Sir R Peel's Opinion Of O'connell





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

fellow.'



* * * * *



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

fear.





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