good journey. Yet I verily believe, on the whole, that the people in
general were happier, at least they appeared vastly more contented, than
at present. I certainly never met with so bad a thing in Ireland as the
“Red Cow” in _John Bull_: for whatever might have been its quality,
there was plenty of something or other always to be had at the inns to
assuage hunger and thirst.

The best description I ever recollect to have heard of an Irish inn, its
incidents and appurtenances, was in a sort of medley sung and spoken by
the present Sir Charles Vernon, when he had some place in the Lord
Lieutenant’s establishment at Dublin Castle: it was delivered by him to
amuse the company after supper, and was an excellent piece of mimicry.
He took off ducks, geese, pigs, chickens, cattle-drivers, the cook and
the landlady, the guests, &c., to the greatest possible perfection.

One anecdote respecting an Irish inn may, with modifications, give some
idea of others at that period. A Mrs. Moll Harding kept the _natest_ inn
at Ballyroan, close to my father’s house. I recollect to have heard a
passenger (they were very scarce there) telling her, “that his sheets
had not been aired.” With great civility Moll Harding begged his
honour’s pardon, and said,—“they certainly were, and _must_ have been
_well_ aired, for there was not a gentleman came to the house the _last
fortnight_ that had not slept in them!”

Another incident which occurred in an Irish inn is, for very good
reasons, much more firmly impressed on my recollection, and may give a
hint worth having to some curious travellers in their peregrinations to
Kerry, Killarney, &c.

The present Earl Farnham had a most beautiful demesne at a village
called Newtown Barry, County Wexford. It is a choice spot, and his
Lordship resided in a very small house in the village. He was always so
obliging as to make me dine with him on my circuit journey, and I slept
at the little inn—in those days a very poor-looking one indeed—but not

The day of my arrival was, on one occasion, wet, so that to proceed was
impossible, and a very large assemblage of barristers were necessitated
to put up with any accommodation they could get. I was sure of a good
dinner; but every bed was engaged. I dined with Lord F., took my wine
merrily, and adjourned to the inn, determined to sit up all night at the
kitchen fire. I found every one of my brethren in bed; the maid-servant
full of good liquor; and the man and woman of the house quite as
joyously provided for. The landlady declared, she could not think of
permitting _my honour_ to sit up; and if I would accept of their little
snug cupboard-bed by the fire-side, I should be as warm and comfortable
as my heart could wish, and heartily welcome too. This arrangement I
thought a most agreeable one: the bed was let down from the niche into
which it had been folded up, and, in a few minutes, I was in a
comfortable slumber.

My first sensation in the morning was, however, one which it is not in
my power to describe now, because I could not do so five minutes after
it was over;—suffice it to say, I found myself in a state of
suffocation, with my head down and my feet upward! I had neither time
nor power for reflection:—I attempted to cry out, but that was
impossible;—the agonies of death, I suppose, were coming on me, and some
convulsive effort gave me a supernatural strength that probably saved me
from a most whimsical and inglorious departure. On a sudden I felt my
position change; and with a crash sounding to me like thunder, down the
bed and I came upon the floor.—I then felt that I had the power of a
little articulation, and cried out “murder!” with as much vehemence as I
was able. The man, woman, and maid, by this time all tolerably sober,
came running into the room together. The landlady made no inquiry, but
joined me in crying out murder in her loudest key: the maid alone knew
the cause of my disaster, and ran as fast as she could for the
apothecary. I had, however, recovered after large draughts of water, and
obtained sense enough to guess at my situation.

The maid, having been thoroughly moistened when I went to bed, on
awakening just at break of day, began to set matters to rights, and
perceiving her master and mistress already up, had totally forgotten the
counsellor! and having stronger arms of her own than any barrister of
the home circuit, in order to clear the kitchen, had hoisted up the bed
into its proper niche, and turned the button at the top that kept it in
its place: in consequence of which, down went my head and up went my
heels! Now, as air is an article indispensably necessary to existence
(and there was none under the bed-clothes), death would very soon have
ended the argument, had not my violent struggles caused the button to
give way, and so brought me once more from among the Antipodes.—The poor
woman was as much alarmed as I was!

I felt no inconvenience afterward. But what has happened once may chance
to occur again; and I only wonder that the same accident does not
frequently take place among this kind of people and of beds.

                       FATAL DUEL OF MY BROTHER.

Duel of my brother William Barrington with Mr. M‘Kenzie—He is killed by
  his antagonist’s second, General Gillespie—The general’s
  character—Tried for murder—Judge Bradstreet’s charge—Extraordinary
  incidents of the trial—The jury arranged—The high sheriff (Mr. Lyons)
  challenged by mistake—His hair cut off by Henry French
  Barrington—Exhibited in the ball-room—The Curl Club formed—The sheriff
  quits the country, and never returns—Gillespie goes to India—Killed
  there—Observations on his cenotaph in Westminster Abbey.

As the circumstances attending the death of my younger brother, William
Barrington, by the hand of the celebrated General Gillespie, (whom
government has honoured with a monument in Westminster Abbey,) have been
variously detailed, (seldom, indeed, twice the same way,) I think it
right to take this opportunity of stating the _facts_ of that most
melancholy transaction. I will do so as concisely as may be, and as
dispassionately as what I consider the murder of a beloved brother will

William Barrington had passed his twentieth year, and had intended,
without delay, to embrace the military profession. He was active,
lively, full of spirit and of animal courage;—his predominant traits
were excessive good-nature, and a most zealous attachment to the honour
and individuals of his family.

Gillespie, then captain in a cavalry regiment, had shortly before the
period in question married a Miss Taylor, an intimate friend of ours,
and was quartered in Athy, where my mother resided.

A very close and daily intercourse sprang up between the families. After
dinner, one day, at Gillespie’s house, when every gentleman had taken
more wine than was prudent, a dispute arose between my brother and a Mr.
M‘Kenzie, lieutenant in an infantry regiment, quartered at the same
place. This dispute never should have been suffered to arise; and, as it
was totally private, should, at least, never have proceeded further. But
no attempt was made either to reconcile or check it, on the part of
Captain Gillespie, although the thing occurred at his own table.—He
never liked my brother.

Gillespie was a very handsome person; but it was not that species of
soldier-like and manly beauty, which bespeaks the union of courage and
generosity. He had a fair and smooth countenance, wherein the tinge of
reckless impetuosity appeared to betray his prevailing character. His,
however, was not the rapid flow of transitory anger, which, rushing
ingenuously from the heart, is instantly suppressed by reason and
repentance:—I admire that temper; it never inhabits the same mind with
treachery or malice. On the contrary, a livid paleness overspread the
plethoric countenance of Gillespie upon the slightest ruffle of his
humour:—the vulgar call such, “_white-livered persons_:” they are no
favourites with the world in general; and I have never, throughout the
course of a long life, observed any man so constituted possessing a list
of virtues.

I never could bear Gillespie! I had an _instinctive_ dislike to him,
which I strove, in vain, to conquer. I always considered him to be a
dangerous man—an impetuous, unsafe, companion—capable of any thing in
his anger. I know I ought not to speak with prejudice; yet, alas! if I
do, who can blame me?

A cenotaph, voted by the British Parliament, has raised his fame:—but it
is the fame of a _sabreur_—erected on piles of slaughter, and cemented
by the blood of Indians. No tale of social virtues appears to enrich the
cornice of his monument. I wish there had! it would at least have
indicated repentance.

To return to my story.—Midway between Athy and Carlow was agreed on for
a meeting. I resided in Dublin, and was ignorant of the transaction till
too late. A crowd, as usual in Ireland, attended the combat; several
gentlemen, and some relatives of mine, were, I regret to say, present.
In a small verdant field, on the bank of the Barrow, my brother and
M‘Kenzie were placed. Gillespie, who had been considered as the friend
and intimate of my family, _volunteered_ as second to M‘Kenzie, (a
comparative stranger,) who was in no way adverse to an amicable
arrangement. Gillespie, however, would hear of none; the honour of a
military man, he said, must be satisfied, and nothing but _blood_, or at
least every effort to draw it, could form that satisfaction.

The combatants fired and missed:—they fired again; no mischief was the
consequence. A reconciliation was now proposed, but objected to by
Gillespie:—and will it be believed that, in a civilised country, when
both combatants were satisfied, one of the principals should be
instantly slain by a _second_? Yet such was the case: my brother stood
_two_ fires from his opponent, and after professing his readiness to be
reconciled, was shot dead by the hand of his opponent’s second.

Gillespie himself is now departed: he died by the same death that he had
inflicted. But he was more favoured by Providence;—he died the death of
a soldier;—he fell by the hand of the enemy, not by the weapon of an

William was my very beloved brother. The news soon reached me in Dublin.
I could not, or rather, I durst not, give utterance to the nature and
excess of my feelings on the communication. Thus much I will admit—that
_sorrow_ had the least share in those thoughts which predominated. A
passion not naturally mine absorbed every other:—my determination was
fixed: I immediately set out post; but my brother had been interred
prior to my arrival; and Gillespie, the sole object of my vengeance, had
fled, nor was his retreat to be discovered. I lost no time in procuring
a warrant for murder against him from Mr. Ryan, a magistrate. I sought
him in every place to which I could attach suspicion; day and night my
pursuit was continued, but, as it pleased God, in vain. I was not,
indeed, in a fit state for such a rencontre; for had we met, he or I
would surely have perished.

I returned to Dublin, and, as my mind grew cooler, thanked Heaven that I
had not personally found him. I, however, published advertisements
widely, offering a reward for his apprehension; and at length he
surrendered into the prison of Maryborough, to take his trial.

The assizes approached; and I cannot give the sequel of this melancholy
story better than by a short recital of Gillespie’s extraordinary trial,
and the still more extraordinary incidents which terminated the

The judges arrived at the assize town, (it was during the summer assizes
of 1788,) accompanied in the usual way by the high sheriff, (Mr. Lyons,
of Watercastle,) and escorted by numerous bailiffs and a grand
cavalcade. Mr. Lyons was a gentleman of taste and elegance, who had
travelled much, but very seldom came to Ireland: he possessed a small
fortune and a beautiful cottage _ornée_, on the banks of the Nore, near
Lord De Vesci’s. Mr. Thomas Kemmis (afterward crown solicitor of
Ireland, and a sincere friend of mine,) was the attorney very
judiciously selected by Captain Gillespie to conduct his defence.

The mode of choosing juries in criminal cases is well known to every
lawyer, and its description would be uninteresting to an ordinary
reader. Suffice it to say, that by the methods then used of selecting,
arranging, and summoning the panel, a sheriff, or sub-sheriff, in good
understanding with a prisoner, might afford him very considerable, if
not decisive, aid. And when it is considered that juries must be
unanimous, even one dissentient or obstinate juror being capable of
effectually preventing any conviction,—and further, that the charge we
are alluding to was that of murder or homicide, occurring in consequence
of a duel, on the same ground and at the same time,—it might fairly be
expected that the culprit would stand a chance of acquittal from
military men, who, accustomed to duelling, and living in a country where
affairs of that kind were then more frequent than in any other, might be
inclined to regard the circumstance more indulgently than a jury of mere

To select, by management, a _military_ jury, was therefore the natural
object of the prisoner and his friends; and, in fact, the list appeared
with a number of half-pay officers at the head of it, who, as gentlemen,
were naturally pained by seeing a brother-officer and a man of most
prepossessing appearance, in the dock for murder. The two prisoners
(Gillespie and M‘Kenzie) challenged forty-eight; the list was expended,
and the prosecutor was driven back to show cause why he objected to the
first thirteen. No _legal_ ground for such objection could be supported;
and thus, out of twelve jurors, no less than ten were military officers!
The present Lord Downs and the late Judge Fletcher were the prisoner’s

On this, perhaps, the most interesting trial ever known in that county,
numerous witnesses having been examined, the principal facts proved for
the prosecution were:—that after M‘Kenzie and my brother had fired four
shots without effect, the latter said he hoped enough had been done for
both their honours, at the same time holding out his hand to
M‘Kenzie,—whose second, Captain Gillespie, exclaimed, that his friend
_should not_ be satisfied, and that the affair should proceed. The
spectators combined in considering it concluded, and a small circle
having been formed, my brother, who persisted in uttering his pacific
wishes, interposed some harsh expressions toward Gillespie, who
thereupon losing all control over his temper, suddenly threw a
handkerchief to William Barrington, asking if he dared take a corner of
that!—The unfortunate boy, full of spirit and intrepidity, snatched at
the handkerchief, and at the same moment received a ball from Gillespie
through his body;—so close were they together, that his coat appeared
scorched by the powder. He fell, and was carried to a cabin hard by,
where he expired in great agony the same evening. As he was in the act
of falling, his pistol went off. Gillespie immediately fled, and was
followed by three of his own dragoons, whom he had brought with him, and
who were present at the transaction, but whom he declined examining on
the trial. The spectators were very numerous, and scarcely a dry eye
left the field.

Capt. Gillespie’s defence rested upon an assertion on his part of
irritating expressions having been used by my brother, adding that the
cock of his own pistol was knocked off by my brother’s fire. But that
very fact proved every thing against him; because his shot _must_ have
been fired and have taken effect in my brother’s body previously; for if
the cock had been broken in the first place, Gillespie’s pistol could
not have gone off. In truth, the whole circumstance of a second killing
a principal because he desired reconciliation was, and remains, totally
unexampled in the history of duelling even in the most barbarous eras
and countries.

Judge Bradstreet, who tried the prisoners, held it to be clearly murder
by law. A verdict of even manslaughter must (he contended) be returned
by a forced or rather false construction;—but _acquit_ him (Gillespie)
generally, the jury could not.

The prosecution was not followed up against M‘Kenzie, whose conduct
throughout had been that of an officer and a gentleman, and who had
likewise desired reconciliation. Of course he was acquitted.

The jury had much difficulty in making up their verdict. Some of them,
being men of considerable reputation, hesitated long. They could not
acquit; they _would_ not convict;—and hence a course was taken which
corresponded neither with the law nor the evidence. A verdict of
“_justifiable homicide_” was returned, in consequence of which Capt.
Gillespie was discharged on his recognizance to appear in the court of
King’s Bench the ensuing term, and plead his Majesty’s pardon.

Thus was compromised the justice of the country. Thus commenced the
brilliant career of that general whom the munificence of the British
nation has immortalised by a monument amongst her heroes!—Thus did the
blood of one of the finest youths of Ireland first whet Gillespie’s
appetite for that course of glorious butchery to which he owed his
subsequent elevation. But conscience is retributive, and Heaven is just.
I hear that he was never happy after:—intrepid to excess, he often
tempted fate; and his restless and remorseless existence was at length
terminated by a Gentoo in India.

The circumstances attending General Gillespie’s death are remarkable,
and manifest, in my opinion, desperation rather than real bravery. He
had, contrary to instructions, attempted to storm:—his fire was
inadequate—his troops repulsed:—new attempts were made, but again
unsuccessfully, numerous brave men being sacrificed to no purpose. Still
the general persisted;—even the guard was taken from the paymaster, who
had treasure under his care.—Gillespie was aware that he had disobeyed
instructions, and was determined to succeed or perish in the attempt. He
damned the paymaster, who remonstrated against being left
unprotected—looked for a moment at the storming party through his
glass,—and seeing his men falling fast, he drew his sword, called upon
every soldier to follow him, and in five minutes received several balls,
which ended his cares and existence. _Requiescat in pace!_—but never
will I set my foot in Westminster Abbey.

Scarcely was the melancholy trial referred to over, when the case was
succeeded by another almost in the opposite extreme—altogether too
ludicrous, indeed, to form the termination of so serious a business, but
at the same time too extraordinary and too public to be omitted. It was
certainly, in its way, as unparalleled an affair as that which gave rise
to it.

On the evening of the trial, my second brother, Henry French
Barrington,—a gentleman of considerable estate, and whose perfect good
temper, but intrepid and irresistible impetuosity when assailed, were
well known—the latter quality having been severely felt in the county
before,—came to me. He was, in fact, a complete country gentleman,
utterly ignorant of the law, its terms and proceedings; and as I was the
first of my family who had ever followed any profession (the army
excepted), my opinion, so soon as I became a counsellor, was considered
by him as oracular: indeed, questions far beyond mine, and sometimes
beyond the power of any person existing, to solve, were frequently
submitted for my decision by our neighbours in the country.

Having called me aside out of the bar-room, my brother seemed greatly
agitated, and informed me that a friend of ours, who had seen the
jury-list, declared that it had been decidedly _packed_!—concluding his
appeal by asking me what he ought to do? I told him, we should have
“challenged the array.”—“That was my own opinion, Jonah,” said he, “and
I will do it now!” adding an oath, and expressing a degree of animation
which I could not account for. I apprised him that it was now too late,
as it should have been done before the trial.

He said no more, but departed instantly, and I did not think again upon
the subject. An hour after, however, my brother sent in a second request
to see me. I found him, to all appearance, quite cool and tranquil. “I
have done it, by G-d!—(cried he, exultingly)—’twas better late than
never!” and immediately he produced from his coat-pocket a long queue
and a handful of powdered hair and curls. “See here!” continued he, “the
cowardly rascal!”

“Heavens!” cried I, “French, are you mad?”

“Mad!” replied he, “no, no! I followed your own advice exactly. I went
directly after I left you to the grand-jury room to ‘_challenge the
array_,’ and there I challenged the _head_ of the array, that cowardly
Lyons!—He peremptorily refused to fight me; so I knocked him down before
the grand-jury, and cut off his curls and tail!—See, here they are,—the
rascal! and my brother Jack is gone to flog the sub-sheriff!”

I was thunderstruck, and almost thought my brother was _crazy_, since he
was obviously not _in liquor_ at all. But after some inquiry, I found
that, like many other country gentlemen, he took words in their
commonest acceptation. He had seen the high sheriff coming in with a
great “_array_,” and had thus conceived my suggestion as to challenging
the array was literal; and accordingly, repairing to the grand-jury
dining-room, had called the high sheriff aside, told him he had omitted
challenging him before the trial, as he ought to have done according to
advice of counsel; but that it was better late than never, and that he
must immediately come out and fight him. Mr. Lyons conceiving my brother
to be intoxicated, drew back, and refused the invitation in a most
peremptory manner. French then collared him, tripped up his heels, and
putting his foot on his breast, cut off his side-curls and queue with a
carving-knife which an old waiter named Spedding (who had been my
father’s butler, and liked the thing,) had readily brought him from the
dinner-table. Having secured his spoils, my brother immediately came off
in triumph to relate to me his achievement.

Mr. Lyons was a remarkably fine, handsome man; and, having lived very
much abroad, was by no means acquainted with the humours of Irish
country gentlemen, with whom he had associated but little, and by whom
he was not at all liked; and this his first reception must have rather
surprised him.

Mr. Flood, one of the grand-jury, afterward informed me, that no human
gravity could possibly withstand the astonishment and ludicrous figure
of the mutilated high sheriff; the laugh, consequently, was both loud
and long. Nobody chose to interfere in the concern; and as Mr. Lyons had
sustained no bodily injury, he received very little condolement amongst
the country gentlemen, and immediately withdrew.

My situation in this curious _dénouement_ was truly to be commiserated,
since I should be considered as the adviser of my brother; and I
therefore determined to consult Mr. Downs, (Gillespie’s counsel) as to
what was best to be done in the matter.

Mr. (afterward Lord) Downs, always proud, icy, and decorous, seemed to
think my brother’s case irremediable, and that a couple of years’
imprisonment and a heavy fine, at least, must be the necessary result of
such a trimming of a high sheriff in the face of a county—advising
French, at the same time, to fly and make terms if possible. “Fly!” said
French Barrington, when I informed him of the suggestion; “no, no! tell
Counsellor _Thingumbob_ to go to the ball to-night, and he’ll see more
of the matter.” In fact, my brother went to the ball-room when it was
crowded, and having tied the sheriff’s curls and queue to a lamp which
hung in the centre of the room, got upon a form, and made a loud
proclamation of the whole transaction from first to last. A sort of
sympathetic feeling caught the young men in the room, many of whom were
my brother’s companions: they immediately led out their partners, and
formed a circle-dance (as about a May-pole) around the sheriff’s spoils,
which were sticking to the lamp. The remonstrances of mothers, and other
discreet efforts, were totally vain:—the girls liked the fun, and a
succession of different sets did honour in turn to Mr. Lyons’ late queue
and curls. A club was subsequently proposed, to be called the _Curl
Club_, and to be held every summer assize; and this was for several
years kept up.

The ensuing morning my brother dressed up the bridle of his hunter with
the curls and queue, newly powdered by Mr. Robert Casey; and having
paraded the streets for a considerable time (avoiding the judge’s
residence), he rode home; and was never called to account or molested on
the subject in any way whatsoever.

Mr. Lyons left the country almost immediately, went back to the
Continent, and never after, at least to my knowledge, returned.

The matter, however, having been justly represented in a serious light
to the judge, he sent for me, and I related the entire truth. He had
been much dissatisfied with the verdict, and had received strong hints
as to the arrangement of the jury: he could not restrain a smile, but
said he must, if required, give permission to a magistrate to take
examinations against Mr. Barrington. He, however, declined all personal
interference on circuit; desiring Mr. Lyons to apply to the King’s
Bench, where no doubt he would be duly attended to, according to the
merits of the case. But no examinations whatever were taken; nor was any
application made to the King’s Bench. It could not have been made
without involving the question as to the way in which the jury was
constituted; and since that matter would not bear sifting, the
circumstances were suffered to remain without further investigation.

                       ENTRANCE INTO PARLIAMENT.

My first entrance into the Irish House of Commons—Dinner at Sir John
  Parnell’s—Commencement of my intimacy with public men of
  celebrity—Maiden speech—I attack Grattan and Curran—Suicide of Mr.
  Thoroton—Lord De Blacquiere—His character.

The day on which I first took my seat in the Irish Parliament for the
city of Tuam I still reflect on as one of the most gratifying of my
life. The circumstance, abstractedly, was but of secondary
consideration; but its occurrence brought back to my mind the events of
past ages, and the high respectability of the race from which I sprang.
My imagination was excited, and led me almost to fancy that I could see
my forefathers ranged upon those seats which they had so long and so
honourably occupied in the senate of their country, welcoming their
descendant to that post which had not for a few years past been filled
by any member of the family. In fact, the purer part of my ambition was
hereby gratified. I felt myself an entirely independent representative
of an equally independent nation—as a man assuming his proper station in
society, not acquiring a new one.

I confess I always had, and still continue to have, and to nourish, the
pride which arises from having been born a gentleman. I am aware that
wealth, and commerce, and perhaps talent, have, in modern times,
occasioned family pride to be classed in the rank of follies; but I feel
it, nevertheless, most strongly:—and if it be even a crime, I am
culpable; if a folly, I submit to be regarded as imbecile. The
sensations I experienced were indeed altogether delightful upon finding
myself seated under that grand and solemn dome:—I looked around me, and
saw the most dignified men of that day,—the ablest orators of
Europe,—many of the best-bred courtiers, and some of the most
unsophisticated patriots in the empire! These, including a few friends
and intimates of my family, were mingled, here and there, in amicable
groups, and by turns kindly encouraged a young barrister, of only two
years’ practice, without patronage or party, as a fair independent
aspirant to rank and eminence.[38]


Footnote 38:

  Perhaps this may be considered rather too egotistical and highly
  coloured; but I must observe that at that time the importance of a
  member of the Irish Parliament was much greater in his country, than
  that of an English member at present in _his_. The Irish parliament
  was formerly almost wholly composed of gentlemen of family and high
  respectability: there was neither an attorney nor a usurer in it; on
  the contrary, there were no two professions in the world to which the
  Irish gentlemen had so great an aversion; to the one from
  _experience_, the other from _anticipation_.


I was greatly moved and excited: but it was not excitement of an
ephemeral or feverish character; on the contrary, my emotions had their
source in a tranquil, deep-seated, perhaps proud, satisfaction,
impossible to be clearly described, and almost impossible to be felt by
any but such as might be placed in circumstances precisely similar.

There were some members present, I have already said, with whom I was
personally acquainted. My friend, Sir John Parnell—partly, I am sure, on
my account, and partly, no doubt, with a view to the service of
government, lost no time in introducing me to many of his own particular

I dined with him on that day: he was then chancellor of the exchequer.
The entire party I do not recollect; but I remember perfectly those
individuals of it with whom I subsequently cultivated acquaintance.
Among them were Major Hobart (since Lord Buckinghamshire), Isaac Corry,
Sir John (since Lord) De Blacquiere, Robert Thoroton, Marcus Beresford
(Lord Clare’s nephew), the present Lord Oriel (then Speaker), Thomas
Burgh, of Bert, Sir Hercules Langreish, and James Cuffe (since Lord
Tyrawley). The scene was new to me:—hitherto, my society in Dublin had
naturally fallen among the members of my own profession; we were all
barristers, and I felt myself but a barrister: and though certainly we
formed at that time the second-best society in Ireland, it was inferior
to that of which I had now become a member. I found myself, in fact,
associated as an equal with a circle of legislators whose good-breeding,
wit, and conviviality were mingled with political and general
information. I was in my element:—the first steps of the ladder were
mounted; and as meanwhile Sir John’s champaign was excellent, and
quickly passed round, my spirits rose to a pitch far higher than in the
morning, and any talent for conversation or anecdote which I might
possess involuntarily coming out, Sir John Parnell, shaking his fat
sides with laughter, according to his usual custom, said to me, before
we broke up, “Barrington, you’ll do!” upon which, Sir Hercules
Langreish, who had very much the tone of a Methodist preacher, yet was
one of the wittiest men in Ireland, immediately said,—“No: we must have
another trial;” and a day was fixed to dine with him.

My acquaintance soon augmented to a degree almost inconvenient. My
_friendship_ I limited to such men as I held to possess congeniality of
sentiment; and before any long time had elapsed, I was not only the
frequent guest of many of the distinguished characters of Ireland, but
was considered as an early and favoured candidate for any professional
promotion which the shortness of my standing at the bar would admit of.

Reflecting, soon after I had taken my seat, on the novel nature of my
situation, I felt that it was beset by considerable difficulties. I
allude to the decision necessary for me to come to with respect to the
line of politics I meant to pursue. I was not a _new_ man, by whom any
course might be taken, without exciting comment or question. On the
contrary, I was of an old family, the importance and influence of which
I was desirous to revive in that house, and hence it became requisite
that I should weigh my actions well, and avoid precipitancy.

Political parties at that time ran high, though but little individual
hostility existed. Grattan, the two Ponsonbys, Curran, Brownlow, Forbes,
Bowes, Daly, Connolly, Arthur Brown, and numerous other most respectable
personages were then linked together in a phalanx of opposition which,
under the name of Whiggery, not only assailed the government upon every
feasible occasion, but was always proposing measures which, under the
then existing system, were utterly inadmissible. The opposition had the
advantage in point of ability, and, therefore, nothing but supreme
talent had any chance, among them, of rendering its possessor useful or
valued. Though my nature was patriotic, I ever respected the
aristocracy, which, while the democracy exhibits a people’s general
character and energy, tends to embellish the state, and to give it an
imposing grandeur.

The supporters of the Irish government, as I have said, were certainly
inferior, except in patronage and power, to the opposition by which they
were assailed. But they lived socially: there was a sort of convivial
union among them, which, whether in high or low life, is, of all other
ties, for awhile most binding upon my countrymen. It was therefore
rather inconsistent in Lord Clare to give offence, as he did, to many of
the most respectable gentlemen of Ireland by calling the Whigs an
“eating and drinking club,”[39] since the sarcasm might, at least with
equal justice, have been retorted on the supporters of His Majesty’s
government. All the great constitutional questions were, in 1790,
supposed to have been arranged. Still the opposition sought a more
radical reform, to which the government would not accede. They wrangled,
in fact, about every trifle—and that at a time when the local concerns
of the country were advancing to the highest pitch of prosperity. To
neither party, however, attached any dishonourable stigma, which should
prevent an honest man from joining their ranks; and meanwhile, I sought
celebrity and advancement. The coast was clear before me. I was my own
master, and free to choose my own course. In case of my connecting
myself with the Whigs, I saw that I must play but a very inferior part
in their game. I felt that amidst such an assemblage of talent I had but
little right to expect eminence, and still less probability of acquiring
professional advancement, even if my friends should become victorious.
But, above all, I reflected that what at first view had appeared to me a
blaze of constitutional _patriotism_, dwindled, on a closer inspection,
into what is generally called _party_.


Footnote 39:

  What they called in Ireland _mahogany_ acquaintances.


The country had prospered beyond all possible anticipation, and was
still further advancing in prosperity, under the then existing system of
administration. I did not perceive that any immediate change of men or
measures was at all in prospect, nor that it was at that moment
necessary, or even desirable. My immediate personal connexions were on
the side of the government. I had always doubted the sincerity of the
Whigs: my doubts were now realised, and, on the whole consideration, I
determined to attach myself to the administration. I had previously
voted with them on the choice of a Speaker; but that I did not consider
as constituting any pledge as to my future conduct. I voted for Mr.
Forster, as the friend of Sir John Parnell, and because I considered him
more fitting for the station than his opponent, Mr. William Ponsonby.

Thus, my mind being at length made up, I determined to render myself of
some importance to the side I had adopted. The common course of
desultory debate (even conquest over declaimers of my own calibre) would
have led to no distinction. I decided either to rise or fall; and with
this view, resolved to fly at once at the highest game, in which attempt
even if I should not succeed, the trial itself would be honourable. My
earliest effort was therefore directed against the two most celebrated
speakers of that period, Grattan and Curran; and on the first day I rose
I exhibited a specimen of what I may now call true arrogance. The
novelty of such unexpected effrontery surprised the House, and afterward
surprised myself. It was a species of bold hardihood, which, I believe,
no person who had a just sense of his own inferiority would have
ventured on without great hesitation. I launched into a strong philippic
on the conduct of the most able and respectable opposition that Ireland
had ever possessed. I followed and traced the Whigs, as I thought,
through all their meanderings and designs. In a word, I surpassed the
boundaries, not only of what I had myself resolved, but of what common
prudence and propriety should have dictated. The government party, at
the same time, was evidently not gratified. Its members, no doubt,
considered me as a lost partizan, who had courted and called for my own
suppression; and with some portion of the same feeling myself, I sat
down almost ashamed of my forwardness, and awaiting, if not with
resignation, at least with certainty, a just although cruel
chastisement. How then must I have been surprised, and how wofully
rebuked, by the mild and gentlemanly retorts which I received from
Grattan! whilst Curran’s good temper never showed itself more
conspicuously than in his treating me merely with wit and facetiousness.
I was abashed and mortified on contrasting the forbearance of those
great men with my own intemperance. Had I perceived any thing like
contempt in that forbearance, I really believe I should have found it
difficult to resume my spirits in the House; but no such feeling
appeared toward me; and it is most singular to say, that some incidents
which sprang from that very night’s debate gave rise both to the
friendship of Mr. Grattan,[40] with which I was afterward honoured, and
to the close intimacy between me and Mr. Curran, which was never after


Footnote 40:

  Though my actual intimacy with, and friendship for, Mr. Grattan, did
  not mature at a _very_ early period, his conduct that night proved to
  me the nobleness of his nature. I was impetuous, petulant, and
  altogether too inexperienced for a debater. Mr. Cuffe, after I had put
  forth something improperly warm as to Mr. Grattan, said to him, “Why
  don’t you put down that chap at once? a single sentence of yours would
  silence him completely.”—“No, no, no!” said Grattan, “we are not at
  all on a fair level. I could do him a great deal of mischief; he can
  do me none. _My_ name is made; _he_ is trying to make one, too: he’s a
  bold boy, but I don’t think he is a bad one.”


I had the good fortune, on that occasion, to make one fair hit as to
Grattan, which he afterward told me he was much pleased with. It came
across me at the moment:—in fact, most of the speeches I ever made have
been literally _impromptu_. I never studied a speech in my life, except
on law cases; and perhaps to this circumstance I may honestly attribute
an incorrectness of language that frequently attended my best efforts.

Grattan had repeatedly assailed our side of the house, as “a side from
which all public virtue had long been banished.” I observed, “that the
right honourable gentleman had proved unequivocally the falsehood of his
own assertion, that public virtue was confined to _one_ side of the
house; for I had had the honour of seeing the right honourable gentleman
himself on _both_!” I alluded to his having supported government against
Mr. Flood, after the vote of 50,000_l._ by parliament. This joke was
loudly cheered, and perhaps somewhat contributed to save me from

From that day I attached myself zealously and sincerely to the
administration of Lord Westmoreland. I became more or less intimate with
almost every member of my party in parliament. I formed close and
lasting friendships with Edward Cooke, the unfortunate and lamented
Robert Thoroton, Isaac Corry, and Sir John De Blacquiere; and it was not
very long before the opposition also opened their convivial ranks to
receive me. Curran and Arthur Brown were the earliest of my intimates on
that side the house; and before 1792 had expired, I felt myself as happy
on all points, and as much befriended, as any man of my standing who had
preceded me.

Before I went into parliament, I had become acquainted with Mr. R.
Thoroton, who had come over to Ireland with the Duke of Rutland. He had
the manner of a coxcomb, but the heart of a friend, and the sentiments
of a gentleman. He was clerk of the House of Commons; and being by no
means a common man, formed a necessary part of all our societies. He and
I lived much together: and I found the intercourse very advantageous,
since my friend knew every thing that was going forward, and, under the
rose, set me right on many occasions. At the same time, I was aware that
circumstances existed which were the cause, to him, of great anxiety;
and, finally, a most unexpected event,—namely, the death of Mr. Thoroton
by his own hand,—deprived me of one of the sincerest and most useful
friends I ever possessed.

But among the foremost of all those persons who, from first to last,
endeavoured to do me service, was a man universally esteemed for his
gentlemanly manners, and as universally abused for public jobbing. As to
the latter, it concerned not me; whilst his friendship was of the
greatest advantage.

Sir John (afterward Lord) De Blacquiere (I believe of Swiss descent) had
been colonel of a regiment of heavy cavalry in Ireland; had acted as
secretary of legation in France with Lord Harcourt, and, having
succeeded him there for a short time as minister, came to Ireland with
his lordship as principal secretary, and becoming a permanent resident,
attached himself to that side of politics whence only he could derive
the great object of his exertions,—a revenue sufficiently ample to
enable him to entertain his friends as well, and far more agreeably,
than any other person I had previously met. Nobody ever understood
eating and drinking better than Sir John De Blacquiere; and no man ever
was better seconded in the former respect than he was by his cook, Mrs.
Smith, whom he brought from Paris, after he had been minister there. His
company seldom exceeded ten in number; but so happily was it selected,
that I never yet saw a person rise from his table who did not feel
gratified. Sir John was one of the old school; and with all the playful
good-breeding by which it was distinguished, he had nothing of that
starch pride which, in more recent times, has supplanted conviviality
without making men either wiser, better, or happier.

Sir John certainly was a _pluralist_, enjoying, at one time, the first,
the middle, and the last pension on the Irish civil list. He was
director of the public works in Dublin; and to his _jobbing_ is that
capital indebted for its wide streets, paving, lighting, and convenient
fountains. He made as much as he could of these works, it is true; but
every farthing he acquired in Ireland he expended in it. If his money
came from the public purse, it was distributed to the public benefit: if
he received pensions from the crown, butchers, bakers, and other
tradesmen pocketed every shilling of it. He knew employment to be the
best species of charity. In short, Sir John De Blacquiere was as much
abused, and as much regarded, as any public character of any period.


Anecdote of Tottenham _in his boots_—Interesting trial of the Earl of
  Kingston for murder—Description of the forms used on that occasion.

A very singular custom prevailed in the Irish House of Commons which
never was adopted in England, nor have I ever seen it mentioned in
print. The description of it may be amusing.

On the day whereon the routine business of the budget was to be opened,
for the purpose of voting supplies, the speaker invited the whole of the
members to dinner in the House, in his own and the adjoining chambers.
Several peers were accustomed to mix in the company; and I believe an
equally happy, joyous, and convivial assemblage of legislators never
were seen together. All distinctions as to government or opposition
parties were totally laid aside; harmony, wit, wine, and good-humour
reigning triumphant. The speaker, clerk, chancellor of the exchequer,
and a very few veteran financiers, remained in the House till the
necessary routine was gone through, and then joined their happy
comrades—the party seldom breaking up till midnight.

On the ensuing day the same festivities were repeated; but on the third
day, when the report was to be brought in, and the business discussed in
detail, the scene totally changed;—the convivialists were now
metamorphosed into downright public declamatory enemies, and, ranged on
opposite sides of the House, assailed each other without mercy. Every
questionable item was debated—every proposition deliberately discussed;
and more zealous or assiduous senators could nowhere be found than in
the very members who, during two days, had appeared to commit the whole
funds of the nation to the management of half a dozen arithmeticians.

But all this was consonant to the national character of the individuals.
Set them at table, and no men enjoyed themselves half so much; set them
to business, no men ever worked with more earnestness and effect. A
steady Irishman will do more in an hour, when fairly engaged upon a
matter which he understands, than any other countryman (so far, at
least, as my observation has gone) in two. The persons of whom I am more
immediately speaking were extraordinarily quick and sharp. I am,
however, at the same time, ready to admit that the lower orders of
officials—such, for instance, as mere clerks in the public offices,
exhibited no claim to a participation in the praise I have given their
superiors: they were, on the other hand, frequently confused and
incorrect; and amongst that description of persons I believe there were
then fewer competent men than in most countries.

Another custom in the House gave rise to a very curious anecdote, which
I shall here mention. The members of Parliament formerly attended the
House of Commons in full dress—an arrangement first broken through by
the following circumstance:—

A very important constitutional question was debating between government
and the opposition; a question, by the bye, at which my English readers
will probably feel surprised; namely, “as to the application of a sum of
60,000_l._, then lying _unappropriated_ in the Irish Treasury, being a
balance after paying all debts and demands upon the country or its
establishments.” The numbers seemed to be nearly poised,—although it had
been supposed that the majority would incline to give it to the king,
while the opposition would recommend laying it out upon the country;
when the serjeant-at-arms reported that a member wanted to force into
the House _undressed_, in dirty boots, and splashed up to his shoulders.

The speaker could not oppose custom to privilege, and was necessitated
to admit him. It proved to be Mr. Tottenham, of Ballycurry, County
Wexford, covered with mud, and wearing a pair of huge jack-boots! Having
heard that the question was likely to come on sooner than he expected,
he had (lest he should not be in time) mounted his horse at Ballycurry,
set off in the night, ridden nearly sixty miles up to the
Parliament-house direct, and rushed in, without washing or cleaning
himself, to vote for _the country_. He arrived just at the critical
moment! and critical it was, for the numbers were in truth _equal_, and
his casting vote gave a majority of one to “the country” party.

This anecdote could not die while the Irish Parliament lived; and I
recollect “Tottenham in his boots” remaining, down to a very late
period, a standing toast at certain patriotic Irish tables.

Being on the topic, (and, I confess, to me it is still an interesting
one,) I must remark a singular practical distinction in the rules of the
Irish and English Houses of Commons. In England, the House is cleared of
strangers for every division, and no person is supposed to see or know
in what way the representatives of the people exercise their trust. In
Ireland, on the contrary, the divisions were public, and red and black
lists were immediately published of the voters on every important
occasion. The origin of this distinction I cannot explain, but it must
be owned that the Irish was the most _constitutional_ practice.

One interesting scene at which I was present merits especial
description, on many accounts. No other instance of the kind has
occurred in the British Empire in my time; and as it forms a very
important record with relation to the independent political state of
Ireland at the period, and has not yet been made the subject of any
historical detail or observation, it cannot fail to be interesting in
every point of view:—I allude to the trial of a peer of the realm of
Ireland for murder, by the House of Lords in Dublin, after the
acknowledgment of Irish independence.

The grand and awful solemnity of that trial made a deep impression on my
memory; and, coupled with the recollection that it proclaimed
indisputably the sovereignty of the Irish nation, its effect on a
contemplative mind was of a penetrating nature.

Robert, Earl of Kingston, stood charged with the murder of Colonel
Fitzgerald, by shooting him. The relation of the circumstances of that
event would be, in every point of view, improper, and would only serve
to recall painful recollections long since sunk into oblivion. I
therefore abstain from any further allusion to them. The laws of the
country required the trial of the accused party at the bar of his
peers:—but as no similar case had occurred in Ireland within the memory
of man, it was requisite to consult precedents upon the subject, in
order to render his lordship’s trial conformable to the _Lex
Parliamentaria_ common to both countries. These precedents were
accordingly sought by the proper officers; and as his lordship was very
popular, and his provocation maddening,—and as all were ignorant of the
evidence which was to be brought forward, the whole affair was of a most
exciting nature to every man, more especially to those individuals who
possessed the noble lord’s acquaintance.

Owing to the great number of attendants, the full muster of peers, and
the extensive preparations of every kind necessary in order to adhere to
precedent, the House of Lords was supposed not to be sufficiently large
for the occasion.—The number of peers, in fact, had been more than
doubled since the time it was built.

The Irish House of Peers was considered one of the most beautiful and
commodious chambers possible. It combined every appearance of dignity
and comfort: the walls were covered with tapestry, representing the
battle of the Boyne, and the entire _coup-d’œil_ was grand and
interesting; but being, as I have said, considered too small for all the
purposes of the trial in question, the House of Commons was made ready
in preference.

Whoever had seen the interior of the Irish House of Commons must have
admired it as one of the most chaste and classic models of modern
architecture. A perfect rotunda, with Ionic pilasters, enclosed a
corridor which ran round the interior. The cupola, of immense height,
bestowed a magnificence which could rarely be surpassed; whilst a
gallery, supported by columns, divided into compartments, and
accommodating nearly 700 spectators, commanded an uninterrupted view of
the chamber.

This gallery, on every important debate, was filled, not by reporters,
but by the superior orders of society—the first rows being generally
occupied by ladies of fashion and rank, who diffused a brilliance over,
and excited a polite order and chivalrous decorum in that assembly which
the British House does not appear very sedulously to cultivate.

This fine chamber was now fitted up in such a way as to give it the most
solemn aspect. One compartment of seats in the body of the House was
covered with scarlet cloth, and appropriated to the peeresses and their
daughters, who ranged themselves according to the table of precedence.
The Commons, their families and friends, lined the galleries: the whole
house was superbly carpeted, and the speaker’s chair newly adorned for
the lord chancellor.—On the whole, it was by far the most impressive and
majestic spectacle ever exhibited within the walls of the Irish

At length the peers entered, according to their rank, in full dress, and
richly robed. Each man took his seat in profound silence; and even the
ladies (which was rather extraordinary) were likewise still. The
chancellor, bearing a white wand, having taken his chair, the most
interesting moment of all was at hand, and its approach really made me

Sir Chichester Fortescue, king-at-arms, in his party-coloured robe,
entered first, carrying the armorial bearings of the accused nobleman
emblazoned on his shield: he placed himself on the left of the bar. Next
entered Lord Kingston himself, in deep mourning, moving with a slow and
melancholy step. His eyes were fixed on the ground; and, walking up to
the bar, he was placed next to the king-at-arms, who then held the
armorial shield on a level with his lordship’s shoulder.

The supposed executioner then approached, bearing a large hatchet with
an immense broad blade. It was painted black except within about two
inches of the edge, which was of bright polished steel. Placing himself
at the bar on the right of the prisoner, he raised the hatchet about as
high as his lordship’s neck, but with the edge averted; and thus he
remained during the whole of the trial. The forms, I understood,
prescribed that the edge should continue averted until the pronouncing
of judgment, when, if it were unfavourable, the blade was instantly to
be turned by the executioner _toward_ the prisoner, indicating at once
his sentence and his fate. The whole scene was extremely affecting.

