Castle Rackrent eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 136 pages of information about Castle Rackrent.
of humanity, but it does not, as some imagine, cost nothing.  The time spent in attending funerals may be safely valued at half a million to the Irish nation; the Editor thinks that double that sum would not be too high an estimate.  The habits of profligacy and drunkenness which are acquired at wakes are here put out of the question.  When a labourer, a carpenter, or a smith, is not at his work, which frequently happens, ask where he is gone, and ten to one the answer is—­’Oh, faith, please your honour, he couldn’t do a stroke to-day, for he’s gone to the funeral.’

Even beggars, when they grow old, go about begging for their own funerals that is, begging for money to buy a coffin, candles, pipes, and tobacco.  For the use of the candles, pipes, and tobacco, see wake.

Those who value customs in proportion to their antiquity, and nations in proportion to their adherence to ancient customs, will doubtless admire the Irish Ullaloo, and the Irish nation, for persevering in this usage from time immemorial.  The Editor, however, has observed some alarming symptoms, which seem to prognosticate the declining taste for the Ullaloo in Ireland.  In a comic theatrical entertainment, represented not long since on the Dublin stage, a chorus of old women was introduced, who set up the Irish howl round the relics of a physician, who is supposed to have fallen under the wooden sword of Harlequin.  After the old women have continued their Ullaloo for a decent time, with all the necessary accompaniments of wringing their hands, wiping or rubbing their eyes with the corners of their gowns or aprons, etc., one of the mourners suddenly suspends her lamentable cries, and, turning to her neighbour, asks, ‘Arrah now, honey, who is it we’re crying for?’

GLOSSARY 4.  THE TENANTS WERE SENT AWAY WITHOUT THEIR WHISKY.

—­It is usual with some landlords to give their inferior tenants a glass of whisky when they pay their rents.  Thady calls it their whisky; not that the whisky is actually the property of the tenants, but that it becomes their right after it has been often given to them.  In this general mode of reasoning respecting rights the lower Irish are not singular, but they are peculiarly quick and tenacious in claiming these rights.  ’Last year your honour gave me some straw for the roof of my house and I expect your honour will be after doing the same this year.’  In this manner gifts are frequently turned into tributes.  The high and low are not always dissimilar in their habits.  It is said, that the Sublime Ottoman Forte is very apt to claim gifts as tributes:  thus it is dangerous to send the Grand Seignor a fine horse on his birthday one year, lest on his next birthday he should expect a similar present, and should proceed to demonstrate the reasonableness of his expectations.

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Castle Rackrent from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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