William Carleton, The Hedge
School (1830 Edn.)
Note: The story consists of three parts, the first an introduction, the second appearing under the title
Part II: The Abduction of Mat Kavanagh, and the third - unnumbered - as The Return, being properly the continuation of the events in Part II.
THERE NEVER was a more unfounded calumny, than that which would impute to the Irish peasantry an indifference to education. I may, on the contrary, fearlessly assert, that the lower orders of no country ever manifested such a positive inclination for literary acquirements, and that, too, under circumstances strongly calculated to produce carelessness and apathy on this particular subject. Nay, I do maintain, that he who is intimately acquainted with the character of our countrymen, must acknowledge, that their zeal for book learning, not only is strong and ardent, when opportunities of scholastic education occur, but that it increases in proportion as these opportunities are rare and unattainable. The very name and nature of Hedge Schools are proof of this: for what stronger point could be made out, in illustration of my position, than the fact, that, despite of obstacles, whose very idea would crush ordinary enterprize - when not even a shed could be obtained in which to assemble the children of an Irish village, the worthy pedagogue selected the first green spot on the sunny side of a quickset-thorn hedge, which he conceived adapted for his purpose, and there, under the scorching rays of a summer sun, and in defiance of spies and statutes, carried on the work of instruction. From this circumstance the name of Hedge School originated, and, however it may be associated with the ludicrous, I maintain, that it is highly honourable to the character of the people, and an encouragement to those who wish to see them receive pure and correct educational knowledge. A Hedge School, however, in its original sense, was but a temporary establishment, being only adopted until such a school-house could be erected, as was in those days deemed sufficient to hold as many children as were expected, at all hazards, to attend it.
The opinion, I know, which has been long entertained of Hedge Schoolmasters, was, and still is, unfavourable; but the character of these worthy and eccentric persons has been misunderstood, for the stigma attached to their want of knowledge should have rather been applied to their want of morals, because, on this latter point only were they indefensible. The fact is, that Hedge Schoolrnasters were a class of men, from whom morality was not expected by the peasantry; for, strange to say, one of their strongest recommendations to the good opinion of the people, as far as their literary talents and qualifications were concerned, was an inordinate love of whiskey, and if to this could be added a slight touch of derangement, the character was complete.
On once asking an Irish peasant, why he sent his children to a schoolmaster who was notoriously addicted to spiritous liquors, rather than to a man of sober habits who taught in the same neighbourhood, Why do I sind them to Mat Meegan, is it? he replied - and do you think, Sir, said he, that Id sind them to that dry-headed dunce, Mr. Frazher, wid his black coat upon him and his caroline hat, and him wouldnt taste a glass of poteen wanst in seven years. Mat, Sir, likes it, and teaches the boys ten times betther whin hes dhrunk nor whin hes sober; and youll never find a good tacher, Sir, buts fond of it. As for Mat, when hes half gone, Id turn him agin the county for deepness in larnin; for its thin he rhimes it out of him, that it would do one good to hear him.
So, said I, you think that a love of drinking poteen is a sign of talent in a schoolmaster.
Ay, or in any man else, Sir, he replied. Look at tradesmen, and tis always the cleverest that youll find fond iv the dhrink! If you had hard Mat and Frazher, the other evening, at it - what a hare Mat mad iv im; but he was jist in proper tune for it, being, at the time, purty well I thank you, and did not lave him a leg to stand upon. He took him in Euclids Ailments and Logicals, and proved, in Frazhers teeth, that the candlestick before them was the church-steeple, and Frazher himself the parson; and so sign was on it, the other couldnt disprove it, but had to give in.
Mat, then, I observed, is the most learned man on this walk.
Why, thin, I doubt that same, Sir, replied he, for all hes so great in the books; for, you see, while they were ding dust at it, who comes in but mad Delany, and he attacked Mat, and, in less than no time, rubbed the consate out of him, as clane as he did out of Frazher.
Who is Delany? I enquired.
He was the makins of a priest, Sir, and was in Maynooth a couple of years, but he took in the knowledge so fast, that, bedad, he got cracked wid larnin - for a dunce, you see, never cracks wid it; no doubt but hes too many for Mat, and can go far beyant him in the books, but then, like that, hes still brightest whin he has a sup in his head.
These are prejudices which the Irish peasantry have long entertained concerning the character of hedge schoolmasters; but, granting them to be unfounded, as they generally are, yet it is an indisputable fact, that hedge schoolmasters were as superior in literary knowledge and acquirements to the class of men who are now engaged in the general education of the people, as they were beneath them in moral and religious character. The former part of this assertion will, I am aware, appear rather startling to many: but it is true; and one great cause why the character of the Society Teachers is undervalued, in many instances, by the people, proceeds from a conviction on their parts, that they are, and must be, incapable, from the slender portion of learning they have received, of giving their children a sound and practical education.
But that we may put this subject in a clearer light, we will give a sketch of the course of instruction which was deemed necessary for a hedge schoolmaster, and, let it be contrasted with that which falls to the lot of those engaged in the conducting of schools patronized by the Education Societies of the present day. When a poor man, about twenty or thirty years ago, understood from the schoolmaster who educated his sons, that any of them was particularly cute at his larnin, the ambition of the parent usually directed itself to one of three objects - he would either make him a priest, a clerk, or a schoolmaster. The determination once fixed, the boy was set apart from every kind of labour, that he might be at liberty to bestow his undivided time and talents to the object set before him. His parents strained every nerve to furnish him with the necessary books, and always took care that his appearance and dress should be more decent than those of any other member of the family. If the Church was in prospect, he was distinguished, after he had been two or three years at his Latin, by the appellation of the young priest, an epithet to him of the greatest pride and honour; but if destined only to wield the ferula, his importance in the family, and the narrow circle of his friends, was by no means so great. But if the goal of his ambition was shorter, that of his literary career was considerably extended. He usually remained at the next school in the vicinity until he supposed that he had completely drained the master of all his knowledge. This circumstance was generally discovered in the following manner: - As soon as he judged himself a match for his teacher, and possessed sufficient confidence in his own powers, he penned him a formal challenge to meet him in literary contest, either in his own school, before competent witnesses, or at the chapel green, on the Sabbath day, before the arrival of the priest, or probably after it, for the priest himself was generally the moderator and judge upon these occasions. This challenge was usually couched in rhyme, and either sent by the hands of a common friend, or posted upon the chapel door.
These contests, as the reader perceives, were always public, and were witnessed by the peasantry with intense interest. If the master sustained a defeat, it was not so much attributed to his want of learning, as to the overwhelming talent of his opponent; nor was the success of the pupil generally followed by the expulsion of the master; for this was but the first of a series of challenges which the former proposed to undertake, ere he eventually settled himself in the exercise of his profession. I remember being present at one of them, and a ludicrous exhibition it was. The parish priest, a red faced, jocular little man, was president; and his curate, a scholar of six feet two inches in height, and a schoolmaster from the next parish, were judges. I will only touch upon two circumstances in their conduct, which evinced a close instinctive knowledge of human nature in the combatants. The master would not condescend to argue off his throne - a piece of policy to which, in my opinion, he owed his victory (for he won); whereas the pupil insisted that he should meet him on equal ground, face to face, in the lower end of the room. It was evident that the latter could not divest himself of his boyish terrors as long as the other sat, as it were, in the plenitude of his former authority, contracting his brows with habitual sternness, thundering out his arguments, with a most menacing and Stentorian voice; while he thumped his desk with his shut fist, or struck it with his great rule at the close of each argument, in a manner that made the youngster put his hands behind him several times, to be certain that that portion of his dress, which is unmentionable to ears polite, was tight upon him.
If in these encounters the young candidate for the honours of the literary sceptre was not victorious, he again resumed his studies, under his old preceptor, with renewed vigour and becoming humility; but if he put the schoolmaster down, his next object was to seek out some other teacher, whose celebrity was unclouded within his own range. With him he had a fresh encounter, and its result was similar to what I have already related. If victorious, he sought out another and more learned opponent; and if defeated, he became the pupil of his conqueror - going night about, during his sojourn at the school, with the neighbouring farmers sons, whom he assisted in their studies, as a compensation for his support. He was called, during these peregrinations, the Poor Scholar, a character which secured him the esteem and hospitable attention of the peasantry, who never fail in respect to any one characterised by a zeal for learning and knowledge.
In this manner he proceeded, a literary knight-errant, filled with a chivalrous love of letters, which would have done honour to the most learned peripatetic of them all; enlarging his own powers, and making fresh acquisitions of knowledge as he went along. His contests, his defeats, and his triumphs, of course, were frequent; and his habits of thinking and reasoning must have been considerably improved, his acquaintance with classical and mathematical authors rendered more intimate, and his powers of illustration and comparison more clear and happy. After three or four years spent in this manner, he usually returned to his native place, sent another challenge to the schoolmaster, in the capacity of a candidate for his situation, and, if successful, drove him out of the district, and established himself in his situation. The vanquished master sought a new district, sent a new challenge, in his turn, to some other teacher, and usually put him to flight in the same manner. The terms of defeat or victory, according to their application, were called sacking and bogging.
There was a great argument entirely, Sir, said a peasant once, when speaking of these contests, twas at the chapel on Sunday week, betune young Tom Brady, that was a poor scholar in Munsther, and Mr. Hartigan, the school-masther.
And who was victorious? I enquired.
Why, Sir, and may be twas young Brady that didnt sack him clane, before the priest an all; and went nigh to bog the priest himself in Greek. His Reverence was only two words beyant him; but he sacked the masther, any how, an showed him in the grammatical and the dixonary where he was wrong.
And what is Bradys object in life? I asked. What does he intend to do?
Intend to do, is it? Im tould nothin less nor goin into Thrinity College in Dublin, an expects to bate them all there, out an out: hes first to make something they call a seizure [Sizar.] ; and afther makin that good, hes to be a Counsellor. So, Sir, you see what it is to resave good schoolin, and to have the larnin; but, indeed, tis Brady thats the great headpiece entirely.
Unquestionably, many who received instruction in this manner have distinguished themselves in the Dublin University; and I have no hesitation in saying, that young men educated in Irish hedge schools, as they were called, have proved themselves to be better classical scholars and mathematicians, generally speaking, than any proportionate number of those educated in our first-rate academies. The Munster masters have long been, and still are, particularly celebrated for making excellent classical and mathematical scholars.
That a great deal of ludicrous pedantry generally accompanied this knowledge is not at all surprising, when we consider the rank these worthy teachers held in life, and the stretch of inflation at which their pride was kept by the profound reverence excited by their learning among the people. Tis equally true, that each of them had a stock of crambos ready for accidental encounter, which would have puzzled Euclid or Sir Isaac Newton himself; but even these trained their minds to habits of acuteness and investigation. When a schoolmaster of this class had established himself as a good mathematician, the predominant enjoyment of his heart and life was to write the epithet Philomath after his name; and this, whatever document he subscribed, was never omitted. If he witnessed a will, it was Timothy Fagan, Philomath - if he put his name to a promissory note, it was Tim. Fagan, Philomath; if be addressed a love-letter to his sweetheart, it was still Timothy Fagan - or whatever the name might be - Philomath; and this was always written in legible and distinct copy-hand, sufficiently large to attract the observation of the reader.
It was also usual for a man who had been a preeminent and extraordinary scholar, to have the epithet Great prefixed to his name. I remember one of this description, who was called the Great OBrien, par excellence. In the latter years of his life he gave up teaching, and led a circulating life, going round from school to school, and remaining a week or a month alternately among his brethren. His visits were considered an honour, and raised considerably the literary character of those with whom he resided; for he spoke of dunces with the most dignified contempt, and the general impression was, that he would scorn even to avail himself of their hospitality. Like most of his brethren, he could not live without the poteen; and his custom was, to drink a pint of it in its native purity before he entered into any literary contest, or made any display of his learning at wakes or other Irish festivities; and most certainly, however blameable the practice, and injurious to health and morals, it threw out his talents and his powers in a most surprising manner.
