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trace all the maternal features in the filial piety that delighted to portray them. After her death he placed an humble monument over her remains, upon which he inscribed the following memorial, as well as I can recollect it from his very frequent recital:
"Here lieth all that was mortal of MARTHA CURRAN-a woman of
many virtues-few foibles-great talents, and no vice. This tablet was inscribed to her memory by a son who loved her, and whom she loved."
I remember him once in
Indeed, his recurrences to her memory were continual. He often told me that, after his success at the bar, which happily she lived to see, and the fruits of which to her death she shared, Mrs. Curran has said to him, "O Jacky, Jacky, what a preacher was lost in you!" The observation proved rather her sagacity than her prudence. Had he directed his talents to the Church, there can be no doubt his success would have been splendid he would have been the poorest and the most popular preacher of the day. He was too independent to fawn, and had too much genius to rise—he would have been adored by the congregation, hated by the bishops, starved on a curacy, and buried perhaps by the parish! Such is often cnough the history of such men in the Church. an action for a breach of promise of marriage, in which he was counsel for the defendant, a young clergyman, thus appealing to the jury: Gentlemen, I entreat of you not to ruin this young man by a vindictive verdict, for, though he has talents and is in the Church, he may rise!" His mother, too patriotic not to have a large family, was of course too much occupied to attend to him exclusively. His father was divided between law and agriculture, and Master Jacky was left to his own devices. At the fairs, where wit and whisky provoked alternately the laugh and the fracture-at the wake, where the living so mourned the dead that there was soon but little difference between them, he appeared now a mourner and now a mime, until the court of his father was quite scandalized, and the wit of his mother acknowledged to be hereditary.
At this period a circumstance occurred which he delighted to relate, as he comically said it first proved his aptitude for oratory. The keeper of a street puppet-show arrived at Newmarket, to the no small edification of the neighborhood; and the feats of Mr. Punch, and the eloquence of his man, soon superseded every other topic. At length, however, Mr. Punch's man fell ill, and the whole establishment was threatened with immediate ruin. Little Curran, who had with his eyes and ears devoured the puppet-show, and never missed the corner of its exhibition, proposed himself to the manager as Mr. Punch's man. The offer was gladly accepted; and for a time the success of the substitute was quite miraculous. Crowds upon crowds attended every performance; Mr. Punch's man was the universal admiration. At length, before one of the most crowded audiences, he began to expatiate upon the village politics; he described the fairs, told the wake secrets, caricatured the audience; and, after disclosing every amour, and detailing every scandal, turned with infinite ridicule upon the very priest of the parish! This was the signal for a general outery. Every man and maid who had laughed at their neighbor's picture, and pretended not to recognize their own, were outrageously scandalized at such familiarity with the clergy. Religion, as on larger theaters, was made the scape-goat; and by one and all, sentence of banishment was passed upon Mr. Punch. He was honorable, however, in his concealment of the substitute, whose prudence deprecated such dangerous celebrity. Curran, in after times, used often to declare that he never produced such an effect upon any audience as in the humble character of Mr. Punch's man.
At this period of his life it was that an incident occurred which, molding, as it did, his future fortunes, the reader shall have as nearly as possible as he related it. "I was then," said he, a little ragged apprentice to every kind of idleness and mischief, all day studying whatever was eccentric in those older, and half the night practicing it for the amusement of those who were younger than myself. Heaven only knows
where it would have ended. But, as my mother said, I was born to be a great man. One morning I was playing at marbles in the village ball-alley, with a light heart and a lighter pocket. The gibe, and the jest, and the plunder went gayly round; those who won, laughed, and those who lost, cheated; when suddenly there appeared among us a stranger of very venerable and very cheerful aspect. His intrusion was not the least restraint upon our merry little assemblage; on the contrary, he seemed pleased, and even delighted he was a benevolent creature, and the days of infancy (after all, the happiest we shall ever see) perhaps rose upon his memory. God bless him! I see his fine form, at the distance of half a century, just as he stood before me in the little ball-alley in the days of my childhood! His name was Boyse; he was the rector of Newmarket. To me he took a particular fancy; I was winning, and was full of waggery, thinking every thing that was eccentric, and by no means a miser of my eccentricities; every one was welcome to share them, and I had plenty to spare after having freighted the company. Some sweetmeats easily bribed me home with him. I learned from poor Boyse my alphabet and my grammar, and the rudiments of the classics: he taught me all he could, and then he sent me to the school at Middleton-in short, he made a man of me. I recollect, it was about five-and-thirty years afterward, when I had risen to some eminence at the bar, and when I had a seat in Parliament, and a good house in Ely Place, on my return one day from court I found an old gentleman seated alone in the drawing-room, his feet familiarly placed on each side of the Italian marble chimney-piece, and his whole air bespeaking the consciousness of one quite at home. He turned round— it was my friend of the ball-alley! I rushed instinctively into his arms. I could not help bursting into tears. Words can not describe the scene which followed. 'You are right, sir; you are right the chimney-piece is yours-the pictures are yours the house is yours: you gave me all I have—my friend -my father!' He dined with me; and in the evening I
caught the tear glistening in his fine blue eye when he saw his poor little Jacky, the creature of his bounty, rising in the House of Commons to reply to a right honorable. Poor Boyse! he is now gone; and no suitor had a larger deposit of practical benevolence in the court above. This is his wine-let us drink to his memory." Such is a very faint and very humble imitation of the manner in which Mr. Curran used to relate this most interesting era in his history; and I never heard him recur to it without weeping. In this place, however, it may be as well to remark, that neither his wit nor his eloquence can receive any thing like justice from even the most gifted narrator. It would be quite as easy to paint the waving of a wand-the spell consisted in the very magic of the movement ; and until the charm of manner can be conveyed in words, the reader must fancy in vain the almost supernatural effect of Curran.
At the school of Mr. Carey, in the town of Middleton, he received more than the common classical education of the country. He owed much to the talent and attention of this gentleman, and was always ready to acknowledge it. Indeed, there were few men in any country, or of any class, who had a more general, if not profound acquaintance with the best models of ancient literature. The Greek and Latin poets might be said to be his companions, and his quotations from them, both in conversation and at the bar, were apt and frequent. I remember him myself, in the cabin of one of the Holyhead packets, when we were all rolling in a storm, very deliberately opening his bag, taking out a little pocket Virgil, and sitting down con amore to the fourth book of the Æneid, over which, he told me in the morning, he had been crying all night. For my part, as I very unclassically remarked, Dido might have hanged herself at the mast-head without exciting in me, at the time, an additional emotion. Those who have ever enjoyed the comforts of a ship's cabin in a storm, will know how to excuse my Vandalism. There is a witty instance, current among his friends, of the instantaneous applica
tion of his classical knowledge. When he was in college, the Rev. Dr. Hailes, one of the fellows, during a public examination, continually pronounced the word nimirum with a wrong quantity it was naturally enough the subject of conversation, and his reverence was rather unceremoniously handled by some of the academic critics. Curran affected to become his advocate: "The doctor is not to blame," said he; "there was only one man in all Rome who understood the word, and Horace tells us so
"Septimius, Claudi, nimirum intelligit unus.' ”
At another time, when an insect of very high birth, but of very democratic habits, was caught upon the coat, about the appearance of which he was never very solicitous, his friend Egan, observing it, maliciously exclaimed from Virgil, “Eh! Curran :
"Cujum pecus? an Meliboi?'"
at the same time turning with a triumphant jocoseness to the spectators. But Curran, in the coolest manner taking up the line, immediately retorted,
"Non, verum Ægonis-nuper mihi tradidit Ægon."
It is unnecessary to say against whom the laugh was turned; but we must not anticipate. While, however, we are on the subject of his classical witticisms, his bon mot upon a brother barrister of the name of Going certainly deserves a place. This gentleman fully verified the old adage that a story never loses in the telling; he took care continually to add to every anecdote all the graces which could be derived from his own embellishment. An instance of this was one day remarked to Curran, who scarcely knew one of his own stories, it had so grown by the carriage. "I see," said he, "the proverb is quite applicable- Vires acquirit eundo'-it gathers by Going." The records of a schoolboy's life afford but little for detail or observation. He could not have been very idle, and he