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a mistake, and that he was only Irish in so far that his birth was a bull!
Now, I am no Repealer-no Young-Ireland man-no Feenian -no Erin-go-braghite; but I am downright weary, heart-sick of that everlasting depreciation of Ireland which is the stock theme of news
papers. When the House is up, and nothing of interest before the public, why not take a turn at Scotland, or even the Isle of Man? I'm sure, for a diversion, one might be able to find out something ill to allege of the Channel Islands. I'll look up something against Sark myself before the autumn is over.
BE ALWAYS READY WITH THE PISTOL.
"Be always ready with the pistol," were amongst the last, if not the very last, words of counsel spoken by Henry Grattan to his son, and if they be read aright, are words of deep knowledge and wisdom, and not the expressions of malevolence or of passion.
No man of his age-very few men of any age-was ever more exempted by the happy accidents of his nature from reliance on mere force than Henry Grattan. He combined within his character almost every attribute that gives a man power over his fellows. With the vigour and energy of a lion he had an almost womanly gentleness. There was a charm in his manner, and a persuasiveness in his address, that the most prejudiced of his political enemies were the first to acknowledge. It was the temperament of an ancient Roman in all that regarded dignity, unswerving purpose, and high devotion to country, blended with a far nobler and purer patriotism than ever Roman knew; and yet this man, armed with these great gifts, endowed with a superiority so unquestionable, had to own that there were not only occasions in life in which all individual supremacy must be merged that a man may measure himself with another vastly his inferior in intellect, but that it is a positive duty not to decline, but actually to welcome, the occasion that may prove how ready the ablest man is to accept the arbitrament of the most vulgar-minded.
When Dr Johnson stamped in a discussion because his adversary had done so, saying, "Sir, I will not concede to you the advantage
of even a stamp!" he completely expressed this principle, and showed how essential it is that high intellect should not show itself deficient in whatever constitutes the strength of an inferior order of men.
In Grattan's day a duel was a common occurrence; almost every man in public life had fought more than once. Indeed, it was deemed a very doubtful sincerity that hesitated to stake life on the assertion of any line of action; and he who declined a provocation was as irretrievably ruined as if he had been convicted of forgery. In fact, it was almost in this light it was regarded. Courage being deemed so essentially part of a gentleman's nature, the discovery that it was wanting implied that degree of falsehood and deception that amounted to dishonour.
Rude as this chivalry was, it reacted most favourably on manners; the courtesy of debate was never violated by any of those coarse contradictions and unseemly denials which lower parliamentary habits. Men knew well that the questions which touched personal honour were to be settled in another place, and that he who transgressed the limits of a certain reserve did so with the full consciousness of all that might come of it.
It was rare, too, to find that anything like bitterness survived the 'meeting." The quarrel once decided, men returned to the daily business of life without a particle of animosity towards each other. They had settled their difference, and there was an end of it. When Mr Corry was lying ill of his wound
after his duel with Grattan, a friend came to sit with him one day, and after talking some time in the darkened room, let fall some remark reflecting on the conduct of the other's late antagonist, "Hist!" cried Corry, "there's a little fellow asleep at the foot of the bed would send a ball through you if he heard that," the little fellow being Henry Grattan himself, who had never quitted the bedside of the wounded man, and who had just dropped off asleep from over-fatigue and watching.
Now, to compass generosity like this was surely worth something; and I am by no means so certain that an equal degree of kind feeling would follow on one of our present-day altercations, when right honourable and honourable gentlemen are led to the interchange of courtesies more parliamentary than polite; nay, I am perfectly convinced that the good-fellowship of that time, confessedly greater than now, was mainly owing to the widely-spread respect for personal courage which pervaded public life.
I think I hear some one say, "This bloodthirsty Irishman wants to throw us all back into the barbarism that prevailed in the days before the Union;" but I want nothing of the kind. I think that, at the period referred to, the point of honour was too pedantically upheld; I think men resigned life on grounds totally unequal to such an appeal; I think there was an undue touchiness, an over-tensity, in the intercourse of the time that was neither wholesome nor beneficial; but I will by no means concede that all the advantage is on one side, because we have decreed that a duel is a disgrace, and that the man who fights one is disqualified for everything.
Of the consequences that have followed on the severe penalties against duelling in the service, I own frankly I cannot venture to speak, and for this reason I cannot trust my temper to speak calmly. The gross insults, the cruel wrongs, the insufferable outrages passed on
men who, to resent them, must have accepted their own irretrievable ruin, are themes I dare not permit myself to discuss. Neither will I suffer myself to say one word in disparagement of a system which honourable men are daily submitting to, with what heartburning and indignation Heaven alone could tell us! but, writing as I do in these sketches fully as much with reference to a public opinion outside Great Britain as within her limits, I desire to say that this legislation of ours about duelling, and the whole tone of our public opinion on the subject, has severely damaged us in Continental estimation. In the first place, no foreigner can possibly understand an Englishman's unwillingness to " go out," except on grounds that would impeach personal courage, because no foreigner knows enough of our public feeling to comprehend the fatal injury inflicted on a man's career in England, by the repute of his having fought a duel. There is not a section in all the complex machinery of our society against which the delinquent does not hurl his defiance. As an eminent Irish judge, more remarkable for the bathos than the accuracy of his eloquence, once said, "The practice is inhuman, it is uncivilised, it is unchristian; nay, gentlemen of the jury, I will go further-it is illegal!"
