Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

chises trampled upon, they have undergone every species of persecution which theological and official tyranny could invent, but never have they swerved from the religion of their fathers, never have they succumbed to their foes ; they may, as Tacitus expresses it, have been triumphed over, but they have not been conquered, and, at this moment, they are the most disorganized, and most discontented community of civilized beings on the face of the earth.

This may be said to be the language of rebellion. We care not by what name it is designated, if it be, as we believe it to be, the language of truth. We do not hesitate to use it, because we desire it to be known that we are the open foes of that church, which has brought every kind and degree of misery that man can experience, upon a country which ought to be, and might without difficulty be made, a nation the most tranquil, the most industrious, the most happy, that a good king could wish to govern, or a good man to inhabit. Let the people have to support but their own worship, let their native energies be released from the ecclesiastical thraldom in which they are now iron-bound, let them apply to manufactures and trade the capital which is now swallowed up in the abyss of a false religion, and instead of soliciting succour from us to stay the progress of famine and disease, they will have an abundance of their own to bestow upon the wants of others, and will earn for their island the title of a second England.

We are not amongst those who desire for Ireland a separate and independent legislature; the existence of such a power in her metropolis would soon put an end to all co-operation between the two countries; would, in our opinion, be beneficial to neither, but, on the contrary, injurious to both, and more injurious to Ireland than to Great Britain. Such a legislature, at best, would be but a provincial one, and the country would preserve, as long as such legislature continued, a merely provincial character, whereas she ought to be upon a perfect equality with the other members of the confederacy, Scotland and England,—an equality which she never could enjoy without being directly represented in the Imperial Parliament. It is obvious, however, if we consider the quantity of business constantly accumulating in that parliament, that there are many things now necessarily done with its sanction, which might be much better done without it. All that class of transactions which is comprised in private and local bills, the providing for the education of the lower orders, the draining and reclaiming of waste lands and bogs, the regulation of rail-ways and canals, the construction of new roads and the repair of the old, the erection of public buildings, and many of those arrangements which support the interests of commerce and agriculture, and, above all, the enactment and administration of a code of rational poor laws, might be most advantageously committed to a local assembly in Ireland, whose functions should be strictly limited within the range of all questions not of a general or, as we might say, of an imperial character. An

vol. U1. (1831.) NO, I.

E

assembly of this description, consisting of a certain number of deputies from each county, and regulated upon the principle of a grand jury, for receiving and answering the presentments of every part of that country, and sitting for a month three or four times a year, would not only not interfere with the higher duties of the United Parliament, but materially facilitate them, as well as those of the local executive government.

We have been led into these observations by some of the topics which are touched upon in the work now before us, but still more by reflecting upon the long course of unhappiness through which it has been the doom of Ireland to run, in consequence of the wretched policy that, since the reformation, has led England to press, and to press in vain, upon the sister nation, her own newfangled and often-varied, and still not settled notions of religion, Of the many high-minded and chivalrous victims whom that illstarred policy has sacrificed upon the altar of the law, few are more worthy of being commemorated than Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Though a member of the dominant church, he clearly saw the evils which it brought upon Ireland, and he generously resolved to expose himself to every

risk in order to eradicate them. His efforts were unfortunate, and he was therefore branded as a traitor: but, under the circumstances, that designation carries with it no shame, for it was but accident which prevented it from being anticipated by the title of the deliverer of his country. Washington and Bolivar, the men of the barricades in Paris and in Brussels, were all rebels, as the Poles are also still styled by their assumed master ; but the fortune of battle gave to the former, as we trust it may give to the latter, the glorious appellation of the liberators of their native land, and has decreed the character of real traitors to their enemies.