I could not reconcile my mind to the thought of such a consummation. I
knew the accused party, and had a high regard for him; and hence I felt
a very uneasy sensation, inasmuch as I was profoundly ignorant of what
would be the termination of the awful scrutiny.

The usual legal ceremonies were now entered on:—the charge was read—the
prisoner pleaded not guilty—and the trial proceeded. A proclamation was
made (first generally, then name by name,) for the witnesses for the
prosecution to come forward. It is not easy to describe the anxiety and
suspense excited as each name was called over. The eyes of every body
were directed to the bar where the witnesses must enter, and every
little movement of the persons who thronged it was held to be intended
to make room for some accuser. None, however, appeared—thrice they were
called, but in vain: and it was then announced that “no witnesses
appearing, to substantiate the charge of murder against Robert, Earl of
Kingston, the trial should terminate in the accustomed manner.” The
chancellor proceeded to put the question; and every peer, according to
his rank, arose and deliberately walking by the chair in which the
chancellor was seated, placed his hand as he passed solemnly on his
heart, and repeated, “Not guilty, upon my honour!” (The bishops were,
very properly, precluded from voting in these criminal cases.) After all
had passed, which ceremony occupied an hour, the chancellor rose and
declared the opinion of the Peers of Ireland,—“That Robert, Earl of
Kingston, was not guilty of the charge against him.” His lordship then
broke his wand, descended from his chair, and thus ended the trial—most
interesting because it had at once a strong political and constitutional
bearing, and affected a nobleman universally beloved. The result was
highly satisfactory to every one who had learned the circumstances which
led to the fatal event for which the Earl of Kingston was
arraigned,—whose conduct, though strictly justifiable neither in law nor
morality, might have been adopted by the best of men under similar

This was the first and last trial by the House of Peers in Ireland after
the declaration of Irish independence: and, all other considerations
apart, its record remains as a testimonial of the temporary emancipation
of Ireland from British trammels.

                          THE SEVEN BARONETS.

Sir John Stuart Hamilton—Sir Richard Musgrave—Sir Edward Newnham—Sir
  Vesey Colclough—Sir Frederick Flood—Sir John Blacquiere—Sir Boyle
  Roche, and his curious bulls—Their characters and personal
  description—Anecdotes and bon-mots—Anecdote of the Marquess of

Among those parliamentary gentlemen frequently to be found in the
coffee-room of the House, were certain baronets, of very singular
character, who, until some division called them to vote, passed the
intermediate time in high conviviality. Sir John Stuart Hamilton, a man
of small fortune and large stature, possessing a most liberal appetite
both for solids and fluids—much wit, more humour, and indefatigable
cheerfulness,—might be regarded as their leader.

Sir Richard Musgrave, who (except on the abstract topics of politics,
religion, martial law, his wife, the pope, the pretender, the Jesuits,
Napper Tandy, and the whipping-post,) was generally in his senses,
formed, during those intervals, a very entertaining addition to the
company: he was extremely full of anecdote (given in rather a
rhapsodical vein) about Martin Luther, Tod Jones, Pope Pius, Sir Judkin
Fitzgerald, Doctor Troy, &c.

Sir Edward Newnham, member for Dublin county, afforded a whimsical
variety by his affectation of early and exclusive transatlantic
intelligence. By repeatedly writing letters of congratulation, he had at
length extorted a reply from General Washington, which he exhibited upon
every occasion, giving it to be understood, by significant nods, that he
knew vastly more than he thought proper to communicate to any body.

Sir Vesey Colclough, member for County Wexford, who understood books and
wine better than any of the party, had all his days treated money so
extremely ill, that it would continue no longer in his service! and the
dross (as he termed it) having entirely forsaken him, he _bequeathed_ an
immense landed property, during his _life_, to the uses of custodiums,
elegits, and judgments, which never fail to place a gentleman’s acres
under the especial guardianship of the attorneys. He was father to that
excellent man, John Colclough, who was killed at Wexford, and to the
present Cæsar Colclough, whose fall might have afforded rather less
cause of regret than his brother’s.

Sir Vesey added much to the pleasantry of the party by occasionally
forcing on them deep subjects of literature, of which few of his
companions could make either head or tail: but to avoid the _imputation_
of ignorance, they often gave the most ludicrous _proofs_ of it on
literary subjects, geography, history, and astronomy, with which he
eternally bored them.

Sir Frederick Flood, also member for County Wexford, whose exhibitions
in the Imperial Parliament have made him tolerably well known in
England, was very different in his habits from the last-mentioned
baronet;—his love of _the dross_, and spirit of ostentation, never
losing their hold throughout every action of his life. He was but a
second-rate blunderer in Ireland. The bulls of Sir Boyle Roche (of whom
we shall speak hereafter) commonly involved aphorisms of sound sense,
while Sir Frederick’s (on the other hand) possessed the qualification of
being, in general, pure nonsense.

He was a _pretty_, dapper man, very good-tempered; and had a droll
habit, of which he could never effectually break himself (at least in
Ireland):—whenever a person at his back whispered or suggested any thing
to him while he was speaking in public, without a moment’s reflection he
almost always involuntarily repeated the suggestion _literatim_.

Sir Frederick was once making a long speech in the Irish Parliament,
lauding the transcendent merits of the Wexford magistracy, on a motion
for extending the criminal jurisdiction in that county, to keep down the
disaffected. As he was closing a most turgid oration, by moving “that
the said magistracy ought to receive some signal mark of the lord
lieutenant’s favour,”—John Egan, who was rather mellow, and sitting
behind him, jocularly whispered, “and be whipped at the cart’s
tail:”—“and be whipped at the cart’s tail!” repeated Sir Frederick
unconsciously, amidst peals of the most uncontrollable laughter.—Mr.
Egan then rose, and seconded the motion: this was irresistible. Sir
Frederick’s achievements in the English House of Commons were quite

Sir John Blacquiere flew at higher game than the other baronets, though
he occasionally fell into the trammels of Sir John Hamilton. Sir John
Blacquiere was a little deaf of one ear, for which circumstance he gave
a very singular reason:—his seat, when secretary, was the outside one on
the treasury bench, next to a gangway; and he said that so many members
used to come perpetually to whisper him, and the buzz of importunity was
so heavy and continuous,—that before one claimant’s words had got out of
his ear, the demand of another forced its way in, till the ear-drum,
being overcharged, absolutely burst! which, he said, turned out
conveniently enough, as he was then obliged to stuff the organ tight,
and tell every gentleman that his physician had directed him not to use
_that_ ear at all, and _the other_ as little as possible!

Sir John Stuart Hamilton played him one day, in the corridor of the
House of Commons, a trick which was a source of great entertainment to
all parties. Joseph Hughes, a country farmer and neighbour of Sir John
Stuart Hamilton, who knew nothing of great men, and (in common with many
remote farmers of that period) had very seldom been in Dublin, was hard
pressed to raise some money to pay the fine on a renewal of a bishop’s
lease—his only property.—He came directly to Sir John, who, I believe,
had himself drunk the farmer’s spring pretty dry, whilst he could get
any thing out of it. As they were standing together in one of the
corridors of the Parliament-house, Sir John Blacquiere stopped to say
something to his brother baronet:—his star, which he frequently wore on
rather shabby coats, struck the farmer’s eye, who had never seen such a
thing before; and coupling it with the very black visage of the wearer,
and his peculiar appearance altogether, our rustic was induced humbly to
ask Sir John Hamilton “who that man was with the silver sign on his

“Don’t you know him?” cried Sir John; “why, that is a famous Jew

“May-be, please your honour, he could do my little business for me,”
responded the honest farmer.

“Trial’s all!” said Sir John.

“I’ll pay well,” observed Joseph.

“That’s precisely what he likes,” replied the baronet.

“Pray, Sir John,” continued the farmer, “what’s those words on his
_sign_?” (alluding to the motto on the star.)

“Oh,” answered the other, “they are Latin, ‘_Tria juncta in uno_.’”

“And may I crave the English thereof?” asked the unsuspecting

“_Three_ in a _bond_,” said Sir John.

“Then I can match him, by J—s!” exclaimed Hughes.

“You’ll be hard set,” cried the malicious baronet; “however, you may

Hughes then approaching Blacquiere, who had removed but a very small
space, told him with great civility and a significant nod, that he had a
little matter to mention, which he trusted would be agreeable to both
parties. Blacquiere drew him aside and desired him to proceed. “To come
to the point then, at once,” said Hughes, “the money is not to say a
great deal, and I can give you three in a bond—myself and two good men
as any in Cavan, along with me. I hope that will answer you. _Three_ in
a _bond_! safe good men!”

Sir John Blacquiere, who wanted a supply himself, had the day before
sent to a person who had advertised the lending of money; and, on
hearing the above harangue, (taking for granted that it resulted from
his own application,) he civilly assured Hughes that a bond would be of
no use to him! good bills might be negotiated, or securities turned into
cash, though at a loss; but _bonds_ would not answer at all.

“I think I can get another man, and that’s one more than your _sign_
requires,” said Hughes.

“I tell you,” repeated Sir John, “_bonds_ will not answer at all,
sir!—_bills! bills!_”

“Then it’s fitter,” retorted the incensed farmer, “for you to be after
putting your _sign_ there in your pocket, than wearing it to deceive the
_Christians_, you damn’d usurer! you _Jew_, you!”

Nobody could be more amused by this _dénouement_ than Blacquiere
himself, who told every body he knew, of “Hamilton’s trick upon _the

Sir Richard Musgrave, although he understood _drawing the long bow_ as
well as most people, never patronised it in any other individual. Sir
John Hamilton did not spare the exercise of this accomplishment in
telling a story, one day, in the presence of Sir Richard, who declared
his incredulity rather abruptly, as indeed was his constant manner. Sir
John was much nettled at the mode in which the other dissented, more
particularly as there were some strangers present. He asseverated the
truth on his _word_: Sir Richard, however, repeating his disbelief, Sir
John Hamilton furiously exclaimed—“You say you don’t believe my word?”

“I _can’t_ believe it,” replied Sir Richard.

“Well, then,” said Sir John, “if you won’t believe my _word_, by G—d
I’ll give it you under my _hand_!” clenching at the same moment his
great fist.

The witticism raised a general laugh, in which the parties themselves
joined, and in a moment all was good-humour. But the company condemned
both the offenders—Sir John for _telling_ a lie, and Sir Richard for
_not believing_ it—to the payment of two bottles of hock each.

Whoever the following story may be fathered on, Sir John Hamilton was
certainly its parent. The Duke of Rutland, at one of his levees, being
at a loss (as probably most kings, princes, and viceroys occasionally
are) for something to say to every person he was bound in etiquette to
notice, remarked to Sir John Hamilton that there was “a prospect of an
excellent crop:—the timely rain,” observed the duke, “will bring every
thing above ground.”

“God forbid, your Excellency!” exclaimed the courtier.

His excellency stared, whilst Sir John continued, sighing heavily as he
spoke:—“yes, God forbid! for I have got _three wives_ under it!”

At one of those large convivial parties which distinguished the table of
Major Hobart, when he was secretary in Ireland, among the usual loyal
toasts, “The wooden walls of England” being given,—Sir John Hamilton, in
his turn, gave “The wooden walls of Ireland!” This toast being quite new
to us all, he was asked for an explanation: upon which, filling a
bumper, he very gravely stood up, and bowing to the Marquess of
Waterford and several country gentlemen, who commanded county regiments,
he said—“My lords and gentlemen! I have the pleasure of giving you ‘The
wooden walls of Ireland’—_the colonels of militia_!”

So broad but so good-humoured a _jeu d’esprit_, excited great merriment:
the _truth_ was forgotten in the jocularity, but the epithet did not
perish. I saw only one grave countenance in the room, and that belonged
to the late Marquess of Waterford, who was the proudest egotist I ever
met with. He had a tremendous squint—the eyes looking _inward_, a
disposition which Lavater particularly characterises; and as to the
marquess, he was perfectly right: nor was there any thing prepossessing
in the residue of his features to atone for this deformity. Nothing can
better exemplify his lordship’s opinion of himself and others, than an
observation I heard him make at Lord Portarlington’s table. Having
occasion for a _superlative_ degree of _comparison_ between two persons,
he was at a loss for a climax. At length, however, he luckily hit on
one. “That man was—(said the marquess)—he was as superior as—as—as—I am
to Lord Ranelagh!”

I will now advert to Sir Boyle Roche, who certainly was, without
exception, the most celebrated and entertaining anti-grammarian in the
Irish Parliament. I knew him intimately. He was of a very respectable
Irish family, and, in point of appearance, a fine, bluff, soldier-like
old gentleman. He had numerous good qualities; and having been long in
the army, his ideas were full of honour and etiquette—of discipline and
bravery. He had a claim to the title of Fermoy, which however he never
pursued; and was brother to the famous Tiger Roche, who fought some
desperate duel abroad, and was near being hanged for it.[41] Sir Boyle
was perfectly well-bred in all his habits; had been appointed
gentleman-usher at the Irish Court, and executed the duties of that
office to the day of his death with the utmost satisfaction to himself
as well as to every one in connexion with him. He was married to the
eldest daughter of Sir John Frankland, Bart.; and his lady, who was a
_bas bleu_, prematurely injured Sir Boyle’s capacity (it was said) by
forcing him to read “Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,”
whereat he was so cruelly puzzled without being in the least amused,
that, in his cups, he often stigmatised the great historian as a
low-bred fellow, who ought to have been kicked out of company whereever
he was, for turning people’s thoughts away from their prayers and their
politics, to what the devil himself could make neither head nor tail of!


Footnote 41:

  He regarded swords no more than knitting-needles, and pinked every man
  he faced in combat.


His perpetually bragging that Sir John Frankland had given him his
_eldest_ daughter, afforded Curran an opportunity of replying,—“Ay, Sir
Boyle, and depend on it, if he had had an _older_ one still, he would
have given her to you!” Sir Boyle thought it best to receive the
repartee as a compliment, lest it should come to her ladyship’s ears,
who, for several years back, had prohibited Sir Boyle from all allusions
to chronology.

This baronet had certainly one great advantage over all other bull and
blunder makers: he seldom launched a blunder from which some fine
aphorism or maxim might not be easily extracted. When a debate arose in
the Irish House of Commons on the vote of a grant which was recommended
by Sir John Parnell, chancellor of the exchequer, as one not likely to
be felt burdensome for many years to come,—it was observed in reply,
that the House had no just right to load posterity with a weighty debt
for what could in no degree operate to their advantage. Sir Boyle, eager
to defend the measures of government, immediately rose, and, in a few
words, put forward the most unanswerable argument which human ingenuity
could possibly devise. “What, Mr. Speaker!” said he, “and so we are to
beggar ourselves for fear of vexing posterity! Now, I would ask the
honourable gentleman, and this _still more_ honourable House, why we
should put ourselves out of our way to do any thing for _posterity_:—for
what has _posterity_ done for _us_?”

Sir Boyle, hearing the roar of laughter which of course followed this
sensible blunder, but not being conscious that he had said any thing out
of the way, was rather puzzled, and conceived that the House had
misunderstood him. He therefore begged leave to explain, as he
apprehended that gentlemen had entirely mistaken his words: he assured
the House “that by _posterity_ he did not at all mean our _ancestors_,
but those who were to come _immediately_ after _them_!” Upon hearing
this _explanation_, it was impossible to do any serious business for
half an hour.

Sir Boyle Roche was induced by government to fight as hard as possible
for the Union:—so he did, and I really believe fancied, by degrees, that
he was right. On one occasion, a general titter arose at his florid
picture of the happiness which must proceed from this event. “Gentlemen
(said Sir Boyle) may titther, and titther, and titther, and may think it
a bad measure; but their heads at present are hot, and will so remain
till they grow cool again; and so they can’t decide right now; but when
the _day of judgment_ comes, _then_ honourable gentlemen will be
satisfied at this most excellent Union! Sir, there is no Levitical
degrees between nations, and on this occasion I can see neither sin nor
shame in _marrying our own sister_!”

He was a determined enemy to the French Revolution, and seldom rose in
the House for several years without volunteering some abuse of it.

“Mr. Speaker,” said he, in a mood of this kind, “if we once permitted
the villanous French masons to meddle with the buttresses and walls of
our ancient constitution, they would never stop nor stay, sir, till they
brought the foundation-stones tumbling down about the ears of the
nation! There,” continued Sir Boyle, placing his hand earnestly on his
heart, his powdered head shaking in unison with his loyal zeal, whilst
he described the probable consequences of an invasion of Ireland by the
French republicans;—“There, Mr. Speaker! if those Gallican villains
should invade us, sir, ’tis on _that very table_, may-be, these
honourable members might see their own destinies lying in heaps a-top of
one another! Here perhaps, sir, the murderous _marshal-law-men_
(Marseillois) would break in, cut us into joints, and throw our bleeding
heads upon that table, to stare us in the face!”

Sir Boyle, on another occasion, was arguing for the Habeas Corpus
Suspension Bill in Ireland:—“It would surely be better, Mr. Speaker,”
said he, “to give up not only a _part_, but, if necessary, even the
_whole_, of our constitution, to preserve _the remainder_!”

This baronet having been one of the Irish Parliamentary curiosities
before the Union, I have only exemplified his _mode_ of blundering, as
many ridiculous sayings have been attributed to him. He blundered
certainly more than any public speaker in Ireland; but his bulls were
rather logical perversions, and had some strong point in most of them.

The English people consider a bull as nothing more than a vulgar
nonsensical expression: but Irish blunders are frequently humorous
hyperboles or _oxymorons_,[42] and present very often the most energetic
mode of expressing the speaker’s meaning.


Footnote 42:

  That figure of rhetoric

                “—— where contradictions meet,
                And jarring epithets and subjects greet.”


On the motion to expel Lord Edward Fitzgerald from the House of Commons,
for hasty disrespectful expressions regarding the House and the Lord
Lieutenant, it was observable that the motion was violently supported by
the younger men then in Parliament; including the late Marquess of
Ormonde, &c. The marquess was, indeed, one of the strongest supporters
of a measure, the object of which was to disgrace a young nobleman, his
own equal: and it was likewise worthy of remark that the motion was
resisted by the steadiest and oldest members of the House, and by them
finally rejected.

Sir Boyle Roche laboured hard and successfully for Lord Edward, who was
eventually required to make an apology: it was not, however, considered
sufficiently ample or repentant. Sir Boyle was at his wits’ end, and at
length produced a natural syllogism, which, by putting the House in
good-humour, did more than a host of reasoners could have achieved. “Mr.
Speaker,” said the baronet, “I think the noble young man has no business
to make any apology.—He is a gentleman, and none such should be asked to
make an _apology_, because no _gentleman_ could _mean_ to _give

Dennis M‘Carthy, the postilion of Lord Lisle, had an action for crim.
con. brought against him by his master, and upon a very forced
construction of law in such cases, by the chief baron, the jury found
damages for 5000_l._ against Dennis.—He was of course sent to gaol; and
damages to that amount and of that nature excluding the debtor from the
benefit of the Insolvent Act, strong efforts were made in Parliament to
have Dennis included especially, by name, in the statute, he having
remained ten years in close confinement. His liberation was constantly
applied for, and as constantly rejected. Sir Boyle, as a last effort,
made a florid speech in his best style on behalf of the poor fellow,
arguing truly, “that Lady Lisle, and not Dennis, must have been the real
seducer;” and concluding thus:—“And what, Mr. Speaker, was this poor
servant’s crime? After all, sure, Mr. Speaker, it was only doing _his
master’s business by his mistress’s orders_! and is it not very hard to
keep a poor servant in gaol for that which if he had not done he would
have deserved a horsewhipping?” This way of putting the case had the
desired effect:—Dennis’s name was especially included by the Commons;
but in the House of Lords it was thrown out by Lord Clonmell, chief
justice, though two years had scarcely elapsed since his lordship
himself had fought a duel with the late Lord Tyrawley for crim. con.
with her ladyship.

Never was there a more _sensible blunder_ than the following. We
recommend it as a motto to gentlemen in the army. “The best way,” said
Sir Boyle, “to _avoid_ danger, is to _meet it plump_!”

Lord Townsend, when he went over as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was
greatly amused on entering the beautiful bay of Dublin. There are two
great and dangerous sand-banks to be encountered on entering the
harbour, with a small village close to them on the shore.

“What bank is that?” asked Lord Townsend.

“That’s the North _Bull_,” said the captain.

“And pray, what’s that _other_ bank?” inquired the Lord Lieutenant.

“That’s the _South Bull_, my lord,” answered the pilot.

“And what’s the name of that little village?”

“That’s _Ring’s-End_, your Excellency,” said the mate.

“What!” exclaimed Lord Townsend; “two _bulls_ and one _impossibility_ is
quite enough for one harbour! I think, if the _parliament_ is like the
_port_, I shall not find it easy to compose an _answer_ to its

                         ENTRANCE INTO OFFICE.

The author first placed in office by Lord Westmoreland—Made king’s
  counsel by Lord Clare—Jealousy of the bar—Description of
  Kilkenny Castle—Trial of the Earl of Ormonde for outrage at
  Kilkenny—Acquitted—Author’s conduct—Distinguished and liberal
  present from the Earl of Ormonde to the author, of a gold box,
  and his subsequent letter.

In December, 1793, the secretary, Lord Buckinghamshire, wrote to say
that he wished to see me at the Castle. I immediately attended, when he
said, “Barrington, I am about to depart from Ireland: and,” continued
he, after my sincere expressions of regret, “as you have heretofore had
nothing from us but convivial intercourse, it is just you should now
have fare somewhat more substantial; with the approbation of the Lord
Lieutenant, therefore, I have managed to secure for you a very handsome
office,—the ships’ entries of the port of Dublin.”

At the name and nature of this office I rather demurred; whereupon Lord
Buckinghamshire smiled, and said, “You have no objection to a good
sinecure, I suppose, the emoluments payable every Sunday morning by the
deputy: the place was lately held by Mr. George Ponsonby, and is at this
moment enjoyed by Serjeant Coppinger; but I have negotiated to give him,
his son, and his wife, an annuity of £800 a year, to resign it to you:
we were bound to provide for him as an old servant of thirty years, and
this is a convenient opportunity for doing so!”

This, so far, was agreeable: but still, _professional_ advancement being
the object next my heart, I neither felt nor looked totally satisfied.

Lord Buckinghamshire then said, “You are a grumbling fellow: but I
anticipated your grumbling, and the Lord Chancellor (Lord Clare) has
consented to your being at the same time appointed one of the king’s
counsel;—thus at once giving you a step over the heads of all your
circuit seniors, except Sir Frederick Flood, who is not, I fancy, very

This arrangement altogether met my wishes. I hastened to Lords
Westmoreland and Clare, to thank them most cordially; and the fifth year
after becoming a barrister, I found myself at the head of my circuit,
and high up in the official rank of my profession. Practice generally
follows the fortunate: I was immediately considered as on the high-road
of preferment; the attorneys pursued me like a flock of rooks! and my
business was quadrupled.

I purchased a fine house in Merrion Square, from Mr. Robert Johnson,
then counsel to the revenue, (afterward judge,) who at that period felt
himself going down hill; and here I launched into an absolute press of
business; perhaps justly acquiring thereby the jealousy of many of my
seniors. This jealousy, however, gave rise to one of the most gratifying
incidents of my life.

John, Earl of Ormonde, resided, like a true Irish nobleman, in the
utmost splendour and hospitality, in his fine ancient castle at
Kilkenny. He scarcely ever went even to the Irish metropolis—his entire
fortune being expended in his own city; whereby every shopkeeper and
trader experienced the advantages of his lordship’s residence. His
establishment was ample—his table profuse—his friendship warm and
unbounded. The very appearance of his castle (though only a portion of
the old duke’s) was still such as to remind the spectator of its former
magnificence. Proudly towering over the river Nore, from which it was
separated only by the public walk, a high and grand rampart on that side
conveyed the idea at once of a palace and a fortress; whilst towards the
city an old princely portal, flanked by round towers, opened into a
spacious court, within which were preserved two sides of the original
edifice, and a third was, at the period I allude to, rebuilding, in a
style, however, far too modern and ordinary. The exterior mouldings of
the castle exhibited the remains of the gilding which had formerly been
laid on with a lavish hand.

The interior of this noble edifice, with the exception of one saloon and
the picture-gallery, was not calculated to satisfy expectation: but both
those were unique—the one with respect to its form, the other to its
prospects. The grand saloon was not shaped like any other, I believe,
existing—oval in its figure, and not large;—but the wall, twelve feet
thick, admitted of recesses on the sides, which had the appearance of
small rooms, each being terminated by a large window, and its sides
covered with mirrors which reflected the beautiful and varied prospects
of city, country, wood, river, and public promenade. When I was at the
castle, in fact, every thing appeared to me delightful.

Walter, the late Marquess of Ormonde, though my junior in years, had
been my intimate friend and companion; as was also his cousin, Bryan
Cavanagh. We lived together at Temple, and Lord Ormonde was then the
finest young man I ever saw. He had quite a cross private tutor
(Rankin), who was with his lordship at Oxford, and then came to reside
at Lincoln’s Inn with his cousin Bryan, till his father had provided for
him—an interval of nearly a year.

Lady Ormonde, mother of Walter, was the only child of Earl Winderford,
and, as lady of the castle, was careful to keep up her due importance.
It is not impossible for women or men either to mistake form for
dignity. True pride is accompanied by an amiable condescension: mere
ceremony is the result of false pride, and not of dignity. I thought
(perhaps erroneously) that her ladyship made this mistake.

The Earl John, my friend’s father, was rather in the opposite extreme.
He was well read and friendly; indeed, a truer friend or more honourable
person could not exist: yet he was a _hard-goer_ (as it was called), and
an incessant talker. His lordship occasionally adjourned to a kind of
tavern in the city, of which a certain widow Madden was the hostess, and
where one Mr. Evans, surnamed “Hell-cat,” together with the best boozers
and other gentlemen of Kilkenny, assembled to amuse his lordship by
their jests and warm punch, and to emulate each other in the devouring
oysters and lobsters—the best which could possibly be procured. Hither,
in fact, the company from the castle often repaired for amusement.

These boozing-matches sometimes proceeded rather too far; and, one
night, Mr. Duffy, a sharp, smart, independent-minded apothecary of
Kilkenny, who had offended the Ormonde family on some very sensitive
point, being alluded to, a member of the party, with more zeal than
prudence, proposed as a toast, “a round of rascals!” taking care to
designate Doctor Duffy as belonging to that _honourable_ fraternity. On
departing from the tavern, far more full of liquor than wit, some wild
young man in company suggested the demolition of the doctor’s windows:
no sooner said than done!—the piper played, the stones flew, and Duffy’s
shivered panes bore ample testimony to the strength of the widow’s
beverage. No personal injury however ensued, and the affair _appeared_
to have terminated.

A glazier was sent early next morning by command of my lord to repair
the windows; but this the doctor refused to allow; and in due form
applied for and obtained a criminal information in the King’s Bench for
the outrage, against Lord Ormonde, his son Walter, James the present
Marquess, Lord Thurles, and others. The information was, in due legal
form, sent down to be tried at the spring assizes very soon after I had
been appointed king’s counsel.

None felt more jealousy at my promotion than Mr. William Fletcher,
(since judge of the Common Pleas,) many years my senior at the bar and
on circuit. Lord Ormonde directed briefs to be sent to me and to
Fletcher, with fees of fifteen guineas each. I never loved money much in
my life, and therefore thought it quite enough; or rather, I did not
think about it.

The defendant’s case fell of course to me as leading counsel. At this
circumstance Fletcher felt sore, and ran sulky; and the sulkier he got
the more zealous became I. We had but a bad case of it: the
cross-examination of the irritated apothecary, who grew after awhile
quite ferocious, fell to my lot. I performed my duty, and it then
devolved on Fletcher to speak to the evidence. This however he declined
to do. I pressed him; but he peremptorily refused. I exclaimed—“Nay,
Fletcher, you took a fee: why not speak?”—“Yes,” answered the angry
barrister, “just enough to make me hold my tongue!”—“Do speak,”
persisted I. “I _won’t_,” replied he. “Then I must do it for you,” was
my rejoinder. My zeal was enkindled, and I felt myself in earnest and
interested. I persevered till I saw the jury smile, to do which, they
only wanted a good pretence. I held on my course till I saw them
pleased; and the result was an acquittal of Lord Ormonde, and a
conviction of all the others.

To his lordship this acquittal was invaluable. The conviction of the
Earl of Ormonde for a nocturnal outrage in his own town, would have been
to him a source of the utmost dismay. I knew this, and acted
accordingly. He had heard of the conversation between Fletcher and me;
but he thanked both without distinction, and made no partial remarks. I
was hurt for a moment at this apparent neglect, but thought of it no
longer, and his lordship never mentioned the circumstance.

On the ensuing summer assizes Lord Ormonde invited the judges,
barristers, several of the grand-jury, and the principal gentlemen of
the county, to a magnificent dinner at the castle. It was a long table,
and every thing in the grandest style. A judge sat on each side of Lady
Ormonde at the head, and Fletcher and myself were their next neighbours.
After the cloth was removed, and Lady Ormonde had retired, his lordship
stood up, and, in a loud voice, said,—“I have waited with impatience for
this public opportunity of expressing to Mr. Barrington the high sense I
entertain of his important and disinterested services to me at the last
assizes: I now beg his acceptance of a small testimonial of my gratitude
and friendship.”—And he immediately slid along the table a magnificent
gold snuff-box, with his arms, &c. and the following inscription:—

    A Token of Friendship and Gratitude from the Earl of Ormonde and
    Ossory to Jonah Barrington, Esq., one of His Majesty’s Counsel
    at Law. August, 1794.

I was utterly astonished by this distinguished and most unexpected
favour conferred in so public and honourable a manner; and
_involuntarily_, without a moment’s thought, (but certainly with the
appearance of ill-nature,) I triumphantly handed round the box for the
inspection of my brother-barristers. Fletcher, confused as might be
supposed, slightly shoved it back to me:—his conduct on the trial having
been known, a sensation became visible amongst the company, which I
would almost have given up the box to have avoided exciting. His
countenance, however, though not usually subject to be much impressed by
kind feelings, clearly acquitted me of any intentional insult: in truth,
I really felt as much as he did when I perceived my error, and wished to
pocket the prize without its creating further notice. But this was
impossible: I was obliged to return thanks, which ceremony I went
through very badly. Fletcher did not remain long, and I also adjourned
at an early hour to the bar-room, where the incident had preceded me. I
now tried my best to put all parties into good humour, and finished the
night by a much deeper stoup of wine than I should have indulged in at
Lord Ormonde’s.

Next morning I found a billet from the earl, enveloping a bank-note for
100_l._, with these words:—

    “Dear Sir,

            “My attorney did not do you justice; you will permit me
    to be my own attorney on this occasion.

                                  “Your friend and humble servant,
                                  “ORMONDE and OSSORY.”

From that time to the day of his lordship’s death, I experienced from
him, on every occasion within his reach, the utmost extent of kindness,
civility, and friendship. His successor, with whom I had been so long
and so very intimately acquainted, was whirled at an early age into the
vortex of fashionable life and dissipation. Having lost his best guide
and truest friend, his cousin Bryan Cavanagh, many of his naturally fine
qualities were absorbed in the licentious influence of a fashionable
female connexion; and thus became lost to himself and to many of those
friends who had most truly valued him.

I have mentioned Walter, Marquess of Ormonde, the more particularly,
because, extraordinary as it may appear, it certainly was to that fatal
connexion of his (where I am sure he had not been the seducer) that I
owe several of the most painful and injurious events of my life. Of the
existence of this connexion I had irrefragable proof; and of its having
operated as a bar to the chief objects of his life and ambition, and of
my own also, I have equal reason to feel convinced.

His lordship married his own god-daughter, a most amiable young lady;
but too late: and never have I remarked, through the course of a long,
observing life, any progress more complete from the natural levities of
youth to confirmed habits of dissipation, from the first order of early
talent to the humblest state of premature imbecility, than that of the
late Marquess of Ormonde, who had, at one period of our intimacy, as
engaging a person, as many noble, manly qualities, and to the full as
much intellectual promise, as any young man of his country.

                         DR. ACHMET BORUMBORAD.

Singular anecdotes of Dr. Achmet Borumborad—He proposes to erect baths
  in Dublin, in the Turkish fashion—Obtains grants from Parliament for
  that purpose—The baths well executed—The Doctor’s banquet—Ludicrous
  anecdote of nineteen noblemen and members of Parliament falling into
  his grand salt-water bath—The accident nearly causes the ruin of the
  Doctor and his establishment—He falls in love with Miss Hartigan, and
  marries her—Sudden metamorphosis of the Turk into Mr. Patrick Joyce.

Until England dragged the sister kingdom with herself into the ruinous
expenses of the American war, Ireland owed no public debt.—There were no
taxes, save local ones: the Parliament, being composed of resident
gentlemen, interested in the prosperity and welfare of their country,
was profuse in promoting all useful schemes; and no projector, who could
show any reasonable grounds for seeking assistance, had difficulty in
finding a patron. On these points, indeed, the gentlemen who possessed
influence, were often unguarded, and sometimes extravagant;—but the
people lost nothing, since all was expended amongst themselves.

Among other projectors, whose ingenuity was excited by this liberal
conduct, was one of a very singular description—a _Turk_ who had come
over, or (as the _on-dit_ went) had _fled_ from Constantinople. He
proposed to establish, what was greatly wanted at that time in the Irish
metropolis, “Hot and Cold Sea-water Baths;” and by way of advancing his
pretensions to public encouragement, offered to open free baths for the
poor, on an extensive plan—giving them, as a doctor, attendance and
advice gratis, every day in the year. He spoke English very
intelligibly; his person was extremely remarkable; and the more so, as
he was the first _Turk_ who had ever walked the streets of Dublin in his
native costume. He was in height considerably above six feet, rather
pompous in his gait, and apparently powerful; an immense black beard
covering his chin and upper lip. There was, at the same time, something
cheerful and cordial in the man’s address; and, altogether, he cut a
very imposing figure. Every body liked Doctor Achmet Borumborad: his
Turkish dress, being extremely handsome, without any approach to the
tawdry, and crowned with an immense turban, drew the eyes of every
passer-by; and I must say that I have never myself seen a more
stately-looking Turk since that period.

The eccentricity of the Doctor’s appearance was, indeed, as will readily
be imagined, the occasion of much idle observation and conjecture. At
first, whenever he went abroad, a crowd of people, chiefly boys, was
sure to attend him—but at a respectful distance; and if he turned to
look behind him, the gaping boobies fled, as if they conceived even his
looks to be mortal. These fears, however, gradually wore away, and were
entirely shaken off, on the fact being made public, that he meant to
attend the poor; which undertaking was, in the usual spirit of
exaggeration, soon construed into an engagement, on the part of the
Doctor, to cure _all disorders whatever_! and hence he quickly became as
much admired and respected as he had previously been dreaded.

My fair readers will perhaps smile, when I assure them that the persons
who seemed to have the least apprehension of Doctor Borumborad, or
rather to think him “a very _nice_ Turk!” were the ladies of the
metropolis. Many a smart, snug little husband, who had been heretofore
considered “quite the thing,”—despotic in his own house, and peremptory
commandant of his own family, was now regarded as a wretched,
contemptible, close-shaven pigmy, in comparison with the immensity of
the Doctor’s figure and whiskers; and, what is more extraordinary, his
good-humour and engaging manners gained him many friends even among the
husbands themselves! he thus becoming, in a shorter period than could be
imagined, a particular favourite with the entire city, male and female.

Doctor Achmet Borumborad, having obtained footing thus far, next
succeeded surprisingly in making his way amongst the members of
Parliament. He was full of conversation, yet knew his proper distance;
pregnant with anecdote, but discreet in its expenditure; and he had the
peculiar talent of being humble without the _appearance_ of humility. A
submissive Turk would have been out of character, and a haughty one
excluded from society: the Doctor was aware of this, and regulated his
demeanour with remarkable skill upon all occasions (and they were
numerous) whereon (as a _lion_) he was invited to the tables of the
great. By this line of conduct, he managed to warm those who patronised
him into becoming violent partisans; and accordingly little or no
difficulty was experienced in getting a grant from Parliament for a
sufficient fund to commence his great metropolitan undertaking.

Baths were now planned after Turkish models. The money voted was most
faithfully appropriated; and a more ingenious or useful establishment
could not be formed in any metropolis. But the cash, it was discovered,
ran too short to enable the Doctor to complete his scheme; and, on the
ensuing session, a further vote became necessary, which was by no means
opposed, as the institution was good, fairly executed, and charitably
applied. The worthy Doctor kept his ground: session after session he
petitioned for fresh assistance, and never met with refusal: his profits
were good, and he lived well; whilst the baths proved of the utmost
benefit, and the poor received attention and service from his
establishment, without cost. An immense cold-bath was constructed, to
communicate with the river: it was large and deep, and entirely renewed
every tide. The neatest lodging rooms, for those patients who chose to
remain during a course of bathing, were added to the establishment, and
always occupied. In short, the whole affair became so popular, and Dr.
Achmet acquired so many friends, that the annual grants of Parliament
were considered nearly as matters of course.

But, alas! fortune is treacherous, and prosperity unstable. Whilst the
ingenious Borumborad was thus rapidly flourishing, an unlucky though
most ludicrous incident threw the poor fellow completely a-back; and,
without any fault on his part, nearly ruined both himself and his

Preparatory to every session it was the Doctor’s invariable custom to
give a grand dinner, at the baths, to a large number of his patrons,
members of Parliament, who were in the habit of proposing and supporting
his grants. He always, on these occasions, procured some professional
singers, as well as the finest wines in Ireland—endeavouring to render
the parties as joyous and convivial as possible. Some nobleman, or
commoner of note, always acted for him as chairman, the Doctor himself
being quite unassuming.

At the last commencement of a session, whereupon he anticipated this
patronage, it was intended to increase his grant, in order to meet the
expenses of certain new works, &c. which he had executed on the strength
of the ensuing supply; and the Doctor had invited nearly thirty of the
leading members to a grand dinner in his spacious saloon. The singers
were of the first order; the claret and champaign excellent; and never
was the Turk’s hospitality shown off to better advantage, or the
appetites of his guests administered to with greater success. The
effects of the wine, as usual on all such meetings in Ireland, began to
grow obvious. The elder and more discreet members were for adjourning;
whilst the juveniles declared they would stay for another dozen! and
Doctor Borumborad accordingly went down himself to his cellar, to select
and send up a choice dozen by way of _bonne bouche_ for _finishing_ the
refractory members of Parliament.

In his absence, Sir John S. Hamilton, though a very _dry_ member, took
it into his head that he had taken enough, and rose to go away, as is
customary in these days of freedom when people are so circumstanced: but
at that period men were not always their own masters on such occasions,
and a general cry arose of—“Stop, Sir John!—stop him!—the _bonne
bouche_!—the _bonne bouche_!”—The carousers were on the alert instantly:
Sir John opened the door and rushed out; the ante-chamber was not
lighted; some one or two-and-twenty stanch members stuck to his skirts;
when _splash_ at once comes Sir John, not into the street, but into the
great _cold-bath_, the door of which he had retreated by, in mistake!
The other Parliament-men were too close upon the baronet to stop short
(like the horse of a Cossack): in they went, by fours and fives; and one
or two, who, on hearing the splashing of the water, cunningly threw
themselves down on the brink to avoid popping in, operated directly as
stumbling-blocks to those behind, who thus obtained their full share of
a _bonne bouche_ none of the parties had bargained for.

When Doctor Borumborad re-entered, ushering a couple of servants laden
with a dozen of his best wine, and missed all his company, he thought
some devil had carried them off; but perceiving the door of his noble,
deep, cold-bath open, he with dismay rushed thither, and espied a full
committee of Irish Parliament-men either floating like so many corks
upon the surface, or scrambling to get out like mice who had fallen into
a bason! The Doctor’s _posse_ of attendants were immediately set at
work, and every one of the honourable members extricated: the quantity
of Liffey-water, however, which had made its way into their stomachs,
was not so easily removed, and most of them carried the beverage home to
their own bed-chambers.

It was unlucky, also, that as the Doctor was a Turk, he had no Christian
wardrobe to substitute for the well-soaked garments of the honourable
members. Such dresses, however, as he had, were speedily put into
requisition; the bathing attendants furnished their quota of dry
apparel; and all was speedily distributed amongst the swimmers, some of
whom exhibited in Turkish costume, others in bathing-shifts; and when
the clothes failed, blankets were pinned around the rest. Large fires
were made in every room; brandy and mulled wine liberally resorted to;
and as fast as sedan-chairs could be procured, the Irish Commoners were
sent home, cursing all Turks and infidels, and denouncing a crusade
against any thing coming from the same quarter of the globe as

Poor Doctor Achmet Borumborad was distracted and quite inconsolable!
Next day he duly visited every suffering member, and though well
received, was acute enough to see that the ridicule with which they had
covered themselves was likely to work out eventually his ruin. His
anticipations were well-founded: though the members sought to hush up
the ridiculous parts of the story, they became, from that very attempt,
still more celebrated. In fact, it was too good a joke to escape the
embellishments of Irish humour; and the statement universally circulated
was—that “Doctor Borumborad had nearly drowned nineteen members of
Parliament, because they would not promise to vote for him!”

The poor doctor was now assailed in every way. Among other things, it
was asserted that he was the Turk who had strangled the Christians in
the Seven Towers at Constantinople!—Though every body laughed at _their
own_ inventions, they believed those of _other people_; and the
conclusion was, that no more grants could be proposed, since not a
single member was stout enough to mention the name of Borumborad! The
laugh, indeed, would have overwhelmed the best speech ever delivered in
the Irish Parliament.

Still the new works must be paid for, although no convenient vote came
to make the necessary provision: the poor doctor was therefore cramped a
little; but notwithstanding his embarrassment, he kept his ground well,
and lost no private friends, except such as the wearing-off of novelty
estranged. He continued to get on; and at length a new circumstance
intervened to restore his happiness, in a way as little to be
anticipated by the reader as was his previous discomfiture.

Love had actually seized upon the Turk above two years before the
accident we have been recording. A respectable surgeon of Dublin, of the
name of Hartigan, had what might be termed a very “neat” sister; and
this lady had made a lasting impression on the heart of Borumborad, who
had no reason to complain of his suit being treated with disdain, or
even indifference. On the contrary, Miss H. liked the doctor vastly! and
praised the Turks in general, both for their dashing spirit and their
beautiful whiskers. It was not, however, consistent either with her own
or her brother’s Christianity to submit to the doctor’s tremendous
beard, or think of matrimony; till “he had shaved the chin at least, and
got a parson to turn him into a Christian, or something of that kind.”
Upon those terms only would she surrender her charms and her money—for
some she had—to Doctor Achmet Borumborad, however amiable.

The doctor’s courtship with the members of Parliament having now
terminated, so far at any rate as further grants were concerned, and a
_grant_ of a much more tender nature being now within his reach, he
began seriously to consider if he should not at once capitulate to Miss
H., and exchange his beard and his Alcoran for a razor and the New
Testament. After weighing matters deliberately, love prevailed; and he
intimated by letter, in the proper vehemence of Asiatic passion, his
determination to turn Christian, discard his beard, and, throwing
himself at the feet of his beloved, vow eternal fidelity to her in the
holy bands of matrimony. He concluded by requesting an interview in the
presence of the young lady’s confidant, a Miss Owen, who resided next
door. His request was granted, and he repeated his proposal, which was
duly accepted, Miss Hartigan stipulating that he should never see her
again until the double promise in his letter was fully redeemed; upon
which he might mention his own day for the ceremony. The doctor having
engaged to comply, took leave:—for the last time he stroked his glossy
beard, and departed with a look so sensitive and tender, that both the
intended bride and bridesmaid regarded the yielding Musselman with the
fervor of an Asiatic constitution.

