BETA

DANIEL O’ROURKE, AN EPIC POEM.


(Private.)

SIR,
July 25, 1820.
The accompanying verses were written by a friend of mine, who asks me to
introduce him to you. He is willing to submit them entirely to your judg-
ment ; and I shall not attempt to bias it by any observations on their merits or
demerits. I shall only remark, that he has five cantos of this length, either
written or planned—I do not know which—a length fixed on to accommodate
each portion to two or three pages in your Magazine, The story is very droll
and fanciful, and tells admirably in prose. It is, I believe, original. I have
not time to give the outlines of it, but the names of his cantos (if that can be
any guide to you) are, 1st, Paddy Blake. 2d, The Mountain Daisy. 3d, The
Eagle Flight. 4th, The Moon. 5th, The Pail of Water.
Whether you accept or reject this communication, write to me about it
speedily. I shall not conceal it from you, that I wish my friend were well re-
ceived by you, as he is a very witty, and what is a great deal better, a very
worthy fellow. This, I believe, is his first transgression in the way of rhyme.
I sent you some mystification about Jeffrey a few days ago. I hope it helped
you to fill a page or two. As I am on the subject of contributions, I can tell
you that I could procure some dozen of followers here to send you articles, but
they are almost all rhymsters, and I see you are too well supplied with that
commodity. I believe there is not a single person here, who ever thinks
of writing a serious, or a critical, or a literary prose article, and our ways are
quite localized. They amuse themselves with pasquinading their neighbours
in various little publications, quite unintelligible, out of the precinets of —
A similar system seems to prevail likewise at Cork. The gentleman who wrote
Dowden’s speech for you has just written a narrative of his madness, which
he intends to print. It really is equal to Swift in wit, and just as libellous.
I visit Cork pretty often on business, and endeavour to turn the good people
to better things, but it will not do. You are quite popular there. 
I remain,
dear Sir, your’s, &c.
R. T. S.

MR EDITOR,
I spent the spring of this year in sailing about the south-western coast of
Ireland, and I do not think I ever passed a pleasanter time in all my life. From
the mouth of the Blackwater to that of the Kenmure, there is not a port, creek,
or landing-place, at which I have not an acquaintance, and my boat’s com-
pany were as gay fellows as ever reefed a sail or feathered an oar. I am sure,
if I had time or inclination to write a detail of my adventures, I could fill three
octavos as large as Peter’s Letters, not indeed like that worthy Welch physi-
cian, with accounts of literary people, but with pleasant histories of all sorts
of sport by land and sea. The coast abounds with situations delightful equally
to the poet and the smuggler—with romantic beauties that enchant the soul,
and nooks obscure that defy the gauger. In which capacity I visited them it
imports little to you.
In the course of my cruize I stopped at Glangariffe, a place abounding with the
picturesque. I know every man about it from Squire Sim White, down to the
round dozens of Sullivans that fill up the ranks of the population. It is a soli-
tary spot, yet it has its amusements as well as other places. I slept one night
at the little alehouse, and before I went to bed discussed a pig or two of punch
with some of the natives and my own party. We had a great deal of varied
conversation—intellectual, convivial, theological, political, musical, poetical,
and antiquarian. The Reverend Father M‘Carthy (called familiarly in Glan-
gariffe, Buzzhure, a corruption of Bonjour, which is his usual salutation) was
of the party, and contributed of course to the demolition of the potables and
the merriment of the conversation. From him I heard various stories of that
part of the world, and many minute antiquarian or genealogical facts, of which
he is the great living depositary. Among the rest he told us the romantic
story of Daniel O’Rourke, which took such a hold on my imagination that I
could not rest easy in my bed, as the saying is, until I had versified it ; and
finding the ottava rima the most fashionable and easily composed style of versi-
cation, I instantly adopted it for the story. I send you the first canto by the
ds of my friend Mr Clutterbuck, a partner in the house of Clutterbuck &
Co. mentioned by Mr Crabbe in his Tales of the Hall, a very quiet, civil, and
well-behaved young gentleman. I hope you will find my “ adventurous song”
full of “ gleams of fancy” as Benjamin the Waggoner, a poem of which, in
spite of all malicious criticism, I am very fond. I expect to see my first canto
in your next Magazine ; the rest shall be forwarded in due course.
—I remain,
Sir, your humble Servant,
Fagarty o’ Fogarty.
Blarney, July 21, 1820.

