Provided by Harry Latham from 18th Century Newspaper and reproduced in 1984 King Of Dalkey Festival Programme.
ST PATRICK'S DAY WITH THE KING OF DALKEY
D. Crilly , M.P.
J.J Bourke ('Tiria'')
John Augustus O'Shea Lieut-Col
T S. Cleary
W T. Parkes
Mrs M.T. Pendee
James G. Meagher .Etc. etc.
I. - THE KING OF DALKEY GETS A HINT FROM MAJOR SIRR.
"Yes, Mr Merridew, as I have already remarked to you, by this time tomorrow I shall be groaning under the cares of Royalty".
The gentleman addressed, a fat, double-chinned, ruddy Saxon, looked bewildered - looked as if he thought his companion was making fun of him, or was an eligible candidate for Swift's Hospital, and fondly stroked his double chin as if to coax the dimples out of it, and uttered this profound observation:
''True, sir, true as I stand here," continued the first speaker. "Before tomorrow's sun shall have set on our national anniversary I, Stephen Armitage, bookseller, shall be hailed His Majesty. The ring of sovereignty , shall encircle my brow, and the purple mantle of power shall be draped from my shoulders."
"Where is your kingdom situated?" asked Mr Merridew
"To Be accurate, sir, in fifty-three seventeen north latitude, and six degrees five minutes west longitude."
"I'm all at sea."
"So is the island, for an island it is, full eighteen acres in extent. It is bounded on the north, east, and south by the rolling billows, and on the west by the Sound of Dalkey, separating it from the island of Ireland, with which, I am proud to say, I am on terms of alliance - at least with all good fellows therein."
"Is this kingdom an inheritance, Mr Armitage?" pursued the Englishman.
"Whats, my friend, would you put it on a level with the gout or any other hereditary disease? Shame! The monarch is elective like those of Poland of yore, like the Pope of Rome at present."
"Does the island - the kingdom I mean - produce anything?"
"Anything? It produces everything in reason - the fruits of philosophy and the flowers of good fellowship, dry stones by the ton and rain water except in droughty seasons by the cubic inch. Besides, we are entitled to import ten thousand hogsheads of saltwater annually duty free, and can boast of the finest reservoirs in the universe for the gratuitous storage of fresh air - God's most wholesome gift to man."
"Are there many inhabitants?"
"Well, that's a poser. Sometimes there are, and sometimes there are not. My subjects fluctuate, principally consisting as they do of the feathered creation; but tomorrow, if you honour me with your company to my realm, you'll have an opportunity of seeing my dominions under their most radiant aspect - that is if the sun shines. The whole Court will be there in its gala splendour, and I may tell you in confidence I am expecting visits form some brother potentates, including the Kings of Kippen and Fifeshire, perhaps the King of Brentford, and - but I won't be so sure of this - I have heard that my cousin, the King of Yvetot, might drop in on me for pot-luck. Come, and I'll treat you to as good a slice of Irish Boggoon off a Limerick ham, O'Mara's brand, as ever you tasted."
"I should be most happy, I am sure. How am I to get there?"
"Call on me at the Black Jack, at Ringsend, about ten in the morning, and I'll reserve a seat for you in the royal barge. Be sure and bring your Patrick's cross with you, and I undertake to furnish the Patrick's pot. Be punctual, for I expect a deputation from the Kingdom of Kerry to present with a donation of native diamonds, and I wouldn't be behind time for the world. Punctuality is the courtesy of kings.
In the meanwhile, to pass the evening, you couldn't do better than go hear a debate in the House of Commons - I'll lend you a gown a Gib left with me for a few thirteens - and wind up at the Smock-alley Theatre, where Andrew Cherry is appearing in his own comedy of 'The Soldier's Daughter'. I'll be busy rehearsing for my own majestic performance tonight or I'd most certainly accompany you to point you out the lions among the bucks and bullies."
"I suppose I mustn't address you as Armitage tomorrow," said the Englishman. "I used to be friendly with Lord Camden in my county of Sussex, and know him as Pratt. But here I find he is his Excellency."
"Pshaw! What's he after all but a vice-king, and I am a king; still he is legally authorised to call himself Baron Camden, Viscount Bayham and Earl of Camden, Lord Lieutenant and General Governor of Ireland. My proper style and title is his Facetious Majesty, Stephen the First, King of Dalkey, Emperor of the Muglins, Prince of the Holy Island of Magee, and Elector of Lambay and Ireland's Eye, Defender of his own Faith and Respecter of all others, Sovereign of the Illustrious Order of the Lobster and Periwinkle. By my work, Mr Merridew, if you conduct yourself like a liegeman tomorrow who knows but I shall compliment the holy and happy day that's in it by admitting you to the privileges and immunities of that austere fraternity of marine chivalry."
"Oh! I'm sure I'm very much obliged. Thanks exceedingly."
AS the Englishman was bowing himself out, a shock-headed, ,erryeyed apprentice burst into the shop and danced, and snapped his fingers as he cried:
"Oh! Mr Stephen, agra, what a pity you missed the fun! Divil a finer day's devershun I've had for a month of Sundays. Counsellor Daly and Count Hayes met in St Stephen's Green, and out with the toasting irons at one another before you could say Jack Robinson."
"Gracious me! Murmure the Englishman, "what a queer country. I wish I was out of it.
Good-day, Mr Armitage," he added in a louder tone, and sotto voce, as he left, "egad! I don't half like going on this Dalkey business, and yet I suppose if I didn't this bookseller might be offended and take a pit-shot at me."
"Mike," said his incipient Majesty of Dalkey to his attendant, "if that divil, Jack Miles, from Trinity College, calls round in the course of the day, tell him if he turns up all right tomorrow, I'll cry quits of the trick he played me, when he left the bull-dog in pawn for a set of Greek classics. The blackguard, sure the beast nearly ate ,e out of house and home, and I had to forgive him and throw in a Tacitus for nothing before he'd consent to take the brute off my hands, No matter; he's the heart's blood of a fine fellow, and I have more than my suspicions he's one of us. Tell us, Mike, I expect him to act as my Arch-Druid, and, Mike, if that curly-headed little gorsoon - through, faith, 'tis a crabbed gorsoon he is - should call in, you know who I mean, Moore, the grocer's son, from Aungier Street, tell him I'll be at the Druid's in the evening. And now call me a noddy; for it's getting a famous edge to my appetite I am , and Norah will never listen to excuses from her dad if the dinner is let spoil. Faith, 'tis the tyrannised monarch myself is completely."
Before pleasant Stephen Armitage had the opportunity of starting for his suburban residence at Glasnevin, a tall, middle-aged, military-looking man entered the shop and bade him good day.
"It's good for sore eyes to see you, Major Sirr,"
he said, with a forced air of gay welcome.
"Humph!" grunted that dreaded functionary.
"Tisn't every citizen of Dublin would say that; but you're a royalist, Armitage."
"I should hope so, sir. Why, I'm more that a royalist, for I'm a king of more that a royalist, for I'm a king myself. Logically, how could I be anything else?"
"It is about that kingship of yours I have called, Armitage. I thought it was customary to hold the mummery in August. Why are you going to have it on the 17th March this year?"
"Because it is the national anniversary."
"And couldn't that be kept by the beggars in the Upper Castle-yard?
Isn't the band-playing, and the guard-mounting and the largess for jigging, and the sight of the Lord Lieutenant with a patch of clover in a button-hole of his coat enough for them?"
in an offended tone - indeed, to be candid, he was bursting with natural indignation and found it hard to curb his temper -
"I fear somebody has been poisoning your mind against myself and my associates in our ancient piece of carnival mystification. They are not beggars who go to Dalkey, but respectable burgesses. Our sole object is to indulge in a little harmless revelry; and I do think that you'll agree with me that that is the least we may have in this season of depression and despondency."
