[ cont. ]
How Garryowen Rose, and How It Fell
The little ruined outlet, which gives its name to one of the most popular national songs of Erin, is situate on the acclivity of a hill near the city of Limerick, commanding a not uninteresting view of that fine old town, with the noble stream that washes its battered towers, and a richly cultivated surrounding country. Tradition has preserved the occasion of its celebrity, and the origin of its name, which appears to he compounded of two Irish words signifying Owens garden. - A person so called was the owner, about half a century since, of a cottage and plot of ground on this spot, which from its contiguity to the town, became a favourite holiday resort with the young citizens of both sexes - a lounge presenting accommodations somewhat similar to those which are offered to the London mechanic by the Battersea tea-gardens. Owens garden was the general rendezvous for those who sought for simple amusement or for dissipation. The old people drank together under the shade of trees - the young played at ball, goal, or other athletic exercises on the green; while a few lingering by the hedge-rows with their fair acquaintances, cheated the time with sounds less boisterous, indeed, but yet possessing their fascination also.
The festivities of our fathers, however, were frequently distinguished by so fierce a character of mirth, that, for any difference in the result of their convivial meetings, they might as well have been pitched encounters. Owens garden was soon as famous for scenes of strife, as it was for mirth and humour; and broken heads became a staple article of manufacture in the neighbourhood.
This new feature in the diversions of the place, was encouraged by a number of young persons of a rank somewhat superior to that of the usual frequenters of the garden. They were the sons of the more respectable citizens, the merchants and wholesale traders of the city, just turned loose from school with a greater supply of animal spirits than they had wisdom to govern. Those young gentlemen being fond of wit, amused themselves by forming parties at night, to wring the heads off all the geese, and the knockers off all the hall doors in the neighbourhood. They sometimes suffered their genius to soar as high as the breaking a lamp, and even the demolition of a watchman; but, perhaps, this species of joking was found a little too serious to be repeated over frequently, for few achievements of so daring a violence are found amongst their records. They were obliged to content themselves with the less ambitious distinction of destroying the knockers and store-locks, annoying the peaceable inmates of the neighbouring houses, with long continued assaults on the front doors, terrifying the quiet passengers with every species of insult and provocation, and indulging their fratricidal propensities against all the geese in Garryowen.
The fame of the Garryowen boys soon spread far and wide. Their deeds were celebrated by some inglorious minstrel of the day in that air which has since resounded over every quarter of the world; and even disputed the palm of national popularity with Patricks day. A string of jolly verses were appended to the tune which soon enjoyed a notoriety similar to that of the famous Lilli-burlero, bullen-a-la which sung King James out of his three kingdoms. The name of Garryowen was as well known as that of the Irish Numantium, Limerick, itself, and Owens little garden became almost a synonym for Ireland.
But that principle of existence which assigns to the life of man its periods of youth, maturity, and decay, has its analogy in the fate of villages, as in that of empires. Assyria fell, and so did Garryowen! Rome had its decline, and Garryowen was not immortal. Both are now an idle sound, with nothing but the recollections of old tradition to invest them with an interest. The still notorious suburb is little better than a heap of rubbish, where a number of smoked and mouldering walls, standing out from the masses of stone and mortar, indicate the position of a once populous row of dwelling houses. A few roofs yet remain unshaken, under which some impoverished families endeavour to work out a wretched subsistence by maintaining a species of huxter trade, by cobbling old shoes, and manufacturing ropes. A small rookery wearies the ears of the inhabitants at one end of the outlet, and a rope-walk which extends along the adjacent slope of Gallows-green (so called for certain reasons) brings to the mind of the conscious spectator, associations that are not calculated to enliven the prospect. Neither is he thrown into a more jocular frame of mind as he picks his steps over the insulated paving stones that appear amid the green slough with which the street is deluged, and encounters at the other end, an alley of coffin-makers shops, with a fever hospital on one side, and a church-yard on the other. A person who was bent on a journey to the other world, could not desire a more expeditious outfit than Garryowen could now afford him: nor a more commodious choice of conveyances, from the machine on the slope above glanced at, to the pest-house at the farther end.
But it is ill talking lightly on a serious subject. The days of Garryowen are gone, like those of ancient Erin; and the feats of her once formidable heroes are nothing more than a winters evening tale. Owen is in his grave, and his garden looks dreary as a ruined church-yard. The greater number of his merry customers have followed him to a narrower play-ground, which, though not less crowded, affords less room for fun, and less opportunity for contention. The worm is here the reveller, the owl whoops out his defiance without an answer, (save the echos,) the best whiskey in Munster would not now drive the cold out of their hearts; and the withered old sexton is able to knock the bravest of them over the pate with impunity. A few perhaps may still remain to look back with a fond shame to the scene of their early follies, and to smile at the page in which those follies are recorded.
Still, however, there is something to keep the memory alive of those unruly days, and to preserve the name of Garryowen from utter extinction. The annual fair which is held on the spot presents a spectacle of gaiety and uproar which might rival its most boisterous days; and strangers still enquire for the place with a curiosity which its appearance seldom fails to disappoint. Our national lyrist has immortalized the air by adapting to it one of the liveliest of his melodies; - the adventures, of which it was once the scene, constitute a fund of standing joke and anecdote which are not neglected by the neighbouring story-tellers; - and a rough voice may still occasionally be heard by the traveller who passes near its ruined dwellings at evening, to chaunt a stanza of the chorus which was once in the mouth of every individual in the kingdom:-
|Tis there well drink the nut-brown ale
An pay the recknin on the nail
No man for debt shall go to jail
From Garryowen a gloria.
Chapter 2: How Eily OConnor Puzzled All the Inhabitants of Garryowen
But while Owen lived, and while his garden flourished, he and his neighbours were as merry together, as if death could never reach the one, nor desolation waste the other. Among those frequenters of his little retreat whom he distinguished with an especial favour and attention, the foremost was the handsome daughter of an old man who conducted the business of a rope-walk in his neighbourhood, and who was accustomed on a fine Saturday evening to sit under the shade of a yellow osier that stood by his door, and discourse of the politics of the day - of Lord Halifaxs administration - of the promising young patriot Mr. Henry Grattan - and of the famous Catholic concession of 1773. Owen, like all Irishmen, even of the humblest rank, was an acute critic in female proportions, and although time had blown away the thatching from his head, and by far the greater portion of blood that remained in his frame had colonized about his nose, yet the manner in which he held forth on the praises of his old friends daughter was such as put to shame her younger and less eloquent admirers. It is true, indeed, that the origin of the suburban beauty was one which, in a troubled country like Ireland, had little of agreeable association to recommend it; but few even of those to whom twisted hemp was an object of secret terror, could look on the exquisitely beautiful face of Eily OConnor, and remember that she was a rope-makers daughter; few could detect beneath the timid, hesitating, downcast gentleness of manner, which shed an interest over all her motions, the traces of a harsh and vulgar education. It was true that she sometimes purloined a final letter from the Kings adjectives, and prolonged the utterance of a vowel beyond the term of prosodaical orthodoxy, but the tongue that did so seemed to move on silver wires, and the lip on which the sound delayed
|long murmuring, loth to part
imparted to its own accents an association of sweetness and grace, that made the defect an additional allurement. Her education in the outskirts of a city had not impaired the natural tenderness of her character; for her father, who all rude as he was, knew how to value his daughters softness of mind, endeavoured to foster it by every indulgence in his power. Her uncle, too, who was now a country parish priest, was well qualified to draw forth any natural talent with which she had been originally endowed. He had completed his theological education in the famous university of Salamanca, where he was distinguished as a youth of much quietness of temper and literary application, rather than as one of those furious gesticulators, those figures Hibernoises, amongst whom Gil Blas, in his fit of logical lunacy, could meet his only equals. At his little lodging, while he was yet a curate at St. Johns, Eily OConnor was accustomed to spend a considerable portion of her time, and in return for her kindness in presiding at his simple tea-table, father Edward undertook to bestow a degree of attention on her education, which rendered her, in a little time, as superior in knowledge, as she was in beauty, to her female associates. She was remarked likewise at this time, as a little devotee, very regular in her attendance at chapel, constant in all the observances of her religion, and grave in her attire and discourse. On the coldest and dreariest morning in winter, she might be seen gliding along by the unopened shop- windows to the nearest chapel, where she was accustomed to hear an early mass, and return in time to set every thing in order for her fathers breakfast. During the day she superintended his household affairs, while he was employed upon the adjacent rope-walk; and, in the evening, she usually slipped on her bonnet, and went across the street to father Edwards, where she chatted away until tea was over; if he happened to be engaged in reading his daily office, she amused herself with a volume of moral entertainment, such as Rasselas Prince of Abyssinia, or Mr. Addisons Spectator, until he was at leisure to hear her lessons. An attachment of the purest and tenderest nature was the consequence of those mutual attentions between the uncle and niece, and it might be said that if the former loved her not as well, he knew and valued her character still better than her father.
Father Edward however was appointed to a parish, and Eily lost her instructor. It was for her a severe loss, and most severe in reality when its effect upon her own spirits began to wear away. For some months after his departure, she continued to lead the same retired and unobtrusive life, and no eye, save that of a consummate observer, could detect the slightest alteration in her sentiments, the least increase of toleration for the world and worldly amusements. That change however had been silently effected in her heart. She was now a woman - a lovely, intelligent, full grown woman - and circumstances obliged her to take a part in the little social circle which moved around her. Her spirits were naturally light, and, though long repressed, became readily assimilated to the buoyant tone of the society in which she happened to be placed. Her father, who, with a fathers venial vanity, was fond of showing his beautiful child among his neighbours, took her with him one evening to Owens garden, at a time when it was unusually gay and crowded, and from that evening might be dated the commencement of a decided and visible change in the lovely Eilys character.
As gradual as the approach of a spring morning, was the change from grave to gay in the costume of this flower of the suburbs. It dawned at first in a handsome bow-knot upon her headdress, and ended in the full noontide splendour of flowered muslins, silks, and sashes. It was like the opening of the rose-bud, which gathers around it the winged wooers of the summer meadow. Lads, as brisk as bees, came thronging in her train, with proffers of honourable love and rites of marriage; and even among the youths of a higher rank, whom the wild levity of Irish blood and high spirits, sent to mingle in the festivities of Owens garden, a jealousy prevailed respecting the favour of the handsome rope-makers daughter. It was no wonder that attentions paid by individuals so much superior to her ordinary admirers, should render Eily indifferent to the sighs of those plebeian suitors. Dunat OLeary the hair-cutter, or Foxy Dunat, as he was named in allusion to his red head, was cut to the heart by her utter coldness. Myles Murphy, likewise, a good natured farmer from Killarney, who travelled through the country selling Kerry ponies, and claiming relationship with every one he met, claimed kindred in vain with Eily, for his claim was not allowed. Lowry Looby too, the servant of Mr. Daly, a wealthy middleman who lived in the neighbourhood, was suspected by many to entertain delusive hopes of Eily OConnors favour - but this report was improbable enough, for Lowry could not but know that he was a very ugly man; and if he were as beautiful as Narcissus, Mihil OConnor would still have shut the door in his face for being as poor as Timon. So that though there was no lack of admirers, the lovely Eily, like many celebrated beauties in a higher rank, ran, after all, a fair chance of becoming what Lady Mary Montague has elegantly termed a lay nun. Even so a bookworm, who will pore over a single volume from morning till night, if turned loose into a library, wanders from shelf to shelf, bewildered amid a host of temptations, and unable to make any election until he is surprised by twilight, and chagrined to find, that with so much happiness within his grasp, he has spent, nevertheless, an unprofitable day.
But accident saved Eily from a destiny so deeply dreaded and so often lamented as that above alluded to, - a condition which people generally agree to look upon as one of utter desolation, and which, notwithstanding, is frequently a state of greater happiness than its opposite. On the even of the seventeenth of March, a day distinguished in the rope-makers household, not only as the festival of the national Saint, but as the birth-day of the young mistress of the establishment; on this evening, Eily and her father were enjoying their customary relaxation at Owens garden. The jolly proprietor was seated as usual, with his rope-twisting friend, under the yellow osier, while Myles Murphy, who had brought a number of his wild ponies to be disposed of at the neighbouring fairs, had taken his place at the end of the table, and was endeavouring to insinuate a distant relationship between the Owens of Kilteery, connections of the person whom he addressed, and the Murphys of Knockfodhra, connections of his own. A party of young men were playing fives at a ball alley, on the other side of the green; and another, more numerous, and graced with many female figures, were capering away to the tune of the fox-hunters jig, on the short grass. Some poor old women, with baskets on their arms, were endeavouring to sell off some Patricks crosses for children, at the low rate of one halfpenny a piece, gilding, paint, and all. Others, fatigued with exertion, were walking under the still leafless trees, some with their hats, some with their coats off, jesting, laughing, and chatting familiarly with their female acquaintances.
Mihil OConnor, happening to see Lowry Looby among the promenaders, glancing now and then at the dance, and whistling Patricks day, requested him to call his daughter out of the group, and tell her that he was waiting for her to go home. Lowry went, and returned to say, that Eily was dancing with a strange young gentleman in a boating dress, and that he would not let her go until she had finished the slip jig.
It continued a sufficient time to tire the old mans patience. When Eily did at last make her appearance, he observed there was a flush of mingled weariness and pleasure on her cheek, which showed that the delay was not quite in opposition to her own inclinations. This circumstance might have tempted him to receive her with a little displeasure, but that honest Owen at that moment laid hold on both father and daughter, insisting that they should come in and take supper with his wife and himself.
This narrative of Eilys girlhood being merely introductory, we shall forbear to furnish any detail of the minor incidents of the evening, or the quality of Mrs. Owens entertainment. They were very merry and happy; so much so, that the Patricks eve approached its termination, before they arose to bid their host and hostess a good night. Owen advised them to walk on rapidly in order to avoid the Pathricks boys who would promenade the streets after twelve, to welcome in the mighty festival with music and uproar of all kinds. Some of the lads he said, might be playen their thricks upon Miss Eily.
The night was rather dark, and the dim glimmer of the oil-lamps which were suspended at long intervals over the street doors tended only in a very feeble degree to qualify the gloom. Mihil OConnor and his daughter had already performed more than half their journey, and were turning from a narrow lane at the head of Mungret-street, when a loud and tumultuous sound broke with sudden violence upon their hearing. It proceeded from a multitude of people who were moving in confused and noisy procession along the street. An ancient and still honoured custom summons the youthful inhabitants of the city on the night of this anniversary to celebrate the approaching holiday of the patron Saint and apostle of the island, by promenading all the streets in succession, playing national airs, and filling up the pauses in the music with shouts of exultation. Such was the procession which the two companions now beheld approaching.
The appearance which it presented was not altogether destitute of interest and amusement. In the midst were a band of musicians who played alternately Patricks day, and Garryowen, while a rabble of men and boys pressed round them, thronging the whole breadth and a considerable portion of the length of the street. The men had got sprigs of shamrock in their hats, and several carried in their hands lighted candles protected from the wasting night-blast by a simple lamp of whited brown paper. The fickle and unequal light which those small torches threw over the faces of the individuals who held them, afforded a lively contrast to the prevailing darkness.
The crowd hurried forward singing, playing, shouting, laughing, and indulging, to its full extent, all the excitement which was occasioned by the tumult and the motion. Bedroom windows were thrown up as they passed, and the half dressed inmates thrust their heads into the night air to gaze upon the mob of enthusiasts. All the respectable persons who appeared in the street as they advanced, turned short into the neighbouring by-ways to avoid the importunities which they would be likely to incur by a contact with the multitude.
But it was too late for our party to adopt this precaution. Before it had entered their minds, the procession (if we may dignify it by a name so sounding) was nearer to them than they were to any turn in the street, and the appearance of flight with a rabble of men, as with dogs, is a provocation of pursuit. Of this they were aware - and accordingly instead of attempting a vain retreat, they turned into a recess formed by one of the shop doors, and quietly awaited the passing away of this noisy torrent. For some moments they were unnoticed; the fellows who moved foremost being too busy in talking, laughing, and shouting, to pay any attention to objects, not directly in their way. But they were no sooner espied than the wags assailed them with that species of wit, which distinguishes the inhabitants of the back lanes of a city, and forms the terror of all country visitors. These expressions were lavished upon the rope-maker and his daughter, until the former, who was as irritable an old fellow as Irishmen generally are, was almost put out of patience.
At length, a young man observing the lamp shine for a moment on Eilys handsome face, made a chirp with his lips as he passed by, as if he had a mind to kiss her. Not Papirius himself, when vindicating his senatorial dignity against the insulting Gaul, could be more prompt in action than Mihil OConnor. The young gentleman received in return for his affectionate greeting a blow over the temple which was worth five hundred kisses. An uproar immediately commenced, which was likely to end in some serious injury to the old man and his daughter. A number of ferocious faces gathered round them uttering sounds of harsh rancour and defiance; which Mihil met with equal loudness and energy. Indeed all that seemed to delay his fate and hinder him from sharing in the prostration of his victim was the conduct of Eily, who flinging herself in bare armed beauty before her father defended him for a time against the upraised weapons of his assailants. No one would incur the danger of harming, by an accidental blow, a creature so young, so beautiful, and so affectionate.
They were at length rescued from this precarious condition by the interposition of two young men in the dress of boatmen who appeared to possess some influence with the crowd, and who used it for the advantage of the sufferers. Not satisfied with having brought them safely out of all immediate danger, the taller of the two conducted them to their door, saying little on the way and taking his leave as soon as they were once in perfect safety. All that Mihil could learn from his appearance was, that he was a gentleman, and very young - perhaps not more than nineteen years of age. The old man talked much and loudly in praise of his gallantry, but Eily was altogether silent on the subject.
A few days after, Mihil OConnor was at work upon the ropewalk, going slowly backward in the sunshine, with a bundle of hemp between his knees, and singing Maureen Thierna.* A hunch- backed little fellow in a boatmans dress, came up, and saluting him in a sharp city brogue, reminded the old rope-maker that he had done him a service a few evenings before. Mihil professed his acknowledgements, and with true Irish warmth of heart, assured the little boatman that all he had in the world was at his service. The hunch-back however only wanted a few ropes and blocks for his boat and even for those he was resolute in paying honourably. Neither did he seem anxious to satisfy the curiosity of old Mihil with respect to the name and quality of his companion; for he was inexorable in maintaining that he was a turf boatman from Scagh who had come up to town with him to dispose of a cargo of fuel at Charlottes Quay. Mihil OConnor referred him to his daughter for the ropes, about which he said she could bargain as well as himself, and he was unable to leave his work until the rope he had in hand should be finished. The little deformed, no way displeased at this intelligence, went to find Eily at the shop, where he spent a longer time than Mihil thought necessary for his purpose.
From this time forward the character of Eily OConnor seemed to have undergone a second change. Her former gravity returned, but it did not re-appear under the same circumstances as before. In her days of religious retirement, it appeared only in her dress, and in her choice of amusements. Now, both her recreations and her attire were much gayer than ever, so much so as almost to approach a degree of dissipation, but her cheerfulness of mind was gone, and the sadness which had settled on her heart, like a black reef under sunny waters, was plainly visible through all her gaiety. Her father was too much occupied in his eternal rope-twisting to take particular notice of this change, and, besides, it is notorious that ones constant companions are the last to observe any alteration in ones manner or appearance.
One morning, when Mihil OConnor left his room, he was surprized to find that the breakfast table was not laid as usual, and that his daughter was not in the house. She made her appearance, however, while he was himself making the necessary arrangements. They exchanged a greeting somewhat colder on the one side, and more embarrassed on the other, than was usual at the morning meetings of the father and daughter. But when she told him, that she had been only to the chapel, the old man was perfectly satisfied, for he knew that Eily would as readily think of telling a falsehood to the priest, as she would to her father. And when Mihil OConnor heard that people were at the chapel, he generally concluded (poor old man!) that it was only to pray they went there.
In the meantime Myles Murphy renewed his proposals to Eily, and succeeded in gaining over the father to his interests. The latter was annoyed at his daughters obstinate rejection of a fine fellow like Myles, with a very comfortable property, and pressed her either to give consent to the match or a good reason for her refusal. But this request, though reasonable, was not complied with: and the rope-maker, though not so hot as Capulet, was as much displeased at the contumacy of his daughter. Eily, on her part, was so much afflicted at the anger of her only parent, that it is probable her grief would have made away with her if she had not prevented that catastrophe by making away with herself.
On the fair day of Garryowen, after sustaining a long and distressing altercation with her father and her mountain suitor, Eily OConnor threw her blue cloak over her shoulders and walked into the air. She did not return to dinner, and her father felt angry at what he thought a token of resentful feeling. Night came, and she did not make her appearance. The poor old man in an agony of terror reproached himself for his vehemence, and spent the whole night in recalling with a feeling of remorse every intemperate word which he had used in the violence of dispute. In the morning, more like a ghost than a living being, he went from the house of one acquaintance to another to enquire after his child. No one however had seen her, except Foxy Dunat, the haircutter, and he had only caught a glimpse of her as she passed his door on the previous evening. It was evident that she was not to return. Her father was distracted. Her young admirers feared that she had got privately married, and run away with some shabby fellow. Her female friends insinuated that the case might be still worse, and some pious old people shook their heads when the report reached them, and said they knew what was likely to come of it, when Eily OConnor left off attending her daily mass in the morning, and went to the dance at Garryowen.
|Note: *Little Mary Tierney.
How Mr. Daly The Middleman Sat Down to Breakfast
The Dalys (a very respectable family in middle life) occupied, at the time of which we write, a handsome cottage on the Shannon side, a few miles from the suburban district above-mentioned.
They had assembled, on the morning of Eilys disappearance, a healthy and blooming household of all sizes, in the principal sitting room for a purpose no less important than that of dispatching breakfast. It was a favourable moment for any one who might be desirous of sketching a family picture. The windows of the room, which were thrown up for the purpose of admitting the fresh morning air, opened upon a trim and sloping meadow that looked sunny and cheerful with the bright green aftergrass of the season. The broad and sheety river washed the very margin of the little field, and bore upon its quiet bosom (which was only ruffled by the circling eddies that encountered the advancing tide,) a variety of craft, such as might be supposed to indicate the approach to a large commercial city. Majestic vessels, floating idly on the basined flood, with sails half furled, in keeping with the languid beauty of the scene; lighters burthened to the waters edge with bricks or sand; large rafts of timber, borne onward towards the neighbouring quays under the guidance of a shipmans boat-hook; pleasure-boats, with gaudy pennons hanging at peak and topmast; or turf boats with their unpicturesque and ungraceful lading, moving sluggishly furward, while their black sails seemed gasping for a breath to fill them; such were the incidents that gave a gentle animation to the prospect immediately before the eyes of the cottage-dwellers. On the farther side of the river arose the Cratloe hills, shadowed in various places by a broken cloud, and rendered beautiful by the chequered appearance of the ripening tillage, and the variety of hues that were observable along their wooded sides. At intervals, the front of a handsome mansion brightened up in a passing gleam of sunshine, while the wreaths of blue smoke, ascending at various distances from amongst the trees, tended to relieve the idea of extreme solitude which it would otherwise have presented.
The interior of the cottage was not less interesting to contemplate than the landscape which lay before it. The principal breakfast table (for there were two spread in the room) was placed before the window, the neat and snow white damask cloth covered with fare that spoke satisfactorily for the circumstances of the proprietor, and for the housewifery of his helpmate. The former, a fair, pleasant faced old gentleman in a huge buckled cravat and square-toed shoes, somewhat distrustful of the meagre beverage which fumed out of Mrs. Dalys lofty and shining coffee-pot, had taken his position before a cold ham and fowl which decorated the lower end of the table. His lady, a courteous old personage, with a face no less fair and happy than her husbands, and with eyes sparkling with good nature and intelligence, did the honours of the board at the farther end. On the opposite side, leaning over the back of his chair with clasped hands in an attitude which had a mixture of abstraction and anxiety, sat Mr. Kyrle Daly, the first pledge of connubial affection that was born to this comely pair. He was a young man already initiated in the rudiments of the legal profession; of a handsome figure; and in manner - but something now pressed upon his spirits which rendered this an unfavourable occasion for describing it.
A second table was laid in a more retired portion of the room, for the accommodation of the younger part of the family. Several well burnished goblets, or porringers, of thick milk flanked the sides of this board, while a large dish of smooth-coated potatoes reeked up in the centre. A number of blooming boys and girls, between the ages of four and twelve, were seated at this simple repast, eating and drinking away with all the happy eagerness of youthful appetite. Not, however, that this employment occupied their exclusive attention, for the prattle which circulated round the table frequently became so boisterous as to drown the conversation of the older people, and to call forth the angry rebuke of the master of the family.
The furniture of the apartment was in accordance with the appearance and manners of its inhabitants. The floor was handsomely carpetted, a lofty green fender fortified the fire-place, and supplied Mr. Daly in his facetious moments with occasions for the frequent repetition of a favorite conundrum ...Why is that fender like Westminster Abbey? a problem with which he never failed to try the wit of any stranger who happened to spend a night beneath his roof. The wainscoated walls were ornamented with several of the popular prints of the day, such as Hogarths Roast Beef - Prince Eugene - Schomberg at the Boyne - Mr. Betterton playing Cato in all the glory of
|Full wig, flowerd gown, and lackerd chair
or the royal Mandane, in the person of Mrs. Mountain, strutting among the arbours of her Persian palace in a lofty tête and hooped petticoat. There were also some family drawings, done by Mrs. Daly in her school-days, of which we feel no inclination to say more than that they were very prettily framed. In justice to the fair artist it should also be mentioned that, contrary to the established practice, her sketches were never re-touched by the hand of her master; a fact which Mr. Daly was fond of insinuating, and which no one, who saw the pictures, was tempted to call in question. A small book case, with the edges of the shelves handsomely gilded, was suspended in one corner of the room, and on examination might be found to contain a considerable number of works on Irish History - for which study Mr. Daly had a national predilection, a circumstance much deplored by all the impatient listeners in his neighbourhood, and (some people hinted) in his own household; some religious books; and a few volumes on cookery and farming. The space over the lofty chimney piece was assigned to some ornaments of a more startling description. A gun rack, on which were suspended a long shore gun, a brass barrelled blunderbuss, a cutlass, and a case of horse pistols, manifested Mr. Dalys determination to maintain, if necessary, by force of arms, his claim to the fair possessions which his honest industry had acquired.
Kyrle said Mr. Daly, putting his fork into a breast of cold goose, and looking at his son - you had better let me put a little goose (with an emphasis) on your plate. You know you are going a wooing to day.
The young gentleman appeared not to hear him. Mrs. Daly, who understood more intimately the nature of her sons reflections, deprecated, by a significant look at her husband, the continuance of any raillery upon so delicate a subject.
Kyrle, some coffee? said the lady of the house; but without being more successful in awakening the attention of the young gentleman.
Mr. Daly winked at his wife.
Kyrle! he called aloud, in a tone against which even a lovers absence was not proof - Do you hear what your mother says?
I ask pardon sir - I was absent, I - what were you saying, mother?
She was saying, continued Mr. Daly with a smile, that you were manufacturing a fine speech for Anne Chute, and that you were just meditating whether you should deliver it on your knees, or out of brief, as if you were addressing the Bench in the Four Courts.
For shame, my dear! - Never mind him, Kyrle, I said no such thing. I wonder how you can say that, my dear, and the children listening.
Pooh! the little angels are too busy and too innocent to pay us any attention, said Mr. Daly, lowering his voice however. But speaking seriously, my boy, you take this affair too deeply to heart; and whether it be in our pursuit suit of wealth - or fame - or even in love itself, an extreme solicitude to be successful is the surest means of defeating its own object. Besides, it argues an unquiet and unresigned condition. I have had a little experience, you know, in affairs of this kind, he added, smiling and glancing at his fair helpmate, who blushed with the simplicity of a young girl.
Ah, sir, said Kyrle, as he drew nearer to the breakfast table with a magnanimous affectation of cheerfulness. I fear I have not so good a ground for hope as you may have had. It is very easy, sir, for one to be resigned to disappointment when he is certain of success.
Why, I was not bidden to despair, indeed, said Mr. Daly, extending his hand to his wife, while they exchanged a quiet smile, which had in it an expression of tenderness and of melancholy remembrance. I have, I believe, been more fortunate than more deserving persons. I have never been vexed with useless fears in my wooing days, nor with vain regrets when those days were ended. I do not know, my dear lad, what hopes you have formed, or what prospects you may have shaped out of the future, but I will not wish you a better fortune than that you may as nearly approach to their accomplishment as I have done, and that Time may deal as fairly with you as he has done with your father. After saying this, Mr. Daly leaned forward on the table with his temple supported by one finger, and glanced alternately from his children to his wife; while he sang in a low tone the following verse of a popular song:
|How should I love the pretty creatures,
While round my knees they fondly clung,
To see them look their mothers features,
To hear them lisp their mothers tongue!
And when with envy Time transported
Shall think to rob us of our joys -
Youll in your girls again be courted,
And I ...
with a glance at Kyrle -
|And I go wooing with the boys.
And this, thought young Kyrle, in the affectionate pause that ensued, this is the question which I go to decide upon this morning; whether my old age shall resemble the picture which I see before me, or whether I shall be doomed to creep into the winter of my life, a lonely, selfish, cheerless, money-hunting old bachelor. Is not this enough to make a little solicitude excusable, or pardonable at least?
It is a long time now, resumed Mr. Daly since I have had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Chute. She was a very beautiful but a very wild girl when I knew her. Nothing has ever been more inexplicable to me than the choice she made of a second husband. You never saw Annes step- father, Tom Chute, or you would be equally astonished. You saw him, my love, did you not?
Mrs. Daly laughed and answered in the affirmative.
It shewed indeed a singular taste said Mr. Daly. They tell a curious story too, about the manner of their courtship.
What was that sir? asked Kyrle, who felt a strong sympathetic interest in all stories connected with wooers and wooing.
I have it, I confess, upon questionable authority - but you shall hear it, such as it is - Now, look at that young thief! he added laughing, and directing Kyrles attention to one of the children, a chubby young fellow, who, having deserted the potato-eating corps at the side-table, was taking advantage of the deep interest excited by the conversation, to make a sudden descent upon the contents of the japanned bread basket. Perceiving that he was detected, the little fellow relaxed his fingers, and drew back a little, glancing, from beneath his eye-lashes, a half dismayed and bashful look at the laughing countenance of his parent.
Charles is not well to-day said the mother, in a compassionate tone, and cutting him a large wedge of her best home-made bread, which the lad began to demolish with a degree of rapidity that scarcely corroborated the assertion.
But the story sir? said Kyrle.
