Page images


[ocr errors]

down. The Bench was mortgaged. The earnest of a pension was advanced to soothe the impatience of the reversionary placeman. Boroughs were declared to be private property, and so excellent and certain a provision for the patron's younger children, that it would be a violation of all justice to exact their gratuitous surrender. Their pecuniary value was, ascertained, and the public faith solemnly pledged to treat a customary breach of the constitution (a title to property of which Blackstone never dreamt) as one that by the courtesy of Ireland" gave the prescriptive offender an equitable interest in its continuance. These are but a few specimens of the means resorted “to order to precipitate a measure that was announced in all the


of phetic assertion, as the sure and only means of conferring prosperity

it not for certain counteracting circumstances, such as the nightly incursions of Captain Rock ; the periodical eclipses of the Constitution by the interven tion of the Insurrection Act a pretty general'insecurity of life and property; the decay of public spirit; the growth of faction,-a weekly list of insolvencies, murders, conflagrations, and letters from Sir Har court Lees, unprecedented in the annals of a happy country; but for, these, and similar visitations, all originating in the comprehensive and inscrutable efforts of the prophets themselves to falsify their prediction, the Union, notwithstanding the demerits of its supporters, might long since have ceased to be a standing topic of popular execration. The disasters that, in point of fact, have followed, were pretty accurately foreseen by the men who opposed this much vaunted measure. They failed; but they did their duty fearlessly and well, and not one of them, it is but just to say, in a spirit of more entire self-oblivion, and more earnest sensibility to his public duties, than the person

whose name is prefixed to the present article. His manly and upright conduct, as usual in Ireland, excited deep and lasting resentment. He was stigmatised as an honest Irishman, and, disdaining to atone by after-compliances for his original offence, had to encounter all those im. pediments to professional advancement which systematically followed so obnoxious a disqualification.

Here I had intended to close my observations upon Serjeant Goold but it occurs to me that there remains one topic, not indeed connected

should be faithfully observed. He insisted upon a written guarantee. This was refused, and the treaty broken off. The member went down to the house, and vented a virtuous harangue against the proposed measure. As soon as he sat down, the written security was banded to him. He put it in his pocket, voted against bis speech, and was in due season appointed to a lucrative office which he still enjoys, defying the bistorian and laughing at the notion of posthumous fame.

By the Act of Union, eighty-four boroughs were disfranchised. Remuneration, to the amount of 15,0001. each, was voted to the patrons. In the debate on the latter point, one of Lord Castlereagh's arguments was that the patrons could not have been brought to enter upon " a cool examination," of the general question, bad not their fears for their personal interests been set at -ost by a certainty of compensation. The injustice of annihilating provisions in family settlements resting upon the security of boroughs was also insisted on. I like better the stern logic of Mr. Saurin ; “ There can be no injustice in denying property to be acquired by acts which the law declares to be a crime. As well miglit the highway. man, upon a public road being stopt up, exclaim against the disturbance of his right to plunder the passengers."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

with his professional life, but of so much notoriety, and to this day 80 often canvassed, that a total silence upon it might be misconstrued-I allude

to the evidence which he gave in the year 1818 at the Bar of the House of Commons upon the enquiry into the conduct of Mr. Wyndham Quin. An imputation was cast upon his character at the time; and though stifled as far as it could be by 'che' vote of an immense majority of the House, it has not wanted external support in that uncharitable spirit which is ever ready to pronounce a summary verdict of conviction upon no other foundation than the fact of a charge having been made.

I have now before me the report of the debates, and the minutes of the evidence in question. The latter are so voluminous that it would be altogether, unjust to the party concerned to propose repelling the accusation by any analysis and comments that could be condensed into my present limits. I can merely state the general conclusion to which I have come upon a minute exainination and parison of the several parts of the evidence; and that is my full and unhesitating conviction that Mr. Goold was as incapable as the most high-minded of his accusers, of intentionally withholding or misrepresenting a single fact which he was called upon to disclose. He was, 1 admit, what is technically called " a bad witness”-barristers are ia proverbially so (instead of an answer they give a speech). " Mr. Goold, from his habits and temperament, is peculiarly so. l*pon every matter, great and small, he is hot and hasty; and announces his views with the tone and temper of a partisan. It is a part of the constitution of his mind to have an undue confidence in the infallibility of his faculties and the importance of his personal concerns.

All this broke out, as it does every where else, at the Bar of the House of Commons he could no more repress it than he could the movement of his 'arteries; and the effect upon the minds of strangers to his peculiarities may naturally enough have been unfavourable ; but when the question arisen, is a denial of a collateral and unessential matter of fact, a lapse of memory, or a meditated suppression, surely every one, who would not wantonly shake the stability of character, should feel bound to put the tenor of a long and honourable life against a most improbable supposition. This was the view taken by those who knew him best: among the rest by the late Mr. Grattan, whose friendship alone formed i high evidence of a spotless reputation. For thirty years Mr. Grattan had been his intimate friend, and had seen him pass through the ordeał of times, which tried, as far as any earthly process can try, the worth? and honour of a man; and what was his impassioned exclamation? " Mr. Goold is thoroughly known to me. I would stake my existence

upon his integrity, as I would upon my own. If he is not to be! trusted, I know not who is to be trusted !" To this attestation, and its inference, I cannot but cordially subscribe.

[ocr errors]


Three sightless inmates of the sky,

Whose names were Justice-Fortune-Cupid, Finding their public life on high

Somewhat monotonous and stupid, Resolved one morning to unite

Their powers in an Alliance Holy, And purify the Earth, whose plight

They all agreed was melancholy.
Quoth Justice-Of the world below

I doubtless have the best idea,
Since in the Golden Age, you know,

I ruled it jointly with Astræa;
While, therefore, we on earth abide,

For fear our forces should be parted, Let me be your perpetual guide

Agreed, nem. con. and off they started. Love first, and Fortune next descends,

Then Justice, though awhile she tarried, When Cupid cries—This flight, my friends,

Has made iny throttle somewhat arid : Beneath each wing, before our trip,

I popp'd a golden vase of nectar, And I for one should like a sip,

What says our worshipful director ? The proposition, 'twas decreed,

Redounded to the mover's glory, So down they sate upon the mead,

And plied the flagon con amore ; But not reflecting that the draught

With air of earth was mix'd and muddled, Before the second vase was quaff'd,

They all became completely fuddled. Now reeling, wrangling, they proceed,

Each loudly backing his opinion, And 'stead of letting Justice lead,

All struggle fiercely for dominion: Whereat her sword in wrath she draws,

And throws it in her scales with fury, Maintaining that the rightful cause

Requires no other judge and jury. Fortune, purloining Cupid's darts,

Tips them with gold for sordid suitors,
Making sad havoc in the hearts

Of matrimonial computers ;
While Love on Fortune's wheel apace

Plagues mortals with incessant changes,
Gives Aying glimpses of his face,

Then presto! pass !-away he ranges. Their pranks, their squabbles day by day

Gave censurers a better handle, Till Jove impatient of their stay,

And anxious to arrest the scandal, Bade Fortune-Justice-Love return;

But to atone for their miscarriage, Lest men for substitutes should yearn,

He sent them down Luck, Law, and Marriage.


February. Some one has said of the Scotch novels, that that is the best which we happen to have perused last. It is thus that I estimate the relative value and virtue of my betrothed mistresses, The Months. The one which happens to be present with me is sure to be that one which I happen to like better than any of the others. I lately insisted on the supremacy of January on various accounts. Now I have a similar claim to put in, in favour of the next in succession. And it shall


hard but I will prove, to the entire satisfaction of all whom it may concern, that each in her turn is beyond comparison the wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.” Indeed I doubt whether, on consideration, any one, but a Scotch philosopher, will be inclined to dispute the truth of this, even as a logical proposition, much less as a sentiment. The time present is the best of all possible times, because it is present-because it is - because it is something ;—whereas all other times are nothing. The time present, therefore, is essentially better than any other time, in the proportion of something to nothing! I hope this is logic; or metaphysics at the least. If the reader determine otherwise, “he may

kill the next Percy himself!" In the mean time—and that, by the bye, is the best time, next to the present, in virtue of its skill in connecting together two refractory periods)--in the mean time, let us search for another and a better reason why every one of the months is in its turn the best. The cleverest Scotch philosopher that ever lived has said, in a memoir of bis own life, that a man had better be born with a disposition to look on the bright side of things, than to an estate of ten thousand a year. He might have gone farther, and said that the disposition to which he alludes is worth almost as much to a man as being compelled and able to earn an honest livelihood by the sweat of his brow! Nay, he might almost have asserted, that, with such a disposition, a man may chance to be happy, even though he be born to an estate of twenty thousand a year! But I, not being, thank my stars! a Scotch or any other philosopher, will venture to go still farther, and say, that to be able to look at things as they are, is best of all. To him who can do this, all is as it should be--all things work together for good-whatever is, is right. To him who can do this, the present time is all-sufficient-or rather it is all in all; for if he cannot enjoy any other, it is because no other is susceptible of being enjoyed, except through the medium of the present. But

“ Ye gods, 1

prate While the most noble month of all the year

Stands unsaluted by !" From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step. Consequently, from the ridiculous to the sublime must be about the same distance. In other words, the transition from metaphysics to love is easy-as Mr. Coleridge's writings can amply testify.--Hail! then, February! month and mother of Love! Not that Love which requires the sun of Midsummer to foster it into life ; and is so restless and fugitive that nothing can hold it but bands made of bright cyebeams; and so dainty that it must be fed on rose-leaves ; and so proud and fantastical that bowers of jasmine and honeysuckle are not good enough for it to dwell in, or

the green turf soft enough for its feet to press; ' but it must sit beneath silken canopies, and tread on Turkey carpets, and breathe the breath of pastiles; and 'so chilly that it must pass all its nights within a gentle bosom, or its dies." Not this Love; but its infant cousin, that starts into life on cold Saint Valentine's morning, and sits by the fire rocking its own cradle, and listening all day long for the “ sweet thunder" of the twopenny postman's knock ! Hail! February !virgin mother of this love of all loves-- which dies almost the day that it is born, and yet leaves the odour of its 'sweetness upon

the whole after-life of those who were not too wise to admit it for a moment to their embraces!. I..

The sage reader must not begrudge me these innocent little rhapsodies. He must remember that all are not so wise and staid as he ; and as in January he permitted me to be, for a moment, a ranting school-boy,--so in February he must not object to my reminding him that there are such persons in the world as young ladies who have not yet finished their education !" he must not insist, that, “because he is virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale". Besides, to say the truth, I do not see that it is quite fair to complain of us anonymous writers, even if we do occasionally insinuate into our lucubrations a few lines that are directed to our own exclusive satisfaction. Far be it from me to hint aught against the liberality of the worthy proprietors of this immaculate miscellany, the New Monthly Magazine. But I must think that no pecuniary pay would be equivalent to the privilege of writing nonsense now and then ; and editors as well as readers may rest assured that if once they enter into a conspiracy to cut us wholly off from this sweetest source of our emolument, we shall very soon strike: --for if a man is always to write sense and reason, he might as well be an author at once-which, we of the New Monthly flatter ourselves that none of us are. I put it to the candour of Mr. Colburn himself, whether, if I were to insist on placing my name in the corner of each of these egregious portraits of The Months--80 and so pinxit 1824-he would not offer me double price to refrain from so unperiodical a proceeding? Then let him use his interest with the Editor to allow me but balf a page of nonsense in each number, and I am content to leave posterity in the lurch, and live only till I die. I have now expended my portion of this paper, and shall henceforth willingly " keep bounds" till the next monthấto which end, however, I must be permitted to call in the aid of my able suggestive, Now.

Now, the Christmas holidays are over, and all the snow in Russia could not make the first Monday in this month look any other than black in the home-loving eyes of little school-boys; and the streets of London are once more evacuated of happy wondering faces, that look any way but strait before them; and sobs are heard and sorrowful faces are seen to issue from sundry post-chaises that carry sixteen inside, including cakes and boxes; and theatres are no longer conscious of unconscious éclats de rire, but the whole audience is like Mr. Wordsworth's cloud, “which moveth altogether, if it move at all."-En reranche, ---Now newspaper editors begin to think of disporting themselves; for the great national school for "children of a larger growth” is met in Saint Stephen's Chapel, “ for the dispatch of business" and of time, and consequently newspapers have become a '

nonentity, and those

« PreviousContinue »