14 MAY 1932, Page 19

Portrait of an Irishman

An Incorruptible Irishman. Being an Account of Chief Justice Charles Kendal Bushe and of his wife, Nancy Crampton' and their times 1767-1893. By E.

The Bushe family came from Somerset to Kilkenny in Cromwellian times, and added to itself a genuine Irish strain by intermarriage with the Doyles of Wicklow.

"There is a later story of the Doyles that has been told to mo by a great-granddaughter of that strangely well-mated couple. Charles and Elizabeth. It happened that she and a sister were walking in Kilkenny about a hundred years later than Catherine Doyle's entrance into the Bushe family. In one of the narrow streets of the ancient city they were stopped by a nearly equally ancient woman, who stood and stared at them, and then snatehed

at their howls and kissed them rapturously, and cried : ' love every bone in your bodies for ye having the Doyle blood in ye !

The father of Charles Kendal Bustle was as amiable and ii "- practical as the Vicar of Wakefield. As a young barrister Charles undertook to pay the debts of his father —a gestur.: characteristic of the man.

At a festive ball in gay, Georgian Dublin, in one of thow stately drawing-rooms which had panelled walls, Angelica Kaufmann ceilings and costly Italian mantelpieces, he first met his future wife. She was dressed in a rose-coloured gown that " matched the bloom upon her cheek," as we learn front a faded letter : " She carried a large feather fan, and Egad ! she underslood the deft use of that weapon of defence I Nan bad a lovely slender figure in her youth, and the prettiest ringlets imaginable. I watehed her dance a minuet, and I can assure you from that moment I was her slave! The dainty pose of her head enraptured me: I begged the favour of an introduction from my hostess. Truly, in those days Nan had all the arts of fascination, and I was led a pretiy dance, my patience sorely tried, before I eould thrust that fan aside and claim her as toy own ! She held me in suspense for many weeks, hanging bet s OM Yea and No, after the usual praetice of elegant females. I had my way to make, and even when sly Nan had yielded to my protestations, I had still to eelepel her relatives to look with favour on my suit."

She proved a loyal helpmate and a shrewd adviser at a litee when the Irish Bar was filled with brilliant, eccentric duellists and hot-tempered wits. Dublin society danced, drank, duelled, though rebellion and dragonnades desolated the countryside. The Duke of Rutland led the rout :

" Ho showered Knighthoods around with a lavish, hand, it is told of him that one evening having, in his cups, knighted a jolly innkeeper at Kilbeggan, named Cuffs, he repented in the ealin reaction of the following day. He sent for the innkeeper and told him that, as the whole affair wets joke, the sooner it was forgo: t. the better. I should be well placed to obleedge your Exeellimey.' replied the Knight, but I unfortunately mentioned the matter to Leedy Cuffe, and she would part with her life before she'd pit, it up.' " Miss Somerville gives us a forcible picture of the misery of the common people, of abortive revolts and reprisals. But Anglo-Irish society danced, drank, made epigrams, while Castlereagh, still a young num, worked for the end of the Irish Parliament. A peerage, a lesser title, fifteen thousand pounds for a vote—the members for rotten boroughs openly pocketed their bribes ; they danced, drank and diced them- selves into the Union with Great Britain. Miss Somerville recounts the oft-told scene of that last debate when Grattan, already a dying man, made his last plea for legislative freedom in College Green. Charles Kendal Bushe Was one of the few who, scorning bribe or preferment, refused to sell his honour and won for himself the worthy name of " incorruptible."

Even the merrily ridiculous Castle Rackreal of Maria Edgeworth, the friend of the Bushes, fades from mind When we come to the chartning idyll of Kilmurry House. The ancestral mansion was set in " a warns and comfortable county, of wide, rich pastures, and wooded demesnes and stately houses, with a big blue river running swift and strong through its heart—the River None, that has salmon to be caught in it which match the river in speed and strength." Long before he had won by his industry and talent the highest legal position in Ireland, Charles Kendal Bushe had dreamt of returning to Kihnurry. Once more it was the practical Nancy who came to the rescue when he found that the price was beyond his means : " They bad been married twenty-one years, and ever sinm. the fees had begun to come in he had found his greatest pleasnh• flinging the money into her lap, saying Buy jewels!' Now, Hite left him standing at the window, and ran upstairs, and hurried down the long corridor to her room. %Wien the returned to Cl,,, library she had her bank book in her hand. 'Look, Charles,' she said, 'I didn't buy jewels. Have we enough When in years to come, Nancy told the story, she used to say that this was the happiest day of her life. I daresay she spoke the truth."

There is whimsicality and charm in this story, and we feel as if a Victorian domestic idyll had been set in the rank and blatant Georgian era. This witty and wise book shows us what historical biography can be at its best, and the quaint black-and-white illustrations by one of Charles Bushes

daughters, rescued front the past, are charming additions to an attractively produced volume.