But the story - Well, little Tom Chute (he might have been better called little Tom-tit, only that he was not half so sprightly) was a very extraordinary man, for although he was small and fat, he was not merry, nor talkative. You would have pitied him to see him walking about a ball room with ruffles that looked like small buckles, and a queue half as long as himself, reminding one of the handle of a pump when the sucker is up - with the most forlorn aspect in the world, as if he were looking for a runaway wife. It was a curious anomaly in his character that although he - (Silence, there! my dear, will you speak to those children) - that although he always looked miserable in the midst of society, he really was so when out of it, as if the continued embarrassment and mortification which he experienced were a stimulus which he could not do without. Round, fat, shy, awkward, and oily, as he was, however, he tumbled his little rotund figure into the heart of Mrs. Trenchard, who was at that time, though a widow, one of the leading belles in Munster. A fair friend was the first to disclose this rapturous secret to poor Tom, for he might have known Mrs. Trenchard for a century without being able to make it out himself. He did not know whether he should be most frightened or pleased at the intelligence - but certain it is that in the warmth of his first feelings, he made a tender of his hand to the lady, and was instantly accepted. A dashing, handsome fellow who had been rejected by her some time before, and who knew Chutes irresolute temper, resolved to indemnify himself for the mortification he had received by throwing some embarrassment in the way of the nuptials, and effected it simply enough. It seems the ladys accomplishments were of a very general description, for besides playing the harpsichord to admiration, she could manage a horse with any hero of the County Club, and was known to join their hunting parties, and even to ride a steeple chase with eclat. Indeed it was generally admitted that she possessed more spirit than might have answered her purposes, or her husbands either. What fancy she could have taken to Tom Chute, I cannot for my life conceive. Well, this fellow met Tom going to her house one evening, as spruce as a water wagrail, with his queue poking up behind like the flag staff in the stern of a privateer. They got into conversation about the widow. Beautiful creature, isnt she? simpered Tom, blushing up to the eyes, for it was another funny foible of Toms, to redden up like a rose whenever there was any discourse of ladies; even when nobody dreamed of any thing like raillery. Beautiful creature, isnt she? says Tom. Beautiful indeed replied the other. And Tom stood on his toes, threw out his right elbow and took snuff. And accomplished, I think? And very sensible says the other. And lively says Tom. And high spirited says the other. So they say, her late husband found, poor man, to his cost. Tom dropped his jaw a little, and looked inquisitive. But the other, who saw that his business was done, declined all explanation, and hurried off with a concluding remark, that the lady was unquestionably a capital whip. Well, Tom got a sudden attack of - I dont know what complaint, went home that night, and sent an apology to the widow. He was not seen near her house for a fortnight after, and a report reached her ears that he had some notion of quitting the country. But if he had, she put a stop to it. One morning when Tom was looking over his books, he was startled by the apparition of a tall woman in a riding dress, with a horsewhip in one hand, and a case of duelling pistols in the other. She nodded to Tom. I understand said she -
At this moment, a potatoe peel, flung from the side-table, whisked past Mr. Dalys nose, and with happier aim, lighted on that of Prince Eugene in the print before mentioned. The venerable, but too little venerated, story teller, who had been for the last few minutes endeavouring to raise his voice, so as to make it audible above the encreasing uproar of the young people, now turned round, at this unparalleled and violent aggression, and confronted the daring group in awful silence. Satisfied, however, with the sudden hush of terror which this action occasioned, and willing to reserve the burst of wrath for a future transgression, he turned again in silence; and directing the servant girl who was in the room, to take the potatoe peel off Prince Eugenes nose, he resumed the thread of his narrative.
I understand, said Mrs. Trenchard - for it was no other than the widow - that you intend leaving Ireland? Tom stammered and hesitated. - If my brother were living, continued the lady, he would horsewhip you - but although he is not, Hetty Trenchard is able to fight her own way. Come, sir, my carriage is at the door below; either step into it with me this minute, or take one of those pistols, and stand at the other end of the room. Well, Tom looked as like a fool as any man in Ireland. He wouldnt fight, and he wouldnt be horsewhipped; so that the business ended in his going into the carriage and marrying the lady, some persons indeed insinuated that Tom was observed in the course of the day to chafe his shoulders two or three times with an expression of pain, as if his change of condition had been the result of a still harsher mode of reasoning than I have mentioned; but this part of the story is without foundation.
What a bold creature! said the gentle Mrs. Daly.
And is it possible, sir, asked Kyrle, that this amazon is the kind old lady whom Anne Chute attends with so much affection and tenderness in her infirmity?
Ah, ha! Kyrle, I see the nature of the bolt that has wounded you, and I like you the better for it, my boy. A good face is a pippin that grows on every hedge, but a good heart, that is to say, a well regulated one, is the apple of the Hesperides, worth even the risk of ease and life itself.
Kyrle assented to this sagacious aphorism with a deep sigh.
Are the Cregans and they on terms now? asked Mrs. Daly.
As much on terms as two families of such opposite habits can be. The Chutes invite the Cregans to a family dinner once or twice in the year, and the Cregans ask the Chutes to their Killarney cottage; both of which invitations are taken as French compliments, and never accepted. Cregan himself hates going to Castle Chute, because he has nobody there to make the jovial night with him, and young Hardress (your friend, Kyrle,) is too wild a lad to confine himself to mere drawing room society. Apropos, talk of -, tis a vulgar proverb, and let it pass; but there goes his trim pleasure boat, the Nora Creina, flying down the river, and there sits the youth himself, tiller in hand, as usual. Patcy, bring me the telescope; I think I see a female dress on board.
The telescope was brought, and adjusted to the proper focus, while a dozen eager faces were collected about the small window, one over another, in the manner of those groups in painting called Studies of Heads.
That is he, indeed, continued Mr. Daly, resting the glass on the window-frame, and directing it towards the object of their attention - there is no mistaking that dark and handsome face, buried up as it is in his huge oiled penthouse hat, and there is his hunch-backed boatman, Danny Mann, or Danny the Lord, as the people call him since his misfortune, tending the foresheet in the bow. But that female - there is a female there, unquestionably, in a blue mantle, with the hood brought low over her eyes, sitting on the ballast. Who can she be?
Perhaps, Danny Manns cousin, Cotch Coonerty? said Mrs. Daly.
Or some western dealing woman who has come up to Limerick to purchase a reinforcement of pins, needles, whiskey, and Reading-made-easys, for her village counter, and is getting a free passage home from young master Hardress.
Like enough, like enough; it is just his way. - Hillo! the fellow is going to run down that fishing cot, I believe!
A hoarse cry of Bear away! Hold up your hand! was heard from the water; and reiterated with the addition of a few expletives, which those who know the energy of a boatmans dialect will understand without our transcribing them here. The pleasure-boat, however; heedless of those rough remonstrances, and apparently indisposed to yield any portion of her way, still held her bowsprit close to the wind, and sailed on, paying no more regard to the peril of the plebeian craft, than a French aristocrat of the vielle cour might be supposed to exhibit for that of a sans culottes about to be trodden down by his leaders in the Rue St. Honoré. The fishermen, with many curses, backed water; and put about as rapidly as possible; but without being able to avoid the shock of the Nora Creina, who just touched their stern with sufficient force to make the cot dart forward nearly an oars length through the water; and to lay the rowers sprawling on their backs in the bottom. Fortunately the wind, which had sprung up with the returning tide, was not sufficiently strong to render the concussion more dangerous.
Like his proud mother in every feature, said Mr. Daly - Is it not singular that while we were speaking of the characters of the family, he could not pass our window without furnishing us with a slight specimen of his own. See how statelily the fellow turns round and contemplates the confusion he has occasioned. There is his mothers grandeur blended with the hair-brained wildness and idle spirit of his father.
Hardress Cregans is the handsomest boat in the river, said Patcy, a stout sunburnt boy - She beat all the Galway hookers from this to Beale. What a nice green hull! - and white sails and beautiful green colours flying over her peak and gaff-topsail! Oh! how Id like to be steering her!
Mr. Daly winked at his wife, and whispered her that he had known Rear-Admirals come of smaller beginnings. Mrs. Daly, with a little shudder, replied that she should not wish to see him a Rear-Admiral, the navy was so dangerous a service. Her husband, in order to sooth her, observed that the danger was not very near at hand.
In the meantime, Hardress Cregan became a subject of vehement debate at the side-table, to which the juvenile squadron had returned. One fair haired little girl declared that she was his pet. A second claimed that distinction for herself.
He gave me an ODell-cake when he was last here, said one.
And me a stick of peppermint.
He gave me a ... in a whisper - a kiss.
And me two.
He didnt ...
Ill tell dadda it was you threw the potatoe peel while ago.
Ah ha, tattler-tell-tale!
Silence there! fie! fie! what words are these? said Mrs. Daly, come, kiss and be friends, now, both of you and let me hear no more.
The young combatants complied with her injunction, and, as the duelling paragraphs say, the affair terminated amicably.
But I was speaking, Mr. Daly resumed, of the family pride of the Cregans. It was once manifested by Hardresss father in a manner that might make an Englishman smile. When their little Killarney property was left to the Cregans, amongst many other additional pieces of display that were made on the occasion, it behoved Mr. Barny Cregan to erect a family vault and monument in his parish churchyard. He had scarcely however given directions for its construction when he fell ill of a fever, and was very near enjoying the honour of hanselling the new cemetery himself. But he got over the fit, and made it one of his first cares to saunter out as far as the church, and inspect the mansion which had been prepared for his reception. It was a handsome Gothic monument occupying a retired corner of the churchyard, and shadowed over by a fine old sycamore. But Barny, who had no taste for the picturesque, was deeply mortified at finding his piece of sepulchral finery thrown so much into the shade. What did I or my people do, he said to the architect, that we should be sent skulking into that corner? I paid my money and Ill have my own value for it. The monument was accordingly got rid of, and a sporting, flashy one erected opposite the gateway with the Cregan crest and shield (in what heralds office it was picked up I cannot take upon me to say,) emblazoned on the frontispiece. Here, it is to be hoped, the aspiring Barnaby and his posterity may one day rest in peace.
That would be a vain hope, I fear, said Kyrle, at least so far as Mr. Cregan is concerned, if it were true, as our peasantry believe, that the churchyard is frequently made a scene of midnight mirth and revel, by those whose earthly carousals are long concluded. But what relationship is there between that family and Mrs. Chute?
She is step sister to Mrs. Cregan.
Indeed? So near?
Most veritable, therefore look to it. They tell a story ... But the talkative old gentleman was interrupted in his anecdotical career by the entrance of a new actor on the scene.