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Thus prepared, she took her seat in the Strangers Gallery, anxious to witness a display of her husband's eloquence; but he did not speak, and the debate proved without any interest. The female aspirants whose faste was thus exeited, were, however, confined to a few bluestocking belles, without influence to set the fashion; and the attempt did not succeed. Female curiosity, when strongly attracted by the interest of the subject of debate, or the expected performance of some near relative or friend, has ever since that period been content with the accommodation which the loft immediately over the House of Commons affords. In this elevated situation a circle of beauty may be occasionally seen at night, formed around the circumference of the ventilator, like stars in the Zodiac, or the goddesses of the Heathen world looking down from a cloud on the feats of mortals under their especial care. Beneath is the body of the House, the field of political contest, the ground on which ambition runs its race, on which fame, honours, titles, places, and employments are to be won. Here, the debater, the declaimer, the orator, the superficial and the profound, alike prefer their claims. Here .... . . iii, pe Black spirits and white, .. i : i. Red spirits and grey, dos
i . .. ?? , Mingle, mingle, mingle." ; :1 It is the cauldron of the Weird Sisters, to which “black and midnight” agents minister, where
* Charms of powerful trouble, " "!? .??. Like a heli-broth boil and bubble." The Northumbrian burr, the Hibernian brogue, the Welsh guttural, the Somersetshire zzz's, and the malapropos cockney aspiration, mix together in the charmed pot. The strange medley of discordant sounds bubbles up from the boiling cauldron, and, ascending through the grated trellis of the ventilator, makes way to the attentive ears of the fair group assembled around it. Does a single sprite below for a time maintain sole possession of the House on any important subject, exerting all his powers in support of the question, or in an effort to oppose it, sooner or later comes a sudden crash in one tumultuous roar of "hear, hear, hear !” bursting from brazen lungs in force sufficient to split the very benches,
Every one acquainted with the public press of Europe, must have observed the contrast which a London newspaper forms with the jour, nals of every other capital in Europe. The foreign journals never break in upon the privacy of domestic life. There the fame of parties and dinners is confined to the rooms which constitute their scene, and the names of the individuals who partake of them never travel out of their own circle. How widely different is the practice of the London Journals! A lady of fashion can find no place so secret where she can hide herself from their search. They follow her from town to country, from the country to the town. They trace her from the breakfasttable to the Park, from the Park to the dinner-table, from thence to the Opera or the ball, and from her boudoir to her bed. They trace her everywhere." She may make as many doubles as a hare, but they are all in vain; it is impossible to escape pursuit ; and yet the intro-,
oth boil and bubble," so
duction * of female names into the daily newspapers, now so cominon, is only of modern date. As, therefore, it is impossible to foresee how soon the visits of females of rank and fashion to the Senate may ripen into established custom, although the seeds formerly sown did not thrive, it may be curious to consider its probable consequences : how far it is congenial with the female character and commendable in it: how far it may contribute to the happiness of females, and enhance their value; and on the other side, how far it would be likely to inter fere with the freedom of debate, and the course of public business.''
Females were in the habit of visiting the Irish House of Commons on every occasion of interest. As these were not of daily occurrence, their visits were not freqdent. The place for the fair visitors was in the gallery, the construction of which was peculiarly favourable for the display of their personal charms. The gallery ran in a circle round the House, divided by pillars, with projecting balconies between for the accommodation of strangers. Here a group of fashionable fair sat like a bouquet of flowers in a bow-pot in the window of their private mansion. Nowhere could a handsome woman be seen to greater. advantage. Among the visitors of the House during the Viceroyalty of the late Duke of Rutland,+ was his beautiful Duchess and her select party. At that period Dublin exhibited a galaxy of unrivalled beauty, many stars of which “have shot their fires and empty left their orbs,” while some still remain to illumine the horizon with their descending lustre. The Duke's aides-de-camp were some of the finest and handsomest young men of that day. The female favourites of her Grace were among the loveliest of the sex. Upon one of her Grace's visits to the House of Commons the late celebrated Mr. Curran attacked the late Earl of Clare, then Mr. Fitzgibbon, Attorney-General for Ireland, in a strain of most provoking irony. The little witty barrister gave the great law officer of the Crown), to use a vulgar phrase, “ a good dressing." Mr. Fitzgibbon was the prime Court favourite. His voice prevailed at the Council-board, and he affected the man of fashion as well as the man of the law. The Circular Road was the fashionable scene of equestrian display. There the Duchess drove her ponies in the day, and the Attorney-General his four blood blacks; and though never known to neglect his brief, or his duty to his client, the Vice-regal entertainments at the Castle found him a constant visitor at night. For such a man to be so put down in such a presence was not to be borne. Smarting from the wounds which had been inflicted in the debate, he sent his assailant a challenge. They met on the ensuing morn, and the duel terminated, as every friend to humanity would wish, without bloodshed. Dublin was at that day the most jovial and joyous city in the King's dominions. There was nobody in it sick, sore, or sorry. The Catholic question, which afterwards awoke in strife and clamour, then slept quietly in its cradle. The social system, since torn by party spirit, was without rent or flaw; or if any defect could be discovered in it, it was hospitality carried to excess. Trade was good, taxes were light, and
* The late Sir Henry Dudley Bate, Editor of "The Morning Herald," was the first person who introduced females into the columns of a newspaper. He was at the time Editor of " The Morning Post."
