The clouds unfortunately turn their least beautiful sides towards the earth, and hence it is that a cloud-covered firmament seems so uniform and disagreeable. Had we that evening been able to raise ourselves above the clouds, we should doubtless have seen them beaming with light, and tinged with the most beautiful colours; but as it was, we beheld nothing but gray clouds piled upon each other, and we were not sorry, as night was setting in, and gradually changing this gray hue into a perfect black, to find ourselves in Tralee, where the warm glow of a cheerful fire in some measure restored our spirits.
We dined here on chickens, with bacon and ham, roast beef, Cheshire cheese, and celery, besides half-raw potatoes and watery cabbage, the usual fare in English and Irish inns, and which were far more excellent than one could have expected in such a remote place. There were four of us, and our conversation was such as usually passes in Great Britain between persons who are but slightly acquainted. May I trouble you for a bit of beef? I will trouble you for a little bacon? Shall I send you some chicken? Have you any choicethe wing or the breast? May I have the pleasure of taking wine with you? I shall be very happy. I'll trouble you for a potato. Here they are! Any more? Such was the common-place civility which unceasingly played across the table. When one listens to it for the first time, it sounds very pretty, stately, and ceremonious; but on a frequent repetition it appears excessively tedious and absurd.
Opposite to our inn was a house, in which, for that evening, a play had been announced, under the title of The Two Murderers. I went in honour of Herr von Sourcrouthagen, a German Baron, who was one of the dramatis personae; but unfortunately the baron was painted with too little talent and spirit to induce me to remain longer than the first act. It was not so much an exaggerated, as a bad imitation of the German baron; yet the stage gave me a contribution to my chapter on Irish rags.
p.128Some of the actors wore tattered clothes, thus proving that even on the stage this national peculiarity could not be laid aside. I believe that the lowest galantee-showman would not any where else have appeared in such garments.
An English fire, in an open hearth, reconciles one to everything, and banishes the recollection of bad weather, tedious conversation, and absurd plays. I therefore seated myself beside the genial flame, and taking up the map of Ireland, contemplated the form, and in particular the outline of the coasts, of this new land in which I found myself, and through the interior of which I intended yet to roam for some days.