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much to my satisfaction, for I was tea in the pot, or leave the decoction glad of the opportunity of testing by stewing for hours by the fire. Tea and personal experience the strong tea, the tobacco were, Tom Delany told me, the frequent consumption of which, accord. luxuries of his existence. Potatoes ing to recent reports of the inspectors formed the chief article of his food, of lunatic asylums, is largely account. for they were eaten at dinner and supable for the alarming increase of lu- per with an occasional dried herring nacy and idiocy among the poorer as a savory; and, on days few and far classes in Ireland. In 1871 there were between, boiled bacon and cabbage16,505 lunatics and idiots in Ireland; in the former American cured, very fat 1891 the number had increased to and very hard, a specimen of which I 21,118.
saw hanging up in the kitchen. It was a strong, thick, black fluid, A standard of living, far higher than as if the tea had been stewing in the that of fifty years ago, now prevails in pot for a considerable time, and it had the cabins of Ireland. The peasantry
bitter, unpalatable taste. After have not to rely so often as formerly drinking half the cup I felt a sensa- upon their vivid imagination or their tion of dizziness in my head, and memory for a meal. There was once a thought it best to indulge in no more meal called “potatoes and point.” The of the beverage. Tom however, seemed potatoes before being eaten at breakto highly relish it.
fast, dinner and supper, were pointed "If I do but get the cup o' tay,” said at a herring hanging up, or placed in he, “I'm contint. It rises the heart in the centre of the table, to serve as an me when I'm poorly."
imaginary relish to the simple fare, but “Do you drink much of it?" I asked. too precious to be consumed except on
"I do be at it mornin', noon and some festive day such as Sunday. night, to tell you the truth,” he said. That quaint gastronomical pretence or "Oh, it's mighty refreshin'!" he ex- subterfuge is said to have been comclaimed, as he smacked his lips after mon at one time in the cabins of Iredrinking the second cup.
land. I doubt if it is practised in these The daughter told me that the tea days. Of course the Irish peasantry was sold at 28. a pound-the cheapest meet with ups and downs, experience figure at which she could obtain it-in fat years and lean years, like other the village, and that she usually pur people. One of them, with a turn for chased a quarter of a pound at a time. rhetoric, said of his class, “Sometimes It seemed to me to be good tea, infin- we drink from the cup of fulness, and itely better than the commodity com- sometimes we ate off the empty plate." monly bought by the laboring classes I know from personal knowledge that in London at 18. the pound. Indeed, in portions of Clare, where milk is the present Chancellor of the Ex- scarce, the people concoct a substitute chequer stated during the debate on composed of water whitened with the Budget last year that the best tea flour, which they call "bull's milk.” As went to Ireland; and I believe it is a rule, however, the food of the peaslargely bought by the peasantry. But antry is now more substantial and the art of brewing it is unfortunately more varied than it was in times past, unknown in the rural districts of Ire- though in some respects it may not be, land. The ordinary custom is to put perhaps, so wholesome. The potato is a large quantity of tea in the teapot, still what it has been for a century pour in the water-whether boiling or and a half-the peasant's staple article not is of no consequence—then boil the of food, but there are more appetizing adjuncts to it than formerly, such as or combination; never knew of wan butter, eggs and American bacon. Tea, about here, though I heard tell of a as I have said, is drunk universally in Labor Lague, or the 'Knights of the every cabin, no matter how humble, Plough,' in Kildare; but I don't think and in most cases is partaken of three it amounts to much.” or four times a day. Baker's bread “Not much amusement, I suppose, in has been largely substituted for the the village,” I said. home-made "griddle cake,” except in "Between you and me I think all the districts remote from bakeries. Indian keoal [fun) is gone out of the country," meal porridge, or "stirabout" (as the he replied. “I remember when we used people usually call it) is now only to have a dance at the cross-roads beeaten in the poorest cabins. It was, in- low every Sunday evenin', and all the deed, never popular with the peasantry. boys and girls of the whole countryThey resort to it only under the com- side would be there with the ould pulsion of poverty, as it is cheap. It piper and the ould fiddler. But thim bears the stigma of pauperism. It days is gone entirely. I do believe the was first introduced into Ireland, dur- boys and girls now do have a dance ing the famine of 1847, by the Govern- off and on in the ould barn beyant; but ment, as an inexpensive and whole- the life that was is not in thim. Con. some food for the starving people, and certs? Singin', you mane? There does it has been widely distributed as a be nothin' of that kind at the village; form of relief during the many periods no, nor play-actin' ayther. You must of distress through which Ireland has go to Kilkenny town for that; but passed since then. The "yellow male," wance in two or three years a circus as it is called, therefore came to be as- comes along this way. Yes, you're sociated in the minds of the people right enough, sir; if there isn't the fun with times of poverty and misfortune; we used to have of ould, things we and I know that even the poorest fam. want to ate and to cover ilies feel a sort of shame in eating it, chaper.” as if it meant unutterable social degra. The impression which I think moved dation. This feeling is, of course, to me most, in the years of my connecbe deeply deplored. Stewed tea and tion with the Irish Press, when I travinferior baker's bread-the latter-day elled about Ireland a great deal, w luxuries of the cabins of Ireland-are the monotony and dreariness of village not so strengthening and sustaining as life. What an amount of work in the the old homely stirabout and milk; and way of improving the social surroundmust in time have a sadly deteriorat- ings of the villagers and imparting ing effect on the physical and mental some color and variety to their lives capacities of the people.
awaits the Parish Councils of the fu“What are your hours of work?" I ture-that is if Ireland ever has such asked, while Tom Delany was "risin' local authorities, and if, as is doubtful, the heart in him" with copious they will undertake this beneficent draughts of "tay."
work! As it is, I did not notice in any “In the summer I work from six in of the hundred villages I have visited the mornin' to six in the evenin', with the influence of even my Lady Bounti. an hour off for breakfast an' for din- ful or the Squire, such as is visible in ner; and at other times it is from day- humble life in rural England. Nothing light to dark. Oh, yis, I git on very is seen in Ireland but dismal evidence well with Mr. Clarke, the farmer that of the neglect by the gentry of the employs me. No, I'm not in any Union axiom that property has its duties as
well as its rights. I saw no village for nothin', and the neighbors will greens for outdoor sports and pastimes, carry me on their shoulders to Knockand no village halls for concerts, read- lerien graveyard, where all my people ings and limelight entertainments dur- are buried. The neighbors are very ing the long winter evenings. But it is good-God bless them!-and if they not alone amusement that is lacking have anything at all, they never allow in the villages of Ireland. There is, in a poor, unfortunate crathur to want a the vast majority of villages, a com- bit or a sup or a dacent buryin'." plete absence also of endowed village I looked around the kitchen to see if charities for the distribution of blank- I could discover what books and newsets, clothing, or food to the needy, and papers formed the literary recreation of village benefit clubs for the aid of of Tom and his family. It was evident members in times of sickness and that the Weekly Freeman was subdeath. I know well that excuses can scribed to, . for a portion of the walls be offered for this seeming neglect by was covered with the political cartoons the landed gentry of an obvious duty. of that journal. I also saw some copies The strained relations which, owing to of the Shamrock, a little story-paper unbappy but relentless historical and published weekly in Dublin, and also economic causes, existed for genera- for the daughter, probably-some numtions between the landlords and the bers of a London penny weekly jouragricultural classes were not calculated nal. There were a few books, stories to encourage the gentry to embark on evidently, much torn and dilapidated, projects of social improvements. Then and I noticed the “Dublin Songster" a there is also the tendency of the collection of music-hall and patriotic peasantry, with their ingrained conser- songs and ballads, with a mixture of vative instincts, to cling to old familiar ditties popular some years ago. habits and customs, and to receive And now comes the interesting queswith distrust and antipathy schemes tion—"What does the Irish peasant for their improvement, which involve a read?” The Irish peasant by common change in their immediate surround- consent possesses mental qualities of ings.
a high order. He is intelligent, quickBut however the blame is to be ap- witted, and shrewd in his observations portioned, my friend, Tom Delany, on men and things. These faculties knew no more of village charities or are innate in him. He certainly does village clubs than he did of penny read- not owe them to reading. Sociability ings or magic lantern entertainments, is a strong-or should I say a weak?and he was not a member of any in- point in his character; and he loves to surance society. “No; I get no pay on pick up his information, and sharpen days that I am sick any more than I his natural wits, in social intercourse. do on wet days." "What do I do when Nothing delights him more than a cbat I'm ill? I go to the dispensary doctor on current affairs at home and abroad at the village for a bottle, if it's only a with his fellows, in the smith's forge, slight illness; but if it's a bad wan–the or by the hearth of his cabin on a winfever now-I go into the poorhouse. ter's evening, or reclining on a sunny My life is not insured. Faith, I'm bank on a Sunday after Mass, or at sure to be buried in any case; and I any time in the village public house don't mind if I'm not put in the yal- over a pipe and a pint of porter. He low hole (the pauper burial-ground] will also listen with absorbed interest over at the workhouse. If all goes to to the reading of a newspaper or the all, I'll get a coffin from the poorhouse telling of old folk stories and legends a popular pastime with the peasants, don penny weekly publications, such as in these hours of ease. But it may be Tit Bits, Answers, Home Chat, Pear. said as a general truth that he reads son's Weekly, Woman's Life, in the few books. The books I have seen in newsagents' shops, in even the remote the houses of the agricultural laborers towns of Ireland, while Dublin publiand small farmers in the south of Ire- cations of a somewhat similar kind, land were usually national works, is- but supplying Irish verses, stories and sued at low prices, such as, “The Irish historical sketches, such as The Sham. Penny Readings," containing admir- rock, The Emerald and Irish Bits were able selections of prose and poetry by difficult to obtain. I have seen the Irish writers; the lectures and sermons counters of newsagents in such towns of Father Burke, the famous pulpit as Waterford, Limerick, Tralee, Kilorator; and “The Story of Ireland,” by kenny, Galway-each feeding large A. M. Sullivan, the "Lives of the agricultural districts-piled as thickly Saints," and other religious works; and with as varied a collection of these a few of Lever's novels, such as London weekly journals as the count“Charles O'Malley” and “Tom Burke ers of newsagents in Lambeth and Isof Ours" in a cheap form, may also be lington or any other populous district encountered. Books like these are of the Metropolis in which these publieagerly read by the peasantry and they cations are produced. I was
so imcirculate from house to house in a par- pressed by this phenomenon that I enish until they fall to pieces from con- deavored, when in Dublin a short time stant perusal. Song books, however, are ago, to obtain some accurate informamost common. I have frequently seen tion in regard to its extent from “The Brian Boru Song Book," and Messrs. Eason, the principal Irish dis“The Harp of Tara Song Book," each tributing firm. I was told that within published at 3d. and containing very the past ten years the circulation of good selections from Moore's melodies these journals in Ireland has almost and the national ballads and songs of quadrupled, although the population the Young Ireland and Fenian move- has diminished within the same period ments.
by an eighth. Week after week enorBut unquestionably the most popular mous bundles of these journals are sent form of Irish literature—by which I to all the chief towns and villages mean reading matter produced in Ire- throughout the country; and I venture land-not only among the agricultural to say there is not a cabin in any part laborers, but among the farmers and of Ireland-save perhaps the extreme the citizens in the towns, is the Dublin west-in which there are boys and girls weekly newspaper. The Weekly Free- able to read-and, thanks to the Na. man, The Weekly Independent, The tional schools, illiteracy may be said to Weekly Nation (Nationalist organs); be unknown among the rising genera. and The Weekly Irish Times (neutral, tion-in which copies of these journals so far as politics are concerned), which will not be found. supply literary matter, as well as the We have here some indication of the news of the week, circulate widely immense influence for good or evil throughout the country. It is, how- which the National system of educaever, from London rather than from tion has exercised on the destiny of Dublin that the people of Ireland now the country. I have often heard that obtain the bulk of their reading mat- system condemned, but I have never ter. I have been amazed during recent failed to stand up as well as I was visits to Ireland at the display of Lon- able in its defence. It may not be the
ideal system of training the youth of as widely in districts with lending the country-for one thing, the history libraries or parish libraries—as to the of the country has hitherto been inability of the half educated or imperstupidly debarred in its curriculum, but fectly trained mind to stand the strain, when I point out that, whereas in 1841 or to keep up the interest, which the fifty-three out of every hundred of the reading of a book-especially an in. adult population could neither read nor forming book-involves, and to its find. write, only 18 per cent. of the popula. ing its mental recreation in literary tion to-day is in that unhappy state of bits and scraps. It is sometimes said ignorance, I think I have said enough that the reading of these journals is to show that the system, notwithstand- neither informing to the mind nor eleing the enormous obstacles which the vating to the character. I hold a dit. religious, political and social quarrels ferent opinion. The one regrettable of the country inevitably raised to pre- result which, as It appears to me, the vent its full development, has been a circulation of these periodicals has on great boon to the poorer classes of Ire- the young people of the rural districts land.
of Ireland is to further impress them, Of course the enormous increase of by descriptions of scenes of urban life, late years in the readers of this cheap with the monotony and loneliness of the London periodical literature is not country as compared with the compeculiar to Ireland alone. It is com- panionship and varied pleasures of the mon to England, Scotland and Wales towns; and thus accelerate that steady as well, and is due, not so much to the diminution of our rural communities difficulty of obtaining books for the which economic causes have for years reading of these journals prevails just produced.
Michael MacDonagh. The Nineteenth century.
Society in the East and West is not portunities, whether official, intellecan interchangeable term. The entire tual or commercial, as shall determine absence in Asia of what we under- the estimation in which he is held by stand as social intercourse, and the his fellow-countrymen. widely differing lines of demarcation Chinese society is traditionally dibetween the various ranks, furnish re- vided into four classes-viz., officials, sults which have no analogue in the agriculturalists, mechanics and traders. West. Notwithstanding the courtly But as in all other countries in the ceremonials and strict rules of eti- East, the two classes which practiquette which are universally current in cally differentiate the population are regions to the east of the Suez Canal, officials and non-officials.
The power Oriental States are au fond essentially and influence which office supplies an. democratic. Notably is this the case swers to all that is known as rank and in China. It may be said generally that social status amongst ourselves, and every Chinaman begins life on equal for this reason it is the object of all terms with his fellows, and it rests ambitions. With the exception of a with him to make such use of his op- few titles which may be called heredit.