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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 well-known sound of bullets whis. tling 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 readycharged 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 coun. tryman, “Do me the justice, sir, to go into that summerhouse, 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 niind 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 withinside ?"
“ 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 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 à priori argument, to prove irrefragably that the Irish are blunderers.
After the instances we have produced, chapter sixth, of the verbum ardens of English and foreign poets, and after the resemblance that we have pointed out between 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 l; and done and done's enough between two jantlemen. With that I ranged them fair and even with my hook-em-sniveyup they go. 'Music!' says he ;– Sculls !' says I; and down they come, three brown mazards. By the holy ! you flesh'd 'em,' says he.—You lie,' says I. With that he ups with a lump of a two year old, and lets drive at me. I outs 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 exordiurn, the scene and the meeting with Billy are brought before the eye by the judicious use of the present tense.
Billy, says !, 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 metonomy 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 its 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 amid the clouds." Up they go, continues our orator. Music! says he ; Sculls ! 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 scull.
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 word scull or head.
By the holy! you flesh'd’em, says he.
By the holy! is an oath in which more is meant than meets the ear; it is an ellipsis-an abridgment 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 piece 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 moret he result of the head than of the heart. But to proceed.
By the holy! you flesh'd '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.
With that he ups with a lump of a two year old, and lets drive at me.
He 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 apprized 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 its use.
“We read in a certain author," says Beattie, "of a giant, who, in his wrath, tore off the top of the promon. tory, 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 in