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DONNYBROOK FAIR.

DONNYBROOK Fair! Where is the Irishman to be found whose ear is not familiar with the sound? What Irishman is there no matter in what part of the world his lot may be cast—who does not feel as if the mention of the phrase would spirit him to the sacred spot? Speak of Donnybrook Fair to an Irishman abroad, and you touch a tender chord in his heart. You bring the line of sadness over his countenance, and precipitate him into a quarrel with the hard destiny which keeps him from his native land. Could the motions of the body keep pace with the movements of the mind, he would be transferred to Donnybrook with the rapidity of thought. What associations to every Irishman are connected with the place! One hardly ever meets with a Paddy of the last generation who did not himself, at some period or other of his life, receive a broken head at Donnybrook Fair, or break the head, for the mere love of the thing, of some one or other of his dear friends. Breaking heads and breaking bones were then, indeed, considered an essential part of the humours of the Fair. Not seeing a fight at every fourth or fifth step you took, would have been considered a proof that the Fair was a very dull af-fair.

I had read so much, at different times, about Donnybrook, that I had long had an anxious wish to witness its amusements, and to attempt conveying to the English public some idea of the scenes which are still to be seen on the far-famed spot. I chanced to be in Dublin at the time of holding this year's fair. Need I add, after what I have said, that I thought myself fortunate in this, and that I eagerly availed myself of the opportunity of witnessing the scenes of humour for which the fair has been, from time immemorial, celebrated. It only takes place once a year, but, to make up for its infrequency, it lasts the entire week. Nothing is more common than to hear it said, owing to the Temperance movement, that the glory of Donnybrook Fair has departed. Nonsense! Those who say so were not present any day from Monday, August 24, to Saturday, August 31, 1844. Never was Donnybrook more in its glory than on either and all of the days I have mentioned. On the first of those days, accompanied by two friends, I visited Donnybrook. There were at least 50,000 persons present. The locality of the extraordinary exhibition is in the north-east suburbs of Dublin, about, I should think, three miles from, Sackville Street. What a scene it was to see the people going to it! We singled out the best hourfive in the afternoon—for seeing the fair to advantage. From College Green all the way to the celebrated spot, there was one continual stream of cars so closely in pursuit of each other, that he who attempted to cross the road did it at his peril. If he escaped being run over, he had reason for thankfulness that his fool-hardiness did not meet a quite different reward. Whence came all the cars? I did not before believe it possible for Dublin to produce so many. Whence came all the people ? On an average there were five persons in each car. Had a stranger been in Dublin at the moment, and been ignorant of the facts of the case, he must have come to the conclusion, that the inhabitants of that city must either have been all mad, in rushing with such breathless haste to one particular place, or that they must have been fleeing for their lives. The stranger would have asked himself, Is the centre of the city on fire? Or has the cholera, or some other frightful form of pestilence, suddenly broken out amidst the citizens ? The scene had the appearance of some desperate life or death struggle as to which of the many thousands should reach the great theatre of action first. We were borne along with the stream. Once on a car, it was needless to tell the driver to what place we wished to be conducted; he took it for granted that we were destined to Donnybrook Fair. The fact was, that the carmen saw Donnybrook Fair as clearly written in the countenances of all who beckoned to them, as if the words had been engraven in legible characters on their foreheads. Nor were the poor horses a whit less intelligent on the subject. Whether it was that they understood the word Donnybrook, when mentioned in their hearing, or that they arrived, by a species of instinct, at the knowledge of the fact, that all who leaped into the car on the day in question were thither bound, I know not; but this I know, that they arrived at their conclusions with an instantaneousness which showed that they needed not the aid of any mental process to conduct them to them. You took your seat, and, without a hint to, or smack of the whip from the driver, off the horses set for Donnybrook as fast as their feet could carry them ; nor did they ever seek to slacken their pace until they had duly deposited you on that celebrated locality.

It was on a dry and dusty day that we visited Donnybrook Fair. How either horse or driver knew the way to the place amidst the dense clouds of dust through which we had to pass, is one of those mysteries into which I have no wish needlessly to pry. Suffice it to say, that we were, in due time, put down at the appointed place. And what a place ! What a scene did Donnybrook that day exhibit! They who tell us that Donnybrook'is no longer what it was, libel the Irish character. What these persons mean to say is, that, because the frequenters of Donnybrook do not get drunk and fight together, since the general adoption of teetotal principles, as before the temperance movement commenced—there is not now the same display of national humour as before. It would be far better, were such persons boldly to express their regret that the Irish were becoming more moral and decent in their demeanour, than to intimate their regret in the way they do. The obvious import of this mode of talking is, that it is whisky that makes Irishmen humorous. Not only is the theory a reflection on the Irish character, but it is unfounded. An Irishman is humorous by a necessity of his nature. Drollery is a component part of his mental being. Whisky never was entitled to the credit of do ing anything more for him than to develope his inherent drollery; it never created it. What is more, it only drew it out in its grosser form. Now that Paddy has abjured poteen, now that he has foresworn the use of whisky, his humour, if less boisterous and noisy, is much more refined, and in every respect more excellent in quality. All this was exemplified on the day in question. My hypothesis was unanswerably established by the aspect

of every countenance I then beheld. There was an expression of infinite humour and light-heartedness in the face of each of the 50,000 persons then and there assembled.

The amusements were endlessly diversified. An enumeration of them would require a volume. As cannot spare that amount of space, all I can do is to glance at a few of the leading objects of attraction. Tims and Biddys were to be seen toying with each other, and exchanging happy repartee in all directions. The Scotch lads and lasses are said to make the greatest progress in courtship, when they quarrel with each other. The Irish peasantry never proceed so rapidly on the road to matrimony as when they are indulging in jokes at each other's expense. Most felicitous was the banter, most happy the humour played off, on that occasion. Many a matrimonial match was that day made; many a lingering courtship advanced a stage; many an earnest declaration of love made in a joke--the reader will pardon the bull—which had only been matter of inference before.

The "swings” were crowded; they seemed to be objects of very great attraction. The wooden horses enjoyed no rest. Wooden though they were, you could not help pitying them. Theirs was, indeed, a hard condition; they performed the same circuitous journey times without end. The tents or marquees were not neglected. There Pat, with his arm around his sweetheart's neck, or her hand affectionately grasped in his, poured into her ear the honied accents of love, and into her mouth some harmless liquid, which cheered while it did not inebriate. Lemonade and ginger beer-such as they were met, on that day, with a brisk demand. Nor was there any lack of tea and coffee.

A small turf fire, lighted in a little hollow made in the ground, served to keep up the needful supply of boiling water. Meat, hams, cheese, bread, were piled up in mountains in every tent. Need I say that music, that indispensable element to humour and happiness among the Irish peasantry, was not wanting ? From every marquee issued the sounds of the violin; and here and there were to be heard of all instruments in the world—the tones of the Scotch bagpipes. They did discourse music; but, truth to tell, it was not "sweet." At one and the same moment, though proceeding from different quarters, your ears were regaled with “Rory O'More" and some standard Strathspey. The musicians did not play in vain. Their “ heavenly strains met with a ready and hearty response from the crowds whose ears were regaled by them. You saw, as you glanced at the patrons of the marquees, happiness in every eye, joy in every countenance, and motion in the legs of every person present. The Irish peasantry cannot resist the witching tones of the violin or other popular instrument. If you would keep them in their seats,you must fasten them down. On this occasion, they seem to have gone all mad. Any one, unacquainted with the genius of the patrons of Donnybrook, must have come to the conclusion, that they were set in motion by some electrical agency. Who could have believed yet such was the fact—that, among the light-hearted and happy thousands then and there assembled together, there were many who had not partaken of a meal that day, and probably would not partake of one on the morrow ?

But the shows, or, if the word be preferred, the “exhibitions," - these were the principal sources of attraction. Their number was great, and their nature as diversified as the tastes of man. There was something to suit every taste-a dish for every palate. The prices, too, varied considerably to meet the capacities of the pockets of the myriads assembled on the occasion. There was, it is true, no price higher than a sixpence, nor any charge lower than a penny; but there was a sufficiently wide margin here to suit the financial circumstances of all who were present. It was matter of fair presumption, judging from the countenances and the wardrobes of those who were there, that very

few could boast of more than a sixpence; while it was generally a matter of fair inference, that no one would have dreamed of visiting the place who was not the proprietor, for the day at least, of the small sum

The preponderance of exhibitions was decidedly in the theatrical line. Shakspeare was "done in every second caravan. Poor Iago-for “Othello," though often under a different name, seemed to be decidedly the favourite piece-poor lago committed suicide, in the course of a couple of hours, in at least a score of places, and in the same place at least a dozen times. But to do

of one penny.

the histrionic ladies and gentlemen who trod the boards on this occasion that justice which they have a right to claim, it is proper I should mention that they by no means confined themselves to deeds of death. There was a pretty liberal share of the operatic, and no small allowance of the comic and farcical modes of acting. Nothing appeared to me more worthy of approbation than the expedition with which her Majesty's subjects on the Donnybrook boards severally went through their parts. They wasted no time. None of the audience could complain of that. “Up with the rag!"—meaning the curtain-burst from the throat of some merry-hearted auditor, and up went the curtain with the celerity of lightning. “Down with the rag!”shouted another in two or three minutes afterwards, and the play was over in an instant. Even when the stage manager and performers were allowed to take their own time to go through their arduous duties, they evinced a most praiseworthy desire to be economical of the time of their auditors. An opera, or something meant to be so considered, a comedy, and a farce, were all performed in less than à dozen minutes. Murders were perpetrated with a dispatch not only unparalleled, but unapproached, in real life. One of the most furious quarrels I ever witnessed-on the stage-between husband and wife, was adjusted in an instant; and they who, but a minute before, well nigh frightened all present out of their wits, lest some murderous deed should in reality be committed, stood before the now delighted audience, the most loving and happiest couple within her Majesty's dominions. I could not help wishing that real matrimonial quarrels were made up with an equally magical rapidity. Were it so, husbands and wives could afford to have daily, at least a dozen "affairs" of the tongue, without either party suffering the slightest injury or inconvenience from the wordy collision.

We-namely, my two friends and self-visited three of the Donnybrook theatres. The time the three visits consumed did not altogether exceed a quarter of an hour. The prices were various. The highest charge was threepence, the lowest a penny. And here permit me to give a hint to those who may hereafter pay a visit to this celebrated locality. The amusement in the penny-priced shows was, beyond all comparison, better than that for which they had the conscience to charge us threepence. First of all, we had an opera—not in the English, but in Donnybrook language. The dramatis persona were two in number. Of course, they were of opposite genders. Of their dresses I say nothing, because I know not what I could say. The prima donna's face had evidently been innocent of water for at least a week. The male performer had contrived to insert his legs into an article of apparel which, there was some ground to believe, had once been corduroy unmentionables. The upper part of

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