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place. There can be no worse picture made of the They place a merit in extravagant passions; and Doctor's morals than he has given us himself in the encourage young people to hope for impossible letters printed by Pope. We see him vain, trifling, events, io draw them out of the misery they choose ungrateful to the memory of his patron, making a to plunge themselves into; expecting legacies from servile court where he had any interested views, unknown relations, and generous benetactors to and meanly abusive when they were disappointed ; distressed virtue, -as much out of nature as fairy and, as he says (in his own phrase), flying in the face treasures."-Vol. iv. pp. 259, 260. of mankind, in company with his adorer Pope. It is pleasant to consider, ihat had it not been for the
The idea of the following image, we begood nature of these very mortals they contemn, lieve, is not quite new; but it is expressed in these two superior beings were entitled, by their a very lively and striking manner. birih and hereditary fortune, to be only a couple of link-boys. I am of opinion, however, that their
“ The world is past its infancy, and will no longer friendship would have continued, though they had be contented with spoon-meat." A collective body remained in the same kingdom. It had a very
of men make a gradual progress in understanding, strong foundation—the love of faitery on one side, like a single individual. When I reflect on the vasi and the love of money on the other. "Pope courted increase of useful as well as speculative knowledge, with the utmost assiduity all the old men from the last three hundred years has produced, and that whom he could hope a legacy, the Duke of Buck. :he peasants of this age have more conveniences ingham, Lord Peterborough, Sir G. Kneller,
Lord than the first emperors of Rome had any notion of, Bolingbroke, Mr. Wycherly, Mr. Congreve, Lord I imagine we may now be arrived at that period Harcourt, &c., and I do not doubt projected to
which answers to fifteen, I cannot think we are sweep the Dean's whole inheritance. 'il he could older; when I recollect the many palpable folies have persuaded him to throw up his deanery, and which are still (almost) universally persisted in come to die in his house; and his general preacli-Among these I place that of War-as senseless as ing against money was meant to induce people to the boxing of school-boys; and whenever we come throw it away, that he might pick it up."
to man's estate (perhaps a thousand years hence), I Vol. iv. pp. 142–147.
do not doubt it will appear as ridiculous as ibe
pranks of unlucky lads. Several discoveries will Some of the following reflections will ap- ihen be made, and several truths made clear, of pear prophetic to some people ; and we really which we have now no more idea than the ancients did not expect to find them under the date of bad of the
circulation of the blood, or the opties of
Sir Isaac Newton."-Vol. v. pp. 15, 16. 1753.
After observing, that in a preceding letter, "The confounding of all ranks, and making a her Ladyship declares, that " it is eleven years jest of order, has long been growing in England; since she saw herself in a glass, being so little and I perceive, by the books you sent me, has made a very considerable progress.
The heroes and pleased with the figure she was then beginheroines of the age, are cobblers and kiichen. ning to make in it,' we shall close these es. wenches. Perhaps you will say I should not take tracts with the following more favourable acmy ideas of the manners of the times from such count of her philosophy. trilling authors; but it is more truly to be found among them, than from any historian: as they write “I no more expect to arrive at the age of the merely to get money, they always fall into the no. Duchess of Marlborough, than to that of Methusations ihat are most acceptable to the present taste. lem; neither do I desire it. I have long thought It has long been the endeavour of our English myself useless to the world. I have seen one gene. writers, to represent people of quality as the vilest ration pass away, and it is gone ; for I think there and silliest part of the nation, being (generally) very are very few of those left that flourished in my low-born themselves. I am not surprised at their youth. You will perhaps call these melancholy propagating this doctrine ; but I am much mistaken reflections; but they are not so.
