Page images




[MARCH 30TH, 1864.]

THE EARL OF CARLISLE, who was accompanied by the Marquis

and Marchioness of Kildare, was received by Lord Talbot de Malahide, the Lord Justice of Appeal, John Lentaigne, Esq., and Joseph Boyce, Esq., Trustees.

ALEXANDER BOYLE, Esq., Honorary Secretary to the Dargan Statue Committee having read the Address,

The EARL OF CARLISLE directed the Statue to be unveiled. He said:


We have just performed our part together in a most just and becoming tribute to the excellent public servant and citizen whose Statue we have now unveiled. His natural modesty, almost as remarkable as his merit, has prevented our seeing him at my side this day; but at all events I believe the talent of another citizen of Dublin, Mr. Farrell, enables us to recognise the form and features of William Dargan. The erection of public statues has always been considered to be the highest honour which free states and cities can pay to living merit. They have been frequently erected to kings and emperors, to warriors, statesmen, patriots, and, in Dublin at least, we may say to poets. But never could there have been a more appropriate memorial than that which we now place upon this ground to William Dargan. It is true that he wears neither the diadem of monarchs, nor the laurels of conquerors; his hands do not "sway the rod of empire, or wake the living lyre;" and we cannot pretend that his sturdy form and truthful lineaments are exactly cast in the mould of the Apollo Belvidere. But we raise his Statue because he supplies a memorable instance of how a simple, earnest, honest man, without any help from birth or fortune, by the energetic exercise. of the faculties which God has given him, may not only raise himself to a commanding level beyond his own original position, but may also confer

signal benefits upon the men of his day, and upon the country which has learned to be proud of him, and thus prides to show it. And we place his Statue here, because on this very ground before us it was that the patient zeal, the strong faith, the disinterested liberality of Mr. Dargan brought to a successful issue that great Dublin Exhibition which gave a fresh impulse to the undertakings of art and science, of which we sce the imposing monuments before us. In the adjoining building, which we are about to open, we shall pay fitting honour to those fine arts which bespeak the highest progress of refinement, and adorn the summit of the social column. While thus recognising upon our way these illustrious workmen, we do well to mark that the true basis of all national prosperity is to be found in the steady industry of which William Dargan was so eminently the type and teacher.

An Address having been presented by the Trustees of the National Gallery,



I return my very sincere thanks to the Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland for the Address they have presented to me, and for the share they have allotted me in the gratifying and auspicious proceedings of the day. The Address fully and clearly recounts the history of the origin and rise of this undertaking till the present hour; and I feel sure that no one can survey the noble proportions of the building which has been thus completed, or the works of art which already adorn its walls, without feeling conscious of the difficulties which must have been encountered, and grateful for the zeal, liberality, and judgment by which they have been thus far surmounted. No slight share of these qualities has been applied to this honourable and patriotic task by my distinguished colleague the Lord Chancellor. would be hardly open to me to signalize the names of other contributors; but it will be allowed to me, in passing, to lament that the imposing assemblage now gathered here could not have been further graced by the venerable form and genial encouragement of the late Earl of Charlemont. Such losses naturally suggest that the delightful arts to which this building is more especially consecrated, painting and sculpture, besides their other happy influences in charming the eye, refining the taste, and elevating the soul of successive generations, have the inestimable privilege of transmitting to distant time the lineaments of de

parted greatness, genius, and virtue. The previous course of Irish history has scarcely run smooth enough to foster the growth of galleries or museums of the fine arts; while, at the same time, neither the Irish mind nor the Irish hand have shown any want of susceptibility or adaptation to them. It is my very earnest wish that the institution which we now inaugurate may, by the display of foreign excellence, supply a fresh incentive and starting post to your own. It is now my pleasing office to declare the National Gallery of Ireland open.



[APRIL 19TH, 1864.]

THE noble Chairman, the EARL OF CARLISLE, on rising to pro

[blocks in formation]

said he was unwilling, even in giving that toast, to divert from the immediate purpose of the day; but Shakspeare himself supplied, in part, a most fitting description of the character of the Monarch now happily reigning over this country:

"She shall be

"A pattern to all princes living with her,

"And all that shall succeed.

All princely graces,


"With all the virtues that attend the good,

"Shall still be doubled on her; truth shall nurse her,

"Holy and heavenly thoughts still counsel her."

The Chairman next gave

"The Prince and Princess of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family."

