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It is scarcely necessary to mention any of the earlier particulars of this wretched story. It was at the Revolution, that era of glory and freedom to England, that the humiliation of Ireland was consummated-her political independence openly invaded-her trade intentionally depressed-and four-fifths of her population disfranchised, and excluded from all public, and almost all private rights. • The law,' it was publicly stated from the Bench, • did not presume a Papist to exist in the kingdom ; nor could • they breathe but by the sufferance of the Government. The House of Commons, of course, was a mere Committee of the leaders of the Orange faction; and, as if to make the mockery of representation more ridiculous, it was never dissolved; and the members held their seats for their own lives, or for that of the monarch. This enormity was not corrected till 1767, when the octennial bill, limiting the endurance of Parliament to eight years, was introduced by the English minister, to the great indignation of the Perpetual Senate. But the effect of this was only to transfer the task of oppression from a domestic faction to the more pliant dependants of the English Cabinet, who continued to domineer over Ireland as a conquered country, and without disguise to sacrifice her interests to their own. The American war however, at last brought on a crisis of suffering which in part operated its own cure. By that event, the linen trade with the colonies, which was the great staple of Irish industry, was at once annihilated; and the exportation of her provisions, the only other branch of her commerce, was relentlessly interdicted by the English government, lest supplies should in this way be obtained by the revolted colonies. Thus beggared and plundered, Ireland was next denied the common benefit of protection ; and while the fleets of the enemy were cruizing round her shores, almost the whole of her army was transported to the Western hemisphere, and her ports and cities left defenceless, to the mercy of the expected invaders. When, in this extremity, the city of Belfast, and the great adjoining district, applied for some means of defence, the answer they received from the Government was, that they would endeavour to send them half a troop of dis. mounted horse, and half a company of invalids!' The citizens were driven, therefore, to arm for their own protection; and a corps of volunteers was speedily formed in every considerable place of the kingdom. The occupation was congenial to the martial character of the people; and held out, for the first time, a show of national power and independence to which they had long been strangers. The associations spread over all the country with incredible rapidity; and, before the end of the year 1981, they had grown to a great army, of not less than 80,000 men, The country, of course, was now entirely at their disposal; and they soon began to feel the power which they possessed, and resolved not to separate till the independence of Ireland had been secured. The feeble and infatuated ministry, whose counsels had by this time lost America, and sown the seeds of inextinguishable discontent at home, looked with helpless consternation at the giant spectre they had contributed to raise. They broke up, however, at last, in their own weakness and unpopularity ; and their successors handsomely conceded what it was no longer practicable to withhold-renounced the legislative pretensions of England, and recognised Ireland as a free nation, with a legislature independent and supreme.
This Revolution however, for such it clearly was, was more flattering to the national pride of Ireland, than beneficial to the body of her people. The Legislature, though independent, was yet far from having any community of interest or of feeling with the nation at large. Lavish creations, and it is said even purchases and bargains, had filled the House of Lords with the devoted adherenis of the English ministry. Out of the 300 members who composed the House of Commons, 220 sate for burghs, in almost all of which the Orange faction either domineered, or the influence of some great proprietor was despotical ; while by far the greater part of the remainder were devoted to the same interest. Then, whatever virtue or independence might have belonged to a body so constituted, was assailed by a larger and more profuse dispensation of offices and pensions than has been known, even since, in the sister kingdom. The enormity of the Irish pension list has at all times been a topic of reproach to the general Government; and Mr Curran himself stated openly, in the House of Commons, that he was ready to prove that upwards of 100 of his auditors held places or pensions from the Governinent. In such circumstances, it is not much to be wondered at, that one of the first questions agitated in the emancipated Parliament, should have been that of Parliamentary Reform-or that it should have been lost by a vast majority. Mr Curran first distinguished himself in that hopeless cause and there first came into contact with an antagonist, whose hostility, ñeither generous nor placable, pursued him through the remainder of their joint lives-the Attorney-General Fitzgibbon, afterwards Lord Clare.
• During Mr Curran's first years at the bar they had been on terms of polite and even familiar intercourse ; but the dissimilarity of their public characters, the high aristocratic arrogance of the one, and the popular tenets of the other, soon separated them; even their private tastes and habits would have forbidden a lasting friendsbip. Lord
Clare despised literature, in which Mr Curran 80 delighted. The one in private as in public disdained all the arts of winning; he was sullen or overbearing, and when he condescended to be jocular was generally offensive. The other was in all companies the reverse; playful, communicative, and conciliating. Mr Curran never, like his more haughty rival, regulated his urbanity by the rank of his companions ; or, if he did, it was by a diametrically opposite rule ; the more humble the person, the more cautiously did he abstain from inflicting pain. For all those lighter talents of wit and fancy which Mr Curran was incessantly and almost involuntarily displaying, Lord Clare had a real or an affected contempt, and would fain persuade himself that they were incompatible with those higher powers which he considered could alone raise the possessor to an equality with himself. Mr Curran was perhaps equally hasty in underrating the abilities of his antagonist. Detesting his arbitrary principles, and disgusted with his unpopular manners, he would see nothing in him but the petty despot, ascending to a bad eminence by obvious and unworthy methods, and therefore meriting his unqualified hatred and invective.' I. 196, 197.
In 1785, those conflicting principles broke out into personal hostility. Fitzgibbon colled Curran · a puny babbler;' and he retorted, by telling him that his argument was more like • the paltry quibble of a lawyer than the reasoning of a states• man, and his language more like that of an Attorney particu• lar, than an Attorney General ;' and then they went out, like true Irish debaters, and finished the dispute by firing a brace of pistols at each other-but left the field, unlike Irish combatants, with sentiments of unabated hostility.
In 1786, Mr C. made one of his best Parliamentary speeches on the Pension list; of the spirit and somewhat excessive liveliness of which, the following may be taken as a specimen.
• This polyglot of wealth, this museum of curiosities, the pension list, embraces every link in the human chain, every description of men, women, and children, from the exalted excellence of a Hawke or a Rodney, to the debased situation of a lady who humbleth her self that she may be exalted. But the lessons it inculcates form its greatest perfection. It teacheth that sloth and vice may eat that bread which virtue and honesty may starve for after they have earned it: it teaches the idle and dissolute to look
up for that support which they are too proud to stoop and earn: it directs the minds of men to an entire reliance upon the ruling power of the State, who feeds the ravens of the royal aviary that cry continually for food: it teaches them to imitate those saints on the pension list that are like the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet are arrayed like Solomon in his glory: in fine, it teaches a lesson, which indeed they might have learned from Epictetus, that it is sometimes good not to be over virtuous; it shows, that, in proportion as our distresses in
crease, the munificence of the Crown increases also ; in proportion as our clothes are rent, the Royal mantle is extended over us.
“ But notwithstanding the pension list, like charity, covers a mul, titude of sins, give me leave to consider it as coming home to the members of this house; give me leave to say, that the Crown, in extending its charity, its liberality, its profusion, is laying a foundation for the independence of Parliament ; for hereafter, instead of orators or patriots accounting for their conduct to such mean and unworthy persons as freeholders, they will learn to despise them, and look only to the first man in the state; and they will by so doing have this security for their independence, that while any man in the kingdom has a shilling they will not want one.' I. 204-206.
In 1787, he paid a short visit to France, from which there are two or three letters of no great interest—the most remarkable thing in them being, that they take no notice of the political ferment that had by that time begun to show itself in that country. Soon after his return, he received a visit from a worthy clergyman of the name of Boyse, to whose kindness he had been indebted in his early youth-the opening of which strikes us as extremely characteristic of the peculiarities of Irish manners.
Upon the morning of Mr Boyse's arrival in Dublin, as he was on his way to Ely Place, he was met by his friend, who was proceeding in great haste to the courts, and had only time to welcome him, and bid him defer his visit till the hour of dinner. Mr Curran invited a number of the eminent men at the bar to meet Mr Boyse; and on returning home at a late hour from court, with some of his guests, found the clergyman, still in his travelling dress, seated in a familiar posture at the fire, with a foot resting upon each side of the grate. Jack,” said he, turning round his head, but never altering his position, “ here have I been for this hour past, admiring all the fine things that I see around me, and wondering where you could have got them all.”—“ You would not dare," returned Mr Curran, deeply affected by the recollections which the observation called up, " to assume such an attitude, or use so little ceremony, if you were not conscious that every thing you see is your own. Yes, my first and best of friends, it is to you that I am indebted for it all. The little boy whose mind you formed, and whose hopes you animated, profiting by your instructions, has risen to eminence and affluence: but the work is yours ; what you see is but the paltry stucco upon the building, of which you laid the foundation.” 1. 232, 233.
Now, all this might have done very well in a tête-à-tête between the two friends; but when we consider it as their debut, before various learned Serjeants and other Primates of the bar, assembled on the occasion, we think no Englishman can avoid feeling that the speech of the clergyman is rude and indelicate, and that of his friend dreadfully too thcatrical to be tolerated in private society
The stormy debates of 1789, and the vote of the Irish Parliament, offering the regency of their kingdom to the Prince of Wales, unfettered by any limitations, are sufficiently known. The motives which led so great a majority of that dutiful and submissive legislature to take part on this occasion against that ministry to which they had hitherto been so laudably devoted, are rather hinted at than spoken out by the author before us. In so far as we can gather his opinion, however, from the vague and cautious expressions he has employed, we take it to be, that their great object being personal gain and advancement, they concluded, that upon this occasion it would probably be better served by securing the favour of the new sovereign, than by adhering to a party with whom he was likely to be dissatisfied; and accordingly, with a few honourable exceptions, including the Duke of Leinster and the Ponsonbys, they returned to their allegiance, as soon as the King's recovery destroyed their golden hopes,--and testified, by their zealous and devoted compliances, the sincerity of their penitence for this occasional error. On a motion for a vote of thanks to the Lord Lieutenant, for his early communication of his Majesty's illness, Mr Curran, who contended that it had been unduly delayed, observed, among other things
For my part, I am but little averse to accede to the sentiment of an honourable friend who observed, that he was soon to leave us, and that it was harsh to refuse him even a smaller civility than every predecessor for a century had got. As for me, I do not oppose his being borne away from us in the common hearse of his political ancestors; I do not wish to pluck a single faded plume from the canopy, nor a single rag of velvet that might Autter on the pall. Let us excuse his manners if he could not help them ; let us pass by a little peculation, since, as an honourable member says, it was for his brother; and let us rejoice that his kindred were not more nu
But I cannot agree with my learned friend who defends the conduct of the noble lord on the present occasion. He has abused his trust by proroguing the two Houses, and has disposed of every office that became vacant in the interval, besides reviving others that had been dormant for years. Yet the honourable member says he acted the part of a faithful steward. I know not what the honourable member's idea of a faithful steward is ; I will tell him mine. A good steward, if his master was visited by infirmity or by death, would secure every article of his effects for his heir ; he would enter into no conspiracy with his tenants; he would remember his benefactor, and not forget his interest. I will also tell him my idea of a faithless, unprincipled steward. He would avall himself of the moment of family distraction : while the filial piety of the son was attending the sickbed of the father, or mourning over his grave, the faithless steward