There is a quiet if this levelling principle does not, one day or other, after the abandoning of pursuits, something like the break out in fatal consequences to the public, as it rest that follows a laborious day. I tell you this has already done in many private families.”
for your comfort. It was formerly a terrifying view Vol. iv. pp. 223, 224.
to me, that I should one day be an old woman. I
now find that nature has provided pleasures for She is not quite so fortunate in her remarks every state. Those only are unhappy who will on Dr. Johnson, though the conclusion of the not be contented with what she gives, but strive to extract is very judicious.
break through her laws, by affecting a perpetuity
of youth,—which appears to me as little desirable “ The Rambler is ceriainly a strong misnomer: at present as the babies do 10 you, that were the he always plods in the beaten road of his predeces. delight of your infancy. I am at the end of my gors, following the Specialor (with the same pace a paper, which shoriens the sermon.” pack-horse would do a hunter) in the style ihat is
Vol. iv. pp. 314, 315. proper to lengthen a paper. These writers may, perhaps, be of service to the public, which is saying Lady Mary returned to England, and died
Upon the death of Mr. Wortley in 1761, of both sexes who never read any thing but such there in October 1762, in the 73d year of her productions; and cannot spare time, from doing age. From the large extracts which we have nothing, to go through a sixpenny pamphlet. Such been tempted to make from her correspordgentle readers may be improved by a moral hint, ence, our readers will easily be enabled to ation to generation, they never heard in their lives: judge of the character and genius of this exI should be glad to know the name of this laborious traordinary woman. A little spoiled by flatauthor. H. Fielding has given a true picture of tery, and not altogether “undebauched by himself and his first wife, in the characters of Mr. the world,” she seems to have possessed a and Mrs. Booth, some compliments to his own masculine solidity of understanding, great figure excepted ; and I am persuaded, several of liveliness of fancy, and such powers of obI wonder, however, that he does not perceive Tom servation and discrimination of character, as Jones and Mr. Booth to be both sorry scoundrels, to give her opinions great authority on all the All this sort of books have the same fault, which ordinary subjects of practical manners and I cannot easily pardon, being very mischievous. I conduct. After her marriage, she seems to
have abandoned all idea of laborious or regu- the polite and witty sort of poetry which Lady lar study, and to have been raised to the sta- Mary has attempted, is much more of an art tion of a literary character merely by her than prose-writing. We are trained to the vivacity and her love of amusement and anec- latter, by the conversation of good society; dote. The great charm of her letters is cer- but the former seems always to require a good tainly the extreme ease and facility with deal of patient labour and application. This which every thing is expressed, the brevity her Ladyship appears to have disdained ; and and rapidity of her representations, and the accordingly, her poetry, though abounding in elegant simplicity of her diction. While they lively conceptions, is already consigned to unite almost all the qualities of a good style, that oblivion in which mediocrity is destined, there is nothing of the professed author in by an irrevocable sentence, to slumber till them : nothing that seems to have been com- the end of the world. The Essays are exposed, or to have engaged the admiration of tremely insignificant, and have no other merit, the writer. She appears to be quite uncon- that we can discover, but that they are very scious either of merit or of exertion in what few and very short. she is doing; and never stops to bring out a Of Lady Mary's friendship and subsequent thought, or to turn an expression, with the rupture with Pope, we have not thought it cunning of a practised rhetorician. The let- necessary to say any thing ; both because we ters from Turkey will probably continue to be are of opinion that no new lights are thrown more universally read than any of those that upon it by this publication, and because we are now given for the first time to the public; have no desire to awaken forgotten scandals because ihe subject commands a wider and by so idle a controversy. Pope was undouble more permanent interest, than the personali- edly a flatterer, and was undoubtedly suffities and unconnected remarks with which the ciently irritable and vindictive; but whether rest of the correspondence is filled. At the his rancour was stimulated, upon this occasame time, the love of scandal and of private sion, by any thing but caprice or jealousy, history is so great, that these letters will be and whether he was the inventor or ihe echo highly relished, as long as the names they of the imputations to which he has given nocontain are remembered ;—and then they toriety, we do not pretend to determine. Lady will become curious and interesting, as ex. Mary's character was certainly deficient in hibiting a truer picture of the manners and that cautious delicacy which is the best guarfashions of the time, than is to be found in dian of female reputation; and there seems to most other publications.
have been in her conduct something of that The Fifth Volume contains also her Lady- intrepidity which naturally gives rise to misship's poems, and two or three trifling papers construction, by setting at defiance the maxims ihat are entitled her Essays. Poetry, at least of ordinary discretion.
