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was most favourable to the success of the efforts which were made to rouse the Catholics to exertion in 1823. The Avatar contains merciless reproaches upon the Irish people for the adulation with which they hailed the approach of the King, and also betrays a very partial judgment upon the point at issue. Lord Byron, however, did not understand the nature of Irish politics, and was but imperfectly acquainted with our history when he ventured to adopt Grattan as a standard of Irish patriotism, in contrast to the degenerate patriots of the day. Lord Fingal was created a Knight of St. Patrick upon the occasion, which considering his disfranchised state, as a Catholic Peer, was a piece of solemn mockery, too glaring to escape the noble poet's saire :
“ Will thy yard of blue ribbon, poor Fingal, recall
The fetters from millions of Catholic limbs ?-
The slaves, who now hail their betrayer with hymns ?”
In many of his compositions, Lord Byron evinced a disposition in favour of Catholicity. In the 15th canto of Don Juan, his description of Aurora Raby, a young Catholic lady, forms a strong contrast to the frivolous characters he grouped along with her :
“ She was a Catholic, too, sincere, austere,
As far as her own gentle heart allowed,
Perhaps because 'twas fallen. Her sires were proud
Of nations, and had never bent or bowed
She held toeir old faith and feelings fast.'
The publication of the “ Memoirs of Captain Rock,” in the Spring of 1824, drew the attention of every mind capable of being acted upon by the union of wit and genius to the consideration of the Catholic cause; and many, who had never read a page of the history of Ireland, were made acquainted with its details by means of the brilliant epitome which now
forced them to its perusal. The barbarity of the penal law, and the despicable tyranny with which they were administered, were exposed in language calculated to produce emotion in the dullest minds, while their unphilosophical nature and futility were made apparent by a course of argument that defied the cavils of the critic, and remained indelibly fixed upon the memory. To the author of the work Ireland had long been indebted for the general participation of a new feeling of nationality: from the poetry of the “ Irish Melodies," the people of Ireland caught a spirit unknown to their forefathers. Tenacious of the fame and honour of their individual septs, the ancient Irish were too much engaged in provincial contentions to entertain feelings of general patriotism, ana therefore their attachment to country was only of that qualified and contracted nature which the subdivisions of clanship afforded. The effect produced by the Irish Melodies is an additional proof of the influence which the ballads of a nation have upon the character of its inhabitants. A spirit, formerly unknown and unfelt, extended itself into every district where the beautiful poetry of the patriot Minstrel was heard. The political leaders of the Catholics enriched their harangues with quotations from the beautiful songs of their country, and Mr. O'Connell seldom addressed his countrymen upon the subject of their wrongs, without selecting from Moore's inspired com positions some lofty sentiment, to serve as a leading motto for the struggle in which he was engaged.
Lord Byron did not live to read his friend Moore's “ Memoirs of Captain Rock.” He died within a few days of its publication, in the month of April, 1824.
The year 1824 is remarkable for the publication of literary compositions of transcendent merit, bearing on the Catholic question. Doctor Doyle's letters, under the signature of J. K. L., created a general interest, by their argument and eloquence. In the poetical department, Mr. Thomas Furlong, a young author, also at the same time drew the public mind to a keen and brilliant satire, entitled, “ The Plagues of Ireland. Perhaps no composition of similar merit ever yet came forth in
a form so humble and unpretending. It now lies before us, a thin duodecimo of forty pages, contained in a blue cover, which gives it more the appearance of a pass-book than a poem of superior rank. It was originally sold for a few pence, and extensively circulated in Ireland. The intention of the author was thus avowed :- “ To those who may have heard of our wrongs—to those who know that we have been injuredto those who are aware of our past sufferings, but who know not the nature or character of those under which we still labour—to such, in the absence of a more formal statement, I shall venture to offer the following little sketch. They may find in it many things that will lead them to think-they will behold in it at least a free and unflattering delineation of character—a hasty picturing of our more prominent evils, a rude but fearless grouping of some of those master-nuisances that must be remedied or removed, before the harassed land can calculate upon the enjoyment of tranquillity.”
The style of the satire somewhat resembles the celebrated epistles of Phelim O'Connor, in the Fudge Family, The same captious spirit of discontent runs through every line, but without incurring the charge of imitation. The poem opens
" Ask not for tidings! can this blasted soil
Aught fitting friendship’s hand, or wisdom's eye ?" 'The first character selected for portraiture was the Marquis Wellesley, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
“ Talk not of Wellesley ! though there was a time Wben that high name stood forth in prose aud rhymne ;