[ocr errors]

humour the prejudices of his hearers. trivance of this kind, at a time when He took his stand upon the rock of such contrivances were far more clumsy some general principle, from which he than they are at present, that he was was not to be removed; and he seemed enabled to pour forth those strains of as though he scorned to be indebted eloquence which so often held listening to any meaner influence for that ascen- senates in admiration. dency over the minds of men which The following description of his should be yielded to him from their manner of speaking, will, we are sure, sense of justice. “ Brevis esse laboro, not be unacceptable to our readers, as obscurus fio," might not unfrequently it was given by one who was frequently be said of Grattan ;-never of Flood. an eye and an ear-witness to his most His statements were as clear as his brilliant exertions in parliament :*reasonings were convincing; and, if As a parliamentary orator, and an not conveyed in the pointed and bril- orator he truly is, his voice is clear liant phraseology of his illustrious com- and distinct; but wanting that fulness petitor for fame, were not, perhaps, and energy of sound, that sometimes

With an extenless recommended by that simplicity adds weight to trifles. which always best becomes the ma

sive compass, and great variety of tones, jesty of truth, “which is, when un

it is by no means remarkable for haradorned, adorned the most,” and that mony of modulation, nor for those silver

notes that charm the ear; but is, when generous earnestness which always accompanies the efforts of an ardent and deep, rather hollow, and when high, ra

ther shrill, His management of it an ingenuous nature. That he should have accepted office, but left to the impulse of the moment;

seems not to be regulated by any rule, will not, surely, be considered any im- his whole attention being engaged in the peachment of his fame, if no derelic- higher departments of his office, without tion of principle characterised his ad- minutely adverting to the injunctions of herence to administration. And that rhetoricians, or the precepts of the he preserved his integrity, even within schools. It is, consequently, at times, the charmed circle of ministerial fa- barely audible, but seldom transgresses vour, will be admitted by all who exa- by extravagant elevation. mine, with candour, that portion of his “ His language is copious, nervous, history which has furnished topics of elevated, sublime; flowing spontaneously severest invective to his enemies. in the most appropriate expression, and When the time came that his posses- abounding in words that burn,” as his sion of place was no longer compatible mind in " thoughits that breathe.” He is with his views or his feelings as a pa. not deficient in the power of displaying triot, he hesitated not to relinquish the the more florid beauties of eloquence, first office at the disposal of the crown, but he avoids them from judgment; not and to become a partaker, once more, seeking, yet not shunning ornament; but of the labours and the perils of the cautiously abstaining from those pompous friends of the people.

and ostentatious terms, that have more Nor is it to be forgotten that his sound than sense, and adhering strictly efforts as an orator were made under

to such as are clear, picturesque, and im. physical disadvantages, such as it re

pressive, equal to the highest, and intelquired no ordinary energy to surmount, ligible to the meanest capacity; and eviand which, in fact, never could be so dently aiming more at the force, the vecompletely surmounted as not greatly

hemence, and the impetuosity of Demosto impair

' his effect as a speaker. Å thenes, than the diffusion, the splendor, disease contracted at Oxford, and

the magnificence of Cicero. which nearly cost him his life, termi

“ His delivery, totally free from lannated in a partial inclination' of the guor, or coldness

, though not rapid, is cartilage of his nose, a slight de- the ardour of his diction ; adding

quick and lively ;-admirably suited to pression of the palate, and the loss of strength to the vigorous, and perspicuity his front teeth. This serious calamity to the luminous ; varying, indeed, as the necessitated the use of an artificial pa- occasion requires ; but ever pointed, and late and teeth ; and it was by a con- ever striking. His manner is warm, spi

[ocr errors]

* The above critique is taken from an old number of the “ Dublin Evening Post," published so long ago as 1784 ; and was written, we believe, by a Mr. Scott, then a Master of Arts in the University, and well known by the name of “ Beau Myrtle."

rited, and dignified; commanding respect, so that his knowledge appears universal, and communicating universal animation.” and its application instantaneous.”

“ His action, in the use of which he is Such was the estimate of this great not sparing, is often strong, and power

man which was formed by a living fully energetic; but never graceful." observer, of whose phraseology we “ It might rouse, it might agitate a rude may not always approve, but whose multitude ; but will hardly please a cul- judgment, certainly, seems to us to be tivated audience. In argument, he is borne ont by the specimens which superiorly great,—in that respect, surpas- have survived of Mr. Flood's powers sing any man we have heard in the se- as a reasoner, as an orator, and as a nate house ; being, as his subject de- statesman. Those who were privimands, either close, compact, and con- leged to judge of him from private indensed; or, diffuse, dilated, and compre- tercourse, have borne an equally hensive; properly and pertinently en- favourable testimony to the extent of forcing the principal parts of the ques. his erudition, the refinement of his tion, yet never overlooking its minutest taste, and that passionate love of liteor meanest points; connecting what is rature and of the arts, by which, separated, contracting what is disjointed, through life, he was distinguished. Inand scientifically unfolding what is ab- deed his last will, in which he bestracted or obscure. If he ever seems to recede or to retreat, it is not to desert amounting to five thousand a-year, to

queaths the whole of his property, the contest, but to select a better ground the University of Dublin, for the of attack. In the refutation of his op

purponents he exerts the full powers of his pose of purchasing Irish manuscripts,

and founding a professorship, with a mind; exposing their impostures to contempt, and their fallacies to ridicule ;

view to the cultivation of the Irish now, with the strictest forms of reason;

language, while it proves what would and, anon, with the chastest raillery, and

now be acknowledged an almost prothe happiest strain of irony.

phetic foresight of the value of those “ In invective he peculiarly excels,- precious and perishing relics, demongiving it a poignancy and a severity strates the intensity of interest which which the iambic measures of Archilocus he took in the antiquarian literature of hardly equalled; and which the most Ireland. * conversant and the most obstinate in such Lord Ross, writing with a fine encontests, have, after months of prepara- thusiasm, of his departed friend, thus tion, felt to be more keep and more cut

expresses himself :ting than their studied philippics. His

i Often did Mr. Flood remark to me, argument adds considerably to all he that, while in the east ingenious men says; for it is clear, regular, and accu- were collecting and translating with such raiely scientific; gradually leading from laudable industry, the ancient writings of what is easy to what is abstruse ; from the inhabitants of that region between what is conceded to what is disputed; the Indus and the Ganges, the valuable forming a connected chain of argumenta- memorials of our own island were negtion, wherein not a link can be broken lected and perishing. He thought that without diminishing its force, nor re- many of the truths of ancient history moved without weakening its evidence. were to be found at these two extremni

“ His matter is ever of the best spe- ties of the lettered world; that they cies; studiously sought, carefully investi- would reflect light and knowledge upon gated, and precisely applied ;---solid, im- each other, and lead to a more certain portant, and instructive ;—always just, acquaintance with the early history of though frequently new." Profouudly man. His great mind was wont to comversed in constitutional and political bine the most distant things; to bring learning ; familiarly acquainted with the the east and the west into juxta-position; laws; deeply skilled in the theory of and by the comparison of these extremes, commerce; a master of polite and clas- to examine the immutable coincidences sical literature, he instantly perceives of truth,” what is wanting in every emergency, and

That the Irish were descended from quickly discerns where it is to be found; a Scythian colony, which first migrated

[ocr errors]


• This will was disputed by his family, and the property recovered from the University; or rather, indeed, it was never suffered to take effect.

to Egypt, and afterwards passed to the has given a testimony which ought to western coast of Spain, from whence satisfy uninformed men of the value of the voyage to this country would have these ancient writings, though uncorrobeen peculiarly easy, always appeared borated by all the high authorities that to Mr. Flood a probable hypothesis ; bear evidence in their support. But his and he was not a little confirmed in great bequest did not terminate here. that notion, by the coincidences, in He has ordered by his will that, after all point of language, which were first the manuscripts in the Irish language pointed out by his friend Vallancey,* that can be purchased have been ob(whom he generously remembered in tained, then those books and manuscripts his will,) and the brazen swords which in the languages that have an immediate have been found in the bogs in Ire. affinity to the Irish shall likewise be purland, and which resemble those that chased ; thereby showing the great chain have been dug up at Cannæ, and which of thought that moved through bis mind were used by the ancient Carthagini- upon this subject; and that ibough the ans.

fame of Ireland, as preserved in these A sneering and contemptuous ancient records, was his primary object, anti-nationality distinguished the scio.

the wide horizon of his intellect embraced lists of his day, who seemed ashamed the early history of the whole human of their country ; who were scandalized at any one who professed a belief in its by the connection and comparison of

race, which he hoped would be illustrated ancient renown, or expressed a persua- these collateral testimonies. After this sion that the manuscripts written in the his bequest extends to the purchase Irish language were deserving of being of books in all languages, at the disseriously regarded. With what indig- cretion of the governors of the univernant truth does Lord Ross reprove sity; thereby insuring to Ireland in such scoffers, in his eloquent vindica- course of time the greatest library in the tion of the will of his illustrious friend! world. Of all the stupendous works of

“ But Mr. Flood's authority alone the Egyptian Ptolomies, none have ought to impress upon these manuscripts transmitted their memories to posterity a deep stamp of credit and estimation. with a more luminous fame than their He was certainly one of the greatest great library at Alexandria. The bequest men that ever adorned this country. His of Mr. Flood is not less worthy of remind was the most capacious; his reason nown; it is the same in object, and not the most athletic; his judgment the most

less in extent. How can a nation be balanced; his erudition the most pro- truly great without learned men, and found. His nature was too digvified to how can men be truly learned without deceive others ; his intellect too piercing such great repositories of literature to to be deceived himself. Yet he, in the resort to? If the acts which have most most solemn act of his existence, when stigmatized the most stigmatized barhe was going to leave a great memorial barians, the Vandals and the Goths, have to all posterity of his unabating patriot- been the destruction of such collections ism, and so make the termination of his of lettered works, surely he who founds life accord with all his actions while and institutes such must receive proporliving, in which his country was his first tionate applause from the civilized world? and paramount object ; for ihe prosperity But his great bequest, which for wisdom of which he lived and laboured; and in and magnificence of design exceeds any the same ardour for its fame was just thing of this kind upon record in ancient about to die; he, I say, consecrated with or modern times, goes further still: to his dying breath these venerable records, use his own expiring words, 'seeing that and embalmed them and his own fame nothing stimulates to great deeds more together, to all posterior ages; and thus, strongly than great examples,' he orders by such a conduct at such a time, when he that the characters of some of those great knew that nothing but truth could throw men in ancient and modern times, who glory around his declining orb, and when have been eminently serviceable and there was an end of every inclination honourable to their country, should, in which could cast obscurity upon truth, annual compositions, be commemorated

A speech is put into the mouth of Hanno, the Cartbagenian, in one of the plays of Plautus, which long baffled the erudition of the learned, until it was translated by General Vallancey, who was enabled to interpret it solely by his knowledge of Irish.

He was,

that ;

in our Universities : that their exalted unrivalled in his own country; and had actions may stand forth and be pourtrayed it been his fortune to have moved upon in living colours before every rising gene- a theatre as capacious as his own mind, ration here to the end of time: that their his celebrity would not have been exennobling sentiments may be poured into ceeded by any man's in any other.” the minds of the young, to swell their The opinion expressed in the conthoughts to high conceptions and illus- cluding sentence may seem, in some trious deeds: that the wreaths of true

measure, at variance with the fact, that honor and fame may be hung up in their Mr. Flood could not be said to have view to excite them to those actions been eminently successful, after his of refined and sublimated virtue, by which transplantation into the English House alone they can hope to reach them. of Commons. This, however, may be

“ This was the extensive range of Mr. accounted for by circumstances, which Flood's bequest to the public; having will still leave his senatorial reputation first manifested in his will all the wise and tender anxieties and cares for those the first night of his entrance into that

very high indeed. His first step, on around him for whom duty and affection assembly, was a false one. When his taught bim to provide ; having for these, when he was about to retire from the only object was, to say that he did not world, provided every means of compe- should have been 'silent.

intend either to speak or vote, he tency, and spread every shade of protection which a prudent and liberal mind unfortunately, by the flattering attencould suggest; he then turns his eves tion with which he was received, upon Ireland :-Ireland, for whose pros

drawn on to attempt doing more than perity and liberty and glory he had so

and the consequence was, that many years so illustriously toiled, and he was damaged in public estiination which was now to be closed from his by seeming to fail, where he never view for ever. His great spirit, while it intended to appear successful. No was just hovering over the tomb, was matter what the accident by which a still busied about the future fame of his high-mettled horse may have broken country; and dictated those expiring his knees, his value will be depreaccents, which direct that the materials ciated by it, even more than his utility of learning, from all parts of the earth, may be impaired; and so it was with should be from time to time collected Mr. Flood, who was discouraged, by and deposited in the bosom of our Uni- what then occurred, from taking that versity. Thus founding for his country active part in English politics upon an everlasting pyramid of all the accumu- which he had been previously resolved, lated knowledge of man, which should and who never afterwards, but upon out-top the works of all other nations; rare occasions, solicited the notice of and by which every future genius of our parliament. But when he did do so, island' might climb to the summit of the reader has already seen it was with human intelligence, and take his tower

consummate power. And if he did ing Aight. Lastly, to excite to this, and not ardently engage in the strife of to every thing else great and worthy, he orders that the most exalted examples of parties; and take that lead in the

great affairs which then engaged public the most exalted men, that have ever improved and dignified buman nature, from his great abilities, it arose as

attention, which might be expected may be applied to transfuse their virtues into the expanding bosoms of our youth ;

much from the proud attitude of indethat thus as it were, through the medium pendence which he assumed, which of his last will, his voice, though dead kept him separated from the powerful himself, might call continually from the interests by which public business was tomb upon the aspiring offspring of

at that time managed, as from any succeeding age, to ennoble their minds, and other cause to which it could be rea

He was like a spread glory over their country, by their sonably attributed. knowledge, their talents, and their vir- ship which refused to sail in convoy,

even after she had suffered some injury “ Thus, this great patriot, after having upon leaving port; and which, accordmade every possible provision for the ingly, must be less able to remedy the past and future fame of Ireland, sunk accidents or to overcome the difficul. into his grave. The impartial judgment ties which she may meet with on her of subsequent ages will consider him as voyage, than she would have been if



[ocr errors]

she had not resolved to pursue her There were in the Irish, as there course in a state of voluntary seques- are in the English House of Commons, tration.

useful individuals, who made it their But no failure in England can take business to go through the house for from him the praise of unrivalled skill the purpose of completing the muster as a debater. Of that, he exhibited of their party, preparatory to a division innumerable specimens in the Irish upon any important question. They are parliament. His readiness in availing denominated in parliamentary phrase himself of any incident which, in the “whippers-in.” One of these convenient stormy discussions in that assembly, gentlemen was very industriously em. might be turned to account, strikingly ployed in his vocation, while Mr. Flood appeared, when, after the recognition was one night upon his legs; and his of Irish legislative independence, it figure, as he glided between the was deemed expedient to confirm an benches, with pencil and paper in his act passed in the reign of William and hands, taking down the names of the Mary, by which the crown of Ireland supporters of administration, caught was inseparably annexed to the crown the eye of the orator, who plainly saw of England. Mr. Flood moved an that unless he contrived to excite a amendment, for the perpetual union of strong feeling of indignation upon the crowns, and the perpetual separa- the instant, an arrangement would be tion of the houses of legislation, which made by which all his efforts must be, was strongly opposed by Mr. Fitz- in all probability, defeated. He theregibbon, Mr. Yelverton, and Mr. Grat- fore paused, and, looking intently at tan. At that time there was a small the individual, with straining eye-balls, party in the house, consisting of thir- as if he saw a ghost, the attention of ieen members, the representatives of the whole house became riveted upon northern boroughs, and known by the him, while the gentleman himself, the name of “the Hillsborough Club." object of such intense interest, susTheir costume was "orange and blue." pended his function, and, wholly un

They were in the habit,” adds our in- conscious of having given any cause formant, a gentleman who writes from for the astonishment that seemed dea personal knowledge of the facts, “ of picted in every countenance, leant spending the night in convivial ex- forward and gazed at the orator with cesses ;" and entering the house, when, an eye of asking wonder. At length towards morning, the question was Flood broke silence. “ What," he about to be put, and when their votes said, “is it that I see! Shall the might be needed. “It was now three temple of freedom still be haunted by o'clock when Flood rose to reply, and the foul fiend of bribery and corruphe had not proceeded far, when these tion? I see, personified before me, gentlemen entered the house in a body an incarnation of that evil principle to vote against him. The orator which lives by the destruction of paused, and affecting surprise, said, public virtue." And then, perceiving

Hah! what do I behold! Then with that he had the feeling of the house an air of joy and gratulation, and ex- with him, he exclaimed, as if exortending his arms as if to embrace his cising an evil spirit,—“ Avaunt thou new allies, 'I hail,' said he, those loathsome sprite, thou pander to miglorious colours, auspicious to the nisterial profligacy! and no longer constitution! These honorable men pollute with thy presence this edifice have, no doubt, spent the night in consecrated to the constitution.” The vigils for the glory and fortune of the effect of this hazardous appeal was commonwealth. Come, come to this very great indeed. The “whipper-in” heart, with all your patriotism. The withdrew, amidst shouts of execration, effect was magical. The voice of the similar to those which the populace orator was drowned amidst the cheers sometimes exhibit when they catch a and acclama ons of the house, and the glimpse of the hangman. And Mr. astonished courtiers felt their livery Flood resumed his argument to a more for the first time a cause of confusion excited and favourable audience than and dismay, while they fell back into he had before. the corridors amidst the broad laughter His powers of repartee, and his comof the other members.

mand of classical allusion, were often

« VorigeDoorgaan »