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Curran And Lord Erskine

Irish Humour Home




Dr. Crolly, in speaking of the two great forensic orators of the day,
draws a comparison between the circumstances under which both addressed
their audiences:--

When Erskine pleaded, he stood in the midst of a secure nation, and
pleaded like a priest of the temple of justice, with his hand on the
altar of the constitution, and all England waiting to treasure every
deluding oracle that came from his lips. Curran pleaded--not in a time
when the public system was only so far disturbed as to give additional
interest to his eloquence--but in a time when the system was threatened
with instant dissolution; when society seemed to be falling in fragments
round him; when the soil was already throwing up flames. Rebellion was
in arms. He pleaded, not on the floor of a shrine, but on a scaffold;
with no companions but the wretched and culpable beings who were to be
flung from it, hour by hour; and no hearers but the crowd, who rushed in
desperate anxiety to that spot of hurried execution--and then rushed
away, eager to shake off all remembrance of scenes which had torn every
heart among them.





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