Gambar halaman
[ocr errors]

offered me the statement; and from that day to this, though liis business increased with his marriage, be never sent me a single brief

Finding that nothing was to be got by making public speeches, or writing love-letters for attorneys, and having now idled away some valuable years, I began to think of attending sedulously to my profession; and, with a view to the regulation of my exertions, lost no opportunity of inquiring into the nature of the particular qualifications by which the men whom I saw eminent or rising around me bad originally outstripped their competitors. In the course of these inquiries, I discore ered that there was a newly-invented method of getting rapidly into business, of which I bad never leard before. The secret was communicated to me by a friend, a king's counsel, who is no longer at the Irish Bar. When I asked him for his opinion as to the course of study and conduct most advisable to be pursued, and at the same time sketched the general plan which had presented itself to me, “ Has it nerer struck you,” said lie, “ since you have walked this Hall, that there is a shorter and a far more certain road to professional success ?" I professed my ignorance of the particular method to which he alluded. “It requires," he continued, "some peculiar qualifications: have you an ear for music ?” — Surprised at the question, I answered that I had. · And a good voice ?"- "A tolerable one.”—“Then, my advice to you is, to take a few lessons in psalm-singing; attend the Bethesda regularly; take a part in the anthem, and the louder the better; turn up as much of the white of your eyes as possible — and in less than six months you'll find business pouring in upon you. You smile, I see, at this advice; but I have never known the plan to fail, except where the party has sung incurably out of tuve. Don't you perceive that we are once more becoming an Island of Saints, and that half the business or these Courts passes through tạieir hands? When I came to the bar, a man's suc

[ocr errors]

* This attorney's non-committal caution reminds me of another of the craft, who challenged a man to fight a duel with him, and fixed the meeting, “ in the Phænix Park, adjacent unto the city of Dublin, and in that part of it entitled • The Fifteen Acres'- be the same more or less."- M.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

cess depended upon his exertions during the six working days of the week; but now, he that has the dexterity to turn the Sabbath to account is the surest to prosper: and

* • Why should not piety be made,

As well as cquity, a trade,
And men get money by devotion

As well as making of a motion ?'
These hints, though thrown out with an air of jest, made
some impression on me; but after reflecting for some time
upon the subject, and taking an impartial view of my powers
in that way, I despaired of having lıypocrisy enough for the
speculation, so I gave it up. Nothing therefore remaining,
but a more direct and laborious scheme, I now planned a
course of study in which I made a solemn vow to myself to
persevere. Besides attending the courts and taking notes of
the proceedings, I studied at home, at an average of eight
hours a day. I never looked into any but a law-book. Even
a newspaper I seldom took up. Every thing that could touch
my feelings or my imagination I excluded from my thoughts,
as inimical to the habits of mind I now was anxious to acquire.
My circle of private acquaintances was extensive, but I man-
fully resisted every invitation to their houses. I had assigned
myself a daily task to perform, and to perform it I was deter-
mined. I persevered for two years with exemplary courage.
Neither the constant, unvarying, unrewarded labors of the
day, nor the cheerless solitude of the evenings, could induce
me to relax


efforts. I was not, however, insensible to the disheartening change, both physical and moral, that was going on within me. All the generous emotions of my youth, my sympathies with the rights and interests of the human race, my taste for letters, even my social sensibilities, were perceptibly wasting away from want of exercise, and from the hostile influence of an exclusive and chilling occupation. It fared still worse with iny liealth : I lost my appetite and rest, and of course my strengtlı; a deadly pallor overcast my features; black circles formed round my eyes; my cheeks sank in; the tones of my voice became feeble and melancholy; the slightest exercise

exhausted me almost to fainting; at night I was tortured by headaches, palpitations, and frightful dreams; my waking reflections were equally harassing. I now deplored the sinister ambition that had propelled me into a scene for which, in spite of all my self-love, I began to suspect that I was utterly unfitted. I recalled the bright prospects under which I had entered life, and passed in review the various modes in which I might have turned my resources to honorable and profitable account. The contrast was fraught with anguish and mortification.

