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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Sir Boyle Roche

  • [An Irish soldier and politician; entered the army, and served with distinction in America; resigning his commission, obtained a seat in the Irish Parliament, “where, through his pleasant interference, the most angry debates were frequently concluded with peals of laughter;” was master of ceremonies at Dublin Castle; died 1807.]
  • I would gladly sacrifice, Mr. Speaker, not only a part of the Constitution, but the whole of it, to preserve the remainder.

  • Arguing in favor of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill in Ireland. Büchmann quotes Deputy Kell in the Saxon Parliament: “I am indeed ignorant of the government’s reasons, but I disapprove of them” (Ich kenne zwar die Gründe der Regierung nicht, aber ich misbillige sie). President Harrison’s message as originally delivered congratulated Congress that “the United States are at peace with all the world, and sustain amicable relations with the rest of mankind.”
  • When painting the dangers of an invasion of the French, during the Revolution, Sir Boyle exclaimed, “The murderous marshal-law men [Marsellais] would break in, cut us to mincemeat, and throw our bleeding heads upon that table to stare us in the face.”—Recollections of Sir Jonah Barrington, p. 136. He was surpassed by the orator in one of the sections of Paris, during the Revolution, who said, “I would take my own head by the hair, cut it off, and presenting it to the despot, would say to him, ‘Tyrant, behold the act of a free man!’”—TAINE: French Revolution. This reduces the miraculous walk of St. Denis, with his head in his hands (see Madame du Deffand), to a mere “constitutional.”
  • The following declaration of Sir Boyle is to be commended as a happy illustration of mixed metaphor: “Mr. Speaker, I smell a rat; I see him floating in the air; but mark me, sir, I will nip him in the bud.”
  • Except in his bulls, Sir Boyle would never attempt the impossible. When some one said that the sergeant-at-arms should have stopped a man in the rear of the house when he was trying to catch him in front, Roche asked, “Did he think the sergeant-at-arms could be, like a bird, in two places at once?”
  • He was shocked at the tempora et mores of “young Ireland:” “The progress of the times, Mr. Speaker, is such, that little children who can neither walk nor talk may be seen running about the streets, cursing their Maker!”
  • When Curran exclaimed in the Irish Parliament, “I am the guardian of my own honor,” Sir Boyle Roche wished the gentlemen “joy of his sinecure appointment.”—Recollections of Sir Jonah Barrington. It is sometimes quoted, “Faith, I knew the honorable gentleman would accept a sinecure.”
  • On a motion to expel Lord Edward Fitzgerald for disrespect to the lord lieutenant, Roche expressed an idea more happily than would have been expected of him: “He is a gentleman; and none such should be asked to make an apology, because no gentleman could mean to give offence.”—Ibid.
  • “The best way,” he said, “to avoid danger is to meet it plump.”—Ibid., p. 137.