Gambar halaman

to those immortal records of judicial wisdom, a report of Lord Manners's last judgment upon himself) to preserve some account of his lordship's final adjudication upon his own merits, and to commemorate the tear that fell upon that pathetic occasion from the “ Outalissi” of the Four Courts —

“The first, the last, the only tear

That Peter Henchey shed :" but I find that the first of the incidents to which I have referred, together with an account of the progress of Lord Norbury through the various parts which he performed in the political theatre, from his first entrance as “an Irish gentleman” in the House of Commons, to his exit as a jester from the bench, will occupy so much space, that I must confine myself to the biography of his Lordship; which, however little it may be instructive, will not, I think, be found unamusing, and falls within the scope of the articles on the Irish Bar.

In the account given by Sir Pertinax Macsycophant of his rise and progress in the world, he states that his only patrimony was a piece of parental advice, which stood him in lieu of an estate. I have heard it said, that Lord Norbury, in detailing the circumstances which attended his original advancement in life, generally commenced the narrative of his adventures with a death-bed scene of a peculiarly Irish character. His father, a gentleman of a respectable Protestant family in the county of Tipperary, called him in his last moments to his side, and after stating that, in order to sustain the ancient and venerable name of Toler in its dignity, he had devised the estate derived from a sergeant (not at law) to his eldest son, the old Cromwellian drew from under his pillow a case of silver-mounted pistols, and, delivering this “donatio mortis causâ,” charged him never to omit exhibiting the promptitude of an Irish gentleman, in resorting to these forensic and parliamentary instruments of advancement.*

* Lord Norbury made frequent, if not good, use of his pistols — "barkers," as they were called in fighting parlance. He fought with several persons, one of whom was the ruffianly “ Fighting Fitzgerald” who was finally hanged for murder. In those days a duel was necessary to fix a man's character. When a young man entered society, the first word was, “What family does he come


The family acres having gone to the eldest brother, our hero proceeded with his specific legacy, well oiled and primed, to Dublin, having no other fortune than the family pistols, and a couple of hundred pounds, when he was called, in the year 1770, to the Bar. The period is so remote, that no account of his earlier exploits, beyond that of his habitual substitution of the canons of chivalry for those of law, has remained. With one of his contemporaries, the late Sir Frederick Flood, I was acquainted, and I have heard that eminent person, whom the intellectual aristocracy of Wexford sent to supply the place of Mr. Fuller in the British House of Commons,* occa

from ?" the second,“ Who has he blazed with ?” When plain Mr. Toler, Lord Norbury quarrelled with Sir Jonah Barrington. It was in the House of Commons, when Barrington having accused him of having “a hand for every man and a heart for nobody" (which was true to the letter), Toler gave a sharp reply, and hurriedly retired. Barrington, who understood his look, followed. The Speaker sent in pursuit of both gentlemen. Barrington was overtaken, running down Nassau street, and, on his resistance, was bodily snatched up, in presence of a shouting mob of grinning spectators, and literally carried into the House, on a man's shoulders. Toler, caught by his coat-skirts being fastened by a door, was seized, and pulled until the skirts were separated from the garment. The Speaker called on both to give a promise that the affair should go no farther, which Barrington did at once. Toler rose to speak, minus his skirts, and the laughter caused by his appearance was increased when Curran grave. ly said that “it was offering an unparalleled insult to the House, for one honorable member to trim another member's jacket, within the precincts of Par liament, and almost in view of the Speaker himself.” To the last, even when judge, Norbury was anxious to display himself in the duello. There is no doubt that his advancement was owing more to his readiness to challenge and fight, than to any merit as a lawyer. He valued his life at nothing -a very fair estimate. -M.

* Sir Frederick Flood was member for Wexford County in the Imperial Par. liament, where he was much laughed at for his blunders, his ostentation, and his good temper. He used to adopt almost any suggestion, while making a speech. Praising the Wexford magistracy for their zeal, he suggested, “ They ought to receive some signal mark of vice-regal favor." Egan (commonly called Bully Egan, and judge of Dublin County) jocularly whispered, “and be whipped at the cart's tail.” Flood, hearing the words, completed his speech by adding -"and be whipped at the cart's tail!" He did not discover his unconscious mistake, until awakened by a shout of laughter from his auditors. Jack Fuller was an English M. P., who was the acknowledged Parliamentary buffoon, after the brilliant wit of Sheridan ceased to enliven the Legislature. Fuller was a mere joker : Sheridan a man of genius. - M.

sionally expatiate on the feats which he used to perform with Lord Norbury, with something of the spirit with which Justice Shallow records his achievements at Clement's Inn. “Oh the mad days that I have spent,” Sir Frederick used to say, “and to think that so many of my old acquaintances are dead !" The details, however, of his narrations have escaped me. I had calculated that, as he was a strict disciple of Abernethy (except when he dined out), he would have equalled Cornaro in longevity; but being as abstemious in his dress as in his diet, and having denied himself the luxury of an exterior integument, Sir Frederick coughed himself, a couple of winters since, unexpectedly away. I am, therefore, unable to resort to any of Lord Norbury's original companions, for an authentic account of the first development of his genius at the Irish Bar.

