Curran At A Debating Society

Curran's account of his introduction and debut at a debating society,

is the identical first appearance of hundreds. Upon the first of our

assembling, he says, I attended, my foolish heart throbbing with the

anticipated honor of being styled 'the learned member that opened the

debate,' or 'the very eloquent gentleman who has just sat down.' All day

the coming scene had been flitting before my fancy, and cajoling it. My

ear already caught the glorious melody of 'Hear him! hear him!' Already

I was practising how to steal a sidelong glance at the tears of generous

approbation bubbling in the eyes of my little auditory,--never

suspecting, alas! that a modern eye may have so little affinity with

moisture, that the finest gunpowder may be dried upon it. I stood up; my

mind was stored with about a folio volume of matter; but I wanted a

preface, and for want of a preface, the volume was never published. I

stood up, trembling through every fibre: but remembering that in this I

was but imitating Tully, I took courage, and had actually proceeded

almost as far as 'Mr. Chairman,' when, to my astonishment and terror, I

perceived that every eye was riveted upon me. There were only six or

seven present, and the little room could not have contained as many

more; yet was it, to my panic-stricken imagination, as if I were the

central object in nature, and assembled millions were gazing upon me in

breathless expectation. I became dismayed and dumb. My friends cried

'Hear him!' but there was nothing to hear. My lips, indeed, went through

the pantomime of articulation; but I was like the unfortunate fiddler at

the fair, who, coming to strike up the solo that was to ravish every

ear, discovered that an enemy had maliciously soaped his bow; or rather,

like poor Punch, as I once saw him, grimacing a soliloquy, of which his

prompter had most indiscreetly neglected to administer the words. Such

was the debut of Stuttering Jack Curran, or Orator Mum, as he was

waggishly styled; but not many months elapsed ere the sun of his

eloquence burst forth in dazzling splendor.