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Created: By an unknown author Date range: c. 128 August 1804.
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (text capture)
The events which have occurred in Ireland during the last eight years, cannot fail to render any account of the present state of that island highly interesting to the British reader. It is therefore presumed that the following Journal, which has been composed from the observations of the writer at so late a period as the close of the last year, will be perused with more than ordinary satisfaction; particularly when it is recollected that no accurate information relative to the character, manners, and customs of the modern inhabitants of that important appendage to this favoured empire has lately issued from the press.
HAVING been long desirous of visiting our sister-island, I last summer appropriated to that purpose one of those months in which men of letters usually exchange the study of books for that of nature, and take a short leave of the wisdom of the dead to view the mingled wisdom and follies of the living.
Early in the morning of the 1st of August I left Chester, in the mail, with three very intelligent companions, one of whom was going to the south of Ireland to collect the rents of lord L. We passed through Holywell and St. Asaph, where we resisted an extraordinary charge made for the breakfasts of the coachman and guard: and after crossing the two beautiful ferries of Conway and Bangor, arrived at Holyhead; through the dreary, flat, and uninteresting, county of Anglesea. The scenery of North Wales being so well known, I shall not detain the reader by a description of it.
No sooner had we alighted from the coach, than the steward of a cutter (no king's packet sailing that evening) acquainted us that his vessel, the Marquis of Drogheda, would immediately get under weigh. We had hardly time to take a little refreshment, and lay in our sea-store, when we received a second summons, and soon found ourselves in the very comfortable cabin. I was not long in repairing to my berth, where I slept very soundly for nearly twelve hours: but on going upon deck at nine in the morning, found we had made little way in the night; though one of the seamen, an Irishman, affirmed, that to be sure it was a dead calm; but what little wind there was, was in our favour. The passengers, such as were not sick, amused themselves in catching gurnards; the only fish which can be taken when a vessel is under weigh, all others swimming lower in the water. About noon the Wicklow mountains began to appear; and the nearness of the island of Lambay, ten miles
p.6from Dublin, gave us hopes that our voyage would soon end prosperously. A very fine mackarel being caught on one of the lines, two Irish members, who sat in their carriages, had a regular dinner (as they termed it) with a certain affectation of state, at half past six in the evening.
As the water was too low when we approached the bar, we were obliged to lie at anchor the whole of the second night; but early the next morning a beautiful view of the fine bay presented itself, which banished all our impatience.
The celebrated bay of Dublin is bounded on the left by a rich bank covered with villas and cottages, and crowned by the Wicklow mountains. Sea-point, or the \Black Rock#, three or four miles from Dublin, is a fashionable place of summer retreat, and terminates the view on the Wicklow side. The opposite limit of the bay is formed by a country more level, but equally fertile: finely wooded, and covered with gentlemen's seats; among which the villa of lord Charlemont makes a conspicuous appearance. The land on this side terminates in a point called Houth.
Down the centre of the channel stretches a pier, a mile and a half in length, made for the purpose of deepening the entrance of the river. The hotels, which were built for the accommodation of passengers, close to the Pigeon-house, or extreme point of the pier, where we land, are now converted into barracks: and the boat's company are carried up to Dublin in a crazy long coach; on which is inscribed in large letters, as the first intimation of our arrival in the country of bulls, the land packet. According to lord Chesterfield, however, we had already passed two bulls and a blunder; the two points in the bay being called the north and south bull, and the village of Ring's-end lying to the right.
After undergoing the common impositions of the custom-house, we were conveyed in the land packet to Falconer's hotel, in Dawson-street: having seen nothing in our way to suggest the idea of a different country from that which we had left, except the signs inscribed Murdock, Maclaghlar, and Pat Kelly; and the Irish jaunting cars known by tire names of noddies, gingles, &c.
The common carts consist of a platform extending from the shafts, which hang high on the horses' shoulders, to within a foot of the ground, where they rest above the axis of two little wheels. When the cart is loaded it frequently happens that the weight, overcoming the strength of the horse, lifts or strangles the animal. After a hearty Irish breakfast (at which two eggs are constantly placed before each person as a matter of course), we took a walk to view the principal buildings in the town. The
p.7first object which attracted our notice was Leinster-house, the back of which forms one side of Merrion-square, an immense rectangle, equal in size to Lincoln's-inn Fields. Latouche the banker's corps was exercising in the court. We then viewed St. Stephen's Green, larger than any of the London squares, having a double walk round it, and a statute of George II. in the centre. Walking down Grafton-street, the Cheapside of Dublin, we came to Trinity-college; a magnificent building, but for a seat of study too much in the noise and bustle of the town. The master's house stands apart from the college. Owing to the strict examination necessary to the attainment of a fellowship, there is hardly any medium here between total idleness and intense study; there is no democracy of learning, nor any of that partial application which is observable even among the profligate in other universities, if a man is a student, he is buried from the world; if he is of the world, he never opens a book. Opposite the university, in a street called College-green, stands the parliament-house; an elegant piece of architecture, now about to be converted into a bank. A little above are two public structures: the one a gaming-house (pro pudore!) the other the Commercial buildings, a tavern and coffee-house on an extensive scale, in the latter of which every newspaper is to be met with, and refreshments are furnished exceedingly cheap.
Dame-street is a continuation of College-green. The shops in it are splendid; but the number of political pamphlets in those of the booksellers, afford a melancholy proof of the agitation of the public mind. At the head of this street stands the Royal Exchange, finely colonnaded, and having an elegant dome: behind it is the Castle, a princely dwelling, but entirely modern with the exception of an old tower. The 72d highlanders were at parade in the yard; and we stood for some time fascinated by several pieces of music played in a masterly style by the leader of the band.
Curiosity next led us to view Thomas-street, the celebrated scene of Emmet's rebellion. The unfortunate lord Kilwarden was dragged from the farther end of the street, towards the market-place; and Emmet was executed on the spot where the murder was committed. Thomas-street is within three short Streets of the Castle; and had the mob acted under a leader of energy, or upon any regular plan, the worst consequences might have ensued. The death of lord Kilwarden saved the Castle and the city, for the government were taken napping; and while the mob were disputing who should first go forward, the carriage of the victim to popular fury drove up. Till this moment three of the yeomanry had kept the whole mob at bay; but their ammunition, it is said, was expended. The time occupied by the
p.8murder, gave the rest of the military leisure to assemble. Drums were now heard in every direction; the twilight began to draw on; and the insurgents, distrustful of each other, stole away one by one, and dispersed.
The market-house, at the extremity of Thomas-street, now forms a complete blockade against any future insurrection from that suburra. Each window has a sloping cover, from which soldiers can fire without being annoyed by the mob.
It would be difficult to convey an idea of the vice, filth, and wretchedness, in which the lower orders dwell, and seem to delight, every where in this district; compared with which, St. Giles's is a palace in comfort, and a paradise in morality. Many tons of manure cover the alleys, and seem to threaten a plague; and we saw several children with no other clothing than a remnant of tattered sacking, insufficient to cover their nakedness. The streets are crowded, in the day-time, with the lowest prostitutes, whose appearance betray squalid misery; and who either starve, or by their numbers prove the city to be depraved to an almost incredible extent. The women of only one degree more respectable, walk the streets in black silk cloaks and muslin caps; some with silk stockings and an immense driving coat, but having no hat or bonnet.
In the centre of the same horrid district stands St. Patrick's cathedral, a very ancient and venerable structure. Here are the tomb and monument of an archbishop who died in the year 1418; but the chief attraction among the relics of the dead, is the tomb of Swift, and near it that of his Stella.
Carlisle-bridge leads from College-green across the Liffey to Sackville-street, a most magnificent article of Dublin's pride; being fifty-two yards in width, and extending a considerable way in length. The houses and shops are superb; and the elegant conduits (which adorn every part of Dublin as well as this) add greatly to the beauty of a street not inferior to any in Europe. The noble custom-house lies to the right; along the bank of the black, narrow, and muddy Liffey. The interior of the building is well and regularly constructed, with corresponding domes and staircases. Behind is Beresford-place, an uninhabited crescent of fine houses. Hence we crossed Marlborough-green and passed Tyrone-house, the winter residence of the Marquis of Waterford; and again crossing Sackville street visited the Rotunda, a large dome forming one wing of the lying-in hospital. Here, and in the gardens which form the centre of Rutland-square, are given entertainments on the plan of Vauxhall; the profits arising from which go towards the support of the hospital. This is a shameful, and (I trust) a solitary instance of a charitable institution connecting itself with a scene of
p.9pleasure, a scene of assignation and debauchery. The hospital itself is a noble stone building, forming one side of the square already mentioned. Passing the new temple for the study of the law, which is not quite completed, we came to the Linen-hall, through the Flax-hall, which is adjacent to it. A little below lies the New Gaol, which is, as usual with gaols, surrounded by streets distinguished for filth and infamy. The iron drop is a fixed balcony, having bars below, which when drawn in leave the criminal suspended.
The new Four Courts, at the river side, form a building similar, and not very inferior, to the Custom-House; but the levity with which a law-suit is conducted in the Court of Chancery cannot fail to strike an Englishman, accustomed to the gravity of a judge, and the solemnity of a court of justice on the other side the water. Here judge, counsel, attorneys, client, and strangers, seem to have met together to spend an hour merrily. All speak at once; every little attorney's clerk who chooses to cut a joke, for which his impudence would be reprimanded in an English court, excites laughter, in which the judge joins with familiarity; and, in short, nothing appears to be wanting to the conviviality of the scene, but that the judge should descend to the table below and call for a bottle of wine, Having made good use of a very sultry and oppressive forenoon, we returned to dinner at a tavern adjoining our hotel, and kept by the same people. We had a fine haddock, mutton chops, and the other et ceteras of a dinner; porter, brisk cyder, with one bottle of port and one of claret (there were four of us); at 7s. English per head. A card stands on the chimney-piece of the coffee-room, on which the prices of the different wines were marked Port, 4s. 4d. claret, 7s. 7d. Burgundy and Champagne, each 15.s. currency.
While we sat at dinner, a miserable object came to the window begging. She was a prostitute who had once been handsome, for there was still much beauty in her pale and emaciated countenance. The elegance of her manner of asking alms, proved her to have been in some higher sphere of life; but disease, that dreadful disease which is the punishment of unlawful pleasure, sat upon her countenance, and much disfigured her beauty. She did not seem more than two or three and twenty; but an early old age had seized upon her constitution: and, no longer able to earn her livelihood by prostitution, she was wandering about the streets, a common beggar, in rags and wretchedness. Some traces of an unwilling effort to prevail in her supplications by an affected lustful look, over which misery was predominant, appeared; intimations of the brutal sympathies of those on whose corrupt humanity her future subsistence
p.10was to depend. On the whole, her appearance was so interesting, that we sent her a shilling a piece; thus enabling this poor creature to solace one day of her wretched existence with the comfort also arising from a consciousness of being compassionated. Think of her sad fate, you who possess the treasure of innocence.
The want of cleanliness for which the lower orders of the Irish are in general distinguished, together with the inflammatory state of body created by the quantity of ardent spirits which they swallow, must make those diseases which are the scourge of such crimes, more violent in their symptoms here than in other places. One thousand seven hundred and forty one patients were admitted at the Lock Hospital of Dublin in the course of the last year; and in every street the most shocking spectacles present themselves.
One very useful institution I cannot omit to notice when speaking on this subject; that of houses of refuge for women who have been brought up in the charity-schools, till they shall be provided with a place of service. I do not know that there is any charity of this nature in the large towns of England, though evidently a powerful preventive of seduction and eventual prostitution.
After dinner I again walked round Rutland-square. The music was playing in the Vauxhall in the centre, and it was a fine summer's evening.
The propensity to bull-making seems to arise from a want of thought, or confusion of ideas; for I have frequently remarked that an Irishman, after having made a blunder, has become sensible of it, and corrected himself. I this morning went into a shop to purchase a pair of boots. Having looked at a pair, I asked for some others which would go down in wrinkles on the leg. Wrinkles! said the son of Crispin: do you only try these very boots on, and I'll venture to say you will be able to put as many wrinkles on them as possible: and then recollecting himself, as you plase, I mean.
The first novelty which attracted me next morning, was the Dublin exhibition of paintings, a miserable collection of mere sign-posts. The portraits, however, are said to be striking likenesses. Among these were full-lengths of Lords Hardwicke and Moira, and a half-length of the unfortunate Lord Kilwarden. Of the landscapes none were worth looking at, except a few by La Porte.
The interior of Trinity college will not suffer by a comparison with its external appearance. We examined the curiosities in the museum; among which the most striking are, a model in wood of the Giant's Causeway, and a basaltic pillar brought
p.11from that prodigious work of nature. There are also many curiosities found in bogs in Ireland; as coins, broaches, spear-heads, keys, seals, and bottles which must have existed prior to the time when glass is said to have been invented.
Denou's anatomical preparations in wax, describing various stages of pregnancy and parturition, are very beautiful, and occupied that gentleman forty years. The examination-hall and this chapel are worthy of a seat of learning.
The luxuries of life are in general dear in this country, though the necessaries and comforts of it seem cheap. The day being warm, I went into a fruit-shop to eat a glass of ice: but was disgusted with the obtrusive manners of the man in the shop, which is a fashionable lounge in the town; for no sooner were we sat down, than he came with a bottle and glass, asking us if we chose a glass of noyau. What London confectioner forces any thing upon his customers?
Next day I inspected the house of industry not far from the Phoenix-park. It seems a very ill-regulated institution; and is a horrid scene of filth, profaneness, and obscenity. The only playground for the children is the great court; where these poor little beings mingle with all the thieves, vagabonds, and prostitutes, who choose to take refuge in the asylum: for it is open to all who please to make it their home, however short or long be the time which they may choose to spend in it; and however frequently they may set out upon adventures, and return after want of success. Nor is this the worst; for a cart is continually employed in picking up the vagabonds and beggars from the streets, and collecting them in this sink of iniquity. No work is exacted of the people thus brought; and their sole employment is to wrangle, swear, and corrupt the young. In a word, I must consider the house of industry as a great seminary of prostitutes, thieves, plunderers, and rebels.
The children are distributed among different shops, according to the trade which may suit their inclinations. Here are shops for the taylors, the shoemakers, the weavers, and the combmakers. There seems no want of industry, but the dirt and effluvia are intolerable. The girls sew, knit, and make stockings, under mistresses. The master of the combmakers, an intelligent man, was relating an account of the flight of one of his pupils; whose father had, the week before, tempted him to elope with the contents of the workshop, and to enlist along with him into the army. I think you have reason to thank God for it, said one of the mistresses, stepping up: if I had twenty sons, I should wish to see them all do the same thing; for how could they be better employed than in serving their king and country? and what would the loss of a few combs signify?
p.12Och! and I agree with you perfectly, replied the combmaker: only I wish he had gone off in the early part of his apprenticeship; and not after so much time and trouble have been thrown away upon him, and when he had just begun to be an useful hand to me.
The Bluecoat-hospital is an elegant structure, but there is nothing particularly worthy of notice in its internal regulation.
The Thomas-street School is a good charitable institution, as far as the feeble power of education will civilize the children in that miserable district. As a Sunday school it is highly reprehensible; for it is open to children of all religions, but no religion of any kind is taught in it. The children are taught reading, writing, and accounts, till eleven o'clock in the forenoon of Sunday, and again from four to eight in the evening; but they are taken to no place of public worship, on the presumption that each child goes to that of his own persuasion; a presumption not realized perhaps in a single instance. The chief teachers of the school seem to be quakers.
I dined this day (Saturday, 4th of August), with a friend, an inhabitant of the city. I saw nothing remarkable in the manners of the company, except the noyau being introduced with the cheese, and a custom after dinner of drinking the healths of the ladies with the first glass, and of the gentlemen with the second. The transportation of Sir H. Heyes, for carrying off a rich heiress, became the topic of conversation. Transportation was too little, said one gentleman; he deserved to be hanged. Hanged! said another: he deserves to be gibbeted, a fool! not to carry her out of the country.
Sunday, 5th of August. Attended divine service at the Magdalene, in Leeson-street. The worship here was not conducted decently. Morning service began at noon: and during the reading of the lesson, a door flew open, and the preacher entered; not ashamed of being late, but swaggering through the passages with two legs like the pillars of Hercules. He sat in the reading-desk with the reader; and during the singing of the psalms, they seemed to enter into a very easy and familiar conversation. It gives me pain to mention these instances of the want of decorum; but I trust they will serve as a hint to all ministers, how proper it is to beware of giving strangers unfavorable impressions. In this chapel there is no clerk, the Magdalanes performing the office (which, by the way, has a slight air of indelicacy and forwardness): neither is there any pulpit; and the gentleman whom I have mentioned, preached from the reading-desk a very excellent sermon, or rather moral essay, on the superior zest which religion (in which might he
p.13meant, by the way, deism as well as christianity) gives to the various pursuits and pleasures of man.
