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- - S K E TCH
LIFE OF ALEXANDER M. SULLIVAN, M. P.
MR. A. M. SULLIVAN was born in 1830, in one of the most picturesque spots in the south of Ireland, at the head of Bantry Bay, where is situated the village of Bantry. In one of his books he tells us how, roaming among the mountains and sea-girt crags of his native place, his soul drank in a love of its magnificent scenery which nourished his artistic instinct and perhaps impelled him in the choice of his future profession. His parents were in an humble walk of life, but, like many an Irish family who have fallen upon evil days, they cherished traditions of a time when their people were among the great of the land. The shadow of the famine fell over Mr. Sullivan's youth ; and this, perhaps, imparted to his character a certain sad cast which is to be noticed among most of the Irish people who passed through that terrible experience, and which is missing from the brighter enthusiasm of the present generation. "My native district,” he writes in New Ireland, " figures iargely in the gloomy record of that dreadful time. I saw the horrible phantasmagoriawould to God it were but that !-pass before my eyes. Blank, stolid dismay-a sort of stupor—fell upon the people, contrasting remarkably with the fierce energy put forth a year before. It was no uncommon sight to see the cottier and his little family seated on the garden fence, gazing all day long in gloomy silence at the blighted plot that had been their last hope. Nothing could arouse i hem. If you spoke they answered not. If you tried to cheer them they shook their heads. I never saw so sudden and so terrible a transformation."
Mr. Sullivan had determined to adopt the career of an artist, and in 1853 he left Bantry for Dublin to take up a position on the staff of an illustrated paper. During this period hé contributed sometimes to the Nation-the Nation revived by Charles Gavan Duffy after his release from prison. In 1855 the treachery of Keogh and Sadlier and their “ Brass Band” had left Irish politics in such a hopeless condition that Mr. Duffy threw up his post and went to Australia. Two years later his successor, John Cashel Hoey, retired from the paper. It was to such a heritage of despair A. M. Sullivan succeeded. He took the Nation on his shoulders as its sole proprietor, and began a heroic struggle to revivify a national public opinion in Ireland. To a man who was not a very incarnation of hopefulness the task would have been impossible. It is not overstating the case to say that but for A. M. Sullivan the work of O'Connell and Young Ireland would have been in vain and the Irish movements of to-day would never have been possible, or at least would have been indefinitely postponed. The appeal to conspiracy, to secret plannings for armed revolution, was the only appeal that the people, disgusted with the Parliamentary traitors, would listen to. But A. M. Sullivan condemned conspiracy and every resort to physical force with a religious ardor. What, then, did he hope to do? To restore confidence in, to restore interest in, constitutional agitation! Wild as the hope appeared, it was, nevertheless, this that he succeeded in accomplishing. Aided by a band of fellow-workers, chief of whom was his brother, Mr. T. D. Sullivan, the poet (at present proprietor of the Nation and member of Parliament for Westmeath), he worked at this task like a giant, advocating every movement or enterprise that tended to honor the Irish name or foster the spirit of genuine Irish patriotism. He even started a daily paper, the Morning News, with the aid of his friend, Mr. Donegan, the patriotic Dublin jeweller, and for a time made this organ the most dreaded foe of the Whigs and the “Anglo-Irish Irishmen.” Mr. Sullivan in due time shared the inevitable lot of the Irish patriot. He was arrested and imprisoned. In February, 1868, he, with John Martin, James J. Lalor, and Thomas Bracken, was indicted by the government on a charge of seditious assembling for participation in the erection of the monument to the “Manchester Martyrs"-Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien. The jury disagreed; but Mr. Sullivan was indicted on a separate charge in the same court, and found guilty of publishing seditious matter in the Weekly News. This paper was a sort of tender to the Nation, and had denounced the packing of juries. Mr. Sullivan was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and to give security in £ 1,000 for his good behavior for two years after his release. He was at this time a member of the Dublin Corporation, and that body, on his being sentenced, offered to elect him Lord Mayor, but he declined the honor. While he was in jail a committee had been formed to present him with a national testimonial, but he declined to receive it, as it took a pecuniary shape; and a sum of £ 300 which had been collected in the meantime he caused to be made the nucleus of a fund for the erection of the statue of Grattan, by Foley, which now stands in front of the old Parliament House on College Green.
In May, 1870, Mr. Sullivan was one of the most active promoters of the Home Rule Association. He was returned to Parliament for the County Louth in 1874, defeating a cabinet minister, the Right Hon. Chichester Fortescue, now Lord Carlingford. Mr. Sullivan revealed the possession of extraordinary power as a Parliamentary orator, and soon acquired a reputation as one of the most eloquent speakers and ablest statesmen in the House. In 1880, on the election of Mr. Parnell for Cork, Mr. Sullivan was unanimously chosen to succeed him in the representation of Meath. He held this position until, to the regret of all parties, failing health compelled him to resign it and cease taking an active share in Irish politics.
Mr. Sullivan's literary works are widely popular. His STORY OF IRELAND is thc best introduction to Irish history that can he put into the hands of a young student.
Mr. Sullivan was a member of the English bar. This was because an anti-national clique denied him admission to the bar of his native country. He was steadily conquering the prejudices which met him in England on account of his share in Irish politics, and his great abilities were securing him an increasing practice, when his career was suddenly cut off during a visit to Ireland. He died on Irish soil, in Dublin, on the 17th of October, 1884. The Irish benchers had, a few years previously, repented of their churlishness and made him a member of the Irish bar. Two of the most eloquent orations heard in the Dublin law-courts since the days of Curren were delivered by him in this capacity-one at the state trials of the Land-Leaguers, the other in defence of Mr. William O'Brien, M. P., of United Ireland, who was indicted for a similar offence as he himself had been in the same court fourteen years before.
In addition to Irish politics Mr. Sullivan took an active interest in all questions of social reform, and was the most powerful ally Cardinal Manning had on the temperance question in England. He was a most fervent Catholic, and his well-known religious zeal lent additional weight to his opinion when he gave it—as he did not hesitate to do on more than one occasion-against the position taken by certain prominent ecclesiastics in Irish politics. On the reception of the Simeoni circular condemning the Parnell fund, Cardinal Manning and Mr. Sullivan forwarded to Rome a joint letter, putting the case justly before the Holy See, and this document is mainly accountable for the more favorable attitude of the Holy see on the Irish question since.
In 1882 Mr. Sullivan visited America, by order of his phy. sicians; but so thoroughly devoted and unselfish was this patriot that, at the request of the Irish leaders, he consented to convert this health-trip into a lecturing tour for the information of the American people as to the true merits of the Irish question. An idea of the sacrifice he thus made may be gathered from the fact that three times during this tour his health broke down in a seriously alarming manner. But he stuck to his task with characteristic pluck and tenacity. It was a brilliant tour in every sense of the word. Wherever he appeared he was paid the bighest marks of respect in the power of the American people to bestow. Governors of states, mayors of cities, Catholic bishops, and clergymen of every denomination crowded his platforms to do him honor.
He married in 1861 an American lady of rare gifts and accomplishments, a daughter of the late Mr. John Donovan, of New Orleans. Mrs. Sullivan and a large family survive him. The generous Irish nation has made itself the guardian of Mr. Sullivan's family. The very week of his death a national testimonial was started which reached noble proportions before it was closed. The subscription-list of this testimonial gives an indication of the respect in which Mr. Sullivan was held. Men of every shade of politics in England, Ireland, America, and Australia are represented on it--Mr. Gladstone, the Liberal Prime Minister ; Sir Stafford Northcote, the leader of the Tory opposition; the Protestant archbishop, the Catholic cardinal, Mr. Parnell, and Earl Spencer—and men of every social grade, from the Lord-Lieutenant to the poorest peasant.
T. P. G.