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THE CATHOLIC BAR.
“And ye shall walk in silk attire.”—Old Ballad.
Upon the first day of last Michaelmas term  eight gentlemen were called to the Bar, of whom four were Roman Catholics. This was a kind of event in the Hall of the Four Courts, and in the lack of any other matter of interest, such as the speech of a new Sergeant at a corporation dinner, which had by this time ceased to excite the comments of the attorneys, produced a species of excitation. There are two assortments of oaths for Catholics and Protestants upon their admission to the Bar. The latter still enter their protestations, in the face of Lord Manners and of Heaven, against the damnable idolatry of the Church of Rome. But when the more mitigated oath provided for the Roman Catholics happens to be rehearsed on the first day of term,* it is easy to perceive an expression of disrelish in the countenance of the court; and although it is impossible for Lord Manners to divest limself of that fine urbanity which belongs to his birth and rank, yet in the bow with which he receives the aspiring Papist, there are evident symptoms of constraint; and it is by a kind of effort even in his features that they are wrought into an elaborated smile.
It does not frequently happen that more than one or two Roman Catholics are called in any single term; and when
* This sketch was published in February, 1827, when Lord Manners was Chancellor.-- Roman Catholics were not admitted to the Irish bar until 1798. -Among the earliest who availed themselves of this privilege, was Mr. O'Connell.-M.
Lord Manners heard four several shocks given to the Constitution, and the Roman Catholic qualification-oath coming again aud again upon him, it is not wonderful that his composure should have been disturbed, and that the loyal part of the Bar should have caught the expression of dismay. Mr. Sergeant Lefroy, alarmed at the repeated omissions of those pious denunciations of the Virgin Mary, by which the laws and liberty of these countries are sustained, in the very act of putting a fee into his pocket, lifted up the whites of his eyes to Heaven: Mr. Devonshire Jackson let fa}l his mask, and determined on voting for Gerard Callaghan :* the Solicitor-General was observed to whisper Mr. Saurin, until the arrival of Mr. Plunket withdrew liim from the ear of liis former associate in office: to Mr. Saurin it was proposed by Barclay Scriven to petition Mr. Peel to appoint him Attorney-General in the island of Barbadoes; and it is rumored that another letter to my Lord Norbury las been discovered,t in which the writer protests his belief, that the Bar will soon be reduced to its condition in the reign of James the Second.
In the reign of James the Second, Roman Catholic barristers were raised to office; and, as the time appears to be at hand when they will be rendered eligible by law to hold places of distinction and of trust, it is worth our while to examine in what way they conducted themselves when, in the short interval of their political prosperity, Roman Catholics were invested with authority. Doctor King says, that “no sooner had the Papists got judges and juries that would believe them, but tliey began a trade of swearing and ripping up what they pretended their Protestant neighbors had said of King James, whilst Duke of York;" and proceeds to charge them with gross corruption in the administration of justice.
* Mr. Devonshire Jackson, a clever lawyer, very attenuated in person and intolerant in political polemics, is now one of the Judges of the Common Pleas in Ireland.--- Mr. Gerard Callaghan, son of Daniel Callaghan, a rich victualler and contractor in Cork, was ineligible, as a Catholie, to sit in Parliament, 30 he changed his religion, and was elected for his native city. After Emancipation his brother Daniel was elected, without relinquishing his religious faith.-M.
+ See the preceding sketch of Lord Noibury, in this volume.-- M.
The Doctor was Archbishop of Dublin. He had originally been a sizar in the University; and having afterward obtained a fellowship, gradually raised himself, by dint of sycophaney and intrigue, to one of the richest sees in the richest establishment in the world.* Whether he exhibited all the arrogance of a Pontifical parvenu ; wliether he was at once a laughty priest and a consecrated jackanapes; whether he was a sophist in his creed, an equivocator in his statements, and a cobwebweaver in his theology; whether he had a vain head, a niggard hand, and a false and servile heart, and betrayed the men who raised him, I have not been able to determine. He appears to have been an apostate in his politics. His representation of the conduct of the Catholic judges in his time is not without some episcopal characteristics, and justifies what Leslie says of lim :-" Though many things the archbishop says are true, yet he has hardly spoken a true word without a warp.” The best and most incontrovertible evidence (that of Lord Clarendon, the Lord-Lieutenant, and a firin Protestant), could be adduced to show how widely the statements of Doctor King vary from the fact.
Lord Clarendon tells us that “when the Popish judges went to the assizes in the counties of Down and Londonderry, where many considerable persons were to be tried for words formerly spoken against King James, they took as much pains as it
* Dr. William King, born in 1650, was an Irishman educated at Trinity Col. lege, and for many years Archbishop of Dublin. It is worth mention, as showing how church patronage went in those days, and (it may be) how little they deserved promotion, that though, from 1609 to 1773, there were one hundred and eight appointments or translations to Irish sees, only twenty-three fellows of Trinity College (the only University in Ireland), were among the prize-holdors. One of these was the illustrious James Usher, appointed Bishop of Meath in 1620 (a see now having Dr. Singer at its head), and Archbishop of Armagh in 1624. A celebrated wit, by the way, used to say that “Bishops,” who are always removed merely to richer dioceses, “are the only things that do not suffer by translation." —Archbishop King died in 1729.- M.
t Of these last sentences it might be said, addressing Dr. Magee, Archbishop of Dublin when they were written
“Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur.” Mr. Sheil appears to have a rooted antipathy to this divine, who was a liberal in his youth, but became intolerant in his later years.- M.
was possible to quiet the minds of the people wherever they went; and they took care to have all the juries mingled, half English and half Irishi.”—(State Letters, vol. i., p. 326.) “Judge Daly,” he says, “one of the Popish judges, did, at the assizes of the county of Meatlı, enlarge much upon the unconscionableness of indicting men for words spoken so many years before; and thereupon the jurors, the major part of whom were Irish, acquitted them :" and be adds, that “Mr. Justice Nugent, another Popish judge, made the same declaration at Drogheda, where several persons were tried for words.” Lord Clarendon further states, that he was in the habit of consulting Roman Catholics, who had been recently promoted, respecting the appointment of mayors, sheriffs, and commoncouncil men. “I advise,” he says, “ with those who are best acquainted in these towns, particularly with Justice Daly, and others of the King's council of that persiasion ; and the lists of names these men give me, are always equal, half Engglish, half Irisli, which, they say, is the best way to make them unite and live friendly together."-(State Letters, vol. ii., p. 319.)
In the first volume of the State Letters, p. 292, he says, " At the council-board, there was a complaint proved against a justice of the peace; and it is remarkable that several of our new Roman Catholic counsellors, though the justice was an Englishman and a Protestant, were for putting off the business; and particularly the three said Popish judges said, the gentleman would be more careful for the future.” He adds, that “when the Popish judges were made privy-counsellors, they conducted themselves with singular modesty,"-a precedent which I have no doubt that Mr. Blake will follow, when he shall be elevated to the vice-regal cabinet.*
* Many a chance arrow hits the white; many a true word is spoke: in jest; Mr. Sheil was an involuntary prophet. Anthony Richard Blake, woo was : Lord Wellesley's particular friend, was one of the earliest Catholic Privy Councillors in Ireland, after Emancipation. Born in 1786, he was called to the bar in 1813; was Chief-Remembrancer of Ireland from 1823 to 1842, when he resigned from ill-health ; in 1844, was made a commissioner of charitable dogations and bequests for Ireland; and died, in January, 1849, aged sixtyHiee.-M.