The Editor had flattered himself that the ingenious contrivance which Thady records, and the similar subterfuge of this old Irishman, in the dispute concerning boundaries, were instances of ’cuteness unparalleled in all but Irish story: an English friend, however, has just mortified the Editor’s national vanity by an account of the following custom, which prevails in part of Shropshire. It is discreditable for women to appear abroad after the birth of their children till they have been churched. To avoid this reproach, and at the same time to enjoy the pleasure of gadding, whenever a woman goes abroad before she has been to church, she takes a tile from the roof of her house, and puts it upon her head: wearing this panoply all the time she pays her visits, her conscience is perfectly at ease; for she can afterwards safely declare to the clergyman, that she ’has never been from under her own roof till she came to be churched.’
—Thady means cartron, and half-cartron. According to the old record in the black book of Dublin, a CANTRED is said to contain 30 VILLATAS TERRAS, which are also called quarters of land (quarterons, CARTRONS); every one of which quarters must contain so much ground as will pasture 400 cows, and 17 plough-lands. A knight’s fee was composed of 8 hydes, which amount to 160 acres, and that is generally deemed about a plough-land.’
The Editor was favoured by a learned friend with the above extract, from a Ms. of Lord Totness’s in the Lambeth library.
—A wake in England means a festival held upon the anniversary of the saint of the parish. At these wakes, rustic games, rustic conviviality, and rustic courtship, are pursued with all the ardour and all the appetite which accompany such pleasures as occur but seldom. In Ireland a wake is a midnight meeting, held professedly for the indulgence of holy sorrow, but usually it is converted into orgies of unholy joy. When an Irish man or woman of the lower order dies, the straw which composed the bed, whether it has been contained in a bag to form a mattress, or simply spread upon the earthen floor, is immediately taken out of the house, and burned before the cabin door, the family at the same time setting up the death howl. The ears and eyes of the neighbours being thus alarmed, they flock to the house of the deceased, and by their vociferous sympathy excite and at the same time soothe the sorrows of the family.