Imágenes de página

himself most felt in the House of Commons. He has the classic authority of Mr. Canning, for proposing as a subject the Duigenan redivivus of the House ; but I have my fears that he will select a nobler mark than Master Ellis. I therefore caution my Opposition friends, and especially Mr. Hume, to be on their guard.

Mr. North's exterior has nothing very striking; his frame is of the middle size and slender, his features small and pallid, and unmarked by any prominent expression, save those habitual signs of exhaustion, from which so few of the occupied members of his profession are exempt. If he were a stranger to me, I should pass him by without observation, but, knowing who he is, and feeling what he might be, I find his face to be far from a blank. Upon examination, it presents an aspect of still and steady thoughtfulncss, with that peculiar curve about the lips when he smiles (as he often does,) which imports a refined but too fastidious taste. When the countenance is in repose, I fancy that I can also catch there a trace of languor, such as succeeds a course of struggles where high and early hopes had been embarked, while a tinge of melancholy, so slight as to be dispersed by the feeblest gleam, but still returning and settling there, tells me that some and the most cherished of them have been disappointed. I confess that I respect Mr. North too much to regret those indications of a secret dissatisfaction with his condition; and more especially, because in him they are entirely free from the ordinary fretfiilness and acrimony of mortified ambition. He is too considerate and just to wage a splenetic warfare with the world because all the bright visions of his youth have not been realised; and he is still too young and too conscious of his capacity to be irretrievably depressed, when reminded by others or by himself, that hitherto fame has spoken of him only in whispers, and that much must be done both in intellect and action, before the glorious clang of her trumpet shall rejoice his ear.

These allusions to Mr. North's omissions as a public man, are offered in no unfriendly spirit. If I looked upon him as an ordinary person, I should say at once of him, that he has well fulfilled the task assigned him. He has won his way to a respectable station in a most precarious profession; enjoys considerable estimation for general talent, and is cordially honoured by all who know him, for the undeviating dignity and purity of his private life. But from those to whom much is given much is exacted. My quarrel with Mr. North is, that living under a system teeming with abuses, and loudly calling upon a man of his character and abilities to interpose their influence, he should have consented to keep aloof a neutral and acquiescent spectator. For fifteen long years, a liberal and enlightened Irishman, seeing with his own eyes what an English barber could not read of without contempt for the nation that endured, and not to have left a single document of his indignation!—not a speech, not a pamphlet, not an article in a periodical publication—not even, that forlorn hopeof a maltreated cause, a wellpenned protesting resolution! What availed it to his country that he was known to be a friend of toleration, if his co-operation was withheld upon every occasion where his presence would have inspired confidence, and his example have acted as a salutary incitement to others? What, that his theories upon the question of free discussion were understood to be manty and just, if, after having witnessed the irruption of an armed soldiery into a legal meeting, and being himself among the dispersed at the point of the bayonet, he had the morbid patience to be silent under the affront to the laws, paying such homage to the times as scarcely to

"Hint his abhorrence in a languid sneer."

His learning too, his literary and philosophic stores, things so much wanted in Ireland,—where has he left a vestige of their existence, so as to justify the most flattering of his friends in saying to him, "You have not lived in vain, and should you unfortunately be removed before your time, your country will miss you ?"—This is what I complain of and deplore; and these sentiments are strong in proportion to my estimate of his latent value, and my genuine concern for the interests of his fame; for in the midst of my reproaches, I see so much to admire and respect in him, he is of so meek a carriage, and has about him so much of the gentleman and the scholar, that I cannot divest myself of a certain feeling of almost individual regard. Nor, in putting the matter thus, am I aware that I make any unreasonable exactions. At particular seasons, his profession, no doubt, must demand his undivided care: but there are intervals which, with a mind full as Mr. North's is, might have been, and may still be, dedicated to honourable uses. There are not wanting contemporary precedents to show what the incidental labours of a lawyer may accomplish, in science, in letters, in public spirit. Let him look to Mr. Brougham, to the versatility of his pursuits, and the varieties of his fame—the Courts, the House of Commons, and the Edinburgh Review: to Denman, Williams, and many others of the English Bar, eminent or on the road to eminence in their profession, and patriotic and instructive in their leisure; or, (a more pregnant instance still) let him turn to the Scotch, those hardy and indefatigable workers for their own and their country^ renown. There is Jeffrey, Cockburn, Cranstoun, Murray, Montcrief, great advocates every man of them: the first the creator and responsible sustainer of the noblest critical publication of the age; the others ardent and important helpmates, and all of them finding it practicable, amidst their regular and collateral pursuits, to take an active lead in the popular assemblies of the North. These men, whom energy and ambition have made what they are, may be used in other respects as a great example. Under circumstances peculiarly adverse to all who disdained to stoop, they never struck to the opinions of the day, but, confiding in themselves, were as stern and uncompromising in their conduct as in their maxims—yet are they all prosperous and respected, and formidable to all by whom a high-spirited man would desire to be feared.

I see but one plausible, excuse for the course of political quietude to which Mr. North so perseveringly adhered, and in fairness I should not suppress it. It was his fate to have commenced his career under the Saurin dynasty. Things are something better now, but some twelve or fifteen years ago, woe betided the patriotic wight of the dominant creed who should venture to whisper to the public that all was not unquestionable wisdom and justice in the ways of that potent and inscrutable gentleman. The opposition of a Catholic was far less resented. The latter was a condemned spirit, shorn of all effective strength, and was suffered to flounder away impotent and unheeded in the penal abyss; but for a Protestant, and more than all, a Protestant barrister, to question the infinite perfection of the attorney-general's dispensations, was monstrous, blasphemous, and punishable—and punished the culprit was. All the loyal powers of the land sprung with instinctive co-operation to avenge the outrage upon their chief and themselves. The loyal gates of the Castle were slapt in his face. The loyal club to which he claimed admission, buried his pretensions under a shower of black-beans. The loyal attorney suspected his competency, and withheld his confidence. The loyal discounter declined to respect his name upon a bill. The loyal friend, as he passed him in the streets, exchanged the old, familiar, cordial greeting for a penal nod. In every quarter, in every way, it was practically impressed upon him, that Irish virtue must be its own reward. Even the women, those soothers of the cares of life, whose approbation an eminent French philosopher has classed among the most powerful incentives to heroical exertion,—even they, merging the charities of their sex in their higher duties to the state, volunteered their services as avenging angels. The tea-pot trembled in the hand of the loyal matron as she poured forth its contents, and along with it her superfme abhorrence of the low-lived incendiary; while the fair daughters of ascendency grouped around, admitted his delinquency with a responsive shudder, and vowed in their pretty souls to make his character, whenever it should come across them, feel the bitter consequences of his political aberrations. All this was formidable enough to common men. Mr. North was strong enough to have faced and vanquished it. Instead of fearing to provoke the persecuting spirit of the times, he might have securely welcomed it as the most unerring evidence of his importance.

Having said so much, I am bound to add that the foregoing observations have not the remotest reference to Mr. North's conduct at the Bar. There he is entitled to the highest praise, and I give it heartily, for his erect and honourable deportment in the public and (an equal test of an elevated spirit) in the private details of his profession. The most conspicuous occasion upon which he has yet appeared was on the trial of the political rioters at the Dublin theatre. It was altogether a singular scene—presenting a fantastic medley of combinations and contradictions, such as nothing but the shuffling of Irish events could bring together; a band of inveterate loyalists brought to the bar of justice for a public outrage upon the person of the king's representative; an attorney-general prosecuting on behalf of one part of the state, and the other exulting with all their souls at the prospect of his failure; a popular Irish bench; an acquitting Irish jury; and finally, the professional confidant of the Orange Lodges—the chosen defender of their acts and doctrines, Mr. North. It would be difficult to conceive a more perplexing office. He discharged it, hl1-vever, with great talent and (what I apprehend was less expected) consummate boldness. As a production of eloquence, his address to the jury contained no specimens of first-rate excellence, but many that were not far below it; while his general line of argument, and his manner of conducting it, gave signs of a spirit and power from which I would infer, that, should state-trials unfortunately become frequent in Ireland during his continuance at the Bar, he is destined to make no inconsiderable figure as a leading counsel for the defences. The Williamites were grateful for the effort, and greeted their successful advocate with enthusiastic cheer* on his exit from the court. This was, I believe, the only public homage of the kind that Mr. North had ever received; and, however welcome at the moment, could scarcely fail to be followed by a sentiment of sadness, when he reflected upon the untowardness of the fate which doomed his name to be for the first time exalted to the skies on the yell of a malignant faction that he must have detested and despised. The preceding views of Mr. North's intellectual characteristics were formed, and in substance committed to paper, before his recent appearance in the House of Commons. Since that event I have seen nothing calling on me to retract or qualify my first impressions. If the effect which he produced then was not all that had been expected, I attribute it far less to any deficiency of general power, than to that want of energy and directness of purpose, which is the besetting infirmity of his mind. Let him but emancipate himself (and he has shewn that he can do so) from the petty drags that have heretofore impeded his course, and he may yet become distinguished to his heart's content, and, what is better, eminently useful to his country. He has the means, and nothing can be more propitious than the period. Irish questions press upon the parliament; upon the most vital of them (the Catholic) he thinks with the just, and will not fail to make a stand. Upon the others he can be, what is most wanting in that house, a fearless witness. Wherever he interposes, the purity of his personal character — his position with the Government—even the neutrality of his former course, will give him weight and credit. Nor (as far as his ambition is concerned) will services thus rendered be unrewarded. So prostrate is the pride of Ireland that she no longer exacts from her public men a haughty vindication of her rights. In these times a temperate mediator is hailed as a patriot. This Mr. North can be; but to be so with effect he must distinguish better than he has yet done between false complaisance and a manly moderation. He must give way to no mistaken feelings of political charity towards a generation of sinners, whom flattery will never bring to repentance. If he praise the country-gentlemen of Ireland again, until they do something to deserve it, I shall be seriously alarmed for his renown.


From the French of Montrf.uil. Born 1620, died 1682.

Three years of humble service paid
To Julia, that most prudish maid,

She gives her finger's tip to kiss:
If to her swain she thus bestow
Each recompense so very slow,

E'en Nestor might despair of bliss.

Then, Julia, think; for though 1 be
The very pink of constancy,

I cannot for your favours stay:
Proceeding from jour finger's tip,
'Twould be a very venial slip

Should Love kiss hands, and fly away.


"And here I stand both to impeach and purge."

Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 3.

Whoever has read the ingenious lucubrations of Dr. Gustaldy,* roust be aware that when a " vrai Amphitryon" has provided himself with an "artiste," (i. e. a French cook,) and a large fortune to expend on his table, he will still be a hundred miles off from a good dinner, unless he engages with mounseer to take an occasional dose of physic, just to keep his organs of taste in proper tone, which from the heat of the kitchen, and a constant ingurgitation of degustatun/ morsels, are apt to get half a note above or below concert pitch, to the utter destruction of all harmony in the "entres" and soups. A true connoisseur, therefore, in noting his "menu" with a pencil, as he eats his way through the three courses, if he finds many "too sours," " too sweets," "too much peppers," "insipids," "fades," or the like, always concludes with a gentle admonition, and a reference to the "peptic persuaders" of Dr. Kitchiner, the rhubarb and magnesia, or the five grains of calomel, as the case may require. In this practice there is involved much recondite philosophy; and it affords another instance in which the animal instincts of the species do more for civilization, than all the speculative theories imaginable. The idleness of a playful boy produced that improvement in the steam engine which renders it a self-acting machine, and the flying a child's kite led to the invention of lightning conductors. So likewise may this casual experiment made in the chylopoietic functions of a Frenchman by an ultra gastronome, be considered as containing the germ of an entirely new science; which in process of time may effect a total revolution in morals and in political philosophy. In the laboratory of nature, great effects are perpetually flowing from little causes; and there is no fact so trifling, that its discovery may not give birth to vast changes in human affairs. When the attraction developed in a stick of sealing-wax by friction was first noticed, who would have imagined that the discovery involved all which is at once brilliant and solid in the present advanced state of chemical science? To those, therefore, who have made nature their study, the hardiness of my proposition will create neither surprise nor distrust. They will at once perceive that the sympathetic connexion existing between the viscera and the organs of sense, which prevents the "chefde cuisine" from doing his duty when his stomach is out of order, is not an insulated fact; but belongs to an extended series of phenomena, important alike to the physiologist and the moralist.

The intimate connexion between moral disposition and physical temperament has been known from the earliest times; and there is not a child who does not couple red hair with a passionate and angry character. Every body too is more or less aware of the influence of particular states of the constitution, over the feelings and actions of the individual. No one, for instance, who has the least "gumption," would think of asking a favour from a hungry man at the instant when the servant has announced the dinner not to be ready. I need not mention to my literary brethren, or to any one who has scraped the slightest acquaintance with the " sacra; camcenae" that when the stomach is

* Almanac des Gourmands.

« AnteriorContinuar »