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far better title to respect, in firmness and principle-in pride without insolence, hilarity without licentiousness, discretion without timidity, and conciliation without a taint of submission. He did not aspire to eloquence: but the people listened attentively, for they placed much trust in his sense and honour.
But O'Connell was the heart and soul of the Association. He not only conceived and drew the noble outline, buî was its support during the whole period of its existence. It was he who chalked its course, drove the high roads through the national mind, raised the Association within the circle of law, and secured the perfect legality of all their proceedings. Mr. Shiel spoke generally no more than once each day of meeting. It was, no doubt, a splendid display; but O'Connell made twenty short speeches, independent usually of a great one on some important motion. The fertility of his mind was inexhaustible, A letter from a remote corner of the country, a remittance of Rent, an allusion from another speaker, called him up either to convulse the meeting with laughter, to excite deeper emotion by an anecdote of the servile mind and body which long oppression had produced in the Catholics of former times, or to call out cheers of indignant pride, when he contrasted these with the haughty port they had now assumed. After wading in the courts through a greater number of causes than any lawyer at the bar, he came, at three o'clock, to the Association, and seemed to receive, from the delighted shout that filled the air on his approach, a renovated existence. He plunged immediately into the mass of business, threw as many incidental speeches as would cover a newspaper, full of humour, pathos, invective, all set in solid common sense; made a speech of two bours on some important subject, replied to his opponents, carried it; then went, surrounded by a body guard of all ages, to a charity dinner ; threw off there, too, half a dozen speeches, retired at ten o'clock, and, by four the next morning, was in his study, praying before a crucifix. Never was there a man, who less disappointed expectation. In his speeches there was in quality; but it was of excellence. No great question cver
found him unequal to its weight. But it was in the hour of gloom and perplexity, when distinction, with a broad and powerful fan, puffing at all, winnows the light away, that his great qualities came forth. Fronting danger, he “burned unterrified.” While weaker minds were trembling and vibrating; firm, cool, unmoved in his own mass, he seized the helm of the Association, delivered his orders, and infused into all courage and alacrity. It was then the benefit of that overbearing disposition, which has been so often, and sometimes so justly, objected to him, was felt, in an assembly where no man possessed any regular recognized authority, and a miserable reluctance to obey, without the ability to command, fixed in some stiff-necked individuals. He held the waters of faction in the hollow of his hand; wrongheadnesses, jealousies, and fears, were swept away before the energy of his mind, the weight of his policy, and the enthusiasm of the people. It is by what he did, not by what he said, that posterity will judge him. No man in the empire could have filled his place. Canning had loftiness, energy, and a seductive devil in his speeches.; but he could not bring the energy of mind and body—the mental and physical strength -to the Association. Plunket, with equal force of intellect. and masculine oratory, wanted the devotion to the people, and the requisite flexibility of temper. Brougham possessed the comprehensive mind, with profound knowledge of the principles that set kingdoms in motion; but he was not, as it seems to us, gifted by nature with that breadth of popular qualities which was demanded in the leader of the Association.
Plato, in one of his beautiful dialogues, defines his opinion of an orator:-“ He must have an accurate penetration in discerning accurately of the various relations of things; he must understand perfectly the nature of liberty, truth, and justice; accomodate his reasoning to them; and draw his inferences so clearly that his hearers, as well as himself, may easily perceive they flow naturally from the subject. He must also form in his own mind a distinct plan of what he has to say-be able to arrange many things into one, and, when needful, make accurate divisions of one into many;-above all, he must have a faculty
of perceiving what arguments will suit the tempers of his audience. These are qualifications requisite to a speaker who intends to persuade; these alone constitute an orator,” We perfectly agree with the “Divine.” To the truth and requisiteness of each of these qualities we set our seal; and there is not one that O'Connell does not possess in the highest degree. He is not always select in his language; but hear him at the bar! His speech in defence of Barrett was one of the ablest efforts of modern advocacy. He spoke for five hours, and in every period there was the thunder and lightning of ancient Greece: there was a Demosthenic harshness and elevated simplicity in his words, that held fast your feelings by hooks of steel. Even the stern dispensers of justice felt their hearts coming closer to their eyes, when he conjured up the visions of the national glory of Ireland, when she breathed the pure and invigorating air of liberty, in a moment of virtue. Every man who heard him on that day was impressed with a solid belief, that no orator of any age or country had surpassed him. When he wishes to be good, who can be better? Ho has little of the proud flash of words; but he has a sense, and sinew, and muscle, and a compass and power of thought, that few, very few, have equalled.
