There was also too ready a proffer of the hand to his old friends, who gave him a warm but a silent squeeze.

I thought him a subject for study, and followed him into the Court of Chancery. He discharged his business with more than his accustomed diligence and skill;-but when his part was done, and he bent his head over a huge brief, the pages of which he seemed to turn without a consciousness of their contents, I have heard him heave at intervals a low sigh. When he returned again to the Hall, I have observed him in a moment of professional leisure while he was busied with his own solitary thoughts, and I could perceive a gradual languor stealing over the melancholy mirth which he had been personating before. His figure, too, was bent and depressed, as he walked back to the Court of Chancery; and before he passed through the green curtains which divide it from the Hall, I have seen him pause for an instant and throw a look at the King's Bench. It was momentary, but too full of expression to be casual, and seemed to unite in its despondency a deep sense of the wrong which he had sustained from his friends, and the more painful injury which he had inflicted upon himself.

If Rembrandt were living in our times, he should paint a portrait of Saurin: his countenance and deportment would afford an appropriate subject to the shadowy pencil of that great artist. There should be no gradual melting of colors into each other; there should be no softness of touch, and no nice variety of hue; there should be no sky-no flowers-no drapery-no marble; but a grave and sober-minded man should stand upon the canvass, with the greater proportion of his figure in opacity and shadow, and with a strong line of light breaking through a monastic window upon his corrugated brow. His countenance is less serene than tranquil; it has much deliberate consideration, but little depth or wisdom; its whole expression is peculiarly quiet and subdued. His eye is black and wily, and glitters under the mass of a rugged and shaggy eyebrow. There is a certain sweetness in its glance, some what at variance with the general indications of character which are conveyed in his look. His forehead is thoughtful,


165 but neither bold nor lofty. It is furrowed by long study and

recent care.

There is a want of intellectual elevation in his aspect, but he has a cautious shrewdness and a discriminating perspicacity. With much affability and good nature about the mouth, in the play of its minuter expression, a sedate and permanent vindictiveness may readily be found. His features are broad and deeply founded, but they are not blunt; without being destitute of proportion, they are not finished with delicacy or point. His dress is like his manners, perfectly plain and remarkable for its neat propriety. He is wholly free from vulgarity, and quite denuded of accomplishment. He is of the middle size, and his frame, like his mind, is compact and well knit together. There is an intimation of slowness and suspicion in his movements, and the spirit of caution seems to regulate his gait. He has nothing of the Catilinarian walk,* and it might be readily conjectured that he was not destined for a conspirator.

His whole demeanor bespeaks neither dignity nor meanness. There is no fraud about him; but there is a disguise of his emotions which borders upon guile. His passions are violent, and are rather covered than suppressed: they have little effect upon his exterior-the iron stove scarcely glows with the intensity of its internal fire. He looks altogether a worldly and sagacious man-sly, cunning, and considerate-not ungenerous, but by no means exalted-with some sentiment, and no sensibility kind in his impulses, and warped by involuntary prejudice: gifted with the power of dissembling his own feelings, rather than of assuming the character of other men: more acute than comprehensive, and subtle than refined: a man of point and of detail: no adventurer either in conduct or speculation: a lover of usage, and an enemy to innovation: perfectly simple and unaffected: one who can bear adversity well, and prosperity still better: a little downcast in ill-fortune, and not at all supercilious in success: something of a republican

The passage in which Sallust describes the peculiar walk of the great Conspirator runs thus: "Igitur color exsanguis, fœdi oculi, citus modo, modo tardus incessus." -M.

by nature, but fashioned by circumstances into a tory: moral, but not pious: decent, but not devout: honorable, but not chivalrous: affectionate, but not tender: a man who could go far to serve a friend, and a good way to hurt a foe: and, take him for all in all, a useful and estimable member of society.

I have mentioned his French origin, and it is legibly expressed in his lineaments and hue. In other countries, one, national physiognomy prevails through the mass of the people. In every district and in every class we meet with a single character of face. But in Ireland, the imperfect grafting of colonization is easily perceived in the great variety of countenance which is everywhere to be found: the notches are easily discerned upon the original stock.

