« ElőzőTovább »
clothes, because his attention is always occupied in making clothes. A dancing-master — the instructor of others in graceful movement - is usually himself, away from his lessons, awkward and ungainly, because his attention dwells on modes of movement. A professional elocutionist, who teaches others to speak and read, - and teaches them successfully,- is seldom himself a good speaker or reader, because his attention is absorbed in the processes of speaking and reading. And we know of learned authors on the English language who themselves write execrable English: this, too, may be because their attention is fixed on the construction of the language, instead of their energies being engaged in the use of it, in literature or life. Dr. Doyle spoke and wrote freely and forcibly, because his attention was not on speaking or writing, but on the objects which he hoped by speaking and writing to accomplish. He was a great master of statement and of argument, - clear and strong in both. He was always practical and to the point. So little was he given to all that was extraneous to his topic, in embellishment, sentiment, or thought, that, Irishman though he was to the utmost, his style seemed to have been formed rather by the severest culture of England than by the impulsive culture of his own country. He was not, in the poetic sense, imaginative ; but he had passion and conviction which raised his thinking into eloquence, — often indignant, often persuasive, often pathetic. He had fancy which could sharpen his thinking into wit; he had, when morally provoked, an energy of scorn that turned his thinking into barbs of sarcasm, which he hurled with such directness that they never missed their aim, and with such force that, though the wounds they inflicted might possibly be healed, they could never be forgotten. His intellect was aided by an enormous memory. “My memory," said Dr. Doyle to a friend,“ is singularly tenacious. I never read an able argument, from the earliest period of my life to this hour, that is not distinctly inscribed on the tablet of my mind; and I protest I think, that, were it necessary, I could take my oath of the precise page whereon any remarkable theological opinion is recorded.” This is like Niebuhr, who thought that his health was on the decline when his memory required the slightest effort; for the normal state of that mem
ory seemed to be rather the intuition of a present consciousness than the recalling of a past consciousness, so easy was its action.
Able as Dr. Doyle was in his writings, his greatest mental triumphs were before the Houses of Parliament. In 1825 he was examined before committees of the Commons and of the Lords, in relation to the question of Catholic emancipation. In 1830 he was examined before a committee of the Commons, in relation to a legal provision for the poor. In 1832 he was examined before committees of the Commons and of the Lords, in relation to the question of tithes. His answers in the first examination would form a folio of divinity; in the second, a body of social science; and in the third, a treatise on Church History and Ecclesiastical Antiquities. The questions put to him in the second examination amounted to 468, and his replies often extended to disquisitions. In the first examination, he was warned by a friend that it would be entirely theological, the questions being prepared by the ablest divines from Oxford and Cambridge. The friend hoped that he was supplied with such works for consultation as would enable him to go safely through this ordeal. The Bishop assured his friend that he brought no book with him but his Breviary. It was as his friend foretold it would be, a comprehensive, searching, polemical, theological examination. But the Doctor had, as we have seen, a vast memory; he was not only a most learned priest, but also a most learned lawyer; he had knowledge enough to confute his questioners, and when he pleased, he had art enough to confound them. He was offered books in abundance, but he had little need of them, and he little used them. He says himself of this examination : “I found it easier to answer the bishops than the lords.” His success delighted his friends, and gained admiration from even his opponents. Stanley, one of the most determined of these, paid the highest tribute to the talents of Dr. Doyle. An eminent peer declared that “ Dr. Doyle as far surpassed O'Connell as O'Connell surpassed other men.” “Well, Duke,” observed another peer, who met Wellington as he was leaving the committee-room, 6 are you examining Dr. Doyle ?” “No,” said his Grace, dryly, “ Dr. Doyle is examining us.” It has been
said that the impression of this examination on the Duke's mind tended considerably towards his ultimate treatment of the Catholic question. “Who is there,” says the Morning Chronicle, “ of the Established clergy, either of England, Ireland, or Scotland, for instance, to compare with Dr. Doyle ? Compare his evidence before the poor-law committee with that of Dr. Chalmers, for instance, and the superiority appears immense.”
Dr. Doyle's power of labor was incredible; and yet his readiness and versatility were equal to his power. He appeared before these committees day after day, and remained before them several hours at a time. He had to be prepared to meet all sorts of questions, on all sorts of subjects, and to answer them on the moment. He not only answered them, but he answered them with a surplus wealth of knowledge. His mental treasury and his physical force seemed alike inexhaustible, and at the close of each day's toil his strength seemed as unabated as it had been at the beginning. The members of the committee were arranged in the form of a horse-shoe. Dr. Doyle stood or sat within the hollow space. When excited, he arose, and often pursued a long and connected oration, which so chained the attention of his auditory that he was rarely interrupted.
