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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 scimetar.
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 also 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 distinguished peculiarity of the Irish bull—its horns are tipped with brass.* It is generally supposed that persons who have been dipped in the Shannon t are ever afterwards endowed 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. 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-stalks. This virtue of civil courage is of inestimable value in the opinion of the best judges. The great lord Verulam-no one, by-thebye, could be a better judge of its 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
* See the advice of Cleomenes to Crius. HERODOTUS ERATO.
+ It is said that the waters of the Garonne are famed for a similar virtue.
other goods of life this same boldness has its 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 when 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 wellknown 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 withinside.
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 have a great mind to shake hands with you. Will you only just tell me who
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
you are ?"
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 as he understood it, and he promised never more to be guilty of such a practical bull.
THE DUBLIN SHOE BLACK.
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 à 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