In the presence of the gentry, Old Kenny the peasant, doffed his cap, crooked his knee, arranged his face in an expression of obsequious servility and said: ‘Savin’ yer presence, yer honours, but sure ’tis all our own fault, for we’re a feckless nation an’ not used at all at all to the ways of such as yer honours and when we got the few shillings, sure we went to the divil altogether, for such drinkin’ an’ spendin’ an buyin’ an’ sellin’ as you’d niver see in a dacent place like yer honours do have. What’ll we do at all? Aren’t we the terrible crowd altogether! Have pity on us, yer honours, for we’re only savages, we’re heathens for the drink an’ buyin’ up land an’ houses. Our only salvation is if yer honours could see yer way to punishin’ us for to make dacent people of us agin. Ochón is mo bhrón, but we’re the divil’s own people.’
The gentry looked on in distaste at this example of unregenerate sycophancy and hypocrisy and afterwards agreed that a nation so fatuous and servile deserved to be led by Old Kenny and his like. One gentleman repeated the old truism that ‘a people gets the government it deserves, not the government it wants’. In this case, observed another, they got both. Yet a third, this time a lady, was heard to ask the question: But didn’t somebody tell me that old Kenny was fond of saying things like ‘We are a proud people’…?
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