Valentine M'Clutchy, The Irish Agent eBook

Valentine M'Clutchy, The Irish Agent by William Carleton

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section Page

Start of eBook1
PREFACE1
CHAPTER I.—­An Irish Pair and Spoileen Tent3
CHAPTER II.—­Birth and Origin of Mr. M’Clutchy16
CHAPTER III.—­Solomon M’Slime, a Religious Attorney25
CHAPTER IV.—­Poll Doolin, the Child Cadger31
CHAPTER V.—­A Mysterious Meeting40
CHAPTER VI.—­The Life and Virtues of an Irish Absentee49
CHAPTER VII.—­Reflections on Absenteeism70
CHAPTER VIII.—­Poverty and Sorrow88
CHAPTER IX.—­A Dialogue, exhibiting Singular Principles of Justice109
CHAPTER X.—­A Dutiful Grandson and a Respectable Grandmother124
CHAPTER XI.—­Darby and Solomon at Prayer138
CHAPTER XII.—­Interview between Darby and Mr. Lucre161
CHAPTER XIII.—­Darby’s Brief Retirement from Public Life.175
CHAPTER XIV.—­Poll Doolin’s Honesty, and Phil’s Gallantry179
CHAPTER XV.—­Objects of an English Traveller189
CHAPTER XVI.—­Solomon in Trouble201
CHAPTER XVII.—­A Moral Survey, or a Wise Man led by a Fool211
CHAPTER XVIII.—­An Execution by Val’s Blood-Hounds225
GENERAL DECLARATION OF THE OBJECTS OF THE ORANGE INSTITUTION.238
CHAPTER XIX.—­An Orange Lodge at Full Work244
CHAPTER XX.—­Sobriety and Loyalty254
CHAPTER XXI.—­Darby’s Piety Rewarded261
CHAPTEK XXII.—–­Castle Cumber Grand Jury Room266
CHAPTER XXIII.—­A Rent Day279
CHAPTEK XXIV.—­Raymond’s Sense of Justice299
CHAPTER XXV.—­Val and his Son brought to Trial308
CHAPTER XXVI.—­Harman’s Interview with Mary M’Loughlin316
CHAPTER XXVII.—­Bob Beatty’s Last Illness323
CHAPTER XXVIII.—­Darby is a Spiritual Ganymede328
CHAPTER XXIX.—­Solomon Suffers a Little Retribution345
CHAPTER XXX.—­The Mountain Grave-Yard369
CHAPTER XXXI.—­Richard Topertoe and his Brother380

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PREFACE

It was not my intention to have written any Preface to this book, but to have allowed it simply to speak for itself.  As it is very likely, however, that both it and the motives of its author may be misrepresented by bigoted or venal pens, I think it necessary to introduce it to the reader by a few brief observations.  In the first place, then, I beg to say, that the work presents phases of Irish life and manners that have never been given to the public before by any other writer upon the same subject.  So far, therefore, the book is a perfectly new book—­not only to the Irish people, but also to the English and Scotch.  I know not whether the authenticity of the facts and descriptions contained in it may be called in question; but this I do know, that there is not an honest man, on either side, who has lived in the north of Ireland, and reached the term of fifty years, who will not recognize the conduct and language of the northern Orangemen as just, truthful, and not one whit exaggerated.  To our friends across the Channel it is only necessary to say, that I was born in one of the most Orange counties in Ireland (Tyrone)—­that the violence and licentious abuses of these armed civilians were perpetrated before my eyes—­and that the sounds of their outrages may be said still to ring in my ears.

I have written many works upon Irish life, and up to the present day the man has never lived who could lay his finger upon any passage of my writings, and say “that is false.”  I cannot, however, avoid remarking here, that within the last few years, a more enlarged knowledge of life, and a more matured intercourse with society, have enabled me to overcome many absurd prejudices with which I was imbued.  Without compromising, however, the truth or integrity of any portion of my writings, I am willing to admit, which I do frankly, and without hesitation, that I published in my early works passages which were not calculated to do any earthly good; but, on the contrary, to give unnecessary offence to a great number of my countrymen.  It is due to myself to state this, and to say, that in the last edition of my works I have left as many of these passages out as I readily could, without diminishing the interest, or disturbing the narrative.

A fortiori, then, this book may be considered as full of truth and fidelity as any I have ever written:  and I must say, that in writing it I have changed no principle whatsoever.  I am a liberal Conservative, and, I trust, a rational one; but I am not, nor ever was, an Orangeman; neither can I endure their exclusive and arrogant assumption of loyalty, nor the outrages which it has generated.  In what portion of my former writings, for instance, did I ever publish a line in their favor, or in favor of any secret and illegal confederacy?

Again, with regard to the Landlords and Agents, have I not written a tale called the “Poor Scholar,” and another called “Tubber Derg”? in both of which their corruptions and oppressions are exposed.  Let it not be mistaken.  The two great curses of Ireland are bad Landlords and bad Agents, and in nineteen cases out of every twenty, the origin of the crime lies with the Landlord or Agent, instead of the tenant.

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With respect to the Established Church of forty years ago, if there is any man living who asserts that I have not under-drawn her, rather than otherwise, he is less intimate with truth than I could wish.  On this subject I challenge and defy inquiry.  I grant you she is much changed for the better now; but yet there is much to be done in her still.  It is true Irishmen at present get Mitres, a fact which was unknown forty years ago.  We have now more Evangelicism, and consequently more sleekness and hypocrisy, more external decorum, and, I would also trust, more internal spirituality.  We have now many eminent and pious Prelates in the Church, whose admirable example is enough even to shame the Clergymen under them into a sense of their duty.  It is to be wished that we had many more such as they, for they are wanted.  The Irish Evangelical party are certainly very numerous, and they must pardon me a slight anachronism or two regarding them, concerning what has been termed the Modern Reformation in these volumes.  Are those who compose this same party, by the way, acquainted with their own origin?  If not, I will tell them.  They were begotten by the active spirit of the Church of Rome, upon their own establishment, when she was asleep; so that they owe their very existence to those whom they look upon as their enemies:  and if it were only for this reason alone, there ought to be more peace between them.  In England the same spirit has effected a similar seduction on that Establishment, but with this difference, that the Puseyites are a much more obedient and dutiful progeny than the Irish Evangelicals—­inasmuch as they have the grace to acknowledge the relationship.

This book was written to exhibit a useful moral to the country.  It will startle, I humbly trust, many a hard-hearted Landlord and flagitious Agent into a perception of their duty, and it will show the negligent and reckless Absentee how those from whose toils and struggles he derives his support, are oppressed, and fleeced, and trampled on in his name.

It will also teach the violent and bigoted Conservative—­or, in other words, the man who still inherits the Orange sentiments of past times—­a lesson that he ought not to forget.  It will also test the whole spirit of modern Conservatism, and its liberality.  If there be at the press, or anywhere else, a malignant bigot, with great rancor and little honesty, it is very likely he will attack my book; and this, of course, he is at liberty to do.  I deny, however, that modern Conservatism is capable of adopting or cherishing the outrages which disgraced the Orangemen of forty years ago, or even of a later period.  And for this reason I am confident that the Conservative Press of Ireland will not only sustain me, but fight my battles, if I shall be ungenerously attacked.  Let them look upon these pictures, and if it ever should happen that arms and irresponsible power shall be entrusted to them, perhaps the recollection of their truth may teach them a lesson of forbearance and humanity toward those that differ from them in creed, that may be of important service to our common country.  If so, I shall have rendered a service to that country, which, as is usual, may probably be recognized as valuable, when perhaps my bones are mouldering in the clay, and my ear insensible to all such acknowledgments.

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As for, myself, I have been so completely sickened by the bigoted on each side, that I have come to the determination, as every honest Irishman ought, of knowing no party but my country, and of devoting such talents as God has given me, to the promotion of her general interests, and the happiness of her whole people.

Dublin, December 24, 1844.

CHAPTER I.—­An Irish Pair and Spoileen Tent

—­A Marriage Proposal—­An Under Agent—­An Old Irish Squire and Union Lord.

The town of Castle Cumber it is not our intention to describe at more length than simply to say, that it consists of two long streets, intersecting each other, and two or three lanes of cabins—­many of them mud ones—­that stretch out of it on each side at right angles.  This street, and these straggling appendages, together with a Church, a Prison, a Court-house, a Catholic chapel, a few shops, and half a dozen public houses, present to the spectator all the features that are generally necessary for the description of that class of remote country towns of which we write.  Indeed, with the exception of an ancient Stone Cross, that stands in the middle of the street, and a Fair green, as it is termed, or common, where its two half-yearly fairs are held, and which lies at the west end of it, there is little or nothing else to be added.  The fair I particularly mention, because on the day on which the circumstances I am about to describe occurred, a fair was held in the town, and upon the green in question.  The month was December—­the day stormy and unpropitious.  There had been a deep snow and hard frost for nearly three weeks before; but now the aspect of the white earth contrasted wildly with the large masses of black clouds which hung motionless in the air, and cast a dark and gloomy spirit not only over the appearance of inanimate nature, but into the heart of man himself.

About noon, just when the whole fair had been assembled, the storm commenced with wind, sleet, and rain.  Never was a more striking or unexpected change produced.  Women tucked up, nearly to the knees, their garments, soaked with wet, clinging to their bodies and limbs, as if a part of themselves—­men drenched and buttoned up to the chin—­all splashing through the slippery streets, their shoes spouting with snow-broth—­the falling of tents—­the shouting against the loudness of the storm, in order to be heard—­the bleating of sheep, lowing of cattle, the deafening and wild hum of confused noises—­all, when added to the roaring of the sweeping blast, the merciless pelting of the rain, and the inclement character of the whole day, presented a scene that was tempestuous and desolate beyond belief.  Age, decrepid and shivering—­youth, benumbed and stiffened with cold—­rich and poor, man and woman, all had evidently but one object in view, and that was shelter.

Love, charity, amusement, business, were all either disappointed or forced to suspend their operations, at least for the present.  Every one ran or walked as quickly as possible, with the exception of some forenoon drunkard, who staggered along at his ease, with an eye half indolent and half stupid, careless, if not unconscious of the wild uproar, both elemental and otherwise, by which he was surrounded.

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Nay, the very beggars and impostors—­to whom, in general, severe weather on such occasions is a godsend, as it presents them to their fellow-creatures in a more pitiable aspect—­were glad to disperse.  In truth, the effect of the storm upon them was perfectly miraculous.  Many a poor creature, blind from birth or infancy, was gifted with, or restored to excellent sight; the maimed were suddenly cured—­the deaf made to hear—­the dumb to speak—­and the study baccagh, or cripple, bounded away, at the rate of six miles an hour, cursing the whole thing as a bad spec—­a dead failure.

Solemn assignations of long promise, rustic courtships, and earnest match-makings, were all knocked up, unless in case of those who availed themselves of the early part of the day.  Time and place, in fact, were completely forgotten by the parties, each being anxious only to secure the nearest and most commodious shelter.  Nay, though ashamed to write it, we are bound to confess that some of our countrymen were ungallant enough, on meeting with their sweethearts, fairly to give them the slip, or only to recognize them with a kind of dreary and equivocal salutation, that might be termed a cross between a wink and a shiver.  Others, however, gallantly and magnanimously set the tempest at defiance, or blessed their stars for sending them an opportunity of sitting so close to their fair inamoratas, in order that their loving pressure might, in some degree, aided by a glass of warm punch, compensate the sweet creatures for the unexpected drenching they had got.

It has been well observed, that there is no class of life in which instances of great virtue and fortitude may not be found; and the Justness of the apothegm was fully corroborated here.  Cold, bitter and tempestuous and terrible as was the day, amidst rain, wind, sleet, and hail, there might be seen, in a thoroughfare about the centre of the town, a cripple, apparently paralytic from the middle down, seated upon the naked street, his legs stretched out before him, hirpling onward; by alternately twisting his miserable body from right to left; while, as if the softer sex were not to be surpassed in feats of hardihood or heroism, a tattered creature, in the shape of woman, without cap, shoe, or stocking, accompanied by two naked and shivering children, whose artificial lamentations were now lost in those of nature, proceeded up the street, in the very teeth of the beating tempest, attempting to sing some dismal ditty, with a voice which resembled the imagined shriekings of a ghoul, more than the accents of a human being.  These two were the only individuals who, in the true spirit of hardened imposture, braved all the fury of the elements in carrying out their principles—­so true is it, that a rogue will often advance farther in the pursuit of a knavish object, than an honest man will in the attainment of a just one.  To them may be added the poor fool of the town, Joe Lockhart, who, from his childhood, was known to be indifferent to all changes of weather, and who now, elated by the festive spirit of a fair day, moved about from place to place, without hat or shoe—­neither of which he ever wore—­just with as much indifference as if it had been a day in the month of June.

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If the inclemency of the day, however, was injurious to the general transaction of business, there was one class to whose interests it amply contributed—­I mean the publicans, and such as opened shebeen houses, or erected refreshment tents for the occasion.  In a great portion of Ireland there are to be found, in all fairs, what the people term spoileen tents—­that is, tents in which fresh mutton is boiled, and sold out, with bread and soup, to all customers.  I know not how it happens; but be the motive or cause what it may, scarcely any one ever goes into a spoileen tent, unless in a mood of mirth and jocularity.  To eat spoileen seriously, would be as rare a sight as to witness a wife dancing on her husband’s coffin.  It is very difficult, indeed, to ascertain the reason why the eating of fresh mutton in such circumstances is always associated with a spirit of strong ridicule and humor.  At all events, nothing can exceed the mirth that is always to be found among the parties who frequent such tents.  Fun, laughter, jest, banter, attack, and repartee fly about in all directions, and the only sounds heard are those of light-hearted noise and enjoyment.

Perhaps if the cause of this were closely traced, it might be found to consist in a sense of shame, which Paddy good humoredly attempts to laugh away.  It is well known that the great body of the people pass through life, without ever tasting beef or mutton—­a, circumstance which every one acquainted with the country knows to be true.  It is also a fact, that nineteen out of every twenty who go in to eat spoileen, are actuated more by curiosity than hunger, inasmuch as they consist of such persons as have never tasted it before.  This, therefore, being generally known, and each possessing latent consciousness of its truth, it is considered best to take the matter in good humor, and escape the shame of the thing, together with the poverty it implies, by turning it into ridicule and jest.  This indeed, is pretty evident, from the nature of the spoileen keeper’s observations on being paid, which is usually—­“Thank you, Barney; you may now considher yourself a gintleman;” or if a female—­“Long life to you, Bridget; you may now go into high life any time.”

It is unnecessary to say, that on the day in question, the spoileen tents were crowded to suffocation.  In general these are pretty large, sometimes one, occasionally two fires being kept in each; over these, placed upon three large stones, or suspended from three poles, united at top, is the pot or pots in which the spoileen is boiled; whilst patiently in a corner of the tent, stand the poor invalid sheep, that are doomed, as necessity may require, to furnish forth this humorous entertainment.

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Truth to tell, there are many reasons why this feast is a comic one.  In the first place, the description of mutton which they get is badly calculated to prejudice honest Paddy in favor of that food in general, it being’ well known that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the sacrifice falls upon disease, poverty, and extreme old age; or, if there be any manifestation of humanity in the selection, it is—­that while the tenderer sex is spared, the male one is in general certain to be made the victim, but never unless when he has been known to reach a most patriarchal length of years.  Then the suddenness of the act which converts a portion of the venerable patriarch into a component part of honest Paddy, is equally remarkable; for it generally happens that the animal now standing in a corner of the tent, will in about half an hour be undergoing the process of assimilation in his (Paddy’s) gastric region.  The elastic quality of the meat is indeed extraordinary, and such as, with the knowledge of that fact, does sometimes render Paddy’s treat of spoileen to his sweetheart an act of very questionable gallantry.  Be this as it may, there is scarcely anything in life richer than to witness a tent of spoileen eaters in full operation.  Tugging, pulling, dragging, tearing, swinging of the head from side to side, want of success, loss of temper, fatigue of jaw, recovery of good humor, and the wolfish rally, mingled with mock curses, loud laughter, shouting and singing, all going on together, are the ordinary characteristics of this most original banquet.

About the centre of the town stood one of those houses of entertainment which holds rank in such towns as a second rate inn.  On the day in question it was painfully overcrowded, and such was the hubbub of loud talk, laughter, singing, roaring, clattering of pewter pots, and thumping of tables, that it was almost impossible to hear or understand anything in the shape of conversation.  To this, however, there was one exception.  A small closet simply large enough to hold a table, and two short forms, opened from a room above stairs looking into the stable yard.  In this there was a good fire, at which sat two men, being, with a bed and small table, nearly as many as it was capable of holding with ease.

One of these was a stout, broad-shouldered person, a good deal knock-kneed, remarkably sallow in the complexion, with brows black and beetling.  He squinted, too, with one eye, and what between this circumstance, a remarkably sharp but hooked nose, and the lowering brows aforesaid, there was altogether about him a singular expression of acuteness and malignity.  In every sense he was a person against whom you would feel disposed to guard yourself, whether in the ordinary intercourse of life and its transactions, or still more in the secret workings of the darker and more vindictive passions.  He was what they call a down-looking man; that is, one who in conversation could never look you straight in the face, which fact, together with a habit of quivering observable in his upper lip, when any way agitated, gave unquestionable proof that his cowardice was equal to his malignity, as his treachery was to both.  His age might be about fifty, or, perhaps beyond it.

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The other was a tall man, well featured, of a clear fresh complexion, a fine blue eye, and altogether, a kind, benevolent expression of countenance.  He had been rather stout, but not robust, and might, perhaps, at the time we write of, be about the same age as his companion.  He was evidently a man of respectability, well dressed, not badly educated, and on the present occasion wore good broadcloth and top boots.  The contrast between him and the other, was in nothing more striking than the honest, joyous spirit of his laughter, which rang clearly and mellowly on your ear, leaving behind it an expression of candor, light-heartedness, and good nature, that could not be mistaken.  “It’s idle talk to speak about going such a day as this,” observed the beetle-browed man, who stirred up the fire with something that passed for a poker, in reply; “and to tell you the truth, upon my credit, Mr. M’Loughlin, I’m not sorry that we happened to meet.  You’re a man I’ve a sincere regard for, and always had—­and on that account—­well have something more to drink.”  So saying, he stamped upon the floor, which, was exactly over the bar, in order that some one might attend them with the liquor.

“I’m obliged to you, Val,” replied his companion dryly, “for your good opinion of me; but at the same time, God forbid that I should ever deserve it—­eh? ha, ha, ha.  Well, well, let us have some drink, as you say, at all events; only it must be at my expense as well as the rest.  Well, sure enough, you were the devil’s whip-thong in your day, and if you haven’t repented yet, all I can say is, there is little time to lose, if you wish to have a bright look up at the last day”—­

“Ha, ha, go on, Mr. M’Loughlin, we all know you, the same pleasant fellow you ever were, and upon my credit, as good a companion as any one could sit with.  All I wish is that we had here more of the family on both sides, that the boys and girls might have something to whisper to one another.”

“I didn’t care we had, Val, my boy; but how on earth will we get home?  Indeed such a terrible day I’ve seldom seen, for many years.”

“Faith, it’s good to have a dry roof over our heads, and a warm fire before us, at any rate.  There’s many a poor half-drowned devil in the fair, would give a trifle to change places with us; there is, upon my credit.”

In a few minutes the refreshments came in, much to the satisfaction of the parties, who felt a strong sense of comfort, on contrasting the warmth of their snug little room with the uproar of the storm that raged without, and spent its fury upon the cold, bleak, and almost deserted streets.

“I am glad, indeed, Mr. M’Loughlin,” continued his companion, “that I happened to meet with you to-day—­you and I are now neighbors, and surely we ought to live like neighbors.”

“Well,” replied M’Loughlin dryly, “and don’t we do so?  You haven’t found me troublesome as a neighbor, have you?  Eh, Val, my man?”

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“No,” said the other, “certainly I have—­upon my credit I haven’t, an’ that’s what I complain of; neither you nor your family associate with me or mine.”

“Tut, Val, man,” replied M’Loughlin, still in the same dry, ironical tone as before, “surely it’s not long since you came to march us.  It’s only two years and a half since you wormed out the O’Hagans, then the farm lay near two years idle—­ay—­why, man, you’re not four months our neighbor yet.”

“No—­not all out; still, Mr. M’Loughlin, somehow you don’t treat me or my family as neighbors.  If you have to borrow anything, no matter what it is, you never come to me for it.  It was only the other day that you wanted a rope to pull that breeding mare of yours out of the drain—­and yet you sent past me near half a mile, up to Widow Lenehan’s to borrow it.”

“Heavens pity you, Val, for it’s a hard case; but every one has their troubles, and it seems you are not without your own, poor man—­eh—­ha! ha! ha!—­Well, never mind, my friend; you’re better off now for all that, than when you were only a process-server on the estate; however, I’ll tell you what, Val the Vulture—­you see I can be neighborly sometimes—­just let me know whenever you stand in need of a rope—­mark, I don’t say whenever you deserve it—­and may I never taste worse liquor than this, but you shall have it with right good will, hoping still that you’ll make a proper use of it—­ha! ha! ha!  Come, man, in the mean time take your liquor, an’ don’t look as if you’d eat me without salt; for I tell you if you tried it, you’d find Brian M’Loughlin a tougher morsel than you imagine.”

“If anybody else spoke to me in the style you do, Brian, I’d not be apt to overlook it; upon my credit and reputation I would not.”

“No, but you’d look round it may be, ha! ha! ha! but go on, Vulture, who minds what I say?”

“Nobody, to be sure, because you make one laugh whether they will or not.”

“Faith, Vulture dear, and that’s what nobody can tax you with; or if you do, it’s on the wrong side of the mouth you do it—­and they say that same is but indifferent mirth, Val.”

“I wish, Brian, you would sometimes speak seriously, and besides, you’re always hard, too hard, upon me.  Anything I did harshly, it was always in the discharge of my duty.”

“Never mind, Val, the fewer of those old sores you rip up, the better for yourself—­I’m not going to put you through your catechism about them.  If you’re wise, let byegones be byegones; take that advice from me.  Whatever tricks you may have practised, you’re now a wealthy man, and for the same reason the world will help you forget them, if you keep your toe in your pump.”

“I am a wealthy man, and can set the world at defiance, if it goes to that; yes, Brian, a wealthier man than the world thinks—­and as I said, I defy it.”

“Faith, and you needn’t, for the world won’t put you to that trouble, at least a great part of it, if you were ten times the vulture you are, so long as you have a full purse.  Eh, do you perceive me? ha! ha! ha!”

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“Well, damn the devil, heaven pardon me for swearing, for it’s a thing I hate——­”

“——­And yet, many a fat oath you’ve bolted in your time.  Now on the nick of your conscience, Val darling, how many Bibles did you wear out, by a long and honest course of hard swearing?—­eh—­ha! ha! ha!”

“Ha! ha! ha!  Brian, I see there is little use in speaking to you, or being angry with you; you are a devilish pleasant hearty fellow, only something a little too rough about the tongue.”

“Never mind, Val, by all accounts it would be easy to reckon them; but seriously, is it true that the lower joint of your right thumb is horny, in consequence of having caught the character of your conscience from having kissed it so often?”

“Go on, Brian, go on; to be sure it is; they may say what they like—­I am not depending upon them, and I care little.  But now, Brian, there is one thing I will say, and I have long wished for an opportunity of saying it.”

“That’s my bully, out with it; don’t be dashed, Val, you’ll get over your modesty; upon my credit you will—­ha! ha! ha!”

“D—­n it, you can’t be serious for a minute; but no matter, I will out with it—­here’s your health and fireside, in the mean time!” Brian merely nodded in reply, but said nothing.  “Now you know, Brian, your farm and mine lie very snugly beside one another; observe that that’s what I begin with.”

“Very good.”

“Again, your family and mine live very close to one another, too.”

“Very good.”

“Now, what if part of the farms, and part of the families were to become united, and get spliced together, eh?”

“Very good, very good.”

“Well, but do you really think so, Brian?”

“Go on, if you please, and let us hear more of it; state your case, as you say at the sessions.”

“Well, then, there’s your daughter Mary, a handsome girl, and, by all accounts, as good as she is handsome—­and there’s my son Phil, who, excepting the cast (* Squint)—­is—­but, at any rate, if he’s no beauty, he’s a stout young fellow, for you know yourself that that little closeness about the knees is always a sign of strength.”

“That little closeness, Val!—­why, Vulture darling, isn’t one knee sugar candy, and the other licking it?—­but go on, it’s not bad for so far, go on; upon my credit it’s not.”

“I am glad you like it for so far—­then seriously, what would you think of a marriage between them?”

“Devil a prettier move you could make, Val.  As you say, the farms and the families lie convenient to one another—­and I don’t see what’s to prevent your proposal from being realized.  You’ll do well for Phil, of course—­for although he has the squint in both eyes, instead of only in one, like yourself—­and is twisted very much about the knees, more than you are a good deal—­still, Val—­neighbor Val, as I now may call you—­he is a stout, left-legged, round-shouldered blade; and I question whether the red poll does not become him better than a black one like yours would.”

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“Why I grant you, Brian, that he looks better on horseback than on foot, and when mounted on ‘Handsome Harry,’ with top-boots and spurs, it’s not on every highway you could meet his equal.”

“Devil a lie in that, Val—­nor a boy better made to ride or shoot round a corner you could not meet in Europe—­but never mind; go on, Val—­go on, my friend; no, faith, on hill or in hollow, it would not be easy to match him.”

“He’d make an excellent good husband.”

“He would not be your son if he did not—­well?”

“Well, as to that, if the truth was known, I know where the blame would lie—­your daughter will not be the shrew and scold to him that my blister was to me—­upon my credit she won’t.”

“Devil, a lie in that either, Val—­well, well—­oh!  I’ll take my oath she won’t.”

“I don’t see why he and she might not be very happy together—­you are able to do handsomely for her, as report goes.”

“And willing, Val, and a bad father I’d be, if I were not.”

“Well then, Brian, so far all looks fair, and devilish glad I am that I broached the thing at once.  I have been thinking of it ever since I came to the neighborhood—­upon my credit I have.”.

“Faith, and so am I glad of it—­but what’s to be done next, Val darling?”

“Why the less time that’s lost upon it the better—­we must bring the youngsters together till they get acquainted—­then we can have another meeting, and settle the match out of hand.  Did you ever see Phil on ‘Handsome Harry?’”

“Didn’t I?—­to be sure I did—­and upon my word, Val, he’s a credit to the horse he rides, as the horse is to him—­a comely couple they are in truth.  But, Val, or neighbor Val, as I now may call you, don’t you think it would be better to wind up this business now that our hand’s in for it?  Let us hear what you’ll do, and I’ll follow you on my part, for there’s no use in losing time about it—­upon my credit there’s not.”

“What would you think, then, of the farm we’re in now—­that is, the O’Hagan property, as you call it?  Suppose I gave him that, what will you come down with for the girl?  I know it can’t be under three hundred—­come, say three hundred, and it’s a match.”

“Three hundred!  Oh!  Val, you’re too soft—­too moderate—­too mild—­indeed you are—­why three hundred would be nothing against the O’Hagan property, as you call it—­and, indeed, I don’t intend to put my daughter off under five hundred, and that’s nearly double what three is—­eh, Val, what do you say, upon your credit now?”

“Faith, I’ll not quarrel with you if you make it six or eight.”

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“Well now,” said M’Loughlin, rising up, whilst his honest features were lit with indignation, “this joke or this impudence on your part, has gone far enough—­listen to me.  What did I or my family do, I ask my own conscience in the name of God—­what sin did we commit—­whom did we oppress—­whom did we rob—­whom did we persecute—­that a scoundrel like you, the bastard spawn of an unprincipled profligate, remarkable only for drunkenness, debauchery, and blasphemy—­what, I say, did I and my family do, that you, his son, who were, and are to this day, the low, mean, willing scourge of every oppressor, the agent of their crimes—­the instrument of their villianies—­you who undermined the honest man—­who sold and betrayed the poor man—­who deceived and misled the widow and her orphans, and rose upon their ruin—­who have robbed your employers as well as those you were employed against—­a double traitor—­steeped in treachery, and perjured a thousand times to the core of your black and deceitful heart—­what crime, I say again, did I or mine commit—­that we, whose name and blood has been without a stain for a thousand years, should suffer the insult that you now have offered Us—­eh, look me in the face now if you can, and answer me if you are able?”

M’Cloughlin as he concluded, calmly folded his arms, and looked at his companion resolutely but sternly.  The other, to do him justice, did certainly raise his head, and fix his evil eye upon him for a moment—­it dropped after a single glance; in truth, he quailed before M’Loughlin; his upper lip, as usual, quivered—­his brow lowered, and looked black as midnight, whilst all the rest of his face became the color of ashes.  In fact, that white smile, which is known to be the very emblem of cowardice and revenge, sat upon his countenance, stamping upon it at once the character of the spectre and the demon—­a being to be both feared and hated.

“Well, Brian M’Loughlin,” returned the other, “hear me.”

“Don’t dare to Brian me, sir,” returned M’Loughlin; “I’m a very humble man, and ought to be an humble man, for I know well what a sinner I am before God—­but for all that, and if it were against even religion itself—­I feel too proud to suffer you to speak to me as you do—­no—­don’t Brian me, but listen and let me show you what you are, and what you have been; I can’t say what you will be, that does not lie with any but God.”

“Well,” said M’Clutchy, “go on; I now can hear you, and what is more, I wish to hear you—­and whisper—­speak your worst.”

It is said, that both cowardice and despair have their courage, and it would appear from the manner and action of this man, that he now felt actuated by some vague feeling resembling that which we have described.  He rose up and said,

“Brian M’Loughlin, do you think I ever can forget this?”

“What do you mean by that,” said M’Loughlin, “look me in the face, I say, and tell me what you mean by it.  I’m a man, and an honest man, and there’s no treachery about me.”

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The sternness with which he spoke, made the other quail again.

“There was little in it,” he replied, in a rebuked but cold and malignant spirit; “I didn’t think you were so violent.  I bore a great deal from you this day, Mr. M’Louglin—­a great deal, indeed, and so patiently as I bore it too; upon my credit I did.”

M’Loughlin made no reply, but stamped on the floor, in order to bring up some person to whom he might pay the reckoning.

“You need not stamp,” said the other, “this is my share of the reckoning.”

“Your share, no:  I told you before, it must not be yours.  I wouldn’t have it said, that bit or sup, paid for by your ill-gotten wealth, should ever cross my lips—­no, no.”

The waiter, or rather waitress, a red-haired, barefooted wench, now came up.

“Here,” said M’Loughlin, “take the refreshments we’ve had last out of that, and keep the change to yourself.  I have settled what we’ve had before, as well as this.”

“And why not allow me to settle for this?” asked M’Clutchy.

“Because,” replied this honest and respectable man, “I could not swallow a thimbleful of anything paid for by your money; what is it?  If I did I would dream for weeks of all that you have done, or if I didn’t dream, the sorrows and the wrongs of my near relative, Widow O’Hagan and her family, would prevent me from sleeping; the Kellys that you’ve driven to beggary—­The Gormleys that you got put out—­good God! and who now holds their places?  Your own cousin.  It’s useless, however, to mention all you’ve done.  You, Val the Vulture, as the people call you, are one of those scourges that rise and flourish upon the distresses of the poor, and the injustice that you yourself bring upon them by your falsehood and calumny; and all because the property they live on is neglected by those who have a right to look after it.  Ay, there is another of your white and cowardly laughs.  Well, you know that there is not a neglected estate in the country but can produce another vulture like yourself, playing the same heartless pranks upon the poor people—­tying, misrepresenting, swaggering over and robbing them, and that, too, in the open face of day, merely because you think there is no one to bring you to an account.

“Now go home,” he added, “and when next you want to get a wife for your spanking son, that’s likely to become a squireen upon our hands, don’t come to Brian M’Loughlin, who knows you from the paring of the nails to the core of the heart.”

M’Glutchy looked at him and laughed again; “before you go, at all events,” he replied, “I hope you remember the observation I made when I introduced the discourse.”

“I can’t say I do,” said M’Loughlin, “but I suppose you will let us hear it.”

“I will,” replied Val, and his brow darkened as before.  “It was this—­your farm and mine lie very snugly together—­observe, I said, ’that’s what I begin with’—­didn’t I say that?”

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“You did, and now what else do you say?”

“The very same thing—­that your farm, and mine lie snugly together—­and mark me, Mr. M’Loughlin—­”

“I do—­oh, upon my credit I do—­ha, ha, ha!”

“Than that’s what I end with.”

“Ah,” replied M’Loughlin indignantly, “you think you have the ball at your own foot, now that old Topertoe is gone, and his son has made you his under agent.  A nice job indeed it was, that transformed old drunken Tom Topertoe into Lord Cumber, and made his son, the present Lord, too proud to live on his own estate.  However, I’d be glad to see the honest man that ever envied the same old Tom his title, when we all know that he got it for selling his country.  As for you, Vulture, I defy and despise you; when my rent’s due, thank God I am able to pay it, so you may do your worst.  While Mr. Hickman’s over you, the tenants have some protection, in spite of your villainy, you unprincipled scoundrel.”

“Our farms lie snugly together, Mr:  M’Loughlin, and that’s what I end with.”

It was from the town of Castle Cumber, which we have described at the opening of our narrative, that old Tom Topertoe, a squire of the true Irish kidney, took his title.  Topertoe, or Lord Castle Cumber, as we must now call him, like many others, had the high honor of being a Union Lord—­that, is to say his attachment to his principles was so steady, that he did not hesitate to sell his country for a title, and we may add, something besides.  It is not our intention, at this distance of time, to discuss the merits of either the union or its repeal; but in justice to truth and honor, or, perhaps, we should rather say, fraud and profligacy, we are constrained to admit, that there is not to be found in the annals of all history, any political negotiation based upon such rank and festering corruption, as was the legislative union.  Had the motives which actuated the English government towards this country been pure, and influenced by principles of equality and common justice, they would never have had recourse to such unparalleled profligacy.  This is self-evident, for those who seek an honorable end will scorn to obtain it by foul and dishonorable means.  The conduct of England, therefore, in this base and shameless traffic, is certainly a prima face evidence of her ultimate policy—­a policy blacker in the very simplicity of its iniquity than its worst enemies can paint it, and so obvious in its character, that we question whether a man could be found, of ordinary information, belonging to any party, capable at this moment of deliberately and conscientiously defending it, so far as pertains to this transaction.  But enough of this.

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Before the union, old Topertoe was master of three votes—­that is, he sat himself for the county, and returned members for two boroughs.  He was known by the sobriquet of Pater Noster Tom—­not from any disposition to devotion; but because, whether in parliament, on the hustings, or, indeed, anywhere else, he never made a speech longer than the Lord’s Prayer.  And yet, short as it was, it generally puzzled the shrewdest and most sagacious of his audience to understand it.  Still, though not without his faults, he was by no means a bad landlord, as landlords went.  ’Tis true he was fond of his wine and of his wench—­as a proof of which, it was well known that he seldom or ever went to,bed with less than four or five bottles under his belt; and as touching the latter, that he had two agents in pay to cater for his passions.  In both these propensities he was certainly countenanced by the usages and moral habits of the times; and the truth is, he grew rather popular than otherwise, precisely on account of them.  He was bluff, boisterous, and not ill-natured—­one of that bygone class who would horsewhip a tenant to-day and fight a duel for him to-morrow.  Above all things, he resided on his estate, knew all his tenantry by name and person, and contracted, by degrees, a kind of anomalous attachment for them, merely because they were his property, and voted and fought for him at elections, and often fought with him touching their relative positions of landlord and tenant.  Indeed, we question whether he would not enter into a quarrel as readily for a tenant as he would for a favorite dog or horse; and we are inclined to think, that to do him justice, he laid nearly as much value on the one as on the other—­a circumstance which we dare say several of our modern landlords, both resident and absentee, will consider as, on our part, a good-humored stretch of fiction.

His speech at elections absolutely became a proverb in the country; and, indeed, when we remember the good-natured license of the times, as many still may, together with the singular blending of generosity and violence, horsewhipping and protection, mirth and mischief which characterized the bearing of such men as Topertoe, we are fain to think, to vary the proverb a little, that he might have spoken more and fared worse.

“Here I am again, ye blaggards; your own ould Topertoe, that never had a day’s illness, but the gout, bad luck to it.  Damn your bloods, ye affectionate rascals, sure you love me, and I love you, and ’t isn’t Gully Preston (his opponent) that can cut our loves in two.  No, boys, he’s not the blade to do that, at any rate!  Hurra then, ye vagabones; ould Tom Topertoe for ever!  He loves his bottle and his wench, and will make any rascal quiver on a daisy that would dare to say bow to your blankets.  Now, Gully Preston, make a speech—­if you can!  Hurra for Tom Topertoe, that never had a day’s illness, but the gout, bad luck to it! and don’t listen to Gully Preston, boys!  Hurra!”

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This speech, from which he never varied, was waited for at elections with a vehemence of mirth and a force of popularity which no eloquence brought against him could withstand.  Indeed, it was perfectly well known that it alone returned him, for when upon an occasion of considerable doubt and difficulty, the two parties of the county having been considered as equally balanced, he was advised by some foolish friend, or enemy in disguise, to address them in a serious speech, the consequences were near proving disastrous to his interests.  When he commenced—­“Gentlemen—­upon an occasion of such important difficulty”—­there was for about a quarter of a minute a dead silence—­that of astonishment—­Topertoe, however, who had stuck fast, was obliged to commence again—–­“Gentlemen—­upon an occasion, of such—­” but it would not do, the groaning, shouting, hooting, and yelling, were deafening for some minutes, much to the gratification of his opponent.  At length there was something like a pause, and several voices shouted out—­“what the divil do you mane, Tom?” “He’s showin’ the garran bane at last,” shouted another—­“desartin’ his colors!”—­“oh! we’re gintlemen now it seems, an’ not his own blaggards, as we used to be—­Tiper-to’e’s vagabones that stood by him—­oh no!  Tom, to hell wid you and your gintlemen—­three cheers for Gully Preston!”

Tom saw it was nearly over with him, and Preston’s hopes ran high.  “Aisy, boys,” said the other, resuming his old, and, indeed, his natural manner—­“Aisy, ye vagabones—­Topertoe’s ould speech for ever!  Here I am again, ye blaggards, that never had a day’s illness but the gout, bad luck to it!” &c, &c.  This was enough, the old feeling of fun and attachment kindled up—­the multitude joined him in his speech, precisely as a popular singer is joined by the gods of the upper gallery in some favorite air, and no sooner was it concluded, than the cheering, throwing up of hats, and huzzaing, gave ample proof that he had completely recovered his lost ground, and set himself right with the people.

Such is a brief of old Topertoe, the first Lord of Castle Cumber, who, by the way, did not wear his honors long, the gout, to which he was a martyr, having taken him from under his coronet before he had it a year on his brow.  He was one of the men peculiar to his times, or rather who aided in shaping them; easy, full of strong but gross impulses, quick and outrageous in resentment, but possessed of broad uncouth humor, and a sudden oblivion of his passion.  Without reading or education—­he was coarse, sensual, careless, and extravagant, having no stronger or purer principle to regulate him than that which originated in his passions or his necessities.  Of shame or moral sanction he knew nothing, and consequently held himself amenable to the world on two points only—­the laws of duelling and those of gaming.  He would take an insult from no man, and always paid his gambling debts with honor; but beyond that, he neither feared

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nor cared for anything in this world—­and being a member of the Hellfire Club, he did not believe in the other.  In fact he was the very man on whose peculiar temperament and character a corrupt and wily politician might expect to impress his own principles with success.  Topertoe was consequently not only the very man to sell his country, but to sell, it at the highest price, and be afterwards the first to laugh, as he did, at his own corruption.

Of his eldest son, who of course succeeded to his rank and property, there is not so much to be said at present, because he will appear, to some extent, as an actor in our drama.  It is enough then to say here that he inherited his father’s vices, purged of their vulgarity and grossness, without a single particle of his uncertain and capricious good nature.  In his manners he appeared more of the gentleman; was lively, shallow, and versatile; but having been educated at an English school and an English college, he felt, or affected to feel, all the fashionable prejudices of the day and of his class against his native country.  He was an absentee from both pride and inclination, and it is not surprising then that he knew but little of Ireland, and that little was strongly to its disadvantage.

Another brother there was, whose unpretending character requires little else than merely that he should be named.  The honorable Alexander Topertoe, who was also educated in England, from the moment his father stained what he conceived to be the honor of their family by receiving a title and twenty thousand pounds, as a bribe for his three votes against a native parliament—­hung his head in mortification and shame, and having experienced at all times little else than neglect from his father and brother, he hurried soon afterwards to the continent with a heavy heart and a light purse, where for the present we must leave him.

CHAPTER II.—­Birth and Origin of Mr. M’Clutchy

Christian Forgiveness—­Mr. Hickman, the Head Agent—­Darby O’Drive, the Bailiff—­And an Instructive Dialogue.

Time, which passes with a slow but certain pace, had already crept twice around his yearly circle since the fair already described in the town of Castle Cumber.  The lapse of three years, however, had made no change whatsoever in the heart or principles of Mr. Valentine M’Clutchy, although he had on his external manner and bearing.  He now assumed more of the gentleman, and endeavored to impress himself upon those who came in contact with him, as a person of great authority and importance.  One morning after the period just mentioned had! elapsed, he and his graceful son, “Mister Phil,” were sitting in the parlor of Constitution Cottage, for so they were pleased to designate a house which had no pretension whatever to that unpretending appellation.

“So father,” said Phil, “you don’t forget that such was the treatment M’Loughlin gave you!”

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“Why, I remember it, Phil; but you know, Phil, I’m a patient and a forgiving man notwithstanding; you know that Phil;—­ha, ha, ha!”

“That was certainly the worst case came across us yet,” replied the son, “none of the rest ventured to go so far, even when you had less power than you have now.”

“I didn’t tell you all, Phil,” continued the father, following up the same train of thought.

“And why not,” said Phil, “why should you conceal anything from me?”

“Because,” replied the other, “I think you have heard enough for the present.”

The fact was, that M’Clutchy’s consciousness of the truth contained in M’Loughlin’s indignant reproaches, was such as prevented him from repeating them, even to his son, knowing right well that had he done so they could not exactly have looked each other in the face without sensations regarding their own conduct, which neither of them wished to avow.  There is a hypocrisy in villainy sometimes so deep that it cannot bear to repeat its own iniquity, even in the presence of those who are aware of it, and in this predicament stood Valentine M’Clutchy.

“Maybe he has relented,” said Phil, “or that he will give me his pretty daughter yet—­and you know they have the cash.  The linen manufactory of M’Loughlin and Harman is flourishing.”

“No, no, Phil,” replied the father, “you must give her up—­that’s past—­but no matter, I’ll forgive him.”

Phil looked at him and smiled.  “Come, come, father,” said he, “be original—­that last is a touch of M’Slime—­of honest Solomon.  Keep back the forgiveness yet awhile, may be they may come round—­begad, and upon my honor and reputation, I shouldn’t wish to lose the girl—­no, father, don’t forgive them yet awhile.”

“Phil, we’ll do better for you, boy—­don’t be a fool, I say, but have sense—­I tell you what, Phil,” continued his father, and his face assumed a ghastly, deadly look, at once dark and pallid, “listen to me;—­I’ll forgive him, Phil, until the nettle, the chick-weed, the burdock, the fulsome preshagh, the black fungus, the slimiest weed that grows—­aye, till the green mould of ruin itself, grows upon the spot that is now his hearth—­till the winter rain beats into, and the whiter wind howls over it.”

“No marriage, then,” said Phil.  “No marriage; but what keeps Darby O’Drive? the rascal should have been here before—­oh no,” said he, looking at his watch, “he has better than half an hour yet.”

“What steps do you intend to take, father?”

“Phil, when I’m prepared, you shall know them.  In the meantime leave me—­I must write to M’Slime, or send to him.  M’Slime’s useful at a hint or suggestion, but, with all his wiliness and hypocrisy, not capable of carrying a difficult matter successfully out; he overdoes everything by too much caution, and consequently gets himself into ridiculous scrapes, besides I cannot and will not place full confidence in him.  He is too oily, and cants too much, to be trusted; I think, still, we may use him and overreach him into the bargain.  Are you going into Castle Cumber?”

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“I am.”

“Well, drop these couple of letters in the post office, and tell Rankin he must have the Garts finished by Monday next, at the farthest, or it will be worse for him.  By the way, I have that fellow in my eye too—­he had the assurance to tell me the other day, that he could not possibly undertake the carts until he had M’Loughlin’s job at the manufactory finished.  Off with you now, I see O’Drive and Hanlon coming up.”

Graceful Phil in a few minutes was mounted in his usual lofty state on “Handsome Harry,” and dashed off to Castle Cumber.

It may not be improper here, before we proceed farther, to give the reader some additional knowledge of the parentage and personal history of Mr. Valentine M’Clutchy, as well as a brief statement concerning the Castle Cumber property, and the gentleman who acted in the capacity of head agent.

The mother, then, of Valentine M’Clutchy, or as he was more generally called Val the Vulture, was daughter to the county goaler, Christie Clank by name, who had risen regularly through all the gradations of office, until the power of promotion could no farther go.  His daughter, Kate Clank, was a celebrated beauty, and enjoyed a considerable extent of local reputation, independently of being a great favorite with the junior portion of the grand jury.  Among the latter, however, there was one, a young squire of very libertine principles, named Deaker, whose suit to the fair Miss Clank proved more successful than those of his competitors, and the consequence was the appearance of young Val.  The reader, therefore, already perceives that M’Clutchy’s real name was Deaker; but perhaps he is not aware that, in the times of which we write, it was usual for young unmarried men of wealth not to suffer their illegitimate children to be named after them.  There were, indeed, many reasons for this.  In the first place, the mere fact of assuming the true name, was a standing argument of the father’s profligacy.  Secondly, the morals of the class and the period were so licentious, that the legitimate portion of a family did not like to be either outnumbered or insulted by their namesakes and illegitimate relatives, almost at every turn of the public roads.  In the third place, a young man of this description could not, when seeking for a wife, feel the slightest inclination to have a living catalogue of his immoralities enumerated to her, under the names of Tom, or Dick, or Val so and so, all his children.  This, of course, was an involuntary respect paid to modesty, and perhaps the strongest argument for suppressing the true name.  The practice, however, was by no means universal; but in frequent instances it existed, and Val the Vulture’s was one of them.  He was named after neither father or mother, but after his grandmother, by the gaoler’s side.  Deaker would not suffer his name to be assumed; and so far as his mother was concerned, the general tenor of her life rendered the reminiscence of her’s anything but creditable

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to her offspring.  With respect to his education, Val’s gratitude was principally due to his grandfather Clank, who had him well instructed.  He himself, from the beginning, was shrewd, clever, and intelligent, and possessed the power, in a singular degree, of adapting himself to his society, whenever he felt it his interest to do so.  He could, indeed, raise or depress his manners in a very surprising degree, and with an effort that often occasioned astonishment.  On the other hand, he was rapacious, unscrupulous, cowardly, and so vindictive, that he was never known to forgive an injury.  These are qualities to which, when you add natural adroitness and talent, you have such a character as has too frequently impressed itself, with something like the agreeable sensations produced by a red hot burning iron, upon the distresses, fears, and necessities of the Irish people.

M’Clutchy rose from the humble office of process-server to that of bailiff’s follower, bailiff, head-bailiff, barony constable, until, finally, he felt himself a kind of factotum on the Castle Cumber property; and in proportion as he rose, so did his manners rise with him.  For years before his introduction to our readers, he was the practical manager of the estate; and so judiciously did he regulate his own fortunes on it, that without any shameless or illegal breach of honesty, he actually contrived to become a wealthy man, and to live in a respectable manner.  Much, however, will have more, and Val was rapacious.  On finding himself comparatively independent, he began to take more enlarged, but still very cautious measures to secure some of the good things of the estate to him and his.  This he was the better able to do, as he had, by the apparent candor of his manner, completely wormed himself into the full confidence of the head agent—­a gentleman of high honor and integrity, remarkable alike for humanity and benevolence; but utterly without suspicion.  Two or three farms, whose leases dropped, he most iniquitously took into his own hands, and so far wheedled the agent, that he induced that gentleman to think he was rendering a service to the property by doing so.  The tenantry now began to murmur—­a complaint came here, and another there—­here was an instance of private and disguised oppression; and this was followed by a, vindictive attempt to injure either the property or character of some one who had the courage to tell him what he thought of his conduct.

Val apprehending that he might be out-borne by too powerful a mass of testimony, contrived just then, through his misrepresentations to the agent, who still confided in him, and by the political influence of his father, the squire, who was the landlord’s strongest electioneering supporter in the county, to get himself formally appointed under-agent.  Feeling now quite confident in his strength, and that his hold on the prejudices, and, we may add, the ignorance of the absentee landlord, was as strong, if not stronger

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than those of the agent himself, he began to give a greater and less guarded scope to his natural principles.  Mr. Hickman, the agent, had been strongly disgusted by the political profligacy with which the union was carried; and had, on more than one occasion, intimated a doubt whether, as an honest man, he could render political support to any one who had participated in its corruption or recognized the justice of those principles on which it had been carried.  All this gave M’Clutchy that imperturbable insolence which is inseparable from petty tyranny and licensed extortion.  Day after day did his character come out in all its natural deformity.  The outcry against him was not now confined to this portion of the property, or that—­it became pretty general; and, perhaps, at the time we have brought him on the stage, there was not a man in Ireland, holding the situation he did, who was more feared and more detested.

Some time previous to this, however, Hickman’s eyes were opened to his undisguised character, and what he could do he did.  On finding that the Vulture was reviving all the oppressive usages with which property in Ireland is so penally taxed, he immediately gave orders that such exactions should be discontinued by M’Clutchy, and resisted by the tenants.  In spite of all this, however, there were upon the property many timid persons, who, dreading his malignity of purpose, still continued to yield to his avarice and rapacity, that which nothing else but a dread of his vengeance could extort from them.  Thus did he feather his nest at the expense of their terrors.

Hickman, who had also been agent to old Topertoe, felt a kind of personal attachment to that good-humored reprobate, so long as he believed him to be honest.  Old Tom’s venality, however, at the union, made him rather sick of the connection, and the conduct, or rather expensive profligacy of the young absentee Lord, rendered his situation, as an honest and humane agent, one of great pain to himself, considering his position between landlord and tenant.

He knew besides, that many men of his class had taken most scandalous advantages of the embarrassments which their dishonesty had occasioned in the affairs of their employers, and lent them their own rents in the moments of distress, in order to get a lien on their property.  For this reason, and out of a feeling of honor and self-respect, Mr. Hickman had made it a point of principle to lend the young Lord, no money under any circumstances.  As far as he could legitimately, and within the ordinary calculations of humanity, feed Lord Cumber’s prodigality of expenditure he did it.  This, however, was not exactly the kind of agent which his lordship wanted, and however highly he respected, and honored him, still that direful word necessity goaded him into a forgetfulness of his own real interests, and of what was due to Hickman.  He wanted an agent with less feeling, less scruple, less independence, and more of that accommodating

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principle which would yield itself to, and go down with, the impetuous current of his offensive vices, and satisfy their cravings even at his own ruin.  Such, then, was M’Clutchy—­such the position of Mr. Hickman, the agent—­and such the general state of the Castle Cumber property.  As to the principles and necessities of its proprietor, if they are not already known, we may assure our readers that they soon will be.

Constitution Cottage, M’Clutchy’s residence, was, in fact, no cottage at all, as we have said, but a very respectable house, and of considerable size.  Attached to it was an extensive yard and office houses, an excellent garden, orchard, pigeon house, and everything, in fact, that could constitute substantial comfort and convenience.  It was situated beside a small clump of old beeches, that sheltered it from the north—­to the front lay, at a few miles distance, a range of fine mountains—­and between them stretched as rich a valley, both in fertility and beauty, as the eye of man could rest upon.  The ground before the door fell by an easy and gradual descent, until a little further down it reached a green expanse of level meadow, through which a clear river wound its lingering course, as if loth to pass away from between the rich and grassy banks that enclosed it.  It was, in fact, a spot of that calm and perfectly rural character which draws the heart unconsciously to the secret charm that rests upon it, and which even the casual traveler leaves behind him with regret.  Some improvements were at the present time in an incipient state—­such as plantations—­garden walls—­and what seemed the lines of an avenue, or approach to the house, which, by the way, stood in the centre of a farm that consisted of about eighty Irish acres.

At length a single knock came, which was given by O’Drive, for Hanlon, who was his assistant, durst not attempt such a thing in his presence; and if ever a knock conveyed the duplicity of the man who gave it, that did.  Though, as we said, but a single one, yet there was no mistaking its double meaning.  It was impudent and servile; it was impudent, as much as to say to the servants, “why don’t you open the door quickly for a man who is so deep in your master’s confidence as I am?” while to that master himself, it said, or seemed to say, “I am your creature, your instrument, your slave, ready to execute any oppression, any hardship, or villainy, on which you can employ me.”

It is said, and we believe with truth, that in military life no officer is so severe and oppressive as he who has risen from the ranks, and been most obsequious there.  We do not doubt it, for the principle is a strong one in human nature, and is by no means confined to either the army or navy.  At all events,’shuffling, and cringing, and slinking Darby O’Drive presented himself to Val the Vulture.  There was a downcast, cowardly, shy, uneasy, expression in his blank, straggling features, that seemed to say, for God’s sake

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spare my very life—­don’t annihilate me—­here I am—­you see through me—­heart, spirit, and soul—­body, lungs, and lights—­could I tell you a lie?  No.  Could I deceive you—­such a man as you, that can look through me as if I was a lanthorn, or a pane of glass without a bull’s eye in it.  No! only let me live and I’ll do your bidding.

“Well,” said Val, in a sharp, imperious;one, “you’re punctual for a wonder.”

“God be praised for that,” replied Darby, wiping the top of his nose with the finger and thumb of an old mitten, “heaven be praised that I’m not late.”

“Hold your damned canting, tongue, you knave, what place is this for it?”

“Knave! well I am then.”

“Yes, you know you are—­you are all knaves—­every bailiff is a knave—­ahem—­unless, indeed, one in a thousand.”

“It’s truth, indeed, plaise your honor.”

“Not but there’s worse than you after all, and be damned to you.”

“An’ betther, sir, too, i’ you please, for sure, God help me, I’m not what I ought to be.”

“Well, mend then, why don’t you? for you want it.  Come now, no jaw, I tell you, but answer me what I am about to ask you; not a word now.”

“Well, no then, plaise your honor, I won’t in throth.”

“Did you warn the townland of Ballymackscud?”

“Yis, plaise your honor.”

“Are they ready—­have they the rent?”

“Only some o’ them, sir,—­an other some is axin’ for time, the thieves.”

“Who are asking for time?”

“Why the O’Shaughrans, sir—­hopin’, indeed, that your honor will let them wait till the markets rises, an not be forced to sell the grain whin the prices is so low now that it would ridin them—­but it’s wondherful the onraisonableness of some people.  Says I, ’his honor, Mr. M’Clutchy, is only doin’ his duty; but a betther hearted or a kinder man never bruk the world’s bread than he is to them that desarves it at his hands;’ so, sir, they began to—­but—­well, well, it’s no matther—­I tould them they were wrong—­made it plain to them—­but they wouldn’t be convinced, say what I might.”

“Why, what did they say, were they abusing me—­I suppose so?”

“Och! the poor sowls, sure it was only ignorance and foolishness on their part—­onraisonable cratures all or most of them is.”

“Let me know at once what they said, you knave, or upon my honor and soul I’ll turn you out of the room and bring in Hanlon.”

“Plaise your honor, he wasn’t present—­I left him outside, in regard that I didn’t think he was fit to be trust—­a safe with—­no matther, ’twas for a raison I had.”  He gave a look at M’Clutchy as he spoke, compounded of such far and distant cunning, scarcely perceptible—­and such obvious, yet retreating cowardice, scarcely perceptible also—–­that no language could convey any notion of it.

“Ah!” said Val, “you are a neat lad—­but go on—­what did they say, for I must have it out of you.”

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“That I may die in happiness, your honor, but I’m afeard to tell you—­but, sure, if you’d give your promise, sir—­your bright word of honor, that you’d not pay me off for it, I’ll tell you.”

“Ah! you d——­d crawling reptile, out with it—­I won’t pay you off.”

[Illustration:  PAGE 142—­ there’s as many curses before you in hell]

“Well, then, here it is—­oh! the curse o’ Cromwell on them this day, for an ungrateful pack! they said, your honor, that—­bad luck to them I pray—­that there wasn’t so black-hearted a scoundrel on the face of the airth as your four quarthers—­that the gallows is gapin’ for you—­and that there’s as many curses before you in hell as ’ud blisther a griddle.”

M’Clutchy’s face assumed its usual expression of diabolical malignity, whilst, at the same time, he gave a look so piercing at Darby, as if suspecting that the curse, from its peculiar character, was at least partially his own invention,—­that the latter, who stood like a criminal, looking towards the floor, felt precisely what was going forward in the other’s mind, and knew that he had nothing else for it but to look him steadily in the face, as a mark of his perfect innocence.  Gradually, therefore, and slowly he raised his small gray eyes until they met those of M’Clutchy, and thus the gaze continued for nearly a minute between them, and that with such steadiness on both sides, that they resembled a mesmeric doctor and his patient, rather than anything else to which we could compare them.  On the part of M’Clutchy the gaze was that of an inquisitor looking into the heart of him whom he suspected; on that of Darby, the eye, unconscious of evil, betrayed nothing but the purest simplicity and candor.

And yet, when we consider that Darby most unquestionably did not only ornament, but give peculiar point to the opinions expressed by the tenantry against the Vulture, perhaps we ought to acknowledge that of the two he possessed a larger share of histrionic talent.

At length M’Clutchy, whose eye, for reasons with which the reader is already acquainted, was never either a firm or a steady one, removed it from Darby, who nevertheless followed it with a simple but pertinacious look, as much as to say, I have told you truth, and am now waiting your leisure to proceed.

“What do you stare at?” said M’Clutchy, strongly disposed to vent his malignity on the next object to him; “and, you beggarly scoundrel, what did you say to that?  Tell me, or I’ll heave you, head foremost, through the window?”

“Why,” replied Darby, in a quiet, confident, and insinuating tone, “I raisoned wid them—­raisoned wid them like a Christian.  ’Now, Sheemus O’Shaughran,’ says I, ’you’ve said what I know to be a lie.  I’m not the man to put ill between you and his honor, Mr. M’Clutchy, but at the same time,’ says I, ’I’m his sarvint, and as an honest man I must do my duty.  I don’t intend to mintion a syllable of what

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you said this day; but as his sarvint, and gettin’ bread through him, and undher him, I can’t, nor I won’t, suffer his honor to be backbitten before his own face—­for it’s next to that.  Now,’ says I, ’be guided by me, and all will be right.  In the first place, you know, he’s entitled to duty-fowl*—­in the next place, he’s entitled to duty-work.’  ‘Ay, the landlord is,’ said they, ‘but not the Vul——­’ ‘Whisht,’ says I, in a friendly whisper, puttin’ my hand across Dan’s mouth, an’ winkin’ both my eyes at him; ’send his honor down a pair of them fine fat turkeys—­I know his honor’s fond o’ them; but that’s not all,’ says I—­’do you wish to have a friend in coort?  I know you do.  Well and good—­he’s drawing gravel to make a new avenue early next week, so, Sheemus O’Shaughran, if you wish to have two friends in coort—­a great one and a little one’—­manin’ myself, God pardon me, for the little one, your honor—­’you will,’ says I ’early on next Monday mornin’, send down a pair of horses and carts, and give him a week’s duty work.  Then,’ says I, ’lave the rest to somebody, for I won’t name names.’—­No, your honor, I did’nt bring Hanlon in.—­By the same token, as a proof of it, there’s young Bandy Shaughran, the son, wid a turkey under aich arm, comin’up to the hall door.”

     * These were iniquitous exactions, racked from the poor
     tenantry by the old landlords or their agents.

“Well,” proceeded M’Clutchy, without a single observation, “did you call on the Slevins?”

“Yes, sir; they’re ready.”

“The Magonnels?”

“Not ready, sir; but a pair of geese, and two men on next Thursday and Saturday.  On Friday they must go to market to buy two slips.” (* young pigs).

“Widow Gaffney?”

“Not ready, sir; but that I may never die in sin, a ’cute shaver.”

“Why so—­what did she say?”

“Oh, Mr. Hickman, sir, the head agent, your honor; that’s the go.  Throth, the same Mr. Hickman is—­but, God forbid, sir, I’d spake a word against the absent; but any way, he’s a good round thrifle, one way or the other, out of your pocket, from Jinny-warry to December.”

“Darby, my good man, and most impertinent scoundrel, if you wish to retain your present situation, never open your lips against that excellent gentleman, Mr. Hickman.  Mark my words—­out you go, if I ever discover that you mention him with disrespect.”

“Well, I won’t then; and God forgive me for spakin’ the truth—­when it’s not right.”

“Did you see the Mulhollands?”

“Mr. Hickman again, sir, an’ bad luck to——­ Beg pardon, sir, I forgot.  Throth, sir, when I mentioned the duty work an’ the new aveny, they whistled at you.”

“Whistled at me!”

“Yes, sir; an’ said that Mr. Hickman tould them to give you neither duty fowl nor duty work, but to do their own business, and let you do yours.  Ay, and ’twas the same from all the rest.”

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“Well,” said Val, going to the window and looking abroad for a minute or two,—­“well—­so much for Ballymackscud; now for its next neighbor, Ballymackfud.”

“Mr. Hickman again, sir.  The divil sweep the same Hickman, any way,” said Darby, in an aside, which he knew the other could easily hear.  “Out of the whole townland, sir, all I got was two men for the aveny—­a goose from Barney Scadden, and her last ten, along wid half-a-dozen eggs, from that dacent creature, widow M’Murt.  Throth four fine little clildre she has, if they had anything on them, or anything to keep body and sowl together.”

“You warned them all, of course?”

“Every sowl in the townland of Ballymackt ’ud; and there’s the upshot.  But it’s all Mr. Hickman, sir; for he tould them—­’I will have none of this work,’ says he; ’the tenants musn’t be harrished and fleeshed in this manner,’ says he.  Yes, your honor, that’s the upshot from Ballymackfud—­two day’s work—­a sick goose (for I disremembered to mention that Barney said, wid a wink, that she’d require great attintion, as she was in a delicate state of health)—­one ould hen, and a half-a-dozen eggs; which wouldn’t be the case, only for Hickman—­not but he’s a very respectable gentleman—­by all accounts.”

“I told you before, sirra, that I will have nothing offensive to him mentioned in my presence.  Give this letter to Mr. M’Slime, and bring me an answer as soon as you can.  Will you have a glass of spirits?”

“Would it be intherfairin’ wid my duty, sir?”

“If you think so, don’t take it; you ought to know best.”

“Well, then, for this one time, in regard of a Lhin-roe* or the red wather in my stomach, I’ll try it.  I drank bog-bine last night goin’ to bed, but divil a morsel o’ good it did me.”

     * Lhin-roe, or red water—­the Irish name for heart-burn.

M’Clutchy handed him a full glass, which he held steadily before his eye, till the other put up the decanter.

“Your honor’s health, sir,” said he, “and fireside; and if you war to throw me out o’ fifty windies, I’ll add to that—­here’s wishin’ that the divil had his own, and I know where you’d soon be.”

“How, you villainous scoundrel,” said Val, starting with rising wrath, “what do you mean by that?”

Darby made no reply, but hastily tossing off the glass, he seized his hat, bolted outside the door, and putting in his head, said in a kind of loud but confidential whisper—­

“IN HICKMAN’S PLACE, your honor!”

CHAPTER III.—­Solomon M’Slime, a Religious Attorney

—­Solomon M’Slime, a Religious Attorney—­His Office—­Family Devotions—­Substitute for Breakfast—­Misprision Blasphemy—­Letter on Business.

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Pass we now to another worthy character, who had locality upon the aforesaid property of Castle Cumber.  Solomon M’Slime, the law agent, was a satisfactory proof of the ease with which religion and law may meet and aid each other in the heart and spirit of the same person.  An attorney, no doubt, is at all times an amiable, honest, and feeling individual, simply upon professional principles; but when to all this is added the benignant influence of serious and decided piety, it would not be an easy task to find, among the several classes which compose society in general, anything so truly engaging, so morally taintless, so sweetly sanctimonious, so seductively comely, as is that pure and evengelical exhibition of human character, that is found to be developed in a religious attorney.

Solomon M’Slime was a man in whose heart the two principles kept their constant residence; indeed so beautifully were they blended, that his law might frequently be mistaken for religion, just as his religion, on the other hand, was often known to smack strongly of law.  In this excellent man, these principles accommodated each with a benignant indulgence, that manifested the beauty of holiness in a high degree.  If, for instance, law in its progress presented to him any obstacle of doubtful morality, religion came forward with a sweet but serious smile, and said to her companion, “My dear friend, or sister, in this case I permit you.”  And on the contrary, if religion felt over sensitive or scrupulous, law had fifty arguments of safety, and precedent, and high authority to justify her.  But, indeed, we may observe, that in a religious attorney these illiberal scruples do not often occur.  Mr. M’Slime knew the advantages of religion too well, to feel that contraction of the mind and principles, which in so many ordinary cases occasions religion and common morality to become almost identical.  Religion was to him a friend—­a patroness in whose graces he stood so high, that she permitted him to do many things which those who were more estranged from her durst not attempt.  He enjoyed that state of blessed freedom which is accorded to so few, and, consequently, had his “permissions” and his “privileges” to go in the wicked wayfares of this trying world much greater lengths than those, who were less gifted and favored by the sweet and consoling principle which regulated and beautified his life.

Solomon was a small man, thin, sharp-featured, and solemn.  He was deliberate in his manner and movements, and correct but slow of speech.  Though solemn, however, he was not at all severe or querulous, as is too frequently the case with those who affect to be religious.  Far from it.  On the contrary, in him the gospel gifts appeared in a cheerful gravity of disposition, and a good-humored lubricity of temper, that could turn with equal flexibility and suavity to every incident of life, no matter how trying to the erring heart.  All the hinges of his spirit

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seemed to have been graciously and abundantly oiled, and such was his serenity, that it was quite evident he had a light within him.  It was truly a pleasure to speak to, or transact business with such a man; he seemed always so full of inward peace, and comfort, and happiness.  Nay, upon some occasions, he could rise to a kind of sanctified facetiousness that was perfectly delightful, and in the very singleness of his heart, would, of an odd time, let out, easily and gently it is true, a small joke, that savored a good deal of secular humor.

Then he was so full of charity and affection for all that were frail and erring among our kind, that he never, or seldom, breathed a harsh word against the offender.  Or if, in the fulness of his benevolence, he found it necessary to enumerate their faults, and place them, as it were, in a catalogue, it was done in a spirit of such love, mingled with sorrow, that those to whom he addressed himself, often thought it a pity that he himself did not honor religion, by becoming the offender, simply for the sake of afterwards becoming the patient.

In the religious world he was a very active and prominent man—­punctual in his devotional exercises, and always on the lookout for some of those unfortunate brands with which society abounds, that he might, as he termed it, have the pleasure of plucking them out of the burning.  He never went without a Bible and a variety of tracts in his pocket, and seldom was missed from the platform of a religious meeting.  He received subscriptions for all public and private charities, and has repeatedly been known to offer and afford consolation to the widow and orphan, at a time when the pressure of business rendered the act truly one of Christian interest and affection.

The hour was not more than ten o’clock, a.m. when Darby entered his office, in which, by the way, lay three or four Bibles, in different places.  In a recess on one side of the chimney-piece, stood a glass-covered bookcase, filled with the usual works on his profession, whilst hung upon the walls, and consequently nearer observation, were two or three pensile shelves, on which were to be found a small collection of religious volumes, tracts, and other productions, all bearing on the same subject.  On the desk was a well-thumbed Bible to the right, which was that used at family prayer; and on the opposite side, a religious almanack and a copy of congregation hymns.

Darby, on reaching the hall door, knocked with considerable more decision than he had done at M’Clutchy’s, but without appearing to have made himself heard; after waiting patiently for some time, however, he knocked again, and at length the door was opened by a very pretty servant girl, about seventeen, who, upon his inquiring if her master was at home, replied in a sighing voice, and with a demure face, “Oh, yes—­at family prayer.”

“When he’s done,” said Darby, “maybe you’d be kind enough to say that Darby O’Drive has a message for him.”

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The pretty servant did not nod—­an act—­which she considered as too flippant for the solemnity of devotion—­but she gently bowed her head, and closed her eyes in assent—­upon which was heard a somewhat cheerful groan, replete with true unction, inside the parlor, followed by a voice that said, “ah, Susannah!” pronounced in a tone of grave but placid remonstrance; Susannah immediately entered, and the voice, which was that of our attorney, proceeded—­“Susannah take your place—­long measure, eight lines, four eights, and two sixes.”  The psalm was then raised or pitched by Solomon himself, who was followed by six or eight others, each in a different key, but all with such reluctance to approach their leader, that from a principle of unworthiness, they allowed him, as the more pious, to get far in advance of them.  In this manner they sang two verses, and it was remarkable, that although on coming to the conclusion, Solomon was far ahead, and the rest nowhere, yet, from the same principle of unworthiness, they left the finish, as they did the start, altogether to himself.  The psalm was accordingly wound up by a kind of understanding or accompaniment between his mouth and nose, which seemed each moved by a zealous but godly struggle to excel the other, if not in melody at least in loudness.  They then all knelt down, and Solomon launched, with a sonorous voice, into an extempore prayer, which was accompanied by a solemn commentary of groanings, sighings, moanings, and muffled ejaculations, that cannot otherwise be described except by saying that they resembled something between a screech and a scream.  Their devotions being over, Darby, having delivered M’Clutchy’s letter, was desired to take a seat in the office, until Mr. M’Slime should be at leisure to send a reply.

“Sit down, my good friend, Darby, sit down, and be at ease, at least in your body; I do not suffer any one who has an immortal soul to be saved to stand in my office—­and as you have one to be saved, Darby, you must sit.  The pride of this vain life is our besetting sin, and happy are they who are enabled to overcome it—­may he be praised!—­sit down.”

“I’m thankful to you, sir,” said Darby, “oh, thin, Mr. M’Slime, it would be well for the world if every attorney in it was like you, sir—­there would be little honesty goin’ asthray, sir, if there was.”

“Sam Sharpe, my dear boy, if you have not that bill of costs finished—­”

“No sir.”

“A good boy, Sam—­well, do not omit thirteen and four pence for two letters, which I ought to have sent—­as a part of my moral, independently of my professional duty—­to Widow Lenehan, having explained to her by word of mouth, that which I ought in conscience, to have written—­but indeed my conscience often leads me to the—­what should I say?—­the merciful side in these matters.  No, Darby, my friend, you cannot see into my heart, or you would not say so—­I am frail, Darby, and sinful—­I am not up to the standard, my friend, neither have I acted up to my privileges—­the freedom of the gospel! is a blessed thing, provided we abuse it not’—­well, Sam, my good young friend—­”

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“That was entered before, sir, under the head of instructions.”

“Very right—­apparently very right, Sam, and reasonable for you to think so—­but this was on a different occasion, although the same case.”

“Oh, I beg pardon, sir, I did not know that.”

“Sam, do not beg pardon—­not of me—­nor of any but One—­go there, Sam, you require it; we all require it, at least I do abundantly.  Darby, my friend, it is a principle with me never to lose an opportunity of throwing in a word in season—­but as the affairs of this life must be attended to—­only in a secondary degree, I admit—­I will, therefore, place you at the only true fountain where you can be properly refreshed.  Take this Bible, Darby, and it matters not where you open it, read and be filled.”

Now, as Darby, in consequence of his early attendance upon M’Clutchy, had been obliged to leave home that morning without his breakfast, it must be admitted that he was not just then in the best possible disposition to draw much edification from it.  After poring over it with a very sombre face for some time, he at length looked shrewdly at M’Slime closing one eye a little, as was his custom; “I beg pardon, sir,” said he, “but if I’m not mistaken this book I believe is intended more for the sowl than the body.”

“For the body! truly, Darby, that last is a carnal thought, and I am sorry to hear, it from your lips:—­the Bible is a spiritual book, my friend, and spiritually must it be received.”

“But, to a man like me, who hasn’t had his breakfast to-day yet, how will it be sarviceable? will reading it keep off hunger or fill my stomach?”

“Ah!  Darby, my friend, that is gross talk—­such views of divine truth are really a perversion of the gifts of heaven.  That book although it will not fill your stomach, as you grossly call it, actually will do it figuratively, which in point of fact is the same thing, or a greater—­it will enable you to bear hunger as a dispensation, Darby, to which it is your duty as a Christian to submit.  Nay, it will do more, my friend; it will exalt your faith to such a divine pitch, that if you read it with the proper spirit, you will pray that the dispensation thus laid on you may continue, in order that the inner man may be purged.”

“Faith, and Mr. M’Slime, with great respect, if that is your doctrine it isn’t your practice.  The sorra word of prayer—­God bless the prayers!—­came out o’ your lips today,’an til you laid in a good warm breakfast, and afther that, for fraid of disappointments, the very first thing you prayed for was your daily bread—­didn’t I hear you?  But I’ll tell you what, sir, ordher me my breakfast, and then I’ll be spakin’ to you.  A hungry man—­or a hungry woman, or her hungry childre’ can’t eat Bibles; although it is well known, God knows, that when hunger, and famine, and starvation are widin them and upon them, that the same Bible, but nothing else, is; handed to them by pious people in the shape of consolation and relief.  Now I’m thinkin’, Mr. M’Slime, that that is not the best way to make the Bible respected.  Are you goin’ to give me my breakfast, sir? upon my sowl, beggin’ your pardon, if you do I’ll bring the Bible home wid me, if that will satisfy you, for we haven’t got e’er a one in our own little cabin.”

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“Sharpe, my good boy, I’ll trouble you to take that Bible out of his hands.  I am not in the slightest degree offended, Darby—­you will yet, I trust, live to know better, may He grant it!  I overlook the misprision of blasphemy on your part, for you didn’t know what you said? but you will, you will.

“This is a short reply to Mr. M’Clutchy’s note.  I shall see him on my way to the sessions to-morrow, but I have told him so in it.  And now, my friend, be assured I overlook the ungodly and carnal tenor of your conversation—­we are all frail and prone to error; I, at least, am so—­still we must part as Christians ought, Darby.  You have asked me for a breakfast, but I overlook that also—­I ought to overlook it as a Christian; for is not your immortal soul of infinitely greater value than your perishable body?  Undoubtedly—­and as a proof that I value it more, receive this—­this, my brother sinner—­oh! that I could say my brother Christian also—­receive it, Darby, and in the proper spirit too; it is a tract written by the Rev. Vesuvius M’Slug, entitled ’Spiritual Food for Babes of Grace;’ I have myself found it graciously consolatory and refreshing, and I hope that you also may, my friend.”

“Begad, sir,” said Darby, “it may be very good in its way, and I’ve no doubt but it’s a very generous and Christian act in you to give it—­espishilly since it cost you nothing—­but for all that, upon my sowl, I’m strongly of opinion that to a hungry man it’s a bad substitute for a breakfast.”

“Ah! by the way, Darby,” lending a deaf ear to this observation, “have you heard, within the last day or two, anything of Mr. M’Clutchy’s father, Mr. Deaker—­how he is?”

“Why, sir,” replied Darby, “I’m tould he’s breaking down fast, but the divil a one of him will give up the lady.  Parsons, and ministers, and even priests, have all been at him; but it is useless:  he curses and damns them right and left, and won’t be attended by any one but her—­hadn’t you betther try him, Mr. M’Slime?  May be you might succeed.  Who knows but a little of the ‘Spiritual Food for Babes of Grace’ might sarve him as well as others.  There’s a case for you.  Sure he acknowledges himself to be a member of the hell-fire club!”

“He’s a reprobate, my friend—­impenitent, hopeless.  I have myself tried him, spoke with him, reasoned with him, but never was my humility, my patience, so strongly tried.  His language I will not repeat—­but canting knave, hypocrite, rascal attor—­no, it is useless and unedifying to repeat it.  Now go, my friend, and do not forget that precious tract which you have thrust so disrespectfully into your pocket.”

Darby, after a shrewd wink at one of the apprentices, which was returned, passed out, and left Mr. M’Slime to the pursuit of his salvation.

In the mean time, as we authors have peculiar “privileges,” as Mr. M’Slime would say, we think if only due to our readers to let them have a peep at M’Slime’s note to our friend Valentine M’Clutchy.

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“My dear friend—­I felt as deep an interest in the purport of your note as you yourself possibly could.  The parties alluded to I appreciate precisely as you do—­M’Loughlin has in the most unchristian manner assailed my character as well as yours.  So has his partner in the concern—­I mean Harman.  But then, my friend, are we not Christians, and shall we not return good for evil?  Shall we not forgive them?  Some whispers, hints, very gentle and delicate have reached my ears, which I do not wish to commit to paper;—­but this I may say, until I see you to-morrow, that I think your intentions with respect to M’Loughlin and Harman are premature.  There is a screw loose somewhere, so to speak, that is all—­but I believe, I can say, that if your father, Deaker, will act to our purposes, all will be as we could wish.  This is a delicate subject, my dear friend, but still I am of opinion that if you could, by any practicable means; soften the unfortunate female who possesses such an ascendancy over him, all will be right.  I would, myself, undertake the perilous task for your sake—­and perilous to ordinary men I admit it would be, for she is beyond question exceedingly comely.  In me this would appear disinterested, whilst in you, suspicion would become strong.  Cash is wanted in the quarter you know, and cash has been refused in another quarter, and when we meet I shall tell you more about this matter.  In the mean time it is well that there is no legitimate issue—­but should he will his property to this Delilah, or could she be removed?—­I mean to a local distance.  But I shall see you to-morrow (D.V.), when we can have freer conversation upon what may be done.  With humble but sincere prayers for your best wishes and welfare, I am, my dear friend,

“Thine in the bonds of Christian love,

“Solomon M’Slime.

“P.  S.—­As it is a principle of mine to neglect no just opportunity of improving my deceitful heart, I bought from a travelling pedlar this morning, a book with the remarkable title of ’The Spiritual Attorney, or A Sure Guide to the Other World.’  I have not yet had time to look at anything but the title page, and consequently am not able to inform you which of the worlds he alludes to, ha, ha!  You see, my friend, I do not think there is evil in a joke that is harmless, or has a moral end in view, as every joke ought to have.

“Thine as before,

“Sol.  M’Slime.”

CHAPTER IV.—­Poll Doolin, the Child Cadger

—­Raymond, her Son—­Short Dialogue on the Times—­Polls Opinion on the Causes of Immorality—­Solomon is Generous—­A Squire of the Old School—­And a Moral Dialogue.

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The next morning was that on which the Quarter Sessions of Castle Cumber commenced; and of course it was necessary for Darby O’Drive, who was always full of business on such occasions, to see M’Clutchy, in order to receive instructions touching his duties on various proceedings connected with the estate.  He had reached the crossroads that ran about half-way between Constitution Cottage and Castle Cumber, when! he met, just where the road turned to M’Clutchy’s, a woman named Poll Doolin, accompanied, as she mostly was, by her son—­a poor, harmless, idiot, named Raymond; both of whom were well known throughout the whole parish.  Poll was a thin, sallow woman, with piercing dark eyes, and a very; gipsy-like countenance.  Her dress was always black, and very much worn; in fact, everything about her was black—­black stockings, black bonnet, black hair, and black kerchief.  Poll’s occupation was indeed a singular one, and not very creditable to the morals of the day.  Her means of living were derived from the employment of child-cadger to the Foundling Hospital of Dublin.  In other words, she lived by conveying illegitimate children from the places of their birth to the establishment just mentioned, which has been very properly termed a bounty for national immorality.  Whenever a birth of this kind occurred, Poll was immediately sent for—­received her little charge with a name—­whether true or false mattered not—­pinned to its dress—­then her traveling expenses; after which she delivered it at the hospital, got a receipt for its delivery, and returned to claim her demand, which was paid only on her producing it.  In the mean time, the unfortunate infant had to encounter all the comforts of the establishment, until it was drafted out to a charter school, in which hot-bed of pollution it received that exquisitely moral education that enabled it to be sent out into society admirably qualified to sustain the high character of Protestantism.

“Morrow, Poll,” said Darby; “what’s the youngest news wid you?  And Raymond, my boy, how goes it wid you?”

“I don’t care for you,” replied the fool; “you drove away Widow Branagan’s cow, an’ left the childre to the black wather.  Bad luck to you!”

Darby started; for there is a superstition among the Irish, that the curse of an “innocent” is one of the most unlucky that can be uttered.

“Don’t curse me,” replied Darby; “sure, Raymond, I did only my duty.”

“Then who made you do your duty?” asked the other.

“Why, Val the Vul—­hem—­Mr. M’Clutchy, to be sure.”

“Bad luck to him then!”

His mother, who had been walking a little before him, turned, and, rushing towards him, put her hand hastily towards his mouth, with the obvious intention of suppressing the imprecation; but too late; it had escaped, and be the consequence what it might, Val had got the exciting cause of it.

“My poor unfortunate boy,” said she, “you oughtn’t to curse anybody; stop this minute, and say God bless him.”

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“God bless who?”

“Mr. McClutchy.”

“The devil bless him! ha, ha, ha!  Doesn’t he harry the poor, an’ drive away their cows from them—­doesn’t he rack them an’ rob them—­harry them, rack them, rob them—­

     “Harry them, rack them, rob them,
     Rob them, rack them, harry them—­
     Harry them, rack them, rob them,
     Rob them, rack them, harry them.”

This he sung in an air somewhat like “Judy Callahan.”

“Ha, ha, ha!  Oh the devil bless him! and they say a blessin’ from the devil is very like a curse from God.”

The mother once more put up her hands to his face, but only with the intention of fondling and caressing him.  She tenderly stroked down his head, and patted his cheek, and attempted to win him out of the evil humor into which the sight of Darby had thrown him.  Darby could observe, however, that she appeared to be deeply troubled by the idiot’s conduct, as was evident by the trembling of her hands, and a perturbation of manner which she could not conceal.

“Raymond,” she said, soothingly, “won’t you be good for me, darlin’—­for your own mother, my poor helpless boy?  Won’t you be good for me?”

“I will,” said he, in a more placid voice.

“And you will not curse anybody any more?”

“No, mother, no.”

“And won’t you bless Mr. M’Clutchy, my dear child?”

“There’s a fig for him,” he replied—­there’s a fig for him.  Now!”

“But you didn’t bless him, my darlin’—­you didn’t bless him yet.”

As she spoke the words, her eye caught! his, and she perceived that it began to gleam and kindle.

“Well no,” said she hastily; “no, I won’t ask you; only hould your tongue—­say no more.”

She again patted his cheek tenderly, and the fiery light which began to burn in his eye, died gradually away, and no other expression remained in it but the habitual one of innocence and good-nature.

“No, no,” said she, shaking her head, and speaking as much to herself as to Darby; “I know him too well; no earthly power will put him out of his own way, once he takes it into his head.  This minute, if I had spoke another word about the blessin’, Mr. M’Clutchy would a got another curse; yet, except in these fits, my poor child is kindness and tendheress itself.”

“Well now,” said Darby, “that that’s over, can you tell me, Poll, what’s the news?  When were you in Dublin?”

“I’ve given that up,” replied Poll; “I’m too ould and stiff for it now.  As for the news, you ought to know what’s goin’ as well as I do.  You’re nearly as much on the foot.”

“No; nor if every head in the parish was ’ithin side o’mine, I wouldn’t know as much in the news line as you, Poll.”

“The news that’s goin’ of late, Darby, is not good, an’ you know it.  There’s great grumlin’ an’ great complaints, ever since.  Val, the lad, became undher agent; and you know that too.”

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“But how can I prevent that?” said Darby; “sure I’d side wid the people if I could.”

“You’d side wid the people, an’ you’d side wid the man that oppresses them, even in spite of Mr. Hickman.”

“God bless Mr. Hickman!” said Raymond, “and the divil curse him! and sure ’tis well known that the divil’s curse is only another name for God’s blessin’.  God bless, Mr. Hickman!”

“Amen, my darlin’ child, wid all my heart,” said Poll; “but, Darby,” she continued, “take my word for it, that these things won’t end well.  The estate and neighborhood was peaceable and quiet till the Vulture began his pranks, and now——­”

“Very well,” said Darby, “the blame be his, an’ if it comes to that, the punishment; so far as myself’s consarned, I say, let every herrin’ hang by its own tail—­I must do my duty.  But tell me, Poll—­hut, woman, never mind the Vulture—­let him go to the devil his own way—­tell me do you ever hear from your son Frank, that Brian M’Loughlin sent acrass?”

“No,” said she, “not a word; but the curse o’ heaven on Brian M’Loughlin!  Was my fine young man worth no more than his garran of a horse, that he didn’t steal either, till he was put to it by the Finigans.”

“Well, sure two o’ them were sent over soon afther him, if that’s any comfort.”

“It’s no comfort,” replied Poll, “but I’ll tell you what’s a comfort, the thought that I’ll never die till I have full revenge on Brian M’Loughlin—­ay, either on him or his—­or both.  Come, Raymond, have you ne’er a spare curse now for Brian M’Loughlin?—­you could give a fat one to M’Clutchy this minute and have you none for Brian M’Loughlin?”

“No,” replied, the son, “he doesn’t be harryin’ the poor.”

“Well, but he transported your brother.

“No matter; Frank used to beat me—­he was bad, an Brian M’Loughlin was good to me, and does be good to me; he gives me my dinner or breakfast whenever I go there—­an’ a good bed in the barn.  I won’t curse him.  Now!”

“It’s no use,” continued Poll, whose thin features had not yet subsided from the inflammatory wildness of expression which had been awakened by the curse, “it’s no use, he’ll only do what he likes himself, an’ the best way is to never heed him.”

“I believe so,” said Darby, “but where’s your daughter Lucy now, Poll?”

“Why,” said Poll, “she has taken to my trade, an’ thravels up to the Foundling; although, dear knows, it’s hardly worth her while now—­it won’t give her salt to her kale, poor girl.”

“Why, are the times mendin’?” asked Darby, who spoke in a moral point of view.

“Mendin’!” exclaimed Poll, “oh, ay indeed—­Troth they’re not fit to be named in the one day with what they used to be.  But indeed, of late I’m happy to say that they are improvin’ a bit,” said she, speaking professionally.  “M’Clutchy’s givin’ them a lift, for I’ve ever an’ always remarked, that distress, and poverty, and neglect o’ the poor, and hardship, and persecution, an’ oppression, and anything that way, was sure to have my very heart broke wid business.”

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“And tell me, Poll, did you ever happen to get a job from a sartin pious gentleman, o’ the name of M’Slime?—­now tell the truth.”

“It’s a question,” replied Poll, “you have no right to axe—­you must know, Darby O’Drive, that I’ve had my private business, as well as my public business, an’ that I’d suffer that right hand to be cut off sooner than betray trust.  Honor bright, or what’s the world good for!”

They now reached a spot where the road branched into two, but Poll still kept to that which led to M’Clutchy’s.  “Are you for the Cottage too,” asked Darby.

“I am,” replied Poll, “I’ve been sent for; but what he wants wid me, I know no more than the man in the moon.”

Just then the tramp of a horse’s feet was heard behind’ them, and in a minute or two, Solomon M’Slime, who was also on his way to the Cottage, rode up to them.

“A kind good morning to you Darby, my friend!  I trust you did not neglect to avail yourself of the—­Ah!” said he complacently on catching a glimpse of Poll’s face, “I think I ought to recollect your features, my good woman—­but, no—­I can’t say I do—­No, I must mistake them for those of another—­but, indeed, the best of us is liable to mistake and error—­all frail—­flesh is grass.”

“You might often see my face,” returned Poll, “but I don’t think ever we spoke before.  I know you to look at you, sir, that’s all—­an’ it’s thrue what you say too, sir, there’s nothing but frailty in the world—­divil a much else—­howsomever, be that as is may, honor bright’s my motive.”

“And a good motto it is, my excellent woman—­is that interesting young man your son?”

“He is, sir; but he’s a poor innocent that, hasn’t the full complement of wit, sir, God help him!”

“Well, my good woman,” continued Solomon, “as he appears to be without shoes to his feet, will you accept of five shillings, which is all the silver I have about me, to buy him a pair.”

“Many thanks, Mr. M’Sl—­hem—­many thanks, sir; honor bright’s my motive.”

“And let it always be so, my excellent, woman; a good morning to you very kindly!  Darby, I bid you also good morning, and peace be with you both.”

So saying, he rode on at a quiet, easy amble, apparently at peace with his heart, his conscience, his sleek cob, and all the world besides.

The sessions of Castle Cumber having concluded as sessions usually conclude, we beg our reader to accompany us to Deaker Hall the residence of M’Clutchy’s father, the squire.  This man was far advanced in years, but appeared to have been possessed of a constitution which sustains sensuality, or perhaps that retrospective spirit which gloats over its polluted recollections, on the very verge of the grave.  In the case before us, old age sharpened the inclination to vice in proportion as it diminished the power of being vicious, and presented an instance of a man, at the close of a long life, watching over the grave

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of a corrupted heart, with a hope of meeting the wan spectres of his own departed passions, since he could not meet the passions themselves; and he met them, for they could not rest, but returned to their former habitation, like unclean spirits as they were, each bringing seven more along with it, but not to torment him.  Such were the beings with which the soul of this aged materialist was crowded.  During life his well known motto was, “let us eat, and drink and be merry, for to-morrow we die.”  Upon this principle, expanded into still wider depravity, did he live and act during a protracted existence, and to those who knew him, and well known he was, there appeared something frightfully revolting in the shameless career of this impenitent old infidel.

Deaker was a large man, with a rainbow protuberance before, whose chin, at the time we speak of, rested upon his breast, giving to him the exact character which he bore—­that of a man who to the last was studious of every sensual opportunity.  His gray, goatish eye, was vigilant and. circumspect, and his under lip protruded in a manner, which, joined to the character of his age, left no one at a loss for the general subject matter of his thoughts.  He always wore top boots, and generally went on horseback, having that part of his hat which rested on the collar of his coat, turned up and greasy.

Squire Deaker’s language was not more moral than his life—­for he not only enforced his principles by his example, but also by his precept.  His conversation consequently resolved itself into a mingled stream of swearing and obscenity.  Ridicule of religion, and a hardened triumph in his own iniquitous exploits, illustrated and confirmed by a prodigality of blasphemous asservations, constituted the staple of his thoughts and expressions.  According to his own principles he could not look forward to another life, and consequently all that remained for him was to look back upon an unbroken line of seduction and profligacy—­upon wealth and influence not merely abused, but prostituted to the lowest and grossest purposes of our worst passions—­upon systematic crime—­unmanly treachery—­and that dishonest avarice which constituted the act of heartless desertion in himself the ultimate ruin and degradation of his victims.  Such was this well known squire of the old school, whose portrait, taken from life, will be recognized by every one who ever knew him, should any such happen to peruse these pages.

At the period of which we write Squire Deaker was near eighty, and although feeble and broken down, he still exhibited the remains of a large, coarse, strong-boned animal, not without a vigorous twinkle of low cunning in his eye, and a duplicity of character and principle about his angular and ill-shaped eye-brows which could not be mistaken.  He was confined to his bed, and for the first time during many years, was unable to attend the Castle Cumber quarter sessions.

It was the second or third day after their close that about the hour of ten o’clock, a.m., he awoke from a heavy and unhealthy doze, which could scarcely be termed sleep, but rather a kind of middle state between that and waking.  At length he raised his head, gasped, and on finding no one in the room, he let fly a volley of execrations, and rang the bell.

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“Is there any one there?  Any one within hearing?  I say Isabel, Isabel, jezabel, are you all dead and d——­d?”

“No, your honor, not yet—­some of us at least,” replied a shrewd-looking lad of about eighteen, nicking his appearance.

“Ha, Lanty—­it’s you, is it?  What do you mean by that, you devil’s pick-tooth?  Where’s Isabel?  Where’s Jezabel?  Playing her pranks, I suppose—­where is she, you devil’s tooth-brush? eh?”

“Do you want your brandy and wather, sir?”

“Brandy and h—­l, you scoundrel!  Where’s Miss Puzzle?”

“Why, she’s just rinsing her mouth, sir, wid a drop of “—­

“Of what, you devil’s imp; but I know—­she’s drinking—­she’s drunk, you young candidate for perdition?”

“I’m not an ould one, sir, any how; as to Miss Fuzzle, sir, she bid me say, that she’s doin’ herself the pleasure of drinkin’ your health”—­

“Ha, ha, ha!  Oh, if I were near her—­that’s all! drinking my health!  She’s tipsy, the she scoundrel, she never sends me that message unless when she’s tipsy”—­

“Not tipsy, your honor, only unwell—­she’s a little touched wid the falling sickness—­she always takes it after rinsing her mouth, sir; for she’s fond of a sweet breath, your honor.”

“Ah, she’s a confounded blackguard—­a living quicksand, and nothing else.  Lanty, my lad, if the Mississippi was brandy grog, she’d dry the river—­drinking at this hour!—­well, never mind, I was drunk myself last night, and I’m half drunk yet.  Here, you devil’s tinder box, mix me a glass of brandy and water.”

“Wouldn’t you do it better yourself, sir?”

“No, you whelp, don’t you see how my hands, and be hanged to them, tremble and shake.  Put in another glass, I say—­carry it to my mouth now; hold, you croil—­here’s the glorious, pious, and immortal memory!  Ho!  Lanty, there’s nothing like being a good Protestant after all—­so I’ll stand to glorious Bill, to the last; nine times nine, and one cheer more! hurra!”

He then laid himself back, and attempted to whistle the Boyne Water, but having only one tusk in front, the sound produced resembled the wild whistle of the wind through the chink of a door—­shrill and monotonous; after which he burst out into a chuckling laugh, tickled, probably, at the notion of that celebrated melody proving disloyal in spite of him, as refusing, as it were, to be whistled.

At this moment Miss Isabel, or as he most frequently called her Miss Jezabel Puzzle, came in with a gleaming eye and an unsteady step—­her hair partially dishevelled, and her dress most negligently put on.  The moment Deaker saw her, his whole manner changed, notwithstanding his previous violence—­the swagger departed from him, his countenance fell, and he lay mute and terror-stricken before her.  It was indeed clear that her sway over him was boundless, and such was the fact.  On this occasion she simply looked at him significantly, held up her hand in a menacing attitude, and having made a mock curtesy, immediately left the room.

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“Lanty,” said he in an undertone, when she had gone, “Lanty, you clip, go and tell her to forgive me; I said too much, and I’m sorry for it, say—­go you scoundrel.”

“Faix I’ll do no such thing, sir,” replied Lanty, alarmed at the nature of the message; “I know better than to come across her now; she’d whale the life out o’ me.  Sure she’s afther flailing the cook out o’ the kitchen—­and Tom Corbet the butler has one of his ears, he says, hangin’ off him as long as a blood-hound’s.”

“Speak easy,” said Doaker, in a voice of terror, “speak lower, or she may hear you—­Isn’t it strange,” he said to himself, “that I who never feared God or man, should quail before this Jezabel!”

“Begad, an’ here’s one, your honor, that’ll make her quail, if he meets her.”

“Who is it,” asked the other eagerly, “who is it you imp?”

“Why, Mr. M’Clutchy, sir; he’s ridin’ up the avenue.”

“Ay, Val the Vulture—­Val the Vulture—­I like that fellow—­like him for his confoundedly clever roguery; only he’s a hypocrite, and doesn’t set the world at defiance as I do;—­no, he’s a cowardly, skulking hypocrite, nearly as great a one as M’Slime, but doesn’t talk so much about religion as that oily gentleman.”

In a few moments M’Clutchy entered.  “Good morrow, Val.  Well, Val—­well, my Vulture, what’s in the wind now?  Who’s to suffer?  Are you ready for a pounce?  Eh?”

“I was sorry to hear that your health’s not so good, sir, as it was.”

“You lie, my dear Vulture, you lie in your throat, I tell you.  You’re watching for my carcase, snuffing the air at a distance under the hope of a gorge.  No—­you didn’t care the devil had me, provided you could make a haul by it.”

“I hope sir, there’s no——­”

“Hope!  You rascally hypocrite, what’s hope good for?  Hope to rot in the grave is it?  To melt into corruption and feed the worms?  What a precious putrid carcase I’ll make, when I’m a month in the dirt.  Maybe you wouldn’t much relish the scent of me then, my worthy Vulture.  Curse your beak, at all events! what do you want? what did you come for?”

Val, who knew his worthy sire well, knew also the most successful method of working out any purpose with him.  He accordingly replied, conscious that hypocrisy was out of the question—­

“The fact is, sir, I want you to aid me in a piece of knavery.”

“I’ll do it—­I’ll do it.  Hang me if I don’t.  Come—­I like that—­it shows that there’s no mock modesty between us—­that we know one another.  What’s the knavery?”

“Why, sir, I’m anxious, in the first place, to have Hickman, the head agent, out, and in the next, to get into his place, if possible.  Now, I know that you can assist me in both, if you wish.”

“How?” asked Deaker, who was quite as able a tactician as his son; and who, in fact, had contrived to put himself so completely! in possession of the political influence of the county as to be able to return any one he wished.  “How is it to be done?  Tell me that?”

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“I have understood from George Gamble, Lord Cumber’s own man, that he wants money.”

“Tut,” replied Deaker, who now forgot a great deal of his swearing, and applied himself to the subject, with all the coolness and ability of a thorough man of business.

“Tut, Val, is that your news?  When was he ever otherwise?  Come to the point; the thing’s desirable—­but how can it be done?”

“I think it can; but it must be by very nice handling indeed.”

“Well—­your nice handling then?”

“The truth is, that Hickman, I suspect, is almost sick of the agency—­thanks to Lord Cumber’s extravagance, and an occasional bit of blister which I, through the tenantry, lay on him at home.  Cumber, you know, is an unsteady scoundrel, and in the ordinary I transactions of life, has no fixed principle, for he is possessed of little honor, and I am afraid not much honesty.”

“Oh murder! this from Val the Vulture!  Let me look at you!  Did M’Slime bite you? or have you turned Methodist?  Holy Jupiter, what a sermon!  Curse your beak, sir; go on, and no preaching.”

“Not much honesty as I said.  Now, sir, if you, who have him doubly in your power—­first, by the mortgage; and, secondly, as his political godfather, who can either put him in, or keep him out of the country—­if you were to write him a friendly, confidential letter, in which, observe, you are about to finally arrange your affairs; and you are sorry—­quite sorry—­but the truth is, something must be done about the mortgage—­you are very sorry—­mark—­but you are old, and cannot leave your property in an unsettled state.  Just touch that part of it so—­”

“Yes—­touch and go.”

“Exactly—­touch and go.  Well, you pass then to the political portion of it.  Hickman’s political opinions are not well known, or at least doubtful.  Indeed you have reason to believe that he will not support his lordship or his family—­is not in the confidence of government—­displeased at the Union—­and grumbles about corruption.  His lordship is abroad you know, and cannot think for himself.  You speak as his friend—­his tried friend—­he ought to have a man on his property who is staunch, can be depended on, and who will see that full justice is done him in his absence.  Hickman, too, is against Ascendancy principles.  Do you see, sir?”

“Proceed—­what next?”

“Why, we stop there for the present; nothing more can be done until we hear from the scoundrel himself.”

“And what do you imagine will be the upshot?”

“Why, I think it not at all unlikely that he will place himself and his interests, pecuniary and political, altogether in your hands, and consequently you will probably have the guiding of him.”

“Well, Val, you are an able knave to be sure; but never mind; I like you all the better.  The true doctrine is always—­eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow you die,—­take as much out of life and your fellow-men as you can.  There’s no knavery in the grave, my Vulture.  There the honest man and the knave are alike; and this being the case, what the devil is public opinion worth?”

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“It’s worth a great deal if we use it for our own purposes while we’re here; otherwise I agree with you that it’s valueless in itself.”

“You’re a cursed clever fellow, Val, an able knave, as I said—­but I don’t like your son; he’s a dishonest blockhead, and I needn’t tell you that the man who has not brains enough to be dishonest is a most contemptible scoundrel.”

“Are you not able to get up?” asked Val, in a very dutiful and affectionate voice.

“Able enough now, but my head swam a while ago at a deuced rate.  I was drunk, as usual, last night, and could do nothing, not even put a tumbler to my mouth, until I took a stiff glass of brandy and water, and that has set me up again.  When shall I write to young Topertoe, the Cumber blade?”

“The sooner the better, now; but I think you ought to rise and take some exercise.”

“So I shall, immediately, and to-morrow I write then, according to your able instructions, most subtle and sagacious Val.  Are you off?”

“Yes, good-bye, sir, and many thanks.”

“None of your stuff I say, but be off out of this—­” and as he spoke Val disappeared.

So far the first steps for ousting Mr. Hickman were taken by this precious father and his equally valuable son.  Val, however, entertained other speculations quite as ingenious, and far more malignant in their tendency.  Hickman, of course, he might, by undercurrents and manoeuvering, succeed in ejecting from the agency; but he could not absolutely ruin him.  Nothing short of this, however, did he propose to himself, so far as M’Loughlin, and, we may add, every one connected with him, was concerned; for M’Clutchy possessed that kind of economy in his moral feelings, that always prompted him to gratify his interest and his malice by the same act of virtue.  How he succeeded in this benevolent resolution, time and the progress of this truthful history will show.

CHAPTER V.—­A Mysterious Meeting

—­Description of a Summer Evening—­A Jealous Vision—­Letter from Squire Beaker to Lord Cumber—­Lord Cumber’s Reply.

The season was now about the close of May, that delightful month which presents, the heart and all our purer sensations with a twofold enjoyment; for in that sweet period have we not all the tenderness and delicacy of spring, combined with the fuller and more expanded charms of the leafy summer—­like that portion of female life, in which the eye feels it difficult to determine whether the delicate beauty of the blushing girl, or the riper loveliness of the full grown maid, predominates in the person.  The time was evening, about half an hour before that soft repose of twilight, in which may be perceived the subsiding stir of busy life as it murmurs itself into slumber, after the active pursuits of day.  On a green upland lawn, that was a sheep walk, some portions of which were studded over with the blooming and fragrant furze,

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stood an old ecclesiastical ruin, grey from time, and breathing with that spirit of vague but dreamy reverie, which it caught from the loveliness of the season, the calmness and the golden light of the hour, accessories, that, by their influence, gave a solemn beauty to its very desolation.  It reminded one somewhat of the light which coming death throws upon the cheek of youth when he treacherously treads in the soft and noiseless steps of decline—­or rather of that still purer light, which, when the aged Christian arrives at the close of a well spent life, accompanied by peace, and hope, and calmness, falls like a glory on his bed of death.  The ruin was but small, a remnant of one of those humble, but rude temples, in which God was worshipped in simplicity and peace, far from the noisy tumults and sanguinary conflicts of ambitious man.

Through this sweet upland, and close to the ruin, ran a footpath that led to a mountain village of considerable extent.  Immediately behind the ruin stood a few large hawthorn trees, now white with blossoms, whose fragrance made the very air a luxury, and from whose branches came forth those gushes of evening melody that shed tenderness and tranquility into the troubled heart.  The country in the distance lay charmed, as it were, by the calm spirit of peace which seemed to have diffused itself over the whole landscape—­western windows were turned into fire—­the motionless lakes shone like mirrors wherever they caught the beams of the evening light, as did several bends of the broad river which barely moved within its winding banks through the meadows below.  The sun at length became half concealed behind the summit of the western hills, so that his rich and gorgeous beams fell only upon the surrounding uplands, now lit into purple, leaving the valleys and lower parts of the country to repose in that beautiful shadow which can be looked upon from the higher parts, only through the crimson glory of the departing light.  And now the sun has disappeared—­is gone—­but still how beautiful is the fading splendor that sleeps for a little on the mountain tops, then becomes dimmer and dimmer—­then a faint streak which gradually melts away until it is finally lost in the soft shadows of that thoughtful hour.  And even thus passeth away all human glory!  The ruin which we have mentioned stood about half way between the residence of Brian M’Loughlin and the mountain village to which we have alluded.  Proceeding homewards from the latter place, having performed an errand of mercy and charity, was a very beautiful girl, exquisitely formed, but somewhat below the middle size.  She was Brian M’Loughlin’s only daughter—­a creature that breathed of goodness, grace, and all those delightful qualities that make woman a ministering angel amidst the cares, and miseries, and sorrows of life.  Her figure, symmetry itself, was so light, and graceful, and elegant, that a new charm was displayed by every motion, as a new beauty was discovered by

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every change of her expressive countenance; her hair was like the raven’s wing, and her black eye, instead of being sharp and piercing, was more in accordance with the benignity of her character, soft, sweet, and mellow.  Her bust and arm were perfection, and the small white hand and taper fingers would have told a connoisseur or sculptor, that her foot, in lightness and elegance of formation, might have excited, the envy of Iris or Camilla.

Having reached the ruin, she was surprised to see the figure of a thin woman, dressed in black, issue out of it, and approach her with somewhat of caution in her manner.  Mary M’Loughlin was a girl of strong mind and firm character, and not likely to feel alarmed by any groundless cause of apprehension.  She immediately recognized the woman, who was no other than our old friend Poll Doolin, and in the phrases peculiar to the country, made the usual kind inquiry after her health and welfare.

“It’s a very unusual thing, Poll,” she proceeded, “to see you in this part of the neighborhood!”

“It is,” returned Poll, “I wasn’t so near the mountains this many a day; an’ I wouldn’t be here now, only on your account.  Miss M’Loughlin.”

Now, Mary was by no means ignorant of the enmity which this woman entertained against her father and family, in consequence of having prosecuted and transported her profligate son.  Without the slightest apprehension on that account, she felt, however, a good deal puzzled as to the meaning which could be attached to Poll’s words.  “How, on my account, Poll?  I don’t understand you.”

“Neither you nor yours desarve it at my hands; but for all that, I am here to do you a good tarn.”

“I hope I never deserved any evil at your! hands, Poll.”

“No, but you’re your father’s daughter for all that, an’ it’s not usual to hate the tree and spare the branches.”

“I suppose you allude to the transportation of your son; but remember, Poll, that I was only a child then; and don’t forget that had your son been honest, he might I still be a comfort and a credit to you, instead of a shame and a sorrow.  I don’t I mean, nor do I wish to hurt your feelings, Poll; but I am anxious that you should not indulge in such bitterness of heart against my father, who only did what he could not avoid.”

“Well,” said Poll, “never mind that—­although it isn’t aisy for a mother to forget her child wid all his faults; I am here, as I said, on your ’account—­I am here to tell you, that there is danger about you and before you, and to put you on your guard against it.  I am here, Miss Mary M’Loughlin, and if I’m not your friend—­I’m not sayin’ that I am not—­still I’m the friend of one that is your friend, and that will protect you if he can.”

“That is very strange, Poll, for I know not how I can have an enemy.  What danger could a simple inoffensive girl like me feel?  I who have never knowingly offended anybody.”

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“I have said the truth,” replied Poll, “and did my duty—­you’re now warned, so be on your guard and take care of yourself.”

“But how, Poll?  You mention danger, yet have not told me what it is, where it’s to come from, nor how I am to guard myself against it.”

“I’m not at liberty,” said Poll, “but this I can tell you, it’s threatening you, and it comes from a quarther where you’d never look for it.”

Mary, who was neither timid nor surprised, smiled with the confidence of innocence, and replied, after a short pause of thought—­

“Well, Poll, I have been thinking over my friends, and cannot find one that is likely to be my enemy; at all events I am deeply obliged to you, still if you could mention what the danger is, I would certainly feel the obligation to be greater.  As it is, I thank you again.  Good evening!”

“Stay, Miss Mary,” replied Poll, walking eagerly a step or two after her, “stay a minute; I have run a risk in doin’ this—­only promise me, to keep what I said to you a saicret for a while—­as well as that you ever had any private talk wid me.  Promise this.”

“I shall certainly not promise any such thing, Poll; so far from that, I will mention every word of your conversation to my father and family, the moment I reach home.  If, as you say, there is danger before or around me, there are none whose protection I should so naturally seek.”

“But this,” said Poll, with an appearance of deep anxiety, “this is a matther of mere indifference to you:  it’s to me the danger is, if you spake of it—­to me, I say—­not to you.”

“But I can have no secrets from my family.”

“Well, but is it ginerous in you to put me—­ay’, my very life in danger—­when all you have to do is merely to say nothing?  However, since I must speak out—­you’ll put more than me in danger—­them that you love betther, an’ that you’d never carry a light heart if anything happened them.”

Mary started—­and a light seemed suddenly to break upon her.

“How,” said she, “my engagement to Francis Harman is no secret; our marriage at no distant day being sanctioned by both our families.  Is he involved in danger connected with your hints?”

“Deep and deadly, both to him and me.  You don’t know it, Miss Mary.  If you love him, as you do—­as is well known you do—­if you would keep him and my poor worthless self out of danger, may be out of bloodshed—­don’t mention a syllable of this meetin’ to any one; but of all persons livin’ to himself, until I give you lave, until I can tell you it will be safe to do so.  See, I kneel down with hands clasped, I beg it of you for his sake and safety!”

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It was pretty well known through the parish, especially by the initiated, that this same Poll Doolin, had in truth most of its secrets in keeping; and that she had frequently conducted with success those rustic intrigues which are to be found in humble, as well as in high life.  The former part of Poll’s character, however, was all that had ever reached the youthful ears of poor innocent Mary, whilst of her address as a diplomatist in the plots and pursuits of love, she was utterly ignorant.  Naturally unsuspicious, as we have already said, she looked upon the woman’s knowing character rather as a circumstance calculated to corroborate the truth of the mystery which she, must have discovered:  and was so much moved by the unquestionable sincerity of her manner, and the safety of her own lover, that she assured her she would keep the secret, until permitted to divulge it; which she begged might be at as early a period as possible.  Poll thanked her eagerly and gratefully, and in a few minutes, having made a circuit behind the ruin, sought the lower and richer country by a different path.

Mary unconsciously stood for some time after Poll had left her, meditating over the strange and almost unaccountable scene which had just taken place, when a rich voice, with which she was well acquainted, addressed her.  She started, and on turning about, found Francis Harman before her.  Twilight had now nearly passed away, and the dusk of evening was deepening into the darkness of a summer night.

“What on earth are you thinking of alone in this place, my dear Mary, and who was that woman who just left you?”

Mary, though firm of character, was also tender and warm of heart, and felt deeply for those she loved.  The interview with Poll, therefore, had excited apprehensions concerning Harman’s safety, which disturbed her far more than any she felt for herself.  He gave her his right arm as he spoke, and they went on towards her father’s house.

“Good God,” he exclaimed, before she had time to answer him, “what has disturbed or alarmed you, my sweet Mary?  I feel your heart beating against my arm, in a most extraordinary manner.  How is this?”

The consciousness of the injunction so solemnly and recently imposed, distressed her exceedingly.  Her love of truth was like her love of life or of heaven, a sacred and instinctive principle which she must now not only violate, but be forced to run into the hateful practice of dissimulation.  All this passed through her mind in a moment.

“My dear Francis, I will freely admit that the beatings of my heart are not altogether without cause; I have been somewhat disturbed, but it will not signify; I shall be quite well in a moment—­but where did you come from?”

“They told me you had gone up to poor Widow Carrick’s—­and I took the short way, thinking to find you there.  But what has disturbed you, my dear Mary?  Something has, and greatly too.”

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She looked up with an affectionate smile into his face, although there trembled a tear upon her eyelids, as she spoke—­

“Do not ask me, my dear Frank; nor don’t think the circumstance of much importance.  It is a little secret of mine, which I cannot for the present disclose.”

“Well, my love, I only ask to know if the woman that left you was Poll Doolin.”

“I cannot answer even that, Frank; but such as the secret is, I trust you shall soon know it.”

“That is enough, my darling.  I am satisfied that you would conceal nothing from either your family or me, which might be detrimental either to yourself or us—­or which we ought to know.”

“That is true,” said she, “I feel that it is true.”

“But then on the other hand,” said he, playfully, “suppose our little darling were in possession of a secret which we ought not to know—­what character should we bestow on the secret?”

This, though said in love and jest, distressed her so much that she was forced to tell him so—­“my dear Francis,” she replied, with as much composure as she could assume, “do not press me on the subject;—­I cannot speak upon it now, and I consequently must throw myself on your love and generosity only for a short time, I hope.”

“Not a syllable, my darling, on the subject until you resume it yourself—­how are Widow Carrick’s sick children?”

“Somewhat better,” she replied, “the two eldest are recovering, and want nourishment, which, with the exception of my poor contributions, they cannot get.”

“God love and guard your kind and charitable heart, my sweet Mary,” said he, looking down tenderly into her beautiful face, and pressing her arm lovingly against his side.

“What a hard-hearted man that under agent, M’Clutchy, is,” she exclaimed, her beautiful eye brightening with indignation—­“do you know that while her children were ill, his bailiff, Darby O’Drive, by his orders or authority, or some claim or other, took away her goose and the only half-dozen of eggs she had for them—­indeed, Frank, he’s a sad curse to the property.”

“He is what an old Vandal was once called for his cruelty and oppression—­the Scourge of God,” replied Harman, “such certainly the unhappy tenantry of the Topertoe family find him.  Harsh and heartless as he is, however, what would he be were it not for the vigilance and humanity of Mr. Hickman?  But are you aware, Mary, that his graceful son Phil was a suitor of yours?”

“Of mine—–­ha, ha, ha!—­oh, that’s too comical, Frank—­but I am not—­Had I really ever that honor?”

“Most certainly; his amiable father had the modesty to propose a matrimonial union between your family and his!”

“I never heard of it,” replied Mary, “never;—­but that is easily accounted for—­my father, I know, would not insult me by the very mention of it.”

“It’s a fact though, that the illegitimate son of the blasphemous old squire, and of the virtuous and celebrated Kate Clank, hoped to have united the M’Loughlin blood with his!”

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“Hush!” exclaimed Mary, shuddering, “the very thought is sickening, revolting.”

“It’s not a pleasant subject, certainly,” said Harman, “and the less that is said about it the more disgust we shall avoid, at any rate.”

Her lover having safely conducted Mary home, remained with her family only a few minutes, as the evening was advanced, and he had still to go as far as Castle Cumber, upon business connected with the manufactory, which M’Loughlin and his father had placed wholly under his superintendence.

Upon what slight circumstances does the happiness of individuals, nay, even of states and kingdoms, too frequently depend!  Harman most assuredly was incapable of altogether dismissing the circumstance of the evening—­involved in mystery as they unquestionably were—­out of his mind; not that he entertained the slightest possible suspicion of Mary’s prudence or affection; but he felt a kind of surprise at the novelty of the position in which he saw she was placed, and no little pain in consequence of the disagreeable necessity for silence which she admitted had been imposed on her.  His confidence in her, however, was boundless; and from this perfect reliance on her discretion and truth, he derived an assurance that she was acting with strict propriety under the circumstances, whatever might be their character or tendency.

It may be necessary to mention here that a right of passage ran from Beleeven, the name of the village in which M’Loughlin resided, to the Castle Cumber high road, which it joined a little beyond Constitution Cottage, passing immediately through an angle of the clump of beeches already mentioned as growing behind the house.  By this path, which shortened the way very much, Harman, and indeed every pedestrian acquainted with it, was in the habit of passing, and on the night in question he was proceeding along it at a pretty quick pace, when, having reached the beeches just alluded to, he perceived two figures, a male and female, apparently engaged in close and earnest conversation.  The distance at first was too great to enable him to form any opinion as to who they were, nor would he have even asked himself the question, were it not that the way necessarily brought him pretty near them.  The reader may form some conception then of his surprise, his perplexity, and, disguise it as he might, his pain, on ascertaining that the female was no other than Poll Doolin, and her companion, graceful Phil himself—­the gallant and accomplished owner of Handsome Harry.

It appeared quite evident that the subject matter of their conversation was designed for no other ears than their own, or why speak as they did in low and guarded tones, that implied great secrecy and caution.  Nay, what proved still a plainer corroboration of this—­no sooner was the noise of his footsteps heard, than Poll squatted herself down behind the small hedge which separated the pathway from the space on which they stood, and this clearly with a hope

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of concealing her person from his observation.  Phil also turned away his face with a purpose of concealment, but the impression left by his lank and scraggy outline, as it stood twisted before Harman, was such as could not be mistaken.  Poll’s identity not only on this occasion, but also during her hasty separation from Mary, was now established beyond the possibility of a doubt; a fact which lent to both her interviews a degree of mystery that confounded Harman.  On thinking over the matter coolly, he could scarcely help believing that Her appearance here was in some way connected with the, circumstances which had occasioned Mary so much agitation and alarm.  This suspicion, however, soon gave way to a more generous estimate of her character, and he could not permit himself for a moment to imagine the existence of anything that was prejudicial to her truth and affection.  At the same time he felt it impossible to prevent himself from experiencing a strong sense of anxiety, or perhaps we should say, a feeling of involuntary pain, which lay like a dead weight upon his heart and spirits.  In truth, do what he might and reason as he would, he could not expel from his mind the new and painful principle which disturbed it.  And thus he went on, sometimes triumphantly defending Mary from all ungenerous suspicion, and again writhing under the vague and shapeless surmises which the singular events of the evening sent crowding to his imagination.  His dreams on retiring to seek repose were frightful—­several times in the night he saw graceful Phil squinting at him with a nondescript leer of vengeance and derision in his yellow goggle eyes, and bearing Mary off, like some misshapen ogre of old, mounted upon Handsome Harry, who appeared to be gifted with the speed of Hark-away or flying Childers, whilst he himself could do nothing but stand helplessly by, and contemplate the triumph of his hated rival.

In the mean time the respected father and grandfather of that worthy young gentleman were laboring as assiduously for his advancement in life as if he had been gifted with a catalogue of all human virtues.  Old Deaker, true to his word, addressed the very next day the following characteristic epistle—­

“To the Right Hon. Lord Cumber.

“My Lord—­It is unnecessary to tell you that I was, during my life, a plain blunt fellow in all my transactions.  When I was honest, I was honest like a man; and when I did the roguery, I did it like a open, fearless knave, that defied the world and scorned hypocrisy.  I am, therefore, the same consistent old scoundrel as ever; or the same bluff, good-humored rascal which your old father—­who sold his country—­and yourself—­who would sell it too, if you had one to sell—­ever found me.  To make short work, then, I want you to dismiss that poor, scurvy devil, Hickman, from your agency, and put that misbegotten spawn of mine in his place.  I mean Val M’Clutchy, or Val the Vulture, as they have very properly christened

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him.  Hickman’s not the thing, in any sense.  He can’t manage the people, and they impose upon him—­then you suffer, of course.  Bedsides, he’s an anti-ascendancy man, of late, and will go against you at the forthcoming Election.  The fellow pretends to have a conscience, and be cursed to him—­prates about the Union—­preaches against corruption—­and talks about the people, as if they were fit to be anything else than what they are.  This is a pretty fellow for you to have as an agent to your property.  Now, I’ll tell you what, my Lord—­you know old Deaker well.  His motto is—­’Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die—­’ I’ll tell you what, I say; I have a mortgage on your property for fourteen thousand pounds.  Now, put in Val or I’ll be speaking to my lawyer about it.  Put in Val, or you will never warm your posteriors in a seat for this county, so long as I carry the key of it.  In doing so, make no wry faces about it—­you will only serve yourself and your property, and serve Val into the bargain.  Val, to be sure, is as confounded a scoundrel as any of us, but then he is a staunch Protestant; and you ought not to be told at this time of day, that the greater the scoundrel the better the agent.  Would you have a fellow, for instance, whose conscience, indeed, must stand between you and your interest?  Would you have some honest blockhead, who, when you are to be served by a piece of friendly rascality, will plead scruples.  If so, you are a greater fool than I ever took you to be.  Make Val your agent, and it is not you that will suffer by him, but the people—­whom, of course, no one cares a curse about.  I ought to have some claim on you, I think.  Many a lift I have given your precious old father, Tom Topertoe, when I did not think of pleading scruples.  To tell you the truth, many a dirty trick I played for him, and never brought my conscience to account for it.  Make the most of this rascally world, and of the rascals that are in it, for we are all alike in the grave.  Put in Val, then, and don’t made an enemy of

“Your old friend,

“Randal Deaker.

“P.S.—­As to Val, he knows nothing of this transaction—­I told him I would say so, and I keep my word.  I forgot to say that if you write this beggarly devil, Hickman, a sharp letter for money, he may probably save you the trouble of turning him out.  I know him well—­he is a thin skinned fool, and will be apt to bolt, if you follow my advice.

“Yours as you deserve it,

“R D.”

Now, it is necessary to say here, that amidst all this pretence of open villainy, there ran an undercurrent of cunning that might escape the observation of most men.  In truth, old Deaker was not only a knave, but a most unscrupulous oppressor at heart, especially when he happened to get a man in his power from whom he wished to extort a favor, or on whom he wished to inflict an injury.  In the present instance he felt perfectly conscious of his power over the heartless profligate, to whom he wrote such a characteristic letter, and the result shows that he neither miscalculated the feeble principles of his correspondent, nor the consequences of his own influence over him.  By due return of post he received a reply, of which the following is a copy:—­

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“Old Deaker—­You have me fast, and you know it—­so I suppose must is the word; now I’ll tell you what I want, you old villain; I want two thousand pounds, and if M’Clutchy is to get the agency, I must have the money—­so there is my must as well as yours.  In the meantime I have written to Hickman on the same subject, want of money, I mean—­what the consequences may be, I know not, but I fancy I can guess them.

“Yours,

“Cumber.”

CHAPTER VI.—­The Life and Virtues of an Irish Absentee

—­Duties of an Irish Landlord—­An Apologue on Property—­Reasons for Appointing an Agent—­M’Clutchy’s Notions of His Duties—­Receipt to make a Forty Shilling Freeholder.

Lord Cumber to Henry Hickman, Esq.

“London, April 1st, 18—­

“My Dear Hickman,

“I wrote to you the day before yesterday, and, as the letter was one of a very pressing nature, I hope its influence won’t be lost upon you.  To you who are so well acquainted with the cursed pickle in which I am placed, it is unnecessary to say that I shall be fairly done up, unless you can squeeze something for me out of those rascally tenants of mine.  Fairly done up is not the proper term either; for between you and me, I strongly suspect a young fellow called Swingler, an ironmonger’s son, of giving me a twist too much, on more than one occasion.  He was introduced, that is, proposed as a member of our club, by Sir Robert Ratsbane, whose grandfather was a druggist, and seconded by Lord Loadstone, the celebrated lady-killer, as a regular pigeon, who dropped, by the death of old ‘burn the wind,’ into half a million at least.  The fellow did appear to be a very capital speculation, but the whole thing, however, was a trick, as I strongly suspect; for after losing to a tolerably smart tune, our gentleman began to illustrate the doctrine of reaction, and has, under the character of a pigeon, already fleeced half a score of us.  Last week I suffered to the tune of eight hundred—­Sir Heavyhead to that of twelve—­Bill Swag five—­and the Hon. Tom Trickman himself, who scarcely ever loses, gave bills for six fifties.  I can’t stand this, Hickman, that is, I cannot afford to stand it.  What is fifteen thousand a year to a man like me, who must support his rank, or be driven to the purgatorial alternative of being imprisoned on his own estate?  Hickman, you have no bowels for me, although you can have for the hard-fisted boors on my property, who wont pay up as they ought, and all through your indolence and neglect.  You must send me money, get it where you will; beg, borrow, rob, drive, cant, sell out—­for money I must have.  Two thousand within a fortnight, and no disappointment, or I’m dished.  You know not the demands upon me, and therefore you, naturally enough, think very easily—­much too easily—­of my confounded difficulties.  If you had an opera girl to keep, as I have—­and a devilish

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expensive appendage the affectionate jade is—­perhaps you might feel a little more Christian sympathy for me than you do.  If you had the expense of my yacht—­my large stud at Melton Mowbry and Doncaster, and the yearly deficits in my betting book, besides the never ending train of jockies, grooms, feeders, trainers, et hoc genus omne—­to meet, it is probable, old boy, you would not feel so boundless an interest, as you say you do, in the peace and welfare of another man’s tenantry, and all this at that other man’s expense.  You’re confoundedly unreasonable, Hickman.  Why feel, or pretend to feel, more for these fellows, their barelegged wives, and ragged brats, than you do for a nobleman of rank, to whom you are deeply indebted.  I mean you no offence, Hickman; you are in other respects an honest fellow enough, and if possessed of only a little less heart, as the times go, and more skill in raising money from these people, you would be invaluable to such a distressed devil as I am.  As it is, I regret to say, that you are more a friend to my tenantry than to myself, which is a poor qualification for an agent.  In fact, we, the Irish aristocracy living here, or absentees as you call us, instead of being assailed by abuse, want of patriotism, neglect of duties, and all that kind of stuff, have an especial claim upon the compassion of their countrymen.  If you knew what we, with limited means and encumbered properties, must suffer in attempting to compete with the aristocracy of this country, who are enormously rich, you would say that we deserve immortal credit for holding out and keeping up appearances as we do—­not that I think we always come off scott-free from their ridicule, especially when they see the shifts to which we are put, in order to stretch onward at their own pace.  However, we must drink when we are thirsty, as well as they, and if the water happen to be low in the cistern, which, indeed, is mostly the case with us, we must, as the rook in the fable did with the pebbles, throw in rack-renting, drivings, executions, mortgages, loans, &c, in order to bring it within our reach—­for there is ingenuity in everything, as the proverb says, except in roasting of eggs.

“Come, then, Hickman, set to work at once.  My yacht has been damaged by a foolish wager I made to run her through a creek of reefs at low water, so that the mere repairs will cost me a cool two hundred at least.  Besides this, I have pledged myself to buy my charming little Signora a pair of Blenheim spaniels that she has fallen in love with, for which I shall have to fork out a hundred and fifty down.  I say, then, again, my dear Hickman, money, money; money by any means, but by all means money; rem, sed quocunque modo rem.

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“By the way is there not a man there, a kind of under-fellow in something—­agent, I believe—­some time appointed, named M’Snitchy, or M’Smatchey, M’Clutchy, or some such euphonious appellative?  Somebody, old Deaker I think, once mentioned him to me in strong terms, and said he might become capable of being useful; and you know, Hickman, as well as I do, that every property circumstanced as mine is, requires a useful fellow of that particular description.  For instance, I dare say, there are certain proceedings connected with your duty to which you have no great inclination, and, under these circumstances, would it not be prudent at least to resort to the agency of somebody like this M’Clutchy; a fellow not overburthened with too strong a perception of the necessary pressure.  But the truth is, if I proceed in this manner, your humanity, as the cant goes, will take the alarm; you will say that my residence abroad has not improved my principles; and that I am rather strongly tainted with club morality, and the ethics of the gaming, house.  So would you, perhaps, if you breathed my atmosphere, and were exposed to my temptations.  But now I am preaching, and not to the right purpose either; so as I said before, I say again—­money, money, money.

“I am, my dear Hickman,
“Thy friend in distress,
“Cumber.”

Henry Hickman, Esq., to the Right Honorable Lord Viscount Cumber:—­

Primrose Hill, April 18—­

“My Lord: 

“I have had the honor of receiving both your communications, and have read them, especially that of the first instant, with great pain.  I need not tell you, that I have been your father’s friend—­that I have been, and still am your friend, and as such, from my age and anxiety for your lordship’s welfare and reputation, I must take the liberty of one who has both sincerely at heart, to write to you in terms which a mere agent could not with propriety use.  As this letter, therefore, is written for your own eye only, you will be good enough to remember that in everything severe and home-spoken in it, the friend, and not the agent speaks—­at the same time, I must admit, that it is from the knowledge gained as an agent that I remonstrate as a friend.

“It is now beyond a doubt, my Lord, that your position is one surrounded with difficulties scarcely to be surmounted, unless by measures which I, as an honest man, cannot permit myself to adopt.  So long as the course of life, which it has pleased your lordship’s better taste and judgment to pursue, did not bring within the compass of my duties as your agent, the exhibition of principles at variance with humanity and justice, so long did I fulfil those duties with all the ability and zeal for your just interests which I could exert.  But now I perceive, that you have driven me to that line beyond which I cannot put my foot, without dishonor to myself.  I have been the agent of your property, my Lord, but I shall never become the instrument of your vices; and believe

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me, this is a distinction which in our unhappy country, is too seldom observed.  Many an agent, my Lord, has built himself a fortune out of the very necessities of his employer, and left to his children the honorable reflection that their independence originated from profligacy on the one hand and dishonesty on the other.  You see, my Lord, I find it necessary to be very plain with you, and to say, that however you may feel yourself disposed to follow the one course, I shall not rival you in the other.  I cannot become a scourge inflicted by your necessities, not to use a harsher word, upon a suffering people, who are already exhausted and provoked by an excess of severity and neglect.  Think of the predicament in which you would have me stand—­of the defence which you place, in my lips.  Should your tenantry ask me—­’why are you thus cruel and oppressive-upon us?’ what reply could I make but this—­’I am thus cruel because his lordship is profligate.  He wants money to support his-mistress, to feed her vanities and excesses, and you must endure distress and privation, that the insatiable rapacity of a courtezan may be gratified.  His lordship, too, has horses and dogs, in the welfare of which he feels a deep interest.’  ’But why does he not feel an interest in us?’ ’So he does, for are not you the persons by whose toil and labor he is enabled to support them all?’ ’So that in point of fact, we are made indirectly the agents of his crimes.  The privations which we suffer—­the sweat of our brows—­the labor of our hands, go to the-support of his wantonness, his luxury, and his extravagance!  This, then, is his interest in us?’ ’Yes—­work, that you may feed them—­starve, that his mistress may riot in wantonness; perish your children that his dogs may be fed!’ In such a position as this, my Lord, I shall never place myself, but you may easily find many that will.  The moment your necessities are known, knavery will be immediately at work, and assume its guardianship over folly.  Indeed there is a monarchical spirit in knavery, which has never yet been observed.  The knave keeps his fool, as did the kings of old, with this only difference, and a material one it is—­that whilst the fool always lived at the king’s expense, the knave lives at the fool’s.  How your lordship may feel under the new administration I cannot say, but I am inclined to think, you will not find it a distinction without a difference.  By this, of course, you understand, my Lord, that I at once resign my agency.

“And now, my Lord, in addition to many other unavailable remonstrances made by me, not only against your licentious habits as a man, but against your still more indefensible conduct as a landlord, allow me to address you in a spirit of honesty, which I fear is not easily found among the class to which I belong.  I look upon this as a duty which I owe less to you than to my country, because I am satisfied that the most important service which can be rendered to any man, not ashamed of either your habits or principles, is to lay before him a clear, but short and simple statement, of that which constitutes his duty as a landlord—­I should say an Irish landlord—­for there is a national idiosyncrasy of constitution about such a man, which appears to prevent him from properly discharging his duties, either as a friend to himself, or a just man to his tenantry.

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“The first principle, therefore, which an Irish landlord—­or, indeed any landlord—­should lay down, as his fixed and unerring guide, is ever to remember that his tenantry are his best friends—­his only patrons—­and that instead of looking down upon them with contempt, neglect, or even indifference, he should feel that they are his chief benefactors, who prop his influence, maintain his rank, and support his authority.

“The second is—­that the duties of the landlord to his tenantry are much greater, and far more important than those of his tenantry to him, and should at least be quite as equitably and attentively discharged.

“The third is—­to remember that the great mass of the population in Ireland belong to one creed, and the great bulk of landed proprietors to another; and to take care that none of those fierce and iniquitous prerogatives of power, which are claimed and exercised by those who possess property, shall be suffered, in the name of religion, or politics, or prejudice of any kind, to disturb or abridge the civil or religious rights of the people, and thus weaken the bonds which should render the interests of landlord and tenant identical.  Prejudice so exercised is tyranny.  Every landlord should remember that the soil is of no religion.

“The fourth is—­simply to remember that those who live upon our property have bodies and souls, passions, reflections, and feelings like ourselves.  That they are susceptible of hunger, cold, grief, joy, sickness, and sorrow—­that they love their children and domestic relatives, are attached to their religion, bound by strong and heartfelt ties to the soil they live on, and are, in fact, moved by all those general laws and principles of life and nature, which go to make up social and individual happiness—­to remember, in short, that they are men who have higher destinies in life, than merely administering to the wants, excesses, or crimes of others; and that no condition has ever yet been known to subsist between landlord and tenant, or even between man and man, by which one party is required to surrender comfort, freedom, and enjoyment, in fact, all that life is good for, merely to gratify the wants, vices, or ambition of the other.

“The fifth and last is—­not by oppression, cruelty, or rapacity, to goad the people into madness and outrage, under the plausible name of law or justice; or to drive the national mind—­which is a clear one—­into reflections that may lead it to fall back upon first principles, or force it to remember that the universal consent by which the rights of property are acknowledged, may, under the exasperation of overstrained pressure, in a land so peculiarly circumstanced as Ireland is, be altogether withheld, and thus its whole foundations shaken or overturned, and the justice of individual claims and prescriptive right lost in the tumult.

“These principles are simple, my Lord, but they ought at least to be better known, or what would be still more desirable, better practised.  As, however, my paper is nearly filled, I shall finish my communication with a short fab!e, to which I beg your lordship’s serious attention.

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“There lived a man once, who was foolish enough to entertain a senseless prejudice against cows, because they did not give milk all the year round.  This man was married, and of course, had a numerous family of children, and being very lazy and improvident, depended principally upon the kindliness of an excellent cow, whose milk was the chief means of his support and theirs.  At length in the due course of time, the poor cow, as every one must know, began to yield it in diminished quantities, and as it happened to be a severe year, and as the lazy man we speak of had made no provision for its occurrence, it is unnecessary to say that he and his family were put to the greatest straits for subsistence.  Finding, after much deliberation, that the poor animal, which they kicked and cudgelled to excess could not change the laws of nature, or afford them that which she did not possess, it was determined by her proprietor, that as she failed in supplying them with sufficient milk they should try the fleams, and have recourse to her blood, in order to eke out their support.  Accordingly she was bled, along with being milked; but if the quantity of milk she gave before was little, it now became less, so that in proportion as they drew upon the one the other diminished, as was but natural.  In this way they proceeded, milking and bleeding the poor animal at the same time, not only without any benefit to themselves, but with a certain prospect of her ultimate loss, when one day the cow, after having ruminated for some time on the treatment she was receiving, began to reflect that she could not be much worse, or rather that she must soon altogether sink under this system of double drainage.  ‘Well’ thought she, ’I feel how matters must close with me at last; I am indeed near the end of my tether; what have I now to fear when I know that I cannot be worse?  And if I am to die, as I must, is it not better to have satisfaction for my sufferings’?  Accordingly, me next morning when her owner went to get blood for their breakfast, it so happened that the cow thrust a horn into him, and he was found lying a corpse under her lifeless carcase—­the last drop of her blood having been expended under the final operation of the fleams.  My Lord, the moral of this is as obvious as it is fearful—­and fearfully have the circumstances of the country, and the principles of such men as you, caused it to be illustrated.  If landlords will press too severely upon the functions of human suffering and patience, it is not to be surprised, although it is to be deplored, that where no legal remedy exists against individual cruelty or rapacity, or that plausible selfishness, which is the worst species of oppression—­that the law, I say, which protects only the one party should be forgotten or despised by the other, and a fiercer code of vengeance substituted in its stead.

“With respect to Mr. M’Clutchy, surely your lordship must remember that by your own letter he was appointed under agent more than three years ago.

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“If, after the many remonstrances I have had occasion to make against his general conduct to the tenants, you consider him a useful man upon your property, you will, in that case, have to abide the consequences of your confidence in him.  You are, at all events, duly forewarned.

“I now must beg leave, my Lord, to render up my trust, to resign my situation as the agent of your estates—­I do so with pain, but the course of your lordship’s life has left me no other alternative.  I cannot rack and goad your tenants, nor injure your own property.  I cannot paralyze industry, cramp honest exertion, or distress poverty still further, merely to supply necessities which are little less than criminal in yourself and ruinous to your tenantry.

“Believe me, my Lord, I would not abandon you in your difficulties, if I saw any honorable means of extricating you from them.  You know, however, that every practicable step has been taken for that purpose, but without effect—­your property should grow rapidly indeed, in order to keep pace with the increasing and incessant demands which are made upon it.  We can borrow no more, and the knowledge of that fact alone, ought to set a limit to your extravagance.  Excuse this plainness, my Lord, it is well meant and void of intentional offence.

“I shall be ready in a few days to deliver all books, papers, documents, &c, connected With the property, to any person duly authorized by your Lordship to receive them.

“I have the honor to be, &c,

“Henby Hickman.”

The Right Honorable Lord Cumber to Valentine M’Clutchy:—­

Doncaster, April, 18—­

“Sir: 

“In consequence of certain communications which have passed between Mr. Hickman and myself, I have determined that he shall no longer act in the capacity of my agent.  The situation is therefore open, and, until a competent person shall be appointed, I authorize you to discharge its duties, and receive from him a correct statement of all accounts between us, together with all deeds, leases, books, papers, &c, in his possession; you first having procured me adequate security, the amount of which will be determined by M’Slime, my law agent, who will join or aid you in making all necessary arrangements.

“You will also have the goodness, as soon afterwards as you feel it practicable, to transmit me a bond fide account of the Ballyrocket and Tulygrindem estates, their capability of improvement, condition of the tenantry, what leases are expired, if any, and those which will soon drop, with a view of seeing what can be made out of it.  In this, also, M’Slime will aid you.

“As to the person who may succeed Hickman, as a necessary preliminary he must lay down two thousand pounds, in the shape of an equivalent for the appointment.  Could you within a fortnight or so, raise so much?  If so, let me hear from you without delay, as it is not unlikely in that case, I may appoint yourself.

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“By the way, do you understand the manufacture of forty shilling free-holders in an economical way, because if you do, it would be a desideratum.  Parliament, it is said, will be dissolved in June, and I want, as well as I can remember, nearly two hundred votes.  My brother lost the last election by something about that number, and I know he feels very anxious to get into parliament for many reasons.  He is now on the continent, where he has been for the last three years.”

Valentine M’Clutchy, Esq., to the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Cumber:—­

“My Lord: 

“I have had the honor of receiving your Lordship’s kind communication, to which I hasten to make the earliest possible reply.  And first, my Lord, allow me to return sincere thanks for your warm kindness, in promising to appoint me your agent.  You may rest assured, my Lord, that I will go through my duties as such without favor or affection to any one, barring your lordship, whose interests it will night and day become my duty to study.  With, respect to the loan your lordship makes allusion to, I fear it will be out of my power to raise it—­that is to the full amount; but if one-half would do, I might by the aid of friends get it together.  As for security, I trust it is only necessary to say, that Randal Deaker and Cadwallader Tullywagger, Esqrs., are ready to give it to any amount, so that there is no difficulty there at all events.

“On looking again at your lordship’s kind letter, it appears possible that I made a mistake in considering the two thousand as a loan; but on the other hand, there is not a man living, who respects the high principles and delicate feelings of our aristocracy more than I do, and the consequence was, that I feared in supposing it otherwise than a loan, I might offend your lordship’s keen sense of honor, which I pledge my credit and reputation would grieve my heart even to think of.  Under this impression, then, I shall continue to believe it a loan, until I have the honor of hearing from your lordship again.

“Your anxiety, my Lord, to ascertain the state of your property and the condition of your tenantry is certainly honorable to yourself, as being a direct proof of the generous interest you feel in their welfare.  It is fortunate in this instance, that your lordship should apply to a man who has had the opportunities of becoming acquainted with both.  True, I am a simple-minded man, my Lord, and if I possess one quality more than another it is a love of truth, and a slow, but straightforward perseverance in whatever is right.  It is to this, always under Providence, that I owe everything.  I grant indeed, that it ill becomes me to speak in this manner of myself, but my object in doing so is, that as I am about to enter into communications touching your lordship’s tenants and property, you may be induced to place the fullest confidence in whatever I shall say.  Many a time, indeed, my excellent and worthy friend, Mr.

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Hickman, has made the same observation, and I felt it gratifying in the highest degree to hear this from a man who is truth itself, and whose only fault is—­if it be one—­that his heart is too kind, and rather easily imposed on by those who deal in fraud and cunning.  A man like him, who, if he cannot speak well of an absent friend, will be silent, is a jewel in this life which ought to be worn in the very core of the heart.

“With respect to the Ballyracket estate, of which I shall speak first, I cannot report so favorably as I could wish.  The task, in fact, is to me, personally, a very painful one; especially with reference to that well meaning and estimable gentleman, Mr. Hickman.  In the first place, my Lord, the tenantry are not at all in arrears, a circumstance which is by no means in favor of the landlord, especially an Irish one.  Every one knows that an Irish landlord has other demands upon his tenantry besides the payment of their rents.  Is there no stress, for instance, to be laid upon his political influence, which cannot be exerted unless through their agency?  Now a tenant not in arrears to his landlord is comparatively independent, but it is not with an independent tenantry that a landlord can work his wishes.  No, my Lord; the safe principle is to keep the tenant two or three gales behind, and if he fails in submission, or turns restiff, and becomes openly contumacious, then you have the means of rectifying the errors of his judgment in your own hands, and it can be done with the color of both law and justice, behind which any man may stand without the imputation of harsh motives, or an excessive love of subordination.  I am sorry that Mr. Hickman should differ with me on this point, for he is a man whose opinions are very valuable on many things, with the exception of his amiable and kind-hearted obstinacy.

“The next disadvantage to your interests, my Lord, is another error—­I am sorry to be forced to say it—­of Mr. Hickman.  That gentleman is an advocate for education and the spread of knowledge.  Now if an agent were as much devoted to the interests of the people as he is and ought to be to those of the landlord, this principle might pass; but as I take it, that the sole duty of an agent is to extend the interest of his employer exclusively, so am I opposed to any plan or practice by which the people may be taught to think too clearly.  For let me ask, my Lord, what class of persons, at the approach of an election, for instance, or during its continuance, are most available for our interests?  Who are driven without reluctance, without thought, or without reason, in blind and infatuated multitudes, to the hustings?  Certainly not those who have been educated, or taught to think and act for themselves; but the poor and the ignorant.  And, my Lord, is not the vote of an ignorant man as valid in law as one who is enlightened?  For these reasons, then, I do not approve of the new schools which Mr. Hickman has established; and I was pleased to hear that your lordship was sufficiently awake to your own interests, to decline granting them any support.  No, my Lord; an educated people will be a thinking people—­a thinking people will be an independent people—­but an independent people will not be a manageable people; and if that is not placing the subject in a satisfactory light, I know not what is.

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“I need scarcely assure you, my Lord, that in my own humble way, I did everything I reasonably could to discountenance the education system.  I even went so far as to prevent several of the tenants from sending their children to these schools; but, as usual, I experienced but little gratitude at their hands, or at those of their parents.  This, however, was not so much owing to my interference, as to the accidental circumstance of three or four of them having been hanged or transported for crimes which they were base enough to impute to the ignorance occasioned by my principles—­for so they spoke.

“Such then is the condition of the Ballyracket tenantry.  They are not in arrears, and you may consequently guess at the wretched state of their moral feelings.  They are, in fact, every day becoming more aware of the very kind of knowledge which we don’t wish them to possess.  They do not slink aside when they see you now; on the contrary, they stand erect, and look you fearlessly in the face.  Upon my credit and reputation this is truth—­melancholy truth, my Lord—­and I fear that at the next election you will find it so to your cost.

“I have lost no time in ascertaining the other particulars mentioned in your lordship’s letter.  The leases of three townlands expired on March last.  They are Derrydowny, Cracknaboulteen, and Ballyweltem.  The principal tenant of Derrydowny is a very respectable widow—–­one Mrs. M’Swaddle—­a woman of serious habits, if not of decided piety.  She has three daughters, all of whom sit under the ministration of a Mr. Bolthan—­which is pronounced Bottom—­a young preacher, belonging to the Methodist connection.  They are to all appearance well in the world, keep a conversation car, and have the reputation of being very honest and saving—­Old M’Swaddle himself was a revenue collector, and it is said, died richer than they are willing to admit.  Cracknaboulteen is altogether in the possession of the celebrated family of the M’Kegs—­or, as they are called, the Five Sols—­the name of each being Solomon, which is shortened into Sol.  There is lame Sol, blind Sol, long Sol, uncertain Sol, and Sol of the mountain.  They are celebrated distillers of poteen whiskey, but are not rich.  The estate, in fact, would be better without them, were it not for their votes.  The townland of Ballyweltem is principally the property of a wild faction, named M’Kippeen, whose great delight is to keep up perpetual feud against an opposite faction of the O’Squads, who on their part are every whit as eager for the fray as their enemies.  These are also poor enough, and in an election are not to be depended on.  I should say, in addition to this, that several renewal, fines will fall in during the course of the winter.  I shall, however, examine the leases, and other documents, still more searchingly, and see what can be got out of it, and how far we can go.

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“The Tullygrindem estate is, I am sorry to say, in a still more disheartening condition.  There is a very bitter and knowing family living on the townland of Beleeven, named M’Loughlin, who contrive to spread dangerous and destructive principles among the tenantry.  They are cunning, unscrupulous, and vindictive, but cautious, plausible, and cloaked with the deepest hypocrisy.  I have been endeavoring for years to conciliate, or rather, reform them by kindness, but hitherto without effect; whether I shall ultimately succeed in purifying this fountain-head of bigotry and unconstitutional principle—­I do not wish to use a shorter, but a much stronger term—­I cannot yet say.  I shall, at all events, from a sense of justice to you, my Lord, and of kindness—­mistaken it may be, I grant you—­to them, continue to make the desirable attempt.  My amiable friend, Hickman, has certainly been made the dupe of their adroitness, but, indeed, he is too simple and credulous for this world, as every kind-hearted man, with great benevolence and little judgment, usually is.  If I had not risen honestly and honorably, as I trust I may say, through the gradations of office upon this property, I think it probable I, might myself have been deceived and misled by the natural and seductive tact of this dangerous family.  Mr. Hickman espouses their quarrel, not exactly their quarrel, but their cause against me; but that is so completely in accordance with his easy simplicity of character, and his pardonable love of popularity, that it rather endears him to, me than otherwise.

“Indeed, I may say, my Lord, candidly and confidentially, that there is a spirit abroad upon your estates, which requires to be vigilantly watched, and checked with all due and reasonable promptitude; I allude principally to these M’Loughlins, and when I state that my excellent and well disposed friend is absolutely popular among your tenantry, even although he made them pay up to the very last gale, and that I am by no means in good odor with them, you will not be surprised when I furnish your lordship with a key to this same state of feeling which exists so generally in this country.  This, then, my Lord, is the secret:—­whenever an Irish agent devotes himself honestly to the wants, wishes, and interests of his employer, especially if he be needy and pressed for money, so sure will he become unpopular with the tenantry.  Now, I am somewhat unpopular with the tenantry, and my amiable friend, Hickman, is beloved by them; but I think your lordship by this time understands the why and the wherefore on both sides.  As your agent, my Lord, I should regret such popularity, at the same time, I think the intentions of poor, sweet, amiable Hickman’s heart, are such as we must all love and admire.

“With respect, my Lord, to the manufacture of the “forties,” as a certain comical class of freeholders are termed, I could have easily undertaken to double the number you mention, on the most reasonable terms, were it not for the discouraging system adopted by Mr. Hickman.  As it is, I must see what can be done; but your lordship knows that I can take no step either in this or anything else, until my appointment shall be finally confirmed.  Perhaps you are not aware of the remarkable document, on the subject in question, which has recently gone its rounds in this country.  It is called—­

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“‘A RECEIPT TO MAKE A FORTY SHILLING FREEHOLDER.’

“’Take the poorest Irishman you can get, he must be destitute and ignorant, for then he will be slavish, give him a mud cabin, but no education; let the former be a bad model of an indifferent pig-stye, and held at thrice its value.  Put him to repose on a comfortable bed of damp straw, with his own coat and his wife’s petticoat, for bed-clothes.  Pamper him on two half meals of potatoes and point per day—­with water ad libitum.  For clothing—­let him have a new shirt once every three years—­to give him exercise and keep him clean—­a hat once in every seven, and brogues whenever he can get them.  His coat and breeches—­lest he might grow too independent—­must be worn upon the principle of the Highlander’s knife, which, although a century in the family, was never changed, except sometimes the handle and sometimes the blade.  Let his right to vote be founded upon a freehold property of six feet square, or as much as may be encompassed by his own shift, and take care that there be a gooseberry bush in the centre of it; he must have from four to ten children, as a proof of his standing in society, all fashionably dressed, and coming at the rate of one every twelve months.  Having thus, by a liberal system of feeding and clothing, rendered him strong for labor, you must work him from dark to dark—­pay him fourpence a day for three quarters of the year, with permission to beg or starve for the remainder.  When in health task him beyond his strength, and when sick neglect him—­for there is nothing so beautiful as kindness in a landlord, and gratitude in a tenant—­and thus will your virtues become reciprocal.  He must live under a gradation of six landlords, so that whoever defaults, he may suffer—­and he will have the advantage of six tyrants instead of one.  Your agent is to wheedle, and your bailiff to bully him; the one must promise, and the other threaten; but if both fail, you must try him yourself.  Should he become intractable under all this, you must take purer measures.—­Compliment him on his wife—­praise and admire his children—­play upon his affections, and corrupt him through his very virtues—­for that will show that you love your country and her people better than your own interests.  Place a promise of independence on one side of him, but a ruined cottage and extermination on the other.  When all his scruples are thus honorably overcome, and his conscience skilfully removed, take him for twenty minutes or so out of his rags, put him into a voting suit that he may avoid suspicion, bring him up to the poll—­steep him in the strongest perjury, then strip him of his voting suit, clap him into his rags, and having thus fitted him for the perpetration of any treachery or crime, set him at large once more, that he may disseminate your own principles upon your own property, until you may require him again.  Having thus honestly discharged your duty to God and your country, go calmly to your pillow, where you can rest in the consciousness of having done all that a virtuous man and true patriot can do, to promote the comfort and independence of his fellow creatures.’

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“I have the honor to be, &c., &c.,
“VAL M’CLUTCHY,”

Lord Cumber to Solomon M’Slime, Esq., Attorney at Law: 

“DEAR SIR: 

“Enclosed is a letter to Mr. M’Clutchy, which I will trouble you to forward to him as soon as you can.  It contains his appointment to the vacant agency, together with the proper power of attorney, and I have every reason to hope that my property will improve under him.  I did think it no breach of any honorable principle to make him advance, by way of compensation, the sum of two thousand pounds.  It is a thing very usually done, I am aware, and by men who would not bear any imputation against their honor.  But I know not how it is, his letter has deterred me from taking the money in that light.  It would be certainly too bad to allow a person of his birth and standing in the world to teach one of mine a lesson in delicacy of feeling.  For this reason, then, let him advance the money on the usual terms of loan:—­that you can adjust between you.  All I ask is, that you will not lose one moment of unnecessary time in accomplishing this business, and remitting the money.  Two thousand in a fortnight will be of more value to me than four in a month, owing to the peculiar difficulties in which I am placed.

“Yours, CUMBER.

“P.S.—­I say, my little saint, I hope you are as religious as ever—­but in the meantime as it is not unlikely—­but on the contrary very probable—­if not altogether certain—­that I shall be in Ireland should the election take place, I trust you will have the kindness to let me know if there’s e’er a pretty girl in the neighborhood—­that wants a friend and protector—­ha, ha, ha—­as great a sinner as ever, you see—­but for that reason you know the more entitled to your prayers for my conversion.  The greater the saint, the greater the sinner now-a-days—­or is it the other way?  I forget.

“CUMBER.”

Lord Cumber to Val M’Clutchy, enclosed in the above: 

“Dear Sir: 

“I am very happy in appointing you to the important situation of my agent, with all the necessary powers and authority to act as may best seem to you for my advantage.  The money I will take on your own terms, only I beg that you will lose no time in remitting it.  I agree with you in thinking that Mr. Hickman, however well meaning, was deficient in firmness and penetration of character, so far as the tenants were concerned; and I would recommend you to avoid the errors which you perceived in him.  With many principles laid down in your letter I agree, but not with all.  For instance, if I understand you right, you would appear to advocate too much indulgence to the tenantry at my expense; for what else is allowing them to run into arrears.  This certainly keeps the money out of my pocket, and you cannot surely expect me to countenance such a proceeding as that:—­whilst I say this, it is due to you that I consider your ultimate object a correct one.  Property loses

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a great portion of its value, unless a landlord’s influence over the people be as strong as his right to the soil; and for this reason, the duty of every landlord is to exercise as powerful a control over the former, and get as much out of the latter as he can.  The landlords, to be sure, are of one religion and the people of another; but so long as we can avail ourselves of the latter for political purposes, we need care but little about their creed.  The results in this case are precisely the same as if the country were Protestant, and that is as much as we want.  Indeed I question if the whole Irish population were Protestant to-morrow, whether the fact would not be against us.  I now speak as identifying myself with British interests.  Would we find them as manageable and as easily shaped to our purposes?  I fear not.  They would demand education, knowledge, and all the fulness of civil liberty; they would become independent, they would think for themselves, and in what predicament would that place us?  Could we then work our British interests, foster British prejudices, and aid British ambition as we do?  Certainly not, unless we had the people with us, and without them we are nothing.

“On the whole, then, so long as we continue to maintain our proper influence over them, I think, without doubt, we are much safer as we stand.

“With respect to the discharge of your duty, your own judgment will be a better guide than mine.  As I said before, avoid Hickman’s errors; I fear he was too soft, credulous, and easily played upon.  Excess of feeling, in fact, is a bad qualification in an agent.  Humanity is very well in its place; but a strong sense of duty is worth a thousand of it.  It strikes me, that you would do well to put on a manner in your intercourse with the tenants, as much opposed to Hickman’s as possible.  Be generally angry, speak loud, swear roundly, and make them know their place.  To bully and browbeat is not easily done with success, even in a just cause, although with a broken-spirited people it is a good gift; but after all I apprehend the best method is just to adapt your bearing to the character of the person you have to deal with, if you wish, as you ought, to arrive at that ascendency of feeling on your part, and subserviency on theirs, which are necessary to keep them in proper temper for your purposes.

“Your receipt for making a forty shilling freeholder contains many excellent ingredients, but I do not think it was honestly drawn up; that is, I believe it to be the production of some one who was not friendly to that system of franchise.  I have little else to say, except that you will find it necessary I think to be very firm and rigorous.  Remember that we are here to-day, and gone to-morrow; so upon this principle keep them moving at a steady pace.  In three words, think of my difficulties, and get all you can out of them—­still remembering, as we say in the ring, never to train them below their strength, for that would be the loss of our own battle.

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“Yours,
“Cumber.”

Solomon M’Slime, Esq., Attorney-at-law, to Lord Cumber,

“My esteemed Lord: 

“I had the unmerited honor—­for, indeed, to a man sensible of his many frailties as I am, I feel it is an unmerited honor—­to receive any communication from one whom the Lord hath exalted to a place of such high rank in this world, as that which your lordship so worthily fills.  It gives me great gratification, my Lord, to learn from your last letter that you have appointed my friend, Mr. Valentine M’Clutchy, as your agent.  I am not in the habit of attributing such circumstances as this—­being, as they generally are, matters of mere worldly prudence and convenience—­to any over-ruling cause from above; but truly the appointment of such a man at this particular time, looks as if there were a principle of good at work for your lordship’s interests.  May you continue, as you do, to deserve it!  Your change of agents is, indeed, one that, through the talent, energy, and integrity of Mr. M’Clutchy, is likely to redound much and largely to your own benefit.  In his capacity of under agent, I have had frequent opportunities of transacting business with him; and when I contrast his quickness, clearness, honesty, and skill, with the evident want of——­but no, my Lord; far be it from me, as a Christian man, to institute any rash comparison either in favor of my fellow-creature or against him, so long as sin and prejudice even for that which is good, and frailty, may render us, as they often do, liable to error.  In Mr. M’Clutchy it is possible I may be mistaken; in Mr. Hickman it is possible I may be mistaken—­I am not infallible—­I am frail—­a very sinner, but not removed wholly, I would trust, out of the range of grace.  My Lord, I say again, that, as a conscientious man, and as far as mere human reason—­which is at best but short-sighted—­enables me to judge, I am truly cheered in spirit by this, I trust, providential change in the agency of your property.  My Lord, in my various correspondence, I generally endeavor to make it a rule not to forget my Christian duties, or, so to speak, to cast a single grain of the good seed into the hearts of those to whom I am privileged to write.  The calls of religion are, indeed, strong upon us, if we permitted ourselves to listen to them as we ought.  Will your lordship then pardon me for reminding you, that, however humble the instrument, I have before now been the honored means of setting your godly examples of charity before the world, with the single-hearted purpose and hope that it might imitate your virtues.  There is in the neighborhood a case at present of great distress, in the person of a widow and her three young children, who have been left destitute by the guilt and consequent deportation of her unhappy husband to Australia, for the crime of feloniously abstracting live mutton.  I defended him professionally, or, I should say—­although I do not boast of it—­with an eye to the relief of his interesting wife, but without success; and what rendered his crime more unpardonable, he had the unparalleled wickedness to say, that he was instigated to it by the ill-advice and intemperate habits of this amiable woman.  Will your lordship, then, allow me to put your honored name in the list of her Christian friends?  Allow me, my Lord, to subscribe myself,

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“Your lordship’s frail, unworthy,
“But faithful and honored servant,
“Solomon M’Slime.”

“P.S.—­With respect to your jocose and ironical postscript, may I again take the liberty of throwing in a word in season.  If your lordship could so far assume a proper Christian seriousness of character, as to render the act of kindness and protection on your part such as might confer a competent independence upon a female of religious dispositions, I doubt not, should your lordship’s charity continue unabated on your arrival here, that some such desirable opportunity might offer, as that of rescuing a comely but desolate maiden from distress.

“There is, indeed, a man here living on your lordship’s property, who has a daughter endowed with a large portion of that vain gift called beauty.  Her father and family are people of bad principle, without conscience or honesty, and, withal, utterly destitute of religion—­not but that they carry themselves very plausibly to the world.  Among such people, my Lord, it is not possible that this engaging damsel, who is now so youthful and innocent, could resist the evil influence of the principles that prevail in her family.  Indeed, her abiding among them cannot be for her welfare in any sense.

“I have the honor, &c.”

Valentine M’Clutchy, Esq., to Solomon M’Slime.

“My dear M’Slime: 

“As it is beyond any doubt, that in the fair discharge of our duty, you and I can be mutually serviceable to each other; and as it is equally evident that it is our interest, and what is more, the interest of Lord Cumber, that we should be so, I therefore think it right to observe, that in all transactions between us, each should treat the other with the most perfect confidence.  For this reason, I beg to assure you, once for all, that in any proceeding that may appear harsh towards any of his lordship’s tenantry, I am and shall be actuated by no other feeling, than a strong, conscientious sense of my duty to him.  This is, was, and will bo the principle of my whole life.  And you know very well, my dear M’Slime, that if I were less devoted to those interests than I am, my popularity would be greater among the tenantry.  Indeed, few men have a right to know this better than yourself, inasmuch as you stand in precisely the same beloved relation to them that I do.

“Our excellent friend Hickman is a very worthy man and exceedingly well meaning.  Don’t you think so?  Oh, I am sure you do.  Yet I know not how it happened that he left out of his system of agency some of the most valuable rights and privileges of the landlord.  These I will mention to you when I see you, and when I have more time.  I consequently must say, that in attempting to revive these rights, even while I was deputy-agent, the unjust odium that is falling upon me already, even while I had scarce time to move in them, ought rather to be—­that is morally speaking—­visited upon him who allowed them to lapse.  Now that the fine old

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leases of the M’Loughlins and the Harmans, and others, have dropped, what can I do but study Lord Cumber’s interest, in the first instance?  Not but I would serve them if I could, and will if I can.  I bear them no ill-feeling; and if they have joined in the calumnies and threats that are so unjustly uttered against me, what can I do, and what ought I do, but return good for evil?  You, as a truly religious and pious man, will feel delighted to support me in this principle, and also to aid me in bearing it practically out.  Any services of a similar kind that I can honestly and conscientiously render you—­and none other would you accept—­I shall be on my part delighted to offer.  In the meantime, let me have your excellent advice as to the most efficient means of stifling the unreasonable murmurs that are rising among the people—­and as touching M’Loughlin’s and Harman’s properties, I should be glad to see you, in order to consult upon what may or can be done for them, always compatibly with Lord Cumber’s interests.

“The pair of turkies which I send you are the result of my reviving one of his lordship’s rights.  They are duty-turkies, and I do not think they will eat the worse for the blessings which Darby O’Drive tells me accompanied them; at least I don’t find they do.

“All that I have yet written, however, is only preliminary; but now to business.  I have received the letter which Lord Cumber transmitted to me, under your frank, in which I am appointed his head agent.  He also is willing to accept the two thousand pounds on my own terms—­that is, of course, as a loan, at the usual rate of interest.  But don’t you think, my dear M’Slime, that with respect to this large sum, an understanding might be entered into—­or rather an arrangement made, in a quiet way, that would, I flatter myself, turn out of great ultimate advantage to his lordship.  The truth is, that Lord Cumber, like most generous men, is very negligent of his own interests—­at least much more so than he ought to be; and it would be most beneficial to him, in every sense, to have a person managing his estates, in the best possible condition to serve him.  His property, in fact, is not represented in the grand jury panel of the county.  This is a great loss to him—­a serious loss.  In the first place, it is wretchedly, shamefully deficient in roads—­both public and private.  In the next place, there are many rents left unpaid, through the inability of the people, which we could get paid by the making of these roads, and other county arrangements, which the ill-thinking call jobs.  In the third and last place, he has on his property no magistrate friendly to his aforesaid interests, and who would devote himself to them with suitable energy and zeal.  Indeed, with regard to the murmurings and heart-burnings alluded to, I fear that such a magistrate will soon become a matter of necessity.  There is a bad spirit rising and getting abroad, wherever it came from—­and

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you know, my dear M’Slime, that it could not proceed from either you or me.  You know that—­you feel it.  Now, what I would propose is this—­Lord Cumber has sufficient interest with the government, to have me—­all-unworthy as I am—­appointed a magistrate.  Let the government but hint to the chancellor, and the thing is done.  In that event, instead of giving him this large sum of money as a loan, let it go as a per contra to my appointment to the bench.  And there is another consideration by no means to be overlooked, which is, that by this arrangement the government would be certain to have in the commission a man who would prove himself one of the precise class which they stand in need of—­that is, a useful man, devoted to their wishes.

“Now, my dear M’Slime, I mention this to you with all the confidence of unshaken friendship.  From you these representations will go to his lordship with a much better grace than they would from me.  Tell him in your own peculiar way, that he shall have the two thousand for the magistracy.  That is my first object as his friend—­this once obtained, I have no doubt of seeing myself, ere long, a member of the grand panel, and capable of serving him still more extensively.

“Believe me to be,
“My dear M’Slime, &c,
“Valentine M’Clutchy.

“P.S.—­I heard you once express a wish about a certain farm—­but mum’s the word—­only this, I have something in my eye for you.”

Solomon M’Slime to the Right Hon. Lord Cumber:—­

“My Gracious Lord: 

“I, of course, cannot look upon the condition you annex to the appointment of the agent as unreasonable, although my friend M’Clutchy insists, he says, for the honor of the aristocracy, that it was a mistake on your lordship’s part, and that a loan only was meant.  Be this as it may, I humbly hope a thought has been vouchsafed to me, by which the matter may, under Providence, assume a more agreeable character for all parties.  Last night, my Lord, immediately after family worship, I found myself much refreshed in mind, but rather jaded in my poor sinful body, after the fatigues of the day—­for, indeed, I had ridden a good deal since morning.  However, I desired Susanna—­a pious young person, who acts as children’s maid, and understands my habits—­to procure me a little hot water and sugar, into which, out of a necessary regard for health, which is imposed as a duty on us all, I poured a little brandy, partly for sustainment and partly to qualify the water.  Having swallowed a little of this I found the two principles combine together, almost like kindred spirits, and consequently experienced both nourishment and edification from the draught.  It was then, my Lord, that it was given me to turn my mind upon the transaction alluded to, I mean the condition of paying two thousand pounds for the privilege of managing your property.  Indeed the thing was vouchsafed to me in this light;—­your property, my Lord, is not represented in the grand panel of the

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county, which is certainly a serious loss to you, as there is no one here to advocate your interests, especially since poor Mr. Deaker’s infirmities (would that they were all only of the body!) have caused him to attend the grand jury less frequently.  Many arrangements might be advantageously made, by which your lordship would indirectly benefit;—­that is, the money, so to speak, might be made to go into one pocket, in order that it should be transferred to yours.  Then you have not; a magistrate in your estates devoted to your special interests, as you ought to have; this is a very necessary thing, my Lord, and to which I humbly endeavor to direct your attention.  Again, my Lord, you have no magistrate of true Protestant and Ascendancy principles, who from time to time, might manifest to the government that you did not forget their interests no more than your own.  Now, my Lord, what man can be, or is better qualified to serve your Lordship in all these capacities than that staunch and unflinching Protestant, Mr. Val M’Clutchy?  In what individual could the commission of the peace more appropriately or worthily rest than in your own agent?  I therefore beg your lordship to turn this in your mind, and if advised by one so humble, I would suggest the trial of a short prayer previous to entering on it.  Should you exert your influence for that purpose with the government, the gracious, I trust I may call it so—­appointment—­would be immediately made, and I think I know the grateful disposition of Mr. M’Clutchy sufficiently well to assure your lordship, that from a thorough Christian sense of your kindness, the two thousand pounds will be, on that condition, placed in your lordship’s hands.

“I have the honor to be, my Lord,
“Solomon M’Slime.

“P.S.  Mr. M’Clutchy is ignorant that a suggestion so well calculated to advance the best interests of general religion, has been graciously intimated to one so unworthy as I am.”

Lord Cumber to Solomon M’Slime, Esq:—­

“It is done—­a bargain—­I have arranged the business here with the secretary, and am obliged to you, my sleek little saint, for suggesting it; I wonder M’Clutchy himself did not think of it.  I feel glad the old leases have dropped, for I am sure, that between you and him, you will take out of these farms all that can be taken.  Of course M’Clutchy and you are at liberty to revive anything you like, provided it be done properly.  What is it to me, who never go there?  I do believe Hickman was not merely an easy fellow, but a fool; as to glove-money—­ Healing-money—­duty-fowls—­and duty-work—­I tell you again, provided you increase my remittances, and work the cash out of these fellows, you may insist upon as many of them as you can get.

“Yours,

“CUMBER.

“P.S.—­What, my little saint, did you mean by that charitable blunder, concerning the widow, in your last letter?  I never knew before that a woman was a widow merely because her husband was transported, as he ought to be, for sheep stealing, or because he happened to live, by compulsion, in another country.  However, no matter; give her, for me, whatever you think proper, and add it to your bill of costs, as you will do.

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“Cumber.”

Solomon M’Slime, Esq., to Lord Cumber:—­

“My Gracious Lord: 

“As I have never intentionally varied from truth, I could not bear even for a moment to seem to fall into the opposite principle.  I was certainly very busy on the day I had the honor and privilege of writing to your lordship, and much distressed both in mind and heart, by the woeful backsliding of a member of our congregation.  On looking over the copy of the letter, however, I perceive one thing that is gratifying to me.  My Lord, I made no mistake.  It is not, perhaps, known to your Lordship that there are two descriptions of widows—­the real and the vegetable; that is, the widow by death, and the widow by local separation from her husband.  Indeed the latter is a class that requires as much sustainment and comfort as the other—­being as they are, more numerous, and suffering all the privations of widowhood, poor things, except its reality.  The expression, my Lord, is figurative, and taken from the agricultural occupation of ploughing; for whenever one animal is unyoked for any other purpose, such as travelling a journey or the like, the other is forthwith turned into some park or grassy paddock, and indeed generally enjoys more comfortable times than if still with the yoke-fellow; for which reason the return of the latter is seldom very earnestly desired by the other.  I am happy to tell you, my Lord, that some very refreshing revivals in the religious world have recently occurred here, such as I trust will cause true religion to spread and be honored in the land; but on the other hand, I fear that Satan is at work among many evil designing persons on your Lordship’s inheritance in this our neighborhood.  Of this, however, that good and conscientious man Mr. M’Clutchy, will, I doubt not, give you all proper information and advice.

“I have the honor to be, my Lord with profound humility,
“Your Lordship’s unworthy servant,
“Solomon M’Slime.”

Valentine M’Clutchy, Esq., J. P., to Lord Cumber:—­

“My Lord: 

“In point of fact, nothing could be more beneficial to your property, than my very seasonable appointment to the commission of the peace.  It has extended my powers of working for your advantage, and armed me with authority that will be found very necessary in repressing outrages and disturbances when they occur; and I regret to say, that they are likely to occur much too frequently.  I should be sorry to doubt Mr. Hickman’s candor, but in spite of all my charity, I can scarcely avoid thinking that he did not treat your Lordship with that openness of purpose and confidence to which every landlord is entitled.  Of course, I say this with great pain, and rather between ourselves, as it were; for heaven forbid, that a single syllable should escape either my tongue or pen, that might injure that gentleman’s character.  The path of duty, however, is often a stern one, as I find it to be on the present occasion. 

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The truth, then, is, that I fear Mr. Hickman must have kept the disturbed state of your tenantry from your Lordship’s knowledge, owing probably to a reluctance in exposing his own laxity of management.  Indeed, I wish I could with a conscientious sense of my duty to your Lordship end here, so far as he is concerned.  But under every circumstance, truth, and honesty, and candor, will in the long run tell for themselves.  It is an unquestionable fact, then, that from whatever cause it may proceed, your tenantry and he, ever since my appointment, have had much intercourse of—­not exactly a public—–­nor can I decidedly term it—­a private nature; and it is equally true, that in proportion as this intercourse became extended and enlarged, so did the dissatisfaction of the people increase, until they are now almost ripe for outrage.  I have observed, I think, that poor Hickman never was remarkable for strength of mind, though not destitute of a certain kind of sagacity; and whether his tampering—­if it be tampering—­with these people,—­be the result of a foolish principle of envy, or whether on the other hand, there is anything political in it, I really cannot say.  All I can do is to state the facts, and leave the inference to your lordship’s superior penetration.

“If, however, it be the fact, that Hickman could stop to foment this unhappy feeling on your property, still, my Lord, he is not alone in it.  Indeed it is possible that the intercourse between him and them may after all be innocent, however suspicions it looks, I trust and hope it is so—­for there are two other families in the neighborhood, who, to my certain knowledge, have, by diffusing wicked and disloyal principles among the tenantry, done incalculable injury.  I had indeed some notion of communicating with government on the subject, but I have not as yet been able to get any information sufficiently tangible to work on.  In the meantime, I think the wisest and most prudent steps I could take for your Lordship’s advantage, would be to get them as quietly as possible off the estate.  I think, from a twofold sense of duty, I shall be forced to do so.  Their leases very fortunately have dropped in the first place, and it will not be your interest to renew them on political grounds; for they have lately expressed a determination to vote against your brother—­and in the next, we can get much larger fines from other sources.  Besides his large farm, one of these men, M’Loughlin, holds a smaller one of eighteen acres, of which there are fifteen years yet unexpired, yet on consulting with Mr. M’Slime, and examining the lease, he is of opinion that it contains a flaw, and can be broken.  I am sure, my lord, for your sake I shall be glad of it.

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“I cannot conclude without feeling grateful to Heaven for having given me such a son as I am blessed with.  He is, indeed, quite invaluable to me in managing these refractory people, and were it not for his aid and vigor, I could not have been able to send your lordship the last remittance.  He is truly zealous in your cause, but I regret to say, that I am not likely to be able to avail myself long of his services.  He is about taking a large farm in a different part of the country with a view to marriage, a circumstance which just now occasions me much anxiety of mind, as he will be a serious loss to both your lordship and me.  I am also looking out for an under agent, but cannot find one to my satisfaction.  Will your lordship be kind enough to acknowledge the remittance of last week?

“I have the honor to be, my lord,
“Val M’C.”

Lord Cumber to Val M’C, Esq.:—­

“Dear Sir: 

“The check came safely to hand, and seasonably, and the oftener I receive such communications the better.  The best part of it, however, is gone to the devil already, for I lost six hundred on Alley Croker at the last Ascot meeting; I write in a hurry, but have time to desire you to keep your son, if possible, on the property.  By the way, as the under agency is vacant, I request you will let him have it—­and, if he wants a farm to marry on, try and find him one somewhere on the estate:  who has a better right? and, I dare say, he will make as good a tenant as another.  As to Hickman, I think you are quite mistaken, the truth being that he resigned, but was not dismissed the agency, and if he has not a wish to get himself replaced—­which I do not think—­I don’t know what the deuce he should begin to plot about.  I rather think the cause of complaint amongst the people is, that they find some difference between his laxity and your rigor; if so, you must only let them growl away, and when, ever they resort to violence, of course punish them.

“Very truly yours,
“Cumber.”

“P.S.—­By all means get those mischievous fellows—­I forget their names—­off the property, as I shall have no tenant under me who will create disturbance or sow dissension among the people.  I thank you for the fine hamper of fowl, and have only to say, as above, that the oftener, &c, &c.

“Cumber.”

CHAPTER VII.—­Reflections on Absenteeism

—­Virtues of a Loyal Magistrate—­A Small Dose of Flattery—­A Brace of
Blessings—­Darby has Notions of becoming a Convert—­Hints to a Trusty
Bailiff, with a Bit of Mystery—­Drum Dhu, and the Comforts of Christmas
Eve—­An Extermination.

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One of the greatest curses attending absenteeism is the facility with which a dishonest and oppressive agent can maintain a system of misrepresentation and falsehood, either to screen his own delinquency or to destroy the reputation of those whom he hates or fears.  An absentee landlord has no guarantee beyond the honor and integrity of the man to whom he entrusts the management of his property, and consequently he ought to know that his very residence abroad presents strong temptations to persons, who, in too many instances, are not possessed of any principle strong enough to compete with their rapacity or cruelty.  Valentine M’Clutchy was one of those fellows in whom the heart was naturally so hard and selfish that he loved both wealth and the infliction of oppression, simply on account of the pleasure which they afforded him.  To such a man, and they formed too numerous a class, the estate of an absentee landlord presented an appropriate, and generally a safe field for action.  The great principle of his life was, in every transaction that occurred, to make the interest of the landlord on one hand, and of the tenant on the other, subservient to his own.  This was their rule, and the cunning and adroitness necessary to carry it into practical effect, were sometimes scarcely deemed worth concealment, so strong was their sense of impunity, and their disregard of what seldom took place—­retribution.  Indeed, the absence of the landlord gave them necessarily, as matters were managed, an unlimited power over the people, and gratified that malignant vigilance which ever attends upon suspicion and conscious guilt.  Many of the tenants, for instance, when driven to the uttermost depths of distress and misery, have been desperate enough to appeal to the head landlords, and almost in every case the agent himself was enabled to show them their own letters, which the absentee had in the meantime transmitted to the identical party whose tyranny had occasioned them.

The appointment of Phil to the under agency was felt even more strongly than the removal of Mr. Hickman or Val’s succession to that gentleman; for there was about honest Val something which the people could not absolutely despise.  His talents for business, however, prostituted as they were to such infamous purposes, only rendered him a greater scourge to the unhappy tenantry over whom he was placed.  As for Phil, he experienced at their hands that combined feeling of hatred and contempt with which we look upon a man who has every disposition to villany but not the ability to accomplish its purposes in a masterly manner.

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Val’s promotion to the Bench did not occasion so much surprise as might be supposed.  It is well known, that every such scoundrel, however he may disregard the opinions of the people whom he despises, leaves nothing undone that either meanness or ingenuity can accomplish to sustain a plausible character with the gentry of the neighborhood.  In the times of which we write, the great passport to popularity among one party was the expression of strong political opinions.  For this reason, Val, who was too cunning to neglect any subordinate aid to his success in life, had created for himself a certain description of character, which in a great degree occasioned much of his dishonesty and oppression to be overlooked or forgiven.  Like his father, old Deaker, he was a furious Orangeman, of the true, loyal, and Ascendancy class—­drank the glorious, pious, and immortal memory every day after dinner—­was, in fact, master of an Orange Lodge, and altogether a man of that thorough, staunch, Protestant principle, which was then, as it has been since, prostituted to the worst purposes.  For this reason, he was looked upon, by those of his own class not so much as a heartless and unscrupulous knave, as a good sound Protestant, whose religion and loyalty were of the right kidney.  In accordance with these principles, he lost no time in assuming the character of an active useful man, who considered it the most important part of his duty to extend his political opinions by every means in his power, and to discountenance, in all shapes and under all circumstances, such as were opposed to them.  For this purpose, there was only one object left untried and unaccomplished; but time and his undoubted loyalty soon enabled him to achieve it.  Not long after his appointment to the agency, he began to experience some of these uneasy sensations which a consciousness of not having deserved well at the hands of the people will occasion.  The man, as we have said, was a coward at heart; but like many others of the same class, he contrived on most occasions to conceal it.  He now considered that it would, at all events, be a safe and prudent act on his part to raise a corps of yeomanry, securing a commission in it for himself and Phil.  In this case he deemed it necessary to be able to lay, before government such satisfactory proofs as would ensure the accomplishment of his object, and at the same time establish his own loyalty and devotion to the higher powers.  No man possessed the art of combining several motives, under the simple guise of one act, with greater skill than M’Clutchy.  For instance, he had an opportunity of removing from the estate as many as possible of those whom he could not reckon on for political support.  Thus would he, in the least suspicious manner, and in the very act of loyalty, occasion that quantity of disturbance just necessary to corroborate his representations to government—­free property from disaffected persons, whose consciences were proof against both his threats and promises—­and prove to the world that Valentine M’Clutchy was the man to suppress disturbance, punish offenders, maintain peace, and, in short, exhibit precisely that loyal and truly Protestant spirit which the times required, and which, in the end, generally contrived to bring its own reward along with it.

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One evening, about this period, our worthy agent was sitting in his back parlor, enjoying with Phil the comforts of a warm tumbler of punch, when the old knock already described was heard at the hall door.

“How the devil does that rascal contrive to give such a knock?” said Phil—­“upon my honor and reputation, father, I could know it out of a thousand.”

“It’s very difficult to say,” replied the other; “but I agree with you in its character—­and yet, I am convinced that Master Darby by no means entertains the terror of me which he affects.  However, be this as it may, he is invaluable for his attachment to our interests, and the trust which we can repose in him.  I intend to make him a sergeant in our new corps—­and talking of that, Phil, you are not aware that I received this morning a letter from Lord Cumber, in which he thanks me for the hint, and says he will do everything in his power to forward the business.  I have proposed that he shall be colonel, and that the corps be named the Castle Cumber Yeomanry.  I shall myself be captain and paymaster, and you shall have a slice of something off it, Phil, my boy.”

“I have no objection in life,” replied Phil, “and let the slice be a good one; only I am rather quakerly as to actual fighting, which may God of his infinite mercy prevent!”

“There will be no fighting, my hero,” replied the father, laughing; “if there were, Phil, I would myself rise above all claims for military glory; but here there will be nothing but a healthy chase across the country after an occasional rebel or whiteboy, or perhaps the seizing of a still, and the capture of many a keg of neat poteen, Phil—­eh?  What do you say to that my boy?”

“I have no objection to that,” said Phil, “provided everything is done in an open, manly manner—­in broad day-light.  These scoundrel whiteboys have such devilish good practice at hedge-firing, that I have already made up my mind to decline all warfare that won’t be sanctioned by the sun.  I believe in my soul they see better without light than with it, so that the darkness which would be a protection to them, could be none to me.”

At this moment, a tap—­such as a thief would give when ascertaining if the master of the house were asleep, in order that he might rob him—­came to the door, and upon being desired to “come in and be d——­d”

Darby entered.

“You’re an hour late, you scoundrel,” said Val; “what have you to say for yourself?”

“Yes,” added Phil, who was a perfect Achilles to every bailiff and driver on the estate—­“what have you to say for yourself?  If I served you right, upon my honor and reputation, I would kick you out.  I would, you scoundrel, and I ought.”

“I know you ought, squire, for I desarve it; but, any how, sure it was the floods that sent me round.  The stick was covered above three feet, and I had to go round by the bridge.  Throth his honor there ought to make the Grand Jury put a bridge acrass it, and I wish to goodness, Square Phil, you would spake to him to get them to do it next summer.”

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When Solomon said, that all was vanity and vexation of spirit, we hope he did not mean that the two terms were at all synonymous; because, if he did, we unquestionably stand prepared to contest his knowledge of human nature, despite both his wisdom and experience.  Darby’s reply was not a long one, but its effect was powerful.  The very notion that Val M’Clutchy could, should, might, or ought to have such influence over the Grand Jury of the county was irresistible with the father; and that he should live to be actually called squire, nay to hear the word with his own ears, was equally so with the son.

Vanity!  What sensation can the hearts of thousands—­millions feel, that ought for a moment be compared, in an ecstatic sense of enjoyment, with those which arise from gratified vanity?

“Come, you sneaking scoundrel, take a glass of spirits—­the night’s severe,” said Val.

“Yes, you sneaking scoundrel, take a glass of spirits, and we’ll see what can be done about the bridge before next winter,” added Phil.

“All I can say is, gintlemen,” said Darby, “that if you both take it up, it will be done.  In the mane time, here’s both your healths, your honors; an’ may you both be spared on the property, as a pair of blessins to the estate!” Then, running over to Phil, he whispered in a playhouse voice—­“Square Phil, I daren’t let his honor hear me now, but—­here’s black confusion to Hickman, the desaver!”

“What is he saying, Phil?  What is the cursed sneaking scoundrel saying?”

“Why your honor,” interposed Darby, “I was axin’ permission jist to add a thrifle to what I’m goin’ to drink.”

“What do you mean?” said Val.

“Just, your honor, to drink the glorious, pious, and immoral mimory! hip, hip, hurra!”

“And how can you drink it, you rascal, and you a papist?” asked Phil, still highly delighted with Darby’s loyalty.  “What would your priest say if he knew it?”

“Why,” said Darby, quite unconscious of the testimony he was bearing to his own duplicity, “sure they can forgive me that, along with my other sins.  But, any how, I have a great notion to leave them and their ralligion altogether.”

“How is that, you scoundrel?” asked Val.

“Yes, you scoundrel; how is that?” added Phil.

“Why, troth,” replied Darby, “I can’t well account for it myself, barrin’ it comes from an enlightened conscience.  Mr. M’Slime gave me a tract, some time ago, called Spiritual Food for Babes of Grace, and I thought in my own conscience, afther readin’ it carefully over, that it applied very much to my condition.”

“Ah!” said Phil, “what a babe you are! but no matter; I’m glad you have notions of becoming a good sound Protestant; take my word there’s nothing like it.  A man that’s a good sound Protestant is always a loyal fellow, and when he’s drunk, drinks—­to hell with the Pope.”

“Phil, don’t be a fool,” said his father, who inherited many, if not all of old Deaker’s opinions.  “If you are about to become a Protestant, Darby, that’s a very different thing from changing your religion—­inasmuch as you must have one to change first.  However, as you say, M’Slime’s your man, and be guided by him.”

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“So I intend, sir; and he has been spakin’ to me about comin’ forrid publicly, in regard of an intention he has of writin’ a new tract consarning me, to be called the Converted Bailiff, or a Companion to the Religious Attorney; and he says, sir, that he’ll get us bound up together.”

“Does he?” said Val, dryly; “strung up, I suppose he means.”

“Troth your honor’s right,” replied Darby; “but my own mimory isn’t what it used to be—­it was strung up he said, sure enough, sir.”

“Very well,” said Val, “but now to business.  Phil, my boy, you move off for a little—­Darby and I have a small matter to talk over, that nobody must hear but ourselves.”

“All right,” replied Phil; “so take care of yourselves;” and accordingly left the room.

Now the truth was, that M’Clutchy, who perfectly understood the half-witted character of his son—­for be it known that worthy Phil was considered by those who had the honor of his acquaintance, as anything but an oracle—­did not feel himself justified in admitting the said Phil to full confidence in all his plans and speculations.

“You see now,” said he, addressing Darby sternly—­“you see the opinion which I entertain of your honesty, when I trust you more than I do my son.”

“Troth I do your honor—­and by the same token did I ever betray you?”

“Betray, you scoundrel! what had you to betray?” said Val indignantly, whatever I do is for the benefit of the country in general, and for Lord Cumber’s property in particular:  you know that.”

“Know it! doesn’t the whole world know it, sir?”

“Well, then”—­said Val, softening—–­“now to business.  In the first place observe my words—­listen.”

Darby said nothing, but looked at him in the attitude of deep and breathless attention.

“Whenever you happen to execute a warrant of distress—­that is, when removing furniture or any other property off the premises, keep a sharp look out for any papers or parchments that happen to come in your way.  It would do no harm if you should slip them quietly into your pocket and bring them to me.  I say quietly, because there is a spirit abroad among the people that we must watch; but if they once suspected that we were on the look out for it, they might baffle us; these papers, you know can be returned.”

“I see, your honor,” said Darby—­“there you are right, as, indeed, you always are.”

“Very well, then.  Is the night dark and stormy?”

“So dark, sir, that a blind man could see it.”

Val then approached the bailiff, looked cautiously about the room—­opened the door, and peeped into the hall; after which he returned, and placing about half-a-dozen written papers in his hand, whispered something to him with great earnestness and deliberation.  Darby heard him with profound attention, nodded his head significantly as he spoke, and placed the point of his right hand fore-finger on the papers, as if he said, “I see—­I understand—­I am to do so and so with these; it’s all clear—­all right, and it shall be done before I sleep.”

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The conversation then fell into its original channel, and Phil was summoned, in order to receive his instructions touching a ceremony which was to take place on the following day but one; which ceremony simply consisted in turning out upon the wide world, without house, or home, or shelter, about twenty three families, containing among them the young, the aged, the sick, and the dying—­but this is a scene to which we must beg the reader’s more particular attention.

There stood, facing the west, about two miles from Constitution Cottage, an irregular string of cabins, with here and there something that might approach the comfortable air of a middle size house.  The soil on which they stood was an elevated moor, studded with rocks and small cultivated patches, which the hard hand of labor had, with toil and difficulty, worn from what might otherwise be called a cold, bleak, desert.  The rocks in several instances were overgrown with underwood and shrubs of different descriptions, which were browsed upon by meagre and hungry-looking goats, the only description of cattle that the poverty of these poor people allowed them to keep, with the exception of two or three families, who were able to indulge in the luxury of a cow.  In winter it had an air of shivering desolation that was enough to chill the very blood, even to think of; but in summer, the greenness of the shrubs, some of which were aromatic and fragrant, relieved the dark, depressing spirit which seemed to brood upon it.  This little colony, notwithstanding the wretchedness of its appearance, was not, however, shut out from a share of human happiness.  The manners of its inhabitants were primeval and simple, and if their enjoyments were few and limited, so also were their desires.  God gave them the summer breeze to purify their blood, the sun of heaven to irradiate the bleakness of their mountains, the morning and evening dressed in all their beauty, and music of their mountain streams, and that of the feathered songsters, to enliven their souls with its melody.  The voices of spring, of summer, of autumn, were cheerful in their ears as the voices of friends, and even winter, with all his wildness and desolation, was not without a grim complacence which they loved.  They were a poor, harmless, little community, so very humble and inoffensive, as to be absolutely beneath the reach of human resentment or injustice.  Alas! they were not so.

The cause of the oppression which was now about to place them in its iron grasp, was as simple as it was iniquitous.  They refused to vote for Lord Cumber’s brother, and were independent enough to respect the rights of conscience, in defiance of M’Clutchy’s denunciations.  They had voted for the gentleman who gave them employment, and who happened besides, to entertain opinions which they approved.  M’Clutchy’s object was to remove them from the property, in order that he might replace them with a more obedient and less conscientious class; for this was his principle of action under such circumstances.

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It so happened that there lived among them a man named O’Regan, who, in point of comfort, was at the head of this little community.  He was a quiet and an affectionate individual, industrious, sober, and every way well conducted.  This inoffensive and virtuous man, and Iris faithful wife, had been for some time before the period we are describing, under the shadow of deep affliction.  Their second child, and his little brother, together with the eldest, who for two or three years before had been at service in England, were all that had been spared to them—­the rest having died young.  This second boy was named Torley, and him they loved with an excess of tenderness and affection that could scarcely be blamed.  The boy was handsome and manly, full of feeling, and possessed of great resolution and courage; all this, however, was ultimately of no avail in adding to the span of the poor youth’s life.  One day in the beginning of autumn, he overloaded himself with a log of fir which he had found in the moors; having laid it down to rest, he broke a blood-vessel in attempting to raise it to his shoulder the second time:  he staggered home, related the accident as it had occurred, and laid himself down gently upon his bed.  Decline then set in, and the handsome and high-spirited Torley O’Regan, lay patiently awaiting his dissolution, his languid eye dim with the shadow of its approach.  From the moment it was ascertained that his death, early and unexpectedly, was known to be certain, the grief of his parents transcended the bounds of ordinary sorrow.  It was indeed, a distressing thing to witness their sufferings, and to feel, in the inmost chambers of the heart, the awful wail of their desolation and despair.

Winter had now arrived in all its severity, and the very day selected for the removal of these poor people was that which fills, or was designed to fill, every Christian heart with hope, charity, affection for our kind, and the innocent enjoyment of that festive spirit which gives to the season a charm that throws the memory back upon the sweetest recollections of life—­I mean Christmas eve.  The morning, however, was ushered in by storm.  There had been above a fortnight’s snow, accompanied by hard frost, and to this was added now the force of a piercing wind, and a tremendous down pouring of hard dry drift, against which it is at any time almost impossible even to walk, unless when supported by health, youth, and uncommon strength.

In O’Regan’s house there was, indeed, the terrible union of a most bitter and twofold misery.  The boy was literally dying, and to this was added the consciousness that M’Clutchy would work his way in spite of storm, tempest, and sickness, nay, even death itself.  A few of the inhabitants of the wild mountain village, which, by the way, was named Drum Dhu, from its black and desolate look, had too much the fear of M’Clutchy before their eyes, to await his measures, and accordingly sought out

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some other shelter.  It was said, however, and generally supposed, by several of the neighboring gentry, that even M’Clutchy himself would scarcely dare to take such a step, in defiance of common humanity, public opinion, and the laws both of God and—­we were about to add—­man, but the word cannot be written.  Every step he took was strictly and perfectly legal, and the consequence was, that he had that strong argument, “I am supporthed by the, laws of the land,” to enable him to trample upon all the principles of humanity and justice—­to gratify political rancor, personal hatred, to oppress, persecute, and ruin.

Removal, however, in Torley O’Regan’s case, would have been instant death.  Motion or effort of any kind were strictly forbidden, as was conversation, except in the calmest and lowest tones, and everything at at all approaching to excitement.  Still the terror lest this inhuman agent might carry his resolution into effect on such a day, and under such circumstances, gave to their pitiable sense of his loss a dark and deadly hue of misery, at which the heart actually sickens.  From the hour of nine o’clock on that ominous morning, the inhabitants of Drum Dhu were passing, despite the storm, from cabin to cabin, discussing the probable events of the day, and asking each other if it could be possible that M’Clutchy would turn them out under such a tempest.  Nor was this all.  The scene indeed was one which ought never to be witnessed in any country.  Misery in all its shapes was there—­suffering in its severest pangs—­sickness—­disease—­famine—­and death—­to all which was to be added bleak, houseless, homeless, roofless desolation.  Had the season been summer they might have slept in the fields, made themselves temporary sheds, or carried their sick, and aged, and helpless, to distant places where humanity might aid and relieve them.  But no—­here were the elements of God, as it were, called in by the malignity and wickedness of man to war against old age, infancy, and disease.

For a day or two proceeding this, poor Torley thought he felt a little better, that is to say, his usual symptoms of suffering were litigated, as is sometimes the case when human weakness literally sinks below the reach of pain itself.  Ten o’clock had arrived and he had not yet awoke, having only fallen asleep a little before daybreak.  His father went to his bed-side, and looking down saw that he was still asleep, with a peaceful smile irradiating his features, as it were with a sense of inward happiness and tranquility.  He beckoned to his mother who approached the bed, and contemplated him with that tearless agony which sears the heart and brain, until the feeling would be gladly exchanged for madness.  The conversation which followed was in Irish, a circumstance that accounts for its figurative style and tenderness of expression.

“What is that smile,” said the father.  “It is the peace of God,” said the mother, “shining from an innocent and happy heart.  Oh!  Torley, my son, my son!”

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“Yes,” replied the father, “he is going to meet happy hearts, but he will leave none in this house behind him—­even little Brian that he loved so well—­but where was there a heart so loving as his?” This we need scarcely observe, was all said in whispers.

“Ah!” said the father, “you may well ask—­but don’t you remember this day week, when we were talking of M’Clutchy—­’I hope,’ says he, ’that if he should come, I’ll be where no agent can turn me out—­that is, in heaven—­for I wouldn’t wish to live to see you both and little Brian put from the place that we all loved so well—­and then he wiped away the tears from his pale cheeks.—­Oh!  Torley, my son—­my son—­are you laving us! laving us forever?”

The father sat down quietly on a chair, and put his hand upon his forehead, as if to keep the upper part of his head from flying off—­for such, he said, were the sensations he felt.  He then wrung his hands until the joints cracked, and gave one short convulsive sob, which no effort of his could repress.  The boy soon afterwards opened his eyes, and fixed them with the same peaceful and affectionate smile upon his parents.

“Torley,” said the mother, kissing him, “how do you feel, our flower?”

“Aisier,” said he, “but I think weaker—­I had a dream,” he continued; “I thought I was looking in through a great gate at the most beautiful place that ever was—­and I said to myself, what country can that be, that’s so full of light, and music, and green trees, and beautiful rivers?  ‘That is heaven,’ said a sweet voice beside me, but I could see no one.  I looked again, and then I thought I saw my three little brothers standin’ inside the gate smilin’—­and I said, ’ar’n’t you my brothers that died when you were young?’ ‘Yes,’ said they,’and we are come to welcome you here.’  I was then goin’ to go in, when I thought I saw my father and Brian runnun’ hand in hand towards the gate, and as’ I was goin’ in I thought they called after me—­’wait, Torley, dear, for we will follow you soon.’”

“And I hope we all will, our blessed treasure; for when you leave us, son of our hearts, what temptation will we have to stay afther you?  Your voice, achora, will be in our ears, and your sweet looks in our eyes—­ but that is all that will be left of you—­and your father and I will never have a day’s happiness more.  Oh, never—­never!”

“You both know I wouldn’t lave you if I could help it, but it’s the will of God that I should go; then when I’ll be so happy, won’t it take the edge off your grief.  Bring Brian here.  He and I were all that was left you, since Ned went to England—­and now you will have only him.  I needn’t bid you to love him, for I know that you loved both of us, may be more than you ought, or more than I desarved; but not surely more than Brian does.  Brian, my darling, come and kiss your own Torley that keept you sleeping every night in his bosom, and never was properly happy without you—­kiss me when I can feel you, for I know that before long, you will kiss me when I can’t kiss you—­Brian, my darling life, how loth I am to lave you, and to lave you all, father—­to lave you all, mother.”

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As he spoke, and paused from time to time, the tumult of the storm without, and the fury with which it swept against the roof, door, and windows of the house, made a terrible diapason to the sweet and affecting tone of feeling which pervaded the remarks of the dying boy.  His father, however, who felt an irrepressible dread of what was expected to take place, started at the close of the last words, and with a heart divided between the two terrors, stood in that stupefaction which is only the resting-place of misery, where it takes breath and strengthens itself for its greatest trials.  Ho stood with one hand as before, pressed upon his forehead, and pointed with the other to the door.  The wife, too, paused, for she could not doubt for a moment, that she heard sounds mingling with those of the storm which belonged not to it.  It was Christmas eve!

“Stop, Mary,” said he, the very current of his heart stilled—­its beating pulses frozen, as it were, by the terrible apprehension—­“stop, Mary; you can open the door, but in such a morning as this you couldn’t shut it, and the wind and drift would come in and fill the house, and be the death of our boy.  No, I must open the door myself, and it will require all my strength to shut it.”

“I hear it all, now,” said Torley, “the cries and the shouting, the screechings and the—­well, you need not be afeared; put poor Brian in with me, for I know there is no Irishman but will respect a death-bed, be it landlord, or agent, ay, or bailey.  Oh, no, father, the hand of God is upon us, and if they respect nothing else, they will surely respect that.  They won’t move me, mother, when they see me; for that would kill me—­that would be to murder a dying man.”

The father made no reply, but rushed towards the door, which he opened and closed after him with more ease than he had expected.  The storm, in fact, was subsiding; the small hard drift had ceased, and it was evident from the appearance of the sky that there was likely to be a change for the better.

It would, indeed, appear, as if the Divine Being actually restrained and checked the elements, on witnessing the cruel, heartless, and oppressive purposes of man.  But, what a scene presented itself to O’Regan, on going forth to witness the proceedings which were then about to take place on this woeful day!

Entering the northern end of this wild collection of sheelings was seen a posse of bailiffs, drivers, constables, keepers, and all that hard-hearted class of ruffians that constitute the staff of a land agent upon occasions similar to this.  Immediately behind these followed a body of Orange yeomanry, dressed in regimentals, and with fire-arms—­each man carrying thirty rounds of ball cartridge.  We say Orange yeomen advisedly, because, at the period we speak of, Roman Catholics were not admitted into the yeomanry, unless, perhaps, one in a corps; and even out of ten corps, perhaps, you might not find the ten exceptions.  When we add to this the fact,

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that every Protestant young man was then an Orangeman, and that a strong, relentless feeling of religious and political hatred subsisted between them and the Catholic party, we think that there are few, even among our strongest Conservatives, if any, who would attempt to defend the inhuman policy of allowing one party of Irishmen, stimulated by the worst passions, to be let loose thus armed upon defenceless men, whom, besides, they looked upon and treated as enemies.

The men in question, who were known by the sobriquet of Deaker’s Dashers, were, in point of fact, the terror of every one in the country who was not an Orangeman, no matter what his creed or conduct might be.  They were to a man guided by the true Tory principle, not only of supporting Protestantism, but of putting down Popery; and yet, with singular inconsistency, they were seldom or never seen within a church door, all their religion consisting in giving violent and offensive toasts, and their loyalty in playing party tunes, singing Orange songs, meeting in Orange lodges, and executing the will of some such oppressor as M’Clutchy, who was by no means an exaggerated specimen of the Orange Tory.

Deaker’s Dashers were commanded on this occasion by a little squat figure, all belly, with a short pair of legs at one end, and a little red, fiery face, that looked as if it would explode—­at the other.  The figure was mounted on horseback, and as it and its party gallantly entered this city of cabins, it clapped its hands on its side, to impress the enemy, no doubt, with a due sense of its military character and prowess.  Behind the whole procession, at a little distance, rode M’Clutchy and M’Slime, graceful Phil having declined the honor of the expedition altogether, principally, he said, in consequence of the shortness of the days, and the consequent very sudden approach of night.  We cannot omit to state, that Darby O’Drive was full of consequence and importance, and led on his followers, with a roll of paper containing the list of fill those who were to be expelled, rolled up in his hand, somewhat like a baton of office.  Opposed to this display stood a crowd of poor shivering wretches, with all the marks of poverty and struggle, and, in many cases, of famine and extreme destitution, about them and upon them.  Women with their half starved children in their arms, many of them without shoes or stockings—­laboring care-worn men, their heads bound up in cotton handkerchiefs, as intimating illness or recovery from illness—­old men bent over their staves, some with long white hair, streaming to the breeze, and all with haggard looks of terror, produced by the well known presence among them of Deaker’s Dashers.

And this was Christmas eve—­a time of joy and festivity!

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Other features were also presented, which gave to this miserable scene a still more depressing character.  The voice of lamentation was loud, especially from the females, both young and old—­all of whom, with some exceptions, were in tears.  Many were rending their hair, others clapping their hands in distraction—­some were kneeling to Heaven to implore its protection, and not a few to call down its vengeance upon their oppressors.  From many of the men, especially the young and healthy, came stifled curses, and smothered determinations of deep and fearful vengeance.  Brows darkened, eyes gleamed, and teeth were ground with a spirit that could neither be mistaken or scarcely condemned.  M’Clutchy was then sowing the wind; but whether at a future day to reap the whirlwind, we are not now prepared to state.

At length it was deemed time that the ceremony should commence; and M’Clutchy, armed also with a case of pistols, rode up to Darby:—­

“O’Drive, you scoundrel,” he shouted—­for he saw his enemy, and got courageous, especially since he had a body of his father’s Dashers at his back—­“O’Drive, you scoundrel, do you mean to keep us here all day?  Why don’t you commence?  Whose is the first name on your list?  The ejectment must proceed,” addressing the poor people as much as Darby—­“it must proceed.  Everything we do is by Lord Cumber’s orders, and strictly according to the law of the land.  Every attempt at refusing to give up peaceable possession, makes you liable to be punished; and punished, by d—­n you shall be.”

“Do not swear, my dear friend,” interposed M’Slime; “swear not at all; but let thy yea be yea, and thy nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil.  My good friends,” he added, addressing himself to the people, “I could not feel justified in losing this opportunity to throw in a word in season for your sakes.  I need scarcely tell you that Mr. M’Clutchy, whose character for benevolence and humanity is perfectly well known—­and I would allude to his strong sense of religion, and its practical influence on his conduct, were I not afraid of giving rise to a feeling of spiritual pride in the heart of any fellow-creature, however humble;—­I need not tell you, I say, that he and I are here as your true friends.  I, a frail and unworthy sinner, avow myself as your friend; at least, it is the most anxious and sincere wish of my heart to do good to you; for, I trust I can honestly say, that I love my Catholic—­I mean my Roman Catholic friends, and desire to meet them in the bonds of Christ.  Yes, we are your friends.  You know it is true that God loveth whom he chasteneth, and that it is always good to pass through the furnace of tribulation.  What are we, then, but the instruments of his chastisement of you, and of bringing you through that furnace for your own good and for His honor!  Be truly grateful, then, for this instance of His interposition in your favor.  It is only a blessing in disguise; my friends—­strongly disguised, I grant you—­but still a blessing.  And now, my friends, to prove my own sincerity—­my affection, and, I trust, Christian interest in your welfare, I say unto you, that if such among you as lack bread will come to me, when this dispensation in your favor is concluded, I shall give them that which will truly nourish them.”

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M’Clutohy could not stand this, but went down to the little squab Dasher, who joined him in a loud fit of laughter at M’Slime’s little word in season; so that the poor dismayed people had the bitter reflection to add to their other convictions, that their misery, their cares, and their sorrows, were made a mockery of by those who were actually inflicting them.

“When Darby, on whose face there was a heartless smirk of satisfaction at this opportunity of gratifying M’Clutchy, was about to enter the first cabin, there arose from the trembling creatures a loud murmur of wild and unregulated lamentation, which actually startled the bailiff’s, who looked as if they were about to be assaulted.  An old man then approached M’Clutchy, bent with age and infirmity, and whose white hair hung far down, his shoulders—­

“Sir,” said he, taking off his hat, and standing before him uncovered, severe and still bitter as was the day—­“I stand here in the name of these poor creatures you see about us, to beg you, for the sake of God—­of Christ who redeemed us—­and of the Holy Spirit that gives kindness and charity to the heart—­not on this blake hill undher sich a sky, and on sich a day, to turn us out of the only shelter we have on earth!  There’s people here that will die if they’re brought outside the door.  We did not, at laist the most part of all you see before you, think you had any thought of houldin’ good your threat in such a time of cowld, and storm, and disolation.  Look at us, sir, then, have pity on us!  Make it your own case, if you can, and maybe that will bring our destitution nearer you—­and besides, sir, there’s a great number of us thought betther about votin’ with you, and surely you won’t think of puttin’ them out.”

“It’s too late now,” said M’Clutchy; “if you had promised me your votes in time, it was not my intention to have disturbed you—­at present I am acting altogether by Lord Cumber’s orders, who desires that every one refusing to vote for him shall be made an example of, and removed from the property—­O’Drive, you scoundrel, do your duty.”

At this moment there rushed forth from the again agitated crowd an old woman, whose grizzled locks had escaped from under her dowd cap, and were blown in confusion about her head; she wore a drugget gown that had once been yellow, and a deep blue petticoat of the same stuff; a circumstance, which, joined to the excitement, gave to her appearance a good deal of picturesque effect.

“Low born tyrant,” she shouted, kneeling rapidly down and holding up her clasped hands, but not in supplication—­“low born, tyrant,” she shouted, “stop;—­spawn of blasphemin’ Deaker, stop—­bastard of the notorious Kate Clank, hould your hand?  You see we know you and yours well.  You were a bad son to a bad mother, and the curse of God will pursue you and yours, for that and your other villanies.  Go back and hould your hand, I say—­and don’t dare to bring the vengeance of God upon you, for the plot

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of hell you are about to work out this day.  I know that plot.  Be warned.  Look about you here, and think of what you’re going to do.  Have you no feeling for ould and helpless age—­for the weakness of women, the innocence of children?  Are you not afraid on such a day to come near the bed of sickness, or the bed of death, with such an intention?  Here’s widows and orphans, the sick and the dyin’, ould age half dead, Mid infancy half starved; and is it upon these, that you and blasphemin’ Deaker’s bloody Dashers are goin’ to work your will?  Hould your hand, I say, or if you don’t, although I needn’t curse you myself, for I am too wicked for that—­yet in the name of all these harmless and helpless creatures before you, I call their curses on your head.  In the name of all the care, and pain, and sorrow, and starvation, and affliction, that’s now before your eyes, be you cursed in soul and body—­in all you touch—­in all you love—­cursed here, and cursed hereafter forever, if you proceed in your wicked intentions this woeful day!”

“Who is that mad-woman?” said M’Clutchy.  “Let her be removed.  All I can say is, that she has taken a very unsuccessful method of staying the proceedings.”

“Who am I?” said she; “I will tell you that.  Look at this,” she replied, exposing her bosom; “these are the breasts that suckled you—­between them did you lie, you ungrateful viper!  Yes, you may stare—­it’s many a long year since the name of Kate Clank reached your ears, and now that you have heard it, it is not to bless you.  Well, you remember when you heard it last—­on the day you hunted your dogs at me, and threatened to have me horse-whipped—­ay, to horse-whip me with your own hands, should I ever come near your cursed house.  Now, you know who I am, and now I have kept my word, which was never to die till I gave you a shamed face.  Kate Clank, your mother, is before you!”

M’Clutchy took the matter very coolly certainly—­laughed at her, and, in a voice of thunder, desired the ejectments to proceed.

But how shall we dwell upon this miserable work?  The wailings and screams, the solicitations for mercy, their prayers, their imprecations and promises, were all sternly disregarded; and on went the justice of law, accompanied by the tumult of misery.  The old were dragged out—­the bedriden grand-mother had her couch of straw taken from under her.  From the house of death, the corpse of an aged female was carried out amidst the shrieks and imprecations of both men and women!  The sick child that clung with faintness to the bosom of its distracted mother, was put out under the freezing blast of the north; and on, on, onward, from house to house, went the steps of law, accompanied still by the increasing tumult of misery.  This was upon Christmas eve—­a day of “joy and festivity!”

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At length they reached O’Regan’s,and it is not our intention to describe the occurrence at any length.  It could not be done.  O’Regan clasped his hands, so did his wife; they knelt—­they wept—­they supplicated.  They stated the nature of his malady—­decline—­from having ruptured a blood-vessel.  They ran to M’Clutchy, to M’Slime, to the squat figure on horseback.  They prayed to Darby, and especially entreated a ruffian follower who had been remarkable for, and wanton in, his inhumanity, but with no effect.  Darby shook his head.

“It couldn’t be done,” said he.

“No,” replied the other, whose name was Grimes, “we can’t make any differ between one and another—­so out he goes.”

“Father,” observed the meek boy, “let them.  I will only be the sooner in heaven.”

He was placed sitting up in bed by the bailiff’s, trembling in the cold rush of the blast; but the moment the father saw their polluted and sacrilegious hands upon him—­he rushed forward accompanied by his mother.

“Stay,” he said, in a loud, hoarse voice, “since you will have him out, let our hands, not yours, be upon him.”

The ruffian told him they could not stand there all day, and without any farther respect for their feelings, they rudely wrapped the bed-clothes about him, and, carrying him out, he was placed upon a chair before the door.  His parents were immediately beside him, and took him now into then own care; but it was too late—­he smiled as he looked into their faces, then looked at his little brother, and giving one long drawn sigh, he passed, without pain or suffering, saving a slight shudder, into happiness.  O’Regan, when he saw that his noble and beloved boy was gone, surrendered him into the keeping of his wife and other friends, who prevented his body from falling off the chair.  He then bent his eye sternly upon the group of bailiffs, especially upon the rude ruffian, Grimes, whose conduct was so atrocious.

“Now listen,” said he, kneeling down beside his dead son—­“listen all of you that has wrought this murder of my dying boy!  He is yet warm,” he added, grinding his teeth and looking up to heaven, “and here beside him, I pray, that the gates of mercy may be closed upon my soul through sill eternity, if I die without vengeance for your death, my son!”

His mother, who was now in a state between stupor and distraction, exclaimed—­

“To be sure, darling, and I’ll assist you, and so will Torley.”

The death of this boy, under circumstances of such incredible cruelty, occasioned even M’Clutchy to relax something of his original intentions.  He persisted, however, in accomplishing all the ejectments without exception, but when this was over, he allowed them to re-occupy their miserable cabins, until the weather should get milder, and until such of them as could, might be able to procure some other shelter for themselves and families.

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When all was over, M’Slime, who had brought with him a sheaf of tracts for their spiritual sustenance, saw, from the deeply tragic character of the proceedings, that he might spare himself the trouble of such Christian sympathy as he wished to manifest for their salvation.  He and M’Clutchy, to whom, by the way, he presented the truly spiritual sustenance of some good brandy out of a flask, with which he balanced the tracts in his other pocket, then took their way in the very centre of the Dashers, leaving behind them all those sorrows of life, for which, however, they might well be glad to exchange their consciences and their wealth.

The circumstances which we have just described, were too striking not to excite considerable indignation among all reasonable minds at the time.  An account of that day’s proceedings got into the papers, but was so promptly and fully contradicted by the united testimony of M’Clutchy and M’Slime, that the matter was made to appear very highly complimentary to the benevolence and humanity of both.  “So far from the proceedings in question,” the contradiction went on to say, “being marked by the wanton cruelty and inhumanity imputed to them, they were, on the contrary, as remarkable for the kindness and forbearance evinced by Messrs. M’Clutchy and M’Slime.  The whole thing was a mere legal form, conducted in a most benevolent and Christian spirit.  The people were all restored to their tenements the moment the business of the day was concluded, and we cannot readily forget the admirable advice and exhortation offered to them, and so appropriately offered by Solomon M’Slime, Esq., the truly Christian and benevolent law agent of the property in question.”

By these proceedings, however, M’Clutchy had gained Ms point, which was, under the guise of a zealous course of public duty, to create a basis on which to ground his private representations of the state of the country to government.  He accordingly lost no time in communicating on the subject with Lord Cumber, who at once supported him in the project of raising a body of cavalry for the better security of the public peace; as, indeed, it was his interest to do, inasmuch, as it advanced his own importance in the eye of government quite as much as it did M’Clutchy’s.  A strong case was therefore made out by this plausible intriguer.  In a few days after the affair of Drum Dhu, honest Val contrived to receive secret information of the existence of certain illegal papers which clearly showed that there existed a wide and still spreading conspiracy in the country.  As yet, he said, he could not ground any proceeding of a definite character upon them.

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The information, he proceeded to say, when writing to the Castle, which came to him anonymously, was to the effect that by secretly searching the eaves of certain houses specified in the communication received, he would find documents, clearly corroborating the existence and design of the conspiracy just alluded to.  That he had accordingly done so, and to his utter surprise, found that his anonymous informant was right.  He begged to enclose copies of the papers, together with the names of the families residing in the houses where they were found.  He did not like, indeed, to be called a “Conspiracy hunter,” as no man more deprecated their existence; but he was so devotedly attached to the interests of his revered sovereign, and those of his government, that no matter at what risk, either of person or reputation, he would never shrink from avowing or manifesting that attachment to them.  And he had the honor to be, his very obedient servant.

Valentine M’Clutohy, J.P.

P.S.—­He begged to enclose for his perusal a letter from his warm friend, Lord Cumber, on the necessity, as he properly terms it, of getting up a corps of cavalry, which is indeed a second thought, as they would be much better adapted, upon long pursuits and under pressing circumstances, for scouring the country, which is now so dreadfully disturbed.  And has once more the honor to be, Val M’C.

Representations like these, aided by that most foolish and besotted tendency which so many of the ignorant and uneducated peasantry have of entering into such associations, did not fail in working out M’Clutchy’s designs.  Most of those in whose houses these papers were placed, fled the country, among whom was O’Regan, whose dying son Deaker’s Dashers treated with such indefensible barbarity; and what made everything appear to fall in with his good fortune, it was much about this period that Grimes, the unfeeling man whom O’Regan appeared to have in his eye when he uttered such an awful vow of vengeance, was found murdered not far from his own house, with a slip of paper pinned to his coat, on which were written, in a disguised hand the words—­“Remember O’Regan’s son, and let tyrants tremble.”

Many strong circumstances appeared to bring this murder home to O’Regan.  From the day of his son’s death until the illegal papers were found in the eave of his house, he had never rested one moment.  His whole soul seemed darkly to brood over that distressing event, and to have undergone a change, as it were, from good to evil.  His brow lowered, his cheek got gaunt and haggard, and his eye hollow and wolfish with ferocity.  Neither did he make any great secret of his intention to execute vengeance on those who hurried his dying child out of life whilst in the very throes of dissolution.  He was never known, however, to name any names, nor to mark out any particular individual for revenge.  His denunciations were general, but fearful in their import.  The necessity, too, of deserting his wife and child sealed his ruin, which was not hard to do, as the man was at best but poor, or merely able, as it is termed, to live from hand to mouth.  His flight, therefore, and all the circumstances of the case considered, it is not strange that he was the object of general suspicion, and that the officers of justice were sharply on the lookout for a clue to him.

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In this position matters were, when the Castle Cumber corps of cavalry made their appearance under all the glitter of new arms, housings and uniforms, with Valentine M’Clutchy as their captain and paymaster, and graceful Phil as lieutenant.  Upon what slight circumstances do great events often turn.  Because Phil had an ungainly twist in his legs, or in other words, because he was knock-kneed, and could not appear to advantage as an infantry officer, was the character of the corps changed from foot to cavalry, so that Phil and Handsome Harry had an opportunity of exhibiting their points together.  A year had now elapsed, and the same wintry month of December had again returned, and yet no search had been successful in finding any trace of O’Regan; but if our readers will be so good as to accompany us to another scene, they will have an opportunity of learning at least the character which M’Clutchy’s new corps had won in the country.

CHAPTER VIII.—­Poverty and Sorrow

A Winter Morning—­Father Roche—­A Mountain Journey—­Raymond Na-hattha—­Cabin on the Moors—­M’Clutchy’s Bloodhounds—­The Conflict—­A Treble Death.

It is the chill and ghastly dawn of a severe winter morning; the gray, cheerless opening of day borrows its faint light only for the purpose of enabling you to see that the country about you is partially covered with snow, and that the angry sky is loaded with storm.  The rising sun, like some poverty-stricken invalid, driven, as it were, by necessity, to the occupation of the day, seems scarcely able to rise, and does so with a sickly and reluctant aspect.  Abroad, there is no voice of joy or kindness—­no cheerful murmur with which the heart can sympathize—­all the warm and exhilarating harmonies that breathe from nature in her more genial moods are silent.  A black freezing spirit darkens the very light of day, and throws its dismal shadow upon everything about us, whilst the only sounds that fall upon the ear are the roaring of the bitter winds among the naked trees, or the hoarse voice of the half-frozen river, rising and falling—­now near, and now far away in the distance.

On such a morning as this it was, and at such an hour, that a pale-faced, thin woman, with all the melancholy evidences of destitution and sorrow about her, knocked at the door of her parish priest, the Rev. Francis Roche.  The very knock she gave had in it a character of respectful but eager haste.  Her appearance, too, was miserable, and as she stood in the cold wintry twilight, it would have satisfied any one that deep affliction and wasting poverty were both at her humble heart.  She had on neither shoe nor stocking, and the consequence was, that the sharp and jagged surface of the frozen ground, rendered severer by the impatient speed of her journey, had cut her feet in such a manner that the blood flowed from them in several places.  Cloak or bonnet she had none; but instead

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of the former her humble gown was turned over her shoulders, and in place of the latter she wore a thin kerchief, drawn round her head, and held under her chin with one hand, as the lower classes of Irishwomen do in short and hasty journeys.  Her journey, however, though hasty in this instance, was by do means short; and it was easy to perceive by her distracted manner and stifled sobs, that however poorly protected against the bitter elements, she had a grief within which rendered her insensible to their severity.

It was also apparent, that, though humble in life, she possessed, like thousands of her countrywomen, a mind of sufficient compass and strength to comprehend, when adequately moved, the united working of more than one principle at the same moment.  We have said it was evident that she was under the influence of deep sorrow, but this was not all—­a second glance might disclose the exhibition of a still higher principle.  The woman was at prayer, and it was easy to perceive by the beads which she held in her fervently clasped hands, by the occasional knocking of her breast, and the earnest look of supplication to heaven, that her soul poured forth its aspirations in the deep-felt and anxious spirit of that religion, which affliction is found so often to kindle in the peasant’s heart.  She had only knocked a second time when the door was opened, and having folded up her beads, she put them into her bosom, and entering the priest’s house, immediately found herself in the kitchen.  In a moment a middle-aged woman, with a rush light in her hand, stirred up the greeshough, and raking the live turf out of it, she threw on a dozen well-dried peats out of the chimney corner, and soon had a comfortable and blazing fire, at which the afflicted creature, having first intimated her wish that his reverence should accompany her home, was desired to sit until he should be ready to set out.

“Why, then,” exclaimed the good-natured woman, “but you had abitther thramp of it this cowld and cuttin’ mornin’—­and a cowld and cuttin’ mornin’ it is—­for sure didn’t I feel as if the very nose was whipt off o’ me when I only wint to open the door for you.  Sit near the fire, achora, and warm yourself—­throth myself feels like a sieve, the way the cowld’s goin’ through me;—­sit over, achora, sit over, and get some heat into you.”

“Thank you,” said the woman, “but you know it’s not a safe thing to go near the fire when one is frozen or very cowld—­’twould only make me worse when I go out again, besides givin’ me pain now.”

“Och, troth you’re right, I forgot that—­but you surely didn’t come far, if one’s to judge by your dress; though, God knows, far or near, you have the light coverin’ an you for such a morning as this is, the Lord be praised!”

“I came better than three miles,” replied the woman.

“Than what?”

“Than three miles.”

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“Saver above, is it possible! without cloak or bonnet, shoe or stockin’—­an’ you have your affliction at home, too, poor thing; why the Lord look down an you, an’ pity you I pray his blessed name this day!  Stop, I must warm you a drink of brave new milk, and that’ll help to put the cowld out of your heart—­sit round here, from the breath of that back door—­I’ll have it ready for you in a jiffey; throth will I, an’ you’ll see it’ll warm you and do you good.”

“God help me,” exclaimed the woman, “I’ll take the drink, bekase I wouldn’t refuse your kind heart; but it’s not meat, nor drink, nor cowld, nor storm, that’s throublin’ me—­I could bear all that, and many a time did—­but then I had him! but now who’s to comfort us—­who are we to look to—­who is to be our friend?  Oh, in the wide world—­but God is good!”—­said she, checking herself from a pious apprehension that she was not sufficiently submissive to his will, “God is good—­but still it’s hard to think of losing him.”

“Well, you won’t lose him, I hope,” said the good creature, stirring the new milk with a spoon, and tasting it to ascertain if it was warm enough—­“Of coorse it’s your husband you—­whitch! whitch!—­the divil be off you for a skillet, I’ve a’most scalded myself wid you—­it’s so thin that it has a thing boilin’ before you could say Jack Robinson.  Here now, achora, try it, an’ take care it’s not a trifle too hot—­it’ll comfort you, anyhow.”

It is in a country like Ireland, where there is so much of that close and wasting poverty which constitutes absolute misery, that these beautiful gushes of pure and tender humanity are to be found, which spring in the obscurity of life out of the natural goodness and untutored piety of the Irish heart.  It is these virtues, unseen and unknown, as they generally are, except by the humble individuals on whom they are exerted—­that so often light up by their radiance the darkness and destitution of the cold and lowly cabin, and that gives an unconscious sense of cheerfulness under great privations, which those who do not know the people often attribute to other and more discreditable causes.

While the poor woman in question was drinking the warm milk—­the very best restorative by the way which she could get—­for poverty is mostly forced to find out its own humble comforts—­Father Roche entered the kitchen, buttoned up and prepared for the journey.  On looking at her he seemed startled by the scantiness of her dress on such a morning—­and when she rose up at his entrance and dropped him a curtesy, exclaiming, “God save you, Father!”—­at the same time swallowing down the remainder of the milk that she might not lose a moment; he cast his eye round the kitchen to see whether she had actually come in the dress she wore.

“How far have you come this morning, my poor woman?” he inquired.

“From the ride of the Sliebeen More Mountains, plaise your reverence.”

“What, in your present dress! without shoe or stocking?”

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“True enough, sir; but indeed it was little the cowld, or sleet, or frost, troubled me.”

“Yes, God help you, I can believe that too—­for I understand the cause of it too well—­but have hope—­Katty, what was that you gave her?”

“A mouthful of warm milk, your reverence, to put the cowld out of her heart.”

“Ah, Katty, I wish we could put sorrow and affliction out of it—­but you did well and right in the meantime; still you must do better, Katty, lend her your cloak—­and your shoes and stockings too, poor thing!”

“I’m oblaged to your reverence,” she replied, “but indeed I won’t feel the want of them; as I said, there’s only one thought that I am suffering about—­and that is, for your reverence to see my husband before he departs.”

“Yes—­but the consequences of this cold and bitter journey may fall upon you at another time—­and before long, too—­so be advised by me, and don’t refuse to take them.”

“It’s not aisy to do that, sir,” she replied with a faint smile, for as she spoke, his servant had the cloak already about her shoulders; “it appears,” she continued, “that this kind woman must have her will and way in everything.”

“To be sure I will,” said Katty, “espishially in everything that’s right, any how—­come here now, and while his reverence is getting his staff and mittens in the room above, I’ll help you on with the shoes and stockings.  Now,” she added, in one of those touching and irresistible whispers that are produced by kindness and not by secrecy, “if anything happens—­as God forbid there should—­but if anything does happen, keep these till afther everything is over.  Before strangers you know one wouldn’t like to appear too bare, if they could help it.”

The tone in which these words were spoke could not fail in at once reaching the poor woman’s heart.  She wept as much from gratitude as the gloomy alternative involved in Katty’s benevolent offer.

“God bless you,” she exclaimed, “but I trust in the Almighty, there may be hope and that they won’t be wanted.  Still, how can I hope when I think of the way he’s in?  But God is good, blessed be his holy name!”

So saying, the priest came down,and they both set out on their bleak and desolate journey.

The natural aspect of the surrounding country was in good keeping with the wild and stormy character of the morning.  Before them, in the back ground, rose a magnificent range of mountains, whose snowy peaks were occasionally seen far above the dusky clouds which drifted rapidly across their bosoms.  The whole landscape, in fact, teemed with a spirit of savage grandeur.  Many of the glens on each side were deep and precipitous, where rock beetled over rock, and ledge projected over ledge, in a manner so fearful that the mind of the spectator, excited and rapt into terror by the contemplation of them, wondered why they did not long ago tumble into the chasm beneath, so slight was their apparent support. 

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Even in the mildest, seasons desolation brooded over the lesser hills and mountains about them; what then must it not have been at the period we are describing?  From a hill a little to the right, over which they had to pass, a precipitous headland was visible, against which the mighty heavings of the ocean could be heard hoarsely thundering at a distance, and the giant billows, in periods of storm and tempest, seen shivering themselves into white; foam that rose nearly to the summit of their immovable barriers.

Such was the toilsome country over which our two travellers had to pass.

It was not without difficulty and fatigue that the priest and his companion wended their way towards one of the moors we have, mentioned.  The snow beat against them with great violence, sometimes rendering it almost impossible for them to keep their eyes open or to see their proper path across the hills.  The woman, however, trod her way instinctively, and whilst the, priest aided her by his superior strength, she in return guided him by a clearer sagacity.  Neither spoke much, for in truth each had enough to do in combating with the toil and peril of the journey, as well as in thinking of the melancholy scene to which they were hastening.  Words of consolation and comfort he did from time to time utter; but he felt that his situation was one of difficulty.  To inspire hope where there was probably no hope, might be only to deepen her affliction; and, on the other hand, to weigh down a heart already heavy laden by unnecessarily adding one gloomy forboding to its burthen, was not in his nature.  Such comfort as he could give without bearing too strongly upon either her hopes or her fears he did give; and we do not think that an apostle, had he been in his place, could or ought to have done more.

They had now arrived within half a mile of the moor, when they felt themselves overtaken by a man whose figure was of a very singular and startling description, being apparently as wild and untamed as the barren waste on which he made his appearance.  He was actually two or three inches above the common height, but in addition to this fact, and as if not satisfied with it, he wore three hats, one sheathed a little into the other, so that they could not readily separate, and the under one he kept always fastened to his head, in order to prevent the whole pyramid from falling off.  His person seemed to gain still greater height from the circumstance of his wearing a long surtout that reached to his heels, and which he kept constantly buttoned closely about him.  His feet were cased in a tight pair of leather buskins, for it was one of his singularities that he could endure neither boot nor shoe, and he always wore a glove of some kind on his left hand, but never any on his right.  His features might be termed regular, even handsome; and his eyes were absolutely brilliant, yet, notwithstanding this, it was impossible to look for a moment upon his tout ensemble without perceiving that that spirit which stamps the impress of reason and intellect upon the human countenance, was not visible in his.  Like a new and well-proportioned house which had never been occupied, everything seemed externally regular and perfect, whilst it was evident by its still and lonely character, as contrasted with the busy marks of on-going life in those around it, that it was void and without an inhabitant.

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Like many others of his unhappy class, Poll Doolin’s son, “Raymond-na-hattha,” for it was he, and so had he been nick-named, in consequence of his wearing such a number of hats, had a remarkable mixture of humor, simplicity, and cunning.  He entertained a great penchant, or rather a passion for cock-fighting, and on the present occasion carried a game one under his arm.  Throughout the country no man possessed a bird of that species, with whose pedigree he was not thoroughly acquainted; and, truth to tell, he proved himself as great a thief as he was a genealogist among them.  Many a time the unfortunate foxes from some neighboring cover were cursed and banned, when, if the truth had been known, the only fox that despoiled the roost was Raymond-na-hattha.  One thing, however, was certain, that unless the cock was thoroughly game he might enjoy his liberty and ease long enough without molestation from Raymond.  We had well nigh forgotten to say that he wore on the right side of his topmost hat a cockade of yellow cloth, from which two or three ribbons of a scarlet color fluttered down to his shoulder, a bit of vanity which added very much to the fantastic nature of his general costume.

“Ha!  Raymond, my good boy,” said the priest, “how does it happen that you are so early up this stormy morning? would you not be more comfortable in your bed?”

“Airly up,” replied Raymond, “airly up! that’s good—­to be sure you’re a priest, but you don’t know everything.”

“Why, what am I ignorant of now, Raymond?”

“Why, that I didn’t go to bed yet—­so that it’s up late, instead of early, I am—­d’ye hear? ha, ha, now take that.”

“When, where, and how did you spend the night then, Raymond; but you seem in a hurry—­surely if you trot on at this fate we cannot keep up with you.”  The truth is, Raymond’s general rate of travelling was very rapid.  “Where did you spend the night, Raymond,” continued the priest.

“Wid a set o’ jolly cocks—­ha, ha,—­now make money of that, d’ye hear.”

“You’re a riddle, Raymond; you’re a riddle; there’s no understanding you—­where did you get the cock?—­but I needn’t ask; of course you stole him.”

“Then why do you ax if you think so?”

“Because you’re notorious for stealing cocks—­every one knows as much.”

“No, never steal ’em,—­fond o’ me—­come wid me themselves.  Look.”  The words were scarcely uttered when he tossed the bird up into the air, and certainly, after flying about for a few yards, he alit, and tottering against the wind towards Raymond, stretched out his neck, as if he wished to be again taken up by him.

“I see,” said the priest, “but answer me—­where did you spend last night now?”

“I tould you,” said Raymond, “wid de jolly cocks—­sure I mostly roost it; an’ better company too than most people, for they’re fond o’ me.  Didn’t you see? ha, ha!”

“I believe I understand you now,” said Father Roche; “you’ve slept near somebody’s hen roost, and have stolen the cock—­to whom are you carrying it?”

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“You won’t tell to-morrow; ha, ha, there now, take a rub too—­that’s one.”

“Poor creature,” said the priest to his companion, “I am told he is affectionate, and where he takes a fancy or has received a kindness, very grateful.”

The parish where the circumstances we are describing occurred, having been that in which Raymond was born, of course the poor fool was familiar to every one in it, as indeed every one in it, young and old, was to him.

During the short dialogue between him and the priest, the female, absorbed in her own heavy sorrow, was observed by Raymond occasionally to wipe the tears from her eyes; a slight change, a shade of apparent compassion came over his countenance, and turning to her, he gently laid his hand upon her shoulder, and said, in a voice different from, his flighty and abrupt manner—­

“Don’t cry, Mary, he has company, and good things that were brought to him—­he has indeed, Mary; so don’t be crying now.”

“What do you mean, poor boy?” asked the woman; “I don’t understand you, Raymond.”

“It is difficult to do that at all times,” said Father Roche, “but notwithstanding the wildness of his manner, he is seldom without meaning.  Raymond will you tell me where you came from now?” he asked.

“From your house,” he replied; “I went to fetch you to him; but you were both gone, and I overtook you—­I could aisy do that—­ha ha.”

“But what is the company that’s with him, Raymond?” asked the female, naturally anxious to understand this part of his communication.  Raymond, however, was now in one of his silent moods, and appeared not to hear her; at all events, he did not think it worth his while to give her any reply.  For a short period he kept murmuring indistinctly to himself, or if a word or two became audible, it was clear that his favorite sport of cock-fighting had altogether engrossed his attention.

They had now reached a rough, dark knoll of heath, which brought them in view of the cabin to which they were going, and also commanded an extensive and glorious prospect of the rich and magnificent inland country which lay behind them.  The priest and his now almost exhausted companion, to whom its scenery was familiar, waited not to look back upon its beauty or its richness.  Not so Raymond, who, from the moment they began to ascend the elevation, kept constantly looking back, and straining his eyes in one particular direction.  At length he started, and placing his right hand upon the priest’s shoulder, said in a suppressed but eager voice—­

“Go on—­go on—­they’re coming.”  Then, turning to the female—­“Come,” said he; “come, Mary,—­I’ll help you.”

“Who is coming?” she exclaimed, whilst the paleness of death and terror settled in her face; “for God’s mercy, Raymond, who is coming?”

“I saw them,” said he; “I saw them.  Come—­come fast—­I’ll help you—­don’t thrimble—­don’t thrimble.”

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“Let us be guided by him,” said the priest.  “Raymond,” he added, “we cannot go much faster through this marshy heath, but do you aid Mary as well as you can; as for me, I will try if it be possible to quicken my pace.”

He accordingly proceeded in advance of the other two for a little; but it was only for a little.  The female—­who seemed excited by some uncommon terror, and the wild, apprehensive manner of her companion, into something not unlike the energy of despair—­rushed on, as if she had been only setting out, or gained supernatural strength.  In a few minutes she was beside the priest, whom she encouraged, and besought, and entreated—­ay, and in some moments of more vehement feeling, absolutely chided, for not keeping pace with herself.  They had now, however, came within about a hundred yards of the cabin, which they soon reached—­the female entering it about a minute or two before the others, in order to make those humble arrangements about a sick-bed, which, however poverty may be forced to overlook on ordinary occasions, are always attended to on the approach of the doctor, or the minister of religion.  In the instance before us, she had barely time to comfort her sick husband, by an assurance that the priest had arrived, after which she hastily wiped his lips and kissed them, then settled his head more easily; after which she spread out to the best advantage the poor quilt which covered him, and tucked it in about his lowly bed, so as to give it something of a more tidy appearance.

The interior of the cottage, which the priest and Raymond entered together, was, when the bitter and inclement nature of the morning, and the state of the miserable inmates is considered, enough to make any heart possessing humanity shudder.  Two or three stools; a couple of pots; a few shelves, supported on pegs driven into the peat wall; about a bushel of raw potatoes lying in a corner; a small heap of damp turf—­for the foregoing summer had been so incessantly wet, that the turf, unless when very early cut, could not be saved; a few wooden noggins and dishes; together with a bundle of straw, covered up in a corner with the sick man’s coat, which, when shaken out at night, was a bed; and those, with the exception of their own simple domestic truth and affection, were their only riches.  The floor, too, as is not unusual in such mountain cabins, was nothing but the natural peat, and so damp and soft was it, that in wet weather the marks of their feet were visibly impressed on it at every step.  With the exception of liberty to go and come, pure air, and the light of the blessed day, they might as well have dragged out their existence in a subterraneous keep belonging to some tyrannical old baron of the feudal ages.

There was one small apartment in this cabin, but what it contained, if it did contain anything, could not readily be seen, for the hole or window, which in summer admitted the light, was now filled with rags to keep out the cold.  From this little room, however, the priest as he entered, was surprised to see a young man come forth, apparently much moved by some object which he had seen in it.

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“Mr. Harman,” said the priest, a good deal surprised, “who could have expected to find you here?”

They shook hands as he spoke, each casting his eyes upon this woeful scene of misery.  “God pity them,” ejaculated the priest, clasping his hands, and looking upwards, “and sustain them!”

“I owe it to poor Raymond, here,” replied the other, “and I feel obliged to him; but,” said he, taking Father Roche over to the door, “here will be a double death—­father and son.”

“Father and son, how is that?—­she mentioned nothing of the son.”

“It is very possible,” said Harman, “that they are not conscious of his danger.  I fear, however, that the poor boy has not many hours to live.”

All that we have just described, occurred in three minutes; but short as was the time, the wife’s impatience to have the rites of the church administered, could scarcely be restrained; nor was poor Raymond’s anxiety much less.

“They’re comin’,” said he, “Mr. Harman, they are comin’; hurry, hurry, I know what they’ll do.”

“Who are coming, Raymond?” asked Harman.  “Oh!” said the fool, “hurry—­M’Clutchy’s blood-hounds.”

The wife clapped her hands, shrieked, and falling on her knees, exclaimed in a piercing voice, “merciful God, look down on us!  Oh, Father Roche, there is not a moment to be lost!”

The priest and Harman again exchanged a melancholy glance;—­“you must all retire into the little room,” said the clergyman, “until I administer to him the last rites.”

They accordingly withdrew, the woman having first left a lit rush light candle at his bed-side, as she knew the ceremony required.

The man’s strength was wasting fast, and his voice sinking rapidly, but on the other hand he was calm and rational, a circumstance which relieved the priest’s mind very much.  As is usual, having put a stole about his neck, he first heard his confession, earnestly exhorted him to repentance, and soothed and comforted him with all those promises and consolations which are held out to repentant sinners.  He then administered the Extreme Unction; which being over, the ceremony, and a solemn one it must be considered, was concluded.  On this occasion, however, his death-bed consolations did not end here.  There are in the Roman Catholic Church prayers for the dying, many of them replete with the fervor of Christian faith, and calculated to raise the soul to the hopes of immortality.  These the priest read in a slow manner, so as that the dying man could easily accompany him, which he did with his hands clasped, upon his breast, and his eyes closed, unless when he raised them occasionally to heaven.  He then exhorted him with an anxiety for his salvation which transcended all earthly and temporal considerations, prayed with him and for him, whilst the tears streamed in torrents down his cheeks.  Nor was the spirit of his holy mission lost; the penitent man’s face assumed

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a placid and serene expression; the light of immortal hope beamed upon it; and raising his eyes and his feeble arms to heaven, he uttered several ejaculations in a tone of voice too low to be heard.  At length he exclaimed aloud, “thanks to the Almighty that I did not commit this murder as I intended!  I found it done to my hand; but I don’t know who did it, as I am to meet my God!” The words were pronounced with difficulty; indeed they were scarcely uttered, when his arms fell lifelessly, as it were, by his side—­they were again suddenly drawn up, however, as if by a convulsive motion, and the priest saw that the agonies of death were about to commence; still, it was easy to perceive that the man was collected and rational.

It was now, however, that a scene took place, which could not, we imagine, be witnessed out of distracted and unhappy Ireland.  Raymond, who appeared to dread the approach of those whom he termed M’Clutchy’s blood-hounds, no sooner saw that the religious rites were concluded, than he ran out to reconnoitre.  In a moment, however, he returned a picture of terror, and dragging the woman to the door, pointed to a declivity below the house, exclaiming—­

[Illustration:  PAGE 186—­ See, Mary, see—­they’re gallopin]

“See, Mary, see—­they’re gallopin’.”  The dying man seemed conscious of what was said, for the groan he gave was wild and startling; his wife dropped on her knees at the door, where she could watch her husband and those who approached, and clasping her hands, exclaimed, “To your mercy, O Lord of heaven, to your mercy take him, before he falls into their hands, that will show him none!” She then bestowed upon him a look full of an impatient agony, which no language could describe; her eyes had already become wild and piercing—­her cheek flushed—­and her frame animated with a spirit that seemed to partake at once of terror, intense hatred, and something like frenzy.

“They are gallopin’! they are gallopin’!” she said, “and they will find life in him!” She then wrung her hands, but shed not a tear—­“speed, Hugh,” she said, “speed, speed, husband of my heart—­the arms of God are they not open for you, and why do you stay?” These sentiments, we should have informed our readers, were uttered, or rather chaunted in a recitative of sorrow, in Irish; Irish being the language in which the peasantry who happen to speak both it and English, always express themselves when more than usually excited.  “The sacred oil of salvation is upon you—­the sacrament of peace and forgiveness has lightened your soul—­the breath of mercy is the breath you’re breathin’—­the hope of Jesus is in your heart, and the intercession of his blessed mother, she that knew sorrow herself, is before you!  Then, light of my heart, the arms of God are they not open for you, and why do you stay here?”

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“Nearer—­nearer,” she exclaimed, “they are nearer—­whippin’ and spurrin’ their horses!  Hugh O’Regan, that was the sun of my life, and of my heart, and ever without a cloud, hasten to the God of mercy!  Oh, surely, you will not blame your own Mary that was your lovin’ wife—­and the treasure of your young and manly heart, for wishin’ to see you taken from her eyes—­and for wishing to see the eyes that,never looked upon us all but with love and kindness, closed on us forever.  Oh,” said she, putting her hands to her forehead, “an’ is it—­is it come to this—­that I that was dearer to him than his own life a thousand times, should now be glad to see him die—­be glad to see him die!  Oh! they are here,” she shrieked, “before the door—­you may hear their horses’ feet!  Hugh O’Regan,” and her voice became louder and more energetic—­“the white-skinned—­the fair of hair, the strong of hand, and the true of heart—­as you ever loved me that was once your happy bride—­as you ever loved the religion of our holy church—­as you hope for happiness and mercy, hasten from me—­from our orphan—­from all—­oh, hasten to the arms of your God!”

During this scene there was a solemn silence in the house, the priest and Harman having both been struck mute at the solemnity of the scene.

“They are here—­they are here!” she screamed.  “Oh, sun of my heart, think not now of me, nor of the children of your love, for we will follow you in time—­but think of the happy country you’re going to,—­to live in the sunshine of heaven, among saints and angels for ever!  Oh, sun of my heart, think too of what you lave behind you!  What is it?  Oh! what is it to you—­but poverty, and misery, and hardship—­the cowld cabin and the damp bed—­the frost of the sky—­the frown of power, and the scourge of law—­all this, oh, right hand of my affection, with the hard labor and the scanty food, do you fly from!  Sure we had no friend in this world to protect or defend us against them that, would trample us under their feet!  No friend for us because we are poor, and no friend for our religion because it is despised.  Then hasten, hasten, O light of my heart—­and take refuge in the mercy of your God!”

“Mary,” said the priest, who had his eyes fixed upon the sick man, “Give God thanks, he is dead—­and beyond the reach of human enmity forever.”

She immediately prostrated herself on the floor in token of humility and thanksgiving—­then raising her eyes to heaven, she said, “may the heart of the woeful widow be grateful to the God who has taken him to his mercy before they came upon him!  But here they are, and now I am not afraid of them.  They can’t insult my blessed husband now, nor murdher him, as his father’s villains did our dyin’ son, on the cowld Esker of Drum Dhu; nor disturb him with their barbarous torments on the bed of death—­and glory be to God for that!”

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Many of our readers may be led to imagine that the terrors of Mary O’Regan were altogether unproportioned to anything that might be apprehended from the approach of the officers of justice, or, at least to those who came to execute the law.  The state of Irish society at that time, however, was very different from what it is now, or has been for the last twenty years.  At that period one party was in the ascendant and the other directly under their feet; the former was in the possession of irresponsible power, and the other, in many matters, without any tribunal whatsoever to which, they could appeal.  The Established Church of Ireland was then a sordid corporation, whose wealth was parcelled out, not only without principle, but without shame, to the English and Irish aristocracy, but principally to the English.  Church livings were not filled with men remarkable for learning and piety, but awarded to political prostitution, and often to young rakes of known and unblushing profligacy, connected with families of rank.  The consequence was, that a gross secular spirit, replete with political hatred and religious rancor, was the only principle which existed in the place of true religion.  That word was then, except in rare cases indeed, a dead letter; for such was the state of Protestant society then, and for several years afterwards, that it mattered not how much or how little a man of that creed knew about the principles of his own church; and as it was administered the less he knew of it the better—­all that was necessary to constitute a good Protestant was “to hate the Pope.”  In truth—­for it cannot be concealed, and we write it with deep pain and sorrow—­the Established Church of Ireland was then, in point of fact, little else than a mere political engine held by the English government for the purpose of securing the adherence of those who were willing to give support to their measures.

In such a state of things, then, it need not be wondered at, that, neglected and secularized as it was at the period we write of, it should produce a class of men, whose passions in everything connected with religion and politics were intolerant and exclusive.  Every church, no matter what its creed, unfortunately has its elect of such professors.  Nor were these confined to the lower classes alone—­far from it.  The squire and nobleman were too frequently both alike remarkable for the exhibition of such principles.  Of this class was our friend M’Clutchy, who was now a justice of the peace, a grand juror, and a captain of cavalry—­his corps having, a little time before, been completed.  With this posse, as the officers of justice, the pranks he played were grievous to think of or to remember.  He and they were, in fact, the terror of the whole Roman Catholic population; and from the spirit in which they executed justice, were seldom called by any other name than that of M’Clutchy’s Bloodhounds.  Upon the present occasion they were unaccompanied by M’Clutchy himself—­a circumstance which was not to be regretted, as there was little to be expected from his presence but additional brutality and insult.

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On arriving at the door, they hastily dismounted, and rushed into the cabin with their usual violence and impetuosity, each being armed with a carbine and bayonet.

“Hallo!” said the leader, whose name was Sharpe; “what’s here? shamming sickness is it?”

“No,” said Father Roche; “it is death?”

“Ay! shamming death then.  Never mind—­we’ll soon see that.  Come, Steele, give him a prod—­a gentle one—­and I’ll engage it’ll make him find tongue, if anything will.”

Steele, to whom this was addressed, drew his bayonet, and commenced screwing it on, for the purpose of executing his orders.

“A devilish good trick, too,” said he; “and the first of the kind that has been practised on us yet—­here goes—­”

Up until this moment O’Regan’s wife sat beside the dead body of her husband, without either word or motion.  A smile of—­it might be satisfaction, perhaps even joy, at his release; or it might be hatred—­was on her face, and in her eye; but when the man pointed his bayonet at the corpse of her husband, she started to her knees, and opening out her arms, exclaimed—­

“Here’s my heart—­and through that heart your bayonet will go, before it touches his body.  Oh, if you have hearts in your bodies, you will surely spare the dead!”

“Here goes, ma’am,” he repeated, “and you had better lave that—­we’re not in the habit of being checked by the like of you, at any rate, or any of your creed.”

“I am not afeared to profess my creed—­nor ashamed of it,” she exclaimed; and if it went to that, I would die for it—­but I tell you, that before your bayonet touches the dead body of my husband, it must pass through my heart!”

“Don’t be alarmed, Mary,” said the priest; “they surely cannot be serious.  It’s not possible that any being in the shape of man could be guilty of such a sacrilegious outrage upon the dead as they threaten.”

“What is it your business?” said the leader; “go and tare off your masses, and be hanged; none of your Popish interference here, or it’ll be worse for you!  I say the fellow’s not dead—­he’s only skeining.  Come, Alick, put the woman aside, and tickle him up.”

“Keep aside, I tell you,” said Steele, again addressing her—­“keep aside, my good woman, till I obey my orders—­and don’t provoke me.”

Father Roche was again advancing to remonstrate with him, for the man’s determination seemed likely to get stronger by opposition—­when, just as the bayonet which had already passed under the woman’s arm, was within a few inches of O’Regan’s body, he felt himself dragged forcibly back, and Raymond-na-hattha stood before him, having seized both carbine and bayonet with a strong grip.

“Don’t do that,” he exclaimed—­“don’t—­you’d hurt him—­sure you’d hurt poor Hugh!”

The touching simplicity of this language, which, to a heart possessing the least tincture of humanity, would have more, force than the strongest argument, was thrown away upon him to whom it was directed.

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“Fling the blasted idiot off,” shouted Sharpe; “don’t you see he has let the cat out o’ the bag—­how could the man be hurted if he was dead; I knew it was a schame.”  To throw Raymond off, however, was easier said than done, as the fellow found on attempting it.  A struggle commenced between them, which, though violent, was not of long duration.  Raymond’s eye got turbid, and glared with a fiery light; but otherwise his complexion did not change.  By a vehement twist, he wrenched the arms out of Steele’s hands, hurling him from him at the same time, with such force, that he fell on the floor with a crash.

“Now,” said he, pointing the bayonet to his neck, “would you like it?—–­ha, ha!—­think of that.”

Four carbines—­the whole party consisting of five—­were immediately levelled at him; and it is not improbable that half a minute more would have closed both his existence and his history, had not Father Roche and the widow both succeeded, with some difficulty, in drawing him back from the prostrate officer of justice.  Raymond, after a little time, gave up the arms; but his eye still blazed at his opponent, with a glare that could not be misunderstood.

Harman, who had hitherto taken no part whatsoever in the altercation, now interfered; and with feelings which he found it nearly impossible to restrain, pointed out to them the wanton cruelty of such conduct towards both the living and the dead.  “I am ashamed of you,” said he, “as countrymen, as Irishmen.  Your treatment of this poor heartbroken woman, amidst her desolation and sorrow, is a disgrace to the country that gave you birth, and to the religion you profess, if, indeed, you profess any.”

“Come, come, my good fellow,” said Sharpe, “what is it you say about my religion?  I tell you I’ll allow no man to spake a syllable against my religion; so keep quiet if you’re wise, and don’t attack that, otherwise don’t be surprised if I make you dance the devil’s hornpipe in half a shake, great a hairo as you are.”

“And yet you felt no scruple in just now insulting religion, in the person of this reverend gentleman who never offended you.”

“Him! why what the hell is he but a priest?”

“And the more entitled to your respect on that account—­but since you are so easily excited in defence of your own creed, why so ready to attack in such offensive and insulting language that of another?”

“Come, come, Sharpe,” said another of them, “are we to be here all day—­whatever we’re to do let us do it at once; if the fellow’s dead, why he has had a devilish good escape of it, and if not, let us clap him on a horse, that is, provided he’s able to travel.  I think myself he has got the start of us, and that the wind’s out of him.”

“Take your time,” said Steele, who felt anxious to avenge his defeat upon some one, “we must know, that before ever we leave the house—­and by the great Boyne, the first person that goes between me and him will get the contents of this,” and as he uttered the words he coolly and deliberately cocked the gun, and was advancing as before to the dead body.

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“Holdback,” said Harman, in a voice which made the man start, whilst with a firm tread and resolute eye, he stood face to face before him; “hold back, and dare not violate that sacred and awful privilege, which in every country and creed under heaven is sufficient to protect the defenceless dead.  What can be your object in this? are you men—­have you the spirit, the courage, of men?  If you are human beings, is not the sight of that unhappy fellow-creature—­I hope he is happy now,—­stretched out in death before you, sufficient, by the very stillness of departed life, to calm the brutal frenzy of your passions!  Have you common courage?  No; I tell you to your teeth that none but spiritless caitiffs and cowards would, in the presence of death and sorrow—­in the miserable cabin of the destitute widow and her orphan boy—­exhibit the ruffianly outrages of men who are wanton in their cruelty, merely because they know there is none to resist them; and I may add, because they think that their excesses, however barbarous, will be shielded by higher authority.  No, I tell you, if there stood man for man before you, even without arms in their hands, you would not dare to act and swagger as you do, or to play these cruel pranks of oppression and tyranny anywhere, much less in the house of death and affliction.  Fie upon you, you are a disgrace to everything that is human, a reproach to every feeling of manhood, and every principle of religion.”

Hardened as they were by the habits of their profligate and debasing employment, such was the ascendancy of manly truth and and moral feeling over them, that for a minute or two they quailed under the indignant glance of Harman.  Steele drew back his gun, and looked round on his companions to ascertain their feeling.

“Gentleman,” said Father Roche, anxious to mollify them as much as he could—­“gentleman, for the sake of that poor heart-broken widowed woman and her orphan son—­for her and his sake, and if not for theirs then, for the sake of God himself, before whose awful judgment-seat we must all stand to render an account of our works, I entreat—­I implore you to withdraw—­do, gentlemen, and leave her and her children to their sorrows and their misery, for the world has little else for them.”

“I’m willing to go,” said a fellow, ironically called Handsome Hacket, because he was blind of an eye and deeply pock-pitted—­“there’s no use in quarrellin’ with a woman certainly—­and I don’t think there can be any doubt about the man’s death; devil a bit.”

“Well said, Vainus,” exclaimed Sharpe, “and it is not ten days since we were defrauded of Parra Rackan who escaped from us in Jemmy Reilly’s coffin—­when we thought to nab him in the wakehouse—­and when we went away didn’t they set him at large, and then go back to bury the man that was dead.  Now, how da you know, Vainus, my purty boy, that this fellow’s not playin’ us a trick o’ the same color?”

“Come, come,” said another of them who had not yet spoke, “it’s aisy to know that.  Curse me, Steele, if you don’t give him a tickle, I will—­that’s all—­we’re losin’ the day and I want my breakfast Living or dead, and be hanged to him, I’m starved for want of something to eat—­and to drink, too—­so be quick I tell you.”

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“Very well, my buck,” said Steele—­“that’s your sort—­here goes—­”

He once more advanced with a savage determination to effect his purpose—­when the priest gently and in a mild spirit of remonstrance laid his hand upon his shoulder; but he had scarcely done so, when one of them seized him by the collar and flung, or rather attempted to fling, him back with great violence.

“Go on, Steele,” shouted the last speaker, whose name was Harpur—­“Go on—­and be cursed, man, we will support you.”

The words, however, were scarcely out of his lips, when Raymond, his eye glaring like that of a tiger with the wildness of untamed resentment, sprang upon him with a bound, and in a moment they once more grappled together.  It was, however, only for a moment—­for by the heavy blow he received from Raymond, the man staggered and fell, but ere he reached the ground, the gun, which had been ineffectually aimed at the poor fool, went off, and lodged its contents in the heart of the last speaker, who staggered, groaned, and fell lifeless where he stood.

For a minute or so, this fatal and unexpected catastrophe stunned them.  They looked upon each other amazed and apparently stupefied, “What,” cried Sharpe, “is Harpur dead?” Two of them then placed their arms against the wall in order to ascertain the exact nature of the injury inflicted.

At this moment, Sharpe, who saw at once the man was indeed lifeless, raised his gun about to take aim at Raymond, when a blow from Harman felled him to the earth.

“And here’s for your kindness, Mister Harman,” shouted Steele; but ere the words were uttered, O’Regan’s wife threw herself upon him so effectually, that he felt it impossible to avail himself of his fire-arms.

“Fight now,” she shouted in Irish, “it is for your lives—­it is for the widow—­for the orphan—­for the bed of death—­and the dead that’s upon it—­fight now—­for God will be with us!  May his strength and power be in your arms and your hearts, prays the woeful widow this day!  Villain—­villain,” she shouted, “I have you powerless now—­but it’s the strength of God that is in me, and not my own!”

The conflict that ensued now was bitter, savage, deadly.  The moment Sharpe was knocked down, Raymond flew to their firearms, handed one to Harman, and kept the other himself.  The men who used them were fierce, and powerful, and cruel.  In a moment a furious contest took place.  The four men immediately grappled, each one attempting to wrest the gun from his antagonist.  Raymond, whose passions were now roused so as to resemble the ravenous fury of madness itself, at one time howled like a beast of prey, and shouted, and screamed, and laughed with maniac wildness that was enough to make almost any heart quail.  His eyes blazed, his figure dilated, his muscles stood out, his mouth was white with froth, and his eyebrows were knit into a deep and deadly scowl.  Altogether his appearance was frightful and appalling.

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Harman was still better matched, and the struggle with his foe was for some time doubtful enough, the latter being one of the strongest and most resolute men in the whole parish.  A powerful tug for the gun now took place, each pulling in opposite directions with all his might.  At length a thought struck Harman, who all at once let the gun go, when the other having no longer any resisting power to sustain him, fell back upon the floor, and in an instant Harman’s knee was on his chest and the gun in his possession.  The man ground his teeth, and looking up into his face with a black scowl of hatred, exclaimed—­

“It is your turn now, but I will have mine.”

“You have had yours too long, villain,” replied the other, “but in the mean time I will teach you to respect the bed of death and the afflictions of the widow.”

Saying which, he vigorously applied the butt of the gun to his ribs, until he had rendered him anything but disposed for further conflict.

Both victories were achieved much about the same time; Raymond’s opponent being far the more severely punished of the two.  “What, however, was their surprise after each had expelled his man from the cabin, to find Steele down, his gun lying on one side.  O’Regan’s wife fastened on his throat, and himself panting and almost black in the face!

“Here now,” she exclaimed, “the battle of the widow was well fought, and God gave us strength.  Put this man out with the rest.”  This was accordingly done, but as in the case of his companions, the gun for the present was retained.

“See now,” she proceeded, still in Irish, “what the hand of a weak woman can do, when her heart is strengthened by God, against cruelty and oppression.  What made that strong man weak in my grasp?  Because he knew that the weakness of the widow was his shame—­the touch of her hand took away his strength; and what had he within or about him to depend upon? could he look in upon his wicked heart, and be strong? could he look upon the darkness of a bad conscience, and be strong? could he look on me—­upon my dead husband, and his bed of death, and be strong?  No—­and above all, could he look up to the Almighty God in heaven, and be strong—­no—­no—­no—­but from all these I gained strength—­for surely, surely, I had it not in myself!”

She uttered these sentiments with wonderful energy, and indeed, from the fire in her eye, and the flush of her cheek, it was evident she was highly excited.  Father Roche, who had been engaged, and indeed, had enough to do in keeping the poor child quiet and aloof from the fray, especially from his mother—­now entreated that she would endeavor to compose herself, as she had reason to thank God, he said, that neither she herself nor her resolute defenders had sustained any personal injury.  She did not seem to have heard him—­for on looking on the body of her husband she almost bounded over to the bed, and kneeling down rapturously, and in a spirit of enthusiastic triumph, kissed his lips.

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“Now, my husband,” said she, “we have fought and gained the victory—­no insult did you get—­no dishonor on your lowly bed where you’re sleepin’ your last sleep.  Hugh, do you know, asthore, how the wife of your heart fought for you?  Your own poor, weak, sorrowful, heart-broken, but loving wife, that was as feeble as an infant this mornin’!  But who gave her the strength to put down a strong and wicked man’?  The God—­the good God—­and to him be the glory!—­in whose bosom you are now happy.  Ay, we conquered—­ha—­ha—­ha—­we conquered—­we conquered—­ha—­ha—­ha!”

The dead body of Harpur in the meantime had been removed by his companions, who it was evident felt as much, if not more bitterness at their own defeat, than they did by the fatal accident which deprived him of life.

Scarcely had the wild triumph of O’Regan’s wife time to subside, when it soon became evident that the tragical incidents of this bitter and melancholy morning were not yet completed.

The child alluded to by Harman in his first brief conversation with Father Roche, had been for some time past in a much more dangerous state than his parents suspected, or at least than his unhappy mother did, whose principal care was engrossed by the situation of her husband.  The poor boy, at all times affectionate and uncomplaining, felt loth to obtrude his little wants and sufferings upon her attention, knowing as he did, that, owing to the nursing of his father, she was scarcely permitted three hours sleep out of the twenty-four.  If he could have been afforded even the ordinary comforts of a sick-bed, it is possible he might have recovered.  The only drink he could call for was “the black water,” as it is termed by the people, and his only nutrition a dry potato, which he could not take; the bed he lay upon was damp straw, yet did this patient child never utter a syllable to dishearten his mother, or deepen the gloom which hung over the circumstances of the family, and his father’s heart.  When asked how he was, he uniformly replied “better,” and his large lucid eyes would faintly smile upon his mother, as if to give her hope, after which the desolate boy would amuse himself by handling the bedclothes as invalids often do, or play with the humid straw of his cold and miserable bed, or strive to chat with his mother.

These details are very painful to those whose hearts are so elegantly and fashionably tender that they recoil with humane horror from scenes of humble wretchedness and destitution.  It is good, however, that they should be known to exist, for we assure the great and wealthy that they actually do exist, and may be found in all their sharpness and melancholy truth within the evening shadow which falls from many a proud and wealthy dwelling in this our native land.

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After all, it is likely, that had not the fearful occurrences of this morning taken place, their sweet boy might have been spared to them.  The shock, however, occasioned by the discharge of the gun, and the noise of the conflict, acting upon a frame so feeble were more than he could bear.  Be this as it may, the constables were not many minutes gone, when, to their surprise, he staggered back again out of his little room, where Father Roche had placed him, and tottering across the floor, slipped in the deceased man’s blood, and fell.  The mother flew to him, but Harman had already raised him up; when on his feet, he looked at the blood and shuddered—­a still more deadly paleness settled on his face—­his breath came short, and his lips got dry and parched—­he could not speak nor stand, had not Harman supported him.  He looked again at the blood with horror, and then at his mother, whilst he shrank up, as it were, into himself, and shivered from head to foot.

“Darling of my heart,” she exclaimed, “I understand you.  Bryan, our treasure, be a man for the sake of your poor heart-broken mother—­I will, I will, my darling life, I will wipe it off of you, every stain of it—­why should such blood and my innocent son come together?”

She now got a cloth, and in a few moments left not a trace of it upon him.  He had not yet spoken, but on finding himself cleansed from it, he stretched out his hands, thereby intimating that he wished to go to her.

“Do you not perceive a bottle on the shelf there?” said Harman, “it contains wine which I brought for his—­,” he checked himself;—­“Alas! my poor boy,” he exclaimed involuntarily, “you are doubly dear to your-mother now.  Mix it with water,” he proceeded, “and give him a little, it will strengthen and revive him.”

“Better,” said Father Roche in a low voice, not intended for his, “to put him back into his own bed; he is not now in a state to be made acquainted with his woeful loss.”  As he spoke the boy glanced at the corpse of his father, and almost at the same moment his mother put wine and water to his lips.  He was about to taste it, but on looking into the little tin porringer that contained it, he put it away from him, and shuddered strongly.

“It’s mixed with the blood,” said he, “and I can’t;” and again he put it away from him.

“Bryan, asthore,” said his mother, “it’s not blood; sure it’s wine that Mr. Harman, the blessin’ of God be upon him, brought to you.”

He turned away again, however, and would not take it.  “Bring me to my father,” said he, once more stretching out his arms towards his mother, “let me stay a while with him.”

“But he’s asleep, Bryan,” said Harman, “and I’m sure you would not wish to awaken him.”

“I would like to kiss him then,” he replied, “and to sleep a while with him.”

“Och, let him, poor darling,” said his mother, as she took him in her arms, “it may ease his little heart, and then he’ll feel satisfied.”

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“Well, if you’re allowed to go to him won’t you lie very quiet, and not speak so as to disturb him?” said Harman.

“I’m tired,” said the child, “and I’d like to sleep in his bed.  I used sometimes to do it before, and my father always kept his arms about me.”

His mother’s features became convulsed, and she looked up in mute affliction to heaven; but still, notwithstanding her misery, she was unable to shed one tear.

“Pulse of my heart” (cushla machree), she said, kissing him, “you must have your innocent and loving wish.”  She then gently raised the bed-clothes and placed him beside his father.

The poor pale boy sat up in the bed for about a minute, during which he glanced at the still features of the departed, then at his mother, and then at the pool of blood on the floor, and again he shuddered.  All at once, however, he started and looked about him; but in a manner that betokened delight rather than alarm—­his eyes brightened—­and an expression almost of radiance settled upon his face.  “Mother,” said he, “kiss me, and let Mr. Harman kiss me.”

They both did so, and his poor mother felt her heart relieved, by the happiness depicted on his face.  “Glory be to God,” she exclaimed, “see what a change for the better has come over my blessed child.”

Father Roche looked at Harman, and shook his head—­“Blessed he will be soon,” said he, in a low whisper, “the child is dying.”

The boy started again, and the former serenity lit up his pale features.

“Bryan, you are better, darling of my life; you look a thousand pounds better than you did awhile ago.”

The boy looked into her face and smiled.—–­“I am,” said he, “but did you not hear it?”

“Hear what, jewel of my heart?”

“There it is again;” said he, looking eagerly and delightfully about him, “my father’s voice;—­that’s three times it called, me, but it didn’t come from the bed, although he’s in it.  I will kiss him and then sleep—­but I will miss his arms from about me, I think.”

He then fixed himself beside that loving parent, aided by his mother, and getting his arm around his pulseless neck, he kissed him, and laying down his fair head, he fell asleep in that affecting posture.  There was a solemn stillness for some minutes, and a strange feeling of fear crept over his mother’s heart.  She looked into the eyes of those who were about her, but the looks they returned to her carried, no consolation to her spirit.

“My child,” she exclaimed—­“Oh, my child, what is this?  Bryan, my life—­my light, what ails you?” She stooped, and gently turning him about so as to see his face, she looked keenly into it for a few moments, and there certainly was the same seraphic expression which so lately lit it tip.  Still she felt dissatisfied, till putting her ear to his mouth and her hand to his heart, the woeful truth became known to her.  The guiltless spirit of her fair-haired son had followed, that of his father.

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When the afflicted widow saw the full extent of her loss, she clasped her hands together, and rose up with something of a hasty movement.  She looked about the miserable cabin for a moment, and then peered into the face of every one in the room—­all of whom, with the exception of Raymond, were in tears.  She then pressed her temples, as if striving to recollect what had happened—­sat down again beside her husband and child, and to their astonishment began to sing an old and melancholy Irish air, in a voice whose wild sweetness was in singular keeping with its mournful spirit.

To the bystanders this was more affecting a thousand times than the most vehement and outrageous grief.  Father Roche, however, who had had a much more comprehensive experience than his companion, knew, or at least hoped that it would not last long.

Several of the neighbors, having seen the dead body of the constable borne away, suspected that something extraordinary had occurred on the mountain, and consequently came flocking to the cabin, anxious to know the truth.  By this means, their acquaintances were brought about them—­aid in every shape, as far as it could be afforded, was administered, and in a short time they had a little stock of meal, butter, milk, candles, and such other simple comforts as their poor friends and neighbors had to bestow.  Such is the usual kindness of the Irish people to each other in moments of destitution and sorrow.  Nothing, on the present occasion, could surpass their anxiety in ascertaining the wants of this unhappy family:  and in such circumstances it is that the honest prompting of the humble heart, and its sincere participation in the calamities of its kindred poor, are known to shine forth with a lustre, which nothing but its distance from the observation of the great, or their own wilful blindness to it, could prevent it from being seen and appreciated as it ought.

Having seen her surrounded by friends and neighbors, Father Roche, after first offering as far as he thought he could reasonably attempt it, some kind advice and consolation, prepared to take his departure with Harman, leaving Raymond behind them, who indeed refused to go.  “No,” said he, “I can feed Dickey here—­but sure they’ll want me to run messages—­I’m active and soople, an I’ll go to every place, for the widow can’t.  But tell me, is the purty boy, the fair haired boy asleep, or what?—­tell me?”

“Why do you ask, Raymond?” said Father Rocche.

“Bekase I love him,” replied Raymond, “and I hope he’ll waken!  I would like to see him kiss his father again—­but I’m afeared somehow I never will.  If he awakens I’ll give him the cock any how—­bad luck to me but I will.”

“Hush,” said the priest, whilst a tear started to his eye at this most artless exhibition of affection for the child—­“don’t swear, Raymond.  The sweet boy will never waken in this world; but he will in heaven, where he is awake already, and where you will see him again.”

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“I would rather see him here,” replied the other; “and I wish I had gev him the cock first, when he came out of the room; but what’d she do without his white head before her?—­what’ll she do, and not have that to look at?  But stop,” said Raymond—­“wait a minute, and we’ll soon see whether he’ll waken or not.”

He then went into the little room where the poor child had lain during his illness, and immediately returned, bearing the cock in his hands—­

“Wait,” said he; “I was bringing the bird to poor little Brian, for I promised it to him.  We’ll see—­we’ll see.”

As he uttered the words, he placed the bird down on the child’s bosom and called out—­

“Brian, here’s your present for you, that I promised you—­won’t you waken?—­spake open your blue eyes, achora machree, and look at the fine bird I brought you.”

It was a most affecting little incident; for the contrast between the fiery scintillations flashed from the eye of the noble bird, the utter unbroken stillness of death, as character was so mournfully impressed upon the fair sweet features of innocence, was indeed such as few parental hearts could withstand.  Raymond looked awhile as if even he had been struck by it.

“Ah no,” said he, going down to his mother; “no, Mary, he will never waken—­and then what will you do for Brian’s white head?”

“Whisht!” she replied; “whisht, and I’ll sing you a song.  I have nothing else to do now but to sing and be happy—­

     “’Farewell father, farewell mother,
     Farewell friends, and farewell foes! 
     I now will go and court some other,
     For love it was the causer of all my woes.”

“An’ so it was,” she said; “for I did love some one, I think; but who they were, or where they are gone to, I cannot tell.  Is your name,” she added, her eye blazing as she spoke to Raymond, “is your, name M’Clutchy?”

“Say it is,” suggested one of the neighbors; “may be it may startle the poor thing into her senses.”

“That’s not very likely,” replied another, “for it has startled her out of them—­God in his mercy pity her!”

Raymond, however, adopted the first suggestion, without knowing why; and said in a loud voice—­

“Ay is it; my name is Val the Vulture, that commands the blood-hounds.”

The creature started—­became for a moment as if convulsed—­then proceeded at a speed that was incredible, screaming frightfully, across the dark and desolate scenery that surrounded the house.  It was vain to pursue her; for there was none there capable of doing it with success, unless Raymond, who understood not that she had become insane.

CHAPTER IX.—­A Dialogue, exhibiting Singular Principles of Justice

—­Solomon’s Tracts and Triumph—­A Sincere Convert—­Darby’s Views of Religion—­Poll Doolin’s Honesty—­Solomon’s Christian Generosity to a Man in Difficulty—­M’Loughlin and his Family.

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The extraordinary scene which we have just detailed as occurring in the mountain hut, took place on Saturday morning and about twelve on the subsequent Monday, the following dialogue passed between honest Val! and his son, Philip the graceful.

“That was a most unlucky accident that happened Harpur on Saturday,” said Val, dryly, and looking with a good deal of significance at the other.

“Unlucky,” said Phil, “faith and honor, my good father, I don’t know what to think.”

“You don’t, Phil!” replied Val; “why, what the deuce could you deem more unlucky than to be shot stone dead, without a moment’s notice.”

Phil’s color went a little at the bare notion of such a fate; but on observing an expression of peculiar complacency lurking in his father’s eye, it returned again, and after a little assurance settled down into its original hue.

“To himself certainly,” said Phil, “it was a bad business; no one can deny that.”

“But, my excellent son, Phil, it may turn out a very lucky incident for us in the mean time.  He is, Phil, a wise man in this world who can turn the misfortunes or crimes of others to his own advantage.  There is Harman for instance, Phil; now I believe you are not excessively attached to him.”

“I hate him as I do hell,” replied Phil.

“Very good—­you hate him as you do hell—­well, on the other hand, there is M’Loughlin, his partner in the manufactory, and his joint lessee in their farm—­now I hate him as I do—­I was about to say the devil—­but I feel loth to render that misrepresented gentleman an injustice—­that is, if there be such a gentleman—­which, with my worthy father, I much doubt.  Don’t you think now it is a fortunate thing that we can indict Harman for Harpur’s murder.  I really think, and it is said, he murdered him.  We would include the priest in the indictment as accessory, but that might be attended with personal danger—­and the less real danger we incur the better for ourselves.”

“Faith and honor, father, that doctrine’s worthy of an oracle—­as, indeed, most of what you say is.”

“But mark me, Phil; our object is simply his ruin, not his death.  Let us beggar M’Loughlin and him, and drive them out of the country.  No—­no—­not the death of either of them; on the contrary, I should wish them to live, if it was only that they might feel my revenge—­and that I knew they felt it.  I would not hang them if I could, for my own sake.”  He got pale, ground his teeth, knit his black beetle brow, and exhibited the diabolical cast of features for which he was remarkable whenever his evil passions began to stir in his heart.

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“Now,” said he to Phil, “keep a close mouth above all things, for we must proceed with caution.  I have here a letter from Lord Cumber, in which, at my private suggestion, he declines to renew their leases.  Indeed, on serious consideration, I have recently advised him to grant no renewals, except in cases where every reliance can be placed upon the principles of the parties.  The want of a lease is a very wholesome restriction on the conduct of our enemies.  M’Slime opposes me in this, because he cannot pocket as much as usual; but though I cannot readily break with him, still, I trust, that in a short time I shall be able to turn his flank in a manner for which he is but little prepared.  I have reason to think he is tampering with O’Drive—­in fact O’Drive told me as much—­O’Drive, however, is at work for me, although honest Solomon does not suspect him.  The pious attorney, who is bestowing more of his attention to religion than ever, has got bitten by the Conversion mania, and thinks he will be charged with a neglect of his gifts, as he calls them, unless he can produce a live convert actually made by his own hands.  I accordingly suggested to O’Drive to consult him on some religious scruples that he is supposed to have felt from the perusal of a tract written by M’Slime himself.

“Why,” said Phil, “are you not aware that he gave me three or four dozen of them for gratuitous distribution, as he calls it.  Yes, it is called ‘The Religious Attorney,’ being a reconcilement between honesty and law, or a blessed union between light and darkness; by Solomon M’Slime, attorney at law.

“Which tract,” continued Val, “was written for the sole purpose of recommending himself to the notice of the religious world aforesaid, more, by the way, as an attorney than as a Christian.  And a very good speculation it proved, for, whereas he was then scarcely able to make both ends meet by mere professional roguery, and dressed in a black gown—­which you know he always wears in court—­yet he no sooner threw the cloak of religion over that, than he advanced rapidly—­and the consequence is that he is now privately a usurious discounter of bills.”

“Faith and honor, now, father, do you,tell me so?”

“It’s a fact, Philip, my son, and what is more—­but the truth is, that neither he nor I can afford to quarrel with each other.”

“Why, father? what’s that ‘more’ you were going to add?”

“At this present time, Phil, it must bo secret—­but it is arranged between him and me, that he is to succeed Harman in Beleveen; whilst you are to come in for M’Loughlin’s holding.”

