Page images

of fifteen paces, are perfectly divided the provisions of the preceding one! in the apprehension of the more tardy Thus, if desirous of obtaining a lady's intellects beyond the borders of the hand, he made a will in her favour, “ Gem of the Ocean.” But within and let her find it by accident.those borders the connexion was es. Whether this were the final charm tablished by all the rules of indige- of his marriage, he at length sucnous reason. The lawsuit and the ceeded on a scale which must have duel were distinguished from each gratified his regard for money and other, only as the five-act comedy is for alliance in a remarkable degree. from the farce of one. It was the He won and wedded the grandmore expanded form of that which daughter of the Duke of Chandos, constituted the national occupation; with a dower of L.50,000, enough to and as no man could be a gentleman have purchased the fee-simple of an without having exhibited his con Irish principality. His successor, tempt for the laws in the field, so Earl John, was equally amusing in no man could be satisfied with his his peculiarities, equally shrewd and personal career, unless it was di. simple, equally narrow and extravaversified with a routine of appeals gant, equally dexterous in laying to the laws in every court where a traps for other men, and equally plaintiff and defendant might be apt to entangle himself in the first turned alike into beggars. The pre- that was set before him. The first sent propensities of Ireland differ act of his successor was to impeach from those ancient ones, yet more in the sanity of Earl Robert. On their form than in their spirit. The this occasion fifty-one wills were private love of lawsuits has magni- produced of his Lordship’s inditing, fied itself into one great popular liti- from which the counsel on one side gation against all that takes the name proposed to establish the fact that he of English authority or Irish govern- was mad, and the counsel on the ment; and the original fondness for other side that he was sane. The individual performances on the hair quantity of provisions, the contradictrigger is now invigorated and am- tions, the verbal extravagances, were plified into popular riot, where it can a strong hold for the insanity; yet display its tastes at its ease, and popu. the skill, the knowledge of nature, lar conspiracy where it cannot, the the humour, and the general cajoling spirit not being in the least diminish. of mankind, which the same docued in either case, but the whole forme ments exhibited, were equally irreing a national preparative for a fu. sistible in the hands of the opposing rious and general explosion of civil counsel. The Bench and the bystanwar.

