« AnteriorContinuar »
THOMAS DAVIS-JOHN BANIM.
CONSIDERING his immense reputation in the Sister Island, the name of Thomas Davis has hardly found its due place in our literature. He was an Irish barrister ; the most earnest, the most vehement, the most gifted, aud the most beloved of the Young Ireland party. Until the spring of 1840, when he was in his twenty-sixth year, he had only been remarkable for extreme goodnature, untiring industry, and very varied learning. At that period he blazed forth at once as a powerful and brilliant political writer, produced an eloquent and admirable “Life of Curran,” became one of the founders of the “ Nation"
newspaper, and carried
his zeal in the cause of nationality to such excess, that he actually proposed to publish a weekly journal in the Irish tongue-an impracticable scheme which happily ended in talk.
To the newspaper which was established, and which the young patriots condescended to write in the language-to use their own phrase-of the Saxons, we owe the beautiful lyrics of Thomas Davis. The editor of the “Nation” had faith in the well-known saying of Fletcher of Saltown, “Give me the writing of the ballads, and let who will make the laws;" and in default of other aid, the regular contributors to the new journal resolved to attempt the task themselves. It is difficult to believe, but the editor of his poems dwells upon it as a well-known fact, that up to this time the author of “ The Sack of Baltimore” had never written a line of verse in his life, and was, indeed, far less sanguine than his coadjutors in the success of the experiment. How completely he succeeded there is no need to tell, although nearly all that he has written was the work of one hurried year, thrown off in the midst of a thousand occupations, and a thousand claims. A very few years more, and his brief and bright career was cut short by a sudden illness, which carried him rapidly to the grave, beloved and lamented by his countrymen of every sect and of every party :
“ His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes :
... He had kept The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept.”
Oh! that he had lived to love Ireland, not better, but more wisely, and to write volumes upon volumes of such lyrics as the two first which I transcribe, such biographies as his “Life of Curran," and such criticism his “Essay upon Irish Song !”
I will deal more tenderly than he would have done with printer and reader, by giving them as little as I can of his beloved Cymric words (such is the young Irish name for the old Irish language); and by sparing them altogether his beloved Cymric character, which I have before my eyes at this moment, looking exactly like a cross between Arabic and Chinese.
THE SACK OF BALTIMORE.
Baltimore is a small sea-port, in the barony of Carbery, in South Munster. It grew up round a castle of O’Driscoll's, and was, after his ruin, colonized by the English. On the 20th of June, 1631, the crew of two Algerine galleys landed in the dead of the night, sacked the town, and bore off into slavery all who were not too old or too young, or too fierce, for their purpose. The pirates were steered up the intricate channel by one Hackett, a Dungarvon fisherman, whom they had taken at sea for that office. Two years after he was convicted and executed for the crime.
The summer sun is falling soft on Carberry's hundred isles ; The summer sun is gleaming still through Gabriel's rough
defiles; Old Inisherkin's crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird ; And in a calm and sleepy swell the ocean-tide is heard; The hookers lie upon the beach; the children cease their play; The gossips leave the little inn ; the households kneel to pray; And full of love and peace and rest, its daily labour o'er, Upon that cosy creek there lay the town of Baltimore.
A deeper rest, a starry trance, has come with midnight there, No sound, except that throbbing wave, in earth or sea or air ; The massive capes and ruined towers seem conscious of the
The fibrous sod and stunted trees are breathing heavy balm. So still the night, those two long barques round Dunashad
that glide, Must trust their oars, methinks not few, against the ebbing
Oh! some sweet mission of true love must urge them to the
shore, They bring some lover to his bride, who sighs in Baltimore.
All, all asleep within each roof along that rocky street,
A stifled gasp! a dreamy noise !-"The roof is in a flame !" From out their beds and to their doors rush maid and sire and
dame, And meet upon the threshold-stone, the gleaming sabre's fall, And o'er each black and bearded face the white or crimson
shawl, The yell of “ Allah !” breaks above the prayer and shriek and
Oh! blessed God! the Algerine is lord of Baltimore !
Then flung the youth his naked hand against the shearing
sword; Then sprang the mother on the brand with which her son was
gored; Then sank the grandsire on the floor, his grand-babes clutching
Then fled the maiden, moaning faint, and nestled with the
child. But see yon pirate strangled lies and crushed with splashing
heel. While o'er him, in an Irish hand, there sweeps his Syrian
steel. Though virtue sink, and courage fail, and misers yield their
store, There's one heart well avenged in the sack of Baltimore!
Midsummer morn, in woodland nigh, the birds begin to sing, They see not now the milking maids, deserted is the spring! Midsummer day, this gallant rides from distant Bandon's
town, Those hookers crossed from stormy Skull, that skiff from