“For which I shall have the pleasure,to drink your health to-night, my old boy—­upon my honor and soul you are an excellent old cock, and I’m very proud of you.”

“Go ahead, Phil; no nonsense.  But stay, are those fellows of mine come yet?—­I shall receive their informations, and have Harman in the stone jug before night.  It is a bad case of murder committed upon a man in the execution of the law, do you see, Phil, and consequently I cannot take bail.”

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“No, certainly not, captain—­as Darby says, certainly not, plaise your worship—­ha, ha!”

“Come, Phil, keep quiet; it is now time that operations should seriously commence.  I have gained most of my points, thank—­Valentine M’Clutchy, at all events.  I am head agent; you are my Deputy-master of an Orange Lodge—­a Magistrate, and write J.P. after my name—­Captain and Paymaster in the Castle Cumber cavalry, and you lieutenant; and though last, not least, thanks to my zeal and activity in the Protestant cause, I am at length a member of the Grand Panel of the county.  Phil, my boy, there is nothing like religion and loyalty when well managed, but otherwise—­”

“They are not worth a feather,” replied Phil; “right, captain—­there’s an oracle again.”

“And, Phil, my son; what is there wrong in this?  In fact there is scarcely a better capital to trade on than religion and loyalty.  You know what I mean, Phil;—­not the things, if there be such things, which I must beg leave to doubt; but that principle which causes one man to hate another, in proportion to its influence over him.”

“Ay,” said Phil, “just as you and I, who have not got a touch of religion in our whole composition, have the character of being two of the staunchest Protestants in the county.”

“Yes,” replied the father, “and in this case the fiction is as good and better than the truth.  The fiction, Phil, under which our religion appears is our own interests—­no, I am wrong—­the fiction under which our interest appeal’s is our religion—­that is the way of it; and the truth is, Phil, that ninety-nine men out of every hundred will go ninety-nine miles for their interests, before they will go one for either religion or truth—­that’s the way of it, too.  However, pass that—­now about Poll Doolin and the hint I gave you?”

“Why, you know at that time matters were not ripe for it.  Don’t you remember telling me so yourself?”

“I do, but I speak of your present intentions.”

“Faith, my present intentions would be to marry the girl, Papist though she be, if I could; but as that’s out of the question, I will now follow up your hint.”

“Then you had better see Poll, and go on with it.  Are you aware, besides, that the concern is tottering?”

“The manufactory!  No—­is that possible?”

“It is a fact; but you know not how honest Solomon and I have been at work.  It is tottering, Lieutenant M’Clutchy, and in a short time you will see what you shall see.”

“Well,” said Phil, “so far everything is turning out very fortunate for us—­but I think, Captain, that you are one of those men who are born under what they call a lucky planet;—­eh? old boy?”

“Well, I think so; but in the meantime see Poll Doolin, and after that pay a visit to my father.  The old scoundrel is upon his last legs, and there can be no harm in paying him some attention now.  You are not a favorite of his; so smooth him down as much as you can.  I don’t myself expect that he will remember either of us in his will; but, as he is hasty and capricious, it is difficult to say what effect a favorable impression might have upon him.”

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“Neither are you a favorite with Isabel, or Jezabel, as he calls her.”

“No, I made a bad move there—­but, after all, what did I, or rather, what could I lose by neglecting her?  Did she not succeed in banishing every one of his relatives from about him?  It was neither her interest nor her inclination to keep in with his friends:—­go and see him, at all events; reconnoitre, and report accordingly—­and now if these fellows are come let them be sent in.”

Phil accordingly withdrew to follow up his own speculations, and in a few minutes our friends, who so bravely distinguished themselves in the widow’s cabin, entered the office.  Val, like most men of his class and experience, was forced to undergo strong contests between the vanity occasioned by his success in life, and his own shrewd sense and acute perception of character.  Whenever he could indulge that vanity without allowing its gratification to be perceived by others, he always did so; but if he happened to have a person to deal with, whom he suspected of a sufficiently keen penetration, his own sagacity always checked its display.  No man ever puzzled him so thoroughly as O’Drive, who so varied and timed his flattery, as to keep him in a state of perpetual alternation between a perception of the fellow’s knavery, and a belief in his simplicity of heart.  On one occasion he would exclaim to himself or Phil, “This O’Drive is a desperate knave,—­it’s impossible that he can be honest;” and again, “Well, well; there is too much simplicity there, too much truth unnecessarily told, to allow me to consider that poor devil a rogue—­no, he is honest.”  The consequence was, that Darby flattered him, and he relished it so strongly because he did not imagine it was intentional, that Darby understood his weak points, in that respect, better than any man living.  This, in a country where the people are shrewd observers in general, could scarcely be supposed to escape their observation; nor did it.  Darby’s manner was so naturally imitated by others, that even the keen and vigilant Valentine M’Olutchy was frequently over-reached without being at all conscious of the fact.

When the men of the Castle Cumber corps came in, they found their captain sitting, or rather lolling, in a deep-seated arm-chair, dressed in a morning-gown and red morocco slippers.  He was, or appeared to be, deeply engaged over a pile of papers, parchments, and letters, and for about a minute raised not his head.  At length he drew a long breath, and exclaimed in a soliloquy—­“just so, my lord, just so; every man that scruples to support the Protestant interests will meet no countenance from you;—­’nor shall he, Mr. M’Clutchy, from you, as my representative,’ you add—­’and I beg you’”—­he went on to road a few lines further—­“’to transmit me the names and capacities of all those who are duly active on my property in suppressing disturbance, convicting criminals, and preserving the peace; especially

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those who are remarkable for loyal and constitutional principles; such are the men we will cherish, such are the men we must and ought to serve.’  It is very true, my lord, it is very true indeed, and—­oh! my friends, I beg your pardon!  I hadn’t noticed you—­oh, dear me! how is this? why I didn’t imagine you had been so sadly abused as all this comes to—­this is dreadful, and all in resisting the king’s warrant against the murderer.  But how did it happen that this Harman murdered our poor friend Harpur?”

“Harpur is done for, captain, sure enough; there’s no doubt of that.”

“Well, it’s one comfort that we live in a country where there is justice, my friends.  Of course you will prosecute him for this diabolical murder; I sent for you to receive your informations, and we shall lodge him in gaol before night.”

“I would rather prosecute that Blackguard Rimon-a-hattha,” said a man, whose head was awfully swollen, and bound up with a handkerchief, “Rimon, Captain, is the greatest rascal of the two—­he is, by, Japurs.”

“Yes, but is he not an idiot, Johnston?  In point of law he is only a fiction, and cannot be prosecuted.”

“Fiction, Captain!  Sowl, I don’t know what you call a fiction—­but if I’m guessin’ properly, hell to the much of it was in his blows—­look at how my head is, and I wish you could see my ribs, plase your worship.”

“Well but let us come to the most important matter first—­and before I go further, my friends and brothers, I would just throw out for your satisfaction, a few observations that I wish to impress upon you.  Recollect that in this business, and in every business like it, you must have the pleasure at least of reflecting that you have now a magistrate who will see that all due care is taken of your interests—­who will accompany your proceedings step by step, and see that all is as it ought to be.  That is not partiality, my dear friends; that is not favor nor affection, nor leaning to you; no, nor—­ha, ha, ha, leaning from you, either, my friends.”

“Long life to your worship!  Long life to you, Captain!  You’re the right sort, and no mistake.”

“M’Dowel, what detained you from your lodge on Thursday night.”

“I was buying a springer in Hush fair, and didn’t get home in time, your worship.”

“Well, M’Dowel, mark-me,—­I neither can, nor will, overlook neglect in these matters.  The man that neglects them wilfully, is a man I won’t depend upon—­and two of your neighbors were absent from parade on Wednesday week.  Now, it’s really too bad to expect that I, or any other gentleman in the country, will exert ourselves so strenuously to sustain and extend our own principles, or! to speak plainly, to keep them up—­to maintain our ascendancy,—­if we cannot reckon upon the earnest and cordial support of those for whose sake we take all this trouble—­upon my honor it’s a shame.”

“It is a shame, Captain, and I say here’s one,” placing his hand upon his heart, “of the right kidney.  By the holy William, there is.”

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“We’re all so, your worship,” replied Sharpe, “and sure every one knows it—­but, plaise your honor, what’s to be done about Harman?”

“Why, prosecute him for the murder of course.”

“But then,” said one of them, “sure Harman didn’t murder him, Captain—­among ourselves, it was all accident.”

M’Clutchy seemed surprised at this, and after hearing their individual opinions, which indeed, conflicted very much, some positively asserting that he did, and others that he did not, murder the man, he began to view the matter in a somewhat different and more cautious light.  He mused for some time; however, and after a second and more deliberate investigation, finding that there were two for the murder and only one against it, he at length took their informations, resolving to bring the matter to trial at all hazards.  The warrant for Harmon’s apprehension was accordingly issued, and entrusted to a dozen of the most resolute fellows in his corps; who so far enabled our magistrate to fulfil his intention, that they lodged his enemy in the county prison that very night.

The next morning, when reading the papers, our Captain was not a little surprised at reading in one of them an advertisement to the following effect: 

“To the public—­found, in the office of Mr. Solomon M’Slime, a Bank of Ireland Note, of large amount.  The person losing it may have it by giving a proper description of same, and paying the expenses of this advertisement.  N. B.—­It is expected, as the loser of the note must be in affluent circumstances, that he will, from principles of Christian sympathy, contribute, or enable some Christian friend to contribute, a moderate donation to some of our greatest public charities.  Thus will that which at the first view appears to be serious calamity, be made, under Him, a blessing and a consolation, not only to the wealthy individual who lost the money, but to some of our destitute fellow creatures.  This, however, is not named as a condition, but merely as a suggestion offered from motives of benignity and duty.

“Also, just published, The Religious Attorney; being a reconcilement between Honesty and Law; or a blessed Union between Light and Darkness.  By S. M’S.  Tenth Thousand.

“Also, in the Press, and will soon be published, done up neatly in foolscap, and rogue’s binding for cheapness, by the same author, The Converted Bailiff; being designed as a companion to The Religious Attorney.  These productions need not be sought for with any of the profane booksellers of the city; but only at the Religious Depositories, or at those godly establishments in Sackville street and College green.”

This, however, was not all.  In a different column appeared the following; which, however, did not surprise M’Clutchy: 

     “Glorious Triumph of Religious Truth.

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“In another part of our paper, our readers will perceive in an advertisement, an additional proof, if such were necessary, of the strong integrity of that ornament of his profession, both as an Attorney and Christian, Mr. Solomon M’Slime.  This gentleman, whilst he devotes himself, with a pure and guileless heart, to the extensive practice which his high principles and great skill have gained him in his profession, does not neglect the still higher and more important interests of himself and his fellow creatures.  It is a gracious thing to know that a spirit of deep and earnest inquiry is now abroad, by which hundreds are, under God, brought from darkness to light—­from the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity, out into the freedom of perfect day.  Verily there is a new Reformation abroad—­the strongholds of Popery are fast falling one after another.  In the neighborhood of Mount-starve-’em, the spirit has been poured out most abundantly; and this manifestation is the more gracious, when we reflect that the dreadful famine which now prevails throughout the country, has been made (always under Him) the precious but trying means of bringing the poor benighted creatures to taste the fruits of a better faith.  Nothing, indeed, can equal the bounty of that excellent nobleman, Lord------, who supplies beef and blankets—­Bibles and bread—­to those who may be likened to the multitude that were fed so miraculously in the wilderness—­that is to say, who followed the good shepherd for his doctrine, and were filled with bread.  Mr. M’Slime, who has within his own humble sphere not been inactive, can boast at least of having plucked one brand out of the burning, in the person of Darby O’Drive, the respectable bailiff of Valentine M’Clutchy, Esq., the benevolent agent of the Castle Cumber estate—­to which Mr. M’Slime himself is law agent.  It is understood that on next Sabbath (D.V.) Mr. O’Drive will make a public profession of his faith—­or, in other words, “that he will recant the errors of Popery, and embrace those of Protestantism."* The merit of his conversion is due—­but merit there is none—­to Mr. M’Slime, or rather to his two very popular and searching tracts, called, ‘Spiritual Food for Babes of Grace,’ and ‘The Religious Attorney,’ which he had placed for perusal in Mr. O’Drive’s hands.  Mr. O’Drive now declares himself a Babe of Grace, and free from the bonds of sin; or, as he more simply, but truthfully and characteristically expresses it—­a beautiful specimen indeed of his simplicity of views—­’he is replevined from the pound of human fraility—­no longer likely to be brought to the devil’s auction, or knocked down to Satan as a bad bargain.’—­For ourselves, we cannot help thinking that this undoubted triumph of religious truth, in the person of Darby O’Drive, is as creditable to the zeal of Mr. M’Slime, as it is to his sincerity.  Encouraged by this great success, Mr. M’Slime, seconded by several of our leading controversialists, has succeeded

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in getting up a polemical discussion, on the merits of the Protestant and Popish creeds.  The particulars have not been decided upon, but they shall probably appear in an early number of our paper.  In the meantime we are authorized by Mr. Darby O’Drive to issue a formal challenge to any Popish and idolatrous bailiff in Ireland, to discuss with him the relative powers, warrants, processes, triumphs, conflagrations, and executions of their resspective churches.”

     * This expression has been attributed to Faulkner, the
     printer of Swift’s works; but it is much more likely that it
     belongs to the Dean himself.

He had scarcely finished this characteristic paragraph, when O’Drive’s knock, as usual, was heard, and in a few minutes the redoubted champion and challenger entered.  There was a knavish demureness about him, and a kind of comic solemnity in his small, cunning gray eye, that no painter could copy.

“Why, you scoundrel,” said Val, “you’re overdoing the thing altogether; is it possible that M’Slime is such a spooney as not to see through you?”

“Ah, Captain, you don’t make any allowance for my simplicity; sure you know, sir, I must grow young and innocent, if I’m to become a babe of grace, your worship.”

“But what’s the meaning of all this work about discussions and such stuff?”

“Faith, sir, it’s all thrue enough at any rate; we’re to have a religious field day here in the Sessions house of Castle Cumber; the whole thing is regulated—­the seconds, and bottle houlders, and all is appointed.  There’s the Rev. Christopher Gammon, Rev. Vesuvius M’Slug, who’s powerful against Popery, the Rev. Bernard Brimstone, and the Rev. Phineas Lucre, with many more on the side of truth.  On that of Popery and falsehood there’s the Rev. Father M’Stake, the Rev. Father O’Flary, the Rev. Father M’Fire, and the Rev. Nicholas O’Scorch, D.D.  Dr. Sombre is to be second on our side; and Father M’Fud on the part of Popery and idolatry.”

“And when is this precious spouting match to take place, you rascal?”

“Why, sir, on Monday week; and on next Sunday, sir, I’m to read my rekintation, plaise God.”

“But I didn’t intend that you should go to such lengths as that—­however, that’s your own affair.”

“But, Captain ahagur, sure it’s on your account I’m doin’ it—­won’t it enable me to get the blind side of him about one or two tilings we want to come at.”

“Indeed, I believe certainly, that if he has a blind side at all, it is his own hypocrisy.”

“Be my soul, and it’ll go hard or we’ll worm out the sacret we want.  There is one tiling I’m sartin of, he thinks, now that I’m turnin’ by the way, that I’m ready to desart and desave you, Captain, an’ indeed he says many things of you that he ought not to’ say.”

“Let us hear them.”

“Why, sir, he said the other day—­but sorra one o’ me likes to be repeatin’ these things.”

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“Come, come, you rascal, out with it.”

“He said, sir, that he feared the divil had a hard howlt o you—­that was the day I brought him the last letter, sir—­that your heart, Captain, was full o’ desate, and damnably wicked, plase your worship, and that if you didn’t improve your morals you’d go where there is—­something about gnashing of teeth, your honor.”

“He’s a double distilled scoundrel,” replied Val, bitterly, “and although I know him well, I am determined still to know him better.”

“Double distilled!—­ay, faith, rectified many degrees above proof; but never mind; if I don’t put a spoke in his wheel, I’m not here.”

“Well, never mind now, either—­give the hypocritical little scoundrel this letter.”

“I will, and thank you, Captain!  God bless your honor, and grant you ‘long to reign over us, happy and glorious, God save the king! armin.’  You see, captain, I’ve the right strain of loyalty in me, any how, ha, ha, ha!  Throth, if I ever change in airnest, it isn’t among the yallow bellies I’ll go; but into his majesty’s own church, Captain Val—­the brave church where they have the bells, and the big blessed lookin’ bishops, and their organs and coaches; aye, faith, and where everything is dacent and jintlemanly.  Sure blood alive, Captain Val, beggin’ your pardon, what’s the use of a religion if it’s not respectable and ginteel?  What signifies a ministher of any religion, if he hasn’t a fat purse in his pocket, and a good round belly before him, for that shows, plaise your worship, that religion is more than a name, any how; an’ upon my conscience—­oh, holy Moses, Captain Val, if M’Slime was to hear me swearin’ this way!  God pardon me! how-and-ever, but upon my conscience, it isn’t the religion that keeps a man poor, but the religion that puts the flesh on his bones, and keeps it there, that is the right one—­aye, and not only that, but that keeps a good coat on his back, your honor, and a good pair of breeches to his posterals—­for which raison, whenever I do sariously turn it’ll be—­but you may guess—­it’ll be to the only true and loyal church;—­for when a man can get both fat, and loyal, and religious, all at one move, he’s a confounded fool that won’t become religious.”

This certainly, though not intended for it, was a true and bitter comment upon the principles of such men as M’Clutchy, who considered a profane and licentious attachment to a mere Establishment as a high duty, not because that establishment was the exponent of divine truth, but of a mere political symbol, adopted by subordinate and secular aids, to bind men of the same principles together.

“Begone, you rascal, and confound your dissertation.  Go and deliver the letter, as I desired you, and bring me an answer.”

“Sartinly, Captain, and will have an eye about me, into the bargain.  How is Captain Phil, sir, before I go?”

M’Clutchy made a motion of indignation, but could not, in the meantime, altogether repress a smile; and Darby, taking his hat with a kind of shrewd and confidential grin, ran out of the office.

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Our narrative now passes to the house of Poll Doolin, which was situated in a row of cottages towards the north side of Castle Cumber.  Her son Raymond and she were its only inmates, and the former was in the act of replacing a hat among the tria juncta in uno, which he always wore.

“Raymond,” said his mother, “now that you’ve got your supper, you must keep house till I come back.”

“Must I indeed?—–­why must I? answer me that, there now, that’s one.”

“Becase I’m goin’ out on business.”

“What business?—­where to?—­what brought Phil M’Clutchy here yestherday?—­tell me that—­eh?”

“Oh, I couldn’t tell you that, Raymond.”

“Don’t do anything for Phil, he’s Val’s son, that keeps the blood-hounds.  Ah, poor Brian, and his white head—­no’, he’ll never waken—­never waken—­an’ what has she now to look at!  Mother, I’d give all the cocks I ever had to see him and his white head in his mother’s arms again—­God’s curse on Val!  God’s curse on him!  I hate him—­I hate Phil—­I hate all of them—­don’t mother; do nothing for them.”

“You foolish boy, what do you know about it?—­keep the house till I come back, and I’ll bring you a pennyworth of tobaccy?”

“But you will go?” said Raymond.

“I must, you fool.”

“Very well, then, take it out o’ that—­there now, that’s one.”

It was now drawing on towards dusk, and Poll, assuming her black bonnet, and throwing her black cloak about her shoulders, sallied out with that furtive air which always accompanies one who is conscious of something that requires concealment.  Her motions always were rapid, but on this occasion she walked like one whose mind brooded lover difficulties—­sometimes she went very quick, then slackened her pace, and once or twice stood still, musing with her right hand to her chin.  At length she reached the residence of Brian M’Loughlin, just after night had set it—­she entered not, but glided about the house, waited, watched, listened, and peeped into the house, very like a thief that was setting the premises.  Ultimately she took her stand at a particular window in the rear of the building, where she kept watch with great patience, though for what purpose it would appear very difficult to guess.  Patience, however, is often rewarded, and it was so in the case before us.  After about half an hour a light fell through the glass, and Poll, availing herself of the opportunity, tapped gently:  at first it was not noticed, and she tapped again, somewhat louder; this was successful—­a gentle voice inquired in tones more of surprise than alarm, “who is there, and what is your business!”

“A friend,” said Poll.

“Poll Doolin!”

“The same, and I’m here on a case of life and death.  Could you come out for a start—­three minutes will do.”

“Certainly not—­you trifled unnecessarily with my feelings before—­I will have no more mysteries.  I can raise the window, however, and anything you have to say can be said where we stand.”  She raised the sash as she spoke.  “Now,” said she “what is your business, Poll?”

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“Life and death, as I said,” replied Poll “Do you not know that Mr. Harman is to be tried for murder, and that the assizes will open in a few days?”

“Unfortunately I do,” replied Mary, sighing deeply, “but there can be no doubt of his acquittal.  Father Roche has been here, who was present, and told us how the whole circumstance occurred.”

“I don’t doubt that,” said Poll, “but this I tell you, and this you may rely on, that hang he will, in spite of fate; he’s doomed.”

“Great God!” exclaimed the now terrified girl, “you chill the blood in my veins—­doomed!—­what do you mean, Poll?”

“M’Clutchy will have him hanged in spite of all opposition—­you know his power now—­he can carry everything his own way.”

“I know,” replied the other, “that his influence is unfortunately great, no doubt, and cruelly is it exercised; but still, I don’t know that he can carry everything his own way.”

“Do you know what packing a jury means?”

“Alas!” replied Mary, starting, and getting pale, “I do indeed, Poll.  I have heard of it too frequently.”

“What, then, has the Vulture, the blood-hound, to do, but to get twelve Orangemen upon the jury, and the work is done?”

The unhappy girl burst into tears, and wrung her hands, for, however questionable the veracity of her present informant, she knew, from the unfortunate circumstances of the country, that such corrupt influences had too frequently been exerted.

“Don’t you know,” added Poll, “that the thing can be done?  Isn’t the sheriff himself an Orangeman—­isn’t the sub-sheriff an Orangeman—­isn’t the grand jury Orange, aren’t they all Orange through other?”

“I believe so, indeed,” said Mary, still weeping bitterly, “and there is, I fear, little or no hope.”

“Well, but,” replied Poll, “what if I could give you hope?”

“You, Poll, what can you mean?  You!”

“Yes, me,” said Poll, “poor as I stand here now.”

“Well, but how?”

“Through them that can turn old Val the Vulture round their finger.  What do you think brought me here—­or who do you think sent me?  Don’t you know that I have no raison to like a bone in the skin of one o’ your family, and that it’s more, of coorse, to plaise others than myself that I’m here; but, over and above that, you, Miss M’Loughlin, never offended or injured me, and I’m willin’ to sarve you in this business, if you will sarve yourself.”

“But, how—­but, how?” replied the distracted girl, “only tell me how?”

“There is one, and only one, that can twist Val round his finger, and in this same business is willing to do so—­and that one is his own son, Phil.”

Mary stood for a moment without even breathing; indeed, she exhibited strong symptoms of disgust at his very name.

“He is a person I detest,” she replied, “beyond any human creature.”

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“That may be,” said Poll, “but still he can save the man that is to be your husband; and that’s what you ought to think of—­the time is short now, and the loss of a day may ruin all.  Listen Miss M’Loughlin:—­Mr. Phil desired me to say to you, that if you will allow him a few minutes’ conversation with you behind the garden, about dusk or a little after it, he’ll satisfy you that he can and will save him—­but it must be on the condition of seeing you, as I say.”

“Let him be generous,” she replied, “and impose no such condition.”

“He won’t interfare on any other terms,” replied Poll; “he knows, it seems, that you have an unfavorable opinion of him, and he wishes to prove to you that he doesn’t desarve it.”

Mary paused for some time, and appeared very much distressed.  I fear, thought she, it is selfish in me to think of my own feelings, or to have a moment’s hesitation in sacrificing them to his safety.  It is certainly a disgusting task to meet this man; but what ought I not to do, consistent with conscious rectitude of motive, to save my dear Harman’s life, for I fear the circumstances come to that.

“Well, then, Poll, if I meet this man, mark me, it is solely for the purpose of striving to save Mr. Harman’s life; and observe, because Mr. M’Clutchy is ungenerous enough to make my meeting him the condition of his interference.”

“That,” said Poll, “is for yourself to consider; but surely you would be a strange girl, if you refused to meet him for such a purpose.  That would be a quare way of showing your love to Mr. Harman.”

“I shall meet him, then,” said Mary, “at the stile behind the garden; and may God direct and protect me in what I purpose!”

Poll gave no amen, to this, as it might be supposed she would have done, but simply said—­

“I’m glad, Miss M’Loughlin, that you’re doin’ what you are doin’.  It’ll be a comfort maybe to yourself to reflect on it hereafther.  Good night, Miss.”

Mary bade her good night, and after closing the shutters of her room which she had come to do, retired; and with an anxious heart returned to the parlor.

M’Loughlin’s family consisted of three sons and but one daughter, Mary, with whom our readers are already acquainted.  The eldest, James, was a fine young man of twenty-three; the second, Tom, was younger than Mary, who then was entering her twenty-first; and the youngest, called Brian, after his father, was only eighteen.  The honest fellow’s brow was clouded with a deep expression of melancholy, and he sat for some time silent after Mary’s return to the parlor.  At length he said in a kind of soliloquy—­

“I wish, Raymond-na-hattha, you had been behind the Slievbeen Mountains that bitter morning you came for James Harman!”

“If he had,” said Tom, “poor James wouldn’t be where he is to-night.”

“But I hope, father,” said Mary, in a voice which though it trembled a little, yet expressed a certain portion of confidence—­“I hope as it was an accident, that there will not be any serious risk.”

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“I would be sorry to take any hope out of your heart that’s in it, Mary; but, still, I can’t forget that Val the Vulture’s his bitterest enemy—­and we all know what he’s capable of doing.  His son, too, graceful Phil, is still worse against him than the father, especially ever since Harman pulled his nose for what he said of Mary here.  Did I ever mention it to you?”

“No, sir,” replied Mary, coloring without exactly knowing why, “you never did.”

“I was present,” said young Brian, “but it wasn’t so much for what he said, for he got afraid, but the way he looked.”

“The scoundrel,” said James, indignantly, “well Brian—­”

“’Twas at the Ball Alley,” proceeded the young fellow, “in Castle Cumber; Mary was passing homewards, and Phil was speaking to long Tom Sharpe, father to one of the blood-hounds.  ‘That’s a purty girl,’ said Sharpe, ‘who is she?’ ‘Oh,’ says Phil, ’an acquaintance of mine—­but I can say no more honor bright,’ and he winked one of his squinting eyes as he spoke.  James Harman who was standing behind him stepped forward, ‘but I can say more,’ said he, ’she’s daughter to Brian M’Loughlin, and no acquaintance of yours—­and what is more, never will be; ay, and what is more,’ said James, ‘here’s a proof of it;’ and as he spoke he pulled Phil’s proboscis, and then wiped his fingers in his purty face.  ’Now, you cowardly scoundrel,’ he added, ’let that teach you not to speak of any respectable female in such a tone, or to claim an acquaintance where you have it not.’”

“Never mind, my good fellow,” said Phil, “I’ll make you smoke for this.”

“You know where I’m to be found,” said James, “and your remedy too; but you haven’t the spirit to take it like a man—­and so I leave you with the white feather in your cap.”

This anecdote for various reasons distressed Mary beyond relief.  It increased her detestation of young M’Clutchy to the highest possible pitch, and rendered the very thought of him doubly odious to her heart.  Her understanding became bewildered, and for a while she knew not what she said or did.  Taking a candle and attempting to conceal her agitation, she withdrew again to her own room, where she sat for nearly half an hour endeavoring to shape her tumultuous thoughts into something of clearness and order.

M’Loughlin’s brow, however, after her departure, still remained clouded.  “Misfortunes they say,” said he, “never come single; here is our lease out, and we will not get a renewal notwithstanding the fine we offered—­and to mend the matter some good friend has spread a report that the firm of M’Loughlin and Harman is unsafe.  Our creditors are coming down upon us fast—­but it’s the way of the world, every one striving to keep himself safe.  If these men were not set upon us by some coward in the dark there would be neither loss nor risk to them nor to us; but if they press on us out of the usual course, I fear we won’t be able to stand it.  Then poor Harman, too! heighonee!”

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After some further conversation, in which it was clear that M’Clutchy’s and M’Slime’s manoeuvres had begun to develop themselves, Mary rejoined them.  Her countenance on her return was evidently more composed, and impressed with a more decided, perhaps we should say, determined character.  She had made her mind up.  M’Clutchy, junior, was no doubt one of the most detastable of men, but as she knew that she hated him, and felt a perfect consciousness of all that was truthful, and pure, and cautious in herself, she came once more to the resolution of sacrificing her own disgust to the noble object of saving her lover.  Besides, it was by no means an unreasonable hope on her part; for such was the state of party and political feeling at the time, that wiser and more experienced heads would have calculated rightly, and calculated as she did.

“Father,” said she, on returning to the parlor, “don’t be cast down too much about Harman—­I think, considering everything, that his case is far from being hopeless.  There is Father Roche—­as for poor Mary O’Regan, in consequence of her insanity, she unfortunately can be of no use—­and one of the blood-hounds are against the two others.  Now, two to two, is surely strong evidence in his favor.”

She did not, however, make the slightest allusion to the grounds on which she actually did rest her hope—­that is to say, on Phil’s influence over his father.

M’Loughlin was glad to see that her spirits were so much more improved than they had been; and so far from uttering anything calculated, to depress them, he appeared to feel much more easy in his mind than before—­and, perhaps, actually did so.

“Well,” said he to his wife, who was a woman of few words but deep feeling; “Kathleen, will you see that we get a glass of punch—­the boys and I; there can be no harm surely in drinking a ------; but it’s time enough to drink it when we see the liquor before us.  Mary, avourneen, as you are activer than your mother, will you undertake that duty?—­do, avillish machree.”

In a few minutes Mary quietly but actively had the decanter, sugar, and hot water before them; and Brian, having mixed a tumbler for himself, and shoved the materials over to his two eldest boys, resumed the conversation.

“Come, boys; are you mixed?”

“All ready, sir.”

“Well, here’s that James Harman may triumph over his enemies!”

This was drank, we need not say, with an anxious and sincere heart.

“Do you know now,” said M’Loughlin, “that I think there’s a very great difference between little M’Slime, and that Vulture of hell, M’Clutchy.  The little fellow came riding past to-day, and seeing me in the field, he beckoned to me:—­

“‘I hope,’ says he, ’that certain reports, which I was sorry to hear of, are unfounded?’

“‘What reports, Mr. M’Slime?’ says I to him.

“‘Why,’ said he, ’it is not out of idle curiosity that I make the inquiry, but I trust from better and more Christian motives;’ and, upon my conscience, the little fellow turned up his eyes towards heaven, in a way that would shame Father Roche himself.  Faith, if there wasn’t truth there, I don’t know where you could get it.  ‘The reports I speak of,’ says he, ‘touch the solvency of your firm.’

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“‘Able to pay fifty shillings in a pound,’ said I, not willing to encourage the outcry.

“‘I’m delighted to hear it,’ says generous little Solomon; ’but all I have to say is, that if it had been otherwise, or should it actually be otherwise, so far as a few hundred pounds go, you may draw upon a man—­a sinner—­a frail mortal and an unworthy—­named Solomon M’Slime.  This,’ he went on, ’is not mere worldly friendship, Mr. M’Loughlin, that promises much until the necessity arrives, and then do all such promises flee as it were into the wilderness.  No, my friend,’ says the warm-hearted little saint, ’no my friend, these offers are founded not on my own strength, so to say, but upon those blessed precepts, Mr. M’Loughlin, which teach us to love our neighbors as ourselves—­and to do unto others even as we wish they should do unto us.’  He squeezed my hand, and whispered in my ear—­’As far as three hundred pounds go, should you require it, rely on me; but harkee,’ says he, ’and now,’—­well, here’s his health—­’and now,’ says he, ’and now,’—­oh!  I knew he was in earnest—­’and now,’ says he, ’one word with you—­I trust—­I hope, I may say, that I am a Christian man, who would not speak aught against my neighbor; but this, out of a principle of Christian kindness, I will say;—­beware of Valentine M’Clutchy.  It is known there!’ said he, pointing his finger, and turning up his eyes to heaven—­’it is known there from what motives I speak this.  I am glad I saw thee—­peace be with thee—­farewell, and do not despise or overlook my services, or my poor sinful offers.’”

“Now,” said the simple-minded but upright and unsuspicious man, “I do say that was no every-day offer.  I would be glad to hear M’Clutchy make such an offer to any man—­for which reason here’s little Solomon’s health once more, and long life to him!”

CHAPTER X.—­A Dutiful Grandson and a Respectable Grandmother

—­Military Dialogue —­Disobedience of Orders—­Solomon’s Candor—­A Confidential Communication—­Solomon Dances the Swaggering jig—­Honest Correspondence—­Darby’s Motion of Spiritual Things—­Two Religions Better than One—­Darby’s Love of Truth.

We believe our readers may understand, that although we have ourselves taken the liberty of insinuating that little Solomon, as M’Loughlin called him, was not precisely—­but we beg pardon, it is time enough to speak of that yet.  All we have to say in the mean time is, that Solomon’s character, up to the period we speak of, was not merely spotless, but a burning and a shining light in the eyes of all the saints and sinners of the religious world, not only in Castle Cumber, but in the metropolis itself.  Solomon was an Elder of his congregation, in which Sabbath after Sabbath he took his usual prominent part as collector—­raised the psalms—­sang loudest—­and whenever the minister alluded to the mercy that was extended to sinners, Solomon’s groan of humility—­of sympathy with the

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frail, and of despair for the impenitent; his groan, we say, under these varied intimations of Gospel truth, was more than a sermon in itself.  It not only proclaimed to the whole congregation that he was a sinner, but that he felt for sinners—­rejoiced in their repentance, which he often did in a nondescript scream, between a groan and a cackle of holy joy, that alarmed the congregation; but also wept for their hardness of heart, when he imagined that it was likely to terminate in final reprobation, with such a pathetic fervency, that on many such occasions some of those who sat beside him were obliged to whisper—­“Brother M’Slime, you are too much overcome—­too piously excited—­do not allow yourself to exhibit such an excess of Christian sympathy, or there will be many instances among the weaker vessels of relapses and backslidings, from not understanding that it is more for others thou art feeling than for thyself.”

Solomon then took his hands from before his face, wiped his eyes with his handkerchief on which they had been embedded, and with a serene and rather heavenly countenance looked up to the preacher, then closing his eyes as if in a state of ethereal enjoyment, he clasped his hands with a sweet smile, twirling his thumbs and bowing his head, as the speaker closed every paragraph of the discourse.

These observations account very plainly for the opinions touching Solomon which were expressed by M’Loughlin.  Solomon was at this time an unadulterated saint—­a professor—­in fact one of the elect who had cast his anchor sure.  But as the proverb gays, time will tell.

That night M’Loughlin and his family retired to bed for the first time overshadowed, as it were, by a gloomy presentiment of some change, which disturbed and depressed their hearts.  They slept, however, in peace and tranquillity, free from those snake-like pangs which coil themselves around guilt, and deaden its tendencies to remorse, whilst they envenom its baser and blacker purposes.

M’Slime himself at this crisis was beginning privately to feel some of the very natural consequences of his own oft acknowledged frailty.  Phil, who had just left Constitution Cottage a few minutes before Darby’s arrival, had not seen him that morning.  The day before he had called upon his grandfather, who told him out of the pallor window to “go to h—–­; you may call tomorrow, you cowardly whelp, if you wish to see me—­but in the meantime,” he added as before, “go where I desired you.”

Phil, who possessed a great deal of his father’s selfishness and also of his low cunning, but none at all of his ability, turned back indignantly and rode home again.  He had not passed more than about a hundred yards from the avenue out into the highway, when he met Sharpe, one of the heroes of the cabin.

We shall not detail their conversation, which, of course, embraced many of the circumstances connected with their duties, excepting a few interjectional imprecations which Phil in an occasional parenthesis dutifully bestowed upon his grandfather.

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“So, Sharpe, the fool Rimon made such a devil of a fight (the infernal old scoundrel)—­and took the gun.”

“Why, Captain Phil, if he hasn’t the strength of ten men, I’ll never manoeuvre on parade while I live—­he’s a bloody rascal.”

“(A double distilled old scoundrel, and I wish the devil had him,)—­he’s a bad bird, Sharpe, fool and all as he is, there’s no doubt of that.  What did the priest do?”

“Why, your honor, I can’t say that he took much part in it, barrin’ once that he went between us and the woman.”

“He had no right to do that—­(the blaspheming old vagabond,)—­none at all, Sharpe, and he ought to be prosecuted.”

“He ought, Captain, and will, I hope.”

“But then, Shaj-pe, if we swing Harman it will be enough, for Harman—­(he’ll fiz for it, and that soon I hope)—­is another bad bird.”

“Oh, devil a worse, Captain, but even if he escapes us now, we’ll manage him yet.”

They now came to a turn in the road, and found themselves at a bridge, a little beyond which two roads met.  On approaching, they observed an old woman sitting on a large stone that lay a little beyond the arch.  She was meagrely and poorly dressed, had no cap on, her gray locks were only bound by a red ribbon that encircled her head, but did not confine her hair, which floated in large masses about her shoulders, a circumstance that added to the startling vehemence of character that appeared in her face, and gave to her whole person an expression which could not be overlooked.  When they had come up to where she sat, and were about to pass without further notice, she started up, and with steps surprisingly rapid, and full of energy, seized upon.  Phil’s bridle.

“Well!” she exclaimed, “I saw you going, and I see you coming, but you cannot tell me that he is dead.  No, the death damp of his blaspheming carcase is not yet on the air, because if it was,” and she turned her nose against the wind, like a hound, “I would snuff it.  No, no; he is not gone, but he will soon go, and what a catalogue of crimes will follow after him!  The man’s conscience is a gaol where every thought and wish of his guilty life and godless heart is a felon; and the blackest calendar that ever was spread before God was his.  Oh!  I wonder do the chains in his conscience rattle? they do, but his ears are deaf, and he doesn’t hear them; but he will, and feel them too, yet.”

Phil, who had got alarmed at the extraordinary energy of her manner, as well as of her language, said, “what do you want, and who are you speaking of?”

“Who am I speaking of? who should I be speaking of but of old Deaker, the blasphemer?—­and who am I speaking to but the son of the ungodly villain who threatened to horsewhip the mother that bore him.  Do you know me now?”

“Let go my bridle,” exclaimed Phil, “let go my bridle, you old faggot, or upon my honor and soul I’ll give you a cut of my whip.”

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“No,” she replied, no whit daunted, “no, I’m near my eightieth year.  I’m old, and wrinkled, and gray—­my memory forgets everything now but my own crimes, and the crimes of those that are still worse than myself—­old I am, and wicked, and unrepenting—­but I shall yet live to pour the curses that rise out of an ill-spent life into his dying oar, until his very soul will feel the scorches of perdition before its everlasting tortures come upon it in hell.  I am old,” she proceeded, “but I will yet live to see the son that cursed his mother, and threatened to raise his sacrilegious hand against her that bore him, laid down like a tree, rooted up and lopped—­lying like a rotten log, without sap, without strength, and only fit to be cut up and cast into the fire.  I am old,” she replied, “but I shall live to see out the guilty race of you all.”

“Go to the devil, you croaking old vagabond,” exclaimed Phil, raising his whip, and letting it fall upon her almost naked shoulders, with a force as unmanly, as it was cruel, and impious, and shocking.

She uttered a scream of anguish, and writhed several times, until her eyes became filled with tears.  “My cup is not full yet,” she exclaimed, sobbing, “neither is yours, but it soon will be, you knew me well when you gave that blow; but go now, and see how you’ll prosper after it.”

Sharpe, even Sharpe, felt shocked at the cowardly spirit which could inflict such an outrage upon old age, under any circumstances; but much less under those which even he understood so well.

“Captain,” said he, “if it was only for the credit of the Castle Cumber cavalry, I’m sorry that you gave that blow; those men on the other side of the road there were looking at you, and you may take my word it will spread.”

“How dare you speak to me in that style?” asked Phil in a rage, and availing himself of his authority over him, “what is it your business, Sharpe?  Sharpe, you’re a scoundrel, for speaking to me in this style—­damn my honor and blood, but you are.  What do you know about that old vagabond?”

“Captain,” said Sharpe, who was a sturdy fellow in his way, “I’m no scoundrel; and I do know that you have just horsewhipped your notorious ould grandmother.”

“Fall back,” said Phil, “and consider yourself arrested.”

“Arrest and be hanged,” replied Sharpe, “I don’t care a fig about you—­I was in Deaker’s corps this many a year, and if you attempt to come the officer over me, let me tell you you’re mistaken.  We’re not on duty now, my buck, and you have no more authority over me than you have over the devil—­me a scoundrel! my good fellow, I know who is the scoundrel.”

“My good fellow!  Damn my honor and blood, do you apply that to me?”

“No, I don’t,” said Sharpe, “for you’re a cursed bad fellow, and no gentleman—­didn’t Harman pull your nose in Castle Cumber, and you wanted the courage then that you had for your ould grandmother—­me, a scoundrel!”

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“I’ll tell you what, Sharpe; is this respect, sir, to your commanding officer?  Sharpe I’ll mark you out for this.”

“Don’t you know,” replied Sharpe, “that two of us c&n play at that game; you had better keep yourself quiet, if you’re wise—­a man that’s in the habit of getting his nose pulled should be very inoffensive.”

“Very well,” said gallant Phil, “I’ll say no more, but—­” He then put spurs to handsome Harry, and rode off, full of vengeance against Sharpe, and of indignation at the contumelious reception he experienced at the hands of his grandfather.

Val’s letter to M’Slime was, as our readers know, anything but an index to the state of regard in which he held that worthy gentleman.  As we said, however, that ground was beginning to break a little under his feet, in spite of all his unction and Christian charity, we shall, while Darby is on his way to deliver his letter, take that opportunity of detailing a conversation between honest Solomon and Poll Doolin, upon one or two topics connected with our tale.

“Sam,” said Solomon to his clerk, “you were not present with us at prayer this morning!  You know we do not join in family worship until you come; and it is but our duty to take an interest in your spiritual welfare.  In the meantime, I should regret, for your own sake, that anything in the shape of a falling away from your opportunities should appear in you.  I speak now as your friend, Sam, not as your master—­nay, rather as your brother, Sam—­as a man who is not without his own lapses and infirmities, but who still trusts—­though not by his own strength—­that he may be looked upon, in some faint degree, as an example of what a man, wrestling with the cares and trials of life, ought at, least, to strive to be.  To Him be the praise!”

“I certainly overslept myself this morning, sir—­that is the truth.”

“Yes, Sam; sloth is one of the disguises under which the enemy often assails and overcomes us.  But to business, Sam.  There is an old woman in Castle Cumber, whose name I scarcely remember.  She goes dressed in faded black, and has a son, to whom, for wise purposes of course, it pleased Him to deny a full measure of ordinary sense?”

“Poll Doolin, sir, the old child-cadger, and her foolish son, Raymond of the hats.”

“Don’t say foolish, Sam; don’t say foolish—­we know not well what the true difference between wisdom and folly is, nor how much wisdom is manifested in the peculiar state of this person.  We know not, indeed, whether what we blindly, perhaps, term folly, may not be a gift to be thankful for.  You know the Word says, that the wisdom of man is foolishness before God.  Our duty therefore is, to be thankful and humble.”

“Well, sir; but about Poll Doolin, the child-cadger?”

“Child-cadger! that is a term I don’t understand, Sam.”

“Why, sir, it means a woman who carries—­”

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“Sam, hold; if it be associated with human frailty, it is best left unspoken.  The woman, however, be she what she may—­and I know not what she is—­but that she is a responsible being—­a partaker of our common nature, and is entitled to our sympathy.  She is, I understand, in some difficulty, out of which, it seems, professional advice may help to take her.  I expect her, therefore, about this time; and will you, Samuel, just stand at that window, and when you see her approach the house, do just, quietly, and without noise, open the hall door.  Something has occurred to discompose the Christian tone which usually prevails in our household; and poor Susanna is going.  But, at all events, Sam, you are aware, it is said, that we ought not to let our left hand know what our right hand doeth.”

“I know the text, sir, well; it ends with—­’and he that giveth in secret, will reward thee openly.’”

“He—­hem—­ahem! yes it does so end; heigho!  I feel, Sam, slightly depressed in spirit, as it were, and moved, as if somewhat of my usual support were withdrawn from me.”

“Here she is, sir,” said Sam.

“Very well, Sam; please to let her in as quietly as may be, and then take this declaration to the back office, and copy it as soon as you can—­it is of importance.  We should always endeavor to render services to our fellow creatures.”

In the mean time, Sam very softly opened the hall door, and the next moment Poll entered.

Solomon, as usual, was certainly seated at his office, and held his features composed and serious to a degree; still, in spite of everything he could do, there was an expression half of embarrassment, and half of the very slightest perceptible tendency to a waggish simile, we can scarcely call it—­but, whatever it might be, there it certainly was, betraying to Poll, in spite of all his efforts, that there was still the least tincture imaginable of human frailty associated with such a vast mass of sanctity.

Polly, when she entered, took a seat, and loosening the strings of her bonnet, raised it a little, and without uttering a word sat silently looking in M’Slime’s face, with a very comic and significant expression on her own.

“No, Polly,” said he, with a serious smile, “no, you are mistaken indeed—­frail we all are, I grant you; but in this case am acting for another.  No, no, Polly—­I trust those days of vanity are gone.”

“Well, then, what else am I to do?  I sent the reports abroad about M’Loughlin and Harman’s being about to break; and of M’Loughlin I’ll soon have my revenge, by the way—­I and somebody else have the train laid for it.”

“Polly, it was from no unchristian spirit of ill-will to them—­for I trust that of such a spirit I am incapable—­but to prevent them, by an unjust act, from injuring, perhaps from ruining others.  That is my motive; but, at the same time, the whole matter is understood to be strictly confidential between you and me.”

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“Don’t you know, Mr. M’Slime, that when there was an occasion for trustin’ me, I didn’t betray you to the world?”

“No—­you did not; and it is for that reason that I trust you now.”

“Ay, and you may, too; honor bright is my motive.  You remember the day you passed Darby O’Drive and me, on our way to M’Clutchy’s?  Did I pretend to know you then?”

“You acted then, Poll, with great and commendable discretion, which you will please to remember I did not overlook.”

“No,” said Poll, “you behaved decently enough.”

“But observe me now, Poll; if this report concerning the firm of M’Loughlin and Harman should by any possibility be traced to us, or rather to yourself, and that you should be pressed to disclose it, which, of course, you could not be; but if a weak moment should ever come—­it is best then to speak the truth, and put the saddle as they rather profanely say, upon Valentine M’Clutchy, the right horse here.”

“Upon M’Clutchy! why bad as he is, he never opened his lips to me on this subject.”

“But he did to me, Poll, because it was from him I first heard the suggestion; so that in point of truth and justice, you are bound by your own conscience, or you ought at least—­to lay it at his door—­and that now you understand better”—­he smiled a little as he uttered these words—­“But why don’t you get a better bonnet, that one is very shabby?”

“It’s aisier said than done,” replied Poll, “the poor must always look poor, and will too.”

“There then, are ten shillings, Poll; bestow them on that, or on any other purpose you prefer.”

“Thank you, Mr. M’Slime, troth in the little job I did for you at our first acquaintance I found you—­any way not worse than another.  Well, but you can’t desave me now—­I see it in your eye—­you have something else to say to me.”

“Oh, nothing to signify.  Merely a serious young person would wish to remove for change of air to some quiet nook until health—­which, indeed, is the chiefest of temporal blessings, might be recovered.”

“Man or woman?”

“A serious young woman, Poll.”

“I see, I see, Mr. M’Slime; I know nothing more about it.”

“Poll, listen—­I shall no longer withhold confidence from you in this matter—­unfortunately a member, indeed, I may say, two of our congregation have had a woeful fall.  He ranks very high in it, and this is an act of the greater Christian friendship in me, inasmuch as in undertaking the management of this for him, I certainly run great risks of suffering in my own reputation.  I cannot name him, for that would be a breach of confidence in me, but you are called upon to perform the duty required, and through me he shall compensate you for your trouble.”

“Very well,” replied Poll, “it must be done—­and I can tell him whoever he is, that he could not come to any one that understands such matters betther.”

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“Good morning, Poll!  Let me hear from you as soon as you can.  Peace be with thee! but Poll, remember one thing, Harman and the M’Loughlins are going to America.”  Poll nodded significantly, but made no reply.

The moment she had gone, which she did by the aid of Solomon himself, who opened and closed the hall door after her, with a quietness of manner that seemed to communicate oil to the hinges themselves, he touched the bell, and in due time Susanna looked in.

“You rang, sir,” said she.

“That arrangement is made;” said he, “so far all is well, or nearly so—­go now.”  Susanna immediately withdrew, the few words he said seeming to have diffused sunshine into a face which appeared doubly serious.

When she was gone, Solomon laid his head down upon the desk before him, and remained in that position for some time.  At length without at all raising it he began to play his knuckles against the lid, with a degree of alacrity which would not have disgraced the activity of a sleight-of-hand man.  He at last rose, drew a long breath, and wore a very smiling face; but this was not all—­O sanctity!  O religion!  Instead of going to his Bible, as one would imagine he ought to have done, instead of even taking up a psalm-book, and indulging in a spiritual song, he absolutely commenced whistling the Swaggering Jig, which he accompanied with as nimble a foot, and in as good time as if he had been a dancing-master all his life.

“Ah,” said he, “I could have done it once, and would like to do it still, only for this wicked and censorious world.”  A knock from Darby O’Drive recalled him to a perception of his gifts, and when Darby entered he looked calm and serious as usual.  Little could Darby have imagined, although perfectly aware of M’Slime’s knavery, that the pious little man had just concluded “a short exercise,” in performing the Swaggering Jig.  As it was, however, he found him in a state which might either be termed a religious meditation, or an intense application to business—­a Bible being on the one hand, and a brief on the other; but to which of the two he had devoted himself, neither Darby, nor indeed any one else, could guess.  There, however, he sat, a kind of holy link between the law and the gospel.

When Darby entered, and delivered the letter, M’Slime on receiving it exclaimed, “Ah, from my excellent friend, M’Clutchy.  Sit down, Darby, sit down, and whilst I am casting my eye over this note, do now, in order that we may make the most of our opportunities, do, I say, Darby, just read a chapter in this—­” handing him over the Bible as he spoke.  In the meantime he read as follows:—­

“Strictly confidential.

“My Dear M’Slime: 

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“In order that the thing may be done as much in the shape and form of a matter of business as possible, don’t you think it would be well for you, as Harman’s lease has expired, to send me a regular written proposal for it—­which proposal I may be able to show in justification of myself, should anything unfavorable turn up afterwards.  Harman’s offer was just double yours, but that is burnt; of course you will also burn this when you have read it.  Your offer of assistance to M’Loughlin was well thought of; and even if we never, I mean you, should be paid, you are still a gainer by two hundred pounds.  Each has offered a thousand a piece to have the leases renewed at the present rent; you give five hundred, very good suppose you lose three—­that is, suppose M’Loughlin is driven, as, please God, he shall be, to allow you to accept a bill for three hundred—­don’t you see that you are still two hundred in pocket; no, I am wrong, not two but seven hundred.  You can therefore well afford to lose three by the transaction, although, as I have said, it is not, in point of fact, losing three, but gaining seven, or at least five.  Phil has also sent me a written proposal, which I will keep, but M’Loughlin’s is gone the way of Harman’s, as a matter of prudence.  As for the private consideration between us, that is only to be glanced at.  I give you my honor that Phil has tendered me two hundred, which I will not take, of course, either from you or him until the premises are cleared of the present tenants, This must be done very soon, and, I think it is much to be wished that Harman, who is a choleric scoundrel, should be put out of the way, if possible, If he is transported it will save us a good deal of annoyance.  I should regret a meeting between him and Phil very much.  Phil tells me that he once pulled his, Harman’s, nose, and it is very natural that he should bear him a grudge for it.  There is half a year’s rent due this day, and the term mentioned in the notice to quit, expires next week.  So far, then, all is right; we have them in our power, and can proceed safely.  Parliament will, it is well ascertained, be certainly dissolved about the end of May next, so that we must work double tides to bring in his Lordship.  There is a devilish spirit abroad, however, which will occasion us much trouble; but I cannot agree with you about renewing the leases, notwithstanding.  It is just doing by those who are obstinate and ill-disposed, precisely as we ought; that is, holding a whip over their heads, and assuring them that we shall let it fall with rigor, unless they are agreeable as they ought.  The Hon. Richard Topertoe is in London, but, between you and me, it matters little where he is; you may judge of what an intermeddling fool he must be, when he had the presumption to urge his Lordship to come to his native land, and live on his estate.  This d——­d Ribbonism and outrage, in spite of all our efforts, are still increasing; I think, however, that I shall be able to make a pounce

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some of these days.  I have my spies at work, and let me tell you, that talk as they may, about its treachery and rascality, the spy system is an admirable one; in fact, it is like a two-edged sword, and cuts both ways, just as you wish.  If, for instance, you cannot find Ribbonism made to your hand, you may make it—­that is, you can corrupt first, and betray afterwards; which, at critical moments is unquestionably (I say this between ourselves) a decided advantage.  By the by, my dear Solomon, the force of religion must be singularly strong and impressive in your life and conduct, when you have been able so wholesomely to influence that rascal bailiff of ours, Darby O’Drive.  I have seldom, indeed, never witnessed so striking a change as you have produced in him; to tell you the truth, I felt a little chagrined and jealous about it; but as he owes us a kind of divided allegiance, I must rest contented.

“Believe me to be, my dear M’Slime,
“Yours affectionately and faithfully,
“Val M’Clutchy, J.P.”

To this, while Darby was tooth and nail at the Bible, Solomon wrote the following reply—­

“My Dear M’Clutchy: 

“I have just read your letter of this date, and agree with you in the necessity and propriety of my sending you a written proposal which you can show at a future time, in order to justify yourself should it be necessary so to do.  I also need not say that your conduct in destroying the proposals of M’Loughlin and Harman was equally creditable to your head and heart.  Prudence and discretion, my dear Val, are not virtues of every day occurrence, and as to giving the preference to a Christian friend, I do not see how a man as you are, with a strong sense of religion, could without injuring your conscience avoid it.  What is it after all, my dear friend, but a spoiling of the Egyptians, as holy Moses did, when about to lead the children of Israel from bondage.  In that case it was what may be termed in these our days a description of justifiable theft, such as many professors of the word do, in matters of business, feel themselves warranted even now in imitating.  It requires, however, to be done carefully, and within the freedom of the perfect law; but, by no means, with a worldly or secular spirit, otherwise it will be deprived of that unction which renders the act a gracious exemplification of our Christian privileges, instead of a departure from rectitude, which it would be if committed by an ungodly person.  These are distinctions, my dear friend, which I grant you is not permitted to many to make—­only, indeed, I may humbly and fearfully say to such as have by long wrestling with the spirit been able to see truth, when the inward eye has been purged from the grossness of passion, for which to Him be praise and power.  Amen!  I herewith enclose you the proposal formally made, and will be ready to hand over the two hundred Christian manifestations of my gratitude at the proper season.  As to Lord Cumber being a loser by the

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transaction, such a loss must have been, we are bound to hope, shaped out for him as a punishment inflicted for gracious purposes.  It is true he is ignorant of it, and I trust he shall remain so; but then we know that many a blessing comes to us in deep disguise, and that many a dispensation which we look upon as a favor from above, is far from being so.  If, then, it be true that this thing is vouchsafed to him as a hidden blessing, let us be thankful that we have been selected as the unworthy means through whom he is made to receive it; or if it comes to him as a punishment, still it is our duty to reflect that we are merely the instruments through whose frailties, or virtues, as the case may be, he is visited, and that from the beginning this and many other acts which a blind unenlightened world might censure, were ordained for us, in order that the perfect scheme of Providence might be fulfilled.

“With respect to the spy system, I do agree with you fully.  Many things must be done in secret, which the perversity of the world will not bear to hear of without committing sin.  For instance, my dear Val, in sowing your crop of loyalty, so to speak, it might not, perhaps, be wrong—­I am speaking, now observe, with reference to the cunning of the serpent, which you know we are enjoined to have, and if to have, of course to use when necessary; it might not, perhaps, be wrong I say, to cast a tare or two, if only for the purpose of employing our friends and fellow creatures to pull them, out again.  It is as it were, giving the idle employment, and enabling ourselves in the mean time to gather an abundant harvest into our own garners.

“With respect to Darby, I trust, that if my unworthy example and earnest precept have been successful in rescuing him from the bonds of error and sin—­but what is still more dangerous, from the damnable thrall of Popery—­it is not for me to vainly extol myself therefor.  His conversion, however, will, I trust, be edifying to that interesting, but neglected class, the bailiffs of Ireland.  With reference to them, I am engaged during the very few leisure hours that I can steal—­so to speak—­from my professional employment, in writing a second tract especially for their improvement.  It will be appropriately called, The Bailiff’s Beacon or a Strengthener for tender Consciences, By their friend and brother Christian, Solomon M’Slime, Attorney at Law.

“Verily, my lines have been made to fall in pleasant places.  On yesterday, I had the satisfaction to be appointed soul agent to the Religious Cosmopolitan Assurance Association, being a branch of the Grand Junction Spiritual Railway Society for travellers to a better world.  The salary is liberal, but the appointment—­especially to a man of sincere principles—­is full of care and responsibility.  Allow me, my dear Val, to recommend you and your friends to purchase shares in the Spiritual Railway Society—­it is under Him the safest

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of all associations yet established.  The arrangements are admirably adapted for the projects in view.  All the seats are delightfully soft, and as somnolent as church pews, to which they bear a close resemblance.  The machine men, and all those appointed to situations on the line, are mostly in orders; but belong to different denominations.  The scheme originated in Oxford, and has spread rapidly throughout the length and breadth of the land.  Several of the stokers are bishops, and the reverend feeders discharge their respective duties with singular effect.  It is hoped besides, that it may, under divine guidance, be the glorious means of bringing Popery within the influence of truth, whilst its enemies—­for it has enemies—­as who has not—­its enemies assert that whether it shall take in Popery, or Popery take in it, is a matter very difficult to be determined.

“They are also exceedingly expert at tract writing, which they perform, if I may say so, without boasting or vanity, very much in my own spirit.  Poor Susanna is ailing—­I mean a serious young person in our family who tended our little olive branches and understood my habits.  She is leaving us, and I shall miss her, for I am one of those persons, my dear friend, who have a heart for—­and I trust I may say, that can sympathize with—­my fellow creatures, however humble.  Do you remember that I once availed myself of a Christian privilege, to mention between us the subject of family prayer?

“I remain, my dear M’Clutchy, with, may I hope, a few of the graces of my calling—­an earnest wrestler against sin,

“Solomon M’Slime.”

“Now, Darby,” said he, having folded the letter enclosing his tender for Harman’s farm, and handed, it to him, “now, that so much is despatched, I trust we may have a word or two upon a subject of still higher importance.  How do you feel in a spiritual way?—­Are your views as clear as ever?—­are you supported—­I mean inwardly, for that is the only true support after all?”

“Thrath, Mr. M’Slime, I’m afeard to spake, sir, for fraid I’d say either more or less than the truth.”

“That is a good sign, Darby, but you must avoid profane swearing, which is a habit you contracted when in the bonds of iniquity; but you must reform it—­or rather, grace will be given you to reform it.”

“I hope so,” replied Darby, “and that I’ll still get a clearer knowledge of the truth, plaise Goodness.”

Darby, as he uttered these words, would have given a trifle to have had M’Clutchy to look at.  Little did Solomon suspect the truth to which his convert alluded.

“May it in charity be granted!” exclaimed Solomon, slightly twitching up his eyebrows.  “But, Darby, will you be properly prepared on next Sabbath (D.V.) to bear strong testimony against error and idolatry?”

“Why, I’ll do my best, sir,” replied Darby, “and you know the best can do no more.”

“Well, but you can faithfully say that you are utterly free from every taint of Popery.”

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“Faith, sir, I don’t know that that would be altogether prudent.  Did you never hear of the ould proverb, sir—­not to throw out the dirty water till you get in the clane—­I’m not sure that I have a sufficient grip of the new light yet,” said Darby, falling unconsciously into his usual style of conversation, “but, I hope that by next Sunday, I’ll be able to shine;—­an’, be me sowl, if I don’t, sir, it’ll be none o’ my fawt—­divil resave the purtier convert in Europe than I’ll make when I come to know a little about it.”

“Darby,” said Solomon, impatiently, “this is really very trying to one so anxious for your spiritual welfare as I am.  This awful swearing—­I really fear that some of your light has been withdrawn since our last interview.”

“Not at all unlikely,” replied Darby; “but wid great submission, don’t you think, sir, that two religions is betther than one?”

“How do you mean by adverting to such an impossibility?”

“Why, sir, suppose I kept the ould one, and joined this new reformation to it, wouldn’t I have two chances instead o’ one?”

“Darby,” said Solomon, “avoid, or rather Pray that you may be enabled to avoid the enemy; for I fear he is leading you into a darker error.  I tell you—­I say unto you—­that you would be much better to have no religion than the Popish.  You have reminded me of one proverb, suffer me to remind you of another; do you not know, to speak in a worldly figure, that an empty house is better than a bad tenant? why, I looked on you with pride, with a kind of and joy as one wilom I had wrestled for, and won from the enemy; but I fear you are elapsing.”

“I hope in God sir,” very gravely, “that you and he won’t have to toss up for me; for I feel myself sometimes one thing, and sometimes the other.”

“Ah!” replied Solomon, “I fear I must give you up, and in that case it will not be in my power to employ you in a very confidential matter, the management of which I imagined I could have entrusted to you.  That, however, cannot be now, as no one not amply provided with strong religious dispositions, could be relied on in it.”

Darby, who, in fact, was playing M’Slime precisely as a skilful fisherman does his fish; who, in order to induce him the more eagerly to swallow the bait, pretends to withdraw it from his jaws, by which means it is certain to be gulped down, and the fish caught.

“Ah, sir,” replied Darby, “I’m greatly afeared that every person like me must struggle with great temptations.”

“That is an excellent observation,” said Solomon; “and I do suppose, that since this desirable change took place in your heart, you must have been woefully beset.”

“Never suffered so much in my life,” replied the other.  “Now there’s your two beautiful tracts, and may I never die in sin—­I hope, sir, there’s no great harm in that oath?

“No great harm but you had better omit it, however—­it smacks of sin and superstition.”

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“Well, sir—­may I never—­I beg pardon—­but any how, the truth is, that ever since I tuck to readin’ them, I feel myself gettin’ as dishonest as if the devil—­”

“Do not name him so, Darby—­it is profane; say the enemy, or Satan, or the tempter.”

“As if the whole three o’ them, then, war at my elbow.  Why, for the last three or four days, I may say, they have cleared me out as clane of honesty as the black boy himself, and it is worse I am gettin’.  Now, sir, it stands to sense, that that’s temptation.”

“Unquestionably; and my great hope and consolation is, that you yourself are conscious of it.  All you have to do now, is to pray unceasingly—­wrestle in prayer, and you will ultimately triumph.  Sing spiritual songs, too; read my tracts with attention; and, in short, if you resist the dev—­hem—­Satan, they will flee from you.  Give that letter to Mr. M’Clutchy, and let me see you on the day after to-morrow—­like a giant refreshed with new strength.”

“Well, now,” said Darby, assuming a more serious look—­“do you know, sir, that I think your words have put new strength into me.  Somehow I feel as if there was a load removed from me.  May the mother of heaven—­hem—­I do, sir; and now, as a proof of it, I wouldn’t feel justified, sir, in leaving you, widout sayin’ a word or two about the same M’Clutchy, who, between you and me—­but I hope it won’t go farther, sir?”

“I don’t think it would be permitted to me to betray confidence—­I humbly think so.  Be not afraid, but speak.”

“Why, sir, he has got a dirty trick of speakin’ disrespectfully of you behind your back.”

“Human weakness, Darby! poor profligate man!  Proceed, what does he say?”

“Why, sir, if it ‘ud be agreeable to you, I’d rather not be goin’ over it.”

“We should know our friends from our enemies, O’Drive; but I forgive him, and shall earnestly pray for him this night.  What did he say?”

“Why he said, sir—­verily, thin, I’m ashamed to say it.”

“Did he speak only of myself?” inquired Solomon, with something like a slight, but repressed appearance of alarm.

“Oh, of nobody else, sir.  Well, then, he said, sir—­but sure I’m only repatin’ his wicked words—­he said, sir, that if you were cut up into the size of snipe shot, there would be as much roguery in the least grain of you, as would corrupt a nation of pickpockets.”

“Poor man!  I forgive him.  Do you not see me smile, Darby?”

“I do, indeed, sir.”

“Well, that is a smile of forgiveness—­of pure Christian forgiveness—­free from the slightest taint of human infirmity.  I am given to feel this delightful state of mind at the present moment—­may He be praised!—­proceed.”

“It is a blessed state, sir, and as you can bear it—­and as I can trust you, what I could not him—­I will go on:—­” he said, “besides, sir, that your example had made the ould boy himself a worse boy now than he had ever been before he ever knew you I—­that in temptin’ you, he got new dodges of wickedness that he was never up to till he met you, and that he’s now receivin’ lessons from you in the shape of a convartin’ parson.”

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“Ah! well!—­I see, I see—­that is an unchristian allusion to my recent intercourse with the Rev. Phineas Lucre, the respected and highly connected rector of Castle Cumber, and his nephew, the Rev. Boanerges Frothwell, both of whom take a deep interest in the New Reformation movement which is now so graciously advancing.  However, I shall pray for that man this night.”

“Sir, I feel much relieved; I’m a changed man widin these few minutes, I may say—­but what, afther all, is aquil to a good example?  I feel, sir, as if a strong hatred of idolaphry was comin’ an me.”

“Idolatry, you mean, Darby?”

“Yes, sir, that’s what I mean.”

“Where is that letter of Mr. M’Clutchy’s—­oh, I have it.  Well, Darby,” said M’Slime, quietly changing it for another, “here it is; now, do you see how I commit that letter to the flames?” placing M’Clutchy’s under the side of a brief; “and even as the flames die away before your eyes, so dies away—­not my resentment, Darby, for none do I entertain against him—­but the memory of his offensive expressions.”

“Sir,” said Darby, “this is wonderful!  I often heard of religion and forgiveness of injuries, but antil this day I never saw them in their thrue colors.  The day after to-morrow I’m to call, sir?”

“The day after to-morrow.”

“Well, sir, may the Holy Virgin this day—­och, indeed I do not know what I’m sayin’ sir—­Religion! well if that’s not religion what is or can be?  Good mornin’ sir.”

“Good morning, Darby, and remember my advice—­pray, sing, wrestle—­peace be with you!”

CHAPTER XI.—­Darby and Solomon at Prayer

—­An Instance of Pure Charity—–­Candidates for Conversion—­An Appropriate Confidence—­The Rev. Phineas Lucre and his Curate, Mr. Clement—­Rev. Father Roche and his Curate, Father M’Cabe.

Darby was opening the hall-door, when, as if struck by a new train of thought, he again tapped at the office door, and begged pardon for entering.

“I’m in a sweet state, sir,” said he; “and would you forgive me, now that my heart is, full, by lookin’ at such an example, if I tuck the liberty of axin’ you to kneel down and offer a Father an’ Ave an’—­hem—­och, what am I sayin’—­an’ offer up a wurd in saison for that unfortunate blaggard, M’Clutchy—­any how, it’ll improve myself, and I feel as if there was new strength put into me.  Oh, the netarnal scoundrel!  To spake the way he did of sich a man—­sich a scantlin of grace—­of—­oh, then, do, sir; let us offer up one prayer for him, the vagabond!”

The reader will perceive, however, by and by, that Darby’s sudden and enthusiastic principle of charity towards M’Clutchy, wanted that very simple requisite, sincerity—­a commodity, by the way, in which the worthy bailiff never much dealt.  Indeed we may say here, that the object of his return was connected with anything but religion.

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A shade of feeling, somewhat rueful, sat on M’Slime’s features, until he caught Darby’s eye fixed upon him, when, after rebuking him for the terms in which he proposed the, prayer, he knelt down, and with a most serene smile, commenced an earnest supplication, which became still more vehement—­then louder—­bewailed his lost state—­deplored his keeping aloof from the means of grace—­feared that the example of his old, and sinful, and blasphemous father, and his most profligate mother, had rendered his heart impenetrable to all visitations of conscience or religion—­if conscience he ever had, or religion he ever heard; both of which, he, the humble and sinful suppliant, doubted.  What then was his state?  Oh! how could a charitable or truly religious heart bear to think of it without being deeply affected”—­handkerchief here applied to the eyes, and some sobs—­a nondescript sound from Darby, accompanied by a most pathetic shaking of the sides—­evidently as much affected as M’Slime.—­The prayer was then wound up in a long, heavy, dolorous cadence, which evidently proceeded from a strong conviction that he who prayed was laboring against all hope and expectation that the humble “mean” then adopted would be attended by any gracious result—­the voice consequently quavered off into a most dismal sound, which seemed, as it were, to echo back a doleful answer to their solicitations, and accordingly Solomon rose up with a groan that could not be misunderstood.

“You see, O’Drive,” said he, “we have received no answer—­or rather a bad one—­I fear his is a hopeless case, as, indeed, that of every reprobate and castaway is; and this distresses me.”

“Mr. M’Slime,” said Darby, “will you excuse me, sir—­but the thruth is, I never properly knew you before.”  These words he uttered in a low confidential voice, precisely such as we might suppose a man to speak in, who, under his circumstances, had got new convictions.  “I’ll appear next Sabbath, and what is better, I think in a few days I’ll be able to bring three or four more along wid me.”

“Do you think so?” said M’Slime, a good deal elated at the thought; for the attorney was only playing his game, which certainly was not the case with the greater number of the new reformation men, who were as sincere in their motives as he was hypocritical in his exertions.  “And what are their names, Darby?”

“I feel, sir,” replied O’Drive, “that it’s my duty as a Christian, brought out of the land of cordage—­”

“Bondage, Darby.”

“Of bondage, to do all I can for the spread o’ the gospel.  Their names,” responded Darby, rubbing his elbow with a perplexed face; “don’t you think sir it would be better to wait awhile, till we’d see what could be done with them privately?”

“No, Darby, give me their names and residences, and I will see, that however hard the times are, they shall not at least be starved for want of—­truth.”

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“Well, then,” said Darby, “first, there is Paudeen Rafferty, of Dernascobe; Paudeen, sir, is, at the present spaking, badly given to drink, and he swears, and fights mortially, too, the hathen; but, then, he’s in darkness, sir, yet; and you know that the greater the sinner the greater the saint.  If Paudeen was dacently convarted he’d make a mighty fine Christian no doubt.  To be sure he has two wives, along wid his love for liquor and fightin’; but wouldn’t it be a good plan to bring them over, too, sir; the poor lost cratures, sunk, as they are, in hathenism and vociferation?”

“Very good, I have him down, Darby; we must struggle, however, to win him over and to induce him to give up his guilty connections.  Are they young, Darby!”

“Two of the best looking young women in the parish.”

“We must only see, then, if they can be rescued also; for that is a duty—­a pressing duty, certainly.”

“But I’m afeard, sir, it ‘ud take a ship load o’ Scripture to convart the three o’ them.”

“We shall try, however; nothing is to be despaired of under such circumstances, unless I am afraid the regeneration of that unhappy man M’Clutchy—­(eyes turned up).  Who next?”

“Why, you may set down Harry M’Murt, of Drinnska.  Harry’s an unsettled kind of fellow, or as they call him a Rake.  It would be an active charity to convert him—­and that could convert him for he has as many twists in him as an eel—­if it was only for the sake of gettin’ him to spake the truth.”

“Who else, Darby?”

“Put down Charley Casey, sir; and if you take my advice, you’ll set in at the convarsion of him while his famine lasts—­otherwise, he’s a bitter idolapher as ever welted an Orangeman; but against that, he has the stomach o’ three men—­and the best time to come at him wid the gospel is the present.  Bait it wid a flitch of bacon on the one side, and a collop o’ fresh meat on the other, now before the praties comes in, and you’re sure of him.”

“Any others, Dairby?—­but, indeed, as far as we have gone yet, the cases appear to me to be difficult ones.  However, there is joy in heaven, Darby, over one sinner—­and surely the greater the sin the greater the joy and the triumph.  Any others?”

“Mark down Molly Crudden, sir—­she would be a glorious catch if a word in saison could fasten on her.  She goes by the name of Funny Eye.  The poor woman is mother to a large family of childre, sir; and the worst of it is, that no two o’ them goies by the same name.  It would be a proud day that we could make sure of her, especially as Father Roche and Mr. M’Cabe, his curate, were obliged to give her up, and forbid her the parish; but Funny Eye only winks and laughs at them and the world.  She’s the last, sir—­but I’ll be on the look out, God willin’, for a few more desperate cases to crown our victory over the dev—­ahem! over Satan and the priests.”

“Well, then, let me see you, as I said, the day after to-morrow, and in the mean time—­peace, and joy, and victory be with you!”

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“The same to you, sir, and many of them!  Amin—­I pray the sweet queen o’ heaven this day!”

“Darby,” said M’Slime, who looked upon his mingling up religious expressions peculiar to his class as a proof of his sincerity—­“Darby,” said he in a low, condensed, and collected voice—­“I said I had the execution of a commission to entrust to you.”

“But, sir,” said Darby, whose ears, could they have shaped themselves according to his wishes, would have ran into points in order to hear with more acuteness—­“Sir,” said he, “I doubt I’m not worthy of such a trust.”

“Perfectly worthy, Darby,” continued Solomon, “if I did not think so I would not employ you—­I have engaged another person to prepare, as it were, the way for you; but the truth is, it would never do to allow that person and the young person of whom you are going to take charge to be seen together.  Evil constructions would most assuredly be put on innocent actions, Darby, as they often are; and for this reason it is that I have partly changed my mind, and will entrust one-half the commission I speak of to you.”  As if, however, he feared that the very walls might justify the old proverb by proving that they had ears, he stood up and whispered a short, but apparently most interesting communication to Darby, who appeared to listen to a tale that was calculated rather to excite admiration than any other feeling.  And we have little doubt, indeed, that the tale in question was given as illustrating the exertion of as pure an instance of Christian compassion and benevolence as ever was manifested in the secret depths of that true piety which shuns the light; for Darby’s journey was most assuredly to be made in the dark and still hours of the night.  On opening the door a party of three or four clients were about to knock, but having given them admission he went away at rather a brisk, if not a hasty pace.

Darby having concluded this interview was proceeding, not exactly in the direction of M’Clutchy’s, but as the reader shall soon hear, to a very different person, no other than the Rev. Phineas Lucre, D.D., Rector of the Parish of Castle Cumber; a living at that time worth about eighteen hundred a year.

The Rev. Phineas Lucre, then, was a portly gentleman, having a proud, consequential air stamped upon his broad brow and purple features.  His wife was niece to a nobleman, through whose influence he had been promoted over the head of a learned and pious curate, whose junior Mr. Lucre had been in the ministry only about the short period of twenty-five years.  Many persons said that the curate had been badly treated in this transaction, but those persons must have known that he had no friends except the poor and afflicted of his parish, whose recommendation of him to his bishop, or the minister of the day, would have had little weight.  His domestic family, too, was large, a circumstance rather to his disadvantage; but he himself was of studious, simple, and inexpensive habits. 

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As for dinners he gave none, except a few fragments of his family’s scanty meal to some hungry, perhaps, deserted children, or to a sick laborer when abandoned by his landlord or employer, the moment he became unable to work.  From the gentry of the neighborhood he got no invitations, because he would neither sing—­dance—­drink—­nor countenance the profligacies of their sons—­nor flatter the pride and vanity of their wives and daughters.  For these reasons, and because he dared to preach home truths from his pulpit, he and his unpretending children had been frequently made objects of their ridicule and insolence.  What right, then, had any one to assert that the Rev. Mr. Clement had received injustice by the promotion over his head of the Rev. Phineas Lucre, to the wealthy living of Castle Cumber, when he had no plausible or just grounds beyond those to which we have adverted, on which to rest his claim for preferment?  The curate was pious, we admit, but, then, his wife’s uncle was not a lord.  He was learned, but, then, he had neither power nor the inclination to repay his patrons—­supposing him to have such, by a genius for intrigue, or the possession of political influence.  He discharged his religious duties as well as the health of a frame worn by affliction, toil, and poverty, permitted him; but, then, he wrote no pamphlets adapted to the politics by which he might rise in the church.  He visited the sick and prayed with them; but he employed not his abilities in proving to the world that the Establishment rewarded piety and learning, rather than venal talents for state intrigue or family influence.

Far different from him was his aforenamed rector, the Rev. Phineas Lucre.  Though immeasurably inferior to his curate in learning, and all the requisite qualifications for a minister of God, yet was he sufficiently well read in the theology of his day, to keep up a splendid equipage.  Without piety to God, or charity to man, he possessed, however, fervent attachment, to his church, and unconquerable devotion to his party.  If he neglected the widow and the orphan whom he could serve, he did not neglect the great and honorable, who could serve himself.  He was inaccessible to the poor, ’tis true; but on the other hand, what man exhibited such polished courtesy, and urbanity of manner, to the rich and exalted.  Inferiors complained that he was haughty and insolent; yet it was well known, in the teeth of all this, that no man ever gave more signal proofs of humility and obedience to those who held patronage over him.  It mattered little, therefore, that he had no virtues for the sick, or poverty-stricken, in private life, when he possessed so many excellent ones for those in whose eyes it was worth while to be virtuous as a public man.

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Mr. Lucre, possessing high political connection, and withal affecting to be very religious, presented singular points of character for observation.  He was a great disciplinarian in theory, and rendered it imperative on his poor overworn curate to be so in practice; but being always engaged in the pursuit of some ecclesiastical windfall, he consequently spent most of his time, and of his money, either in our own metropolis or London—­but principally in the latter.  He did not, however, leave either his discipline or his devotion as a public man behind him.  In Dublin, he was practical in worshipping the Lord Lieutenant—­and in London, the King; whilst his curate was only worshipping God in the country.  The result of his better sense and more seasonable piety soon became evident, on his part, in the shape of an appointment to a second living; and that of his curate, in obscurity, poverty, and that useless gift, a good conscience.

We have said that Mr. Lucre was not Pious; yet we are far from saying that he had not all the credit of piety.  His name, in fact, was always conspicuous among the most bountiful contributors to the religious societies.  Indeed he looked upon most of them as excellent auxiliaries to the cold and scanty labors of those worldly-minded or indolent pastors, who think, when they have furnished every family in the parish with a Bible and a sheaf of tracts, that they have done their duty.  Mr. Lucre, consequently, bore an excellent character everywhere but among the poor, sick, and indigent of his two large parishes; and if a eulogium had been called for on him, he would have received an admirable one from the societies to whose funds he contributed, from the gentry of his respective parishes, and from the grand juries of the two counties in which they we’re situated.

What more than this could be expected?  Here was ample testimony for those who required it, to establish the zeal, efficiency, talents, integrity, charity and piety of that worthy and useful minister of God—­the Rev. Phineas Lucre, D.D.

Such were a few of the virtues which belonged to this gentleman.  His claims for preferment were, indeed, peculiarly strong; and when we mention the political influence of himself and his friends, his wife’s powerful connections, added to his able pamphlets, and the great mass of sound information regarding the state of the country, which in the discharge of his religious duties, he communicated from time to time to the government of the day—­we think we have said enough to satisfy our readers that he ought not to be overlooked in the wealthy and pious Establishment, which the Irish Church then was.  Still, in fact, we cannot stop here, for in good truth Mr. Lucre had yet stronger claims for preferment than any we have yet mentioned.  He did not stand in need of it.  In addition to a large dowry received with his wife, he possessed a private fortune of fourteen hundred pounds per annum, with which, joined to his two large livings, he was enabled to turn out a very primitive and apostolic equipage, such as would have made the hearts of the Apostles rejoice in reflecting, that so many new virtues were to spring up in the progress of society from the lowly-religion they established.

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Such is a pretty full sketch of a large class which existed at a former period in the Established Church of Ireland.  Mr. Lucre was, besides, what may be termed one of the first fruits of that which is called modern sanctity or saintship, being about two-thirds of the Tory and High Churchman, and one of the Evangelical.

In the same parish of Castle Cumber resided two other clergyman of a different creed and character; the Rev. James Roche, the venerable parish priest, was one of those admirable pastors whose lives are the most touching and beautiful exponent of the Christian faith.  In this amiable man were combined all these primitive virtues which are so suitable, and, we may add, necessary, to those who are called upon to mingle with the cares and affections, joys and sufferings, of an humble people.  Without pride, beyond the serene simplicity which belonged to his office, he yet possessed the power of engaging the affections and respect of all who knew him, whether high or low.  With the poor, and those entrusted to his spiritual charge, were all his sympathies, both as a man and a pastor.  His, indeed, was no idle charge, nor idly, nor with coldness or pride, were its duties entered upon or performed.  His little purse and small means were, less his own than the property of the poor around him; his eye was vigilant of want and of sorrow, of crime and frailty—­and wherever the painful rebuke, the humble and the consoling word was necessary, there stood he to I administer it.  Such was Father Roche, as the pastor of a large but poor flock, who had few sympathies to expect, save those which this venerable man was able to afford them.  Very different from him, on the other hand, was his curate, the Rev. Patrick M’Cabe, or M’Flail, as he was nicknamed by the Orangemen of the parish, in consequence of a very unsacerdotal tendency to use the horsewhip, as a last resource, especially in cases where reason and the influence of argument failed.  He was a powerful young man, in point of physical strength, but as his temperament was hot and choleric, the consciousness of this strength often led him, under its impulse, in desperate cases, to a mode of reasoning, which, after all, no man more than himself subsequently regretted.  Zealous he unquestionably was, but beyond the bounds prescribed by a spirit of Christian moderation.  I know not how it happened, but the Orangeman hated him with an intensity of detestation, which, however, he paid back to them tenfold.  His vast strength, which had been much improved by a strong relish for athletic exercises, at which he was unrivaled, when joined to a naturally courageous and combative temperament, often prompted him to manifest, in cases of self-defence, the possession of powers which they feared to call into exercise.  This disposition, however, which, after all, was not so unnatural, he properly restrained and kept I in subjection; but, in order to compensate for it, he certainly did pepper them, in his polemical discourses, with a vehemence of abuse, which, unquestionably, they deserved at his hands—­and got.  With the exception of too much zeal in religious matters, his conduct was, in every other respect, correct and proper.

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To return now to Darby, whose steps have been directed, not exactly towards Constitution Cottage, but towards the spacious glebe-house of the Rev. Phineas Lucre, which brought him about a mile or two out of his way.  The fact is he was beginning to tire of M’Slime, who, whenever he had occasion for his services, was certain to shear him of his fees on the one hand precisely as M’Clutchy did on the other.  The change of agents was consequently of no advantage to him, as he had expected it would be; for such was the rapacity of the two harpies that each of them took as much as they could out of the unfortunate tenants, and left Darby little to comfort himself, with the exception of what he got by their virtuous example, an example which he was exceedingly apt to follow, if not to exceed.  For this reason he detested them both, and consequently felt a natural anxiety to set them together by the ears whenever he thought the proper occasion for it should arrive.  Now, an event had taken place the very day before this, which opened up to his mind a new plan of operations altogether.  This was the death of the under gaoler of Castle Cumber.  Darby began to think of this as a good speculation, should it succeed; but alas! upon second reflection there stood an insurmountable difficulty in his way.  He was a Roman Catholic so far as he was anything; and this being a situation of too much trust and confidence at the period to be given to any one of that persuasion, he knew he he could not obtain it.  Well, but here again he was fortunate, and not without the prospect of some consolation.  The extraordinary movement in the religious world, called the New Reformation, had just then set in with a liveliness of judgment, and a celerity of conversion among the lower classes of Roman Catholics, which scarcely anybody could understand.  The saints, however, or evangelical party, headed by an amiable, benevolent, but somewhat credulous nobleman, on whose property the movement first commenced, ascribed this extraordinary conversion altogether to themselves.

The season to be sure in which it occurred was one of unprecedented destitution and famine.  Fuel was both scarce and bad—­the preceding crops had failed, and food was not only of a deleterious quality, but scarcely to be procured at all.  The winter, too, was wet and stormy, and the deluges of rain daily and incessant.  In fact, cold, and nakedness, and hunger met together in almost every house and every cabin, with the exception of those of the farmers alone, who, by the way, mostly held land upon a very small scale.  In this district, then, and in such a period of calamity, and misery, and utter famine, did the movement called the New Reformation originate.

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“Sure, blood alive,” thought Darby, “now that every one’s turnin’, there’s no harm to have a thrial at it myself; I can become as good a Prodestan as most o’ them in four and twenty hours, and stand a chance of the Jaolership for my pains.  I’ll go to Mr. Lucre, who is a gentleman at any rate, and allow him to think he has the convartin’ o’ me.  Well,” he proceeded, with a chuckle, “it’s one comfort, divil a much religion I have to lose; and another, that the divil a much I have to gain in exchange; and now,” he went on, “there’s little Solomon thinks I did’nt see him burnin’ the wrong letther; but faith, Solomon, my lad, there must be something in it that would do neither you nor M’Clutchy much good, if it was known, or you wouldn’t thry that trick—­but, in the mean time, I’ve secured them both.”

Now, the reader must know, that Darby’s return in such a truly charitable spirit to ask Solomon for the virtue of his prayers in behalf of M’Clutchy, was as knavish a ruse as ever was put in practice.  Solomon had placed M’Clutchy’s letter secretly under a brief, as we have said, and Darby, who knew the identical spot and position in which M’Slime was in the habit of praying, knew also that he would kneel with his back to the desk on which the brief lay.  It all happened precisely as he wished, and, accordingly, while Solomon was doing the hypocrite, Darby did the thief, and having let in those who were approaching, he came away, as we said.

He lost not a moment after he had got to a lonely part of the road, in putting them between two flat stones—­we mean M’Clutchy’s letter to Solomon, with that gentleman’s answer.  There, he determined, they should remain until after dark, when he could secure both without risk, and see what might be done with them.

“Now,” thought he, “that I’ve Solomon in a double pickle—­for he can’t inquire about the letter without letting it be seen that he tould a lie, and practised a bit of knavery, any how—­an’ as regwdin’ the other thing, I have him fast.”

In the meantime, Father M’Cabe, who had read M’Slime’s paragraph in the Castle Cumber “True Blue,” respecting Darby’s conversion, had a sharp eye out for him, as they term it in the country.  Indeed, after two or three vain attempts to see him, the Rev. gentleman was satisfied with sending him a gentle message of congratulation upon his change of creed, which was significantly wound up by a slight hint, that he might, probably, on their next meeting, give him a nice treat, but of what particular description was not communicated.  Darby having secured the letters as described, was proceeding at a pretty quick pace towards Mr. Lucre’s, when, whom should he meet in a narrow part of the way, which was enclosed between two immense white thorn hedges, through which any notion of escape was impracticable—­but the Rev. Father M’Cabe.  He tried every shift—­looked back as if he expected some friend to follow him—­then to the right—­again

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to the left—­then stooped to examine the ground, as if he had lost something of value or importance.  At length, finding every other trick useless, he adopted that one so common among boys in desperate cases—­we mean the attempt to make a mask of the right shoulder in order to conceal the face.  Even this failed, and he found himself compelled to meet the fixed and stern gaze of the colossal priest, who was on horseback, and bore in his huge right hand a whip, that might, so gripped, have tamed a buffalo, or the centaur himself, if he were not fabulous.

“Why—­my good, honest and most religious friend, Mr. Darby O’Drive—­the odor of whose sanctity, you scoundrel, has already perfumed the whole Parish—­is it possible that Providence in kindness to me, and in pure justice to yourself, has thrown you into my way at last.”  This for the present was accompanied only by a peculiar quivering motion of the whip, resulting from the quick vibrations which his sense of Darby’s hypocrisy had communicated through the hand to the weapon which it held.

“God save your Reverence!” replied Darby, “an’ in troth I’m glad to see you look so well—­faith it’s in a glow o’ health you are, may God continue it to you!  Be my sowl, it’s you that can pepper the Orangemen, any how, your Reverence—­and how is Father Roche, sir—­although sure enough he’s no match for you in givin’ it home to the thieves.”

“Silence, you hypocritical sleeveen, don’t think you’ll crawl up my wrist—­as you do up M’Clutchy’s and M’Slime’s.  Is it true that you have become an apostate?”

Darby here attempted to work up a kind of sly significant wheedling expression into his eye, as he stole a half timid, half confidant glance at the priest—­but it would not do—­the effort was a failure, and no wonder—­for there before him sat the terrible catechist like an embodied thunder cloud—­red, lurid, and ready to explode before him—­nay he could see the very lightning playing and scintillating in his eyes, just as it often does about the cloud before the bursting of the peal.  In this instance there was neither sympathy nor community of feeling between them, and Darby found that no meditated exposition of pious fraud, such as “quartering on the enemy,” or “doing the thieves,” or any other interested ruse, had the slightest chance of being tolerated by the uncompromising curate.  The consequence was, that the rising roguery died away from Darby’s face, on which there remained nothing but a blank and baffled expression, that gave strong assurance of his being in a situation of great perplexity.  The most timid and cowardly animals will, however, sometimes turn upon their captors, and Darby although he felt no disposition to bandy words with the curate, resolved, notwithstanding, to abide by the new creed, until he should be able to ascertain his chance of the gaolership.  There was, besides, another motive.  He knew Mr. Lucre’s character so well, that he determined to pursue such a course, during his interview, as might ensure him a sound horse-whipping; for it occurred to him that a bit of martyrdom would make a capital opening argument during his first interview with Mr. Lucre.

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“Did you hear me, sir?” again inquired the curate, making his whip whistle past his own right foot, just as if he had aimed it at the stirrup—­“is it true that you have turned apostate?”

“I thought you knew it, sir,” said Darby, “or if you didn’t, why did you read me out the Sunday before last from the althar?”

“Then you acknowledge it,” cried the priest, “you have the brass to acknowledge it, have you?” And here the whip made a most ferocious sweep in the air.

“Yes,” replied Darby, thinking by the admission to increase the impending castigation—­“yes, sir; I don’t belong to your flock now—­you have no authority whatsomever over me—­mind that.”

[Illustration:  PAGE 216—­ Oh, what a sweet convert you are]

“Haven’t I indeed, Mr. Convert—­oh, what a sweet convert you are—­but we’ll see whether I have or not, by and by.  Where are you bound for now?  To taste of Mr. Lucre’s flesh pots? eh?”

“I’m bound for Mr. Lucre’s, sure enough; and I hope there’s no great harm in that.”