After service I walked again through the St. Giles's of Dublin, the Poddle in Meath-street and Thomas-street, to the Foundling-hospital. In these streets there seemed to be nothing which indicated Sunday; not even that difference of apparel with which, in other great towns, even the most depraved distinguish it. For the drunkenness, noise, beating of drums and fifes at the doors of alehouses, and low gambling in the streets, the police is reprehensible; and how is the full growth of rebellion to be wondered at, when it is thus fostered in its infancy?
The Foundling-hospital Orphan-school has put me more in conceit with the Irish than any thing I have hitherto seen. Several hundreds of children look healthy, are well clad, and have their religion and morals admirably taken care of; insomuch that I may say, without a paradox, when I compare this institution with the others I have examined, it is a blessing in Ireland to be an orphan. Some of the children are here for seven years without seeing the outside of the walls; for the gates are guarded like a prison, so that no person whatever can go out without an order from the governor: how very different from the House of Industry! where I forgot to mention that on the evening of Sunday (the day on which the children should principally learn domestic habits, and the day on which the streets are peculiarly pregnant with temptation) the children are all permitted to ramble and follow their own inclinations, from five o'clock till near nine.
The whole of this institution (the Orphan-school) is conducted on a plan from which our best public charities in England would do well to borrow many useful hints. A house-boy (that is, a boy who has been two years in the school) is appointed to sleep with one of the younger children, to be his tutor and companion; to teach him, and to hear him say his prayers; to wash and comb him; for all which he is responsible to the master. The bed-linen, clothes, and books, are all marked; and accounts of them regularly kept in books, of which the accuracy is wonderful, and the exactness to be observed at a single glance.
The principal school-books are four different expositions of the catechisms, each plainer than the latter; and the children are gradually brought forward from the more easy to the more difficult. The senior boys instruct the junior; and the sense, intelligence, and decency, for which they are all observable, is a treat to the philanthropic mind, more precious than the most picturesque scenery, or the voluptuous entertainment of magnificence.
Leaving this delightful palace, I passed on to the Phoenix-park,
p.14over Island-bridge, a Rialto of one arch thrown over the Liffey. Here I witnessed a scene of a very different nature, a catholic funeral: where the wife of the deceased, in a state of intoxication, was throwing herself into attitudes in the form of a cross; for which custom the Irish have a particular name, but it has escaped my memory.
Near the gate of the Phoenix-park, I saw a species of low gambling too common among us. A fellow sat on the pavement folding a garter into many twists, after it had been doubled. The two ends of this he held in his hand: so that whenever any of the populace gave him a halfpenny, an old nail was struck by the payer into the garter; and if it prevented the holder from pulling the garter away by the ends (and in no other case) the former received a penny. How credulous the Irish mob must be not to perceive at once that the chances at the folds are twenty to one against them!
I dined at the coffee-house in Dawson-street, with a young officer who was that evening to sail for Holyhead in a wherry. Having now seen the whole of Dublin; and judging it unsafe, or at least uncomfortable, to go into the interior unaccompanied; I determined to cross the Channel once more, and to remain in Wales till my servant should join me. We had no sooner got on board, at nine in the evening, than we found, to our inexpressible alarm, that it blew a hurricane, and that the sailors were all drunk. Let no man trust himself to any other vessel than a king's packet. The captain, with the true brogue, told us, that he would take a nap before he went to sleep. But no sooner had he come below, than the seamen left the helm, the ship gibed, and every thing in the little cockle-shell fell parallel with the water.
A dreadful cry of a Welsh seaman, resembling Koory yeery yallows lallsugh! which our fears, and ignorance of the language in which he vociferated, interpreted We are all going to the bottom! But the danger of a Holyhead passage when the wind is right aft, is, like sorrow, the more violent the sooner it is over; for before six in the morning we awoke, and found ourselves in Holyhead-bay.
I returned to Bangor in the Shrewsbury coach, where I spent five or six days very pleasantly at a little retired inn where I had leisure for study; and where I met with an unfortunate young man, the son of the widow who kept the house, who having spent four years as a servitor at Oxford, had some plans or other frustrated, by which means he was thrown into an habitual melancholy which the scenery of Bangor, his new mode of life, and the sensibility of an improved mind, was too well calculated to foster. I sometimes chatted with him an hour in an evening: but as I did not wish to appear inquisitive, I could not gain sufficiently
p.15on his confidence to learn the history of his misfortunes; which might indeed only have gratified impertinent curiosity, since it seemed not to be in the power of man to alleviate the grief they had occasioned, otherwise than by condolence and, poor fellow! he has mine most sincerely.
Here I also met with a young Irish officer, high in blood and spirit, who told me one evening that all the company at his house had gone to dinner at the palace, the day being public; but that for his part, he would see the Bishop of Bangor before he would go to dine with him without an invitation.
One evening during my stay at Bangor, I strolled into the cathedral, to hear the funeral service read; and was much surprised to find a deviation from the rubric so near to a bishop who is so laudable and well-known an advocate for strict adherence to it. The funeral service is here incorporated into the evening service; the psalms being read instead ot the psalms for the day, and the funeral chapter in the place of the second lesson. The clergyman next goes to the altar, and offers up or reads a prayer; after which the men first, and then the women, come up to the altar one by one, and deposit their offerings. These voluntary contributions, which add so much to the value of the Welsh livings, were formerly proportioned to the esteem in which the deceased had been held in the parish: they are now great or small, according to the popularity of the minister, and must be useful in serving as a stimulus to the conscientious discharge of his duties; though on this footing, as manufactures and sectaries increase in Wales, the profits arising from these free gifts of a still simple, honest, and generous people, will be diminished.
In passing through Anglesea to Holyhead on Saturday, a picturesque sight presented itself in a fête champêtre where about two hundred of the common people were dining under tents, in honour of a newly married couple, (who in imitation of the penny weddings of Scotland) adopt this method of attaining a small capital to set out in life with. Each guest pays two shillings and sixpence for his entertainment, and the evening usually concludes in drunkenness; fighting, and seduction.
Sunday, 12th of August. I attended service at the parish-church of Holyhead this morning, where I heard the prayers and sermon read in Welsh. In some part of the service, the clergyman read from a paper The alms of this congregation are requested by Mary Davies; on which a contribution was made for a woman who receives, as I was given to understand, parochial relief to a small amount. The people in this little village are impoverished by the preachers of no less than three different sects; Baptists, Methodists, and Wesleyans, as the last call themselves.
I dined in company with an Irishman, who related his having embarked the night before at Dublin in a state of intoxication. I thought, said he, I might, as well get sea-sick before I came on board, as I was sure of being so the whole night at any rate.
After a tedious passage, with the wind in our teeth, we reached Dublin (my servant having joined me) very early on Tuesday morning; and without going to bed, I breakfasted and dressed at the inn from which the Drogheda coach sets out. This conveyance carried me through woods where there are a round tower, and a palace of the Archbishop of Dublin, now in ruins: and through Balbriggen; where two beggars, each of them seventy years of age, absolutely fought with their fists and crutches, and imprecating on each other the most dreadful curses, for the privilege of standing at the door of the coach. To Drogheda, twenty-four miles from Dublin. Here I rested for the day.
I must not omit the answer made me by the waiter at the coach inn, in Bolton-street, when I asked her what I had to pay for breakfast: Two hogs and a half; and again on my staring in her face, Two hogs and a tester; meaning in each case half-a-crown.
After ordering dinner, I walked two miles up the bank of the Boyne; and viewed the pillar which records the memorable battle by which the liberties of England have been secured, and (what is still of greater consequence) precisely defined.
In Drogheda there are nine Catholic chapels, two friaries, a nunnery, and one church. The town is large and handsome. Having sauntered into the streets after dinner, I followed the funeral of a Catholic child to the burying-ground, a little way out of the town; and I am most thankful that in my own country, though I have seen many funeral processions where the company were of the most profligate of the people, and at the time intoxicated to a man, I never witnessed any thing resembling the indecorum and savage riot with which this infant was carried by its friends to the house appointed, one would think, to give all the living at least a moment's seriousness.
