The Absentee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about The Absentee.
consequences were such as Lady Dashfort delighted to point out; everything let to go to ruin for the want of a moment’s care, or pulled to pieces for the sake of the most trifling surreptitious profit; the people most assisted always appearing proportionally wretched and discontented.  No one could, with more ease and more knowledge of her ground, than Lady Dashfort, do the dishonour of a country.  In every cabin that she entered, by the first glance of her eye at the head, kerchiefed in no comely guise, or by the drawn-down corners of the mouth, or by the bit of a broken pipe, which in Ireland never characterises Stout labour, or by the first sound of the voice, the drawling accent on ‘your honour,’ or, ‘my lady,’ she could distinguish the proper objects of her charitable designs, that is to say, those of the old uneducated race, whom no one can help, because they will never help themselves.  To these she constantly addressed herself, making them give, in all their despairing tones, a history of their complaints and grievances; then asking them questions, aptly contrived to expose their habits of self-contradiction, their servility and flattery one moment, and their litigious and encroaching spirit the next:  thus giving Lord Colambre the most unfavourable idea of the disposition and character of the lower class of the Irish people.

Lady Isabel the while standing by, with the most amiable air of pity, with expressions of the finest moral sensibility, softening all her mother said, finding ever some excuse for the poor creatures, and following with angelic sweetness to heal the wounds her mother inflicted.

When Lady Dashfort thought she had sufficiently worked upon Lord Colambre’s mind to weaken his enthusiasm for his native country, and when Lady Isabel had, by the appearance of every virtue, added to a delicate preference, if not partiality, for our hero, ingratiated herself into his good opinion and obtained an interest in his mind, the wily mother ventured an attack of a more decisive nature; and so contrived it was, that, if it failed, it should appear to have been made without design to injure, and in total ignorance.

One day, Lady Dashfort, who in fact was not proud of her family, though she pretended to be so, had herself prevailed on, though with much difficulty, by Lady Killpatrick, to do the very thing she wanted to do, to show her genealogy, which had been beautifully blazoned, and which was to be produced as evidence in the lawsuit that brought her to Ireland.  Lord Colambre stood politely looking on and listening, while her ladyship explained the splendid inter-marriages of her family, pointing to each medallion that was filled gloriously with noble, and even with royal names, till at last she stopped short, and covering one medallion with her finger, she said—­

’Pass over that, dear Lady Killpatrick.  You are not to see that, Lord Colambre—­that’s a little blot in our scutcheon.  You know, Isabel, we never talk of that prudent match of great-uncle John’s; what could he expect by marrying into that family, where you know all the men were not Sans PEUR, and none of the women Sans REPROCHE.’

Project Gutenberg
The Absentee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook