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licntion. I rushed to my writing-desk, tore my neat manuscript from its concealment, and with the unpitying resolution of a Brutus or a Manlius, consigned my undeserving offspring to the flames. I watched the devouring element. In a few moments all was reduced to ashes. I swore over the mouldering remains "that I would henceforth be rhyme-proof till my last breath;" and as no muse or nymph appeared to crush my " infant-aith," I have persevered in my resolution. 1 then sat down to ruminate upon my engagement with Martha Anne—her
rtetical name had expired, Fiordelisa was no more. Engaged to hex was by a thousand tender vows, and her heart, I felt well assured, was firmly, irrevocably mine. I had promised that as soon as I came of age I would endeavour to procure my father's consent to our union; and how often had I talked of the "leaden pinions" upon which the intervening months would move! Now, however, I began to discover that a pretty simpleton could not long retain my affections; I remembered that
"L'anima perche sola e riamante,
I became suddenly alive to all the discomforts of an ill-assorted union.
It may be remembered that Mr. Edgeworth in his Memoirs tells us that he attached himself inconsiderately, and like me discovered his delusion; that he opened his mind to his affianced, offered her his hand if she chose to accept it, married her, and made her a bad husband. The honour of such a proceeding is universally allowed; nothing can be more honourable than to make a woman miserable for ever as your wife, instead of miserable for a few months by your inconstancy. To consign a woman to neglect and tears rather than be pointed at as an inconstant, may be honourable, but it is not humane; it is saying, I will be kind only to be cruel, I will purchase the approbation of the world by the sacrifice of my own happiness and that of my unfortunate wife.
I mused for half an hour on the awkwardness of my situation, and then, claiming the "high privilege of youthful time," put aside every uncomfortable reflection, hurried into the drawing-room to talk and flirt, and play chess, and sing duets with Mrs. G., and determined to leave my fate to fortune. She proved a kinder mistress than I either expected or deserved. In my next letter to Martha Anne, I called her by her real name, and announced my resolution not to publish my poems. When I returned to Oxford, she had just eloped with a youth of eighteen; and I am ashamed to say that my pride was much hurt by her dereliction. A fortnight or three weeks elapsed before I was properly grateful for my escape.
I now took to study, and resolved never to be in love in term-time. To make up, however, for so severe a deprivation, I generally lost my heart four times every long vacation, and twice every shorter one. My father heard of my approaching marriage in every direction, but was comforted when he found that no two people assigned me to the same bride. I proved the truth of Addison's assertion, that "there is no end of affection taken in at the eyes only," and, unwarned by former escapes, continued to dress every pretty woman I met, in a thousand imaginary perfections. I was only saved by fortunate chances, from offering my hand to three simpletons, and as many viragoes; and as I was heir to a handsome property, I should most likely have been accepted: once I was rescued by a regiment entering the town where the lovely Eliza lived, who speedily transferred her smiles to a diminutive red-haired coxcomb clothed in scarlet and gold. To this feminine weakness I am, however, greatly obliged, as it thus saved me from one imprudent engagement. The fair little Fanny, so delicate in feature and attire, was kind enough to eat a partridge which nearly sent me from table, and at every mouthful I found the pain in my left side diminish. Thick ancles cured me twice, ebony-tipped nails once; sometimes some fortunate interruption (duly cursed at the time) prevented my crossing the fatal Rubicon; and as I now recall the character, temper, and acquirements of these short-lived empresses of my affections, and then cast my eyes upon her who sits beside me, while all her excellencies of heart and head rush to my remembrance, I feel tempted to ask my heart how I have deserved so valuable a prize. Happily for the peace of my various charmers, my character as a flirt was so well known, that devotions and gallantries, which from another man would have almost warranted the purchase of wedding-clothes, from me spoke the language of common-place admiration and politeness.
One of my escapes from matrimony was almost miraculous. I was seated next the charming Matilda in one of the stage-boxes at Coventgarden Theatre. She turned to look at the performance, and I to look at her profile. She was most becomingly dressed. The purity of her skin, which braved the closest inspection, the classical correctness of her features, the rich, easy wave of her shining tresses, the deepened tints on her cheek, the gaze of admiration from the pit, the uplifted glasses in the opposite boxes, altogether operated powerfully on my passion and my pride: I longed to call so lovely a creature my own; and without a moment's reflection 1 uttered the feelings of my heart, and poured into her ear the open and full confession of eternal attachment. A merciful chance prevented her hearing me; a castle was just blowing up on the stage: when quiet was restored, she turned to ask if I had spoken; I made some remark on the performance, and deferred my declaration to a more convenient season. The next morning I met her at a panorama of Gibraltar. She asked aloud at what distance was the opposite coast of Asia; I blushed deeply for her then, and firmly resolved never to blush for her as my wife.
At this time I was studying the law at Lincoln's-Inn, and I found a London atmosphere much less favourable to love than the breezes of the country. Society and circumstances also are all unfriendly to the growth of town attachments. How much more natural and favourable to love are scenes of rural beauty; the winding lane with thick and tangled hedgerows; the friendly skreen of grove and coppice; the delicious quiet of a summer evening; the country ramble, when lagging love drops behind the other walkers—bright skies, soft gales, sweet flowers, pleasant sounds; do they not insinuate love into the breasts of the cold, cherish liking into affection, and raise affection to enthusiasm?
Either from the anti-amatory effects of London smoke, from my own advanced years and increased experience (for I was now turned of three and twenty) or from the occupation of my mind and time by my legal pursuits, I became by degrees less precipitate In my attachments, and more fastidious with regard to female beauty. Six months passed away without my penning in my brain one intended love-letter, or squeezing one beauty's hand so fiercely as to give her pain, or sighing so loudly as to make her start, or pressing to my lips in the solitude of my own room one faded flower which had fallen from a lady's bosom. I began to think all danger was over for life, but, alas! I had speedily occasion to exclaim,
"Intermissa, Venus, diu
Uursus bella moves r Parce precor, prccor." E.
Thy glance hath little of mortality,
Smile on, sweet child 1 while innocence is thine.
The fate of O'Neil, O'Rourke, and of O'Connor, who, to his own eternal disgrace,* had been lured over to the English court, was not calculated to encourage others, or to bring absenteeship into fashion. Even those, who from long sufferings, harassed spirits, and subdued energies, were desirous of peace and forgiveness at the expense of independence, were still afraid, from experienced treachery, "to come in," as the phrase was; and were unwilling to absent themselves from the fearful security of their woods and mountains, to which they were romantically attached.
Lord Deputy Mountjoy, in a curious letter to the English council, observes that " all the Irish that are now obstinate, are so only out of their diffidence to be safe in forgiveness. They have the ancient swelling of liberty of their countrymen to work on, and they fear to be rooted out, and have their old faults punished upon particular discontents."
The plunder of Shane O'Neil, who, attainted, and driven beyond the pale of law and of humanity, died a miserable death, did not satisfy those who had benefited by his ruin. There was something too terrible to be endured in the name of these fierce toparchs of the North, who were still crowned in their stone chair, "with heaven for their canopy and earth for their footstool;" and when the young and gallant Hugh O'Neil, the last of his race, worthy of their illustrious descent, started up to claim his inheritance, his death or his absenteeship (a political decease) were the alternatives proposed to themselves by those who had so largely profited by the confiscation of the immense property of his family. "In an Irish parliament," says Morrison, " O'Neil put up his petition, that by virtue of the letters patent granted to his grandfather, his father, and their heirs, he might there (in parliament) have the place of Earl of Tyrone, and be admitted to his inheritance, the title and place there granted him." The inheritance, however, was "reserved for the Queen's pleasure;" for the obtaining whereof, Sir John Perrot, Lord Deputy, upon O'Neil's promise of a great rent to be reserved to the crown, gave him letters of recommendation into England, where he well knew how to humour the court; as in the year 1587 he got the queen's letters patent for the earldom of Tyrone without any reservation of the rent he had promised."
Whatever was O'Neil's secret for "humouring the court," great efforts were made to fix him there as a permanent absentee; and the queen (who at the same time had the young and unfortunate Earl of Desmond shut up in the Towert) gave O'Neil a troop of horse, a pen
• O'Connor Sligo resided some time in the court of Elizabeth, where ho was flattered up to his bent, though not into permanent absenteeship. He returned to Ireland in 1596, after obtaining a grant to secure him in the possession of his own property; in gratitude for which "he was extremely active in her (the Queen's! favour, and gained back, partly by menace and partly by cunning, many of the revolted clans." The celebrated O'Donncl of Tirconnel, hearing of O'Connor's desertion from the common cause, marched with an army to bring him to obedience: and, in spite of the assistance of Sir Conycrs Clifford and Lord Mayo, he ravaged and destroyed O'Connor's country.
t This youth was the only son of the Earl of Desmond, already mentioned. He had been detained a prisoner in the Tower from his infancy as a pledge for his sion of a thousand marks, and such proofs of her personal favour, as might have subdued a less energetic mind, and abated a less deep-seated feeling of patriotism and independence. But the young Irish Hercules soon became weary of the court of his middle-aged Omphale. He sought " to do her Majesty service" in Ireland by his influence over his countrymen, rather than to submit to the bondage which he foresaw awaited his protracted residence in England. "He lived," says Morrison, "sometimes in Ireland and much at the court of England:" yet by degrees he abandoned the English court altogether; and, resuming his natural position in Ireland as Earl of Tyrone, he contrived to preserve the good opinion of his countrymen even while acting for the queen, "with all the alacrity of a faithful subject."
The reappearance of O'Neil in Ireland, his loyalty, and the queen's favour, threw the Irish government into utter consternation; and the Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam, upon the execution of M'Mahon (who was put to death for an offence committed before the law which declared it capital had been enacted) let fall some speeches against the Earl of Tyrone (says Morrison) notwithstanding his late services,* "which speeches, coming to the Earl's ears, were, as he afterwards said, the first causes which moved him to misdoubt his safety, and to stand upon his defence, now first combining with O'Donnel and other lords of the North, to defend their honour, estates, and liberties." The horrors which ensued during a civil war of ten years' duration, and which laid waste what Lord Verulam calls " the most miserable and desolate nation on the face of the earth," produced the most effectual species of absenteeship; for it sent out of the world, those that were not driven by any other means out of the country; exterminating more than a third of the native population!
The queen, however, says Bacon, "sought not an extirpation, but a reduction;" but such was the reduction, that at the end of the war, when Lord Mountjoy received the submission of a few " well-disposed chiefs," he disposed of the others in a very summary way, "and by fire, famine, or sword, weakened or ruined most of those who still continued obstinate." Still, however, the master-blow of this deputy (who was after all one of the best Irish viceroys who served under the Tudors) was the ruin of the once magnanimous and invincible O'Neil. Having "taken the most of his fortresses, and what perhaps was more mortifying to him, having broken in pieces the chair of stone, wherein for many cen
father's loyalty. He was afterwards sent to Ireland as a state engine to play off against another Geraldine who had made claims to the forfeited Palatinate; but after he had fretted bis hour on the bloody stage of his own country, he was brought back to England, and lingering at court for a few months in hopeless despondency, be died in the prime of bis youth, of a broken heart.—See Pacata Hibtrnia.
* Upon two occasions the Earl saved a large party of English from destruction. Macquire, chief of Fermanagh, had given the Lord Deputy three hundred cows to free bis country from a sheriff; "after which bargain, the sheriff, one Willis, was let loose upon Fermanagh, leading about some hundreds of women and boys, with a guard of one hundred men, all living upon the spoils of the country." Macquire, having driven this model of a modern Irish police into a church, was about to put them to the sword, when the Earl of Tyrone interposed his authority. This same Willis was again rescued by Tyrone from an insurrection occasioned by similar circumstances in the O'Donncls' country.—See Memorial to Queen Elhaletk.