My Life in Two Hemispheres/Chapter 2
A TYRO IN JOURNALISM. DUBLIN
Dublin journalists in 1836—Introduction to libraries and theatres—Visits to historic places—First impression of O'Connell—Reporters' stories—A tithe funeral—A martyr for conscience sake—First money I earned—Work as sub-editor of the Morning Register—Clarence Mangan: the secret of his life—Thomas Moore—Father Tom Maguire—Sam Gray appointed sub-sheriff—Peremptory intervention of Thomas Drummond—Removal to Belfast—My health in 1838–9—Note.
The Dublin journalists, when I came to know them, were a marvel to me. They resembled nothing I had associated in day dreams with the profession I was about to embrace. Hazlitt and Cobbett and their compeers I knew by their work, and I thought of a publicist as a man somewhat combative and self-willed perhaps, but abundantly informed, and with settled convictions, for which he was willing to face all odds. The young editors of the Northern Herald were at least familiar with the whole cyclopaedia of Irish affairs, and had the enthusiasm of missionaries or soldiers. But the society into which I was now introduced swarmed with the gipsies of literature, men who lived careless, driftless lives, without thought of to-morrow. The staff of the journals which supported O'Connell had slight sympathy with his policy, and few settled opinions or purpose of any sort. The editors of the three peculiarly Catholic papers at that time were all Protestants, and the co-editors of a preeminently Protestant organ had been born and bred Catholics. To the reporters, for the most part, public life was a stage play, where a man gesticulated and perorated according as his rôle was cast by his stage manager. Most of them had lived through the first Repeal movement: and whatever public spirit they possessed probably evaporated with its collapse.
The dream I had had of journalism as a mission had a rude awakening. But the new life was not wanting in new enjoyments. I had longed for unattainable books, and in the Dublin Library I found all the books I longed for. The most startling revelation which books brought me was the knowledge that sentiments which I had long regarded as peculiar to myself were common characteristics of the class of whom books are the daily bread. Hazlitt's frank confession and Montaigne's self-reproaches sometimes read like my personal experience. And I first discovered from Isaac Disraeli's "Literary Character" that I had the prevailing weaknesses, perhaps some of the gifts, of the man of letters. I had dreamed of seeing Shakespeare's heroes and heroines, no longer as shadows, but in the flesh, and now I had a free admission to two theatres. In one respect the theatre disappointed me, I expected as much enjoyment from the wit of the gallery as from the art of the stage, but the wit was dreary and scanty. I can only recall two laughable incidents in all that theatre-going period. An eccentric attorney named Toby Glascock was a famous amateur actor, and on one occasion the little theatre of Fishamble Street was engaged for one of his performances, and I found myself one of a motley and expectant audience. The curtain did not rise at the usual time, and rumour flew round the house that Toby would not appear. The audience, who had paid their money, became so troublesome that the manager intervened, and endeavoured to quiet them. He talked placeboes and platitudes, but said not a word about the missing amateur. At length a gallery boy muttered in a burlesque imitation of the manager in "Hamlet": "To-by or not To-by, that is the question?" On another occasion a fiery melodrama entitled "God Defend the Right," was being played in Hawkins Street, and in a single combat the hero got a gash on his hand. "That's the left," cried a boy in the gallery, "God defend the right."
