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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
SKETCHES OF THE IRISH BAR.-NO. VI.
Mr. O'Connell. Ir any one of you, my English readers, being a stranger in Dublin, should chance, as you return upon a winter's morning from one of the “ small and early parties of that raking metropolis, that is to say, between the hours of five and six o'clock, to pass along the south side of Merrion Square, you will not fail to observe that among
those splendid mansions, there is one evidently tenanted by a person whose habits differ materially from those of his fashionable neighbours. The half-opened parlour-shutter, and the light within, announces that some one dwells there whose time is too precious to permit him to regulate his rising with the sun's. Should your curiosity tempt you to ascend the steps, and, under cover of the dark, to reconnoitre the interior, you will see a tall able-bodied man standing at a desk, and immersed in solitary occupation. Upon the wall in front of him there hangs a crucifix. From this, and from the calm attitude of the person within, and from a certain monastic rotundity about his neck and shoulders, your first impression will be, that he must be some pious dignitary of the Church of Rome absorbed in his matin devotions. But this conjecture will be rejected almost as soon as formed. No sooner can the eye take in the other furniture of the apartment, the book-cases clogged with tomes in plain calf-skin binding, the blue-covered octavos that lie about on the tables and the floor, the reams of manuscript in oblong folds and begirt with crimson tape, than it becomes evident that the party meditating amidst such objects must be thinking far more of the law than the prophets. He is, unequivocally, a barrister, but apparently of that homely, chamber-keeping, plodding cast, who labour hard to wake up by assiduity what they want in wit—who are up and stirring before the bird of the morning has sounded the retreat to the wandering spectre-and are already brain-deep in the dizzying vortex of mortgages and cross-remainders, and mergers and remitters; while his clients, still lapped in sweet oblivion of the law's delay, are fondly dreaming that their cause is peremptorily set down for a final hearing. Having come to this conclusion, you push on for home, blessing your stars on the way that you are not a lawyer, and sincerely compassionating the sedentary drudge whom you have just detected in the performance of his cheerless toil. But should you happen in the course of the same day to stroll down to the Four Courts, you will be not a little surprised to find the object of your pity miraculously transferred from the severe recluse of the morning into one of the most bustling, important, and joyous personages in that busy scene. There you will be sure to
VOL. VIII. NO. XXXI.
see him, his countenance braced up and glistening with health and spirits-with a huge, plethoric bag, which his robust arms can scarcely sustain, clasped with paternal fondness to his breast—and environed by a living palisade of clients and attorneys, with outstretched necks, and mouths and ears agape, to catch up any chance-opinion that may be coaxed out of him in a colloquial way, or listening to what the client relishes still better, for in no event can they be slided into a bill of costs, the counsellor's bursts of jovial and familiar humour, or, when he touches on a sadder strain, his prophetic assurances that the hour of Ireland's redemption is at hand. You perceive at once that you have lighted upon a great popular advocate, and if you take the trouble to follow his movements for a couple of hours through the several Courts, you will not fail to discover the qualities that have made him so-his legal competency_his business-like habits—his sanguine temperament, which renders him not merely the advocate but the partisan of his client--his acuteness—his fluency of thought and language--his unconquerable good humour-and, above all, his versatility. By the hour of three, when the judges usually rise, you will have seen him go through a quantity of business, the preparation for, and performance of which, would be sufficient to wear down an ordinary constitution, and you naturally suppose that the remaining portion of the day must of necessity be devoted to recreation or repose : but here again you will be mistaken ; for should you feel disposed, as you return from the Courts, to drop in to any of the public meetings that are almost daily held for some purpose, or to no purpose, in Dublin, to a certainty you will find the counsellor there before you, the presiding spirit of the scene, riding in the whirlwind, and directing the storm of popular debate, with a strength of lungs, and redundancy of animation, as if he had that moment started fresh for the labours of the day. There he remains, until, by dint of strength or dexterity, he has carried every point; and from thence, if you would see him to the close of the day's is eventful history,” you will, in all likelihood, have to follow him to a public dinner, from which, after having acted a conspicuous part in the turbulent festivity of the evening, and thrown off half a dozen speeches in praise of Ireland, he retires at a late hour to repair the wear and tear of the day by a short interval of repose, and is sure to be found before dawn-break next morning at his solitary post, recommencing the routine of his restless existence. Now, any one who has once seen, in the preceding situations, the able-bodied, able-minded, acting, talking, multifarious person I have been just describing, has no occasion to enquire his name—he may be assured that he is, and can be no other than “ Kerry's pride and Munster's glory,” the far-famed and indefatigable Daniel O'Connell.
Mr. O'Connell was born about eight and forty years ago, in that part of the united kingdoms of Ireland and Kerry, called Kerry. He is said to be descended in a mathematically and morally straight line from the ancient kings of Ivera.* The discrowned family, however, have something better than the saddening boast of regal descent to prop their pride. His présent ex-majesty of Ivera, Mr. Daniel O'Connell's uncle, has a territorial revenue of four or five thousand a
* One of the kingdoms of the county of Kerry.