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" being somewhat of an actor," was invited to live in the house, and bear a part in the representations. The perilous familiarity of rehearsals, fainting scenes, &c. followed; and, "having an imagination easily warmed, without one grain of discretion to regulate it," he in due course fell desperately in love. We pass over the details, though there is nothing in them which would not bear to be published. He was miserable for two years, when an accidental dispute with the lady's husband separated him from her, and he never saw her more.
"But," he says, concluding this passage of his life, if I suffered, as I did most severely by this unfortunate passion, I also reaped some benefit from it. The desire to render myself agreeable to a woman of elegant manners and a mind highly cultivated, induced me to attend to a thousand little things, and to endeavour to polish myself to a certain degree, so that, after the first transport of rage and grief at her loss had subsided, I considered myself on the whole as considerably improved; and as no human passion is proof against time and absence, in a few months I recovered my tranquillity."
A more permanent attachment quickly succeeded. The following is his brief, but characteristic account of his courtship and marriage.
"At length, about the beginning of year 1785, I became acquainted with my wife. She was the daughter of William Witherington, and lived at that time in Grafton-street, in the house of her grandfather, a rich old clergyman of the name of Fanning. I was then a scholar of the house in the University, and every day after commons I used to walk under the windows with one or two of my fellow-students. I soon became passionately fond of her, and she also was struck with me, though certainly my appearance neither then (nor now) was much in my favour. So it was, however, that before we had ever spoken to each other, a mutual affection had commenced between us. She was at this time not sixteen years of age, and as beautiful as an angel. She had a brother some years older than herself. As it was necessary for my admission to the family that I should be first acquainted with him, I soon contrived to be introduced to him; and as he played well on the violin, and as I was myself a musical man, we soon grew intimate, the more so, as it may be well supposed I neglected no fair means to recommend myself to him and the rest of the family with whom I soon grew a favourite. My affairs now advanced prosperously; my wife and I grew more passionately fond of each other, and in a short time I proposed to her to marry me, without asking consent of any one, knowing well it would be in vain to expect it. She accepted the proposal as frankly as it was made, and one beautiful morning in the month of July we ran off together and were married. I carried her out of town to Maynooth for a few days; and when the first eclat of passion had subsided, we were forgiven on all sides, and settled in lodgings near my wife's grandfather. I was now for a very short time as happy as possible, in the possession of a beautiful creature that I adored, and who every hour grew more and more upon my heart. The scheme of a fellowship, which I never relished, was now abandoned; and it was determined that when I had taken my degree of bachelor of arts, I should go to the Temple to study the law, and be called to the Bar. I continued, in consequence, my studies in the University, and obtained my last premium two or three months after I was married. In February 1786 1 commenced Bachelor of Arts, and shortly after I resigned my scholarship, and quitted the University. I may observe here that I made some figure as a scholar, and should have been much more successful if I had not been so inveterately idle,-partly owing to my passion for a military life, and partly to the distraction to which my natural disposition and temperament but too much exposed me. As it was, however, I obtained a scholarship, three premiums and three silver medals from the Historical Society, a most admirable institution, of which I had the honour to be auditor, and also to close the session
with a speech from the chair, the highest compliment which that Society is used to bestow. I look back upon my college days with regret, and I preserve, and ever shall, a most sincere affection for the University of Dublin."
Soon after his marriage, disputes having arisen between him and his wife's relations, he removed to his father's, who resided in the county of Kildare. The midnight rulers of Ireland were then as active, though probably less ferocious than at present. The following account of one of their domiciliary visits, which happened nearly forty years ago, has such, a modern air about it, that one almost fancies one has already read the details in some of the recent despatches from the Rock districts. We extract it, as affording from the comparison of dates an edifying specimen of the stability of crime and danger, with which particular plans of government, heroically persevered in, are ever sure to be rewarded.
"After an interval of a few months, my wife was brought to bed of a girl, a circumstance which, if possible, increased my love for her a thousand-fold; but our tranquillity was again broken in upon by a most terrible event. On the night of the 16th of October 1786, the house was broken open by a gang of robbers, to the number of six, armed with pistols and having their faces blackened. Having tied the whole family, they proceeded to plunder and demolish every article they could find, even to the unprofitable villainy of breaking the china, looking-glasses, &c. At length, after two hours, a maid servant whom they had tied negligently having made her escape, they took the alarm, and fled with precipitation, leaving the house such a scene of horror and confusion, as can hardly be imagined. With regard to myself, it is impossible to conceive what I suffered. As it was early in the night, I happened to be in the court-yard, where I was seized and tied by the gang, who then proceeded to break into the house, leaving a ruffian sentinel over me with a case of pistols cocked in his hand. In this situation I lay for two hours, and could hear distinctly the devastation that was going on within. I expected death every instant, and can safely and with great truth declare, that my apprehension for my wife had so totally absorbed the whole of my mind, that my own existence was just then the least of my concern. When the villains, including my sentry, ran off, I scrambled on my feet with some difficulty, and made my way to a window, where I called, but received no answer. My heart died within me. I proceeded to another, and another, but still no answer. It was horrible. I set myself to gnaw the cords with which I was tied, in a transport of agony and rage; for I verily believed that my whole family lay murdered within, when I was relieved from my unspeakable horror and anguish by my wife's voice, which I heard calling on my name at the end of the house. It seems, as soon as the robbers fled, those within had untied themselves with great difficulty, and made their escape through a back window. They had got a considerable distance from the house, before, in their fright, they recollected me, of whose fate they were utterly ignorant, as I was of theirs. Under these terrible circumstances my wife had the courage to return, alone and in the dark, to find me out, not knowing but she might again fall into the hands of the villains from whom she had scarcely escaped, or that I might be lying a lifeless corpse at the threshold. I can imagine no greater effort of courage; but of what is not a woman capable, for him she truly loves? She cut the cords which bound me, and at length we joined the rest of the family at a little hamlet within half a mile of the house, whither they had fled for shelter. Of all the adventures wherein I have been hitherto engaged, this undoubtedly was the most horrible. It makes me shudder even now to think of it. It was some consolation that none of us sustained any personal injury, except my father, whom one of the villains scored on the side of the head with a knife. They respected the women, whose danger made my only fear; and one of them had even the humanity to carry our little daughter from her cradle, where she lay screaming, and to place
her beside my wife on the bed, wherein she was tied with my mother and sister. This terrible scene, besides infinitely distressing us otherwise by the heavy loss we sustained, and which my father's circumstances could very ill bear, destroyed in a great degree our domestic enjoyments. I slept continually with a case of pistols at my pillow; and a mouse could not stir but I was on my feet and through the house from top to bottom. If any one knocked after night-fall, we flew to our arms; and in this manner we kept a most painful garrison through the winter.”
As soon as the family affairs had in some degree recovered from this disaster, his father supplied him with a small sum of money; and he set off for London, leaving his wife and child under the care of his father, who treated them, during his absence, with great affection. From this period the story increases in personal and general interest.
"I arrived in London in January 1787, and immediately entered my name as a student at law, on the books of the Middle Temple; but this, I may say, was all the progress I ever made in the profession. I had no affection for study in general; but that of the law I particularly disliked, and to this hour I think it an illiberal profession, both in its principles and practice. I was likewise answerable to nobody for my conduct; and in consequence, after the first month I never opened a law-book, nor was 1 ever three times in Westminster Hall in my life. In addition to the reasons I have mentioned, the extreme uncertainty of my circumstances, which kept me in much uneasiness of mind, disabled me totally from that cool and systematic habit of study which is indispensable for attaining a knowledge of a science so abstruse and difficult as that of the English Code. However, one way or another I contrived to make it out. I had chambers in the Temple (No. 4, Hare-court) on the first floor; and whatever difficulties I had otherwise to struggle with, I contrived always to preserve the appearance of a gentleman, and to maintain my rank with my fellow-students, if I can call myself a student. One resource I derived from the exercise of my talents, such as they were: I wrote several articles for the European Magazine, mostly critical reviews of new publications. My reviews were but poor performances enough; however, they were in general as good as those of my brother critics, and in two years I received, I suppose, about fifty pounds for my writings: which was my main object, for as to literary fame, I had then no great ambition to obtain it. I likewise, in conjunction with two of my friends, named Jebb and Radcliffe, wrote a burlesque novel, which we called Belmont Castle, and was intended to ridicule the execrable trash of the circulating libraries. It was tolerably well done, particularly Radcliffe's part, which was by far the best:-yet so it was, that we could not find a bookseller that would risk the printing of it, though we offered the copyright gratis to several. It was afterwards printed in Dublin, and had some success; but I believe, after all, it was most relished by the authors and their immediate connexions.
"At the Temple I became intimate with several young men of situation and respectability, particularly with the Honourable George Knox, son of Lord Northland, with whom I formed a friendship, of which I am as proud as of any circumstance of my life. He is a man of inappreciable merit, and loved to a degree of enthusiasm, by all who have the happiness to know him. I scarcely know any person whose esteem and approbation I covet so much; and I had long after the commencement of our acquaintance, when I was in circumstances of peculiar and trying difficulty, and deserted by many of my former friends, the unspeakable consolation and support of finding George Knox still the same, and preserving his esteem unabated. His steady friendship on that occasion I shall mention in its place-it has made an indelible impression of gratitude and affection on my heart. I likewise renewed an old college acquaintance with John Hall, who by different accessions to his fortune was now at the head of about fourteen thousand a-year. He had
changed his name twice for two estates; first to that of Stevenson, and then Wharton, which is his present name. He was then a member of the British Parliament, and to his friendship I was indebted for the sum of a hundred and fifty pounds at a time when I was under pecuniary difficulties. Another old college friend I recall with sentiments of sincere affection, Benjamin Phillips of Cork. He kept a kind of bachelor's house, with good wine and an excellent collection of books (not law books), all of which were as much at my command as at his. With some oddities, which to me only rendered him more amusing, he had a great fund of information, particularly of political detail; and in his company I spent some of the pleasantest hours which I passed in London. At length, after I had been at the Temple something better than a year, my brother William, who was returned a few months before from his first expedition to St. Helena, joined me, and we lived together in the greatest amity and affection for about nine months, being the remainder of my stay in London. At this distance of time (now eight years) I feel my heart swell at the recollection of the happy hours we spent together. We were often without a guinea; but that never affected our spirits for a moment; and if ever I felt myself depressed by any untoward circumstance, I had a resource and consolation in his his courage, and the invincible gaiety of his disposition, which nothing could ruffle. With the companionable qualities he possessed, it is no wonder he recommended himself to Ben Phillips, so that he was soon, I believe, a greater favourite with him than ever I was. They were inseparable. It fills my mind now with a kind of tender melancholy which is not unpleasing, to recall the many delightful days we three have spent together, and the walks we have taken, sometimes to a review, sometimes to see a ship of war launched, sometimes to visit the Indiamen at Deptford, a favourite expedition with Phillips. William, besides his natural gaiety, had an inexhaustible fund of pure Irish humour. I was pretty well myself, and Phillips, like the landlord of the "Hercules Pillars,' 66 was an excellent third man." In short we made it out together admirably.”
There is simplicity, and to us a good deal of interest, in all this. What follows is more immediately characteristic of the man and his future destiny, exhibiting, in a very striking point of view, that inordinate zeal for action which was so soon to connect his life and death with the public history of his country.
"As I foresaw by this time that I should never be Lord Chancellor, and as my mind was naturally active, a scheme occurred to me, to the maturing of which I devoted some time and study. This was a proposal to the minister to establish a colony in one of Cook's newly-discovered islands in the South Sea on a military plan (for all my ideas ran in that track), in order to put a bridle on Spain in time of peace, and to annoy her grievously in that quarter in time of war. In arranging this system, which I think even now was a good one for England, I read every book I could find relating to South America, as Ulloa, Anson, Dampier, Woodes, Rogers, Narborough, and especially the Buccaneers, who were my heroes, and whom I proposed to myself as the archetypes of the future colonists. Many and many a delightful evening did my brother, Phillips, and I spend in reading, writing, and talking of my project, in which, if it had been adopted, it was our firm resolution to have embarked. At length, when we had reduced it into a regular shape, I drew up a memorial on the subject, which I addressed to Mr. Pitt, and delivered with my own hands to the porter in Downing-street. We waited, I will not say patiently, for about ten days, when I addressed a letter to the minister, mentioning my memorial, and praying an answer; but this application was as unsuccessful as the former. Mr. Pitt took not the smallest notice of either memorial or letter; and all the benefit we reaped from our scheme was the amusement it afforded us during three months, in which it was the subject of our constant speculation. I regret those
delightful reveries which then occupied my mind. It was my first essay in what I may call politics, and my disappointment made such an impression on me as is not yet quite obliterated. In my anger I made something like a vow, that if ever I had an opportunity, I would make Mr. Pitt sorry, and perhaps fortune may yet enable me to fulfill ny resolution. It was about this time that I had a very narrow escape. My affairs were exceedingly embarrassed; and just at a moment when my mind was harassed and sore with my own vexations, I received a letter from my father, filled with complaints, and a description of the ruin of his circumstances. In a transport of rage, I determined to enlist as a soldier in the India Company's service, to quit Europe for ever, and to leave my wife and child to the mercy of her family, who might, I hoped, be perhaps kinder to her when I was removed. My brother combated this desperate resolution by every argument in his power; but at length, when he saw me determined, he declared that I should not go alone, and that he would share my fate to the last extremity. In this gloomy state of mind, deserted as we thought by Gods and men, we set out together for the India House in Leadenhall-street, to offer ourselves as volunteers; but on our arrival there we were informed that the season was past, that no more ships would be sent out that year, but that, if we returned about the month of March following, we might be received. The commis to whom we addressed ourselves seemed not a little surprised at two young fellows of our appearance presenting ourselves on such a business; for we were extremely well dressed, and Will, who was the spokesman for us both, had an admirable address. Thus were we stopped; and I believe we were the single instance, since the beginning of the world, of two men absolutely bent on ruining themselves, who could not find the means. We returned to my chambers, and, desperate as were our fortunes, we could not help laughing at the circumstance that India, the great gulf of all undone beings, should be shut against us alone. Had it been the month of March instead of September, we should most infallibly have gone off; and in that case I should most probably at this hour be carrying a brown musket on the coast of Coromandel. Providence, however, decreed it otherwise, and reserved me, as I hope, for better things."
Having completed his terms at the Temple, he caused an application to be made to his wife's grandfather to learn his intentions as to her fortune. The old gentleman consented to give 500l. and expressed a wish for Tone's immediate return.
In consequence I packed up directly, and set off with my brother for Ireland. We landed in Dublin the 23d December, and on Christmas-day 1788 arrived at my father's house at Blackhall, where I had the satisfaction to find all my family in health, except my wife, who was grown delicate principally from the anxiety of her mind on the uncertainty of her situation. Our little girl was now between two and three years old, and was charming. After remaining a few days at Blackhall, we came up to Dublin, and were received as at first, in Grafton-street, by my wife's family. Mr. Fanning paid me punctually the sum he had promised, and my wife and I flattered ourselves that all past animosities were forgotten. I now took lodgings in Clarendon-street, purchased about a hundred pounds worth of law-books, and determined in earnest to begin and study the profession to which I was doomed. In pursuance of this resolution, I commenced Bachelor of Laws in February 1789, and was called to the Bar in due form the Trinity Term following; shortly after which I went my first (the Leinster) circuit, having been previously elected a member of the law club. On this circuit, notwithstanding my ignorance, I pretty nearly cleared my expenses, and I cannot doubt, if I had continued to apply sedulously to the law, that I might have risen to some eminence; but, whether it was my incorrigible habit of idleness, or the sincere dislike I had to the profession, which the little insight I was beginning to get into it did not tend to remove, or whether it was a controlling