PUNCH’S TRIBUTE TO O’CONNELL

LionHeads the day comes round when the grateful millions, whom you are making so wise, industrious, and happy, are clubbing their halfpence for your benefit, it becomes us all, dear DAN, to offer our quota of admiration to you; and I hereby send you my contribution, in a coin with which you are yourself in the habit of relieving the necessitous– I mean a little slack jaw. In a case of necessity in your country, you are always the very first to come down with a subscription of that sort.

And I wish to heaven that poor Paddy, who has no lack of the commodity, and takes it from you so kindly, would but pay you back, in this present hard season, in the same circulating medium. I am not adverse to the subscription-box at most times. A good crowd– a good rattling scene between me and Judy, or me and the devil– and, “now, gentlemen and ladies,” my man goes round for the subscription, and the coppers come tumbling into the tin. I don’t like that vulgar cant of calling it a begging-box: we are worthy of our hire, both of us.

But there are times and seasons to take the money from poor devils who are starving!– actually starving! To be going round for money just now in Ireland– to take the last pence of the poor, ragged, kindly, hungry, foolish creatures– it turns my gorge somehow. You can’t be going to accept the money. Do without this time. If you have none, go down to Derrynane, and go tick; but don’t take the poor devils’ money. For the credit of us adventurers who live on the public, and who are said to be good-natured and free-handed– rogues as we are– stop the collection of the coppers, just for this once. I know the old gag about “forsaking great professional emoluments,” and so forth. But let them off this time– the poor starving rogues– the good-natured simple Paddies, who roar at all your jokes, huzzay at all your lies, come leagues upon leagues to attend your show, and have paid their money so often!

“Dives and Lazarus” is bad enough, and the contrast of the poor man’s sores and the rich man’s purple. But put it that DIVES absolutely begged the money from LAZARUS, and grows fat while the other starves, it will be even so if you take these folks’ money– but I am again growing too serious.

Not that I quarrel with a joke, my dear professional friend, or am jealous of yours; but I think, of these latter days, you have been a trifle too facetious. That excessive good humour the which you have flung into the discussion of the Starvation Question– or rather that airy gaiety with which you have eluded it– hopping facetiously away from it when pressed upon you, and instead of talking about the means of preventing your countrymen’s ruin, telling a story about the coolness of the LORD LIEUTENANT’S rooms, or having a fling at the Saxon, or telling a lie about the Times’ Commissioner, struck me as rather our of place. A joke is a joke, and nothing can be more pleasing than a lie (we will call it a hoax) in its proper place– but not always. You wouldn’t cut capers over a dead body, or be particularly boisterous and facetious in a chapel or a sick-room; and I think, of late, dear Sir, you have been allowing your humour to get the better of you on occasions almost as solemn. For, isn’t Hunger sacred? isn’t Starvation solemn? And the Want of a nation is staring DANIEL O’CONNELL in the face, and the LIBERATOR replies with a grin and a jibe.

All the country is alarmed by the danger, and busy devising remedies to meet it. The gentlemen of Kerry subscribe 8000 l.– the LIBERATOR subscribes, the Advice that corn shall not be sent out of the country. The LORD LIEUTENANT does all that such a feeble, absurd ceremony as a Lord Lieutenant can do– gives a ceremony of consolation; says, Government has employed scientific men, will send for others, and so forth. DAN sneers at the scientific men because they are Saxons, and fancies he covers his own astounding selfishness and indifference by this brutal claptrap. The people come flocking to Conciliation Hall to know what DAN will do– what he’ll propose, God bless him! that’s to get them out of the scrape? and he puts up MR. DILLON BROWNE to indulge in ribald jokes against Agricultural Societies; and he himself amuses the meeting with a piece of lying buffoonery about the Times’ Commissioner. He owns it is a lie; boasts and chuckles over the lie. “If he wasn’t turned out of the house, as I declared he was, he ought to have been turned out,” and all the audience roar. What an audience, and what an orator! Think of the state of mind of the poor fellows who have been got to like and listen to such matter! who, perishing themselves with hunger, still feed and fatten him to whom in their extremity (when every man with a heart in his breast is devising plans for their rescue) the old cynic, who wallows in their bounty, does not offer a shilling; but for all advice, jeers and belies their English brethren who, by God’s help, are able and willing to assist them, and for all consolation entertains them with lies and lazzis. I think it was the French newspapers who called you the Irish MOSES; and now the people are calling upon their deliverer, and behold, out comes JACK PUDDING!

My brazen old brother buffoon! If I had the ear of your Paddies in Conciliation Hall I would tell them a story:– “During the Consulship of PLANCUS, when I was green and young, I had a dear friend, who for some years made a very comfortable income out of me, by cheating me at cards. He was an exceedingly agreeable, generous, social fellow, and professed and felt, no doubt, a warm regard for me; for he used always to win and I to pay with unalterable confidence and good-humour. I furnished his house for him, I paid his tailor’s bills, I kept the worthy fellow in pocket-money. Win what he would, I wouldn’t believe he was a cheat. At last, as I insisted on not discovering his practices, my jolly friend did not give himself the trouble to hide them; and one day, when we were playing a friendly game at écarté together, I saw him with a selection of eight or nine trumps and court cards comfortably spread in his lap, from which he supplied his hand as he wanted.”

God save the Greens! I leave the amateurs of good jokes on the other side of the Channel to determine the moral of this fable. Who are the green ones there? and whose confidence and blindness are so inconceivable, that the old sharper who takes their money scorns even to hide the jugglery by which he robs them.

punch signature

Advertisements