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less highly of that great poet. One of his favourite exercises was the funeral oration of Antony over the body of Cæsar, as it is given by Shakspeare ; the frequent recitation of which he used to recommend to his young friends at the Bar, to the latest period of his life.
He was called to the Bar in 1775, in his 25th year-having rather imprudently married two years before-and very soon attained to independence and distinction. There is a very clever little disquisition introduced here by the author, on the very different, and almost opposite taste in eloquence which has prevailed at the Bar of England and Ireland respectively ;-the one being in general cold and correct, unimpaşsioned and technical ; the other discursive, rhetorical, and embellished and encumbered with flights of fancy and appeals to the passions. * * * Professional peculiarities, we are persuaded, are to be referred much more to the circumstances of the profession, than to the national character of those who exercise it; and the more redundant eloquence of the Irish bar, is better explained, probably, by the smaller quantity of business in their courts, than by the greater vivacity of their fancy, or the warmth of their hearts. We in Scotland have also a forensic eloquence of our own-more speculative, discursive, and ambitious than that of England—but less poetical and passionate than that of Ireland ; and the peculiarity might be plausibly ascribed, here also, to the imputed character of the nation, as distinguished for logical acuteness and intrepid questioning of authority, rather than for richness of imagination, or promptitude of feeling. We do not mean to deny the existence or the operation of these causes -but we think the eflect is produced chiefly by others of a more vulgar description. The small number of Courts and Judges in England-compared to its great wealth, populatiou, and business -has made brevity and despatch not only important but indispensable qualifications in an advocate in great practice,-since it would be physically impossible either for him or for the Courts to get through with their business without them. All mere ornamental speaking, therefore, is not only severely discountenanced, but absolutely debarred; and the most technical, direct and authoritative views of the case alone can be listened to. But judicial time, to use the language of Bentham, is not of the same high value, either in Ireland or in Scotland ; and the pleaders of those countries have consequently given way to that universal love of long speaking, which can never be repressed by any thing but the absolute impossibility of indulging it—while their prolixity has taken a different character, not so much from the temperament of the speakers, as from the diference of the audiences they have generally had to address.- In Ireland, the greater part of their tediousness is bestowed on Juries--and their vein, consequently, has been
more popular.-With us in Scotland, the advocate has to speak chiefly to the Judges—and naturally endeavours, therefore, to make that impression by subtlety, or compass of reasoning, which he would in vain attempt, either by pathos, poetry, or jocularity.-Professional speakers, in short, we are persuaded, will always speak as long as they can be listened to.-- The quantity of their eloquence, therefore, will depend on the time that can be afforded for its display—and its quality on the nature of the audience to which it is addressed.
But though we cannot admit that the causes assigned by this author are the main or fundamental causes of the peculiarity of Irish oratory, we are far from denying that there is much in it of a national character, and indicating something extraordinary either in the temper of the people, or in the state of society among them. There is, in particular, a much greater Irascibility, with its usual concomitants of coarseness and personality, and a much more Theatrical tone, or a taste for forced and exaggerated sentiments, than would be tolerated on this side of the channel. Of the former attribute, the continual, and, we must say, most indecent altercations that are recorded in these volumes between the Bench and the Bar, are certainly the most flagrant and offensive examples. In some cases the Judges were perhaps the aggressors--but the violence and indecorum is almost wholly on the side of the Counsel ; and the excess and intemperance of their replies generally goes far beyond any thing for which an apology can be found in the provocation that had been given. A very striking instance occurs in an early part of Mr. Curran's history, where he is said to have observed upon an opinion delivered by Judge Robinson, ó that he had never met with the law as laid down by his Lordship in any book in his library ;' and, upon his Lordship rejoining, somewhat scornfully,
that he suspected his library was very small,' the offended barrister, in allusion to the known fact of the Judge having recently published some anonymous pamphlets, thought fit to reply, that his • library might be small, but he thanked heaven that among his
books, there were none of the wretched productions of the frantic pamphleteers of the day. I find it more instructive, my lord, to study good works than to compose bad ones; my books may
be few, but the title pages give me the-writers' names—my shell ' is not disgraced by any of such rank absurdity that their very an*thors are ashamed to own them.' (p. 122.) On another occasion, when he was proceeding in an argument with his characteristic impetuosity, the presiding Judge having called to the Sheriff to be ready to take into custody any one who should disturb the decorum of the Court, the sensitive counsellor at once applying the notice to himself, is reported to have broken out into the following incredible apostrophe -- Do, Mr. Sheriff,' replied Mr. Curran,‘go
' and get ready my dungeon ; prepare a bed of straw for me; and
upon that bed I shall to-night repose with more tranquillity than I should enjoy were I sitting upon that bench with a consciousness that I disgraced it.'-Even his reply to Lord Clare, when interrupted by him in an argument before the Privy Council, seems to us much more petulant than severe. His Lordship, it seems, had admonished him that he was wandering from the question ; and Mr. C. after some general observations, replied, I am aware, 'my lords, that truth is to be sought only by slow and painful pro
gress : I know also that error is in its nature flippant and compendious; it hops with airy and fastidious levity over proofs and arguments, and perches upon assertion, which it calls conclusion.' -To Lord Clare, however, Mr. C. had every possible temptation to be intractable and impertinent. But even to his best friends, when placed on the seat of judgment, he could not always forbear a similar petulance. Lord Avonmore was always most kind and indulgent to bim—but was sometimes in the habit it seems of checking his wanderings, and sometimes of too impatiently anticiparing his conclusions. Upon one of these occasions, and in the middle of a solemu argument, we are called on to admire the following piece of vulgar and farcical stupidity, as a specimen of Mr. C.'s most judicious pleasantry.--"Perhaps, my Lord, I am stray'ing; but you must impute it to the extreme agitation of my mind. I bave just witnessed so dreadful a circumstance, that my imagination has not yet recovered from the shock.”—His lordship was * now all attention.--"On my way to court, my lord, as I passed * by one of the markets, I observed a butcher proceeding to slaughter a calf. Just as his hand was raised, a lovely little child approached him unperceived, and, terrible to relate-1 still see 'the life-blood gushing out-the poor child's bosom was under bis • hand, when he plunged his knife into-into"-"Into the bo
som of the child !" cried out the judge, with much emotion"" Into the neck of the calf, my lord ; but your lordship sometimes anticipates."
But this is not quite fair.—There is no more such nonsense in the book-nor any other Iricism so discreditable to the taste either of its hero or its author. There are plenty of traits, however, that make one blush for the degradation, and shudder at the government of that magnificent country.-One of the most striking is supplied by an event in the early part of Mr. C.'s professional history, and one to which he is here said to have been indebted for his first celebrity. A nobleman of great weight and influence in the country-we gladly suppress his name, though it is given in the book-had a mistress, whose brother being a Catholic, had for some offence been sentenced to ecclesiastical penance-and the young woman solicited her keeper to use his influence with the
priest to obtain remission. His Lordship went accordingly to the cabin of the aged pastor, who came bareheaded to the door with his missal in his hand; and after hearing the application, respectfully answered, that the sentence having been imposed by the Bishop, could only be relaxed by the same authority-and that he had no right or power to interfere with it. The noble mediator on this struck the old man! and drove him with repeated blows from his presence. The priest then brought his action of damages—but for a long time could find no advocate hardy enough to undertake his cause ;-and when young Curran at last made offer of his services, he was blamed and pitied by all his prudent friends for his romantic and Quixotic rashness. These facts speak volumes as to the utter perversion of moral feeling that is produced by unjust laws, and the habits to which they give rise. No nation is so brave or so generous as the Irish, -and yet an Irish nobleman could be guilty of the brutality of striking an aged priest, without derogating from his dignity or honour :-No body of men could be more intrepid and gallant than the leaders of the Irish bar; and yet it was thought too daring and presumptuous for any of them to assist the sufferer in obtaining redress for an outrage like this. In England, those things are inconceivable; but the readers of Irish history are aware, that where the question was between Peer and Peasant-and still more when it was between Protestant and Catholic—the barristers had cause for apprehension. It was but about forty years before, that upon a Catholic bringing an action for the recovery of his confiscated estates, the Irish House of Commons publicly voted a resolution, that all barristers, • solicitors, attorneys, and proctors who should be concerned for
him, should be considered as public enemies ! This was in 1735. In 1780, however, Mr. C. found the service not quite so dangerous; and by great eloquence and exertion extorted a reluctant verdict, and 30 guineas of damages from a Protestant Jury. The sequel of the affair was not less characteristic. In the first place, it involved the advocate in a duel with a witness whom he had rather outrageously abused-and, in the next place, it was thought sufficient to justily a public notification to bim, on the part of the noble defendant, that his audacity should be punished by excluding him from all professional employment wherever his influence could extend. The insolence of such a communication might well have warranted a warlike reply. But Mr. C. expressed his contempt in a gayer and not less effectual manner. Pretending to misunderstand the tenor of the message, he answered aloud, in the hearing of his friends, My good sir, you may tell his lordship, that it
is in vain for him to be proposing terms of accommodation; • for after what has happened, 'I protest I think, while 1 live, I shall never hold a brief for him or one of his family. The threat, VOL. II.
indeed, proved as impotent as it was pitiful; for the spirit and talent which the young counsellor had displayed through the whole scene, not only brought him into unbounded popularity with the lower orders, but instantly raised him to a distinguished place in the ranks of his profession.
In 1783 Mr. C. got a silk gown, and was brought into Parliament; and here properly commences the Political part of the work. Nothing can be so deplorable as the history of Ireland up to this epoch-except perhaps a part of its history since. But nothing can at the same time be more pregnant with warning and instruction, both as to the utter hopelessness of repressing Discontent by Severity, and as to the inefficacy of Parliaments that do not really represent the sense and the interests of the people.
In the year 1803, the rooted discontent of Ireland broke out in a second insurrection. From want of concert and patience, it assumed the form but of a brief and unpremeditated tumult; but it appeared, on investigation, and is proved by the original plan in Emmet's handwriting, appended to these volumes, that a simultaneous rising had been organized in the counties of Wicklow, Wexford, and Kildare, as well as in remoter districts—and that it was prevented only by the neglect or misunderstanding of the signals and instructions. "As it was, comparatively few lives were lost; but among these was the lamented Lord Kilwarden, the most venerated of all the Judges of his country-the wisest, because the gentlest in her councils. His death formed no part of the plan of the insurgents, and was either an unpremeditated act of savage fury, or of private malignity and revenge.
This wild and desperate project, was the work of an individual of distinguished abilities, gentle dispositions, and kindly affections ; and nothing can show more strongly the effect that had been produced on the feelings of the nation at large, by the wrongs she had suffered, and the means that had been used to stifle their expression, than that they shonld have seduced a person of such a character into such a proceeding. This part of the public story is unfortunately but too closely connected with Mr. C.'s private history, and forms the most striking and romantic portion of it. The individual to whom we have alluded, was Mr. Robert Emmet; a young man of good family and high prospects, who had been a frequent visiter in Mr. C.'s family, and had, without his kuowledge, formed an attachment to his youngest daughter. He never gave, even to her, the remotest hint of the projects in which he was engaged ; and it was only a short time before its failure that he ventured to speak to her of his passion. It was to this attachment, however, that his fate was owing; for he escaped after the miscarriage of the insurrection, and might have got out of the kingdom,