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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
RICHARD LALOR SHEIL M.P.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE RICHARD LALOR SHEIL was born on the 16th of August, 1791, at the residence of his father, Edward Sheil, Esq., in the county of Kilkenny. That gentleman had acquired a considerable fortune in Cadiz, and invested it in the purchase of Bellevue, near Waterford. Soon after his return from Spain he married Miss Catherine Mac Carthy, of Spring House, in the county of Tipperary, a near relative of Count Mac Carthy of Toulouse, who sold his large property in Ireland, and settled in France during the operation of the penal code.
Mr. Sheil received his first instructions in literature from a French clergyman who had fled from his country during the Revolution, and resided at Bellevue, the house of Mr. Sheil's father, as tutor to his family. Soon after the peace of Amiens the Abbé returned to Toulouse, his native city, and Mr. Sheil was sent to a school established at Kensington, by the Prince de Broglio, the son of the celebrated French general, and a near relation of the present Duke. The following account of his school days, written by Mr. Sheil, is extracted from a periodical work :
“ As if it were yesterday, thougn 'tis now many years ago, (eheu fugaces 1) I recollect the beautiful evening when I left my home, upon the banks of the river Suir, and sailed from the bardour of Waterford for Bristol, on my way to school. It is scarcely germane to the matter, yet I cannot help reverting to a scous
which has impressed itself deeply in my recollection, and to which I oftentimes in those visions of the memory, to which I suppose every body is more or less subject, find it a pleasure, though a melancholy one, to return. There are few rivers more picturesque than the Suir, (a favourite with Spenser,) in its passage from Waterford to the sea. It is ample and deep, capable of floating vessels of any tonnage, and is encompassed with lofty ridges of rich verdure, on Winch magnificent mansions, encompassed with deep groves of trees, give evidence of the rapid increase of opulence and of civilization in that part of Ireland. How often have I stood upon its banks, when the bells in the city, the smoke of which was turned into a cloud of gold by a Claude Lorrain sunset, tolled the death of the departing day ! How often have I fixed my gaze upon the glittering expanse of the full and overflowing water, crowded with ships, whose white sails were filled with just wind enough to carry them on to the sea; by the slowness of their equable and majestic movement, giving leave to the eye to contemplate at its leisure their tall and stately beauty, and to watch them long in their progress amidst the calm through which they made their gentle and forbearing way. The murmurs of the city were heard upon the right, and the lofty spire of its church rose up straight and arrowy into the sky. The sullen and dull roar of theocean used to come over the opposite hills from the Bay of Tramore. Immediately before me were the fine woods of Faithleg, and the noble seat of the Bolton family, (Protestants, who have since that time made way for the Catholic wealthy Powers ;) on the left was the magnificent seat of another branch of the same opulent tribeSnowhill; and in the distance, were the three rivers, the Suir, the Nore, and the Barrow, met in a deep and splendid conflux; the ruins of the old abbey of Dunbrody threw the solemnity of religion and of antiquity over the whole prospect, and by the exquisite beauty of the site, afforded a proof that the old Franciscans, who had made a selection of this lovely spot for their monastery, and who have lain for centuries in the mould of its green and luxuriant churchyards, were the lovers of nature, and that when they left the noise and turmoil of the world, they had not relinquished those enjoyments which are not only innocent but may be accounted holy. I had many a time looked with admiration upon
the noble landscape, in the midst of which I was born, but I never felt and appreciated its beauty so well as when the consciousness that I was leaving it, not to return for years to it again, endeared to me the spot of my birth, and set
off the beauty of the romantic place in which my infancy was passed, and in which I once hoped (I have since abandoned the expectation) that
age should decline. It is not in the midst of its woods that I shall fall into the sere and yellow leaf !
“Something too much of this.'—The ship sailed, I landed at Bristol, and with a French clergyman, the Abbé de Grimeau who had been my tutor, I proceeded to London. The Abbé informed me that I was to be sent to Kensington House, (a colege established by the Pères de la Foi, for so the French Jesuits settled in England at that time called themselves,) and that he had directions to leave me there, upon his way to Languedoc, from whence he had been exiled in the Revolution, and to which he had been driven by the maladie de pays to return. Accordingly we set off for Kensington House, which is situated exactly opposite the avenue leading to the Palace, and has the beautiful garden attached to it in front. A large iron gate, wrought into rusty flowers, and other fantastic forms, showed that the Jesuit school had once been the residence of some person of distinction; and I afterwards understood that a mistress of Charles the Second lived in the spot which was now converted into one of the sanctuaries of Ignatius. It was a large old-fashioned house, with nany remains of decayed splendour. In a beautiful walk of trees, which ran down from the rear of the building through the playground, I saw several French boys playing at swing-swang; and the moment I entered, my ears were filled with the shrill vocife. rations of some hundreds of little emigrants, who were engaged in their various amusements, and babbled, screamed, laughed, and shouted in all the velocity of their rapid ard joyous language. I did not hear a word of English, and at once perceived that I was as much amongst Frenchmen as if I had been suddenly transferred to a Parisian college. Having got this peep at the gaiety of the school into which I was to be introduced, I was led, with my companion, to a chamber covered with faded gilding, and which had once been richly tapestried, where I found the head Ji the establishment, in the person of a French nobleman, Monsieur le Prince de Broglio. Young as I was, I could not help being struck at once with the contrast which was presented betweer the occupations of this gentleman and his name. I saw in him 1 little, slender, and gracefully-constructed abbé, with a sloping forehead, on which the few hairs that were left him were nicely arranged, and well-powdered and pomatum'd. He had a gentle smile, full of a suavity which was made up of guile and of weakness, but which deserved the designation of aimable, in the
best sense of the word. His clothes were adapted with a pecu liar nicety to his symmetrical person, and his silk waistcoat and black silk stockings, with his small shoes buckled with silver, gave him altogether a glossy aspect. This was the son of the celebrated Marshal Broglio, who was now at the head of a school, and notwithstanding his humble pursuits, was designated by every body as “Monsieur le Prince.'
“ Monsieur le Prince had all the manners and attitudes of Che court, and by his demeanour put me at once in mind of the old regime. He welcomed my French cornpanion with tenderness, and having heard that he was about to return to France, the poor gentleman exclaimed Helas !' while the tears came into his eyes at the recollection of cette belle France,' which he was never, as he then thought, to see again. He bade me welcome. These preliminaries of introduction having been gone through, my French tutor took his farewell ; and, as he embraced me for the last time, I well remember that he was deeply affected by the sorrow which I felt in my soparation from him, and turning to Monsieur le Prince, recommended me to his care with an emphatic tenderness. Tho latter led me into the school-room, whore I had a desk assigned to me beside the son of the Count Décar, who has since, I understand, risen to offices of very high rank in the Erench Court. His father belonged to the nobility of the first class. In the son, it would have been at that time difficult to detect his patrician derivation. He was a huge, lubberly fellow, with thick matted hair, which he never combed. His complexion was greasy and sudorific, and to soap and water he seemed jo have such a repugnance, that he did not above once a week go through any process of ablution. He was surly, dogged, and silent, and spent his time in the study of mathematics, for which he had a good deal of talent. I have heard that he is now one of the most fashionable and accomplished men about the court, and that this Gorgonius, smells now of the pastiles of Rufillus. On the other side of me was a young French West Indian, from the colony of Martinique, whose name was Devarieux. The school was full of the children of the French planters, who had been sent over to learn English among the refugees from the Revolution. He was an exceedingly fine young fellow, the exact reverse in all his habits to Monsieur le compte Décar, on my left hand, and expended a good deal of his hours of study in surveying a small pocket-mirror, and in arranging the curls of his rich black hair, the ambrosial plenty of which was festoned about his temples, and fell profusely behind his head. Almussl