STORIES AND LEGENDS
TRAVEL AND HISTORY, FOR CHILDREN.
BY GRACE GREENWOOD.
JOHN B. ALDEN, PUBLISHER,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
LEANDER K. LIPPINCOTT,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District
To my little friends, MARY and ALICE SEELYE, I wish to inscribe this
volume, in remembrance of a pleasant summer spent under their father's
roof—the Water Cure, at Cleveland, where a part of these sketches were
written,—in remembrance of their happy, cordial faces, and of the
"loving kindness" of their parents—of much genial companionship and
In remembrance of the beautiful wood, with its flowery paths, its hills
and dells and darkly shadowed water, where we often wandered
together;—where my dear baby grew like the flowers, drinking in dew
and sunshine—strengthened by fresh winds and aromatic odors,—where
under fluttering forest-leaves her little face caught its first gleams
of thought and tender meanings, like their glinting lights and flying
shades, and her little voice seemed intoned by their silvery murmurs,
the love-notes of birds and prattle of streams. In remembrance of the
sweet spring in the glen, and the shady resting-places on the hill,—of
the grand old oaks, and of the violets at their feet.
In remembrance of the lovely child, with whom we last visited that
wood,—dear Georgiana Gordon.
LONDON PARKS AND GARDENS.—MABEL HOWARD AND HER PET
ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL.—STORY OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
GREENWICH HOSPITAL—THE PARK, ETC.—LITTLE ROBERT AND HIS
HAMPTON COURT.—THE LADY MARY'S VISION
WINDSOR CASTLE.—KING JAMES OF SCOTLAND AND THE LADY JANE
THE JOURNEY FROM ENGLAND TO IRELAND.—THE FISHERMAN'S
DUBLIN, HOWTH.—GRACE O'MALLEY
DONNYBROOK.—THE LITTLE FIDDLER.
FROM DUBLIN TO CORK AND BLARNEY CASTLE.—LITTLE NORAH AND
THE BLARNEY STONE
A VISIT TO THE LAKES OF KILLARNEY.—KATHLEEN OF KILLARNEY
LIMERICK.—LITTLE ANDY AND HIS GRANDFATHER
WICKLOW.—TIM O'DALY AND THE CLERICAUNE
ANTRIM—THE GIANT'S CAUSEWAY.—THE POOR SCHOOLMASTER
London Parks and Gardens
MABEL HOWARD AND HER PET.
After all, I think I had more real delight in the noble public parks
and gardens of London than in palaces and cathedrals They were all
wonders and novelties to me—for, to our misfortune and discredit,—we
have nothing of the kind in our country. To see the poor little public
squares in our towns and cities, where a few stunted trees seem huddled
together, as though scared by the great red-faced houses that crowd so
close upon them, one would think that we were sadly stinted and
straitened for land, instead of being loosely scattered over a vast
continent, many times larger than all Great Britain.
The English government, with all its faults, has always been wise and
generous toward the people in regard to their out-door comfort and
pleasure. It does not mean that they shall be stifled for want of air,
or cramped for room to exercise in. Everywhere over the kingdom, the
traveller sees shady parks, pleasant gardens, breezy downs, and wide
heaths, open to the public, and as much for the enjoyment of the poor
as the rich.
The great Hyde Park of London, has been the property of the crown since
the time of Henry VIII. It was formerly walled in, and held deer for
royal hunting—but in the reign of George IV. it was inclosed with an
open iron railing, and is now only used for drives, promenades, rides,
and military reviews.
Connected with Hyde Park, by a bridge over the Serpentine, an
artificial river, are Kensington Gardens, beautiful pleasure-grounds
attached to Kensington Palace, a building belonging to the royal family.
This palace was for several years the town residence of the widowed
Duchess of Kent, and here her illustrious daughter, the princess, now
Queen Victoria, was educated.
Strangers sometimes met the young princess walking in the gardens, or
saw her sitting under the shade of the trees, accompanied by her
mother, or governess. She was always very simply dressed, and always
wore a sweet, gentle look on her fresh, young face.
In Hyde Park, every pleasant afternoon, there may be seen hosts of
splendid equipages, and hundreds of ladies and gentlemen mounted on
elegant horses, riding up and down a long, broad avenue, called "Rotten
Row," which is devoted entirely to equestrians.
In Hyde Park stood the Crystal Palace—now removed to Sydenham—where
it stands on an eminence, and seems in itself a great mountain of light.
A smaller, but yet a fine park, is that of St. James. King Charles I.
walked through this from the Palace of St. James to the scaffold before
White Hall, on the morning of his execution. He was very calm, and on
his way he pointed out a tree to one of his attendants, as having been
planted by his brother, the young Prince Henry, who, if he had lived,
would have been king,—and poor Charles might have kept his head;
which, doubtless, was of more value to him than all the crowns of all
the kingdoms of the world.
King Charles II. made many improvements in this park, and took much
pleasure in riding, sporting, and idly strolling here. He might often
be seen with half a dozen dogs at his heels, lounging along by the
banks of the ponds, feeding the ducks with his own delicate royal
hands. The foolish people were greatly moved and delighted at this,
thinking that a king, who could be so kind and gracious to dogs and
ducks, must be a good sovereign; but they were wofully mistaken there.
Regent's Park was so named for the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV.
This park is extensive, and exceedingly beautiful. It has winding
roads and shady paths, ornamental plantations, clear, shining sheets of
water—noble trees and fairy-like bowers, so secluded and shadowy, that
the birds sing and nest in them as fearlessly as in the deep heart of a
Within this park are several elegant villas—among which I best
remember St. Dunstan's Villa—the residence of the late Marquis of
Hertford, about whom and this place I have heard a pretty little story,
which I will tell you.
In Fleet Street, London, stands the Church of St. Dunstan, built on the
site of a church of the same name, which was torn down about thirty
The old Church of St. Dunstan had a curious clock, which was considered
a very wonderful piece of mechanism, almost a work of witchcraft.
Standing out on the side of the church, in full view of the passers-by,
were two figures of Hercules, holding clubs, with which they struck on
two bells the hours and the quarters. All children took delight in
watching these gigantic figures, but none so much as the little Marquis
of Hertford, whose kind nurse used to take him to see them—whenever he
was a particularly good boy. Every time that he saw them he would
strike his hands together and declare that as soon as he was a grown
man, he would buy those beautiful giants, and have them all to himself.
Well, strangely enough, when the Marquis grew to be a man, and got
possession of all his property, and built his new villa in Regent's
Park, it happened that old St. Dunstan's Church was torn down, and that
famous clock set up at auction. So, the Marquis, who had never
forgotten his beloved giants, bought them, and set them up in his
garden, where night and day, rain or shine, they still stand, sturdily
swinging their big clubs, striking the hours and the quarters.
St. Dunstan's Villa contains fine marble statues, rare bronzes, vases,
and pictures, and much costly furniture; but nothing in all the house
or grounds was half so dear to the Marquis as that quaint old clock,
and those uncouth giants—for the sight of them always took him back to
the time when he was a happy innocent child, and thought them the most
wonderful things in all the world.
Regent's Park contains The Botanical Gardens, where are to be seen
almost all species and varieties of plants and flowers. In a great
conservatory, I saw the Victoria Regia, the largest aquatic plant in
the world. Its vast leaves lie on the water like those of the
water-lily, which they resemble—and so broad and thick are they, that
it is said a little girl of six years may stand on one of them, without
weighing it down enough to wet her feet.
But the most interesting portions of Regent's Park are the Zoological
Gardens, where are kept all varieties of beasts, birds, and serpents.
I had far more pleasure in visiting these gardens than I had ever found
in seeing collections of wild beasts in our own country, because the
animals themselves seemed so much more comfortable and happy. I had
been accustomed to see the lions, leopards, tigers, and bears cramped
up in miserable little grated boxes, and looking as fierce, surly, and
wretched as possible. But here they walked up and down large airy
cages, or stretched themselves out in the sun, or dozed in their
sleeping-rooms—with no brutal showmen to molest them, and no Van
Amburgh to make them afraid—and seemed really very well to do,
good-humored, and contented. Even the polar bear, who had a quiet,
shady retreat, seemed to be taking matters coolly, instead of panting
and lolling and tumbling about in the old uncomfortable way.
The zebras looked almost amiable, and the hyenas respectable, while the
poor camels wore a far less woe-begone expression than those
long-suffering animals are expected to wear. As for the monkeys, apes,
and ourang-outangs, they were the noisiest, jolliest, most frolicsome
set of creatures you can imagine.
In a yard by themselves, we saw several giraffes, who appeared to be
having a pleasant gossipping time, overlooking the affairs of all their
neighbors. It seemed to me that if they could put their necks
together, they would reach almost as high as Jack's famous bean-stalk
Very curious sights to me were the rhinoceros and hippopotamus, both of
whom I saw luxuriating in great vats of muddy water. This hippopotamus
is an enormous animal, very clumsy in his motions, and rather indolent
in his habits. He has an Arab keeper, of whom he is so fond that he
will take food from no one else—will not even sleep away from him.
The Arab is said to return his fat friend's affection, and by no means
objects to him as a bedfellow.
A strange, piteous-looking creature was the seal, that I saw stretched
on a rock at the edge of a little pond. Its eyes were large and dark
and sad—so like human eyes, that I shuddered as I looked at them; for
it almost seemed that the poor, helpless seal itself was a human form,
bound and pinioned, and flung down there to die.
I have no fancy for serpents—indeed, to tell the truth, I detest and
fear them—so, I did not visit that department.
Among the birds, I was most amused by the large collection of parrots.
When I entered the gallery in which they are kept, I was almost crazed
by the confusion of tongues. There were scores of parrots, parroquets,
macaws, and cockatoos, all chattering and laughing and screaming
together. It was like a village school just let out, or a large party
of gossiping ladies over their tea.
No two were alike, except in name—for the majority were Pollies. Some
were ugly, yet were vain enough to call themselves "pretty;" and some
were beautiful, and sleek, and plump, though they piteously declared
themselves "poor," and begged of us as we passed.
And now I will tell you a little story—something very simple in
itself, but which I hope will serve to impress this chapter upon your
MABEL HOWARD AND HER PET.
Mabel Howard, my little heroine, was not exactly an English girl,
though she was the daughter of English parents. She was born in India,
in Calcutta, where her father, Colonel Howard, was stationed for
several years with his regiment. Mabel was not, I am sorry to say, a
bright and blooming little maiden, though she had a sweet, intelligent
face, and very endearing ways. From her birth, she had been pale,
slight, and feeble. The climate was very bad for her; and, though all
possible pains were taken with her health, she did not gain strength,
but grew weaker and weaker. At last, when she was about nine years of
age, it was resolved to send her to England, to stay with her
grandparents, who lived in London. Neither her papa nor her mamma
could go with her; but Katuka, her ayah, or native nurse, a kind,
faithful woman, would go and stay with her always, and a friend of
Colonel Howard, an officer returning home, would take charge of them
both till they should reach London.
Poor Mabel's loving little heart was almost broken at the thought of
being sent so far away from her papa and mamma and baby-brother; but
she knew it was all meant for her good, and did not complain.
Of all Mabel's pets, she loved best a beautiful red and white cockatoo,
that her papa had given her on her seventh birthday.
Bobby—for so this favorite was called—was a very knowing bird
indeed—talking fluently, if not wisely, in both English and
Hindostanee; and though somewhat vain of his beauty and
accomplishments, and a little too selfish and fond of good living,
never arrogant or surly, but the most gracious and amiable of cockatoos.
Bobby had a fine gilded cage, which hung in a shaded veranda, where the
family sat in the cool morning and evening hours; so, when not talking,
or talked to himself, he picked up a good deal of knowledge by
listening to the conversation of others.
Everybody liked Bobby, he was so clever and comical; but Mabel not only
liked and petted him, but cared for him constantly; patiently
ministered to his dainty appetite, and tried always to teach him good
and useful things. Indeed, I am afraid that, if it had not been for
his young mistress, Bobby would have been a wicked little heathen, like
other Hindoo cockatoos.
When Mabel was told that she must go to England, almost the first words
which she sobbed out were, "May I take Bobby?"
"Of course, darling," said her papa; "Bobby shall go with you."
But on the morning when Katuka and her young mistress sailed, lo, Bobby
was nowhere to be found! He had been stolen in his cage from the
veranda, and carried away during the night, by some straggling native;
and poor little Mabel was obliged to go away with a new grief weighing
down her tender, childish heart. All through the long voyage, she
missed and mourned for her lost pet, and, when she reached London, her
good grandmamma could give her nothing that would quite take its place.
Everybody was kind to the lonely little girl, and much was done to make
her well and happy. Every day her grandmamma or her good ayah took her
to drive or walk in Hyde Park, or Kensington Gardens, or out on the
open, breezy heaths; and Mabel soon grew better, healthier, and
stronger, and a soft color stole into her pale cheeks, and deepened and
brightened, day by day, like the flush of an opening rose.
Mabel dearly loved her kind English friends, but there were sometimes
chill wintry days, or dull rainy evenings, when she was very homesick,
and cried to see again her far-off Indian home, her papa and mamma, and
At such times, she would often say to her kind ayah, who wept with her,
"Ah, Katuka, if I only had poor Bobby here, it would be some
One day, when Mabel had been about six months in England, her
grandmamma took her to the Zoological Gardens. She was greatly
interested in seeing the animals, though she shrank away with a shudder
from the tigers, of whom she had heard fearful stories in India. At
last, they entered a long, beautiful gallery, all hung with bright
gilded cages of gorgeous birds, mostly parrots, of many different
species. As Mabel walked slowly along, admiring the pretty chattering
creatures, but sadly remembering her lost Bobby, and thinking that no
one of all these was half so beautiful as he, suddenly she heard, from
a cage just before her, a joyous familiar cry: "Good morning, Miss
Mabel!—come to bring Bobby dinner? Poor Bobby hungry!"
With a cry of delight, Mabel sprang forward and flung her arms about
the cage, and kissed the crimson-tuffed head of a pretty cockatoo,
thrust through the bars—Bobby's head—for it was indeed her own dear
Sir John Howard, Mabel's grandfather, was able to buy Bobby of the
Zoological Society, who had bought him of a sailor from Calcutta so
Mabel had her pet again.
He seemed the same intelligent, affectionate bird as ever. He had
forgotten nothing he had ever known; but he had learned some rather
rough sayings of the sailors, on his voyage from India, which did not
go very well with the good things his gentle little mistress had taught
him. But for all that, he was a great comfort to her, and she never
was homesick any more.
After a few years, Mabel's papa, mamma, and little brother came to
England to live—never to return to India. Ah, there was a joyful
meeting one morning, in Leicester Square. Sir John and Lady Howard
were overjoyed to see their darling only son again; and he, bronzed and
weather-beaten soldier as he was, felt as glad to get home as he had
ever been when he was a homesick school-boy at Eton. Mrs. Howard was
welcomed as a real daughter, and her beautiful little boy almost
smothered with kisses. Mabel was half wild with happiness, and her
parents were surprised and delighted to find her grown so healthy and
handsome. The faithful Katuka kissed the hands of her master and
mistress with tears of joy—while Bobby, grown impatient at not being
noticed, called out sharply from his perch—"Avast there shipmates!
what a hullabaloo! Bobby wants breakfast!"
St. Paul's Cathedral
STORY OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
The Cathedral Church of St. Paul's is the largest religious edifice in
London, and one of the largest in the world. It stands on high ground
in the centre of the city, and can be seen for a long distance in
several directions, though it is too closely surrounded by other large
buildings to show to the best advantage. It is less beautiful than
some of the old English minsters, but in size grander than any. It is
built in the form of a Greek cross, and covers more than two acres of
ground. The dome is nearly as large as that of St. Peter's, at Rome,
and from every part of the vast city of London you can see it looming
up toward the sky—a dark, stupendous object—sometimes gilded by the
setting sun, sometimes wreathed by the mists of morning. The dome is
surmounted by a cupola, called "the lantern," over which is placed an
immense ball of gilt copper, weighing five thousand six hundred pounds,
and bearing above it a gilt cross, weighing three thousand six hundred
The interior of the cathedral is very grand, but rather dark and
gloomy, even under the great central light of the dome—except when
viewed by a very clear sunshine, the rarest thing in the world in
"great London town;" for what with the smoke, the fog, and the rain,
the poor old sun has few opportunities of making himself agreeable to
the Londoners. But when he does get a chance to shine, he seems to
make the most of it, and surely nothing can be more pleasant than a
right [Transcriber's note: bright?] sunny morning in London. On such a
morning we visited St. Paul's Cathedral.
Before ascending to the dome, we wandered about for some time in the
nave and transept, examining with much interest the monuments, statues,
and tablets, erected in honor of celebrated English poets, artists,
soldiers, naval heroes, and statesmen, and seeking out the famous
epitaph of the noble architect, and the great and good man, Sir
Christopher Wren. This is in Latin, but translated, reads thus:—
"Beneath lies Christopher Wren, the architect of this church and city,
who lived more than ninety years, not for himself alone, but for the
public. Reader, do you seek his monument? look around!"
About the interior of the dome are a series of pictures, illustrating
the life of St. Paul. An incident occurred during the painting of
these which I will relate, as a remarkable instance of presence of
mind. The artist, Sir James Thornhill, painted standing on a scaffold,
erected of course at a great height from the ground. This scaffold was
securely built, but not protected by any railing. One day, while
fortunately a friend was with him watching him at his work—having just
finished the head of one of the apostles, he forgot where he was, and
with his hand over his eyes, stepped hastily backward, to see how the
picture would look from a distance. In a moment he stood on the very
edge of the platform; another step—another inch backward were certain
death! His friend dared not speak, for fear of startling him; but
catching up a large brush, he dashed it over the face of the apostle,
smearing the picture shockingly. Sir James sprang forward instantly,
"Bless my soul! what have you done?" "I have saved your life,"
replied his friend, calmly. For the next moment the two stood face to
face, very pale and still, but thanking God fervently in their full,
Within the dome is "The Whispering Gallery." This is surely very
curious; the least whisper breathed against the wall at a certain
point, being distinctly heard on the opposite side of the gallery, or
making the entire inner circle of the great dome. After a long, weary
ascent of very dirty and dark staircases, we reached the cupola, and
great London and its environs lay beneath us! Oh, what a wide and
wonderful view was that! It was almost overwhelming—and so bewildered
me at first, that I could not clearly make out any thing. But soon
that dizziness of astonishment passed away, and I began to recognize,
one after another, places and buildings that had grown familiar to me.
There was Hyde Park, looking at that distance like a plantation of
young trees; there was Buckingham Palace, the new palace of
Westminster, and the grand old Abbey. I could see the flash of the
fountains in Trafalgar Square, and trace the silver winding of the
Thames, through miles on miles of docks and warehouses, under dark
bridges, past darker prisons, far up into the green and smiling
country, and far down toward the blue and shining sea. There was the
Tower, which, though not a dark or dilapidated building, always has a
guilty, gloomy look,—after you know what it is. There was the
Monument, towering toward the sky, in memory of the great conflagration
in London, when, where those magnificent buildings now stand, were
piles and masses of fire—and great flames going up in red columns, to
Brightly shone the sun on hundreds of spires and domes, cheerily
lighting up all that vast scene beneath us; the wide, elegant streets,
open squares and parks of the town, and the busy crowded streets and
narrow lanes of the city. The kindly rays fell just as warmly and
clearly into the dark and damp courts of the miserable parish of St.
Giles, as on to the noble terraces and into the palace gardens of
fashionable West End. Oh, the beautiful sunshine! God's manna of
light—falling for the poor as well as for the rich.
While standing on that lofty balcony, I could but faintly hear that
great noise of business and travel, which roars along London streets,
without ceasing day or night. It was like being at the summit of a
high rock, on the sea-shore, where the hoarse sound of the great waves
comes up to your ear, softened to a low, deep murmur.
"Old St. Paul's," upon the site of which this noble cathedral now
stands, was burned in the fire of 1660. Among the great men buried in
"Old St. Paul's," was Sir Philip Sidney, the most brilliant, and the
best man of Queen Elizabeth's court. Let me tell you more about him.
STORY OF SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
Philip Sidney was born in November, 1554. He was the son of Sir Henry
Sidney, the dear friend of the amiable young King Edward VI., who died
in his arms, and of the Lady Mary, only daughter of the ambitious and
unfortunate Duke of Northumberland.
From his early childhood, Philip was remarkable for his genius, his
beauty, his sweet and generous disposition, and the modesty and grace
of his manners. Sir Fulke Greville—who was one of his schoolmates,
knew him all his life, and so dearly loved and highly honored him that
he directed it should be put on his tombstone, that, he was "the friend
of Sir Philip Sidney"—said of him, that, while yet a child, he seemed
a man, in gravity and wisdom, in steadiness of purpose, and love of
knowledge, and that even his teachers found in him something to wonder
at and learn, above what they could find in books, or were able to
At the age of twelve, Philip corresponded with his father in French and
Latin, with correctness and elegance; at thirteen, he entered the
University at Oxford, where he distinguished himself by his
scholarship, by his noble character, and blameless life. At the age of
seventeen, having left college, he went to Paris in the suite of the
Earl of Lincoln, the ambassador extraordinary of Queen Elizabeth to the
court of France. Because of his high connections and reputation, and
the letters which he carried from his uncle, Robert Dudley, Earl of
Leicester, he was received with much distinction. Charles IX., a
courteous, though treacherous prince, and his wily mother, Catharine de
Medicis, were extremely gracious to him. The king gave him an office
of honor in his palace, and strove in various ways to win his regard
and confidence. But Philip neither liked nor trusted him, but gave the
respect and friendship of his noble heart to a more truly royal object,
the brave and good King Henry of Navarre.
It was soon evident what secret object King Charles had in trying to
conciliate the English at his court. It was to blind their eyes, that
they should not foresee and help to arrest one of the most fearful and
cruel crimes to be found in the dark history of Catholic persecution,
the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Charles, his wicked mother, and the
priests, their advisers, chose this time when a large number of
Protestants were assembled at Paris on the occasion of the marriage of
the young Prince of Navarre to the sister of the King of France, for a
general massacre of the Huguenots, throughout the city and kingdom. On
St. Bartholomew's day the slaughter began, and lasted until many
thousand Protestants—men, women, and children—were murdered, shot
down and cut down in their houses, their churches, and in the open
street. King Charles himself, though scarcely more than a boy, was the
most brutal and blood-thirsty of all the persecutors. He stood at one
of the windows of his palace, and fired at the poor, shrieking,
struggling people, as fast as his carbine could be loaded. Many a
brave Christian father and noble youth were laid low by his cruel shot,
in those dreadful streets and courts, where the hard stones steamed
with warm blood as meadows in May mornings smoke with ascending dews,
and where down the very gutters, instead of swift currents of summer
rain, ran sluggish red rivulets, slowly flowing from the bodies of the
dead and dying, piled on either side. But though that bad and mad
young king cruelly meant every shot, and though every drop of blood he
shed was a guilt-stain on his soul, and every dying groan he caused was
to ring on his ear and pierce his wicked heart till he died, yet, after
all, he harmed only the poor, perishing bodies of his victims; their
deathless souls he but early set free from mortal bondage, and hastened
home to God.
But to return to Philip Sidney. During the massacre, he took refuge
with the English resident minister, Sir Francis Walsingham, one of the
most distinguished men of the age and court of Elizabeth.
Sir Francis had a young daughter, a beautiful, sweet-tempered little
girl, in whom Philip Sidney became much interested. This child felt
very deeply for the poor Huguenot martyrs. She prayed for them
constantly, and wept for them tears of bitter anguish, that seemed to
quench the glad sparkle of her tender blue eyes, and to wash all the
rosy bloom from her soft, round cheeks.
Philip, who saw her sadness, often tried to comfort her; but her grief
and her sweet, sorrowful words always so touched his own tender heart,
that his manly voice trembled, and sometimes he bowed his beautiful
face on her head, as it lay on his breast, and wept with her silently.
And so he grew to love her; and she loved him more than all the world.
As soon as quiet was restored—a sad quiet it was—Philip Sidney set
out to travel in Germany and Italy. He was glad to leave Paris, its
vile court and viler king; he was sorry to leave nobody but little
Soon after returning to England, and when only twenty-one, Sidney was
sent as ambassador to Vienna, by Queen Elizabeth, who knew how to
perceive talent and worth, though she did not always reward them
generously. He faithfully discharged the duties of his office, and was
most honorably received by the queen on his return. But he was not of
the stuff out of which courtiers are made. He was too honest,
independent, and disinterested to gain wealth or power by intrigue or
flattery; so, though the queen respected him, and often advised with
him, he received neither gifts nor offices, but lived for several years
in retirement, devoting himself to study and writing.
In 1583, he married Frances, only daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham,
his well remembered little friend, now grown into a beautiful woman,
well worthy of his noble love. During that same year he was knighted
by the queen at Windsor, and became Sir Philip Sidney.
By the time that he reached the age of thirty, the fame of his many
splendid qualities—his learning and literary talent, his bravery, and,
above all, his noble honesty—had spread over Europe, while in England,
he was the glory of the court and the idol of the people.
There are a kind of little great men who seek to impose on you by
pompous ways, proud looks, and high-sounding words; but there was no
such poor pride and pretension about Sir Philip Sidney. He was gay and
free-hearted, frank in his words, simple and gentle in his manner, and
always earnest in the endeavor to be and do good. His writings were
full of noble thought and pure, sweet feeling, worthy his true heart
and his great soul.
In 1585, a wonderful tribute was paid to the talent and exalted worth
of Sir Philip Sidney.
The throne of Poland having become vacant by the death of Stephen
Bathori, he was invited to enroll himself among the candidates. He
does not seem to have been tempted by this splendid opportunity of
obtaining sovereign power and honors, but cheerfully acquiesced in the
queen's will that he should remain her loyal subject. She said, rather
selfishly, I think, that she "could not consent to lose the jewel of
Soon after this, she appointed him to a military command in the Low
Countries. Here he soon distinguished himself by skilful generalship,
rare coolness in danger, and courage in action. At last, on the 24th
of September, 1586, in a gallant attack on a greatly superior force of
the enemy, near Zutphen, a town he was besieging, after having had one
horse shot from under him, he was severely wounded by a musket-ball in
the left leg.
As his soldiers were bearing him from the field of battle toward his
camp, he grew very faint from loss of blood, and asked for water. It
was brought to him; but just as the glass was raised to his parched
lips, he caught the eye of a poor dying soldier fixed wistfully upon
it. In an instant he passed it to him, without having tasted a drop,
saying, "Drink, my friend; thy necessity is yet greater than mine."
Oh, in all his noble life, Sir Philip Sidney had never done so grand a
deed as this! It was, in truth, a Christ-like act, though performed
upon a bloody battle-field,—and it will be remembered and honored
while the world endures.
Sir Philip's wound was unskilfully treated, and finally caused his
death. He died at Arnheim, about the middle of the next month.
This seemed a sad closing to so brilliant a life. Far away from
country and home, from his dearest friends, his beloved wife, and his
darling child, with no loving one to sympathize with him in his pain,
and comfort him in his sadness—to listen reverently to his dying
words, to close tenderly his darkened eyes, and to weep over the pale
beauty of his dead face. But we may trust, from all we know of his
pure Christian life, that comforting angels were near him, whispering
hope and peace to his heart—that divine love sustained him; and we may
feel assured that, for the gift of that "cup of cold water" to the
dying soldier, his soul drunk deep of "the waters of life that now from
the throne of the Lamb," and make beautiful forever the Paradise of God.
Greenwich Hospital—The Park, etc.
LITTLE ROBERT AND HIS NOBLE FRIEND.
Greenwich, though a large market town, containing a goodly number of
elegant and noble buildings, and many thousand inhabitants, appears in
this age of steam to form a part of London—for when you set out from
the metropolis to visit it, you seem to have hardly got comfortably
seated in the railway carriage, before you are there.
Greenwich is delightfully situated on the south bank of the Thames, and
is certainly one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the
vicinity of London. From the time of Edward I., the English monarchs
had a royal residence here, but by the time of Charles II., this old
palace had become a rather mouldy and tumble-down affair, so he
commanded that it should be demolished entirely, and a magnificent
structure of freestone erected in its place. We read that "riches take
to themselves wings," but King Charles's riches seem to have gone off
with one wing, for he had only means enough to finish that much of his
new palace, and even that cost him thirty-six thousand pounds—an
enormous sum for his time, or for any time, indeed. This answered his
purpose tolerably well, and he condescended to reside here
occasionally, when he was tired of Hampton Court and his London palaces.
No more was done to the building till the reign of William III. It had
been suggested by his queen, Mary, that an asylum for old and disabled
seamen should be built, and as the royal family had really no need of
the palace at Greenwich, Sir Christopher Wren ventured to advise that
it should be finished, and converted into a hospital. The king and
queen graciously consented, and so the good work went on. The building
was enlarged, beautified, and finished with simple elegance, and now
there is not a more imposing palace in all England. Not only is it a
princely, but a comfortable and happy home for nearly three thousand
poor seamen. Here they have excellent and abundant food and clothing;
skilful medical treatment, when they are ill, and their wives, as paid
nurses, to attend them; a reasonable sum of pocket-money is given them
to spend as they please. Here is a library, a picture-gallery, and a
chapel, for their especial benefit, and a school, where their children
can be educated. Is it any wonder that these veteran seamen, nearly
every man of whom has lost a leg or an arm in the service of his
country, should be contented and happy, in such a noble asylum as
this—such a quiet and comfortable place of refuge and rest?
Near the hospital is Greenwich Park, an inclosure of nearly two hundred
acres, planted principally with elms and Spanish chestnuts, many of
which are very large and magnificent trees. This park is hilly, and on
the highest eminence stands the Royal Observatory, where, as you know,
many valuable astronomical calculations are made.
In the park, on pleasant days, many of the old pensioners can always be
seen, hobbling along the shady avenues, or sitting together on the
benches, under the great trees, talking over old times—telling tales
of storms and shipwrecks, or more terrible still, of battles at sea.
Those who fought under the heroic Lord Nelson most love to talk of him,
for he was idolized by all his men.
In the great hall of the hospital hang many pictures of him and his
battles; and there also, in a glass case, are kept the clothes which he
wore when he was killed—all stained with his blood. Not a man among
his veteran seamen can look at these relics without feeling his dim old
eyes grow yet more dim with tears. Among the pictures, there was one
which, though not very fine in itself, impressed me not a little at the
time, and which I still remember vividly. It represents an adventure
which happened to Lord Nelson when he was a young sailor-boy, cruising
in the north seas. In the picture, he seems to have wandered off in a
freak of boyish rashness, far from the boat and crew, and is standing
on the ice, surrounded by vast wastes and mountains of ice, alone, but
in a very fearless attitude, facing a monstrous white bear, who is
evidently coming up, eagerly, to hug the young mariner, yet has any
thing but an affectionate expression on his ugly face. Nelson has his
long knife drawn, and seems to say: "Come on; I'm ready for you, old
I do not remember ever to have read any account of this adventure, so I
cannot tell how it terminated for the bear. We know well enough that
Bruin did not get the better of Nelson, for he lived to fight again and
again with foes no less ferocious than the bear, though without his
excuse of brute instincts and hunger. But only suppose it had been
different; suppose the bear had killed and eaten the hero of Trafalgar,
like any common sailor-boy, what a difference it would have made with
the glory and boasting of England, and it may be, in its power on land
In the eastern part of Greenwich Park are "the barrows," very singular
circular mounds, supposed to be burial-places of ancient Britons.
These the English people so much respect that they will not suffer them
to be opened, or even levelled.
Just without the park lies Blackheath, a large expanse of common, full
a mile wide, and more than that long, I should say. Opening off from
this is Blackheath Park, and here, in a lovely homelike cottage,
embowered in trees and flowers and vines, I spent some of the happiest
days of my happy visit in England. Oh, I so often think with a sad
longing of that home, and wonder if I shall ever see it again! There
is a certain pleasant window of the family parlor, looking out into the
garden, and sometimes, when I sit alone at evening, I dream that I am
sitting at that window, enjoying the long English twilight. I seem to
see one very dear to me, flitting lightly about among the flowers,
singing low, and smiling to herself, because her heart is made so glad
by their beauty and their fragrance. And the flowers seem to know her,
and bend to her and claim relationship with her—the roses for her
bloom, the lilies for her white dress and innocent look, while the
violets kiss her feet, as she passes, because she is good.
I can almost hear the good-night song of the blackbird, before he goes
to sleep among the golden laburnum boughs; can almost smell the
good-night sigh of the flowers, as they nod their sleepy heads and
swing lazily in the evening wind.
Just across the heath lives another dear friend, Mrs. Crosland, whom my
little readers know. When going to visit her, I never chose to ride,
enjoying much more that walk across the heath. Here the air was always
fresh and cool, and the winds, without a tree or house to obstruct
them, had a bold, strong, frolicsome sweep, as though glad to be free
of both forest and town.
The ground of this heath is smooth, and gently rolling. It does not
grow the heather, but is covered everywhere with a firm turf of fine
grass, which, thanks to frequent showers, always looks soft and green,
though it is kept very closely cropped.
In pleasant summer weather there can always be seen ranged along one
side of this heath, queer little pony chaises, donkey carts, goat
carriages, and ponies and donkeys saddled and bridled, all waiting to
be let to invalids and children, by the hour, or for the ride.
It was very amusing, on Saturday afternoons, to see school children
consoling themselves for the week's confinement and study, by a wild
pony trot, or a scrambling donkey gallop across the heath. Wild girls,
with gipsy bonnets falling on their shoulders, and their long hair
flying in the wind; wilder boys, with their satchels bobbing at their
backs, their hats swung in the air, and their feet remorselessly
digging into the sides of the poor little bewildered beasts who carried
"Great fun!" "splendid sport!" they said it was, when they dismounted
and paid their six-pence, but perhaps the ponies and donkeys had an
opinion of their own on the subject.
Donkey-riding is said to be a very healthful exercise, and invalids
often drive out from town to the heaths, where these animals are always
to be had, for the sake of a free ride in those fresh, open places.
Hampstead-heath, which lies on the other side of London, is more
frequented, both for health and pleasure; and as this was the scene of
the story I am about to tell, we will take leave of Blackheath, a dear,
pleasant, sunny place, in spite of its name.
LITTLE ROBERT AND HIS NOBLE FRIEND.
Robert Selwyn was the only son of a poor widow, who kept a small green
grocer's shop, at Hampstead.
Robert, at the period at which our story commences, was a fine,
handsome, intelligent lad of twelve, with frank, engaging manners, and
a warm, honest heart.
For a boy of his age, he was remarkably thoughtful and serious; he
loved books more than any thing in the world, except his mother, and
actually seemed to hunger and thirst after knowledge. Mrs. Selwyn was
a woman of considerable education, as she had seen better days in her
youth, and now she taught Robert all that she knew, beside sending him
to the parish school as often as she could spare him.
The widow owned a very pretty fawn-colored donkey,—good tempered and
well trained, which she used to hire out to invalids, and so added
something to her little income. Every pleasant summer afternoon she
would send Robert with "Billy" to the heath, telling him never to allow
any wild boys or girls to ride the good little animal for sport, but to
let him to invalids or very young children, and always to walk or run
by his side. Robert faithfully obeyed his mother, and though bold boys
and girls thought him hard and disobliging, he and his pretty donkey
were in great demand among the invalids and children. Many were the
sweet little girls and gentle boys that he taught to ride—trotting
along beside them, up and down the heath.
One balmy afternoon, late in May, Robert was standing on the edge of
the heath, leaning against his donkey, waiting for a customer. Billy
always plump and sleek, was wearing, for the first time, a nice new
saddle, with a fine white linen cloth, fringed with crimson, and really
looked fit to carry a prince.
At length, an open carriage came slowly driving that way; it had a
coachman and a footman in handsome livery, and contained a lady and a
little boy. This child was about Robert's age, but looked much
smaller. He was slight and delicate, and his face, which was very
beautiful, was almost as white as marble, and would have been sad to
look upon, had it not been for a sweet lovingness about the mouth, and
a cheerful, patient spirit smiling out of the eyes.
The lady was a noble, stately person, dressed all in black, and looking
as if she had seen a great deal of sorrow. She had an anxious
expression on her face, and held the hand of the little boy tenderly
clasped in hers.
"Oh, mamma," the child suddenly exclaimed, "may I not have a ride on
that nice donkey yonder, standing by that handsome, red-cheeked boy?"
The lady sighed as she looked at Robert's robust form and blooming
face, but she answered, cheerfully:—
"Certainly, my love, you may take a little ride, if the donkey and the
boy seem trustworthy."
So Robert was called, and questioned about Billy, and answered so
frankly and modestly, that the young invalid was soon seated on
donkey-back, and gently trotting down the heath, with Robert running at
his side. He liked his attendant so well, that he soon got into
conversation with him, asked his name, and told him his own. Robert
was a little startled, when he found that his sociable new customer was
a real young nobleman—Arthur, Lord Evremond.
When they returned to the carriage, his lordship felt so much benefited
by his ride, and was so much pleased with both donkey and donkey-boy,
that he engaged their services for the next afternoon.
Lady Evremond had come up to London from her country-seat, where she
lived in great retirement, for the best medical advice for her son, who
had come home from Eton, ill, and who, young as he was, seemed
threatened with consumption. Her husband and daughter had died of that
disease, in Italy, and she had not the heart to take her Arthur away
from England to die.
The physicians gave her hope that the child would recover; he seemed
better in the air of London than on his estate, which lay low in a
little valley in Devonshire. His new exercise of donkey-riding, seemed
to benefit him greatly for awhile. Two or three times a week the
little lord drove out to Hampstead, to take his ride on the breezy
heath. He became more and more friendly and confiding with Robert,
whom he never treated as an inferior. He loved best to talk with him
about the good he meant to do if God would only make him well, and let
him grow up to be a man. He said that if he died, the title and
estates must go to his cousin, who was a wicked, wasteful man, and who
would do nothing for the poor and suffering; and that, he said, was
what made it hardest for him to die. Next to that, was the thought of
leaving his mother; but she would soon come to him in heaven, and all
her grief be over—while the sorrows that his hard-hearted cousin might
cause his poor tenants, would last a long time.
When the young lord spoke so sweetly and nobly, there was always such a
holy light on his beautiful face that he seemed to have become already
one of God's blessed angels, and Robert was almost ready to worship
him. So great was the boy's reverence for his goodness, not for his
title, that when Evremond asked him to call him "Arthur," instead of
"my lord," he gently shook his head, and said: "I would rather not."
After a few weeks had gone by, Robert noticed that his noble friend
seemed to be getting still weaker and paler. He talked more and more
earnestly and tenderly of heaven, of his papa and angel sister, and
seemed to feel yet more loving pity for all the poor and suffering. He
now seldom rode faster than a walk, his voice grew faint, he rested his
hand wearily on Robert's shoulder, and fell languidly into his arms,
when he dismounted.
At last he failed to keep his engagement at the heath. Day after day,
a whole week went by, and still he did not come, and poor Robert was
almost heart-broken with disappointment and anxiety. At length, to his
great joy, he saw the well-known carriage coming! Alas, it was empty!
The footman brought a message from Lady Evremond—her son had been
taken alarmingly ill, the night after his last ride—he had been
failing ever since, and now it was thought he could not live many
hours. The carriage was sent for his friend Robert, whom he wished to
see before he died.
Robert sent home his donkey by a friend, and sprang into the carriage,
where he buried his face in his hands and wept all the way to Grosvenor
He was conducted into a great hall, up a noble staircase, through
several elegant rooms, filled with beautiful and costly things, strange
enough to poor Robert, but his eyes were too full of tears and his
heart of grief to notice them. A chamber door was opened softly before
him, and Robert saw his friend lying on a couch by the window, with his
head resting in his mother's lap. His eyes were closed, and his face
so deathly pale that Robert thought he had come too late, and
staggering forward, he fell at the young lord's feet, and hiding his
face against them, sobbed aloud.
"Dear Robert; have you come?" said a low, sweet voice.
"Yes, my lord," answered Robert, joyfully.
"Oh, won't you call me Arthur, now that I am dying?" said his
"Arthur, dear Arthur," murmured Robert, and that was all that he
could say for weeping.
After awhile, Lord Evremond, looking up to his mother and clasping
Robert's hand, said:
"Mamma, I leave you Robert; love him and take care of him; send him
to school, and let him have just such an education as you would have
given to me. Promise me that you will, dear mamma."
"Yes, Arthur, my beloved child, I promise but oh, my son, my darling
only boy, how can I part with you!"
"Dearest mother, only think, it is for but a little while, and then we
shall all be together. Kiss me now, and let me sleep, I feel so
And he did sleep, for some time, very peacefully, smiling sweetly, as
though dreaming pleasant dreams. Suddenly he opened his eyes, and
reached up his arms, calling out joyfully: "Papa! sister Mary!" and
died without a pang of suffering.
Ten years had passed. It was Sunday morning, and the church bell of
Evremond was calling the people to worship. All were eager to see and
hear the new minister, who was to preach his first sermon that day.
Out of the pleasant Rectory he came, supporting an elderly lady on his
arm. It was Robert Selwyn and his mother. At the church door they met
a lady, who grasped them both by the hand. This was Lady Evremond.
Robert Selwyn performed the sacred rites with dignity and true feeling,
and preached a noble discourse, such an one as makes men's hearts
strong against sin, but soft toward the erring.
After the services, when all save she had left the church, Lady
Evremond lingered for some time before a white marble monument, which
stood under a high church window. The sculpture on this monument
represented the young Lord Evremond, as he lay on his couch, when
dying,—and an angel, with a face very like his, lovingly lifting him
from his mother's arms, to bear him to heaven.
As Lady Evremond gazed on the marble image of her dead boy, she
"Have I not been true to thy trust, my son?"
Late in the dim twilight of that day, another form was kneeling beside
that monumental couch. It was Robert Selwyn; and when he rose, there
were tears on that sweet marble face. All night long they glistened in
the pale moonlight, and sad starlight, shining through that high church
window; but in the morning the happy sunbeams came softly down and
kissed them all away.
THE LADY MARY'S VISION.
How well I remember one pleasant morning in September—more than two
years ago, I declare!—when a merry party of us, English and Americans,
met at the counting house of our noble friend, Mr. B——, to go from
thence to Hampton Court. It was in the city of London that we met.
This is entered from the town, which holds most of the parks and
palaces of royalty and the nobility, by an old, old gateway, called
Temple Bar. When the Queen is to pay a visit to the city, Temple Bar
gate is closed, and she must respectfully ask admittance of the lord
mayor, and he must graciously present the keys to her before she may
come in. The lord mayor is the real king of London, and takes
precedence of royalty in all processions in the city, as, for instance,
the funeral procession of the Duke of Wellington, after it passed
Temple Bar. All lord mayors are elected from the board of aldermen;
they serve but one year, during which time they live in a very handsome
residence, called "The Mansion House," and ride in a splendid, but
rather gaudy and old-fashioned coach—something such as you have seen
pictures of in the story of Dick Whittington.
Each new sovereign attends, with the court, a grand ball, given by the
lord mayor, at Guildhall; on which occasion there is always a
magnificent display, both on the part of the aristocracy and the
Guildhall is a large building, where the aldermen and councilmen meet,
to transact business and eat good dinners. In the hall where balls and
great banquets are given stand two gigantic painted figures, called Gog
and Magog, which are very quaint and odd-looking, and I don't know how
many years old.
"But what," you will say, "has all this to do with Hampton Court?"
Well, we started from the city, a social, merry party, of five or six;
and, after laughing and chatting in a comfortable English railway
carriage, for a few minutes, arrived at the station, near the palace.
The old palace of Hampton Court stands on the northern bank of the
Thames, about twelve miles west of Hyde Park, and is situated in the
parish of Hampton, and county of Middlesex.
In the reign of Henry VIII., when the great prelate, Cardinal Wolsey,
was at the height of his power, he leased the old manor and manor-house
of the Knights-Hospitallers of Jerusalem, to whom it then belonged, for
the purpose of building a palace suitable to his rank and splendor. He
erected a structure so magnificent, and so far surpassing any of the
royal residences, that he quite overshot his mark, and roused the
jealousy of the king, who bluntly asked him what he, a priest, and a
butcher's son, meant by building for himself a palace handsomer than
any of his king's. Then the cunning Cardinal, putting the best face he
could on the matter, said that he had only been trying to build a
residence worthy of so great and glorious a monarch, and that Hampton
Court was at King Henry's service. The king jumped at the offer, but
in return bestowed upon Wolsey the old manor of Richmond, the favorite
residence of his father, Henry VII. It was observed, when the great
Cardinal was going home, after this interview with his royal master,
that he scowled and growled at his followers, and belabored the poor
mule that he rode most unmercifully.
So, by gift from Cardinal Wolsey, Hampton Court became the property of
Edward VI. was born in this palace, and mostly resided here, during his
short, but happy reign. Gloomy Queen Mary and her false hearted
husband, Philip of Spain, spent their honey-moon, or rather
vinegar-moon, here. Queen Elizabeth here gave several great festivals,
and her successor, the mean and pedantic James I. held a great
religious conference in the privy-chamber,—he, the most immoderate of
bigots, sitting as moderator. Here he entertained some great French
princes at one time, very handsomely; every thing being on a royal
scale except the host. Here he lost his wife, Anne of Denmark, a very
respectable sort of a woman, much too good for him.
Charles I., with his queen and court, sought refuge at this place from
the plague, which was ravaging London. But there was another trouble
that came upon him from which he could not escape, even here. Death,
with his scythe, passed by the healthful shades of the country palace,
but the executioner with his axe was not to be evaded.
The Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, resided sometimes at this palace;
but his favorite daughter, Elizabeth, a very lovely woman, died here,
and after that, it was the saddest place in all the world to him.
Charles II., with his gay court, which hardly held one honest man, or
reputable woman, used to hold revels here; and stubborn James II.
resided here now and then, till he was driven by a roused people from
throne, palace, and country. William III. was very partial to Hampton
Court, and did much to improve and adorn it. His queen here performed
prodigious labors in the embroidery line, and kept her maids of honor
as hard at work on chair covers and bed curtains as though they were
poor seamstresses, toiling for their daily bread.
George II. and Queen Caroline were the last sovereigns who resided at
this palace. It is now only occupied by the officers and servants who
have charge of it, and some dowagers and poor women of rank, called in
England "decayed gentlewomen." To those ladies the queen allots
apartments, and they live very handsomely and comfortably, though I
should think they would have rather lonely times, amid the melancholy
grandeur and stillness of that deserted old palace.
Over the gateway by which we entered are carved the arms of Cardinal
Wolsey, with a Latin inscription, signifying "God is my help," a lying
motto, as his own words afterwards proved; for, when dying in disgrace,
he exclaimed, "If I had served my God half as faithfully as I have
served my king, He would not have given me over to my enemies in my old
We went up the grand staircase, to the guard-chamber, and from thence
passed through several suites of noble rooms, hung with pictures and
ancient tapestry, with frescoed ceilings, and carved and gilded
cornices. The most interesting among the pictures are portraits of
famous people, kings, queens, princes, heroes, and beauties, of whom we
read in history.
But as there are more than a thousand paintings at Hampton Court, of
course I cannot stop to describe any of these, though about many I
could tell you very strange and romantic stories.
The most magnificent apartment in the palace, and one of the grandest
in the world, is the great hall, which is one hundred and six feet
long, forty wide, and sixty high. The roof is beautifully carved and
decorated with the royal arms and badges, the walls are hung with
costly tapestry, the windows are richly stained, and bear the arms and
pedigree of Henry VIII. and his six wives.
From this hall we passed through another splendid apartment, called
"the withdrawing room," down "the queen's staircase," into a court,
containing a pretty fountain, and from thence into the gardens. These
are very fine, but rather too stiffly and formally laid out to suit our
modern taste. I remember one narrow, gloomy alley, of boxwood, or yew,
called "Queen Mary's Walk," after bloody Mary, who used to take her
evening exercise here alone, marching slowly up and down in the waning
twilight, meditating, I fear, those frightful persecutions, rackings,
and burnings of the poor Protestants, and trying to steel her heart
against the womanly pity that would creep into it sometimes, in spite
of all the admonitions of Cardinal Pole and Bishop Gardiner, and the
counsels of her cruel husband.
The greatest curiosity of these gardens is a Hamburg grape-vine,
supposed to be the largest in the world. It alone fills a green-house
seventy-two feet long and thirty broad. It is itself one hundred and
ten feet long; and is thirty inches in circumference, three feet from
the ground. It often bears as many as two thousand five hundred
From the green-house, we walked down to the Thames, and then returned
through a beautiful avenue of linden-trees, to the east part of the
palace, where there is a fountain and a basin containing gold and
silver fish. Then we whiled away another hour in the grounds, the
"Labyrinth," and under the noble chestnut and lime trees in the great
avenue, which is more than a mile in length, and then the golden day
THE LADY MARY'S VISION,
A Story of Hampton Court.
Some ten years ago, there resided for a time, in a pleasant suite of
apartments at Hampton Court, a young and beautiful gentlewoman, who was
greatly beloved by all who knew her, for her goodness and her sweet and
winning ways. Lady Mary Hamilton, or "the Lady Mary," as she was
called by the pensioners and retainers there, was the youngest daughter
of a poor Scottish nobleman, and the widow of a still poorer young
officer. Captain Hamilton, soon after his marriage, was ordered to
join the army in Afghanistan and for several months dared danger and
death, and endured frightful hardships, in that dreadful war against a
treacherous and savage people.
At last, in a skirmish among the mountains, he was seen to fall under
the spear-thrust of a fierce Afghan chief, and was reported as
"killed," though his body was never recovered by his victorious
comrades. It was supposed that the natives had carried him off in
their retreat, to plunder him at leisure.
But the Lady Mary never would give him up as really dead; and though
she was very sorrowful and anxious for him, she could not be persuaded
to put on a widow's dress, or cover her soft, brown hair with a widow's
cap. She even refused to receive a widow's pension, professing always
a firm belief that her husband was yet living.
Month after month went by, till two long years had passed, and brought
her no word from her beloved George; and still she did not despair.
It was said that she was kept up by happy dreams—that her husband
often came to her in her sleep, and told her to be of good cheer, and
all would yet be well. However that may have been, it is certain that
she never wholly lost heart.
The queen kindly offered Lady Mary apartments at Hampton Court, and she
gladly accepted, for she was poor, and then, she felt that she should
like the melancholy quiet of the old palace far better than the gayety
and bustle of the town. And so she came to Hampton Court to live, and
"wait for my husband," she said, smiling sadly, while her friends shook
their heads, and whispered among themselves that "the poor dear
creature was hardly in her right mind."
The lonely Lady Mary soon became a great favorite with the guards and
servitors at Hampton Court. They all felt for her a tender, respectful
pity, and would do any thing in their power to serve her. Being very
shy, she never liked to visit the show apartments of the palace, at
hours when she might meet strangers. So, the kind porter would often
let her go in by herself, and sometimes even give her the keys, that
she might stay as long as she pleased in any of the halls or galleries.
She was romantic and poetical, and loved much to visit the grand old
hall, on summer evenings, and see the rich sunset light pour in, and
then fade softly out through the gorgeous stained windows. Sometimes,
she would linger here till the long twilight was over, and the
starlight and moonlight struggled through the stained glass, and
faintly lit up the hall, silvering over the faded tapestry and banners,
glistening on the old arms and armor. Strolling up and down the hall,
or seated under one of the great windows, she would think and dream,
and try to forget the sorrows of her humble life in remembering the
misfortunes of the great and royal ones, who had so often walked where
she walked, and sat where she sat.
Once old Roger, the porter, asked her if she were not afraid to stay
there, all alone by herself, so late.
"Why, no," she answered, "what should I be afraid of?"
He shrugged his shoulders, but said no more; I suppose because he did
not know what to say, to such a simple, childlike question.
One lovely August evening, the Lady Mary stayed later than usual in
The sunset glory faded and faded away; the twilight deepened and
deepened into night; the moon and the stars looked in upon her through
the great window. She was weary and sad, and the lonely stillness of
that place seemed to suit her; she seemed to feel the calm moonlight
in which she sat, bathing her like a soft, soothing flood. She leaned
her head against the tapestried wall, closed her eyes, and thought, and
thought of the great days and splendid festivals long gone by—of kings
and queens, brave knights, and beautiful ladies, and—when all at once
that vast hall was lighted up as though by magic! Music swelled
through the arches, and a splendid court came slowly sweeping in!
First walked a stout, red-faced man, all velvets and jewels, with a
dark, sorrowful-looking lady on his right; and on his left, an elderly
man, with a bold, haughty face, and a rich dress of scarlet velvet and
The Lady Mary recognized these as Henry VIII., Queen Katharine, and
They were followed by maids of honor, gentlemen, priests, and pages.
Soon there was a livelier peal of music, and the dance began. The king
danced with the most beautiful of the maids of honor, whom he smiled
lovingly upon, while the poor queen looked very unhappy. So the Lady
Mary knew that this fair maid must be Anne Boleyn.
When the dance ended, the gay court passed out; but again there was
music, and another swept in. This was headed by a proud, stately
woman, with golden hair, and cold blue eyes. She wore a sparkling
diadem; her dress was of stiff brocade, thickly bestrewn with pearls
and diamonds, while about her neck was a ruff so prodigious, that it
alone would keep everybody at a very respectful distance. On her left,
walked a handsome noble, most royally dressed, and behind came a
brilliant host of beauties, pages, cavaliers, poets, and statesmen.
The Lady Mary now recognized Queen Elizabeth, the Earl of Essex, and
The queen took her place upon the throne and graciously desired her
court to be seated. Before them was a stage; they were to witness a
play. The queen signified that she was ready, and the play began. It
was "Henry VIII., or the Fall of Wolsey."
The queen seemed interested, and applauded occasionally, though the
actors played badly. They were half frightened to death at appearing
in that august place, before her august majesty; all but one, who went
through with his part in a quiet, manly way, which did him great
credit. This was the author—William Shakspeare.
At length the queen, court, and actors all went out, and there came in
next, not a court, with music and pomp, but quietly and silently, a
dark, sad-looking man, leading two children by the hand. These three
walked up and down the hall, several times—the man talking to the
children, and telling them, it seemed, something very sad, for they
cried and clung to him, and then the three passed out, weeping.
