Ditto McAnaspey and the same for me, please
U 12.144-7: - Wine of the country, says he.
- What’s yours? Says Joe.
- Ditto MacAnaspey, says I.
-Three pints, Terry, says Joe. And how’s the old heart, citizen? Says he.
Letters: 18 July 1931: With best Xmas wishes to Mr and Mrs Joyce from Mr and Mrs Ditto MacAnaspey.1
The expression “Ditto MacAnaspey” does not seem to be recorded widely outside Joyce’s circle and so it would seem to be a local or a family expression. It occurs twice in Joyce’s writings: once in Ulysses, where it is used by the I-narrator when asked what he wants to drink (= “I’ll have the same as him”, which was “wine of the country” – i.e. beer); and secondly in the subscription by Joyce to a letter to his brother Stanislaus (i.e. from one Joyce to another). Richard Ellmann glosses it “a catch phrase of Joyce’s father, meaning simply ‘ditto’”.
Both explanations are quite possible, and there seems to be a thread linking them in the form of the MacAnaspeys/McAnaspies, the “Dublin tombstone makers” or “stucco plasterers”.
The McAnaspies: stucco plasterers, and dabblers “a little too much” in politics, in public questions, and in the law
They also offered life masks and death masks, and were generally not shy about advertising their business. The brothers were extremely keen on promoting Irish manufactures and sourcing their materials from Ireland. They were fiercely protective of their business, maintaining a public argument with the Stucco Plasterers of Dublin in the newspapers in 1840.4 In the 1840s they also built up the asphalt side of the business, as the Paving Commissioners of Dublin set about relaying footpaths etc.
In 1846 the brothers were declared bankrupt, but they soon bounced back with renewed vigour. Patrick went over to Liverpool to set up a second office in what seemed an easier financial climate, and looked into the patenting process; Thomas maintained the Dublin business in his own inimitable way. By the 1850s the family was referring to themselves in advertisements as “The M‘Anaspies”, and were particularly publicizing their ability with Portland stone. Thomas had for several years now been promoting Schools of Design for Irish Art, and he alluded to this frequently in the newspapers. In addition, he was becoming more and more heavily involved in local politics. Known as a free and powerful speaker, he attacked in particular the City Attachment law, supported the Irish Manufacture Movement, sent Irish products (“specimens of cement”5) to the Great Exhibition in London, and exerted himself both on behalf of his own business and Irish interests generally.
The M'Anaspies' Political Creed or Admonition to all Mankind, will appear on the walls of this and all other cities, mountains, hamlet, &c., and in all places wherever mankind have [sic] printed his foot thereupon …
The remaining years of Thomas M‘Anaspie’s life were taken up with the same concerns: plasterwork, publications, summons and law suits, and finally the mortgage sale of his properties in Great Brunswick Street, in late 1877. He died on 2 November 1877, described by the Irish Builder as a “Dublin Character”, “our old citizen of fifty years’ standing”, a man who “dabbled a little too much in politics and public questions for his peace of mind”, and “was rather fond of law and rushing into print, and could not escape betimes burning his fingers”.18 He was buried in Glasnevin cemetery.
Thomas M‘Anaspie’s wife Mary had problems after his death. She remained in the Great Brunswick Street property, even though it had been sold. Finally she was removed by bill of ejectment, and the family maintained its radical stance into the next generation.
None of this is evidence, however, that Thomas M‘Anaspie was the person behind the expression “Ditto Macanaspey”. But it is suggestive.
Gifford regards Macanaspey as a tombstone maker who might make a “lengthy speech in a public meeting”. Thomas M‘Anaspie might certainly be described in those terms, as we have seen. Whether someone who followed him with another speech simply said “Ditto M‘Anaspie” is not known. But a precedent exists.
The story went the rounds throughout the nineteenth century – and is still retold today - of Henry Cruger, an American merchant who was one of the MPs for Bristol in the late eighteenth century. He was elected in 1774, just ahead of Edmund Burke in the Bristol polls. Both men were elected.
Whether the expression “Ditto MacAnaspey” arose from confusion at an auction sale, or in the cut and thrust of political debate, or in some other way, it appears that Thomas M‘Anaspie had all the credentials to be the local legend on whom the expression was based.
- Quite so, Mr Bloom dittoed. (U 16.884)
1 James Joyce, Letters, ed. Richard Ellmann (London: Faber, 1966), vol. 3, p. 222
2 Chairman, James Joyce Institute, Dublin, and Vice-President of the Old Dublin Society (personal communication)
3 Freeman’s Journal (1839) 21 March. Scagliola: “plaster-work of Italian origin, designed to imitate kinds of stone” (OED)
4 See, for instance, Freeman’s Journal (1840) 23 September
5 Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (London, 1851), p. 16
6 Punch (1861) 13 April
7 Freeman’s Journal (1860) 31 August
8 Freeman’s Journal (1865) 19 April
9 Freeman’s Journal (1866) 18 April
10 Cheshire Observer (1866) 10 November, p. 32
11 Freeman’s Journal (1870) 3 September
12 Freeman’s Journal (1872) 7 September
13 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 13 January
14 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 9 January
15 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 5 February
16 Freeman’s Journal (1874) 7 February
17 C. P. Curran, Under the Receding Wave (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1970), p. 60
18 Cited in Freeman’s Journal (1877) 20 November
19 1878 [C.2062] Report to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, K.G., Lord Lieutenant-General and General Governor of Ireland, of Commissioners of Inquiry into the collection of rates in the city of Dublin, with minutes of evidence, p. 67
20 Lawton, ch. 5, p. 48
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