ders enjoyed an unrivalled treat, Robert Stratford, Earl of Ald. but the Jury were prodigiously perborough, was a collection of qualities plexed. At length they decided the that would have delighted a drama- case on the known character of the tist. Crafty and simple, bold and man, and brought in a verdict of timid, witty and absurd, possessing sane, on the expressive ground,“ that a great variety of information, yet all knew that he was more knave often ludicrously ignorant. Shake than fool.” speare might have cut him up at But he distinguished himself still once into Sir Andrew Aguecheek, more in a contest with that very reParolles, and Falstaff. He was called markable man, Lord Clare, the the Lord of “a Hundred Wills,” from Chancellor. Lord Aldborough had, a propensity which alone was suffi. among his predominant fancies, one ciently indicative of the compound of which, as men who know the world subtlety and simplicity which formed say, is, in itself, evidence of unsound this miscellany of a man. “ It was mind,-a fondness for building. In a general rule with him to make a the indulgence of this passion, he will or codicil in favour of any per- had purchased a fragment of ground son with whom he was desirous of in the most unsightly and desolate carrying a point; taking especial spot in the suburbs, an actual marsh, care that the party should be ac- and there erected a very shewy quainted with his proceeding. No mansion, with a chapel in one wing, sooner, however, was the end ac- a theatre in another, and as many complished, and other game started, Latin mottoes fixed upon every part than a fresh instrument annulled all of the architecture, as would have acted as a capital advertisement for a cellor; and, without delay, fell to village pedagogue. As an additional composing a book against the appelinstance of the oddity of the man, lant jurisdiction, and its chief mi. after having expended twenty or nister, contemptuous alike of the thirty thousand pounds in the build- principle, the practice, and the man, ing, the spirit of parsimony again and insisting that "it was a total had the ascendant, and a corner of abuse of justice to be obliged to apthe ground, not actually occupied by peal to a prejudiced man against his the house, was sold to a carpen- own prejudices, and particularly in ter, who immediately established his the instance of the existing Chantrade upon the spot, and while his cellor, who was notorious for being piles of slit deal made a most un- unforgiving to those who vexed him; sightly flanker to the handsome man- few Lords attending to hear the sion, kept up with his sawing and cause, and such as did being not hammering, a perpetual din, that much the wiser for the hearing, it must have driven any man but a mad being the province of counsel to Lord out of his senses. But the grie- puzzle, not to inform noblemen.” vance of the carpenter was not in the course of his publication he enough to grow out of this tenement. humorously stated a case in point, A portion of the ground belonged to in which he himself had been an one of the Beresford family, then actor when travelling in Holland. very powerful, deeply engrossed in “ He was going to Amsterdam in a the politics which his Lordship dig. trekschuit, the skipper of which beliked, and closely allied to the Chan- ing a very great rogue, extorted from cellor, whom he very thoroughly him for his passage much more than hated. To law the parties went he had a right to claim. My Lord without delay. The cause was in expostulated with the fellow in vain Chancery; and, by a rare fate in that he grew rude. My Lord persisted Court, the issue was not of the Alex. - the fellow grew more abusive. At audrine length, that sees both par- length he told the skipper, that he ties into their graves. His Lordship would, immediately on landing, go was very rapidly, and very summa- to the proper tribunal, and get rerily defeated, with full costs. No- dress from the judge. The skipper thing could have been more irrita- snapped his tarry fingers in his face. ting. He loved money, he loved to Lord Aldborough paid the demand, be able to bear down every body, and, on landing, went to the legal and he had long looked on himself officer to know when the court of as one of the greatest lawyers in the justice would sit. He was answerworld. He was stung by the deci. ed, at nine next morning. Having sion in every point of his sensibility; no doubt of ample redress, he did his pride and his purse must first not choose to put the skipper on his suffer, and next his taste, for the guard by mentioning his intention. decision involved the fate of at least Next morning he went to court, and one-half of his building. Still the began to tell his story to the judge, law was unfortunately open to him, who sat with his broad-brimmed hat and he plunged into the gulf without on in great state. His Lordship fanhesitation. He appealed to the cied that he had seen the man before. House of Lords, where in due sea- Nor was he long in doubt. For beson the cause came on for hearing, fore he had half-finished, the judge, and the Chancellor himself presided. in a roar, but which he immediately The Lay Lords, of course, took no recognised, for it was the identical interest in the matter. The appeal skipper who sat on the bench, defailed, and without loss of time, cided against him with full costs, Lord Clare, of the House of Peers, and ordered him out of court. His confirmed the decree of Lord Clare Lordship, however, said that he of the Court of Chancery, again would appeal, and away he went to with full costs against the appellant. an advocate for the purpose. He did Lord Aldborough was now at the appeal accordingly, and the next day height of indignation; and concei. his appeal came regularly on. But ving that justice, driven from the all his stoicism forsook bim when he earth, was to be brought back only perceived that the very same skipper by the spell of his pen, he deter. and judge was to decide the appeal mined to write down the Lord Chan who had decided the cause ; so that the learned skipper first cheated, and proper emphasis. Whether this sufthen sent him about his business, with ferance was scorn on the part of the three sets of costs to console him.” Chancellor, or the effect of surprise, it

The application was too plain to had a great effect in the House. To be mistaken, and every body read the all, the sight was ludicrous in the exbook, and was infinitely amused treme, and to his secret ill-wishers, with the bly oddity and humorous and they were not a few, it was sarcasm which started up in every highly gratifying. When the libel page. But Lord Clare, as Chancel. was at last gone through, Lord Ald. lor and Speaker of the House, felt borough, from his seat, defended that the publication was not to be it boldly and cleverly. He declared passed over without acquainting that he avowed every word of it; writers on such subjects, that their that it was not intended as a libel vocation was attended with some against either the House or their judegree of peril. The burlesque on risdiction, but as a constitutional and the appellant jurisdiction of the just rebuke to their Lordships for not House was declared to be a proper performing their bounden duty of subject of notice. The book was attending the hearing of appeals; he voted to be a gross breach of privi. being quite certain that if any sensilege, and the noble writer was or- ble men had been present, the Lord dered to attend in his place, and Chancellor would have had only defend himself, if any defence he two Lords and two Bishops (of his had, from the charge. Of course own creation) on his side of the the house was thronged on that question. night by both Peers and Common. But it was clear that this speech ers, and the public attention strongly could not save him. He must have excited in every quarter.

