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HAD I THE TUN WHICH BACCHUS USED.
To the lover of Irish song, considerable interest will attach to this trifle, now first printed from the author's manuscript, when the name of the writer is stated to be "honest Dick Millikin," who has rendered "the Groves of Blarney" classic ground.
Richard Alfred Millikin was born, in 1767, at Castle Martyr, a small town in the county of Cork; and was placed in the office of a country attorney, where he had the reputation of devoting more attention to painting, poetry, and music, than to the niceties of law. Having completed his apprenticeship, when he claimed to be admitted as a member of the legal profession, the gentleman by whom he was to be examined "thought proper to declare his having received information by letter that Mr. Millikin, then present in Court, and claiming a right to be sworn a member of it, so far from being regularly initiated in the profession of an attorney, was bred a painter, and consequently was wholly unqualified for admission. This statement (so grossly false)," says Millikin's biographer, "was promptly corroborated by a Cork attorney, who asserted that he could himself point out a person in Cork, for whom the young man in question had actually painted a sign. Such an attack, in such a place, was in itself sufficient to abash an inexperienced young man; but, when a recollection flashed on his mind of having really painted a board, at the request of a poor widow (she was that attorney's nurse), to place over the window of her son's shop, his embarrassment became so
great that he was unable to utter a word; and, had not his limbs refused their office, he would have quitted the court never to return. But, just at that distressing moment, an acquaintance of happier times, the good-natured, kind-hearted Counsellor Fitzgerald (as remarkable for his urbanity of disposition as corpulence of person) happening to be present, and taking fire at the malicious falsehood, rose, and, in a very eloquent address to the court, fully disproved the illiberal and unmanly charge; asserting, in his turn, that Mr. Millikin-his school-fellow and early friend, who was designed for a higher walk in life than that he was now about to enter on-had not only received the education of a gentleman, but was possessed of those accomplishments generally attached to the character; one of which was drawing, in which he excelled, and which, till now, he had never heard attributed to any man as a fault, or considered as a barrier to professional pursuits.
"The consequence of this kind and seasonable explanation was his being admitted and sworn an attorney, and a member of the King's Inns: after which he returned to Cork to commence business. Young and unpatronised, however, he had little employment, being mostly applied to for the recovery of debts, a branch of the profession particularly disagreeable to him, his heart revolting from the idea of depriving a fellow-being of liberty, or distressing those who were already distressed; and a circumstance or two which occurred in the course of his short practice, effectually confirmed his dislike to the business altogether. Being employed by a clergyman to recover some debts, due by his parishioners for tithe, he proceeded for the purpose to a town where a quarter session was holding,
and where the process-server who had been employed was appointed to meet him. This person, however, not appearing, he waited, but waited in vain, until the conclusion of the session: for he never saw him more, the unfortunate man's body being found some time after, where he had been murdered while on his journey to the appointed place."
As professional employment, for which there are many candidates, must be courted rather than shunned as irksome, Mr. Millikin was left with ample leisure to indulge his taste for literature and the fine arts; and, in 1795, several poetical contributions from his pen were printed in the "Monthly Miscellany," a Cork magazine. In April 1797, he published, jointly with his sister-a lady who had distinguished herself by some historical novels"The Casket, or Hesperian Magazine," which appeared monthly until February 1798, when the political circumstances of Ireland terminated its existence.
On the breaking out of the rebellion, Mr. Millikin zealously joined the Royal Cork Volunteers, and soon became a conspicuous member of that corps. He was subsequently, by the exertions of his pen and pencil, an active promoter of various benevolent objects in Cork. In 1807, he published "The Riverside," a poem, in blank verse; and, in 1810, a little tale called "The Slave of Surinam." During the spring of 1815, the foundation was laid by him of a Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Cork, which followed an exhibition of his drawings, combined with the works of a few amateur friends and artists of that city. Mr. Millikin's death was caused by water on the chest, and occurred, after a short illness, on
the 16th December, 1815. He was buried with a public funeral at Douglas, near Cork, and his loss deplored as a general calamity.
A little volume, entitled "Poetical Fragments of the late Richard Alfred Millikin, with an authentic Memoir of his Life," was printed by subscription in 1823; and prefixed to it is a portrait, which was a good likeness of what the author must have been in the prime of life. Previous to this publication, all Mr. Millikin's papers were given by his widow, now no more, to the Editor, with the request that nothing unworthy of the memory of her husband should be published.
The Editor has only to add to this sacred trust, that, to the best of his judgment, if every line of the manuscripts thus placed in his hands were printed, nothing would appear injurious to the reputation of the witty head and warm heart of " honest Dick Millikin."
Had I the tun which Bacchus used,
For, while a can it ne'er refused,
I'd turn the cock from morn to eve,
My friend should sit as well as I,
For he who drinks-although he's dry-
But since the tun which Bacchus used
And let that churl, old Bacchus, sit,
A true Irishman says of his whisky as Boniface does of his "Anno Domini,"—" I have ate my ale, drank my ale, and I always sleep upon ale." So an Irishman, after the eating and drinking of his whisky is over, always sleeps upon it, which "parting glass," as it has been affectionately termed, is distinguished as "the nightcap."
With a nightcap of this manufacture, it has been already asserted (p. 82), that
"Neither frost, snow, nor rain, any harm can do me;
The burlesque, classical, little jeu d'esprit here given, appeared in a Dublin newspaper or magazine, about the year 1820, and was recited to the Editor by a friend, who informed him that the author was Mr. Thomas Hamblin Porter, elected a Scholar of Trinity College, Dublin, in 1817.
The Bog of Allen, from whence the nectar, patronised