Слике страница
PDF
ePub

orators.” But we confess that we lose our patient decorum, and are almost provoked to laughter, when our philological Quixote seriously sets about to prove that Adam and Eve spoke broad Scotch in Paradise.

How angry has this grave patriot reason to be with his ingenious countryman Beattie,* the celebrated champion of Truth, who acknowledges that he never could, when a boy or man, look at a certain translation of Ajax's speech into one of the vulgar Scotch dialects without laughing !

We shall now with boldness, similar to that of the Scotch champion, try the risible muscles of our English reader; we are not, indeed, inclined to go quite such lengths as he has gone: he insists, that the Scotch dialect ought to be adopted all over England; we are only going candidly to confess, that we think the Irish, in general, speak better English than is commonly spoken by the natives of England. To limit this proposition so as to make it appear

less absurd, we should observe, that we allude to the lower classes of the people in both countries. In some counties in Ireland, a few of the poorest labourers and cottagers do not understand English, they speak only Irish, as in Wales there are vast numbers who speak only Welsh; but amongst those who speak English we find fewer vulgarisms than amongst the same rank of persons in England. The English which they speak is chiefly such as has been traditional in their families from the time of the

• Vide Illustrations on Sublimity, in his Essays.

early settlers in the island. During the reign of Elizabeth and the reign of Shakspeare, numbers of English migrated to Ireland ; and whoever attends to the phraseology of the lower Irish may, at this day, hear many of the phrases and expressions used by Shakspeare. Their vocabulary has been preserved nearly in its pristine purity since that time, because they have not had intercourse with those counties in England which have made for themselves a jargon unlike to any language under heaven. The Irish brogue is a great and shameful defect, but it does not render the English language absolutely unintelligible. There are but a few variations of the brogue, such as the long and the short, the Thady brogue and Paddy brogue, which differ much in tone, and but little in phraseology; but in England, almost all of our fifty-two counties have peculiar vulgarisms, dialects, and brogues, unintelligible to their neighbours. Herodotus tells us that some of the nations of Greece, though they used the same language, spoke it so differently, that they could not under- ' stand each other's conversation. This is literally the case at present between the provincial inhabitants of remote parts of England. Indeed the language peculiar to the metropolis, or the cockney dialect, is proverbially ridiculous. The Londoners, who look down with contempt upon all that have not been bred and born within the sound of Bow, talk with unconscious absurdity of weal and winegar, and vine and vindors, and idears, and ask you ow you do?

1

and ’ave ye bin taking the hair in 'yde park? and 'as your 'orse 'ad any hoats, &c.? aspirating always where they should not, and never aspirating where they should.

The Zummerzetzheer dialect, full of broad oos and eternal zeds, supplies never-failing laughter when brought upon the stage. Even a cockney audience relishes the broad pronunciation of John Moody, in the Journey to London, or of Sim, in Wild Oats.

The cant of Suffolk, the vulgarisms of Shropshire, the uncouth phraseology of the three ridings of Yorkshire, amaze and bewilder foreigners, who perhaps imagine that they do not understand English, when they are in company with those who cannot speak it. The patois of Languedoc and Champagne, such as Mein fis sest ai bai via," Mon fils c'est un beau veau, exercises, it is true, the ingenuity of travellers, and renders many scenes of Moliere and Marivaux difficult, if not unintelligible, to those who have never resided in the French provinces; but no French patois is more unintelligible than the following spécimen of Tummas and Meary's Lancashire dialogue:Thomas. “Whau, but I startit up to goa

to th' tits, on slurr’d deawn to th' lower part o'th' heymough, on by th' maskins, lord! whot dust think? boh leet hump stridd’n up o' summot ot felt meety heury, on it startit weh meh on its back, deawn th’ lower part o' th’mough it jumpt, crost th’ leath, eaw't o'th' dur whimmey it took, on into th’ weturing poo, os if th’ dule o' hell had driv'n it, on there it threw meh en, or I fell off, I connaw tell whether, for th' life o' meh, into the poo.”

Mary. “Whoo-wo, whoo-wo, whoo! whot, ith neme o' God ! widneh sey ?"

Thomas. “ If it wur naw Owd Nick, he wur th’ orderer on't, to be shure *** Weh mitch powlering I geet eawt o'th' poo, 'lieve * meh, as to list, I could na tell whether i'r in a sleawm or wak’n, till eh groapt ot meh een; I crope under a wough and stode like o gawmblingt, or o parfit neatril, till welly day," &c.

Let us now listen to a conversation which we hope will not be quite so unintelligible.

CHAPTER XII.

BATH COACH CONVERSATION.

In one of the coaches which travel between Bath and London, an Irish, a Scotch, and an English gentleman happened to be passengers. They were well informed and well-bred, had seen the world, had lived in good company, and were consequently superior to local and national prejudice. As their conversation was illustrative of our subject, we shall make no apology for relating it. We pass the usual preliminary compliments, and the observations upon the weather and the roads. The Irish gentleman first started a more interesting subject--the Union ; its probable advantages and disadvantages were fully discussed, and, at last, the Irishman said, “ Whatever our political opinions may be, there is one wish in which we shall all agree, that the Union may make us better acquainted with one another.”

* The glossary to the Lancashire dialect informs us, that 'licve me comes from beleemy, believe me; from belamy, my good friend, old French.

+ Gawmbling (Anglo Saxon gawmless), stupid.

“ It is surprising,” said the Englishman,“ how ignorant we English in general are of Ireland : to be sure we do not now, as in the times of Bacon and Spenser, believe that wild Irishmen have wings; nor do we all of us give credit to Mr. Twiss's assertion, that if

you

look at an Irish lady, she answers, 'port, if you please.

Scotchman.-" That traveller seems to be almost as liberal as he who defined oats-food for horses in England, and for men in Scotland : such illiberal notions die away of themselves.”

Irishman.-“ Or they are contradicted by more liberal travellers. I am sure my country has great obligations to the gallant English and Scotch military, not only for so readily assisting to defend and quiet us, but for spreading in England a juster notion of Ireland. Within these few months, I suppose, more real knowledge of the state and manners

« ПретходнаНастави »