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Sir R Peel's Opinion Of O'connell

Irish Humour Home

Sir Robert Peel is said to have expressed his high appreciation of
O'Connell's parliamentary abilities. While the Reform Bill was under
discussion, the speeches of its friends and foes were one day canvassed
at Lady Beauchamp's. On O'Connell's name being mentioned, some critic
fastidiously said, Oh, a broguing Irish fellow! who would listen to
him? I always walk out of the House when he opens his lips, Come,
Peel, said Lord Westmoreland, let me hear your opinion. My opinion
candidly is, replied Sir Robert, that if I wanted an efficient and
eloquent advocate, I would readily give up all the other orators of whom
we have been talking, provided I had with me this same broguing Irish

* * * * *

At the Bishop of Waterford's table, the following anecdote was related
by O'Connell:

My grandmother had twenty-two children, and half of them lived beyond
the age of ninety. Old Mr. O'Connell of Derrynane, pitched upon an oak
tree to make his own coffin, and mentioned his purpose to a carpenter.
In the evening, the butler entered after dinner to say that the
carpenter wanted to speak with him. 'For what?' asked my uncle. 'To talk
about your honor's coffin,' said the carpenter, putting his head inside
the door over the butler's shoulder. I wanted to get the fellow out, but
my uncle said, 'Oh! let him in by all means.--Well, friend, what do you
want to say to me about my coffin?' 'Only, sir, that I'll saw up the oak
tree that your honor was speaking of into seven-foot plank.' 'That would
be wasteful,' answered my uncle; 'I never was more than six feet and an
inch in my vamps, the best day ever I saw.' 'But your honor will stretch
after death,' said the carpenter. 'Not eleven inches, I am sure, you
blockhead! But I'll stretch, no doubt--perhaps a couple of inches or so.
Well, make my coffin six feet six, and I'll warrant that will give me
room enough!'

* * * * *

I remember, said O'Connell, being counsel at a special commission in
Kerry against a Mr. S----, and having occasion to press him somewhat
hard in my speech, he jumped up in the court, and called me 'a
purse-proud blockhead.' I said to him, 'In the first place I have got
no purse to be proud of; and, secondly, if I be a blockhead, it is
better for you, as I am counsel against you. However, just to save you
the trouble of saying so again, I'll administer a slight
rebuke'--whereupon I whacked him soundly on the back with the
president's cane. Next day he sent me a challenge by William Ponsonby of
Crottoe; but very shortly after, he wrote to me to state, that since he
had challenged me, he had discovered that my life was inserted in a very
valuable lease of his. 'Under these circumstances,' he continued, 'I
cannot afford to shoot you, unless, as a precautionary measure, you
first insure your life for my benefit. If you do, then heigh for powder
and ball! I'm your man.' Now this seems so ludicrously absurd, that it
is almost incredible; yet it is literally true. S---- was a very timid
man; yet he fought six duels--in fact, he fought them all out of pure

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