Page images
PDF
EPUB

ready as high in his profession as a Catholic lawyer in Ireland could at that time rise.

In his progress to this envied elevation he had to complain of much fewer difficulties than usually attend a candidate for either the English or Irish bar in any stage of his progress. Clients multiplied around him from almost the earliest exhibition and experiment of his professional talents. The cause too of his rapid success was evidently nothing evanescent or precarious, but a manifest superiority in all the essential qualities of a sound and skilful leader.

The author of the sketches of the Irish bar in the New Monthly Magazine, understood to be a gentleman, who has had opportunities of knowing Mr. O'Connell

, bas given so interesting and lively a view of his appearance and habits, that we shall readily be excused for transcribing it.

“If any of you, my English readers, being a stranger in Dublin should chance in your return on a winter's morning from one of the small and early parties of that raking metropolis —that is to say, between the hours of five and six o'clock-to pass along the south side of Merion Square, you will not fail to observe that, among those splendid mansions, there is one evidently tenanted by a person, whose habits differ materially from those of his fashionable neighbours. The half-opened parlourshutter, and the light within, announce that some one dwells there, whose time is too precious to permit him to regulate his rising with the sun's. Should your curiosity tempt you to ascend the steps, and, under cover of the dark, to reconnoitre the interior, you will see a tall, able-bodied man standing at a desk, and immersed in solitary occupation. Upon the wall in front of him there hangs a crucifix. From this, and from the calm attitude of the person within, and from a certain monastic rotundity about his neck and shoulders, your first impression will be, that he must be some pious dignitary of the Church of Rome absorbed in his matin devotions. But this conjecture will be rejected almost as soon as formed. No sooner can the eye take in the other furniture of the apartment--the book. cases clogged with tomes in plain calf-skin binding, the blue

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

covered octavos that lie about on the tables and the floor, the reams of manuscript in oblong folds and begirt with crimson tape—than it becomes evident that the party meditating amidst such objects must be thinking far more of the law than the prophets.

“ He is, unequivocally, a barrister, but apparently of that homely, chamber-keeping, plodding cast, who labour hard to make up, by assiduity, what they want in wit; who are up and stirring before the bird of the morning has sounded the retreat to the wandering spectre—and are already brain-deep in the dizzying vortex of mortgages and cross-remainders, and mergers and remitters, while his clients, still lapped in sweet oblivion of the law's delay, are fondly dreaming that their cause is peremptorily set down for a final hearing. Having come to this conclusion, you push on for home, blessing your stars on the way that you are not a lawyer, and sincerely compassionating the sedentary drudge, whom you have just detected in the performance of his cheerless toil. But, should you happen, in the course of the same day, to stroll down to the Four Courts, you will be not a little surprised to find the object of your pity miraculously transferred from the severe recluse of the morning into one of the most bustling, important, and joyous personages in that busy scene. There you will be sure to see him, his countenance braced up and glistening with health and spirits with a huge, plethoric bag, which his robust arms can scarcely contain, clasped with paternal fondness to his breast--and environed by a living palisade of clients and attorneys, with outstretched necks and mouths, and ears agape, to catch up any chance opinion that may be coaxed out of him in a colloquial way, or listening to what the client relishes still better, for in no event can they be slided into a bill of costs—the counsellor's bursts of jovial and familiar humour; or, when he touches on a sadder strain, his prophetic assurances that the hour of Ireland's redemption is at hand. You perceive at once that you have lighted upon a great popular advocate; and, if you take the trouble to follow his movements for a couple of hours through the several courts, you will not fail to discover the qualities that have made bim so: his legal competency—his business-like habits—his sanguine temperament, which renders him not merely the advocate, but the partisan of his client—his acuteness—his fluency of thought and language-- his unconquerable good-humou—and, above all, his versatility. By the hour of three, when the judges usually rise, you will have seen him go through a quantity of business, the preparation for and performance of which would be sufficient to wear down an ordinary constitution; and you naturally suppose that the remaining portion of the day must, of necessity, be devoted to recreation or repose ; but here again you will be mistaken; for, should you feel disposed, as you return from the courts, to drop into any of the public meetings that are almost daily held, for some purpose, or to no purpose, in Dublin, to a certainty you will find the counsellor there before you, the presiding spirit of the scene, riding in the whirlwind, and directing the storm of popular debate, with a strength of lungs and a redundancy of animation as if he had that moment started fresh for the labours of the day. There he remains, until, by dint of strength or dexterity, he has carried every point; and from thence, if you would see him to the close of the day's event. ful history, you will, in all likelihood, have to follow him to a public dinner, from which, after having acted a conspicuous part in the turbulent festivity of the evening, and thrown off half-a-dozen speeches in praise of Ireland, he retires, at a late hour, to repair the wear and tear of the day by a short interval of repose: and is sure to be found, before dawn-break next morning, at his solitary post, recommencing the routine of his restless existence. Now any one who has once seen, in the preceding situation, the able-bodied, able-minded, acting, talking, multiiarious person I have boen just describing, has no occasion to inquire his name—he may be assured that he is, and can be no other than · Kerry's pride, and Munster's glory, the far-famed and indefatigable Daniel O'Connell.

“ His frame is tall, expanded, and muscular; precisely such as befits a man of the people—for the physical classes ever look

« PreviousContinue »