A HUNDRED YEARS AGO
" THE SPECTATOR," JANUARY 20TH, 1838.
The dinner to Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Hutton, on Thursday week, was a splendid affair. The price of tickets was a guinea and-a-half, but five guineas were readily paid for them. Seven hundred gentlemen were at the dinner-table ; and in the boxes and gallery of the Theatre, where the entertainment was given, were about twelve hundred ladies. Lord Charlemont presided. Among the distinguished guests were Lords Fingall, Brabazon, Lismore, Oranmore, Cloncurry, and Roscommon. Mr. O'Connell was of course very " eloquent " ; and we give the commencement of his speech, which was vociferously applauded. To us it appears rather too Irish.
My Lord, nothing can be more idle than to tell me that this is a reality. Oh ! no, no, it cannot be so. (Loud cheers.) I was ill last week, and a dream has come over me-in fine, I have awoke in a fairy land. (Loud cheers.) Why, what beings are those I see before me-fair and beautiful as they are ? (Cheers.) Oh, no ; if it be a reality, it proves what ' youthful poets fancy when they love.' (Cheers.) What ! tell me that Ireland is an impoverished and degraded land ! Oh, men of Ireland, is there amcn.; you an indi- vidual who would have the courage to avow in this assembly that such is the case ? If there be, let him here dare to say it, and I will tell him he rivals the bravery of the bravest, and at the same time he exceeds in depravity the most depraved. (Loud cheers.) My lord, it is impossible but that justice must be done to Ireland. (Loud cheers.) The Scotch poet, looking at the natural beauties of his native land (and I myself have seen with delight and stood upon the mountain of Gault, the object of his admiration) exclaimed-
' Where is the coward who would not dare To fight for such a land ? '
Where is the man so depraved who would consent that justice should not be done to Ireland ? (Loud cheers.) Where is the man amongst you who would for a moment believe that her children are among the degraded, and that she herself is an outcast among the nations ? (Loud cheers.) My Lord, if I am awake, I have been guilty of prolixity. (Loud cheers.) My life to me is a vision in itself. Insig- nificant as I have been-ungifted with talent-merely the son of a private country gentleman, myself possessing nothing which could recommend me to notice-(Loud cries of ' No, no ! ')-I say yes, gentlemen. I came to the bar with means only adequate for my support. I passed in a short time, no doubt, that ordeal which the briefless barrister has to encounter ; it did not last long with me. (Loud cheers.) My country was the object of my dearest solicitude ; indeed in that respect I had one quality, for I never suffered the wrongs done my country to pass in silence. I had a kind of perpetual fever of agitation about me which I could not resist. At one time, no doubt, I was supported but by a very few persons. Oh, my Lord, this is a proud day for Ireland." (Cheers.)