[From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 11, September 8, 1832]
Individual exertion is often far more beneficial in contributing to the welfare of a country than either national expense or legislative bounty. If inquiry be made into the causes of England's prosperity, it will be found that single-handed and individual activity has had a prodigious share in promoting it; and the ingenuity of a Watt and an Arkwright has discovered new sources of wealth, and cut a channel for that current of enterprise which, swelling into a mighty torrent, has enabled Britain to rise far above the nations of the earth. Really, when we hear people complain of the want of national support, we are apt to think that the fable of the Waggoner might be quoted not inappropriately, and "put your shoulder to the wheel," might be whispered in many a murmurer's ear. Now, as we are in a prodigious egotistical mood, we will exemplify this by an example. Our little Journal is unblessed by committee patronage, and unheralded by great names; it has nothing but its own penny trumpet to sound its praises ; yet, like Poucit with his seven-leagued boots, it has measured the length and breadth of the land. It is in the hands of the shepherd on the rocks of Magilligan; it is perused by the Kerry man, as he drives home his "tiny cattle," along the sea where frowns Mac Gillicuddy's Reeks; Cork and Belfast, Londonderry and Limerick, Waterford and Wicklow, Westport and Wexford, and every town and village in Ireland, are receiving the Dublin Penny Journal; and Edinburgh, the "modern Athens," the region of Reviews and Magazines, the seat of the Muses, and the very homestead of fancy and philosophy, in whose nostrils a Dublin production was naught, and who would fain write it down that Dublin is "without the pale" of literary enterprise, the very Irish Boetia, is absolutely astonished by the "face of brass" which we have presented! But enough of this for the present.
There is an individual in Ireland, who, though a foreigner, has "done the state some service," and exemplifies in his person what an individual by persevering exertion may do. This gentleman is Mr. charles bianconi, a native of Italy. He came into this country as a print-seller, and in travelling from village to village, and from town to town, exercising his vocation, he felt, as many a man has felt before him, and may after, how toilsome it is to trudge on foot under a burning sun, or amid the storms of winter; so he shrewdly bethought him, that if he had a jaunting-car, and, of course, an animal to draw it, he might not only save his own body corporate some fatigue, and carry his wares with speed and ease, but by occasionally picking up pedestrians at a small charge, contribute not a little to defray the expenses of his vehicle. For three months his speculation did not display itself as a peculiarly happy one; but by-and-bye he became known, his car became in request, he started a second one, then a third, and so on, until he has covered all the roads in the south of Ireland with his cars, which radiating from CLONMEL as a centre, connect the following towns:-
Ballinasloe, Eyrecourt, Parsonstown,
Ballyhale, Fermoy, Rathcormuck,
Banagher, Fethard, Roscrea,
Burrosoleigh, Freshford, Ross,
Burrosakane, Foulk's-mill, Shinrone,
Caher, Kilkenny, Strangford,
Cashel, Knocktopher, Stonepound,
Carlow, Kilmacthomas, Taghmon,
Carrick, Kildorrery, Thurles,
Clogheen, Limerick, Tipperary,
Cork, Littleton, Templemore,
Dungarvan, Mallow, Urlingford,
Doneraile, Mitchelstown, Watergrass-hill,
Enniscorthy, Nenagh, Wexford.
In travelling to these towns Mr. Bianconi has upwards of three hundred horses, gives employment to upwards of one hundred and twenty families, causes a consumption of above nine hundred tons of hay, and twelve hundred barrels of oats, annually, and his cars travel above eighteen hundred miles daily. He is now principal contractor in the South of Ireland for conveying His Majestys mails on cross roads by cars.
Before Mr. Bianconi established his cars, the travelling vehicles in use were only four-horse coaches, confined to what are termed the mail-coach roads, and the fares were too high for the humbler class of farmers and tradesmen, whose business often calls them from home. Now this enterprising and spirited foreigner has laid open the entire south, and done more good than a host of half resident landlords. A few years ago, to travel in the south of Ireland was an adventure not to be rashly made: now there is free, and easy, and rapid intercourse, and the numerous cross roads are all rendered available, and turned to good account.
Not long ago, in entering Mr. Bianconi's office at Clonmel, in order to procure a seat in one of his cars for Cashel, we were surprised to see the walls covered, not with glaring advertisements, notices of auctions and sheriffs' sales, but with some of the very best prints taken from the works of the great masters. "Why," we muttered to ourselves, "this carman must be a man of taste!" By-and-bye a very comely dark-eyed person came in, and seemed to take an active interest in the affairs of the establishment. This was Mr. Bianconi, and having occasion to address him, we found him polite and affable, and could have wagered a guinea to a groat, that he was born to be a gentleman.
Many stories are told of Mr. Bianconi, which reflect great credit on his head and his heart. For instance, it is said that his drivers have a general order to pick up, free of charge, all pedestrians who evidently cannot pay for a whirl, and who seem to be travelling with pain to themselves. In giving this order, he has shown the gallantry of his country, by specially directing that any female travelling with a child in her arms, should be accommodated with a seat. Moreover, the slightest hint of misconduct on the part of a driver-the least whisper of an accusation, if well-founded, subjects the delinquent to instant dismissal; and so aware are they of this, that the drivers of Bianconi's cars are as civil a set of fellows as you would wish to see handle a whip.
Again, all his horses have names, and these names are regularly inserted in his way bills. In fact, his "dumb brutes" are his pet children; he knows each of them familiarly, and it would not, perhaps, be going too far, to say, that they know him ! He can tell where they are, whether they are well or sick, how they are behaving themselves, and every thing relative to these "dear children" which the father of so numerous and so well-regulated a family ought to know.
Bravo, Mr. Bianconi, thou art an enterprising, sensible, discreet, and proper person; and if Ireland had many more such foreigners as thou art, she would bless the day they landed on her shores. He has lately obtained letters of naturalization from the government- "cead mille failte."