[blocks in formation]

arms the tainted and faithless woman who had betrayed him; he refused to expose himself to the scorn of the world and his own contempt;-he submitted to misery; he could not brook dishonor."

*Since the above article was written [it was published in October, 1822], Mr. Bushe has been raised to the office of Chief Justice of the King's Bench, in consequence of the resignation of Mr. Downes, who has at last proved himself possessed of the Christian virtue which Mr. Bushe used to say was the only one he wanted.


MR. SAURIN is the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, who followed the duties of his pious but humble calling in the north of Ireland. His grandfather was a French Protestant, who, after the revocation of the edict of Nantz, sought an asylum in Ireland. He is said to have belonged to the family of the celebrated preacher of his name." Mr. Saurin was educated in the University of Dublin. It does not appear that he was distinguished by any signal proficiency, either in literature or in science. A collegiate reputation is not a necessary precursor to professional success. He was called to the bar in the year 1780. His progress was slow, and for thirteen years he remained almost unknown. Conscious of his secret merits, he was not disheartened, and employed that interval in accumulating the stores of legál knowledge. He had few qualities, indeed, which were calculated to bring him into instantaneous notice. He wrought his way with an obscure diligence, and, indeed, it was necessary that he should attain the light by a long process of exfodation.

To this day, there is too frequent an exhibition of boisterous ability at the Irish bar; but in the olden time, the qualifi

* William Saurin, born in 1757, was called to the Irish bar in 1780, received a patent of precedence (immediately after the Prime Sergeant, Attorney and Solicitor General) in July, 1798, was made Attorney-General in May, 1807, and retained that office until January, 1822, when Mr. Plunket succeeded him. It was expected, from his high attainments, and the return of his party to office, that he would have succeeded Sir Anthony Hart, as Chancellor, in 1830. Mr. Saurin, although a strong political partisan, had many personal friends, even among his opporrents. His honor, honesty, and ability, were unimpeached. He died in Dublin, in February, 1839, in his eighty-third year.—M.

[blocks in formation]

cations of a lawyer were measured in a great degree by his powers of vociferation. Mr. Saurin was imperfectly versed in the stentorian logic which prevailed in the roar of Irish nisi prius; neither had he the matchless imperturbability of front, to which the late Lord Clonmel* was indebted for his brazen

* John Scott, who eventually became Earl of Clonmel, Chief-Justice of Ireland, was born in June, 1739. His parents were in a very humble rank of life. While at school, he rendered some small service to young (afterward Lord) Carleton, whose father went to the expense of sending him to college, and of his call to the Irish bar. He speedily rose to eminence, and entered the Irish Parliament on the recommendation of Lord Lifford, then Chancellor. In 1774 he was made Solicitor, and in 1777 Attorney-General, which he remained until 1782. He was made Chief-Justice of the King's Bench in 1784-with which office he also held the rich sinecure of Clerk of the Pleas in the Court of Exchequer and was created an Irish peer, as Baron Erlsfort. In 1789, he was made Viscount Clonmel, and was further advanced to an Earldom in 1793. He died in May, 1798, leaving a fortune of twenty-two thousand pounds sterling a year. This man, whose talents were great, may be said to have got on by sheer impudence and bullying. He knew the world well, and how to play his cards in it. Where argument would not succeed, he endeavored to defeat his opponent by duelling. Among others, he fought with Curran. He was master of sarcasm and ridicule, and unscrupulous in their use. In private life, he was amiable, witty, and agreeable; full of anecdote, indelicate and coarse, but amusing. On the bench he was overbearing, particularly to Curran, his old opponent. Having publicly insulted Mr. Hackett, one of their body, the bar held a meeting, at which they resolved, with only one dissentient voice," that until his Lordship publicly apologized, no barrister would either take a brief, appear in the King's Bench, or sign any pleadings for that Court." Accordingly, when the Judges sat, neither counsel nor attorneys were to be seen. The result was, that the Chief-Justice, Lord Clonmel, published an apology in the newspapers, which was adroitly dated as if written on the evening of the offence, and before the meeting of the bar, therefore voluntary. Some time before he died, a report of his illness got out. "Do you believe it?" said some one to Curran. The reply was, "I believe that he is scoundrel enough to live or die, just as it suits his own convenience." His personal appearance was remarkable. He had an immense hanging pair of cheeks-vulgarly called jowls—and a huge treble chin, to correspond. Looking back, toward the close of his political career, as behooves all men to do as they pass into the shadows of the valo of life, Lord Clonmel is said to have remarked, “As to myself, if I were to begin life again, I would rather be a chimney-sweeper than connected with the Irish Government." Two of Lord Clonmel's maxims are worthy of being remembered. One was, "Whatever may be done in the course of the week, always do on Monday morning." The other, which he gave as applicable to married life, was-"Never do anything for peace-sake: if you do, you buy all

coronet; but his substantial deserts were sure to appear at last. If he could not fly, he had the strength and the tenacity requisite to climb. His rivals were engaged in the pursuit of political distinction and oratorical renown; all his labors, as well as his predilections, were confined to his profession. While others were indulging in legislative meditations, he was buried in the common law. An acute observer would have seen in his unostentatious assiduity the omen of a tardy but secure A splendid intellect will, in all likelihood, ascend to permanent eminence, but the odds of good fortune are in favor of the less conspicuous faculties.


Plunket and Saurin have risen to an equality in professional distinction; but, when they both commenced their career, upon a sober calculation, the chances would have been found, I think, upon the side of the latter. Like the slow camel and the Arabian courser, both may be fitted to the desert; and, although the more aspiring and fleeter spirit may traverse in a shorter period the waste of hardships and discouragement which lies. between it and success, while, with all its swiftness and alacrity, it requires an occasional relief from some external source of refreshment and of hope: yet, bearing its restoratives in itself, the more slow and persevering mind pursues its progress with an unabated constancy, and often leaves its more rapid but less enduring competitor drooping far behind, and exhausted by the labors of its desolate and arid course.

After many years of disappointment, perhaps, but not of despondency, Mr. Saurin's name began to be whispered in the Hall. The little business with which he had been intrusted was discharged with such efficiency, that he gradually acquired a reputation for practical utility among the attorneys of the north. Many traits of the Scotch character are observable in the Presbyterian colony which was established in that part of Ireland; and their mutuality of support is among the honorable peculiarities which mark their origin from that patriotic and self-sustaining people. They may be said to advance unfuture tranquillity only by concession." When asked if this last were his own rule of practice, he confessed that it was not, as a philosopher had an easier life of it than a soldier!-M.



der a testudo. It is remarked at the Irish bar that a northern attorney seldom employs a southern advocate. Mr. Saurin, though descended from a Gallic progenitor, had, I believe, some auspicious mixture of Caledonian blood (with a French face, he has a good deal of the Scotchman in his character); and that circumstance, together with the locality of his birth, gave him claims to the patronage of the attorneys of his circuit. Those arbiters of fortune recognised his merits. It was soon perceived by these sagacious persons that a good argument is more valuable than a flower of speech, and that the lawyer who nonsuits the plaintiff is as efficacious as the advocate who draws tears from the jury.

Mr. Saurin's habits of despatch were also a signal recommendation. To this day, under a pressure of various occupancy, he is distinguished for a regularity and promptitude, which are not often to be found among the attributes of the leading members of the Irish Bar. Most, indeed, of their more eminent advocates are "illustrious diners-out." It is provoking to see the fortunes of men hanging in miserable suspense upon their convivial procrastinations. Mr. Saurin still presents an exemplary contrast to these dilatory habits; and it is greatly creditable to him that he should persevere, from a sense of duty in a practice which was originally adopted as a means of success.

The first occasion on which he appears to have grown into general notice, was afforded at a contested election. At that period, which was about sixteen years after he had been called to the bar, a lawyer at an Irish election was almost a gladiator by profession; his pistols were the chief implements of reasoning to which he thought it necessary to resort. "Ratio ultima," the motto which the great Frederick caused to be engraven upon his cannon,* would not have been an inappro


George III. presented "the Great Lord Clive" (as he is called, to distinguish him from the small-minded inheritors of his title) with one of the cannon which had been captured, by Lord C., in the Indian wars. This piece of ordnance, which remains at Powis Castle, in Wales (the seat of the Clive family), has engraven on it an inscription, stating the donor's name, but the sentence "Ultima ratio regum" (the last argument of Kings) is certainly a curious motto on a royal gift. — M.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »