Imágenes de páginas

professional tour, and begged the favour of his company that night to Mrs. Lefanu's; at the same time telling him that the lady herself was going to perform ; and bidding him guess what part she had chosen ?-

What part !” replied Curran, “ One of the Grampian hills, I suppose. I know no other part in the play that will suit her."

In the year 1790, the representation of the County of Down was strongly disputed between the eldest son of the then Lord Hilsborough, and the late Lord Castlereagh : and amongst the lawyers engaged for the occasion, was Mr. William Downes, afterwards Chief Justice of the King'sBench.' Previously to his setting out for Downpatrick, Mr. Downes happened to meet Curran, to whom he mentioned that he was retained for one of the parties; and added, that he was sorry to understand that much ill-will was expected to display itself—insomuch that it was not unlikely but that the partisans of the candidates would proceed to duelling and bloodshed. “For my part," continued he, " I shall keep clear of every subject but that connected with my professional duties."

“ No doubt," said Curran," you are perfectly well prepared."

O yes,” replied Downes, “ I have made myself master of all the election cases."

Very good,” replied Curran; “ yet, however desirous

you may be of keeping yourself clear of controversy and quarrels, some irritable bully may run foul of you ; therefore, I would recommend strongly that you should have Wogden's case at your fingers ends.

Wogden's case !” observed Downes, with surprise, “ I never heard of that case before-I am much obliged to you, my dear fellow, for mentioning it—where shall I find the report of it ?”

“ I am surprised,” returned Curran, “ that you, so conversant with elections, should never have heard the report of Wogden's case !-" There are twenty shops in town where you can procure the case itself."

Mr. Downes, pleased with the hint, deferred his journey towards the theatre of war for that day; the whole of which he employed in ransacking every bookseller's shop in Dublin.—At length, he mentioned his difficulty to a brother barrister, whom he met; and was not a little confounded when the latter, readily taking the joke, burst into a loud laugh at his simplicity, and told him " instead of continuing his researches among the booksellers, to step across the street to a gunsmith's shop, where he would find the case in a minute!”

It is well known that the gentlemen of the Irish bar have a species of wit peculiar to themselves,—dry and sarcastic-acquired, in a great measure, from their habit of examining witnesses at Nisi-Prius; on which occasions, they are not only obliged to exert all their talents, but actually to proceed like inquisitors; by indulging in the rankest abuse of the witnesses, &c. on the opposite side. This, indeed, has been so much the case, that one unaccustomed to such cases, might imagine the witness to be on his trial before a court competent to extort confessions.-The barrister, therefore, relies not so much on the justice of his cause, as on the dexterity of puzzling his opponent; and in this sort of finesse, either party is seldom restrained by the judge ; who, when a barrister had, of course, pursued the same plan himself. This very censurable practice makes the Irish barrister, in many instances, a most disagreeable companion ; for, with all his knack of story-telling, he is so addicted to contradiction, and to the habit of putting crooked, inconvenient, and disagreeable questions, even upon the most unimportant subjects, that a stranger would suppose every assertion required little short of an oath to ensure belief, and prevent cross-examination.

Curran was, at one period, addicted to this species of ill-manners ; but his exuberant wit at length obviated the necessity of resorting to such contemptible means of displaying his importance. At the bar, however, he retained the professional habit, ,and frequently played off the most severe jokes and sarcasms, where discretion and kind words would have done honour to his head and heart.-—But no conqueror was ever yet heard of, who, on all occasions, carried off the palm of victory. Curran now and then met with a rum customer, whom, in attempting to floor, he himself was tripped up.

A young cornet, quartered in Dublin, being in

want of a charger, bought one from a horsedealer of the name of Giles, who kept a celebrated horse-bazaar and livery-stables in the neighbourhood of the barracks. The animal was warranted perfectly sound, and four year's old; but, on being paraded, he was recognised as a campaigner of at least sixteen years standing !

The young gentleman went to his colonel, and related all the circumstances, requesting his advice; and the latter recommended him to return the horse immediately. The animal was accordingly taken by a dragoon to Giles, who refused to receive him ; whereupon, the cornet begged farther advice from the colonel, who told him to have the horse again led to the livery-stables, and let go into the yard; then, to bring an action at law for the recovery of the amount.

This was done, and Mr. Curran was retained for the cornet.

When the trial came on, and the plaintiff's case gone through, Giles's hostler, well known in Dublin by the name of Blinker Micky, because blind of one eye, appeared in the witness's box, ready to swear through thick and thin for the

« AnteriorContinuar »