Изображения страниц

being chosen president of the executive council, afterwards holding the office of minister of agriculture.

His political views had by this time changed very considerably. He abandoned all the revolutionary doctrines of his youth, and became the loyal adherent of the British connection. He also gained notoriety by some imprudent and vehement attacks upon those of his countrymen who still persisted in revolutionary ways. In 1865 he visited Ireland as representative of Canada at the Dublin Industrial Exhibition, and, during a visit to his father's home at Wexford, he delivered a lecture in which he bitterly denounced the then rising portent of Fenianism. The result of this, naturally, was to make him still more obnoxious to the revolutionary party.


In 1867 he was again in Europe, this time as commissioner to the Paris Exhibition. was busied at this period with the important work of confederating the various Canadian colonies—a large and wise measure which was greatly due to his initiative. The raids which had been made on Canada provoked him to still more bitter attacks on the Fenians, and further estranged from him the sympathies of certain classes of his countrymen. A large number of his fellow-citizens entertained for him, on the other hand, feelings of deep respect, and on St. Patrick's Day, 1868, this feeling found expression in one of the most successful banquets ever given in Canada to a public man. This, as we have said, was on March 17. On the night of April 7 following, M'Gee was assassinated by a man supposed to. be connected with some revolutionary organization. He had spoken that very evening, and with his usual vigour, in the legislative assembly, and had only just parted from one of his colleagues. His assassin was captured and executed shortly afterwards. This tragic end evoked deep expressions of feeling; and his funeral was made the occasion of a great demonstration of public esteem.

The best known and most favourable results of M'Gee's literary activity are his poems-a volume of which was published after his death. Many of these are of a very high order of merit, full of passion and eloquence, tenderness and melody. He wrote besides an excellent History of Ireland, Lives of Irish Writers (published 1846), History of the Irish Settlers in North America (1851), Catholic History of North America (1854), and other works. His speeches are also marked by great vigour and eloquence.]

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]


Paler and thinner the morning moon grew, Colder and sterner the rising wind blew The pole-star had set in a forest of cloud, And the icicles crackled on spar and on shroud, When a voice from below we heard feebly cry, "Let me see-let me see-my own Land ere I die.

"Ah, dear sailor, say, have we sighted Cape Clear? Can you see any sign? Is the morning light near? You are young, my brave boy; thanks, thanks, for your hand,

Help me up, till I get a last glimpse of the landThank God, 'tis the sun that now reddens the sky, I shall see I shall see my own Land ere I die.

"Let me lean on your strength, I am feeble and old, And one half of my heart is already stone cold— Forty years work a change! when I first crossed the sea

There were few on the deck that could grapple with me;

But my prime and my youth in Ohio went by, And I'm come back to see the old spot ere I die."

'Twas a feeble old man, and he stood on the deck,
His arm round a kindly young mariner's neck,
His ghastly gaze fixed on the tints of the east,
As a starvling might stare at the sound of a feast;-
The morn quickly rose, and revealed to his eye
The Land he had prayed to behold, and then die!
Green, green was the shore, though the year was
near done-

High and haughty the capes the white surf dash'd


A grey ruined convent was down by the strand, And the sheep fed afar, on the hills of the land! "God be with you, dear Ireland," he gasped with a sigh,

"I have lived to behold you-I'm ready to die."
He sunk by the hour, and his pulse 'gan to fail,
As we swept by the headland of storied Kinsale-
Off Ardigna bay, it came slower and slower,
And his corpse was clay cold as we sighted Tramore.
At Passage we waked him, and now he doth lie,
In the lap of the Land, he beheld but to die.


If will had wings, how fast I'd flee

To the home of my heart o'er the seething sea! If wishes were power-if words were spells, I'd be this hour where my own love dwells.

My own love dwells in the storied land, Where the Holy Wells sleep in yellow sand;

And the emerald lustre of Paradise beams
Over homes that cluster round singing streams.

I, sighing alas! exist alone-
My youth is as grass on an unsunn'd stone,
Bright to the eye, but unfelt below-
As sunbeams that lie over Arctic snow.

My heart is a lamp that love must relight,
Or the world's fire-damp will quench it quite.
In the breast of my dear my life-tide springs-
Oh! I'd tarry none here, if will had wings.

For she never was weary of blessing me, When morn rose dreary on thatch and tree; She evermore chanted her song of faith, When darkness daunted on hill and heath.

If will had wings, how fast I'd flee
To the home of my heart o'er the seething sea!
If wishes were power-if words were spells,
I'd be this hour where my own love dwells.

