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RICHARD LALOR SHEIL
whose boldness have placed him in the topmost place in his party,—who, disdaining all imposture, and thinking it the best course to appeal directly to the religious and national antipathies of the people of this country; abandoning all reserve, and flinging off the slender veil by which his political associates affect to cover, although they cannot hide, their motives ; dislinctly and audaciously tells the Irish people that they are not entitled to the same privileges as Englishmen; and pronounces them, in any particular which could enter his minute enumeration of the circumstances by which fellow-citizenship is created, in race, identity and religion, to be aliens :—to be aliens in race, to be aliens in country, aliens in religion ! Aliens ! good God! was Arthur, Duke of Wellington, in the House of Lords, and did he not start up and exclaim: “HOLD! I HAVE SEEN THE ALIENS DO THEIR DUTY?”
The Duke of Wellington is not a man of an excitable temperament. His mind is of a cast too martial to be easily moved ; but, notwithstanding his habitual inflexibility, I cannot help thinking that, when he heard his Roman Catholic countrymen (for we are his countrymen) designated by a phrase as offensive as the abundant vocabulary of his eloquent confederate could supply,–I cannot help thinking that he ought to have recollected the many fields of fight in which we have been contributors to his renown.
“The battles, sieges, fortunes that he has passed,” ought to have come back upon him. He ought to have remembered that, from the earliest achievement in which he displayed that military genius which has placed him foremost in the annals of modern warfare, down to that last and surpassing combat which has made his name imperishable,-from Assaye to Waterloo,—the Irish soldiers, with whom your armies are filled, were the inseparable auxiliaries to the glory with which his unparalleled successes have been crowned.
Whose were the arms that drove your bayonets at Vimiéra through the phalanxes that never reeled in the shock of war before ? What desperate valor climbed the steeps and filled the moats at Badajos ?
All his victories should have rushed and crowded back upon his memory— Vimiéra, Badajos, Salamanca, Albuéra, Toulouse, and, last of all, the greatest Tell me, -for you were there, -I appeal to the gallant soldier before me (Sir Henry Hardinge), from whose opinions I differ, but who bears, I know, a generous heart in an intrepid breast;,-for
you must needs remember,-on that day when the destinies of mankind were trembling in the balance, while death fell in showers, when the artillery of France was levelled with a precision of the most deadly science; when her legions, incited by the voice and inspired by
RICHARD LALOR SHEIL
the example of their mighty leader, rushed again and again to the onset,
-tell me if, for an instant, when to hesitate for an instant was to be lost, the "aliens”' blenched ?
And when, at length, the moment for the last and decided movement had arrived, and the valor which had so long been wisely checked was, at last, let loose,—when, with words familiar, but immortal, the great captain commanded the great assault,—tell me if Catholic Ireland with less heroic valor than the natives of this your own glorious country precipitated herself upon the foe?
The blood of England, Scotland, and of Ireland flowed in the same stream, and drenched the same field. When the chill morning dawned, their dead lay cold and stark together; in the same deep pit their bodies were deposited; the green corn of spring is now breaking from their commingled dust; the dew falls from heaven upon their union in the grave. Partakers in every peril, in the glory shall we not be permitted to participate ; and shall we be told, as a requital, that we are estranged from the noble country for whose salvation our life blood was poured out?
THE HORRORS OF CIVIL WAR War in Ireland would be worse than civil. A demon would take possession of the nation's heart, -every feeling of humanity would be extinguished, -neither to sex nor to age would mercy be given. The country would be deluged with blood; and when that deluge had subsided, it would be a sorry consolation to a British statesman, when he gazed upon the spectacle of desolation which Ireland would then present to him, that he beheld the spires of your Established Church still standing secure amidst the desert with which they would be encompassed. You have adjured us, in the name of the oath which we have sworn on the gospel of God, I adjure you, in the name of every precept contained in that holy book; in the name of that religion which is the perfection of humanity; in the name of every obligation, divine and human; as you are men and Christians, to save my country from those evils to which I point, and to remember, that if you shall be the means of precipitating that country into perdition, posterity will deliver its great finding against you, and that you will not only be answerable to posterity, but responsible to that Judge, in whose presence, clothed with the blood of civil warfare, it will be more than dreadful to appear.
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY
HE whole story of Macaulay's life is too broad for us to detail
here, our concern being simply with his record as an orator.
Whatever he touched he adorned. There are no essays with the glowing charm of those of Macaulay. There is no history which holds its readers so entranced. There are no poems with the galloping swing of his “ Lays of Ancient Rome ” and his “ Battle of Ivory," and in oratory his marvelous power in the use of language is equally displayed. While a student at Cambridge he won distinction as an orator, and on entering Parliament in 1830 he fulfilled the highest expectations of his friends. His speeches on the Reform Bill and on the renewal of the charter of the East India Company were among the finest examples of his powers. His rapidity of speech, however, detracted from the effect of his orations, and they are among those that are more effective when read than they were in delivery. Of his style as writer and orator it is said, “Its characteristics are vigor, animation, copiousness, clearness, above all, sound English, now a rare excellence."
SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE [We cannot offer a more interesting example of Macaulay's oratorical style and method of handling than in the following extract from the speech delivered by him at the opening of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institute, in 1846. Its lucid picturing of the superficiality of all human knowledge is marked by his most effective lucidity and interest of statement and charmi of manner.]
Some men, of whom I wish to speak with great respect, are haunted, as it seems to me, with an unreasonable fear of what they call superficial knowledge. Knowledge, they say, which really deserves the name, is a
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY
great blessing to mankind, the ally of virtue, the harbinger of freedom. But such knowledge must be profound. A crowd of people who have a smattering of mathematics, a smattering of astronomy, a smattering of chemistry, who have read a little poetry and a little history, is dangerous to the commonwealth. Such half knowledge is worse than ignorance. And then the authority of Pope is vouched : “ Drink deep or taste not;' shallow drafts intoxicate; drink largely and that will sober you. I must confess that the danger which alarms these gentlemen never seemed to me very serious; and my reason is this, that I never could prevail upon any person who pronounced superficial knowledge a curse and profound knowledge a blessing to tell me what was his standard of profundity. The argument proceeds on the supposition that there is some line between profound and superficial knowledge similar to that which separates truth from falsehood. I know of no such line. When we talk of men of deep science, do we mean that they have got to the bottom or near the bottom of science? Do we mean that they know all that is capable of being known? Do we mean even that they know, in their own special department, all that the smatterers of the next generation will know? Why, if we compare the little truth that we know with the infinite mass of truth which we do not know, we are all shallow together, and the greatest philosophers that ever lived would be the first to confess their shallowness. If we could call up the first of human beings, if we could call up Newton and ask him whether, even in those sciences in which he had no rival, he considered himself as profoundly knowing, he would have told us that he was but a smatterer like ourselves and that the difference between his knowledge and ours vanished when compared with the quantity of truth still undiscovered, just as the distance between a person at the foot of Ben Lomond and one at the top of Ben Lomond vanishes when compared with the distance of the fixed stars.
It is evident, then, that those who are afraid of superficial knowledge, do not mean by superficial knowledge knowledge which is superficial when compared with the whole quantity of truth capable of being known. For, in that sense, all human knowledge is, and always has been, and always must be, superficial. What, then, is the standard ? Is it the same two years together in any country? Is it the same, at the same moment, in any two countries? Is it not notorious that the profundity of one nation is the shallowness of a neighboring nation ? Ramohun Roy passed, among Hindoos, for a man of profound Western learning ; but he would have been but a very superficial member of this institute. Strabo was justly entitled to be called a profound geographer eighteen hundred years ago; but a teacher of geography who had never heard of
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY
America would now be laughed at by the girls of a boarding school What would now be thought of the greatest chemist of 1746 or of the greatest geologist of 1746? The truth is that, in all experimental science, mankind is, of necessity, constantly advancing. Every generation, of course, has its front rank and its rear rank; but the rear rank of a later generation occupies the ground which was occupied by the front rank of a former generation.
You remember Gulliver's adventures. First he is shipwrecked in a country of little men, and he is a Colossus among them. He strides over the walls of their capital; he stands higher than the cupola of their great temple; he tugs after him a royal fleet; he stretches his legs, and a royal army, with drums beating and colors flying, marches through the gigantic arch; he devours a whole granary for breakfast, eats a herd of cattle for dinner, and washes down his meal with all the hogsheads of a cellar. In his next voyage he is among men sixty feet high. He who in Lilliput used to take people up in his hand in order that he might be able to hear them, is himself taken up in the hands and held to the ears of his masters. It is all that he can do to defend himself with his hanger against the rats and mice. The court ladies amuse themselves with seeing him fight wasps and frogs; the monkey runs off with him to the chimney top; the dwarf drops him into the cream jug and leaves him to swim for his life. Now, was Gulliver a tall or a short man? Why, in his own house at Rotherhithe, he was thought a man of the ordinary stature. Take him to Lilliput, and he is Quinbus Flestrin, the Man Mountain. Take him to Brobdingnag, and he is Grildig, the little Manikin. It is the same in science. The pigmies of one society would have passed for giants in another.
It might be amusing to institute a comparison between one of the profoundly learned men of the thirteenth century and one of the superficial students who will frequent our library. Take the great philosopher of the time of Henry III. of England, or Alexander III. of Scotland, the man renowned all over the island, and even as far as Italy and Spain, as the first of astronomers and chemists. What is his astronomy? He is a firm believer in the Ptolemaic system. He never heard of the law of gravitation. Tell him that the succession of day and night is caused by the turning of the earth on its axis. Tell him that in consequence of this motion, the polar diameter of the earth is shorter than the equatorial diameter. Tell him that the succession of summer and winter is caused by the revolution of the earth round the sun. If he does not set you down for an idiot, he lays an information against you before the Bishop and has you burned for a heretic. To do him justice, however, if he is ill-informed on these points, there are other points on which Newton and Laplace