Слике страница
PDF
ePub

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 errors 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 nativé of Ireland !

CHAPTER IV.

.

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 nowhere 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 chimneypiece a well-smoked genealogy, duly attested, tracing his ancestry in a direct line

ир

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 schoolmaster 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 this 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 caste 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—0, 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

“ Have you any

the first question 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 LI am an orphan*—I have only a mother.”

brothers and sisters ? ” “No; I wish I had; 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 holydays? 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

* Iliad, 6th book, 1. 432, Andromache says to Hector, “ You will make your son an orphan, and your wife a widow.”

in your

home to Ireland till I send her word you are perfect

Enclish crammer at least." “I have my lesson perfect, sir,” said Dominick, taking his grammar up from the floor,

ci 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 read 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

« ПретходнаНастави »