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“Had my christening bowl been filled with this,
the following curious statement in Holinshed's Chronicles deserves attention, not only for the singular custom it describes, but because it also proves the antiquity of the poem in which an allusion to so old a custom is made so familiarly. Holinshed, in his chronicle of "the troublesome estate of Ireland," in the chapter which he quaintly heads, "On the disposition and maners of the meere Irish, commonly called the Wild Irish," he says:-" In some corner of the land they use a damnable superstition-leaving the right armes of their infants unchristened (as they termed it), to the intent it might give a more ungracious and deadlie blow. Others write, that gentlemen's children were baptised in milk, and the infants of poor folke in water, who had the better, or rather, the onlie choice." Sometimes the christening-bowl might at least contain some portion of the spirit to which the people were so much attached, and hence, doubtless, the allusion by the bard. Holinshed gives somewhat rudely an account of their love for it, when he says, "Flesh they devour without bread, and that half raw; the rest boileth within their stomachs with aqua vita, which they swill in after such a surfeit by quarts and pottels."
Dr. Rennie, who was examined on a committee of the House of Lords in 1811, as to the effects of the reduction of the duty on whiskey, says, "At a time when the common price of whiskey was 7s. 6d. per gallon, it was adulterated so much that it was sold at 48. or 5s. and the bells were rung to announce it to the people, and to relate the joyous news, and a general state of drunkenness was perceivable throughout the whole liberty for a week or a fortnight afterwards. The same feeling is illustrated in the following anecdote told by Mr. Croker. On one occasion a hospitable lady, who had rewarded a labourer for his exertions with some admirable whiskey, administered in a claret glass, was both shocked and astonished at the impiety and ingratitude of his exclamation. "May the devil blow the man that blowed this glass!"
"What is that you say?" (inquired the lady,) "What do I hear?" "I'm much obliged to you, honourable madam, and 'tis no harm I mane; only bad luck to the blaguard glass-blower, whoever he was, for with the least bit of breath in life more he could have made the glass twice as big!"
Although from such instances we may naturally conclude that the love of whiskey is a feeling sui generis with an Irishman, yet there can be little doubt it is custom, and custom alone, that makes it so powerful. Look at tents at the fair how they are filled with fathers of families,-with young boys, who are taught to consider that their approaches to manhood and manliness are best proved by their ability to drink without being sick or drunk, or in other words, by making their heads in time. See young women, as in these places, under pretence of being treated to a fairing of gingerbread, in reality indulging in punch and coarse conversation, which is too often the accompaniment of strong drink, and then tell me that the whiskey does no harm!
See the small holder or labourer, whose only business at a fair is, perhaps, to buy a spade-handle, standing at the tent door, in
hopes of meeting with some good gay fellow (that is, some tipsy fool) who will treat him to a glass or a naggin. This is the way drunkenness is encouraged.
"Do you see that horse drinking?" said a farming gentleman once to his herd, who, to the great injury of his master's cattle, had been tempted at a fair to drink too much, he takes just what is good for him, and no more."
"Thrue for you, masther," said the other, "but he has nobody to say to him, here's to ye !'"
The Dublin whiskey-shops, like the London gin-shops, are undoubtedly the cause of much intemperance by affording the poor the opportunity of indulging their depraved taste; but here the likeness ceases, for a whiskey-shop here, and a gin-temple in London, are as unlike in all other respects as can possibly be imagined. The former are now what the liquor-shops in London were when the price of spirits was so low, that it was actually written up on the window of one of them, "A man may get drunk here for a penny, dead drunk for two-pence, and have clean straw for nothing." The two kinds of spirit-shops now, however, are so different that they deserve to have a comparison drawn between them.
Imagine a small shop at the corner of a street in Dublin, with a doorway on each side of the angle of the house, so that those who wish to cut off the corner may do so at pleasure, and of which privilege not a few avail themselves, for here there are no mahogany doors, with ground-glass windows to offer an impediment; you can therefore enter the shop without difficulty, should the doorway not be occupied by some two or three old women, who, squatted down at either corner, are enjoying the luxury of smoking short pipes, as black from constant use as their own faces for want of washing; and which said ladies being by no means agile in their movements, occasion some little delay before you can fairly enter the place. But, having at length gained admission, what a scene presents itself! You see the abode of the spirit of intemperance unadorned by any of those ornaments that make its temples in London appear rather the abodes of fairies than the appointed places for sensual orgies of the most depraved of all the appetites. Here vice is seen in its natural hideousness, unbedizened by those glaring arts, which, however, do not diminish its criminality, even if they conceal some portion of its loathsomeness. The Irish whiskey-shop most truly exhibits vice as "A monster of such frightful mien, That to be hated needs but to be seen."
Yet, unfortunately for its infatuated and wretched devotees,
Familiar with its face,
They first endure, then pity, then embrace."
On entering the shop a stranger is almost suffocated and stupefied by the stench of the whiskey, arising as well from the liquor itself as from the breaths of those who have been drinking it, both fuming together a fume, which if Milton had ever inhaled, he would have described as the atmosphere of the lowest depth in which the most depraved of the fallen were confined. By degrees, however, the organs of smell lose some portion of their sensibility, so that an opportunity is afforded for examining the place. It is, most probably, a grocer's shop,-for nearly all the grocers sell spirits in Dublin, though only
a certain number keep dram-shops. But this is one of them; and a man who can recall to his recollection the magnificent gin-temples of London, will have a fine subject for contrast.
When I entered the Dublin whiskey-shop, I thought of this temple, and it struck me that two abodes for the same evil spirit more different in their character could not be found. The shop had very much the appearance of a common 66 chandler's shop.' On the counter were some two or three dirty whiskey-glasses, and discoloured pewter measures, which had evidently "done the state some service." There was a small tub of dirty water about the middle of the counter, in which the whiskey-glasses, I presume, were rinsed after being used by a customer, and in front of this, projecting about a foot and a half from the counter, was an upright board, perhaps six feet high. It is behind this screen, or one formed of three or four empty tea-chests placed upon each other, where the board is not provided, that those who wish to take a dram without being observed from the street, can do so. Behind the dirty counter there is just room for one man to stand, but not for another to pass; and, in place of gilded vats we may see a number of small tin teacanisters, and in a little glass-case on one side, probably a few of the smaller articles to be found at a "general shop." Upon the shelves which extend around the place, are ranged a number of quart-bottles filled with whiskey, and the printed labels on which give the only appearance of regularity to be observed in the shop. Even the windows of the front are disgraceful: some are of common green-glass, with the knob in the centre: others are of glass so imperfectly blown that on looking through them a man's face appears extended to the ordinary length of his arm, or expanded like the Bull and Mouth in St. Martin-le-Grand. The place in front of the counter is strewed with broken boxes, a form or two, and some dirty straw; upon the latter of which, every now and then, one of the ladies who is smoking drops the contents of her pipe, which, however, she retains in her mouth for a minute or two, without being aware of her loss. No one puts his foot upon the burning tobacco, for he would not spoil what may perhaps be recovered and again used by the smoker; but if it is not, its fragrant perfume combines with that of the whiskey and of the drinkers to render the atmosphere of the place still more intolerable. There are no spirit-taps upon the counter like those previously described, or indeed of any kind, for the vender draws the spirit direct from the cask he has behind, and the small casks that may be disposed upon the shelves amongst the whiskey bottles, are empty, therefore, and only exhibited for the sake of ornament! Altogether the shop is as disgusting as can be imagined, far worse than any description can convey an idea of,-it is filthy in its external and internal appearance, the atmosphere reeks with a foul odour, and the frequenters of the shop seem fitting visitors for such a place.
The number of such low drinking-shops is far above what might be imagined. The writer before quoted says that in 1835, in one street in Dublin, containing one hundred and thirty solvent houses, as they are called, seventy were whiskey-shops. The fact is, that many wealthy citizens, reckless of the consequences which affect
the drunkard, derive large incomes from public-houses, and of course, exert themselves to the utmost to obtain licenses for publicans. In one case, where the churchwardens refused to renew the certificate of good conduct for a man who rented one of these shops, because he also kept a house of ill-fame, the case was even prosecuted to a court of law to oblige the churchwarden to renew the certificate; and, though the application was refused, it showed the extent to which influence is exerted in favour of these places.
I have not instituted a comparison between the London gin-temple and the Dublin whiskey-shop for the purpose of exhibiting the former in the most favourable point of view; for, as far as the intrinsic merits of either are concerned, the whiskey-shop is probably the more honest, since it will contain the least adulterated spirits. But I wished to show that the meanness or the splendour of the dram-shop made no difference in its character. The same miserable and despicable race of creatures are to be found in both. In London or in Dublin the frequenters of such places exhibit the same haggard look and trembling step,-the same low, sullen, feverish eye, and the same parched and quivering lip. Whiskey rots the mind as surely and as powerfully as gin; and, whether in Ireland or England, where the same poverty and wretchedness prevail, the same low vices accompany them.
BY CHARLES HOOTON.
BOOK THE SECOND.
Colin's attempt to liberate Fanny's father from the mad-house, with the adventures that befel him thereupon.
WHEN Our hero had taken leave of his friends, and passed out of his mother's house, he found the night, as he thought, peculiarly adapted for his purpose. The air was dark and troubled, vexed with contending winds, which blew, as it seemed, now from one quarter of the heavens, and then again from its opposite, while drops of rain occasionally came on the blast, succeeded by momentary showers of hard hail. Though summer-time, the weather felt as though it had suddenly changed to that of March, so cold and ungenial was the blast.
The youth pursued his way for some distance along a dark lane, fenced high with thick hawthorn on each side, and traversed by deep ruts, here and there containing puddles of water, which reflected some little light as they caught the sky, and deceived him with the idea that something white was lying in his road. From this lane he crossed a stile and several fields, as offering the most direct route to the back part of the grounds around the doctor's house. When arrived there, he stopped outside the plantation, in order to assure himself that no person was about. Nothing living stirred at that hour. He forced his way through a thorny gap in the fence, and soon found himself at that north-east corner of the yard-wall which he had particularly specified. He now uncoiled
his rope, and cautiously threw up that end of it to which a grappling-hook was attached. After a few efforts it caught firm hold, and as the distant clock struck ten, he ascended to the top of the wall; though, as he fancied this elevation would bring him in relief against the sky, he crouched as closely as possible, in order to avoid being seen, should it unluckily so chance that any individual of the establishment was about.
"Are you there?" asked Colin, in a low but earnest voice, as he peeped down into the yard.
Yes," answered one from below, in a similar tone. "All right. Make haste!"
Colin's heart leapt within him for joy. Now was he well rewarded for all his pain and trouble :-to think that he had succeeded at last, notwithstanding all his mother's and Fanny's fears! Hastily he drew up the hempen ladder after him, and, sitting upon the top of the wall, fixed it on the other side, in order to enable James Woodruff to ascend.
"Put your feet in, and hold by the sides," said Colin, as he saw dimly that the figure was coming up.
Yes, yes," replied he. "Stop there till I get safe to the top." And in the next minute, when the body was half above the wall, Colin received a heavy blow on the head from a short bludgeon, accompanied by a fierce exclamation and an oath, that if he did not surrender that instant his brains should be blown out! gardless of the height of the wall, he instantly dropped, and, though half stunned, and sprained in the leg besides, he endeavoured to make off. The fellow who, it was now evident, had been stationed in the yard on purpose to draw him into this trap,-poor Woodruff had kept in his cell,—was afraid to risk his limbs or his neck by following Colin's example; but, instead of so doing, he began to bawl lustily for assistance. Colin heard two blunderbusses fired, and afterwards the crash of pursuers through the plantations behind him. Conscious that the injury he had received from the fall would prevent him from escaping them by flight, he raised himself up against a gate-post, with his arms close against his sides. In this situation he had the pleasure, two minutes afterwards, of both hearing and seeing a couple of stout fellows rush past within a yard of him, one of whom, by his voice and language, Colin recognised to be Mr. Palethorpe. Within a short period, having "lost scent," they returned, and lingered a few moments about the gate, as though irresolute which way to take. During this brief interval he plainly overheard the following conversation.
"Dang him, I wish we'd hit him! It would have saved us all this trouble."
"Ay, ay, and hit him I will," replied Palethorpe, "if I can once get sight of him. Meesis was quite right, you see, in what she overheard him say-a young vagabone! She told me afore I came out, if I did get a shot at him, to pepper him well; and so I will. If we kill him in trespass and burglary, I think the law will stand at our backs. Dang him!-we lost sound of him somewhere here about, and I should not wonder if he's crept under some of these bushes. I'll fire in, and chance it."
No sooner said than done. Off went the blunderbuss into the thick underwood, for the moment making the spot whereon they