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There is another practice of certain novelists which annoys me not a little—that is, to dish up the same characters either as principals or secondaries in every story. It is not merely objectionable on the ground that character-drawing is almost the best part of fiction, as it is certainly the most instructive; but there is such poverty in invention, or such inveterate indolenee, implied in the practice. It is bad enough if a strolling compan must perform ‘Coriolanus’ wit the same corps that gave the ‘Road to Ruin;' and it is hard to surrender one's sympathy to Romeo, when he perpetually recalls Jeremy Diddler: still, these poor creatures do their utmost so to disguise their identities that you shall not detect them. Whereas, in the novel, it is the same dreary personage that broke your heart in the, “Three Crows,” that is now dogging your in ‘Drivelling Manor;' and the Bore that cost you the thread of one story by your efforts to skip him, turns up in a totally different book to be your misery once more. When Sancho was relating the memorable story of the shepherd to his master, he found himself suddenly arrested in his narrative by Don Quixote's inability to tell how many sheep had been ferried over the stream. “‘Fore God,” said he, “if you have forgotten the score, it is impossible for me to continue the story.” These people are, however, more exacting still, for they call on you to bear in mind who was each person's father and mother, who their uncles and aunts and friends. A name turns up suddenly in the story without any intimation who he is and whence he comes. You turn back to trace him; alas, it is to a story published the year before, and nine others dating successively as many years back, you must go—a labour that may possibly not be requited by any interest intended to surround him. In the reading of these books, if not well “posted” in all by the same author, and gifted with a retentive
memory besides, a man feels like a partenu suddenly introduced into a society where, except himself, each knows and is known to his neighbour." He has the humiliating consciousness that in a company so intimately united, he himself, the intruder, is de trop. He sees that every one knows the Duke of Allsorts, and that nobody is surprised when Lady Mumford appears, and he naturally concludes that he has no business in a society where he is the only one who has **i. who are those around him. h will not these writers give us wi a new book a chronological table, and let us learn who begat whom ? But, in point of fact, the thing is, harder than mere chronology —it is far more; it is the Darwinian theory applied to fiction, and the law of development introduced into tale-writing. The homunculus of some book of ten years ago, may be the foreground figure of a later work; and the child you have scarcely noticed at one time, may have been developed into the grandmother of a present heroine. This is simply intolerable. I ask for a story, and you give me a census return; I want a tale, and I get an extract from a baptismal registry. There are a few characters of fiction, and really they are very few, that could not recur too often. It would be difficult to shut the door against Sancho, or Falstaff, or perhaps Dugald Dalgetty ; but have the writers I have just been speaking of given us any creations like these? or are not their personages only real in the one respect, that they are as tiresome as living men 7 Let me record one splendid exception from this judgment in him who has given to our fiction-literature a racy vigour and a freshness which only genius can give. The greatest imaginative writer, unquestionably, since Shakespeare, is the author of Chuziewio with him we encounter no repetitions; all is varied, novel, and interesting as na
ture herself; and this great master of humour moves us to tears or laughter without the semblance of an effort on his part; and as for
those “inexpensive guests” that abuse of Daniel O'Connell used to say
that he was the best abused man in Europe; had he only lived till now he would have seen that the ractice has been extended to all is countrymen of every class and condition, of every shade of politics, and every section of opinion. The leading journal especially has adopted this line, and the adjective Irish has been assumed as a disqualifier to all and everything it can be applied to. I am sure that this is not generous—I have my doubts if it be just. First of all, we are abused too indiscriminately, and for faults diametrically the opposite of each other; secondly, we are sneered at for qualities which the greater nation is not sorry to utilise; and, last of all, we are treated as such acknowiedged admitted inferiors as makes it a very polite piece of condescension for Englishmen to occupy themselves, even in their leisure hours, by admonishing us of our faults, and reminding us of our shortcomings. Our unhappy country, too, whose greatest crime we used to think was the being our birthplace, is now discovered to be a damp tract of dreary bog—unfruitful, unwholesome, and unpleasant—without a soil to grow corn, or a sun to ripen it; spongy if undrained, and if drained, a “parched expanse of arid limestone.” This is not cheerful, any more than to hear that it rains ten months in the year, and that if it only rained nine we should have no grass, and without grass could no longer fatten beeves for Britons to feed on, that being the last resource left us in our destitution. Whatever we do, or attempt to do, by some unhappy fatality seems
sit beside our fireplaces at lone hours, or stroll with us in our solitary rambles, we owe more of them to Charles Dickens than to any other writer of the century.
wrong. If we stay at home, we are told that we are a poor-spirited set of creatures, satisfied with mere subsistence, and content to grovel on in our poverty. If we emigrate, we are reproached as people who have no loyalty, nor any attachment to the land of their birth.
One great authority declared that Ireland could never grow wheat, and yet—Mr. Whiteside t'other day assured us that we were ruined by the corn-laws. This is mighty hard to understand, and I own it puzzles me considerably.
“They've raised the price of malt, I hear, But what has malt to do with table-beer?”
Surely if the country was unsuited to the grape, it could scarcely be injured by a tax on the exportation of wine! Again, we are over-populated. The fatal tendency of the Irish to be venturous led to early marriages and large families; and it was a mercy to think that some had taken courage and gone off to America. Then came another with 'Adam Smith' in his hand, to protest that population meant riches—even a population of Irishmen; and, last of all, an indignant patriot declared that the day was not perhaps very distant, when Ireland should be peopled by Scotchmen. The ‘Times, however, capped all. It explained that Ireland must abandon tillage and forego manufactures—that her climate was unstable, her soil unfruitful, and her people lazy. She had, however, here and there, principally on the seaboard, some spots of picturesque beauty; and that Englishmen, partly out of a liking for scenery,
partly from pity, might occasionally well-clad, well-to-do " Manchester" come over and look at these, made up elements that worked the duties of guide and cicerone into something highly dramatic. being assigned to the native--who Let' me assure the happy disthus at last would have found an coverer of this theory for Ireland employment up to the level of his that, so far from increasing the opcapacity and his inclination. This portunities to Paddy to measure his is no exaggeration of mine I am native quickness with Saxon stolidinventing nothing I read, twice ity, he would be wiser not to give over too, the article that contained heedless occasion for the comparithis suggestion. It was made in son. perfect good faith, jast as the Now, these slights are not peacewriter might have counselled a makers, and we, the poorer and the North American savage to limit more helpless people, ought at least himself to the manufacture of mo- to have kind words; and yet there cassins, and not take to regular is one more grievance which, I own, shoemaking.
is, to my own feeling, harder to Irishmen were deliberately told, bear than even these. It is the by an authority that assumes to be assertion-made so frequently, denot only the political director, but clared so roundly, and proclaimed the moral arbiter of the nation, so unblushingly, that it has passed that there was nothing better for into a popular belief-tbat any them to do than turn guides to Irishman who bas ever risen to Cockney tourists.
high honours and great renown, If poor Paddy's circumstances will be found, on examination, to were such as to permit bis having possess traits and characteristics the some leisure time at his disposal, I very, opposite to those that distincan easily believe what amusement guish his countrymen--being, in he might obtain from the occupa- short, a sort of lusus naturæ Paddy tion recommended-what food for --who knows if not a Saxon egg, laughter he would derive from town- surreptitiously stolen, and placed bred, ignorance and moneyed self in the Celtic nest! Sterne they sufficiency-what stores of fun he only half give us. Swift some would lay by from the crnde re- deny us altogether; for my own marks and stupid commentaries of part, I'd not fight for him. Goldwandering baginen and the like ; smith they only concede to us bat the fact of reducing to a pro- whenever they disparage him. As fession what ought only to be a pas- for Edmund Burke, he puzzles them time, gives a very different colour to sorely. Barke, the great orator,
the master of every form of eloThe writer of this suggestion may quence, we might be permitted to not, however, have seen, as I have, claim, because by calling it Irish a beavy traveller from the manu- eloquence, its condemnation facturing districts gaining his Irish fixed for ever. But Burke, the experiences from a bare-footed, logician-Barke the statesman Tagged, half-famished native; and Burke the philosopher---the man it is such an exhibition of intense who foresaw more in the working drollery and sly raillery as one can- vut of events than any man of his Dot readily forget: the quick in, age, who could trace effects to their stinct as to the nature of the causes, and predicate from the acstranger, bis class and his babits, tual what must be the future—him -the subtle appreciation of the they deny us, and declare that all amount of his credulity—the racy these gifts were English. There enjoyment of his manifold blun- was an Irishman, too, who called ders
, and the thorough zest felt by himself Arthur Wellesley, and what & poor, half-naked, potato-fed crea- an amount of ingenuity was exture for his mental superiority over pended to show that his origin was
a mistake, and that he was only i. in so far that his birth was a bull.
Now, I am no Repealer — no Young Ireland man — no Feenian — no Erin-go-braghite; but I am downright weary, heart-sick of that everlasting depreciation of Ireland which is the stock theme of news
BE ALWAYS READy
“Be always ready with the pistol," were amongst the last, if not the yo last, words of counsel spoken by Henry Grattan to his son, and if they be read aright, are words of deep knowledge and wisdom, and not the expressions of malevolence or of passion.
No man of his age—very few men of any age—was ever more exempted by the happy accidents of his nature from reliance on mere force than Henry Grattan. He combined within his character almost every attribute that gives a man power over his fellows. With the vigour and energy of a lion he had an almost womanly gentleness. There was a charm in his manner, and a persuasiveness in his address, that the most prejudiced of his political enemies were the first to acknowledge. It was the temperament of an ancient Roman in all that regarded dignity, mnswerving purpose, and high devotion to country, blended with a far nobler and purer patriotism than ever Roman knew; and yet this man, armed with these great gifts, endowed with a superiority so unquestionable, had to own that there were not only occasions in life in which all individual supremacy must be merged that a man may measure himself with another. vastly his inferior in intellect, but that it is a positive duty not to decline, but actually to welcome, the occasion that may prove how ready the ablest man is to accept the arbitrament of the most vulgar-minded.
When Dr. Johnson stamped in a discussion because his adversar had done so, saying, “Sir, I will not concede to you the advantage
of even a stamp!" he to. expressed this principle, and showed how essential it is that high intellect should not show itself deficient in whatever constitutes the strength of an inferior order of men. In Grattan's day a duel was a common occurrence; almost every man in public life had fought more than once. Indeed, it was deemed a very doubtful sincerity that hesitated to stake life on the assertion of any line of action; and he who declined a provocation was as irretrievably ruined as if he had been convicted of o In fact, it was almost in this light it was rerded. Courage being deemed so esséntially part of a gentleman's nature, the discovery that it was wanting implied that degree of falsehood and deception that amounted to dishonour. Rude as this chivalry was, it reacted most favourably on manners; the courtesy of debate was never violated by any of those coarse contradictions and unseemly denials which lower parliamentary habits. Men knew well that the questions which touched personal honour were to be settled in another place, and that he who transgressed the limits of a certain reserve, did so with the full consciousness of all that might come of it. It was rare, too, to find that anything like bitterness survived the “meeting.” The quarrel once decided, men returned to the daily business of life without a particle of animosity towards each other. They had settled their difference, and there was an end of it. When Mr. Corry was lying ill of his wound
after his duel with. Grattan, a friend men who, to resent them, must came to sit with bim one day, and have accepted their own irretriev, after talking some time in the dark- able ruin, are themes I dare not ebed room, let fall some remarks re- permit myself to discuss. Neither flecting on the conduct of the other's will I suffer myself to say one late antagonist, -" Hist!” cried Cor- word in disparagement of a system Ty, "there's a little fellow asleep wbich honourable men are daily at the foot of the bed would send submitting to, with what bearta ball through you if he heard burning and indignation Heaven that," — the little fellow being alone could tell us! but, writing as Henry Grattan himself, who bad I do in these sketches fully as much never quitted the bedside of the with reference to å public opinion wounded man, and who bad just outside Great Britain as within her dropped off asleep from over-fatigue limits, I desire to say that this legisand watching.
lation of ours about duelling, and Now, to compass generosity like the whole tone of our public opinthis was surely worth sometbing; ion on the subject, has severely and I am by no means so certain damaged us in Continental estimathat an equal. degree of kind feel- tion. In the first place, no foreigner ing would follow on one of our pre-, can possibly understand an Englishsent-day altercations, when right man's unwillingness to "go out," honourable and honourable gentle except on grounds that would immed are led to the interchange of peach personal courage, because no courtesies more parliamentary than foreigner knows enough of our pubpolite; nay, I ain perfectly con- lic feeling to comprehend the fatal vinced that the good fellowship of injury inflicted on a man's career that time, confessedly greater than in England, by the repute of his now, was mainly owing to the having fought a duel. There is not widely-spread respect for personal a section in all the complex macourage which pervaded public life. chinery of our society against which
I think I hear someone say, the delinquent does not horl bis "This bloodthirsty Irishman wants defiance. As an eminent Irish to throw us all back into the bar- judge, more remarkable for the barism that prevailed, in the days bathos 'than the accuracy of his before the Union;" but I want eloquence, once said, “The pracnothing of the kind. I think that, tice is inhuman, it is uncivilized, it at the period referred to, the point is unchristian; nay, gentlemen of of honour was too pedantically ap- the jury, I will go further-it is: held; I think men resigned life illegal!" on grounds totally unequal to such Now, what man has the courage an appeal; I think there was an to face not merely the chance of beundne touchiness, an over-tensity, ing shot, but the certainty of being in the intercourse of the time that stigmatised? I desire to declare was neither wholesome nor benefi- here that I am not speaking vaguely cial; but I will by no means con-, or from bearsay. Sotar as a long cede that all the advantage is, on residence amongst foreigners in one side, because we have decreed nearly all parts of Europe enables that a duel is a disgrace, and that a man to pronounce, I claim the the man who fights one is disqualified right to declare that 'I know some-: for everything.
thing about them; and I know of of the consequences that. have nothing that seems, through every followed on the severe penalties separate people of the Continent, against duelling in the service, I so universal as the belief that own frankly I cannot venture to Englishmen do not like to. "go, speak, and for this reason I cannot out." trust my temper to speak calmly, If a Frenchman or an Italian The gross insults, the cruel wrongs, accept a cballenge to a duel, it is a the insufferable outrages passed on sort of brevet of bravery:; wounded :