“Being St Patrick’s Day, the Butchers in Clare Market hung up a Grotesque Figure, to represent an Irishman; and a great Number of Irishmen coming to pull it ’down a fierce Battle ensu’d, when much Mischief was done, and some very dangerously wounded; but a File of Musqueteers being fetched from St James’s several of the Rioters were carry’d before Col De-Veil, who sent three of them to Newgate”.
Somehow,the celebration of St Patrick’s Day seems rather more fun nowadays….
As a follow-up, and without wanting to appear to be falling into stereotypes, I thought it would be interesting to show one 18th Century view of an Irish-ness. It consists of a cartoon by my favourite caricaturist Richard Newton and is entitled the Progress of an Irishman. It appears courtesy of the British Museum.
It consists of a strip design and is arranged in three rows. Top row:
 ‘Going to School and eating a Potatoe for his Breakfast’. A ragged, bare-legged Irish boy carrying a bundle and clutching a potato.
 ‘Setting out for the Irish College in Paris to be made a Priest’. He is still bare-legged but carries his shoes and is less ragged.
 ‘Swinging the Incense’. He wears a long gown.
 ‘Renounces the Church and Turns a man of Gallantry’. He kneels on one knee, elegantly dressed.
 ‘Turns Player’. He rants violently, wearing Elizabethan dress.
 ‘Leaves the Stage and turns Soldier’. He stands with a musket.
 ‘Deserts and offers his service to a Noted English Gambler on his travels’. He is ragged and supplicating but fashionably dressed.
 ‘Gets as deeply skill’d in the mystery of cards and dice as his Master and sets up for himself’. He holds up a dice-box with a scowl.
 ‘Fights for a Demirep in high keeping and becomes her favourite’. He brandishes a bludgeon.
 ‘Sends his purse with all he has to a friend in distress’. He stands, eyes downcast, with left hand on his heart and his right outstretched clutching a purse.
 ‘Is himself the next hour in Prison for debt’. He stands disconsolate.
 ‘Writes to every fine woman he knows and is relieved by them all’. He holds out a pen and a sheaf of letters.
 ‘Comes out with a full purse makes fierce love to a rich Widow and marries her’. He kneels, making an impassioned declaration.
 ‘Gets into the Army – gives a Challenge while in liquor to a Brother officer’. He stands in a brawling attitude.
 ‘Thus ends this strange eventful History – Sudden – unprepared- Death!!!’ He falls to the ground.
And in case he appears prejudiced against the Irish, Newton also made a Progress of a Scotsman – perhaps I will save that until St Andrews Day. Meanwhile, to the beautiful country of Ireland, and to all her Sons and Daughters – enjoy your day!