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are good; and the same can be said of his music, for he was also a musician.
We shall be as succinct as possible in our biography of this great man. The Currans, we are told, were, in the old semi-legendary history of Ireland, eminent as poets and men of learning. They filled the positions of bards and historians in Leitrim, and poets in Breffni.' His father was 'seneschal of the Manor Court' (a species of town-bailiff) of Newmarket, a small village now, of 1,000 inhabitants, in the county Cork; and here John Philpot Curran was born on the 24th July, 1750. educated out of charity by the rector of the town (who discerned in the lad a mental capacity and power beyond the ordinary youth), and was subsequently sent to a school under a foundation of Lady Elizabeth Villiers (1709), in Midleton, a town not far distant. He matriculated at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1769, with the intention of entering the Church. His college career was rather distinguished-he obtained his scholarship in 1770—and in 1773, the intention to join the Church having been relinquished, he was admitted at the Middle Temple; and, while a student there, married his cousin, a Miss Creagh. 'Stuttering Jack Curran'-'Orator Mum'—these were the nicknames bestowed upon him, and prove that he had many natural difficulties to overcome before he could earn fame.
He was called to the Irish Bar in 1775, and though in his earlier years at the profession his abilities were unacknowledged and unrecompensed, chiefly because he had had no opportunity of displaying them, yet, having once been heard, he rapidly earned the reputation that grew with each succeeding year of practice. His progress is exhibited by his changes of residence : Redmond's Hill, Fade Street, St. Andrew Street, Ely
Place (now No. 4), and 80, Stephen's Green, were his successive dwellings. He rapidly also became popular in society, and a favourite amongst the members of his own profession. He was one of the Order of St. Patrick,' or The Monks of the Screw,' whose chartersong he wrote. This was a convivial and intellectual club which met weekly, on Saturdays, at a house in Kevin Street, Dublin, when Curran lived in Redmond's Hill; and subsequently at his country house at Rathfarnham, when he was 'Prior' of the Monks.' The club, or society,' was composed of the brilliant men at the Bar and in Parliament, and came to an end in 1795. Curran was returned to the Irish Parliament as member for Kilbeggan in 1783, Flood being his colleague in the representation of that village borough; and he joined the opposition, his politics being the liberalism of Grattan. He was also (1786—1797) M.P. for Rathcormac, another village borough. He retired from Parliament in May, 1797.
His greatest fame was earned by his defence of those charged with complicity in the rebellion of 1798. Of his speech on behalf of Hamilton Rowan, Lord Brougham said it was the greatest speech of an advocate in ancient or modern times.' His undaunted advocacy of the rebels led, on one occasion, to Lord Carleton, the Chief Justice, threatening to deprive him of his silk gown. He was appointed Master of the Rolls in Ireland, and made a Privy Councillor by Pitt, in 1806, and from that time he seems to have declined mentally and physically. He contested Newry for a seat in the Imperial Parliament in 1812, and was defeated by two votes ; and in the following year he resigned the Mastership of the Rolls, and went into retirement on a pension.
Most of his time while he held the judicial office, and
Rotulorum Magistri ;
Ex dono publico et amore.
Obiit 1817. Æt. 67. The kaleidoscopic view of Curran's life is varying and attractive. A rough Irish-speaking poor country lad who rose to be the welcome guest of princes; a wit whose presence charged the atmosphere with gaiety, and in whose train followed laughter loud and hearty, wearing out a weary life in peevish, dismal melancholy. He, it is narrated, left the severe paths of respectability on one occasion, disguised as a tinker, and threw in his lot with a band of tramps-abandoned himself to the careless freedom of tinker life, and left it not till it became his lot to go on tramp, and not till he had a month's ex
perience of low life in the Coombe in Dublin. Contrast this episode with that where we see an enthusiastic populace cheering him to the echo, carrying him in triumph to his home, because he was the dauntless champion of freedom, the eloquent advocate of the oppressed. His great intellect overcame great obstacles. He was at the outset without influential friends, and a poor
1—the only furniture of his rooms was his offspring ; - he was endowed with a contemptible personal appearance, a stuttering tongue, an enfeebling nervousness, yet he was the greatest and most successful and most popular orator at the Irish Bar, in the early days of the century when the Irish Bar was renowned for its eloquence.
A feeling of sadness at the decline of a great spirit, somewhat similar to that evoked by a consideration of the final scene of Sheridan's life, is present also in regard to the final days of Curran. How brilliant and celebrated he was in the Senate and at the Bar, for his wit and eloquence, is well known. Courted and flattered he
like Sheridan, in his heyday while he could amuse; and yet he died in obscurity, broken down by domestic sorrows, wretched from the depression of settled melancholy, he burst into tears and hung down his head' upon an allusion to Irish politics a few days before his death;—the eloquence was turned to prosiness, the wit to grossness, the ready repartee and flashing sarcasm to the drowsy inanities of hopeless imbecility-forgotten-neglected ! Yet his talents and pure patriotism were alike splendid, and alike creditable to Ireland, and he is fully deserving of Byron's eulogistic sentence-'the best intellect of Ireland' of his time.
LIKE most of the Irish song-writers, Jeremiah (or James) Joseph Callanan was sprung from the people, and like many of them, he died while still a very young man. Callanan was a poet, and his brief life was yet long enough to earn a fame for his name. He was born in Cork in 1795, and of his early years nothing is known. Of obscure birth, he grew in obscurity, and at the age of nineteen entered the Maynooth Seminary, with the intention of becoming a priest. After a residence here for about two years, he discovered the Church was not his vocation, and in 1816 he went to Dublin, where he managed, through the charitable kindness of a friend, to enter Trinity College. While pursuing his course here, he gained the Vice-Chancellor's prizes for poems on 'Alexander the Great,' and 'The Accession of George IV. His intentions during his collegiate career as regards a profession oscillated between the Bar and medicine, but he seems now, as throughout his life, to have been the victim of a restlessness and indecision which found an easy prey in his sensitive and nervous organisation. He left Trinity College after a two years' connection, and made his way to Cork. But he found neither parents nor relations nor friends here, and in a fit of dejection he enlisted in the 18th Royal Irish, as the only means open to him to gain a living. He was bought out of the service by some friends in time to prevent his sailing for Malta with his regiment. He next lived in Millstreet, a little town in Cork county, as tutor in the family of a Mr. McCarthy. This employment was soon relinquished, for in 1822 he is back in Cork writing verses, and doing nothing more than write verses, for his