Phil Purcel, The Pig-Driver
by William Carleton
Phil Purcel was a singular character, for he was never married; but
notwithstanding his singularity, no man ever possessed, for practical
purposes, a more plentiful stock of duplicity. All his acquaintances
knew that Phil was a knave of the first water, yet was he decidedly a
general favorite. Now as we hate mystery ourselves, we shall reveal the
secret of this remarkable popularity; though, after all, it can scarcely
be called so, for Phil was not the first cheat who has been popular
in his day. The cause of his success lay simply in this; that he never
laughed; and, none of our readers need be told, that the appearance of
a grave cheat in Ireland is an originality which almost runs up into
a miracle. This gravity induced every one to look upon him as a
phenomenon. The assumed simplicity of his manners was astonishing,
and the ignorance which he feigned, so apparently natural, that it was
scarcely possible for the most keen-sighted searcher into human motives
to detect him. The only way of understanding the man was to deal with
him: if, after that, you did not comprehend him thoroughly, the fault
was not Phil's, but your own. Although not mirthful himself, he was the
cause of mirth in others; for, without ever smiling at his own gains, he
contrived to make others laugh at their losses. His disposition, setting
aside laughter, was strictly anomalous. The most incompatible, the most
unamalgamatible, and the most uncomeatable qualities that ever refused
to unite in the same individual, had no scruple at all to unite in Phil.
But we hate metaphysics, which we leave to the mechanical philosophers,
and proceed to state that Phil was a miser, which is the best
explanation we can give of his gravity.
Ireland, owing to the march of intellect, and the superiority of modern
refinement, has been for some years past, and is at present, well
supplied with an abundant variety of professional men, every one of whom
will undertake, for proper considerations, to teach us Irish all manner
of useful accomplishments. The drawing-master talks of his profession;
the dancing-master of his profession; the fiddler, tooth-drawer, and
corn-cutter (who by the way, reaps a richer harvest than we do), since
the devil has tempted the schoolmaster to go abroad, are all practising
in his absence, as professional men.
Now-Phil must be included among this class of grandiloquent gentlemen,
for he entered life as a Professor of Pig-driving; and it is but justice
towards him to assert, that no corn-cutter of them all ever elevated his
profession so high as Phil did that in which he practised. In fact, he
raised it to the most exalted pitch of improvement of which it was then
susceptible; or to use the cant of the day, he soon arrived at "the head
of his profession."
In Phil's time, however, pig-driving was not so general, nor had it
made such rapid advances as in modern times. It was, then, simply,
pig-driving, unaccompanied by the improvements of poverty, sickness, and
famine. Political economy had not then taught the people how to be poor
upon the most scientific principles; free trade had not shown the nation
the most approved plan of reducing itself to the lowest possible state
of distress; nor liberalism enabled the working classes to scoff at
religion, and wisely to stop at the very line that lies between outrage
and rebellion. Many errors and inconveniences, now happily exploded,
were then in existence. The people, it is true, were somewhat attached
to their landlords, but still they were burdened with the unnecessary
appendages of good coats and stout shoes; were tolerably industrious,
and had the mortification of being able to pay their rents, and feed
in comfort. They were not, as they are now, free from new coats and
old prejudices, nor improved by the intellectual march of politics and
poverty. When either a man or a nation starves, it is a luxury to starve
in an enlightened manner; and nothing is more consolatory to a person
acquainted with public rights and constitutional privileges, than to
understand those liberal principles upon which he fasts and goes naked.
From all we have said, the reader sees clearly that pig-driving did
not then proceed upon so extensive a scale as it does at present. The
people, in fact, killed many of them for their own use; and we know not
how it happened, but political ignorance and good bacon kept them in
more flesh and comfort than those theories which have since succeeded so
well in introducing the science of starvation as the basis of national
prosperity. Irishmen are frequently taxed with extravagance, in addition
to their other taxes; but we should be glad to know what people in
Europe reduce economy in the articles of food and clothing to such close
practice as they do.
Be this as it may, there was, in Ireland, an old breed of swine, which
is now nearly extinct, except in some remote parts of the country, where
they are still useful in the hunting season, particularly if dogs happen
to be scarce.* They were a tall, loose species, with legs of an unusual
length, with no flesh, short ears, as if they had been cropped for
sedition, and with long faces of a highly intellectual cast. They were
also of such activity that few greyhounds could clear a ditch or cross
a field with more agility or speed. Their backs formed a rainbow arch,
capable of being contracted or extended to an inconceivable degree; and
their usual rate of travelling in droves was at mail-coach speed, or
eight Irish miles an hour, preceded by an outrider to clear the way,
whilst their rear was brought up by another horseman, going at a
* We assure John Bull, on the authority of Purcel
himself, that this is a fact.
In the middle of summer, when all nature reposed under the united
influence of heat and dust, it was an interesting sight to witness a
drove of them sweeping past, like a whirlwind, in a cloud of their own
raising; their sharp and lengthy outlines dimly visible through the
shining haze, like a flock of antelopes crossing the deserts of the
But alas! for those happy days! This breed is now a curiosity—few
specimens of it remaining except in the mountainous parts of the
country, whither these lovers of liberty, like the free natives of the
back settlements of America, have retired to avoid the encroachments of
civilization, and exhibit their Irish antipathy to the slavish comforts
of steamboat navigation, and the relaxing luxuries of English feeding.
Indeed, their patriotism, as evinced in an attachment to Ireland and
Irish habits, was scarcely more remarkable than their sagacity. There is
not an antiquary among the members of that learned and useful body, the
Irish Academy, who can boast such an intimate knowledge of the Irish
language in all its shades of meaning and idiomatic beauty, as did this
once flourishing class of animals. Nor were they confined to the Irish
tongue alone, many of them understood English too; and it was said
of those that belonged to a convent, the members of which, in their
intercourse with each other, spoke only in Latin, that they were
tolerable masters of that language, and refused to leave a potato field
or plot of cabbages, except when addressed in it. To the English tongue,
however, they had a deep-rooted antipathy; whether it proceeded from the
national feeling, or the fact of its not being sufficiently guttural,
I cannot say; but be this as it may, it must be admitted that they were
excellent Irish scholars, and paid a surprising degree of deference and
obedience to whatever was addressed to them in their own language. In
Munster, too, such of them as belonged to the hedge-schoolmasters were
good proficients in Latin; but it is on a critical knowledge of their
native tongue that I take my stand. On this point they were unrivalled
by the most learned pigs or antiquaries of their day; none of either
class possessing, at that period, such a knowledge of Irish manners, nor
so keen a sagacity in tracing out Irish roots.
Their education, it is true, was not neglected, and their instructors
had the satisfaction of seeing that it was not lost. Nothing could
present a finer display of true friendship founded upon a sense of
equality, mutual interest, and good-will, than the Irishman and his pig.
The Arabian and his horse are proverbial; but had our English neighbors
known as much of Ireland as they did of Arabia, they would have found as
signal instances of attachment subsisting between the former as between
the latter; and, perhaps, when the superior comforts of an Arabian hut
are contrasted with the squalid poverty of an Irish cabin, they would
have perceived a heroism and a disinterestedness evinced by the Irish
parties, that would have struck them with greater admiration.
The pigs, however, of the present day are a fat, gross, and degenerate
breed; and more like well-fed aldermen, than Irish pigs of the old
school. They are, in fact, a proud, lazy, carnal race, entirely of the
earth, earthy. John Bull assures us it is one comfort, however, that
we do not eat, but ship them out of the country; yet, after all, with,
great respect to John, it is not surprising that we should repine a
little on thinking of the good old times of sixty years since, when
every Irishman could kill his own pig, and eat it when he pleased. We
question much whether any measure that might make the eating of meat
compulsory upon us, would experience from Irishmen a very decided
opposition. But it is very condescending in John to eat our beef and
mutton; and as he happens to want both, it is particularly disinterested
in him to encourage us in the practice of self-denial. It is possible,
however, that we may ultimately refuse to banquet by proxy on our own
provisions; and that John may not be much longer troubled to eat for us
in that capacity.
The education of an Irish pig, at the time of which we write, was an
important consideration to an Irishman. He, and his family, and his
pig, like the Arabian and his horse, all slept in the same bed; the
pig generally, for the sake of convenience, next the "stock" (* at the
outside). At meals the pig usually was stationed at the serahag, or
potato-basket; where the only instances of bad temper he ever displayed
broke out in petty and unbecoming squabbles with the younger branches
of the family. Indeed, if he ever descended from his high station as a
member of the domestic circle, it was upon these occasions, when, with
a want of dignity, accounted for only by the grovelling motive of
self-interest, he embroiled himself in a series of miserable feuds and
contentions about scraping the pot, or carrying off from the jealous
urchins about him more than came to his share. In these heart-burnings
about the good things of this world, he was treated with uncommon
forbearance: in his owner he always had a friend, from whom, when he
grunted out his appeal to him, he was certain of receiving redress:
"Barney, behave, avick: lay down the potstick, an' don't be batin' the
pig, the crathur."
In fact, the pig was never mentioned but with this endearing epithet of
"crathur" annexed. "Barney, go an' call home the pig, the crathur, to
his dinner, before it gets cowld an him." "Barney, go an' see if you can
see the pig, the crathur, his buckwhist will soon be ready." "Barney,
run an' dhrive the pig, the crathur, out of Larry Neil's phatie-field:
an', Barney, whisper, a bouchal bawn, don't run too hard, Barney, for
fraid you'd lose your breath. What if the crathur does get a taste o'
the new phaties—small blame to him for the same!"
In short, whatever might have been the habits of the family, such were
those of the pig. The latter was usually out early in the morning to
take exercise, and the unerring regularity with which he returned at
mealtime gave sufficient proof that procuring an appetite was a work of
supererogation on his part. If he came before the meal was prepared, his
station was at the door, which they usually shut to keep him out of
the way until it should be ready. In the meantime, so far as a forenoon
serenade and an indifferent voice could go, his powers of melody were
freely exercised on the outside. But he did not stop here: every stretch
of ingenuity was tried by which a possibility of gaining admittance
could be established. The hat and rags were repeatedly driven in from
the windows, which from practice and habit he was enabled to approach on
his hind legs; a cavity was also worn by the frequent grubbings of his
snout under the door, the lower part of which was broken away by the
sheer strength of his tusks, so that he was enabled, by thrusting
himself between the bottom of it and the ground, to make a most
unexpected appearance on the hearth, before his presence was at all
convenient or acceptable.
But, independently of these two modes of entrance, i. e., the door and
window, there was also a third, by which he sometimes scrupled not to
make a descent upon the family. This was by the chimney. There are
many of the Irish cabins built for economy's sake against slopes in the
ground, so that the labor of erecting either a gable or side-wall is
saved by the perpendicular bank that remains after the site of the house
is scooped away. Of the facilities presented by this peculiar structure,
the pig never failed to avail himself. He immediately mounted the roof
(through which, however, he sometimes took an unexpected flight),
and traversing it with caution, reached the chimney, into which he
deliberately backed himself, and with no small share of courage, went
down precisely as the northern bears are said to descend the trunks of
trees during the winter, but with far different motives.
In this manner he cautiously retrograded downwards with a hardihood,
which set furze bushes, brooms, tongs, and all other available weapons
of the cabin at defiance. We are bound, however, to declare, that this
mode of entrance, which was only resorted to when every other failed,
was usually received by the cottager and his family with a degree of
mirth and good-humor that were not lost upon the sagacity of the pig.
In order to save him from being scorched, which he deserved for his
temerity, they usually received him in a creel, often in a quilt, and
sometimes in the tattered blanket, or large pot, out of which he looked
with a humorous conception of his own enterprise, that was highly
diverting. We must admit, however, that he was sometimes received with
the comforts of a hot poker, which Paddy pleasantly called, "givin' him
a warm welcome."
Another trait in the character of these animals, was the utter scorn
with which they treated all attempts to fatten them. In fact, the usual
consequences of good feeding were almost inverted in their case; and
although I might assert that they became leaner in proportion to what
they received, yet I must confine myself to truth, by stating
candidly that this was not the fact; that there was a certain state
of fleshlessness to which they arrived, but from which they neither
advanced nor receded by good feeding or bad. At this point, despite of
all human ingenuity, they remained stationary for life, received
the bounty afforded them with a greatness of appetite resembling
the fortitude of a brave man, which rises in energy according to the
magnitude of that which it has to encounter. The truth is, they were
scandalous hypocrites; for with the most prodigious capacity for food,
they were spare as philosophers, and fitted evidently more for the chase
than the sty; rather to run down a buck or a hare for the larder, than
to have a place in it themselves. If you starved them, they defied you
to diminish their flesh; and if you stuffed them like aldermen, they
took all they got, but disdained to carry a single ounce more than
if you gave them whey thickened with water. In short, they gloried in
maceration and liberty; were good Irish scholars, sometimes acquainted
with Latin; and their flesh, after the trouble of separating it from a
superfluity of tough skin, was excellent venison so far as it went.
Now Phil Purcel, whom we will introduce more intimately to the reader by
and by, was the son of a man who always kept a pig.
His father's house had a small loft, to which the ascent was by a
step-ladder through a door in the inside gable. The first good thing
ever Phil was noticed for he said upon the following occasion. His
father happened to be called upon, one morning before breakfast, by his
landlord, who it seems occasionally visited his tenantry to encourage,
direct, stimulate, or reprove them, as the case might require. Phil was
a boy then, and sat on the hob in the corner, eyeing the landlord and
his father during their conversation. In the mean time the pig came in,
and deliberately began to ascend the ladder with an air of authority
that marked him as one in the exercise of an established right. The
landlord was astonished at seeing the animal enter the best room in the
house and could not help expressing his surprise to old Purcel:
"Why, Purcel, is your pig in the habit of treating himself to the
comforts of your best room?"
