Arthur Dawson

Life
?1700-1775; ed. TCD; noted bon vivant and wit of Grattan’s Parliament; lawyer; Baron of Irish Court of Exchequer, 1742; “Bumpers, Squire Jones”, for which he is remembered, is said to have been written while Turlough O’Carolan was composing a song in an adjacent room at Buck Jones’s house at Moneygall. PI JMC

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Commentary
Robert Welch, A History of Verse Translation from the Irish 1789-1897 (Gerrards Cross 1988), Perhaps Dawson’s paraphrase supplanted Carolan’s original, but there may well have been no original at all. “Bumpers, Squire Jones”, as its rhythmic shape suggests, was probably written to the jig air that underlies such typical Anglo-Irish songs of local pride as “The Rollicking Boys around Tandaragee” or “The Waterford Boys” ... [it is] a roisterous piece of joyous celebration, eminently singable, and deserves to be better known. (Walker, Historical Memoirs, I, p.296.) [32].

George Birmingham, intro., Recollections of Jonah Barrington (Dublin: Talbot Press; London: Fisher Unwin [1918]), ‘Only a society something like that which Barrington describes could have produced “Bumpers, Squire Jones”, and promoted the man who wrote it to high legal dignity’ [quoting “Bumpers, Squire Jones”, as infra].

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Quotations
Bumpers, Squire Jones”: ‘Ye good fellows all, / Who love to be told where good claret’s in store, / Attend to the call / Of one who’s ne’er frightened, / But greatly delighted, / With six bottles more: / Be sure you don’t pass / The good house Money-glass, / Which the jolly red god so peculiarly owns; / ’T,will well suit your humour, / For pray what would you more / Than mirth, with good claret, and bumpers, Squire Jones. // Ye poets, who write, / And brag of your drinking famed Helicon’s brook / Though all you get by’t / Is a dinner oft-times, / In reward of your rhymes, / With Humphrey the Duke: / Learn Bacchus to follow, / And quit your Apollo, / Forsake all the Muses, those senseless old crones; / Our jingling of glasses, / Your rhyming surpasses, / When crowned with good claret, and bumpers, Squire Jones. // Ye clergy so wise, / Who myst’ries profound can demonstrate most clear, / How worthy to rise! / You preach once a week / But your tithes never seek / Above once in a year: / Come here without failing, / And leave off your railing / ‘Gainst bishops providing for dull stupid drones: / Says the-text so divine, / “What is life without wine? / Then away with the claret-a bumper, Squire Jones. // Ye lawyers so just, / Be the cause what it will, who so learnedly plead, / How worthy of trust! / Ye know black from white, / Yet prefer wrong to right / As you chance to be fee’d; / Leave musty reports, / And forsake the king’s courts, / Where dulness and discord have set up their thrones; / Burn Salkeld and Ventris, / With all Your damned Entries, / Away with the claret – a bumper, Squire Jones.’ [See full version in Irish Literature, 1904 - available at Internet Archive online.]

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References
Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic University of America 1904); ‘Bumpers, Squire Jones’; song written by him in conjunction with Carolan as a toast to their host at Moneyglass; Carolan’s words were poor, and Dawson composed his version - which he passed off as the original to Carolan’s annoyance in the ensuing performance - while over-hearing the harper at work composing in the next room. In [Samuel] Lover’s Poems of Ireland, Bunting is cited as claiming that the song was imitated from the original Irish of Carolan. The verses are typically Georgian, with allusions to physicians and lawyers of the day. The refrain is ‘... claret, a bumper, Squire Jones!’ [See Irish Literature, 1904 - available at Internet Archive online.]

H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London: Walter Scott 1888), incls. “Bumpers, Squire Jones”.

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