“One of the injustices of which the Catholics used to tell p. 71me, was the unfair way in which the Catholics were treated in Clonmel. Amongst others, they relate a practice then in existence. The Protestant shopkeepers, upon a certain day, used to go about the town levying a tax upon their Catholic neighbours who attempted to open shops within the town walls of Clonmel. They used to wring from each individual from two to four guineas, which they called intrusion money. My informants especially praised an old Mrs. Ryan, now dead, who boldly refused to comply with their demands. The tax-makers, therefore, seized her goods. She afterwards recovered them at law, and her spirited conduct led to the abolition of this toll. We Catholics had at one time to pay a tax upon all bought merchandise, while our more favoured Protestant and Dissenting fellow-townsmen were saved not only from a needless expenditure, but from the galling contact with such a class as the toll-gatherers. In the house, 112, Main Street, was the news-room, which I joined. I was greatly struck by the loud and consequential talk constantly going on between a Mr. Jephson and a Sir Richard Jones, and two more of their set, whereas I and my fellow-Papists were not allowed to speak above a whisper. This I resolved not to submit to; for I could see no reason why, when I had paid my money in a public place, I should not share all equal rights. Others followed my example; and as we all, Protestants and Papists, indulged in equally noisy declamation, a stranger entering our news-room would have been puzzled to say which party were the privileged administrators of the penal code.”

Irish like, Mr. Bianconi managed now and then to have his joke. One day, when he was sending home in a large wooden case a very superior looking-glass, an old lady asked what was in the box thus carefully conveyed. “The Repeal of the union,” was Bianconi’s reply. The old woman’s delight and astonishment knew no bounds. She knelt down on her knees in the middle of the road, to thank God for having preserved her so long, that at last, in her old days, she should have seen the Repeal of the union. As another illustration, we quote the story of the opposition car:—

“His first attempt he thought was going to be a failure; scarcely anybody went by car. People were used to trudging along on foot, and they continued to do, thus saving their money, which was more valuable than their time. Another p. 72man would have abandoned the speculation; but Mr. Bianconi did nothing of the kind. He started an opposition car, at a cheaper rate, which was not known to be his—not even by the rival drivers, who raced against each other for the foremost place. The excitement of the contest, the cheapness of the fare, the occasional free lifts given to passengers, soon began to attract a paying public, and before very long both the cars every day came in full. He had bought a great, strong, yellow horse, as he called him, to run in the opposition car; he gave, he said, £20 for the animal. One evening his own recognised driver came to him in great pride and excitement. ‘You know the great, big, yallah horse under the opposition car? Well, sir, he’ll never run another yard. I broke his heart this night. I raced him from beyant Moore-o’-Barns, and he’ll never thravel agin.’ Mr. Bianconi told me he was obliged to show the greatest gratification at the loss of his beast; but it gave him enough of the opposition car, which there and then came to an end, like the poor horse. The habit of travelling on a car increased among a people when they had become alive to its advantage.”

The main principle on which Bianconi acted was never to despise poor people, or apparently small interests. “His great enterprise,” wrote Dr. Cook Taylor, “arose from the problems, how to make a two-wheeled car pay while running for the accommodation of poor districts and poor people, as regularly as the mail-coaches did for the rich; and when that was solved, how to regulate a system of traffic by a network of cars, the cars increasing in size as the traffic required, from the short one-horse car, holding six people, to the long four-horse car, holding twenty people.” One extract more will give the reader Mr. Bianconi’s secret of money-making:—

“I remember when I was earning a shilling a day in Clonmel, I used to live upon eightpence, and that did not prevent the people from making me their mayor. I did the same at Cashel and at Thurles, and that does not prevent me from at present living between the towns, on a property of seven miles circumference, and on which I pay her Majesty £7 2s. 6d. per year, or from being a J.P. or a D.L.

“It gives me sincere pleasure in seeing you follow the sound principle of having your wants within your means. Don’t be fond of changes. It is better for you to be at the head of a small republic than at the foot of a great one.”

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p. 73Mrs. O’Connell writes:—

“I may add, as a postscript, what my father once said to a young Yorkshireman, ‘Keep before the wheels, young man, or they will run over you. Always keep before the wheels.’”

In his way, Mr. Bianconi was a religious man. He and his priest were always on good terms. He did not run his cars on a Sunday, because the Irish, being a religious people, will not travel for business on that day. He also found his horses worked better for one day’s rest in seven. With Daniel O’Connell he was on the most intimate terms, and Sheil was often a guest at his house. He was an out-and-out Liberal, and always maintained that when the Tory landlords saw that they would fail to get one of their own party into parliament, they encouraged their tenants to vote for the Home Rule nominee, in the hope of balking the steady-going Liberal who could afford to be honest. “I have known,” writes Mrs. O’Connell, “a great Protestant land-owner boast of having given tacit support to the ultra-Liberal candidate, in the pious hope that he could thereby cause mischief in the Liberal benches.”

It is not pleasant to read that Bianconi, true friend to Ireland as he was, narrowly escaped the penalty too generally attached to ownership of land in Ireland. It was said that he was marked out to be shot!—it was even thought that the deed had been planned and attempted, and frustrated only by the parish priest, who asked him to take a seat in his gig on his way home from Cashel. Bianconi had driven in from Longfield in his own carriage, but he accepted the priest’s invitation and went back with him. It seems there are two roads leading from Cashel towards Longfield House, and the priest chose the longer of the two. “Why do you take this road?” said Bianconi. “I prefer it,” replied the priest, and nothing more was said about it then; but it was suspected that the old priest had heard something, or got some warning, for it afterwards became known that a party of men had that night been watching on the other road. Happily for the credit of Ireland, Bianconi expired peacefully in 1873, at a ripe old age, as is manifest when we state that he was born in 1786. One of his last acts was characteristic. Struck with paralysis, he discovered, about a week before his death an error of eightpence in the deduction for poor-rates out of a large rent cheque. Verily, of such is the kingdom p. 74of Mammon. Mrs. O’Connell, however, has done her best to make her father’s memory fragrant; but she is a novice in the art of book-making, and we must take the will for the deed. Let us hope her countrymen will study the example she holds out to them of a man industrious, and careful, and economical, and eager for the main chance. It is such men Ireland needs far more than agitators for Home Rule. In the colonies no one learns more readily the value of thrift than the Irishman, or gives us a finer example of how to reap the golden harvest which it ensures; but in his native land the Irishman loves more to spend money than earn it. Sir Thomas Dargan, the great railway contractor, was, however, one of those exceptions which teach us how, even in his native land, the poorest Irishman may amass a fortune. Young Dargan received a good education, and after leaving school was placed in a surveyor’s office. With little beyond this training, and a character for the strictest integrity, he left Ireland to push his fortunes. His first employment was under Telford, who was then engaged in constructing the Holyhead Road. When this was completed Dargan returned to Ireland, and embarked in several minor undertakings, in which he was fortunate enough to gain sufficient to form the nucleus of that princely fortune which entitled him to the appellation of a millionaire. After the highly successful result of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Mr. Dargan, with the view of developing the industrial resources of his native country, and with a munificence certainly without parallel in one who had been “the architect of his own fortune,” resolved on founding an Industrial Exhibition in Dublin, and placed £20,000 in the hands of a committee, consisting of the leading citizens, and empowered them to erect a building, and to defray all the necessary expenses connected with the undertaking, on the sole condition that no begging-box should be handed found for further contributions. He undertook, moreover, to advance whatever additional sums might be required to carry the enterprise to a successful issue. In fact, before the Exhibition opened (May 12, 1853), Mr. Dargan’s advances are said not to have fallen far short of £100,000.

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Perhaps one of the most remarkable cases of success in life is the following, as described by Mr. Napier, of Merchiston, in a paper in “Fraser’s Magazine.” He says:—

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“After the reading of my paper on the vegetarian core for intemperance, before the Bristol Meeting of the British Association in 1875, I was addressed by an elderly gentleman and his wife, who said my views were strictly in accordance with theirs. After some conversation, we adjourned to his hotel, where he hospitably entertained me, and gave me a narrative of his life, with permission to publish it in the interest of the good cause, suppressing his name and abode, as he said he was particularly shy and retired in his habits, and had a great objection to see his name in print.

“He was born in the north of England in 1811; but although his hair was grey, he otherwise appeared better preserved by fifteen years than most persons of his age. His father was a minister of religion, and he was the eldest of twelve children. He was of ancient and distinguished lineage; but his father never having had more than £300 a-year, he was obliged to send his children out early into the world, and so at fourteen he was put into a house of business in a great northern town.

“For the first three years he had nothing but his board with one of the senior clerks; but at the end of that time he got as much dry bread and water for his lunch as he could take, and ten shilling a a-week to board and lodge himself. He accidentally obtained some works on vegetarianism, and was resolved to put in practice what he had read, as otherwise he found he could not support and clothe himself decently. I will give now his own words as nearly as I can recollect.

p. 76“‘I was seventeen years of age then, five feet eight inches high, and strongly built. I had but ten shillings a-week for everything. How should I best lay it out? The senior clerk took me as a lodger at eighteenpence a-week, for one good room. There was a bedstead in it, but no bedding or other furniture. I was resolved to do what best I could, and owe no man anything. Some canvas coverings, which my good mother had put round my packages, served me to make a mattress when filled with hay. For the first eight weeks I slept in my oldest clothes on this mattress. My diet was ample and nourishing, but very cheap. Threepence a-day was the cost. About one pound of beans, which did not cost more than a penny, half a pound of bread daily, and two halfpenny cabbages, and three pounds of potatoes in the week. Two-pennyworth of seed oil, [76a] one pound of twopenny rice, and about a farthing’s worth of tartar [76b] from the wine casks, constituted my very nourishing diet.

“‘When my parents sent me a basket of fruit, I indulged in it freely; but I did not care for it unless the carriage was paid, which was not always the case. Thus 1s. 9d. for my food and 1s. 6d. for my lodging, and 9½d. for my fuel and light, left me 5s. 11½d. for other purposes. At the end of the eight weeks I have specified, I was in possession of above £2. It took me nearly this sum to purchase a straw paillasse, blankets, sheets, and pillows second-hand. I persevered for another year on this diet, and found myself in possession of about £12. As I had some respectable acquaintance in the town, I resolved on spending this sum in furniture, in order that I might have a decent room into which to ask my visitors. Taking a lesson from the poet Goldsmith, I had ‘a bed by night—a chest of drawers by day,’ so that my apartment, alternately sitting-room and bedroom, was suitable for lady visitors. I often invited the lady you see sitting opposite to you, to take tea on Sunday with me and then go to church. She was my own age exactly, and was the prey of a cruel stepmother; she was, in fact, a sort of Cinderella in a large family. Her stepmother aimed at marrying p. 77her to a widower of forty-five, with seven children; but this my young girl of eighteen objected to. Her father at first sanctioned our engagement; but when a suitor in a good position came forward for his daughter, he forbade me the house, and made her walk daily with the gentleman whom we nick-named ‘number forty-five.’ I resolved to marry her as soon as I could furnish two more rooms and had laid in a good stock of clothes.