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lawyer also, and a senior fellow, took an active part. He published several satirical squibs in the Hibernian Journal; and, not content with writing, he also assailed the new provost with rough and homely language, which was probably more true than courteous. On these assaults of the tongue, the provost, it is said, looked down with that contempt which is equally available on any side of any cause, and the best weapon when the case affords no better. Some of his partisans and friends were, however, less moderate, and the Doctor was not suffered to escape affronts and indignities, which he met and parried with a degree of humour and dexterity, which must afford material for a more detailed account than we could conveniently add to this memoir, and shall therefore reserve for our notice of the Doctor himself.
We shall only here add on the subject that Hutchinson retained the provostship during his life. The disgraceful project of the gymnasium was of course relinquished, and it is to be presumed that the real talents and learning of a very able man gradually recommended him to the members of the board.
He also continued to sit in the house of commons as member for the city of Cork. As a member of the legislature, it may be mentioned to his praise, that he took a prominent part in favour of the octennial bill, the address in favour of free trade, and the bill for the repeal of the penal laws affecting the members of the Church of Rome.
His death occurred in 1795. He was offered a peerage, and accepted the honour for his family in the person of his wife, who was created baroness Donoughmore. Hence the origin of this title in the peerage.
BARRY YELVERTON was born at Newmarket, in the county of Cork. He was sent early to the village-school of that town,-a school of that order so well known in Ireland, and perhaps nowhere else: the reader will find, or may recollect, its description in Mr Carleton's “ Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry.” At these schools an extensive and accurate acquaintance with Greek and Latin authors, and a still more thorough intimacy with the mathematical sciences, as then known in these kingdoms, were commonly to be met with in the rudest hovel, and under the most uncouth guise of dress, manner, and diction. At such schools, and from such instructors, it might be expected now and then to happen, that native genius might find its upward impulse, and rise into the notice and advantages of a higher level. Such was the fortune of two eminent Irishmen, who nearly at the same period* received their first education in the village-school of Newmarket. Yelverton, some years older than Curran, preceded him also in the school; and some of the biographers of the former have noticed the curiously paralleled circumstances of their early history.
* There is a difference of twelve years.
Among other curious anecdotes respecting the early years of Yelverton, it is told that he had obtained the situation of usher in a school kept by a Mr Buck in North King-street, Dublin. Mrs Buck was an enlightened economist, and conceived the profound improvement of a very considerable saving in her domestic expenditure, by reducing the diet of the ushers to bread and milk-the wholesome and substantial fare of schoolboys in all generations. The lady's theory was accordingly put in actual operation; and Yelverton, who was head usher, feeling his pride nettled by a change no less ungrateful to his stomach than derogatory to his station, came to the bold resolution of seeking his fortune in a higher and more worthy field. Without delay he quitted the King-street academy, and by strenuous exertions, of which we deeply regret that we have no particular account to offer, he was called to the bar in 1764.
At the bar he was unquestionably placed in his proper element; but, as commonly happens, he continued for some years to walk the courts without making any progress in his profession. He, nevertheless, attracted that general notice which talents can seldom fail to meet in a circle so observant and informed as the Irish bar. Great colloquial talents are, of all others, the most unlikely to lie concealed, and these Yelverton eminently possessed. It was a time when party feeling was just beginning to rise in Ireland, and when the great importance of such powers as he was known to possess began to be strongly felt; and, in 1774, he was elected to represent the city of Carrickfergus in the Irish house of commons. His general character as an orator and politician are drawn with distinctness and force, and perhaps as much accuracy as may reasonably be looked for in such portraitures, by Barrington. He is described as, in their several descriptions of eloquence, inferior respectively to Flood, Grattan, Burgh, and Curran, but, in the command of “powerful, nervous language, superior to them all. A vigorous, commanding, undaunted eloquence burst in torrents from his lips," &c. Mr Barrington goes on to describe the moral features of his disposition; and, among other traits, mentions that “in the common transactions of the world he was an infant.” From the entire of this portion of Mr Barrington's description, it is to be inferred that he was a man of extreme simplicity and singleness of character, with the virtues and failings not unusually attendant on such a character, and of warm passions and sensibilities, which heightened and gave an active effect to such qualities. With a spirit which moved free from the numberless fine checks and disguises by which the selfishness and inhumanity of the crowd are commonly repressed and masked, he was equally insensible to the multiform refined conventions which are dependent on the same principle, which grow up as instincts in the vulgar mind, and regulate, more or less, the intercourse and conversation of the world. Such a man will often be observed to err on both sides of the common track, now falling into strange and grotesque deviations, and now towering in the dignity of native goodness; and, being more regulated by feeling than by principle, will also be seen to diverge where reason and rule must be looked to exclusively, or nobly leading the way when impulse and good feeling are called into operation, and constitute the elements of action. This is, however, a generalization; to what precise extent it may be truly applied to Yelverton we cannot pretend to say: Barrington tells us that he was, “in the varieties of right and wrong, of propriety and error, a frail mortal;' and on this we but offer a construction derived from observation and experience. We are further informed in the same sentence that he was, “ in the senate and at the bar a mighty giant; it was on the bench that, unconscious of his errors, and in his home that, unconscious of virtues, both were most conspicuous." Much of Mr Barrington's sketching we can but imperfectly comprehend. There was in his day a laboured and ambitious flow of broken and antithetical sentences, which tempted writers into the language of fine distinctions beyond the line of precise meaning. We can, nevertheless, infer from a very uncommon confusion of words, that Yelverton was profusely generous without the reserve of prudence, and the character may be completed by the following touches which fall in well with the foregoing description:-“ His character was entirely transparent, it had no opaque qualities—his passions were open-his prepossessions palpable-his failings obvious—and he took as little pains to conceal his faults as to publish his perfections.” To this, as we can, indeed, do nothing more, we may add the following account of his legal and judicial character from the same authority:-“ Amply qualified for the bench by profound legal and constitutional learning-extensive professional practice-strong logical powers -a classical and wide ranging capacity-equitable propensities, and a philanthropic disposition-he possessed all the positive qualifications for a great judge.” In counterbalance to these characteristics, we are told that he “received impressions too soon, and perhaps too strongly; he was indolent in research, and impatient in discussion,” &c. Every one will recollect the well-known relation of an amusing instance, in which Mr Curran practised with considerable effect on this temper of mind.
We have already given some account of the monks of St Patrick, otherwise called “ Monks of the Screw”-a political and convivial society, from which may be traced the first dawnings of that spirit which afterwards gave so much energy and talent to the political struggles of Ireland in the last century. This body was formed by the subject of this memoir, in 1779-it comprised all that was distinguished for wit and talent at the time. The place of their meeting was in Kevin street; and, consisting chiefly of barristers and members of parliament, they were accustomed to meet in term time on Saturdays. In these meetings they seem to have kept up, in some measure, a travestied imitation of certain conventual formalities—the chapter at which the abbot presided, and at which the members wore black robes, was held before commons : a grave deportment gave poignancy to the sallies of occasional but still not intemperate humour, for which it offered materials and a decorous mask. From the members are said to have emanated most of the literary political productions which obtained decided effect in the great popular struggle which followed. Among the most eminent members, besides the founder, were Curran, Day (senior fellow), Arthur Browne (the fellow), Burgh, earl of Charlemont, Corry, Daly, Day (the judge), Doyle (afterwards major-general and a baro
net), Grattan, earl of Mornington, G. Ogle, Ponsonby, Sir Michael Smith, Stack (fellow), marquis of Townshend, Arthur Wolfe (lord Kilwarden). These we select, not as the highest in rank, but as best known to the reader, from upwards of fifty-eight, all men of high repute in their generation. The society lasted until 1795. We shall hereafter give other curious details. But it is here that we may most fitly mention an incident connected with the recollections of the institution, which may be in some degree considered illustrative, both of the character of the meeting, and of the distinguished subject of this notice. In a trial, on which lord Avonmore sat as judge, Mr Curran was one of the counsel for the defendant: there had for some time previous existed a coldness between these eminent men. On this trial Mr Curran took occasion to appeal to the sensibility of his old friend, in the following allusion to the meetings of the club:-“ This soothing hope I draw from the dearest and tenderest recollections of my life-from the remembrance of those attic heights and those refections of the gods, which we have spent with those admired, and respected, and beloved companions who have gone before us; over whose ashes the most precious tears of Ireland have been shed. [Here lord Avonmore could not refrain from bursting into tears.] Yes, my good lord, I see you do not forget them. I see their sacred forms passing in sad review before your memory. I see your pained and softened fancy recalling those happy meetings, where the innocent enjoyment of social mirth became expanded into the nobler warmth of social virtue, and the horizon of the board became enlarged into the horizon of manwhere the swelling heart conceived and communicated the pure and generous purposewhere my slenderer and younger taper imbibed its borrowed light from the more matured and redundant fountain of yours. Yes, my lord, we can remember those nights without any other regret than that they can never more return; for .
“ We spent them not in toys, or lust, or wine,
But search of deep philosophy,
Arts which I loved ; for they, my friend, were thine.” The sequel to this incident is truly and affectingly characteristicit had the effect of reconciling these two distinguished men. “At the moment the court rose, his lordship sent for his friend, and threw himself into his arms, declaring that unworthy artifices had been used to separate them, and that they should never succeed in future.”*
While yet a member of the house of commons he took an active, and effectual part in the struggle for the trade and legislative independence of his country. But he had also the rare wisdom to see where to stop, and to mark the point where a popular revolution has gone to the utmost length to which its results can be salutary, and at which a violent reaction or the dissolution of society must be the next steps: a wisdom more wanting in Ireland than elsewhere, not so much, indeed, from any defect in the moral constitution of our people—though to this, too, some effect is due-as to the peculiar position of Ireland; which we have already, more than once, endeavoured to explain. At
* Life of J. P. Curran, by his son, W. HI. Curran.