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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 lan
guage, 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,
or 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 bas nearly the same idea:
“ As long as streams in silver mazes run,
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 number 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 Kames observes, that it is false taste to condemn such com
parisons 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 liberty.
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 affect 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 !
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
* Vide Robertson's History of Scotland.
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
freehold; and who do you think has robbed me? why, that man!” pointing to his landlord's steward, who stood beside the candidate, “ 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 stand