Richard Alfred Millikin (1767-1815)


Life
[var. Milliken; fam. “Honest Dick”]; b. Castle Martyr, Co. Cork, 8 Sept., of Scots and Quaker background; patronised by Robert Boyle, Earl of Shannon, and became Dublin attorney; enlisted in Royal Cork Volunteers during 1798; with his sister fnd. and ed. The Casket, 1797-98; helped put down the Rebellion of 1798; dabbled as musician and painter; wrote Darby in Arms(c.1810), an Irish play;
 
best remembered for “The Groves of Blarney”, in the same metre as Curran’s “Deserter’s Meditation” and made famous on stage by Charles Mathews the Elder and anthologised in T. C. Croker, The Popular Songs of Ireland (1839); Francis Sylvester Mahony (“Fr. Prout”) concocted a series of ‘originals’ (i.e., ante-dated parodies) of his “Groves” in Greek, Latin, Norman-French and Irish; Millikin d. 16 Dec.; bur. Douglas, Cork. ODNB JMC PI JMC DIW DIL/2 MKA RAF FDA OCIL

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Works
Poetry
, The River-side, A Poem In Three Books (Cork: J Connor 1807); Poetical Fragments or the late Richard Alfred Milliken with an Authentic Memoir of his Life (London: Longman 1823). Fiction, The Slave of Surinam; or, Innocent Victim of Cruelty (Cork: Mathews 1810). Drama, Dungourney in Egypt (1805); Darby in Arms (1810); Macha, a trag. and The Anachonda.

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Criticism
Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, pp.426-29 [as Richard-Alfred Millikin]; ‘Memoir’ in Poetical Fragments (1823).

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Commentary
Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972): ‘A strange sequence of parody upon parody has been recounted by Mr. Vivien [sic] Mercier in one of his essays on Irish humor. The doggerel of “Castlehyde” makes it a worthy candidate for the title of one of the worst poems in English. Its jingling rhythms have been attributed to an Irish poet’s imperfect knowledge of English poetic idiom: “The richest groves throughout this nation and fine plantations you will see there; / The rose, the tulip, and sweet carnation, all vying with the lily fair.” / Richard Milliken once won a bet that he could write something equally absurd. The result was “The Groves of [160] Blarney.” The game was on, [...].’ (For ensuing remarks, see under F. S. Mahoney [“Fr. Prout”], infra.)

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W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; this ed. 1984), Richard Milliken [sic], notes neo-classical jokes in “Groves of Blarney”: ‘There are statues gracing / This noble place in / All heathen gods, / and nymphs so fair; / Bold Neptune, Caesar, / And Necbuchadnezzar, / All standing naked / In the open air!’ Stanford calls him a ‘versifier’. [119]; and also gives an account of Father Prout’s elaborate parody [see under F. S. Mahony, supra - passim.].

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980)Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol 1, calls ‘The Groves of Blarney’ the most famous example of Irish burlesque [25] and cites Brendan Behan’s remark that the inclusion of the poem in his work places a doubt on the ‘chastity’ of Irish poetry (Brendan Behan’s Island, p.78). Rafroidi notes that the original of which “The Groves” is a pastiche was the work called ‘Castle Hyde’ by a travelling poet named Barrett, c.1790.

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Robert Welch, Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), writes: ‘Richard Alfred Millikin ... wrote pastiches of folk songs, and De Groves of De Pool is about the return of the Cork militia to their relatives in Blackpool (the hoop-coilers, tanners, and glue-boilers) after the French wars. It makes fun of the flat Cork dialect, “De naggins of sweet Tommy Walker / We lifted according to rule / And wetted our necks wid the de native / Dat is brewed in the groves of de Pool.” [Though] Millikin is enjoying himself at the expense of the natives, it does betoken an interest in their patois.’ (p.48.)

P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland (1994), pp.174, gives account of Milliken and his poem. Kavanagh reads it as a squib on the pretentious English of Irish hedge-school masters, which ironically later Irish poets such as Colum came to admire for its capturing of the pattern of original Irish poetry; cites Colum’s remark:: ‘the “a” sound in Blarney is woven through every stanza, but every word that has the sound seems to have gone into its place smilingly ... this is the poem which James Stephens, as he told me once, “would rather have written than anything else in an Irish anthology.” (Colum, A Treasury of Irish Folk, 1967; Kavanagh, p.174).

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Quotations
The Groves of Blarney” [Version 1]: ‘The Groves of Blarney / They look so charming, / Down by the purling / Of sweet silent streams, / Being banked with posies, / That spontaneous grow there, / Planted in order / By the sweet rock close. / ’tis there’s the daisy / And the sweet carnation, / And the blooming pink, / And the rose so fair; / The daffoddowndilly- / Likewise the lilly, / All the flowers that scent / The sweet fragrant air. (Reprinted in Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature, 10 vols. (Catholic Univ. of America 1904).

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The Groves of Blarney” [Version 2]: ‘The groves of Blarney / They look so charming, / Down by the purling / Of sweet, silent brooks, / Being banked with posies / That spontaneous grow there, / Planted in order / By the sweet “Rock Close”. / ’Tis there the daisy / And the sweet carnation, / The blooming pink / And the rose so fair, / The daffydowndilly, / Likewise the lily, / All flowers that scent / The sweet, fragrant air. // ’’Tis Lady Jeffers / That owns this station; / Like Alexander, / Or Queen Helen fair, / There’s no commander / In all the nation, / For emulation, / Can with her compare. / Such walls surround her, / That no nine-pounder / Could dare to plunder / Her place of strength; / But Oliver Cromwell / Her he did pommell, / And made a breach / In her battlement. // There’s gravel walks there / For speculation / And conversation / In sweet solitude. / ’Tis there the lover / The groves of Blarney / May hear the dove, or / The gentle plover / In the afternoon; / And if a lady / Would be so engaging / As to walk alone in / Those shady bowers, / ’Tis there the courtier / He may transport her / Into some fort, or / All underground. // For ’tis there’s a cave where / No daylight enters, / But cats and badgers / Are for ever bred; / Being mossed by nature, / That makes it sweeter / Than a coach-and-six or / A feather bed. / ’Tis there the lake is, / Well stored with perches, / And comely eels in / The verdant mud; / Besides the leeches, / And groves of beeches, / Standing in order / For to guard the flood. // There’s statues gracing / This noble place in - / All heathen gods / And nymphs so fair; / Bold Neptune, Plutarch, / And Nicodemus, / All standing naked / In the open air! / So now to finish / This brave narration, / Which my poor genii / Could not entwine; / But were I Homer, / Or Nebuchadnezzar, / ’Tis in every feature / I would make it shine.’

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The Groves of Blarney” [Version 3]: ‘The Groves of Blarney / They ARE so charming, / ALL by the purling / Of sweet silent streams, / Being banked with posies that spontaneous grow there, / Planted in order by the sweet rock close. / ’Tis there’s the daisy, and the sweet carnation, / And the blooming pink, and the rose so fair; / The daffoddowndilly, BESIDE the lilly,- / FLOWERS that scent the sweet fragrant air. // Oh, ullagoane, [… &c.]’ (The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, 1991, Vol. 2.) Note additional verse supplied by FDA but absent from Irish Literature (1904) as from Brendan Kennelly, ed., Penguin Book of Irish Verse (1970; 2nd ed. 1981): ’Tis there the kitchen hangs many a flit[c]h in, / With the maids a-stitching upon the stair; / The bread and biske’, the beer and whisky, / Would make you frisky if you were there. / ’Tis there you’d see Peg Murphy’s daughter / A washing praties forenent the door, / With Roger Cleary, and Father Healy, / All blood relations of my lord Donoughmore.’ (See also W. J. McCormack’s discussion of this stanza, supra.]

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References
Justin McCarthy
, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: CUA 1904), locally called Honest ‘Dick Millikin’ [sic]; conspicuous member of Royal Cork Volunteers; pieces appeared in Cork Magazine in 1795; published The Casket or Hesperian Magazine with a sister, who has several historical novels; terminated by the troubles of 1798; ‘The River Side’, longer poem in blank verse; two dramatic pices; and a story called The Slave of Surinam; explains ‘The Groves’ as arising from an undertaking to better a poem by an itinerant poet in praise of Castle Hyde which had attained great popularity from its ‘ludicrous character’; ‘with much tact and cleverness he has introduced into this song local and historic truth dressed as burlesque; Blarney forfeited by Lord Clan[ca]rty and passed into hands of Jeffers family in 1689; Milliken makes Cromwell the bogie who assaults the ill-used Lady Jeffers and makes a breach in her castle; Lord Broghill [Roger Boyle] took the castle in 1646. McCarthy cites [two] stanzas to the same measure added by Father Prout of which which Lover claims that any editor who omits them deserves to be hung up to dry on his own lines [no source]. Bibl., Poetical Fragments of the late Richard Alfred Millikin [sic] (1823). [See quotations, infra.]

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D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912) also cites Dermid, a poem [n.d.]; The Geraldine, a ballad [n.d.]

Geoffrey Taylor, Irish Poets of the 19th c. (Oxford 1951) incls. “The Groves of Blarney”.

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850, Vol 2 (1980), Vol. 2, give bio-data: b. Castlemartyr, Co. Cork; a lawyer and man of many talents; contrib. Monthly Miscellany (in 1975), The Casket, or Hesperian Magazine, which he founded (1797-98); Active in repression of 1798. Poetry, Dermid and The Geraldine (dates unknown), The Riverside ... (Cork 1807). Plays attrib. to him are Dungourney in Egypt (1805); Darby in Arms (1810); Macha, a trag. and The Anachonda. Anthologised extensively in Harmonica, or Elegant Extracts of English, Scotch, and Irish Melodies from the Most Approved, Popular and Modern Authors, with pref. (Bolster, Cork 1818).

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Dictionary of National Biography calls him an attorney who volunteered on the outbreak of the ‘98 Rising; chiefly remembered for ‘The Groves,’ sung on stage by the elder Charles Mathews.

Stephen Brown, S.J., Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin: Talbot 1912), cites Richard Millikin Darby in Arms ([1810]).

Shell Guide (1966) lists Castlemartyr [Baile Na Martra, ‘town of the relics’], Co. Cork.

Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), cites a ‘Memoir’ in Poetical Fragments (1823), quoted by Thomas Crofton Croker in his introduction to the “Groves of Blarney” in The Popular Songs of Ireland, referring to Millikin’s pastiche of the ‘ignorant Irish village bards’. Cites works, Poetical Fragments of the late Richard Alfred Millikin [sic] authentic memoir (1823); The Riverside, a poem in 3 bks (1807); fiction, The Slave of Surinam, or Innocent Victim of Cruelty (Cork 1810). [?poss. based on Behn/Southerne Oronooko].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, 1081 [of “Groves”: on the surface … a precocious squib, preserved solely for its outrageous rhymes, for its distant relationship to the Irish song “Preab san-Ol” (translated by J. P. Curran) and its more direct relationship with J. S. Mahony’s [sic] “Bells of Shandon” [note that McCormack, ed., does not here say influence, since the “Bells” came later]. Yet its reference to Lady Jefferys who ‘owns this station’ in the second stanza puts us in touch with the volatile politics of Munster in the 1780s and Lady Jefferys’s sponsorship of the Whiteboy insurrection. In Milliken’s comic poem, she is anachronistically defeated by Cromwell, a retrospective ambition typical of much Irish Tory literature in this period.’ W. J. McCormack]. [BIOG. 1170, as above], and selects “The Groves of Blarney”, 1101-02.

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Seamus Deane, The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991), Vol. 2, 871n.: his “Groves of Blarney” contains stanzas on Donoughmore quoted by Lady Morgan in The O’Briens and the O’Flahertys [see Hely Hutchinson, q.v.]. Regarding this stanza, McCormack notes under Milliken in FDA1 [note to poem, stanza 5], that Richard Hely-Hutchinson (1756-1825) became 1st Earl of Donoughmore in 1800; consequently the assertion made in the memoir cited below that this stanza was added during the 1798 Rebellion cannot stand. Hely-Hutchinson’s family were long connected with Cork politics, and had a reputation for ambitious social climbing. The poem was not included in Poetical Fragments, although the Memoir attached (1823), records details of its composition. Further: “The Groves of Blarney” is said to have been written to rival the unintentional comedy of a eulogy on Castle Hyde in the same vicinity written by a wandering poet called Barrett. A striking feature of the history of Milliken’s song is the frequent omission from anthologies of a stanza satirizing Lord Donoghmore [Richard Hely-Hutchinson, d.1825], for his supposed kinship with the common people. The stanza is nevertheless quoted - or rather misquoted - to malicious effect in Lady Morgan’s The O’Briens and the O’Flahertys, Chap IV. In a memoir on the life of the poet attached to his Poetical Fragments (1823), his authorship of the offending verses - first printed by T. C. Croker in Popular Songs of Ireland (1839) - is explicitly denied. (Idem.) The text of “Groves” given in FDA is taken from The Popular Songs of Ireland, collected and edited by T. C. Croker (London: Colburn 1839), pp.147-49, said therein to be copied ‘from the author’s manuscript’, including stanza 5. McCormack draws on contemporary evidence to show that Mrs Arabella Jeffreys, the problematic sister of John Fitzgibbon, Lord Clare, was (like Dominick Trant, who died in a duel) accustomed to using the local Whiteboy association for political and other purposes, and that Lord Clare checked her. McCormack draws the conclusion that the song is more than a nonsense song, and its characters more than nonsense characters, and that any stanza added to ridicule Lord Donoughmore was faciliated by the songs half-concealed political codes, while its omission from the collected poems shows that those codes still had power to give offence in 1823. Note also that in the memoir, but not the title page, the author’s name is spelt ‘Millikin’. Note also, Lady Morgan gives a satirical variant of “The Groves of Blarney” in The O’Briens and the O’Flahertys, Chap IV, viz.: ‘Pat O’Daisey, / And Mistress Casey, / All blood relations to Lord Donoughmore’ (rep. in Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Derry: Field Day 1991, Vol. 2; see under Hely-Hutchinson, q.v.) [See quotations, supra.]

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Notes
Sean O’Faolain
, The Irish (Penguin 1947), calls ‘Dick Millikin’ the ‘fashionable versifier’ (p.137).

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