« FöregåendeFortsätt »
which our Saviour humbled himself so far as to take the form of man, in order to confer upon him the highest benefit.”
Garret, who followed his father's profession and was well known in Dublin as a man of wit and drollery, died unmarried. Richard, who became equally distinguished in London as a wit, a politician, a writer, and a lawyer, in which latter capacity Lord Mansfield had formed and expressed to several members of the Bar now living, the highest opinion of him, and of whom some notices will hereafter occur, likewise died unmarried. The issue of Mrs. French alone survive, her grandson, Thomas Haviland Burke, Esq. of Lincoln's Inn, being the lineal representative of the family. With the descendants of the late Mr. John Nugent, Mrs. Burke's brother, a remote relationship to‘ Mr. Burke by blood, as stated by that family, also exists; he having married Miss Lucy Nagle, daughter of Garret Nagle, Esq. of Moneamyny and Ballyduff, in Cork, first cousin on both father and mother's side to Edmund Burke. It is worthy of remark, that Sylvanus Spenser, elder son of the Poet, married Ellen Nagle, elder daughter of David Nagle, Esq. ancestor of the gentleman just mentioned, and great aunt to Mr. Burke's mother; so that marriage remotely connected these two celebrated names.
For his maternal relations, among whom many of his juvenile days were spent, Edmund always preserved a warm regard ; and as several were devoted to various departments of the public service, advanced their interests as opportunities permitted. Among these was the present Admiral, Sir Edmund
Nagle; who spending much of his time at Beaconsfield in the intervals of sea-duty, amused his celebrated kinsman with naval anecdotes and affairs, in which the latter took so much interest, as to have acquired a large stock of nautical terms, often applied with great effect in his speeches and writings; while in return the young sailor received warm applause for several instances of gallant conduct. One of these Mr. Burke dwelt upon with peculiar delight to his friends ; remarking that in ancient Rome it would have obtained not only a civic crown for the humanity displayed on the occasion, but a laurel crown for the courage.
A person, it seems, had accidentally fallen overboard from a ship at sea in which Mr. Nagle was embarked, who finding he was in danger from a shark, which had just before been seen near the ship, immediately sprung into the water to rescue him, and happily succeeded. This circumstance being much talked of at the time, his late Majesty heard of it, and Mr. Nagle being pointed out to him, he entered into conversation, paying many compliments to his gallantry. “ It was a hazardous attempt, Captain Nagle,” observed the King. “ I never thought of the hazard, please your Majesty." “ But do you think you would run such a risk again, Captain Nagle?” “ Please your Majesty, I would go to h--ll at any time to serve a friend,” replied the plain though courageous seaman.
Edmund Burke was born in the house on Arran Quay, January 1, 0. S. 1730. Those who are fond of tracing coincidences will not fail to remark, that, like his great contemporaries Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt, he was a younger son. It has likewise been generally
believed and circulated with confidence, that he inherited only a younger son's patrimony, or in other words little or nothing, and that in London previous to his entrance into Parliament, he was wholly dependant on his pen for the means of support. Were this report true, it would be creditable to his industry and perseverance. But such was not the case. The integrity and reputation of his father enabled him, after living in affluence and educating his children in a suitable manner, to leave behind at his death a considerable provision for them. The writer is assured from unquestionable authority, and the same fact was frequently mentioned by the late Dr. Lawrence to his friends, that Mr. Burke received from his family at various times a sum little short of 20,0001., a larger patrimony than fell to the share of Mr. Pitt. This circumstance would not be worth adverting to were it not for the pains taken by political opponents to represent him as little better than a mere adventurer.
Very little is known of his early years, except his being of a delicate constitution, tending, as was believed, to consumption. The most troublesome symptom of the complaint was a pain in the side, which disabled him from taking the same degree of boyish exercise as his brothers, and when they therefore were at play, he was commonly seen reclining on a sofa perusing a book. To this Richard Burke alluded, when being found in a reverie shortly after an extraordinary display of powers in the House of Commons by his brother, and questioned by Mr. Malone as to the cause--" I have been wondering,”
said he,“ how Ned has contrived to monopolize all the talents of the family; but then again I remember when we were at play he was always at work."
His delicate state of health rendering necessary a longer stay than is customary under the paternal roof, he was first taught to read by his mother, a woman of cultivated understanding. It is likewise traditionally related as something remarkable and even ludicrous, that another instructor of this great master of the powers of the English language was an elderly fernale resident in the neighbourhood, who feeling a strong partiality for the boy, found amusement in communicating the rudiments of learning to his infant mind.
The air of the country, however, being deemed essential to give vigour to his frame, he was removed from the metropolis to the house of his grandfather at Castletown Roche. Here for the first time he was put to school; and the ruins of the schoolroom, or what is said to have been such, may be still traditionally pointed out to those who take an interest in prying into those early haunts which the subsequent developement of great genius serves to elevate into celebrity. His progress in knowledge, however, was not very considerable, his relations, from motives of kindness, directing his attention more to what was likely to improve his health than to inform his mind. Still he was not idle. The village school-master, whose name was O'Halloran, and who lived to an advanced age, was known to one or two of the older inhabitants living there a few years ago, who remembered him in their youth as boasting upon all occasions that he was the first who had put a Latin grammar into the hands of Edmund Burke.
Another of this old man's stories, of the truth of which, from the known benevolence of heart of the pupil, as well as from the circumstantiality with which it was told by the master, there was no reason to doubt, related to the time of Mr. Burke going thither to look after his property in 1766. Divested of something of the circumlocution common to those who belong to, or mingle much with the lower classes in Ireland, but retaining some part of the phraseology, it was in substance this :—Hearing that his boy, as he called him, who had got into parliament, was come to look at the ould place, he thought he would just step up a bit to the house to see whether he would remember his poor master. Proceeding slowly up the avenue, doubtful of the reception he should meet with from a great man, he recoguised him dressing in a room over the door of the house (long since in ruins), and the boy as quickly remembered his ould master's face again : Sorrow a minute did he wait, but ran down stairs, his shirt collar open, his beard half shaven, seized him eagerly by both hands, and “ asked all about me, and about the little boys his school-fellows, and said you must stay all day with me, O'Halloran, and gossip about old times ;—and sure enough I did; -but was this all, do you suppose ? No, to be sure it was not ;-didn't he put five golden guineas into my hand as I was coming away ? ”
The gentleman to whom this anecdote was related, in the course of other inquiries in the neigh