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when she pleases, and she pleases it often; she is one that never denies herself the bit of staggering bob* when in season; she is one that has a snug house well thatched to live in all the year round, and nothing to do or nothing that she does, and this is the way of her life, and this is what she is. And what am I? I am the father of eight children, and I have a wife and niyself to provide for. I am a man that is at hard labour of one kind or another from sunrise to sunset. The straw that thatched the house she lives in I brought two miles on my back; the walls of the house she lives in I built with my own hands; I did the same by five other houses, and they are all sound and dry, and good to live in, summer or winter. I set them for rent to put bread into my children's mouths, and after all I cannot get it! And to support my eight children, and my wife, and myself, what have I in this world,” cried he, striding suddenly with colossal firmness upon his sturdy legs, and raising to heaven arms which looked like foreshortenings of the limbs of Hercules, “ what have I in this wide world but these four bones ?''f
No provocation could have worked up a phlegmatic English countryman to this pitch of eloquence. He never suffers his anger to evaporate in idle figures of speech: it is always concentrated in a few words, which he repeats in reply to every argument, persuasive or invective, that can be employed to irritate or to assuage his wrath. We recollect having once been present at a scene between an English gentleman and a churchwarden, whose feelings were grievously hurt by the disturbance that had been given to certain bones in lev. elling a wall which separated the churchyard from the pleasure-ground of the lord of the nianor. The bones belonged, as the churchwarden believed, or averred, to his great-great-grandmother, though how they were identified it might be difficult to explain to an indifferent judge ; yet we are to suppose that the confirmation of the suspicion was strong and satisfactory to the party concerned. The pious great-great-grandson's feelings were all in arms, but indignation did not inspire him with a single poetic idea or expression. In his eloquence, indeed, there was the principal requisite-action : in reply to all that could be said, he repeatedly struck his long oak stick perpendicularly upon the floor, and reiterated these words:
* Slink call.
This was written down a few minutes after it had been spoken
“ It's death, sir! death by the law! It's sacrilege, sir! sacrilege by act of parliament! It's death, sir ! death by the law! and the law I'll have of him, for it's lawful to have the law."
This was the whole range of his ideas, even when the passions had tumbled them all out of their dormitories.
Innumerable fresh instances of Irish eloquence and wit crowd upon our recollection, but we forbear. The examples we have cited are taken from real life, and given without alteration or embellishment.
HAVING proved by a perfect syllogism that the Irish must blunder, we might rest satisfied with our labours; but there are minds of so perverse a sort, that they will not yield their understandings to the torturing power of syllogism.
It may be waste of time to address ourselves to persons of such a cast; we shall therefore change our ground, and adapt our arguments to the level of vulgar capacities. Much of the comic effect of Irish bulls, or of such speeches as are mistaken for bulls, has depended upon the tone, or brogue, as it is called, with which they are uttered. The first Irish blunders that we hear are made or repeated in this peculiar tone, and afterward, from the power of association, whenever we hear the tone we expect the blunder. Now there is little danger that the Irish should be cured of their brogue; and consequently there is no great reason to apprehend that we should cease to think or call them blunderers.
of the powerful effect of any peculiarity of pronunciation to prepossess the mind against the speaker, nay, even to excite dislike amounting to antipathy, we have an instance attested by an eyewitness, or rather an earwitness.
“ In the year 1755,” says the Rev. James Adams, “I attended a public disputation in a foreign university, when at least 400 Frenchmen literally hissed a grave and learned English doctor, not by way of insult, but irresistibly provoked by the quaintness of the repetition of sh. The thesis was, the concurrence of God in aciionibus viciosis : the whole hall resvunded with the hissing cry of sh, and its continual occurrence in actio, aclione, vicioso, &c.”
It is curious that Shiboleth should so long continue a criterion among nations !
What must have been the degree of irritation that could so far get the better of the politeness of 400 Frenchmen as to make them hiss in the days of l'ancien régime! The dread of being the object of that species of antipathy or ridicule which is excited by unfashionable peculiarity of accent has induced many of the misguided natives of Ireland to affect what they imagine to be the English pronunciation. They are seldom successful in this attenipt, for they generally overdo the business. We are told by Theophrastus, that a barbarian, who had taken soine pains to attain the true attic dialect, was discovered to be a foreigner by his speaking the attic dialect with a greater degree of precision and purity than was usual among the Athenians themselves. To avoid the imputation of committing barbarisms, people sometimes run into solecisms, which are yet more ridiculous. Affectation is always more ridiculous than ignorance.
There are Irish ladies who, ashamed of their country, betray themselves by mincing out their abjuration, by calling tables teebles, and chairs cheers! To such renegadoes we prefer the honest quixotism of a modern champion* for the Scottish accent, who, boldly asserting that "the broad dialect rises above reproach, scorn, and laughter,” enters the lists, as he says of himself, in Tartan dress and armour, and throws down the gauntlet to the most prejudiced antagonist. “How weak is prejudice !” pursues this patriotic enthusiast. “The sight of the Highland kelt, the flowing plaid, the buskined leg, provokes my antagonist to laugh! Is this dress ridiculous in the eyes of reason and common sense ? No: nor is the dialect of speech: both are characteristic and national distinctions.
* James Adams, S.R.E.S., author of a book entitled “The Pronunciation of the English Language vindicated froin imputed Anomaly and Caprice; with an Appendix on the Dialects of Human Speech in all Countries, and an analytical Discussion and Vindication of the Dialect of Scotland.”
“ The arguments of general vindication,” continues he,“ rise powerful before my sight, like the Highland bands in full array. A louder strain of apologetic speech swells my words. What if it should rise high as the unconquered summits of Scotia's hills, and call back, with voice sweet as Caledonian song, the days of ancient Scottish heroes; or attempt the powerful speech of the Latin orator, or his of Greece! The subject, methinks, would well accord with the attempt : Cupdum Scotia optima, vires deficiunt. I leave this to the king of songs. Dunbar and Dunkeld, Douglas in Virgilian strains, and later poets, Ramsay, Ferguson, and Burns, awake from your graves; you have already immortalized the Scotch dialect in raptured melody! Lend me your golden target and well pointed spear, that I may victoriously pursue, to the extremity of South Britain, reproachful ignorance and scorn still lurking there :-let impartial candour seize their usurped throne. Great then is the birth of this national dialect,” &c.
So far so good. We have some sympathy with the rhapsodist, whose enthusiasm kindles at the names of Allan Ramsay and of Burns: nay, we are willing to hear (with a grain of allowance) that “ the manly eloquence of the Scotch bar affords a singular pleasure to the candid English hearer, and gives merit and dignity to the noble speakers, who retain so much of their own dialect and tempered propriety of English sounds, that they may be emphatically termed British orators.” But we confess that we lose our patient decorum, and are almost provoked to laughter, when our philological Quixote seriously sets about to prove that Adam and Eve spoke broad Scotch in paradise.
How angry has this grave patriot reason to be with his ingenious countryman Beattie,* the celebrated champion of truth, who acknowledges that he never could, when a boy or man, look at a certain translation of Ajax's speech into one of the vulgar Scotch dialects without laughing!
We shall now, with boldness similar to that of the Scotch champion, try the risible muscles of our English
• Vide Illustrations on Sublimity, in his Essays.
reader; we are not, indeed, inclined to go quite such lengths as he has gone : he insists that the Scotch dialect ought to be adopted all over England : we are only going candidly to confess, that we think the Irish, in general, speak better English than is commonly spoken by the natives of England. To limit this proposition so as to make it appear less absurd, we should observe that we allude to the lower classes of the people in both countries. In some counties in Ireland, a few of the poorest labourers and cottagers do not understand Eng. lish; they speak only Irish, as in Wales there are vast numbers who speak only Welsh; but among those who speak English we find sewer vulgarisms than among the same rank of persons in England. The English which they speak is chiefly such as has been traditional in their families from the time of the early settlers in the island. During the reign of Elizabeth and the reign of Shakspeare, numbers of English migrated to Ireland; and whoever attends to the phraseology of the lower Irish may, at this day, hear many of the phrases and ex. pressions used by Shakspeare. Their vocabulary has been preserved nearly in its pristine purity since that time, because they have not had intercourse with those counties in England which have made for themselves a jargon unlike to any language under heaven. The Írish brogue is a great and shameful defect, but it does not render the English language absolutely unintelligible. There are but a few variations of the brogue, such as the long and the short, the Thady brogue and Paddy brogue, which differ much in tone, and but little in phraseology; but in England, almost all of our fifty-two counties have peculiar vulgarisms, dialects, and brogues, unintelligible to their neighbours. Herodotus tells us that some of the nations of Greece, though they used the same language, spoke it so differently that they could not understand each other's conversation. This is literally the case at present between the provincial inhabitants of remote parts of England. Indeed the language peculiar to the metropolis, or the cockney dialect, is proverbially ridiculous. The Londoners, who look down with contempt upon all that have not been bred and born within the sound of Bow, talk with unconscious absurdity of weal and winegar, and vine and vindors, and idears; and ask you 'o you do? and 'ave ye bin taking the hair in 'yde park? and 'us your 'orse 'ad