If that bar had been constituted as it is at present, at the period when Lord Norbury was called, it is difficult to imagine how he could have succeeded. Destitute of knowledge, with a mind which, however shrewd and sagacious in the perception of his own interests, was unused to consider, and was almost incapable of comprehending any legal proposition, he could never have risen to any sort of eminence, where perspicuity or erudition was requisite for success. But the qualifications for distinction, at the time when Lord Norbury was called, were essentially different from what they are at present. Endowed with the lungs of Stentor, and a vivacity of temperament which sustained him in all the turbulence of Irish Nisi Prius, and superadding to his physical attributes for noise and bluster, a dauntless determination, he obtained some employment in those departments of his profession, in which merits of the kind were at that time of value. His elder brother, Daniel, was elected member for the county of Tipperary, which brought him into connection with Government; but, besides his brother's vote, he is reported to have intimated to the ministry, that upon all necessary occasions bis life should be at their service. The first exploit from which his claims upon the gratitude of the local administration of the country were chiefly derived, was the “putting down," to use the technical phrase, of Mr.

CHALLENGES NAPPER TANDY. Napper Tandy.* The latter was a distinguished member of the Whig Club, and was a tribune of the people.

Tandy had set up great pretensions to intrepidity, but, having come into collision with Lord Norbury, manifested so little alacrity in accepting the ready tender which was made to him by that intrepid loyalist, that the latter was considered to have gained a decided superiority. Napper Tandy remained lingering on the threshold of the arena, while the prize-fighter of the ministers rushed into it at once, and brandished his sword amidst the applauses of that party, of which he was thenceforward the champion. The friends of Napper Tandy accounted for his tardiness in calling on Lord Norbury (who declared his willingness to meet him in half an hour), by referring it to an apprehension that the House of Commons would interfere ; but it seems probable that the patriot of the hour set a higher estimate upon his existence than it merited,

* James Napper Tandy was an Irishman, of good family, high education, and respectable fortune. He was a United Irishman, and retired to France, to avoid arrest in Ireland. There he received a commission, as general of brigade, in one of the expeditions against Ireland, in 1798, which came to nothing. The year following, Napper Tandy was in Hamburgh, where the English Government had spies, and the local authorities surrendered him, as a prisoner claimed by England. Napoleon, who was then first consul, reclaimed Tandy, as an officer in the army of France, and declared that if a hair of his head were touched, an English officer of equal rank, taken prisoner in France, should be hanged. The threat was a strong one, the man likely to execute it, and, instead of executing Tandy as “a traitor,” England exchanged him, as a prisoner-of-war. He died in the French service. Napoleon levied a heavy fine on the city of Hamburgh for their breach of neutrality in surrendering a French officer. It should be noted that Theobald Wolfe Tone, taken in arms in Le Hoche, a French ship-of-war which took troops to Ireland in September, 1798, had as much right to be reclaimed by France, in whose military office he was, as Tandy. There was not time to do so, so rapidly did his trial and conviction follow his capture. It is known that Tone cut his throat in prison, to avoid death on the scaffold. But it is not generally known that it was seriously discussed by the Irish executive, whether, “ for the sake of the example," he should not be conducted to the gallows, half-dead as he was, and executed forthwith-though to do so, it would be necessary to insert the halter within the wound, and thereby probably tear the victim's head from his body! Humanity or the fear of public execration prevailed, and Tone was suffered to die in peace, after lingering for eight days in mortal pain. - M.

while Lord Norbury rated bimself at his real value, and did not "set his life at a pin's fee."

After this affair, which mainly contributed to the making of his fortunes, the minister determined to turn the principal talent which he appeared to possess, and of which he had given so conspicuous a proof, to farther account. In the Irish House of Commons, the government party, when hard pressed, converted the debate into a sort of sanguinary burletta, in which Lord Norbury, then Sergeant Toler, and Sir Boyle Roche,* of blundering memory, were their favorite performers.

* Sir Boyle Roche was an Irish Baronet, who had a seat in Parliament, and was the droll of the House. He was famous for his bulls — which, though the expression might be incorrect, generally involved aphorisms of sound sense. He was of respectable family — with a claim to the title of Viscount Fermoy, but never urging it. Once, when it was stated, on a money-grant, that it was unjust to saddle posterity with a debt incurred to benefit the present generation, Sir Boyle rose up and said, “Why should we beggar ourselves to benefit posterity ? What has posterity done for us?" The laugh which followed rather surprised him, as he was unconscious of his blunder. He explained: “Sir, by posterity I do not mean our ancestors, but those who come immediately after them." - Arguing in favor of a harsh Government measure, he urged that it would be better to give up not only a part, but even the whole of the constitution, to preserve the remainder.''-On another occasion, as a free translation of

“Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito," he said “The best way to avoid danger, is to meet it plump."- Complaining of the smallness of wine-bottles, he suggested that a bill should be passed enacting that every quart-bottle should hold a quart.- He married Sir John Cave's eldest daughter, and boasted that if he had an older one, Sir John would have given her to him.-Fearing the progress of revolutionary opinions, he drew a frightful picture of the future, remarking that the House of Commons might be invaded by ruffians who, said he, “ would cut us to mince-meat and throw our bleeding heads on that table, to stare us in the face."- Arguing in favor of the Union of Ireland with England, he said (rather wittily) that there was no Levitical degrees between nations, and, on this occasion, he saw neither sin nor shame in marrying our own sister."-He brought in a bill for the improvement of the Dublin police, who were in the habit of sleeping on their post, at night, and introduced a clause to the effect that "every watchman should be compelled to sleep in the daytime.” On this, another member arose and begged to be included in that clause, by name, "as he was troubled with the gout and sometimes could not sleep by night or day.”—He assisted in preparing a bill to provide for the erection of a new jail in Dublin, and stated that the new prison should be built on the site and with the materials of the old one, and that the prisoners should

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »