Слике страница

of that kingdom has been diffused in England by their

means, than had been obtained during a whole century."

Scotchman.-" Indeed, I do not recollect having read any author of note who has given me a notion of Ireland since Spenser and Davies, except Arthur Young."

Englishman.“ What little knowledge I have of Ireland has been drawn more from observation than from books. I remember when I first went over there, I did not expect to see twenty trees in the whole island : I imagined that I should have nothing to drink but whiskey, that I should have nothing to eat but potatoes, that I should sleep in mud-walled cabins ; that I should, when awaké, hear nothing but the Irish howl, the Irish brogue, Irish answers, and Irish bulls; and that if I smiled at any of these things, a hundred pistols would fly from their holsters to give or demand satisfaction. But experience taught me better things: I found that the stories I had heard were tales of other times. Their hospitality, indeed, continues to this day.”

Irishman." It does, I believe; but of later days, as we have been honoured with the visits of a greater number of foreigners, our hospitality has become less extravagant."

Englishman.-“Not less agreeable : Irish hospitality, I speak from experience, does not now consist merely in pushing about the bottle; the Irish are convivial, but their conviviality is seasoned with wit and humour; they have plenty of good conversation as well as good cheer for their guests; and they not only have wit themselves, but they love it in others : they can take as well as give a joke. I never lived with a more good-humoured, generous, open-hearted people than the Irish.”

Irishman.-" I wish Englishmen, in general, were half as partial to poor Ireland as you are, sir.”

Englishman.Or rather you wish that they knew the country as well, and then they would do it as much justice."

Irishman.—You do it something more than justice, I fear. There are little peculiarities in my countrymen which will long be justly the subject of ridicule in England."

Scolchman.—“Not among well-bred and wellinformed people: those who have seen or read of great varieties of customs and manners are never apt to laugh at all that may differ from their own. As the sensible author of the Government of the Tongue says, Half-witted people are always the bitterest revilers.'"

Irishman.-“You are very indulgent, gentlemen ; but, in spite of all your politeness, you must allow, or, at least, I must confess, that there are little defects in the Irish government of the tongue at which even whole-witted people must laugh."

Scotchman.- _" The well-educated people in all countries, I believe, escape the particular accent, and avoid the idiom, that are characteristic of the vulgar.”

Irishman.—“But even when we escape Irish brogue we cannot escape

Irish bulls.” Englishman.—“ You need not say Irish bulls with such emphasis; for bulls are not peculiar to Ireland. I have been informed by a person of un. questionable authority, that there is a town in Germany, Hirschau in the Upper Palatinate, where the inhabitants are famous for making bulls.”

Irishman.—“I am truly glad to hear we have companions in disgrace. Numbers certainly lessen the effect of ridicule as well as of shame: but, after all, the Irish idiom is peculiarly unfortunate, for it leads perpetually to blunder.”

Scotchman.-“ I have heard the same remarked of the Hebrew. I am told that the Hebrew and Irish idiom are much alike.”

Irishman (laughing).-" That is a great comfort to us, certainly, particularly to those amongst us who are fond of tracing our origin up to the remotest antiquity ; but still there are many who would willingly give up the honour of this high alliance to avoid its inconveniences; for my own part, if I could ensure myself and my countrymen from all future danger of making bulls and blunders, I would this instant give up all Hebrew roots; and even the Ogham character itself I would renounce, ' to make assurance doubly sure.'

Englishman.—-• To make assurance doubly sure.' Now there is an example in our great Shakspeare of what I have often observed, that we English allow our poets and ourselves a license of speech that we

[ocr errors]

deny to our Hibernian neighbours. If an Irishman, instead of Shakspeare, had talked of making assurance doubly sure,' we should have asked how that could be. The vulgar in England are too apt to catch at every slip of the tongue made by Irishinen. I remember once being present when an Irish nobleman, of talents and literature, was actually hissed from the hustings at a Middlesex election because in his speech he happened to say, We have laid the root to the axe of the tree of liberty,' instead of we have laid the axe to the root of the tree.''

Scotchman.—“A lapsus linguæ, that might have been made by the greatest orators, ancient or modern; by Cicero or Chatham, by Burke, or by the fluent Murray'

Englishman.—“Upon another occasion I have heard that an Irish orator was silenced with “inextinguishable laughter' merely for saying, I am sorry to hear my honourable friend stand mute.""

Scotchman.-" If I am not mistaken, that very same Irish orator made an allusion at which no one could laugh. The protection,' said he, which Britain affords to Ireland in the day of adversity, is like that which the oak affords to the ignorant coun, tryman, who flies to it for shelter in the storm ; it draws down upon his head the lightning of heaven :' may be I do not repeat the words exactly, but I could not forget the idea."

Englishman.—“I would with all my heart bear the ridicule of a hundred blunders for the honour of having made such a simile: after all, his saying, 'I am sorry to hear my honourable friend stand mute, if it be a bull, is justified by Homer ; one of the charms in the cestus of Venus is,

Silence that speaks, and eloquence of eyes.'

Scotchman.-Silence that speaks, sir, is, I am afraid, an English, not a Grecian charm. It is not in the Greek; it is one of those beautiful liberties which Mr. Pope has taken with his original. But silence that speaks can be found in France as well as in England. Voltaire, in his chef-d'æuvre, his Edipus, makes Jocasta say,

• Tout parle contre nous jusqu'à notre silence.'" *

Englishman. —" And in our own Milton, Samson Agonistes makes as good, indeed a better, bull; for he not only makes the mute speak, but speak loud :

[ocr errors]

* The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the doer.'

And in Paradise Lost we have, to speak in fashionable language, two famous bulls. Talking of Satan,

Milton says,

God and his Son except,
Created thing nought valued he nor shunn'a.'

And speaking of Adam and Eve, and their sons and

*“Every thing speaks against us, even our silence."

« ПретходнаНастави »