"The pig is it, the crathur? Why, your haner," said Purcel, after a
little hesitation, "it sometimes goes up of a mornin' to waken the
childhre, particularly when the buckwhist happens to be late. It doesn't
like to be waitin'; and sure none of us likes to be kept from the male's
mate, your haner, when we want it, no more than it, the crathur!"
"But I wonder your wife permits so filthy an animal to have access to
her rooms in this manner."
"Filthy!" replied Mrs. Purcel, who felt herself called upon to defend
the character of the pig, as well as her own, "why, one would think,
sir, that any crathur that's among Christyen childhre, like one o'
themselves, couldn't be filthy. I could take it to my dyin' day, that
there's not a claner or dacenter pig in the kingdom, than the same pig.
It never misbehaves, the crathur, but goes out, as wise an' riglar, jist
by a look, an' that's enough for it, any day—a single look, your haner,
the poor crathur!"
"I think," observed Phil, from the hob, "that nobody has a betther right
to the run of the house, whedher up stairs or down stairs, than him
that pays the rint."
"Well said, my lad!" observed the landlord, laughing at the quaint
ingenuity of Phil's defence. "His payment of the rent is the best
defence possible, and no doubt should cover a multitude of his errors."
"A multitude of his shins, you mane, sir," said Phil, "for thruth he's
In fact, Phil from his infancy had an uncommon attachment to these
animals, and by a mind naturally shrewd and observing, made himself
as intimately acquainted with their habits and instincts, and the best
modes of managing them, as ever the celebrated Cahir na Cappul* did
with those of the horse. Before he was fifteen, he could drive the most
vicious and obstinate pig as quietly before him as a lamb; yet no one
knew how, nor by what means he had gained the secret that enabled him to
do it. Whenever he attended a fair, his time was principally spent among
the pigs, where he stood handling, and examining, and pretending to buy
them, although he seldom had half-a-crown in his pocket. At length, by
hoarding up such small sums as he could possibly lay his hand on, he got
together the price of a "slip," which he bought, reared, and educated in
a manner that did his ingenuity great credit. When this was brought
to its ne plus ultra of fatness, he sold it, and purchased two more,
which he fed in the same way. On disposing of these, he made a fresh
purchase, and thus proceeded, until, in the course of a few years, he
was a well-known pig-jobber.
* I subjoin from Townsend's Survey of the county of
Cork a short but authentic account of this most
extraordinary character:—"James Sullivan was a native
of the county of Cork, and an awkward ignorant rustic
of the lowest class, generally known by the appellation
of the Whisperer, and his profession was horse-
breaking. The credulity of the vulgar bestowed that
epithet upon him, from an opinion that he communicated
his wishes to the animal by means of a whisper; and the
singularity of his method gave some color to the
superstitious belief. As far as the sphere of his
control extended, the boast of Veni, Vidi, Vici, was
more justly claimed by James Sullivan, than by Caesar,
or even Bonaparte himself. How his art was acquired, or
in what it consisted, is likely to remain for ever
unknown, as he has lately left the world without
divulging it. His son, who follows the same occupation,
possesses but a small portion of the art, having either
never learned its true secret, or being incapable of
putting it in practice. The wonder of his skill
consisted in the short time requisite to accomplish his
design, which was performed in private, and without any
apparent means of coercion. Every description of horse,
or even mule, whether previously broke, or unhandled,
whatever their peculiar vices or ill habits might have
been, submitted, without show of resistance, to the
magical influence of his art, and, in the short space
of half an hour, became gentle and tractable. The
effect, though instantaneously produced, was generally
durable. Though more submissive to him than to others,
yet they seemed to have acquired a docility, unknown
before. When sent for to tame a vicious horse, he
directed the stable in which he and the object of his
experiment were placed, to be shut, with orders not to
open the door until a signal given. After a tete-a-
tete between him and the horse for about half an hour,
during which little or no bustle was heard, the signal
was made; and upon opening the door, the horse was
seen, lying down, and the man by his side, playing
familiarly with him, like a child with a puppy dog.
From that time he was found perfectly willing to submit
to discipline, however repugnant to his nature before.
Some saw his skill tried on a horse, which could never
be brought to stand for a smith to shoe him. The day
after Sullivan's half hour lecture, I went, not without
some incredulity, to the smith's shop, with many other
curious spectators, where we were eye-witnesses of the
complete success of his art. This, too, had been a
troop-horse; and it was supposed, not without reason,
that after regimental discipline had failed, no other
would be found availing. I observed that the animal
seemed afraid, whenever Sullivan either spoke or looked
at him. How that extraordinary ascendancy could have
been obtained, it is difficult to conjecture, in common
eases, this mysterious preparation was unnecessary. He
seemed to possess an instinctive power of inspiring
awe, the result, perhaps, of natural intrepidity, in
which, I believe, a great part of his art consisted;
though the circumstance of his tete-a-tete shows, that,
upon particular occasions, something more must have
been added to it. A faculty like this would, in other
hands, have made a fortune, and great offers have been
made to him for the exercise of his art abroad; but
hunting, and attachment to his native soil, were his
ruling passions. He lived at home, in the style most
agreeable to his disposition, and nothing could induce
him to quit Dunhalow and the fox-hounds."
Phil's journeys as a pig-driver to the leading seaport towns nearest
him, were always particularly profitable. In Ireland, swine are not kept
in sties, as they are among English feeders, but permitted, to go at
liberty through pasture fields, commons, and along roadsides, where they
make up as well as they can for the scanty pittance allowed them at home
during meal-times. We do not, however, impeach Phil's honesty; but simply
content ourselves with saying, that when his journey was accomplished,
he mostly found the original number with which he had set out increased
by three or four, and sometimes by half a dozen. Pigs in general
resemble each other, and it surely was not Phil's fault if a stray one,
feeding on the roadside or common, thought proper to join his drove and
see the world. Phil's object, we presume, was only to take care that his
original number was not diminished, its increase being a matter in which
he felt little concern. He now determined to take a professional trip
to England, and that this might be the more productive, he resolved to
purchase a lot of the animals we have been describing. No time was lost
in this speculation. The pigs were bought up as cheaply as possible, and
Phil sat out, for the first time in his life, to try with what success
he could measure his skill against that of a Yorkshireman. On this
occasion, he brought with him a pet, which he had with considerable
pains trained up for purposes hereafter to be explained.
There was nothing remarkable in the passage, unless that every creature
on board was sea-sick, except the pigs; even to them, however, the
change was a disagreeable one; for to be pent up in the hold of a ship
was a deprivation of liberty, which, fresh as they were from their
native hills, they could not relish. They felt, therefore, as patriots,
a loss of freedom, but not a whit of appetite; for, in truth, of the
latter no possible vicissitude short of death could deprive them.
