Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ There is no survivor of that Administration,” said Miss Martineau, now many years since in one of the most eloquent passages in her “ History of the Peace,”—“ There is no survivor of that Administration who will not eagerly assent to the avowal that one member, Mr Drummond, was the mind and soul of it. He was a man of great external calmness, of eminent prudence in the ordinary affairs of life, and, till of late years, apparently devoted altogether to scientific pursuits. His acquaintances were wont to rally him for his Scotch prudence and caution, and to describe the pleasures and pains of enthusiasm to him, as things that he could not possibly know anything about. It was his function in Ireland which revealed him to his friends, if not to himself. His subdued enthusiasm now manifested itself in a moral force, as lofty and sustained as it was powerful. The cool man of science came out the philanthropist, the philosopher, the statesman, the virtual preacher-carrying the loftiest spirit of devotedness into each function. He put wisdom into the councils of the Irish Government, and moderation into its demeanour. He put enthusiasm into the justice which he gave impartially to the Irish people; and he called for justice in the enthusiasms which the observant people paid back to the Government. It was he who repressed crime throughout the nation, and rebuked its passions, and stilled its turbulence, and encouraged its hopes, and stimulated its industry, and soothed its sorrows. His sobriety of judgment and calmness of manner never gave way; but a fervour, like that of renewed youth, latterly pervaded his whole mind, animated all his faculties, and deepened his habitual composure, while he was consciously meeting the martyr's doom. He lived too fast, knowingly and willingly, during these few

years which he believed to be so critical for Ireland. Under his work, his responsibilities, his thronging ideas, his working emotions, his frame could not hold out long, and he was prostrated at once by an attack of illness in the spring of 1840. 'I am dying for Ireland,' he said, just at the last. He died for Ireland ; and, in contemplation of his death, how do other deaths which bear more of the external marks of martyrdom for Ireland shrink, by comparison, in our estimate!

Here was no passion-no insulting speech—no underhand or defiant action-no collision of duties—no forfeiture of good faith -no implication of the helpless in danger--no disturbance of society–no imperilling of any life but his own. No man who courted the bullet or the gibbet ever dared more. No man who organised rebellion in consultations by day and drillings at night ever wrought harder. No man who cast his all into the revolutionary balance was ever more disinterested and devoted. He, a soldier of a sensitive spirit, brought upon himself unmeasured insult, which would elsewhere have been intolerable ; but for Ireland's sake he bore it all. He went through endless toils, which nobody knew of who could give him any return of honour. He felt himself sinking before he had attained the rewards which might once have been alluring to him-before he had attained wealth, or rank, or a post in the world's eye, or the fame of statesmanship : but he toiled on, too busy on Ireland's behalf to have a regret to spare for such things as these. If there are any who can reconcile themselves to such an issue, let them remember how noble a way remains to do him honour. Let them name his name when Ireland wants his example. When boasts of martyrdom abound, and blustering patriots would rouse the ignorant and suffering to rash enterprises, and men who will not work for Ireland talk of fighting for her, and those who cannot deny their own vanity, or indolence, or worldly care, claim the glory of patriotic agitation, let the name of Thomas Drummond be quietly spoken, and human nature has lost its rectitude and its sensibility, if the arrogance be not shamed, and the vaunt silenced.”

APPENDIX

No. I.

LETTER FROM SIR JOHN F. W. HERSCHEL, BART., TO THE LATE

MRS DRUMMOND, SHANDWICK PLACE, EDINBURGH.

COLLINGWOOD, HAWKHURST, May 12, 1840. MY DEAR MADAM,—The wish expressed in your letter to my wife, under the mournful circumstances of the case, has to me the force of a command, to which, on every account, my obedience can only be limited to my power.

Unfortunately I am so circumstanced, having just got into my present residence—my books, papers, memoranda, and every document in a state of utter disorder, and for the most part not unpacked—that it is imposible for me to make any precise statements involving dates, &c., or to go into the subject, however interesting to my feelings, further than my individual recollection of what I have myself witnessed of your lamented son's scientific career will carry me. But that shall not prevent me so far as my ability goes ; for the strong impression left on my mind of his amiable, yet firm and manly character, his distinguished talent and extraordinary activity, will not allow me to hesitate an instant in responding to your call.

He was indeed beloved by every one who came in contact with him, for the strength and correctness of his views were so tempered by the gentleness of his manner, and the modesty of his pretensions, that I never knew but one opinion formed of him; and when he quitted the walks of science for the high and efficient line of public life which called forth the full exertion of his great powers, the impression was general that his suc

« PreviousContinue »