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with graver alternations of serious talk- -was the charm of that gay and delightful night.
In 1844, I applied to Mr. Sheil for permission to republish some of the "Sketches," and his prompt reply (of which a fac simile is given in the second volume) gave the promise of assisting me in making the selection. I was then at Oxford, and was unable to call upon him in London until the next year. He had forgotten my name, in the lapse between 1828 and 1845, but instantly recollected my person and my voice. Entering heartily into my views, he gave me whatever permission was in his power, as writer, to republish the "Sketches," wholly or in part, but doubted whether the copyright did not belong to Mr. Colburn, the proprietor of The New Monthly Magazine, for which he had written them. He gave me a list of the whole series, and further drew my attention to two other Sketches," which had appeared in the first volume of Campbell's Metropolitan Magazine in 1831. These (on Lord-Chancellor Brougham and the State of Parties in Dublin), conclude the second volume, and, in their personal details, are not inferior in interest to any which precede them.
Encouraged by the frank kindness with which I was met, I suggested the republication of all the "Sketches," and stated my idea of the manner in which they should be edited. Mr. Sheil stated his inability-from pressure of other occupations, and a distaste of the literary labor it would impose—to annotate, or even to revise the articles; but strongly urged me to act as Editor- a duty for which, he was pleased to say, I was qualified by my knowledge of politics and parties in Ireland, and my acquaintance with most of the persons of whom he had made mention. Thus encouraged, I accepted the charge, and had repeated conferences on the subject, during the following twelve months; but, in the summer of 1846, Mr. Sheil resumed office as Master of the Mint, which greatly engrossed his time, and my own was so much occupied, to the exclusion of literary labor, that I was unable then to proceed with my task, which I did not resume until recently.
A generation has passed away since the first of these 'Sketches" appeared, and, had I edited this work in England
MEMOIR OF MR. SHEIL.
I must have freely annotated it, to make its allusions to persons and things perfectly intelligible to the present race of readers. Doing it in America, I felt that this principle must be carried out yet more fully. Therefore, in the copious notes and illustrations which I have written (so copious, indeed, that my own portion in these volumes is more than two fifths of the whole),* I have endeavored to make the reader as well acquainted with every part of the subject, as I am myself. That I have been laborious I know, that I am accurate in statements and dates I believe. My own political opinions being liberal, their tone has breathed itself, no doubt, into what I have written, but I trust that its general impartiality will be acknowledged. Wherever my own personal knowledge could avail, I have freely used it. All of the subjects of the "Sketches" I have seen and heard in public; with many of them I was more or less acquainted.
The "Sketches" are of a three-fold character. Some are individual, as relating to public men. Some show the practice of the Irish Bar, as exhibited in reports of interesting criminal cases. The third class consists of narratives of public events connected with the cause of civil and religious liberty in Ireland. Thus, there are graphic descriptions of O'Connell, Plunket, and their contemporaries. There are the thrilling narratives of Scanlan's trial at Limerick (on which Gerald Griffin founded his tragic story of "The Collegians”) and the trials of Father Carrol, at Wexford; of the murderers of Daniel Mara, at Clonmel; and of Gorman, for "the burning of the Sheas." There are also Mr. Sheil's own recollections of the formation of the Catholic Association in 1823; of the visit of the Catholic Deputation to London in 1825; of the great Clare Election, and the Penenden Heath Meeting in 1828; and of Lord Brougham's reception, as Chancellor, in 1831. Nor, amid much that is historical, grave, and sometimes, even tragic, are lighter scenes deficient, such as the account of the Tabinet Ball, the Confessions of a Junior Barrister, the description of
* Mr. Sheil's own notes to these "Sketches" are few-about six or eight in the two volumes. All the rest of the annotations are my own and initialed thus:-)
an imaginary Testimonial to Lord Manners, and the Sketch of the judicial mime, Lord Norbury. In reality, this work, with its strong contrasts of light and shade, is a sort of personal history of Irish polities and politicians (for the Bar did not affect neutrality), during the half century following the parchment Union between Ireland and Great Britain.
The portrait of Mr. Sheil in this volume, is a fac-simile of an original sketch in my possession, made in London, in 1825, by Mr. S. Catterson Smith, then a young Irish artist of considerable promise, and now of such leading eminence that he was selected to paint the portrait of Lord Clarendon, late Viceroy of Ireland, to be placed in Dublin Castle. The likeness of Mr. Sheil, it must be noted, represents him as he was at the age of thirty-two.
Here, dismissing these volumes from my hand, I conclude my labors. Here are rescued from the perishable periodicals in which they mouldered, the admirable productions of a man, who, while our language lasts, will be spoken of as one of the most brilliant orators that Ireland, affluent in eloquence, ever had cause to be proud of-productions emanating from the freshness of his purpurea juventus, before his patriotism had been rendered cold or doubtful, by his acceptance of place. They stand
"A deathless part of him who died too soon.' My own part, humble as it is, claims to be honest in purpose, and laboriously faithful in execution. I believe that the Sketches of the Irish Bar," now first collected, will be found to possess abiding interest, because they emanate from a master-mind, and are written with fidelity and spirit. I have arranged them in an order different from that in which they originally appeared (on Mr. Sheil's own suggestion, that there should be contrast in the grouping), but I present them, without mutilation or change, as they were first given to the public. R. SHELTON MACKENZIE,
NEW YORK, January 12, 1854.
WHEN I first visited Dublin (it was about three years ago), I was a frequent attendant at the Courts of Justice, or, as they are more familiarly styled, the "Four Courts." The printed speeches of Curran had just fallen into my hands; and, notwithstanding their numerous and manifest defects, whether of the reporter or the speaker, the general effect of the perusal was to impress me with a very favorable opinion of Irish forensic eloquence. Although, as an Englishman,* I might not participate in the political fervor which forms one of their chief recommendations to his admirers in Ireland, or, in my severer judgment, approve of a general style that differed so essentially from the models of British taste, still there was a freshness and vitality pervading the whole-glowing imageryabounding phraseology-trains of argument and illustration at once vigorous and original—and incessant home pushes at the human heart, of which the attractions were entirely independent of local or party associations.
Under these impressions, and the opportunity being now afforded me, I made it a kind of literary object to ascertain how far the peculiarities that struck me belonged to the man
* Mr. SHEIL Commenced these Sketches in 1822, with the idea of their being taken as the production of an impartial Englishman, and he continued to wear the mask long after common report had assigned his writings to their true paternity. In his account of the Clare Election, which took place in 1828, and rendered Catholic Emancipation inevitable, Mr. Sheil frankly admitted the au thorship.-M.
or the country. With this view, I resorted almost daily for the space of two terms to the Four Courts, where I studied with some industry the manner and intellectual character of some of the most eminent pleaders. The result was, a little collection of forensic sketches, accurate enough, it struck me, as far as they went; but on the whole so incomplete, that I had no design of offering them to the public: they remained almost forgotten in my commonplace-book, until his Majesty's late visit to Ireland,* when I was persuaded by a friend to follow in the royal train. All that I saw and thought upon that occasion is beside my present purpose.
I return to my sketches: My friend and I remained in Ireland till the month of December. We made an excursion to the lakes of Killarney and to the Giants' Causeway; and, during our tour, the Circuits being fortunately out, I was thus furnished with the means of correcting or confirming many observations upon some of the most prominent subjects of my sketches. The same opportunity was afforded me on my return to Dublin, where the Courts were sitting during the last month of our stay. I now, for the first time, and principally from deference to my companion's opinion that the subject would be interesting, resolved at a leisure hour to arrange my scattered memoranda into a form that might meet the public eye. I may not be enabled to execute my plan to its entire extent. In the event of my fulfilling my purpose, I must premise, that I do not profess to include every member of the Irish bar who has risen to eminence in his profession: I propose to speak only of those whom I heard sufficiently often to catch the peculiarities of their mind and manner; and, with regard to these, I beg to disclaim all pretensions to adjust their comparative merits and professional importance. Were it possible, I should introduce their names in the form of a Round Robin, where none could be said to enjoy precedence.
* George IV. visited Ireland in August, 1821, and had no cause to complain of his reception. The Irish appeared drunk with joy, and rattled their chains as if they were proud of them.-M.