A HAPPY PARSON’S BOOK WITH HAND-COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS
AN OXONIAN [S. Reynolds Hole]. A Little Tour in Ireland. Being a Visit to Dublin, Galway, Connemara, Athlone, Limerick, Killarney, Glengarriff, Cork, etc. With coloured frontispiece and hand-coloured illustrations by John Leech. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1859. Small quarto. pp. viii, 220. Bound in the style of Birdsall of Northampton and London in full dark green calf. Covers decorated with double gilt fillets. Spine divided into six panels by five gilt raised bands, title and illustrator in gilt in the second and third, the remainder blocked in gilt with a floral device in centre; corners of board edges hatched in gilt; turn-ins gilt; red and gold endbands; splash-marbled endpapers. With an exquisite bookplate depicting a Tudor-style library with a view of a church and rectory from an open door, with the legend: ‘This is the book of Charles Lewis Slattery a happy Parson’. All edges gilt. A superb copy in pristine condition. 1250 L1 10B “Woods 147.
Samuel Reynolds Hole (1819-1904) Anglican priest, author and horticulturalist was born at Ardwick, near Manchester (where his father was then in business), was only son of Samuel Hole, of Caunton Manor, Nottinghamshire, by his wife Mary, daughter of Charles Cooke of Macclesfield. After attending Mrs. Gilbey’s preparatory school at Newark, he went to Newark grammar school. Of literary tastes, he edited at sixteen a periodical called ‘The Newark Bee.’
Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, he was ordained in 1844 and spent 43 years at his father’s parish of St. Andrew’s Church, Caunton, firstly as curate and from 1850 as its vicar. A prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral and an honorary chaplain to Edward Benson, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, he became Dean of Rochester in 1887. Noted for his expertise with roses and an inaugural recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victoria Medal of Honour.
In 1858 Hole came to know John Leech, and a close friendship followed. In the summer of 1858 the two, who often hunted together, made a tour in Ireland, of which one fruit was Leech’s illustrated volume, ‘A Little Tour in Ireland’ (1859), with well-informed and witty letterpress by ‘Oxonian’ (i.e. Hole). A reprint of 1892 gives Hole’s name as author. Of Limerick Hole recollected: “”Limerick is divided into three parts, the Irish town, the English town, and Newtown Perry (so called after a Mr. Sexton Perry, who commenced it); and these are connected by bridges, of which the old Thomond, hard by King John’s Castle, and new Wellesley, said to have cost 85,000l, are interesting.
The eccentricities of the workmen must have added materially to the costliness of the latter structure, inasmuch as they seem to have been Odd Fellows as well as very Free Masons, who, instead of cementing stones and friendships, only turned the former into stumbling blocks for the latter, by throwing them at each other’s heads. Every day an animated faction-fight, between the boys of Clare and the boys of Limerick, was got up (instead of the bridge), until at length it was necessary to bring out an armed force, to keep order on this Pons Asinorum. The main street of Newtown Perry, in which is Cruise’s Hotel, is a long and handsome one; and what’s more, you may buy some good cigars in it, a rare refreshment in Ireland.””
In Galway they met a waiter who gave them a first-hand account of the famine: “”Ah, but we felt almost ashamed of being so full and comfortable, when our conversational attendant began to talk to us about the Great Famine. ‘That’s right, good gentleman,’ he said, ‘niver forget, when ye’ve had your males, to thank the Lord as sends them. May ye niver know what it is to crave for food, and may ye niver see what I have seen, here in the town o’ Galway. I mind the time when I lived yonder’ (and he pointed to Kilroy’s Hotel), ‘and the poor craturs come crawling in from the country with their faces swollen, and grane, and yaller, along of the arbs they’d been atin.’ We gave them bits and scraps, good gintlemen, and did what we could (the Lord be praised!), but they was mostly gone too far out o’ life to want more than the priest and pity. I’ve gone out of a morning, gintlemen,’ (his lip quivered as he spoke), ‘and seen them lying dead in the square, with the green grass in their mouths.’ to hide the tears which did him so much honour.””” ANOXONIAN S. Reynolds Hole.