It was highly amusing to observe the peculiarity which the consciousness of superior knowledge impressed upon the conversation and personal appearance of this decaying race. Whatever might have been the original conformation of their physical structure, it was sure, by the force of acquired habit, to transform itself into a stiff, erect, consequential, and unbending manner, ludicrously characteristic of an inflated sense of their extraordinary knowledge, and a proud and commiserating contempt of the dark ignorance by which, in despite of their own light, they were surrounded. Their conversation, like their own crambos, was dark and difficult to be understood; their words, truly sesquipedalian; their voice, loud and commanding in its tones; their deportment, grave and dictatorial, but completely indescribable, and certainly original to the last degree, in those instances where the ready, blundering, but genuine humour of their country maintained an unyielding rivalry in the disposition, against the habitual solemnity which was considered necessary to keep up the due dignity of their character. In many of these persons, where the original humour and gaiety of the disposition were known, all efforts at the grave and dignified were complete failures, and these were enjoyed by the peasantry and their own pupils, nearly with the sensations which the enactment of Hamlet by Liston would necessarily produce. At all events, their education, allowing for the usual exceptions, was by no means superficial; and the reader has already received a sketch of the trials which they had to undergo, before they considered themselves qualified to enter upon the duties of their calling. Their life was, in fact, a state of literary warfare; and they felt that a mere elementary knowledge of their business would have been insufficient to carry them, with suitable credit, through the attacks to which they were exposed from travelling teachers, whose mode of establishing themselves in schools, was, as I have said, by driving away the less qualified, and usurping their places. This, according to the law of opinion, and the custom which prevailed, was very easily effected, for the peasantry uniformly encouraged those whom they supposed to be the most competent; as to moral or religious instruction, neither was expected from them, so that the indifference of the moral character was no bar to their success.
The village of Findramore was situated at the foot of a long green hill, the outline of which formed a low arch, as it rose to the eye against the horizon. This hill was studded with clumps of beeches, and sometimes enclosed as a meadow. In the month of July, when the grass on it was long, many an hour have I spent in solitary enjoyment, watching the wavy motion produced upon its pliant surface by the sunny winds, or the flight of the cloud-shadows, like phantom ships, as they swept rapidly over it, whilst the murmur of the rocking trees and the glancing of their bright leaves in the sun, produced a heartfelt pleasure, the very memory of which rises in my imagination, like some fading recollection of a brighter world.
At the foot of this hill ran a clear deep-banked river, bounded on one side by a slip of rich level meadow, and on the other by a kind of common for the village geese, whose white feathers, during the summer season, lay scattered over its green surface. It was also the play-ground for the boys of the village school; for there ran that part of the river, which, with very correct judgment, the urchins had selected as their bathing-place. A little slope, or watering-ground in the bank, brought them to the edge of the stream, where the bottom fell away into the fearful depths of the whirlpool, under the hanging oak on the other bank. Well do I remember the first time I ventured to swim across it, and even yet do I see, in imagination, the two bunches of water flaggons on which the inexperienced swimmers trusted themselves in the water.
About two hundred yards above this, the boreen, which led from the village to the main road, crossed the river, by one of those old narrow bridges, whose arches rise like round ditches across the road, presenting a high mound, long, uneven, and often dangerous - an almost impassable barrier to horse and car. On passing the bridge, in a northern direction, you found a range of low thatched houses on each side of the road; and if one oclock, the hour of dinner, drew near, you might observe columns of blue smoke curling up from a row of chimnies, some made of wicker creels plastered over with a rich coat of mud - some of old, narrow bottomless tubs - and others, with a greater appearance of taste, ornamented with thick, circular ropes of straw, sewed together like bees skeps, with the peel of a briar; and many having nothing but the open vent above. But the smoke did not alone escape by its legitimate aperture, for you might observe little clouds of it bursting out of the doors and windows; the panes of the latter, being mostly stopped at other times with old hats and rags, were now left entirely open for the purpose of giving it a free escape. Before the doors, on right and left, was a series of dunghills, each with its concomitant sink of green, stagnant water; and if it happened that a stout-looking woman, with watery eyes, and a yellow cap hung loosely upon her matted locks, came, with a chubby urchin on one arm, and a pot of dirty water in her hand, its unceremonious ejection in the aforesaid sink would be apt to send you up the village with your finger and thumb (for what purpose you would yourself perfectly understand) closely, but not knowingly, applied to your nostrils. But, independently of this, you would be apt to have other reasons for giving your horse, whose heels are by this time surrounded by a dozen of barking curs, and the same number of shouting urchins, a pretty sharp touch of the spurs, as well as for complaining bitterly of the odour of the atmosphere. It is no landscape without figures; and you might notice, if you are, as I must suppose you to be, a man of observation, in every sink as you pass along, a slip of a pig stretched in the middle of the mud, the very beau ideal of luxury, giving, occasionally, a long, luxurious grunt, highly expressive of his enjoyment; or, perhaps, an old farrower, lying in indolent repose, with half a dozen young ones justling each other for their draught, and pouncing her belly with their little snouts, reckless of the fumes they are creating; whilst the loud crow of the cock, as he confidently flaps his wings on his own dunghill, gives the warning note for the hour of dinner. As you advance, you will also perceive several faces thrust out of the doors, and, rather than miss a sight of you, a grotesque visage peeping by a short cut through the painless [sic] windows - or, a tattered female flying to whip in her urchin that has been tumbling itself, heels up, in the dust of the road, lest the jintlemans horse might ride over it; and if you happen to look behind, you may notice a shaggy-headed youth, in tattered frize, with one hand thrust indolently in his breast, standing at the door in conversation with the inmates, a broad grin of sarcastic ridicule on his face, in the act of breaking a joke or two upon yourself or your horse; or, perhaps, your jaw may be saluted with a lump of clay, just hard enough not to fall asunder as it flies, cast by some raggid gorsoon from behind a hedge, who squats himself in a ridge of corn to avoid detection.
Seated upon a hob at the door, you may observe a toil-worn man, without coat or waistcoat; his red, muscular, sun-burnt shoulder peering through the remnant of a shirt, mending his shoes with a piece of twisted flax, called a lingel - or, perhaps, sewing two footless stockings (or martyeens) to his coat, as a substitute for sleeves. In the gardens, which are usually fringed with nettles, you will see a solitary labourer, working with that carelessness and apathy that characterize an Irishman when he labours for himself, - leaning upon his spade to look after you, and glad of any excuse to be idle. The houses, however, are not all such as I have described; far from it - you see, here and there, between the more humble cabins, a stout, comfortable-looking farm-house, with ornamental thatching, and well glazed windows--adjoining to which is a hagyard, with five or six large stacks of corn, well trimmed and roped, and a fine, yellow, weather-beaten old hay-rick, half cut; not taking into account twelve or thirteen circular strata of stones, that mark out the foundations on which others had been raised. Neither is the rich smell of oaten or wheaten bread, which the good wife is baking on the griddle, unpleasant to your nostrils; nor would the bubbling of a large pot, in which you might see, should you chance to enter, a prodigious square of fat, yellow, and almost transparent bacon tumbling about, be an unpleasant object; - truly, as it hangs over a large fire, with well swept hearth-stone, it is in good keeping with the white settle and chairs, and the dresser with noggins, wooden trenchers, and pewter dishes perfectly clean, and as well polished as a French courtier.
As you leave the village, you have, to the left, a view of the hill which I have already described, and, to the right, a level expanse of fertile country, bounded by a good view of respectable mountains, peering decently into the sky; and in a line that forms an acute angle from the point of the road where you ride, is a delightful valley, in the bottom of which shines a pretty lake; and a little beyond, on the slope of a green hill, rises a splendid house, surrounded by a park, well wooded and stocked with deer. You have now topped the little hill above the village, and a straight line of level road, a mile long, goes forward to a little country town which lies immediately behind that white church, with its spire cutting into the sky, before you. You now descend on the other side, and, having advanced a few perches, look to the left, where you see a long, thatched chapel, only distinguished from a dwelling-house by its want of chimnies, and a small stone cross that stands on the top of the eastern gable; behind it is a grave-yard, and, beside it, a snug public-house, well white-washed; then, to the right, you observe a door apparently in the side of a clay bank which rises considerably above the pavement of the road. What! you ask yourself, can this be a human habitation? - but ere you have time to answer the question, a confused buzz of voices from within reaches your ear, and the appearance of a little gorsoon, with a red, close-cropped head and Milesian face, having in his hand a short, white stick, which you at once recognize as the pass of a village-school, gives you the full information He has an ink-horn, covered with leather, dangling at the button-hole (for he has long since played away the buttons) of his frize jacket - his mouth is circumscribed with a streak of ink - his pen is stuck knowingly behind his ear - his shins dotted over with blisters, black, red, and blue - on each heel a kibe - his leather crackers, videlicet - breeches, shrunk up upon him, and only reaching as far down as the caps of his knee; having spied you, he places his hand over his brows to throw back the dazzling light of the sun, and peers at you from under it, till he breaks out into a laugh, exclaiming, half to himself, and half to you, You a jintlemen! no, nor wan of your breed never was, you procthorin thief you! You are now immediately opposite the door of the seminary, when half a dozen of those seated next it notice you.
Oh, Sir, heres a jintlemen on a horse! masther, Sir, heres a jintleman on a horse thats lookin in at us, wid boots and spurs on him!
Silence! exclaims the master; back from the door, boys rehearse ; every one of you rehearse, I say, you Boeotians, till the gentleman goes past!
I want to go out if you plase, Sir.
No, you dont, Phelim.
I do, indeed, Sir.
What ! is it afther contradicting me youd be? dont you see the porters out, and you cant go.
Well, tis Mat Meehan has it, Sir, and hes out this half hour, Sir. I cant stay in, Si - iphfff - iphiff - - ; and, with a face of apparent distress, he makes his legs change places, throwing them across each other by way of giving an illustration of his motive.
In the mean time the master puts his head out of the door, his body stooped to half bend, - a phrase the exact curve which it forms, I leave for the present, to your own sagacity - and surveys you until you pass. That is an Irish hedge school, and the personage who follows you with his eye, a hedge schoolmaster. His name is Matthew Kavanagh; and as you seem to consider his literary establishment rather a curiosity in its kind, I will, if you be disposed to hear it, give you the history of him and his establishment, beginning, in the first place, with -
Part II: The Abduction of Mat Kavanagh
FOR ABOUT three years before the period of which I write, the village Findramore, and the parish in which it lay, were without a teacher. Mats predecessor was a James Garraghty, a lame young man, the son of a widow, whose husband lost his life in attempting to extinguish a fire that broke out in the dwelling-house of Squire Johnston, a neighbouring magistrate. The son was a boy at the time of this disaster, and the Squire, as some compensation for the loss of his fathers life in his service, had him educated at his own expense; that is to say, he gave the master who taught in the village orders to educate him gratuitously, on the condition of being horsewhipped out of the parish, if he refused. As soon as he considered himself qualified to teach, he opened a school in the village on his own account, where he taught until his death, which happened in less than a year after the commencement of his little seminary. The children had assembled in his mothers cabin; but as she did not long survive the son, this, which was at best a very miserable residence, soon tottered to the ground. The roof and thatch were burned for firing, the mud gables fell in, and were soon overgrown with grass, nettles, and docks; and nothing remained but about a foot or two of the little clay side-walls, which presented, when associated with the calamitous fate of their inoffensive inmates, rather a touching image of ruin upon a small scale. Garraghty had been attentive to his little pupils, and his instructions were sufficient to give them a relish for education - a circumstance which did not escape the observation of their parents, who duly appreciated it. His death, however, deprived them of this advantage; and as schoolmasters, under the old system, were always at a premium, it so happened, that for three years afterwards, none of that class presented himself to their acceptance. Many a trial had been made, and many a sly offer held out, as a lure to the neighbouring teachers, but they did not take; for although the country was densely inhabited, yet it was remarked that no schoolmaster ever thruv in the neighbourhood of Findramore. The place, in fact had got a bad name. Garraghty died, it was thought of poverty, a disease to which the Findramore school masters had been always known to be subject. His predecessor, too, was hanged, along with two others, for burning the house of an Aagint. Then the Findramore boys were not easily dealt with, having an ugly habit of involving their unlucky teachers in those quarrels which they kept up with the Ballyscanlan boys, a fighting clan that lived at the foot of the mountains above them. These two factions, when they met, whether at fair or market, wake or wedding, could never part without carrying home on each side a dozen or two of bloody coxcombs. For these reasons, the parish of Aughindrum had for a few years been afflicted with an extraordinary dearth of knowledge; the only literary establishment which flourished in it being a parochial institution, which, however excellent in design, yet, like too many establishments of the same nature, it degenerated into a source of knowledge, morals, and education, exceedingly dry and unproductive to every person except the master, who was enabled by his honest industry to make a provision for his family absolutely surprising, when we consider the moderate nature of his ostensible income. It was in fact like a well dried up, to which scarcely any one ever thinks of going for water
Such a state of things, however, couldnt last long. The youth of Findramore were parched for want of the dew of knowledge; and their parents and grown brethren met one Saturday evening in Barny Bradys sheebeen-house, to take into consideration the best means for procuring a resident schoolmaster for the village and neighbourhood. It was a difficult point, and required great dexterity of management to enable them to devise any effectual remedy for the evil which they felt. There were present at this council, Tim Dolan, the senior of the village, and his three sons, Jem Coogan, Brian Murphy, Paddy Delany, Owen Roe ONeil, Jack Traynor, and Andy Connell, with five or six others, whom it is not necessary to enumerate.