“Oh, none in the world, my worthy neophyte, none.  Mr. Lucre’s argument and Lord ——­’s bacon are very powerful during this hard season.  Those that haven’t a stitch to their backs are clothed—­those that haven’t a morsel to eat are fed—­and if they haven’t a fire, they get plenty of fuel to burn their apostate skins at; and because this heretical crew avail themselves of the destitution of these wretches—­and lure them from their own faith by a blanket and a flitch of bacon, they call that conversion—­the new Reformation by the way, ha—­ha—­ha—­oh, it’s too good!”

“And do you think, sir,” said Darby, “that if they had a hard or an enlightened hoult of their own creed, that that would do it?”

The whip here described a circle, one part of whose circumference sang within a few inches of Darby’s ear—­who, forgetting his relish for martyrdom, drew back his head to avoid it.

“None of your back jaw,” said M’Cabe; “don’t you know, sirra, that in spite of this Methodist Lord and the proud parson’s temptations, you are commanded to renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh?  Don’t you know that?”

“But,” replied Darby, “are we commanded to renounce the devil, the world, and a bit o’ fresh mait?”

“Ha—­you snivelling scoundrel,” said the curate, “you’ve got their arguments already I see—­but I know how to take them out of you, before you leave my hands.”

“Surely,” continued Darby, “you wouldn’t have a naked man renounce a warm pair o’ breeches, or a good coat to his back—­does the Scriptur forbid him that?”

“You will have it,” replied the curate, who felt for the moment astounded at Darby’s, audacity, “you are determined on it; but I will have patience with you yet, a little, till I see what brought you over, if I can.  Don’t you admit, as I said, that you are commanded to renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh—­particularly the flesh, sirra, for there’s a peculiar stress laid upon that in the Greek.”

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“Well, but does it go in the Greek against a flitch o’ bacon and a wisp o’ greens, your reverence?  Faith, beggin’ your pardon, if you were to see some o’ the new convarts, how comfortable they are wid their good frieze coats, and their new warm blankets, sittin’ beside their good fires, you’d maybe not blame them so much as you do.  Your religion, sir, only provides for the sowl; but theirs, you see, provides any how for the body—­and faith, I say, the last is a great advantage in these hard times.”

The priest’s astonishment increased at the boldness with which Darby continued the argument, or rather, which prompted him to argue at all.  He looked at him, and gave a smile.

“Well,” said he, almost forgetting his anger—­for he was by no means deficient in a perception of the humorous—­“but no matter—­it will do by and by.  You villain,” said he, forced into the comic spirit of the argument; “do you not know that it said—­cursed is he who becometh an apostate, and eateth the flesh of heretics.”

“Aitin’ the flesh of heretics is forbidden, I dare say, sure enough,” replied Darby; “an’ troth it’s a commandment not likely to be broken—­for dirty morsels they are, God knows; but is there anything said against aitin’ the flesh of their sheep or cows—­or that forbids us to have a touch at a good fat goose, or a turkey, or any harmless little trifle o’ the kind?  Troth myself never thought, sir, that beef or mutton was of any particular religion before.”

“Yes, sir; beef and mutton, when they’re good, are Catholic—­but when they’re lean, why, like a bad Christian, they’re Protestant, of course, and that’s well known,” said the priest, still amused, against his will, by Darby’s arguments.

“Faith, and wid great respect, the same is but a poor argument for your own—­hem—­I mane, sir, for your church; for if the best beef and mutton be of the thrue religion, the Protestants have it all to nothing.  There, they’re infallible, and no mistake.  The fat o’ the land, your reverence,” said Darby, with a wink; “don’t you understand?  They’ve got that any how.”

A slight cut of the whip across the shoulders made him jump and rub himself, whilst the priest, struck with his utter want of principle, exclaimed.

“You double-dealing scoundrel, how dare you wink at me, as if we felt anything in common?”

The blow occasioned Darby’s gorge to rise; for like every other knave, when conscious of his own dishonesty, and its detection, he felt his bad passions overpower him.

“You must,” said the priest, whose anger was now excited by his extraordinary assurance—­“you must renounce their religion, you must renounce M’Slime and Lucre—­their flitches, flannels, and friezes.  You must—­”

“Beggin’ your pardon,” said Darby, “I never received any of their flitches or their flannels.  I don’t stand in need of them—­it’s an enlightened independent convart I am.”

“Well, then,” continued the priest, “you must burn their tracts and their treatises, their books and Bibles of every description, and return to your own church.”

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“To become acquainted,” replied Darby, “with that piece o’ doctrine in your hand there?  Faith and I feel the truth o’ that as it is, your reverence; and it is yourself that can bring it home to one.  But, why, wid submission, don’t you imitate Father Roche?  By me sowl, I tell you to your face, that so long; as you take your divinity from the saddler’s shop, so long you will have obedient men, but indifferent Catholics.”

“What!” replied M’Cabe, in a rage, “do you dare to use such language to my face—­a reprobate—­a brazen contumacious apostate!  I’ve had this in for you; and now (here he gave him a round half dozen) go off to M’Slime, and Lucre, and Lord------, and when you see them, tell them from me, that if they don’t give up perverting my flock, I’ll give them enough of their own game.”

Darby’s face got pale, with a most deadly expression of rage—­an expression, indeed, so very different from that cringing, creeping one which it usually wore, that M’Cabe, on looking at him, felt startled, if not awed, intrepid and exasperated as he was.  Darby stood and looked at him coldly, but, at the same time, with unflinching fearlessness in the face.

“You have done it,” he said, “and I knew you would.  Now, listen to me—­are you not as aiger to make convarts as either M’Slime or Lucre?”

“You will have it again, you scoundrel,” said the curate, approaching him with uplifted whip.

“Stand back,” said Darby, “I’ve jist got all I wanted—­stand back, or by all the vestments ever you wore, if your whip only touches my body, as light as if it wouldn’t bend a feather, I’ll have you in heaven, or purgatory, before you can cry ‘God forgive me.’”

The other still advanced, and was about to let the whip fall, when Darby stretched his right hand before him, holding a cocked and loaded pistol presented to the curate’s breast.

“Now,” said he, “let your whip fall if you like; but if you do, I’ll lodge this bullet,” touching the pistol with his left forefinger, “in your heart, and your last mass is said.  You blame Lucre and M’Slime for making convarts; but ai’en’t you every bit as anxious to bring over the Protestants as they are to bring over us?  Aren’t you paradin’ them Sunday af’ther Sunday, and boastin’ that you are takin’ more from the heretics than they are takin’ from you?  Wasn’t your last convart Bob Beatty, that you brought over because he had the fallin’ sickness, and you left it upon him never to enter a church door, or taste bacon; and now you have him that was a rank Orangeman and a blood-hound six weeks ago, a sound Catholic to-day?  Why, your reverence, with regard to convart makin’ divil the laist taste o’ differ I see between you on either side, only that they are able to give betther value in this world for the change than you are—­that’s all.  You’re surprised at seeing my pistols, but of late I don’t go any where unprovided; for, to tell you the thruth, either as a bailiff or a convart, it’s not likely I’d be safe widout them; and I think that yourself are a very good proof of it.”

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“Very well, my good, fine, pious convart; I’ll keep my eye on you.  I understand your piety.”

“And I can tell you, my good, meek, pious priest, I’ll keep mine on you; and now pass on, if you’re wise—­and so bannath lath.”

Each then passed on, pursuing his respective destination.  They had not gone far, however, when both chanced to look back at the same moment—­M’Cabe shook his whip, with a frown, at Darby, who, on the other side, significantly touched the pocket in which he carried his fire-arms, and nodded his head in return.

Now, it is an undeniable fact, that characters similar to that of Darby, were too common in the country; and, indeed, it is to be regretted that they were employed at all, inasmuch as the insolence of their conduct, on the one hand, did nearly as much harm as the neglect of the hard-hearted landlord himself, on the other.  Be this as it may, however, we are bound to say that Darby deserved much more at M’Cabe’s hands than either that Rev. gentleman was aware of then, or our readers now.  The truth was, that no sooner had M’Slime’s paragraph touching Darby’s conversion gone abroad, than he became highly unpopular among the Catholics of the parish.  Father M’Cabe, in consequence of Darby’s conduct, and taking him as a specimen, uttered some lively prophecies, touching’ the ultimate fate of the new Reformation.  He even admonished his flock against Darby:—­

“I have warned you all now,” he said, “and if after this I hear of a single perversion, woe be unto that pervert, for it is better for his miserable soul that he had never been born.  Is there a man here base enough to sell his birthright for a mess of Mr. Lucre’s pottage?  Is there a man here, who is not too strongly imbued with a hatred of heresy, to laugh to scorn their bribes and their Bibles.  Not a man, or, if there is, let him go out from amongst us, in order that we may know him—­that we may avoid his outgoings and his incomings—­that we may flee from him as a pestilence—­a plague—­a famine.  No, there is none here so base and unprincipled as all that—­and I here prophesy that from this day forth, this Reformation has got its death-blow—­and that time will prove it.  Now, remember, I warn you against their arts, their bribes, and their temptations—­and if, as I said, any one of this flock shall prove so wicked as to join them—­then, I say again, better for his unfortunate soul that he had never come into existence, than to come in contact with this leprous and polluted heresy.”

Darby having heard—­for he never went to mass—­that he was denounced by the priest, and feeling that his carrying into execution the heartless and oppressive proceedings of M’Clutchy had, taken together, certainly made him as unpopular a man as any individual of his contemptible standing in life could be, resolved, in the first place, to carry arms for his own protection, and, in the next, to take a step which he knew would vex the curate

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sorely.  Accordingly, he lost no time in circulating, and having it circulated by others, that the great Reformation Society would give, in a private way, five guineas a head to every convert, taking them either by the individual or the family, although the conversion of the latter, he said, was far more coveted than even a greater number of individuals, when they were not bound by the same ties of blood, inasmuch, as the bringing them over by families was an outpouring of grace which could not be withstood.  The consequence was, that all the profligate and unprincipled who had cold, and nakedness, and famine, in addition to their own utter want of all moral feeling to stimulate them, looked upon the new Reformation and its liberal promises as a complete windfall blown into their way by some unexpected piece of good fortune.  Five guineas a head!  And all for only going to church, and gaining for ever more the heart and affections of the good and kind Lord ------.  There was also another class, the simple and honest poor, who had no other way of avoiding all the rigors and privations of that terrible season, than a painful compliance with the only principle which could rescue themselves and their children, from a state of things worse than death itself—­and which might probably have terminated in death—­we mean the principle of the new Reformation.  There was, still, a third class—­which consisted of a set of thorough Irish wags, who looked upon the whole thing as an excellent joke—­and who, while they had not a rag to their backs, nor a morsel for their mouths, enjoyed the whole ceremony of reading their recantation, renouncing Popery, and all that, as a capital spree while it lasted, and a thing that ought by all means to be encouraged, until better times came.

In vain, therefore, did Father M’Cabe denounce and prophesy—­in vain did he launch all the dogmas of the church—­in vain did he warn, lecture, and threaten—­Darby’s private hint had gone abroad precisely a day or two before their encounter, and the consequence was what might be expected.  Darby, in fact, overreached him, a circumstance of which, at the period of their meeting, he was ignorant; but he had just learned how “the word,” as it was called, had spread, in so extraordinary a manner, maugre all his opposition a short time before they met; and our readers need not feel surprised at the tone and temper with which, after having heard such intelligence, he addressed Darby, nor at the treatment which that worthy personage received at his hands.  Had he known that it was Darby’s “word” which in point of fact had occasioned “the spread” we speak of, he would have made that worthy missionary exhibit a much greater degree of alacrity than he did.

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Before Darby arrives at Mr. Lucre’s, however, we must take the liberty of anticipating him a little, in order to be present at a conversation which occurred on this very subject between the worthy Rector and the Rev. Mr. Clement, his curate.  Mr. Clement, like the pious and excellent Father Roche, was one of those clergymen who feel that these unbecoming and useless exhibitions, called religious discussions, instead of promoting a liberal or enlarged view of religion, are only calculated to envenom the feelings, to extinguish charity, and to contract the heart.  Nay, more, there never was a discussion, they said—­and we join them—­since the days of Ussher and the Jesuit, that did not terminate in a tumult of angry and unchristian recrimination, in which all the common courtesies of life, not to mention the professed duties of Christian men, were trampled on, and violated without scruple.  In the preparations for the forthcoming discussion, therefore, neither of these worthy men took any part whatsoever.  The severe duties of so large a parish, the calls of the sick, the poor, and the dying, together with the varied phases of human misery that pressed upon their notice as they toiled through the obscure and neglected paths of life, all in their opinion, and, in ours, too, constituted a sufficiently ample code of duty, without embroiling themselves in these loud and turbulent encounters.

Mr. Clement, who, on this same day, had received a message from Mr. Lucre, found that gentleman in remarkably good spirits.  He had just received a present of a fine haunch of venison from a fox-hunting nobleman in the neighborhood, and was gloating over it, ere its descent into the larder, with the ruddy fire of epicurism blazing in his eyes.  “Clement,” said he, with a grave, subdued grunt of enjoyment, “come this way—­turn up the venison, Francis—­eh, what say you now, Clement?  Look at the depth of the fat!—­what a prime fellow that was!—­see the flank he had!—­six inches on the ribs at, least!  As our countryman, Goldsmith, says, ‘the lean was so white, and the fat was so ruddy.’”

Clement had often before witnessed this hot spirit of luxury, which becomes doubly carnal and gross in a minister of God.  On this occasion he did not even smile, but replied gravely, “I am not a judge of venison, Mr. Lucre; but, I believe you have misquoted the poet, who, I think, says, ‘the fat was so white, and the lean was so ruddy.’”

“Well, that’s not much, Clement; but, if you were a judge, this would both delight and astonish you.  Now, Francis, I charge you, as you value your place, your reputation, your future welfare, to be cautious in dressing it.  You know how I wish it done, and, besides, Lord Mountmorgage, Sir Harry Beevor, Lord ------, and a few clerical friends, are to dine with me.  Come in Clement—­Francis, you have heard what I said!  If that haunch is spoiled, I shall discharge you without a character most positively, so look to it.”

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When they entered the library, the table of which was covered with religious magazines, missionary papers, and reports of religious societies, both at home and abroad, Mr. Lucre, after throwing himself into a rich cushioned arm-chair, motioned to his curate to take a seat.

“I have sent for you, Clement,” said he, “to have your advice and assistance on a subject, in which, I feel confident, that as a sincere and zealous Protestant, you will take a warm interest.  You have heard of the establishment of our New Reformation Society, of course.”

“I believe it is pretty generally known,” replied Clement.

“It is now,” replied Lucre; “but our objects are admirable.  We propose to carry controversy into all the strongholds of Popery—­to enlighten both priest and people, and, if possible, to transfer the whole Popish population—­per satiram—­by the lump, as it were—­”

Per saturum, I believe,” observed Clement, bowing, “if I may take the liberty.”

“Sati, satu—­well, you may be right; my memory, Clement, retains large passages best, and ever did—­to transfer the whole Popish population to the Established Church.  It is a noble, a glorious speculation, if it only can be accomplished.  Think of the advantages it would confer upon us!  What stability would it not give the Church.”

“I cannot exactly see what peculiar stability it would give the Church,” replied Clement, “with the exception of mere numbers alone.”

“How so—­what do you mean?”

“Why, sir,” replied Clement, “if we had the numbers you speak of to-morrow, we would be certainly worse off than we are today.  They could only pay us our tithes, and that they do as it is; if they formed a portion, and the largest portion they would form, of our church, think of the immense number of clergy they would require to look to their religious wants—­the number of churches and chapels of ease that must be built—­the number of livings that must be divided—­nay, my dear sir, in addition to this, you may easily see, that for every one bishop now, we should have at least four, then, and that the incomes would diminish in proportion.  As it is now, sir, we have the tithes without the trouble of laboring for them, but it would be a different case in your new position of affairs.”

Mr. Lucre, who, in the heat of his zeal, had neither permitted himself to see matters in this light, nor to perceive that Clement’s arguments concealed, under a grave aspect, something of irony and satire, looked upon his curate with dismay—­the smooth and rosy cheek got pale, as did the whole purple face down to the third chin, each of which reminded one of the diminished rainbows in the sky, if we may be allowed to except that they were not so heavenly.

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“Clement,” said he, “you amaze me—­that is a most exceedingly clear view of the matter.  Transfer them! no such thing, it would be a most dreadful calamity, unless church property were proportionately increased; but, could not that be done, Clement?  Yes,” said he, exulting at the idea, as one of which he ought to feel proud, “that could and would be done—­besides I relish the multiplication of the bishoprics, under any circumstances, and therefore we will proceed with the Reformation.  At all events, it would be a great blessing to get rid of Popery, which we would do, if we could accomplish this glorious project.”

“I must confess, sir,” replied Mr. Clement gravely, “that I have never been anxious for a mere change of speculative opinions in any man, unless when accompanied by a corresponding improvement in his life and morals.  With respect to the Reformation Society, I beg leave to observe that I think the plan for the present is unseasonable, and only calculated to fill the kingdom with religious dissention and hatred.  The people, sir, are not prepared to have their religion taken by storm; they are too shrewd for that; and I really think we have no just cause to feel anxious for the conversion of those who cannot appreciate the principles upon which they embrace our faith, as must be the case with ninety-nine out of every hundred of them.  I have ever been of opinion that the policy pursued by England towards this country has been the bane of its happiness.  She deprived the Irish Roman Catholics of the means of acquiring education, and then punished them for the crimes which proceeded from their ignorance.  They were a dissatisfied, a tumultuous, and an impracticable, because they were an oppressed, people; and where, by the way, is there a people, worthy to be named such, who will or ought to rest contented under penal and oppressive laws.  But there was a day when they would have been grateful for the relaxation of such laws.  Oppression, however, has its traditions, and so has revenge, and these can descend from father to son, without education.  If Roman Catholic disabilities had been removed at a proper time, they would long since have been forgotten, but they were not, and now they are remembered, and will be remembered.  The prejudices of the Roman Catholics, however, and their enmity towards those who oppressed them, increased with their numbers and their knowledge.  The religion of those who kept them down was Protestant; and think you, sir, that, be the merits of that religion what they may, these are the people to come over in large masses, without esteem for us, reflection, or any knowledge of its principles, and embrace the creed of the very men whom they look upon as their oppressors.  Sir, there is but one way of converting the Irish, and it this:—­Let them find the best arguments for Protestantism in the lives of its ministers, and of all who profess it.  Let the higher Protestant clergy move more among the humbler classes even of

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their own flocks—­let them be found more frequently where the Roman Catholic priest always is—­at the sick-bed—­in the house of mourning, of death, and of sin—­let them abandon the unbecoming pursuits of an ungodly ambition—­cast from them the crooked and dishonest manoeuvres of political negotiation and intrigue—­let them live more humbly, and more in accordance with the gospel which they preach—­let them not set their hearts upon the church merely because it is a wealthy corporation, calculated rather to gratify their own worldly ambition or cupidity, than the spiritual exigencies of their own flocks—­let them not draw their revenues from the pockets of a poor people who disclaim their faith, whilst they denounce and revile that faith as a thing not to be tolerated.  Let them do this, sir—­free Protestantism from the golden shackles which make it the slave of Mammon, that it may be able to work—­do this, and depend upon it, that it will then flourish as it ought; but, in my humble opinion, until such a reform first takes place with ourselves, it is idle to expect that Roman Catholics will come over to us, unless, indeed, a few from sordid and dishonest motives—­and these we were better without.  I think, therefore, that the present Reformation Society is unseasonable and ill-advised, nor do I hesitate to predict that the event will prove it so.  In conclusion, sir, I am sorry to say, that I’ve seldom seen one of those very zealous clergymen who would not rather convert one individual from Popery than ten from sin.”

“Why, Clement, you are a liberal!”

“I trust, sir, I am a Christian.  As for liberalism, as it is generally understood, no man scorns the cant of it more than I do.  But I cannot think that a Roman Catholic man sincerely worshipping God—­even with, many obvious errors in his forms, or, with what we consider absurdities in his very creed—­I cannot think, I say, that such a man, worshipping the Almighty according to his knowledge, will be damned.  To think so is precisely the doctrine of exclusive salvation, with which we charge Popery itself.”

Mr. Lucre’s face, during the enunciation of these sentiments, glowed like a furnace thrice heated—­he turned up his eyes—­groaned aloud—­struck the arm of his chair with his open hand—­then commenced fanning his breast, as if the act were necessary to cool that evangelical indignation, in which there is said to be no sin.

“Clement,” said he, “this—­this”—­here he kept fanning down his choler for half a minute—­“this is—­astonishing—­awful—­monstrous—­monstrous doctrine to come from the lips of a clergyman—­man”—­another fanning—­“of the Established Church; but what is still worse, from—­from—­the lips of my curate! my curate!  I’ll trouble you to touch the bell—­thank you, sir.  But, Mr. Clement, the circumstance of giving utterance to such opinions, so abruptly, as if you were merely stating some common-place fact—­without evincing the slightest consideration for me—­without

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reflecting upon who and what I am—­without remembering my position—­my influence—­the purity and orthodoxy of my doctrine—­the services I have rendered to religion, and to a Protestant government—­(John, a glass of water; quickly)—­you forget, sir, that I have proved the Romish Church to be both damnable and idolatrous—­that she is without the means of salvation—­that her light is out—­her candlestick removed—­and that she is nothing now but darkness, and abomination, and blasphemy.  Yes, sir; knowing all this, you could openly express such doctrines, without giving me a moment’s notice, or anything to, prepare me for such a shock!—­sir, I am very much distressed indeed; but I thank my God that this excitement—­(bring it here, John; quick:)—­that this excitement is Christian excitement—­Christian excitement, Mr. Clement; for I am not, I trust, without thai zeal for the interests of my church, of my King, and of Protestantism at large, which becomes a man who has labored for them as I have done.”

Here, notwithstanding the excessive thirst which seemed to have fastened on him, he put the glass to his lips; but, sooth to say, like the widow’s cruse, it seemed to have been gifted with the miraculous property of going from his lips as full as when it came to them.

“I assure you, Mr. Lucre,” replied Clement, “in uttering my sentiments, I most certainly had not the slightest intention of giving you offence.  I spoke calmly, and candidly, and truly, what I think and feel—­and I regret that I should have offended you so much; for I only expressed the common charity of our religion, which hopeth all things—­is slow to condemn, and forbids us to judge, lest we be judged.”

“Clement,” said Mr. Lucre, who, to speak truth, had ascribed his excitement—­what a base, servile, dishonest, hypocritical scoundrel of a word is that excitement—­ready to adopt any meaning, to conceal any failing, to disguise any fact, to run any lying message whatsoever at the beck and service of falsehood or hypocrisy.  If a man is drunk, in steps excitement—­Lord, sir, he was only excited, a little excited;—­if a man is in a rage, like Mr. Lucre, he is only excited, moved by Christian excitement—­out upon it!—­but, like every other slavish instrument, we must use it—­had ascribed his excitement, we say, to causes that had nothing whatsoever to do in occasioning it—­the bona fide one being the indirect rebuke, to him, and the class to which he belonged, that was contained in Clement’s observations upon the Established Church and her ecclesiastics.  “Clement,” said he, “I must be plain with you.  For some time past I have really suspected the soundness of your views—­I had doubts of your orthodoxy; but out of consideration for your large family, I did not press you for an explanation.”

“Then, sir,” replied Clement, “allow me to say, that as an orthodox clergyman, jealous of the purity of our creed, and anxious for the spiritual welfare of your flock, it was your duty to have done so.  As for me, I shall be at all times both ready and willing to render an account of the faith that is in me.  I neither fear nor deprecate investigation, sir, I assure you.”

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“I certainly knew not, however, that you were so far gone in latitudinarianism, as I find, unfortunately, to be the case.  I hold a responsible—­a sacred situation, as a Protestant minister, Mr. Clement, and consequently cannot suffer such doctrine to spread through my flock.  Besides, had you taken an active part in promoting this Reformation, as, with your learning and talents I know you could have done—­I make no allusion now to your unhappy principles—­had you done so it was my fixed intention to have increased your salary ten pounds per annum, out of my own pocket, notwithstanding the great claims that are upon me.”

“My legal salary, I believe, Mr. Lucre, is seventy-five pounds per annum, and the value of your benefice is one thousand four hundred.  I may say the whole duty is performed by me.  Out of that one thousand four hundred, I receive sixty; but I shall add nothing more—­for indeed I have yet several visits to make before I go home.  As to my orthodoxy, sir, you will take your own course.  To my bishop I am ready to explain my opinions; they are in accordance with the Word of God; and if for entertaining them I am deprived of the slender support for which I labor, as your curate, my trust in God will not be the less.”

Mr. Lucre declined any reply, but bowed very politely, and rang the bell, to order his carriage, as a hint to Mr. Clement that the conversation was closed.  The latter bowed, bade him good morning, and departed.

When Mr. Clement said he had some visits to make, we must, lest the reader might suppose they are visits of ceremony, follow his steps in order to learn the nature of these visits.

About half a mile from the Glebe house of Castle Cumber, the meek and unassuming curate entered into an abode of misery and sorrow, which would require a far more touching pen than ours to describe.  A poor widow sat upon the edge of a little truckle bed with the head of one of her children on her lap; another lay in the same bed silent and feeble, and looking evidently ill.  Mr. Clement remembered to have seen the boy whom she supported, not long before playing about the cottage, his rosy cheeks heightened into a glow of health and beauty by the exercise, and his fair, thick-clustered hair blown about by the breeze.  The child was dying, and the tender power of a mother’s love prompted her to keep him as near her breaking heart as she could, during the short space that remained of his brief existence.  When Mr. Clement entered, the lonely mother looked upon him with an aspect of such bitter sorrow, of such helpless supplication in her misery, as if she said, am I left to the affliction of my own heart!  Am I cut off from the piety and comfort, which distress like mine ought to derive from Christian sympathy and fellowship!  Have I not even a human face to look upon, but those of my dying children!  Such in similar circumstances are the questions which the heart will ask.  She could not immediately speak, but with the head of her dying boy upon her heart she sat in mute and unbroken agony, every pang of her departing orphan throwing a deeper shade of affliction over her countenance, and a keener barb of sorrow into her heart.

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The champion of God, however, was at his post.  He advanced to the bed-side, and in tones which proclaimed the fulness of his sympathy in her sufferings, and with a countenance lit up by that trust in heaven which long trials of his own and similar bereavements had given him, he addressed her in words of comfort and consolation, and raised her heart to better hopes than any which this world of care and trial can bestow.  It is difficult, however, to give comfort in such moments, nor is it prudent to enforce it too strongly.  The widow looked upon her boy’s face, which was sweetly marked with the graces of innocence, even in the throes of death.  The light of life was nearly withdrawn from his dim blue eye; but he felt from time to time for the mother’s, hands, and the mother’s bosom.  He was striving, too, to utter his little complaint; attempting probably to describe his sufferings, and to beg relief from his unhappy parent; but the dissolving power of death was on all his faculties; his words lapsed into each, other indistinctly, and were consequently unintelligible.  Mrs. Vincent, for such was the widow’s name, heard the words addressed to her by Mr. Clement; she raised her eyes, to heaven for a moment, and then turned them, heavy with misery, upon her dying boy.  Her heart—­her hopes:—­almost her whole being were peculiarly centered in the object before her; and though she had imagined that sympathy might support her, she now felt that no human power could give her consolation.  The tears were falling fast from Mr. Clement’s cheeks, who felt, that until the agonies of the boy were over, it would be vain to offer her any kind of support.  At length she exclaimed—­

“Oh!  Saviour, who suffered the agony of the cross, and who loved little children like him, let your mercy descend upon my beloved!  Suffer him to come to you soon.  Oh!  Saviour—­hear a mother’s prayer, for I loved him above all, and he was our life!  Core of my heart, you are striving to tell your mother what you suffer, but the weight of death is upon your tongue, and you cannot do it!  I am here, my beloved sufferer—­I am here—­you struggle to find my hands to tell me—­to tell me—­but I cannot help you.”

“Mrs. Vincent,” said the curate, “we have reason to believe that what appears to us to be the agony of death, is not felt so severely as we imagine; strive to moderate your grief—­and reflect that he will soon be in peace, and joy, and happiness, that will never end.  His little sorrows and sufferings will soon be over, and the bosom of a merciful God will receive him into life and glory.”

“But, sir,” replied the widow, the tears fast streaming down her cheeks, “do you not see what he suffers?  Look at the moisture that is on his little brow, and see how he writhes with the pain.  He thinks that I can stop it, and it is for that he presses my hand.  During his whole illness that was still his cry—­’oh, mother, take away this pain, why don’t you take away the pain!’”

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Mr. Clement was a father, and an affectionate one, and this allusion to the innocence of the little sufferer touched his heart, and he was silent.

The widow proceeded:  “there he lies, my only—­only son—­his departed father’s image, and I looked up to him to be one day my support, my pride, and my happiness—­but see what he is now!  Oh!  James, James, wouldn’t I lay down my life to save yours!”

“You look at the dark side of the picture, Mrs. Vincent,” said the curate.  “Think upon what he may escape by his early and his happy death.  You know not, but that there was crime, and sin, and affliction before him.  Consider how many parents there are now in the world, who would feel happy that their children, who bring shame, and distress, and misery upon them, had been taken to God in their childhood.  And, surely, there is still a God to provide for your self and your other little ones; for remember, you have still those who have tender claims upon your heart.”

“I know you are right, sir,” she replied “but in cases like this, nature must have its way.  Death, death, but you’re cruel!  Oh—­blessed Father, what is this!”

One last convulsive spasm, one low agonizing groan, accompanied by a relaxation of the little fingers which had pressed her hands, closed the sufferings of the widow’s pride.  She stooped wildly over him and pressed him to her heart, as if by doing so she could draw his pains into her own frame, as they Were already in her spirit; but his murmurings were silent, and on looking closely into his countenance, she perceived that his Redeemer had, indeed, suffered her little one to go unto him; that all his little pains and agonies were over forever.

“His sufferings are past,” she exclaimed, “James, your sufferings are over!” As she uttered the words, the curate was astonished by hearing her burst out into one or two wild hysteric laughs, which happily ended in tears.

“No more,” she continued, “you’ll feel no more pain now, my precious boy; your voice will never sound in my ears again; you’ll never call on me to say ‘mother, take away my pain;’ the Sunday mornin’ will never come when I will take pride in dressing you.  My morning and evening kiss will never more be given—­all my heart was fixed on is gone, and I care not now what becomes of me.”

What could the good curate do?  He strove to soothe, sustain, and comfort her, but in vain; the poor widow heard him not.

“Jenny,” said she, at length, turning to, the other sick child, “your brother is at rest!  James is at rest; he will disturb your sleep now no more—­nor will you disturb his.”

“Oh! but he couldn’t help it, mammy; it was the pain that made him.”

As the child uttered these words, the widow put her hand to her heart, gave two or three rapid sobs—­her bosom heaved, and her head fell back over a chair that was accidentally beside her.  Mr. Clement caught her in time to prevent her from falling; he placed her upright on the chair, which he carried to, the little dresser, where he found a jug of water, the only drink she had to give her sick children.  With this he bathed her temples and wet her lips, after which he looked upon the scene of death and affliction by which he was surrounded.

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“Gracious Father,” he exclaimed, “let, your mercy reach this most pitiable family!  Look with eyes of pity and compassion upon this afflicted and bereaved woman!  Oh, support her—­she is poor and nearly heart-broken, and the world has abandoned her!  Oh, do not abandon her, Father of all mercy, and God of all consolation!”

As he concluded, the widow recovered, and felt his tears falling upon her face.  On looking she perceived how deeply he was affected.  Her lips opened unconsciously with a blessing on him who shared in, and soothed her sorrows—­her voice was feeble, for she had not yet recovered her strength; but the low murmur of her prayers and blessings rose like the sounds of sweet but melancholy music to heaven, and was heard there.

Mr. Clement then went over to the bed, and with his own hands smoothed it down for the little sick sister of the departed boy, adjusting the bed-clothes about her as well as he could, for the other children were too., young to do anything.  He then divided the hair upon the lifeless child’s forehead—­contemplated his beautiful features for a moment—­caught his little hand in his—­let it fall—­oh! how lifelessly! he then shook his head, raised his eyes, and pointing to heaven, exclaimed—­

“There—­Mrs. Vincent, let your hopes lie there.”

He then departed, with a promise of seeing her soon.

CHAPTER XII.—­Interview between Darby and Mr. Lucre

—­Darby feels Scriptural, and was as Scripturally treated—­Mr. Lucre’s
Christian Disposition towards Father M’Cabe—­A few Brands offer
Themselves to be Plucked from the Burning—­Their Qualification, for
Conversion, as stated by Themselves.

Mr. Lucre, like almost every Protestant rector of the day, was a magistrate, a circumstance which prevented Mr. Clement from feeling any surprise at seeing a considerable number of persons, of both sexes, approaching the glebe.  He imagined, naturally enough, that they were going upon law business, as it is termed—­for he knew that Mr. Lucre, during his angel visits to Castle Cumber, took much more delight in administering the law than the gospel, unless, when ready made, in the shape of Bibles.  When Darby, also, arrived, he found a considerable number of these persons standing among a little clump of trees in the lawn, apparently waiting for some person to break the ice, and go in first—­a feat which each felt anxious to decline himself, whilst he pressed it very strongly upon his neighbor.  No sooner had Darby made his appearance than a communication took place between him and them, in which it was settled that he was to have the first interview, and afterwards direct the conduct and motions of the rest.  There was, indeed, a dry, knowing look about him, which seemed to imply, in fact, that they were not there without some suggestion from himself.

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Darby was very well known to Mr. Lucre, for whom he had frequently acted in the capacity of a bailiff; he accordingly entered with something like an appearance of business, but so admirably balanced was his conduct on this occasion, between his usual sneaking and servile manner, and his privileges as a Christian, that it would be difficult to witness anything so inimitably well managed as his deportment.  One circumstance was certainly strongly in his favor; Father M’Cabe had taken care to imprint with his whip a prima facie testimony of sincerity upon his countenance, which was black, and swollen into large welts by the exposition of doctrinal truth which he had received at that gentleman’s hands.  Lucre, on seeing him, very naturally imagined he was coming to lodge informations for some outrage committed on him either in the discharge of his duty as bailiff, or, for having become a convert, a fact with which he had become acquainted from the True Blue.

“Well, O’Drive,” said he, “what is the matter now? you are sadly abused—­how came this to pass?”

Darby first looked upwards, very like a man who was conscientiously soliciting some especial grace or gift from above; his lips moved as if in prayer, but he was otherwise motionless—­at length he ceased—­drew a lone breath, and assumed the serenity of one whose prayer had been granted.  The only word he uttered that could possibly be at all understood, was amen; which he pronounced lowly, but still distinctly, and in as unpopish a manner as he could.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” he replied, “but now my heart’s aisier—­I hope I have overcome that feeling that was an me—­I can now forgive him for the sake of the spread o’ the gospel, and I do.”

“What has happened your face?—­you are sadly abused!”

“A small taste o’ parsecution, sir, which the Lord put into Father M’Cabe’s horsewhip—­heart I mane—­to give me, bekaise I renounced his hathenism, and came into the light o’ thruth—­may He be praised for it!” Here followed an upturning of the eyes after the manner of M’Slime.

“Do you mean to tell me, O’Drive, that this outrage has been committed on you by that savage priest, M’Cabe?”

“It was he left me as you see, sir—­but it’s good to suffer in this world, especially for the thruth.  Indeed I am proud of this face,” he continued, blinking with a visage so comically disastrous at Mr. Lucre, that had that gentleman had the slightest possible perception of the ludicrous in his composition, not all the gifts and graces that ever were poured down upon the whole staff of the Reformation Society together, would have prevented him from laughing outright.  “Of course you are come,” pursued Lucre, “to swear information against this man?”

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“I have prayed for it,” said Darby in a soliloquy, “and I feel that it has been granted.  Swear information, sir?—­I’ll strive and do betther than that, I hope; I must now take my stand by the Bible, sir; that will be the color I’ll hoist while I live.  In that blessed book I read these words this mornin’, ’love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and parsecute you.’  Sir, when I read these words, I felt them slidin’ into my heart, and I couldn’t help repeatin’ them to myself, ever since—­and, even when Father M’Cabe was playin’ his whip about my ears, I was as hard at work prayin’ for his sowl.”

This, we have no doubt, was perfectly true, only we fear that our blessed convert forgot to state the precise nature and object of the prayer in question, and to mention whether it was to the upper or lower settlement he consigned the soul alluded to.  This Christian spirit of Darby’s, however, was by no means in keeping with that of Mr. Lucre, who never was of opinion, in his most charitable of moods, that the gospel should altogether supersede the law.  On this occasion, especially, he felt an acuteness of anxiety to got the priest within his power, which the spirit of no gospel that ever was written could repress.  M’Cabe and he had never met, or, at least, never spoke; but the priest had, since the commencement of the new movement, sent him a number of the most ludicrous messages, and transmitted to him, for selection, a large assortment of the most comical and degrading epithets.  Here, then, was an opportunity of gratifying his resentment in a Christian and constitutional spirit, and with no obstacle in his way but Darby’s inveterate piety.  This, however, for the sake of truth, he hoped to remove, or so modify, that it would not prevent him from punishing that very disloyal and idolatrous delinquent.

“Those feelings, O’Drive, are all very good and creditable to you, and I am delighted indeed that you entertain them—­but, in the meantime, you owe a duty to society greater than that which you owe to yourself.  This man, this priest—­a huge, ferocious person I understand he is—­has latterly been going about the parish foaming and raging, and seeking whom he can horsewhip.”

“That’s thruth, sir, poor dark hathen—­an’, sir—­jist beggin’ your pardon for one minute, half a minute, sir—­you know we’re desired when an inimy strikes us upon one cheek to turn the other to him; well, as I said, sir, I found myself very Scriptural this whole day, so when he hit me the first welt on this cheek, I turns round the other, an’ now look at the state it’s in, sir—­but that’s not all, sir, he tuck the hint at once, and gave it to me on both sides, till he left me as you see me.  Still, sir, I can forgive him, and I have done it.”

“That, as I said, reflects great credit on your principles—­but, in the meantime, you can still retain these principles and prosecute him.  Your lodging informations against him does not interfere with your own personal forgiveness of him at all—­because it is in behalf of, and for the safety of society that you come forward to prosecute now.”

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Darby, who in point of fact had his course already taken, shook his head and replied, falling back upon the form of M’Slime’s language as much as he could—­

“I feel, sir,” he replied, “that I’m not permitted.”

“Permitted!” repeated the other.  “What do you menu?”

“I’m not permitted from above, sir, to prosecute this man.  I’m not justified in it.”

“Quite ridiculous, O’Drive, where did you pick up this jargon of the conventicle—­but that reminds me, by the by—­you are not a convert to the Established Church.  You belong to the Dissenters, and owe your change of opinions to Mr. M’Slime.”

“If I don’t belong to the Established Church now, sir,” replied Darby, “I won’t be long so.”

“Why,” inquired the other, “are you not satisfied with the denomination of Christians you have joined?”

“M’Slime, sir, converted me—­as you say—­but I’ve great objections—­and between you and me, I, fear it’s not altogether safe for any man to take his religion from an attorney.”

A smile, as much as he could condescend to, passed over the haughty, but dignified features of Mr. Lucre.

“O’Drive,” said he, “I did not think you possessed so much simplicity of character as I perceive you do—­but touching the prosecution of this man—­you must lodge information, forthwith.  You shall bring the warrant to Mr. M’Clutchy who will back it, and put it into the hands of those who will lose little time in having it executed.”

“I am sorry, sir, that my conscience doesn’t justify me in doin’ what you wish.”

“What do you mean by conscience, sir?” asked the other, getting warm, “if you have a conscience you will have no scruple in punishing a man who is an open enemy to truth, to the gospel, and to the spread of it through a benighted land.  How can you reconcile it to your conscience to let such a man escape.”

“Simply by forgiving him, sir—­by lettin’ the great, big, ignorant hathen, have the full benefit of a gospel forgiveness.  That’s what I mean, sir, and surely it stands to sense that I couldn’t prosecute him wid these feelin’s, barrin’ I’d go against the Word.”

“O’Drive,” said Lucre, evidently mortified at Darby’s obstinacy, “one of two things is true; either you are utterly ignorant, perhaps, with every disposition to know them, of the sanctions and obligations of religion, or you are still a Papist at heart, and an impostor.  I tell you, sir, once more, that it is upon religious grounds that you ought to prosecute this wild priest; because in doing so, you render a most important service to religion and morality, both of which are outraged in his person.  You ought to know this.  Again, sir, if you are a Protestant, and have thoroughly cast Popery from your heart, you must necessarily be a loyal man and a good subject; but if you refuse to prosecute him, you can be neither the one nor the other, but a Papist and an impostor, and I’ve done with you.  If Mr. M’Clutchy knew, sir, that you refused to prosecute a priest for such a violent outrage upon your person, I imagine you would not long hold the situation of bailiff under him.”

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Darby looked into the floor like a philosopher solving a problem.  “I see, sir,” said he, “I see—­well—­you have made that clear enough sartinly; but you know, sir, how could you expect such deep raisoning upon these subjects from a man like me.  I see the duty of it now clearly; but, when, sir, on the other hand if I prosecute him, what’s to become of me?  Will you, sir, bear my funeral expenses?”

“Every penny, O’Drive,” replied the other, eagerly.  “Tut,” he exclaimed, checking himself, “I—­I—­I thought you meant the expenses of the prosecution.”

“It’s much the same, sir,” replied Darby, “the one will be sure to follow the other.  You know the state the country’s in now, sir, and how the people on both sides are ready to skiver one another about this religion, and rents and tithes, and dear knows what besides.  As it is, sir,” he proceeded, “you see that I dursn’t walk the road without these,” and he produced the pistols as he spoke, “but what chance, sir, would I have if I prosecuted a priest?  Why, my life wouldn’t be worth two hours’ purchase.”

Mr. Lucre himself could not help feeling and admitting the truth of this, but as he could devise no plan to obviate the dangers alluded to, he still scrupled not to urge the prosecution.

“Sir,” said Darby starting, as if a gleam of light had shot across his brain, “a thought has just struck me, and I hope it was something from above that sent it.  If there was any kind of situation, sir, that I could fill, and that would keep me in a place of safety where the hathens couldn’t get at me, everything would be right; and be the same token, sir, now that I think of it, isn’t the under gaoler-ship of Castle Cumber vacant this minute.”

Lucre who, in fact, had set his heart on prosecuting and punishing the priest, would have gladly made Darby governor of the best gaol in his majesty’s dominions, rather than lose this opportunity of effecting his purpose.

“Rest contented, O’Drive,” he replied, “you shall have it—­I pledge myself that you shall have it.  My influence is sufficient for much more than so paltry a trifle as that.  And now for the informations.”

“Ah, sir,” replied the other, “that wouldn’t mend the matter a bit.  Let it go once abroad that I swore them, and I’d never see to-morrow night.  No, sir, if you wish him properly prosecuted,—­and I think I ought to know how to do it, too;—­but if you wish him properly punished, place me first out of harm’s way—­out o’ the reach o’ the hathens; put me into the situation before we take a single step in the business, then I’ll be safe and can work in it to some purpose.”

“It shall be done,” said Lucre, “and I will go about it presently, but in the mean time the matter rests as it is.  If what you say is true, and I believe it is, your own safety depends upon your silence.”

“Not a breath,” replied Darby; “and now, sir, about what brought me here—­I wanted to say that I’d wish ‘to read’ upon Sunday next.”

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“What do you mean?” asked Lucre.

“Why, sir, as I said, I don’t like to take my religion from an attorney—­and I’m afeard, besides, that he’s not altogether orthybox, in regard that he hinted once that God was ------; but, indeed I disremember his words, for it wasn’t aisy to hould them when you got them.”

“He, of course, is a Fatalist and Predestinarian,” said Lucre; “but what is this you were about to say?”

“Why, sir, that I’d wish publicly to read my recompensation in your church on Sunday next.”

“And why in my church?” asked the proud parson, who felt his vanity touched, not by anything Darby had yet said, but by the indescribable expression of flattery which appeared in his face.

“Why, sir,” he replied, “bekase it’s given out on all hands that there’s no end to your larnin’—­that it’s wondherful the books you wrote—­and as for your preachin’, that it ’ud make one think themselves in heaven, hell, or purgatory, accordin as you wished.”

“Very well, O’Drive, very well indeed,” exclaimed Lucre, caught on his weakest side by this artful compliment; “but you must forget purgatory—­however I can conceive that it was the mere force of habit that prompted you to utter it.  Well, then, you shall read your recantation on Sunday, since you wish it—­there will be about a dozen or two others, and you had better attend early.  Good-day, O’Drive!”

“Plaise your honor,” said Darby, who never could be honest to both parties, “there’s a batch o’ convarts outside waitin’ to see you, but between you and me, I think you had as well be on your guard wid some o’ them, I know what they want.”

“And pray, what is that, O’Drive?”

“Why, thin, for fraid I may be doin’ the crathurs injustice, sir, I won’t say; only jist take my hint, any how.  Good mornin’ kindly, sir!”

As Darby passed the group we have alluded to, he winked at them very knowingly, “go up,” said he, “go up I say:—­may be I didn’t give yez a lift since, and mark me, huld to the five guineas a head, and to be provided for aftherwards.  Paddy Cummins do you go up, I say—­bannath lath!”

Paddy went up, and in a few minutes a ragged, famine-wasted creature entered with his old caubeen between his hands, and after having ducked down his head, and shrugged his shoulders alternately, stood with an abashed look before Mr. Lucre.

“Well, my good man, what is your business with me?”

To this the countryman prepared to reply,—­first, by two or three additional shrugs; secondly, by raising his right elbow, and pulling up all that remained of the collar of his tattered cothamore, or great coat, after which he gave a hem.

“Have you no tongue, my good fellow?”

A shrug—­“hem—­why, sir, but that was a great sarmon you praiched on last Sunda’, plaise you honor.  Faitha, sir, there was mighty fine discoorsin’ in it about rail-ligion?”

“O! the sermon—­did you hear it, my good man?”

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“Faitha, sir, I was there sure enough, in spite o’ Father M’Cabe, an’ all.”

“Sit down, my good friend, sit down—­well, you attended the sermon, you say—­pray how did you like it?”

“Faitha, sir, sure nobody could dislike it bedad, sir, we’re all greatly disappointed wid the priests afther hearin’ it—­it was wondherful to hear, the deep larnin’ you brought forrid, sir, against them, an’ our church in gineral.  Begad myself was mightily improved by it.”

“Don’t swear, though—­well you were improved by it, you say—­pray what is your name?”

“I’m one Paddy Cummins, sir, a shister’s son of—­”

“Well, Cummins, I’m very happy to hear that you were edified, and happier still that you had sense to perceive the side upon which truth lay.”

“Faitha, thin, your reverence, I seen that widout much throuble; but, sure they say, sir, there’s to be a power of us turnin’ over to yez.”

“I hope so, Cummins—­we are anxious that you should see the errors of the creed you so ignorantly profess, and abandon them.”

“Sure enough, sir—­dad, sir, your ministhers is fine men, so you are—­then you’re so rich, sir, plaise your honor—­they do be sayin’, sir, that the reverend gintlemen of your church have got a great deal of money among them somehow, in regard that it ’ud be needful to help poor crathurs that ’ud turn, and keep them from the parsecution, sir.”

“Cummins, my good friend, allow me to set you right.  We never give a penny of money to any one for the sake of bringing him over to our church; if converts come to us it must be from conviction, not from interest.”

“I see, sir—­but sure I’m not wantin’ the promise at all, your honor—­sure I know you must keep yourselves clear anyway—­only the five guineas a head that I’m tould is to be given.”

“Five guineas a head!—­pray who told you so?”

“Faitha, sir, I couldn’t exactly say, but every one says it.  It’s said we’re to get five guineas a head, sir, and be provided for afther; I have nine o’ them, sir, eight crathurs and Biddy herself—­she can’t spake English, but, wid the help o’ God, I could consthre it for her.  Faith, she’d make a choice Prodestan, sir, for wanst she takes a thing into her head the devil wouldn’t get it out.  As for me, I don’t want a promise at all, your reverence, barrin’ that if it ‘ud be plaisin’ to you, jist to lay your forefinger along your nose—­merely to show that we undherstand one another—­it ’ud be as good to me as the bank.  The crathur on the breast, your reverence, we’d throw in as a luck penny, or dhuragh, and little Paddy we give at half price.”

“Did you hear all this?”

“Faitha, then, we did, sir—­and sure, as you don’t like to have the thing known, I can keep my tongue atween my teeth as well as e’er a convart livin’—­an’ as for Biddy, by only keepin’ her from the dhrink, she’s as close as the gate of heaven to a heretic.  Bedad, sir, this new light bates everything.”

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“My good friend, Cummins, I tell you I have no money to give,—­neither is there anything to be given,—­for the sake of conversion—­but, if your notions of your own religion are unsettled, put yourself under Lord ------’s chaplain; and, if, in the due course of time, he thinks you sufficiently improved to embrace our faith, you and your family may be aided by some comforts suitable to your condition.”

Cummins’ face lengthened visibly at ’an intimation which threw him so far from his expectations; the truth being, that he calculated upon receiving the money the moment he read his recantation.  He looked at Mr. Lucre again as significantly as he could—­gave his head a scratch of remonstrance—­shrugged himself as before—­rubbed his elbow—­turned round his hat slowly, examined its shape, and gave it a smarter set, after which he gave a dry hem and prepared to speak.

“I’ll hear nothing further on the subject,” said the other, “withdraw.”

Without more ado Cummins slunk out of the room, highly disappointed, but
still not without hopes from Lord ------, to whom, or his chaplain, he
resolved to apply.  In the meantime he made the best of his way home to
his starving wife and children, without having communicated the result
of his visit to those who were assembled at the glebe house.

He had scarcely left the hall door when another claimant for admission presented himself in the person of a huge, tattered fellow, with red, stiff hair standing up like reeds through the broken crown of his hat, which he took off on entering.  This candidate for Protestantism had neither shoe nor stocking on him, but stalked in, leaving the prints of his colossal feet upon the hall through which he passed.

“Well, friend, what is wrong with you?—­why did’nt you rub your filthy feet, sir, before you entered the room?  You have soiled all my carpet.”

“I beg your honor’s parding,” said the huge fellow; “I’ll soon cure that.”  Having said which he trotted up to the hearth-rug, in which, before Lucre had time even to speak, by a wipe from each foot, he left two immense streaks of mud, which we guess took some hard scrubbing to remove.  “Now, your honor, I hope I’ll do.”

Lucre saw it was useless to remonstrate with him, and said, with more temper than could be expected—­

“Man, what’s your business?”

“I come, sirra,”—­this man had a habit of pronouncing sir as sirra, which he could never overcome—­“to tell your reverence to enther me down at wanst.”

“For what purpose should I enter you down?”

“For the money, sirra; I have seven o’ them, and we’ll all go.  You may christen us if you wish, sirra.  ’Deed I’m tould we must all be christened over agin, an’ in that case, maybe it ‘ud be plaisin’ to you to stand godfather for me, yourself, your reverence.”

“What do you mean?—­but I suppose I understand you.”

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“I mean, sirra, to become a Protestan—­I an’ my family, I’m Nickey Feasthalagh, that was in on suspicion o’ the burnin’ of Nugent’s hay; and by them five crasses I was as innocent of that as the child onborn, so I was.  Sure they couldn’t prove an me, becoorse I came out wid flying colors, glory be to God!  Here I am now, sir, an’ a right good Prodestan I’ll make when I come to understand it.  An’ let me whisper this, sirra, I’ll be dam useful in fairs and markets to help the Orangemen to lick ourselves, your honor, in a skrimmage or party fight, or anything o’ that kidney.”

“I am sorry, Nick Fistula, as you say your name is—­”

“Mickey, sirra.”

“Well, Nickey, or Nick, or whatever it may be, I am sorry to say that you won’t do.  You are too great an ornament to your own creed ever to shine in ours.  I happen to know your character—­begone.”

“Is Misthre Lucre widin?” asked a third candidate, whose wife accompanied him—­“if he is, maybe you’d tell him that one Barney Grattan wishes to have a thrifle o’ speech wid his honor.”

“Come in,” said the servant with a smile, after having acquainted his master.

The man and his wife accordingly entered, having first wiped their feet as they had been ordered.

“Well, my good man, what’s your business.”

“Rosha, will you let his honor know what we wor spakin’ about?  She’ll tell you, sir.”

“Plaise your honor,” said she, “we’re convarts.”

“Well,” said Mr. Lucre, “that is at least coming to the point.  And pray, my good woman, who converted you?”

“Faix, the accounts that’s abroad, sir, about the gintleman from Dublin, that’s so full of larnin’, your reverance, and so rich, they say.”

“Then it was the mere accounts that wrought this change in you?”

Dhamnu orth a Rosha, go dhe shin dher thu?” said the husband in Irish; for he felt that the wife was more explicit than was necessary.  “Never heed her, sir; the crathur, your reverence, is so through other, that she doesn’t know what she’s sayin’, especially spakin’ to so honorable a gentleman as your reverence.”

“Then let us hear your version, or rather your conversion.”

“Myself, sir, does be thinkin’ a great deal about these docthrines and jinnyologies that people is now all runnin’ upon.  I can tell a story, sir, at a wake, or an my kailee wid a, neighbor, as well as e’er a man in the five parishes.  The people say I’m very long headed all out, and can see far into a thing.  They do, indeed, plaise your reverence.”

“Very good.”

“Did you ever hear about one Fin M’Cool who was a great buffer in his day, and how his wife put the trick upon a big bosthoon of a giant that came down from Munster to bother Fin?  Did you ever hear that, sir?”

“No; neither do I wish to hear it just now.”

“Nor the song of Beal Derg O’Donnel, sir, nor the ‘Fairy River,’ nor ‘the Life and Adventures of Larry Dorneen’s Ass,’ plaise your reverence.”

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“No—­but I wish you would allow your wife to relate your business here.”

“Well, sir, the people say I’m very longheaded, and can see far into a thing—­”

“But, my good man, I care not what the people say—­tell your story briefly.”

“—­An’ can see far into a thing, your reverence, becaise I’m long-headed.  All longheaded people, sir, is cute, an’ do you know why they’re cute, sir?  No, you don’t, but I’ll tell you—­bekaise they’re long-headed.  Now, sir, what ’ud you think to turn Roman Catholic awhile till I’d malivogue you in arguin’ Scripture?—­I want to prove to you, sir, that I’m the boy that understands things.”

“What’s your business with me?”

“Will you thry it, sir, and you’ll see how I’ll sober you to your heart’s delight.”

“What brought your husband to me, my good woman?”

Bhe dha husth; fag a rogarah lumsa.”

“He’s comin’ to it, plaise your reverence,” said the wife.

“Well, sir, so you see, bein’ given to deep ways of thinkin’ o’ my own, I had many bouts at arguin’ Scripthur—­as every longheaded man has, of coorse—­an’ yestherday meetin’ wid Brian Broghan, the mealman—­him that keeps it up on the poor, sir—­he challenged me, but, in three skips of a Scotch Gray, I sacked him cleaner than one of his own meal bags, and dusted him afterwards:—­’so,’ says he, misther Grattan, see what it is to be long-headed.”

“It’s worse,” observed Lucre, “to be long-winded.  Come to an end, sir.”

“‘Long-headed,’ says he, ‘an’, of coorse you’ll be takin’ the money,’ says Brougham; ‘what money?’ says I.  ‘Why, the five guineas,’ says he, ‘that the Biblemen is givin’ to every one that will turn wid them, he happens to be long-headed—­but otherwise, not a penny.’  So, sir, myself, you see, havin’ the intention to come over long afore for fraid yez might think it was for the money I am doin’ it.  But is there such a thing, sir?”

“Not a penny, and so you may tell your friends.”

“Well, but, sir, grantin’ that, still you’ll acknowledge that I’m long-headed.”

“No, only long-winded.”

“Not long-headed, then?”

“No, certainly not.”

Damnu orth a veehone bradagh! come Rosha.  Not long-headed! troth it’s a poor religion to depind on—­an’ I’ll make a show of it yet, if I’m spared.  Come, woman alive.”

Honest Barney was the last but one who was honored by a hearing, though not the last by a score of those who expected it, and, sooth to say, the appearance of that one threw the whole proceedings into such exquisite ridicule, that we cannot resist the temptation of giving his claims and arguments a place among the rest.  The convert in question was no other than our old friend Raymond-na-hattha, or Raymond of the hats; who, moved by the example of others, and only possessed of a dim notion of the cause that brought them together, came among them from that vague motive

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of action which prompts almost every creature like him to make one in a crowd, wherever it may assemble.  The mind of poor Raymond was of a very anomalous character indeed; for his memory, which was wonderful, accumulated in one heterogeneous mass, all the incidents in which he had ever taken any part, and these were called out of the confusion, precisely as some chord of association happened to be struck in any conversation which he held.  For this reason he sometimes uttered sentiments that would have come with more propriety from the lips of a philosopher than a fool, and again fell to the level of pure idiotism, so singular were his alternations from sense to nonsense.  Lucre’s porter, himself a wag, knew perfectly well what was going forward, and, indeed, took very considerable delight in the movement.  When Raymond presented himself, the porter, to whom he was very well known, determined, for the joke’s sake, that he should have the honor of an interview as well as the rest.  Lucre, as we said, being but seldom at Castle Cumber, was ignorant of Raymond’s person and character, and, indeed, we may add, that he stood in a position precisely similar with respect to almost every one of his own flock.  When Raymond entered, then, he was addressed in much the same terms as the others.

“Well, friend, what is your business?—­

“John, admit no more, and let the carriage come round—­are you a convert also?”

“Yes, I am; what have you to give me?”

“A pure and peaceful religion, my friend.”

“Where is it?”

“In this book—­this is the Word of God, that preacheth peace and salvation to all.”

“Has Val M’Clutchy this book?”

“Of course he has—­it is not to be supposed that so able and staunch a friend of Protestantism, of the religion of the state, could be without this book, or ignorant of it.”

Raymond put it tip to his nose, and after seeming to smell it, said, with a strong shudder, “how did you do this among you?  How did you do it?—­look at it—­see, see, it’s dripping wid blood—­here’s murder on this page, there’s starvation on that—­there’s the blood-hounds huntin’—­look, sir, look at the poor creature almost worn down, makin’ his way to hide, but he can’t; they have him, they have him—­see how they drag him, as if he was, a—­ay, drag, drag, he’s yours now, he’s yours—­whip and scourge, whip and scourge—­more blood, more blood—­and this is it, this—­don’t you see it, sir, comin’ down in drops when I hould it up that way!”

“My good friend, you are certainly in liquor—­your language is that of a man strongly affected by drink.”

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“And this is it,” Raymond proceeded; “look at this page, that’s not the one the blood is on; no, no, there’s nothing here but madness.  Ah!” said he, lowering his voice to a tone of deep compassion, “sure she’s mad; they killed Hugh O’Began, and they killed the two sons, and then she went mad.—­So, you see, there it is now—­on that page there’s blood, and, on this one,—­with the big letter on it, there’s madness.  Then agin comes the Turnin’ out.  How would you like to walk three long, dreary miles, in sleet, and frost, and snow, havin’ no house to go to—­wid thin breeches to your bottom, an’ maybe a hole in them—­widout shoe or stockin’ on your hooves—­wid a couple of shiverin’, half starved, sick childre, tied by an ould praskeen to your back, an’ you sinkin’ wid hunger all the time?—­ay, and the tail o’ your old coat blown up behind every minute, like a sparrow before the wind!—­Eh, how would you like it?”

Lucre still stuck to the hypothesis of liquor, and accordingly went and rang the porter’s bell, who immediately appeared.

“John,” said his master, “I desire you will immediately show this man out—­he is so scandalously affected with liquor, that he knows not the purport of his own language.”

John approached his master with a face of awful tenor:—­“for God’s sake, sir,” said he, “don’t say a word that might cross him, sure he’s the great madman, Raymond-na-hattha.  Just sit still, and let him take his own way, and he’ll do no harm in life; appear to listen to him, and he’ll be like a child—­but, if you go to harshness, he’d tear you, and me, and all that’s in the house, into minced meat.”

Once more did Lucre’s countenance lose its accustomed hue; but, on this occasion, it assumed the color of a duck egg, or something between a bad white and a bad blue; “my good friend,” said he, “will you please to take a seat—­John, stay in the room.”  This he said in a whisper.

“There,” proceeded Raymond, who had been busily engaged in examining the pages of the Bible, “there is the page where that’s on—­the puttin’ out in the clouds and storm of heaven—­there it is on that page.  Look at the ould man and the ould woman there—­see them tremblin’.  Don’t cry—­don’t cry; but they are—­see the widow there wid her orphans—­there’s a sick boy in that house, and a poor sick girl in that other house—­see, they’re all cryin’—­all cryin’—­for they must go out, and on sich a day!  All that, now, is upon these two other pages, bekaise, you see, no one page would hould all that.  But see here—­here’s a page wid only one side of it covered—­let vis see what’s on it.  Oh, ay—­here’s the poor craythur’s childre, wid the poor father and the poor mother; but they have the one cow to give milk to moisten their bit.  Ha—­ha—­look again, there she goes off to the pound!  Don’t cry, poor helpless crathers; but how can you help cryin’ when your poor mother’s cryin’.  That’s a bitther thing, too, and it’s on this page—­see—­that—­that—­that’s

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it I’ve between my fingers—­look at it—­’how wet it is wid the poor craythur’s tears; but there’s no blood here—­no, no—­nothing but tears.  Oh, here—­see here—­a page as big as the rest, bat wid nothing on it.  Ay, I know that—­that’s an empty farm that nobody dare take, or woe be to them.  But here—­I seen him “—­here he shuddered strongly—­“I seen him!  His father and mother were both standing undher him—­that was the worst of all.  It’s in this page.  He was only one-and-twenty, and the eyes he had; but how did it happen, that although they hanged him, every one loved him?  I seen his father and the poor mother looking up to the gallows where he stood, and then she fainted, and she then got sick, and poor ould Brian has nobody now but himself; and all that’s on this page.”  Here poor Raymond shed tears, so completely was he overpowered by the force of his own imaginings.  He again proceeded—­“And the poor white-headed son.  What wouldn’t the poor mother give to have his white head to look at? but he will never waken—­he will never waken more.  What’s the name o’ this book?” he inquired of Mr. Lucre.

“My excellent and most intelligent friend,” replied that gentleman, in atone of meekness and humility that would have shamed an apostle; “my most interesting friend, the name of that book in the Bible.”

“The Bible! oh yes; but am I doin’ it right?” he inquired; “am I puttin’ the explanation to it as I ought?  Sure they all oxplain it, and it’s only fair that Raymond should show his larnin’ as well as any of them.  Let us see, then—­murdher and bloodshed, hangin’ and starvin’, huntin’, purshuin, whippin’, cowld and nakedness, hunger and sickness, death and then madness, and then death agin, and then damnation!  Did I explain it?”

“Perfectly, my friend—­nothing can do better.”

“Well, then, think of it; but these aren’t my explanations—­but I know who puts them to that bad book!  Don’t they take all I said out of it?  They do; and, sure, don’t you see the poor people’s blood, and tears, and everything upon it; sure all I said is in it.  Here,” he exclaimed, shuddering, “take it away, or may be it’ll make me as wicked as the rest of you.  But, after all, maybe it’s not the fault of the book, but of the people.”  It would indeed be difficult to find a more frightful comment upon the crimes and atrocities which have been perpetrated in this divided country, in the name, and under the character of religion, than that which issued, with a kind of methodical incoherency, from the lips of Raymond-na-hattha.  When he had concluded, Mr. Lucre, having first wiped the big drops of perspiration from his forehead, politely asked him if there was anything he could do for him.

“Oh, ay,” said he; “but first bring me a lump of good mate, and a quart of portlier.”

“You shall have it, my excellent friend.  John, ring the bell.  You are a very interesting person, Mr.—­Mr.—­

Raymond-na-hattha, sir.”

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“Mr. Raiment—­very interesting, indeed. (Good God! am I to run the risk of being-strangled in my own house by a madman!) Oh—­here, Alick; bring up some cold meat and a bottle of porter.  Anything to make you comfortable, my good sir.”

“I only want to see if all’s right, sir,” said Raymond, “and I’ll tell you by and by.”  This was followed by a look of most pitiable distress from Lucre to his servant, John.

Raymond no sooner saw the cold beef and bread laid down, together with a bottle of porter, than he commenced an exhibition, which first, awoke Mr. Lucre’s astonishment, next his admiration, and lastly his envy.  Raymond’s performance, however, was of that rare description which loses by too frequent practice, and is only seen to advantage when the opportunities for exhibition are few.  Three mortal pounds having at length disappeared, together with the greater part of a quartern loaf, and two bottles of porter, for Raymond had made bold to call for a second, he now wiped his mouth with the cuff of his coat first, and afterwards, by way of a more delicate touch, with the gathered palm of his hand; then, looking at Mr. Lucre, who sat perspiring with terror in his gorgeous easy chair, our readers may judge of the ease it just then communicated to that reverend gentleman, when he said, “It’s all right enough, sir.”

“I’m delighted to hear it,” replied Mr. Lucre, applying the sudariolum once more with a very nervous and quivering hand to his forehead: 

“Is there anything else in which I can serve you, my good sir?”

[Illustration:  PAGE 231—­ Borrow the loan of your religion]

“Yes, there is—­all’s right, I’ve now made the thrial, and it will do—­I want to borrow the loan of your religion till the new praties comes in.”

“You shall have it, my worthy sir—­you shall have it, with very great pleasure.”

“The raison why I came to you for it,” said Raymond, who, evidently in this joke, had been put up by some one, “was bekaise I was tould that it’s as good as new with you—­’seldom used lasts long,’ you know—­but, such as it is, I’ll borry it for—­ah, there now, that’s one; all right, all right,” pointing to the fragments of the meat and bread—­“I wouldn’t ax betther; so, till the praties comes in, mind I’ll take care of it; and, if I don’t bring it back safe, I’ll bring you a betther one in it’s place.”  He then nodded familiarly to Mr. Lucre, and left the house.  The latter felt as if he breathed new life once more, but he could not so readily pardon the man for admitting him.

“What is the reason, sir,” he asked, his face reddening, “that you suffered that formidable madman to get into the house?”

“Why, sir,” replied the porter, “when I opened the door, he shot in like a bolt; and, as for preventing him after that, if I had attempted it, he’d have had me in fragments long ago.  When he’s not opposed, sir, or crossed, he’s quiet as a lamb, and wouldn’t hurt a child; but, if he’s vexed, and won’t get his own way, why ten men wouldn’t stand him.”

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“Take care that he shall never be admitted here again,” said his master; “I really am quite disturbed and nervous by his conduct and language, which are perfectly unintelligible.  Indeed I am absolutely unwell—­the shock was awful, and to occur on such a day, too—­I fear my appetite will be very much affected by it—­a circumstance which would be distressing beyond belief.  Stop—­perhaps it is not yet too late—­ask Francis is the venison down, and, if not, desire him not to dress it to-day—­I am out of appetite, say.”

John went, and in a couple of minutes returned, “Francis says it’s down, sir, for some time,” replied the man, “and that it must be dressed to-day, otherwise it will be spoiled.”

“And this is owing to you, you scoundrel,” said his master in a rage, “owing to your neglect and carlessness—­but there is no placing dependence upon one of you.  See, you rascal, the position in which I am—­here is a delicious haunch of venison for dinner, and now I am so much agitated and out of order that my appetite will be quite gone, and it will be eaten by others before my face, while I cannot touch it.  For a very trifle I would this moment discharge you from my service, and without a character too.”

“I am very sorry, sir, but the truth—­”

“Begone, you scoundrel, and leave the room, or I shall use the horse-whip to you.”

John disappeared, and this great and zealous prop of Protestantism walked to and fro his study, almost gnashing his teeth from the apprehension of not having an appetite for the haunch of venison.

CHAPTER XIII.—­Darby’s Brief Retirement from Public Life.

—­A Controversial Discussion, together with the Virtues it Produced

Our readers may recollect that Darby in his pleasant dialogue with Father M’Cabe, alluded to a man named Bob Beatty, as a person afflicted with epilepsy.  It was then reported that the priest had miraculously cured him of that complaint; but, whether he had or not, one thing, at least, was certain, that he became a Roman Catholic, and went regularly to mass.  He had been, in fact, exceedingly notorious for his violence as an Orangeman, and was what the people then termed a blood-hound, and the son of a man who had earned an unenviable reputation as a Tory hunter; which means a person who devoted the whole energies of his life, and brought all the rancour of a religious hatred to the task of pursuing and capturing such unfortunate Catholics as came within grasp of penal laws.  Beatty, like all converts, the moment he embraced the Roman Catholic creed, became a most outrageous opponent to the principles of Protestantism.  Every Orangeman and Protestant must be damned, and it stood to reason they should, for didn’t they oppose the Pope?  Bob, then, was an especial protege of Father M’Cabe’s, who, on his part, had very little to complain of his convert, unless it might be the difficulty of overcoming a habit of strong

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swearing which had brought itself so closely into his conversation, that he must either remain altogether silent, or let fly the oaths.  Another slight weakness, which was rather annoying to the priest too, consisted in a habit Bob had, when any way affected with liquor, of drinking in the very fervor of his new-born zeal, that celebrated old toast, “to hell with the Pope!” These, however, were but mere specks, and would be removed in time, by inducing better habits.  Now, it so happened, that on the day in question, Bob was wending his way to Father M’Cabe’s, to communicate some matter connected with his religious feelings, and to ask his advice and opinion.

“How confoundedly blind the world is,” thought Bob, “not to see that Popery—­” he never called it anything else—­“is the true faith!  Curse me but Priest M’Cabe is a famous fellow!—­Zounds, what an Orangeman he would make!—­he’s just the cut for it, an’ it’s a thousand pities he’s not one—­but!—­what the hell am I sayin?’ They say he’s cross and ill-tempered, but I deny it—­isn’t he patient, except when in a passion? and never in a passion unless when provoked; what the d—­l more would they have?  I know I let fly an oath myself of an odd time (every third word, good reader), but, then, sure the faith is never injured by the vessel that contains it.  Begad, but I’m sorry for my father, though, for, as there’s no salvation out o’ Popery, the devil of it is, that he’s lost beyond purchase.”

In such eccentric speculations did Bob amuse himself, until, in consequence of the rapid pace at which he went, he overtook a fellow-traveller, who turned out to be no other than our friend Darby O’Drive.  There was, in fact, considering the peculiar character of these two converts, something irresistibly comic in this encounter.  Bob knew little or nothing of the Roman Catholic creed; and, as for Darby, we need not say that he was thoroughly ignorant of Protestantism.  Yet, nothing could be more certain—­if one could judge by the fierce controversial cock of Bob’s hat, and the sneering contemptuous expression of Darby’s face, that a hard battle, touching the safest way of salvation, was about to be fought between them.

Bob, indeed, had of late been anxious to meet Darby, in order, as he said, to make him “show the cloven foot, the rascal;” but Darby’s ire against the priest was now up; and besides, he reflected that a display of some kind would recommend him to the Reformationists, especially, he hoped, to Mr. Lucre, who, he was resolved, should hear it.  The two converts looked at each other with no charitable aspect.  Darby was about to speak, but Bob, who thought there was not a moment to be lost, gave him a controversial facer before he had time to utter a word:—­“How many articles in your church?”

[Illustration:  PAGE 233—­ How many articles in your church?]

“How many articles in my church!  There’s one bad one in your church more than ought to be in it, since they got you:—­but can you tell me how many sins cry to heaven for vengeance on you, you poor lost hathen?”

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“Don’t hathen me, you had betther; but answer my question, you rascally heretic.”

“Heretic inagh! oh, thin, is it from a barefaced idolather like you that we hear heretic called to us!  Faith, it’s come to a purty time o’ day wid us!”

“You’re a blessed convart not to know the Forty-nine articles of your fat establishment!”

“And I’ll hould a wager that you don’t know this minute how many saikerments in your idolathry.  Oh, what a swaggerin’ Catholic you are, you poor hair-brained blackguard!”

“I believe you found some convincin’ texts in the big purse of the Bible blackguards—­do you smell that, Darby?”

“You have a full purse, they say, but, by the time Father M’Cabe takes the price of your trangressions out of it—­as he won’t fail to do—­take my word for it, it’ll be as lank as a stocking without a leg in it—­do you smell that, Bob ahagur?”

“Where was your church before the Reformation?”

“Where was your face before it was washed?”

“Do you know the four pillars that your Church rests upon? because if you don’t, I’LL tell you—­it was Harry the aigth, Martin Luther, the Law, and the Devil.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Ah, what a purty boy you are, and what a deludin’ face you’ve got.”

“So the priest’s doin’ you—­he’s the man can pluck a fat goose, Bob.”

“Don’t talk of pluckin’ geese—­you have taken some feathers out o’ the Bible blades, to all accounts.  How do you expect to be saved by joining an open heresy?”

“Whisht, you hathen, that has taken to idolathry bekase Father M’Cabe made an ass of you by a thrick that every one knows.  But I tell you to your brazen face, that you’ll be worse yet than ever you were.”

“You disgraced your family by turnin’ apostate, and we know what for.  Little Solomon, the greatest rogue unhanged, gave you the only grace you got or ever will get.”

“Why, you poor turncoat, isn’t the whole country laughin’ at you, and none more than your own friends.  The great fightin’ Orangeman and blood-hound turned voteen!—­oh, are we alive afther that!”

“The blaggard bailiff and swindler turned swadler, hopin’ to get a fatter cut from the Bible blades, oh!”

“Have you your bades about you? if you have, I’ll throuble you to give us a touch of your Padareen Partha.  Orange Bob at his Padareen Partha! ha, ha, ha.”

“You know much about Protestantism.  Blow me, but it’s a sin to see such a knavish scoundrel professing it.”

“It’s a greater sin, you Orange omad-hawn, to see the likes o’ you disgracin’ the bades an’ the blessed religion you tuck an you.”

“You were no disgrace, then, to the one you left; but you are a burnin’ scandal to the one you joined, and they ought to kick you out of it.”

In fact, both converts, in the bitterness of their hatred, were beginning to forget the new characters they had to support, and to glide back unconsciously, or we should rather say, by the force of conscience, to their original creeds.

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“If Father M’Cabe was wise he’d send you to the heretics again.”

“If the Protestants regarded their own character, and the decency of their religion, they’d send you back to your cursed Popery again.”

“It’s no beef atin’ creed, anyway,” said Darby, who had, without knowing it, become once more a staunch Papist, “ours isn’t.”

“It’s one of knavery and roguery,” replied Bob, “sure devil a thing one of you knows only to believe in your Pope.”

“You had betther not abuse the Pope,” said Darby, “for fraid I’d give you a touch o’ your ould complaint, the fallin’ sickness, you know, wid my fist.”

“Two could play at that game, Darby, and I say, to hell with him—­and the priests are all knaves and rogues, every one of them.”

“Are they, faith,” said Darby, “here’s an answer for that, anyhow.”

“Text for text, you Popish rascal.”

A fierce battle took place on the open highway, which was fought with intense’ bitterness on both sides.  The contest, which was pretty equal, might, however, have been terminated by the defeat of one of them, had they been permitted to fight without support on either side; this, however, was not to be.  A tolerably large crowd, composed of an equal number of Catholics and Protestants, collected from the adjoining fields, where they had been at labor, immediately joined them.  Their appearance, unhappily, had only the effect of renewing the battle.  The Catholics, ignorant of the turn which the controversy had taken, supported Bob and Protestantism; whilst the Protestants, owing to a similar mistake, fought like devils for Darby and the Pope.  A pretty smart skirmish, in fact, which lasted more than twenty minutes, took place between the parties, and were it not that their wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers, assisted by many who were more peaceably disposed, threw themselves between them, it might have been much more serious than it was.  If the weapons of warfare ceased, however, so did not their tongues; there was abundance of rustic controversy exchanged between them, that is to say, polemical scurrility much of the same enlightened character as that in the preceding dialogue.  The fact of the two parties, too, that came to their assistance, having mistaken the proper grounds of the quarrel, reduced Darby and Bob to the necessity of retracing their steps, and hoisting once more their new colors, otherwise their respective friends, had they discovered the blunder they had committed, would, unquestionably, have fought the battle a second time on its proper merits.  Bob, escorted by his Catholic friends, who shouted and huzza’d as they went along, proceeded to Father M’Cabe’s; whilst Darby and his adherents, following their example, went towards M’Clutchy’s, and having left him within sight of Constitution Cottage, they returned to their labor.

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We have already said, that neither M’Clutchy nor M’Slime was at all a favorite with Darby.  Darby was naturally as avaricious, and griping, and oppressive as either of them; and as he was the principal instrument of their rapacity and extortion, he deemed it but fair and just that they should leave him at least a reasonable share of their iniquitous gains.  They were not, however, the gentlemen to leave much behind them, and the upshot was, that Darby became not only highly dissatisfied at their conduct towards him, but jealous and vigilant of all their movements, and determined to watch an opportunity of getting them both into his power.  M’Slime’s trick about M’Clutchy’s letter first awoke his suspicions, and the reader is already acquainted with the dexterous piece of piety by which he secured it.  Both letters now were in his possession, or at least in a safe place; but as he had not yet read them, he did not exactly know what line of conduct or deportment to assume.  Then, how face M’Clutchy without M’Slime’s answer?  Darby, however, was fertile, and precisely the kind of man who could, as they sav, kill two birds with one stone.  He had it;—. just the very thing that would serve every purpose.  Accordingly, instead of going to M’Clutchy’s at all, he turned his steps to his own house; tied an old stocking around his head, got his face bandaged, and deliberately took to his bed in a very severe state of illness.  And, indeed, to tell the truth, a day or two in bed was not calculated to do him the least harm, but a great deal of good; for what, between the united contributions of Father M’Cabe and Bob Beatty, he was by no means an unfit subject for the enjoyment of a few days’ retirement from public life.

CHAPTER XIV.—­Poll Doolin’s Honesty, and Phil’s Gallantry

—­A Beautiful but Cowardly Method of Destroying Female Reputation.—­A Domiciliary Visit from the Blood-hounds—­Irresponsible Power

At length the hour of Mary M’Loughlin’s appointment with Phil arrived, and the poor girl found herself so completely divided between the contending principles of love for Harman and aversion towards Phil, that she scarcely knew the purport of her thoughts or actions.  Harman’s safety, however, was the predominant idea in her soul, and in order to effect that, or at least to leave nothing undone to effect it, she resolved, as pure and disinterested attachment always will do—­to sacrifice her detestation for young M’Clutchy, so far as to give him an opportunity of satisfying her that he was sincere in wishing to save her lover.  This setting aside her invincible and instinctive hatred of that worthy gentleman, was, she thought, not at least unreasonable, and with her mind thus regulated she accordingly awaited the appointed time.  On reaching the back of her father’s garden she found that Phil had not arrived, but somewhat to her relief she was accosted by Poll Doolin, who approached from a clump of trees that stood in deep and impenetrable shadow, whilst she and Poll were easily visible under the dim light of what is called a watery and cloudy moon.

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Poll, as she addressed her, spoke eagerly, and her voice trembled with what appeared to Mary to be deep and earnest agitation.

“Miss M’Loughlin,” she exclaimed, in a low, but tremulous voice, “I now forgive your father all—­I forgive him and his—­you need not forgive, for I never bore you ill-will—­but I am bound to tell you that there’s danger over your father’s house and hearth this night.  There is but one can save them, and he will.  You must go into your own room, raise the window, and he will soon be there.”

“What is that, Poll,” said Mary, seriously alarmed, “I thought I heard the sound of low voices among the trees there.  Who are they, or what is it?”

“Make haste,” said Poll, leading the way, “go round to your room and come to the window.  It’s an awful business—­there is people there in the clump—­be quick, and when you come to the window raise it, and I’ll tell you more through it.”

Mary, in a state of great terror, felt that ignorant as she was of the dangers and difficulties by which she was surrounded, she had no other alternative than to be guided by Poll, who seemed to know the full extent of the mysterious circumstances to which she made such wild and startling allusions.

Poll immediately proceeded to Miss M’Loughlin’s bed-room, the window of which was soon opened by Mary herself, who with trembling hands raised it no higher than merely to allow the necessary communication between them.

“You don’t know, nor could you never suspect,” said Poll, “the struggles that Misther Phil is makin’ for you and yours.  This night, maybe this hour, will show his friendship for your family.  And now, Mary M’Loughlin, if you wish to have yourself and them safe—­safe, I say, from his own father’s blood-hounds,” and this she hissed into her ear, squeezing her hand at the same time until it became painful—­in a voice so low, earnest, and condensed, that it was scarcely in human nature to question the woman’s sincerity; “if,” she continued, “you wish to have them safe—­and Harman safe, be guided by him, and let him manage it his own way.  He will ask you to do nothing that is wrong or improper in itself; but as you love your own family—­as you value Harman’s life—­let him act according to his own way, for he knows them he has to deal with best.”

“Wo—­wo—­heavy and bitter betide you, Poll Doolin, if you are now deceiving me, or prompting mo to do anything that is improper!  I will not act in this business blindfold—­neither I nor my family are conscious of evil, and I shall certainly acquaint them this moment with the danger that is over them.”

“By the souls of the dead,” replied Poll, uttering the oath in Irish, “if you do what you say there will be blood shed this night—­the blood, too, of the nearest and dearest to you!  Do not be mad, I say, do not be mad!”

“May God guide me?” exclaimed the distressed girl, bursting into tears; “for of myself I know not how to act.”

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“Be guided by Mr. Phil,” said she; “he is the only man living that can prevent the damnable work that is designed against your family this night.”

She had scarcely uttered the words when Phil came breathless to the window, and, as if moved by a sense of alarm, and an apprehension of danger still greater than that expressed by Poll herself, he exclaimed—­

“Miss M’Loughlin, it’s no time for ceremony—­my father’s blood-hounds are at your father’s door; and there is but one way of saving your family from violence and outrage.  Excuse me—­but I must pass in by this window.  You don’t know what I risk by it; but for your sake and theirs it must be done.”

Even as he spake, the trampling of horses feet and the jingling of arms were distinctly heard at M’Loughlin.’s door—­a circumstance which so completely paralyzed the distracted girl, that she became perfectly powerless with affright.  Phil availed himself of the moment, put his hand to the window, which he raised up, and deliberately entered, after which he shut it down.  Poll, while he did so, coughed aloud, as if giving a signal; and in an instant, a number of individuals mostly females, approached the window, near enough to see young M’Clutchy enter, and shut the window after him.

“Now,” said Poll to the spectators, “I hope you’re all satisfied; and you, James Harman, will believe your own eyes, if you don’t Poll Doolin.  Is that girl a fit wife for your cousin, do you think?  Well, you’re satisfied, are you?  Go home now, and help forrid the match, if you can.  You’re a good witness of her conduct, at any rate.”

“I did not believe you, Poll,” replied the young man whom she addressed; “but unfortunately I am now satisfied, sure enough.  My own eyes cannot deceive me.  Lost and unhappy girl! what will become of her?  But that’s not all—­for she has proved herself treacherous, and deceitful, and worthless.”

“Ay,” said the crones whom Poll had brought to witness what certainly seemed to them to be the innocent girl’s shame and degradation—­“ay,” they observed, “there’s now an end to her character, at any rate.  The pride of the M’Loughlins has got a fall at last—­and indeed they desarved it; for they held their heads as upsettin’ as if they were dacent Protestants, and them nothing but Papishes affeher all.”

“Go home, now,” said Poll; “go home all of yez.  You’ve seen enough, and too much.  Throth I’m sorry for the girl, and did all I could, to persuade her against the step she tuck; but it was no use—­she was more like one that tuck love powdhers from him, than a raisonable bein’.”

Harman’s cousin had already departed, but in such a state of amazement, indignation, and disgust, that he felt himself incapable of continuing a conversation with any one, or of bestowing his attention upon any other topic whatsoever.  He was thunderstruck—­his very faculties were nearly paralyzed, and his whole mind literally clouded in one dark chaos of confusion and distress.

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“Now,” said Poll to the females who accompanied her—­“go home every one of yez; but, for goodness sake don’t be spakin’ of what you seen this night.  The poor girl’s correcther’s gone, sure enough; but for all that, let us have nothing to say to her or Mr. Phil.  It’ll all come out time enough, and more than time enough, without our help; so, as I said, hould a hard cheek about it.  Indeed it’s the safest way to do so—­for the same M’Loughlins is a dangerous and bitther faction to make or meddle with.  Go off now, in the name of goodness, and say nothin’ to nobody—­barring, indeed, to some one that won’t carry it farther.”

Whilst this dialogue, which did not occupy more than a couple of minutes, was proceeding, a scene of a different character took place in M’Loughlin’s parlor, upon a topic which, at that period, was a very plausible pretext for much brutal outrage and violence on the part of the Orange yeomanry—­we mean the possession, or the imputed possession, of fire-arms.  Indeed the state of society in a great part of Ireland—­shortly after the rebellion of ninety-eight—­was then such as a modern conservative would blush for.  An Orangeman, who may have happened to entertain a pique against a Roman Catholic, or sustained an injury from one, had nothing more to do than send abroad, or get some one to send abroad for him, a report that he had fire-arms in his possession.  No sooner had this rumor spread, than a party of these yeomanry assembled in their regimentals, and with loaded fire-arms, proceeded, generally in the middle of the night or about day-break, to the residence of the suspected person.  The door, if not immediately opened, was broken in—­the whole house ransacked—­the men frequently beaten severely, and the ears of females insulted by the coarsest and most indecent language.

These scenes, which in nineteen cases out of twenty, the Orangemen got up to gratify private hatred and malignity, were very frequent, and may show us the danger of any government entrusting power, in whatever shape, or arms or ammunition, to irresponsible hands, or subjecting one party to the fierce passions and bigoted impulses of another.

The noise of their horses’ feet as they approached M’Loughlin’s house in a gallop, alarmed that family, who knew at once that it was a domiciliary visit from M’Clutchy’s cavalry.

“Raise the window,” said M’Loughlin himself, “and ask them what they want—­or stay, open the door,” he added at the same time to another, “and do not let us give them an excuse for breaking it in.  It’s the blood-hounds, sure enough,” observed he, “and here they are.”

In a moment they were dismounted, and having found the hall door open, the parlor was crowded with armed men, who manifested all the overbearing insolence and wanton insult of those who know that they can do so with impunity.

“Come, M’Loughlin,” said Cochrane, now their leader, “you ribelly Papish rascal, produce your arms—­for we have been informed that you have arms consaled in the house.”

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“Pray who informed you, Mr. Cochrane?”

“That’s not your business, my man,” replied Cochrane, “out with them before we search.”

“I’ll tell you what, Cochrane,” replied M’Loughlin, “whoever informed you that we have arms is a liar—­we have no arms.”

“And right well they know that,” said his son, “it’s not for arms they come, but it’s a good excuse to insult the family.”

His father (who, on looking more closely at them, now perceived that they were tipsy, and some of them quite drunk) though a man of singular intrepidity, deemed it the wisest and safest course to speak to them as civilly as possible.

“I did’nt think, Tom Cochrane,” said he, “that either I or any of my family, deserved such a visit as this from, I may say, my own door neighbors.  It’s not over civil, I think, to come in this manner, disturbing a quiet and inoffensive family.”

“What’s the ribelly rascal sayin’?” asked a drunken fellow, who lurched across the floor, and would have fallen, had he not come in contact with a chest of drawers, “what, wha-at’s he say-ayin? but I sa-ay here’s to hell with the Po-po-pope—­hurra!”

“Ah?” said young M’Loughlin, “you have the ball at your own foot now, but if we were man to man, with equal weapons, there would be none of this swagger.”

“What’s tha-at the young rible says,” said ’the drunken fellow, deliberately covering him with his cavalry pistol—­“another word, and I’ll let day-light through you.”

“Come, Burke,” said a man named Irwin, throwing up the muzzle of the pistol, “none o’ this work, you drunken brute.  Don’t be alarmed, M’Loughlin, you shan’t be injured.”

“Go go to h—­l, George, I’ll do what I—­I li-like; sure ’all these ribels ha-hate King William that sa-saved us from brass money a-and wooden noggins—­eh, stay, shoes it is; no matter, they ought to be brogues I think, for it—­it’s brogues—­ay, brogues, the papish—­it is, by hell, ‘brogues and broghans an’ a’ the Pa-papishes wear—­that saved us from bra-brass money, an—­and wooden brogues, that’s it—­for dam-damme if ever the Papishers was da-dacent enough to wear brass shoes, never, by jingo; so, boys, it’s brass brogues—­ay, do they ha-hate King William, that put us in the pil-pillory, the pillory in hell, and the devils pel-peltin’ us with priests,—­hurra boys, recover arms—­stand at aise—­ha—­ram down Catholics—­hurra!”

“Mr. M’Loughlin—­”

“Mislher M’Loughlin! ay, there’s respect for a Pa-pish, an’ from a purple man, too!”

“You had better be quiet, Burke,” retorted Irwin, who was a determined and powerful man.

“For God’s sake, gentlemen,” said Mrs. M’Loughlin, “do not disturb or alarm our family—­you are at liberty to search the house, but, as God is above us, we have no arms of any kind, and consequently there can be none in the house.”

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“Don’t believe her,” said Burke, “she’s Papish—­” He had not time to add the offensive epithet, what ever it might have been, for Irwin—­who, in truth, accompanied the party with the special intention of repressing outrage against the M’Loughlins whom he very much respected—­having caught him by the neck, shook the words back again, as it were, into his very throat.  “You ill-tongued drunken ruffian,” said he, “if you don’t hold your scoundrell tongue, I’ll pitch you head foremost out of the house.  We must search, Mrs. M’Loughlin,” said Irwin, “but it will be done as quietly as possible.”

They then proceeded through all the rooms, into which, singular as it may appear, they scarcely looked, until they came into that in which we left Mary M’Loughlin and Phil.  The moment this worthy gentleman heard their approach, he immediately shut the door, and, with all the seeming trepidation and anxiety of a man who feared discover bustled about, and made a show of preparing to resist their entrance.  On coming to the door, therefore, they found it shut, and everything apparently silent within.

“Open the door,” said Irwin, “we want to search for arms.”

“Ah! boys,” said Phil in a whisper through he key-hole, “pass on if you love me—­I give you my word of honor that there’s no arms here but a brace that is worth any money to be locked in.”

“We must open, Mr. Phil,” said Sharpe, “you know our ordhers.  By Japurs,” said he, in a side voice to the rest, “the fellow wasn’t boastin’ at all; it’s true enough—­I’ll uould goold he was right, and that we’ll find her inside with him.”

“When I see it, I’ll believe it,” said Irwin, but not till then.  Open, sir,” said he, “open, if all’s right.”

