The wild irish girl a n.., p.1
The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale, p.1Lady Morgan
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THE WILD IRISH GIRL
By Lady Sydney Morgan
THE EARL OF M--------
TO THE HONORABLE HORATIO M--------, KING’S BENCH.
Castle M--------, Leicestershire,
Feb. ----, 17------.
If there are certain circumstances under which a fond fathercan address an imprisoned son without suffering the bitterestheart-rendings of paternal agony, such are not those under which Inow address you. To sustain the loss of the most precious of all humanrights, and forfeit our liberty at the shrine of virtue, in defence ofour country abroad, or of our public integrity and principles at home,brings to the heart of the sufferer’s dearest sympathising friend asoothing solace, almost concomitant to the poignancy of his afflictions;and leaves the decision difficult, whether in the scale of humanfeelings, triumphant pride or affectionate regret preponderate.
“I would not,” said the old earl of Ormond, “give up my dead son fortwenty living ones.” Oh! how I envy such a father the possession, andeven the _loss_ of such a child: with what eagerness my heart rushesback to that period when _I_ too triumphed in my son when I beheld himglowing in all the unadulterated virtues of the happiest nature, flushedwith the proud consciousness of superior genius, refined by a tasteintuitively elegant, and warmed by an enthusiasm constitutionallyardent; his character indeed tinctured with the bright colouring ofromantic eccentricity, but marked by the indelible traces of innaterectitude, and ennobled by the purest principles of native generosity,the proudest sense of inviolable honour, I beheld him rush eagerly onlife, enamoured of its seeming good, incredulous of its latent evils,till fatally fascinated by the magic spell of the former, he fellan early victim to the successful lures of the latter. The growinginfluence of his passions kept pace with the expansion of his mind, andthe moral powers of the _man of genius_, gave way to the overwhelmingpropensities of the _man of pleasure_. Yet in the midst of those exoticvices (for as such even yet I would consider them,) he continued at oncethe object of my parental partiality and anxious solicitude; I admiredwhile I condemned, I pitied while I reproved.
The rights of primogeniture, and the mild and prudent cast of yourbrother’s character, left me no cares either for his worldly interestor moral welfare: born to titled affluence, his destination in life wasascertained previous to his entrance on its chequered scene; and equallyfree from passions to mislead, or talents to stimulate, he promised tohis father that series of temperate satisfaction which, unillumined bythose coruscations, _your_ superior and promising genius flashed on theparental heart, could not prepare for its sanguine feelings that mortaldisappointment with which _you_ have destroyed all its hopes. On therecent death of my father I found myself possessed of a very largebut incumbered property: it was requisite I should make the sameestablishment for my eldest son, that my father had made for me; whileI was conscious that my youngest was in some degree to stand indebted tohis own exertions, for independence as well as elevation in life.
You may recollect that during your first college vacation, we conversedon the subject of that liberal profession I had chosen for you, and youagreed with me, that it was congenial to your powers, and not inimicalto your taste; while the part I was anxious you should take in thelegislation of your country, seemed at once to rouse and gratify yourambition but the pure flame of laudable emulation was soon extinguishedin the destructive atmosphere of pleasure, and while I beheld you, inthe visionary hopes of my parental ambition, invested with the crimsonrobe of legal dignity, or shining brightly conspicuous in the splendidgalaxy of senatorial luminaries, _you_ were idly presiding as the highpriest of libertinism at the nocturnal orgies of vitiated dissipation,or indolently lingering out your life in elegant but unprofitablepursuits.
It were as vain as impossible to trace you through every degree of erroron the scale of folly and imprudence, and such a repetition would bemore heart wounding to me than painful to you, were it even made underthe most extenuating bias of parental fondness.
I have only to add, that though already greatly distressed by theliquidation of your debts, at a time when I am singularly circumstancedwith respect to pecuniary resources, I will make a struggle to free youfrom the chains of this your present _iron_-hearted creditor, throughthe retrenchment of my _own_ expenses, and my temporary retreat to thesolitute of my Irish estate must be the result; provided that by thissacrifice I purchace your acquiescence to my wishes respecting thedestiny of your future life, and an unreserved abjuration of the follieswhich have governed your past.
Yours, &c. &c.
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