- Slow as some miner saps th' aspiring tower,
When working secret with destructive aim,
Unseen, unheard, thus moves the stealing hour,
But works the fall of empire, pomp, and name.
Blarney, so famous in Irish song and story, is situated about four miles north-west of Cork, and was, within these few years, a thriving manufacturing village; but it no longer wears the aspect of comfort or of business, and appears much gone to decay.
The alteration struck me very forcibly. In 1815, I remember a large square of neat cottages, and the area, a green shaded by fine old trees. Most of the cottages are now roofless; the trees have been cut down, and on my last visit, in 1821, a crop of barley was ripening in the square.
- the clam'rous rooks
Ask for their wonted seat, but ask in vain!
Their ancient home is level'd with the earth,
p.292Never to wave again its leafy head,
Or yield a covert to the feather'd choir,
Who now, with broken song, remote and shy,
Seek other bowers, their native branches gone!
This prepared me to expect a similar change in the grounds of the castle, where much timber has been also felled; but the grounds still are beautiful, rock and water being features in the landscape, the picturesque effect of which neglect cannot injure.
The castle consists of a massive square tower, that rises broad and boldly above surrounding trees, on a precipitous rock over a stream called the Awmartin; and attached to the east side is an extensive dwelling-house, erected about a century since by Sir James Jeffreys, who purchased or obtained this estate from the crown, and in whose family it still continues.
Blarney Castle was built about the middle of the fifteenth century, by Cormac Mac Carty, or Carthy, surnamed Laider, or the Strong. He was descended from the Kings of Cork, and was esteemed so powerful a chieftain that the English settlers in his part of Munster paid him an annual tribute of forty pounds to protect them from the attacks and insults of the Irish. To him is also ascribed the building of the Abbey and Castle of Kilcrea, the Nunnery of Ballyvacadine, with many other religious houses; in the former of which he was buried. 40 It would be a matter of little importance and considerable labour to trace the Castle of Blarney from one possessor to another. The genealogical table in Keating's History of Ireland will enable those addicted to research to follow the Mac Carty pedigree; but a tiresome repetition of names, occasioned by the scantiness of them in an exceedingly numerous family, present continual causes of perplexity
p.293to the general reader. The names of Donough, Cormac, Teig, Florence, Dermot, Owen and Donnell, constitute almost the whole catalogue used by the Mac Carties for a period exceeding six hundred years. 41 This difficulty is heightened from the entire sept being, in point of fact, without a sirname, as the followers of most chieftains in Ireland as well as Scotland assumed that of their lord. In the reign of Edward IV. a statute was enacted, commanding each individual to take upon himself a separate sirname, either of his trade and faculty, or of some quality of his body or mind, or of the place where he dwelt, so that every one should be distinguished from the other. But this statute did not effect the object proposed, and Spenser, in his View of Ireland, mentions it as having become obsolete, and strongly recommends its renewal.
As a sketch of the history of the Muskery branch of the Mac Carty family affords an opportunity of illustrating many important events in the south of Ireland, perhaps no apology will be necessary for the introduction of it in the account of Blarney, which was their principal residence.
The original name of a sept or clan was Carty, supposed to be derived from Cartheigh, which signifies an Inhabitant of the Rock; and Mac, denoting son of, was used before the father's Christian name for the purpose of distinction, as, Mac Cormac Carty expressed Carty, son of Cormac; this manner of designation appears discontinued on the introduction of a greater variety of names, and the Mac alone retained by the elder branches.
It is also necessary to remark, that the title of Muskery was
p.294assumed by the chief of that district from being lord of the soil. This also creates much confusion, as the same person is frequently called Carty, Mac Carty and Lord Muskery; and when knighthood had been conferred, the title of Muskery was still retained with that of Sir, as, Cormac Mac Teig Carty, we find styled Sir Cormac Mac Teig Carty Lord Muskery. I offer as a matter of conjecture, that the title of Earl Clancarty, conferred on the Mac Carties by Charles II., had its origin in Lord of the Clan of Carty.
