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rents to be the wearer of the cowl and cassock, and his reasons for dissenting from their choice have never been made publicly known, perhaps the chief of them may be found in the circumstances of his clerical education. Prohibited by the crooked policy of the times from acquiring this in his own country, the study of catholic theology and administration could be prosecuted only in the French monasteries, and this necessity may have weakened his attachment, if it ever were strong to an office, which at home was thus exposed to all the ignominy of restraint and oppression. Patriotism the most enthu. siastic, though perhaps not always the most discreet, has ever been the reigning quality of the O'Connell family, and whether priest or layman, monk or lawyer, bishop or barrister, O'Connell was destined after the example of his fathers, to fix his abode in Ireland, to exert his stupendous talents, and spend the fruits of his exertion amongst his own people. But what could his early ambition anticipate in associating the Catbolic priesthood with a country, in which Protestant ascendency was the sheet anchor of the governing powers, and the watchword by which alone the most gifted individual could pass to their presence and patronage. ?
Other reasons, however, subordinate or superior to this might have swayed his choice, and determined him on a profession more adapted than that of the church to his early talents and taste, as well as to his future aggrandizement and advantage. There is little doubt that some parts of his course of education at St. Omer, under the study of jesuit authors, and the direction of jesuit tutors, first gave his mind a turn in favour of the art, so essential to a successful barrister of making the worse appear the better reason.” It must also be taken into consideration, that previously to his entrance upon his monastic studies, he had under the roof of his parents known the endearing relations of a son and a brother; under these circumstances his early associations were formed, and it seems a pe- , culiar mark of the wisdom of providence, thus to link duty with the durable impressions of infancy. Filial obedience has
in every country, and under every religion been inculcated and practised; the child, whose first ideas and affections have expanded in the bosom of a family, begins gradually to find himself a member of a community, and is taught to rejoice in its welfare, as necessarily connected with his own. But so strongly does he feel his first impressions, that the most forcible manner in which his connection with mankind can be pointed out to him, is by the well known relation of brotherhood, and the most perfect idea he can form of a just government, is that of a benevolent parent, anxious for the welfare of his family.
That O'Connell carried with him these associations to France, cannot be doubted, and it was equally true, that he had not been long an inmate of the gloomy walls of a monastery, than he found that his then abode was not the place in which those kind and amiable associations could be fostered and supported. The tender sympathies of human nature become choked in the cold and chilling atmosphere of a cloister, and sooner might we expect to see a rose blooming in an ice-house, than hope to find in the system of monastic education the inculcation of those noble and tender charities, by which human nature becomes ennobled. Ignorant of the endearing relation of a parent, estranged from all the tender ties of a husband or a father, the tenant of a cloister, absorbed in the misanthrophical gloom of his isolated office, is little calculated to foster those amiable propensities of the youthful heart, on which the future excellence of the moral character of the individual mainly depends. It is a truism not to be disputed, that the private duties of life are intended by Providence to be the first object of attention, but how were these to be taught to the youthful O'Connell in a place, where they are utterly unknown, and actually discarded as incompatible with the religious tenets, which the inmates of it profess; the fire of patriotism was at an early age burning in the breast of Daniel O'Connell, but as the freedom of his country was his aim, so did he perceive, that the basis of that column can only be durably fixed on private morality, and that he who has trampled upon the duties of private life, can never pursue by just efficacious means the public good. With the consciousness of the existence of the power within him to benefit his country, O'Connell saw that the monastery was not the place in which that power could be exerted. The word country had for him every charm, he saw it in imagination rising with glorious splendour out of the chaotic darkness in which it had been so long envelopped and exhibiting to the world the grand, the noble spectacle of what a people can achieve, when confederated for the attainment of their rights, and their emancipation from the tyranny of lawless power. Had Providence given him birth on the dreary coasts of Africa or under the midnight darkness of the inquisition, and a happy circumstance had taught him the value of freedom a sense of patriotic duty would have taught him to sacrifice his life and happiness in attempting to humanize the monsters of Barbary, or enlighten the fanatics of Spain : and even if a country had courted his presence, where the sun of liberty shone unclouded by civil or religious persecution. As a native of Ireland he saw himself bound to use every effort to save his country from ruin. If the patriot sees a storm rising, which threatens like the blast of the hurricane, to sweep away the liberties of his native land, he is not justified in retiring from the scene of contention, and seeking an inglorious refuge from the devastation, which surrounds him.
One of the earliest precepts which was inculcated into the mind of O'Connell, was justice in all our concerns with mankind, and it may without exaggeration be said, that it is a rule from which he has never departed. If, however, it became with him a maxim of duty to act with justice to his fellow-men, it was also not less a maxim of duty with him, that justice should be done to his country, and even in his juvenility, he would often break out into the most violent expressions against those men in office, who seemed to treat his native country more as a conquered province, than as a part and parcel of the British Empire. The men who had the direction of his juvenile studies were from their peculiar situation well fitted to encourage those dispositions, for born upon the same soil with himself, and conscious of the disabilities and restrictions to which they were subject, as belonging to the Catholic religion, he was continually listening to their declamations against the oppressors of their country, thereby increasing the intensity of the flame which a sense of the wrongs which his native land endured, had lighted up within him. He was a patriot in feeling before he scarely knew the meaning of the term, or was cognizant of the duties attached to the character. The sphere in which he moved, and the country in which he was domiciled, were not well adapted to impart to him that general information, by which the human mind becomes so advantageously enriched; for the former excluded much, which was necessary for the full and efficient expansion of his intellectual powers, and the latter owing to its arbitrary and despotic laws, prohibited the inculcation of that knowledge which had a tendency to extend the bounds of human reason and diffuse the blessings of intellectual illumination over the rising generation. Had the mind of O'Connell been of an ordinary stamp, had it not been in its nature, grand, comprehensive, and original, there is little doubt but that at the close of his foreign education, a very partial development of mental energy would have been displayed, and he would have appeared upon the stage of the world as one of those common place characters, who mingle in the crowd of human bipeds, and sink into the grave in inglorious obscurity. He was in a certain degreshut out from all emulation, for where actual knowledge founded on the basis of reason, is not the aim of education, it is in vain to look for the formation of those great and noble characters, which are an ornament to human nature, and by which, in a restricted sense the universe is governed. A noble emulation will always keep the scholar in exercise, a reprimand will touch him to the quick, and honour will serve him instead of a spur, but where the aim of education is not a full expansion of the intellectual power, but a dull, monotonousinculcation of religious formulæ, and a strict observance of ecclesiastical ceremonies, a contraction of intellectual power is the consequence, the in
nate talent of the individual is diverted from its true and legitimate bias, and that which under a proper mode of culture would have been beautiful and symmetrical, becomes by a system of mis-management, crooked, and deformed.
The impressions which O'Connell received in his early life were by no means calculated, to render him the character, in which he row appears; for with the exception of the knowledge of the latin language, which is the necessary part of the education of a Catholic, whether layman or priest, we do not find that the system of instruction adopted with him, comported with his rank in life, or with the sphere in which he was destined to move. The learning of the cloister is not the learning of the world, and no one will deny the propriety of rendering a part of education conformable to the state of society, and subservient to the general interests of the community in which men are destined to live, and act. To say that a priest can educate a man for the active purposes of human life, is tantamount to the proposition that a Mussulman can teach Christianity, or an English tory the practice of the principles of Magna Charta. In this respect, therefore, O'Connell, as far as the early part of his education extended, was unfortunate; the system was not commensurate to the subject which was to be acted upon, and when we reflect that the knowledge of right and wrong is chiefly obtained by our observations on the good and evil tendency of actions, and by our subsequent reflections on the degree of praise or blame attached to them by the general decision of mankind, it must be admitted, that it is only the mind of a Daniel O'Connell, that could have come out uninjured by the ordeal to which it was subject, or that could have so proudly and so nobly emancipated itself from the early shackles, which were imposed upon it.
The opinion which Mr. O'Connell held of the different modes of education adopted in France and England, may be gathered from the following tract written by him a short time previously to his leaving St. Omer, and which at the same time is no mean specimen of his literary attainments at the close of his foreign education.