« ZurückWeiter »
author makes it chicfly on the authority of the Moslems; who, lowever, give him no evidence as to their means of knowledge. Neither does our author himself give us any collateral proof whatever, that any of these sacrifices took place; with the single exception of the following, which might have related to other victims as well as humán. On the next day he was sent for to the palace, and he says,
“On receiving the king's hand, which he presented with the utmost affability, I noticed a streak of dried blood upon his forehead; and this token appeared to be universal, as well among officers of distinction as their slaves and retainers. It denoted their participation in the late sacrifices. The royal death-stool, clotted with the still reeking gore of its victiins, stood on one side of the king, under care of the captain executioner, who attended with his band of assistants. At the feet of the sovereign stood a small firepot, and a trunk fitted up with a compound' medley of relics and charms soaking in blood."
Now all this is horrible enough, no doubt;-but all this blood may have been other than human; and we have no absolute proof as to its origin. In fact, we are of opinion that these stories of human sacrifices, which were related to our somewhat credulous envoy the Moslems exclusively, were greatly exaggerated. But however this may have been, we cannot much wonder that our author, who believed every word of what was told him on this head, was in no mood to make any permanent stay in the purlieus of the human slaughter-house, which he describes the “ royal palace" to have been. Accordingly, shortly after having experienced one of those stormy conferences which are probably not uncommon among savage statesmen, since supercivilized ones are but too apt to be occasionally betrayed into them, our author adds with infinite naïveté :
“I assured the king, I was convinced of bis friendly disposition; but as he chose to oppose a settlement of the palaver with the natives,” (with not one word of which had Mr. Dupuis any direct concern,), “it was not clear to me, that my duty warranted a longer stay in the capital; and therefore I was“ necessitated io insist upon having a day appointed for my departure."
It seems that this demand was exceedingly obnoxious to the good king; However, the author shortly after' was permitted to return to Cape Coast, and thence speedily embarked for England.
We are not able to allow any more space to this highly interesting and curious volume. The latter half of which (for all that we have hitherto referred to is comprised in the first ball) consists of various interesting details connected with the journey home-the reception at Cape Coast of the ambassadors sent by his Ashantee majesty tờ the King of England, --which, however, Sir George Collier (the admiral on the coast) very imaccountably refused to forward-thé after correspondence between Mr. Dupuis and his friends relative to Ashantee politics-the subsequent fatal events which took place on Sir Charles Mac Carthy's penetrating the interior to meet the Ashantee troops :and finally, a long chapter of historical memoirs of Ashantee, and another on the geography of western Africa, as collected from the resources of the Moslem travellers whom the author' met at Ashantee. The book has also many plates, from drawings made on the spot by Mr. Dupuis.
SKETCHES OF THE IRISH BAR.--No. 1X.
Mr. North. I look upon Mr. North to be in several respects a very interesting person. He is immediately so by the great respectability of his character and talents. He is at the same time a subject that less directly invites the attention and speculation of an observer, in consequence of certain predicaments of situation and feeling upon which his lot has cast him, and in diseussing which the mind must of necessity ascend from the qualities and the fortunes of the individual to considerations of a higher and more lasting concern. If I were to treat of him solely as a practising barrister possessed of certain legal attributes, and having reached a determined station, the task would be short and simple. But this would be unjust. Mr. North's mind and acquirements, and, it may be added, his personal history, entitle him to a more extended notice, and, in some points of view, to greater commendation, not unmingled, however, with occasional regrets, than his merely forensic career would claim.
It is now about fifteen years since Mr. North was called to the Irish Bar. He was called, not merely by the bench of legal elders performing the technical ceremony of investment, but by the unanimous voices of a host of admiring friends, so numerous as to be in themselves a little public, who fondly predicted that his career would form a new and brilliant era in the annals of Irish oratory. This feeling was not an absurd and groundless partiality. There was, in truth, no previous instance of a young man making his entry into the Four-Courts under circumstances so imposing and prophetic of a high destination. He had already earned the fame of being destined to be famous. In his college course he had outstripped every competitor. He there obtained an optime—an attestation of rare occurrence, and to be extorted only by merit of the highest order in all of the several classical and scientific departments, upon which the intellect of the student is made to sustain
a public scrutiny into the extent of its powers and attain. ments. The Historical Society was not yet suppressed. Mr. North was accounted its most shining ornament. It was an established custom that each of its periodical sessions should be closed by a parting address from the chair, reviewing and commending the objects of the institution. The task, as a mark of honour, was assigned to Mr. North. · It was the last of his academic efforts, and is still referred to by those who heard him, as a rare and felicitous example of youthful enthusiasm for eloquence and letters, soaring above the commonplaces of panegyric, and dignifying its raptures by the most luminous views, and by illustrations drawn from the resources of a pure and lofty imagination. It was pronounced to be a masterpiece, and the author urged to extend the circle of his admirers by consenting to its publication. But he had the modesty or the discretion to refuse; and the public were deprived of a composition which, whatever might be its other merits, would at least have told as a glowing satire upon the miserable, monastic spirit that soon after abolished the Historical Society as a perilous innovation upon the primitive objects of the royal foundress of Trinity College. It is edifying to add, that John Locke's Treatise on Government was also pronounced to inspire doctrines that VOL. XI. NO. XLVII.
would have met no countenance " in the golden days of good Queen Bess ;" and as such was expelled from the college course. These judicious curtailments mark the presiding genius of Provost (now Bishop) Elrington. The goodly consequences will doubtless appear in the minds and conduct of the rising generation ; and should any of them, by some strange perversity, turn aside from the contemplation of triangles and the all-important rules of prosody, to indulge in a forbidden sentiment of patriotic ardour, or to try by the test of their own unruly understandings the merits of governments and colleges, and even of bishops, the venerable personage in question is not to be held responsible for such a fatal misappropriation of the human faculties. Well and truly may he exclaim,
“ Thou canst not say I did it.” Mr. North's talents for public speaking were further exercised, and with increasing reputation, in the 'Academical Society of London. The impression that he made there attracted numerous visitors. He had now to stand the brunt of an audience little predisposed to be fascinated by provincial declamation. But the severest judges of Irish oratory admitted that his was copious, brilliant, and, best of all, cor
He was pronounced by some to be fitted for the highest purposes of the senate. It was even whispered that a ministerial member (a fortunate emigrant from Ireland, who had lately proved his capacity for less delicate commissions,) had been secretly deputed from Downing-street to “ look in” at the academies and report upon the expediency of tendering a borough and a place to the youthful orator, But whether it was that the honourable and learned missionary had no taste for a style of eloquence above his own; or that he missed that native audacity which he could so well appreciate; or that he had the shrewdness to infer, from certain popular tendencies in the speaker's cast of thought, that he might turn out not to be a marketable man, the experiment upon Mr. North's virgin ambition, if ever meditated, was not exposed to the risk of failure. The murmur, however, ran that such a proposal had been in agitation. Mr. North's growing celebrity had all the benefit of the rumour; and when he shortly after appeared in the Irish Hall, he was considered to have perched upon that bleak and arid waste as upon a mere place of passage, whence, at the expected season of transmigration, he was to wing his flight to a brighter and more congenial clime. This latter event, however, contrary to the calculations and wishes of all who knew him, was for years
delayed. It is only the other day that Mr. North has at length been summoned to the senate. In the interval, his progress at the Bar, however flattering it might be to a person of ordinary pretensions, has not realised the auspicious anticipations under which his coming was announced. Wherever he has been tried, he has proved his legal competency. In some of the qualifications for professional eminence, and, among them, those in which a proud but unambitious man would most desire to excel -in a sound and comprehensive knowledge of general principles, and a facility of developing them in lucid and imposing language, he need not shrink from a comparison with a single contemporary rival. In others, and especially in the rarer and higher art of kindling and controlling the passions of an auditory, he has not hitherto answered to the prophetic hopes by which he was “set like a man divine above them all ;"
while in respect of that extra-forensic and general importance which a person so gifted might, it was imagined, so rapidly attain, he has been altogether stationary. When he first appeared to public view, he lighted upon a pedestal, and the pedestal and the statue remain where they were. The question is often asked by others, (and I doubt not by himself,) " How has this come to pass ?” It is one involving matters of general interest to all who embark in public life ; and I shall endeavour, as I proceed, to offer a few such incidental hints, as, when collected, may supply a satisfactory answer.
The early admirers of this accomplished young man were fully warranted at the time in their praises and predictions. His mind was one of rapid growth, and put forth in its first-fruits the same qualities, both in kind and degree, which are the subject of just admiration at the present day. His intellect is singularly sound and clear. For the acquirement of knowledge, it may be said to be nearly perfect. It is vigorous, cautious, and comprehensive. The power of attention, that master-key to science, is under his absolute control. Whatever is capable of demonstration is within his grasp. Give him any system to explore, and no matter how intricate the paths, wherever a discoverer has gone before, he will be sure to follow in his track, His understanding, in a word, is eminently docile; at least so I would infer from the early extent and rapidity of his scientific attainments, and from the habits of order and perspicacity with which he has mastered the less manageable dogmas of our national jurisprudence.
In the power of imparting what he has thus acquired, Mr. North has also much that is uncommon, One qualification of a speaker he possesses in an extraordinary degree. For extemporaneous correctness and copiousness of phrase, I would place him in the very highest rank. All that he utters, wherever the occasion justifies the excitement of his faculties, might be safely printed without revision. Period after period rolls on, stately, measured, and complete. There is a paternal solicitude-perhaps a slight tinge of aristocratic pride, in his determination that the children of his fancy should appear abroad in no vulgar garb. He is not like O'Connell, who, with the improvidence of his country, has no compunction in flinging a brood of robust young thoughts upon the world without a rag to cover them. Mr. North’s are all tastefully and comfortably clad. But this extraordinary care is unmarked by any laborious effort. In the article of stores of diction, his mind is evidently in affluent circumstances, and betrays no lurking apprehension that the demands upon it may exceed his resources.
There are no ostentatious bursts of unwonted expenditure to keep up the reputation of his solvency. Sentence after sentence is disbursed with the familiar air of unconcern which marks the possessor of the amplest funds.
With qualifications such as these, unequivocally manifested at a very early age, and aided by a graceful and imposing manner and a personal character which stamped a credit upon all he uttered, and these natural excellencies stimulated by a generous ambition to answer the general call that was made upon him to be a foremost man in his day, it was naturally to be anticipated that Mr. North would do great things ; but his endowments, however rare, have been greatly marred, as to all the purposes of his fame, by a radical defect of temperament, to the chilling influence of which I can trace the failure of the splendid hopes may be
that attended his entrance upon public life. Mr. North has abundant strength of intellect, but he has not equal energy of will. His mind wants boldness and determination of character. It wants that hardihood of purpose and contempt of consequences, without which nothing great in thought or action can be accomplished. He is trammelled by a fastidious taste, and by a disastrous deference to every petty opinion that
pronounced upon him. He sacrifices his fame to his dignity. Fame, he should have remembered, is like other fair ladies, and faint heart never won her. Like the rest, she must be warmly and importunately wooed. He shrinks, however, from the notion of committing himself as her suitor, except upon a classical occasion. I have been often asked “ if I considered Mr. North to be a man of genius?” My answer has been, “ he would be, if he dared.” If it were possible to transfuse into his system a few quarts of that impetuous Irish blood which revels in O'Connell's veins--if he could be brought to bestir himself and burst asunder the conventional fetters that enchain his
spirit, he has many of the other qualities that would entitle him to that • envied appellation. But as it is, his powers are enthralled in a state of
magnetic suspension between the conflicting influences of his ambition and his apprehensions. With all the desire in the world to be an eminent man, and conscious that the elements of greatness are within him, ‘one of its most necessary attributes he still is without-a sentiment of masculine self-reliance, and along with it a calm and settled disdain for the approbation of little friends, and the censure of little enemies, and the murmurs of the tea-table, and the mock-heroic gravity with which mediocrity is ever sure to frown upon a style of language or conduct above its comprehension. Hence it is, that he has never yet redeemed the pledges of his youth. In his public displays, which, from the same scrupulous taste, have been far more unfrequent than they ought, he has been copious, graceful, instructive, and in general almost faultless to a fault. But the lofty spirit of heroic oratory was wanting-"there was no pride nor passion there.” He is so afraid of “ tearing a passion to tatters,” he'll scarcely venture to touch it. Hedistrusts even light from heaven for fear it should lead astray. I am far from attributing these deficiencies to
inherent incapacity of lofty emotions in Mr. North; I should rather say that he has been in some sort the spoiled child of premature renown. The applause that followed his first attempts taught him too soon to propose himself as a model to himself, and to shudder at the danger of degenerating from that ideal standard. He spe'culated" too curiously” upon how much character he might lose, without considering how much more might yet be gained. In this respect he arrived too soon at his years of discretion. His mind seems also to have early imbibed an undue predilection for the mere elegancies of life, and for external circumstances as connected with them. In spite of his better opinions on the subject of human rights, I am not sure that his heart would not beat as high and quick at the pageantry of a coronation, as at the demolition of a bastille. In matters of literature, too, I would almost venture to say that what in secret delights him most, is not the bold, impassioned, and agitating, but the gentle and diffuse : that he likes not the shock of those tempests of thought that purify the mental atmosphere, chasing away the collected clouds, and tearing up · our sturdiest prejudices by the roots, but rather prefers to repose his