It is delightful to cast a passing glance at the early life of the subject of these pages, abounding as it does in all the amiable charities of private life. He was the fifth son of the first Duke of Leinster, by Emilia Mary, daughter of Charles, Duke of Richmond, and was born on the 15th of October, 1763. At a very early period he evinced a decided tendency towards the military profession, and at the same time towards the principles of civil and religious liberty. Before he was quite twenty years old he obtained a lieutenancy in the 96th regiment of foot, from which he shortly afterwards exchanged into the 19th ; with this regiment he proceeded to America, where he behaved so well upon the first occasion that offered itself, that he was promoted to the situation of aid-de-camp on the staff of Lord Rawdon, who then commanded a corps at Charlestown. In the course of this unhappy war, then so near its termination, Lord Edward frequently distinguished himself. Speaking of him at this period, Major, now General Sir John Doyle, has left it

upon record that he “never knew so loveable a person : his frank and open manner, his universal benevolence, his gaieté de cæur, his

valour almost chivalrous, and, above all, his unassuming tone, made him the idol of all who served with him.” Upon his return to Ireland, in 1783, he became, through the influence of his elder brother, a member of the Irish Parliament; but such was his attachment to his profession, that he came over to England, and entered himself at Woolwich at the beginning of 1786, in order to improve himself by a regular course of practical study. His mother, who had some years before become a widow, and without any very long tenure of that character, the wife of Mr. Ogilvie, a gentleman of ancient family in Scotland, was at this time resident in Ireland, and his letters to her on every occasion breathe the tenderest filial affection. Nothing can be more engaging than the confiding familiarity, with which he opens to her every thought that lay in his breast. His military studies were somewhat distracted by his visits to London, but still more by an affair of the heart, his idol, the first of many who afterwards engrossed his affections, being the Lady Catharine Mead, second daughter of the Earl of Clanwilliam, to whom he alludes under the name of Kate.

"“ I get up in the morning," he says, describing his town life in the summer of 1786,“ hating every thing,-go out with an intention of calling on somebody,--and then with the first person 1 meet go any where, and stay any time, without thinking the least what I am about, or enjoying the least pleasure. By this means I am constantly late for dinner wherever I have dined. By the by, I have been engaged every day to dinner soinewhere or other since I came; so much so, that, till to-day, Ogilvie and I have not had one quiet dinner together. We are, however, to dine to-day téte-à-tête. But to return to my daily proceedings :—from dinner somebody or other (quite indifferent to me who) carries me to wherever I am asked, and there I stay till morning, and come home to bed hating every thing as much as when I got up and went out. All this is, however, what I used to call a life of pleasure. I have been at balls almost every night, and, as I said before, always stay till morning.

Ogilvie has just been here, and read your letter; he says he will scold

you; he is in great good humour, but not at all soft or tender. Dear fellow! I shall be very sorry when he is gone. He calls here every morning, and I find it the pleasantest part of the day. I make him talk of Kate, whether he will or not; and, indeed, of you all. I find, now I am

you

all better than I thought I did. I am sorry to say I am quite tired of my friends in London, though they have been as kind as possible. I go to Woolwich on Sunday.” —vol. i. pp. 39, 40.

The conflict between the duties of study and the impulses of sentiment, is painted still more strongly in the following letter :

• 6 Woolwich, June 16, 1786. «« I am as busy as ever: it is the only resource I have, for I have no pleasure in any thing. I agree with you, perfectly, in trying to drive away care ; I do all I can, but do not succeed. My natural good spirits, however, and the hopes of some change, keep me up a little. If I thought there was no hopes of the latter, I believe the other would soon give way; and I should be very unfit for this place, or indeed any other, with an idea

away, I like

of doing any good; for I should not then care a pin about what happened me, either in fortune or person ; at least so I think now; but I am determined to give myself as long a trial as I can bear. This is all I can do, as long as I think this way. I hope you will try and make me as happy as you can, by giving accounts in

your

letters. 66. You say Henry spends all the night with

and her company. I suppose by that he

goes on very

well. I wish him success with all my heart. The cottage party will be delightful for him. Think of my not being there! I must comfort myself by hoping you all missed me, and wished for me. Lady Clare will certainly have been there. Are you upon your high horse with her, or are you gracious? I need not say I hope you are kind to pretty dear Kate; I am sure you are. I want you to like her almost as much as I do ;—it is a feeling I always have with people I love excessively. Did you not feel to love her very much, and wish for me, when you saw her look pretty at the cottage? I think I see you looking at her, and saying to yourself, “I wish my dear Eddy was here.' One does not know how much one loves people, till we find ourselves separated. But I am sure I must grow stupid ;-I write as if you were confined at Woolwich also, and in the same spirits as I am. '- vol. i.

pp.

40–42. In the July of the same year, we still find him harping on the same theme, which, however, he endeavours to persuade his mother, does not prevent him from thinking sometimes upon her.

<“Now Ogilvie is gone, and that I cannot depend upon any body to give you some account of me, I will do it myself. By the by, I wish Tony could write. I have been up since before six, and it is now near nine, and I have been hard at work in the laboratory pulverizing saltpetre; so you may guess how dreadfully hungry I am. You cannot conceive how odd the life I lead now appears to me. I must confess if I had le coeur content, I should like best the idle, indolent one. Getting up between eleven and twelve, breakfasting in one's jacket sans souci, se fichant du monde, and totally careless and thoughtless of every thing but the people one loves, is a very pleasant life, il faut le dire.

* You cannot think how sorry I was to part with Ogilvie. I begin to find one has very few real friends, whatever number of agreeable acquaintance one may have. Pray do not let Ogilvie spoil you ; I am sure he will try, crying, · Nonsense! fool! fool! all imagination !—by heavens ! you will be the ruin of that boy.' My dear mother, if you mind him, and do not write me pleasant letters, and always say something of pretty Kate, I will not answer your letters, nor indeed write any to you. I believe if any thing can make me like writing letters, Woolwich will,- for to be here alone is most melancholy. However, I like it better than London, and am not in such bad spirits. I have not time hardly. In my evening's walk, however, I am as bad as ever. I believe in my letter to Henry, I told him how I passed my day; so shall not begin again. You will see by that what my evening's walk is; but, upon my honour, I sometimes think of you in it.

"“I wish, my dear mother, you would insist on my coming to you ;but stop-If I go on thus thinking and writing, I shall be very unfit for mortars, cannons, &c. So, love to every body--God bless you !"'-vol i.

pp. 42–44.

All this time he seems to have had little, if any, encouragement from the young lady herself : but the vision pleased his fancy for a season, until he saw another that charmed it more.

He then very soon found out that at best Kate only liked him," and that he would not prove a very disobedient son, if his mother were to desire him to “think of that girl no more.” Being on a visit at Stoke, he occasionally passed a part of his time at the seat of a noble lord, not far from Goodwood, one of whose daughters seemed to have the power of alleviating the passion which he had already entertained. But still he flatters himself that he had not quite forgotten his first love. “I am glad,” he says, writing to his mother, in the autumn of 1786, “ that sweetest Kate is grown fat. I love her more than any thing yet, though I have seen a great deal of G ** I own fairly I am not in such bad spirits as I was, particularly when I am with G**, whom I certainly love better than any of her sisters. However, I can safely say, I have not been infidelle to Kate,—whenever I thought of her, which I do very often, though not so constantly as usual : this entirely between you and me. The flame flickers, we may clearly see, and is fast going out. Mr. Moore is very sentimental upon this part of his subject, and seems to have retained a good deal of fine writing about it, which he had elaborated manifestly some twenty years ago,-comparing this displacing of one tender passion by another, to the story of Romeo, in whose heart a fanciful passion gave way to a real one for Juliet. "The poet well knew,' we are told, 'that, in natures of this kind, a first love is almost always but a rehearsal for the second ; that imagination must act as taster to the heart, before the true “thirst from the soul" is called forth, and that, accordingly, out of this sort of inconstancy to one object, is oftenest seen to spring the most passionate, and even constant, devotion to another.' This is amusing, for nobody knows better than Mr. Moore, that there is no rule of the kind, but that if there be any, it is this, that first love is that which, of all others, is most deeply felt, and that in truth, those that follow are, generally speaking, but faint repetitions of it, the mere echoes of that fairy music which first broke upon

In the mean time, Lord Edward was obliged occasionally to attend to politics in the Irish House of Commons, where his name is constantly found among the brilliant opposition of that period, the Grattans and the Currans, that small but illustrious band, “the few, fine flushes of departing day,”—that gave such splendour to the last moments of Ireland as a nation.' He was far from being pleased with the slow progress which the popular cause was making; he was disappointed though not dispirited, and already seems, in his secret thoughts, to have aimed at much more mighty objects than any which he had then the hope of obtaining. “You desire me,” he writes in February, 1787,“ to give you an account of myself; I do not think you could ask a more difficult thing, for

the ear,

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »