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accumulated indignation or obstinacy of a popular assembly to evaporate in a harmless laugh. Endowed with this rare and powerful qualification, it is easy to see how effectually he might be sometimes called up to charm away the effect of a kindling address from Grattan, or to retort the delicate and classio wit of Curran, by a whole drove of the most rampant comicalities of Munster.
It was a frequent subject of observation that the odd style of Sir Boyle was, from time to time, set off by marks of graver and more elaborate consideration than could easily be reconciled by the general opinion entertained of his habits and character of mind. But it was not as generally known that it was usual for the members of the Irish cabinet to write speeches for him, which he committed to memory; and, while mastering the substance, generally contrived to travesty into language, and ornament with peculiar graces of his own. On many of these occasions he was primed and loaded for action by the industry of Mr Edward Cooke, who acted during several administrations as muster-master to the wisdom of the Castle. But, still, his best and most distinguishing efforts were made on those happy occasions when he was carried forward by the felicity of his own genius.
Many curious anecdotes remain to illustrate the manner and the power of his parliamentary tacties. We shall confine ourselves to one or two.
Mr Serjeant Stanley, a member who had taken very unusual pains to concoct a speech of considerable force and effect, and, to make sure of success, had committed his well-conned oration to paper, happened to sit near Sir Boyle in the coffee-room of the house, studying his speech. Suddenly the person who had been speaking ended, and Mr Stanley rushed out to seize the moment of delivery; in his hurry he missed his pocket, and let the composition drop upon the floor. Sir Boyle picked it up, and, reading it over, was fully master of the contents. He returned to the house, where Mr Stanley continued watching for his opportunity. The address of Sir Boyle anticipated him, and, when both rose, the general cry of the house decided for the wit and humorist. Sir Boyle at once gravely delivered the whole oration, word for word, to the astonishment and dismay of the enraged author, who rose and walked into the coffee-room. When Sir Boyle made an end he followed, and thus addressed the subject of his exploit:* My dear Stanley, here is your speech again, and I thank you kindly for the loan of it. I never was so much at a loss for a speech in the whole course of my life; and, sure, it is not a pin the worse for the wear, and now you may go in and speak it again yourself as soon as you please."
On another Occasion the table was loaded with an enormous pile of papers, which had been accumulated by the successive demands of one of the opposition members, with a view to illustrate some motion. When this motion was about to be proposed, it was moved, as a necessary preliminary, that the documentary mass on the table should first be read to the house by the clerk. The whole house appeared in alarm for the proposed trial of its patience, as the reading could not be completed in less than two hours. A loud murmur arose through the benches on every side, on which Sir Boyle gravely rose and moved that
a dozen or two of the committee clerks should be called in, and have the documents distributed among them, when, by reading all together, the whole might be done in a quarter of an hour. A loud laugh dissolved the cloud of impatience, and the question was postponed to enable the mover to make some more convenient arrangement.
Sir Boyle was created a baronet in 1782.
He died in Dublin in June, 1807. He was a person of much amiability, endowed with many attractive social qualities, and was regretted in a large and respectable circle.
BORN A.D. 1730.—DIED A.D. 1797. The early history of the family of Burke is generally known; it has been already traced in these volumes. The Norman race of De Burgho, though it early lost the importance derived from extensive territorial acquisitions and princely rank, has yet, like the Geraldines and Butlers, survived the ruin of the feudal system, and still continues to be represented high among the Irish peerage. But the distinctions of high rank, and the honours of illustrious ancestry, lose much of their factitious lustre compared with the proud distinction of the noblest name that has ever graced the records of Irish worth and genius. The immediate family of Edmund Burke had been early settled in the county of Galway, and afterwards in the county of Limeriek. In the latter county, his direct ancestors were deprived of large possessions, in the troubles of 1641.
A small estate, of about £300 per annum, near Castletown Roche, in the vicinity of Mallow and Doneraile, descended to Garret, the elder brother of Edmund Burke. Their father was an attorney; he lived on Arran Quay, in Dublin. He married a Miss Nagle, of Mallow, and had by her fourteen children, none of whom survived their infancy but Garret, Edmund, Richard, and Juliana. Of these, occasional notices may occur in the course of this memoir.
