« AnteriorContinuar »
At half-past five next day, I was as punctual to the time as a man not much accustomed for some years to great society is, but it was six before the company all arrived. Eleven of us, all gentlemen, sat down to a sumptuous table, which in four courses exhibited the variety of the season, and the taste of our host. We had rich soup and fish excellent mutton, fowl, tongue, and patties--pies, tarts, jellies—grapes, oranges, apples, &c.--champagne, hock, sherry, madeira, port, and claret, so capital in every respect that you might drink till you were drowned, and feel no pang in dying. Then the conversation was of course all about books, philosophy, and divinity ; love and poetry to be sure came in for a share, and Moore, though absent, was made to contribute to harmony. We had three reverend gentlemen, whose faces indicated that abstraction which literature impresses on the aspect of her votaries; and several names, I believe, who have contributed to enlighten the age; besides a rattling young Templar, who, to my great satisfaction, left me not an opening to get in a word; so that I enjoyed that unmarked taciturnity for which I am reproachable, till familiarity wears
in large parties. The way to please some is to let them talk themselves into good humour, and in the course of the evening, my learned fr called me a devilish good fellow, which must have been on account of
silence. Several toasts were given, all highly honourable to the head and heart of our justly-esteemed president and croupier. At length I was aroused to a thought respecting myself, by hearing the warmsouled publisher introduce a panegyric on Ireland, coupled with so humble an individual as I consider Jack Malony.
My friends," said he, in a far more elegant and animated strain than I can reach, without a bottle of sparkling champagne to brighten my
intellect as it had done his—" you have honoured me this evening by drinking several bumper toasts. I call upon you again to fill up to the brim, and join me in pledging a gentleman present, who belongs to a sister country, the Emerald Isle, whose natural beauty, and great fertility of talent and genius, have long commanded our most affectionate admiration, and unqualified esteem. Be it perpetual !-I shall not trespass further upon you, by a faint attempt
to impart the heart-felt regard I feel for that country. Permit me to propose the health of Captain Malony, and to wish that the happiness and prosperity of Ireland may have progressive increase."
If I had been struck blind, I could not have been more surprised by darkness, than my ear was by these sounds. I had never contemplated such a circumstance as being thus noticed, and called upon to display my powers of speech. Surprise for a moment seemed to annihilate my faculties. In the rapidity of thought, how I blamed myself for not foreseeing this event, and having a few flowers of oratory planted in my memory to meet the occasion ! Yet I must say somewhat. Indeed, to gain time, I had muttered a sentence about Ireland only requiring the capital of England to make her truly what our president had wished; but the
young Templar upset me by asking—“ What, would
you have all our capital ?" and pushing out his mouth to a formidable extent towards me, by way of negative. “ Hear Captain Malony !" said the croupier, in an accent that induced me to put him down for a Scotchman, which I had suspected before. This absolutely forced me to begin ; so, filling my glass, I rose, and bowing with respect, which I deeply felt, I said:
“ Mr. President, and gentlemen! I am deeply penetrated with gratitude by the honour you have done me in drinking my health ; and more particularly so, hy the flattering manner in which you have eulogized my native land. Permit me to return, from the bottom of my heart, sincere thanks to you all, and to drink the health of each and
every one; wishing long continued glory to Old England, and that the rose, the thistle, and the shamrock may for ever be united, happy, and free.”
This poor return was most kindly clapped, and I sat down, rejoiced that I had not made a dead stop in the middle of my speech, and seemed as though without an idea; which temporary suspension of memory and thought is often seen and felt, when superaction produces the same effect as repletion, and steals away the brains. If I had been cool and collected, what a fine flourishing speech I might have made! I could have commenced with an apology about my being unaccustomed to public speaking—informed the party how
I had been taken by surprise at the most unexpected honour conferred on an individual so bumble, by gentlemen so distinguished—regretted my not being prepared to thank them in language sufficiently energetic—begged them to receive the offering of my heart, instead of the overflowings of my tongue-entered largely into the political state of Ireland ---accounted for the same-reprobated party spirit-condemned the proceedings of the Catholic Association--displayed my own liberality as an advocate for emancipationquoted Adam Smith on the Wealth of Nationsenriched my speech with extracts from Paley— astonished them by my acquaintance with the poets—surprised them with illustrations from Virgil, Horace, and Homer, and confounded them by my zeal as a patriot ;---ending, of course, with a long peroration, amplification, refutation, confutation, recapitulation, and all the other ations to eternalization; these and so forth being modestly expressed! O Lord ! O Lord! what opportunities we miss in this life!-" There is a tide," &c. Shakspeare, hem!
In short, I spent a most delightfully exhilarating