On the evening of the same day a gentleman was announced to the
bride-elect, with a message from Doctor Achmet Borumborad. Her
confidential neighbour was immediately summoned; the gentleman waiting
meantime in a coach at the door. At length Miss Hartigan and her friend
being ready to receive him, in walked a Christian gallant, in a suit of
full-dress black, and a very tall, fine-looking Christian he was! Miss
H. was surprised; she did not recognise her lover, particularly as she
thought it impossible he could have been made a Christian before the
ensuing Sunday! He immediately, however, fell on his knees, seized and
kissed her lily hand, and on her beginning to expostulate, cried out at
once, “Don’t be angry, my dear creature! to tell the honest truth, I am
as good a Christian as the archbishop; I’m your own countryman, sure
enough!—Mr. Patrick Joyce from Kilkenny county:—the devil a _Turk_ any
more than yourself, my sweet angel!” The ladies were astonished; but
astonishment did not prevent Miss Hartigan from keeping her word, and
Mr. and Mrs. Joyce became a very loving and happy couple.

The doctor’s great skill, however, was supposed to lie in his beard and
faith;—consequently, on this _dénouement_, the baths declined. But the
honest fellow had never done any discreditable or improper act; none
indeed was ever laid to his charge: he fully performed every engagement
with the Parliament whilst he retained the power to do so.

His beauty and portly appearance were considerably diminished by his
change of garb. The long beard and picturesque dress had been half the
battle; and he was, after his transformation, but a plain, rather
coarse, but still brave-looking fellow. An old memorandum-book reminded
me of these circumstances, as it noted a payment made to him by me on
behalf of my elder brother, who had been lodging in the bath-house at
the time of the _swimming match_.

I regret that I never inquired as to Joyce’s subsequent career, nor can
I say whether he is or not still in the land of the living. This little
story shows the facility with which public money was formerly voted,
and, at the same time, the comparatively fortunate financial state of
Ireland at that period, when the public purse could afford a
multiplicity of such supplies without any tax or imposition whatsoever
being laid upon the people to provide for them! How very different were
the measures of that Parliament even ten years afterward!

The early life of _Doctor Achmet Borumborad_ was obscure. All he
mentioned himself was, that he left Ireland very young, in a merchant
vessel, for Smyrna, where he lived with a high German doctor, who
performed _miraculous_ cures in that city. He affected to be a Turk, in
order to get a better insight into the country and people. He appeared a
man of much general information, and had studied the arts. Lord
Charlemont had met him in Greece, and became his patron in Ireland. He
was altogether a very well-conducted person; but being, as we have said,
the first _Turk_ (in appropriate costume) who had figured in Ireland,
and glowing accounts of harems and seraglios having been previously read
in the Arabian Nights; the doctor excited great curiosity, and not a
little interest among the _ladies_. The old and rich Countess of Brandon
fell desperately in love with his fine muscular person; but he never
could be prevailed on to return her passion. She died of age some years
before the Turk married Miss Hartigan.

                      ALDERMEN OF SKINNERS’ ALLEY.

The institution of Orangemen—United Irishmen—Protestant ascendancy—Dr.
  Duigenan—Origin, progress, and customs of the aldermen of Skinners’
  Alley described—Their revels—Orange toast, never before published—The
  aldermen throw Mr. M‘Mahon, an apothecary, out of a window for
  striking the bust of King William—New association—Anecdotes of Sir
  John Bourke and Sir Francis Gould—The Pope’s bull of absolution to Sir
  Francis—Its delivery suspended till he had taken away his landlady’s
  daughter—His death.

Orange societies, as they are termed, were first formed by the
Protestants to oppose and counteract the turbulent demonstrations of the
Catholics, who formed the population of the south of Ireland. But at
their commencement, the Orangemen certainly adopted a principle of
interference which was not confined to religious points alone, but went
to put down _all_ popular insurrections which might arise on any point.
The term, _Protestant ascendancy_, was coined by Mr. John Gifford (of
whom more hereafter), and became an epithet very fatal to the peace of
Ireland. Many associations indeed were, from time to time, originated:
some for _reform_, others to oppose it; some for _toleration_, others
for intolerance! There were good men and loyal subjects among the
members of each; including many who never entertained the most distant
idea of those disastrous results to be apprehended, at the feverish
period preceding the rebellion of 1798, from any encouragement to

I followed up the principles my family had invariably pursued from their
first settlement in Ireland; namely, an attachment divided between the
crown and the people. In the year 1795, I saw that the people were
likely to grow too strong for the crown; and therefore became at once,
not indeed an _ultra_—but one in whom loyalty absorbed almost every
other consideration. I willingly united in every effort to check the
rising spirit of popular disaffection—the dreadful results of which were
manifested in the atrocities acting throughout France, and in the
tottering state of the crowns of Europe.

I had been previously initiated by my friend, Doctor Duigenan, judge of
the Prerogative Court, into a very curious but most loyal society,
whereof he was grand-master at the time of my election; and as this club
differed essentially from any other in the empire, it may be amusing to
describe it—a labour which nobody has hitherto, I believe, undertaken.

This curious assemblage was called “The Aldermen of Skinners’ Alley:” it
was the first Orange association ever formed; and having, at the period
I allude to, existed a full century in pristine vigour, it had acquired
considerable local influence and importance. Its origin was as
follows:—After William the Third had mounted the English throne, and
King James had assumed the reins of government in Ireland, the latter
monarch annulled the then existing charter of the Dublin corporation,
dismissed all the aldermen who had espoused the revolutionary cause, and
replaced them by others attached to himself. In doing this he was
certainly justifiable:—the deposed aldermen, however, had secreted some
little articles of their paraphernalia, and privately assembled in an
alehouse in Skinners’ Alley, a very obscure part of the capital: here
they continued to hold Anti-Jacobite meetings; elected their own lord
mayor and officers; and got a marble bust of King William, which they
regarded as a sort of deity! These meetings were carried on till the
battle of the Boyne put William in possession of Dublin, when King
James’s aldermen were immediately cashiered, and _the Aldermen of
Skinners’ Alley_ reinvested with their mace and aldermanic glories.

To honour the memory of their restorer, therefore, a permanent
association was formed, and invested with all the memorials of their
former disgrace and latter reinstatement. This organization, constituted
near a century before, remained, I fancy, quite unaltered at the time I
became a member. To make the general influence of this association the
greater, the number of members was unlimited, and the mode of admission
solely by the proposal and seconding of tried _aldermen_. For the same
reason, no class, however humble, was excluded—equality reigning in its
most perfect state at the assemblies. Generals and wig-makers—king’s
counsel and hackney clerks, &c. all mingled without distinction as
brother-aldermen:—a lord mayor was annually appointed; and regularity
and decorum always prevailed—until, at least, toward the _conclusion_ of
the meetings, when the aldermen became more than usually noisy and
exhilarated,—King William’s bust being placed in the centre of the
supper-table, to overlook their extreme loyalty. The times of meeting
were monthly; and every member paid sixpence per month, which sum
(allowing for the absentees) afforded plenty of eatables, porter and
punch, for the supping aldermen.

Their charter-dish was _sheeps’ trotters_ (in allusion to King James’s
running away from Dublin):—rum-punch in blue jugs, whisky-punch in white
ones, and _porter_ in its _pewter_, were scattered plentifully over the
table; and all regular formalities being gone through, the eating part
of the ceremony ended, and numerous speeches made, the real _business_
began by a general chorus of “God save the King!” whereupon the grand
engine, which, as a loyal and facetious shoemaker observed, would _bind_
every _sole_ of them together, and commemorate them _all_ till the end
of time, was set at work by order of the _lord mayor_. This engine was
the charter-toast, always given with nine times nine! and duly succeeded
by vociferous acclamations.

The 1st of July (anniversary of the battle of the Boyne) was the
chartered night of assembly: then every man unbuttoned the knees of his
breeches, and drank the toast on his bare joints—it being pronounced by
_his lordship_ in the following words, composed expressly for the
purpose in the year 1689; afterward adopted by the Orange societies
generally; and still, I believe, considered as the charter-toast of them

This most ancient and unparalleled _sentiment_ runs thus:—

                             ORANGE TOAST.

    “The glorious, pious, and immortal memory of the great and good
    King William!—not forgetting Oliver Cromwell, who assisted in
    redeeming us from popery, slavery, arbitrary power, brass-money,
    and wooden shoes!—May we never want a Williamite to kick the
    * * * * of a Jacobite!—and a * * * * for the _Bishop of Cork_!
    And he that won’t drink this, whether he be priest, bishop,
    deacon, bellows-blower, grave-digger, or any other of the
    fraternity of _the clergy_;—may a north wind blow him to the
    south, and a west wind blow him to the east! May he have a dark
    night—a lee-shore—a rank storm—and a leaky vessel, to carry him
    over the river Styx! May the dog Cerberus make a meal of his
    r—p, and Pluto a snuff-box of his skull! and may the devil jump
    down his throat with a red-hot harrow, with every pin tear out a
    gut, and blow him with a _clean_ carcase to hell! _Amen!_”[43]


Footnote 43:

      I have seen this loyal sentiment drank out of Doctor
      Duigenan’s _wig_, brimful of wine!—its stanchness in holding
      liquid might be easily accounted for by any person who saw the
      doctor’s forehead either after a passion or a paroxysm of


The extraordinary zeal wherewith this toast was drank, could only be
equalled by the enthusiasm with which the blue and white jugs and pewter
pots were resorted to, to ascertain the quality of the potation within;
both processes serving to indicate the quantity of loyalty entertained
by every alderman toward the King, Doctor Duigenan, and the Protestant
Religion!—they then rebuttoned the knees of their breeches (trousers had
not come into fashion), and sat down _to work_ again in downright
earnest. Mr. Powell, a jolly apothecary, of Thomas-street, in my time,
led the vocal band;[44] and after a dozen speeches, accompanied by
numerous replenishments of the jugs, &c. every body who had _any thing
to do in the morning_ generally withdrew, leaving the rest of the
loyalists to finish the last drop.


Footnote 44:

  He burst a blood-vessel in singing “Rule Britannia,” and soon after
  became defunct, to the irreparable loss of the Skinners’ Alley


The idea of “Orange Societies” arose, in my opinion, from this
association, which, I believe, still exists, but has, I understand,
degenerated into a sort of _half-mounted_ club;—not exclusive enough for
gentlemen, and too fine for wig-makers: it has, in fact, sunk into a
paltry and unimportant corporate utensil.

I recollect an amusing circumstance which many years back occurred in
this lodge. Until politics grew too hot, Napper Tandy and several other
of the _patriots_ were _aldermen_: but finding that ultra-loyalty was
making way too fast for their notions, they sought some fair opportunity
of seceding from the club, stealing the mace, and regenerating the whole
board and establishment of Skinners’-alley! and the opportunity was not
long wanting.

An apothecary, of the name of M‘Mahon, had become an alderman solely to
avoid being considered a friend of the Pope: this, in point of reality,
he was; but as, at that period, his creed was not the popular one, he
conceived that he might thrive better in his business by appearing a
stanch Protestant; or at least might learn, by association, some
valuable secrets, and then blab them to his own sect.

But M‘Mahon, although a clever person, was, like many an honest fellow,
vastly more candid when he got “the sup in” than he had ever intended to
be; indeed, in these circumstances, whatever a man thinks often comes
out in spite of him, as if it disagreed with his liquor! Thus, one
unfortunate night, “Doctor M‘Mahon, the apothecary,” (as he was termed
in Aungier-street,) having made too free amongst his brother-aldermen,
and been completely overmastered by the blue jug, forgot his company,
and began to speak rather unkindly of King William. His worthy
associates, who had made similar applications to the _blue_ and _white_,
took fire at this _sacrilege_ offered to their patron saint: one word
brought on another;—the doctor grew outrageous; and, in his paroxysm,
(not having the fear of flogging before his eyes,) actually _damned_
King William! proceeding, in the enthusiasm of his popery, most
thoughtlessly for himself and for the unhappy king’s bust then staring
before him, to strike it with his huge fat fist plump in the face!

The aldermen, who had never heard blasphemy against their canonised king
before, were astonished, while the bust immediately showed most evident
and marvellous symptoms of maltreatment by the apothecary; its beautiful
virgin white marble appearing to be actually stained with blood! This
miracle caused one of the aldermen to roar out in a fright—“That
villain, M‘Mahon, has broken the king’s nose!”—“The king’s nose!” ran
throughout the room: some, who had been dozing, hearing this cry of
high-treason from every quarter, rose and rushed with the rest upon the
doctor: his clothes were soon turned into ribbons, and the cry of “throw
him out of the window!” was unanimously and resolutely adopted: the
window was opened; the doctor, after exerting all his muscular powers
(and he was a strong, active man), was compelled to yield to numbers,
and out he went into the street, very much to the ease and satisfaction
of the loyal aldermen. The window was now closed again, the “Glorious
Memory” drunk, the king’s nose washed clean from the blood formerly
belonging to the doctor’s knuckles (which his Majesty’s feature had
unmercifully scarified), and all restored to peace and tranquillity.

As for the poor doctor, out he went, as we have said, clean and
cleverly, one good story. But (whether through chance or Providence we
will not pretend to determine) fortunately for him, a lamp and lamp-iron
stood immediately under the window whereby he had made so sudden an
exit! Hence, the doctor’s route downward was impeded by a crash, like
that made by the crescent in a military band, against the lamp; the
glass and other materials all yielded to the precious weight, and very
probably prevented the pavement from having the honour of receiving his
brains for the scavenger: he held a moment by the iron, and then dropped
quite gently into the arms of a couple of guardians of the night, who,
attracted by the uproar in the room above, and seeing the window open,
and the doctor getting out feet foremost, conceived that it was only a
drunken frolic, and so placed themselves underneath “to keep the
gentleman out of the gutter.”[45]


Footnote 45:

  Leaping out of a window voluntarily was formerly by no means uncommon
  in the country parts of Ireland:—some did it for _fun_—others for
  _love_: but it was generally for a _wager_. Very few serious accidents
  occurred in consequence of these exploits, there being generally a
  dunghill, or some other soft material, under the windows of country
  gentlemen’s lodges—the tumble was, in truth, more _dirty_ than
  _dangerous_; dislocation being the utmost injury I was accustomed to
  see resulting therefrom.


The doctor scarcely waited to thank his preservers, set out pretty well
sobered to his home, and the next day, summoning all the humane and
_patriotic_ aldermen, to whom he told his own story, they determined to
secede and set up a new corps at the King’s Arms in Fowns’s-street. The
old aldermen defended their conduct as loyal subjects; the others
stigmatised it as the act of a set of man-slaughterers: these old and
young guards of the British Constitution from that day set about
_advertising_ each other, and making proselytes on either side; and the
_Orange_ and _United Irishmen_ parties gained as many recruiting
serjeants by the fracas, as there were permanents or seceders among
those illustrious aldermen.

As nothing is so much calculated to gratify the aldermen of Skinners’
Alley as anecdotes respecting his Holiness the Pope, or their eminencies
the cardinals, I am happy in being enabled to afford them one, of which
I was an eye-witness. I had the honour of touching his Holiness’s bull
to the late Sir Francis Gould (of gallant memory), and of seeing the
beautiful candles therewith—six feet and an inch in their sockets: and
if the _saving clause_ in the bull should disappoint the aldermen, they
must blame the caution of Cardinal Gonsalvi for having it inserted
(though, I believe, a lay cardinal). I regret that at present I can
furnish them with no other anecdotes of the kind (at least that came
within my own knowledge); but the following will serve excellently well
to elucidate the Pope’s bulls of absolution.

A few years since, the present Sir John Bourke, of Glinsk, Bart.,
travelled with his new-married lady and establishment to Rome—not solely
for his pleasure, but, as an Irish Catholic, to pay his respects to the
Pope, kiss his Holiness’s toe, and purchase antiquities.

The late Sir Francis Gould, then at Paris, requested Sir John (before
me) that, as he fancied he felt himself in a declining state of health,
and unable to travel so far as Rome, he (Sir John) would take the proper
steps, through Cardinal Gonsalvi, to procure him from his Holiness a
bull of plenary absolution, and, if possible, an indulgence also; adding
that Sir John might _hint_ to the Cardinal that he intended to bequeath
a good deal of his property amongst the clergy.

Sir John undertook the matter,—proceeded to Rome,—saw the Cardinal, and,
as far as the absolution went, succeeded. He was himself at the same
time created “Marchese de Bourke of the Holy Roman Empire;” and a bull
was duly made out for Sir Francis Gould, at very considerable expense.
Sir John received also a couple of blessed candles, six feet long, to
burn whilst the bull was being read. Its express terms and conditions,
however, were:—“Provided the penitent, Sir Francis Gould, should not
again voluntarily commit the same sins now forgiven;” (which list
included nearly all the sins the Cardinal could think of!) in the other
case, the forgiveness would be void, and the two sets of sins come slap
upon the soul of Sir Francis at once, no doubt with compound
interest;—and which nothing but severe penance, some hundred full
masses, and a great deal of mass-money, would ever be able to bring him

Sir John having brought home the bull, magnificently enclosed, and sewed
up in a silk bag sealed officially by the Cardinal, informed Sir Francis
(as we were all dining together at Bourke’s hotel) that he had that day
unpacked his luggage, had the Pope’s bull perfectly safe, and would hand
it to him instantly.

Sir Francis asked him its exact purport. “I have had two others,” said
he; “but they are null, for I sinned again, and so can’t depend upon

Sir John informed him of the purport, so far as his Latin went; when Sir
Francis calmly said, “My dear Bourke, don’t give me the bull _yet
awhile_: its operation, I find, is only retrospective, and does not
affect sins committed after its delivery: why did you not bring me one
that would answer always?”

“Such a one would cost a damned deal more,” replied Sir John.

“Well, then,” said Sir Francis, “send it to me in about ten days or a
fortnight—_not sooner_: it will answer then pretty well, as I am about
taking away a beautiful young creature, my landlady’s daughter, next
week, and I should have that sin to answer for, if you gave me the bull
before I had her clean out of Paris!”

He kept his word, took off the girl, then got the _absolution_; and in a
very short time, poor fellow! was afforded, by death, an opportunity of
trying its efficacy.

                       PROCESSION OF THE TRADES.

Dublin corporation anecdote—Splendid triennial procession of the Dublin
  corporation, called _Fringes_ (franchises), described.

Nothing can better show the high opinion formerly entertained by the
Irish of their own notoriety, and particularly by that celebrated body
called the “Corporation of Dublin,” than the following incident. Mr.
Willis, a leather-breeches-maker in Dame-street, and a famous orator at
the corporation meetings, holding forth on a debate about the parochial
watch (a subject which was considered as of the utmost general
importance), discoursed as follows:—“This, my friends, is a subject
neither trifling nor obscure; the character of our corporation is at
stake on your decision!—recollect,” continued he, “recollect, brother
freemen, that the _eyes of all Europe are upon us_!”—The volunteers were
certainly of some celebrity, and it was supposed they would not be
unheard of in foreign countries.[46]


Footnote 46:

  At the breaking out of the American war Colonel Brown, in derision of
  the colonists, declared, that he would march through all America with
  _St. Andrew’s watchmen_!—This declaration being made in the House of
  Commons, was thought to be in earnest by several members of the Dublin
  corporation. It was therefore suggested by one of the body to address
  his Majesty with a tender of the watchmen of St. Andrew’s, St. Ann’s,
  and St. Peter’s parishes, for _American service_. This _serious_ offer
  drew down on the poor colonel such a volley of ridicule, that he never
  after mentioned America in Parliament. But such was the _general_
  contempt of the Americans at the _commencement_ of the contest.

  Colonel Brown was brother to old Lord Altamont.


One of the customs of Dublin which prevailed in my early days made such
a strong impression upon my mind, that it never could be obliterated.
The most magnificent and showy procession, I really believe, except
those of Rome, then took place in the Irish metropolis every third year,
and attracted a number of English quite surprising, if we take into
account the difficulty and hazard of a passage at that time from London
to Dublin.

The corporation of the latter city were, by the terms of their charter,
bound, once in three years, to perambulate the limits of the lord
mayor’s jurisdiction, to make stands or stations at various points, and
to skirt the Earl of Meath’s liberties—a part of the city at that era in
great prosperity, but forming a local jurisdiction under the earl (in
the nature of a manor) totally distinct from that of Dublin.

This procession being in fact partly intended to mark and to designate
the extreme boundaries of his lordship’s jurisdiction, at those points
where they touch the Earl of Meath’s liberty, the lord mayor thrust his
sword through the wall of a certain house;—and then concluded the
ceremony by approaching the sea at low water, and hurling a javelin as
far upon the sands as his strength admitted, which was understood to
form the boundary between him and Neptune.

The trade of Dublin is comprised of twenty-five corporations, or guilds,
each independent of the other, and represented, as in London, by a
common council. Every one of these comprised its masters, journeymen,
and apprentices;—and each guild had a patron saint, or protector, whose
image or emblem was on all great occasions dressed up in appropriate

For this procession every member of the twenty-five corporations
prepared as for a jubilee. Small funds only were collected, and each
individual gladly bore his extra charges—the masters and journeymen
being desirous of outvying one another, and conceiving that the gayer
they appeared on that great day, the more consideration would they be
entitled to throughout the ensuing three years! Of course, therefore,
such as could afford it spared no expense: they borrowed the finest
horses and trappings which could be procured; the masters rode—the
journeymen walked, and were succeeded by the apprentices.

Every corporation had an immense carriage, with a great platform and
high canopy,—the whole radiant with gilding, ribbons, and draperies, and
drawn by six or eight horses equally decked and caparisoned—their
colours and flags flying in all directions. On these platforms, which
were fitted up as workshops, were the implements of the respective
trades; and expert hands were actually at work during the entire
perambulation, which generally lasted eight or nine hours!—The
procession indeed took two hours to pass. The narrow-weavers wove
ribbons which they threw to the spectators:—the others tossed into the
air small patterns of the fabric they worked upon: the printers were
employed in striking off innumerable hand-bills, with songs, and odes to
the lord mayor, the lady mayoress, &c.

But the smiths’ part of the spectacle was the most gaudy: they had their
forge in full work, and were attended by a very high phaeton adorned in
every way they could think of—the horses covered with flowers, gilt
stars, and coloured streamers. In this phaeton sat the most beautiful
woman they could possibly procure, as wife to their patron, Vulcan. It
is unnecessary to describe her dress: suffice it to say, it approached
that of a Venus as nearly as decency would permit: a blue scarf, covered
with silver doves, was used at her discretion, and four or five little
Cupids, apparently naked, with goose wings stuck to their shoulders,
(aiming with bows and arrows at the ladies in the windows,) played at
her feet.—On one side rode, on the largest horse which could be
provided, a huge fellow, representing Vulcan, dressed _cap-à-pie_ in
coal-black armour, and flourishing an immense smith’s sledge-hammer as
if it had been a light toy!—On the other side pranced his rival, Mars,
on a tawdry-caparisoned charger, in shining armour (with an immensity of
feathers and horse-hair), and brandishing a two-edged glittering sword
six or eight feet long—Venus meantime seeming to pay much more attention
to her gallant than to her husband. Behind the phaeton rode Argus, with
an immense peacock’s tail; whilst numerous other gods and goddesses,
saints, devils, satyrs, &c. were distributed in the procession, on
carriages painted with clouds for the _gods_, and blue flames for the

The skinners and tanners seemed to undergo no slight penance—a
considerable number of these artisans being dressed up close in sheep
and goat skins of different colours. The representatives of the butchers
were enveloped in hides, with towering horns, and rode along brandishing
knives, marrowbones, and cleavers!—a most formidable-looking
corporation! The apothecaries made up and distributed pills and boluses
on their platform, which was furnished with numerous metal pestles and
mortars, so contrived and tuned as to sound, in the grinding, like bells
ringing some popular air.—Each corporation had its appropriate band and
colours; perfect order was maintained; and so proud was the Dublin mob
of what they called their _fringes_,[47] that on this peculiar occasion
they managed to behave with great decorum and propriety.


Footnote 47:



But the crowd seemed always in the most anxious expectation to see _the
tailors_, who were certainly the favourites. The master-tailors usually
borrowed the best horses from their _gentlemen_ customers; and as they
were not accustomed to horseback, the scene was certainly highly
ludicrous. A tailor on a spirited horse has ever been esteemed a
curiosity; but a troop of a hundred and fifty or two hundred tailors,
all decked with ribbons and lace and every species of finery, on horses
equally adorned, presented a spectacle outvying description! Their great
difficulty in keeping their seats was extremely amusing.—But when the
beast was _too obstreperous_, a couple of tawdry apprentices led
him:—this precaution, however, did not prevent occasional misadventures.
The journeymen and apprentices walked—except that number of workmen on
the platform. St. Crispin with his last, St. Andrew with his cross, and
St. Luke with his gridiron, were all included in the show; as were the
city officers in their full robes and paraphernalia. The guild of
merchants, being under the especial patronage of the _Holy Trinity_,
could not, with all their ingenuity, find out any unprofane emblem,
except a _shamrock_, of huge dimensions! the three _distinct_ leaves
whereof are on _one_ stalk. This, by the way, offered St. Patrick means
of explaining the Trinity, and thereby of converting the Irish to
Christianity; and hence the shamrock became the national emblem of
Ireland. The merchants had also a large ship on wheels, drawn and manned
by _real_ sailors.

This singular procession I twice witnessed: it has since been abolished,
after having worked well, and done no harm, from the days of the very
first lord mayor of Dublin. The city authorities, however, began at
length to think venison and claret would be better things for the same
expense; and so it was decided that the money should remain in the purse
of the corporation, and a wretched substitute for the old ceremony was
arranged. The lord mayor and sheriffs, with some dozen of dirty
constables, now perambulate these bounds in privacy and silence;—thus
defeating, in my mind, the very _intention_ of their charter, and taking
away a triennial prospective object of great attraction and pride to the
inhabitants of the metropolis of Ireland, for the sole purpose of
gratifying the sensual appetites of a city aristocracy, who court
satiety and indigestion at the expense of their humbler brethren.

The unnecessary abolition of all ancient ceremonies is impolitic. Such
as that of which I speak, tended to keep up an honest feeling of
national pride, and to mark epochas in time: gratifying the humbler
classes by giving them the prospect, although a distant one, of an
attractive object adapted to their taste, their habits, and their
station. The _fringes_ were a spur to industry, and the poor people took
great pride therein.

                            IRISH REBELLION.

Rebellion in Ireland, in 1798—Mr. Waddy’s castle—A priest cut in two by
  the portcullis, and partly eaten by Waddy—Dinner-party at Lady
  Colclough’s—Names and characters of the company, including Mr. Bagenal
  Harvey, Captain Keogh, &c.—Most of them executed soon after—Tour
  through and state of County Wexford, after the battles and storming of
  the town—Colonel Walpole killed and his regiment defeated at
  Gorey—Unaccountable circumstance of Captain Keogh’s head not decaying.

Many incidents which, I really think, could not have occurred in any
country except Ireland, took place in the year 1798. There is something
so very different from other people in every deed or word of the
unsophisticated Irish, that in fact one has no right to be surprised,
whatever scenes may be acted by them.

One of these curious occurrences remains even to this day a subject of
surmise and mystery. During the rebellion in County Wexford in 1798, Mr.
Waddy, a violent ultra loyalist, surrounded by a neighbourhood of
inveterate insurgents, to whom he had made himself peculiarly obnoxious,
fled to a castle at a considerable distance from the town of Wexford.
Though out of repair, it was not unfit for habitation; and might secure
its tenant from any _coup de main_ of undisciplined insurgents. He
dreaded discovery so much, that he would entrust his place of refuge to
no person whatsoever; and, as he conceived, took sufficient food to last
until he might escape out of the country. There was but one entrance to
the castle, and that was furnished with an old portcullis, which drew up
and let down as in ancient fortresses.

Here Mr. Waddy concealed himself; and every body was for a long time
utterly ignorant as to his fate:—some said he was drowned in the Slaney;
some, burned alive; others, murdered and buried in ploughed ground! But
while each was willing to give an opinion as to the mode of his
destruction, no one supposed him to be still alive. At length, it
occurred to certain of his friends to seek him through the country; with
which view they set out, attended by an armed body! Every wood and ruin
was explored; but their search was vain, until approaching by chance an
old castle, they became aware of a stench, which the seekers conjectured
to proceed from the putrid corpse of murdered Waddy. On getting nearer,
this opinion was confirmed; a dead body lay half within and half without
the castle, which the descent of the old portcullis had crushed nearly
into equal portions. Poor Mr. Waddy was deeply lamented; and, though
with great disgust, they proceeded to remove that half of the carcase
which lay outside the entrance—when, to their infinite astonishment,
they perceived that it was _not_ Waddy, but a neighbouring priest, who
had been so expertly cut in two;—how the thing had happened, nobody
could surmise. They now rapped and shouted—but no reply: Waddy, in good
truth, lay close within, supposing them to be rebels. At length, on
venturing to peep out, he discovered his friends, whom he joyfully
requested to raise, if possible, the portcullis, and let him out, as he
was almost starved to death.

This, with difficulty, was effected, and the other half of the priest
was discovered immediately within the entrance,—but by no means in
equally good condition with that outside; inasmuch as it appeared that
numerous collops and rump-steaks had been cut off the reverend
gentleman’s hind-quarters by Waddy, who, early one morning, had found
the priest thus divided; and being alike unable to raise the portcullis
or get out to look for food, (certain indeed, in the latter case, of
being piked by any of the rebels who knew him,) he thought it better to
feed on the priest, and remain in the castle till fortune smiled, than
run a risk of breaking all his bones by dropping from the
battlements—his only alternative.

To the day of Waddy’s death, he could give no collected or rational
account how this incident occurred:—indeed, so confused had his head
become in consequence of his critical circumstances, that the whole
appeared to him ever after as a dream or vision quite beyond his

The foregoing, though among the most curious, is but one of the
extraordinary occurrences of that dreadful insurrection—some of which
tend to strengthen my superstitious feeling, which is, I confess, very
deep-rooted, as also is my conviction, that “whatever is, is
right!”—Scarcely any except the _fortunate_ will, I suppose, be ready to
join me in the latter notion, though in the former I am aware I have
many associates, particularly among old women and hypochondriacs: I am,
it is true, perpetually laughed at for both by what are termed _clever_
ladies and _strong-minded_ gentlemen, but still think proper to retain
my own impressions.

I will detail the following circumstance in illustration of these
principles. It took place immediately previous to the breaking out of
the rebellion.

I dined at the house of Lady Colclough (a near relative of Lady
Barrington), in the town of Wexford, in April, 1798. The company, so far
as I now recollect, consisted of about sixteen persons, among whom were
several other of Lady Barrington’s relatives (then members of the
grand-jury): Mr. Cornelius Grogan, of Johnstown, a gentleman, seventy
years old, of very large fortune, who had represented the county; his
two brothers, both wealthy men; Captain Keogh, afterward rebel governor
of Wexford, the husband of Lady B.’s aunt; the unfortunate John
Colclough, of Tintern, and the still more unfortunate Mr. Colclough;
Counsellor John Beauman; Counsellor Bagenal Harvey, afterward the rebel
generalissimo; Mr. William Hatton, a rebel director in Wexford; and some
others. The conversation after dinner turning on the distracted state of
the country, became rather too free, and I begged some of the party to
be more moderate, as our ways of thinking were so different, and my
public situation did not permit me, especially at that particular
period, to hear such strong language: the loyalists among us did not
exceed five or six (exclusive of ladies, whose politics nobody minds).

The tone of the conversation was soon changed, but not before I had made
up my mind as to the probable fate of several in company, though I
certainly had no idea that, in little more than a month, a sanguinary
rebellion would desolate my native land, and violent deaths, within
_three_ months, befall a considerable proportion of that joyous
assemblage. I had seen enough, however, to convince me that all was not
right; and that, by plunging one step further, most of my relatives and
friends would be in imminent danger. The party however broke up; and
next morning, Counsellor Beauman and myself, happening to meet on the
bridge, talked over the occurrences of the previous day, uniting in
opinion as to the inauspicious aspect of things, and actually proceeding
to sketch out a list of those among the dinner-party whom we considered
likely to fall victims!—and it so turned out that _every one_ of our
predictions was verified! It was superficial observation alone that led
me to think as I did at that moment, but a decided presentiment of what
eventually happened soon after took possession of me; and indeed so full
was I of forebodings, that I was more than once roused out of my sleep
by the horrid ideas floating through my mind as to the fate of
connexions for whom I had a warm affection.

Bagenal Harvey (already mentioned in this work), who had been my
school-fellow and constant circuit-companion for many years, laughed, at
Lady Colclough’s, at my political prudery; assured me I was totally
wrong in suspecting him; and insisted on my going to Bargay Castle, his
residence, to meet some old Temple friends of ours on the ensuing
Monday;—my relative Captain Keogh was to be of the party.

I accordingly went there to dinner; but that evening proved to me one of
great uneasiness, and made a very disagreeable impression both on my
mind and spirits. The company I met included, besides the host, Mr.
Cornelius Grogan; Captain Keogh; the two unfortunate Counsellors Sheers,
who were both hung shortly afterward; Mr. Colclough, who was hung on the
bridge; Mr. Hay, who was also executed; Mr. William Hatton, one of the
rebel directory of Wexford, who unaccountably escaped; and a gentleman
of the bar whose name I shall not mention, as he still lives. In fact,
_seven_ of the company were soon afterward headless.

The entertainment was good, and the party cheerful. Temple freaks were
talked over; the bottle circulated: but, at length, Irish politics
became the topic, and proceeded to an extent of disclosure which utterly
surprised me. With the Messrs. Sheers (particularly Henry) I had always
been on terms of the greatest intimacy: I had extricated both of them
not long before from considerable difficulty, through the kindness of
Lord Kilwarden; and I had no idea that matters wherein they were
concerned had proceeded to the lengths developed on that night. The
probability of a speedy revolt was freely discussed, though in the most
artful manner, not a word of either of the party committing themselves,
or indeed any one else: but they talked it over as a result which might
be expected from the complexion of the times and the irritation excited
in consequence of the severities exercised by the government. The
chances of success, in the event of a rising, were openly debated, as
were also the circumstances likely to spring from that success, and the
examples which the insurgents would in such a case probably make. The
Marquess of Ely and Lord Clare they looked upon as persons not likely to
be spared. All this was at the same time talked over, without one word
being uttered in favour of rebellion;—a system of caution which, I
afterward learned, was much practised for the purpose of gradually
making proselytes without alarming them. I, however, saw through it
clearly, and here my presentiments came strong upon me. I found myself
in the midst of absolute though unavowed conspirators. I perceived that
the explosion was much nearer than the government expected; and was
startled at the decided manner in which my host and his friends spoke.
The barrister whom I have mentioned but not _named_ did not reside in
that province, and had no connexion with it that I ever heard of. I
therefore saw that he was an _envoy_. He has, I believe, never been
publicly committed in that business.

Under these circumstances, my alternative was evidently to quit the
house, or give a turn to the conversation. I therefore began to laugh at
the subject, and ridicule it as quite visionary, observing jestingly to
Keogh—“Now, my dear Keogh, it is quite clear that you and I, in this
famous rebellion, shall be on different sides of the question; and of
course one or the other of us must necessarily be hanged at or before
its termination—I upon a lamp-iron in Dublin, or you on the bridge of
Wexford. Now, we’ll make a bargain!—if we beat you, upon my honour I’ll
do all I can to save your neck; and if your folks beat us, _you’ll_ save
_me_ from the honour of the lamp-iron!”

A hearty laugh ensued, and my health was drunk in a bumper.

We shook hands on the bargain, and the whole after-talk assumed a
cheerful character. But I returned to Wexford at twelve at night, with a
most decided impression of the danger of the country, and a complete
presentiment that either myself or Captain Keogh would never see the
conclusion of that summer.

I immediately wrote to Mr. Secretary Cooke, without mentioning names,
place, or any particular source of knowledge; but simply to assure him
that there was not a doubt that an insurrection would break out at a
much earlier period than the government contemplated. I desired him to
ask me no questions, because I could give him no _details_, my ideas
being the free result of observation: however, I said that he might
_depend_ upon the _fact_; adding that a commanding force ought instantly
to be sent down to garrison the _town_ of Wexford, which might prevent
any rising. “If the government,” said I, in conclusion, “does not attend
to my warning, it must take the consequences.” My warning was purposely
disregarded; but his Majesty’s government soon found I was right. They
lost Wexford, and might have lost Ireland, by that culpable inattention.

The result need scarcely be mentioned; many members of that jovial
dinner-party were executed within three months! and on my next visit to
Wexford, I saw the heads of Captain Keogh, Mr. Harvey, and Mr.
Colclough, on spikes over the court-house door.

Previously to the final catastrophe, however, when the insurgents had
been beaten, Wexford retaken by our troops, and Keogh made prisoner, I
did not forget my promise to him at Bargay Castle. He was a good man and
a respectable gentleman, and I would have gone any length to save him.
Many certificates had reached Dublin of his humanity to the royalists
whilst the town of Wexford was under his government, and of attempts
made upon _his_ life by Dixon, a brutal chief of his own party, for his
endeavouring to resist the rebel butcheries. I had intended to go with
these directly to Lord Camden, the lord lieutenant; but I first saw Mr.
Secretary Cooke, to whom I related the entire story, and showed him
several favourable documents. I begged he would come with me to the lord
lieutenant, whom the aide-de-camp in waiting had informed me would
receive me forthwith. He told me I might save myself the trouble of
going to Lord Camden; and at the same time handed me a despatch received
that morning from General Lake, who stated that he had thought it
necessary, on recapturing Wexford, to lose no time in “_making
examples_” of the rebel chiefs; and that accordingly, Mr. Grogan, of
Johnstown, Mr. Bagenal Harvey, of Bargay Castle, Captain Keogh, Mr.
Colclough, and some other gentlemen, had been hanged on the bridge and
beheaded the previous morning.

I felt shocked beyond measure at this intelligence,—particularly as I
knew Mr. Cornelius Grogan (an excellent gentleman, seventy years of age,
of very large fortune and establishments,) to be no more a rebel than
myself. Being unable, from infirmity, to walk without assistance, he was
_led_ to execution.—His case was, in fact, most pitiable: he was
decidedly _murdered_ according to _municipal_ law, but which at that
period was totally superseded by “_martial_ law,” which in many
instances was most _savagely_ resorted to.

I was at all times ready and willing to risk my life to put down that
spirit of mad democracy which sought to subvert all legal institutions,
and to support every true principle of the constitution which protected
us: but at the same time I must in truth and candour say (and I say it
with reluctance), that, during those sanguinary scenes, the brutal
conduct of certain frantic _royalists_ was at _least_ on a parallel with
that of the frantic _rebels_.

Immediately after the recapture of Wexford, I traversed that county, to
see the ruins which had been occasioned by warfare. Enniscorthy had been
twice stormed, and was dilapidated and nearly burned. New Ross showed
melancholy relics of the obstinate and bloody battle of full ten hours’
duration, which had been fought in every street of it; when Lord
Mountjoy fell, at the head of his regiment, by the fire of a rebel named
Shepherd, who singled him out at the three billet-gate:—his regiment
instantly retreated, and the triumphant rebel advanced and took his
lordship’s watch out of his pocket. The man afterward showed it me in
Dublin, when I took him as a witness on the attainder bill before the
House of Commons. Lord Clare wanted to take it, and to send him to
Newgate;—but I had brought him up on an _amnesty_, and government
supported _me_. The numerous pits crammed with dead bodies, on Vinegar
Hill, seemed on some spots actually elastic as we stood upon them;
whilst the walls of an old windmill on its summit appeared stained and
splashed with the blood and brains of the many victims who had been
piked or shot against it by the rebels. The court-house of Enniscorthy,
wherein our troops had burned alive above eighty of the wounded rebels;
and the barn of Scullabogue, where the rebels had retaliated by burning
alive above one hundred and twenty Protestants—were terrific ruins! The
town of Gorey was utterly destroyed,—not a house being left perfect; and
the bodies of the killed were lying half-covered in sundry ditches in
its vicinity. It was here that Colonel Walpole had been defeated and
killed a few days before.[48]


Footnote 48:

  No man ever came to a violent death more unwarily! Colonel Walpole was
  a peculiarly handsome man, an aide-de-camp to Lord Camden. With
  somewhat of the air of a _petit-maître_, he fluttered much about the
  drawing-room of the Castle:—but, as he had not seen actual service, he
  felt a sort of military inferiority to veterans, who had spent the
  early part of their lives in blowing other people’s brains out; and he
  earnestly begged to be entrusted with some command that might give him
  an opportunity of fighting for a few weeks in the County Wexford, and
  of writing some elegant despatches to his excellency the lord
  lieutenant. The lord lieutenant most kindly indulged him with a body
  of troops, and sent him to fight in the County Wexford, as he
  requested: but on passing the town of Gorey, not being accustomed to
  advanced-guards or flankers, he overlooked such trifles altogether!
  and having got into a defile with some cannon and the Antrim
  regiment,—in a few minutes the colonel was shot through the head—the
  cannon changed masters—and most of the Antrim heroes had each a pike,
  ten or twelve feet long, sticking in his carcase:—“Sic transit gloria


An unaccountable circumstance was witnessed by me on that tour
immediately after the retaking of Wexford. General Lake, as I have
before mentioned, had ordered the heads of Mr. Grogan, Captain Keogh,
Mr. Bagenal Harvey, and Mr. Colclough, to be placed on very low spikes
over the court-house door of Wexford. A faithful servant of Mr. Grogan
had taken away his head; but the other three remained there when I
visited the town. The countenances of friends and relatives, in such a
situation, would, it may be imagined, give any man most horrifying
sensations! The heads of Mr. Colclough and Harvey seemed black lumps,
the features being utterly undistinguishable; that of Keogh was
uppermost, but the air had made comparatively little impression on it!
His comely and respect-inspiring face (except the livid hue) appeared
nearly as in life: his eyes were not closed—his thin hair did not look
much ruffled: in fact, it seemed to me rather as a head of chiselled
marble, with glass eyes, than as the lifeless remains of a human
creature:—this singular appearance I never could get any medical man
satisfactorily to explain.[49] I prevailed on General Hunter, who then
commanded in Wexford, to suffer the three heads to be taken down and


Footnote 49:

  It has occurred to me, that the very great difference in the look of
  the heads might proceed from the following causes:—Messrs. Harvey and
  Colclough were hanged on the bridge, and their bodies suffered to lie
  some time before they were decapitated. The effect of strangulation
  made the faces black; and the blood cooling and stagnating, this black
  colour remained. Keogh had been decapitated as soon as cut down;—the
  _warm_ blood was therefore _totally discharged_ from the head, and the
  face became _livid_, no stagnate blood remaining to blacken it. If the
  thing had not been public, it might have been doubted. It is now
  thirty years past, and I can divine no other reason for so curious a
  circumstance; and army surgeons in Paris (I suppose the best in the
  world) tell me that my conjecture is perfectly well-founded.


                               WOLF TONE.

Counsellor Theobald Wolf Tone—His resemblance to Mr. Croker—He is
  ordered to be hanged by a military court—General Craig attached in the
  court of Common Pleas—Tone’s attempt at suicide—Cruel suggestion
  respecting him.