THE DEATH OF O'CAROLAN.' There is an empty seat by many a board,

A guest is missed in hostelry and hall— There is a harp hung up in Alderford

That was in Ireland sweetest harp of all. The hand that made it speak, woe's me, is cold,

The darkened eyeballs roll inspired no more; The lips-the potent lips-gape like a mould,

Where late the golden torrent floated o'er.

In vain the watchman looks from Mayo's towers For him whose presence filled all hearts with mirth;

In vain the gathered guests outsit the hours,

The honoured chair is vacant by the hearth. From Castle-Archdall, Moneyglass, and Trim,

The courteous messages go forth in vain, Kind words no longer have a joy for him

Whose lowly lodge is in death's dark demesne. Kilronan Abbey is his castle now,

And there till doomsday peacefully he'll stay; In vain they weave new garlands for his brow, In vain they go to meet him by the way; In kindred company he does not tire,

The native dead and noble lie around, His life-long song has ceased, his wood and wire Rest, a sweet harp unstrung, in holy ground. Last of our ancient Minstrels! thou who lent A buoyant motive to a foundering raceWhose saving song, into their being blent,

Sustained them by its passion and its grace,God rest you! May your judgment dues be light,

Dear Turlogh! and the purgatorial days Be few and short, till clothed in holy white, Your soul may come before the throne of rays.

For a notice of this bard, see vol. i. p. 156.


[Mr. William M'Cullagh Torrens was born in Dublin in October, 1813, being the eldest son of Mr. James M'Cullagh, of Greenfield. In 1863 he assumed his maternal name for family reasons. He began his distinguished public career many years back. Having graduated in Trinity College, Dublin, he was admitted to the Irish and afterwards to the English bar; and for several years he practised with success, especially before parliamentary committees. After he had held office as a commissioner of inquiry into the operation of the poor-law in Ireland, and as private secretary to Lord Taunton (then Mr. Henry Whatever may have been the effects of life Labouchere), he represented Dundalk from passed in the whirl of distraction and indul1848 to 1852. In the latter year he unsuc-gence which characterized the early days of cessfully contested Yarmouth, and he was the regency, they were nowhere more traceequally unfortunate in 1857, for, having been able perhaps than upon the young and imreturned, he was afterwards unseated on peti- pressionable dwellers at Melbourne House. tion. In 1865 he was elected for Finsbury. Lady Melbourne had ceased, indeed, to be The parliamentary career of Mr. Torrens has more than casually amused by whims or novbeen active, and he has succeeded on more elties; and she moved on in her own dipthan one occasion in making important and lomatic way, observant of all that was going even vital changes in the measures brought on around her in looks and spirits, less brilforward by ministers. For instance, it was liant than she once had been, though still not on his proposal that the lodger franchise was a bit like sixty-two: in artifices of dress and granted on the household suffrage bill of arts of manner more consummate than ever. Lord Beaconsfield (then Mr. Disraeli), and an Like Lady Holland at Kensington and Lady amendment of his to the education measure Spencer at St. James's Place, her ascendency of Mr. Forster led to the establishment of the in the household was supreme; yet there London School Board. He also passed the were some things her influence could not conmeasure which has done so much to improve trol, some energies she could not fire. Wilthe dwellings of the poor. To the pen of Mr. liam would do anything to please her when Torrens we owe several valuable contributions asked; but she knew it was no use always to political history. He has written biogra- asking him to work as others worked for poliphies of Sheil, Sir James Graham, and, quite tical advancement. Disenchantment seemed recently, Lord Melbourne, a most interesting to have spread its insidious spell over him; and brightly written volume, from which we and though weary enough of ennui, she could make our quotation. He is also the author not bring him, and he could not bring himof Lectures on the Study of History, Indus- self, to set about any undertaking requiring trial History of Free Nations, and a scathing effort or toil. His wife, unceasingly active, review of British action in India, under the spent her existence with as little concentitle, Empire in Asia, How we came by it; a tration of aim. Painting, music, reading, Book of Confessions. The active pen of Mr. writing verses, patronizing plays, taking part Torrens is now engaged in a political study, in private theatricals, dreaming romantically, which ought to prove extremely instructive. and talking in a way to make people stare; It is a contrast in the form of two biogra- riding on horseback, often coquetting, somephies between "Proconsul and Tribune"-the times quarrelling (she hardly knew about proconsul being the Marquis of Wellesley, what) with her husband, trying to please her and the tribune Daniel O'Connell. The first father-in-law, who thought her a fidget; and volume (the "Life of Lord Wellesley") has been published.]


[Lady Caroline Lamb was the wife of the Hon. Mr. Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne, and prime minister. Her love escapade with Byron is well known, and has been referred to in the memoir of the Hon. Mrs. Norton. It may be necessary to explain that "William" in the following passage from the biography is Lord Melbourne, at that period the Hon. William Lamb: Lady Melbourne is his mother.]

1 Extracted by permission of the author.

trying to please her child, whose wistful gaze | the petulance of his 'prentice rhymes, aided

of incurious wonder made her for the moment staid and sad:-these and a world of intermingling trifles filled up her time. But her versatility found no resting-place, and the fatal habit of mentally looking into the glass grew upon her day by day. Her quick powers of appreciation were thrown away upon a glittering crowd of forms and faces, but few of which she paused to look at long enough to be able to caricature. None of the remarkable persons whom she met in society fixed her attention or riveted her fancy. It was not a profitable condition of mind, but it had been well for her and all who loved her had her butterflyhood continued longer. Out of the unknown a new influence was about to break forth on English society, and especially upon that portion of it wherein she moved, compared with which all other talents, genius, and originality seemed to her but as so many dull and motionless lamps, while the lightning was flashing in at the window. An instinctive sense of misgiving impelled her at first to turn away; but when this new element of dazzling and resistless power came so gently as not even to cause a start, and in its vivid and seemingly harmless beauty lingered and played all the summer evening round her, her imagination was led captive to its will.

him cheerfully with information and advice for his maiden speech in the Lords. It was an undoubted success, and he was forthwith enrolled as a promising recruit in the ranks of the Liberal party. But in the crowd of celebrities and competitors for notice at Holland House his vanity might have eaten its heart out with scant pity or heed, had he not been able to lay the world under tribute in a very different sphere. His speech, he thought, would prove a good advertisement for Childe Harold, which appeared a few days afterwards. Rogers and Moore had seen it in the proof, and foretold the triumph which awaited him. The former told Lady Caroline Lamb that she ought to know the new poet, and lent her his copy to read before the work came out. Soon afterwards Lady Westmoreland introduced him to her. Her first impression was unfavourable, and she wrote in her diary, “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know." But the éclat of his poem made him in a few weeks the star without rival of society. Wherever he went, and he soon went everywhere, to use his own expression, "the women suffocated him." His air of abstraction and look of melancholy, and the rumours put about of his eccentric life, all contributed to fan the flame. Emulation for his favour became fierce, and the wiles spread for his bewitchment were innumerable. Lady Caroline avers that she spread none. She had called at Holland House after a morning ride through wind and rain; he was unexpectedly announced, and she owns that she ran away to readjust her toilet before they met. His grave attention pleased her; the interview ended in his asking leave to call, and the acquaintance thus begun quickly ripened into friendship.

Up to this time the name of Byron, save to a comparative few, may be said to have been unknown. Lord Carlisle, though one of his guardians, had seldom inquired after him during his college days; and on his coming of age forgot to ask him to dinner. When he took the oaths and his seat at Westminster he was not recognized by any one of his peers; and on the chancellor offering his hand in welcome, as a new member of the House, he mistook the courtesy for the form of party enlistment, and took it so ungraciously that Lord Eldon turned away with a frown. Morbidly sensitive to neglect, and attributing it to a slight deformity of which nobody but himself thought or cared, and fevered with an insatiable thirst for distinction, he published in 1809 a satire in which he attacked nearly every critic and poet of the day, in order to be revenged for the ridicule cast by Brougham on his Hours of Idleness in the Edinburgh Review. With his Cambridge class-fellow, Mr. Hobhouse, he spent two years abroad, and returned full of aspirations as a poet and a politician. Through Samuel Rogers, his only acquaintance of note, he was introduced to Lord Holland, who, more suo, forgetting

He lived much at Melbourne House, where he was received on terms of the utmost familiarity. For the talents of society, in which Lady Melbourne had probably no equal in her day, his admiration was unbounded. The world she knew by long and keen observation, and whose scenes she had the rare faculty of picturing by a few graphic touches, was all a new world to him. There was hardly a person of note among courtiers, politicians, artists, or men of letters, from the time of Garrick and Chatham, whom she had not known; and there was not a prominent character living whom she did not weigh in the balance of her own judgment, and whose idiosyncrasy she could not, when she would, accurately tell. This, with casual acquaintances, was not often.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »