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DANIEL O'CONNELL, ESQ.
be avoided we discover in the general sentiment of detestation, which attends the perpetration of crime. The propriety of the former and the deformity of the latter, quickly excites our emulation and abhorrence. We soon establish a general rule for the regulation of our conduct, which receives full confirmation from the opinion of the rest of mankind. It is thus that the general rules of morality are formed. They are ulti- . mately founded upon experience of what in particular instances our moral faculties, our natural sense of merit and propriety approve or disapprove of. We do not originally approve or condemn particular actions, because upon examination they appear to be agreeable or inconsistent with a certain general rule. The regard to those general rules of conduct, is what is properly called a sense of duty, a principle of the greatest consequence of human life, and the only principle by which the bulk of mankind are capable of directing their actions. Without this sacred regard to general rules, there is no man, whose conduct can be much depended upon.
It is this which constitutes the most essential difference between a man of principle and honour and a worthless fellow. The one adheres on all occasions, steadily and resolutely to his maxims, and preserves through the whole of his life one even tenor of conduct. The other acts variously and accidentally, as humour, inclination, or interest chances to be uppermost. The moralists have nearly exhausted their strength in descanting on the importance of these rules of conduct, in order to show that on the most scrupulous and attentive observance of them depends the very existence and happiness of human society, and which would crumble into nothing, if mankind were not generally impressed with a reverence for them.
With these preliminary observations, we turn to the mode of education adopted with the subject of this memoir. Nine cities contended for the honour of having given birth to Homer and three places may claim the honour of having contributed to the education of Daniel O'Connell. Having been emancipated from the trammels of his domestic tutor, who as far as propriæ qui maribus or arma virumque cano extended, was
well able to infuse into the mind of his pupil the beauties of the Roman classics, but who in regard to his knowledge of the world, or of those abstract sciences, which ought to have formed a part of the education of the heir apparent to the uncrowned sovereignty of Iveragh, was as lamentably deficient as the good monks of Mount St. Bernard, who though living in the world, and on the world, are as ignorant of the affairs of it as if they had fixed their residence in the very nucleus of the earth. To the good priests of the Dominican fraternity at Louvain was young O'Connell first assigned, then and there to be perfected in such knowledge and scientific wisdom, as the holy men had contrived to pick up during their restricted intercourse with the human world.
That this stock was not of any great magnitude, may easily be imagined, and at the same time it may be easily conceived that the austere and chilling manner in which their instruction was administered, was by no means calculated to instil into a mind like that of O'Connell any other sentiment than an aversion from the system, although at the same time, he might respect and esteem the individuals to whose care he was entrusted. The monasteries of France were at that time the great nurseries for Irish priests, and it has been generally supposed that young O'Connell was sent thither to educate him for the church. Whatever, however, might have been the intention of his parents, it is evident that strongly as he showed himself attached to the creed of his forefathers, sedulous as he showed himself in the acquisition of theological knowledge, and attentive as he was in the observance of all the ceremonies and formula of his religion, yet the dull uniformity of the monastic life ill accorded with that intense feeling, which exhibited itself in his character at an early period, and which plainly indicated that the cloister was not the sphere in which his intellectual energies were to display themselves. He is said to have stood by the graves of the good and holy men, who had grown grey in the cells of the monastry, whose life had been one dull monotony, and who with the exception of the regular performance of their clerical duties, had passed their days in inglorious ease, unknown to
the world, their being and their name, and at that moment would arise within him, the glowing aspirations of a noble ambition, which carried him to the green isle of his birth, and showed him in the perspective of his future life, the great achievements that could be done, where power and genius unite to rule the destiny of a nation, and break the chains, which tyranny and despotism have forged to enthral the human mind.
A monastic education is seldom one of an enlarged or scientific nature; the teachers themselvs being in general men of contracted ideas, who have mingled little in the world, and who are necessarily ignorant of those advancements which literature and sciences have made for the promotion of general and individual happiness. The patriot or the philosopher is rarely formed in the gloomy cloisters of the monastery, for the course of education is so restricted and so confined to a few objects, that the mind which under a more liberal method would have greatly and nobly expanded itself, becomes warped and stinted in its growth, and taking its views of things through a contracted medium, feels itself on its entrance into the world to cope with any of those great and important subjects on which the welfare of nations is founded, and which ultimately lead to the gradual perfectibility of the human race. Thus on the departure of young O'Connell from the control of his monastic tutors, his mind was richly stored with classical knowledge derived from the study of the works of the great men of antiquity which he was permitted to read, but from the majority of which he was debarred by the religious scruples of the individuals to whom his education was entrusted. It cannot, however, be denied that O'Connell brought with him from the cloister many of those peculiarities which belong solely to the ecclesiastical, office, and even some of his intontations and accents in public speaking appear at the present day to intimate that he once considered himself in a more close connection than that of a mere layman with the community amongst whom he was educated.
There is little doubt that Daniel was destined by his pa.