Theobald Wolf Tone was one of the most remarkable of the persons who
lost their lives in consequence of that wild democratic mania, which, at
the period treated of in the former sketch, had seized upon the reason
of so many otherwise sensible individuals. His catastrophe cannot fail
to be interesting:—it affected me much.

This gentleman’s enthusiastic mind was eternally surrounded by the mist
of visionary speculation: it was a fine sailer, but wanted ballast. He
had distinguished himself somewhat in the University as a desultory
declaimer; but, in my judgment, that was the full extent of his
oratorical powers. He was neither high-born nor wealthy:—in fact, I fear
even a certain competency was not at his command; and hence his spirit,
naturally restless, was additionally goaded and inflamed. He had no
steady pursuit; nor was his nature adapted to mental labour:—of
_personal_ activity he had abundance; but was deficient in judgment, and
absolutely destitute of cool common sense.

Yet Wolf Tone possessed considerable talent, together with great
personal firmness and intrepidity; but he knew not the time, place, or
manner of turning these gifts to his advantage. His best qualities were
squandered—his worst exposed; and there was a total absence of that
consolidating power which draws such abilities to a focus.

It is a curious circumstance that Mr. Tone, a decided revolutionist,
married (improvidently enough) one sister, whilst Mr. Thomas Reynolds,
who betrayed the revolutionary friends of Tone and of himself, espoused

Tone was called to the Irish bar; but had been previously over-rated by
the Historical Society, and did not succeed. I thought it a pity (as he
was really a very good-hearted person) that he should not be fairly
tried, and, if possible, pushed forward; and being myself high on the
circuit, I took him round in my carriage three circuits, and thought
well of him; but he was too light and visionary; and as for law, I found
that species of science quite uncongenial to him. His person was
unfavourable, and not gentlemanly; and he had not been much in
society:—his countenance was thin and sallow; and he had in his speech a
harsh guttural pronunciation of the letter _R_. Mr. Croker, of the
Admiralty, resembles him in personal appearance greatly, but is much
Tone’s inferior in elocution. Had Tone had the _hundredth_ part of Mr.
Croker’s _tact_ and _skill_ in working upward, he might this day have
been living and happy.

It is my belief that Tone _could_ not have succeeded in any steady civil
profession. He was not worldly enough, nor had he sufficient
collectedness for his guidance. His biography has been repeatedly
published, and I only intend here to allude to the extraordinary
circumstances of his death;—an event upon which I confess I had many
painful feelings, and not the less so from its being connected with my
own judicial functions.

He had been taken in arms by Sir John Borlase Warren, at sea, in a
French frigate, proceeding to land troops in Ireland. He wore the
uniform of a French officer; but being recognised, brought prisoner to
Dublin, and delivered over for trial to the provost-marshal and military
authorities, he was of course condemned to be hanged. I did not see him
under these distressing circumstances, nor in truth was it my wish to do
so; for although there existed between us no actual friendship, still I
had a strong feeling for a gentleman with whom I had been so well

It occurred to his counsel that the jurisdiction of martial law could
not extend to him, as it only operated on land, and he had been taken at
sea. An application was therefore made to the Common Pleas to have him
brought up by habeas corpus, in order (the point being ascertained) to
be regularly tried before the competent tribunal—the Court of Admiralty.
The habeas corpus being granted, was served on General Craig, who then
commanded in Dublin; but who, considering (as all the generals then did)
that the municipal judges were no more than corporals or quarter-masters
with respect to his Majesty’s forces, refused to obey it, and was
attacked for his disobedience; an order was immediately made for the
general, the provost-marshal, brigade-major, and some others, to be
taken into custody by the officers of the court of Common Pleas

To me (as judge of the Admiralty) this appeal was most distressing. Had
Tone the least chance of escape in any court, or upon any trial, it
might have been otherwise; but he could not be defended; and to have him
brought before me only to witness his conviction, and to pronounce his
sentence, shocked me extremely. His friends thought this course might
prolong his fate a considerable time, and it was supposed that something
might intermediately occur calculated to effect a commutation of the
capital punishment. I knew better! I was convinced that his execution
was determined on: it was unavoidable, and I felt _great_ uneasiness.

The court having, as I have said, ordered General Craig and Major Sandys
(provost-marshal) to be arrested for disobedience, both these gentlemen,
after some hesitation, submitted to the arrest, and the _pursuivant_ was
then directed to bring up the body of Theobald Wolf Tone, on the writ of
habeas corpus.—The judges sat patiently awaiting the officer’s return;
and the decision being of great importance, the court was crowded to

A considerable time elapsed, and still the _pursuivant_ returned not. At
length he appeared, with horror in his looks, and scarcely able to
speak. He informed the court that Mr. Tone, feeling certain of execution
by order of the military, and being ignorant of the motion which his
friends thought might give him some chance for his life, had cut his
throat from ear to ear, and, he believed, was dying! A surgeon now
attended, who reported that the prisoner had certainly cut his throat,
but that recovery was possible: the incision was long and deep, but had
missed the artery, and he still lived. Of course the trial was
postponed; every friend he had (and I think he had many amongst the bar)
rejoicing that poor Tone had escaped a public execution. He lingered
awhile:—and will it be believed, that when the wound had been connected,
and whilst life still seemed to be precarious, owing to the extreme
inflammation,—I say, will it be believed that there existed cruelty
sufficient in the breast of any human creature to advise his
execution—though it would have been impossible to put the sentence in
force without inserting the rope within the wound, and nearly tearing
away the unfortunate gentleman’s head from his body?—Yet such advice was
positively given, for “the sake of example;”—and rejected, I am happy to
say, with horror! I will spare the man who gave it the ignominy which
would thence attach to his name were it mentioned.

                            DUBLIN ELECTION.

My contest for Dublin city—Supported by Grattan, Ponsonby, Plunkett, and
  Curran—Singularity of a canvass for Dublin—The election—Curious
  incidents—Grattan’s famous philippic, never before published—Memoirs
  of Mr. John Giffard, called the “dog in office”—Horish the
  chimney-sweeper’s bon-mot.

In 1803, I had become particularly popular in Dublin. I was not at
enmity with any sect or party. The losses and deprivations which the
citizens of Dublin were suffering in consequence of the Union, brought
to their recollection the fact of my having been one of its most zealous
opponents. They knew that I had entertained professional ambition; and
they also knew that, in order to oppose that measure, and support the
independence of the nation as well as my own, I had with open eyes
sacrificed all the objects of my ambition;—that I had refused the most
gratifying proposals; and, in maintenance of principle, had set my face
decidedly against the measures of that government which I had on other
occasions supported, and which alone possessed the power to advance me.
They knew that I had braved the animosity of Chancellor Clare, whom few
had ever ventured to oppose so decidedly as myself; and that I had
utterly renounced Lord Castlereagh, by whom all means were employed to
attach me. In fact, the citizens of Dublin recollected that I had
abandoned _every_ prospect in life to uphold their interest;[50] and
consequently many persons on both sides of politics had proposed to me
to become a candidate for the representation of the metropolis in
Parliament. Some entire corporations voted me their freedom and support;
and a great number of the freeholders tendered me their aid. Having, in
addition, an extensive personal interest of my own, I at length
determined to stand the contest.


Footnote 50:

  This observation is fully verified. I anticipated the consequences of
  an _imperium in imperio_, which the Union inevitably produced; and
  which always evades the claims and advancement of bold, independent
  men, preferring those who have more pliability, _discretion_, and
  tact, for the management of second-hand rulers and authorities.


Persons of the first weight and rank came forward in my favour; and
among these I am proud to enumerate—His Grace the Duke of Leinster, Mr.
Grattan, Mr. George Ponsonby, Mr. Curran, Mr. Plunkett, many of the most
respectable members of my own profession, and numerous private
gentlemen. Indeed, the mode in which I was brought forward, and the
parties by whom I was encouraged, could not but gratify me highly.

The city, however, immediately divided into two inveterate factions,—one
of which declared for Mr. Beresford, the banker, and Mr. Ogle, the
Orange chieftain; whilst the other supported Mr. Latouche and myself. A
fifth gentleman, Sir John Jervoise White Jervoise, Bart., also announced
himself a candidate, on the strength of his own personal connexions and
individual property in the city, backed by any second votes he could
pick up amongst the rest.

Dublin differs from London in this respect—inasmuch as there must be an
_individual_ canvass, requiring hard labour of at least two months or
ten weeks, by day and by night, to get through it cleverly. One custom
alone takes up an immensity of time, which, though I believe it never
existed any where else, has the semblance of good sense to recommend it.
The grand corporation of Dublin comprises twenty-five minor corporations
or trades, each independent of the other; and all (knowing their own
importance previous to an election, and their insignificance after it is
over) affect the state and authority of a Venetian senate, and say
(shrewdly enough), “How can we, ignorant men! tell who is fittest to
represent Dublin till we have an opportunity of knowing their
abilities?” And for the purpose of acquiring this knowledge, each
corporation appoints a day to receive the candidates in due formality in
its hall; and each candidate is then called on to make an oration, in
order to give the electors power of judging as to his capability to
speak in parliament. So that, in the progress of his canvass, every
candidate must make twenty-four or twenty-six speeches in his best
style! Nothing can be more amusing than the gravity and decorum,
wherewith the journeymen barbers,[51] hosiers, skinners, cooks, &c. &c.
receive the candidates, listen to their fine florid harangues, and then
begin to debate amongst themselves as to their comparative merits; and,
in truth, assume as much importance as the diplomatists at Vienna, with
intentions to the full as wholesome.


Footnote 51:

  These gentry, not many years since, addressed the Duke of York as “the
  corporation of surgeons,”—i. e. _barber-surgeons_. The address was
  replied to without its being known that they were only shavers and


However, I got through my canvass of nearly three months, and remained
tolerably in my senses at the conclusion of it: though, most
undoubtedly, I drank as much porter and whisky with the electors
themselves, and as much tea and cherry-brandy with their wives, as would
have ended my days on any other occasion. But I loved the people of
Dublin; I had lived more than thirty years among them; was upon good
terms with all parties and societies; and, if elected, I should have
been a very faithful, and I trust, an effective representative.

The humours of an Irish canvass can only be known to those who have
witnessed them; and, I believe, no election, even in Ireland, ever gave
rise to more of what is termed real _fun_. Most of the incidents are too
trivial and too local for detail: but there were some so ludicrous,
that, even at this moment, I can scarce refrain from laughing at their

Never was a business of the kind conducted with more spirit; and, at the
same time, a degree of good temper prevailed, not to have been expected
in a contest which called into play the most fiery and rancorous party
feelings; and the genuine stream of humour that steadily flowed on, had
a great effect in washing away any marks of ill-blood.

It is with pride I relate that the four voters who formed my first tally
were, Mr. George Ponsonby[52] (afterward lord chancellor), Mr. Henry
Grattan, Mr. William Plunkett (the present attorney-general), and Mr.
John Philpott Curran (afterward master of the rolls); and that the two
former accompanied their votes by far more than merited eulogiums. No
candidate on any election in Ireland ever yet exhibited so talented a


Footnote 52:

  “My reason,” said Mr. Ponsonby, on the hustings, “for proposing Mr.
  Barrington for the representation of the city of Dublin is—that I have
  known him as my _friend_, and I have known him as my _enemy_; and, in
  either character, have found him ‘an _honest man_.’”


I lost the election: but I polled to the end of the fifteen days, and
the last tally; and had the gratification of thinking that I broke the
knot of a virulent ascendancy, was the means of Mr. Latouche’s success,
and likewise of Mr. Grattan’s subsequent return.

In the course of that election many curious incidents occurred; and as
every thing which relates to Mr. Grattan, and tends to elucidate the
character and peculiarities of that most pure and eminent of my
countrymen, must necessarily be interesting (anecdotes, which, as
cotemporaries are dropping fast around me, would, if not now recorded,
be lost for ever,)—I feel myself justified in detailing a few, though in
themselves of no particular importance.

In the days of unsophisticated patriotism, when the very name of Grattan
operated as a spell to rouse the energies and spirit of his
country;—when the schisms of party bigotry had yielded to the common
weal, and public men were sure to obtain that public gratitude they
merited;—the corporation of Dublin (in some lucid interval of the
sottish malady which has ever distinguished that inconsiderate and
intemperate body) obtained a full-length portrait of Henry Grattan, then
termed their great deliverer. His name graced their corporate rolls as
an hereditary freeman,[53] when the jealous malice of that rancorous and
persevering enemy of every man opposed to him, the Earl of Clare, in a
secret committee of the House of Lords, introduced into their report
some lines of a deposition by one Hughes (a rebel who had been made a
witness, and was induced to coin evidence to save his own life),
detailing a conversation which he alleged himself to have had with Mr.
Grattan, wherein the latter had owned that he was a United Irishman.
Every body knew the total falsity of this. Indeed, Mr. Grattan was, on
the other hand, a man whose principles had been on certain occasions
considered too aristocratic; and yet he was now denounced, in the slang
of the lord chancellor, “an _infernal democrat_!” The corporation of
Dublin caught the sound, and, without one atom of inquiry, tore down
from their walls the portrait which had done _them_ so much honour, and
unceremoniously expelled Mr. Grattan from the corporation without trial
or even notice; thus proclaiming one of the most loyal and
constitutional subjects of the British empire to be a rebel and
incendiary. He despised and took no notice of their extravagance, but
nevertheless sorely felt their ingratitude.


Footnote 53:

  Mr. Grattan’s father had been recorder of Dublin and representative in
  parliament for that city.


On the election in question, I was proposed by Mr. George Ponsonby; and
upon Mr. Grattan rising next to vote upon my tally, he was immediately
objected to as having been expelled on the report of Lord Clare’s
committee. A burst of indignation on the one side, and of boisterous
declamation on the other, forthwith succeeded. It was of an alarming
nature: Grattan meanwhile standing silent, and regarding, with a smile
of the most ineffable contempt ever expressed, his shameless accusers.
The objection was made by Mr. John Giffard—of whom hereafter. On the
first intermission of the tumult, with a calm and dignified air, but in
that energetic style and tone so peculiar to himself, Mr. Grattan
delivered the following memorable words—memorable, because conveying in
a few short sentences the most overwhelming, although certainly
hyperbolical philippic—the most irresistible assemblage of terms
imputing public depravity, that the English, or, I believe, any other
language, is capable of affording:—

“Mr. Sheriff, when I observe the quarter from whence the objection
comes, I am not surprised at him who made it;—the hired traducer of his
country—the excommunicated of his fellow-citizens—the regal rebel—the
unpunished ruffian—the bigotted agitator!—In the city a firebrand—in the
court a liar—in the streets a bully—in the field a coward!—And so
obnoxious is he to the very party he wishes to espouse, that he is only
supportable by doing those dirty acts the less vile refuse to execute!”

Giffard, thunderstruck, lost his usual assurance; and replied, in one
single sentence, “I would _spit_ upon him in a desert!”—which vapid
exclamation was his sole retort!

I called for the roll, and, on inspection, the form of erasing Mr.
Grattan’s name appeared to have been omitted. Of course, the objection
was overruled,—my friend voted, and his triumph was complete.

The erasure of his name from the roll was never afterward attempted;
and, on the dissolution of that parliament, he was requested by the very
same body to stand forward as their “most illustrious countryman!” and
elected by acclamation in that very same court-house, as the
representative of the city and corporation which had so recently
endeavoured to debase and destroy him; his chairing being attended with
enthusiasm by those who some time before would with equal zeal have
attended his execution. Never was there exhibited a more complete proof
of causeless popular versatility; which, indeed, was repeatedly
practised on that _genuine_ patriot.—It totally disgusted me;—and for
ever banished from my mind the charm of _vulgar popularity_, which
envelopes _patriots_ only to render their fall the more conspicuous. If
a public character acts conscientiously, the less he _seeks_ for
popularity the more certainly he will _acquire_ it, and the longer it
will adhere to him.

Mr. John Giffard, the subject of the foregoing philippic, was a very
remarkable person. He had a great deal of vulgar talent; a daring
impetuosity; and was wholly indifferent to public opinion. From first to
last he fought his way through the world; and finally worked himself up
to be the most sturdy partisan I ever recollect in the train of
government. His detestation of the Pope and his adoration of King
William he carried to an excess quite ridiculous; in fact, on both
subjects he seemed occasionally delirious. His life had many curious
incidents connected with it; and as it would be wrong that a name so
frequently occurring in the local history of Ireland should remain
unnoticed, I have, therefore, in these fragments introduced it.

I did not agree with Mr. Grattan as to the epithets wherewith he
honoured the captain. “A coward” he most certainly was not; and, with
all his faults, he had several qualities which in social intercourse are
highly valuable; and, hence, it is just to make a clear distinction
between his private and his public character. He was as sincere,
warm-hearted, and friendly a person as I ever met with; and, on the
other hand, a bitterer enemy never existed: I do not think he ever was
_mine_, and I certainly never was _his_: indeed, I had a very great
regard for him in private, and sometimes in public—even against myself,
because I found him _sincere_. Our first difference arose on that
election, but never proceeded to any degree of hostility.

Giffard was originally an apothecary. When I was at the Dublin
University, the students were wild and lawless:—any offence to one was
considered as an offence to all; and as the elder sons of most men of
rank and fortune in Ireland were then educated in Dublin College, it was
dangerous to meddle with so powerful a set of students, who consequently
did precisely what they chose (outside the college-gates). If they
conceived offence against any body, the collegians made no scruple of
bringing the offender into the court, and pumping him well; and their
unanimity and numbers were so great, that it was quite impossible any
youth could be selected for punishment. In my time, we used to break
open what houses we pleased!—regularly beating the watch every night,
except in one parish, which we always kept in pay, to lend us their
poles wherewith to fight the others! In short, our conduct was
outrageous; and the first check we ever received was from Giffard, who
was a director of the watch, and resided close to the Parliament-house.

He having in some way annoyed the collegians, they determined to pump
Giffard; but they reckoned without their host! He entrenched himself in
his house, which we assailed, breaking all his windows. He gave repeated
warnings to no purpose; and a new assault being commenced, Giffard fired
a pistol, and a collegian was wounded in the wrist, whereupon the
assailants immediately raised the siege.

It was a lucky shot for Giffard, who immediately obtained some parochial
office for his firmness;—made himself of importance on every trifling
subject; and harangued constantly in the vestry. Of his subsequent
progress I know nothing till about the year 1790, when I became a public
character, and found Giffard an _attaché_ to the Castle in divers
capacities. He was afterward placed in the revenue department, became a
common-councilman, and at length high sheriff; at which epoch he
acquired the title which forsook him not, of “_The Dog in Office_,”
though wherefore, I could never rightly make out. His acts from that
period became part of the general statistical history of Irish politics.
One of his sons was butchered in cool blood by the rebels at Kildare,
which naturally increased the ferocity of the father. His eldest son,
Harding Giffard, and Mr. Croker of the Admiralty, married two sisters in
Waterford. Mr. Croker’s good luck enabled him to aid his relative, who,
having tried the Irish bar in vain for several years, has become chief
justice of Ceylon:—Mr. Croker himself (after _his_ unsuccessful
professional essay) being casually indebted to several persons of
celebrity for his very rapid elevation.

During the election we are speaking of, one Horish, a master
chimney-sweeper, appeared on the hustings. This man, being known to have
several votes at command besides his own, had been strongly canvassed,
but would promise none of the candidates, or give the least hint how he
intended to vote.

During the rebellion of 1798, Mr. John Beresford (one of the candidates)
had built a riding-house for his yeomanry troop in Marlborough Green,
which had been also much used as a place for whipping _suspected_
persons in, to make them _discover_ what in all probability they _never
knew_;—a practice equally just and humane, and liberally resorted to
(perhaps for sport) by military officers, pending that troublous era,
when martial law authorised every species of cruelty.

In Mr. Beresford’s riding-house this infernal system was carried on to a
greater extent than in any other place of execution then tolerated in
the metropolis:—to such an extent, indeed, that some Irish wags (who
never fail even upon the most melancholy occasions to exercise their
native humour) had one night the words, “Mangling done here by J.
Beresford and Co.” painted upon a sign-board, and fixed over the

It happened that this same Horish had been among those who had paid to
their king and country a full share of skin for the crime of being
anonymously suspected. He had not forgotten the couple of hundred lashes
on his bare carcase which he had received in Mr. Beresford’s
riding-house: but the circumstance (being of such an ordinary nature)
was, of course, totally forgotten by the candidate, notwithstanding the
tenacious sensation of the elector’s loins, where many a good thick welt
remained to remind him of the pastime.

Horish, a coarse, rough-looking, strong-built, independent, and at the
moment well-dressed brute of a fellow, remained quite coquettish as to
his votes. “Let me see!” said he, feeling his importance, and unwilling
to part with it, (which would be the case the moment he had polled,) and
looking earnestly at all the candidates,—“Let me see! who shall I vote
for?—I’m very hard to please, gentlemen, I assure you!” He hesitated: we
all pressed:—“Fair and easy, gentlemen,” said Horish, looking at each of
us again, “don’t hurry a man!”

“Barrington,” cried impatient Beresford, “I know that honest fellow
Horish will vote for me!” Horish stared, but said nothing.

“Indeed he will not,” replied I,—“eh, Horish?” Horish looked, but
remained silent.

“I’ll lay you a _rump and dozen_,” exclaimed Beresford, “on the matter!”

Horish now started into a sort of animation, but coolly replied:—“You’ll
lose that same rump and dozen, Mr. Beresford! ’twas many a _dozen_ you
gave my _r—p_ already in your riding-house, and to the devil I bob that
kind of entertainment! but if ever I have the honour of meeting you up a
chimney, depend on it, Mr. Beresford, I’ll treat you with all the
_civility_ imaginable!—Come, boys, we’ll poll away for the counsellor!”
and, under Horish’s influence, I was supported by every chimney-sweeper
in the city of Dublin (and there were many) who had a vote. I think he
brought me near twenty voters of one species or another.

                      ELECTION FOR COUNTY WEXFORD.

Mr. Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s contest for County Wexford, omitted by
  all his pseudo-biographers—Duel of Mr. Alcock and Mr. Colclough
  (candidates), on a question respecting Mr. Sheridan’s poll—Colclough
  killed—A lamentable incident—Mr. Alcock’s trial—He afterward goes mad
  and dies—His sister, Miss Alcock, also dies lunatic in
  consequence—Marquess of Ely tried for an outrage at Wexford, and

It is to be lamented that the biographers and eulogists of Richard
Brinsley Sheridan should have suppressed some of the most creditable
incidents of his variegated life, while his memory is disgraced by
pretended friends and literary admirers.

These writers have raked up from his ashes, and exposed to public
indignation, every failing of that great and gifted man:—so that, if
their own productions were by any chance to become permanent, they would
send him down to posterity as a witty, but low and dissipated _sharper_;
or, in their very best colouring, as the most talented of mean and
worthless mendicants. But Sheridan’s reputation will outlive all such
attempts to obliterate it; while the ignorance of his libellers is
conspicuous from their entire omission of some of the most interesting
events of his career, at the same time that others are vouched for,
which to my individual knowledge are gross misrepresentations.

Among the incidents that have been overlooked is one both extraordinary
and melancholy, and forming an honourable comment on Mr. Sheridan’s
public character. I was myself interested in the transaction;—and can
give it on my own responsibility. I am, indeed, most anxious to rescue
his memory from the rough hands which, in sketching their subject, have
placed the mane of the lion upon the shoulders of a mountebank.

In speaking thus, I deeply regret that one of these biographers should
be a man whom I esteem; and I regret it the more, since he has used poor
Sheridan as a chopping-block, whereon to hack the character of the most
illustrious person of the British empire, who (for the first time in his
life, I believe) has been accused of _pecuniary illiberality_. A
circumstance accidentally came to my knowledge to _prove_ that charge
the very reverse of truth. But an opportunity will be taken by me of
observing still more explicitly on these _friends_ of Mr. Sheridan.

At the general election of 1807, Mr. John Colclough, of Tintern Abbey,
County Wexford, a near relative of mine, (and _locum tenens_ of his
elder-brother, Mr. Cæsar Colclough, who had been long resident on the
continent,) declared himself for the second time candidate for Wexford
county, which he had represented in the previous parliament. The
Colclough estates were large, the freeholders thereon numerous, and
devoted to the interest of their patriotic leader, whose uncle, Mr. John
Grogan, of Johnstown Castle (also a relative of mine), possessed of a
very large fortune and extensive tenantry, had united with his nephew
and other most respectable and independent gentlemen of that county, to
liberate its representation from the trammels of certain noblemen who
had for many years usurped its domination. Mr. Colclough was determined
to put the pride, spirit, and patriotism of the county to proof; and
therefore, in the progress of the business, proposed Mr. Richard
Brinsley Sheridan as joint-candidate with himself, declaring that he was
authorised by the independent freeholders of the county to say, that
they should feel the greatest gratification in being represented by so
distinguished an ornament to the name of Irishman.

Mr. Colclough and Mr. Sheridan were therefore nominated on the one hand;
and Mr. Alcock, supported by the interest of the influenced electors, on
the other.

Never yet was any poll conducted by more resolute, active, and zealous
partisans; but it is lamentable to add that they were equally
intemperate as zealous. The _ignis fatuus_ of _patriotism_ had caught
the mass of the population; tenants no longer obeyed the dictates of
their absent landlords nor the menaces of tyrannic agents: no man could
count on the votes of his former vassals. The hustings was thronged with
crowds of tenantry, constitutionally breaking away from their shackles,
and voting according to their principles of free agency for Sheridan,—a
man known to them only by the celebrity of his talents. The poll
proceeded:—the independent party was advancing fast to success; and had
the election continued, there is little doubt that Mr. Sheridan would
have been a representative for Wexford county. At this crisis occurred
one of the most unfortunate and melancholy events on Irish record, and
by which the contest was terminated—as if the untoward destiny of
Sheridan withered every thing with which he came in contact.

Several tenants of a person who had given his interest to Mr. Alcock
absolutely refused to vote for that gentleman, declaring that, at every
risk, they would support Colclough and “the great Sheridan!” Mr.
Alcock’s partisans perverted the free agency of these men into seduction
on the part of Mr. Colclough: hence a feeling decidedly hostile was
excited; the fierce zeal and frenzy of election partisanship burst into
a flame; and Mr. Colclough was required to decline such votes, or to
receive them at his peril.

Of course he disregarded this outrageous threat, and open war ensued.
One party lost sight of reason;—both, of humanity; and it was
determined, that before the opening of next morning’s poll, the
candidates should decide, by single combat, the contested question, and
(of course) the election itself. With what indignation and horror must
such a resolution, at once assailing law, good morals, and decency, be
now regarded! and how will the feeling of surprise increase from its
being passed over with impunity!

Early on the eventful morning many hundred people assembled to witness
the affair; and it will scarcely be believed that no less than eleven or
twelve _county magistrates_ stood by, passive spectators of the bloody
scene which followed, without an effort, or apparently a wish, to stop
the proceeding.

Both combatants were remarkably near-sighted; and Mr. Alcock determined
on wearing glasses, which was resisted by the friends of Mr. Colclough,
who would wear none.—The partisans of the former, however, persevered,
and he did wear them. The ground at length was marked; the anxious crowd
separated on either side, as their party feelings led them; but all
seemed to feel a common sense of horror and repugnance. The unfeeling
seconds handed to each principal a couple of pistols; and placing them
about eight or nine steps asunder, withdrew, leaving two gentlemen of
fortune and character—brother-candidates for the county—and former
friends, nay, _intimate companions_,—standing in the centre of a field,
without any _personal_ offence given or received, encouraged by false
friends, and permitted by unworthy magistrates, to butcher each other as
quickly and as effectually as their position and weapons would admit.

The sight was awful!—a dead silence and pause ensued: the great crowd
stood in motionless suspense: the combatants presented: men scarcely
breathed: the word was given: Mr. Alcock fired first, and his friend—his
companion—one of the best men of Ireland, instantly fell forward, shot
through the heart! he spoke not—but turning on one side, his heart’s
blood gushed forth—his limbs quivered—he groaned, and expired. His
pistol exploded after he was struck—of course without effect.

The bystanders looked almost petrified. The profound stillness continued
for a moment, horror having seized the multitude, when, on the sudden, a
loud and universal yell (the ancient practice of the Irish peasantry on
the death of a chieftain) simultaneously burst out like a peal of
thunder from every quarter of the field; a yell so savage and
continuous—so like the tone of _revenge_,—that it would have appalled
any stranger to the customs of the country. Alcock and his partisans
immediately retreated; those of Colclough collected round his body; and
their candidate (a few moments before in health, spirits, and vigour!)
was mournfully borne back upon a plank to the town of his nativity, and
carried lifeless through those very streets which had that morning been
prepared to signalise his triumph.

The election-poll, of course, proceeded without further opposition:—the
joint friends of Colclough and Sheridan, deprived of their support, and
thunderstruck at the event, thought of nothing but lamentation; and in
one hour Mr. Alcock was declared duly elected for Wexford county, solely
through the death of his brother-candidate, whom he had himself that
morning unjustly immolated.

A more wanton duel, a more unnecessary, cruel, and in all points illegal
transaction, never occurred in the United Empire: yet, strange to say,
of those eleven or twelve magistrates who actually stood by, as amateurs
or partisans, in defiance of the law and of their duty,—not one was
displaced or punished!—a precedent of impunity most discreditable to the
high authorities of that day, dangerous to the peace of the country, and
subversive of the first principles of free election. Judge of Sheridan’s
feelings on receiving this intelligence! and judge of the correctness of
his biographers, who have suppressed the incident altogether.

Nor was poor Colclough’s death the last act of the tragedy. His friends
thought themselves called on to prosecute Mr. Alcock, who fled, but
subsequently returned and surrendered for trial. I attended, as special
counsel for the prosecution. Baron Smith tried the cause. The evidence
was stronger than I have deemed it necessary to recite. The baron stated
his opinion on the legal distinctions as applicable to duelling, and on
that opinion the bar differed. It was not the wish of the prosecutors to
do more than mark the transaction by a _conviction_ for _manslaughter_,
which the law, under the circumstances, seemed to render imperative.
However, the then politics of Wexford juries differed not unfrequently
both from the laws of God and the statute book; and the verdict returned
in this instance was, to the surprise of every one, a _general

But, alas! the acquitted duellist suffered more in mind than his victim
had done in body. The horror of the scene, and the solemnity of the
trial, combined to make a fatal inroad on his reason! He became
melancholy; his understanding gradually declined; a dark gloom enveloped
his entire intellect; and an excellent young man and perfect gentleman
at length sank into irrecoverable imbecility. Goaded by the vicious
frenzy of election partisans, he had slain his friend; and, haunted by
reflection and sorrow, he ended his own days in personal restraint and
mental ruin.

Two other duels were fought upon the same occasion, but with little
injury and still less interest. Mr. Cæsar Colclough has since returned
from the continent; and, on the strength of his late brother’s
popularity, was elected member for County Wexford. He has not, however,
followed up the high reputation of that brother; nor very satisfactorily
fulfilled the expectations of his constituents.

But to this sanguinary and fatal duel there was yet another sad
corollary. Miss Alcock, sister of the member, had been most deeply
affected by the mournful catastrophe. She had known Colclough long and
intimately; and being an amiable and sensitive young woman,—her
brother’s absence, his trial, and his subsequent depression, kept the
gloomy transaction alive in her mind: hence she also gradually wasted;
and the death of her brother sinking deeper and deeper into a heart, all
the sources of tranquillity whereof had been dried up,—_her_ reason
wandered, at length fled, and she did not long survive the dreadful fate
of her friend and of her brother.

A trivial anecdote will suffice to exhibit the general state of Wexford
county, and of the aristocracy and magistracy, many of whom were a
disgrace to their office, and completely filled up Mr. Grattan’s
definition of a “regal rebel” by their arrogance, tyranny, oppression,
and disaffection. By these men the peasantry were goaded into a belief
that justice was banished, and so driven into the arms of the avowed
rebels, who used every lure to enforce their previous delusion.

A handsome young woman, maid-servant to a Mrs. Lett, who was considered
as a great _patriot_ (rebel) in Wexford, happened one summer’s evening
to sit at her mistress’s window singing songs, but to certain airs that
were not considered orthodox by the aristocracy.

The present Marquess of Ely, with the high sheriff and other gentlemen
of the county, were retiring after their wine from the grand-jury, and
heard this unfortunate young siren warbling at the window: but as the
song sounded to their loyal ears of a rebellious tendency, it was
thought advisable to demolish the fragile parts of Mrs. Lett’s
house-front without delay; and, accordingly, my lord, the high sheriff,
and their friends (to preserve the peace and protect the constitution
from such traitorous maid-servants), forthwith commenced their laudable
undertaking; and stones being the weapons nearest at hand, the windows
and the warbling maid received a broadside, which was of the greatest
utility to the glazier, and had well-nigh put fees into the pockets, not
only of the surgeon, but of the sexton and coroner likewise.

However, on this occasion, justice was not so far off as the peasants
had been persuaded: my lord, the high sheriff, and others, being
indicted and tried, I had the honour of being his lordship’s counsel;
and as our duty was to make “the worse appear the better _cause_,” I
certainly did my utmost for the marquess:—but his lordship, conceiving
my delicacy to the maid-servant rather too great, requested permission
to ask her a few questions himself, which was granted.

“Now, girl,” said the marquess, “by the oath you have taken, did you not
say you would _split my skull open_?”

“Why, then, by the virtue of my oath,” said the girl, turning to the
judge, “it would not be _worth my while_ to split his skull open, my

“Ha! ha!” said the marquess, “now I have her!” (wisely supposing she
made some allusion to a _reward_ for killing him:) “and _why_, girl,
would it be not worth your while?”

“Because, my lord,” answered she, “if I had split your lordship’s skull
open,—by virtue of my oath, I am sure and certain I should have found
little or nothing inside of it!”

The laugh against the noble marquess was now too great to admit of his
proceeding any further with his cross-examination: he was found guilty,
and fined.

                              WEDDED LIFE.

Lord Clonmel, chief justice of the Irish Court of King’s Bench—His
  character—Lady Tyrawly’s false charge against him—Consequent duel
  between him and Lord Tyrawly—Eclaircissement—Lord Tyrawly and Miss
  Wewitzer—Lord Clonmel’s hints “How to rule a wife”—Subsequent
  conversation with his lordship at Sir John Tydd’s.

The first chief judge who favoured me with his intimacy was Lord
Clonmel, chief justice of the King’s Bench. His character appears at
full length in my “Historical Memoirs of Ireland,” vol. i. p. 38, and a
curious but true character it is. I was introduced to his lordship’s
notice through Sir John Tydd (the truest friend he had), and received
from him many instances of attention; and he gave me, early in life,
some of the very best practical maxims. As he was one of the celebrated
_official_ “fire-eaters” (whom I shall hereafter mention), and fought
several duels, it may be amusing to extract here, from the work in
question, a few distinguishing traits of his lordship.—“Mr. Scott never
omitted one favourable opportunity of serving himself. His skill was
unrivalled, and his success proverbial. He was full of anecdotes, though
not the most refined: these in private society he not only told, but
_acted_; and when he perceived that he had made a very good exhibition,
he immediately withdrew, that he might leave the most lively impression
of his pleasantry behind him. His boldness was his first
introduction—his policy, his ultimate preferment.—Courageous, vulgar,
humorous, artificial, he knew the world well, and he profited by that
knowledge:—he cultivated the powerful; he bullied the timid; he fought
the brave; he flattered the vain; he duped the credulous; and he amused
the convivial. He frequently, in his prosperity, acknowledged favours he
had received when he was obscure, and _occasionally_ requited them.
Half-liked, half-reprobated, he was too high to be despised, and too low
to be respected. His language was coarse, and his principles arbitrary;
but his passions were his slaves, and his cunning was his instrument. In
public and in private he was the same character; and, though a most
fortunate man and a successful courtier, he had scarcely a sincere
friend or a _disinterested_ adherent.”—What regard I had for his
lordship was literally so.

His duel with Lord Tyrawly was caused and attended by circumstances
which combine to form a curious narrative:—Lady Tyrawly had an utter
dislike for her husband (then the Honourable James Cuffe). They had no
children, and she made various efforts to induce him to consent to a
distinct and total separation. There being no substantial cause for such
a measure, Mr. Cuffe looked upon it as ridiculous, and would not
consent.—At length, the lady hit upon an excellent mode for carrying her
wishes into effect, and ensuring a separate maintenance: but I have
never heard of the precedent being followed.

Mr. Cuffe found her one day in tears, a thing not frequent with her
ladyship, who had a good deal of the amazon about her. She sobbed—threw
herself on her knees—went through the usual evolutions of a repentant
female—and, at length, told her husband that she was unworthy of his
future protection,—had been faithless to him, and was a lost and guilty

I suppose there is a routine of contrition, explanation, rage, honour,
&c. &c. which generally attends developments of this nature; and I take
for granted that the same was duly performed by the Honourable Mr. and
Mrs. Cuffe. Suffice it to say, that the latter was put into a
sedan-chair and ordered out of the house forthwith to private lodgings,
until it was the will of her injured lord to send a deed of annuity for
her support.

Mr. Cuffe next proceeded to summon a friend, and inform him that his
wife had owned “that villain Scott,” the attorney-general, and the
pretended friend of his family, to be her seducer!—that not his love,
but his honour was so deeply concerned, as to render the death of one or
the other necessary;—and, without further ceremony, a message was sent,
for mortal combat, to the attorney-general, urging the lady’s
confession, his own dishonourable breach of trust, and Mr. Cuffe’s
determination to fight him.

Mr. Scott, well knowing that a _declaration_, or even an _oath_, of
innocence would, by the world, be considered either as honourable
perjury on his part, to save Mrs. Cuffe’s reputation, or as a mode of
screening himself from her husband’s vengeance (and in no case be
believed even by the good-natured part of society); made up his mind for
the worst.

The husband and supposed gallant accordingly met: no explanation could
be listened to: the ground was duly measured—the flints hammered—the
parties bowed to each other (as was then usual), and exchanged shots;
and each having heard the bullets humanely whiz past his skull, without
indicating a desire of becoming more intimately acquainted therewith,
Mr. Scott told his antagonist that he was totally mistaken, and gave his
honour that he never had the slightest familiarity with the lady, who,
he concluded, must have lost her reason.[54]


Footnote 54:

  A Mr. George Bathron, of Durrow, an apothecary, had, about 1783, been
  accused of a similar misdemeanour with the wife of a brother volunteer
  in the same town, but with more reason. He however got over it better:
  he denied the fact plump; and the ensuing Sunday, after having
  received the sacrament in church, swore that he never in his life had
  “behaved _unlike_ a _gentleman_ by Mrs. Delany.” This completely
  satisfied the husband; and the apothecary was considered a trustworthy
  person—of high honour, moral tendency, and shamefully _calumniated_.


There was no cause for denying credence to this; while, on the other
hand, it was but too likely that Mr. Cuffe had been tricked by his lady
wife. She was sure of a _separation_, for he had _turned her out_: and
if he had fallen on the field of honour, she would have had a noble
jointure;—so that she was _in utrumque parata_,—secure under every
chance—death or Doctor Duigenan.

On his return, he sent her a most severe reprimand; and announced but a
moderate annuity, which she instantly and haughtily refused, positively
declaring that she _never had made any confession of guilt_! that the
whole was a scheme of his own vicious jealousy, to get rid of her; and
that she had only said, he might _just as well_ suspect the
attorney-general, who had never said a _civil_ thing to her, as _any
body else_! She dared him to _prove_ the least impropriety on her part;
and yet he had cruelly turned her out of his house, and proclaimed his
innocent wife to be a guilty woman.

Mr. Cuffe saw she had been too many for him every way!—he durst not give
more publicity to the affair; and therefore agreed to allow her a very
large annuity, whereon she lived a happy life, and died not many years
since at Bath.

The _subsequent_ connexion of Lord Tyrawly had likewise a singular
termination. Miss Wewitzer, sister to the late celebrated violinist of
that name, soon filled Mrs. Cuffe’s vacant place; and by her my lord had
many children—the eldest being the present Colonel Cuffe, member of
Parliament for Mayo; a very good man, honourable and friendly. I never
saw two persons live more happily together than Lord Tyrawly and Miss
Wewitzer, whom he considered as his wife. She was unexceptionably
correct, and he wholly attached to her. She had been remarkably pretty,
and celebrated as _Rosetta_ (in Bickerstaff’s opera). I was intimate
with Lord Tyrawly, and have entertained a great regard for Colonel Cuffe
from his boyhood.

The death of Lady Tyrawly at length gave his lordship the long-expected
opportunity of realising his promises and intentions, for the sake of
his family; and Lord Tyrawly and Miss Wewitzer being regularly married,
she became the _real_ Lady Tyrawly—whom she had so many years

Now, here was a cohabitation of considerably more than twenty years, in
happiness and tranquillity, followed up by an honourable and just
arrangement, wherefrom it might be rationally supposed an increase of
happiness would ensue. But no sooner did the parties become legally man
and wife, than Madam Discord introduced herself! It is singular, but
true, that (as if Nature originally intended every living thing to
_remain_ totally free and independent) the moment any two animals,
however fond before, are fastened together by a cord or chain they
cannot break, they begin to quarrel without any reason, and tear each
other, solely because they can’t get loose again.[55]


Footnote 55:

  Nobody has put this better than Pope, in the mouth of _Eloisa_—

         “Not Cæsar’s empress would I deign to prove;—
          No! make me _mistress_ to the man I _love_:
          And if there be another name more free,
          More fond, than _mistress_, make me _that_ to _thee_!”

  I think what renders ladies quarrelsome after they are tied, who were
  so sweet and conciliatory before, is, the natural and inherent spirit
  of contradiction of which the fair sex are accused. This they are
  privileged to exercise to its full extent during _courtship_; and the
  _abrupt transfer_ of it immediately after the honey-moon might ruffle
  the temper of an angel!


So it was with my Lord and Lady T.; and every hour added fresh fuel to
the flame. She had been Lady Tyrawly only in _remainder_ and
_expectancy_; but _possession_ alters matters extremely in the humour of
most people. At length (to continue my pretty simile) the chain became
_red-hot_,—neither of them could bear it longer, and the whole affair
ended in a voluntary and most uncomfortable _separation_! However, it
was only for a short time: death, always fond of doing mischief in
families, very soon brought them together again; and if such a thing can
be conceived as possible in the other world, it is no bad conjecture,
that at this very moment my Lord T., the two Ladies T., and Lord
Clonmel, are, among a group of other ghosts, thinking what fools men are
to give themselves so much uneasiness upon subjects which only pass like
shadows, instead of turning their minds to what might be much more
material—namely, how to get over their _sins_ when the _last assizes_
come round.

I recollect one of Lord Clonmel’s maxims was, “whatever must be done in
the course of the week, always do it on _Monday morning_:” and in truth,
whoever practises that rule, will find it in no slight degree
convenient. I never did.

Immediately after I was married, I resided next door to Lord Clonmel, in
Harcourt-street. He called on me most kindly, and took me to walk over
his fine gardens and lawn; and was so humorous and entertaining, that
his condescension (as I then felt it) quite delighted me; but I
afterward found out that he made a point of discovering every young man
likely to succeed in public life, and took the earliest moment possible
of being _so civil_ as to ensure a friend, if not a _partisan_; and no
man wanted the latter more than his lordship.

“Barrington,” said he to me, “you are married?”

“No doubt,” said I, laughingly, “as tight as any person on the face of
the earth, my lord.”

“All women in the world,” rejoined his lordship, “are fond of having
their own way.”

“I am firmly of your opinion, my lord,” said I.

“Now,” pursued he, “the manner in which all wives are spoiled, is by
giving them their own way at first; for whatever you accustom them to at
the beginning, they will expect _ever after_: so, mind me! I’ll tell you
the secret of ruling a wife, if known in time:—never do _any_ thing _for
peace-sake_: if you do, you’ll never have one hour’s tranquillity but by
_concession_—mind that!”

“I firmly believe it,” exclaimed I.

“Well,” said he, “_practise_ it, Barrington!”

Some time after, I met his lordship at Lamberton, Queen’s county, the
seat of Sir John Tydd. He related the above story with much humour, and
asked me if I had taken his advice.—“No,” said I.

“No! why not?” inquired his lordship.

“Because,” replied I, “a _philosopher_ has an easier life of it than a

I had the laugh against him, and the more particularly as his lordship
had married a second wife, Miss Lawless (the present dowager); and I
believe no husband in Ireland adhered less to his own maxim than did
Lord Clonmel after that union. My own opinion on the subject ever was,
that contradicting a woman never pays for the trouble of the operation:
if she is a fool, it makes her _worse_; if a sensible woman, she does
not require it; and if of an _epicene_ temper, _coaxing_ will do more in
half an hour, than _bullyragging_ (a _vulgar_ but expressive Irish
idiom) in a fortnight.


My first acquaintance with the Duke of Wellington and the late Marquess
  of Londonderry, at a dinner at my own house—Some memoirs and anecdotes
  of the former as a public man—My close connexion with government—Lord
  Clare’s animosity to me suspended—Extraordinary conference between
  Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Cooke, and me, in August 1798—Singular
  communication—Offers made to me for succession as solicitor-general—I
  decline the terms proposed—Lord Castlereagh’s letter to me—Character
  of Mr. Pelham, now Earl of Chichester.

My personal acquaintance with the Duke of Wellington originated
accidentally, soon after I commenced public life; and so clearly shows
the versatility of men, the fallibility of judgment, and the total
uncertainty of all human prediction, that I cannot avoid mentioning it.

In 1793, when I was in high repute, most prosperous at the bar, living
in the first ranks of society, a distinguished favourite at the
vice-regal court, and designated as a candidate for the first offices of
my profession, I occasionally gave large splendid dinners, according to
the habit invariably adopted in those times by persons circumstanced
like myself.—At one of those entertainments Major Hobart (Lord
Buckinghamshire); Sir John Parnell; Isaac Corry; I think Lord Limerick;
Sir John (afterward Lord) de Blacquiere; Lords Llandaff, Dillon,
Yelverton; the Speaker, &c. &c.—in all, upward of twenty noblemen and
commoners did me the honour of partaking my fare: to assist in preparing
which Lord Clonmel sent me his two grand cooks. At that period I was not
unentertaining; and a most cheerful party was predicted.—The House had
sat late, and etiquette never permitted us to go to dinner (where the
Speaker was a guest) until his arrival, unless he had specially desired
us to do so.

The Speaker did not join us till nine o’clock, when Sir John Parnell
brought with him, and introduced to me, Captain Wellesley and Mr.
Stewart, two young members, who having remained in the House, he had
insisted on their coming with him to my dinner, where he told them good
cheer and a hearty welcome would be found; and in this he was not

Captain Arthur Wellesley had, in 1790, been returned to Parliament for
Trim, County Meath, a borough under the patronage of his brother, the
Earl of Mornington.[56] He was then ruddy-faced and juvenile in
appearance, and rather popular among the young men of his age and
station. His address was not polished: he occasionally spoke in
Parliament, but not successfully, and never on important subjects; and
evinced no promise of that unparalleled celebrity and splendour he has
since reached, and whereto intrepidity and decision, good luck and great
military science, have justly combined to elevate him. As to his late
_civil_ triumph, I will suspend giving my opinion, though I hold a
strong one.


Footnote 56:

  I think he was opposed by the present Mr. Saurin, and Mr. Tod Jones
  (who afterward sent a bullet through Sir Richard Musgrave’s abdomen).


Lord Castlereagh was the son of Mr. Stewart, a country gentleman,
generally accounted to be a very clever man, in the north of Ireland. He
had been a professed and not very moderate _patriot_, and at one time
carried his ideas of opposition exceedingly far,—becoming a leading
member of the Reform and Liberal societies.[57]


Footnote 57:

  See the history of Belfast, and the northern clubs and volunteer
  resolutions of that period—namely, 1779 or 1780. He and Mr. Joy, a
  printer, drew them up conjointly.


Lord Castlereagh began his career in the Irish Parliament, by a motion
for a committee to inquire into the representation of the people, with
the ulterior object of a reform in Parliament. He made a good speech,
and had a majority in the House, which he certainly did not expect, and
I am sure did not _wish for_. He was unequal and unwilling to push that
point to further trial: the matter cooled in a few days; and after the
next division, was deserted entirely. Mr. Stewart, however, after that
speech, was considered as a very clever young man, and in all points
well taught and tutored by his father, whose marriage with the Marquess
of Camden’s sister was the remote cause of all his future successes:—how
sadly terminated!

At the period to which I allude, I feel confident nobody could have
predicted that one of those young gentlemen would become the most
celebrated general of his era, and the other the most unfortunate
minister of Europe. However, it is observable, that to the personal
intimacy and reciprocal friendship of those two individuals, they
mutually owed the extent of their respective elevation and
celebrity:—Sir Arthur Wellesley never would have had the chief command
in Spain but for the ministerial aid of Lord Castlereagh; and Lord
Castlereagh never could have stood his ground as a minister, but for
Lord Wellington’s successes.

At my house the evening passed amidst that glow of well-bred, witty, and
cordial vinous conviviality, which was, I believe, peculiar to high
society in Ireland.

From that night I became somewhat intimate with Captain Wellesley and
Mr. Stewart; and perceived certain amiable qualities in both. Change of
times, or the intoxication of prosperity, certainly tends either to
diminish or increase some natural traits in every man’s character, or to
neutralise qualities which had previously been prominent. Indeed, if
Lord Wellington had continued until now the same frank, plain,
open-hearted man, he certainly must have been better proof against those
causes which usually excite a metamorphosis of human character than any
one who ever preceded him. Still, if possible, he would have been a
_greater_ man; at least, he would have better drawn the distinction
between a _warrior_ and a _hero_—terms not altogether synonymous.

Many years subsequently to the dinner-party I have mentioned, after Sir
Arthur had returned from India, I one day met Lord Castlereagh in the
Strand, and a gentleman with him. His lordship stopped me, whereat I was
rather surprised, as we had not met for some time: he spoke _very_
kindly, smiled, and asked if I had forgotten my old friend? It was Sir
Arthur Wellesley whom I discovered in his companion; but looking so
sallow and wan, and with every mark of what is called a worn-out man,
that I was truly concerned at his appearance.—But he soon recovered his
health and looks, and went as the Duke of Richmond’s secretary to
Ireland; where he was in all material traits still Sir Arthur
Wellesley—but it was Sir Arthur Wellesley judiciously improved. He had
not forgotten his friends, nor did he forget himself. He told me that he
had accepted the office of secretary only on the terms that it should
not impede or interfere with his military pursuits; and what he said
proved true, for he was soon sent, as second in command of the troops,
with Lord Cathcart to Copenhagen, to break through the law of nations,
and execute upon a Christian state and ancient ally the most
distinguished piece of treachery that history records.

On Sir Arthur’s return he recommenced his duty of secretary; and during
his residence in Ireland, in that capacity, I did not hear one complaint
against any part of his conduct either as a public or private man. He
was afterward appointed to command in Spain: an appointment which was, I
then thought, expected by Sir John Doyle. I do not mean to infer the
least disparagement to either the military or diplomatic talents of Sir
John; but his politics, or at least those of his friends, were opposite,
and he might have pursued a very different course to decide (for the
_time being_) the fate of Europe.

A few days before Sir Arthur’s departure for Spain, I requested him and
Lord Manners to spend a day with me, which they did. The company was not
very large, but some of Sir Arthur’s military friends were of the
party:—the late Sir Charles Asgill, the present General Meyrick, &c. &c.
I never saw him more cheerful or happy. The bombardment of Copenhagen
being by chance stated as a topic of remark, I did not join in its
praise; but, on the other hand, muttered that I never did nor should
approve of it.

“Damn it, Barrington!” said Sir Arthur, “why? what do you mean to
say?”—“I say, Sir Arthur,” replied I, “that it was the very best
devised, the very best executed, and the most just and necessary
‘_robbery_ and _murder_’ now on record!” He laughed, and we soon
adjourned to the drawing-rooms, where Lady Barrington had a ball and
supper as a _finish_ for the departing hero.

In 1815, having been shut up in Paris during the siege, I went out to
Neuilly to pay a visit to the duke before our troops got into the
city.—I had not seen him since the day above-mentioned; and he had
intermediately much changed in his appearance, though seeming just as

I knew his Grace when Captain Wellesley—Sir Arthur Wellesley—Secretary
Wellesley—Ambassador Wellesley—and Duke of Wellington. In the first
stage of this career, I was, as a public man, more than his equal; in
the last, nobody is so much. However, it is a fine reflection for the
contemporaries of great people, that it will be “all the same a hundred
years hence!” and heroes, diplomatists,[58] &c. must either become very
good-tempered fellows when they meet in the Elysian fields, or—there
must be a very strong _police_ to keep them in order.


Footnote 58:

  The following unpublished lines, by Miss M. Tylden, the most talented
  young lady I ever met, depict the frivolity and short-lived nature of
  human vanities more forcibly than a hundred sermons—if we calmly
  reflect what a contemptible _animal_ is man!—

             “The kingdoms of the world have pass’d away,
              And its strong empires moulder’d into dust,
              Swift as the changes of a poet’s dream;
              And kings and heroes, and the mighty minds
              Whose hopes circled eternity, and seized
              The stars as their inheritance, and grew
              Too big for mortal frames—until they sank
              Into the narrow bounds of nature:—
              These are the things which, even nameless now,
              Are on the earth forgot—or, if retain’d,
              Of power, of life, and motion all bereft!”


Whilst the duke was at St. Denis, I was present in the French Chamber of
Deputies when the question of _capitulation_ was discussed; and most
undoubtedly Marshal Ney supported that measure upon the basis of a
_general amnesty_. On any other, it would never have been listened to:
the battle would have taken place; and the Duke of Wellington would have
had to contest the most sanguinary and desperate engagement of his day
with a numerous and well-appointed army, frantic with zeal to revenge
their disgrace at Waterloo. This I _know_:—for I was (truly against the
grain) kept more than twelve hours in the midst of that army at Vilette,
two days before the capitulation. Of this more will be seen in the last
volume. I cannot but remark, that if Ney had been pardoned, and the
horses not sent to Venice, or the Louvre plundered, the _spirit_ of the
capitulation—nay, the very _words_ of it—would have been more strictly
adhered to.

I must be rightly understood respecting Lord Londonderry, to whom,
individually, I never had the slightest objection. I always found him
friendly, though cold; and fair, though ambiguous.—I never knew him
break his word; and believe him to have been, as a private gentleman,
unconnected with Parliament or official negotiations, perfectly
honourable. But here my eulogy must close; for, with regard to public
character, his lordship must, I fear, be pronounced corrupt. When
determined on a point, nothing could stop him. In Ireland, his career
was distinguished by public bribery and palpable misrepresentations:—of
which assertion, had I not indisputable and ample proof, I would not
hazard it.

Mr. Pelham (now Earl of Chichester) was secretary to Lord Camden when
lord lieutenant. I had the good fortune and pleasure (for it was a great
pleasure to me) to be on very friendly terms with this amiable and
engaging gentleman, and have seldom met any public personage I liked so
well—moderate, honourable, sufficiently firm and sufficiently spirited:
I had a real gratification in attaching myself not only to his measures,
but to his society. In all our intercourse (which ceased with his
departure) I found him candid and just, and experienced at his hands
several public acts of kindness and attention.

Mr. Pelham’s parliamentary talents were not of a splendid order. The
people of Ireland never required _stars_ for ministers; but a fair and
candid secretary was a great treat to them, and Mr. Pelham was making
rapid way in public esteem (though no friend to emancipation). The last
day I ever saw him in Ireland he and his brother-in-law, Lord Sheffield,
did me the favour of dining with me in Merrion Square. I perceived he
was uncommonly dull, and regretted the circumstance much: he obviously
grew worse,—at length laid his head upon the table, and when he departed
was extremely ill: next day he was in a violent fever, his life was long
despaired of; he recovered with difficulty, and, on his recovery,
returned to England. Mr. Stewart (by marriage the lord lieutenant’s
nephew) was named as _locum tenens_ during Mr. Pelham’s absence, or
(should he not return) until the appointment of another secretary. But
he was soon discovered by his employers to be fit for _any_ business;
and as it had been long in the secret contemplation of the British
ministry to extinguish the Irish Parliament, either by fraud or
force,—and Lord Camden being considered too inactive (perhaps too
conscientious and honourable) to resort to either of those weapons, it
was determined to send over an old servant-of-all-work, who had fought
till he was beaten, and negotiated till he was outwitted. This person
(Lord Cornwallis), with the assistance of his young secretary, would
stop at nothing necessary to effect the purpose; and they could, between
them, carry a measure which few other persons, at that period, durst
have attempted.

These fragments are not intended as political episodes. The result of
that coalition every body knows: I shall only state so much of the
transaction as relates to my own individual concerns. I had an interview
with Lord Castlereagh, some time after he came into office, at Mr.
Cooke’s chambers. He told me he understood I expected to be the next
solicitor-general, and had applied for the office. I answered, that I
not only expected as much, but considered myself, under all
circumstances, _entitled_ to that preferment. He and Mr. Cooke both
said, “yes;” and recommended me to make “my _party good_ with Lord
Clare,” who had expressed “no indisposition” to the appointment on a
vacancy. Had I not been supposed of some use to the government, I do not
doubt but Lord Clare would have preferred many other more subservient
gentry of my profession. But he knew that although Lord Westmoreland, on
leaving Ireland, had made no express stipulation, he had subsequently
gone as far as he could with Lord Camden for my promotion. Lord Clare
played me off cleverly, until, in the month of August 1799, I was sent
for in private by the secretary, Edward Cooke, who had been a
particularly confidential friend of mine for several years. Having first
enjoined secrecy as to the subject of our conference, he told me that a
measure of great import had been under consideration in the English
cabinet, and might _possibly_ be acted on: and then proceeding to
acquaint me that Lord Clare had made no objection to my promotion, he
asked in so many words if I would support the “question of _a union_, IF
it should be brought forward?” I was struck as if by a shot! I had no
idea of such a thing being now seriously contemplated, although I had
often heard of it as a measure suggested in 1763. My mind had never any
doubts upon the degrading subject, all thoughts whereof had been
considered as banished for ever by the _Volunteers_, and the
Renunciation passed by the British legislature, in 1782. I therefore
replied at once, “No, never!”—“You’ll think better of it, Barrington!”
said he. “_Never!_” rejoined I: and the discussion was dropped; nor did
I confide it to any save one individual, who differed with me very much,
at least as to the mode of my refusal.

I was determined, however, to know how the matter really stood; and,
without touching on the late conversation, desired to be apprised
whether they preserved the intention of appointing me solicitor-general.
I received no other answer than the following letter from Lord
Castlereagh, without any explanation;—but it was enveloped in a very
long one from Mr. Cooke, headed “strictly private;” and, therefore, of
course, still remaining so, at least during my life. It may one day be
considered a very remarkable public document.

                                                  September 7, 1799.

    “My dear sir,

            “I am directed by his Excellency, the Lord Lieutenant,
    to assure you, that he would be glad to avail himself of any
    proper opportunity of complying with your wishes; and that he
    regrets much he is at present so particularly circumstanced with
    respect to the office of solicitor-general, that he feels it
    impossible to gratify your desire as to that appointment. I
    should, myself, have been very happy had I been able to
    communicate to you a more favourable result.

                                    “Dear Sir, yours very sincerely,

I have never had any thing more to do with the successive governments of
Ireland,[59] and have used much forbearance in giving my opinion of
Irish lord chancellors, except Mr. Ponsonby, whom nobody ever heard me
praise as a _very great lawyer_, but whom every body has heard me term a
_just judge_, an honest, friendly man, and an adequate chancellor.


Footnote 59:

  Lord Castlereagh’s letter to me put, in fact, a civil end to my dreams
  of promotion; and I was neither sinister nor cunning enough to regain
  any influence after the Union was effected.


Of Lord Camden, I believe, there was no second opinion in the circle
wherein I moved:—a better man could not be; but instead of governing, he
was governed: and intimately acquainted as I was with every procedure
and measure during his administration in Ireland, I do most fully acquit
him, individually, of the outrageous, impolitic, and ill-judged measures
which distinguished his rule. As to Lord Clare, he was despotic, and the
greatest enemy Ireland ever had. His father had been a Roman Catholic,
and intended for a priest, but changed his tenets, became a barrister of
great and just celebrity, and left many children.

Lord Clare was _latterly_ my most inveterate enemy: the cause shall
hereafter[60] be no secret;—it arose from a vicious littleness of mind
scarcely credible, and proves to me that implacability of temper never
exists without attendant faults; and although it may be deprecated by
cringing, is seldom influenced by feelings of generosity.


Footnote 60:

  If this _cause_ involved no names but his lordship’s and my own, it
  should appear in _these volumes_; but it is a much more comprehensive
  subject, and I feel too delicate on the point at present to enlarge
  further upon it.


                             LORD NORBURY.

Quarrel between Lord Norbury and the author in the House of
  Commons—Curran’s bon-mot—Dinner at Lord Redesdale’s, who attempts
  being agreeable, but is annoyed by Lord Norbury (then Mr.
  Toler)—Counsellor O’Farrell—Mr. (now Lord) Plunkett and Lord
  Redesdale—Lord Norbury and young Burke—His lordship presides at Carlow
  assizes in the character of _Hawthorn_.

Lord Norbury (then Mr. Toler) went circuit as _judge_ the first circuit
I went as _barrister_. He continued many years my friend, as warmly as
he possibly could be the friend of any one, (he had been a sporting
companion of my uncle, Harry French,) and I thought he was in earnest.
One evening, however, coming hot with the Tuscan grape from Lord Clare’s
(at that time my proclaimed enemy), he attacked me with an after-dinner
volubility, which hurt and roused me very much. I kept indifferent
bounds myself: but he was generally so very good-tempered, that I really
felt a repugnance to indulge him with as tart a reply as a stranger
would have received, and simply observed, that “I should only just give
him that character which developed itself by his versatility—namely,
that _he had a hand for every man, and a heart for nobody_!” I did not
say this in an incensed tone, though I fear the sarcasm has stuck to him
from that day to this. He returned a _very_ warm answer, gave me a wink,
and made his exit:—of course I followed. The serjeant-at-arms was
instantly sent by the Speaker to pursue us with his attendants, and to
bring both refractory members back to the House. Toler was caught by the
skirts of his coat fastening in a door, and they laid hold of him just
as the skirts were torn completely off. I was overtaken (while running
away) in Nassau-street, and, as I resisted, was brought like a sack on a
man’s shoulders, to the admiration of the mob, and thrown down in the
body of the House. The Speaker told us we must give our honours
forthwith that the matter should proceed no further:—Toler got up to
defend himself; but as he then had no skirts to his coat, made a most
ludicrous figure; and Curran put a finishing-stroke to the comicality of
the scene, by gravely saying, that it was the most unparalleled insult
ever offered to the House! as it appeared that one honourable member had
_trimmed_ another honourable member’s _jacket_ within these walls, and
nearly within view of the Speaker.

A general roar of laughter ensued. I gave my honour, as required, I
think with more good-will than Toler; and would willingly have forgotten
the affair altogether, which he apparently never did. I only hope that,
when his memory declines, (which time cannot be very far off now,) our
quarrel will be the first circumstance that slips it. If I could forget
_any thing_, I should long ago have lost all recollection thereof.

Lord Norbury had more readiness of repartee than any man I ever knew who
possessed neither classical wit nor genuine sentiment to make it
valuable. But he had a fling at every thing; and, failing in one
attempt, made another—sure of carrying his point before he relinquished
his efforts. His extreme good-temper was a great advantage. The present
Lord Redesdale was much (though unintentionally) annoyed by Lord
Norbury, at one of the first dinners he gave (as lord chancellor of
Ireland) to the judges and king’s counsel. Having heard that the members
of the Irish bar (of whom he was then quite ignorant) were considered
extremely witty, and being desirous, if possible, to adapt himself to
their habits, his lordship had obviously got together some of his best
bar-remarks (for of _wit_ he was totally guiltless, if not
inapprehensive) to repeat to his company, as occasion might offer; and
if he could not be humorous, determined at least to be entertaining.

The first of his lordship’s observations after dinner, was the telling
us that he had been a Welsh judge, and had found great difficulty in
pronouncing the double consonants which occur, as in the instance of
_Lloyd_, in Welsh proper names. “After much trial,” continued his
lordship, “I found that the difficulty was mastered by moving the tongue
alternately from one dog-tooth to the other.”

Toler seemed quite delighted with this discovery; and requested to know
his lordship’s dentist, as he had lost one of his dog-teeth, and would,
before he went to North Wales, which he intended to do during the long
vacation, get another in place of it. This went off flatly enough—no
laugh being gained on either side.

Lord Redesdale’s next remark was,—that when he was a lad, cock-fighting
was the fashion; and that both ladies and gentlemen went full-dressed to
the cock-pit, the ladies being in hoops.

“I see now, my lord,” said Toler, “it was then that the term
_cock-a-hoop_ was invented!”

A general laugh now burst forth, which rather discomposed the learned
chancellor. He sat for awhile silent; until _skaiting_ became a subject
of conversation, when his lordship rallied, and with an air of triumph
said, that in his boyhood all danger was avoided; for, before they began
to skait, they always put blown bladders under their arms; and so, if
the ice happened to break, they were buoyant and safe.

“Ay, my lord;” said Toler, “that’s what we call _blatherum-skate_ in


Footnote 61:

  An Irish vulgar idiom for “_nonsense_.”


His lordship did not understand the sort of thing at all; and (though
extremely courteous) seemed to wish us all at our respective homes.
Having failed with Toler, in order to say a civil thing or two, he
addressed himself to Mr. Garrat O’Farrell, a jolly barrister, who always
carried a parcel of coarse national humour about with him; a broad,
squat, ruddy-faced fellow, with a great aquiline nose and a humorous
Irish eye. Independent in mind and property, he generally said whatever
came uppermost.—“Mr. Garrat O’Farrell,” said the chancellor solemnly, “I
believe your name and family are very respectable and numerous in County
Wicklow. I think I was introduced to several of them during my late tour

“Yes, my lord,” said O’Farrell, “we _were_ very numerous; but so many of
us have been lately hanged for sheep-stealing, that the name is getting
rather scarce in that county!”

This was quite conclusive: his lordship said no more; and (so far as
respect for a new chancellor admitted) we got into our own line of
conversation, without his assistance. His lordship, by degrees, began to
understand some jokes a few minutes after they were uttered. An
occasional smile discovered his enlightenment; and, at the breaking up,
I really think his impression was, that we were a pleasant, though not
very _comprehensible_ race, possessing at a dinner-table much more
good-fellowship than special-pleading; and that he would have a good
many of his old notions to get rid of before he could completely cotton
to so dissimilar a body:—but he was extremely polite. Chief Justice
Downs, and a few more of our high, cold sticklers for “decorum,” were
quite uneasy at this skirmishing: yet I doubt if Lord Redesdale liked
them at all the better before the end of the entertainment.

I never met a cold-blooded ostentatious man of office, whom I did not
feel pleasure in mortifying: an affectation of _sang-froid_ is necessary
neither to true dignity nor importance; on the contrary, it generally
betrays the absence of both, and of many amiable qualities into the

I never saw Lord Redesdale more puzzled than at one of Plunkett’s best
_jeux d’esprits_. A cause was argued in Chancery, wherein the plaintiff
prayed that the defendant should be restrained from suing him on certain
bills of exchange, as they were nothing but _kites_.—“Kites!” exclaimed
Lord Redesdale:—“Kites, Mr. Plunkett! Kites never could amount to the
value of those securities! I don’t understand this statement at all, Mr.

“It is not to be expected that you should, my lord,” answered Plunkett:
“in England and in Ireland, kites are quite different things. In
England, the _wind_ raises the _kites_; but in Ireland, the _kites_
raise the _wind_!”

“I do not feel any way better informed yet, Mr. Plunkett,” said the
matter-of-fact chancellor.

“Well, my lord, I’ll explain the thing without mentioning those birds of
prey:”—and therewith he elucidated the difficulty.

Lord Redesdale never could pronounce the name of Mr. Colclough (a suitor
in the Chancery court). It was extremely amusing to hear how he laboured
to get it off his tongue, but quite in vain! Callcloff was his nearest
effort. I often wished I could recommend him to try his _dog-teeth_.—His
lordship was considered by the Irish bar a _very good_ lawyer. They
punned on his _title_, as he had singularly assumed one so _apropos_ to
his habits: they pronounced it _Reads-a-deal_. But his lordship’s
extraordinary passion for talking, added _Talks-a-deal_ to his
appellation. He was told of both _sobriquets_, but did not _understand
punning_; and perhaps he was right.

On the discussion of the Catholic bill, in 1792, Lord Westmoreland, then
lord lieutenant of Ireland, certainly did not approve of the precipitate
measures wished for by his secretary, Major Hobart (afterwards Earl of
Buckinghamshire). I had the honour of distinctly knowing the sentiments
of both, and clearly saw the shades of difference which existed between
them, but which, of course, I had not the presumption to notice. I felt
convinced that both were my friends, and was desirous, if possible, to
run counter to neither.

I never had disputed the political right of the Catholics
_theoretically_: but I had been bred up amongst Williamites, and had
imbibed (without very well understanding their bearing) strong
Protestant principles; and hence I deemed it wisest neither to speak nor
vote upon the subject at that period; and, in fact, I _never_ did.

The Irish Catholics had conceived a wonderfully high opinion of Mr.
Edmund Burke’s assistance and abilities.—Because he was a clever man
himself, they conceived his son must needs be so too; and a deputation
was sent over to induce young Mr. Burke to come to Ireland, for the
purpose of superintending the progress of their bills of emancipation in
the Irish Parliament; and, to bear his expenses, a sum of 2000_l._ was
voted. Mr. Keogh, of Dublin, a very sensible man, who had retired from
trade, was extremely active upon this occasion.

The bills were introduced, and resisted: a petition had been prepared by
Burke; but being considered neither well-timed nor well-worded, certain
even of the warmest Catholic supporters declined to present it.

Young Burke, either totally ignorant of parliamentary rules, or
supposing that in a disturbed country like Ireland they would be
dispensed with (especially in favour of a son of the great Burke),
determined he would present the petition himself;—not at the bar, but in
the body of the House! Accordingly, he descended from the gallery,
walked into the body of the House with a long roll of parchment under
his arm, and had arrived near the Treasury-bench, when a general cry of
“Privilege!—A stranger in the House!” arose from all quarters, and
checked the progress of the intruder: but when the Speaker, in his loud
and dignified tone, called out “Serjeant-at-arms, do your duty!” it
seemed to echo like thunder in Burke’s ears; he felt the awkwardness of
his situation, and ran towards the bar. Here he was met by the
serjeant-at-arms with a drawn sword,—retracing his steps, he was stopped
by the clerk; and the serjeant gaining on him, with a feeling of
trepidation he commenced actual _flight_! The door-keepers at the
corridor now joined in pursuit; but at length, after an excellent chase,
(the members all keeping their seats,) he forced through the enemy
behind the Speaker’s chair, and escaped! no doubt, to his great
satisfaction. Strong measures were immediately proposed: messengers
despatched in all quarters to arrest him: very few knew who he was; when
Lord Norbury, (with that vivacious promptness which he always
possessed,) on its being observed that no such transaction had ever
occurred before, exclaimed, “Yes—I found the same incident some few days
back in the _cross-readings_ of the columns of a newspaper:—‘Yesterday a
petition was presented to the House of Commons——it fortunately _missed
fire_, and the villain ran off!’”

It was impossible to withstand this sally, which put the House in a
moment into good humour. Burke returned to England unsuccessful, and the
matter dropped.

It being observed by some member that the serjeant-at-arms should have
stopped the man at the back-door, Sir Boyle Roche very justly asked the
honourable gentleman—“How could the serjeant-at-arms stop him in the
rear, whilst he was catching him in the front?”

I read some time back in the English newspapers an anecdote of Lord
Norbury’s having appeared on the bench in a _masquerade dress_! As I was
myself present at that occurrence, it is only just to his lordship to
state the _facts_, whence it will appear that it was totally a
mistake—so much so, indeed, that his lordship did not seem to be
conscious of his habiliments even whilst every person in court was
staring with astonishment.

Some time previously, Lady Castlereagh had given a very splendid
masquerade, at which I saw the chief justice in the dress, and character
of _Hawthorn_, in “Love in a Village;” and well did he enact that part.
The dress was a green tabinet, with mother-of-pearl buttons, striped
yellow-and-black waistcoat, and buff breeches; and was altogether cool
and light.

On going the next circuit, (the weather being excessively sultry, and
his lordship having a great press of sentences to pass on rebels, &c. at
Carlow,) he put on, under his robes, the lightest vestments in his
lordship’s wardrobe. Now, be it remembered, that the use of the said
masquerade-dress was a _dead secret_ except to the robes that covered
it; and neither the passing nor future generations would ever have heard
a word of the green jacket, if the said robes had kept themselves close,
as the chief justice had carefully provided before the sounding of the

The warmth of the day, however, and the variety of appropriate addresses
necessary to be framed for so many convicted criminals, might be
expected to take away a certain quantity of any man’s precaution; and,
as a chief justice is _but a man_, Lord Norbury fell into the snare!
and, feeling the heat insufferable, (which the twisting his wig sideways
did not relieve,) he involuntarily first turned up the sleeves of his
robe, then loosened the zone round his waist: the robe being now free
from all restraint, thought it had a right to steal away from the green
jacket; and thus the unconscious chief justice, the representative of
the King, “stood confessed” to the auditory in the court-house as
representative of a very different character from that of his Majesty!
But it was an accident that might, without culpability, have happened
even to an archbishop! I myself once saw a bishop play the _fiddle_, at
one of the concerts of the first Lady Westmoreland, in Dublin Castle;
and it was not even _pretended_ that he did it by _accident_.

It is only justice to Lord Norbury to add, that I have repeatedly seen
him do things involuntarily, which it would have been totally impossible
for him to have done, if conscious, at the time, of his own actions.
Though acute in general, he occasionally thought of so many things at
once, that he lost all recollection whether of place or


Footnote 62:

  His lordship purchased from the legatee of the parliamentary trustee
  of my family estate, a small portion of it in the Queens’ county, for,
  I believe, 40,000_l._ I have taken steps to render all those sales
  subjects of equity inquiry—the trustee having bought it up himself,
  after some transfers—I unfortunately assented to the Act of Parliament
  which left 8000_l._ a year at the mercy of trustees—_Dieu et mon


                             HENRY GRATTAN.

Mr. Grattan in his sedan-chair—The “point of honour”—Mr. Egan’s gift of
  second-sight—The guillotine and executioner—Colonel Burr,
  vice-president of the United States, and Mr. Randolph—Mr. Grattan in
  masquerade—Death of that illustrious patriot, and strictures on his
  interment in Westminster Abbey—Letter from the author to his son,
  Henry Grattan, Esq.

Many anecdotes occur to me of my late respected friend, Mr. Grattan.
There are but few, however, which can throw fresh light upon a character
so long and so generally known, and which exhibited unvarying

I never met any man who possessed the genuine elements of courage in a
higher degree than Mr. Grattan,—in whom dwelt a spirit of mild, yet
impetuous bravery, which totally banished all apprehensions of danger.

I have already given some account of my contest for Dublin city, and of
the circumstances connecting my illustrious friend therewith. On the
evening of the first day of polling, whilst I sat at dinner, a servant
announced that a gentleman in a sedan-chair was at the door and wished
to speak to me. I immediately went out, and finding it was Grattan,
begged him to enter the house; upon which he desired his chair to be
taken into the hall. His manner was so agitated and mysterious, that I
felt quite alarmed, and feared something untoward had happened to him.
We went into a parlour, where, without any introductory observation, he
exclaimed—“Barrington, I must have a shot at that r——l!”

“Heavens!” said I, “what r——l?”

“There is but one such!” cried he:—“Giffard!”

“My dear Grattan,” I replied, “you cannot be serious:—there is no ground
for a challenge on your part: if he survives _your words_, no bullet
could have effect upon him.”

“Ah, that won’t do, Barrington!” exclaimed Grattan: “he objected to my
voting for you, because, he said, I was a ‘_discarded_ corporator.’”

“That was not intended as _personal_,” said I; “and even had he gained
his point, would it not be an _honour_ for you to be removed from such a

“Barrington,” rejoined he, “it’s of no use!—I must have a shot at the
man: I can’t sleep unless you go to him for me.”

This I peremptorily refused; arguing and reasoning with him again and
again: he still continuing obstinate, I begged him to go and ask the
advice of Mr. George Ponsonby.

“Oh no,” replied he, “Ponsonby is a _wise_ man;—wiser than either of us:
in fact, he is sometimes too wise and too peaceable. You must go to
Giffard:—perhaps it may not be _wise_, but I know you prefer your
friend’s honour to his safety.—Come, now, get your hat, Barrington!”

Upward of an hour elapsed before I could even half convince him that he
was wrong; but at length I hit on the only argument that could make any
impression on him, and extracted a promise that he would let the affair
drop:—“Grattan,” said I, “recollect matters, and have consideration for
_me_.” He started:—“Yes,” continued I, “you know it was solely on my
account that you exposed yourself to any insult; and do you think I
could remain an idle _spectator_, in a conflict whereof I was the
_cause_?—If you do not promise me that you will go ‘no further in this
business,’ I shall instantly make the thing personal with Giffard

For a moment he was silent, then smiling—“Coriolanus,” said he, “replied
to his parent—‘_Mother!_ you have conquered!’—I _will_ go no further.”

“I humbly thank you,” said I, “for making an old woman of me!”—He then
went away, as I conceived, tolerably satisfied.—He had come thus
privately (for the curtains were drawn round his chair) to avoid
suspicion being excited of his intentions, and the authorities
consequently interfering to prevent the combat. My surprise may be
imagined, when, at six o’clock the next morning, I was roused by the
same announcement of a _gentleman_ in a _chair_! I knew it must be
Grattan, and directed him to be brought in.

I had now the same game to play over again. He said he had not slept a
wink all night, from thinking about “that Giffard;” and that he “_must_
have a shot at him.” Another course now suggested itself to me, and I
told him I had, on consideration, determined, whether right or wrong,
that, if he persevered, I would wait upon the sheriff and get him bound
over to keep the peace. He was not pleased at this, but had no option:
he strode about the room, taking long steps and frequently raising
himself up, as was his custom whenever agitated.—I was peremptory; and
ultimately he agreed not to revive the subject during the election.

Mr. Egan (one of the roughest-looking persons possible), being at one
time a supporter of government, made virulent philippics, in the Irish
House of Commons, against the French Revolution. His figure was coarse
and bloated, and his dress not over-elegant withal; in fact, he had by
no means the look of a member of Parliament.

One evening he fell foul of a speech of Grattan’s; and among other
absurdities, said in his paroxysm, that the right honourable gentleman’s
speech had a tendency to introduce the _guillotine_ into the very body
of the House: indeed, he almost thought he could already _perceive_ it
before him!—(“Hear him! hear him!” echoed from Sir Boyle Roche.) Grattan
good-humouredly replied, that the honourable member must have a vastly
sharper sight than he had. He certainly could see no such thing: “but
though,” added Grattan, looking with his glass toward Egan, “I may not
see the guillotine, yet methinks I can perceive the _executioner_!”

“Order! order!” shouted Sir Boyle Roche: “_Dis_order! _dis_order!” cried
Curran:—a general laugh prevented any further observation.

Colonel Burr, who had been vice-president of America, and probably would
have been the next president, but for his unfortunate duel with General
Hamilton, came over to England, and was made known to me by Mr.
Randolph, of Virginia, a gentleman with whom I was very intimate. He
requested I would introduce him to Mr. Grattan, whom he was excessively
anxious to see. Colonel Burr was not a man of prepossessing
appearance—rough-featured, and neither dressy nor polished—but a
well-informed, sensible man; and though not a particularly agreeable,
yet an instructive companion.[63]


Footnote 63:

  I see in the “American Review” of the former edition of this work, a
  remark that I was _mistaken_ in my picture of Colonel Burr.—They must
  know better than me; I only state what my _impression_ was on
  superficial knowledge.


People in general form extravagant anticipations regarding eminent
persons. The idea of a _great orator_ and _Irish chief_ carried with it,
naturally enough, corresponding notions of physical powers, elegance,
vigour, and dignity. Such was Colonel Burr’s mistake, I believe, about
Mr. Grattan, and I took care not to undeceive him.

We went to my friend’s house, who was to leave London next day. I
announced that Colonel Burr (from America), Mr. Randolph, and myself,
wished to pay our respects; and the servant informed us that his master
would receive us in a short time, but was at the moment much occupied on
business of consequence. Burr’s expectations were of course on the
alert! Randolph also was anxious to be presented to the great Grattan;
and both impatient for the entrance of this Demosthenes. At length the
door opened, and in hopped a small bent figure,—meagre, yellow, and
ordinary; one slipper and one shoe; his breeches’ knees loose; his
cravat hanging down; his shirt and coat-sleeves tucked up high, and an
old hat upon his head.

This apparition saluted the strangers very courteously:—asked (without
any introduction) how long they had been in England, and immediately
proceeded to make inquiries about the late General Washington and the
revolutionary war. My companions looked at each other:—their replies
were costive, and they seemed quite impatient to see _Mr. Grattan_! I
could scarcely contain myself; but determined to let my eccentric,
unconscious countryman take his course: he appeared quite delighted to
see his visitors, and was the most inquisitive person in the world.
Randolph was far the tallest, and most dignified-looking man of the two,
gray-haired and well-dressed: Grattan, therefore, took _him_ for the
late vice-president, and addressed him accordingly. Randolph at length
begged to know if they could shortly have the honour of seeing Mr.
Grattan!—Upon which, our host (not doubting but they knew him) conceived
it must be his _son_ James for whom they inquired, and said, he believed
he had that moment wandered out somewhere to amuse himself!

This completely disconcerted the Americans: they looked at each other,
then at me, and were about to make their bow and their exit, when I
thought it high time to explain; and, taking Colonel Burr and Mr.
Randolph respectively by the hand, introduced them to the Right
Honourable Henry Grattan.

I never saw people stare so, or more embarrassed! Grattan himself now
perceiving the cause, heartily joined in my merriment:—he pulled down
his shirt-sleeves, pulled up his stockings, and, in his own irresistible
way, apologised for the _outré_ figure he cut, assuring them he had
totally overlooked his toilet, in anxiety not to keep them waiting; that
he was returning to Ireland next morning, and had been busily packing up
his books and papers in a closet full of dust and cobwebs! This
circumstance rendered the interview more interesting: the subject of
colonial independence recommenced, and Grattan shone. The Americans were
charmed with their reception; and, after a protracted visit, retired
highly gratified: whilst Grattan returned again to his books and
cobwebs, regretting very heartily that his immediate departure prevented
him from having the pleasure of their further society.

Nobody lamented more than myself the loss of this distinguished man and
true patriot, who, as every one knows, breathed his last in the British
metropolis, after a long and painful illness; and the public papers soon
after announced, to my astonishment and chagrin, the fact of
preparations being on foot for his interment in Westminster Abbey! I
say, to my astonishment and chagrin; because it was sufficiently plain
that this affected mark of respect was only meant to restrain the honest
enthusiasm which might have attended his funeral obsequies in his own

The subtle minister then ruling the councils of Britain, knew full well
that vanity is the falsest guide of human judgment, and therefore held
out that Westminster Abbey (the indiscriminate dormitory of generals and
spies—of ministers, admirals, and poets,) was the most honourable
resting-place for the remains of an Irish patriot. This lure was
successful; and, accordingly, he who had made British ministers tremble
in the cabinet—whose forbearance they had propitiated by a tender of the
king’s best palace in Ireland[64]—and whose fame they had, nevertheless,
endeavoured to destroy, and whose principles they had calumniated,—was
escorted to the grave by the most decided of his enemies, and (as if in
mockery of his country and himself) inhumed among the inveterate foes of
Ireland and of Grattan! It is mean to say that Lord Castlereagh had
latterly _changed his opinion_, and become _civil_ to his illustrious
opponent:—so much the worse! he thereby confessed that, in 1797, and the
two following years, he had laboured to destroy an _innocent_ man and to
disgrace an Irish patriot, who, during a great portion of that period,
lay on the bed of sickness.


Footnote 64:

  See my “Historic Memoirs of Ireland,” (vol. ii.) where this curious
  incident is fully detailed. The offer was unexampled; the refusal (in
  my opinion) injudicious.


The Duke of Leinster, doubtless with the best possible motives, but with
a view of the subject differing from my own, suggested that Ireland
should do honour to her patriot son, by erecting a cenotaph to his
memory. This, I must confess, appears to me (I speak of it merely as
matter of opinion) to be nothing more than cold-blooded mockery—a
compliment diminutive and empty. Toward _such_ a monument I would not
subscribe one farthing:—but if the revered ashes of my friend could be
restored to his country, there is no Irishman who (in proportion to his
means) would go beyond myself in contributing to raise a monumental
column which should outvie the pillars dedicated in Dublin to the
glorious butcheries of _Trafalgar and Waterloo_: while _these_ are
proudly commemorated, no national pile records the more truly glorious
triumphs of 1782—nor the formation of that irresistible army of
volunteers which (in a right cause) defied all the power of England! But
my voice shall not be silent: and deeply do I regret the untoward fate
by which this just tribute to national and individual virtues has
devolved upon the feeble powers of an almost superannuated writer.

Ireland gave me birth and bread; and though I am disgusted with its
present state, I love the country still. I have endeavoured to give (in
a more important work) some sketches of its modern history at the most
prosperous epochas, with gloomy anecdotes of its fall as an independent
kingdom; and if God grants me a little longer space, I shall publish my
honest ideas of the ruin to which the British Empire will not long
remain blind, if she continue to pursue the same system (which seven
hundred years have proved to be a destructive one) in that misgoverned

Extract of a letter from Sir Jonah Barrington to the present Henry
Grattan, Esq., M.P.:—

    “My dear Grattan,

            “I regret your not receiving my letter, in reply to
    yours, written immediately after the lamented departure of my
    honoured friend. In that letter I proposed forthwith to publish
    the sequel of my character of Mr. Grattan, accompanied with his
    portrait and some additional observations. I had composed the
    sequel, much to my own satisfaction, as the continuation of his
    character promised in the number of my historical work where I
    say ‘his career is not yet finished.’

    “Your last letter did not reach me for five months, and having
    received no reply to mine, I threw the manuscript into the fire,
    keeping no copy; it was scarcely consumed, however, before I
    repented the having done so.

    “But now permit an old and sensitive friend to expostulate a
    little with you, in the simple garb of queries:—

    “Why, and for what good reason,—with what policy, or on what
    feeling, are the bones of the most illustrious of Irishmen
    suffered to moulder in the same ground with his country’s

    “Why suffer him to be escorted to the grave by the mock
    pageantry of those whose political vices and corruptions
    ravished from Ireland every thing which his talent and integrity
    had obtained for her?

    “Why send his countrymen on a foreign pilgrimage, to worship the
    shrine of their canonised benefactor? Were not the cathedrals of
    Ireland worthy to be honoured by his urn,—or the youths of Erin
    to be animated by knowing that they possessed his ashes? Can it
    be gratifying to the feelings of his countrymen to pay the
    sexton of a British abbey a mercenary shilling for permission
    even to see the grave-stone of your parent?[65]

    “You were deceived by the blandishments of our mortal enemy: he
    knew that political idolatry has great power, and excites great
    influence in nations. The shrine of a patriot has often proved
    to be the standard of liberty; and it was therefore good policy
    in a British statesman to suppress our excitements:—the
    mausoleum of Rousseau is raised in France—the _tradition_ of
    Grattan only will remain to his compatriots.

    “He lived the life—he died the death—but he does not sleep in
    the tomb of an Irish patriot! England has taken away our
    constitution, and even the relics of its founder are retained
    through the duplicity of his enemy.

    “You have now my sentiments on the matter, and by frankly
    expressing them, I have done my duty to you, to myself, and to
    my country.

    “Your ever affectionate and sincere friend,

                                                 “JONAH BARRINGTON.”


Footnote 65:

      I was myself once refused even admittance into Westminster
      Abbey, wherein his ashes rest!—the sexton affirming that the
      _proper hour_ was past!


                         HIGH LIFE IN NEWGATE.

Lord Aldborough quizzes the Lord Chancellor—Voted a libeller by the
  House of Peers—His spirited conduct—Sentenced to imprisonment in
  Newgate by the Court of King’s Bench—Memoirs of Mr. Knaresborough—His
  extraordinary trial—Sentenced to death, but transported—Escapes from
  Botany Bay, returns to England, and is committed to Newgate, where he
  seduces Lady Aldborough’s attendant—Prizes in the lottery—Miss Barton
  dies in misery.

Lord Aldborough was an arrogant and ostentatious man; but these failings
were nearly redeemed by his firmness and gallantry in his memorable
collision with Lord Chancellor Clare.

Lord Aldborough, who had built a most tasteful and handsome house
immediately at the northern extremity of Dublin, had an equity suit with
Mr. Beresford, a nephew of Lord Clare, as to certain lots of ground
close to his lordship’s new and magnificent mansion, which, among other
conveniences, had a chapel on one wing and a theatre on the other,
stretching away from the centre in a chaste style of ornamental

The cause was in Chancery, and was not protracted very long. Lord
Aldborough was defeated, with full costs: his pride, his purse, and his
mansion, must all suffer; and meddling with either of these was
sufficient to rouse his lordship’s spleen. He appealed, therefore, to
the House of Peers, where, in due season, the cause came on for hearing,
and where the chancellor himself presided. The lay lords did not much
care to interfere in the matter; and, without loss of time, Lord Clare
of the House of Peers confirmed the decree of Lord Clare of the Court of
Chancery, with full costs against the appellant.

Lord Aldborough had now no redress but to write _at_ the lord
chancellor; and without delay he fell to composing a book against Lord
Clare and the system of appellant jurisdiction, stating that it was
totally an abuse of justice to be obliged to appeal to a prejudiced man
against his own prejudices,—and particularly so in the present instance,
Lord Clare being notorious as an unforgiving chancellor to those who
vexed him: few lords attending to hear the cause, and such as did not
being much wiser for the hearing:—it being the province of counsel to
puzzle not to inform noblemen, he had no chance.

Lord Aldborough, in his book, humorously enough stated an occurrence
that had happened to himself when travelling in Holland. His lordship
was going to Amsterdam on one of the canals in a trekschuit—the captain
or skipper of which, being a great rogue, extorted from his lordship for
his passage much more than he had a lawful right to claim. My lord
expostulated with the skipper in vain: the fellow grew rude; his
lordship persisted; the skipper got more abusive. At length Lord
Aldborough told him he would, on landing, immediately go to the proper
tribunals and get redress from the judge. The skipper cursed him as an
impudent _milord_, and desired him to do his worst, snapping his tarry
_finger-posts_ in his lordship’s face. Lord Aldborough paid the demand,
and, on landing, went to the legal officer to know when the court of
justice would sit. He was answered, at nine next morning. Having no
doubt of ample redress, he did not choose to put the skipper on his
guard by mentioning his intentions. Next morning he went to court, and
began to tell his story to the judge, who sat with his broad-brimmed hat
on, in great state, to hear causes of that nature. His lordship fancied
he had seen the man before; nor was he long in doubt! for ere he had
half finished, the judge, in a voice like thunder, (but which his
lordship immediately recognised, for it was that of the identical
skipper!) decided against him _with full costs_, and ordered him out of
court. His lordship, however, said he would _appeal_, and away he went
to an advocate for that purpose. He did accordingly appeal, and the next
day his appeal cause came regularly on. But all his lordship’s stoicism
forsook him, when he again perceived that the very same skipper and
judge was to decide _the appeal_ who had decided _the cause_; so that
the learned skipper first cheated, and then sent him about his business,
with three sets of _costs_ to console him.

The noble writer having in his book made a very improper and derogatory
application of this Dutch precedent to Lord Chancellor Clare and the
Irish appellant jurisdiction, was considered by his brother peers as
having committed a gross breach of their privileges, and was thereupon
ordered to attend in his place, and defend himself (if any defence he
had) from the charge made against him by the lord chancellor and the
peers of Ireland. Of course the House of Lords was thronged to excess to
hear his lordship’s vindication. I went an hour before it met, to secure
a place behind the throne, where the commoners were allowed to crowd up
as well as they could.

The chancellor, holding the vicious book in his hand, asked Lord
Aldborough if he admitted that it was of his writing and publication? To
which his lordship replied,—that he could admit nothing as written or
published by him, till every word of it should be first truly read to
their lordships aloud in the House. Lord Clare, wishing to curtail some
parts, began to read it himself; but being rather short, and not quite
near enough to the light, his opponent took a pair of enormous
candlesticks from the table, walked deliberately up to the throne, and
requested the chancellor’s permission to hold the candles for him whilst
he was reading the book! This novel sort of effrontery put the
chancellor completely off his guard: he was outdone, and permitted Lord
Aldborough to hold the lights, whilst he read aloud the libel comparing
himself to a Dutch skipper: nor did the obsequious author omit to set
him right here and there when he omitted a word or proper emphasis. It
was ludicrous beyond example, and gratifying to the secret ill-wishers
of Lord Clare, who bore no small proportion to the aggregate numbers of
the House. The libel being duly read through, Lord Aldborough at once
spiritedly and adroitly said that he avowed every word of it to their
lordships;—but that it was not intended as any _libel_ either against
the House or the jurisdiction, but as a constitutional and just rebuke
to their lordships for not performing their bounden duty in attending
the hearing of the appeal: he being quite certain that if any sensible
men had been present, the lord chancellor would only have had two lords
and two bishops (of his own creation) on his side of the question.

This was considered as an aggravation of the contempt, though some
thought it was not very far from matter-of-fact.—The result was, that
after a bold speech, delivered with great earnestness, his lordship was
voted guilty of a high breach of privilege toward the Irish House of
Peers, and a libel on the lord chancellor, as chairman of the House.

His lordship was afterward ordered to Newgate for six months by the
Court of King’s Bench (on an information filed against him by the
attorney-general for a libel on Lord Clare); which sentence, he told
them, he considered, under the circumstances, as a high compliment and
honour. In fact, he never was so pleased as when speaking of the
incident, and declaring that he expected to have his book recorded on
the Journals of the Lords:—the chancellor himself (by _applying_ his
anecdote of the Dutch skipper) having construed it into a regular
episode on his own proceedings and those of the peerage.

Lord Aldborough underwent his full sentence in Newgate; and his
residence there gave rise to a fresh incident in the memoirs of a very
remarkable person, who, at that time, was an inmate of the same walls
(originally likewise through the _favour_ of Chancellor Clare), and
lodged on the same staircase; and as I had been professionally
interested in this man’s affairs, I subjoin the following statement as
curious, and in every circumstance, to my personal knowledge,

James Fitzpatrick Knaresborough was a young man of tolerable private
fortune in the county of Kilkenny. Unlike the common run of young men at
that day, he was sober, money-making, and even avaricious, though
moderately hospitable; his principal _virtue_ consisting in making no
_exhibition_ of his _vices_. He was of good figure; and, without having
the presence of a gentleman, was what is called a handsome young fellow.

Mr. Knaresborough had been accused of a capital crime by a Miss Barton,
(natural daughter of William Barton, Esq., a magistrate of the county of
Kilkenny,) who stated that she had gone away with him for the purpose,
and in the strict confidence, of being married the same day at Leighlin
Bridge.—Her father was a gentleman, a magistrate, and of consideration
in the county, and a warrant was granted against Knaresborough for the
felony; but he contrived to get liberated on bail—the amount being
doubled. The grand-jury, however, on the young woman’s testimony, found
true bills against him for the capital offence, and he came to Carlow to
take his trial at the assizes. He immediately called on me with a
brief,—said it was a mere _bagatelle_, and totally unfounded,—and that
his acquittal would be a matter of course. I had been retained against
him; but introduced him to the present Judge Moore, to whom he handed
his brief. He made so light of the business, that he told me to get up a
famous speech against him, as no doubt I was instructed to do: that
indeed I could not say too much; as the whole would appear, on _her own
confession_, to be a conspiracy! nay, so confident was he of procuring
his acquittal, that he asked Mr. Moore and myself to dine with him on
our road to Kilkenny, which we promised.

On reading my brief, I found that, truly, the case was not over-strong
against him even there, where, in all probability, circumstances would
be exaggerated; and that it rested almost exclusively on the lady’s own
evidence: hence, I had little doubt that, upon cross-examination, the
prisoner would be acquitted.

The trial proceeded. I was then rather young at the bar, and determined,
for my own sake, to make an interesting and affecting speech for my
client;—and having no doubt of Knaresborough’s acquittal, I certainly
overcharged my statement, and added some _facts_ solely from invention.
My surprise, then, may be estimated, when I heard Miss Barton swear
positively to _every syllable_ of my emblazonment! I should now have
found myself most painfully circumstanced, but that I had no doubt she
_must_ be altogether deprived of credit by his counsel; and, in fact,
she _was_ quite shaken on her cross-examination. The prisoner’s advocate
smiled at her and at us; and said, “the woman’s credit was so clearly
overthrown, that there could be no doubt of Knaresborough’s innocence of
the charge of _violence_; and any protracted defence on so clear a
subject would be useless.”

The court seemed to acquiesce. I considered all was over, and left the
place as the jury retired. In about an hour, however, I received an
account that Knaresborough had been found _guilty_, and sent back to
gaol under sentence of death!—I was thunderstruck, and without delay
wrote to the chief secretary, in Dublin, begging him instantly to
represent to the lord lieutenant the real facts, and that I, as counsel
for the prosecution, knew the total _falsity_ of a great part of her
evidence:—execution was in consequence respited. So soon as I could
return to town, I waited on Major Hobart and the lord lieutenant, stated
precisely the particulars I have here given, and my satisfaction (even
from my own brief) that the girl was perjured. They referred me to Lord
Chancellor Clare, whose answer I wrote down, and never shall forget:
“That may be all very true, Barrington! but he is a rascal, and if he
does not deserve to be hanged for _this_, he does for a _former_
affair,[66] right well!” I told him it was quite necessary for me to
publish the whole matter, in my own justification. He then took from his
bureau a small parcel of papers, and requested me to read them: they
proved to be copies of affidavits and evidence on a former accusation,
(from which Knaresborough had escaped by lenity,) for snapping a pistol
at the father of a girl he had seduced.—Lord Clare, however, recommended
his sentence to be changed to transportation: but this was to the
convict worse than death, and he enclosed to me a petition which he had
sent to government, declining the proposed commutation, and insisting on
being forthwith executed, pursuant to his first sentence!
Notwithstanding, he was, in fine, actually transported. He had contrived
to secure in different ways 10,000_l._, and took a large sum with him to
Botany Bay. I had heard no more of him for several years,—when I was
astonished one day by being accosted in the streets of Dublin by this
identical man, altered only by time and in the colour of his hair, which
had turned quite gray. He was well dressed, had a large cockade in his
hat, and did not at all court secrecy. He told me that the governor had
allowed him to come away privately: that he had gone through many
entertaining and some dismal adventures in Africa, and in America—whence
he last came; and he added, that as government were then busy raising
troops, he had sent in a memorial, proposing to raise a regiment for a
distant service, solely at his own expense. “I have,” said he, “saved
sufficient money for this purpose, though my brother has got possession
of a great part of my fortune.” In fact, he memorialised and teased the
government (who were surprised at his temerity, yet unwilling to meddle
with him) until at length they had him arrested, and required to show
his written authority from the governor of New South Wales for returning
from transportation,—which being unable to do, he was committed to
Newgate, to await the governor’s reply.


Footnote 66:

  The former affair alluded to by Lord Clare was certainly of a most
  unpardonable description.


Here his firmness and eccentricity never forsook him; he sent in
repeated petitions to the ministry, requesting to be hanged, and told me
he would give any gentleman 500_l._ who had sufficient interest to get
him put to death without delay! An unsatisfactory answer arrived from
New South Wales:—but the government could not, under the circumstances,
execute him for his return;—and liberate him Lord Clare _would_ not: his
confinement therefore was, of course, indefinitely continued. During its
course he purchased a lottery ticket, which turned out a prize of
2000_l._; and soon after, a second brought him 500_l._ He lived well;
but having no society, was determined to provide himself a companion at
all events.

At this juncture the Earl of Aldborough became his next-door
neighbour.—My lady (the best wife in the world) did not desert her
husband; and, as all women of rank entertain what they call a “young
person” to attend on them;—that is, (speaking generally) a girl
handsomer than the mistress, neater in her dress, as good in her
address—and more _cautious_ as to her character;—Lady Aldborough brought
such a one with her to the prison as her dresser and tea-maker. But this
“young person,” considering (as Swift says) that “service is no
inheritance,” and that she had no money of her own, and hearing that
Fitzpatrick Knaresborough possessed great plenty of that necessary
article, some way or other the metallic tractors brought them acquainted
on the stairs. To run away with him, she had only to trip across a
lobby: so she actually broke the sabbath by taking that journey one
Sunday morning, and left my lord and my lady to finish the morning
service, and wonder at the attractions of Newgate, which could set
a-wandering the virtue of their “_young person_,” whom all the
temptations, luxuries, and lovers of London and Dublin had never been
able to lead astray from the path of rectitude! My lady was surprised
how “Anna” could possibly connect herself with a convict for such a
_shocking_ crime;—but his lordship, who knew the world better, said
_that_ was the very reason why Anna admired him. However, the whole
business in all its ramifications terminated pretty fortunately. My lord
had his full revenge on Lord Clare, and got great credit for his
firmness and gallantry; Knaresborough was at length turned out of
Newgate when the government were tired of keeping him in; while the
“young person” produced sundry other young persons of her own in prison,
and was amply provided for. The only set-off to this comedy of “All’s
Well that Ends Well” was the melancholy fate of poor Miss Barton, who
married, was soon deserted by her husband, after his beating her
unmercifully, and died in misery.

                          JOHN PHILPOT CURRAN.

Sketch of his character—Personal description—Lodgings at Carlow—Mr.
  Curran and Mr. Godwin—Scenes in the “Cannon” coffee-house—_Liberality_
  of mine host—Miss H * * * in heroics—Precipitate retreat—Lord
  Clancarty—Mr. Curran’s notion of his own prowess—The disqualifications
  of a wig—Lord and Lady Carleton—Curran in 1812—An attorney turned
  cobbler—Curran’s audience of the present king of France—Strictures on
  his biographers.

There have been few public men whose characters have afforded a more
ample field for comment than that of Mr. Curran, and there are _very_
few who have been more miserably handled by their biographers. Young
men, who fancied they knew him because they were latterly in his
society, in fact knew him not at all. None but the intimates of his
earlier and brighter days, and, even among such, those only who had
mixed with him in general as well as professional society, could
possibly estimate the inconsistent qualities of that celebrated orator.
There was such a mingling of greatness and littleness, of sublimity and
meanness, in his thoughts and language, that cursory observers (confused
amidst his versatility and brilliance) quitted Curran’s society without
understanding any thing relating to him beyond his buoyant spirits and
playful wit. But toward the close of his days this splendour dissipated,
and dark and gloomy tints appeared too conspicuously, poor fellow! for
his posthumous reputation. He felt his decline pressing quick upon him,
and gradually sank into listless apathy.

In 1790 he was in the zenith of his glory; but even so early as 1796,
his talents and popularity seemed to me to have commenced an obvious
declension. By seceding from parliament, he evacuated the field of
battle and that commanding eminence from whence he had so proudly
repulsed all his enemies. His talents, for a while survived; but his
habits of life became contracted, his energies were paralysed, his mind
rambled, he began to _prose_,—and, after his appointment to the Rolls,
the world seemed to be closing fast upon him.

My intimacy with Curran was long and close. I knew every turn of his
mind and every point of his capacity. He was not fitted to pursue the
subtleties of detail;—but his imagination was wide-ranging and infinite,
his fancy boundless, his wit indefatigable. There was scarce any species
of talent to which he did not possess some pretension. He was gifted by
nature with the first faculties of an advocate and of a dramatist; and
the lesser but ingenious accomplishment of personification (without
mimicry) was equally familiar to him. In the circles of society, where
he appeared every body’s superior, nobody ever seemed jealous of that
superiority:—it soared too high above the pretensions of others.

Curran’s person was mean and decrepid: very slight, very shapeless—with
nothing of the gentleman about it; on the contrary, displaying spindle
limbs, a shambling gait, one hand imperfect, and a face yellow,
furrowed, rather flat, and thoroughly ordinary. Yet his features were
the reverse of disagreeable: there was something so indescribably
dramatic in his eye and the play of his eyebrow, that his visage seemed
the index of his mind, and his humour the slave of his will. I never was
so happy in the company of any man as in Curran’s for many years. His
_errors_ he made _interesting_—his very _foibles_ were amusing.—He had
no vein for poetry; yet fancying himself a bard, he fabricated pretty
verses: he certainly was no musician; but conceiving himself to be one,
played pleasantly on the fiddle. Nature had denied him a voice; but he
thought he could sing; and in the rich mould of his capabilities, the
desire here also engendered the capacity, and his Irish ballads were
excessively entertaining.

It is a curious, but a just remark, that every slow, _crawling_ reptile
is in the highest degree disgusting; while an insect, ten times uglier,
if it be sprightly and seem bent upon enjoyment, excites no shudder. It
is so with the human race: had Curran been a dull, slothful, torpid
mannerist, all his talents would not have redeemed his personal
defects.—But his rapid movements,—his fire,—his sparkling eye,—the fine
and varied intonations of his voice,—these conspired to give energy to
every word he uttered, and new life to every company he mixed with; and
I have known ladies who, after an hour’s conversation, actually
considered Curran a _beauty_, and preferred his society to that of the
finest fellows present. There is, however, it must be admitted, a good
deal in the circumstance of a man being _celebrated_, as regards the
patronage of females.—Nothing flatters a woman so much as being noticed
by a man of talent: she considers it as a public eulogium on his own
understanding: her looking-glass had told her she was _pretty_; but she
was not so certain of her _intellectual_ attractions.

Curran had a perfect _horror_ of fleas: nor was this very extraordinary,
since those vermin seemed to show him peculiar hostility. If they
infested a house, my friend said, that “they always flocked to his
bed-chamber, when they heard he was to sleep there!” I recollect his
being dreadfully annoyed in this way at Carlow; and, on making his
complaint in the morning to the woman of the house, “By Heavens! madam,”
cried he, “they were in such numbers, and seized upon my carcase with so
much ferocity, that if they had been _unanimous_, and all pulled one
way, they must have dragged me out of bed entirely!”

I never saw Curran’s opinion of himself so much disconcerted as by Mr.
Godwin, whom he had brought, at the Carlow assizes, to dine with Mr.
Byrne, a friend of ours, in whose cause he and I had been specially
employed as counsel. Curran, undoubtedly, was not so happy as usual in
his speech on this occasion—but he thought he was. Nevertheless, we
succeeded; and Curran, in great spirits, was very anxious to coax a
public compliment from Mr. Godwin, as an eminent literary man, teasing
him (half-jokingly) for his opinion of his speech. Godwin fought shy for
a considerable time; at length, Curran put the question home to him, and
it could no longer be shifted. “Now what did you think of my speech to
evidence, to-day, Godwin?—Eh?”

“Since you _will_ have my opinion,” said Godwin, folding his arms, and
leaning back in his chair with much _sang-froid_, “I really never did
hear any thing so bad as your _prose_—except your _poetry_, my dear

Curran and I were in the habit, for several years, of meeting, by
appointment, in London, during the long vacation, and spending a month
there together, in the enjoyment of the public amusements;—but we were
neither extravagant nor dissipated. We had both some propensities in
common, and a never-failing amusement was derived from drawing out and
remarking upon eccentric characters. Curran played on such people as he
would on an instrument, and produced whatever tone he thought proper
from them. He always kept a good _fiddle_ in London, which he
occasionally brought out under his coat to dining-houses where we were
not known. It produced innumerable adventures; for he played and sang in
the drollest manner.

We were in the habit of frequenting the Cannon coffee-house, Charing
Cross, (kept by the uncle of Mr. Roberts, proprietor of the Royal Hotel,
Calais,) where we had a box every day at the end of the room; and as
Curran was free from professional cares, his universal language was that
of wit, while my high spirits never failed to prompt my performance of
_Jackall_ to the _Lion_. Two young gentlemen of the Irish bar were
frequently of our party in 1796, and contributed to keep up the flow of
wit, which, on Curran’s part, was well-nigh miraculous.

Gradually the ear and attention of the company were caught. Nobody knew
us, and, as if carelessly, the guests flocked round our box to listen.
We perceived them, and increased our flights accordingly. Involuntarily,
they joined in the laugh, and the more so when they saw it gave no
offence. Day after day the number of our auditors increased,—until the
room, at five o’clock, was thronged to hear “the Irishmen.” One or two
days we went elsewhere; and, on returning to “the Cannon,” our host
begged to speak a word with me at the bar. “Sir,” said he, “I never had
such a set of _pleasant_ gentlemen in my house, and I hope you have
received no offence.” I replied, “Quite the contrary!”—“Why, sir,”
rejoined he, “as you did not come the last few days, the company fell
off. Now, sir, I hope you and the other gentleman will excuse me if I
remark that you will find an excellent dish of fish, and a roast turkey
or joint, (with any wine you please,) on your table, every day at five
o’clock, while you stay in town; and, I must beg to add, _no charge_,

I reported to Curran, and we agreed to see it out. The landlord was as
good as his word:—the room was filled: we coined stories to tell each
other; the lookers-on laughed almost to convulsions; and for some time
we literally feasted. Having had our humour out, we desired a bill,
which the landlord positively refused: however, we computed for
ourselves, and sent him a 10_l._ note enclosed in a letter, desiring him
to give the balance to his waiters.

I do not think I was ever so amused in my life, as at that curious
occurrence. One Irish templar alone recognised us, and we made him
promise secrecy as to our names: I never saw him after:—indeed, I
believe he never returned.

An anecdote of a very different nature terminated one of our trips to
London:—I had long known that there had existed what Curran called “a
refined friendship” between him and a Miss Hughes, at Spa. She was
afterward a friend of Holman, the player, and finally married Major
Scott, an associate of Mr. Hastings. Curran asked me one day, if I was
too squeamish to go and sup with a former friend of his, who had pressed
him to come that evening to supper, and permitted him to bring a
companion. He told me who it was, and I was quite pleased at the idea of
knowing a person of whom I had heard so much in Ireland. She had in fact
been a lady of very considerable estate there.

We were received with the greatest cordiality and politeness by Miss
Hughes:—another young lady and two children were in the room. Curran was
most humorous and enlivening, and every thing foreboded a cheerful
_petit soupé_, when the lady told Curran she wished to speak a word to
him in the next room. They accordingly withdrew. I was in conversation
with the governess and children, when I heard a noise like the report of
a small pistol, and Curran immediately rushed into the apartment—Miss
Hughes marching _majestically_ after him. He took no notice of me, but
snatching up his hat, darted down stairs and into the street with the
utmost expedition. I really conceived that she had fired at him; and
feeling dubious as to my own probable fate, (without a word passing,)
pounced upon my _chapeau_, and made after my friend in no small haste. I
could not, however, open the street-door, and therefore gave myself up
for a murdered man, particularly on the bell ringing violently: but the
revulsion of my feelings was quite heavenly when I heard Miss Hughes’s
voice over the banisters calling to her maid to “open the street-door
for the gentleman.” I lost no time in making good my retreat; but did
not see Curran again till next morning.

I had the greatest curiosity to know the cause of his sudden flight;
upon which he told me, but without any symptom of wit or humour, that
she was the most violent-tempered woman existing; that on their going
into the _boudoir_ together, she informed him that she was then
considerably distressed for a sum of money for two or three months; and
that as she had never been under any pecuniary obligation to him, she
would now ask one—namely, the loan of the sum she wanted, on her own
note. Curran, who was particularly close, dreading the amount,
anticipated her demand by hoping she did not suppose he could be so mean
as to require her note for any little advance he might have it in his
power to make; and was happy in handing her _half_ the sum at his
command in London—taking as he spoke a £10 note out of his pocket-book.
“By Heavens! Barrington,” said Curran, “her look petrified me: she gazed
for a moment at the note—tore it to atoms, muttering the word ‘rascal!’
and when I was preparing to make an apology, hit me plump on the side of
the head, with a fist at least as strong as any porter’s! I thought my
brains were knocked out!—did you not hear the crack?” inquired he. “To
be sure I did,” said I; “but I thought it was a _shot_!” “Did she say
any thing,” continued he, “after I was gone away?”—“She _only_ said,”
replied I, “that you were the greatest _rascal_ existing, (hereat Curran
trembled hugely,) and that she would next day find you out wherever you
were, and expose you all over London as a villain and a seducer!”

Curran turned pale as ashes:—he trembled; his lips quavered, and after
staggering about, he made some excuse for leaving the room. Toward
dinner-time, I found I had carried my joke too far; I received a note
stating that he was necessitated to start for Ireland directly on
particular business, and would be off in the mail!

I never told him the truth, particularly since the lady was soon after
married, as I have related, and had a noble establishment in London, and
as I learned that Curran had found means to make his peace with the
offended fair, at whose house and hospitable table he became a frequent

Mrs. Waring afterward broke her neck by a fall down stairs; and some
people averred that a flask or two of champaign had been playing tricks
upon her. She was most agreeable in her address and manner (her
amazonian paroxysms always excepted). The extraordinary length of her
feet (which were like a pair of brackets) should have saved her from
tumbling any where; while, if I could judge by report, it was miraculous
how Curran’s pegs preserved his perpendicular on occasion of what he
termed the diabolical _clout_ she bestowed upon him.

Lord Clancarty and Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald were two Irish barristers in
whom I never could perceive the _raw material_ for _ambassadors_—yet
none ever dropped their “Nisi Prius” with better effect. The former, a
friendly, honourable man, seemed but ill calculated to shine among the
immortal _carvers_, who, at Vienna, cut up nations like dumplings, and
served round people and kingdoms to the members of their company with as
little ceremony as if they had been dealing only with paste and

Lord Clancarty’s family were for a long period highly respected
land-proprietors in County Galway, and at the great cattle fair of
Ballinasloe; but never were remarkable for any profusion of talent. His
lordship’s father, usually called Billy Trench of Ballinasloe, was a
nice dapper little man, wore tight clean leather-breeches, and was very
like the late Lord Clanwilliam, of amorous memory. He was extremely
popular among all classes.

The present peer was called to the Irish bar.—Most men are found to have
some predominant quality when it is properly drawn forth; but, in
sending Mr. Trench to the bar, his friends found (after a due noviciate)
that they were endeavouring to extract the wrong commodity, and that his
law would never furnish sufficient stuffing to keep emptiness _out of_
his pocket. During the rebellion, however, I discovered that he was a
most excellent _serjeant of dragoons_, in which capacity his lordship
did me the honour of being my subaltern in the barristers’ cavalry; and
I have the satisfaction of reflecting, that a considerable portion of
our rank and file were, in a very short time after the Union,
metamorphosed into ambassadors, secretaries, judges, noblemen, bishops,
and ministers!—What a loss must the empire therefore have sustained, if
we had been all piked by the rebels! a result not very improbable, as I
am apprehensive we should have proved rather helpless fellows in a
general engagement with 20 or 30,000 of those desperate gentry! in which
case, the whole kingdom of Ireland would have been left with scarcely
sufficient professors of the art of litigation to keep that science (as
well as the church and state) in preservation till new lawyers could be
broken into harness.

Curran took no part in those fierce military associations, and he was
quite right. He was perfectly unadapted either to command or to obey;
and as he must have done the one or the other, he managed much better by
keeping out of the broil altogether;—as he himself said to me—“If I were
mounted on ever so good a charger, it is probable I should not stick ten
minutes on his back in any kind of battle: and if my sword was ever so
sharp, I should not be able to cut a rebel’s head off, unless he
promised to ‘_stand easy_’ and in a good position for me.”

Curran had ordered a new bar wig, and not liking the cut of it, he
jestingly said to the peruke-maker, “Mr. Gahan, this wig will not answer
me at all!”

“How so, sir?” said Gahan: “it seems to fit, and covers your ears
extremely well.”

“Ay,” replied Curran, “but it is the very worst _speaking_ wig I ever
had. I can scarce utter one word of _common law_ in it; and as for
_equity_, it is totally out of the question.”

“Well, sir,” said Mr. Gahan, the wig-maker, with a serious face, “I hope
it may be no loss to me. I dare say it will answer Counsellor Trench.”

But Counsellor Trench would not take the wig. He said, though it did not
impede his _speech_, he could not _hear_ a word in it. At length, it was
sent by Gahan to Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald, who, having at that time no
pressing occasion for either a speaking or hearing wig (in a
professional way), and the wig fitting his head, he purchased it from
Mr. Gahan, who sold it a bargain, on account of its bad
character;—though Curran afterwards said, “he admitted that the wig had
been grossly calumniated; for the very same head which Mr. Vesey
Fitzgerald then put it on was afterward fixed up at the front of the
Irish exchequer, where every one of the king’s debtors and farmers were
obliged to pay the wig-wearer some very handsome and _substantial_
compliment!—the said wearer not being necessitated either to _hear_ or
_speak_ one word upon the occasion.”

Chief Justice Carleton was a very languishing personage. He never ceased
complaining of his bad state of health, and frequently introduced Lady
Carleton into his “Book of Lamentations:” thence it was remarked by
Curran to be very extraordinary, that the chief justice should appear as
plaintiff (_plaintive_) in every cause that happened to come before him!

One _Nisi Prius_ day, Lord Carleton came into court, looking unusually
gloomy. He apologised to the bar for being necessitated to adjourn the
court and dismiss the jury for that day; “though,” proceeded his
lordship, “I am aware that an important issue stands for trial: but, the
fact is, I have met with a domestic misfortune, which has altogether
deranged my nerves!—Poor Lady Carleton (in a low tone to the bar) has
most unfortunately _miscarried_, and——”

“Oh, then, my Lord!” exclaimed Curran, “there was no necessity for your
lordship to make any apology; it now appears that your lordship has _no
issue_ to try.”

The chief justice faintly smiled, and thanked the bar for their

In 1812, Curran dined at my house in Brookstreet, London. He was very
dejected: I did my utmost to rouse him—in vain. He leaned his face on
his hand, and was long silent. He looked yellow and wrinkled; the
dramatic fire had left his eye, the spirit of his wit had fled, his
person was shrunken, his features were all relaxed and drooping, and his
whole demeanour appeared miserably distressing.

After a long pause, a dubious tear standing in his dark eye, he on a
sudden exclaimed, with a sort of desperate composure, “Barrington, I am
perishing! day by day I’m perishing! I feel it: you knew me when I
_lived_—and you witness my _annihilation_.” He was again silent.

I felt deeply for him. I saw that he spoke truth: his lamp was fast
approaching its last glimmer: reasoning with him would have been vain,
and I therefore tried another course—_bagatelle_. I jested with him, and
reminded him of old anecdotes. He listened—gradually his attention was
caught, and at length I excited a smile; a laugh soon followed, a few
glasses of wine brought him to his natural temperament, and Curran was
himself for a great part of the evening. I saw, however, that he would
soon relapse, and so it turned out: he began to talk to me about his
_family_, and that very wildly. He had conceived some strange prejudices
on that head, which I disputed with him, until I was wearied. It was a
subject he seemed actually insane on: his ideas were quite
_extraordinary_, and appeared to me steeled against all reason. He said
he felt his last day approaching; his thoughts had taken their _final
station_, and were unchangeable.

We supped together, and he sat cheerful enough till I turned him into a
coach, at one o’clock in the morning.

Mr. Curran had a younger brother, who was an attorney—very like him, but
taller and better-looking. This man had a good deal of his brother’s
humour, a little wit, and much satire; but his slang was infinite, and
his conduct very dissolute. He was, in fact, what may be termed the best
blackguard of his profession (and that was saying a great deal for him).
My friend had justly excluded him from his house, but occasionally
relieved his finances, until these calls became so importunate, that, at
length, further compliance was refused.

“Sir,” said the attorney to me one day, “if you will speak to my
brother, I am sure he’ll give me something handsome before the week is
out!” I assured him he was mistaken, whereupon he burst into a loud

There was a small space of dead wall, at that time, directly facing
Curran’s house, in Ely Place; against which the attorney procured a
written permission to build a little wooden box. He accordingly got a
carpenter (one of his comrades) to erect a cobbler’s stall there for
him; and having assumed the dress of a Jobson, he wrote over his stall,
“Curran, Cobbler:—Shoes toe-pieced, soled, or heeled, on the shortest
notice:—when the stall is shut, inquire _over the way_.”

Curran, on returning from court, perceived this worthy hard at work,
with a parcel of chairmen lounging round him. The attorney just nodded
to his brother, cried, “How do you do, Jack?” and went on with his

Curran immediately despatched a servant for the spendthrift, to whom
having given some money, the show-board was taken down, the stall
removed, and the attorney vowed that he would never set up again as a

I never knew Curran express more unpleasant feelings than at a
circumstance which really was too trivial to excite any such; but this
was his humour: he generally thought more of trifles than of matters of
importance, and worked himself up into most painful sensations upon
subjects which should only have excited his laughter.

At the commencement of the peace he came to Paris, determined to get
into French society, and thus be enabled to form a better idea of their
habits and manners,—a species of knowledge for which he quite
languished. His parasites (and he liked such) had told him that his fame
had already preceded him even to the closet of Louis _le Désiré_: he
accordingly procured letters of introduction from persons of high rank
in England, who had foolishly lavished favours and fortunes on the gang
of emigrants, in general the most ungrateful (as time has demonstrated)
of the human species, although it was then universally believed that
they could not _quite_ forget the series of kindnesses which had
preserved them from starving or from massacre.

Among other letters, he had the honour of bearing one, couched in strong
terms, from his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex to the Count d’Artois,
now King of France.

“Now I am in the right line,” said Curran, “introduced by a branch of
one royal family to that of another: now I shall have full opportunity
of forming my own opinion as to the sentiments of the old and new
nobility of France, whereon I have been eternally though rather blindly

I was rather sceptical, and said, “I am disposed to think that you will
argue more than ever when you get home again. If you want _sentiment_,
they say in England that Monsieur has very little of _Sterne_ in his

“Egad, I believe there is _two_ of you!” retorted Curran; and away he
went to the Tuileries, to enter his name and see Monsieur. Having left
his card and letters of introduction (as desired), he waited ten days
for an audience: Monsieur was occupied.—A second entry was now made by
Curran at the palace; and after ten days more, a third: but Monsieur was
still _occupied_. A fresh entry and card of J. P. C. had no better
success. In my life I never saw Curran so chagrined. He had devised
excuses for the prince two or three times: but this last instance of
neglect quite overcame him, and in a few days he determined to return to
Ireland without seeing the Count d’Artois or ascertaining the sentiments
of the ancient and modern French nobility. He told his story to Mr.
Lewins, a friend of ours in Paris, who said it must be some omission of
the Swiss.

“Certainly,” said Curran, catching at this straw, “it must, no doubt. It
must be some omission of the Swiss. I’ll wait _one week_ more:” and his
opinion was in a few days realised by the receipt of a note from
Monsieur’s aide-de-camp, stating, that His Royal Highness would be glad
to receive Mr. Curran at eight o’clock the following morning at the

About nine o’clock he returned to the hotel, and all I could get from
him, in his wrath, was “D——n!” In fact, he looked absolutely miserable.
“Only think!” said he, at length; “he told me he always dined with his
_brother_, and kept no establishment of his own; then bowed me out, by
——, as if I was an importunate _dancing-master_!”

“Wait till _the next revolution_, Curran,” said I, “and _then_ we’ll be
even with him!”

At this moment Mr. Lewins came in, and, with a most cheerful
countenance, said, “Well, Curran, I carried your point!”

“What point?” said Curran.

“I knew it would _take_,” pursued Lewins, smirking: “I told Monsieur’s
aide-de-camp that you felt quite hurt and unhappy on account of
Monsieur’s having taken no notice of your letters or yourself, though
you had paid him _four_ visits at long intervals, and that—”

“What do you say?” shouted Curran.

Upon Lewins repeating his words with infinite glee, my disappointed
friend burst out into a regular frenzy, slapped his face repeatedly, and
ran about, exclaiming, “I’m disgraced! I’m humbled in the eyes of that
man! I’m _miserable_!”

I apprehend he experienced but little more civility from any of the
restored gentry of the French emigrants, to several of whom he had
brought letters, and I am sure had he received any notable invitation
from them, I must have heard of it. I fancy that a glass of _eau sucré_
was the very extent of the practical hospitality he experienced from
_Messieurs les émigrés_, who, if I might judge by their jaws and cravats
of the quantity and quality of their food, and of their credit with
washerwomen, were by no means in so flourishing a state as when they
lived on our benevolence.

There is much of the life of this celebrated man[67] omitted by those
who have attempted to write it. Even his son (a barrister, whom I have
never seen) could have known but little of him, as he was not born at
the time his father’s glories were at their zenith. Before he became the
biographer of his celebrated parent, Mr. Curran would have done well to
inquire who had been that parent’s decided friends, and who his
invidious enemies; who supported him when his fame was tottering, and
who assailed him when he was incapable of resistance: if he had used
this laudable discretion before he commenced his _character_, he would
probably have learned how to _eulogise_, and how to _censure_, with more
justice and discrimination.


Footnote 67:

  Curran died, I believe, at Brompton, and was buried in Paddington
  church-yard; but I am ignorant whether or not a stone marks the spot.


No gentlemen of our day knew Mr. Curran more intimately than myself,
although our natural propensities were in many points quite uncongenial.
His vanity too frequently misled his judgment, and he thought himself
surrounded by a crowd of friends, when he was encompassed by a set of
vulgar flatterers: he looked quite carelessly at the distinctions of
society, and in consequence ours was not generally of the same class,
and our intercourse more frequently at my house than at his. But he
could adapt himself to all ranks, and was equally at home at Merrion
Square or at the Priory.

The celebrity of Curran’s life, and the obscurity of his death—the
height of his eminence, and the depth of his depression—the extent of
his talents, and the humiliation of his imbecility—exhibited the
greatest and most singular contrast I ever knew among the host of public
characters with whom I so long associated.

At the bar I never saw an orator so capable of producing those
irresistible transitions of effect which form the true criterion of
forensic eloquence. But latterly, no man became more capable, in private
society, of exciting drowsiness by prosing, or disgust by grossness:
such are the inconsistent materials of humanity.[68]


Footnote 68:

  It is very singular that Mr. Duguery, one of the most accomplished
  men, the most eloquent barristers, and best lawyers I ever knew, (a
  cousin-german of Lord Donoughmore,) fell latterly, though at an early
  age, into a state of total imbecility—became utterly regardless of
  himself, of society, and of the world;—and lived long enough to render
  his death a mercy!


I should not allude here to a painful subject as respects the late Mr.
Curran, had it not been so commonly spoken of, and so prominent an agent
in his ulterior misfortunes: I mean that unlucky suit of his against the
Rev. Mr. Sandes. I endeavoured as much as possible to dissuade him from
commencing that action, having reason to feel convinced that it must
terminate in his discomfiture; but he was obdurate, and had bitter cause
to lament his obduracy. I did my utmost also to dissuade him from his
unfortunate difference with Mr. Ponsonby. I told him (as I firmly
believed) that he was _wrong_, or at all events _imprudent_, and that
his reputation could bear no more trifling with: but he did not credit
me, and that blow felled him to the earth!

                           THE LAW OF LIBEL.

Observations on the law of libel, particularly in Ireland—“Hoy’s
  Mercury”—Messrs. Van Trump and Epaphroditus Dodridge—Former leniency
  regarding cases of libel contrasted with recent severity—Lord Clonmel
  and the Irish bar—Mr. Magee, of the “Dublin Evening Post”—Festivities
  on “Fiat Hill”—Theophilus Swift and his two sons—His duel with the
  Duke of Richmond—The “Monster!”—Swift libels the Fellows of Dublin
  University—His curious trial—Contrast between the English and Irish
  bars—Mr. James Fitzgerald—Swift is found guilty, and sentenced to
  Newgate—Dr. Burrows, one of the Fellows, afterward libels Mr. Swift,
  and is convicted—Both confined in the same apartment at Newgate.

In the early part of my life, the Irish press, though supposed to be
under due restraint, was in fact quite uncontrolled. From the time of
Dean Swift, and Draper’s Letters, its freedom had increased at intervals
not only as to public but private subjects. This was attributable to
several curious causes, which combined to render the law of libel,
although stronger in theory, vastly feebler in practice than at the
present day; and whoever takes the trouble of looking into the Irish
newspapers about the commencement of the American revolution, and to
1782, will find therein some of the boldest writing and ablest _libels_
in the English language. Junius was the pivot on which the liberty of
the press at one moment vibrated: liberty was triumphant; but if that
precedent were to prevail to the same extent, it achieved too much.

The law of libel in England, however railed at, appears to me upon the
freest footing that private or public security can possibly admit. The
press is not encumbered by any _previous_ restraints. Any man may write,
print, and publish whatever he pleases; and none but his own peers and
equals, in two distinct capacities, can declare his culpability, or
enable the law to punish him as a criminal for a breach of it (this
excepts the practice of informations, often necessary). I cannot
conceive what greater liberty or protection the press can require, or
ought to enjoy. If a man voluntarily commits an offence against the law
of libel with his eyes open, it is only fair that he should abide by the
statute that punishes him for doing so. Despotic governments employ a
previous censorship, in order to cloak their crimes and establish their
tyranny. England, on the other hand, appoints independent judges and
sworn jurors to defend her liberties; and hence is confirmed to the
press a wholesome latitude of full and fair discussion on every public
man and measure.

The law of libel in Ireland was formerly very loose and badly
understood, and the courts there had no particular propensity for
multiplying legal difficulties on ticklish subjects.