The Dane of Kildare is known by his erect form, his sanded complexion, his blue and independent eye, and the fairness of his rich and flowing hair. The Spaniard in the west, shows among the dominions of Mr. Martin,* his swarthy features and his black Andalusian eye. A Presbyterian church in the north, exhibits a quadrangular breadth of jawbone, and a shrewd sagacity of look in its calculating and moral congregation, which the best Baillie in Glasgow would not disown. Upon the southern mountain and in the morass, the wild and haggard face of the aboriginal Irishman is thrust upon the traveller, through the aperture in his habitation of mud which pays the double debt of a chimney and a door. His red and strongly-curled hair, his angry and courageous eye, his short *Richard Martin, described by Moore as one who


The houseless wilds of Connemara,"

was member of Parliament for many years, representing the county of Galway, in which he possessed very large landed estates. He succeeded in passing on act for the prevention and punishment of cruelty to animals, and was a humane but eccentric man. His son, Thomas Martin, succeeded him as owner of the vast Connemara estate-a domain once larger than the territory of many a reigning German Prince. On his death, his daughter, Mrs. Bell Martin, came into possession, but the estates were sold to satisfy greedy money-lenders, and as the amount realized was too small, she came to New York, to earn her living by literature. Her novel of "Julia Howard," reprinted here, was very clever. She had written other works in French. She died in New York, on November 7, 1850, worthy of a better fate than exile and poverty.-M.



and blunted features, thrown at hazard into his countenance, and that fantastic compound of intrepidity and cunning, of daring and of treachery, of generosity and of falsehood, of fierceness and of humor, and of absurdity and genius, which is conveyed in his expression, is not inappropriately discovered in the midst of crags and bogs, and through the medium of smoke. When he descends into the city, this barbarian of art (for he has been made so by the landlord and the law-nature never intended him to be, so), presents a singular contrast to the high forehead, the regular features, and pure complexion of the English settler.

To revert to Mr. Saurin (from whom I ought not, perhaps, to have deviated so far), there is still greater distinctness, as should be the case, from their proximity to their source, in the descendants from the French Protestants who obtained an asy lum in Ireland. The Huguenot is stamped upon them ;* I can read in their faces, not only the relics of their country, but of their religion. They are not only Frenchmen in color, but Calvinists in expression. They are serious, grave, and almost sombre, and have even a shade of fanaticism diffused over the worldliness by which they are practically characterized. Mr. Saurin is no fanatic; on the contrary, I believe that his only test of the true religion is the law of the land. He does not belong to the "saint party," nor is he known by the sanctimonious avidity by which that pious and rapacious body is distinguished at the Irish bar. Still there is a touch of John Calvint upon him, and he looks the fac-simile of an old Protestant professor of logic whom I remember to have seen in one of the colleges at Nismes.

I have enlarged upon the figure and aspect of this eminent barrister, because they intimate much of his mind. In his capacity as an advocate in a court of equity, he deserves great *The French Catholics gave the nick-name of Huguenots brothers, but the derivation of the word is uncertain. It middle of the sixteenth century.-M.

their Protestant not used until the

↑ John Calvin was a Frenchman. Differing from Luther, on many points of doctrine and discipline, he established a schism less tolerant and more severe than simple Protestantism. Unable to convert Servetus, he calmly consigned him to the flames" for the love of God!"-M.


encomium. He is not a great case-lawyer. He is not like. Sergeant Lefroy, an ambulatory index of discordant names; he is stored with knowledge: principle is not merely deposited in his memory, but inlaid and tesselated in his mind: it enters into his habitual thinking. No man is better versed in the art of putting facts: he brings with a peculiar felicity and skill the favorable parts of his client's case into prominence, and shows still greater acuteness in suppressing, or glossing over whatever may be prejudicial to his interests. He invests the most hopeless, and I will even add, the most dishonest cause, with a most deceitful plausibility; and the total absence of all effort, and the ease and apparent sincerity of his manner, give him at times a superiority even to Plunket himself, who, by the energy into which he is hurried at moments his more ardent and eloquent temperament, creates a suspicion that it must be a bad cause which requires so much display of power. In hearing the latter, you are perpetually thinking of him and his faculties; in hearing Saurin, you remember nothing but the cause he disappears in the facts.

Saurin also shows singular tact in the management of the Court. Lord-Chancellor Manners is actually bewildered by Plunket: it is from his Lordship's premises that he argues against him he entangles him in a net of sophistry wrought out of his own suggestion. This is not very agreeable to human vanity, and Chancellors are men. Saurin, on the other hand, accommodates himself to every view of the Court. He gently and insensibly conducts his Lordship to a conclusionPlunket precipitates him into it at once. But Lord Manners struggles hard upon the brink, and often escapes from his grasp.

In this faculty of adaptation to the previous opinions and character of the judge whom he addresses, I consider Saurin as perhaps the most useful advocate in the Court of Chancery

at the same time, in reach of thought, variety of attribute, versatility of resource, and power of diction, he is far inferior to his distinguished successor in office. But Plunket is a sena

* The subject of a subsequent sketch, and now [1854] Chief-Justice of Ireland.-M.

« VorigeDoorgaan »