Слике страница

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


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, pigeonhouses, dove-cotes, out-houses, and appurtenances, which he never saw or heard of, and which are nowhere 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 schoolmaster : but we shall not descant upon its grammatical errors, because they are not blunders peculiar to Irish schoolmasters. We have frequently observed that the advertisements of schoolmasters, 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 Washerwoman !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

[ocr errors]

terms stuck up on the walls of an English coffeehouse : “ This coffee-house removed up-stairs !” A Roman emperor used to draw his stairs


after him every night into his bedchamber, 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 connexion 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 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 re

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 ?

ward ;

Perhaps it alludes to the famous duel fought by a gouty Irish gentleman in his arm chair. 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 publication 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

« ПретходнаНастави »