Specimens of Irish Eloquence (Classic Reprint)

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Fb&c Limited, Jul 9, 2015 - 466 pages
Excerpt from Specimens of Irish Eloquence

The malignant prejudices of a northern critic, so self-sufficiently pronounced against the Irish school of eloquence, determined me upon collecting such materials as might give the impartial an opportunity of judging for themselves. In doing this I am solely ia fluenced by a paramount affection for that country which has been thus exposed to the most unmitigated defamation. I take up with pleasure the gauntlet which has been flung down, and in asserting the oratorical equality of Ireland with either England or Scotland, taken individually, I refer to the present Volume as my proof, and boldly challenge the production of another which can bear the comparison. A ridicule of the Irish character - an exposure of its faults, and an exaggeration of its foibles, became of late years a kind of national coxcombry which was at once too conceited to learn, too ignoderived at once from their country and their ancestors.

The harmony of the Irish system had been disturbed, and as its affrighted orbs shot one by one through the political firmament, their brilliant aberrations were the alternate theme of amazement or condemnation. In the latter class the most plaintive and the most pitiable were the seers of Scotland - it was no wonder - their northern lights were dimmed by the excessive splendour, and every little purblind sans cnlotte philosopher who could not see through the cloud of his mountain prejudices announced an eclipse or foretold a conflagra tion The alarm was raised and the national taste was more than endangered, forsooth, by the barbarous corruption of the Irish style. That this style is peculiar there. Is no doubt, and so is every style in the fine arts which has distinguished any individual nation thus we speak of the German drama - the Italian music - the Flemish painting - and, in short, of each combination of national characteristics, which, in their respective branches, forms what we technically called a school. But is this individuality a reason for condemning the pretensions of genius?

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