Thomson. The Castle of Indolence: an Allegorical Poem. Written in imitation of Spenser, Canto II, James Thomson (1859)
- Then towns he quicken'd by mechanic arts,
And bade the fervent city glow with toil;
Bade social commerce raise renowned marts,
Join land to land, and marry soil to soil.
Cork is entirely a commercial city, and the principal town for exports in Ireland. From the traffic carried on here, and the natural advantages of its situation for trade, an old rhyme may possibly prove prophetic. Alluding to the military consequence of Limerick at the close of the seventeenth century, it tells us that
- Limerick wasDublin isbut Cork will be
The greatest city of the three.
Places of trade, however important to the prosperity of a country, seldom possess attractions for strangers who may visit them on other than mercantile pursuits; nor will the origin of the name of Cork excite expectations, its supposed derivation being from the Irish word Corcagh or Curkig, signifying a swamp or morass; the city standing
p.186on several marshy islands. Some, however, derive the name from Corrogh, the Irish for a boat or small vessel; while tradition draws it from Corc, a native monarch, whose palace stood on the ground now inundated by the Lough, immediately without the suburbs on the Kinsale road; but whatever the name may have originated in, it has been the subject of many witticisms. When Foote was asked by an Irish nobleman, at whose table the bottle had circulated freely, if he had ever been at Cork? his reply was, No, my lord, but I have seen many drawings of it this evening; and an apology of Curran's, to a foppishly dressed packet companion, when coming from Ireland to England in his old fashioned and shabby coat, was a declaration, that he made it a point to go to sea in a cork jacket.
The foundation of Cork has been attributed to a Danish colony in the ninth or tenth century. Its buildings are neither curious from their antiquity, or beautiful as specimens of architecture, a few recent edifices excepted, built under the direction of Mr. Thomas Deane, to whose liberality and talent, aided by indefatigable exertions, Cork is indebted for numerous improvements.
The Parade, South Mall, and some of the modern streets are of good proportions, but the irregularity of the houses destroys that appearance of uniformity so necessary to constitute a fine city; this irregularity is even increased in its effect by variety of colour, the stone used for building in the northern suburbs being of a reddish brown, and in the southern of a cold grey tint. One side of the most conspicuous church steeple, that of St. Anne's or Upper Shandon, has been actually built with red stone, and the other three of limestone; add to this opposition of colours, houses sheathed with deep blue and purple slates, as a protection from the weather, some built entirely of red brick, others stained with a dark yellow wash, and an idea of the harmony, or rather discord, may be formed. Few cities, therefore, are more calculated than Cork, to impress a traveller with an opinion of the independent feeling of its inhabitants.
The streets are ill-paved with small sharp stones, and the footways (except parts of the main street) unflagged. By the measurement made for a Paving Board lately established in Cork, from whose labours much public good may proceed, there appeared to be 600,530 square yards occupied by the streets and lanes of that city, a space equal to about one hundred and twenty-four acres.
The quays, when finished according to the plan laid down by the Harbour Commissioners, who are embodied by act of parliament, promise to be a splendid improvement in the appearance of Cork; and the opening of a new street to the western part of the town, which before could only be gained by narrow and dirty lanes, will be a considerable advantage, as affording a desirable communication to an agreeable walk called the Mardyke, the Mansion House, and some good streets which had fallen into disrepute in consequence of the former approach.
The main street is the most ancient; it was divided into north and south by a bridge and a castle, on the site of the latter stands the Exchange that
- cringing from the northern blast,
Hides half its ample front in Castle Street.
It is a heavy, inelegant building, and being no longer used for commercial purposes ought to be removed. A picture of this street, at once just and humorous, is given in an admirable little satire which I once met with.
- here you may see
New houses, proudly eminent o'er old,
Confus'dly interspersedthe old are clad
In sober statethe new are gay with brick,
Like new red buttons on an old blue coat.
Time may perchancelong time with chance conspire
To deck them all in livery of brick.
So worsted stockings (I have heard) a pair
By constant darning have been changed to silk!
