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the North-Western Circuit; although his keen insight into the humours and habits of the peasantry enabled him to deal with them most effectively in the witnessbox. His defence of a horse-stealer made him so popular with the fraternity that one of them was heard exclaiming, 'I tell you what, boys: if I'm lagged for the next horse I steal, by Jabers I'll have Plunket.'

A prevaricating witness under cross-examination complained that the counsellor had bothered him ' entirely,' and given him the maigrims. Maigrims,' said Lord Avonmore: 'I never heard that word before.' 'My lord,' interposed Plunket, the witness says I have given him the megrims, a bilious affection, merely a confusion of the head arising from the corruption of the heart.'



It was after his talents had been thoroughly tested and appreciated in the higher walks of business, that the leaders of the Opposition became anxious to secure his services as a parliamentary debater, and in the spring of 1798 Lord Charlemont sought an interview for the purpose of offering him a seat. But Lord Charlemont was opposed to Catholic Emancipation, and they separated with an expression of regret by Plunket, that while holding the same political opinions on almost every other topic, on one subject they were not of one mind, and he therefore declined to be a nominee of his lordship, for fear of being obliged to act against his wishes.' He was too valuable a recruit to be let slip in this fashion. Lord Charlemont requested another visit, which ended satisfactorily to both parties, and the patriot earl afterwards confessed to his son that 'Plunket prevailed over his old prejudice.'

Plunket took his seat for the borough of Charlemont on February 6th, 1798, and almost immediately came into collision with Lord Cstlereagh on the allabsorbing topic of the Union. No adversary of that noble lord assailed him with so much keen sarcasm,



so much vehement invective, so much biting personality. Yet Lord Castlereagh bore up against it with his habitual fearlessness and his usual imperturbable mien: never once suffering his temper to be ruffled, nor attempting to bring the Castle system of intimidation into play. Indeed Plunket's occasional vehemence (not to say violence) of language never brought on a duel; nor, so far as we can learn, ever provoked a challenge; the most plausible explanation being that the loftiness of his language redeemed or mitigated its offensiveness, and that a man of his earnest temperament, rapt up in his subject, neither gives nor takes affronts like one who is evidently aiming at applause and wounds the self-love of others to gratify his own. Certain it is that he took the first opportunity of delivering a meditated diatribe against Lord Castlereagh, which stands unsurpassed for polished bitterness, after giving distinct notice that he was about to stretch the privileges of debate to the uttermost verge. On Barrington's being called to order by Corry and Beresford for denouncing the means which the Government were employing to carry their measure, Plunket rose and said :—

'I have no idea that the freedom of debate shall be controlled by such frequent interruptions. I do not conceive that my honourable friend is out of order, but when my turn comes to speak, I shall repeat these charges in still stronger language, if possible, and indulge gentlemen on the other side of the House with an opportunity of taking down my words, if they have any fancy to do so.

When his turn came, after forcibly recapitulating the charges of intimidation and corruption, he fell, with the full weight of indignant patriotism and outraged public virtue, on Lord Castlereagh

'The example of the Prime Minister of England, inimitable in its vices, may deceive the noble lord. The Minister of England has his faults; he abandoned in his latter years

the principles of reform, by professing which he obtained the early confidence of the people of England, and in the whole of his political conduct he has shown himself haughty and intractable; but it must be admitted that he has shown himself by nature endowed with a towering and transcendent intellect, and that the vastness of his moral resources keeps pace with the magnificence and unboundedness of his projects. I thank God it is much more easy for him to transfer his apostasy and his insolence than his comprehension and sagacity, and I feel the safety of my country in the wretched feebleness of her enemy. I cannot fear that the Constitution which has been formed by the wisdom of ages, and cemented by the blood of patriots and of heroes, is to be smitten to its centre by such a green and sapless twig as this.'

In reference to the term sapless, coupled with 'impotent instrument' in the same speech, Mr. O'Flanagan says: There was terrible force in this allusion.. It is also said that, when Teeling's mother was refused pardon for her son, implicated in the rebellion of 1798, she said to Lord Castlereagh: "You cannot comprehend my feelings, my lord: I remember you have no child." We fully acquit Plunket of intending any allusion of the sort. Under the show of apologizing for vehemence, he grows more vehement :

'But, Sir, we are told that we should discuss this question with calmness and composure. I am called on to surrender my birthright and my honour, and I am told I should be calm and should be composed. National pride! Independence of our country! These, we are told by the Minister, are only vulgar topics fitted but for the meridian of the mob, but unworthy to be mentioned to such an enlightened assembly as this; they are trinkets and gewgaws fit to catch the fancy of childish and unthinking people like you, Sir, or like your predecessor in that chair, but utterly unworthy the consideration of this House, or of the matured understanding of the noble Lord who condescends to instruct it! Gracious God! We see a Perry reascending from the tomb and raising his awful voice to warn us against the surrender of our freedom, and we see that the proud and virtuous feel

ings, which warm the breast of that aged and venerable man, are only calculated to excite the contempt of this young philosopher, who has been transplanted from the nursery to the Cabinet to outrage the feelings and understandings of the country.'

This fine apostrophe is impaired by the same incongruity which we noted in the railing matches between Curran and Fitz Gibbon. Lord Castlereagh was in his thirtieth year in 1798, and his appearance and manner must have been singularly youthful to give even temporary effect to these sarcasms against his youth. He was, however, always distinguished by his firm, manly, aristocratic bearing, and his self-control. There was not a particle of boyish vivacity or petulance in his composition. No public character has made so perceptible an advance in public estimation as his, in exact proportion as it has become known; and it is clear, from his Correspondence, that the same statesmanlike views which he carried out in after life animated him when he was denounced as the narrowminded foe of his native country on the floor of the Irish House of Commons.1

The tendency to make facts subordinate to effect is not peculiar to rhetorical historians; vehement speakers are equally subject to it. Nor are they uniformly discreet. In this same speech Plunket was hurried into a declaration or vow of which he had ample reason to repent :

For my part, I will resist it (the Union) to the last gasp of my existence, and with the last drop of my blood; and, when I feel the hour of my dissolution approaching, I will,

1 Mr. Charles Phillips told me a story of Lord Castlereagh which is not included in his 'Recollections.' Lord C. was in treaty with a member for his vote, when the honourable gentleman fell ill and was, or thought himself, so near death that, on his recovery, he requested an interview with his lordship, to state that he bitterly repented of what he had done, and intended to take the first opportunity of making a clean breast of it to the House. And if you do,' coolly replied Lord C., 'I will give you the lie direct on the înstant, and shoot you the next morning.'


like the father of Hannibal, take my children to the altar, and swear them to eternal hostility against the invaders of their country's freedom.'

This is the passage on which Cobbett harped with annoying pertinacity, nicknaming the children the young Hannibals, and periodically reminding the father that, instead of swearing his sons to eternal hostility against the British Government, he had sworn them into good places under it. In the cold, calm, and often chilling atmosphere of the English House of Commons, the orator who soars into the sublime does so at the imminent risk of a collapse. The wings of Mr. Bright's angel of death, when (in the debate on the Crimean War) you might almost hear their rustling,' were within an ace of being clipped: But the most excited speaker in the closing days of the Irish Parliament, combating for its existence, was addressing an audience little less excited than himself. Metaphors gathered from every branch of art, science, and literature, were profusely lavished and enthusiastically applauded. Plunket's answer to the popular argument for an Union is an example:

'The two Parliaments may clash! So in Great Britain may King and Parliament; but we see they never do so injuriously. There are principles of repulsion! Yes;. but there are principles of attraction, and from these the enlightened statesman extracts the principle by which the countries are to be harmoniously governed. As soon would I listen to the shallow observer of nature, who should say there is a centrifugal force impressed on our globe, and therefore, lest we should be hurried into the void of space, we ought to rush into the centre to be consumed there. No; I say to this rash arraigner of the dispensations of the Almighty, there are impulses from whose wholesome opposition eternal wisdom has declared the law by which we revolve in our proper sphere, and at our proper distance. So I say to the political visionary, From the opposite forces which you object to, I see the wholesome law of imperial

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