military compatriots, through the room. This triumvirate of coxcombs trailed themselves, with an affected listlessness, along, and vented their depreciation of Ireland in elaborately English intonations. They were apparently anxious to give intimation of their superior country; for they put more of their national accent into their voices than well-bred Englishmen are accustomed to do, and seemed vain of the anti-Irish drawl, in which the spirit of mingled tedium and of derision was expressed.

One of them was a handsome and well-formed fellow, the manliness of whose person made a singular contrast with the artificial effeminacy with which his countenance was invested. He lisped in a deep guttural voice, and played with his whiskers as if they were the bow-strings of Cupid. I was not a little amused by the languid complacency with which this athletic Narcissus seemed to contemplate himself. His companion on the right, was the exact reverse of the captain in manner and in aspect; for, with a feeble and fragile form, and the cheek of a woman, he put on an air of warlike defiance, and looked as Madame Vestris would in the part of Pistol. The other was a huge booby in gold and scarlet, with great meanless eyes falling out of their sockets, and with features thrown in a chaos together.

His business appeared to be to grin at the captain's wit, and turn up a pair of dilated nostrils, through which he snorted his disdain of Ireland. These gentlemen were joined by an old officer, who was evidently a man of rank, before whom they immediately assumed an aspect of deference: like themselves he was an Englishman, but of a very different sort. He had the marks of long service on his face, which was of a strongly martial cast. There was no exhibition of haughty fierceness in his air; but his fine intelligent eye had that calm intensity of observation which denotes the "coup-d'œil militaire." His features were aquiline, his color was tinged by the Spanish sun, and his physiognomy united great natural sweetness of expression with the familiar habits of command. He said that he had been greatly delighted with all that he had seen, and had no notion that Dublin could produce such a display of

[blocks in formation]

elegance, opulence, and beauty. He rallied his young friends upon the loss of their hearts, and the likelihood of their carrying back Irish wives to England. Against the possibilities of such a misadventure in matrimony they vehemently protested, and enlarged upon the huge feet and monstrosities of ankle exhibited by the Irish fair.

A ponderous lady, the wife of an honest burgher, was bouncing at the moment through the mazes of the third set, and seemed to be in that interesting condition which a lady of fashion, in "The Vicar of Wakefield," describes as being "all over in a muck of sweat." To make the matter worse, she took it into her head that the officers had selected her as an object of admiration; and throwing a look of greasy amativeness into her face, renewed her efforts at the graceful with a desperate agility. I felt some mortification at the opportunity for ridicule, which was afforded to the young Englishmen by this piece of animated corpulency; but I was relieved by the elder officer, who pointed to a young lady in an adjoining circle of dancers, whom it was only necessary to look at for an instant, in order to feel the influence which perfect beauty will create in the rudest mind. With all their disposition to find fault, the party of military critics at once admitted that the taste of the old colonel could not be impeached, and that such a face and figure would almost justify the violation of the regimental rule, “not to marry in Ireland.”

The impression produced by the girl whom the venerable veteran had selected, diverted my attention from the commentaries of the English officers. Though not tall, her figure had the perfection of youthful symmetry. Her limbs were of the finest mould, and with the round plumpness of health, united an aërial lightness and grace. The beautiful epithet which Prospero applies to the sweet minister of his spells, seemed to belong to this fascinating person, who looked as "delicate" as Ariel. Her dress was simple: it consisted merely of a pink tabinet, without decoration. A wreath of flowers bound the black hair, the ringlets of which just shaded the marble of her forehead, but fell in "ambrosial plenty" behind. Her features, although somewhat minute, had the

Siddonian character. Thought and sensibility were mingled like the white and red roses in her cheek. Her eyes were of the finest black; but, although they were both sweet and brilliant, there was an expression about them which I was at first at some loss to define. I afterward perceived that it arose merely from a shortness of sight. I could have remained, as Oroonoko says, gazing" whole nights" upon her, when happily, perhaps, for as much heart as yet abides within me, her chaperon warned her, at the conclusion of the dance, that it was time to retire. The morning, indeed, had just begun to show a face scarcely more beautiful, and, as if jealous of such a rival as Miss O'C—, admonished her to depart.* She drew her shawl round her bosom, with a grace which Canova should have turned to marble, and disappeared amidst the crowd who were pouring out of the room. I remained for some moments in that state of revery, which, in my younger days, I mistook for romance, with the image of the lady before me. I was roused from my dream, however, by the recollection that I was past thirty, and that it was five o'clock. The company were gone. I stood alone, where hundreds had recently met in a joyous and brilliant concourse; and I felt how justly, as well as beautifully, Moore has compared the recollections of our youth to the sensations of one

"Who treads alone

Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,

And all but he departed;―

Thus in the stilly night, ere slumber's chain has bound me,
Sad memory brings the light of other days around me."

* I have reason to believe that the lady, whose portrait is thus beautifully painted in words, was a daughter of Mr. O'Connell. At that time, she was in the pride of youth and loveliness. All of O'Connell's children were well-looking; his daughters were remarkable for their personal attractions.-M.


I Now propose to give some account of the various bodies which have successively managed the concerns of the Catholics, and of the individuals who have taken the most active part in their affairs.*

Catholic Associations have been of very long existence. The Confederates of 1642 were the precursors of the Association of 1828. The Catholics entered into a league for the assertion of their civil rights. They opened their proceedings in the city of Kilkenny, where the house is shown in which their assemblies were held. They established two different bodies to represent the Catholic people—namely, a general assembly, and a supreme council. The first included all the lords, prelates, and gentry, of the Catholic body; and the latter consisted of a few select members, chosen by the general assembly out of the different provinces, who acted as a kind of executive, and were recognised as their supreme magistrates. These were "the Confederates." Carte, in his "Life of Ormonde," calls them "an Association." He adds that the first result of their union was an address to the King [Charles I.], in which they demanded justice, and besought him "timely to assign a place where they might with safety express their grievances." On receiving this address, the King issued a commission under the great seal, empowering the commissioners to treat with the

* This sketch, full of historical and personal interest, appeared in October, 1828, and was marked "To be continued"—an unfulfilled promise, probably caused by Mr. Sheil's "invasion of Kent" (immediately after it was written), as related in the next volume.-M.

Confederates, to receive in writing what they had to say or propound, and to transmit it to his Majesty.

This commission was dated the 11th of January, 1642. Ormonde says, in one of his letters, that "the Lords Justices used every endeavor to prevent the success of the commission, and to impede the pacification of the country." The supreme council of "the Confederates" was sitting at Ross, and a despatch was transmitted by the Lords Justices to them, in which the phrase "odious rebellion" was applied to their proceedings. At this insult they took fire-they had arms in their hands, and returned an answer, in which they stated that "it would be a meanness beyond expression in them who fought in the condition of loyal subjects, to come in the repute of rebels to set down their grievances. We take God to witness," added they, that there are no limits set to the scorn and infamy that are cast upon us, and we will be in the esteem of loyal subjects, or die to a man!" A terrible civil war ensued. On the 28th of July, 1646, Lord Digby published a proclamation of peace with the Confederates. The Pope's Nuncio, Renuccini, induced the former to reject the terms. The war raged on. At length, in 1648, Ormonde concluded a treaty with them; but, soon after, Cromwell landed in Ireland, and crushed the Catholics to the earth.


Thus an early precedent of a Catholic Association is to be found at the distance of upward of a hundred and eighty-six years. I pass over the events of the Revolution. The penal code was enacted. From the Revolution to the reign of George II., the Catholics were so depressed and abject, that they did not dare to petition, and their very silence was frequently the subject of imputation, as affording evidence of a discontented and dissatisfied spirit. Upon the accession of George II., in 1727, Lord Delvin, and the principal of the Roman Catholic gentry, presented a servile address, to be laid by the Lords Justices before the throne. They were in a condition so utterly despicable and degraded, that not even an answer was returned. But Primate Boulter, who was a shrewd and sagacious master of all the arts of colonial tyranny, in a letter to Lord Carteret, intimates his apprehension at this first act since

« VorigeDoorgaan »