For a time I chummed with Henry MacManus, and he brought me to see treasures of art like the Hogarths in Charlemont House, the historic portraits in Trinity College, Grinling Gibbons' carved ceilings at Kilmainham, and the noble palaces which Gandon erected on the Liffey. In Sunday rambles with T. B. MacManus and T. M. Hughes I visited the sites where the Volunteers had been reviewed, where Emmet was tried, where O'Connell defended his life against D'Esterre, where the Catholic Association met; and on week days I freshened my impressions of the Irish Parliament by looking again and again at Plunket and Bushe, who had been eminent members of that assembly, and were now sitting at the Four Courts. As I was an unpaid volunteer I had nearly as much leisure as I chose, and I occupied it in various studies. In company with James Coffey, afterwards a successful lawyer, I organised a debating society, which met in a vacant house in Sackville Street; a class to study French, which unhappily had for a teacher a German who had published a French but understood imperfectly the art of teaching; and a little later a social club, which met occasionally over a broiled bone and a moderate jorum of punch. But above all I revelled in Irish history and biography. The panorama of Irish resistance, rarely slackened, never abandoned from St. Lorcan to O'Connell, passed before my imagination, and I burned to strike a blow in that hereditary conflict. Among my new experiences O'Connell proved the great disillusionment. I had formed a romantic ideal of the National leader, the successor of Owen Roe, Sarsfield, and Grattan, which he did not answer. I left the country ready to venerate and obey him; but he belonged altogether to the nineteenth century, and not at all to the region of romance in which I had placed him. A practical man of affairs, a caustic humorous commentator on the business of to-day, rising at times into flashes of fire, or settling down into cold logical analysis in which he caught and crushed the case of an adversary like a casse-noix closing on a walnut. His attacks on opponents surprised me by their fierceness and vulgarity as much as by their inexhaustible humour. At a Dublin election, where he had laid about him mercilessly, assailing Mr. West, one of the candidates, as Sow- West, and Recorder Shaw, a remarkably handsome and dignified man, as a fellow whose visage would frighten a horse from his oats the Lord Mayor of the day, Mr. Morrison, of the famous hotel, in proposing a candidate referred to these amenities, and observed that a stranger might suppose such a critic, like Hamlet's father, was endowed with Hyperion curls and the front of Jove himself, instead of a wrinkled brow and a scratch wig. For himself he would not be unwilling to compete with the demagogue before a jury of ladies if they could only see him as nature made him without the aid of the barber. This sally was received with roars of applause, but before they concluded O'Connell strode to the front of the platform, snatched off his wig, and, pointing to his naked head covered with a stubble of grey hair, cried, "Ladies, I demand your instant judgment." The laughter was universal, and he had the best of the encounter; but at a price I thought the National leader ought not to have paid for it.
Coffey, who was a handsome, gentlemanly young fellow, very careful of his dress and appearance, was the cadet of the reporters; the doyen was Christy Hughes, a cheerful, friendly old man, always shabbily dressed, and of almost repulsive ugliness; his mouth being disfigured by projecting teeth, and his cheeks the colour of beetroot. One of his colleagues, in the frank simplicity of Bohemian intercourse, described his head as "a Beotian Temple with a 'Tusk-an' pediment." There were pleasant stories of his adventures floating about among his comrades. In the parliamentary recess O'Connell used to attend Charity Dinners and make a speech on philanthropy and brotherly love which did service repeatedly in the same cause. One year Christy Hughes, having relished the good things at a dinner too keenly, lost his note-book containing the report of O'Connell's speech; but after a little bewilderment he made good the deficiency by turning back to the speech of the previous year, cutting it out of the file of the Freeman and republishing it; and nobody, it was said, discovered the substitution, not even O'Connell himself.
Of the current stories of that day I will recall only one. There was a good-looking, clever scamp, an Englishman, named H——, connected with Irish journalism at this time. He had been a reporter in Dublin, but suddenly left town to conduct a new journal in Galway. After a year he reappeared in his old haunts. "What brings you here?" one of his acquaintances demanded; "are you not editor of the Galway Thunderer?" "Be more accurate, my dear boy, the Galway Irishman" "And how came you, you Cockney impostor, to edit the Irishman?" "Why not, my son? I am more Hibernian than the Hibernians. I can spout like Burgh Quay, handle a cudgel like Donnybrook Fair, and I have got an Irish wife; I'll trouble you to beat that record!" "And your hopeful experiment, does it still prosper?" "No, sir; that great journal which I created died in my arms." "Died!" exclaimed his friend. "How did it die with that tremendous backing of agitators and priests you used to parade in your leaders?" "That was just it, dear; it died of too many patrons." "What do you mean?" "You don't know, my son," rejoined the ex-editor, "what a Galway patron does for his favourite journal." "No; tell me." "He dines with the editor every time he comes to town, writes a libel once a quarter, and never pays his subscription." I decline all responsibility for Mr. H——'s epigram, which is too good, however, to be suppressed.
My honorary employment on the Morning Register was pleasantly varied by a temporary engagement as official reporter to a Royal Commission. The subject on which a commission was appointed to report will help to explain the puzzling fact that the representation of the metropolis fell frequently to men of the most unpopular politics. The Irish Reform Act had been so constructed that a citizen of Dublin could not vote in a Parliamentary election without paying numerous rates and taxes, sometimes amounting to as many as ten separate payments. But the Dublin Corporation in which a Catholic had not sat for four generations, did not consider these barriers against Popery sufficient. Some of their officers, it was alleged, had received secret instructions to absent themselves when an election was approaching, and so render it impossible for electors to comply with the law. This was the complaint which the commission was instructed to investigate. Thomas Drummond asked the editor of the Register to send him a competent reporter, and I was selected. When the inquiry terminated I had some personal communication with that remarkable man, which I have described elsewhere. The report of the commission effectually promoted the reform of the Dublin Corporation which had been long resisted by the House of Lords, but was at length accomplished. The payment of my official labours was on a scale that seemed munificent to a young man who had never earned a guinea before, and it afforded me the exquisite enjoyment of making a considerable gift to the mother who had made so many to me.
Another unexpected enterprise was a mission to conduct the funeral of a tithe martyr from Dublin to Queen's County. The resistance to tithe was at that time nearly universal, and as the recovery of the imposts by seizure and sale of property had become very dangerous, defaulters were generally proceeded against by "writ of rebellion" (a device disinterred from the middle ages) and sent to prison. The prosecutions were often for sums incredibly small, sometimes less than a shilling, and the popular exasperation grew intense. One man who died in prison had expressed a desire to be buried with his family, and Peter Purcell, who was then a man of decisive importance in O'Connell's organisation, the Precursor Society, determined that his wishes should be gratified. A public funeral was ordered, and Mr. Purcell selected James Coffey, who always stood high in his favour, and myself to accompany it on behalf of the Press and the Precursor Society. The incidents of that journey, our reception by the local leaders in the towns along the line of route, and the speeches of the young missionaries, neither of whom had passed his twenty-second year, have not altogether faded from my memory, but the interest has passed away, and I leave them to sleep in peace. It was my first personal share in popular agitation, and it made my heart beat fast with enthusiasm.
Before a year in Dublin was completed an incident happened which proved very fortunate for me. I called one day at the Henry Street Police Office, where the divisional magistrate was a namesake and an acquaintance of mine. A case was being heard of a class which always attracts attention in Ireland; a convert to the religion of the State was threatened with martyrdom, it was said, for his honest change of opinion. James Donnelly, a servant in the employment of a gentleman resident in the suburbs, told the Bench that six months before he had become a Protestant and had lived a life of happiness and serenity in his new faith, interrupted only by the ill-will of his fellow-servants, who were Catholics. About three months ago he had received an anonymous letter threatening his life if he did not return to the "true fold." A little later other letters reached him adorned with coffins, cross-bones, and similar emblems of terror and death.
On the Tuesday preceding his appearance at the Police Court, when he was out exercising his master's horses, he met two men armed with pistols, who inquired if he had received the "warning letters." He admitted that he had, and they threatened immediate vengeance if he did not forthwith abandon the false religion. Donnelly told them that he would rather be torn to pieces by wild horses than give up the blessed light and guidance of the Gospel. One of the men immediately pulled his trigger, but the pistol did not go off, and the horses plunged and kicked so furiously that the men ran away, one of them, however, turning and flinging a heavy stone, which knocked off the martyr's hat. When he got free of these assassins he rode to the police-station and swore information, and in consequence of certain suspicions which he communicated to them the police arrested Michael Collins, then in custody. Donnelly identified Collins as the man who had snapped a pistol at him, and affirmed that the manifest intention of his assailant was to murder him. To the best of his belief it was on account of his change of religion that the prisoner assaulted him, and Collins must have been acquainted with the anonymous letters, for he asked complainant if he had not received them. Here was a dainty dish to set before the Converts' Protection Society.
