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and undoubting belief that there exists somewhere illimitable power and wondrousness, grandeur and beauty, felicity and riches. He is quite sure that these exist, and exist for him, if he could but come at them. And then, rather than lack the agreeable company of these splendid visions in some realized and tangible form, he liberally invests everything within his reach and ken with these attributes. Never was a creature so theomorphous. He sets up objects for his mental worship, and for the contentment of his inward impulse to be still believing in, and wondering at something, with an ingenuity and a versatility not to be baffled. He is quite certain there is something rich and perfect and satisfying at the bottom of this world's poor and beggarly sort of elements-poor and beggarly enough, it must be admitted, for anything that he, poor fellow, has experience of:--something mighty racy lurking under the cover of this world's dulness and commonplace, if you only knew how to hit upon it. The one conviction is the secret of his imperturbable contentment, the other of his never-failing humour. One cannot help greatly admiring his thus seeing and honouring the very spirit of beauty and fitness in a condition involving about the maximum amount of personal discomfort, and his wonderful knack of eliciting the very essence of fun out of the
gravest situations.' But this is in the true spirit of idolatry: a fact which has not escaped the notice of a certain acute observer of human nature. "Taking the very refuse among those things o which served to no use, being a crooked piece of wood and full of knots, he carves it diligently, when he has nothing else to do, and forms it by the skill of his understanding. The Irish peasant honours with a simplicity, which in any less acute creature we should call stolid, the very unsatisfactory lot in which he finds himself: he sees elegance and health in his misshapen and unwholesome cabin; high farming in his potatoes ; luxury in his Indian male;' riches, in a word, in poverty, and good in everything. The fact that a thing belongs to him, or stands in any near relation to him, at once imparts to it an extraordinary merit and value.
One cannot but perceive in the native cheerfulness of the Irish peasant a wonderful compensation for his numerous privations. But then virtue consists in a mean; and that mean is not always observed in this case. While Irish contentedness is not (as is generally imagined) physical laziness, but rather a mind feeding on something more refined than the elements of outward prosperity; it has at the same time, of course, a close connexion with laziness, and an all but unavoidable tendency to slide into it. To this is obviously to be traced that protracted acquiescence in a particular root as the staff of
life, the cause of which we have placed among our queries.
The extraordinary simplicity of the agricultural process required for its cultivation, at once recommended it as the food of the nation. The Irishman reverses the usual mode of ratiocination, according to which things are valuable in the inverse ratio of their accessibility. He is for the direct ratio. Whatever is easiest to come at the same is also the best. To the same principle is to be referred the national mode of digging, and the form of the implement employed in the operation. That the Irish spade should be twice the length of the English, and unprovided with any aperture for thrusting the hand into, is only therefore not curious, because it saves half the labour. Standing pretty nearly upright, with a cheerful countenance, and in an unconstrained posture, which presents no obstacle either to his either conversing freely with his neighbour or observing the natural beauty of the landscape, the Irish peasant plants his foot on a sort of stirrup provided for the purpose, and turns up the soil as unconsarnedly as possible. Sure, it saves breaking the back over it.' It does so, no doubt; but it also saves breaking the soil to any extent worth mentioning. This, however, is a secondary matter; and it is obvious that this implement, like other institutions of the country, is constructed chiefly with a view to saving the throuble. Herodotus would certainly have reckoned the Irishman along with the Egyptian, as one of those for whose benefit the primeval law of labour seems to have been all but repealed: for he, too, puts himself to wondrous little trouble about those little preliminaries of ploughing, harrowing, and the like, which are the ordinary lot of agriculturists ; but when he hath cast • in the seed, he forthwith folds his arms and waits for the har. • vest;\which he reaps, too, without being beholden, like the Egyptian, to the pigs or the Nile.
One thing, in truth, there is which an Irishman does not worship, and that is material prosperity. Indeed, he has rather a contempt for it, than otherwise. He prefers the idea to the reality. To his imagining, his humble lot is a 'bee-eu-tiful' one already, and you can't mend it much by your tinkering. What signifies just poking a stone into the wall here, to make it weather-tight, or pushing another out there, to prevent its being smoke-tight? What signifies an old hat more or less in the window, or an increased approximation between the different levels of the floor? of which, as at the bottom of the Lacus Asphaltites, and other inland seas, there are always two at least. These things will add not a grain to the sands of gold over which the Pactolus of his imagination wanders. Sure, it 'ill do:' nay, the existing structure will not only do,' but is full of
1 Herodot. ii. 25.
illigant conthrivances, the whole beauty and merit of which would be sacrificed by the threatened innovations. And as he is thus provokingly contented on the one hand, as the result of his idealism, so is he on the other, from the same cause, liable to violent gusts of discontent and turbulence. Accustomed to bow down before ideas, he is easily prevailed upon to lend himself to the promotion of repale,' or anything else that wears the semblance of being for the glory and honour of the “ould country. He is a patriot, however, by accident, simply because patriotism is a great idea ; not, like the Greeks, because it is the one idea to which all others are subordinate.
Of course when, from the contemplation of his own humble lot, this worshipper of ideas turns to the world at large, and his relations to it, he finds abundant objects for his faith to fasten upon. There is the master he serves, with all his belongings and kindred, to the remotest degree; the town'(that is, the country, the domain) on which he lives; the boys' that is, the men) who inhabit it; the crops growing, or expected to grow thereon ; the 'ould' country, and the 'ould' persuasion. It is not too much to say that, to an implicit belief in the perfection of these and similar accidents of his worldly position, the Irishman dedicates himself with a most entire devotion. To those who inhabit the more mountainous and picturesque part of the country, the natural scenery is the object of the like unbounded estimation. The warmth of admiration with which these and such like things are regarded, is the secret of almost every prominent trait, good or evil, in the Irish character-of Irish eloquence, Irish idiom, and Irish “bulls ;' of Irish honour, and Irish lying and dishonesty; of the strong affection with which servants, male and female, regard their masters and mistresses; and, less directly, of the attachment of the peasant class to the Roman Catholic religion.
We have no hesitation in assigning, as the main source of * Irish eloquence, the strength and intensity with which Irishmen
feel. The axiom, . He best shall paint them who shall feel them most,' whether true or not as a general rule, certainly holds good here. In fact, an Irishman expatiating on an interesting theme, is a man riding his hobby. The vivid imagery, the aptness of allusion, the copious torrent of words, all rise at the bidding of the master-feeling-the strong inward persuasion of the incomparable realities and excellences residing in all things in general, and in the theme which happens to be uppermost in particular. Of course, if there were not also great natural acuteness and readiness, the result would not follow; but these are almost inseparable from intense power of idealisation, and are continually stimulated and kept bright by it.
most the expresiones cellenties are applich an
One way in which the loftiness of an Irishman's conceptions about everything betrays itself, is the frequency with which terms expressive of wonder, grandeur, terror, beauty, &c. are applied to the description of the most ordinary matters or events. Such a description will teem with the expressions wonderful,'"mighty,' powerful,'' tremendous, terrible,' excellent (sic), "elegant, lovely. When these, as adjectives or adverbs, are applied to somewhat humble or incompatible subjects, the effect, on an English ear, is ludicrous enough. A fine horse or cow will be described as an 'illigant baste;' so too you hear of lovely manure; ' "mighty wake tay;''terrible good crops.' The last of these expressions occurs as a provincialism in England; and this mode of speech has been carried out, as is well known, in American slang, to an offensive degree. There is all the difference in the world, however, between the artificial braggadocio of the one country, and the native vehemence which prompts these paradoxes in the other. It is most probable, however, that Ireland is the parent of the American usage.
But the Irishman is not less happy and forcible in other departments of rhetoric. As he chooses the most intense expressions, whether always very applicable or not, so his collocation and accumulation of words and particles, on the most trivial occasions, is such as to bear you down and take all by storm; while the effect is further heightened by other rhetorical artifices. A less promising subject for rhetorical display than the simple fact of abundance of food having been provided on some occasion, can hardly be imagined ; and an English peasant would express the fact by simply saying, “there was plenty to eat.' Not so an Irishman or Irishwoman, more voluble than he. Nothing will adequately express his or her mind upon the subject short of saying (our instance is a quotation) that, the ating and the dhrinking, that was in it, was wonderful.' We are satisfied that Longinus and Burke would have agreed in pronouncing this short sentence to be framed on the most approved principles of rhetoric. Observe how the Englishman's solitary and jejune verb “to eat' is expanded into two goodly substantives, each of them provided, for the more strength and effectiveness, with a definite article, the ating and the dhrinking;' and how forcibly the idea, thus repeated and reverberated, comes down upon the ear. As Longinus says, Tŷ étalinaw TINTTEL Þópa. Then mark, that the predicate is carried away from the commonplace and sensuous region of mere physical quantity into that of the marvellous. The thing is wonderful. And a further touch of grandeur, bordering hard upon sublimity, is imparted to the whole conception by the phrase that was in it.' That which is cloudy and undefined, is also, as Burke has observed, NO. LXXXII.-N.S.
cle custom that of teaching the greatest difficial
more or less sublime. “In it. In what? or how 'in'? Imagination alone can supply the answer, in all its sublime proportions. It only needs that this sentence should have the benefit of genuine Irish delivery and elocution, to ensure it a high place among efforts of this nature.
As we have now touched upon one or two peculiarities of Irish phraseology, we will take leave to prosecute this subject a little further. We have already hazarded the assertion that an Irishman never says "yes. Those who know the country will admit that the exceptions to this rule are so few, that it may safely be enunciated in this universal form. Our business is not to establish the fact, but to account for it. Yet it may serve as an illustration of it, that at a well-known collegiate school near Dublin, to which Ireland's aristocracy are beginning to look as offering on Irish ground what they have hitherto had to seek at Eton or Harrow, and which, therefore, reflects the phraseological condition of the higher classes of society, the greatest difficulty of all has been found to be that of teaching the boys to utter the affirmative particle customarily used in this country. Ireland, in short, is another and a more prononcée Languedoc. That province, it is well known, derives its name from the prevalence in it of a patois, in which oc is used for oui ; hence called the Langue doc. Even so is Ireland distinguished from England by rejecting altogether her affirmative particle; only, what is the most remarkable point, she has forgotten to provide any substitute for it. How then, to echo a celebrated inquiry of the Duke's, can the business of affirmation be carried on in the country? Partly by stronger terms, such as 'surely,' certain-ly,' ‘no doubt at all at all about it,' and the like; but chiefly by the singular and somewhat Homeric expedient of repeating the words of the interrogating party, or an equivalent for them in the shape of the auxiliary verb. Did you see, &c. ?' I did.' "Is it a fine day?' •It is;' and so on. • Do you live in that place where we changed cars ?' 'I do, Sir?' Were you born there ?' 'I was, indade, yere Arnhr? (Sir F. Head, p. 186, who gives, by the way, one or two instances of a peculiar variety of this response, in which the auxiliary verb is different from that employed in the question: 'Are those hills in winter covered with snow?" They do, Sir.' p. 196.) We must bespeak our reader's patience while we endeavour to unravel the metaphysical rationale of this peculiarity of speech.
Among the Dii minorum gentium which the Irishman reveres, must be reckoned the principle of positiveness and certainty. It has been said of Dr. Arnold, that he got up every morning with the impression that everything was an open question. The Irishman gets up with an equally strong impression that