Page images
PDF
EPUB

observation, and which every individual carefully conceals within himself.”

“ Your observations, my love,” replied the Bachelor, “ are exceedingly just as regards eloquence in general. In this country, however, where it is not used as an occasional engine, but is in fact one of the manufacturing machines of our multiform commerce, it is decidedly an art in which the power of persuasion consists in something distinct, both from the personal feelings and the personal character of the orator. Elóquence among us is the art of reasoning; we attain nothing, either at the bar or in parliament, by impassioned declamation, and scarcely more than a shout even on the hustings."

“ You would imply by that, Benedict,” replied the nymph, “that eloquence is not among us so eminent a faculty as it was among the ancients.”

“ It is so thought,” said he. .

" It is so said, I allow;" interrupted Egeria ; " but how far justly is another thing. I am however inclined to think, that as it enters so much more largely into the management of public affairs in England than in any other country, either ancient or modern, it ought to flourish here in greater perfection than it ever did elsewhere.”. . .

“ But confessedly it does not,” said the Bachelor. 6 We have had no orator to compare either with Demosthenes or with Cicero ; and until we have such, we must bow the head of homage to their genius, and acknowledge our inferiority.”

66. I do not see the question in that light, my dear,” replied the nymph. “We have had, it is true, no orators who exactly resemble them, but we have had

partment of have no people. In

others, who, in their own line, were not less powerful. Besides, we have carried the art farther than ever it was carried, either among the Greeks, or the Romans, or any other people. In REPLY, the orators of England have no masters. It is from that department of oratory that the evidence of our attainments should be adduced. Can any thing be finer, or, if you like the term better, more impassioned, than that masterly reply of the Earl of Kildare to Cardinal Wolsey, as it has been preserved by Campion, the historian of Ireland ?-It appeared that the Earl of Kildare had been accused of treasonous partialities during his administration as the king's deputy in Ireland, for which he was summoned before the privy-council in England. On his appearance there, Wolsey attacked him with great vehemence.

" I know well, my lord,” exclaimed the cardinal, “ that I am not the fittest man at this table to accuse you, because your adherents assert that I am an enemy to all nobility, and particularly to your blood. But the charges against you are so strong that we cannot overlook them, and so clear that you cannot deny them. I must therefore beg, notwithstanding the stale slander against me, to be the mouth and orator of these honourable gentlemen, and to state the treasons of which you stand accused, without respecting how you may like it. My lord, you well remember how the Earl of Desmond, your kinsman, sent emissaries with letters to Francis, the French king, offering the aid of Munster and of Connaught for the conquest of Ireland ; and, receiving but a cold answer, applied to Charles, the emperor. How many letters, what precepts, what messages, what threats, have been sent to you to apprehend him, and it is not yet done. Why? Because you could not catch him; nay, my lord, you would not, forsooth! catch him. If he be justly suspected, why are you so partial ? If not, why are you so fearful to have him tried ? But it will be sworn to your face, that, to avoid him you have winked wilfully, shunned his haunts, altered your course, advised his friends, and stopped both ears and eyes in the business ; and that, when you did make a show of hunting him out, he was always beforehand, and gone. Surely, my lord, this juggling little became an honest man called to such honour, or a nobleman adorned with so great a trust. Had you lost but a cow or a carrion of your own, two hundred retainers would have started up at your whistle, to rescue the prey from the farthest edge of Ulster. All the Irish in Ireland must have made way for you. But, in performing your duty in this affair, merciful God! how delicate, how dilatory, how dangerous, have you been ! One time he is from home ; another time he is at home; sometimes fled, and sometimes in places where you dare not venture. What! the Earl of Kildare not venture! Nay, the King of Kildare ; for you reign more than you govern the land. When you are offended, the lowest subjects stand as rebels; when you are pleased, rebels are very dutiful subjects. Hearts and hands, lives and lands, must all be at your beck. Who fawns not to you cannot live within your scent, and your scent is so keen that you track them out at pleasure.”

[graphic]

While the cardinal was thus speaking, the earl frequently changed colour, and vainly endeavoured to master himself. He affected to smile; but his face was pale, his lips quivered, and his eyes lightened with rage.

you and hands, livet to you been

“My lord chancellor!” he exclaimed fiercely; “my

lord chancellor, I beseech you, pardon me. I have but a short memory, and you know that I have to tell a long tale. If you proceed in this way I shall forget the half of my defence. I have no school-tricks, nor art of recol. lection. Unless you hear me while I remember, your second charge will hammer the first out of my head.”

Several of the counsellors were friends of the earl; and knowing the acrimony of the cardinal's taunts, which they were themselves often obliged to endure, interfered, and entreated that the charges might be discussed one by one. Wolsey assenting to this, Kildare resumed.

of de into yo What my op holding set for h

are very Win Desmond hlong. If he

It is with good reason that your grace is the mouth of this council; but, my lord, the mouths that put this tale into yours are very wide, and have gaped long for my ruin. What my cousin Desmond has done I know not; beshrew him for holding out so long. If he be taken in the traps that I have set for him, my adversaries, by this heap of heinous charges, will only have proved their own malice. But if he be never taken, what is Kildare to blame more than Ossory, who, notwithstanding his high promises, and having now the king's power, you see, takes his own time to bring him in ? Cannot the Earl of Desmond stir, but I must ad. vise ? Cannot he be hid, but I must wink? If he is befriended, am I therefore a traitor ? It is truly a formidable accusation! My first denial confounds my accusers. Who made them so familiar with my sight? When was the earl in my view ? Who stood by when I let him slip? But, say they, I sent him word. Who was the messenger ? Where are the letters ? Confute my denial.

“ Only see, my lord, how loosely this idle gear of theirs hangs together ! Desmond is not taken. Well!

Kildare is in fault. Why? Because he is. Who proves it ? Nobody. But it is thought; it is said. By whom? His enemies. Who informed them? They will swear it. Will they swear it, my lord ? Why, then they must know it. Either they have my letters to show, or can produce my messengers, or were present at a conference, or were concerned with Desmond, or somebody betrayed the secret to them, or they were themselves my vicegerents in the business : which of these points will they choose to maintain ? I know them too well to reckon myself convicted by their assertions, hearsays, or any oaths which they may swear. My letters could soon be read, were any such things extant. My servants and friends are ready to be sifted. Of my cousin Desmond they may lie loudly ; for no man here can contradict them. But as to myself, I never saw in them integrity enough to make me stake on their sie lence the life of a hound, far less my own. I doubt not, if your honours examine them apart, you will find that they are the tools of others, suborned to say, swear, and state any thing but truth; and that their tongues are chained, as it were, to some patron's trencher. I am grieved, my lord cardinal, that your grace, whom I take to be passing wise and sharp, and who, of your own blessed disposition, wishes me so well, should be so far gone in crediting these corrupt informers that abuse your ignorance of Ireland. Little know you, my lord, how necessary it is, not only for the governor, but also for every noblemån in that country, to hamper his uncivil neighbours at discretion. Were we to wait for processes of law, and had not those hearts and hands, of which you speak, we should soon . lose both lives and lands. You hear of our case as in a dream, and feel not the smart of suffering that we endure. In England, there is not a subject that dare extend his arm to fillip a peer of the realm. In Ireland, unless

« PreviousContinue »