William Field, the bard with the tumbling hair at Queen Dido’s banquet
U 12.829-30: Hairy Iopas, says the citizen, that exploded volcano, the darling of all countries and the idol of his own.
In Surface and Symbol (p. 142) the always sober Robert Martin Adams tells his readers:
In the conclusion of his book Adams adds (p. 245):
Adams is clearly underestimating Joyce's subtle efforts to document Dublin contemporary life, as the drawing of William Field, M.P. (1843–1935), below - from Punch (1892, 27 August, p. 96), illustrates.
But Joyce may very well have been aware of other relevant traits that Virgil's bard and William Field had in common. A valuable little booklet, William Field, M.P. by J.F Reid, editor of the Meat Trades' Journal, published apparently in 1918, informs us that Field frequently sang in Blackrock Townhall to aid charitable causes, and that he had a bard's harp in his coat of arms. He was indeed very popular in his own country: Field was elected to Parliament in 1892 with an impressive majority of 2,706 votes in spite of the fact that it was predicted that "not a single Parnellite would be returned". "The darling of all countries" may refer to the fact that he received invitations (which he had to decline) to the USA and Uruguay and paid visits to Hungary, Germany, France, Belgium and Holland.
Why the citizen calls him an exploded volcano is not entirely clear. Perhaps John Stanislaus Joyce, a fellow-Parnellite and erstwhile citizen of Blackrock himself, provided a forgotten anecdote that his son alluded to. But "extinct volcano" was a common political taunt of the time. When Colonel King-Harmon was called an "extinct volcano" in 1883, someone shouted out ‘Poor crater!’ (Freeman’s Journal, 24 February) - with its pun on 'Poor creature!'
I am grateful to Vincent Deane for inspecting Reid's booklet in the NLI for me.
Joyce's Allusions >