His whole life was full of labor. He was not only strict in the duties of his office, but he enlarged those that were ordinary, and created others that were extraordinary. He was never without some public or patriotic demand that taxed his talents and his time. His fame made him a marked man for all sorts of attacks. He kept up a most extensive correspondence, political, ecclesiastical, and with his family and his friends. If we wonder that a man of such surprising abilities left no single great work, we must take these circumstances into account, and we must also remember the early age at which Dr. Doyle died. If the topics on which he wrote were temporary in duration, in the importance of consequences they had an everlasting interest. He so regarded and so treated them. But though the occasions which called forth his genius have passed away, not so his fame. That is immortal; and while Ireland cherishes love, gratitude, or admiration for the memory of those who have been devoted to her good, and have shed glory on her name, James Warren Doyle will be ranked among the brightest of her minds and among the greatest of her sons.
We shall not be able to expatiate on the times of Dr. Doyle with the fulness which we had originally intended. They were times full of agitations. We shall review some of the most prominent; such as the collective polemical exertions for Protestantizing the Catholics; the struggle of the Catholics for political emancipation; and, lastly, their opposition to tithes.
We do not impeach the motives of those who combined in the attempt to make Ireland a Protestant country. Christianity is essentially a proselytizing religion. It is not out of order that modifications of it have the same spirit, and of this spirit Protestantism has inherited an ample portion. Not only churches, but every individual of strong and sincere convictions, should desire to make others partakers of them. But he must be amenable to all the laws of charity, courtesy, and reason, even when he believes that these convictions are needful to man's temporal and eternal welfare. No duty calls on him to be obtrusive or aggressive; to use arts which integrity does not sanction, even for this solemn purpose ; he is not justified in abusing power for it, or in taking unfair advantage of opportunities, or in employing the influence of threats, promises, or favors. Not only does duty not require such endeavors, it indignantly forbids them. We will not say that policy excited this spiritual crusade against the Catholics; but if it succeeded, it would have admirably served policy. Some of the most active in the crusade were clergy of the Established Church. Now as this Church in Ireland was, and still indeed is, but the Church of a few, its claim to a national endowment, and a revenue paid by a vast majority who denied its doctrines and rejected its services, seemed, even to not a few of its own members, grossly unjust. But could this vast majority be converted to the Establishment, then, as the Church of the nation not only in name, but in reality, its claim would have a moral as well as a legal validity. If success came not, the failure arose from no want of zeal, energy, or perseverance. The apostleship included all orders of workers, lay and
clerical, from peers and bishops to tract-distributers and Biblereaders; from the countess of the castle to the mistress of the village-school. Some temporary results were obtained ; a seed here and there seemed to take root; it grew quickly, and as quickly withered. Where an abundant harvest had been hoped for, behold, all was barren. The relapsed converts even mocked those whom they had deceived, and laughed at the folly of their learned dupes. How success could have been expected otherwise than by miracle is to us a marvel. The Catholic Irish have intensely the religious temperament, and they have been always ardently attached to the Church of Rome. This attachment in itself it would be inconceivably difficult to overcome. But when we connect it with the circumstances and history of the Catholic Irish, nothing in all the wildness of a dream seems so unreal as those attempts to make them Protestants. The Irish are a people susceptible of the most vivid impressions of the present, and have far-reaching and tenacious memories of the past. How would this present and this past influence them towards Protestantism? The lands which their forefathers owned, they saw Protestants living on as lords, while they toiled on them as serfs, — and, indeed, rejoiced when they got leave to toil. The castles which their ancestors held they saw monuments of humiliating ruin, and in such of them as still retained their olden splendor, Protestants were the inhabitants. The grand cathedrals and abbeys, which had once beautified the country, they saw given to the owls and to the bats, and the princely incomes which had belonged to them they saw go into the coffers of a Protestant hierarchy. They remembered that the predecessors of the priests, from whom the preachers sought to win them, had been hunted like wild beasts by Protestant persecution. They remembered that the laws which deprived them of all inheritance on their native soil, of all right to property, that the laws which deprived their ancestors of natural domestic rights, which deprived Catholic children of education, and encouraged them to violate the most sacred of human instincts,they remembered that all these were Protestant laws. Nay, more, the missionaries who expected the Catholic Irish to become Protestants acted — as far as the spirit of the age