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three-fourths to the brim (or rather less, if the gentlemen like their punch “ frisky”). Next is added the grand ingredient, the whiskey itself; and so well have the operators, from experience, calculated the calibre of the glasses, that when the spirit and water are mixed there is just sufficient room left to allow of the whole being stirred without spilling, and no more. The stir is given accordingly, and the punch is brewed.
The first and second tumblers that are taken do not produce many visible effects. They are engaged in undermining the fabric of intellect which is soon to fall. The gentleman who we will suppose to be the chief performer merely begins to feel “ pleasant." If a smoker, he takes the short pipe—“the dudheen,” which no gentleman sees anything discreditable in carrying,-from his pocket, and commences smoking, at the same time passing in review before his mind's eye all the jokes and pleasant sayings with which he may puzzle and amuse his friends. Towards the conclusion of the second tumbler the effects of his cogitations make their appearance. He perhaps points to some remarkably quiet, harmlesslooking gentleman in one corner, who has just dropped in to enjoy one tumbler, and asks his friend' if he knows the * quare ruffian.” Upon being answered in the negative, he explains that he is the
who'd skin a flea for the hide and tallow, and never bury the bones afterwards,” because he has not given the waiter the customary fee: or, perhaps our friend confines his observations to personal qualities of another kind,-such as remarking that a gentleman would have been a good deal handsomer if the principal feature of his face had been two inches shorter: or other pleasantries of a similar description. He concludes by expressing his firm conviction that the gent noticed by him is a strict Catholic, and wonders how he likes “ling'' (salt-fish) in Lent. This is said in order to remind his friends of the unpleasant thirst caused by that article, and affords a fair excuse for
Glass the third. On taking this he becomes exceedingly witty, the bonds are now loosened that before bound his tongue, however slightly; and everything that can assist in producing fun, and raising a smile, are put under contribution by him. He commences, too, a series of practical jokes,—such as slipping the snuffers into his friend's pocket, so that he draws them forth with surprise when he seeks for his handkerchief-which our friend has placed on the back of a gentleman's chair at the next table. He drives down the cork of an empty ale-bottle, and then calls at the pitch of his voice for the waiter, and a cork-screw; and, with many similar manifestations of the potency of the whiskey, he contrives to make his friends laugh even if they are not so inclined, in a manner which none but an Irishman can effect.
At the fourth tumbler he becomes more sedate. Some of his tricks have reminded him of some friend ; and in such circumstances an Irish gentleman looks upon the reputation of his friend as far dearer than his own. The friend is a paragon of perfection. He has even the look of a genius; and was actually mistaken for Dean Swift thirty years after the Dean had paid the debt of nature! and he is so witty that “ he was held to bail for making a judge laugh when he was passing sentence in court."
When an Irishman begins to talk of his friends, it is impossible
to bring forward a Crichton who can equal them-in fact they are
arm, only strikes the wall. The waiter stands simpering for a moment or two; and after one or two waiter's smiles, politely picks the shilling up, puts it in his pocket, and immediately runs off to some other genileman, who is calling at the top of his voice for more“ materials.”. A second waiter, however, happens to have a snuff-box for the use of the gentleman; but, in opening it, inhales a portion of its contents, and, being unused to the “fragrant weed” in the form of snuff, he sneezes. Upon which the gentleman stares at him for a moment with the filmy eye of a drunken man, and asks him “What he means by that ? ” at the same time rising to inflict summary punishment on the unfortunate object of his wrath. In endeavouring to do so, he stumbles against one of the “Liberals” at
* The latter words allude to William having abolished the spurious money of James, and to his having been the first to do away with arrest for debt on Sundays.
the next table; who, being in no wise friendly disposed, pushes him to the other side. He immediately shouts out the “Glorious memory a second time; and the other party being now sufficiently heated by punch to resent the insult, immediately knocks him down. A single fight, I believe, never takes place in Ireland, when more than two persons are present, and of course, therefore, the gentleman's friend knocks down the other gentleman in return. Our friend's friend meets with a similar compliment from some other friend, and a general melée ensues. The fight becomes universal; for when an Irishman wants “devarsion ” of this kind, he soon makes it for himself. Those who do not wish to fight receive one or two blows on the face from a man they have probably never seen before, and this at once determines the question whether they will fight or not; and a most terrific fight it soon becomes -blows are dealt right and left, with sticks and chairs, fists and legs; tumblers are thrown, and wine-glasses follow; the lamps are broken, the glass is all smashed, the combatants are bruised and bleeding, and the general tumult is only stayed by the extinction of the lights, and the “physical force" of the waiters; who, as soon as they hear the glasses breaking, (knowing they will have to pay for them) become extremely active and vigilant, and being sober, which the others are not, they are very efficient, and so the tumult is subdued. As soon as it is over, our friend is seen at the bar of the tavern with the gentleman who first knocked him down, swearing eternal friendship, and drinking to future kindness in the seventh tumbler. A perfect Irish picture!
This by no means concludes the “ devarsion" of the night; but the sketch has already been extended too much. It may merely be necessary to add, that as soon as the party reach the street, the spirit of fun, which had been succeeded by the spirit of mischief and fighting, again resumes its sway for a time. All kinds of practical jokes are projected and executed, such as those which would be the more especial delight of the Marquis of Waterford, who is a splendid example of “a fine young Irish gentleman;" but the conclusion of the night's adventures is invariably the same. A tumult in the street; an affray with the police; a few contusions and bruises; and either a compromise, an escape, or a lodging for the night in the police station-house.
I should not have made so long a story of the whiskey punch, but that the effects I have described appear to follow so naturally with an Irish gentleman. An abundance of wit and practical fun; a sudden transition to anger; a ludicrous sense of importance and dignity; an intense desire to support the honour of his friends or his party, and at last an invariable propensity to fight with whoever will afford him the opportunity. Indeed he does not always wait for that. The old joke of the Irishman's love of fighting is really no exaggeration. “Och! murther! Nine o'clock at Donnybrook fair, and devil a fight yet! Will any jontleman have the kindness to tread on the tail of my coat ? ”
When speaking of the ancient and enduring love of whiskey by the people of this country, I ought not to have omitted two or three illustrative anecdotes I have collected on the subject. In explanation of that part of the bard's address just quoted, where he says,
" Had my christening bowl been filled with this,
I'd have swallowed it were it a fountain," 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 78. 6d. per gallon, it was adulterated so much that it was sold at 4s. or 58.: 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 nceds but to be seen."
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 sume, 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