Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/61

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Law, and five years later became Solicitor-General. In 1703, returned to Parliament for Cork, he was elected Speaker. He was a friend of toleration, as far as the Presbyterians were concerned, and advocated the repeal of the Test Act—therein opposed by Dean Swift, as well as by his own son. In 1709 he was appointed Chief-Justice of the Queen's Bench, and on the accession of George I. (1714), was made Lord-Chancellor, and raised to the peerage as Baron Broderick of Midleton. During his tenure of office the famous cause of "Sherlock v. Annesley" grew into national importance. Hester Sherlock appealed against an order of the Barons of the Exchequer, and was by the Irish House of Lords put in possession of an estate in Kildare, until such time as the sum of £1,507 should be paid her. Maurice Annesley appealed to the English Lords, who directed possession to be given to him. A special meeting of the Irish Lords was held, 23rd September 1717, and they ordered the Sheriff of Kildare to give Sherlock possession. The Barons of the Exchequer, whose decision the English Lords had upheld, threatened him with dire penalties if he complied. The Sheriff, thinking the Irish Lords the stronger party, declined to obey, was fined, and concealed himself to avoid arrest. On 27th July 1719, the Irish Lords summoned the Barons before them and complimented the Sheriff on his integrity and courage in not yielding to them. Lord Midleton opposed these proceedings of his colleagues, but his party was in a minority of thirty-four. The Barons were now ordered into custody for their contempt of the Irish Lords, who drew up an elaborate representation to the King. The English Lords resolved that the Barons had acted with "courage and fidelity to the Crown of Great Britain," and that His Majesty be requested to confer some mark of his royal favour upon them. The 6 Geo. I. cap. 5, declaring the dependency of Ireland upon the Parliament of Great Britain was then passed—an Act nullified in 1782. Lord Campbell thinks that the action of the English Lords was unwarranted. Lord Midleton was now an object of hatred to his brother peers; he was censured for absence in England, and consequent neglect of the duties of his court, and in 1725 resigned his seal as Chancellor. Various offices of trust were conferred on him by the Government. In 1728 he died at his seat, Ballyannan, County of Cork, aged about 68. He was thrice married. 76

Brooke, Henry, a distinguished author, was born in 1706, at Rantavan, Couuty of Cavan, four miles east of Virginia. His father was a wealthy and worthy parson; his mother, a Digby, was a woman of good sense and of good family, of whom Swift, in his occasional visits to the house, is said to have stood more in awe than of most country ladies. Henry Brooke was sent to school in the neighbourhood of Rantavan, then to Dr. Sheridan's, in Capel-street, Dublin; he graduated in Trinity College. While at college Swift prophesied wonders of him, only "regretting that his talent pointed towards poetry, which of all pursuits was most unprofitable." In 1724 he proceeded to London to study law. There he became the favourite of both Pope and Lyttleton. Some of his correspondence with the former is still extant. His studies were interrupted by the death of an aunt; he came back to Ireland to settle her affairs, and accepted the guardianship of her child, a beautiful little girl of twelve—Catherine Meares. He placed her at a boarding school in Dublin, and two years afterwards married her—he being twenty years of age, and she fourteen. Kingsley writes: "The marriage was as happy a one as this earth ever saw; the parents—Irish people not holding the tenets of Malthus—could not find it in their hearts to scold so 'pretty a pair of turtles, and left them to reap the awful fruits of their own folly in the form of a child per year." They had twenty-two children, only two of whom survived their parents. Brooke is described at this time as "fresh-looking, slenderly formed, and exceedingly graceful. He had an oval face, ruddy complexion, and large soft eyes, full of fire. He was of great personal courage, but never known to offend any man. He was an excellent swordsman, and could dance with much grace." Shortly after his marriage he returned to London, where he wrote and published, under the eye of Pope, his poem of Universal Beauty. "Noticeable throughout is that Platonic and realist method of thought in which he persisted throughout life, almost alone in his generation, and which now and then leads him, young as he is, to very noble glimpses into the secrets of nature." 49 It was not long before he came back to Dublin, and for eight years plodded on as chamber counsel, not without success. His having worked thus steadily at an uncongenial profession, in the hey-day of his youth and ambition, should redeem him somewhat from the imputation of want of perseverance. In 1736 we find him again in London, enjoying the intimacy of Pope, Lyttleton, and Pitt. In 1738 he published an English metrical version of three books of Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata. He next brought out his