In 1542, an indenture of allegiance to the English laws was signed by Teig Mac Cormac Carty (Dom de Muskery) amongst other Irish chieftains; and in 1558, his son Dermod was knighted at Limerick on his submission, by Thomas Earl of Sussex, (the Lord Deputy,) who at the same time presented him with a gold chain and a gilt pair of spurs. This mark of favour was certainly merited, for the Muskery Mac Carties, unlike most other Irish clans, appear to have strictly maintained their faith with the English since the original submission of their ancestor the King of Cork to Henry II.
In 1580, Sir James of Desmond, brother to the notorious earl, entered the district of Muskery, probably stimulated, in addition to his love of plunder, by envy of Cormac Mac Teig Carty, whom the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, in a letter to the council of England, mentions, for loyalty and civil deportment, to be the rarest man that ever was born among the Irishry. Camden also notices him as a person of great name in Muskery, which is a wild and woody country. 42 But Sir James of Desmond sought his own destruction, as
p.295the Mac Carties not only defeated his party, leaving a hundred and fifty dead on the field, but took Sir James prisoner, who was delivered by order of the Lords Judges to Sir Warham St. Leger and Captain (afterwards Sir) Walter Raleigh, by whom, in virtue of a special commission directed to them, he was tried as a traitor, and, being found guilty, was executed, and his head and quarters fixed on the gates of Cork.
For this service Cormac Mac Teig Carty was knighted by the Lord Justice, and made High Sheriff of the County Cork, with a commission of martial law, and power to grant protection for fifteen days to any but principal rebels.
On the 21st October, 1601, Cormac Mac Dermod Carty, commonly called Lord Muskery, attacked the Spanish trenches at Kinsale, in command of a party of Irish, by order of Sir George Carew, (the Lord President,) and though at first he drove the invaders before him, yet his men soon retreated without much apparent cause, on which Sir William Godolphin (who went into Ireland with the unfortunate Earl of Essex) advanced and forced the Spaniards to retire. This circumstance, when so many Irish chieftains were in open rebellion, was sufficient to throw strong suspicions on the attachment of the Mac Carties to the English; and about the same time, Teg Mac Cormac Carty, cousin to the Lord Muskery, deserted from Sir George Carew's troop to the enemy; but shortly after, either through policy or repentance, he addressed a letter to the Lord President, dated from Carrigafuky, the 9th June, 1602; a copy of which may be found in the Pacata Hibernia, expressing contrition for his conduct, and requesting, through Sir George's mediation, to be received again to the Queen's favour.
The Lord President, naturally feeling that little dependence could be placed on such a person, gave a decided refusal to his petition, and Teg Mac Cormac Carty had recourse, for procuring his pardon, to the dishonourable means of betraying the confidence of his kinsman
p.296Lord Muskery, and accused him of corresponding with the Spanish and Italian governments, and of having received from the former eight thousand ducats, for which sum he had promised to deliver his Castle of Blarney into their hands.
This information corroborating that derived from other sources, and strengthened by many circumstances, completely served to establish Lord Muskery's disaffection in the mind of the President, who concluded on apprehending him as a traitor, yet dreaded using forcible measures, knowing his clan to be one of the most powerful in Ireland, and capable of offering an obstinate resistance which would doubtless receive foreign as well as internal support. Lord Muskery was stated to have a thousand well-armed followers in readiness for action, and it was known could command the services of the clans of Reardin, Murphy, and Sweeny of Muskery, with the O'Learies, O'Mahonies, and O'Driscolls of Carbery. He was also possessed of many castles, particularly those of Kilcrea, Macroom and Blarney, which latter is described, at that time, as being one of the strongest in the province of Munster; for it is four piles joined in one, seated upon a main rock, so as it is free from mining, the wall eighteen feet thick, and flanked at each corner to the best advantage.
Stratagem was therefore resorted to, and Sir Charles Wilmot and Captain Roger Harvey with part of their companies dispatched from Cork to endeavour and surprize Blarney, but in this they failed, the warders being on the alert, who compelled them to receive without the walls some refreshment which they requested.
