On my return to the Irish capital, my first visit was to that man whom every stranger in Dublin must be equally eager to see as he would the Pope, if in Rome,I mean the man whom in Kerry they call King by courtesy, or in joke,who was then Lord Mayor of Dublin,who is designated throughout all Ireland the Immortal and the Great Agitator, and for whom they have in London so many other names. It is certainly a pleasure to be able to converse for a quarter of an hour with a man so clever, so experienced, so distinguished, talented, and intelligent, and who, within the walls of his own house, is such an agreeable and hospitable host. But I will speak as little of O'Connell in his private capacity as I would of the private character of any other man I became acquainted with. Many individuals are unknown beyond the narrow circle of their private life, and these belong entirely to themselves; others, again, appear on the stage of public life, as actors, as authors, or as statesmen, and thus, in some measure, lay themselves open to criticism. Such men, so long as they wear the costume of the part they have assumed, it is allowable to judge, and speak of freely and openly, without committing any breach of decorum. Nay, one may even be their determined public enemy,
p.258and at the same time be their sincere friend in private, or at least feel no further hostility towards them.
O'Connell, in proportion as he has made himself more public, has retained less of himself for himself than any other man in England. He every where gives himself up to the gaze and judgment of the public, whether in parliament or at public meetings, in the streets, at elections, or in travelling. He scarcely ever ceases to lead a public life, and almost every thing he does is done before the eyes of hundreds or thousands. Peel, Wellington, and other great statesmen, hide themselves in the mysteries of their bureaux and cabinets, from which they issue forth in their public measures, and in person only in parliament, or at public dinners. O'Connell, the tribune of the people, is almost public property, flesh and bone; he even speaks of his domestic concerns at his popular meetings, for he is enabled to support his house and his family only through the indirect assistance of the public.
Whoever travels in Germany, or in any other country, for geographical or ethnographical purposes, and wishes only to make himself acquainted with the character of the country and its inhabitants, need not trouble himself much about the personal characteristics of our distinguished men. To travel in Ireland for the same purposes, and to remain ignorant of O'Connell,the man who, as Atlas supports the earth, has taken the entire emerald isle on his shoulders,is next to impossible; for he is himself an ethnographical phenomenon, partly because for thirty years he has exercised an extraordinary influence over the formation of the character and the condition of his nation, and partly because he himself and his power is another phenomenon, which can only be explained by the character of Irish nationality.
The Irish are a people after the old model, a people almost without a counterpart in the world. In Germany, we have every where become too enlightened and too self-dependent for any individual to be able to raise himself to such preponderating authority. We laugh at all who call themselves prophets; but among the Irish the old faith in saints and miracles still exists. Here alone the mighty, the immortal, and the great still find a fertile soil, whence to obtain laurels and a halo. The Irish are enthusiastic, credulous, blind, innocent as children, and patriotic, so that they are ready to abandon themselves to the most ardent admiration of a talented individual, and to raise him aloft on their shields and shoulders, as the Romans were wont to elevate their generals. They are also unhappy, and desirous to be relieved from their sufferings, and their full, wounded hearts are consequently ever ready to applaud and shower down praises on him
p.259who manifests sympathy in their wrongs and devotion in their cause.
In a well-regulated state, among an enlightened, well-governed people, where every one possesses some knowledge, and where every one has sufficient for his wants, the elevation of such a tribune of the people would be a pure impossibility. It was not till Rome's infima plebs began to sink in misery and vice, that the tribunes of the people made their appearance on the stage. In Ireland, there are more miserable poor beings, without rights and without property, than in any other country in the world; and it is therefore a soil suited for the production of talented, active, eloquent tribunes like O'Connell. For thirty years has O'Connell represented the vigorous and unwearied arm of Ireland, which, during the whole of that period, has been threatening England, and with which she is again wresting her plundered natural rights, one after the other, from the flames of an English parliament lighted to consume them.
I am not vain enough to suppose that I can furnish a complete portrait of a man so remarkable as O'Connell, and I will not, therefore, attempt a task for which I feel myself incompetent. I will, however, endeavour to present those of my readers who have not had an opportunity of personally witnessing a muster, or even a company, of the Emerald Legion, (as O'Connell, in his poetic flights, often calls his repealers,) with a faithful picture of such a meeting, accompanied with a few remarks on some of those individuals so often mentioned in the newspapers, who were present on this occasion. It was one of the usual repeal meetings, summoned by O'Connell to keep the fire of agitation alive among the people, and was held in the hall of the Corn Exchange. Although I arrived at the hour appointed, I found the hall already crowded to suffocation. Judging from external appearance, I concluded that the assemblage was entirely composed of such men from the counties of Kerry, Clare, and Kildare, as I had seen in their proper costume of rags in the interior of the country. To my great astonishment, very few whole coats, and not many we would call orderly and comfortable citizens, were to be seen. They were all standing or sitting on benches, ranged round the walls of the hall in an amphitheatrical form. In the middle was a table, at which some clerks and reporters were seated. A gallery which ran round the room was filled with women, boys, and girls. Perceiving that there was still some room at the table in the middle of the hall, I endeavoured to force my way to it, and instantly found a multitude of helping arms, by whose good-natured assistance I was elevated above their heads, and passed over the railing
p.260that surrounded the table, at which I then seated myself. Rags and lappets hung down every where over the railing; for tattered clothes composed the almost universal uniform of the Emerald Legion. I do not mean to say any thing slanderous, hard hearted, or incompassionate of these poor people, who could procure no better uniform for this solemn meeting; but merely to attest the fact, that most of O'Connell's repeal friends were arrayed in rags. Next morning, however, I read in the Dublin papers that yesterday's repeal meeting was very respectably attended, which I conclude, from the usual omission of these words, was not always the case. The entire assembly presented such an appearance as is only seen in France or Germany when the lowest turbid strata of society is thrown up by the fury of a political hurricane. Nay, even in times of revolution, any thing like it would be sought for in vain amongst us.
At the end of the table was an elevated seat for the chairman, and another for O'Connell at its side. Over the chairman's seat waved a green flag, on which the words Repeal! Repeal! Repeal! were embroidered in letters of gold. On the walls of the hall, as is usually the case in England on similar occasions, were several mottoes, such as the following:
That people which does not desire to make its own laws, desires slavery, and deserves slavery.
He who commits a crime increases the strength of our enemies.
Repeal is Erin's right and God's decree.
It is one of the most remarkable characteristics of the national character of the British and their political constitution, and one which has not been sufficiently admired by foreigners, that an agitation almost bordering on revolt can be borne and suffered by both, without their receiving any essential injury. O'Connell's uninterrupted career of thirty or forty years, as the popular tribune and agitator of Ireland, is not more strongly illustrative of the extreme craftiness of this able man, who, although ever verging on the extreme limits of the law, yet never oversteps them, than it is of the political freedom and national character of the whole British people, as well as of their ministers and statesmen, in whose side O'Connell must be a most vexatious thorn, and the greatest stumbling-block, whilst they have never yet ventured on a single step beyond what the law allows, or injured a single hair of his head. I will not here inquire whether it would be possible, either in France or Germany, for such an individual to persevere in a similar course of agitation for so long a time, without entering a prison or being brought to the guillotine but I will
p.261turn to the free republics of Greece and Rome, and ask what were the ends and destinies of the popular tribunes of those states? I do not believe that in either of those republics an instance can be found of a man being able to raise and support with impunity so unheard-of a storm, against such vast aristocratic power, so long as O'Connell has contended against the aristocracy of England and Ireland. It seems to me that in this respect his case is unparalleled in history, while he is but the second who never changed his attitude. He was the agitator and man of the people thirty years ago, and the agitator and man of the people he still is. He never gave up his part, like those Roman tribunes of old who all ended in attempting to grasp the kingly crown. I do not, however, here overlook the fact, that O'Connell is yet alive, and that I should not beatify him before his death. That this phenomenon has already continued for thirty years is a wonder unheard-of till now.
The shouting and cheers in the street, and the rolling of a carriage, announced the approach of the Lord Mayor, who soon after entered, accompanied by the chairman, whose name I do not remember. I must tell the truth: I was, I think, quite free from prejudice against O'Connell, but he appeared to me somewhat comical in his lord mayor's costume. The splendid red fur-lined robe, and the long double gold chain,22 methought did not at all become him: at least in London I saw a Lord Mayor whom all this finery became much better. This is no reproach to O'Connell, for there are many mighty spirits not made for uniforms. The cheers with which he was received were extremely animated, and each of the captains of the Emerald Legion was also received with great cheering. Men, women, and children, all shouted and joined in the noise. Among these captains none attracted my attention more
p.262than Tom Steele, who is almost as celebrated as O'Connell himself; although, without O'Connell, he would probably be as little known as the satellites of Jupiter if there were no Jupiter. This man, I was told, had wasted no inconsiderable property, solely in agitating. He is now poor, and only more devoted to the cause for which he has sacrificed his fortune. Tom Steele forcibly reminded me of Bardolph, Pistol, and Nym's companions, or perhaps, rather of Corporal Bardolph himself. He has the long meagre figure of a corporal, with a regular red Bardolph nose; his features, however, at least at present, are somewhat more care-worn and melancholy than Shakspere's corporal. His appearance denotes a man of little or no education, and when he speaks it is altogether inconceivable how he can ever have obtained any influence or reputation among the people, except it be through gratitude for the money he has expended in their cause. Whether this man has other internal, nobler qualities which were hidden from me, I know not; but so much is certain, that I have not gone a hair's-breadth too far in my description of him. Falstaff blames Prince Henry for the bad company in which he finds him; and I must say Tom's physiognomyjudging merely from its appearancewas one in whose society I would rather not have seen O'Connell.
The room again resounded with the cheers of the multitude, in welcome of John O'Connell, the amiable son of the Liberator, as he was repeatedly called in the speeches that followed. The sons and sons-in-law of O'Connell all stand by their fatherthey are all agitators and repealers. Nay, even his little grandsons lend their aid to the cause; and very lately O'Connell had his twenty-first or twenty-second grandson made a member of the Repeal Association immediately after his birth. On that occasion he said, he was an old man and might soon die, but that he would inoculate all his own and Ireland's children and their children's children with repeal. John O'Connell, (after his father, one of the most distinguished members of the family,) has externally little resemblance to the repeal patriarch. He is smaller and more delicately formed than his sire, whose features are all a little too broad, and his countenance is by no means so remarkable. According to the general opinion, he is very talented, and deserving of esteem. What I heard him say was very pertinent to the subject, and he spoke more fluently than any other person who addressed the meeting.
The chairman having opened the proceedings with a short speech, next read the minutes of the previous meeting, and then announced various contributions to the repeal rent, which were deposited in a box on the table appropriated for their reception.
p.263Letters were also read from persons of distinction who expressed themselves favourable to repeal.
John O'Connell then rose, and gave an account of a journey through the interior of Ireland, from which he had just returned. He described the magnificent meetings he had attended at Balliwatobber, Ballinmormagh, Kilkerrin, Kilbirry, and other equally distinguished places, where he found all the most respectable inhabitants most determined anti-unionists, and devoted, soul and body, to the repeal cause! Many priests had promised their support; and he calculated that, on the whole, at least 50,000 persons had pledged themselves for repeal at the various meetings he had attended.
Then arose Dan himself, and adjusted his wig. In the heat of his speech he often accidentally touches his wig, sometimes pushing it off a little, and then pulling it down again into its proper position on the other side. It is said that he even took off this wig at a public meeting and exhibited his bald head. On the occasion alluded to he had severely criticized the conduct of a gentleman of the party opposed to him, and, indulging in witticisms on his personal appearance, had given him to understand that he was not the most handsome man in Dublin. This gentleman replied, that so far as beauty or ugliness was concerned, he believed Dan owed all his beauty to his wig, and that if he were to take it off he would perhaps be still uglier than the speaker. At this the people began to laugh, and looked at O'Connell for his reply. Dan did not take long to consider, but actually took off his wig, and exposed his bald head, at the same time remarking, that as his opponent wished to see his bare head, he was ready to favour him with a view of it; it had become bald in the service of his country, and therefore he was neither ashamed nor sorry for it; whilst his fellow-countrymen would feel greater pleasure in seeing his uncovered head, bald and ugly as it might be, than with the wig on it. By this ready tact, and the fearless, frank disregard of himself thus displayed, he turned the laughter and the sympathy of the audience to his own side.
Besides this manoeuvre with the wig, he indulges in some other little habits while speaking. For instance, he hops or turns about on his heels as on a pivot, and even jumps up with his whole body. Every standing speaker, I believe, does this more or less, though not at such regular intervals as O'Connell. In the French Chamber of Deputies there are individuals, especially persons of small stature, who at certain emphatic parts of their speeches raise themselves on the extreme tips of their toes, and stand thus for a long time, as if they would fly after their own
p.264fervent words. With O'Connell, however, as I have said, the motion is rather a little jumping and turning about on his heels. Even his son does the same, probably through involuntary imitation of his father. With this movement, O'Connell is for ever slightly changing his position, so that if he were previously facing the left side of the assembly, after a few moments he turns his face towards the right, and after another short interval he again turns round. There appeared to me something mechanical and automatical in this constant twisting and turning of his person. Whilst speaking, he also makes great use of his hands, in order to give increased emphasis to his words, sometimes striking the table, or any other object near him. On the present occasion the arm of the president's chair was thus operated upon, and in order to devote it more entirely to O'Connell's service, the person by whom it was occupied had squeezed himself up into one corner of his seat.
Although O'Connell's language is very clear and precise, still he does not speak so fluently as his son: he sometimes hesitates, thinks, and repeats himself; but all this ceases when he becomes warm and enthusiastic. What struck me most, was that he possessed so much of the Irish brogue. He did not, it is true, say repale, like Tom Steele, and some others who were present; but he pronounced the English th almost like d, as, for example, de wishes, with some other Irish peculiarities of accent. This brogue is so difficult to be lost, that the most refined Irishmen always retain a portion of it, which is very unpleasant to English ears; and it is said that even the Duke of Wellington cannot wholly divest himself of it.
The theme of O'Connell's discourse was that of all his speeches for forty years, yea, of his entire life, of all his thoughts and laboursthe oppression of Ireland by the Saxon. To have heard one of his speeches, is to have heard them all; for not only is the subject, but also the leading thoughts, and even the principal phrases, almost invariably the same. He repeats, over and over again, certain violent expressions and claptraps, the effect of which on his auditory he knows by experience, and which they are never tired of hearing and applauding. Some of these effective words, which never fail in the desired effect, are Erin, Poor Erin, and the Emerald Isle Bravo! bravo! hurrah! immediately resounds from every bench as soon as he utters them. Then, the Saxons,for honourable as this name is, in and per se, yet in the mouths of the Irish it has become a term of reproach by which to designate the EnglishO'Connell usually calls the English, at least when speaking of their unjust or violent deeds in Ireland, the Saxons, at the same time laying a very strong emphasis on the letter a.
p.265This word is always applauded. Repeal also, though it occurs many hundreds of times in his speeches, is regularly cheered. In like manner he often speaks of the Spirit of Ireland, or of the Genius of Ireland, and sometimes even introduces religious expressions, as the Almighty, the blood of the Redeemer, whereon he assumes a serious and reverential look, and all his hearers uncover their heads, for I had forgotten to mention that they had all kept on their hats or ragged caps. Tom Steele wore a little low cap, which, however, did not prevent me from observing that he possesses the remarkable power of moving the whole skin of his head, with his hair, cap and all, backwards and forwards. Some people can even move the ear, and some the entire scalp: the latter Tom Steele does, and while speaking is also continually licking his lips, I believe, through mere embarrassment.
As certain words and thoughts recur over and over again in O'Connell's speeches, like the white horse in the pictures of Wouvermanns, or the waterfall in those of Ruysdael, so there are certain things which always make their appearance at the repeal meetings. Letters from distant individuals are read, applauding and encouraging the repealers; facts calculated to awaken patriotism for Ireland, and hatred against England, are hunted out from Irish history; reports of repeal meetings, held in the provincial towns, are pompously communicated, in order to strengthen the enthusiasm of those present; money contributed for the repeal cause is handed in, and some suitable remarks, thanks, and praises bestowed on the givers. Finally, whenever it is possible, some total stranger, from a distant country, as from America, is introduced, who makes a speech, or at least says a few words, declaring his own and his country's sympathy for Ireland. O'Connell himself regulates the whole, accompanying every incident and every event with a few suitable remarks, some high-sounding expressions to excite Irish patriotism, and various thrusts and cuts at England.
England, said he, has every where been for slavery. Whithersoever we turn our eyes, England has reduced the nations to bondage. In Asia she has made slaves of a hundred millions of freemen. In Africa there are English slaves. Around Australia she has wound her chains. It is the nature and the character of England to subject and to make slaves of all nations, far or near, that are not able to resist her. Even Ireland, our beautiful, our unhappy Ireland, our holy island(Bravo! bravo! hurrah!)is the most striking example of England's love of despotism and tyranny. For six hundred years the Saxons(Bravo!)have exerted all their powers for nothing but our
p.266total oppression, to plunder us for their own advantage, completely to annihilate our nationality, and to make us the willing servants of their despotic commands. For who, I ask you, is the cause of our being poor, and of our not being able to feed ourselves, and to clothe ourselves, better than we do? Who, I ask?(The Saxons! replied a loud, strong voice from one of the galleries.) Yes, the Saxons are the cause of it! Who is the cause of so many, many personsI shudder to say itperishing yearly of hunger in our fruitful land?(The Saxons! roared the same voice.) The Saxons, repeated O'Connell. Who has nipped our manufactures and our industry in the bud? The Saxons! Who has checked our once so flourishing intellectual development, which was formerly so greatly in advance of that of the rest of Europe? The Normans, and their brothers the Saxons! Who has hitherto prevented us from taking that rank among the nations of Europe, to which, by our natural position, and the talents God has given us, we are so justly entitled? And who is it that has made the name of Irishman less respected throughout the entire world than the name of Frenchman, Spaniard, or German?(The Saxons! again thundered the voice, now accompanied by several others.) Yes, the Saxons! the English! Despotic England is the cause of all this!
America, too, the English once held in similar bondage; but the Americans have thrown off the yoke, and are now, to the regret of the English, a free, mighty nation. I do not say that we ought to follow the example of America in its entire extent, for to employ force is not our object. We can gain our purpose by the peaceful means of a legal opposition. I am against, and declare myself completely opposed to, the employment of physical force. I am aware there are some amongst us who have recommended the employment of force; but I hope that, on calm and reasonable reflection, they will agree with me, and allow that I am right, when I assert that were we to have recourse to physical force, we would only totally ruin our righteous cause. I do not like force, and I will not hear any more of it. Nay, I would rather withdraw myself from the stage of public life altogether, and spend the remainder of my days in undisturbed retirement, than have any thing to do with men who recommend such illegal and unadvisable means for obtaining such just demands. (No applause here.) I wish therefore not to be misunderstood, when I allude to the example of America. I would only wish you to imitate the Americans in their love of freedom and of fatherlandin their persevering opposition to English tyranny, and in their manly resistance to attacks on their rights as citizens and
p.267men; but at the same time I do not recommend you to imitate the mode of their resistance, which was a bloody and an armed one. We can attain our object merely by assuming a menacing attitudeby constant and sustained watchfulness of our own interestsby continually exciting hatred against England, tyrannical England! and love for our own Ireland, our beautiful, much-to-be-pitied Ireland!
The greater numbers we can warm with the fire of enthusiasm for our cause, the better we can prove to ourselves, to the English, and to the entire world, the atrocious wrong that England has done, and continues to do us, and the stronger hope is there that we will obtain a majority in parliament, and, through that majority, justice for Ireland! For this purpose, be active and watchful. Associate, agitate, and stand by me. Give me the means of continuing the war which I have been waging for you during forty years. Yes, for forty years have I striven and fought against despotism, against bigotry, against the Tories, against England, and for Ireland(hear! hear!)and every true-hearted Irishman(cheers)loves me the better for it. For forty years have I wished for but one thing, striven for but one cause,to obtain justice for Ireland, and to shake off the tyranny of England. And has my struggle of so many long years been in vain? Have we not obtained the abolition of the infamous old penal laws against the Catholics? Have we not obtained seat and voice in parliament? Do we not now share in the municipal government of our own towns? Our successes have as yet been glorious; let them inspire you with confidence that this last demandrepealwhich is to crown our entire work, will be granted, must be granted. For not till then,till we have repeal, till as an independent nation we may stand on an equal footing with England,not till then will Ireland flourish, not till then will any thing prosper here; but when that period arrives, all the blessings which the Almighty(here all pulled off their caps)has bestowed on our lovely Erin, our holy island, will unfold themselves, and contribute to our enjoyment.(Hear, hear! exclaimed or rather grunted Tom Steele, who is one of Dan's criers of hear, hear!) There is but one means for the complete rescue of Ireland, and that is repeal: but one thing on which the welfare of all depends,repeal! With repeal you will be happy, with repeal you will become rich, with repeal you will obtain all that you desire and, strive for. Therefore so long as I live I will cry repeal! and you too, as long as you live, must join in the cry. (Bravo! bravo! hurrah! repeal! repeal!)
You ask me who will obtain repeal for you? I tell you, I
p.268will obtain it for you. Yes, I say, I offer the people of Ireland repeal(Bravo! bravo!)and I assure you, that if you desire to have it, you shall have it. I will procure for Ireland the opportunity to obtain her repeal; and if she wishes for it, she need only stretch out her hand and grasp it. How often has England already deceived us? How often already have I been promised, by the ministers and by the parliament of England, that the demands of Ireland should be heardthat all the wrongs that gall her should be redressed? How often then did I delay, did I preach patience to you, calm you, and entreat you to listen to the promises of England? You obeyed me: you were quiet and silent; and Ireland waited to receive from England, as a magnanimous boon, that which she might have demanded, as her own just right. But England has never availed herself of the opportunity which I procured her for displaying her greatness and her magnanimity. When I and Ireland were silent, she forgot her promises, and the old wrongs were continued. They were unredressed by the Whigs, who were for a time my friends; and now, as the Tories are again at the helm, they are still less likely to be redressed. Repeal! I therefore exclaim, and once more repealenergetic, individual, total repeal, is the only thing that can help us; and we must endeavour, as quickly and as vigorously as possible, to organize repeal and agitation throughout the entire country. Remember that your worst enemies, the Tories, are now again uppermost; that you have now no longer any thing to expect from the good-will of England; and that all your hopes now rest on England's enemies, on England's weakness, and on yourselveson yourselves and on me, I confidently add. Believe me, I am watching Peel's every step; and as long as I live, I swear it, he shall not trample on, he shall not crush Ireland. I will every where throw myself in his way, and whithersoever he goes, he shall find me in his path. Confide in me. I am prepared for, and will take advantage of, every emergency. And in fact, I have no want of emergencies, and never shall; for fear not that Robert Peel is the man to throw dust in my eyes. He commits blunder after blunder; and even if he were less destitute of intellect than he is, his position is so difficult that he could scarcely avoid making blunders. Believe me, I will watch his smallest motions and turn his blunders to your advantage.(Loud cheering.) Maybe you think I am growing old and weak. Perhaps my body is; but believe me, my love for Ireland will never become oldmy zeal in our patriotic cause will never tire. No! on the contrary, the more of my allotted years I see departing, the more will I collect my strength; the more will I make it my whole endeavour to
p.269crown my life with that result which I have had in view as long as I have drawn breath; and perhaps at the very moment that I am sinking into my grave, Ireland's grave will open, and the Genius of Erin will arise, freed from the chains of England. I am growing old and feeble; but look at England! England too is growing old and feeble. Are not the disturbances of the manufacturers, which revel in her inmost vitals, a manifest sign of her downfall? Has not her hour arrived in India? Is she not involved in an expensive war with China, the termination of which no one can foresee? Will she be able to free herself from all these difficulties? England's infirmity is Ireland's opportunity! England's weakness is Ireland's strength !(Cheers.) When India, when China, when all the enemies of England conquer, then Ireland will appear a much-to-be-desired friend. In Europe, too, England has nought but enemies: France, Russia, Denmark, Germany, are all foes of England and friends of Ireland. England has the antipathy of all nations, for she has wronged them all at various times. Ireland has the sympathy of all nations, for she has suffered more than all of them from England's love of wrong. Believe me, therefore, and only look about you: England is becoming feeble: she will become compliant, she must become compliant; and our cause, our repeal, our happiness, and our prosperity is the nearer, the nearer and the greater is England's adversity. Most important for us are the commotions in England herself, which are to be explained by nothing else but by a widespread calamity. A gangrene gnaws at England's vitals; and this gangrene, this sickness of England, is Ireland's health. England requires our friendship: she will yet come and beg for it. She shall have it; but not until she does us justice, till she gives us repeal, and acknowledges us as a brother nation. The period when England will do this is no longer distant. I see the hour of Ireland's liberation already drawing nigh. It is very near. Yes! I may say the inspiration of that hour is already upon methat beautiful, glorious, and longed-for hour, when Erin's genius will arise from her prison-house, and be allowed to shower down all the blessings and gifts on our island which she has intended for all her children, and which she has hitherto kept back only because her hands were manacled by England. Be only united! Stand firmly together! Forget, at least till we get repeal, all differences of opinion, all party disputes: for 'tis repeal we all need. Remain faithful to your beautiful, lovely land, to this charming green island, which calls upon you, her children, again to make her a nation. Listen to the voice of the beautiful streams of your island, which call on youlisten to the voices
p.270which resound from the mountains, from the hills, and from the valleys,which call out to you, Stand firm! stand firm! and make yourselves a nation again!
While O'Connell uttered these last words, the entire assembly became still and motionless; and the oftener he repeated these listens, the deeper the silence seemed to become; but when he stopped to take breath, and to pass on to something else, then the assembly breathed again, and burst forth into an universal shout of applause that I thought would never terminate. He then sat down, and a bunch of grapes was handed to him which he shared with his son; but he arose again on several occasions, in order to accompany every little incident and transaction with his remarks and suggestions. For instance, when a very little boy, about eight years of age, stepped forward, and handed in £4, which his schoolfellows had contributed to the repeal rent, and which they had deputed him to present, O'Connell gave his hand to the boy, after having first taken off his hat, and inquired his name, which he communicated to the meeting, and then addressed some words of kindness to the young repealer. It was a strange sight to see the pretty little child standing opposite this cunning old foxfor it cannot be denied that O'Connell has something extremely sly about him.
Next came a contribution from the women of Limerick. To these ladies, too, O'Connell was obliged to say something complimentary. He observed that now-a-days the ladies of Limerirk were genuine, sincere, thorough repealers, and that they had long ago won themselves the fairest and most renowned distinction as patriotic Irishwomen, at the famous siege of Limerick, in 1690, in the reign of William III., when they defended a bridge against the English, on which occasion not less than 500 Saxons were massacred.(Ha! bravo! bravo!) Here Tom Steele arose and proposed three cheers for the sons of Limerick, and for Limerick's beautiful daughters, which were given with thunders of applause. Then O'Connell gave a minute account of the brilliant reception which he met with in his last visit to Limerick, and how many hundreds of converts he had made on that occasion. After that came a contribution from Galway; upon which O'Connell spoke in praise of Connaught. He said that truer Irish hearts did not beat any where than there; nay, that there was the home of the most Irish Irishmen; but he also knew that many of the large graziers and proprietors of extensive pasture lands in that province dreaded a separation from England, because they imagined that after the repeal of the Union, England would lay a duty on the import of Irish cattle.
I believe, continued he, that this is an empty fear, and it is no reason why they should wish to check repeal; for, in one word, do you imagine that after the repeal of the Union the English will be less hungry than they now are? Do you imagine that after the repeal of the Union they will lose their appetite? In fact, I believe they will be just as hungry as they are at present. They relish our cattle now better than those which they obtain from abroad. And hereafter, when we are independent, when we can cultivate our pastures and our fields better, we will be able to offer them far better cattle. And should they not choose to take it then, merely because it is not Union cattle, I believe that by our independence, by our awakened industry, and our increased speculations in other quarters, we would soon be able to buy the cattle of our Connaught graziers for our own use, and, without inviting the English to purchase them, consume them ourselves. This fear, therefore, should not prevent our graziers from striving for the repeal of the Union. Besides, we also know well that the Union does not afford the least protection to our present cattle trade; for no regard for us will prevent the English from purchasing cattle elsewhere, if they can buy them better and cheaper than they can from us. This is clearly proved by the adoption of the new tariff, in which not the least regard was paid to our interests; it has, however, had no great effect on our cattle trade, and solely for this reason, that they can obtain from us cattle of a far better quality, and cheaper too, than from a foreign country.
After this a letter from a Lord Ffrench was read, whereon O'Connell remarked that he was the first lord who had declared himself a repealer. The donation from the town of Drogheda, which contributed no less than £50, was received with particular rejoicing. O'Connell bade every town in Ireland imitate its example; and drew so vivid and affecting a picture of the genuine patriotic Irish spirit that animated that town, where there were perhaps no less than nine repealers out of every ten of its inhabitants, that the tears almost came into his eyes. Once he really did shed tears, when, alluding to the present judges of the superior courts in Dublin, who are all Tories, he spoke of a late judge, (O'Loughlin, I believe,) who was one of his personal friends. He accused the present judges of hostility towards the Catholics, and of the most prejudiced partiality for the Protestants, although he was compelled to admit that in other respects they were perfect gentlemen, and much to be esteemed. He said, Bloody spots, frightful and spectral reminiscences from our history float before my eyes; and I shudder in my inmost heart when I think
p.272of it, and when I feel myself compelled to say, that Tory and prejudiced Protestants are again the supreme judges in Ireland. Oh, how have things been changed! Did not one of my best friends lately sit on the judicial bench,one of the noblest of Erin's sons! O, my friend! how quickly hast thou been taken from amongst us,thou, the best judge Ireland ever saw, and in whom were united the most perfect urbanity and the most ardent loyalty,thou man and friend of the truest love and kindness,thou gentleman, as generous, as kind, and hospitable, as every Irishman should be,thou man whose soul was unstained by bigotry or prejudice!Here his voice became higher and higher,he stopped short, and, as I said, O'Connell wept. C'est impossible, mais je l'ai vu.
The numerous small contributions were to me more interesting than the larger ones. They included many of a shilling, eightpence, sixpence, and one even of twopence, which last was probably from a beggar. The reading of this list induced many of the persons present to send in their little contributions. One man, on an upper bench, said aloud, that he would give all he had in his pocket, and he handed down fourpence. O'Connell himself produced several shillings wrapped in paper, and deposited them on the altar,I mean in the money-box,observing that they were sent him for that purpose. The sums which are thus made up of the pennies and shillings of the poor, in order to enable O'Connell and his coadjutors to carry on the repeal agitation, are so extraordinary, and so large in amount, as to be almost incredible.
As a finale, a German was brought forward. He had just arrived from America, and had, I believe, brought letters of introduction to O'Connell. My countryman assured the meeting, that, on the other side of the Atlantic, no one doubted the success of repeal: he compared O'Connell with Washington; and said that the name of Irishman, which had hitherto been a stigma in America, was now, since the spirited repeal movement, and since Father Mathew's successful advocacy of the temperance cause, beginning to be a title of honour. O'Connell makes use of all possible means, and of all sorts of persons, to bring wind into his sails.
It appeared to me extremely remarkable, that during all these lengthy proceedings, which lasted several hours, I did not observe the departure of a single individual of those who were at most but idle spectators or applauders. They all held out till it became dark, and even listened with the greatest attention to those speeches in which O'Connell analyzed the policy of all the powers of Europe, and which were doubtless beyond their comprehensions.
At last, when all the letters were read, and all the contributions unpursed, and the money-box seemed pretty full, the meeting was dissolved. At the very last, Tom Steele jumped upon the table, and proposed three cheers for the Queen, three cheers for Ireland, three cheers for repeal, and three cheers for the noble German from America. All being now over, the Lord Mayor departed amid universal applause, and I saw him set off homewards in a magnificent carriage drawn by two dapple-gray steeds, and loudly cheered by the people in the streets. While I was still at the window, looking out after him, I heard a clinking and ringing behind me, and on turning round perceived that the money-box had been overturned, and the people were carefully gathering up all the run-away pennies, sixpences, shillings, and half-crowns. O'Connell's son was standing by.
I must confess that, of the whole proceeding, this money-box was what I disliked the most. I cannot excuse O'Connell, and who canwill posterity excuse him?for making his patriotic labours at the same time a trade and a means of making money, and for driving this trade publicly, and before the eyes of all, without the slightest shame or reserve. I believe he no longer thinks there is any thing disgraceful in it, for he has intrenched himself behind such reasoning as the following:I was a barrister in excellent practice, which promised to become much better and more productive than it was. I turned patriot, and devoted my entire time and all my energies to my country's cause. Fellow-countrymen, this cause is very expensive to me, for I must not only support myself, and my family, and my sons-in-law, but also many other friends who help me and mine into parliament, and place me in a position to do effectively whatever I undertake on your behalf. There is nothing more just than that Ireland should pay me all the costs of this cause, and also remunerate me for the gains which, as a lawyer, I could have made, and which I have abandoned through love for her. I can therefore with the greatest justice require the O'Connell tribute from you, and can accept it with the very best conscience. This train of reasoning O'Connell has been constantly repeating for a length of time, and it has been reiterated in all the journals of his party, and by all his friends, over and over again.
As in all his speeches he introduces requests or demands for money, or constant vindications of his just claims on his country for support and remuneration, his enemies abuse him as a false prophet, a regular robber, a knave in politics, a hypocrite in religion; and they reproach him most severely for wheedling the money out of the pockets of the poor, in order that
p.274he may himself live in splendour. His friends, on the other hand, who contribute part of this money, say that O'Connell could not carry on the cause otherwise; that if he is to devote with advantage all his energies to the service of his country, he must ask for money, and take it; and that if they were to give no money, they would get no repeal. Without a more accurate knowledge of the real intentions and of the private resources of O'Connell, which God alone can possess, it may be difficult to decide which of these views is the most correct. It is, however, certain that O'Connell, in consequence of his patriotic labours, enjoys a very considerable yearly income, (it is said of over £10,000,) upon which he and all his family live luxuriously, far better clothed and far better fed than many thousands of those from whom he derives his rent. Furthermore, it is equally certain that O'Connell and his friends have no idea of saying, We will go in rags, we will eat potatoes and salt, like the millions of our countrymen for whom we are striving. We will lay aside all worldly advantages, and all the money intrusted to us shall be alone devoted to the cause, and not a farthing expended on our own persons. Their song sounds rather thus:If we were all lawyers and had good practice, how excellently and comfortably could we live! And that we may forget this, you must now take care we want for nothing. With the disinterested Fabricius, with Cincinnatus labouring at his plough, with barefooted Caliphs, with the apostles and prophets, who renounced all worldly enjoyments, and with other illustrious patriots, whom the world has raised so high because they kept their souls and thoughts untainted by the atmosphere of money, and because they kept their hands undefined by the touch of that worst invention of Satan, gold;in the same category with these great and exalted souls, I say, no one can once dare to place the O'Connells.
I do not say, however, that we should therefore look upon all that O'Connell does as resulting from interested motives of gain; or that all his zeal, his eloquence, and his patriotism springs merely from love of money, and that we should therefore consider him a manifest liar, deceiver, and hypocrite. It is easy to conceive a man who is zealous for his country and his own interest at the same time. Perhaps he commenced through pure love of his country, through pure antipathy and sincere hatred of the Tories; and unexpectedly discovered, in the course of his career, those sources of wealth which he now allows to flow on, since he finds they are of assistance to him. There are, I believe, prophetic spirits, who occupy an intermediate position between the pure exalted angel-soul and the Evil One, and who, though we may call
p.275them false prophets, are yet prophets for all that. These individuals are something more than extraordinary men; for whilst they serve Mammon, they know how to preserve their souls ever fresh and youthful, and possess the art of keeping alive the fire of their enthusiasm, not allowing one half of their nature to be spoiled by the other. To these men, I believe, O'Connell belongs. Are there not also men who, with devotion and enthusiasm, even serve a God in whom they do not believe? Had not Mohammed his inspirations; and was he not enthusiastic in his zeal for his God, although at the same time he was crafty and cunning enough to use this God for his own purposes?
We must also consider O'Connell as a child of our own age, and in this respect make great allowances for his conduct. It is possible, it is even probable, that if, like J. J. Rousseau, he had refused the assistance of his friends,if, like Cincinnatus, he had lived by the ploughor if, like the millions of his poor compatriots, he had clothed himself in rags, and subsisted upon nothing but potatoes, he might never have attained such power, but, on the contrary, have been despised and neglected by the people. Perhaps the present age will and must have its heroes well dressed and well fed. As the English national debt is a burden which keeps all England together, so is the O'Connell tribute a burden which keeps together all repealers. Having once pledged themselves to pay so much, this promise obliges them to continue with O'Connell. They are probably astonished at the extraordinary amount of this tribute, which a man without any external power, and merely by his eloquence and zeal, has imposed upon them, and perhaps they value him the more highly on that account. Add to this, that O'Connell is an extraordinary mana man of the nineteenth centurythe money-century,who has risen to authority, power, and wealth, by means and ways hitherto unheard-of in the world; and who, without employing any physical force, and without making any concessions, has for forty years raised an opposition against the most powerful aristocracy in Europe; while, on his side, he has had almost nothing but a few millions of beggars as supporters.
Every one knows that it had long been the wish of parliament to introduce the English poor-laws into Ireland; and this, after long debating, has at length been actually done within the last few years. All Ireland is now subjected to a poor-tax; and with the money thus levied, and with some considerable parliamentary grants, poor-houses and workhouses have been erected all over the country. The number of workhouses to be erected in the island is one hundred and fifty, one hundred of which are already completed. When the remaining fifty are finished, and the whole are opened and in operation, it is in contemplation to follow up the Poor Relief Act with a Vagrancy and Mendicancy Act. Hitherto it has been impossible to prevent mendicancy in Ireland, as in England, by legislative measures, because until now there were very few asylums for the poor supported by the state. I was told that in all Ireland there were only six. Institutions for similar purposes, founded and supported by voluntary contributions, were, however, and still are, extremely numerous. In Dublin there are, for all possible purposes,for teachers, strangers, musicians, orphans, widows, infants, Catholics, Protestants, servants, and other classesupwards of fifty various institutions, asylums, retreats, poor-houses, and schools. Of all these charitable establishments in Dublin, one only, the House of Industry, was maintained by the state. It was the most extensive of the whole, and supplied lodging and food to no fewer than two thousand paupers, beggars, invalids, orphans, the old, the decrepit, and the insane. This was the only institution of the kind which I visited in Dublin.
Since the introduction of the English poor-laws, Ireland has been divided, like England, into districts, called Unions. Each house in such a union is now valued at a certain annual rent, which value is rated at two or more per cent., and the money thus raised is expended in the maintenance of the union workhouse. The city of Dublin and its environs are divided into two unions, the North Union and the South Union. All the houses in the former are estimated at the yearly value of £394,000, and in the letter at £561,000. The annual value of all the houses in Dublin
p.277is about one million sterling. The poor-rate levied on the North Union amounts to somewhat more than £8000; in the South Union it is somewhat less than £12,000. The workhouse of the North Union is now the above-mentioned House of Industry, which has been newly fitted up for that purpose. That of the South Union I regret I did not see. The rated houses are all entered in a rate-book, with the amount of the rents at which they are valued. What struck me most in this rate-book was the minimum valuation at which houses were rated. There were not a few whose yearly value was estimated at one pound only. The lowest I could find was fifteen shillings a year. Even these houses, which one can scarcely imagine miserable enough, were taxed, and the one-pound house had to pay fivepence yearly. It seemed to me that the proprietor of such a habitation might himself be justly numbered among the poor; and that a certain limit of taxation should have been adopted, and these wretched hovels exempted from the poor-tax. In Ireland there are hovels which set all valuation at defiance. It is here different from what it is in England. How high ought the rent of that house to be estimated which affords its owner the shelter only of a mud wall and a tattered roof of straw?
The control of all these workhouses in England and Ireland is in the hands of three poor-law commissioners, who reside in London, and have their assistant commissioners, who reside in the interior of the country. Each of these assistant commissioners has his district, containing a number of unions, which he is constantly inspecting, and on the condition of which he reports to the chief commissioners. These reports are printed. The chief commissioners also issue annual reports on the state of the entire system of poor relief in Ireland. One of them, Mr. George Nicholls, previous to the adoption of the poor-laws in Ireland, had also made various reports on the advantages to be derived from their introduction into that country. These various reports together form a little library, which he who wishes to know Great Britain should not leave unstudied, for they are full of the most excellent remarks, and the most interesting inquiries concerning the country, and the condition of the people.
The guiding principle of the workhouse system, in the opinion of Mr. Nicholls, ought to be, that the support which is afforded at the public cost should be, on the whole, less desirable than the livelihood which the labourer can procure by his own free labour. To carry out this principle, it might appear necessary, at the first glance, that the occupants of a workhouse should in every respect be worse clothed, worse fed, and worse lodged than the independent
p.278labourers of the district. In point of fact, however, the inmates of English workhouses are generally better off than the agricultural labourer and his family; and yet the irksomeness and annoyance of compulsory labour, the discipline, the confinement, and the prohibition of sundry pleasures which are within the reach of the independent self-supporting labourer, create such a dislike against entering a workhouse, that experience warrants our feeling confident that no one who is not altogether without means, and in the most pressing distress, will seek support in a workhouse; that every one who is compelled to enter it through distress will be sure to leave it as quickly as possible, whenever he believes himself in a condition again to earn his own livelihood; and that he will afterwards exert himself, with increased energy and greater success, to maintain his own independence.
In Ireland, it would be scarcely possible to make the lodging, clothes, and food of the poor in the workhouses worse than those of the Irish peasants; and even were it possible, it would be quite unnecessary, ineffective, and inadvisable. The Irish are thoroughly, by nature as well as by habit, a migratory people, and fond of change. The Irishman would rather wander through the entire world seeking employment, than endure the discipline of a workhouse, so long as he is in possession of his health and strength. Imprisonment, and confinement of every kind, is to the Irishman more irksome than to the Englishman. Consequently, even though he were much better off in a workhouse than he could be at home, he would never enter one except in case of the most extreme distress; and he will be sure to remain in it not a single moment longer than this distress continues. In the Irish workhouses, therefore, the opposite principle may perhaps be followed,namely, to give the people something better than they can procure outside, in order thus to hold out some inducement to them to relinquish their free, wild, wandering misery, which they bear about the world with them, to submit themselves to order and discipline, and to partake of the enjoyment of a better, more seemly, and more human condition. For thus would be best attained the true object of workhouses, which is not merely to pave the way for the introduction of a vagrancy act, and to get rid of beggars, but also to mitigate the sufferings and better the condition of those who have been reduced to misery by imprudence, misfortune, or ignorance and prejudice. Whether this last object is kept steadily in view in the management of the Irish poor, I have some doubt, since, on the contrary, slight traces of a system of terror are connected with the erection of workhouses in this country. The discipline especially, in these
p.279as well as in English workhouses, appeared to me to be very severe and rough, and but little softened down by kind attention or indulgence. In general, the governors, as they are termed, bore little resemblance to the guardians or fathers of the poor, (Armenpflegern und Armenvätern) as we justly designate similar officials in Germany. These governors are invested with great power over the poor, upon whom they can inflict severe punishments. All this is a part of the object of these workhouses. They are not intended simply as asylums for the poor, but also houses of correction, in which they may learn to put a still higher value on their golden freedom, accustom themselves to labour, and learn to live without having recourse to begging.
The food and clothing in the Irish workhouses is at all events better than the poor could have out of them; for of course they are not here allowed to be half-naked, and half-starved, the usual condition of the Irish pauper, but are supplied with whole and sufficient clothing, and proportionably good diet. The latter consists principally of the general food of all the Irish,potatoes, oatmeal, and milk, particularly buttermilk. Certain classes only, as the sick and the children, receive bread. Public institutions, and their diet and government, are very interesting to the ethnographer, since they afford him a convenient insight into the manner of living of the bulk of the nation after which they are modelled. When, therefore, I here describe the diet of an Irish workhouse, the reader has a picture of the manner of living of the great mass of the people, at least those of them who have enough to eat.
The day's food consists of a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, lunch being given only to the children and the sick. In Ireland and England breakfast and dinner are taken at later hours than in Germany, namely, the former at nine o'clock and the latter at four. The breakfast, as is common in Ireland with those who can maintain themselves at all decently, consists of oatmeal porridge, called stirabout, with new milk, and the dinner of potatoes and buttermilk. The children's lunch consists of bread and new milk. In addition to this, on Sundays, holidays, and appointed days, as every Thursday, they receive a small quantity of brose or soup. A grown-up person receives daily, for breakfast, seven ounces of oatmeal and half a pint of new milk; and for dinner, four pounds of potatoes and a pint of buttermilk. This diet of an adult costs one shilling and fourpence three-farthings a week. That of the children costs something more, on account of the milk and bread, which is more expensive than potatoes. Children under two years of age are the most expensive, the cost of
p.280their maintenance being one shilling and sixpence three-farthings a week, for which they receive daily one pint of new milk and one pound of bread. There is, also, a potato-diet for the full grown, and a bread-diet for the children; besides a rice-diet and a meat-diet, for certain classes of invalids; and, lastly, a fever-diet, for that class of patients which is always the most numerous in Irish workhouses and infirmariesthe fever patients.
The cost of clothing is calculated at a halfpenny a day, or threepence-halfpenny a week. The total cost of food and clothing for a pauper consequently amounts to about two shillings a week. If we reckon the cost of keeping up the house, the salaries of officers, and all other expenses, the maintenance of a pauper will amount to about three shillings a week, or about seven pounds ten shillings a year. It is, however, worthy of remark, that all these expenses, as appears from the various reports, are constantly on the decrease, especially in consequence of the increasing cheapness of provisions. The expenses vary, of course, a little in different workhouses; yet the above may be taken as the average cost of the maintenance of each pauper.
The potato-boiler in this great establishment is a perfect wonder. In it there are boiled at once 1670 pounds of potatoes. This vast quantity is divided into small portions, of three and a half and four pounds. Each of these portions is contained in a little net, in which it can be easily removed, and all the nets are placed in an immense basket, which is lowered into the water and boiled, nets, potatoes, and all. It is afterwards raised by a windlass; when all the poor people march up in military order, each receives a net with its contents, and marches off again.
In the school of this workhouse I also found the Chinese-Russian numerical frame I have formerly mentioned, which had been here introduced about a fortnight before my visit.
As in most of the public institutions in Great Britain, the chief employment of the inmates of this establishment was picking oakumthat lint which is so essential for the wounds of the English men-of-warin a word, tow for the caulking of ships. Thousands and hundreds of thousands of hands are daily employed, in the prisons and workhouses, in untwisting old ropes'-ends, and converting them into this necessary article.
One of the most interesting portions of this great establishment is the old clothes-store, containing all the various uniforms of rags which are taken from the beggars on their admission into the workhouse. Instead of their motley equipment they are given the gray uniform of the house, with N. D. U. W. H. (North Dublin Union Workhouse) stamped upon it in large letters. The old
p.281draperies of their liberty, together with hats, stockings, and shoes, having been first fumigated, are then folded up, ticketed with the name of the owner, and deposited in the old clothes-store. The paupers, who can leave the house at any moment, (for they need only make their wish known to the governor, and in a quarter of an hour they are free,) are of course not permitted to carry off with them the workhouse dress. If the case were otherwise, many would go in and out again merely for the sake of the new clothes. Their carefully preserved old rags are therefore restored to them, and they may then consider how they shall best find their way into their distorted sleeves, and which hole of the various gaps in their hats is the right one. It almost daily happens, that, among the 2000 paupers in the house, one or other, weary of the discipline, and longing for his old liberty, renounces his allegiance to the governor, and again obtains possession of his old rags. The clothes-store, which contained a wardrobe unsurpassed in point of variety by those of all the theatres of Europe put together, had just been opened, to search for the rags of a liberty-desiring pauper. The poor fellows must endure no small struggle of soul when they hesitate between their N. D. U. W. H. slave-costume, and their old miserable sansculotte liberty-dress. Most, however, prefer the latter. Liberty, even for the beggar, has much that is attractive about it; and the free, wild, begging, nomade life, has become as much a habit to the Irish beggar, as is to the Russian nomade his life of hunting, fishing, and cattle-grazing. Only to him who remains twelve months in the house, who has during that period conducted himself orderly, and also induced a hope that he will for the future maintain himself, a suit of clothes is given, with which he may enter anew on his thorny life-path.
Dublin is, or at least hitherto was, the principal rendezvous of all the beggars of Ireland, the great wealth and the greater population of this city, according to Mr. Nicholls, promising them a richer harvest than any other town in the country. This harvest is further increased by the gifts of chance visitors, who are called to Dublin by business or pleasure, and who are generally more accessible to beggars than the constant residents. The numerous charities which exist in this city are also a great attraction. Those Irish, likewise, who go over to England in search of employment, always leave some portion of their family, frequently the whole of it, in Dublin, where they endeavour to support themselves by begging. Moreover, all the Irish paupers and beggars which England sends back to Ireland, as a burden she will not bear, usually arrive first in Dublin, where they collect in numbers. Thus the numerous streams of vagrancy flow into this city as into
p.282a vast reservoir. When all these circumstances are taken into consideration, with the additional fact, that, until now, with the exception of the larger towns, there existed in all Ireland no public institutions for the support of the poor,that, except Dublin, there was no place where the destitute and the starving could be certain to find relief, and that therefore the entire flood of misery and want must necessarily flow towards Dublin,it will not, I say, appear wonderful that there should be so many beggars there, but on the contrary it will excite surprise that their number should not be much greater. In point of fact, I believe that the fearful and melancholy pictures which former travellers have painted of the condition, and of the multitudes of beggars in Dublin, will no longer be found applicable and true in their full extent. The fearful and usual entreaty of the Dublin beggar, Sir, I am hungry, I expected to hear much oftener than I did. The new workhouses have probably already afforded them some relief. Whether it will be possible to carry out the proposed vagrancy and mendicancy act, and to get rid of beggars entirely, the future alone can inform us. The 150 workhouses which are to be erected in the country, will, if we suppose that each on an average can afford shelter to 500 destitutes, contain only 75,000 paupers; and it will therefore be necessary to pre-suppose, before mendicancy can be prohibited with perfect justice, that there are not more than 75,000 persons in Ireland who cannot support themselves. We do not, however, require much calculation to prove that it is extremely probable that this is far below the actual number of the destitute; and the question then iswith what show of right can the remaining hundreds of thousands, to whom no asylum is offered, be prohibited from begging?
The museums and literary societies of Dublin are not a little indebted to the Germans. The museum of the Royal Dublin
p.283Society was founded by the purchase of the collection of Professor Leske, called the Leskean Museum; to which that of Sir Charles Gieseke, a mineralogist of Göttingen, was afterwards added. The books of Baron Fagel, a Dutchman, were annexed to the library of the university; the anatomical wax models of Professor Rau, a German, who resided in Paris, were purchased by Lord Shelburne for the university; and, lastly, Professor Finnagle (here called Von Feinagle) founded a society, by which, under his direction, an institution for the education of the children of the higher classes was established, the only one of its kind in Ireland.
The most interesting collections for strangers are those of the university (Trinity College); of the Royal Dublin Society; and of the Royal Irish Academy. After the Germans, the bogs of Ireland have done most for the museums of the two last of these institutions. They are the best preservers of antiquities a country can desire; and almost all the information Ireland wishes to obtain concerning her ancient condition, she must derive from the writings and monuments found at the bottom of her bogs. Not alone the beads of gold and amber, which were worn by the women of ancient Ireland; not alone the bodies of men, but even their clothes, even the butter which they used to eat, even samples of the weed which they used to smoke before the introduction of tobacco; even the bodies of races of animals which are now extinct in Ireland,all these have the bogs covered with a preserving layer of turf, and have kept uninjured, not even omitting furrows drawn by the plough many centuries ago. The collections of these Irish antiquities, as well as the care bestowed on their preservation, and the diligent study of them, are all very recent. So great is the present zeal for exploring and draining the bogs, that every day fresh antiquities are discovered, and doubtless much will yet be found that will render these collections more complete than they now are. The most interesting things which have been discovered in the bogs are, first, to give precedence to man, human bodies, in perfect preservation, of which one is to be seen in the Dublin museums. The skin, indeed, is dried up and tanned brown; but the entire figure and physiognomy is still plainly discernible. From the dress of this man it is supposed that he must have lain for at least five hundred years in the Galway bog in which he was found. As preservers of animal substances, one might compare the Irish bogs with the great ice-masses of Siberia. The latter, however, excel the former, inasmuch as they even preserve the flesh fresh for thousands of years. It would be interesting to compare all the substances in nature, first fluid, and then solid, with one another, with regard to their preserving qualities.
Then there are parts of the buffalo, which formerly existed in Ireland. In a treatise among the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, this Irish buffalo is said to differ from that described in Cuvier's Ossemens fossiles, and is particularly distinguished by a greater convexity of the forehead, by a considerable length of body, and by the shortness of the bent-down horns. But the fossil deer of Ireland is above all especially deserving of admiration and attention, on account of its extraordinary size and peculiar construction. Of this animal portions are so frequently found, that there are few Irish peasants who are not acquainted, either by hearsay or as eye-witnesses, with the horns of the old deer, as they express themselves. Nay, in some parts of the country, these horns are so commonly met with that, without being deemed worthy of the least attention, they are thrown aside, or applied to economical purposes. Some of the enormous antlers of this animal are used as field-gates, others as bridges over little brooks. In Siberia, a trade is carried on in the bones of the fossil mammoth, which is there so abundant, and they are purchased by private persons for all sorts of economical purposes. These fossil bones of the stag are found as well in the bogs as in the marl-strata in which Ireland is so rich. In the Isle of Man, too, the same fossil stag has been found; and of late some specimens, complete in almost every respect, even to the very smallest bones, have been placed in many British museums. The name of Cervus Megaceras has been given to this animal. Its horns resemble, in their structure, those of the still existing elk, but they are much larger, while the animal itself is somewhat smaller. The most beautiful specimen of this animal is in the museum of the Royal Dublin Society. The proportions of its principal dimensions, as I found them given in a little treatise by a member of the Irish Academy, are as follows:
p.285a tolerably tall man, and as wide as the leaf of a not small table. The animal, moreover, is much higher than the tallest ox, and at the same time built with the same admirable beauty and lightness as the most graceful stag. This one article so far surpasses in interest and beauty all the other specimens of natural history in the museum of the Dublin Society, that one has no longer eyes for any thing else; and I believe every traveller, often as this animal has been already spoken of, has contributed his mite to the glorification of its name. It is indisputably the finest animal of its kind to be found in any museum in Europe; and it is, next to the almost perfect fossil mammoth in St. Petersburg, perhaps the finest fossil skeleton that has ever been exposed to the eye of the world.
In Yorkshire, on the coast of Essex, in the forest of Bondi near Paris, in many parts of Germany, and, according to Cuvier, in various districts in the neighbourhood of the Po, parts of the Cervus Megaceras have also been found. Nearly perfect specimens of this animal have been placed in the museums of Edinburgh, Cambridge, and two or three other English towns; but all these are far excelled by the Dublin specimen in beauty, magnitude, and completeness. It is another of the singularities of Ireland of which we have already enumerated so many, that this animal should be found there more frequently than in any other country in Europe. How many questions does not this single fact suggest? It often seems to me as if Ireland had formed a little world of its own. One would sometimes feel inclined to believe it the remains of the continent of Atlantis, which did not resemble Europe in all its productions, and existed for itself alone in a hundred particulars.
Among the works of art which have been discovered in the bogs the most remarkable are those of amber, which prove that this gum was either found in Ireland, or that it was obtained in traffic from the Phoenicians. There is also a necklace of shells, which seems as devoid of art as if it were taken from the neck of a queen of the South Sea islands, and must have had its origin in the remotest ages of European barbarism. Then there is a multitude of admirable little articles of gold, rings, strings of beads, and some strange little instruments, of which, from their form, the use and object cannot with any confidence be determined. Among the beads are some of astonishing size, made out of thin plates of gold. If these ornaments, as is supposed in Dublin, all really belong to a heathen age, (which is not improbable, as they bear not a single trace of Christian art,) we must confess that the old Irish heathen were but little inferior as workmen
p.286to the goldsmiths of the Greek colonies, and of the Bosphoran Kings of Tauria on the Black Sea, of whose works many have been lately discovered, and placed in the museums of St. Petersburg. According to Moore, gold mines were discovered in the reign of Tighernmas, an ancient heathen king of Ireland, 200 years before the birth of Christ. In a bog in the county of Tipperary, so many gold ornaments are said to have been found, that the people call it the golden bog, and tell a story of a goldsmith's workshop having been overwhelmed by it.
One of these articles of gold is bent nearly circular, in the form of an open ring, greatly flattened at its extremities, and of such a size as to permit its being conveniently held like a handle. The Dublin antiquaries believe that it was used on the ratification of treaties of peace. There exists, however, a multitude of similar handles, or half-closed rings, of copper, and even some of silver, which are believed to have served as coin. The most curious thing connected with this subject is, that at the present moment multitudes of similar half-closed rings are manufactured at Birmingham, of iron, and sent to Africa, where they are used as money, in traffic with the Ashantees and some other negro nations. This African ring-money so much resembles these Irish articles, that some of the former, made in Birmingham, have been placed alongside the latter at Dublin. This appears a singular shape for money; and yet we find that in two countries, so remote from each other, the same strange form was adopted. In all things, in all phenomena, natural-historical, historical, antiquarian, as well as psychological, one can never extend his inquiries too far, either in relation to space or to time. Threads and chains will then be found spun over our entire globe, and all connected like a net. Perhaps the Phoenicians traded with these African nations also. Perhaps this strange form of money, which one can scarcely believe to have been twice invented, was brought to Africa by the Phoenicians, or introduced from the wilds of Africa into the wilds of Ireland, or, vice versa, from the Irish to the Africans. As the English now make this money in Birmingham, so perhaps it was made by the Phoenicians ages ago. Do we not find the Round Towers of Ireland again in Persia; and have not monuments been discovered, even in China, similar to the cromlechs and cairns of Ireland? Not long since an account of some similar Cyclopean monuments, near Bombay, was published in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy.
Articles of bronze seem to have been found in Ireland more rarely than might be expected from the extraordinary number of architectural monuments ascribed to the Ostmen and Northmen
p.287(the Danes). There are far fewer of them here than in other northern museums, for instance, in those of Copenhagen and Livonia. There are, however, a few bronze swords, like those at Copenhagen, together with a great quantity of Celts, and some bronze battle-axes. The most remarkable of these Irish bronzes are the little bronze pigs, which have been found in great numbers. The figure of this animal is usually very well imitated. Perhaps the pig was once a sacred animal in Ireland, as many sorts of beetles were among the ancient Egyptians. These relics reminded me of the ancient legend, that the old magicians, the Tuatha-de-Danaans, once, on the arrival of new settlers from Spain, transformed the whole island into the form of a pig. Even to the present day the pig is the most important and the most respected animal in Erin; the inhabitants live and exist on its blood and lard, like the Egyptians on the water of the Nile; and, were they not Christians, these subjects of her most gracious Majesty would doubtlessly at the present day worship Apis under the form of a pig, as the subjects of the Pharaohs did under the form of an ox.
Several distaffs of the most simple construction have been found namely, a round stone, with a hole in it, in which a staff was stuck. On the staff was wound the thread, and the heavy stone, on being set in motion, served to keep the simple machinery turning round. The Irish of our own days, however, have succeeded in inventing a still more simple distaff. In place of a stone, which requires labour and art to adapt it for this purpose, they use merely a potato. This kind of distaff, of course, was not used by the ancient Irish, as Drake had not yet presented them with a substitute for the stone.
There is here a considerable quantity of the bog-butter which I have already mentioned, and which has been frequently found in pieces of from eight to ten pounds weight. The largest is said to have weighed seventeen pounds. Primitive antique cheeses have also been preserved in the bogs, in forms resembling none at present known in Ireland.
Iron, I was told, was generally entirely destroyed in the turf-bogs, and has only been preserved when it has remained in contact with fat animal matter. In like manner, I have been informed by many, that all the limy parts of animals, all their bones, are soon destroyed, and that the fat and skin, were alone preserved. Thus all the internal bones of the bog-man I have mentioned are said to be completely destroyed, by the moisture of the bog having forced its way through the body. If this be correct, the information I obtained from many quarters, and which I found repeated
p.288in the treatise on the fossil elk which I have cited above, namely, that its bones are frequently dug out of the bogs, must be understood to mean, not out of the bogs themselves, but rather out of the marl-strata beneath them.
A multitude of interesting remains of Irish Christian antiquity are here to be seen,manuscripts, crosiers, and the like,which, by their peculiar ornaments, show that in Ireland the arts also had then entered on a very peculiar path of development, the entire style and the ideas of the painters, calligraphists, and workers in metals, being manifested in them very differently from those to be seen in any other country.
In the museum of Trinity College, Dublin, founded by Queen Elizabeth, are also many interesting Irish antiquities; for instance, an old harp, of beautiful workmanship, which is said to be that of the Irish King O'Nial. In this harp I saw, actually and tangibly, one of those musical instruments, which, in pictures of the assemblies of the Ossianic heroes, we are wont to look upon as mere ideal representations.
All the buildings of Trinity College are large, handsome, and convenient, and are all kept in the neatest order. The part most admired is the library-room, which is said to be the largest of its kind in the British empire. In 1842 the number of books in it amounted to 96,100. Of all the works I saw here none interested me so much as the new map of Ireland, which, so far as it is completed, is a truly gigantic work, and the most magnificent and best of its kind that Great Britain has yet produced. The same corps of engineers who made the last great map of England, are also employed on this of Ireland; and, as they have brought hither with them all the fruits of their experience in England, it is believed that their labours here will be still more exact; and that Ireland, which hitherto was one of those countries of whose geography but very little was accurately known, will thus, all at once, possess one of the fullest and most faithful maps in the world. It is scarcely credible, and yet it is not the less true, that all the maps of Ireland which were made during the last century, were based upon an old one, drawn towards the close of the seventeenth century, by the (in Ireland) famous Sir William Petty. Not one of these maps is to be at all depended upon, because, at a time when the British had determined the positions of a number of far-distant lands by astronomical and trigonometrical observations, and when many parts even of Russia were already surveyed, no general trigonometrical survey of Ireland had as yet been commenced. Even at the end of the last century, the map of Ireland then deemed the most accurate, was made from very inaccurate
p.289materials by Beaufort, who was not even a mathematician or a geographer by profession, but a clergyman. Beaufort's map was drawn on a scale of six miles to an inch. The new one, undertaken at the public cost, is, on the contrary, on a scale of six inches to a mile, or upwards of a thousand times larger than the most minute and most accurate map which Ireland could boast of fifty years ago. For twelve years, some sixty persons have been employed in preparing and executing this gigantic work. Each of the thirty-two counties of Ireland is laid down, on an average, on from fifty to sixty large sheets, some counties, according to their size, having a greater or smaller number of sheets. Twenty-seven counties have been already completed; and when the whole is finished it will contain above fifteen hundred sheets, and will form, as I have said, one of the greatest geographical works in the world. The atelier for this map is in the Phoenix Park, near Dublin. I was forcibly struck by the great inferiority, in point of intelligence and education, of the persons engaged in the execution of this great work. In similar undertakings in Germany, as, for example, on the great map of Saxony, which has for a long time been in progress at Dresden, all those employed are taken from the educated classes. Here, on the contrary, all the inferior artists are merely common workmen, who probably understand nothing more than that particular part of the work on which they are actually employed. It is probable, however, that the work is so divided and directed by able superintendents, that each workman is required to understand nothing more than his own part; and still that the whole will form a complete and distinguished work.
English libraries interest foreigners most by the splendid and gigantic works, which English perseverance, English art, and English money have produced, and which one has more rarely an opportunity of seeing in our continental libraries. Amongst the works of this description which I had an opportunity of seeing at Trinity College, were the Antiquities of Mexico, a work which is said to have cost the editor, Lord Kingsborough, £30,000. A production of art, almost as complete as nature herself, is Lambert's plates and description of the genus Pinus. This Lambert devoted his talents, his life, and his fortune, to the completion of this distinguished work. It is characteristic of England to produce such men, who possess all these requisites in a high degree, and who devote them to the execution of one work, the attainment of one object. With us, in Germany, all these powers are never thus concentrated on one single point. Lambert employed a number of first-rate artists, and made them repeat their
p.290labours until he was quite satisfied with the result. Pine-trees were never glorified in such a manner, or represented with such astonishing fidelity and beauty, as in this work, of which very few copies are said to exist.
The great work of Gough, Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, and another by Dugdale, the Monasticum Anglicanum, which in a series of volumes gives views and a detailed history of all the churches and abbeys of Englandan entire volume is devoted to St. Paul's cathedralwere also objects of my attention. It is astonishing in how many respects England has been already illustrated by her artists, and how every evidence of human existence, every branch of science, has always been there cultivated and carried out with relation to the entire country. All the various classes of British history and British antiquities have their own works, and among them usually a standard book, of universally recognised authority.
Trinity College is decidedly the greatest and most extensive building in Dublin, and the largest college in the United Kingdom. To give a slight idea of what has been done for this college by parliament and private individuals, I will mention a few of the sums which have been presented to it. In 1758, Dr. Baldwin, its provost, bequeathed to the college no less than £80,000. Parliament granted the sum of £40,000 for building a square, thence called the Parliament Square, which contains many chambers for fellows and students. In 1787, parliament voted £12,000, merely to build a chapel, which, however, cost considerably more. For all this money it might have been reasonably expected that this college would be somewhat less mute and more active than it appears to be, as the English universities generally designate Trinity College their Silent Sister. There are, however, many persons of a European reputation who have here received their education and mental cultivation, such as Young, Goldsmith, Swift, Hamilton, Congreve, Burke, Dodwell, Grattan, Coulter, &c. The English usually complete their education at one and the same college; and each of the various universities of the kingdom is therefore constantly employed in reckoning up the great men who have been there educated, in comparing them with those produced by other colleges, and in erecting monuments and statues to them in their buildings. In our German universities this can never be the case, as we usually visit several, one after another. The German universities acquire their fame principally from their teachers; the English, from their pupils.
The chapel of Trinity College is very elegant, although far inferior to many college chapels at Oxford. In it I saw a remarkable
p.291instance of the great nicety and strictness with which the orders of academical rank are maintained in English universities. The prayer-books in this chapel were all different in form, finish, and binding, according as they were appointed for a higher or lower academical rank. The prayer-book of the provost was a folio volume, elegantly bound, with gilt edges, and the leather studded with golden stars. For the vice-provost, there was the gilt edge, but the stars had disappeared. For the senior fellows, of whom there are seven, there was merely a simple folio, without gilt edges; while for the junior fellows, of whom there are eighteen, it diminished to an unornamented quarto. The scholars and students had to content themselves with octavos. The scholars, of whom there are seventy, compose, with the fellows, the body of the university, and they all together elect the two members which the university returns to parliament.23 The students are divided into three classes,fellow-commoners, who dine at the fellows' table, and pay most; pensioners, who pay less; and sizars, who pay nothing at all. As the students have their own prayer-books, they have also their own park, adjoining the college: and the fellows again have their pretty little garden, to which the masters and fellow-commoners have also admission. Through a little postern door of this garden, called the Doctors' Gate, because the doctors only are allowed to have keys for it,by courtesy, however, the masters also have a key,I again issued from the university.
Dublin is celebrated in England for its squares. Merrion-square is said to be the most beautiful, and Stephen's Green the largest, in the British empire; and both of these are only a short distance from the little Doctors' Gate.
Merrion-square is a handsome parallelogram, with noble grass-plots, and surrounded by the finest private buildings in Dublin. The latter, as I walked along the paths of the square, presented a very melancholy appearance, with their blinds drawn down, a sign that their owners were not at home. I reckoned ten houses in succession which were all veiled in this manner. During the entire summer, and the greatest part of the winter too, the nobility
p.292and gentry of the country are not to be found in their capital; and for this Dublin is not compensated, like London, by a more lively season in the spring.
Dublin, of course, has lost most by the union of Ireland with England. At the end of the last century, when Ireland yet possessed her own parliament, Dublin was the usual residence of two hundred and seventy-one temporal and spiritual peers, and of three hundred members of the House of Commons. In 1820, on the contrary, the city counted no more than thirty-four resident peers, thirteen baronets, and five members of the House of Commons. If, as has been calculated so long ago as in 1782, no less than two millions sterling were drained from Ireland to be spent out of the country, it may reasonably be assumed that that sum has now at least doubled itself. As Ireland is not, like other countries of Europe, remunerated for this by the visits of strangers, it may be easily conceived how sore and disagreeable this absenteeism is to the trading classes. Ireland is probably that country of Europe from which there is the greatest emigration, and into which there is the smallest immigration, of wealthy persons.
As elegant clubs are, in London, more numerous than elegant houses of public resort, so in Dublin squares are more numerous than public gardens. The wealthy and privileged classes have entirely monopolized the enjoyment of these squares. Usually, it is only the inhabitants of the surrounding houses, and a few subscribers, who are allowed to enter the square, which is enclosed with a high iron railing, and each inhabitant or select subscriber is furnished with a key for the gates which open into it. These monopolizers of squares are also protected by law against surreptitious intruders; and there is generally painted on a board set up near the gateAny person imitating the keys of this square is liable to a fine of five pounds.
The entire of Merrion-square, with all the houses that surround it, belongs to a nobleman, whose name I have forgotten. The inhabitants of these houses pay a higher rent on condition that the square shall remain free and unbuilt on. The lawns of Merrion-square, like those of all English gardens, are elegantly kept; and though the whole is only twelve acres, a gardener, who has his dwelling in a corner of it, and two under-gardeners, have always plenty to do, to keep the grass and the walks in the wished-for accurate order. Between the lawns wind several serpentine paths, and here and there some line thick clumps of trees are distributed. The iron railing is every where lined with dense shrubberies, in order that those walking in the garden may feel themselves more private and concealed from the gaze of the public. The enjoyment
p.293of these squares is, to my mind, a somewhat insipid pleasure, consisting of nothing else but walking up and down a few times to take a little fresh air. Generally, only a few young children, and their attendants, are to be seen in them. We Germans would permit the gardener to sell milk and cakes; and we would, in the morning, noon, or evening, come across from our houses to enjoy a little coffee or egg-flip (weinkaltschale). But nothing of this sort is allowed here. On the contrary, as I have already said, these beautiful grounds, which might be made so manifoldly useful to the public at large, are generally seen empty, or at most visited by a few children. During the season, in the spring, a band of music plays in the lawns, at which periods the subscribers and inhabitants, with their families and friends, come to hear it. The number of those who frequent Merrion-square on these occasions, as the gardener told me, sometimes amounts to three or four thousand. The public at large is, however, excluded on these festivals, and the gates of the square are guarded by policemen. Indeed it is very necessary, said the gardener, for if we did not do so, the numerous ruffians we have in the town would soon destroy every thing.
The other square, Stephen's Green, is almost an English mile in circumference. It is the property of the city of Dublin, but has been given to the inhabitants of the square, as a fee farm, by act of parliament. For this they pay £300 a year,another example of the various legal relations in which the inhabitants of English towns stand to their squares. In the centre of these handsome grounds an equestrian statue of George II. has been erected.
A statue of the Duke of Wellington was offered to the inhabitants of these two squares, to be erected in their grounds; but it was declined on account of its great want of taste. It was therefore erected in that park which is the pride of the good folks of Dublin, where they make their first acquaintance with whatever is beautiful and blooming and grass-green in naturein the Phoenix Park, close to Dublin. Of this park the Irish assert that it is unequalled in the United Kingdom. But beautiful as it may be, and unsurpassingly suitable as is its name, and the monument which has been erected in the middle of ita Phoenix in flames, in allusion to the annual rejuvanescence and new blossoming of the trees and shrubs,still I must confess that I cannot comprehend what is so displeasing to the Irish in the noble parks of London, surrounded as they are by so many splendid buildings, that they wish to extol the Phoenix Park so highly beyond every other. The avenues to it are bad, in quite an extraordinary degree; the buildings, even the Vice-Regal Lodge, are very insignificant structures; and the
p.294green lawns are by no means so carefully kept as those of the parks of London.
The Phoenix Park lies almost quite outside the city: and as we are now once more in the open country, and have left behind us the smoky narrow town, we will not return again, much as we may have still to see there; at least not further than is necessary to find our car, which is to convey us to the north of Ireland.