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Hibernian ; “ and had I known who you were, I would as soon have shot my own soul as have fired at the door. But how could I tell who was withinside ?
“ That is the very thing of which I complain,” said his lordship.
His candid opponent admitted the justice of the complaint as soon as he understood it, and he promised never more to be guilty of such a practical bull.
THE DUBLIN SHOEBLACK.
UPON looking over our last chapter on practical bulls, we were much concerned to find that we have so few Irish and so many foreign blunders. It is with still more regret we perceive that, notwithstanding our utmost diligence, we have not yet been able to point out the distinguishing characteristic of an Irish bull. But to compensate for this disappointment we have devised a syllogism, which some people may prefer to an à priori argument, to prove irrefragably, that the Irish are blunderers.
After the instances we have produced, chapter 6th, of the verbum ardens of English and foreign poets, and after the resemblance that we have pointed out betwixt certain figures of rhetoric and the Irish
bull, we have little reason to fear that the candid and enlightened reader should object to our major.
Major.—Those who use figurative language are disposed to make bulls.
Minor.-The Irish use figurative language.
Conclusion. Therefore the Irish are disposed to make bulls.
We proceed to establish the truth of our minor, and the first evidence we shall call is a Dublin shoeblack. He is not in circumstances peculiarly favourable for the display of figurative language; he is in a court of justice, upon his trial for life or death. A quarrel happened between two shoeblacks, who were playing at what in England is called pitch-farthing, or heads and tails, and in Ireland, head or harp. One of the combatants threw a small paving stone at his opponent, who drew out the knife with which he used to scrape shoes, and plunged it up to the hilt in his companion's breast. It is necessary for our story to say, that near the hilt of this knife was stamped the name of Lamprey, an eminent cutler in Dublin. The shoeblack was brought to trial. With a number of significant gestures, which on his audience had all the powers that Demosthenes ascribes to action, he, in a language not purely attic, gave the following account of the affair to his judge.
“Why, my lard, as I was going past the Royal Exchange I meets Billy, · Billy,' says I, - will you sky a copper?' Done,' says he, Done,' says I; and done and done's enough between two jantlemen With that I ranged them fair and even with my Kames says
hook-em-snivey-up they go.
• Music !' says he, • Skulls !' says I ; and down they come three brown mazards. By the holy ! you flesh'd 'em,' says he. • You lie,' says I. With that he ups with a lump of a two year old, and lets drive at me. I outs with my bread-earner, and gives it him up to Lamprey in the bread-basket.”
To make this intelligible to the English, some comments are necessary. Let us follow the text, step by step, and it will afford our readers, as lord
of Blair's Dissertation on Ossian, a delicious morsel of criticism.
As I was going past the Royal Exchange I meets Billy.
In this apparently simple exordium, the scene and the meeting with Billy are brought before the eye by the judicious use of the present tense.
Billy, says I, will you sky a copper?
A copper! genus pro specie! the generic name of copper for the base individual halfpenny.
Sky a copper.
To sky is a new verb, which none but a master hand could have coined: a more splendid metonomy could not be applied upon a more trivial occasion: the lofty idea of raising a metal to the skies is substituted for the mean thought of tossing up a halfpenny. Our orator compresses his hyperbole into a single word. Thus the mind is prevented from dwelling long enough upon the figure to perceive its enormity. This is the perfection of the art. Let the genius of French exaggeration and of eastern hyperbole hide their diminished heads-- Virgil is scarcely more sublime.
Ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit.”
1. Metaphor continually : on one side of an Irish halfpenny there is a harp ; this is expressed by the general term music, which is finely contrasted with the word skull.
Down they come, three brown mazards.
Mazards! how the diction of our orator is enriched from the vocabulary of Shakspeare! the word head, instead of being changed for a more general term, is here brought distinctly to the eye by the term mazard, or face, which is more appropriate to his majesty's profile than the word skull or head.
By the holy ! you flesh'd 'em, says he.
By the holy ! is an oath in which more is meant than meets the ear; it is an ellipsis—an abridgment of an oath. The full formula runs thus—By the holy poker of hell! This instrument is of Irish invention or imagination. It seems a useful piece of furniture in the place for which it is intended, to stir the devouring flames, and thus to increase the torments of the damned. Great judgment is necessary to direct an orator how to suit his terms to his auditors, so as not to shock their feelings either by what is too much above or too much below common life. In the use of oaths, where the passions are
warm, this must be particularly attended to, else they lose their effect, and seem more the result of the head than the heart. But to proceed
By the holy ! you flesh'd 'em.
To flesh is another verb of Irish coinage ; it means, in shoeblack dialect, to touch a halfpenny, as it goes up into the air, with the fleshy part of the thumb, so as to turn it which way you please, and thus to cheat your opponent. What an intricate explanation saved by one word ! You lie,
1. Here no periphrasis would do the business.
With that he ups with a lump of a two year old, and lets drive at me. He ups
with.--A verb is here formed of two prepositions—a novelty in grammar. Conjunctions, we all know, are corrupted Anglo-Saxon verbs; but prepositions, according to Horne Tooke, derive only from Anglo-Saxon nouns.
All this time it is possible that the mere English reader may not be able to guess what it is that our orator ups with or takes up. He should be apprised, that a lump of a two year old is a middle-sized stone. This is a metaphor, borrowed partly from the grazier's vocabulary, and partly from the arithmetician's vade
A stone, to come under the denomination of a lump of a two year old, must be to a less stone, as a two year old calf is to a yearling'; or it must be to a larger stone than itself, as a two year old calf is to an ox.
Here the scholar sees that there must be two statements, one in the rule of three direct, and