Kate O'Brien, Without My Cloak (1930)

Without My Cloak (NY: Doubleday Doran 1931). 469pp. [ woodcuts by Freda Bone]

[John Considine] His forage trade expanded, in spite of fluctuations ofhis luck, and before he was fifty he had to be accepted, however reluctantly, in mellick, as an important citizen. He possesssed the more ordinary civic virtues; he was sober and honetst, moderately generous, and with a sufficiency of local patriotism; he was proude to be a Catholic in days when that was not easy; and he always showed the courage of his rather staid opinions. He had only one enthusiasm and that was for Daniel O'Connell, “the Liberator”, as he unfailingly called him. After O'Connell's death he lost such interest as he had had in national afairs, and watched them, and the affairs of all the world, merely for their material reactions on his business and family. Political agitators, Ribbonmen, Young ireilanders, and such like filled him with rage, and he wa not shy about cursing them when he got the chance. The Potato Blight concerned him chiefly in that it was disastrous to his trade; the Crimean War brought back prosperity and was remembered with affection. During the Indian Mutiny he was vagely and sardonically amused at what he guessed of England's difficulties, but his native inclination always to think and act as an Irishman was perpetually impeded by a secret sentimental tendency to admire the sturdy little Queen. He inclined to like Mr. Gladstone better than Mr. Cobden, and he distructes Lord Palmerston in all things. He was a hard mater, a good Chruchman, and an affectionate father - undemonstrative with his sons, but genial and courteous to his daughters. And as with every years his respectability rew in the town, so with every year he learnt to take a greater pride in theaccident of his surname. To be a Considine seemed to Honest John a very special and magnificent resonsibility. And all his children had grown up to agree with him. [15]

Anthony, whose father thought him an encyclopaedia of culture, had had, even my mellick standards, only a very average education, and perhaps the world beyond mellick would have said that he was not educated at all. The Christian Brothers did their best for him, and did it firmly, leather strap in hand, but, emerging wearily from penal laws and hedgemastering, had little time to mince round the fine arts with their pupils. So, whether for ereasons of nature or education or both, Anthony, brightest in his class at reading and writing and arithmetic, and more susceptible than most men to the beauty of women, of old simple songs and of the rivered landscape he was born in, had, as they say, no taste. [22]

Anthony Considine’s new house: ‘There were three storeys of this house in front, and four at the back, where Mr. Downey allowed to servant’s quarters to get the light of day. It fronted westward, throwing out its pathetic new colour across the curving waters, to streaky old bogs and wine bloom of the Bearnagh hills. [23]

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