Now, what man has the courage to face not merely the chance of being shot, but the certainty of being stigmatised? I desire to declare here that I am not speaking vaguely or from hearsay. So far as a long residence amongst foreigners in nearly all parts of Europe enables a man to pronounce, I claim the right to declare that I know something about them; and I know of nothing that seems, through every separate people of the Continent, so universal as the belief that Englishmen do not like to "go out."
If a Frenchman or an Italian accept a challenge to a duel, it is a sort of brevet of bravery; wounded
or unwounded, he comes home from the field a hero. The newspapers record the achievement as something glorious, and his friends call to see him as a species of Paladin. If he can but drive out with his arm in a sling, his fortune is made; and his recognition in a café, his smile of bland and triumphant heroism, is a thing to be accepted with gratitude. Contrast this with the Englishman, hiding not alone from the law, but from public opinion; not merely dreading the Attorney-General, but far more fearing his aunt in Cheltenham, whose heir he was to have been, but who, being " a Christian woman," will certainly have nothing to do with one who sought the blood of a fellow-creature-albeit a fellow-creature who had inflicted the deepest wound on his honour.
Think of him, I say, neither backed by the press, nor sustained by his friends, but nursing his fractured femur in solitude, with the consciousness that he has ruined his fortune and done for his character that all the moments he can spare from his poultices must be passed in apologies to his friends, and reiterated assurances that he only accepted the issue of arms after an amount of provocation that almost brought on an apoplexy! And, last of all, imagine all the ridicule that awaits him-the pasquinades in the 'Saturday,' and the caricatures in 'Punch;' and while the noble Count, his antagonist, struts the Bois as a Bayard, he must skulk about like a felon that has escaped by a flaw in the indictment; a creature of whom the world must be cautious, as of a dog that was once mad, and that no one will guarantee against a return of hydrophobia!
They say no man would ever wish to be rescued from drowning if he only knew the tortures that awaited him from what is called the Humane Society. Indeed, the very description of them makes the guillotine or the garrotte seem in comparison like a mild anodyne; but is not this exactly the position
of the unfortunate man in question? Be ready with the pistol indeed! Be ready to accept loss of station, loss of respect, disinheritance, estrangement of friends, coldness of every one not because you were quarrelsome or contentiousnot because, being steady of hand and unerring of eye, you could venture to assume a tone that was likely to be resented-but simply because, with such French as they taught you at Rugby, you would not permit the Count Hyppolite de Coupegorge to revile your nation and defame your countrywomen in an open café, but threatened to throw him and his shako into the street.
Turn for a moment from the individual to the nation, and see if this damaging conviction has not a great deal to do with the estimate of our country now formed by all foreigners. We have not, it is true, any enemy so grossly unjust as to deny courage to our nation; but there is a current belief fast settling into a conviction that we are not "ready with the pistol"—that we require more provocation, and endure more outrage, than any one else; and that it is always safe to assume that we will never fight if we can possibly help it.
The sarcasm of the first Napoleon, when he called us a nation of shopkeepers, had a far deeper and broader significance than a reference to our trading propensities. It went to imply, that in cultivating a spirit of gain, we had sacrificed the sentiment of glory; and that the lower ambition of money - getting had usurped the place that should be occupied by a high and noble chivalry. It was a very good thing to teach Frenchmen this; no better lesson could have been inculcated than a contempt for a people who had always beaten them. Still, as a mere measure of convenience, it is rather hard on us that we must be reduced to maintain our character for courage by far more daring feats-by bolder deeds and more enduring efforts, than are called for from any other people. The man who is ready with the pistol goes
out on the first legitimate provocation, and, whether he shoots his man or is shot, the affair ends; but he who declines and hesitates generally ends by such a disparagement of his courage, that he must fight some half-dozen times to set himself right with the world.
Why is France at the head of Europe? Simply because she is ready with the pistol. War may be all that you like to say of it. The Quakers have done the vituperation so perfectly that I need not repeat it; but there have always been wars, and there will always be wars in the world; and a drab-coated broad - brimmed thee - and - thou planet would be as dreary and tasteless as a ball in a countinghouse. So long as England was ready with the pistol, there was not a nation in Europe dared to insult her. The men who guided our destinies through all the great wars of the First Empire were certainly not heaven-born statesmen in point of ability to devise, or eloquence to support, their measures-they were possibly very inferior to those who now sit on the Treasury benches.
In the Liverpool Cabinet were no such really professional statesmen as we see in the present Ministry; and yet, compare the England of that day-one-eighth less in population, scarcely much more than half as rich, as at present-compare that England with this, and will all the boastful leaders of the 'Times' reconcile you to the difference? We were ready with the pistol in 1808; we were ready with it, also, after the rupture of the peace at Amiens; and ready enough in 1815, too, when we played for the heaviest stake we had ever ventured.
For myself, I'd rather have seen Napier's fleet come back from the Baltic, shot-struck and disabled, with damaged rigging and smashed bulwarks, to tell that they had found the Russians tough customers-able to give as good as they took-than see them sail into the Downs without a spar injured or a block missing, and hear that the
channels were intricate and the forts ugly, and that, all things considered, it was just as well to have nothing to do with them. Nelson found his way through more tortuous windings, in that self-same sea, to find at the end very different batteries from those of Sweborg or Bommersund; but he was one of those who were "ready with the pistol."
I do not believe that the Nation at large is anything but what it always was. I am convinced that to-morrow we could count upon every great quality of noble heroism and daring that have given us our name in history.
But we want a little of that indiscipline of our fathers—that resistance to dictation, let it come from press or public-that haughty spirit which did not stop to count the cost when an insult was to be wiped out, and which, if it occasionally led us into embarrassments, ended by making our nation the freest and the foremost of Europe. Say what we may, we are not a military people, and the best proof of it is this-that we never can fight unless we are angry. I half wish that we were a little angry now, if only that one result should follow, and that we could show the world that the time is not gone by when we could be "ready with the pistol."
But one word more. I am not indifferent to-I am deeply grateful for-the improved tone of our civilisation, by which we have suppressed the fire-eater and put down the bully. I know of nothing so creditable to our manners, as that tacit understanding amongst all gentlemen, that the ruffian is not to be tolerated who, on the strength of his skill with a pistol, presumes to lord it over society. I think that by this step alone we have established an indisputable right to declare that we have made some progress in civilisation.
I think, too, it is an immense gain to good breeding, and consequently to the enjoyment of all
social intercourse, that, instead of, as formerly, merging all question of right and wrong in a hostile meeting, men are obliged nowadays to stand forth before the world not alone to vindicate their characters for honour and honesty, but for good temper and for forbearance.
We have got thus far in England, and I would only say, let us not imperil this immense boon by presuming too far on its benefits; and, above all, let us not forget that this great change in manners has made but little progress beyond the limits of our own country, and is still as essentially English as our Habeas
Corpus, our bitter beer, or our beef. Foreigners, let it be remembered, will neither understand nor give us credit for it. If there is anything in our ways and habits totally above their comprehension, it is our system-whether in political or social life- of dispensing with checks. That public opinion can keep the peace in the street and in the salon is a hopeless riddle to them. And now I have done, I trust not to be misunderstood, and that they who have had the patience to follow me, will see when and why I deem a "man should be ready with the pistol."
THE UNLUCKY NUMBER.
There are certain "Shams"-I hate the word, for it is a pet one of the greatest of all shams-which the world is at last getting weary of. Diplomatic councils! The veriest tyro in the study of human nature must know the hopelessness of bringing men to discuss a subject of direct interest to themselves. Of the thirteen wise men who formed the late Conference, each had a distinct and separate object to attain. To take the principals Denmark desired not to be dismembered; Prussia wished not only to dismember, but to absorb a large proportion of the fragments; Austria had assisted at the dismemberment only to show the rest of Germany that she was as patriotic as Prussia, and could be as brutal, as unjust, and as fond of pillage, as if she had been a Lutheran state; England endeavoured to keep the peace, because in no possible eventuality could war give her anything except an increase to her debt; while France, whose whole object has been for years past the spread of distrust through Europe, the rupture of the ties that once bound nations together, and more especially the complete isolation of England-France looked on delighted at the grand imbroglio, well knowing that the time of anarchy was coming, when she
could seize on the spoils. dignified reserve,' as the 'Moniteur' so beautifully styles it, reminds me of a scene I once witnessed in a Mississippi steamer. There was, as is usual, a large party engaged at play in the cabin-very high play-stimulated by strong passion and strong drink; and a dispute arose as to the rightful winner of the pool. The discussion was very violent, the language used of the strongest, and intimations were exchanged that when once on shore the matter should be determined by an appeal to something besides words-when suddenly an immensely large man, so tall that he towered by a head above his fellows, arose, and, drawing himself up to his full height, cried out, "I'll have none of this! Here's how it's to be;" and he struck the table with his fist a blow that made it resound. "Every gentleman in this cabin has his revolver and his bowie-knife: let us put out the lights, and see who'll have the money!" It is needless to say how quickly the proposal scattered the company.
Now, the Conference we have just witnessed did not end without results because the Danes were obstinate, or the Prussians inordinate in their demands, or the Austrians undecided whether to out