This street may be said to have constituted the city of Cork until the year 1600; take Camden's account of the place:
Enclosed within a circuit of walls in forme of an egge with the river flowing round about it, and running betweene, not passable through but by bridges, lying out in length as it were in one direct broad street, and the same having a bridge over it.
Blackpool and Old Cork were detached villages on the northern and southern sides of the river, and had little intercourse with the city except as receptacles for the produce of the country, which consisted chiefly of provisions, brought into the city on market days under a military escort.
It was not until the year 1670, about which time the south channel of the river was rendered navigable, that any improvements were made. Some of the eastern marshes, on which the best part of Cork now stands, were then drained, and a bowling-green and gardens with temporary buildings formed on the reclaimed ground; but these works were trampled and destroyed during the siege in 1690, under the celebrated Duke (then the Earl) of Marlborough. Immediately after that event Cork rapidly extended; almost all the marshy islands adjacent to the one on which it stood, were recovered, and portions of the city are still known by the names of the individuals who first reclaimed them, as Hammond's marsh, Pike's marsh, Dunscombe's marsh, &c. Stretching westward from the first of these marshes, a public walk called the Mardyke, consisting of an embankment nearly an English mile in length, was constructed across a swamp in 1719, at the expense of Mr. Edward Webber, who built at its termination a brick house, (whence it was vulgarly termed the Red House Walk,) and enclosed a tea garden adjoining, which was much frequented by the citizens during the summer.
- the city viewed,
Likest a watch it seemed,the dyke a chain,
A flaunting chain,a trinket the dyke house,
Hammond's marsh also possessed public gardens, and a large and pleasant bowling-green, planted on its margin with trees kept regularly cut, of which some still remain near the present Mansion House, and annexed to these gardens were Assembly rooms. The formation of such insular places of public resort and amusement seems to have been encouraged, and they were the first steps towards improvement.
The east marsh, and that drained by Captain Dunscombe, were formed into the parish of St. Paul, and a church erected in 1723. Christ Church, 22 which had suffered severely during the siege, a bomb having fallen through its roof, was rebuilt in 1720, and St. Anne's Shandon in 1722, the old church having been destroyed by the burning of the suburbs, at the same time. The Cathedral also, on account of the injuries it had sustained in 1690, as well as its age, was taken down and rebuilt between the years 1725 and 35. St. Peter's Church was likewise rebuilt in 1782, and scarcely one of the present ecclesiastic or civic buildings of Cork were in existence at the commencement of the last century.
23The old castles and gates that terminated the main street having become ruinous, were replaced by prisons; the north gate built in 1715, for a City Gaol, and the south gate, in 1728, for a County Gaol, the latter of which has been recently removed, as will be the former, on the completion of a more extensive and eligible structure, now building for the purpose, a short distance from the city. These gaols were ill contrived masses, without even the recommendation of superior security, and their removal is attended with advantage to
p.190the main street already mentioned, which is populous and confined.
The canals intersecting Cork were gradually arched over, and the many little marshy islands thus consolidated in one. The channel running through the middle of the present Henry Street was arched in 1774, and four years after, that between Hammond's quay and the west side of the city walls was converted into a street, named after the distinguished patriot Grattan.
Between Tuckey's Quay and the Mall, the present Grand Parade was formed in 1780, and the union of the Long Quay with Colville's Quay became Patrick Street in 1783, about the same time the Potatoe Quay Dock, between the present Corn-Market and Bridewell, was covered in; Nile Street was formed in 1795;
and subsequently the South Mall, the best street in Cork, and Nelson's Place, were created in the same manner.
- once called
Fenn's Quay, but now being arched 'tis 'clep'd a street;
The description given of Cork by Lord Orrery in a letter to Dean Swift, dated 1736, does not say much for the attractions of the place or the people; but it appears rather to proceed from a splenetic mood than impartial observation. The butchers are as greasy, writes his lordship, the quakers as formal; and the presbyterians as holy and full of the Lord as ever; all things are in statu quo; even the hogs and pigs grunt in the same cadence as of yore; unfurnished with variety, and drooping under the natural dulness of the place, materials for a letter are as hard to be found, as money, sense, honesty, or truth! A curious little book printed in Cork the following year (1737), and entitled, Remarks upon the Religion, Trade, Government, Police, Manners, and Maladies of the City of Corke, would probably afford an amusing picture of its state. I have never met with a copy of this work, but it has been described to me by a
p.191dealer in old books, who recently sold one, as an agreeable, witty, and entertaining tract, and I presume was written by Dr. Rogers, who is quoted by Smith and other authors. In glancing at civic manners and amusements, the stage will naturally be the first point adverted to. The present theatre in Georges Street was built by Spranger Barry, and opened in 1760, with an excellent company of performers, when the works of the best dramatic authors were represented; but the patronage not supporting the expenses of the undertaking, the management soon passed into other hands, and a theatrical monopoly, or contract by a Dublin patentee, has been fatal to the drama in Cork. This theatre (now the only one) is literally in a state of ruin, where, for a few weeks in the course of every summer, some stock plays are listlessly performed by an inferior corps dramatique; and once in every three or four years the most popular London actor appears, engaged at an enormous salary, but unsupported by even mediocre talent.
A few years after the present Cork theatre was opened, the most singular exhibition took place on its stage, perhaps to be found in theatrical records.
One of the performers named Glover had attended in the morning the execution of Patrick Redmond, a man who was sentenced to be hanged for robbery. After hanging a short time, the body was cut down and delivered to his friends, when Glover, having some knowledge of surgery, and believing the vital spark not to be extinct, recommended the usual methods for recalling animation, which were applied, and proving effectual Redmond speedily recovered. That very evening, inspired by gratitude as well as whiskey, he went to the play-house, and on Glover's appearance, jumped upon the stage and returned thanks to his preserver, to the no small terror and astonishment of the audience.
Derrick, who always gives his opinion as a person of ton, in one of his letters to Lord Cork, mentions having visited Barry's theatre,
p.192during the first season of the performances in it, and speaks of the scenery as finely painted, and the band of music beyond any thing that could be expected. The same writer describes a public assembly held every fortnight in a large room with white walls, badly lighted, and not encumbered with ornament, frequented by very handsome females, dressed in the pink of the mode, and compliments Cork, on having seen more pretty women in it, than in any other town.
Besides these assemblies, there were weekly meetings termed Drums, which are said to have been extremely social and agreeable, the admission was trifling, the company danced, played cards, talked or promenaded without restraint, and the attendance was generally numerous and respectable. These Drums were much resorted to by the military, and the hospitality of the citizens towards the officers in the garrison, (whom they ever seemed to consider as their guests,) created the most cordial feeling between both, which only once experienced a slight interruption. This was in 1762, when severe and unpleasant bickerings arose between Colonel Molesworth, the Lieutenant Govenor of Cork, and Mr. Franklyn the Mayor of the city, in support of the civic power, who obliged the commanding officer to cause a serjeant and twelve men to mount guard daily at his house in Cove Lane, during the last three months he remained in office; but with his successor an entire reconciliation between the military and civil authorities ensued. Concerts and meetings of musical societies were frequent in Cork, and the recollection still survives of the excellence attained by several of the amateur, as well as professional members. Amongst the latter, the name of De la Main, many years organist at the Cathedral, ought to be more generally known from the merit of his compositions, particularly of his church music, and it is a reproach to Cork, that no effort has been made to collect and publish his works; inaccurate copies of some of which are to be found in print.
The unpopular Mr. Twiss, in his Irish Tour, sneers at the florid account given by Dr. Smith of the extent and excellence of musical taste in Cork, which it must be acknowledged is somewhat bombastic; but Mr. Twiss's irony may have proceeded from another cause, as his reception at Cork did not equal his expectations. Few travellers came with more letters of recommendation to Ireland; amongst others he brought one to Mr. Comerford, and was in consequence invited to spend a day at his house. Meeting Mr. Comerford some days after, in a public room, he expressed his surprise in an indelicate manner, (intended as a reflection on the hospitality of his entertainer,) that he had never been invited a second time, by one of the many to whom he had brought introductions.Sir, replied Mr. Comerford, since you wish to know the cause, I will explain it. When a gentleman brings a letter of introduction, he is invited as a matter of course, in compliment to the writer, but if he is asked a second time, it must be on account of his own merit.
The alarming character of the events of the years 1797 and 98 abruptly terminated the public and private amusements of Cork, and imperatively called on all classes to take up arms in defence of their lives and property. The arrival of a French Fleet in Bantry Bay naturally produced a panic in a city not forty miles distant from the scene of invasion, and during the emergencies of that period, the loyalty and zeal of the inhabitants of Cork were particularly noticed and approved by the English government. The merchants of the place, at their private expense, kept twenty horses ready for the conveyance of information to the proper authorities; refreshed such troops as passed through the city; and humanely made an allowance to the wife and children of every soldier who had marched against the invading enemy. In 1798, religious and party feeling was excited to the extreme, and ran so high as to create distinctions, the existence of which are not forgotten to the present hour, that
p.194have checked friendly intercourse and cordiality of sentiment, and destroyed the source of much innocent enjoyment.
Cork first became noted in English history from its connection with the fortunes of Perkin Warbeck, who, under the title of Richard IV., endeavoured to depose Henry VII. from his throne. Warbeck personated Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV., supposed to have been murdered in the Tower with his brother Edward V., and although the imposture is now generally admitted, many have expressed their belief of his identity, and some curious arguments have been produced in favour of this opinion.
According to Warbeck's confession, or the one made for him on the eve of his execution, he was a Fleming by birth, and in 1492, having landed in Ireland with an adventurer named Pregant Meno, was hailed at Cork as heir to the crown, by John Walters, an opulent trader, afterwards mayor of the city, and Stephen Poytou, a disaffected Englishman, who caused him to be instructed in the English language, and promised to assist him in the recovery of his assumed dignity. Having endeavoured to engage the Irish chieftains, particularly the Earls of Desmond and Kildare, in his cause, (noblemen seldom unwilling to enter into any scheme opposed to the reigning king of England,) Perkin left Ireland for France, from whence, on the declaration of peace between that country and England, he passed into Flanders, and three years after, with a small body of followers, made a futile descent on the Kentish coast. After this defeat, Perkin retreated to Cork, where he remained some months, but finding his Irish friends unable to render him any effectual assistance, proceeded to Scotland, with a view to excite an invasion of England in his favour.
Although Warbeck was kindly received by the Scottish monarch, who is said to have been instrumental in his marriage with a daughter of the Earl of Huntley, the conclusion of peace between England and Scotland obliged him with his young wife to fly from the
p.195northern court, and he once more returned to Cork, where, chiefly through the Earl of Desmond's influence, having raised a few soldiers and procured vessels to transport them to England, Warbeck rashly appeared with his small troop before Exeter, and laid siege to that city; this last effort was as ineffectual as his former expedition, for the King's army obliged him to raise the siege. Exhausted by disappointments, and seeing no hope of success, he surrendered himself, and was conducted a prisoner to the Tower of London. Walters, the Mayor of Cork, with his son, who was Dean of Limerick, were arrested as traitors, and being transmitted to England, were tried at Westminster with Warbeck, in November, 1499. Walters the elder and Warbeck being found guilty were executed, and their heads spiked on London Bridge.
In consequence of the conduct of the chief magistrate, and from having so repeatedly afforded a refuge to the rebellious Warbeck, Cork was deprived of its charter; but the displeasure of Henry was transitory, for in August, 1500, a new charter was granted with increased privileges, and a promise of the King's forgiveness.
Camden, about the close of the sixteenth century, describes Cork as a pretty town of merchandize, well peopled and much resorted to, but so beset on every side with rebels neighbouring upon it, that they are faine to keepe alwaies a set watch and ward, as if they had continual siege laid unto the city, and dare not marrie their daughters forth into the country, but make marriages one with another among themselves, whereby all the citizens are linked together, in some degree of kindred and affinity. Coppinger, Galway, Gold or Gould, Murrogh or Morrogh, Skiddy, Roche and Terry, were the principal families in Cork, and though all of the catholic persuasion continued loyal to the government of Elizabeth. This feeling was evinced by their conduct in 1570. A report, or rather a prophecy, having been generally circulated, that that year should be the last of the queen's reign, and the prediction proving false, the citizens testified their joy
p.196by ringing bells, lighting bonfires, and tilting; said to be the first public rejoicings in Cork.
On the death of Elizabeth in 1603, the inhabitants, like those of many English cities, were not reconciled to the accession of James the First, being averse to the government of a Scottish king. Although several Protestants, and some of English birth, opposed the authority of James, the Catholics were by far the most violent and numerous, and the affair assumed a character of religious distinction. Sarsfield, the mayor, in answer to the commands of Sir George Thornton, directing the proclamation of the king, stated, that their charter gave the citizens a right to consider if such a proceeding were adviseable, and, to a mild remonstrance on his conduct, insolently replied, that Perkin Warbeck had been proclaimed King of England in the city of Cork, and the consequences of that step were warfare and disaffection. A formidable party, headed by Mead, the Recorder, broke into open rebellion and committed many outrages; disarmed all the English and Protestants who would not join them; burned the bibles and common prayer books; and, during these riotous proceedings, several harmless persons were put to death. On the arrival of the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, the insurgents were divided amongst themselves. The Meads, Golds, and Murroghs, who were the popular leaders, advised the defence of the city against the Lord Deputy; but the aldermen, Terry, John and Walter Coppinger, with the families of Galway, Verdon, and Martel dissented, and on the 11th of May, 1603, Cork was formally surrendered to Lord Mountjoy, who entered it at the head of a large body of troops.
A variety of causes were urged in excuse of this civic revolt, of which the most plausible were, the oppressive conduct of the military, and the injury of property sustained by being obliged to receive the base money issued by Queen Elizabeth the preceding year.
Mercy was extended by the Lord Deputy to all concerned in these transactions, except the ringleaders. Lieutenant Murrough, and two others, were executed by martial law; and the Recorder (Mead) was
p.197tried, but acquitted, and died at Naples a pensioner of the King of Spain. Mead was the author of a tract, entitled, An Advice to the Catholics of Munster, grounded on the Act of Parliament anno 2 Eliz. a copy of which, says Smith, is preserved at Oxford among the MSS. given to the Bodleyan Library by Archbishop Laud.
In 1605 the city of Cork, with its liberties, were separated from the county of Cork, and made a distinct jurisdiction; but its improvement was retarded by two severe fires, in 1612 and 1622, which destroyed the greater part of the city. During the confusion of politics and parties in the struggle between Charles the First and his subjects, the citizens of Cork remained firm to the royal cause, and even after the situation of that monarch's affairs had become desperate, continued to oppose the parliament. Such conduct may possibly be ascribed to the example of Sir William St. Leger, Lord President of Munster, whose unshaken attachment to Charles has consecrated his memory as a faithful servant and an honest man.
The resistance of Cork, however, before Oliver Cromwell was, like that of most other places in Ireland, nominal. Oliver was a sojourner of a few days within its walls, during which time he directed the church bells to be taken down and converted into battering cannon, and is said to have answered a remonstrance on the subject with the facetious remark, that since gunpowder was invented by a Priest, he thought the best use for bells would be to promote them into Cannons. Charles the Second was proclaimed in Cork by Prince Rupert in 1649; but the inhabitants, awed by the parliamentary fleet commanded by Admiral Blake, then off the harbour, and being under a military government established by Cromwell, remained passive, until, instigated by Lord Broghill, they openly declared for the parliament.
On the cessation of hostilities in 1655, the civil government of Cork was re-established. Protestant magistrates were chosen, and some severe enactments made against the Roman Catholic inhabitants, who were for a time expelled the city.
About this period the sect called Quakers appeared in Cork, and there one of its most eminent members first became a convert to those opinions, which he afterwards carried into legislative effectI speak of the illustrious William Penn. Curiosity induced him to visit a religious meeting where the doctrines of Quakerism were explained by Thomas Lowe, who expatiated with so much force on the textThere is a faith that overcomes the world, and there is a faith that is overcome by the world as to make a proselyte of Penn, who constantly afterwards attended their meetings, and assumed the garb of the society. Colonel Phaire, the Governor of Cork, and several of the Republican soldiers in the garrison, also became converts to the same tenets.
On the 3d of September, 1667 5 Penn, being at a meeting in that city, was apprehended, with many others, and carried before the Mayor, who, observing his dress was less primitive than that of his companions, or perhaps recollecting that his father, Sir Wm. Penn, was a man of considerable power and influence both in the county and in England, would have set him at liberty upon giving bond for his future good behaviour, which Penn refused to do, and was committed with eighteen others to the common prison. Immediately on his commitment he wrote a manly letter to Lord Orrery, President of Minister, then at Chraleville, who ordered his discharge, but suffered his fellow prisoners to remain until released in the due course of law.
Amongst the early religious associates of Penn was John Exham, distinguished by the name of the Quaker Prophet, an eccentric fanatic, originally a soldier under Cromwell, but who, on the appearance of Quakerism, took a leading part in the dissemination of its pacific doctrines. His enthusiasm was so great, about the time of Penn's imprisonment, that he walked through the streets, his head covered with sackcloth and ashes, preaching repentance and amendment of life, for which he suffered a long and severe imprisonment; but undismayed by such usage, he took a second exercise of the same kind in Cork, during the year 1698, being then above seventy.
p.199At the time of his death he was upwards of ninety years of age, and persevered in the same conduct to the last.
The restless and enterprising Broghill, dissatisfied with the conduct of Cromwell, probably conceiving that his services were not sufficiently rewarded, became the strenuous partizan of royalty, and secretly excited the south of Ireland in favour of the Restoration of Charles the Second. Lord Shannon was sent to wait on the exiled King at Brussels, with a minute despatch of eight lines neatly quilted in the collar of his doublet, written by his brother, Broghill, informing his Majesty that 5000 Protestant subjects, and tried men, were assembled in and near Cork, ready to assist him in the recovery of his crown. The declaration of General Monk in England, to the same effect, is said to have prevented Charles from going into Ireland, where Sir Charles Coote had formed a numerous party in the north, on whose coalition with Lord Broghill their design was openly avowed, and Charles the Second was again proclaimed King at Cork, the 18th of May, 1660, eleven days before his restoration in England.
The trade of Cork and its commercial importance rapidly increased after the accession of Charles, until Ireland became involved in the contest between James II. and his son-in-law. The greater part of the inhabitants being Roman Catholics, supported the cause of James, and Cork was garrisoned by Irish troops in favour of that monarch. As the question at issue was one of a religious as well as political nature, the adherents of James disarmed and confined such of the citizens as were Protestants, to prevent their joining the forces of William, and the arrival of James at Cork, who in person was obliged to countenance these and other unconstitutional proceedings, rendered that place the scene of religious intolerance and persecution.
Notwithstanding the victory of the Boyne, Cork still held out for the abdicated monarch, and William found it necessary to reduce
p.200it to obedience. This undertaking was committed to the Duke of Marlborough; he arrived in Cork Harbour on the 22d September, 1690, and was received at the entrance with a few shots, and a show of resistance from a fort which was abandoned on the landing of a small party, who possessed themselves of the guns. The following day was spent in disembarking the troops, and on the 24th, the ordnance were drawn towards the city by the seamen and marines, led on by the young Duke of Grafton. Two troops of dragoons and a small body of infantry, posted a short distance out of Cork, immediately retreated within the walls when fired at, and the cannon were scarcely planted on Fair Hill to the north of the city, when the suburbs at that side were in a blaze, and two small forts with Shandon Castle evacuated.
On the 26th, Prince Wirtemburgh arrived at the head of 4000 Danes, and took up a position in the north of the town. General Scravinmore, who commanded the cavalry, gained the elevated ground of Gill Abbey at the south side; and, seizing the Cathedral, which commanded the old fort or citadel, posted two files of musketeers, under Lieutenant Horace Townsend, in its tower, whose fire became so galling to the fort that two guns were pointed against the church and shook its steeple considerably. Some of the men attempting to descend, Lieut. Townsend struck away the ladder by which they had mounted, thus cutting off the means of retreat, and continued with his men in the steeple until the next day, when the fort surrendered.