+ He died in Dublin in October 1787.
provisions cheap. A gentleman could import for his own use the best claret the cellars of Bordeaux could supply, and drink it at his own table at the rate, in price, of sixteen pence a bottle. The innkeeper, whọ paid a duty, could afford to sell it at from two shillings to two shillings and sixpence; and excellent port at eighteen shillings or a guinea a dozen. Ireland had then its separate and domestic legislature. During eight months of the year Dublin was filled with a resident nobility and gentry, liberal, hospitable, and expensive in their habits; and scenes were then and there acted in which individuals of the first class of society were the performers, that might challenge comparison with the most whimsical freaks of the Second Charles and his favourite Rochester, or even rival the adventures of Prince Henry and the fat Knight of Gadshill.* In fine, it was the holiday-time of Dublin, the season of jubilee and enjoyment, Absentees of large property were comparatively few. They did not then, as now, crowd the streets of Florence, Rome, and Naples. Paris was the principal resort, and the ultima Thule of their foreign travels. How limited in distance were their excursions may be in ferred from the wonder excited in Dublin by a voyage made to Jerusalem by the late Mr. Thomas Whalley, the brother of the Countess of Clare. Mr. Whalley boasted his intention to visit that city, but his friends, although aware of the eccentricity of his character, were incredulous. An aëronaut of 1829, undertaking a flight to the moon, would not be considered more frantic or extravagant. One of Mr. Whalley's friends proposed a bet of 500l. that he would not complete this extraordinary, and, in his opinion, dangerons and impracticable journey. Mr.Whalley accepted the bet, went and returned from Jerusalem, won the 5001. and with it a title. He was ever after called Jerusalem Whalley, in commemoration of his wonderful exploit. Were Peter Wilkins now to make his appearance, after realizing his lunar flights and his adventures with the Glums and Gowries, he would not be more stared at in the streets of Dublin.-But we lose our subject.
In some of the county towns of England, females, attracted by curiosity, attend the trials at the assizes. The Court-houses of York, Lancaster, Winchester, with several others, present, on these occasions, .no ordinary display of female charms; but the custom, although long existing, bas never become general, and even in those places in which it
* Among the female favourites at the Castle was Lady Anne Hatton, now Marchioness of Abercorn. Her brother, the Earl of Arran, then Viscount Ludley, havicg boasted that he would not submit to be robbed by a highwayman, a plan was formed to put his courage to the test. Accordingly, he was invited to a party at the · Vice-regal Lodge in the Phenix Park, and on his return home after supper, accompanied by his sister, he was stopped by a certain number of the youthful guests, mounted, and muffled-up in their servants' great coats. The Viscount immediately seized his pistols, but the pretended highwaymen having taken care to have the charges previously drawn, he was obliged to submit. The coachman, who was not in the secret, findiog himself disengaged from the robbers, drove furiously on, and as he passed through the Park gate, in bis fright, he made a sharp turn, and overturned the coach. The Viscount, when he learned the hoax that had been practised upon him, was disposed to treat it very seriously, and not easily prevailed upon to treat it as a joke. His sister, by the overturning of the carriage, received a cut over the eye, upon wbich she wore a black patch that soon became a convivial toast; and her Ladyship was, probably, for that reason induced to retain it long after it ceased to be wanted. A patch near the eye, in the vocabulary of the toilette, is called an assassin. Lady Ann Hatton's black patch did no little execution.
