Слике страница
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER I.

ORIGINALITY OF IRISH BULLS EXAMINED.

The difficulty of selecting from the vulgar herd of Irish bulls one that shall be entitled to the prize, from the united merits of pre-eminent absurdity, and indisputable originality, is greater than hasty judges may imagine. Many bulls, reputed to be bred and born in Ireland, are of foreign extraction; and many more, supposed to be unrivalled in their kind, may be matched in all their capital points: for instance, there is not a more celebrated bull than Paddy Blake's. When Paddy heard an English gentleman speaking of the fine echo at the lake of Killarney, which repeats the sound forty times, he very promptly observed, “Faith, that's nothing at all to the echo in my father's garden, in the county of Galway: if you say to it, “How do you do, Paddy Blake?' it will answer, “Pretty well, I thank you, sir.'

Now this echo of Paddy Blake's, which has long been the admiration of the world, is not a prodigy unique in its kind ; it can be matched by one recorded in the immortal works of the great lord Verulam.*

“I remember well,” says this father of philosophy, “ that when I went to the echo at port Charenton, there was an old Parisian that took it to be the work of spirits, and of good spirits, for,' said he, call Satan, and the echo will not deliver back the devil's name, but will

* Natural History, century III. p. 191.-Bacon produces it to show that echoes will not readily return the letter S.

say,

"Va t'en.'" The Parisian echo is surely superior to the Hibernian! Paddy Blake's simply understood and practised the common rules of good breeding ; but the port Charenton echo is “instinct with spirit," and endowed with a nice moral sense.

Amongst the famous bulls recorded by the illustrious Joe Miller, there is one which has been continually quoted as an example of original Irish genius. An English gentleman was writing a letter in a coffee-house, and perceiving that an Irishman stationed behind him was taking that liberty which Hephæstion used with his friend Alexander, instead of putting his seal upon the lips of the curious impertinent, the English gentleman thought proper to reprove the Hibernian, if not with delicacy, at least with poetical justice: he concluded writing his letter in these words: “I would sa more, but a damned tall Irishman is reading over my shoulder every word I write.”

“ You lie, you scoundrel !” said the self-convicted Hibernian.

This blunder is unquestionably excellent ; but it is not originally Irish : it comes, with other riches, from the East, as the reader may find by looking into a book by M. Galland, entitled, “ The Remarkable Sayings of the Eastern Nations."

[ocr errors]

“A learned man was writing to a friend ; a troublesome fellow was beside him, who was looking over his shoulder at what he was writing. The learned man, who perceived this, continued writing in these words, “If an impertinent chap, who stands beside me, were not looking at what I write, I would write many other things to you, which should be known only to

you

and to me.' • The troublesome fellow, who was reading on, now thought it incumbent upon him to speak, and said, I swear to you, that I have not read or looked at what you are writing.'

“ The learned man replied, 'Blockhead, as you are, why then do you say to me what you are now say

» *

ing ?'

Making allowance for the difference of manners in eastern and northern nations, there is, certainly, such a similarity between this oriental anecdote and Joe Miller's story, that we may conclude the latter is stolen from the former. Now, an Irish bull must be a species of blunder peculiar to Ireland; those that we have hitherto examined, though they may be called Irish bulls by the ignorant vulgar, have no right, title, or claim to such a distinction. We should invariably exclude from that class all blunders which can be found in another country. For instance, a speech of the celebrated Irish beauty, lady C-,,, has been called a bull; but as a parallel can be produced in the speech of an English nobleman, it tells for nothing. When her ladyship was presented at court, his majesty, George the Second, politely hoped, “ that, since her arrival in England, she had been entertained with the gaieties of London."

* “Un savant écrivoit à un ami, et un importun étoit à coté de lui, qui regardoit par dessus l'épaule ce qu'il écrivoit. Le savant, qui s'en apperçut, écrivit ceci à la place : si un imperti. nent qui est à mon côté ne regardoit pas ce que j'écris, je vous écrirois encore plusieurs choses qui ne doivent être sues que de vous et de moi. L'importun, qui lisoit toujours, prit la parole et dit: 'Je vous jure que je n'ai regardé ni la ce que vous écrivois.' Le savant repartit, ' Ignorant, que vous êtes, pourquoi me dites-vous donc ce que vous dites ?'” Les Paroles remar. quables des Orientaux ; traduction de leurs ouvrages en Arabe, en Persan, et en Turc (suivant la copie imprimée à Paris), à la Haye, chez Louis et Henry Vandole, marchands libraires, dans le Pooten, à l'enseigne du Port Royal, M.DC.XCIV.

“O yes, please your majesty, I have seen every sight in London, worth seeing, except a coronation.”

This naïveté is certainly not equal to that of the English 'earl marshal, who, when his king found fault with some arrangement at his coronation, said, “ Please your majesty, I hope it will be better next time.”

A naïveté of the same species entailed a heavy tax upon the inhabitants of Beaune, in France. Beaune is famous for burgundy ; and Henry the Fourth, passing through his kingdom, stopped there, and was well entertained by his loyal subjects. His majesty praised the burgundy which they set before him “ It was excellent! it was admirable!”

O, sire !” cried they, “ do you think this excellent? we have much finer burgundy than this.”

“ Have

you so ? then you can afford to pay for it,” replied Harry the Fourth ; and he laid a double tax thenceforward upon the burgundy of Beaune.

Of the same class of blunders is the following speech, which we actually heard not long ago from an Irishman :

“ Please your worship, he sent me to the devil, and I came straight to your honour.”

* We thought this an original Irish blunder, till we recollected its prototype in Marmontel's Annette and Lubin Lubin concludes his harangue with, “The bailiff sent us to the devil, and we come to put ourselves under your protection, my lord."*

The French, at least in former times, were celebrated for politeness; yet we meet with a naïve compliment of a Frenchman, which would have been accounted a bull if it had been found in Ireland.

A gentleman was complimenting madame Denis on the manner in which she had just acted Zara. To act that part,” said she,

a person should be young

and handsome.” “Ah, madam !” replied the complimenter naïvement, "you are a complete proof of the contrary." +

[ocr errors]

*Le bailli nous donne au diable, et nous nous recommandons à vous, monseigneur."

+ On faisoit compliment à madame Denis de la façon dont elle venoit de jouer Zaïre.

6. Il faudroit,” dit elle, “ être belle et jeune.” “Ah, madame!” reprit le complimenteur naïvement, vous êtes bien la preuve du contraire.”

[ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »