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life might have been saved, even in spite of his determined purpose to accept no favour. The civil war was ended; the government had treated with the directors of the union, and the men who formed the alliance with the French. Lord Cornwallis had openly censured the crimes and cruelties of the Orange faction, and
professed to act upon a system of moderation and amnesty. Even Napper Tandy, the most proscribed of all that bore arms or rebelled, had been exchanged for a British general, and sent back to France in a British vessel, to enjoy his rank and pay as a French general for the remainder of his life. He had been specially, and by name, excepted out of the amnesty act, and so great had been the avidity to have bis person and bis life, that not only great rewards were set upon his head, but a British plenipotentiary violated the honour of the diplomacy and the rights of nations, taking upon himself
the office of constable, and imposing upon the senate of a free and neutral city the office of gaolers. When it is considered that this man, after lying so long in foreign dungeons and in irons, was brought to Ireland, tried and convicted, and every thing but executed, and afterwards given up on the simple requisition of Napoleon, how much reason was there not for Curran to hope that he might save the life of this brave man?
Some have asked why Curran, if he felt the wrongs of Ireland as he described them, contented himself with talking, leaving to others the post of danger-bow he, if his affections were so engaged, and his sentiments so decided, could futter like the moth round the taper and come off unhurt; and also, how, after that illomened union that extinguished in blood the constitution of his country, he could submit to kiss the hand of the oppressor, and kneel or stoop for favour. I have already shown that he was not unhurt, but assailed, and wounded even in the tenderest part; and if he was not consigned with other men of patriotic virtue to a dungeon or a hulk, it was most probably because his seat in parliament exempted him from the operation of the law that suspended the habeas corpus act. To censure him for accepting the station of a Judge and Privy Counsellor, in an administration headed by Fox and Grey, is to say, that those who do most for their country are to have least of its indulgence.
And now a word touching the Edinburgh Reviewers before I take my leave. To dispute their talents would be to disparage my own judgment. Their writings have been long my chief literary recreation. Their luminous conceptions, and polished style, have given them a sway, which, like all other power if abused, may become dangerous and despotic; and when it verges towards that point it becomes a civic duty to sound the tocsin of alarm.
I do not however profess to enter the lists as a champion against such formidable adversaries; I should rather submit, and even pay
them black mail, than wage an impotent war, and indeed the combat would be every way too unequal between one · Whose sword hangs rusting on the wall and so many knights of fame,
"Ten of them are sheathed in steel,
They lay down to rest,
With corslet laced,
They carve at the meal
With gloves of steel,
And they drink the red wine through the helmet barred.' I shall therefore content myself with an appeal to the good sense of these gentlemen, who are the fittest to correct their own errors, if any they have fallen into; but still, in doing this, I shall use the like freedom by them as they do by others.
I think then that their strictures upon some passages of this biography have been too fastidious, or, to borrow a sprighulier phrase of their own,' too smart and snappish.'
I think they have not viewed the story of the birth, and birth place of Curran's eloquence, of poor Apjohn and Duhigg, and the victory over the devil of temple bar, with their accustomed candour or discrimination. Had they known more of the men and manners they were censuring, they would never have supposed that this story was taken down by the author from his father's lips : indeed, they would smile at their own innocent mistake.
They say it is not the very best style of wit or talk that they have met with. But who has said it was ? Its beauty, if it has any, is that it is entirely without such pretension, and is related simply as a part of the history of John Philpot Curran. The observation, or question of his friend was, whether his gift was from art or nature, or whether his eloquence was born with him. And the answer was, the history of its origin, showing how much it was owing to accident and circumstances; and when Curran was thus cheerfully complying with the desire of his friend, he was too unaffected, and too natural to think of making a display; he gave ic as it came, and as it was.
As to the story of Mr. Boyse, I think that there also these accomplished critics have misconceived both the moral and the fact.... Did iheir good feelings never teach them, that true and genuine affection, because it shuns all exhibition, will be fain at times to hide itself under the show of bluntness ?
Indeed this censure is so forced, that it seems to have involved the learned commentators in some confusion of ideas, not very usual with them; for they say that all this might be very well between the two friends, but it was dreadfully too theatrical for a pri
date society. In our fastidious country,' they say, ' we really have no idea of a man talking pathetically in good company, and still less of good company sitting and crying to him. Nay, it is not very consistent,' they add, ' with our notions, that a gentleman should be most comical.' The expression of the author hardly warranted this observation. He was speaking of the variety of his father's conversation, which abounded in those magical transi. tions, from the most comic turn of thought to the deepest pathos; for ever bringing a tear into their eye before the smilewas off the lip.' From these and other passages, these gentlemen are led to suspect, that the Irish standard of good conversation is radically different from the English. For my own part, having spent half my life in Ireland, and the other half in various other countries, and having seen some good company both in England and Scotland, I am much at a loss to find upon what these observations are founded; I have generally found least said about good company, in good company; and those to please the most who dealt the least in precepts of book conversation. I am now an American, and equally distant, with the exception of a very little arm of the sea, from the one and the other island, and the way we unsophisticated Americans think upon these subjects is this; we find that God has given to man iwo distinct characters, by which, though all the rest were lost or effaced, he might be defined and distinguished from the brute creation—the smile and the tear.'Here then are two schools of conversation—too rival gymansia, one on each side of the channel of Saint George. The disciples of the one neither admit of laughter or of tears : or if they do, it must be serio-comic mirth, or pathos of that nature, that cannot excite a tear.
The other school, abandoning the whole transnatural regions, to their more refined and attic neighbours, assemble round the festive board, and as the wine flows, and the blood and spirits circulate, they make the course of their humanities. By laughter they prove, if not that they are gentlemen, at least that they are men. And if any unexpected touch of pathos brings the tear into their eye, their philosophy is that of nature, which traces the cause through the effect. They acknowledge a power beyond themselves, and find the literæ humaniores written in their hearts, by him who made the laws essential to their moral and material frame: and they acknowledge him who made the tear to flow, to be the same who inade the water issue from the rock.
The world must judge, then, which is the better school. If there be
any law it must be international. For my part, if this be the only, or radical difference between the rival standards, I do not wonder, that before the comeing of Lionel Duke of Clarence, the English in their language and apparrell, and all their manner of
liveing, had submitted themselves entirely to the Irish.' And the compliment is perhaps better than was intended to the Irish school.
As regards the danger of bad imitation, let these accomplished critics beware how their own kibes are galled, for though it be given to few to imitate the Scotch reviewers in their extensive knowledge, and great range of thought, or in the strength and clearness of their diction, yet every art and science has its jargon, and the cant of criticism about taste and good conversation is what the parrot may learn, and the cuckoo sing, to the great disturbance of whatever is genuine, natural, or manly.
What kind of person would John Philpot Curran have been, if he had formed bimself upon these straight-lined rules. Would Homer have been worshipped as a god, or would be not, if they prevailed, be kicked out of good company, as in that barbarous age when he first sung his bajlads through the streets of the Greek cities? Would not Shakspeare be the next victim of this rage? and Tully, whose jocularity was his right arm, whose pleasure was to show his wit among his friends, and who confesses that he loved his own jokes best, and that they were but quicquid in buccum venerit,' whose jests filled three whole volumes : how would he be censured for being so vastly comical ?'
There is perhaps one way to reconcile and draw advantage from their differences, by bringing about a friendly commerce.
Let the North Britons consign to their Hibernian neighbours what they have to spare of the mental philosophy, and their systems ideal and non-ideal, and of their semi-voluntary operations of the intellect, and the Irish in return supply them with their surplus heart and soul, and let this be hereafter called the channel trade.
But it is time to quit these trifles, and render justice to that dignity which belongs to these writers whenever they assume their proper attitude and station.
These things,' they say, speaking of Curran's wit, &c. are of • little consequence. Mr. Curran was something better,' &c. p. [239.]
Such manly language would atone, if atonement were due, for all the censures upon the wit, the style, or the manner of Curran; and Ireland owes to these authors this acknowledgment besides, that when the minions of despotism, so long combined against her, perverted her cause, and sided with her tyrants, they still respected the country of • feeling hearts and eloquent tongues. And though they should not be converted to the Irish standard of wit or conversation, I trust that upon more acquaintance they will find reason to admit, and to assert, that virtues of a higher kind than either taste or genius lie buried in the graves of Irish traitors.
But on this subject I shall trust myself no further, I have already detained the reader too long from better matter; I have spoken more of myself than perhaps I ought, and more of Ireland than I
had intended. Such fruitless recollections of her sufferings cannot change her destiny. If I can cherish any hope for her, it is in the steady march of the free and prosperous republic of which I am now a citizen. If integrity and union shall continue to direct her councils ; if native health and vigour still prove a match for the attacks which corrupt intrigue and foreign influence will never fail to make upon her freedom and renown; if honesty be cherished as it ought, and fraud discountenanced, and law administered with firm impartiality ; if religion, the chastener of the public morals, be still pure and holy, untainted by hypocrisy or guile ; if all these blessings shall continue to her ; if the mild wisdom of her Franklin, and the farewell voice, and warning accents of her Washington, be ever in the ears and hearts of all her citizens; then may the great example stronger than armed millions work to the end of UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION.'
LIST OF LATE PUBLICATIONS.
1. AGRICULTURE AND FARRIERY. Address of the Hon. William Walker, President of the Berksbire Agricultural Society, delivered before the same, together with reports of the Committees of Departments, and the Address of Elkanab Watson, Esq. first President of the Society. Pittsfield.
Practical Horse Farrier; or the Traveller's Pocket Companion, showing the best method to preserve the Horse in health, &c. 2d edition, with engravings, and enlarged. By William Carver of NewYork. Philadelphia.
Southwick's Agricultural Almanack, for 1821. Published under the patronage of the board of Agriculture. Albany.
The Address of Dr. Samuel L. Mitchill, delivered to the NewYork Agricultural Society, has been republished in the Albany Plough Boy, of Dec. 16th, and 23d. 1820.
A Small Tract, entitled a candid and impartial exposition of the various opinions on the subject of the comparative quality of Wheat and Flour, in the Northern and Southern sections of the United States, with a view to develope the true cause of the difference, &c. In a letter from John C. Brush, of Washington, D. C. to Samuel L. Mitchill, LL. D. Washington.
This well written Practical Tract supports by facts, observations, and reasonings, that the inferiority of Northern Flour is wholly owing to the too late cutting of the Wheat-or, in the usual phrase, to the letting it stand until it be dead ripe.