Слике страница
PDF
ePub

of showing knowledge has betrayed to shame men far superior to our Hibernian, both in reputation and in the means of acquiring knowledge.

Cardinal Richelieu, the Mecænas or would-be Mecænas of France, once mistook the name of a noted grammarian, Maurus Terentianus, for a play of Terence's. This is called by the French writer who records it, “une bévue bien grossière.” However gross, a mistake can never be made into a bull. We find bévues French, English, Italian, German, Latin, and Greek, of theologians, historians, antiquarians, poets, critics, and translators, without end. The learned Budæus takes sir Thomas More’s Utopia for a true history; and proposes sending missionaries to work the conversion of so wise a people as the Utopians. An English antiquarian* mistakes a tomb in a Gothic cathedral for the tomb of Hector. Pope, our great poet, and prince of translators, mistakes Dec. the 8th, Nov. the 5th, of Cinthio, for Dec. 8th, Nov. 5th ; and Warburton, his learned critic, improves upon the blunder, by afterward writing the words December and November at full length. Better still, because more comic, is the blunder of a Frenchman, who, puzzled by the title of one of Cibber's plays, “ Love's Last Shift," translates it “ La Dernière Chemise de l’Amour.” We laugh at these mistakes, and forget them ; but who can forget the blunder of the Cork almanac-maker, who informs the world that the principal republics in Europe are Venice, Holland, and America ?

* John Lydgate.

The blunders of men of all countries, except Ireland, do not affix an indelible stigma upon individual or national character. A free pardon is, and ought to be, granted by every Englishman to the vernacular and literary errors of those who have the happiness to be born subjects of Great Britain. What enviable privileges are annexed to the birth of an Englishman! and what a misfortune it is to be a native of Ireland !

CHAPTER IV.

LITTLE DOMINICK.

We have laid down the general law of bulls and blunders ; but as there is no rule without an exception, we may perhaps allow an exception in favour of little Dominick.

Little Dominick was born at Fort-Reilly, in Ireland, and bred nowhere until his tenth

year,

when he was sent to Wales to learn manners and

grammar at the school of Mr. Owen

ap
Davies

ap Jones. This gentleman had reason to think himself the greatest of men ; for he had over his chimneypiece a well-smoked genealogy, duly attested, tracing his ancestry in a direct line up to Noah ; and moreover he was nearly related to the learned etymologist,

ap Jenkins

Jenkins ap

who, in the time of Queen Elizabeth wrote a folio to prove that the language of Adam and Eve in Paradise was pure Welsh. With such causes to be proud, Mr. Owen ap Davies ap

Jones was excusable for sometimes seeming to forget that a schoolmaster is but a man. He, however, sometimes entirely forgot that a boy is but a boy; and this happened most frequently with respect to little Dominick.

This unlucky wight was flogged every morning by his master, not for his vices, but for his vicious constructions, and laughed at by his companions every evening for his idiomatic absurdities. They would probably have been inclined to sympathise in his misfortunes, but that he was the only Irish boy at school; and as he was at a distance from all his relations, and without a friend to take his part, he was a just object of obloquy and derision. Every sentence he spoke was a bull; every two words he put together proved a false concord; and every sound he articulated betrayed the brogue. But as he possessed some of the characteristic boldness of those who have been dipped in the Shannon, he showed himself able and willing to fight his own battles with the host of foes by whom he was encompassed. Some of these, it was said, were of nearly twice his stature. This may be exaggerated, but it is certain that our hero sometimes ventured with sly Irish humour to revenge

his most powerful tyrant by mimicking the Welsh accent, in which Mr. Owen ap Jones said to him, “ Cot pless me, you plockit, and shall I never learn you Enclish crammer?”

himself

upon

It was whispered in the ear of this Dionysius, that our little hero was a mimick; and he was treated with increased severity.

The midsummer holydays approached; but he feared that they would shine no holydays for him. He had written to his mother to tell her that school would break up the 21st, and to beg an answer, without fail, by return of post; but no answer

came.

It was now nearly two months since he had heard from his dear mother or any of his friends in Ireland. His spirits began to sink under the pressure of these accumulated misfortunes: he slept little, ate less, and played not at all ; indeed nobody would play with him upon equal terms, because he was nobody's equal ; his schoolfellows continued to consider him as a being, if not of a different species, at least of a different caste from themselves.

Mr. Owen ap Jones's triumph over the little Irish plockit was nearly complete, for the boy's heart was almost broken, when there came to the school a new scholar-0, how unlike the others ! His name was Edwards; he was the son of a neighbouring Welsh gentleman ; and he had himself the spirit of a gentleman. When he saw how poor Dominick was persecuted, he took him under his protection, fought his battles with the Welsh boys, and, instead of laughing at him for speaking Irish, he endeavoured to teach him to speak English. In his answers to

*

60

the first question Edwards ever asked him, little Dominick made two blunders, which set all his other companions in a roar : yet Edwards would not allow them to be genuine bulls.

In answer to the question, “Who is your father?” Dominick said, with a deep sigh, “I have no father -I am an orphan -I have only a mother.".

“ Have you any brothers and sisters ?”

“No; I wish I had ; perhaps they would love me, and not laugh at me,” said Dominick, with tears in his eyes;

- but I have no brothers but myself."

One day Mr. Jones came into the school-room with an open letter in his hand, saying, “Here, you little Irish plockit, here's a letter from your mother.”

The little Irish blockhead started from his form, and, throwing his grammar on the floor, leaped up higher than he or any boy in the school had ever been seen to leap before, and, clapping his hands, he exclaimed, A letter from my mother! And will I hear the letter? And will I see her once more ? And will I go home these holydays? O, then I will be too happy!”

“ There's no tanger of that,” said Mr. Owen ap Jones ; “ for your mother, like a wise ooman, writes me here, that py the atvice of your cardian, to com she is coing to be married, she will not pring you

* Iliad, 6th book, 1. 432, Andromache says to Hector, “ You will make your son an orphan, and your wife a widow.”

« ПретходнаНастави »