It was well said by Hume, that all power, even the most despotic, rested ultimately on opinion. In the vigorous gasp of mind with which he held this important truth, and the ability with which he, at length, embodied it in an assembly so admirably fitted for its ends, consisted the great merit of O'Connell. His speeches may, and probably will, perish; but there is a voice in his measures which will speak through all posterity to those possessing minds sufficiently capacious to embrace them in their solidity and extent. The future historian, unless he be grossly ignorant of his trade, surveying the skeleton of that gigantic policy, will exclaim, “ This was a great man.” They were no ordinary abilities that bound a whole people in the chain of a universal combination, wherein the several orders of the community preserved their respective places and gradations; which gave to that combination the
grace of rank, the sanctity of the priesthood, the strength, energy, and enthusiasm of the people; which, by law, scrupulously observing its letter, and anxiously inculcating on all, the observance of it, without shedding one drop of blood, or interrupting the ordinary current of daily business, wrung from declared enemies, in the meridian of their power, the solid establishment of religious liberty; and, what is of much greater importance, bequeathed an example of general application to freedom in its utmost diversity of appearance. Public life is the great trial of ability. To form a statesman requires the greatest combination of rare and common qualities, that go to form any character; with a certain strength and durability in them, to stand the wear and tear of business, as well as the accidental shocks of unexpected events. He must be not merely capable of a holiday speech—not even of one in which philosophy, learning and genius, blend their lights ;--these may exist without that breadth and substance of practical understanding, without which the world, in one month, will detect and place no confidence in him; but he must possess a firmlypoised mind, an actual instinctive knowledge of men, a rudeness of grasp, which at once distinguishes the solid from the showy, and, in judgment, what mechanicians call stability, to indicate with promptitude the real weight of any measure, and strike the balance between the respective merits and demerits of two large systems. This is the true test of the man. Το form the scheme of such an Association, clearly to perceive the principle of its structure, was what may have occurred to many men ; but, for years, to conduct its affairs, to maintain the enthusiasm of the people, without violating the law: to rise in a successive series of measures, suited, by their progressive boldness and extent, to the ascending spirit and expectations of men; to exhibit a mind, which, though occasionally daring and intemperate had no cranny through which any thing petty or foolish could fall, to create alarm in his followers; to concentrate the attention of the civilized world on its proceedings; and, at length, vanquish the minds of his opponents : to do all this, without office, place, or authority by no other influence than
what the judiciousness of his measures could bestow, required that combination of great qualities which constitutes an extraordinary man. We are told of his faults, his vanity, the coarseness of his taste, his intractability, his changes of opinion: these, we may be assured, did not aid him. They were drawbacks on his efficiency; and, therefore, as far as the question of power is concerned, prove only the enormous strength which, after such a waste, was adequate to the support of so massive a frame of policy. If the conduct of the Catholic Parliament leave any doubt as to the Atlantean shoulders of practical intellect that upheld it, it will not be in any judgement which is conversant with life, and knows, by observation, the requisites that must have been demanded for that task.
That O'Connell was aided by other individuals of splendid eloquence, is no depreciation of his fame: on the contrary, properly considered, it enhances it; for no man can work without instruments; and it is justly thought one of the most unerring proofs of a powerful mind, to gain that ascendency over men of singular abilities, and direct them to some great object. He must have possessed a great mass of character to exact that attention, and compel such persons to revolve around him.
Along with the effect of the rent, the press, speeches, and provincial meetings, is to be taken into account the large influence of the Catholic priesthood. To them, much of the peaceable character which formed so striking a feature in the combination, is to be attributed, as well as of the admirable organization and spirit of the nation; for the priest is the friend of the people. But of that noble body, as our limits will not permit us to speak adequately, we must be content with this brief notice; referring the subject to the reader's more attentive consideration.
From the day of the first establishment of the Rent, the Association advanced, with scarce a curb, in power and authority. Rent, subscribers, the whole nation, poured in. As its efficiency increased-as men began to experience actual pro