The attendants exhibited the most boisterous mirth; and even the women were scouring the streets like bacchanals, offering the most shocking liberties indiscriminately to all sexes, ages, and conditions. Three women, more decent than the others, requested me to find out for them the tomb of Johnny Gomond, they themselves being unable to read. After beating down many nettles, to their great joy I lighted upon the sarcophagus; when they all knelt down in a devout line, counted their beads, and muttered their Ave Marias: and no sooner were they risen from the pious work, than they poured out a shower of ejaculations; for blessing and long life to my honour, and immediately joined
p.17and were lost in the troop of Bacchanals. Next morning the whole town was in a perpetual motion and crowd, by means of the multitudes who were passing and pressing from one of the nine chapels into another, for the purpose of celebrating the festival of the Assumption, 15th August. Ireland is said to contain no venomous reptiles: if this be true, the defect is most abundantly supplied by its affluence in reptiles that are not venomous; for if each of these chapels held a thousand people this morning at matins, on a moderate computation it may be said to have really held ninety thousand living creatures.
The coach at last arrived from Dublin; and as it contained an attorney and his clerk, who were going to the assizes at Dundalk, I took their two places, the clerk having travelled on the outside. The attorney complaining at breakfast of wind in his stomach, was exceedingly prompt to follow the prescription of a lady who seemed to have practised as she preached a quantity of brandy and ginger: and the medicine seemed far from being unpalatable, at least if one might judge by the dose.
We travelled over a dull uninteresting country without trees (except at Coolon, the beautiful seat of the late Irish Speaker, Mr. Foster), without hedge-rows, and where there seems no farmer possessed of capital sufficient to maintain a team: indeed there is no such thing in this country.
The stage-coaches are dirty beyond measure. Our company consisted of an upper servant, giving herself all the airs of a fine lady; a young man in bad health; and one of the proprietors of the coach, an ingenuous good-humoured youth about twenty years of age. This being Assumption-day, the shops were shut in every town; and in the streets it looked like Sunday, as observed in the more remote and decent parts of England or Scotland. We passed a man trudging in the midst of the rain to vespers at a chapel five miles from his home, betwixt whom and the young coach-proprietor the following curious conversation took place: Where are you going, my boy? I am going to prayers. How far off is the chapel? Five miles. Was you there this morning? No; that's the reason I am going now. What was you doing in the morning that kept you at home? Nothing. And have you got your dinner: To be sure I have. I wish I lived in this country where a man can get his dinner and do nothing for it? And what's the reason there are prayers this afternoon? I can't tell. Are you going to prayers without knowing why: I am going because the priest gave it out. And why did you not ask the priest the reason? Why, I saw him at the church door, and I wanted to speak to him, but he would not speak to me. Did you give the priest any thing? No. What should I give him
p.18any thing for? Hah, my boy, that's the reason he would not speak to you: but here comes the other coach, and as it is a very bad evening, take my advice and make friends with the driver, he'll carry you back to your own house again.
Upon which this good-tempered, credulous, superstitious, poor creature actually turned about, mounted the coach, and drove back the way home.
Passed through a land of misery, where I would not have given sixpence for the whole apparel of any man, woman, or child whom we saw all along the road. Betwixt Dublin and Londonderry many ragged suspicious-looking fellows are prowling in the lanes; and dozens of sturdy, lazy peasants are collected in one cabin, at a smoking-party, in the middle of the day.
The common-place accounts of the want of chimneys, the pigs in the cottages, and the holes in the wall for windows, are all true; but I saw no instance of burning instead of thrashing, or of fastening the plough to the tail of the cattle, and I am inclined to think that these customs are abolished.
The day was dismal, the rain poured in torrents, and my servant on the box got a dreadful ducking, and must have been very cold as the night advanced. I could have said, like Lear My poor knave, cold as I am at heart, there is one place there that's sorry yet for thee.
The Irish stage-coaches are a most uneasy and unsafe mode of conveyance. The roads are very unequal; and these vehicles move up hill with the tedious pace of a financial procession, and fly down like a hawk pouncing on its prey.
I shall take occasion in this place to make some desultory remarks on the present state of Ireland in a moral and political point of view.
As in religion, where every one hath a doctrine, he will perhaps arrive at the most just conclusions who preserves the balance of his mind in the midst of so many contending opinions, and wisely selects what is best from each; so when we examine the present miserable condition of our sister island, instead of assenting to the ideas of those who ascribe the evil to any one cause, and seek for redress in any one remedy, we should collect the various measures, allow them all their due weight, and conclude that no one will be effectual which has not respect to each particular ground of complaint.
One man will tell you that Ireland can never be tranquillized until all the Catholics shall have been emancipated. Another says, with much seeming justice, that Catholic civil emancipation is nothing, and would affect the interests of only very few. Since the only restraints by which the Catholics are at present bound, are, the inability to hold commissions in the army, to sit in parliament,
p.19and to be judges in the courts. We want Catholic emancipation, he will add; but it is emancipation from the power of the priests.
After having listened with great patience and attention to the sentiments of many Irish gentlemen concerning the measures which they respectively think likely to prove beneficial if adopted, I have brought my mind to the conclusion, that the tranquillity and civilization of Ireland can only be derived from the following remedies: 1st. Place a Catholic country in some measure under a Catholic government, that is, make some of the high offices in the state open to the people of that persuasion. 2d. Establish parochial assessments, by which vagrancy will be restrained, and a more regular account and more accurate knowledge of the lower orders preserved. 3d. Increase the duties on whiskey to a very high degree; establish a severe inquisition in regard to private stills; and give a bounty on the exportation of corn, particularly to England. 4th. Promote the linen manufacture by every means which wisdom and benevolence can devise. 5th. Send one of the royal family over as lord-lieutenant: he will confirm the loyalty of the people, and render Dublin fashionable as a winter residence to crowds of the higher orders, who now dissipate their capitals in London. It was thought by some speculative persons that the union would be of service by taking only a small proportion of the former parliament to the seat of government, and thus allowing the remainder to reside during the winter on their country seats. It is not however the Irish members alone who cross the Channel to spend their winters in the metropolis. The higher ranks in general follow the parliament; it is fashionable to go where the principal people of the country are to be found: and a gentleman, though not in parliament, carries his daughters whither the sons families of distinction principally resort. Thus the money is carried out of the country, instead of returning in showers to fertilize domestic industry, the peasantry are left at the mercy of the middle-men, and every example of benevolence and civilization is taken away from them. 6th. Let the country-gentlemen reside on their estates; and let such of them as will have a town residence in winter, prefer the Irish to the British metropolis: this would be a consequence of the former measure. 7th. Let the duty on tea be taken off, that the peasantry, having that beverage at the lowest possible rate, may be gradually weaned from ardent spirits. 8th. For similar reasons, let legislators beware of laying any duty on malt-liquors. Porter is now drunk to a great extent among the Irish peasantry. 9th. Let industry be encouraged by premiums; not only such as are offered by the public, but by others offered by agricultural societies, and by charitable men of property
p.20resident on their own estates. 10th. Encourage the establishment of friendly societies conducted without alehouse meetings. 11th. Also of Sunday schools for the children of the established church, where rewards are held forth to decent behaviour. 12th. Let the Catholic clergy be placed on an establishment, and paid by government.1 13th. At the same time the clergy of the established church ought to redouble their zeal, visit their parishes, render themselves popular, discharge their duties conscientiously, be watchful over the common seminaries of instruction for the lower orders, and perform service twice every Sunday. 14th. Let schools of industry be established, and premiums offered for regularity, cleanliness, &c. 15th. The higher orders ought to treat their inferiors with more civility than, I am sorry to say, they appear to do. At present the two classes are jealous of each other. The rich are smarting under the remembrance of rebellion; and, regarding every inferior as a rebel, treat him with haughtiness and asperity. This exasperates the lower classes, and pre-disposes them for future insurrection. An Irishman will often spend his money liberally in a coffee-house, and pay the waiter handsomely for the privilege of abusing him, and of finding a quarrel about the overcharge of some trifling article. Never, was the advice of an Irish gentleman, never use a low Irishman kindly. If you do, he'll think you're afraid of him, and cut your throat. If this be true, it is only because he is unaccustomed to any other than violent treatment from his superiors. 16th. I almost forgot to mention the necessity of a total suppression of the petty banks; the introduction of some species of coin, which shall prevent the frauds which at present prevail, and which must be highly detrimental to national morals.
Monaghan, Augher, Omagh, and Strabane are dismal towns, remarkable for nothing except the multitudes of signs inscribed Licensed to sell Strong Water, meaning whiskey. The inns on the road are bad, dirty, and dear. The coachman assigned a singular paradox as the reason why the roads were bad because they had been mended lately. The names of Buchanan, Campbell, Hamilton, indicated vicinity to Scotland. Londonderry is a beautiful town, standing on an eminence above Loch Foyle, with fortifications that remain entire. Derry bridge,
p.21over the lough, is a stupendous work, being one-fourth of a mile in length, and broad enough to allow six waggons to go abreast. It is supported by immense stakes driven into the lake, and platforms constructed thereon. The very great multitude of troops crowded into every town which we have passed, gives a traveller a mingled sensation of pity and security: pity, at beholding a fine country so deplorably situated as to render military severity necessary; and security, in considering that if a French army should land in any point of Ireland, twenty thousand men could be collected in twenty-four hours.
Friday, 17th August. From Derry to Coleraine the natives appear more civilized, having shoes and stockings, and chimnies to their houses. The linen manufacture is more briskly carried on. The religion of the people is Protestant; and in their decency and in their language strong symptoms of connection with Scotland appear. We travelled in one of the Irish cars, and breakfasted at Newtown-Limavady, one of the neatest and cleanest country-towns in the United Kingdoms. Our driver is a furious presbyterian of the Calvinistic sort a covenanter. Though aspiring to uncommon sanctity, he passed no liquor-house on the road (and there were multitudes) without drinking a neggin (two bumpers) of raw whiskey; and was so much intoxicated at breakfast-time, that we were obliged to wait until he had slept off his debauch. He called himself a covenanter; and certainly his lips had entered; into a covenant with the spirit bottle. He said he had seceded from the Seceders, because they considered Christ to be the head only of their own particular sect; whereas, in his opinion, our Lord was head of the church from the top of heaven to the bottom of hell. Religion was his favourite theme; and he did not offend, at least by his impiety or obscenity, in his cups. He pressed me very hard to stop all the night in his house (I have no doubt with an intention to rob and murder me, as he had discovered from my servant that I was a member of the established church). He also said he would carry me in the evening to a religious society, who met at a chapel once a week for the purpose of devout communication. He not unfrequently, too, offered me the grossest flattery, calling himself one of the lowest of the people, and me a gentleman of the first magnitude; yet not without insinuating with great pride, that he had five horses, three men-servants, and a clock. Such and so strange a mixture is man!
The road from Newtown-Limavady to Coleraine lies through dreary and inhospitable mountains, in the most desolate part of which the covenanter pointed out a place called Murder-hole, where the wild Irish used formerly to deposit the bodies of those whom they had robbed and murdered in the mountains. I would
p.22not have trusted myself in this place with my covenanter at night had he made me a thousand protestations of fidelity.
Coleraine is a handsome town, through which we passed on to Bushmills, two Irish miles from the Giant's Causeway. Here we remained all night in a miserable inn, where I considered myself as in no small danger, as the people were moving about the whole of the night, and made frequent attempts to come into my room, as they pretended, for linen for some company who had arrived after they had gone to bed.
Very early, on a dismal morning, Saturday, August 18th, the rain pouring in torrents, we set out with a guide to view the Giant's Causeway. The first place to which we were conducted was a cave, at the mouth of which the sea broke tremendously. It' is a sublime cathedral, built by the God of nature himself, and where the elements worship him. We next visited the Three Causeways, one of which is a plain surface of hexagonal stones, more nicely shaped and adapted to each other than the feeble hand of art could effect; and over this we walked as on the level of the sea. In the second, the basaltic columns, rising in different shapes, gave occasion to the guides (of whom another now joined us) to point out the giant's chair, his loom, his well, and his organ; but Pleskin, the last causeway, is the most striking, being that of which drawings are generally taken, and of which there is a model in the museum of Trinity College, Dublin. Here the columns are more numerous and regular, appearing like many rows of elegant pillars rising in clusters over each other: but my curiosity was gratified; and the heaviness of the morning, the call of hunger, and the prospect of the great distance I had yet to travel, prevented me from lingering on the spot. I accordingly returned to the inn; and, after breakfasting and paying an immoderate charge to the guide, set off to walk back to Newtown-Limavady.
This guide was either an United Irishman, or, suspecting me to be one, an artful spy. I asked him whether there were any rebels in that part of the country; to which he replied, If there are, they keep quiet; but in the rebellion two companies went from Bushmills to join the rebel army at Ballynahinch, and fought like men. Captain M'Neven, their leader, had a purse of guineas as long as my arm, and intrusted one to each private, lest he should himself be killed or taken. To avoid being apprehended, he was at last carried through Coleraine in an empty barrel, and is now in America.
The guide also had a budget of stories relating to the bloody contests betwixt the owners of a neighbouring castle, and the chieftains from the opposite shore of Scotland.
Nothing remarkable happened on the road until we had passed Coleraine about two miles, and were about to ascend the mountain, when a woman, standing at the head of a lane, told us that a farmer the week before was robbed of seventeen guineas and a watch upon the mountains. Although I had not quite so much to lose, this intelligence quickened my pace: and although we met with very few people upon the dreary hills, we, to my great joy, got clear of them long before the close of day; and at a little after six o'clock in the evening found ourselves once more in Newtown-Limavady.
I here met with an adventure which, though unpleasant at the time, will diversify my journal with a curious incident. While I was at dinner in the parlour, my servant, as I afterwards understood, having gone into the kitchen, found a Serjeant of the regiment. This man my servant found at dinner; and permission being granted to mess with him, they sat down together. Entering into conversation after dinner, my servant, whom I had ordered to conceal nothing, told him my name and object, and the capacity in which he attended me. But the Serjeant found it convenient to doubt the narration, and immediately set off to the brigade-major, whom he acquainted that there were two Frenchmen come to the inn, personating an English gentleman and his servant; that they had plans and maps of the country; were going to look at the fortifications of Lough Swilly; with a variety of similar information. The consequence was, that after I had got safely into bed, the door of the room was thrown open, and the major, preceded by the waiter, and followed by a long train of the rabble of the town, whom, with very little delicacy or decorum, he permitted to attend him, entered in uniform, and, after a pompous preamble, demanded my pass. On my informing him that I did not understand a pass to be necessary in travelling through the interior of the country, I was told that it would be necessary for me to remain in the place until I should receive a letter from some friend in Dublin, which should satisfy him in regard to my motives for travelling. Upon this I offered to shew him all my papers, which he said he would look over in the morning. He had not retired half an hour when he returned, demanding the surrender of my papers at that time. I accordingly gave him up my pocket-book and writing-case, when he examined minutely every scrap of paper which he found, asking me several questions, which gave me no very favourable impression of his politeness towards a stranger who might possibly prove a gentleman and a loyal man. After satisfying himself, and finding nothing to strengthen, but every thing to banish his suspicions, it would at least, I think, have been proper
p.24that he should have made some concession, but not too proud to do any thing that might lessen his authority with the rabble he had introduced, he bade, rather than invited, me to breakfast with him in the morning, ordering a soldier to shew me the way; and all this in such a tone as left me to conclude that I was still under an honourable arrest, insomuch that in the morning I rose early and wrote several letters, requesting immediate explanations of my motives from respectable friends.
The soldier came, but went away without me in the morning; so that after waiting till ten o'clock I set out with a young man from the inn, who shewed me the way to the house of my friend. There was now no mob to gaze and gape upon his little brief authority, and he was all civility and politeness. I pardon, I praise the vigilance with which he did his duty; but shall never forget the manner of executing it, nor the gaping vulgar whom he brought along with him.
As soon as my servant returned from church (for this adventure had prevented my own devotion), we walked back to Londonderry in a very fine evening. Early the next morning I set out for Dublin, where I arrived on Tuesday evening, having met with nothing particularly worth mentioning on the road.
Wednesday, August 22th. I went to inspect the Dublin Society's museum, where the fossils, minerals, insects, birds, woods, &c. are finely arranged in separate apartments, and all in a state off high preservation. The busts and models stand in galleries leading from one room to another. The ores, fossils, and other curiosities found in different counties of Ireland, are distributed according to their respective districts. Amongst the general curiosities are, a beautiful piece of writing performed by a person without hands, a very small copy in writing of the Lord's prayer, a brass arrow found in an Irish bog, with other things of a similar nature; fine specimens of corals; various marbles fancifully tessellated.
Amongst the models, which I had little time for inspecting, there is one of a machine for drawing water above its level, worthy of attention.
This evening set off in the Cork mail, in which I had taken a place to Fermoy, not however without having taken the precaution of getting a pass for the interior, and, to have trouble afterwards, for leaving the island; which, by the way, the worthy gentleman made out, Let and servant pass from Dublin to Holyhead, through Cork.
The mail is attended for two stages out of Dublin by two dragoons, who ride on each side with pistols, exclusively
p.25of the two guards who carry two blunderbusses and four pair of horse-pistols.
We passed through Aar; Carlow, the seat of rebellion; Leighlin-bridge, a nest of rebels; and Kilkenny, a beautiful town, where the inn is clean, the breakfasts comfortable, the streets handsome, and every thing more resembling an English town than any I have seen, exclusive however of the nineteen beggars whom we counted at the coach door. We dined at Clonmell, the birth-place of Sterne; where the fare is excellent but dear. The peasantry wear broad straw hats, like the figures of Dutch women, and not tied under the chin. The mail-coaches do not keep the same regular pace which distinguishes them in England. The distances between the stages are greater; and they are only timed at the stages, not at any intermediate places; so that they sometimes linger twenty minutes or half an hour at the door of some whiskey house, and afterwards make up the lost time by the most impetuous and dangerous driving. Hence the tear and wear of the carriage must be great; and as there seems to be no examination of the coaches before they set out (as is always held over the English coaches), something is always going wrong, and thus occasions a new cause of alternate delay and fury. The coachmen and guards seem much better friends too than in the English mail-coaches; and as long as there are two glasses of whiskey on the road, an English traveller will never hear (what he so often hears in his own country) the voice of a guard in the execution of his duty. Add to this, that the business of the post-office seems to be very ill managed. In England, except to change horses, the mail-coach never stops; and where bags are to be deposited in any village, the guard, on entering it, blows his horn; the sound of which brings out the postman with the bags which are to be forwarded ready made up: the one bag is dropt and the other taken up, while the coach drives on with its usual speed. In Ireland, on the other hand, the coach has frequently to wait a quarter of an hour or more, at petty villages, until the letters are assorted and stamped. Surely, as commerce advances these things will be better ordered.
One of the guards being taken ill, the other ascribed his indisposition entirely to an abstinence from spirits; which, he said, were the only article of diet capable of enabling a man to lead the life of a guard. He was very lavish in his praise of this beverage, saying, that he had once given it up for three months upon trial, at the end of which time he had become so thin, that another week of the same forbearance would have laid him in the grave. He recounted many instances of longevity, attended with a habit of drinking spirits and hence argued more to his own satisfaction than mine, that the one was a consequence of the
p.26other. On being asked how much whiskey he had ever drunk in one day, he assured me he had once gone the length of thirty-six glasses.
This fellow was impudent and unprincipled enough to avow his determination to resign his situation as guard, the very moment when the rebellion should break out; which he considered as likely to take place after the getting in of the harvest. They are kept asunder, said he, by the bayonet, and cannot associate in clubs; but I am bloodily mistaken if they don't settle it all, now that they have got together in the harvest. This observation may serve as a hint to those in power; and explains the insurrection which was threatened in the October following, from Carlow and Leighlin-bridge.
Fermoy is a newly-built elegant town, consisting of four streets crossing each other at right angles, and the work of Mr. Anderson, a Scotch gentleman, now possessed of immense property and proprietor of the mail-coaches. Every thing in the inn is dear, even to the grossest imposition. A small tart was charged one shilling and sevenpence halfpenny, such a one as is sold in the shops in London for one penny. The accommodations also are very bad; and here my servant caught that complaint, which, if it belongs exclusively to Scotland, Mr. Anderson must have brought along with him!
Friday, 24th Aug. We enjoyed a delightful walk to Mallow, through Castle-Town Roche, a romantic village, hanging on the bank of the Black-water. Besides a finely varied scene of rock, and wood and water, the old towers, the church, and a modern building in imitation of a Chinese temple, placed on different eminences, and standing above the town, give Castle-Town Roche the appearance of enchantment.
From Mallow to Mill-street I took a post-chaise; but like all other travellers in a post-chaise, might as well have been at home, as I can give no account of the prospects, or of the manners of the people. The little vile inn of Mill-street was full of the company resorting to Killarney; so that I fared very uncomfortably: but early next morning set off in a chaise, and arrived at Killarney to breakfast.
I immediately made inquiries about a boat, but found the charges likely to be unsuitable to my purse, and the time to be occupied in sailing on the lake incompatible with my plans and my impatience. In short, I perceived in the men every disposition to impose; and accordingly set out immediately after breakfast, to walk to some eminence where I might survey the beauties of the lake at a single glance; and without expence sail in fancy over the lake, soar with the eagle among the rocks, or pursue the echoes to their most distant caves.
Passing Mucrass Abbey, I found at the foot of Turk mountain a bare-footed guide, who led me over stones with the sharpest points which cut me to the quick through the soles of my shoes, but to which his unprotected feet had long become callous; and through briars and brambles to which he was equally indifferent, although they stung me through a triple fold of gaiters, pantaloons, and stockings. This man's ancestors have lived upon the spot, and laboured for Lord Kenmare or Mr. Herbert's family, for three hundred years. We beguiled the way by pulling nuts and whinberries. After climbing the almost perpendicular sides of Turk, covered with wood, and pursuing the course of a little stream that dropt from rock to rock, concealed among shrubs, and brushing our way through trackless steeps rind obstructing underwood, we at length turned the shoulder of the mountain, and arrived at an eminence opposite to Eagle Crag, from which we could take in, at a coup d'oeil, the three lakes with their adjacent scenery. But can my pen do justice to the beauties of this scene? Faint must be every attempt to describe it. In variety of character Killarney surpasses all the English lakes, and possesses beauties peculiar to itself. The lower lake is a large bason nearly circular, surrounded on one side by high mountains, and having the rest of the banks finely adorned with the town of Killarney, the seat of Lord Kenmare, Ross Castle stretching into the lake, Mucrass Abbey, and Mucrass Villa.
This lake, as well as the upper one, is spotted with an archipelago of islands, richly covered with the arbutus-tree. This lower lake contracts itself to a narrow inlet, spanned by a little bridge of one arch, barely sufficient to permit the boats to pass under to the other sheets of water. One arm of the arch rests on the extreme point of the peninsula of Mucrass, which is only a few yards in breadth, and stretches out betwixt the lower and Mucrass lakes; forming the pleasure-ground of Mr. Herbert's seat, which is delightfully situated at the neck of this land, with two little fields opening in front, and disclosing the house embosomed in trees. The end of the lower lake shelves away into a cultivated plain, yellow with the harvest, or variegated with young firs; and behind the lower Killarney are several romantic white houses in the cottage style. Mucrass lake is of an oval form, retiring like a large excrescence of water from the line of the other lakes; and perpetually wearing a gloomy and solemn appearance, from the dark, sullen shadow of Turk, which frowns upon it. Turk is covered half way up with firs; beyond is Mangerton, the highest mountain of Ireland, barren, craggy, and cloud-capt. The serpentine winding of the water, of a narrow rivulet which connects these lakes with the upper one, is another
p.28beauty peculiar to Killarney. This rivulet traverses the valley or dell which is contained between the almost meeting cross of Eagle's Nest and Turk, on which we stood. Behind the rock called Eagle's Nest, the seat of the celebrated echo, are the sublime mountains known by the name of Macgellicuddy's Cross, which stretch their necks to look into the upper lake. Fortune favoured us; for while we stood on the point, a boat sailed from the confluence of the lower and Mucrass lake, along the base of Turk mountain. The people were too minute to be discerned at such a distance; but the boat moving majestically along, like a stately swan, and leaving behind it a track in the calm sheet of water, added greatly to the charms of this favourite spot of nature. At intervals, the mellow sound of horns proceeding from the boat, swelled on our ears and harmonized with the scenery. A-little smoke now tinged the air, a prelude, to the report of a pistol which reached our ears in the space of a quarter of a minute. Instantly all the echoes were roused from their dens; they roared to each other in tremendous anger, loudly complaining that their deep silence should be disturbed, and their horrid recesses explored, by the petulance of mortal beings. The murmurs were discontinued and began again; at length they became fainter and fainter, and died away at a great distance.
