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I was seated at breakfast one bright Romanwinter morning with the Princess Borghese, at her villa Paolina, near the Porta Pia, and within view of the ruins of the Prætorian barracks, when letters from the post were brought in. The Princess turned to the Chevalier - her agent and chamberlain, and requested him to read and answer one of them immediately; adding, “ You know precisely what I ought to say, and will say it better than I can.”—“The Chevalier," I said, as he retreated to an adjoining room, “ appears to be an excellent person. It must be a great advantage, in your Highness's present position, to have so tried an adherent of your family, to assist you with his experience and advice.”
“ Oui,” she replied, “ c'est Thomme du monde le plus respectable. C'étoit le Chancelier pour mon Duché, car mon frère ne m'a pas donné de Royaume."*
What a trait ! How super-exquisite ; but oh! for the careless nonchalante air with which in the intervals of two sips of chocolate, “ my brother did not give me a kingdom," was uttered !
“ Do this, and this,
I give this dialogue, exactly as it was uttered. A veracious recital of the most ordinary conversation, goes beyond the effort of fiction; and there is nothing in the doctrine of possibilities, however extravagant, which is not equalled or surpassed by fact.
“ Yes, he is the most excellent person in the world. He was the chancellor of my duchy ; for my brother did not give me a kingdom.”
I was talking yesterday to a gentleman of the birth, parentage, and education, of Mr. Canning; all of which have been for ever misrepresented by the political enemies of that eminent man, was the grandson," said my informant, “ of the well known Counsellor Canning of Garva, who, as an Irishman, of ancient birth, large possessions, and as a member of the Irish legislature, was a person of the very highest consideration.”
“ Then why do you call him counsellor, as a title of distinction.”
“ Because in Counsellor Canning's day, it was a distinction. A papist might have a noble descent, a large property, and an historical name, but he could not be a counsellor."
Whatever marked the distinctive privileges of the Protestant ascendancy, was a grade in itself, a dignity guarded by the laws of the land, and an assurance of personal gentility. Up to the middle of the last century, all the liberal professions were closed against the Catholic gentry of Ireland; but it was a dignity to belong to the bar, even among protestants ; for the candidate for its honours was obliged to study in London, which at that time was an affair of no inconsiderable enterprize and effort. The uncertain sea voyage, and long land journey, were attended with a heavy expense, some risk, and considerable labour. Wales being then inaccessible to carriages, that part of the journey was made on hired horses ; and not less than three weeks were occasionally passed in the transit from Dublin to London. To be a counsellor, therefore, was in itself the mark of a certain considerable wealth and respectability.
“ Counsellor,” is still prefixed as a title of distinction by the common people, and by all the secondrate Catholics, to the names of barristers; and even the feudal cognomen of “the O'Connell” loses nothing by the professional dignity of counsellor, which the Kerry clients of that gentleman, the ex-subjects of his dynasty, never fail to give him.
A short time before the death of Grattan, “ our husband and ourself” drove from the house of our old friend General C, to pay a visit at Tenahinch. We had taken a wrong road, within a mile or two of that beautiful spot; and we stopped to inquire our way of an old woman, who sat spinning at a cabin door. “ Pray, which is the road to Mr. Grattan's ?”
“ Misther Grattan! Och, sorrow know myself knows, no, in troth, Mar’m." 6 What! not know where Tenahinch is ?"
Tinnyhinch, agrah! Och, it's the counsellor's yez are looking for; well, turn here, just to the right, and any body will tell yez where the counsellor's is; just a stone's throw from the Dargle. Sorrow one in the country but knows the counsellor's.”
The counsellor, then, was the distinctive epithet by which the poor neighbours of Tenahinch best knew “the father of his country." It was the title of his ascendancy; and power is always uppermost in the Irish mind.
How deeply has the iron of oppression entered into the soul of the Irish nation, and how much