Слике страница

if I sport a single bon mot more this night. This is only my seventh detection, I have an eighth blunder still to the good; and if I can but keep my wit to myself till I am out of purgatory, then I shall be in heaven, and may sing lo triumphe in spite of my brother."

Fortunately, Phelim had not made it any part of his bet that he should not speak to himself an Irish idiom, or that he should not think a bull. Resolved to be as obstinately silent as a monk of La Trappe, he once more shut himself up in his cell, and fell fast asleep-dreamed that fat bulls of Basan encompassed him round about that he ran down a steep hill to escape them—that his foot slipped-he rolled to the bottom-felt the bull's horns in his side-heard the bull bellowing in his earswakened and found Terence M‘Dermod bellowing at his room door.

“Sir John Bull! Sir John Bull! murder! murder! my dear master, Sir John Bull! murder, robbery, and reward! let me in ! for the love of the Holy Virgin! they are all after you!"

“ Who? are you drunk, Terence ?” said Sir John, opening the door. “ No, but they are mad-all mad.” “ Who ?”

“The constable. They are all mad entirely, and the lord mayor, all along with your honour's making me swear I would not tell your name. Sure they are all coming armed in a body to put you in jail for a forgery, unless I run back and tell them the truth-will I ?"

“First tell me the truth, blunderer!"

“I'll make my affidavit I never blundered, plase your honour, but just went to the merchant's, as you ordered, with the draught, signed with the name I swore not to utter till past twelve. I presents the draught, and waits to be paid. Are you Mr. O'Mooney's servant?' says one of the clerks, after a while. “No, sir, not at all, sir,' said I; 'I'm Sir John Bull's, at your sarvice.' He puzzles and puzzles, and asks me did I bring the draught, and was that your writing at the bottom of it? I still said it was my master's writing, Sir John Bull's, and no other. They whispered from one up to l'other, and then said it was a forgery, as I overheard, and must go before the mayor. With that, while the master, who was called down to be examined as to his opinion, was putting on his glasses to spell it out, I gives them, one and all, tha slip, and whips out of the street-door and home to give your honour notice, and have been breaking my heart at the door this half-hour to make you hear-and now you have it all.”

“I am in a worse dilemma now than when between the horns of the bull,” thought Sir John: “I must now either tell my real name, avow myself an Irishman, and so lose my bet, or else go to jail."

He preferred going to jail. He resolved to pretend to be dumb, and he charged Terence not to betray him. The officers of justice came to take him up: Sir John resigned himself to them, making signs that he could not speak. He was carried before a magistrate. The mer. chant had never seen Mr. Phelim O'Mooney, but could swear to his handwriting and signature, having many of his letters and draughts. The draught in question was produced. Sir John Bull would neither acknowledge nor deny the signature, but in dumb show made signs of innocence. No art or persuasion could make him speak; he kept his fingers on his lips. One of the bailiffs offered to open Sir John's mouth. Sir John clenched his hand, in token that if they used violence he knew his remedy. To the magistrate he was all bows and respect: but the law, in spite of civility, must take its course.

Terence M‘Dermod beat his breast, and called upon all the saints in the Irish calendar when he saw the committal actually made out, and his dear master given over to the constables. Nothing but his own oath and his master's commanding eye, which was fixed upon him at this instant, could have made him forbear to utter—what he had never in his life been before so strongly tempted to tell the truth.

Determined to win his wager, our hero suffered him. self to be carried to a lock-up house, and persisted in keeping silence till the clock struck twelve! Then the charm was broken, and he spoke. He began talking to himself, and singing as loud as he possibly could. The next morning Terence, who was no longer bound by his oath to conceal Phelim's name, bastened to his master's correspondent in town, told the whole story, and O’Mooney was liberated. Having won his bet by his wit and steadiness, he had now the prudence to give up these adventuring schemes, to which he had so nearly become a dupe ; he returned immediately to Ireland to his brother, and determined to settle quietly to business. His good brother paid him the hundred guineas most joyfully, declaring that he had never spent a hundred guineas better in his life than in recovering a brother. Phelim had now conquered his foolish dislike to trade: his brother took him into partnership, and Phelim O'Mooney never relapsed into Sir John Bull.


UNABLE any longer to support the tone of irony, we joyfully speak in our own characters, and explicitly declare our opinion, that the Irish are an ingenious, generous people; that the hulls and blunders of which they are accused are often imputable to their neighbours, or that they are justifiable by ancient precedents, or that they are produced by their habits of using figurative and witty language. By what their good-humour is produced we know not; but that it exists we are certain. In Ireland, the countenance and heart expand at the approach of wit and humour: the poorest labourer forgets his poverty and toil in the pleasure of enjoying a joke. Among all classes of the people, provided no malice is obviously meant, none is apprehended. That such is the character of the majority of the nation there cannot to us be a more convincing and satisfactory proof than the manner

in which a late publication* was received in Ireland. The Irish were the first to laugh at the caricatura of their ancient foibles, and it was generally taken merely as good-humoured raillery, not as insulting satire. If gratitude for this generosity has now betrayed us unawares into the language of panegyric, we may hope for pardon from the liberal of both nations. Those who are thoroughly acquainted with Ireland will most readily acknowledge the justice of our praises; those who are ignorant of the country will not, perhaps, be displeased to have their knowledge of the people of Ireland ex. tended. Many foreign pictures of Irishmen are as grotesque and absurd as the Chinese pictures of lions: having never seen that animal, the Chinese can paint him

[blocks in formation]

only from the descriptions of voyagers, which are sometimes ignorantly, sometimes wantonly, exaggerated.

In M. de Voltaire's Age of Lewis the Fourteenth we find the following passage :-“ Some nations seem made to be subject to others. The English have always had over the Irish the superiority of genius, wealth, and arms. The superiority which the whites have over the negroes.

A note in a subsequent edition informs us, that the injurious expression=“ The superiority which the whites have over the negroes," was erased by M. de Voltaire ; and his editor subjoins his own opinion. “The nearly savage state in which Ireland was when she was conquered, her superstition, the oppression exercised by the English, the religious fanaticism which divides the Irish into two hostile nations, such were the causes which have held down this people in depression and weakness. Religious hatreds are appeased, and this country has recovered her liberty. The Irish no longer yield to the English, either in industry or in information.”

The last sentence of this note might, if it had reached the eyes or ears of the incensed Irish historian, Mr. O'Halloran, have assuaged his wrath against Voltaire for the unguarded expression in the text; unless the amor patriæ of the historian, like the amour propre of some individuals, instead of being gratified by congratulations on their improvement, should be intent upon demonstrating that there never was any thing to improve. As we were neither born nor bred in Ireland, we cannot be supposed to possess this amor patriæ in its full force : we profess to be attached to the country only for its merits; we acknowledge that it is a matter of indifference to us whether the Irish derive their origin from the Spaniards, or the Milesians, or the Welsh: we are not 80 violently anxious as we ought to be to determine whether or not the language spoken by the Phenician

• "Il y a des nations don't l'une semble faite pour être soumise à l'autre. Los Anglois ont toujours eu sur les Irlandois la superiorite du génie, des richesses, et des armes, La supériorité que les blancs ont sur les nurs."

| "On lisait dans les première éditions, la sup Tiril que les blancs ont ne les n gres. M. de Voltaire effaça cette expression injurieuse. L'état presque sauvage ou étoit l'Irlande lorsqu'elle fut conqune, la superstition, l'opproxion exercée par les Anglois, le tanatisme religieux qui divise las Irlan dois en deux nadons ennemier, telles sont les causes qui ont retenues ce peu ple dans l'abaisseme it et dans foiblesse. Len haines religieuses se sont as. souples, et elle a repris sa liberté. Les Irlandous ne le codent plus aus in Flois ni en industrie ni en lumières."

slave, in Terence's play, was Irish; nay, we should not break our hearts if it could never be satisfactorily proved that Albion is only another name for Ireland.* We moreover candidly confess that we are more interested in the fate of the present race of its inhabitants than in the historian of St. Patrick, St. Facharis, St. Cormuc; the renowned Brien Boru; Tireldach, king of Connaught; M.Murrough, king of Leinster; Diarmod; Righ-Damnha; Labra-Loing-seach ; Tighermas ; Ollamh-Foldha ; the M'Giolla-Phadraigs; or even the great William of Og. ham; and by this declaration we have no fear of giving offence to any but rusty antiquaries. We think it somewhat more to the honour of Ireland to enumerate the names of some of the men of genius whom she has produced: Milton and Shakspeare stand unrivalled; but Ireland can boast of Usher, Boyle, Denham, Congreve, Molyneux, Farquhar, Sir Richard Steele, Bickerstaff, Sir Hans Sloane, Berkeley, Orrery, Parnel, Swift, T. Sheridan, Welsham, Bryan, Robinson, Goldsmith, Sterne, Johnson,t Tickel, Brooke, Zeland, Hussey Burgh, three Hamiltons, Young, Charlemont, Macklin, Murphy, Mrs. Sheridan, Francis Sheridan, Kirwan, Brinsley Sheridan, and Burke.

We enter into no invidious comparisons: it is our sincere wish to conciliate both countries; and if in this slight essay we should succeed in diffusing a more just and enlarged idea of the Irish than has been generally entertained, we hope the English will deem it not an unacceptable service. Whatever might have been the policy of the English nation towards Ireland while she was a separate kingdom, since the union it can no longer be her wish to depreciate the talents or ridicule the language of Hibernians. One of the czars of Russia used to take the cap and bells from his fool, and place it on the head of any of his subjects whom he wished to disgrace. The idea of extending such a punishment to a whole nation was ingenious and magnanimous; but England cannot now put it into execution towards Ireland. Would it not be a practical bull to place the bells upon ber own imperial head?

See O'Halloran's History of Ireland.
Author of Chrysal, or Adventures of a Guinen.
Author of the beautiful moral tale Nourjabad.

« ПретходнаНастави »