The prisoner denied the charge, and declared he had never seen Donnelly before, nor heard of him except as a man whom prisoner's sister, one of his fellow-servants, had refused to marry.
The complainant was a sinister-looking fellow, and listening to his evidence I suspected that his story was an invention. I asked the magistrate to show me the anonymous letters, and I found several words in them misspelt, and some peculiarly-shaped letters which might identify the writer. I framed a sentence containing these words and letters, and communicated my suspicions to the magistrate, who undertook to test the facts. He inquired if Mr. Donnelly could write. "Yes, your worship," he replied, "the Lord be thanked, I can read and write."
"Take up the pen," said the magistrate, u and I will dictate you a sentence."
Mr. Donnelly took up the pen with alacrity, but after he had written a few words he suddenly became agitated and said he would rather not write; but the magistrate insisted on his proceeding. When his manuscript was handed in to the Bench all the words misspelt in the threatening letters were similarly spelt in the manuscript, and all the ill-shaped letters similarly formed.
The case was adjourned till the next day, when the complainant's master was required to attend. When this gentleman compared the threatening letters and the manuscript he ordered the martyr to strip off his livery and quit his service forthwith. The case was discussed in the Press, and the dénouement helped to promote me to a pleasanter position. I soon found myself appointed sub-editor of the Morning Register, and shortly afterwards I became Dublin correspondent of Whittle Harvey's True Son, a journal then much in repute, and I was invited to write occasionally for the Pilot, a paper published in the Register office.
When I passed into the editorial rank Christy Hughes, when I next encountered him, condoled with me in a sympathetic voice on my early fall. "Where have I fallen from, Christy?" I inquired. "Why, don't you know," he replied, "when a fellow is found too stupid to be a good reporter they immediately make him an editor."
The Register was conducted at this time by Hugh Lynar, a Northern Unitarian, who afterwards obtained public employment at the Cape of Good Hope. He was a man of integrity and capacity, who probably found the task of conducting a journal essentially Catholic rendered tolerable by the opportunity it afforded of supporting the policy of the Mulgrave Administration. Lord Mulgrave, Lord Morpeth, and Thomas Drummond were at the Castle, and were ruling the country in a way which an enlightened Whig like Lynar could unreservedly applaud.
I entered on this new employment with a feverish desire to justify my promotion, which nearly proved fatal to a constitution never robust. Rooms in the Register office were assigned me, and for a month together I sometimes did not cross the threshold, except on a Sunday morning, and Lynar and other friends warned me that I would destroy myself if I did not relax this perpetual strain. But country walks with a chum brought me back into contact with nature, and none of the luxuries of a varied life rivalled the pleasure which we found in a luncheon of bread and cheese and porter after a long confabulation. The recreation which I loved best, and which all my life long continued to be a keen enjoyment, was a frank confabulation with a friend upon men and books and the eternal problems of life. Since my arrival in Dublin I made a friend, Clarence Mangan, with whom a Saturday night, the newspaper holiday, spent together till the small hours sounded, was a constant delight. His memory for poetry was prodigious, and he recited speeches from Byron's dramas or Shakespeare's, or long passages from Anster's "Faust" or Marlowe's, with an intensity and sympathy which resembled dramatic skill, but was something rarer and more touching. He told me from time to time the story of his doleful life, and finally introduced me to the heroine who had unconsciously turned that drama into a tragedy. Before I left Monaghan I was familiar with his contributions to the Comet, the Penny Journal, and the Dublin University Magazine; but I got less pleasure I believe from his racy translations than from the mad antics, banter, and burlesque into which he sometimes broke. After five-and-fifty years I can still recall, not without a titillation of the midriff, his defiance of the poet laureate of that time to match his stupendous rhymes—
"Malmsey- and Sack-swilling Southey! I'm happy to see you so gloomy—
Dare you stand forward, you shoeboy! and dare you attempt to outdo me?
Were you to go for to think, for to try for to beat me at lyrics,
Men would drop dead with the laughter, and women go off in hysterics!"
The achievement he had just completed was not a tragedy or an epic poem, but an acrostic—
"There! it is said and done—oh! my enchained, enchanted
Spirit! what is the value of all that folly has vaunted?
Poet, or doctor, or philosoph; Magian, or Mason, or Gnostic,
Never, I stake my word, transacted so prime an acrostic!"
And the poet demanded an adequate reward for his successful labour—
"Waiter, I solemnly charge you to vanish and make yourself handy;
And the simplest way to do that is to cadge me a bottle of brandy!
If you've no pitcher, you sumph! haul in a half-gallon decanter
Haul it in here by the neck, in style, in state, and instanter."
In another extravaganza he discoursed of philosophy in this style—
"I've studied sundry treatises by spectacled old sages,
Anent the capabilities and nature of the soul, and
Its vagabond propensities from even the earliest ages,
As harped on by Spinosa, Plato, Leibnitz, Chubb, and Toland;
But of all systems I've yet met, or p'rhaps shall ever meet with,
Not one can hold a candle to (videlicit compete with)
The theory of theories Pythagoras proposes,
And called by that sublime old smudge
This delightful and unhappy man of genius has had his life made the subject of strange and fantastic speculations, especially about the event which made him an unhappy lover, which has been accounted for on half a dozen diverse theories, all of them wrong. As the facts are familiar to me, it is better, perhaps, that I should state them here. Shortly after our acquaintance commenced he brought me to visit a County Clare family, Mrs. Stacpoole and her daughters, living, I think, in Mount Street. I found them agreeable and accomplished, and repeated my visit several times, always with Mangan. One night, coming away, he suddenly stopped in the moonlit street, and laying his hands on my shoulders and looking into my face, demanded: "Isn't it true that you are becoming attached to Margaret?" and finally he said: "I will save you from my fate by telling you a tragic story. When I knew Margaret first I was greatly attracted by her charming manners and vivid esprit. I talked to her of everything I did and thought and hoped, and she listened as willingly, it seemed, as Desdemona to the Moor. I am not a self-confident man—far from it; but when I besought her to be my wife I believed I was not asking in vain. What think you I heard? That she was already two years a wife, and was living under her maiden name till her husband returned from an adventure which he had undertaken to improve their fortune." "You cannot think," I said, "that she deceived you intentionally, since you have not broken with her?" "Ah," he said, "she has made my life desolate, but I cannot help returning, like the moth to the flame."
My position on the Register brought me into contact from time to time with notable persons, political and literary, whom I was destined to know better in after times. One Sunday when I had sat down to luncheon a message was brought me that a gentleman awaited me below on urgent business. To be disturbed in the only tranquil hour of a busy day was not pleasant, and I would have requested him to call later but that the messenger said he would only occupy a minute, as he was on his way to lunch at the Viceregal Lodge. When I descended I found a little, middle-aged man, with pleasant smile and lively eyes, but of a countenance far from comely, and so elaborately dressed that the primrose gloves which he wore did not seem out of harmony with the splendour of his attire. But my interest was awakened in an instant when he told me his "name was Moore—Thomas Moore." He had come to ask for a proof of some words spoken the night before at the theatre on a universal call from the house. I knew the Irish melodies from boyhood. Later I had learned to taste the bitter-sweet of his political squibs, and revel in the veiled sedition of "The Fire-worshippers." There was probably no one living I would have seen with more satisfaction, and he enjoyed my sympathy. What other reward, indeed, has the secluded man of letters for a life of endless toil than the affection he awakens in youthful breasts?
Father Tom Maguire, who was then exceedingly popular as a successful controversialist, was another unexpected visitor; a vigorous, agile man, with abounding life in every limb. He looked like a weather-beaten missionary who had encountered, and triumphed over, all the storms of life. Modern taste would probably pronounce him unclerical, but he stood above convention, and was in spirit and endowments a genuine tribune of the people.
