Phelim O'toole's Courtship
by William Carleton
Phelim O'Toole, who had the honor of being that interesting personage, an
only son, was heir to a snug estate of half an acre, which had been the
family patrimony since the time of his grandfather, Tyrrell O'Toole, who
won it from the Sassenah at the point of his reaping-hook, during a
descent once made upon England by a body of "spalpeens," in the month of
August. This resolute little band was led on by Tyrrell, who, having
secured about eight guineas by the excursion, returned to his own country,
with a coarse linen travelling-bag slung across his shoulder, a new hat in
one hand, and a staff in the other. On reaching once more his native
village of Teernarogarah, he immediately took half an acre, for which he
paid a moderate rent in the shape of daily labor as a cotter. On this he
resided until death, after which event he was succeeded by his son, Larry
O'Toole, the father of the "purty boy" who is about to shine in the
Phelim's father and mother had been married near seven years without the
happiness of a family. This to both was a great affliction. Sheelah
O'Toole was melancholy from night to morning, and Larry was melancholy
from morning to night. Their cottage was silent and solitary; the floor
and furniture had not the appearance of any cottage in which Irish
children are wont to amuse themselves. When they rose in the morning, a
miserable stillness prevailed around them; young voices were not heard—laughing
eyes turned not on their parents—the melody of angry squabbles, as
the urchins, in their parents' fancy, cuffed and scratched each other—half,
or wholly naked among the ashes in the morning, soothed not the yearning
hearts of Larry and his wife. No, no; there was none of this.
Morning passed in a quietness hard to be borne: noon arrived, but the
dismal dreary sense of childlessness hung upon the house and their hearts;
night again returned, only to add its darkness to that which overshadowed
the sorrowful spirits of this disconsolate couple.
For the first two or three years, they bore this privation with a strong
confidence that it would not last. The heart, however, sometimes becomes
tired of hoping, or unable to bear the burthen of expectation, which time
only renders heavier. They first began to fret and pine, then to murmur,
and finally to recriminate.
Sheelah wished for children, "to have the crathurs to spake to," she said,
"and comfort us when we'd get ould an' helpless."
Larry cared not, provided they had a son to inherit the "half acre." This
was the burthen of his wishes, for in all their altercations, his closing
observation usually was—"well, but what's to become of the half
"What's to become of the half acre? Arrah what do I care for the half
acre? It's not that you ought to be thinkin' of, but the dismal poor house
we have, wid not the laugh or schreech of a single pastiah (*
child) in it from year's end to year's end."
"Well, yourself, Larry? To the diouol I pitch your half acre, man."
"To the diouol you—pitch—What do you fly at me for?"
"Who's flyin' at you? They'd have little tow on their rock that 'ud fly at
"You are flyin' at me; an' only you have a hard face, you wouldn't do it."
"A hard face! Indeed it's well come over wid us, to be tould that by the
likes o' you! ha!"
"No matther for that! You had betther keep a soft tongue in your head, an'
a civil one, in the mane time. Why did the divil timpt you to take a fancy
to me at all?"
"That's it. Throw the grah an' love I once had for you in my
teeth, now. It's a manly thing for you to do, an' you may be proud, of it.
Dear knows, it would be betther for me I had fell in consate wid any face
"I wish to goodness you had! I wouldn't be as I am to-day. There's that
"To the diouol, I say, I pitch yourself an' your half acre! Why do you be
comin' acrass me wid your half acre? Eh?—why do you?"
"Come now; don't be puttin' your hands agin your sides, an waggin' your
impty head at me, like a rockin' stone."
"An' why do you be aggravatin' at me wid your half acre?"
"Bekase I have a good right to do it. What'll become of it when I d—"
"——That for you an' it, you poor excuse!"
"When I di—"
"——That for you an' it, I say! That for you an' it, you
"What'll become of my half acre when I die? Did you hear that?"
"You ought to think of what'll become of yourself, when you die; that's
what you ought to think of; but little it throubles you, you sinful
reprobate! Sure the neighbors despises you."
"That's falsity; but they know the life I lade wid you. The edge of your
tongue's well known. They pity me, for bein' joined to the likes of you.
Your bad tongue's all you're good for."
"Aren't you afeard to be flyin' in the face o' Providence the way you are?
An' to be ladin' me sich a heart-scalded life for no rason?"
"It's your own story you're tellin'. Sure I haven't a day's pace wid you,
or ever had these three years. But wait till next harvest, an' if I'm
spared, I'll go to England. Whin I do, I've a consate in my head, that
you'll never see my face agin."
"Oh, you know that's an' ould story wid you. Many a time you threatened us
wid that afore. Who knows but you'd be dhrowned on your way, an' thin we'd
get another husband."
"An' be these blessed tongs, I'll do it afore I'm much oulder!"
"An' lave me here to starve an' sthruggle by myself! Desart me like a
villain, to poverty an' hardship! Marciful Mother of Heaven, look down
upon me this day! but I'm the ill-thrated, an' ill-used poor crathur, by a
man that I don't, an' never did, desarve it from! An' all in regard that
that 'half acre' must go to strangers! Och! oh!"
"Ay! now take to the cryin', do; rock yourself over the ashes, an' wipe
your eyes wid the corner of your apron; but, I say agin, what's to
become of the half acre?"
"Oh, God forgive you, Larry! That's the worst I say to you, you poor
"Why do you massacray me wid your tongue as you do?"
"Go. an—go an. I won't make you an answer, you atomy! That's what
I'll do. The heavens above turn your heart this day, and give me strinth
to bear my throubles an' heart burnin', sweet Queen o' Consolation! Or
take me into the arms of Parodies, sooner nor be as I am, wid a poor baste
of a villain, that I never turn my tongue on, barrin' to tell him the kind
of a man he is, the blaguard!"
"You're betther than you desarve to be!"
To this, Sheelah made no further reply; on the contrary, she sat smoking
her pipe with a significant silence, that was only broken by an occasional
groan, an ejaculation, or a singularly devout upturning of the eyes to
heaven, accompanied by a shake of the head, at once condemnatory and
philosophical; indicative of her dissent from what he said, as well as of
her patience in bearing it.
Larry, however, usually proceeded to combat all her gestures by viva voce
argument; for every shake of her head he had an appropriate answer: but
without being able to move her from the obstinate silence she maintained.
Having thus the field to himself, and feeling rather annoyed by the want
of an antagonist, he argued on in the same form of dispute, whilst she,
after first calming her own spirit by the composing effects of the pipe,
usually cut him short with—
"Here, take a blast o' this, maybe it'll settle you."
This was received in silence. The good man smoked on, and every puff
appeared, as an evaporation of his anger. In due time he was as placid as
herself, drew his breath in a grave composed manner, laid his pipe quietly
on the hob, and went about his business as if nothing had occurred between
These bickerings were strictly private, with the exception of some
disclosures made to Sheelah's mother and sisters. Even these were thrown
out rather as insinuations that all was not right, than as direct
assertions that they lived unhappily. Before strangers they were perfect
Larry, according to the notices of his life furnished by Sheelah, was "as
good a husband as ever broke the world's bread;" and Sheelah "was as good
a poor man's wife as ever threw a gown over her shoulders."
Notwithstanding all this caution, their little quarrels took wind; their
unhappiness became known. Larry, in consequence of a failing he had, was
the cause of this. He happened to be one of those men who can conceal
nothing when in a state of intoxication. Whenever he indulged in liquor
too freely, the veil which discretion had drawn over their recriminations
was put aside, and a dolorous history of their weaknesses, doubts, hopes,
and wishes, most unscrupulously given to every person on whom the
complainant could fasten. When sober, he had no recollection of this, so
that many a conversation of cross-purposes took place between him and his
neighbors, with reference to the state of his own domestic inquietude, and
their want of children.
One day a poor mendicant came in at dinner hour, and stood as if to
solicit alms. It is customary in Ireland, when any person of that
description appears during meal times, to make him wait until the meal is
over, after which he is supplied with the fragments. No sooner had the
boccagh—as a certain class of beggars is termed—advanced past
the jamb, than he was desired to sit until the dinner should be concluded.
In the mean time, with the tact of an adept in his calling, he began to
ingratiate himself with Larry and his wife; and after sounding the simple
couple upon their private history, he discovered that want of children was
the occasion of their unhappiness.
"Well good people," said the pilgrim, after listening to a dismal story on
the subject, "don't be cast down, sure, whether or not. There's a Holy
Well that I can direct yez to in the county—. Any one, wid trust in
the Saint that's over it, who'll make a pilgrimage to it on the Patthern
day, won't be the worse for it. When you go there," he added, "jist turn
to a Lucky Stone that's at the side of the well, say a Rosary before it,
and at the end of every dicken (decade) kiss it once, ache of you. Then
you're to go round the well nine times, upon your bare knees, sayin' your
Pathers and Avers all the time. When that's over, lave a ribbon or a bit
of your dress behind you, or somethin' by way of an offerin', thin go into
a tent an' refresh yourselves, an' for that matther, take a dance or two;
come home, live happily, an' trust to the holy saint for the rest."
A gleam of newly awakened hope might be discovered lurking in the eyes of
this simple pair, who felt that natural yearning of the, heart incident to
such as are without offspring.
They looked forward with deep anxiety to the anniversary of the Patron
Saint; and when it arrived, none certainly who attended it, felt a more
absorbing interest in the success of the pilgrimage than they did.
The days on which these pilgrimages are performed at such places are
called Pattern or Patron days. The journey to holy wells or holy lakes is
termed a Pilgrimage, or more commonly a Station. It is sometimes enjoined
by the priest, as an act of penance; and sometimes undertaken voluntarily,
as a devotional, work of great merit in the sight of God. The crowds in
many places amount to from five hundred to a thousand, and often to two,
three, four, or five thousand people.
These Stations have, for the most part, been placed in situations
remarkable for wild and savage grandeur, or for soft, exquisite, and
generally solitary beauty. They may be found on the high and rugged
mountain top; or sunk in the bottom of some still and lonely glen, far
removed from the ceaseless din of the world. Immediately beside them, or
close in their vicinity, stand the ruins of probably a picturesque old
abbey, or perhaps a modern chapel. The appearance of these gray,
ivy-covered walls is strongly calculated to stir up in the minds of the
people the memory of bygone times, when their religion, with its imposing
solemnities, was the religion of the land. It is for this reason,
probably, that patrons are countenanced; for if there be not a political
object in keeping them up, it is beyond human ingenuity to conceive how
either religion or morals can be improved by debauchery, drunkenness, and
Let the reader, in order to understand the situation of the place we are
describing, imagine to himself a stupendous cliff overhanging a green
glen, into which tumbles a silver stream down a height of two or three
hundred feet. At the bottom of this rock, a few yards from the basin
formed by the cascade, in a sunless nook, was a well of cool, delicious
water. This was the "Holy Well," out of which issued a slender stream,
that joined the rivulet formed by the cascade. On the shrubs which grew
out of the crag-cliffs around it, might be seen innumerable rags bleached
by the weather out of their original color, small wooden crosses, locks of
human hair, buttons, and other substitutes for property; poverty allowing
the people to offer it only by fictitious emblems. Lower down in the glen,
on the river's bank, was a smooth green, admirably adapted for the dance,
which, notwithstanding the religious rites, is the heart and soul of a
On that morning a vast influx of persons, male and female, old and young,
married and single, crowded eagerly towards the well. Among them might be
noticed the blind, the lame, the paralytic, and such as were afflicted
with various other diseases; nor were those good men and their wives who
had no offspring to be omitted. The mendicant, the pilgrim, the boccagh,
together with every other description of impostors, remarkable for
attending such places, were the first on the ground, all busy in their
respective vocations. The highways, the fields, and the boreens, or
bridle-roads, were filled with living streams of people pressing forward
to this great scene of fun and religion. The devotees could in general be
distinguished from the country folks by their Pharisaical and penitential
visages, as well as by their not wearing shoes; for the Stations to such
places were formerly made with bare feet: most persons now, however,
content themselves with stripping off their shoes and stockings on coming
within the precincts of the holy ground. Human beings are not the only
description of animals that perform pilgrimages to holy wells and blessed
lakes. Cows, horses, and sheep are made to go through their duties, either
by way of prevention, or cure, of the diseases incident to them. This is
not to be wondered at, when it is known that in their religion every
domestic animal has its patron saint, to whom its owner may at any time
pray on its behalf. When the crowd was collected, nothing in the shape of
an assembly could surpass it in the originality of its appearance. In the
glen were constructed a number of tents, where whiskey and refreshments
might be had in abundance. Every tent had a fiddler or a piper; many two
of them. From the top of the pole that ran up from the roof of each tent,
was suspended the symbol by which the owner of it was known by his friends
and acquaintances. Here swung a salt herring or a turf; there a shillelah;
in a third place a shoe, in a fourth place a whisp of hay, in a fifth an
old hat, and so on with the rest.
The tents stood at a short distance from the scene of devotion at the
well, but not so far as to prevent the spectator from both seeing and
hearing what went on in each. Around the well, on bare knees, moved a body
of people thickly wedged together, some praying, some screaming, some
excoriating their neighbors' shins, and others dragging them out of their
way by the hair of the head. Exclamations of pain from the sick or lame,
thumping oaths in Irish, recriminations in broken English, and prayers in
bog Latin, all rose at once to the ears of the patron saint, who, we are
inclined to think—could he have heard or seen his worshippers—would
have disclaimed them altogether.
"For the sake of the Holy Virgin, keep your sharp elbows out o' my ribs."
"My blessin' an you, young man, an' don't be lanin' an me, i' you plase!"
"Damnho sherry orth a rogarah ruah!* what do you mane? Is it my
back you're brakin'?"
* Eternal perdition on you, you red rogue.
"Hell pershue you, you ould sinner, can't you keep the spike of your
crutch out o' my stomach! If you love me tell me so; but, by the livin'
farmer, I'll take no such hints as that!"
"I'm a pilgrim, an' don't brake my leg upon the rock, an' my blessin' an
"Oh, murdher sheery! my poor child'll be smothered!"
"My heart's curse an you! is it the ould cripple you're trampin' over?"
"Here, Barny, blood alive, give this purty young girl a lift, your sowl,
or she'll soon be undhermost!"
"'Och, 'twas on a Christmas mornin'
That Jeroosillim was born in
The Holy Land'——'
"Oh, my neck's broke!—the curse——Oh! I'm kilt fairly, so
I am! The curse o' Cromwell an you, an' hould away—
'The Holy Land adornin'
All by the Baltic Say.
The angels on a Station,
Wor takin' raycrayation,
All in deep meditation,
All by the'——
contints o' the book if you don't hould away, I say agin, an' let me go on
wid my rann it'll be worse force for you!—
'Wor takin' raycraytion,
All by the Baltic Say!"
"Help the ould woman there."
"Queen o' Patriots pray for us!—St. Abraham——go to the
divil, you bosthoon; is it crushin' my sore leg you are?—St. Abraham
pray for us! St. Isinglass, pray for us! St. Jonathan,——musha,
I wisht you wor in America, honest man, instid o' twistin' my arm like a
gad f— St. Jonathan, pray for us; Holy Nineveh, look down upon us
wid compression an' resolution this day. Blessed Jerooslim, throw down
compuncture an' meditation upon us Chrystyeens assembled here afore you to
offer up our sins! Oh, grant us, blessed Catasthrophy, the holy virtues of
Timptation an' Solitude, through the improvement an' accommodation of St.
Kolumbdyl! To him I offer up this button, a bit o' the waistband o' my own
breeches, an' a taste of my wife's petticoat, in remimbrance of us having
made this holy Station; an' may they rise up in glory to prove it for us
at the last day! Amin!"
Such was the character of the prayers and ejaculations which issued from
the lips of the motley group that scrambled, and crushed, and screamed, on
their knees around the well. In the midst of this ignorance and absurdity,
there were visible, however, many instances of piety, goodness of heart,
and simplicity of character. From such you could hear neither oath nor
exclamation. They complied with the usages of the place modestly and
attentively: though not insensible, at the same time, to the strong
disgust which the general conduct of those who were both superstitious and
wicked was calculated to excite. A little from the well, just where its
waters mingled with those of the cascade, men and women might be seen
washing the blood off their knees, and dipping such parts of their body as
Were afflicted with local complaints into the stream. This part' of the
ceremony was anything but agreeable to the eye. Most of those who went
round the well drank its waters; and several of them filled flasks and
bottles with it, which they brought home for the benefit of such members
of the family as could not attend in person.
Whilst all this went forward at the well, scenes of a different kind were
enacted lower down among the tents. No sooner had the penitents got the
difficult rites of the Station over, than they were off to the whiskey;
and decidedly, after the grinding of their bare knees upon the hard rock—after
the pushing, crushing, and exhaustion of bodily strength which they had
been forced to undergo—we say, that the comforts and refreshments to
be had in the tents were very seasonable. Here the dancing, shouting,
singing, courting, drinking, and fighting, formed one wild uproar of
noise, that was perfectly astounding. The leading boys and the prettiest
girls of the parish were all present, partaking in the rustic revelry.
Tipsy men were staggering in every direction; fiddles were playing, pipes
were squeaking, men were rushing in detached bodies to some fight, women
were doctoring the heads of such as had been beaten, and factions were
collecting their friends for a fresh battle. Here you might see a grove of
shillelahs up, and hear the crash of the onset; and in another place, the
heads of the dancing parties bobbing up and down in brisk motion among the
crowd that surrounded them.
The pilgrim, having now gone through his Station, stood hemmed in by a
circle of those who wanted to purchase his beads or his scapulars. The
ballad-singer had his own mob, from among whom his voice might be heard
rising in its purest tones to the praise of—
"Brave O'Connell, the Liberathur,
An' great Salvathur of Ireland's Isle!"
As evening approached, the whiskey brought out the senseless prejudices of
parties and factions in a manner quite consonant to the habits of the
people. Those who, in deciding their private quarrels, had in the early
part of the day beat and abused each other, now united as the subordinate
branches of a greater party, for the purpose of opposing in one general
body some other hostile faction. These fights are usually commenced by a
challenge from one party to another, in which a person from the opposite
side is simply, and often very good-humoredly, invited to assert, that
"black is the white of his enemy's eye;" or to touch the old coat which he
is pleased to trail after him between the two opposing powers. This
characteristic challenge is soon accepted; the knocking down and yelling
are heard; stones fly, and every available weapon is pressed into the
service on both sides. In this manner the battle proceeds, until,
probably, a life or two is lost. Bones, too, are savagely broken, and
blood copiously spilled, by men who scarcely know the remote cause of the
enmity between the parties.
Such is a hasty sketch of the Pattern, as it is called in Ireland, at
which Larry and Sheelah duly performed their station. We, for our parts,
should be sorry to see the innocent pastimes of a people abolished; but,
surely, customs which perpetuate scenes of profligacy and crime should not
be suffered to stain the pure and holy character of religion.
It is scarcely necessary to inform our readers that Larry O'Toole and
Sheelah complied with every rite of the Station. To kiss the "Lucky
Stone," however, was their principal duty. Larry gave it a particularly
honest smack, and Sheelah impressed it with all the ardor of a devotee.
Having refreshed themselves in the tent, they returned home, and, in
somewhat less than a year from that period, found themselves the happy
parents of an heir to the half-acre, no less a personage than young
Phelim, who was called after St. Phelim, the patron of the "Lucky Stone."
The reader perceives that Phelim was born under particularly auspicious
influence. His face was the herald of affection everywhere.
From the moment of his birth, Larry and Sheelah were seldom known to have
a dispute. Their whole future life was, with few exceptions, one
unchanging honeymoon. Had Phelim been deficient in comeliness, it would
have mattered not a crona baun. Phelim, on the contrary, promised
to be a beauty; both, his parents thought it, felt it, asserted it; and
who had a better right to be acquainted, as Larry said, "wid the outs an'
ins, the ups an' downs of his face, the darlin' swaddy!"
For the first ten years of his life Phelim could not be said to owe the
tailor much; nor could the covering which he wore be, without more
antiquarian loire than we can give to it, exactly classed under any
particular term by which the various parts of human dress are known. He
himself, like some of our great poets, was externally well acquainted with
the elements. The sun and he were particularly intimate; wind and rain
were his brothers, and frost also distantly related to him. With mud he
was hand and glove, and not a bog in the parish, or a quagmire in the
neighborhood, but sprung up under Phelim's tread, and threw him forward
with the brisk vibration of an old acquaintance. Touching his dress,
however, in the early part of his life, if he was clothed with nothing
else, he was clothed with mystery. Some assert that a cast-off pair of his
father's nether garments might be seen upon him each Sunday, the wrong
side foremost, in accommodation with some economy of his mother's, who
thought it safest, in consequence of his habits, to join them in this
inverted way to a cape which he wore on his shoulders. We ourselves have
seen one, who saw another, who saw Phelim in a pair of stockings which
covered him from his knee-pans to his haunches, where, in the absence of
waistbands, they made a pause—a breach existing from that to the
small of his back. The person who saw all this affirmed, at the same time,
that there was a dearth of cloth about the skirts of the integument which
stood him instead of a coat. He bore no bad resemblance, he said, to-a
moulting fowl, with scanty feathers, running before a gale in the farm
Phelim's want of dress in his merely boyish years being, in a great
measure, the national costume of some hundred thousand young Hibernians in
his rank of life, deserves a still more, particular notice. His infancy we
pass over; but from the period at which he did not enter into small
clothes, he might be seen every Sunday morning, or on some important
festival, issuing from his father's mansion, with a piece of old cloth
tied about him from the middle to the knees, leaving a pair of legs
visible, that were mottled over with characters which would, if found on
an Egyptian pillar, put an antiquary to the necessity of constructing a
new alphabet to decipher them. This, or the inverted breeches, with his
father's flannel waistcoat, or an old coat that swept the ground at least
two feet behind him, constituted his state dress. On week days he threw
off this finery, and contented himself, if the season were summer, with
appearing in a dun-colored shirt, which resembled a noun-substantive, for
it could stand alone. The absence of soap and water is sometimes used as a
substitute for milling linen among the lower Irish; and so effectually had
Phelim's single change been milled in this manner, that, when
disenshirting at night, he usually laid it standing at his bedside where
it reminded one of frosted linen in everything but whiteness.
This, with but little variation, was Phelim's dress until his tenth year.
Long before that, however, he evinced those powers of attraction which
constituted so remarkable a feature in his character. He won all hearts;
the chickens and ducks were devotedly attached to him; the cow, which the
family always intended to buy, was in the habit of licking Phelim in his
dreams; the two goats which they actually did buy, treated him like I one
of themselves. Among the first and last he spent a great deal of his early
life; for as the floor of his father's house was but a continuation of the
dunghill, or the dunghill a continuation of the floor, we know not rightly
which, he had a larger scope, and a more unsavory pool than usual, for
amusement. Their dunghill, indeed, was the finest of it size and kind to
be seen; quite a tasteful thing, and so convenient, that he could lay
himself down at the hearth, and roll out to its foot, after which he
ascended it on his legs, with all the elasticity of a young poet
triumphantly climbing Parnassus.
One of the greatest wants which Phelim experienced in his young days, was
the want of a capacious pocket. We insinuate nothing; because with respect
to his agility in climbing fruit-trees, it was only a species of exercise
to which he was addicted—the eating and carrying away of the fruit
being merely incidental, or, probably, the result of abstraction, which,
as every one knows, proves what is termed "the Absence of Genius." In
these ambitious exploits, however, there is no denying that he bitterly
regretted the want of a pocket; and in connection with this we have only
to add, that most of his solitary walks were taken about orchards and
gardens, the contents of which he has been often seen to contemplate with
deep interest. This, to be sure, might proceed from a provident regard to
health, for it is a well-known fact that he has frequently returned home
in the evenings, distended like a Boa-Constrictor after a gorge; yet no
person was ever able to come at the cause of his inflation. There were, to
be sure, suspicions abroad, and it was mostly found that depredations in
some neighboring orchard or garden had been committed a little before the
periods in which it was supposed the distention took place. Wo mention
these things after the example of those "d——d good-natured"
biographers who write great men's lives of late, only for the purpose of
showing that there could be no truth in such suspicions. Phelim, we assure
an enlightened public, was voraciously fond of fruit; he was frequently
inflated, too, after the manner of those who indulge therein to excess;
fruit was always missed immediately after the periods of his distention,
so that it was impossible he could have been concerned in the depredations
then made upon the neighboring orchards. In addition to this, we would beg
modestly to add, that the pomonian temperament is incompatible with the
other qualities for which he was famous. His parents were too ignorant of
those little eccentricities which, had they known them, would have opened
up a correct view of the splendid materials for village greatness which he
possessed, and which, probably, were nipped in their bud for the want of a
pocket to his breeches, or rather by the want of a breeches to his pocket;
for such was the wayward energy of his disposition, that he ultimately
succeeded in getting the latter, though it certainly often failed him to
procure the breeches. In fact, it was a misfortune to him that he was the
Son of his father and mother at all. Had he been a second Melchizedec, and
got into breeches in time, the virtues which circumstances suppressed in
his heart might have flourished like cauliflowers, though the world would
have lost all the advantages arising from the splendor of his talents at
Another fact, in justice to his character, must not be omitted. His
penchant for fruit was generally known; but few persons, at the period we
are describing, were at all aware that a love of whiskey lurked as a
predominant trait in his character, to be brought out at a future era in
Before Phelim reached his tenth year, he and his parents had commenced
hostilities. Many were their efforts to subdue some peculiarities of his
temper which then began to appear. Phelim, however, being an only son,
possessed high vantage ground. Along with other small matters which he was
in the habit of picking up, might be reckoned a readiness at swearing.
Several other things also made their appearance in his parents' cottage,
for whose presence there, except through his instrumentality, they found
it rather difficult to account. Spades, shovels, rakes, tubs, frying-pans,
and many other-articles of domestic use, were transferred, as if by magic,
to Larry's cabin.
As Larry and his wife were both honest, these things were, of course,
restored to their owners, the moment they could be ascertained. Still,
although this honest couple's integrity was known, there were many
significant looks turned upon Phelim, and many spirited prophecies uttered
with especial reference to him, all of which hinted at the probability of
his dying something in the shape of a perpendicular death. This habit,
then, of adding to their furniture, was one cause of the hostility between
him and his parents; we say one, for there were at least, a good round
dozen besides. His touch, for instance, was fatal to crockery; he stripped
his father's Sunday clothes of their buttons, with great secrecy and
skill; he was a dead shot at the panes of his neighbors' windows; a
perfect necromancer at sucking eggs through pin-holes; took great delight
in calling home the neighboring farmers' workingmen to dinner an hour
before it was ready; and was in fact a perfect master in many other
ingenious manifestations of character, ere he reached his twelfth year.
Now, it was about this period that the small-pox made its appearance in
the village. Indescribable was the dismay of Phelim's parents, lest he
among others might become a victim to it. Vaccination, had not then
surmounted the prejudices with which every discovery beneficial to mankind
is at first met; and the people were left principally to the imposture of
quacks, or the cunning of certain persons called "fairy men" or "sonsie
women." Nothing remained now but that this formidable disease should be
met by all the power and resources of superstition. The first thing the
mother did was to get a gospel consecrated by the priest, for the purpose
of guarding Phelim against evil. What is termed a Gospel, and worn as a
kind of charm about the person, is simply a slip of paper, on which are
written by the priest the few first verses of the Gospel of St. John.
This, however, being worn for no specific purpose, was incapable of
satisfying the honest woman. Superstition had its own peculiar remedy for
the small-pox, and Sheelah was resolved to apply it. Accordingly she
borrowed a neighbor's ass, drove it home with Phelim, however, on its
back, took the interesting youth by the nape of the neck, and, in the name
of the Trinity, shoved him three times under it, and three times over it.
She then put a bit of bread into its mouth, until the ass had mumbled it a
little, after which she gave the savory morsel to Phelim, as a bonne
bouche. This was one preventive against the small-pox; but another was
to be tried.
She next clipped off the extremities of Phelim's elf locks, tied them in
linen that was never bleached, and hung them beside the Gospel about his
neck. This was her second cure; but there was still a third to be applied.
She got the largest onion possible, which, having cut into nine parts, she
hung from the roof tree of the cabin, having first put the separated parts
together. It is supposed that this has the power of drawing infection of
any kind to itself. It is permitted to remain untouched, until the disease
has passed from the neighborhood, when it is buried as far down in the
earth as a single man can dig. This was a third cure; but there was still
a fourth. She borrowed ten asses' halters from her neighbors, who, on
hearing that they were for Phelim's use, felt particular pleasure in
obliging her. Having procured these, she pointed them one by one at
Phelim's neck, until the number nine was completed. The tenth, she put on
him, and with the end of it in her hand, led him like an ass, nine
mornings, before sunrise, to a south-running stream, which he was obliged
to cross. On doing this, two conditions were to be fulfilled on the part
of Phelim; he was bound, in the first place, to keep his mouth filled,
during the ceremony, with a certain fluid which must be nameless: in the
next, to be silent from the moment he left home until his return.
Sheelah having satisfied herself that everything calculated to save her
darling from the small-pox was done, felt considerably relieved, and hoped
that whoever might be infected, Phelim would escape. On the morning when
the last journey to the river had been completed, she despatched him home
with the halters. Phelim, however, wended his way to a little hazel copse,
below the house, where he deliberately twined the halters together, and
erected a swing-swang, with which he amused himself till hunger brought
him to his dinner.
"Phelim, you idle thief, what kep you away till now?"
"Oh; mudher, mudher, gi' me a piece o' arran? (* bread.)
"Why, here's the praties done for your dinner. What kep you?"
"Oh, be gorra, it's well you ever seen me at all, so it is!"
"Why," said his father, "what happened you?"
"Oh, bedad, a terrible thing all out. As I was crassin' Dunroe Hill, I
thramped on hungry grass. First, I didn't know what kem over me, I got so
wake; an' every step I wint, 'twas waker an' waker I was growin', till at
long last, down I dhrops, an' couldn't move hand or fut. I dunna how long
I lay there, so I don't; but anyhow, who should be sthreelin'
acrass the hill, but an old baccagh.
"'My bouchaleen dhas,' says he—'my beautiful boy,' says he—'you're
in a bad state I find. You've thramped upon Dunroe hungry grass,
an' only for somethin' it's a prabeen you'd be, afore ever you'd
see home. Can you spake at all?' says he.
"'Oh, murdher,' says I,' I b'lieve not.'
"'Well here,' says the baccagh, 'open your purty gub, an' take in a
thrifle of this male, an' you'll soon be stout enough.' Well, to be sure,
it bates the world! I had hardly tasted the male, whin I found myself as
well as ever; bekase you know, mudher, that's the cure for it. 'Now,' says
the baccagh, 'this is the spot the fairies planted their hungry grass, an'
so you'll know it agin when you see it. What's your name?' says he.
"'Phelim O'Toole,' says I.
"'Well,' says he, 'go home an' tell your father an' mother to offer up a
prayer to St. Phelim, your namesake, in regard that only for him you'd be
a corp before any relief would a come near you; or, at any rate, wid the
The father and mother, although with a thousand proofs before them that
Phelim, so long as he could at all contrive a lie, would never speak
truth, yet were so blind to his well-known propensity, that they always
believed the lie to be truth, until they discovered it to be a falsehood.
When he related a story, for instance, which carried not only
improbability, but impossibility on the face of it, they never questioned
his veracity. The neighbors, to be sure, were vexed and nettled at the
obstinacy of their credulity; especially on reflecting that they were as
sceptical in giving credence to the narrative of any other person, as all
rational people ought to be. The manner of training up Phelim, and
Phelim's method of governing them, had become a by-word in the village.
"Take a sthraw to him, like Sheelah O'Toole," was often ironically said to
mothers remarkable for mischievous indulgence to their children.
The following day proved that no charm could protect Phelim from the
small-pox. Every symptom of that disease became quite evident; and the
grief of his doting parents amounted to distraction. Neither of them could
be declared perfectly sane; they knew not how to proceed—what
regimen to adopt for him, nor what remedies to use. A week elapsed, but
each succeeding day found him in a more dangerous state. At length, by the
advice of some of the neighbors, an old crone, called "Sonsy Mary," was
called in to administer relief through the medium of certain powers which
were thought to be derived from something holy and also supernatural. She
brought a mysterious bottle, of which he was to take every third spoonful,
three times a day; it was to be administered by the hand of a young girl
of virgin innocence, who was also to breathe three times down his throat,
holding his nostrils closed with her fingers. The father and mother were
to repeat a certain number of prayers; to promise against swearing, and to
kiss the hearth-stone nine times—the one turned north, and the other
south. All these ceremonies were performed with care, but Phelim's malady
appeared to set them at defiance; and the old crone would have lost her
character in consequence, were it not that Larry, on the day of the cure,
after having promised not to swear, let fly an oath at a hen, whose
cackling disturbed Phelim. This saved her character, and threw Larry and
Sheelah into fresh despair.
They had nothing now for it but the "fairy man," to whom, despite the
awful mystery of his character, they resolved to apply rather than see
their only son taken from them for ever. Larry proceeded without delay to
the wise man's residence, after putting a small phial of holy water in his
pocket to protect himself from fairy influence. The house in which this
person lived was admirably in accordance with his mysterious character.
One gable of it was formed by the mound of a fairy Rath, against the
cabin, which stood endwise; within a mile there was no other building; the
country around it was a sheep-walk, green, and beautifully interspersed
with two or three solitary glens, in one of which might be seen a cave
that was said to communicate under ground with the rath. A ridge of
high-Peaked mountains ran above it, whose evening shadow, in consequence
of their form, fell down on each side of the rath, without obscuring its
precincts. It lay south; and, such was the power of superstition, that
during summer, the district in which it stood was thought to be covered
with a light decidedly supernatural. In spring, it was the first to be in
verdure, and in autumn the last. Nay, in winter itself, the rath and the
adjoining valleys never ceased to be green, these circumstances were not
attributed to the nature of the soil, to its southern situation, nor to
the fact of its being pasture land; but simply to the power of the
fairies, who were supposed to keep its verdure fresh for their own revels.
When Larry entered the house, which had an air of comfort and snugness
beyond the common, a tall thin pike of a man, about sixty years of age,
stood before him. He wore a brown great-coat that fell far short of his
knees; his small-clothes were closely fitted to thighs not thicker than
hand telescopes; on his legs were drawn gray woollen stockings, rolled up
about six inches over his small-clothes; his head was covered by a bay
bob-wig, on which was a little round, hat, with the edge of the leaf
turned up in every direction. His face was short and sallow; his chin
peaked; his nose small and turned up. If we add to this, a pair of
skeleton-like hands and arms projecting about eight inches beyond the
sleeves of his coat; two fiery ferret-eyes; and a long small holly wand,
higher than himself, we have the outline of this singular figure.
"God save you, nabor," said Larry.
"Save you, save you, neighbor," he replied, without pronouncing the name
of the deity.
"This is a thryin' time," said Larry, "to them that has childhre."
The fairy-man fastened his red glittering eyes upon him, with a sinister
glance that occasioned Larry to feel rather uncomfortable.
"So you venthured to come to the fairy-man?"
"It is about our son, an' he all we ha—"
"Whisht!" said the man, waving his hand with a commanding air. "Whisht; I
wish you wor out o' this, for it's a bad time to be here. Listen! Listen!
Do you hear nothing?"
Larry changed color. "I do," he replied—"The Lord protect me: Is
"What did you hear?" said the man.
"Why," returned the other, "I heard the bushes of the rath all movin',
jist as if a blast o' wind came among them!"
"Whisht," said the fairy-man, "they're here; you mustn't open your lips
while you're in the house. I know what you want, an' will see your son. Do
you hear anything more? If you do, lay your forefinger along your nose;
but don't spake."
Larry heard with astonishment, the music of a pair of bagpipes. The tune
played was one which, according to a popular legend, was first played by
Satan; it is called: "Go to the Devil and shake yourself." To our own
knowledge, the peasantry in certain parts of Ireland refuse to sing it for
the above reason. The mystery of the music was heightened too by the fact
of its being played, as Larry thought, behind the gable of the cabin,
which stood against the side of the rath, out of which, indeed, it seemed
Larry laid his finger along his nose, as he had been desired; and this
appearing to satisfy the fairy-man, he waved his hand to the door, thus
intimating that his visitor should depart; which he did immediately, but
not without observing that this wild-looking being closed and bolted the
door after him.
It is unnecessary to say that he was rather anxious to get off the
premises of the good people; he therefore lost little time until he
arrived at his own cabin; but judge of his wonder when, on entering it, he
found the long-legged spectre awaiting his return.
"Banaght dhea orrin!" he exclaimed, starting back; "the blessing of
God be upon us! Is it here before me you are?"
"Hould your tongue, man," said the other, with a smile of mysterious
triumph. "Is it that you wondher at? Ha, ha! That's little of it!"
"But how did you know my name? or who I was? or where I lived at all?
Heaven protect us! it's beyant belief, clane out."
"Hould your tongue," replied the man; "don't be axin' me any thing o' the
kind. Clear out, both of ye, till I begin my pisthrogues wid the sick
child. Clear out, I say."
With some degree of apprehension, Larry and Sheelah left the house as they
had been ordered, and the Fairy-man having pulled out a flask of poteen,
administered a dose of it to Phelim; and never yet did patient receive his
medicine with such a relish. He licked his lips, and fixed his eye upon it
with a longing look.
"Be Gorra," said he, "that's fine stuff entirely. Will you lave me the
"No," said the Fairy-man, "but I'll call an' give you a little of it wanst
"Ay do," replied Phelim; "the divil a fear o' me, if I get enough of it. I
hope I'll see you often."
The Fairy-man kept his word; so that what with his bottle, a hardy
constitution, and light bed-clothes, Phelim got the upper hand of his
malady. In a month he was again on his legs; but, alas! his complexion
though not changed to deformity, was wofully out of joint. His principal
blemish, in addition to the usual marks left by his complaint, consisted
in a drooping of his left eyelid, which gave to his whole face a cast
When Phelim felt thoroughly recovered, he claimed a pair of "leather
crackers," * a hare-skin cap, and a coat, with a pertinacity which kept
the worthy couple in a state of inquietude, until they complied with his
importunity. Henceforth he began to have everything his own way. His
parents, sufficiently thankful that he was spared to them, resolved to
thwart him no more.
* Breeches made of sheep's skin, so called from the
noise they make in walking or running.
"It's well we have him at all," said his mother; "sure if we hadn't him,
we'd be breakin' our hearts, and sayin' if it 'ud plase God to send him
back to us, that we'd be happy even wid givin' him his own way."
"They say it breaks their strinth, too," replied his father, "to be
crubbin' them in too much, an' snappin' at thim for every hand's turn, an'
I'm sure it does too."
"Doesn't he become the pock-marks well, the crathur?" said the mdther.
"Become!" said the father; "but doesn't the droop in his eye set him off
all to pieces!"
"Ay," observed the mother, "an' how the crathur went round among all the
neighbors to show them the 'leather crackers!' To see his little pride out
o' the hare-skin cap, too, wid the hare's ears stickin' out of his
temples. That an' the droopin: eye undher them makes him look so cunnin'
an' ginteel, that one can't help havin' their heart fixed upon him."
"He'd look betther still if that ould coat wasn't sweepin' the ground
behind him; an' what 'ud you think to put a pair o' martyeens on
his legs to hide the mazles! He might go anywhere thin."
"Throth he might; but Larry, what in the world wide could be in the
Fairy-man's bottle that Phelim took sich a likin' for it. He tould me this
mornin' that he'd suffer to have the pock agin, set in case he was cured
wid the same bottle."
"Well, the Heaven be praised, any how, that we have a son for the
"Amin! An' let us take good care of him, now that he's spared to us."
Phelim's appetite, after his recovery, was anything but a joke to his
father. He was now seldom at home, except during meal times; for wherever
fun or novelty was to be found, Phelim was present. He became a regular
attendant upon all the sportsmen. To such he made himself very useful by
his correct knowledge of the best covers for game, and the best pools for
fish. He was acquainted with every rood of land in the, parish; knew with
astonishing accuracy where coveys were to be sprung, and hares started. No
hunt was without him; such was his wind and speed of foot, that to follow
a chase and keep up with the horsemen was to him only a matter of sport.
When daylight passed, night presented him with amusements suitable to
itself. No wake, for instance, could escape him; a dance without young
Phelim O'Toole would have been a thing worthy to be remembered. He was
zealously devoted to cock-fighting; on Shrove-Tuesday he shouted loudest
among the crowd that attended the sport of throwing at cooks tied to a
stake; foot-ball and hurling never occurred without him. Bull-baiting—for
it was common in his youth—was luxury to him; and, ere he reached
fourteen, every one knew Phelim O'Toole as an adept at card-playing.
Wherever a sheep, a leg of mutton, a dozen of bread, or a bottle of
whiskey was put up in a shebeen house, to be played for by the country
gamblers at the five and ten, or spoil'd five, Phelim always took a hand
and was generally successful. On these occasions he was frequently charged
with an over-refined dexterity; but Phelim usually swore, in vindication
of his own innocence, until he got black in the face, as the phrase among
such characters goes.
The reader is to consider him now about fifteen—a stout, overgrown,
unwashed cub. His parents' anxiety that he should grow strong, prevented
them from training him to any kind of employment. He was eternally going
about in quest of diversion; and wherever a knot of idlers was to be
found, there was Phelim. He had, up to this period, never worn a shoe, nor
a single article of dress that had been made for himself, with the
exception of one or two pair of sheepskin small-clothes. In this way he
passed his time, bare-legged, without shoes, clothed in an old coat much
too large for him, his neck open, and his sooty locks covered with the
hare-skin cap, the ears as usual sticking out above his brows. Much of his
time was spent in setting the idle boys of the village to fight; and in
carrying lying challenges from one to another. He himself was seldom
without a broken head or a black eye; for in Ireland, he who is known to
be fond of quarrelling, as the people say, usually "gets enough an' lavins
of it." Larry and Sheelah, thinking it now high time that something should
be done with Phelim, thought it necessary to give him some share of
education. Phelim opposed this bitterly as an unjustifiable encroachment
upon his personal liberty; but, by bribing him with the first and only
suit of clothes he had yet got, they at length succeeded in prevailing on
him to go.
The school to which he was sent happened to be kept in what is called an
inside Kiln. This kind of kiln is usually—but less so now than
formerly—annexed to respectable farmers' outhouses, to which, in
agricultural districts, it forms a very necessary appendage. It also
serves at the same time as a barn, the kiln-pot being sunk in the shape of
an inverted cone at one end, but divided from the barn floor by a wall
about three feet high. From this wall beams run across the kiln-pot, over
which, in a transverse direction, are laid a number of rafters like the
joists of a loft, but not fastened. These ribs are covered with straw,
over which again is spread a winnow-cloth to keep the grain from being
lost. The fire is sunk on a level with the bottom of the kiln-pot, that
is, about eight or ten feet below the floor of the barn. The descent to it
is by stairs formed at the side wall. We have been thus minute in
describing it, because, as the reader will presently perceive, the feats
of Phelim render it necessary.
On the first day of his entering the school he presented himself with a
black eye; and as his character was well known to both master and
scholars, the former felt no hesitation in giving him a wholesome lecture
upon the subject of his future conduct. For at least a year before this
time, he had gained the nick-name of "Blessed Phelim," and "Bouncing,"
epithets bestowed on him by an ironical allusion to his patron saint, and
his own habits.
"So, Blessed Phelim," said the master, "you are comin' to school!!! Well,
well! I only say that miracles will never cease. Arrah, Phelim, will you
tell us candidly—ah—I beg your pardon; I mean, will you tell
us the best lie you can coin upon the cause of your coming to imbibe moral
and literary knowledge? Silence, boys, till we hear Blessed Phelim's lie."
"You must hear it, masther," said Phelim. "I'm comin' to larn to read an'
"Bravo! By the bones of Prosodius, I expected a lie, but not such a
thumper as that. And you're comin' wid a black eye to prove it! A black
eye, Phelim, is the blackguard's coat of arms; and to do you justice, you
are seldom widout your crest."
For a few days Phelim attended the school, but learned not a letter. The
master usually sent him to be taught by the youngest lads, with a hope of
being able to excite a proper spirit of pride and emulation in a mind that
required some extraordinary impulse. One day he called him up to ascertain
what progress he had actually made; the unsuspecting teacher sat at the
time upon the wall which separated the barn-floor from the kiln-pot, with
his legs dangling at some distance from the ground. It was summer, any
rafters used in drying the grain had been removed. On finding that Blessed
Phelim, notwithstanding all the lessons he had received, was still in a
state of the purest ignorance, he lost his temper, and brought him over
between his knees, that he might give him an occasional cuff for his
idleness. The lesson went on, and the master's thumps were thickening
about Phelim's ears, much to the worthy youth's displeasure.
"Phelim," said the master, "I'll invert you a scarecrow for dunces. I'll
lay you against the wall, with your head down and your heels up like a
"But how will you manage that?" said Phelim. "What 'ud I be doin' in the
"I'll find a way to manage it," said the master.
"To put my head down an' my heels up, is it?" inquired Phelim.
"You've said it, my worthy," returned his teacher.
"If you don't know the way," replied the pupil, "I'll show you;" getting
his shoulder under the master's leg, and pitching him heels over his head
into the kiln-pot. He instantly seized his cap, and ran out of the school,
highly delighted at his feat; leaving the scholars to render the master
whatever assistance was necessary. The poor man was dangerously hurt, for
in addition to a broken arm, he received half a dozen severe contusions on
the head, and in different parts of the body.
This closed Phelim's education; for no persuasion could ever induce him to
enter a school afterwards; nor could any temptation prevail on the
neighboring teachers to admit him as a pupil.
Phelim now shot up rapidly to the stature of a young man; and a graceful
slip was he. From the period of fifteen until nineteen, he was
industriously employed in idleness. About sixteen he began to look after
the girls, and to carry a cudgel. The father in vain attempted to
inoculate him with a love of labor; but Phelim would not receive the
infection. His life was a pleasanter one. Sometimes, indeed, when he
wanted money to treat the girls at fairs and markets, he would prevail on
himself to labor a week or fortnight with some neighboring farmer; but the
moment he had earned as much as he deemed sufficient, the spade was thrown
aside. Phelim knew all the fiddlers and pipers in the barony; was master
of the ceremonies at every wake and dance that occurred within several
miles of him. He was a crack dancer, and never attended a dance without
performing a horn-pipe on a door or a table; no man could shuffle, or
treble, or cut, or spring, or caper with him. Indeed it was said that he
could dance "Moll Roe" upon the end of a five-gallon keg, and snuff a
mould candle with his heels, yet never lose the time. The father and
mother were exceedingly proud of Phelim, The former, when he found him
grown up, and associating with young men, began to feel a kind of ambition
in being permitted to join Phelim and his companions, and to look upon the
society of his own son as a privilege. With the girls Phelim was a beauty
without paint. They thought every wake truly a scene of sorrow, if he did
not happen to be present. Every dance was doleful without him. Phelim wore
his hat on one side, with a knowing but careless air; he carried his
cudgel with a good-humored, dashing spirit, precisely in accordance with
the character of a man who did not care a traneen whether he drank with
you as a friend or fought with you as a foe. Never were such songs heard
as Phelim could sing, nor such a voice as that with which he sang them.
His attitudes and action were inimitable. The droop in his eye was a
standing wink at the girls; and when he sang his funny songs, with what
practised ease he gave the darlings a roguish chuck under the chin! Then
his jokes! "Why, faix," as the fair ones often said of him, "before Phelim
speaks at all, one laughs at what he says." This was fact. His very
appearance at a wake, dance, or drinking match, was hailed by a peal of
mirth. This heightened his humor exceedingly; for say what you will,
laughter is to wit what air is to fire—the one dies without the
Let no one talk of beauty being on the surface. This is a popular error,
and no one but a superficial fellow would defend it Among ten thousand you
could not get a more unfavorable surface than Phelim's. His face resembled
the rough side of a cullender, or, as he was often told in raillery, "you
might grate potatoes on it." The lid of his left eye, as the reader knows,
was like the lid of a salt-box, always closed; and when he risked a wink
with the right, it certainly gave him the look of a man shutting out the
world, and retiring into himself for the purpose of self-examination. No,
no; beauty is in the mind; in the soul; otherwise Phelim never could have
been such a prodigy of comeliness among the girls. This was the
distinction the fair sex drew in his favor. "Phelim," they would say, "is
not purty, but he's very comely. Bad end to the one of him but would stale
a pig off a tether, wid his winnin' ways." And so he would, too, without
much hesitation, for it was not the first time he had stolen his father's.
From nineteen until the close of his minority, Phelim became a
distinguished man in fairs and markets. He was, in fact, the hero of the
parish; but, unfortunately, he seldom knew on the morning of the fair-day
the name of the party or faction on whose side he was to fight. This was
merely a matter of priority; for whoever happened to give him the first
treat uniformly secured him. The reason of this pliability on his part
was, that Phelim being every person's friend, by his good nature, was
nobody's foe, except for the day. He fought for fun and for whiskey. When
he happened to drub some companion or acquaintance on the opposite side,
he was ever ready to express his regret at the circumstance, and abused,
them heartily for not having treated him first.
Phelim was also a great Ribbonman; and from the time he became initiated
into the system, his eyes were wonderfully opened to the oppressions of
the country. Sessions, decrees, and warrants he looked upon as I gross
abuses; assizes, too, by which so many of his friends were put to some
inconvenience, he considered as the result of Protestant Ascendancy—cancers
that ought to be cut out of the constitution. Bailiffs, drivers,
tithe-proctors, tax-gatherers, policemen, and parsons, he thought were
vermin that ought to be compelled to emigrate to a much warmer country
There was no such hand in the county as Phelim at an alibi. Just give him
the outline—a few leading particulars of the fact—and he would
work wonders. One would think, indeed, that he had been born for that
especial purpose; for, as he was never known to utter a syllable of truth
but once, when he had a design in not being believed, so there was no risk
of a lawyer getting truth out of him. No man was ever afflicted with such
convenient maladies as Phelim; even his sprains, tooth-aches, and colics
seemed to have entered into the Whiteboy system. But, indeed, the very
diseases in Ireland are seditious. Many a time has a tooth-ache come in to
aid Paddy in obstructing the course of justice; and a colic been guilty of
misprision of treason. Irish deaths, too, are very disloyal, and
frequently at variance with the laws: nor are our births much better; for
although more legitimate than those of our English neighbors, yet they are
in general more illegal. Phelim, in proving his alibis, proved all these
positions. On one occasion, "he slep at the prisoner's house, and couldn't
close his eye with a thief of a tooth-ache that parsecuted him the whole
night;" so, that in consequence of having the tooth-ache, it was
impossible that the prisoner could leave the house without his knowledge.
Again, the prisoner at the bar could not possibly have shot the deceased,
"bekase Mickey slept that very night at Phelim's, an' Phelim, bein' ill o'
the colic, never slep at all durin' the whole night; an', by the vartue of
his oath, the poor boy couldn't go out o' the house unknownst to him. If
he had, Phelim would a seen him, sure."
Again, "Paddy Cummisky's wife tuck ill of a young one, an' Phelim was sent
for to bring the midwife; but afore he kem to Paddy's, or hard o' the
thing at all, the prisoner, airly in the night, comin' to sit awhile wid
Paddy, went for the midwife instead o' Phelim, an' thin they sot up an'
had a sup in regard of the 'casion; an' the prisoner never left them at
all that night until the next mornin'. An' by the same token, he
remimbered Paddy Cummisky barrin' the door, an' shuttin' the windies,
bekase it's not lucky to have them open, for fraid that the fairies 'ud
throw their pishthrogues upon the young one, an' it not
Phelim was certainly an accomplished youth. As an alibist, however, his
career was, like that of all alibists, a short one. The fact was, that his
face soon became familiar to the court and the lawyers, so that his name
and appearance were ultimately rather hazardous to the cause of his
Phelim, on other occasions, when summoned as evidence against his
well-wishers or brother Ribbonmen, usually forgot his English, and gave
his testimony by an interpreter. Nothing could equal his ignorance and
want of common capacity during these trials. His face was as free from
every visible trace of meaning as if he had been born an idiot. No block
was ever more impenetrable than he.
"What is the noble gintleman sayin'?" he would ask in Irish; and on having
that explained, he would inquire, "what is that?" then demand a fresh
explanation of the last one, and so on successively, until he was given up
Sometimes, in cases of a capital nature, Phelim, with the consent of his
friends, would come forward and make disclosures, in order to have them
put upon their trial and acquitted; lest a real approver, or some one
earnestly disposed to prosecute, might appear against them. Now the alibi
and its usual accompaniments are all of old standing in Ireland; but the
master-stroke to which we have alluded is a modern invention. Phelim would
bear evidence against them; and whilst the government—for it was
mostly in government prosecutions he adventured this—believed they
had ample grounds for conviction in his disclosures, it little suspected
that the whole matter was a plan to defeat itself. In accordance with his
design, he gave such evidence upon the table as rendered conviction
hopeless. His great object was to damn his own character as a witness, and
to make such blunders, premeditated slips, and admissions, as just left
him within an inch of a prosecution for perjury. Having succeeded in
acquitting his friends, he was content to withdraw amid a volley of
pretended execrations, leaving the Attorney-General, with all his legal
knowledge, outwitted and foiled.
All Phelim's accomplishments, however, were nothing when compared to his
gallantry. With personal disadvantages which would condemn any other man
to old bachelorship, he was nevertheless the whiteheaded boy among the
girls. He himself was conscious of this, and made his attacks upon their
hearts indiscriminately. If he met an unmarried female only for five
minutes, be she old or ugly, young or handsome, he devoted at least four
minutes and three-quarters to the tender passion; made love to her with an
earnestness that would deceive a saint; backed all his protestations with
a superfluity of round oaths; and drew such a picture of her beauty as
might suit the Houries of Mahomet's paradise.
Phelim and his father were great associates. No two agreed better. They
went to fairs and markets together; got drunk together; and returned home
with their arms about each other's neck in the most loving and
affectionate manner. Larry, as if Phelim were too modest to speak for
himself, seldom met a young girl without laying siege to her for the son.
He descanted upon his good qualities, glossed over his defects, and drew
deeply upon invention in his behalf. Sheelah, on the other hand, was an
eloquent advocate for him. She had her eye upon half a dozen of the
village girls, to every one of whom she found something to say in Phelim's
But it is time the action of our story should commence. When Phelim had
reached his twenty-fifth year, the father thought it was high time for him
to marry. The good man had, of course, his own motives for this. In the
first place, Phelim, with all his gallantry and cleverness, had never
contributed a shilling, either toward his own support or that of the
family. In the second place, he was never likely to do so. In the third
place, the father found him a bad companion; for, in good truth, he had
corrupted the good man's morals so evidently, that his character was now
little better than that of his son. In the fourth place, he never thought
of Phelim, that he did not see a gallows in the distance; and matrimony,
he thought, might save him from hanging, as one poison neutralizes
another. In the fifth place, the half-acre Was but a shabby patch to meet
the exigencies of the family, since Phelim grew up. "Bouncing Phelim," as
he was called for more reasons than one, had the gift of a good digestion,
along with his other accomplishments; and with such energy was it
exercised, that the "half-acre" was frequently in hazard of leaving the
family altogether. The father, therefore, felt quite willing, if Phelim
married, to leave him the inheritance, and seek a new settlement for
himself. Or, if Phelim preferred leaving him, he agreed to give him
one-half of it, together with an equal division of all his earthly goods;
to wit—two goats, of which Phelim was to get one; six hens and a
cock, of which Phelim was to get three hens, and the chance of a toss-up
for the cock; four stools, of which Phelim was to get two; two pots—a
large one and a small one—the former to go with Phelim; three horn
spoons, of which Phelim was to get one, and the chance of a toss-up for a
third. Phelim was to bring his own bed, provided he did not prefer getting
a bottle of fresh straw as a connubial luxury. The blanket was a tender
subject; for having been fourteen years in employment, it entangled the
father and Phelim, touching the prudence of the latter claiming it all.
The son was at length compelled to give it up, at least in the character
of an appendage to his marriage property. He feared that the wife, should
he not be able to replace it by a new one, or should she herself not be
able to bring him one, as part of her dowry, would find the honeymoon
rather lively. Phelim's bedstead admitted of no dispute, the floor of the
cabin having served him in that capacity ever since he began to sleep in a
separate bed. His pillow was his small clothes, and his quilt his own
coat, under which he slept snugly enough.
The father having proposed, and the son acceded to these arrangements, the
next thing to be done was to pitch upon a proper girl as his wife. This
being a more important matter, was thus discussed by the father and son,
one evening, at their own fireside, in the presence of Sheelah.
"Now, Phelim," said the father, "look about you, an' tell us what girl in
the neighborhood you'd like to be married to."
"Why," replied Phelim, "I'll lave that to you; jist point out the girl
you'd like for your daughter-in-law, an' be she rich, poor, ould, or ugly,
I'll delude her. That's the chat."
"Ah, Phelim, if you could put your comedher an Gracey Dalton, you'd be a
made boy. She has the full of a rabbit-skin o' guineas."
"A made boy! Faith, they say I'm that as it is, you know. But would you
wish me to put my comedher on Gracey Dalton? Spake out."
"To be sure I would."
"Ay," observed the mother, "or what 'ud you think of Miss Pattherson? That
'ud be the girl. She has a fine farm, an' five hundre pounds. She's a
Protestant, but Phelim could make a Christian of her."
"To be sure I could," said Phelim, "have her thumpin' her breast, and
countin' her Padareens in no time. Would you wish me to have her, mudher?"
"Throth an' I would, avick."
"That 'ud never do," observed the father. "Sure you don't think she'd ever
think of the likes o' Phelim?"
"Don't make a goose of yourself, ould man," observed Phelim. "Do you think
if I set about it, that I'd not manufacture her senses as asy as I'd peel
"Well, well," replied the father, "in the name o' Goodness make up to her.
Faith it ud' be somethin' to have a jauntin' car in the family!"
"Ay, but what the sorra will I do for a suit o' clo'es?" observed Phelim.
"I could never go near her in these breeches. My elbows, too, are out o'
this ould coat, bad luck to it! An' as for a waistcoat, why, I dunna but
it's a sin to call what I'm wearin' a waistcoat at all. Thin agin—why,
blood alive, sure I can't go to her barefooted, an' I dunna but it 'ud be
dacenter to do that same, than to step out in sich excuses for brogues as
these. An' in regard o' the stockins', why, I've pulled them down,
strivin' to look dacent, till one 'ud think the balls o' my legs is at my
"The sorra word's in that but thruth, any how," observed the father; "but
what's to be done? For we have no way of gettin' them."
"Faith, I don't know that," said Phelim. "What if we'd borry? I could get
the loan of a pair of breeches from Dudley Dwire, an' a coat from Sam
Appleton. We might thry Billy Brady for a waistcoat, an' a pair of
stockings. Barny Buckram-back, the pinsioner, 'ud lend me his pumps; an'
we want nothing now but a hat."
"Nothin' under a Caroline 'ud do, goin' there," observed the father.
"I think Father O'Hara 'ud oblige me wid the loan o' one for a day or
two;" said Phelim; "he has two or three o' them, all as good as ever."
"But, Phelim," said the father, "before we go to all this trouble, are you
sure you could put your comedher on Miss Pattherson?"
"None o' your nonsense," said Phelim, "don't you know I could? I hate a
man to be puttin' questions to me, when he knows them himself. It's a
fashion you have got, an' you ought to dhrop it."
"Well thin," said the father, "let us set about it to-morrow. If we can
borry the clo'es, thry your luck."
Phelim and the father, the next morning, set out each in a different
direction, to see how far they could succeed on the borrowing system. The
father was to make a descent on Dudley Dwire for the breeches, and appeal
to the generosity of Sam Appleton for the coat. Phelim himself was to lay
his case before the priest, and to assail Buckram-back, the pensioner, on
his way home, for the brogues.
When Phelim arrived at the priest's house, he found none of the family up
but the housekeeper. After bidding her good morrow, and being desired to
sit down, he entered into conversation with the good woman, who felt
anxious to know the scandal of the whole parish.
"Aren't you a son of Larry Toole's, young man?"
"I am, indeed, Mrs. Doran. I'm Phelim O'Toole, my mother says."
"I hope you're comin' to spake to the priest about your duty."
"Why, then, be gorra, I'm glad you axed me, so I am—for only you
seen the pinance in my face, you'd never suppose sich a thing. I want to
make my confishion to him, wid the help o' Goodness."
"Is there any news goin', Phelim?"
"Divil a much, barrin' what you hard yourself, I suppose, about Frank
Fogarty, that went mad yesterday, for risin' the meal on the poor, an' ate
the ears off himself afore anybody could see him."
"Vick na hoiah, Phelim; do you tell me so?"
"Why man o' Moses, is it possible you did not hear it, ma'am?"
"Oh, worra, man alive, not a syllable! Ate the ears off of himself!
Phelim, acushla, see what it is to be hard an the poor!"
"Oh, he was ever an' always the biggest nagar livin', ma'am. Ay, an' when
he was tied up, till a blessed priest 'ud be brought to maliwgue the divil
out of him, he got a scythe an' cut his own two hands off."
"No thin, Phelim!"
"Faitha, ma'am, sure enough. I suppose, ma'am, you hard about Biddy
"Who is she, Phelim?"
"Why the misfortunate crathurs a daughter of her father's, ould Mick
Duignan, of Tavenimore."
"An' what about her, Phehm! What happened her?"
"Faix, ma'am, a bit of a mistake she met wid; but, anyhow, ould Harry
Connolly's to stand in the chapel nine Sundays, an' to make three Stations
to Lough Dergh for it. Bedad, they say it's as purty a crathur as you'd
see in a day's thravellin'."
"Harry Connolly! Why, I know Harry, but I never heard of Biddy Duiguan, or
her father at all. Harry Connolly! Is it a man that's bent over his staff
for the last twenty years! Hut, tut, Phelim, don't say sich a thing."
"Why, ma'am, sure he takes wid it himself; he doesn't deny it at all, the
"Oh, that I mayn't sin, Phelim, if one knows who to thrust in this world,
so they don't. Why the desateful ould—hut, Phelim, I can't give into
"Faix, ma'am, no wondher; but sure when he confesses it himself! Bedad,
Mrs. Doran, I never seen you look so well. Upon my sowl, you'd take the
shine out o' the youngest o' thim!"
"Is it me, Phelim? Why, you're beside yourself."
"Beside myself, am I? Faith, an' if I am, what I said's thruth, anyhow.
I'd give more nor I'll name, to have so red a pair of cheeks as you have.
Sowl, they're thumpers."
"Ha, ha, ha! Oh, that I mayn't sin, but that's a good joke! An ould woman
"Now, Mrs. Doran, that's nonsense, an' nothing else. Near sixty! Oh, by my
purty, that's runnin' away wid the story entirely—No, nor thirty.
Faith, I know them that's not more nor five or six-an'-twenty, that 'ud be
glad to borry the loan of your face for a while. Divil a word o' lie in
"No, no, Phelim, aroon, I seen the day; but that's past. I remimber when
the people did say I was worth lookin' at. Won't you sit near the fire?
You're in the dhraft there."
"Thank you kindly, ma'am; faith, you have the name, far an' near, for
bein' the civilest woman alive this day. But, upon my sowl, if you wor ten
times as civil, an' say that you're not aquil to any young girl in the
parish, I'd dispute it wid you; an' say it was nothin' else than a
"Arrah, Phelim, darlin, how can you palaver me that way? I hope your
dacent father's well, Phelim, an' your honest mother."
"Divil a fear o' them. Now, I'd hould nine to one that the purtiest o'
them hasn't a sweeter mout' than you have. By dad, you have a pair o'
lips, God bless them that—well, well—"
Phelim here ogled her with looks particularly wistful.
"Phelim, you're losin' the little sense you had."
"Faix, an' it's you that's taken them out o' me, then. A purty woman
always makes a fool o' me. Divil a word o' lie in it. Faix, Mrs. Doran,
ma'am, you have a chin o' your own! Well, well! Oh, be Gorra, I wish I
hadn't come out this mornin' any how!"
"Arrah, why, Phelim? In throth, it's you that's the quare Phelim!"
"Why, ma'am—Oh bedad it's a folly to talk. I can't go widout tastin'
them. Sich a pair o' timptations as your lips, barrin' your eyes, I didn't
see this many a day."
"Tastin' what, you mad crathur?"
"Why, I'll show you what I'd like to be afther tastin'. Oh! bedad, I'll
have no refusin'; a purty woman always makes a foo——"
"Keep away, Phelim; keep off; bad end to you; what do you mane? Don't you
see Fool Art lyin' in the corner there undher the sacks? I don't think
"Fool Art! why, the misfortunate idiot, what about him? Sure he hasn't
sinse to know the right hand from the left. Bedad, ma'am the truth is,
that a purty woman always makes a——"
"Throth an' you won't," said she struggling.
"Throth an' I will, thin, taste the same lips, or we'll see whose
A good-humored struggle took place between the housekeeper and Phelim, who
found her, in point of personal strength, very near a match for him. She
laughed heartily, but Phelim attempted to salute her with a face of mock
gravity as nearly resembling that of a serious man as he could assume. In
the meantime, chairs were overturned, and wooden dishes trundled about; a
crash was heard here, and another there. Phelim drove her to the hob, and
from the hob they both bounced into the fire, the embers and ashes of
which were kicked up into a cloud about them.
"Phelim, spare your strinth," said the funny housekeeper, "it won't do. Be
asy now, or I'll get angry. The priest, too, will hear the noise, and so
will Fool Art."
"To the divil wid Fool Art an' the priest, too," said Phelim, "who cares
abuckey about the priest when a purty woman like you is consarn—
"What's this?" said the priest, stepping down from the parlor—"What's
the matter? Oh, ho, upon my word, Mrs. Doran! Very good, indeed! Under my
own roof, too! An' pray, ma'am, who is the gallant? Turn round young man.
Yes, I see! Why, better and better! Bouncing Phelim O'Toole, that never
spoke truth! I think, Mr. O'Toole, that when you come a courting, you
ought to consider it worth your while to appear somewhat more smooth in
your habiliments. I simply venture to give that as my opinion."
"Why sure enough," replied Phelim, without a moment's hesitation; "your
Reverence has found us out."
"Found you out! Why, is that the tone you speak in?"
"Faith, sir, thruth's best. I wanted her to tell it to you long ago, but
she wouldn't. Howsomever, it's still time enough.—Hem! The thruth,
sir, is, that Mrs. Doran an' I is goin' to get the words said as soon as
we can; so, sir, wid the help o' Goodness, I came to see if your Reverence
'ud call us next Sunday wid a blessin'."
Mrs. Doran had, for at least a dozen round years before this, been in a
state-of hopelessness upon the subject of matrimony; nothing in the shape
of a proposal having in the course of that period come in her way. Now we
have Addison's authority for affirming, that an old woman who permits the
thoughts of love to get into her head, becomes a very odd kind of animal.
Mrs. Doran, to do her justice, had not thought of it for nearly three
lustres, for this reason, that she had so far overcome her vanity as to
deem it possible that a proposal could be ever made to her. It is
difficult, however, to know what a day may bring forth. Here was an offer,
dropping like a ripe plum into her mouth. She turned the matter over in
her mind with a quickness equal to that of Phelim himself. One leading
thought struck her forcibly: if she refused to close with this offer, she
would never get another.
"Is it come to this, Mrs. Doran?" inquired the priest.
"Oh, bedad, sir, she knows it is," replied Phelim, giving her a wink with
the safe eye.
Now, Mrs. Doran began to have her suspicions. The wink she considered as
decidedly ominous. Phelim, she concluded with all the sagacity of a woman
thinking upon that subject, had winked at her to assent only for the
purpose of getting themselves out of the scrape for the present. She
feared that Phelim would be apt to break off the match, and take some
opportunity, before Sunday should arrive, of preventing the priest from
calling them. Her decision, however, was soon made. She resolved, if
possible to pin down Phelim to his own proposal.
"Is this true, Mrs. Doran?" inquired the priest, a second time.
Mrs. Doran could not, with any regard to the delicacy of her sex, give an
assent without proper emotion. She accordingly applied her apron to her
eyes, and shed a few natural tears in reply to the affecting query of the
Phelim, in the meantime, began to feel mystified. Whether Mrs. Doran's
tears were a proof that she was disposed to take the matter seriously, or
whether they were tears of shame and vexation for having been caught in
the character of a romping old hoyden, he could not then exactly decide.
He had, however, awful misgivings upon the subject.
"Then," said the priest, "it is to be understood that I'm to call you both
"There's no use in keepin' it back from you," replied Mrs. Doran. "I know
it's foolish of me; but we have all our failins, and to be fond of Phelim
there, is mine. Your Reverence is to call us next Sunday, as Phelim tould
you. I am sure I can't tell you how he deluded me at all, the desaver o'
Phelim's face during this acknowledgment was, like Goldsmith's Haunch of
Venison, "a subject for painters to study." His eyes projected like a
hare's until nothing could be seen but the balls. Even the drooping lid
raised itself up, as if it were never to droop again.
"Well," said the priest, "I shall certainly not use a single argument to
prevent you. Your choice, I must say, does you credit, particularly when
it is remembered that you have come at least to years of discretion.
Indeed, many persons might affirm that you have gone beyond them; but I
say nothing. In the meantime your wishes must be complied with. I will
certainly call Phelim O'Toole and Bridget Doran on Sunday next; and one
thing I know, that we shall have a very merry congregation."
Phelim's eyes turned upon the priest and the old woman alternately, with
an air of bewilderment which, had the priest been a man of much
observation, might have attracted his attention.
"Oh murdher alive, Mrs. Doran," said Phelim, "how am I to do for clo'es?
Faith, I'd like to appear dacent in the thing, anyhow."
"True," said the priest. "Have you made no provision for smoothing the
externals of your admirer? Is he to appear in this trim?"
"Bedad, sir," said Phelim, "we never thought o' that. All the world knows,
your Reverence, that I might carry my purse in my eye, an' never feel a
mote in it. But the thruth is, sir, she was so lively on the subject—in
a kind of a pleasant, coaxin' hurry of her own—an' indeed I was so
myself, too. Augh, Mrs. Doran! Be gorra, sir, she put her comedher an me
entirely, so she did. Well, be my sowl, I'll be the flower of a husband to
her anyhow. I hope your Reverence 'll come to the christ'nin'? But about
the clo'es;—bad luck saize the tack I have to put to my back, but
what you see an me, if we wor to be married to-morrow."
"Well, Phelim, aroon," said Mrs. Doran, "his Reverence here has my little
pences o' money in his hands, an' the best way is for you to get the price
of a suit from him. You must get clo'es, an' good ones, too, Phelim,
sooner nor any stop should be put to our marriage."
"Augh, Mrs. Doran," said Phelim, ogling her from the safe eye, with a
tender suavity of manner that did honor to his heart; "be gorra, ma'am,
you've played the puck entirely wid me. Faith, I'm gettin' fonder an'
fonder of her every minute, your Reverence."
He set his eye, as he uttered this, so sweetly and significantly upon the
old house-keeper, that the priest thought it a transgression of decorum in
"I think," said he, "you had better keep your melting looks to yourself,
Phelim. Restrain your gallantry, if you please, at least until I
"Why, blood alive! sir, when people's fond of one another, it's hard to
keep the love down. Augh, Mrs. Doran! Faith, you've rendhored my heart
like a lump o' tallow."
"Follow me to the parlor," said the priest, "and let me know, Bridget,
what sum I am to give to this melting gallant of yours."
"I may as well get what'll do the weddin' at wanst," observed Phelim.
"It'll save throuble, in the first place; an' sackinly, it'll save time;
for, plase Goodness, I'll have everything ready for houldin' the weddin'
the Monday afther the last call. By the hole o' my coat, the minute I get
the clo'es we'll be spliced, an' thin for the honeymoon!"
"How much money shall I give him?" said the priest.
"Indeed, sir, I think you ought to know that; I'm ignorant o' what 'ud
make a dacent weddin'. We don't intend to get married undher a hedge;
we've frinds an both sides, an' of course, we must have them about us,
"Be gorra, sir, it's no wondher I'm fond of her, the darlin'? Bad win to
you, Mrs. Doran, how did you come over me at all?"
"Bridget," said the priest, "I have asked you a simple question, to which
I expect a plain answer. What money am I to give this tallow-hearted swain
"Why, your Reverence, whatsomever you think may be enough for full, an'
plinty, an' dacency, at the weddin'."
"Not forgetting the thatch for me, in the mane time," said Phelim.
"Nothin' less will sarve us, plase your Reverence. Maybe, sir, you'd think
'of comin' to the weddin' yourself?"
"There are in my hands," observed the priest, "one hundred and twenty-two
guineas of your money, Bridget. Here, Phelim, are ten for your wedding
suit and wedding expenses. Go to your wedding! No! don't suppose for a
moment that I countenance this transaction in the slightest degree. I
comply with your wishes, because I heartily despise you both; but
certainly this foolish old woman most. Give me an acknowledgment for this,
"God bless you, sir!" said Phelim, as if he had paid them a compliment.
"In regard o' the acknowledgment, sir, I acknowledge it wid all my heart;
but bad luck to the scrape at all I can write."
"Well, no matter. You admit, Bridget, that I give this money to this
blessed youth by your authority and consent."
"Surely, your Reverence; I'll never go back of it."
"Now, Phelim," said the priest, "you have the money; pray get married as
soon as possible."
"I'll give you my oath," said Phelim; "an' be the blessed iron tongs in
the grate there, I'll not lose a day in gettin' myself spliced. Isn't she
the tendher-hearted sowl, your Reverence? Augh, Mrs. Doran!"
"Leave my place," said the priest. "I cannot forget the old proverb, that
one fool makes many, but an old fool is worse than any. So it is with this
"Ould woman! Oh, thin, I'm sure I don't desarve this from your Reverence!"
exclaimed the housekeeper, wiping her eyes: "if I'm a little seasoned now,
you know I wasn't always so. If ever there was a faithful sarvant, I was
that, an' managed your house and place as honestly as I'll manage my own,
As they left the parlor, Phelim became the consoler.
"Whisht, you darlin'!" he exclaimed. "Sure you'll have Bouncin' Phelim to
comfort you. But now that he has shut the door, what—hem—I'd
take it as a piece o' civility if you'd open my eyes a little; I mane—hem—was
it—is this doin' him, or how? Are you—hem—do you
undherstand me, Mrs. Doran?"
"What is it you want to know, Phelim? I think everything is very plain."
"Oh, the divil a plainer, I suppose. But in the mane time, might one axe,
out o' mere curiosity, if you're in airnest?"
"In airnest! Arrah, what did I give you my money for, Phelim? Well, now
that everything is settled, God forgive you if you make a bad husband to
"A bad what?"
"I say, God forgive you if you make a bad husband to me. I'm afeard,
Phelim, that I'll be too foolish about you—that I'll be too fond of
Phelim looked at her in solemn silence, and then replied—"Let us
trust in God that you may be enabled to overcome the weakness. Pray to Him
to avoid all folly, an' above everything, to give you a dacent stock of
discration, for it's a mighty fine thing for a woman of your yea—hem—a
mighty fine thing it is, indeed, for a sasoned woman, as you say you are."
"When will the weddin' take place, Phelim?"
"The what?" said Phelim, opening his brisk eye with a fresh stare of
"Why, the weddin', acushla. When will it take place? I think the Monday
afther the last call 'ud be the best time. We wouldn't lose a day thin.
Throth, I long to hear my last call over, Phelim, jewel."
Phelim gave her another look.
"The last call! Thin, by the vestment, you don't long half as much for
your last call as I do."
"Arrah, Phoilim, did you take the—the—what you wor wantin'
awhile agone? Throth, myself disremimbers."
"Ay, around dozen o' them. How can you forget it?"
The idiot in the corner here gave a loud snore, but composed himself to
sleep, as if insensible to all that passed.
"Throth, an' I do forget it. Now, Phelim, you'll not go till you take a
cup o' tay wid myself. Throth, I do forget it, Phelim darlin', jewel."
Phelim's face now assumed a very queer expression. He twisted his features
into all possible directions; brought his mouth first round to one ear and
then to the other; put his hand, as if in great pain, on the pit of his
stomach; lifted one knee up till it almost touched his chin, then let it
down, and instantly brought up the other in a similar manner.
"Phelim, darlin', what ails you?" inquired the tender old nymph. "Wurrah,
man alive, aren't you well?"
"Oh, be the vestment," said Phelim, "what's this at all? Murdher, sheery,
what'll I do! Oh, I'm very bad! At death's door, so I am! Be gorra, Mrs.
Doran, I must be off."
"Wurrah, Phelim dear, won't you stop till we settle everything?"
"Oh, purshuin' to the ha'p'orth I can settle till I recover o' this
murdherin' colic! All's asthray wid me in the inside. I'll see you—I'll
see you—Hanim an dioul! what's this?—I must be off like
a shot—oh, murdher sheery?—but—but—I'll see you
to-morrow. In the mane time, I'm—I'm—for ever oblaged to you
for—for—lendin' me the—loan of—oh, by the
vestments, I'm a gone man!—for lendin' me the loan of the ten
guineas—Oh, I'm gone!"
Phelim disappeared on uttering these words, and his strides on passing out
of the house were certainly more rapid and vigorous than those of a man
laboring under pain. In fact, he never looked behind him until one-half
the distance between the priest's house and his father's cabin had been
Some misgivings occurred to the old housekeeper, but her vanity, having
been revived by Phelim's blarney, would not permit her to listen to them.
She had, besides, other motive to fortify her faith in his attachment.
First, there was her money, a much larger sum than ever Phelim could
expect with any other woman, young or old; again, they were to be called
on the following Sunday, and she knew that when a marriage affair proceeds
so far, obstruction or disappointment is not to be apprehended.
When Phelim reached home, he found the father returned after having
borrowed a full suit of clothes for him. Sam Appleton on hearing from
Larry that Bouncing Phelim was about to get a "Great Match,"* generously
lent him coat, waistcoat, hat, and small-clothes.
* When a country girl is said to have a large fortune,
the peasantry, when speaking of her in reference to
matrimony, say she's a "Great Match."
When Phelim presented himself at home, he scarcely replied to the queries
put to him by his father and mother concerning his interview with the
priest. He sat down, rubbed his hands, scratched his head, rose up, and
walked to and fro, in a mood of mind so evidently between mirth and
chagrin, that his worthy parents knew not whether to be merry or
"Phelim," said the mother, "did you take anything while you wor away?"
"Did I take anything! is it? Arrah, be asy, ould woman! Did I take
anything! Faith you may say that!"
"Let us know, anyhow, what's the matther wid you?' asked the father.
"Tare-an'-ounze!" exclaimed the son, "what is this for, at all at all?
It's too killin' I am, so it is."
"You're not lookin' at Sam Appleton's clo'es," said the father, "that he
lent you the loan of, hat an' all?"
"Do you want to put an affront upon me, ould man? To the divil wid himself
an' his clo'es! When I wants clo'es I'll buy them wid my own money!'
"Larry," observed the mother, "there's yourself all over—as proud as
a payoock when the sup's in your head, an' 'ud spake as big widout the
sign o' money in your pocket, as if you had the rint of an estate."
"What do you say about the sign o' money?" exclaimed Phelim, with a
swagger. "Maybe you'll call that the sign o' money!" he added, producing
the ten guineas in gold. The father and mother looked at it for a
considerable time, then at each other, and shook their heads.
"Phelim!" said the father, solemnly. "Phelim!" said the mother, awfully;
and both shook their heads again.
"You wor never over-scrupulous," the father proceeded, "an' you know you
have many little things to answer for, in the way of pickin' up what
didn't belong to yourself. I think, too, you're not the same boy you wor
afore you tuck to swearin' the alibies.
"Faith, an' I doubt I'll haye to get some one to swear an alibi for myself
soon," Phelim replied.
"Why, blessed hour!" said Larry, "didn't I often tell you never to join
the boys in anything that might turn out a hangin' matther?"
"If this is not a hangin' matther," said Phelim, "it's something nearly as
bad: it's a marryin' matther. Sure I deluded another since you seen me
last. Divil a word o' lie in it. I was clane fell in love wid this mornin'
about seven o'clock."
"But how did you get the money, Phelim?"
"Why, from the youthful sprig that fell in love wid me. Sure we're to be
'called' in the Chapel on Sunday next."
"Why thin now, Phelim! An' who is the young crathur? for in throth she
must be young to go to give the money beforehand!"
"Murdher!" exclaimed Phelim, "what's this for! Was ever any one done as I
am? Who is she! Why she's—oh, murdher, oh!—she's no other than—hem—divil
a one else than Father O'Hara's housekeeper, ould Biddy Doran!"
The mirth of the old couple was excessive. The father laughed till he fell
off his stool, and the mother till the tears ran down her cheeks.
"Death alive; ould man! but you're very merry," said Phelim. "If you wor
my age, an' in such an' amplush, you'd laugh on the wrong side o' your
mouth. Maybe you'll tarn your tune when you hear that she has a hundhre
and twenty guineas."
"An' you'll be rich, too," said the father. "The sprig an' you will be
rich!—ha, ha, ha!"
"An' the family they'll have!" said the mother, in convulsions.
"Why, in regard o' that," said Phelim, rather nettled, "if all fails us,
sure we can do as my father and you did: kiss the Lucky Stone, an' make a
"Phelim, aroon," said the mother, seriously, "put it out o' your head.
Sure you wouldn't go to bring me a daughter-in-law oulder nor myself?"
"I'd as soon go over," (* be transported) said Phelim; "or swing itself,
before I'd marry sich a piece o' desate. Hard feelin' to her! how she did
me to my face!"
Phelim then entered into a long-visaged detail of the scene at Father
O'Hara's, dwelling bitterly on the alacrity with which the old housekeeper
ensnared him in his own mesh.
"However," he concluded, "she'd be a sharp one if she'd do me altogether.
We're not married yet; an' I've a consate of my own, that she's done for
the ten guineas, any how!"
A family council was immediately held upon Phelim's matrimonial prospects.
On coming close to the speculation of Miss Patterson, it was somehow
voted, notwithstanding Phelim's powers of attraction, to be rather a
discouraging one. Gracey Dalton was also given up. The matter was now
serious, the time short, and Phelim's bounces touching his own
fascinations with the sex in general, were considerably abated. It was
therefore resolved that he ought to avail himself of Sam Appleton's
clothes, until his own could be made. Sam, he said, would not press him
for them immediately, inasmuch as he was under obligations to Phelim's
silence upon some midnight excursions that he had made.
"Not," added Phelim, "but I'm as much, an' maybe more in his power, than
he is in mine."
When breakfast was over, Phelim and the father, after having determined to
"drink a bottle" that night in the family of an humble young woman, named
Donovan, who, they all agreed, would make an excellent wife for him,
rested upon their oars until evening. In the meantime, Phelim sauntered
about the village, as he was in the habit of doing, whilst the father kept
the day as a holiday. We have never told our readers that Phelim was in
love, because in fact we know not whether he was or not. Be this as it
may, we simply inform them, that in a little shed in the lower end of the
village, lived a person with whom Phelim was very intimate, called Foodie
Flattery. He was, indeed, a man after Phelim's own heart, and Phelim was a
boy after his. He maintained himself by riding country races; by handing,
breeding, and feeding cocks; by fishing, poaching, and serving processes;
and finally, by his knowledge as a cow-doctor and farrier—into the
two last of which he had given Phelim some insight. We say the two last,
for in most of the other accomplishments Phelim was fully his equal.
Phelim frequently envied him his life. It was an idle, amusing, vagabond
kind of existence, just such a one as he felt a relish for. This man had a
daughter, rather well-looking; and it so happened, that he and Phelim had
frequently spent whole nights out together, no one knew on what
employment. Into Flattery's house did Phelim saunter with something like
an inclination to lay the events of the day before him, and to ask his
advice upon his future prospects. On entering the cabin he was much
surprised to find the daughter in a very melancholy mood; a circumstance
which puzzled him not a little, as he knew that they lived very
harmoniously together. Sally had been very useful to her father; and, if
fame did not belie her, was sometimes worthy Foodie's assistant in his
nocturnal exploits. She was certainly reputed to be "light-handed;" an
imputation which caused the young men of her acquaintance to avoid, in
their casual conversations with her, any allusion to matrimony.
"Sally, achora," said Phelim, when he saw her in distress, "what's the
fun? Where's your father?"
"Oh, Phelim," she replied, bursting into tears, "long runs the fox, but
he's cotch at last. My father's in gaol."
Phelim's jaw dropped. "In gaol! Chorp an diouol, no!"
"It's thruth, Phelim. Curse upon this Whiteboy business, I wish it never
had come into the counthry at all."
"Sally, I must see him; you know I must. But tell me how it happened? Was
it at home he was taken?"
"No; he was taken this mornin' in the market. I was wid him sellin' some
chickens. What'll you and Sam Appleton do, Phelim?"
"Uz! Why, what danger is there to either Sim or me, you darlin'?"
"I'm sure, Phelim, I don't know; but he tould me, that if I was provided
for, he'd be firm, an' take chance of his thrial. But, he says, poor man,
that it 'ud break his heart to be thransported, lavin' me behind him wid'
nobody to take care o' me.—He says, too, if anything 'ud make him
stag, it's fear of the thrial goin' against himself; for, as he said to
me, what 'ud become of you, Sally, if anything happened me?"
A fresh flood of tears followed this disclosure, and Phelim's face, which
was certainly destined to undergo on that day many variations of aspect,
became remarkably blank.
"Sally, you insinivator, I'll hould a thousand guineas you'd never guess
what brought me here to-day?"
"Arrah, how could I, Phelim? To plan some thin' wid my fadher, maybe."
"No, but to plan somethin' wid yourself, you coaxin' jewel you. Now tell
me this—Would you marry a certain gay, roguish, well-built young
fellow, they call Bouncin' Phelim?"
"Phelim, don't be gettin' an wid your fun now, an' me in affliction. Sure,
I know well you wouldn't throw yourself away upon a poor girl like me,
that has nothin' but a good pair of hands to live by."
"Be me sowl, an' you live by them. Well, but set in case—supposin'—that
same Bouncin' Phelim was willing to make you mistress of the Half Acre,
what 'ud you be sayin'?"
"Phelim, if a body thought you worn't jokin' them—ah, the dickens go
wid you, Phelim—this is more o' your thricks—but if it was
thruth you wor spakin', Phelim?"
"It is thruth," said Phelim; "be the vestment, it's nothin' else. Now, say
yes or no; for if it's a thing that it's to be a match, you must go an'
tell him that I'll marry you, an' he must be as firm as a rock. But see,
Sally, by thim five crasses it's not bekase your father's in I'm marryin'
you at all. Sure I'm in love wid you, acushla! Divil a lie in it. Now, yes
"Well—throth—to be sure—the sorra one, Phelim, but you
have quare ways wid you. Now are you downright in airnest?"
"Be the stool I'm sittin' on!"
"Well, in the name o' Goodness, I'll go to my father, an' let him know it.
Poor man, it'll take the fear out of his heart. Now can he depind on you,
"Why, all I can say is, that we'll get ourselves called on Sunday next.
Let himself, sure, send some one to autorise the priest to call us. An'
now that's all settled, don't I desarve somethin'? Oh, be gorra, surely."
"Behave, Phelim—oh—oh—Phelim, now—there you've
tuck it—och, the curse o' the crows on you, see the way you have my
hair down! There now, you broke my comb, too. Troth, you're a wild slip,
Phelim. I hope you won't be goin' on this way wid the girls, when you get
"Is it me you coaxer? No, faith, I'll wear a pair of winkers, for fraid o'
lookin' at them at all! Oh be gorra, no, bally, I'll lave that to the
great people. Sure, they say, the divil a differ they make at all."
"Go off now, Phelim, till I get ready, an' set out to my father. But,
Phelim, never breathe a word about him bein' in goal. No one knows it but
ourselves—that is, none o' the neighbors."
"I'll sing dumb," said Phelim. "Well, binaght lath, a rogarah!*
Tell him the thruth—to be game, an' he'll find you an' me sweeled
together whin he comes out, plase Goodness."
* My blessing be with you, you rogue!
Phelim was but a few minutes gone, when the old military cap of Fool Art
projected from the little bed-room, which a wicker wall, plastered with
mud, divided from the other part of the cabin.
"Is he gone?" said Art.
"You may come out, Art," said she, "he's gone."
"Ha!" said Art, triumphantly, "I often tould him, when he vexed me an'
pelted me wid snow-balls, that I'd come along sides wid him yet. An' it's
not over aither. Fool Art can snore when he's not asleep, an' see wid his
eyes shut. Wherroo for Art!"
"But, Art, maybe he intinds to marry the housekeeper afther all?"
"Hi the colic, the colic!
An' ho the colic for Phelim!"
"Then you think he won't, Art?"
"Hi the colic, the colic!
An' ho the colic for Phelim!"
"Now, Art, don't say a word about my father not bein' in gaol. He's to be
back from my grandfather's in a short time, an' if we manage well, you'll
see what you'll get, Art—a brave new shirt, Art."
"Art has the lane for Phelim, but it's not the long one wid no turn in it.
Wherroo for Art!"
Phelim, on his return home, felt queer; here was a second matrimonial
predicament, considerably worse than the first, into which he was hooked
decidedly against his will. The worst feature in this case was the danger
to be apprehended from Foodie Flattery's disclosures, should he take it
into his head to 'peach upon his brother Whiteboys. Indeed, Phelim began
to consider it a calamity that he ever entered into their system at all;
for, on running over his exploits along with them, he felt that he was
liable to be taken up any morning of the week, and lodged in one of his
majesty's boarding-houses. The only security he had was the honesty of his
confederates; and experience took the liberty of pointing out to him many
cases in which those who considered themselves quite secure, upon the same
grounds, either dangled or crossed the water. He remembered, too, some
prophecies that had been uttered concerning him with reference both to
hanging and matrimony. Touching the former it was often said, that "he'd
die where the bird flies"—between heaven and earth; on matrimony,
that there seldom was a swaggerer among the girls but came to the ground
Now Phelim had a memory of his own, and in turning over his situation, and
the prophecies that had been so confidently pronounced concerning him, he
felt, as we said, rather queer. He found his father and mother in
excellent spirits when he got home. The good man had got a gallon of
whiskey on credit; for it had been agreed on not to break the ten golden
guineas until they should have ascertained how the matchmaking would
terminate that night at Donovan's.
"Phelim," said the father, "strip yourself, an' put on Sam's clo'es: you
must send him down yours for a day or two; he says it's the least he may
have the wearin' o' them, so long as you have his."
"Right enough," said Phelim; "Wid all my heart; I'm ready to make a fair
swap wid him any day, for that matther."
"I sent word to the Donovans that we're to go to coort there to night,"
said Larry; "so that they'll be prepared for us; an' as it would be shabby
not to have a friend, I asked Sam Appleton himself. He's to folly us."
"I see," said Phelim, "I see. Well, the best boy in Europe Sam is, for
such a spree. Now, Fadher, you must lie like the ould diouol tonight. Back
everything I say, an' there's no fear of us. But about what she's to get,
you must hould out for that. I'm to despise it, you know. I'll abuse you
for spakin' about fortune, but don't budge an inch."
"It's not the first time I've done that for you, Phelim; but in regard o'
these ten guineas, why you must put them in your pocket for fraid they be
wantin' to get off wid layin' down guinea for guinea. You see, they don't
think we have a rap; an' if they propose it we'll be up to them."
"Larry," observed Sheelah, "don't make a match except they give that pig
they have. Hould out for that by all means."
"Tare-an'-ounze!" exclaimed Phelim, "am I goin' to take the counthry out
o' the face? By the vestments, I'm a purty boy! Do you know the fresh news
I have for yez?"
"Not ten guineas more, Phelim?" replied the father.
"Maybe you soodhered another ould woman," said the mother.
"Be asy," replied Phelim. "No, but the five crasses, I deluded a young one
since! I went out!"
The old couple were once more disposed to be mirthful; but Phelim
confirmed his assertion with such a multiplicity of oaths, that they
believed him. Nothing, however, could wring the secret of her name out of
him. He had reasons for concealing it which he did not wish to divulge. In
fact, he could never endure ridicule, and the name of Sally Flattery, as
the person whom he had "deluded," would constitute, on his part, a triumph
quite as sorry as that which he had achieved in Father O'Hara's. In
Ireland no man ever thinks of marrying a female thief—which Sally
was strongly suspected to be—except some worthy fellow, who happens
to be gifted with the same propensity.
When the proper hour arrived, honest Phelim, after having already made
arrangements to be called on the following Sunday, as the intended husband
of two females, now proceeded with great coolness to make, if possible, a
similar engagement with a third. There is something, however, to be said
for Phelim. His conquest over the housekeeper was considerably out of the
common course of love affairs. He had drawn upon his invention, only to
bring himself and the old woman out of the ridiculous predicament in which
the priest found them. He had, moreover, intended to prevail on her to
lend him the hat, in case the priest himself had refused him. He was
consequently not prepared for the vigorous manner in which Mrs. Doran
fastened upon the subject of matrimony. On suspecting that she was
inclined to be serious, he pleaded his want of proper apparel; but here
again the liberality of the housekeeper silenced him, whilst, at the same
time, it opened an excellent prospect of procuring that which he most
required—a decent suit of clothes. This induced him to act a part
that he did not feel. He saw the old woman was resolved to outwit him, and
he resolved to overreach the old woman.
His marriage with Sally Flattery was to be merely a matter of chance. If
he married her at all, he knew it must be in self-defence. He felt that
her father had him in his power, and that he was anything but a man to be
depended on. He also thought that his being called with her, on the Sunday
following, would neutralize his call with the housekeeper; just as
positive and negative quantities in algebra cancel each other. But he was
quite ignorant that the story of Flattery's imprisonment was merely a plan
of the daughter's to induce him to marry her.
With respect to Peggy Donovan, he intended, should he succeed in
extricating himself from the meshes which the other two had thrown around
him, that she should be the elected one to whom he was anxious to unite
himself. As to the confusion produced by being called to three at once, he
knew that, however laughable in itself, it would be precisely something
like what the parish would expect from him. Bouncing Phelim was no common
man, and to be called to three on the same Sunday, would be a
corroboration of his influence with the sex. It certainly chagrined him
not a little that one of them was an old woman, and the other of
indifferent morals; but still it exhibited the claim of three women upon
one man, and that satisfied him. His mode of proceeding with Peggy Donovan
was regular, and according to the usages of the country. The notice had
been given that he and his father would go a courting, and of course they
brought the whiskey with them, that being the custom among persons in
their circumstances in life. These humble courtships very much resemble
the driving of a bargain between two chapmen; for, indeed, the closeness
of the demands on the one side, and the reluctance of concession on the
other, are almost incredible. Many a time has a match been broken up by a
refusal on the one part, to give a slip of a pig, or a pair of blankets,
or a year-old calf. These are small matters in themselves, but they are of
importance to those who, perhaps, have nothing else on earth with which to
begin the world. The house to which Phelim and his father directed
themselves was, like their own, of the-humblest description. The floor of
it was about sixteen feet by twelve; its furniture rude and scanty. To the
right of the fire was a bed, the four posts of which ran up to the low
roof; it was curtained with straw mats, with the exception of an opening
about a foot and a half wide on the side next the fire, through which
those who slept in it passed. A little below the foot of the bed were
ranged a few shelves of deal, supported by pins of wood driven into the
wall. These constituted the dresser. In the lower end of the house stood a
potato-bin, made up of stakes driven into the floor, and wrought with
strong wicker-work. Tied to another stake beside this bin stood a cow,
whose hinder part projected so close to the door, that those who entered
the cabin were compelled to push her over out of their way. This, indeed,
was effected without much difficulty, for the animal became so habituated
to the necessity of moving aside, that it was only necessary to lay the
hand upon her. Above the door in the inside, almost touching the roof, was
the hen-roost, made also of wicker-work; and opposite the bed, on the
other side of the fire, stood a meal-chest.
Its lid on a level with the little pane of glass which served as a window.
An old straw chair, a few stools, a couple of pots, some wooden vessels
and crockery, completed the furniture of the house. The pig to which
Sheolah alluded was not kept within the cabin, that filthy custom being
now less common than formerly.
This catalogue of cottage furniture may appear to our English readers very
miserable. We beg them to believe, however, that if every cabin in Ireland
were equally comfortable, the country would be comparatively happy. Still
it is to be remembered, that the dramatis personae of our story are
of the humblest class.
When seven o'clock drew nigh, the inmates of this little cabin placed
themselves at a clear fire; the father at one side, the mother at the
other, and the daughter directly between them, knitting, for this is
usually the occupation of a female on such a night. Everything in the
house was clean; the floor swept; the ashes removed from the hearth; the
parents in their best clothes, and the daughter also in her holiday
apparel. She was a plain girl, neither remarkable for beauty, nor
otherwise. Her eyes, however, were good, so were her teeth, and an anxious
look, produced of course by an occasion so interesting to a female,
heightened her complexion to a blush that became her. The creature had
certainly made the most of her little finery. Her face shone like that of
a child after a fresh scrubbing with a strong towel; her hair, carefully
curled with the hot blade of a knife, had been smoothed with soap until it
became lustrous by repeated polishing, and her best red ribbon was tied
tightly about it in a smart knot, that stood out on the side of her head
with something of a coquettish air. Old Donovan and his wife maintained a
conversation upon some indifferent subject, but the daughter evidently
paid little attention to what they said. It being near the hour appointed
for Phelim's arrival, she sat with an appearance of watchful trepidation,
occasionally listening, and starting at every sound that she thought bore
any resemblance to a man's voice or footstep.
At length the approach of Phelim and his father was announced by a verse
of a popular song, for singing which Phelim was famous;—
"A sailor coorted a farmer's daughter
That lived contagious to the Isle of Man,
A long time coortin', an' still discoorsin'
Of things consarnin' the ocean wide;
At linth he saize, 'My own dearest darlint,
Will you consint for to be my bride?'"
"An' so she did consint, the darlin', but what the puck would she do else?
God save the family! Paddy Donovan, how is your health? Molly, avourneen,
I'm glad to hear that you're thrivin'. An' Peggy—eh? Ah, be gorra,
fadher, here's somethin' to look at! Give us the hand of you, you bloomer!
Och, och! faith you're the daisey!"
"Phelim," said the father, "will you behave yourself? Haven't you the
night before you for your capers? Paddy Donovan, I'm glad to see you!
Molly, give us your right hand, for, in troth, I have a regard for you!
Peggy, dear, how are you? But I'm sure, I needn't be axin when I look at
you! In troth, Phelim, she is somethin' to throw your eye at."
"Larry Toole, you're welcome," replied Donovan and his wife, "an' so is
your son. Take stools both of you, an' draw near the hearth. Here,
Phelim," said the latter, "draw in an' sit beside myself."
"Thank you kindly, Molly," replied Phelim; "but I'll do no sich thing..
Arrah, do you think, now, that I'd begin to gosther wid an ould woman,
while I have the likes o' Peggy, the darlin', beside me? I'm up to a
thrick worth nine of it. No, no; this chest 'll do. Sure you know, I must
help the 'duck of diamonds' here to count her stitches."
"Paddy," said Larry, in a friendly whisper, "put this whiskey past for a
while, barrin' this bottle that we must taste for good luck. Sam
Appleton's to come up afther us an', I suppose, some o' your own cleavens
'll be here afther a while."
"Thrue for you," said Donovan. "Jemmy Burn and Antony Devlin is to come
over presently. But, Larry, this is nonsense. One bottle o' whiskey was
lashins; my Goodness, what'll we be doin' wid a whole gallon?"
"Dacency or nothin', Paddy; if it was my last I'd show sperit, an' why
not? Who'd be for the shabby thing?"
"Well, well, Larry, I can't say but you're right afther all! Maybe I'd do
the same thing myself, for all I'm spakin' aginst it."
The old people then passed round an introductory glass, after which they
chatted away for an hour or so, somewhat like the members of a committee
who talk upon indifferent topics until their brethren are all assembled.
Phelim, in the meantime, grappled with the daughter, whose knitting he
spoiled by hooking the thread with his finger, jogging her elbow until he
ran the needles past each other, and finally unravelling her clew; all
which she bore with great good-humor. Sometimes, indeed, she ventured to
give him a thwack upon the shoulder, with a laughing frown upon her
countenance, in order to correct him for teasing her.
When Jemmy Burn and Antony Devlin arrived, the spirits of the party got
up. The whiskey was formally produced, but as yet the subject of the
courtship, though perfectly understood, was not introduced. Phelim and the
father were anxious to await the presence of Sam Appleton, who was
considered, by the way, a first-rate hand at match-making.
Phelim, as is the wont, on finding the din of the conversation raised to
the proper pitch, stole one of the bottles and prevailed on Peggy to
adjourn with him to the potato-bin. Here they ensconced themselves very
snugly; but not, as might be supposed, contrary to the knowledge and
consent of the seniors, who winked at each other on seeing Phelim
gallantly tow her down with the bottle under his arm. It was only the
common usage on such occasions, and not considered any violation
whatsoever of decorum. When Phelim's prior engagements are considered, it
must be admitted that there was something singularly ludicrous in the
humorous look he gave over his shoulder at the company, as he went toward
the bin, having the bottom of the whiskey-bottle projecting behind his
elbow, winking at them in return, by way of a hint to mind their own
business and allow him to plead for himself. The bin, however, turned out
to be rather an uneasy seat, for as the potatoes lay in a slanting heap
against the wall, Phelim and his sweetheart were perpetually sliding down
from the top to the bottom. Phelim could be industrious when it suited his
pleasure. In a few minutes those who sat about the fire imagined, from the
noise at the bin, that the house was about to come about their ears.
"Phelim, you thief," said the father, "what's all that noise for?"
"Chrosh orrin!" (* The cross be about us!) said Molly Donovan, "is
"Devil carry these piatees," exclaimed Phelim, raking them down with both
hands and all his might, "if there's any sittin' at all upon them! I'm
levellin' them to prevint Peggy, the darlin', from slidderin' an' to give
us time to be talkin', somethin' lovin' to one another. The curse o'
Cromwell an them! One might as well dhrink a glass o' whiskey wid his
sweetheart, or spake a tinder word to her, on the wings of a windmill as
here. There now, they're as level as you plase, acushla! Sit down, you
jewel you, an' give me the egg-shell, till we have our Sup o' the crathur
in comfort. Faith, it was too soon for us to be comin' down in the world?"
Phelim and Peggy having each emptied the egg-shell, which among the poorer
Irish is frequently the substitute for a glass, entered into the following
sentimental dialogue, which was covered by the loud and entangled
conversation of their friends about the fire; Phelim's arm lovingly about
her neck, and his head laid down snugly against her cheek.
"Now, Peggy, you darlin' o' the world—bad cess to me but I'm as glad
as two ten-pennies that I levelled these piatees; there was no sittin' an
them. Eh, avourneen?"
"Why, we're comfortable now, anyhow, Phelim!"
"Faith, you may say that—(a loving squeeze). Now, Peggy, begin an'
tell us all about your bachelors."
"The sarra one ever I had, Phelim."
"Oh, murdher sheery, what a bounce! Bad cess to me, if you can spake a
word o' thruth afther that, you common desaver! Worn't you an' Paddy Moran
pullin' a coard?"
"No, in throth; it was given out on us, but we never wor, Phelim. Nothin'
ever passed betune us but common civility. He thrated my father an' mother
wanst to share of half a pint in the Lammas Fair, when I was along wid
them; but he never broke discoorse wid me barrin', as I sed, in civility
"An' do you mane to put it down my throath that you never had a sweetheart
"The nerra one."
"Oh, you thief! Wid two sich lips o' your own, an' two sich eyes o' your
own, an' two sich cheeks o' your own! Oh,—, by the tarn, that won't
"Well, an' supposin' I had—behave Phelim—supposin' I had,
where's the harm? Sure it's well known all the sweethearts, you had, an'
have yet, I suppose."
"Be gorra, an' that's thruth; an' the more the merrier, you jewel you,
till, one get's married. I had enough of them, in my day, but you're the
flower o' them all, that I'd like to spend my life wid"—(a squeeze.)
"The sorra one word the men say a body can trust. I warrant you tould that
story to every one o' them as well as to me. Stop Phelim—it's well
known that what you say to the colleens is no gospel. You know what they
christened you 'Bouncin' Phelim!"
"Betune you an' me, Peggy, I'll tell you a sacret; I was the boy for
deludin them. It's very well known the matches I might a got; but you see,
you little shaver, it was waitin' for yourself I was."
"For me! A purty story indeed I'm sure it was! Oh, afther that! Why,
Phelim, how can you——Well, well, did any one ever hear the
"Be the vestments, it's thruth. I had you in my eye these three years, but
was waitin' till I'd get together as much money as ud' set us up in the
world dacently. Give me that egg-shell agin. Talkin's dhruthy work. Shudorth,
a rogarah! (* This to you you rogue) an' a pleasant honeymoon to us!"
"Wait till we're married first, Phelim; thin it'll be time enough to
"Come, acushla, it's your turn now; taste the shell, an' you'll see how
lovin' it'll make us. Mother's milk's a thrifle to it."
"Well, if I take this, Phelim, I'll not touch another dhrop to-night. In
the mane time here's whatever's best for us! Whoo! Oh, my! but that's
strong! I dunna how the people can dhrink so much of it!"
"Faith, nor me; except bekase they have a regard for it, an' that it's
worth havin' a regard for, jist like yourself an' me. Upon my faix, Peggy,
it bates all, the love an likin' I have for you, an' ever had these three
years past. I tould you about the eyes, mavourneen, an'—an'—about
"Phelim—behave—I say—now stop wid you—well—well—but
you're the tazin' Phelim!—Throth the girls may be glad when you're
married," exclaimed Peggy, adjusting her polished hair.
"Bad cess to the bit, if ever I got so sweet a one in my life—the
soft end of a honeycomb's a fool to it. One thing, Peggy, I can tell you—that
I'll love you in great style. Whin we're marrid it's I that'll soodher you
up. I won't let the wind blow on you. You must give up workin', too. All
I'll ax you to do will be to nurse the childhre; an' that same will keep
you busy enough, plase Goodness."
"Upon my faix, Phelim, you're the very sarra, so you are. Will you be asy
now? I'll engage when you're married, it'll soon be another story wid you.
Maybe you'd care little about us thin!"
"Be the vestments, I'm spakin' pure gospel, so I am. Sure you don't know
that to be good husbands runs in our family. Every one of them was as
sweet as thracle to their wives. Why, there's that ould cock, my fadher,
an' if you'd see how he butthers up the ould woman to this day, it 'ud
make your heart warm to any man o' the family."
"Ould an' young was ever an' always the same to you, Phelim. Sure the
ouldest woman in the parish, if she happened to be single, couldn't miss
of your blarney. It's reported you're goin' to be marrid to an ould
"He—-hem—ahem! Bad luck to this cowld I have! it's stickin' in
my throath entirely, so it is!—hem!—to a what?"
"Why to an ould woman, wid a great deal of the hard goold!"
Phelim put his hand instinctively to his waistcoat pocket, in which he
carried the housekeeper's money.
"Would you oblage one wid her name?"
"You know ould Molly Kavanagh well enough, Phelim."
Phelim put up an inward ejaculation of thanks.
"To the sarra wid her, an' all sasoned women. God be praised that the
night's line, anyhow! Hand me the shell, an' we'll take a gauliogue
aich, an' afther that we'll begin an' talk over how lovin' an' fond o' one
another we'll be."
"You're takin' too much o' the whiskey, Phelim. Oh, for Goodness' sake!—oh—b—b—n—now
be asy. Faix, I'll go to the fire, an' lave you altogether, so I will, if
you don't give over slustherin' me, that way, an' stoppin' my breath."
"Here's all happiness to our two selves, acushla machree! Now thry
another gauliogue, an' you'll see how deludin' it'll make you."
"Not a sup, Phelim."
"Arrah, nonsense! Be the vestment, it's as harmless as new milk from the
cow. It'll only do you good, alanna. Come now, Peggy, don't be ondacent,
an' it our first night's coortin'! Blood alive! don't make little o' my
father's son on sich a night, an' us at business like this, anyhow!"
"Phelim, by the crass, I won't take it; so that ends it. Do you want to
make little o' me? It's not much you'd think o' me in your mind, if I'd
"The shell's not half full."
"I wouldn't brake my oath for all the whiskey in the kingdom; so don't ax
me. It's neither right nor proper of you to force it an me."
"Well, all I say is, that it's makin' little of one Phelim O'Toole, that
hasn't a thought in his body but what's over head an' ears in love wid
you. I must only dhrink it for you myself, thin. Here's all kinds o' good
fortune to us! Now, Peggy,—sit closer to me acushla!—Now,
Peggy, are you fond o' me at all? Tell thruth, now."
"Fond o' you! Sure you know all the girls is fond of you. Aren't you the
boy for deludin' them?—ha, ha, ha?"
"Come, come, you shaver; that won't do. Be sarious. If you knew how my
heart's warmin' to you this minute, you'd fall in love wid my shadow.
Come, now, out wid it. Are you fond of a sartin boy not far from you,
called Bouncin' Phelim?"
"To be sure I am. Are you satisfied now? Phelim! I say,"—
"Faith, it won't pass, avourneen. That's not the voice for it. Don't you
hear me, how tendher I spake wid my mouth brathin' into your ear, acushla
machree? Now turn about, like a purty entisin' girl, as you are, an'
put your sweet bill to my ear the same way, an' whisper what you know into
it? That's a darlin'! Will you, achora?"
"An' maybe all this time you're promised to another?"
"Be the vestments, I'm not promised to one. Now! Saize the one!"
"You'll say that, anyhow!"
"Do you see my hands acrass? Be thim five crasses, I'm not promised to a
girl livin', so I'm not, nor wouldn't, bekase I had you in my eye. Now
will you tell me what I'm wantin' you? The grace o' Heaven light down an
you, an' be a good, coaxin darlin' for wanst. Be this an' be that, if ever
you heerd or seen sich doin's an' times as we'll have when we're marrid.
Now the weeny whisper, a colleen dhas."
"It's time enough yet to let you know my mind, Phelim. If you behave
yourself an' be——-Why thin is it at the bottle agin you are?
Now don't dhrink so much, Phelim, or it'll get into your head. I was
sayin' that if you behave yourself, an' be a good boy, I may tell you
"Somethin' soon! Live horse, an' you'll get grass! Peggy, if that's the
way wid you, the love's all on my side, I see clearly. Are you willin' to
marry me, anyhow?"
"I'm willin' to do whatsomever my father an' mother wishes."
"I'm for havin' the weddin' off-hand; an' of coorse, if we agree to-night,
I think our best plan is to have ourselves called on Sunday. An' I'll tell
you what, avourneen—be the holy vestments, if I was to be 'called'
to fifty on the same Sunday, you're the darlin' I'd marry."
"Phelim, it's time for us to go up to the fire; we're long enough here. I
thought you had only three words to say to me."
"Why, if you're tired o' me, Peggy, I don't want you to stop. I wouldn't
force myself on the best girl that ever stepped."
"Sure you have tould me all you want to say, an' there's no use in us
stayin' here. You know, Phelim, there's not a girl in the Parish 'ud
believe a word that 'ud come but o' your lips. Sure there's none o' them
but you coorted one time or other. If you could get betther, Phelim, I
dunna whether you'd be here to-night at all or not."
"Answer me this, Peggy. What do you! think your father 'ud be willin' to
give you? Not that I care a cron abaun about it, for I'd marry you
wid an inch of candle."
"You know my father's but a poor man, Phelim, an' can give little or
nothing. Them that won't marry me as I am, needn't come here to look for a
"I know that, Peggy, an' be the same token, I want no fortune at all wid
you but yourself, darlin'. In the mane time, to show you that I could get
a fortune—Dhera Lorha Heena, I could have a wife wid a hundre
an' twenty guineas!"
Peggy received this intelligence much in the same manner as Larry and
Sheelah had received it. Her mirth was absolutely boisterous for at least
ten minutes. Indeed, so loud had it been, that Larry and her father could
not help asking:—
"Arrah, what's the fun, Peggy, achora?"
"Oh, nothin'," she replied, "but one o' Phelim's bounces."
"Now," said Phelim, "you won't believe me? Be all the books—"
Peggy's mirth prevented his oaths from being heard. In vain he declared,
protested, and swore. On this occasion, he was compelled to experience the
fate peculiar to all liars. Even truth, from his lips, was looked upon as
Phelim, on finding that he could neither extort from Peggy an
acknowledgment of love, nor make himself credible upon the subject of the
large fortune, saw that he had nothing for it now, in order to produce an
impression, but the pathetic.
"Well," said he, "you may lave me, Peggy achora, if you like; but out o'
this I'll not budge, wid a blessing, till I cry my skinful, so I won't.
Saize the toe I'll move, now, till I'm sick wid cryin'! Oh, murdher alive,
this night! Isn't it a poor case entirely, that the girl I'd suffer myself
to be turned inside out for, won't say that she cares about a hair o' my
head! Oh, thin, but I'm the misfortunate blackguard all out! Och, oh!
Peggy, achora, you'll break my heart! Hand me that shell, acushla—for
I'm in the height of affliction!"
Peggy could neither withhold it, nor reply to him. Her mirth was even more
intense now than before; nor, if all were known, was Phelim less affected
with secret laughter than Peggy.
"It is makin' fun o' me you are, you thief, eh?—Is it laughin' at my
grief you are?" exclaimed Phelim. "Be the tarn' o' wor, I'll punish you
Peggy attempted to escape, but Phelim succeeded, ere she went, in taking a
salutation or two, after which both joined those who sat at the fire, and
in a few minutes Sam Appleton entered.
Much serious conversation had already passed in reference to the
courtship, which was finally entered into and debated, pro and con.
"Now, Paddy Donovan, that we're altogether, let me tell you one thing:
there's not a betther natur'd boy, nor a stouther, claner young fellow in
the parish, than my Phelim. He'll make your daughther as good, a husband
as ever broke bread!"
"I'm not sayin' against that, Larry. He is a good-nathur'd boy: but I tell
you, Larry Toole, that my daughter's his fill of a wife any day. An' I'll
put this to the back o' that—she's a hard-workin' girl, that ates no
"Very right," said Sam Appleton. "Phelim's a hairo, an' she's a beauty.
Dang me, but they wor made for one another. Phelim, abouchal, why
don't you—oh, I see you are. Why, I was goin' to bid you make up to
"Give no gosther, Sam," replied Phelim, "but sind round the bottle, an'
don't forget to let it come this way. I hardly tasted a dhrop to-night."
"Oh, Phelim!" exclaimed Peggy.
"Whisht!" said Phelim, "there's no use in lettin' the ould fellows be
committin' sin. Why, they're hearty (* Tipsy) as it is, the sinners."
"Come, nabors," said Burn, "I'm the boy that's for close work. How does
the match stand? You're both my friends, an' may this be poison to me, but
I'll spake like an honest man, for the one as well as for the other.
"Well, then," said Donovan, "how is Phelim to support my daughther, Larry?
Sure that's a fair questin', any way."
"Wiry, Paddy," replied Larry, "when Phelim gets her, he'll have a patch of
his own, as well as another. There's that 'half-acre,' and a betther piece
o' land isn't in Europe!"
"Well, but what plenishin' are they to have, Larry? A bare half acre's but
a poor look up."
"I'd as soon you'd not make little of it, in the mane time," replied
Larry, rather warmly. "As good a couple as ever they wor lived on that
half acre; along wid what they earned by hard work otherwise."
"I'm not disparagin' it, Larry; I'd be long sorry; but about the
furniture? What are they to begin the world wid?"
"Hut," said Devlin, "go to the sarra wid yez!—What 'ud they want, no
more nor other young people like them, to begin the world wid? Are you
goin' to make English or Scotch of them, that never marries till they're
able to buy a farm an' stock it, the nagurs. By the staff in my hand, an
Irish man 'ud lash a dozen o' them, wid all then prudence! Hasn't Phelim
an' Peggy health and hands, what most new-married couples in Ireland
begins the world wid? Sure they're not worse nor a thousand others?"
"Success, Antony," said Phelim. "Here's your health for that!"
"God be thanked they have health and hands," said Donovan. "Still, Antony,
I'd like that they'd have somethin' more."
"Well, then, Paddy, spake up for yourself," observed Larry. "What will you
put to the fore for the colleen? Don't take both flesh an' bone!"
"I'll not spake up, till I know all that Phelim's to expect," said
Donovan. "I don't think he has a right to be axin' anything wid sich a
girl as my Peggy."
"Hut, tut, Paddy! She's a good colleen enough; but do you think she's
above any one that carries the name of O'Toole upon him? Still, it's but
raisonable for you to wish the girl well settled. My Phelim will have one
half o' my worldly goods, at all evints."
"Name them, Larry, if you plase."
"Why, he'll have one o' the goats—the gray one, for she's the best
o' the two, in throth. He'll have two stools; three hens, an' a toss-up
for the cock. The biggest o' the two pots; two good crocks; three good
wooden trenchers, an'—hem—he'll have his own—I say,
Paddy, are you listenin' to me?—Phelim, do you hear what I'm givin'
you, a veehonee?—his own bed! An' there's all I can or will
do for him. Now do you spake up for Peggy."
"I'm to have my own bedstead too," said Phelim, "an' bad cess to the
stouter one in Europe. It's as good this minute as it was eighteen years
"Paddy Donovan, spake up," said Larry.
"Spake up!" said Paddy, contemptuously. "Is it for three crowns' worth I'd
spake up? The bedstead, Phelim! Bedhu husth, (* hold your tongue)
"Put round the bottle," said Phelim, "we're dhry here."
"Thrue enough, Phelim," said the father. "Paddy, here's towarst you an'
yours—nabors—all your healths—young couple! Paddy, give
us your hand, man alive! Sure, whether we agree or not, this won't put
"Throth, it won't, Larry—an' I'm thankful to you. Your health,
Larry, an' all your healths! Phelim an' Peggy, success to yez, whether or
not! An' now, in regard o' your civility, I will spake up. My proposal is
this:—I'll put down guinea for guinea wid you."
Now we must observe, by the way, that this was said under the firm
conviction that neither Phelim nor the father had a guinea in their
"I'll do that same, Paddy," said Larry; "but I'll lave it to the present
company, if you're not bound to put down the first guinea. Nabors, amn't I
"You are right, Larry," said Burn; "it's but fair that Paddy should put
down the first."
"Molly, achora," said Donovan to the wife, who, by the way, was engaged in
preparing the little feast usual on such occasions—"Molly, achora,
give me that ould glove you have in your pocket."
She immediately handed him an old shammy glove, tied up into a hard knot,
which he felt some difficulty in unloosing.
"Come, Larry," said he, laying down a guinea-note, "cover that like a
"Phelim carries my purse," observed the father; but he had scarcely spoken
when the laughter of the company rang loudly through the house—The
triumph of Donovan appeared to be complete, for he thought the father's
alusion to Phelim tantamount to an evasion.
"Phelim! Phelim carries it! Faix, an' I, doubt he finds it a light
Phelim approached in all his glory.
"What am I to do?" he inquired, with a swagger.
"You're to cover that guinea-note wid a guinea, if you can," said Donovan.
"Whether 'ud you prefar goold or notes," said Phelim, looking pompously
about him; "that's the talk."
This was received with another merry peal of laughter.
"Oh, goold—goold by all manes!" replied Donovan.
"Here goes the goold, my worthy," said Phelim, laying down his guinea with
a firm slap upon the table.
Old Donovan seized it, examined it, then sent it round, to satisfy himself
that it was a bona fide guinea.
On finding that it was good, he became blank a little; his laugh lost its
strength, much of his jollity was instantly neutralized, and his face got
at least two inches longer. Larry now had the laugh against him, and the
company heartily joined in it.
"Come, Paddy," said Larry, "go an!—ha, ha, ha!"
Paddy fished for half a minute through the glove; and, after what was
apparently a hard chase, brought up another guinea, which he laid down.
"Come, Phelim!" said he, and his eye brightened again with a hope that
Phelim would fail.
"Good agin!" said Phelim, thundering down another, which was instantly
subjected to a similar scrutiny.
"You'll find it good," said Larry. "I wish we had a sackful o' them. Go
an, Paddy. Go an, man, who's afeard?"
"Sowl, I'm done," said Donovan, throwing down the purse with a hearty
laugh—"give me your hand, Larry. Be the goold afore us, I thought to
do you. Sure these two guineas is for my rint, an' we mustn't let them
come atween us at all."
"Now," said Larry, "to let you see that my son's not widout something to
begin the world wid—Phelim, shill out the rest o' the yallow boys."
"Faix, you ought to dhrink the ould woman's health for this," said Phelim.
"Poor ould crathur, many a long day she was savin' up these for me. It's
my mother I'm speakin' about."
"An' we will, too," said the father; "here's Sheelah's health, neighbors!
The best poor man's wife that ever threwn a gown over her shouldhers."
This was drank with all the honors, and the negotiation proceeded.
"Now," said Appleton, "what's to be done? Paddy, say what you'll do for
"Money's all talk," said Donovan; "I'll give the girl the two-year ould
heifer—an' that's worth double what his father has promised Phelim;
I'll give her a stone o' flax, a dacent suit o' clo'es, my blessin'—an'
there's her fortune."
"Has she neither bed nor beddin'?" inquired Larry.
"Why, don't you say that Phelim's to have his own bed?" observed Donovan.
"Sure one bed 'ill be plinty for them."
"I don't care a damn about fortune," said Phelim, for the first time
taking a part in the bargain—"so long as I get the darlin' herself.
But I think there 'ud be no harm in havin' a spare pair o' blankets—an',
for that matther, a bedstead, too—in case a friend came to see a
"I don't much mind givin' you a brother to the bedstead you have, Phelim,"
replied Donovan, winking at the company, for he was perfectly aware of the
nature of Phelim's bedstead.
"I'll tell you what you must do," said Larry, "otherwise I'll not stand
it. Give the colleen a chaff bed, blankets an' all other parts complate,
along wid that slip of a pig. If you don't do this, Paddy Donovan, why
we'll finish the whiskey an' part friends—but it's no match."
"I'll never do it, Larry. The bed an' beddin' I'll give; but the pig I'll
by no manner o' manes part wid."
"Put round the bottle," said Phelim, "we're gettin' dhry agin—sayin'
nothin' is dhroothy work. Ould man, will you not bother us about fortune!"
"Come, Paddy Donnovan," wid Devlin, "dang it, let out a little, considher
he has ten guineas; and I give it as my downright maxim an opinion, that
he's fairly entitled to the pig."
"You're welcome to give your opinion, Antony, an' I'm welcome not to care
a rotten sthraw about it. My daughter's wife enough for him, widout a gown
to her back, if he had his ten guineas doubled."
"An' my son," said Larry, "is husband enough for a betther girl nor ever
called you father—not makin' little, at the same time, of either you
"Paddy," said Burn, "there's no use in spakin' that way. I agree wid
Antony, that you ought to throw in the 'slip.'"
"Is it what I have to pay my next gale o' rint wid? No, no! If he won't
marry her widout it, she'll get as good that will."
"Saize the 'slip," said Phelim, "the darlin' herself here is all the slip
"But I'm not so," said Larry, "the 'slip' must go in, or it's a brake off.
Phelim can get girls that has money enough to buy us all out o' root. Did
you hear that, Paddy Donovan?"
"I hear it," said Paddy, "but I'll b'lieve as much of it as I like."
Phelim apprehended that as his father got warm with the liquor, he might,
in vindicating the truth of his own assertion, divulge the affair of the
"Ould man," said he "have sinse, an' pass that over, if you have any
regard for Phelim."
"I'd not be brow-bate into anything," observed Donovan.
"Sowl, you would not," said Phelim; "for my part, Paddy, I'm ready to
marry your daughther (a squeeze to Peggy) widout a ha'p'orth at all,
barrin' herself. It's the girl I want, an' not the slip."
"Thin, be the book, you'll get both, Phelim, for your dacency," said
Donovan; "but, you see I wouldn't be bullied into' puttin' one foot past
the other, for the best man that ever stepped on black leather."
"Whish!" said Appleton, "that's the go! Success ould heart! Give us your
hand, Paddy,—here's your good health, an' may you never button an
"Is all settled?" inquired Molly.
"All, but about the weddin' an' the calls," replied her husband. "How are
we to do about that, Larry?"
"Why, in the name o' Goodness, to save time," he replied, "let them be
called on Sunday next, the two Sundays afther, an thin marrid, wid a
"I agree wid that entirely," observed Molly; "an' now Phelim, clear away,
you an' Peggy, off o' that chist, till we have our bit o' supper in
"Phelim," said Larry, "when the suppers done, you must slip over to
Roche's for a couple o' bottles more o' whiskey. We'll make a night of
"There's two bottles in the house," said Donovan; "an', be the saikerment,
the first man that talks of bringin' in more, till these is dhrunk, is
This was decisive. In the meantime, the chest was turned into a table, the
supper laid, and the attack commenced. All was pleasure, fun, and
friendship. The reader may be assured that Phelim, during the negotiation,
had not misspent the time with Peggy, Their conversation, however, was in
a tone too low to be heard by those who were themselves talking loudly.
One thing, however, Phelim understood from his friend Sam Appleton, which
was, that some clue had been discovered to an outrage in which he
(Appleton) had been concerned. Above all other subjects, that was one on
which Phelim was but a poor comforter. He himself found circumspection
necessary; and he told Appleton, that if ever danger approached him, he
had resolved either to enlist, or go to America, if he could command the
"You ought to do that immediately," added Phelim.
"Where's the money?" replied the other. "I don't know," said Phelim; "but
if I was bent on goin', the want of money wouldn't stop me as long as it
could be found in the counthry. We had to do as bad for others, an' it
can't be a greater sin to do that much for ourselves."
"I'll think of it," said Appleton. "Any rate, it's in for a penny, in for
a pound, wid me."
When supper was over, they resumed their drinking, sang songs, and told
anecdotes with great glee and hilarity. Phelim and Peggy danced jigs and
reels, whilst Appleton sang for them, and the bottle also did its duty.
On separating about two o'clock, there was not a sober man among them but
Appleton. He declined drinking, and was backed in his abstemiousness by
Phelim, who knew that sobriety on the part of Sam would leave himself more
liquor. Phelim, therefore, drank for them both, and that to such excess,
that Larry, by Appleton's advice, left him at his father's in consequence
of his inability to proceed homewards. It was not, however, without
serious trouble that Appleton could get Phelim and the father separated;
and when he did, Larry's grief was bitter in the extreme. By much
entreaty, joined to some vigorous shoves towards the door, he was
prevailed upon to depart without him; but the old man compensated for the
son's absence, by indulging in the most vociferous sorrow as he went
along, about "Ma Phelim." When he reached home, his grief burst out
afresh; he slapped the palms of his hands together, and indulged in a
continuous howl, that one on hearing it would imagine to be the very echo
of misery, When he had fatigued himself, he fell asleep on the bed,
without having undressed, where he lay until near nine o'clock the next
morning. Having got up and breakfasted, he related to his wife, with an
aching head, the result of the last night's proceedings. Everything he
assured her was settled: Phelim and Peggy were to be called the following
Sunday, as Phelim, he supposed, had already informed her.
"Where's Phelim?" said the wife; "an' why didn't he come home wid you last
"Where is Phelim? Why, Sheelah, woman sure he did come home wid me last
"Ghrush orrin, Larry, no! What could happen him? Why, man, I
thought you knew where he was; an' in regard of his bein' abroad so often
at night, myself didn't think it sthrange."
Phelim's absence astounded them both, particularly the father, who had
altogether forgotten everything that had happened on the preceding night,
after the period of his intoxication. He proposed to go back to Donovan's
to inquire for him, and was about to proceed there when Phelim made his
appearance, dressed in his own tender apparel only. His face was three
inches longer than usual, and the droop in his eye remarkably conspicuous.
"No fear of him," said the father, "here's himself. Arrah, Phelim, what
became of you last night? Where wor you?"
Phelim sat down very deliberately and calmly, looked dismally at his
mother, and then looked more dismally at his father.
"I suppose you're sick too, Phelim," said the father. "My head's goin'
round like a top."
"Ate your breakfast," said his mother; it's the best thing for you."
"Where wor you last night, Phelim?" inquired the father.
"What are you sayin', ould man?"
"Who wor you wid last night?"
"Do, Phelim," said the mother, "tell us, aroon. I hope it wasn't out you
wor. Tell us, avourneen?"
"Ould woman, what are you talking about?"
Phelim whistled "ulican dim oh," or, "the song of sorrow." At
length he bounced to his feet, and exclaimed in a loud, rapid voice:—"Ma
chuirp an diouol! ould couple, but I'm robbed of my ten guineas by Sam
"Robbed by Sam Appleton! Heavens above!" exclaimed the father.
"Robbed by Sam Appleton! Gra machree, Phelim! no, you aren't!"
exclaimed the mother.
"Gra machree yourself! but I say I am," replied Phelim; "robbed
clane of every penny of it!"
Phelim then sat down to breakfast—for he was one of those happy
mortals whose appetite is rather sharpened by affliction—and
immediately related to his father and mother the necessity which
Appleton's connection had imposed on him of leaving the country; adding,
that while he was in a state of intoxication, he had been stripped of
Appleton's clothes; that his own were left beside him; that when he awoke
the next morning, he found his borrowed suit gone; that on searching for
his own, he found, to his misery, that the ten guineas had disappeared
along with Appleton, who, he understood from his father, had "left the
neighborhood for a while, till the throuble he was in 'ud pass over."
"But I know where he's gone," said Phelim, "an' may the divil's luck go
wid him, an' God's curse on the day I ever had anything to do wid that
hell-fire Ribbon business! 'Twas he first brought me into it, the villain;
an' now I'd give the town land we're in to be fairly out of it."
"Hanim an diouol!" said the father, "is the ten guineas gone? The
curse of hell upon him, for a black desaver! Where's the villain, Phelim?"
"He's gone to America," replied the son* "The divil tare the tongue out o'
myself,' too! I should be puttin' him up to go there, an' to get money, if
it was to be had. The villain bit me fairly."
"Well, but how are we to manage?" inquired Larry. "What's to be done?"
"Why," said the other, "to bear it an say nothin'. Even if he was in his
father's house, the double-faced villain has me so much in his power, that
I couldn't say a word about it. My curse on the Ribbon business, I say,
from my heart out!"
That day was a very miserable one to Phelim and the father. The loss of
the ten guineas, and the feverish sickness produced from their debauch,
rendered their situation not enviable. Some other small matters, too, in
which Phelim was especially concerned, independent of the awkward
situation in which he felt himself respecting the three calls on the
following day, which was Sunday, added greater weight to his anxiety. He
knew not how to manage, especially upon the subject of his habiliments,
which certainly were in a very dilapidated state. An Irishman, however,
never despairs. If he has not apparel of his own sufficiently decent to
wear on his wedding-day, he borrows from a friend. Phelim and his father
remembered that there were several neighbors in the village, who would
oblige him with a suit for the wedding; and as to the other necessary
expenses, they did what their countrymen are famous for—they trusted
"We'll work ourselves out of it some way," said Larry. "Sure, if all fails
us, we can sell the goats for the weddin' expenses. It's one comfort that
Paddy Donovan must find the dinner; an' all we have to get is the whiskey,
the marriage money, an' some other thrifies."
"They say," observed Phelim, "that people have more luck whin they're
married than whin they're single. I'll have a bout at the marriage, so I
will; for worse luck I can't have, if I had half a dozen wives, than I
always met wid."
* This is another absurd opinion peculiar to the
Irish, and certainly one of the most pernicious that
prevail among them. Indeed, I believe there is no
country in which so many absurd maxims exist.
"I'll go down," observed Larry, "to Paddy Donovan's, an' send him to the
priest's to dive in your names to be called to-morrow. Faith, it's well
that you won't have to appear, or I dunna how you'd get over it."
"No," said Phelim, "that bill won't pass. You must go to the priest
yourself, an' see the curate: if you go near Father O'Hara, it 'ud knock a
plan on the head that I've invinted. I'm in the notion that I'll make the
ould woman bleed agin. I'll squeeze as much out of her as I'll bring me to
America, for I'm not overly safe here; or, if all fails, I'll marry her,
an' run away wid the money. It 'ud bring us all across."
Larry's interview with the curate was but a short one. He waited on
Donovan, however, before he went, who expressed himself satisfied with the
arrangement, and looked forward to the marriage as certain. As for Phelim,
the idea of being called to three females at the same time, was one that
tickled his vanity very much. Vanity, where the fair sex was concerned,
had been always his predominant failing. He was not finally determined on
marriage with any of them; but he knew that should he even escape the
three, the eclat, resulting from so celebrated a transaction would
recommend him to the sex for the remainder of his life. Impressed with
this view of the matter, he sauntered about as usual; saw Foodie
Flattery's daughter, and understood that her uncle had gone to the priest,
to have his niece and worthy Phelim called the next day. But besides this
hypothesis, Phelim had another, which, after all, was the real one. He
hoped that the three applications would prevent the priest from calling
him at all.
The priest, who possessed much sarcastic humor, on finding the name of
Phelim come in as a candidate for marriage honors with three different
women, felt considerably puzzled to know what he could be at. That Phelim
might hoax one or two of them was very probable, but that he should have
the effrontery to make him the instrument of such an affair, he thought a
little too bad.
"Now," said he to his curate, as they talked the matter over that night.
"it is quite evident that this scapegrace reckons upon our refusal to call
him with any of those females to-morrow. It is also certain that not one
of the three to whom he has pledged himself is aware that he is under
similar obligations to the other two."
"How do you intend to act, sir?" inquired the curate.
"Why," said Mr. O'Hara, "certainly to call him to each: it will give the
business a turn for which he is not prepared. He will stand exposed,
moreover, before the congregation, and that will be some punishment to
"I don't know as to the punishment," replied the curate. "If ever a human
being was free from shame, Phelim is. The fellow will consider it a joke."
"Very possible," observed his superior, "but I am anxious to punish this
old woman. It may prevent her from uniting herself with a fellow who
certainly would, on becoming master of her money, immediately abandon her—perhaps
proceed to America."
"It will also put the females of the parish on their guard against him,"
said the innocent curate, who knew not that it would raise him highly in
"We will have a scene, at all events," said Mr. O'Hara; "for I'm resolved
to expose him. No blame can be attached to those whom he has duped,
excepting only the old woman, whose case will certainly excite a great
deal of mirth. That matters not, however; she has earned the ridicule, and
let her bear it." It was not until Sunday morning that the three calls
occurred to Phelim in a new light.
He forgot that the friends of the offended parties might visit upon his
proper carcase the contumely he offered to them. This, however, did not
give him much anxiety, for Phelim was never more in his element than when
entering upon a row.
The Sunday in question was fine, and the congregation unusually large; one
would think that all the inhabitants of the parish of Teernarogarah had
been assembled. Most of them certainly were.
The priest, after having gone through the usual ceremonies of the Sabbath
worship, excepting those with which he concludes the mass, turned round to
the congregation, and thus addressed them:—
"I would not," said he, "upon any other occasion of this kind, think it
necessary to address you at all; but this is one perfectly unique, and in
some degree patriarchal, because, my friends, we are informed that it was
allowed in the times of Abraham and his successors, to keep more than one
wife. This custom is about being revived by a modern, who wants, in rather
a barefaced manner, to palm himself upon us as a patriarch. And who do you
think, my friends, this Irish Patriarch is? Why, no other than bouncing
This was received precisely as the priest anticipated: loud were the
snouts of laughter from all parts of the congregation.
"Divil a fear o' Phelim!" they exclaimed. "He wouldn't be himself, or he'd
kick up a dust some way."
"Blessed Phelim! Just like him! Faith, he couldn't be marrid in the common
"Arrah, whisht till we hear the name o' the happy crathur that's to be
blisthered with Phelim! The darlin's in luck, whoever she is, an' has
gained a blessed prize in the 'Bouncer.'"
"This bouncing patriarch," continued the priest, "has made his selection
with great judgment and discrimination. In the first place, he has pitched
upon a hoary damsel of long standing in the world;—one blessed with
age and experience. She is qualified to keep Phelim's house well, as soon
as it shall be built; but whether she will be able to keep Phelim himself,
is another consideration. It is not unlikely that Phelim, in imitation of
his great prototypes, may prefer living in a tent. But whether she keeps
Phelim or the house, one thing is certain, that Phelim will keep her
money. Phelim selected this aged woman, we presume, for her judgment; for
surely she who has given such convincing proof of discretion, must make a
useful partner to one who, like Phelim, has that virtue yet to learn. I
have no doubt, however, but in a short time he will be as discreet as his
"Blood alive! Isn't that fine language?"
"You may say that! Begad, it's himself can discoorse! What's the
Protestants to that?"
"The next upon the list is one who, though a poor man's daughter, will
certainly bring property to Phelim. There is also an aptness in this
selection, which does credit to the 'Patriarch.' Phelim is a great dancer,
an accomplishment with which we do not read that the patriarchs themselves
were possessed: although we certainly do read that a light heel was of
little service to Jacob. Well, Phelim carries a light heel, and the second
female of his choice on this list carries a 'light hand;' (* Intimating
theft) it is, therefore, but natural to suppose that, if ever they are
driven to extremities, they will make light of many things which other
people would consider as of weighty moment. Whether Phelim and she may
long remain stationary in this country, is a problem more likely to be
solved at the county assizes than here. It is not improbable that his
Majesty may recommend the 'Patriarch' and one of his wives to try the
benefit of a voyage to New South Wales, he himself graciously vouch-saving
to bear their expenses."
"Divil a lie in that, anyhow! If ever any one crossed the wather, Phelim
will. Can't his Reverence be funny whin he plases?"
"Many a time it was prophecized for him: an' his Reverence knows best."
"Begad, Phelim's gettin' over the coals. But sure it's all the way the
father an' mother reared him."
"Tunder-an'-trff, is he goin' to be called to a pair o' them?"
"Faix, so it seems."
"Oh, the divil's clip! Is he mad? But let us hear it out."
"The third damsel is by no means so, well adapted for Phelim as either of
the other two. What she could have seen in him is another problem much
more difficult than the one I have mentioned. I would advise her to
reconsider the subject, and let Phelim have the full benefit of the
attention she may bestow upon it. If she finds the 'Patriarch' possessed
of any one virtue, except necessity, I will admit that it is pretty
certain that she will soon discover the longitude, and that has puzzled
the most learned men of the world. If she marries this 'Patriarch', I
think the angels who may visit him will come in the shape of policemen;
and that Phelim, so long as he can find a cudgel, will give them anything
but a patriarchal reception, is another thing of which we may rest pretty
"I. now publish the bans of matrimony between Phelim O'Toole of
Teernarogarah, and Bridget Doran of Dernascobe. If any person knows of any
impediment why these two should not be joined in wedlock, they are bound
to declare it.
"This Bridget Doran, my friends, is no other than my old housekeeper; but
when, where, or how, Phelim could have won upon her juvenile affections is
one of those mysteries which is never to be explained. I dare say, the
match was brought about by despair on her side, and necessity on his. She
despaired of getting a husband, and he had a necessity for the money. In
point of age I admit she would make a very fit wife for any 'Patriarch.'"
Language could not describe the effect which this disclosure produced upon
the congregation. The fancy of every one present was tickled at the idea
of a union between Phelim and the old woman. It was followed by roars of
laughter which lasted several minutes.
"Oh, thin, the curse o' the crows upon him, was he only able to butther up
the ould woman! Oh, Ghe dldven! that flogs. Why, it's a wondher he
didn't stale the ould slip, an' make a run-away match of it—ha, ha,
ha! Musha, bad scran to her, but she had young notions of her own! A purty
bird she picked up in Phelim!—ha, ha, ha!"
"I also publish the banns of matrimony between Phelim O'Toole of
Teernarogarah and Sally Flattery of the same place. If any of you knows of
any impediment why they should not be joined in wedlock you are bound to
The mirth rose again, loud and general. Poodle Flattery, whose character
was so well known, appeared so proper a father-in-law for Phelim, that his
selection in this instance delighted them highly.
"Betther an' betther, Phelim! More power to you! You're fixed at last.
Poodle Flattery's daughter—a known thief! Well, what harm? Phelim
himself has pitch on his fingers—or had, anyhow, when he was growin'
up—for many a thing stuck to them. Oh, bedad, now we know what his
Reverence was at when he talked about the 'Sizes, bad luck to them! Betune
her an' the ould woman, Phelim 'ud be in Paradise! Foodie Flattery's
daughter! Begad, she'll 'bring him property' sure enough, as his Reverence
"I also publish the banns of matrimony between Phelim O'Toole—whom
we must in future call the 'Patriarch'—of Teernarogarah, and Peggy
Donovan of the same place. If any of you knows any impediment in the way
of their marriage, you are bound to declare it."
"Bravo! Phelim acushla. 'Tis you that's the blessed youth.
Tundher-an'-whiskey, did ever any body hear of sich desate? To do three o'
them. Be sure the Bouncer has some schame in this. Well, one would suppose
Paddy Donovan an' his daughter had more sinse nor to think of sich a
runagate as Bouncin' Phelim."
"No, but the Pathriark! Sure his Reverence sez that we musn't call him
anything agin but the Pathriark! Oh, be gorra, that's the name!—ha,
When the mirth of the congregation had subsided, and their comments ended,
the priest concluded in the following words:—
"Now, my friends, here is such a piece of profligacy as I have never, in
the whole course of my pastoral duties, witnessed. It is the act of Phelim
O'Toole, be it known, who did not scruple to engage himself for marriage
to three females—that is, to two girls and an old woman—and
who, in addition, had the effrontery to send me his name and theirs, to be
given out all on the same Sunday; thus making me an instrument in his
hands to hoax those who trusted in his word. That he can marry but one of
them is quite clear; but that he would not scruple to marry the three, and
three more to complete the half-dozen, is a fact which no one who knows
him will doubt. For my part, I know not how this business may terminate.
Of a truth he has contrived to leave the claims of the three females in a
state of excellent confusion. Whether it raise or lessen him in their
opinion I cannot pretend to determine. I am sorry for Donovan's daughter,
for I know not what greater calamity could befall any honest family than a
matrimonial union with Phelim O'Toole. I trust that this day's proceedings
will operate as a caution to the females of the parish against such an
unscrupulous reprobate. It is for this purpose only that I publish the
names given in to me. His character was pretty well known before; it is
now established; and having established it, I dismiss the subject
Phelim's fame was now nearly at its height. Never before had such a case
been known; yet the people somehow were not so much astonished as might be
supposed. On the contrary, had Phelim's courtship gone off like that of
another man, they would have felt more surprised. We need scarcely say,
that the "giving out" or "calling" of Phelim and the three damsels was
spread over the whole parish before the close of that Sunday. Every one
had it—man, woman, and child. It was told, repeated, and improved as
it went along. Now circumstances were added, fresh points made out, and
other dramatis personae brought in—all with great felicity,
and quite suitable to Phelim's character.
Strongly contrasted with the amusement of the parishioners in general, was
the indignation felt by the three damsels and their friends. The old
housekeeper was perfectly furious; so much so, indeed, that the priest
gave some dark hints at the necessity of sending for a strait waistcoat.
Her fellow-servants took the liberty of breaking some strong jests upon
her, in return for which she took the liberty of breaking two strong
churnstaves upon them. Being a remarkably stout woman for her years, she
put forth her strength to such purpose that few of them went to bed
without sore bones. The priest was seriously annoyed at it, for he found
that his house was a scene of battle during the remainder of the day.
Sally Flattery's uncle, in the absence of her father, indignantly espoused
the cause of his niece. He and Donovan each went among their friends to
excite in them a proper resentment, and to form a faction for the purpose
of chastising Phelim. Their chagrin was bitter on finding that their most
wrathful representations of the insult sustained by their families, were
received with no other spirit than one of the most extravagant mirth. In
vain did they rage and fume, and swear; they could get no one to take a
serious view of it. Phelim O'Toole was the author of all, and from him it
was precisely what they had expected.
Phelim himself, and the father, on hearing of the occurrence after mass,
were as merry as any other two in the parish. At first the father was
disposed to lose his temper; but on Phelim telling him he would bear no
"gosther" on the subject, he thought proper to take it in good humor.
About this time they had not more than a week's provision in the house,
and only three shillings of capital. The joke of the three calls was too
good a one to pass off as an ordinary affair; they had three shillings,
and although it was their last, neither of them could permit the matter to
escape as a dry joke. They accordingly repaired to the little public-house
of the village, where they laughed at the world, got drunk, hugged each
other, despised all mankind, and staggered home, Fagged and merry, poor
and hearty, their arms about each other's necks, perfect models of filial
duty and paternal affection.
The reader is aware that the history of Phelim's abrupt engagement with
the housekeeper, was conveyed by Fool Art to Sally Flattery. Her thievish
character rendered marriage as hopeless to her as length of days did to
Bridget Doran. No one knew the plan she had laid for Phelim, but this
fool, and, in order to secure his silence, she had promised him a shirt on
the Monday after the first call. Now Art, as was evident by his endless
habit of shrugging, felt the necessity of a shirt very strongly.
About ton o'clock on Monday he presented himself to Sally, and claimed his
"Art," said Sally, "the shirt I intended for you is upon Squire Nugent's
hedge beside their garden. You know the family's goin' up to Dublin on
Thursday, Art, an' they're gettin' their washin' done in time to be off.
Go down, but don't let any one see you; take the third shirt on the row,
an' bring it up to me till I smooth it for you."
Art sallied down to the hedge on which the linen had been put out to dry,
and having reconnoitered the premises, shrugged himself, and cast a
longing eye on the third shirt. With that knavish penetration, however,
peculiar to such persons, he began to reflect that Sally might have some
other object in view besides his accommodation. He determined, therefore,
to proceed upon new principles—sufficiently safe, he thought, to
protect him from the consequences of theft. "Good-morrow, Bush," said Art,
addressing that on which the third shirt was spread. "Isn't it a burnin'
shame an' a sin for you," he continued, "to have sich a line white shirt
an you, an' me widout a stitch to my back. Will you swap?"
Having waited until the bush had due time to reply.
"Sorra fairer," he observed; "silence gives consint."
In less than two minutes he stripped, put on one of the Squire's best
shirts, and spread out his own dusky fragment in its place.
"It's a good thing," said Art, "to have a clear conscience; a fair
exchange is no robbery."
Now, it so happened that the Squire himself, who was a humorist, and also
a justice of the peace, saw Art putting his morality in practice at the
hedge. He immediately walked out with an intention of playing off a trick
upon the fool for his dishonesty; and he felt the greater inclination to
do this in consequence of an opinion long current, that Art, though he had
outwitted several, had never been outwitted himself.
Art had been always a welcome guest in the Squire's kitchen, and never
passed the "Big House," as an Irish country gentleman's residence is
termed, without calling. On this occasion, however, he was too cunning to
go near it—a fact which the Squire observed. By taking a short cut
across one of his own fields, he got before Art, and turning the angle of
a hedge, met him trotting along at his usual pace.
"Well, Art, where now?"
"To the crass roads, your honor."
"Art, is not this a fine place of mine? Look at these groves, and the
lawn, and the river there, and the mountains behind all. Is it not equal
to Sir William E——-'s?"
Sir William was Art's favorite patron.
"Sir William, your honor, has all this at his place."
"But I think my views are finer."
"They're fine enough," replied Art; "but where's the lake afore the door?"
The Squire said no more about his prospects.
"Art," he continued, "would you carry a letter from me to M——-?"
"I'll be wantin' somethin' to dhrink on the way," said Art.
"You shall get something to eat and drink before you go," said the Squire,
"and half-a-crown for your trouble."
"Augh," exclaimed Art, "be dodda, sir, you're nosed like Sir William, and
chinned like Captain Taylor." This was always Art's compliment when
The Squire brought him up to the house, ordered him refreshment, and while
Art partook of it, wrote a letter of mittimus to the county jailor,
authorizing him to detain the bearer in prison until he should hear
further from him.
Art, having received the half-crown and the letter, appeared delighted;
but, on hearing the name of the person to whom it was addressed, he smelt
a trick. He promised faithfully, however, to deliver it, and betrayed no
symptoms whatever of suspicion. After getting some distance from the big
house, he set his wits to work, and ran over in his mind the names of
those who had been most in the habit of annoying him. At the head of this
list stood Phelim O'Toole, and on Phelim's head did he resolve to transfer
the revenge which the Squire, he had no doubt, intended to take on
With considerable speed he made way to Larry O'Toole's, where such a scene
presented itself as made him for a moment forget the immediate purport of
Opposite Phelim, dressed out in her best finery, stood the housekeeper,
zealously insisting' on either money or marriage. On one side of him stood
old Donovan and his daughter, whom he had forced to come, in the character
of a witness, to support his charges against the gay deceiver. On the
other were ranged Sally Flattery, in tears, and her uncle in wrath, each
ready to pounce upon Phelim.
Phelim stood the very emblem of patience and good-humor. When one of them
attacked him, he winked at the other two when either of the other two came
on, he Winked still at those who took breath. Sometimes he trod on his
father's toe, lest the old fellow might lose the joke, and not
unfrequently proposed their going to a public-house, and composing their
differences over a bottle, if any of them would pay the expenses.
"What do you mane to do?" said the housekeeper; "but it's asy known I'm an
unprojected woman, or I wouldn't be thrated as I am. If I had relations
livin' or near me, we'd pay you on the bones for bringin' me to shame and
scandal, as you have done."
"Upon my sanies, Mrs. Doran, I feel for your situation, so I do," said
Phelim. You've outlived all your friends, an' if it was in my power to
bring any o' them back to you I'd do it."
"Oh, you desaver, is that the feelin' you have for me, when I thought
you'd be a guard an' a projection to me? You know I have the money, you
sconce, an' how comfortable it 'ud keep us, if you'd only see what's good
for you. You blarnied an' palavered me, you villain, till you gained my
infections an' thin you tuck the cholic as an excuse to lave me in a state
of dissolution an' disparagement. You promised to marry me, an' you had no
notion of it."
"You're not the only one he has disgraced, Mrs. Doran," said Donovan. "A
purty way he came down, himself an' his father, undher pretence of
coortin' my daughter. He should lay down his ten guineas, too, to show us
what he had to begin the world wid, the villain!—an' him had no
notion of it aither."
"An' he should send this girl to make me go to the priest to have him and
her called, the reprobate," said Nick Flattery; "an' him had no notion of
"Sure he sent us all there," exclaimed Donovan.
"He did," said the old woman.
"Not a doubt of it," observed Flattery.
"Ten guineas!" said the housekeeper. "An' so you brought my ten guineas in
your pocket to coort another girl! Aren't you a right profligate?"
"Yes," said Donovan, "aren't you a right profligate?"
"Answer the dacent people," said Mattery, "aren't you a right profligate?"
"Take the world asy, all of ye," replied Phelim. "Mrs. Doran, there was
three of you called, sure enough; but, be the vestments, I intinded—do
you hear me, Mrs. Doran? Now have rason—I say, do you hear me? Be
the vestmints, I intinded to marry only one of you; an' that I'll do
still, except I'm vexed—(a wink at the old woman). Yet you're all
flyin' at me, as if I had three heads or three tails upon me."
"Maybe the poor boy's not so much to blame," said Mrs. Doran. "There's
hussies in this world," and here she threw an angry eye upon the other
two, "that 'ud give a man no pace till he'd promise to marry them."
"Why did he promise to them that didn't want him thin?" exclaimed Donovan.
"I'm not angry that he didn't marry my daughther—for I wouldn't give
her to him now—but I am at the slight he put an her."
"Paddy Donovan, did you hear what I said jist now?" replied Phelim, "I
wish to Jamini some people 'ud have sinse! Be them five crasses, I knew
thim I intinded to marry, as well as I do where I'm standin'. That's plain
talk, Paddy. I'm sure the world's not passed yet, I hope"—(a wink at
"An' wasn't he a big rascal to make little of my brother's daughter as he
did?" said Flattery; "but he'll rub his heels together for the same act."
"Nick Flathery, do you think I could marry three wives? Be that horseshoe
over the door, Sally Flathery, you didn't thrate me dacent. She did not,
Nick, an' you ought to know that it was wrong of her to come here to-day."
"Well, but what do you intind to do Phelim, avourn—you profligate?"
said the half-angry, half-pacified housekeeper, who, being the veteran,
always led on the charge. "Why, I intind to marry one of you," said
Phelim. "I say, Mrs. Doran, do you see thim ten fingers acrass—be
thim five crasses I'll do what I said, if nothing happens to put it
"Then be an honest man," said Flattery, "an' tell us which o' them you
"Nick, don't you know I always regarded your family. If I didn't that I
may never do an ill turn! Now! But some people can't see anything. Arrah,
fandher-an'-whiskey, man, would you expect me to tell out before all
that's here, who I'll marry—to be hurtin' the feelin's of the rest.
Faith, I'll never do a shabby thing."
"What rekimpinse will you make my daughter for bringin' down her name
afore the whole parish, along wid them she oughtn't to be named in the one
day wid?" said Donovan.
"An' who is that, Paddy Donovan?" said the housekeeper, with a face of
"None of your broad hints, Paddy," said Nick. "If it's a collusion to
Sally Flattery you mane, take care I don't make you ate your words."
"Paddy," exclaimed Phelim, "you oughtn't to be hurtin' their feelin's!"—(a
friendly wink to Paddy.)
"If you mane me," said the housekeeper, "by the crook on the fire, I'd
lave you a mark."
"I mane you for one, thin, since you provoke me," replied Donovan.
"For one, is it?" said Nick; "an' who's the other, i' you plase?"
"Your brother's daughter," he replied. "Do you think I'd even (* compare)
my daughter to a thief?"
"Be gorra," observed Phelim, "that's too provokin', an' what I wouldn't
bear. Will ye keep the pace, I say, till I spake a word to Mrs Doran? Mrs.
Doran, can I have a word or two wid you outside the house?"
"To be sure you can," she replied; "I'd give you fair play, if the diouol
was in you."
Phelim, accordingly, brought her out, and thus accosted her,—
"Now, Mrs. Doran, you think I thrated you ondacent; but do you see that
book?" said he, producing a book of ballads, on which he had sworn many a
similar oath before? "Be the contints o' that book, as sure as you're
beside me, it's you I intind to marry. These other two—the curse o'
the crows upon them! I wish we could get them from about the place—is
bothyrin' for love o' me, an' I surely did promise to get myself called to
them. They wanted it to be a promise of marriage; but, says I, 'sure if
we're called together it's the same, for whin it comes to that, all's
right,'—an' so I tould both o' them, unknownst to one another. Arra,
be me sowl, you'd make two like them, so you would; an' if you hadn't a
penny, I'd marry you afore aither o' them to-morrow. Now, there's the
whole sacret, an' don't be onaisy about it. Tell Father O'Hara how it is,
whin you go home, an' that he must call the three o' you to me agin on
next Sunday, and the Sunday afther, plase Goodness; jist that I may keep
my promise to them. You know I couldn't have luck or grace if I marrid you
wid the sin of two broken promises on me."
"My goodness, Phelim, but you tuck a, burdyeen off o' me! Faix, you'll see
how happy we'll be."
"To be sure we will! But I'm tould you're sometimes crass, Mrs. Doran.
Now, you must promise to be kind an' lovin' to the childre, or be the
vestment, I'll break off the match yet."
"Och, an' why wouldn't I, Phelim, acushla? Sure that's but rason."
"Well, take this book an' swear it. Be gorra, your word won't do, for it's
a thing my mind's made up on. It's I that'll be fond o' the childre."
"An' how am I to swear it, Phelim? for I never tuck an oath myself yet."
"Take the book in your hand, shut one eye, and say the words afther me. Be
the contints o' this book,"
"Be the contints o' this book,"
"I'll be kind an' motherly, an' boistherous,"
"I'll be kind, an' motherly, an boistherous,"
"To my own childhre,"
"To my own childhre,"
"An' never bate or abuse thim,"
"An' never bate or abuse thim,"
"Barrin' whin they desarve it;"
"Barrin' whin they desarve it;"
"An' this I swear,"
"An' this I swear,"
"In the presence of St. Phelim,"
"In the presence of St. Phelim," "Amin!"
"Now, Mrs. Doran, acushla, if you could jist know how asy my conscience is
about the childhre, poor crathurs, you'd be in mighty fine spirits. There
won't be sich a lovin' husband, begad, in Europe. It's I that'll coax you,
an' butther you up like a new pair o' brogues; but, begad, you must be
sweeter than liquorice or sugar-candy to me. Won't you, darlin'?"
"Be the crass, Phelim, darlin', jewel, I'll be as kind a wife as ever
breathed. Arrah, Phelim, won't you come down to-morrow evenin'? There'll
be no one at home but myself, an'—ha, ha, ha!—Oh, you coaxin'
rogue! But, Phelim, you musn't be—Oh, you're a rogue! I see you
laughin'! Will you come darlin?"
"Surely. But, death alive! I was near for-gettin'; sure, bad luck to the
penny o' the ten guineas but I paid away."
"Paid away! Is it my ten guineas?"
"Your ten guineas, darlin'; an' right well I managed it. Didn't I secure
Pat Hanratty's farm by it? Sam Appleton's uncle had it as good as taken;
so, begad, I came down wid the ten guineas, by way of airles, an' now we
have it. I knew you'd be plased to hear it, an' that you'd be proud to
give me ten more for clo'es an' the weddin' expenses. Isn't that good
news, avourneen? Eh, you duck o' diamonds? Faith, let Phelim alone! An'
another thing—I must call you Bridget for the future! It's sweeter
an' more lovin'."
"Phelim, I wish you had consulted wid me afore you done it: but it can't
be helped. Come down to-morrow evenin', an' we'll see what's to be done."
"The grace o'heaven upon you, but you are the winnin'est woman alive this
day! Now take my advice, an' go home without comin' in. I'm wantin' to get
this other pair off o' my hands, as well as I can, an' our best way is to
do it all widout noise. Isn't it, darlin'?"
"It is, Phelim, jewel; an' I'll go."
"Faith, Bridget, you've dealt in thracle afore now, you're so sweet. Now,
acushla, farewell: an' take care of yourself till tomorrow evenin'!"
Phelim, on re-entering his father's cabin, found Larry and Peggy Donovan
placed between her father and Flattery, each struggling to keep them
asunder. Phelim at first had been anxious to set them by the ears, but his
interview with the old woman changed his plan of operations altogether.
With some difficulty he succeeded in repressing their tendency to single
combat, which, having effected, he brought out Flattery and his niece,
both of whom he thus addressed:—
"Be the vestment, Sally, only that my regard an' love for you is uncommon,
I'd break off the affair altogether, so I would."
"An' why would you do so, Phelim O'Toole?" inquired the uncle.
"Bekase," replied Phelim, "you came here an' made a show of me, when I
wished to have no bruliagh, at all at all. In regard of Peggy
Donovan, I never spoke a word to the girl about marriage since I was
christened. Saize the syllable! My father brought me down there to gosther
awhile, the other night, an' Paddy sent away for whiskey. An' the curse o'
Cromwell on myself! I should get tossicated. So while I was half-saes
over, the two ould rip set to makin' the match—planned to have us
called—an' me knowin' nothin' about it, good, bad, or indifferent.
That's the thruth, be the sky above us."
"An' what have you to say about the housekeeper, Phelim?"
"Why I don't know yet, who done me there. I was about takin' a farm, an'
my father borried ten guineas from her. Somebody heard it—I suspect
Sam Appleton—an' gave in our names to the priest, to be called,
makin' a good joke of it. All sorts o' luck to them, barrin' good luck,
that did it; but they put me in a purty state! But never heed! I'll find
them out yet. Now go home, both o' you, an' I'll slip down in half an
hour, with a bottle o' whiskey in my pocket. We'll talk over what's to be
done. Sure Sally here, knows that it's my own intherest to marry her and
no one else."
"If my father thought you would, Phelim, he'd not stag, even if he was to
cras the wather!"
"Go home, Sally darlin' till I get this mad Donovan an' his daughter away.
Be all that's beautiful I'll be apt to give him a taste o' my shillely, if
he doesn't behave himself! Half an hour I'll be clownin—wid the
bottle; an' don't you go, Nick, till you see me."
"Phelim," said the uncle, "you know how the case is. You must aither marry
the girl, or take a long voyage, abouchal. We'll have no bouncin' or
"Bedad, Mick, I've great patience wid you," said Phelim, smiling: "go off,
I say, both of you."
They proceeded homewards, and Phelim returned to appease the anger of
Donovan, as he had that of the others. Fresh fiction was again drawn
forth, every word of which the worthy father corroborated. They promised
to go down that night and drink another bottle together; a promise which
they knew by the state of their finances, it was impossible to fulfil. The
prospect of a "booze," however, tranquillized Donovan, who in his heart
relished a glass of liquor as well as either Phelim or the father. Shaking
of hands and professions of friendship were again beginning to multiply
with great rapidity, when Peggy thought proper to make a few observations
on the merits of her admirer.
"In regard to me," she observed, "you may save yourself the throuble o'
comin'. I wouldn't marry Phelim, afther what the priest said yistherday,
if he had the riches o' the townland we're spakin' in. I never cared for
him, nor liked him; an' it was only to plase my father an' mother, that I
consinted to be called to him at all. I'll never join myself to the likes
of him. If I do, may I be a corpse the next minute!"
Having thus expressed herself, she left her father, Phelim, and Larry, to
digest her sentiments, and immediately went home.
Donovan, who was outrageous at this contempt of his authority, got his hat
with the intention of compelling her to return and retract, in their
presence, what she had said; but the daughter, being the more light-footed
of the two, reached home before he could overtake her, where, backed by
her mother, she maintained her resolution, and succeeded, ere long, in
bringing the father over to her opinion.
During this whole scene in Larry's, Fool Art sat in that wild abstraction
which characterizes the unhappy class to which he belonged. He muttered to
himself, laughed—or rather chuckled—shrugged his shoulders,
and appeared to be as unconscious of what had taken place as an automaton.
When the coast was clear he rose up and plucking Phelim's skirt, beckoned
him towards the door.
"Phelim," said he, when they had got out, "would you like to airn a
"Tell me how, Art?" said Phelim.
"A letther from, the Square to the jailer of M——— jail.
If you bring back an answer, you'll get a crown, your dinner, an' a quart
o' strong beer."
"But why don't you bring it yourself, Art?"
"Why I'm afeard. Sure they'd keep ma in jail, I'm tould, if they'd catch
me in it. Aha! Bo dodda, I won't go near them: sure they'd hang me for
"Must the answer be brought back today, Art?"
"Oh! It wouldn't do to-morrow, at all. Be dodda, no! Five shillins, your
dinner, an' a quart of sthrong beer!—Aha! But you must give me a
shillin' or two, to buy a sword; for the Square's goin' to make me a
captain: thin I'll be grand! an' I'll make you a sargin'."
This seemed a windfall to Phelim. The unpleasant dilemma in which Sally
Flattery had placed him, by the fabricated account of her father's
imprisonment, made him extremely anxious to see Foodie himself, and to
ascertain the precise outrage for which he had been secured. Here then was
an opportunity of an interview with him, and of earning five shillings, a
good dinner, and a quart of strong beer, as already specified.
"Art," said he, "give me the letther, an' I'm the boy that'll soon do the
job. Long life to you, Art! Be the contints o' the book, Art, I'll never
pelt you or vex you agin, my worthy; an' I'll always call you captain!"
Phelim immediately commenced his journey to M———, which
was only five miles distant, and in a very short time reached the jail,
saw the jailer, and presented his letter.
The latter, on perusing it, surveyed him with the scrutiny of a man whose
eye was practised in scanning offenders.
Phelim, whilst the jailer examined him, surveyed the strong and massy
bolts with which every door and hatchway was secured. Their appearance
produced rather an uncomfortable sensation in him; so much so, that when
the jailer asked him his name, he thought it more prudent, in consequence
of a touch of conscience he had, to personate Art for the present,
inasmuch as he felt it impossible to assume any name more safe than that
of an idiot.
"My name is Art Maguire," said he in reply to the jailer. "I'm messenger
to Square S——, the one he had was discharged on Friday last. I
expect soon to be made groom, too."
"Come this way," said the jailer, "and you shall have an answer."
He brought Phelim into the prison-yard, where he remained for about twenty
minutes, laboring under impressions which he felt becoming gradually more
unpleasant. His anxiety was not lessened on perceiving twenty or thirty
culprits, under the management of the turnkeys, enter the yard, where they
were drawn up in a line, like a file of soldiers.
"What's your name?" said one of the turnkeys.
"Art Maguire," replied Phelim.
"Stand here," said the other, shoving him among the prisoners. "Keep your
head up, you villain, an' don't be ashamed to look your friends in the
face. It won't be hard to identify you, at any rate, you scoundrel. A
glimpse of that phiz, even by starlight, would do you, you dog. Jack, tell
Mr. S. to bring in the gintlemen—they're all ready."
Phelim's dismay on finding himself under drill with such a villainous crew
was indescribable. He attempted to parley with the turnkey, but was near
feeling the weight of his heavy keys for daring to approach a man placed
While thus chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy, three gentlemen,
accompanied by the jailer, entered the yard, and walked backward and
forward in front of the prisoners, whose faces and persons they examined
with great care. For a considerable time they could not recognize any of
them; but just as they were about to give up the scrutiny, one of the
gentlemen approached Phelim, and looking narrowly into his countenance,
"Here, jailer, this man I identify. I can-not be mistaken in his face; the
rough visage and drooping eye of that fellow put all doubt as to his
identity out of question. What's his' name?"
"He gives his name, sir, as Arthur Maguire."
"Arthur what, sir?" said another of the turnkeys, looking earnestly at
Phelim. "Why, sir, this is the fellow that swore the alibis for the Kellys—ay,
an' for the Delaneys, an' for the O'Briens. His name is Phelim O'Toole;
an' a purty boy he is, by all report."
Phelim, though his heart sank within him, attempted to banter them out of
their bad opinion of him; but there was something peculiarly dismal and
melancholy in his mirth.
"Why, gintlemen—ha, ha!—be gorra, I'd take it as a convanience—I
mane, as a favor—if you'd believe me that there's a small taste of
mistake here. I was sent by Square S. wid a letter to Mr. S——-t,
an' he gave me fifty ordhers to bring him back an answer this day. As for
Phelim O'Toole, if you mane the rascal that swears the alibis, faith, I
can't deny but I'm as like him, the villain, as one egg is to another. Bad
luck to his 'dhroop,' any how; little I thought that it would ever bring
me into throuble—ha, ha, ha! Mr. S———t, what
answer have you for the Square, sir? Bedad, I'm afeard I'll be late."
"That letter, Master Maguire, or Toole, or whatever your name is,
authorizes me to detain you as a prisoner, until I hear further from Mr.
"I identify him distinctly," said the gentleman, once more. "I neither
doubt nor waver on the subject; so you will do right to detain him. I
shall lodge information against him immediately."
"Sir," said Phelim to the jailer, "the Square couldn't mane me at all, in
regard that it was another person he gave the letter to, for to bring to
you, the other person gave it to me. I can make my oath of that. Be gorra,
you're playin' your thrieks upon sthrangers now, I suppose."
"Why, you lying rascal," said the jailer, "have you not a few minutes ago
asserted to the contrary? Did you not tell me that your name was Arthur,
or Art Maguire? That you are Mr. S.'s messenger, and expect to be made his
groom. And now you deny all this."
"He's Phelim O'Toole," said the turnkey, "I'll swear to him; but if you
wait for a minute, I'll soon prove it."
He immediately retired to the cell of a convict, whom he knew to be from
the townland of Teernarogarah: and ordering its inmate to look through the
bars of his window, which commanded the yard, he asked him if there was
any one among them whom he knew.
The fellow in a few minutes replied, "Whethen, divil a one, barrin'
bouncin' Phelim O'Toole."
The turnkey brought him down to the yard, where he immediately recognized
Phelim as an old friend, shook hands with him, and addressed him by his
"Bad luck to you," said Phelim in Irish, "is this a place to welcome your
"There is some mystery here," said the jailer. "I suppose the fact is,
that this fellow returned a wrong name to Mr. S., and that that accounts
for the name of Arthur Maguire being in the letter."
All Phelim's attempts to extricate himself were useless. He gave them the
proper version of the letter affair with Fool Art, but without making the
slightest impression. The jailer desired him to be locked up.
"Divil fire you all, you villains!" exclaimed Phelim, "is it goin' to put
me in crib ye are for no rason in life? Doesn't the whole parish know that
I was never off o' my bed for the last three months, wid a complaint I
had, until widin two or three days agone!"
"There are two excellent motives for putting you in crib," said the
jailer; "but if you can prove that you have been confined to your bed so
long as you say, why it will be all the better for yourself. Go with the
"No, tarenation to the fut I'll go," said Phelim, "till I'm carried."
"Doesn't the gintleman identify you, you villain," replied one of the
turnkeys; "an' isn't the Square's letther in your favor?"
"Villain, is id!" exclaimed Phelim. "An' from a hangman's cousin, too,
we're to bear this!—eh? Take that, anyhow, an' maybe you'll get more
when you don't expect it. Whoo! Success, Phelim! There's blood in you
He accompanied the words by a spring of triumph from the ground, and
surveyed the already senseless turnkey with exultation. In a moment,
however, he was secured, for the purpose of being put into strong irons.
"To the devil's warmin' pan wid ye all," he continued, "you may do your
worst. I defy you. Ha! by the heavens above me, you'll suffer for this, my
fine gintleman. What can ye do but hang or thransport me, you villains? I
tell ye, if a man's sowl had a crust of sin on it a foot thick, the best
way to get it off 'ud be jist to shoot a dozen like you. Sin! Oh, the
divil saize the sin at all in it. But wait! Did ye ever hear of a man they
call Dan O'Connell? Be my sowl, he'll make yez rub your heels together,
for keepin' an innocent boy in jail, that there's no law or no warrant out
for. This is the way we're thrated by thim that's ridin' rough shod over
us. But have a taste o' patience, ye scoundrels! It won't last, I can tell
yez. Our day will soon come, an' thin I'd recommend yez to thravel for
your health. Hell saize the day's pace or happiness ever will be seen in
the country, till laws, an' judges, an' Jries, an' jails, an' jailers, an'
turnkeys, an' hangmen is all swep out of it. Saize the day. An' along wid
them goes the parsons, procthors, tithes an' taxes, all to the devil
together. That day's not very far off, d——d villains! An' now
I tell ye, that if a hair o' my head's touched—ay, if I was hanged
to-morrow—I'd lave them behind me that 'ud put a bullet, wid the
help an' blessin' O Grod, through any one that'll injure me! So lay that
to your conscience, an' do your best. Be the crass, O'Connell I'll make
you look nine ways at wanst for this! He's the boy can put the pin in your
noses! He's the boy can make yez thrimble, one an' all o' yez—like a
dog in a wet sack! An', wid the blessin' o' God, he'll help us to put our
feet on your necks afore long!"
"That's a prudent speech," observed the jailer; "it will serve you very
Phelim consigned him to a very warm settlement in reply.
"Bring the ruffian off" added the jailer; "put him in solitary
"Put me wid Foodie Flattery," said Phelim; "you've got him here, an' I'll
go nowhere else. Faith, you'll suffer for givin' me false imprisonment.
Doesn't O'Connell's name make you shake? Put me wid Foodie Flattery, I
"Foodie Flattery! There is no such man here. Have you got such a person
here?" inquired the jailer of the turnkey.
"Not at present," said the turnkey; "but I know Foodie well. We've had him
here twice. Come away, Phelim; follow me; you're goin' to be put where
you'll have an opportunity of sayin' your prayers."
He then ushered Phelim to a cell, where the reader may easily imagine what
he felt. His patriotism rose to a high pitch; he deplored the wrongs of
his country bitterly, and was clearly convinced that until jails, judges,
and assizes, together with a long train of similar grievances, were
utterly abolished, Ireland could never be right, nor persecuted "boys,"
like himself, at full liberty to burn or murder the enemies of their
country with impunity. Notwithstanding these heroic sentiments, an
indifferent round oath more than once escaped him against Ribbonism in
whole and in part. He cursed the system, and the day, and the hour on
which he was inveigled into it. He cursed those who had initiated him; nor
did his father and mother escape for their neglect of his habits, his
morals, and his education. This occurred when he had time for reflection.
Whilst thus dispensing his execrations, the jailer and the three
gentlemen, having been struck with his allusion to Foodie Flattery, and
remembering that Foodie was of indifferent morals, came to the unanimous
opinion that it would be a good plan to secure him; and by informing him
that Phelim was in prison upon a capital charge, endeavor to work upon his
fears, by representing his companion as disposed to turn approver. The
state of the country, and Foodie's character, justified his apprehension
on suspicion. He was accordingly taken, and when certified of Phelim's
situation, acted precisely as had been expected. With very little
hesitation, he made a full disclosure of the names of several persons
concerned in burnings, waylayings, and robbery of arms. The two first
names on the list were those of Phelim and Appleton, with several besides,
some of whom bore an excellent, and others an execrable, character in the
The next day Fool Art went to Larry's, where he understood that Phelim was
on the missing list. This justified his suspicions of the Squire; but by
no means lessened his bitterness against him, for the prank he had
intended to play upon him. With great simplicity, he presented himself at
the Big House, and met its owner on the lawn, accompanied by two other
gentlemen. The magistrate was somewhat surprised at seeing Art at large,
when he imagined him to be under the jailer's lock and key.
"Well, Art," said he, concealing his amazement, "did you deliver my
"It went safe, your honor," replied Art. "Did you yourself give it into
his hands, as I ordered you?"
"Whoo! Be dodda, would your honor think Art 'ud tell a lie? Sure he read
"An' what did he say, Art?"
"Whoo! Why, that he didn't know which of us had the least sense. You for
sendin' a fool on a message, or me for deliverin' it."
"Was that all that happened?"
"No, sir. He said," added the fool, with bitter sarcasm, alluding to a
duel, in which the Squire's character had not come off with flying colors—"he
said, sir, that whin you have another challenge to fight, you may get sick
agin for threepence to the poticarry."
This having been the manner in which the Squire was said to have evaded
the duel, it is unnecessary to say that Art's readiness to refresh his
memory on the subject prevented him from being received at the Big House
Reader, remember that we only intended to give you a sketch of Phelim
O'Toole's courtship. We will, however, go so far beyond our original plan,
as to apprise you of his fate.
When it became known in the parish that he was in jail, under a charge of
felony, Sally Mattery abandoned all hopes of securing him as a husband.
The housekeeper felt suitable distress, and hoped, should the poor boy be
acquitted, that he might hould up his head wid any o' them. Phelim,
through the agency of his father, succeeded in getting ten guineas from
her, to pay the lawyers for defending him; not one penny of which he
applied to the purpose for which he obtained it. The expenses of his
defence were drawn from the Ribbon fund, and the Irish reader cannot
forget the eloquent and pathetic, appeal made by his counsel to the jury,
on his behalf, and the strength with which the fact of his being the whole
support of a helpless father and mother was stated. The appeal, however,
was ineffectual; worthy Phelim was convicted, and sentenced to
transportation for life. When his old acquaintances heard the nature of
his destiny, they remembered the two prophecies that had been so often
uttered concerning him. One of them was certainly fulfilled to the letter—we
mean that in which it was stated, "that the greatest swaggerer among the
girls generally comes to the wall at last." The other, though not
literally accomplished, was touched at least upon the spirit;
transportation for life ranks next to hanging. We,cannot avoid mentioning
a fact connected with Phelim which came to light while he remained in
prison. By incessant trouble he was prevailed upon, or rather compelled,
to attend the prison school, and on examining him, touching his religion?
knowledge, it appeared that he was ignorant of the plainest truths of
Christianity; that he knew not how or by whom the Christian religion had
been promulgated; nor, indeed, any other moral truth connected with
Immediately after his transportation, Larry took to drink, and his mother
to begging, for she had no other means of living. In this mode of life,
the husband was soon compelled to join her. They are both mendicants, and
Sheelah now appears sensible of the error in their manner of bringing
"Ah! Larry," she is sometimes heard to say, "I doubt that we wor wrong for
flyin' in the face o' God, becase He didn't give us childhre. An' when it
plased Him to grant us a son, we oughtn't to 've spoiled him by
over-indulgence, an' by lettin' him have his own head in everythin' as we
did. If we had sint him to school, an' larned him to work, an' corrected
him when he desarved it, instead of laughin' at his lies, an' misbehavior,
and his oaths, as if they wor sport—ay, an abusin' the nabors when
they'd complain of him, or tell us what he was—ay!—if we had,
it's a credit an' a comfort he'd be to us now, an' not a shame an' a
disgrace, an' an affliction. We made our own bed, Larry, an' now we must
lie down an it. An' God help us! We made his bed too, poor boy, an' a hard
one it is. God forgive us! but, anyhow, my heart a breakin', for bad as he
was, sure we havn't him to look upon!"
"Thrue," replied Larry. "Still he was game an' cute to the last. Biddy
Doran's ten guineas will sarve him beyant, poor fellow. But sure the boys'
kep their word to him, anyhow, in regard of shootin' Foodie Flattery.
Myself was never betther plased in my life, than to hear that he got the
slugs into his heart, the villain!"
We have attempted to draw Phelim O'Toole as closely as possible to the
character of that class, whose ignorance, want of education and absence of
all moral principle, constitute them the shame and reproach of the
country. By such men the peace of Ireland is destroyed, illegal
combinations formed, blood shed, and nightly outrages committed. There is
nothing more certain than this plain truth, that if proper religious and
moral knowledge were impressed upon the early principles of persons like
Phelim, a conscience would be created capable of revolting from crime.
Whatever the grievances of a people may be, whether real or imaginary, one
thing is clear, that neither murder nor illegal violence of any
description, can be the proper mode of removing or redressing them. We
have kept Phelim's Ribbonism in the background, because its details could
excite only aversion, and preferred exhibiting his utter ignorance of
morality upon a less offensive subject, in order that the reader might be
enabled to infer, rather than to witness with his mind's eye, the deeper
crimes of which he was capable.