The blue cloud of smoke floated for a length of time on the water, and then gradually dissolved and vanished. In the meantime the boat continued to move solemnly along, till it came nearly under us; we saw the silvery-edged oars dipping in the water, and keeping time to the soft sounds of the music, which again and again swelled on the ear and ravished the senses with their melody. Far to the left of us we saw the upper lake, covered with little islands, but of a character rough, horrid, and sublime. Two boats that were exploring its furthest corners, seemed to us like hardly distinguishable specks. If we except the peculiarity of little islands, this lake bears some resemblance to those of Cromack and Buttermere.
I was now at the farthest extent of my tour, and if at each remove I had dragged a lengthening, although a pleasing chain, no wonder that I leaped down the sides of the mountains with a speed that outstripped and surprised the guide. Every step was now shortening my chain, and bringing me nearer home.
On reaching Flesk-bridge, I saw from it with a delay that was heedless of the calls of hunger, for it was now evening, a glorious, golden setting sun. His beams empurpled and gave a body to the thick mists which hung on the high mountain sides, and gave them an uncommonly solemn appearance; while, at a greater distance, where there were more light and openness, the effect of the, last rays of the sun upon the mist, resembled the
p.29dim smoke of a volcano or vast furnace. Weary as I was, as well as hungry, I climbed a little eminence nearer the town, which communicated with the road by a red gate, and saw the fine effect of the parting beams on the heavens, and on the whole bason of the lower lake.
As I entered the town, the band of the 17th regiment were playing several delightful Scotch and other airs, on the lawn before Lord Kenmare's house, which, by the way, is a heavy building not worth looking at. The new inn, Murphy's, at Killarney, is not dear, but dirty and uncomfortable: here, as in most of the other inns in Ireland, there are no bells; and the only bar to the street door, as we found in the morning, was an old pair of tongs.
Next morning, Sunday, we set out on foot for Mill-street, before six o'clock; intending to reach that place in time for church at twelve. But the day being sultry, and the distance greater than we believed, sixteen Irish or twenty-one English miles, frequent restings became necessary; and it was full eight hours before we arrived at the end of our walk: alas! too late for church, of which the service seemed to have been hurried over with its usual rapidity. On the road we met multitudes of Catholics going to matins, neatly dressed, having their beads and crucifixes suspended at their sides. Can these decent people be the sanguinary rebels who delight in massacre, and seek to turn things upside down? With respect to the establishment, or any other denomination of religion, there seems to prevail a melancholy lukewarmness. There is no church on the road or near it, all the way from Killarney to Mill-street. Neither is any difference apparent, except amongst the Catholics, betwixt Saturday and Sunday; some being employed in burning lime, some cutting turf, some thatching their houses, others sewing or knitting at their doors, and all whistling or singing.
At an inn, about half way betwixt the two towns, I got a crust of bread and a jug of goat's milk, which was taken from the animal at the parlour door. At a little distance from the road, I saw children running about in a state of perfect nakedness.
At Mill-street I had a cheap and delicious breakfast, but was again cheated by the waiter. The street of this village resembled a fair or market, as the Catholic Sunday was over, and the people were assembled in companies, chatting together, decently drest, and behaving with great decorum. The women were drest in neat muslin caps, and cloaks made of cloth: the dress of both men and women was decent; and their general behaviour and relaxation grave, and suited to the day.
The priest, a respectable looking man, who resembled a foreigner,
p.30was going from house to house, and chatting with the people, by whom he seemed to be respected and beloved. Some of the shops were open, and an Irish catechism appeared in the window of one of them. These people are either belied as to their atrocity of character, or they must be the deepest of deceivers.
No chaise was to be had, and, as there was to be an inspection of cavalry next day, it was impossible to obtain riding horses. I accordingly engaged a car, which cost me ten shillings and sixpence, and two shillings and eight-pence for the keep of the horse. There being no church service in the afternoon, and the inn being full of merry company, I was once more compelled to violate the evening of the Sabbath, especially as I was anxious to be with my own flock on the next. We drove on to Mallow, as quick as a post-chaise could carry us, that is to say, at the rate of three and a half Irish miles an hour; the fellow running all the way by the side of his cart with prodigious speed and indefatigableness, and never once stopping on the road, except at the whiskey houses, which it is part of an Irishman's principles not to pass. Under a hill, five miles from Mill-street, was a picturesque group of about one hundred and fifty peasants, who were playing at a game called HURL, which consists in striking a ball high in the air with wooden clubs like flattened spoons. Others were rolling a large stone; a bagpiper was enlivening the scene with his music; and the women, who were spectators, were dealing out porter to the parties. No rudeness of any kind seemed to be going forward.
The sun set on the distant mountains. The darkness advanced, and we had still a great way to go. Serious alarms began to take possession of my mind, as I had been particularly warned never to travel in the dark. The moon rose in great majesty, but our road lay through several dark avenues of trees, which her beams were unable to penetrate. In one of these, a fellow made an attempt to push our driver under the car. I began to be distrustful of the driver himself,, and my state of mind was by no means enviable. At length we reached the environs of Mallow, where we met a cart full of drunken men and women, one of whom made a blow with his shillelagh at our car, but happily missed his aim. We arrived at our inn at ten o'clock; and the landlord dissuaded me from taking a chaise to Fermoy to meet the Cork mail. I remained in Mallow all night, and next morning found the driver gone with the change of the note with which I had entrusted him.
Next morning, soon after breakfast, I set out on my last pedestrian excursion to Cork, and met upon the road with two fellow-travellers, in whose company I found considerable pleasure.
p.31One of them seemed to be an ensign or lieutenant in disguise, although he would not own it; he was a modest sensible young man; the other, one of the finest and most manly boys, I ever saw, the son of a gentleman of large property on the lake of Killarney. This generous boy was going to visit an uncle in Cork, to which city he was an entire stranger. His remarks were sensible, manly, and set off by a sprightly simplicity. We met a dragoon gallopping at full speed, and fully accoutred, on the road. Immediately it was reported, from cottage to cottage, that the French had landed at Cork. Well, and if they have, said the boy, I am glad we are going there; for then we shall see the fun of driving them away again.
A little school in a smoky cabin attracted our notice on the side of the road, and we entered into this scene of filth and misery. The principal books were Catholic catechisms. Och, said my young companion, I think the master needs a little teaching himself.
After a pleasing journey, beguiled by much innocent conversation, I parted with my companions in the middle of Cork. Inexplicable are the sympathies of man! I have been on terms, of what the world calls friendship, with characters whose worth I have esteemed, and whose intelligence I have appreciated, for years; and have parted from them after all with less reluctance than I resigned this acquaintance of a day. Adieu, interesting young friend! I shall never see thee more. Mayst thou remain as innocent in thy journey through life, as thou now art in the outset of it; and may all thy days flow on as happily as thou hast caused this one to gild a life, in which a happy day not frequently occurs.
The labourers on the roads, as we came along, asked us for the price of the tobacco; and on my climbing over a newly finished bridge, at the nine-mile stone, one man called after me, Well, if you wont leave the price of the tobacco, you can say you were the first traveller that passed over the bridge.
Cork is a beautiful town, which we entered over a handsome new bridge. I dined at the Bush Tavern, where the waiters are civil, and the fare cheap. A gentleman in a neighbouring box entertained me by calling for a bottle of draught porter. After dinner I strolled through the town, and saw the grand parade, a noble street; the cove, with gentlemen's seats hanging on its banks, and the general appearance of a town, which excited my greatest admiration. In the evening I got into the Dublin mail, which went rapidly along without any particular adventure until we came to breakfast at Killkenny; when, on my asking the waiter to give me change for a guinea and a half note, an elderly gentleman, one of the passengers, kindly offered to accommodate me with cash, and taking up the note gave me a guinea in return,
p.32along with a few shillings. He said it would save me the trouble of burthening myself with the provincial small notes, and that he would settle the difference as we went along. We travelled, however, first to one stage then to another, and no mention of the difference; at length, next morning, as we came within a mile of Dublin, I took the liberty of reminding him of the debt. Och, says he, and indeed I must continue in your debt. Sir, said I, this is rather strange conduct to one entirely unknown to you. I shall probably meet you at the commercial buildings sonic time or other. Sir, I do not frequent the place; and must request you to pay the coachman and guard for me. Nothing more passed until he left the coach at the end of Essex-street, when I once more put him in mind of his debt. The coachman and guard were now claiming their perquisites from him; and he had the unparalleled effrontery to turn them over to me for payment. Look to that gentleman, said he, I have engaged to meet him at the commercial buildings at two o'clock: upon which I looked out at the window, and cried with a warmth which I thought would have brought me into a scrape, Sir, you know I have made no such appointment with you; jour behaviour is most un-gentlemanlike; and I will tell the coachman and guard in your presence, that if they do not get their payment from you, they will look in vain for it to me. He stole away in the midst of my abuse, and the hearty maledictions of the guards; and although I went to the commercial buildings at the time he specified, more to discover the end of the adventure than from my expectation of repayment, my money was gone for ever. I mention this trifling circumstance thus minutely, because it is a peculiarity which an English mail-coach would hardly have presented, in any person bearing the character and appearance of a gentleman. I do not however consider it or set it down as a picture of general manners. I was sorry to see it in an individual instance. The name of this swindler is S; he was well known to the clerk of the coach-office, who, without meaning to be pointed, called him a Cork gentleman.
This person lent me on the road the trial of M'Cann, one of the rebels, who was convicted of having poisoned his own mother for the sake of one hundred and seventy-five pounds. One of the coachmen was a singular character: he quoted Milton, Pope, Addison, and Goldsmith, and said, that although he came in so disputable a form, his education was of the highest kind; but having now got into this agitated way, it was morally impossible he could keep up his scholarship, and yet he did all he could; for every second Sunday he sent a man on the road in his place, and went to church; as he spent every second night with
p.33his family. Of all the books he ever read, none pleased him so so much as Hervey's Meditations; a book which does not make mischief out of occurrences like some writers, but purifies every trifle, shewing a poor man how to derive a lesson even from the fire struck by a horse's shoe. This man drinks, swears, and quarrels, but says he injures nobody. Such is his morality, and such must be that of all those who make a morality of their own: better than none at all, but not so good as that of the Bible.
Seven hundred and fifty rebels were shot at Carlow, which we passed, in one day; six disaffected yeomen brought in four rebels, after being all night with the rebel party; they brought their friends like true traitors instigated by the hope of reward; but no sooner were they brought into the castle yard, than they were desired to pray for an hour, and were then shot.
Before dinner I inspected the Library of Trinity College, which I had omitted to see in my former visits to the metropolis. Dr. Barrett, the librarian, treated me with great civility, although I troubled him after the usual hour: he shewed amongst other curiosities, which must content a rapid observer, books entirely printed in gold, on scriptural and oriental subjects.
The upper gallery, on account of want of rooms, is about to be disfigured by projecting rows, which will spoil the view of the whole, or parallel with the wall, by which means the pillars will be broken. On this momentous question, the fellows I understand are at present divided.
Non nostrum tantas componere lites.
VIRGIL, Eclog. III
As I embarked for Holyhead this evening, I shall here finish my tour with a few general observations.
The hotels, if we may judge of them from that in Dawson Street, are reasonable in their charges. Beds are two shillings a night, and breakfasts in a comfortable style, one shilling, or one shilling and sixpence. Dinners are not given here, but the house is connected with a neighbouring tavern, where they may be had on moderate terms; so moderate, indeed, that it is even thought penurious to call for less than a bottle of wine. This with an excellent dinner may be had for about six shillings and six-pence. A shilling a day is sufficient for all the servants at the hotel; but it is expected that a shilling shall be given to the waiter who attends at dinner in the coffee-house. Whether this is designed to compensate for the abuse which he receives, I am unable to determine: but a moralizing mind cannot help observing, that men are not paid in this world proportionably to their deserts, and that he who has least labour, is often most largely rewarded. Each particular bed-room in the large hotel
p.34has its own bell. You take the key in your pocket, and lay it upon the number of your bell, by which the chambermaid can get admittance, as she let me know in a violent rage, when I had had some linen stolen.
Dublin is divided into districts; each of which is committed to the superintendence of certain respectable persons, called conservators of the peace. Every householder must paste on his door a paper mentioning the names and occupations of all who reside in his house.
Amongst the public charitable institutions are the following, which deserve a minuter inspection from the philanthropic traveller, than I had time to bestow upon them. The Foundling and Workhouse, James-street; the Lock, Townsend-street; the Old and New Houses of Industry, near the Linen-Hall; the Penitentiary, George's Hill; Orphan House, Prussia-street; House of Refuge, Upper Bagshot-street; Magdalene, Leeson-street; Lock Penitentiary, Dorset-street; Magdalen, Townsend-street; Dublin Weekly and Sunday School, in School-street, Thomas-court; and the Blue-Coat Hospital, Oxmantown-street.
Of the celebrated liquor, known by the name of usquebagh, there are two sorts, a green and a yellow; the former made with angelica, the latter dyed with saffron. The only genuine usquebagh is manufactured at Drogheda; all other kinds being accommodated to the Irish taste, which regards the quantity rather than the quality.
A Scotchman is perhaps the most provident, an Irishman certainly the most improvident, character in the world. One would wonder who, or where are the persons from whom credit is obtained; for every individual of every description seems to live to the full extent of his income, or rather in the words of the Poor Soldier, to spend half a crown out of sixpence a day.
Hic ultra vires habitus nitor; hic aliquid plus
Quam Salis est; interdum aliena sumitur arca.
hic vivimus ambitiosa
Juvenal, Satires, I, III, X
p.35in the highest style. In his style, however, he has no notion of economy, or of the frugal high living of the English. His fashion is extravagance; his routs are amateur concerts; his dinners are attended with excessive drinking; his wines are of the rarest quality. Even his excursions to watering places, are not, like those of the English gentry, reliefs to his winter and domestic expences; for he is accompanied by his whole establishment; and consequently returns to Dublin without a shilling in his pocket, and all this expenditure, squeezed out of the vitals of his own country, never returns into its circulation; and consisting of specie, leaves a blank to be filled up by new inundations of base coin, and country bank paper.
It is not now the fashion, as we have already observed, to go to Dublin in the winter months; whence it has happened, that this beautiful metropolis, once the seat of government, has dwindled into a sea-port; a sea-port which, however, by means of its increasing commerce, may still flourish in its former opulence and magnificence.
Neither are matters considered as altogether quiet; so that people loving security have another motive for going to London. On this account, too, adventurers from Britain, whom it was expected, that the union would bring over to improve agriculture, and excite manufacturing industry, have not yet made their appearance, nor are they likely to make it for some years to come; for who would embark a large capital on any speculation, when the whole might be knocked on the head in one night? The union, however, was upon the whole, a good and useful measure: for if it had not been effected, the Irish would have been perpetually hankering after independence, which they could never have supported. If not united to Britain, and dependent on her, Ireland would have been a province of France; cajoled, perhaps, like Holland, by the specious title of an independent republic; a wreath of flowers to hide her chains.
Ostentation is certainly a prominent feature in the Irish character. They do not light a candle and put it under a bushel. It is with their talents as with their equipage, and the plate upon their side-boards; a grand display is made of both; and it is so contrived, that whatever they have, shall go as great way as possible. Dashing men who give two courses in Dublin, finding no school cheap enough for their children in that metropolis, send them to some petty dame school in the neighbourhood. One is apt to suspect their hospitality to have some tincture of a love of shew. At all events, the praises pronounced on it cannot but be deemed extravagant, by those who reflect, that it supersedes the finest and most commendable feelings of nature. Nor is this ostentation confined to the higher walks of life; every where may be
p.36traced marks of a desire to make an appearance, and to cause a little to go a great a way. Every hedge ale-house is a hotel; every gingle is my carriage; every ragged boy, without shoes or stockings, is my servant; and even on the coffins of men who have been hanged, we find marks of national vanity, in Mr. A. B. who departed this life, &c.
Every thing in Dublin is pomp or poverty, splendour or squalid wretchedness. No decent comforts of the middle ranks unite, as in London, the magnificence and misery. Instead of the shades of comfort which every where in England, melt into one another by insensible gradations, here may be observed two broad, distinguishable lines of brilliancy and blackness. The grandeur of the metropolis of Ireland, and the sketchings of the private hours, make it wonderful that a union should have been opposed in Dublin; but to the country in general, the effects must be beneficial. To the poor, no experiment can be hurtful: for in comforts and in morals, they are already in the lowest state of degradation to which it is possible for the people to be sunk.