Episode I.2

A short paraphrase and guide to the episode

Prepared by Danis Rose

2010 edition FW pages 24-38
1939 edition FW pages 30-47

At one point in its genesis, Book I, the first part of Finnegans Wake, consisted of six, not eight, chapters. I.1 (the ‘overture’) and I.6 (the ‘quiz’) were afterthoughts grafted onto a pre-existing, continuous narrative.

The core topics of Book I as it then stood, in its tight six-part structure, were listed by Joyce in notebook N9 (VI.B.1).163 (dated February-April 1924) in more-or-less reverse order of their appearance:

Anna Livia : 154–169 (196–216)
Cain/Shem (when hvorledes)/Collaborator on MS : 134–153 (169–195)
Hen finds Boston Letter : 88–88.33 (110.22–111.24)
A writes petition : 80.13–82 & 83–99 (101.01–103 & 104–125)
? [Who] is H : 77–80.12 (96.26–100.36)
The Kings : 68.12–74.24 (85.20–93.21)
The Attack : 64.39–68.11 (81.12–85.19)
The coffin : 53.24–36 & 61–62.27 (66.27–67.06 & 76.10–78.14>)
Battery at Gate : 51.05–51.37 (63.20–64.21)
plebiscite : 47.13–49.29 (58.23–61.27)
train dialogue : 43.03–45.26 (53.07–56.19)
Sunday evg [evening] Bognor (cad) : 41.32–43.02 (51.21–53.06)
Hosty's ballad : 33.30–38 (42.17-47)
lodging house/boardinghouse : 31.16–33.29 (39.14 - 42.16)
races/sodality : 30.20–31.15 (38.09 - 39.13)
cad in park : 27.33–30.19 (34.30 - 38.08)
sin : 26.28–27.32 (33.14–34.29)
H riches/origin of name : 24–26.27 (30–33.13).

A second pertinent list is a rehearsal of the names of the most important characters in Book I.[56] The first column, concerning those appearing in I.2, is in strict order of their appearance:
H / Majesty / Michael (Manning?) / Elcock (Giubilei) / Aunt Sophy / 2 Slavies / 3 Fusiliers / Quidam / Cad / Cad's wife / Sodality Priest / Frisky Shorty / Treacle Tom / Teacher / Hosty / O'Donnell / Cloran / Decent Sort / J A Cockshott

The second column lists:
3 boardschool children / JFX Preserved Coppinger / Assailant on Heath / McPartland / Long Laddy Cunningham / Festus King / Roaring Peter / O'Donnell / The Dorans / Maggy / Shem C / A / Magrath Bros / Lily Kinsella / Sully / Maurice Behan.

Chapter Two comprises three parts. The first part deals with HCE's (H's) meeting on the roadside with His Majesty the King and the origin of his strange surname of Earwicker. The second reviews his fateful encounter in the Phoenix Park with the ominous and threatening cad. The third details Hosty's ballad, composed and sung in ridicule of H (HCE).

I.2§1: Origin of Name, 24–27.32 (2010); 30–34.29 (1939)

As to the origin of Humphrey, or Harold, Chimpden's colourful occupational agnomen — Earwicker — we are advised to disregard at the outset those theories from older sources that link him ancestrally with such significant families as the Glues, the Gravies, the Northeasts, the Ankers, or the Earwickers of Sidlesham in the Hundred of Manhood,[57] or to contend that he was a descendant of Vikings who had founded or settled in ‘Herrick’ or ‘Eric’ and had become Herrickers.

A more authentic and credible version of how he came by the name suggests that it was as follows (here the narrator refers us to Hofed's Dumlat, a kind of inverse, and fictitious, Talmud). One sunny, sultry Sabbath afternoon (it was long before the fall), Humphrey was peacefully ploughing up roots in the back garden of his house when it was made known to him by runner that a royal hunting party had halted on the highroad outside. Alert to his obligations, our vassal serf hurried out dressed as he was ‘in topee, surcingle, solascarf and plaid, plus fours, puttees and bulldog boots ruddled cinnabar with flagrant marl’, jingling his turnpike keys, and bearing aloft amid the hoisted bayonets of the fox-hunting party a pole with a flower pot attached to the top.[58]

His Majesty, who had stopped behind his spaniels to inquire what had caused all the pot-holes in the road, caught sight of Humphrey's rod and, long-sighted as he was, or pretended to be, from his early youth, mistaking him for an angler, inquired of the honest, blunt, hot-faced Saxon cowering before him what he better fancied for fish bait at the present time: paternoster or silver doctors? No, your Majesty, the gardener stuttered, to correct him, I was just a-catching them bluggy earwigs.

The sailor king,[59] who was draining a glass of water (Adam's ale) supplied, ceasing to swallow at this revelation, turned to two of his guns (Lord Michael and the Mayor of Drogheda or, as a later version of the same story has it, the protosyndic of Waterford and Giubilei, an Italian) to indulge in his inherited good humour and remark how his blood-brother in Pomerania would audibly fume to learn that he had for ‘surtrusty bailiwick a turnpiker who is by turns a pikebailer no seldomer than an earwigger.’

But, we may well ask, are these the factual facts behind the big man's illustrious name as recorded in both extant narratives? What can be read between the lines? We can dismiss the suggestion that it was not the king in person that was involved, but two of his sisters, Shahrazad and Dunyazad, who afterwards during the time of the rapparees came down in the world and ended up as dancing-girls in pantomime. But can we ever be quite absolutely certain and double sure of anything? Whatever the true facts of the matter are, one thing at least is sure: after that historic date all holographs that came to light initialled by Humphrey bore the sigla HCE. And, while he was ‘good Duke Humphrey’ to the tiny ragged working-folk of Chapelizod and ‘Chimbers’ to his cronies, he was more broadly known to the populace at large by his nickname: Here Comes Everybody.

And, no doubt, imperious and imposing enough he always looked and well worthy of the name as he relaxed in the vice-regal booth at the play-house on command performance nights, watching The Lily of Killarney or Balfe's The Bohemian Girl or A Royal Divorce[60] or some such topical play, with the entirety of the house, urban and rural, clapping away below him, his Borsalino only a shade less prominent than the scarlet hats of the local cardinals, a veritable father of his people, a lovable practical-joker and retired Cecilia-street comedian, a tuxedo thrown well back from his impeccably laundered shirt, he was the sharpest man in town.

At 26.28 (33.14), a different interpretation of the acronym HCE is advanced: namely, that he suffered from a vile disease. There are some statements, surely, that ought not to be made or even allowed to be made. His cold-blooded detractors, who held him capable of every enormity in the infamy of the Juke and Kallikak families,[61] even went so far as to suggest (perish the thought!) that (pshaw!) he was arrested for pestering Welsh fusiliers out in the Phoenix Park. Such a belief, the narrator is quick to emphasise, could not seriously be entertained by anybody who knew and cherished the child-like simplicity of the clean-minded giant, H.C. Earwicker, throughout his long and frugal existence. The mere idea rings preposterously false, even if archives attest to there having been at that time a case of the kind implicating a certain low type with a record as long as your arm who had been knocking about Dublin before passing on into a well-deserved anonymity — let us call him X — but X dropped dead one day while waiting for cabbage and a chop in a shop somewhere close to Hawkin's street. Slander is slander and lies are lies, and all that HCE was ever convicted of was an impropriety advanced by some forest-rangers, self-admittedly under the influence at the time, that he had acted in an immodest manner in the presence of two young maids out by the Rushy Hollow in the Park where the call of nature had sent them both, expeditiously. Even so, if not actually spurious, the subsequent testimonies of the two girls proved to be divergent on minor points touching this incautious, but at widest partial exposure with, moreover, some unseasonably warm weather to provoke it.[62]

I.2§2: The Cad, 27.33–35.17 (2010); 34.30–44.21 (1939)

He was surely guiltless; for didn't he say as much himself at least once, while he still had a trace of his former accent. But it was long after that that he met a cad with a pipe.[63]

One April day, the Ides, as it happened the anniversary of his birth, a damp day ages and ages after the ‘alleged misdemeanour’, Earwicker was making his way across the open spaces of the public park in his ‘caoutchouc kepi and great belt and hideinsacks and his blaufunx fustian and ironsides jackboots and Bhagafat gaiters and his rubberised inverness’, insouciantly strolling across the grass and swinging a walking-stick to and fro, when he bumped into a cad. This cad, sporting a straw hat and carrying an overcoat tossed over his shoulder, accosted Earwicker with the salute, How do you do today, my good man,[64] and asked him could he tell him the right time as his own watch was running slow.

Aghast, appalled, and at that critical psychological moment realising the supreme importance of the continuation of one's personal existence, Earwicker, terrorised as he was at the thought of being prematurely catapulted there and then into eternity by a soft-nosed slug from the sap (there being at the time no help in the immediate vicinity), halted and replied that he was feeling tip-top — never better, in fact — and quickly produced from his ‘gunpocket’ a ‘Jurgensen's shrapnel waterbury.’[65] Even so, in the very gesture of reading his watch, he heard above the shrieking of the harsh East wind old Fox Goodman the bell-master toll the ten-ton church-bell over towards the south and he promptly informed the cad that it was twelve o'clock sharp.[66] Bending forward to add weight to his utterance, he emphasised in stale, cloying breath redolent of sardine that, whereas certain accusations had indeed been made against him, they had been made, as was well known in high society and stated in the Morning Post, by an ichthyoid in human form several degrees lower than a snake.

If we can believe a word of Webster's Sayings Attributive of H.C. Earwicker (price one shilling), the blond brute went on to tap his watch and, drawing himself erect into full standing above the ambijacent puddles, a leather gauntlet rammed in a wordless ancient gesture into the hough of an elbow, he pointed stiffly at an angle of thirty-two degrees towards the adjacent overgrown milestone.[67] After a short pause pregnant with emotion, he solemnly averred:

— Credit me, sir! Shake, comrade! One finger first, then five. I have played and won honestly: hence my nation-wide business. Believe me, I am prepared to take my stand before yonder monument, sir, the sign of our redemption, any day at this hour, and to swear on my oath, even if I am to get life for doing so, before God's eye (here he reverently lifted his hat) and in the presence of the Deity and all of his bishops and my immediate neighbours and before every other living soul in each corner of the globe where English is spoken, that there is not one iota of truth in that purest of fabrications![68]

At this outburst, the tramp, Gaping Gill, who was not slow to realise that he was up against a markedly lunatic sort, wasted no time but lifted his straw hat and bade the stutterer good day and good night to boot, indicated that he was greatly obliged, tactfully thanked his chance companion for the money received[69] and for the right time (not a little surprised at the same time that that was all the time it was), and sensibly went off about his business, whatever it was, saluting corpses or what not, accompanied by a trusty dog at his heels and leaving in his wake a revealing trail of molecules of scalp and dandruff droppings.

The subsequent rumours and talk about our hero originate in the cad's report of the rencontre. But before reaching the notice of their eventual principal publisher, the balladeer Hosty, they followed an exact line of communication. It happened like this: at twilight that same evening as he sat at supper, pensive with thought, the cad repeated verbatim (and in Irish) to his wife as many of the words as he could call to mind of the big man's statement, spitting reflectively as he did so into an empty grate, feeling full as he did after a plate of peas boiled in goat's milk and malt vinegar (a dish he ate with relish) with, on this occasion, bouillon and Spanish olives topped up with a bottle of Phoenix Brewery stout and a jar of plain porter (of both of which bottles he sniffed the obdurate cork). The cad's wife, a plain woman without pretension (no peaches and apricots for that one), listened carefully and dutifully cleaned up as usual after her husband. Having, of course, a nose for a good gossip, his words stuck in her mind. The next night but one, over several cups of tea she spoke of the matter, among one hundred and eleven other things, with her usual courtesy, to the Reverend Director (a Mr Browne) after a sodality meeting, trusting that the gospel so delivered in his Jesuit's ear would go no further than his cloth. It was this parson, in a second personality (a Mr Nolan) that was overheard by accident — if accident it was — whispering a slightly distorted version of the woman's words into the ear of a lay teacher of natural science in his middle forties, Philip Thornton, during a priestly flutter at the Baldoyle racetrack.

Two Dublin down-and-outs, Frisky Shorty and his brother Treacle Tom, late of gaol following the theft of a leg of pork, both of them awful poor and bumming around in quest of some ‘oof’, a ‘jimmy o'goblin’ or a small ‘thick 'un’[70] — cash of any description — happened to be at the race-course and chanced to overhear the parson chap in the motor-togs speak about the Earwicker incident while he was rubbing noses and having a gargle with a butty bloke in blue spectacles.

That same night, Treacle Tom, who had been absent from his usual haunts for some time previous (he was in the habit of frequenting fourth-class lodging-houses where he slept nude in strange beds), after imbibing countless tots of rum, red wine, meths and gin supplied by a score or more of the town's better watering-holes, sought sanctuary and sleep in a rooming-house in Pump Court. Later that same evening, Treacle repeated more than once during an uneasy slumber the main substance of the cad's tale in the hearing of a nearby trio of tramps who dossed together and slept in the same bed on a regular basis: Peter Cloran, a discharged and penniless ex-draper; O'Mara, a self-described secretary of no fixed abode who had passed several nights immediately previously curled up on the inhospitable cold stone of the portico of the Bank of Ireland; and, thirdly and lastly, Hosty, an ill-omened street busker or balladeer. Hosty, having nothing to eat and no cash to buy anything with, was on the verge of suicide and generally melancholic about everything. He was tossing and turning on his bunk at the time trying to figure out how the heck to get hold of a pistol so as to go and blow his brains out somewhere quiet off the main tram-route, he having spent over a year attempting to get himself admitted into hospital without having been able to wangle it any way.

The following morning, after a sound night's sleep and a hearty ham breakfast, Hosty was a new man. Servants had not long been furbishing pot-lids and door-brasses before the three vagrants were up and afoot across Dublin's chilly city, shuffling along to the accompaniment of the melodies of the busker's crude fiddle, a tune that tickled the ears of the king's loyal subjects. These, hardly heeding the regular morning calls of the town criers, had their mouths open in appreciation of this long-awaited Messiah and were only half awake at best. Later on in the same day, after a pause at a pawnbroker's where the songster redeemed his remarkable false teeth, all three men vanished into a licensed premises in Essex Street, the Old Sot's Hole, where they were joined by a fourth: a casual and a decent sort that was just after picking up the weekly insult. All had stimulants (J.J. & S.) stood by the decent sort. After luncheon and a few quick ones just to celebrate yesterday, the rascals finally traipsed out flushed with their freshly-formed, whiskey-fostered friendship, laughing and wiping their lips on their sleeves, Hosty (‘Browne’) first and O'Mara (‘the small ex-ex-executive’) trailing along cap in hand in the rear like a sad postscript,[71] and from this strange combination of events the world was soon to be the richer with a brand-new ballad: the lay of the vilest bugger but most attractive avatar the planet has ever had to account for.

The ballad itself was first sung in the shadow cast by the monument of our dead legislator, Daniel O'Connell, to a huge crowd of Irish people representative of all sections and subsections of the metropolitan community ‘ranging from slips of young dublinos from Cutpurse Row having nothing better to do than walk about with their hands in their kneepants down to a few good old souls, who as they were juiced after taking their pledge over at the uncle's place, were evidently under the spell of liquor’, not to mention those who had come for the occasion from the sister isle.

Mr Delaney, the decent sort referred to earlier, obliged the crowd by piping a quiet mountain air, during which, to the peaceful strains of his majestic flute, that king of instruments, ‘the Doctor’ Hitchcock lifted aloft his hat, exposing in the process a silver coil among the curls of his wild and moulting hair, and gestured to his companions for silence and to the ‘Loud Fellow’ (Hosty) to step up; and, sure enough, the canto was chanted in chorus and christened by the old toll-gate at Saint Andrew's street and church.

Not long after that, the ballad itself was privately printed at the House of Delville in Glasnevin on a broad sheet of white paper headed by a rough-and-ready woodcut. Soon enough, wind-blown copies were circulating freely up and down every lane and boreen the length and breadth of the four or five green corners of the united counties of Ireland.

I.2§3: Hosty's Ballad, 11.17–12.07 (2010); 44.22–47 (1939)

Hosty's ballad or rann is introduced with a thunderous clapping from the assembled multitude drowning out the sound of the down-pouring rain:

The words and music of the ballad follow, fourteen stanzas in all, with chorus and general egging-on from the songster's appreciative audience:

Hurrah there, Hosty! Frosty Hosty! Change that shirt on ye! Terra, rhyme the rann! The King of all ranns!

In his song, The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly (from the French perce-oreille, earwig), Hosty reveals quite a bit about Earwicker. Old Humphrey was once the king of the castle; but he fell like Humpty Dumpty — hump, helmet and all, off the top of the Magazine Wall. Now he's treated like a rotten old parsnip and he'll be sent from Green-street court-house straight to the gaol of Mountjoy. For he was father of all schemes set to bother us: slow coaches, immaculate contraceptives, milk for the sick, open-air love and religious reform (hideous in form!). But we've changed all that. We had chocolates, chops, chairs, chewing gum, chicken-pox and china-ware provided by this soft-soaping salesman from his bucket-shop store. He is sitting snug in his licensed premises but we'll burn all his trash and his trumpery and the sheriff will soon wind up his unlimited company and the bailiff'll pound at his door. Bad cess to the day Dublin Bay first saw his black and tan man-o'-war at the harbour bar! It was during a garden party or, some say, while up in the zoo, that the heavyweight made bold a maid to woo. She met her Waterloo. (He's the crux of our zoo!) He was out by the Wellington monument, the notorious hippopotamus, when the bugger let down the straps of his trousers and gave the wind free access to his rear. It's a sore pity about his poor children but he'd better look out for his missus. When that shrew gets a grip of old Earwicker, there'll be wigs on the green. And we'll have a band and mass meeting and bury the brave son of Scandinavia down in Oxmanstown, along with the rest of the Danes and other remains. And not all the king's men or all his horses will ever resurrect his corpse: for there's no true spell in Connacht or hell that's able to raise a Cain![73]