Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Burke and Hare, Dr. William Maginn., Drink, Ireland, Irish Literature, John Gibson Lockhart, Leith, Poem, Saint Patrick, Saint Patrick's Day, Song, The Irishman and the Lady, Whisky, William Maginn
(To be sung with boisterous expression.)
There was a lady lived at Leith,
A lady very stylish, man;
And yet, in spite of all her teeth,
She fell in love with an Irishman.
A nasty, ugly Irishman,
A wild, tremendous Irishman -
A tearing, swearing, thumping, bumping, ramping, roaring Irishman.
His face was no ways beautiful,
For with small-pox ’twas scarred across;
And the shoulders of the ugly dog
Were almost doubled a yard across.
O, the lump of an Irishman,
The whisky-devouring Irishman -
The great he-rogue, with his wonderful brogue, the fighting, rioting, Irishman.
One of his eyes was bottle-green,
And the other eye was out, my dear;
And the calves of his wicked-looking legs
Were more than two feet about, my dear,
O, the great big Irishman,
The rattling, battling Irishman –
The stamping, ramping, swaggering, staggering, leathering swash of an Irishman.
He took so much of Lundy-Foot,
That he used to snort and snuffle – O;
And in shape and size, the fellow’s neck,
Was as bad as the neck of a buffalo.
O, the horrible Irishman,
The thundering, blundering Irishman -
The slashing, dashing, smashing, lashing, thrashing, hashing Irishman.
His name was a terrible name, indeed,
Being Timothy Thady Mulligan;
And whenever he emptied his tumbler of punch,
He’d not rest till he filled it full again.
The boozing, bruising Irishman,
The ‘toxicated Irishman –
The whisky, frisky, rummy, gummy, brandy, no dandy Irishman.
This was the lad the lady loved,
Like all the girls of quality;
And he broke the skulls of the men in Leith,
Just by the way of jollity.
O, the leathering Irishman,
The barbarous, savage Irishman –
The hearts of the maids, and the gentlemen’s heads, were bother’d, I’m sure, by this Irishman.
[Lundy-foot was a brand of snuff. This song was included in the first of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine's "Noctes Ambrosianae" (March, 1822). I like to think that it was written by Dr. William Maginn - the magazine's "Cork Correspondent" - because its lively wit is very much in tune with the established idea of his character, although the first of the Noctes is generally attributed to John Gibson Lockhart. Within a decade of these lines being published, another "barbarous, savage Irishman" in Edinburgh, William Burke, would be convicted of murdering seventeen people in order to provide material for dissections at the Edinburgh Medical College. Then, Maginn had departed from Blackwood's and in the Noctes, Christopher North (John Wilson) would reflect on the "dim and darkened countenance" of the murderer Burke in terms curiously similiar to the above account of the Irishman in Leith: "his hardened lips, which ruth never touched nor moved from their cunning compression - his voice rather soft and calm, but steeped in hypocrisy and deceit - his collected and guarded demeanour, full of danger and guile... the cool, calculating, callous, and unrelenting villain." Yet North also proceeded to describe how Burke "danced well - excelling at the Irish jig" and passed as a "pleasant enough companion over a jug of toddy," gently warning that the image of the Irishman as a charming noble savage could prove to be a treacherous one. Last year's Saint Patrick's Day essay on William Maginn is here. Ed.]