Phil, however, with an assumed air of simplicity absolutely stupid,
disposed of them to a Yorkshire dealer at about twice the value they
would have brought in Ireland, though as pigs went in England it was low
enough. He declared that they had been fed on tip-top feeding: which was
literally true, as he afterwards admitted that the tops of nettles and
potato stalks constituted the only nourishment they had got for three
The Yorkshireman looked with great contempt upon what he considered a
miserable essay to take him in.
"What a fule this Hirishmun mun bea;" said he, "to think to teake me
in! Had he said that them there Hirish swoine were badly feade, I'd
ha' thought it fairish enough on un; but to seay that they was oll weal
feade on tip-top feeadin'! Nea, nea! I knaws weal enough that they
was noat feade on nothin' at oll, which meakes them loak so poorish!
Howsomever, I shall fatten them. I'se warrant—I'se warrant I shall!"
When driven home to sties somewhat more comfortable than the cabins of
unfortunate Irishmen, they were well supplied with food which would have
been very often considered a luxury by poor Paddy himself, much less by
"Measter," said the man who had seen them fed, "them there Hirish pigs
ha' not feasted nout for a moonth yet: they feade like nout I seed o' my
"Ay! ay!" replied the master, "I'se warrant they'll soon fatten—I'se
warrant they shall, Hodge—they be praime feeders—I'se warrant they
shall; and then, Hodge, we've bit the soft Hirishmun."
Hodge gave a knowing look at his master, and grinned at this
The next morning Hodge repaired to the sties to see how they were
thriving; when, to his great consternation, he found the feeding-troughs
clean as if they had been washed, and, not a single Irish pig to be seen
or heard about the premises; but to what retreat the animals could
have betaken themselves, was completely beyond his comprehension. He
scratched his head, and looked about him in much perplexity.
"Dang un!" he exclaimed, "I never seed nout like this."
He would have proceeded in a strain of cogitation equally enlightened,
had not a noise of shouting, alarm, and confusion in the neighborhood,
excited his attention. He looked about him, and to his utter
astonishment saw that some extraordinary commotion prevailed, that the
country was up, and the hills alive with people, who ran, and shouted,
and wheeled at full flight in all possible directions. His first object
was to join the crowd, which he did as soon as possible, and found that
the pigs he had shut up the preceding night in sties whose enclosures
were at least four feet high, had cleared them like so many chamois, and
were now closely pursued by the neighbors, who rose en masse to hunt
down and secure such dreadful depredators.
The waste and mischief they had committed in one night were absolutely
astonishing. Bean and turnip fields, and vegetable enclosures of all
descriptions, kitchen-gardens, corn-fields, and even flower-gardens,
were rooted up and destroyed with an appearance of system which would
have done credit to Terry Alt himself.
Their speed was the theme of every tongue. Hedges were taken in their
flight, and cleared in a style that occasioned the country people to
turn up their eyes, and scratch their heads in wonder. Dogs of all
degrees bit the dust, and were caught up dead in stupid amazement by
their owners, who began to doubt whether or not these extraordinary
animals were swine at all. The depredators in the meantime had adopted
the Horatian style of battle. Whenever there was an ungenerous advantage
taken in the pursuit, by slipping dogs across or before their path,
they shot off, at a tangent through the next crowd; many of whom they
prostrated in their flight; by this means they escaped the dogs until
the latter were somewhat exhausted, when, on finding one in advance of
the rest, they turned, and, with standing bristles and burning tusks,
fatally checked their pursuer in his full career. To wheel and fly until
another got in advance, was then the plan of fight; but, in fact the
conflict was conducted on the part of the Irish pigs with a fertility of
expediency that did credit to their country, and established for those
who displayed it, the possession of intellect far superior to that of
their opponents. The pigs now began to direct their course towards the
sties in which they had been so well fed the night before. This being
their last flight they radiated towards one common centre, with a
fierceness and celerity that occasioned the woman and children to take
shelter within doors. On arriving at the sties, the ease with which they
shot themselves over the four-feet walls was incredible. The farmer had
caught the alarm, and just came out in time to witness their return; he
stood with his hands driven down into the pockets of his red, capacious
waistcoat, and uttered not a word. When the last of them came bounding
into the sty, Hodge approached, quite breathless and exhausted:
"Oh, measter," he exclaimed, "these be not Hirish pigs at oll, they be
Hirish devils; and yau mun ha' bought 'em fra a cunning mon!"
"Hodge," replied his master, "I'se be bit—I'se heard feather talk about
un. That breed's true Hirish: but I'se try and sell 'em to Squoire Jolly
to hunt wi' as beagles, for he wants a pack. They do say all the swoine
that the deevils were put into ha' been drawn; but for my peart, I'se
sure that some on un must ha' escaped to Hireland."
Phil during the commotion excited by his knavery in Yorkshire, was
traversing the country, in order to dispose of his remaining pig; and
the manner in which he effected his first sale of it was as follows:
A gentleman was one evening standing with some laborers by the wayside
when a tattered Irishman, equipped in a pair of white dusty brogues,
stockings without feet, old patched breeches, a bag slung across his
shoulder, his coarse shirt lying open about a neck tanned by the sun
into a reddish yellow, a hat nearly the color of the shoes, and a hay
rope tied for comfort about his waist; in one hand he also held a straw
rope, that depended from the hind leg of a pig which he drove before
him; in the other was a cudgel, by the assistance of which he contrived
to limp on after it, his two shoulder-blades rising and falling
alternately with a shrugging motion that indicated great fatigue.
When he came opposite where the gentleman stood he checked the pig,
which instinctively commenced feeding upon the grass by the edge of the
"Och," said he, wiping his brow with the cuff of his coat, "mavrone
orth a muck,* but I'm kilt wit you. Musha, Gad bless yer haner, an'
maybe ye'd buy a slip of a pig fwhrom me, that has my heart bruck, so
she has, if ever any body's heart was bruck wit the likes of her; an'
sure so there was, no doubt, or I wouldn't be as I am wid her. I'll give
her a dead bargain, sir; for it's only to get her aff av my hands I'm
wanting plase yer haner—husth amuck—husth, a veehone!** Be asy, an'
me in conwersation wid his haner here!"
* My sorrow on you for a pig.
** Silence pig! Silence, you pig! Silence, you
"You are an Irishman?" the gentleman inquired.
"I am, sir, from Connaught, yer haner, an' ill sell the crathur dag
cheap, all out. Asy, you thief!"
"I don't want the pig, my good fellow," replied the Englishman,
without evincing curiosity enough to inquire how he came to have such a
commodity for sale.
"She'd be the darlint in no time wid you, sir; the run o' your kitchen
'ud make her up a beauty, your haner, along wit no trouble to the
sarvints about sweepin' it, or any thing. You'd only have to lay down
the potato-basket on the flure, or the misthress, Gad bless her, could
do it, an' not lave a crumblin' behind her, besides sleepin, your haner,
in the carner beyant, if she'd take the throuble."
The sluggish phlegm of the Englisman was stirred up a little by the
twisted, and somewhat incomprehensible nature of these instructions.
"How far do you intend to proceed tonight, Paddy?" said he.
"The sarra one o' myself knows, plaze yer haner: sure we've an ould
sayin' of our own in Ireland beyant—that he's a wise man can I tell how
far he'll go, sir, till he comes to his journey's ind. I'll give this
crathur to you at more nor her value, yer haner."
"More!—why the man knows not what he's saying," observed the gentleman;
"less you mean, I suppose, Paddy?"
"More or less, sir: you'll get her a bargain; an' Gad bless you, sir!"
"But it is a commodity which I don't want at present. I am very well
stocked with pigs, as it is. Try elsewhere."
"She'd flog the counthry side, sir; an' if the misthress herself, sir,
'ud shake the wishp o' sthraw fwor her in the kitchen, sir, near the
whoire. Yer haner could spake to her about it; an' in no time put a
knife into her whin you plazed. In regard o' the other thing, sir—she's
like a Christyeen, yer haner, an' no throuble, sir, if you'd be seein'
company or any thing."
"It's an extraordinary pig, this, of yours."
"It's no lie fwhor you, sir; she's as clane an' dacent a crathur, sir!
Och, if the same pig 'ud come into the care o' the misthress, Gad
bliss her! an' I'm sure if she has as much gudness in her face as the
hanerable dinnha ousahl (* gentleman)—the handsome gintleman she's
married upon!—you'll have her thrivin' bravely, sir, shartly, plase
Gad, if you'll take courage. Will I dhrive her up the aveny fwor you,
sir? A good gintlewoman I'm sure, is the same misthriss! Will I dhrive
her up fwor you, sir? Shadh amuck—shadh dherin!"*
*Behave yourself pig—behave, I say!
"No, no; I have no further time to lose; you may go forward."
"Thank your haner; is it whorid toarst the house abow, sir? I wouldn't
be standin' up, sir, wit you about a thrifle; an you'll have her, sir,
fwhor any thing you plase beyant a pound, yer haner; an' 'tis throwin'
her away it is: but one can't be hard wit a rale gintleman any way."
"You only annoy me, man; besides I don't want the pig; you lose time; I
don't want to buy it, I repeat to you."
"Gad bliss you, sir—Gad bliss you. Maybe if I'd make up to the
mishthress, yer haner! Thrath she wouldn't turn the crathur from the
place, in regard that the tindherness ow the feelin' would come ower
her—the rale gintlewoman, any way! 'Tis dag chape you have her at what
I said, sir; an' Gad bliss you!"
"Do you want to compel me to purchase it whether I will or no?"
"Thrath, it's whor next to nothin' I'm giv-in' her to you, sir; but
sure you can make your own price at any thing beyant a pound. Huerish
amuck—sladh anish!—be asy, you crathur, sure you're gettin' into good
quarthers, any how—go into the hanerable English gintleman's kitchen,
an' God knows it's a pleasure to dale wit 'em. Och, the world's differ
there is betuxt them, an' our own dirty Irish buckeens, that 'ud shkin
a bad skilleen, an' pay their debts wit the remaindher. The gateman 'ud
let me in, yer haner, an' I'll meet you at the big house, abow."
"Upon my honor this is a good jest," said the gentleman, absolutely
teased into a compliance; "you are forcing me to buy that which I don't
"Sure you will, sir; you'll want more nor that yit, please Gad, if you
be spared. Come, amuck—come, you crathur; faix you're in luck so you
are—gettin' so good a place wit his haner, here, that you won't know
yourself shortly, plase God."
He immediately commenced driving his pig towards the gentleman's
residence with such an air of utter simplicity, as would have imposed
upon any man not guided by direct inspiration. Whilst he approached the
house, its proprietor arrived there by another path a few minutes before
him, and, addressing his lady, said:
"My dear, will you come and look at a purchase which an Irishman has
absolutely compelled me to make? You had better come and see himself,
too, for he is the greatest simpleton of an Irishman I have ever met
The lady's curiosity was more easily excited than that of her husband.
She not only came out, but brought with her some ladies who had been on
a visit, in order to hear the Irishman's brogue, and to amuse themselves
at his expense. Of the pig, too, it appeared she was determined to know
"George, my love, is the pig also from Ireland?"
"I don't know, my dear; but I should think so from its fleshless
appearance. I have never seen so spare an animal of that class in this
"Juliana," said one of the ladies to her companion, "don't go too near
him. Gracious! look at the bludgeon, or beam, or something he carries
in his hand, to fight' and beat the people, I suppose: yet," she added,
putting up her glass, "the man is actually not ill-looking; and, though
not so tall as the Irishman in Sheridan's Rivals, he is well made."
"His eyes are good," said her companion—"a bright gray, and keen; and
were it not that his nose is rather short and turned up, he would be
"George, my love," exclaimed the lady of the mansion, "he is like most
Irishmen of his class that I have seen; indeed, scarcely so intelligent,
for he does appear quite a simpleton, except, perhaps, a lurking kind of
expression, which is a sign of their humor, I suppose. Don't you think
so, my love?"
"No, my dear; I think him a bad specimen of the Irishman. Whether it
is that he talks our language but imperfectly, or that he is a stupid
creature, I cannot say; but in selling the pig just now, he actually
told me that he would let me have it for more than it was worth."
"Oh, that was so laughable! We will speak to him, though."
The degree of estimation in which these civilized English held Phil was
so low, that this conversation took place within a few yards of him,
precisely as if he had been an animal of an inferior species, or one of
the aborigines of New Zealand.
"Pray what is your name?" inquired the matron.
"Phadhrumshagh Corfuffle, plase yer haner: my fadher carried the same
name upon him. We're av the Corfuflies av Leatherum Laghy, my lady; but
my grandmudher was a Dornyeen, an' my own mudher, plase yer haner, was
o' the Shudhurthagans o' Ballymadoghy, my ladyship, Sladh anish, amuck
bradagh!*—be asy, can't you, an' me in conwersation wit the beauty o'
the world that I'm spakin' to."
* Be quiet now, you wicked pig.
"That's the Negus language," observed,one of the young ladies, who
affected to be a wit and a blue-stocking; "it's Irish and English
"Thrath, an' but that the handsome young lady's so purty," observed
Phil, "I'd be sayin' myself that that's a quare remark upon a poor
unlarned man; but, Gad bless her, she is so purty what can one say for
lookin' an her!"
"The poor man, Adelaide, speaks as well as he can," replied the lady,
rather reprovingly: "he is by no means so wild as one would have
"Candidly speaking, much tamer than I expected," rejoined the wit.
Indeed, I meant the poor Irishman no offence."
"Where did you get the pig, friend? and how came you to have it for sale
so far from home?"
"Fwhy it isn't whor sale, my lady," replied Phil, evading the former
question; "the masther here, Gad bless him an' spare him to you,
ma'am!—thrath, an' it's his four quarthers that knew how to pick out
a wife, any how, whor beauty an' all hanerable whormations o'
grandheur—so he did; an' well he desarves you, my lady: faix, it's a
fine houseful o' thim you'll have, plase Gad—an' fwhy not? whin it's
all in the coorse o' Providence, bein' both so handsome:—he gev me a
pound note whor her my ladyship, an' his own plisure aftherwards; an'
I'm now waitin' to be ped."
"What kind of a country is Ireland, as I understand you are an
"Thrath, my lady, it's like fwhat maybe you never seen—a fool's purse,
ten guineas goin' out whor one that goes in."
"Upon my word that's wit," observed the young blue-stocking.
"What's your opinion of Irishwomen?" the lady continued; "are they
handsomer than the English ladies, think you?"
"Murdher, my lady," says Phil, raising his caubeen, and scratching his
head in pretended perplexity, with his linger and thumb, "fwhat am I to
say to that, ma'am, and all of yez to the fwhore? But the sarra one av
me will give it agin the darlin's beyant."
"But which do you think the more handsome?"
"Thrath, I do, my lady; the Irish and English women would flog the
world, an' sure it would be a burnin' shame to go to sot them agin one
another fwhor beauty."
"Whom do you mean by the 'darlin's beyant?'" inquired the blue-stocking,
attempting to pronounce the words.
"Faix, miss, who but the crathers ower the wather, that kills us
entirely, so they do."
"I cannot comprehend him," she added to the lady of the mansion.
"Arrah, maybe I'd make bould to take up the manners from you fwhor a
while, my lady, Plase yer haner?" said Phil, addressing the latter.
"I do not properly understand you," she replied, "speak plainer."
"Troth, that's fwhat they do, yer haner; they never go about the bush
wit yez—the gintlemen, ma'am, of our country, fwhin they do be coortin'
yez; an' I want to ax, ma'am, if you plase, fwhat you think of thim,
that is if ever any of them had the luck to come acrass you, my lady?"
"I have not been acquainted with many Irish gentlemen," she replied,
"but I hear they are men of a remarkable character."
"Faix, 'tis you may say that," replied Phil; "sowl, my lady, 'tis well
for the masther here, plase yer haner, sir, that none o' them met
wit the misthress before you was both marrid, or, wit riverence be it
spoken, 'tis the sweet side o' the tongue they'd be layin' upon you,
ma'am, an' the rough side to the masther himself, along wit a few
scrapes of a pen on a slip o' paper, jist to appoint the time and place,
in regard of her ladyship's purty complexion—an' who can deny that,
any way? Faix, ma'am, they've a way wit them, my counthrymen, that the
ladies like well enough to thravel by. Asy, you deludher, an' me in
conwersaytion wit the quality."
"I am quite anxious to know how you came by the pig, Paddy," said the
"Arrah, miss, sure 'tisn't pigs you're thinkin' on, an' us discoorsin'
about the gintlemen from Ireland, that you're all so fond ow here; faix,
miss, they're the boys that fwoight for yees, an' 'ud rather be bringing
an Englishman to the sad fwhor your sakes, nor atin' bread an' butther.
Fwhy, now, miss, if you were beyant wit us, sarra ounce o' gunpqwdher
we'd have in no time, for love or money."
"Upon my word I should like to see Ireland!" exclaimed the
blue-stocking; "but why would the gunpowder get scarce, pray?"
"Faix, fightin' about you, miss, an' all of yez, sure; for myself sees
no differ at all in your hanerable fwhormations of beauty and grandheur,
an' all high-flown admirations."
"But tell us where you got the pig, Paddy?" persisted the wit, struck
naturally enough with the circumstance. "How do you come to have an
Irish pig so far from home?"
"Fwhy thin, miss, 'twas to a brother o' my own I was bringing it, that
was livin' down the counthry here, an' fwhin I came to fwhere he lived,
the sarra one o' me knew the place, in regard o' havin' forgotten the
name of it entirely, an' there was I wit the poor crathur an my hands,
till his haner here bought it from me—Gad bless you, sir!"
"As I live, there's a fine Irish blunder," observed the wit; "I shall
put in my commonplace-book—it will be so genuine. I declare I'm quite
"Well, Paddy," said the gentleman, "here's your money. There's a pound
for you, and that's much more than the miserable animal is worth."
"Troth, sir, you have the crathur at what we call in Ireland a bargain.*
Maybe yer haner 'ud spit upon the money fwhor luck, sir. It's the way we
do, sir, beyant."
* Ironically—a take in.
"No, no, Paddy, take it as it is. Good heavens! what barbarous habits
these Irish have in all their modes of life, and how far they are
removed from anything like civilization!"
"Thank yer haner. Faix, sir, this'll come so handy for the landlord at
kome, in regard o' the rint for the bit o' phatie ground, so it will, if
I can get home agin widout brakin' it. Arrah, maybe yer haner 'ud give
me the price o' my bed, an' a bit to ate, sir, an' keep me from brakin'
in upon this, sir, Gad bless the money! I'm thinkin' o' the poor wife
an' childher, sir—strivin', so I am, to do fwhor the darlins."
"Poor soul," said the lady, "he is affectionate in the midst of his
wretchedness and ignorance."
"Here—here," replied the Englishman, anxious to get rid of him,
"there's a shilling, which I give because you appear to be attached to
"Och, och, fwhat can I say, sir, only that long may you reign ower your
family, an' the hanerable ladies to the fwore, sir. Gad fwhorever bliss
you, sir, but you're the kind, noble gintleman, an' all belongin' to
Having received the shilling, he was in the act of departing, when,
after turning it deliberately in his hand, shrugging his shoulders
two or three times, and scratching his head, with a vacant face he
approached the lady.
"Musha, ma'am, an maybe ye'd have the tindherness in your heart, seein'
that the gudness is in yer hanerable face, any way, an' it would save
the skillyeen that the masther gev'd for payin' my passage, so it would,
jist to bid the steward, my ladyship, to ardher me a bit to ate in the
kitchen below. The hunger, ma'am, is hard upon me, my lady; an' fwhat
I'm doin', sure, is in regard o' the wife at home, an' the childher, the
crathurs, an' me far fwhrom them, in a sthrange country, Gad help me!"
"What a singular being, George! and how beautifully is the economy of
domestic affection exemplified, notwithstanding his half-savage
state, in the little plans he devises for the benefit of his wife and
children!" exclaimed the good lady, quite unconscious that Phil was
a bachelor. "Juliana, my love, desire Timmins to give him his dinner.
Follow this young lady, good man, and she will order you refreshment."
"Gad's blessin' upon your beauty an' gudness, my lady; an' a man might
thravel far afore he'd meet the likes o' you for aither o' them. Is it
the other handsome young lady I'm to folly, ma'am?"
"Yes," replied the young wit, with an arch smile; "come after me."
"Thrath, miss, an' it's an asy task to do that, any way; wit a heart an'
a half I go, acushla; an' I seen the day, miss, that it's not much of
mate an' dhrink would thruble me, if I jist got lave to be lookin' at
you, wit nothing but yourself to think an. But the wife an' childher,
miss, makes great changes in us entirely."
"Why you are quite gallant, Paddy."
"Trath, I suppose I am now, miss; but you see, my honerable young lady,
that's our fwhailin' at home: the counthry's poor, an' we can't help it,
whedor or not. We're fwhorced to it, miss, whin we come ower here, by
you, an' the likes o' you, mavourneen!"
Phil then proceeded to the house, was sent to the kitchen by the young
lady, and furnished through the steward with an abundant supply of
cold meat, bread, and beer, of which he contrived to make a meal that
somewhat astonished the servants. Having satisfied his hunger, he
deliberately—but with the greatest simplicity of countenance—filled
the wallet which he carried slung across his back, with whatever he had
left, observing as he did it:—
"Fwhy, thin, 'tis sthrange it is, that the same custom is wit us in
Ireland beyant that is here: fwhor whinever a thraveller is axed in, he
always brings fwhat he doesn't ate along wit him. An sure enough it's
the same here amongst yez," added he, packing up the bread and beef as
he spoke, "but Gad bliss the custom, any how, fwhor it's a good one!"
When he had secured the provender, and was ready to resume his journey,
he began to yawn, and to exhibit the most unequivocal symptoms of
"Arrah, sir," said he to the steward, "you wouldn't have e'er an ould
barn that I'd throw myself in fwhor the night? The sarra leg I have to
put undher me, now that I've got stiff with the sittin' so lang; that,
an' a wishp o' sthraw, to sleep an, an' Gad bliss you!"
"Paddy, I cannot say," replied the steward; "but I shall ask my master,
and if he orders it, you shall have the comfort of a hard floor and
clean straw, Paddy—that you shall."
"Many thanks to you, sir: it's in your face, in thrath, the same gudness
The gentleman, on hearing Phil's request to be permitted a
sleeping-place in the barn, was rather surprised at his wretched notion
of comfort than at the request itself.
"Certainly, Timmins, let him sleep there," he replied; "give him sacks
and straw enough. I dare say he will feel the privilege a luxury,
poor devil, after his fatigue. Give him his breakfast in the morning,
Timmins. Good heavens," he added, "what a singular people! What an
amazing progress civilization must make before these Irish can be
brought at all near the commonest standard of humanity!"
At this moment Phil, who was determined to back the steward's request,
"Paddy," said the gentleman, anticipating him, "I have ordered you sacks
and straw in the barn, and your breakfast in the morning before you set
"Thrath," said Phil, "if there's e'er a stray blissin' goin', depind an
it, sir, you'll get it fwhor your hanerable ginerosity to the sthranger.
But about the 'slip,' sir—if the misthress herself 'ud shake the whisp
o' sthraw fwhor her in the far carner o' the kitchen below, an' see her
gettin' her supper, the crathur, before she'd put her to bed, she'd be
thrivin' like a salmon, sir, in less than no time; and to ardher the
sarwints, sir, if you plase, not to be defraudin' the crathur of the big
phaties. Fwhor in regard it cannot spake fwhor itself, sir, it frets as
wise as a Christyeen, when it's not honestly thrated."
"Never fear, Paddy; we shall take good care of it."
"Thank you, sir, but I aften heered, sir, that you dunno how to feed
pigs in this counthry in ardher to mix the fwhat an' lane, lair (layer)
"And how do you manage that in Ireland, Paddy?"
"Fwhy, sir, I'll tell you how the misthress Gad bless her, will manage
it fwhor you. Take the crathur, sir, an' feed it to-morrow, till its as
full as a tick—that's for the fwhat, sir; thin let her give it nothin'
at all the next day, but keep it black fwhastin'—that's fwhor the lane
(leap). Let her stick to that, sir, keepin' it atin' one day an' fastin'
an-odher, for six months, thin put a knife in it, an' if you don't have
the fwhat an' lane, lair about, beautiful all out, fwhy nirer bl'eve
Phadrumshagh Corfuffle agin. Ay, indeed!"
The Englishman looked keenly at Phil, but could only read in his
countenance a thorough and implicit belief in his own recipe for mixing
the fat and lean. It is impossible to express his contempt for the sense
and intellect of Phil; nothing could surpass it but the contempt which
Phil entertained for him.
"Well," said he to the servant, "I have often heard of the barbarous
habits of the Irish, but I must say that the incidents of this evening
have set my mind at rest upon the subject. Good heavens! when will ever
this besotted country rise in the scale of nations! Did ever a human
being hear of such a method of feeding swine! I should have thought it
incredible had I heard it from any but an Irishman!"
Phil then retired to the kitchen, where his assumed simplicity highly
amused the servants, who, after an hour or two's fun with "Paddy,"
conducted him in a kind of contemptuous procession to the barn, where
they left him to his repose.
The next morning he failed to appear at the hour of breakfast, but his
non-appearance was attributed to his fatigue, in consequence of which he
was supposed to have overslept himself. On going, however, to call him
from the barn, they discovered that he had decamped; and on looking
after the "slip," it was found that both had taken French leave of the
Englishman. Phil and the pig had actually travelled fifteen miles that
morning, before the hour on which he was missed—Phil going at a dog's
trot, and the pig following at such a respectful distance as might not
appear to identify them as fellow-travellers. In this manner Phil
sold the pig to upwards of two dozen intelligent English gentlemen and
farmers, and after winding up his bargains successfully, both arrived in
Liverpool, highly delighted by their commercial trip through England.
The passage from Liverpool to Dublin, in Phil's time, was far different
to that which steam and British enterprise have since made it. A vessel
was ready to sail for the latter place on the very day of Phil's arrival
in town; and, as he felt rather anxious to get out of England as soon
as he could, he came, after selling his pig in good earnest, to the
aforesaid vessel to ascertain if it were possible to get a deck passage.
The year had then advanced to the latter part of autumn; so that it
was the season when those inconceivable hordes of Irishmen who emigrate
periodically for the purpose of lightening John Bull's labor, were
in the act of returning to that country in which they find little to
welcome them—but domestic affection and misery.
When Phil arrived at the vessel, he found the captain in a state of
peculiar difficulty. About twelve or fourteen gentlemen of rank and
property, together with a score or upwards of highly respectable
persons, but of less consideration, were in equal embarrassment. The
fact was, that as no other vessel left Liverpool that day, about five
hundred Irishmen, mostly reapers and mowers, had crowded upon deck, each
determined to keep his place at all hazards. The captain, whose vessel
was small, and none of the stoutest, flatly refused to put to sea with
such a number. He told them it was madness to think of it; he could not
risk the lives of the other passengers, nor even their own, by sailing
with five hundred on the deck of so small a vessel. If the one-half of
them would withdraw peaceably, he would carry the other half, which was
as much as he could possibly accomplish. They were very willing to grant
that what he said was true; but in the meantime, not a man of them
would move, and to clear out such a number of fellows, who loved nothing
better than fighting, armed, too, with sickles and scythes, was a task
beyond either his ability or inclination to execute. He remonstrated
with them, entreated, raged, swore, and threatened; but all to no
purpose. His threats and entreaties were received with equal good-humor.
Gibes and jokes were broken on him without number, and as his passion
increased, so did their mirth, until nothing could be seen but the
captain in vehement gesticulation, the Irishmen huzzaing him so
vociferously, that his damns and curses, uttered against them, could not
reach even his own ears.
"Gentlemen," said he to his cabin passengers, "for the love of Heaven,
tax your invention to discover some means whereby to get one-half of
these men out of the vessel, otherwise it will be impossible that we can
sail to-day. I have already proffered to take one-half of them by lot,
but they will not hear of it; and how to manage I am sure I don't know."
The matter, however, was beyond their depth; the thing seemed utterly
impracticable, and the chances of their putting to sea were becoming
fainter and fainter.
"Bl—t their eyes!" he at length exclaimed, "the ragged, hungry devils!
If they heard me with decency I could bear their obstinacy bettor: but
no, they must turn me into ridicule, and break their jests, and turn
their cursed barbarous grins upon me in my own vessel. I say, boys,"
he added, proceeding to address them once more—"I say, savages, I have
just three observations to make. The first is,"—
"Arrah, Captain, avourneen, hadn't you betther get upon a stool," said
a voice, "an' put a text before it, thin divide it dacently into three
halves, an' make a sarmon of it."
"Captain, you wor intended for the church," added another. "You're the
moral (* model) of a Methodist preacher, if you wor dressed in black."
"Let him alone," said a third; "he'd be a jinteel man enough in a
wildherness, an' 'ud make an illigant dancin'-masther to the bears."
"He's as graceful as a shaved pig on its hind legs, dancin' the
The captain's face was literally black with passion: he turned away with
a curse, which produced another huzza, and swore that he would rather
encounter the Bay of Biscay in a storm, than have anything to do with
such an unmanageable mob.
"Captain," said a little, shrewd-looking Connaught man, "what 'ud you be
willin' to give anybody, ower an' abow his free passage, that 'ud tell
you how to get one half o' them out?"
"I'll give him a crown," replied the captain, "together with grog and
rations to the eyes: I'll be hanged if I don't."
"Then I'll do it fwhor you, sir, if you keep your word wit me."
"Done!" said the captain; "it's a bargain, my good fellow, if you
accomplish it; and, what's more, I'll consider you a knowing one."
"I'm a poor Cannaught man, your haner," replied our friend Phil; "but
what's to prevent me thryin'? Tell thim," he continued, "that you must
go; purtind to be for takin' thim all wit you, sir. Put Munster agin
Connaught, one-half on this side, an' the odher an that, to keep the
crathur of a ship steady, your haner; an' fwhin you have thim half
an' half, wit a little room betuxt thim, 'now,' says yer haner, 'boys,
you're divided into two halves; if one side kicks the other out o' the
ship, I'll bring the conquirors.'"
The captain said not a word in reply to Phil, but immediately ranged the
Munster and Connaught men on each side of the deck—a matter which he
found little difficulty in accomplishing, for each party, hoping that he
intended to take themselves, readily declared their province, and stood
together. When they were properly separated, there still remained about
forty or fifty persons belonging to neither province; but, at Phil's
suggestion, the captain paired them off to each division, man for man,
until they were drawn up into two bodies.
"Now" said he, "there you stand: let one-half of you drub the other out
of the vessel, and the conquerors shall get their passage."
Instant was the struggle that ensued for the sake of securing a passage,
and from the anxiety to save a shilling, by getting out of Liverpool
on that day. The saving of the shilling is indeed a consideration with
Paddy which drives him to the various resources of begging, claiming
kindred with his resident countrymen in England, pretended illness,
coming to be passed from parish to parish, and all the turnings and
shiftings which his reluctance to part with money renders necessary.
Another night, therefore, and probably another day, in Liverpool, would
have been attended with expense. This argument prevailed with all: with
Munster as well as with Connaught, and they fought accordingly.
When the attack first commenced, each, party hoped to be able to expel
the other without blows. This plan was soon abandoned. In a few minutes
the sticks and fists were busy. Throttling, tugging, cuffing, and
knocking down—shouting, hallooing, huzzaing, and yelling, gave evident
proofs that the captain, in embracing Phil's proposal, had unwittingly
applied the match to a mine, whose explosion was likely to be attended
with disastrous consequences. As the fight became warm, and the struggle
more desperate, the hooks and scythes were resorted to; blood began to
flow, and men to fall, disabled and apparently dying. The immense crowd
which had now assembled to witness the fight among the Irishmen, could
not stand tamely by, and see so many lives likely to be lost, without
calling in the civil authorities. A number of constables in a few
minutes attended; but these worthy officers of the civil authorities
experienced very uncivil treatment from the fists, cudgels, and sickles
of both parties. In fact, they were obliged to get from among the
rioters with all possible celerity, and to suggest to the magistrates
the necessity of calling ir the military.
In the meantime the battle rose into a furious and bitter struggle for
victory. The deck of the vessel was actually slippery with blood, and
many were lying in an almost lifeless state. Several were pitched into
the hold, and had their legs and arms broken by the fall; some were
tossed over the sides of the vessel, and only saved from drowning by
the activity of the sailors; and not a few of those who had been knocked
down in the beginning of the fray were trampled into insensibility.
The Munster men at length gave way; and their opponents, following up
their advantage, succeeded in driving them to a man out of the vessel,
just as the military arrived. Fortunately their interference was
unnecessary. The ruffianly captain's object was accomplished; and as
no lives were lost, nor any injury more serious than broken bones and
flesh-wounds sustained, he got the vessel in readiness, and put to sea.
Who would not think that the Irish were a nation of misers, when
our readers are informed that all this bloodshed arose from their
unwillingness to lose a shilling by remaining in Liverpool another
night? Or who could believe that these very men, on reaching home, and
meeting their friends in a fair or market, or in a public-house after
mass on a Sunday, would sit down and spend, recklessly and foolishly,
that very money which in another country they part with as if it were
their very heart's blood? Yet so it is! Unfortunately, Paddy is wiser
anywhere than at home, where wisdom, sobriety, and industry are best
calculated to promote his own interests.
This slight sketch of Phil Purcel we have presented to our readers as
a specimen of the low, cunning Connaught-man; and we have only to add,
that neither the pig-selling scene, nor the battle on the deck of the
vessel in Liverpool, is fictitious. On the contrary, we have purposely
kept the tone of our description of the latter circumstance beneath the
reality. Phil, however, is not drawn as a general portrait, but as
one of that knavish class of men called "jobbers," a description
of swindlers certainly not more common in Ireland than in any other
country. We have known Connaughtmen as honest and honorable as it was
possible to be; yet there is a strong prejudice entertained against
them in every other province of Ireland, as is evident by the old adage,
"Never trust a Connaugtaman."