As I daily returned from the Courts, scarcely able to drag my wearied limbs along, but still attempting to look as alert and cheerful as if my success was certain, I frequently came across some of my college contemporaries. Such meetings always gave me pain. Some of them were rising in the army, others in the church ; others, by a well-timed exercise of their talents, were acquiring a fair portion of pecuniary competence and literary fame. They all seemed happy and thriving, contented with themselves and with all around them; while here was I, wearing myself down to a phantom in a dreary and profitless pursuit, the best years of my youth already gone, absolutely gone for nothing, and the prospect overshadowed by a deeper gloom with every step that I advanced. The friends whom I thus met inquired with good-nature after my concerns; but I had no longer the heart to talk of myself. I broke abruptly from them, and hurried home to picture to my now morbid imagination the forlorn condition of the evening of life to a briefless barrister. How often, at this period, I regretted that I had not chosen the English Bar, as I had more than once been advised. There, if I had not prospered, my want of success would have been comparatively unobserved. In London I should, at the worst, have enjoyed the immunities of obscurity ; but here my failure would be exposed to the most bumiliating publicity. Here I was to be doomed, day after day and year after year, to exhibit myself in places of public resort, and advertise, in my own person, the disappointment of all my hopes.

These gloomy reflections were occasionally relieved by

[blocks in formation]

thers of a more soothing and philosophic cast. The catasrophe, at the prospect of which I shuddered, it was still in my own power to avert. The sufferings that I endured were, after all, the factitious growth of an unwise ambition. I was still young and independent, and might, by one manly effort, sever myself for ever from the spell that bound me; I might transport myself to some distant scene, and find in tranquillity and letters an asylum from the feverish cares that now bore me down. The thought was full of comfort, and I loved to return to it. I reviewed the different countries in which such a resting-place might best be found, and was not long in making a selection. Switzerland, with her lakes and hills, and moral and poetic associations, rose before me: there inhabiting a delightful cottage on the margin of one of her lakes, and emancipated from the conventional inquietudes that now oppressed me, I should find my health and my healtlıy sympathies revive.

In my present frame of mind, the charms of such a philosophic retreat were irresistible. I determined to bid an eternal adieu to demurrers and special contracts, and had already fixed upon the time for executing my project, when an unexpected obstacle interposed. My sole means of support was the profit-rent, of which I have already spoken. The land, out of which it arose, lay in one of the insurrectionary districts; and a letter from my agent in the country announced that not a shilling of it could be collected. In the state of nervous exhaustion to which the “ blue books" and the blue devils had reduced me, I had no strength to meet this unexpected blow. To the pangs of disappointed ambition were now added the horrors of sudden and hopeless poverty. I sank almost without a struggle, and becoming seriously indisposed, was confined to my bed for a week, and for more than a month to the house.

When I was able to crawl out, I moved mechanically toward the Courts. On entering the Hall, I met my friend, the king's counsel, who had formerly advised the Bethesda : he was struck by my altered appearance, inquired with much concern into the particulars of my recent illness, of which he had not

Vol. II.-8

heard before, and, urging the importance of change of air, insisted that I should accompany him to pass a short vacation then at hand at his country-house in the vicinity of Dublin. The day after my arrival there, I received a second letter from my agent, containing a remittance, aud holding out more encouraging prospects for the future. After this I recovered wonderfully, both in health and in spirits. My mind, so agitated of late, was now, all at once, in a state of the most perfect tranquillity : from which I learned, for the first time, tha: there is nothing like the excitement of a good practical blow (provided you recover from it) for putting to fliglit a host of imaginary cares. I could moralize at some length on this subject, but I must hasten to a conclusion.

The day before our return to town, my friend had a party of Dublin acquaintances at his house : among the guests was the late Mr. D—, an old attorney in considerable business, and his daughter. In the evening, though it was summertime, we had a dance. I led out Miss D—: I did so, I seriously declare, without the sliglitest view to the important consequences that ensued.

After the dance, which (I remember it well) was to the favorite ard far-famed “Leg-of-Mutton jig,” I took my partner aside, in the usual way, to entertain her. I began by asking if “she was not fond of poetry ?" She demanded “why I asked the question ?" I said, “Because I thought I could perceive it in the expression of her eyes.” She blushed, “protested I must be flattering her, but admitted that she was." I then asked “if she did not think the Corsair a charming poem ?" She answered, “Oh, yes !"- — And would not she like to be living in one of the Grecian islands ?” — “Oh, indeed she would.”—“ Looking upon the blue waters of the Archipelago and the setting sun, associated as they were with the rest.”.

--"How delightful it would be !" exclaimed she. “And so refreshing !said I. I thus continued till we were summoned to another set. She separated from me with reluctance, for I could see that she considered my conversation to be the sublimest thing that could be.

The effect of the impression I had made soon appeared. Two days after, I received a brief in rather an important case

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »