The Wit, Epigrams and Poetry of the Reverend De La Cour ‘The Mad Parson’, Blarney, Co. Cork.
From Crofton Croker:
At Killowen, near Blarney, the Rev. James De la Cour was born, whose ‘ Prospect of Poetry,’ unfortunately for him, was much admired. It is reported that some complimentary lines addressed
to him on this publication, by Thomson, the author of the Seasons, commencing with Hail, gently warbling De la Cour,’’
James Thomson, The Seasons London: Henry Woodfall for A. Millar (1744)
affected his reason, so as to render him guilty of many irregularities, for which he was deprived of his gown.
The Prospect of Poetry (evidently an imitation of Pope) was first published in 1?33, and has since been reprinted in Cork more than once, with some of De la Cour’s other poems, the beauties and faults of which closely resemble those of the compositions on which they were modelled.
Many epigrams by Dr. De la Cour are exquisitely satirical: but few are to be seen in print owing to their being founded chiefly on temporary and local circumstances, and most of them consequently requiring a long prosaic introduction. Many are known to me, and, as a fair example, I select one, the history of which has been orally preserved.
De la Cour frequented a coffee-house kept by a man named Connor, who had been servant to Mr. Carleton, a merchant distinguished in Cork by the nickname of ‘King Carleton,’ on account of his wealth and influence, and who patronised his old servant.
Connor, soon after he had commenced business, married a daughter of the city jailor, and the poet, having accumulated a long bill, was refused further credit by the prudent landlady. When De la Cour inquired indignantly for Jack Connor, he was haughtily answered by his spouse with ‘Is it Mr. Connor you ask for, sir? Upon my honour I don’t know where he is, unless with Frank Carleton!’ This was about the time of the breaking out of the American war, and on that occasion civic politics ran high. Two addresses were drawn up to the government, called the Pro and Con; the one principally signed by the corporation, expressive of their willingness to support the cause of England with their lives and fortunes; the other was
from the merchants, praying for pacific measures, and stating how injurious war would be to the commercial prosperity of the nation. Mr. Connor, to make himself popular, signed both, and was of course despised by both sides of the question. Soon after, severe losses on extensive speculations caused the failure of Mr. Carleton; and Connor, finding himself involved with his patron, became also a bankrupt, when De la Cour is said to have chalked the following lines on a window-shutter of his coffee-house:
So now, Dame Jail,
Your pride must fail,
Likewise your boasted honour,
For ‘Frank’ is gone,
And ‘Pro and Con’
Are signed by ‘Mr. Connor.’
Another epigram of De la Cour’s I copy from a Cork newspaper of the time: occasioned by the capture of the Bellona, a French frigate of thirty-two guns, by the Vestal of the same force:
In vain Bellona mounts the Gallic gun
To take the honour of the British Nun;
Chaste as she lives, so brave she will expire,
There’s no extinguishing a Vestal’s fire.