Bring us in a quart, Barny; said Dolan to Brady, whom on this occasion we must designate as the host, and let it be rale hathen.
What do ye mane, Tim? replied the host.
I mane, continued Dolan, stuff that was never christened, man alive.
Thin Ill bring you the same as Father Maguire got last night on his way home, afther anointin ould Katty Duffy, replied Dolan. Im sure, whatever I might be afther givin to strangers, Tim, Id be long sorry to give yees any thing but the right sort.
Thats a gay man, Barny, said Traynor; but off wid you like shot, an let us get it under our tooth first, an then well tell you more about it. - A big rogue is the same Barny, he added, after Brady had gone to bring in the poteen, an never sells a dhrop thats not wan whiskey and five wathers.
But he couldnt expose it on you, Jack, observed Connell; youre too ould a hand about the pot for that. Warnt you in the mountains last week?
Ay; but the curse of Cromwell upon that thief of a gauger, Simpson - himself and a pack o redcoats surrounded us when we war beginnin to double, and the purtiest runnin that ever you seen was lost; for you see, before you could cross yourself, we had the bottoms knocked clane out of the vessels; so that the villains didnt get a hole in our coats, as they thought they would.
I tell you, observed ONeil, theres a bad pill somewhere about us.
Ay is there, Owen, replied Traynor; and what is more, I dont think hes a hundher moils from the place were sittin in.
Faith, may be so, Jack, returned the other.
Id never give in to that, said Murphy. Tis Barny Brady that would never turn informer - the same thing isnt in him, nor in any of his breed; theres not a man in the parish Id thrust sooner.
Id jist thrust him, replied Traynor, as far as I could throw a cow by the tail. Arrah, whats the rason that the gauger never looks next or near his place, an its well known that he sells poteen widout a license, though he goes past his door wanst a week?
What the h - is keeping him, at all? enquired one of Dolans sons.
Look at him, said Traynor, comin in out of the garden; how much afeard he is! keepin the whiskey in a phatie ridge - an Id kiss the book that he brought that bottle out in his pocket, instead of diggin it up out o the garden.
Whatever Bradys usual habits of christening his poteen might have been, that which he now placed before them was good. He laid the bottle on a little deal table with cross legs, and along with it a small drinking glass fixed in a bit of flat circular wood, as a substitute for the original bottom, which had been broken. They now entered upon the point in question, without further delay.
Come, Tim, said Coogan, youre the ouldest man, and must spake first.
Throth, man, replied Dolan, beggin your pardon, Ill dhrink first - shud-urth, your sowl; success, boys - glory to ourselves, and confusion to the Scanlan boys, any way.
And maybe, observed Connell, tis we that didnt lick them well in the last fair - theyre not able to meet the Findramore birds, even on their own walk.
Well, boys, said Delany, about the masther? Our childer will grow up like bullockeens, widout knowing a haporth; and larning, you see, is a burdyen thats asy carried.
Ay, observed ONeil, as Solvesther Maguire, the poet, used to say -
Labour for larnin before you grow ould, For larnin is betther nor riches or gould - Riches an gould they may vanquish away, But larnin alone it will never decay.
Success, Owen! Why, you might put down the pot and warm an air to it, said Murphy.
Well, boys, are we all safe? asked Traynor.
Safe! said old Dolan. Arrah, what are you talkin about? Sure tisnt of that same spalpeen of a gauger that wed be afraid?
During this observation, young Dolan pressed Traynors foot under the table, and they both went out for about five minutes.
Father, said the son, when he and Traynor re-entered the room, youre a wantin home.
Who wants me, Larry, a-vick ? said the father.
The son immediately whispered him for a moment, when the old man instantly rose, got his hat, and, after drinking another bumper of the poteen, departed.
Twas hardly worth while, said Delany; the ould fellows mettle to the back-bone, an would never show the garran-bawn, at any rate, even if he knew all about it. Bad end to the syllable Id let the same ould cock hears said the son; the devil trust any man that didnt switch the primmer for it, though he is my father; but now, boys, that the coasts clear, and all safe - where will we get a schoolmasther? Mat Kavanagh wont budge from the Scanlan boys, even if we war to put our hands undher his feet; and small blame to him, when he heads them - sure, you would not expect him to be a traithur to his own?
Faith, the gorsoons is in a bad state, said Murphy, but, boys, where will we get a man thats up? Why, I know tis betther to have any body nor be without one; but we might kill two birds wid one stone - if we could get a masther that would carry articles, an swear in the boys, from time to time - an between ourselves, if theres any danger of the hemp, we may as well lay it upon strange shouldhers.
Ay, bud since Corrigan swung for the Aagint replied Delany, theyre a little modest in havin act or part wid us; but the best plan is to get an advartisment wrote out, an have it posted on the chapel door.
This hint was debated with much earnestness; but, as they were really anxious to have a master - in the first place, for the simple purpose of educating their children; and in the next, for filling the situation of director and regulator of their illegal Ribbon meetings - they determined on penning an advertisement, according to the suggestion of Delany. After drinking another bottle, and amusing themselves with some further chat, one of the Dolans undertook to draw up the advertisement, which ran as follows:- ADVARTAISMENT.
Notes to Schoolmasthers, and to all whom it may consarn.
WANTED, For the nabourhud and vircinity of the Townland of Findramore, In the Parish of Aughindrum, in the Barony of Lisnamoghry, County of Sligo, Province of Connaught, Ireland.
Take Notes, - That any Schoolmasther who understands Spellin grammatically - Readin and Writin, in the raal way, accordin to the Dixonary - Arithmatick, that is to say, the five common rules, namely, simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division - and addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, of Divess denominations. Also reduction up and down - cross multiplication of coin - the Rule of Three direck - the Rule of Three in verse - the double Rule of Three - Frackshins taught according to the vulgar and decimatin method; and must be well practised to tache the Findramore boys how to manage the Scuffle.
