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orders of his commanding officer?"

On the former

of these questions, the effect of Emmet's eloquence upon his young auditors was, I recollect, most striking. The prohibition against touching upon modern politics, which it was subsequently found necessary to enforce, had not yet been introduced; and Emmet, who took of course ardently the side of democracy in the debate, after a brief review of the republics of antiquity, showing how much they had all done for the advancement of science and the arts, proceeded, lastly, to the grand and perilous example, then passing before all eyes, the young Republic of France. Referring to the circumstance told of Cæsar, that, in swimming across the Rubicon, he contrived to carry with him his Commentaries and his sword, the young orator said, "Thus France wades through a sea of storm and blood; but while, in one hand, she wields the sword against her aggressors, with the other she upholds the glories of science and literature unsullied by the ensanguined tide through which she struggles." In another of his remarkable speeches, I remember his saying, "When a people advancing rapidly in knowledge and power, perceive at last how far their government is lagging behind them, what then, I ask, is to be done in such a case? What, but to pull the government up to the people?"

In a few months after, both Emmet and myself were admitted members of the greater and recognized institution, called the Historical Society; and, even

here, the political feeling so rife abroad contrived to mix up its restless spirit with all our debates and proceedings; notwithstanding the constant watchfulness of the college authorities, as well as of a strong party within the Society itself, devoted adherents to the policy of the government, and taking invariably part with the Provost and Fellows in all their restrictive and inquisitorial measures. The most distinguished and eloquent of these supporters of power were a young man named Sargent, of whose fate in after days I know nothing, and Jebb, the late Bishop of Limerick, who was then, as he continued to be through life, much respected for his private worth and learning.

Of the popular side, in the Society, the chief champion and ornament was Robert Emmet; and though every care was taken to exclude from the subjects of debate all questions verging towards the politics of the day, it was always easy enough, by a side-wind of digression or allusion, to bring Ireland and the prospects then opening upon her within the scope of the orator's view. So exciting and powerful, in this respect, were Emmet's speeches, and so little were even the most eloquent of the adverse party able to cope with his powers, that it was at length thought advisable, by the higher authorities, to send among us a man of more advanced standing, as well as belonging to a former race of renowned speakers, in that Society, in order that he might answer the speeches of Emmet, and endeavour to obviate the

mischievous impression they were thought to produce. The name of this mature champion of the higher powers it is not necessary here to record; but the object of his mission among us was in some respect gained; as it was in replying to a long oration of his, one night, that Emmet, much to the mortification of us who gloried in him as our leader, became suddenly embarrassed in the middle of his speech, and, to use the parliamentary phrase, broke down. Whether from a momentary confusion in the thread of his argument, or possibly from diffidence in encountering an adversary so much his senior, - for Emmet was as modest as he was high-minded and brave, - he began, in the full career of his eloquence, to hesitate and repeat his words, and then, after an effort or two to recover himself, sate down.

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It fell to my own lot to be engaged, about the same time, in a brisk struggle with the dominant party in the Society, in consequence of a burlesque poem which I gave in, as candidate for the Literary Medal, entitled "An Ode upon Nothing, with Notes, by Trismegistus Rustifustius, D. D." etc. etc. For this squib against the great Dons of learning, the medal was voted to me by a triumphant majority. But a motion was made in the following week to rescind this vote; and a fierce contest between the two parties ensued, which I at last put an end to by voluntarily withdrawing my composition from the Society's Book.

I have already adverted to the period when Mr.

Bunting's valuable volume first became known to me. There elapsed no very long time before I was myself the happy proprietor of a copy of the work, and though never regularly instructed in music, could play over the airs with tolerable facility on the pianoforte. Robert Emmet used sometimes to sit by me, when I was thus engaged; and I remember one day his starting up as from a reverie, when I had just finished playing that spirited tune called the Red Fox,* and exclaiming, "Oh that I were at the head of twenty thousand men, marching to that air!"

How little did I then think that in one of the most touching of the sweet airs I used to play to him, his own dying words would find an interpreter so worthy of their sad, but proud feeling; † or that another of those mournful strains would long be associated, in the hearts of his countrymen, with the memory of her § who shared with Ireland his last blessing and prayer.

Though fully alive, of course, to the feelings which such music could not but inspire, I had not yet undertaken the task of adapting words to any of the airs; and it was, I am ashamed to say, in dull and turgid prose, that I made my first appearance in print as a champion of the popular cause. Towards the latter end of the year 1797, the celebrated

"Let Erin remember the days of old."

"Oh, breathe not his name."

"She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps." § Miss Curran.

newspaper called "The Press " was set up by Arthur O'Connor, Thomas Addis Emmett, and other chiefs of the United Irish conspiracy, with the view of preparing and ripening the public mind for the great crisis then fast approaching. This memorable journal, according to the impression I at present retain of it, was far more distinguished for earnestness of purpose and intrepidity, than for any great display of literary talent; the bold letters written by Emmett (the elder), under the signature of "Montanus," being the only compositions I can now call to mind, as entitled to praise for their literary merit. It required, however, but a small sprinkling of talent to make bold writing, at that time, palatable; and, from the experience of my own home, I can answer for the avidity with which every line of this daring journal was devoured. It used to come out, I think, twice a week, and, on the evening of publication, I always read it aloud to our small circle after supper.

It may easily be conceived that, what with my ardour for the national cause, and a growing consciousness of some little turn for authorship, I was naturally eager to become a contributor to those patriotic and popular columns. But the constant anxiety about me which I knew my own family felt, a feeling more wakeful far than even their zeal in the public cause, - withheld me from hazarding any step that might cause them alarm. I had ventured, indeed, one evening, to pop privately into the letter

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