(May, 1820.) The Life of the Right Honourable John Philpot Curran, late Master of the Rolls in Ireland.
By his Son, WILLIAM HENRY CURRAN, Barrister-at-law. 8vo. 2 vols. pp. 970. London: 1819.
This is really a very good book; and not existed under any other conditions. The disless instructive in its moral, and general scope, tracting periods of Irish story are still almost than curious and interesting in its details. It too recent to be fairly delineated—and no is a mixture of Biography and History—and Irishman, old enough to have taken a part in avoids the besetting sins of both species of the transactions of 1780 or 1798, could well composition-neither exalting the hero of the be trusted as their historian-while no one biography into an idol, nor deforming the his- but a native, and of the blood of some of the tory of a most agitated period with any spirit chief actors, could be sufficiently acquainted of violence or exaggeration. It is written, on with their motives and characters, to commuthe contrary, as it appears to us, with singular nicate that life and interest to the details impartiality and temper-and the style is not which shine out in so many passages of the less remarkable than the sentiments : For volumes before us. The incidental light which though it is generally elegant and spirited, it they throw upon the national character and is without any of those peculiarities which the state of society in Ireland, and the continual age,
the parentage, and the country of the au- illustrations they afford of their diversity from thor, would lead us to expect :-And we may our own, is perhaps of more value than the say, indeed, of the whole work, looking both particular facts from which it results; and to the matter and the manner, that it has no stamp upon the work the same peculiar atdefects from which it could be gathered that traction which we formerly ascribed to Mr. it was written either by a Young man-or an Hardy's life of Lord Charlemont. Irishman-or by the Son of the person whose To qualify this extraordinary praise, we history it professes to record—though it has must add, that the limits of the private and attractions which probably could not have the public story are not very well observed, nor the scale of the work very correctly regu- | plaud. We suspect, indeed, from various lated as to either; so that we have alternately passages in these volumes, that the Irish too much and too little of both:—that the standard of good conversation is radically difstyle is rather wordy and diffuse, and the ex- ferent from the English; and that a tone of tracts and citations too copious; so that, on the exhibition and effect is still tolerated in that whole, the book, like some others, would be country, which could not be long endured in improved by being reduced to little more than good society in this. A great proportion of half its present size—a circumstance which the colloquial anecdotes in this work, confirm makes it only the more necessary that we us in this belief—and nothing more than the stract of it, for the use of less patient readers. versation, as abounding in "those magical
Mr. Curran's parentage and early life are transitions from the most comic tums of now of no great consequence. He was born, thought to the deepest pathos, and for ever a careful and regular education. He was a was off the lip.” In this more frigid and fas little wild at college; but left it with the char- tidious country, we really have no idea of a sally popular among his associates, not less and still less of good company sitting and cry. for his amiable temper than his inexhaustible ing 10 him. Nay, it is not even very corso vivacity. He wrote baddish verses at this nant with our notions, that a gentleman should time, and exercised himself in theological dis- be "most comical.” courses: for his first destination was for the As to the taste and character of Mr. CurChurch; and he afterwards took to the Law, ran's oratory, we may have occasion to say a very much to his mother's disappointment and word or two hereafter.-At present, it is only mortification—who was never reconciled to necessary to remark, that besides the publec the change—and used, even in the meridian | exercitations now alluded to, he appears to of his fame, to lament what a nighty preacher | have gone through the most persevering and had been lost to the world, -and to exclaim, laborious processes of private study, with a that, but for his versatility, she might have view to its improvement—not only accustomdied the mother of a Bishop ! It was better ing himself to debate imaginary cases alone, as it was. Unquestionably he 'might have with the most anxious attention, but "reciting been a very great preacher; but we doubt perpetually before a mirror," to acquire a whether he would have been a good parish graceful gesticulation! and studiously imitapriest, or even an exemplary bishop. ting the tone and manner of the most cele
Irish lawyers are obliged to keep their brated speakers. The authors from whom he terms in London; and, for the poorer part of chiefly borrowed the matter of these solitary them, it seems to be but a dull and melan- declamations were Junius and Lord Bolins choly noviciate. Some of his early letters, broke—and the poet he most passionately with which we are here presented, give rather admired was Thomson. He also used to an amiable and interesting picture of young declaim occasionally from Milton-but, in his Curran's feelings in this situation-separated maturer age, came to think less highly of that at once from all his youthful friends and ad-great poet. One of his favourite exercises ation in the busy crowds of a colder and more body of Cæsar, as it is given by Shakespeare; venal people. During the three years he the frequent recitation of which he used to passed in the metropolis, he seems to have recommend to his young friends at the Bar, to entered into no society, and never to have the latest period of his life. come in contact with a single distinguished He was called to the Bar in 1775, in his individual. He saw Garrick on the stage, and twenty-fifth year-having rather imprudently Lord Mansfield on the bench; and this ex- married two years before-and very soon ai. hausts his list of illustrious men in London. tained to independence and distinction. There His only associates seem to have been a few is a very clever little disquisition introduced of his countrymen, as poor and forlorn as him- here by the author, on the very different, and self. Yet the life they lived seems to have almost opposite taste in eloquence which has been virtuous and honourable. They con- prevailed at the Bar of England and Ireland tracted no debts, and committed no excesses. respectively ;-the one being in general cold
Curran himself rose early, and read dili- and correct, unimpassioned and technical; the gently till dinner; and, in the evening, he other discursive, rhetorical, and embellished usually went, as much for improvement as or encumbered, with flights of fancy and aprelaxation, to a sixpenny debating club. For peals to the passions. These peculiarities the a long time, however, he was too nervous and author impuies chiefly to the difference in the timid to act any other part than that of an au- national character and general temperament ditor, and did not find even the germ of that of the two races, and to the unsubdued and singular talent which was afterwards improved unrectified prevalence of all that is characterto such a height, till it was struck out as it istic of their country in those classes out of were by an accidental collision in this obscure which the Juries of Ireland are usually se
There is a long account of this in the lected. He ascribes them also, in part, to the book before us, as it is said to have been re- circumstance of almost all the barristers of peatedly given by Mr. C. himself—but in a distinction having been introduced, very early style which we cannot conscientiously ap- l in life, to the fierce and tumultuary arena of the Irish House of Commons--the Government countries have consequently given way to that being naturally desirous of recruiting their universal love of long-speaking, which, we ranks with as many efficient combatants as verily believe, never can be repressed by any possible from persons residing in the metropo- thing but the absolute impossibility of indulgfis—and Opposition looking, of course, to the ing it :-while their prolixity has taken a difsame great seminary for the antagonists with ferent character, not so much from the temwhom these were to be confronted.
perament of the speakers, as from the difference We cannot say that either of these solutions of the audiences they have generally had to is to us very satisfactory. There was heat address. In Ireland, the greater part of their enough certainly, and to spare, in the Irish tediousness is bestowed on Juries—and their Parliament; but the barristers who came there vein consequently has been more popular. had generally kindled with their own fire, With us in Scotland the advocate has to speak before repairing to that fountain. They had chiefly to the Judges-and naturally endeavformed their manner, in short, and distin- ours, therefore, to make that impression by guished themselves by their ardour, before subtlety, or compass of reasoning, which he they were invited to display it in that assem- would 'in vain attempt, either by pathos, pobly; and it would be quite as plausible to etry, or jocularity.- Professional speakers, in refer the intemperate warmth of the Parlia- short, we are persuaded, will always speak mentary debates to the infusion of hot-headed as long as they can be listened 10.—The quallgladiators from the Bar, as to ascribe the gen- tity of their eloquence, therefore, will depend eral over-zeal of the profession to the fever on the time that can be afforded for its display some of them might have caught in the -and its quality, on the nature of the audience Senate. In England, we believe, this effect to which it is addressed. has never been observed—and in Ireland it But though we cannot admit that the causes has outlived its supposed causes-the Bar of assigned by this author are the main or funthat country being still (we understand) as rhe-damental causes of the peculiarity of Irish torical and impassioned as ever, though its leg- oratory, we are far from denying that there is islature has long ceased to have an existence. much in it of a national character, and indi