Edmund Burke was born at his father's house, in Dublin, January, 1730. His childhood was sickly, and the consumptive habit, which had probably carried off so many of his brothers and sisters, in his case menaced the same result. During the period of his youth, he was subject to a pain in the side, which disabled him from the ordinary amusements of youth, so that he mostly spent in study those intervals in which his brothers were at play. As his delicate health was thought to require a removal to the country, he was sent to his grandfather's house, in the county of Cork. During this sojourn, he attended as a day-scholar at a neighbouring school, kept by a person of the name of O'Halloran, where he received his first initiation in the Latin grammar. There he continued about five years, after which he was removed, first to Dublin, and then to Ballitore, where a school of great and rising reputation had then attracted considerable popularity, which was amply confirmed and justified by its subsequent history for three succeeding generations, during which it was conducted by men of distinguished talent and learning, the descendants of the original master, Abraham Shackleton.* It was in his twelfth year that Edmund, with his brothers, was placed in this eminent seminary. He soon attracted the more especial notice of his master, for the steadiness of his application, and the singular aptitude and vigour of his understanding. Attracted by the undoubted indications of unusual abilities, Mr Shackleton devoted a more than ordinary care to their cultivation, while he was no less careful to watch over his still delicate health, and moderate his study, so as to ensure the greatest profit to his mind, with the least fatigue to his body.
Among those of his schoolfellows most known in after life were Dr Brocklesby, the eminent physician; Dr Kearney; Thomas Bushe; and several other characters well known in the literary circles of Dublin and London. But the favoured friend of these years was Richard Shackleton, the only son and successor of his master. The chief memorials of Burke's early years are from the accounts given by this gentleman to an intimate friend. Among these may be noticed, his speculative temper-his love of solitary pursuits and musings—a certain reserve to strangers, who mostly regarded his brother Richard as the more bright and promising, an opinion not participated in by his master or father. He showed an early predilection for history and poetry, and appears to have also indulged to a considerable extent his love for the old romances. His affections were warm; and, among his youthful associates, he was more addicted to indulge in conversation, than in their lighter and more active amusements. In conversation, he early began to show the copious language, the mastery of his material, and the discursive and free communicativeness, which were such remarkable features of his maturer life. His early animosity against oppression, and sympathy with human sufferings and wrongs, was also at this time an object of remark. A rational and manly liberality of political feeling, checked by that love of order which is mostly attendant on a high state of moral civilization, was then, and has ever been, characteristic of the quaker society of Ballitore: and a spirit so congenial to the temper and genius of Burke, could not fail to obtain an early and vigorous hold of his affections. His early connexions were composed out of both those parties by whose animosities Ireland has been agitated, degraded, and depressed; to this may, in some measure, be attributed the early impartiality of his opinions on the subject of the penal laws against popery.
In the spring of 1744, he entered the University of Dublin, as a pensioner, under Dr Pelisier. In the university, while he applied with the necessary attention to the well-selected course of study prescribed to the students, he was induced, by the naturally compre. hensive scope of his intellect, to take a far wider range than could have been suited to ordinary powers. The first prominent effect was not only perceptible in his conversation; it, in a great degree, diminished the attention which a youth of his habits of mind would otherwise have given to the studies of his class. These he simply pursued as parts of useful or essential reading, and not in the spirit of youthful emulation. In him, ambition was repressed by the sense of superiority. There were none who had the most remote pretension to be regarded as objeets of competition: nor, among his fellow-students, is it to be presumed that there were many who could not perceive and allow the easy superiority of a mind not of their order. His general diligence in the studies of the place, is, nevertheless, satisfactorily ascertained by the scholarship which he obtained at the usual time. He had previously obtained at least one classical prize in his senior freshman year, as has been proved by the evidence of the prize book seen by Mr Prior, who mentions the circumstance in his memoir; and it is not to be supposed that he could have acquired the classical knowledge sufficient for the attainment of a scholarship, without having also been successful at the quarterly examinations. The error seems to have arisen by hastily concluding, from an assumption (probably correct) that he manifested no anxiety for college honours, and therefore he did not obtain them.
* Of this family and school we shall have a distinct notice to offer.
He is said to have given much attention to metaphysics, for which his writings indicate some talent and much inclination. Hume and Berkeley are mentioned as having more specially won his attention. His essay on the sublime and beautiful may be referred to as illustrative of this early tendency; and perhaps, in some slight degree, as affording a measure of his metaphysical powers. Of this we shall presently speak more at large. Happily, he was not seduced very far into a path so unprofitable; but, having early stored his mind with materials too various, weighty, useful, and abundant, to leave room or inclination for the word-splitting pursuits of the schools; and having an understanding far too earnest, active, and vigorous, to be satisfied with such reasonings and such results, he turned his attention to the interests of his country and mankind.
The same colloquial gifts, altogether, we believe, unparalleled in abundance, scope, or brilliancy, which form so very remarkable a portion of the character of Burke, were developed at an early age: we cannot doubt that these were mainly instrumental in the formation of his intellectual tendencies. The fluency, sometimes observable in persons of narrow attainment, may be the means of confirming prejudices; and, by trite repetitions, turning the intellect into fixed channels of thought and matter: it still oftener generates a habit of thinking crudely: the glib freedom of the rapid brain glides smoothly over depths, and, unchecked by difficulties it fails to perceive, quickly gains it point. On the other hand, it may have been observed, and often felt, that in proportion as the understanding becomes matured and stored with solid information, persons of considerable intelligence begin to find an increasing hesitation in all unstudied communication on the subject of their studies. To these rules Mr Burke was the exception; his copiousness, founded on the overflow of his matter, was maintained by faculties superior to the difficulties by which ordinary men are liable to be retarded and embarrassed. Habitually conversant with the depths and refinements of his own thoughts--rapid in his intellectual movements—keen to see and seize upon the relations of things-his common and familiar thoughts ranged far above and round the conversation of his associates. His spirit moved at ease under the armour which might incumber less massive powers. Social in his temper and affections, he was no less himself in the lighter play of human intercourse. Ever cheerful, kindly, and full of the happiest spirits-playful from the activity of his mind-gentle and courteous from the very absence of all sense of emulation, he accommodated himself to the understandings of his company and to the temper of the hour. His fund of anecdote was inexhaustible; his narrative graceful, easy, and pointed; his wit was in such keeping with the occasion, that it was rather felt than distinctly noted; it was the brilliant and tinted ripple on the perpetual stream. With such rare and singular attractions, his company was acceptable in every circle, and he rose almost at once to a distinction beyond his standing or station in society. The same qualifications of address and conversation which drew from Dr Johnson the well-known remark, that “if Burke were to go into a stable to give directions about his horse, the hostler would say, we have had an extraordinary man here,"-an observation frequently repeated under various forms by Johnson—was often and most characteristically exemplified by very many incidents to be found among the biographers of Burke.
Among the remains of his earliest literary productions, during this interval of his life, a translation of part of the second Georgic of Virgil, written in his sixteenth year, is very remarkable for the power, harmony, and finish of its style, which we bave no hesitation in affirming to be at least equal to Dryden's best execution in the same work. Nor are the few specimens which we have seen of his attempts at original composition inferior in their general merits; so as indeed to prove that he must have occupied no less a place as one of the first of our poets, than he was destined to fill as a statesman and an orator. He was indeed an early and devoted student of the higher class of English poets—a study congenial to his taste and understanding, and yielding to none as the best and purest vehicle of profound and just thinking on man and his concerns. Young he could repeat: Milton he studied in the spirit recommended by Horace—“ Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.” It was his custom in after life to recommend this great poet, as displaying the loftiest range of human intellect of any other English writer: and we cannot doubt but many must, in the perusal of his speeches, have felt how deeply the tone and manner of the poet had blended with, and tinged the conceptions of, the orator. There was indeed a strong analogy of intellectual frame between them -two master spirits, each the first in his class—the same high and unwearying range of intelligence, the same enthusiasm, the same powers of remote and original combination, and the same power of giving tint and form to their thoughts. In both there was an earnest tendency to seek the vast, the profound, the solemn, and the wonderful -the same deep reverence for antiquity--the same firm and free sense of the inalienable rights of humanity. If the orator was less than the poet in the faculty of imagination, he will be allowed to have been superior in the grasp of a most vigorous and practical reason.
Among the earliest efforts of Burke's pen, which may be regarded as indicative of his future career, were some essays, in imitation of Dr Lucas, then in the height of his reputation. Of this person we have