prevails, it is confined to females of coarse feelings and to the lower classes. Nowhere have females of rank and fashion indulged in it; amongsuch, it is considered bad taste and vulgar curiosity. Indeed, on these scenes disclosures are often made improper for a female ear, and such as a modest woman must withdraw from. Nothing of the kind, however, is likely to occur in Parliament, the subject seldom or ever affording it. In the House of Lords, particularly, the gravity and dignity of the assembly, and the presence of the right reverend prelates, are a guarantee against the introduction of any matter that could be offensive to female delicacy. But neither in the English nor the Irish House of Lords has been seen, until the late occasion, a display of female rank and fashion. · A solitary female may have been now and then observed contriving to hide herself close to the bar, wrapped up in the drapery of the Usher's box, like Lady Teazle behind the screen in the School for Scandal,” or, as she sits enveloped in its scarlet folds, perhaps more like the lady in the lobster. There she listens incog. but does not, as on the late occasion, challenge the admiration of the House by an open display of her charms. When the King opens or closes the session in person, it is usual to see an attendance of female nobility and gentry mixed with the peers in the body of tlie House, but that is a homage paid to royalty, and the scene presents a spectacle attractive to a female eye. Something of a like sentiment and feeling may have, probably, led to the late innovation. It is natural for a woman to admire courage in a man, because he is her natural protector.' The ladies of England had already evinced their admiration of the Duke of Wellington by the erection of the statue in Hyde Park, and their late visit to the House of Lords may be regarded as a farther testimony of their esteem. This was strongly evinced in their demeanour. When bis Grace rose to re ply, on the third reading of the Bill, the ladies rose simultaneously from their seats, and remained standing until ke sat down. There were, however, in the circle several females connected with his most active and strenuous opponents, who it is only fair to presume were simply attracted by curiosity to hear the debate in which their friends and res latives took so prominent a part.'
- The House of Commons exercises the most perfect freedom of speech. It is its most cherished privilege.” A member may use as strong language as he likes, if he will only abstain from imputing "improper motives” to his opponents. He may speak as pointedly and directly as he likes against individuals present, if he will only say he means no "personal allusion." All the rest of the House understand bim and do not fail to apply the words, and the party attacked feels their force and aim ; but the orator disavows all personal allusion, and the rules of the House require no more. Should he be called to order, and requested to explain, he knows as well as Sir Lucius O'Trigger that it may be a very pretty little quarrel as it is, and explanation will only spoil it. Should the explanation prove unsatisfactory, an appeal is made to the Chair. The Speaker of the House of Commons is, virtute officii, the first gentleman in the land. He is perfect master of the rules of the House, of the exact limits and bearing of the licence of speech which it enjoys, and all must bow to his authority and decision; should he encounter any difficulty in adjusting the business, some good-natured friend starts up, who, to prove his humanity, and ingratiate himself into the favour of the two parties immediately concerned, is ready to assert
that, as he heard the words, they were not exactly those used by his honourable friend, and did not in strictness warrant the construction put upon them. In this way the incipient quarrel is settled to the satisfac tion of all parties, and the whole affair passes off as a matter of coarse. No credit nor character is lost on either side. The courage of neither party moults a single feather. But it has been shown, in a striking instance, that the presence of a female may most materially alter the case ; and lead to a widely different result. In the English House of Commons the sweet little charmer sits up aloft, but her influence, though unseen, is not less powerfully felt by those on whom her eyes are fixed below. It is a practice among the amateurs of the sod, when a cock seems shy or depressed, in consequence of being out of condition, or some constitutional defect, to introduce a hen into the pit. This expedient seldom fails to rouse the dormant energies of the feathered warrior, and to call forth his game; the colour of his gills assumes a deeper red, and he struggles to free himself from the grasp of the hander ;-where the spirit of the senator is not of the highest order-where the temperature of his courage is not always at the point of highest pressare, the presence of a female, particularly of a favourite one, may produce a similar effect. He is more than usually susceptible of insult; he is more than usually severe in his attacks. He summons up all his strength; and labours to display bis talents to the greatest possible advantage. An unlucky hit or two from his opponents disconcerts him, and, as generally happens to the orator who rises in a passion, after a few illdirected blows, he sits down discomfited, and out of humour with all the world. This is the fate of humble talent exerted in a female presence. Superior genius may suffer equally, although in a different way. Wit is a dangerous weapon, and, although as, polished as pointed, requires to be used with caution. The orator who wields it, should be free from all embarrassment; from every thing that may have a tendency to abuse, and tempt him to overstep the bounds of discretion ; but when the possessor of this dangerous power is called upon to exercise it in the presence of a female whom he admires, he feels ambitious to display his great superiority at the expense of all around him. The power that was accustomed to play in a lambent flame, and to illumine the house with its harmless coruscations, now appears in angry flashes, scorching and wounding where it lights and the sufferers never cease to feel a hostile disposition towards the offender. The Speaker cannot interfere ;irony is a species of argument that may be legitimately used in debate, and he can only join in the laughter which it excites. Here is female influence with a vengeance
Meanwhile the fair visitor, on her lofty seat, witnesses the whole scene. She has been accustomed to the polite and polished language of the drawing-room; she never saw a frown in company, unless, perchance, upon the brow of a losing partner at the card table. She is astonished at the freedom of speech to wbich she has listened-the rudeness of attack, the sharpness of repartee, both of them intolerable. in fashionable life. After a long sitting she retires, languid and depressed. She can eat no supper. Fatigue and anxiety for her friend have taken away her appetite. She relates to the family the incidents, of the night ; the rudeness of A, the vulgarity.of B, the gross attacks, made by Coupon dear Sir Charles, the wonderful patience he displayed but she is conscious it was only assumed the better to secure his re