Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/552

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

full moon. … Norbury was all things to all men, and equally sincere to all—that is, meaning nothing to any. … "With good humour ever in his looks, and merriment, also, ever on his lips, he was by nature fierce, obdurate, and callous. Utterly reckless of life himself, he seemed scarcely to comprehend how others could value it. …Either not feeling or defying pain, he was a stranger to sympathy." 76 Lord Norbury was a fitting instrument to carry out the severe policy of the Irish government at the period of the Union, and the assizes at which he was present were invariably followed by wholesale executions. He presided at the trial of Robert Emmet, and more than once interrupted him in the course of his speech before sentence. After he became unfitted by age for the due performance of the duties of his office, several ineffectual efforts were made to induce him to resign. At length, however, in consequence of his having fallen asleep during a trial for murder, a petition to Parliament, through Mr. O'Connell, enforced his resignation in 1827. The blow was softened by his advance in the peerage as Viscount Glandine and Earl of Norbury. He died 27th July 1831, aged 91. 23 54 96 125† 177

Tone, Theobald Wolfe, was born in Dublin, 20th June 1763. [His grandfather owned property at Bodenstown, County of Kildare; his father carried on business as a coachbuilder, in Stafford-street, Dublin.] Theobald, with his brothers William and Matthew, attended a school kept by Rev. William Craig, where he managed to pull through his lessons in three days out of the six, and devoted the rest of the week to country rambles and attending the parades, field days, and reviews of the Dublin garrison. In February 1781, much against his will, he entered Trinity College. He says: "I continued my studies at college as I had done at school; that is, I idled until the last moment of delay. I then laboured hard for about a fortnight before the public examinations, and I always secured good judgments, besides obtaining three premiums in the three last years of my course." In 1784 he obtained a scholarship, and in the following year he eloped with Matilda Witherington, a girl of sixteen, who lived with her grandfather, an elderly clergyman, in Grafton-street. He describes her at this time as "beautiful as an angel," and says that after their marriage she grew more and more upon his heart. To the last hour of his life he continued to pay her the most devoted homage. Writing in after years he remarked: "Women in general, I am sorry to say, are mercenary, and especially if they have children, they are ready to make all sacrifices to their establishment. But my dearest love had bolder and juster views. On every occasion of my life I consulted her; we had no secrets, one from the other, and I invaryingly found her to think and act with energy and courage, combined with the greatest prudence and discretion. If ever I succeed in life, or attain at anything like station or eminence, I shall consider it as due to her counsels and example." In February 1786 he took his degree of B.A., resigned his scholarship, and left the University. He had been Auditor of the Historical Society, and was one of its most distinguished ornaments. His father became bankrupt, and retired to Bodenstown; and with him the young couple sojourned for a time. In 1787 Theobold entered the Middle Temple, London, took chambers in Hare-court, and supported himself mainly by contributions to the European and other magazines. In partnership with his friends Jebb and Radcliff, he wrote Belmont Castle, a burlesque novel. After about a year he was joined by his brother William, who had been serving the East India Company. The brothers were often without a guinea, yet the recollection of happy days spent with him and other friends in London afterwards filled Theobald's mind with a " tenderly melancholy." He had read nearly every book relating to the buccaneers, the South Seas, and South America, and conceived the plan of a military settlement on one of the islands lately discovered by Cook—" in order to put a bridle on Spain in time of peace, and to annoy her grievously in that quarter in time of war." He forwarded a memorial on the subject to Mr. Pitt, but it met with no response. At length the brothers Tone became so reduced, that they applied at the India House to be sent out as volunteers; but were refused.—" I believe we were the single instance since the beginning of the world, of two men, absolutely bent on ruining themselves, who could not find the means." After two years' residence in London, Theobald returned home with but a small knowledge of law. His wife's grandfather made them a present of £500. Tone was called to the Bar in February 1789, purchased £100 worth of law books, and took lodgings in Clarendon-street. But he hated and despised the profession, and it was impossible he could make any way in it. He was somewhat attracted to the Whig Club, and wrote a pamphlet in its favour, and in the gallery of the Irish House of Commons he became acquainted with