DANIEL O’ROURKE,

An Epic Poem, in Six Cantos.


CANTO I.

PATRICK BLAKE.

I.

I trust, O gentle reader, you’ll excuse1
A rhyming novice, if he dare rehearse2
The promptings of a sad, a sorry muse,3
As sorrow is the subject of his verse ;4
And that your readership will not abuse5
A style allowed to be both sweet and terse,6
Nor if in anger will resentment fire on7
A metre now immortalized by Byron.8

II.1

Although some gentlemen decry Don Juan,*9
And shun him as a most indecent fellow,10
I still believe that of our poems, few, one11
Will find in harmony so rich and mellow ;12
Heavens ! how unlike the riff-raff cockney crew, one13
Finds praised in Scotch review the blue and yellow,†14
Give me the poet who can fire your soul,15
To drain your eye-lid or to drain your bowl.16

III.

And such art thou, Don Juan, Corsair, Childe,17
Whichever title please thy godlike soul,18
Thou who can’st call up stormy passions, wild19
As the bleak winds, which howl around the pole,20
Or the warm tear upon the cheek, as mild21
As when light zephyrs o’er sweet violets roll,22
And can at times induce us to be friskey,23
Like our kind sweethearts, or our native whiskey.24

* Among the rest, Blackwood’s Magazine.—Yet I am confident it is not for its poetry,
its imagery, its fancy, or its feeling, but for principles which none can excuse, and which few
will be found to extenuate.
† The Edinburgh Review.
Yet mark one caution, e’er thy next review
Spread its light wings of saffron and of blue.”
Byron.

IV.

Hold ! there’s another fav’rite of the nine,25
For whose droll page I long have used to hanker,26
Whose vein of poetry is quite a mine,27
As witness his facetious, crazy Banker ;28
Long may it live to build the lofty line,29
To Constable’s poor rogues a thorn and canker,30
I’m sure you know the gentleman I mean,31
Wastle, himself a moving Magazine.32

V.

On these two poets then I lay the blame,33
Lord Byron and Will Wastle, if that I,34
Should in my story prove too dull or tame,35
And from the field be forced to turn or fly ;36
For they have earned so vast, so fair a fame,37
That it would be a pity not to try38
And lay up for myself some shreds of glory,39
The preface thus despatch’d—now to my story.40

VI.

It happen’d once, some fifty years ago,41
That in the town of Bantry lived a man42
Named Patrick Blake, an oily, round-faced beau,43
A steady worshipper of pipe and can ;44
Upon his nose there shone that ready glow,45
That seems as if ’ twould always need a fan ;46
In short he was a man, who, jest apart,47
Would guzzle ale and smoke with all his heart.48

VII.

And better liquor was it than the slops,49
(Receipts for which sage Accum’s* book contains)50
Which fill our stomachs from the druggist’s shops,51
With Gentian, Quassia, and outlandish grains ;52
In Pat’s time beer was made of malt and hops,53
And brewers were contented with fair gains ;54
I wonder much the faculty don’t buy sense,55
And furnish men who physic with a licence.56

VIII.

In times we speak of whiskey too was made,57
They call’d Potheen, and sold so very cheap,58
So sweet and wholesome, none were much afraid,59
Of head or purse to drink themselves asleep,60
Or raise it to the lips of modest maid,61
’Twas mild as dew-drops that the roses weep,62
But such stuff now will give a man the colic,63
’Tis so bedamned with acid vitriolic.64

IX.

The ale was like the Edinburgh ale65
At Johnnie Dowie’s† or the High-street Amos,66

* Mr Death-in-the-pot.
† An antique ale-house in Edinburgh, long known for the flavour of its ale, and for
the many celebrated characters who frequented it in former days. It was a favourite re-
treat of Burns, who is said to have composed some verses in its praise. I believe they
commence thus—they may be spurious.
Oh Dowie’s ale thou art the thing
Gars mak us crack, gars mak us sing,
And frae us a’ our cares to fling
Awa wi’ anger.”
Dowie is dead—and I am dowie.
When not too fresh or altogether stale,67
But just a month in bottle, ’ tis so famous,68
That we’d prefer it to the muscatel69
Of Gallic plains, no epicure would blame us,70
But straightway purchase dozens for his throttle,71
Could he but taste the drainings of a bottle.72

X.

But to return—Poor Paddy had a wife,73
The very plague and torment of his soul,74
The harbinger of battle and of strife,75
And, what was worse, the filcher of his bowl ;76
In truth he led a very sorry life,77
And often to the “ mountain daisy”* stole78
Where freed from Beck, the gayest of the gay,79
He’d drain his mug, and puff the hours away.80

XI.

Delightful herb ! Tobacco, lord of plants,81
How grateful is thy fragrance to the soul !82
Who harbours care, or true enjoyment wants,83
When round his head thy airy currents roll ;84
When circling wreath the ascending wreath supplants,85
Till every nook is filled and every hole ;86
While through the dark the tiny spark will rise,87
Like fairy meteor in its cloudy skies ?88

XII.

But darkness reigned here : the brilliant moon89
Threw lovely lustre o’er the scene to-night,90
The climbing woodbine round the lattice strewn91
Reflected back its silvery rays of light ;92
Oh ! ’ twas so clear, so chastened, not at noon93
Could forms appear more purely or more bright :94
And there was Paddy gazing from within95
The cozy parlour of a country inn96

XIII.

The “ mountain daisy” —’twas a far-fam’d spot,97
And nature’s worshippers regard it still ;98
Though levell’d now the jasmine and the cot,99
There still remain the clear and bubbling rill,100
And high o’ertopping mountains—’twas a grot,101
The best of grottos, where a man may fill102
His scrip with cheese, his belly with good ale,103
His soul with glee from joke, or song, or tale.104

XIV.

There was a pretty lawn before the door,105
Where many a sport and active feat was tried,106
Where oft the pipe or fiddle brought a score107
Of tight-bound maidens, widow, wife, or bride,108

* About forty years ago, the traveller, on his journey from Bantry to Glangariffe, might
have perceived, not far from the town of Bantry, a fine large board, swinging freely in the
wind from the top of a long red pole, with “ Breakfasts, Porter, Wine, Brandy, &c.
sold here,” in goodly letters, on one side ; and on the other side, a large fungus-like flower,
somewhat resembling an overgrown mushroom or a late cauliflower—a little observation,
however, discovered to you that this was intended (as the letters underneath inform you)
a mountain daisy.
This inn was very romantically situated, and though now no more, its site is the attrac-
tion of every visitor to that quarter of Ireland. Never does a party visit Glangariffe with-
ing their respects to the glen of the “ Mountain Daisy,”—Vide Townsend’s Sur-
of the County of Cork
.
To seek the dance or gypsy’s mystic lore,109
Or willing kiss to true love ne’er denied ;110
And oft, in emulation on the green,111
Some youthful buffer’s sinewy arms was seen112

XV.

To fling the thump—like him of mighty powers,113
The late Sir Daniel—terror of the ring,114
Still mourned by Erin, and embalmed with flowers115
Of sweetest poesy, that fragrance fling116
Around his honour’d tomb—while the swift hours,117
With thrilling harmony on noiseless wing,118
Still chant his deeds, set forth by him we’re proud in,119
The soft, the sweet, the soul-subduing Dowden.*120

XVI.

On Sunday morning, ’ twas the rendezvous121
Of such as, loosed from city toil and dust,122
Seek the green fields in preference to the pew,123
To air their buttons after six days rust,124
With baskets cramm’d, in some the savoury stew,125
In others ham—in others—— ; but I must126
Not waste my paper on such flimsy rhyme, 127
I’ll give enough of that some other time.128

XVII.

Here sometimes clubs of ancient maidens chose,129
Sitting beneath some widely-spreading oak,130
To sip the old maid’s beverage—God knows131
Their real pleasure was the biting joke,132
The daily scandal—no one can suppose133
How maids of fifty love such filth to croak ;134
But blame them not, they’re curious, and they trade in135
Such ware as drove dame Eve from out of Eden.136

XVIII.

There was a club of gentlemen beside,137
Who once a week upon a Monday met,138
To read, mark, learn, and readily decide139
On all the news contained in the Gazette,140
The only paper which the town supplied ;141
And pleasant ’ twas to hear th’ important set,142
Discuss in style grave, comic, or ironical,143
The stale contents of that well handled chronicle.144

XIX.

But come, I’ve done this troublesome digression,145
I promise to go on quite smack and smooth ;146
But being now a rhymer by profession,147
I think it would appear, at least, uncouth,148
To put at once my readers in possession149
Of this my tale—I cannot say, in sooth,150
How much I reverence this sort of rambling,151
’Tis just as sweet as comfits got by scambling.152

* It requires explanation, why Mr Dowden should be mentioned here in preference to
my Lord Byron, Mr Wordsworth, and the other celebrated poets who have so nobly im-
mortalized the name of Donelly. The reason is two-fold : — In the first instance, Mr D.
contributed more than any individual to the celebration of that hero’s memory, having
supplied not a lamentation, and a beautiful one too—but a splendid prose eulogium
on his life and character : In the second instance, the world will be glad to hear, that he
has the life of Sir Daniel, in three vols. quarto, with portraits engraved by Corbould, from
original paintings by J. W. Topp, in the press. I have seen the work, and it will do
credit to both author and hero.F. O‘F.

XX.

But where is Paddy all this tedious while153
We’re handling folly with a ready pen?154
Just where we left him, trying to beguile155
The minutes till the cuckoo-clock strike ten ;156
That was the wished-for happy moment, when157
His old companion Daniel, with a smile158
Of broad-faced humour, when his toil was done,159
Came to partake of pipe, of ale, and fun.160

XXI.

I’ve brought my readers just thro’ verses twenty,161
Which number makes a very good beginning,162
And if with patience bless’d, they shall have plenty163
Of good advice against that kind of sinning164
By some call’d tippling—let it content ye,165
Good readers, if I here decline the spinning166
Out of a sermon—but it is intended167
To speak upon the matter e’er I’ve ended.168

XXII.

But I can vouch, that Daniel and his friend169
Were much addicted to that style of going,170
And many a wintry evening did they spend,171
While round the house the roaring wind was blowing,172
Not minding whether the next blast would send173
The roof upon their heads—no ! they were growing174
More happy as the tempest grew more strong,175
Roaring the thunder down with boisterous song.176

XXIII.

In summer ’ twas the same—the sultry eve177
Still saw them at the “ daisy”—with this change,178
That in hot weather they took care to leave179
The parlour for the meadows cooler range.180
O! Many a goodly epicure would grieve181
To think of dogs so happy—I’ll arrange182
Something like this—I wish that friends who read,183
May taste their pleasures and adopt their creed.184

XXIV.

Well ! who is Daniel ? will be asked by such185
As must feel anxious in our hero’s fate,186
I’ll introduce him soon—but I fear much187
My pen has waddled sadly in its gait,188
And jostled subjects that it need not touch ;189
While for the story folks impatient wait ;190
I’m sorry for it—but it is my plan to191
Give honest Dan the whole of Second Canto.192
END OF FIRST CANTO.

Editorial notes

  1. Words crew, / Jeff in lines 5-6 of this stanza changed due to a printing error. Letter explaining the discrepancy published: Letter from Mr. Fogarty. Blackwoods, vol. 8, no. 43, Oct. 1820, pp. 40-41.