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Humours of Irish Life   By:

Humours of Irish Life by Various

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HUMOURS OF IRISH LIFE

[Illustration: Frank Webber wins the wager

Drawn by Geo. Morrow ]

HUMOURS OF IRISH LIFE

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY CHARLES L. GRAVES, M.A.

[Illustration: Fiat Lux]

NEW YORK: FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY PUBLISHERS

PRINTED BY THE EDUCATIONAL COMPANY OF IRELAND LIMITED AT THE TALBOT PRESS DUBLIN

Introduction.

The first of the notable humorists of Irish life was William Maginn, one of the most versatile, as well as brilliant of Irish men of letters.

He was born in Cork in 1793, and was a classical schoolmaster there in early manhood, having secured the degree of LL.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, when only 23 years of age. The success in "Blackwood's Magazine" of some of his translations of English verse into the Classics induced him, however, to give up teaching and to seek his fortunes as a magazine writer and journalist in London, at a time when Lamb, De Quincey, Lockhart and Wilson gave most of their writings to magazines.

Possessed of remarkable sparkle and finish as a writer, considering with what little effort and with what rapidity he poured out his political satires in prose and verse, and his rollicking magazine sketches, it was no wonder that he leaped into popularity at a bound. He was the original of the Captain Shandon of Pendennis and though Thackeray undoubtedly attributed to him a political venality of which he was never guilty, whilst describing him during what was undoubtedly the latter and least reputable period in his career, it is evident that he considered Maginn to be, as he undoubtedly was, a literary figure of conspicuous accomplishment and mark in the contemporary world of letters.

Amongst his satiric writings, his panegyric of Colonel Pride may stand comparison even with Swift's most notable philippics; whilst his Sir Morgan O'Doherty was the undoubted ancestor of Maxwell's and Lever's hard drinking, practical joking Irish military heroes, and frequently appears as one of the speakers in Professor Wilson's "Noctes Ambrosianae," of which the doctor was one of the mainstays.

Besides his convivial song of "St. Patrick," his "Gathering of the Mahonys," and his "Cork is an Eden for you, Love, and me," written by him as genuine "Irish Melodies," to serve as an antidote to what he called the finicking Bacchanalianism of Moore, he contributed, as Mr. D. J. O'Donoghue conclusively proves, several stories, including "Daniel O'Rourke," printed in this volume, to Crofton Croker's "Fairy Legends and Traditions of Ireland," first published anonymously in 1825 a set of Folk Tales full of a literary charm which still makes them delightful reading. For just as Moore took Irish airs, touched them up and partnered them with lyrics to suit upper class British and Irish taste, so Croker gathered his Folk Tales from the Munster peasantry with whom he was familiar and, assisted by Maginn and others, gave them exactly that form and finish needful to provide the reading public of his day with an inviting volume of fairy lore.

Carleton and the brothers John and Michael Banim, besides Samuel Lover, whose gifts are treated of elsewhere in this introduction, followed with what Dr. Douglas Hyde rightly describes as Folk Lore of "an incidental and highly manipulated type."

A more genuine Irish storyteller was Patrick Kennedy, twice represented in this volume, whose "Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celt" and "Fireside Stories of Ireland" were put down by him much as he heard them as a boy in his native county of Wexford, where they had already passed with little change in the telling from the Gaelic into the peculiar Anglo Irish local dialect which is markedly West Saxon in its character.

His lineal successor as a Wexford Folklorist is Mr. P. J. McCall, one of whose stories, "Fionn MacCumhail and the Princess" we reproduce, and a woman Folk tale teller, Miss B. Hunt, adds to our indebtedness to such writers by her recently published and delightful Folk Tales of Breffny from which "McCarthy of Connacht" has been taken for these pages... Continue reading book >>




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