A brief visit to my mother first brought me into personal contact with a friend destined to largely influence my life. Thomas O'Hagan, whom hitherto I had only known as a young editor, was now a practising barrister at the outset of a prosperous career, and was on circuit at Monaghan when I reached that town. The good old parish priest, Dean Bellew, invited us to his table tête-à-tête, and from that day a friendship commenced which was only interrupted by his death half a century later. He was four years my senior in age, and many more years in discipline and experience, and I can well recall that he looked as much the ideal of a nobleman then in his early manhood as when afterwards he wore the ermine of a chancellor and the coronet of a peer. Wig and gown were not yet worn on circuit, but in the evening dress which was substituted for them his sweet, serene countenance (in which I afterwards so often found comfort and confidence in the troubles of life) seemed to me an ideal of intellectual and manly beauty. I loved and trusted him entirely from the outset, and his influence on my character constantly tended to make me more considerate and circumspect, that I might be less unworthy of my friend.
Shortly afterwards a transaction occurred in my native county in which the value of a man of the character and capacity of O'Hagan became manifest. The High Sheriff of Monaghan appointed as his sub-sheriff, on whom the business of selecting juries principally fell, Sam Gray, a notorious Orange leader who had been tried for murdering a Catholic in broad day, and only escaped by the favour of his brethren in the jury box. Any time between the Union and the Irish administration of Mulgrave and Drummond such an appointment might have been made with perfect impunity. It was said, indeed, that if Judas Iscariot was selected for such an office the remonstrance of Catholics would be treated as an impertinence. But there was at length a strong, just man in authority, and when O'Hagan brought the facts under his notice immediate action was taken. Mr. Drummond wrote to the High Sheriff, pointing out the impropriety of the appointment which he had made, and requesting that he would substitute some unobjectionable person for Mr. Gray. There was wrath and indignation among northern squires, and consultations with the Tory leaders in Dublin. The High Sheriff, duly advised from headquarters, at length replied that it was his undoubted right to select his deputy; neither law nor usage entitled the Executive to interfere with his choice, and by his choice he was determined to abide. Drummond, in rejoinder, promptly admitted the right of the Sheriff to select his deputy, but he pointed out that the right of the Lord Lieutenant to appoint and remove the Sheriff himself was equally beyond controversy. That right he informed the arrogant Shire-reeve his Excellency had thought proper to exercise by superseding him in office. The Northern gentry were frantic with amazement and indignation, and, under the advice of party leaders who had grown grey in office before the coming of the Whigs, they resolved to checkmate the administration—to boycott it, as we would say just now. An agreement was come to that no gentleman of the county would consent to hold the office from which the patron of Sam Gray had been removed. It was like a cordial to the heart of Ulster Catholics, who had never before had a taste of fair play in such contests, to see how Drummond and his colleagues dealt with this impediment. A Catholic gentleman of insignificant estate, but of good sense and good education, was immediately appointed High Sheriff, and for the first time since a M'Mahon held the office under James II., a Catholic framed grand and petty panels, controlled prisons, and received the circuit judges in the "gap of the North." I was kept informed of what was being done, and in the Press was able to speak of the case with exact knowledge and complete sympathy.
My duties on a daily paper, which never altogether ceased day or night, were very trying. My deliverance from this slavery came to me in this way. There was a lively movement among political parties in Ulster; the Belfast Conservatives had induced Isaac Butt, a Professor of Political Economy in Trinity College, and editor of the Dublin University Magazine, to conduct a new Conservative journal for them, and the Catholics of Newry had been fortunate enough to secure the aid of Thomas O'Hagan to write leaders for their local journal, founded by a Protestant patriot, the once famous John Morgan. The Catholics of Belfast, who amounted to fifty thousand, and included several men of opulence, determined to have a journal of their own, and they sent a deputation to Dublin to find an editor with the help of O'Connell. O'Connell recommended T. M. Hughes, but Hughes declined to live in Belfast, and finally I was chosen; and, as the new journal was to be a bi-weekly one, I was relieved for ever from the exhausting slavery of a daily paper.
The leaders of the Monaghan Liberal Club, who knew me from birth, entertained me at a public dinner in my native town to launch me in my career with a parting hurrah. In the half century that followed I sat at many feasts, but the exquisite flavour and intoxicating odour of the first never returned. I was then twenty-three years of age, in impaired health, but devoured with ambition to do something memorable for Ireland. My apprenticeship to journalism was short, not exceeding three years, and henceforth I was called on to exercise authority instead of obeying it.
- "Thomas Drummond: his Life and Work." By R. Barry O'Brien.
- I made a week's visit to London at this time on personal business and got a hurried glance at parks and theatres, and the streets and squares, which books had made most familiar to my imagination. My first great disappointment was in Paternoster Row, associated with so many handsome and brilliant books, and which, to my amazement, I found narrow and dingy, and overcrowded with insignificant shops. T. B. MacManus recommended me an hotel frequented by commercial travellers and shop assistants, and my residence there furnished an insight into social life which I have never forgotten. Among this class, so smooth and deferential behind the counter, I heard more chansons graveleuses, not at all deficient in point or humour, during my week's stay than in all my life before, and in all my life since.
- A few months later I made a second visit to Monaghan, summoned to the death-bed of my mother. I saw death face to face almost for the first time when the pale phantom struck the dearest and best of mothers. That last scene is very familiar to my memory, and there is perhaps no incident in my life which I have recalled so often or with such contentment as her last words, "God bless my son Charles."
- I must not omit to note that my work was performed in constant ill-health, probably arising from indigestion, but which I confounded with consumption, the disease of which my mother died. Sir Dominick Corrigan, an eminent Dublin physician, who entered Parliament late in life, and who was very much awake to what was going on throughout the world, wrote me a letter thirty years later, which recalls my condition in 1838 better than my memory of it:—
"4, Merrion Square, West, Dublin,
"April 16, 1872.
"My dear Chief Secretary, You will probably not recollect me, but I never can forget the incident of our first meeting many years ago when you were hard at work on the Press here, and when I was hard at work at my profession.
"You asked me, and that was the purport of your visit, were you going into consumption, that if you were you would work work while you had life to add something more to the little capital you had laid by for your sister, that if you were not you would make an ambitious move, I think you said to ' The Bar,' and you added that on my answer depended your choice of life. It was an anxious moment for me as well as for you. I did not hesitate. I told you you were not on the way to consumption, and thank God my prediction has been true, and you have lived to be the chosen of Victoria, and Victoria is really my debtor, for to me she owes the gain of you.
"I too, like you, have laboured, and Dublin has fully rewarded me, and flattered me, for born within her walls, taught at her schools, and passing my life among the people, she has chosen me as her representative, and I now sit for her in the House of Commons.
"If you were among us now I think you would pity us. We have no master mind like O'Connell of yore. We have at one time some Fenians fancying they are to liberate the country. They furnish enough informers to hang or shoot the others. … I am sure it is time for me to have done, and all I can do is to apologise to you for thus trespassing on your time, and to say that I have no excuse to offer for it but the recollection of old times and the hope that if we do not soon ourselves improve here, we have at least the consolation of seeing good from our blood in Australia. Believe me, faithfully yours,
"D. J. CORRIGAN.'
- An incident on my last visit to Monaghan which it is still pleasant to recall. Since I left my native town an Orange journal had been established there, and on my return the editor paid me a visit of courtesy. He proved a good fellow, bearing the tremendous name of Arthur Wellington Holmes, and I decidedly liked him. A few weeks later his brother called to ask advice in a serious difficulty. The editor was struck down by fever, and was tortured by the impossibility of bringing out his paper. I walked down to the office, had all the proofs produced, which I carefully revised, called for the latest papers, selected the current Orange news, and the difficulty was overcome. The editor's gratitude spread the story abroad, and it was the subject of endless banter, but it probably did something to mitigate the bitterness of local prejudice.