The judges were then dependant; a circumstance which might have
partially accounted for such causes being less frequent than in later
times: but another reason, more extensively operating, was, that in
those days men who were libelled generally took the law into their own
hands, and eased the King’s Bench of great trouble by the substitution
of a small-sword for an information, or a case of pistols for a
judgment;—and these same articles certainly formed a greater check upon
the propagation of libels than the twelve judges and thirty-six jurors,
altogether, at the present day; and gave rise to a code of laws very
different from those we call municipal. A third consideration is, that
scolding-matches and disputes among soldiers were then never made
matters of legal inquiry. Military officers are now, by statute,[69]
held unfit to remain such _if_ they _fight_ one another, whilst formerly
they were thought unfit to remain in the army if they did _not_:
formerly, they were bound to fight in person; now, they can fight by
proxy, and in Ireland may hire champions to contest the matter for them
every day in the week, (Sunday excepted,) and so decide their quarrels
without the least danger or one drop of bloodshed. A few able lawyers,
armed with paper and parchment, will fight for them all day long, and,
if necessary, all night likewise; and that, probably, for only as much
recompense as may be sufficient to provide a handsome entertainment to
some of the spectators and pioneer attorneys, who are generally
bottle-holders on these occasions.


Footnote 69:

  See the Mutiny Act.


Another curious anomaly is become obvious. If _lawyers_ now refuse to
pistol each other, they may be scouted out of society as cowards, though
duelling is _against_ the _law_! but if military officers take a shot at
each other, they may be dismissed from the army, though fighting is the
essence and object of their profession: so that a civilian, by the new
lights of society, changes places with the soldier;—the soldier is bound
to be peaceable, and the civilian is forced to be pugnacious—_cedent
arma togæ_. It is curious to conjecture what our next metamorphosis may

The first publication which gave rise (so far as I can remember) to
decided measures for restraining the Irish press, was a newspaper called
“Hoy’s Mercury,” published above fifty years ago by Mr. Peter Hoy, a
printer, in Parliament-street, whom I saw some time since in his shop,
on Ormond Quay, in good health, and who voted for me on the Dublin
election of 1803.

In this newspaper Mr. Hoy brought forward two fictitious characters—one
called Van Trump, the other Epaphroditus Dodridge. These he represented
as standing together in one of the most public promenades of the Irish
capital; and the one, on describing the appearance, features, and dress
of each passer-by, and asking his companion—who that was?—received, in
reply, a full account of the individual, to such a degree of accuracy as
to leave no doubt respecting identity—particularly in a place so
contracted as (comparatively speaking) Dublin then was. In this way as
much libellous matter was disseminated as would now send a publisher to
gaol for half his life; and the affair was so warmly and generally taken
up, that the lawyers were set to work, Peter Hoy sadly terrified, and
Van Trump and Epaphroditus Dodridge banished from that worthy person’s

But the most remarkable observation is, that so soon as the Irish judges
were, in 1782, made by statute independent of the crown, the law of
libel became more strictly construed, and libellers more severely
punished. This can only be accounted for by supposing that, while
dependent, the judges felt that any peculiar rigour might be attributed,
in certain instances, less to their justice than to their policy; and,
being thus sensitive (especially in regard to crown cases), they were
cautious of pushing the enactments to their full scope. After the
provision which rendered them independent of the ruling powers, this
delicacy became needless:—but, nevertheless, a candid judge will always
bear in mind, that austerity is no necessary attribute of justice, which
is always more efficient in its operation when tempered with mercy. The
unsalutary harshness of our penal code has become notorious. True, it is
not acted up to; and this is only another modification of the evil,
since it tempts almost every culprit to anticipate his own escape. On
the continent it is different. There, the punishment which the law
provides is _certainly_ inflicted: and the consequence is, that in
France there is not above _one_ capital conviction to any _twenty_ in

The late Lord Clonmel’s[70] heart was nearly broken by vexations
connected with his public functions. He had been in the habit of holding
parties to excessive bail in libel cases on his own fiat, which method
of proceeding was at length regularly challenged and brought forward;
and, the matter being discussed with asperity in parliament, his
lordship was restrained from pursuing such courses for the future.


Footnote 70:

  His lordship’s only son (married to a daughter of the Earl of Warwick)
  is now a total absentee, and exhibits another lamentable proof, that
  the children even of men who rose to wealth and title by the favours
  of the Irish people feel disgusted, and renounce for ever that country
  to which they are indebted for their bread and their elevation!


He had in the Court of King’s Bench, about 1789, used rough language
toward Mr. Hackett, a gentleman of the bar, the members of which
profession at that time considered themselves as all assailed in the
person of a brother barrister. A general meeting was therefore called by
the father of the bar; a severe condemnation of his lordship’s conduct
voted, with only one dissentient voice; and an unprecedented resolution
entered into, that “until his lordship publicly apologised, no barrister
would either take a brief, appear in the King’s Bench, or sign any
pleadings for that court.”

This experiment was actually tried:—the judges sat, but no counsel
appeared; no cause was prepared; the attorneys all vanished, and their
lordships had the court to themselves. There was no alternative; and
next day Lord Clonmel published a very ample apology, by advertisement
in the newspapers, and, with excellent address, made it appear as if
written on the evening of the offence, and therefore voluntary.[71]


Footnote 71:

  An occurrence somewhat of the same nature took place at no very great
  distance of time, at Maryborough assizes, between Mr. Daley, a judge
  of the Irish Court of King’s Bench, and Mr. W. Johnson, now judge of
  the Common Pleas.

  Mr. Daley spoke of committing Mr. Johnson for being rude to him; but,
  unfortunately, he committed himself! A meeting was called, at which I
  was requested to attend; but I declined, and was afterward informed
  that my refusal had (very unjustly) given offence to _both_ parties.
  The fact is, that, entertaining no very high opinion of the
  placability of either, I did not choose to interfere, and so unluckily
  replied that “they might _fight dog_, _fight bear_,—I would give no
  opinion about the matter.”

  One of the few things I ever forgot is, the way in which that affair
  terminated:—it made little impression on me at the time, and so my
  memory rejected it.


This nobleman had built a beautiful house (which he called Neptune) near
Dublin, and walled in a deer-park to operate medicinally, by inducing
him to use more riding exercise than he otherwise would take. Mr. Magee,
printer of the Dublin Evening Post (who was what they call a little
cracked, but very acute), one of the men whom his lordship had held to
excessive bail, had never forgiven it, and purchased a plot of ground
under my lord’s windows, which he called “_Fiat-hill_:” there he
entertained the populace of Dublin, once a week, with various droll
exhibitions and sports:—such, for instance, as asses dressed up with
wigs and scarlet robes; dancing dogs, in gowns and wigs, as barristers;
soaped pigs, &c. These assemblies, although productive of the greatest
annoyance to his lordship, were not sufficiently riotous to be termed a
public nuisance, being solely confined to Magee’s own field, which his
lordship had unfortunately omitted to purchase when he built his house.

The earl, however, expected at length to be clear of his tormentor’s
feats—at least for awhile; as Magee was found guilty on a charge of
libel, and Lord Clonmel would have no qualms of conscience in giving
_justice_ full scope by keeping him under the eye of the marshal, and
consequently an absentee from “Fiat-hill,” for a good space of time.

Magee was brought up for judgment, and pleaded himself, in mitigation,
that he was ignorant of the publication, not having been in Dublin when
the libel appeared; which fact, he added, Lord Clonmel well knew. He had
been, indeed, entertaining the citizens under the earl’s windows, and
saw his lordship peeping out from the side of one of them the whole of
that day; and the next morning he had overtaken his lordship riding into
town. “And by the same token,” continued Magee, “your lordship was
riding _cheek by jowl_ with your own brother, Matthias Scott, the
tallow-chandler,[72] from Waterford, and audibly discussing the price of
fat, at the very moment I passed you.”


Footnote 72:

  Lord Clonmel and Matthias Scott vied with each other which had the
  largest and most hanging pair of cheeks—vulgarly called _jowls_. His
  lordship’s chin was a treble one, whilst Matthias’s was but
  doubled;—but then it was broader and hung deeper than his brother’s.


There was no standing this:—a general laugh was inevitable; and his
lordship, with that address for which he was so remarkable, (affecting
to commune a moment with his brother judges) said,—“it was obvious, from
the poor man’s manner, that he was not just then in a state to receive
definitive judgment; that the paroxysm should be permitted to subside
before any sentence could be properly pronounced. For the present,
therefore, he should only be given into the care of the marshal, till it
was ascertained how far the state of his intellect should regulate the
court in pronouncing its judgment.” The marshal saw the crisis, and
hurried away Magee before he had further opportunity of incensing the
chief justice.

Theophilus Swift, who, though an Irishman, practised at the English bar,
gave rise to one of the most curious libel cases that ever occurred in
Ireland, and which involved a point of very great interest and

Theophilus had two sons. In point of figure, temper, disposition, and
propensities, no two brothers in the whole kingdom were so dissimilar.
Dean Swift, the elder, was tall, thin, and gentlemanly, but withal an
unqualified reformer and revolutionist: the second, Edmond, was broad,
squat, rough, and as fanatical an ultra-royalist as the king’s dominions
afforded. Both were clever men in their way.

The father was a free-thinker in every respect;—fond of his sons,
although materially different from either, but agreeing with the younger
in being a professed and extravagant loyalist. He was bald-headed, pale,
slender, and active—with gray eyes, and a considerable squint: an
excellent classic scholar, and versed likewise in modern literature and
belles lettres. In short, Theophilus Swift laid claim to the title of a
sincere, kind-hearted man; but was, at the same time, the most visionary
of created beings. He saw every thing whimsically—many things
erroneously—and nothing like another person. Eternally in motion,—either
talking, writing, fighting, or whatever occupation came uppermost, he
never remained idle one second while awake, and I really believe was
busily employed even in his slumbers.

His sons, of course, adopted entirely different pursuits; and, though
affectionate brothers, _agreed_ in nothing save a love for each other
and attachment to their father. They were both writers, and good ones;
both speakers, and bad ones.

Military etiquette was formerly very conspicuous on some occasions. I
well recollect when a man bearing the king’s commission was considered
as bound to fight any body and every body that gave him the invitation.
When the Duke of York was pleased to exchange shots with Colonel Lennox
(afterwards Duke of Richmond), it was considered by our friend
Theophilus as a personal offence to every gentleman in England, civil or
military; and he held that every man who loved the reigning family
should challenge Col. Lennox, until somebody turned up who was good
marksman enough to penetrate the colonel, and thus punish his

Following up his speculative notions, Mr. Swift actually challenged
Colonel Lennox for having had the arrogance to fire at the king’s son.
The colonel had never seen or even heard of this antagonist; but
learning that he was a barrister and a gentleman, he considered that, as
a military man, he was bound to fight him as long as he thought proper.
The result, therefore, was a meeting;—and Colonel Lennox shot my friend
Theophilus clean through the carcase; so that, as Sir Callaghan
O’Brallaghan says, “he made his body shine through the sun!”—Swift,
according to all precedents on such occasions, first staggered, then
fell—was carried home, and given over—made his will, and bequeathed the
Duke of York a gold snuff-box! However, he recovered so completely, that
when the Duke of Richmond went to Ireland as lord lieutenant, I (to my
surprise) saw Swift at his grace’s first levee, most anxious for the
introduction. His turn came; and without ceremony he said to the Duke,
by way of a pun, that “the last time he had the honour of waiting on his
grace, as Colonel Lennox, he received better entertainment—for that his
grace had given him a _ball_!”

“True,” said the duke, smiling; “and now that I am lord lieutenant, the
least I can do is to give you a _brace_ of them!”—and in due time, he
sent Swift two special invitations to the balls, to make these terms
consistent with his excellency’s compliments.

Swift, as will hence be inferred, was a romantic personage. In fact, he
showed the most decisive determination not to die in obscurity, by
whatever means his celebrity might be acquired.

A savage, justly termed _the monster_, had, during Swift’s career at the
bar, practised the most horrid and mysterious crime we have yet heard
of—namely, that of stabbing women indiscriminately in the
street—deliberately and without cause. He was at length taken and
ordered for trial: but so odious and detestable was his crime, that not
a gentleman of the bar would act as his advocate. This was enough to
induce Swift to accept the office. He argued truly, that every man must
be presumed innocent till by legal proof he appears to be guilty, and
that there was no reason why the monster should be excepted from the
general rule, or that actual guilt should be presumed on the charge
against him more than any other charge against any other person: that
prejudice was a _primâ facie_ injustice; and that the crime of stabbing
a lady with a weapon which was only calculated to wound, could not be
_greater_ than that of stabbing her to the heart, and destroying her on
the instant: that if the charge had been cutting the lady’s throat, he
would have had his choice of advocates. This line of reasoning was
totally unanswerable. He spoke and published his defence of the monster,
who, however, was found guilty, and not half punished for his atrocity.

Theophilus had a competent private fortune; but as such men as he must
somehow be always dabbling in what is called in Ireland “a bit of a
law-suit,” a large per-centage of his rents never failed to get into the
pockets of the attorneys and counsellors; and after he had recovered
from the Duke of Richmond’s perforation, and the monster had been
incarcerated, he determined to change his site, settle in his native
country, and place his second son in the university of Dublin.

Suffice it to say, that he soon commenced a fracas with _all_ the
fellows of the university, on account of their “not doing justice
somehow,” as he said, “to the cleverest lad in Ireland!” and, according
to his usual habit, he determined at once to punish several of the
offenders by penmanship, and regenerate the great university of Ireland
by a powerful, pointed, personal, and undisguised libel against its
fellows and their ladies.

Theophilus was not without some plausible grounds to work upon; but he
never considered that a printed libel did not admit of any legal
justification. He at once put half a dozen of the fellows _hors de
société_, by proclaiming them to be perjurers, profligates, impostors,
&c. &c.; and printed, published, and circulated this his _eulogium_ with
all the activity and zeal which belonged to his nature, working hard to
give it a greater circulation than almost any libel published in
Ireland, and that is saying a great deal!—but the main tenor of his
charge was a most serious imputation and a very home one.

By the statutes of the Irish university, strict celibacy is required;
and Mr. Swift stated “that the fellows of that university, being also
clergymen, had sworn on the Holy Evangelists, that they would strictly
obey and keep sacred these statutes of the university, in manner, form,
letter, and spirit, as enjoined by their charter from the virgin queen.
But that, notwithstanding such their solemn oath, several of these
fellows and clergymen, flying in the face of the Holy Evangelists and
Queen Elizabeth—and forgetful of morality, religion, common decency, and
good example, had actually taken to themselves each one woman (at
least), who went by the name of _Miss Such-a-one_, but who, in fact,
had, in many instances, undergone, or was supposed to have undergone,
the ceremony and consummation of marriage with such and such a perjured
fellow and parson of Dublin university: and that those who had not so
married, had done worse! and that, thereby, they had either perjured
themselves or held out so vicious a precedent to youth, that he was
obliged to take away his son, for fear of his morals becoming relaxed.”

It is easy to conceive that this publication, from the pen of a very
gentlemanly, well-educated barrister, who had defended the _monster_ at
the bar and the _Duke of York_ in Hyde Park, and showed himself ready
and willing to write or fight with any man or body of men in Ireland,
naturally made no small bustle and fuss among a portion of the
university-men. Those who had kept out of the scrape by neither
_marrying_ nor _doing worse_, were reported not to be in any state of
deep mourning on the subject, as their _piety_ was the more conspicuous;
and it could not hurt the feelings of either of them to reflect that he
might possibly get a step in his promotion, on account of the defection
of those seniors whose hearts might be broken, or removal made
necessary, by the never-ending perseverance of this tremendous
barrister, who had christened his son _Dean_ Swift, that he might appear
a relative of that famous churchman, the patron and idol of the Irish

The gentlemen of the long robe were, of course, delighted with the
occurrence: they had not for a long time met with so full and fair an
opportunity of expending every sentence of their wit, eloquence, law,
and logic, as in taking part in this celebrated controversy. I was
greatly rejoiced at finding on my table a retainer _against_ the fellows
and parsons of Trinity College, whom I formerly considered as a
narrow-minded and untalented body of men, getting from 1000_l._ to
1500_l._ a year each for teaching several hundred students how to remain
ignorant of most of those acquirements that a well-educated gentleman
ought to be master of: it is true, the students had a fair chance of
becoming good Latin scholars, of gaining a little Greek and Hebrew, and
of understanding several books of Euclid, with three or four chapters of
Locke on the Human Understanding, and a sixpenny treatise on logic
written by the Rev. Dr. Murray, a very good divine, (one of the body,)
to prove clearly that sophistry is superior to reason.[73] This being my
opinion of them, I felt no qualms of conscience in undertaking the
defence of Theophilus Swift, Esq., though most undoubtedly a gross
libeller. It is only necessary to say, that Lord Clonmel, who had been
(I believe) a sizer himself in that university, and, in truth, all the
judges felt indignant (and with good reason) at Theophilus Swift’s so
violently assailing and disgracing, in the face of the empire, the only
university in Ireland—thus attacking the clergy though he defended a


Footnote 73:

  Nothing can so completely stamp the character of the university of
  Dublin as their suppression of the only school of eloquence in
  Ireland—“The Historical Society;”—a school from which arose some of
  the most distinguished, able, and estimable characters that ever
  appeared in the forum, or in the parliament of Ireland: this step was
  what the blundering Irish would call—“advancing backwards.”


An information was in due form granted against Theophilus; and as he
could neither deny the fact nor plead a justification to the libel, of
course we had but a bad case of it. But the worse the case the harder an
Irish barrister always worked to make it appear a good one. I beg here
to observe, that the Irish bar were never so decorous and mild at that
time, as to give up their briefs in desperate cases, as I have seen done
in England—politely to save (as asserted) public time, and conciliate
their lordships: thus sending their clients out of court, because they
_thought_ they were not _defensible_. On the contrary, as I have said,
the _worse_ the case entrusted to an Irish barrister, the more zealously
did he labour and fight for his client. If he thought it _indefensible_,
why take a fee? but his motto was—While there is life there is hope.
During the speeches of these resolute advocates, in obstinate cases,
powder and perspiration mingled in cordial streams adown their features:
their mouths, ornamented at each corner with generous froth, threw out
half-a-dozen arguments, with tropes and syllogisms to match, while
English gentlemen would have been cautiously pronouncing one
monosyllable, and considering most discreetly what the next should be.
In short, they always stuck to their cause to the very last gasp!—and it
may appear fabulous to a steady, regular English expounder of the law,
and conceder of cases, that I have repeatedly seen a cause which the
bar, the bench, and the jury, seemed to think was irrevocably
lost,—after a few hours’ rubbing and puffing, (like the exertions of the
Humane Society,) brought into a state of restored animation; and, after
another hour or two of cross-examination and perseverance, the judges
and jury have changed their impressions, and sent home the cause quite
alive in the pockets of the lawful owner and his laborious solicitor.

In making these observations, I cannot but mention a gentleman long at
the very head of the bar, as prime serjeant of Ireland, Mr. James
Fitzgerald.[74] I had a great friendship for him: I knew him in
extensive practice, and never saw him give up one case while it had a
single point to rest upon, or he a puff of breath left to defend it; nor
did I ever see any barrister succeed, either wholly or partially, in so
many cases out of a given number, as Mr. Fitzgerald: and I can venture
to say (at least to think), that had that Right Honourable James
Fitzgerald been sent ambassador to Stockholm in the place of the Right
Honourable Vesey Fitzgerald, his _cher garçon_, he would have worked
Bernadotte to the stumps, by treating him just as if he were a _motion_
in the court of exchequer. There was no treaty which the government of
England might have ordered him to _insist_ upon, that he would not have
carried, at all events to a degree, and pleaded for _costs_ into the


Footnote 74:

  This is the Mr. James Fitzgerald who gave up the highest office of his
  profession rather than betray his country:—he opposed the Union
  zealously, and received and _deserved_ the most flattering address
  from the Irish bar.


This is a digression: but having been accustomed, for near forty years,
to express my regard for that gentleman, and as this is probably the
last time I shall ever have an opportunity of doing so, I was determined
in my “last speech” not to be forgetful of my old, and, I really
believe, sincere friend.

And now, reader! (I have in my preface stated my objections to the
epithet _gentle_) we will go back to Theophilus Swift, and the college,
and the King’s Bench. The trial at length came on, and there were
decidedly more parsons present than I believe ever appeared in any court
of justice of the same dimensions. The court set out full gallop against
us: nevertheless, we worked on—twice twelve judges could not have
stopped us! I cross-examined the most learned man of the whole
university, Dr. Barret, a little, greasy, shabby, croaking, round-faced
vice-provost: he knew of nothing on earth, save books and guineas—seldom
went out, held but little intercourse with men, and none at all with
women. I worked at him unsuccessfully for more than an hour; not one
decisive sentence could I get him to pronounce: at length, he grew quite
tired of me, and I thought to conciliate him by telling him that his
father had christened me. “Indeed!” exclaimed he: “Oh!—I did not know
you were a _Christian_!” At this unexpected repartee, the laugh was so
strong against me, that I found myself silenced. My colleagues worked as
hard as I: but a seventy-horse power could not have moved the court. It
was, however, universally admitted that there was but one little point
against us out of a hundred which the other side had urged: that point
too had only three letters in it: yet it upset all our arguments: that
talismanic word “_law_” was more powerful than two speeches of three
hours each;—and, by the unanimous concurrence of the court and jury,
Theophilus Swift, Esq., was found guilty of writing, publishing, (and
undoubtedly _proving_,) that certain parsons, fellows of Dublin
University, had been living (conjugally) with certain persons of an
entirely different sex: and, in consequence, he was sentenced to twelve
months’ imprisonment in his Majesty’s close, called the “gaol of
Newgate,” where he took up his residence with nearly two hundred and
forty felons and handy pickpockets—exclusive of burglars, murderers, and
United Irishmen, who were daily added to that select society.

My poor visionary friend was in a sad state of depression: but Heaven
had a banquet in store for him which more than counterbalanced all his
discomfitures:—an incident that I really think even the oracle of
Delphos never would have thought of predicting.

The Rev. Doctor Burrows was, of all the parsons, the most inveterate
enemy and active prosecutor of my friend Theophilus: he was one of those
who, in despite of Queen Elizabeth, and the rules of the Holy Trinity,
had fallen in love, and indulged his concupiscence by uniting his
fortunes and person with the object of it in the holy bands, without a
dispensation—and by that incontinent omission got within the circle of
Swift’s anti-moralists. This reverend person determined to make the
public hate Theophilus, if possible, as much as he did himself; and
forgetting, in his zeal, the doctrine of libel, and the precedent which
he had himself just helped to establish, set about to _slay_ the
_slayer_, and write a _quietus_ for Theophilus Swift (as he supposed)
during the rest of his days! Thus, hugging himself in all the luxury of
complete revenge on a fallen foe, Dr. Burrows produced a libel nearly as
unjustifiable against the prisoner, as the prisoner had promulged
against him: and having printed, published, and circulated the same, his
reverence and madam conceived they had executed full justice on the
enemy of marriage and the clergy. But, alas! they reckoned without their
host: no sooner had I received a copy of this redoubtable pamphlet, than
I hastened to my friend Theophilus, whom, from a state of despondency
and unhappiness, I had the pleasure, in half an hour, of seeing at least
as happy and more pleased than any king in Europe. It is unnecessary to
say more than that I recommended an immediate prosecution of the Rev.
Doctor Burrows, for a false, gross, and malicious libel against
Theophilus Swift, Esq. Never was any prosecution better founded, or more
clearly and effectually supported; and it took complete effect. The
reverend prosecutor, now culprit in his turn, was sentenced to one-half
of Swift’s term of imprisonment, and sent off to the same _close_ and
same company as Theophilus.

The learned fellows were astounded; the university so far disgraced; and
the triumphant Swift immediately published both trials, with
observations, and notes critical and historical, &c.

But, alas! the mortification of the reverend fellow did not end here. On
arriving at his Majesty’s gaol of Newgate, (as the governor informed
me,) the doctor desired a room as high up as could be had, that he might
not be disturbed whilst remaining in that mansion. The governor informed
him, with pungent regret, that he had not a pigeon-hole unoccupied at
the time, there being upward of two hundred and forty prisoners, chiefly
pickpockets, many of whom were waiting to be transported; and that, till
these were got rid of, he had no room, nay, not even a _cell_, that
would answer his reverence: but there was a very neat little chamber in
which were only _two_ beds—one occupied by a respectable and polite
gentleman; and if the doctor could manage in this way meanwhile, his
reverence might depend on a preference the moment there should be a
vacancy, by the removal of the pickpockets.

Necessity has no law; and the doctor, forced to acquiesce, desired,
though with a heavy heart, to be shown to the chamber. On entering, the
gentleman and he exchanged bows; but in a moment both started and stared
involuntarily at sight of each other. On one was to be seen the smile of
triumph, on the other the grin of mortification. But Swift (naturally
the _pink_ of politeness) gave no reason for an increase of the doctor’s
chagrin. On the contrary, after several obeisances, (looking steadily at
his own nose with one eye, and fixing the other on the parson,) my
friend Theophilus commenced a rapid and learned dissertation upon the
Greek and Latin classics, natural philosophy, Locke on the Human
Understanding, &c. &c. running on without stop or stay, until he
perceived an incipient relaxation in the muscles of his reverence’s

In fine, his good humour and good manners had their full operation on
the incarcerated Trinitarian. As the sunbeams put out a fire, so did a
sense of his own folly flash so strong upon the doctor’s reason, that it
extinguished the blaze of his anger; and the governor having left them,
in a short time an _éclaircissement_ took place between these two
fellow-lodgers in a room fourteen feet by twelve! I afterward learned
that they jogged on very well together till the expiration of their
sentences, and I never heard of any libel published by either the doctor
or Theophilus from that day forth.


Biographical and characteristic sketch of Dean Kirwan—His extraordinary
  eloquence—The peculiar powers of Sheridan, Curran, and Grattan
  contrasted—Observations on pulpit, bar, and parliamentary oratory.

A comparative scale of the talents of the celebrated men of my day I
have frequently attempted, but never with success. Though I knew most of
them both in private and public, my mind could never settle itself to
any permanent opinion on so complicated a subject. Nevertheless, I quite
agree with the maxim of Pope—that “The noblest study of mankind is man!”
and the analysis of human character has ever formed one of my greatest
amusements, though all endeavours to reduce my observations to a system
have proved decidedly idle. Hence, I have at times grown out of humour
with the science altogether, and made up my mind that there never was a
more unprofitable occupation than that of determining a public character
whilst the individual still lived. It is only after the grave has closed
on men—when they can change no more, and their mortal acts are for ever
terminated—that their respective natures become truly developed. This is
a reflection that must surely force itself upon the mind and heart of
every observant man.

The depressions of adversity generally leave the ostensible character
pretty much as it originally appeared, save that it occasionally throws
out hidden errors, abjectness or fortitude, and that talent or ingenuity
is sometimes elicited in a greater proportion than the sufferer was
previously imagined to possess. But I have always seen high prosperity
the true and almost infallible touchstone: and since I have had leisure
to observe the world, its effects upon my fellow-countrymen have proved
more remarkable than upon the people of any other country—and indeed, in
many instances, to an extent thoroughly ridiculous.

Eloquence, (a first-rate quality in my scale of talent,) is that for
which the Irish _were_ eminently celebrated. But the exercise of this
gift depends on so many accidental circumstances, and is withal so much
regulated by fashion, that its decline is scarcely surprising. So few
possess it from nature, and its superiority when possessed is so
transcendent, that it has become the interest of the only body in
Ireland now accustomed to extempore public speaking, (the bar,) to
undervalue and throw it into the back-ground, which they have
effectually succeeded in. A dull fellow can cry “come to the point!” as
well as the most eloquent declaimer.

Pulpit eloquence is, in my opinion, by far the most important of any:
the interest in which it is enlisted is, or ought to be, tremendously
absorbing; and in consequence, it is deserving of the highest and most
persevering cultivation. Yet, what is the fact?—Unless we resort to the
temples of sectarianism, and run a risk of being annoyed by vulgarity
and fanaticism, we have little or no chance of meeting with a preacher
who seems _in earnest_. Polemical controversy may be carried on between
priests with but little zeal and very meagre devotion; and bishops may
think it quite sufficient to leave the social duties and cardinal
virtues to work their way by force of their own intrinsic merits; yet
these are the points whereon a really eloquent and zealous minister
might rouse the attention of his hearers to effectual purpose, and
succeed in detaching them from methodistical cant and rant, which, at
present, (merely in consequence of apparent heartiness and a semblance
of inspiration,) naturally draw away both old and young—both sensible
and illiterate—from the tribe of cold metaphysical expositors who
_illuminate_ the Christian tenets in our parochial congregations.

Nothing can better exemplify the latter observations than a circumstance
connected with the little island of Guernsey. There are seven Protestant
churches in that island, where the usual service is gone through in the
usual manner, but in the French language. A parcel of Methodists,
however, professed themselves discontented with the Litany, established
a different form of worship, and set up a meeting-house of their own,
upon a more “free and easy” foundation, calling every thing by its
proper name, and giving out that they could save _two_ souls for every
_one_ a common Protestant parson could manage: in due time they
inveigled a set of fanatic persons of both sexes to form a _singing
choir_, which employed itself in chanting from morning till night; every
girl who wanted to put her voice in tune being brought by her mamma to
sing psalms with the _new lights_! This vocal bait took admirably; and,
in a short time, the congregations of “the _seven_ churches” might have
been well accommodated in _one_. On the other hand, although the
meeting-house was enlarged, its portals even were thronged on every
occasion, multitudes both inside and out all squalling away to the very
stretch of their voices.

The dean and clergy, perceiving clearly that singing had beaten praying
out of the field, made a due representation to the bishop of Winchester,
and requested the instructions of that right reverend dignitary, how to
bring back the wayward flock to their natural folds and shepherds, from
which they had been lured by the false warbling of fanatics. The bishop
replied, that as the desertion appeared to be in consequence of the
charms of melody, the remedy was plain—namely, to get _better singers_
than the Methodists, and to sing better tunes; in which case the
Protestant churches would, no doubt, soon recover every one of their

Not having, for many years, heard a sermon in Ireland, I am not aware of
the precise state of its pulpit oratory at present. But of this I am
quite sure—that neither politics nor controversy are the true attributes
of Christian worship; and that, whenever they are made the topic of
spiritual discourses, the whole congregation would be justified in
dozing even from _text_ to _benediction_.

I have heard many parsons _attempt_ eloquence, but very few of them, in
my idea, succeeded. The present Archbishop of Dublin worked hard for the
prize, and a good number of the fellows of Dublin College tried their
declamatory organs to little purpose: in truth, the preaching of one
minister rendered me extremely fastidious respecting eloquence from the

That individual was Dean Kirwan (now no more), who pronounced the most
sublime, eloquent, and impressive orations I ever heard from the members
of any profession, at any era. It is true, he spoke for _effect_, and
therefore directed his flow of eloquence according to its apparent
influence. I have listened to this man actually with astonishment! He
was a gentleman by birth, had been educated as a Roman Catholic priest,
and officiated some time in Ireland in that capacity; but afterwards
conformed to the Protestant church, and was received _ad eundem_. His
extraordinary powers soon brought him into notice; and he was promoted
by Lord Westmoreland to a living; afterwards became a dean; and would,
most probably, have been a bishop;—but he had an intractable turn of
mind, entirely repugnant to the usual means of acquiring high
preferment. It was much to be lamented that the independence of
principle and action which he certainly possessed was not accompanied by
any reputation for philanthropic qualities. His justly high opinion of
himself seemed (unjustly) to overwhelm every other consideration.

Dr. Kirwan’s figure, and particularly his countenance, were not
prepossessing; there was an air of discontent in his looks, and a
sharpness in his features, which, in the aggregate, amounted to
something not distant from repulsion. His manner of preaching was of the
French school: he was vehement for awhile, and then, becoming (or
affecting to become) exhausted, he held his handkerchief to his face: a
dead silence ensued—he had skill to perceive the precise moment 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 talent: and, at the conclusion of one of his
finest sentences, a “_celestial exhaustion_” (as I heard a _lady_ call
it) often abruptly terminated his discourse. If the subject was charity,
every purse was laid largely under contribution. In the church of St.
Peter’s, where he preached an annual charity sermon, the usual
collection, which had been under 200_l._, was raised by the dean to
1,100_l._! I knew a gentleman myself, who threw both his purse and watch
into the plate, through an impulse that nothing but such eloquence could
have excited.

Yet the oratory of this celebrated preacher would have answered in no
other profession than his own, and served to complete my idea of the
true distinction between pulpit, bar, and parliamentary eloquence.
Kirwan in the pulpit, Curran at the bar, and Sheridan in the
senate,—were the three most effective orators I ever recollect, in their
respective departments.

Kirwan’s talents seemed to me to be limited entirely to effective
elocution. I had much intercourse with him at the house of Mr. Hely, of
Tooke’s-court. While residing in Dublin, I met him in private society at
a variety of places; and my overwrought expectations were a good deal
disappointed. His style of address had nothing engaging; nothing either
dignified or graceful. In his conversation there was neither sameness
nor variety—ignorance nor information; and yet, somehow or other, he
avoided insipidity. His _amour propre_ was the most prominent of his
superficial qualities; and a bold, manly, intractable independence of
mind and feeling, the most obvious of his deeper ones. I believe he was
a good man, if he could not be termed a very amiable one; and learned,
although niggardly in communicating his information.

I have remarked thus at large upon Dean Kirwan, because he was,
altogether, the greatest orator I ever heard, and because I never met
any man whose true character I felt myself more at a loss accurately to
pronounce upon. It has been said that his sermons were adroitly
extracted from passages in the celebrated discourses of Saurin, the
Huguenot, who preached at the Hague (grandfather or great-grandfather to
the late attorney-general of Ireland).[75] It may be so; and in that
case all I can say is, that Kirwan was a most judicious selector, and
that I doubt if the eloquent writer made a hundredth part of the
impression of his eloquent plagiarist.


Footnote 75:

  Voltaire in his “Age of Louis the XIV,” says, “James Saurin was born
  at Nismes, 1677:—he was the best preacher of the reformed church; but
  he dealt too much in what was called the _refugee style_. He was
  created minister to the _noblesse_ at the Hague; was a learned man—but
  addicted to pleasures: he died 1730.”


I should myself be the plagiarist of a hundred writers, if I attempted
to descant upon the parliamentary eloquence of Sheridan. It only seems
necessary to refer to his speech on Mr. Hastings’s trial;[76] at least
that is sufficient to decide me as to his immense superiority over all
his rivals in splendid declamation. Most great men have their distinct
points of superiority, and I am sure that Sheridan could not have
_preached_, nor Kirwan have _pleaded_. Curran could have done
both—Grattan neither:—but, in language calculated to _rouse a nation_,
Grattan, whilst young, far exceeded any of them;—and in mere flow of
words, Yelverton was above all.


Footnote 76:

  I had an opportunity of knowing that Mr. Sheridan was offered 1000_l._
  for that speech by a bookseller, the _day after_ it was spoken,
  provided he would write it out correctly from the notes taken, before
  the interest had subsided; and yet, although he certainly had occasion
  for money at the time, and assented to the proposal, he did not take
  the trouble of writing a line of it! The publisher was of course
  displeased, and insisted on his performing his promise: upon which
  Sheridan laughingly replied in the vein of Falstaff:—“No, Hal!—were I
  at the strappado, I would do nothing _by compulsion_!” He did it at
  length—but too late! and, as I heard, was (reasonably enough!) not


I have often met Sheridan, but never knew him intimately. He was too
much my senior and superior. While he was in high repute, I was at
laborious duties: while he was eclipsing every body in fame in one
country, I was labouring hard to gain money in another. He professed
whiggism: I did not understand it, and have met very few patriots who
appear to have acted even on their _own_ definition thereof—if any
_certain_ definition there is.

                            QUEEN CAROLINE.

Reception of the late Queen Caroline (then Princess of Wales) at the
  drawing-room held after the “delicate investigation”—Her depression,
  and subsequent levity—Queen Charlotte and the Princess compared and
  contrasted—Reflections on the incidents of that day and evening—The
  Thames on a Vauxhall night.

I have often mused on the unfortunate history and fate of the late Queen
Caroline. It is not for me here to discuss her case, or give any opinion
on the conduct of the ruling powers in the business. I shall only
observe, that though it was not possible to foresee such events as
subsequently took place, I had, from the time of my being presented to
that princess by Lord Stowell, felt an unaccountable presentiment that
her destiny would not be a happy one.

Upon the close of the “delicate investigation,” a drawing-room of the
most brilliant description was held at St. James’s, to witness the
Princess’s reception by her Majesty, Queen Charlotte. I doubt if a more
numerous and sparkling assemblage had ever been collected in that
ancient palace;—curiosity had no small share in drawing it together.

The sun was that day in one of his most glaring humours; he shone with
unusual ardour into the windows of the antique ball-room—seeming as if
he wished at the same moment to gild and melt down that mass of beauty
and of diamonds which was exposed to all his fervour. The crowd was
immense, the heat insufferable; and the effects resulting therefrom
liberally displayed themselves, though in different-tinted streams (from
the limpid to the _crimson_), upon the fine features of the natural and
aided beauties.

I was necessitated to attend in my official dress: the frizzled peruke,
loaded with powder and pomatum (covering at least half the body of the
sufferer), was wedged in amongst the gaudy nobles. The dress of every
person who was so _fortunate_ as to come in contact with the wigs, like
the cameleon, instantly imbibed the colour of the thing it came in
collision with; and after a short intimacy, many a full-dress black
received a large portion of my silvery hue, and many a splendid
_manteau_ participated in the materials which render powder adhesive.

Of all the distressed beings in that heated assembly, I was most amused
by Sir Vicary Gibbs, then attorney-general.—Hard-featured and
impatient—his wig awry—his solids yielding out all their essence—he
appeared as if he had just arisen (though not like Venus) from the sea.
Every muscle of his angular features seemed busily employed in forming
hieroglyphic imprecations! Though amused, I never pitied any person
more—except myself. Wedged far too tight to permit even a heaving sigh
at my own imprisonment, I could only be consoled by a perspective view
of the gracious Charlotte, who stood stoutly before the throne like the
stump of a baronial castle to which age gives greater dignity. I had,
however, in due rotation, the honour of being presented, and of kissing
the back of her Majesty’s hand.

I am, of course, profoundly ignorant of her Majesty’s manner in her
family, but certainly her public receptions appeared to me the most
gracious in the world: there could not be a more engaging, kind, and
condescending address than that of the Queen of England. It is
surprising how different a queen appears in a drawing-room and in a

At length, the number of presentations had diminished the pressure, and
a general stir in the crowd announced something uncommon about to take
place. It was the approach of the Princess of Wales.

Whoever considered the painfully delicate situation in which this lady
was then placed, could not help feeling a sympathy for her apparent
sufferings. Her father, the Duke of Brunswick, had not long before
expired of his wounds received at Jena; and after her own late trials it
was, I thought, most inauspicious that deep mourning should be her
attire on her reception—as if announcing at once the ill-fate of herself
and of her parent: her dress was decked with a multiplicity of black
bugles. She entered the drawing-room leaning on the arm of the Duke of
Cumberland, and seemed to require the support. To her it must, in truth,
have been a most awful moment. The subject of the investigation, the
loss of her natural protector, and the doubts she must have felt as to
the precise nature of her reception by the Queen, altogether made a deep
impression on everyone present. She tottered to the throne: the
spectacle grew interesting in the highest degree. I was not close; but a
low buzz ran round the room that she had been received most kindly, and
a few moments sufficed to show that this was her own impression.

After she had passed the ordeal, a circle was formed for her beyond the
throne. I wished for an introduction, and Lord Stowell (then Sir William
Scott) did me that honour. I had felt in common with every body for the
depression of spirits with which the Princess had approached her
Majesty. I, for my part, considered her in consequence full of
sensibility at her own situation: but so far as her subsequent manner
showed, I was totally mistaken. The trial was at an end, the Queen had
been kind, and a paroxysm of spirits seemed to succeed and mark a
strange contrast to the manner of her entry. I thought it was too
_sudden_ and too _decisive_: she spoke much, and loud, and rather bold:
it seemed to me as if all recollection of what had passed was rapidly
vanishing. So far it pleased me, to see returning happiness; but still
the _kind_ of thing made no favourable impression on my mind. Her circle
was crowded; the presentations numerous: but on the whole, she lost
ground in my estimation.

This incident proved to me the palpable distinction between _feeling_
and _sensibility_—words which people misconstrue and mingle without
discrimination. I then compared the two ladies. The bearing of Queen
Charlotte certainly was not that of a heroine in romance: but she was
the best-bred and most graceful lady of her age and figure I ever saw:
so kind and conciliating, that one could scarcely believe her capable of
any thing but benevolence. She appeared plain, old, and of dark
complexion; but seemed unaffected, and commanded that respect which
private virtues will ever obtain for public character. I liked her
vastly better than her daughter-in-law.—I mention only as a superficial,
not an intellectual feeling, that I never could reconcile myself to
extra-natural complexions.

I returned from the drawing-room with a hundred new thoughts excited by
circumstances which had never occurred to me on any former occasion, and
by the time I arrived at the Adelphi, had grown from a courtier into a
philosopher! Even there, however, my lucubrations were doomed to
interruption. From my chamber at the Caledonian, the beauty of the
animated Thames quite diverted my mind from the suffocating splendour,
under the pressure of which I had passed three hours. The broad
unruffled tide, reflecting the rich azure of the firmament, awakened in
my mind ideas of sublimity which would have raised it toward heaven, had
not _dinner_ and a new train of observation recalled me to worldly
considerations, which I fancied I had for one evening completely laid
aside. Another scene of equal brilliance in its own way soon rivetted my
attention. It was a Vauxhall evening—and thousands of painted and gilded
skiffs darted along under my windows, crowded with flashy girls and
tawdry cits, enveloped in all their holiday glories, and appearing to
vie in gaudiness with the scullers of which they were the cargo. Here
elegance and vulgarity, rank and meanness, vice and beauty, disease and
health, mingling and moving over the waters, led me to the mortifying
reflection, that this apparently gay and happy company probably
comprised a portion of the most miserable and base materials of the
British population.

I soon became fatigued by the brilliant sameness of the scene; and a
sort of spurious philosophy again led me back to the Queen’s
drawing-room, and set me reflecting on numerous subjects, in which I had
not the remotest interest! but as solitary reasoning is one of the very
greatest incentives to drowsiness, that sensation soon overcame all
others; the sensorial powers gradually yielded to its influence; and, in
a short time, the Queen and the Princess of Wales—the drawing-room and
the gilded boats—the happy-looking girls and assiduous gallants—all
huddled together in most irreverent confusion, sheered off (as a seaman
would say), and left a sound and refreshing slumber in place of all that
was great and gay—dazzling and splendid—in the first metropolis of the
European hemisphere.

                      LORD YELVERTON AND THE BAR.

Characteristic and personal sketches of three Irish barristers: Mr.
  William Fletcher (afterward chief justice of the Court of Common
  Pleas), Mr. James Egan (afterward judge of Dublin county), and Mr.
  Bartholomew Hoare, king’s counsel—Lord Yelverton’s dinner party—The
  author’s parody—Mr. Egan right by _mistake_!

Mr. William Fletcher, since chief justice of the Common Pleas; Mr. James
Egan, afterward judge of Kilmainham; and Mr. Bartholomew Hoare, one of
the king’s counsel, were certainly the three most _intractable_ men of
their profession, though of characters very dissimilar.

Mr. Fletcher, a very clever man and excellent lawyer, had a surly temper
combined with a kind heart and an honest free-spirited principle, which
never forsook him either in private life or as a public functionary. He
was hard-featured, and although morose in court, disposed to jocularity
in society: his appetites seemed to incline toward _gourmandise_, and in
fact, toward voluptuousness, generally speaking. As a judge, he was
upright, uninfluenced, and humane.

Mr. Egan, a huge, coarse-looking, red-faced, boisterous fellow, to as
tender a heart as ever was enclosed in so rough an outside,[77] added a
number of other good qualities which it would be too much to expect
should exist without some alloy. His manners were naturally gross; and
it was curious to see him, in full-dress, with bag and sword, endeavour
to affect good breeding. He had immense business at the bar at the time
Lord Yelverton presided in the Court of Exchequer; and he executed that
business zealously and successfully, with, however, as occasion served,
a sprinkling of what we term “balderdash.” In fact, he both gave and
received hits and cuts with infinite spirit, and in more ways than one;
for he had fought a good number of duels (one with swords), and had the
good fortune to escape with an unpierced skin. Natural death was his
final enemy, and swept him off long before nature ought to have had any
hand in it. He died judge of Dublin county. His heart was in its right
place; he was an utter stranger to double dealing—and never liked money
except for what _enjoyments_ it could purchase.


Footnote 77:

  They called him the _Venison Pasty_: a coarse, black, hard crust, with
  excellent feeding inside of it.


Bartholomew Hoare was inferior to both. He wrote better, but spoke most
disagreeably;—his harangues being sententious and diffuse, though not
destitute of point. He was ill-tempered, arrogant, and rude, with a
harsh expression of countenance; but withal, what was termed “an able
man.” In point of intellect, indeed, he perhaps exceeded Egan, but in
heart I must rank him inferior. Egan was popular with the most talented
men of his profession: Hoare could never attain professional popularity
in any shape, though he numbered some great men among his friends.

These are merely fugitive sketches of three members of the Irish bar who
(I knew not why) were generally named together, but whose respective
careers terminated very differently. Bartholomew Hoare died in great

The chief baron, Lord Yelverton, got one day after dinner, at his house
at Fairview, into an argument with Egan, which in truth he always
courted, and _led_ him on in so droll a way as never failed to enhance
the merriment of the company. Hoare never heard an argument in his life
between any two persons, or upon any subject, wherein he did not long to
obtrude; and Fletcher, if he thought he had conceived a good hit, was
never easy till he was delivered of it. On the evening in question, the
trio had united in contesting with their host all manner of subjects,
which he had himself designedly started, to excite them. His lordship
was in high glee, and played them off in a style of the most superior
wit and cleverness, assisted (for he was a first-rate scholar) by much
classic quotation: by successive assaults he upset the three, who were
as less than one in the hands of Yelverton, when he chose to exert
himself. The evening certainly turned out among the pleasantest I ever
passed in society.

Lord Yelverton’s wit and humour had a weight and solidity in it, which
emitted a fervid as well as a blazing light. I opened not my lips:—had I
mingled in their disputation, I should not only have got my full portion
of the _tattooing_ (as they termed it), but also have lost, in becoming
an actor, the gratification of witnessing the scene. At length Lord
Yelverton wrote under the table with a pencil the following words, and
sent the scrap by a servant to me:—“Barrington, these fellows will never
stop!—pray _write something about them_, and send it to me.”—I left the
room, and having written the following parody in a hand to resemble
printing, sent it in to his lordship sealed as a letter:—

            _Three_ pleaders, in one _vulgar_ era born,
            Mount-Melic, Cork, and Blarney, did adorn:
            In solemn _surliness_ the first surpass’d,
            The next in _balderdash_—in both the last:
            The force of Nature could no further go;
            To make a _third_, she join’d the former _two_!

Lord Yelverton, not expecting the lampoon to come in form of a letter,
was greatly diverted; it was read over and over again, amidst roars of
laughter. Every body entertained his own conjecture respecting the
writer, and each barrister appropriated to himself one of the three
characteristics. I was not at all suspected that night, since I had in
nowise interfered, and my brief absence had not been noticed: but next
day in court, it somehow came out. Nobody but Hoare was vexed, and him I
silenced by threatening that I would write another epigram on him
_solus_ if he provoked me. He vowed at first he would make an _example_
of me; and by cutting satire he was well able to do so: but I got him
into good humour before we parted.

Egan, however, professed annoyance at me from some cause or other in the
course of that same day. He was never remarkable for the correctness of
his English. In speaking to some motion that was pending, he used the
word _obdurate_ frequently. I happened to laugh; Egan turned round, and
then addressing himself to the chief baron, “I suppose, my lord,” said
he ironically, “the gentleman laughs at my happening to pronounce the
word _obdurate_ wrong.”

“No, my lord,” replied I, “I only laughed because he _happened_ to
pronounce it _right_!”

I never heard him utter the word _obdurate_ afterward.

                    MR. NORCOT’S ATTEMPT AT SUICIDE.

The hollowness of interested popularity illustrated in the example of
  Mr. Norcot—The dilemma of a gamester—The last resource—The “faithful”
  valet—Mr. Norcot turns Mahometan—His equivocal destiny.

Mr. Norcot was an eccentric Irish barrister, the uncertainty of whose
fate has given rise to a vast number of surmises: the last authentic
account described him as a Turk selling rhubarb and opium in the streets
of Smyrna! When the Duke of Richmond was lord lieutenant of Ireland he
was a great favourite at the Castle revels. He could drink as stoutly as
the duke himself, touch the piano as well as a lady, or gamble as deeply
as any of the gentlemen: he could jest even better than Sir Charles
Vernon, and drove all other bachelors out of the field at the vice-regal
orgies. Hence his reception was so flattering, that he discarded all
reflection, and at length found his purse empty, his resources dry, his
profession unproductive, his estate melted down, and his reputation _not
improved_. The noble duke gave him no _place_—but at his dinner-table,
while smiles and lemonade were the favours of the duchess:—the courtiers
turned their faces toward him whilst he was rich, and their backs when
he had grown poor: his best puns began to pass without notice, his
mimicry excited no laughter, and his most high-flown compliments
scarcely received a curtsey.

A fat, hearty, convivial fellow does not perceive what is termed the
half-cut near so soon as your lank, sensitive, thorough-paced goer; and
Norcot was not completely undeceived as to his own declining influence
until, one evening, having lost much more money than he had to pay, he
began to consider how to make up the deficiency. He had very little cash
left any where, and was not versed in the borrowing system: so he
thought he would wait a few days to see what Providence would be pleased
to do for him; and as he had never thought it worth his while to rely
upon her before, he did not know exactly in what way to court her
assistance. Irish gentlemen so circumstanced are very apt to suppose
that they may find _Providence_, or in other words _good luck_, at the
bottom of two or three bottles of wine, and accordingly never omit the
application thereunto. Norcot pursued the usual course, and certainly
made away with that number at least next night, with the duke. But,
alas! this kind of exorcism was unsuccessful in his instance, and he was
necessitated to return home, at three o’clock in the morning, sobered by
the very lassitude of excess, and maddened by reflection. On arriving,
he threw himself into his arm-chair, his mind became confused, his
reason wandered: he thought of resources—there were none!—but the extent
of his poverty and debts being as yet not publicly known, he thought of
borrowing: the plan, however, seemed a doubtful one; and besides, he was
deterred from trying it by his pride. He next thought of prison; this
inflamed his brain still farther, and drove him upon the fearful
alternative of suicide! Here a door of retreat seemed open, although
whither it led he knew not: but he had neither heart to bear up against
misfortune, nor religion to assuage it: he had no steady friend to
advise with, and no liberal one to relieve him.

He sank for a moment into an enviable state of insensibility. His
servant Thomas, a broad, faithful Irishman, but who never had known the
meaning of any kind of feelings (except corporeal ones), stood by
surprised at the change in his master’s manner. “Thomas!” exclaimed the
desponding Norcot, “Thomas, are my pistols charged?”

“Right well, plase your honour,” replied Thomas.

“The flints, Thomas?”

“I’m sure they’d strike fire enough to burn a barrel of gunpowder, if
your honour wanted to blow it up!”

“Bring them hither,” said Norcot.

Thomas did not approve of this order, and answered, “Sure your honour
can’t want them till day-light, any how!” But, upon Norcot’s
authoritatively waving his hand, he brought the pistols, wondering what
his master wanted with them.

“Thomas,” said the desperate man, “you were always faithful!”

“And _why should not I_?” said Thomas.

“Well, then, Thomas, I can live no longer!”

“Thunder and oons, master! why not?”

“’Tis enough to say, Thomas,” pursued the hapless barrister, taking up
one of the pistols, “that I am _determined_ to die!”

Thomas, never having seen such a catastrophe, was quite alarmed; but all
his eloquence was in vain: having wept and argued to no purpose, he ran
towards the window to shout murder, but it was fast. Norcot (who was an
unbeliever) shuddering meanwhile less at the idea of the crime he
contemplated than at that of eternal annihilation, (which his tenets
induced him to anticipate,) said, “Thomas, take one of these pistols,
and put it to my head; apply the other here, to my heart;—fire both
together, and put me out of my pain—for die I will!”

Thomas mused and bethought himself, and then answered, “I am willing to
do the best I can for so good a master, but truly I can’t shoot, and may
be I’d miss your honour! Hadn’t I better go to some gentleman of your
acquaintance that I heard you say never missed any body—and who would do
it cleverly?”

“None but you,” returned the unyielding desperado, “shall shoot me,

“I never shot any body!” cried the servant: “but (taking up the pistols)
your honour says, one at your head: may I crave what part of it?”

“There,” said Norcot, pointing to his temple; “the other through my

“And which side is your honour’s heart to-night?” inquired the dilatory

“Here!” replied Norcot: “now cock and fire!”

Thomas, who had been planning all this time how to get rid of the
business, now seemed on the sudden to recollect himself. “But, master,
dear!” said he, “when you were going to fight a duel with that Captain
O’Brien, at the Cove of Cork, your honour took out Surgeon Egan with
you, saying, that no gentleman should risk his life without a doctor:
so, if you plase, I’ll just step over first and foremost, and fetch
Surgeon Macklin here _for fear of accidents_!” Without waiting any
reply, he instantly stepped out of the room as fast as he could, taking
the pistols with him, and leaving Norcot in astonishment: he actually
went to the doctor, told him the story, and brought him over to reason
with his master, who remained in a state of perfect distraction.
However, the fit somewhat subsided; and the incident’s being thus placed
in a novel and ridiculous point of view had the most extraordinary
effect on Norcot’s mind. He recovered the use of his reason, and calm
reflection succeeded the burning frenzy. He could scarcely avoid smiling
at Thomas; and, relating the adventure himself, pretended it was only a
trick of his own to terrify his servant. But when he was left to
himself, he considered what was best to be done, and adopted it. He made
up all the means he could, and got into a place of secrecy, where he
awaited the result of the “chapter of accidents,” and the efforts of his
great friends to procure him some employment for subsistence:—nor was he
long unprovided for. He was appointed to an office, I think at Malta,
but where he soon disgraced himself in a manner which for ever excluded
him from society. Being now lost past all redemption, he fled to the
Morea, and from thence to Constantinople, where he renounced the cross
and became a Musselman. But even there he was not fortunate: he has for
some time been lost sight of, and exhibits a most edifying lesson to the
dissipated and unbelieving. After commencing the world with as plausible
prospects of success and respectability as most men of his day, Norcot,
if dead, has died a disgraced and blasphemous renegado; thus confirming
an observation of mine, throughout life, that a free-_thinker_ is ever
disposed to be also a free-_actor_, and is restrained from the
gratification of all his vices only by those laws which provide a
punishment for their commission.

                       ANECDOTES OF IRISH JUDGES.

Baron Monckton—Judge Boyd—Judge Henn—Legal blunder of a judge, and
  Curran’s bon-mot thereon—Baron Power—His suicide—Crosby Morgal’s
  spirit of emulation—Judge William Johnson—Curious anecdote between him
  and the author—Judge Kelly—His character and bon-mots—Lord
  Kilwarden—His character—Murder of him and his nephew the Rev. Mr.
  Wolfe—Mr. Emmet executed—Memoir of that person—Judge Robert
  Johnson—Arrested in Ireland, and tried in London, for a libel written
  on Lord Redesdale in Ireland and published by Cobbett—Doubts of the
  legality of his lordship’s trial—He is found guilty.

Before, and for some time after, I was called to the bar, the bench was
in several instances very curiously manned as to judges. The uniform
custom had previously been to send over these dignitaries from
England;—partly with a view to protect the property of absentees,[78]
and partly from political considerations: and the individuals thus sent
appeared as if generally selected because they were good for nothing
else. In truth, as the judges of Ireland were not made independent of
the crown until 1784, no English barrister who could earn his bread at
home would accept a precarious office in a strange country, and on a
paltry salary. Such Irishmen, also, as were in those days constituted
puisne judges, were of the inferior class of _practising_ barristers, on
account of the last-mentioned circumstance.


Footnote 78:

  The interest of money in England was only _five_ per cent; in Ireland,
  _six_. Moneyed Englishmen, therefore, lent out large sums on Irish
  mortgages. Lord Mansfield had vested much money in this way; and as
  Irish mortgages, from the confused state of Irish entails at that
  time, were generally considered rather _ticklish_ securities, the
  Irish judges were sent over from England to _take care_ of that
  matter, and were _removable at pleasure_, for the same reason.


A vulgar idea, most ridiculous in its nature, formerly prevailed in
Ireland, of the _infallibility_ of _judges_.—It existed long before and
at an early period of my observations, and went so far even as to
conceive that an ignorant barrister, whose opinion nobody probably would
ask, or, if obtained, nobody would act upon—should he, by interest,
subserviency, or other fortuitous circumstances, be placed on the
judicial bench, immediately changed his character—all the books in his
library pouring their information into his head! The great seal and the
king’s patent were held to saturate his brain in half an hour with all
that wisdom and learning which he had in vain been trying to get even a
peep at during the former portion of his life; and the mere dicta of the
metamorphosed barrister were set down, by reporters, as the infallible
(but theretofore inexplicable) law of the land; and, as such, handed
round to other judges under the appellation of precedents, entitled to
all possible weight and authority in judicial decisions.

This old doctrine of the infallibility of dicta and precedents, (which
presented, in fact, an accumulation of enigmas and contradictions,) was
at one time carried to great lengths;—I believe partly from a plausible
system of making legal decisions _uniform_, whether right or wrong; and
perhaps partly from the inability of the adopters to make any better
sort of precedent themselves. A complaisance so ridiculous has of late
been much relaxed.[79]


Footnote 79:

  A judge who feels himself bound by old precedents in the teeth of his
  own convictions, is much to be pitied. If he decides according to the
  said _precedents_, he does wrong with his eyes open. If he decides
  _against_ them, he will be considered as deciding against the _settled
  law of the land_, and the _Courts of Error_ quickly set the ancient
  mistake on its legs again.


To show the gradual and great improvement of the Irish bench, and the
rapid advance as regards the administration of justice in the law courts
of that country, I will subjoin a few illustrative anecdotes.

Baron Monckton, of the Exchequer (an importation from England), was said
to understand _black_ letter and _red_ wine better than any who had
preceded him in that situation. At all events, being often _vino
deditus_, he on such occasions described the segment of a circle in
making his way to the seat of justice! This learned baron was longer on
the bench than any other I recollect to have heard of; he resided in
Butter-lane, and was held as a _precedent_.

I have in later days enjoyed the intimacy of a very clever well-informed
man, and a sound lawyer, who (like the baron) rather indulged in the
juice of the grape, and whom Lord Clare had made a judge for some
services rendered to himself. The newspapers eulogised this gentleman
very much for his singular _tender-heartedness_, saying, “So great was
the humanity of Judge Boyd, that when he was passing sentence of death
upon any unfortunate criminal, it was observable that his lordship
seldom failed to have ‘_a drop_ in his eye!’” He was, in fact, a humane
though firm-minded man, and understood his trade well. He was tall and
strong, and his face exactly resembled a _scarlet pincushion_ well
_studded_! He was considered to be a slave to the _tender_ passion, and
was called (by no means _mal-apropos_) “_Love in a blaze_!”

I remember a barrister being raised to the Irish bench, who had been
previously well known by the ingenious surname of Counsellor
_Necessity_,—because “necessitas _non legem_ habet:” and certainly, to
do him justice, he was not unworthy of the cognomen.

Old Judge Henn (a very excellent private character) was dreadfully
puzzled on circuit, about 1789, by two pertinacious young barristers
(arguing a civil bill upon some trifling subject) repeatedly haranguing
the court, and each most positively laying down the “law of the case” in
_direct_ opposition to his adversary’s statement thereupon. The judge
listened with great attention until both were tired of stating the law
and contradicting each other, when they unanimously requested his
lordship to _decide_ the point.

“How, gentlemen,” said Judge Henn, “_can_ I settle it between
you?—_You_, sir, positively say the law is _one way_, and _you_ (turning
to the opposite party) as unequivocally affirm that it is the other way.
I wish to God, Billy Harrison, (to his registrar, who sat underneath,) I
knew what the law _really_ was!”

“My lord,” replied Billy Harrison most sententiously, (rising at the
same moment, and casting a despairing glance toward the bench,) “if _I_
knew what the law was, I protest to God I would tell your lordship with
a great deal of pleasure!”

“Then we’ll _save the point_, Billy Harrison!” exclaimed the
judge.—“_What_ point, my lord?” said Billy.

A more modern justice of the Irish King’s Bench, in giving his _dictum_
on a certain will case, absolutely said, “he thought it very clear that
the _testator_ intended to keep a _life interest_ in the estate to
_himself_!” The bar did not laugh outright; but Curran soon rendered
that consequence inevitable. “Very true, my lord,” said he, “very true!
_testators_ generally do secure _life_ interests to themselves. But, in
this case, I rather think your lordship takes the _will_ for the

The chief judges were, however, generally accomplished men, of
first-rate talent as lawyers; and the chancellors, with few exceptions,
had been learned, able, and dignified; qualities, which Lord Lifford was
the last to unite in an eminent degree.

On the subject of judges, I cannot omit a few anecdotes of a very
different description from the foregoing, totally extra-judicial, which
occurred in my own time.

Baron Power was considered an excellent lawyer, and was altogether one
of the most curious characters I have met in the profession.—He was a
morose, fat fellow, affecting to be genteel: he was very learned, very
rich, and very ostentatious. Unfortunately for himself, Baron Power held
the lucrative office of usher of the Court of Chancery, which was
principally remunerated by fees on monies lodged in that court. Lord
Clare (then chancellor) hated and teazed him, because Power was arrogant
himself, and never would succumb to the arrogance of Fitzgibbon, to whom
in law he was superior. The chancellor had a certain control over the
usher; at least he had a sort of license for abusing him by inuendo, as
an officer of the court, and most unremittingly did he exercise that
license. Baron Power had a large private fortune, and always acted in
office strictly according to the custom of his predecessors; but was
attacked so virulently and pertinaciously by Lord Clare, that having no
redress, it made a deep impression, first on his pride, then on his
mind, and at length on his intellect. Lord Clare followed up his blow,
as was common with him: he made daily attacks on the baron, who chose
rather to break than bend; and who, unable longer to stand this
persecution, determined on a prank of all others the most agreeable to
his adversary!—The baron walked quietly down early one fine morning to
the south wall, which runs into the sea, about two miles from Dublin;
there he very deliberately filled his coat-pockets with pebbles; and
having accomplished that business, as deliberately walked into the
ocean, which received him cordially, but did not retain him long, his
body being thrown ashore with great contempt by the very next tide. His
estates devolved upon his nephews, two of the most respectable men of
their country; and the lord chancellor enjoyed the double gratification
of destroying a baron, and recommending a more submissive usher in his
place; and when all parties were out of mourning, got his own son, the
Honourable Hubert Fitzgibbon (a very nice child at that time), into the
patent. They might have blamed Lord Clare for drowning the baron; but
there is no law human or divine which forbids a man from providing for
his own offspring when he has the opportunity. So, as such or such an
office must exist, if the business is duly performed, it is nothing to
the nation _who_ executes it.

Had the matter ended thus, it might not have been so very remarkable;
but the _precedent_ was too respectable and inviting not to be followed
by persons who had any particular reasons for desiring strangulation; as
a judge drowning himself gave the thing a sort of dignified legal
_éclat_! It so happened, that a Mr. Crosby Morgal, then an attorney
residing in Dublin, (of large dimensions, and with shin bones curved
like the segment of a rainbow,) had, for good and sufficient reasons,
long appeared rather dissatisfied with himself and other people. But as
attorneys were considered much more likely to induce their neighbours to
cut their throats than to execute that office upon themselves, nobody
ever suspected Morgal of any intention to shorten his days in a
voluntary manner.

However, it appeared that the signal success of Baron Power had excited
in the attorney a great ambition to get rid of his sensibilities by a
similar exploit.—In compliance with such his impression, he adopted the
very same preliminaries as the baron had done; walked off by the very
same road, to the very same spot; and, having had the advantage of
knowing, from the coroner’s inquest, that the baron had put pebbles into
his pocket with good effect, adopted likewise this _judicial precedent_,
and committed himself in due form into the hands of Father Neptune, who
took equal care of him as he had done of the baron; and, after having
suffocated him so completely as to defy the exertions of the Humane
Society, sent his body floating ashore, to the full as bloated and
buoyant as Baron Power’s had been. This gentleman was father to a lady
of fortune and some rank, still living, and whose first husband met a
much more disagreeable _finale_, being shot _against_ his will by his
brother candidate at an election. She has herself, however, been
singularly fortunate throughout life.

As a sequel to this little anecdote of Crosby Morgal, it is worth
observing, that, though I do not recollect any of the _attorneys_
immediately following his example, four or five of his _clients_ very
shortly after started from this world of their own accord, to try, as
people then said, if they could any way overtake Crosby, who had left
them no conveniences for staying long behind him.[80]


Footnote 80:

  The Irish attorneys had, I believe, then pretty much the same
  reputation and popularity enjoyed by their tribe throughout the United
  Kingdom. They have now, in each country, wisely changed their
  designation into that of _solicitors_. I recollect one anecdote, which
  will, I think, apply pretty well to the major part of that celebrated
  profession. Some years ago, a suitor in the Court of Exchequer
  complained in person to the chief baron, that he was quite _ruinated_,
  and could go on no further! “Then,” said Lord Yelverton, “you had
  better leave the matter to be decided by reference.”—“To be sure I
  will, my lord,” said the plaintiff: “I’ve been now at law _thirteen_
  years, and can’t get on at all! I’m willing, please your lordship, to
  leave it all either to one _honest man_ or two _attorneys_, whichever
  your lordship pleases.”—“You had better _toss up_, head or harp, for
  that,” said Lord Yelverton, laughing. Two attorneys were however
  appointed, and, in less than a _year_, reported that “they could not
  agree:” both parties then declared, they would leave the matter to a
  very honest farmer, a neighbour of theirs. They did so, and, in about
  a _week_, came hand-in-hand to the court, thanked his lordship, and
  told him their neighbour had settled the whole affair square and
  straight to their entire satisfaction! Lord Yelverton used to tell the
  anecdote with great glee.


Mr. William Johnson (the present Judge Johnson) was one of my brother
barristers whose smiles were not always agreeable to me when we went
circuits together. I liked his frowns extremely, because _they_ were
_very sincere_, extremely picturesque, and never niggardly. But as to
smiles, my own had the trouble of mounting up from my heart; he, more
wise, had an assortment ready prepared for the use of his _policy_: in
this particular, therefore, we were not matched.

When my friend William was angry, I was sure he was in earnest, and that
it would not be over too soon: I therefore considered it as a proper,
steady sort of concern. But his paroxysms of good-humour were
occasionally awkward; and I have frequently begged of him to cheer up
our society by getting into a little passion; nay, I have sometimes
taken the liberty of putting him into a slight one myself, to make him
more _agreeable_.

Be it remembered, however, that this was before Mr. William Johnson
became a _judge_; I cannot say what effect an inoculation by Lord
Norbury’s merry temperament may have had upon his constitution. But I
have frequently told him, when I saw him drooping into _placidity_ (he
is not singular on that point), that either physic or wrangling was
indispensable, to keep the bile from stagnation; and I hope my old chum
has not suffered himself to sink into a morbid state of mental

I always promised to give William Johnson a page or two in my “Historic
Memoirs of Ireland:” some of his friends suggested that he would be more
appropriately introduced into my “Fragments.” As we are now both rather
stricken in years, I will adopt their suggestion without abandoning my
own purpose, and, with the best wishes for his celebrity, bequeath him
in _each_ work to posterity, to make what use they please of, as they
certainly will of both of us, when we cannot help ourselves.

Though divers curious and memorable anecdotes occur to me of my said
friend, Judge William Johnson, I do not conceive that any of them can be
very interesting _out of court_, particularly after he becomes defunct,
which nature has certainly set down as a “motion of course.” One or two,
however, which connect themselves with my egotistical feelings shall not
be omitted. At the same time, I assure him, that I by no means approve
of our late brother Daly’s method of reasoning, who, on speaking rather
indecorously of Mr. William Johnson, in his absence, at the bar-mess on
circuit, was tartly and very properly asked by the present Mr. Justice
Jebb, “Why he would say such things of Mr. Johnson behind his
_back_?”—“Because,” replied Mr. Daly, “I would not _hurt his feelings_
by saying them to his _face_!”

I often reflect on a singular circumstance which occurred between my
friend Johnson and me, as proving the incalculability of what is called
in the world “luck,” which, in my mind, cannot have a better definition
than “The _state-lottery_ of _nature_.” My friend is the son of a
respectable apothecary, formerly of Fishamble-street, Dublin, and was
called to the bar some few years before me; but the world being blind as
to our respective merits, I got immediately into considerable business,
and he, though a much steadier and wiser man, and a much cleverer
lawyer, got none at all.—Prosperity, in short, was beginning fairly to
_deluge_ me; when suddenly I fell ill of a violent fever on circuit,
which nearly ended my career. Under these circumstances, Johnson acted
by me in a kind and friendly manner, and insisted on remaining with me,
which however I would not allow; but I never forgot the proffered
kindness, and determined, if ever it came within my power, to repay this
act of civility (though _then_ involving no great pecuniary sacrifice).

I was restored to health, and my career of good fortune started afresh,
whilst Johnson had still no better luck. He remained assiduous,
friendly, and good-natured to me; but at the same time he drooped, and
told me at Wexford, in a state of despondency, that he was determined to
quit the bar and go into orders. I endeavoured to dissuade him from
this, because I had a presentiment that he would eventually succeed; and
I fairly owned to him that I doubted much if he were _mild_ enough for a
parson, though quite _hot_ enough for a barrister.

About two years after, I was appointed king’s counsel.—My stuff gown had
been, so far, the most fortunate one of our profession, and Johnson’s
the least so. I advised him jocosely to get a new gown; and shortly
after, in the whim of the moment, fancying there might be some seeds of
good luck sticking to the folds of my old stuff after I had quitted it
for a silken robe, I despatched a humorous note to Johnson, together
with the stuff gown, as a mark of my gratitude for his attentions,
begging he would accept it from a friend and well-wisher, and try if
wearing it would be of equal service to him as to me.

He received my jocose gift very pleasantly, and in good part; and,
laughing at my conceit, in the same spirit of whim put on the gown. But,
whatever may become of _prepossessions_, certain it is that from that
day Johnson prospered; his business gradually grew greater and greater;
and, in proportion as it increased, he became what they call in Ireland,
_high enough_ to every body but the attorneys. No doubt he was well able
to do their business; but they never seemed to find it out till he had
got the _lucky gown_ on his back, though he had a “brother, Tom,” of
that cast, a good _bringer_, too.

Thus my friend William Johnson trudged ably on through thick and thin,
but minding his _stepping stone_, till he got to the Parliament House,
into which Lord Castlereagh stuffed him (as he said himself), “to put an
_end to it_.” However, he kept a clear look-out, and now sits in the
place his elder brother Judge Robert had occupied, who was rather
singularly _un_judged for having _Cobbettised_ Lord Redesdale, as will
hereafter appear. I have always considered that Judge Robert Johnson was
treated cruelly and illegally: the precedent has never been followed,
and I hope never will.

Old Mr. Johnson, the father of these two gentlemen, when upward of
sixty, procured a diploma as physician—to make the family _genteeler_.
He was a decent, orderly, good kind of apothecary, and a very
respectable, though somewhat ostentatious doctor; and, above all, an
orthodox, hard-praying Protestant. I was much amused one day after
dinner at Mr. Hobson’s, at Bushy, near Dublin, where the doctor, Curran,
myself, and many others were in company. The doctor delighted in telling
of the successes of his sons, Bob, Bill, Gam, and Tom the attorney, as
he termed them: he was fond of attributing Bob’s advancement rather to
the goodness of God than the Marquess of Downshire; and observed, most
parentally, that he had brought up his boys, from their very childhood,
with “the fear of God always before their eyes.”—“Ah! ’twas a fortunate
circumstance indeed, doctor,” said Curran; “very fortunate indeed, that
you _frightened_ them so early!”

One of the most honourable and humane judges I ever saw upon the Irish
bench was the late Justice Kelly, of the Common Pleas. He acquired
professionally a very large fortune, and died at a great age, beloved
and regretted by every being who had known him. It was he who tried the
cause of Lady M—; and never did I see him chuckle with pleasure and a
proper sense of gallantry more than he did at the verdict in that case.

He was no common man. Numerous anecdotes have been told of him: many
singular ones I myself witnessed; but none which did not do credit to
some just or gentlemanly feeling. He had practised several years in the
West Indies; and studying at the Temple on his return, was in due season
admitted to the Irish bar, to the head of which he rose with universal

At the time the Irish insisted on a declaration of their independence
Judge Kelly had attained the high dignity of prime sergeant; a law
office not known in England. In Ireland the prime sergeant was at the
head of his profession, having precedence of the attorney and
solicitor-general. On the government first opposing the declaration of
Irish independence Kelly, from his place in Parliament, declared “he
should consider it rather a disgrace than an honour to wear the prime
sergeant’s gown under a ministry which resisted the rights of his
country!” and immediately sent in his resignation, and retired to the
rank of a private barrister.

Among such a people, and in consequence of such conduct, it is useless
to attempt describing his popularity. Nobody was satisfied who had not
Tom Kelly for his advocate in the courts: no suitor was content who had
not Tom Kelly’s opinion as to title: all purchasers of property must
have Tom Kelly’s sanction for their speculations. In a word, he became
both an oracle and a fortune-teller: his court-bag grew too heavy for
his strength; but he got through every cause gallantly and cheerfully:
he was always prepared; his perseverance never yielded; his arguments
seldom failed; his spirits never flagged. This enviable old man lived
splendidly, yet saved a large fortune. At length, it was found so
unpopular to leave him at the bar, that he was first appointed
solicitor-general, and then mounted on the bench of the Common Pleas,
where having sat many years, he retired to his beautiful country
residence, near Stradbally, Queen’s County, and lived as a country
gentleman in hospitable magnificence. He married three of his daughters
well, pursued his field-sports to his death, and departed this world to
the unanimous regret of all who knew him.

Judge Kelly’s only son, while his father yet lived, turned methodist;
got infatuated among devotees and old women; became a sectarian
preacher! and has by these means contrived, as thoroughly as the
possession of a large fortune will permit him, to bury once more the
family name in that obscurity whence his father had raised it. After
Judge Kelly had assumed the bench the public began to find out that his
legal knowledge had been overrated! his opinions were overruled—his
advice thought scarce worth having—his deductions esteemed illogical:—in
short, he lost altogether the character of an infallible lawyer; but had
the happiness of thinking he had confirmed his reputation for honour,
justice, and integrity. He used to say, laughingly, “So they find out
now that I am not a very stanch lawyer. I am heartily glad they did not
find it out thirty years ago!”

He loved the world; and this was only gratitude, for the world loved
him; and nobody ever yet enjoyed existence with more cheerfulness and
composure. “Egad!” he used to say, “this world is wheeling round and
round quite too fast to please me. For my part, I’d rather be a _young_
shoe-boy than an _old_ judge.” He always most candidly admitted his
legal mistakes. I recollect my friend William Johnson once pressing him
very fiercely to a decision in his favour, and stating as an _argument_
(in his usual peremptory tone to judges he was not afraid of) that there
could be no doubt on the point—precedent was imperative in the matter,
as his lordship had decided the same points the same way _twice_ before.

“So, Mr. Johnson,” said the judge, looking archly—shifting his seat
somewhat, and shrugging up his right shoulder,—“so! because I decided
_wrong_ twice, Mr. Johnson, you’d have me do so a _third_ time? No, no,
Mr. Johnson! you must excuse me. I’ll decide _right_ this bout:”—and so
he did. Had he died previous to this circumstance, his two wrong
decisions would have been _precedents_ and _settled law_.

The anecdotes of his quaint humour are in fact innumerable, and some of
his _charges_ quite extraordinary. His profile was very like Edmund
Burke’s: he had that sharp kind of nose which gives a singular cast to
the general contour; but there was always an appearance of drollery
lurking in his countenance. No man could more justly boast of carrying
about him proofs of nationality, as few ever had the Irish dialect
stronger. It was in every word and every _motion_! Curran used to say he
had the _brogue_ in his _shoulders_! If Judge Kelly conceived he had no
grounds to be ashamed of his country, she had still less to be ashamed
of him. He was calculated to do credit to any land.

I also had the pleasure of being acquainted with Mr. Arthur Wolfe
intimately, afterward Baron Kilwarden, and chief justice of Ireland.
This gentleman had, previously to his advancement, acquired very high
eminence as an equity lawyer: he was many years my senior at the bar.

Wolfe had no natural genius, and but scanty _general_ information: his
talents were originally too feeble to raise him by their unassisted
efforts into any political importance. Though patronised by the Earl of
Tyrone, and supported by the Beresford aristocracy, his rise was slow
and gradual; and his promotion to the office of solicitor-general had
been long predicted, not from his ability, but in consequence of his
reputation as a good-hearted man and a sound lawyer.

On the elevation of Mr. John Fitzgibbon to the seals Mr. Wolfe succeeded
him as attorney-general; the parliamentary duties of which office were,
however, far beyond the reach of his oratory, and altogether too
important for his proportion of intellect; and hence he had to encounter
difficulties which he was unable, on some occasions, successfully to
surmount. The most gifted members of his own profession were, in fact,
then linked with the first-rate political talents of the Irish nation,
to bear down those measures which it had become Mr. Wolfe’s imperative
official duty to originate or support.

In the singular character of Mr. Wolfe there were strange diversities of
manner and of disposition. On first acquaintance, he seldom failed to
make an unfavourable impression: but his arrogance was only
superficial—his pride innoxious—his haughtiness theoretical. In society,
he so whimsically mixed and mingled solemn ostentation with playful
frivolity, that the man and the boy, the judge and the jester, were
generally alternate.

Still Kilwarden’s heart was right and his judgment sufficing. In feeling
he was quick—in apprehension slow. The union of these qualities
engendered a sort of spurious sensibility, which constantly led him to
apprehend offence where none was ever intended. He had a constant dread
of being thought petulant; and the excitement produced by this dread
became itself the author of that tetchy irritation which he so much
deprecated. Thus, like certain humorous characters on the stage, he
frequently worked himself into silly anger by endeavouring to show that
he was perfectly good-tempered.

Lord Kilwarden, not perceiving the true distinction between pride and
dignity, thought he was supporting the appearance of the one, when, in
fact, he was only practising the formality of the other; and, after a
long intercourse with the world, he every day evinced that he knew any
one’s else character better than his own. As attorney-general during a
most trying era, his humanity, moderation, justice, and discretion, were
no less evident than was his strict adherence to official duties; and
the peculiarities of his manner were merged in the excellence of his
sterling qualities.

In the celebrated cause of the King against Heavy (in the King’s Bench),
Mr. Curran and I were Heavy’s counsel; and afterwards moved to set aside
the verdict on grounds which we considered to form a most important
point, upon legal principles.

Curran had concluded his speech, and I was stating what I considered to
be the law of the case, when Lord Kilwarden, impatient and fidgety,
interrupted me:—“God forbid, Mr. Barrington,” said he, “that should be
the law!”

“God forbid, my lord,” answered I, “that it should _not_ be the law!”

“You are rough, sir!” exclaimed he.

“More than one of us have the same infirmity, my lord.”

“I was right, sir,” said he, colouring.

“So was I, my lord,” returned I, unbendingly.

He fidgeted again, and looked haughty and sour. I thought he would break
out, but he only said, “Go on, sir—go on, sir!” I proceeded; and, whilst
I was speaking, he wrote a note, which was handed to me by the officer.
I kept it, as affording a curious trait of human character. It ran


            “You are the _most_ impudent fellow I ever met! Come and
    dine with me this day at six. You will meet some strangers; so I
    hope you will behave yourself, though I have no reason to expect


To conclude this sketch:—Lord Kilwarden was, in grain, one of the best
men I ever met through life: but, to be liked, it was necessary he
should be known; and the more intimately known, the more apparent were
his good qualities. He had not an error, to counterbalance which some
merit did not exhibit itself. He had no wit, though he thought he said
good things: as a specimen of his punning, he used to call _Curran_

The instability of human affairs was lamentably exemplified in his
lordship’s catastrophe:—his life was prosperous, and deservedly so; his
death cruel and unmerited. There scarcely exists in record a murder more
inhuman or more wanton than that of the chief justice.

In 1803, on the evening when the partial but sanguinary insurrection
broke out in Dublin (organised by Mr. Emmet), Lord Kilwarden had retired
to his country-house near the metropolis, and was tranquilly enjoying
the society of his family, when he received an order from government to
repair to town on particular business: in fact, the police, the
secretaries, and all attached to the executive, had continued
incredulous and supine, and never believed the probability of a rising
until it was at the very point.

Lord Kilwarden immediately ordered his carriage, and, attended only by
his nephew (a clergyman) and one of his daughters, proceeded to Dublin,
without the least suspicion of violence or interruption. His road,
however, lay through Thomas Street—wide and long—wherein the rebels had
first assembled; and previously to Lord Kilwarden’s arrival had
commenced operations. Before his lordship could conceive, or had time to
ask, the cause of this assemblage, he was in the midst of their ranks:
hemmed in on every side by masses of armed ruffians, there was no
possibility of retreat; and without being conscious of a crime, he heard
the yells of murder and revenge on every side around him, and perceived
that he was lost beyond the power of redemption.

A general shout ran among the insurgents of “The chief justice!—the
chief justice!” Their crime would have been the same in either case; but
it was alleged that they were mistaken as to the person, conceiving it
to be Lord Carleton, who, as justice of the Common Pleas, had some years
before rendered himself beyond description obnoxious to the disaffected
of Ireland, in consequence of having been the judge who tried and
condemned the two Counsellors Sheers, who were executed for treason, and
to whom that nobleman had been _testamentary guardian_ by the will of
their father. The mob thought only of him; and Lord Kilwarden fell a
victim to their revenge against Lord Carleton.

The moment the cry went forth the carriage was stopped, and the door
torn open. The clergyman and Miss Wolfe got out and ran. The latter was
suffered to escape; but the pikemen pursued, and having come up with Mr.
Wolfe, mangled and murdered, in a horrid manner, as fine and inoffensive
a young gentleman as I ever knew.

Hundreds of the murderers now surrounded the carriage, ambitious only
who should first spill the blood of a chief justice. A multitude of
pikemen at once assailed him; but his wounds proved that he had made
many efforts to evade them. His hands were lacerated all over, in the
act of resistance; but, after a long interval of torture, near thirty
stabs in various parts of his body incapacitated him from struggling
further with his destiny. They dragged him into the street: yet, when
conveyed into a house, he was still sensible, and able to speak a few
words: but soon after expired, to the great regret of all those who knew
him well, as I did, and were able to separate his frivolity from his
excellent qualities.

Certain events which arose out of that cruel murder are singular enough.
Mr. Emmet, a young gentleman of great abilities, but of nearly frantic
enthusiasm, who had been the indiscreet organ and leader of that partial
insurrection, was son to the state physician of Ireland, Doctor Emmet.
Some time after the unfortunate event he was discovered, arrested,
tried, and executed. On his trial Mr. Plunkett was employed to act for
the crown, with which he had not before been connected; but was soon
after appointed solicitor-general. The circumstances of that trial were
printed, and are no novelty; but the result of it was a paper which
appeared in Cobbett against Lord Redesdale, and which was considered a
libel. It was traced to Judge Robert Johnson, of the Common Pleas, who
was in consequence pursued by the then attorney-general, Mr. O’Grady, as
was generally thought by the bar (and as I still think), in a manner
contrary to all established principles both of law and justice. The
three law courts had the case argued before them. The judges differed on
every point:[81] however, the result was that Judge Johnson, being
kidnapped, was taken over to England, and tried before the King’s Bench
at Westminster, for a libel undoubtedly written in Ireland, although
published by Cobbett in both countries. He was found guilty; but, on the
terms of his resigning office, judgment was never called for. As,
however, Judge Robert Johnson was one of those members of Parliament who
had forgotten their patriotism and voted for the Union, the government
could not in reason abandon him altogether. They therefore gave him
_twelve hundred pounds a year for life_! and Robert Johnson, Esquire,
has lived many years not a bit the worse for Westminster; while his next
brother (to whom I have already paid my respects) was made judge of the
Common Pleas, and reigns in his stead. This is the Mr. Robert Johnson
who, from his having been inducted into two offices, Curran used to
style, on alluding to him in the House of Commons, “the _learned_
barrack-master.” He was a well-read, entertaining man, extremely acute,
an excellent writer, and a trustworthy, agreeable companion. But there
was something tart in his look and address, and he did not appear
good-natured in his manner or gentlemanly in his appearance; which
circumstances, altogether, combined with his public habits to render him
extremely unpopular. He did not affect to be a great pleader, but would
have made a first-rate attorney: he was indeed very superior to his
brother William in every thing except law; in which the latter, when a
barrister, was certainly entitled to the pre-eminence.


Footnote 81:

  On the argument of that case in the Exchequer the judgment of Baron
  Smith was delivered with an ability scarcely ever rivalled. Its
  impression may be best imagined from the fact of the whole bar rising
  immediately on its conclusion by a sort of sympathetic impulse, and
  bowing to him profoundly.


                             END OF VOL. I.

                        PRINTED BY A. J. VALPY,
                     RED LION COURT, FLEET STREET.


                          Transcriber’s note:

Title page, ‘TWO’ changed to ‘THREE,’ “IN THREE VOLUMES.”

Page 78, full stop inserted after ‘Mr.,’ “of Mr. O’Kelly’s abilities”

Page 109, ‘five-and twenty’ changed to ‘five-and-twenty,’ “at least
five-and-twenty years,”

Page 112, ‘guager’ changed to ‘gauger,’ “said the old gauger”

Page 115, ‘neice’ changed to ‘niece,’ “niece to Mr. Tennison”

Page 154, semicolon inserted after ‘he,’ “For I will
go,                says he;”

Page 206, ‘attornies’ changed to ‘attorneys,’ “guardianship of the

Page 223, ‘attornies’ changed to ‘attorneys,’ “the attorneys pursued”

Page 239, ‘staunch’ changed to ‘stanch,’ “two-and-twenty stanch members”

Page 284, ‘attached’ changed to ‘attacked,’ “and was attacked for his”

Page 317, em-dash inserted after ‘chance,’ “every chance—death or”

Page 331, full stop inserted after ‘it,’ “I would not hazard it.”

Page 332, full stop inserted after ‘Mr.,’ “Mr. Pelham’s parliamentary

Page 381, ‘ballance’ changed to ‘balance,’ “to give the balance”

Page 396, comma canged to full stop, “so long associated.”

Page 469, full stop inserted after ‘did,’ “and so he did.”

Page 475, ‘Lrod’ changed to ‘Lord,’ “and Lord Kilwarden fell”

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