As to the effects of temperament and cating something extraordinary either in the national character, we confess we are still temper of the people, or in the state of society more sceptical—at least when considered as among them. There is, in particular, a much the main causes of the phenomenon in ques- greater Irascibility; with its usual concomition. Professional peculiarities, in short, we tants of coarseness and personality,—and a are persuaded, are to be referred much more much more Theatrical tone, or a taste for to the circumstances of the profession, than forced and exaggerated sentiments, than would to the national character of those who exer- be tolerated on this side of the Channel. Of cise it; and the more redundant eloquence of the former attribute, the continual, and, we the Irish bar, is better explained, probably, by must say, most indecent altercations that are the smaller quantity of business in their courts, recorded in these volumes between the Bench than by the greater vivacity of their fancy, or and the Bar, are certainly the most flagrant the warmth of their hearts. We in Scotland and offensive examples. In some cases the have also a forensic eloquence of our own- Judges were perhaps the aggressors—but the more speculative, discursive, and ambitious violence and indecorum is almost wholly on than that of England—but less poetical and the side of the Counsel; and the excess and passionate than that of Ireland; and the pe- intemperance of their replies generally goes culiarity might be plausibly ascribed, here far beyond any thing for which an apology also, to the imputed character of the nation, can be found in the provocation that had been as distinguished for logical acuteness and in- given. A very striking instance occurs in an trepid questioning of authority, rather than for early part of Mr. Curran's history, where he richness of imagination, or promptitude of is said to have observed, upon an opinion defeeling.
livered by Judge Robinson, “that he had We do not mean, however, altogether to never met with the law as laid down by his deny the existence or the operation of these Lordship in any book in his library;" and, causes—but we think the effect is produced upon his Lordship rejoining, somewhat scornchiefly by others of a more vulgar description. fully," that he suspected his library was very The small number of Courts and Judges in small," the offended barrister, in allusion to England-compared to its great wealth, popu- the known fact of the dge having recentlation, and business-has made brevity and ly published some anonymous pamphlets, despatch not only important but indispensable thought fit to reply, that "his library might qualifications in an advocate in great practice, be small, but he thanked Heaven that, among --since it would be physically impossible his books, there were none of the wretched either for him or for the Courts to get through productions of the frantic pamphleteers of the their business without them. All mere orna- day. I find it more instructive, my lord, to mental speaking, therefore, is not only severely study good works than to compose bad ones! discountenanced, but absolutely debarred'; My books may be few, but the title-pages and the most technical, direct, and authorita- give me the writers' names—my shelf is not tive views of the case alone can be listened to. disgraced by any of such rank absurdity that But judicial time, to use the language of Ben- their very authors are ashamed to own them.” tham is not of the same high value, either in (p. 122.) On another occasion, when he was [reland or in Scotland; and the pleaders of those proceeding in an argument with his charac
teristic impetuosity, the presiding Judge hav- | influence with the priest to obtain a remission ing called to the Sheriff to be ready to take His Lordship went accordingly, to the cat into custody any one who should disturb the of the aged pastor, who came bareheadeda decorum of the Court, the sensitive counsellor the door with his missal in his hand ; and :at once applying the notice to himself, is re- ter hearing the application, respectiully a ported to have broken out into the following swered, that the sentence having been impcsta incredible apostrophe—“Do, Mr. Sheriff,” re- by the Bishop, could only be relaxed by plied Mr. Curran, go and get ready my dun- same authority--and that he had no right geon! Prepare a bed of straw for me; and power to interfere with it. The noble med upon that bed I shall to-night repose with more ator, on this struck the old man! and drops tranquillity than I should enjoy were I sitting him with repeated blows from his presence upon that bench, with a consciousness that I The priest then brought his action of darages disgraced it!!:—Even his reply to Lord Clare, 1-but for a long time could find o adrocar when interrupted by him in an argument be- hardy enough to undertake his cause!-at fore the Privy Council, seems to us much more when young Curran at last made ofier of petulant than severe.' His Lordship, it seems, services, he was blamed and pitied by all as had admonished him that he was wandering prudent friends for his romantic and Quince from the question; and Mr. C. after some rashness. general observations, replied, “I am aware, These facts speak volumes as to the cute my lords, that truth is to be sought only by perversion of moral feeling that is producer slow and painful progress: I know also that by unjust laws, and the habits to which they error is in its nature flippant and compendious; give rise. No nation is so brave or so genero it hops with airy and fastidious levity over as the Irish, -and yet an Irish nobleman con proofs and arguments, and perches upon as- be guilty of the brutality of striking an ad sertion, which it calls conclusion.”—To Lord Ecclesiastic without derogating from his dis Clare, however, Mr. C. had every possible nity or honour.—No body of men could be temptation to be intractable and impertinent. more intrepid and gallant than the leaders ci But even to his best friends, when placed on the Irish bar; and yet it was thought t30 the seat of judgment, he could not always daring and presumptuous for any of thera : forbear a similar petulance. Lord Avonmore assist the sufferer in obtaining redress for a was always most kind and indulgent to him outrage like this. In England, those this but he too was sometimes in the habit, it are inconceivable: But the readers of Iris seems, of checking his wanderings, and some history are aware, that where the questio times of too impatiently anticipating his con- was between Peer and Peasant-and still more clusions. Upon one of these occasions, and when it was between Protestant and Catholic in the middle of a solemn argument, we are the barristers had cause for apprehension. called on to admire the following piece of It was but about forty years before, that upoo vulgar and farcical stupidity, as a specimen a Catholic bringing an action for the recovery of Mr. C's most judicious pleasantry:- of his confiscated estates, the Irish House of "Perhaps, my lord, I am straying; but you all barristers, solicitors, attorneys, and proctors
Commons publicly voted a resolution, - that must impute it to the extreme agitation of my mind who should be concerned for him, should te I have just witnessed so dreadful a circumstance, that my imagination has not yet recovered from the considered as public enemies !” This was is shock.'—His lordship was now all attention.- On 1735. In 1780, however, Mr. C. found the my way to court, my lord, as I passed by one of service not quite so dangerous; and by grea: the markets, I observed a butcher proceeding to
quence and exertion extorted a reluctan: slaughier a call. Just as his hand was raised, a lovely little child approached him unperceived, and, verdict, and thirty guineas of damages from terrible to relaie-1 still see the life-blood gushing a Protestant Jury. The sequel of the atiai. out-the poor child's bosom was under his hand, was not less characteristic. In the first place, when he plunged his knife into-inio' - Into the it involved the advocate in a duel with a w bosom of the child!' cried out the judge, with much ness whom he had rather outrageously abused emotion into the neck of the calf, my lord; but-and, in the next place, it was thought suthyour lordship sometimes anticipates !'
cient to justify a public notification to him, ca But this is not quite fair.—There is no more the part of the noble defendant, that his ausuch nonsense in the book-nor any other dacity should be punished by excluding him Iricism so discreditable to the taste either of from all professional employment wherever its hero or its author. There are plenty of his influence could extend. The insolence traits, however, that make one blush for the of such a communication might well have degradation, and shudder at the government warranted a warlike reply: But Mr. C. erof that magnificent country:—One of the most pressed his contempt in a gayer, and not less striking is supplied by an event in the early effectual manner. Pretending to misunderpart of Mr. C's professional history, and one stand the tenor of the message, he answered to which he is here said to have been indebted aloud, in the hearing of his friends, "My good for his first celebrity. A nobleman of great sir, you may tell his lordship, that it is in vain weight and influence in the country-we for him to be proposing terms of accommodagladly suppress his name, though it is given tion ; for after what has happened, I protest I in the book-had a mistress, whose brother think, while I live, I never can hold a brief being a Catholic, had, for some offence, been for him or one of his family." The threat, sentenced to ecclesiastical penance--and the indeed, proved as impotent as it was pitiful : young woman solicited her keeper to use his for the spirit and talent which the young