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resolved to encourage and revive the fine arts among us, and even vie with Italy for the superiority.” Disgusted with such conversation, I was upon the point of returning back; when one of the crowd, addressing me, said, “Dear sir, won't you drink before you go? here you are got to the fountain of fine sense, and yet are going away without tasting.” “What " “replied I, is this the fountain of fine sense?” “Yes, sir,” said he, “and as soon as you shall have drank of its waters, you will find yourself every wit as amiable and pleasing as the rest of the company.” “Excuse me, sir,” says I, “if the waters are to have the same effect upon me that I see them have upon the rest of the company, I disclaim all pretensions to fine sense, and am much better pleased with common sense.” “Ah my dear sir,” returned he, with a shrug,” keep your common sense for a circle of Hollanders or aldermen. Without taste, virtue, and delicacy, how insipid is every society!” I was just upon the point of descending the mountain, when I perceived some persons at the summit; and though I knew it must cost me great pains, did what I could to join them. When with incredible labour I had gained it, I there found a second fountain, round which several persons were placed, who drank freely of its waters; and seemed at once to unite gravity, sense, and humour. Here I perceived people of all the nations of Europe entertaining each other without rancour, wrangling, or envy. There Metastasio and Maffei paid their mutual compliments, and attempted each other's improvement; there Voltaire and the royal Prussian gave and received fame reciprocally; Gresset and Piron read their works to each other with delight; and there I saw Johnson, Gray, and Mason, with some other authors of our own country, conveying strong sense in the wildest sallies of poetical enthusiasm. Pleased with the company, I was just going to take a draught of the delicious fountain, when an old agreeable acquaintance, who had been long posted there, and who shall be nameless, welcomed me with so violent a shake by the hand that I awoke, and received no other benefit from my imaginary journey, than a certain conviction that a shallow understanding generally aspires at the reputation of wit; but true genius ever chooses to wear the appearance of good sense.
There can be perhaps no greater entertainment than to compare the rude Celtic simplicity with modern refinement. Books, however, seem incapable of furnishing the parallel; and to be acquainted with the ancient manners of our own ancestors, we should endeavour to look for their remains in those countries, which, being in some measure retired from an intercourse with other nations, are still untinctured with foreign refinement, language, or breeding.
The Irish will satisfy curiosity in this respect preferably to all other nations I have seen. They in several parts of that country still adhere to their ancient language, dress, furniture, and superstitions; several customs exist among them that still speak their original; and in some respects, Caesar's description of the Ancient Britons is applicable to these.
Their Bards, in particular, are still held in great veneration among them ; those traditional heralds are invited to every funeral, in order to fill up the intervals of the howl with their songs and harps. In these they rehearse the actions of the ancestors of the deceased, bewail the bondage
(1) [For some account of Carolan, see Life, ch, i.]
of their country under the English government, and generally conclude with advising the young men and maidens to make the best use of their time, for they will soon, for all their present bloom, be stretched under the table, like the dead body before them. Of all the Bards this country ever produced, the last and the greatest was CARoLAN THE BLIND. He was at once a poet, a muscian, a composer, and sung his own verses to his harp. The original natives never mention his name without rapture, both his poetry and music they have by heart; and even some of the English themselves, who have been transplanted there, find his music extremely pleasing. A song beginning “O Rourke's noble fare will ne'er be forgot,” translated by Dean Swift, is of his composition; which, though perhaps by this means the best known of his pieces, is yet by no means the most deserving. His songs, in general, may be compared to those of Pindar, as they have frequently the same flights of imagination, and are composed (I don't say written, for he could not write) merely to flatter some man of fortune upon some excellence of the same kind. In these one man is praised for the excellence of his stable, as in Pindar,0) another for his hospitality, a third for the beauty of his wife and children, and a fourth for the antiquity of his family. Whenever any of the original natives of distinction were assembled at feasting or revelling, Carolan was generally there, where he was always ready with his harp to celebrate their praises. He seemed by nature formed for his profession; for as he was born blind, so also he was possessed of a most astonishing memory, and a facetious turn of thinking, which gave his
entertainers infinite satisfaction. Being once at the house of an Irish nobleman, where there was a musician present, who was eminent in the profession, Carolan immediately challenged him to a trial of skill. To carry the jest forward, his Lordship persuaded the musician to accept the challenge, and he accordingly played over on his fiddle the fifth concerto of Vivaldi. Carolan, immediately taking his harp, played over the whole piece after him, without missing a note, though he had never heard it before; which produced some surprise: but their astonishment increased, when he assured them he could make a concerto in the same taste himself, which he instantly composed, and that with such spirit and elegance, that it may compare (for we have it still) with the finest compositions of Italy. His death") was not more remarkable than his life. Homer was never more fond of a glass than he: he would drink whole pints of usquebaugh, and, as he used to think, without any ill consequence. His intemperance, however, in this respect, at length brought on an incurable disorder, and when just at the point of death, he called for a cup of his beloved liquor. Those who were standing round him, surprised at the demand, endeavoured to persuade him to the contrary; but he persisted, and when the bowl was brought him, attempted to drink, but could not; wherefore, giving away the bowl, he observed with a smile, that it would be hard if two such friends as he and the cup should part at least without kissing; and then expired.")
(1) [Carolan died in March 1738, while on a visit at the house of Mrs. MacDermot, of Alderford, in the county of Roscommon. He was interred in the parish church of Killronan, in the diocese of Ardagh; but “not a stone tells where he lies."]
(2) [The fertility of this bard, whose name and performances are scarcely known in England except through the medium of a few of Mr. Thomas Moore's celebrated Melodies, may interest the musical reader. It will be seen by the following catalogue from Hardy's ‘Irish Minstrelsy,' that they
VINCENT AND MISS BRF
I own it gave me some pleasure to find the entertainment at Vauxhall, which I regard, under proper regulations, as one of the most harmless and pleasing we have, much improved this season. Improved, if we consider the expense, which is lessened, or the singers who are better than before. Mrs. Vincent and Miss Brent are certainly capable of furnishing out an agreeable evening; and it must be confessed,
take their names chiefly from those of the houses in which he was entertained :
* McDermot Roe,” “Mrs. McDermot Roe,” “Anna McDermot Roe,” “Mr. Edmond Mc Dermot Roe,” “Planxty Reynolds,’ ‘ Gracey Nugent,' ' Anne and Henry Ogs,’ ‘Planxty Maguire,’ ‘Bryan Maguire,’ ‘O'More's Fair Daughter,’ ‘Mild Mable Kelly, “Planxty Kelly,” • Receipt for Drinking, or Planxty Stafford,’ ‘Fair-haired Mary,” “Lord Dillon,' ‘Lady Dillon,’ ‘Fanny Dillon,’ ‘Thomas Burke,’ ‘Isabel Burke,” “Planxty Burke,” “Mr. James Betagh.’ ‘Fanny Betagh,’ ‘John Moore,' ' Mrs. Costello,” “Mr. Costello,' 'Colonel Manns O'Donnell,' ' Counsellor Dillon,' ‘Rose Dillon,’ ‘Doctor Harte,' ' George Brabazon,” • Bridget O'Malley,’ “Captain Higgins,’ ‘Mrs. Garvey,’ ‘Peggy Brown,' ‘Mrs. Palmer," • Frank Palmer,” “Roger Palmer,' 'James Daly,' ' Anne Daley,' 'John Kelly,” “Patrick Kelly,' ‘Sir Ulick Burke,' " O'Conner Sligo,' ‘Edward Corcoran,’ ‘Margaret Corcoran,” * Nanny Cooper,' ‘Charles Coote,” Sir Edward Crofton,' ' Mr. James Crofton,’ ‘Mrs. Crofton,” “Miss Crofton,’ ‘ Edward Dodwell,” “Mand O'Dowd,” “Mrs. Fleming,' ' Colonel Irwin,’ ‘ Loftus Jones,” “Planxty Jones,” “Abigail Judge,” “James Plunket,' ' Rian O'Hara, or the Cup of Hand,' " O'Conor Faly,’ ‘Young O'Conor Faly,” “Mrs. O'Conor,” . Mrs. O'Conor of Belanagare,” “Dennis O'Conor,’ ‘Doctor O'Conor,” “Maurice O'Conor,” * Michael O'Conor," Planxty Conor," " Planxty Drury,” “John Duignan,’ ‘Mrs. French,” • Robert Hawkes,' 'Nelly Plunket,' 'Toby Peyton,’ ‘Bridget Peyton,’ ‘Molly St. George,” • Dean Massey,' ' Mrs. Massey,' ' Doctor Delany,’ ‘Bishop of Clogher,’ ‘Catherine O'Brien," • Mary Maguire,' afterwards his wife, ‘Lady Iveagh,' ‘Viscount Iveagh,’ ‘Captain O'Kane,’ • Lord Louth,” “Lord Massareene," "Lady Massareene,” “Madame Maxwell,” “Miss Murphy,” “John Nugent,' ' Mrs. Nugent, Phelim O'Neil,' ' Mrs. O'Neil,' 'Miss Eliza o'Neil,' • Miss Mary O'Neil,’ ‘Catherine Ovolaghan,' (Nolan) “David Poer, or Power,” “Mrs. Poer,” “Planxty Reilly,” “Conor O'Reilly,” “Myles O'Reilly,” “John O'Reilly,” “Major Shanly,” “ Mervyn Spratt,' ' Mrs. Stirling,' ' Mrs. Waller,’ ‘Mr. Waller,' ' Mr. William Ward."—Those which bear his own name are ‘Carolan's Concerto," " Devotion,” “Dream,” • Elevation,’ ‘Farewell to Music,” “Fairy Queens,” * Frolick, ' Lamentation,’ “ Nightcap,' • Parting of Friends,’ ‘Planxty,” “Port London,’ ‘Last Will and Testament,” “Ramble,” • Receipt for drinking Whiskey,” “Siothean an Thus, or Peace at First," and “The Feast of O'Rourke.”
Many of these airs are now lost, and some of them are supposed to have been erroneously attributed to Carolan. To the most of his airs he suited Irish words also of his own : his knowledge of English was very imperfect.]