already made up his mind, and, The scene was one of the most after having gratified himself by this curious imaginable. The Lord Chan- display, he was prepared for the cellor, holding the culprit publica. vote, which declared him guilty of tion in his hand, demanded of Lord a high breach of privilege towards Aldborough if he admitted that it the House of Peers, and a libel on was his writing and publication, the Chancellor as its chairman. He His Lordship adroitly replied, was afterwards ordered to Newgate " that he could admit nothing as for six months, by the Court of written or published by him, till King's Bench, on an information erery syllable of it should be first filed against him by the Attorneytruly read to their Lordships aloud General, for a libel on Lord Clare; in the House.” Lord Clare, always which sentence he told the House inclined to take the most expe- he considered as a high compliment ditious mode, and impatient at the and honour. In fact, he was so far intended delay, began to read it from being disconcerted at the rehimself, for the purpose of curtail. sult, that he delighted in talking of ing it in the less important passages. it, declaring that he expected to have But being not quite near enough to his book recorded in the journals of the chandelier, and finding some the Lords; the Chancellor himself, slight difficulty in decyphering the by applying the anecdote of the Dutch print, Lord Aldborough started from skipper, having construed it into a his seat, took a pair of enormous regular episode on his own proceedcandlesticks from the table, and ings and those of the Peerage. walking deliberately up to the “ His Lordsbip's brother, the HoWoolsack, requested the Chancels nourable Paul Stratford, was an lor's permission to hold the candles equally eccentric personage. The for bim wbile he was reading the present Dowager Countess of Aldbook! This novel effrontery put borough, then one of the handthe Chancellor off his guard, and he somest women of her time, and still actually suffered Lord Aldborough one of the wittiest, gave him the to hold the lights, while he read sobriquet of · Holy Paul,' a name aloud the libel, comparing himself which originated on the following to a Dutch skipper; nor did the ob occasion, and stuck to him through sequious author omit to set him life. — Mount Neil, a remarkably right whenever he omitted a word or fine old country-house, furnished in

the ancient style, was his place of new house and new furniture, when residence, in which he had resided one was tired of the old. Paul in. many years, but of which, it was sisted. The Ensurance Company thought, he at last grew tired. One were inexorable. An action was the stormy night this house, some time natural course to enforce from their after it had been ensured to a large fears, what could not be obtained amount, most perversely took fire. from their principle. But, for the (The common people still say tbat first time in the annals of the Stratit was of its own accord.) No water fords, law was declined. The Saint was to be had ; of course the flames suddenly discovered that an action raged ad libitum. The tenants bus. at law was an invention of the getled, jostled, and tumbled over each neral enemy of man; and declared other, in a general uproar and zeal to that he would rather lose his ensusave his Reverence's great house.' rance than bring any act of Fate into His Reverence alone, meek and re- the Court of Exchequer, which never signed, beheld the element devour his was renowned for any great skill in family property, piously and audio ecclesiastical affairs. He therefore bly attributing the evil solely to the declined this species of appeal, and just will of Providence, for having left the Ensurance Office to enjoy vexed his mother some years before, their premium, and the world to en. when she was troubled with a dropsy. joy its laugh." The honourable and reverend Paul Whatever construction ought to adopted an equally pious method of have been put on the matter, he extinguishing the conflagration. He sank in general estimation by it. fell on his knees in front of the bla. “In fact,” says Sir Jonah," the fault zing pile, and with uplifted hands, of Holy Paul was a love of money. and in the tone of a suffering saint, He had a very good property, but besought that the flame might be was totally averse to paying any extinguished, which, as it obviously thing. He was at length put into defied all human power, was in his prison by his niece's husband, where opinion a natural object for miracle, he long remained, rather than renStill the conflagration went on, un- der an account; and when at length beeding the kneeling Saint; and the he had settled the whole demand, people brought out the furniture as refused to pay a few pounds of fees, well as they could, and ranged it on and continued voluntarily in conthe lawn. But Paul's supplication, finement until his death." Yet be it seems, had not extended to those had the good as well as the evil of matters, for he no sooner perceived eccentricity. With all his passion this result of their labours, than he for money, he now and then gave cried out, ' Stop, throw all the fur away large sums in charity. niture back into the fire; we must Earl Robert's freaks were of a not fly in the fuce of Heaven. When bigher order, for he had always some fate determined to burn my house, object, connected with his personal it certainly intended to burn the fur: dignity, in view. The borough of niture. I feel resigned. Throw it Baltinglass was in the patronage of all back again,' The Saint's orders the Stratfords. But his Lordship's were obeyed, and as he was satis brothers, John and Benjamin, were fied, so was every body else on the generally in possession, and always spot; the tenants stopped to enjoy at feud with him, as all the members the burning which they were not of the family were with each other ; suffered to impede, and the house and, in short, thus ruffled his Lordand furniture were quickly in ashes, ship's peace of mind in no trifling But all were not so easily satisfied. degree. “He was determined, howTsis Reverence's extraordinary equa- ever, to make a new kind of returnpimity was by no means to the taste ing officer, whose adherence he might of the Ensurance Company, who rather more depend on. He, there. were duly called on for payment. fore, took his sister, Lady Hannah A good deal of public sneering took Stratford, down to the corporation, place on the occasion, and the ma. and recommended her as a fit and licious wits of Dublin actually had proper returning officer for the bothe effrontery to say that they knew rough of Baltinglass. Many highly no more capital expedient to get a approved of her Ladyship, by way

