Speaking of his having very frequently appeared at public meetings during the first year of his Consulship, and of his having since that refrained from such appearances, he continues: “I was doubtful as to the way my being so much en evidence might be relished at home. Of late public matters have been on so ticklish a footing, that all the less a British functionary was seen the better.
“In literature I have done nothing barring a couple of articles on Ireland and the Irish in America, a subject I have much at heart. But much as I feel for them and with them, I refused dining with my countrymen on St. Patrick’s Day because they had the gaucherie (of which I had previous notice), to turn the festive meeting into a political one, by giving ‘O’Connell and success to repeal’ as one of their ‘regular’ toasts, and by leaving out the Queen’s health, which they gave when I dined with them last year.”
Then after detailed notices of the movements of his sons, he goes on:
“We have many plans in perspective, Niagara, Canada, Halifax, the mountains, the springs, the sea; the result of which you shall know as soon as we receive a true and faithful account of your adventures in just as many pages as you can afford; but Tom must in the meantime send me a long letter ... Tell Tom I have half resolved to give up punning and take to repartee. A young fellow said to me the other day, ’Ah! Mr. Consul (as I am always called), I wish I could discover a new pleasure.’ ‘Try virtue!’ was my reply. A pompous ex-Governor said swaggeringly to me at the last dinner party at which I assisted, ’Well, Mr. Consul, I suppose you Europeans think us semi-civilised here in America?’ ‘Almost!’ said I. Now ask Tom if that was not pretty considerable smart. But assure him at the same time, it is nothing at all to what I could do in the way of impertinence! Need I say how truly and affectionately we all love you?
* * * * *
I wrote back that I would enter the lists with him in the matter of impertinence; and as a sample told him that I thought he had better return to the punning.
I could, I doubt not, find among my mother’s papers some further letters that might be worth printing or quoting. But my waning space warns me that I must not indulge myself with doing so.
I said at the beginning of the last chapter, that during the period, some of the recollections of which I had been chronicling, the two greatest sorrows I had ever known had befallen me. A third came subsequently. But that belonged to a period of my life which does not fall within the limits I have assigned to these reminiscences. Of the first, the death of my mother, I have spoken. The other, the death of my wife, followed it at no great distance, and was of course a far more terrible one. She