Night. Irishtown.

Dublin Evening Post (17 August 1790).


This pleasing and unusual imitation of Milton's L'Allegro recasts the original as a topographic poem describing life at a resort near Dublin. Night opens in the vein of Il Penseroso, though the somber strain soon yields to a description of the country-dancing in Irishtown: "Death in vain is monarch here, | Youthful Frolick knows no fear, | All his threats we set at nought, | On him let's not lose a thought!" The poem is signed "Volbond."

Headnote: "Gentlemen, If ever IRISHTOWN could claim a corner of your paper, it must certainly be at a time your fellow-citizens honour it with their notice. The bathing season has long since replenished this village with gaiety and sickness, sportive youth and drooping age. A thousand occurrences here strike an observing eye, which might afford subject for public praise, or animadversion. Nature displays herself in a summer outlet, particularly a bathing one, in an eminent degree — such as she shews herself at present. The following observations taken on the spot, faithfully depicture: should any of the verses hobble, you will kindly excuse them, as this gait is almost universally assumed here by the ladies, whose perfections it shall always be my study to imitate. Your most obedient servant, Volbond. Irishtown, August 12, 1790."

The sun behind proud Merrion's towers,
Calls off his ardent conq'ring powers.
Reluctant light slow quits the plain,
And yields to sable Night's domain.
The op'ning rose-bud hangs its head,
The tulip droops upon her bed;
And mourns until the morning ray,
Shall bid her all her charms display.
That ray, which now scarce paints the grove,
And gives the parting kiss of love;
To Howth's tall hill, whose blushing face
Receives Sol's lingering last embrace;
'Tis darkness all! but soon we'll see,
The Moon in splendid majesty.

And lo! she comes, with decent pride,
Moving thro' th' ethereal tide;
Stars resplendent join her train,
Hail her Queen, and grace her reign.
View'd from Irishtown's sweet shore,
Dublin Bay looks silver'd o'er,
Whilst in wat'ry murmurs faint,
Spirits make their sad complaint,
That no tender friend was by,
To receive their parting sigh;
Nor to shed the silent tear,
O'er the flow'r-bestrewed bier.
Howth emerging from the deep,
Shews its awful rocky steep:
Points to Charlemont's fair dome,
Patriotic virtues home.
Softest scenes my eye arrest,
Sweet sensations fill my breast.
'Till with black frowns Ringsend steals in,
And like unhappy Adam's sin
Saddens the view, and in a thrice
To Hell itself sinks Paradise;
While from that side the sailors' cry
Proclaims the crowded shipping nigh.

Hark the sprightly violin
Tells the moon-light sports begin!
Let us to the green repair,
Mirth and Music's voice I hear.
Where the church its gothic head,
Lifts among the peaceful dead.
Dismal bells toll out no more,
Dinning with their plaints the shore.
Death in vain is monarch here,
Youthful Frolick knows no fear,
All his threats we set at nought,
On him let's not lose a thought!
Come — the country dance lead down,
'Tis the life of Irishtown.

Where the mossy banks permit,
Eager-looking matrons sit;
Whilst their daughters young and gay,
Trip it merrily away.
Extasy marks every face,
Innocence and lively grace.
Who can view and not be charm'd?
Drooping Age itself is warm'd,
When to music's lively sound,
Feet unnumber'd press the ground,
Rage, and Strife, and Vice away!
Innocence is not your prey:
Curs'd be the Deluder's art,
That could wound one virtuous heart.

Gods! what gigling, sporting, swearing!
I'm afraid t'will hurt my hearing;
Beaux unnumber'd group'd together,
Light and sportive as a feather,
Zealous to display perfections,
Move about in all directions;
Youth and beauty disappear,
Quick as thought — the coast is clear.
Now bucks advance — your cares are o'er,
You've swept the counter, shut the door;
Your angry masters' gone to bed,
This night, no blows you'll have to dread.
Each here appears as an Adonis,
So snug his face, so neat each bone is;
Assur'd of this, your dear selves proffer,
As partners — who'll refuse the offer?
For Ladies like that you should treat 'em,
To what you have — some musk'd pomatum.

Hear the bagpipes zerking note!
Mark each zigging petticoat!
Whilst the squeak of ill-tim'd flutes,
Thro' my pericranium shoots;
Hopping, squeezing, ogling, nodding:
Sideways, frontways, glances flying,
Belles exulting, Gallants dying.

Retrograde with many a thump,
Yonder Damsel smacks her rump
'Gainst her heedless paramour,
Down he falls on Earth's hard floor—
Take him up, and bear him hence,
This may teach him to have sense!
Hair dishevell'd! waistcoat burst!
Irishtown and Pipes be curs'd.
Noise succeeds, and sad confusion,
At a brother Fop's contusion;
All the conquering rump askance,
Eye, with fear, and quit the dance.

In slow numbers, soft and sweet,
Bagpipes celebrate the fete;
Let the conquering Maid be crown'd,
And her rump with laurels bound.

Now the fiddle of recall,
Bids them vacate the church wall.
Dublin, Dublin, is the cry—
Dublin echoes thro' the sky:
Straight embody'd Beaux depart,
Carrying each, a fair-one's heart;
Boasting, loudly, without measure,
Of the captive, lovely treasure,
Taken by the force of locks,
Charg'd with powder, and fierce cocks!
Should a drunken Sailor dare
To impede their proud career,
Fierce, impetuous, ten to one,
Soon they make the foe begone;
Or, with many a kick and pound,
Trail his sides along the ground.

Go noble youths — and still may Fame
Prolong your virtues and your name;
May Irishtown, still own your merit,
And every Police-house your spirit!
But deign your scouts to call away,
Who, thro' our streets, each morning stray,
Yelping their execrable oaths,
And straining, puppy-like, their throats—
Oh! take them with you, they're your own,
And leave to peace, and sleep, this town.