“Oh, d—­n it, boys,” said Phil again, “this is too bad—­honor bright:—­surely you wouldn’t expose us, especially the girl.”  At the same time he withdrew his shoulder from the door, which flew open, and discovered him striving to soothe and console Miss M’Loughlin, who had not yet recovered her alarm and agitation, so as to understand the circumstances which took place about her.  In fact, she had been in that description of excitement which, without taking away animation, leaves the female (for it is peculiar to the sex) utterly incapable of taking anything more than a vague cognizance of that which occurs before her eyes.  The moment she and Phil were discovered together, not all Irwin’s influence could prevent the party from indulging in a shout of triumph.  This startled her, and was, indeed, the means of restoring her to perfect consciousness, and a full perception of her situation.

“What is this?” she inquired, “and why is it that a peaceable house is filled with armed men? and you, Mr. M’Clutchy, for what treacherous purpose did you intrude into my private room?”

M’Loughlin. himself, from a natural dread of collision between his sons and the licentious yeomanry, and trusting to the friendship and steadiness of Irwin, literally stood sentinel at the parlor door, and prevented them from accompanying the others in the search.

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“My darling Mary,” said Phil, “it’s too late now, you see, to speak in this tone—­we’re caught, that’s all, found out, and be cursed to these fellows.  If they had found us anywhere else but in your bed-room, I didn’t so much care; however, it can’t be helped now.”

As he spoke he raised his eye-brows from time to time at his companions, and winked with an expression of triumph so cowardly and diabolical, that it is quite beyond our ability to describe it.  They, in the meantime, winked and nodded in return, laughed heartily, and poked one another in the ribs.

“Bravo, Mr. Phil!—­success, Captain!—­more power to you!”

“Come now, boys,” said Phil, “let us go.  Mary, my darling, I must leave you; but we’ll meet again where they can’t disturb us—­stand around me, boys, for, upon my honor and soul, these hot-headed fellows of brothers of hers will knock my brain’s out, if you don’t guard me well; here, put me in the middle of you—­good by, Mary, never mind this, we’ll meet again.”

However anxious M’Loughlin had been to prevent the possibility of angry words or blows between his sons and these men still the extraordinary yell which accompanied the discovery of young M’Clutchy in his daughter’s bedroom, occasioned him to relax his vigilance, and rush to the spot, after having warned and urged them to remain where they were.  Notwithstanding his remonstrances, they followed his footsteps, and the whole family, in fact, reached her door as Phil uttered the last words.

“Great God, what is this,” exclaimed her father, “how came M’Clutchy, Val the Vulture’s son, into my daughter’s sleeping-room?  How came you here, sir?” he added sternly, “explain it.”

Not even a posse of eighteen armed men, standing in a circle about him, each with a cocked and loaded pistol in his hand, could prevent the cowardly and craven soul of him from quailing before the eye of her indignant father.  His face became like a sheet of paper, perfectly bloodless, and his eye sank as if it were never again to look from the earth, or in the direction of the blessed light of heaven.

“Ah!” he proceeded, “you are, indeed, your treacherous, cowardly, and cruel father’s son; you cannot raise your eye upon me, and neither could he.  Mary,” he proceeded, addressing his daughter, “how did this treacherous scoundrel get into your room? tell the truth—­but that I need not add, for I know you will.”

His daughter had been standing for some time in a posture that betrayed neither terror nor apprehension.  Raised to her full height, she looked upon M’Clutchy and his men alternately, but principally upon himself, with a smile which in truth was fearful.  Her eyes brightened into clear and perfect fire, the roundness of her beautiful arm was distended by the coming forth of its muscles—­her lips became firm—­her cheek heightened in color—­and her temples were little less than scarlet.  There she stood, a concentration of scorn, contempt, and hatred the most intense, pouring upon the dastardly villain an unbroken stream of withering fury, that was enough to drive back his cowardly soul into the deepest and blackest recesses of its own satanic baseness.  Her father, in fact, was obliged to address her twice, before he could arrest her attention; for such was the measureless indignation which her eye poured upon him, that she could scarcely look upon any other object.

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“My child, did you hear me?” said her father.  “How did this heartless and down-looking scoundrel get into your apartment?”

She looked quickly upon her father’s features—­

“How?” said she; “how but by treachery, falsehood, and fraud!  Is he not Val M’Clutchy’s son, my dear father?”

Her brothers had not yet uttered a syllable, but stood like their sister with flushed cheeks and burning indignation in their eyes.  On hearing what their sister had just said, however, as if they had all been moved by the same impulse, thought, or determination—­as in truth they were—­their countenances became pale as death—­they looked at each other significantly—­then at Phil—­and they appeared very calm, as if relieved—­satisfied; but the expression of the eye darkened into a meaning that was dreadful to look upon.

“That is enough, my child,” replied her father; “I suppose, my friends, you are now satisfied—.”

“Yes, by h—­l,” shouted Burke, “we are now satisfied.”

Irwin had him again by the neck—­“Silence,” said he, “or, as heaven’s above mo, I’ll drive your brainless skull in with the butt of my pistol.”

“You are satisfied,” continued M’Loughlin, “that there are no arms here.  I hope you will now withdraw.  As for you, treacherous and cowardly spawn of a treacherous and cowardly father, go home and tell him to do his worst.—­that I scorn and defy him—­that I will live to see him——­; but I am wrong,he is below our anger, and I will not waste words upon him.”

“You will find you have used a thrifle too many for all that,” said another of them; “when he hears them, you may be sure he’ll put them in his pocket for you—­as hear them he will.”

“We don’t care a d—­n,” said another, “what he does to blackguard Papishes, so long as he’s a right good Orangeman, and a right good Protestant, too.”

“Come now,” said Irwin, “our duty is over—­let us start for home; we have no further business here.”

“Won’t you give us something to drink?” asked a new voice; “I think we desarve it for our civility.  We neither broke doors nor furniture, nor stabbed either bed or bed-clothes.  We treated you well, and if you’re dacent you’ll treat us well.”

“Confound him,” said a fresh hand; “I’d not drink his cursed Papish whiskey.  Sure the Papishes gets the priest to christen it for them.  I wouldn’t drink his cursed Papish whiskey.”

“No, nor I,” said several voices;—­upon which a loud and angry dispute arose among them, as to whether it were consistent with true loyalty, and the duties of a staunch Protestant and Orangeman, to drink ’Papish liquor,’ as they termed it, at all.

Irwin, who joined the negative party, insisted strongly that it would be disgraceful for any man who had drunk the glorious, pious, and immortal memory, ever to contaminate his loyal lips with whiskey that had been made a Papish of by the priest.  This carried the argument, or otherwise it is hard to say what mischief might have arisen, had they heightened their previous intoxication.

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Phil, during this dialogue, still retained his place in the centre of his friends; but from time to time he kept glancing from under his eyebrows at M’Loughlin and his sons, in that spaniel-like manner, which betrays a consciousness of offence and a dread of punishment.

Irwin now caused them to move off; and, indeed, scarcely anything could be more ludicrous than the utter prostration of all manly feeling upon the part of the chief offender.  On separating, the same baleful and pallid glances were exchanged between the brothers, who clearly possessed an instinctive community of feeling upon the chief incident of the night—­we mean that of finding M’Clutchy in their sister’s bedroom.  Irwin noticed their mute, motionless, but ghastly resentment, as did Phil himself, who, whether they looked at him or not, felt that their eyes were upon him, and that come what might, so long as he remained in the country he was marked as their victim.  This consciousness of his deserts was not at all lessened by the observations of Irwin upon his conduct; for be it known, that although there subsisted a political bond that caused Phil and the violent spirits of the neighborhood to come frequently together, yet nothing could exceed the contempt which they felt for him in his private and individual capacity.

“Brother M’Clutchy,” said Irwin, “I’m afraid you’ve made a bad night’s work of it.  By the moon above us, I wouldn’t take the whole Castle Cumber property and stand in your shoes from this night out.”

“Why so?” said Phil, who was now safe and beyond their immediate reach; “why so, Irwin?  I’ll tell you what, Irwin; d——­ my honor, but I think you’re cowardly.  Did you see how steady I was to-night?  Not a syllable escaped my lips; but, zounds, didn’t you see how my eye told?”

“Faith, I certainly did, brother Phil, and a devilish bad tale it told, too, for yourself.  Your father has promised me a new lease, with your life in it; but after this night, and after what I saw, I’ll beg to have your name left out of that transaction.”

“But didn’t you see, George,” returned Phil, “that a man of them durstn’t look me in the face?  They couldn’t stand my eye; upon my honor they couldn’t.”

“Ay,” said Burke, “that’s because they’re Papishes.  A rascally Papish can never look a Protestant in the face.”

“Well but,” said Phil, “you would not believe that the girl was so fond of me as she is, until you saw it.  I knew very well they had no arms; so, as I wished to give you an opportunity of judging for yourselves, I put the journey upon that footing.”

“Well,” said Irwin, “we shall see the upshot—­that’s all.”

They then escorted Phil home, after which they dispersed.

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When M’Loughlin’s family assembled in the parlor, after their departure, a deep gloom I brooded over them for some minutes.  Mary herself was the first to introduce the incident which gave them so much distress, and in which she herself had been so painfully involved.  She lost not a moment, therefore, in relating fully and candidly the whole nature of her intercourse with Poll Doolin, and the hopes held out to her of Harman’s safety, through Phil M’Clutchy.  At the same time, she expressed in forcible language, the sacrifice of feeling which it had cost her, and the invincible disgust with which she heard his very name alluded to.  She then simply related the circumstance of his entering her room through the open window, and her belief, in consequence of the representations of Poll Doolin, that he did so out of his excessive anxiety to prevent bloodshed by the troopers—­the trampling of whose horses’ feet and the ringing of whose arms had so completely overpowered her with the apprehension of violence, that she became incapable of preventing M’Clutchy’s entrance, or even of uttering a word for two or three minutes.

“However,” said she, “I now see their design, which was to’ ruin my reputation, and throw a stain upon my character and good name.  So far, I fear, they have succeeded.”  Tears then came to her relief, and she wept long and bitterly.

“Do not let it trouble you, my darling,” said her father.  “Your conscience and heart are innocent, and that is a satisfaction greater than anything can deprive you of.  You were merely wrong in not letting us know the conversation that took place between Poll Doolin and you; because, although you did not know it, we could have told you that Poll is a woman that no modest female ought to speak to in a private way.  There was your error, Mary; but the heart was right with you, and there’s no one here going to blame you for a fault that you didn’t know to be one.”

Mary started on hearing this account of Poll Doolin, for she felt now that the interviews she held with her were calculated to heighten her disgrace, when taken in connection with the occurrence of the night.  Her brothers, however, who knew her truth and many virtues, joined their parents in comforting and supporting her, but without the success which they could have wished.  The more she thought of the toils and snares that had been laid for her, the more her perception of the calamity began to gain strength, and her mind to darken.  She became restless, perplexed, and feverish—­her tears ceased to flow—­she sighed deeply, and seemed to sink into that most withering of maladies, dry grief, which, in her case, was certainly the tearless anguish of the heart.  In this state she went to bed, conscious of her own purity, but by no means, in its full extent, of the ruined reputation to which she must awake on the succeeding day.

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Mary’s brothers, with the exception of the words in which they joined their father and mother in consoling her, scarcely uttered a syllable that night—­the same silent spirit, be it of good or evil, remained upon them.  They looked at each other, however, from time to time, and seemed to need no other interpreter of what passed within them, but their own wild and deep-meaning glances.  This did not escape their father, who was so much struck, perhaps alarmed, by it, that he very properly deemed it his duty to remonstrate with them on the subject.

“Boys,” said he, “I don’t understand your conduct this night, and, above all, I don’t understand your looks—­or rather, I think I do, I’m afraid I do—­but, listen to me, remember that revenge belongs to God.  You know what the Scripture says, ’Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it.’  Leave that bad son of a worse father to God.”

“He has destroyed Mary’s reputation,” said John, the eldest; “I might, possibly, forgive him if he had killed her like a common murderer, but he has destroyed our pure-hearted sister’s reputation, ha, ha, ha.”  The laugh that followed these last words came out so unexpectedly, abruptly, and wildly, that his father and mother both started.  He then took the poker in his hands, and, with a smile at his brothers, in which much might be read, he clenched his teeth, and wound it round his arms with apparent ease.  “If I gotten thousand pounds,” said he, “I could not have done that two hours ago, but I can now—­are you satisfied?” said he to his brothers.

“Yes, John,” they replied, “we are satisfied—­that will do.”

“Yes,” he proceeded, “I could forgive anything but that.  The father’s notice to us to quit the holding on which we and our forefathers lived so long, and expended so much money—­and his refusal to grant us a lease, are nothing:—­now we could forgive all that; but this, this—­oh, I have no name for it—­the language has not words to express it—­but—­well, well, no matter for the present.  If the cowardly scoundrel would fight!—­but he won’t, for the courage is not in him.”

CHAPTER XV.—­Objects of an English Traveller

—­Introduction of a New Character—­Correspondence between Evory Easel, Esq., and Sam Spinageberd, Esq.—­Susanna and the Elder; or, the Conventicle in Trouble—­Phils Gallantry and Courage.

It was about eleven o’clock the next day that a person in the garb of a gentleman, that is, the garb was a plain one enough, but the air of the person who wore it was evidently that of a man who had seen and mingled in respectable life, was travelling towards Springfield, the residence of Mr. Hickman, when he overtook two females, one of whom was dressed in such a way as made it clear that she wished to avoid the risk of being known.  She was a little above the middle size, and there could be little doubt, from the outline of her figure, that, in the opinion of

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unsuspicious people, she had reached the dignity of a matron.  Her companion was dressed in faded black, from top to toe, and from the expression of her thin, sallow face, and piercing black eyes, there could be little doubt she had seen a good deal of the world as it exists in rustic life.  The person who overtook these two females carried a portfolio, and appeared to observe the country and its scenery, as he went along with well marked attention.

“Pray, ma’am,” said he, “whose is that fine old building to the right, which appears to be going to ruin?  It is evidently not inhabited.”

“You’re a stranger in the place, then,” replied the female, “or you surely might know Castle Cumber House, where old Tom Topertoe used to live before the union came.  He was made a lord of for sellin’ our parliament, and now his son, the present lord, is leadin’ a blessed life abroad, for he never shows his face here.”

“He is an absentee, then?”

“To be sure he is, and so is every man of them now, barrin’ an odd one.  The country’s deserted, and although business is lookin’ up a little—­take your time, Susanna, we needn’t be in sich a hurry now—­although, as I said, business is lookin’ up a little, still it’s nothing to what it was when the gentry lived at home wid us.”

“Who is agent to this Lord Cumber, pray?”

“A blessed boy, by all accounts, but that’s all I’ll say about him—­I know him too well to make him my enemy.”

“Why, is he not popular—­is he not liked by the tenantry?”

“Oh, Lord, to be sure—­they doat upon him; and, indeed, no wondher, he’s so kind and indulgent to the poor.  To tell you the truth, he’s a great blessin’ to the country.”

“That, to be sure, is very satisfactory—­and, pray, if I may take the liberty, who is his law agent, or has he one?”

“Why, another blessed—­hem—­a very pious devout man, named Mr. Solomon M’Slime, an attorney—­but, indeed, an attorney that almost shames the Bible itself, he’s so religious.  Isn’t he, Susanna?”

“He hath good gifts; if he doth not abuse them.”

“Religion is certainly the best principle in life, if sincerely felt, and not prostituted and made a mask of.”

“A mask! isn’t that, sir, a thing that people put on and off their face, according as it may suit them?”

“Just so, madam; you have exactly described it.”

“Oh, the divil a mask ever he made of it, then, for he never lays it aside at all.  He has kept it on so steadily, that, I’ll take my oath, if he was to throw, it off now, he wouldn’t know himself in the looking-glass, it’s so long since he got a glimpse of his own face.”

“Lord Cumber must be a happy man to have two such valuable agents upon his property.”

“Talkin’ of Lord Cumber and his property, if you wish to know all about them, here’s your man comin’ over by the cross road here—­he’s goin’ to M’Clutchy’s I suppose, and, as you appear to be goin’ in the same direction, I’ll hand you over to him.  Good morrow, Darby?”

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“Good morrow, kindly, Poll, and—­eh—­who’s this you’ve got wid you?” he continued, eyeing Susanna, “a stranger to me, any how.  Well, Poll, and how are you?”

“There’s no use in complainin’, Darby; I’m middlin’—­and how is yourself?”

“Throth, Poll, I’ve a lump in my stomach that I fear will settle me yet, if I don’t get it removed somehow.  But, sure, the hathens, I forgive them.”  In the meantime he slyly rubbed his nose and winked both eyes, as he looked towards Susanna, as much as to say, “I know all.”

Poll, however, declined to notice the recognition, but renewed the discourse—­

“Why, Darby, how did the lump come into your stomach?  Faith, in these hard times, there’s many a poor divel would be glad to have such a complaint—­eh?”

“And, is it possible you didn’t hear it?” he asked with surprise, “howandever, you shall.  I was carrying a letther from Mr. M’Slime, that good, pious crature”—­another shrewd look at Susanna, “Mr. M’Slime to Mr. M’Clutchy, another good gintleman, too, and who should attack me on the way but that turncoat hathen Bob Beatty, wid a whole posse of idolathers at his heels.  They first abused me because I left them in their darkness, and then went to search me for writs, swearin’ that they’d make me ait every writ I happened to have about me.  Now, I didn’t like to let Mr. M’Slime’s letther fall into their hands, and, accordingly, I tore it up and swallowed it, jist in ordher to disappoint the hathens.  Howandever, I’m sufferin’ for it, but sure you know, Poll, it’s our duty—­I don’t mane yours, for you’re a hathen and idolather still—­but mine; it’s my duty to suffer for the thruth, anyhow.”

Poll’s laughter was loud and vehement on hearing these sentiments from a man she knew so well; but, to tell the truth, Darby, who felt that, in consequence of his last interview with Lucre, he was in for it, came to the resolution of doing it heavy, as they say, or, in other words, of going the whole hog.

“This appears to be a strange country, observed the traveller.

“Wait,” said Poll, “till you come to know it, and you’ll say that.”

“No, but wait,” observed Darby, “till the spread comes, and then you may say it.”

“What do you mean by the spread?” asked! the stranger.

“Why, the spread o’ the gospel—­of religion, to be shure,” replied Darby; “and in this counthry,” he added, “a glorious spread it is, the Lord be praised!  Are you travellin far in this direction, sir, wid summission?”

“I am going as far as Springfield, the residence of a Mr. Hickman, to whom I have a letter of introduction.  Do you know him?”

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“He was an agent on this property,” replied Darby; “but Mr. M’Clutchy came afther him; and, indeed, the tenants is mighty well satisfied wid the change.  Hickman, sir, was next to a hathen—­made no differ in life between an idolather and a loyal Protestant, but Mr. M’Clutchy, on the other hand, knows how to lean to his own, as he ought to do.  And in regard o’ that, I’d advise you when you see Mr. Hickman, jist to be on your guard as to what he may say about the Castle Cumber property, and them that’s employed an it.  Between you and me, he’s not over scrupulous, and don’t be surprised if he lays it hot and heavy on Mr. M’Clutchy and others, not forgettin’ your humble sarvant, merely in regard of our honesty and loyalty, for I’m a staunch Protestant, myself, glory be to God, and will support the Castle Cumber inthrest through thick and thin.  Now, sir,” he added, “there’s two ways to Hickman’s; and between you and me agin’ Mr. Hickman is a real gentleman, exceptin’ his little failings about M’Clutchy; but who is widout them?  I dunna, but it would be as well if he had remained agent still; and when you see him, if you happen to say that Darby O’Drive tould you so, I think he’ll understand you.  Well—­there’s two ways, as I said, to this place—­one by this road, that turns to the right—­which, indeed, is the shortest—­the other is by Constitution Cottage, which is M’Clutchy’s place, where I am goin’ to.”

The stranger, after thanking Darby for his information, took the shorter road, and in about an hour or so reached Springfield.

It is not our intention to detail his interview with Mr. Hickman.  For the present it is sufficient to say, that he produced to that gentleman a letter of introduction from Lord Cumber himself, who removed all mystery from about him, by stating that he was an English artist, who came over on a foolish professional tour, to see and take sketches of the country, as it appeared in its scenery, as well as in the features, character, and costume of its inhabitants.  He had also introductions to M’Clutchy, M’Slime, Squire Deaker, M. Lucre, and several other prominent characters of the neighborhood.

As this gentleman amused himself by keeping an accurate and regular journal of all events connected with the Castle Cumber property, or which occurred on it, we feel exceedingly happy in being able to lay these important chronicles before our readers, satisfied as we are, that they will be valued, at least on the other side of the channel, exactly in proportion to the scanty opportunities he had of becoming acquainted with our language, manners, and character.  The MS. is now before us, and the only privilege we reserve to ourselves is simply to give his dialogue an Irish turn, and to fill up an odd chasm here and there, occasioned by his ignorance of circumstances which have come to our knowledge through personal cognizance, and various other sources.  The journal now in our possession is certainly the original one; but we

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know that copies of it were addressed successively, as the events occurred, to a gentleman in London, named Spinageberd, under cover to Lord Cumber himself, who kindly gave them the benefit of his frank, during the correspondence.  Our friend, the journalist, as the reader will perceive, does not merely confine himself to severe facts, but gives us all the hints, innuendoes, and rumors of the day, both personal, religious and political.  With these, our duty is simply to confirm or contradict them where we can, and where we cannot, to leave them just as we found them, resting upon their intrinsic claims to belief or otherwise.  Having premised thus far, we beg leave to introduce to our reader’s special acquaintance, Evory Easel, Esq., an English Artist and Savan, coming to do a portion of the country, ladies and gentleman, as has been often done before.

Batch No.  I. Evory Easel, Esq., to Sam Spinageberd, Esq.

“Old Spinageberd: 

“Here I am at last, in the land of fun and fighting—–­mirth and misery—­orange and green.  I would have written to you a month ago, but, that such a course was altogether out of my calculation.  The moment I arrived, I came to the determination of sauntering quietly about, but confining myself to a certain locality, listening to, and treasuring up, whatever I could see or hear, without yet availing myself of Lord Cumber’s introductions, in order that my first impressions of the country and the people, might result from personal observation, and not from the bias, which accounts heard here from either party, might be apt to produce.  First, then, I can see the folly, not to say the injustice, which I ought to say, of a landlord placing his property under the management of a furious partisan, whose opinions, political and religious are not merely at variance with but, totally opposed to, those whose interests are entrusted to his impartiality and honesty.  In the management of a property circumstanced as that of Castle Cumber is, where the population is about one-half Roman Catholic, and the other half Protestant and Presbyterian, between us, any man, my dear Spinageberd, not a fool or knave, must see the madness of employing a fellow who avows himself an enemy to the creed of one portion of the tenantry, and a staunch supporter of their opponents.  Is this fair, or can justice originate in its purity from such a source?  Is it reasonable to suppose that a Roman Catholic tenantry, who, whatever they may bear, are impatient of any insult or injustice offered to their creed, or, which is the same thing, to themselves on account of that creed,—­is it reasonable, I say, to suppose that such a people could rest satisfied with a man who acts towards them only through the medium of his fierce and ungovernable prejudices?  Is it not absurd to imagine for one moment that property can be fairly administered through such hands, and, if not property, how much less justice itself.  You may judge of my astonishment, as an Englishman, when

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I find that the administration of justice is in complete keeping with that of property; for, I find it an indisputable fact, that nineteen magistrates, out of every twenty, are Orangemen, or party men of some description, opposed to Roman Catholic principles.  And, yet, the Roman Catholic party are expected to exhibit attachment to the government which not merely deprives them of their civil rights, but literally places the execution of the laws in the hands of their worst and bitterest enemies.  I say so deliberately; for I find that nothing so strongly recommends a man to the office of magistrate, or, indeed, to any office under government, as the circumstance of being a strong, conspicuous anti-Catholic.  In writing to you, my dear Spinageberd, you may rest assured that I will give expression to nothing but truths which are too well known to be contradicted.  The subject of property in Ireland, is one, which, inasmuch as it is surrounded with great difficulties, is also entitled to great consideration.

“If there be any one prejudice in the character of an Irish peasant stronger or more dangerous than another—­and he has many, they say, that are both strong and dangerous—­it is that which relates to property and the possession of it.  This prejudice is, indeed, so conscious of its own strength, and imbued in this opinion with so deep a conviction of its justice, that, in ordinary circumstances, it scorns the aid of all collateral and subordinate principles and even flings religion aside, as an unnecessary ally, justice, therefore, or oppression, or partiality in the administration of property, constitutes the greatest crime known to the agrarian law, and is consequently resisted by the most unmitigable and remorseless punishment.  The peasant who feels, or believes himself to be treated with injustice, or cruelty, never pauses to reflect upon the religion of the man whom he looks upon as his oppressor.  He will shoot a Catholic landlord or agent from behind a hedge, with as much good will as he would a Protestant.  Indeed, in general, he will prefer a Protestant landlord to those of his own creed, knowing well, as he does, that the latter, where they are possessed of property, constitute the very worst class of landlords in the kingdom.  As religion, therefore, is not at all necessarily mixed up with the Irishman’s prejudices as this subject—­it is consequently both dangerous and wicked to force it to an adhesion with so dreadful a principle as that which resorts to noon-day or midnight murder.  This is unfortunately what such fellows as this M’Clutchy do.  They find the Irish peasant with but one formidable prejudice in relation to property, and by a course of neglect, oppression, and rapacity, joined to all the malignant rancor of religious bigotry and party feeling, they leave him goaded by a hundred.  I believe in my soul that there are many fire-brands like M’Clutchy in this country, who create the crime, in order to have the gratification of punishing it, and of wreaking

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a legal vengeance upon the unfortunate being who has been guilty of it, in order that they may recommend themselves as loyal men to the government of the day.  If this be so, how can the country be peaceable?  If it be peaceable, such men can have no opportunity of testing their loyalty, and if they do not test their loyalty, they can have no claim upon the government, and having no claim upon the government, they will get nothing from it.  The day will come, I hope, when the very existence of men like these, and of the system which encouraged; them, will be looked upon with disgust and wonder—­when the government of our country will make no invidious distinctions of creed or party, and will not base the administration of its principles upon the encouragement of hatred between man and man.

“Hickman, the former agent, was the first to whom I presented Lord Cumber’s letter.  He is a gentleman by birth, education, and property; a man of a large and a liberal mind, well stored with information and has the character of being highly, if not punctiliously honorable.  His age is about fifty-five, but owing to his regular and temperate habits of life, and in this country temperance is a virtue indeed, he scarcely, looks beyond forty.  Indeed, I may observe by the way, that in this blessed year of ——­, the after-dinner indulgences of the Irish squirearchy, who are the only class that remain in the country, resemble the drunken orgies of Silenus and his satyrs, more than anything else to which I can compare them.  The conversation is in general licentious, and the drinking beastly; and I don’t know after all, but the Irish are greater losers by their example than they would be by their absence.

“On making inquiries into the state and management of this property, I found Hickman actuated by that fine spirit of gentlemanly delicacy, which every one, rich and poor, attribute to him.  M’Clutchy having succeeded him, he very politely declined to enter into the subject at any length, but told me that I could be at no loss in receiving authentic information on a subject so much and so painfully canvassed.  I find it is a custom in this country for agents to lend money to their employers, especially when they happen to be in a state of considerable embarrassment, by which means the unfortunate landlord is seldom able to discharge or change his agent, should he misconduct himself; and is consequently saddled with a vampire probably for life, or while there is any blood to be got out of him.  Hickman, who has other agencies, makes it a point of principle, never to lend money to a landlord, by which means he avoids those imputations which are so frequently and justly brought against those who trade upon the embarrassments of their employers, in order to get them into their power.

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“May 13.—­There are two newspapers in the town of Castle Cumber, conducted upon opposite principles:  one of them is called The Castle Cumber True Blue, and is the organ of the Orange Tory party, and the High Church portion of the Establishment.  The other advocates the cause of the Presbyterians, Dissenters, and gives an occasional lift to the Catholics.  There is also a small party here, which, however, is gaining ground every day, called the Evangelical, an epithet adopted for the purpose of distinguishing them from the mere worldly and political High Churchmen, who, together with all the loyalty and wealth, have certainly all the indifference to religion, and most of the secular and ecclesiastical corruptions that have disgraced the Church, and left it little better than a large mass of bribes in the hands of the English minister.  In such a state of things, you may judge how that rare grace, piety, is rewarded.  There is, besides, no such thing to be found in this country as an Irish bishop, nor, is a bishop ever appointed for his learning or his piety; on the contrary, the unerring principle of their elevation to the mitre, is either political, or family influence, or both.  I wish I could stop here but I cannot; there are, unfortunately, still more flagitious motives for their appointment.  English ministers have been found who were so strongly influenced by respect for the religion and Church Establishment of the Irish, that they have not blushed to promote men, who were the convenient instruments of their own profligacy, to some of the richest sees in the kingdom.  But I am travelling out of my record; so to return.  The name of the second paper is the Genuine Patriot, and Castle Cumber Equivocal; this last journal is, indeed, sorely distressed between the Catholic and Evangelical parties.  The fact is, that the Evangelicals entertain such a horror of Popery, as a spiritual abomination, that they feel highly offended that their advocates should also be the advocate of Old Broadbottom, as the Orangemen call the Pope; in consequence, they say, of his sitting upon seven hills.  The editors of these papers are too decidedly opposed in general, to be on bad terms with each other; or, to speak more intelligibly, they are not on the same side, and consequently do not hate each other as they ought and would.  The town of Castle Cumber, like every other country town, is one mass of active and incessant scandal; and, it not infrequently happens that the True Blue will generously defend an individual on the opposite side, and the Genuine Patriot fight for a High Churchman.  The whole secret of this, however is, that it is the High Churchman who writes in the Patriot, and the Evangelical in the True Blue, each well knowing that a defence by an opposing paper is worth more than one by his favorite organ.  In the instance I am about to specify, however, the case was otherwise, each paper adhering to the individual of his own principles.  On taking up the True Blue I read the following passage, to which I have fortunately obtained a key that will make the whole matter quite intelligible.  The article was headed:—­

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“Susanna and the Elder; or the Conventicle in trouble.

“’For some time past we regret, sincerely regret, as Christian men, that a rumor has, by degrees, been creeping into circulation, which we trust is, like most rumors of the kind, without foundation.  The reputation of a very pious professional gentleman, well known for his zeal and activity in the religious world, is said to be involved in it, but, we trust, untruly.  The gentleman in question, has, we know, many enemies; and we would fain hope, that this is merely some evil device fabricated by the adversaries of piety and religion.  The circumstances alluded to are briefly these:  Susanna, says the evil tongue of rumor, was a religious young person, residing in the character of children’s maid in the family.  She was of decided piety, and never known to be absent from morning and evening worship; it seems, besides, that she is young, comely, and very agreeable, indeed, to the mere, secular eye her symmetry had been remarkable, but indeed female graces are seldom long lived; she is not now, it seems, in the respectable gentleman’s family alluded to, and her friends are anxious to see her, but cannot.  So the idle story goes, but we hesitate not to say that it originates in the vindictive malice of some concealed enemy, who envies the gentleman in question his pure and unsullied reputation.  We would not ourselves advert to it at all, but that we hope it may meet his eye, and prompt him to take the earliest measures to contradict and refute it, as we are certain he will and can do.’

“This was all exceedingly kind, and certainly so very charitable that the Equivocal could not, with any claim to Christian principles, suffer itself to be outdone in that blessed spirit of brotherly love and forgiveness, which, it trusted, always characterized its pages.

“‘We are delighted,’ it said, ’at the mild and benevolent tone in which, under the common misconception, a little anecdote, simple and harmless in itself, was uttered.  Indeed, we smiled—­but we trust the smile was that of a Christian—­on hearing our respected and respectable contemporary doling out the mistake of a child, with such an air of solemn interest in the reputation of a gentleman whose name and character are beyond the reach of either calumny or envy.  The harmless misconception on which, by a chance expression, the silly rumor was founded, is known to all the friends of the gentleman in question.  He himself, however, being one of those deep-feeling Christians, who are not insensible to the means which often resorted to, for wise purposes, in order to try us and prove our faith, is far from looking on the mistake—­as, in the weakness of their own strength, many would as a thing to be despised and contemned.  No; he receives it as a warning, it may be for him to be more preciously alive to his privileges, and to take care when he stands lest he might fall.  Altogether, therefore, he receives this thing as an evidence that he is cared

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for, and that it is his duty to look upon it as an awakening of his, perhaps, too worldly and forgetful spirit, to higher and better duties; and if so, then will it prove a blessing unto him, and will not have been given in vain.  We would not, therefore, be outdone even in charity by our good friend of the True Blue; and we remember that when about six months ago, he was said to have been found in a state scarcely compatible with sobriety, in the channel of Castle Cumber main street, opposite the office door of the Equivocal, on his way home from an Orange lodge, we not only aided him, as was our duty, but we placed the circumstance in its proper light—­a mere giddiness in the head, accompanied by a total prostration of physical strength, to both of which even the most temperate, and sober, are occasionally liable.  The defect of speech, accompanied by a strong tendency to lethargy, we accounted for at the time, by a transient cessation or paralysis of the tongue, and a congestion of blood on the brain, all of which frequently attack persons of the soberest habits.  Others might have said it was intoxication, or drunkenness, and so might his character have been injured; but when his incapacity to stand was placed upon its proper footing, the matter was made perfectly clear, and there was, consequently, no doubt about it.  So easy is it to distort a circumstance, that is harmless and indifferent in itself, into a grievous fault, especially where there is not Christian charity to throw a cloak over it.’

“’Such is a specimen of two paragraphs—­one from each paper; and considering that the subject was a delicate one, and involving; the character of a professor, we think it was as delicately handled on both sides as possible.  I am told it is to be publicly alluded to to-morrow in the congregation of which the subject of it, a Mr. Solomon M’Slime, an attorney, is an elder—­a circumstance which plainly accounts for the heading of the paragraph in the True Blue.

“There were, however, about a week or ten days ago, a couple of paragraphs in the True Blue—­which, by the way, is Mr. M’Clutchy’s favorite paper—­of a very painful description.  There is a highly respectable man here, named M’Loughlin—­and you will please to observe, my dear Spinageberd, that this M’Loughlin is respected and well spoken of by every class and party; remember that, I say.  This man is a partner with a young fellow named Harman, who is also very popular with parties.  Harman, it seems, was present at some scene up in the mountains, where M’Clutchy’s blood-hounds, as they are called, from their ferocity when on duty, had gone to take a man suspected for murder.  At all events, one of the blood-hounds in the straggle—­for they were all armed, as they usually are—­lost his life by the discharge—­said to be accidental, but sworn to be otherwise, before Mr. Magistrate M’Clutchy—­of a loaded carbine.  He was to have been tried at the assizes which have just terminated; but his trial

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has been postponed until the next assizes, it is said for want of sufficient evidence.  Be this as it may, it seems that M’Loughlin’s beautiful daughter was soon to have been married to her father’s young partner, now in prison.  The unfortunate girl, however, manifested the frailty of her sex:  for while her former lover was led to suppose that he possessed all the fulness of her affection, she was literally carrying on a private and guilty intrigue with one of the worst looking scoundrels that ever disgraced humanity—­I mean Phil, as he is called, only son to Valentine M’Clutchy—­who, by the way, goes among the people under the sobriquet of Val the Vulture.  I need not say what the effects of this young woman’s dishonor have produced upon her family.  Young M’Clutchy was seen by several to go into her own apartment, and was actually found striving to conceal himself there by his father’s blood-hounds who had received information that M’Loughlin had fire-arms in his house.  The consequence is, that the girl’s reputation is gone for ever.  ’Tis true the verdict against her is not unanimous.  There is a woman, named Poll Doolin, mentioned, who bears a most unrelenting enmity against M’Loughlin and his family, for having transported one of her sons.  She is said to have been the go-between on this occasion, and that the whole thing is a cowardly and diabolical plot between this Phil—­whom the girl, it seems, refused to marry before—­and herself.  I don’t know how this may be; but the damning fact of this ugly scoundrel having been seen to go into her room, with her own consent, and being found there, attempting to conceal himself, by his father’s cavalry, overweighs, in my opinion, anything that can be said in her favor.  As it is, the family are to be pitied, and she herself, it seems, is confined to her bed with either nervous or brain fever, I don’t know which—­but the disclosure of the intrigue has had such an effect upon her mind, that it is scarcely thought she will recover it.  Every one who knew her is astonished at it; and what adds to the distress of her and her family is, that Harman, whose cousin was an eye-witness to the fact of her receiving Phil into her chamber, has written both to her and them, and that henceforth he renounces her for ever.

“There have also been strong rumors touching the insolvency of the firm of M’Loughlin and Harman, and, it is to be feared, that this untoward exposure will injure them even in a worldly point of view.  In the True Blue there are two paragraphs of the following stamp—­paragraphs that certainly deserve to get the ears of those who either wrote or published them cropped off their heads.

“Unprecedented Feat of Gallantry and Courage!

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“Public rumor has already exonerated us from the delicacy which would otherwise have restrained our pen from alluding to a feat of gallantry and courage performed by a young gentleman who does not live a hundred miles from Constitution Cottage.  It seems that a laison once subsisted between him and a young lady of great personal attractions, and, at that time, supposed (erroneously) to be entitled to a handsome dowry, considering that the fair creature worships at the Mallet Office, and bestows, in the exercise of her usual devotion, some soft blows upon her fair, but not insensible bosom.  Our readers will understand us.  The young gentleman in question, however, hearing that the lady had been recently betrothed to a partner of her father’s, prompted by that spirit of gallant mischief or dare-devilism for which he is so remarkable, did, under very dangerous circumstances, actually renew his intimacy, and had several stolen, and, consequently, sweet meetings with the charming creature.  This, however, reached his father’s ears, who, on proper information, despatched a troop of his own cavalry to bring the young gentleman home—­and so accurate was the intelligence received, that, on reaching her father’s house, they went directly to the young lady’s chamber, from which they led out the object of their search, after several vain but resolute attempts to exclude them from his bower of love.  This unfortunate discovery has occasioned a great deal of embarrassment in the family, and broken up the lady’s intended marriage with her father’s partner.  But what strikes us, is the daring courage of the hero who thus gallantly risked life and limb, rather than that the lady of his love should pine in vain.  Except Leander’s, of old, we know of no such feat of love and gallantry in these degenerate days.’

“This other is equally malignant and vindictive

“’Messrs. Harman and M’Loughlin.

“’We shall be very happy, indeed exceedingly so, to contradict an unpleasing rumor, affecting the solvency of our respected fellow-townsmen, Messrs. Harman and M’Loughlin.  We. do not ourselves give any credit to such rumors; but how strange, by the way, that such an expression should drop from our pen on such a subject?  No, we believe them to be perfectly solvent; or, if we err in supposing so, we certainly err in the company of those on whose opinions, we, in general, are disposed to rely.  We are inclined to believe, and we think, that for the credit of so respectable a firm, it is our duty to state it, that the rumor affecting their solvency has been mistaken for another of an almost equally painful character connected with domestic life, which, by the unhappy attachment of ****** to a young gentleman of a different creed, and proverbially loyal principles, has thrown the whole family into confusion and distress.’

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“These, my dear Spinageberd, are the two paragraphs, literally transcribed, from the True Blue, and I do not think it necessary to add any comment to them.  On tomorrow I have resolved to attend the Dissenting Chapel, a place of worship where I have never yet been, and I am anxious, at all events, to see what the distinctions are between their mode of worship and that of the Church of Englandism.  Besides, to admit the truth, I am also anxious to see how this Solomon—­this religious attorney, whose person I well know—­will deport himself under circumstances which assuredly would test the firmness of most men, unless strongly and graciously sustained, as they say themselves.”

CHAPTER XVI.—­Solomon in Trouble

—­Is Publicly Prayed for—­His Gracious Deliverance, and Triumph—­An Orangeman’s View of Protestantism and of Popery—­Phil’s Discretion and Valor.

“Monday, half-past eleven o’clock.

“My Dear Spinageberd: 

“In pursuance of my intention, I attended the Castle Cumber Meeting-house yesterday, and must confess that I very much admire the earnest and unassuming simplicity of the dissenting ritual.  They have neither the epileptical rant nor goatish impulses of the Methodists, nor the drowsy uniformity from which not all the solemn beauty of the service can redeem the Liturgy of the Church of England.  In singing, the whole congregation generally take a part—­a circumstance which, however it may impress their worship with a proof of sincerity, certainly adds nothing to its melody.

“The paragraph of ‘Susanna and the’ Elder’ having taken wind, little Solomon, as they call him, attended his usual seat, with a most unusual manifestation of grace and unction beaming from his countenance.  He was there early; and before the service commenced he sat with his hands locked in each other, their palms up, as was natural, but his eyes cast down, in peaceful self-communion, as was evident from the divine and ecstatic smile with which, from time to time, he cast up his enraptured eyes to heaven, and sighed—­sighed with an excess of happiness which was vouchsafed to but few, or, perhaps, for those depraved and uncharitable sinners who had sent abroad such an ungodly scandal against a champion of the faith.  At all events, at the commencement of the service, the minister—­a rather jolly-looking man, with a good round belly apparently well lined—­read out of a written paper, the following short address to those present:—­

“’The prayers of this congregation are requested for one of its most active and useful members, who is an elder thereof.  They are requested to enable him to fight the good fight, under the sore trials of a wicked world which have come upon him in the shape of scandal.  But inasmuch as these dispensations are dealt out to us often for our soul’s good and ultimate comfort, the individual in question doth not wish you to pray for a cessation of this,

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he trusts, benign punishment.  He receives it as a token—­a manifestation that out of the great congregation of the faithful that inherit the church, he—­an erring individual—­a frail unit, is not neglected nor his spiritual concerns overlooked.  He therefore doth not wish you to say, “cease Lord, this evil unto this man,” but yea, rather to beseech, that if it be for his good, it may be multiplied unto him, and that he may feel it is good for him to be afflicted.  Pray, therefore, that he may be purged by this tribulation, and that like those who were placed in the furnace, nine times heated, he may come out without a hair of his head singed—­unhurt and rejoicing, ready again to fight the good fight, with much shouting, the rattling of chariots, and the noise of triumph and victory.’

“During the perusal of this all eyes were turned upon Solomon, whose face was now perfectly seraphic, and his soul wrapped up into the ninth heaven.  Of those around him it was quite clear that he was altogether incognizant.  His eyelids were down as before, but the smile on his face now was a perfect glory; it was unbroken, and the upturning of the eyes proceeded from, and could be, nothing less than a glimpse of that happiness which no other eye ever had seen but that of Solomon’s at that moment, and which, it was equally certain, no heart but his could conceive.  When it was concluded the psalm commenced, and if there had been any doubt before, there could be none now that his triumph was great, and the victory over the world and his enemies obtained, whilst a fresh accession of grace was added to that which had been vouchsafed him before.  He led the psalm now with a fervor of spirit and fulness of lung which had never been heard in the chapel before; nay, he moved both head and foot to the time, as if he had only to wish it, and he could ascend at once to heaven.  This, indeed, was a victory, this was a moment of rejoicing—­here was the Christian soldier rattling home in his triumphal chariot, to the sound of the trumpet, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer.

“When the service was over he shook hands with as many of his friends as he could, exclaiming, ’oh, what a blessed day has this been to me! what a time of rejoicing; indeed it is good to be tried.  Truly the sources of comfort were opened to my soul on this day more abundantly than I dared to hope for—­I feel my privileges more strongly, and more of the new man within me—­I am sustained and comforted, and feel that it was good for me to be here this day—­I did not hope for this, but it was graciously granted to me, notwithstanding.  How good, how heavenly a thing it is to be called upon to suffer, especially when we are able to do so in faith and obedience.  May He be praised for all.  Amen!  Amen!’

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“Now, my dear friend, who will say, after all this, that the stage is the great school for actors? who ever saw on the boards of a theatre a more finished performance than that of Solomon M’Slime?  It so happens that I am acquainted with the whole circumstances, and, consequently, can fully appreciate his talents.  In the mean time I am paying a visit of business to M’Clutchy to-morrow, that I may have an opportunity of a nearer inspection into his character.  He is said to be an able, deep, vindictive, and rapacious man—­cowardly, but cruel—­treacherous, but plausible; and without the slightest remorse of conscience to restrain him from the accomplishment of any purpose, no matter how flagitious.  And, yet, the cure for all this, in the eyes of his own party, is his boundless loyalty, and his thorough Protestantism.  No wonder the church should be no longer useful or respected when she is supported only by such Protestants as Valentine M’Clutchy, and his class.”

“Thursday.—­At a little after ten, I waited upon this, famous agent to the Castle Cumber property, and found him in his office, looking over an account-book with his son.  He had a bad face—­black, heavy, over-hanging eyebrows, and an upper lip that quivers and gets pale when engaged even in earnest conversation—­his forehead is low, but broad and massive, indicating the minor accessories of intellect, together with great acuteness and cunning; altogether he had the head and face of a felon.  For purposes which you shall know hereafter, I declined presenting Lord Cumber’s letter of introduction, which I calculated would put the fellow on his guard, deeming it, more prudent to introduce myself as a stranger, anxious, if I could do so conveniently, to settle somewhere in the neighborhood.  The son’s back was towards me when I entered, and until he had finished the account at which he had been engaged, which he did by a good deal of altering and erasing, he did not deem, it worth while to look about him even at the entrance of a stranger.  Having heard me express my intention of looking for a residence in the vicinity, he did me the honor of one of the most comical stares I ever saw.  He is a tall fellow, about six feet, his shoulders are narrow, but round as the curve of a pot—­his neck is, at least, eighteen inches in length, on the top of which stands a head, somewhat of a three-cornered shape, like a country barber’s wig block, only not so intelligent looking.  His nose is short, and turned up a little at the top—­his squint is awful, but then, it is peculiar to himself; for his eyes, instead of looking around them as such eyes do, appear to keep a jealous and vigilant watch of each other across his nose—­his chin is short and retreating, and from, his wide mouth project two immeasurable buck teeth, that lie together like a’pair of tiles upon a dog kennel.  Heavens! that a beautiful girl—­as it is said everywhere Miss M’Loughlin is, and until now proverbially correct in her conduct and deportment—­should admit such a misshapen kraken as this into her apartment, and at night, too!  After having stared at me for some time with a great deal of cunning and a great deal of folly in his countenance, he again began to pore over the blank pages of his book, as if he had been working out some difficult calculation.

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“‘And,’ said the father, after we had been chatting for some time, ’have you seen anything in the neighborhood that you think would suit you?’

“‘I am too much of a stranger, sir,’ I replied, ’to be able to answer in the affirmative—­but I admire the country and the scenery, both of which in this immediate neighborhood, are extremely beautiful and interesting.’

“‘They are so,’ he replied, ‘and the country is a fine one, certainly.’

“‘Ay,’ said Phil, ‘only for these cursed Papists.’

“As he spoke he looked at me very significantly, and drew three of his yellow fingers across his chin, but added nothing more.  This, by the way, he did half a dozen times, and, on mentioning the circumstance, it has been suggested to me that it must have been the sign by which one Orangeman makes himself known to another.

“‘The Papists,’ I replied, ’do not enter into any objection of mine against a residence in the neighborhood; but, as you, Mr. M’Clutchy, as agent of this fine property, must be well acquainted with the state and circumstances of the country, you would really confer a favor by enabling me, as a stranger, to form correct impressions of the place and people.’

“‘Then,’ said he, ’in the first place allow me to ask what are your politics?  As an Englishman, which I perceive you are by your accent—­I take it for granted that you are a Protestant.’

“‘I am a Protestant, certainly,’ I replied, ’and a Church of England one.’

“‘Ay, but that’s not enough,’ said Phil, ’that won’t do, my good sir; d—­n my honor if it would be worth a fig in this country.’

“‘I am very ignorant of Irish politics, I admit,’ said I, ’but, I trust, I am in good hands for the receipt of sound information on the subject.’

“‘No, no,’ continued Phil, ’that’s nothing—­to be a mere Church of England man, or a Church of Ireland man either, would never do here, I tell you.  Upon my honor, but that’s doctrine.’

“‘Well, but what would do,’ I inquired; for I certainly felt a good deal of curiosity to know what he was coming to.

“‘The great principle here,’ said the son, ’is to hate and keep down the Papists, and you can’t do that properly unless you’re an Orangeman.  Hate and keep down the Papists, that’s the true religion, I pledge you my honor and reputation it is.’

“‘You put the principle too strong, and rather naked, Phil,’ observed the father; ‘but the truth is, sir,’ he added, turning to me, ’that you may perceive that fine spirit of Protestant enthusiasm in the young man, which is just now so much wanted in, and so beneficial to the country and the government.  We must, sir, make allowance for this in the high-spirited and young, and ardent; but, still, after deducting a little for zeal and enthusiasm, he has expressed nothing but truth—­with the exception, indeed, that we are not bound to hate them, Phil; on the contrary, we are bound to love our enemies.’

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“‘Beggingyour pardon, father, I say we are bound to hate them.’

“‘Why, so, sir, may I ask,’ said I.

“’Why so—­why because—­because—­they—­because as—­aren’t they Papists, and is not that sufficient—­and, again, here’s another reason still stronger, aren’t we Orangemen?  Now, sir, did you, or any one, even hear of such a thing as a good, sound Orangeman loving a Papist—­a bloody Papist.  My word and honor, but that’s good!’

“‘The truth is,’ said the father, ’that the turbulence of their principles has the country almost ripe for insurrection.  I have myself received above half a dozen notices, and my son there, as many; some threatening life, others property, and I suppose the result will be, that I must reside for safety in the metropolis.  My house is this moment in a state of barricade—­look at my windows, literally checkered with stancheon bars—­and as for arms, let me see, we have six blunderbusses, eight cases of pistols, four muskets, two carbines, with a variety of side arms, amounting to a couple of dozen.  Such, sir, is the state of the country, owing, certainly, as my son says, to the spirit of Popery, and to the fact of my discharging my duty toward Lord Cumber with fidelity and firmness!

“‘In that case,’ I observed, ’there is little to induce any man possessing some property to reside here.’

“‘Certainly nothing,’ he replied, ’but a great many inducements to get out of it.’

“‘Does Lord Cumber ever visit his property here?’ I asked.

“‘He has too much sense,’ returned the agent; ’but now that parliament is dissolved, he will come over to the Election.  We must return either him or his brother the Hon. Dick Topertoe, who, I understand, has no fixed principles whatsoever.’

“’But why return such a man?  Why not put up and support one of your own way of thinking?’

“’Why, because in the first place, we must keep out Hartley, who is a liberal, and also an advocate for emancipating Popery; and, in the second, if it be bad to have no principles, like Topertoe, it is worse to have bad ones like Hartley.  He’ll do to stop a gap until we get better, and then unless he comes round, we’ll send him adrift.’

“‘Is he in Ireland?  I mean does he reside in the country?’

“’Not he, sir; it seems he’s a wayward devil, very different from the rest of the family—­and with none of the dash and spirit of the Topertoe blood in him.’

“’In that case, he will be no great loss; but Mr. M’Clutchy, notwithstanding all you have said I am so much charmed with the beauty of the country, that I would gladly settle in the neighborhood, if I could procure a suitable residence, together with a good large farm, which I would rent.  Is there anything in that way vacant on the estate?’

“’At present, sir, nothing; but it is possible there may be, and if you should remain in the country, I shall feel great pleasure in acquainting you.’

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“‘Because I was told,’ I continued, ’that there are two large farms, either of which would suit me admirably; but I dare say I have been misinformed.  I allude to Mr. M’Loughlin’s and Herman’s holdings, which I understand are out of lease.’

“‘Yes,’ said he, sighing, ’I am sorry for those men; but the truth is, my good sir, that in this affair I am not a free agent.  Lord Cumber, in consequence of some very accurate information that reached him, has determined to put them out of their holdings, now that their leases have expired.  I am, you know, but his agent, and cannot set up my will against his.’

“’But could you not take their part?—­could you not remonstrate with him, and set him right, rather than see injustice done to innocent men?’

“’You surely cannot imagine, sir, that I have not done so.  Earnestly, indeed, have I begged of him to reconsider his orders, and to withdraw them; but like all the Topertoes, he is as obstinate as a mule.  The consequence is, however, that whilst the whole blame of the transaction is really his, the odium will fall upon me, as it always does.’

“Here Phil, the son, who had been for the last few minutes paring away the pen with his knife, gave a sudden yelp, not unlike what a hound would utter when he gets an unexpected cut of the whip.  It was certainly meant for a laugh, as I could perceive by the frightful grin which drew back his lips I from his yellow projecting tusks, as his face appeared to me in the looking-glass—­a fact which he seemed to forget.

“‘Then, Mr. M’Clutchy, the farms of these men, are they disposed of?’

“’They are disposed of; and, indeed, in any event, I could not, in justice to the landlord’s interests, receive the offers which M’Loughlin and Harman made me.  My son here, who, as under agent feels it necessary to reside on the property, and who is about to take unto himself a wife besides, has made me a very liberal offer for M’Loughlin’s holding—­one, indeed, which I did not feel myself at liberty to refuse.  Mr. M’Slime, our respected law agent, I also considered a very proper tenant for Harman’s; and that matter is also closed—­by which means I secured two respectable, safe, and unobjectionable tenants, on whose votes, at all events, we can reckon, which was more than we could do with the other two—­both of whom had expressed their determination to vote in favor of Hartley.’

“‘What are the religious opinions of those men, Mr. M’Clutchy?’

“‘M’Loughlin is a Papist—­’

“‘But Harman is worse,’ interrupted Phil; ’for he’s a Protestant, and no Orangeman.’

“‘I thought,’ I replied, ’that nothing could be so bad as a Papist, much less worse.’

“‘Oh yes,’ said Phil, ’that’s worse; because one always knows that a Papist’s a Papist—­but when you find a Protestant who is not an Orangeman, on my sacred honor, you don’t know what to make of him.  The Papists are all cowards, too.’

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“‘Then,’ said I, ‘you have the less difficulty in keeping them down.’

“’Upon my soul and honor, sir, you don’t know how a naked Papist will run from a gun and bayonet.  I have often seen it.’

“At this moment a tap came to the door, and a servant man, in Orange livery, announced a gentleman to see Mr. Philip M’Clutchy.  I rose to take my departure; but Phil insisted I should stop.

“‘Don’t go, sir,’ said he; ’I have something to propose to you by and by.’  I accordingly took my seat.

“When the gentleman entered, he looked about, and selecting Phil, bowed to him, and then to us.

“‘Ah, Mr. Hartley! how do you do?’ said Val, shaking hands with him; ’and how is your cousin, whom we hope to have the pleasure of beating soon?—­ha, ha, ha.  Take a seat.’

“’Thank you,’said the other; ’but the fact is, that time’s just now precious, and I wish to have a few words with Mr. Philip here.’

“‘What is it, Hartley?  How are you, Hartley?  I’m glad to see you.’

“’Quite well, Phil; but if you have no objection, I would rather speak to you in another room.  It’s a matter of some importance, and of some delicacy, too.’

“‘Oh, curse the delicacy, man; out with it.’

“‘I really cannot, Phil, unless by ourselves.’

“They both then withdrew to the back parlor, where, after a period of about ten minutes, Phil came rushing in with a face on him, and in a state of trepidation utterly indescribable; Hartley, on the other hand, cool and serious, following him.

“‘Phil,’ said he, ’think of what you are about to do.  Don’t exclude yourself hereafter from the rank and privileges of a gentleman.  Pause, if you respect yourself, and regard your reputation as a man of courage.’

“’D——­d fine talk in you—­who—­who’s a fire-eater, Hartley.  What do you think, father—?’ Hartley put, or rather attempted to put his hand across his mouth, to prevent his cowardly and degrading communication; but in vain.  ‘What do you think, father,’ he continued, ’but there’s that cowardly scoundrel, young M’Loughlin, has sent me a challenge?  Isn’t the country come to a pretty pass, when a Papist durst do such a thing?’

“‘Why not a Papist?’ said Hartley.  ’Has not a Papist flesh, and blood, and bones, like another man?  Is a Papist to be insensible to insult?  Is he to sit down tamely and meanly under disgrace and injury?  Has he no soul to feel the dignity of just resentment?  Is he not to defend his sister, when her character has been basely and treacherously ruined?  Is he to see her stretched on her death-bed, by your villainy, and not to avenge her?  By heavens, if, under the circumstances of the provocation which you gave him, and his whole family, he would be as mean and cowardly a poltroon as I find you to be—­if he suffered—­’

“‘Do you call me a poltroon?’ said Phil, so shivering and pale, that his voice betrayed his cowardice.

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“‘Yes,’ said the other, ’as arrant a poltroon as ever I met.  I tell you, you must either fight him, or publish a statement of your own unparalleled disgrace.  Don’t think you shall get out of it.’

“‘I tell you, sir,’ said Val, ’that he shall not fight him.  I would not suffer a son of mine to put himself on a level with such a person as young M’Loughlin.’

“’On a level with him he never will be, for no earthly advantage could raise him to it; but pray, Mr. M’Clutchy, who are you?’

“’Val’s brow fell, and his lip paled and quivered, as the fine young fellow looked him steadily in the face.

“‘Never mind him, father,’ said Phil ‘you know he’s a fire-eater.’

“‘There is no use in altercations of this sort,’ replied Val, calmly.  ’As for young M’Loughlin, or old M’Loughlin, if they think themselves injured, they have the laws of the land to appeal to for redress.  As for us, we will fight them with other weapons besides pistols and firearms.’

“‘D——­ my honor,’ said, Phil, ’if I’d stoop to fight any Papist.  Aren’t they all rebels?  And what gentleman would fight a rebel?’

“‘Honor!’ exclaimed Hartley; ’don’t profane that sacred word—­I can have no more patience with such a craven-hearted rascal, who could stoop to such base revenge against the unsullied reputation of a virtuous and admirable girl, because she spurned your scoundrelly addresses.’

“‘He never paid his addresses to her,’ said Val;—­’never.’

“’No I didn’t,’said Phil.  ’At any rate I never had any notion of marrying her.’

“‘You are a dastardly liar, sir,’ responded Hartley.  ’You know you had.  How can your father and you look each other in the face, when you say so?’

“‘Go on,’ said Phil, ’you’re a fire-eater:  so you may say what you like.’

“’Didn’t your father, in your name, propose for her upon some former occasion, in the fair of Castle Cumber, and he remembers the answer he got.’

“‘Go on,’ said Phil, ’you’re a fire-eater; that’s all I have to say to you.’

“’And now, having ruined her reputation by a base and cowardly plot concocted with a wicked old woman, who would blast the whole family if she could, because M’Loughlin transported her felon son; you, now, like a paltry clown as you are, skulk out of the consequences of your treachery, and refuse to give satisfaction for the diabolical injury you have inflicted on the whole family.’

“‘Go on,’ said Phil, ‘you’re a fire-eater.’

“‘You forget,’ said Val, ’that I am a magistrate, and what the consequences may be to yourself for carrying a hostile message.’

“‘Ah,’ said Hartley, ’you are a magistrate, and shame on the government that can stoop to the degradation of raising such rascals as you are to become dispensers of justice; it is you and the like of you, that are a curse to the country.  As for you, Phil M’Clutchy, I now know, and always suspected, the stuff you are made of.  You are a disgrace to the very Orangemen you associate with; for they are, in general, brave fellows, although too often cruel and oppressive when hunted on and stimulated by such as you and your rascally upstart of a father.’

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“‘Go on,’ said Phil, ‘you are a fire-eater.’

“‘I now leave you both,’ continued the young Hotspur, with a blazing eye and flushed cheek, ’with the greatest portion of scorn and contempt which one man can bestow upon another.’

“‘Go off,’ said Phil, ‘you are a fire-eater.’

“‘Phil,’ said the father, ’send for M’Murt, and let him get the ejectments from M’Slime—­we shall not, at all events, be insulted and bearded by Papists, or their emissaries, so long as I can clear one of them off the estate.’

“’But, good God, Mr. M’Clutchy, surely these other Papists you speak of, have not participated in the offences, if such they are, of M’Loughlin and Harman.’

“‘Ay, but they’re all of the same kidney,’ said Phil; ’they hate us because we keep them down.’

“‘And what can be more natural than that?’ I observed; ’just reverse the matter—­suppose they were in your place, and kept you down, would you love them for it?’

“‘Why, what kind of talk is that,’ said Phil, ’they keep us down!  Are they not rebels?’

“‘You observed,’ I replied, getting tired of this sickening and senseless bigotry, ’that you wished to make a proposal of some kind to me before I went.’

“‘Yes,’ he replied, ’I wished, if it be a thing that you remain in the neighborhood, to propose that you should become an Orangeman, and join my father’s lodge.  You say you want a farm on the estate; now, if you do, take my advice and become an Orangeman; you will then have a stronger claim, for my father always gives them the preference.’

“’By Lord Cumber’s desire, Phil; but I shall be very happy, indeed, sir,’ proceeded Val, ’that is, provided you get an introduction—­for, at present, you will pardon me for saying we are strangers.’

“‘I should first wish to witness the proceedings of an Orange Lodge,’ I said, ’but I suppose that, of course, is impossible, unless to the initiated.’

“‘Certainly, of course,’ said M’Clutchy.

“‘But, father,’ said Phil, ’couldn’t we admit him after the business of the lodge is concluded.’

“‘It is not often done,’ replied the father; ’but it sometimes is—­however, we shall have the pleasure, Mr. Easel—­(I forgot to say that I had sent in my card, so that he knew my name),—­we shall have the pleasure of a better acquaintance, I trust.’

“‘I tell you what,’ said Phil, leaping off his chair, ’d—–­n my honor, but I was wrong to let young Hartley go without a thrashing.  The cowardly scoundrel was exceedingly insulting.’

“‘No, no, Phil,’ said the father; ’you acted with admirable coolness and prudence.’

“‘I tell you I ought to have kicked the rascal out,’ said Phil, getting into a passion; ’I’ll follow him and teach the impudent vagabond a lesson he wants.’

“He seized his hat, and buttoned up his coat, as if for combat, whilst he spoke.

“‘Phil, be quiet,’ said his father, rising up and putting his arms about him; ’be quiet now.  There will be no taming him down, if his spirit gets up,’ said Val, addressing me; ’for all our sakes, Phil, keep quiet and sit down.  Good heaven! the strength of him!  Phil, keep quiet, I say, you shan’t go after him.’

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“‘Let me go,’ shouted the other; ’let me go, I say.  I will smash him to atoms.  Upon my honor and reputation, he shall not escape me this way—­I’ll send him home a hoop—­a triangle—­a zoologist.  I’ll beat him into mustard, the cowardly scoundrel!  And only you were a magistrate, father, I would have done it before you.  Let me go, I say—­the M’Clutchy blood is up in me!  Father, you’re a scoundrel if you hold me!  You know what a lion I am—­what a raging lion, when roused.  Hands off, M’Clutchy, I say, when you know I’m a thunderbolt.’

“The tugging and pulling that took place here between the father and son were extraordinary, and I could not in common decency decline assisting the latter to hold him in.  I consequently lent him my aid seriously; but this only made things worse:—­the more he was held, the more violent and outrageous he became.  He foamed at the mouth—­stormed—­swore—­and tore about with such vehemence, that I really began to think the fellow was a dull flint, which produced, fire slowly, but that there was fire in him.  The struggle still proceeded, and we pulled and dragged each other through every part of the house:—­chairs, and tables, and office-stools were all overturned—­and Phil’s cry was still for war.

“It’s all to no purpose,’ he shouted—­’I’ll not leave an unbroken bone in that scoundrel Hartley’s body.’

“‘I know you wouldn’t, if you got at him,’ said Val.  ’He would certainly be the death of him,’ he added aside tome; ’he would give him some fatal blow, and that’s what I’m afraid of.’

“Phil was now perfectly furious—­in fact he resembled a drunken man, and might have passed for such.

“‘Hartley, you scoundrel, where are you, till I make mummy of you?’ he shouted.

“‘Here I am,’ replied Hartley, entering’ the room, walking up to him, and looking him sternly in the face—­’here I am—­what’s your will with me?’

“So comic a paralysis was, perhaps, never witnessed.  Phil stood motionless, helpless, speechless.  The white cowardly froth rose to his lips, his color became ashy, his jaw fell, he shook, shrunk into himself, and gasped for breath—­his eyes became hollow, his squint deepened, and such was his utter prostration of strength, that his very tongue lolled out with weakness, like that of a newly dropped calf, when attempting to stand for the first time.  At length he got out—­

“’Hold!  I believe, I’ll restrain myself; but only my father’s a
magistrate------’

“‘Your father’s a scoundrel, and you are another,’ said Hartley; ’and here’s my respect for you.’

“Whilst speaking, he caught Phil by the nose with one hand, and also by the collar of his coat with the other, and in this position led him, in a most comical way, round the room, after which he turned him about, and inflicted a few vigorous kicks upon a part of him which must be nameless.

“‘I am not sorry,’ said he, ’that I forgot my note-case in the other room, as it has given me an opportunity of taming a raging lion so easily.’

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“‘Goon,’ said Phil, whose language, as well as valor, was fairly exhausted, ’it’s well you’re a fire-eater, and my father a magistrate, or by my honor, I’d know how to deal with you.’

“Such, my dear Spinageberd, is a domestic sketch of the Agent and Under Agent of that exceedingly sapient nobleman, Lord Cumber; and if ever, excellent landlord that he is, he should by any possible chance come to see these lines, perhaps he might be disposed to think that an occasional peep at his own property, and an examination into the principles upon which it is managed, might open to him a new field of action worth cultivating, even as an experiment not likely to end in any injurious result to either him or it.  In a day or two I shall call upon Mr. Solomon M’Slime, with whom I am anxious to have a conversation, as, indeed, I am with the leading characters on the property.  You may accordingly expect an occasional batch of observations from me, made upon the spot, and fresh from my interviews with the individuals to whom they relate.”

CHAPTER XVII.—­A Moral Survey, or a Wise Man led by a Fool

—­Marks of Unjust Agency—­Reflections thereon—­A Mountain Water-Spout, and Rising of a Torrent—­The Insane Mother over the Graves of her Family—­Raymond’s Humanity—­His Rescue from Death.

“Friday, * * *

“I have amused myself—­you will see how appropriate the word is by and by—­since my last communication, in going over the whole Castle Cumber estate, and noting down the traces which this irresponsible and rapacious oppressor, aided by his constables, bailiffs, and blood-hounds, have left behind them.  When I describe the guide into whose hands I have committed myself, I am inclined to think you will not feel much disposed to compliment me on my discretion;—­the aforesaid guide being no other than a young fellow, named Raymond-na-Hattha, which means, they tell me, Raymond of the Hats—­a sobriquet very properly bestowed on him in consequence of a habit he has of always wearing three or four hats at a time, one within the other—­a circumstance which, joined to his extraordinary natural height and great strength, gives him absolutely a gigantic appearance.  This Raymond is the fool of the parish; but in selecting him for my conductor, I acted under the advice of those who knew him better than I could.  There is not, in fact, a field or farm-house, or a cottage, within a circumference of miles, which he does not know, and where he is not also known.  He has ever since his childhood evinced a most extraordinary fancy for game cocks—­an attachment not at all surprising, when it is known that not only was his father, Morgan Monahan, the most celebrated breeder and handler of that courageous bird—­but his mother, Poll Doolin—­married women here frequently preserve, or are called by, their maiden names through life—­who learned it from her husband, was equally famous for this very

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feminine accomplishment.  Poor Raymond, notwithstanding his privation, is, however, exceedingly shrewd in many things, especially where he can make himself understood.  As he speaks, however, in unconnected sentences, in which there is put forth no more than one phase of the subject he alludes to, or the idea he entertains, it is unquestionably not an easy task to understand him without an interpreter.  He is singularly fond of children—­very benevolent—­and consequently feels a degree of hatred and horror at anything in the shape of cruelty or oppression, almost beyond belief, in a person deprived of reason.  This morning he was with me by appointment, about half-past nine, and after getting his breakfast——­but no matter—­the manipulation he exhibited would have been death to a dyspeptic patient, from sheer envy—­we sallied forth to trace this man, M’Clutchy, by the awful marks of ruin, and tyranny, and persecution; for these words convey the principles of what he hath left, and is leaving behind him.

“‘Now, Raymond,’ said I, ’as you know the country well, I shall be guided by you.  I wish to see a place called Drum Dhu.  Can you conduct me there?’

“‘Ay!’ he replied with surprise; ’Why!  Sure there’s scarcely anybody there now.  When we go on farther, we may look up, but we’ll see no smoke, as there used to be.  ’Twas there young Torly Regan died on that day—­an’ her, poor Mary—­but they’re all gone from her—­and Hugh the eldest is in England or America—­but him—­the youngest—­he’ll never waken—­and what will the poor mother do for his white head now that she hasn’t it to look at?  No, he wouldn’t waken, although I brought him the cock.’

“‘Of whom are you speaking now, Raymond?’

“‘I’ll tell you two things that’s the same,’ he replied; ’and I’ll tell you the man that has them both.’

“‘Let me hear, Raymond.’

“‘The devil’s blessin’ and God’s curse;—­sure they’re the same—­ha, ha—­there now—­that’s one.  You didn’t know that—­no, no:  you didn’t.’

“‘And who is it that has them, Raymond?’

“’M’Clutchy—­Val the Vulture; sure ‘twas he did that all, and is doin’ it still.  Poor Mary!—­Brian will never waken;—­she’ll never see his eyes again, ’tany rate—­nor his white head—­oh! his white head!  God ought to kill Val, and I wondher he doesn’t.’

“‘Raymond, my good friend,’ said I, ’if you travel at this rate, I must give up the journey altogether.’

“The fact is, that when excited, as he was now by the topic in question, he gets into what is termed a sling trot, which carries him on at about six miles an hour, without ever feeling fatigued.  He immediately slackened his pace, and looked towards me, with a consciousness of having forgotten himself and acted wrongly.

“‘Well, no,’ said he, ‘I won’t; but sure I hate him.’

“‘Hate whom?’

“’M’Clutchy—­and that was it; for I always do it; but I won’t again, for you couldn’t keep up wid me if I spoke about him.’

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“We then turned towards the mountains; and as we went along, the desolate impresses of the evil agent began here and there to become visible.  On the road-side there were the humble traces of two or three cabins, whose little hearths had been extinguished, and whose walls were levelled to the earth.  The black fungus, the burdock, the nettle, and all those offensive weeds that follow in the train of oppression and ruin were here; and as the dreary wind stirred them into sluggish motion, and piped its melancholy wail through these desolate little mounds, I could not help asking myself—­if those who do these things ever think that there is a reckoning in after life, where power, and insolence, and wealth misapplied, and rancor, and pride, and rapacity, and persecution, and revenge, and sensuality, and gluttony, will be placed face to face with those humble beings, on whose rights and privileges of simple existence they have trampled with such a selfish and exterminating tread.  A host of thoughts and reflections began to crowd upon my mind; but the subject was too painful—­and after avoiding it as well as I could, we proceeded on our little tour of observation.

“How easy it is for the commonest observer to mark even the striking characters that are impressed on the physical features of an estate which is managed by care and kindness—­where general happiness and principles of active industry are diffused through the people?  And, on the other hand, do not all the depressing symbols of neglect and mismanagement present equally obvious exponents of their operation, upon properties like this of Castle Cumber?  On this property, it is not every tenant that is allowed to have an interest in the soil at all, since the accession of M’Clutchy.  He has succeeded in inducing the head landlord to decline granting leases to any but those who are his political supporters—­that is, who will vote for him or his nominee at an election; or, in other words, who will enable him to sell both their political privileges and his own, to gratify his cupidity or ambition, without conferring a single advantage upon themselves.  From those, therefore, who have too much honesty to prostitute their votes to his corrupt and selfish negotiations with power, leases are withheld, in order that they may, with more becoming and plausible oppression, be removed from the property, and the staunch political supporter brought in in their stead.  This may be all very good policy, but it is certainly bad humanity, and worse religion, In fact, it is the practice of that cruel dogma, which prompts us to sacrifice the principles of others to our own, and to deprive them of the very privilege which we ourselves claim—­that of acting according to our conscientious impressions.  ’Do unto others,’ says Mr. M’Clutchy and his class, as you would not wish that others should do unto you.’  How beautifully here is the practice of the loud and headlong supporter of the Protestant Church, and its political ascendancy, made

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to harmonize with the principles of that neglected thing called the Gospel?  In fact as we went along, it was easy to mark, on the houses and farmsteads about us, the injustice of making this heartless distinction.  The man who felt himself secure and fixed by a vested right in the possession of his tenement, had heart and motive to work and improve it, undepressed by the consciousness that his improvements to-day might be trafficked on by a wicked and unjust agent tomorrow.  He knows, that in developing all the advantages and good qualities of the soil, he is not only discharging an important duty to himself and his landlord, but also to his children’s children after him; and the result is, that the comfort, contentment, and self-respect which he gains by the consciousness of his security, are evident at a glance upon himself, his house, and his holding.  On the other hand, reverse this picture, and what is the consequence?  Just what is here visible.  There is a man who may be sent adrift on the shortest notice, unless he is base enough to trade upon his principles and vote against his conscience.  What interest has he in the soil, or in the prosperity of his landlord?  If he make improvements this year, he may see the landlord derive all the advantages of them the next; or, what is quite as likely, he may know that some Valentine M’Clutchy may put them in his own pocket, and keep the landlord in the dark regarding the whole transaction.  What a bounty on dishonesty and knavery in an agent is this?  How unjust to the interest of the tenant, in the first place—­in the next to that of the landlord—­and, finally, how destructive to the very nature and properties of the soil itself, which rapidly degenerates by bad and negligent culture, and. consequently becomes impoverished and diminished in value.  All this was evident as we went along.  Here was warmth, and wealth, and independence staring us in the face; there was negligence, desponding struggle, and decline, conscious, as it were, of their unseemly appearance, and anxious, one would think, to shrink away from the searching eye of observation.

“’But here again, Raymond; what have we here?  There is a fine looking farmhouse, evidently untenanted.  How is that?’

“‘Ha, ha,’ replied Raymond with a bitter smile, ’ha, ha!  Let them take it, and see what Captain Whiteboy will do?  He has the possession—­ha, ha—­an’ who’ll get him to give it up?  Who dare take that, or any of Captain Whiteboy’s farms?  But sure it’s not, much—­only a coal, a rushlight, and a prod of a pike or a baynet—­but I know who ought to have them.’

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“The house in question was considerably dilapidated.  Its doors were not visible, and its windows had all been shivered.  Its smokeless chimneys, its cold and desolate appearance, together with the still more ruinous condition of the outhouses, added to the utter silence which prevailed about it, and the absence of every symptom of life and motion—­all told a tale which has left many a bloody moral to the country.  The slaps, gates, and enclosures were down—­the hedges broken or cut away—­the fences trampled on and levelled to the earth—­and nothing seemed to thrive—­for the garden was overrun with them—­but the rank weeds already alluded to, as those which love to trace the footsteps of ruin and desolation, in order to show, as it were, what they leave behind them.  As we advanced, other and more startling proofs of M’Clutchy came in our way—­proofs which did not consist of ruined houses, desolate villages, or roofless-cottages—­but of those unfortunate persons, whose simple circle of domestic life—­whose little cares, and struggles, and sorrows, and affections, formed the whole round of their humble existence, and its enjoyments, as given them by Almighty God himself.  All these, however, like the feelings and affections of the manacled slave, were as completely overlooked by those who turned them adrift, as if in possessing such feelings, they had invaded a right which belonged only to their betters, and which,the same betters, by the way, seldom exercise either in such strength or purity as those whom they despise and oppress.  Aged men we met, bent, with years, and weighed down still more by that houseless sorrow, which is found accompanying them along the highways of life:—­through its rugged solitudes and its dreariest paths—­in the storm and in the tempest—­wherever they go—­in want, nakedness, and destitution—­still at their side is that houseless sorrow—­pouring into their memories and their hearts the conviction, which is most terrible to old age, that it has no home here but the grave—­no pillow on which to forget its cares but the dust.  The sight of these wretched old men, turned out from, the little holdings that sheltered their helplessness, to beg a morsel, through utter charity, in the decrepitude of life, was enough to make a man wish that he had never been born to witness such a wanton abuse of that power which was entrusted to man for the purpose of diffusing happiness instead of misery.  All these were known to Raymond, who, as far as he could, gave me their brief and unfortunate history.  That which showed us, however, the heartless evils of the-clearance system in its immediate operation upon the poorer classes, was the groups of squalid females who traversed the country, accompanied by their pale and sickly looking children, all in a state of mendicancy, and wofully destitute of clothing.  The system in this case being to deny their husbands employment upon the property, in order to drive them, by the strong scourge of necessity, off it, the poor

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men were compelled to seek it elsewhere, whilst their sorrowing and heart-broken families were fain to remain and beg a morsel from those who were best acquainted with the history of their expulsion, and who, consequently, could yield to them and their little ones a more cordial and liberal sympathy.  After thus witnessing the consequences of bad management, and worse feeling, in the shape of houses desolate, villages levelled, farms waste, old age homeless, and feeble mothers tottering under their weaker children—­after witnessing, I say, all this, we came to the village called Drum Dhu, being one of those out of which these unhappy creatures were so mercilessly driven.

“A village of this description is, to say the least of it, no credit to the landed proprietors of any country.  It is the necessary result of a bad system.  But we know that if the landlord paid the attention which he ought to pay, to both the rights and duties of his property, a bad system could never be established upon it.  I am far from saying, indeed, my dear Spinageberd, there are not cases in which the landlord finds himself in circumstances of great difficulty.  Bad, unprincipled, vindictive, and idle tenants enough there are in this country—­as I am given to understand from those who know it best—­plotting scoundrels, who, like tainted sheep, are not only corrupt themselves, but infect others, whom they bring along with themselves to their proper destination, the gallows.  Enough and too many of these there are to be found, who are cruel without cause, and treacherous without provocation; and this is evident, by the criminal records of the country, from which it is clear that it is not in general the aggrieved man who takes justice in his own hands, but the idle profligate I speak of now.  Many indeed of all these, it is an act due to public peace and tranquility to dislodge from any and from every estate; but at the same time, it is not just that the many innocent should suffer as well as the guilty few.  To return, however, to the landlord.  It often happens, that when portions of his property fall out of lease, he finds it over-stocked with a swarm of paupers, who are not his tenants at all and never were—­but who in consequence of the vices of sub-letting, have multiplied in proportion to the rapacity and extortion of middle-men, and third-men, and fourth-men—­and though last, not least, of the political exigencies of the landlord himself, to serve whose purposes they were laboriously subdivided off into tattered legions of fraud, corruption, and perjury.  Having, therefore, either connived at, or encouraged the creation of thess creatures upon his property for corrupt purposes, is he justified, when such a change in the elective franchise has occurred as renders them of no political importance to him, in turning them out of their little holdings, without aid or provision of some sort, and without reflecting besides, that they are in this, the moment of their sorest distress, nothing else

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than the neglected tools and forgotten victims of his own ambition.  Or can he be surprised, after hardening them into the iniquity of half a dozen elections, that he finds fellows in their number who would feel no more scruples in putting a bullet into him from behind a hedge, than they would into a dog?  Verily, my dear Simon Spinageberd, the more I look into the political and civil education which the people of Ireland have received, I am only surprised that property in this country rests upon so firm and secure a basis as I find it does.

“On arriving at Drum Dhu, the spectacle which presented itself to us was marked, not merely by the vestiges of inhumanity and bad policy, but by the wanton insolence of sectarian spirit and bitter party feeling.  On some of the doors had been written with chalk or charcoal, “Clear off—­to hell or Connaught!” “Down with Popery!” “M’Clutchy’s cavalry and Ballyhack wreckers for ever!” In accordance with these offensive principles most of all the smaller cottages and cabins had been literally wrecked and left uninhabitable, in the violence of this bad impulse, although at the present moment they are about to be re-erected, to bear out the hollow promises that will be necessary for the forthcoming election.  The village was indeed a miserable and frightful scene.  There it stood, between thirty and forty small and humble habitations, from which, with the exception of about five or six, all the inmates had been dispossessed, without any consideration for age, sex, poverty, or sickness.  Nay, I am assured that a young man was carried out during the agonies of death, and expired in the street, under the fury of a stormy and tempestuous day.  Of those who remained, four who are Protestants, and two whom are Catholics, have promised to vote with M’Clutchy, who is here the great representative of Lord Cumber and his property.  If, indeed, you were now to look upon these two miserable lines of silent and tenantless walls, most of them unroofed, and tumbled into heaps of green ruin, that are fast melting out of shape, for they were mostly composed of mere peat—­you would surely say, as the Eastern Vizier said in the apologue.  ’God prosper Mr. Valentine M’Clutchy!—­for so long as Lord Cumber has him for an agent, he will never want plenty of ruined villages!’ My companion muttered many things to himself, but said nothing intelligible, until he came to one of the ruins pretty near the centre:—­

“‘Ay,’ said he, ’here is the place they said he died—­here before the door—­and in there is where he lay during his long sickness.  The wet thatch and the sods is lying there now.  Many a time I was with him.  Poor Torley!’

“‘Of whom do you speak now, Raymond?’ I asked.

“‘Come away,’ he said, not noticing my question,—­’come till I show you the other place that the neighbors built privately when he was dying—­the father I mean—­ay, and the other wid the white head, him that wouldn’t waken—­come.’

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“I followed him, for truth to tell, I was sick at heart of all that I had witnessed that morning, and now felt anxious, if I could, to relieve my imagination of this melancholy imagery and its causes altogether.  He went farther up towards the higher mountains, in rather a slanting direction, but not immediately into their darkest recesses, and after a walk of about two miles more, he stopped at the scattered turf walls of what must once have been a cold, damp, and most comfortless cabin.

“‘There,’ said he, I saw it all; ’twas the blood-hounds.  He died, and her white-headed boy died; him, you know, that wouldn’t waken—­there is where they both died; and see here’—­there was at this moment a most revolting expression of ferocious triumph in his eye as he spoke—­’see, here the blood-hound dropped, for the bullet went through him!—­Ha, ha, that’s one; the three dead—­the three dead!  Come now, come, come.’  He then seemed much changed, for he shuddered as he spoke, and after a little time, much to my astonishment, a spirit of tenderness and humanity settled on his face, his eyes filled with tears, and he exclaimed, ’Poor Mary! they’re all gone, and she will never see his white head again; and his eyes won’t open any more; no, they’re all gone, all gone:  oh! come away!’

“I had heard as much of this brutal tragedy as made his allusions barely intelligible, but on attempting to gain any further information from him, he relapsed, as he generally did, into his usual abruptness of manner.  He now passed down towards the cultivated country, at a pace which I was once more obliged to request him to moderate.

“‘Well,’ said he, ’if you don’t care, I needn’t, for we’ll have it—­I know by the roarin’ of the river and by the look of the mountains there above.’

“‘What shall we have, Raymond?’ I inquired.

“‘No matther,’ said he, rather to himself than to me, ’we can cross the stick.* But I’ll show you the place, for I was there at the time, and his coffin was on the top of his father’s.  Ha, ha, I liked that, and they all cried but Mary, and she laughed and sung, and clapped her hands when the clay was makin’ a noise upon them, and then the people cried more.  I cried for him in the little coffin, for I loved him—­I wondher God doesn’t kill M’Clutchy—­the curse o’ God, and the blessin’ o’ the devil on him!  Ha, ha, there’s one now:  let him take it.’

     * In mountain rivers a “stick,” or plank, is frequently a
     substitute for a bridge.

“We still proceeded at a brisk pace for about a mile and a half, leaving the dark and savage hills behind us, when Raymond turning about, directed my attention to the mountains.  These were overhung by masses of black clouds, that were all charged with rain and the elements of a tempest.  From one of these depended a phenomenon which I had never witnessed before—­I mean a water spout, wavering in its black and terrible beauty over this savage scenery,

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thus adding its gloomy grandeur to the sublimity of the thunder-storm, which now deepened, peal after peal, among the mountains.  To such as are unacquainted with mountain scenery, and have never witnessed an inland water spout, it is only necessary to say, that it resembles a long inverted cone, that hangs from a bank of clouds whose blackness is impenetrable.  It appears immovable at the upper part, where it joins the clouds; but, as it gradually tapers to a long and delicate point, it waves to and fro with a beautiful and gentle motion, which blends a sense of grace with the very terror it excites.  It seldom lasts more than a few minutes, for, as soon as the clouds are dispersed by the thunder it disappears so quickly, that, having once taken your eye off it when it begins to diminish, it is gone before you can catch it again—­a fact which adds something of a wild and supernatural character to its life-like motion and appearance.  The storm in which we saw it, was altogether confined to the mountains, where it raged for a long time, evidently pouring down deluges of rain, whilst on the hill side which we traversed, there was nothing but calmness and sunshine.

“‘It will be before us,’ said Raymond, pointing to a dry torrent bed close beside us; ’whisht, here it is—–­ha, ha, I like that—­see it, see it!’

“I looked in the direction of his hand, and was entranced in a kind of wild and novel delight, by witnessing a large bursting body of water, something between a dark and yellow hue, tumbling down the bed of the river, with a roaring noise and impetuosity of which I had never formed any conception before.  From the spot we stood on, up to its formation among the mountains, the river was literally a furious mountain torrent, foaming over its very banks, whilst from the same place down to the cultivated country it was almost dry, with merely an odd pool, connected here and there by a stream too shallow to cover the round worn stones in its channel.  So rapid, and, indeed dangerous, is the rise of a mountain flood, that many a life of man and beast have fallen victims to the fatal speed of its progress.  Raymond now bent his steps over to the left, and, in a few minutes, we entered a graveyard, so closely surrounded by majestic whitethorns, that it came upon me by surprise.

“‘Whisht,’ said he, ’she’s often here—­behind this ould chapel.  For ’tis there they are, the two big coffins and the little one—­but I liked the little one best.’

“He conducted me to an old mullioned window in the gable, through which a single glance discovered to me the female of whose insanity, and the dreadful cause of it, I had before heard.  Whilst pointing her out to me, he laid his hand upon my shoulder, and, heavy as it was, I could feel the more distinctly by its vibrations that he trembled; and, on looking into his face I perceived that he had got deadly pale, and that the same spirit of humanity and compassion, to which I have alluded, had returned to it once more.  There was not reason in his face, to be sure, but there certainly was an expression there, trembling, and mild, and beautiful, as is the light of the morning star, before the glory of the sun has unveiled itself in heaven.  To Raymond’s mind that early herald had indeed come, but that was all—­to him had never arisen the light of perfect day.

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“‘There she is,’ said he, ‘look at her, but don’t spake.’

“I looked at her with deep and melancholy interest.  She sat on a broken tombstone that lay beside the grave of those in whom her whole happiness in this life had centered.  Her dress was wofully neglected, her hair loose, that is, it escaped from her cap, her white bosom was bare, and her feet without shoe or stocking.  I could easily perceive, that great as her privations had been, God had now, perhaps in mercy, taken away her consciousness of them, for she often smiled whilst talking to herself, and occasionally seemed to feel that fulness of happiness which, whether real or not, appears so frequently in the insane.  At length she stooped down, and kissed the clay of their graves, exclaiming—­

“’There is something here that I love; but nobody will tell me what it is—­no, not one.  No matter, I know I love something—­I know I love somebody—­somebody—­and they love me—­but now will no one tell me where they are?  Wouldn’t Hugh come to me if I called him? but sure I did, and he won’t come—­and Torley, too, won’t come, and my own poor white-head, even he won’t come to me.  But whisht, may be they’re asleep; ay, asleep, and ah, sure if ever any creatures wanted sleep, they do—­sleep, darlin’s, sleep—­I’ll not make a noise to waken one of you—­but what’s that?’

“Here she clasped her hands, and looked with such a gaze of affright and horror around her, as I never saw on a human face before.

“‘What’s that?  It’s them, it’s them,’ she exclaimed—­’I hear their horses’ feet, I hear them cursin’ and swearin’—­but no matther, I’m not to be frightened.  Amn’t I Hugh Roe’s wife?—­Isn’t here God on my side, an’ are ye a match for him.—­Here—­here’s my breast, my heart, and through that you must go before you touch him.  But then,’ she added, with a sigh, ‘where’s them that I love, an’ am waitin’ for, an’ why don’t they come?’

“She once more stooped down, and kissing the grave, whispered, but loud enough to be heard, ’are ye here?  If ye are, ye may speak to me—­it’s not them, they don’t know where ye are yet—­but sure ye may speak to me.  It’s Mary, Hugh—­your mother, Torley—­your own mother, Brian dear, with the fair locks.’

“‘Ay,’ said Raymond, ’that’s the white-head she misses—­that’s him that I loved—­but sure she needn’t call him for he won’t waken.  I’ll spake to her.’  As he uttered the words he passed rapidly out of a broken portion of the wall, and, before she was aware of his approach, stood beside her.  I thought she would have been startled by his unexpected appearance, but I was mistaken; she surveyed him not only without alarm, but benignly; and after having examined him for some moments, she said, ’there are three of them, but they will not come—­don’t you know how I loved somebody?’

“‘Which o’ them?’ said Raymond.

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“‘It’s a long sleep,’ she said, without noticing the question, ’a long sleep—­well, they want it, poor things, for there was but little for them but care, and cowld, and hardship—­Sure we had sickness—­Torley left us first; but,—­let me see,—­where did Poor Brian go?  Well, no matter, we had sickness, as I said, and sometimes we had little or nothing to eat, but sure still wasn’t my hand tendher about them.  I felt my heart in my fingers when I touched them, and, if I gave them a drink didn’t my heart burn, and oh! it was then I knew how I loved them!  Whisht, then, poor things—­och sure I’ll do my best—­I’ll struggle for you as well as I can—­you have none but me to do it—­it’s not the black wather I’d give my darlin’ child if I had betther; but gruel is what I can’t get, for the sorra one grain of mail is undher the roof wid me; but I’ll warm the cowld potato for my pet, and you can play wid it till you fall asleep, accushla.  Yes, I will kiss you; for afther all, isn’t that the richest little treat that your poor mother has to comfort you with in your poor cowld sick bed—­one and all o’ ye.’

“Here she rocked herself to and fro, precisely as if she had been sitting by the sick bed, then stooping down a third time, she kissed the earth that contained them once more—­

“‘Ah,’ she exclaimed, ’how cowld their lips are! how cowld my white-haired boy’s lips are! and their sleep is long—­Oh! but their sleep is long!’

“Raymond, during these incoherent expressions, stood mutely beside her, his lips, however, often moving, as if he were communing with himself, or endeavoring to shape some words of rude comfort in her sorrows; but ever and anon, as he seemed to go about it, his face moved with feelings which he could not utter, like the surface of a brook stirred by the breeze that passes over it.  At length he laid his hand gently on her shoulder, and exclaimed in a tone of wild and thrilling compassion—­

“‘Mary!’

