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England, would be met instantly by defiance and menaces of action for assault and battery, -is not yet altogether obsolete in Ireland. Thirty years ago it was still more prevalent, and marked that spirit and temper in the treatment of menial dependants, with which doubtless originated the measure of judicial flagellations. To return, however; that fact with which I proposed to close my recollections of this great tumult, and which I hold to be a sufficient guarantee for the very severest reflections on the spirit of the Government, is expressed significantly in the terms, memorable enough, but commonly used by Roman Catholic gentlemen, in prudential exculpation of themselves, when threatened with inquiry for their conduct during these times of agitation: -'I thank my God that no man can charge me justly with having saved the life of any Protestant, or his house from pillage, by my intercession with the rebel chiefs.' What did this mean? Some Roman Catholics had pleaded, and pleaded truly, as a reason for special indulgence to themselves, that they had used any influence, which might belong to them on the score of religion, or of private friendship with the rebel authorities, on behalf of persecuted Protestants; either in delivering them altogether, or in softening their doom. But, to the surprise of everybody, this plea was so far from being entertained or allowed any weight by the courts of inquiry, that, on the contrary, an argument was uniformly built upon it, dangerous in the last degree to the pleader. You admit, then,' it was retorted, having had this very considerable influence upon the rebel councils; in that case we must suppose you to have been known privately as their friend and supporter.' Readily it may be supposed, that few would be likely to urge such a vindication, when it became known in what way it was fated to operate. The Government itself had made it perilous to
profess humanity; and every man henceforward gloried publicly in his callousness and insensibility, as the best safeguard to himself in a path so closely beset with rocks.
In the latter end of October, I quitted Connaught with Lord W., and we returned slowly to Dublin. Thence, after some little stay, we crossed the Irish Channel; and by the same route through North Wales, we travelled together to Birmingham.
It was at Birmingham, the great centre of travelling in England, where so many of the great roads converge, and which I, like myriads besides, have visited, therefore, many hundreds of times, without ever yet having gone thither as a terminus ad quem : - at Birmingham it was, that I parted with my friend Lord W. His route lay through Oxford; and stopping, therefore, no longer than was necessary to harness fresh horses, an operation, however, which was seldom accomplished in less than half an hour at that era, he went on directly to Stratford. My own destination was yet doubtful. I had been directed, in Dublin, to inquire at the Birmingham Post-Office, for a letter which would guide my motions. There, accordingly, upon sending for it, lay the expected letter from my mother, from which I learned that my sister was visiting at L-xt-n, in Northamptonshire, a seat of Lord C-rb-ry's, to which place I also had an invitation; and that during my stay at that place some final resolution would be taken, and announced to me, as to the disposal of my time, for the two or three years before I could be supposed old enough, on the English system, for going to Oxford or Cambridge. This was the part of the letter which I read with the deepest interest. It is true, that I was yet the merest boy; having, in fact, completed my fifteenth birth
day, about three months before, in Ireland; but by learning, by knowledge of the world, and by pride of heart, I had outgrown a school; and, from these causes as well as my premature gravity, and (I may say it without vanity) premature dignity of mind, I could not easily humble myself to the idea of taking my station amongst ignorant boys, and under a master who had little chance of having half my own learning. I was glad, therefore, to find the evil day deferred at least; and I had private reasons for rejoicing that the final decision was to be made at L-xt-n. Meantime, my route lay through Stamford, to which I found that I could go by a stage-coach on the following day; and of necessity I prepared to make the most of that day in gloomy, noisy, and, at that time, dirty Birmingham.
Be not offended, compatriot of Birmingham, that I salute your natal town with these disparaging epithets. It is not my habit to indulge rash impulses of contempt towards any man or body of men, wheresoever collected, far less towards a race of high-minded and most intelligent citizens, such as Birmingham has exhibited to the admiration of all Europe. But as to the noise and the gloom which I ascribe, those features of your town will illustrate what the Germans mean by a one-sided (ein-seitiger) judgment. There are, I can well believe, thousands to whom Birmingham is another name for domestic peace, and for a reasonable share of sunshine. But in my case, who have passed through Birmingham many hundred times, it always happened to rain, except once; and that once the Shrewsbury mail carried me so rapidly away that I had not time to examine the sunshine, or see whether it might not be some gilt Birmingham counterfeit; for you know, men of Birmingham, that you can counterfeit such is your cleverness
all things in heaven and earth, from
Jove's thunderbolts down to a tailor's bodkin.
Therefore, Then, as to
the gloom is to be charged to my bad luck. the noise, never did I sleep at that enormous Hen and Chickens, to which usually my destiny brought me ; but I had reason to marvel that the discreet hen did not gather her vagrant flock to roost at less variable hours. Till two or three I was kept waking by those who were retiring; and about three commenced the morning functions of the porter, or of boots,' or of 'under-boots,' who began their rounds to collect their several freights for the Highflyer, or the Tally-ho, or the Bang-up, to all points of the compass, and too often (as must happen in such immense establishments) blundered into my room, with that appalling, Now, Sir, the horses are coming out.' So that rarely indeed have I happened to sleep in Birmingham. But the dirt!that sticks a little with you, friend of Birmingham. How do I explain away that? Know, then, reader, that at the time I speak of, and in the way I speak of, all England was dirty.
The next day I crossed the country to Stamford, and thence, by a stage of nine miles, to L-xt-n. Here I passed an interval, the happiest of my childish life. I was again in the house of an Irish nobleman; and my position, therefore, as regarded amusement and freedom of choice in disposing of my time, may be supposed to have been pretty much the same with that which I had just quitted in Ireland. In reality, however, it was very different. Lord C-rb-ry was what is commonly and somewhat contemptuously called a fox-hunter. But fox-hunters, as a class, are not the contemptible persons one might suppose from satiric sketches; at least in my own experience. I have found them far otherwise. It is always beneficial to a man's temper, and does not interfere with any intellectual