The Lady Mary knew these to be Charles I. and his children, whom he had
been telling, perhaps, that he might soon be put to death.
Next there came, in stillness also, a stern, haggard-faced man, in a
rough, half-military dress, with a sweet delicate-looking lady, in
white. She was clinging to his arm, and seemed expostulating with him
very earnestly, but he shook his head, yet at the same time he tenderly
smoothed her hair, with his strong hand, and playfully pinched her thin
cheek, and tried to smile. Then he suddenly turned, and strode out of
the hall. The lady stood a moment, looking after him mournfully, and
then passed out also.
The Lady Mary knew these two to be Cromwell and his daughter Elizabeth,
who often interceded with her father, for political offenders.
Again there was loud music, and again a brilliant court came pouring
in. First walked a dark, dissolute-looking young man, very gayly
dressed, with long curls dangling about his shoulders, handing
carelessly along a pale, dispirited lady, who didn't seem to find much
comfort in the queenly diadem she wore.
The ball began, and soon it was turned into a wild revel. Beautiful,
but bold ladies, and reckless looking gentlemen, danced and laughed,
sung and feasted, and gamed, and grew merrier and madder every minute.
The Lady Mary became frightened, for she saw that she was in the
profligate court of Charles II. She tried to hide behind the tapestry
by the window, but a rollicking nobleman, whom she recognized by his
portraits as the Earl of Rochester, caught sight of her, and sprang
forward, to drag her out into the midst of the hall! She flung his
hand off, with a scream, and lo, he, the king, the queen, the court,
the lights, every thing vanished!
It was all a dream!
The Lady Mary was alone in the old hall, in the silent night, now
darker than before, for a cloud had come over the moon.
She groped her way to the door, unlocked it, and passed into the
withdrawing room. At the further end she saw some one coming, she
could not see who it was, by the dim starlight, so she asked: "Roger,
is that you?"
"No, Mary," answered a glad, tremulous voice, "it is not Roger—it is
With a wild, joyful cry, the Lady Mary sprang forward, and was clasped
in her husband's arms.
And this was not a dream.
Captain Hamilton had been severely wounded, and taken captive by the
Afghans. They had kept him a close prisoner in the mountains, not even
permitting him to write a letter to any one, for two years. He had at
last been discovered, liberated, and sent home to recover his health,
which had suffered somewhat in his hardship and confinement.
On arriving at Hampton Court, whither he had been directed from London,
he had been told by old Roger where his wife probably was, as he could
not find her in her apartments, and was on his way to the hall, when he
met her, as we have seen.
The next time that the Lady Mary visited that old hall, to walk in the
moonlight, or muse in her favorite window-seat, it was observed that
she did not go alone.
KING JAMES OF SCOTLAND AND
THE LADY JANE BEAUFORT.
One of the pleasantest excursions which a traveller can make from
London is to Windsor, with its parks and grounds so wonderfully
luxuriant and beautiful, and so vast in extent, and its royal old
castle—certainly one of the noblest sights in all England.
This is finely situated on the Thames; it overlooks a rich and lovely
country, and is seen from great distances—a grand, crowning object in
I visited Windsor with a party of Americans, some of whom I had never
seen before, and have not met since; but I always think of them with
kindly interest, because I shared with them so great a pleasure. I
wonder if they remember it as well as I do!
'Twas on a bright, but not unpleasantly warm day in midsummer, when the
parks and gardens were in all the glory of their greenness and bloom,
when fountains sparkled in the sun and birds warbled in the shade, and
the sky above was clear and blue enough to make up for all the clouds
and fogs I had seen since I came to England.
We went directly from the station to the Castle, a grand mass of
ancient and modern buildings, towers, and turrets, and parapets—all
solidly but elegantly built, of dark gray stone.
We entered through a lofty gateway, into the court-yard, from thence
into a sort of guardroom, where we recorded our names in a book; and
then were conducted up a great marble staircase, to the state
apartments. These are somewhat jumbled up in my mind with the hosts of
magnificent rooms which I have since seen in many other royal palaces;
but I remember that they were all very handsome, richly furnished, and
hung with fine pictures and gorgeous tapestry. I recollect most
distinctly "The Vandyke Room," called so because of its containing
several great pictures by that famous painter—principally portraits of
Charles I. and his family. Then there is "The Waterloo Chamber," hung
round with portraits of heroes and great men, and "St. George's Hall,"
a grand banqueting room, two hundred feet in length, and the beautiful
ball-room, as brilliant as rich carving and gilding and delicate
painting can make it.
Our party had permission to see not only the state, but the private
apartments of the palace. These are less splendid than those great
show rooms, but more tasteful, beautiful, and comfortable. Yes,
comfortable—for the English, even in their grandest palaces, manage
to have the dear, cosy home look and feeling about them. The Queen's
breakfast parlor, looking out on a pleasant terrace, simply though
richly furnished, and hung with portraits of herself, Prince Albert,
and the royal children, is a very charming apartment indeed. We came
to this through a long, bright corridor, lined with beautiful pictures,
bronzes, graceful statuettes, and elegant curiosities, so that one
could but be charmed to linger by the way. Several of the pictures
represented scenes in her Majesty's life—her first council—her
coronation—her marriage—the christening of the princess royal, etc.
Many palaces have such a vast, cold, awfully grand look that one
fancies kings and queens must have very dull, stiff, dreary times,
living in them, and must often long for a simple, snug little
cottage-home, somewhere away from all their pomp and splendor. But it
is not so at Windsor; I did not pity the Queen at all. I even fancied
that I could be very comfortable myself, living at the palace, after
getting a little used to it. Her Majesty never gave me an opportunity
to test this, however.
Attached to the Castle is the beautiful chapel of St. George, in which
the court, when at Windsor, attend service. Here, a place is
partitioned off for the royal family, something like a box at the
opera, only enclosed by a fine lattice work screen, to prevent the
people, I suppose, from gazing at the Queen and Prince Albert, when
they should be minding their devotions.
From the chapel we went to the royal stables, where we were shown some
very fine horses and elegant equipages. There were the Queen's
carriages of all varieties, and little pony phaetons, and Canadian
sleighs and Russian sledges; and there were her carriage and riding
horses, and Prince Albert's hunters, and the children's ponies. The
stables are handsome and comfortable buildings, and are kept with the
utmost care, order, and neatness. Thousands of poor people might envy
the high-blooded brutes such a home as this. Some of the horses were
very beautiful and graceful animals, and all were groomed so carefully
it seemed no one hair was longer than the others. In almost every
stall was a sleek, lazy, high-bred looking cat, either perched upon the
back of the horse, dozing and blinking, or curled up in the straw at
his feet, fast asleep. The grooms told us that the horses were really
very fond of their feline companions, and treated them tenderly and
From the castle we drove to the delightful pleasure-grounds of Virginia
Water. Passing up a magnificent avenue, more than three miles long, we
came to a height, on which stands a large equestrian statue of George
III., in the dress of an ancient Roman. This is the king we rebelled
against, you know. He was a domineering, stubborn, crack-brained old
gentleman, but, for all that, honest and good-humored. I should not
think him particularly like an ancient Roman, except in his obstinacy.
Next we came to Virginia Water, which is just the loveliest place I
ever saw. Here are luxuriant plantations and gardens, summer-houses,
temples, fountains, cascades, woods, walks, and drives. Here is a
shining, winding little lake, with fairy-like pleasure-boats upon it,
and graceful swans slowly sailing over the clear, blue waves, and
looking like the reflection of small white clouds, floating in the sky
Virginia Water is the play-ground of royalty. The celebrated Duke of
Cumberland, George IV., and William IV., amused themselves here a great
deal, at an enormous and very foolish expense, sometimes. The duke
built an absurd Chinese temple and a useless clock-tower. George had
ruins brought from Greece and Egypt, and set up in the wood; while
William, who had been a sailor, had a little vessel of war built to
defend the miniature sea.
The Duke of Cumberland's clock-tower was sold to a rich country
gentleman, who soon tired of it, and wished to sell it back to the
crown. But King George objected to his price, and refused to buy. The
owner, who was a shrewd fellow, a sort of English Barnum, said, "Very
well," but immediately took means to render himself a very
uncomfortable neighbor, by mounting a large telescope on the top of the
tower, and coolly watching the king in all his loyal recreations. This
quite enraged his Majesty; but he bought the tower on the owner's
terms, who, I am sorry to say, was disloyal enough to make him pay dear
for the telescope.
When Queen Victoria is at Windsor, the royal standard is seen floating
from the highest tower, and strangers are not admitted to the castle.
But the great park is always open to the people. Here they sometimes
meet the Queen and Prince Albert walking or riding, without an escort,
and so plainly dressed that those who expect to see sovereigns and
princes always surrounded by pomp and show, might pass them by
unnoticed. The little princes and princesses are often seen walking
and playing in the grounds, also very simply dressed. They are fine,
healthy, natural children, and are admirably governed and cared for.
Their good mother sees that especial attention is paid to their health,
and has established a wise and strict system of exercise and diet. She
keeps them in the country and on the sea-shore as much as possible; she
overlooks their studies, reading, and sports; she is very careful that
they go early to bed, and rise in time to hear the good-morning song of
the lark. As for their diet, many an American farmer's or shopkeeper's
children would think it very hard if they were restricted to such
simple food as these sons and daughters of a great queen are content
with and thrive on; oatmeal porridge, butterless bread, a very little
meat, no rich gravies,—water, milk, a limited amount of fruit, and no
The Prince of Wales, who, if he lives, will be the next king of
England, is an amiable and gallant young lad, but is a little too apt,
I heard it said, to take kingly airs upon himself before his time. I
was told of an instance of this very natural fault, in which he was
taught a good lesson.
It happened some two or three summers ago, that he invited one of the
boys from Eton College, which is near Windsor, to spend a day with him
at the castle. This boy, though the son of a nobleman, was untitled, I
believe, but perhaps all the more sturdy and manly for that, and not to
be put upon, even by a prince.
All went well for a time, but at last, the prince took offence at some
bit of sport, and did not restrain his temper or his tongue. The
Etonian resented the insult, I am sorry to say, in the usual school-boy
fashion, by a resort to blows; and being stronger than the prince, soon
got the advantage of him. The attendants raised an alarm, and Prince
Albert himself came to the field of battle. The Etonian, having let
the little prince up, stood bravely facing his royal father.
"Why, what is the matter, boys?" asked Prince Albert.
"The matter is, your royal highness, that I have beaten your son. It
was because he insulted me, and I won't stand an insult from any boy."
The prince, after inquiring into the matter, reproved young Albert; and
being a soldier, did not blame the Eton boy for his want of peace
principles, as you or I would doubtless have done.
There are many stories in English history connected with Windsor
Castle, but none I think so pretty as that of
KING JAMES OF SCOTLAND AND THE LADY JANE BEAUFORT.
About four hundred and fifty years ago, when Henry IV. was king of
England, King Robert III., of Scotland, put his son James, the heir to
his throne, a boy of nine years old, on board ship, to send him to
France, to be educated. But the vessel was taken by some English
cruisers, and the little prince carried captive to King Henry, who
treacherously imprisoned him at Windsor Castle.
King Robert was a very loving father, and when the news of this capture
was brought to him, as he sat at supper in his palace at Rothesay, he
was so overcome with grief that he fainted and seemed about to die.
His attendants carried him to his chamber and laid him on his bed,
which he never left again; for when he came out of his swoon, he hid
his face in the pillow, and wept, and wept, refusing to be
comforted,—sending all his food away untasted, and scarcely ever
speaking, except to repeat the name of his son, over and over again, in
a way to break one's heart. So he took on for three days and nights,
and then died.
But the prince, now King James, was not so badly off as he might have
been. Though a prisoner, he was not confined in a gloomy dungeon, but
had handsome and comfortable apartments, in a tower which overlooked a
beautiful garden, where trees waved, and birds sang, and fountains
sparkled, and flowers sent up sweet perfumes to his windows. The sun
shone and the stars looked in upon him; and when a prisoner can see the
sun and the stars, he cannot feel that God has quite forgotten him, or
the angels ceased to watch over him. He was not left alone, or
deprived of employments and amusements. King Henry commanded that he
should have a right princely education. He had masters who taught him
history, grammar, oratory, music, sword-exercise, jousting, singing,
and dancing. He was handsome, graceful, and clever, but always most
celebrated for his poetical talent. As he grew to manhood, he became
one of the noblest poets of his day, and even now his verses, though
quaint and old-fashioned, are very sweet, pure, and pleasant to read.
One fresh May morning, when James had been a captive in Windsor Castle
nearly eighteen years, as he was looking down from his window, he saw a
beautiful young lady walking in the garden. She was dressed all in
white; a net of pearls and sapphires confined her golden hair, and a
rich chain of gold was about her delicate throat. By her side sported
a pretty little Italian greyhound, with a string of tinkling silver
bells around his neck.
As she moved among the flowers, the violet looked up into her eyes, and
thought their tender blue was her own reflection. The rose said to
herself, "What a rich bloom I must have, if even my shadow makes her
cheeks so red!" The lily had similar thoughts about her neck; while
the golden laburnum thought it and the sunbeams had been the making of
This lovely dame was the Lady Jane Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of
Somerset. Of course, King James, having little else to do, fell in
love with her without delay, and in a very short time told her so, by
means of tender rhymes, which he sent fluttering down into her path.
The Lady Jane was charmed with his verses, and found it easy to go from
admiring the poetry into loving the poet. To be frank, and tell him
so, she wrote a little billet, and tied it under the wing of a white
dove, directing him to carry it straight to the captive's window,—and
he did so. But if he had suspected what was to have come of it, I
don't believe he would have gone; for it was little rest the poor bird
got after that, between the two lovers, who kept him flying back and
forth a dozen times a day with their fond messages under his wing.
At last, King Henry got wind of this romantic affair, and, instead of
being angry; he was very glad, for he wanted King James to have an
English wife. So he took him from prison, gave him Lady Jane in
marriage, and restored him to his throne.
The poet-king and his noble queen were very kindly received in
Scotland, and lived for some time very happily and peacefully, always
dearly loving one another. But James found the kingdom in great
confusion from misgovernment, and the common people very much
oppressed. He bravely set himself to reform matters, trying to relieve
and protect the poor, and restrain and humble the rich and powerful.
His most difficult labor was to lessen the power of the great nobles,
who were in fact almost kings themselves, on their own estates, and
fought against each other, and even against the king, upon the
slightest provocation, and often without any. They rebelled against
this as being a spiteful action, and not, as it really was, a noble,
kingly effort to benefit the whole kingdom. They took further
offence at the levying of some taxes for the support of the throne and
to carry on the government. The people being poor, and not used to
paying such taxes, were easily led to believe that it was King James's
avarice, and not the necessities of the government, which caused them
to be exacted. So, although he was so wise and good, and had the
welfare of his people so much at heart, he came to be looked upon as
unjust and tyrannical, by both the nobles and the common people; and
this led to a conspiracy to bring about his death.
The leader in this conspiracy was one Sir Robert Graham, a bold,
ambitious man, who was greatly embittered by having suffered an
imprisonment at the command of the King. He also enticed into the plot
the old Earl of Athole, by promising that his son, Sir Robert Stewart,
should be made king in James's place. Many others joined the plot,
upon various grounds, bringing with them their followers, to whom they
pretended that their object was to carry off a lady from the court.
Graham went off into the far Highlands, to complete his plan, and from
thence he formally recalled his allegiance to the king, bidding him
defiance, and threatening to put him to death with his own hand. In
reply to this, King James set a price upon the head of Graham, to be
paid to any one who should capture and deliver him up to justice; but
he managed to keep himself safely concealed in the mountains.
For the Christmas following this, the poor, doomed king had appointed a
feast to be held at Perth. As he was about to cross a ferry on his way
to attend this feast, he was stopped by a Highland woman, who professed
to be a prophetess. She called out to him in a loud voice, "My lord,
the king, if you pass this water, you will never return alive." The
king had read in some book of prophecy, that a king would be killed in
Scotland during that year, and was much struck by this speech of the
Better would it have been for both himself and Scotland had he given
heed to this warning, which the old woman doubtless had better
authority than her claim to prophecy for making; but he turned
jestingly to a knight of the court, to whom he had given the title of
"the King of Love," saying, "Sir Alexander, there is a prophecy that a
king shall be killed in Scotland this year; now this must mean either
you or me, since we are the only kings in Scotland." Several other
things occurred which, if attended to, might have saved the king; but
they were all suffered to pass unheeded.
When the king arrived at Perth, there being no castle or palace
convenient, he selected for his residence an abbey of Black Friars,
which made it necessary, unfortunately, to distribute his guards among
the citizens, and thus make comparatively easy the execution of the
design of the conspirators.
On the night of the 20th of February, 1437, after some of the
conspirators, selected for that purpose, had knocked to pieces the
locks of the doors of the king's apartment, carried away the bars which
fastened the gates, and provided planks with which the ditch
surrounding the monastery was to be crossed, Sir Robert Graham left his
hiding-place in the mountains and entered the convent gardens, with
about three hundred men.
The king had spent the evening with the ladies and gentlemen of the
court, in singing, dancing, playing chess, and reading romances aloud.
All the court had retired, and James was standing before the fire, in
night-gown and slippers, talking with the queen and her ladies, when
the same Highland prophetess that had warned him at the ferry, begged
to speak with him, but was refused, because it was so late.
Suddenly there was heard without the clash of men in armor, and the
glare of torches was seen in the gardens. The king at once thought of
Sir Robert Graham and his threat, and called to the ladies who were
still in the room to keep the doors fast, so as to give him time to
make his escape. After vainly trying to break the bars of the windows,
he suddenly remembered that there was a vault running beneath the
apartment, which was used as a common sewer; whereupon he seized the
tongs, raised a plank in the floor, and let himself down. This vault
had formerly led out into the court of the convent; but, most
unfortunately, he had only a few days before ordered this opening to be
walled up, because, when playing ball, the ball had several times
rolled into it.
In the mean time, the conspirators were hunting for him from room to
room, and at last they reached the one beneath which he was hidden.
The queen and her ladies kept the door shut as long as they could, but
you will remember that the cowardly conspirators had broken the locks
and carried off the bars; and this brings us to one of the most devoted
and heroic acts in Scottish history. Catherine Douglas, one of the
noblest (both by rank and nature) and loveliest of the queen's ladies,
when she found that the bar was gone, with that high spirit which has
made her race wellnigh the most famous of Scotland, thrust her
beautiful, naked arm through the staples, in the place of the bar, and
thus kept the door closed till her arm was crushed and broken by the
pressure of the brutal traitors on the other side. When this heroic
defence was overcome, they burst headlong into the room, with swords
and daggers drawn, beating down and trampling on the brave ladies who
did their best to keep them back. One of them was in the act of
killing the queen, but a son of Graham prevented it, by exclaiming,
"What would you do with the queen? She is but a woman! Let us seek
After a careful, but unsuccessful search, they went away to look in
other parts of the building. The king having heard their departure,
and being very cold and uncomfortable, asked the ladies to help him out
of the vault. But some of the conspirators had remembered this vault,
and just at this moment they returned to search it. They tore up the
plank, and there stood the poor, doomed king in his night-gown, and
entirely unarmed; at which, one of them said, "Sirs, I have found the
bride for whom we have been seeking all night."
First, two brothers, named Hall, jumped into the vault, with drawn
daggers; but the king was a very powerful and active man, and he at
once threw them both down, and was trying to get a dagger from them,
when Graham himself leaped down. Then James, finding that defence was
useless, asked him for mercy, and for a little time to confess his
sins. But Graham replied, "Thou never hadst mercy on any one,
therefore thou shall receive no mercy; and thy confessor shall be only
this good sword." Whereupon he ran the king through the body. Then,
possibly overcome with remorse, or fearing the consequences of the
deed, he was for leaving the king to the chances of life and death; but
the others fiercely called out that if he did not kill the king, he
himself should die. At this, he and the two Halls dispatched the poor
monarch with their daggers. After his death, sixteen wounds were found
upon his breast alone.
And this was the end of the great and good James I. of Scotland, who,
king though he was, died a martyr for the rights of the people.
The Journal from England to Ireland.
THE FISHERMAN'S RETURN.
On a bright morning, early in August, I left London, with my dear
friends, Mr. and Mrs. B., for a visit to Ireland, by the way of Wales
and Holyhead. The first remarkable place we came to was the town of
Chester, which stands just outside the Principality of Wales, and is so
very ancient that antiquarians, who are often rather quarrelsome old
gentlemen, have had many a hot dispute about its founder. Some say it
was Leon Gaur, "a mighty strong giant," who first built caves and
dungeons here, in which he confined all the poor stragglers he could
catch, and fatted them for his table. Others affirm that it was old
King Lear, whom you will sometime read about in Shakspeare, as being
afflicted with a very testy temper and two wicked daughters, who were
quite too sharp for him.
When the Romans had possession of Great Britain, they made Chester an
important military station, under the name of Dova. There are many
Roman remains shown here, to this day. Afterwards some of the Saxon
kings held their court here. It is related that the proud Edgar once
took a grand pleasure trip on the Dee, when his boat was rowed by eight
Under the Normans, the town grew fast in strength and importance, and,
at last, took the name of Chester. Lupus, the first Earl of Chester,
built a castle, rebuilt the walls, and made it the head-quarters of an
army, maintained on the frontiers, to keep down the Welsh. That brave,
half savage people kept attacking the town and setting fire to the
suburbs; but were always beaten back with great slaughter and left so
many of their dead behind them, that the cold-blooded English actually
made a wall of Welshmen's skulls. So, in years after, when the young
Welsh soldiers undertook to take the town; they were obliged, it may be
said, to climb up over their fathers' and grandfathers' heads.
Chester is now a very interesting place, full of quaint, old-fashioned
houses, with high pointed roofs and carved gables turned toward the
streets, which are wide and straight. The walls remain nearly
perfect—not preserved for defence, but as relics of the old fighting
The Dee is a strange looking river when the tide is low, for the sands
stretch far out on each side. Mr. Kingsley, an English author, in a
beautiful song, tells a sad story of a poor girl, who was sent one
evening to call the cattle home across these wide sands. A blinding
mist came up and the tide came in, but Mary never came home—only as
she floated ashore the next morning, drowned.
A little way off the railway track, lies Maes Garmon, the scene of a
great victory gained by the Britons over the Scots and Picts, in 429.
It was in the season of Lent;—the Britons had assembled in great
numbers, in a valley amid the mountains, to listen to the preaching of
St. Germanus and Bishop Lupus. These holy men preached with such
extraordinary power, that thousands of rude warriors came forward,
vociferously professing religion, and eager to be baptized. The enemy,
hearing of this by their scouts, thought that here would be a fine
opportunity to take them by surprise, and hastened to the spot to make
the attack. But St. Germanus somehow got wind of their coming, and,
taking the pick of the warriors; conducted them to a pass through which
the heathen army must enter the valley. As soon as the enemy appeared,
the Saint, lifting the rood in his hands, shouted three times at the
top of his voice, "Hallelujah!" All his warriors repeated the cry, and
the mountains echoed and reëchoed it, till their caves and forests
seemed to be alive with lurking Britons. The bloody-minded heathens
were so astonished and frightened by this strange Christian uproar,
that they flung down their aims and ran for their lives! The Britons,
instead of going on with their Hallelujahs, as I think they should have
done, took after them with great fury—slew thousands and drove
thousands into the river, where they were drowned. It was a queer way
to win a battle that—scaring the enemy out of their wits by shouting
holy words at them. I doubt whether the plan would succeed as well in
our enlightened Christian times.
The next object of interest is Flint Castle, to which King Richard II.
was carried as a prisoner, and where he met the banished Bolingbroke,
who was soon to step into his royal shoes and dub himself King Henry IV.
Next was the town of Holywell—so called for the famous, and, it is
said, miraculous well of St. Winifred, which it contains. If you
inquire for this, you are conducted to a beautiful Gothic building,
erected by the good Margaret, Countess of Richmond. Within this
edifice is a large bath; and in and out of this, the maimed, palsied,
and rheumatic, are constantly hobbling, crawling, or being carried.
Over head, fixed in the roof, are hosts of old canes and crutches,
placed there by cripples who say they have been cured by the waters.
Doubtless this spring has medicinal properties, like many in our own
country, and very likely many a poor creature is cured by simply
bathing repeatedly in pure cold water—a treatment tried here for the
first time in all their lives.
But who was St. Winifred?
All I know of her I get from a Roman Catholic legend, which I, being a
Protestant, and because it seems to me absurd, cannot credit; but which
many good, simple-hearted people find no difficulty in
believing—especially such as have had a lame leg cured by the well,
and have hung up a crutch in the shrine.
There was once, (says the legend,) a great lord, whose name was
Thewith, and a noble lady, whose name was Wenlo, and they had one only
daughter, whose name was Winifred. Now Winifred grew up to be a
marvellously beautiful maiden, and her hand was sought in marriage by
lords and princes far and near. But strangely enough, she would have
nothing to say to any of them, and seemed to care nothing for the pomps
and pleasures of the world. She was pious and charitable, and loved
better to nurse and pray with the sick than to wear fine dresses, or
dance with handsome young gentlemen. Perhaps she had visions, in which
she saw and heard all the palsied old men and women, and all the
miserable cripples that were, or ever would be in the world, shaking
their heads and thumping with their crutches at her. At any rate, she
resolved to live a single, devout, and charitable life, and for that
purpose, placed herself under the care and instruction of her uncle,
Breno, a very holy priest.
But it happened that Prince Caradoc, the son of King Alen—who he was
I don't know—saw her, and instantly fell desperately in love with her,
and in the authoritative way which princes have, asked her to be his
wife. Winifred said "no" very decidedly, and then he undertook to
carry her off by force. But she escaped, and ran down the hill toward
her uncle's cell. Caradoc followed, foaming with rage, and with his
drawn sword in his hand. She ran very fast, but he soon overtook her,
and with one blow of his sword cut off her head! The body dropped on
the spot, but the head bounded forward and fell at the feet of Father
Breno, who stood at the door of his cell. The good priest caught it
up, and running to the body, put it on again—being very careful not to
have it twisted toward one shoulder, or what would have been more
awkward still, facing backward.
Immediately Winifred arose, as well as ever, only a little weak from
loss of blood—and with nothing to remember her decapitation by, but a
red line around her neck, which looked like a small string of coral
beads, and was rather pretty than otherwise.
From that day it was settled that Winifred was a Saint, for on the spot
where her head had rested, there bubbled up a spring of pure water, for
the healing of the sick—particularly the crippled and rheumatic.
Believers say that, in the Saint's time, the waters were more powerful
than they are now. Then, after one dip, the palsied stopped shaking,
the paralytic began talking, and cripples flung away their crutches
while the maimed had only to thrust the stumps of arms and legs into
the spring, to have beautiful new hands and feet sprout out before
The part of North Wales through which we passed, is not so mountainous
and picturesque as some other portions of the Principality; but it is
very beautiful, even as seen in flying glimpses, from the railway
carriage. We were very sorry that we could not stop to explore the
lovely vales of Clwyd and Llangollen, and visit the little city of St.
Asaph, where Mrs. Hemans once resided.
I longed to go and pay my respects to some of those grand, old
mountains, that stood afar off, in their stern majesty, clothed with
purple-blossomed heather, flecked with golden sunshine and crowned with
gorgeous clouds, or silvery mists. The dark-waving foliage of many a
shadowy glen and rocky gorge seemed beckoning to us to search into
their lovely, lonely places, and many a glad rill and wild cascade
seemed to call to us to come and look upon its unsunned beauty. But
the swift locomotive remorselessly whirled us away from glen and gorge,
and its rush and clang soon drowned those pleasant mountain voices of
dancing rivulet and laughing waterfall.
We hardly caught a breath of the free, fresh air of the hills, in
exchange for the long, brown train of heavy, hot smoke we left behind
us;—in truth, puffing and whirling in and out of the Principality, as
we did, I am almost ashamed to count Wales as one of the countries I
In England, no town, however large it may be, is called a city, unless
it has a Bishop and a Cathedral, as the capital of an Episcopal See.
Thus the great seaport of Liverpool is only a town, while St. Asaph,
with but one street and eight hundred inhabitants, is a city.
The first Bishop of St. Asaph was St. Kentigern, a famous monk and
monk-maker, and founder of monasteries. He had a disciple by the name
of Asaph, whom he brought up to be a Saint.
Legends say that one day the good Bishop got severely chilled by
remaining in his bath too long, and young Asaph, not having any shovel
or tongs, took up some live coals in his hands, and carried them to his
master, without burning himself at all. People said this was a very
fair beginning for a Saint, and as he continued to improve, the church
canonized him when he died, and the city and diocese were named for him.
Near St. Asaph is Rhyddlan Castle—the place where Edward I. outwitted
the Welsh nobles, by proposing that they should be ruled by a native
Prince, whose character nobody could say a word against. All joyfully
agreed, and then he presented to them his infant son, born at Carnarvon
Castle, and whom he had made Prince of Wales.
At Conway, we passed close by a grand old castle, still very strong and
imposing, though it was built by Edward I. Here we crossed the Tubular
Bridge—a great curiosity—but far from equal to the Britannia Bridge,
across the Menai Straits, which lie between Wales and the Island of
Anglesea. I cannot describe this to you—but it is one of the most
wonderful works in all the world.
Holyhead is a small town, on an island of the same name—divided by a
narrow strait from the west coast of Anglesea. Here we took a steamer
to cross the Irish channel.
We made the trip in about four hours; but they seemed to me no less
than twelve—for I was mortally sick. I thought at one time that I was
surely dying. I did not care much; people never do when they are
sea-sick; still, I thought I should prefer a more romantic sort of a
death, and I was heartily glad when I found myself on shore, at
Kingstown, seven miles below Dublin, where we took the railway for that
city. We arrived late at night, and drove to our hotel on a regular
Irish jaunting car. This is a very funny looking vehicle—low and
broad, with two wheels, concealed by the seats, which run lengthwise.
There is another kind, called the inside car. An Irishman once
explained the difference to an English traveller, in this way: "An
outside car, yer honor, has the wheels inside, and an inside car has
the wheels outside."
All Irish carmen drive furiously, and the cars go jumping and hopping
along, and spinning round the corners, at such a rate that one feels
rather nervous at first, and has no little difficulty in keeping on.
But like many other things, it's easy enough, when you get used to it.
We found Gresham's Hotel a very comfortable, pleasant place, and we
soon felt at home, though we saw none but Irish faces, and heard only
the Irish brogue around us; for those faces were smiling and cordial,
and that rich, musical brogue seemed bubbling up from kindly hearts.
I have not told you much about Wales in this chapter, because rushing
through the country, as I did, I really saw very little of it. The
people seemed quiet, cleanly, and industrious; but they did not look,
or dress at all like the English. I noticed that many of the women
seemed rather masculine in their tastes—wearing hats and coats like
the men, and that the children were dressed in an odd old-fashioned
way, and looked serious, shrewd, and mature—almost as though they were
a race of dwarfs. The Welsh language had to me a strange, harsh,
barbaric sound, and when listening to it, I realized for the first time
since I had left America, that I was indeed far away from home. I do
not doubt, however, but that if I had seen more of the Welsh, I should
have liked them heartily, for they are said to be very kindly, honest,
and hospitable. They are naturally brave and sturdy lovers of liberty.
In old times the English had a hard and tedious struggle with them,
before they could subdue them. Often, when they thought they had the
whole rude nation under their hands, or rather under their feet, the
rebellious spirit would break out again in a new spot, fiercer and
hotter than ever, and all the work had to be done over again.
Many of the stories in Welsh history are very grand and heroic, but
they are also very terrible; and I think you will find more to your
taste a simple little story of domestic life, which I have picked up
somewhere, and can assure you is as true as a great deal we find in
THE FISHERMAN'S RETURN.
A good many years ago, somewhere on the southwestern coast of Wales,
there lived an honest fisherman, by the name of John Jenkins. The
Jenkinses are a very numerous and respectable family in Wales, and so
are the Joneses.
Mrs. Jenkins was a Jones, but she was not half so proud of her high and
vast family connections, as she was of her industrious, hardy husband,
and her pretty little daughter, Fanny.
When Fanny was a fortnight-old baby, the least, puny, little, pink
creature, wrapped in flannel, there came up a dreadful storm, and a
small London packet was wrecked on the coast, near her father's
cottage. The passengers were all lost except a little boy, about three
years of age, whom John Jenkins saved at the risk of his life. Two of
the crew escaped, but they could tell nothing of the child more than
that he came from Ireland, and was bound for London, with his nurse.
The boy could give no clear account of himself, but he wore round his
neck a gold locket, with arms engraved on it, and containing a lock of
black hair, twined with small pearls. So the fisherman concluded that
he must belong to some great family; and when they asked what was his
name, they expected to hear some prodigious great title, such as earl,
or marquis; but when he proudly answered, "Brian O'Neill," they could
make nothing of it—little knowing, simple folks as they were, that the
O'Neills were once kings and princes in Ireland. But that was in the
old, old time; great changes have taken place since, and there are a
few O'Neills quite in common life nowadays.
John Jenkins did all that lay in his power to find the parents and home
of the child—but he was poor and ignorant—the lord of the manor was a
little boy, at school, and the steward could not or would not help him;
so, his efforts all proving useless, he adopted Brian, and brought him
up as his son, giving him a tolerably good education, and training him
for his own honest calling.
O'Neill grew into a fine, hearty, brave lad,—not at all conceited or
haughty in his ways, though he was proud, he scarcely knew why, of his
Irish name,—always treasured up his locket of gold, and often declared
that he could remember the head from which that hair was cut—his
mother's—and how he had seen it shut away under the coffin-lid, the
very day that his nurse set out with him for London. He said, too,
that he could remember his home; a grand old castle, near a lake, and a
great park, and a little cottage, where his foster-mother lived, and
his foster-father, a terrible man, who used to get drunk and break
things; and how once, when running away from him, he fell and cut his
head. Here Brian always lifted the hair off his forehead, and, sure
enough, there was a scar quite plain to be seen.
Fanny Jenkins grew up into a good and beautiful girl, and it seemed
very natural that she and young O'Neill should love one another, and
when they married and set up for themselves nobody objected. Indeed,
so much were they beloved, that all who were able, helped them, and
those who had nothing to give, wished them well and smiled on their
courageous love, and so did them more good than they thought.
The lord of the manor built them a beautiful cottage by the sea, with
long narrow windows and turrets, almost like a castle; and the Lord of
lords blessed them and prospered them, and in due time gave them a
little son, whom they called Brian Patrick Jenkins Jones O'Neill, and
who was just the brightest, best, and most beautiful baby ever
beheld,—at least Fanny thought so, and surely mothers are the best
judges of babies.
They lived a very happy life, that humble little family. Every morning
early the young fisherman went out in his pretty boat, the "Fanny
Jenkins," for his day's toil and adventure, leaving his cheerful little
wife at her work—spinning, sewing, or caring for the child; and every
night, when he returned tired and hungry, as fishermen often are, and
found a tidy home, a smiling wife, a crowing baby and a hearty meal
awaiting him, he thought and said, that he was just the happiest
O'Neill in all the world.
In tempestuous weather Fanny suffered a great deal from anxiety for her
brave husband, who would always put out to sea, unless the storm was
very serious indeed.
At length, one lowering day in September, when he was far out of sight
of home, a sudden squall came up, which deepened into a tempest as the
day wore on.
With anxious heart and tearful eyes poor Fanny watched through the
gloomy sunset, for his coming,—half longing, half fearing to see his
frail vessel driven toward the land on such an angry sea.
But the day and night passed, and he did not come. The next four or
five days were dark and stormy; there were several wrecks upon the
coast, and Brian was given up for lost by all but his wife. She still
kept up a good heart and would not despair.
At last the storm ceased, the sea grew smooth, the skies smiled, and
all looked cheerful again, save where along the wild shore fragments of
wrecks came drifting in, and the people were burying the drowned.
At the close of a beautiful day, a week from the time that Brian
O'Neill left his home, his wife sat in front of the cottage, with her
baby asleep upon her lap. Her brave heart was failing her now; she
grew tired of her sad, vain gazing out toward the west, and bowing her
head on her hands, wept till the tears trickled through her fingers and
dropped on the sleeping face before her.
So she sat a long time, weeping and praying, and calling her babe a
"poor fatherless boy," when suddenly, the child smiled out of sleep and
started up, calling "Papa!" Fanny sprung to her feet, almost hoping
that her Brian was by her side. No, he was not there; but, oh, joy! a
little way out to sea, between her and the sunset glory, came a dear
familiar object—her aquatic namesake—the boat! Swiftly it came
o'er the bright waters, joyfully dancing toward its home! Soon a
beloved form was seen waving a shining sailor's hat; soon a beloved
voice was heard calling her name, and soon, though it seemed an age to
her, Brian O'Neill, with his oars and nets over his shoulder, as though
he had only been absent for a day's fishing, sprang up the steps before
the cottage and clasped his wife and child to his honest heart! Fanny
laughed and wept and thanked God, the baby crowed and pulled his
father's whiskers, and all were happier than I can tell.
In the evening, when his parents and the neighbors were in, to rejoice
over his return, Brian told the story of his adventures.
When that dreadful storm came up, he would have been lost, had he not
been near a large vessel which took up both him and his boat. This
ship was bound to a northern Irish port, and as the storm continued, he
was obliged to make the whole voyage. At B——, while he was waiting
for fair weather, he looked about him a little, to see the country; and
now comes the wonderful, romantic part of his story. On visiting an
old and somewhat dilapidated castle, in the neighborhood of the town,
he instantly recognized it as the home of his infancy; and walking
straight through the park, he found the cottage of his foster-mother
and the dear old woman herself—who didn't believe in him at first,
because he was a great weather-beaten sailor, instead of the fair baby
she had nursed. But when Brian lifted his hair and showed the scar,
she was convinced and rejoiced exceedingly. Then she told him how his
father, Sir Patrick O'Neill died when he was a mere baby, and left him
to the guardianship of an uncle who proved to be a bad man. So when
Lady O'Neill was dying, she made her nurse promise to take the child to
her sister, in London, to have him brought up away from that wicked
man. When the news came of the wreck of the "Erin," and the loss of
all on board, this uncle went into mourning for six months—but his
tenants were always in mourning, for he proved a very hard landlord.
Brian laid no claim then to his title and estate, but as soon as the
sea was calm, went home to ask his wife's advice, like a sensible man
and a good husband.
He and Fanny had often said that they did not envy the rich and great;
but now, considering that the false baronet was so bad a man, and his
tenantry so oppressed, they really thought it their duty to make an
effort for rank and fortune.
Well, after a long time, Brian got his rights, by the help of a great
lawyer, who took half the property in payment for his services. So he
became Sir Brian O'Neill, the master of a dreary old castle and no end
of bogs and potatoe patches, and Fanny became "Her Leddyship, God bless
her!" as the peasants used to say.
For a long time they found it rather awkward and tiresome to be grand
and idle, like other great folks; so much so, that for several years
they used to go over to Wales in the fishing season, and live in the
cottage by the sea, and Sir Brian would go out fishing every day, and
Lady Fanny would spin and sew and take care of the baby, just in the
old way. Living thus, they were happiest—but they were always happy
and good—they lived to be very old, and died on the same day and were
buried in the same grave.
Their great great-grandson, Sir Algernon O'Neill, is fond of the water,
too; but he takes to it in a splendid yacht, called the "Fanny
Ellsler," with his delicate wife, the Lady Ginevra, who abhors the sea,
and gets dreadfully sick always, but will take cruises, because the
sea air is good for the little O'Neills, she says,—because Queen
Victoria has set the fashion, some people say.
It is not certainly know who was the founder of Dublin, or Dubhlywn,
as the name was written formerly. Some learned historians say it was
Avellanus, one of the Danish Vikings, an adventurous sort of monarchs
of old times, very much given to a seafaring life, and piratical
depredations. If Avellanus was the founder—and I don't dispute that
he was—he showed great taste and wisdom in selecting the site of a
city. It has a beautiful harbor; the River Liffey flows through it, a
picturesque country lies around it, and in sight are romantic valleys
and dark gorges and noble hills, which don't stop far short of real
Dublin remained under the rule of the Danish Sea-kings, and their
descendants, till they were conquered by the English, in the year 1170.
They were, however, put down for a time in the year 1014, by a league
of native princes, led by the great king, Brien-Boro. It was during
this struggle that the famous battle of Clontarf was fought.
Brien-Boro was a model monarch—the King Alfred of Ireland. So
perfectly were the laws administered in his reign, that it was said a
fair damsel might travel alone, from one end of the Kingdom to the
other, with a gold ring on the top of a wand, without danger of being
robbed. I doubt very much, however, if any young lady ever performed
such a journey.
From the year 1173, when Henry II. received the submission of the Irish
princes, and the last Irish king, Roderic O'Connor, Ireland has
remained under the government of England, and though it has had several
bloody rebellions, it has never been really independent. The Irish
formerly had a parliament of their own, but toward the close of the
last century it was suppressed, and the union made complete.
The governors of Ireland have always been called viceroys, or
lord-lieutenants. Dublin Castle was built for their residence, but for
some time past it has been abandoned for "The Lodge," in Phoenix Park.
The Castle is a massive, gloomy-looking building, now principally
occupied by the military.
The Parliament House, now the Bank of Ireland, the Custom-House, and
Trinity College, are beautiful buildings; but I did not admire the
cathedrals and churches very much, after those of England. The church
of St. Anne is interesting, as containing the tomb of Felicia Hemans.
We drove about the town on a jaunting car, with a talkative driver,
seeing all the sights and listening to strange, wild legends. In the
pretty cemetery of Glasneven, we saw, through the grating of a vault,
the magnificent coffin which contains the body of Daniel O'Connell, the
great orator. We enjoyed most our drive in Phoenix Park, a noble
enclosure, filled with fine trees and shrubbery, flowers, birds, gentle
deer, and playful, brown-eyed fawns.
But if we liked the streets, buildings, and parka of Dublin, we liked
the people better. Very courteous, generous, and cordial we found
all those to whose hospitality we had been commended—and warm at my
heart is now, and ever will be, the dear memory of my good Dublin
A pleasant excursion from the city is to the Bay, which is considered
one of the most beautiful in the world; and to Howth Harbor, formerly
the landing-place of the Dublin packets, but now superseded by Kingston.
The first object which strikes one on approaching Dublin by sea, is the
famous Hill of Howth, which rises bold and high, on the northern coast
of the bay, and stands like the great guardian and champion of Ireland.
The Dublin people are as proud of this as the Neapolitans are of Mount
Vesuvius, which overlooks their noble bay of Naples. "Ah, sure ma'am,"
said an Irish sailor,—"it's as fine an ilivation, barrin' a few
thousand feet of height, as that same smokin', rumblin' ould cratur,
an' a dale betther behaved."
At Howth there are some very interesting Druidical remains to be seen,
a fine old castle and an abbey, in which repose many brave and famous
knights—the Tristrams and St. Lawrences, barons of Howth.
There is a curious and romantic legend of Howth Castle, which I will
In the time of Queen Elizabeth, there was a celebrated woman living in
the province of Connaught, Ireland, named Grana Uille, or Grace
O'Malley. She was the chieftainess of the O'Malley's of Clare Island,
and called herself a princess, but she was most famed as a female
pirate-captain, or vi-queen, as, perhaps, she would have preferred to
She lived in rude, stormy times, when the Irish were nearly as wild and
warlike as savages, and fierce feuds and bold robberies, on land and
sea, were every day affairs. Indeed, for a man to be a peaceful,
honest, sober citizen, was then no ways to his credit; then children
were taught by their quarrelsome parents, to fire up on the slightest
occasion, and fight for their rights,—to revenge all insults, and make
free with the property of their enemies; and little was the
Sunday-school teaching they had to the contrary; then when women became
leaders of lawless predatory bands, they were admired and wondered at;
but few thought of condemning them, or dared to scout at them.
Those must have been the days, or Ireland the country, of "woman's
rights," for throughout the warlike career of the great chieftainess,
nobody seems to have been much shocked, or to have thought that Miss
O'Malley was going out of her "proper sphere," and infringing on the
sacred rights of the nobler sex, in fighting and pirating; except it
may be those men who got the worst of it, in engagements with her.
Grace O'Malley was the daughter of a powerful chief, who, having no
heir, brought up his one little girl as though she were a son—teaching
her all sorts of manly and martial exercises. Instead of dolls and
pets, her childish playthings were pistols and daggers, which she soon
found very useful in scaring her attendants into instant obedience to
her whims; and instead of being allowed to play among the sands and
hunt shells on the wild seashore, she was taught to swim, to fish, to
row, and to shoot the shy water-fowl. Instead of taking her airings,
like a modern nobleman's little daughter, on a well-trained pony, or a
sober, sure-footed donkey, over smooth lawns, and through shady parks
and flowery lanes, she was accustomed to accompany her father and his
rough followers, mounted on one of the wild horses of the country, on
long mountain hunts—to dash through bog and briar, to ford swollen
streams, and leap wide, dark chasms.
Once, when Grace was but a child, while she was out on one of these
hunts, a young fawn that they were chasing, turned suddenly, and
singling her out from all the party, ran to her side, laid its head in
her lap, and lifted its large sorrowful eyes to her face, as though
asking for her protection. "Stand back!" cried she, to the
hunters,—"call off the dogs, and let no one harm her now,—she is
"Ah, well, comrades," said one of the men, "let us seek other game, and
leave the fawn to our little lady, for a pet."
"No, by the Rock of Cashel!" cried old Cormac O'Malley, "I will not
have my brave daughter made soft and silly, like other girls, by
tending pets. Draw your hunting-knife across her throat, Grace, while
you have her."
"That will I not, father, for she has trusted in me. I want no pets,
but whoever kills this fawn, must kill me first," she said, flinging
her arms around the poor trembling creature. She looked so fierce and
determined that the men cheered, and the old chief laughingly promised
her that the fawn should be allowed to escape unharmed. Grace
jealously watched the disappointed hunters and yelping hounds till the
swift-footed animal was out of sight, and then rode on with the rest.
Such was Grace O'Malley—stern and proud in temper, fearless and manly
in her habits, but now and then giving way to a kind and generous
impulse. When her father died, she assumed the command of his warlike
retainers, and the sternest and bravest of them were not ashamed to
acknowledge her authority. At first, she only fought in self-defence,
or in revenge for what she considered aggressions and insults, and
finally, for spoil and conquest, and for the habit and love of strife
and adventure. She was a tall, handsome woman, with dark, flashing
eyes, a clear, ringing voice, and a proud, soldier-like step. Her
dress was a singular mingling of the masculine and feminine fashions of
her half barbarous country; but it was picturesque and imposing; made
of the richest materials she could procure, and worn with an air of
majesty which not Queen Bess herself, in all her glory, could surpass.
But the proud Lady Grace professed to be a loyal subject of Elizabeth.
In an Irish rebellion, headed by the Earl of Tyrone, she sided with the
English government, and added immensely to her power and possessions,
by the victories she gained over the rebels. She did not deign to
receive a regular commission from the Queen, but fought in her own wild
way, on her own responsibility, at her own risk, and for her own
advantage. She took castle after castle, confiscated estate after
estate, claiming always the "lion's share" of the plunder.
When some of the ships of the great Spanish armada, sent against
England, were driven by a storm upon the Irish coast, she bore down
upon them with her armed galleys, and took several noble prizes. With
these ships, she obtained much magnificent dress, belonging to the
proud Castilian officers and their stately ladies—velvets and
brocades, stiff with woven jewels and broideries of gold, with which
she went bravely dressed for the rest of her life. And the Spanish
Dons and Donnas, what did they do, robbed of their splendid apparel?
Ah, they went where they did not need it any more—down, down into
still, dark ocean-caves, where they reposed on beds of silver sand,
with the long sea-weed wrapping itself about them.
But I am not getting on with that legend of Howth Castle.
In the height of the fame and power of Grace O'Malley, when her rude
bands were the terror of Connaught and the islands of that coast, and
her ships the scourge of the Irish seas, she resolved to pay a visit to
the court of Elizabeth. She went almost as a sovereign princess, and
was royally received and entertained; for the politic English Queen was
only too willing, I am afraid, to close her ears against stories of the
cruelty and lawlessness of so useful a subject.
The warlike Grace made a decided sensation at court. In her strange,
rich, half martial dress, and always wearing some sort of deadly
weapon, she strode about like a terrible giantess among the Queen's
laughing dames, awing them into momentary silence; and even the gay
wits, pert young poets, and pages, shrank abashed from her haughty,
"Gra' mercy!" whispered one, as she passed, "she hath daggers in her
eyes, as well as in her girdle."
"Ay, and pistols in her voice," said a saucy page, who served at the
Queen's table; "when she saith 'Sirrah!' I have ever a mind to drop
upon my knees and beg for my life."
But Grace O'Malley soon tired of the stately gayeties of the court.
She curled her scornful lip at the safe and easy way of hunting in the
royal parks—calling it "child's play." She laughed at their formal
balls and feasts; and when the Queen, especially to please her, led off
the court dance, the solemn, but graceful minuet, played the
harpsichord with her own royal hands, and sung madrigals, and read
Latin verses of her own composition, Grace only yawned, and said: "I
wonder your Majesty should throuble yourself with things of this sort
at all. Sure in Ireland, we have people to do the likes for us, and
save us the worriment."
Once, on the Queen having expressed some curiosity in regard to the
Irish national dances, Grace made sign to her harper, a wild-eyed,
white-haired, long-bearded old gentleman, who struck up a stirring
Celtic air, and instantly her warlike followers rushed into the midst
of the hall, and began dancing, in the strangest, maddest way
imaginable. Faster and louder played the harper, wilder and more
furiously they danced; they wheeled and leaped and shook their arms in
the air, and shouted fierce Celtic battle-cries, till all the court
ladies trembled, and not a few of the courtiers drew near the throne
for fear, and even the Queen had to thank her rouge for not looking
pale. However, it all ended like a modern Irish jig, in a harmless
"whoop!" and the fiery dancers quietly returned to their places about
their mistress. "That, your Majesty," said Grace, proudly, "is rale
"And by our faith, brave Lady Grace, we hope it may ever remain Irish
dancing. The fashion suits not our peaceful court," replied Elizabeth,
Grace O'Malley returned to Ireland loaded with princely gifts. It is
not recorded in history that Elizabeth ever returned her visit, though
at parting, Grace gave her Majesty a cordial invitation to come over to
Connaught and see some hunting and fighting that were no shams.
"The O'Malley," as Grace called herself, after the fashion of great
Irish chiefs, landed first at Howth, intending to pay the Earl a visit.
But it happened to be dinner time, and the castle gates were shut, as
they always were at that hour, by command of his lordship, who was a
high liver, and had a particular objection to being disturbed at his
meals. When Grace haughtily demanded admittance, the warder not having
a proper sense of the honor she was intending to do his master,
sturdily refused. This surly, inhospitable reception so enraged the
chieftainess, that she was quite ready to storm the castle, and slay
the fat Earl at his own dinner-table, with all his guests and
retainers. But she had not with her a sufficient force for this; so
was obliged to return to her ship, where she strode up and down the
deck in a terribly wrathful state, and made all ring again with her
threats and imprecations against the Earl, for the insult she had
received. Suddenly a gleam of malicious joy flashed over her dark
face. She commanded her men to land her again, and as soon as she
reached the shore, she rushed up to a cottage, where she remembered
that the nurse of the young lord, the Earl's little son, was living.
She caught the child from the woman's arms, telling her to tell her
master that she would take charge of his heir, and bring him up to
have better notions of hospitality and good manners than could be
learned at Howth Castle. Then she hurried back to her ship, with the
poor little lordling who seemed too frightened to cry, and hid his face
against her bosom, as though shrinking from the look of her dark, angry
eyes. Immediately she ordered all sails to be set, and sped away
toward Connaught. The nurse ran up to the castle with the news, but as
she could not be admitted till the Earl had dined and drunk his punch,
so much time was lost that, before his galley could be manned and sent
on, Lady Grace's sails were already glimmering down the horizon, and
the pursuit was hopeless.
Tristram St. Lawrence, the little lord, was a handsome child, between
two and three years old, with a look of brave, yet quiet dignity in his
face, which roused some kindly feeling in the sternest mariners and
warriors, on board the piratical ship, and even touched the heart of
the Lady Grace herself—that unsuspected womanly heart, which she had
kept sternly pressed down so many years under her breastplate of steel.
When she first went on board, she gave the boy to one of her women,
telling her to tend him and give him food and playthings. But when
they had been at sea some time, the woman came to her mistress, and
said that the child would neither eat, nor play; that he gave no heed
to any one, but stood apart, sullen and silent, looking back over the
sea toward Howth. Then Grace, whose quick anger had cooled down in the
fresh evening breeze, went to him, laid her hand on his shoulder and
spoke his name. He did not start, or answer, but kept his sad, wistful
eyes fixed on the distant towers of his father's castle. So she stood
over him, watching, and so he stood gazing, till the ship rounded a
point which hid the castle from sight. Then, for the first time, the
child burst into tears; but, flinging himself on the deck, he covered
his face with his hands, as though to conceal his crying, and seemed to
try to check the sobs which shook his little breast. So much proud and
delicate feeling in one so young—a mere baby—appealed strongly to the
Lady Grace. She felt her heart soften and yearn over the noble child,
in his grief and loneliness. She knelt at his side and slid her hand
under his head, and speaking his name more tenderly than before, she
told him not to be afraid, not to grieve any more, and he should go
home soon. She made her harsh, commanding voice sound so sweet and
motherly that the child turned a little, and clasped that large brown
hand, and held it against his lips and his eyes, while he wept and
sobbed, till his heavy heart grew lighter. When Grace drew away her
hand, and found it all wet with tears, she looked at it for a moment,
with a strange tenderness in her imperious eyes. It seemed to her that
those tears of a sinless child, were like the holy water of baptism,
and would purify that hand, so often stained with blood.
Great was the astonishment of the rough mariners and warriors when they
saw their stern mistress, whose name was used by mothers and nurses all
over the kingdom, as a bugbear, with which to frighten naughty
children, now comforting and caressing this stolen child; when she fed
him with her own hands, and then took him in her arms and hushed him to
sleep—singing to him a wild, childish ditty, which she remembered,
because her own long dead mother had sung it to her, when she also was
an innocent babe.
So kind and gentle did the bold vi-queen become, that before many days
the baby-lord became passionately attached to her, and ceased to ask
for his nurse and parents. And he, with all his endearing, infantile
ways, was such brave, grand little fellow—a child so after her own
heart—that Grace, who, in her pride and independence, had never envied
anybody any thing, not even Elizabeth her crown—envied the stout Earl
of Howth his only son and heir, with a bitter, hopeless, lonely envy.
It made her sometimes sad, but it made her better, and gentler, and
even almost humble; and the most harmless, if not the happiest part of
her life, was that in which she retained the child with her, at her
gloomy stronghold in Connaught.
At length, after sending several messengers and agents in vain, the
proud and indolent Earl of Howth came himself, with a large ransom, to
buy back his heir. Grace O'Malley refused the money with scorn, but
offered to restore the child to him, if he would solemnly promise that
the gates of Howth Castle should always be thrown wide open when the
family were at dinner. He readily promised this, and the hospitable
custom has remained in his noble house to this day.
The Earl could scarcely believe his eyes when, as he was about to
leave, he saw the stern chieftainess lift little Tristram in her arms
and embrace him tenderly, while the child clung to her and cried. "By
my soul," whispered his lordship to one of his train, "there's a
saisoning of the woman and the Christian about the heathen Amazon,
The Earl and the Lady Grace parted very good friends, and the baby-lord
went home loaded with presents. Oh, lonely and dreary seemed Grace
O'Malley's old castle when he was gone—doubly dark seemed its great
cavernous hall, without the sunshine of his joyous life—doubly
desolate the lady's shadowy chamber, in the windy old turret alone,
without the brightness of his winsome face and the music of his happy
The Lady Grace became sadder and more silent than before, but she
seemed less haughty and warlike. She still followed the chase as
fiercely as ever, but she gradually gave over fighting and plundering.
She began to notice kindly little children—to give more generously to
the poor, and was even suspected of praying sometimes, and of wearing a
concealed crucifix. Her men said that the baby-lord had spoiled their
fiery vi-queen, who led them no longer on marauding and piratical
expeditions; but her women blessed the saints that their mistress had
"softened down a bit, and made it more comfortable like to sarve her."
Once every year, Grace O'Malley went in state to Howth Castle, to see
her beloved little friend and carry him presents, till at last, just as
he was growing into manhood, a cruel sickness came upon her, and she
was unable to go. Yet she sent her galley and the presents, as usual,
to prove her faithful love.
Tristram, who had grown up a noble, generous youth, was grieved to hear
of the illness of this strange, proud woman, who had seemed to lay
aside her very nature to love him, and as he had always kept his old
childish affection for her, he resolved to go and see her once more.
So the galley, on its return, took the young Lord of Howth to the
O'Malley's Castle, in Connaught.
It was night when they arrived—a wild November night. The sky was
heavy with storm-clouds, and the sea was running high before a strong
wind, and breaking with a sound like thunder upon that bleak, black
shore. There was a great fire burning in the vast chimney of the old
hall, but in the farther corners, dark shadows were lurking, and the
stone walls were glistening with a chill dampness.
As the heavy hall door swung open, to admit the young lord and his
train, so much of the tempestuous night rushed in with them, that the
old armor and the banners hanging on the walls clanged and flapped, and
the fire roared fiercely and whirled out an angry cloud of smoke. In
the midst of the hall the Lady Grace was lying, surrounded by her
retainers, her warriors, and seamen, on a rude couch, piled with skins
of deer she had slain, but curtained with rich crimson drapery,
suspended from the ceiling by enormous antlers of elks. She was
dressed in her old way, except that she had no arms in her girdle, and
wore a rosary about her neck. By her side stood a venerable priest,
holding a crucifix and the Lady Grace was repeating after him very
devoutly a prayer for the dying; but when she saw Tristram, she forgot
both priest and prayer. She sprang up from her couch to meet him, with
a glad cry; and though she sank back at once, in weakness and mortal
pain, she was content, for her arms were about the neck of her darling.
She wiped the rain-drops from his face and pressed them out of his soft
brown hair, and gazed at him with a fierce joy of love in her great
dark eyes, which seemed larger and darker now, and shone with new
splendor, since her long black locks had turned to silvery white.
"It was noble and like thee, mavourneen deelish," she said, "to give
my dying eyes this last best blessing of life—beholding thee once
more. For this boon, I bestow upon thee the proudest legacy I have to
leave—this ring of most precious stones—the gift of my sister,
Elizabeth of England. With the ring, I would give thee my benison, but
that I fear the blessing of so sinful a woman might do thee harm. And
yet, as I have loved thee purely, as a mother might, the saints may
make it good. So, I will bless thee, jewel of my heart!"
The young lord knelt reverently to receive her blessing, and after she
had ceased to murmur the fervent words, he still kept his place, for
her large hand yet pressed heavily upon his head. After a moment's
silence, she recommenced speaking, but rapidly and wildly, for her mind
was wandering. It seemed to have gone back to the night when she had
taken the heir of Howth from his nurse. She began railing against the
old Earl's churlishness, and vowing she would teach him a lesson in
hospitality Then she called out in loud, stern tones to her mariners to
set sail for Connaught, and laughed fiercely over her prize. But soon
her mood changed; she began to stroke the head of Tristram, and comfort
him by gentle words and kind promises. She did not seem to perceive
that the firm, manly face now before her, was not the smooth little
face all wet with tears, she once caressed. The young lord was again a
baby-boy to her; and presently she drew him closer, and began singing
that same nursery song with which she used to soothe him to sleep.
It was a strange sight to see,—that dying woman, rocking herself back
and forth, and singing that wild lullaby, with her staring servitors
and grim old fighters grouped around her, hardly able to believe that
this was indeed their haughty mistress, their brave leader, their bold
At first, her voice rang out clear and full, but soon it faltered and
failed, and sunk lower and lower. And lower and lower sunk the head of
the old chieftainess, till her long white locks mingled with the dark
curls of the young lord; then her voice ceased altogether, and her
forehead lay heavy and cold against his, and he knew that Grace
O'Malley was dead.
THE LITTLE FIDDLER.
A mile or two south of Dublin is Donnybrook, the place where a famous
annual fair is held. We happened to be in the city at the time of
this, and one pleasant afternoon we drove out to see this great
gathering of the Irish peasantry. The fair-ground presented a busy,
gay, and curious scene. A large enclosed space was covered with booths
and tents—horse-markets—cattle-markets—buyers, sellers, and crowds
of spectators. There was almost every thing one could think of, for
sale; there were all sorts of games, and sports and shows going on;
there were Ethiopian concerts, plays, exhibitions of Punch and Judy,
little circuses and menageries, jugglers, tumblers, hurdy-gurdy
players, ballad singers, pipers, fiddlers, and dancers.
In nearly all the tents were gay young couples, dancing away as though
for dear life—dancing not alone with their feet, but with their arms,
their heads, and their merry, twinkling eyes. They were not all well
dressed, or even clean, but they seemed happy and healthy, and merrily
snapped their fingers at care. Everywhere there was laughter, and
chatter, and feasting, and frolic; but, I am glad to say, we saw little
tippling, and no quarrelling. It was very different in old times, when
the wild fun of Donnybrook Fair always ended in confusion, drunkenness,
and fighting. This happy change has been effected partly by the
Temperance reform, and partly by the establishment of a strong and
active government police.
Now for a short story of Donnybrook Fair.
THE LITTLE FIDDLER.
Away toward the hills of Wicklow, some five or six miles from Dublin,
there lived, not many years ago, a humble peasant family, by the name
of O'Shaughnessy. Michael O'Shaughnessy worked in the bog—that is, he
cut up the turf of the bogs, and piled it in stacks for drying—so
making the peat which is the common fuel of Ireland. He was very poor,
and with his wife and five children lived in a little low cabin, built
of mud and stones, and thatched with straw. There was but one small
window to this cabin, but then a good deal of light came down through a
hole in the roof, left for the smoke to go out of—for there was no
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy kept a few geese, and just before the door there was
a little muddy pond, where they enjoyed themselves, and on the edges of
which the pig wallowed, and dozed; except on stormy days, when he
preferred to go into the house. Now, among the poor Irish peasants,
the pig is a very important personage, and is treated with a great deal
of respect, for he usually pays the rent. With Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, it
was first herself and husband, then her son Teddy, then the Pig; then
the girls, Biddy and Peggy and Katy; and then, our hero, Larry
O'Sullivan. If she had known he was to be our hero, she might have put
him before the colleens, (girls,) but not, I think, before the pig.
Larry O'Sullivan was a poor orphan boy, the child of a sister of
Michael O'Shaughnessy, by whom he had been adopted, when his father and
mother died of the fever. Larry was very handsome, and what was
better, very good, but he led rather a hard life of it at his new home.
His uncle was kind, but he was a gentle, meek sort of a man—his wife
ruled every thing at the cabin, and she did not like Larry overmuch.
She thought it hard that he should not only eat the food and wear the
clothes that her own children needed, but should be more liked and
admired in the neighborhood than they. She doted on her own boy,
Teddy, and thought him not only good-looking, but wonderfully
clever—when, in fact, a plainer or more stupid young bog-trotter could
hardly be found in all Ireland. She was a strong-minded woman, and did
not make much account of her girls—and there she was not far
wrong—except in regard to the youngest, Katy, who was a pretty,
blue-eyed darling, as sweet and as bright as a May morning. Katy and
Larry were famous good friends—Larry was the pulse of Katy's heart,
and Katy was the light of Larry's eyes.
The children all went to school in the village, about a mile away.
Dermot Finnigen, the schoolmaster, was also a tailor, a barber, a bit
of a doctor, and a fiddler. He did very well at all his professions,
but he was greatest at fiddling.
From the first, Larry was the master's favorite—not because he was
particularly studious, but because he took to the fiddle as naturally,
Dermot said, "as a ducklin' takes to the wather, just." Indeed, the
boy showed such extraordinary talent for music, that, for the mere love
of it, Dermot gave him lessons, and often lent him an old fiddle to
Larry had also a very sweet voice, and in singing the wild ballads of
the country, could make people laugh or cry, just as it pleased him to
Larry coveted, more than any thing in the world, the old fiddle of his
master. Dermot was willing to sell it, as he had a better, but he said
he could not part with it even to his favorite pupil, for less than a
crown. Now Larry in all his life had never held so much money—so he
despaired of ever being rich enough to have a fiddle of his own.
One spring-time, when Larry was about twelve and Teddy fourteen, a
great trouble came upon the house of the O'Shaughnessys—the pig died!
One morning, soon after this sad event, as the two boys were on the way
to the little village, on some errand, a travelling carriage passed
them, driving rapidly. As it turned a corner, a small writing-case was
jolted off from one of the seats, and fell into the road. Larry picked
it up, and the two boys ran after the carriage, shouting to the driver
to stop. But he took them for beggars, and drove on the faster. So
they followed, for more than a mile, running at the top of their speed,
calling and holding up the writing-case.
At last, the carriage stopped, and the boys came up panting, and gave
the writing-case to a gentleman, who seemed very happy to get it, as he
said it contained valuable papers and money. He thanked the boys, and
gave them each a crown.
Larry's beautiful brown eyes danced with joy. "Arrah, Teddy," said he,
"sure this is a rale providince! I'll go immadiately an buy Dermot's
"Faix thin, Larry, ye'll make thrue the sayin'—'a fool and his money
be soon parted.' I'll go an' buy the Widdy Mullowny's pig, and fat
it for the Fair. It's meself that knows how to spind money in a
sinsible way. A feddle indade!"
Larry did not heed Teddy's sneers, but went directly and bought the
fiddle. He hugged it to his heart, and danced for joy all the way
home. But such a scolding as met him there! All blamed him for his
extravagance, but little Katy, who stole up to him and
whispered—"Niver mind the hard discoorse, Larry; ye've got the feddle
ony how, and it's mighty glad I am."
Larry was never allowed to play on his treasure within the cabin walls;
it was always "Away wid ye now, ye lazy feddling spalpeen!" But up
amid the gorge of the hill side, he used to sit, with Katy, on pleasant
summer evenings, playing so late that Katy would creep close to him,
fancying she saw the "little folk," or fairies, dancing in the
moonlight, to his delicious music.
In the mean time, "Phelim," the pig, throve finely, and grew to be, as
Mrs. O'Shaughnessy said, "an iligant cratur, intirely." Every meal,
after the family had eaten, the remains were thrown into the
potato-kettle, and "the sinsible baste claned it out beautifully," so
saving work for Mrs. O'Shaughnessy.
At last, the first day of the Fair arrived, and Teddy and Larry set out
for Donnybrook, with the pig,—Larry taking his fiddle.
Now Phelim had been a wonderful animal at home, and in his own
mud-puddle, but it was quite another thing at Donnybrook. There he was
eclipsed by pigs of a more choice breed, fatter, cleaner, and better
behaved. Teddy was sadly disappointed and mortified—he had supposed
that there would be a tremendous competition for that jewel of a pig.
"Suppose, Larry, ye strike up a tune on yer feddle, to call the
attintion of the folk, just," said he, at last.
Larry began very timidly, but in a few moments an admiring group was
collected around him. A purchaser was soon found for Phelim, and Teddy
having doubled his money, felt rich and grand, and cast rather
contemptuous looks on his thriftless cousin. But before the day was
over, Larry had made more money than two pigs like Phelim would
bring—by playing for the dancers, and singing ballads. Among those
who listened most attentively to him was a great musician from Dublin,
who saw at once that the lad had a remarkable genius for music. He
talked with him, and was much pleased with his intelligence and
modesty. Larry was glad to find it was the same gentleman whose
writing-case he had picked up a few months before.
Mr. R—— inquired where the boys lived, and the next day drove down to
Michael O'Shaughnessy's, and offered to take his nephew and educate him
for a musician.
So Larry went to town, to live with his kind benefactor. He was well
clothed and cared for and being good and grateful, studied hard to be a
finished musician. He never forgot his humble home, or felt above his
poor relations. Every Sunday he walked out to see them, and good old
Dermot, who was fond and proud of him, you may depend. His cousin Katy
grew still dearer to him as the years wore on, and he blessed the time
when he was rich enough to take her to Dublin, and put her to school.
It was said she was to be governess—but every body thought Larry would
have no other wife but Katy—and every body was right.
Larry has become a great musician—so great that even Mrs.
O'Shaughnessy admits that he "is not a bad fiddler."
From Dublin to Cork and Blarney Castle.
LITTLE NORAH AND THE BLARNEY STONE.
We left Dublin for Cork, on a fresh August morning—pleasant but
showery, like nearly all mornings in Ireland. The railway on which we
travelled, passes for the most part through a barren, boggy, desolate
country, with only here and there a tract of well cultivated land—past
low, miserable hovels of bog-working peasants, and wretched,
tumble-down little villages.
It was melancholy to see, all along our way, multitudes of
ruins—churches and castles and towers—battered, dismantled, and
ivy-grown—making it look more like a country of the dead than of the
living. In these crumbling remains, you read, almost as in a book, the
history of the ancient prosperity and power of Ireland, and of its
gradual destruction by wars, sieges, famine, and pestilence, till it
was brought to its present state of poverty and desolation.
We passed through, or in sight of, several famous old places, such as
Kildare, the Rock of Dunamase, Cashel, Kilmallock, and Buttevant.
Kildare, though now a small, dilapidated town, was once a large city,
renowned for its religious institutions. Its principal buildings were
churches, monasteries, and nunneries, and its chief productions
crucifixes, rosaries, and saints. The most celebrated among the
latter, was Saint Bridget, who received the veil from the hands of St
Patrick himself. She founded a nunnery here, which was most remarkable
for "the sacred fire," which the nuns who succeeded her kept burning
for hundreds of years—in remembrance of her, probably. From a little
story related of her, when she was a child, I should say she better
deserved to be called a saint than many of those so honored by the
The father of Bridget was a warlike Irish chieftain, but a loyal
subject of the King of Leinster, and on one occasion, that monarch
bestowed upon him a rich sword, with the hilt set with costly jewels.
Now the peasants on this chieftain's estates were very poor—indeed,
suffering absolute starvation, and there was no one to help them, for
their lord had enough to do to fight his enemies, without feeding his
humble friends; and his wife, Bridget's stepmother, was a hard, cruel
woman. Poor little Bridget gave all her pocket-money, and sold all her
little keepsakes, for their relief, and still they were starving. At
last, she went to the armory and took down her father's idle, show
sword, and had the rich jewels taken out of the hilt and sold. With
the money she bought food, and saved the lives of several most worthy
but unfortunate families. When her father came home, she told him what
she had done. History does not say, but we can easily guess, what he
did. And that was not the last of it; soon after, the King came to her
father's house to dine, and having heard about the theft, called the
child up to him, and asked her how she had dared to do such a wicked
thing as to rob her father and deface the gift of a great monarch.
Now, we republicans can have very little idea of what it was to be
called up and spoken to in this way. Kings, in old times, were far
more terrible than they are now, and Irish kings were the most terrible
of all. But brave little Bridget, though she was only nine years old,
was not frightened by his black frown and thunder-like voice. She
stood up straight, and looked calmly into his angry eyes, as she
replied: "I have but bestowed thy gift upon a greater and a mightier
king than thou art—even Christ, who hath said that whatsoever we give
unto his poor children is given unto him."
In the neighborhood of Kildare, is Inch Castle, about which Mrs. S. C.
Hall tells a touching legend. Inch Castle was once in the possession
of the MacKellys—a proud and powerful family. Ulick, one of the sons
of the old lord, a handsome, gay, daring young man, but wild and
heartless, paid court to a beautiful peasant girl, named Oona More. He
won her love, and then, being very fickle, cruelly forsook her. Oona
was very good and gentle—she forgave her false lover, and would not
allow her brothers to harm him, though he had broken her loving heart.
Suddenly the plague broke out in the neighborhood, and Ulick MacKelly
was one of the first struck. As was the custom, for fear of the
infection, he was removed at once from the castle to the fields, where
a shed was erected over him, and he was left alone with only a loaf of
bread and a pitcher of water by his side. When Oona heard of this, she
forgot his cruel desertion—forgot every thing but his suffering and
her love—and went to him, and tended him, and prayed beside him, day
and night, till he died. Even then, she did not leave him. She had
taken his deadly disease; on her breast came a bright red spot—the
sure sign of the plague. She was not sorry to see it there and the
next day, all her pain and trouble and sorrows were over. Then her
brother came to take her away. She still sat by the dead—her hood
fell over her face, so she seemed to be yet alive. Her brother laid
his hand on her shoulder, and said, gently—
"Oona, come home—the cow is lowing for you—the little lambs have no
one to care for them. Oona, dear, come home with me!"
Seeing that she did not stir, he lifted the hood, looked in her dead
face, and gave a bitter cry. He had no sister any more.
We passed through a portion of the "Bog of Allen," the largest of all
Irish bogs—said to be full 300,000 acres in extent. Some of my
readers may not know that the bog is not the primitive soil, but masses
of partly decomposed vegetable matter, which have accumulated during
many, many ages. In nearly all of the bogs, trees of various kinds
have been found imbedded—sometimes small buildings, arms, ornaments,
strange implements, and the bones of enormous animals, now extinct.
From oak dug up from bogs, many pretty black ornaments are now made.
This bog takes its name from the hill of Allen, or "Dun Almhain," on
which was the residence of the famous old Irish chief, Fin MacCual, or
Fingal, as he is called in Ossian's Poems. He was the king of the
Fians, the name of the ancient Irish tribes who lived by hunting. He
must have been handsome as well as heroic, for he was, it seems, a
wonderful favorite with the ladies. It is related that when he
concluded that it was time for him to take a wife, he was sadly puzzled
who to choose among his many fair admirers. Finally, he settled upon a
plan odd and funny enough, certainly. He sent out a proclamation to
all the beautiful young women of Ireland, calling upon them to assemble
on a certain day, at the foot of a mountain in Tipperary, now called
Slieve-na-man. When they had all come together, a host of rival
beauties in their best array, the great chief coolly announced to them
that he was about to ascend the mountain, and that from the summit, he
would make a signal to them, when they should all start fair, and
whoever should first reach the summit, should have the honor and
felicity of being Mrs. Fin MacCual. He then proceeded leisurely up the
mountain, seated himself on an old Druidical altar, at the very topmost
point, and graciously waved his hand to the expectant ladies below.
Off they started like eager young race-horses,—nothing daunted by the
hard course they had to run. Up, up, over rocks and streams, and
patches of black bog—up, up, through woods and briars and furze, they
leaped and climbed and scrambled—laughing and panting and scolding and
screaming! Ah, what sport it must have been for Fin, watching them
from above! Yet, though they all ran well, only one came in winner.
But that was the highest princess of the country—Graine, daughter of
Cormac, monarch of all Ireland. I hope she found her husband worth the
The great rock of Dunarnase stands alone in the midst of a plain, and
is crowned with the ruins of a castle—once a very strong fortress.
The rock of Cashel is seen from a great distance, and upon its summit
are the finest ruins in all Ireland. This noble height was a
stronghold of the ancient kings of the province of Munster. The first
Christian kings built churches, chapels, towers, and cathedrals here,
and the present ruins are mostly of religious edifices. This imposing
site is much venerated still, and a favorite oath among the Irish
peasantry is—"By the Rock of Cashel!"
Kilmallock, now all in ruins, was once a city of great beauty and
consideration. It was destroyed by the troops of Cromwell, the
desolater of Ireland. Kilmallock was the seat of the ancient and
powerful race of the Desmonds.
Buttevant is a poor little place, but containing the ruins of a fine
old abbey. Near Buttevant are the ruins of Kilcoleman Castle, at which
the great poet Spenser lived, and which was burned by the Irish in a
rebellion. The youngest child of the poet perished in the flames.
Cork is usually ranked as the second city of Ireland, and is a
handsome, pleasant, prosperous looking place. It has not many
interesting antiquities, but some of its modern buildings are very
fine. The country around Cork is exceedingly picturesque, and its
harbor is very beautiful. The city itself is about twelve miles from
the mouth of the harbor, upon the River Lee.
We had letters of introduction to a gentleman living at Monkstown,
about six miles below the city, and on the day after our arrival, we
took the steamboat and went down to his residence. We were received
with warm Irish hospitality, and throughout that day and the next,
every thing that our friend and his family could do for our enjoyment
was done in the pleasantest and heartiest way. They took us boating up
and down the noble bay—driving along the shores, and walking over
their estate. There was always a large, lively party, and we had the
merriest times imaginable. They made a pic-nic for us, on Cove Island,
but a rain coming on, we took refuge in an old, old castle, where we
feasted, and jested, and laughed, and sung songs, and even danced, in
the rough and gloomy halls in which, hundreds and hundreds of years
ago, were gathered barbaric Irish chieftains—grim, terrible
fellows—parading the spoils of the chase, or the plunder of war.
A little way back from their house, our friends have another
ruin—Monkstown Castle. This was built in 1636—tradition says at only
the cost of a groat. Of course, the statement was a puzzle to me, when
I first heard it, but it was soon explained. The estate belonged, at
that time, to John Archdeken, who, while serving with the army abroad,
left his wife in charge of his property. She was a thrifty woman, and
determined to surprise him on his return by a noble residence, which
should cost very little. So she hired workmen, with the privilege of
supplying them with all their provisions and articles of clothing.
These she purchased by wholesale, and though she sold them at the
ordinary retail price, found in the end, that the profits had only
fallen short of paying the expenses of building, one groat.
It came very hard for us to part from our kind friends at
Monkstown—but it has by no means been hard to keep them in loving
Just a pleasant drive from Cork is Blarney Castle—a noble ruin,
towering above a beautiful little lake, all surrounded by delightful,
though neglected grounds—made famous by an old comic song, called "The
Groves of Blarney."
This stronghold was built in the fifteenth century, by the great chief,
Cormac MacCarty, and retained by his descendants, the lords of
Clancarty and Musterry, until 1689, when it was confiscated. It has
since belonged to a family of Jeffries. The sad work of decay and
demolition has been going on for several centuries, and yet some of the
walls look as though they would stand centuries longer.
The chief object of curiosity here is the famous "Blarney Stone," about
which there is a foolish tradition that whoever kisses it shall be
gifted with such shrewdness and eloquence that nobody will be able to
resist his persuasions. From this comes the expression of "blarney"
for cunning and flattering talk. I did not perceive that the people in
this neighborhood had any more of this peculiar gift than those of
other provinces;—indeed, I should suppose that there was a Blarney
stone in every town in Ireland, and that no Irishman, woman, or child
had failed to kiss it.
This stone is now on the inside of the highest battlement of the great
tower. It was formerly on the outside, some feet from the top, and
those who wished to kiss it, were obliged to be let down by their
heels—which being a rather disagreeable and dangerous process, Mr.
Jeffries had it removed to its present place. Some learned men say
that this is nothing but a spurious stone, after all; and that the real
magical stone is yet imbedded in the outer wall, about twenty feet from
the top, and bears the name of the great MacCarty. Perhaps it is
so—but I don't believe it.
In the grounds about the Castle, or "The Groves," there is many a
sweet, dewy, flowery spot, where the grass, moss, and ivy, are green as
green can be, and no sound is heard in the deep shade but the gurgle of
water and the warble of birds. Here are some rude steps made in the
rock, called "The Witches' Staircase," and a cave, in which it was said
a fair Princess remained enchanted for many years. Legends say that
the last Earl of Clancarty sunk all his valuable plate in the lake,
where it will remain until one of the old race regains possession of
the estate. Our guide told us that Lady Jeffries tried to drain the
lake, but that though she made a deep opening in the bank, not a drop
would run out—"for fear of exposing the plate of the rale lord!" He
said, too, that enchanted cows in the MacCarty interest came often at
night, and drove the Jeffries cows out of their pastures; and that no
earthly cattle had any chance at all against them—for they were
furious animals, with "mighty sharp horns." Of course, all this is
very absurd, and not half so pretty as the legends we heard everywhere
in Ireland of the fairies, or "good people." I will tell you more of
these another time. Now I have only room for a little anecdote of the
last Lord Clancarty, which I find set down as a great lesson to people
to read their Bibles.
When this unfortunate nobleman was going into exile, he told his
relative, the beautiful Duchess of Marlborough, that he was certain he
could recover his property, if he only had money enough to carry on a
lawsuit for it. She did not offer to help him, but she placed in his
hands a Bible, saying that he would find in it comfort and support in
all his troubles. The young lord thanked her with such a pious face
that one would have thought he meant to do little else than study the
good book for the next six months. But the rogue never once looked
into it, and when, long after, he returned to England, the Duchess
asked him for it, and opening it before his eyes, showed him that she
had placed between the leaves, bank notes enough to have recovered his
estates, now hopelessly lost.
I must say that this account of Lord Clancarty's poverty, and that of
his treasure hid in Blarney Lake, do not hang together very well; but,
as the Bible story has the best moral, perhaps we had better hold on to
that, and let the other go, with the legends of enchanted cows and
LITTLE NORAH AND THE BLARNEY STONE.
One pleasant summer morning, in 18—, a gay party of English ladies and
gentlemen visited the old Castle of Blarney. They strolled along the
green shore of the lake, wandered about the wild neglected gardens and
"groves," ran up and down the Witches' Staircase, poked their heads
into the princesses cave, and then ascended the great tower of the
castle. This party was headed by a gentleman of middle age, tall and
stately, but very kindly and pleasant in his looks. He wore a military
uniform, but was addressed as "my lord." He held by the hand, that is,
whenever he could catch her, a smiling rosy, dimple-cheeked little
girl, whom he called "Fanny," and the rest of the party "Lady Frances."
It was a pretty sight to see her break away from them all, and flit
about the ruins and through the dark tangled alleys of the groves, like
a bird on the wing. She laughingly skipped up and down the Witches'
Staircase with the rest, but she lingered longest in the haunted cave,
looking about her wistfully, as though she expected to see the
enchanted princess; and once her father found her peering into a dark
green dell, and listening attentively, her dark eyes growing big with
"Why, daughter Fanny, what have you there?" he asked. "What wonderful
discovery are you making?"
"Hush, father!" she replied, with her small taper finger on her lip,
"it's the fairies I'm after—the 'good people,' nurse Bridget has told
me so much about. I am sure there must be some of them in this still,
shady place. I've found their 'rings' in the fresh, green grass."
Lord Clare at first smiled at this simple, childish faith, then grew
serious, and sitting down on a flowery bank, drew his little daughter
on to his knee, and explained to her how the story of fairies was, in
the beginning, only a fable of poets and romance-writers, and was now
only believed in by ignorant peasants, like her Irish nurse; that, in
truth, there were no such beings as the fairies in all the world. When
he had finished, he was surprised to see that the child had covered her
face with her hands, and that the tears were fast trickling through her
fingers. "What is my little daughter weeping for?" he asked.
"For the fairies, papa; the dear, beautiful fairies. I can't believe
in them any more."
"But was it not right for papa to tell you the truth, my darling, even
though it gave you pain?"
"Yes, I suppose it was. But, oh, papa, somehow things don't look so
beautiful as they did when I believed in the 'good people.' Then every
bank of moss, or bit of green turf, I thought might be a fairy
ball-room. Whenever I saw a flower, or a leaf floating on the water, I
thought some fairy might be sailing on it. I was almost sure
full-blown roses were the thrones of fairy queens, and buds just
opening they were the little baby-fairies' cradles. Oh, it was so
beautiful! and then, the kindness and goodness of the wee things, papa;
that is, when you did not happen to offend them. They were always
helping people out of trouble, especially poor persecuted princes and
princesses, and they were such fast friends of good children—at least,
so nurse and the fairy books said, and I used to believe so;—now it's
"But, my daughter," said Lord Clare, "we can be better than fairies to
one another, if we will; and then, remember, that we have God's good
angels to watch over and help us, when they can."
"Yes," said Fanny, brightening up a little, "that is some comfort."
It was soon after this conversation that the party ascended the old
crumbly stone steps of the great tower of the castle. After enjoying
the fine prospect from the summit for some time, Lord Clare inquired
for the famous Blarney Stone.
Rooney, the guide, a shrewd, smooth-tongued fellow, leaned over the
ruined parapet, and pointing to a stone, several feet below, replied,
"There it is, yer honor, the rale meraculous ould stone. Sure if your
lordship would so demane yourself as to kiss it, to-day, you would
never have any trouble in governing Irishmen at all. You would have
only to spake, and the spirit of fight and rebellion would leave them,
and they would be quiet as lambs."
"Indeed! that would be a miracle; but how am I to get at the stone?"
"Oh, that is aisy done. I'll hould your lordship by the heels and
swing you over just—all for half a crown, and as much more as yer
lordship is plased to give."
"O yes, I remember to have heard of your original way of showing up the
Blarney Stone," said Lord Clare, "but how can I be sure that you will
not raise your price before raising me. It strikes me that I have
heard of your once playing off that trick upon a tourist."
"Ah!" said Rooney, with a sly chuckle, "yer lordship alludes to a
mean-souled tailor, from London. He stood where yer lordship stands
for more nor an hour, beating me down from half a crown, my lawful fee,
to a shilling,—and me with seven children and the wife at home down
with the fever. At last, I gave in, and swung him over. He kissed the
stone, and then called to me to pull him up. 'Wait a bit, my man,'
says I, 'you gave me only a shilling for letting you down; it's a dale
harder job to pull you up. I must have half a crown for that same.'
With that, he began to swear and call me a chate, and threaten me with
the police. But I only said, 'my arms is givin' out, and I can't hold
on much longer, and if you won't pay me my just demand, I shall be
under the necessity of dropping yer acquaintance.' Then he began to
beg, for you see, he could look down and see the ugly rocks and the
black water more nor a hundred feet below him. But I told him he had
bothered so long, and given my arms such a strain, that I could not let
him up so aisy. At last, to save his neck, he promised me the half
guinea I asked, and paid it as soon as he set foot on the tower. I
know it was a big price for the article, but that was his own affair.
And now, begging your lordship's pardon, for proposing such a thing as
your kissing the stone after a tailor, shall I have the pleasure of
suspending your lordship over the wall, this morning?"
"No, Rooney, you must excuse me. But here is your half crown, all the
same," said Lord Clare, with a good-humored smile.
Just at this moment, Fanny called the attention of the party to a
little girl, about her own age, who had just ascended the tower, and
was standing near them, looking about her curiously and wistfully. She
was evidently one of the poorest class of peasants, for her dress was
coarse and patched, though clean and tidy. But she was a beautiful
child. She had large, dark, tender eyes, and soft curling, brown hair;
her arms and hands, though much sunburnt, and her feet, which were
bare, were small and gracefully formed. Her face wore now a weary and
troubled look, so little befitting a child, that it touched the hearts
of all that gay company. One of the gentlemen asked very kindly what
it was she wanted. She courtesied, as she answered timidly, "Sure, yer
honor, it's the Blarney Stone I'm after. Will you tell me, plase,
where I can find it?"
"Why, child," said Lord Clare, "what do you want of the Blarney Stone?"
"Only to kiss it, yer honor. I've come all the way from Bantry, on my
two feet, barring a lift now and then on a car, just to do that
same—all for the sake of poor Phin."
"And who is Phin?"
"He is my brother, sir—my own brother, and he has gone and 'listed,
and it's breaking my mother's heart; and sure, yer honor, if he goes
away for a soldier, she will die, and it's all alone in the world I'll
be." With that, her little red lips began to quiver, and the tears to
fall from her soft, brown eyes.
"But what good will it do Phin, for you to kiss the Blarney Stone?"
asked one of the ladies.
"Whist!" said the child, looking about her, and speaking low, as though
afraid of being overheard by some one unfriendly to Phin, "it's just a
little plot of my own. I was told that the new lord-lieutenant was
coming to Cork, and I knew he could let poor Phin off from being a
soldier; so I said nothing to nobody, but came up to entrate him. You
see I had often heard how this same Blarney Stone would give people an
ilegant and moving discoorse; and sure I thought I'd need to kiss it,
before I could stand up forninst a great lord, and say my story. That
is all, yer ladyship."
"Oh, little girl!" cried Fanny, joyfully, "you need not kiss the old
stone for that, for my papa is—" Here the impulsive little girl
caught a warning look from her father, and paused suddenly, while his
lordship took up the conversation with the peasant child.
"What is your name?"
"Norah McCarthy, yer honor."
"Ah, quite a pretty name. Well, Norah, how came this brother of yours
"Och! it all came from going to Darby O'Hallagher's wake."
"What is a wake?" asked Fanny.
"A wake, my darling young lady," said Rooney, very politely, "sure it's
an entertainment that a man gives after he is dead, when his
disconsolate friends all assemble at his house, to discuss his virtues
and drink his poteen. There is one who is called a 'keener,' usually
an elderly woman, with a touch of madness, or poetry, and a wild
rolling eye, who chants a 'keen,' or lamentation; in short, it's a sort
of melancholy frolic, where we only drink to drown our sorrow—a good
old Irish custom. Now, go on, Norah, my jewel."
"Well, may be Phin was a great mourner for Darby, for he was overtaken
in drink that night, and brought shame upon himself, that had always
been a dacent and a sober lad; and the next day Mary Nelligan wouldn't
spake to him, and even our mother turned her face away from him; and
so, with the hot shame at his heart, he went straight to the sergeant
and 'listed. He was sorry soon, and Mary was sorry, and mother is just
kilt with grief, for she has nobody to look to now."
"And to obtain your brother's discharge, you have come on this
pilgrimage to Blarney Castle, my poor child?" said Lord Clare, laying
his hand gently on the little girl's head.
"Yes, and will yer honor kindly point out the stone to me? for I must
go back to Cork this day."
Lord Clare took her by the hand, and leading her to the parapet,
pointed down to the stone, imbedded in the outside wall. "Ah," cried
Norah, in a tone of dismay and grief, "how can I reach it there? and
where am I to get the heart to spake up to the lord-lieutenant for poor
Just then, an idea of testing the courage and devotion of the child
occurred to Lord Clare. Unwinding from his waist a long silk, military
sash, he said, "If you will let me tie this around you, under your
arms, and let you down by it, you can kiss the Blarney Stone, and I
will draw you up again. Are you brave enough to venture?"
As Norah looked down from what seemed to her a dreadful height, she
grew dizzy and shrank back; but when she looked up into the calm, kind
eyes of Lord Clare, she took courage, and said she would go. As he
tied the sash firmly about her, she said,—"If yer honor finds me heavy
you'll not let me fall, for sure you have a colleen (girl) of your own."
She put up a little prayer when she went over the wall, which I doubt
not was lovingly listened to, by Him who blessed little children.
Safely she was lowered to the stone, and eagerly she pressed against it
her soft red lips, and then called out, "I've done it, yer honor; now
pull me up, if you plase."
As Lord Clare lifted her up over the parapet, Fanny, in admiration of
her courage, rushed forward, flung her arms about her and kissed
her—calling her "the best and bravest girl in the world." The ladies
and gentlemen of the party all made presents of money, which she
received with grateful thanks, but seemed bewildered by their great
kindness and in a hurry to get away.
"Where are you going?" asked one.
"Back to Cork, sure, to find the lord-lieutenant, while the feel of the
Blarney Stone is on my lips."
"But how will you get to speak to him?"
"Ah, then, I cannot tell; but the saints will help me, may be."
"I will tell you what to do," said Lord Clare. "Come to the Royal
Hotel, where he lodges, just after the Review, to-day. I know him, and
will see that orders are given to admit you, at once."
"But hadn't I better wait till his lordship has dined?" asked Norah,
"for I have heard that gentlemen are better natured after dinner."
"Ah, you are a shrewd child," said Lord Clare, laughing, "but you
forget that you have kissed the Blarney Stone, and need not fear even a
hungry lord-lieutenant. Come at the time I set."
"And keep up good courage," whispered Fanny. "You can't expect any
help from the fairies, for there are no such little folks nowadays; but
there are the angels, you know—and my papa, he is almost as good as a
At the hour appointed for receiving his humble petitioner, the
lord-lieutenant was standing in his parlor, at the Royal Hotel, with a
group of officers in rich uniforms and ladies in full dress about him.
He was amusing some of the company who had not been with him in the
morning, by an account of the simplicity and heroism of the beautiful
Irish child he had met, when she was shown in, by a pompous
serving-man, in showy livery, who looked very much astonished and
somewhat indignant at being obliged to introduce such a humble little
body to a room full of grand people. But no one cared for his looks.
Norah was dazzled by the sight of so much splendid dress, and went
forward with timid, wavering steps to where she was told the
lord-lieutenant was standing. She stood before him, quite silent for a
moment, her eyes cast down, and a painful blush overspreading her
artless face; then, in a trembling, hesitating voice, she began—"Will
yer honor plase—no, may it plase yer lord-lieutenantship to let our
poor Phin go! Sure, with all these fine soldiers you'll never miss
him, and then"—here she stammered and broke quite down. Covering her
face with her hands, she cried out, half sorrowfully and half in
vexation, "Bad luck to the Blarney Stone! There's no good in it at
all, at all—sorra a word more will it give me to spake."
Lord Clare laughed at this—a pleasant, familiar laugh—and Norah
dropped her hands and looked up full in his face, for the first time
during the interview. In an instant, her eyes flashed joyfully through
their tears, she clapped her hands and cried,—"Blessed Saint Patrick
it is himself!" The next moment, Fanny was at her side, smiling and
whispering joyfully, "Didn't I tell you my papa was almost as good as a
To make a long story short, I will say that Phin McCarthy's discharge
was soon obtained, and Norah McCarthy returned to Bantry, by the public
car, loaded with presents from the generous friends her beauty and
brave devotion had made.
A short time after, as the lord-lieutenant and his party were passing
through Bantry, on their way to Killarney, their travelling car was
surrounded by the McCarthys and Nelligans, (Mary Nelligan was already
Mrs. Phin McCarthy,) all come to return their thanks.
Little Lady Frances was very happy to see her Irish friend, who looked
prettier than ever, in a neat new dress; and drawing her father's face
down to hers, she whispered,—"Oh, papa, dear! won't you take Norah
home with us, to be my little maid?" This thought had already occurred
to Lord Clare, so he proposed it at once to Mrs. McCarthy. Though
feeling greatly honored, the good woman was, at first, unwilling to
part from her darling, and Norah to go so far from her mother; but when
his lordship promised that they should often visit each other, they
So Norah went to live in Dublin Castle, as the maid and playmate of
Lady Frances. She was always most kindly cared for, received a good
education, and was treated more as a friend than as a servant by all
Lord Clare's household, for she ever retained her simple, endearing
ways, and was as good as she was beautiful.
When she had been a year or two in his family, Lord Clare one day
explained to her, as well as he could, the curious superstition of the
Blarney Stone,—assuring her that there was in reality no virtue or
power in it whatever. Norah smiled and blushed at his earnest words,
as she answered in her sweet brogue, which she had not yet been
educated out of,—"My Lady Frances told me long ago, that the fairies
were all a pretty fable, and the Blarney Stone was like any other
stone, just. I'll let the fairies go, but," (taking Fanny's hand and
kissing it,) "by your lordship's leave and hers, I will stand by the
Blarney Stone, for the good fortune it has brought me."
A Visit to the Lakes of Killarney.
KATHLEEN OF KILLARNEY.
The morning of our leaving Cork was dark and rainy; but it gradually
cleared up, and by the time we reached Bantry, the first place of much
note on our route, all was bright and smiling, overhead and along our
Bantry Bay is very beautiful, and is historically remarkable as the
place where the French have twice attempted a landing, for the purpose
of invading and revolutionizing Ireland.
Late in the afternoon, we arrived at Glengariff—one of the wildest and
yet loveliest spots in all that picturesque country. How I wish I
could give you such an idea of it as I have in my own mind—a great,
magnificent picture, painted on my memory—in some parts sunny and
green, and flowery; in others, dark and rugged, and grand. I shall
always particularly remember a long row we had on the bay, in the
twilight, and how the scenery of the mountainous shore and the rocky
islands, and the swelling, booming waves, grew stern, solemn, and even
awful, in the fast-falling shadows of evening, and the rising winds and
gloomy clouds of a coming storm.
But the next morning, every thing was more sweet and quiet and radiant
than I can tell. So, wild Glengariff smiled upon us in our parting,
but we found it hard to smile back. We really felt sad to go so soon
and forever from such a bit of paradise.
We travelled now upon a large outside car, which allowed us to see
every thing on our way, and would have been a very pleasant conveyance
if it had not left us too much exposed to the attacks of the beggars.
The seats were so low that when the car was going slowly up the hills,
we could step off and walk—so, of course, the beggars could come close
beside us. Nothing kept them off—neither laughing, nor commanding;
alms-giving, nor refusals. Drive as fast as we might, they kept up
with us—crowds of little boys and girls, and sometimes full-grown men
and women. Some of the children were exceedingly handsome, with black
hair and eyes, and dark olive skins—descendants, it is said, of the
Spaniards, who, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, invaded Ireland.
The Lakes of Killarney would scarcely be called lakes in our country,
where we boast such grand inland seas under that name. They are small,
but certainly very beautiful, and surrounded by delightful scenery.
They are three in number—the Upper, the Lower, and Torc Lake.
The town of Killarney has a miserable, dilapidated appearance, and is
overflowing with beggars. We did not stop here, however, but at a
hotel a mile or two away, on the northern shore of the Lower Lake—a
most charming situation. A little way out of the town, we had stopped
to visit Torc waterfall—a beautiful cascade, in a wild and shady
glen—one of the very finest sights of that region.
In the morning, we set out early on an excursion through the Gap of
Dunloe, to the Upper Lake. This time I was mounted on a fleet-footed
pony, which gave me an advantage over the beggars. One friend rode
beside me; the others were, as usual, on a jaunting car.
The "Gap" is a long, dark, rocky pass, with a noisy stream, called the
Loe, rushing through it. On the right, are the mountains called the
Reeks; on the left, the Toomies, and the "Purple Mountain." On
reaching the Upper Lake, we left our ponies and car, and embarked in a
boat, which was awaiting us, for a row down a still, silvery, and
fairy-like sheet of water. Passing many green and flowery
islands—always in sight of grand mountains and lovely shores—we
entered upon "the long range"—a sort of river, connecting the lakes.
On this stands old "Eagle's Nest," a mountain about eleven hundred feet
in height, on whose summit the eagles have built their nests for
It is principally remarkable for the fine echoes which it gives forth.
Our guide played the bugle before it, and every note came back, clear
Mrs. Hall, in her beautiful book on Ireland, relates an amusing story
which a peasant told her, of a daring attempt a mountaineer once made
to rob the eagle's nest. He watched till he saw the old eagles fly
away, and then let himself down by a rope from the rock above, and was
just about to seize upon the young eaglets, when suddenly out darts the
mother eagle from a thunder-cloud, and stood facing him! But she spoke
very civilly, and said—
"Good morning, sir; and what brings you to visit my fine family so
early, before they've had their breakfast?"
"Oh, nothing at all," said the man, "only to ax after their health,
ma'am, and to see if any of them is troubled with the tooth-ache; for
I've got a cure for it, here in my pocket, something I brought wid me
from furrin parts."
"Aha! and you brought some blarney in the other pocket," said the
mother eagle; "for don't I know you came to steal my children—the
"Honor bright," said he, "do you raly think now I'd be sarving ye such
a mane trick as that?"
"I'll leave it to a neighbor of mine," said she; and with that she
raised her voice and screeched out—"Did he come to rob the eagle's
Of course, the echo answered—"To rob the eagle's nest."
"Hear that! you thieving blackguard," said the eagle, "and take that
home with you!" and with one blow of her great beak, she pitched him
over, and he tumbled down the mountainside into the lake; getting
severely bruised and well ducked for interfering with the domestic
happiness of his neighbors.
About a mile below this mountain, we passed under Old Weir Bridge.
This is called "shooting the bridge," and unless you have very skilful
boatmen, is considered very dangerous, as the rapids are swift and
We next passed the bay and mountain of Glena, by far the most beautiful
scenes of Killarney.
We took dinner on shore, seated on the soft, cool grass, under the
shade of arbutus-trees, and after a little stroll, returned over the
water to our hotel, but a very little wearied by our day of pleasure.
Our first excursion the next morning was to the ruins of Muckross
Abbey, on a peninsula which divides the Lower Lake from Torc Lake.
This is a beautiful, solemn old spot, and is very much venerated by the
Irish peasantry, not only as having been built and occupied by holy
priests and saints, but as the burial-place of many of the ancient
Princes of Desmond, the MacCartys-Mor, and the O'Donoghues.
After leaving the Abbey, we commenced the ascent of Mangerton, a
mountain some 2,550 feet high. We were now all mounted on ponies, who
were very sagacious and sure-footed, and climbed the rocky, narrow path
like goats. We were followed every step of the way by a host of lads
and girls, carrying jugs and cups of milk and whisky, which they
offered to us at almost every moment. The greatest curiosity upon this
mountain is a little lake, near the summit, called, "The Devil's
Punch-Bowl." It is surrounded by almost perpendicular rocks; the water
is very dark, and is said to be unfathomable. Though so completely
shut in, it is never calm, and though icy cold in summer, it never
freezes in winter.
From the summit, we had a vast, magnificent view, which, however, I
must confess, I enjoyed less than the wild, frolicking ride which I
took soon after, down the mountain, following closely upon the steps of
one of my friends, who, for mischief, went far out of the path, and
took his way over rocks and gullies, through bogs and briars. It was
great sport to us, but I am afraid my poor pony had some private
objections to it.
We enjoyed another pic-nic dinner in Lord Kenmare's grounds, and
afterwards rowed to the lovely little island of Innisfallen, upon which
are some ruins of a famous old abbey, which is said to have been built
as early as the seventh century.
From Innisfallen we went to Ross Castle—a very well-preserved ruin.
In old times it was the stronghold of the war-like O'Donoghues. It was
besieged in 1652, by the forces of Cromwell, commanded by General
Ludlow, and though very strong and well provisioned, surrendered, with
scarcely an attempt at defence. The reason of this was that the
garrison was frightened at seeing the war ships which Ludlow brought
against them—as, long before, some old priest or wizard had made a
prophecy that when such vessels should appear on the lake, all would be
up with the castle. So superstition makes cowards of the bravest men.
There is a very curious and absurd legend which the peasants relate
about the last O'Donoghue; and they really seem to believe what they
are telling. Some say that when Ludlow marched his men into his
castle, the O'Donoghue, driven to despair, leaped from one of the
windows into the lake,—that he was not drowned, but turned into a sort
of merman under the waves, and has lived there ever since, with the
friendly water-spirits, and his family and many of his friends who have
followed him. They say he has a splendid sub-marine palace, and dogs
and horses, and harpers and fiddlers, good whisky punch, and potatoes
that are never touched with the rot—fairs and dances, and weddings and
wakes, and now and then a fight—in short, every thing that can make a
real old-fashioned Irishman feel at home and comfortable. The wakes
and fights are only make-believes, "for divarshin," they say; for the
people down there cannot die—cannot even be wounded, or hurt in any
Others say that the O'Donoghue under the lake is a more ancient
prince—an enchanter, who for some act of impiety, got enchanted in his
turn and was condemned to dwell under the water, and is only allowed to
come to the surface once a year—on the first morning in May, when he
rides over the lake in grand style, clad in silver armor, with snowy
plumes in his casque, mounted on a white steed, splendidly caparisoned.
Before him go beautiful water-spirits, scattering flowers—all running
and dancing on the water, without the slightest difficulty. It is said
the enchantment of the O'Donoghue will last until the silver shoes of
his horse are worn off by the friction of the waves.
There are many yet living at Killarney, who solemnly declare that they
have seen the chieftain on his May-morning ride. But these, if honest
persons, have doubtless been deceived by singular appearances in the
atmosphere, called optical illusions, or mirages.
Many other legends are told by the peasants and guides. All are
strange and improbable, but some are very amusing, and some, I think,
quite poetic and beautiful.
One is about a holy man of Muckross, who fell into some great sin, and
repenting of it, waded into the lake, and stuck a holly-stick into the
bottom, and said he would not leave the spot till it should throw out
leaves and branches. So he did penance for seven years, and then the
stick suddenly leaved out and blossomed, and became a great tree, by
which the good man knew that he was pardoned. We may take a lesson
from this. If we do wrong, and try to atone for it, in the best way we
know how, it may seem a hopeless work; but if we wait patiently and
pray, we shall surely see, at last, God's love and blessing blossoming
before us like the holly-stick, and overshadowing us like the great
There is another legend about an ancient Abbot of Innisfallen, which is
sweet and touching, though I do not see that it has any moral. This
good man was at his prayers one morning, very early, when he heard a
little bird singing so melodiously out among the trees, that he got up
from his knees and followed it. The bird flew from tree to tree, and
still he walked after, for its music was so delicious he could not tire
of it. He thought in his heart that he could listen to it forever, and
he came very near doing that same, for the bird was an enchanted
singer, and so bewitched the priest that he had no idea how the time
went by. At last, he thought that it was about the hour for
vespers—so he gave his blessing to the little bird, and went back into
the abbey. But, when he entered, he was astonished to see only strange
faces and to hear a strange tongue, which was the English, in place of
the Irish. There were monks about, who asked him who he was, and where
he came from. He told them his name, and that he was their Abbot. He
had gone out, he said, in the morning to hear a little bird sing, and
somehow it had kept him following it about the island ever since. Then
they told him that no less than two hundred years had passed since he
went out to hear that singing, and that he had never been seen
since—for being enchanted, he had been invisible. Then the old monk
cried out—"Give me absolution, some of you, for my time is come!"
They gave him absolution, and he died in peace; but just as he was
passing away, there came to the holly-tree, before the window, a little
white bird, and sat and sung the sweetest song ever heard; and when the
soul left the body of the old Abbot, another white bird appeared, and
the two sang together very joyfully for awhile, in the holly tree, and
then flew out into the sunshine, and up into the blue heaven, away!
KATHLEEN OF KILLARNEY.
Not many years ago there lived at Glena, the loveliest spot in all
Killarney, a small farmer, by the name of Mickey, or Michael More, his
wife, and one daughter. Though Mickey was a poor, hard-working man, he
boasted that he was descended from a regular Irish chieftain, the great
MacCarty-Mor, and held his head up accordingly. But his wife, Bridget
O'Dogherty, that was—used sometimes to put him down a little, by
boasting that her great ancestor of all, was "a mighty king, or
monarch, that ruled over the biggest part of Ireland, shortly after the
flood,—long before the MacCartys-Mor were ever heard of. Why man, it
took all the lakes of Killarney to water his cattle—and the bog of
Allen was only his potato-patch."
In truth, Mrs. More was but a silly, ignorant woman, and her husband
was not much better, though he thought himself infinitely more clever
and sensible. In one thing, however, this couple were perfectly
agreed: it was in thinking their daughter, Kathleen, the most beautiful
and bewitching creature that the sun ever shone upon. They were so
foolishly proud of her that they resolved and declared that no one
short of a lord, or a rich baronet should ever marry her—that she
should become "my lady" somebody, or remain Kathleen More, to the day
of her death. They were strengthened in this resolution by a famous
fortune-teller, who foretold that Kathleen would become a grand
lady—live in a castle, ride in a coach, and have jewels and fine
dresses, ponies, pages, parrots, and poodle-dogs to her heart's content.
So they kept as keen a watch over her as though she had been a royal
princess, whose marriage was a great affair of state. They would
hardly allow her to speak to the young people of her own rank, but were
always telling her to hold her head high, and remember that she was "a
mate for their betters."
Of course, this ambition and pretension excited some ill feeling at
Killarney, and laughter and ridicule without end. But Kathleen was
truly a very beautiful young girl—so beautiful that her fame spread
far and wide, and toasts were made and songs were written in her
praise. Visitors to the Lakes used to inquire after her, and sometimes
hire their boatmen to land them near her father's cottage, so that they
might, by chance, catch a glimpse of "the Beauty of Glena." But
Kathleen was a good and sensible girl, and, strange to say, was not
spoiled by the constant flattery of her parents, and the evident
admiration of all who beheld her. She knew that she was very
beautiful,—every glance into the clear waters of the lake showed her
what sweet blue eyes, what lustrous black locks, what rosy, dimpled
cheeks were hers,—showed her that no lily could be fairer than her
brow, her neck, and her lovely taper [Transcriber's note: tapered,
tapering?] arms. Yet she knew also that this beauty was hers by no
merit, or power of her own; that it was the gift of the good God,
bestowed in kindness, though it brought her little happiness, poor
girl. Watched and guarded like a nun, she had few friends and little
pleasure, and often envied the humblest village maids and
farm-servants, as she saw them, strolling along the lake shore, with
their brothers and friends, on summer evenings, when their work was
done—or sometimes rowing over the lake, their plain brown faces
lighted up with innocent enjoyment, and their gay songs and happy
laughter ringing out over the water.
There was one young man, braver or more persevering than most of
Kathleen's untitled admirers, who would not be frowned off by her
ambitious parents;—perhaps because he was encouraged by the kind
smiles of the beautiful girl herself. This was a young tradesman,
named Barry O'Donoghue—a fine, manly fellow, industrious, intelligent,
and though not rich, in better circumstances than most young men of the
parish. But when "bold Barry O'Donoghue," as he was called, proposed
to Michael More for the hand of his daughter, he received as stern and
scornful a "No, young man," as any who had been before him. Barry had
a proud as well as a loving heart, and felt the slight and
disappointment so keenly that he left his home at once, and sailed for
Australia, to seek his fortune in that rich, but then almost unknown
land. People laughed, and said that Mickey and Biddy More were keeping
their daughter for "the O'Donoghue"—expecting him to come for her,
some May-day morning, in grand style, riding over the waves on his
silver-shining steed, to carry her off to his palace under the lake.
But when it was seen how poor Kathleen took Barry's going to heart, few
were so unfeeling as to laugh. She never had been as merry as most
young girls, and now she grew sad and silent and very weary-looking.
She did not complain, but her eyes seemed heavy with the tears she
would not shed, and the roses went fading and fading out of her cheeks,
till her father became alarmed, and would bid her eat more, and spin
less—to get up early in the morning and drink new milk, "with a drop
of mountain-dew in it." ("Mountain-dew," I must tell you, is an Irish
name for whisky.) "Ah darling," her mother would say, "if you don't
howld on to your beauty, what'll his lordship say, when he comes after
you? Sure, he'll consider himself imposed upon."
"But mother, dear," Kathleen would reply, "I don't want any lord—I'll
just stay with father and you, always as I am."
"Hush now, you simple child! It's just flying in the face of
Providince, you are—your fortune has all been foretowld this many a
year, and you've only to submit to it—though you don't desarve it."
Well, one May-day morning, when Barry O'Donoghue had been gone somewhat
over a year, Kathleen More went out as usual, to take her early walk;
but did not come back again. All day long they searched, far and near,
but without obtaining any trace or tidings of her; but just at night, a
note was found at the door of Michael's cottage, which ran thus:—
"I have taken away your daughter, and married her, before a priest. Be
easy about her. She is happy, and sends her dutiful respects.
"Ochone!" cried Bridget More, "the Phantom Prince has come and gone off
wid our darling Kathleen. I always towld you that trouble would come
of them early walks;—and how do you feel, Mickey More, to have gone
and made yourself father-in-law to a merman—a wicked water-wizard?
Answer me that!"
"Hush now, Biddy," said Michael, "it's not the O'Donoghue at all. It's
the great lord we've been waiting for so long, trying to make believe
he is the Phantom Prince. Maybe, for reasons of state, he don't like
to reveal himself; and maybe," he added, with a sly laugh, "he don't
care to make the acquaintance of his talkative mother-in-law."
Mrs. More was very indignant at this supposition, and persisted in
believing that the O'Donoghue, and no one else, had carried off and
married her daughter,—and as time went by and brought, always in some
mysterious way, good news, and now and then a handsome present, from
Kathleen, she became reconciled to her marriage, and even proud of it.
In her talks with her cronies, she would often speak of "her ladyship,
my daughter Kathleen,"—or "my daughter, the Princess O'Donoghue."
This greatly amused some of her neighbors, and they used to question
and quiz her without mercy.
"And why don't you go and visit your daughter, Mistress More?" asked
one—"Sure they invite you."
"Why, you see, Mistress Hallaghan," replied the cunning Bridget, "it's
all on account of my rhumatiz—I'm thinking that the climate down there
wouldn't agree with me."
But Mrs. More grew yet prouder and more important than ever, when there
came another letter from the O'Donoghue, bringing the good news that
she was grandmother to a fine little boy. Such grand calculations as
she laid on this event. "Who knows," she said, "but that the heir will
break up the long enchantment and grow up a good Christian, and come
back and take possession of Ross Castle, and we'll be ruled by a rale
Irish Prince once more."
At all these foolish anticipations Michael only laughed contemptuously;
but as his efforts to find out any thing about his daughter and her
husband had all failed, it was thought that he finally more than half
believed in the O'Donoghue story himself, though he never owned that he
May-day morning had come round again. It was three years since
Kathleen More was carried off, and as usual, on that day, her father
and mother awoke very early, for it was a sad anniversary for them.
"Troth!" exclaimed Michael, "and it was a queer drame I had last night."
"Ah then, avick, tell me it!" cried his wife, who was particularly
curious and superstitious about dreams.
"Well, then, I dramed that I paid a visit to the O'Donoghue; in his
grand palace under the lake. I received my invitation by being upset
in my boat, and pulled downwards by a big merman, who never let go of
my coat-tails till he landed me at the palace gate.
"The O'Donoghue himself met me in the hall. 'Welcome, Mr.
MacCarty-Mor,' (mind that, MacCarty-Mor!) said he—'welcome kindly!
Sure it's delighted I am to see you—and you are just in time for
dinner.' With that a sarvent began sounding a big conch-shell, a great
door was flung open, and the next thing, I found myself in an ilegant
room, sitting down to dinner with a mighty genteel looking company."
"Arrah! and was our Kathleen amongst them?" asked Mrs. More.
"Of course she was—sitting at the O'Donoghue's right hand, all silks
and gold, and heaps of pearls in her hair. She kissed her hand to me,
very politely, which was the most she could do, being a Princess, so
grandly dressed, and meself in my old grey coat and patched corduroys."
"And did she look natural?—the darling!"
"A trifle paler and prouder—but pretty much the same as ever, Biddy."
"And who else did you see, Mickey?"
"Oh hosts of the quality. First there was Fin MacCual, and Brian Boro,
and old King Cormac and the O'Tooles—with their crowns on, and the
O'Neills, and the O'Connors, and the O'Meaghers, and the O'Malleys, and
the O'Doghertys, and the O'Briens, and no end of O'Donoghues,—and the
Dermods, and Desmonds, and my ancestor, the great MacCarty-Mor himself."
"And what was your dinner, Mickey?"
"Why, principally oysters, and lobsters, and turtles, sarved up in
their shells—and plenty of good potheen to drink. The trouble of it
was, every thing was cowld, for you see they had no fire down there;
and candles wouldn't burn, by raison of the dampness,—so we went to
bed by moonlight, and slept on pillows of soft sand, between two sheets
"Ah, Mickey!" cried out Mrs. Bridget, in alarm, "why didn't you excuse
yourself, and come home before bed-time, for you know you always take
cowld from sleeping in damp sheets."
Michael burst into a laugh at this—"Why Biddy, woman," said he,—"sure
you forget it's all a drame."
"Arrah, and so it is," replied his wife, sadly, "and we know no more
about our poor Kathleen than we did the day she was spirited away. Ah,
Mickey dear, I often think that if I had her back, in my ould arms
again, I'd have no more such high notions for her, and I'd niver cross
her in any way."
Michael said nothing, but sighed heavily, and turned his face toward
A short time after this conversation, while Michael More was stirring
up the peat fire in the little kitchen, to boil the potatoes for
breakfast, and his wife was milking the cow, just outside the door, he
was startled by her calling put to him, in a tone of joyful
excitement—"Mickey, oh, Mickey! they're coming!"
"Who are coming?" cried he, rushing to the door.
"The O'Donoghue and our Kathleen. Don't you see them? Sure it's the
morning for them—only they are in a boat, instead of on horseback.
Hark, don't you hear the fairy music? and that's our Kathleen's voice
"Faith, you are right, for once," replied Michael, running with her
down to the shore. Yes, a boat came dancing over the bright waters of
the bay; containing a tall young man, quite proud, and happy looking
enough for a Prince, though not dressed in silver armor,—and a very
beautiful lady, holding a child in her arms. The "fairy music" was
made by the bugle of old Stephen Spillane, the Killarney guide.
In a few moments, there leaped to land, not the enchanted Irish
chieftain, but a better man, Barry O'Donoghue, who had as good a right
to call himself "the O'Donoghue" as any other member of that numerous
family. Then he handed out his wife, Kathleen, who three years before
he had been obliged to steal away from her unkind and foolish
parents,—and little Master Harry O'Donoghue, a handsome, curly-headed
little rogue, who jumped at once with a merry laugh, into the arms and
into the hearts of his grandparents.
After a great deal of embracing and kissing, Barry said, in reply to a
host of wondering exclamations and questions: "We have come back from
Australia, where we were getting rich, because Kathleen could not be
longer away from home and you. We have brought a little fortune with
us, and mean to settle down here in dear old Killarney, if you will be
reconciled to us, and take us for neighbors."
"And if you will forgive me, for not coming back to you a great lady,"
said Kathleen, smiling.
"Don't say any more about that," said Michael More, embracing her for
the twentieth time,—"We are glad enough to have you back just your old
self, and it's quite content we are with your husband and the boy—and
bad luck to all fortune-tellers! say I."
With that, old Stephen blew an applauding farewell note on his bugle,
and the Mores and O'Donoghues all went into the cottage, where we will
LITTLE ANDY AND HIS GRANDFATHER.
We travelled from Killarney to Tarbert, on the Shannon, by the
stage-coach, passing through several old, but uninteresting towns, and
seeing a great deal of barrenness and wretchedness on our way. At
Tarbert, we took a steamer, to ascend the river to Limerick, and as the
weather that afternoon was clear and bright, we had one of the most
delightful trips you can imagine.
The Shannon is a very noble river—in some places widening out like a
sea, and all the way running between beautiful green shores. There is
a place in the river, near the mouth, which has somewhat the appearance
of rapids, when the tide is coming in. This, the people say, is the
site of a sunken city, whose towers and turrets make the roughness of
the water. The whole city can be seen every seven years, but, as the
sight is said to be unlucky, every body avoids it. The whole story is
about as probable as the one I have told you of the damp and dubious
palace of the O'Donoghue.
Limerick is a pleasant and prosperous city, and has a very honorable
name in Irish history. The most interesting object that it contains is
the Castle, which was built by King John, and has stood for more than
six hundred years. In 1651, Limerick sustained a terrible siege, by
the Parliamentary forces, under General Ireton, the son-in-law of
Cromwell. It held out for six months, and would not have surrendered
then, though the inhabitants were dying of starvation and plague, had
it not been for the treachery of an officer of the garrison—one
Colonel Fennel. Among the most faithful and heroic of the city's
defenders, was a priest—Terence Albert O'Brien, Bishop of Emly. He
was so active and influential that Ireton made him an offer of forty
thousand pounds, (two hundred thousand dollars,) and a free pass to the
Continent, if he would cease his exhortations, and advise immediate
surrender. He scorned the offer, and so when the city at last fell
into the hands of the English, he was tried and condemned to death. He
was calm and heroic to the last; but before he was beheaded, he
addressed a few solemn, warning words to Ireton, which made the stern
soldier's blood curdle. He accused him of cruel injustice, and
summoned him to appear before the tribunal of God within a few days.
It is a singular fact that in a little more than a week from that time,
Ireton died of the plague.
Limerick was again besieged in 1690, by William III. It was defended
by the Irish Catholic adherents of James II. and their French allies,
and so well defended, that the King and his army beat a retreat in less
than a month. However, they made another trial the next year and with
a little better success, for after a six months' siege, the garrison
capitulated. A treaty was signed between the two armies, in which it
was stipulated that Limerick and the other Irish fortresses should
surrender to the new King—that the garrisons should be allowed to
march out with all the honors of war, and that they should be provided
with shipping to carry them to any country they should please to go to.
Then there were several other articles very favorable to the rights and
liberties of the Roman Catholics. To the shame of the English
government of that day, it must be said that this compact was most
dishonorably broken, and through that reign and many succeeding, the
Irish Catholics were greatly wronged and meanly persecuted. From this
circumstance, Limerick has always been called "The City of the Violated
Treaty"—at least, until the year 1847, when, one evening, a famous
tea-party given to the rebel leader, Smith O'Brien, was broken up by a
mob—on which occasion, Mr. Punch made a little change in the old
title, and called it "The City of the Violated Tea-tray."
The Cathedral of St. Mary's is a large, gloomy-looking building, with a
very high tower, from which one can get a magnificent view of the
surrounding country. In this tower is a very melodious chime of bells,
about which there is told a pretty and touching story, which I do not
doubt is true.
Once there lived in Italy a skilful young artisan, who was celebrated
for founding bells. No founder in all Europe could equal him—no
chimes in all the world were so grand and sweet-sounding as his. At
last, he made a chime for a convent, which proved to be finer than any
he had cast before. He had spent years upon them; they were his great
work; he was very proud of them; he even seemed to have fallen in love
with them, for he could not live out of the sound of their melodious
ringing. So he purchased a little villa, in a lovely seaside nook,
beneath the lofty cliff on which the convent stood, and every night and
morning he had the happiness of hearing the solemn silver chiming of
his own dear bells, which, when sounding at that height, it almost
seemed to him God had taken and hung in the clouds, to call him and his
children to prayer and to heaven.
But after a few bright, peaceful years, there came a dark, troubled
time of war and pillage. The good Italian lost all in the terrible
struggle—home, family—even his beloved bells—for the convent on the
cliff was destroyed, and they were carried away to some distant land.
At last, he was released from a miserable dungeon, to find himself old,
infirm, poor, and alone in the wide world. Then a great longing came
to him, and grew and grew at his lonely heart, to hear his bells once
more before he should die. So he became a wanderer over Europe,
searching for them every where. He would be told of wonderful chimes
in this and that city, and go many weary leagues to hear them; but as
soon as they sounded on his ear, he would sadly shake his head, his
eyes would fill with tears, and he would turn to go on his way.
When, at length, he heard of the sweet bells of Limerick, he was very
old and feeble, but he set out at once on what he knew must be his last
pilgrimage. The vessel on which he sailed went up the Shannon, and
anchored opposite the city. The old Italian took a boat to go on
shore, at the close of a calm and beautiful day. He was very weak and
ill, and reclined in the stern of the boat, looking longingly toward
St. Mary's Cathedral. Suddenly, from the tall tower, rang softly out
the vesper chime. The Italian started up joyfully at the sound. Then
he crossed himself, looked upward, and murmured—"I thank thee, blessed
mother of Jesus! I hear my bells at last!" Then he sank back, and
closed his eyes and listened. The men rested on their oars, and all
was still, except that sweet, solemn ringing. The Italian seemed to
hear in his bells more than their old melody—all the music of his
happy home—the deep murmur of the sea below the convent cliff—the
sighing of the winds in the cypress and olive trees—and sweeter and
dearer than all, the voices of his wife and children. They seemed to
be softly calling his pious soul to leave the trouble and weariness of
earth for the blessedness and rest of God. And his soul obeyed the
call,—for, when the bells ceased their ringing, and the boatmen rowed
to land, they found that the aged stranger was dead.
About six miles above Limerick are the Rapids of the Shannon, usually
called the Falls of Doonas. These can be part way descended in long,
narrow skiffs, constructed for the purpose, but the feat is a very
hazardous one. I went down, with a friend and two brave boatmen, but
though I enjoyed the adventure, I would not advise any one to follow my
Not far from Limerick are the ruins of Mungret Priory, said to have
been founded by St. Patrick, and which once contained no less than one
thousand five hundred monks.
"As wise as the women of Mungret," is a saying among the Irish, which
had its rise, according to tradition, in this way:—
The monks of Cashel having heard great stories of the learning of those
of Mungret, resolved to send a deputation to them, to settle the point
as to which college possessed the finest scholars in the dead
languages. Now the monks of Mungret enjoyed a better reputation for
such learning than they deserved,—being rather more fond of good
living than hard study,—so they were mortally afraid of being beaten
in the contest, and losing their good name forever. But they hit upon
a very ingenious plan of escape from their embarrassment. They dressed
up a number of their best scholars—some as women and some as
peasants—and placed them along the road by which their rivals must
travel. As the deputation came on, they naturally asked the way to
Mungret, and put other questions to the persons they met, and to their
great astonishment, every question was answered in Greek or Latin. At
last, they came to a halt, held a consultation, and prudently resolved
to go back to Cashel, as they could not hope to win any honor in a
controversy with a priory of monks who had so filled all the country
around with learning, that even the women and workmen spoke the dead
We saw a great deal of poverty, squalor, and idleness, in Limerick, but
also much honest industry. We visited the lace and glove
manufactories, where many poor girls earn not only their own living,
but often that of their families.
The peasantry in this county seemed sober and quiet people, but, as in
other parts of Ireland, they are mostly ignorant and superstitious.
They are workers in the bogs, or day-laborers, and all think themselves
very fortunate if they can obtain employment at wages which will keep
them and their children from starvation. Beggary is very common
everywhere, and is not considered a disgrace, except by the better
order of people.
There is in Ireland a class of small farmers, who live very respectably
and comfortably, though they can never hope to get very much
beforehand, as they do not own their farms, are obliged to pay many
taxes, and the more valuable they make the land, by their industry, the
higher is the rent.
I have heard a pretty little story about one of these farmer-families,
with which I will close this chapter.
LITTLE ANDY AND HIS GRANDFATHER.
In the county of Waterford once lived an honest old farmer, by the name
of Walsh. His wife died young, and left him one only child—a son, of
whom he was very proud. And Patrick Walsh was worthy of a great deal
of affection and respect; for he was a fine, amiable, industrious young
Unfortunately, Patrick fell in love with a proud, handsome young woman,
the daughter of a well-to-do farmer in the neighborhood, and finally
persuaded her to marry him, though she gave him to understand pretty
plainly that she thought she was condescending not a little in doing so.
Why, the Mullowneys (she was a Mullowney) actually had three rooms in
their cabin, and kept a horse, two cows, a goat, and a good-sized
donkey! And then, they had relations who were very well off in the
world—in particular, some fourth cousins, who kept a draper's shop in
Waterford, who, though they never visited the country Mullowneys,
couldn't help being an honor to the family. So it was little wonder
that "Peggy Mullowney Walsh," as she always insisted on being called,
held her pretty nose rather high, and curled her red lip a little
scornfully, as she stepped into the neat, but humble cabin of her
handsome young husband. Old Mr. Walsh felt for Patrick, and in order
to make his fortune equal the goods and the honors which his wife had
brought him, he made over to him the farm and all his possessions, and
left himself a pennyless dependent upon his son and daughter-in-law.
All went well for a few years, for Patrick honored and loved his
father, and did all that he could to make him happy and comfortable.
But I am sorry to say that Mrs. Peggy never was very kind to him. With
her high notions, she rather looked down upon him than felt grateful to
him for being simple enough to give up all his property to his son.
Then she was selfish and violent tempered, and did not like "the bother
of an ould body like him about the cabin." Still, she bore with him,
for he made himself quite useful, mostly in taking care of the
children, especially of the oldest boy, Andy. This child was all the
comfort the old grandfather had. He was always gentle and loving to
him, and made him as little trouble as possible. Sometimes, when the
poor old man was lying awake at night, grieving over the hard, scornful
treatment of his proud daughter-in-law, and praying God to take him to
a home of peace and love, where he would never be "in the way" any
more, little Andy would hear his low sobs, and go to him, creep close
to his desolate old heart, and whisper—
"Don't cry, gran'daddy—I love you wid all my heart, avourneen."
But the older and more feeble her father-in-law grew, the more unkindly
Mrs. Peggy treated him, till she made the cabin such a scene of
constant storm and confusion that everybody in it was wretched. At
last, old Mr. Walsh came to a resolution to put an end to all this
trouble. He would take to the road—that is, go a-begging. "The Lord
will take care of me," he said: "He who feeds the sparrows will put it
into the hearts of good Christians to give me all that I need."
Of course, Patrick was sad at the thought of his old father becoming a
mendicant; but he was a peaceable man and ruled by his wife; he was
tired of her scolding and complaints, and so, at last, consented.
As for Mrs. Peggy, she was very glad; she thought it was the best thing
the "ould body" could do, and set about making a beggar's bag for him
at once. He was to start the next morning.
Little Andy heard all the talk, but did not say any thing. He sat in a
corner, busily at work, sewing up his bib.
"What's that yer doing, Andy, darling?" said his father.
The child looked up at him sadly and reproachfully, and
answered,—"Making a bag for you to go beg—when you're as old as
Patrick Walsh burst into tears, flung his arms around his old father's
neck, and begged his forgiveness. And even the proud Peggy was so
affected that she fell upon her knees and asked pardon of God, of her
husband and his father, for her undutiful conduct. For his part, the
good old man forgave her at once. I need hardly say that he never went
on the road; for, from that hour, Peggy was a better and gentler woman,
and tried hard to make her house a happy home for her father-in-law,
and so, for all her family. To be sure, her besetting sins—pride and
temper—would break out once in a while, but God was stronger than
either; she prayed to Him, and He gave her strength to get the better
of them at last.
Grandfather Walsh lived in comfort and content several years, and on
his peaceful death-bed, blessed his son and daughter, and their
children, very solemnly and lovingly. When all thought that he was
gone, little Andy, who had been very quiet till then, began to cry
aloud. The good old man, whose soul was just at the gates of heaven,
heard him, opened his eyes, reached out his hand, and blessed his
darling once more. Then he died.
TIM O'DALY AND THE CLERICAUNE
After leaving Limerick, we returned to Dublin, and there took a
carriage, for a little tour in the neighboring county of Wicklow.
Wicklow has been called "The Garden of Ireland," for the beauty of its
scenery and the high cultivation of a large portion of its lands. It
is full of romantic valleys and streams, lakes, glens, and
waterfalls—varied by rugged, untamable wilds, and bleak, barren
We first visited "the Dargle," or Glenislorane River, upon Lord
Powerscourt's domain. This would be thought "a small specimen" of a
river with us, as, except when the waters are swollen with a freshet,
it is but a narrow and shallow mountain stream. But in Ireland it
passes at such times for a mighty torrent, and at all times is greatly
admired and respected.
It runs very rapidly, with bright sparkles and pleasant murmurs, down a
deep rocky ravine, whose jagged sides are overgrown with moss and
ferns, and overhung with luxuriant foliage.
A path leads up the glen to the waterfall. This is considered by the
people here a sublime and magnificent cataract, and it is very fine in
its way, and abundantly makes up in beauty for what it lacks in
awfulness; it is a charming thing to look at, and listen to, and ramble
about; and though it does not thunder and plunge and roar, like
Niagara, it glads the hearts of all who behold it—it manufactures
quite as radiant bows in the sunshine, and makes soft, musical, lulling
sounds enough to soothe all the peevish and restless children in the
world to sleep.
The entire descent at this fall is said to be about three hundred feet;
but it is only when the stream has been reinforced and encouraged by
heavy winter rains, that it takes the whole great jump at once.
The next stopping-place of much interest was Glendalough, which means,
"The Glen of the Two Lakes." This is usually called "The Valley of the
Seven Churches;" for here, in a very small space, are the ruins of that
number of rude little churches, and several other edifices, most of
them said to have been built as early as the sixth century, by St.
The place reminds one of "The Valley of the Shadow of Death," in
"Pilgrim's Progress," and it is hard to believe that any thing like a
"city" ever stood on so gloomy and desolate a spot. Yet history says
so; and it is certain the O'Tooles and MacTooles, for centuries kings
of all this region, lived here, or near here, in old-fashioned Irish
state, and were buried generation after generation of them in the
Church of Rhefeart.
The two lakes are small and quiet; but the water seems very deep, and
is remarkably dark-colored. There is something really awful in the
look of the lower lake, which is shut in by steep black mountains. On
the side of one of these, Lugduff, about thirty feet above the water,
is a singular little cave, which looks as though it had been hewn from
the solid rock, and is called St. Keven's Bed. The legend about it is,
that when St. Keven was a handsome young man of twenty, he made up his
mind to be a priest, and a saint—so, gave up all thoughts of love and
marriage, and devoted himself to a life of loneliness, privation, and
penance. It unluckily happened that a certain noble young lady, named
Kathleen, (the last name has not come down to us—perhaps it was
O'Toole,) took a great fancy to him, and offered him her hand, with a
very respectable property. To her surprise and mortification, he not
only did not accept, but actually ran away from her. He went to
Glendalough, then a wilderness, and scooped out this little den in the
rock—a place very difficult of access, both from the mountain and the
lake. Here he hid, laughing to himself that he had outwitted Kathleen.
But, one morning, he was wakened by hearing his name called, very
softly, and opening his eyes, who should he see but Miss Kathleen,
standing at the opening of the little cave, and smiling at him—as much
as to say, "Ah, you rogue, you see you can't escape me."
Shocked at the impropriety of her conduct, and provoked at being found
out, he put his feet against her, and kicked her into the lake! where,
I am sorry to say, she drowned in a very short time. In our day, there
would have been a hue and cry raised—a coroner's inquest—a great talk
in the newspapers—a trial—and, if the jury agreed, a hanging; but
there was nothing of the kind in that benighted time—nobody arrested
Keven, or punished him, and he went on his pious way in peace, building
churches and monasteries, and working miracles, or what passed for
such, till he got to be a very famous saint indeed. But my opinion is,
that it took more than the working of all the miracles assigned to him,
and the building of those miserable little edifices at Glendalough, to
atone for the drowning of that poor, foolish girl, Kathleen.
Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, in their admirable work On Ireland, give
several other anecdotes, told by their guide, Wynder, which illustrate
the saint's goodness of heart in rather an improbable way. "One day,
when he had retired to keep the forty days of Lent, in fasting,
meditation, and prayer, as he was holding his hand out of the window, a
blackbird came and laid her four eggs in it; and the saint, pitying the
bird, and unwilling to disturb her, never drew in his hand, but kept it
stretched out until she had brought forth her young, and they were
fully fledged and flew off with a chirping quartette of thanks to the
holy man, for his convaynience." Another is of "how he was once
going up Derrybawn, when he met a woman that carried five loaves in her
apron. 'What have you there, good woman?' said the saint. 'I have
five stones,' said she. 'If they are stones,' said he, 'I pray that
they may be bread; and if they are bread, I pray that they may be
stones.' So with that, the woman let them fall; and sure enough,
stones they were, and stones they are to this day." Our guide told us
this same anecdote, in a queer, half jesting, half believing way, and
pointed out the stones to us. I thought to myself that if they had not
been stones in the first place, they must have been very heavy
bread—too hard fare even for a saint.
We clambered up the rock, and crawled into the cave, which we found all
carved and written over with names—among them a few of distinguished
persons, such as Thomas Moore, Maria Edgeworth, Mr. and Mrs. S. C.
Hall, and Walter Scott.
After leaving Glendalough, we visited the "Sweet Vale of Avoca," which
the poet Moore has rendered famous by a song, called "The Meeting of
It is a little green valley, in which meet two streams—the Avonmore
and the Avonbeg—a pretty place enough, but hardly coming up to Mr.
The next day we explored "The Devil's Glen," an exceedingly beautiful
place, for all its naughty name. It is somewhat like the Dargle, but
more wild and romantic. It also has its rugged hills, its stream, and
its waterfall—or its mountains, river, and cataract; as, being in a
foreign country, I suppose we should be polite enough to call them,
instead of letting ourselves be carried away by conceit in our
Mississippis and Niagaras, and being "stuck up" on our Alleghanies and
Our last day in Wicklow was spent at the beautiful and romantic country
seat of Sir Philip Crampton, or Lough Bray, a wild, lonely little
mountain lake, whose shores are all black peat, or barren rock, except
where flourish the pleasant plantations and shrubberies of Sir Philip,
growing upon manufactured ground, and looking like the enchanted
gardens we read of in fairy tales.
The Lough is a smooth dark sheet of water, so deep in the centre that
it cannot be sounded. There is a pretty pebbly beach at one end, and
all around the other shores the waves make a peculiar musical sound
against the precipitous rocks. It is a charming little lake for
boating, and in fine weather, Sir Philip Crampton always gives his
guests the pleasure of a trip in his pretty row-boat. There are great
numbers of duck and other water-fowl about the lake, which Sir Philip,
who is a kind, genial, delightful old gentleman, has tamed, by feeding
them with crumbs of bread, which he always carries about him when he
goes on the water. No sooner does he make his appearance, than his
winged pets are after him in flocks, all clamoring eagerly for their
Sir Philip Crampton told me that when his friend, Sir Walter Scott, was
at Lough Bray, on his last visit, a boat excursion was proposed. Sir
Walter had always been passionately fond of boating, and now his eye
brightened, and he smiled gladly at the thought of his favorite
amusement. But just as the party were about stepping into the boat,
Mrs. Scott, Sir Walter's young daughter-in-law, drew back, and declared
that she was afraid to go. Everybody urged her and reasoned with her,
but she could not be persuaded—she would not go—she would stay where
she was. Sir Walter did not seem at all vexed with her, though he
laughed at her childish fears, but insisted on staying with her; and as
the boat pushed off, he sat down on the shore beside her, and plucked
flowers for her hair, and tried his best to entertain her—the good,
kind great man! When the laughter and songs of his merry friends came
to him across the water, he would smile cheerily, and wave his hat to
them, and never once said how sorry he was not to be with them. I have
heard many noble things about Sir Walter Scott, but nothing that speaks
better for his generous, tender heart, than this little anecdote.
I should like to describe further this strange and charming place, but
I fear I have no room for any more descriptions of scenery. I will now
try to give you some idea of the fairy lore and superstitions of this
part of Ireland.
The fairies, or "good people," according to the belief of the peasants,
are not confined to any locality; they are all over the country,
wherever they can find pleasant, secluded nooks, flowers, and green
grass. Their meeting-places are said to be the "Raths," which are
singular artificial mounds, supposed to have been built by the Danes,
away back in the heathen ages. Fairies have the reputation of being in
general good-humored and kindly, though full of merry pranks and
frolicsome tricks; yet the peasants are very careful not to offend them
by intruding upon their haunts at night, or speaking disrespectfully of
their little mightinesses—for they say, "they have tempers of their
own, and not having a Christian idication, can't be blamed for not
behaving in a Christian-like fashion—poor craturs."
The Phooka is said to be a half-wicked, half-mischievous spirit, who
takes the form of many strange animals, but oftenest assumes that of a
wild horse. His great object then, is to get a rider, and when he has
persuaded a poor fellow to mount him, he never lets him off till he has
treated him to a ride long and hard enough to last him his lifetime.
Over bogs and moors, ditches and walls, across streams, up and down
mountains, he gallops, leaps, and plunges, making the welkin ring with
his horrible horse-laugh, and snorting fire from his nostrils.
There is a funny story told of one Jerry Deasy, who paid the Phooka
well for such a ride. The next night, he provided himself with a
"shillalah," or big stick, and put on a pair of sharp spurs, and when
the Phooka appeared, and invited him to take another little excursion,
he mounted, and so belabored the head and cut up the sides of the
beast, that he was quite subdued, and trotted home, with Jerry, to his
own cabin door.
The "Banshee" is a gloomy, foreboding spirit, of rather aristocratic
tastes, as she is only attached to highly respectable old families.
She never appears but to announce some great misfortune, or the death
of a member of the household. She does this by howling and shrieking
in the night; and sometimes, they say, she is seen—a tall, pale woman,
in long white robes, with black hair flying in the wind.
The most amusing of these supernatural creatures is the Leprehawn, or
Luriceen, or Clericaune, the brogue-maker of the "good people." This
fairy cobbler is said to have inexhaustible concealed treasure; and
sometimes, when he is busily at work, he is surprised and caught. Then
he can be made to give up his riches, if his captor keeps his eye fixed
on him all the time. But he is almost sure to divert attention, and
then is off like a flash. While we are on this subject, I will tell
you a little story.
TIM O'DALY AND THE CLERICAUNE.
Tim O'Daly was an under-gamekeeper upon Lord Powerscourt's estate, and
lived in a nice comfortable cottage, near the Dargle. He had a tidy,
thrifty, good-tempered wife, and half a dozen fine, hearty boys and
girls—the eldest nearly young men and women. Tim, himself, was honest
and industrious, and very much trusted by his master, and yet he was
not a happy man. He was discontented, because he was poor, and
obliged to work for a living. He longed for wealth and ease—to see
his wife ride in her carriage, and to make his sons and daughters
gentlemen and ladies. In short, he thought that riches were all that
was needed to put the O'Dalys where they deserved to be in the world,
and make them great and happy. So much did he think of these things,
that he was always on the look-out for the Clericaune, determined, if
ever he should see him, to catch him, and make him deliver up his
One evening, as he was going home through the Dargle, he sat down on a
mossy stone, and fell to thinking of his hard lot, and wondering what
Providence had against the O'Dalys, that he had not been made a lord,
or at least, a rich squire.
All at once, he heard the click, click, of the Clericaune's little
hammer on his lapstone! He rose softly—parted the bushes, and there
sat the wee brogue-maker, busily at work.
The next moment, Tim had him fast in his fist, and fast he held him,
till the elf showed him where his treasure was hid.
Then, after loading himself with gold and jewels, he set the fairy
free, and went home dancing and singing in a very strange and
indecorous way. The news and the treasure he brought set his sober
family wild with joy. They had a great feast and dance over it—all to
themselves, for they were grown too grand to associate with their poor
Then Tim went and bought a castle, a real old castle, from an
impoverished lord—with fine furniture, pictures, horses, hounds,
plate, wines, whiskey, and a famous Banshee, who lived in an old
turret, especially built for her accommodation.
Tim took his family to this castle, and set up a splendid style of
living. Nobody was troubled with work or care now, except in the
pursuit of pleasure; and yet, to poor Tim's astonishment, nobody was
happy. He was most miserable of all, for he found it hardest to get
used to rich clothes, rich food, authority, and idleness. His wife had
her carriage—but she was always driving about in it—never at home
with him. His daughters put on fine airs, with fine clothes, and
learned to despise their ignorant old father, His sons took to bad
company, drinking, rioting, and fox-chasing—and, as they did not know
much about riding, they were always getting tumbles, and breaking their
necks. His old friends were too humble to come near him in his
grandeur, and the gentry too proud to notice such a rough, vulgar
fellow, who had got rich in some sudden, suspicious way. He had hoped
that Lord Powerscourt, at least, would visit him, "for the sake of old
times, and out of neighborly feeling just,"—and Mrs. O'Daly counted
confidently on a "betther acquaintance with her Ladyship." "An' sure,"
she said, "our young folk will be mighty thick directly, and what
should hinder the young lord from taking a fancy to our Peggy? Arrah!
they would make an ilegant match, by raison of his height an' her
shortness,—an' thin, haven't they hair of the same lively shade of
But Lord Powerscourt, who had always been a kind and affable master,
seemed put upon the very tallest stilts of his dignity, when he met his
old servant now; and though he congratulated him on his good fortune,
never honored him with either a formal or friendly call—while Lady
Powerscourt and her daughters, who had often visited the cottage by the
Dargle, in times of sickness and trouble, were never seen driving up
the avenue of O'Daly Castle,—and as for the young lord, he went
abroad, about these days, and was lost to Miss Peggy O'Daly forever.
Tim's new neighbors laughed at him for his pretensions, and the
blunders his family made in "aping their betters,"—his servants
imposed on him, and there was nothing but coldness, discord, and wicked
waste in his grand old castle, so unlike the humble, happy home of the
Even the Banshee, in whom he had felt so much pride, was no
consolation; for, being indignant that low-born peasants had dared to
take the place of the ancient and noble family she had so long
patronized, she did nothing but howl about the castle, every night of
At length, things got to such a desperate pass, that Tim could endure
them no longer, but took the few fairy jewels and guineas that
remained, and went with them to the place where he had caught the
There he was again, and he looked up at Tim with a wicked twinkle in
his eye, for he knew, the rascal, what trouble unearned riches bring
upon one. Tim emptied his pockets of gold and precious stones, and
flung them at the little brogue-maker's head—crying out—
"There, take back yer dirty treasure, and bad luck to you, you spalpeen
of a fairy, for decaying a Christian!"
He threw with such force, that he flung himself off the stone—and
that woke him!
Yes, the capture of the Clericaune, his wealth, his grand castle, and
all his trouble were a dream. He got up and looked about him, a
little bewildered at first, but soon recollected himself, and set out
for home, a wiser and happier man than when he entered the Dargle that
It was late and supper was waiting for him. His good wife smiled when
he came in, and put by her sewing; his sons and daughters had all come
from their work or school, and greeted him affectionately. As he sat
down with them to their simple evening meal of bread, milk, and
potatoes, they noticed that he said grace with unusual fervor, and then
looked round upon them all with tears in his eyes.
His home was as humble as ever—but somehow, it had grown beautiful to
him, for the sunshine of contentment was over every thing. His wife
was as far from riding in her carriage, and his boys and girls from
being gentlemen and ladies, as ever; but he loved them and was proud of
them for their goodness and honesty, and he felt that God had done
better for them than he could do, with all the riches in the world.
Antrim—The Giant's Causeway.
THE POOR SCHOOLMASTER.
The county of Antrim is not only one of the most picturesque, but most
prosperous in all Ireland. It is also remarkable for being entirely
surrounded by water—by the ocean, Lough Neagh, and the rivers Bann and
Lagan. In this county vast quantities of flax are raised and
manufactured into linen—-chiefly at Belfast, the handsomest and most
important commercial town in the north of Ireland.
Belfast is particularly dear to me as a place where I spent many
pleasant days, with some warm-hearted Irish friends, whose constant
kindness and affectionate care made me feel as though my long voyage
across the stormy sea was only a troubled dream, and that I was still
at home, surrounded by the dear ones I had loved and clung to always.
In sight of this town is a large hill, which is remarkable for
presenting at a particular point of view, a most gigantic likeness to
the first Napoleon. Certain swells and ledges of the summit form the
great profile very distinctly. He seems to be lying on his back,
asleep, or in a meditative mood, and the face has such a dejected,
melancholy look that one might suppose the likeness had been taken when
the Emperor was a prisoner at St. Helena. There was one of the
Bonapartes at Belfast, at the time I was there—attending the meeting
of the British Association, a celebrated scientific society. This was
Lucien, Prince of Canino, a grand-nephew of the Emperor. He recognized
the likeness in the great rocky profile, when it was pointed out to
him, and professed to be a good deal affected by it, and many people
saw a strong family likeness between him and the old hill. This
Bonaparte, unlike most princes, is fond of learning and science—is
what is called a savant—but unlike most savants, he is stout and
jovial-looking, and extremely fond of children, which is the best thing
I can say for him.
Near Belfast is a famous "Druidical circle," or a large amphitheatre,
enclosed by high mounds of earth, where the ancient Druids used to meet
for their heathen worship. As we stood in that great circle, beside a
rude altar of stones, it made us shudder to think that hundreds of
human beings had probably been cruelly sacrificed there as offerings to
the gods of the Druids. What a happy, blessed thing it is to know that
such dreadful crimes can never again be committed here, under the name
I should like to tell you about some of the admirable charitable
institutions of Belfast—in which I became interested—and describe
some of the beautiful scenery of the neighborhood, but I have so many
things and places to speak of in this chapter, that I must not allow
myself to linger longer here.
While at Belfast, we made a delightful excursion to Shane's Castle, the
seat of Lord O'Neil.
The O'Neils were for many centuries kings of Ulster, and were a very
proud and warlike race. There is a curious tradition of the manner in
which they came into possession of their kingdom: "In an ancient
expedition for the conquest of Ireland, the leader declared that
whoever of his followers should first touch the shore, should possess
the territory. One of them, the founder of the O'Neils, seeing that
another boat was likely to reach the land before him, seized an axe and
with it cut off his left hand, which he flung on shore, and so, was the
first to 'touch' it."
Shane's Castle and the O'Neil estate are situated upon Lough Neagh, the
largest lake in Great Britain. There is a legend that this sheet of
water covers land that was once cultivated—cottages, castles, and even
villages. The peasants say that there was once a well in the midst of
this country—an enchanted well—which was always kept covered with a
heavy stone, lest its waters should rise and overwhelm the land. One
day, a careless woman went to this well to get water to boil her
potatoes in, and hearing her baby cry, ran home without waiting to
cover the well—which presently began to leap up in a great column,
like a water-spout of an under-ground sea—and poured out so fast and
furious, that before many hours the whole valley was overflowed, and
that night, the moon smiled to see herself reflected in a new lake.
On our route from Belfast to the Giant's Causeway, we passed through
several towns, of little importance now, though of some historical
note—such as Carrickfergus, Larne, and Glenarm. This last is a
beautifully situated town, with a pleasant little bay, which usually
affords a safe shelter for shipping on a coast somewhat renowned for
wrecks and disasters. Here is a fine castle—the seat of the ancient
family of the MacDonnels—Earls of Antrim.
Scarcely any thing in the world can be grander or more beautiful than
the coast road all the way from Glenarm to the Giant's Causeway. It is
altogether too fine to be described—it should be painted, not written
One of the grandest points in the scenery is the great promontory of
Benmore, or Fairhead. From the sea it rises an immense precipice,
formed of a multitude of enormous basaltic columns, at the highest
point more than five hundred feet above the water.
We reached the Causeway late in the evening—so hungry and tired that
we were very glad to get our supper and go to bed, without putting our
heads out of doors. In the morning early we engaged a guide, and set
out on our tour of sight-seeing.
The Causeway is formed by a vast collection of rocky columns—mostly as
regular in shape as though cut by masonry—five-sided, six-sided, seven
or eight-sided—piled and packed together, varying much in height, but
little in size. Some form a floor almost as even as a city
pavement—some form gradual steps leading down to the sea—and some
tower upward, like spires and turrets.
There is a very singular collection of these columns on the side of the
highest cliff, a hundred and twenty feet in height, called "the Giant's
Organ," from their resemblance to the pipes of that instrument.
According to tradition, the mighty Giant, Fin Mac Cual, was musical in
his taste, and used to give himself "a little innocent divarsion" here,
after his hard labors in building the Causeway. Even now, when the sea
roars, and the deep thunder rolls along the rocky coast, they say—"the
giant is playing on his big stone organ under the cliff."
Sometimes they say,—"Listen to Fin, now!—he's at his avening
devotions—Heaven help us, an' him, poor cratur!" and then they cross
themselves, for Fin was but a miserable heathen, and can have no part
now, they think, in the true church.
By the way, I was told while here, a ludicrous little anecdote of the
great Fin, from which it seems that he was not, after all, quite as
brave as a giant should be. It is said that when he had finished the
Causeway, he went up on a high point and shouted across the channel to
the Scotch Giant, Benandonner, to come over and fight him, if he dared.
Bold Benandonner accepted the challenge, and began to wade
across—threatening and bullying his Irish enemy. As he drew near, he
seemed to grow so much bigger, that Fin got frightened, and turned and
ran into his house, which stood near the cliff.
"What's the matter, Fin?" said his wife, who saw what a tremble he was
in, and how pale he looked.
"Ah, my darling," said he, "there's big Benandonner coming over to have
a fight—and as I'm not very well to-day, I don't like to meet him."
Now, Mrs. Mac Cual was really very much ashamed of her husband for
being such a booby; but like the good wife she was, she kept her
contempt to herself, just then, and told him to lie down in the cradle,
and keep quiet, and she would attend to the Scotch Giant. Fin did as
he was bid—his wife covered him up in the cradle, and commenced
rocking and singing to him. Presently, Benandonner came stamping and
storming in, and asked for "that rascal, Fin Mac Cual."
"If you'll please sit down and rock my baby a minute—I'll go and look
for him," said Mrs. Mac Cual. Benandonner looked down into the cradle,
and seeing that enormous giant lying there, with his feet hanging over
the foot-board, thought to himself, "if Fin's baby is so big, what must
Fin himself be!"—and became so frightened that he turned and hurried
back home, much quicker than he came. It is a foolish little
tradition, but I have related it as a specimen of the stories which are
told to amuse the children of Irish peasants.
There are two caves near the Causeway, which are entered from the sea.
Our visits to these were the most interesting and exciting incidents of
the day. Though the waves ran high, our skilful boatmen rowed us
safely in—and though the roar of the sea and the reverberation of some
fire-arms discharged by the guides, were rather awful, we certainly
enjoyed the sight of those ocean temples, gloomy, rude, and jagged
though they were.
From the Causeway we went to Dunluce Castle—a grand old ruin, which
stands on an insulated rock, a hundred feet above the sea. It is
separated from the land by a chasm twenty feet wide, which is crossed
by an arch only about eighteen inches broad.
This castle was once the stronghold of a very powerful, proud, and
warlike family—the Mac Donnels. They had a whole regiment of
retainers; they had their bard, an elderly gentleman, with a long white
beard, who spent most of his time in singing songs in praise of their
glory and great exploits, to the music of a rude harp—and they had
their Banshee, who occupied a choice apartment in one of the turrets,
and doubtless howled as seldom as possible. But all this glory has
passed away, and now, the rooks and sea-birds have the famous old
castle all to themselves—wheel fearlessly about the lofty black
precipices, and scream back the shrillest shriek of the storm-winds.
Now, no bard, however poor, ever visits that once hospitable hall, to
"sing for his supper," and even the gloomy Banshee has retired from her
turret in disgust.
A branch of the Mac Donnels clung to the haunted, dilapidated, old
castle as long as possible, to keep up the family credit, I suppose.
It was within this century, I think, that a frightful accident
happened, which drove the last of them away. In a terrible storm, one
winter afternoon, the part of the castle containing the kitchen was
blown down, and tumbled over the precipice into the sea, with the
family stores of meat and potatoes, and Biddy, the cook, who was
preparing dinner, and Teddy, the little scullion, who was turning the
spit. The Mac Donnels, for all their pride, were shocked and afflicted
by this misfortune,—for Biddy was an excellent cook, and Teddy, her
son, though careless and lazy, and given to little thefts and large
stories, had his good points, as what Irish boy has not. So they, the
Mac Donnels, sought out some other home,—safer and more comfortable,
if not quite so grand in its isolated, ancient gentility,—and it may
be, took the Banshee with them for their comfort. Trouble, I believe,
always goes with people in this world, wherever they move to,—in some
form or other, it travels with them, and settles down with them,—as
sorrow, ill-luck, disease, disgrace, discontent, fear, or remorse,—and
if we may credit Irish traditions, the old nobility and gentry had to
endure howling Banshees in addition. No wonder they wasted away under
their aristocratic infliction.
In my story, I shall make bold to turn my back on the Causeway, Dunluce
Castle, the Mac Donnels, Banshees, and all,—return to the beautiful
neighborhood of Glenarm, and relate a little incident in the lives of
some humble peasant people there.
THE POOR SCHOOLMASTER.
Some forty or fifty years ago, there lived at Glenarm, near the castle,
a poor schoolmaster, named Philip O'Flaherty.
Philip, though a very quiet, well meaning man, was singularly
unfortunate in all but one thing—he had an excellent wife. Yet she,
poor woman, was but "a weakly body," while, as for Philip, if any
sickness whatever was going about, he was sure to catch it. He was a
sort of Irish "Murad the Unlucky," nothing seemed to prosper with him.
His potatoe-crop always fell short—if he took a fancy to keep a few
ducks, or geese, a thieving fox carried them on—his pigs ran away, and
he had not even "the poor man's blessing"—children, to comfort him.
One after another, his babes were borne to the churchyard, and his
cabin was left silent and lonely.
Poor Philip, though a schoolmaster, was not very remarkable for
learning. In truth, he was a good deal behind the times, and his few
scholars, if at all clever, soon got beyond him, and left him. When
his wife was well, she did more than her part toward their support, and
when she was ill, they fared very poorly, I assure you.
One September night, Philip and his wife sat alone in their cabin, more
than usually dejected and sorrowful. They had just buried their last
child—a baby-boy, only a few months old, but as dear to them as though
he had grown to their hearts for years.
There was a terrible storm on the coast that night; the winds almost
shook their old cabin to pieces, and torrents of rain were fast
quenching the peat fire upon the hearth. Suddenly they were startled
by hearing the sound of a gun, above the roaring of the sea. "There's
a ship in distress!" cried Philip—"God help the poor creatures, for
it's an awful night to be on the deep!" "Amen!" said Nelly, solemnly.
Soon after they heard the shouts of fishermen and cottagers, hurrying
to the shore, and, protecting themselves as well as they could, they
joined their neighbors—hoping to do some good upon the beach.
They arrived just in time to see the distressed vessel dashed upon a
rock, and to witness a still more dreadful sight—the falling of a bolt
of fire, from the black sky, right on to the ship—which in a few
moments was enveloped in flames! No boatman, however brave, dared put
out through the wild breakers to rescue the passengers and crew—and in
the morning it was announced along that coast, that an unknown ship had
gone down, in storm and fire, with every soul on board! But no—one
little babe had been taken from the arms of its dead mother, and though
apparently lifeless, was restored, by Nelly O'Flaherty, the
schoolmaster's wife, who took it home to her cabin, where it was doing
well. There was no mark upon the few fragments of clothing which
remained upon the mother and child, when they reached the shore, by
which it could be told who or what they were—but they both had a
delicate look, which made the peasants think that they belonged to "the
Nelly took the poor foundling at once to her heart—clad him in her
dead baby's clothes, and would not hear to his being taken to the
almshouse. "God," she said, "knew what was the best almshouse for the
pretty little cherub, when He sent it to cheer the lone cabin of the
As a matter of course, unlucky Philip took cold from the exposure of
that stormy night, and had one of his fevers, which confined him
several weeks. The first day that he was able to get out, he walked
down to the bay, with his wife, to say good-bye to some friends, who
were going to America. After the ship had set sail, they sat for a
long time on the shore, watching it sadly and silently. "Ah, Nelly,"
said Philip at last, "if it weren't for my faver and your being
burdened with that strange baby, sure we might work and earn enough to
take us to America. Faith, that shipwreck was a misfortune to us,
"Sure, and it was no such thing," said Nelly; "what's a faver more or
less to you, avourneen; and has it not given us a beautiful boy, to
take the place of our little dead Phil? 'Twas the Lord sent him, and
He'll not let him bring us any trouble."
"The Lord,—why, Nelly, woman, do you suppose He ever busies himself
with the likes of us?" said the schoolmaster, bitterly.
"Philip, avick, what do you mean?" exclaimed Nelly, in astonishment.
"I mean," replied her husband, "that our cabin is so small and poor,
and the castle near by so big and grand, that it's natural Providence
should overlook us just, and attend to the affairs of the quality.
It's the way of the world."
"It may be the way of the world, but it's no the way with God, Philip.
Our cabin is bigger than a sparrow's nest, afther all, and we—even
you, miserable sinner, as ye are, 'are of more value than many
sparrows.' 'The likes of us,' indade! Have ye ever come yet to
sleeping in a stable in Bethlehem, among cows and sheep and asses?
Answer me that! Ah, it's ashamed of you, I am, Philip O'Flaherty."
The next morning, this poor couple sat down to a breakfast of only half
a dozen potatoes and a little salt.
"Philip, dear," said Nelly, sadly, when they had finished, "these are
our last potatoes—I have sold all the rest to pay our rent, and the
Doctor's little account, just."
"Blessed Saints!" exclaimed Philip, "what'll we do?"
"I'm afraid we must ask charity, till we can get work," said Nelly.
"No, no! I can't do that! I will die first!" cried Philip; then
laying his face down on the table, he burst into tears and sobbed
out—"Oh Nelly, darling, I wish I were dead and out of your way!—sure
I'm no use in the world."
Nelly clasped the "strange baby" to her heart and murmured—"God help
us!" Just at that moment, there came a knock at the cabin door—she
opened it and dropped a respectful curtesy. It was the Earl, and a
gentleman in mourning, who as soon as he saw the baby that Nelly held,
caught it in his arms and began kissing it, and weeping over it, crying
out that he had found his boy! The Earl explained that the stranger
was a kinsman of his, a Scotch Laird, whose wife had been lost in the
wreck, a few weeks before, while on her way to visit her relatives at
the castle, with her child and servants. He said, they had not
received the letter announcing her coming—so had not thought of
looking for friends among the drowned and burned who were washed ashore
after the wreck; but they had heard of the child so miraculously saved,
and hoped that it might be their kinsman's son.
When Nelly fully realized that she must lose her adopted child, she
fell at the feet of the father, crying with tears and sobs,—"Oh, sir,
I cannot let him go! I warmed him out of the death-chill at my
heart—I gave him my own dead darling's place! It will kill me, just,
to part with him!"
"And you shall not part with him, my good woman," said the Laird—"the
child must have a nurse—he should have none but you. I will take you
and your husband with me to Scotland, if you will come!"
So, to make a long story short, the poor schoolmaster and his wife were
provided with a comfortable home for the rest of their days, for their
kindness to the little shipwrecked boy, who was always dear to them,
and always returned their love.
Many others may adopt poor foundlings and care for them tenderly, and
yet never have rich lords come to claim their charges and reward them
so generously; but the Lord of all will not fail to ask for his "little
ones" at last,—and to those who do good to "the least of these" He has
promised rewards more glorious than the greatest earthly monarch could
give—and He will keep his word.
Here end my stories and legends of dear old Ireland. I returned from
visiting the Causeway, to Belfast, from which place, after a few weeks
of rest and quiet social enjoyment, I passed over to Scotland. And
now, may I not hope that all the dear young readers who have gone with
me thus far, in my wanderings, will wish to bear me company yet
further? In another volume, I will describe what I saw, and tell
appropriate histories and legends of the rugged, but beautiful land of
Wallace and Bruce—of Burns and Scott. So, for the present, I will
only bid you a short farewell—or as the French say, when they part
with the hope of meeting again—au revoir.