O'connell And A Snarling Attorney





O'Connell could be seen to greatest advantage in an Irish court of

justice. There he displayed every quality of the lawyer and the

advocate. He showed perfect mastery of his profession, and he exhibited

his own great and innate qualities. Who that ever beheld him on the

Munster circuit, when he was in the height of his fame, but must have

admired his prodigious versatility of formidable powers. His pathos was

often admirable--his humor flowed without effort or art. What jokes he

uttered!--what sarcasms! How well he worked his case, never throwing

away a chance, never relaxing his untiring energies. How he disposed of

a pugnacious attorney may be gathered from the following:--



For a round volley of abusive epithets nobody could surpass him. One of

his droll comic sentences was often worth a speech of an hour in putting

down an opponent, or in gaining supporters to his side. At Nisi Prius,

he turned his mingled talent for abuse and drollery to great effect. He

covered a witness with ridicule, or made a cause so ludicrous, that the

real grounds of complaint became invested with absurdity.



One of the best things he ever said was in an assize-town on the

Munster circuit. The attorney of the side opposite to that on which

O'Connell was retained, was a gentleman remarkable for his combative

qualities; delighted in being in a fight, and was foremost in many of

the political scenes of excitement in his native town. His person was

indicative of his disposition. His face was bold, menacing, and scornful

in its expression. He had stamped on him the defiance and resolution of

a pugilist. Upon either temple there stood erect a lock of hair, which

no brush could smooth down. These locks looked like horns, and added to

the combative expression of his countenance. He was fiery in his nature,

excessively spirited, and ejaculated, rather than spoke to an audience;

his speeches consisting of a series of short, hissing, spluttering

sentences, by no means devoid of talent of a certain kind. Add to all

this, that the gentleman was an Irish Attorney, and an Orangeman, and

the reader may easily suppose that he was 'a character!'



Upon the occasion referred to, this gentleman gave repeated annoyance to

O'Connell--by interrupting him in the progress of the cause--by speaking

to the witnesses--and by interfering in a manner altogether improper,

and unwarranted by legal custom. But it was no easy matter to make the

combative attorney hold his peace--he, too, was an agitator in his own

fashion. In vain did the counsel engaged with O'Connell in the cause

sternly rebuke him; in vain did the judge admonish him to remain quiet;

up he would jump, interrupting the proceedings, hissing out his angry

remarks and vociferations with vehemence. While O'Connell was in the act

of pressing a most important question he jumped up again, undismayed,

solely for the purpose of interruption. O'Connell, losing all patience,

suddenly turned round, and, scowling at the disturber, shouted in a

voice of thunder--'Sit down, you audacious, snarling, pugnacious

ram-cat.' Scarcely had the words fallen from his lips, when roars of

laughter rang through the court. The judge himself laughed outright at

the happy and humorous description of the combative attorney, who, pale

with passion, gasped in inarticulate rage. The name of ram-cat struck

to him through all his life.





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