of a change, and a double return en- your coontenance, he wad na tak it sued, a man acting for the brothers, for your Eerldom. His Lordship the lady for the nobleman. This withdrew, and the angry Majorspread created a great battle. The honour- the story, as a singular piece of lordable ladies of the family got into ly assurance. But bere was exhithe thick of it; some of them were bited the presiding genius of the well trounced; others gave as good Peer, the dexterous imperturbability as they received; the affair made a which always enabled him to go great uproar in Dublin, and infor- through. An inferior diplomatist mations were moved for and granted would have taken the retort as a reagainst some of the ladies. How- buke, have given up the matter, and ever, the brothers fought it out, and been thenceforth the general laugh kept the borough; and his Lordship of the country. But Earl Robert could never make any further hand knew the world too well, to let the of it.

Major's answer stick against himself. One of his characteristics was that As if the whole conference had been of getting into a scrape on all pos- one perfectly to his satisfaction, he sible occasions; and another was next day invited every officer of the the more unusual one of getting out regiment to his house, and treated of it in general with a high hand, by them so sumptuously, that the Major a certain kind of imperturbable diglost all credit with his brother offinity, or adroit insensibility to his cers for the surliness of his reply to ever being in the wrong. “ As he so accomplished a nobleman! Nay, always assumed great state and pro- so powerfully bad his Lordship’s fessed great loyalty, he once pro- urbanity turned the tables, that it ceeded in great pomp in his coach began to be whispered at mess, that and six, with outriders, &c., to visit a the Major bad actually invented the regiment of cavalry which had been story, in order to shew off his own sent down to the neighbourhood of wit and independence. The triumph his estate in the threatening year was all on his Lordsbip's side. 1797. On entering the room, where “Another occasion of similar dexhe found the commanding officer terity, in a still stranger case, is realone, he began by informing him, corded of this singular personage.

that he was the Earl of Aldbo. He was church warden of Baltinglass rough, of Belan Castle; that he had parish, and by some means or other the finest mansion, demesne, park, became entangled with the rector, and fish-ponds in the county; and in his mode of accounting for the that he frequently did the military money in the poor's box. Whether this gentlemen the honour to invite them result arose from carelessness in the to his dinners :' finishing this peer, or from other causes, the rector speech with what he perhaps con- Bob Carter's remonstrances were ceived the consummation of digni- treated with the greatest contempt. fied civility, I have come from my The parsou, who felt no sort of perCastle of Belan, where I have all sonal respect for my Lord, reviewed the conveniencies and luxuries of his insinuations of his Lordship's life, for the especial purpose, Major false arithmetic ; until the latter, M.Pherson, of saying, I am glad to sorely galled, grew wroth, and would see the military in my county, and give Bob no further satisfaction on have made up my mind to give you the matter. On this, the rector took my countenance and protection. the only revenge, at the moment, in The Major, who happened to be his power; by giving out a second rather a rough soldier, listened to the charity sermon- Inasmuch as the early part of this curious address with proceeds of the former had not been ill-repressed indignation at his Lord- productive. The hint went abroad, ship’s arrogant politeness. But, when the church was crowded, and, to the the personal promise was made, he infinite amusement of the congregacould restrain himself no longer. tion, though certainly with a very * Countenance and protection !' be blamable spirit of trifling with the uttered contemptuously two or three sacred text, Bob began with “Whotimes. “As for your proteection, my soever giveth to the poor, lendeth to Lord, Major M'Pherson is always the Lord! The application was inable to proteect himsell ; and as for stantly made. Bob followed up the hit

« PreviousContinue »