“She then started for a moment, and looking around her with something like curiosity rather than alarm, replied—­

“‘Well—­’

“‘Mary,’ said he, ’make haste and go to heaven; make haste and go to heaven—­you’ll find them all there—­Hugh Regan, and Torley, and little Brian.  Don’t stop here, for there will be more blood, more bloodhounds, and more Val M’Clutchy’s.’

“She did not seem to have noticed his particular words, but there appeared to have been some association awakened which gave a new impulse to her thoughts—­

“‘Come away,’ said she, ‘come away!’

“Raymond turned, and looking towards where I stood, beckoned me to follow them; and truly it was a touching sight to see this unregulated attempt of the poor innocent, to sooth the heavy sorrows—­if such they were now—­of one of whose malady could appreciate no sympathy, and whose stricken heart was apparently beyond the reach of consolation forever.

“Both now proceeded in silence, Raymond still holding her by the hand, and affording her every assistance, as we crossed the fields, in order to shorten the path which led us to the Castle Cumber road.  On coming to a ditch, for instance, he would lift her, but still with care and gentleness, in his powerful arms, and place her, with scarcely any effort of her own strength, which, indeed, was nearly gone, safely and easily upon the other side.

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“We had now crossed that part of the sloping upland which led us out upon a bridle road, that passed close by M’Loughlin’s house and manufactory, and which, slanted across a ford in the river, a little above their flax-mill.  Having got out upon this little road, Raymond, who, as well as his companion, had for some time past proceeded in silence, stopped suddenly, and said—­’Where is heaven, Mary?’

“She involuntarily looked up towards the sky, with a quick but more significant glance than any I had yet seen her give; but this immediately passed away, and she said in a low voice, very full of the usual tones of sorrow:—­’Heaven—­it’s there,’ she replied, pointing behind her, towards the burying-place, ‘in their graves!’

“Raymond looked at me, and smiled, as if much pleased with the answer.  ‘Ay,’ said he, ‘so it is—­wherever his white head lies is heaven.’

“I cannot tell how it happened, but I know that I felt every source of tenderness and compassion in my heart moved and opened more by these simple words on both sides, than by all that had passed since we met her.

“In a few minutes more we reached that part of the road immediately adjoining M’Loughlin’s house, and which expanded itself as it reached the river, that here became a ford, being crossed in ordinary cases by stone steps.  As is usual in the case of such, floods, which fall as rapidly as they rise, we found about a dozen persons of both sexes, some sitting, others standing, but all waiting until the river should subside so as to be passed with safety—­the little wooden bridge alluded to having been literally swept away.  Among these was Poll Doolin, the mother of Raymond, who, however, did not appear to take any particular notice of her, but kept close by, and directed all his attention to, unhappy Mary O’Regan.  About half an hour, had elapsed, when Raymond, casting his eye upon the decreasing torrent, said—­

“’It is now low enough—­come, Mary, I will carry you safe over—­Raymond has often crossed it higher, ay, when it was over the rock there to our right—­come.’  He lifted her up in his arms without another word, and, with firm and confident steps, proceeded to ford the still powerful and angry stream.

“‘Raymond, are you mad?’ shouted his mother; ’ten times your strength couldn’t stand that flood—­come back, you headstrong creature, or you’ll both be lost, as sure as you attempt it.’

“Her remonstrances, however, were in vain.  Raymond did not even look back, nor pay the slightest attention to what she said.

“‘Never mind them,’ said he; ‘I know best—­it’s often I crossed it.’

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“On reaching the centre of the stream, however, he appeared to feel as if he had miscalculated the strength of either it or himself.  He stood for a moment literally shaking like a reed in its strong current—­the passive maniac still in his arms, uncertain whether to advance with her or go back.  Experience, however, had often told him, that if the fording it were at all practicable, the danger was tenfold to return, for by the very act of changing the position, a man must necessarily lose the firmness of his opposition to the stream, and consequently be borne away without the power of resisting it.  Raymond, therefore, balanced himself as steadily as possible, and by feeling and making sure his footing in the most cautious manner—­the slightest possible slip or stumble being at that moment fatal—­he, with surprising strength and courage, had just succeeded in placing her safely on the rock he had before alluded to, when a stone turned under him—­his foot gave way—­and the poor creature, whose reason was veiled to almost every impulse but that of a wild and touching humanity, tumbled down the boiling torrent, helpless and unresisting as a child, and utterly beyond the reach of assistance.  My own sensations and feelings I really cannot describe, because, in point of fact, such was the tumult—­the horror—­of my mind at that moment, that I have no distinct recollection of my impressions.  I think for a short space I must have lost both my sight and hearing, for I now distinctly remember to have heard, only for the first time, the piercing screams of his mother rising above the wild and alarming cries of the others—­but not until he had gone down the stream, and disappeared round a sharp angle or bend, which it formed about eight or ten yards below where he fell.

“There grew a little to the left of the spot where this shocking disaster occurred, a small clump of whitethorn trees, so closely matted together, that it was impossible to see through them.  We all, therefore, ran round as if by instinct, to watch the tumbling body of poor Raymond, when what was our surprise to see a powerful young man, about eight or ten yards below us, dashing into the stream; where, although the current was narrower, it was less violent, and holding by a strong projecting branch of hazel that grew on the bank, stretch across the flood, and, as the body of Raymond passed him, seize it with a vigorous grasp, which brought it close to where he stood.  Feeling that both were now out of the force of the current, he caught it in his arms, and ere any of us had either time or presence of mind even to proffer assistance, he carried, or rather dragged it out of the water, and laid it on the dry bank.

“‘Come,’ said he, ’I am afraid there is little time to be lost—­help me up with him to my father’s, till we see what can be done to recover life, if life is left.’

“The fact is, however, that Raymond was not altogether insensible; for, as young M’Loughlin—­the same, by the way, who had sent the message to Phil—­had concluded, he opened his eyes, breathed, and after gulping up some water, looked about him.

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“‘Ah!’ said he, ’poor Mary—­she’s gone to them at last; but she’ll be happier with them.  Take my hand,’ said he to M’Loughlin, ’sure I thought I could do it.  Poor Mary!’

“This instantly directed our attention to the unhappy woman, whom we had all overlooked and forgotten for the moment, and I need not say that our satisfaction was complete, on finding her sitting calmly on the rock where Raymond had placed her, at the risk of his life.  Poll Doolin, now seeing that her idiot son was safe, and feeling that she was indebted for his life to the son of that man on whom she is said by many to have wreaked such a fearful vengeance, through the ruined reputation of his only daughter, now approached the young man, and with her features deeply convulsed by a sense probably of her obligation to him, she stretched out her hand, ‘John M’Loughlin,’ said she, ’from this day out may God prosper me here and hereafter, if I’m not the friend of you and yours!’

“‘Bad and vindictive woman,’ replied the other indignantly, whilst he held back the hand she sought, ’our accounts are now settled—­I have saved your son; you have murdered my sister.  If you are capable of remorse I now leave you to the hell of your own conscience, which can be but little less in punishment than that of the damned.’

“Raymond, whose attention had been divided between them and Mary O’Regan, now said—­

“’Ha, ha, mother—­there—­that’s one—­you’ll sleep sound now I hope, for you didn’t lately—­that little thing that comes to your bedside at night, won’t trouble you any more, I suppose.  No, no, the thing you say in your sleep, that is black in the face, has its tongue out, and the handkerchief drawn tight about its neck.  You’d give back the money in your dhrame; but sorry a penny while you’re waken, I’ll engage.’

“Poll turned away rebuked, but not, if one could judge, either in resentment or revenge.  Raymond’s words she had not heard, and of course paid no attention to what he said; but the latter, now seeing that the river had fallen considerably, again dashed into the stream, and crossing over, lifted the poor insane widow off the rock, and setting her down in safety on the other side, they both proceeded onwards together.

“‘The ford, sir, will not be passable for at least another hour,’ said young M’Loughlin, addressing me, ’but if you will have the kindness to step up to my father’s, and rest a little after your mountain journey, for I think you have been up the hills, you will find it at least more comfortable than standing here, and less fatiguing than going round by the bridge, which would make it at least five miles added to your journey.’

“I thanked him, said I felt obliged, and would gladly avail myself of his very civil invitation.

“‘Perhaps,’ he added, ’you might wish to see our flax and linen manufactory; if so, and that you do not think it troublesome, I will feel great pleasure in showing it to you.’

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“I expressed my obligations, but pleaded fatigue, which indeed I felt; and we consequently soon found ourselves in his father’s parlor, where I met a very venerable old gentleman, the Rev. Mr. Roche, the Roman Catholic pastor of the parish.”

We must here exercise the privilege, which, at the commencement of this correspondence, we assured our readers we should reserve to ourselves—­we allude to the ability which we possess, from ampler and clearer sources of information—­to throw into Mr. Easel’s correspondence, in their proper place, such incidents as he could not have possibly known, but which let in considerable light upon the progress of his narrative.

CHAPTER XVIII.—­An Execution by Val’s Blood-Hounds

Cruel Consequences of Phil’s Plot Against Mary M’Loughlin—­Dreadful Determination of her Brothers—­An Oath of Blood—­Father Roche’s Knowledge of Nature—­Interview Between Mary and her Brothers—­Influence and Triumph of Domestic Affection

The hellish and cowardly plot against Mary M’Loughlin’s reputation, and which the reader knows has already been planned and perpetrated by Poll Doolin and Phil M’Clutchy, was, as such vile calumnies mostly are, generally successful with the public.  On her own immediate relations and family, who knew her firmness, candor, purity of heart, and self-respect, the foul slander had no effect whatsoever, at least in shaking their confidence in her sense of honor and discretion.  With the greedy and brutal public, however, it was otherwise; and the discovery of this fact, which reached them in a thousand ways, it was that filled their hearts with such unparalleled distress, terrible agony, and that expanding spirit of revenge which is never satisfied, until it closes on him whose crime has given it birth.  In truth,—­and it is not to be wondered at—­as how almost could it be otherwise?—­the diabolical and cowardly crime of Phil M’Clutchy towards their sweet and unoffending sister, had changed her three brothers from men into so many savage and insatiable Frankensteins, resolved never to cease dogging his guilty steps, until their vengeance had slaked its burning thirst in his caitiff blood.

Immediately after the night of its occurrence, a change began to take place in the conduct and deportment of their general acquaintances.  Visitors dropped off, some from actual delicacy, and an unaffected compassion, and others from that shrinking fear of moral contagion, which is always most loudly and severely expressed by the private sinner and hypocrite.  Their sister’s conduct was, in fact, the topic of general discussion throughout the parish, and we need not say that such discussions usually were terminated—­first in great compassion for the poor girl, and then as their virtue warmed, in as earnest denunciations of her guilt.  To an indifferent person, however, without any prejudice either for or against her, it was really impossible, considering the satanic success with which the plot was managed, and the number of witnesses actually present at its accomplishment, to consider Miss M’Loughlin as free at least from gross and indefensible levity, and a most unjustifiable relaxation of female prudence, at a period when it was known she was actually engaged to another.

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This certainly looked very suspicious, and we need scarcely say that a cessation of all visits, intimacy, and correspondence, immediately took place, on the part of female friends and acquaintances.  In fact the innocent victim of this dastardly plot was completely deserted, and the little party of her friends was by no means a match for the large and godly hosts who charitably combined to establish her guilt.  Her father, with all his manliness of character, and sterling integrity, was not distressed on his daughter’s account only.  There was another cause of anxiety to him equally deep—­we mean the mysterious change that had come over his sons, in consequence of this blasting calamity.  He saw clearly that they had come to the dark and stern determination of avenging their sister’s disgrace upon its author, and that at whatever risk.  This in truth to him was the greater affliction of the two, and he accordingly addressed himself with all his authority and influence over them, to the difficult task of plucking this frightful resolution out of their hearts.  In his attempt to execute this task, he found himself baffled and obstructed by other circumstances of a very distracting nature.  First, there were the rascally paragraphs alluding to his embarrassments on the one hand, and those which, while pretending to vindicate him and his partner from any risk of bankruptcy, levelled the assassin’s blow at the reputation of his poor daughter, on the other.  Both told; but the first with an effect which no mere moral courage or consciousness of integrity, however high, could enable him to meet.  Creditors came in, alarmed very naturally at the reports against his solvency, and demanded settlement of their accounts from the firm.  These, in the first instances, were immediately made out and paid; but this would not do—­other claimants came, equally pressing—­one after another—­and each so anxious in the early panic to secure himself, that ere long the instability which, in the beginning, had no existence, was gradually felt, and the firm of Harman and M’Loughlin felt themselves on the eve of actual bankruptcy.

These matters all pressed heavily and bitterly on both father and sons.  But we have yet omitted to mention that which, amidst all the lights in which the daughter contemplated the ruin of her fair fame, fell with most desolating consequences upon her heart—­we mean her rejection by Harman, and the deliberate expression of his belief in her guilt.  And, indeed, when our readers remember how artfully the web of iniquity was drawn around her, and the circumstances of mystery in which Harman himself had witnessed her connection with Poll Doolin, whose character for conducting intrigues he knew too well, they need not be surprised that he threw her off as a deceitful and treacherous wanton, in whom no man of a generous and honorable nature could or ought to place confidence, and who was unworthy even of an explanation.  Mary M’Loughlin

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could have borne everything but this.  Yes; the abandonment of friends—­of acquaintances—­of a fickle world itself; but here it was where her moral courage foiled her.  The very hope to which her heart had clung from its first early and innocent impulses—­the man to whom she looked up as the future guide, friend, and partner of her life, and for whose sake and safety she had suffered herself to be brought within the meshes of her enemies and his—­this man, her betrothed husband, had openly expressed his conviction of her being unfit to become his wife, upon hearing from his cousin and namesake an account of what that young man had witnessed.  Something between a nervous and brain fever had seized her on the very night of this heinous stratagem; but from that she was gradually recovering when at length she heard, by accident, of Harman’s having unequivocally and finally withdrawn from the engagement.  Under this she sank.  It was now in vain to attempt giving her support, or cheering her spirits.  Depression, debility, apathy, restlessness, and all the symptoms of a breaking constitution and a broken heart, soon began to set in and mark her for an early, and what was worse, an ignominious grave.  It was then that her brothers deemed it full time to act.  Their father, on the night before the day on which poor Raymond was rescued from death, observed them secretly preparing firearms,—­for they had already, as the reader knows, satisfied themselves that M’Clutchy, junior, would not fight—­took an opportunity of securing their weapons in a place where he knew they could not be found.  This, however, was of little avail—­they told him it must and should be done, and that neither he nor any other individual in existence should debar them from the execution of their just, calm, and reasonable vengeance—­for such were their very words.  In this situation matters were, when about eleven o’clock the next morning, Father Roche, who, from the beginning, had been there to aid and console, as was his wont, wherever calamity or sorrow called upon him, made his appearance in the family, much to the relief of M’Loughlin’s mind, who dreaded the gloomy deed which his sons had proposed to themselves to execute, and who knew besides, that in this good and pious priest he had a powerful and eloquent ally.  After the first salutations had passed, M’Loughlin asked for a private interview with him; and when they had remained about a quarter of an hour together, the three sons were sent for, all of whom entered with silent and sullen resolution strongly impressed on their stern, pale, and immovable features.  Father Roche himself was startled even into something like terror, when he witnessed this most extraordinary change in the whole bearing and deportment of the young men, whom he had always known so buoyant and open-hearted.

“My dear young friends,” said he, calmly and affectionately, “your father has just disclosed to me a circumstance, to which, did it not proceed from his lips, I could not yield credit.  Is it true that you have come to the most unchristian and frightful determination of shedding blood?”

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“Call it just and righteous,” said John, calmly.

“Yes,” followed the other two, “it is both.”

“In his cowardly crime he has evaded the responsibility of law,” continued John, “and we care not if his punishment goes beyond law itself.  We will answer for it with our lives—­but in the mean time, he must die.”

“You see, Father Roche,” observed M’Loughlin, “to what a hardened state the strong temptations of the devil has brought them.”

“It is not that,” said John; “it is affection for our injured sister, whom he has doubly murdered—­it is also hatred of himself, and of the oppression we are receiving in so many shapes at his hands.  He must die.”

“Yes,” repeated the two brothers, “he must die, it is now too late.”

“Ha!” said the priest, “I understand you; there is an oath here.”

The three brothers smiled, but spoke not.

“Are ye my sons?” said the father, in tears, “and will you, who were ever obedient and dutiful, disregard me now?”

“In this one thing we must,” said John “we know you not now as our father.  Am I right?” said he, addressing his brothers.

“You are right,” they replied, “in this thing he is not our father.”

“Great God!” said the priest, trembling with absolute dread at a scene so different from any he had ever witnessed, “Merciful Father, hear our prayers, and drive the evil spirits of vengeance and blood out of the hearts of these wicked men!”

“Amen!” said their father, “and rescue them from the strong temptations of the devil which are in them and upon them.  Why do you not even pray to God—­”

“—­For strength to do it—­we did, and we do,” said John, interrupting him.

Father Roche looked at them, and there they stood, pale, silent, and with a smile upon their lips which filled him with a description of awe and fear that was new to him.  Their father was little better; the perspiration stood on his brow, and as he looked at them, he at times began to doubt their very identity, and to believe that the whole interview might be a phantasma, or a hideous dream.

“You have sworn an oath,” said the priest.  “Rash and sinful men, you dared blasphemously to take, as it were, the Almighty into a league of blood!  Do you not know that the creature you are about to slay is the work of your Creator, even as you are yourselves, and what power have you over his life?  I see, I see,” he added, “you have taken a sacrilegious oath of blood!”

“We have taken an oath of blood,” said they, “and we will keep it.”

“But is this just to your sister?” said the priest; “do you believe in the justice of an Almighty Providence?  Is there no probability that, if this man lives, circumstances may come to light by which her fair and spotless character may be vindicated to the world?  On the contrary, should you now take his life, you prevent any such possibility from ever happening; and your own rashness and ungodly crime, will be the means of sending her name down to posterity, foul and spotted with the imputation of woman’s worst guilt.  Is that love for your sister?”

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Father Roche now began to see that he must argue with their passions—­or with that strong affection for their sister, upon which these fearful passions were founded—­rather than with their reason or their prejudices, which, in point of fact were now immovably set in the dark determination of crime.

“Do you forget,” he added, “that there are laws in the country to pursue and overtake the murderer?  Do you forget that you will die an ignominious death, and that, instead of acting an honorable part in life, as becomes your ancient and noble name, you will bequeath nothing to your parents but an inheritance of shame and infamy?”

“We have thought of all this before,” said John.

“No, not all,” said the youngest; “not all, but nearly.”

“Well, nearly,” said the other.

“Then,” said the priest, “you will not hesitate to renounce your most foul and diabolical intention?”

“We have sworn it,” said John, “and it must be done.”  To this the others calmly assented.

“Well, then,” said the earnest Christian, “since you fear neither disgrace, nor shame, nor the force of human laws, nor the dread of human punishment, you are not so hardened as to bid defiance to the Almighty, by whom you will be judged.  Has he not said, ’thou shalt do no murder? and that whoso sheddeth blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’  I now ask you,” said he, “as one of the humblest of his accredited messengers, do you believe in God and fear him?”

“We are sworn,” said John; “the blood of him who has dishonored our sister’s name we will shed, and it is neither priest nor parent who will or shall prevent us.”

“Is not a rash and unlawful oath a crime?” said Father Roche:  “yes, and you know it is better broken than kept.  I call upon you now, as your spiritual guide, to renounce that blasphemous oath of blood, and in the name of the Almighty and all powerful God, I command you to do it.”

“We deny your right to interfere,” replied John, “we are not now at confession—­keep within your limits; for as sure as there is death and Judgment, so sure as we will fulfil our oath in avenging the disgrace of our sister.  That ends all, and we will speak no more.”

The good old man began to fear that he should be put to the most painful necessity of lodging informations before a magistrate, and thus become the means of bringing’ disgrace and evil upon the family when it occurred to him to ask them a last question.

“My dear young men,” said he, “I have forgotten, in the agitation of mind occasioned by the unprecedented disclosure of your evil and wilful intentions, to ask, if you so far renounce God as to refuse to worship him.  Kneel down, and let us pray.”  He himself and their father knelt, but the three brothers stood as sullen and immovable as before.  Tho priest uttered a short prayer, but their conduct so completely perplexed and shocked him, that he rose up, and with tears in his eyes, exclaimed—­

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“I am now an old man, and have witnessed many instances of error, and sin, and deep crime, but never before have I seen in persons of your early years, such instances—­such awful, terrible instances—­of that impenitence in which the heart, setting aside God and his sacred ordinances, is given over to the hardness of final reprobation.  I can do no more, as the ambassador of Christ, but I must not stand by and see a fellow-creature—­oh! thank God,” he exclaimed, “a thought recurs to my mind which had for a time passed out of it.  My good friend,” he said, addressing old M’Loughlin, “will you bring Mary in, if she is able to come—­say I request to see her here.”

“We will go now,” said the eldest, “you can want us no longer.”

“You shall not go,” replied Father Roche firmly, “if you are men, stay—­or, if cowards, who are afraid to look into the depths of your own dark designs, you will and may go—­we want you not.”  This language perplexed them, but they stood as before, and moved not.

In a few minutes Mary came in, leaning on her father’s arm; but, ah! what a change from the elegant outline and clear, healthy cheek—­from the red plump lips, and dark mellow eyes, which carried fascination in every glance and grace in every motion!  Sweet, and beautiful, and interesting, she still unquestionably was, but her pale cheek, languid eye, and low tremulous voice, told a tale, which, when the cause of it was reflected on, had literally scorched up out of her brother’s hearts every remaining vestige of humanity.

“Mary,” said the priest, we have requested your presence, my child, for a most important purpose—­and, in communicating that purpose to you, we indeed give the strongest proof of our confidence in your firmness and good sense—­nay, I will add, in the truth and fervor of your dependence on the sustaining power of religion.”

“In my own strength or discretion I will never depend more,” she replied, sighing deeply.

“You must exert great courage and firmness now, then,” rejoined Father Roche; “In the first place, you are about to have a disclosure made which will be apt to shock you; and, in the next place, I have only to say, that it is the absolute necessity of your knowing it, in order to prevent dreadful consequences from ensuing upon it, that forces us to make you cognizant of it at all.”

“I trust I shall endeavor at least to bear it,” she returned; “I am not strong, and I do not think that too much preparation will add to my strength.”

“I agree with you, my child,” said Father Roche, “and have only made such as I deemed indispensably necessary.  The fact then is, my poor girl, that your brothers meditate violence against that most base and wicked person who—­”

“I know, sir, the person to whom you allude; but I will thank you, if you can avoid it, not to name him.”

“I have no such intention,” replied the good man, “but bad and profligate as he is, it is still worse that your three brothers should propose such violence.”

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“But what do you mean by violence—­of course violence of any description is beneath them.  Surely,—­John, you would not stoop—­”

She looked at them as she spoke, and, as before, there was no mistaking the meaning of the cold and deadly smile which lay upon their lips, and contrasted so strongly and strangely with their kindling eyes.

“What fearful expression is this,” she asked, with evident terror and trepidation; “my dear brothers, what does this mean?—­that is, if you be my brothers, for I can scarcely recognize you—­what is it, in the name of heaven?”

The brothers looked at her, but spoke not, nor moved.

“They have taken an oath, Mary, to wipe out your shame in his blood,” added the priest.

She immediately rose up without aid, and approached them.

“This is not true, my dear brothers,” said she, “this cannot be true—­deny it for your sister.”

“We cannot deny it, Mary,” said John, “for it is true, and must be done—­our vengeance is ripe, hot, burning, and will wait no longer.”

“John,” said she, calmly, “recollect ’vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it.’”

“I told them so,” said their father, “but I receive no attention at their hands.”

“Vengeance is ours,” said John, in a deeper and more determined voice than he had ever uttered, “vengeance is ours, and we shall repay it.”  The others repeated his words as before.

“Obstinate and unhappy young men,” said the priest, “you know not, or you forget, that this is blasphemy.”

“This, my dear sir,” observed their sister, getting still more deadly,pale than before, “is not blasphemy, it is insanity—­my three brothers are insane; that is it.  Relieve me, John,” said she, recovering herself, “and say it is so.”

“If we were insane, Mary,” replied her brother, calmly, “our words would go for nothing.”

“But, is it not a dreadful thing,” she continued, “that I should be glad of such an alternative?”

“Mary,” said the priest, “ask them to pray; they refused to join me and their father, perhaps you may be more successful.”

“They will certainly pray,” said she; “I never knew them to omit it a night, much less refuse it.  Surely they will join their poor sister Mary, who will not long—­” She hesitated from motives which the reader can understand, but immediately knelt down to prayer.

During prayer the three brothers stood and knelt not, neither did they speak.  When prayers were concluded, she arose, and with tears in her eyes, approached her eldest-brother.

“John,” said she, “can it be that the brother of Mary M’Loughlin is an assassin?  I will answer for you,” she said.  “Kiss me, for I am weak and feeble, and must go to bed.”

“I cannot kiss you,” he replied; “I can never kiss you more, Mary—­for it must be—­done.”

The tears still streamed copiously down her cheeks, as they did down those of her father and the amiable priest.  The latter, who never took his eye off her, was praying; incessantly, as might be seen by the motion, of his lips.

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“Alick,” she proceeded, turning to her second brother, “surely won’t refuse to kiss and embrace his only sister, before she withdraws for the day.”

“I cannot kiss you, my pure sister; I can never kiss you more.  We have sworn, and it must be done.”

“I thought I had brothers,” said she, “but I find I am now brotherless—­yet perhaps not altogether so.  I had once a young, generous, innocent, and very affectionate playfellow.  It was known that I loved him—­that we all loved him best.  Will he desert his loving sister, now that the world has done so? or will he allow her to kiss, him, and to pray that the darkness of guilt may never overshadow his young and generous spirit.  Bryan,” she added, “I am Mary, your sister, whom you loved—­and surely you are my own dearest brother.”

Whilst she uttered the words, the tears:  which flowed from her eyes fell upon his face.  He looked at her pale features, so full of love and tenderness—­the muscles of his face worked strongly; but at length, with a loud cry, he threw himself over, caught her in his arms, and laying her head upon his bosom, wept aloud.  The evil spell was now broken.  Neither John nor Alick could resist the contagion of tenderness which their beloved sister shed into their hearts.  Their tears flowed fast—­their caresses were added to those of Brian; and as they penitently embraced her, they retracted their awful oath, and promised never again to think of violence, revenge, or bloodshed.

Thus did the force and purity of domestic affection charm back into their hearts the very spirit which its own excess had before driven out of it;—­and thus it is that many a triumph over crime is won by the tenderness and strength of that affection, when neither reason, nor religion, nor any other principle that we are acquainted with, can succeed in leading captive the fearful purposes of resentment and revenge.

“Now,” said Father Eoche, “we have still a, duty to perform, and that is, to return thanks to Almighty God for the dark and deadly crime, and the woeful sorrow, which, by his grace and mercy, he has averted from this family; and I think we may take this blessing—­for such surely it is—­as an earnest hope that the same Divine hand, which has put aside this impending calamity from us, may, and will, in his own good time, remove the other afflictions which the enmity and wickedness of evil hearts, and evil councils have brought upon us; but especially let us kneel and return thanks for the great and happy change which, through the humility and affection of one of us, has been wrought upon the rest.”

He then knelt down, and on this occasion the iron sinews of these young men became soft, and were bent in remorse, sorrow, repentance.  The pious priest prayed fervently and humbly, and as his tears fell fast, in the trusting sincerity of his heart and the meek earnestness of his spirit, it is almost unnecessary to say, that those of his little flock accompanied him.  The brothers wept bitterly, for the rocky heart of each had been touched, and religion completed the triumph which affection had begun.

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Such had been the situation of this family on the day alluded to by Mr. Easel, who could not, of course, have had any means of becoming acquainted with them, but as we felt that the incidents were necessary to give fulness to his narrative, we did not hesitate to introduce them here, where a knowledge of them was so necessary.  We now allow Mr. Easel himself to resume his narrative.

“This venerable pastor,” continues Mr. Easel, “is a thin, pale man, but, evidently, in consequence of temperance and moderation in his general habits of living, a healthy one.  He cannot be less than seventy, but the singular clearness of his complexion, and the steady lustre of his gray eye, lead you to suppose that he is scarcely that.  He is tall and without stoop, and, from the intellectual character of his high and benevolent forehead, added to the mildness of his other features, and his whole face, he presented, I must say, a very striking combination of dignity and meekness.  His dress is plain, and nothing can be more fine and impressive than the contrast between his simple black apparel, and the long flowing snow-white hair which falls over it.  His holy zeal as a Christian minister, unobscured by secular feelings, or an unbecoming participation in the angry turmoils of political life, possessed all the simple beauty of pure and primitive piety.  Father Roche received his education on the Continent, in several parts of which he has held ecclesiastical appointments, one being the Presidency of an Irish College.  He consequently speaks most, if not all, of the continental languages; but so utterly free from display, and so simple are his manners, that you would not on a first interview, no, nor on a second, ever suppose the man to be what he is—­a most accomplished scholar and divine.  In one thing, however, you never could be mistaken—­that his manners, with all their simplicity, are those of a gentleman, possessing as they do, all the ease, and, when he chooses, the elegance of a man who has moved in high and polished society.  He has only been a few years in Ireland.  After a glass of wine and some desultory conversation touching public events and the state of this unfortunate and unsettled country, upon all of which he spoke with singular good temper and moderation, we went to see the manufactory, now that I had recovered from my fatigue.  This building is two or three hundred yards from the house, and as we were on our way there, it so happened that he and I found ourselves together, and at some distance from M’Loughlin and his sons.

“‘You were introduced, sir,’ said he, ‘to me as Mr. Easel.’

“I bowed.

“‘I am not inquisitive,’ he added with a smile, ’because in this case I do not find it necessary; but I am candid.’

“I began to feel slightly uneasy, so I only bowed again, but could say nothing.

“‘I have met you on the continent.’

“‘It is quite possible,’ I replied, ‘I have been there.’

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“He laid his finger on my shoulder, and added still with a gentle and significant smile, ’I am in possession of your secret, and I say so, to take you merely as far as I am concerned, out of a false, and myself out of a somewhat painful position.  It would be embarrassing to me, for instance, to meet and treat you as that which you are not, knowing as I do what you are; and it will relieve you from the difficulty of sustaining a part that is not your own, at least so far as I am concerned.’

“‘I certainly perceive,’ I replied, ’that you are in possession of that, which in this country, I thought known only to myself and another.’

“‘Your secret,’ he said emphatically, ‘shall be inviolable.’

“’I feel it, my good sir,’I replied, ’and now, let me ask, on what part of the continent did we meet?’

“Let it suffice to say here, that he brought himself distinctly to my memory, through the medium of a very kind office performed for a friend of mine, who, at the time, stood in circumstances not only of difficulty, but of considerable personal danger.

“Having viewed the manufactory, which is somewhat of a novelty in this immediate locality, we were about to take our leave, when four men, evidently strangers, and each remarkable for that hardened and insolent look which begets suspicion at a glance, now entered the concern with an air of ruffian authority, and with all the offensive forms of which the law is capable, laid on an execution, to the amount of fourteen hundred pounds.

“Old M’Loughlin received the intelligence, and witnessed the proceedings, with a smile, in which there was something that struck me as being peculiarly manly and independent.

“‘This,’ said he, ’although coming from a quarter that I deemed to be friendly, is the heaviest blow, connected with our business, that we have received yet.  Still, gentlemen,’ he proceeded, addressing Father Roche and myself, ’I trust it won’t signify—­a mere passing embarrassment.  This manufactory, as you may perceive, complete through all its machinery, which is of the very best and costliest description, together with the property in it, is worth five times the amount of the execution.’

“‘Yes, but you forget,’ replied the leading ruffian, ’that property under an execution isn’t to be judged by its real value.  In general it doesn’t bring one-tenth, no, nor one-fifteenth of its true value, when auctioned out, as it will be, under a writ.’

“‘Ay, by Jabers,’ said another of them, ‘an’ what’s better still, you forget that your lease is expired, and that Lord Cumber has sent over word for you not to get a renewal—­nor Harman either.’

“‘Is this true?’ I inquired of Father Roche; ’do you imagine it to be possible?’

“‘That fellow is bad authority for anything,’ he replied, ’but I fear that in this Point, he is too correct.  However, let us ask M’Loughlin himself, who, certainly, has the best right to know.’

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“This I resolved on, not because I was ignorant of the fact, which you know I had from M’Clutchy himself, but that I might ascertain that gentleman’s mode of transacting business, and his fairness towards Lord Cumber’s tenants.

“’What this man says, Mr. M’Loughlin, surely cannot be possible—­does he mean to assert that Lord Cumber refused to renew your lease, although he must be aware that you have expended in the erection of this fine manufactory a sum not less, I should suppose, than five or six thousand pounds.’

“‘Seven thousand six hundred,’ replied the old man, setting me right, ‘nearly four thousand between Harman and us.’

“‘But he does not refuse to renew your leases certainly?’

“‘No,’ said M’Loughlin, ’I cannot say that he does; but we have not been able to get anything like a distinct reply from him on the subject—­and, as far as reports go, they are certainly not in our favor.  We have written to Lord Cumber himself, and the only reply we could obtain was, that he had placed the whole matter in the hands of M’Clutchy, in whose justice and integrity, he said, he had the highest confidence, and that consequently we must abide by his decision.  My own impression is, that he is determined to ruin us, which he certainly will, should he refuse us a renewal.’

“‘There can be no doubt about it,’ said the eldest son, ’nor that his management of the estate and his general administration of justice are woefully one-sided.’

“‘I don’t choose to hear Mr. M’Clutchy abused,’ said the leading fellow, who, in truth, was one of his blood-hounds, as were all the rest, with one exception only, ’nor I won’t hear him abused.  You wouldn’t have him show the same favor to Papists that he would show to good, honest Protestants, that are staunch and. loyal to Church and State—­by Jabers, that would be nice work!  Do you think a man’s not to show favor to his own side, either as a magistrate or agent?—­faith that’s good!’

“‘And I’ll tell you more,’ said another of them, addressing John M’Loughlin, ’do you think, that if he dared to put Papishes on a level with us, that we’d suffer it?  By Gog, you’re out of it if you do—­we know a horse of another color, my buck.’

“‘To whom do you address such insolent language as this?’ asked the young man, ’you are here in execution of your duty, and you had better confine yourself to that.’

“’To you, my buck, I address it, and to any Papish that doesn’t like it—­and if I’m here to discharge my duty, I’ll discharge it,’ and he shook his head with insolence as he spoke; ‘an’ what’s more, I’m afeard of no man—­and I’ll discharge my duty as I like, that’s another thing—­as I like to discharge it.  Ha! d—­n me, I’m not to be put down by a parcel of Priests and Papishes, if they were ten times as bad as they are.’

“‘You are a low ruffian,’ replied the young man, ’far beneath my resentment or my notice; and it is precisely such scoundrels as you, ignorant and brutal, who bring shame and infamy upon religion itself—­and are a multiplied curse to the country.’

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“‘Very well, my buck,’ persisted this ferocious bigot, ’may be the day will come when we’ll make you remember this traisen, and swally it too.  How would you like to get a touch of the wreckers, my buck?—­an’ by Jabers, take care that you’re not in for a lick.  A lease! d—­n me but it would be a nice thing to give the like o’ you a lease!  None o’ your sort, my buck, will get that trick, so long as loyal M’Clutchy’s on the property.’

“Father Roche having taken the young man’s arm, led him away; wishing to avoid any further altercation with such persons, and immediately afterwards they set about completing an inventory of all the property, machinery, etc., in the establishment.

“‘There was one expression used by that man,’ I observed, when we got out again upon the Castle Cumber road, ’which I do not properly understand; it was, ’how should you like to get a touch of the wreckers?’

“‘The wreckers, sir,’ replied old M’Loughlin, ’are a set of men such as that fellow we have just been speaking to—­brimful of venom and hatred against Catholics and their religion.  Their creed consists of two principles, one of which I have just mentioned, that is, hatred of us; the other is a blind attachment to the Orange system.  These two combined, constitute a loyalist of the present day; and with such impressions operating upon a large mass of men like the fellow inside, who belong to an ascendant party, and are permitted to carry arms and ammunition wherever they like, either to search your house or mine, on the most frivolous pretences, it is not surprising that the country should be as it is; but it is surprising, that exposed as we are to such men, without adequate protection, we should possess any attachment at all to the throne and, constitution of these realms; or to a government which not only suffers such a state of things to exist, but either connives at or encourages it.  For instance, it was the exhibition of such principles as you have heard that man avow, that got him and those who accompany him their appointments; for, I am sorry to say, that there is no such successful recommendation as this violent party! spirit, even to situations of the very lowest class.  The highest are generally held by Orangemen, and it is attachment to their system that constitutes the only passport now-a-days to every office in the country, from the secretary to the scavenger.’

“This, I fear, is rather an overtime account of the state of things in the portion of Ireland from which I write; but, whilst I admit this, I am far from saying that the faults are all on one side.  There are prejudices equally ferocious, and quite as senseless and ignorant, on the part of the Roman Catholic party—­prejudices resulting sometimes from education, and sometimes from the want of it; but, which certainly contribute their full share to the almost disorganized state of society by which I am surrounded.”

From the same to the same in continuation.

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“May 10, 18—.  My dear Spinageberd—–­Feeling, as I did, exceedingly anxious to make myself acquainted with the true principles of the Orange institutions which have spread themselves so rapidly over the country, I need scarcely say to you that I left nothing that was fair and honorable undone, on my part, to accomplish that object; or, in other words, to ascertain whether their private principles, as a political body, harmonize with their public practices.  It is but fair to render justice to every party, and consequently it is only right and equitable to inquire whether the violent outrages committed by the low and ignorant men who belong to their body, are defensible by the regulations which are laid down for their guidance.

“On looking over the general declaration of the objects of the institution, one is certainly struck by the fairness, and liberality, and moderation, joined to a becoming avowal of attachment to the Protestant religion and the throne, which it breathes.  Here, however, it is, verbatim et literatim, in its authentic shape, with all that is good or evil in it laid clearly before you.  I deem it right, however, to preface it by the greater portion of a short but significant Report, to which are prefixed the following memorable names:—­

“’At a meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, November 29, 1798.  Present:—­Thomas Verner, Grand Master; J. C. Beresford, grand secretary; R. C. Smith, jun., deputy secretary; H. A. Woodward; J. S. Rochfort; T. F. Knipe; Samuel Montgomery; Harding Giffard; William Richardson; John Fisher; William Corbett; W. G. Galway; Francis Gregory.  Harding Giffard and S. Montgomery, Esqrs., reported as follows:—­

“’Having been honored by the Grand Lodge with instructions to revise and select a proper system of rules, for the government of Orange Lodges, we beg leave to make a report of our progress.

“’We are happy in being able to say, that in our duty upon this occasion, we received the greatest assistance from the experience of the Grand Master of Ireland, and his Deputy Grand Secretary, who did us the honor of imparting to us their sentiments.

“’Encouraged by their help, we have ventured very materially to alter the shape of the confused system which was referred to us preserving the spirit, and, as much as possible, the original words, except where we had to encounter gross violations of language and grammar.

“’The general, plan of our proceeding has been this, we have thrown what are, in our opinion, very improperly called the six first general rules, into one plain short declaration of the sentiments of the body.

“’Next in order we have given the qualifications of an Orangeman, selected from the Antrim regulations, and the rather, as it breathes a spirit of piety which cannot be too generally diffused throughout an institution, whose chief object, whatever political shape it may assume, is to preserve the Protestant Religion. ******

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“’Samuel Montgomery, “’Henby Giffard. ’"Nov. 20, 1798.”

GENERAL DECLARATION OF THE OBJECTS OF THE ORANGE INSTITUTION.

“’We associate, to the utmost of our power, to support and defend his Majesty King George the Third, the constitution and laws of this country, and the succession to the Throne in his Majesty’s illustrious house, being Protestants; for the defence of our persons and properties; and to maintain the peace of the country; and for these purposes to we will be at all times ready to assist the civil and, military powers in the just and lawful discharge of their duty.  We also associate in honor of King William the Third, Prince of Orange, whose name we bear, as supporters of his glorious memory, and the true religion by him completely established in these kingdoms.  And in order to prove our gratitude and affection for his name, we will annually celebrate the victory over James at the Boyne, on the first day of July, O.S., in every year, which day shall be our grand Era for ever.

We further declare that we are exclusively a Protestant Association; yet, detesting as we do, any intolerant spirit, we solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, that we will not persecute, injure, or upbraid any person on account of his religious opinions, PROVIDED THE SAME BE NOT HOSTILE TO THE STATE; but that we will, on the contrary, be aiding and assisting’ to every loyal subject, of every religious description, in protecting him from violence and oppression.

Qualifications requisite for an Orangeman.

“’He should have a sincere love and veneration for his Almighty Maker, productive of those lively and happy fruits, righteousness and obedience to his commands; a firm and steadfast faith in the Saviour of the world, convinced that he is the only mediator between a sinful creature and an offended Creator—­without these he cannot be a Christian; of a humane and compassionate disposition, and a courteous and affable behavior.  He should be an utter enemy to savage brutality and unchristian cruelty; a lover of society and improving company; and have a laudable regard for the Protestant religion, and a sincere desire to propagate its precepts; zealous in promoting the honor, happiness, and prosperity of his king and country; heartily desirous of victory and success in those pursuits, yet convinced and assured that God alone can grant them.  He should have a hatred of cursing and swearing, and taking the name of God in vain (a shameful practice), and he should use all opportunities of discouraging it among his brethren.  Wisdom and prudence should guide his actions—­honesty and integrity direct his conduct—­and the honor and glory of his king and country be the motives of his endeavors—­lastly, he should pay the strictest attention to a religious observance of the Sabbath, and also to temperance and sobriety.

Obligation of an Orangeman.

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“I, A. B., do solemnly and sincerely swear, of my own free will and accord, that I will, to the utmost of my power, support and defend the present king, George III., his heirs and successors, so long as he or they support the Protestant ascendancy, the constitution, and laws of these kingdoms; and that I will ever hold sacred the name of our glorious deliverer, William III., prince of Orange; and I do further swear, that I am not, nor ever was, a Roman Catholic or Papist; that I was not, am not, nor ever will be, a United Irishman, and that I never took the oath of secrecy to that, or any other treasonable society; and I do further swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will always conceal, and never will reveal, either part or parts of what is now to be privately communicated to me, until I shall be authorized so to do by the proper authorities of the Orange institution; that I will neither write it, nor indite it, stamp, stain, or engrave it, nor cause it so to be done, on paper, parchment, leaf, bark, stick, or stone, or anything, so that it may be known; and I do further swear, that I have not, to my knowledge or belief, been proposed and rejected in, or expelled from any other Orange Lodge; and that I now become an Orangeman without fear, bribery, or corruption.

“‘SO HELP ME GOD.’

Secret Articles.

“’1st.  That we will bear true allegiance to his majesty, king George III., his heirs and successors, so long as he or they support the Protestant ascendancy and that we will faithfully support and maintain the laws and constitution of these kingdoms.

“’2d.  That we will be true to all Orangemen in all just actions, neither wronging one, nor seeing him wronged to our knowledge, without acquainting him thereof.

’"3d.  That we are not to see a brother offended for sixpence or one shilling, or more, if convenient, which must be returned next meeting if possible.

“’4th.  We must not give the first assault to any person whatever; that may bring a brother into trouble.

“’5th.  We are not to carry away money, goods, or anything from any person whatever, except arms and ammunition, and those only from an enemy.

“‘6th.  We are to appear in ten hours’ warning, or whatever time is required, if possible (provided it is not hurtful to ourselves or families, and that we are served with a lawful summons from the master), otherwise we are fined as the company think proper.

“’7th.  No man can be made an Orangeman without the unanimous approbation of the body.

“’8th.  An Orangeman is to keep a brother’s secrets as his own, unless in case of murder, treason, and perjury; and that of his own free will.

“’9th.  No Roman Catholic can be admitted on any account.

“’10th.  Any Orangeman who acts contrary to these rules shall be expelled, and the same reported to all the Lodges in the kingdom and elsewhere.

“‘GOD SAVE THE KING.’

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“Among the Secret Articles are the following, which, by the way, are pretty significant, when properly understood:—­

“’4th—­We must not give the first assault to any person whatever; that might bring a brother into trouble.’

“’5th—­We are not to carry away money, goods, or anything from any person whatever, except arms and ammunition, and those only from an enemy.’

“‘6th—­We are to appear in ten hours’ warning, or whatever time is required, if possible, (provided it is not hurtful to ourselves or families, and that we are served with a lawful summons from the master), otherwise we are fined as the company think proper.’

“The Marksman’s obligation is merely a repetition of the same description of allegiance to the king, his heirs, and successors, so long as he or they maintain the Protestant ascendancy, &c, &c, together with such other obligations of secrecy as are to be found either in Orange or Ribbon Lodges, with very slight difference in their form and expression.

“Now, my dear Spinageberd, I first call your attention to that portion which is headed ‘Qualifications necessary for an Orangeman;’ and I think you will agree with me that it would be difficult, almost impossible, to find in any organized society, whether open or secret, a more formidable code of qualifications for such as may be anxious to enroll themselves amongst its members.  And I have no doubt, that had the other portions of it been conceived and acted on in the same spirit, Orangeism would have become a very different system from that which under its name now influences the principles, and inflames the passions of the lower classes of Protestants, and stimulates them too frequently to violence, and outrage, and persecution itself, under a conviction that they are only discharging their duties by a faithful adherence to its obligations.  These obligations, however, admirable as they are and ably drawn up, possess neither power nor influence in the system, being nothing more nor less than an abstract series of religious and moral duties recommended to practice, but stript of any force of obligation that might impress them on the heart and principles.  They are not embodied at all in the code in any shape or form that might touch the conscience or regulate the conduct, but on the contrary, stand there as a thing to look at and admire, but not as a matter of duty.  If they had been even drawn up as a solemn declaration, asserting on the part of the newly made member, a conviction that strict observance of their precepts was an indispensable and necessary part of his obligations as an Orangeman, they might have been productive of good effect, and raised the practices of the institution from many of the low and gross atrocities which disgraced it.  I cannot deny, however, that Orangeism, with all its crimes and outrages, has rendered very important services to the political Protestantism of the country.  In fact, it was produced at the period of its formation

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by the almost utter absence of spiritual religion in the Established Church.  Some principle was necessary to keep Protestantism from falling to pieces, and as a good one could not be found in a church which is at this moment one mass of sordid and selfish secularity,* there was nothing left for it but a combination such as this.  Indeed, you could form no conception of the state of the Protestant Church here, even while I write, although you might form a very gorgeous one of the Establishment.  The truth is she is all Establishment and no Church; and is, to quote Swift’s celebrated simile—­

     “Like a fat corpse upon a bed,
     That rots and stinks in state.”

     * Let the reader remember that this, and almost everything
     that refers to the Irish Establishment, is supposed to have
     been written about forty years ago.

“There was no purifying or restraining power in the Establishment to modify, improve, or elevate the principles of Orangeism at all.  And what has been the consequence?  Why, that in attempting to infuse her spirit into the new system she was overmatched herself, and instead of making Orangeism Christian, the institution has made her Orange.  This is fact.  The only thing we have here now in the shape of a Church is the Orange system, for if you take that away what remains?

“This, my dear Spinageberd, is not to be wondered at; for no effects are without their causes.  In this country nobody ever dreams of entering the Established Church, from pure and pious motives.  In such a Church piety may be corrupted, but it is seldom rewarded.  No, the description of persons who now enter the Church are the younger sons of our nobility and gentry, of our squires, our dignitaries, and wealthy professional men; of our judges, generals, our deans, and our bishops.  Among the sons of such men the Church is carved out, with the exception of the chines, and sirloins, and other best joints, all of which are devoured by peculiar description of Englishmen, named Bishops, who are remarkable for excessively long claws and very shark-like teeth.  In this, however, we do not blame England, but agree with Dean Swift who asserted, that in his day, she uniformly selected the most unassuming, learned and pious individuals she could get; fitted them out as became such excellent Christian men, and sent them over with the best intentions imaginable, to instruct the Irish in all Christian truth and humility.  It so happened, however, that as soon as they had reached Hounslow Heath, they were every man, without exception, stopped, stripped, and robbed, by the gentlemen who frequent that celebrated locality; who, thinking that robbery on the high Church was safer and more lucrative than robbery upon the highway, came over here instead of pious men, where they remained in their original capacity for the remainder of their lives.

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“It is impossible, in fact, that a Church so deeply infected with political corruption, so shamefully neglected in all that is spiritual and regenerative, and so openly prostituted to intrigue and ambition, can ever work with that high and holy efficacy which should characterize her.  These, however, are not her purposes, nor are they aimed at.  She exists here merely as an unholy bond between the political interests of the two countries, maintaining British authority by her wealth, and corrupting Irish honesty by her example.  I have already enumerated the class of persons who enter her, and touched upon the motives by which they are influenced.  In large families, for instance, if there happen to be a young fellow either too idle, or too stupid for the labor and duties of the other professions, there is no inconvenience or regret felt.  No matter—­he Dick, or Jack, or Tom, as the case may be, will do very well for the Church.  ’You will make a very good parson, Tom—­or a Dean--or a-----no hang it, there I must stop, I was about to say Bishop, but not being an Englishman, you cannot carve that dish, Dick.  Never mind—­you can feed upon a fat living—­or if one won’t do—­why, we must see and get you a pair of them, Bill.’

“But this, my dear Spinageberd, is not all.  You will be surprised, when I tell you, that there is no system of education necessary for entering into orders.  No system, I repeat—­properly so called—­either Scriptural or Ecclesiastical.  Some few divinity lectures are to be attended, which in general are neither well attended—­nor worth attending—­and that, I believe, is all.  One thing is certain, that the getting certificates of attendance for these lectures is a mere form, as is the examination for orders.  The consequence is, that a young candidate for a living goes into the Church burthened with very little of that lore which might spoil his appetite for its enjoyment; so harmoniously does everything here work together for the good of the pastors at the expense of the people.

“I think I have shown you that there is little in the Church of Ireland that is likely to regulate or purify the spirit of Orangeism when coming in contact with itself.  That it had little to gain from the Church in a spiritual way, and that the Church is not fulfilling the ends of her establishment here in any sense, is evident from the Report in the little work from which I have taken these extracts.  In that passage it would appear that the very existence of a Church is forgotten altogether; for Orangeism is termed ’an institution, whose chief object—­whatever political shape it may assume—­is to preserve the Protestant religion.’  I will now, before I close this batch, direct your attention to one or two passages that prove most distinctly the fact, that there stand clear in this oath of an Orangeman, principles, founded on foregone practices and conclusions, which never should have existence in a country so situated as this is.

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“The Orangemen, for instance, in the paper headed their ’General Declaration,’ say, ’We associate for the defence of our persons and properties, and to maintain the peace of the country; and for these purposes we will be at all times ready to assist the civil and military powers in the just and lawful discharge of their duty.’

“This, now, is all very plausible, but, perhaps, by looking a little more closely into the circumstances of the case, we may be able to perceive that in this passage, and one or two others of a similar character, the most objectionable part of the system lies disguised—­if one can say disguised, because to me, my dear Spinageberd, the matter seems obvious enough.  Who, then, are these men that come forward with arms in their hands, to proffer aid to the civil and military powers in the discharge of their duty?  A self-constituted body without authority, who have certainly proved themselves to be brave men, and rendered most important services to the state, at a time when such services were, no doubt, both necessary and acceptable.  The crisis, however, in which this aid was given and received, being but of brief duration, soon passed away, leaving the party opposed to government—­the rebels—­broken, punished, flogged, banished, hanged; in fact, completely discomfited, subdued, beaten down.  In other words, the rebellion of ’98 having been thoroughly suppressed, this self-elected body of men, tasting the sweets of authority, retain, under different circumstances, these obligations, which, we admit, the previous situation of the country had rendered necessary.  They retain them in times of peace, and bring into operation against men who were no longer either in a disposition or capacity to resist, those strong prejudices and that fierce spirit which, originated in tumult and civil war.  Why, nobody complains of the conduct of Orangemen, as a, body, in ’98; it is of their outrages since, that the country, and such as were opposed to them, have a right to complain.

“In another passage the declaration is still stronger and more significant:  ‘We further declare,’ say they, ’that we are exclusively a Protestant association; yet, detesting as we do, any intolerant spirit, we solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, that we will not persecute, injure, nor upbraid any person on account of his religious opinions, provided the same be not hostile to the state.’

’"That is to say, they will persecute, injure, or upbraid such persons only whose religious opinions are hostile to the state.  But, now, let me ask any man of common sense, if he could for a moment hesitate to declare on oath what religion they have alluded to as being hostile to the state?  There is, in truth, but one answer to be given—­the Roman Catholic.  What else, then, is this excessive loyalty to the state but a clause of justification for their own excesses, committed in the name, and on the behalf of religion itself?  Did they not also constitute themselves the judges who were first to determine the nature of these opinions, and afterwards the authorities who should punish them?  Here is one triumphant party with arms in their hand, who have only, if they wish, to mark out a victim, and declare his religion and principles as hostile to the state; and, lo! they are at liberty, by their own regulations, to ‘persecute’ him!

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“In the 5th secret article there occurs the following:—­’We are not to carry away money, goods, or anything, from any person whatever, except arms and ammunition, and these only from an enemy.’

“This certainly shows the nature of the cruel and domiciliary tyranny which they, subsequently to ’98, carried to such excess in different parts of the country; and here, as in the other instance, what was there to guide them in determining the crime which constituted an enemy?  Why, their own fierce prejudices alone.  Here, then, we find a body irresponsible and self-constituted, confederated together, and trained in the use of arms (but literally unknown to the constitution), sitting, without any legal authority, upon the religious opinions of a class that are hateful and obnoxious to them—­and, in fact, combining within themselves the united offices of both judge and executioner.  With the character of their loyalty I have no quarrel; I perceive it is conditional; but the doctrine of unconditional loyalty is so slavish and absurd, that the sooner such an unnecessary fetterlock is struck off the mind the better.  To-morrow evening, however, I am to be introduced to an Orange Lodge, after the actual business of it shall have been transacted and closed.  This is a privilege not conceded to many, but it is one of which I shall very gladly avail myself, in order that I may infer from their conduct some faint conception of what it generally is.”

CHAPTER XIX.—­An Orange Lodge at Full Work

—­Solomon in all his Glory—­He Defines Drinking to be a Religious Exercise—­True Blue and the Equivocal—­Phil’s Eloquence—­A Charter Toast.

From the same to the same.

“Friday, * * *

“The order of business for each night of meeting is, I find, as follows:—­1.  Lodge to open with prayer, members standing. 2.  General rules read. 3.  Members proposed. 4.  Reports from committee. 5.  Names of members called over. 6.  Members balloted for. 7.  Members made. 8.  Lodge to close with prayer, members standing.

“It was about eight o’clock, when, accompanied by a young fellow named Graham, we reached the Lodge, which, in violation of one of its own rules, was held in what was formerly called the Topertoe Tavern, but which has since been changed to the Castle Cumber Arms—­being a field per pale, on which is quartered a purse, and what seems to be an inverted utensil of lead, hammered into a coronet.  In the other is a large mouth, grinning, opposite to which is a stuffed pocket, from which hangs the motto, ‘ne quid detrimenti res privata capiat.’  Under the foot of the gentleman is the neck of a famine-struck woman, surrounded by naked and starving children, and it is by the convenient aid of her neck that he is enabled to reach the purse, or; and, indeed, such is his eagerness to catch it and the coronet, that he does not seem to care much whether he strangles her or not.  On the leaden coronet, is the motto, alluding to the head which fills it, ‘similis simili gaudet.’

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“I should mention, before proceeding further, that Mr. Valentine M’Clutchy, being master of the Lodge in question, was the individual from whom I had received permission to be present under the circumstances already specified.  The ceremony of making a member is involved in that ridiculous mystery which is calculated to meet the vulgar prejudices of low and ignorant men.  Sometimes they are made one by one, and occasionally, or, I believe, more frequently in batches of three or more, in order to save time and heighten the effect.  The novice, then, before entering the Lodge, is taken into another room, where he is blindfolded, and desired to denude himself of his shoes and stockings, his right arm is then taken out of his coat and shirt sleeves, in order to leave his right shoulder bare.  He then enters the Lodge, where he is received in silence with the exception of the master, who puts certain queries to him, which must be appropriately answered.  After this he receives on the naked shoulder three smart slaps of the open hand, as a proof of his willingness to bear every kind of persecution for the sake of truth—­of his steadfastness to the principles of Orangeism, and of his actual determination to bear violence, and, if necessary, death itself, rather than abandon it or betray his brethren.

“About nine o’clock the business of the Lodge had been despatched, and in a few minutes I received an intimation to enter from the Deputy Master, who was no other than the redoubtable and heroic Phil himself; the father having been prevented from coming, it appeared, by sudden indisposition.  As I entered, they were all seated, to the number of thirty-five or forty, about a long table, from which rose, reeking and warm, the powerful exhalations of strong punch.  On paying my respects, I was received and presented to them by Phil, who on this occasion, was in great feather, being rigged out in all the paraphernalia of Deputy Master.  The rest, also, were dressed in their orange robes, which certainly gave them a good deal of imposing effect.

“‘Gentlemen,’ said Phil,—­’Bob Sparrow, I’ll trouble you to touch the bell, and be d—­d to you—­gentlemen, this is a particular friend of mine and my father’s—­that is, we intend to make a good deal of interest in him, if it’s not his own fault, and to push him on in a way that may serve him—­but, then, he’s in the dark yet; however, I hope he won’t be long so.  This, gentlemen, is Mr. Weasel from England, who has come over to see the country.’

“‘Your health, Mr. Weasel,’ resounded from all sides, ’you’re welcome among us, and so is every friend of brother Captain Phil’s.’

“‘Gentlemen,’ said I,’ I feel much obliged for the cordiality of your reception—­but, allow me to say, that Mr. M’Clutchy has made a slight mistake in my name, which is Easel, not Weasel.’

“‘Never mind, sir,’ they replied, among a jingle of glasses, which almost prevented me from being heard, ’never mind, Mr. Evil, we don’t care a curse what your name is, provided you’re a good Protestant.  Your name may be Belzebub, instead of Evil, or Devil, for that matter—­all we want to know is, whether you’re staunch and of the right metal.’

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“‘That, gentlemen,’ I replied, ‘I trust time will tell’

“‘I shall be very proud—­I speak it not, I hope, in a worldly sense,’ said a little thin man dressed in black—­’no, not in a worldly sense I shall be proud, sir, of your acquaintance.  To me it is quite sufficient that you are here as the friend of my excellent friend, Mr. Valentine M’Clutchy; a man, I trust, not without a deep and searching spirit of—­’

“‘Come, Solomon,’ said a large, broad-shouldered man, with a face in which were singularly blended the almost incompatible principles of fun and ferocity, ’Come, Solomon, none of your preaching here so soon—­you know you’re not up to the praying point yet, nor within four tumblers of it.  So, as you say yourself, wait for your gifts, my lad.’

“‘Ah, Tom,’ replied Solomon with a smile, ’alway’s facetious—­always fond of a harmless and edifying jest.’

“‘My name, sir,’ added he, ’is M’Slime; I have the honor to be Law Agent to the Castle Cumber property, and occasionally to transact business with our friend M’Clutchy.’

“Here the waiter entered with a glass and tumbler, and Phil desired them to shove me up the decanter.  This, however, I declined, as not being yet sufficiently accustomed to whiskey punch to be able to drink it without indisposition.  I begged, however, to be allowed to substitute a little cold sherry and water in its stead.

“‘I’m afeard, sir,’ observed another strong-looking man, ’that you are likely to prove a cool Orangeman on our hands.  I never saw the man that shied his tumbler good for much.’

“‘Sir,’ said Solomon, ’you need not feel surprised at the tone of voice and familiarity in which these persons address you or me.  They are, so to speak, sturdy and independent men, who, to the natural boldness of their character, add on such occasions as this, something of the equality and license that are necessarily to be found in an Orange Lodge.  I am myself here, I trust, on different and higher principles.  Indeed it is from a purely religious motive that I come, as well as to give them the benefit of a frail, but not, I would hope, altogether unedifying example.  Their language makes me often feel now much I stand in need of grace, and how good it is sometimes for me to be tempted within my strength.  I also drink punch here, lest by declining it I might get into too strong a feeling of pride, in probably possessing greater gifts; and I need not say, sir, that a watchful Christian will be slow to miss any opportunity of keeping himself humble.  It is, then, for this purpose that I sometimes, when among these men, make myself even as one of them, and humble myself, always with an eye to edification even to the fourth or fifth cup.’

“’But I trust, sir, that these Christian descents from your vantage ground are generally rewarded.’

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“’Without boasting, I trust I may say so.  These little sacrifices of mine are not without their own appropriate compensations.  Indeed, it is seldom that such stretches of duty on the right side, and for the improvement of others, are made altogether in vain.  For instance, after the humility—­if I can call it so—­of the third cup, I am rewarded with an easy uprising of the spiritual man—­a greater sense of inward freedom—­an elevation of the soul—­a benign beatitude of spirit, that diffuses a calm, serene happiness through my whole being.’

“‘That, sir, must be delightful.’

“’It is delightful, but it is what these men—­carnal I do not wish to call them lest I fall—­it is, however, what these men—­or, indeed, any merely carnal man, cannot feel.  This, however, I feel to be a communication made to me, that in this thing I should not for the time stop; and I feel that I am not free to pass the fourth or fifth cup, knowing as how greater freedom and additional privileges will be granted.’

“‘Are the stages marked, sir, between the fourth and fifth tumblers?’

“’Cups, my friend—­there is a beauty, sir, in the economy of this that is not to be concealed.  For instance, the line between the third and fourth cups is much better marked, and no doubt for wiser purposes, than is that between the fourth and fifth.  At the fourth my spirit is filled with strong devotional tendencies—­and it is given to me to address the Lodge with something like unctional effect; but at the fifth this ecstatic spirit rises still higher, and assumes the form of praise, and psalms, spiritual songs, and political anthems.  In this whole assembly, I am sorry to say, that there is but one other humble individual who, if I may so speak, is similarly gifted, and goes along with me, pari passu, as they say, step by step, and cup by cup, until we reach the highest order, which is praise.  But, indeed, to persons so gifted in their liquor, drinking is decidedly a religious exercise.  That person is the little fellow to the right of the red-faced man up yonder, the little fellow I mean, who is pale in the face and wants an eye.  His name is Bob Spaight; he is grand cobbler, by appointment, to the Lodge, and attends all the Popish executions in the province, from principle; for he is, between you and me, a Christian man of high privileges.  As for our little touches of melodia sacra during the fifth cup, the only drawback is, that no matter what the measure of the psalm be, whether long or short, Bob is sure to sing it either to the tune of Croppies lie Down, or the Boyne Water, they being the only two he can manage; a circumstance which forces us, however otherwise united, to part company in the melody, unless when moved by compassion for poor Bob, I occasionally join him in Croppies lie Down or the other tune, for the purpose of sustaining him as a Christian and Orangeman.’

“At this time it was with something like effort that he or I could hear each other as we spoke, and, by the way, it was quite evident that little Solomon was very nearly in all his glory, from the very slight liquefaction of language which, might be observed in his conversation.

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“It occurred to me now, that as Solomon’s heart was a little bit open, and as the tide of conversation flowed both loud and tumultuous, it was a very good opportunity of getting out of him a tolerably fair account of the persons by whom we were surrounded.  I accordingly asked him the name and occupation of several whom I had observed as the most striking individuals present.

“‘That large man with the red face,’ said I, ’beside your pious and musical friend Spaight—­who is he?’

“’He is an Orange butcher, sir, who would think very little of giving a knock on the head to any Protestant who won’t deal with him.  His landlord’s tenants are about half Catholics and half Protestants, and as he makes it a point to leave them his custom in about equal degrees, this fellow—­who, between you and me—­is right in the principle, if he would only carry it out a little more quietly—­makes it a standing grievance every lodge night.  And, by and by, you will hear them abuse each other like pickpockets for the same reason.  There is a grim-looking fellow, with the great fists, a blacksmith, who is at deadly enmity with that light firm-looking man—­touching the shoeing of M’Clutchy’s cavalry.  Val, who knows a thing or two, if I may so speak, keeps them one off and the other on so admirably, that he contrives to get his own horses shod and all his other iron work done, free, gratis, for nothing between them.  This is the truth, brother Weasel:  in fact my dear brother Weasel, it is the truth.  There are few here who are not moved by some personal hope or expectation from something or from somebody.  Down there near the door are a set of fellows—­whisper in your ear—­about as great scoundrels as you could meet with; insolent, fierce, furious men, with bad passions and no principles, whose chief delight is to get drunk—­to kick up party feuds in fairs and markets, and who have, in fact, a natural love for strife.  But all are not so.  There are many respectable men here who, though a little touched, as is only natural after all, by a little cacoethes of self-interest, yet, never suffer it to interfere with the steadiness and propriety of their conduct, or the love of peace and good will.  It is these men, who, in truth, sustain the character of the Orange-Institution.  These are the men of independence and education who repress—­as far as they can—­the turbulence and outrage of the others.  But harken! now they begin.’

“At this moment the din in the room was excessive.  Phil had now begun to feel the influence of liquor, as was evident from the frequent thumpings which the table received at his hand—­the awful knitting of his eyebrows, as he commanded silence—­and the multiplicity of ’d—­n my honors,’ which interlarded his conversation.

“‘Silence, I say,’ he shouted; ’d—­n my honor if I’ll bear this.  Here’s Mr. Weasel—­eh—­Evil, or Devil; d—­n my honor, I forget—­who has come ov—­over all the way—­(All the way from Galloway, is that it?—­go on)—­all the way from England, to get a good sample of Protestantism to bring home with him to distribute among his father’s tenantry.  Now if he can’t find that among ourselves to-night, where the devil would, or could, or ought he to go look for it?’

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“‘Hurra—­bravo—­hear brother Captain Phil.’

“‘Yes, gentlemen,’ continued Phil, rising up; ’yes, Mr. Civil—­Evil—­Devil; d—­n my honor, I must be on it now—­I am bold to say that we are—­are—­a set of—­’

“‘Hurra—­hurra—­we are, brother Captain Phil’

“’And, gentlemen, not only that, but true blues. (Three cheers for the Castle Cumber True Blue.) And what’s a true blue, gentlemen?  I ask you zealously—­I ask you as a gentleman—­I ask you as a man—­I ask you determinedly, as one that will do or die, if it comes to that’—­(here there was a thump on the table at every word)—­I ask you as an officer of the Castle Cumber Cavalry—­and, gentlemen, let any man that hears me—­that hears me, I say—­because, gentlemen, I ask upon independent principles, as the Deputy-Master of this Lodge, gentlemen—­(cheers, hurra, hurra)—­and the question is an important one—­one of the greatest and most extraordinary comprehension, so to speak; because, gentlemen, it involves—­this great question does—­it involves the welfare of his majesty, gentlemen, and of the great and good King William, gentlemen, who freed us from Pope and Popery, gentlemen, and wooden shoes, gentlemen—­’

“‘But not from wooden spoons, gentlemen,’ in a disguised voice from the lower end of the table.

“’Eh?—­certainly not—­certainly not—­I thank my worthy brother for the hint.  No, gentlemen, we unfortunately have wooden spoons up to the present day; but, gentlemen, if we work well together—­if we be in earnest—­if we draw the blade and throw away the scabbard, like our brothers, the glorious heroes of Scullabogue—­there is as little doubt, gentlemen, as that the sun this moment—­the moon, gentlemen; I beg pardon—­shines this moment, that we will yet banish wooden spoons, as the great and good King William did Popery, brass money, and wooden shoes.  Gentlemen, you will excuse me for this warmth; but I am not ashamed of it—­it is the warmth, gentlemen, that keeps us cool in the moment—­the glorious, pious and immortal moment of danger and true loyalty, and attachment to our Church, which we all love and practise on constitutional principles.  I trust, gentlemen, you will excuse me for this historical account of my feelings—­they are the principles, gentlemen, of a gentleman—­of a man—­of an officer of the Castle Cumber Cavalry—­and lastly of him who has the honor—­the glorious, pious, and immortal honor, I may say, to hold the honorable situation of Deputy-Master of this honorable Lodge.  Gentlemen, I propose our charter toast, with nine times nine—­the glorious, pious, and immortal memory.  Take the time, gentlemen, from me—­hip, hip, hurra.’

“‘Brother M’Clutchy,’ said a solemn-looking man, dressed in black, ’you are a little out of order—­or if not out of order, you have, with great respect, travelled beyond the usages of the Lodge.  In the first place—­of course you will pardon me—­I speak with great respect—­but, in the first place, you have proposed the charter toast, before that of the King, Protestant Ascendancy, Church and State; and besides, have proposed it with nine times nine, though it is always drunk in solemn silence.’

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“‘In all truth and piety, I deny that,’ replied little Bob Spaight.  ’When I was in Lodge Eleventeen, eleven-teen—­no, seventeen, ay, seventeen—­we always, undher God, drank it with cheers.  Some of them danced—­but othes I won’t name them, that were more graciously gifted, chorused it with that blessed air of ‘Croppies lie Down,’ and sometimes with the precious psalm of the ‘Boyne Water.’

“’I’m obliged to Mr. Hintwell for his observations, for I’m sure they were well meant; but, gentlemen, with every respect for his—­his greater and more tractable qualifications, I must say, that I acted from zeal, from zeal—­zeal, gentlemen, what’s an Orangeman without zeal?  I’ll tell you what he is—­an Orangeman without zeal is a shadow without a light, a smoke without a fire,’ or a Papist without treason.  That’s what he’s like, and now, having answered him, I think I may sit down.’

“Phil, however, whose first night of office it happened to be, as Chairman of the Lodge, had still sense enough about him to go on with the toasts in their proper order.  He accordingly commenced with the King, Protestant Ascendancy, the Gates of Bandon, with several other toasts peculiar to the time and place.  At length he rose and said:—­

“’Gentlemen, are you charged—­fill high, gentlemen, for, though it’s a low toast, we’ll gloriously rise and drink it—­are you all charged?’

“‘All charged, hurra, captain!’

“’Here, gentlemen, another of our charter toast—­The pope in the pillory, the pillory in hell, and the devils pelting him with priests!  Gentlemen, I cannot let that—­that beautiful toast pass without—­out adding a few words to it.  Gentlemen it presents a glorious sight, a glorious, pious, and immortal memory of the great and good—­ha, beg pardon, gentlemen—­a glorious, pious, and immortal sight—­think of the pillory, gentlemen, isn’t that in itself a glorious and pious sight?  And think of the pope, gentlemen; isn’t the pope also a glorious and pious sight?’

“‘With all truth and piety, and undher God, I deny that,’ said Bob Spaight.

“‘And so do I,’ said a second.

“‘And I,’ added a third.

“‘What damned Popish doctrine is this?’ said several others.

“‘Brother Phil, be good enough to recollect yourself,’ said Solomon, ’we feel, that as a Protestant and Orangeman, you are not doctrinally correct now; be steady, or rather steadfast—­fast in the faith.’

“Phil, however, looked oracles, his whole face and person were literally being expanded, as it were, with the consciousness of some immediate triumph.

“‘Gentlemen,’ he proceeded, ’have a little patience—­I say the pope is a glorious and pious sight—­’

“‘Undher God—­’

“‘Silence Bob.’

“’But I mean when he’s in the pillory—­ek; d—­n my honor, I have you all there! ha, ha, ha!’

“‘Hurra, hurra, three cheers more for the captain!’

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“‘Gentlemen,’ he proceeded, ’please to fill again—­I give you now the Castle Cumber press, the True Blue and Equivocal, with the healths of Messrs. Yellowboy and Cantwell.’

“’Hurra!  Messrs. Yallowboy and Cant-well! hurra, Mr. Yellow, Mr. Yellow.’

“Mr. Yellowboy, who had not been able to come earlier, in consequence of the morrow being publishing day with him, now rose.  He was a tall, thin, bony-looking person, who might very well have taken his name from his complexion.

“’Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, and brothers—­I rise with great and powerful diffidence to speak, to express myself, and to utter my sentiments before this most respectable, and, what is more, truly loyal auditory—­hem.  In returning thanks, gentlemen, for the Castle Cumber True Blue (cheers), I am sure I am not actuated by any motive but that staunch and loyal one which stimulates us all—­hem.  The True Blue, gentlemen, is conducted—­has been conducted—­and shall be conducted to all eternity—­should I continue to be so long at the head of it—­so long I say, gentlemen’—­here the speaker’s eye began to roll—­and he slapped the table with vehemence—­’I shall, if at the head of it so long, conduct it to all eternity upon the self-same, identical, underivating principles that have identified me with it for the last six months.  What’s Pruddestantism, gentlemen, without a bold, straightforward press to take care of its pruvileges and interests?  It’s nothing, gentlemen.’

“‘Undher God, sir, and with all piety and perseverance I deny—­’

“’Silence, brother Bob, don’t interrupt Mr. Yellowboy, he’ll make himself plain by and by.’

“‘I deny—­’

“‘Silence—­I say.’

“’Nothing, gentlemen—­a candle that’s of no use unless it’s lit—­and the press is the match that lights it (hurra, cheers).  But, as I said in defending Pruddestantism, we advocate civil and religious liberty all over the world—­I say so boldly—­for, gentlemen, whatever I say, I do say boldly’—­here he glanced at the Equivocal—­’I am not the man to present you with two faces—­or I’m not the man rather to carry two faces—­and only show you one of them—­I’m not the man to make prutensions as a defender of civil and religious liberty, with a Protestant face to the front of my head, and a Popish face in my pocket—­to be produced for the adversary of Popery and idolatry—­whenever I can conciliate a clique by doing so.’  Here there was a look of sarcastic defiance turned upon Cantwell—­who, conscious of his own integrity—­merely returned it with a meek and benignant smile, a la Solomon.

“’No, gentlemen, I am none of those things—­but a bold, honest, uncompermising Pruddestant—­who will support the church and Constitution for ever—­who will uphold Pruddestant Ascendancy to the Day of Judgment—­keep down Popery and treason—­and support civil and religious liberty over the world to all eternity.’

“‘Cheers—­hurra—­hurra—­success brother Yellowboy.’

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“’And now, gentlemen, before I sit down there is but one observation more that I wish to make.  If it was only idontified with myself I would never notice it—­but it’s not only idontified with me but with you, gentlemen—­for I am sorry to say there is a snake in the grass—­a base, dangerous, Equivocal, crawling reptile among us—­who, wherever truth and loyalty is concerned, never has a leg to stand upon, or can put a pen to paper but with a deceitful calumniating attention.  He who can divulge the secrets of our Lodge’—­(Here there was another furious look sent across which received a polite bow and smile as before)—­’who can divulge, gentlemen, the secrets of our Lodge, and allude to those who have been there—­I refer, gentlemen, to a paragraph that appeared in the Equivocal some time ago—­in which a hint was thrown out that I was found by the editor of that paper lying-drunk in the channel of Castle Cumber Main-street, opposite his office—­that he brought me in, recovered me, and then helped me home.  Now, gentlemen, I’ll just mention one circumstance that will disprove the whole base and calumnious charge—­it is this—­on rising next morning I found that I had eight and three halfpence safe in my pocket—­and yet that reptile says that he carried me into his house!!!  Having thus, gentlemen, triumphantly refuted that charge, I have the pleasure of drinking your healths—­the healths of all honest men, and confusion to those who betray the secrets of an Orange Lodge!’

“As each paper had its party in the Lodge, it is not to be supposed that this attack upon the Editor of the Equivocal was at all received with unanimous approbation.  Far from it.  Several hisses were given, which again were met by cheers, and these by counter cheers.  In this disorder Mr. Cantwell rose, his face beaming with mildness and benignity—­sweetness and smiles—­and having bowed, stood all meekness and patience until the cheering was over.

“‘Brother Cantwell,’ said Solomon, ’remember to discard self-reliance—­let thy sup—­support be from ’—­but before he could finish, brother Cantwell turned round, and blandly bowing to him, seemed to say—­for-he did not speak—­

“’My dear brother M’Slime, I follow your admirable advice; you see I do—­I shall’

“‘Mr. Chairman,’ said he, ’gentlemen and dear brothers’—­here he paused a moment, whilst calmly removing the tumbler out of his way that he might have room to place his hand upon the table and gently lean towards the chairman.  He then serenely smoothed down the frill of his shirt, during which his friends cheered—­and ere commencing he gave them another short, and, as it were, parenthetical bow.  ’Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, and dear brothers, I do not rise upon this very unpleasant occasion—­unpleasant to me it is, but not on my account—­for the purpose of giving vent to the coarse effusions of an unlettered mind, that shapes its vulgar outpourings in bad language and worse feeling.  No, I am incapable

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of the bad feeling, in the first place, and, thanks to my education, of illiterate language, in the second.  It has pleased my friend Mr. Yellowboy—­if he will still allow me to call him so—­for I appeal to you all whether it becomes those who sit under this hallowed roof to disagree—­it has pleased him, I say, to bring charges against me, to some of which I certainly must plead guilty—­if guilt there be in it.  It has pleased him to charge me with the unbrotherly crime, the unchristian crime, the un-orange crime’—­here he smiled more blandly at every term, and then brought his smiling eye to bear on his antagonist—­’of lifting him out of the channel about twelve o’clock at night, where he lay—­I may say so among ourselves—­in state of most comfortable, but un-orange-like intoxication.’

“The audience now being mostly drunk, were tickled with this compliment to their sobriety, and cheered and shouted for more than a minute.  ’Go on Cantwell!  By Japers, you’re no blockhead!’

“’Under Providence, and with all piety I say it, he will vanquish the yallow sinner over there.’

“‘Brother Cantwell,’ observed Mr. M’Slime, ’go on—­the gift is not withheld.’

“Another smiling bow to M’Slime, as much as to say, ’I know it’s not—­I feel it’s not.’

“’This, gentlemen, and dear brothers, was my crime—­I acted the good Samaritan towards him—­that was my crime.  May I often commit it!’

“‘Is that your pretended charity, sir?’ said Yellowboy, whose temper was sorely tried by the other’s calmness; ’don’t you know, sir, that you cannot become the Samaritan unless I become the drunkard? and yet you hope often to commit it!’

“No notice whatsoever taken of this.

“’—­But perhaps there was still a greater crime in this affair.  I allude to the crime of having, after the account of his frailty had taken wind through the whole country, ventured to defend it, or rather to place it in such a light as might enable the public to place it to the account of mere animal exhaustion, independent of the real cause.  And I have reason to know, that to a very enlarged extent I succeeded—­for many persons having heard of the circumstance in its worse and most offensive sense, actually came to my office—­’

“‘Yes, after you had made it public, as far as you could.’

“’—­To my office, to inquire into it.  And I assure you all, gentlemen, that from motives at once of the Christian and the Orangeman, I merely informed them that the gentleman had certainly had, about the time specified, a very severe fit—­I did not add of intoxication—­oh the contrary, I charitably stopped there, and now it would appear that this forbearance on my part is another crime.  But even that is not all.  The occasion which called forth the paragraph in the paper which I have honor to conduct, was one which I shall just allude to.  Some time ago there was inserted in the True Blue a short article headed ’Susanna and the Elder,’ in which certain vague and idle reports, fabricated by some person who bears enmity to a most respectable Christian gentleman, who honors us this moment with his presence—­’

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“Solomon here approached him, and grasping his hand, exclaimed—­

“’Thank you, my dear brother Cantwell—­thank you a hundred times; yours is the part of a true Christian; so go on, I entreat you—­here is nothing to be ashamed of—­I know it is good to be tried.’

“’Now it was really the charity contained in the article from the True Blue that struck me so forcibly—­for it not only breathed the scandal so gently, as that it would scarcely stain a mirror—­and it did not stain the mirror against which the report was directed—­but it placed it as it were, before his eyes, that he might not be maligned without his knowledge, on taking steps to triumph over it, which our friend did—­and great was his triumph and meekly was it borne on the occasion.  With respect to my political creed, gentlemen, you all know it is my boast that I belong to no party.  I advocate broad and general principles; and the more comprehensive they are, so does my love of kind take a wider range.  I am a patriot, that is my boast—­a moderate man—­an educated man; I am, at least, a competent master of the English language, which I trust I can write and speak like a gentleman.  I am not given to low and gross habits of life; I am never found in a state of beastly intoxication late at night, or early in the day; nor do I suffer my paper to become the vehicle of gratifying that private slander or personal resentment which I am not capable of writing myself, and have not the courage to acknowledge as a man.  I am not a poor, kicked, horse-whipped, and degraded scoundrel, whose malignity is only surpassed by my cowardice—­whose principal delight is to stab in the dark—­a lurking assassin, but not an open murderer—­a sneaking, skulking thief, without the manliness of the highwayman—­a pitiful, servile—­but, I believe, I have said enough.  Well, gentlemen, I trust I am none of these; nor am I saying who is.  Perhaps it would be impossible to find them all centred in the same man; but if it were, it would certainly be quite as extraordinary to find that man seated at an Orange Lodge.  Brother Yellowboy, I have the pleasure of drinking your health.’

“Brother Yellowboy felt that he was no match at all for Cantwell; so in order to escape the further venom of his tongue, he drank his in return, and joined in the cheers with which his speech was received; for by this time the audience cared not a fig what was said by either party.”

CHAPTER XX.—­Sobriety and Loyalty

—­A Checkered Dialogue—­The Beauty and Necessity of Human Frailty —­A Burning and Shining Light Going Home in the Dark—­The Value of a Lanthorn.

“The character or forms of decency which had hitherto prevailed, now began to disappear.  M’Clutchy’s blood-hounds, or wreckers—­for they were indiscriminately termed both—­having drank a great deal of liquor, became quite violent, and nothing now was heard but party songs, loud talk, and offensive toasts, mingled with a good deal of personal abuse, and private jealousies of each other’s influence with M’Clutchy.

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“’D—­n your blood, Grimes, I’m as loyal as ever you were.  Wasn’t my grandfather a Tory hunter, who houghed and hanged more bloody Papishes—­’

“‘Who’s that,’ said Bob, ’talking about hanging Papishes?  Where—­where are they to be hanged?  Under God, I have seen more of the villains hanged than any other frail sinner in the province.  Oh, it is a consoling—­a sustaining sight!’

“’What’s the reason, then, that the Protestant gentry of the country don’t stand by their own?  Why do they deal with Papishes?  By Japers they don’t daserve us to stand by them.’

“’I say, Fulton, it’s a d—­d lie.  I was at the wrecking of the Ballygrass Threshers, when you shabbed sickness and wouldn’t go.’

“’And I am glad I didn’t.  A purty business you made of it—­to pull down the houses, and wreck the furniture about the ears of a set of women and children; I say such conduct is disgraceful to Orangemen.’

“‘An’ what the devil right have you to expect the sargeantship, then, when you won’t perform its duties?’

“’I don’t care a d—­n about you or it.  The Pope in the pillory, the pillory in h—­l—­’

“’—­Sent the bullet through his palm, and kept his finger and thumb together ever since—­

“’Lerolero lillibullero, lillibullerobuuenela.’—­

’—­Sleet or slaughter, holy water, Sprinkle the Catholics every one; Cut them asunder, and make them lie undher, The Protestant boys will carry their own.—.

“’They can never stand the guns—­the lead makes them fly—­and, by Japers, they’ll get it.—­’

“‘What health, man? out with it; are we to sit here all night for it?—­’

“’He gets half his bread from a d——­d Papish, merely because, he’s his tenant—­instead of getting the whole of it from me, that’s better than a tenant, a brother Orangeman—­

     “’King James he pitched his tents between
     The lines for to retire;
     But King William threw his bomb balls in,
     And set them all on fire.’—­

“In fact the confusion of Babel was nothing to it now, every voice was loud, and what between singing, swearing, shouting, arguing, drinking toasts, and howling, of various descriptions, it would not be easy to to find anything in any other country that could be compared to it.

“Phil himself was by this time nearly as drunk as any of them, but in consequence of several hints from those who preserved their sobriety, and several of them did, he now got to his legs, and called silence.

“’Silence, sil-sil-silence, I say, d—­n my honor if I’ll bear this.  Do you think (hiccup) we can separate without drinking the Castle Cu-Cumber toast.  Fill, gentle-(hic-cup)-men, here’s Lord Cumber and the Castle-Castle Cu-Cumber property, with the health of Sol-Sol-Solo-Solomon M’Slime, Esq.—­

     “’For God will be our king this day,
     And I’ll be the general over—­eh—­over—­no, no, under.’—­

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“‘Under, I believe (hiccup)—­’

“‘Silence, there, I say.’

“‘My friends—­my dear friends,’ said Solomon—­’my brothers—­Christian brethren, I should say, for you are Christian brethren—­Lord Cumber’s health is a good thing, and his property is a good thing; and I—­I return you thanks for it, as I am bound to do, as a Christian.  Am I Christian?  Well—­’ (here he smiled, and laying his hand upon his heart, added,) ’well I know what I feel here, that is all.  My dear friends, I said that Lord Cumber’s health and property were good things, but I know a thing that’s better, more valuable, richer—­and what is that?  It is here, in this poor frail—­but not frail so long as that thing is here—­that thing, what is it?  Oh, if you had prayed for it, wrestled for it, fought for it, as I did, you would know what it is, and all the delightful and elevating consolations it brings along with it.  Surely some one drank Lord Cumber’s health!  That was well; he sitteth in a high place, and deserveth honor.  Let us drink his health, my friends—­let us drink it, yea, abundantly, even unto rejoicing.  But what is this thing?  Why, it is the sense of inward support, a mild, sweet light, that diffuses pleasant thoughts through you, that multiplies every good gift about you, that makes one cup of pleasant liquor seem two.  It is not to many that these things are vouchsafed; not, I believe, to any here, always with humility and fear be it spoken, excepting Bob Spaight and myself—­

“’—­July the first in Oldbridge town,

responded Bob,

     “’ There was a grievous battle,
     Where many a man lay on the ground,
     By the cannons that did rattle.’—­

“‘Yea,’ pursued Bob, ’the gift is come, brother Solomon—­the fifth cup always brings it—­

—­’King James he pitched his tents between’—­

“‘Aye, but, brother Bob,’ resumed Solomon, ’the gift is a little too soon on this occasion.  Let me give the words, and, Bob, if you could manage the ‘Protestant Boys,’ rather than ‘Croppies lie Down,’ it would suit it; and, indeed, it would be well if the whole congregation joined us in it.  I shall give the words—­let me see, long measure, eight lines, four nines, and four six-sixes;—­

     “’There’s nought but care on every hand,
     In every hour that passes, oh,
     What signifies the life o’ man,
     An’ ’twere not for the lasses, oh.”

eh, let me see—­am I right?’

“‘Right,’ they shouted, ’never were half so right, Solomon.  We’ll join you to a man,’ and accordingly, with one voice, they gave the stanza at the top of their voices, little Bob leading them, to the air of ‘Croppies lie Down,’ in a style that was perfectly irresistible.

“Thus ended a night in an Orange Lodge, but not so out of it.  Those who had to go any distance, were armed, and the consequence was, that when they got into the street, they commenced their usual courses:  shots were fired in every direction, offensive songs were sung—­any money for the face of a Papist—­to hell with the Pope—­Ram down Catholics, and so on.  At length, by degrees these all ceased, the streets gradually grew quiet, then still, and another night closed upon the habits of a class of men, who, in the wantonness of their power, scarcely knew what they did.

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“Having witnessed the scene just described—­a scene that accounted very clearly for at least one important phase of Irish life—­I deemed it full time to go to bed, this being the inn in which I stop.  I accordingly was about to ascend the staircase, from the lobby, for we sat in the back drawing-room, when I thought I heard a voice that was not unfamiliar to me, giving expression to language—­in which I could perceive there was a very peculiar blending of love and devotion; that is to say, it was exceedingly difficult, from the admirable tact with which he balanced the application of the two principles, whether Solomon, for it was he, loved the physical or the spiritual system of the barmaid, for it was she, with more earnestness and warmth.  The family at this time had all retired for the night, with the exception of boots, and the barmaid in question, a well made, pretty Irish girl, with a pair of roguish eyes in her head, that beamed with fun and good humor.  Solomon, instead of going home, had got into a little retired spot behind the bar, called the snuggery, and into which, of course, she attended him with a glass of liquor.

“‘Eliza,’ said Solomon, ’Eliza, I have often had an intention of asking you to allow me the privilege and the pleasure, Eliza, of some serious conversation with you.  It is a trying world, a wicked world, and to—­to a girl—­so charming a girl as you are, Eliza—­’

“‘Charming, Mr. M’Slime; well, well!’

“’Charming, certainly, as regards your person, your external person—­your person is indeed very charming, and verily, Eliza, this brandy and water is truly precious, so beautifully blended, that I cannot—­now, Eliza, will you pardon me a small, but, I trust, not unedifying joke; yes, you will—­I know—­I see you will—­very well, then, the little joke is pardoned—­this brandy and water are so beautifully blended, that I cannot help thinking there is something in that sweet hand of yours that diffuses a delicious flavor upon it—­I know that such things exist.’

“’Upon my word, Mr. M’Slime, from such a religious gentleman as you are, I didn’t expect—­’

“’Ah, my dear Eliza, that is coming to the root of the matter, and I am glad to find that you are not insensible to it.  On that subject, my sweet girl, and you are a sweet girl—­it is that I propose to speak with you—­to commune with you—­in a spirit, my dear Eliza, of love and affection.  Will you then take a seat—­a seat, my dear Eliza.’

“’I fear I cannot, sir; you know there is no one else to keep an eye to the bar.’

“’The business of the bar, my dear girl, is over for this night; but not, I trust—­sincerely trust—­that of the sweet barmaid; do sit, Eliza, pray be seated, and let me have a word with you in season; thank you, but not at such a distance, Eliza, such an inconvenient distance; I say inconvenient—­because—­ugh, ugh, I have caught a slight cold—­as a trial it came—­and I will receive it so, that has fallen for the time—­ugh, ugh, ugh—­upon my lungs, and renders it a good deal troublesome to me to speak loud; so that the nearer you sit—­and it has affected my head a little, only with a slight deafness, though, which—­were you speaking, my dear?’

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“‘No, sir.’

“‘Yes, so I thought, you were saying something—­will soon pass away.’

“I thought this dialogue, on the part of M’Slime, too characteristic to be lost.  I accordingly stole somewhat near the snuggery, until I got into a position from whence I could see them clearly, without being seen myself.  It was quite evident from the humor, which, in spite of a demure face glinted from her eye, that Eliza’s object was to occasion M’Slime to assume his real character, for I could easily see that from time to time she felt very considerable difficulty in suppressing her laughter.

“’The deafness, Eliza, I feel particularly troublesome, though not painful; as while transacting business it f-forces me to sit so, very close to my clients.’

“’But I am not a client, Mr. M’Slime, and you need not draw your chair so close to me—­there now, that will do.’

“’You are my sweet—­sweet girl; you are my client—­and you shall be my client—­and upon a most important subject—­the most important of all; verily, Eliza, this is a most delicious cup of refreshment.  How did you flavor it—­but, indeed, if I were, as I have been, before I was graciously called and chosen, I would have recourse to a harmless gallantry, and say that this most ambrosial beverage must have caught its sweetness from your lips—­its fragrance from your breath—­and its lustre from your eyes—­I would say so—­if I were as I have been—­and, indeed, as I am—­even yet, frail, Eliza, still frail, and very far, indeed, from perfection—­but—­still, even as I am I could scarcely scruple to relapse a little—­yea, only a little, Eliza, for the sake of such lips—­of such eyes—­and such a fragrant breath.  Alas! we are all frail.’

“’But, Mr. M’Slime, I surely didn’t think that you who stand so high in the religious world, and that the people look upon as a saint, would talk as you do.’

“’Ah, Eliza, my dear girl, it is very natural for you in your hitherto darkened state to say so; but, sweet Eliza, if you had your privileges, you could understand me.  For instance, in the indulgence of this precious little dialogue with you, I am only following up a duty that strengthens myself; for, Eliza, my precious creature, if more light were given you, you would be permitted to feel that an occasional lapse is for our good, by showing us our own weakness and how little we can do of ourselves.  No—­there is nothing which gives us so much confidence and strength as to know our own weakness; but, my sweet girl, of what use is it for us to know it, if we do not feel it; and why feel it—­unless we suffer it for better purposes to teach us a practical lesson to humble us.’

“’That’s queer doctrine, Mr. M’Slime, and I don’t properly understand it.’

“’I know you don’t, my darling girl; for it has not been given to you, as yet, to understand it.  Nay, it seems, as it were, a stumbling block to you, in your present state.’

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“‘Why, do you think me so very great a sinner, sir?’

“’Not by acts, Eliza—­and what a soft name is Eliza—­soft as a pillow of down—­but by condition.  You are exalted now, upon pride—­not personal pride, but the pride of position.  You think you are incapable of error or infirmity, but you must be brought—­down to a sense of your own frailty, as it were, for it is upon a consciousness of that, that you must build.’

“’That is to say, I must commit sin first, in order to know the grace of repentance afterwards.’

“’You put it too strongly, Eliza; but here is the illustration:—­You know it is said ’there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just men.’  And I know many, Eliza, who go through a long course of virtuous iniquity, in order that their triumph in the end may be the greater.  I have myself practised it on a small way, and found it refreshing.  And now, Eliza, bring me another cup of brandy and water, even for my stomach’s sake; and, Eliza, my charming girl, put it to those sweet lips—­that it may catch the true fragrance—­Christian fragrance I wish I could say—­for they are fragrant lips—­and a sweet arm—­a full tapering arm you are gifted with.  Ah!  Eliza, if you could feel as I feel—­nay, it was the chair that was unsteady—­my my heart is dis—­dissolving, Eliza.  If you were only a little more frail, my sweet girl—­we could feel this a kind of religious exercise.  Oh! these precious little frailties—­these precious little frailties!’

“’Mr. M’Slime you will excuse me, but I think you have got enough, and a little too much liquor.  If you should be seen going home in an unsteady state your character would suffer.’

“’Another cup of refreshment, Eliza—­but I am not perfection—­no—­nor would I be perfection.  What would life be without these precious little frailties—­that make us what we are.’

“‘With all piety and undher------’

“‘Who is that,’ inquired the maid, evidently startled, if not affrighted by a strange voice.

“‘I join—­join you, brother M’Slime, for another cup of refreshment.’

“’Bob Spaight—­brother Bob—­I am glad you are here; Eliza, my darling—­my dove—­another cup for Bob, and after that we shall aid each other home—­will render one another Christian and mutual assistance.’

“‘Yes,’ replied Bob, clearing his voice:—­

(Both voices simultaneously:)

     Bob—­’King James he pitched his tents between

     Solomon—­’There’s naught but care on every hand,

     Bob—­’The lines for to retire,

     Solomon—­’In every hour that passes, O

     Bob—­’But King William threw his bomb balls in,

     Solomon—­’What signifies the life o’ man,

     Bob—­’And set them all on fire.’

     Solomon—­’An’ ‘twerna for the lasses, O!’

“Many thanks, sweet Eliza—­oh! that I could say my frail Eliza; but I shall be able to say so yet, I trust; I shall be able to say so.’

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“‘God forbid,’ she replied.  ’This is not for you, Mr. M’Slime—­I certainly will give you no more this night.  But Bob here is a favorite of mine.  Bob, you will see Mr. M’Slime home?’

“’In all piety and truth, I shall see that burning and shining light home,’ returned Bob; ’in the meantime I will thank you for the loan of a lanthorn; the night is one of most unchristian darkness.’

“Solomon had now reclined his head upon the table as if for sleep, which he very probably would have indulged in, despite of all opposition; but just at this moment his horse, car, and servant most opportunely arrived, and with the aid of Bob, succeeded in getting him away, much against his own inclination; for it would appear by his language that he had no intention whatsoever of departing, if left to himself.

“‘I shall not go,’ said he; ’it is permitted to me to sojourn here this night.  Where is Eliza?  Oh!  Eliza, my darling—­these precious little frailties.’

“‘Bring the little hypocrite home out of this,’ said she, with a good deal of indignation; for, in truth, the worthy saint uttered the last words in so significant a voice, with such a confidential crow, as might have thrown out intimations not quite favorable to her sense of propriety on the occasion.  He was literally forced out, therefore; but not until he had made several efforts to grasp Eliza’s hand, and to get his arm around her.

“’She’s a sweet creature—­a delightful dove; but too innocent.  Oh!  Eliza, these precious little frailties!—­these precious little frailties!’

“‘It’s a shame,’ said Eliza, ’and a scandal to see any man making such pretensions to religion, in such a state.’

“‘In all piety and truth,’ said Bob, ’I say he’s a burning and a shining light!’

     “’ King James he pitched his tents between
     Their lines for to retire,’ &c., &c.

“And so they departed, very much to the satisfaction of Eliza and Boots, who were both obliged to sit up until his departure, although fatigued with a long day’s hard and incessant labor.  I also retired to my pillow, where I lay for a considerable time reflecting on the occurrences of the night, and the ease with which an ingenious hypocrite may turn the forms, but not the spirit of religion, to the worst and most iniquitous purpose.”

* * * * *

And thus far our friend, Mr. Easel, whom we leave to follow up his examinations into the state of the Castle Cumber property, and its management, hoping that discoveries and disclosures may at some future day be of service to the tenantry on that fine estate, as well as to the country at large.  In the meantime, we beg our readers to accompany us to the scene of many an act of gross corruption, where jobs, and jobbing, and selfishness in their worst shapes, aided by knavery, fraud, bigotry, party rancor, personal hate, and revenge long cherished—­where active loyalty and high political Protestantism, assuming the name of religion, and all the other passions and prejudices that have been suffered to scourge the country so long—­have often been in full operation, without check, restraint, or any wholesome responsibility, that might, or could, or ought to have protected the property of the people from rapine, and their persons from oppression.  The scene we allude to is the Grand Jury Room of Castle Cumber.

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CHAPTER XXI.—­Darby’s Piety Rewarded

—­A Protestant Charger, with his Precious Burthen—­A Disaffected Hack supporting a Pillar of the Church—­A Political and Religious Discussion in a Friendly Way

The Assizes had now arrived, and the Grand Panel of the county met once more to transact their fiscal and criminal business.  We omit the grand entry of the Judges, escorted, as they were, by a large military guard, and the posse comitatus of the county, not omitting to mention a goodly and imposing array of the gentry and squirearchy of the immediate and surrounding districts, many of Whom were pranked out in all the grandeur of their Orange robes.  As, however, we are only yet upon our way there, we beg you to direct your attention to two gentlemen dressed in black, and mounted each in a peculiar and characteristic manner.  One of them is a large, bloated, but rather handsome, and decidedly aristocratic looking man, with a vermilion face, mounted upon a splendid charger, whose blood and action must have been trained to that kind of subdued but elegant bearing that would seem to indicate, upon the part of the animal, a consciousness that he too owed a duty to the Church and Constitution, and had a just right to come within the category of a staunch and loyal Protestant horse, as being entrusted with the life, virtues, and dignity of no less a person than the Rev. Phineas Lucre—­all of which are now on his back assembled, as they always are, in that reverend gentleman’s precious person.  Here we account at once for the animal’s cautious sobriety of step, and pride and dignity of action, together with his devoted attachment to the Church and Constitution by which he lived, and owing to which he wore a coat quite as sleek, but by no means so black as his master’s.  The gentleman by whom he appears to be accompanied, much—­if we can judge by their motions—­against his will, seems to be quite as strongly contrasted to him, as the rough undressed hack upon which he is mounted is to the sanctified and aristocratic nag that is honored by bearing the Rev. Phineas Lucre.  The hack in question is, nevertheless, a stout and desperate looking varmint, with a red vindictive eye, moving, ill-tempered ears, and a tail that seems to be the seat of intellect, if a person is to take its quick and furious whisking as being given in reply to Mr. Lucre’s observations, or by way of corroboration of the truth uttered by the huge and able-bodied individual who is astride of him.  That individual is no other than the Rev. Father M’Cabe, who is dressed in a coat and waistcoat of coarse black broadcloth, somewhat worse for the wear, a pair of black breeches, deprived of their original gloss, and a pair of boots well greased with honest hog’s lard—­the fact being, that the wonderful discovery of Day and Martin had not then come to light.  Mr. M’Cabe has clearly an unsettled and dissatisfied seat, and

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does not sit his horse with the ease and dignity of his companion.  In fact, he feels that matters are not proceeding as he could wish, neither does the hack at all appear to bear cordiality or affection to the state which keeps him on such short commons.  They are, by no means, either of them in a state of peace or patience with the powers that be, and when the priest, at the conclusion of every sentence, gives the garran an angry dash of the spurs, as much as to say, was not that observation right, no man could mistake the venomous spirit in which the tail is whisked, and the head shaken, in reply.

It is scarcely necessary to say that either Mr. Lucre or Mr. M’Cabe were at all upon terms of intimacy.  Mr. M’Cabe considered Mr. Lucre as a wealthy epicure, fat and heretical; whilst Mr. Lucre looked upon Father McCabe as vulgar and idolatrous.  It was impossible, in fact, that with such an opinion of each other, they could for a moment agree in anything, or meet as men qualified by the virtues of their station to discharge on any one duty in common.  On the day in question, Mr. Lucre was riding towards Castle Cumber, with the pious intention of getting Darby O’Drive’s appointment to the under jailorship confirmed.  This was one motive, but there was another still stronger, which was, to have an interview with the leading men of the Grand Jury, for the purpose of getting a new road run past his Glebe House, in the first place, and, in the next, to secure a good job for himself, as a magistrate.  At all events he was proceeding towards Castle Cumber, apparently engaged in the contemplation of some important subject, but whether it was the new road to his glebe, or the old one to heaven, is beyond our penetration to determine.  Be this as it may, such was his abstraction, that he noticed not the Rev. Father M’Cabe, who had ridden for some time along with him, until that gentleman thought proper to break the ice of ceremony, and address him.

“Sir, your most obedient,” said the priest; “excuse my freedom—­I am the Rev. Mr. M’Cabe, Catholic Curate of Castle Cumber; but as I reside in the parish it is very possible you don’t know me.”

Mr. Lucre felt much hurt at the insinuation thrown out against his long absence from the parish and replied:—­

“I do not, sir, in the least regret our want of intimacy.  The character of your ministry in the parish is such, that he who can congratulate himself on not being acquainted with you has something to boast of.  Excuse me, sir, but I beg to assure you, that I am not at all solicitous of the honor of your company.”

“Touching my ministry,” said the priest, “which it pleases you to condemn, I’d have you to know, that I will teach my people how to resist oppression so long as I am able to teach them anything.  I will not allow them to remain tame drudges under burthens that make you and such as you as fat and proud as Lucifer.”

“I request you will be good enough, sir, to take some other way,” said Mr. Lucre; “you are a rude and vulgar person whom I neither know nor wish to know.  The pike and torch, sir, are congenial weapons to such a mind as yours; I do beg you will take some other way, and not continue to annoy me any longer.”

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“This way, man alive—­”

“Man alive!  To whom do you address such, a term?” said Mr. Lucre; “I really have never met so very vulgar a person; I am quite sickened, upon my honor.  Man alive!!  I trust I shall soon get rid of you.”

“This way, man alive,” responded the priest, “is as free to me, in spite of corrupt jobs and grand juries, as it is to you or any other tyrant, whether spiritual or temporal.  If there are turbulence and disturbances in this parish, it is because bad laws, unjustly administered, drive the people, first, into poverty, and then into resistance.  And, sir, you are not to tell me, for I will not believe it, that a bad law, dishonestly and partially administered, is not to be resisted by every legal means.”

“Do you call noon-day murder, midnight assassination, and incendiarism, legal?  Do you call schooling the people into rebellion, and familiarizing them with crime, legal?  All this may be allegiance to your pope, but it deserves a halter from the king and laws, of England.”

“The king and laws of England, sir, have ever been more liberal of halters to the Irish Catholics, than they have been of either common justice or fair play.  What do the Catholic people get, or have ever got, from you and such as you, in return for the luxury which you draw, without thanks, from their sweat and labor, but gaols, and chains, and scourges, and halters.  Hanging, and transportations, triangles, and drumhead verdicts, are admirable means to conciliate the Catholic people of Ireland.”

“The Catholic people of Ireland may thank you, and such red hot intemperate men as you, for the hangings, and transportations which the violated laws of the country justly awarded them.”

“And have you, sir, who wring the blood and sweat out of them, the audacity to use such language to me?  Did not your English kings and your English laws make education a crime, and did you not then most inhumanly and cruelly punish us for the offences which want of education occasioned?”

“Yes; because you made such knowledge as you then acquired, the vehicle, as you are doing now, of spreading abroad disaffection against Church and State, and of disturbing the peace of the country.”

“Because, proud parson, when the people become enlightened by education, they insist, and will insist upon their rights, and refuse to be pressed to death by such a bloated and blood-sucking incubus as your Established Church.”

“If this be true, then, upon your own showing, you ought to be favorable to education among the people; but that, we know you are not.  You have no schools; and you will not suffer us, who are willing, to educate them for you.”

“Certainly not, we have no notion to sit tamely by and see you, and such as you, instil your own principles into our flocks.  But in talking of education, in what state, let me ask you, is your own church in this blessed year of 1804, with all her wealth and splendor at her back?  I tell you, sir, in every district where the population is equal, we can show two Catholic schools for your one.  When you impute our poverty, sir, as a reluctance to educate our people, you utter a libel against the Catholic priesthood of Ireland for which you deserve to be prosecuted in a court of justice, and nailed snugly to the pillory afterwards.”

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“Nailed snugly to the pillory!  I never felt myself so much degraded as by this conversation with you.”

“Sir, the Catholic priesthood have always been at their duty at the bed of sickness, and sorrow, and death, among the poor and afflicted; where you, who live by their hard and slavish labor, have never been known to show your red nose.”

“Red nose—­ha—­ha—­dear me, how well bred, how admirably accomplished, and how finely polished.  Red nose!”

“Faith, you did well to correct me, it is only a mulberry.  Wasn’t your Irish Establishment in a blessed torpor—­dying like a plethoric parson after his venison or turtle, until ould Jack Wesley roused it?  Then, indeed, when you saw your flocks running to barns and hedges after the black caps, and the high-cheeked disciples of sanctity and strong dinners—­you yawned, rubbed your eyes, stroked your dewlaps, and waddled off to fight in your own defence against the long-winded invaders of your rounds and sirloins.  Where was your love of education before that shock, my worthy Bible man?  Faith, I’m peppering you!”

“Sir, if I could have anticipated such very vulgar insolence, I would have taken some other way.  Why obtrude yourself thus upon me?  I trust you have no notion of personal Violence?”

“Wesley nudged you.”

“Nudged us!  I do not understand your slang at all, my good sir.  Those who are taken from the ditch to the college, and sent back from the college with the crust of their original prejudices hardened upon them, are not those from whom educated men are to expect refinement or good manners.”

“From the ditch!  We are taken from humble life, proud parson, to the college; and it is better to enter college from the simplicity of humble life, than to enter the church with the rank savor of fashionable profligacy strong upon us.  Not a bad preparation for a carnal establishment, where every temptation is presented to glut every passion.”

“You forget, sir, what a system of abomination your church was before the light of the Reformation came upon her; and what a mockery of religion she is to this day.”

“Whatever I may forget, I cannot but remember the mockery of religion presented by your proud and bloated Bishops who roll in wealth, indolence, and sensuality; robbing the poor, whilst they themselves go to h—­l worth hundreds of thousands.  I cannot forget that your church is a market for venal and titled slaves, who are bought by the minister of the day to uphold his party—­that it is a carcass thrown to the wolfish, sons and brothers of the English and Irish aristocracy—­and that its bishops and dignitaries exceed in pride, violence of temper, and insolence of deportment, any other class of persons in society.  Sure they have their chaplains to pray for them—­but my soul to glory—­those that pray by proxy will go to heaven by proxy—­and so they ought.  Eh—­faith I’m peppering you.”

De te fabula narratur.  Don’t you live by praying for others?  What are your masses?”

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“Fabula, why, a fibula for your fabula, man alive.  What is your new fangled creed, but a fabula from the beginning?”

“And are you yourself not a hireling in every sense of the word?  Do you not make merchandise of the crimes and ignorance of your people?”

“Make merchandise!  This from you who take away a tenth part of the poor man’s labor without the consciousness of even professing his creed?”

“Do you ever worship the Lord aright, or address him in any language which the people can understand?”

“And do you ever seek salvation with half the zeal displayed when you lay your keen nostril to the trail of a fresh benefice or a fat mitre.  Do you not, most of you, think more of your hounds and kennels, than you do of either your churches or your flocks?”

Mr. Lucre at length pulled up his horse and fixing his eyes on Father M’Cabe, inquired why he should have fastened upon him in so offensive a manner; and Mr. M’Cabe pulling up the hack we spoke of, fixed a pair of fiery orbs on him in return, and replied—­

“I haven’t done with you yet, my worthy parson.  You needn’t scowl, I say, for if you had as many chins upon you as there are articles in your creed, I wouldn’t be prevented from bringing you to an account for interfering with my flock.”

“Rude and wretched man, how?”

“By attempting to pervert Darby O’Drive, the bailiff, and seduce him over to your heresies.”

“I would bring him over from his idolatry and superstition.  But why do you, sir, tamper with a man—­named—­named—­let me see—­Bob—­Bob Beatty, I think, who belongs to my congregation?”

“Simply because I wish to bring him over from a false church to the true one.”

“It appears that because this simple person has been afflicted with epilepsy, you have attempted, through some pious juggling or other, to effect his cure, by enjoining him not to enter a church door or eat swine’s flesh during his life.  Are you not ashamed, sir, of such ungodly frauds as this?”

“Swine’s flesh!  Call it bacon, man alive, like a man.  Yes, and I tell you moreover, that I have cured him—­and with a blessing shall cure him better still, if that is any consolation to you.  From being a purple Orangeman, I have him now hard at work every day at his Padderheen Partha.  But I now caution you not to unsettle the religious principles of Darby O’Drive, the bailiff.”

“Why, sir, the man has no religious opinion, nor ever had; thanks to Mr. M’Cabe.”

“And I’m bound to say, that such a thickheaded villian in religious matters as Bob Beatty I never met.  God knows I had a sore handful of him.  So, now remember my caution, and good bye to you; I think you’ll know me again when you meet me.”

Lucre gave him a haughty scowl ere the priest turned off a bridle road, but made no other reply—­not even by inclining his head to him; but, indeed, it was hardly to be expected that he should.

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Such is the anxiety to snap up a convert in Ireland, it matters not from what church or to what church, that Mr. Lucre lost no time in securing the appointment of honest Darby to the office of Castle Cumber Deputy Goaler—­an appointment to which both M’Clutchy and M’Slime strongly recommended him, not certainly from an excess of affection towards that simple and worthy man, but from a misgiving that an important portion of a certain correspondence in the shape of two letters was in his possession, and that so far they were prudent in declining to provoke his enmity.

CHAPTEK XXII.—–­Castle Cumber Grand Jury Room

—­A Concientious Hangman—­Way to a Glebe House of More Importance than the Way to Heaven—­Irish Method of Dispensing Justice—­Short Debate on the Spy System—­Genealogical Memoranda—­Patriotic Presentments—­A Riverless Bridge

We pass now, however, to the Grand Jury Room of the county, and truly as a subordinate tribunal for aiding the administration of justice, it was, at the time of which we write, one of the most anomalous exhibitions that could be witnessed.  It was a long room, about thirty-six or forty feet in length, by thirty, with a fire-place at each end, and one or two at the sides.  Above the chimney-piece was an oil painting of William the Third, together with a small bronze equestrian statue of the same prince, and another of George the Third.  There were some other portraits of past and present jurors, presented by themselves or their friends.  But there was certainly one which we cannot omit, although by whom presented, or on what occasion, we are wholly unable to inform the reader.  We are inclined to think it must have been placed there by some satirical wag, who wished to ridicule the extent to which mere royalty was carried in those days, and the warmth of admiration with which its most besotted manifestations were received.  The picture in question was the portrait of a pious hangman, who was too conscientious to hang any one but a Papist.  They called him Jerry Giles; a little squat fellow, with a face like a triangle, a broken nose, and a pair of misplaced or ill-matched eye-brows, one of them being nearly an inch higher up the forehead than the other.  Jerry, it seems, had his own opinions, one of which was, that there existed no law in the constitution for hanging a Protestant.  He said that if he were to hang a Protestant felon, he would be forced to consider it in his conscience only another name for suicide; and that, with a blessing, he would string up none but such vile wretches as were out of the pale of the constitution, and consequently not entitled to any political grace or salvation whatever.  And, indeed, upon the principles of the day, the portrait of Jerry was nearly as well entitled to be hung among the grand jurors as that of any one there.

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Seated about a long table, covered with green baize, were a number of men, with papers before them; whilst grouped in different parts of the room were the younger persons, amusing themselves by the accidents of the last meet—­if it happened to be the hunting season—­or the last duel, or the last female victim to the corruption and profligacy of some of those from whom, the people were to expect justice, and their families protection.  Others were whistling or humming some favorite air; and one of them, a poet, was reading a squib which he had prepared for the forthcoming election.

“Deaker, come here,” said the Foreman, “you are up to everything.  Here is Lucre, the parson, wants to have a presentment for a new line of road running through his glebe, or to his glebe—­for I suppose it is the same thing.”

“Well,” replied Deaker, “and let him have it.  Isn’t he as well entitled to a job as any of us?  What the devil—­why not put a few feathers in his nest, man?  The county has a broad back.”

“His nest is better feathered than he deserves.  He has two enormous livings, a good private fortune, and now, indeed, he must come to saddle himself upon the county in the shape of a job.”

“He has rendered good service, Mr. Hartley,” replied another of them; “good service to the government, sir, with every respect for your wonderful liberality and honesty.”

“What do you mean, sir?” asked Hartley, sternly; “do you throw out any imputation against my honor or my honesty?”

“Oh, Lord, no—­by no means; I have no relish at all for your cold lead, Mr. Hartley—­only that I don’t think you stand the best chance in the world of being returned for Castle Cumber, sir—­that is all.”

“Hartley,” asked another, with a loud laugh, “is it true that your cousin, on bringing a message to young Phil M’Clutchy, pulled his nose, and kicked him a posteriore round the room?”

“Ask his father, Dick,” said Hartley, smiling; “I have heard he was present, and, of course, he knows best.”

“I say, Vulture,” inquired the other, “is it true?”

“Ay,” returned old Deaker, “as true as the nose on your face.  That precious Phil, was a cowardly whelp all his life—­so was his father.  D—­n you, sirra; where did you get your cowardice?  I’m sure it was not from me; that is if you be mine, which is a rather problematical circumstance; for I take it you are as likely to be the descent of some rascally turnkey or hatchman, and be hanged to you, as mine.”

“Is it true, Val,” persisted the former querist, “that young Hartley pulled Phil’s nose?”

“We have come here for other purposes, Dick,” said Val.  “Certainly Phil did not wish to strike the young man in his own house, and had more sense than to violate the peace in the presence of a magistrate, and that magistrate his own father.”

“How the devil did he put his comether on M’Loughlin’s pretty daughter, Val?” asked another from a different part of the room.

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“That,” said Deaker, “is the only spirited thing I ever knew him to manage.  Is it true, Val, that he was found in her bedroom?”

“It is certainly true,” replied Val, with a smile of peculiar meaning; “and with her own consent too.”

“That’s false, Val,” replied Hartley; “and you know it.  That he was in her room for a couple of minutes is true; but that he was there for any purpose prejudicial to her honor, that is, with her own consent, is false.  The whole thing was a cowardly trick on the part of your son, concocted by the aid of old Poll Doolin, for the purpose of injuring the girl’s reputation.”

“Ay,” said old Deaker, “I dare say you are right, Hartley, if Poll Doolin was in it; but, d—­n her, she’s dangerous, even at a distance, if all that’s said of her be true.  I say, Spavin”—­this was a nickname given to the Foreman, in consequence of a slight halt or lameness for which he was remarkable—­“are we not to find bills for something, against Harman, who is about to be married to that wench.”

“What,” said Hartley, laughing, “is it on that account?  I think if you said so Deaker, you’d not be very far from the truth.”

“He murdered one of my fellows,” said M’Clutchy, “one of the staunchest Protestants and loyalest men that ever was in the country; and, what is more, he did it in cold blood.”

“You were not present,” said Hartley, “and consequently have no right to attempt to prejudice the minds of the jury against him.”

“We shall find the bills for all that,” said Spavin, “the interference of such fellows in the execution of the laws must be put a stop to.”

“You are right, Spavin,” said Sir William; “if we can’t hang him, let us send him across.  He had no business to touch the hair of a blood-hound’s head.  Gad, Hartley, this is pretty justice, isn’t it? why didn’t the disloyal rascal stand and let himself be shot in obedience to the spirit of the constitution, rather than molest a blood-hound.  I tell you, my good friends, that this method of managing things will bring about its own remedy yet.”

“Oh, Sir William, you and Hartley would run well in a chaise together—­both always for the rebels.”

“Whom do you call the rebels?”

“Why the Papists, to be sure.”

“No more rebels, Moore, than you are,” replied Hartley—­“I find a Papist as good as another man, if he’s as well and as fairly treated.”

“Irwin,” said a large gouty man, whose legs were wrapped in flannel, “of course you’ve heard of Sir William’s method of dispensing justice.  Will that too, sir, find its own remedy--eh? ha, ha, ha; d------e, it’s the most novel thing going.”

“No—­how is it, Anderson?”

“Why, if two neighbors chance to fall out, or have a quarrel, and if it happens also that they come to take the law of one another, as they call it, what does the worthy baronet do, do you imagine?  ’Well, my good fellow,’ proceeds our justice, ‘you want to take the law of this man?’

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“‘Yes, your honor.’

“‘And you want to take the law of him,’ addressing the other.

“‘I do, the rascal.’

“’Very well, my good friends, if you wish to get law you have come to the wrong shop for it—­we deal in nothing but justice here:  so if you prefer justice to law, you shall have it.’

“‘Whichever your honor thinks is best for us.’

“‘Very well, then; are you able to fight this man?’

“‘Ha, ha, is it there you are, Sir William?’ says the fellow, brightening, ‘able is it! ay, and willing too.’

“‘And,’ says the baronet, addressing the other again, ’are you a match for him, do you think?’

“’Say no more, Sir William; only it was surely the Lord put the words into your mouth.’

“‘But,’ proceeds Sir W., ’mark me, if you don’t both abide by this battle—­if either of you, no matter which is beaten, shall attempt to get law elsewhere, upon my honor and soul, I will prosecute you both.’  The justice being well furnished with a sheaf of cudgels for the purpose, selects one for each, brings them quietly to the stable yard where he lets them fight it out, each having first solemnly promised to abide the result.”

“Is that true, baronet?”

“Perfectly true,” replied Sir William; “but I fear that like some of your wise and impartial proceedings here, it will soon work its own cure.  The business has increased so damnably—­this dispensation of justice I mean—­on my hands, that my stable yard resembles a fives court rather than anything else I know.  The method harmonizes with their habits so beautifully, that if there is an angry word between them it is only ‘d—­n you, are you for Sir W.?’ ‘Yes, you villain step out.’  They accordingly come, and as they touch their hats, I ask, well, my good fellows, what do you want now?  ’Not law Sir William, but justice—­the cudgels, plase your honor.’  In the beginning I was in the habit of making them relate the cause of quarrel first, and then fight it out afterwards, but experience soon taught me that all this was a mere waste of time.  In general now, I pass all that by; the complainants have their comfortable fight, as they say, and go home perfectly satisfied.”

“Here, you secretary, what the devil are you at there?  Why d-----e,
it wasn’t to toss half crowns with that rascal of a treasurer you came
here, sir; let us get through the business, and then you may both toss
off to the devil, where you’ll go at last.”

“Why,” said the secretary, “I placed the papers all arranged in proper order before you.”

“Yes, sir; I suppose you did; but who the devil can keep anything or anybody in order, in such a Babel as this?  Beevor, I’ll thank you to postpone the singing of your squib for the election; or take to the street when our business is over, and give it to the crowd.”

“You be d——­d, Spavin,” replied Beevor;

“I’ll finish it, if the devil was at the back door.”

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“Darcy,” said Deaker, addressing a thin, red-faced man beside him, “I saw a pretty bit of goods in Castle Cumber market on Thursday.”

“Why, Deaker,” replied the other, “is it possible that with one foot and more than half your body in the grave, and your shadow in h—­l, you sinner, you have not yet given up your profligacy.”

“Eat, drink, and be merry, Tom, for tomorrow we die; but about this pretty bit of goods—­I tried to price her, but it wouldn’t do; and when I pressed hard, what do you think of the little tit, but put herself under the protection of old Priest Roche, and told him I had insulted her.”

“Who is she, Deaker?” inquired a young fellow with a good deal of libertine interest.

“Ah, Bob,” replied Deaker, laughing; “there you are, one of the holy triad.  Here, Baronet—­did you ever hear what Mad Jolly-block, their father, the drinking parson of Mount Carnal, as some one christened his residence, said of his three sons?—­and that chap there’s one of them.”

“No; let us hear it.”

“‘Dan,’ said the father, speaking of the eldest, ’would eat the devil; Jack,’ the second, ’would drink the devil; and Bob, this chap here, ’would both eat and drink him, in the first, place, and outwit him afterwards.’  That’s Bob, the youngest—­he there with a lip like a dropsical sausage.  He has sent him here to pick up a little honesty, and much loyalty.”

“And a great deal of morality,” replied Bob, laughing, “from Deaker the virtuous.”

“No, no,” replied Deaker; “you need never leave your Reverend father’s wing for that.”

“Deaker, do you fleece the poor as much as ever?” replied Bob.

“Ah, you are another sweet Agent, as times go.  Do you touch them at the renewals as usual?”

“Egad, Bob, I was very good at that; but there’s an unmatrimonial son of mine, Val the Vulture, there, and d—­me, when I look back upon my life, and compare it with his, it’s enough to make me repent of my humanity, to think of the opportunities I have neglected.”

“Gentlemen,” observed Hartley, “it strikes me, no matter what the multiplicity of other virtues we possess, there is somehow nothing like a superabundance of shame among us; we appear to glory in our vices.”

“Why confound it, Hartley,” replied Deaker, “where’s the use of assuming what we do not and cannot feel?  Would you have me preach honesty, who am as d——­d a rogue as there is here?  Indeed, with the exception of that whelp of mine, I believe the greatest—­but that fellow’s my master.”

“Nobody can quarrel with your candor, Deaker, because it’s all at your own expense,” said the treasurer.

“Egad, and here it is at yours, Gilburne; with the exception always of myself and my son, you are the deepest rogue here—­and I am very much afraid that your securities will be of my opinion when it is too late.”  He laughed heartily at this; and then, as usual, took to whistling his favorite tune of the Boyne Water.

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Our readers may perceive that there was among them an open, hardy scorn not only of all shame, but of the very forms of common decency and self-respect.  The feelings, the habits, the practices, the distribution of jobs and of jobbings, the exercise of petty authority, party spirit, and personal resentment, all went the same way, and took the same bent; because, in point of fact, there was in this little assembly of village tyrants, no such thing as an opposition—­for three or four—­were nothing—­no balance of feeling—­no division of opinion—­and consequently no check upon the double profligacy of practice and principle, which went forward under circumstances where there existed a complete sense of security, and an utter absence of all responsibility.

“Gentlemen, we are losing a great deal of time unnecessarily,” observed M’Clutchy, “let us first get through the business, and afterwards we will be more at leisure for this trifling.  The bills for Harman are not yet found.”

“Not found,” replied Spavin, “why how soft you are, Val.”

“Why they are not,” reiterated Val.

“And why are they not?”

“Ask Counsellor Browbeater, the hard-faced barrister, that has the right of Black Trot in the Castle, and he will tell you.”

“We all know that very well, Val, no thanks to your squeamishness,” observed Deaker; “the truth is, he did not wish to let him out for a reason he has,” he added, winking at the rest.

“Let us hear the calendar,” said Hartley, “and got through the business as quickly as we can, secretary.”

“Is that Browbeater,” asked Sir William, “who was engaged in the spy system a little before I returned from England—­a d——­d scandalous transaction.”

“The spy system, Sir William, is a very useful one to government,” replied Val, “and they would be devilish fools if they did not encourage it.”

“That may be your opinion, Mr. M’Clutchy,” said Sir William, “and your practice, for aught I know; but, permit me to say, that it is not the opinion of a gentleman, a man of honor, nor of any honest man, however humble.”

“I perfectly agree with you, Sir William,” said Hartley, “and I despise the government which can stoop to such discreditable treachery, for it is nothing else.  The government that could adopt such a tool as this Browbeater, would not scruple to violate the sanctity either of private life or public confidence, if it suited their interest—­nay, I question whether they would not be guilty of a felony itself, and open the very letters in the post-office, which are placed there under the sacred seal of public faith.  However, never mind; proceed with the calendar.”

“Here is the case of some of your wreckers, M’Clutchy, charged here with illegally, maliciously, and violently pulling down several houses in the village of Crockaniska—­assaulting and maltreating the unoffending inhabitants.”

“Halt there a moment,” said Val; “rebels, every man of the said inhabitants, which I can prove.  My men, who are remarkable for their Protestantism and loyalty, went upon private information—­”

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“More of the spy system,” said Hartley, smiling.

“Mr. Hartley, you may smile, but truth is truth,” replied Val; “we had private information that they had arms and rebellious papers, and the latter we have got under the thatch of their cabins.”

“Private information!—­still more of the spy system,” repeated Hartley, smiling again.

“But not the arms?” asked Sir William.

“No, Sir William, not the arms; the rebels were too quick for us there.”

“Then, they expected you it seems,” observed Hartley; “and, if so, when taking away the arms, I am anxious to know why they should have been such fools as to leave the papers behind them.”

“I am not here to account for their conduct, sir,” replied Val, “but to state the facts as they occurred—­they may, for instance, not have had time to bring them.  It is not a month, for instance, since my fellows in Still hunting—­and talking of that, Mr. Hartley, will you allow me to send you a couple of kegs of such stuff as is not to be had on every hill head; I offer it from pure good will, for I really regret that there should be any want of cordiality between our families.”

“Our families,” asked Hartley, with a look of surprise and indignation, “our families, sir! what do you mean?”

“Oh, damn it, Hartley, don’t explode; I mean nothing offensive between us—­then, dropping the families,” said Val, fawningly, for he saw the other’s nostril begin to dilate—­

“And, you cowardly hound, why should you drop the families,” inquired Deaker, taking fire; “do you forget, sirra, who your father was?”

“And do you forget, sirra,” resumed Hartley, “who your mother is?”

“Damn it,” replied Val, still with fawning good-humor, “how am I accountable for their conduct before I had existence?  I neither made them as they were, nor as they are.”

“Then have the modesty,” said Hartley, “to forbear any allusion to them, especially in the way of comparison.”

“For one of them, Hartley, I reply,” said Deaker, “that he is of a better family than yourself; and don’t imagine, my worthy fellow, that however you may browbeat others, you will be permitted to bully or browbeat me.  I say, sir, there is better blood in my veins than ever ran through yours.”

“I had no intention of bullying or browbeating any man here,” replied Hartley, “much less one whose age and virtues must prevent him—­”

“Not from meeting you like a man,” said Deaker; “old as I am, I can yet stand my ground, or if not, d—­n me, I can tie a stake to my bottom, and you may take that as a proof that I won’t run away.”

“Nobody suspects you for that,” said the other.  “Out of the long catalogue of human virtues, courage is the only one loft you, or indeed, you ever had—­unless, indeed, it be the shameless and diabolical honesty of glorying in your own vices.”

“Why, Hartley!” replied Deaker, “you forget, that you had more vices, and,’hammers, too, in your family, and more brass, than ever I or mine could’ boast of.  If the memory of that successful old tinker, your grandfather, had not passed out of your mind, you would make no allusion to vices or screws, and take care, my good hot-brained young fellow, that you don’t die in your family trade, and come to the pully yet.”

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Hartley, who was hasty, but exceedingly good-natured, although certainly a noted duelist, now burst out into a hearty laugh, as did most of the rest.

“Deaker,” said he, “there is no use in being angry with you, nor in being ashamed that my fortune was created by industry and honesty, for both of which virtues I have reason heartily to thank my good old grandfather, the hardware man, as you have for thanking the sire of your father, the worthy tailor, who had the honor of being appointed one of Peg Nicholson’s knights, ha, ha, ha!”

The laughter now became general and excessive; but not one of them enjoyed, or seemed at least, to enjoy it with more good-humor than Val; who, indeed, was never known to exhibit any want of temper to his equals during his life.

“Well,” said he, “ha, ha, ha! now that that breeze has blown over—­about the poteen, Hartley?”

“Thanks, Val; but no poteen, if you please.”

“Then, gentlemen,” said Val, “to resume business; I was alluding to the seizure of a Still about a month ago near Drum Dhu, where the parties just had time to secure the Still itself, but were forced to leave the head and worm behind them; now, that I give as a fair illustration of our getting the papers, and missing the arms.  Besides,” said he, in a wheedling and confidential tone, addressed to a clique of his friends, the jobbers, whom he joined at the lower end of the room, “you are all aware that my fellows are staunch Orangemen, every one of them, and the government itself feels, for I have reason to know it, that it is neither politic or prudent to check the spirit which is now abroad among them; so far from that, I can tell you it is expected that we should stimulate and increase it, until the times change.  The bills against these men must, therefore, be thrown out.”

“I’ll agree to that,” said a leading man of his own party, “only on one condition.  There are three of my own tenants, Papists to be sure, in for distilling poteen.  Now, we must have them out, Val, for one good turn deserves another.

“But why?” inquired Val and his friends.

“Why, simply, because the poor fellows were distilling for myself,” he replied; “all the apparatus were mine, and I can’t think of allowing them to be transported for my own act.”

“Very well, then a bargain be it,” said Val, “so out they go.”

Whilst every man was thus working, either for his friends or against his enemies, or not unfrequently both, Hartley, who, in point of fact, felt always anxious to do as much good as he could, addressed Sir William: 

“Have you no friends in difficulty, Sir William, or who require your advocacy now?  I see the jobbers are hard at work.  Some working heaven and earth to wreak the vengeance of law upon their enemies; others quite as anxious to turn aside justice from their friends.”

“Eh! what’s that!” said Sir William, starting up; “come, Hartley, you are right; there are four of my tenants in for a fray—­the M’Caffreys, and the poor devils stand no chance with such a jury as they will have.  I hear them named below there—­so let us join the jobbers as you say, and see if we cannot get the Bills thrown out.”

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“Very well,” said Val, as they approached him, “the M’Caffreys go to trial.”

“Sir William, excuse me,” said Hartley; “will you allow me to interfere, in the first instance?”

“My dear fellow, certainly, with great pleasure, and I shall aid you as far as I can.”

“Val,” said Hartley, in that kind of familiar tone which he knew would go far with such a man as M’Clutchy, and which was in such accordance with his own natural good-humor—­“Val, my good fellow, and the best man of business here, by the way, notwithstanding the poteen affair, I want you to stand my friend and also Sir William’s here.”

“How is that, Hartley?”

“There are four men in from the Mountain Bar, named M’Caffrey.  Now we want to have the Bills against them ignored; and simply for a plain reason—­at this season of the year any lengthy imprisonment would ruin them.  It was a faction fight or something of that kind, and of course there is no feeling of a religious or party nature in it.  Am I not right, Sir William?”

“Perfectly; the thing took place during my absence in England for the last few months.  Had I been at home, the matter would have been peaceably decided in my own stable-yard.”

“Yes,” observed Val, “but it appears there was a man’s life in danger.”

“Yes, but, sir, his life is now out of danger.”

“Well, but does not this,” rejoined Val in his most serious mood, “look very like obstructing the course of justice?”

“Why, you d——­d scoundrel,” said the Baronet, “what, in nineteen cases out of twenty, is done at every assizes where matters connected with religion or politics are concerned, that ought not to be called obstructing the course of justice?”

“We shall return true Bills, Sir William and that is the only reply I have to make, except to thank you for your courtesy.”

“Mr. M’Clutchy,” said Hartley, “I know your good sense and forbearance, both of which are so creditable to you.  These poor fellows will be ruined, for both you and I know what kind of jury that is to try them.”

“An honest jury, Mr. Hartley,” said Mr, M’Clutchy, who was now beginning to feel a little of his power—­“an honest jury, Mr. Hartley.”

“I give you leave to say so, Val; but, in the meantime, I will accept one favor from you, if you grant me two.”

“How is that sir?” asked Val.

“Send me that poteen you spoke of, and ignore the Bills against these M’Caffreys.”

“No, sir,” replied Val, looking with his own peculiar beetle-browed smile at Sir William, “I shall not; for by G—­, we will find true Bills against the four M’Caffreys.  We might do something for humanity, Mr. Hartley; but we are not to be made fools of before our own faces.”

“I do not understand you,” replied Hartley.

“He is nothing but a scoundrel, as I said,” returned Sir William—­“that is all; a low-born scoundrel; and it is a disgrace to see such a fellow’s name upon any Grand Jury list.”

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“Hartley,” replied Spavin, “we do not wish to refuse either Sir William or you in such a matter as this; but the fact is, M’Clutchy is right.  This is at bottom a party matter—­a political matter, and you know it is.”

“No, sir; on my own part and on Sir William’s I disclaim any such knowledge.”

“You know, Hartley, you are canvassing the county.”

“Yes, but what has that to do with these; men or their affairs?”

“What—­why you know that if we ignore the Bills against them, they will be out and ready to vote for you at the forthcoming election.”

Hartley looked at him with surprise but said nothing.

“Now,” he proceeded, “I will tell you what we will do.  If you and Sir William pledge your words, as men of honor, that you will not accept the votes of these men, the matter you wish shall be managed.”

Sir William started to his feet.

“Great God,” said he, “is it not monstrous that an oath of secrecy should bind us to conceal these inquiries?”

“It is monstrous, Sir William,” replied his friend; “I do believe there is not such, a scene of shameless and hardened corruption on earth, as a Grand Jury Room at the present day.”

This, however, they said rather aside to each other.

“No, sir,” replied Hartley to the last proposal, “neither I nor Sir William shall enter into any such shameful compromise.  I felt perfectly satisfied of the slight chance of justice which these poor men had, and will have from a jury so composed as theirs I know will be; and that was the reason why I did not hesitate to try, if I could, with any effect, save them from what I now perceive is designed for them—­a political punishment independent of crime.”

“Never mind,” said Sir William, taking him aside, “never mind, Hartley; we will be able to defeat them yet.  I shall send for the prosecuting parties; get them to withdraw proceedings, and immediately fight it out in my lawn or stable-yard.”

After a great deal of similar squabbling and negotiation, the gentleman at length got through the criminal calendar for the county, and with still more startling honesty and disinterestedness, entered upon the transactions of its fiscal business.  Beaker, whenever he took no part in the discussions that accompanied the settlement of each question, sat reading a newspaper to the air of the Boyne Water, which he whistled from habit in a low manner that was scarcely audible, unless to some one who felt anxious to derive amusement, as several did, from the originality of the performance.

“Gentlemen,” said the secretary, “here is a list of the presentments.  The first is—­For two miles and a quarter of a new road, running from George Ganderwell’s house at the Crooked Commons, out along Pat Donnellan’s little farm of the Stripe, through which it runs longitudinally; then across Jemmy league’s meadow, over the Muffin Burn, then through widow Doran’s garden, bisecting Darby M’Lorrinan’s three acre field, afterwards entering the Glebe, and passing close to the lodge of the Rev. Phineas Lucre’s avenue.”

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“Is there any opposition to this?” inquired the chairman.

“Read the next,” said M’Clutchy, “and then we shall be the better able to see.”

No. 2.  “For four miles of road, commencing at the Ban Ard river, which it crosses, running through Frank Fagan’s croft, along Rogues Town, over Tom Magill’s Long-shot meadow, across the Sally Slums, up Davy Aiken’s Misery-meerin, by Parra Rakkan’s haggard, up the Dumb Hill, into Lucky Lavery’s Patch, and from that right ahead to Constitution Cottage, the residence of Valentine M’Clutchy, Esq., within two hundred yards of which it joins the high road to Castle Cumber.”

“Now the question is,” said Val, “can both these be passed during this term?”

“Val,” replied young Jollyblock, “if ever a man was afflicted with modesty and disinterestedness you are he; and well becomes me the parson, too, in his share of the job; but it’s all right, gentlemen.  Work away, I Say.  The Parson-magistrate, and the Agent-grand-juror have set us an excellent example—­ha—–­In.—­ha!  Deaker, drop whistling the Boyne Water there, and see what’s going on here.”

“No,” said Deaker, “there never was such air composed as the Boyne Water; and my only request is, that I may die whistling it.  Damn it, Jollyblock, unless a man is a good Protestant he’s bad for everything else.”

“But how the devil Deaker, can you call yourself a good Protestant, when you believe in nothing?”

“Why,” said Deaker, “I believe that a certain set of political opinions are necessary for our safety and welfare in this world; and, I believe, that these are to be found in the Church, and that it is good Protestantism to abide by them, yes, and by the Church too, so long as she teaches nothing but politics, as she does, and acts up to them.”

“And does your faith stop there?”

“How could it go farther with the lives of such men as your father and Lucre staring me in the face?  Precept, Dick, is of little value when example is against it.  For instance, where’s the use of men’s preaching up piety and religion, when their own conduct is a libel upon their doctrine?  Suppose, now, there are two roads—­and ’tis said there are:  No. 1, leading to an imaginary region, placed above; No. 2, to another imaginary region, placed below—­very good; the parson says to jon and to me, do so and so, and take the No. 1 road; but, in the meantime, he does himself the very reverse of this so and so, and takes the No. 2 road.  Now, which are we to respect most, his advice or his example?”

“Let us go on,” said Spavin, “perhaps there are others whose claims are as modest and disinterested; we shan’t say anything about being as well founded.  You secretary fellow, read away.”

“Before you go any farther,” said a droll-looking person named M’Small, “you must pass me a bridge over Lumlay’s Leap.  Our party voted you about thirty miles of roads to repair thoroughly, and you know that although you only veneered them, we said nothing.”

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“But,” replied Val, “who ever heard of a bridge without water; and I know there’s not a stream within three miles of you.”

“Never mind that,” replied M’Small, “let me have the bridge first, and we’ll see what can be done about the water afterwards.  If God in his mercy would send a wet winter next season, who knows but we might present for a new river at the January assizes.”

“You must have it,” said Deaker, “give M’Small the bridge, and, as he says, we’ll see afterwards what can be done for a river for it.”

“M’Small,” said Hartley, “what if you’d get a presentment for a couple of mountain water spouts; who knows but it might answer the purpose?”

“I’m afraid,” said M’Small, who, by the way, was a good deal of a humorist, “I fear, Hartley, that the jurisdiction of the grand panel would scarcely reach so high.  In the meantime I shall think of it.”

The bridge, however, was not only passed, but built, and actually stands to this day, an undeniable monument of the frugality and honesty of grand jurors, and the affection which they were then capable of bearing to each other, when their interests happened to be at stake, which was just four times in the year.

In the meantime, the tumultuous battle of jobs in all its noise, recrimination, and jangle of conflicting interests, and incredible selfishness commenced.  There were strong mutual objections to pass the roads to Mr. Lucre and M’Clutehy, and a regular conflict between their respective partisans accordingly took place.  M’Clutchy’s party were absolutely shocked at the grossness and impiety of such a man as Mr. Lucre, a person of such great wealth, an absentee, a nonresident-rector, dipping his hand in the affairs of the county for the sake of a job.

His party, for he had a strong one, dwelt upon his rights as a civil officer, a magistrate, and justice of quorum—­upon his sterling principles as a loyal Protestant, who had rendered very important services to the Church and the government.  It was such as he, they said, who supported the true dignity and respectability of Protestantism, and it would be a scandal to refuse him a road to his glebe.  Deaker groaned several times during this eulogium, and repeated his favorite text—­let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die; but whether its application was designed for Lucre or himself, was not very easy—­perhaps we should rather say difficult to determine.

“That is all very true,” replied Val’s party; “but in the meantime, it would be quite as creditable for him to pay some attention to the spiritual interests of his parish, and the condition of its tottering old church, as to be mulcting the county for a job.”

“What can you know about his church,” inquired Spavin, “who have never been seen in it, except on last Easter Monday, when you were candidate for the church wardenship?  M’Clutehy,” he added, “we all know you are a Protestant of your father’s color; it’s the best Protestantism that puts most into your pocket.”

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“And on what other principle is Lucre himself now proceeding, or has ever proceeded?” replied Val’s friends—­for Val himself had always a wholesome repugnance to personal discussion.

In fact, one would have imagined, on hearing Val’s party declaiming against the selfishness of Lucre, that they themselves entertained a most virtuous horror against jobs and corruptions of all kinds, and had within them an actual bona fide regard for religion, in all its purity, spiritual beauty, and truth; whilst on the contrary, the Lucreites, who certainly had the worst cause, seemed to think that M’Clutchy, in preferring his own corruption to that of the parson, was guilty of a complete desertion of that sterling and mutually concessive Protestant feeling which they considered to constitute its highest principle, and absolutely to merge into the manifestation of something inimical to a Protestant government.

At length it was suggested by him of the bridge, that in order to meet the wishes of two such excellent men, and such admirable representatives of pure Protestant virtue and spirit, it would be best to pass both presentments on the present occasion, and drop or postpone some of the minor ones until next term—­a suggestion which was eagerly received by both parties, inasmuch as it satisfied the rapacity of each, without giving a victory to either.  This, however, was far from terminating either the business or the debates that arose out of the minor conflicting interests of the jurors.  A good deal of hanging fire there was also, but given and returned in a better spirit, between.  Val’s friends and Lucre’s.

“Why doesn’t Lucre,” said the former, “afford us a little more of his company in the parish?”

“Ah,” replied the Lucreites, “we suppose if he gave you more of his venison and claret, he would experience less of your opposition.”

“I really am afraid to go to church,” said Val, who, now that the storm had passed, resumed his usual insinuating habit of light sarcasm:  “I am afraid to go, lest the crazy old church, which really, between ourselves—­I speak of course in a friendly way now—­is in a most shameful and dangerous state, should fall upon me.”

“I did not think,” said M’Small, “that you had such a strong sense of your own deserts left, Val!—­I have some hopes of you yet.”

“Ah,” said Val, “I fear that on your way to heaven, if you meet a difficulty, you will not be likely to find a grand jury to build a bridge for you across it.”

“I perfectly agree with you,” replied M’Small, “the face of a grand juror will be a novel sight in that direction.”

“And in the other direction,” observed Hartley, “no bridges will be wanted.”

“Why so?” said M’Small.

“Because,” he replied, “there will be such an absence of water as will render them unnecessary.”

“Ay,” retorted another, “but as there will be plenty of grand jurors we may do then as we did now, build the bridge without the water, and trouble ourselves no further with the consequences.”

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After much more conversation, partly on business, and partly on desultory topics, the quarrellings, and bickerings, and all the noisy enmities of that corrupt little world that is contained within—­we should rather say, that was contained within the walls of a grand jury room, ceased; and, with the exception of one or two small matters of no consequence, everything was settled, but not so as to give general satisfaction; for there still remained a considerable number of grumblers, whose objects had been either completely lost in greater corruption, or set aside for the present.

“Here’s another matter,” said Spavin, “which we had better settle at once.  A man here named O’Drive—­Darby O’Drive—­is to be appointed to the under gaolership—­he is strongly recommended by Mr. Lucre, as a man that has renounced Popery.”

“That’s enough, Spavin,” said Hartley, “that, I suppose, comprises all the virtues necessary for an under gaoler, at all events.”

“You know him, M’Clutchy,” said one or two of them.

“He’ll make a good under gaoler,” replied Val, “as there will be in Europe.  Appoint him, gentlemen; you will get no such man.”

“And that is just,” said Sir William aside to Hartley, “all that Val’s recommendation is good for.”

And thus closed as much as we feel necessary to describe of that extraordinary scene—­a grand jury room in the year 1804, or thereabouts.

CHAPTER XXIII.—­A Rent Day

—­Relative Position of Landlord and Tenant—­Grades of Tenantry—­Phil’s Notion of Respect—­Paddy Corrigan’s Protestant Wig—­Phil and Solomon in a Fit of Admiration—­The Widow Tyrrell.

One single week in the progress of time, after the exhibition last described, had wonderfully advanced the catastrophe of our simple and uncomplicated narrative.  Harman, very much to the mortification of M’Clutchy, was acquitted, the evidence being not only in his favor, but actually of such a character, as to prove clearly that his trial was merely one of those dishonest stretches of political vengeance which characterized the times.  On coming out, however, he found the affairs of the firm in a state of bankruptcy and ruin.  The insidious paragraphs in the papers, masked with compassion, and “a hope that the affairs of this respectable firm—­which was hitherto supposed to be a solvent one—­would, still, be wound up in a way, they trusted, somewhat more satisfactory than was given out by their enemies.”  Nor was this the worst, so far as Harman himself was concerned.  The impression of Mary M’Loughlin’s perfidy had been now so thoroughly stamped into his heart, that he neither could, nor would listen to any attempt upon the part of their mutual friends at her vindication.  This last stroke of anguish was owing, also, to Phil’s diabolical ingenuity.  Harman on reflecting day after day, and hour by hour, upon the occurrence, and comparing it with her conduct and confusion on previous

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occasions, felt, as we before said, strongly inclined to believe her guilty.  He determined, however, not to rest here, but to sift the matter to the bottom.  He accordingly heard from his cousin, and from several others, while in prison, such details of the particulars, and such an authentic list of the persons who were present, many of whom, owing to the ingenious malignity of Poll Doolin, were friendly and favorable to the family—­that he privately sent for them, and on comparing the narratives one with the other, he found the harmony among them so strong, that he gave up all thoughts of her, save such as recurred involuntarily to his mind with indignation and anguish.  In addition to his other mortifications, it happened that the second day after his release from imprisonment was what the agents call “Gale day;” that is, the day upon which they get into their chair of state, as it were, and in all the insolence of office receive their rents, and give a general audience to the tenantry.  Phil, indeed, even more than the father, looked forward to these days with an exultation of soul and a consciousness of authority, that fully repaid him for all the insults, disasters, and tweakings of the nose, which he was forced to suffer during the whole year besides.  In truth, nothing could equal, much less surpass, the Pistolian spirit by which this lion-hearted gentleman was then animated.  His frown, swagger, bluster, and authoritative shakings of his head, the annihilating ferocity of his look, and the inflated pomp of manner with which he addressed them, and “damned his honor,” were all inimitable in their way.  The father was more cautious and within bounds, simply because he had more sense, and knew the world better; but, at the same time, it was easy to see by his manner, that in spite of all his efforts at impartiality and justice, he possessed the poison as well as the wisdom of the serpent, but not one atom of the harmlessness of the dove.  At another table, a little to the right of M’Clutchy, sat M’Slime, ready to take his appropriate part in the proceedings of the day, and prepared, whilst engaged in the task of seeing that everything was done according to law, to throw in “a word in season, touching the interests of the gospel.”

At length eleven o’clock arrived, and found Val, Phil, our old friend Darby, who had not yet entered upon the duties of his office, together with one or two other understrappers, all ready for business.  The two principal characters were surrounded by books, rentals, receipts, and every other document necessary and usual upon such occasions.  The day was wet and cold, and by no means in the spirit of the season; but we know not why it happens, that there seems in general to be a fatality of disastrous weather peculiar to such days, leading one to imagine that the agent possessed such a necromantic foreknowledge of the weather, as enabled him to superinduce the severity of the elements upon his own cruelty.  In a country so poor as

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Ireland, the scene presented by a rent day is one too impressive and melancholy ever to be forgotten by any heart touched with benevolence.  There is little, if any, of that erect freedom of demeanor and natural exhibition of good will, which characterize conscious independence and a sense of protection on the part of the tenant; whilst on that of the agent or landlord there is a contemptuous hardness of manner, a vile indifference, and utter disregard of the feelings of those by whom he is surrounded, that might enable the shallowest observer to say at a glance, there is no sympathy between that man and these people.

But that is not all.  Give yourself time to observe them more closely, listen to that agent pouring his insolent invective upon the head of this poor man, whose only crime is his poverty, and whose spirit appears to be broken down with the struggles and sufferings of life; yet, who hears his honesty impugned, his efforts ridiculed, and his character blackened, without manifesting any other than a calm spirit that looks inwards to his own heart for the consciousness of these falsehoods.  Look at this, we repeat, and you will surely feel yourself forced to say—­not that there is no sympathy between these men, but there sits the oppressor and there stands the oppressed.

But even this is not all.  Bestow a still more searching glance upon the scene.  Here is more than invective; more than the imputation of dishonesty and fraud; more than the cruel defamation of character in the presence of so many.  Mark the words of that agent or landlord again.  He is sealing the fate of this struggling man; he tells him he is to have no home—­no house to shelter himself, his wife, and their children; that he must be dispossessed, ejected, turned out upon the world, without friends to support or aid him, or the means to sustain their physical existence.  Hear all this, and mark the brow of that denounced man; observe how it knits and darkens; how firmly he compressess his lips, and with what a long, determined, gloomy gaze he surveys his denouncer—­observe all this, we repeat; and need you feel surprised, at finding yourself compelled to go still farther, and say there sits a doomed man and there most assuredly stands his murderer.

Let it not be supposed that we are capable of justifying murder, or the shedding of human blood; but we are palliating, and ever shall palliate that crime in the humble man, which originates in the oppression of the great man.  Is the act which banishes happiness and contentment—­introduces poverty, misery, destitution—­which scatters out of the heart all the little amenities and sweet endearments of life—­which wastes away the strength of the spirit, and paralyzes that of the hand—­which dims the eye and gives paleness to the cheek, and by combining all these together makes home—­yes, home, the trysting place of all the affections, a thing to be thought of only with dread—­an asylum for the miseries of life;—­is the

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act, we say, which inflicts upon a human being, or a human family, this scathing and multitudinous curse—­no crime?  In the sight of God and in the sight of man is it no crime?  Yes!  In the sight of God and man it is a deep, an awful, and a most heartless crime!  To return, however, to our rent day.  The whole morning was unseasonably cold and stormy, and as there was but little shelter about the place, we need scarcely say, that the poor creatures who were congregated before the door were compelled to bear the full force of its inclemency.

Indeed, it may be observed with truth, that when people are met together under circumstances of a painful nature, they cannot relax or melt into that social ease which generally marks those who come together with no such restraint upon the heart or spirits.  Here, too, as in every other department of life, all the various grades of poverty and dependence fall into their respective classes.  In one place, for instance, might be seen together those more comfortable farmers who were able to meet their engagements, but who labored under the galling conviction, that, however hard and severely industry might put forth its exertions, there was no ultimate expectation of independence—­no cheering reflection, that they resided under a landlord who would feel gratified and proud at their progressive prosperity.  Alas! it is wonderful how much happiness a bad landlord destroys!  These men stood with their backs to the wind and storm, lowly conversing upon the disastrous change which was coming, and had come, over the estate.  Their brows were lowered, their dialogue languid and gloomy, and altogether their whole appearance was that of men who felt that they lived neither for themselves or their families, but for those who took no interest whatsoever in their happiness or welfare.

In another place were grouped together men who were still worse off than the former—­men, we mean, who were able to meet their engagements, but at the expense of all, or mostly all, that constitutes domestic comfort—­who had bad beds, bad food, and indifferent clothes.  These persons were far more humbled in their bearing than the former, took a less prominent situation in the crowd, and seemed to have deeper care, and much more personal feeling to repress or combat.  It is an indisputable fact, that the very severe and vexatious tyranny exercised over them had absolutely driven the poor creatures into hypocrisy and falsehood—­a general and almost uniform consequence of conduct so peculiarly oppressive.  They were all, at best, God knows, but very poorly clothed; yet, if it so happened that one or two of them, somewhat more comfortable than the rest, happened to have got a new coat a little before gale day, he invariably declined to appear in it, knowing, as he did, that he should receive a torrent of abuse from the agent, in consequence of “getting fat, impudent, and well-dressed on his Lordship’s property;” terms of abuse, which, together with the cause that produced them, are at this moment well known to thousands as expressions whose general occurrence on such, occasions has almost fixed them into proverb.  Will our English neighbors believe this?  That we know not, but we can assure them that they may.

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There were other groups farther down in the scale of distress, where embarrassment and struggle told a yet more painful tale; those who came with their rent, in full to be sure, but literally racked up from their own private destitution—­who were obliged to sell the meal, or oats, or wheat, at a ruinous loss, in order to meet the inexorable demands of the merciless and tyrannical agent.  Here were all the’ external evidences of their condition legible by a single look at their persons; they also herded together, ill clad, ill fed, timid, broken down, heartless.  All these, however, had their rents—­had them full and complete in amount; now the reader may well say, this picture is, indeed, very painful, and I am glad it is closed at last.  Closed! oh, no, kind reader, it is not closed, nor could it be closed by any writer acquainted either with the subject or the country.  What are we to say of those who had not the rent, and who came there only to make that melancholy statement, and to pray for mercy?  Here was raggedness, shivering—­not merely with the cold assault of the elements—­but from the dreaded apprehension of the terrible agent—­downcast looks that spoke of keen and cutting misery—­eyes that were dead and hopeless in expression—­and occasionally, a hasty wringing of the hands, accompanied by an expression so dejected and lamentable, as makes us, when we cast our eye in imagination upon such men as Valentine M’Clutchy, cry out aloud, “where are the lightnings of the Almighty, and why are his thunderbolts asleep?” There was there the poor gray-haired old man—­the grandfather—­accompanied, perhaps, by his promising young grandsons, left fatherless and motherless to his care, and brought now in order that the agent might see with his eyes how soon he will have their aid to cultivate their little farm, and consequently, to make it pay better, he hopes.  Then the widow, tremulous with the excess of many feelings, many cares, and many bitter and indignant apprehensions.  If handsome herself, or if the mother of daughters old enough, and sufficiently attractive, for the purposes of debauchery, oh! what has she to contend with?  Poor, helpless, friendless, coming to offer her humble apology for not being able to be prepared for the day.  Alas! how may she, clutched as she is in the fangs of that man, or his scoundrel and profligate son—­how may she fight out the noble battle of religion, and virtue, and poverty, against the united influences of oppression and lust, wealth and villany.

The appearance of these different groups—­when the inclemency of the day, their sinking hearts, and downcast pale countenances, were taken into consideration—­was really a strong exponent of the greatest evil which characterizes and oppresses the country—­the unsettled state of property, and of the relative position of landlord and tenant in Ireland.

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At length the hall-door was opened, and a hard-faced ruffian came out upon the steps, shouting the name of a man named O’Hare.  The man immediately approached the steps, and after shaking the heavy rain out of his big coat, and having whisked his hat backwards and forwards several times, that he might not soil his honor’s office, he was brought in, and having made his humble bow, stood to hear his honor’s pleasure.  His honor, however, who had divided the labor between himself and Phil, had also, by an arrangement which was understood between them, allotted that young gentleman, at his own request, a peculiar class marked out in the rental, in which class this man stood.  “O’Hare,” said Val, “how do you do?”

“Upon my conscience, your honor, but poorly,” replied O’Hare, “the last heavy fit of illness, joined to the bad times, sir—­”

“O’Hare,” said Solomon, “suffer me humbly, and without assuming anything to myself, to point out to you the impropriety of swearing; I do it, my friend, in all humility; for I fear, that so long as you indulge in that most sinful practice, the times will seldom be other than bad with you, or, indeed, with any one that gives way to so Wicked a habit.  Excuse me, O’Hare, I speak to you as a Christian, I humbly trust.”

“By G—­, that’s good, father,” exclaimed Phil, “M’Slime preaching to such a fellow as this!”

“I humbly thank you, sir,” said O’Hare to Solomon, “for your kindness in—­”

“Thank the devil, sirra,” said Phil; “What the devil does he or I care about your d——­d thanks.  Have you your rent?”

The man, with trembling hands, placed some notes, and gold, and silver before him—­the latter being rolled up in the former.

“I’m short for the present,” he added, “just thirty shilling, sir; but you can give me an acknowledgment for the sum I give you now:  a regular receipt will do when I bring you the balance, which, God willin’, will be in about a fortnight.”

“Ay, and this is your rent, Mr. O’Hare,” exclaimed Phil, gathering up the money into a lump, and with all his force flinging it at the man’s head; “this is your rent, Mister O’Hare,” placing an emphasis of contempt on the word Mr.; “thirty shillings short, Mr. O’Hare, but I’ll tell you what, Mr. O’Hare, by —–­, if you don’t have the full rent for me in two hours, Mr. O’Hare, I’ll make short work, and you may sleep on the dunghill.  I can in ten minutes get more rent than you pay, Mr. O’Hare, so now go to h—­l, and get the money, or out you go.”

The poor man stooped down, and with considerable search and difficulty, succeeded in picking up his money.

“In two hours, sir,” said he, “I could never do it.”

“That’s your own business,” said Phil, “not mine—­if you have it not for me in two hours, out you go; so now be off to hell out of this, and get it.”

Val, who had been poring over an account-book, now raised his head, as if disturbed by the noise for the first time—­

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“What’s the matter?” said he, “what is it, Phil?”

“Why, d—­n my honor,” replied Phil, “but that scoundrel O’Hare, had the assurance to come to me thirty shillings short of his rent, and, what is more, only brought me a part of it in gold!”

“God help me!” exclaimed poor O’Hare, “I know not what to do—­sure I did the—­best I could.”

He then went out to the hall, and was about to leave the house, when Val rising, called him into another room, where both remained for a few minutes, after which the man went away, thanking his honor, and praying God to bless him; and Val, having; seated himself at the desk, appeared to feel rather pleased at their little interview than otherwise.

“Ah, my dear friend, M’Clutchy,” said Solomon, “you are a treasure in your way—­when you do a kind act it is always in secret, ever mindful of our spiritual obligations, my friend.”

“Why,” said Val, “a man is not always to trumpet forth any little act of kindness he may choose to render to a poor simple fellow like O’Hare.  You mustn’t mind him, Phil—­I have told him not to be in a hurry, but to take his time.”

“Very well,” said Phil, who had just knowledge enough of his father’s villany, to feel satisfied, that in whatever arrangement took place between them, O’Hare’s interest was not consulted;* “very well; d—­n my honor, I suppose it’s all right, old cock.”

     * This scene is verbatim et literatim from life.

Our readers, we presume, have already observed, that however tenderly our friend Solomon felt for the shearing habit of the poor, he was somehow rather reluctant in offering a word in season to any one else.  What his motive could be for this we are really at a loss to know, unless it proceeded from a charitable consciousness, that as there was no earthly hope of improving them by admonition, it was only deepening their responsibility to give it—­for Solomon was charitable in all things.

“Call in Tom Maguire, from Edenmore,” said Val.  “Now,” he proceeded, “this is a stiff-necked scoundrel, who refuses to vote for us; but it will go hard, or I shall work him to some purpose.  Well, Maguire,” he proceeded, after the man had entered, “I’m glad to see you—­how do you do?”

“I’m much obliged to you, sir,” replied the other—­“why just able to make both ends barely meet, and no more; but as the time goes, sure it’s well to be able to do that same, thank goodness.”

“Tom,” said Solomon, “I am pleased to hear you speak in such a spirit; that was piously expressed—­very much so indeed.”

“Well, Tom,” proceeded Val; “I suppose you are prepared?”

“Why, sir,” replied Tom, who, by the way, was a bit of a wag; “you know, or at least Mr. M’Slime does, that it’s good to be always prepared.  The rent in full is there, sir,” he added, laying it down on the table; “and I’ll thank you for the receipt.”

Val deliberately reckoned over the gold—­for in no other coin would he receive it—­and then drew a long breath, and appeared satisfied, but not altogether free from some touch of hesitation.

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“Ay,” said he, “it is all right, Tom, certainly—­yes, certainly, it is all right.  Darby, fill Tom a bumper of whiskey—­not that—­I say the large glass, you scoundrel.”

“Throth, Captain, ’tisn’t my heart ’ud hindher me to give him the largest in the house; but I have a conscientious scruple against doin’ what I believe isn’t right.  My Bible tells me—.  Well, well, sure I’m only obeying orders.  Here, Tom,” he added, handing him the large bumper.

“Confound the fellow,” said Val; “ever since he has become a convert to Mr. Lucre there’s no getting a word out of him that hasn’t religion in it.”

“Ah, Captain,” replied Darby, “sure Mr. M’Slime there knows, that ’out of the abundance of the heart the mouth spaiketh.’”

“I cannot answer for what you are latterly, Darby,” replied Solomon—­“thank you, Tom,” to Maguire, who had held his glass in his hand for some time, and at length hurriedly drank their healths;—­“but I know that the first spiritual nutrition you received, was at least from one who belonged to an Apostolical Church—­a voluntary Presbytery—­unpolluted by the mammon of unrighteousness, on which your Church of Ireland is established.”

“But you know,” said Darby, “that we’re ordhered to make for ourselves, friends of that same mammon of unrighteousness.”

“Upon my honor,” said Phil, “I know that you’re a hypocritical old scoundrel.  Be off to h—­l, sir, and hold your tongue.”

“Throth and I will, Captain Phil—­I will then,” and he was silent; but his face, as he glanced first at Tom Maguire, and then at Solomon and the rest, was a perfect jewel, beyond all price.

“Tom,” proceeded Val, “I hope you’ve thought over what I mentioned to you on our canvass the other day?”

“I have, sir,” said Tom, “and I’m still of the same opinion.  I’ll vote for Hartley and no other.”

“You don’t imagine of what service Lord Cumber and I could be of to you.”

“I know of no service Lord Cumber ever was to any of his tenants,” replied Maguire; “except, indeed, to keep them ground to the earth, in supportin’ his extravagance, and that he might spend their hard earnings in another country, not caring one damn whether they live or starve.  It’s for that raison, sir, I vote, and will vote against him.”

“Well, but,” said Val, whose brow began to darken, “you have not considered what an enemy he can be to those like you, whose obstinacy draws down his resentment upon them.  Have you ever considered that—­ eh?”

“I don’t see how he can readily be a worse enemy to me, or any tenant he has, than he is at present.  I’ll trouble you for my receipt, Mr. M’Clutchy, but I won’t vote for him.  I beg your pardon, sir,” said he, on looking at the receipt which Val, as he spoke, had handed to him; “this isn’t signed—­your name’s not to it.”

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“Show,” said Val; “upon my life it is not.  You are right, Maguire; but the truth is, M’Slime, that while speaking on any subject that affects Lord Cumber’s interests, I am scarcely conscious of doing anything else.  Now, sir,” he proceeded, addressing Maguire, with a brow like midnight; “there is your receipt—­bring it home—­show it to your family—­and tell them it is the last of the kind you will ever receive on the property of Lord Cumber.  I shall let you know, sir, that I am somewhat stronger than you are.”

“That’s all to be proved yet, sir,” said the sturdy farmer:  “you know the proverb, sir—­’man proposes, but God disposes.’”

“What do you mean, sirra?  What language is this to my father?  Be off to h—­l or Connaught, sir, or we’ll make it worse for you—­ha!—­bow-wow.”  He did not utter the last interjection, but his face expressed it.

“That’s not the religious individual I took him to be,” said Solomon; “there is much of the leaven of iniquity in him.”

“Religion be hanged, M’Slime!” said Phil, “what religion could you expect a Papist like him to have?”

“M’Murt, call in old Paddy Corrigan.”

A venerable old man, who, though nearly a hundred years old, stood actually as erect as the Apollo Belvidere himself, now entered.  He was, however, but poorly clad, and had nothing else remarkable about him, with the exception of a rich wig, which would puzzle any one to know how it had got upon his head.  On entering, he took off his hat as usual, and paid his salutation.

“What the devil do you mean, Corrigan?” said Phil, once more in a fluster; “what kind of respect is that in our presence?—­what kind of respect is that, I say?  Take off your wig, sir.”

“With great respect to you, sir,” replied Corrigan, “I have been in as jinteel company as this, and it’s the first time ever I was axed to take my wig off.”

“Phil,” said Val, who really felt somewhat ashamed of this ignorant and tyrannical coxcomb, “Phil, my good boy, I think you are rather foolish—­never mind him, Paddy, he is only jesting.”

“Are not you the man?” asked Solomon, “in whom our rector, Mr. Lucre, takes such a deep and Christian interest?”

“I am, sir,” returned Corrigan.

“And pray, what interest does he take in you?” said Val.

“Troth, sir,” replied Paddy, “he is very kind and very good to me.  Indeed, he’s the generous gentleman, and the good Christian, that doesn’t forget Paddy Corrigan.”

“But, Paddy, what does he do for you?” asked the agent.

“Why, sir,” replied Corrigan, “he gives:  me a cast-off wig once a year, God bless him!—­This is his I have on me.  Throth, ever since I began to wear them I feel a strong-relish for beef and mutton, and such fine feedin’; but somehow, God forgive me, I! haven’t the same leanin’ to devotion that I used to have.”

“Paddy, my old boy,” said Phil, “that alters the case altogether.  I thought the wig was as Popish as yourself; but had I known that it was a staunch and constitutional concern, of sound High Church principle, I should have treated it with respect.  I might have known, indeed, that it could not be a Popish one, Paddy, for I see it has the thorough Protestant curl.”

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The father looked at Phil, to ascertain whether he was serious or not, but so unmeaning or equivocal was the expression of his countenance that he could make nothing out of it.

“You are reasoning,” said Solomon, “upon wrong, certainly not upon purely gospel principles, Phil.  The wig at this moment has a great deal more of Popery in it than ever it had of Protestantism.”

“And, if I’m not much mistaken, more honesty, too,” observed Val, who had not forgotten the opposition he received in the grand jury room by Lucre’s friends; nor the fact that the same reverend gentleman had taken many fat slices of his mouth on several other occasions.

“Well, then, confound the wig,” said Phil, “and that’s all I have to say about it.”

Paddy then paid his rent, and having received a receipt, was about to go, when Val thus addressed him:—­“Paddy, I hope you will not hesitate to give up that farm of yours at Slatbeg; I told you before that if you do, I’ll be a friend to you for life.”

“I’ll sell it, sir,” said Paddy; “but surely you wouldn’t have me to give up my interest in such a farm as that.”

“I’ll make it up to you in other ways,” said Val; “and I’ll mention you besides to Lord Cumber.”

“I’m thankful to you, sir,” said Paddy; “but it’s in heaven I’ll be, most likely, before ever you see his face.”

“Then, you won’t give it up, nor rely upon my generosity or Lord Cumber’s?  It’s Lord Cumber you will be obliging, not me.”

“Wid every respect for you both, sir,” replied Paddy, “I must think of my own flesh and blood, my childre, and grand-childre, and great-grand-childre, before I think of either you or him.  The day, sir, you made me tipsy, and sent me on your own car for the lease, I would a given it—­but then, they wouldn’t let me at home, and so, on thinking-it over—­”

“Pooh, you’re doting, man, you’re doting,” said Val. “go home, now—­but I tell you, you will have cause to remember this before you die, old as you are—­go home.”

“The truth is, Solomon, I was offered two hundred pounds for it by one of my ‘hounds’ which would be a good thing enough, and would afford you a slice into the bargain.  The old fellow would have brought me the lease the day he speaks of, were it not for the family—­and, talking of leases, you will not forget to draw up those two for the O’Flaherties, with a flaw in each.  They are certainly with us up to the present time, but, then, we can never be sure of these Papists.”

“No, d—­n my honor, if ever we can,” re-echoed Phil; “they hate us because we keep them down.  Put in two good thumping flaws, Solomon, and be hanged to you; so that we can pop them out if ever they refuse to vote for us.”

“Never you mind Solomon,” said his father, “Solomon will put in a pair of flaws that will do him honor.”

“If I did not feel that in doing so, my dear M’Clutchy, I am rendering a service to religion, and fighting a just and righteous fight against Popery and idolatry, I would not deem myself as one permitted to do this thing—­but the work is a helping forward of religion, and that is my justification.”

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“Call Philip Duggan in.”

A poor looking man now entered with a staff in his hand, by the aid of which he walked, for he was lame.

“Well, Duggan, your rent?”

“I have scrambled it together, sir, from God knows how many quarthers.”

“Phil,” said Solomon aside, “is it not painful to hear how habitually these dark creatures take the sacred name in vain.”

“By —–­, it’s perfectly shocking,” said Phil, “but what else could you expect from them?”

“Duggan,” said Val, “what is this, here’s a mistake—­you are short three pound ten.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, sir, it’s all right,” replied Duggan; “you see, your honor, here’s my little account for the work I wrought for you for five weeks wid horse and cart, up until I put my knee out o’ joint in the quarry—­you remember, sir, when I brought it to you, you said to let it stand, that you would allow for it in the next gale.”

“I remember no such thing, my good fellow, or, if ever I said such a thing, it must have been a mistake; do you imagine, now—­are you really so stupid and silly as to imagine that I could transmit this account of yours to Lord Cumber, in payment of his rent?”

“But wasn’t it by your own ordhers I did it, sir?”

“No, sir; it couldn’t be by my orders.  Duggan, you’re a great knave, I see.  I once had a good opinion of you; but I now perceive my error.  Here you trump up a dishonest bill against me, when you know perfectly well that most of the work you charge me with was duty work.”

“Beggin,’ your pardon, sir, I paid you the duty-work besides, if you’ll remember it.”

“I tell you, sirra, you are a most impudent and knavish scoundrel, to speak to me in this style, and in my own office, too!  Go and get the balance of the rent, otherwise you shall repent it; and, mark me, sirra, no more of your dishonesty.”

“As God is to judge me—­”

“Ah, my friend—­,” began Solomon.

“Be off to h—­l, sir, out of this,” thundered Phil.  “Be off, I say, to h—­l or Connaught; or if you don’t, take my word for it, you’ll find yourself in a worse mess.  To address my father in such language!  Be off, sir; ha!”—­Bow-wow! said his face once more.

“Ah,” said Solomon, when the man had retired, “I see your patience and your difficulties—­but there is no man free from the latter in this checkered vale of sorrow.”

“Call Roger Regan,” said Val; “here’s a fellow, now, who has an excellent farm at a low rent, yet he never is prepared with a penny.  Well Regan.”

“Oh! devil resave the penny, sir;—­you, must only prize (appraise) the craps; the ould game, sir—­the ould game; however, it’s a merry world as long as it lasts, and we must only take our own fun out of it.”

“What is the matter with your head, Regan?” asked Val.

“Devil a much, sir; a couple o’ cuts that you might lay your finger in.  We an’ the Haimigans had another set to on Thursday last, but be my sowl, we thrashed them into chaff—­as we’re well able to do.  Will I have the pleasure of drinking your health, gintlemen?  I think I see the right sort here.”

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“Give him a glass of spirits,” said Val; “I think, Regan, you have seen some one drinking to-day already.”

“Well, gintlemen, here’s—­if we’re to have a short life, may it be a merry one!—­and may we never ait worse mait than mutton.  Mr. M’Slime, more power to you!—­She’s next door to me”—­and he winked at Solomon—­“an’ barrin’ the paleness, by the powers gettin’ on famous; throth, sir,” in reply to Val—­“only share of two half-pints wid Paddy Colgan, in regard of that day that’s in it—­blowin’ bullocks—­and, I believe, another half-pint wid Para Bellow.  Blood, sir, but that’s a beautiful drop!  Sowl it would take the tear off a widow’s pig—­or the widow herself.  Faith, Mr. M’Clutchy, I could tell where the cow grazes that was milked for that!  Awough!  However, no matther, I’m rantin’ Regan from sweet Anghadarra—­Regan the Rake that never seen to-morrow.  Whish! more power!”

“That will do, Regan; you have not your rent.”

“Oh! d—­n the penny, as usual.—­Success!

“Well, but what’s to be done?  I must come down.”

“Devil afoot you’ll come down, please your honor; but you’ll come up and prize the crap.  It’s worth five times the rent, at any rate—­that’s one comfort.  Hurroo!”

“Upon my honor, Regan, I’m tired of this I have done it several times through kindness to yourself and family, but I cannot, really, do it any more.”

“Very well, sir—­no offence—­what one won’t, another will; I can raise three times the rent on it in four and twenty hours.”

“What an unfortunate man you are, to be sure.  Well, Regan, I shall appraise your crops and take them, or a competent share of them in payment, on this occasion—­but mark me, it shall be the last.”

“More power, I say.—­Long life to you, sir.  You know a hawk from a hand-saw, any how—­and be my sowl, kind father, for you—­whish!  I’m rantin’ Regan from sweet Anghadarra!”

So saying, poor, idle, drinking, negligent, pugnacious Regan, by his own sheer neglect, put his property into the hands of the most relentless harpy that ever robbed and fleeced a tenantry.  This mode of proceeding was, in fact, one of the many methods resorted to by rapacious agents, for filling their own pockets at the expense of the tenant, who, by this means, seldom received more than a fourth part of the value of his crops.  The agent under the mask of obliging him, and saving his crops from the hammer, took them at a valuation when the markets were low; and in order that he might be able to do so, he always kept over the tenant’s head what is called a hanging gale—­which means that he was half a year’s rent in arrear.  The crops were then brought home to the agent’s place, and frequently, to save appearances, to the haggard of some friend of his, where they were kept until the markets got up to the highest price.  So that it was not an unusual thing for the iniquitous agent to double the rent, one-half of which he coolly

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put into his own pocket.—­In pastoral lands the butter was appraised in the same manner, mostly with similar results to both parties.  To return—­when Regan had departed, Val asked Solomon what he thought of him.  “Think of him,” said Solomon, who could not forgive the allusion to Susanna, “I would fain think of him as becomes a Christian; but, somehow, I could not help feeling, whenever I looked at him, there was the outline of an execution in his face; however, I may be mistaken—­indeed, I hope—­I trust I am—­the villain!”

“M’Murt, call in Catharine Tyrrell.”

“Yes,” said Phil, “call in Widow Tyrrell.  Now, Solomon, only you have no relish for anything except what’s sanctified and spiritual, you would say that here comes such a specimen of Irish beauty as you have seldom seen.”

“I never had any objection,” said Solomon, who, in spite of all his gravity, betrayed an alertness on this occasion that was certainly not usual to him;—­“I never had any objection to look upon any work from His hand, with pleasure.  Indeed, on the contrary, I often felt that it raised my sense of—­of what was beautiful, in such a way that my feelings became, as it were, full of a sweet fervor that was not to be despised; I will consequently not decline to look upon this comely widow—­that is—­in the serious light I mention.”

“How do you do, Mrs. Tyrrell?  I hope you have not got much wet?” said Val, turning round very blandly.

“Oh, Mrs. Tyrrell, I hope you’re very well,” followed Phil; “I fear you have got wet—­have the goodness to take a chair, Mrs. Tyrrell—­and a glass of wine, ma’am.”

Mrs. Tyrrell took a chair, but she declined the glass of wine.  Mrs. Tyrrell had been the wife of a young husband, who died in his twenty-fourth year, just when they had been about a year and a half married.  She was herself, on the day in question, about the same age as her husband when he died.  She had been a widow just two years, and had one child, a son.  She was indeed a beautiful woman—­in fact a very beautiful woman, as one could almost see in her humble condition of life.  Her tresses were a raven black, but her skin was white and polished as ivory.  Her face was a fine specimen of the oval—­her brows exquisitely pencilled—­and her large black, but mellow eyes, flashed a look that went into your very heart.  But, if there was anything that struck you as being more fascinating than another, it was the expression of innocence, and purity, and sweetness, that lay about her small mouth and beautifully rounded chin.  Her form was symmetry itself, and a glimpse of the small, but beautiful foot and ankle, left no doubt upon the mind as to the general harmony of her whole figure.  On this occasion there was a positive air about her which added to the interest she excited; for, we believe, it may be truly observed, that beauty never appears so impressively or tenderly fascinating, as when it is slightly overshadowed with

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care.  We need scarcely say, that there was a great deal of contrast in the gaze she received from Phil and our friend Solomon.  That of Phil was the gross, impudent stare of a libertine and fool—­a stare, which, in the eye of a virtuous woman, soon receives its own withering rebuke of scorn and indignation.  That of Solomon, on the other hand, was a look in which there lurked a vast deal of cunning, regulated and sharpened by experience, and disguised by hypocrisy into something that absolutely resembled the open, ardent admiration of a child, or of some innocent man that had hardly ever been in the world.  There was, however, a villainous dropping of the corners of the mouth, with an almost irrepressible tendency to lick the lips, accompanied with an exudation of internal moisture from the glands—­vulgarly termed a watering of the teeth—­which, to a close observer, would have betrayed him at once, and which were evident from the involuntary workings of his whole face.

“Mrs. Tyrrell,” said Val, “I am glad to hear that you are making considerable improvements on your farm.”

“Improvements, sir,” replied the widow in amazement; “I don’t know who could have told you that, sir.  Didn’t my potato crop fail altogether with me, and my flax, where I had it spread on the holme below, was all swept away by the flood.”

“I am sorry to hear that, Mrs. Tyrrell;—­we are very hard up for money here, and the landlord doesn’t know on what hand to turn; I must raise a large sum for him forthwith:—­indeed to tell you the truth, I have received instructions that are not at all pleasant to myself—­I am to let no one pass, he says, and if I cannot get the rent otherwise, I am to enforce it.  Now this is very unpleasant, Mrs. Tyrrell, inasmuch as it compels me to take steps that I shall feel very painful.

“God help me, then,” replied the poor young woman, “for, as to rent, sir, I have it not; and, indeed, Mr. M’Clutchy, what brought me here to-day, was to ask a little time, just till I get my butter made up and sold.

“Yes, but what can I do, Mrs. Tyrrell?  I have no power to let any one off, even where I feel inclined, as I do in your case.  It really is not in my power; Lord Cumber took care to leave me no discretion in the business at all.”

“But surely, sir, you don’t mean to say, that unless I pay the rent, you will seize upon my property.’

“This,” said Val, as if to himself, “is really very distressing—­ unfortunately, Mrs. Tyrrell, I must indeed, unless you can raise the money in some way; wouldn’t your friends, for instance, stand by you, until your butter is made up?”

“I have no such friends,” replied the poor woman, “them that would, arn’t able; and them that are able, won’t; and, that’s only the way of the world, sir.”

“It’s too true, indeed, Mrs. Tyrrell; I am very sorry, exceedingly sorry, for what must be done.  It is such circumstances as these that make me wish I never had become an agent.”

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“For God’s sake, sir, have patience with me for about a month or six weeks, and I will be able to pay it all easily.”

“If I was my own master,” returned Val, “it would give me pleasure to do so, but I am not.”

Here there was a groan from Solomon of compassion for the poor widow, followed by a second, which was clearly a comment upon the first.  What a pity, said the first, to see so interesting a young widow without the means of paying her rent—­and is it not a wicked and hard-hearted world, said the second that has not in it one individual to befriend her!  Mrs. Tyrrell looked round on hearing an expression of sympathy, and there was Solomon gazing on her with a look, in which admiration and sympathy were so well feigned, that she felt grateful to Solomon in her heart.  As for Phil, whether he gazed at her, his father, or at the attorney, such was the comprehensive latitudinarianism of his squint, that she felt it impossible to tell; neither, indeed, did she care.  She was now in tears, and Val having declared his determination to proceed, was silent, as if out of respect to her feelings.  At length she rose up, and when on the eve of going out, she asked for the last time:—­

“Mr. M’Clutchy is there no hope?  I trust, sir, that when you consider how long my family and my husband have been living on this property, you’ll think better of it than to bring myself and my poor orphan boy to beggary and ruin.  What will become of him and myself!”

“D—­n my honor, Mrs. Tyrrell, but I feel for you,” said Phil, eagerly, as if rushing head foremost into a fit of the purest humanity.

“Do not be cast down, Mrs. Tyrrell,” said Solomon, “there is one who can befriend the widow, and who will be a father to the fatherless.  Rely on Him!—­who knows but an instrument may be raised up for your relief.  Don’t be thus cast down.”

“No,” said Phil, “do not, or you will only spoil them devlish fine eyes of yours, Mrs. Tyrrell, by crying.  Come, come, father, you must give her,the time she asks; upon my honor, I’ll guarantee she, won’t disappoint.

“And, if he is not sufficient, I will join him,” said Solomon; “you may rest upon her word, my friend, for I am satisfied that no serious falsehood’s in the habit of proceeding from a mouth so sweet and comely in expression, as Mrs. Tyrrell’s.  Come, Val, have a heart, and be compassionate towards the fair widow.”

“If you or Phil will pay the money,” said M’Clutchy, “well and good; but you both know, that otherwise it is out of my power.”  There is a vast deal of acuteness of observation in Irish women, together with a quickness of perception, that sometimes resembles instinct.  Mrs. Tyrrell’s purity of feeling and good sense were offended at the compliments which the attorney and Phil mixed up with the sympathy they expressed for her.  She felt something jar disagreeably upon her natural delicacy, by their selecting the moment of her distress for giving utterance to language, which, coming at any time from either of them to one in her station of life, was improper; but, under the present circumstances, an insult, and an impertinent trifling with her affliction.

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“Well,” said she, without paying them the slightest attention, “I must say, Mr. M’Clutchy, that if you proceed as you threaten to do, your conduct towards me and my poor orphan will be such as I don’t think you can justify either to God or man.  I wish you good morning, sir; I have no more to say upon it.”

“Oh, Mrs. Tyrrell, if you begin to abuse us and lay down the law on the matter, I have no more to say either.”

She then went out, but had not left the hall, when Phil, following, said in a low, impudent, confidential tone—­

“Don’t be in a hurry, Mrs. Tyrrell, just step into the parlor for a few minutes, and we’ll see what can be done&mda