Lord Muskery was, however, taken, and brought before the President and council at Cork. He repelled with indignation the charge of treasoncalled himself a slandered and injured mandeclared the whole a conspiracy of his enemiesand concluded, by renouncing all claim to favour or pardon if the charge could be supported by lawful testimony. The President replied coolly to his vehement protestations,
p.297and urged him, if guilty, freely to confess his guilt and entreat the Queen's mercy; or, if innocent, that he should deliver his Castle of Blarney into the hands of trustees, who would hold it until the charges against him were disproved. Lord Muskery hesitated, and was in consequence committed to gaol where he was detained heavily ironed. Finding himself so much in the Lord President's power, and perhaps somewhat intimidated by his temperate yet inflexible conduct, Lord Muskery at length consented to surrender up Blarney to Captain Taffe, in whom he reposed much confidence, on a promise of its being restored to him in an unaltered condition. His Abbey and Castle of Kilcrea were delivered to Capt. Francis Slingsbie, and a considerable force was sent under Captain Flower and Sir Charles Wilmot to reduce Macroom, from which, on account of its situation, an obstinate resistance was expected.
In the mean time Lord Muskery's wife and younger children were taken and confined at Cork, and his followers employed a confidential man named John O'Healy to convey the eldest son, Cormac Oge 43 Carty, (then a student at Oxford,) secretly from England, and to communicate with the Spanish government. The President, having received information of these plans, seized O'Healy on ship-board as he was leaving Cork Harbour, who, to prevent discovery, flung into the sea a bag containing his despatches and money, so that no secret was divulged, and no further proof than the act existed to criminate him. O'Healy was thrown into prison, and Lord Muskery more closely guarded than ever. If shackles of iron, walls of stone, and force of men can make him sure, said his gaoler in reply to the Lord President's charge, then shall my prisoner be forthcoming whensoever the state may be pleased to call for him. Sir George Carew's
p.298charge was repeated and enforced to the gaoler both by the Bishop of Cork and Dominick Sarsfield, the Queen's Attorney for Munster, who commanded him to keep Lord Muskery in a handlock with his own servant, or some soldier of especial trust. Two days after this last caution Lord Muskery escaped! He contrived, between eight and nine o'clock in the evening, to force himself out of a window and descend into the street, where were divers mantlemen to receive him. The alarm was given almost instantly and a vigorous pursuit commenced, but in vainfavoured by a dark night and with a perfect knowledge of the country, protected by a select band of men, (each of whom would have laid down his life in defence of their lord,) and surrounded by hundreds who were willing to favour and assist his flight, it is not surprising that having once passed the iron grate of his prison he should baffle even the most active pursuit. The President immediately issued letters to Sir Charles Wilmot (who still lay before Macroom) that if he could not gain the castle that night he should raise the siege and retreat the next morning; but almost in the same hour these orders arrived, Macroom Castle accidentally caught fire, and the besieged as a last resource took refuge in the bawn, where most of them (about fifty) were put to the sword.
On the news of Lord Muskery 's escape, O'Sullivan of Beare, Captain Terril and others in rebellion, offered to support him against the Lord President; but Lord Muskery, after a conference with the latter, considering that he had little prospect of ultimate success, and that both his family and estates were in the President's power, determined on making terms, and wrote requesting permission to throw himself at Sir George Carew's feet; which request was granted.
This submission was both sincere and permanent, as we find him and his clan shortly afterwards actively employed under Sir Charles Wilmot in various military exploits; and it would appear some confidence was placed in Lord Muskery, he being summoned to parliament as Baron of Blarney.
History is silent respecting the Mac Carties for about forty years. The first information, in the south of Ireland, of the insurrection of 1641, was communicated to Lord Cork, during dinner time, at Castle Lyons, his son-in-law the Earl of Barry more's house, where a large company of Irish chiefs were assembled. Donough, Lord Muskery, was amongst the number, and treated the account as an exaggerated tale; but the other guests, anticipating serious consequences, separated abruptly, and returned immediately to prepare their respective residences for defence. Lord Muskery's conduct on this occasion appears an act of the deepest dissimulation; for, in a few days, he was at the head of several thousand Irish. On the death of Sir William St. Leger, Lord Muskery, whom Ludlow styles an Irish rebel, assumed, or was appointed to the Presidency of Munster by Charles I., notwithstanding the solicitations and claims of Lord Inchiquin, son-in-law to the former President, for that office, which mortified Lord Inchiquin so much, that he immediately declared for the Parliament. The character of Lord Muskery during this distracting period, when the royal and parliament parties were subdivided into many others, that more than once changed sides, and fought against the banners under which they had first appeared, was marked by a love of discipline, a high sense of honour, and strong feelings of humanity. Personal bravery can scarcely be enumerated as a virtue, when every man of that day was of necessity a soldier; and Ireland presented a scene of petty and treacherous, certainly the most dreadful state of warfare. In the beginning of 1646, Lord Broghill, afterwards the celebrated Earl of Orrery, took the Castle of Blarney, which he seems subsequently to have occasionally made his quarters. A printed letter to William Lenthall, the Speaker, from Lord Broghill, is preserved in the British Museum, dated Blairney, 1st August, 1651, giving an account of a battle between him and Lord Muskery. Smith, in his History of Cork, also mentions a manuscript at Lismore
p.300in his lordship's own writing, containing an account of the same battle; which is exceedingly curious and interesting.
Muskery, who had been obliged to abandon his castles and retire from the parliamentary forces into the fastnesses of Kerry, made an attempt to relieve Limerick, which was closely besieged by Ireton, when Lord Broghill, after manoeuvring some days, intercepted him on his march near Courtstown, sometimes called Knocknaclashy.
The features of this action are so full of romantic reality, that I cannot pass them over without a short notice, though at the risk of my narrative being considered tedious. Broghill came up with the advanced part of Musker 's force about midnight, in the midst of a dreadful storm of rain and wind; and that night the opposing troops lay so near as to see each other's fires reciprocally. In the morning, Lord Broghill advanced and crossed the river Blackwater, when he was met by many groups of peasantry, some of whom he questioned as to the cause of their assembling, and received for answer, that it was to witness a battle which had long been prophesied should be fought on that ground. When his lordship asked them which side was to gain the victory, they shook their heads, and said, The English are to get the day.Our word, adds Lord Broghill, was prosperity their's, St. James our signall, white, in hatstheir's, greene fearne.
It was a desperately contested fight; at one time the Irish advanced on Lord Broghill's right wing with a thousand musketeers, and, to use his lordship's words, with their horse, fought horse head to horse head, hacking with their swords. Not a horse officer of the Irish, continues Lord Broghill, (except one) but he or his horse was killed or wounded. All the first rank in my squadron, being thirty-three, were either killed or wounded. We resolved not to give or take quarter; however, several had quarter after the battle.Among the baggage was found a peck full of charms, relicks, &c. besides an infinite quantity taken from the dead, with a peculiar one
p.301on paper, said to be the exact measure of Our Lady's foot, and written in it,Whoever wears this, and repeats certain prayers, shall be free from gun-shot, sword, and pike, respectively, as each desired. Like the battle of Naesby, from a fair day it rained hard during the fight, with thunder and lightning, and afterwards cleared up again. Lord Broghill tells us, that his boldest horse, being twice wounded, became so fearful, that he was turned to the coach.
From this account it is evident the conflict was sanguinary in the extreme. Muskery is reported to have escaped narrowly, and Lieutenant-Colonel Mac Gillicuddy, (who commanded young Muskery's regiment, and a man more popular than Muskery himself in his own country,) was made prisoner, with Major Mac Gillariagh, an old Spanish soldier, and other officers of note.
We had a very fair execution for above three miles, writes Lord Broghill, in his letter to the Speaker, and, indeed, it was bloody; for I gave orders to kill all, though some few prisoners, of good quality, were saved. All their foot field-officers charged on foot with pikes in their hands, so that few of them got off, it being too farre from any bogs or woods, which they say they selected purposely that their men might have no confidence but in their couragesbut we relyed on a better strength than the arm of flesh, and when their strength failed them, our's did not fail us. Their priests, all the way before they came to fight, encouraged them by speeches, but especially by sprinkling holy water on them, and by charms, of which I herewith send you a copy, 44 (many of them were found
p.302quilted in the doublets of the dead.) Certainly they are a people strangely given over to destruction, who, though otherwise understanding enough, let themselves be still deluded by ridiculous things and by more ridiculous persons. Had I been one of the charmed, I would have first tryed mine on the priest which gave it.
This battle hastened the surrender of Limerick to Ireton, who received Lord Broghill, on his arrival there, with a complimentary feu-de-joie. Shortly after, Lord Muskery was apprehended, and tried for his life, on the charge of having murdered several English, but, being acquitted, was allowed to pass into Spain, and an order was made by the commissioners for the parliament that Lord Muskery's lady should enjoy all her husband's estates, except a thousand a year, which had been granted to Lord Broghill, for his services, by order dated 8th September, 1656.
An exile, and deprived of fortune, Lord Muskery endeavoured to procure a commission in the French service, but was recalled on the Restoration, and the active part he had taken in the royal cause rewarded by his being created, in 1658, Viscount Muskery and Earl of Clancarty; and four years after, a bill of indemnity was passed by both houses of parliament, through the interest of Lord Ormond, securing all his honours and estates to him and his posterity, with the exception of that part in the possession of Lord Broghill, who had become a firm partizan of Charles II.
Lord Clancarty had three sonsCharles, Callaghan, and Justin. Charles, Lord Muskery, (a great favourite of the Duke of York, afterwards James II.) was killed in a sea-fight against the Dutch, on the 3d of June, 1665, and was buried with honours in Westminster
p.303Abbey. 45 His father survived him only two months, and the title of Clancarty descended, on the death of Charles James, the infant son of Lord Muskery, to his brother Callaghan, who had retired into a convent in France.Callaghan, the third Earl, was succeeded by his only son, Donough. He was educated at Oxford, under the Archbishop of Canterbury, and privately married, when not sixteen, to the Earl of Sunderland's daughter, after which he went into Ireland, where he continued a protestant until the arrival of James II.
James landed at Kinsale on Wednesday the 12th of March, 1688, and was received and entertained by Lord Clancarty, whom he created one of the Lords of his bed-chamber, and, by letters patent, clerk of the crown and peace for Munster. James also gave him a troop of horse, in command of which, he is charged with having committed many acts of wanton cruelty. On the Sunday following his arrival, James, supported by two Franciscan friars, and attended by Lord Clancarty and many priests in their orders, publicly heard mass performed in Cork; and Lord Clare, the governor, caused all protestants who remained in the city to be committed to prisonthe churches in Cork, the castles of Blarney, Macroom, and the others belonging to Lord Clancarty, being used as places of confinement.
On the surrender of Cork to the Duke of Marlborough, in 1691, Lord Clancarty, amongst others, was taken at the capture of the old fort, and, notwithstanding the exertions made by his father-in-law, the Earl of Sunderland, to procure his pardon, a representation, drawn up by Sir Richard Cox, (the historian, then second justice of
p.304the Common Pleas,) stating the excesses of which Lord Clancarty had been guilty, and the conspicuous part he had taken in support of the arbitrary measures of James, was not to be overruled, and the estates and title of Clancarty were declared forfeited to the crown.
It should be mentioned, to the honour of King William's government, that a considerable tract of the forfeited ground was granted to a poor butcher at Mallow, who had fallen a victim to Lord Clancarty's ferocity; the remainder was sold, with other property similarly circumstanced, at Chichester-house, Dublin: and the Sale Book is preserved in the library of the king's inns.
A pension of three hundred a year was allowed to this unfortunate nobleman, on condition of his leaving the kingdom. With this, says Smith, he retired to Hamburgh on the Elbe, and purchased a little island in the mouth of that river from the citizens of Altona, which went by his name. 46 There he erected a convenient dwelling-house, with a range of store-houses, and formed an useful garden. In this place he made a considerable profit by shipwrecks, but continued to give the distressed all the assistance in his power, and saved the lives of many. His profit arose from the goods thrown on his island, which he placed in his store-houses; and if demanded by the right owners, within the year, he returned them, requiring only two percent, for the store-room; if not, he made use of them as his own. He died here October 22, 1734, aged 64; leaving two sons, Robert, a captain in the English navy, commonly called Lord Muskery, and Justin Mac Carty, Esq. Lord Muskery, having fallen under suspicions of being attached to the House of Stuart, which had on a former occasion, remarks Charnock, in his Biographia Navalis,
p.305proved the ruin of his father, was ordered to be struck off the list of naval officers, on the 16th July, 1749: he afterwards entered into a foreign service.
Such is the history of the once powerful Mac Cartys of Muskery; that of the other branches of the same family, as well as of most Irish clans, closely resemble it; attainder, forfeiture of property and exile form the melancholy termination of each, and the circumstances and situations which have arisen and still arise out of such violent events are numerous and deeply affecting. Instances have occurred where the lineal descendants of the most distinguished houses have laboured from day to day for precarious support on the lands over which their ancestors exercised unlimited sovereignty. A pathetic incident connected with the Mac Cartys has such claims on the feelings that I will not conclude this narrative of their fortunes without the mention of it. A considerable part of the forfeited estates of that family, in the county Cork, was held by Mr. S[...] about the middle of the last century. Walking one evening in his demesne, he observed a figure, apparently asleep, at the foot of an aged tree, and, on approaching the spot, found an old man extended on the ground, whose audible sobs proclaimed the severest affliction. Mr. S- inquired the cause, and was answeredForgive me, sir; my grief is idle, but to mourn is a relief to the desolate heart and humbled spirit. I am a Mac Carry, once the possessor of that castle, now in ruins, and of this ground;this tree was planted by my own hands, and I have returned to water its roots with my tears. Tomorrow I sail for Spain, where I have long been an exile and an outlaw since the Revolution. I am an old man, and to-night, probably for the last time, bid farewell to the place of my birth and the home of my forefathers.
The military and historic recollections connected with Blarney are doubtless of sufficient importance to give an interest to the place: but to a curious superstition it is perhaps more indebted for celebrity.
p.306A stone in the highest part of the castle wall is pointed out to visitors, which is supposed to give to whoever kisses it the peculiar privilege of deviating from veracity with unblushing countenance whenever it may be convenienthence the well-known phrase of Blarney.
The grounds attached to the castle, as I before observed, though so little attended to, are still beautiful. Walks, which a few years since were neat and trim, are now so overrun with brambles and wild flowers as to be passed with difficulty. Much wood has also been cut down, and the statues, so ridiculously enumerated in a popular song, removed. A picturesque bridge too, which led to the castle, has been swept away by the wintry floods, and, with the exception of a small dell called the Rock Close, every thing seems changed for the worse. In this romantic spot nature and art (a combination rather uncommon in pleasure grounds) have gone hand in hand. Advantage has been taken of accidental circumstances to form tasteful and characteristic combinations; and it is really a matter of difficulty at first to determine what is primitive, and what the produce of design. The delusion is even heightened by the present total neglect. You come most unexpectedly into this little shaded nook, and stand upon a natural terrace above the river, which glides as calmly as possible beneath. Here, if you feel inclined for contemplation, a rustic couch of rock, all festooned with moss and ivy, is at your service; but if adventurous feelings urge you to explore farther, a discovery is made of an almost concealed, irregularly excavated passage through the solid rock, which is descended by a rude flight of stone steps, called the Witches' Stairs, and you emerge sul margine d'un rio, over which depend some light and graceful trees. It is indeed a fairy scene, and I know of no place where I could sooner imagine these little elves holding their moonlight revelry.
A short distance to the south west of the castle is a lake, said to abound with a species of leech. It does not afford one good subject
p.307for the pencil, being without islands, the margin swampy, and the adjacent trees planted with two much attention to regularity. It is a very generally believed tradition that, before Blarney surrendered to King William's forces, Lord Clancarty's plate was made up in an oaken chest, which was thrown into this lake, and has not since been recovered; nor does this appear improbable, as I understand repeated attempts have in vain been made to drain it. In 1814, the late Mr. Milliken, whose well-known song of the Groves of Blarney has identified his memory with the place, gave me a clumsy silver ring for the finger, which had been taken out of the lake by a boy who was fishing in it. About the same time, the signet ring of Donogh Mac Carty More was sold by a peasant to a watchmaker in Cork named Brooks, from whom I obtained an impression, and which is copied double the size of the original.
Since I am on the subject of discoveries, it may be worth notice that, in a quarry close to the castle, where some men were working, we picked up several human bones, and that one of the labourers informed us so many as twenty horse loads of these bones had been thrown into the lake; he also spoke of two or three spear-heads being found with them. Groats and pennies of the Edwards and Henries have frequently been dug up here; but I believe never in any quantity.
The interior of the castle contains little worth notice except a full length portrait of Charles XII. of Sweden, said to be an original, and brought here by one of the Jeffreys family who was envoy to that monarch.
At Killowen, near Blarney, the Rev. James De la Cour was born, whose Prospect of Poetry, unfortunately for him, was much admired. It is reported that some complimentary lines addressed
p.308to him on this publication, by Thomson, the author of the Seasons, commencing with Hail, gently warbling De la Cour,
James Thomson, The Seasons London: Henry Woodfall for A. Millar (1744)affected his reason, so as to render him guilty of many irregularities, for which he was deprived of his gown.
The Prospect of Poetry (evidently an imitation of Pope) was first published in 1?33, and has since been reprinted in Cork more than once, with some of De la Cour's other poems, the beauties and faults of which closely resemble those of the compositions on which they were modelled.
Many epigrams by Dr. De la Cour are exquisitely satirical: but few are to be seen in print owing to their being founded chiefly on temporary and local circumstances, and most of them consequently requiring a long prosaic introduction. Many are known to me, and, as a fair example, I select one, the history of which has been orally preserved.
De la Cour frequented a coffee-house kept by a man named Connor, who had been servant to Mr. Carleton, a merchant distinguished in Cork by the nickname of King Carleton, on account of his wealth and influence, and who patronised his old servant.
Connor, soon after he had commenced business, married a daughter of the city jailor, and the poet, having accumulated a long bill, was refused further credit by the prudent landlady. When De la Cour inquired indignantly for Jack Connor, he was haughtily answered by his spouse with Is it Mr. Connor you ask for, sir? Upon my honour I don't know where he is, unless with Frank Carleton! This was about the time of the breaking out of the American war, and on that occasion civic politics ran high. Two addresses were drawn up to the government, called the Pro and Con; the one principally signed by the corporation, expressive of their willingness to support the cause of England with their lives and fortunes; the other was
p.309from the merchants, praying for pacific measures, and stating how injurious war would be to the commercial prosperity of the nation. Mr. Connor, to make himself popular, signed both, and was of course despised by both sides of the question. Soon after, severe losses on extensive speculations caused the failure of Mr. Carleton; and Connor, finding himself involved with his patron, became also a bankrupt, when De la Cour is said to have chalked the following lines on a window-shutter of his coffee-house:
- So now, Dame Jail,
Your pride must fail,
Likewise your boasted honour,
For 'Frank' is gone,
And 'Pro and Con'
Are signed by 'Mr. Connor.'
Another epigram of De la Cour's I copy from a Cork newspaper of the time: occasioned by the capture of the Bellona, a French frigate of thirty-two guns, by the Vestal of the same force:
- In vain Bellona mounts the Gallic gun
To take the honour of the British Nun;
Chaste as she lives, so brave she will expire,
There's no extinguishing a Vestal's fire.