Curran And Lord Erskine

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.
urran 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.