N. B. He must be well grounded in that. Practis, discount, and Rebatin. N. B. Must be well grounded in that also.
Tret and Tare - Fellowship - Allegation - Barther - Rates per scent - Intherest - Exchange - Prophet in loss - the Square Root - the Kibe Root - Hippothenuse - Arithmatical and Gommetrical Purgation - Compound Intherest - Loggerheadisms - Questions for Exercise, and the Coxendix to Algibbra. He must also know Jommithry accordin to Grunthers scale - the Castigation of the Klipsticks - Surveying and the use of the Jacob-staff.
N. B. Would get a good dale of surveyin to do in the vircinity of Findramore, particularly in Conacre-time. If he knew the use of the globe, it would be an accusation. He must also understand the Three Sets of Book-keeping, by single and double entry, particularly Loftus & Company of Paris, their Account of Cash and Company. And above all things, he must know how to tache the Sarvin of Mass in Latin, and be able to read Docthor Gallahers Irish Sarmints, and explain Kolumbkills and Pastorinis Prophecies.
N. B. If he understands Cudgel-fencin, it would be an accusation also - but mustnt tache us wid a staff that bends in the middle, bekase it breaks ones head across the guard. Any schoolmasther capacious an collified to instruct in the above-mintioned branches, would get a good school in the townland of Findramore and its vircinity, be well fed, an get the hoith o good livin among the farmers, an would be ped -
For Book-keepin, the three sets, a ginny and half. For Gommethry, &c. half a ginny a quarther. Arithmatic, aight and three-hapuns. Readin, Writin, &c. six Hogs. Given under our hands, this 32d of June, 18004 LARRY DOLAN. DICK DOLAN, his X mark. JEM COOGAN, his X mark. BRINE MURPHEY. PADDY DELANY, his X mark. JACK TRAYNOR. ANDY CONNELL. OWEN ROE ONEIL, his X mark.
N.B. By makin arly application to any of the undhermintioned, , he will hear of further particklers; and if they find that he will shoot them, he may expect the best o thratement, an be well fed among the farmers.
N.B. Would get also a good night-school among the vircinity.
Having penned the above advertisement, it was carefully posted early the next morning on the Chapel door, with an expectation on the part of the patrons, that it would not be wholly fruitless. The next week, however, passed without an application - the second also - and the third produced the same result; nor was there the slightest prospect of a schoolmaster being blown by any wind to the lovers of learning at Findramore. In the mean time, the Ballyscanlan boys took care to keep up the ill-natured prejudice which had been circulated concerning the fatality that uniformly attended such schoolmasters as settled there; and when this came to the ears of the Findramore folk, it was once more resolved that the advertisement should be again put up, with a clause containing an explanation on that point. The clause ran as follows : -
N. B. The two last masthers that was hanged out of Findramore, that is, Micky Corrigan, who was hanged for killing the Aagint, and Jem Garraghty, that died of a declension - Jem died in quensequence of ill health, and Micky was hanged contrary to his own wishes; so that it wasnt either of their faults - as witness our hands this 27th of July.
DICK Dolan, his X mark, &c.
This explanation, however, was as fruitless as the original advertisement; and week after week passed over without an offer from a single candidate. The vircinity of Findramore and its nabourhood seemed devoted to ignorance; and nothing remained except another effort at procuring a master by some more ingenious contrivance. Debate after debate was, consequently, held in Barny Bradys; and, until a fresh suggestion was made by Delany, the prospect seemed as bad as ever. Delany, at length, fell upon a new plan; and it must be confessed, that it was marked in a peculiar manner by a spirit of originality and enterprize - it being nothing less than a proposal to carry off, by force or stratagem, Mat Kavanagh, who was at the time fixed in the throne of literature among the Ballyscanlan boys, quite unconscious of the honourable translation to the neighbourhood of Findramore which was intended for him. The project, when broached, was certainly a startling one, and drove most of them to a pause, before they were sufficiently collected to give an opinion on its merits.
Nothin, boys, is asier, said Delany. Theres to be a patthern in Ballymagowan on next Sathurday - an thats jist half way betune ourselves and the Scanlan boys. Let us musther an go there, any how. We can keep an eye on Mat widout much trouble, an, when opportunity sarves, nick him at wanst, and off wid him clane.
But, said Traynor, what would we do wid him when hed be here? Wouldnt he cut the first opportunity?
How can he, ye omadhawn, if we put a manwill in our pocket, an sware him? But well butther him up when hes among us; or, by me sowks if it goes to that, force him either to settle wid ourselves, or make himself scarce in the counthry entirely.
Divil a much force itill take to keep him, Im thinkin, observed Murphy. Hell have three times a betther school here; and if he was wanst settled, Ill engage he would take to it kindly.
See here, boys, says Dick Dolan, in a whisper -if that bloody villain, Brady, isnt afther standin this quarther of an hour, strivin to hear what were about; but its well we didnt bring up any thing consarnin the other business; didnt I tell yees the desate was in im? Look at his shadow on the wall forninst us.
Hould yer tongues, boys, said Traynor; jist keep never mindin, and, by my sowks, Ill make him sup sorrow for that thrick.
You had betther neither make nor meddle wid him, observed Delany; jist put him out o that - but dont raise yer hand to him, or hell sarve you as he did Jem Flanagan - put ye three or four months in the Stone Jug.
Traynor, however, had gone out while he was speaking, and, in a few minutes dragged in Brady, whom he caught in the very act of eaves-dropping.
Jist come in, Brady, said Traynor, as he dragged him along -walk in, man alive; sure, and sich an honest man as you are neednt be afeard of lookin his friends in the face! - ho! - an by my own sowl, is it a spy weve got? and, I suppose, would be an informer, too, if he had heard anything to tell!
Whats the manin of this, boys? exclaimed the others, feigning ignorance - let the honest man go, Traynor. What do ye hawl him that-a-way for, ye gallis pet? &
Honest! replied Traynor, -how very honest he is, the desavin villain - to be standin at the windy there, wantin to overhear the little harmless talk we had.
Come, Traynor, said Brady, seizing him in his turn by the neck, take your hands off of me, or, bad fate to me, but Ill lave ye a mark.
Traynor, in his turn, had his hand twisted in Bradys cravat, which he drew tightly about his neck, until the other got nearly black in the face.
Let me go, you villian! exclaimed Brady, or, by this blessed night thats in it, itill be worse for you.
Villian! is id? replied Traynor, making a blow at him, whilst Brady snatchcd at a pen-knife which one of the others had placed on the table, after picking the tobacco out of his pipe - intending either to stab Traynor, or to cut the knot of the cravat by which he was held. The others, however, interfered, and prevented further mischief.
Brady, said Traynor, youll rue this night, if ever a man did, you tracherous informin villian. What an honest spy we have among us! - and a short coorse to you!
Oh, hould yer tongue, Traynor, replied Brady; I blieve its best known who is both the spy and the informer. The divil a pint of poteen ever youll run in this parish, until you clear yourself of bringing the gauger on the Traceys, bekase they tuck Mick MKew in preference to yourself to run it for them. Traynor made another attempt to strike him, but was prevented. The rest now interfered; and, in the course of an hour or so an adjustment took place.
Brady took up the tongs, and swore by that blessed iron, that he neither heard nor intended to hear anything they said, and this exculpation was followed by a fresh bottle at his own expense. You omadhawn, said he to Traynor, I was ony puttin up a dozen of bottles into the tatch of the house, when you thought I was listenin; and, as a proof of the truth of this, he brought them out and showed them some bottles of poteen, neatly covered up under the thatch.
Before their separation they finally planned the abduction of Kavanagh from the Patron, on the Saturday following, and after drinking another round went home to their respective dwellings.
In this speculation, however, they experienced a fresh disappointment; for, ere Saturday arrived, whether in consequence of secret intimation of their intentlon from Brady or some friend, or in compliance with the offer of a better situation, the fact was, that Mat Kavanagh had removed to another school, distant about eighteen miles from Findramore. But they were not to be outdone; a new plan was laid, and in the course of the next week, a dozen of the most enterprising and intrepid of the boys, mounted each upon a good horse, went to Mats new residence for the express purpose of securing him.
Perhaps our readers may scarcely believe, that a love of learning was so strong among the inhabitants of Findramore, as to occasion their taking such remarkable steps for establishing a schoolmaster among them, but the country was densely inhabited, the rising population exceedingly numerous, and the out-cry for a schoolmaster amongst the parents of the children loud and importunate. Besides this, the illegal principles of White-boyism were as deeply rooted in that neighbourhood as in others, and the young men stood in need of some person who might regulate their proceedings, keep their registries, preside at and appoint their meetings, and organize, with sufficient skill and precision, not only the vast numbers who had been already enrolled as members, but who were putting forward their claims, day after day, to be admitted as such. God knows it is no wonder that Ireland should be as she is, and as she long has been, when we consider the fact, that those who conducted the education of her peasantry were the most active instruments in disseminating among the rising generations, such pernicious principles as those which characterize this system, so deeply rooted among the people - men, whose moral characters were, with few exceptions, execrable: and nine-tenths of whom held situations of authority in these diabolical associations, The fact, therefore, was, that a double motive stimulated the inhabitants of Findramore in their efforts to procure a master. The old and middle-aged heads of families were actuated by a simple wish, inseparable from Irishmen, to have their children educated; and the young men, not only by a determination to have a properly qualified person to preside at their nightly orgies, but an inclination to improve themselves in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The circumstance I am now relating is one which actually took place; and any man acquainted with the remote parts of Ireland, may have often seen bloody and obstinate quarrels among the peasantry, in vindicating a priority of claim to the local residence of a schoolmaster among them. I could, within my own experience, relate two or three instances of this nature.
It was one Saturday night in the latter end of the month of May, that a dozen Findramore boys, as they were called, set out upon this most singular of all literary speculations, resolved, at whatever risk, to secure the person and effect the permanent bodily presence among them of the redoubtable Mat Kavanagh. Each man was mounted on a horse; and one of them brought a spare steed for the accommodation of the schoolmaster. The caparison of this horse was somewhat remarkable. It consisted of a wooden straddle, such as is used by the peasantry for carrying wicker paniers or creels, which are hung upon two wooden pins, that stood up out of its sides. Under it was a straw mat, to prevent the horses back from being stripped by the straddle. On one side of this hung a large creel, and on the other a strong sack, tied round a stone of sufficient weight to balance the empty creel. The night was warm and clear, the moon and stars all threw their mellow light from a serene, unclouded sky, and the repose of nature in the short nights of this delightftul season, resembled that of a young virgin of sixteen - still, light, and glowing. Their way, for the most part of their journey, lay through a solitary mountain-road; and, as they did not undertake the enterprize without a good stock of poteen, their light-hearted songs and choruses awoke the echoes that slept in the mountain glens as they went along. The adventure, it is true, had as much of frolic as of seriousness in it; and merely as the means of a days fun for the boys, it was the more eagerly entered into.
It was about mid-night when they left home and, as they did not wish to arrive at the village to which they were bound, until the morning should be rather advanced, the journey was as slowly performed as possible. Every remarkable object on the way was noticed, and its history, if any particular association was connected with it, minutely detailed, whenever it happened to be known. When the sun rose, many beautiful green spots and hawthorn vallies excited, even from these unpolished and illlterate peasants, warm bursts of admiration at their fragrance and beauty. In some places, the dark flowery heath clothed the mountains to the tops, from which the grey mists, lit by a flood of light, and breaking into masses before the morning breeze, began to descend into the valleys beneath them; whilst the voice of the grouse, the bleating of sheep and lambs, the peeweet of the wheeling lapwing, and the song of the lark, threw life and animation over the previous stillness of the country. Sometimes a shallow river would cross the road, winding off into a valley that was overhung, on one side, by rugged precipices clothed with luxuriant heath and wild ash; whilst, on the other, it was skirted by a long sweep of green sward, skimmed by the twittering swallow, over which lay scattered numbers of sheep, cows, brood mares, and colts - many of them rising and stretching themselves ere they resumed their pasture, leaving the spot on which they lay of a deeper green. Occasionally, too, a sly-looking fox might be seen lurking about a solitary lamb, or brushing over the hills with a fat goose upon his back, retreating to his den among the inaccessible rocks, after having plundered some unsuspecting farmer.
As they advanced into the skirts of the cultivated country, they met many other beautiful spots of scenery among the upland, considerable portions of which, particularly in long, sloping valleys that faced the morning sun, were covered with hazle and brush wood, where the unceasing and simple notes of the cuckoo were incessantly plied, mingled with the more mellow and varied notes of the thrush and blackbird. Sometimes, the bright summer waterfall seemed, in the rays of the sun, like a column of light, and the springs that issued from the sides of the more distant and lofty mountains shone with a steady, dazzling brightness, on which the eye could scarcely rest. The morning, indeed, was beautiful, the fields in bloom, and every thing cheerful. As the sun rose in the heavens, nature began gradually to awaken into life and happiness; nor was the natural grandeur of a Sabbath summer morning among these piles of magnificent mountains - nor its heartfelt, but more artificial beauty in the cultivated country, lost, even upon the unphilosophical boys of Findramore, so true is it, that the appearance of nature will force enjoyment upon the most uncultivated heart.
When they had arrived within two miles of the little town in which Mat Kavanagh was fixed, they turned off into a deep glen, a little to the left; and, after having seated themselves under a whitethorn which grew on the banks of a rivulet, they began to devise the best immediate measures to be taken.
Boys, said Tim Dolan, how will we manage now with this thief of a shoolmasther, at all? Come, Jack Traynor, you thats up to still-house work - escapin and carryin away stills from gaugers, the bloody villians! - out wid yer spake, till we hear your opinion.
Do ye think, boys, said Andy Connell, that we could flatther him to come by fair mains?
Flatther him! said Traynor; and, by my sowl, if we fiatther him at all, it must be by the hair o the head!
Ill tell you what it is, boys, continued Connell, -Ill hould a wager, if you lave him to me, Ill bring him wid his own consint.
No, nor deuce the that youll do, nor could do, replied Traynor; for, along wid every thing else, he thinks hes not jist doated on by the Findramore people, being one of the Ballyscanlan tribe - No, no - let two of us go to his place, and purtind that we have other business in the fair of Clansallagh on Monday next, and ax him in to dhrink, for hell not refuse that, any how; then, when hes half tipsey, ax him to convoy us this far; well then meet you here, an tell him some palaver or other - sit down again where we are now, and, after making him dead drunk, hoise a big stone in the creel, and Mat in the sack, on the other side, wid his head out, and off wid him; and he will know neither act nor part about it, till were at Findramore.
Having approved of this project, they pulled out each a substantial complernent of stout wheaten bread, which served, along with the whiskey, for breakfast. The two persons pitched on for decoying Mat were Dolan and Traynor, who accordingly set out, full of glee at the singularity and drollness of their undertaking It is unnecessary to detail the ingenuity with which they went about it - because, in consequence of Kavanaghs love of drink, very little ingenuity was necessary; but one circumstance came to light which gave them much encouragement, and that was a discovery that Mat by no means relished his situation. In the mean time, those who staid behind in the glen felt their patience begin to flag a little, because of the delay made by the others, who had promised, if possible, to have the schoolmaster in the glen before two oclock. But the fact was, that Mat, who was far less deficient in hospitality than in learning, brought them into his house, and not only treated them to plenty of whiskey, but made the wife prepare a dinner, for which he detained them, swearing, that except they stopped to partake of it, he would not convoy them to the place appointed. Evening was, therefore, tolerably far advanced when they made their appearance at the glen, in a very equivocal state of sobriety - Mat being by far the steadiest of the three, but still considerably the worse for what he had taken. He was now welcomed by a general huzza; and on his expressing surprise at the appearance of so many of his acquaintances, they pointed to their horses, telling him that they were bound for the fair of Clansallagh, for the purpose of selling them. This was the more probable, as, when a fair occurs in Ireland, it is usual for cattle-dealers, particularly horse-jockeys, to effect sales, and show their horses on the evening before. Mat now sat down, and was vigorously plied with strong poteen - songs were sung, stories told, and every device resorted to that was calculated to draw out and heighten his sense of enjoyment; nor were their efforts without success; for, in the course of a short time, Mat was free from all earthly care, being incapable of either speaking or standing.
Now, boys, said Dolan, let us do the thing clane an dacent. Let you, Jem Cogan, Brian Murphy, Paddy Delany, and Andy Connell, go back, and tell the wife and two childher a cock-and-a-bull story about Mat - say that he is coming to Findrarnore for good and all, an thatill be truth, you know; and that he ordhered yees to bring her and them after him; and we can come back for the furniture to-morrow.
A word was enough - they immediately set off; and the others, not wishing that Mats wife should witness the mode of his conveyance, proceeded home, for it was now dusk. The plan succeeded admirably; and in a short time the wife and children, mounted behind the boys on the horses, were on their way after them to Findramore. The reader is already aware of the plan they had adopted for translating Mat; but, as it was extremely original, I will explain it somewhat more fully. The moment the schoolmaster was intoxicated to the necessary point, that is to say, totally helpless and insensible, they opened the sack and put him in, heels foremost, tying it in such a way about his neck as might prevent his head from getting into it, thus avoiding the danger of suffocation. The sack, with Mat at full length in it, was then fixed to the pin of the straddle, so that he was in an erect posture during the whole journey. A creel was then hung at the other side, in which was placed a large stone, of sufficient weight to preserve an equilibrium; and, to prevent any accident, a droll fellow sat astride behind the straddle, amusing himself and the rest by breaking jokes upon the novelty of Mats situation.
Well, Mat, ma bouchal, how duv ye like your sitivation? I believe, for all your larnin, the Findramore boys have sacked you at last?
Ay, exclaimed another, he is sacked at last, in spite of his Matthew-maticks.
An by my sowks, observed Traynor, hed be a long time goin up a Maypowl in the state hes in - his own snail would bate him.
Yes, said another, but he desarves credit for travellin from Clansallagh to Findramore, widout layin a foot to the ground -
Wan day wid Captain Whiskey I wrasteled a fall, But faith I was no match for the captain at all-- But faith I was no match for the captain at all, Though the landladys measures they were damnable small. Tooral, looral, looral, looral lido.
Whoo - hurroo! my darlings - success to the Findramore boys! Hurroo - hurroo - the Findramore boys for ever!
Boys, did ever yees hear the song Mat made on Neil Mullens fight wid Jemmy Connors gander? Well, here it is, to the tune of Brian OLynn. -
As Ned and the gander wor basting each other, I hard a loud cry from the grey goose his mother; I ran to assist him, wid my great speed, Bud before I arrived the poor gander did bleed. Alas! says the gander, Im very ill trated, For tracherous Mullen has me fairly defated; Bud had you been here for to show me fair play, I could leather his puckan around the lee bray.
Bravo! Mat, addressing the insensible schoolmaster -success, poet. Hurroo for the Findramore boys! the bridge boys for ever!