Obrazy na stronie

For my

soles moist with their native element which were half a dozen of the most - gelatinous cod-heads - but I di- magnanimous oysters I had ever seen. gress.

They were natives to be sure, but The Londonderry oyster, then, as natives of Patagonia—the least rivalbest seen in the Liverpool market, is led in circumference the largest saucer small, well shaped, white, fat, and I ever saw, while the biggest equalled goodly to the view, but it is by no the periphery of a soup-plate. What means à superior fish on the con a vision for the immortal Dando ! trary, there is a villanous after-taste, What would not Louis des Huitres as of mud, excessively disagreeable- have given for the dish ? a ground flavour, as if the fish had poor part I never relished making two licked the slimy bed of its nativity. I bites of a cherry, or of an oyster either. have eaten this fish within the walls of Like humble friends, oysters do not its native eity, but even the exulting take kindly to cutting. Every fish recollection of the ancient glories of ought to be no more than a mouthful, Derry failed to reconcile me to the but it ought to be no less. I leave to modern muddy-tasted Derry oyster. more enterprising gourmands than Alas! poor Derry!

myself the task of a critical analysis Progressing southwards, I arrived of the Patagonian bivalves of Carrickat Belfast, which boasts no indigenous fergus. I ought to observe, in justice bivalve, but adopts for her own the to Belfast, that at the excellent tavern gigantic oyster of Carriekfergus, of M.Alister, in Graham's Entry,where which, as I am informed, is the name the best supper in supper-eating Ireof a city, not of an oyster-bed. Pro- land may be bad, there is to be found curing a guide, I requested him to occasionally a supply of the real Carprecede my steps to those Cimmeri. lingford oyster. Thisjoyful event, howan regions “ where oysters most did ever, is rare, and I lament to observe congregate," and presently arrived, that the metropolis of the north of Ireguided more by the nose than by the land is so debased by a too prosperous other senses, at one of the retired em. trade, so absorbed in the grovelling poria of shell-fish in the Athens of concerns of her thriving manufactures, Ireland.

that the breeding of oysters is shameThe place was a study-soft unre. fully neglected, and no pains are taken sisting mud formed the primitive floor, to awaken a patriotic enthusiasm on bea board, unplaned and rough, elevated half of native Irish oysters in general, upon a pile of bricks, simulated a di- while the “ Poldoody Association,' van, while the table was supplied by lately established for the constitutional two of the divan boards tacked together, redress of ostracerial grievances, is and extended from end to end of the here regarded by the very oysters “ salon.” A rushlight fliekered in an themselves with silent contempt ! old iron candlestiek, and“ a most an With a sigh I ascended the “ Fair cient and fish-like smell” pervaded the Trader” day drag, at five o'eloek in apartment.

Forthwith appeared a the morning, en route to the next town bideous crone, whose breath, redolent of crustaeeous interest, passing along of wbisky and tobaceo, was expended the great Dublin road, through a counin the business-like enquiry,“ Wud ye try of amazing fertility and beauty, be for oysters, my man ?”

inhabited by a sober, industrious, and This interrogatory was replied to religious people, watered by bubbling by an order for half a hundred of her gravelly streams, sheltered from the very primest Carriekfergus natives— cold north wind by hills whose acclito begin with. “ Half a hunner-a vities were seen white with the bleachhail half-hunner-Oh! oh! oh! the ing linen, sometimes confounded by man's a haveril—a hail half-hunner o' the stranger traveller with virgin snow Carricks-save us !" With this ejacu- upon the ground, sometimes caught lation my hostess, having clutched the through circling groves like lakes rushlight in her palm, decamped, lea- gleaming in the sunshine. To an inving me in a state of tribulation that different person a sight like this might may be imagined, as the saying is, but be worth the remembrance, but to me beggars all description.

it was as a desert. My impatient soul In a few minutes, however, Alecto bounded onwards to Newry, where I returned with the rushlight stuck in knew the “ real Carlingfords" were a trencher of the largest size, upon to be had.

to be had. My no less impatient

stomach, clogged with its material naturel, kept down by half-a-dozen tunics, and sadly embarrassed with its stiff tumblers of hot brandy and water, serous, mucous, and muscular coats, less or more—a sort of soporiferousgave vent to its ill-humour in awful ness laid hold of me—the full length rumbling noises, such as vex the in- of the immortal Kean, presented by testinal canals of Vesuvius or Strom- himself to his friend mine Host of the boli. But, lo! at the brow of the hill Shakspeare, reeled in its gorgeous we pause_in the valley before us lies gilded frame—the chamber was locoNewry_beyond, in the far distance, motive_if I had exceeded in any way are seen the blue outlines of the Car. I might have supposed myself a little lingford mountains-beyond the moun how came you so ?” Be that as it tains lies the bay—at the bottom of may, however, a rustling noise was the bay lie the oysters. Coachman heard outside the door, as if a barrel leaves here, sir." We are in Newry of oysters had been tumbled on the —and before us, on the breakfast-table, spot, which I verily believe to have in a huge wooden bowl, behold the been the case, for on a sudden the gelatinous objects of our affections— door opening wide, in came a sea of the real, the undoubted, unsophistica. oysters, rolling heels over head, in ted Carlingfords, and no mistake! waves of confusion to my very feet.

Newry is dear to iny remembrances It was, in fact, a deputation from Car-I have heard it called an odious lingford, sent by the natives there to hole, and so forth—to me it was every invite me to a public dinner. Think of thing that was delightful, for the oys. that, Master Brook! By one of those ters were in season. The waiter legerdemain tricks that occur so freat Black's (for your own sake go to quently at public meetings, the entire Black's, the Shakspeare, and order deputation got, somehow or other, upyour oysters in Edmund Kean's favo. on the table, where, having wriggled rite room)--talked about party squab- themselves into something like order, bles and religious squabbles. I saw a venerable bivalve, grey with barnanor heard nothing of either, for the cles and age, advanced to the front, oysters were of the primest.

and having opened his shell, delivered The disaffected grumbled, it is true, himself nearly as follows:-“ Sir, the about the decline of trade, and taxa natives of Carlingford having heard, tion, and such stuff ; crops, they said, to their cost, of your arrival in were never so bad—when, may I ask, this neighbourhood, and being well were oysters better? Thus is it ever aware of the deadly interest you take with perverse human nature the vice in their affairs, have resolved to sato neglect the blessings we possess, crifice a number of their choicest and hanker after the blessings which inhabitants to your judicious palate we possess not, to complain of the un (“hear, hear!' from a little fat oyster); avoidable contingencies of sublunary and accordingly, for the honour and things, and forget, in over-wrought reputation of the natives of Carlinganticipations of unattainable felicity, ford ('hear!' from the fat one), á suffithat much whereof the happiness of cient number of volunteers have genelife is made up is still within our grasp, rously come forward (bravo !) to die and that whatever evils oppress us, gloriously for their compatriots ('hear, and whatever cares corrode, still there hear!' and clattering of shells on all remains for us the consolation that we sides). We, the deputation in this have oysters of the best, and that our matter appointed, do therefore reoysters are in season !

spectfully solicit you to I have always been prone to a be day (hear, hear!' from the corpulent lief in supernaturals, and a circum bivalve) when we may expect the stance occurred while I was opening pleasure of your company at the an acquaintance with the natives of oyster-beds, for which purpose the Carlingford at Newry that by, no Mayor and Aldermen of Carlingford means diminishes the Rosicrucianity have generously placed an oysterof my notions of the spiritual. It was boat and diving-bell at your disposal. near the midnight hour—the candles (Great and enthusiastic clattering.)" down almost to the socket_I had sup What answer I might have made to ped sparingly on some three quarters this hospitable proposal I know not, of a hundred, more or less, of my fa- for, having taken umbrage at the etervourite fish, scalloped, stewed, and au nal “hear, heart” of the little bloated



native (there always is in deputations,

" In tender consideration whereof, if you observe, one greasy little abo- your petitioners, regarding the · Pol. mination making his lungs as promi- doody Association' lately established, nent as his belly), I watched my op- in common with the other inhabitants portunity, and, catching him between of the north of Ireland, with sovereign the jaws with my oyster-knife while in contempt, turn to your Lordship, as the act of ejaculating a “hear, hear!” their landlord and natural protector, I opened him in a twinkling, to the in the hope that, without injury to the evident consternation of the surviving interests of the fishermen of Carlingcrustacea, who, seeing me bolt their ford, some legislative enactment may obese colleague, retreated in the same be adopted to preserve from further disorder in which they had arrived ! deterioration the Carlingford oysterI might have treated the whole affair beds. as the natural result of a scanty supper

“ And your petitioners, as in duty and limited supply of grog, had I not bound, will ever pray. discovered a paper which the deputa

Signed, on behalf of the petition left behind in their precipitate re

tioners, treat, and which is so well considered

“ MOTHER-OF-PEARL." and temperately expressed, that I do not think it unworthy a place in the

I take no credit to myself for the records of my peregrinations.

announcement of the fact, which I

state from undoubted authority, that " To the Most Honourable the Mar. owing to my exertions in this matter

quess of Anglesey, K.G., K.S.P., a commission has been appointed to Ĝ.C.B., a General in the Army, enquire into, and report upon, the Colonel of the Seventh Light Dra- state and prospects of the oyster-beds goons, Lord-Lieutenant of Angle- generally, while six and thirty assistseyshire, &c. &c. &c.

ant commissioners, with a sufficient - The Petition of the Natives of Car- bottled stout, have already been ap

supply of biscuits, oyster-knives, and lingford humbly and respectfully pointed, and have actually set out to showeth,

prosecute their enquiries on the spot. “ That petitioners and their an It is supposed that in twenty years' cestors have been, from time imme. time there will be sufficient data accu. morial, submarine inhabitants of the mulated to frame the first report, and oyster-beds in the bay of Carlingford, that not more than thirty thousand whereof your Lordship is lord of the pounds will be required annually for soil.

this commission. Indeed it is gener“ That they have enjoyed for cen- ally supposed that our paternal Goturies a reputation for fatness and fla- vernment, acting on the principle emvour second to none, superior to most, bodied in the Railway report, will equal to any.

discourage oyster-eating generally, “ That they bring higher prices, and except under Government auspices. are more in demand than any other It has already been calculated that no description of oyster in Dublin and oyster-cellar under extra-ministerial elsewhere.

management will pay more than three “ That they regret to state that, of and a-half per cent on the sunken late years, owing to the poverty of the capital, and it is predetermined to refishermen, or the system of too fre- commend a • Central Metropolitan quent dredging, or from indiscriminate Oyster Emporium," to be established and rapacious abstraction of the infe- in the Castle of Dublin, of which the rior fish, they have suffered in charac. celebrated Mr Dando, the oyster-eater, ter, are less in demand, and sold at a is intended to be resident stipendiary lower price per hundred than former. commissioner! ly.

Leaving Newry and the North, we “ That whereas in personal appear cross the Carlingford mountains into ance your petitioners were formerly Lowth, passing on our way many invariably as round as a ball, white as towns and villages remarkable for a nut, and full as a tick, they latterly beggars and dirt, and one sweet little have become little better than so many spot (Castle Bellingham), notorious bits of slate, owing to the operation of for cleanliness and humming ale-good some or other of the causes above ale, rare beverage in this alcoholic stated.

clime! Oysters are not cultivated be

tween Carlingford Bay and the Hill The singularly happy adaptation of of Howth, the country may therefore the good things of this life to the tastes as well be obliterated from the maps and resources of the various classes of in future,

recipients has often struck me as a Howth deserves our attention—we powerful evidence of the intention are on classic ground. That affecting that gradations should be established epic touching the life and adventures in human society. To the poor man of Saint Patrick thus alludes to its the oyster of Carlingford would be no imposing altitude in one of its thrilling treat—too small—too tasteless ; that stanzas, which, however, has lost much of Howth suits his palate as it suits by the translation :

his pocket, of a large size, full, fresh " The Wicklow hills is very high, flavour, and plenty for the money.

I And so's the Hill of Howth, ma'am,

would not advise an epicure to order But there's a hill much higher still, Howth oysters, nor, indeed, are they 'Tis higher nor them both, ma'am. to be had in those emporia adapted to 'Twas on the top of this high hill the better classes. If he be desirous Saint Paddy preached the sarmint, to taste them, he will find an abunThat driv the frogs intil the bogs, dance on the quays of Dublin, when, And bothered all the varmint.

if he carry with him, as I do, his In the touching ballad, “ Molly Ma- pocket oyster-knife and pepper-castor, lone,” the poet dexterously introduces he may whet his appetite very agreehis subject in the following sublime ably with a sixpen'orth. adjuration, illustrative at once of the

Behold me now in Dublin, very dealtitude of the hill and the towering cently lodged at the Carlingford Tapassion of the hero :

vern on Aston's Quay, a house which

I selected not less on account of the “ By the big hill of Howth

name than by reason of its contiguity That's a bit of an oath."

to the principal oyster-eating establishHowth is remarkable, too, for its ments of this metropolis. As sixteen famous waterproof asylum harbour, hundred and forty of the folio pages upon which half a million was expend- of the intended Oyster-bed Commised so successfully, under the auspices, sioners' Report are to be devoted to a as usual, of Government Commission- historical view of the oyster-cellars of ers, that the whole area of the basin Dublin from the earliest periods to the within the piers is dry as a bone at all present time, I do not intend to go times of tide, and effectually excludes fully into this part of the subject, rewater “ in the wettest seasons. It is plete as it is with matter of the highest at present only in use as an arena for antiquarian and economic interest. It the blackguards of the neighbourhood, will be sufficient to observe, that wherewho find it excellently well adapted as formerly oysters were invariably for their favourite amusement of “pitch eaten below the earth's surface, in suband toss," and by no means contemp- terranean cavities excavated for that tible as a cock-pit.

express purpose, they are now chiefly The aristocrat smiles at the idea of consumed in tidy boxes behind the a Howth oyster. I care not for his shops, or in genteel first-floor apartsmiles-no, nor for his sneers either. ments, neatly fitted up, as was very I write for posterity, and must distri- truly put forward in the last session of bute equal justice to the oyster of the Parliament by the Right Honourable poor man and the oyster of the rich. Mr Forcible Feeble, as an illustration Howth furnishes peculiarly the poor of the rising importance and growing man's oyster—six a penny, sometimes prosperity of Ireland. nine, according, of course, to the state What veteran oyster-eater does not of the market. Six may be taken as remember the cellar of the once celea fair average, and allow me to tell brated Queen Casey-a cellar that, you, Aristos, that with a fresh penny from its extent and the number buried roll, a pennyworth of good Howth na within its gloomy walls, might better tives, pepper included, and a penny. be denominated a catacomb? No ray worth of beer, I have seen a poor of sun-light ever penetrated further hard-working fellow dine as heartily, than the top of the companion-ladder and thank God as fervently, as if he leading to the den-no besom had had been set down vis-a-vis with your ever profaned the dirty floor or the worship to soup, fish, and dessert. blackened ceiling—no grindstone had

dared to remove the sevenfold rust cordingly, to eat mine “out of hand" from the knives and forks of the esta upon all occasions, and recommend a blishment

similar procedure to every individual “ No Molly mopp'd it with a mop,

of a delicate gusto in the important Nor brush'd it with a broom.”

business of oyster-eating.*

The Malahide oyster next demands Who that has ever seen her can our attention, and the student will forget the majesty of Queen Casey find the celebrated “O'Hara Tavern," herself? Most lamentably tossicated, French Street, on the south side of never without one or more “ blue the city, the favourite habitat of this eyes," a piece of adhesive plaster be- noble animal, and the locality where striding her Milesian proboscis—her its peculiar excellencies may be best unkempt hair escaping every where appreciated, cart-loads of individuals from the contamination of a greasy arriving daily for no other purpose cap-a pair of elephantine legs, termi- than that of being submitted to the nating in trotters “ to match," a fine scientific investigation of successive specimen, assuredly of the finest pea- groups of experimental philosophers, santry in the universe. But the glo- who devote the energies of their acries of old are departed--oysters, tive jaws to the analytic investigadarkness, and dirt are no longer tion of the bivalve crustacea. The necessarily associated—the “ school

“O'Hara Emporium," so called after master" has “walked into" the oyster- the patronymic of its enterprising procellars with a vengeance, and the prietor, acquired much of its wellsceptre of the once paramount Queen earned reputation under the enlightCasey is now wielded in turn by half ened rule of its former possessor, a-dozen rival potentates of the mascu who rejoiced in the not unusual cog. line gender.

nomen of " Smith,” and who has Malahide, Carlingford, Lissadell retired, after the honourable fatigues (Co. Sligo), and Burren (Co. Clare), of a well-spent life, with a compefurnish respectively their quota of tent fortune to his marine residence, oysters for consumption in the Dublin which is more particularly designated market. Of these various sorts, the to the eye of the inquisitive traveller, Malahide alone are exported in any by an inscription upon the gate-posts, quantity, the land-carriage precluding in red letters on a black ground, the any extensive exportation of the oys- post to the right displaying the letters ters of the western coasts. Carling POLDOO— that to the left giving the ford sends her tribute in boats of from final syllable, and the noun which twenty to thirty tons burden, which completes the name, thus, — DY CASTLE are moored in the river above Carlisle – both posts being read together, anBridge, exactly vis-a-vis with the Car

nounce the stucco residence in the dislingford Tavern on the one side, and tance as no other than the venerable Killean's Hotel at the other. At

I regret to either of these houses the epicure will observe that wealth and good taste are do well to form his own judgment of not accompanied, in the case of the exthis the finest oyster, certainly, in the cellent proprietor of Poldoody Castle, world; and I would recommend him with sound political principles, and to decline the assistance of the waiters, cannot conceal the chagrin with which and to order in the boatman to open I beheld him and his amiable consort, the fish on the spot, receiving them familiarly recognised in the oyster from the hand of the opener, taking world as “ Ould Mother Smith,"concare that they be eaten off the deep descending to patronise, in their prishell, to preserve every drop of the vate car, the last select ball at the Phæprecious liquor so peculiarly their nix Park. Really, Smith, you let

It is my firm conviction, that yourself down sadly! laying an oyster, after being opened, Admirers of the Atlantic, or greenon a dish, no matter for how short a finned oyster of Burren, will find in the period of time, diminishes materially “ O'Ryan,” shell-fish tavern, Trinity the piquancy of flavour, and deterio. Street, the choicest selection, the pro. rates the fish. I make it a rule, ac. prietor having devoted his valuable life



* See Dr Kitchener, Cook's Oracle, third edition, page 239, to the same effect.

« PoprzedniaDalej »