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French. That he has done much evil there is little doubtthat he has been the origin of much good there is just as little. Through his means, intentional or not, Spain, Portugal, and France, have arisen to the blessings of a free constitution; superstition has found her grave in the ruins of the Inquisition; and the feudal system, with its whole train of tyrannic satellites, has fled for ever. Kings may learn from him, that their safest study, as well as their noblest, is the interest of the people; the people are taught by him, that there is no despotism so stupendous against which they have not a resource and, to those who would rise upon the ruins of both, he is a living lesson, that if ambition can raise them from the lowest station, it can also prostrate them from the highest.
A EULOGY OF WASHINGTON.
From The Dinas Island Speech.'
It matters very little what immediate spot may be the birthplace of such a man as Washington. No people can claim, no country can appropriate him; the boon of Providence to the human race, his fame is eternity and his residence creation. Though it was the defeat of our arms and the disgrace of our policy, I almost bless the convulsion in which he had his origin. If the heavens thundered and the earth rocked, yet, when the storm passed, how pure was the climate that it cleared; how bright in the brow of the firmament was the planet which it revealed to us! In the production of Washington it does really appear as if nature were endeavoring to improve upon herself, and that all the virtues of the ancient world were but so many studies preparatory to the patriot of the new. Individual instances no doubt there were; splendid exemplifications of some single qualification. Cæsar was merciful, Scipio was continent, Hannibal was patient; but it was reserved for Washington to blend them all in one, and, like the lovely chef d'œuvre of the Grecian artist, to exhibit in one glow of associated beauty the pride of every model and the perfection of every master. As a general he marshaled
the peasant into a veteran and supplied by discipline the absence of experience; as a statesman, he enlarged the policy of the cabinet into the most comprehensive system of general advantage, and such was the wisdom of his views and the philosophy of his counsels, that to the soldier and the statesman he almost added the character of the sage! A conqueror, he was untainted with the crime of blood; a revolutionist, he was free from any stain of treason; for aggression commenced the contest, and his country called him to the command. Liberty unsheathed his sword, necessity stained, victory returned it. If he had paused here history might have doubted what station to assign him, whether at the head of her citizens or her soldiers, her heroes or her patriots. But the last glorious act crowns his career and banishes all hesitation. Who, like Washington, after having emancipated a hemisphere, resigned its crown, and preferred the retirement of domestic life to the adoration of a land he might be almost said to have created?
"How shall we rank thee upon glory's page,
Thou more than soldier, and just less than sage?
THE AMBITION OF THE IRISH PATRIOT.
From a Speech to the Catholics of Sligo, 1813.
Let us turn from the blight and view of this wintry day, to the fond anticipation of a happier period, when our prostrate land will stand erect among the nations, her brow blooming with the wreaths of science, and her paths strewed with the offerings of art; the breath of heaven blessing her flag, the extremities of earth acknowledging her name; her fields waving with the fruits of agriculture, her ports alive with the varieties of commerce, and her temples rich with unrestricted piety: above all, her mountains crowned with the wild wreath of freedom, and her valleys vocal with the ecstasies of peace! Such is the ambition of the Irish patriot-such are the views for which we are calumniated! Oh, divine ambition! Oh, delight
ful calumny! Happy he, who shall see thee accomplished! Happier he, who, through every peril, toils for thy attainment! Proceed, friend of Ireland, and partaker of her wrongs, proceed undaunted to thy virtuous achievement! Though fortune may not gild, nor power ennoble thee, thou wilt be rich in the love, and titled by the blessings of thy country; thy path will be illumined by the public eye, thy labors enlightened by the public gratitude! The good will give thee their benediction; the great, their applause; the poor, all they have their prayers! And, perhaps, when the splendid slave and he shall go to their accounts together, the Great Spirit may hear that prayer, though it rise from a poor man and a Catholic.
WILLIAM CONYNGHAM PLUNKET
AMONG those leaders of the Irish bar who were members of the Irish House of Commons, and by their talents and legal acquirements gained high rank at the bar, and afterward seats on the bench, Plunket, as first Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and afterward Lord Chancellor of Ireland, stands in the front rank.
The Rev. Thomas Plunket, his father, was Presbyterian minister of Enniskillen, where William Conyngham Plunket was born, July 1, 1764.
An anecdote is told of him when he was quite young, which is indicative of his logical turn of mind. One day he was taken for a walk by his aunt. He became tired and she carried him in her arms. On the way they met a gentleman who helped her with her burden. On reaching home, his aunt told the child to thank the kind gentle
"Thank him for what?" he inquired.
For his trouble in carrying you home."
"Not I," argued the youth. "T is for you to do that." Pointing to a coal-porter with a bag of coals, Suppose the gentleman carries home the coals, who should thank him but the porter he relieved of the bag."
In 1779 young Plunket entered Dublin University, and in 1782 he joined the Historical Society, in which he soon became conspicuous. He was a frequent visitor to the galleries of the Irish House of Commons, where he listened with delight to the eloquence of Grattan. After five years of college life Plunket entered Lincoln's Inn as a law student, and in 1787 he was called to the bar. In 1790 he gained distinction in an important election case, in which Provost Hutchinson was charged with having unfairly influenced the university election in favor of his son. Two years later he married Miss Catherine M'Causland of Fermanagh, the daughter of an eminent solicitor. In 1797 he received a silk gown, and afterward practiced chiefly in the equity courts.
In 1798 Plunket entered the Irish Parliament for the borough of Charlemount. Through the whole of the struggle on the question of the Union he took a foremost place in opposition to the Government, and his speeches were models of eloquence. In the memorable Union debate of January, 1799, his reply to Lord Castlereagh created a deep impression on his hearers.
During the state trials of 1803 he was engaged as counsel for the Crown, and in this capacity the prosecution of Robert Emmet, the brother of an old friend, became his painful duty. His conduct in this case was immediately assailed with showers of abuse. Cobbett
published a libelous account of the transaction; Plunket sued and obtained £500 ($2,500) damages, completely clearing his character at the same time. Some months later he accepted the post of Solicitor-General. In 1805, during Pitt's administration, he became Attorney-General; but when, under the administration of Lords Grenville and Howick, the Attorney-Generalship had assumed a Parlimentary and party character, he did not hesitate to resign it, and followed his leader into fifteen years' exile from power. In 1807 he was elected Member for Midhurst; but a dissolution took place soon after, and he did not offer himself for re-election.
In 1812, by the death of his brother, Dr. Patrick Plunket, he acquired fortune of £60,000 ($300,000). In the same year he again entered Parliament as member for Trinity College, and began to take an active part in the business of the House. In February Grattan moved for a committee to inquire into the laws affecting the Roman Catholics, and Plunket strenuously supported him. The speech he made on the occasion was a memorable one, every speaker who followed on either side referring to it with admiration. Before long he had become a power in the House and spoke on all important occasions. In 1821, on the Catholic question being again brought forward, he delivered another of his telling speeches.
In 1821 Plunket again became Attorney-General. In 1825 he supported the bill for putting down the Catholic Association, although he still strenuously supported the claims of the Catholics. In 1827 he was appointed Master of the Rolls in England; but on learning the objection of the English bar to an Irish lawyer being nominated to such an office, he resigned it in a few days. As compensation he was created Chief Justice of Common Pleas in Ireland and also made a peer of the United Kingdom under the title of Baron Plunket of Newton in the county of Cork.
Plunket was the constant and faithful adviser of the Duke of Wellington during the passage of the Roman Catholic Emancipation bill. In 1830 he became Lord Chancellor of Ireland and from 1830 to 1840 his influence with Government was very considerable, his advice being taken on all Irish affairs. In 1841, while Lord Melbourne was in office, it was intimated to Lord Plunket that it would be desirable he should resign his office, to make way for Sir John Campbell, the English Attorney-General. This after some correspondence he reluctantly consented to do and delivered up his seals. For several years Lord Plunket possessed the full exercise of brilliant intellect, and spent some time abroad, especially in Rome, which he greatly enjoyed. On his return home he settled down to the enjoyment of a calm and lengthened autumn of life, and died at Old Connaught, near Bray, Jan. 4, 1854.
Lord Plunket's Speeches at the Bar and in the Senate' have been published in one volume, with a memoir and historical notices by Mr. John Cashel Hoey; and 'The Life, Letters, and Speeches of Lord Plunket,' by his grandson, the Hon. David Plunket, appeared in two volumes, London, 1867.