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1829, did the expectation of ultimate independence yield to despair.
It is to the difference of their faith from that of their con. querors,
that the modern Greeks are indebted for their liberation. “ They had, luckily," said Moore, in hie Life of Lord Byron, “in a political as well as religious point of view, preserved that sacred line of distinction between themselves and their conquerors, which a fond fidelity to an ancient church alone could have maintained for them; and thus kept holily in reserve against the hour of struggle, that most stirring of all the excitements to which freedom can appeal, when she points to her flame, rising out of the censor of religion."
“I remember," says one of the most eminent writers of the present day, “ in the spring of 1824, having gone to the chapel house of St. Michael's and John's to see a collection of the portraits of those senators who had supported the claims of the Catholics in the Irish and Imperial Parliaments. The portraits were mostly engravings, of various styles and dimensions, taken from original paintings. This fancy to collect them was conceived and put into execution by Mr. James Edward Devereux of the county of Wexford, one of the delegates of 1793. The custom of having engravings made from portraits of distinguished persons, painted by Lawrence, enabled him to procure a number of likenesses ; but the majority seemed to corsist of prints which were intended to illustrate periodicals ang other works. When the indefatigable collector had arranged his portraits, he deposited them in two large rooms belonging to the chapel-house, where they remained several years, vntil they were finally transmitted to the guardianship of the Nuns of Ranelagh Convent, in whose custody I believe they still remain. I looked over the portraits of the numerous emancipators with that degree of interest which the individual fame of each might awaken, and but one name from amongst the many that encountered, yet retains a place in my recollection. It was a fine mezzotinto print, taken from Westall's celebrated portrait , and appended to which was the following intimation:
“ Our friend Lord Byron.” I gazed on the portrait with an interest by the recent tidings of his death which had reached Dublin a few days before. The person who had distributed the pictures on the walls inadvertently placed the portrait of the noble poet in a situation which somewhat resembled the gloom and retirement that he himself was wont to prefer.
It was hung up in the shade of a recess where the light was scarcely strong enough to distinguish the likeness, and where scarcely more than the deep shades of his features were discernible. “ Yes !" said I, “truly may they designate him ‘our friend.' He did not avail himself of our cause merely for the showy themes which it afforded, nor did he give his vote for our enfranchisement in the hope of its futility, like many of those amongst whom he is here confounded.” It was from his mind that O'Connell caught and adopted the talismanic motto—“ Hereditary bondsmen, know ye not, who would be free, themselves must strike the blow !” and although it was applied to the prostrate Greeks, it served to liberate the disfranchised Irish.
The second speech ever made by Lord Byron in the House of Peers was upon the Catholic cause; it is peculiarly characteristic of his disposition ; full of bitterness and invective in its allusions to the opponents of the measure, and occasionally digressing into argument, only to strengthen the spirit of satire. He also contrived to combine in his derail almost every wrong which Ireland endured. “ Suppose, said he, “the Irish were contented under their disabilities; suppose them capable of such a bull as not to desire deliverrance, ought we not to wish for it ourselves? Have we nothing to gain by their emancipation? What resources have been wasted—what talents have been lost, by the selfish system of exclusion? You already know the value of Irish aid—at this moment the defence of England is entrusted to the Irish militia—at this moment, while the starving people are rising in the fierceness of despair, the Irish are faithful to their trust. But till equal energy is imparted throughout, by the extension of freedom, you cannot enjoy the full benefit of
the strength which you are glad to interpose between you and destruction. Ireland has done much, but will do more. At this moment, the only triumph obtained, through long years of continental disaster, has been achieved by an Irish General: it is true, he is not a Catholic; had he been so, we should have been deprived of his exertions; but, I presume, no one will assert that his religion would have impaired his talents, or diminished his patriotism; though in that case he must have conquered in the ranks, for he never could have commanded an army."
This language was addressed to the English Peers seventeen years before they were compelled to adopt its principle by the “ Irish General” mentioned. Lord Byron's definition of the Union, in the same speech, is powerfully impressive-“ Adieu," said he “to that union, so called, as · Lucus a non lucendo'-a union from never uniting, which in its first operation gave a death-blow to the independence of Ireland, and in its last, may be the cause of her eternal separation from this country. If it must be called a union, it is the union of the shark with his prey; the spoiler swallows up his victim, and thus they become one and indivisible. Thus has Great Britian swallowed up the Parliament- the constitution -the independence of Ireland, and refuses to disgorge even a single privilege, although for the relief of her swollen and distempered body politic."
Lord Byron’s “ Irish Avatar" contains perhaps some of the strongest satire that even his pen ever directed against any class of people in Europe. He opened upon the Irish all the violence of his displeasure, for their forgetfulness of their own wrongs, betrayed in the reception of George the Fourth, in 1821. It would require considerable space to explain the policy that actuated Mr. O'Connell in procuring for the royal visiter the homage that was conceded to him by the Catholics upon that occasion
If the welcome which he met was too warm to become the injured people by wbom it was bestowed, the fierce indignation created by the subsequent conduct of the cold blooded object upon whom it was so undeservedly lavished