This instance of bravery is surpassed by the almost miraculous achievement of two sailors, in the capture of a strong redoubt on the south side of Cork, called the Catt, the fire from which, and a battery not far distant in the same line, formed at the Red Abbey, effected a breach in the city walls.A truce was granted for the night, but the offered conditions being declined, on the following morning, the 28th, a heavy fire continued to play upon the town.
p.201At noon a body of the Danes crossed the northern branch of the river, and four regiments of English under Brigadier Churchill, at the south side, waded to the East Marsh up to their chins in water, but both the detachments were retarded by the swampiness of the ground, and prevented storming the breach by a deep channel that passed down the centre of the present Grand Parade, and served as a counterscarp to the city wall. During the delay caused by these obstructions, the Duke of Grafton (natural son of Charles II.) was mortally wounded by a musket shot from the walls; the ball entered at the point of his shoulder, and he died in a few hours after; the place where this nobleman fell is now distinguished by the name of Grafton's Alley, a narrow passage leading from the South Mall into George's Street.
Two vessels were also moored off the city, and threw bombs into it. In the midst of which puther, to use the expression of Story, Lord Tyrone beat a parley, and surrendered at mercy. The garrison consisted of 4,500 men, and amongst the prisoners of note were the Earls of Clancarty and Tyrone, and many Irish chieftains. About 1,500 of the prisoners were embarked for England, 200 of whom perished in the Breda man of war, which was blown up in Cork harbour, an event that, for the honour of human nature, it is to be hoped has falsely been attributed to the treachery of Colonel Barretthe and his servant only escaping.
Although Ireland generally remained inactive in the cause of the Stuarts, some exertions in their favour appear to have been made at Cork.
In 1722, Captain Henry Ward and three others were hanged there for raising men for the service of the Pretender, and William Roe was pilloried for repeating the seditious sentence, May King James III. enjoy his own again! The pillory was again the award of treasonable expressions in 1746. The Cork post-boy, who to the inquiryWhat news? replied, Good news, the Pretender is
p.202crowned in Scotland; and a man named Coughlan, accused of toasting the health of Lord Clare, then an officer in the French service, suffered that punishment, and during the ten following years four or five men were executed for enlisting soldiers for the French King; but with these individual exceptions Cork appears to have been well affected towards the Hanoverian succession.
The ancient trade of Cork was very limited, and entirely confined to England and the ports in the Bay of Biscaythe principal import was wine from France and Spain, and in return it exported staves, hides, fish, skins, and wool. All the traffic was carried on in foreign bottoms; for Cork, in the reign of Elizabeth, only possessed a few fishing barks, nor were there warehouses established for the reception of merchandize, and every trader therefore brought his goods at his own risk and disposed of them in the best manner he could from on board his vessel.
Foreign vessels were received in a canal which flowed nearly where the present Castle Street stands, and were enclosed, by means of a portcullis, between the Queen's Castle and the King's Castle, on the site of which are built the present Corn Market and Exchange. Descriptive of this locality the city arms is a ship between two castles, with the motto, Statio bene fida carinis.
In the year 1634, at a period when the trade began to increase, only nine small vessels arrived with wine from Bourdeaux and St. Maloes, which together did not import more than 100 tons, out of which 10 tons were paid in duty. The preceding year a speculation of exporting some corn and butter to Spain was attended with so much success, as to induce the traders to barrel up their beef and butter, in imitation of the English manner, and brand it with the Bristol mark, B. C. which found good markets, and proved highly advantageous to the shippers; but the political events of 1641 were inimical to commercial prosperity, and the subsequent transactions destroyed every vestige of industry.
On the restoration of tranquillity under William III. Cork soon recovered from the effects of domestic warfare. The trade with the American and West Indian colonies created a demand for provisions highly beneficial to the place, and contracts were formed for supplies both with the merchant service and the government, which afforded employment to a vast number of persons and circulated large sums of money in the country. Although the most eminent contractors suspended payment more than once, and produced serious temporary embarrassments, yet such was the spirit of enterprise, that after each stoppage, business seemed to be carried on with renewed energy. The third failure of Mr. Paul Benson (whose crest was a rainbow) occasioned a satirical epigram by Dr. De la Cour, which is perhaps worth repeating, as it is not to be found in any printed edition of his poems.
- How like thy crest was once thy power,
Thou shone the rainbow of the hour,
What Christ to Paul saidCork may say to thee,
Paul, Paul, why persecutes! thou me?
Considerable fortunes, however, have been amassed during the late war by some speculative individuals, with much credit to themselves and advantage to the place. The convenience of Cork harbour in time of war rendered it the rendezvous where all vessels trading with the new world assembled for convoy, and the victualling of such fleets alone created an extensive consumption for its staple commoditiesfew cities therefore felt the transition to peace more severely, being without manufactures, and solely dependent on trade for the support of its inhabitants.
The failure of several banking and commercial houses produced a depression of credit, and checked the means by which Cork had attained its commercial eminence. Vacant stores and untenanted houses are melancholy proofs of the declension of its prosperity;
p.204and to those who remember what that city was previous to 1815, its present appearance is extremely cheerlessthis gloomy effect, it is to be hoped, may prove of a temporary nature, and confidence and prosperity be again restored without the renewal of hostilities.
In estimating the present rank which Cork is entitled to hold from other causes than its commercial celebrity, the names of Barry, Butts, and Grogan 24 are marshalled in conjunction with reference to the Fine Arts. What local credit these names reflect, I have never been able to discover. It is true that city was the birth-place of the two former, and the residence of the latter, where he lingered through a laborious professional existence without patronage or encouragement. Barry, it will be recollected, left Cork when a boy, and never returned to it. His genius developed itself in Italy, assisted by directions from Edmund Burke, the works of the old masters having roused his expansive but uncouth mind into a ferocious rivalship; and his surly reply, when reminded of his birthplace, wasCork gave me breath, 'tis true, but it never would have given me bread. Jonathan Butts, less known than Barry, painted compositions of landscape and ruins, something in the manner of Claude, with a rich and flowing pencil, and, emigrating to Dublin
p.205as a scene-painter to the theatre, earned for many years an itinerant subsistence. It is, therefore, an injudicious and idle boast to revert to the past.
The exertions of some amateurs produced, in 1815, a small exhibition of their own works, jointly with those of the few resident artists, which, perhaps, on account of its novelty, was well attended, and led to the formation of a society for the promotion of the fine arts. Circumstances having placed the management in unqualified and indolent hands, exhibitions were, for two or three seasons produced, so worthless as rather to offend than attract the public. A small subscription had been raised towards its support, sufficient to keep it in existence; but the society has gradually sunk into insignificance, notwithstanding some laudable exertions in its behalf by Lord Listowell, who was chiefly instrumental in obtaining from the King the presentation of a good collection of plaster casts.
The state of literature in Cork is certainly more promising than that of the arts; and there is, if not a profound spirit of research, at least a general love of reading. The Cork Library, the earliest literary institution, founded in 1790, is a truly valuable and well-regulated establishment. It is supported by the small annual subscription of one guinea from each member, and the collection of books on subjects of popular interest is extensive and admirably selected.
The Institution derives its chief support from an annual parliamentary grant, and was founded by charter in 1807. From the individual exertions of the Rev. Mr. Hincks it may be said to have emanated, and that it has conferred important benefits on the south of Ireland is evident; but at present, like many other chartered bodies, a lethargic, or rather an illiberal party-spirit seems to have benumbed the inclination to be of public service.
Three or four professors are attached to the Institution, each of whom delivers an annual course of lectures on various branches of
p.206natural history, chemistry, and agriculture, which being fashionable are numerously attended by the ladies. Its library also contains an excellent collection of scientific works; and the Museum (the only one in the city) possesses some minerals, and efforts have been made towards a geological arrangement of the specimens. In other branches of natural history the Museum is extremely defective, and its antiquities undeserving any notice. Several literary and scientific societies have recently sprung up in Cork, which have been spiritedly supported by young men whose abilities promise to excite a revolution favourable to the advancement of literature.