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CHARLES GLENDONWYN SCOTT, ESQ.,
MY DEAR SCOTT,
I DEDICATE these volumes to you.
They contain some traits of the illustrious man, of whom there was not a more devoted political disciple, nor a more attached personal friend, than yourself.
Their materials have been, in a great measure, taken from such portions of my private diary as record the conversations that I and others have held with our lamented leader. Many memoranda, also, have been furnished by my kind and valued friend, Patrick Vincent FitzPatrick, Esq., of Dublin.
The nature of a book thus compiled must of course
very desultory. It was necessarily impossible to methodise the vast variety of miscellaneous topics suggested by O'Connell's colloquial recollections, or started by his companions. Although I have occasionally given details of the public movements in which, under his leadership, you and I actively participated, yet my principal object was to show O'Connell in his private capacity; to show him at ease among his familiar associates, talking discursively away upon the thousand subjects which past and present politics, and personal anecdote, presented to his mind.
There is one thing which these records demonstrate—if indeed it needed demonstration—namely, that Ireland and her interests were ever uppermost in his thoughts.
On his political character and career, Ireland has long since pronounced. Well may his countrymen feel pride in the extraordinary man, who, for a series of years, could assail and defy a hostile and powerful government; who could knit together a prostrate, divided, and dispirited nation into a resolute and invincible confederacy; who could lead his followers in safety through the traps and pitfalls that beset their path to freedom; who could baffle all the artifices of sectarian bigotry; and finally overthrow the last strongholds of Anti-Catholic tyranny by the simple might of public opinion.
To say that as a public leader he had no faults, and made no mistakes, would be to ascribe to him more than human exemption from error. But it is undeniable that his mistakes were far fewer than any other man in his place would have made ; and that from such as he did make, he had the tact to extricate himself with promptness and dexterity. Sagacious, wary, and honest ; cautious without timidity, and sanguine without rashness; he was inimitably adapted to achieve the great purpose of his mission.
I do not think I err in believing that more than ordinary interest must attach to every reminiscence of the private and familiar intercourse of a man so gifted and distinguished.
If there be any compliment annexed to the dedication of this book, you, my dear Scott, are well entitled to it. Sprung from an ancient and honourable Scottish race, and possessing no other connexion with Ireland than the sympathy excited in a just and