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gations, and preferring to dwell in the midst of its own thoughts. Nor do I find any thing repelling in the circumstance that his features seldom descend for a moment from their dignity. Knowing what his mind and his history have been, I am prepared for what I meet. I find no flashes of sensibility, no play of shifting or conflicting emotions, but a calm constitutional severity of aspect, importing a mind conscious of its powers, and vigilantly keeping them in unremitted discipline against the daily task that awaits them. I expected to have found a tinge of melancholy in Mr. Plunket's features-such as I had observed in Grattan and some other eminent Irishmen, who had attended the parliament of their country in its last moments, and who could find nothing in after-life to console them for the loss. I often heard Mr. Grattan speak upon that event. I had no national sympathy with his sorrow, yet I never found him more eloquent or interesting than when, in a circle of his private friends, he poured out his indignation against a measure that had baffled all his hopes, and his unavailing regret that he had been too confiding at a conjuncture, when it was possible to have averted the disaster. But I could discern no traces of similar sentiments in Mr. Plunket's looks. He was, however, a much younger man, and could form new views and attachments; nor is it perhaps surprising that at this distance of time he should not revert with sadness to an event, which in its consequences has opened to him so much larger a field for the exhibition of his powers.
Mr. Plunket's manner is not rhetorical—it is (what I consider much better) vigorous, natural, and earnest. He has no variety of gesture, and what he uses seems perfectly unstudied. He is evidently so thoroughly absorbed in his subject as to be quite unconscious that he has hands and arms to manage. He has a habit, when he warms, as he always and quickly does, of firmly closing both hands, raising them slowly and simultaneously above his head, and then suddenly striking them down with extraordinary force. The action is altogether ungraceful; but its strength, and I would even add, its appropriateness to the man and to his stern simplicity of character and style, atone for its inelegance. Besides, this very disdain of the externals of oratory has something imposing in it: you are made to feel that you are in the presence of a powerful mind that looks to itself alone, and you surrender yourself more completely to its guidance from the conviction that no hackneyed artifice has been employed to allure your confidence.
Mr. Plunket's delivery, as already mentioned, is uncommonly rapid, but his articulation is at the same time so distinct that I seldom lost a word. In calm discussion his intonations are deep, sonorous, and dignified when he becomes animated, his voice assumes a higher pitch, and the tones, though always natural and impressive, are occasionally shrill. His extemporaneous powers of expression are not to be described by the common term, fluency. It is not merely over words and phrases, but over every possible variety of construction, that he appears to hold an absolute command-the consciousness of this power often involves him in grammatical difficulties. He allows a thought to drift along into the midst of obstructions, from which no outlet can be descried, as if for the mere purpose of surprising you by his adroitness when he discovers the danger, steering it in safety through all the streights and intricacies of speech-or by the boldness with which he
forces a passage if he cannot find one. But it is only over argumenta tive diction that he has acquired this mastery: when he calls in the aid of sentiment and passion to enforce his logic, his phraseology labours, and, if the passage be unpremeditated, frequently falls short of the strength and dignity of the conception. But his deficiency in this respect evidently proceeds from want of practice, not of capacity; nor does the exertion that it costs him to supply appropriate language ever restrain him from illustrating a legal argument by any bold practical figure that may cross his mind.*
Mr. Plunket is a memorable, and I believe, a solitary instance of an eminent barrister whose general reputation has been increased by his parliamentary efforts. His speeches on the Union, in the Irish House of Commons, raised him at once to the first class of parliamentary orators. When he was returned by the University of Dublin (in 1812) to the imperial senate, Curran publicly predicted that his talents would create a similar sensation here: I need not add how completely the prophecy has been fulfilled. It would lead me too far to enter into a minute examination of Mr. Plunket's parliamentary style and manner; in many points I should have to repeat some of the foregoing remarks. I cannot, however, forbear to observe, that his language and views in the House of Commons discover a mind that has thoroughly escaped the noxious influence of his professional habits. He has shewn that it is possible for the same person to be a most subtle and dexterous disputant upon a technical subject, and a statesman-like reasoner upon a comprehensive one. With regard to his political tenets-his opposition to the Union, his connexion with the Whig administration of 1806, and his subsequent exertions in favour of Catholic Emancipation, seem to have placed him on the list of Irish patriots; but his support of popular privileges, where he has supported them, appears to be entirely unconnected with popular sympathies-his patriotism is a conclusion, not a passion. In all questions between the people and the state, it is easy to perceive that he identifies himself with the latter; he never, like Fox and Grattan, flings himself in imagination, into the popular ranks, to march at their head, and in their name, and as one of them, to demand a recognition of their rights. Mr. Plunket has not temperament for this. He studiously keeps aloof from the multitude, and even when their strenuous advocate, lets it be seen that he thinks for them not with them—he never warms into "the man of the people." His most animated appeals in their behalf retain the tone of a just and enlightened aristocrat, gravely and earnestly remonstrating with the
I shall cite a single example: it will also serve as a specimen of the proneness to imagery that prevails in the Irish courts. The question turned upon the right of presentation to a living. Mr. P.'s clients and their predecessors had been in undisturbed enjoyment of the right for two centuries; the opposite party called upon them to shew their original title. Mr. P. insisted upon the legal presumption, arising from this long possession, that the title had been originally a good one, though the deeds that had created it had been lost, and consequently could not be produced. In commenting upon the necessity and wisdom of such a rule of law, without which few properties of ancient standing could be secure, he observed"Time is the great destroyer of evidence, but he is also the great protector of titles. If he comes with a scythe in one hand to mow down the muniments of our possessions, he holds an hour-glass in the other, from which he incessantly metes out the portions of duration that are to render those muniments no longer necessary."
members of his own body upon the danger and inexpediency of holding out against the immutable and unconquerable instincts of human nature. The only exception that I recollect to these remarks, occurs in his speeches against the Union. There he boldly plunged into first principles; as among other instances when he exclaimed, "I in the most express terms deny the competency of parliament to do this act-I warn you, do not dare to lay your hand on the Constitution. I tell you, that, if circumstanced as you are you pass this act, it will be a nullity, and that no man in Ireland will be bound to obey it. I make the assertion deliberately-I repeat it and I call on any man who hears me to take down my words; you have not been elected for this purpose-you are appointed to make laws, and not legislatures. You are appointed to act under the Constitution, not to alter it; to exercise the functions of legislators, and not to transfer them; and if you do so, your act is a dissolution of the government: you resolve society into its original elements, and no man in the land is bound to obey you." Yet even here, and in some bolder declarations on the same occasion, I am inclined to suspect that Mr. Plunket assumed this indignant tone rather as a member of the assembly whose independence was assailed, than from any impassioned sympathy with the general rights of the body that he represented. Had the question been a popular reform, instead of the extinction of the Irish parliament, he would in all likelihood have been equally vehement in resisting the innovation.
Mr. Plunket's general reading is said to be limited; and if we may judge from the rareness of his allusions to the great writers of ancient and modern times, the opinion is not unfounded. When he was about to appear in the British parliament in 1812, it was whispered among his friends that he prepared himself with information on the general state of European politics from the most ordinary sources: he wanted facts, and he took the shortest and easiest method of collecting them. I have understood that up to a recent period, he frequently employed his leisure hours upon some elementary treatise of pure mathematics. If the fact be so, it affords a striking proof of the vigour of a mind which could find a relaxation in such a pursuit.
I have already glanced at a resemblance between Mr. Plunket and the late Sir Samuel Romilly. If I were to pursue the comparison into the private characters of the two men, the points of similarity would multiply, and in no particular more strikingly than in the softness and intensity of their domestic affections. But this is sacred ground: yet I cannot forbear to mention that it fell to my lot (when last in Ireland) sitting as a public auditor in the gallery of the Court of Chancery, to witness a burst of sensibility, which, coming from such a man as Mr. Plunket, and in such a place, sent an electric thrill of sympathy and respect through the breasts of the audience. An aged lady, on the day after her husband's death, had signed a paper resigning her right to a portion of property to which she became entitled by his decease, and the question was, whether her mind at the time was perfectly calm and collected. Mr. Plunket insisted that it was not in human nature that she could be so at such a crisis :-" She had received a blow such as stuns the strongest minds; after a union of half a century, of uninterrupted affection, to find the husband, the friend, the daily companion, suddenly called away for ever!" He was proceeding to describe
the first anguish and perturbation of spirit that must befal the survivor of such a relation, when he suddenly recognized in the picture all that he had himself a little while before endured. The recollection quite subdued him-he faltered, and became inarticulate even to sobbing. I cannot describe the effect produced throughout the Court.
I have thus attempted to present a sketch of this eminent Irishman, in matters of intellect unquestionably the most eminent that now exists. If I intended it to be any thing but a hasty sketch, I should feel that I have been unjust to him: some of his powers-his wit and irony, for example, in both of which he excels, and his cutting and relentless sarcasm where vice and folly are to be exposed-have been altogether unnoticed; but his is the "versatile ingenium," and in offering the result of my observations upon it, I have been compelled to select rather what I could best describe, than what I most admired; and even if I had succeeded in a delineation of all the powers that raise Mr. Plunket above ordinary men, I should have had to add, that our admiration of him is not limited by what we actually witness. We speculate upon his great attributes of intellect, and ask, "what might they not have achieved, had his destiny placed him in the situation most favourable to their perfect developement? If, instead of wasting them upon questions of transitory interest, he had dedicated them solely to the purposes of general science-to metaphysics, mathematics, legislation, morals, or (what is but spoken science) to that best and rarest kind of eloquence which awakes the passions only that they may listen to the voice of truth-to what a height and permanence of fame might they not have raised him?" These reflections perpetually force themselves upon Mr. Plunket's admirers: we lament to see the vigour of such a mind squandered upon a profession and a province. We are incessantly reminded, that, high and successful as his career has been, his opportunities have been far beneath his resources, and thus, judging him rather by what he could do, than what he has done, we are disposed to speak of him in terms of encomium which no records of his genius will remain to justify.*
TO THE HARVEST MOON.
AGAIN thou reignest in thy golden hall
Rejoicing in thy sway, fair Queen of night!
Sweet orb! thou smilest from thy starry height,
Earth hath fulfill'd her trust through all her lands;
Come to his gates, alas! with empty hands.
Since the above was written Mr. Plunket has become once more Attorney General for Ireland.
LOVE is a bird of summer skies;
From cold and from winter he soon departs: He basks in the beam of good-humour'd eyes,
And delights in the warmth of open hearts:
And Love, in the shape of a mortal sprite,
The sun would shine no more:
But chills and clouds the sky deform,
Cold and dark as December's storm.
It chanced in one of these winter showers,
No one knew why,
And frighten'd poor Love from his garden of flowers;
Till he came to a bower that stood hard by;
Here all was a sunny summer's day,
And never a cloud came over that eye;
But, morning and night,
With spirit, and joy, and courtesy.
He laid himself down-the hours flew o'er,
Without shadow, or fear,
And each moment was sweet as the one before.
Reclin'd in the bower of Adelaide.
"No matter," said she, "let him wander awhile,
The danger of playing with Love, to their cost.
And Harriet, though she would not tell
That she loved the wanderer much and well,
The weather in future might be more gay.
I am perfectly happy and free from care;
I never saw other than summer here,
And why run the risk of a winter there?"