"That's so. If I was sure it was a mere convivial meeting I wouldn't object. Sound drinkers don't conspire, and when they do I wouldn't give that," filliping his finger,
"for their conspiracies. Tosspot is a leaky vessel. Who constitutes your Majesty's court?"
"The wittiest and brightest fellows in Eblana, nearly all the Monks of the Screw pay their worshipful homage to me, we have the sprightliest barristers from the Four Courts, the leading actors from the Smock-alley and Crow-street theatres, and a sprinkling of young gentlemen from Trinity"
- "Ah!" interrupted Sirr,
"I have my eye on Trinity. Their blathering Historical Society is overmuch outspoken. No damned French politics here! There will be a visitation in college before long if they don't have a care."
"pitiful that the rising generation should be inoculated with the virus of sanscullottism," remarked Armitage, with an affection of philosophic regret.
"Now, in my kindom of Dalkey, we are all Conservatives. We conserve the tradition of our predecessors, and will tolerate no revolution, not even a mockery of a revolution. Mine I may say, Major, is a paternal Despotism."
"Stick by that, Armitage, and you'll be safe. As for those tuckered traitors of Trinity, they should be satisfied with pinking an odd tradesman or looking on at a battle between the liberty boys and the butchers of Ormond Market, and leave affairs of State to their elders and their betters."
"By the way, Major," said Stephen,
"as it is Patrick's Eve, would you mind taking a drop of genuine old Oporto I have here?"
"Well, I don't mind if I do, as they day is cold."
"Let me brew it for you. Will you take it hot?"
"Yes, with a scraping of nutmeg."
v A huge jorum of the streaming negus was soon forthcoming, and the redoubtable Major, lifting it to his lips, said, "Confusion to rebellion, and may the hangman's hemp collar grip the throat of every rebel cur!" and almost at a draught he tossed off the fiery potent liquor. Some of it must have gone the wrong way, as the Major took a fit of coughing and spluttering, and his bloated countenance swelled to a purply black mask of exaggerated grotesque in the paroxysm of his effort to recover his breath, Stephen Armitage clapped him on the back - not too lightly.
"Damn it all! Armitage, that's fine tipple," hiccuped the Major as he came to himself, "But one would think the rascally rebel spirit had got into it."
"Don't be put down by it, Major. Try another."
"Godzocks! I will. The Town Major is not to be dismayed by Continental potations of domestic plotters."
Another jorum was brewed, and this was drunk with more caution, and proved highly acceptable to the oraving and seasoned toper. It put him into a good humour (for him), and at leaving the Major warned the bookseller to be very careful that no underhand work was carried out on the morrow under screen of festivity, for that his men would be there amongst those least suspected, and would keep their eyes and ears open.
On the threshold he paused and ask abruptly-
"Who was that I saw leaving your place before I came in?"
"An English gentleman who had an introduction to me, a famous bookworm, one Mr Merridew. He' for Lord Camden' county, and is known to the Viceroy, I believe."
"So much the better for him - and for you too," the last few words being added in and indistinct mutter.
"Armitage, do you know a Trinity man named Miles?"
"Know him - I have reason to know him, the rapscallion. He's been in books for this many a day."
"Keep him at arm's length," and the burly Major pottered off, ringing his staff on the pavement.
"The divil's luck go with you, every inch of the road you pollute, you arbitrary, spying ruffian," said the bookler, looking after him with loathing. "I wonder what's in the wind now, I must put Jack Miles on his lard. God pardon me, I could almost have wished it was prussie acid and not nutmeg scraping I dropped into that negus. I thought he's have ced. Faix! I had the satisfaction of one sweep thump at his back at any rate."
And Stephen Armitage laughed and rubbed his hands with glee at the recollection.