The million-peopled city
The pleasing Peculiarities in the Irish Character.
The Irish possess distinctive peculiarities of character, in some respects of an agreeable and interesting nature. These are described very correctly in an important lecture delivered on December 6, , on "The Irish in London," at the Music Hall, Store-street, by the Rev. Samuel Garratt, the Minister of Trinity Church, Little Queen-street. "Having (he writes) been engaged for 2 years in labouring in a part of St. Giles's, crowded with Irish, those who have invited me to speak on this subject suppose that I ought to know something about it .... In fact, in what I have to say, I am obliged from the circumstances of the case to depend mainly on what I have seen myself, or heard from others engaged in the work, and especially those zealous co- operators in every Christian enterprise in this metropolis- the City missionaries. I cannot refer you for my authority to books, but if you wish for confirmation, the Irish in London are our neighbours, and I can at least say this-Go and see !" Mr. Garratt then remarks-" A very little acquaintance with them is sufficient to discover, in spite of all their social degradation, a peculiarity of character which would blend most usefully with that of their Saxon neigh- bours. The English labourer, with all his manliness and honesty, is often wanting in intellectual acuteness and in imaginative glow. In both these characteristics the Irish
|excel. There is an ingenuity of thought which contrasts strangely with the clumsiness of hand, and a perception of what is beautiful which is incongruously associated with the most total want of all comfort.|
" I do think that a few rays of Irish imagination, a little more play of fancy, more exuberance of joyousness, and more brightness of hope, would greatly add to the happiness of our own poor. They live too much in the present, while the Irishman lives too exclusively in the future. I would bring down the one to the present routine of daily duties, and raise up the other to brighter anticipations. I would put more good sense into the Irishman, and more poetry into the Englishman. And in this way I cannot but hope, that even intellectually, morally, and socially, they may do each other good; and that the English character, retaining its own solidity, may acquire the gracefulness of the Irish, and while equally useful, become more pleasing, demand as much of our approbation, and more engage our love."
The remark of Dickens, " An Irishman must be gone to the bad entirely when he cannot smile," affords an illustra- tion of Irish character which cannot but be admitted to be interesting and pleasing. Their constant buoyancy renders Irishmen often very acceptable as missionaries and Scripture- readers. They are seldom heavy or prosy in imparting instruction, and their address and natural humour will often gain a hearing to their message, even where prejudice against it exists.