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Title: Essay on Irish Bulls

Date of first publication: 1808

Author: Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817)

Author: Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849)

Date first posted: June 18, 2013

Date last updated: June 18, 2013

Faded Page eBook #20130643

This ebook was produced by: David Edwards, David T. Jones & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

(This book was produced from scanned images of public domain material from the Google Book Search project.)










H. Bryer, Printer, Bridge-street, Blackfriars.











F. R. S. and M. R. I. A.







Summos posse viros, & magna exempla daturos,

Vervecum in patria, crassoque sub aëre nasci.















When authors receive any degree of encouragement from the public, it should incite them to increasing diligence: a third edition of the Essay on Irish Bulls has been called for, and the authors of this Essay have taken pains to correct and shorten it.

Edgeworth's Town,

Sept. 1807.






Originality of Irish Bulls examined


Irish Newspapers


The Criminal Law of Bulls and Blunders


Little Dominick


The Bliss of Ignorance


Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn


Practical Bulls


The Dublin Shoeblack


The Hibernian Mendicant


Irish Wit and Eloquence


The Brogue


Bath Coach Conversation


Bath Coach Conversation


The Irish Incognito




Page 40. For CHAPTER V. read CHAPTER III.



What mortal, what fashionable mortal, is there, who has not, in the midst of a formidable circle, been reduced to the embarrassment of having nothing to say? Who is there, that has not felt those oppressive fits of silence, which ensue after the weather, and the fashions, and the politics, and the scandal, and all the common-place topics of the day have been utterly exhausted? Who is there, that, at such a time, has not tried in vain to call up an idea, and found that none would come when they did call—or that all that came were impertinent, and must be rejected, some as too grave, others too gay, some too vulgar, some too refined for the hearers, some relating to persons, others to circumstances, that must not be mentioned?—Not one will do!—and all this time the silence lasts, and the difficulty of breaking it increases every instant in an incalculable proportion.

Let it be some comfort to those whose polite sensibility has laboured under such distress, to be assured, that they need never henceforward fear to be reduced to similar dilemmas. They may be ensured for ever against such dangers at the slight premium, and upon the easy condition of perusing the following little volume. It will satisfy them that there is a subject, which still affords inexhausted and inexhaustible sources of conversation, suited to all tastes, all ranks, all individuals, democratic, aristocratic, commercial, or philosophic; suited to every company which can be combined, purposely or fortuitously, in this great metropolis, or in any of the most remote parts of England, Wales, or Scotland. There is a subject, which dilates the heart of every true Briton, which relaxes his muscles, however rigid, to a smile, which opens his lips, however closed, to conversation. There is a subject, "which frets another's spleen to cure our own"—and which makes even the angelic part of the creation laugh themselves mortal. For who can forbear to laugh at the bare idea of an irish bull?

Nor let any one apprehend, that this subject can ever become trite and vulgar. Custom cannot stale its infinite variety. It is in the main obvious, and palpable enough for every common understanding; yet it leads to disquisitions of exquisite subtlety, it branches into innumerable ramifications, and involves consequences of surprising importance; it may exercise the ingenuity of the subtlest wit, the fancy of the oddest humourist, the imagination of the finest poet, and the judgment of the most profound metaphysician. Moreover this happy subject is enveloped in all that doubt and confusion, which are so favourable to the reputation of disputants, and which secures the glorious possibility of talking incessantly without being stopped short by a definition or a demonstration. For much as we have all heard and talked of irish bulls, it has never yet been decided what it is that constitutes a bull—Incongruity of ideas, says one. But this supposition touches too closely upon the definition of wit, which according to the best authorities, Locke, Burke, and Stewart, consists in an unexpected assemblage of ideas, apparently discordant, but in which some point of resemblance or aptitude is suddenly discovered.

Then, perhaps says another, the essence of a bull lies in confusion of ideas.—This sounds plausible in theory, but it will not apply in practice; for confusion of ideas is common to both countries: for instance, was there not some slight confusion of ideas in the mind of that english student, who, when he was asked what progress he had made in the study of medicine, replied, "I hope I shall soon be qualified to be a physician, for I think I am now able to cure a child?"

To amend our bill, suppose we insert the word laughable, and say that a laughable confusion of ideas constitutes a bull. But have not we a laughable confusion of ideas in our english poet Blackmore's famous lines in prince Arthur?—

"A painted vest prince Vortigern had on,

Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won."

We are sensible that to many people the most vulgar irish bull would appear more laughable merely from its being irish, therefore we cannot make the propensity to laughter in one man the criterion of what is ridiculous in another; though we have a precedent for this mode of judging in the laws of England, which are allowed to be the perfection of human reason. If a man swear, that his neighbour had put him in bodily fear, he may have the cause of his terrour sent to jail; thus the feelings of the plaintiff become the measure of the defendant's guilt. As we cannot extend this convenient principle to all matters of taste, and all subjects of risibility, we are still compelled to acknowledge, that no accurate definition of a bull has yet been given. The essence of an irish bull must be of the most ethereal nature, for notwithstanding the most indefatigable research it has hitherto escaped from analysis. The crucible always breaks in the long expected moment of projection: we have nevertheless the courage to recommence the process in a new mode. Perhaps by ascertaining what it is not, we may at last discover what it is: we must distinguish the genuine from the spurious, the original from all imitations, the indigenous from the exotic, in short it must be determined in what an irish bull essentially differs from a blunder, or in what irish blunders specifically differ from english blunders, and from those of all other nations. To elucidate these points, or to prove to the satisfaction of all competent judges, that they are beyond the reach of the human understanding, is the object of the following Essay concerning the nature of Bulls and Blunders.


Originality of Irish Bulls examined.


The difficulty of selecting from the vulgar herd of irish bulls one, that shall be entitled to the prize, from the united merits of preeminent absurdity, and indisputable originality, is greater than hasty judges may imagine. Many bulls, reputed to be bred and born in Ireland, are of foreign extraction; and many more, supposed to be unrivalled in their kind, may be matched in all their capital points: for instance, there is not a more celebrated bull than Paddy Blake's. When Paddy heard an english gentleman speaking of the fine echo at the lake of Killarney, which repeats the sound forty times, he very promptly observed,—"Faith that's nothing at all to the echo in my father's garden, in the county of Galway; if you say to it—'How do you do, Paddy Blake?' it will answer,'Pretty well I thank you, sir.'"

Now this echo of Paddy Blake's, which has long been the admiration of the world, is not a prodigy unique in its kind; it can be matched by one recorded in the immortal works of the great lord Verulam.[1]

"I remember well," says this father of philosophy, "that when I went to the echo at port Charenton, there was an old parisian that took it to be the work of spirits, and of good spirits; 'for,' said he, 'call Satan, and the echo will not deliver back the devil's name but will say 'Va t'en.'"

The parisian echo is surely superiour to the hibernian! Paddy Blake's simply understood and practised the common rules of good breeding; but the Port Charenton echo is "instinct with spirit," and endowed with a nice moral sense.

Amongst the famous bulls recorded by the illustrious Joe Miller, there is one which has been continually quoted as an example of original irish genius.—An english gentleman was writing a letter in a coffee house, and perceiving that an irishman stationed behind him was taking that liberty which Parmenio used with his friend Alexander, instead of putting his seal upon the lips of the curious impertinent, the english gentleman thought proper to reprove the hibernian, if not with delicacy, at least with poetical justice: he concluded writing his letter in these words: "I would say more, but a damned tall irishman is reading over my shoulder every word I write."

"You lie, you scoundrel," said the self-convicted hibernian.

This blunder is unquestionably excellent; but it is not originally irish: it comes with other riches from the east, as the reader may find by looking into a book by M. Galland, entitled, "The Remarkable Sayings of the Eastern Nations."

"A learned man was writing to a friend; a troublesome fellow was beside him, who was looking over his shoulder at what he was writing.—The learned man, who perceived this, continued writing in these words, 'If an impertinent chap, who stands beside me, were not looking at what I write, I would write many other things to you, which should be known only to you and to me.'

"The troublesome fellow, who was reading on, now thought it incumbent upon him to speak, and said 'I swear to you, that I have not read or looked at what you are writing,'

"The learned man replied, 'Blockhead as you are, why then do you say to me what you are now saying[2]?'"

Making allowance for the difference of manners in eastern and northern nations, there is, certainly, such a similarity between this oriental anecdote and Joe Miller's story, we may conclude, that the latter is stolen from the former. Now, an irish bull must be a species of blunder peculiar to Ireland; those that we have hitherto examined, though they may be called irish bulls by the ignorant vulgar, have no right, title, or claim to such a distinction. We should invariably exclude from that class all blunders, which can be found in another country. For instance, a speech of the celebrated irish beauty, lady C——, has been called a bull; but as a parallel can be produced in a speech of an english nobleman, it tells for nothing. When her ladyship was presented at court, his majesty, George the Second, politely hoped, "that, since her arrival in England, she had been entertained with the gayeties of London."

"O yes, please your majesty, I have seen every sight in London, worth seeing, except a coronation."

This naivete is certainly not equal to that of the english earl marshal, who, when his king found fault with some arrangement at his coronation, said—

"Please your majesty, I hope it will be better next time."

A naivete of the same species entailed a heavy tax upon the inhabitants of Beaune, in France. Beaune is famous for burgundy; and Henry the Fourth, passing through his kingdom, stopped there, and was well entertained by his loyal subjects. His majesty praised the burgundy which they sat before him—"It was excellent! it was admirable!"

"O, sire!" cried they, "do you think this excellent? we have much finer burgundy than this."

"Have you so? then you can afford to pay for it," replied Harry the Fourth; and he laid a double tax thenceforward upon the burgundy of Beaune.

Of the same class of blunders is the following speech, which we actually heard not long ago from an Irishman:—

"Please your worship he sent me to the devil, and I came straight to your honour."

We thought this an original irish blunder, till we recollected its prototype in Marmontel's Annette and Lubin. Lubin concludes his harangue with, "The bailiff sent us to the devil, and we come to put ourselves under your protection, my lord[3]."

The french, at least in former times, were celebrated for politeness; yet we meet with a naïve compliment of a frenchman, which would have been accounted a bull if it had been found in Ireland.

A gentleman was complimenting madame Denis on the manner in which she had just acted Zara.—"To act that part," said she, "a person should be young, and handsome." "Ah, madam!" replied the complimenter naïvement, "you are a complete proof of the contrary[4]."

Il faudroit, dit elle, 'etre belle et jeune'—'Ah madame!' reprit le complimenteur naïvement—'vous êtes bien la preuve du contraire.']

We know not any original irish blunder superior to this, unless it be that which lord Orford pronounced to be the best bull, that he ever heard.

"I hate that woman," said a gentleman looking at one who had been his nurse, "I hate that woman, for she changed me at nurse."

Lord Orford particularly admires this bull because in the confusion of the blunderer's ideas he is not clear even of his personal identity. Philosophers will not perhaps be so ready as his lordship has been to call this a blunder of the first magnitude. Those who have never been initiated into the mysteries of metaphysics may have the presumptuous ignorance to fancy, that they understand what is meant by the common words I, or me; but the able metaphysician knows better than lord Orford's changeling how to prove to our satisfaction that we know nothing of the matter.

"Personal identity," says Locke, "consists not in the identity of substance, but in the identity of consciousness, wherein Socrates and the present mayor of Quinborough agree, they are the same person; if the same Socrates, sleeping and waking, do not partake of the same consciousness, Socrates waking and sleeping is not the same person, and to punish Socrates waking for what sleeping Socrates thought, and waking Socrates was never conscious of, would be no more of right than to punish one twin for what his brother twin did, whereof he knew nothing, because their outsides are so like that they could not be distinguished; for such twins have been seen[5]."

We may presume that our hibernian's consciousness could not retrograde to the time when he was changed at nurse; consequently there was no continuity of identity between the infant and the man who expressed his hatred of the nurse for perpetrating the fraud. At all events the confusion of identity, which excited lord Orford's admiration in our hibernian, is by no means unprecedented in France, England, or ancient Greece, and consequently it cannot be an instance of national idiosyncracy, or an irish bull. We find a similar blunder in Spain, in the time of Cervantes:—

"Pray tell me, squire," says the duchess in Don Quixote, "is not your master the person whose history is printed under the name of the sage Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, who professes himself the admirer of one Dulcinea del Toboso?"

"The very same, my lady," answered Sancho; "and I myself am that very squire of his, who is mentioned, or ought to be mentioned in that history, unless they have changed me in the cradle."

In Moliere's Amphitrion there is a dialogue between Mercure and Socie evidently taken from the attic Lucian. Socie being completely puzzled out of his personal identity, if not out of his senses, says literally "of my being myself I begin to doubt in good earnest, yet when I feel myself, and when I recollect myself, it seems to me that I am I."[6]

We see that the puzzle about identity proves at last to be of grecian origin.

It is really edifying to observe how those things, which have long been objects of popular admiration, shrink and fade when exposed to the light of strict examination. An experienced critic proposed, that a work should be written to inquire into the pretensions of modern writers to original invention, to trace their thefts, and to restore the property to the ancient owners. Such a work would require powers and erudition beyond what can be expected from any ordinary individual; the labour must be shared amongst numbers, and we are proud to assist in ascertaining the rightful property even of bulls and blunders: though without pretending, like some literary blood hounds, to follow up a plagiarism, where common sagacity is at a fault.

[1] Natural History, century III, p. 191—Bacon produces it to show, that echoes will not readily return the letter S.

[2] "Un savant écrivoit à un ami, & un importun étoit à coté de lui qui regardoit par dessus l'épaule ce qu'il écrivoit. Le savant qui s'en apperçut écrivit ceci à la place: Si un impertinent qui est à mon côté ne regardoit pas ce qui j'écris, je vous écrirois encore plusieurs choses qui ne doivent être sues que de vous & de moi. L'importun qui lisoit toujours prit la parole et dit: 'Je vous jure que je n'ai regardé ni lû ce que vous écrivois.' Le savant repartit, 'Ignorant que vous êtes, pourquoi me dites vous donc ce que vous dites?'"

Les Paroles remarquables des Orientaux—traduction de leurs ouvrages en Arabe, en Persan, & en Turc, (suivant la copie imprimée à Paris) à la Haye, chez Louis & Henry Vandole, marchand libraires, dans le Pooten, à l'enseigne du Port Royal, M.DC.XCIV.

[3] "Le bailli nous donne au diable, et nous nous recommandons à vous, monseigneur."

[4] On fa soit compliment à madame Denis de la façon dont elle venoit de jouer Zaire.

[5] Locke's Essay concerning the Human Understanding, fifteenth ed. vol. 1, p. 292.

[6] "De moi je commence à douter tout de bon, Pourtant quand je me tâte, & quand je me rappelle, Il me semble que je suis moi."


Irish Newspapers.


We presume that we have successfully disputed the claims imposed upon the public, in behalf of certain spurious, alien blunders, pretending to be native, original irish bulls; and we shall now with pleasure proceed to examine those which have better titles to notice. Even nonsense ceases to be worthy of attention and public favour, unless it be original.

"Dear lady Emily," says miss Allscrip, in the excellent comedy of the Heiress—"Dear lady Emily, don't you doat upon folly?"

"To ecstacy!" replies her ladyship, "I only despair of seeing it well kept up."

We flatter ourselves "there is no great danger of that," for we have the irish newspapers before us, where, no doubt, we shall find a fresh harvest of indigenous absurdity ripe for the sickle.

The first advertisement that meets our eye is promising.

It is the late proclamation of an irish mayor, in which we are informed, that certain business is to be transacted in that city "every Monday, (Easter Sunday only excepted)." This seems rather an unnecessary exception; but it is not an inadvertency, caused by any hurry of business in his worship, it is deliberately copied from a precedent set in England, by a baronet formerly well known in parliament, who, in the preamble to a bill, proposed, that certain regulations should take place "on every Monday (Tuesday excepted.)" We fear also, that an english mayor has been known to blunder.—Some years ago the mayor of a capital english city published a proclamation and advertisement, previous to the races, "that no gentleman will be allowed to ride on the course, but the horses that are to run." A mayor's blundering proclamation is not, however, worth half so much in the eye of ridicule, as a lord lieutenant's.

"A saint in crape is twice a saint in lawn."

A bull on the throne is worth twice as much as a bull in the chair.

"By the lord lieutenant and council of Ireland.

"A proclamation.


"Whereas the greatest economy is necessary in the consumption of all species of grain, and, especially, in the consumption of potatoes, &c.

"Given at the council chamber in Dublin."

This is the first time we have been informed, by authority, that potatoes are a species of grain; but we must accede to this new botanical arrangement, when published under such splendid auspices. The assertion, certainly, is not made in distinct terms, but all who understand the construction of language must imply the conclusion, that we draw from these premises. A general position is in the first member of the sentence laid down, "that the greatest economy is necessary in the consumption of all species of grain." A particular exemplification of the principle is made in the next clause—"especially in the consumption of potatoes."

The inference is as plain as can be made.

The next article in our newspaper is an advertisement of lands to be let to an improving tenant:—"A few miles from Cork, in a most sporting country, bounded by an uncommon fine turf bog, on the verge of which there are a number of fine lime kilns, where that manure may be had on very moderate terms, the distance for carriage not being many hundred yards. The whole lands being now in great heart, and completely laid down, entirely surrounded and divided by impenetrable furze ditches, made of quarried stone, laid edgeways."

It will be a matter of difficulty to the untravelled english reader, to comprehend how furze ditches can be made of quarried stones laid edgeways, or any way; and we fear that we should only puzzle his intellects still more, if we should attempt to explain to him the mysteries of irish ditching in the technical terms of the country. With the face of a ditch he may be acquainted, but to the back and gripe, and bottom of the gripe, and top of the back of a ditch, we fear he is still to be introduced.

We can never sufficiently admire these furze ditches made of quarried stones, they can, indeed, be found only in Ireland: but we have heard in England of things almost as extraordinary. Dr. Grey, in his erudite and entertaining notes on Hudibras, records the deposition of a lawyer, who in an action of battery told the judge, "that the defendant beat his client with a certain wooden instrument called an iron pestle." Nay to go further still, a wise annotator on the Pentateuch, named Peter Harrison, observed of Moses's two tables of stone, that they were made of shittim wood. The stone furze ditches are scarcely bolder instances of the catachresis, than the stone tables of shittim wood. This bold figure of rhetoric in an irish advertisement of an estate may lead us to expect, that hibernian advertisers may, in time, emulate the fame of Christie, the prince of auctioneers, whose fine descriptive powers can make more of an estate on paper, than ever was made of it in any other shape, except in the form of an ejectment. The fictions of law, indeed, surpass even the auctioneer's imagination; and a man may be said never to know the extent of his own possessions, until he is served with a process of ejectment. He then finds himself required to give up the possession of a multitude of barns, orchards, fish-ponds, horse-ponds, dwelling-houses, pigeon-houses, dove-cotes, out-houses, and appurtenances, which he never saw or heard of, and which are no where to be found upon the surface of the habitable globe; so that we cannot really express this english legal transaction, without being guilty of an irish bull, and saying, that the person ejected is ousted from places which he never entered.

To proceed with our newspapers.—The next advertisement is from a school-master: but we shall not descant upon its grammatical errours, because they are not blunders peculiar to irish school-masters. We have frequently observed, that the advertisements, of school-masters, even in England, are seldom free from solecisms; too much care in writing, it seems, is almost as bad as too little. In the preface of the dictionary of the french academy, there are, as it is computed by an able french critic, no less than sixteen faults; and in Harris, the celebrated grammarian's dedication of his Hermes, there is one bull, and almost as many faults as lines. It appears as if the most precise and learned writers sometimes, like the ladies in one of Congreve's plays, "run into the danger to avoid the apprehension."

After a careful scrutiny of the hibernian advertisements, we are compelled to confess, that we have not met with any blunders that more nearly resemble our notion of an irish bull than one, which some years ago appeared in our english papers. It was the title to an advertisement of a washing machine, in these words—"Every man his own washer-woman!" We have this day, Nov. 19, 1807, seen the following—"This day were published, Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, with a new edition of her Poems, some of which have never before appeared." And an eye witness assures us, that lately he saw an advertisement in the following terms, stuck up on the wall of an English coffee-house—"This coffee-house removed up stairs!"

A roman emperor used to draw his stairs up after him every night into his bed-chamber, and we have heard of throwing a house out of the windows, but drawing a whole house up into itself is new.

How can we account for such a blunder in an advertisement, on the wall of an English coffee-house, except by supposing that it was penned by an irish waiter? If that were the case it would be an admirable example of an irish bull! and, therefore, we had best take it for granted.

Let not any conscientious person be startled at the mode of reasoning, by which we have convicted an imaginary irish waiter of a real bull: it is at least as good, if not better logic, than that which was successfully employed in the time of the popish plot, to convict an irish physician of forgery. The matter is thus recorded by l'Estrange. The irish physician "was charged with writing a treasonable libel, but denied the thing, and appealed to the unlikeness of the characters. It was agreed, that there was no resemblance at all in the hands; but asserted that the doctor had two hands, his physic hand and his plot hand, and the one not a jot like the other. Now this was the doctor's plot hand, and it was insisted that because it was not like one of his hands, it must be like the other."

By this convenient mode of reasoning an irishman may at any time be convicted of any crime, or of any absurdity.

But what have we next in our newspaper—"Murder, Robbery, and Reward."—This seems a strange connection of things, according to our vulgar notions of distributive justice; but we are told that the wicked shall have their reward even in this world, and we suppose it is upon this principle, that over the stocks in a town in Ireland there appears this inscription—"A reward for vagabonds."

Upon proceeding further in our advertisement, which begins with "Murder, Robbery, and Reward," we find however, that, contrary to the just expectations raised by the title, the reward is promised not to the robbers and murderers, but to those who shall discover and prosecute them to conviction. Here we were led into error by that hasty mode of elision, which sometimes obtains in the titles even of as our english law processes; as, sci-fa, fi-fa, qui-tam, &c.; names which, to preserve the glorious uncertainty of the law, never refer to the sense, but to the first words of the writs.

In our newspaper a formidable list of unanimous resolutions of various committees and corps succeeds to the advertisement of murder, robbery, and reward, and we have, at the close of each day's business, thanksgivings in various formulas for the very proper, upright, or spirited behaviour of our worthy, gallant, or respected chairman. Now that a man may behave properly, or sit uprightly in a chair, we can readily comprehend; but what are we to understand by a spirited behaviour in a chair? Perhaps it alludes to the famous duel fought by a gouty irish gentleman in his armchair. As the gallant chairman actually in that position shot his adversary, it behoves us to understand the meaning of spirited behaviour in the chair.

We may, however, venture to hint, fas est et ab hoste doceri, that in the publications of corps and committees, this formula should be omitted—"Resolved unanimously, (with only one dissentient voice.)" Here the obloquy meant to rest on the one dissentient voice unfortunately falls upon the publishers of the disgrace, exposing them to the ridicule of resolving an irish bull. If this be a bull however, we are concerned to find, it is matched by that of the government of Munich, who published a catalogue of forbidden books, and afterwards, under heavy penalties forbade the reading of the catalogue. But this might be done in the hurry, occasioned by the just dread of revolutionary principles.

What shall we say for the blunder of a french academician, in a time of profound peace, who gave it as his opinion, that nothing should be read in the public sittings of the academy "par dela ce qui est imposé par les statuts: il motivait son avis en disant—En fait d'inutilités il ne faut que le necessaire." If this speech had been made by a member of the Royal Irish Academy, it would have had the honour to be noticed all over England as a bull. The honour to be noticed we say, in imitation of the exquisitely polite expression of a correspondent of the English Royal Society, who talks of "the earthquake that had the honour to be noticed by the Royal Society."

It will we fear be long before the Irish emerge so far from barbarism as to write in this style. The Irish are, however, we are happy to observe, making some little approaches to a refined and courtly style; kings, and, in imitation of them, great men, and all who think themselves great—a numerous class—speak and write as much as possible in the plural number, instead of the singular. Instead of I they always say we, instead of myour, according to the Italian idiom, which flatters this humour so far as to make it a point of indispensable politeness. It is, doubtless, in humble imitation of such illustrious examples, that an Irishman, of the lowest class, when he means to express that he is a member of a committee, says I am a Committee. Thus consolidating the power, wisdom, and virtue of a whole committee in his own person. Superiour even to the indian, who believes that he shall inherit the powers and virtues of his enemies after he has destroyed them[7]; this committee-man takes possession of the faculties of his living friends and associates. When some of the united men, as they called themselves, were examined, they frequently answered to the questions, who or what are you? I am a committee.

However extraordinary it may at first sound to hear one man assert that he is a whole committee, it is not more wonderful than that the whole parliament of Bourdeaux should be found in a one horse chair[8].

We forbear to descant farther upon Irish committeemen, lest, we should call to mind, merely by the similarity of name, the times when England had her committeemen, who were not perfectly free from all tinge of absurdity. It is remarkable, that in times of popular ferment, a variety of new terms are coined to serve purposes and passions of the moment. In the days of the english committeemen this practice had risen to such a height, that it was fair game for ridicule. Accordingly sir John Birkenhead about that time found it necessary to publish "The Children's Dictionary; an exact Collection of all New Words born since Nov. 3, 1640, in Speeches, Prayers, and Sermons, as well those that signify something, as nothing." We observe that it has been likewise found necessary to publish in France une Dictionnaire néologique, a dictionary of the new terms adopted since the revolution.

It must be supposed, that during the late disturbances in Ireland many cant terms have been brought into use, which are not yet to be reckoned amongst the acknowledged terms of the country. However absurd these may be, they are not for our purpose proper subjects of animadversion. Some countries have their birds of passage, and some their follies of passage, which it is scarcely worth while to shoot as they fly. It has often been said, that the language of a people is a just criterion of their progress in civilization; but we must not take a specimen of their vocabulary during the immediate prevalence of any transient passion or prejudice. It is to be hoped, that all party barbarisms in language will now be disused and forgotten; for some time has elapsed since we read the following article of country intelligence in a Dublin paper:—

"General —— scoured the country yesterday, but had not the good fortune to meet with a single rebel."

The author of this paragraph seems to have been a keen sportsman: he regrets the not meeting with a single rebel, as he would the not meeting with a single hare, or partridge; and he justly considers the human biped as fair game, to be hunted down by all who are properly qualified and licensed by government. To the English perhaps it may seem a strange subject of lamentation, that a general could not meet with a single rebel in the county of Wicklow, when they have so lately been informed from the high authority of a noble lord, that Ireland was so disturbed, that whenever he went out, he called as regularly for his pistols as for his hat and gloves. Possibly, however, this was only a figure of speech, like that of bishop Wilkins, who prophesied that the time would come when gentlemen, when they were to go a journey, would call for their wings as regularly as they call for their boots.—We believe that the hyperboles of the privy counsellor and the bishop are of equal magnitude.


"So Indian murd'rers hope to gain

The powers and virtues of the slain,

Of wretches they destroy"

[8] Vide Mémoires du Cardinal de Retz.


The Criminal Law of Bulls and Blunders.


Madame de Sevigné observes, that there are few people sufficiently candid, or sufficiently enlightened, to distinguish, in their judgments of others, between those faults and mistakes which proceed from manque d'esprit, and those which arise merely from manque d'usage. We cannot appreciate the talents or character of foreigners, without making allowance for their ignorance of our manners, of the idiom of our language, and the multifarious signification of some of our words. A french gentleman, who dined in London in company with the celebrated author of the Rambler, wishing to show him a mark of peculiar respect, drank Dr. Johnson's health in these words:—

"Your health, Mr. Vagabond."

Assuredly no well-judging Englishman would undervalue the Frenchman's abilities, because he mistook the meaning of the words Vagabond and Rambler; he would recollect, that in old English and modern French authors vagabond means wanderer, des eaux vagabondes is a phrase far from inelegant. But independently of this consideration no well bred gentleman would put a foreigner out of countenance by openly laughing at such a mistake: he would imitate the politeness of the Frenchman, who, when Dr. Moore said, "I am afraid the expression I have just used is not French," replied, "Non, monsieur—Mais il mérite bien de l'être." It would, indeed, be a great stretch of politeness to extend this to our irish neighbours: for no Irishism can ever deserve to be anglicised, though so many gallicisms have of late not only been naturalised in England, but even adopted by the most fashionable speakers and writers. The mistaking a feminine for a masculine noun, or a masculine for a feminine, must in all probability have happened to every Englishman, that ever opened his lips in Paris; yet without losing his reputation for common sense. But when a poor irish haymaker, who had but just learned a few phrases of the english language by rote, mistook a feminine for a masculine noun, and began his speech in a court of justice with these words—"My lord, I am a poor widow," instead of, "My lord, I am a poor widower," it was sufficient to throw a grave judge and jury into convulsions of laughter. It was formerly in law no murder to kill a merus Hibernicus; and it is to this day no offence against good manners to laugh at any of this species. It is of a thousand times more consequence to have the laugh than the argument on our side, as all those know full well, who have any experience in the management of the great or little vulgar. By the common custom and courtesy of England we have the laugh on our side: let us keep it by all means. All means are justifiable to obtain a great end, as all great men maintain in practice, if not in theory. We need not in imitating them have any scruples of conscience; we need not apprehend, that to ridicule our hibernian neighbours unmercifully is unfriendly or ungenerous. Nations, it has been well observed, are never generous in their conduct towards each other. We must follow the common custom of nations, where we have no law to guide our proceedings. We must therefore carefully continue the laudable practice of ridiculing the blunders, whether real or imaginary, of Irishmen. In conversation, Englishmen are permitted sometimes to blunder, but without ever being called blunderers. It would indeed be an intolerable restraint upon social intercourse, if every man were subject to be taxed for each inaccuracy of language—if he were compelled to talk, upon all occasions, as if he were amenable to a star-chamber of criticism, and surrounded by informers.

Much must be allowed in England for the license of conversation; but by no means must this conversation-license be extended to the Irish. If for instance, at the convivial hour of dinner, when men are not usually intent upon grammatical or mathematical niceties, an irish gentleman desires him, who "rules his roast," to cut the sirloin of beef horizontally downwards, let the mistake immediately be set down in our note-books, and conned over, and got by heart; and let it be repeated to all eternity as a bull. But if an english lady observe when the candles have long stood unsnuffed, that "those odious long wicks will soon grow up to the ceiling," she can be accused only of an errour of vision. We conjure our readers to attend to these distinctions in their intercourse with their hibernian neighbours: it must be done habitually and technically; and we must not listen to what is called reason; we must not enter into any argument, pro or con, but silence every irish oponent—if we can—with a laugh.

The abbé Girard, in his accurate work, "Synonymes François," makes a plausible distinction between un âne et un ignorant; he says, "On est âne par disposition: on est ignorant par défaut d'instruction."—An ignorant person may certainly, even in the very circumstances which betray his ignorance, evince considerable ability. For instance, the native Indian, who for the first time saw a bottle of porter uncorked, and who expressed great astonishment at the quantity of froth, which he saw burst from the bottle, and much curiosity to know whether it could all be put in again, showed even in his ignorance a degree of capacity, which in different situations might have saved his life, or have made his fortune. In the situation of the poor fisherman, and the great giant of smoke, who issued from the small vessel, well known to all versed in the Arabian Tales, such acuteness would have saved his life; and a similar spirit of inquiry, applied to chemistry, might, in modern times, have made his fortune. Even where no positive abilities are displayed at the time by those who manifest ignorance, we should not (except the culprits be natives of Ireland) hastily give them up. Ignorance of the most common objects is not only incident to certain situations, but absolutely unavoidable; and the individuals placed in those situations are no more blamable, than they would be for becoming blind in the snows of Lapland, or for having goitres amongst the Cretins of le Vallais. Would you blame the ignorant nuns, who, insensible of the danger of an eruption of Mount Vesuvius[9], warmed themselves at the burning lava which flowed up to the windows of their cells? or would you think the french canoness an idiot, who, at the age of fifty, was on account of her health to go out of her convent, and asked, when she met a cow for the first time, what strange animal that was?—or would you think that those poor children deserved to be stigmatised as fools, who, after being confined for a couple of years in an english workhouse, actually at eight years old had forgotten the names of a pig and a calf[10]: their ignorance was surely more deplorable than ridiculous. When the London young lady kept a collection of chicken-bones on her plate at dinner, as a bonne-bouche for her brother's horse[11], Dr. Johnson would not suffer her to be called an idiot, but very judiciously defended her by maintaining, that her action merely demonstrated her ignorant of points of natural history, on which a London miss had no immediate opportunity of obtaining information. Had the world always judged upon such subjects with similar candour, the reproachful cant term of cockney would never have been disgracefully naturalised in the english language. This word, as we are informed by a learned philologist, originated from a mistake of a London citizen's son, who, having been bred up intirely in the metropolis, was so gloriously ignorant of country life and country animals, that the first time he heard a cock crow, he called it neighing.—If such a mistake had been made by an Irishman, it would surely have been called a bull: it has at least as good pretensions to the title as many mistakes made by ignorant Hibernians; for instance, the well-known blunder relative to the sphinx:—An uninformed Irishman, hearing the sphinx alluded to in company, whispered to a friend, "The sphinx! who is that now?"

"A monster, man."

"Oh, a Munster-man: I thought he was from Connaught," replied our Irishman, determined not to seem totally unacquainted with the family. Gross and ridiculous as this blunder appears, we are compelled by candour to allow, that the affectation of showing knowledge has betrayed to shame men far superiour to our Hibernian, both in reputation and in the means of acquiring knowledge.

Cardinal Richelieu, the Mecænas or would be Mecænas of France, once mistook the name of a noted grammarian, Maurus Terentianus, for a play of Terence's. This is called by the French writer who records it, "une bévue bien grossière." However gross, a mistake can never be made into a bull. We find bévues french, english, italian, german, latin, and greek, of theologians, historians, antiquarians, poets, critics and translators without end. The learned Budæus takes sir Thomas More's Utopia for a true history, and proposes sending missionaries to work the conversion of so wise a people as the Utopians. An english antiquarian[12] mistakes a tomb in a gothic cathedral for the tomb of Hector. Pope, our great poet and prince of translators, mistakes Dec. the 8th, Nov. the 5th, of Cinthio, for Dec^r. 8th. Nov^r. 5th; and Warburton, his learned critic, improves upon the blunder by afterward writing the words December and November at full length. Better still, because more comic, is the blunder of a Frenchman, who, puzzled by the title of one of Cibber's plays, "Love's Last Shift," translates it, "La dernière chemise de l'amour." We laugh at these mistakes, and forget them; but who can forget the blunder of the Cork almanac-maker, who informs the world, that the principal republics in Europe are Venice, Holland, and America?

The blunders of men of all countries, except Ireland, do not affix an indelible stigma upon individual or national-character. A free pardon is, and ought to be, granted by every Englishman to the vernacular and literary errours of those who have the happiness to be born subjects of Great Britain. What enviable privileges are annexed to the birth of an Englishman! and what a misfortune it is, to be a native of Ireland!

[9] Vide Sir W. Hamilton's Account of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

[10] This fact, we believe, is mentioned in a letter of Mrs. Cappe's on parish schools.

[11] Vide Mrs. Piozzi's English Synonymy.

[12] John Lydgate.


Little Dominick.


We have laid down the general law of bulls and blunders; but as there is no rule without an exception, we may perhaps allow an exception in favour of little Dominick.

Little Dominick was born at Fort-Reilly, in Ireland, and bred no where until his tenth year, when he was sent to Wales to learn manners and grammar at the school of Mr. Owen ap Davies ap Jenkins ap Jones. This gentleman had reason to think himself the greatest of men; for he had over his chimney-piece a well-smoked genealogy, duly attested, tracing his ancestry in a direct line up to Noah; and moreover he was nearly related to the learned etymologist, who in the time of queen Elizabeth wrote a folio to prove that the language of Adam and Eve in Paradise was pure Welsh.—With such causes to be proud, Mr. Owen ap Davies ap Jenkins ap Jones was excusable for sometimes seeming to forget that a school-master is but a man. He however sometimes entirely forgot that a boy is but a boy; and this happened most frequently with respect to little Dominick.

This unlucky wight was flogged every morning by his master, not for his vices, but for his vicious constructions, and laughed at by his companions every evening for his idiomatic absurdities. They would probably have been inclined to sympathise in his misfortunes, but that he was the only irish boy at school; and as he was at a distance from all his relations, and without a friend to take his part, he was a just object of obloquy and derision. Every sentence he spoke was a bull; every two words he put together proved a false concord; and every sound he articulated betrayed the brogue. But as he possessed some of the characteristic boldness of those who have been dipped in the Shannon, he showed himself able and willing to fight his own battles with the host of foes by whom he was encompassed. Some of these, it was said, were of nearly twice his stature. This may be exaggerated; but it is certain that our hero sometimes ventured with sly irish humour to revenge himself upon his most powerful tyrant by mimicking the welsh accent, in which Mr. Owen ap Jones said to him, "Cot pless me, you plockit, and shall I never learn you enclish crammer?"

It was whispered in the ear of his Dionysius, that our little hero was a mimick; and he was treated with increased severity.

The midsummer holydays approached; but he feared that they would shine no holydays for him. He had written to his mother to tell her, that school would break up the 21st, and to beg an answer, without fail, by return of post: but no answer came.

It was now nearly two months since he had heard from his dear mother or any of his friends in Ireland. His spirits began to sink under the pressure of these accumulated misfortunes: he slept little, ate less, and played not at all; indeed nobody would play with him upon equal terms, because he was nobody's equal: his schoolfellows continued to consider him as a being, if not of a different species, at least of a different cast from themselves.

Mr. Owen ap Jones's triumph over the little irish plockit was nearly complete for the boy's heart was almost broken, when there came to the school a new scholar—O, how unlike the others!—His name was Edwards; he was the son of a neighbouring welsh gentleman; and he had himself the spirit of a gentleman. When he saw how poor Dominick was persecuted, he took him under his protection, fought his battles with the welsh boys, and, instead of laughing at him for speaking Irish, he endeavoured to teach him to speak English. In his answers to the first questions Edwards ever asked him, little Dominick made two blunders, which set all his other companions in a roar; yet Edwards would not allow them to be genuine bulls.

In answer to the question, "Who is your father?" Dominick said, with a deep sigh, "I have no father—I am an orphan[13]—I have only a mother."

"Have you any brothers and sisters?"

"No; I wish I had; for perhaps they would love me and not laugh at me," said Dominick with tears in his eyes; "but I have no brothers but myself."

One day Mr. Jones, came into the school-room with an open letter in his hand, saying, "Here, you little irish plockit; here's a letter from your mother."'

The little irish blockhead started from his form, and, throwing his grammar on the floor, leaped up higher than he or any boy in the school had ever been seen to leap before; and, clapping his hands, he exclaimed, "A letter from my mother!—And will I hear the letter?—And will I see her once more?—And will I go home these holidays?—O, then I will be too happy!"

"There's no tanger of that," said Mr. Owen ap Jones; "for your mother, like a wise ooman, writes me here, that py the atvice of your cardian, to oom she is coing to be married, she will not pring you home to Ireland till I send her word you are perfect in your enclish crammer at least."

"I have my lesson perfect, sir," said Dominick, taking his grammar up from the floor, "will I say it now?"

"Will I say it now.—No, you plockit, no, and I will write your mother word, you have proke Priscian's head four times this tay, since her letter came. You irish plockit!" continued the relentless grammarian; "will you never learn the tifference between shall and will? Will I hear the letter, and will I see her once more? What enclish is this, plockit?"

The welsh boys all grinned, except Edwards, who hummed loud enough to be heard, two lines of the good old english song,

"And will I see him once again?

And will I hear him speak?"

Many of the boys were fortunately too ignorant to feel the force of the quotation; but Mr. Owen ap Jones understood it, turned upon his heel, and walked off. Soon afterwards he summoned Dominick to his awful desk; and, pointing with his ruler to the following page in Harris's Hermes, bade him "reat it, and understant it, if he could."—Little Dominick read, but could not understand.

"Then reat it loud, you plockit."

Dominick read aloud—

"There is nothing appears so clearly an object of the mind or intellect only as the future does, since we can find no place for its existence any where else: not but the same, if we consider, is equally true of the past——."

"Well, co on—What stops the plockit?—Can't you reat Enclish now?"

"Yes, sir; but I was trying to understand it—I was considering, that this is like what they would call an irish bull, if I had said it."

Little Dominick could not explain what he meant in English, that Mr. Owen ap Jones would understand; and, to punish him for his impertinent observation, the boy was doomed to learn all that Harris and Lowth have written to explain the nature of shall and will.—The reader, if he be desirous of knowing the full extent of the penance enjoined, may consult Lowth's Grammar, p. 52, ed. 1799, and Harris's Hermes, p, 10, 11, and 12, 4th edition. Undismayed at the length of his task, little Dominick only said, "I hope, if I say it all without missing at word, you will not give my mother a bad account of me and my grammar studies, sir."

"Say it all first, without missing a word, and then I shall see what I shall say," replied Mr. Owen ap Jones.

Even the encouragement of this oracular answer excited the boy's fond hopes so keenly, that he lent his little soul to the task, learned it perfectly, said it at night, without missing one word, to his friend Edwards, and said it the next morning, without missing one word, to his master.

"And now, sir," said the boy, looking up, "Will you write to my mother? And shall I see her? And shall I go home?"

"Tell me first, whether you understand all this that you have learnt so cliply," said Mr. Owen ap Jones.

That was more than his bond. Our hero's countenance fell; and he acknowledged, that he did not understand it perfectly.

"Then I cannot write a coot account of you and your crammer studies to your mother; my conscience coes against it," said the conscientious Mr. Owen ap Jones.

No entreaties could move him. Dominick never saw the letter that was written to his mother; but he felt the consequence. She wrote word this time punctually by return of the post, that she was sorry she could not send for him home these holidays, as she heard so bad an account from Mr. Jones, &c., and as she thought it her duty not to interrupt the course of his education, especially his grammar studies. Little Dominick heaved many a sigh when be saw the packings up of all his schoolfellows, and dropped a few tears as he looked out of the window, and saw them, one after another, get on their welsh ponies, and gallop off towards their homes.

"I have no home to go," said he.

"Yes, you have," cried Edwards; "and our horses are at the door to carry us there."

"To Ireland? me! the horses!" said the poor boy, quite bewildered: "and will they bring me to Ireland?"

"No; the horses cannot carry you to Ireland," said Edwards, laughing good-naturedly, "but you have a home now in England. I asked my father to let me take you home with me; and he says 'Yes,' like a dear good father, and has sent the horses—Come, let's away."

"But will Mr. Jones let me go?"

"Yes; he dare not refuse; for my father has a living in his gift, that Jones wants, and which he will not have, if he do not change his tune to you."

Little Dominick could not speak one word, his heart was so full.—No boy could be happier than he was, during these holydays: "the genial current of his soul," which had been frozen by unkindness, flowed with all it's natural freedom and force.

When Dominick returned to school after these holidays were over, Mr. Owen ap Jones, who now found that the irish boy had an english protector with a living in his gift, changed his tone. He never more complained unjustly that Dominick broke Priscian's head, seldom called him irish plockit, and once would have flogged a welsh boy for taking up this cast off expression of the master's, but the irish blockhead begged the culprit off.

Little Dominick sprang forward rapidly in his studies: he soon surpassed every boy in the school, his friend Edwards only excepted. In process of time his guardian removed him to a higher seminary of education. Edwards had a tutor at home. The friends separated. Afterwards they followed different professions in distant parts of the world; and they neither saw nor heard any more of each other for many years. From boys they grew into men, and Dominick, now, no longer little Dominick, went over to India as private secretary to one of our commanders in chief. How he got into this situation, or by what gradations he rose in the world, we are not exactly informed: we know only, that he was the reputed author of a much admired pamphlet on India affairs, that the dispatches of the general to whom he was secretary were remarkably well written, and that Dominick O'Reilly, esq., returned to England, after several years absence, not miraculously rich, but with a fortune equal to his wishes. His wishes were not extravagant: his utmost ambition was to return to his native country with a fortune that should enable him to live independently of all the world, especially of some of his relations, who had not used him well. His mother was no more.

Upon his arrival in London, one of the first things he did was to read the irish newspapers.—To his inexpressible joy, he saw the estate of Fort-Reilly advertised to be sold—the very estate which had formerly belonged to his own family. Away he posted directly to an attorney's in Cecil-street, who was empowered to dispose of the land.

When this attorney produced a map of the well-known demesne, and an elevation of that house, in which he had spent the happiest hours of his infancy, his heart was so touched, that he was on the point of paying down more for an old ruin than a good new house would cost. The attorney acted honestly by his client, and seized this moment to exhibit a plan of the stabling and offices, which, as sometimes is the case in Ireland, were in a style far superiour to the dwelling-house. Our hero surveyed these with transport. He rapidly planned various improvements in imagination, and planted certain favourite spots in the demesne.—During this time the attorney was giving directions to a clerk about some other business: suddenly the name of Owen ap Jones struck his ear—He started.

"Let him wait in the front parlour: his money is not forthcoming," said the attorney; "and if he keep Edwards in jail till he rots——."

"Edwards! Good heavens!—in jail!—What Edwards?" exclaimed our hero.

It was his friend Edwards.

The attorney told him that Mr. Edwards had been involved in great distress by taking upon himself his father's debts, which had been incurred in exploring a mine in Wales; that of all the creditors none had refused to compound, except a welsh parson, who had been presented to his living by old Edwards; that this Mr. Owen ap Jones had thrown young Mr. Edwards into jail for the debt.

"What is the rascal's demand? He shall be paid off this instant," cried Dominick, throwing down the plan of Fort-Reilly; "send for him up, and let me pay him off upon the spot."

"Had not we best finish our business first, about the O'Reilly estate, sir," said the attorney.

"No, sir; damn the O'Reilly estate," cried he, huddling the maps together on the desk, and, taking up the bank notes, which he had begun to reckon for the purchase money—"I beg your pardon, sir—If you knew the facts, you would excuse me—Why does not this rascal come up to be paid?"

The attorney, thunderstruck by this hibernian impetuosity, had not yet found time to take his pen out of his mouth. As he sat transfixed in his armchair, O'Reilly ran to the head of the stairs, and called out, in a stentorian voice, "Here, you Mr. Owen ap Jones; come up and be paid off this instant, or you shall never be paid at all."

Up stairs hobbled the old school-master, as fast as the gout and welsh ale would let him—"Cot pless me, that voice," he began—

"Where's your bond, sir?" said the attorney.

"Safe here, Cot be praised," said the terrified Owen ap Jones, pulling out of his bosom, first a blue pocket-handkerchief, and then a tattered welsh grammar, which O'Reilly kicked to the farther end of the room.

"Here is my pond," said he, "in the crammer," which he gathered from the ground; then fumbling over the leaves he at length unfolded the precious deposit.

O'Reilly saw the bond, seized it, looked at the sum, paid it into the attorney's hands, tore the seal from the bond; then, without looking at old Jones, whom he dared not trust himself to speak to, he clapped his hat upon his head, and rushed out of the room. Arrived at the King's Bench prison, he hurried to the apartment, where Edwards was confined—The bolts flew back; for even the turnkeys seemed to catch our hero's enthusiasm.

"Edwards, my dear boy! how do you do?—Here's a bond debt, justly due to you for my education—O, never mind asking any unnecessary questions; only just make haste out of this undeserved abode—Our old rascal is paid off—Owen ap Jones, you know——Well, how the man stares!—Why now will you have the assurance to pretend to forget who I am? and must I spake," continued he, assuming the tone of his childhood—"and must I spake to you again in my old irish brogue, before you will ricollict your own little Dominick?"

When his friend Edwards was out of prison, and when our hero had leisure to look into business, he returned to the attorney, to see that Mr. Owen ap Jones had been legally satisfied.

"Sir," said the attorney, "I have paid the plaintiff in this suit; and he is satisfied; but I must say," added he with a contemptuous smile, "that you irish gentlemen are rather in too great a hurry in doing business: business, sir, is a thing that must be done slowly, to be done well."

"I am ready now to do business as slowly as you please; but when my friend was in prison, I thought the quicker I did his business the better—Now tell me what mistake I have made, and I will rectify it instantly."

"Instantly!—Tis well, sir, with your promptitude, that you have to deal with what prejudice thinks uncommon—an honest attorney.——Here are some bank notes of yours, sir, amounting to a good round sum—You made a little blunder in this business: you left me the penalty, instead of the principal, of the bond—just twice as much as you should have done."

"Just twice as much as was in the bond, but not twice as much as I should have done, nor half as much as I should have done, in my opinion," said O'Reilly; "but whatever I did, was with my eyes open: I was persuaded you were an honest man; in which you see I was not mistaken; and as a man of business, I knew you would pay Jones only his due. The remainder of the money I meant, and mean, should lie in your hands for my friend Edwards's use. I feared he would not have taken it from my hands: I therefore left it in yours. To have taken my friend out of prison merely to let him go back again to day, for want of money to keep himself clear with the world, would have been a blunder indeed, but not an irish blunder: our irish blunders are never blunders of the heart."

[13] Iliad, 6th book, l. 432, Andromache says to Hector, "You will make your son an orphan, and your wife a widow."


The Bliss of Ignorance.


No well-informed Englishman would laugh at the blunders of such a character as little Dominick; but there are people who justify the assertion, that laughter always arises from a sense of real or imaginary superiority. Now if it be true, that laughter has it's source in vanity, as the most ignorant are generally the most vain, they must enjoy this pleasure in it's highest perfection. Unconscious of their own deficiencies, and consequently fearless of becoming in their turn the objects of ridicule, they enjoy in full security the delight of humbling their superiours. How much are they to be admired for the courage with which they apply, on all occasions, their test of truth! Wise men may be struck with admiration, respect, doubt, or humility; but the ignorant, happily unconscious that they know nothing, can be checked in their merriment by no consideration, human or divine.—Theirs is the sly sneer, the dry joke, and the horse laugh: theirs the comprehensive range of ridicule, which takes "every creature in, of every kind." No fastidious delicacy spoils their sports of fancy; though ten times told, the tale to them never can be tedious; though dull "as the fat weed that grows on Lethe's bank," the jest for them has all the poignancy of satire: on the very offals, the garbage of wit, they can feed and batten. For them the jokes of Joe Miller have that infinite variety, which custom cannot stale. Happy they who can find in every jester the wit of Sterne or Swift; who else can wade through hundreds of thickly printed pages to obtain, for their reward, such witticisms as the following[14]?—

"Two Irishmen having travelled on foot from Chester to Barnet, were confoundedly tired and fatigued by their journey; and the more so when they were told, that they had still about ten miles to go—'By my shoul and St. Patrick,' cries one of them, 'it is but five miles a piece.'"

Here, notwithstanding the promise of a jest held forth by the words,—"By my shoul and St. Patrick," we are ultimately cheated of our hopes. To the ignorant, indeed, the word of promise is kept to the mind as well as to the ear; but others perceive, that instead of a bull, they have only a piece of sentimental arithmetic, founded upon the elegant theorem, that friendship doubles all our pleasures, and divides all our pains.

We must not, from false delicacy to our countrymen, here omit a piece of advice to english retailers or inventors of irish blunders. Let them beware of such prefatory exclamations as—"By my shoul and St. Patrick! By Jasus! Arrah Honey! My dear Joy! &c.," because all such phrases, beside being absolutely out of date and fashion in Ireland, raise too high an expectation in the minds of a british audience, operating as much to the disadvantage of the story-teller as the dangerous exordium of—"I'll tell you an excellent story;" an exordium ever to be avoided by all prudent wits.

Another caution should be given to well-meaning ignorance. Never produce that as an irish bull, for which any person of common literature can immediately supply a precedent from our best authors. Never be at the pains, for instance, of telling, from Joe Miller, a good story of an irish sailor, who travelled with captain Cook round the world, and afterwards swore to his companions, that it was as flat as a table. This anecdote, however excellent, immediately finds a parallel in Pope.

"Mad Mathesis alone was unconfin'd,

Too mad for mere material chains to bind;

Now to pure space lifts her exstatic stare,

Now running round the circle finds it square."

Pope was led into the blunder of representing mad Mathesis running round the circle and finding it square, by a confused notion, that mathematicians had considered the circle as composed of straight lines. His mathematical friends could have told him, that though it was talked of as a polygon, it was not supposed to be a square; but polygon would not have rhymed to stare; and poets, when they launch into the ocean of words, must have an eye to the helm; at all events a poet, who is not supposed to be a student of the exact sciences, may be forgiven for a mathematical blunder. This affair of squaring the circle seems to be peculiarly liable to errour; for even an accurate mathematician cannot speak of it without committing something very like a bull.

Dr. Hutton, in his treatise on mensuration, p. 119, says, "As the famous quadrature of the late Mr. John Machin, professor of astronomy in Gresham College, is extremely expeditious and but little known, I shall take this opportunity of explaining it."

It is to be presumed, that the doctor here uses the word famous in that acceptation, in which it is daily and hourly employed, by our Bond street loungers, by city apprentices, and men of the ton—"That was a famous good joke,"—"He is a famous whip,"—"We had a famous hop, &c." Now it cannot be supposed, that any of these things are in themselves entitled to fame; but they may, indeed, by the courtesy of England, be at once famous and but little known. It is unnecessary to enter into the defence either of Dr. Hutton or of Pope, for they were not born in Ireland, therefore they cannot make bulls; and assuredly their mistakes will not, in the opinion of any person of common sense or candour, derogate from their reputation.

"Never strike till you are sure to wound," is a maxim well known to the polite[15] and politic part of the world, "Never laugh when the laugh can be turned against you," should be the maxim of those, who find their chief pleasure in making others ridiculous. This principle, if applied to our subject, would lead, however, to a very extensive and troublesome system of mutual forbearance; troublesome in proportion to the good or ill humour of the parties concerned, extensive in proportion to their knowledge and acquirements. A man of cultivated parts will foresee the possibility of the retort courteous, where an ignorant man will enjoy the fearless bliss of ignorance. For example, an illiterate person may enjoy a hearty laugh at the common story of an old irish beggar-man, who, pretending to be dumb, was thrown off his guard by the question, "How many years have you been dumb?" and answered "Five years last St. John's Eve, please your honour."

But our triumph over the Irishman abates, when we recollect in the History of England, and in Shakspeare, the case of Saunder Simcox, who pretended to be miraculously and instantaneously cured of blindness at St. Alban's shrine.

Since we have bestowed so much criticism on the blunder of a beggar-man, a word or two must be permitted on the blunder of a thief. It is natural for ignorant people to laugh at the Hibernian, who said, that he had stolen a pound of chocolate to make tea of. But philosophers are disposed to abstain from the laugh of superiority, when they recollect, that the Irishman could probably make as good tea from chocolate, as the chemist could make butter, sugar, and cream, from antimony, sulphur, and tartar. The absurdities in the ancient chemical nomenclature could not be surpassed by any in the hibernian catalogue. If the reader should think this a rash and unwarrantable assertion, we refer him to an essay[16], in which the flagrant abuses of speech in the old language of chemistry are admirably exposed and ridiculed.—Could an Irishman confer a more appropriate appellation upon a white powder, than that of beautiful black?

It is really provoking to perceive, that as our knowledge of science or literature extends, we are in more danger of finding, in our own and foreign languages, parallels and precedents for irish blunders; so that a very well informed man can scarcely with any grace or conscience smile, where a booby squire might enjoy a long and loud horse laugh of contempt.

What crowds were collected to see the irish bottle conjurer[17] get in a quart bottle; but Dr. Desaguliers had prepared the english to think, such a condensation of animal particles not impossible. He says, Vol. 1, p. 5, of his Lectures on Natural Philosophy, "that the nature of things should last and their natural course continue the same; all the changes made in bodies must arise only from the various separations, new conjunctions, and motions, of these original particles. These must be imagined of an unconceivable smallness, but by the union of them there are made bigger lumps, &c."

Indeed things are now come to such a lamentable pass, that without either literary or scientific acquirements, mere local knowledge, such as can be obtained from a finger-post, may sometimes prevent us from the full enjoyment of the bœotian absurdity of our neighbours. What can, at first view, appear a grosser blunder, than that of the Irishman, who begged a friend to look over his library, to find for him the history of the world before the creation? Yet this anachronism of ideas is not unparalleled; it is matched, though on a more contracted scale, by an inscription on a british finger-post—

"Had you seen these roads before they were made,

You'd lift up your eyes, and bless marshal Wade!"

There is, however, a rabbi, mentioned by Bayle, who far exceeds both the Irishman and the finger-post. He asserts, that Providence questioned Adam, concerning the creation, before he was born; and that Adam knew more of the matter than the angels who had laughed at him.

Those who see things in a philosophical light, must have observed more frequently than others, that there is in this world a continual recurrence or rotation of ideas, events and blunders. With his utmost ingenuity or his utmost absurdity, a man, in modern days, cannot contrive to produce a system for which there is no prototype in antiquity, or to commit a blunder, for which there is no precedent. For example, during the late rebellion in Ireland, at the military execution of some wretched rebel, the cord broke, and the criminal, who had been only half hanged, fell to the ground. The major, who was superintending the execution exclaimed, "You rascal, if you do that again, I'll kill you, as sure as you breathe."

Now this is by no means an original idea. In an old french book, called "La Charlatanerie des Savans," is the following note—"D'autres ont proposé et resolu en même tems des questions ridicules; par exemple celle-ci: Devroit on faire souffrir une seconde fois le même genre de mort à un criminel, qui après avoir eu la tête coupée viendroit à resusciter?"—Finkelth Præf. ad Observationes pract. num. 12.

The passionate major, instead of being a mere irish blunderer, was, without knowing it, a learned casuist; for he was capable of deciding, in one word, a question, which, it seems, had puzzled the understandings of the ablest lawyers of France, or which had appalled their conscientious sensibility.

Alas, there is nothing new under the sun!

"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

[14] The eldest partner in the firm of this book actually read the whole of Old Joe Miller, containing all the good things in above fifty jest books, published from 1558 to 1801, to obtain a competent knowledge of the treasures of english wit; he never felt so much tired even with Coke upon Littleton.

[15] Lord Chesterfield.

[16] Essay on Chemical Nomenclature, by S. Dickson, M.D.; in which are comprised observations on the same subject, by R. Kirwan, Pres. R.I.A.—Vide pages 21, 22, 23, &c.

[17] This conjuror, whose name was Broadstreet, was a native of the county of Longford, in Ireland: he by this hit pocketed 200 l., and proved himself to be more knave than fool.


"Thoughts that breathe, and Words that burn."


We lamented in our last chapter, that there is nothing new under the Sun, yet, perhaps, the thoughts and phraseology of the following story may not be familiar to the English.

"Plase your honour," says a man, whose head is bound up with a garter, in token and commemoration of his having been at a fair the preceding night—"Plase your honour, it's what I am striving since six o'clock and before, this morning, becààse I'd sooner trouble your honour's honour than any man in all Ireland, on account of your character, and having lived under your family, me and mine, twinty years, aye, say forty again to the back o'that, in the old gentleman's time, as I well remember before I was born; that same time I heard tell of your own honour's riding a little horse in green with your gun before you, a grousing over our town-lands, which was the mill and abbey of Ballynagobogg, though 'tis now set away from me (owing to them that belied my father) to Christy Salmon, becààse he's an orange-man—or his wife—though he was once (let him deny it who can), to my certain knowledge, behind the haystack in Tullygore, sworn in a United man by Captain Alick, who was hanged—Pace to the dead any how!—Well, not to be talking too much of that now, only for this Christy Salmon, I should be still living under your honour."

"Very likely; but what has all this to do with the present business. If you have any complaint to make against Christy Salmon, make it—if not, let me go to dinner."

"Oh, it would be too bad to be keeping your honour from your dinner, but I'll make your honour sinsible immadiately. It is not of Christy Salmon at all at all I'm talking. May be your honour is not sinsible yet who I am—I am Paddy M'Doole, of the Curragh, and I've been a flax-dresser and dealer since I parted your honour's land, and was last night at the fair of Clonaghhilty, where I went just in a quiet way thinking of nothing at all, as any man might, and had my little yarn along with me, my wife's and the girl's year's spinning, and all just hoping to bring them back a few honest shillings as they desarved—none better!—Well, plase your honour, my beast lost a shoe, which brought me late to the fair, but not so late but what it was as throng as ever; you could have walked over the heads of the men, women, and childer, a foot and a horseback, all buying and selling, so I to be sure thought no harm of doing the like, so I makes the best bargain I could of the little hanks for my wife and the girl, and the man I sold them to was just weighing them at the crane and I standing forenent him—'success to myself!' said I, looking at the shillings I was putting into my waistcoat pocket for my poor family, when up comes the inspector, whom I did not know, I'll take my oath, from Adam, nor couldn't know becààse he was the deputy inspector, and had been but just made, of which I was ignorant, by this book and all the books that ever were shut and opened—but no matter for that; he seizes my hanks out of the scales that I had just sold, saying they were unlawful and forfeit, becààse by his watch it was past four o'clock, which I denied to be possible, plase your honour, becààse not one, nor two, nor three, but all the town and country were selling the same as myself in broad day, only when the deputy came up they stopped, which I could not, by rason I did not know him.—'Sir,' says I (very civil), 'if I had known you it would have been another case, but any how I hope no jantleman will be making it a crime to a poor man to sell his little matter of yarn for his wife and childer after four o'clock, when he did not know it was contrary to law at all at all.'"

"'I gave you notice that it was contrary to law at the fair of Edgerstown,' said he—'I axe your pardon, sir,' said I, 'it was my brother, for I was by.'—With that he calls me liar, and what not, and takes a grip[18] of me and I a grip of my flax, and he had a shilala[19] and I had none, so he gave it me over the head, I crying 'murder! murder!' the while, and clinging to the scales to save me, and they set a swinging and I with them, plase your honour, till the bame comes down a'top o'the back o'my head, and kilt me as your honour sees."

"I see that you are alive still, I think."

"It's not his fault if I am, plase your honour, for he left me for dead, and I am as good as dead still: if it be plasing to your honour to examine my head, you'll be sinsible I'm telling nothing but the truth. Your honour never seen a man kilt as I was and am—all which I'm ready (when convanient) to swear before your honour[20]."

The reiterated assurances which this hero gives us of his being killed, and the composure with which he offers to swear to his own assassination and decease, appear rather surprising and ludicrous to those who are not aware, that kilt is here used in a metaphorical sense, and that it has not the full force of our word killed.

But we have been informed by a lady of unquestionable veracity, that she very lately received a petition worded in this manner—

"To the right hon. lady E—— P——.

"Humbly sheweth,

"That your poor petitioner is now lying dead in a ditch, &c."

This poor irish petitioner's expression, however preposterous it sounds, might perhaps be justified, if we were inclined to justify an Irishman by the example, not only of poets comic and tragic, but of prose writers of various nations. The evidence in favour both of the fact and the belief, that people can speak and walk after they are dead, is attested by stout warriors and grave historians. The emperor Charles the fifth, we all know, assisted at his own funeral, said a mass, and sung a requiem over himself; but this was only "a mockery of woe." Let us listen to the solemn voice of a princess, who comes sweeping in the sceptered pall of gorgeous tragedy to inform us, that half herself has buried the other half—

"Weep eyes! melt into tears these cheeks to lave

One half myself lays t'other in the grave[21]."

For six such lines as these Corneile received six thousand livres, and the admiration of the French court and people during the augustan age of french literature. But an Italian is not content with killing by halves. Here is a man from Italy who goes on fighting, not like Witherington, upon his stumps, but fairly after he is dead.

"Nor yet perceived the vital spirit fled,

But still fought on nor knew that he was dead[22]."

Common sense is somewhat shocked, at this single instance of an individual fighting after he is dead; but we shall, doubtless, be reconciled to the idea by the example of a gallant and modern commander, who has declared his opinion, that nothing is more feasible than for a garrison to fight, or at least to surrender, after they are dead, nay, after they are buried.—Witness this public document.

"Liberty and Equality!


"May 29th,           } Garrison of Ostend.

30th Floreal, 6.     }

"Muscar, commandant of Ostend, to the commandant in chief of his british majesty.


"The council of war was sitting when I received the honour of your letters. We have unanimously resolved not to surrender the place, until we shall have been buried in its ruins, &c."

One step further in hyperbole is reserved for him, who, being buried, carries about his own sepulchre.

"To live a life half dead, a living death,

And buried; but oh, yet more miserable!

Myself, my sepulchre, a moving grave!"

No person, if he heard this passage for the first time from the lips of an Irishman, could hesitate to call it a series of bulls; yet these lines are part of the beautiful complaint of Samson Agonistes on his blindness. Such are the hyperboles sanctioned by the genius, or, what with some judges may have more influence, the name of Milton. The bounds which separate sublimity from bombast, and absurdity from wit, are as fugitive as the boundaries of taste. Only those, who are accustomed to examine and appraise literary goods, are sensible of the prodigious change that can be made in their apparent value, by a slight change in the manufacture. The absurdity of a man's swearing he was killed, or declaring, that he is now dead in a ditch, is revolting to common sense; yet the living death of Dapperwit in the "Rape of the Lock" is not absurd, but witty; and representing men as dying many times before their death is in Shakspeare sublime.

"Cowards die many times before their death;

The brave can never taste of death but once."

The most direct contradictions in words do not (in english writers) destroy the effect of irony, wit, pathos, or sublimity.

In the classic ode on Eton college, the poet exclaims,—

"To each their sufferings, all are men

Condemn'd alike to groan;

The tender for another's pain,

Th' unfeeling for their own."

Who but a half witted dunce would ask, how those that are unfeeling can have sufferings? When Milton in melodious verse inquires,

"Who shall tempt with wandering feet

The dark unbottomed infinite abyss,

And through the palpable obscure find out

His uncouth way?"——

What Zoilus shall dare interrupt this flow of poetry, to object to the palpable obscure, or to ask how feet can wander upon that which has no bottom?

It is easy, as Tully has long ago observed, to fix the brand of ridicule upon the verbum ardens of orators and poets—the "Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn."

[18] A gripe or fast hold.

[19] An oak stick, supposed to be cut from the famous wood of Shilala.

[20] This is nearly verbatim from a late irish complainant.


"Pleurez, pleurez mes yeux et fondez vous en eau,

La moitié de ma vie a mis l'autre au tombeau."


"Il pover uomo che non s'en era accorto,

Andava combattendo ed erà morto."


Practical Bulls.


As we have not hitherto been successful in finding original irish bulls in language, we must now look for them in conduct. A person may be guilty of a solecism, without uttering a single syllable—"That man has been guilty of a solecism with his hand," an ancient critic said of an actor, who had pointed his hand upwards when invoking the infernal gods.—"You may act a lie as well as speak one," says Wollaston. Upon the same principle, the Irish may be said to act as well as utter bulls. We shall give some instances of their practical bulls, which we hope to find unmatched by the blunders of all other nations. Most people, whether they be savage or civilized, can contrive to revenge themselves upon their enemies without blundering, but the Irish are exceptions. They cannot even do this without a bull. During the late irish rebellion there was a banker to whom they had a peculiar dislike, and on whom they had vowed vengeance: accordingly they got possession of as many of his bank notes as they could, and made a bonfire of them! this might have been called a feu de joie, perhaps, but certainly not un feu d'artifice; for nothing could show less art than burning a banker's notes, in order to destroy his credit. How much better do the English understand the arts of vengeance! Captain Drinkwater[23] informs us, that during the siege of Gibraltar the English, being half famished, were most violently enraged against the Jews, who withheld their stores of provision, and made money of the public distress, a crime never committed except by Jews; at length the fleet relieved the besieged, and as soon as the fresh provisions were given out, the english soldiers and sailors, to revenge themselves upon the Jews, burst open their stores, and actually roasted a pig at a fire made of cinnamon. There are other persons as well as the Irish, who do not always understand their own interests where their passions are concerned. That great warrior, Hyder Ali, once lost a battle by a practical bull. Being encamped within sight of the British, he resolved to give them a high idea of his forces and of his artillery; for this purpose, before the engagement[24], he ordered his army to march early, and conveying some large pieces of cannon to the top of a hill, he caused them to be pointed at the english camp, which they reached admirably well, and occasioned a kind of disorder and haste in striking and removing tents, &c. Hyder, delighted at having thus insulted the English, caused all his artillery, even the very smallest pieces, to be drawn up the hill for the purpose of making a vain parade, though the greater part of the balls could never reach the English; he imagined he should give the enemy a high idea of his forces, and intimidate them by showing all his artillery, and the vivacity with which it was worked; and in order that his intention might be answered, he encouraged the soldiers himself, by giving money to the cannoneers of those pieces that appeared to be best served.

The English, presently after this farce was over, obliged Hyder to come down from labour-in-vain hill, and to give them battle in earnest. As the historian observes, "The ridiculous cannonade at the top of the hill had exhausted his ammunition, his great guns were useless to him, and he lost the day by his premature rejoicings before the battle." A still more ancient precedent for this preposterous practical bull of rejoicing for an anticipated victory was given by Xerxes, we believe, who brought with him an immense block of marble, on which he intended to inscribe the date and manner of his victory over the Greeks. When Xerxes was defeated, the Greeks dedicated this stone to Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance. But Xerxes was in the habit of making practical bulls, such as whipping the sea, and begging pardon for it afterwards; throwing fetters into the Hellespont as a token of subjugation, and afterwards expiating his offence by an offering of a golden cup and persian scymetar.

To such blunders can the passions betray the most renowned heroes, although they had not the misfortune to have been born in Ireland.

The impatience which induced Hyder Ali to anticipate victory is not confined to military men and warlike operations; if we descend to common life and vulgar business, we shall find the same disposition even in the precincts of Change-alley: those who bargained for South Sea stock, that was not actually forthcoming, were called bears, in allusion to the practice of the hunters of bears in Canada, who were accustomed to bargain for the skin of the bear before it was caught; but whence the correlative term bull is derived we are at a loss to determine, and we must leave it to the mercantile speculators of England to explain, why gentlemen call themselves bulls of wheat and bulls of coals—all we can say is, that these are not irish bulls. There is one distinguishing peculiarity of the irish bull—it's horns are tipped with brass[25]. It is generally supposed, that persons who have been dipped in the Shannon[26] are ever afterwards endued with a supernatural portion of what is called by enemies impudence or assurance, by friends self-possession or civil courage. These invulnerable mortals are never oppressed with mauvaise honte, that malady, which keeps the faculties of the soul under imaginary imprisonment; as the night mare holds or seems to hold the powerless limbs of her victim. A well dipped Irishman, on the contrary, can move, speak, think, like Demosthenes, with as much ease, when the eyes of numbers are upon him, as if the spectators were so many cabbage stocks. This virtue of civil courage is of inestimable value in the opinion of the best judges—the great lord Verulam; no one by the by could be a better judge of it's value than he, who wanted it so much, —the great lord Verulam declares, that if he were asked what is the first, second, and third thing necessary to success in public business, he should answer boldness, boldness, boldness! Success to the nation which possesses it in perfection! Bacon was too acute and candid a philosopher not to acknowledge, that like all the other goods of life this same boldness has it's countervailing disadvantages.

"Certainly," says he, "to men of great judgment bold persons are a sport to behold; nay, and to the vulgar, boldness hath somewhat of the ridiculous, for if absurdity be the subject of laughter, doubt you not but great boldness is seldom without some absurdity; especially it is a sport to see when a bold fellow is out of countenance, for that puts his face into a most shrunken and wooden posture, as needs it must."

The man, however, who possesses boldness in perfection, can never be put out of countenance, and, consequently, can never exhibit, for the sport of his enemies, a face in this wooden posture. It is the deficiency, and not the excess of this quality, that is to be feared. Civil boldness without military courage would, indeed, be somewhat ridiculous: but we cannot accuse the Irish of any want of military courage; on the contrary, it is supposed in England, that an Irishman is always ready to give any gentleman satisfaction, even where none is desired.

At the close of the american war, as a noble lord of high naval character was returning home to his family after various escapes from danger, he was detained a day at Holyhead by contrary winds. Reading in a summer-house, he heard the well known sound of bullets whistling near him: he looked about, and found that two balls had just passed through the door close beside him; he looked out of the window, and saw two gentlemen who were just charging their pistols again, and as he guessed, that they had been shooting at a mark upon the door, he rushed out, and very civilly remonstrated with them on the imprudence of firing at the door of a house without having previously examined whether any one was within side. One of them immediately answered, in a tone which proclaimed at once his disposition and his country—"Sir, I did not know you were within there, and I don't know who you are now; but if I've given offence, I am willing," said he, holding out the ready charged pistols, "to give you the satisfaction of a gentleman—take your choice."

With his usual presence of mind, the noble lord seized hold of both the pistols, and said to his astonished countryman—"Do me the justice, sir, to go into that summer-house, shut the door, and let me have two shots at you; then we shall be upon equal terms, and I shall be quite at your service to give or receive the satisfaction of a gentleman."

There was an air of drollery and of superiority in his manner, which at once struck and pleased the Hibernian.—"Upon my conscience, sir, I believe you are a very honest fellow," said he, looking him earnestly in the face, "and I've a great mind to shake hands with you.—Will you only just tell me who you are?"

The nobleman told his name—a name dear to every Briton and every Irishman.

"I beg your pardon, and that's what no man ever accused me of doing before," cried the gallant Hibernian; "and had I known who you were, I would as soon have shot my own soul as have fired at the door.—But how could I tell who was within side?"

"That is the very thing of which I complain," said his lordship.

His candid opponent admitted the justice of the complaint as soon he understood it, and he promised never more to be guilty of such a practical bull.

[23] See his account of the siege of Gibraltar.

[24] Life of Hyder Ali Khan, vol. 2 p. 231.

[25] See the advice of Cleomenes to Crius.

Herodotus Erato.

[26] It it said, that the waters of the Garonne are famed for a similar virtue.


The Dublin Shoeblack.


Upon looking over our last chapter on practical bulls, we were much concerned to find, that we have so few irish and so many foreign blunders. It is with still more regret we perceive, that notwithstanding our utmost diligence, we have not yet been able to point out the distinguishing characteristic of an irish bull. But to compensate for this disappointment we have devised a syllogism, which some people may prefer to an a priori argument, to prove irrefragably, that the Irish are blunderers.

After the instances we have produced, chapter 6th, of the verbum ardens of english and foreign poets; and after the resemblance that we have pointed out betwixt certain figures of rhetoric and the irish bull; we have little reason to fear, that the candid and enlightened reader should object to our major.

Major.—Those who use figurative language are disposed to make bulls.

Minor.—The Irish use figurative language.

Conclusion.—Therefore the Irish are disposed to make bulls.

We proceed to establish the truth of our minor, and the first evidence we shall call is a Dublin shoeblack. He is not in circumstances peculiarly favourable for the display of figurative language; he is in a court of justice, upon his trial for life or death. A quarrel happened between two shoeblacks, who were playing at what in England is called pitch farthing, or heads and tails, and in Ireland, head or harp. One of the combatants threw a small paving stone at his opponent, who drew out the knife with which he used to scrape shoes, and plunged it up to the hilt in his companion's breast. It is necessary for our story, to say, that near the hilt of this knife was stamped the name of Lamprey, an eminent cutler in Dublin. The shoeblack was brought to trial. With a number of significant gestures, which on his audience had all the powers that Demosthenes ascribes to action, he, in a language not purely attic, gave the following account of the affair to his judge.

"Why, my lard, as I was going past the Royal Exchange I meets Billy—'Billy,' says I, 'will you sky a copper?"—'Done,' says he—'Done,' says I—and done and done's enough between two jantleman.—With that I ranged them fair and even with my hook-em-snivey—up they go.—'Music!' says he—'Skull!' says I—and down they come three brown mazards.—'By the holy! you fleshed 'em,' says he—'You lie,' says I.—With that he ups with a lump of a two year old, and let's drive at me—I out's with my bread-earner, and gives it him up to Lamprey in the bread basket."

To make this intelligible to the English some comments are necessary. Let us follow the text, step by step, and it will afford our readers, as lord Kames says of Blair's Dissertation on Ossian, a delicious morsel of criticism.

As I was going past the Royal Exchange I meets Billy.

In this apparently simple exordium, the scene and the meeting with Billy are brought before the eye, by the judicious use of the present tense.

Billy, says I, will you sky a copper?

A copper! genus pro specie! the generic name of copper for the base individual halfpenny.

Sky a copper.

To sky is a new verb, which none but a master hand could have coined; a more splendid metonymy could not be applied upon a more trivial occasion; the lofty idea of raising a metal to the skies, is substituted for the mean thought of tossing up a halfpenny. Our orator compresses his hyperbole into a single word. Thus the mind is prevented from dwelling long enough upon the figure to perceive it's enormity. This is the perfection of the art. Let the genius of french exaggeration and of eastern hyperbole hide their diminished heads—Virgil is scarcely more sublime.

"Ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit."

"Her feet on earth, her head amidst the clouds."

Up they go, continues our orator.

Music! says he—Skull! says I.

Metaphor continually; on one side of an irish halfpenny there is a harp; this is expressed by the general term music, which is finely contrasted with the word skull.

Down they come, three brown mazards!

Mazards! how the diction of our orator is enriched from the vocabulary of Shakspeare! the word head, instead of being changed for a more general term, is here brought distinctly to the eye by the term mazard, or face, which is more appropriate to his majesty's profile than the words skull or head.

By the holy! you fleshed 'em, says he.

By the holy! is an oath in which more is meant than meets the ear; it is an ellipsis—an abridgement of an oath. The full formula runs thus—By the holy poker of Hell!—This instrument is of irish invention or imagination. It seems a useful peice of furniture in the place for which it is intended, to stir the devouring flames, and thus to increase the torments of the damned. Great judgment is necessary to direct an orator how to suit his terms to his auditors, so as not to shock their feelings either by what is too much above, or too much below common life. In the use of oaths, where the passions are warm, this must be particularly attended to, else they lose their effect, and seem more the result of the head than the heart. But to proceed—

By the holy! you fleshed 'em.

To flesh is another verb of Irish coinage; it means, in shoeblack dialect, to touch a halfpenny, as it goes up into the air, with the fleshy part of the thumb, so as to turn it which way you please, and thus to cheat your opponent.—What an intricate explanation saved by one word!

You lie, says I.

Here no periphrasis would do the business.

With that he ups with a lump of a two year old, and lets drive at me.

With that.—These are not unmeaning words, used like expletives by some orators, merely to gain time; for though the phrase, with that, varies in signification according to circumstances, either it denotes, that one action immediately follows another as it's consequence, or else it implies, that two actions happen, or two ideas occur, actually at the same time.

I ups with.—A verb is here formed of two prepositions—a novelty in grammar. Conjunctions, we all know, are corrupted anglo-saxon verbs; but prepositions, according to Horne Tooke, derive only from anglo-saxon nouns.

All this time it is possible, that the mere english reader may not be able to guess what it is, that our orator ups with or takes up. He should be apprised, that a lump of a two year old is a middle sized stone. This is a metaphor, borrowed partly from the grazier's vocabulary, and partly from the arithmetician's vade-mecum. A stone, to come under the denomination of a lump of a two year old, must be to a less stone, as a two year old calf is to a yearling; or it must be to a larger stone than itself, as a two year old calf is to an ox. Here the scholar sees, that there must be two statements, one in the rule of three direct, and one in the rule of three inverse, to obtain precisely the thing required; yet the untutored Irishman, without suspecting the necessity of this operose process, arrives at the solution of the problem by some short cut of his own, as he clearly evinces by the propriety of his metaphor. To be sure there seems some incongruity in his throwing this lump of a two year old calf at his adversary. No arm but that of Milo could be strong enough for such a feat. Upon recollection, however, bold as this figure may seem, there are precedents for it's use.

"We read in a certain author," says Beattie, "of a giant, who, in his wrath, tore off the top of the promontory and flung it at the enemy; and so huge was the mass, that you might, says he, have seen goats browsing on it as it flew through the air." Compared with this, our orator's figure is cold and tame.

"I outs with my bread-earner," continues he.

We forbear to comment on outs with, because the intelligent critic immediately perceives, that it has the same sort of merit ascribed to ups with. What our hero dignifies with the name of his bread-earner, is the knife with which, by scraping shoes, he earned his bread.—Pope's ingenious critic, Mr. Warton, bestows judicious praise upon the art with which this poet, in the Rape of the Lock, has used many "periphrases and uncommon expressions," to avoid mentioning the name of scissars, which would sound too vulgar for epic dignity;—fatal engine, forfex, meeting points, &c. Though the metonymy of bread-earner for a shoe-black's knife may not equal these in elegance, it perhaps surpasses them in ingenuity.

I gives it him up to Lamprey in the bread-basket.[27]

Homer is happy in his description of wounds, but this surpasses him in the characteristic choice of circumstance.—Up to Lamprey, gives us at once a complete idea of the length, breadth, and thickness of the wound, without the assistance of the coroner. It reminds us of a passage in Virgil—

"Cervice orantis capulo tenus abdidit ensem."

"Up to the hilt his shining falchion sheathed."

Let us now compare the irish shoe-black's metaphorical language with the sober slang of an english blackguard, who, fortunately for the fairness of the comparison, was placed somewhat in similar circumstances.

Lord Mansfield, examining a man who was a witness in the court of King's Bench, asked him, what he knew of the defendant.

"O, my lord, I knew him. I was up to him."

"Up to him!" says his lordship, "what do you mean by being up to him?"

"Mean, my lord why, I was down upon him."

"Up to him and down upon him!" says his lordship, turning to counsellor Dunning, "what does the fellow mean?"

"Why, I mean, my lord, as deep as he thought himself, I stagged him."

"I cannot conceive, friend," says his lordship, "what you mean by this sort of language, I do not understand it."

"Not understand it!" rejoined the fellow, with surprise, "Lord, what a flat you must be!"

Though he undervalued lord Mansfield, this man does not seem to have been a very bright genius. In his cant words "up to him—down upon him—stagged him," there are no metaphors; and we confess ourselves to be as great flats as his lordship, for we do not understand this sort of language.

"True, no meaning puzzles more than wit,"

As we may see in another english example. Proverbs have been called the wisdom of nations, therefore it is fair to have recourse to them in estimating national abilities. Now there is an old english proverb, "Tenterten steeple is the cause of Goodwin sands."

"This proverb," says Mr. Ray, "is used, when an absurd and ridiculous reason is given of any thing in question; an account of the original whereof I find in one of bishop Latimer's sermons in these words—'Mr. Moore was once sent with commission into Kent, to try out, if it might be, what was the cause of Goodwin's sands, and the shelf which stopped up Sandwich haven. Thither cometh Mr. Moore, and calleth all the country before him, such as were thought to be men of experience, and men that could, of all likelihood, best satisfy him of the matter, concerning the stopping of Sandwich haven. Among the rest came in before him an old man with a white head, and one that was thought to be little less than a hundred years old. When Mr. Moore saw this aged man, he thought it expedient to hear him say his mind in this matter, (for being so old a man, it was likely that he knew the most in that presence or company,) so Mr. Moore called this old aged man unto him and said, "Father, (said he) tell me, if you can, what is the cause of the great arising of the sands and shelves hereabout this haven, which stop it up, so that no ships can arrive here. You are the oldest man I can espy in all the company, so that if any man can tell any cause of it, you, of all likelihood, can say most to it, or, at leastwise, more than any man here assembled."

"Yea, forsooth, good Mr. Moore," quoth this old man, "for I am well nigh a hundred years old, and no man here in this company any thing near my age."

"Well, then," quoth Mr. Moore, "how say you to this matter? What think you to be the cause of these shelves and sands, which stop up Sandwich haven?"

"Forsooth, sir," quoth he, "I am an old man, I think that Tenterten steeple is the cause of Goodwin's sands. For I am an old man, sir," quoth he, "I may remember the buildings of Tenterten steeple, and I may remember when there was no steeple at all there; and before that Tenterten or Totterden steeple was in building, there was no manner of talking of any flats or sands that stopped up the haven, and therefore I think, that Tenterten steeple is the cause of the decay and destroying of Sandwich haven[28]."—Thus far the bishop.

The prolix pertinacity, with which this old aged man adheres to the opinion that he had formed without any intelligible reason, is characteristic of an english peasant; but however absurd his mode of judging may be, and however confused and incongruous his ideas, his species of absurdity surely bears no resemblance to an hibernian blunder. We cannot even suspect it to be possible, that a man of this slow circumspect character could be in any danger of making an irish bull; and we congratulate the english peasantry and populace as a body, upon their possessing that temper which

Wisely rests content with sober sense,

Nor makes to dangerous wit a vain pretence."

Even the slang of english pickpockets and coiners is, as we may see in Colquhoun's View of the Metropolis, free from all seducing mixture of wit and humour.—What Englishman would ever have thought of calling persons in the pillory the babes in the wood. This is a common cant phrase amongst Dublin reprobates. Undoubtedly such phrases tend to lessen the power of shame and the effect of punishment, and a witty rogue will lead numbers to the gallows. English morality is not in so much danger as irish manners must be from these humorous talents in their knights of industry. If nevertheless there be frequent executions for capital crimes in England, we must account for this in the words of the old lord chief justice Fortescue—"More men," says his lordship, "are hanged in Englonde in one year than in Fraunce in seven, because the English have better hartes; the Scotchmenne likewise never dare rob, but only commit larcenies." At all events the phlegmatic temper of Englonde secures her from making bulls. The propensity to this species of blunder exists in minds of a totally different cast; in those who are quick and enthusiastic, who are confounded by the rapidity and force with which undisciplined multitudes of ideas crowd for utterance. Persons of such intellectual characters are apt to make elisions in speaking, which they trust the capacities of their audience will supply: passing rapidly over a long chain of thought, they sometimes forget the intermediate links, and no one but those of equally rapid habits can follow them successfully.

We hope that the evidence of the Dublin shoeblack has, in some degree, tended to prove our minor, that the Irish are disposed to use figurative language; we shall not however rest our cause upon a single evidence, however respectable; but before we summon our other witnesses, we beg to relieve the reader's attention, which must have been fatigued by such a chapter of criticism.—They shall now have the plain "unvarnished tale" of a mendicant. A specimen of city rhetoric is given in the shoeblack; the country mendicant's eloquence is of a totally different species.

[27] The stomach.

[28] This ancient old man, we fear, was more knave than fool. History informs us, that the bishop of Rochester had directed the revenue, appropriated for keeping Goodwin harbour in repair, to the purpose of building a steeple.—Vide Fuller's Worthies of England, page 65.


The Hibernian Mendicant.


Perhaps the reader may wish to see as well as hear the petitioner. At first view you might have taken him for a Spaniard: he was tall; and if he had been a gentleman, you would have said that there was an air of dignity in his figure. He seemed very old, yet he appeared more worn by sorrow than by time. Leaning upon a thick oaken stick as he took off his hat to ask for alms, his white hair was blown by the wind.

"Health and long life to you!" said he. "Give an old man something to help to bury him.—He is past his labour, and cannot trouble this world long any way."

He held his hat towards us, with nothing importunate in his manner, but rather with a look of confidence in us, mixed with habitual resignation. His thanks were,—"Heaven bless you! Long life and success to you! to you and yours! and may you never want a friend, as I do."

The last words were spoken low. He laid his hand upon his heart as he bowed to us, and walked slowly away. We called him back; and upon our questioning him farther, he gave the following account of himself.

"I was bred and born—but no matter where such a one as I was bred and born, no more than where I may die, and be buried. I, that have neither son, nor daughter, nor kin, nor friend on the wide Earth to mourn over my grave, when I am laid in it, as I soon must—Well! when it pleases God to take me I shall never be missed out of this world, so much as by a dog—And why should I? Having never in my time done good to any—but evil—which I have lived to repent me of many's the long day and night, and ever shall whilst I have sense and reason left. In my youthful days, God was too good to me: I had friends, and a little home of my own to go to—a pretty spot of land for a farm as you could see, with a snug cabin, and every thing complete, and all to be mine; for I was the only one my father and mother had, and accordingly was made much of, too much; for I grew headstrong upon it, and high, and thought nothing of any man, and little of any woman—but one. That one I surely did think of; and well worth thinking of she was. Beauty, they say, is all fancy; but she was a girl every man might fancy. Never was one more sought after. She was then just in her prime, and full of life and spirits; but nothing light in her behaviour—quite modest—yet obliging. She was too good for me to be thinking of, no doubt; but 'faint heart never won fair lady,' so I made bold to speak to Rose, for that was her name, and after a world of pains, I began to gain upon her good liking, but couldn't get her to say more than that she never seen the man she should fancy so well.—This was a great deal from her, for she was coy, and proud like, as she had a good right to be; and, besides being young, loved her little innocent pleasure, and could not easy be brought to give up her sway.—No fault of hers: but all very natural.—Well! I always considered she never would have held out so long, nor have been so stiff with me, had not it been for an old aunt Honour of hers—God rest her soul! One should not be talking ill of the dead—but she was more out of my way than enough: yet the cratur had no malice in her against me, only meaning her child's good, as she called it, but mistook it, and thought to make Rose happy by some greater match than me, counting her fondness for me, which she could not but see something of, childishness, that she would soon be broke of. Now there was a party of english soldiers quartered in our town, and there was a sergeant amongst them that had money, and a pretty place, as they said, in his own country. He courted Rose, and the aunt favoured him. He and I could never relish one another at all. He was a handsome portly man, but very proud, and looked upon me as dirt under his feet, because I was an Irishman; and at every word would say, "That's an irish bull!" or "Do you hear Paddy's brogue?"—at which his fellow soldiers, being all English, would look greatly delighted. Now all this I could have taken in good part from any but him, for I was not an ill humoured fellow; but there was a spite in him I plainly saw against me, and I could not nor would not take a word from him against me or my country, especially when Rose was by, who did not like me the worse for having a proper spirit. She little thought what would come of it.—Whilst all this was going on, her aunt Honour found to object against me, that I was wild and given to drink, both which charges were false and malicious, and I knew could come from none other than the sergeant, which enraged me the more against him for speaking so mean behind my back—Now I knew, that though the sergeant did not drink spirits, he drank plenty of beer. Rose took it, however, to heart, and talked very serious upon it, observing, she could never think to marry a man given to drink, and that the sergeant was remarkable sober and staid; therefore most like, as her aunt Honour said, to make a good husband. The words went straight to my heart, along with Rose's look.—I said not a word but went out, resolving before I slept to take an oath against spirits of all sorts for Rose's sweet sake. That evening I fell in with some boys of the neighbours, who would have had me along with them, but I denied myself and them; and all I would taste was one parting glass, and then made my vow in the presence of the priest, forswearing spirits for two years. Then I went straight to her house to tell her what I had done, not being sensible that I was that same time a little elevated with the parting glass I had taken. The first thing I noticed on going into the room was the man I least wished to see there, and least looked for at this minute: he was in high talk with the aunt, and Rose sitting on the other side of him, no way strange towards him as I fancied; but that was only fancy, and effect of the liquor I had drunk, which made me see things wrong. I went up and put my head between them, asking Rose, did she know what I had been about?"

"'Yes—too well?' said she drawing back from my breath.—And the aunt looked at her, and she at the aunt, and the sergeant stopped his nose, saying he had not been long enough in Ireland to love the smell of whiskey.—I observed, that was an uncivil remark in the present company, and added, that I had not taken a drop that night, but one glass. At which he sneered and said, that was a bull and a blunder, but no wonder as I was an Irishman. I replied in defence of myself and country.—We went on from one smart word to another; and some of his soldiermen being of the company he had the laugh against me still. I was vexed to see Rose bear so well what I could not bear myself. And the talk grew higher and higher; and from talking of blunders and such trifles, we got, I cannot myself tell you how, on to great party matters, and politics, and religion. And I was a catholic, and he a protestant; and there he had the thing still against me. The company seeing matters not agreeable, dropped off till none were left but the sergeant, and the aunt, and Rose, and myself. The aunt gave me a hint to part, but I would not take it; for I could not bear to go away worsted, and borne down as it were by the english faction, and Rose by to judge. The aunt was called out by one, who wanted her to go to a funeral next day: the Englishman then let fall something about our irish howl, and savages, which Rose herself said was uncivil, she being an irish woman, which he, thinking only of making game on me, had forgot.—I knocked him down, telling him it was he that was the savage to affront a lady. As he got up he said, that he'd have the law of me, if any law was to be had in Ireland."

"'The law!' said I, 'and you a soldier!'"

"'Do you mean to call me coward?' said he. 'This is what an english soldier must not bear.' With that he snatches at his arms that were beside him, asking me again, did I mean to call an Englishman coward?"

"'Tell me first,' said I; 'Did you mean to call us irish savages?'"

"'That's no answer to my question,' says he, 'or only an irish answer.'"

"'It is not the worse for that, may be,' says I, very coolly, despising the man now, and just took up a knife, that was on the table, to cut off a button that was hanging at my knee. As I was opening of the knife he asks me, was I going to stab at him with my irish knife, and directly fixes a bayonet at me; on which I seizes a musket and bayonet one of his men had left; telling him I knew the use of it as well as he or any Englishman; and better, for that I should never have gone, as he did, to charge it against an unarmed man."

"'You had your knife,' said he drawing back."

"'If I had, it was not thinking of you,' said I, throwing the knife away. 'See! I'm armed like yourself now; fight me like a man and a soldier, if you dare,' says I."

"'Fight me, if you dare,' says he."

"Rose calls to me to stop; but we were both out of ourselves at the minute—we thrust at each other—he missed me—I hit him. Rose ran in between us to get the musquet from my hand: it was loaded, and went off in the struggle, and the ball lodged in her body—she fell! and what happened next I cannot tell, for the sight left my eyes, and all sense forsook me. When I came to myself the house was full of people, going to and fro, some whispering, some crying, and till the words reached my ears—'Is she quite dead?'—I could not understand where I was, or what had happened.—I wished to forget again, but could not. The whole truth came upon me, and yet I could not shed a tear! but just pushed my way through the crowd into the inner room, and up to the side of the bed. There she lay stretched, almost a corpse—quite still!—her sweet eyes closed, and no colour in her cheeks, that had the night before been so rosy!—I took hold of one of her hands, that hung down, and she then opens her eyes, and knew me directly, and smiles upon me, and says—'It was no fault of yours: take notice all of you, it was no fault of his if I die; but that I won't do for his sake, if I can help it!'—that was the word she spoke. I thinking, from her speaking so strong, that she was not badly hurt, knelt down to whisper her, that if my breath did smell of spirits the last night, it was the parting glass I had tasted before making the vow I had done against drink for her sake; and that there was nothing I would not do for her, if it would please God to spare her to me. She just pressed my hand, to show me she was sensible. The priest came in, and they forced our hands asunder, and carried me away out of the room.—Presently there was a great cry, and I knew all was over."

Here the old man's voice failed, and he turned his face from us. When he had somewhat recovered himself, to change the course of his thoughts, we asked, whether he were prosecuted for his assault on the english sergeant, and what became of him?

"Oh! to do him justice, as one should do to every one," said the old man, "he behaved very handsome to me when I was brought to trial; and told the whole truth, only blamed himself more than I would have done, and said it was all his fault for laughing at me and my nation more than a man could bear, situated as I was. They acquitted me through his means. We shook hands, and he hoped all would go right with me, he said; but nothing ever went right with me after. I took little note ever after of worldly matters: all belonging to me went to rack and ruin. The hand of God was upon me—I could not help myself, nor settle mind or body to any thing. I heard them say sometimes I was a little touched in my head: however that might be I cannot say. But at the last I found it was as good for me to give all that was left to my friends, who were better able to manage, and more eager for it than I; and fancying a roving life would agree with me best, I quit the place, taking nothing with me, but resolved to walk the world, and just trust to the charity of good Christians, or die, as it should please God. How I have lived so long, he only knows, and his will be done."


Irish Wit and Eloquence.


"Wild wit, invention ever new"—appear in high perfection amongst even the youngest inhabitants of an Irish cottage. The word wit, amongst the lower classes in Ireland, means not only quickness of repartee, but cleverness in action; it implies invention and address, with no slight mixture of cunning; all which is expressed in their dialect by the single word 'cuteness (acuteness). Examples will give a better notion of this than can be conveyed by any definition.

An Irish boy (a 'cute lad,) saw a train of his companions leading their cars loaded with kishes[29] of turf coming towards his father's cabin; his father had no turf, and the question was how some should be obtained. To beg he was ashamed; to dig he was unwilling—but his head went to work directly: he took up a turf which had fallen from one of the cars the preceding day, and stuck it on the top of a pole near the cabin. When the cars were passing, he appeared throwing turf at the mark—"Boys! cried he, "which of ye will hit?" Each leader of the car, as he passed, could not forbear to fling a turf at the mark; the turf fell at the foot of the pole, and when all the cars had passed there was a heap left sufficient to reward the ingenuity of our little Spartan.

The same 'cuteness which appears in youth continues and improves in old age. When general V—— was quartered in a small town in Ireland, he and his lady were regularly besieged, whenever they got into their carriage, by an old beggarwoman, who kept her post at the door, assailing them daily with fresh importunities and fresh tales of distress. At last the lady's charity, and the general's patience, were nearly exhausted, but their petitioner's wit was still in it's pristine vigour. One morning, at the accustomed hour, when the lady was getting into her carriage, the old woman began—"Agh! my lady; success to your ladyship, and success to your honour's honour, this morning, of all days in the year; for sure didn't I dream last night, that her ladyship gave me a pound of tea and that your honour gave me a pound of tobacco?"

"But, my good woman," said the general, "do not you know, that dreams always go by the rule of contrary?"

"Do they so, plase your honour," rejoined the old woman. "Then it must be your honour that will give me the tea, and her ladyship that will give me the tobacco."

The general being of Sterne's opinion, that a bon mot is always worth more than a pinch of snuff, gave the ingenious dreamer the value of her dream.

Innumerable instances might be quoted of the hibernian genius, not merely for repartee, but for what the Italians call pasquinade. We shall cite only one, which, is already so well known in Ireland, that we cannot be found guilty of publishing a libel. Over the ostentatious front of a nobleman's house in Dublin, the owner had this motto cut in stone:—

Otium cum dignitate.—Leisure with dignity.

In process of time his lordship changed his residence, or, since we must descend to plebeian language, was committed to Newgate, and immediately there appeared over the front of his apartment his chosen motto, as large as the life, in white chalk,

Otium cum dignitate.

Mixed with keen satire, the Irish often show a sort of cool good sense and dry humour which gives not only effect but value to their impromptus. Of this class is the observation made by the irish hackney coachman, upon seeing a man of the ton driving four in hand down Bond-street.

"That fellow," said our observer, "looks like a coachman, but drives like a gentleman."

As an instance of humour mixed with sophistry, we beg the reader to recollect the popular story of the Irishman, who was run over by a troop of horse and miraculously escaped unhurt.

"Down upon your knees and thank God, you reprobate," said one of the spectators.

"Thank God! for what? Is it for letting a troop of horse run over me?"

In this speech there is the same sort of humour and sophistry, that appears in the Irishman's celebrated question—"What has posterity done for me, that I should do so much for posterity?"

The irish nation from the highest to the lowest in daily conversation about the ordinary affairs of life, employ a superfluity of wit and metaphor which would be astonishing and unintelligible to a majority of the respectable body of english yeomen. Even the cutters of turf and drawers of whiskey, are orators; even the cottiers and gossoons speak in trope and figure. Ask an irish gossoon to go early in the morning on an errand, and he answers,

"I'll be off at the flight of night."

If an irish cottager would express to his landlord that he wishes for a long lease of his land he says,

"I would be proud to live on your honour's land as long as grass grows or water runs."

One of our English poets has nearly the same idea.

"As long as streams in silver mazes run,

Or spring with annual green renews the grove."

Without the advantages of a classical education the lower Irish sometimes make similes that bear a near resemblance to those of the admired poets of antiquity. A loyalist, during the late rebellion, was describing to us the numbers of the rebels who had gathered on one spot, and were dispersed by the king's army,—rallied, and were again put to flight.

"They were," said he, "like swarms of flies on a summer's day, that you brush away with your hand, and still they will be returning."

There is a simile of Homer's, which literally translated runs thus; "as the numerous troops of flies about a shepherd's cottage in the spring, when the milk moistens the pails, such numbers of Greeks stood in the field against the Trojans." Lord Kaims observes that it is false taste to condemn such comparisons, for the lowness of the images introduced. In fact, great objects cannot be degraded by comparison with small ones in these similes, because the only point of resemblance is number; the mind instantly perceives this, and therefore requires no other species of similitude.

When we attempt to judge of the genius of the lower classes of the people, we must take care that we are not under the influence of any prejudice of an aristocratic or literary nature. But this is no easy effort of liberality.

"Agh! Dublin, sweet Jasus be wid you!" exclaimed a poor Irishman, as he stood on the deck of a vessel, which was carrying him out of the bay of Dublin. The pathos of this poor fellow, will not probably effect delicate sensibility, because he says wid instead of with, and Jasus instead of Jesus.—Adam Smith is certainly right in his theory, that the sufferings of those in exalted stations have generally most power to command our sympathy. The very same sentiment of sorrow at leaving his country, which was expressed so awkwardly by the poor Irishman, appears, to every reader of taste, exquisitely pathetic from the lips of Mary queen of Scots.

"Farewell France! Farewell beloved country which I shall never more behold".[30]

In anger as well as in sorrow the Irishman is eloquent. A gentleman who was lately riding through the county of —— in Ireland to canvass, called to ask a vote from a poor man, who was planting willows in a little garden by the road side.

"You have a vote, my good sir, I am told," said the candidate, in an insinuating tone.

The poor man struck the willow which he had in his hand into the ground, and with a deliberate pace came towards the candidate to parley with him.

"Please your honour," said he, gravely, "I have a vote, and I have not a vote,"

"How can that be?"

"I will tell you, sir," said he, leaning, or rather lying down slowly upon the back of the ditch facing the road, so that the gentleman who was on horseback could see only his head and arms.

"Sir," said he, "out of this little garden, with my five acres of land and my own labour, I once had a freehold—but I have been robbed of my freehold, and who do you think has robbed me? why, that man!" pointing to his landlord's steward, who stood beside me.—"With my own hands I sowed my own ground with oats, and a fine crop I expected—but I never reaped that crop;—not a bushel, no, nor half a bushel did I ever see; for into my little place comes this man, with I don't know how many more, with their shovels and their barrows, and their horses and their cars, and to work they fell, and they ran a road straight through the best part of my land, turning all to heaps of rubbish, and a bad road it was, and a bad time of year to make it!—But where was I when he did this? not where I am now," said the orator, raising himself up and standing firm, "not as you see me now, but lying on my back in my bed in a fever. When I got up, I was not able to make my rent out of my land. Besides myself, I had my five children to support. I sold my clothes, and have never been able to buy any since, but such as a recruit could sell, who was in haste to get into regimentals—such clothes as these," said he, looking down at his black rags. "Soon I had nothing to eat—but that's not all.—I am a weaver, sir; for my rent they seized my two looms; then I had nothing to do. But of all this I do not complain.——There was an election some time ago in this county, and a man rode up to me in this garden as you do now, and asked me for my vote, but I refused him, for I was steady to my landlord. The gentleman observed I was a poor man, and asked if I wanted for nothing? but all did not signify, so he rode on gently, and at the corner of the road, within view of my garden, I saw him drop a purse, and I knew by his looking at me, it was on purpose for me to pick it up. After a while he came back thinking, to be sure, I had taken up the purse and had changed my mind, but he found his purse where he left it. My landlord knew all this, and he promised to see justice done me, but he forgot. Then, as for the candidate's lady, before the election nothing was too fair-speaking for me; but afterward, in my distress, when I applied to her to get me a loom, which she could have had from the Linen Board by only asking for it, her answer to me was—'I don't know that I shall ever want a vote again in the county.'

"Now, sir," continued he, "when justice is done to me (and no sooner) I shall be glad to assist my landlord or his friend.—I know who you are, sir, very well—you bear a good character—success to you! but I have no vote to give to you or any man."

"If I were to attempt to make you any amends for what you have suffered, replied the candidate, I should do you an injury; it would be said that I had bribed you; but I will repeat your story where it will meet with attention. I cannot however ever tell it so well as you have told it."

"No, sir," was his answer, "for you cannot feel it as I do."

This is almost, in terms, the conclusion of Pope's epistle from Eloisa to Abelard.

"He best can paint them who shall feel them most."

In objurgation and pathetic remonstrancing eloquence, the females of the lower class in Ireland are not inferior to the men. A thin tall woman wrapped in a long cloak, the hood of which was drawn over her head, and shaded her pale face, came to a gentleman to complain of the cruelty of her landlord.

"He is the most hard hearted man alive, so he is, sir," said she; "he has just seized all I have, which, God knows, is little enough! and has driven my cow to pound, the only cow I have, and only dependance I have for a drop of milk to drink; and the cow itself too standing there starving in the pound, for not a wisp of hay would he give to cow or Christian to save their lives, if it was ever so! And the rent for which he is driving me, please your honour, has not been due but one week; a hard master he is: but these middle men are all so, one and all. Oh! if it had but been my lot to be tenant to a gentleman born, like your honour, who is the poor man's friend, and the orphan's, and the widow's—the friend of them that have none other. Long life to you! and long may you live to reign over us!—Would you but speak three words to my landlord, to let my cow out of pound, and give me a fortnight's time, that I might see and fatten her to sell against the fair, I could pay him then all honestly, and not be racked entirely, and he would be ashamed to refuse your honour, and afraid to disoblige the like of you, or get your ill will. May the blessing of Heaven be upon you, if you'll just send and speak to him three words for the poor woman and widow, that has none other to speak for her in the wide world."

Moved by this lamentable story, the effect of which the woman's whole miserable appearance corroborated and heightened, the gentleman sent immediately for her hard hearted landlord. The landlord appeared; not a gentleman, not a rich man, as the term landlord might denote, but a stout, square, stubbed, thick limbed, gray eyed man, who seemed to have come smoking hot from hard labour. The gentleman repeated the charge made against him by the poor widow, and mildly remonstrated on his cruelty: the man heard all that was said with a calm but unmoved countenance.

"And now have you done?" said he, turning to the woman, who had recommenced her lamentations. "Look at her standing there, sir. It's easy for her to put on her long cloak, and to tell her long story, and to make her poor mouth to your honour; but if you are willing to hear, I'll tell you what she is, and what I am. She is one that has none but herself in this world to provide for; she is one that is able to afford herself a glass of whiskey when she pleases, and she pleases it often; she is one that never denies herself the bit of staggering bob[31] when in season; she is one that has a snug house well thatched to live in all the year round, and nothing to do or nothing that she does, and this is the way of her life, and this is what she is.—And what am I? I am the father of eight children, and I have a wife and myself to provide for. I am a man that is at hard labour of one kind or another from sunrise to sunset. The straw that thatched the house she lives in, I brought two mile on my back; the walls of the house she lives in I built with my own hands; I did the same by five other houses, and they are all sound and dry, and good to live in, summer or winter. I set them for rent to put bread into my children's mouth, and after all I cannot get it! And to support my eight children, and my wife, and myself, what have I in this world," cried he, striding suddenly with colossal firmness upon his sturdy legs, and raising to Heaven arms which looked like foreshortenings of the limbs of Hercules—"What have I in this wide world but these four bones?"[32]

No provocation could have worked up a phlegmatic english countryman to this pitch of eloquence. He never suffers his anger to evaporate in idle figures of speech: it is always concentrated in a few words which he repeats in reply to every argument, persuasive or invective, that can be employed to irritate or to assuage his wrath. We recollect having once been present at a scene between an english gentleman and a churchwarden, whose feelings were grievously hurt by the disturbance that had been given to certain bones in levelling a wall, which separated the churchyard from the pleasure ground of the lord of the manor. The bones belonged, as the churchwarden believed or averred, to his great great grandmother, though how they were identified it might be difficult to explain to an indifferent judge; yet we are to suppose, that the confirmation of the suspicion was strong and satisfactory to the party concerned. The pious great great grandson's feelings were all in arms, but indignation did not inspire him with a single poetic idea or expression. In his eloquence, indeed, there was the principal requisite action: in reply to all that could be said, he repeatedly struck his long oak stick perpendicularly upon the floor, and reiterated these words—

"It's death, sir! death by the law!—It's sacrilege, sir! sacrilege by act of parliament!—It's death sir! death by the law! and the law I'll have of him, for it's lawful to have the law."

This was the whole range of his ideas, even when the passions had tumbled them all out of their dormitories.

Innumerable fresh instances of irish eloquence and wit crowd upon our recollection, but we forbear—The examples we have cited are taken from real life, and given without alteration or embellishment.

[29] Baskets.

[30] Vide Robertson's History of Scotland.

[31] Slink calf.

[32] This was taken down a few minutes after it had been spoken.


The Brogue.


Having proved by a perfect syllogism, that the Irish must blunder, we might rest satisfied with our labours, but there are minds of so perverse a sort, that they will not yield their understandings to the torturing power of syllogism.

It may be waste of time to address ourselves to persons of such a cast, we shall therefore change our ground, and adapt our arguments to the level of vulgar capacities. Much of the comic effect of irish bulls, or of such speeches as are mistaken for bulls, has depended upon the tone, or brogue, as it is called, with which they are uttered. The first irish blunders that we hear are made or repeated in this peculiar tone, and afterward, from the power of association, whenever we hear the tone, we expect the blunder. Now there is little danger, that the Irish should be cured of their brogue; and consequently there is no great reason to apprehend, that we should cease to think or call them blunderers.

Of the powerful effect of any peculiarity of pronunciation to prepossess the mind against the speaker, nay even to excite dislike amounting to antipathy, we have an instance attested by an eye witness, or rather an ear witness.

"In the year 1755," says the rev. James Adams, "I attended a public disputation in a foreign university, when at least 400 Frenchmen literally hissed a grave and learned english doctor, not by way of insult, but irresistibly provoked by the quaintness of the repetition of sh. The thesis was the concurrence of God in actionibus viciosis: the whole hall resounded with the hissing cry of sh, and it's continual occurrence in actio, actione, viciosa, &c."

It is curious, that Shiboleth should so long continue a criterion among nations!

What must have been the degree of irritation, that could so far get the better of the politeness of 400 Frenchmen, as to make them hiss in the days of l'ancien regime! The dread of being the object of that species of antipathy or ridicule, which is excited by unfashionable peculiarity of accent, has induced many of the misguided natives of Ireland to affect, what they imagine to be the english pronunciation. They are seldom successful in this attempt, for they generally overdo the business. We are told by Theophrastus, that a barbarian, who had taken some pains to attain the true attic dialect, was discovered to be a foreigner by his speaking the attic dialect with a greater degree of precision and purity, than was usual amongst the Athenians themselves. To avoid the imputation of committing barbarisms, people sometimes run into solecisms, which are yet more ridiculous. Affectation is always more ridiculous than ignorance.

There are irish ladies who, ashamed of their country, betray themselves, by mincing out their abjuration, by calling tables teebles, and chairs cheers! To such renegadoes we prefer the honest quixotism of a modern champion[33] for the scottish accent, who, boldly asserting, that "the broad dialect rises above, reproach, scorn, and laughter," enters the lists, as he says of himself, in Tartan dress and armour, and throws down the gauntlet to the most prejudiced antagonist—"How weak is prejudice!" pursues this patriotic enthusiast, "the sight of the highland kelt, the flowing plaid, the buskin'd leg, provokes my antagonist to laugh!—Is this dress ridiculous in the eyes of reason and common sense? No: nor is the dialect of speech: both are characteristic and national distinctions.

"The arguments of general vindication," continues he, "rise powerful before my sight, like the highland bands in full array. A louder strain of apologetic speech swells my words. What if it should rise high as the unconquered summits of Scotia's hills, and call back with voice sweet as caledonian song, the days of ancient scottish heroes, or attempt the powerful speech of the latian orator, or his of Greece! The subject, methinks, would well accord with the attempt: Cupidum, Scotia optima, vires deficiunt. I leave this to the king of songs. Dunbar and Dunkeld, Douglas in virgilian strains, and later poets, Ramsay, Ferguson and Burns, awake from your graves, you have already immortalized the scotch dialect in raptured melody! Lend me your golden target and well pointed spear, that I may victoriously pursue, to the extremity of South Britain, reproachful Ignorance and Scorn still lurking there:—Let impartial Candour seize their usurped throne.—Great then is the birth of this national dialect," &c.

So far so good. We have some sympathy with the rhapsodist, whose enthusiasm kindles at the names of Allen Ramsay and of Burns, nay, we are willing to hear (with a grain of allowance), that "the manly eloquence of the scotch bar affords a singular pleasure to the candid english hearer, and gives merit and dignity to the noble speakers, who retain so much of their own dialect and tempered propriety of english sounds, that they may be emphatically termed british orators." But we confess that we lose our patient decorum, and are almost provoked to laughter, when our philological Quixote seriously sets about to prove, that Adam and Eve spoke broad Scotch in Paradise. But let us check our laughter, for our hero will not even permit us to smile at the learned etymologist, who in the time of queen Elizabeth wrote a folio to prove, that pure Welsh was the language of Adam and Eve in Paradise. How it could be both broad Scotch and pure Welsh we know not; but we must not, according to our grave scholiast, let "loose those muscles, which exhibit the impression of ignorance joined with surprise, for that is the source of the weakest passion in man—laughter, which is no confutation of errour."

How angry has this grave patriot reason to be with his ingenious countryman Beattie[34], the celebrated champion of Truth, who acknowledges, that he never could, when a boy or man, look at a certain translation of Ajax's speech into one of the vulgar scotch dialects without laughing!

We shall now with boldness, similar to that of the scotch champion, try the risible muscles of our english readers; we are not, indeed, inclined to go quite such lengths as he has gone: he insists, that the scotch dialect ought to be adopted all over England; we are only going candidly to confess, that we think the Irish, in general, speak better English than is commonly spoken by the natives of England. To limit this proposition so as to make it appear less absurd, we should observe, that we allude to the lower classes of the people in both countries. In some counties in Ireland, a few of the poorest labourers and cottagers do not understand English, they speak only Irish, as in Wales there are vast numbers who speak only Welsh; but amongst those who speak English we find fewer vulgarisms, than amongst the same rank of persons in England. The English which they speak is chiefly such as has been traditional in their families from the time of the early settlers in the island. During the reign of Elizabeth and the reign of Shakspeare, numbers of English migrated to Ireland; and whoever attends to the phraseology of the lower Irish may, at this day, hear many of the phrases and expressions used by Shakspeare. Their vocabulary has been preserved nearly in it's pristine purity since that time, because they have not had intercourse with those counties in England, which have made for themselves a jargon, unlike to any language under Heaven. The Irish brogue is a great and shameful defect, but it does not render the english language absolutely unintelligible. There are but a few variations of the brogue, such as the long and the short, the thady brogue and paddy brogue, which differ much in tone, and but little in phraseology; but in England, almost all of our fifty-two counties have peculiar vulgarisms, dialects, and brogues, unintelligible to their neighbours. As Herodotus tells us, that some of the nations of Greece, though they used the same language, spoke it so differently, that they could not understand each other's conversation. This is literally the case at present between the provincial inhabitants of remote parts of England. Indeed the language peculiar to the metropolis, or the cockney dialect, is proverbially ridiculous. The londoners, who look down with contempt upon all, that have not been bred and born within the sound of Bow, talk with unconscious absurdity of weal and winegar, and vine and vindors, and idears, and ask you 'ow you do? and 'ave ye bin taking the hair in 'yde park, and 'as your 'orse 'ad any hoats, &c.; aspirating always where they should not, and never aspirating where they should.

The Zummerzetzheer dialect full of broad oos and eternal zeds, supplies never failing laughter, when brought upon the stage. Even a cockney audience relishes the broad pronunciation of John Moody, in the Journey to London, or of Sim in Wild Oats.

The cant of Suffolk, the vulgarisms of Shropshire, the uncouth phraseology of the three ridings of Yorkshire, amaze and bewilder foreigners, who perhaps imagine, that they do not understand english, when they are in company with those who cannot speak it. The patois of Languedoc and Champagne, such as "Mein fis sest ai bai via," Mon fils c'est un beau veau, exercises, it is true, the ingenuity of travellers and renders many scenes of Moliere and Marivaux difficult, if not unintelligible, to those who have never resided in the french provinces; but no french patois is more unintelligible than the following specimen of Tummas and Meary's Lancashire dialogue.

Thomas. "Whau, but I startit up to goa to th' tits, on slurr'd deawn to th' lower part o' th' heymough, on by th' maskins, lord! whot dust think? boh leet hump stridd'n up o' summot ot felt meety heury, on it startit weh meh on its back, deawn th' lower part o' th' mough it jumpt, crost th' leath, eawt o' th' dur wimmey it took, on into th' weturing poo, os if th' dule o' Hell had driv'n it, on there it threw meh en, or I feel off, I connaw tell whether, for th' life o' meh, into the poo."

Mary. "Whoo-wo, whoo-wo, whoo! whot, ith neme o' God! widneh sey?"

Thomas. "If it wur naw Owd Nick, he wur th' orderer on't, to be shure ***. Weh mitch powlering I geet eawt o' th' poo, 'lieve[35] meh, as to list, I could na tell whether i'r in a sleawm or wak'n, till eh groapt ot meh een; I crope under a wough and stode like o' gawmbling[36], or o parfit neatril, till welly day," &c.

Let us now listen to a conversation which we hope will not be quite so unintelligible.

[33] James Adams, S.R.E.S., author of a book entitled "The Pronunciation of the English Language vindicated from imputed Anomaly and Caprice, with an Appendix on the Dialects of human Speech in all Countries, and an analytical Discussion and Vindication of the Dialect of Scotland."

[34] Vide Illustrations on Sublimity, in his essays.

[35] The glossary to the Lancashire dialect informs us, that 'lieve me comes from Beleemy, believe me; from Belamy, my good friend, old French.

[36] Gawmbling (Anglo-Saxon gawmless), stupid.


Bath Coach Conversation.


In one of the coaches, which travel between Bath and London, an irish, a scotch, and an english gentleman happened to be passengers. They were well informed and well bred; had seen the world, had lived in good company, and were consequently superiour to local and national prejudice. As their conversation was illustrative of our subject, we shall make no apology for relating it. We pass the usual preliminary compliments, and the observations upon the weather and the roads. The irish gentleman first started a more interesting subject—the Union; it's probable advantages and disadvantages were fully discussed, and, at last, the Irishman said, "Whatever our political opinions may be, there is one wish in which we shall all agree, that the union may make us better acquainted with one another."

"It is surprising," said the Englishman, "how ignorant we English in general are of Ireland: to be sure we do not now, as in the times of Bacon and Spencer, believe that Wild Irishmen have wings, nor do we all of us give credit to Mr. Twiss's assertion, that if you look at an irish lady she answers "port, if you please."

Scotchman.—"That traveller seems to be almost as liberal, as he who defined oats—food for horses in England, and for men in Scotland: such illiberal notions die away of themselves."

Irishman.—"Or they are contradicted by more liberal travellers. I am sure my country has great obligations to the gallant english and scotch military, not only for so readily assisting to defend and quiet us, but for spreading in England a juster notion of Ireland. Within these few months, I suppose more real knowledge of the state and manners of that kingdom has been diffused in England by their means, than had been obtained during a whole century."

Scotchman.—"Indeed, I do not recollect having read any author of note, who has given me a notion of Ireland since Spencer and Davies, except Arthur Young."

Englishman.—"What little knowledge I have of Ireland has been drawn more from observation than from books. I remember when I first went over there, I did not expect to see twenty trees in the whole island; I imagined that I should have nothing to drink but whiskey, that I should have nothing to eat but potatoes, that I should sleep in mud-walled cabins, that I should, when awake, hear nothing but the irish howl, the irish brogue, irish answers and irish bulls; and that if I smiled at any of these things, a hundred pistols would fly from their holsters to give or demand satisfaction. But experience taught me better things: I found that the stories I had heard were tales of other times. Their hospitality, indeed, continues to this day."

Irishman.—"It does, I believe; but of later days, as we have been honoured with the visits of a greater number of foreigners, our hospitality has become less extravagant."

Englishman.—"Not less agreeable, Irish hospitality, I speak from experience, does not now consist merely in pushing about the bottle: the Irish are convivial, but their conviviality is seasoned with wit and humour, they have plenty of good conversation as well as good cheer for their guests; and they not only have wit themselves, but they love it in others; they can take as well as give a joke. I never lived with a more good humoured, generous, open hearted people, than the Irish."

Irishman.—"I wish Englishmen, in general, were half as partial to poor Ireland as you are, sir."

Englishman.—"Or rather you wish that they knew the country as well, and then they would do it as much justice."

Irishman.—"You do it something more than justice, I fear. There are little peculiarities in my countrymen, which will long be justly the subject of ridicule in England."

Scotchman.—"Not among well bred and well informed people; those who have seen or read of great varieties of customs and manners, are never apt to laugh at all that may differ from their own. As the sensible author of the government of the tongue say,—'Half witted people are always the bitterest revilers.'"

Irishman.—"You are very indulgent, gentlemen; but in spite of all your politeness you must allow, or, at least, I must confess, that there are little defects in the irish government of the tongue, at which even whole witted people must laugh."

Scotchman.—"The well educated people, in all countries I believe, escape the particular accent, and avoid the idiom, that are characteristic of the vulgar."

Irishman.—"But even when we escape irish brogue, we cannot escape irish bulls."

Englishman.—"You need not say irish bulls with such emphasis, for bulls are not peculiar to Ireland. I have been informed, by a person of unquestionable authority, that there is a town in Germany, Hirschau in the Upper Palatinate, where the inhabitants are famous for making bulls."

Irishman.—"I am truly glad to hear we have companions in disgrace. Numbers certainly lessen the effect of ridicule as well as of shame: but after all, the irish idiom is peculiarly unfortunate, for it leads perpetually to blunder."

Scotchman.—"I have heard the same remarked of the Hebrew. I am told, that the hebrew and irish idiom are much alike."

Irishman (laughing).—"That is a great comfort to us, certainly, particularly to those amongst us who are fond of tracing our origin up to the remotest antiquity; but still there are many who would willingly give up the honour of this high alliance, to avoid it's inconveniences; for my own part, if I could ensure myself and my countrymen from all future danger of making bulls and blunders, I would this instant give up all hebrew roots; and even the Ogham character itself I would renounce, 'to make assurance doubly sure.'"

Englishman.—"'To make assurance doubly sure.'—Now there is an example in our great Shakspeare of what I have often observed, that we English allow our poets and ourselves a licence of speech that we deny to our hibernian neighbours. If an Irishman, instead of Shakspeare, had talked of making 'assurance doubly sure,' we should have asked how that could be. The vulgar in England are too apt to catch at every slip of the tongue made by Irishmen. I remember once being present, when an irish nobleman, of talents and literature, was actually hissed from the hustings at a Middlesex election, because in his speech he happened to say,—'We have laid the root to the axe of the tree of liberty,' instead of we have laid the axe to the root of the tree."

Scotchman.—"A lapsus linguæ, that might have been made by the greatest orators ancient or modern, by Cicero or Chatham, by Burke or by 'the fluent Murray'."

Englishman.—"Upon another occasion I have heard, that an irish orator silenced with 'inextinguishable laughter,' merely for saying 'I am sorry to hear my honourable friend stand mute'."

Scotchman.—"If I am not mistaken, that very same irish orator made an allusion, at which no one could laugh. 'The protection, said he, which Britain affords to Ireland, in the day of adversity, is like that which the oak affords to the ignorant countryman, who flies to it for shelter in the storm; it draws down upon his head the lightning of Heaven;' may be I do not repeat the words exactly, but I could not forget the idea."

Englishman.—"I would with all my heart bear the ridicule of a hundred blunders for the honour of having made such a simile; after all, his saying 'I am sorry to hear my honourable friend stand mute,' if it be a bull, is justified by Homer; one of the charms in the cestus of Venus is,

"Silence that speaks, and eloquence of eyes."

Scotchman.—"Silence that speaks, sir, is, I am afraid, an english not a grecian charm. It is not in the Greek; it is one of those beautiful liberties, which Mr. Pope has taken with his original. But silence that speaks can be found in France as well as in England. Voltaire in his chef d'œuvre, his œdipus, makes Jocasta say,

'Tout parle contre nous jusqu'à notre silence.'[37]"

Englishman.—"And in our own Milton, Sampson Agonistes makes as good, indeed a better, bull, for he not only makes the mute speak, but speak loud.

'The deeds, themselves, tho' mute, spoke loud the doer.'

And in Paradise Lost we have, to speak in fashionable language, two famous bulls.

Talking of Satan, Milton says,

'God, and his son except,

Created thing, nought valued he nor shunn'd.'

And speaking of Adam and Eve, and their sons and daughters, he confounds them all together, in a manner, for which any Irishman would have been laughed to scorn.

'Adam, the goodliest man of men since born,

His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.'

Yet Addison, who notices these blunders, calls them only little blemishes."

Scotchman.—"He does so; and he quotes Horace, who tells us we should impute such venial errours to a pardonable inadvertency; and, as I recollect, Addison makes another very just remark, that the ancients, who were actuated by a spirit of candour, not of cavilling, invented a variety of figures of speech, on purpose to palliate little errours of this nature."

"Really, gentlemen," interrupted the Hibernian, who had sat all this time in silence that spoke his grateful sense of the politeness of his companions; "you will put the finishing stroke to my obligations to you, if you will prove that the ancient figures of speech were invented to palliate irish blunders."

Englishman.—"No matter for what purpose they were invented, if we can make so good a use of them we shall be satisfied, especially if you are pleased. I will, however, leave the burden of the proof upon my friend here, who has detected me already in quoting from Pope's Iliad instead of Homer's. I am sure he will manage the ancient figures of rhetoric better than I should; however, if I can fight behind his shield I shall not shun the combat."

Scotchman.—"I stand corrected for quoting greek. Now I will not go to Longinus for my tropes and figures; I have just met with a little book on the subject, which I put into my pocket to day, intending to finish it on my journey, but I have been better employed."

He drew from his pocket a book, called 'Deinology, or the Union of Reason and Elegance,'—"Look!" said he, "look at this long list of tropes and figures, amongst them we could find apologies for every species of irish bulls; but, in mercy, I will select, from 'the twenty chief and most moving figures of speech,' only the oxymoron, as it is a favourite with irish orators. In the oxymoron contradictions meet: to reconcile these irish ingenuity delights. I will further spare four out of the seven figures of less note: emphasis, enallage, and the hysteron proteron you must have, because emphasis graces irish diction, enallage unbinds it from strict grammatical fetters, and hysteron proteron allows it sometimes to put the cart before the horse. Of the eleven grammatical figures, Ireland delights chiefly in the antimeria, or changing one part of speech for another, and in the ellipsis or defect. Of the remaining long list of figures, the Irish are particularly disposed to the epizeuxis, as 'indeed, indeed—at all, at all,' and antanaclasis or double meaning. The tautotes, or repetition of the same thing, is, I think, full as common amongst the English. The hyperbole and catachresis are so nearly related to a bull, that I shall dwell upon them with pleasure. You must listen to the definition of a catachresis—'A catachresis is the boldest of any trope. Necessity makes it borrow and employ an expression or term, contrary to the thing it means to express.'"

"Upon my word this is something like a description of an irish bull," interrupted the Hibernian.

Scotchman.—"For instance, it has been said, Equitare in arundine longâ—to ride on horseback on a stick. Reason condemns the contradiction, but necessity has allowed it, and use has made it intelligible. The same trope is employed in the following metaphorical expression—the seeds of the Gospel have been watered with the blood of the martyrs."

Englishman.—"That does seem an absurdity, I grant, but you know great orators trample on impossibilities[38]."

Scotchman.—"And great poets get the better of them. You recollect Shakspeare says,

'Now bid me run,

And I will strive with things impossible,

Yea, get the better of them'."

Englishman.—"And Corneille, in the Cid, I believe, makes his hero a compliment upon his having performed impossibilities—'Vos mains seules ont le droit de vaincre un invincible.'[39]"

Scotchman.—"Ay, that would be a bull in an Irishman, but it is only an hyperbole in a Frenchman."

Irishman.—"Indeed this line of Corneille's out hyperboles the hyperbole, considered in any but a prophetic light; as a prophecy, it exactly foretells the taking of Bonaparte's invincible standard by the glorious forty-second regiment of the British: 'Your hands alone have a right to vanquish the invincible,'—By the by, the phrase ont le droit cannot, I believe, be literally translated into English, but the Scotch and Irish—have a right—translates it exactly. But do not let me interrupt my country's defence gentlemen; I am heartily glad to find, that irish blunderers may shelter themselves in such good company in the ancient sanctuary of the hyperbole. But I am afraid you must deny admittance to the poor mason, who said, 'this house will stand as long as the world and longer'."

Scotchman.—"Why should we 'shut the gates of mercy' upon him, when we pardon his betters for more flagrant sins, for instance, Mr. Pope, who in his Essay on Criticism, makes a blunder, or rather uses an hyperbole, stronger than that of your poor Irish mason.

'When first young Maro in his noble mind

A work t'outlast immortal Rome designed.'

And to give you a more modern case, I lately heard an english shopkeeper say to a lady, in recommendation of his goods, 'Ma'am, it will wear for ever, and make you a petticoat afterwards'."

Irishman.—"Upon my word I did not think you could have found a match for the mason; but what will you say to my countryman, who, on meeting an acquaintance, accosted him with this ambiguous compliment—'When first I saw you I thought it was you, but now I see it is your brother'."

Scotchman.—"If I were not afraid you would take me for a pedant, I should quote a sentence from Cicero, that is not far behind this blunder."

Irishman.—"I can take you for nothing but a friend—pray let us have the latin."

Scotchman.—"It is one of Cicero's compliments to Cæsar,—'Qui, cum ipse imperator in toto imperio populi Romani unus esset, esse me alterum passus est[40].'—Perhaps," continued the Scotchman, "my way of pronouncing latin sounds strangely to you gentlemen?"

Irishman.—"And perhaps ours would be unintelligible to Cicero himself, if he were to overhear us; I fancy we are all so far from right, that we need not dispute about degrees of wrong."

The coach stopped at this instant, and the conversation was interrupted.

[37] Every thing speaks against us, even our silence.

[38] Lord Chatham.

[39] Your hands alone have a right to conquer the unconquerable.

[40] And when Cæsar was the only emperor within the dominion of Rome, he suffered me to be another.


Bath Coach Conversation.


After our travellers had dined, the conversation was renewed by the english gentleman's repeating Goldsmith's celebrated lines on Burke—

"Who too deep for his hearers, still went on refining,

And thought of convincing, whilst they thought of dining,

In short 'twas his fate unemploy'd or in place, sir,

To eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a razor."

"What humour and wit there are in that poem of Goldsmith's! and where is there any thing equal to his 'Traveller'?"

Irishman.—"Yet this is the man who used to be the butt of the company for his bulls."

Englishman.—"No, not for his bulls, but for blurting out opinions in conversation, that could not stand the test of Dr. Johnson's critical powers. But what would become of the freedom of wit and humour, if every word that came out of our mouths were subject to the tax of a professed critic's censure, or if every sentence were to undergo a logical examination? It would be well for Englishmen, if they were a little more inclined, like your open hearted countrymen, to blurt out their opinions freely."

Scotchman.—"I cannot forgive Dr. Johnson for calling Goldsmith an inspired idiot; I confess I see no idiotism, but much inspiration in his works."

Irishman.—"But we must remember, that if Johnson did laugh at Goldsmith, he would let no one else laugh at him, and he was his most sincere and active friend. The world would, perhaps, never have seen the Vicar of Wakefield, if Johnson had not recommended it to a bookseller; and Goldsmith might have died in jail, if the Doctor had not got him a hundred pounds for it, when poor Goldsmith did not know it was worth a shilling. When we recollect this, we must forgive the Doctor for calling him, in jest, an inspired idiot."

Scotchman.—"Especially as Goldsmith has wit enough, to bear him up against a thousand such jests."

Englishman.—"It is curious to observe how nearly wit and absurdity are allied. We may forgive the genius of Ireland if he sometimes

'Leap his light courser o'er the bounds of taste.'

Even english genius is not always to be restrained within the strict limits of common sense. For instance Young is witty when he says

'How would a miser startle, to be told

Of such a wonder as insolvent gold!'

But Johnson is, I am afraid, absurd, when he says—

'Turn from the glittering bribe your scornful eye,

Nor sell for gold what gold can never buy.'

"One case to be sure must be excepted," said the Irishman; "a patriot may sell his reputation, and the purchaser get nothing by it. But, gentlemen, I have just recollected an example of an Irish bull in which are all the happy requisites, incongruity, confusion, and laughable confusion, both in thought and expression. When sir Richard Steele was asked how it happened, that his countrymen made so many bulls, he replied—'It is the effect of climate, sir; if an Englishman were born in Ireland, he would make as many'."

Scotchman.—"This is an excellent bull, I allow, but I think I can match it."

Englishman.—"And if he can, you will allow yourself to be fairly vanquished?"

Irishman.—"Most willingly."

Scotchman.—"Then I shall owe my victory to our friend, Dr. Johnson, the leviathan of english literature. In his celebrated preface to Shakspeare he says, that 'he has not only shown human nature, as it acts in real exigencies, but as it would be found in situations to which it cannot be exposed.' These are his own words, I think I remember them accurately."

The english gentleman smiled, and our Hibernian acknowledged, that the Scotchman had fairly gained the victory,—"My friends," added he, "as I cannot pretend to be 'convinced against my will,' I certainly am not 'of the same opinion still.' But stay, there are such things as practical bulls. Did you never hear of the Irishman, who ordered a painter to draw his picture, and to represent him standing behind a tree?"

Englishman.—"No; but I have heard the very same story told of an Englishman. The dealers in good jokes give them first to one nation and then to another, first to one celebrated character and then to another, as it suits the demand and fashion of the day; just as our printsellers, with a few touches, change the portrait of general Washington into the head of the king of France, and a capital print of sir Joshua Reynolds into a striking likeness of the Monster.

"But I can give you an instance of a practical bull that is not only indisputably English, but was made by one of the greatest men that England ever produced, sir Isaac Newton, who after he had made a large hole in his study door for his cat to creep through, made a small hole beside it, for the kitten. You will acknowledge, sir, that this is a good practical bull."

"Pardon me," said the Hibernian, "we have still some miles farther to go, and if you will give me leave, I will relate 'an hibernian tale,' which exemplifies some of the opinions held in this conversation."

The scotch and english gentlemen begged to hear the story, and he began in the following manner.


The Irish Incognito.


Sir John Bull was a native of Ireland, bred and born in the city of Cork. His real name was Phelim O'Mooney, and he was by profession a stocah or walking gentleman; that is, a person who is too proud to earn his bread, and too poor to have bread without earning it. He had always been told, that none of his ancestors had ever been in trade or business of any kind, and he resolved, when a boy, never to demean himself and family, as his elder brother had done, by becoming a rich merchant. When he grew up to be a young man, he kept this spirited resolution, as long as he had a relation or friend in the world, who would let him hang upon them; but when he was shaken off by all, what could he do but go into business; he chose the most genteel, however—he became a wine merchant. I'm only a wine merchant, said he to himself, and that is next door to being nothing at all. His brother furnished his cellars; and Mr. Phelim O'Mooney, upon the strength of the wine that he had in his cellars, and of the money he expected to make of it, immediately married a wife, set up a gig, and gave excellent dinners to men who were ten times richer than he even ever expected to be. In return for these excellent dinners, his new friends bought all their wine from Mr. O'Mooney, and never paid for it; he lived upon credit himself, and gave all his friends credit, till he became a bankrupt. Then nobody came to dine with him, and every body found out that he had been very imprudent; and he was obliged to sell his gig, but not before it had broken his wife's neck; so that when accounts came to be finally settled, he was not much worse than when he began the world, the loss falling upon his creditors, and he being, as he observed, 'free to begin life again with the advantage of being once more a bachelor.' He was such a good natured, free hearted fellow, that everybody liked him, even his creditors. His wife's relations made up the sum of five hundred pounds for him, and his brother offered to take him into his firm as partner; but O'Mooney preferred, he said, going to try, or rather to make, his fortune in England, as he did not doubt but he should by marriage, being, as he did not scruple to acknowledge, a personable, clever looking man, and a great favourite with the sex.

My last wife I married for love, my next I expect will do the same by me, and of course the money must come on her side this time, said our hero, half jesting, half in earnest. His elder and wiser brother, the merchant, whom he still held in more than sufficient contempt, ventured to hint some slight objections to this scheme of Phelim's seeking fortune in England. He observed that so many had gone upon this plan already, that there was rather a prejudice in England against irish adventurers.

"This could not affect him any ways," Phelim replied; "because he did not mean to appear in England as an Irishman at all."

"How then?"

"As an Englishman, since that is most agreeable."

"How can that be?"

"Who should hinder it?"

His brother, hesitatingly, said—"Yourself."

"Myself!—What part of myself? Is it my tongue? You'll acknowledge brother, that I do not speak with the brogue."

It was true, that Phelim did not speak with any irish brogue; his mother was an english woman, and he had lived much with the english officers in Cork, and he had studied and imitated their manner of speaking so successfully; that no one, merely by his accent, could have guessed that he was an Irishman.

"Hey! brother I say!" continued Phelim, in a triumphant english tone; "I never was taken for an Irishman in my life. Colonel Broadman told me the other day I spoke English better than the English themselves; that he should take me for an Englishman, in any part of the known world, the moment I opened my lips. You must allow, that not the smallest particle of brogue is discernible on my tongue."

His brother allowed, that not the smallest particle of brogue was to be discerned upon Phelim's tongue, but feared that some irish idiom might be perceived in his conversation—And then the name of O'Mooney!

"O, as to that, I need not trouble an act of parliament, or even a king's letter, just to change my name for a season; at the worst I can travel and appear incognito."


"No—only just till I'm upon good terms with the lady——Mrs. Phelim O'Mooney that is to be, God willing—Never fear, nor shake your head, brother—you men of business are out of this line, and not proper judges: I beg your pardon for saying so; but as you are my own brother, and nobody by, you'll excuse me."

His brother did excuse him, but continued silent for some minutes; he was pondering upon the means of persuading Phelim to give up this scheme.

"I would lay you any wager, my dear Phelim," said he, "that you could not continue four days, in England, incognito."

"Done!" cried Phelim. "Done for a hundred pounds; done for a thousand pounds, and welcome."

"But if you lose, how will you pay?"

"Faith! that's the last thing I thought of—being sure of winning."

"Then you will not object to any mode of payment I shall propose."

"None—only remembering always, that I was a bankrupt last week, and shall be little better till I'm married; but then I'll pay you honestly, if I lose."

"No, if you lose I must be paid before that time, my good sir," said his brother laughing. "My bet is this; I will lay you one hundred guineas, that you do not remain four days in England incognito: be upon honour with me, and promise, that if you lose, you will, instead of laying down a hundred guineas, come back immediately and settle quietly again to business."

The word business was always odious to our hero's proud ears; but he thought himself so secure of winning his wager, that he willingly bound himself in a penalty, which he believed would never become due; and his generous brother, at parting, made the bet still more favourable, by allowing that Phelim should not be deemed the loser, unless he was, in the course of the first four days after he touched english ground, detected eight times in being an Irishman.

"Eight times!" cried Phelim. "Good by to a hundred guineas, brother, you may say."

"You may say," echoed his brother, and so they parted.

Mr. Phelim O'Mooney the next morning sailed from Cork harbour with a prosperous gale, and with a confidence in his own success, which supplied the place of auspicious omens. He embarked at Cork to go by long sea to London, and was driven into Deal, where Julius Cæsar once landed before him, and with the same resolution to see and conquer. It was early in the morning. Having been very sea sick he was impatient, as soon as he got into the inn, for his breakfast. He was shown into a room where three ladies were waiting to go by the stage: his air of easy confidence was the best possible introduction.

"Would any of the company choose eggs?" said the waiter.

"I never touch an egg for my share," said O'Mooney, carelessly; he knew that it was supposed to be an irish custom to eat eggs at breakfast; and when the malicious waiter afterward set a plate full of eggs in salt upon the table, our hero magnanimously abstained from them; he even laughed heartily at a story told by one of the ladies of an Hibernian at Buxton, who declared, that 'no english hen ever laid a fresh egg.'

O'Mooney got through breakfast much to his own satisfaction, and to that of the ladies, whom he had taken a proper occasion to call the three graces, and whom he had informed, that he was an old baronet of an english family, and that his name was sir John Bull. The youngest of the graces civilly observed, "that whatever else he might be, she should never have taken him for an old baronet." The lady who made this speech was pretty; but O'Mooney had penetration enough to discover, in the course of the conversation, that she and her companions were far from being divinities: his three graces were a green grocer's wife, a tallow chandler's widow, and a milliner. When he found that these ladies were likely to be his companions, if he were to travel in the coach, he changed his plan, and ordered a postchaise and four.

O'Mooney was not in danger of making any vulgar irish blunders in paying his bill at an inn. No landlord or waiter could have suspected him, especially as he always left them to settle the matter first, and then looked over the bill and money with a careless gentility, saying—"Very right," or "very well, sir," wisely calculating, that it was better to lose a few shillings on the road, than to lose a hundred pounds by the risk of hibernian miscalculation.

Whilst the chaise was getting ready, he went to the custom house to look after his baggage. He found a red hot countryman of his own there, roaring about four and fourpence, and fighting the battle of his trunks, in which, he was ready to make affidavit, there was not nor never had been any thing contraband; and when the customhouse officer replied, by pulling out of one of them a piece of irish poplin, the Hibernian fell immediately upon the Union, which he swore was Disunion, as the customhouse officers managed it. Sir John Bull appeared to much advantage all this time, maintaining a dignified silence; from his quiet appearance and deportment, the customhouse officers took it for granted, that he was an Englishman.—"He was in no hurry—he begged that gentleman's business might be settled first—he would wait the officer's leisure, and as he spoke he played so dextrously with half a guinea between his fingers, as to make it visible only where he wished. The customhouse officer was his humble servant immediately; but the Hibernian would have been his enemy, if he had not conciliated him by observing—"that even Englishmen must allow there was something very like a bull, in professing to make a complete identification of the two kingdoms, whilst, at the same time, certain regulations continued in full force to divide the countries by art, even more than the british channel does by nature."

Sir John talked so plausibly, and, above all, so candidly and coolly on irish and english politics, that the customhouse officer conversed with him, for a quarter of an hour, without guessing of what country he was, till in an unlucky moment Phelim's heart got the better of his head. Joining in the praises bestowed by all parties on the conduct of a distinguished patriot of his own country, he, in the heighth of his enthusiasm, inadvertently called him the speaker.

"The speaker!" said the officer,

"Yes, the speaker—our speaker!" cried Phelim, with exultation. He was not aware how he had betrayed himself, till the officer smiled and said—

"Sir, I really never should have found out that you were an Irishman, but from the manner in which you named your countryman, who is as highly thought of by all parties in this country as in yours; your enthusiasm does honour to your heart."

"And to my head, I'm sure," said our hero, laughing with the best grace imaginable. "Well! I am glad you have found me out in this manner, though I lose the eighth part of a bet of a hundred guineas by it."

He explained the wager, and begged the customhouse officer to keep his secret, which he promised to do faithfully, and assured him, that "he should be happy to do any thing in his power to serve him." Whilst he was uttering these last words, there came in a snug, but soft looking Englishman, who opining from the words "happy to do any thing in my power to serve you," that O'Mooney was a friend of the customhouse officer's and encouraged by something affable and good natured in our hero's countenance, crept up to him, and whispered a request—"Could you tell a body, sir, how to get out of the customhouse a very valuable box of Sèvre china, that has been laying in the customhouse three weeks, and which I was commissioned to get out if I could, and bring up to town for a lady."

As a lady was in the case, O'Mooney's gallantly instantly made his good nature effective. The box of Sèvre china was produced, and opened only as a matter of form, and only as a matter of curiosity it's contents were examined—a beautiful set of Sèvre china and a pendule, said to have belonged to M. Egalité! These things must be intended, said Phelim, for some lady of superiour taste or fortune.

As Phelim was a proficient in the socratic art of putting judicious interrogatories, he was soon happily master of the principal points it concerned him to know: he learnt that the lady was rich—a spinster—of full age—at her own disposal—living with a single female companion at Blackheath—furnishing a house there in a superiour style—had two carriages—her Christian name Mary—her sirname Sharperson.

O'Mooney, by the blessing of God, it shall soon be, thought Phelim. He politely offered the Englishman a place in his chaise for himself and Sèvre china, as it was for a lady, and would run great hazard in the stage, which besides was full. Mr. Queasy, for that was our soft Englishman's name, was astonished by our hero's condescension and affability, especially as he heard him called sir John; he bowed sundry times as low as the fear of losing his wig would permit, and accepted the polite offer with many thanks for himself and the lady concerned.

Sir John Bull's chaise and four was soon ready; and Queasy, seated in the corner of it and the Sèvre china safely stowed between his knees—Captain Murray, a scotch officer, was standing at the inn door, whose eyes were intently fixed on the letters that were worked in nails on the top of sir John's trunk; the letters were P. O'M. Our hero, whose eyes were at least as quick as the Scotchman's, was alarmed lest this should lead to a second detection. He called instantly, with his usual presence of mind, to the hostler, and desired him to uncord that trunk, as it was not to go with him, raising his voice loud enough for all the yard to hear, he added—"It is not mine at all, it belongs to my friend Mr. O'Mooney, let it be sent after me, at leisure, by the waggon, as directed, to the care of sir John Bull."

Our hero was now giving his invention a prodigious quantity of superfluous trouble; and upon this occasion, as upon most others, he was more in danger from excess than deficiency of ingenuity; he was like the man in the fairy tale, who was obliged to tie his legs lest he should outrun the object of which he was in pursuit. The scotch officer, though his eyes were fixed on the letters P. O'M. had none of the suspicions which Phelim was counteracting, he was only considering how he could ask for the third place in sir John's chaise during the next stage, as he was in great haste to get to town upon particular business, and there were no other horses at the inn. When he heard that the heavy baggage was to go by the waggon, he took courage, and made his request. It was instantly granted by the good natured Hibernian, who showed as much hospitality about his chaise, as if it had been his house. Away they drove as fast as they could. Fresh dangers awaited him at the next inn—He left his hat upon the table in the hall whilst he went into the parlour, and when he returned, he heard some person inquiring what irish gentleman was there. Our hero was terribly alarmed, for he saw that his hat was in the inquirer's hand, and he recollected that the name of Phelim O'Mooney was written in it. This, the inquisitive gentleman did not see, for it was written in no very legible characters on the leather within side of the front; but 'F. Guest, Hatter, Dame street, Dublin,' was a printed advertisement that could not be mistaken, and that was pasted within the crown. O'Mooney's presence of mind did not forsake him upon this emergency.

"My good sir," said he, turning to Queasy, who, without hearing one word of what was passing, was coming out of the parlour with his own hat and gloves in his hand; "My good sir," continued he, loading him with parcels, "will you have the goodness to see these put into my carriage—I'll take care of your hat and gloves," added O'Mooney in a low voice. Queasy surrendered his hat and gloves instantly, unknowing wherefore; then squeezed forward with his load through the crowd, crying—"Waiter! hostler! pray somebody put these into sir John Bull's chaise."

Sir John Bull, equipped with Queasy's hat, marched deliberately through the defile, bowing with the air of at least an english county member to this side and to that, as way was made for him to his carriage. No one suspected, that the hat belonged to him; no one, indeed, thought of the hat, for all eyes were fixed upon the man; seated in the carriage, he threw money to the waiter, hostler, and boots, and drew up the glass, bidding the postillion drive on. By this cool self possession our hero effected his retreat with successful generalship, leaving his new Dublin beaver behind him, without regret, as bona waviata. Queasy, before whose eyes things passed continually without his seeing them, thanked sir John for the care he had taken of his hat, drew on his gloves, and calculated aloud how long they should be going to the next stage. At the first town they passed through, O'Mooney bought a new hat, and Queasy deplored the unaccountable mistake by which sir John's hat had been forgotten. No further mistakes happened upon the journey. The travellers rattled on, and neither 'stinted nor stayed,' till they arrived at Blackheath, at Miss Sharperson's. Sir John set Queasy down without having given him the least hint of his designs upon the lady; but as he helped him out with the Sèvre china, he looked through the large opening double doors of the hall and slightly said—"Upon my word this seems to be a handsome house; it would be worth looking at, if the family were not at home."

"I am morally sure, sir John," said the soft Queasy, "that miss Sharperson would be happy to let you see the house to night, and this minute, if she knew you were at the door, and who you were, and all your civility about me and the china.—Do pray walk in."

"Not for the world—a gentleman could not do such a thing without an invitation from the lady of the house herself."

"Oh, if that's all! I'll step up myself to the young lady—I'm certain she'll be proud——"

"Mr. Queasy—by no means—I would not have the lady disturbed, for the world, at this unseasonable hour.—It is too late—quite too late."

"Not at all, begging pardon, sir John," said Queasy, taking out his watch: "only just tea time by me.—Not at all unseasonable for any body; besides, the message is of my own head—all you know, if not well taken——"

Up the great staircase he made bold to go on his mission, as he thought, in defiance of sir John's better judgment. He returned in a few minutes with a face of self complacent exultation, and miss Sharperson's compliments, and begs sir John Bull will walk up and rest himself with a dish of tea, and has her thanks to him for the china.

Now Queasy, who had the highest possible opinion of sir John Bull and of miss Sharperson, whom he thought the two people of the greatest consequence and affability, had formed the notion that they were made for each other, and that it must be a match if they could but meet. The meeting he had now happily contrived and effected; and he had done his part for his friend, sir John, with miss Sharperson, by as many exaggerations as he could utter in five minutes, concerning his purdigious politeness and courage, his fine person and carriage, his ancient family, and vast connections and importance wherever he appeared on the road, at inns and over all England. He had previously, during the journey, done his part for his friend miss Sharperson with sir John, by, stating, that—"she had a large fortune left her by her mother, and was to have twice as much from her grandmother; that she had thousands upon thousands in the funds, and an estate of two thousand a year, called Rascàlly, in Scotland, beside plate and jewels without end."

Thus prepared, how could this lady and gentleman meet without falling desperately in love with each other!

Though a servant in handsome livery appeared ready to show sir John up the great staircase, Mr. Queasy acted as gentleman usher, or rather as showman. He nodded to sir John, as they passed across a long gallery and through an antichamber, threw open the doors of various apartments, as he went along, crying—"Peep in! peep in! peep in here! peep in there!—Is not this spacious? Is not this elegant? Is not that grand? Did I say too much?" continued he, rubbing his hands with delight. "Did you ever see so magnificent, and such highly polished steel grates out of Lon'on?"

Sir John, conscious that the servant's eyes were upon him, smiled at this question, "looked superiour down," and though with reluctant complaisance he leaned his body to this side or to that, as Queasy pulled or swayed, yet he appeared totally regardless of the man's vulgar reflections. He had seen every thing as he passed, and was surprised at all he saw; but he evinced not the slightest symptom of astonishment. He was now ushered into a spacious well lighted apartment; he entered with the easy unembarrassed air of a man, who was perfectly accustomed to such a home. His quick coup d'œil took in the whole at a single glance. Two magnificent candelabras stood on egyptian tables at the farther end of the room, and the lights were reflected on all sides from mirrors of no common size. Nothing seemed worthy to attract our hero's attention but the lady of the house, whom he approached with an air of distinguished respect. She was reclining on a turkish sofa—her companion seated beside her, tuning a harp. Miss Sharperson half rose to receive sir John: he paid his compliments with an easy, yet respectful air. He was thanked for his civilities to the person, who had been commissioned to bring the box of Sèvre-china from Deal.

"Vastly sorry it should have been so troublesome," miss Sharperson said, in a voice fashionably unintelligible, and with a most becoming yet intimidating nonchalance of manner. Intimidating it might have been to any man but our hero; he who had the happy talent of catching, wherever he went, the reigning manner of the place, replied to the lady in equal strains; and she, in her turn, seemed to look upon him more as her equal. Tea and coffee were served. Nothings were talked of quite easily by sir John. He practised the art "not to admire," so as to give a justly high opinion of his taste, consequence, and knowledge of the world. Miss Sharperson, though her nonchalance was much diminished, continued to maintain a certain dignified reserve, whilst her companion, Miss Felicia Flat, condescended to ask sir John, who had doubtless seen every fine house in England and on the continent, his opinion with respect to the furniture and finishing of the room, the placing of the egyptian tables and the candelabras.

No mortal could have guessed by sir John Bull's air when he heard this question, that he had never seen a candelabra before in his life. He was so much, and yet seemingly so little upon his guard, he dealt so dexterously in generals and evaded particulars so delicately, that he went through this dangerous conversation triumphantly. Careful not to protract his visit beyond the bounds of propriety, he soon rose to take leave, and he mingled "intrusion, regret, late hour, happiness, and honour," so charmingly in his parting compliment, as to leave the most favourable impression on the minds of both the ladies, and to procure for himself an invitation to see the house the next morning.

The first day was now ended, and our hero had been detected but once. He went to rest this night well satisfied with himself, but much more occupied with the hopes of marrying the heiress of Rascàlly than of winning a paltry bet.

The next day he waited upon the ladies in high spirits. Neither of them was visible, but Mr. Queasy had orders to show him the house, which he did with much exultation, dwelling particularly in his praises on the beautiful high polish of the steel grates. Queasy boasted, that it was he who had recommended the ironmonger, who furnished the house in that line, and that his bill, as he was proud to state, amounted to many many hundreds. Sir John, who did not attend to one word Queasy said, went to examine the map of the Rascàlly estate, which was unrolled, and he had leisure to count the number of lords and ladies visiting tickets which lay upon the chimney piece. He saw names of people of the first quality and respectability: it was plain, that miss Sharperson must be a lady of high family as well as large fortune, else she would not be visited by persons of such distinction. Our hero's passion for her increased every moment. Her companion, miss Flat, now appeared, and entered very freely into conversation with sir John, and as he perceived that she was commissioned to sit in judgment upon him, he evaded all her leading questions, with the skill of an irish witness; but, without giving any hibernian answers. She was fairly at a fault. Miss Sharperson at length appeared elegantly dressed; her person was genteel and her face rather pretty. Sir John, at this instant, thought her beautiful, or seemed to think so. The ladies interchanged looks, and afterward sir John found a softness in his fair one's manner, a languishing tenderness in her eyes, in the tone of her voice, and at the same time a modest perplexity and reserve about her, which altogether persuaded him, that he was quite right, and his brother quite wrong in fait d'amour. Miss Flat appeared now to have the most self-possession of the three, and miss Sharperson looked at her, from time to time, as if she asked leave to be in love. Sir John's visit lasted a full half hour, before he was sensible of having been five minutes engaged in this delightful conversation.

Miss Sharperson's coach now came to the door; he handed her into it, and she gave him a parting look, which satisfied him all was yet safe in her heart. Miss Flat, as he handed her into the carriage, said, "Perhaps they should meet sir John at Tunbridge, where they were going in a few days." She added some words as she seated herself, which he scarcely noticed at the time, but they recurred afterwards disagreeably to his memory. The words were, "I'm so glad we've a roomy coach, for of all things it annoys me to be squeedged in a carriage."

This word squeedged, as he had not been used to it in Ireland, sounded to him extremely vulgar, and gave him suspicions of the most painful nature. He had the precaution, before he left Blackheath, to go into several shops, and to inquire something more concerning his fair ladies. All he heard was much to their advantage, that is, much to the advantage of miss Sharperson's fortune. All agreed that she was a rich scotch heiress. A rich scotch heiress, sir John wisely considered, might have an humble companion who spoke bad English. He concluded that squeedged was Scotch, blamed himself for his suspicions, and was more in love with his mistress and with himself than ever. As he returned to town, he framed the outline of a triumphant letter to his brother on his approaching marriage. The bet was a matter, at present, totally beneath his consideration. However, we must do him the justice to say, that like a man of honour he resolved, that as soon as he had won the lady's heart he would candidly tell her his circumstances, and then leave her the choice either to marry him or break her heart as she pleased. Just as he had formed this generous resolution, at a sudden turn of the road, he overtook miss Sharperson's coach—he bowed and looked in as he passed, when, to his astonishment, he saw, squeedged up in the corner by miss Felicia, Mr. Queasy. He thought that this was a blunder in etiquette that would never have been made in Ireland. Perhaps his mistress was of the same opinion, for she hastily pulled down the blind as sir John passed. A cold qualm came over the lover's heart. He lost no time in idle doubts and suspicions, but galloped on to town as fast as he could, and went immediately to call upon the scotch officer with whom he had travelled, and whom he knew to be keen and prudent. He recollected the map of the Rascàlly estate, which he saw in miss Sharperson's breakfast room, and he remembered, that the lands were said to lie in that part of Scotland from which captain Murray came: from him he resolved to inquire into the state of the premises, before he should offer himself as tenant for life. Captain Murray assured him, that there was no such place as Rascàlly in that part of Scotland; that he had never heard of any such person as miss Sharperson, though he was acquainted with every family and every estate in the neighbourhood where she fabled hers to be. O'Mooney drew from memory the map of the Rascàlly estate. Captain Murray examined the boundaries, and assured him, that his cousin, the general's lands, joined his own, at the very spot which he described, and that unless two straight lines could enclose a space, the Rascàlly estate could not be found.

Sir John, naturally of a warm temper, proceeded, however, with prudence. The scotch officer admired his sagacity in detecting this adventurer. Sir John waited at his hotel for Queasy, who had promised to call to let him know when the ladies would go to Tunbridge. Queasy came. Nothing could equal his astonishment and dismay when he was told the news.

"No such place as the Rascàlly estate. Then I'm an undone man! an undone man!" cried poor Queasy, bursting into tears, "but I'm certain it's impossible, and you'll find, sir John, you've been misinformed. I would stake my life upon it, miss Sharperson's a rich heiress, and has a rich grandmother. Why, she's five hundred pounds in my debt, and I know of her being thousands and thousands in the books of as good men as myself, to whom I've recommended her, which I wouldn't have done for my life, if I had not known her to be solid. You'll find she'll prove a rich heiress, sir John."

Sir John hoped so, but the proofs were not yet satisfactory. Queasy determined to inquire about her payments to certain creditors at Blackheath, and promised to give a decisive answer in the morning. O'Mooney saw, that this man was too great a fool to be a knave; his perturbation was evidently the perturbation of a dupe, not of an accomplice; Queasy was made to "be an anvil, not a hammer." In the midst of his own disappointment, our good natured hibernian really pitied this poor currier.

The next morning sir John went early to Blackheath. All was confusion at miss Sharperson's house; the steps covered with grates and furniture of all sorts; porters carrying out looking-glasses, egyptian tables, and candelabras; the noise of workmen was heard in every apartment, and louder than all the rest, O'Mooney heard the curses, that were denounced against his rich heiress—curses, such as are bestowed on a swindler in the moment of detection, by the tradesmen whom she has ruined.

Our hero, who was of a most happy temper, congratulated himself upon having, by his own wit and prudence, escaped making the practical bull of marrying a female swindler.

Now that Phelim's immediate hopes of marrying a rich heiress were over, his bet with his brother appeared to him of more consequence, and he rejoiced in the reflection, that this was the third day he had spent in England and that he had but once been detected.—The ides of March were come, but not passed!

"My lads," said he to the workmen, who were busy in carrying out the furniture from miss Sharperson's house, "all hands are at work, I see, in saving what they can from the wreck of the Sharperson. She was as well fitted out a vessel, and in as gallant trim as any ship upon the face of the earth."

"Ship upon the face of the yearth!" repeated an english porter with a sneer, "Ship upon the face of the water, you should say, master, but I take it you be's an Irishman."

O'Mooney had reason to be particularly vexed at being detected by this man, who spoke a miserable jargon, and who seemed not to have a very extensive range of ideas. He was one of those half witted geniusses, who catch at the shadow of an irish bull. In fact, Phelim had merely made a lapsus linguæ, and had used an expression, justifiable by the authority of the elegant and witty lord Chesterfield, who said—no—who wrote, that the english navy is the finest navy upon the face of the earth!—But it was in vain for our hero to argue the point—he was detected—no matter how or by whom. But this was only his second detection, and three of his four days of probation were past.

He dined this day at captain Murray's. In the room in which they dined there was a picture of the captain, painted by Romney. Sir John, who happened to be seated opposite to it, observed, that it was a very fine picture—the more he looked at it the more he liked it. His admiration was at last unluckily expressed—he said, "that's an incomparable, an inimitable picture, it is absolutely more like than the original[41]."

A keen scotch lady in company smiled and repeated—"More like than the original! Sir John, if I had not been told by my relative here, that you were an Englishman, I should have set you doon, from that speech, for an Irishman."

This unexpected detection brought the colour, for a moment, into sir John's face; but immediately recovering his presence of mind, he said—

"That was, I acknowledge, an excellent irish bull; but in the course of my travels I have heard as good english bulls as irish."

To this captain Murray politely acceded, and he produced some laughable instances in support of the assertion, which gave the conversation a new turn.

O'Mooney felt extremely obliged to the captain for this, especially as he saw, by his countenance, that he also had suspicions of the truth. The first moment he found himself alone with Murray, our hero said to him—"Murray, you are too good a fellow to impose upon, even in jest. Your keen countrywoman guessed the truth—I am an Irishman, but not a swindler. You shall hear why I conceal my country and name; only keep my secret till to morrow night, or I shall lose a hundred guineas by my frankness."

O'Mooney then explained to him the nature of his bet.—"This is only my third detection, and half of it voluntary, I might say, if I chose to higgle, which I scorn to do."

Captain Murray was so much pleased by this openness, that as he shook hands with O'Mooney, he said—"Give me leave to tell you, sir, that even if you should lose your bet by this frank behaviour, you will have gained a better thing—a friend."

In the evening our hero went with his friend and a party of gentlemen to Maidenhead, near which place a battle was to be fought next day, between two famous pugilists, Bourke and Belcher. At the appointed time the combatants appeared upon the stage, the whole boxing corps and the gentlemen amateurs crowded to behold the spectacle. Phelim O'Mooney's heart beat for the irish champion Bourke: but he kept a guard upon his tongue, and had even the forbearance not to bet upon his countryman's head. How many rounds were fought, and how many minutes the fight lasted, how many blows were put in on each side, or which was the game man of the two, we forbear to decide or relate, as all this has been settled in the newspapers of the day; where also it was remarked, that Bourke, who lost the battle,—"was put into a postchaise, and left standing half an hour, while another fight took place. This was very scandalous on the part of his friends, says the humane newspaper historian, as the poor man might possibly be dying."

Our hero O'Mooney's heart again got the better of his head. Forgetful of his bet, forgetful of every thing but humanity, he made his way up to the chaise, where Bourke was left—"How are you my gay fellow?" said he. "Can you see at all with the eye that's knocked out?"

The brutal populace, who overheard this question, set up a roar of laughter—"A bull! a bull! an irish bull! Did you hear the question this irish gentleman asked his countryman?"

O'Mooney was detected a fourth time, and this time he was not ashamed. There was one man in the crowd who did not join in the laugh: a poor Irishman, of the name of Terence M'Dermod. He had in former times gone out a grousing, near Cork, with our hero and the moment he heard his voice, he sprang forward, and with uncouth but honest demonstrations of joy, exclaimed,—"Ah, my dear master! my dear young master! Phelim O'Mooney, esq. And I have found your honour alive again? By the blessing of God above, I'll never part you now, till I die; and I'll go to the world's end to sarve yees."

O'Mooney wished him at the world's end this instant, yet could not prevail upon himself to check this affectionate follower of the O'Mooneys. He, however, put half a crown into his hand, and hinted, that if he wished really to serve him, it must be at some other time. The poor fellow threw down the money, saying—"He would never leave him. Bid me do any thing, barring that.—No, you shall never part me. Do what you plase with me, still I'll be close to your heart, like your own shadow: knock me down if you will and wilcome, ten times a day, and I'll be up again like a ninepin: only let me sarve your honour, I'll ask no wages, nor take none."

There was no withstanding all this; and whether our hero's good nature deceived him we shall not determine, but he thought it most prudent, as he could not get rid of Terence, to take him into his service, to let him into his secret, to make him swear that he would never utter the name of Phelim O'Mooney during the remainder of this day. Terence heard the secret of the bet with joy, entered into the jest with all the readiness of an Irishman, and, with equal joy and readiness, swore by the hind leg of the holy lamb, that he would never mention, even to his own dog, the name of Phelim O'Mooney, esq., good or bad, "till past twelve o'clock; and further, that he would, till the clock should strike that hour, call his master sir John Bull, and nothing else, to all men, women, and children, upon the floor of God's creation."

Satisfied with the fullness of this oath, O'Mooney resolved to return to town with his man Terence M'Dermod. He however contrived, before he got there, to make a practical bull, by which he was detected a fifth time. He got into the coach, which was driving from London, instead of that which was driving to London, and he would have been carried rapidly to Oxford, had not his man Terence, after they had proceeded a mile and a half on the wrong road, put his head down from the top of the coach, crying, as he looked in at the window—"Master, sir John Bull, are you there? Do you know we're in the wrong box, going to Oxford?"

"Your master's an Irishman, I dare to say, as well as yourself," said the coachman, as he let sir John out. He walked back to Maidenhead, and took a chaise to town.

It was six o'clock when he got to London, and he went into a coffee-house to dine. He sat down beside a gentleman who was reading the newspaper.—"Any news to day, sir?"

The gentleman told him the news of the day, and then began to read aloud some paragraphs in a strong hibernian accent. Our hero was sorry that he had met with another countryman; but he resolved to set a guard upon his lips, and he knew that, his own accent could not betray him. The stranger read on till he came to a trial about a legacy, which an old woman had left to her cats.—O'Mooney exclaimed—"I hate cats almost as much as old women; and if I had been the english minister, I would have laid the dog tax upon cats."

"If you had been the irish minister, you mean," said the stranger smiling; "for I perceive now you are a countryman of my own."

"How can you think so, sir," said O'Mooney; "you have no reason to suppose so from my accent, I believe."

"None in life, quite the contrary; for you speak remarkable pure english—not the least note or half note of the brogue; but there's another sort of freemason sign by which we Hibernians know one another, and are known all over the globe. Whether to call it a confusion of expression or of ideas, I can't tell. Now an Englishman, if he had been saying what you did, sir, just now, would have taken time to separate the dog and the tax, and he would have put the tax upon cats, and let the dogs go about their business." Our hero, with his usual good humour, acknowledged himself to be fairly detected.

"Well, sir," said the stranger, "if I had not found you out before by the blunder, I should be sure now you were my countryman by your good humour. An Irishman can take what's said to him, provided no affront's meant, with more good humour than any man on earth."

"Ay, that he can," cried O'Mooney; "he lends himself, like the whale, to be tickled even by the fellow with the harpoon, till he finds what he is about, and then he pays away, and pitches the fellow, boat and all, to the devil. Ah, countryman! you would give me credit indeed for my good humour, if you knew what danger you have put me in by detecting me for an Irishman. I have been found out six times, and if I blunder twice more before twelve o'clock this night, I shall lose a hundred guineas by it: but I will make sure of my bet; for I will go home straight this minute, lock myself up in my room, and not say a word to any mortal till the watchman cries 'past twelve o'clock,' then the fast and long lent of my tongue will be fairly over; and if you'll meet me, my dear friend, at the King's Arms, we will have a good supper and keep Easter for ever."

Phelim, pursuant to his resolution, returned to his hotel, and shut himself up in his room, where he remained in perfect silence and consequent safety till about nine o'clock. Suddenly he heard a great huzzaing in the street; he looked out of the window and saw, that all the houses in the street were illuminated. His landlady came bustling into his apartment, followed by waiters with candles. His spirits instantly rose, though he did not clearly know the cause of the rejoicings.—"I give you joy, ma'am. What are you all illuminating for?" said he to his landlady.

"Thank you, sir, with all my heart.—I am not sure. It is either for a great victory or the peace.—Bob—waiter—step out and inquire for the gentleman."

The gentleman preferred stepping out to inquire for himself. The illuminations were in honour of the peace. He totally forgot his bet, his silence, and his prudence, in his sympathy with the general joy. He walked rapidly from street to street, admiring the various elegant devices. A crowd was standing before the windows of a house, that was illuminated with extraordinary splendour. He inquired whose it was, and was informed, that it belonged to a contractor, who had made an immense fortune by the war.

"Then I'm sure these illuminations of his for the peace are none of the most sincere," said O'Mooney. The mob were of his opinion; and Phelim, who was now, alas! worked up to the proper pitch for blundering, added, by way of pleasing his audience still more—"If this contractor had illuminated in character, it should have been with dark lanterns."

"Should it? by Jasus! that would be an irish illumination," cried some one. "Arrah, honey! you're an Irishman, whoever you are, and have spoke your mind in character."

Sir John Bull was vexed that the piece of wit which he had aimed at the contractor had recoiled upon himself.—"It is always, as my countryman observed, by having too much wit that I blunder. The deuce take me, if I sport a single bon mot more this night.—This is only my seventh detection, I have an eighth blunder still to the good; and if I can but keep my wit to myself, till I am out of Purgatory, then I will be in Heaven, and may sing Io triumphe in spite of my brother."

Fortunately Phelim had not made it any part of his bet, that he should not speak to himself in irish idiom, or that he should not think a bull. Resolved to be as obstinately silent as a monk of la Trappe, he once more shut himself up in his cell and fell fast asleep—dreamed that fat bulls of Basan encompassed him round about—that he ran down a steep hill, to escape them—that his foot slipped—he rolled to the bottom—felt the bull's horns in his side—heard the bull bellowing in his ears—wakened—and found Terence M'Dermod bellowing, at his room door.

"Sir John Bull! sir John Bull! murder! murder! my dear master, sir John Bull! murder, robbery, and reward! let me in! for the love of the holy virgin! they are all after you!"

"Who? are you drunk, Terence?" said sir John, opening the door.

"No, but they are mad—all mad."


"The constable. They are all mad entirely, and the lord mayor, all along with your honour's making me swear I would not tell your name. Sure they are all coming armed in a body, to put you in jail for a forgery, unless I run back and tell them the truth—will I?"

"First tell me the truth, blunderer!"

"I'll make my affidavit I never blundered, plase your honour, but just went to the merchant's, as you ordered, with the draught, signed with the name I swore not to utter till past twelve. I presents the draught and waits to be paid. 'Are you Mr. O'Mooneys servant?' says one of the clerks after awhile.—'No, sir, not at all, sir,' said I, 'I'm sir John Bull's, at your sarvice.'—He puzzles and puzzles and asks me did I bring the draught, and was that your writing at the bottom of it, I still said it was my master's writing, sir John Bull's, and no other. They whispered from one up to t'other, and then, said it was a forgery, as I overheard, and must go before the mayor. With that, while the master, who was called down to be examined as to his opinion, was putting on his glasses to spell it out, I gives them, one and all, the slip, and whips out of the street door and home to give your honour notice, and have been breaking my heart at the door this half hour to make you hear, and now you have it all."

"I am in a worse dilemma now than when between the horns of the bull," thought sir John—"I must now either tell my real name, avow myself an Irishman, and so lose my bet, or else go to jail."

He preferred going to jail. He resolved to pretend to be dumb, and he charged Terence not to betray him. The officers of justice came to take him up—sir John resigned himself to them, making signs that he could not speak. He was carried before a magistrate. The merchant had never seen Mr. Phelim O'Mooney, but could swear to his hand writing and signature, having many of his letters and draughts. The draught in question was produced. Sir John Bull would neither acknowledge nor deny the signature, but in dumb show made signs of innocence. No art or persuasion could make him speak—he kept his finger on his lips. One of the bailiffs offered to open sir John's mouth. Sir John clenched his hand in token, that if they used violence he knew his remedy. To the magistrate he was all bows and respect—but the law, in spite of civility, must take it's course.

Terence M'Dermod beat his breast, and called upon all the saints in the irish calendar, when he saw the committal actually made out, and his dear master given over to the constables. Nothing but his own oath and his master's commanding eye, which was fixed upon him at this instant, could have made him forbear to utter, what he had never in his life been before so strongly tempted to tell—the truth.

Determined to win his wager, our hero suffered himself to be carried to a lock-up-house and persisted in keeping silence till the clock struck twelve! Then the charm was broken, and he spoke. He began talking to himself, and singing as loud as he possibly could. The next morning Terence, who was no longer bound by his oath to conceal Phelim's name, hastened to his master's correspondent in town, told the whole story, and O'Mooney was liberated. Having won his bet by his wit and steadiness, he had now the prudence to give up these adventuring schemes, to which he had so nearly become a dupe; he returned immediately to Ireland to his brother, and determined to settle quietly to business. His good brother paid him the hundred guineas most joyfully, declaring that he had never spent a hundred guineas better in his life, than in recovering a brother. Phelim had now conquered his foolish dislike to trade; his brother took him into partnership, and Phelim O'Mooney never relapsed into sir John Bull.

[41] This bull was really made.



Unable any longer to support the tone of irony, we joyfully speak in our own characters, and explicitly declare our opinion, that the Irish are an ingenious generous people; that the bulls and blunders, of which they are accused, are often imputable to their neighbours, or that they are justifiable by ancient precedents, or that they are produced by their habits of using figurative and witty language. By what their good humour is produced we know not; but that it exists, we are certain. In Ireland, the countenance and heart expand at the approach of wit and humour; the poorest labourer forgets his poverty and toil in the pleasure of enjoying a joke. Amongst all classes of the people, provided no malice is obviously meant, none is apprehended. That such is the character of the majority of the nation, there cannot to us be a more convincing and satisfactory proof, than the manner in which a late publication[42] was received in Ireland. The Irish were the first to laugh at the caricatura of their ancient foibles, and it was generally taken merely as good humoured raillery, not as insulting satire. If gratitude for this generosity has now betrayed us unawares into the language of panegyric, we may hope for pardon from the liberal of both nations. Those who are thoroughly acquainted with Ireland will most readily acknowledge the justice of our praises; those who are ignorant of the country will not, perhaps, be displeased, to have their knowledge of the people of Ireland extended. Many foreign pictures of Irishmen are as grotesque and absurd as the Chinese pictures of lions; having never seen that animal, the Chinese can paint him only from the descriptions of voyagers, which are sometimes ignorantly, sometimes wantonly, sometimes maliciously exaggerated.

In M. de Voltaire's Age of Lewis the Fourteenth, we find the following passage:—"Some nations seem made to be subject to others. The English have always had over the Irish the superiority of genius, wealth, and arms. The superiority which the whites have over the negroes[43]."

A note in a subsequent edition informs us, that the injurious expression—"The superiority which the whites have over the negroes," was erased by M. de Voltaire, and his editor subjoins his own opinion.—"The nearly savage state in which Ireland was when she was conquered, her superstition, the oppression exercised by the English, the religious fanaticism which divides the Irish into two hostile nations, such are the causes which have held down this people in depression and weakness. Religious hatreds are appeased, and this country has recovered her liberty. The Irish no longer yield to the English, either in industry or in information[44]."

The last sentence of this note might, if it had reached the eyes or ears of the incensed irish historian, Mr. O'Halloran, have assuaged his wrath against Voltaire for the unguarded expression in the text; unless the amor patriæ of the historian, like the amour propre of some individuals, instead of being gratified by congratulations on their improvement, should be intent upon demonstrating, that there never was any thing to improve. As we were neither born nor bred in Ireland, we cannot be supposed to possess this amor patriæ in it's full force; we profess to be attached to the country only for it's merits; we acknowledge, that it is a matter of indifference to us whether the Irish derive their origin from the Spaniards, or the Milesians, or the Welsh: we are not so violently anxious as we ought to be to determine, whether or not the language spoken by the phœnician slave, in Terence's play, was irish; nay, we should not break our hearts, if it could never be satisfactorily proved, that Albion is only another name for Ireland[45]. We moreover candidly confess, that we are more interested in the fate of the present race of it's inhabitants, than in the historian of St. Patrick, St. Facharis, St. Cormuc; the renowned Brien Boru; Tireldach, king of Connaught; M'Murrough, king of Leinster; Diarmod; Righ-Damnha; Labra-Loingseach; Tighermas; Ollamh-Foldha; the M'Giolla-Phadraigs; or even the great William of Ogham; and by this declaration we have no fear of giving offence to any but rusty antiquaries. We think it somewhat more to the honour of Ireland to enumerate the names of some of the men of genius whom she has produced; Milton and Shakspeare stand unrivalled; but Ireland can boast of Usher, Boyle, Denham, Congreve, Molyneux, Farquhar, Sir Richard Steele, Bickerstaff, Sir Hans Sloane, Berkeley, Orrery, Parnel, Swift, T. Sheridan, Welsham, Bryan Robinson, Goldsmith, Sterne, Johnson[46], Tickel, Brooke, Zeland, Hussey Burgh, three Hamiltons, Young, Charlemont, Macklin, Murphy, Griffiths[47], Mrs. Sheridan, Francis Sheridan, Kirwan, Brinsley Sheridan, and Burke.

We enter into no invidious comparisons; it is our sincere wish to conciliate both countries; and if in this slight essay we should succeed in diffusing a more just and enlarged idea of the Irish than has been generally entertained, we hope the English will deem it not an unacceptable service. Whatever might have been the policy of the english nation towards Ireland, whilst she was a separate kingdom, since the union it can no longer be her wish to depreciate the talents, or ridicule the language of Hibernians. One of the Czars of Russia used to take the cap and bells from his fool, and place it on the head of any of his subjects whom he wished to disgrace. The idea of extending such a punishment to a whole nation was ingenious, and magnanimous; but England cannot now put it into execution towards Ireland. Would it not be a practical bull to place the bells upon her own imperial head?

[42] Castle Rackrent.

[43] Il y a des nations dont l'une semble faite pour être soumise à l'autre. Les Anglois ont toujours eu sur les Irlandois la supériorité du génie, des richesses, et des armes. La supériorité que les blancs ont sur les noirs."

[44] "On lisait dans les premières editions, la supériorité que les blancs ont sur les négres. M. de Voltaire effaça cette expression injurieuse. L'état presque sauvage ou étoit l'Irlande lorsqu'elle fut conquise, la superstition, l'oppression exerçée par les Anglois, le fanatisme religieux qui divise les irlandois en deux nations ennemies, telles sont les causes qui ont retenues ce peuple dans l'abaissement et dans la foiblesse. Les haines religieuses se sont assoupies, et elle a repris sa liberté. Les Irlandois ne le cédent plus aux Anglois ni en industrie ni en lumières."

[45] See O'Halloran's History of Ireland.

[46] Author of Chrysal or adventures of a guinea.

[47] Author of the beautiful moral tale Nourjahad.



The following collection of foreign bulls was given us by a man of letters, who is now father of the French Academy.




Toutes les nations ont des contes plaisans de bêtises échappées non seulement à des personnes vraiment bêtes, mais aux distractions de gens qui ne sont pas sans esprit. Les Italiens ont leur sproposite, leur arlequin ses balourdises, les Anglois leurs blunders, les Irlandois leurs bulls.

Mademoiselle Maria Edgeworth ayant fait un recueil de ces derniers, je prends la liberté de lui offrir un petit recueil de nos bêtises qui méritent le nom qu'elles portent aussi bien que les Irish bulls. J'ai fait autrefois une dissertation où je recherchois quelle étoit la cause du rire qu'excitent les bêtises, et dans laquelle j'appuyois mon explication de beaucoup d'exemples et peut-être même du mien sans m'en appercevoir; mais la femme d'esprit à qui j'ai adressé cette folie l'a perdue, et je n'ai pas pu la recouvrer.

Je me souviens seulement que j'y prouvois savamment que le rire excité par les bêtises est l'effet du contraste que nous saisissons entre l'effort que fait l'homme qui dit la bêtise, et le mauvais succès de son effort. J'assimilois la marche de l'esprit dans celui qui dit une bêtise, à ce qui arrive à un homme qui cherchant à marcher legèrement sur un pavé glissant, tombe lourdement, ou aux tours mal-adroit du paillasse de la foire. Si l'on veut examiner les bêtises rassemblées ici, on y trouvera toujours un effort manqué de ce genre.

Un homme, dont la femme avoit été saignée, interrogé le lendemain pourquoi elle ne paroissoit pas à table, répondit:—Elle garde la chambre: Morand l'a saignée hier, et une saignée affoiblit beaucoup quand elle est faite par un habile homme.

M. de Baville, intendant de Languedoc, avoit un secrétaire fort bête: il se servoit un jour de lui pour écrire au ministre sur des affaires très importantes et dicta ces mots: "Ne soyez point surpris de ce que je me sers d'une main étrangère pour vous écrire sur cet objet. Mon secrétaire est si bête qu'à ce moment même il ne s'apperçoit pas que je vous parle de lui."

On demandoit à un abbé de Laval Montmorency quel âge avoit son frère le maréchal dont il etoit l'ainé. "Dans deux ans," dit il "nous serons du même âge."

On se préparoit à observer une éclipse et le roi devoit assister à l'observation. M. de Jonville disoit à M. Cassini—"N'attendra t'on pas le roi pour commencer l'éclipse?"

Une femme du peuple qui avoit une petite fille malade avec le transport au cerveau, disoit au médecin, "Ah Monsieur, si vous l'aviez entendu cette nuit elle a déraisonnée comme une grande personne."

Un homme avoit parié 25 louis qu'il traverseroit le grand bassin des Thuileries par un froid très rigoureux; il alla jusqu'au milieu, renonça à son entreprise, et revient par le même chemin en disant, "J'aime mieux perdre vingt cinq louis que d'avoir une fluxion de poitrine."

Un homme voyoit venir de loin un médecin de sa connoissance qui l'avoit traité plusieurs années auparavant dans une maladie; il se détourna, et cacha son visage pour n'être pas reconnu. On lui demandoit "pourquoi." "C'est," dit il, "que je suis honteux devant lui de ce qu'il y a fort long tems que je n'ai été malade."

On demande à un homme qui vouloit vendre un cheval—"Votre cheval est il peureux?"—"Oh, point du tout," répond il, "il vient de passer plusieurs nuits tout seul dans son écurie."

Dans une querelle entre un père et son fils, le père reprochoit à celui-ci son ingratitude—"Je ne vous ai point d'obligations," disoit le fils, "vous m'avez fait beaucoup de tort; si vous n'étiez point né je serois à présent l'héritier de mon grand père."

Un avare faisant son testament, se fit lui même son héritier.

Un homme voyoit un bateau si chargé que les bords en étoient à fleur d'eau: "ma foi," dit il, "si la rivière etoit un peu plus haute le bateau iroit à fond."

M. Hume dans son histoire d'Angleterre parlant de la conspiration attribuée aux Catholiques en 1678 sous Charles II. rapporte le mot d'un chevalier Player qui felicitoit la ville des precautions qu'elle avoit prises—"et sans lesquelles"—disoit il—"tous les citoyens auroient couru risque de se trouver égorgés le lendemain à leur réveil."

Le maire d'une petite ville entendant une querelle dans la rue au milieu de la nuit, se leve du lit, et ouvrant la fenêtre crie aux passans "Messieurs, me leverai je?"

Un sot faisoit compliment à une demoiselle dont la mère venoit de se marier en secondes noces avec un ancien ami de la maison—"Mademoiselle,"—lui dit il—"je suis ravi de ce que monsieur votre père vient d'épouser madame votre mère."

Racine, qui avoit été toute sa vie courtisan très attentif, étoit enterré à Port Royal des champs dont les solitaires s'étoient attirés l'indignation de Louis XIV. M. de Boissy, célébre par ses distractions, disoit—"Racine n'auroit pas fait cela de son vivant."

On racontait dans une conversation que Monsieur de Buffon avoit disséqué une de ses cousines, et une femme se récrioit sur l'inhumanité de l'anatomiste. M. de Mairan lui dit—"Mais Madame elle étoit morte."

On parloit avec admiration de la belle vieillesse d'un homme de quatre vingt dix ans; quelqu'un dit—"Cela vous étonne messieurs, si mon père n'étoit pas mort, il auroit à présent cent ans accomplis."

Mouet, de l'opera comique, conte qu'arrivant de Lyon, et ne voulant pas qu'on sut qu'il étoit à Paris, il recommanda à son laquais, supposé qu'il fut rencontré de dire qu'il étoit à Lyon. Le laquais trouve un amí de son maître qui lui en demande des nouvelles—"Il est à Lyon"—dit il—et il ne sera de retour que la semaine prochaine."—"Mais," continue le questionneur—"que portez vous la?"—"Ce sont quelques provisions qu'il m'a envoyé chercher pour son dîner."

Un homme examinoit un dessin représentant la coupe d'un vaisseau construit en Hollande; quelqu'un lui dit—"Est-ce que Monsieur entend le hollandois."

Un homme de loi disoit qu'on ne pouvoit pas faire une stipulation valable avec un muet. Un des écoutans lui dit—"Monsieur le docteur et avec un boiteux, seroit-elle bonne?"

Un homme se plaignoit que la maison de son voisin lui ôtoit la vue d'une de ses fenêtres; un autre lui dit—"Vous avez un remède, faites murer cette fenêtre."

Un homme ayant écrit à sa maitresse, avoit glissé le billet sous la porte, et puis s'avisant que la fille pourroit ne pas s'en appercevoir il en écrivit un autre en ces termes—"J'ai mis un billet sous votre porte; prenez y garde quand vous sortirez."

Un homme étant sur le point de marier sa fille unique, se brouille avec le prétendant, et dans sa colère il dit—"Non Monsieur, vous ne serez jamais mon gendre, et quand j'aurois cent filles uniques, je ne vous en donnerois pas une."

On avoit reçu à la grande poste une lettre avec cette adresse,—à Monsieur mon fils, Rue, &c. On alloit la mettre au rebut; un commis s'y oppose, et dit qu'on trouvera à qui la lettre s'adresse. Dix ou douze jours se passent. On voit arriver un grand benet qui dit—"Messieurs je viens savoir si on n'auroit pas gardé ici une lettre de mon cher père?"—"Oui Monsieur," lui dit le commis, "la voila."—On prête ce trait à Bouret, fermier général.

Milord Albemarle étant aux eaux d'Aix-la-Chapelle, et ne voulant pas être connu, ordonna à un nègre qui le servoit, si on lui demandoit qui étoit son maître de dire qu'il étoit françois. On ne manqua pas de faire la question au noir qui répondit—"Mon maître est françois, et moi aussi."

Un marchand, en finissant d'écrire une lettre à un de ses correspondans, mourut subitement. Son commis ajouta en P. S. "Depuis ma lettre écrite je suis mort ce matin. Mardi au soir 7ème, &c."

Un petit marchand prétendoit avoir acheté trois sols ce qu'il vendoit pour deux. On lui représente que ce commerce le ruinera—"Ah," dit il, "je me sauve sur la quantité."

Le Chevalier de Lorenzi, étant à Florence, étoit allé se promener avec trois de ses amis à quelques lieues de la ville, à pied. Ils revenoient fort las; la nuit approchoit; il veut se reposer: on lui dit qu'il restoit quatres milles à faire, oh, dit il, "nous sommes quatres; ce n'est qu'un mille chacun."

On prétend qu'un fermier général voulant s'éviter l'ennui ou s'épargner les frais des lettres dont on l'accabloit au nouvel an, écrivoit au mois de Décembre à tous les employés de son département qu'il les dispensoit du cérémonial, et que ceux-ci lui réponderoient pour l'assurer qu'ils se conformeroient à ses ordres.

Maupertuis faisoit instruire un perroquet par son laquais, et vouloit qu'on lui apprit des mots extraordinaires. Depuis deux ans le laquais enseignoit à l'animal à dire monomotapa et le perroquet n'en disoit que des syllabes séparées. Maupertuis faisoit des reproches au laquais—"Oh Monsieur"—dit celui ci—"Cela ne va pas si vîte; je lui ai d'abord appris mo et puis no"—"Vous êtes un bête," dit Maupertuis—"Il faut lui dire le mot entier"—"Monsieur," reprend le laquais, "il faut lui donner le temps de comprendre."

Il y a en Italien une lettre pleine de sproposite assez plaisans. Un homme écrit à son ami, "Abbiamo avuto un famosissimo tremmoto che se per la misericordia de Dio avesse durato una mezza hora di piu, saremmo tutti andati al paradiso che Dio ce ne liberi. Vi mando quatordici pero e sono tutti boni christiani. A questa fiera i porei sono saliti al cielo. O ricevete, o non ricevete questa datemene aviso."

Procumbit humi bos.


H. Bryer, Printer, Bridge Street, Blackfriars.


Transcriber's Note:

Obvious typos and mis-spellings have been corrected silently.

Unusual spellings that seem deliberate attempts to portray ignorance, lack of education, or are for the purpose of humour, have been retained.

Some minor corrections in punctuation have also been corrected without comment.

[The end of _Essay on Irish Bulls_ by Richard and Maria Edgeworth]