Слике страница
PDF
ePub

exigences, but as it would be found in situations to which it cannot be exposed.' These are his own words; I think I remember them accurately."

The English gentleman smiled, and our Hibernian acknowledged that the Scotchman had fairly gained the victory. “My friends,” added he, “as I cannot pretend to be convinced against my will,' I certainly am not of the same opinion still.' But stay—there are such things as practical bulls: did you never hear of the Irishman who ordered a painter to draw his picture, and to represent him standing behind a tree ?"

Englishman. “No: but I have heard the very same story told of an Englishman. The dealers in good jokes give them first to one nation and then to another, first to one celebrated character and then to another, as it suits the demand and fashion of the day: just as our print. sellers, with a few touches,change the portrait of General Washington into the head of the King of France, and a capital print of Sir Joshua Reynolds into a striking likeness of the Monster.

“But I can give you an instance of a practical bull that is not only indisputably English, but was made by one of the greatest men that England ever produced, Sir Isaac Newton, who, after he had made a large hole in his study-door for his cat to creep through, made a small hole beside it for the kitten. You will acknowledge, sir, that this is a good practical bull."

“ Pardon me,” said the Hibernian, “ we have still some miles farther to go, and if you will give me leave, I will relate .an Hibernian tale, which exemplifies some of the opinions held in this conversation.'

The Scotch and English gentlemen begged to hear the story, and he began in the following manner.

CHAPTER XIV.

THE IRISH INCOGNITO

Sir John Bull was a native of Ireland, bred and born in the city of Cork. His real name was Phelim O'Moo. rey, and he was by profession a stooah, or walking gen

tleman; that is, a person who is too proud to earn his bread, and too poor to have bread without earning it. He had always been told that none of his ancestors had ever been in trade or business of any kind, and he resolved, when a boy, never to demean himself and family, as his elder brother had done, by becoming a rich merchant. When he grew up to be a young man he kept this spirited resolution as long as he had a relation or friend in the world who would let him hang upon them; but when he was shaken off by all, what could he do but go into business? He chose the most genteel, however; he became a wine merchant. “I'm only a wine merchant," said he to himself," and that is next door to being nothing at all." His brother furnished his cellars; and Mr. Phelim O'Mooney, upon the strength of the wine that he had in his cellars, and of the money he expected to make of it, immediately married a wife, set up a gig, and gave excellent dinners to men who were ten times richer than he even ever expected to be. In return for these excellent dinners, his new friends bought all their wine from Mr. O'Mooney, and never paid for it; he lived upon credit himself, and gave all his friends credit, till he became a bankrupt. Then nobody came to dine with him, and everybody found out that he had been very imprudent; and he was obliged to sell his gig, but not before it had broken his wife's neck; so that when accounts came to be finally settled, he was not much worse than when he began the world, the loss falling upon his creditors, and he being, as he observed, free to begin life again, with the advantage of being once more a bachelor. He was such a good-natured, free-hearted fellow, that everybody liked him, even his creditors. His wife's relations made up the sum of five hundred pounds for him, and his brother offered to take him into his firm as partner; but O'Mooney preferred, he said, going to try, or rather to make, his fortune in England, as he did not doubt but he should by marriage, being, as he did not scruple to acknowledge, a personable, clever-looking man, and a great favourite with the sex.

“My last wise I married for love; my next I expect will do the same by me, and of course the money must come on her side this time," said our hero, hall jesting, half in earnest. His elder and wiser brother, the mer. chant, whom he still held in more than sufficient contempt, ventured to hint some slight objections to this scheme of Phelim's seeking fortune in England. He observed that so many had gone upon this plan already, that there was rather a prejudice in England against Irish adventurers.

This could not affect him any way, Phelim replied, because he did not mean to appear in England as an Irishman at all.

" How then ?" “As an Englishman, since that is most agreeable." “How can that be?" ti Who should hinder it?" His brother, hesitatingly, said, “ Yourself."

"Myself!-What part of myself? Is it my tongue ? -You'll acknowledge, brother, that I do not speak with the brogue.”

It was true that Phelim did not speak with any Irish brogue; his mother was an English woman, and he had lived much with English officers in Cork, and he had studied and imitated their manner of speaking so successfully, that no one merely by his accent could have guessed that he was an Irishman.

“ Hey! brother, I say !" continued Phelim, in a triumphant English tone; * I never was taken for an Irish. man in my life. Colonel Broadman told me the other day, I spoke English better than the English themselves; that he should take me for an Englishman, in any part of the known world, the moment I opened my lips. You must allow that not the smallest particle of brogue is discernible on my tongue."

His brother allowed that not the smallest particle of brogue was to be discerned upon Phelim's tongue, but feared that some Irish idiom might be perceived in his conversation. And then the name of O'Mooney!

“Oh, as to that, I need not trouble an act of parliament, or even a king's letter, just to change my name for a season ; at the worst, I can travel and appear in. cognito."

** Always ?"

“ No: only just till I'm upon good terms with the lady-Mrs. Phelim O'Mooney, that is to be, God will. ing. Never fear, nor shake your head, brother; you men of business are out of this line, and not proper judges: I beg your pardon for saying so, but as you are my own brother, and nobody by, you'll excuse me."

His brother did excuse him, but continued silent for

some minutes; he was pondering upon the means of persuading Phelim to give up this scheme.

"I would lay you any wager, my dear Phelim," said he, “ that you could not continue four days in England incognito."

“ Done !" cried Phelim. “Done for a hundred pounds; done for a thousand pounds, and welcome."

" But if you lose, how will you pay ?" " Faith ! that's the last thing I thought of, being sure of winning."

" Then you will not object to any mode of payment I shall propose ?"

“None: only remembering always, that I was a bankrupt last week, and shall be little better till I'm married ; but then I'll pay you honestly, if I lose."

"No, if you lose I must be paid before that time, my good sir," said his brother, laughing. “My bet is this: -I will lay you one hundred guineas that you do not remain four days in England incognito; be upon honour with me, and promise, that if you lose you will, instead of laying down a hundred guineas, come back immediately, and settle quietly again to business."

The word business was always odious to our hero's proud ears; but he thought himself so secure of winning his wager, that he willingly bound himself in a penalty which he believed would never become due ; and his generous brother, at parting, made the bet still more favourable, by allowing that Phelim should not be deemed the loser unless he was, in the course of the first four days after he touched English ground, detected eight times in being an Irishman.

“ Eight times !” cried Phelim. Good-by to a hundred guineas, brother, you may say.".

“ You may say," echoed his brother, and so they parted.

Mr. Phelim O'Mooney the next morning sailed from Cork harbour with a prosperous gale, and with a confidence in his own success which supplied the place of auspicious omens. He embarked at Cork, to go by long sea to London, and was driven into Deal, where Julius Cæsar once landed before him, and with the same resolution to see and conquer. It was early in the morningi having been very sea-sick, he was impatient, as soon as he got into the inn, for his breakfast: he was shown into a room where three ladies were waiting to go by the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

66

stage; his air of easy confidence was the best possible introduction.

“Would any of the company choose eggs?" said the waiter.

“ I never touch an egg, for my share,” said O'Mooney, carelessly; he knew that it was supposed to be an Irish custom to eat eggs at breakfast; and when the malicious waiter afterward set a plate full of eggs in salt upon the table, our hero magnanimously abstained from them; he even laughed heartily at a story told by one of the ladies of an Hibernian at Buxton, who declared that “no English hen ever laid a fresh egg."

O'Mooney got through breakfast much to his own satisfaction, and to that of the ladies, whom he had taken a proper occasion to call the three graces, and whom he had informed that he was an old båronet of an English family, and that his name was Sir John Bull. The youngest of the graces civilly observed, “That whatever else he might be, she should never have taken him for an old baronet." The lady who made this speech was pretty, but O'Mooney had penetration enough to discover in the course of the conversation that she and her companions were far from being divinities : his three graces were a green-grocer's wife, a tallow-chandler's widow, and a milliner. When he found that these ladies were likely to be his companions if he were to travel in the coach, he changed his plan, and ordered a postchaise and four.

O'Mooney was not in danger of making any vulgar Irish blunders in paying his bill at an inn. No landlord or waiter could have suspected him, especially as he always left them settle the matter first, and then looked over the bill and money with a careless gentility, saying, “Very right," or, “ Very well, sir;" wisely calculating, that it was better to lose a few shillings on the road than to lose a hundred pounds by the risk of Hibernian miscalculation.

While the chaise was getting ready, he went to the custom-house to look after his baggage. He found a red-hot countryman of his own there, roaring about four and fourpence, and fighting the battle of his trunks, in which he was ready to make affidavit there was not, nor never had been, any thing contraband; and when the custom-house officer replied by pulling out of one of them a piece of Irish poplin, the Hibernian fell imme

« ПретходнаНастави »