He said that with respect to the illustrious couple who headed the toast, it would not be inappropriate to resort to the court of Denmark for a description of them. He would characterize them as

"The expectancy and rose of the fair State,
"The glass of fashion, and the mould of form,
"The observed of all observers."

The Chairman next rose and said:-Ladies and Gentlemen, I come now to what we sometimes hear called "the toast of the evening"yes, and the toast of the year; and I may with truth call it the toast of my life. This may give a hint to me, before I say one word more, that I ought in some way to account for being where I am. I will make no excuse for my own unworthiness, because, if we come to that, who can be deemed worthy to speak in behalf of Shakspeare? Plato might write of Socrates, but who could be the interpreter of Shakspeare? I believe that I am wholly indebted for the signal honour I am now possessed of to the circumstance of my having filled the office of Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests when some negotiations were being carried on respecting the purchase of Shakspeare's house in this town, which apparently established a kindly feeling between me and the inhabitants of Stratford-upon-Avon, which may have naturally led to their recurring to their previous recollections in connexion with the present celebration. In my case, it is a distinction which, as it was the last I should have anticipated for myself, I also thought the last that ought to be declined. I pass on to worthier themes. I heartily approve the idea of this festival. I think the leading events, epochs, and persons of this our earth require their occasional commemoration. Life is stagnant enough; men and women are commonplace enough, to avoid the risk of such disturbances cropping up too frequently. Least of all can the nation which boasts of Shakspeare fear to misplace her homage; and as I think it right that such a celebration should be held, I am not less clear that the right place to hold it in was Stratford-upon-Avon-his own Stratford-uponAvon-that Stratford-upon-Avon around which all we know of Shakspeare all except his undying works, is exclusively clustered-here, on about the most central ground of his own fair England, where I cannot but fancy that the whole impress of the scenery and rural life around is so unmistakeably English, that we like to be reminded how home-like and special and insular was the cradle of that poet for whom we claim the mastery over the universal heart of man, the password over the earth, and the many worlds beyond it. We are following, too, the good English rule of precedent, which was set for us by the celebration at Stratford in the last century, mainly under the auspices of him who seems to be universally acknowledged, out of the long line of illustrious players, of either sex, dead or living, who have distinguished, and in some instances identified themselves with the leading characters of

Shakspeare, to have held the foremost place as the interpreter of Shakspeare-David Garrick. But since that well-timed homage of the England of the eighteenth century to the memory of Shakspeare, with what colossal strides has his fame advanced in the estimation of mankind! In our own country, at the previous period, the public taste still allowed the representation of his plays to be overlaid by the clumsy alterations and tinsel additions of Dryden, of Cibber, and of Garrick himself—Et tu, Brute! I need not point out the gratifying contrast which the reverential and affectionate retention and restoration of the original text, and let me add the scrupulous attention to the whole keeping and chronology of the minutest accessories of the representation, supplies in our days. Then, abroad, the middle of the last century was the time when fast and fierce flew the arrows against the alleged barbarism of Shakspeare, aimed from the sarcastic armoury of Voltaire, which did not spare higher things than Shakspeare himself. Consult the first living names in the brilliant literature of France, and mark, not how altered, but how reversed the tone is in which Shakspeare is now spoken of and judged. As to Germany, I believe her boast is that she reveres, understands, and fathers him even more thoroughly than ourselves. I believe I may cite Goethe as the most representative name in the varied and teeming range of German literature; how does he designate Shakspeare? As the greatest traveller in the journey of life. Happily any endeavour to define or gauge the genius of Shakspeare would be much beyond my mark as it would be beyond the limits and requirements of a scene like this. I think he would be a very clumsy worshipper at his immortal shrine who would not admit that his merits and beauties, while they are transcendant, are still unequal; and that in the whole range of his thirty-six admitted plays, in some of these he not only falls below his own level, but that of several of his contemporaries and successors. But take him in his height, and who may approach him? Presumptuous as the endeavour may appear to classify, there would seem to be a few great tragedies which occupy summits of their own-" Macbeth," "Hamlet," "Lear," "Othello;" I feel we may take our stand within that unassailable quadrilateral, and give our challenge to all the world. I feel indeed tempted to upbraid myself when I think of all the outlying realms of strength and comeliness which I thus seem to leave outside the stately forms of Roman heroes, the chivalry marshalled around our Plantagenet kings, the wit of Mercutio, Beatrice, and Falstaff, the

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »