OR, THE BROKEN PLEDGE.
by William Carleton
In proposing to write a series of "Tales for the Irish People," the author
feels perfectly conscious of the many difficulties by which he is
surrounded, and by which he may be still met in his endeavors to
accomplish that important task. In order, however, to make everything as
clear and intelligible as possible, he deems it necessary, in the first
place, to state what his object is in undertaking it: that object is
simply to improve their physical and social condition—generally; and
through the medium of vivid and striking, but unobjectionable narratives,
to inculcate such principles as may enable Irishmen to think more clearly,
reason more correctly, and act more earnestly upon the general duties,
which, from their position in life, they are called upon to perform. With
regard to those who feel apprehensive that anything calculated to injure
the doctrinal convictions of the Catholic people may be suffered to creep
into these Tales, the author has only to assure them—that such an
object comes within the scope neither of his plan or inclinations. It is
not his intention to make these productions the vehicles of Theology or
Polemics; but studiously to avoid anything and everything that even
approaches the sphere of clerical duty. His object, so far from that, is
the inculcation of general, not peculiar, principles—principles
which neither affect nor offend any creed, but which are claimed and
valued by all. In this way, by making amusement the handmaiden of
instruction, the author believes it possible to let into the cabin, the
farm-house, and even the landlord's drawing-room, a light by which each
and all of them may read many beneficial lessons—lessons that will,
it is hoped, abide with them, settle down in their hearts, and by giving
them a, clearer sense of their respective duties, aid in improving and
regenerating their condition.
To send to the poor man's fireside, through the medium of Tales that will
teach his heart and purify his affections, those simple lessons which may
enable him to understand his own value—that will generate
self-respect, independence, industry, love of truth, hatred of deceit and
falsehood, habits of cleanliness, order, and punctuality—together
with all those lesser virtues which help to create a proper sense of
personal and domestic comfort—to assist in working out these
healthful purposes is the Author's anxious wish—a task in which any
man may feel proud to engage.
Self-reliance, manly confidence in the effect of their own virtues,
respect for the virtues that ought to adorn rank, rather than for rank
itself, and a spurning of that vile servility which is only the hereditary
remnant of bygone oppression, will be taught the people in such a way as
to make them feel how far up in society a high moral condition can and
ought to place them. Nor is this all;—the darker page of Irish life
shall be laid open before them—in which they will be taught, by
examples that they can easily understand, the fearful details of misery,
destitution, banishment, and death, which the commission of a single crime
may draw down, not only upon the criminal himself, but upon those innocent
and beloved connections whom he actually punishes by his guilt.
It is, indeed, with fear and trembling that the Author undertakes such a
great and important task as this. If he fail, however, he may well say—
"Quem si non tenuifc, tamon magnis excidit ausis."
Still he is willing to hope that, through the aid of truthful fiction,
operating upon the feelings of his countrymen, and on their knowledge of
peasant life, he may furnish them with such a pleasing Encyclopedia of
social duty—now lit up with their mirth, and again made tender with
their sorrow—as will force them to look upon him as a benefactor—to
forget his former errors—and to cherish his name with affection,
when he himself shall be freed forever from those cares and trials of life
which have hitherto been his portion.
In the following simple narrative of "The Broken Pledge," it was his aim,
without leading his readers out of the plain paths of every-day life or
into the improbable creations of Romance, to detail the character of such
an individual as almost every man must have often seen and noticed within
the society by which he is surrounded. He trusts that the moral, as
regards both husband and wife, is wholesome and good, and calculated to
warn those who would follow in the footsteps of "Art Maguire."
Dubin, July 4, 1845.
It has been often observed, and as frequently inculcated, through the
medium of both press and pulpit, that there is scarcely any human being
who, how striking soever his virtues, or how numerous his good qualities
may be, does not carry in his moral constitution some particular weakness
or failing, or perhaps vice, to which he is especially subject, and which
may, if not properly watched and restrained, exercise an injurious and
evil influence over his whole life. Neither have the admonitions of press
or pulpit ended in merely laying down this obvious and undeniable truth,
but, on the contrary, very properly proceeded to add, that one of the most
pressing duties of man is to examine his own heart, in order to ascertain
what this particular vice or failing in his case may be, in order that,
when discovered, suitable means be taken to remove or overcome it.
The man whose history we are about to detail for the reader's instruction,
was, especially during the latter years of his life, a touching, but
melancholy illustration of this indisputable truth; in other words, he
possessed the weakness or the vice, as the reader may consider it, and
found, when too late, that a yielding resolution, or, to use a phrase
perhaps better understood, a good intention, was but a feeble and
inefficient instrument with which to attempt its subjection. Having made
these few preliminary observations, as being suitable, in our opinion, to
the character of the incidents which follow, we proceed at once to
commence our narrative.
Arthur, or, as he was more familiarly called by the people, Art Maguire,
was the son of parents who felt and knew that they were descended from
higher and purer blood than could be boasted of by many of the families in
their neighborhood. Art's father was a small farmer, who held about ten
acres of land, and having a family of six children—three sons, and
as many daughters—he determined upon putting one or two of the
former to a trade, so soon as they should be sufficiently grown up for
that purpose. This, under his circumstances was a proper and provident
resolution to make. His farm was too small to be parceled out, as is too
frequently the case, into small miserable patches, upon each of which a
young and inconsiderate couple are contented to sit down, with the
prospect of rearing up and supporting a numerous family with wofully
inadequate means; for although it is generally a matter of certainty that
the families of these young persons will increase, yet it is a perfectly
well-known fact that the little holding will not, and the consequence is,
that families keep subdividing on the one hand, and increasing on the
other, until there is no more room left for them. Poverty then ensues, and
as poverty in such cases begets competition, and competition crime, so we
repeat that Condy Maguire's intention, as being one calculated to avoid
such a painful state of things, was a proof of his own good sense and
Arthur's brother, Frank, was a boy not particularly remarkable for any
peculiar brilliancy of intellect, or any great vivacity of disposition.
When at school he was never in a quarrel, nor engaged in any of those wild
freaks which are sore annoyances to a village schoolmaster, and daring
outrages against his authority. He was consequently a favorite not only
with the master, but with all the sober, well-behaved boys of the school,
and many a time has Teague Rooney, with whom he was educated, exclaimed,
as he addressed him:
"Go to your sate, Frank abouchal; faith, although there are boys endowed
wid more brilliancy of intellect than has fallen to your lot, yet you are
the very youth who understands what is due to legitimate authority, at any
rate, an' that's no small gift in itself; go to your sate, sorrow taw will
go to your substratum this bout, for not having your lesson; for well I
know it wasn't idleness that prevented you, but the natural sobriety and
slowness of intellect you are gifted wid. If you are slow, however, you
are sure, and I'll pledge my reputaytion aginst that of the great
O'Flaherty himself, that you and your brinoge of a brother will both live
to give a beautiful illustration of the celebrated race between the hare
and the tortoise yet. Go to your sate wid impunity, and tell your dacent
mother I was inquiring for her."
Such, indeed, was a tolerably correct view of Frank's character. He was
quiet, inoffensive, laborious, and punctual; though not very social or
communicative, yet he was both well-tempered and warm-hearted, points
which could not, without considerable opportunities of knowing him, be
readily perceived. Having undertaken the accomplishment of an object, he
permitted no circumstance to dishearten or deter him in working out his
purpose; if he said it, he did it; for his word was a sufficient guarantee
that he would; his integrity was consequently respected, and his
resolution, when he expressed it, was seldom disputed by his companions,
who knew that in general it was inflexible. After what we have said, it is
scarcely necessary to add that he was both courageous and humane.
These combinations of character frequently occur. Many a man not
remarkable for those qualities of the head that impress themselves most
strikingly upon the world, is nevertheless gifted with those excellent
principles of the heart which, although without much show, and scarcely
any noise, go to work out the most useful purposes of life. Arthur, on the
contrary, was a contrast to his brother, and a strong one, too, on many
points; his intellect was far superior to that of Frank's, but, on the
other hand, he by no means possessed his brother's steadiness or
resolution. We do not say, however, that he was remarkable for the want of
either, far from it; he could form a resolution, and work it out as well
as his brother, provided his course was left unobstructed: nay, more, he
could overcome difficulties many and varied, provided only that he was
left unassailed by, one solitary temptation—that of an easy and
good-humored vanity. He was conscious of his talents, and of his excellent
qualities, and being exceedingly vain, nothing gave him greater
gratification than to hear himself praised for possessing them—for
it is a fact, that every man who is vain of any particular gift, forgets
that he did not bestow that gift upon himself, and that instead of priding
himself upon the possession of it, he should only be humbly thankful to
the Being who endowed him with it.
Art was social, communicative, and, although possessing what might be
considered internal resources more numerous, and of a far higher order
than did his brother, yet, somehow, it was clear that he had not the same
self-dependence that marked the other. He always wanted, as it. were,
something to lean upon, although in truth he did not at all require it,
had he properly understood himself. The truth is, like thousands, he did
not begin to perceive, or check in time, those early tendencies that lead
a heart naturally indolent, but warm and generous, to the habit of relying
first, in small things, upon external sources and objects, instead of
seeking and finding within itself those materials for manly independence,
with which every heart is supplied, were its possessor only aware of the
fact, and properly instructed how to use them.
Art's enjoyments, for instance, were always of a social nature, and never
either solitary or useful in their tendencies; of this character was every
thing he engaged in. He would not make a ship of water flaggons by
himself, nor sail it by himself—he would not spin a top, nor trundle
a hoop without a companion—if sent upon a message, or to dig a
basket of potatoes in the field, he would rather purchase the society of a
companion with all the toys or playthings he possessed than do either
alone. His very lessons he would not get unless his brother Frank got his
along with him. The reader may thus perceive that he acquired no early
habit of self-restraint, no principle of either labor or enjoyment within,
himself, and of course could acquire none at all of self-reliance. A
social disposition in our amusements is not only proper, but natural, for
we believe it is pretty generally known, that he who altogether prefers
such amusements is found to be deficient in the best and most generous
principles of our nature. Every thing, however, has its limits and its
exceptions. Art, if sent to do a day's work alone, would either abandon it
entirely, and bear the brunt of his father's anger, or he would, as we
have said, purchase the companionship of some neighbor's son or child,
for, provided he had any one to whom he could talk, he cared not, and
having thus succeeded, he would finish it triumphantly.
In due time, however, his great prevailing weakness, vanity, became well
known to his family, who, already aware of his peculiar aversion to any
kind of employment that was not social, immediately seized upon it, and
instead of taking rational steps to remove it, they nursed it into
stronger life by pandering to it as a convenient means of regulating,
checking, or stimulating the whole habits of his life. His family were not
aware of the moral consequences which they were likely to produce by
conduct such as this, nor of the pains they were ignorantly taking to lay
the foundation of his future misfortune and misery.
"Art, my good boy, will you take your spade and clane out the remaindher
o' that drain, between the Hannigans and us," said his father.
"Well, will Frank come?"
"Sure you know he can't; isn't he weedin' that bit of blanther in
Crackton's park, an' afther that sure he has to cut scraws on the
Pirl-hill for the new barn."
"Well, I'll help him if he helps me; isn't that fair? Let us join."
"Hut, get out o' that, avourneen; go yourself; do what you're bid, Art."
"Is it by myself? murdher alive, father, don't ax me; I'll give him my new
Cammon if he comes."
"Throth you won't; the sorra hand I'd ever wish to see the same Cammon in
but your own; faix, it's you that can handle it in style. Well now, Art,
well becomes myself but I thought I could play a Cammon wid the face o'
clay wanst in my time, but may I never sin if ever I could match you at
it; oh, sorra taste o' your Cammon you must part wid; sure I'd rather
scower the drain myself."
"Bedad I won't part wid it then."
"I'd rather, I tell you, scower it myself—an' I will, too. Sure if I
renew the ould cough an me I'll thry the Casharawan, (* Dandelion)
that did me so much good the last time."
"Well, that's purty! Ha, ha, ha! you to go! Oh, ay, indeed—as if I'd
stand by an' let you. Not so bad as that comes to, either—no. Is the
spade an' shovel in the shed?"
"To be sure they are. Throth, Art, you're worth the whole o' them—the
sorra lie in it. Well, go, avillish."
This was this fine boy's weakness played upon by those who, it is true,
were not at all conscious of the injury they were inflicting upon him at
the time. He was certainly the pride of the family, and even while they
humored and increased this his predominant and most dangerous foible, we
are bound to say that they gratified their own affection as much as they
did his vanity.
His father's family consisted, as we have said, of three sons and three
daughters. The latter were the elder, and in point of age Art, as we have
said, was the youngest of them all. The education that he and his brothers
received was such as the time and the neglected state of the country
afforded them. They could all read and write tolerably well, and knew
something of arithmetic. This was a proof that their education had not
been neglected. And why should it? Were they not the descendants of the
great Maguires of Fermanagh? Why, the very consciousness of their blood
was felt as a proud and unanswerable argument against ignorance. The best
education, therefore, that could be procured by persons in their humble
sphere of life, they received. The eldest brother, whose name was Brian,
did not, as is too frequently the case with the eldest sons of small
farmers, receive so liberal a portion of instruction as Frank or Art. This
resulted from the condition and necessities of his father, who could not
spare him from his farm—and, indeed, it cost the worthy man many a
sore heart. At all events, time advanced, and the two younger brothers
were taken from school with a view of being apprenticed to some useful
trade. The character of each was pretty well in accordance with their
respective dispositions. Frank had no enemies, yet was he by no means so
popular as Art, who had many. The one possessed nothing to excite envy,
and never gave offence; the other, by the very superiority of his natural
powers, exultingly paraded, as they were, at the expense of dulness or
unsuccessful rivalry, created many vindictive maligners, who let no
opportunity pass of giving him behind his back the harsh word which they
durst not give him to his face. In spite of all this, his acknowledged
superiority, his generosity, his candor, and utter ignorance or hatred of
the low chicaneries of youthful cunning, joined to his open, intrepid, and
manly character, conspired to render him popular in an extraordinary
degree. Nay, his very failings added to this, and when the battle of his
character was fought, all the traditionary errors of moral life were
quoted in his favor.
"Ay, ay, the boy has his faults, and who has not; I'd be glad to know? If
he's lively, it's betther to be that, than a mosey, any day. His brother
Frank is a good boy, but sure divil a squig of spunk or spirits is in him,
an', my dear, you know the ould proverb, that a standin' pool always
stinks, while the runnin' strame is sweet and clear to the bottom. If he's
proud, he has a right to be proud, and why shouldn't he, seein' that it's
well known he could take up more larnin' than half the school."
"Well, but poor Frank's a harmless boy, and never gave offence to mortual,
which, by the same token, is more than can be said of Art the lad."
"Very well, we know all that; and maybe it 'ud be betther for himself if
he had a sharper spice of the dioual in him—but sure the poor boy
hasn't the brain for it. Offence! oh, the dickens may seize the offence
poor Frank will give to man or woman, barrin' he mends his manners, and
gats a little life into him—sure he was a year and a day in the Five
Common Rules, an' three blessed weeks gettin' the Multiplication Table."
Such, in general, was the estimate formed of their respective characters,
by those who, of course, had an opportunity of knowing them best. Whether
the latter were right or wrong will appear in the sequel, but in the
meantime we must protest, even in this early stage of our narrative,
against those popular exhibitions of mistaken sympathy, which in early
life—the most dangerous period too—are felt and expressed for
those who, in association with weak points of character, give strong
indications of talent. This mistaken generosity is pernicious to the
individual, inasmuch as it confirms him in the very errors which he should
correct, and in the process of youthful reasoning, which is most selfish,
induces him not only to doubt the whisperings of his own conscience, but
to substitute in their stead the promptings of the silliest vanity.
Having thus given a rapid sketch of these two brothers in their schoolboy
life, we now come to that period at which their father thought proper to
apprentice them. The choice of the trade he left to their own natural
judgment, and as Frank was the eldest, he was allowed to choose first. He
immediately selected that of a carpenter, as being clean, respectable, and
within-doors; and, as he added—
"Where the wages is good—and then I'm tould that one can work afther
hours, if they wish."
"Very well," said the father, "now let us hear, Art; come, alanna, what
are you on for?"
"I'll not take any trade," replied Art.
"Not take any trade, Art! why, my goodness, sure you knew all along that
you war for a trade. Don't you know when you and Frank grow up, and, of
course, must take the world on your heads, that it isn't this strip of a
farm that you can depend on."
"That's what I think of," said Frank; "one's not to begin the world wid
empty pockets, or, any way, widout some ground to put one's foot on."
"The world!" rejoined Art; "why, what the sorra puts thoughts o' the world
into your head, Frank? Isn't it time enough for you or me to think o' the
world these ten years to come?"
"Ay," replied Frank, "but when we come to join it isn't the time to begin
to think of it; don't you know what the ould saying says—ha nha
la na guiha la na scuillaba—it isn't on the windy day that you
are to look for your scollops."*
* The proverb inculcates forethought and provision.
Scollop is an osier sharpened at both ends, by which
the thatch of a house is fastened down to the roof. Of
a windy day the thatch alone would be utterly useless,
if there were no scollops to keep it firm.
"An' what 'ud prevent you, Art, from goin' to larn a trade?" asked his
"I'd rather stay with you," replied the affectionate boy; "I don't like to
leave you nor the family, to be goin' among strangers."
The unexpected and touching nature of his motive, so different from what
was expected, went immediately to his father's heart. He looked at his
fine boy, and was silent for a minute, after which he wiped the moisture
from his eyes. Art, on seeing his father affected, became so himself, and
"That's my only raison, father, for not goin'; I wouldn't like to lave you
an' them, if I could help it."
"Well, acushla," replied the father, while his eyes beamed on him with
tenderness and affection, "sure we wouldn't ax you to go, if we could any
way avoid it—it's for your own good we do it. Don't refuse to go,
Art; sure for my sake you won't?"
"I will go, then," he replied; "I'll go for your sake, but I'll miss you
"An' we'll miss you, ahagur. God bless you, Art dear, it's jist like you.
Ay, will we in throth miss you; but, then, think what a brave fine thing
it'll be for you to have a grip of a dacent independent trade, that'll
keep your feet out o' the dirt while you live."
"I will go," repeated Art, "but as for the trade, I'll have none but
Frank's. I'll be a carpenter, for then he and I can be together."
In addition to the affectionate motive which Art had mentioned to his
father—and which was a true one—as occasioning his reluctance
to learn a trade, there was another, equally strong and equally tender. In
the immediate neighborhood there lived a family named Murray, between whom
and the Maguires there subsisted a very kindly intimacy. Jemmy Murray was
in fact one of the wealthiest men in that part of the parish, as wealth
then was considered—that is to say, he farmed about forty acres,
which he held at a moderate rent, and as he was both industrious and
frugal, it was only a matter of consequence that he and his were well to
do in the world. It is not likely, however, that even a passing
acquaintance would ever have taken place between them, were it not for the
consideration of the blood which was known to flow in the veins of the
Fermanagh Maguires. Murray was a good deal touched with purse-pride—the
most offensive and contemptible description of pride in the world—and
would never have suffered an intimacy, were it not for the reason I have
alleged. It is true he was not a man of such stainless integrity as Condy
Maguire, because it was pretty well known that in the course of his life,
while accumulating money, he was said to have stooped to practices that
were, to say the least of them, highly discreditable. For instance, he
always held over his meal, until there came what is unfortunately both too
well known and too well felt in Ireland,—a dear year—a year of
hunger, starvation, and famine. For the same reason he held over his hay,
and indeed on passing his haggard you were certain to perceive three or
four immense stacks, bleached by the sun and rain of two or three seasons
into a tawny yellow. Go into his large kitchen or storehouse, and you saw
three or four immense deal chests filled with meal, which was reserved for
a season of scarcity—for, proud as Farmer Murray was, he did not
disdain to fatten upon human misery. Between these two families there was,
as we have said, an intimacy. It was wealth and worldly goods on the one
side; integrity and old blood on the other. Be this as it may, Farmer
Murray had a daughter, Margaret, the youngest of four, who was much about
the age of Arthur Maguire. Margaret was a girl whom it was almost
impossible to know and not to love. Though then but seventeen, her figure
was full, rich, and beautifully formed. Her abundant hair was black and
glossy as ebony, and her skin, which threw a lustre like ivory itself, had—not
the whiteness of snow—but a whiteness a thousand times more natural—a
whiteness that was fresh, radiant, and spotless. She was arch and full of
spirits, but her humor—for she possessed it in abundance—was
so artless, joyous, and innocent, that the heart was taken with it before
one had time for reflection. Added, however, to this charming vivacity of
temperament were many admirable virtues, and a fund of deep and fervent
feeling, which, even at that early period of her life, had made her name
beloved by every one in the parish, especially the poor and destitute. The
fact is, she was her father's favorite daughter, and he could deny her
nothing. The admirable girl was conscious of this, but instead of availing
herself of his affection for her in a way that many—nay, we may say,
most—would have done, for purposes of dress or vanity, she became an
interceding angel for the poor and destitute; and closely as Murray loved
money, yet it is due to him to say, that, on these occasions, she was
generally successful. Indeed, he was so far from being insensible to his
daughter's noble virtues, that he felt pride in reflecting that she
possessed them, and gave aid ten times from that feeling for once that he
did from a more exalted one. Such was Margaret Murray, and such, we are
happy to say—for we know it—are thousands of the peasant girls
of our country.
It was not to be wondered at, then, that in addition to the reluctance
which a heart naturally affectionate, like Art's, should feel on leaving
his relations for the first time, he should experience much secret sorrow
at being deprived of the society of this sweet and winning girl.
Matters now, however, were soon arranged, and the time, nay, the very day
for their departure was appointed. Art, though deeply smitten with the
charms of Margaret Murray, had never yet ventured to breathe to her a
syllable of love, being deterred naturally enough by the distance in point
of wealth which existed between the families. Not that this alone,
perhaps, would have prevented him from declaring his affection for her;
but, young as he was, he had not been left unimpressed by his father's
hereditary sense of the decent pride, strict honesty, and independent
spirit, which should always mark the conduct and feelings of any one
descended from the great Fermanagh Maguires. He might, therefore, probably
have spoken, but that his pride dreaded a repulse, and that he could not
bear to contemplate. This, joined to the natural diffidence of youth,
sufficiently accounts for his silence.
There lived, at the period of which we write, which is not a thousand
years ago, at a place called "the Corner House," a celebrated carpenter
named Jack M'Carroll. He was unquestionably a first-rate mechanic, kept a
large establishment, and had ample and extensive business. To him had Art
and Frank been apprenticed, and, indeed, a better selection could not have
been made, for Jack was not only a good workman himself, but an excellent
employer, and an honest man. An arrangement had been entered into with a
neighboring farmer regarding their board and lodging, so that every thing
was settled very much to the satisfaction of all parties.
When the day of their departure had at length arrived, Art felt his
affections strongly divided, but without being diminished, between
Margaret Murray and his family; while Frank, who was calm and thoughtful,
addressed himself to the task of getting ready such luggage as they had
been provided with.
"Frank," said Art, "don't you think we ought to go and bid farewell to a
few of our nearest neighbors before we lave home?"
"Where's the use of that?" asked Frank; "not a bit, Art; the best plan is
jist to bid our own people farewell, and slip away without noise or
"You may act as you plaise, Frank," replied the other; "as for me, I'll
call on Jemmy Hanlon and Tom Connolly, at all events; but hould," said he,
abruptly, "ought I to do that? Isn't it their business to come to us?"
"It is," replied Frank, "and so they would too, but that they think we
won't start till Thursday; for you know we didn't intend to go till then."
"Well," said Art, "that's a horse of another color: I will call on them.
Wouldn't they think it heartless of us to go off widout seein' them? An'
besides, Frank, why should we steal away like thieves that had the hue and
cry at their heels? No, faith, as sure as we go at all, we'll go openly,
an' like men that have nothing to be afraid of."
"Very well," replied his brother, "have it your own way, so far as you're
consarned, as for me, I look upon it all as mere nonsense."
It is seldom that honest and manly affection fails to meet its reward, be
the period soon or late. Had Art been guided by Frank's apparent
indifference—who, however, acted in this matter solely for the sake
of sparing his brother's feelings—he would have missed the
opportunity of being a party to an incident which influenced his future
life in all he ever afterwards enjoyed and suffered. He had gone, as he
said, to bid farewell to his neighbors, and was on his return home in
order to take his departure, when whom should he meet on her way to her
father's house, after having called at his father's "to see the girls," as
she said, with a slight emphasis upon the word girls, but Margaret Murray.
As was natural, and as they had often done before under similar
circumstances, each paused on meeting, but somehow on this occasion there
was visible on both sides more restraint than either had ever yet shown.
At length, the preliminary chat having ceased, a silence ensued, which,
after a little time, was broken by Margaret, who, Art could perceive,
blushed deeply as she spoke.
"So, Art, you and Frank are goin' to lave us."
"It's not with my own consint I'm goin', Margaret," he replied. As he
uttered the words he looked at her; their eyes met, but neither could
stand the glance of the other; they were instantly withdrawn.
"I'll not forget my friends, at all events," said Art; "at least, there's
some o' them I won't, nor wouldn't either, if I was to get a million o'
money for doin' so."
Margaret's face and neck, on hearing this, were in one glow of crimson,
and she kept her eyes still on the ground, but made no reply. At length
she raised them, and their glances met again; in that glance the
consciousness of his meaning was read by both, the secret was disclosed,
and their love told.
The place where they stood was in one of those exquisitely wild but
beautiful green country lanes that are mostly enclosed on each side by
thorn hedges, and have their sides bespangled with a profusion of delicate
and fragrant wild flowers, while the pathway, from the unfrequency of
feet, is generally covered with short daisy-gemmed grass, with the
exception of a trodden line in the middle that is made solely by
foot-passengers. Such was the sweet spot in which they stood at the moment
the last glance took place between them.
At length Margaret spoke, but why was it that her voice was such music to
him now? Musical and sweet it always was, and he had heard it a thousand
times before, but why, we ask, was it now so delicious to his ear, so
ecstatic to his heart? Ah, it was that sweet, entrancing little charm
which trembled up from her young and beating heart, through its softest
intonations; this low tremor it was that confirmed the tale which the
divine glance of that dark, but soft and mellow eye, had just told him.
But to proceed, at length she spoke—
"Arthur," said the innocent girl, unconscious that she was about to do an
act for which many will condemn her, "before you go, and I know I will not
have an opportunity of seein' you again, will you accept of a keepsake
"Will I? oh, Margaret, Margaret!"—he gazed at her, but could not
proceed, his heart was too full.
"Take this," said she, "and keep it for my sake."
Ho took it out of her hand, he seized the hand itself, another glance, and
they sank into each other's arms, each trembling with an excess of
happiness. Margaret wept. This gush of rapture relieved and lightened
their young and innocent hearts, and Margaret having withdrawn herself
from his arms, they could now speak more freely. It is not our intention,
however, to detail their conversation, which may easily be conjectured by
our readers. On looking at the keepsake, Art found that it was a tress of
her rich and raven hair, which, we may add here, he tied about his heart
that day, and on that heart, or rather the dust of that heart, it lies on
It was fortunate for Art that he followed! his brother's judgment in
selecting the same trade. Frank, we have said, notwithstanding his
coldness of manner, was by no means deficient in feeling or affection; he
possessed, however, the power of suppressing their external
manifestations, a circumstance which not unfrequently occasioned it to
happen that want of feeling was often imputed to him without any just
cause. At all events, he was a guide, a monitor, and a friend to his
brother, whom he most sincerely and affectionately loved; he kindly
pointed out to him his errors, matured his judgment by sound practical
advice: where it was necessary, he gave him the spur, and on other,
occasions held him in. Art was extremely well-tempered, as was Frank also,
so that it was impossible any two brothers could agree better, or live in
more harmony than they did. In truth, he had almost succeeded in opening
Art's eyes to the weak points in his character, especially to the
greatest, and most dangerous of all—his vanity, or insatiable
appetite for praise. They had not been long in M'Carroll's establishment
when the young man's foibles were soon seen through, and of course began
to be played upon; Frank, however, like a guardian angel, was always at
hand to advise or defend him, as the case might be, and as both, in a
physical contest, were able and willing to fight their own battles, we
need not say that in a short time their fellow-workmen ceased to play off
their pranks upon either of them. Everything forthwith passed very
smoothly; Art's love for Margaret Murray was like an apple of gold in his
heart, a secret treasure of which the world knew nothing; they saw each
other at least once a month, when their vows were renewed, and, surely, we
need not say, that their affection on each subsequent interview only
became more tender and enduring.
The period of Frank's and Art's apprenticeship had now nearly expired, and
it is not too much to say that their conduct reflected the highest credit
upon themselves. Three or four times, we believe, Art had been seduced, in
the absence of his brother, by the influence of bad company, to indulge in
drink, even to intoxication. This, during the greater part of a whole
apprenticeship, considering his temperament, and the almost daily
temptations by which he was beset, must be admitted on the whole to be a
very moderate amount of error in that respect. On the morning after his
last transgression, however, apprehending very naturally a strong
remonstrance from his brother, he addressed him as follows, in
anticipation of what he supposed Frank was about to say:—
"Now, Frank, I know you're goin' to scould me, and what is more, I know I
disarve all you could say to me; but there's one thing you don't know, an'
that is what I suffer for lettin' myself be made a fool of last night.
Afther the advices you have so often given me, and afther what my father
so often tould us to think of ourselves, and afther the solemn promises I
made to you—and that I broke, I feel as if I was nothin' more or
less than a disgrace to the name."
"Art," said the other, "I'm glad to hear you speak as you do; for it's a
proof that repentance is in your heart. I suppose I needn't say that it's
your intention not to be caught be these fellows again."
"By the sacred—"
"Whisht," said Frank, clapping his hand upon his mouth; "there's no use at
all in rash oaths, Art. If your mind is made up honestly and firmly in the
sight of God—and dependin' upon his assistance, that is enough
—and a great deal betther, too, than a rash oath made in a sudden
fit of repentance—ay, before you're properly recovered from your
liquor. Now say no more, only promise me you won't do the like, again."
"Frank, listen to me—by all the—"
"Hould, Art," replied Frank, stopping him again; "I tell you once more,
this rash swearin' is a bad sign—I'll hear no rash oaths; but listen
you to me; if your mind is made up against drinkin' this way again, jist
look me calmly and steadily in the face, and answer me simply by yes or
no. Now take your time, an' don't be in a hurry—be cool—be
calm—reflect upon what you're about to say; and whether it's your
solemn and serious intention to abide by it. My question 'll be very short
and very simple; your answer, as I said, will be merely yes or no. Will
you ever allow these fellows to make you drunk again? Yes or no, an' not
"That will do," said Frank; "now give me your hand, and a single word upon
what has passed you will never hear from me."
In large manufactories, and in workshops similar to that in which the two
brothers were now serving their apprenticeship, almost every one knows
that the drunken and profligate entertain an unaccountable antipathy
against the moral and the sober. Art's last fit of intoxication was not
only a triumph over himself, but, what was still more, a triumph over his
brother, who had so often prevented him from falling into their snares and
joining in their brutal excesses. It so happened, however, that about this
precise period, Art had, unfortunately, contracted an intimacy with one of
the class I speak of, an adroit fellow with an oily tongue, vast powers of
flattery, and still greater powers of bearing liquor—for Frank could
observe, that notwithstanding all their potations, he never on any
occasion observed him affected by drink, a circumstance which raised him
in his estimation, because he considered that he was rather an obliging,
civil young fellow, who complied so far as to give these men his society,
but yet had sufficient firmness to resist the temptations to drink beyond
the bounds of moderation. The upshot of all this was, that Frank, not
entertaining any suspicion particularly injurious to Harte, for such was
his name, permitted his brother to associate with him much more frequently
than he would have done, had he even guessed at his real character.
One day, about a month after the conversation which we have just detailed
between the two brothers, the following conversation took place among that
class of the mechanics whom we shall term the profligates:—
"So he made a solemn promise, Harte, to Drywig"—this was a
nickname they had for Frank—"that he'd never smell liquor again."
"A most solemnious promise," said Harte ironically; "a most solemn and
solemnious promise; an' only that I know he's not a Methodist, I could
a'most mistake him for Paddy M'Mahon, the locality preacher, when he tould
"Paddy M'Mahon!" exclaimed Skinadre, the first speaker, a little thin
fellow, with white hair and red ferret eyes; "why, who the divil ever
heard of a Methodist Praicher of the name of Paddy M'Mahon?"
"It's aisy known," observed a fellow named, or rather nicknamed, Jack
Slanty, in consequence of a deformity in his leg, that gave him the
appearance of leaning or slanting to the one side; "it's aisy known,
Skinadre, that you're not long in this part of the country, or you'd not
ax who Paddy M'Mahon is."
"Come, Slanty, never mind Paddy M'Mahon," said another of them; "he
received the gift of grace in the shape of a purty Methodist wife and a
good fortune; ay, an' a sweet love-faist he had of it; he dropped the
Padereens over Solomon's Bridge, and tuck to the evenin' meetins—that's
enough for you to know; and now, Harte, about Maguire?"
"Why," said Harte, "if I'm not allowed to edge in a word, I had betther
"A most solemn promise, you say?"
"A most solemn and solemnious promise, that was what I said; never again
by night or day, wet or dry, high or low, in or out, up or down, here or
there, to—to—get himself snimicated wid any liquorary fluid
whatsomever, be the same more or less, good, bad, or indifferent, hot or
could, thick or thin, black or white—"
"Have done, Harte; quit your cursed sniftherin', an' spake like a
Christian; do you think you can manage to circumsniffle him agin?"
"Ay," said Harte, "or any man that ever trod on neat's leather—barrin'
"And who is that one?"
"That one, sir—that one—do you ax me who that one is?"
"Have you no ears? To be sure I do."
"Then, Skinadre, I'll tell you—I'll tell you, sarra,"—we ought
to add here, that Harte was a first-rate mimic, and was now doing a
drunken man,—"I'll tell you, sarra—that person was Nelson on
the top of the monument in Sackville street—no—no—I'm
wrong; I could make poor ould Horace drunk any time, an' often did—an'
many a turn-tumble he got off the monument at night, and the divil's own
throuble I had in gettin' him up on it before mornin', bekaise you all
know he'd be cashiered, or, any way, brought to coort martial for leavin'
"Well, if Nelson's not the man, who is?"
"Drywig's his name," replied Harte; "you all know one Drywig,
"Quit your cursed stuff, Harte," said a new speaker, named Garvey; "if you
think you can dose him, say so, and if not, let us have no more talk about
"Faith, an' it'll be a nice card to play," replied Harte, resuming his
natural voice; "but at all events, if you will all drop into Garvey's
lodgins and mine, to-morrow evenin', you may find him there; but don't
blame me if I fail."
"No one's goin' to blame you," said Slanty, "an' the devil's own pity it
is that that blasted Drywig of a brother of his keeps him in
leadin' strings the way he does."
"The way I'll do is this: I'll ask him up to look at the pattern of my new
waistcoat, an' wanst I get him in, all I have to do is to lay it on
"I doubt that," said another, who had joined them; "when he came here
first, and for a long time afther, soapin' him might do; but I tell you
his eye's open—it's no go—he's wide awake now."
"Shut your orifice," said Harte; "lave the thing to me; 'twas I did it
before, although he doesn't think so, an' it's I that will do it again,
although he doesn't think so. Haven't I been for the last mortal month
guardin' him aginst yez, you villains?"
"Ay, to-morrow evenin'; an' if we don't give him a gauliogue that'll make
him dance the circumbendibus widout music—never believe that my
name's any thing else than Tom Thin, that got thick upon spring wather.
Hello! there's the bell, boys, so mind what I tould yez; we'll give him a
farewell benefit, if it was only for the sake of poor Drywig. Ah,
poor Drywig! how will he live widout him? Ochone, ochone! ha, ha,
Without at all suspecting the trap that had been set for him, Art attended
his business as usual, till towards evening, when Harte took an
opportunity, when he got him for a few minutes by himself, of speaking to
him apparently in a careless and indifferent way.
"Art, that's a nate patthern in your waistcoat; but any how, I dunna how
it is that you contrive to have every thing about you dacenter an'
jinteeler than another." This, by the way, was true, both of him and his
"Tut, it's but middlin'," said Art; "it's now but a has-been:—when
it was at itself it wasn't so bad."
"Begad, it was lovely wanst; now; how do you account, Art, for bein'
supairior to us in all in—in every thing, I may say; ay, begad, in
every thing, and in all things, for that's a point every one allows."
"Nonsense, Syl" (his name was Sylvester), "don't be comin' it soft over
me; how am I betther than any other?"
"Why, you're betther made, in the first place, than e'er a man among us;
in the next place, you're a betther workman;"—both these were true—"an',
in the third place, you're the best lookin' of the whole pack; an' now
deny these if you can:—eh, ha, ha, ha—my lad, I have you!"
An involuntary smile might be observed on Art's face at the last
observation, which also was true.
"Syl," he replied, "behave yourself; what are you at now? I know you."
"Know me!" exclaimed Syl; "why what do you know of me? Nothing that's bad
I hope, any way."
"None of your palaver, at all events," replied Art; "have you got any
tobaccy about you?"
"Sorra taste," replied Harte, "nor had since mornin'."
"Well, I have then," said Art, pulling out a piece, and throwing it to him
with the air of a superior; "warm your gums wid that, for altho' I seldom
take a blast myself, I don't forget them that do."
"Ah, begorra," said Harte, in an undertone that was designed to be heard,
"there's something in the ould blood still; thank you, Art, faix it's
yourself that hasn't your heart in a trifle, nor ever had. I bought a
waistcoat on Saturday last from Paddy M'Gartland, but I only tuck it on
the condition of your likin' it."
"Me! ha, ha, ha, well, sure enough, Syl, you're the quarest fellow alive;
why, man, isn't it yourself you have to plaise, not me."
"No matther for that, I'm not goin' to put my judgment in comparishment
wid yours, at any rate; an' Paddy M'Gartland himself said, 'Syl, my boy,
you know what you're about; if this patthern plaises Art Maguire, it'll
plaise anybody; see what it is,' says he, 'to have the fine high ould
blood in one's veins.' Begad he did; will you come up this evenin' about
seven o'clock, now, like a good fellow, an' pass your opinion for me?
Divil a dacent stitch I have, an' I want either it, or another, made up
before the ball night."*
* Country dances, or balls, in which the young men pay
from ten to fifteen pence for whiskey "to trate the
ladies." We hope they will be abolished.
"Well, upon my soundhers, Syl, I did not think you were such a fool; of
coorse I'll pass my opinion on it—about seven o'clock, you say."
"About seven—thank you, Art; an' now listen;—sure the boys
intind to play off some prank upon you afore you lave us."
"On me," replied the other, reddening; "very well, Syl, let them do so; I
can bear a joke, or give a blow, as well as another; so divil may care,
such as they give, such as they'll get—only this, let there be no
attempt to make me drink whiskey, or else there may be harder hittin' than
some o' them 'ud like, an' I think they ought to know that by this time."
"By jing, they surely ought; well, but can you spell mum?"
"Ha, ha, ha, take care of yourself, an' don't forget seven."
"Frank," said Art, "I'm goin' up to Syl Harte's lodgin's to pass my
opinion on the patthern of a waistcoat for him."
"Very well," said Frank, "of coorse."
"I'll not stop long."
"As long or short as you like, Art, my boy."
"I hope, Frank, you don't imagine that there's any danger of drink?"
"Who, me—why should I, afther what passed? Didn't you give me your
word, and isn't your name Maguire? Not I."
Art had seen, and approved of the pattern, and was chatting with Syl, when
a knock came to the room door in which they sat; Syl rose, and opening the
door, immediately closed it after him, and began in a low voice to
remonstrate with some persons outside. At length Art could hear the
subject of debate pretty well—
"Sorra foot yez will put inside the room this evenin', above all evenin's
in the year."
"Why, sure we know he won't drink. I wish to goodness we knew he had been
here; we wouldn't ax him to drink, bekase we know he wouldn't.
"No matther for that, sorrow foot yez'll put acrass the thrashel this
evenin'; now, I'll toll you what, Skinadre, I wouldn't this blessed
minute, for all I've earned these six months, that ye came this evenin';—I
have my raisons for it; Art Maguire is a boy that we have no right to
compare ourselves wid—you all know that."
"We all know it, and there's nobody denyin' it; we haven't the blood in
our veins that he has, an' blood will show itself anywhere."
"Well then, boys, for his sake—an' I know you'd do any day for his
sake what you wouldn't, nor what you oughtn't, for mine—for his
sake, I say, go off wid yez, and bring your liquor somewhere else, or sure
wait till to-morrow evenin'."
"Out of respect for Art Maguire we'll go; an' divil another boy in the
province we'd pay that respect to; good-evenin', Syl!"
"Aisy, boys," said Art, coming to the door, "don't let me frighten you—come
in—I'd be very sorry to be the means of spoilin' sport, although I
can't drink myself; that wouldn't be generous—come in."
"Augh," said Skinadre, "by the livin' it's in him, an' I always knew it
was—the rale drop."
"Boys," said Harte, "go off wid yez out o' this, I say; divil a foot
you'll come in."
"Arra go to—Jimmaiky; who cares about you, Syl, when we have Art's
liberty? Sure we didn't know the thing ourselves half an hour ago."
"Come, Syl, man alive," said Art, "let the poor fellows enjoy their
liquor, an', as I can't join yez, I'll take my hat an' be off."
"I knew it, an' bad luck to yez, how yez 'ud drive him away," said Syl,
"Faix, if we disturb you, Art, we're off—that 'ud be too bad; yes,
Syl, you were right, it was very thoughtless of us: Art, we ax your
pardon, sorra one of us meant you any offence in life—come, boys."
Art's generosity was thus fairly challenged, and he was not to be outdone—
"Aisy, boys," said he; "sit down; I'll not go, if that'll plaise yez; sure
you'll neither eat me nor dhrink me."
"Well, there's jist one word you said, Slanty, that makes me submit to
it," observed Harte, "an' that is, that it was accident your comin' at
all;" he here looked significantly at Art, as if to remind him of their
previous conversation on that day, and as he did it, his face gradually
assumed a complacent expression, as much as to say, it's now clear that
this cannot be the trap they designed for you, otherwise it wouldn't be
accidental. Art understood him, and returned a look which satisfied the
other that he did so.
As they warmed in their liquor, or pretended to get warm, many sly
attempts to entrap him were made, every one of which was openly and
indignantly opposed by Harte, who would not suffer them to offer him a
It is not our intention to dwell upon these matters: at present it is
sufficient to say, that after a considerable part of the evening had been
spent, Harte rose up, and called upon them all to fill their glasses—
"And," he added, "as this is a toast that ought always to bring a full
glass to the mouth, and an empty one from it, I must take the liberty of
axin Art himself to fill a bumper."
The latter looked at him with a good deal of real surprise, as the others
did with that which was of a very different description.
"Skinadre," proceeded Harte, "will you hand over the cowld wather, for a
bumper it must be, if it was vitriol." He then filled Art's glass with
water, and proceeded—"Stand up, boys, and be proud, as you have a
right to be; here's the health of Frank Maguire, and the ould blood of
Ireland!—hip, hip, hurra!"
"Aisy, boys," said Art, whose heart was fired by this unexpected
compliment, paid to a brother whom he loved so well, and who, indeed, so
well, deserved his love; "aisy, boys," he proceeded, "hand me the whiskey;
if it was to be my last, I'll never drink my brother's health in cowld
"Throth an' you will this time," said Harte, "undher this roof spirits
won't crass; your lips, an' you know for why."
"I know but one thing," replied Art, "that as you said yourself, if it was
vitriol, I'd dhrink it for the best brother that ever lived; I only
promised him that I wouldn't get dhrunk, an' sure, drinkin' a glass o'
whiskey, or three either, wouldn't make me dhrunk—so hand it here."
"Well, Art," said Harte, "there's one man you can't blame for this, and
that is Syl Harte."
"No, Syl, never—but now, boys, I am ready."
"Frank Maguire's health! hip, hip, hurra!"
Thus was a fine, generous-minded, and affectionate young man—who
possessed all the candor and absence of suspicion which characterize truth—tempted
and triumphed over, partly through the very warmth of his own affections,
by a set of low, cunning profligates, who felt only anxious to drag him
down from the moral superiority which they felt he possessed. That he was
vain, and fond of praise, they knew, and our readers may also perceive
that it was that unfortunate vanity which gave them the first advantage
over him, by bringing him, through its influence, among them. Late that
night he was carried home on a door, in a state of unconscious
It is utterly beyond our power to describe the harrowing state of his
sensations on awakening the next morning. Abasement, repentance, remorse,
all combined as they were within him, fall far short of what he felt; he
was degraded in his own eyes, deprived of self-respect, and stripped of
every claim to the confidence of his brother, as he was to the well-known
character for integrity which had been until then inseparable from the
name. That, however, which pressed upon him with the most intense
bitterness was the appalling reflection that he could no longer depend
upon himself, nor put any trust in his own resolutions. Of what use was he
in the world without a will of his own, and the power of abiding by its
decisions? None; yet what was to be done? He could not live out of the
world, and wherever he went, its temptations would beset him. Then there
was his beloved Margaret Murray! was he to make her the wife of a common
drunkard? or did she suspect, when she pledged herself to him, that she
was giving away her heart and affections to a poor unmanly sot, who had
not sense or firmness to keep himself sober? He felt in a state between
distraction and despair, and putting his hands over his face, he wept
bitterly. To complete the picture, his veins still throbbed with the dry
fever that follows intoxication, his stomach was in a state of deadly
sickness and loathing, and his head felt exactly as if it would burst or
Alas! had his natural character been properly understood and judiciously
managed; had he been early taught to understand and to control his own
obvious errors; had the necessity of self-reliance, firmness, and
independence been taught him; had his principles not been enfeebled by the
foolish praise of his family, nor his vanity inflated by their senseless
appeals to it—it is possible, nay, almost certain, that he would,
even at this stage of his life, have been completely free from the
failings which are beginning even now to undermine the whole strength of
his moral constitution.
Frank's interview with him on this occasion was short but significant—
"Art," said he, "you know I never was a man of many words; and I'm not
goin' to turn over a new lafe now. To scould you is not my intention—nor
to listen to your promises. All I have to say is, that you have broken
your word, and disgraced your name. As for me, I can put neither
confidence nor trust in you any longer; neither will I."
A single tear was visible on his cheek as he passed out of the room; and
when he did, Art's violent sobs were quite audible. Indeed, if truth must
be told, Frank's distress was nearly equal to his brother's. What,
however, was to be done? He was too ill to attend his business, a
circumstance which only heightened his distress; for he knew that
difficult as was the task of encountering his master, and those who would
only enjoy his remorse, still even that was less difficult to be borne
than the scourge of his own reflections. At length a thought occurred,
which appeared to give him some relief; that thought he felt was all that
now remained to him, for as it was clear that he could no longer depend on
himself, it was necessary that he should find something else on which to
depend. He accordingly sent an intimation to his master that he wished to
have a few minutes' conversation with him, if he could spare time;
M'Carroll accordingly came, and found him in a state which excited the
worthy man's compassion.
"Well, Art," said he, "what is it you wish to speak to me about? I hear
you were drunk last night. Now I thought you had more sense than to let
these fellows put you into such a pickle. I have a fine, well-conducted
set of men in general; but there is among them a hardened, hackneyed crew,
who, because they are good workmen, don't care a curse about either you or
me, or anybody else. They're always sure of employment, if not here, at
least elsewhere, or, indeed, anywhere."
"But it wasn't their fault," replied Art, "it was altogether my own; they
were opposed to my drinkin' at all, especially as they knew that I
promised Frank never to get drunk agin. It was when Syl Harte proposed
Frank's health, that I drank the whiskey in spite o' them."
"Syl Harte," said his master with a smile, "ay, I was thinkin' so; well,
no matter, Art, have strength and resolution not to do the like again."
"But that's the curse, sir," replied the young man, "I have neither the
one nor the other, and it's on that account I sent for you."
"How is that, Art?"
"Why," said the other, "I am goin' to bind myself—I am goin' to
swear against it, and so to make short work of it, and for fraid any one
might prevent me"—he blessed himself, and proceeded—"I now, in
the presence of God, swear upon this blessed manwil (* Manual) that a drop
of spirituous drink, or liquor of any kind, won't cross my lips for the
next seven years, barrin' it may be necessary as medicine;" he then kissed
the book three times, blessed himself again, and sat down considerably
"Now," he added, "you may tell them what I've done; that's seven years'
freedom, thank God; for I wouldn't be the slave of whiskey—the
greatest of tyrants—for the wealth of Europe."
"No, but the worst of it is, Art," replied his m ister, who was an
exceedingly shrewd man, "that whiskey makes a man his own tyrant and his
own slave, both at the same time, and that's more than the greatest tyrant
that ever lived did yet. As for yourself, you're not fit to work any this
day, so I think you ought to take a stretch across the country, and walk
off the consequence of your debauch with these fellows last night."
Art now felt confidence and relief; he had obtained the very precise aid
of which he stood in need. The danger was now over, and a prop placed
under his own feeble resolution, on which he could depend with safety;
here there could be no tampering with temptation; the matter was clear,
explicit, and decisive: so far all was right, and, as we have said, his
conscience felt relieved of a weighty burden.
His brother, on hearing it from his own lips, said little, yet that little
was not to discourage him; he rather approved than otherwise, but avoided
expressing any very decided opinion on it, one way or the other.
"It's a pity," said he, "that want of common resolution should drive a man
to take an oath; if you had tried your own strength, a little farther,
Art, who knows but you might a' gained a victory without it, and that
would be more creditable and manly than swearin'; still, the temptation to
drink is great to some people, and this prevents all possibility of
fallin' into it."
Art, who, never having dealt in any thing disingenuous himself, was slow
to credit duplicity in others, did not once suspect that the profligates
had played him off this trick, rather to annoy the brother than himself.
It was, after all, nothing but the discreditable triumph of cunning and
debased minds, over the inexperience, or vanity, if you will, of one, who,
whatever his foibles might be, would himself scorn to take an ungenerous
advantage of confidence reposed in him in consequence of his good opinion
and friendly feeling.
The period of their apprenticeship, however, elapsed, and the day at
length arrived for their departure from the Corner House. Their master,
and, we may add, their friend, solicited them to stop with him still as
journeymen; but, as each had a different object in view, they declined it.
Art proposed to set up for himself, for it was indeed but natural that one
whose affections had been now so long engaged, should wish, with as little
delay as possible, to see himself possessed of a home to which he might
bring his betrothed wife. Frank had not trusted to chance, or relied
merely upon vague projects, like his brother; for, some time previous to
the close of his apprenticeship, he had been quietly negotiating the
formation of a partnership with a carpenter who wanted a steady man at the
helm. The man had capital himself, and was clever enough in his way, but
then he was illiterate, and utterly without method in conducting his
affairs; Frank was therefore the identical description of person he stood
in need of, and, as the integrity of his family was well known—that
integrity which they felt so anxious to preserve without speck—there
was of course little obstruction in the way of their coming to terms.
On the morning of the day on which they left his establishment, M'Carroll
came into the workshop while they were about bidding farewell to their
companions, with whom they had lived—abating the three or four
pranks that were played off upon Art—on good and friendly terms, and
seeing that they were about to take their departure, he addressed them as
"I need not say," he proceeded, "that I regret you are leaving me; which I
do, for, without meaning any disrespect to those present, I am bound to
acknowledge that two better workmen, or two honester young men, were never
in my employment. Art, indeed is unsurpassed, considering his time, and
that he is only closing his apprenticeship: 'tis true, he has had good
opportunities—opportunities which, I am happy to say, he has never
neglected. I am in the habit, as you both know, of addressing a few words
of advice to my young men at the close of their apprenticeships, and when
they are entering upon the world as you are now. I will therefore lay down
a few simple rules for your guidance, and, perhaps, by following them, you
will find yourselves neither the worse nor the poorer men.
"Let the first principle then of your life, both as mechanics, and men, be
truth—truth in all you think, in all you say, and in all you do; if
this should fail to procure you the approbation of the world, it will not
fail to procure you your own, and, what is better, that of God. Let your
next principle be industry—honest, fair, legitimate industry, to
which you ought to annex punctuality—for industry without
punctuality is but half a virtue. Let your third great principle be
sobriety—strict and undeviating sobriety; a mechanic without
sobriety, so far from being a benefit or an ornament to society, as he
ought to be, is a curse and a disgrace to it; within the limits of
sobriety all the rational enjoyments of life are comprised, and without
them are to be found all those which desolate society with crime,
indigence, sickness, and death. In maintaining sobriety in the world, and
especially among persons of your own class, you will certainly have much
to contend with; remember that firmness of character, when acting upon
right feeling and good sense, will enable you to maintain and work out
every virtuous and laudable purpose which you propose to effect. Do not,
therefore, suffer yourselves to be shamed from sobriety, or, indeed, from
any other moral duty, by the force of ridicule; neither, on the other
hand, must you be seduced into it by flattery, or the transient
gratification of social enjoyment. I have, in fact, little further to add;
you are now about to become members of society, and to assume more
distinctly the duties which it imposes on you. Discharge them all
faithfully—do not break your words, but keep your promises, and
respect yourselves, remember that self-respect is a very different thing
from pride, or an empty overweening vanity—self-respect is, in fact,
altogether incompatible with them, as they are with it; like opposite
qualities, they cannot abide in the same individual. Let me impress it on
you, that these are the principles by which you must honorably succeed in
life, if you do succeed; while by neglecting them, you must assuredly
fail. 'Tis true, knavery and dishonesty are often successful, but it is by
the exercise of fraudulent practices, which I am certain you will never
think of carrying into the business of life—I consequently dismiss
this point altogether, as unsuitable to either of you. I have only to add,
now, that I hope most sincerely you will observe the few simple truths I
have laid down to you; and I trust, that ere many years pass, I may live
to see you both respectable, useful, and independent members of society.
Farewell, and may you be all we wish you!"
Whether this little code of useful doctrine was equally observed by both,
will appear in the course of our narrative.
About a month or so before the departure of Frank and Art from the Corner
House, Jemmy Murray and another man were one day in the beginning of May
strolling through one of his pasture-fields. His companion was a thin,
hard-visaged little fellow, with a triangular face, and dry bristly hair,
very much the color of, and nearly as prickly as, a withered furze bush;
both, indeed, were congenial spirits, for it is only necessary to say,
that he of the furze bush was another of those charital and generous
individuals whose great delight consisted, like his friend Murray, in
watching the seasons, and speculating upon the failure of the crops. He
had the reputation of being wealthy, and in fact was so; indeed, of the
two, those who had reason to know, considered that he held the weightier
purse; his name was Cooney Finigan, and the object of his visit to Murray—their
conversation, however, will sufficiently develop that. Both, we should
observe, appeared to be exceedingly blank and solemn; Cooney's hard face,
as he cast his eye about him, would have made one imagine that he had just
buried the last of his family, and Murray looked as if he had a son about
to be hanged. The whole cause of this was simply that a finer season, nor
one giving ampler promise of abundance, had not come within the memory of
"Ah!" said Murray, with a sigh, "look, Cooney, at the distressin' growth
of grass that's there—a foot high if it's an inch! If God hasn't sed
it, there will be the largest and heaviest crops that ever was seen in the
"Well, but one can't have good luck always," replied Cooney; "only it's
the wondherful forwardness of the whate that's distressin' me."
"An' do you think that I'm sufferin' nothin' on that account?" asked his
companion; "only you haven't three big stacks of hay waitin' for a
failure, as I have."
"That's bekase I have no meadow on my farm," replied Cooney; "otherwise I
would be in the hay trade as well as yourself."
"Well, God help us, Cooney! every one has their misfortunes as well as you
and I; sure enough, it's a bitther business to see how every thing's
thrivin'—hay, oats, and whate! why they'll be for a song: may I
never get a bad shillin', but the poor 'ill be paid for takin' them!
that's the bitther pass things will come to; maurone ok! but it's a black
"An' this rain, too," said Cooney, "so soft, and even, and small, and
warm, that it's playin' the very devil. Nothin' could stand it. Why it ud
make a rotten twig grow if it was put into the ground."
"Divil a one o' me would like to make the third," said Murray, "for 'fraid
I might have the misfortune to succeed. Death alive! Only think of my four
arks, of meal, an' my three stacks of hay, an' divil a pile to come out of
them for another twelve months!"
"It's bad, too bad, I allow," said the other; "still let us not despair,
man alive; who knows but the saison may change for the worse yet. Whish!"
he exclaimed, slapping the side of his thigh, "hould up your head, Jemmy,
I have thought of it; I have thought of it."
"You have thought of what, Cooney?"
"Why, death alive, man, sure there's plenty of time, God be praised for
it, for the—murdher, why didn't we think of it before? ha, ha, ha!"
"For the what, man? don't keep us longin' for it."
"Why for the pratie crops to fail still; sure it's only the beginning o'
May now, and who knows but we might have the happiness to see a right good
general failure of the praties still? Eh? ha, ha, ha!"
"Upon my sounds, Cooney, you have taken a good deal of weight off of me.
Faith we have the lookout of a bad potato crop yet, sure enough. How is
the wind? Don't you think you feel a little dry bitin' in it, as if it
came from the aist?"
"Why, then, in regard of the dead calm that's in it, I can't exactly say—but,
let me see—you're right, divil a doubt of it; faith it is, sure
enough; bravo, Jemmy, who knows but all may go wrong wid the crops yet."
"At all events, let us have a glass on the head of it, and we'll drink to
the failure of the potato craps, and God prosper the aist wind, for it's
the best for you an' me, Cooney, that's goin'. Come up to the house above,
and we'll have a glass on the head of it."
The fastidious reader may doubt whether any two men, no matter how griping
or rapacious, could prevail upon themselves to express to each other
sentiments so openly inimical to all human sympathy. In holding this
dialogue, however, the men were only thinking aloud, and giving utterance
to the wishes which every inhuman knave of their kind feels. In
compliance, however, with the objections which maybe brought against the
probability of the above dialogue, we will now give the one which did
actually occur, and then appeal to our readers whether the first is not
much more in keeping with the character of the speakers—which ought
always to be a writer's great object—than the second. Now, the
reader already knows that each of these men had three or four large arks
of meal laid past until the arrival of a failure in the crops and a season
of famine, and that Murray had three large stacks of hay in the hope of a
similar failure in the meadow crop.
"Good-morrow kindly, Cooney; isn't this a fine saison, the Lord be
"A glorious saison, blessed be His name! I don't think ever I remimber a
finer promise of the craps."
"Throth, nor I, the meadows is a miracle to look at."
"Divil a thing else—but the white, an' oats, an' early potatoes,
beat anything ever was seen."
"Throth, the poor will have them for a song, Jemmy."
"Ay, or for less, Cooney; they'll be paid for takin' them."
"It's enough to raise one's heart, Jemmy, just to think of it."
"Why then it is that, an', for the same raison, come up to the house
above, and we'll have a sup on the head of it; sure, it's no harm to drink
success to the craps, and may God prevent a failure, any how."
"Divil a bit."
Now, we simply ask the reader which dialogue is in the more appropriate
keeping with the characters of honest, candid Jemmy and Cooney?
"And now," proceeded Cooney, "regard-in' this match between your youngest
daughter Margaret, and my son Toal."
"Why, as for myself," replied Murray, "sorra much of objection I have
aginst it, barrin' his figure; if he was about a foot and a half higher,
and a little betther made—God pardon me, an' blessed be the maker—there
would, at all events, be less difficulty in the business, especially with
"But couldn't you bring her about?"
"I did my endayvors, Cooney; you may take my word I did."
"Well, an' is she not softenin' at all?"
"Upon my sounds, Cooney, I cannot say she is. If I could only get her to
spake one sairious word on the subject, I might have some chance; but I
cannot, Cooney; I think both you an' little Toal had betther give it up. I
doubt there's no chance."
"Faith an' the more will be her loss. I tell you, Jemmy, that he'd outdo
either you or me as a meal man. What more would you want?"
"He's cute enough, I know that."
"I tell you you don't know the half of it. It's the man that can make the
money for her that you want."
"But aginst that, you know, it's Peggy an' not me that's to marry him.
Now, you know that women often—though not always, I grant—wish
to have something in the appearance of their husband that they needn't be
ashamed to look at."
"That's the only objection that can bo brought against him. He's the boy
can make the money; I'm a fool to him. I'll tell you what, Jemmy Murray,
may I never go home, but he'd skin a flint. Did you hear anything? Now!"
Murray, who appeared to be getting somewhat tired of this topic, replied
"Why, Cooney Finnigan, if he could skin the devil himself and ait him
afterwards, she wouldn't have him. She has refused some of the best
looking young men in the parish, widout either rhyme or raison, an' I'm
sure she's not goin' to take your leprechaun of a son, that you might run
a five-gallon keg between his knees. Sure, bad luck to the thing his legs
resemble but a pair of raipin' hooks, wid their backs outwards. Let us
pass this subject, and come in till we drink a glass together."
"And so you call my son a leprechaun, and he has legs like raipin' hooks!"
"Ha, ha, ha! Come in, man alive; never mind little Toal."
"Like raipin' hooks! I'll tell you what, Jemmy, I say now in sincerity,
that there is every prospect of a plentiful sayson; and that there may, I
pray God this day; meadows an' all—O above all, the meadows, for I'm
not in the hay business myself."
"So," said Murray, laughing, "you would cut off your nose to vex your
"I would any day, even if should suffer myself by it; and now good-bye,
Jemmy Murray, to the dioual I pitch the whole thing! Rapin' hooks!" And as
he spoke, off went the furious little extortioner, irretrievably offended.
The subject of Margaret's marriage, however, was on that precise period
one on which her father and friends had felt and expressed much concern.
Many proposals had been made for her hand during Art's apprenticeship; but
each and all not only without success, but without either hope or
encouragement. Her family were surprised and grieved at this, and the more
so, because they could not divine the cause of it. Upon the subject of her
attachment to Maguire, she not only preserved an inviolable silence
herself, but exacted a solemn promise from her lover that he should not
disclose it to any human being. Her motive, she said, for keeping their
affection and engagement to each other secret, was to avoid being harassed
at home by her friends and family, who, being once aware of the relation
in which she stood towards Art, would naturally give her little peace. She
knew very well that her relations would not consent to such a union, and,
in point of mere prudence and forethought, her conduct was right, for she
certainly avoided much intemperate remonstrance, as afterwards proved to
be the case when she mentioned it. Her father on this occasion having
amused them at home by relating the tift which had taken place between
Cooney Finnigan and himself, which was received with abundant mirth by
them all, especially by Margaret, seriously introduced the subject of her
marriage, and of a recent proposal which had been made to her.
"You are the only unmarried girl we have left now," he said, "and surely
you ought neither to be too proud nor too saucy to refuse such a match as
Mark Hanratty—a young man in as thrivin' a business as there is in
all Ballykeerin; hasn't he a good shop, good business, and a good back of
friends in the country that will stand to him, an' only see how he has
thruv these last couple o' years. What's come over you at all? or do you
ever intend to marry? you have refused every one for so far widout either
rhyme or raison. Why, Peggy, what father's timper could stand this work?"
"Ha, ha, ha! like raipin' hooks, father—an' so the little red rogue
couldn't bear that? well, at all events, the comparison's a good one—sorra
better; ha, ha, ha—reapin' hooks!"
"Is that the answer you have for me?"
"Answer!" said Margaret, feigning surprise, "what about?"
"About Mark Hanmity."
"Well, but sure if he's fond of me, hell have no objection to wait."
"Ay, but if he does wait, will you have him?"
"I didn't promise that, and, at any rate, I'd not like to be a
"Why, he'd be puttin' me behind the counter, and you know I'd be too
handsome for that; sure, there's Thogue Nugent that got the handsome wife
from Dublin, and of a fair, or market-day, for one that goes in to buy
anything, there goes ten in to look at her. Throth, I think he ought to
put her in the windy at once, just to save trouble, and give the people
"Ha, ha, ha! well, you're the dickens of a girl, sure enough; but come,
avourneen, don't be makin' me laugh now, but tell me what answer I'm to
"Tell him to go to Dublin, like Thogue; he lives in the upper part of the
town, and Thogue in the lower, and then there will be a beauty in each end
"Suppose I take it into my head to lose my temper, Peggy, maybe I'd make
you spake then?"
"Well, will you give me a peck o' mail for widow Dolan?"
"No, divil a dust."
"Sure I'll pay you—ha, ha, ha!"
"Sure you'll pay me! mavrone, but it's often you've said that afore, and
divil a cross o' Your coin ever we seen yet; faith, it's you that's
heavily in my debt, when I think of all ever you promised to pay me."
"Very well, then; no meal, no answer."
"And will you give me an answer if I give you the meal?"
"Honor bright, didn't I say it."
"Go an' get it yourself then, an' see now, don't do as you always do, take
double what you're allowed."
Margiret, in direct violation of this paternal injunction, did most
unquestionably take near twice the stipulated quantity for the widow, and,
in order that there might be no countermand on the part of her father, as
sometimes happened, she sent it off with one of the servants by a back
way, so that he had no opportunity of seeing how far her charity had
carried her beyond the spirit and letter of her instructions.
"Well," said he, when she returned, "now for the answer; and before you
give it, think of the comfort you'll have with him—how fine and
nicely furnished his house is—he has carpets upon the rooms, ay, an'
upon my sounds, on the very stairs itself! faix it's you that will be in
state. Now, acushla, let us hear your answer."
"It's very short, father; I won't have him."
"Won't have him! and in the name of all that's unbiddable and undutiful,
who will you have, if one may ax that, or do you intend, to have any one
at all, or not?"
"Let me see," she said, putting the side of her forefinger to her lips,
"what day is this? Thursday. Well, then, on this day month, father, I'll
tell my mother who I'll have, or, at any rate, who I'd wish to have; but,
in the mean time, nobody need ask me anything further about it till then,
for I won't give any other information on the subject."
The father looked very seriously into the fire for a considerable time,
and was silent; he then drew his breath lengthily, tapped the table a
little with his fingers, and exclaimed—"A month! well, the time will
pass, and, as we must wait, why we must, that's all."
Matters lay in this state until the third day before the expiration of the
appointed time, when Margaret, having received from Art secret
intelligence of his return, hastened to a spot agreed upon between them,
that they might consult each other upon what ought to be done under
circumstances so critical.
After the usual preface to such tender discussions, Art listened with a
good deal of anxiety, but without the slightest doubt of her firmness and
attachment, to an account of the promise she had given her father.
"Well, but, Margaret darlin'," said he, "what will happen if they refuse?"
"Surely, you know it is too late for them to refuse now; arn't we as good
as married—didn't we pass the Hand Promise—isn't our troth
"I know that, but suppose they should still refuse, then what's to be
done? what are you and I to do?"
"I must lave that to you, Art," she replied archly.
"And it couldn't be in better hands, Margaret; if they refuse their
consent, there's nothing for it but a regular runaway, and that will
"You must think I'm very fond of you," she added playfully, "and I suppose
you do, too."
"Margaret," said Art, and his face became instantly overshadowed with
seriousness and care, "the day may come when I'll feel how necessary you
will be to guide and support me."
She looked quickly into his eyes, and saw that his mind appeared disturbed
"My dear Art," she asked, "what is the meaning of your words, and why is
there such sadness in your face?"
"There ought not to be sadness in it," he said, "when I'm sure of you—you
will be my guardian angel may be yet."
"Art, have you any particular meanin' in what you say?"
"I'll tell you all," said he, "when we are married."
Margaret was generous-minded, and, as the reader may yet acknowledge,
heroic; there was all the boldness and bravery of innocence about her, and
she could scarcely help attributing Art's last words to some fact
connected with his feelings, or, perhaps, to circumstances which his
generosity prevented him from disclosing. A thought struck her—
"Art," said she, "the sooner this is settled the better; as it is, if
you'll be guided by me, we won't let the sun set upon it; walk up with me
to my father's house, come in, and in the name of God, we'll leave nothing
unknown to him. He is a hard man, but he has a heart, and he is better a
thousand times than he is reported. I know it."
"Come," said Art, "let us go; he may be richer, but there's the blood, and
the honesty, and good name of the Maguires against his wealth—"
A gentle pressure on his arm, when he mentioned the word wealth, and he
"My darlin' Margaret," said he, "oh how unworthy I am of you!"
"Now," said she, "lave me to manage this business my own way. Your good
sense will tell you when to spake; but whatever my father says, trate him
with respect—lave the rest to me."
On entering, they found Murray and his wife in the little parlor—the
former smoking his pipe, and the latter darning a pair of stockings.
"Father," said Margaret, "Art Maguire convoyed me home; but, indeed, I
must say, I was forced to ask him."
"Art Maguire. Why, then, upon my sounds, Art, I'm glad to see you. An' how
are you, man alive? an' how is Frank, eh? As grave as a jidge, as he
always was—ha, ha, ha! Take a chair, Art, and be sittin'. Peggy,
gluntha me, remimber, you must have Art at your weddin'. It's now widin
three days of the time I'm to know who he is; and upon my sounds, I'm like
a hen on a hot griddle till I hear it."
"You're not within three days, father."
"But I say I am, accordin' to your own countin'."
"You're not within three hours, father;"—her face 'glowed, and her
whole system became vivified with singular and startling energy as she
spoke;—"no, you are not within three hours, father; not within three
minutes, my dear father; for there stands the man," she said, pointing to
Art. She gave three or four loud hysterical sobs, and then stood calm,
looking not upon her father, but upon her lover; as much as to say, Is
this love, or is it not?
Her mother, who was a quiet, inoffensive creature, without any principle
or opinion whatsoever at variance with those of her husband, rose upon
hearing this announcement; but so ambiguous were her motions, that we
question whether the most sagacious prophet of all antiquity could
anticipate from them the slightest possible clue to her opinion. The
husband, in fact, had not yet spoken, and until he had, the poor woman did
not know her own mind. Under any circumstances, it was difficult exactly
to comprehend her meaning. In fact, she could not speak three words of
common English, having probably never made the experiment a dozen times in
her life. Murray was struck for some time mute.
"And is this the young man," said he, at length, "that has been the mains
of preventin' you from being so well married often and often before now?"
"No, indeed, father," she replied, "he was not the occasion of that; but I
was. I am betrothed to him, as he is to me, for five years."
"And," said her father, "my consent to that marriage you will never have;
if you marry him, marry him, but you will marry him without my blessin'."
"Jemmy Murray," said Art, whose pride of family was fast rising, "who am
I, and who are you?"
Margaret put her hand to his mouth, and said in a low voice—
"Art, if you love me, leave it to my management."
"Ho, Jemmy," said the mother, addressing her husband, "only put your ears
to this! Ho, dher manim, this is that skamin' piece of feasthealagh
(* nonesense) they call grah (*love). Ho, by my sowl, it shows what
moseys they is to think that—what's this you call it?—low-lov-loaf,
or whatsomever the devil it is, has to do wid makin' a young couple man
and wife. Didn't I hate the ground you stud on when I was married upon
you? but I had the airighid. Ho, faix, I had the shiners."
"Divil a word o' lie in that, Madjey, asthore. You had the money, an' I
got it, and wern't we as happy, or ten times happier, than if we had
married for love?"
"To be sartin we am; an' isn't we more unhappier now, nor if we had got
married for loaf, glory be to godness!"
"Father," said Margaret, anxious to put an end to this ludicrous debate,
"this is the only man I will ever marry."
"And by Him that made me," said her father, "you will never have my
consent to that marriage, nor my blessin'."
"Art," said she, "not one word. Here, in the presence of my father and
mother, and in the presence of God himself, I say I will be your wife, and
"And," said her father, "see whether a blessin' will attend a marriage
where a child goes against the will of her parents."
"I'm of age now to think and act for myself, father; an' you know this is
the first thing I ever disobeyed you in, an' I hope it 'ill be the last.
Am I goin' to marry one that's discreditable to have connected with our
family? So far from that, it is the credit that is comin' to us. Is a
respectable young man, without spot or stain on his name, with the
good-will of all that know him, and a good trade—is such a person,
father, so very high above us? Is one who has the blood of the great
Fermanagh Maguires in his veins not good enough for your daughter, because
you happen to have a few bits of metal that he has not? Father, you will
give us your consent an' your blessin' too; but remember that whether you
do, or whether you don't, I'll not break my vow; I'll marry him."
"Margaret," said the father, in a calm, collected voice, "put both consent
and blessin' out of the question; you will never have either from me."
"Ho dher a Ihora heena," exclaimed the mother, "I'm the boy for one
that will see the buckle crossed against them, or I'd die every day this
twelve months upon the top and tail o' Knockmany, through wind an'
weather. You darlin' scoundrel," she proceeded, addressing Art, in what
she intended to be violent abuse—"God condemn your sowl to
happiness, is I or am my husband to be whillebelewin' on your loaf? Eh,
answer us that, if you're not able, like a man, as you is?"
Margaret, whose humor and sense of the ludicrous were exceedingly strong,
having seldom heard her mother so excited before, gave one arch look at
Art, who, on the contrary, felt perfectly confounded at the woman's
language, and in that look there was a kind of humorous entreaty that he
would depart. She nodded towards the door, and Art, having shook hands
with her, said—
"Good-by, Jemmy Murray, I hope you'll change your mind still; your
daughter never could got any one that loves her as I do, or that could
treat her with more tendherness and affection."
"Be off, you darlin' vagabone," said Mrs. Murray, "the heavens be your
bed, you villain, why don't you stay where you is, an' not be malivogin an
undacent family this way."
"Art Maguire," replied Murray, "you heard my intention, and I'll never
change it." Art then withdrew.
Our readers may now anticipate the consequences of the preceding
conversation. Murray and his wife having persisted in their refusal to
sanction Margaret's marriage with Maguire, every argument and influence
having been resorted to in vain, Margaret and he made what is termed a
runaway match of it, that is, a rustic elopement, in which the young
couple go usually to the house of some friend, under the protection of
whose wife the female remains until her marriage, when the husband brings
And now they commence life. No sooner were they united, than Art, feeling
what was due to her who had made such and so many sacrifices for him, put
his shoulder to the wheel with energy and vigor. Such aid as his father
could give him, he did give; that which stood him most in stead, however,
was the high character and unsullied reputation of his own family.
Margaret's conduct, which was looked upon as a proof of great spirit and
independence, rendered her, if possible, still better loved by the people
than before. But, as we said, there was every confidence placed in Art,
and the strongest hopes of his future success and prosperity in life
expressed by all who knew him; and this was reasonable. Here was a young
man of excellent conduct, a first-rate workman, steady, industrious,
quiet, and, above all things, sober; for the three or four infractions of
sobriety that took place during his apprenticeship, had they even been
generally known, would have been reputed as nothing; the truth is, that
both he and Margaret commenced life, if not with a heavy purse, at least
with each a light heart. He immediately took a house in Ballykeerin, and,
as it happened that a man of his own trade, named Davis, died about the
same time of lockjaw, occasioned by a chisel wound in the ball of the
thumb, as a natural consequence, Art came in for a considerable portion of
his business; so true is it, that one man's misfortune is another man's
making. His father did all he could for him, and Margaret's sisters also
gave them some assistance, so that, ere the expiration of a year, they
found themselves better off than they had reason to expect, and, what
crowned their happiness—for they were happy—was the appearance
of a lovely boy, whom, after his father, they called. Arthur. Their hearts
had not much now to crave after—happiness was theirs, and health;
and, to make the picture still more complete, prosperity, as the
legitimate reward of Art's industry and close attention to business, was
beginning to dawn upon them.
One morning, a few months after this time, as she sat with their lovely
babe in her arms, the little rogue playing with the tangles of her raven
hair, Art addressed her in the fulness of as affectionate a heart as ever
beat in a human bosom:—
"Well, Mag," said he, "are you sorry for not marryin' Mark Hanratty?"
She looked at him, and then at their beautiful babe, which was his image,
and her lip quivered for a moment; she then smiled, and kissing the
infant, left a tear upon its face.
He started, "My God, Margaret," said he, "what is this?"
"If that happy tear," she replied, "is a proof of it, I am."
Art stooped, and kissing her tenderly, said—"May God make me, and
keep me worthy of you, my darling wife!"
"Still, Art," she continued, "there is one slight drawback upon my
happiness, and that is, when it comes into my mind that in marryin' you, I
didn't get a parent's blessin'; it sometimes makes my mind sad, and I
can't help feelin' so."
"I could wish you had got it myself," replied her husband, "but you know
it can't be remedied now."
"At all events," she said, "let us live so as that we may desarve it; it
was my first and last offence towards my father and mother."
"And it's very few could say as much, Mag, dear; but don't think of it,
sure, may be, he may come about yet."
"I can hardly hope that," she replied, "after the priest failin'."
"Well, but," replied her husband, taking up the child in his arms, "who
knows what this little man may do for us—who knows, some day, but
we'll send a little messenger to his grandfather for a blessin' for his
mammy that he won't have the heart to refuse."
This opened a gleam of satisfaction in her mind. She and her husband
having once more kissed the little fellow, exchanged glances of affection,
and he withdrew to his workshop.
Every week and month henceforth added to their comfort. Art advanced in
life, in respectability, and independence; he was, indeed, a pattern to
all tradesmen who wish to maintain in the world such a character as
enforces esteem and praise; his industry was incessant, he was ever
engaged in something calculated to advance himself; up early and down late
was his constant practice—no man could exceed, him in punctuality—his
word was sacred—whatever he said was done; and so general were his
habits of industry, integrity, and extreme good conduct appreciated, that
he was mentioned as a fresh instance of the high character sustained by
all who had the old blood of the Fermanagh Maguires in their veins. In
this way he proceeded, happy in the affections of his admirable wife—happy
in two lovely children—happy in his circumstances—in short,
every way happy, when, to still add to that happiness, on the night of the
very day that closed the term of his oath against liquor—that closed
the seventh year—his wife presented him with their third child, and
In Ireland there is generally a very festive spirit prevalent during
christenings, weddings, or other social meetings of a similar nature; and
so strongly is this spirit felt, that it is—or was, I should rather
say—not at all an unusual thing for a man, when taking an oath
against liquor, to except christenings or weddings, and very frequently
funerals, as well as Christmas and Easter. Every one acquainted with the
country knows this, and no one need be surprised at the delight with which
Art Maguire hailed this agreeable coincidence. Art, we have said before,
was naturally social, and, although he did most religiously observe his
oath, yet, since the truth must be told, we are bound to admit that, on
many and many an occasion, he did also most unquestionably regret the
restraint that he had placed upon himself with regard to liquor. Whenever
his friends were met together, whether at fair, or market, wedding,
christening, or during the usual festivals, it is certain that a glass of
punch or whiskey never crossed his nose that he did not feel a secret
hankering after it, and would often have snuffed in the odor, or licked
his lips at it, were it not that he would have considered the act as a
kind of misprision of perjury. Now, however, that he was free, and about
to have a christening in his house, it was at least only reasonable that
he should indulge in a glass, if only for the sake of drinking the health
of "the young lady." His brother Frank happened to be in town that
evening, and Art prevailed on him to stop for the night.
"You must stand for the young colleen, Frank," said he, "and who do you
think is to join you?"
"Why, how could I guess?" replied Frank.
"The sorra other but little Toal Finnigan, that thought to take Margaret
from me, you renumber."
"I remimber he wanted to marry her, and I know that he's the most
revengeful and ill-minded little scoundrel on the face of the earth; if
ever there was a devil in a human bein', there's one in that misshapen but
sugary little vagabone. His father was bad enough when he was alive, and
worse than he ought to be, may God forgive him now, but this spiteful
skinflint, that's a curse to the poor of the country, as he is their
hatred, what could tempt you to ax him to stand for any child of yours?"
"He may be what he likes, Frank, but all I can say is, that I found him
civil and obligin', an' you know the devil's not so black as he's
"I know no such thing, Art," replied the other; "for that matter, he may
be a great deal blacker; but still I'd advise you to have nothing to say
to Toal—he's a bad graft, egg and bird; but what civility did he
ever show you?"
"Why, he—he's a devilish pleasant little fellow, any way, so he is;
throth it's he that spakes well of you, at any rate; if he was ten times
worse than he is, he has a tongue in his head that will gain him friends."
"I see, Art," said Frank, laughing, "he has been layin' it thick an' sweet
on you. My hand to you, there's not so sweet-tongued a knave in the
province; but mind, I put you on your guard—he's never pure honey
all out, unless where there's bitther hatred and revenge at the bottom of
it—that's well known, so be advised and keep him at a distance; have
nothin' to do or to say to him, and, as to havin' him for a godfather, why
I hardly think the child could thrive that he'd stand for."
"It's too late for that now,", replied Art, "for I axed him betther than
three weeks agone."
"An' did he consint?"
"He did, to be sure."
"Well, then, keep your word to him, of coorse; but, as soon as the
christenings over, drop him like a hot potato."
"Why, thin, that's hard enough, Frank, so long as I find the crathur
"Ay, but, Art, don't I tell you that it's his civility you should be
afeard of; throth, the same civility ought to get him kicked a dozen times
"Faix and," said Art, "kicked or not, here he comes; whisht! don't be
oncivil to the little bachelor at any rate."
"Oncivil, why should I? the little extortionin' vagabone never injured or
fleeced me; but, before he puts his nose into the house, let me tell you
wanst more, Art, that he never gets sweet upon any one that he hasn't in
hatred for them at the bottom; that's his carracther."
"I know it is," said Art, "but, until I find it to be true, I'll take the
ginerous side, an' I won't believe it; he's a screw, I know, an' a
skinflint, an'—whisht! here he is."
"Toal Finnigan, how are you?" said Art; "I was goin' to say how is every
tether length of you, only that I think it would be impossible to get a
tether short enough to measure you."
"Ha, ha, ha, that's right good—divil a man livin' makes me laugh so
much as—why then, Frank Maguire too!—throth, Frank, I'm proud
to see you well—an' how are you, man? and—well, in throth I am
happy to see you lookin' so well, and in good health; an' whisper, Frank,
it's your own fau't that I'm not inquirin' for the wife and childre."
"An' I can return the compliment, Toal; it's a shame for both of us to be
bachelors at this time o' day."
"Ah," said the little fellow, "I wasn't Frank Maguire, one of the best
lookin' boys in the barony, an' the most respected, an' why not? Well,
divil a thing afther all like the ould blood, an' if I wanted a pure dhrop
of that same, maybe I don't know where to go to look for it—maybe I
don't, I say!"
"It's Toal's fault that he wasn't married many a year ago," said Art; "he
refused more wives, Frank, than e'er a boy of his years from this to
Jinglety cooeh—divil a lie in it; sure he'll tell you himself."
Now, as Toal is to appear occasionally, and to be alluded to from time to
time in this narrative, we shall give the reader a short sketch or outline
of his physical appearance and moral character. In three words, then, he
had all his father's vices multiplied tenfold, and not one of his good
qualities, such as they were; his hair was of that nondescript color which
partakes at once of the red, the fair, and the auburn; it was a bad dirty
dun, but harmonized with his complexion to a miracle. That complexion,
indeed, was no common one; as we said, it was one of those which, no
matter how frequently it might have been scrubbed, always presented the
undeniable evidences of dirt so thorougly ingrained into the pores of the
skin, that no process could remove it, short of flaying him alive. His
vile, dingy dun bristles stood out in all directions from his head, which
was so shaped as to defy admeasurement; the little rascal's body was
equally ill-made, and as for his limbs, we have already described them, as
reaping-hooks of flesh and blood, terminated by a pair of lark-heeled
feet, as flat as smoothing-irons. Now, be it known, that notwithstanding
these disadvantages, little Toal looked upon himself as an Adonis upon a
small scale, and did certainly believe that scarcely any female on whom he
threw his fascinating eye could resist being enamored of him. This, of
course, having become generally known, was taken advantage of, and many a
merry country girl amused both herself and others at his expenses while he
imagined her to be perfectly serious.
"Then how did you escape at all," said Frank—"you that the girls are
so fond of?"
"You may well ax," said Toal; "but at any rate, it's the divil entirely to
have them too fond of you. There's raison in every thing, but wanst a
woman takes a strong fancy to the cut of your face, you're done for, until
you get rid of her. Throth I suffered as much persecution that way as
would make a good batch o' marthyrs. However, what can one do?"
"It's a hard case, Toal," said Art; "an' I b'lieve you're as badly off, if
not worse, now than ever."
"In that respect," replied Toal, "I'm ladin' the life of a murdherer. I
can't set my face out but there's a pursuit after me—chased an'
hunted like a bag fox; devil a lie I'm tellin' you."
"But do you intend to marry still, Toal?" asked Frank; "bekaise if you
don't, it would be only raisonable for you to make it generally known that
your mind's made up to die a bachelor."
"I wouldn't bring the penalty an' expenses of a wife an' family on me, for
the handsomest woman livin'," said Toal. "Oh no; the Lord in mercy forbid
that! Amin, I pray."
"But," said Art, "is it fair play to the girls not to let that be
generally known, Toal?"
"Hut," replied the other, "let them pick it out of their larnin', the
thieves. Sure they parsecuted me to sich a degree, that they desarve no
mercy at my hands. So, Art," he proceeded, "you've got another mouth to
feed! Oh, the Lord pity you! If you go on this way, what 'ill become of
you at last?"
"Don't you know," replied Art, "that God always fits the back to the
burden, and that he never sends a mouth but he sends something to fill
The little extortioner shrugged his shoulders, and raising his eyebrows,
turned up his eyes—as much as to say, What a pretty notion of life
you have with such opinions as these!
"Upon my word, Toal," said Art, "the young lady we've got home to us is a
beauty; at all events, her godfathers need not be ashamed of her."
"If she's like her own father or mother," replied Toal, once more resuming
the sugar-candy style, "she can't be anything else than a beauty, It's
well known that sich a couple never stood undher the roof of Aughindrummon
Chapel, nor walked the street of Ballykeerin."
Frank winked at Art, who, instead of returning the wink, as he ought to
have done, shut both his eyes, and then looked at Toal with an expression
of great compassion—as if he wished to say, Poor fellow, I don't
think he can be so bad-hearted as the world gives him credit for.
"Come, Toal," he replied, laughing, "none of your bother now. Ay was
there, many a finer couple under the same roof, and on the same street; so
no palaver, my man; But are you prepared to stand for the girsha? You know
it's nearly a month since I axed you?"
"To be sure I am; but who's the midwife?"
"Ould Kate Sharpe; as lucky a woman as ever came about one's house."
"Throth, then, I'm sorry for that," said Toal, "for she's a woman I don't
like; an' I now say beforehand, that devil a traneen she'll be the betther
of me, Art."
"Settle that," replied Art, "between you; at all events, be ready on
Sunday next—the christenin's fixed for it."
After some farther chat, Toal, who, we should have informed our readers,
had removed from his father's old residence into Ballykeerin, took his
departure, quite proud at the notion of being a godfather at all; for in
truth it was the first occasion on which he ever had an opportunity of
arriving at that honor.
Art was a strictly conscientious man; so much so, indeed, that he never
defrauded a human being to the value of a farthing; and as for truth, it
was the standard principle of his whole life. Honesty, truth, and sobriety
are, indeed, the three great virtues upon which all that is honorable,
prosperous, and happy is founded. Art's conscientious scruples were so
strong, that although in point of fact the term of his oath had expired at
twelve o'clock in the forenoon, he would not permit himself to taste a
drop of spirits until after twelve at night.
"It's best," said he to his brother, "to be on the safe side at all
events: a few hours is neither one way nor the other. We haven't now more
than a quarther to go, and then for a tight drop to wet my whistle, an'
dhrink the little girshas health an' her mother's. Throth I've put in a
good apprenticehip to sobriety, anyhow. Come, Madjey," he added,
addressing the servant-maid, "put down the kettle till we have a little
jorum of our own; Frank here and myself; and all of yez."
"Very little jorum will go far wid me, you know, Art," replied his
brother; "an' if you take my advice, you'll not go beyond bounds yourself
"Throth, Frank, an' I'll not take either yours nor any other body's, until
little Kate's christened. I think that afther a fast of seven years I'm
entitled to a stretch."
"Well, well," said his brother; "I see you're on for it; but as you said
yourself a while ago, it's best to be on the safe side, you know."
"Why, dang it, Frank, sure you don't imagine I'm goin' to drink the town
dhry; there's raison in everything."
At length the kettle was boiled, and the punch made; Art took his tumbler
in hand, and rose up; he looked at it, then glanced at his brother, who
observed that he got pale and agitated.
"What ails you?" said he; "is there any thing wrong wid you?"
"I'm thinkin'," replied Art, "of what I suffered wanst by it; an' besides,
it's so long since I tasted it, that somehow I jist feel for all the world
as if the oath was scarcely off of me yet, or as if I was doin' what's not
"That's mere weakness," said Frank; "but still, if you have any scruple,
don't drink it; I bekaise the truth is, Art, you couldn't have a scruple
that will do you more good than one against liquor."
"Well, I'll only take this tumbler an' another to-night; and then we'll go
to bed, plase goodness."
His agitation then passed away, and he drank a portion of the liquor.
"I'm thinkin', Art," said Frank, "that it wouldn't be aisy to find two men
that has a betther right to be thankful to God for the good fortune we've
both had, than yourself and me. The Lord has been good, to me, for I'm
thrivin' to my heart's content, and savin' money every day."
"And glory be to his holy name," said Art, looking with a strong sense of
religious feeling upward, "so am I; and if we both hould to this, we'll
die rich, plaise goodness. I have saved up very well, too; and here I sit
this night as happy a man as is in Europe. The world's flowin' on me, an'
I want for nothin'; I have good health, a clear conscience, and everything
that a man in my condition of life can stand in need of, or wish for;
glory be to God for it all!"
"Amen," said Frank; "glory be to his name for it!"
"But, Frank," said Art, "there's one thing that I often wonder at, an'
indeed so does every one a'most."
"What is that, Art?"
"Why, that you don't think o' marryin'. Sure you have good means to keep a
wife, and rear a family now; an' of coorse we all wonder that you don't."
"Indeed, to tell you the truth, Art, I don't know myself what's the raison
of it—the only wife I think of is my business; but any way, if you
was to see the patthern of married life there is undher the roof wid me,
you'd not be much in consate wid marriage yourself, if you war a
"Why," inquired the other, "don't they agree?"
"Ay do they, so well that they get sometimes into very close an' lovin'
grips togather; if ever there was a scald alive she's one o' them, an' him
that was wanst so careless and aisey-tempered, she has now made him as bad
as herself—has trained him regularly until he has a tongue that
would face a ridgment. Tut, sure divil a week that they don't flake one
another, an' half my time's, taken up reddin' them."
"Did you ever happen to get the reddin' blow? eh? ha, ha, ha!"
"No, not yet; but the truth is, Art, that an ill-tongued wife has driven
many a husband to ruin, an' only that I'm there to pay attention to the
business, he'd be a poor drunken beggarman long ago, an' all owin' to her
"Does she dhrink?"
"No, sorra drop—this wickedness all comes natural to her; she
wouldn't be aisy out of hot wather, and poor Jack's parboiled in it every
day in the year."
"Well, it's I that have got the treasure, Frank; from the day that I first
saw her face till the minute we're spakin' in, I never knew her temper to
turn—always the same sweet word, the same flow of spirits, and the
same light laugh; her love an' affection for me an' the childher there
couldn't be language found for. Come, throth we'll drink her health in
another tumbler, and a speedy uprise to her, asthore machree that she is,
an' when I think of how she set every one of her people at defiance, and
took her lot wid myself so nobly, my heart burns wid love for her, ay, I
feel my very heart burnin' widin me."
Two tumblers were again mixed, and Margaret's health was drunk.
"Here's her health," said Art, "may God grant her long life and
"Amen!" responded Frank, "an' may He grant that she'll never know a
Art laid down his tumbler, and covered his eyes with his hands for a
minute or two.
"I'm not ashamed, Frank," said he, "I'm not a bit ashamed of these tears—she
desarves them—where is her aiquil? oh, where is her aiquil? It's she
herself that has the tear for the distresses of her fellow-creatures, an'
the ready hand to relieve them; may the Almighty shower down his blessins
"Them tears do you credit," replied Frank, "and although I always thought
well of you, Art, and liked you betther than any other in the family,
although I didn't say much about it, still, I tell you, I think betther of
you this minute than I ever did in my life."
"There's only one thing in the wide world that's throublin' her," said
Art, "an' that is, that she hadn't her parents' blessin' when she married
me, nor since—for ould Murray's as stiff-necked as a mule, an' the
more he's driven to do a thing the less he'll do it."
"In that case," observed Frank, "the best plan is to let him alone; maybe
when it's not axed for he'll give it."
"I wish he would," said Art, "for Margaret's sake; it would take away a
good deal of uneasiness from her mind."
The conversation afterwards took several turns, and embraced a variety of
topics, till the second tumbler was finished.
"Now," said Art, "as there's but the two of us, and in regard of the
occasion that's in it, throth we'll jist take one more a piece."
"No," replied Frank, "I never go beyant two, and you said you wouldn't."
"Hut, man, divil a matther for that; sure there's only ourselves two, as I
said, an' Where's the harm? Throth, it's a long time since I felt myself
so comfortable, an' besides, it's not every night we have you wid us.
Come, Frank, one more in honor of the occasion."
"Another drop won't cross my lips this night," returned his brother,
firmly, "so you needn't be mixin' it."
"Sorra foot you'll go to bed to-night till you take another; there, now
it's mixed, so you know you must take it now."
"Not a drop."
"Well, for the sake of poor little Kate, that you're to stand for; come,
Frank, death alive, man!"
"Would my drinkin' it do Kate any good?"
"Hut, man alive, sure if one was to lay down the law that way upon every
thing, they might as well be out of the world at wanst; come, Frank."'
"No, Art, I said I wouldn't, and I won't break my word."
"But, sure, that's only a trifle; take the liquor; the sorra betther
tumbler of punch ever was made: it's Barney Scaddhan's whiskey."*
* Scaddhan, a herring, a humorous nickname bestowed
upon him, because he made the foundation of his fortune
by selling herrings.
"An' if Barney Scaddhan keeps good whiskey, is that any rason why I should
break my word, or would you have me get dhrunk because his liquor's
betther than another man's?"
"Well, for the sake of poor Margaret, then, an' she so fond o' you; sure
many a time she tould me that sorra brother-in-law ever she had she likes
so well, an' I know it's truth; that I may never handle a plane but it is;
dang it, Frank, don't be so stiff."
"I never was stiff, Art, but I always was, and always will be, firm, when
I know I'm in the right; as I said about the child, what good would my
drinkin' that tumbler of punch do Margaret? None in life; it would do her
no good, and it would do myself harm. Sure, we did drink her health."
"An' is that your respect for her?" said Art, in a huff, "if that's it,
"There's not a man livin' respects her more highly, or knows her worth
betther than I do," replied Frank, interrupting him, "but I simply ax you,
Art, what mark of true respect would the fact of my drinkin' that tumbler
of punch be to her? The world's full of these foolish errors, and bad ould
customs, and the sooner they're laid aside, an' proper ones put in their
place, the betther."
"Oh, very well, Frank, the sorra one o' me will ask you to take it agin; I
only say, that if I was in your house, as you are in mine, I wouldn't
break squares about a beggarly tumbler of punch."
"So much the worse, Art, I would rather you would; there, now, you have
taken your third tumbler, yet you said when we sat down that you'd confine
yourself to two; is that keepin' your word? I know you may call breakin'
it now a trifle, but I tell you, that when a man begins to break his word
in trifles, he'll soon go on to greater things, and maybe end without much
regardin' it in any thing."
"You don't mane to say, Frank, or to hint, that ever I'd come to sich a
state as that I wouldn't regard my word."
"I do not; but even if I did, by followin' up this coorse you'd put
yourself in the right way of comin' to it."
"Throth, I'll not let this other one be lost either," he added, drawing
over to him the tumbler which he had filled for his brother; "I've an
addition to my family—the child an' mother doin' bravely, an' didn't
taste a dhrop these seven long years; here's your health, at all events,
Frank, an' may the Lord put it into your heart to marry a wife, an' be as
happy as I am. Here, Madgey, come here, I say; take that whiskey an'
sugar, an' mix yourselves a jorum; it's far in the night, but no matther
for that—an' see, before you mix it, go an' bring my own darlin'
Art, till he dhrinks his mother's health."
"Why now, Art," began his brother, "is it possible that you can have the
conscience to taich the poor boy sich a cursed habit so soon? What are you
about this minute but trainin' him up to what may be his own destruction
"Come now, Frank, none of your moralizin'," the truth is, that the punch
was beginning rapidly to affect his head; "none of your moralizin', throth
it's a preacher you ought to be, or a lawyer, to lay down the law. Here,
Madgey, bring him to me; that's my son, that there isn't the like of in
Ballykeerin, any way. Eh, Frank, it's ashamed of him I ought to be, isn't
it? Kiss me, Art, and then kiss your uncle Frank, the best uncle that ever
broke the world's bread is the same Frank—that's a good boy, Art;
come now, drink your darlin' mother's health in this glass of brave punch;
my mother's health, say, long life an' happiness to her! that's a man,
toss it off at wanst, bravo; arra, Frank, didn't he do that manly? the
Lord love him, where 'ud you get sich a fine swaddy as he is of his age?
Oh, Frank, what 'ud become of me if anything happened that boy? it's a
mad-house would hould me soon. May the Lord in heaven save and guard him
from all evil and clanger!"
Frank saw that it was useless to remonstrate with him at such a moment,
for the truth is, intoxication was setting in fast, and all his influence
over him was gone.
"Here, Atty, before you go to bed agin, jist a weeshy sup more to drink
your little sisther's health; sure Kate Sharpe brought you home a little
"The boy's head will not be able to stand so much," said Frank; "you will
make him tipsy."
"Divil a tipsy; sure it's only a mere draineen."
He then made the little fellow drink the baby's health, after which he was
despatched to bed.
"Throth, it's in for a penny in for a pound wid myself. I know, Frank,
that—that there's something or other wrong wid my head, or at any
rate wid my eyes; for everything, somehow, is movin'. Is everything
"You think so," said Frank, "because you're fast getting tipsy—if
you arn't tipsy all out."
"Well, then, if I'm tip—tipsy, divil a bit the worse I can be by
another tumbler. Come, Frank, here's the ould blood of Ireland—the
Maguires of Fermanagh! And now, Frank, I tell you, it would more become
you to drink that toast, than to be sittin' there like an oracle, as you
are; for upon my sowl, you're nearly as bad. But, Frank."
"Isn't little Toal Finnigan a civil little fellow—that is—is—if
he was well made. 'There never stood,' says he, 'sich a couple in the
chapel of—of Aughindrumon, nor there never walked sich a couple up
or down the street of Ballykeerin—that's the chat,' says he: an'
whisper, Frank, ne—neither did there. Whe—where is Margaret's
aiquil, I'd—I'd like to know? an' as for me, I'll measure myself
across the shouldhers aginst e'er a—a man, woman, or child in—in
the parish. Co—come here, now, Frank, till I me—measure the
small o' my leg ag—aginst yours; or if—if that makes you
afeard, I'll measure the—the ball of my leg aginst the ball of
yours. There's a wrist, Frank; look at that? jist look at it."
"I see it; it is a powerful wrist."
"But feel it."
"Tut, Art, sure I see it."
"D—n it, man, jist feel it—feel the breadth of—of that
bone. Augh—that's the—the wrist; so anyhow, here's little Toal
Finnigan's health, an' I don't care what they say, I like little Toal, an'
I will like little Toal; bekaise—aise if—if he was the divil,
as—as they say he is, in disguise—ha, ha, ha! he has a civil
tongue in his head."
He then commenced and launched out into the most extravagant praises of
himself, his wife, his children; and from these he passed to the ould
blood of Ireland, and the Fermanagh Maguires.
"Where," he said, "whe—where is there in the country, or anywhere
else, a family that has sich blood as ours in their veins? Very well; an'
aren't we proud of it, as we have a right to be? Where's the Maguire that
would do a mane or shabby act? tha—that's what I'd like to know.
Isn't the word of a Maguire looked upon as aiquil to—to an—another
man's oath; an' where's the man of them that was—as ever known to
break it? Eh Frank? No; stead—ed—steady's the word wid the
Maguires, and honor bright."
Frank was about to remind him that he had in his own person given a proof
that night that a Maguire could break his word, and commit a disreputable
action besides; but as he saw it was useless, he judiciously declined then
making any observation whatsoever upon it.
After a good deal of entreaty, Frank succeeded in prevailing on him to go
to bed; in which, however, he failed, until Art had inflicted on him three
woful songs, each immensely long, and sung in that peculiarly fascinating
drawl, which is always produced by intoxication. At length, and when the
night was more than half spent, he assisted him to bed—a task of
very considerable difficulty, were it not that it was relieved by his
receiving from the tipsy man several admirable precepts, and an abundance
of excellent advice, touching his conduct in the world; not forgetting
religion, on which he dwelt with a maudlin solemnity of manner, that was,
or would have been to strangers, extremely ludicrous. Frank, however,
could not look upon it with levity. He understood his brother's character
and foibles too well, and feared that notwithstanding his many admirable
qualities, his vanity and want of firmness, or, in other words, of
self-dependence, might overbalance them all.
The next morning his brother Frank was obliged to leave betimes, and
consequently had no opportunity of advising or remonstrating with him. On
rising, he felt sick and feverish, and incapable of going into his
workshop. The accession made to his family being known, several of his
neighbors came in to inquire after the health of his wife and infant; and
as Art, when left to his own guidance, had never been remarkable for
keeping a secret, he made no scruple of telling them that he had got drunk
the night before, and was, of course, quite out of order that morning.
Among the rest, the first to come in was little Toal Finnigan, who, in
addition to his other virtues, possessed a hardness of head—by which
we mean a capacity for bearing drink—that no liquor, or no quantity
of liquor, could overcome.
"Well," said Toal, "sure it's very reasonable that you should be out of
ordher; after bein' seven years from it, it doesn't come so natural to you
as it would do. Howandiver, you know that there's but the one cure for it—a
hair of the same dog that bit you; and if you're afeared to take the same
hair by yourself, why I'll take a tuft of it wid you, an' we'll dhrink the
wife's health—my ould sweetheart—and the little sthranger's."
"Throth I believe you're right," said Art, "in regard to the cure; so in
the name of goodness we'll have a gauliogue to begin the day wid, an' set
the hair straight on us."
During that day, Art was neither drunk nor sober, but halfway between the
two states. He went to his workshop about two o'clock; but his journeymen
and apprentices could smell the strong whiskey off him, and perceive an
occasional thickness of pronunciation in his speech, which a good deal
surprised them. When evening came, however, his neighbors, whom he had
asked in, did not neglect to attend; the bottle was again produced, and
poor Art, the principle of restraint having now been removed, re-enacted
much the same scene as on the preceding night, with this exception only,
that he was now encouraged instead of being checked or reproved.
There were now only three days to elapse until the following Sabbath, on
which day the child was to be baptized; one of them, that is, the one
following his first intoxication with Frank, was lost to him, for, as we
have said, though not precisely drunk, he was not in a condition to work,
nor properly to give directions. The next he felt himself in much the same
state, but with still less of regret.
"The truth is," said he, "I won't be rightly able to do any thing till
afther this christenin', so that I may set down the remaindher o' the week
as lost; well, sure that won't break me at any rate. It's long since I
lost a week before, and we must only make up for it; afther the
christenin' I'll work double tides."
This was all very plausible reasoning, but very fallacious
notwithstanding; indeed, it is this description of logic which conceals
the full extent of a man's errors from, himself, and which has sent
thousands forward on their career to ruin. Had Art, for instance, been
guided by his steady and excellent brother, or, what would have been
better still, by his own good sense and firmness, he would have got up the
next morning in health, with an easy mind, and a clear conscience, and
been able to resume his work as usual. Instead of that, the night's
debauch produced its natural consequences, feverishness and indisposition,
which, by the aid of a bad proverb, and worse company, were removed by the
very cause which produced them. The second night's debauch lost the
following day, and then, forsooth, the week was nearly gone, and it wasn't
worth while to change the system, as if it was ever too soon to mend, or
as if even a single day's work were not a matter of importance to a
mechanic. Let any man who feels himself reasoning as Art Maguire did, rest
assured that there is an evil principle within him, which, unless he
strangle it by prompt firmness, and a strong conviction of moral duty,
will ultimately be his destruction.
There was once a lake, surrounded by very beautiful scenery, to which its
waters gave a fine and picturesque effect. This lake was situated on an
elevated part of the country, and a little below it, facing the west, was
a precipice, which terminated a lovely valley, that gradually expanded
until it was lost in the rich campaign country below. From this lake there
was no outlet of water whatsoever, but its shores at the same time were
rich and green, having been all along devoted to pasture. Now, it so
happened that a boy, whose daily occupation was to tend his master's
sheep, went one day when the winds were strong, to the edge of the lake,
on the side to which they blew, and began to amuse himself by making a
small channel in the soft earth with his naked foot. This small identation
was gradually made larger and larger by the waters—whenever the wind
blew strongly in that direction—until, in the course of time, it
changed into a deep chasm, which wore away the earth that intervened
between the lake and the precipice. The result may be easily guessed. When
the last portion of the earth gave way, the waters of the lake
precipitated themselves upon the beautiful and peaceful glen, carrying
death and destruction in their course, and leaving nothing but a dark
unsightly morass behind them. So is it with the mind of man. When he gives
the first slight assent to a wrong tendency, or a vicious resolution, he
resembles the shepherd's boy, who, unconscious of the consequences that
followed, made the first small channel in the earth with his naked foot.
The vice or the passion will enlarge itself by degrees until all power of
resistance is removed; and the heart becomes a victim to the impetuosity
of an evil principle to which no assent of the will ever should have been
Art, as we have said, lost the week, and then came Sunday for the
christening. On that day, of course, an extra cup was but natural,
especially as it would put an end to his indulgence on the one hand, and
his idleness on the other. Monday morning would enable him to open a new
leaf, and as it was the last day—that is, Sunday was—why, dang
it, he would take a good honest jorum. Frank, who had a greater regard for
Art's character than it appeared Art himself had, Spoke to him privately
on the morning of the christening, as to the necessity and decency of
keeping himself sober on that day; but, alas! during this friendly
admonition he could perceive, that early as it was, his brother was not
exactly in a state of perfect sobriety. His remonstrances were very
unpalatable to Art, and as a consciousness of his conduct, added to the
nervousness produced by drink, had both combined to produce irritability
of temper, he addressed himself more harshly to his brother than he had
ever done in his life before. Frank, for the sake of peace, gave up the
task, although he saw clearly enough that the christening was likely to
terminate, at least so far as Art was concerned, in nothing less than a
drunken debauch. This, indeed, was true. Little Toal, who drank more
liquor than any two among them, and Frank himself, were the only sober
persons present, all the rest having successfully imitated the example set
them by Art, who was carried to bed at an early hour in the evening. This
was but an indifferent preparation for his resolution to commence work on
Monday morning, as the event proved. When the morning came, he was
incapable of work; a racking pain in the head, and sickness of stomach,
were the comfortable assurances of his inability. Here was another day
lost; but finding that it also was irretrievably gone, he thought it would
be no great harm to try the old cure—a hair of the dog—as
before, and it did not take much force of reasoning to persuade himself to
that course. In this manner he went on, losing day after day, until
another week was lost. At length he found himself in his workshop,
considerably wrecked and debilitated, striving with tremulous and unsteady
hands to compensate for his lost time; it was now, however, too late—the
evil habit had been contracted—the citadel had been taken—the
waters had been poisoned at their source—the small track with the
naked foot had been made. From this time forward he did little but make
resolutions to-day, which he broke tomorrow; in the course of some time he
began to drink with his own workmen, and even admitted his apprentices to
their potations. Toal Finnigan, and about six or eight dissolute and
drunken fellows, inhabitants of Ballykeerin, were his constant companions,
and never had they a drinking bout that he was not sent for: sometimes
they would meet in his own workshop, which was turned into a tap-room, and
there drink the better part of the day. Of course the workmen could not be
forgotten in their potations, and, as a natural consequence, all work was
suspended, business at a stand, time lost, and morals corrupted.
His companions now availed themselves of his foibles, winch they drew out
into more distinct relief. Joined to an overweening desire to hear himself
praised, was another weakness, which proved to be very beneficial to his
companions; this was a swaggering and consequential determination, when
tipsy, to pay the whole reckoning, and to treat every one he knew.
He was a Maguire—he was a gentleman—had the old blood in his
veins, and that he might never handle a plane, if any man present should
pay a shilling, so long as he was to the fore. This was an argument in
which he always had the best of it; his companions taking care, even if he
happened to forget it, that some chance word or hint should bring it to
"Here, Barney Scaddhan—Barney, I say, what's the reckonin', you
sinner? Now, Art Maguire, divil a penny of this you'll pay for—you're
too ginerous, an' have the heart of a prince."
"And kind family for him to have the heart of a prince, sure we all know
what the Fermanagh Maguires wor; of coorse we won't let him pay."
"Toal Finnigan, do you want me to rise my hand to you? I tell you that a
single man here won't pay a penny o' reckonin', while I'm to the good;
and, to make short work of it, by the contints o' the book, I'll strike
the first of ye that'll attempt it. Now!"
"Faix, an' I for one," said Toal, "won't come undher your fist; it's
little whiskey ever I'd drink if I did."
"Well, well," the others would exclaim, "that ends it; howendiver, never
mind, Art, I'll engage we'll have our revenge on you for that—the
next meetin' you won't carry it all your own way; we'll be as stiff as
you'll be stout, my boy, although you beat us out of it now."
"Augh," another would say, in a whisper especially designed for him, "by
the livin' farmer there never was one, even of the Maguires, like him, an'
that's no lie."
Art would then pay the reckoning with the air of a nobleman, or, if he
happened to be without money, he would order it to be scored to him, for
as yet his credit was good.
It is wonderful to reflect how vanity blinds common sense, and turns all
the power of reason and judgment to nothing. Art was so thoroughly
infatuated by his own vanity, that he was utterly incapable of seeing
through the gross and selfish flattery with which they plied him. Nay,
when praising him, or when sticking him in for drink, as it is termed,
they have often laughed in his very face, so conscious were they that it
could be done with impunity.
This course of life could not fail to produce suitable consequences to his
health, his reputation, and his business. His customers began to find now
that the man whose word had never been doubted, and whose punctuality was
proverbial, became so careless and negligent in attending to his orders,
that it was quite useless to rely upon his promises, and, as a very
natural consequence, they began to drop off one after another, until he
found to his cost that a great number of his best and most respectable
supporters ceased to employ him.
When his workmen, too, saw that he had got into tippling and irregular
habits, and that his eye was not, as in the days of his industry, over
them, they naturally became careless and negligent, as did the apprentices
also. Nor was this all; the very individuals who had been formerly
remarkable for steadiness, industry, and sobriety—for Art would then
keep no other—were now, many of them, corrupted by his own example,
and addicted to idleness and drink. This placed him in a very difficult
position; for how, we ask, could he remonstrate with them so long as he
himself transgressed more flagrantly than they did? For this reason he was
often forced to connive at outbreaks of drunkenness and gross cases of
neglect, which no sober man would suffer in those whom he employed.
"Take care of your business, and your business will take care of you," is
a good and a wholesome proverb, that cannot bo too strongly impressed on
the minds of the working classes. Art began to feel surprised that his
business was declining, but as yet his good sense was strong enough to
point out to him the cause of it. His mind now became disturbed, for while
he felt conscious that his own neglect and habits of dissipation
occasioned it, he also felt that he was but a child in the strong grasp of
his own propensities. This was anything but a consoling reflection, and so
long as it lasted he was gloomy, morbid, and peevish; his excellent wife
was the first to remark this, and, indeed, was the first that had occasion
to remark it, for even in this stage of his life, the man who had never
spoken to her, or turned his eye upon her, but with tenderness and
affection, now began, especially when influenced by drink, to give
manifestations of temper that grieved her to the heart. Abroad, however,
he was the same good-humored fellow as ever, with a few rare exceptions—when
he got quarrelsome and fought with his companions. His workmen all were
perfectly aware of his accessibility to flattery, and some of them were
not slow to avail themselves of it: these were the idle and unscrupulous,
who, as they resembled himself, left nothing unsaid or undone to maintain
his good opinion, and they succeeded. His business now declined so much,
that he was obliged to dismiss some of them, and, as if he had been fated
to ruin, the honest and independent, who scorned to flatter his
weaknesses, were the very persons put out of his employment, because their
conduct was a silent censure upon his habits, and the men he retained were
those whom he himself had made drunken and profligate by his example; so
true is it that a drunkard is his own enemy in a thousand ways.
Here, then, is our old friend Art falling fast away from the proverbial
integrity of his family—his circumstances are rapidly declining—his
business running to a point—his reputation sullied, and his temper
becoming sharp and vehement; these are strong indications of
mismanagement, neglect, and folly, or, in one word, of a propensity to
About a year and a half has now elapsed, and Art, in spite of several most
determined resolutions to reform, is getting still worse in every respect.
It is not to be supposed, however, that during this period he has not had
visitations of strong feeling—of repentance—remorse—or
that love of drink had so easy a victory over him as one would imagine. No
such thing. These internal struggles sometimes affected him even unto
agony, and he has frequently wept bitter tears on finding himself the
victim of this terrible habit. He had not, however, the courage to look
into his own condition with a firm eye, or to examine the state of either
his heart or his circumstances with the resolution of a man who knows that
he must suffer pain by the inspection. Art could not bear the pain of such
an examination, and, in order to avoid feeling it, he had recourse to the
oblivion of drink; not reflecting that the adoption of every such remedy
for care resembles the wisdom of the man, who, when raging under the
tortures of thirst, attempted to allay them by drinking sea-water. Drink
relieved him for a moment, but he soon found that in his case the remedy
was only another name for the disease.
It is not necessary to assure our readers that during Art's unhappy
progress hitherto, his admirable brother Frank felt wrung to the heart by
his conduct. All that good advice, urged with good feeling and good sense,
could do, was tried on him, but to no purpose; he ultimately lost his
temper on being reasoned with, and flew into a passion with Frank, whom he
abused for interfering, as he called it, in business which did not belong
to him. Notwithstanding this bluster, however, there was no man whom he
feared so much; in fact, he dreaded his very appearance, and would go any
distance out of his way rather than come in contact with him. He felt
Frank's moral ascendency too keenly, and was too bitterly sensible of the
neglect with which he had treated his affectionate and friendly
admonitions, to meet him with composure. Indeed, we must say, that,
independently of his brother Frank, he was not left to his own impulses,
without many a friendly and sincere advice. The man had been so highly
respected—his name was so stainless—his conduct so good, so
blameless; he stood forth such an admirable pattern of industry,
punctuality, and sobriety, that his departure from all these virtues
occasioned general regret and sorrow. Every friend hoped that he would pay
attention to his advice, and every friend tried it, but, unfortunately,
every friend failed. Art, now beyond the reach of reproof, acted as every
man like him acts; he avoided those who, because they felt an interest in
his welfare, took the friendly liberty of attempting to rescue him, and
consequently associated only with those who drank with him, flattered him,
skulked upon him, and laughed at him.
One friend, however, he had, who, above all others, first in place and in
importance, we cannot overlook—that friend was his admirable and
affectionate wife. Oh, in what language can we adequately describe her
natural and simple eloquence, her sweetness of disposition, her
tenderness, her delicacy of reproof, and her earnest struggles to win back
her husband from the habits which were destroying him! And in the
beginning she was often successful for a time, and many a tear of
transient repentance has she occasioned him to shed, when she succeeded in
touching his heart, and stirring his affection for her and for their
In circumstances similar to Art's, however, we first feel our own errors,
we then feel grateful to those who have the honesty to reprove us for
them: by and by, on finding that we are advancing on the wrong path, we
begin to disrelish the advice, as being only an unnecessary infliction of
pain; having got so far as to disrelish the advice, we soon begin to
disrelish the adviser; and ultimately, we become so thoroughly wedded to
our own selfish vices, as to hate every one who would take us out of their
When Art found that the world, as he said, was going against him, instead
of rallying, as he might, and ought to have done, he began to abuse the
world, and attribute to it all the misfortunes which he himself, and not
the world, had occasioned him. The world, in fact, is nothing to any man
but the reflex of himself; if you treat yourself well, and put yourself
out of the power of the world, the world will treat you well, and respect
you; but if you neglect yourself, do not at all be surprised that the
world and your friends will neglect you also. So far the world acts with
great justice and propriety, and takes its cue from your own conduct; you
cannot, therefore, blame the world without first blaming yourself.
Two years had now elapsed, and Art's business was nearly gone; he had been
obliged to discharge the drunken fellows we spoke of, but not until they
had assisted in a great measure to complete his ruin. Two years of
dissipation, neglect of business, and drunkenness, were quite sufficient
to make Art feel that it is a much easier thing to fall into poverty and
contempt, than to work a poor man's way, from early struggle and the tug
of life, to ease and independence.
His establishment was now all but closed; the two apprentices had scarcely
anything to do, and, indeed, generally amused themselves in the workshop
by playing Spoil Five—a fact which was discovered by Art himself,
who came on them unexpectedly one day when tipsy; but, as he happened to
be in an extremely good humor, he sat down and took a hand along with
them. This was a new element of enjoyment to him, and instead of reproving
them for their dishonest conduct, he suffered himself to be drawn into the
habit of gambling, and so strongly did this grow upon him, that from
henceforth he refused to participate in any drinking bout unless the
parties were to play for the liquor. For this he had now neither temper
nor coolness; while drinking upon the ordinary plan with his companions,
he almost uniformly paid the reckoning from sheer vanity; or, in other
words, because they managed him; but now that it depended upon what he
considered to be skill, nothing ever put him so completely out of temper
as to be put in for it. This low gambling became a passion with him; but
it was a passion that proved to be the fruitful cause of fights and
quarrels without end. Being seldom either cool or sober, he was a mere
dupe in the hands of his companions; but whether by fair play or foul, the
moment he perceived that the game had gone against him, that moment he
generally charged his opponents with dishonesty and fraud, and then
commenced a fight. Many a time has he gone home, beaten and bruised, and
black, and cut, and every way disfigured in these vile and blackguard
contests; but so inveterately had this passion for card-playing—that
is, gambling for liquor—worked itself upon him, that he could not
suffer a single day to pass without indulging in it. Defeat of any kind
was a thing he could never think of; but for a Maguire—one of the
great Fermanagh Maguires—to be beaten at a rascally game of Spoil
Five, was not to be endured; the matter was impossible, unless by foul
play, and as there was only one method of treating those who could stoop
to the practice of foul play, why he seldom lost any time in adopting it.
This was to apply the fist, and as he had generally three or four against
him, and as, in most instances, he was in a state of intoxication, it
usually happened that he received most punishment.
Up to this moment we have not presented Art to our readers in any other
light than that of an ordinary drunkard, seen tipsy and staggering in the
streets, or singing as he frequently was, or fighting, or playing cards in
the public-houses. Heretofore he was not before the world, and in
everybody's eye; but he had now become so common a sight in the town of
Ballykeerin, that his drunkenness was no longer a matter of surprise to
its inhabitants. At the present stage of his life he could not bear to see
his brother Frank; and his own Margaret, although unchanged and. loving as
ever, was no longer to him the Margaret that she had been. He felt how
much he had despised her advice, neglected her comfort, and forgotten the
duties which both God and nature had imposed upon him, with respect to her
and their children. These feelings coming upon him during short intervals
of reflection, almost drove him mad, and he has often come home to her and
them in a frightful and terrible consciousness that he had committed some
great crime, and that she and their children were involved in its
"Margaret," he would say, "Margaret, what is it I've done aginst you and
the childre? I have done some great crime aginst you all, for surely if I
didn't, you wouldn't look as you do—Margaret, asthore, where is the
color that was in your cheeks? and my own Art here—that always
pacifies me when nobody else can—even Art doesn't look what he used
"Well, sure he will, Art, dear," she would reply; "now will you let me
help you to bed? it's late; it's near three o'clock; Oh Art, dear, if you
"I won't go to bed—I'll stop here where I am, wid my head on the
table, till mornin'. Now do you know—come here, Margaret—let
me hear you—do you know, and are you sensible of the man you're
"To be sure I am."
"No, I tell you; I say you are not. There is but one person in the house
that knows that."
"You're right, Art darlin'—you're right. Come here, Atty; go to your
father; you know what to say, avick."
"Well, Art," he would continue, "do you know who your father is?"
"Ay do I; he's one of the great Fermanagh Maguires—the greatest
family in the kingdom. Isn't that it?"
"That's it, Atty darlin'—come an' kiss me for that; yes, I'm one of
the great Fermanagh Maguires. Isn't that a glorious thin', Atty?"
"Now, Art, darlin', will you let me help you to bed—think of the
hour it is."
"I won't go, I tell you. I'll sit here wid my head on the table all night.
Come here, Atty. Atty, it's wondherful how I love you—above all
creatures livin' do I love you. Sure I never refuse to do any thing for
you, Atty; do I now?"
"Well, then, will you come to bed for me?"
"To be sure I will, at wanst;" and the unhappy man instantly rose and
staggered into his bedroom, aided and supported by his wife and child; for
the latter lent whatever little assistance he could give to his drunken
father, whom he tenderly loved.
His shop, however, is now closed, the apprentices are gone, and the last
miserable source of their support no longer exists. Poverty now sets in,
and want and destitution. He parts with his tools; but not for the purpose
of meeting the demands of his wife and children at home; no; but for drink—drink—drink—drink.
He is now in such a state that he cannot, dares not, reflect, and
consequently, drink is more necessary to him than ever. His mind, however,
is likely soon to be free from the pain of thinking; for it is becoming
gradually debauched and brutified—is sinking, in fact, to the lowest
and most pitiable state of degradation. It was then, indeed, that he felt
how the world deals with a man who leaves himself depending on it.
His friends had now all abandoned him; decent people avoided him—he
had fallen long ago below pity, and was now an object of contempt. His
family at home were destitute; every day brought hunger—positive,
absolute want of food wherewith to support nature. His clothes were
reduced to tatters; so were those of his wife and children. His frame,
once so strong and athletic, was now wasted away to half its wonted size;
his hands were thin, tremulous, and flesh-less; his face pale and
emaciated; and his eye dead and stupid. He was now nearly alone in the
world. Low and profligate as were his drunken companions, yet even they
shunned him; and so contemptuously did they treat him, now that he was no
longer able to pay his way, or enable the scoundrels to swill at his
expense, that whenever he happened to enter Barney Scaddhan's tap, while
they were in it, they immediately expelled him without ceremony, or Barney
did it for them. He now hated home; there was nothing there for him, but
cold, naked, shivering destitution. The furniture had gone by degrees for
liquor; tables, chairs, kitchen utensils, bed and bedding, with the
exception of a miserable blanket for Margaret and the child, had all been
disposed of for about one-tenth part of their value. Alas, what a change
is this from comfort, industry, independence, and respectability, to
famine, wretchedness, and the utmost degradation! Even Margaret, whose
noble heart beat so often in sympathy with the distresses of the poor, has
scarcely any one now who will feel sympathy with her own. Not that she was
utterly abandoned by all. Many a time have the neighbors, in a stealthy
way, brought a little relief in the shape of food, to her and her
children. Sorry are we to say, however, that there were in the town of
Ballykeerin, persons whom she had herself formerly relieved, and with whom
the world went well since, who now shut their eyes against her misery, and
refused to assist her. Her lot, indeed, was now a bitter one, and required
all her patience, all her fortitude to enable her to bear up under it. Her
husband was sunk down to a pitiable pitch, his mind consisting, as it
were, only of two elements, stupidity and ill-temper. Up until the
disposal of all the furniture, he had never raised his hand to her, or
gone beyond verbal abuse; now, however, his temper became violent and
brutal. All sense of shame—every pretext for decency—all
notions of self-respect, were gone, and nothing was left to sustain or
check him. He could not look in upon himself and find one spark of decent
pride, or a single principle left that contained the germ of his
redemption. He now gave himself over as utterly lost, and consequently
felt no scruple to stoop to any act, no matter how mean or contemptible.
In the midst of all this degradation, however, there was one recollection
which he never gave up; but alas, to what different and shameless purposes
did he now prostitute it! That which had been in his better days a
principle of just pride, a spur to industry, an impulse to honor, and a
safeguard to integrity, had now become the catchword of a mendicant—the
cant or slang, as it were, of an impostor. He was not ashamed to beg in
its name—to ask for whiskey in its name—and to sink, in its
name, to the most sordid supplications.
"Will you stand the price of a glass? I'm Art Maguire; one of the great
Maguires of Fermanagh! Think of the blood of the Maguires, and stand a
glass. Barney Scaddhan won't trust me now; although many a pound and penny
of good money I left him."
"Ay," the person accosted would reply, "an' so sign's on you; you would be
a different man to-day, had you visited Barney Scaddhan's seldomer, or
kept out of it altogether."
"It's not a sarmon I want; will you stand the price of a glass?"
"Not a drop."
"Go to blazes, then, if you won't. I'm a betther man than ever you wor,
an' have betther blood in my veins. The great Fermanagh Maguires forever!"
But, hold—we must do the unfortunate man justice. Amidst all this
degradation, and crime, and wretchedness, there yet shone undimmed one
solitary virtue. This was an abstract but powerful affection for his
children, especially for his eldest son; now a fine boy about eight or
nine. In his worst and most outrageous moods—when all other
influence failed—when the voice of his own Margaret, whom he once
loved—oh how well! fell heedless upon his ears—when neither
Frank, nor friend, nor neighbor could manage nor soothe him—let but
the finger of his boy touch him, or a tone of his voice fall upon his ear,
and he placed himself in his hands, and did whatever the child wished him.
One evening about this time, Margaret was sitting upon a small hassock of
straw, that had been made for little Art, when he began to walk. It was
winter, and there was no fire; a neighbor, however, had out of charity
lent her a few dipped rushes, that they might not be in utter darkness.
One of these was stuck against the wall, for they had no candlestick; and
oh, what a pitiable and melancholy spectacle did its dim and feeble light
present! There she sat, the young, virtuous, charitable, and lovely
Margaret of the early portion of our narrative, surrounded by her almost
naked children—herself with such thin and scanty covering as would
wring any heart but to know it. Where now was her beauty? Where her mirth,
cheerfulness, and all her lightness of heart? Where? Let her ask that
husband who once loved her so well, but who loved his own vile excesses
and headlong propensities better. There, however, she sat, with a tattered
cap on, through the rents of which her raven hair, once so beautiful and
glossy, came out in matted elf-locks, and hung down about her thin and
wasted neck. Her face was pale and ghastly as death; her eyes were without
fire—full of languor—full of sorrow; and alas, beneath one of
them, was too visible, by its discoloration, the foul mark of her
husband's brutality. To this had their love, their tenderness, their
affection come; and by what? Alas! by the curse of liquor—the demon
of drunkenness—and want of manly resolution. She sat, as we have
said, upon the little hassock, while shivering on her bosom was a
sickly-looking child, about a year old, to whom she was vainly endeavoring
to communicate some of her own natural warmth. The others, three in
number, were grouped together for the same reason; for poor little Atty—who,
though so very young, was his mother's only support, and hope, and
consolation—sat with an arm about each, in order, as well as he
could, to keep off the cold—the night being stormy and bitter.
Margaret sat rocking herself to and fro, as those do who indulge in
sorrow, and crooning for her infant the sweet old air of "Tha ma
cullha's na dhuska me," or "I am asleep and don't waken me!"—a
tender but melancholy air, which had something peculiarly touching in it
on the occasion in question.
"Ah," she said, "I am asleep and don't waken me; if it wasn't for your
sakes, darlins, it's I that long to be in that sleep that we will never
waken from; but sure, lost in misery as we are, what could yez do without
"What do you mane, mammy?" said Atty; "sure doesn't everybody that goes to
sleep waken out of it?"
"No, darlin'; there's a sleep that nobody wakens from."
"Dat quare sleep, mammy," said a little one. "Oh, but me's could, mammy;
will we eva have blankets?"
The question, though simple, opened up the cheerless, the terrible future
to her view. She closed her eyes, put her hands on them, as if she strove
to shut it out, and shivered as much at the apprehension of what was
before her, as with the chilly blasts that swept through the windowless
"I hope so, dear," she replied; "for God is good."
"And will he get us blankets, mammy?".
"Yes, darlin', I hope so."
"Me id rady he'd get us sometin' to ait fust, mammy; I'm starvin' wid
hungry;" and the poor child began to cry for food.
The disconsolate mother was now assailed by the clamorous outcries of
nature's first want, that of food. She surveyed her beloved little brood
in the feeble light, and saw in all its horror the fearful impress of
famine stamped upon their emaciated features, and strangely lighting up
their little heavy eyes. She wrung her hands, and looking up silently to
heaven, wept aloud for some minutes.
"Childre," she said at length, "have patience, poor things, an' you'll
soon get something to eat. I sent over Nanny Hart to my sisther's, an'
when she comes back yell get something;—so have patience, darlins,
"But, mother," continued little Atty, who could not understand her
allusion to the sleep from which there is no awakening; "what kind of
sleep is it that people never waken from?"
"The sleep that's in the grave, Atty, dear; death is the sleep I mean."
"An' would you wish to die, mother?"
"Only for your sake, Atty, and for the sake of the other darlins, if it
was the will of God, I would; and," she added, with a feeling of
indescribable anguish, "what have I now to live for but to see you all
about me in misery and sorrow!"
The tears as she spoke ran silently, but bitterly, down her cheeks.
"When I think of what your poor lost father was," she added, "when we wor
happy, and when he was good, and when I think of what he is now—oh,
my God, my God," she sobbed' out, "my manly young husband, what curse has
come over you that has brought you down to this! Curse! oh, fareer gair,
it's a curse that's too well known in the country—it's the curse
that laves many an industrious man's house as ours is this bitther night—it's
the curse that takes away good name and comfort, and honesty (that's the
only thing it has left us)—that takes away the strength of both body
and mind—that banishes dacency and shame—that laves many a
widow and orphan to the marcy of an unfeelin' world—that fills the
jail and the madhouse—that brings many a man an' woman to a
disgraceful death—an' that tempts us to the commission of every
evil;—that curse, darlins, is whiskey—drinkin' whiskey—an'
it is drinkin' whiskey that has left us as we are, and that has ruined
your father, and destroyed him forever."
"Well, but there's no other curse over us, mother?"
The mother paused a moment—
"No, darlin'," she replied; "not a curse—but my father and mother
both died, and did not give me their blessin'; but now, Atty, don't ask me
anything more about that, bekase I can't tell you." This she added from a
feeling of delicacy to her unhappy husband, whom, through all his faults
and vices, she constantly held up to her children as an object of respect,
affection, and obedience.
Again the little ones were getting importunate for food, and their cries
were enough to touch any heart, much less that of a tender and loving
mother. Margaret herself felt that some unusual delay must have occurred,
or the messenger she sent to her sister must have long since returned;
just then a foot was heard outside the door, and there was an impatient
cessation of the cries, in the hope that it was the return of Nanny Hart—the
door opened, and Toal Finnigan entered this wretched abode of sorrow and
There was something peculiarly hateful about this man, but in the eyes of
Margaret there was something intensely so. She knew right well that he had
been the worst and most demoralizing companion her husband ever associated
with, and she had, besides, every reason to believe that, were it not for
his evil influence over the vain and wretched man, he might have overcome
his fatal propensity to tipple. She had often told Art this; but little
Toal's tongue was too sweet, when aided by his dupe's vanity. Many a time
had she observed a devilish leer of satanic triumph in the misshapen
little scoundrel's eye, when bringing home her husband in a state of
beastly intoxication, and for this reason, independently of her knowledge
of his vile and heartless disposition, and infamous character, she
detested him. After entering, he looked about him, and even with the taint
light of the rush she could mark that his unnatural and revolting features
were lit up with a hellish triumph.
"Well, Margaret Murray," said he, "I believe you are now nearly as badly
off as you can be; your husband's past hope, and you are as low as a human
bein' ever was. I'm now satisfied; you refused to marry me—you made
a May-game of me—a laughin' stock of me, and your father tould my
father that I had legs like reapin' hooks! Now, from the day you refused
to marry me, I swore I'd never die till I'd have my revinge, and I have
it; who has the laugh now, Margaret Murray?"
"You say," she replied calmly, "that I am as low as a human bein' can be,
but that's false, Toal Finnigan, for I thank God I have committed no
crime, and my name is pure and good, which is more than any one can say
for you; begone from my place."
"I will," he replied, "but before I go jist let me tell you, that I have
the satisfaction to know that, if I'm not much mistaken, it was I that was
the principal means of leavin' you as you are, and your respectable
husband as he is; so my blessin' be wid you, an that's more than your
father left you. Raipin' hooks, indeed!"
The little vile Brownie then disappeared.
Margaret, the moment he was gone, immediately turned round, and going to
her knees, leaned, with her half-cold infant still in her arms, against a
creaking chair, and prayed with as much earnestness as a distracted heart
permitted her. The little ones, at her desire, also knelt, and in a few
minutes afterwards, when her drunken husband came home, he found his
miserable family, grouped as they were in their misery, worshipping God in
their own simple and touching manner. His entrance disturbed them, for
Margaret knew she must go through the usual ordeal to which his nightly
return was certain to expose her.
"I want something to ait," said he.
"Art, dear," she replied—and this was the worst word she ever
uttered against him—"Art, dear, I have nothing for you till by an'
by; but I will then."
"Have you any money?"
"Money, Art! oh, where would I get it? If I had money I wouldn't be
without something' for you to eat, or the childre here that tasted nothin'
since airly this mornin'."
"Ah, you're a cursed useless wife," he replied, "you brought nothin' but
bad luck to me an' them; but how could you bring anything else, when you
didn't get your father's blessin'."
"But, Art, don't you remember," she said meekly in reply, "you surely
can't forget for whose sake I lost it."
"Well, he's fizzin' now, the hard-hearted ould scoundrel, for keepin' it
from you; he forgot who you wor married to, the extortin' ould vagabone—to
one of the great Fermanagh Maguires, an' he' not fit to wipe their shoes.
The curse o' heaven upon you an' him, wherever he is! It was an unlucky
day to me I ever seen the face of one of you—here, Atty, I've some
money; some strange fellow at the inn below stood to me for the price of a
naggin, an' that blasted Barney Scaddhan wouldn't let me in, bekase, he
said, I was a disgrace to his house, the scoundrel."
"The same house was a black sight to you, Art."
"Here, Atty, go off and, get me a naggin."
"Wouldn't it be better for you to get something to eat, than to drink it,
"None of your prate, I say, go off an' bring me a naggin o' whiskey, an'
don't let the grass grow under your feet."
The children, whenever he came home, were awed into silence, but although
they durst not speak, there was an impatient voracity visible in their
poor features, and now wolfish little eyes, that was a terrible thing to
witness. Art took the money, and went away to bring his father the
"What's the reason," said he, kindling into sudden fury, "that you didn't
provide something for me to eat? Eh? What's the reason?" and he approached
her in a menacing attitude. "You're a lazy, worthless vagabone. Why didn't
you get me something to ait, I say? I can't stand this—I'm
"I sent to my sister's," she replied, laying-down the child; for she
feared that if he struck her and knocked her down, with the child in her
arms, it might be injured, probably killed, by the fall; "when the
messenger comes back from my sister's——"
"D—n yourself and your sister," he replied, striking her a blow at
the same time upon the temple. She fell, and in an instant her face was
deluged with blood.
"Ay, lie there," he continued, "the loss of the blood will cool you. Hould
your tongues, you devils, or I'll throw yez out of the house," he
exclaimed to the children, who burst into an uproar of grief on seeing
their "mammy," as they called her, lying bleeding and insensible. "That's
to taich her not to have something for me to ait. Ay," he proceeded, with
a hideous laugh—"ha, ha, ha! I'm a fine fellow—amn't I? There
she lies now, and yet she was wanst Margaret Murray!—my own Margaret—that
left them all for myself; but sure if she did, wasn't I one of the great
Maguires of Fermanagh?—Get up, Margaret; here, I'll help you up, if
the divil was in you!"
He raised her as he spoke, and perceived that consciousness was returning.
The first thing she did was to put up her hand to her temple, where she
felt the warm blood. She gave him one look of profound sorrow.
"Oh, Art dear," she exclaimed, "Art dear—" her voice failed her, but
the tears flowed in torrents down her cheeks.
"Margaret," said he, "you needn't spake to me that way. You know any how
I'm damned—damned—lol de rol lol—tol de rol lol! ha, ha,
ha! I have no hope either here or hereafther—divil a morsel of hope.
Isn't that comfortable? eh?—ha, ha, ha"—another hideous laugh.
"Well, no matter; we'll dhrink it out, at all events. Where's Atty, wid
the whiskey? Oh, here he is! That's a good boy, Atty."
"Oh, mammy darlin'," exclaimed the child, on seeing the blood streaming
from her temple—"mammy darlin', what happened you?"
"I fell, Atty dear," she replied, "and was cut."
"That's a lie, Atty; it was I, your fine chip of a father, that struck
her. Here's her health, at all events! I'll make one dhrink of it; hoch!
they may talk as they like, but I'll stick to Captain Whiskey."
"Father," said the child, "will you come over and lie down upon the straw,
for your own me, for your own Atty; and then you'll fall into a sound
"I will, Atty, for you—for you—I will, Atty; but mind, I
wouldn't do it for e'er another livin'."
One day wid Captain Whiskey I wrastled a fall, But, t'aix, I was no match
for the Captain at all, Though the landlady's measures they wor damnably
small—But I'll thry him to morrow when I'm sober.
"Come," said the child, "lie down here on the straw; my poor mammy says
we'll get clane straw to-morrow; and we'll be grand then."
His father, who was now getting nearly helpless, went over and threw
himself upon some straw—thin and scanty and cold it was—or
rather, in stooping to throw himself on it he fell with what they call in
the country a soss; that is, he fell down in a state of utter
helplessness; his joints feeble and weak, and all his strength utterly
prostrated. Margaret, who in the meantime was striving to stop the
effusion of blood from her temple, by the application of cobwebs, of which
there was no scarcity in the house, now went over, and loosening his
cravat, she got together some old rags, of which she formed, as well as
she could, a pillow to support his head, in order to avoid the danger of
his being suffocated.
"Poor Art," she exclaimed, "if you knew what you did, you would cut that
hand off you sooner than raise it to your own Margaret, as you used to
call me. It is pity that I feel for you, Art dear, but no anger; an' God,
who sees my heart, knows that."
Now that he was settled, and her own temple bound up, the children once
more commenced their cry of famine; for nothing can suspend the stern
cravings of hunger, especially when fanged by the bitter consciousness
that there is no food to be had. Just then, however, the girl returned
from her sister's, loaded with oatmeal—a circumstance which changed
the cry of famine into one of joy.
But now, what was to be done for fire, there was none in the house.
"Here is half-a-crown," said the girl, "that she sent you; but she put her
hands acrass, and swore by the five crasses, that unless you left Art at
wanst, they'd never give you a rap farden's worth of assistance agin, if
you and they wor to die in the streets."
"Leave him!" said Margaret; "oh never! When I took him, I took him for
betther an' for worse, and I'm not goin' to neglect my duty to him now,
because he's down. All the world has desarted him, but I'll never desart
him. Whatever may happen, Art dear—poor, lost Art—whatever may
happen, I'll live with you, beg with you, die with you; anything but
She then, after wiping the tears which accompanied her words, sent out the
girl, who bought some turf and milk, in order to provide a meal of
wholesome food for the craving children.
"Now," said she to the girl, "what is to be done? for if poor Art sees
this meal in the morning, he will sell the best part of it to get whiskey;
for I need scarcely tell you," she added, striving to palliate his
conduct, "that he cannot do without it, however he might contrive to do
without his breakfast." But, indeed, this was true. So thoroughly was he
steeped in drunkenness—in the low, frequent, and insatiable appetite
for whiskey—that, like tobacco or snuff, it became an essential
portion of his life—a necessary-evil, without which he could
scarcely exist. At all events, the poor children had one comfortable meal,
which made them happy; the little stock that remained was stowed away in
some nook or other, where Art was not likely to find it; the girl went
home, and we were about to say that the rest of this miserable family went
to bed; but, alas! they had no bed to go to, with the exception of a
little straw, and a thin single blanket to cover them.
If Margaret's conduct during these severe and terrible trials was not
noble and heroic, we know not what could be called so. The affection which
she exhibited towards her husband overcame everything. When Art had got
about half way in his mad and profligate career, her friends offered to
support her, if she would take refuge with them and abandon him; but the
admirable woman received the proposal as an insult; and the reply she gave
is much the same as the reader has heard from her lips, with reference to
the girl's message from her sister.
Subsequently, they offered to take her and the children; but this also she
indignantly rejected. She could not leave him, she said, at the very time
when it was so necessary that her hands should be about him. What might be
the fate of such a man if he had none to take care of him? No, this almost
unexampled woman, rather than desert him in such circumstances,
voluntarily partook in all the wretchedness, destitution, and incredible
misery which his conduct inflicted on her, and did so patiently, and
without a murmur.
In a few days after the night we have described, a man covered with rags,
without shoe, or stocking, or shirt, having on an old hat, through the
broken crown of which his hair, wefted with bits of straw, stood out, his
face shrunk and pale, his beard long and filthy, and his eyes rayless and
stupid—a man of this description, we say, with one child in his
arms, and two more accompanying him, might be seen begging through the
streets of Ballykeerin; yes, and often in such a state of drunkenness as
made it frightful to witness his staggering gait, lest he might tumble
over upon the infant, or let it fair out of his arms. This man was Art
Maguire; to such a destiny had he come, or rather had he brought himself
at last; Art Maguire—one of the great Maguires of Fermanagh!
But where is she—the attached, the indomitable in love—the
patient, the much enduring, the uncomplaining? Alas! she is at length
separated from him and them; her throbbing veins are hot and rife with
fever—her aching head is filled with images of despair and horror—she
is calling for her husband—her young and manly husband—and
says she will not be parted from him—she is also calling for her
children, and demands to have them. The love of the mother and of the wife
is now furious; but, thank God, the fury that stimulates it is that of
disease, and not of insanity. The trials and privations which could not
overcome her noble heart, overcame her physical frame, and on the day
succeeding that woful night she was seized with a heavy fever, and through
the interference of some respectable inhabitants of the town, was conveyed
to the fever hospital, where she now lies in a state of delirium.
And Frank Maguire—the firm, the industrious, and independent—where
is he? Unable to bear the shame of his brother's degradation, he gave up
his partnership, and went to America, where he now is; but not without
having left in the hands of a friend something for his unfortunate brother
to remember him by; and it was this timely aid which for the last three
quarters of a year has been the sole means of keeping life in his
Thus have we followed Art Maguire from his youth up to the present stage
of his life, attempting, as well as we could, to lay open to our readers
his good principles and his bad, together with the errors and ignorances
of those who had the first formation of his character—we mean his
parents and family. We have endeavored to trace, with as strict an
adherence to truth and nature as possible, the first struggles of a heart
naturally generous and good, with the evil habit which beset him, as well
as with the weaknesses by which that habit was set to work upon his
temperament. Whether we have done this so clearly and naturally as to
bring home conviction of its truth to such of our readers as may resemble
him in the materials which formed his moral constitution, and
consequently, to hold him up as an example to be avoided, it is not for
ourselves to say. If our readers think so, or rather feel so, then we
shall rest satisfied of having performed our task as we ought.
Our task, however, is not accomplished. It is true, we have accompanied
him with pain and pity to penury, rags, and beggary—unreformed,
unrepenting, hardened, shameless, desperate. Do our readers now suppose
that there is anything in the man, or any principle external to him,
capable of regenerating and elevating a heart so utterly lost as his?
But hush! what is this? How dark the moral clouds that have been hanging
over the country for a period far beyond the memory of man! how black that
dismal canopy which is only lit by fires that carry and shed around them
disease, famine, crime, madness, bloodshed, and death. How hot, sultry,
and enervating to the whole constitution of man, physically and mentally,
is the atmosphere we have been breathing so long! The miasma of the swamp,
the simoom of the desert, the merciless sirocco, are healthful when
compared to such an atmosphere. And, hark! what formidable being is that
who, with black expanded wings, flies about from place to place, and from
person to person, with a cup of fire in his hands, which he applies to
their eager lips? And what spell or charm lies in that burning cup, which,
no sooner do they taste than they shout, clap their hands with exultation,
and cry out, "We are happy! we are happy!" Hark; he proclaims himself, and
shouteth still louder than they do; but they stop their ears, and will not
listen; they shut their eyes and will not see. What sayeth he? "I am the
Angel of Intemperance, Discord, and Destruction, who oppose myself to God
and all his laws—to man, and all that has been made for his good; my
delight is in misery and unhappiness, in crime, desolation, ruin, murder,
and death in a thousand shapes of vice and destitution. Such I am, such I
shall be, for behold, my dominion shall last forever!"
But hush again! Look towards the south! What faint but beautiful light is
it, which, fairer than that of the morning, gradually breaketh upon that
dark sky? See how gently, but how steadily, its lustre enlarges and
expands! It is not the light of the sun, nor of the moon, nor of the
stars, neither is it the morning twilight, which heralds the approach of
day; no, but it is the serene effulgence which precedes and accompanies a
messenger from God, who is sent to bear a new principle of happiness to
man! This principle is itself an angelic spirit, and lo! how the sky
brightens, and the darkness flees away like a guilty thing before it!
Behold it on the verge of the horizon, which is now glowing with the rosy
hues of heaven—it advances, it proclaims its mission:—hark!
"I am the Angel of Temperance, of Industry, of Peace! who oppose myself to
the Spirit of Evil and all his laws—I am the friend of man, and
conduct him to the true enjoyment of all that has been made for his good.
My mission is to banish misery, unhappiness, and crime, to save mankind
from desolation, ruin, murder, and death, in a thousand shapes of vice and
And now see how he advances in beauty and power, attended by knowledge,
health, and truth, while the harmonies of domestic life, of civil concord,
and social duty, accompany him, and make music in his path. But where is
the angel of intemperance, discord, and destruction? Hideous monster,
behold him! No longer great nor terrible, he flies, or rather totters,
from before his serene opponent—he shudders—he stutters and
hiccups in his howlings—his limbs are tremulous—his hands
shake as if with palsy—his eye is lustreless and bloodshot, and his
ghastly countenance the exponent of death. He flies, but not
unaccompanied; along with him are crime, poverty, hunger, idleness, his
music the groan of the murderer, the clanking of the madman's chain,
filled up by the report of the suicide's pistol, and the horrible yell of
despair! And now he and his evil spirits are gone, the moral atmosphere is
bright and unclouded, and the Angel of Temperance, Industry, and Peace
goes abroad throughout the land, fulfilling his beneficent mission, and
diffusing his own virtues into the hearts of a regenerated people!
Leaving allegory, however, to the poets, it is impossible that, treating
of the subject which we have selected, we could, without seeming to
undervalue it, neglect to say a few words upon the most extraordinary
moral phenomenon, which, apart from the miraculous, the world ever saw; we
allude to the wonderful Temperance Movement, as it is called, which, under
the guiding hand of the Almighty, owes its visible power and progress to
the zeal and incredible exertions of one pious and humble man—the
Very Rev. Theobald Matthew, of Cork. When we consider the general, the
proverbial character, which our countrymen have, during centuries, borne
for love of drink, and their undeniable habits of intemperance, we cannot
but feel that the change which has taken place is, indeed, surprising, to
say the least of it. But, in addition to this, when we also consider the
natural temperament of the Irishman—his social disposition—his
wit, his humor, and his affection—all of which are lit up by liquor—when
we just reflect upon the exhilaration of spirits produced by it—when
we think upon the poverty, the distress, and the misery which too
generally constitute his wretched lot, and which it will enable him, for a
moment, to forget—and when we remember that all his bargains were
made over it—that he courted his sweetheart over it—got
married over it—wept for his dead over it—and generally fought
his enemy of another faction, or the Orangeman of another creed, when
under its influence:—when we pause over all these considerations, we
can see how many temptations our countrymen had to overcome in renouncing
it as they did; and we cannot help looking at it as a moral miracle,
utterly without parallel in the history of man.
Now we are willing to give all possible credit, and praise, and honor to
Father Matthew; but we do not hesitate to say, that even he would have
failed in being, as he is, the great visible exponent of this admirable
principle, unless there had been other kindred principles in the
Irishman's heart, which recognized and clung to it. In other words it is
unquestionable, that had the religious and moral feelings of the Irish
people been neglected, the principle of temperance would never have taken
such deep root in the heart of the nation as it has done. Nay, it could
not; for does not every man of common sense know, that good moral
principles seldom grow in a bad moral soil, until it is cultivated for
their reception. It is, therefore, certainly a proof that the Roman
Catholic priesthood of Ireland had not neglected the religious principles
of the people. It may, I know, and it has been called a superstitious
contagion; but however that may be, so long as we have such contagions
among us, we will readily pardon the superstition. Let superstition always
assume a shape of such beneficence and virtue to man, and we shall not
quarrel with her for retaining the name. Such a contagion could never be
found among any people in whom there did not exist predisposing qualities,
ready to embrace and nurture the good which came with it.
Our argument, we know, may be met by saying that its chief influence was
exerted on those whose habits of dissipation, immorality, and irreligion
kept, them aloof from the religious instruction of the priest. But to
those who know the Irish heart, it is not necessary to say that many a man
addicted to drink is far from being free from the impressions of religion,
or uninfluenced by many a generous and noble virtue. Neither does it
follow that every such man has been neglected by his priest, or left
unadmonished of the consequences which attended his evil habit. But how
did it happen, according to that argument, that it was this very class of
persons—the habitual, or the frequent, or the occasional drunkard—that
first welcomed the spirit of temperance, and availed themselves of its
blessings? If there had not been the buried seeds of neglected instruction
lying in their hearts, it is very improbable that they would have welcomed
and embraced the principle as they did. On the other hand, it is much more
likely that they would have fled from, and avoided a spirit which deprived
them of the gratification of their ruling and darling passion. Evil and
good, we know, do not so readily associate.
Be this, however, as it may, we have only to state, in continuation of our
narrative, that at the period of Art Maguire's most lamentable
degradation, and while his admirable but unhappy wife was stretched upon
the burning bed of fever, the far low sounds of the Temperance Movement
were heard, and the pale but pure dawn of its distant light seen at
Ballykeerin. That a singular and novel spirit accompanied it, is certain;
and that it went about touching and healing with all the power of an
angel, is a matter not of history, but of direct knowledge and immediate
recollection. Nothing, indeed, was ever witnessed in any country similar
to it. Whereever it went, joy, acclamation, ecstasy accompanied it;
together with a sense of moral liberty, of perfect freedom from the
restraint, as it were, of some familiar devil, that had kept its victims
in its damnable bondage. Those who had sunk exhausted before the terrible
Molpch of Intemperance, and given themselves over for lost, could now
perceive that there was an ally at hand, that was able to bring them
succor, and drag them back from degradation and despair, to peace and
independence, from contempt and infamy, to respect and praise. Nor was
this all. It was not merely into the heart of the sot and drunkard that it
carried a refreshing consciousness of joy and deliverance, but into all
those hearts which his criminal indulgence had filled with heaviness and
sorrow. It had, to be sure, its dark side to some—ay, to thousands.
Those who lived by the vices —the low indulgences and the ruinous
excesses—of their fellow-creatures—trembled and became aghast
at its approach. The vulgar and dishonest publican, who sold a bona
fide poison under a false name; the low tavern-keeper; the proprietor
of the dram-shop; of the night-house; and the shebeen—all were
struck with terror and dismay. Their occupation was doomed to go. No more
in the dishonest avarice of gain where they to coax and jest with the
foolish tradesman, until they confirmed him in the depraved habit, and led
him on, at his own expense, and their profit, step by step, until the
naked and shivering sot, now utterly ruined, was kicked out, like Art
Maguire, to make room for those who were to tread in his steps, and share
No more was the purity and inexperience of youth to be corrupted by evil
society, artfully introduced for the sordid purpose of making him spend
his money, at the expense of health, honesty, and good name.
No more was the decent wife of the spendthrift tradesman, when forced by
stern necessity, and the cries of her children, to seek her husband in the
public house, of a Saturday night, anxious as she was to secure what was
left unspent of his week's wages, in order to procure to-morrow's food—no
more was she to be wheedled into the bar, to get the landlord's or the
landlady's treat, in order that the outworks of temperance, and the
principles of industry, perhaps of virtue, might be gradually broken down,
for the selfish and diabolical purpose of enabling her drunken husband to
spend a double share of his hardly-earned pittance.
Nor more was the male servant, in whom every confidence was placed, to be
lured into these vile dens of infamy, that he might be fleeced or his
money, tutored into debauchery or dishonesty, or thrown into the society
of thieves and robbers, that he might become an accomplice in their
crimes, and enable them to rob his employer with safety. No more was the
female servant, on the other hand, to be made familiar with tippling, or
corrupted by evil company, until she became a worthless and degraded
creature, driven out of society, without reputation or means of
subsistence, and forced to sink to that last loathsome alternative of
profligacy which sends her, after a short and wicked course, to the
jeering experiments of the dissecting-room.
Oh, no; those wretches who lived by depravity, debauchery, and corruption,
were alarmed almost into distraction by the approach of temperance, for
they knew it would cut off the sources of their iniquitous gains, and
strip them of the vile means of propagating dishonesty and vice, by which
they lived. But even this wretched class were not without instances of
great disinterestedness and virtue; several of them closed their debasing
establishments, forfeited their ill-gotten means of living, and trusting
to honesty and legitimate industry, voluntarily assumed the badge of
temperance, and joined its peaceful and triumphant standard!
Previous to this time, however, and, indeed, long before the joyful sounds
of its advancing motion were heard from afar, it is not to be taken for
granted that the drunkards of the parish of Ballykeerin Avere left to the
headlong impulses of their own evil propensities. Before Art Maguire had
fallen from his integrity and good name, there had not been a more regular
attendant at mass, or at his Easter and Christmas duties, in the whole
parish; in this respect he was a pattern, as Father Costelloe, the priest,
often said, to all who were anxious to lead a decent and creditable life,
forgetting their duty neither to God nor man. A consciousness of his fall,
however, made him ashamed in the beginning to appear at mass, until he
should decidedly reform, which he proposed and resolved to do, or thought
he resolved, from week to week, and from day to day. How he wrought out
these resolutions our readers know too well; every day and every week only
made him worse and worse, until by degrees all thought of God, or prayer,
or priest, abandoned him, and he was left to swelter in misery among the
very dregs of his prevailing vice, hardened and obdurate. Many an
admonition has he received from Father Costelloe, especially before he
become hopeless, and many a time, when acknowledging his own inability to
follow up his purposes of amendment, has he been told by that good and
Christian man, that he must have recourse to better and higher means of
support, and remember that God will not withhold his grace from those who
ask it sincerely and aright. Art, however, could not do so, for although
he had transient awakenings of conscience, that were acute while they
lasted, yet he could not look up to God with a thorough and heartfelt
resolution of permanent reformation. The love of liquor, and the
disinclination to give it up, still lurked in his heart, and prevented him
from setting about his amendment in earnest. If they had not, he would
have taken a second oath, as his brother Frank often advised him to do,
but without effect. He still hoped to be able to practise moderation, and
drink within bounds, and consequently persuaded himself that total
abstinence was not necessary in his case. At length Father Costelloe, like
all those who were deeply anxious for his reformation, was looked upon as
an unwelcome adviser, whose Christian exhortations to a better course of
life were anything but agreeable, because he spoke truth; and so strong
did this feeling grow in him, that in his worst moments he would rather
sink into the earth than meet him: nay, a glimpse of him at any distance
was sure to make the unfortunate man hide himself in some hole or corner
until the other had passed, and all danger of coming under his reproof was
over. Art was still begging with his children, when, after a long and
dangerous illness, it pleased God to restore his wife to him and them. So
much pity, and interest, and respect did she excite during her
convalescence—for it was impossible that her virtues, even in the
lowest depths of her misery, could be altogether unknown—that the
heads of the hospital humanely proposed to give her some kind of situation
in it, as soon as she should regain sufficient strength to undertake its
duties. The mother's love, however, still prompted her to rejoin her
children, feeling as she did, and as she said, how doubly necessary now
her care and attention to them must be. She at length yielded to their
remonstrances, when they assured her that to return in her present weak
condition to her cold and desolate house, and the utter want of all
comfort which was to be found in it, might, and, in all probability,
would, be fatal to her; and that by thus exposing herself too soon to the
consequences of cold and destitution, she might leave her children
motherless. This argument prevailed, but in the meantime she stipulated
that her children and her husband, if the latter were in a state of
sufficient sobriety, should be permitted occasionally to see her, that she
might inquire into their situation, and know how they lived. This was
acceded to, and, by the aid of care and nourishing food, she soon found
herself beginning to regain her strength.
In the meantime the Temperance movement was rapidly and triumphantly
approaching. In a town about fifteen miles distant there was a meeting
advertised to be held, at which the great apostle himself was to
administer the pledge; Father Costelloe announced it from the altar, and
earnestly recommended his parishioners to attend, and enrol themselves
under the blessed banner of Temperance, the sober man as well as the
"It may be said," he observed, "that sober men have no necessity for
taking the pledge; and if one were certain that every sober man was to
remain sober during his whole life, there would not, indeed, be a
necessity for sober men to take it; but, alas! my friends, you know how
subject we are to those snares, and pitfalls, and temptations of life by
which our paths are continually beset. Who can say to-day that he may not
transgress the bounds of temperance before this day week? Your condition
in life is surrounded by inducements to drink. You scarcely buy or sell a
domestic animal in fair or market, that you are not tempted to drink; you
cannot attend a neighbor's funeral that you are not tempted to drink—'tis
the same at the wedding and the christening, and in almost all the
transactions of your lives. How then can you answer for yourselves,
especially when your spirits may happen to be elevated, and your hearts
glad? Oh! it is then, my friends, that the tempter approaches you, and
probably implants in your unguarded hearts the germ of that accursed habit
which has destroyed millions. How often have you heard it said of many
men, even within the range of your own knowledge, 'Ah, he was an
industrious, well-conducted, and respectable man—until he took to
drink!' Does not the prevalence of such a vile habit, and the fact that so
many sober men fall away from that virtue, render the words that I have
just uttered a melancholy proverb in the country? Ah, there he is—in
rags and misery; yet he was an industrious, well-conducted, and
respectable man once, that is—before he took to drink! Prevention,
my dear friends, is always better than cure, and in binding yourselves by
this most salutary obligation, you know not how much calamity and
suffering—how much general misery—how much disgrace and crime
you may avoid. And, besides, are we not to look beyond this world? Is a
crime which so greatly depraves the heart, and deadens its power of
receiving the wholesome impressions of religion and truth, not one which
involves our future happiness or misery? Ah, my dear brethren, it is
indeed a great and a cross popular error to say that sober men should not
take this pledge. I hope I have satisfied you that it is a duty they owe
themselves to take it, so long as they feel that they are frail creatures,
and liable to sin and error; and not only themselves, but their children,
their friends, and all who might be affected, either for better or worse,
by their example.
"There is another argument, however, which I cannot overlook, while
dwelling upon this important subject. We know that the drunkard, if God
should, through the instrumentality of this great and glorious movement,
put the wish for amendment into his heart, still feels checked and
deterred by a sense of shame; because, the truth is, if none attended
these meetings but such men, that very fact alone would prove a great
obstruction in the way of their reformation. Many, too many, are
drunkards; but every man is not an open drunkard, and hundreds, nay,
thousands, would say, 'By attending these meetings of drunken men, I
acknowledge myself to be a drunkard also;' hence they will probably
decline going through shame, and consequently miss the opportunity of
retrieving themselves. Now, I say, my friends, it is the duty of sober men
to deprive them of this argument, and by an act, which, after all,
involves nothing of self-denial, but still an act of great generosity, to
enable them to enter into this wholesome obligation, without being openly
exposed to the consequences of having acknowledged that they were
He then announced the time and place of the meeting, which was in the
neighboring town of Drumnabrogue, and concluded by again exhorting them
all, without distinction, to attend it and take the pledge. His
exhortations were not without effect; many of his parishioners did attend,
and among them some of Art's former dissolute companions.
Art himself, when spoken to, and pressed to go, hiccuped and laughed at
the notion of any such pledge reforming him; a strong proof that all hope
of recovering himself, or of regaining his freedom from drunkenness, had
long ago deserted him. This, if anything further was necessary to do so,
completed the scene of his moral prostration and infamy. Margaret, who was
still in the hospital, now sought to avail herself of the opportunity
which presented itself, by reasoning with, and urging him to go, but, like
all others, her arguments were laughed at, and Art expressed contempt for
her, Father Matthew, and all the meetings that had yet taken place.
"Will takin' the pledge," he asked her, "put a shirt to my back, a thing I
almost forget the use of, or a good coat? Will it put a dacent house over
my head, a good bed under me, and a warm pair of blankets on us to keep us
from shiverin', an' coughin', an' barkin' the whole night long in the
"No, faith, I'll not give up the whiskey, for it has one comfort, it makes
me sleep in defiance o' wind and weather; it's the only friend I have left
now—it's my shirt—its my coat—my shoes and stockin's—my
house—my blankets—my coach—my carriage—it makes me
a nobleman, a lord; but, anyhow, sure I'm as good, ay, by the mortual, and
better, for amn't I one of the great Maguires of Fermanagh! Whish, the ou—ould
blood forever, and to the divil wid their meetins!"
"Art," said his wife, "I believe if you took the pledge that it would give
you all you say, and more; for it would bring you back the respect and
good-will of the people, that you've long lost."
"To the divil wid the people! I'll tell you what, if takin' the pledge
reforms Mechil Gam, the crooked disciple that he is, or Tom Whiskey, mind—mind
me—I say if it reforms them, or young Barney Scaddhan, thin you may
spake up for it, an' may be, I'll listen to you."
At length the meeting took place, and the three men alluded to by Art,
attended it as they said they would; each returned home with his pledge;
they rose up the next morning, and on that night went to bed sober. This
was repeated day after day, week after week, month after month, and still
nothing characterized them but sobriety, peace, and industry.
Unfortunately, so far as Art Maguire was concerned, it was out of his
power, as it was out of that of hundreds, to derive any benefit from the
example which some of his old hard-drinking associates had so unexpectedly
set both him and them. No meeting had since occurred within seventy or
eighty miles of Ballykeerin, and yet the contagion of good example had
spread through that and the adjoining parishes in a manner that was
without precedent. In fact, the people murmured, became impatient, and,
ere long, demanded from their respective pastors that another meeting
should be held, to afford them an opportunity of publicly receiving the
pledge; and for that purpose they besought the Rev. gentlemen to ask
Father Matthew to visit Ballykeerin. This wish was complied with, and
Father Matthew consented, though at considerable inconvenience to himself,
and appointed a day for the purpose specified. This was about three or
four months after the meeting that was held in the neighboring town
already alluded to.
For the last six weeks Margaret had been able to discharge the duties of
an humble situation in the hospital, on the condition that she should at
least once a day see her children. Poor as was the situation in question,
it enabled her to contribute much more to their comfort, than she could if
she had resided with them, or, in other words, begged with them; for to
that, had she returned home, it must have come; and, as the winter was
excessively severe, this would have killed her, enfeebled as she had been
by a long and oppressive fever. Her own good sense taught her to see this,
and the destitution of her children and husband—to feel it. In this
condition then were they—depending on the scanty aid which her poor
exertions could afford them, eked out by the miserable pittance that he
extorted as a beggar—when the intelligence arrived that the great
Apostle of Temperance had appointed a day on which to hold a teetotal
meeting in the town of Ballykeerin.
It is utterly unaccountable how the approach of Father Matthew, and of
these great meetings, stirred society into a state of such extraordinary
activity, not only in behalf of temperance, but also of many other
virtues; so true is it, that when one healthy association is struck it
awakens all those that are kindred to it into new life. In addition to a
love of sobriety, the people felt their hearts touched, as it were, by a
new spirit, into kindness and charity, and a disposition to discharge
promptly and with good-will all brotherly and neighborly offices. Harmony,
therefore, civil, social, and domestic, accompanied the temperance
movement wherever it went, and accompanies it still wherever it goes; for,
like every true blessing, it never comes alone, but brings several others
in its train.
The morning in question, though cold, was dry and bright; a small platform
had been raised at the edge of the market-house, which was open on one
side, and on it Father Matthew was to stand. By this simple means he would
be protected from rain, should any fall, and was sufficiently accessible
to prevent any extraordinary crush among the postulants. But how will we
attempt to describe the appearance which the town of Ballykeerin presented
on the morning of this memorable and auspicious day? And above all, in
what terms shall we paint the surprise, the wonder, the astonishment with
which they listened to the music of the teetotal band, which, as if by
magic, had been formed in the town of Drumnabogue, where, only a few
months before, the meeting of which we have spoken had been held. Indeed,
among all the proofs of national advantages which the temperance movement
has brought out, we are not to forget those which it has bestowed on the
country—by teaching us what a wonderful capacity for music, and what
a remarkable degree of intellectual power, the lower classes of our
countrymen are endowed with, and can manifest when moved by adequate
principles. Early as daybreak the roads leading to Ballykeerin presented a
living stream of people listening onwards towards the great rendezvous;
but so much did they differ in their aspect from almost any other
assemblage of Irishmen, that, to a person ignorant of their purpose, it
would be difficult, if not impossible, to guess the cause, not that moved
them in such multitudes towards the same direction, but that marked them
by such peculiar characteristics. We have seen Irishmen and Irishwomen
going to a country race in the summer months, when labor there was none;
we have seen them going to meetings of festivity and amusement of all
descriptions;—to fairs, to weddings, to dances—but we must
confess, that notwithstanding all our experience and intercourse with
them, we never witnessed anything at all resembling their manner and
bearing on this occasion. There was undoubtedly upon them, and among them,
all the delightful enjoyment of a festival spirit; they were easy,
cheerful, agreeable, and social; but, in addition to this, there was
clearly visible an expression of feeling that was new even to themselves,
as well as to the spectators. But how shall we characterize this feeling?
It was certainly not at variance with the cheerfulness which they felt,
but, at the same time, it shed over it a serene solemnity of manner which
communicated a moral grandeur to the whole proceeding that fell little
short of sublimity. This was a principle of simple virtue upon which all
were equal; but it was more than that, it was at once a manifestation of
humility, and an exertion of faith in the aid and support of the Almighty,
by whose grace those earnest but humble people felt and trusted that they
would be supported. And who can say that their simplicity of heart—their
unaffected humility, and their firmness of faith have not been amply
rewarded, and triumphantly confirmed by the steadfastness with which they
have been, with extremely few exceptions, faithful to their pledge.
About nine o'clock the town of Ballykeerin was crowded with a multitude
such as had never certainly met in it before. All, from the rustic middle
classes down, were there. The crowd was, indeed, immense, yet,
notwithstanding their numbers, one could easily mark the peculiar class
for whose sake principally the meeting had been called together.
There was the red-faced farmer of substance, whose sunburnt cheeks, and
red side-neck, were scorched into a color that disputed its healthy hue
with the deeper purple tint of strong and abundant drink.
"Such a man," an acute observer would say, "eats well, and drinks well,
but is very likely to pop off some day, without a minute's warning, or
saying good-by to his friends."
Again, there was the pale and emaciated drunkard, whose feeble and
tottering gait, and trembling hands, were sufficiently indicative of his
broken-down constitution, and probably of his anxiety to be enabled to
make some compensation to the world, or some provision on the part of his
own soul, to balance the consequences of an ill-spent life, during which
morals were laughed at, and health destroyed.
There was also the healthy-looking drunkard of small means, who, had he
been in circumstances to do so, would have gone to bed drunk every night
in the year. He is not able, from the narrowness of his circumstances, to
drink himself into apoplexy on the one hand, or debility on the other; but
he is able, notwithstanding, to drink the clothes off his back, and the
consequence is, that he stands before you as ragged, able-bodied, and
thumping a specimen of ebriety as you could wish to see during a week's
journey. There were, in fact, the vestiges of drunkenness in all their
repulsive features, and unhealthy variety.
There stood the grog-drinker with his blotched face in full flower, his
eye glazed in his head, and his protuberant paunch projecting over his
shrunk and diminished limbs.
The tippling tradesman too was there, pale and sickly-looking, his thin
and over-worn garments evidently insufficient to keep out the chill of
morning, and prevent him from shivering every now and then, as if he were
afflicted with the ague.
In another direction might be seen the servant out of place, known by the
natty knot of his white cravat, as well as by the smartness with which he
wears his dress, buttoned up as it is, and coaxed about him with all the
ingenuity which experience and necessity bring to the aid of vanity. His
napeless hat is severely brushed in order to give the subsoil an
appearance of the nap which is gone, but it won't do; every one sees that
his intention is excellent, were it possible for address and industry to
work it out. This is not the case, however, and the hat is consequently a
clear exponent of his principles and position, taste and skill while he
was sober—vain pride and trying poverty now in his drunkenness.
The reckless-looking sailor was also there (but with a serious air now),
who, having been discharged for drunkenness, and refused employment
everywhere else, for the same reason, was obliged to return home, and
remain a burden upon his friends. He, too, has caught this healthy
epidemic, and the consequence is, that he will once more gain employment,
for the production of his medal will be accepted as a welcome proof of his
And there was there, what was better still, the unfortunate female, the
victim of passion and profligacy, conscious of her past life, and almost
ashamed in the open day to look around her. Poor thing! how her heart,
that was once innocent and pure, now trembles within a bosom where there
is awakened many a painful recollection of early youth, and the happiness
of home, before that unfortunate night, when, thrown off her guard by
accursed liquor, she ceased to rank among the pure and virtuous. Yes, all
these, and a much greater variety, were here actuated by the noble
resolution to abandon forever the evil courses, the vices, and the
profligacy into which they were first driven by the effects of drink.
The crowd was, indeed, immense, many having come a distance of twenty,
thirty, some forty, and not a few fifty miles, in order to free
themselves, by this simple process, from the influence of the destructive
habit which either was leading, or had led them, to ruin. Of course it is
not to be supposed that among such a vast multitude of people there were
not, as there always is, a great number of those vagabond impostors who go
about from place to place, for the purpose of extorting charity from the
simple and credulous, especially when under the influence of liquor. All
this class hated the temperance movement, because they knew right well
that sobriety in the people was there greatest enemy; the lame, the blind,
the maimed, the deaf, and the dumb, were there in strong muster, and with
their characteristic ingenuity did everything in their power, under the
pretence of zeal and religious enthusiasm, to throw discredit upon the
whole proceedings. It was this vile crew, who, by having recourse to the
aid of mock miracles, fancied they could turn the matter into derision and
contempt, and who, by affecting to be cured of their complaints, with a
view of having their own imposture, when detected, imputed to want of
power in Father Matthew;—it was this vile crew, we say, that first
circulated the notion that he could perform miracles. Unfortunately, many
of the ignorant among the people did in the beginning believe that he
possessed this power, until he himself, with his characteristic candor,
disclaimed it. For a short time the idea of this slightly injured the
cause, and afforded to its enemies some silly and senseless arguments,
which, in lieu of better, they were glad to bring against it.
At length Father Matthew, accompanied by several other clergymen and
gentlemen, made his appearance on the platform; then was the rush, the
stretching of necks, and the bitter crushing, accompanied by devices and
manoeuvres of all kinds, to catch a glimpse of him. The windows were
crowded by the more respectable classes, who were eager to witness the
effects of this great and sober enthusiasm among the lower classes. The
proceedings, however, were very simple. He first addressed them in a plain
and appropriate discourse, admirably displaying the very description of
eloquence which was best adapted to his auditory. This being concluded, he
commenced distributing the medal, for which every one who received it,
gave a shilling, the latter at the same time repeating the following
words: "I promise, so long as I shall continue a member of the Teetotal
Temperance Society, to abstain from all intoxicating liquors, unless
recommended for medical purposes, and to discourage by all means in my
power the practice of intoxication in others." Father Matthew then said,
"May God bless you, and enable you to keep your promise!"
Such was the simple ceremony by which millions have been rescued from
those terrible evils that have so long cursed and afflicted society in
In this large concourse there stood one individual, who presented in his
person such symptoms of a low, grovelling, and unremitting indulgence in
drink, as were strikingly observable even amidst the mass of misery and
wretchedness that was there congregated. It is rarely, even in a life,
that an object in human shape, encompassed and pervaded by so many of the
fearful results of habitual drunkenness, comes beneath observation.
Sometimes we may see it in a great city, when we feel puzzled, by the
almost total absence of reason in the countenance, to know whether the
utter indifference to nakedness and the elements, be the consequence of
drunken destitution, or pure idiocy. To this questionable appearance had
the individual we speak of come. The day was now nearly past, and the
crowd had considerably diminished, when this man, approaching Father
Matthew, knelt down, and clasping his skeleton hands, exclaimed—
"Father, I'm afeard I cannot trust myself."
"Who can?" said Father Matthew; "it is not in yourself you are to place
confidence, but in God, who will support you, and grant you strength, if
you ask for it sincerely and humbly."
These words, uttered in tones of true Christian charity, gave comfort to
the doubting heart of the miserable creature, who said—
"I would wish to take the pledge, if I had money; but I doubt it's too
late—too late for me! Oh, if I thought it wasn't!"
"It's never too late to repent," replied the other, "or to return from
evil to good. If you feel your heart inclined to the right I course, do
not let want of money prevent you from pledging yourself to sobriety and
"In God's name, then, I will take it," he replied; and immediately
repeated the simple words which constitute the necessary form.
"May God bless you," said Father Matthew, placing his hand on his head,
"and enable you to keep your promise!"
This man, our readers already guess, was Art Maguire.
Having thus taken the medal, and pledged himself to sobriety, and a total
abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, his first feeling was very
difficult to describe. Father Matthew's words, though few and brief, had
sunk deep into his heart, and penetrated his whole spirit. He had been for
many a long day the jest and jibe of all who knew him; because they looked
upon his recovery as a hopeless thing, and spoke to him accordingly in a
tone of contempt and scorn—a lesson to us that we never should deal
harshly with the miserable. Nor, however, he had been addressed in accents
of kindness, and in a voice that proclaimed an interest in his welfare.
This, as we said, added to the impressive spirit that prevailed around,
touched him, and he hurried home.
On reaching his almost empty house, he found Margaret and the children
there before him; she having come to see how the poor things fared—but
being quite ignorant of what had just taken place with regard to her
"Art," said she, with her usual affectionate manner; "you will want
something to eat; for if you're not hungry, your looks! belie you very
much. I have brought something for you and these creatures."
Art looked at her, then at their children, then at the utter desolation of
the house, and spreading his two hands over his face, he wept aloud. This
was repentance. Margaret in exceeding surprise, rose and approached him:—
"Art dear," she said, "in the name of God, what's the matter?"
"Maybe my father's sick, mother," said little Atty; "sure, father, if you
are, I an' the rest will go out ourselves, an' you can stay at home; but
we needn't go this day, for my mammy brought us as much as will put us
To neither the mother nor child did he make any reply; but wept on and
sobbed as if his heart would break.
"Oh my God, my God," he exclaimed bitterly, "what have I brought you to,
my darlin' wife and childre, that I loved a thousand times betther than my
own heart? Oh, what have I brought you to?"
"Art," said his wife, and her eye kindled, "in the name of the heavenly
God, is this sorrow for the life you led?"
"Ah, Margaret darlin'," he said, still sobbing; "it's long since I ought
to a felt it; but how can I look back on that woful life? Oh my God, my
God! what have I done, an' what have I brought on you!"
"Art," she said, "say to me that you're sorry for it; only let my ears
hear you saying the words."
"Oh, Margaret dear," he sobbed, "from my heart—from the core of my
unhappy heart—I am sorry—sorry for it all."
"Then there's hope," she exclaimed, clasping her hands, and looking up to
heaven, "there is hope—for him—for him—for us all! Oh my
heart," she exclaimed, quickly, "what is this?" and she scarcely uttered
the words, when she sank upon the ground insensible—sudden joy being
sometimes as dangerous as sudden grief.
Art, who now forgot his own sorrow in apprehension for her, raised her up,
assisted by little Atty, who, as did the rest of the children, cried
bitterly, on seeing his mother's eyes shut, her arms hanging lifelessly by
her side, and herself without motion. Water, however, was brought by Atty;
her face sprinkled, and a little put to her lips, and with difficulty down
her throat. At length she gave a long deep-drawn sigh, and opening her
eyes, she looked tenderly into her husband's face—
"Art dear," she said, in a feeble voice, "did I hear it right? And you
said you were sorry?"
"From my heart I am, Margaret dear," he replied; "oh, if you knew what I
feel this minute!"
She looked on him again, and her pale face was lit up with a smile of
almost ineffable happiness.
"Kiss me," said she; "we are both young yet, Art dear, and we will gain
our lost ground wanst more."
While she spoke, the tears of delight fell in torrents down her cheeks.
Art kissed her tenderly, and immediately pulling out the medal, showed it
She took the medal, and after looking at it, and reading the inscription—
"Well, Art," she said, "you never broke your oath—that's one
"No," he replied; "nor I'll never break this; if I do," he added
fervently, and impetuously, "may God mark me out for misery and
"Whisht, dear," she replied; "don't give way to these curses—they
sarve no purpose, Art. But I'm so happy this day!"
"An' is my father never to be drunk any more, mammy?" asked the little
ones, joyfully; "an he'll never be angry wid you, nor bate you any more?"
"Whisht, darlins," she exclaimed; "don't be spakin' about that; sure your
poor father never beat me, only when he didn't know what he was doin'.
Never mention it again, one of you."
"Ah, Margaret," said Art, now thoroughly awakened, "what recompense can I
ever make you, for the treatment I gave you? Oh, how can I think of it, or
look back upon it?"
His voice almost failed him, as he uttered the last words; but his
affectionate wife stooped and kissing away the tears from his cheeks, said—
"Don't, Art dear; sure this now is not a time to cry;" and yet her own
tears were flowing;—"isn't our own love come back to us? won't we
now have peace? won't we get industrious, and be respected again?"
"Ah, Margaret darling," he replied, "your love never left you; so don't
put yourself in; but as for me—oh, what have I done? and what have I
brought you to?"
"Well, now, thanks be to the Almighty, all's right. Here's something for
you to ait; you must want it."
"But," he replied, "did these poor crathurs get anything? bekase if they
didn't, I'll taste nothin' till they do."
"They did indeed," said Margaret; and all the little ones came joyfully
about him, to assure him that they had been fed, and were not hungry.
The first feeling Art now experienced on going abroad was shame—a
deep and overwhelming sense of shame; shame at the meanness of his past
conduct—shame at his miserable and unsightly appearance—shame
at all he had done, and at all he had left undone. What course now,
however, was he to adopt? Being no longer stupified and besotted by
liquor, into a state partly apathetic, partly drunken, and wholly
shameless, he could not bear the notion of resuming his habits of
mendicancy. The decent but not the empty and senseless, pride of his
family was now reawakened in him, and he felt, besides, that labor and
occupation were absolutely necessary to enable him to bear up against the
incessant craving which he felt for the pernicious stimulant. So strongly
did this beset him, that he suffered severely from frequent attacks of
tremor and sensations that resembled fits of incipient distraction.
Nothing, therefore, remained for him but close employment, that would keep
both mind and body engaged.
When the fact of his having taken the pledge became generally known, it
excited less astonishment than a person might imagine; in truth, the
astonishment would have been greater, had he refused to take it at all, so
predominant and full of enthusiasm was the spirit of temperance at that
period. One feeling, however, prevailed with respect to him, which was,
that privation of his favorite stimulant would kill him—that his
physical system, already so much exhausted and enfeebled, would, break
down—-and that poor Art would soon go the way of all drunkards.
On the third evening after he had taken the pledge, he went down to the
man who had succeeded himself in his trade, and who, by the way, had been
formerly one of his own journeymen, of the very men who, while he was
running his career of dissipation, refused to flatter his vanity, or make
one in his excesses, and who was, moreover, one of the very individuals he
had dismissed. To this man he went, and thus accosted him—his name
was Owen Gallagher.
"Owen," said he, "I trust in God that I have gained a great victory of
The man understood him perfectly well, and replied—
"I hope so, Art; I hear you have taken the pledge."
"Belyin' on God's help, I have."
"Well," replied Owen, "you couldn't rely on betther help."
"No," said Art, "I know I could not; but, Owen, I ran a wild and a
terrible race of it—I'm grieved an' shamed to think—even to
think of it."
"An' that's a good sign, Art, there couldn't be betther; for unless a
man's heart is sorry for his faults, and ashamed of them too, it's not
likely he'll give them over."
"I can't bear to walk the streets," continued Art, "nor to rise my head;
but still something must be done for the poor wife and childre."
"Ah, Art," replied Owen, "that is the wife! The goold of Europe isn't
value for her; an' that's what every one knows."
"But who knows it, an' feels it as I do?" said Art, "or who has the right
either? howandiver, as I said, something must be done; Owen, will you
venture to give me employment? I know I'm in bad trim to come into a
dacent workshop, but you know necessity has no law;—it isn't my
clo'es that will work, but myself; an', indeed, if you do employ me, it's
not much I'll be able to do this many a day; but the truth is, if I don't
get something to keep me busy, I doubt I won't be able to stand against
what I feel both in my mind and body."
These words were uttered with such an air of deep sorrow and perfect
sincerity as affected Gallagher very much.
"Art," said he, "there was no man so great a gainer by the unfortunate
coorse you tuck as I was, for you know I came into the best part of your
business; God forbid then that I should refuse you work, especially as you
have turned over a new lafe;—or to lend you a helpin' hand either,
now that I know it will do you and your family good, and won't go to the
public-house. Come wid me."
He took down his hat as he spoke, and brought Art up to one of those
general shops that are to be found in every country town like Ballykeerin.
"Mr. Trimble," said he, "Art Maguire wants a plain substantial suit o'
clothes, that will be chape an' wear well, an' I'll be accountable for
them; Art, sir, has taken the pledge, an' is goin' to turn over a new
lafe, an' be as he wanst was, I hope."
"And there is no man," said the worthy shopkeeper, "in the town of
Ballykeerin that felt more satisfaction than I did when I heard he had
taken it. I know what he wants, and what you want for him, and he shall
have it both cheap and good."
Such was the respect paid to those who nobly resolved to overcome their
besetting sin of drink, and its consequent poverty or profligacy, that the
knowledge alone that they had taken the pledge, gained them immediate
good-will, as it was entitled to do. This, to be sure, was in Art's favor;
but there was about him, independently of this, a serious spirit of
awakened resolution and sincerity which carried immediate conviction along
"This little matter," said the honest carpenter, with natural
consideration for Art, "will, of coorse, rest between you an' me, Mr.
"I understand your feeling, Owen," said he, "and I can't but admire it; it
does honor to your heart."
"Hut," said Gallagher, "it's nothin'; sure it's jist what Art would do for
myself, if we wor to change places."
Thus it is with the world, and ever will be so, till human nature changes.
Art had taken the first step towards his reformation, and Owen felt that
he was sincere; this step, therefore, even slight as it was, sufficed to
satisfy his old friend that he would be safe in aiding him. Gallagher's
generosity, however, did not stop here; the assistance which he gave Art,
though a matter of secrecy between themselves, was soon visible in Art's
appearance, and that of his poor family. Good fortune, however, did not
stop here; in about a week after this, when Art was plainly but
comfortably dressed, and working with Gallagher, feeble as he was, upon
journeyman's wages, there came a letter from his brother Frank, enclosing
ten pounds for the use of his wife and children. It was directed to a
friend in Ballykeerin, who was instructed to apply it according to his own
discretion, and the wants of his family, only by no means to permit a
single shilling of it to reach his hands, unless on the condition that he
had altogether given up liquor. This seemed to Art like a proof that God
had rewarded him for the step he had taken; in a few weeks it was
wonderful how much comfort he and his family had contrived to get about
them. Margaret was a most admirable manager, and a great economist, and
with her domestic knowledge and good sense, things went on beyond their
Art again was up early and down late—for his strength, by the aid of
wholesome and regular food, and an easy mind, was fast returning to him—although
we must add here, that he never regained the healthy and powerful
constitution which he had lost. His reputation, too, was fast returning;
many a friendly salutation he received from those, who, in his
degradation, would pass him by with either ridicule or solemn contempt.
Nothing in this world teaches a man such well-remembered lessons of life
as severe experience. Art, although far, very far removed from his former
independence, yet, perhaps, might be said never to have enjoyed so much
peace of mind, or so strong a sense of comfort, as he did now in his
humble place with his family. The contrast between his past misery, and
the present limited independence which he enjoyed, if it could be called
independence, filled his heart with a more vivid feeling of thankfulness
than he had ever known. He had now a bed to sleep on, with bona fide
blankets—he had a chair to sit on—a fire on his hearth—and
food, though plain, to eat; so had his wife, so had his children; he had
also very passable clothes to his back, that kept him warm and
comfortable, and prevented him from shivering like a reed in the blast; so
had his wife, and so had his children. But he had more than this, for he
had health, a good conscience, and a returning reputation. People now
addressed him as an equal, as a man, as an individual who constituted a
portion of society; then, again, he loved his wife as before, and lived
with her in a spirit of affection equal to any they had ever felt. Why,
this was, to a man who suffered what he and his family had suffered,
In truth, Art now wondered at the life he had led,—he could not
understand it; why he should have suffered himself, for the sake of a vile
and questionable enjoyment—if enjoyment that could be called, which
was no enjoyment—at least for the sake of a demoralizing and
degrading habit, to fall down under the feet as it were, under the evil
tongues, and the sneers—of those who constituted his world—the
inhabitants of Ballykeerin—was now, that he had got rid of the
thraldom, perfectly a mystery to him. Be this as it may, since he had
regenerated his own character, the world was just as ready to take him up
as it had been to lay him down.
Nothing in life gives a man such an inclination for active industry as to
find that he is prospering; he has then heart and spirits to work, and
does work blithely and cheerfully; so was it with Art. He and his employer
were admirably adapted for each other, both being extremely well-tempered,
honest, and first-rate workmen. About the expiration of the first twelve
months, Art had begun to excite a good deal of interest in the town of
Ballykeerin, an interest which was beginning to affect Owen Gallagher
himself in a beneficial way. He was now pointed out to strangers as the
man, who, almost naked, used to stand drunk and begging upon the bridge of
Ballykeerin, surrounded by his starving and equally naked children. In
fact, he began to get a name, quite a reputation for the triumph which he
had achieved over drunkenness; and on this account Owen Gallagher, when it
was generally known in the country that Art worked with him, found his
business so rapidly extending, that he was obliged, from time to time, to
increase the number of hands in his establishment. Art felt this, and
being now aware that his position in life was, in fact, more favorable for
industrious exertion than ever, resolved to give up journey work, and once
more, if only for the novelty of the thing, to set up for himself. Owen
Gallagher, on hearing this from his own lips, said he could not, nor would
not blame him, but, he added—
"I'll tell you what we can do, Art—come into partnership wid me, for
I think as we're gettin' an so well together, it 'ud be a pity, almost a
sin, to part; join me, and I'll give you one-third of the business,"—by
which he meant the profits of it.
"Begad," replied Art, laughing, "it's as much for the novelty of the thing
I'm doin' it as any thing else; I think it 'ud be like a dhrame to me, if
I was to find myself and my family as we wor before." And so they parted.
It is unnecessary here to repeat what we have already detailed concerning
the progress of his early prosperity; it is sufficient, we trust, to tell
our readers that he rose into rapid independence, and that he owed all his
success to the victory that he had obtained over himself. His name was now
far and near, and so popular had he become, that no teetotaller would
employ any other carpenter. This, at length, began to make him proud, and
to feel that his having given up drink, instead of being simply a duty to
himself and his family, was altogether an act of great voluntary virtue on
"Few men," he said, "would do it, an' may be, afther all, if I hadn't the
ould blood in my veins—if I wasn't one of the great Fermanagh
Maguires, I would never a' done it."
He was now not only a vehement Teetotaller, but an unsparing enemy to all
who drank even in moderation; so much so, indeed, that whenever a man came
to get work done with him, the first question he asked him was—"Are
you a Teetotaller?" If the man answered "No," his reply was, "Well, I'm
sorry for that, bekase I couldn't wid a safe conscience do your work; but
you can go to Owen Gallagher, and he will do it for you as well as any man
This, to be sure, was the abuse of the principle; but we all know that the
best things may be abused. He was, in fact, outrageous in defence of
Teetotalism; attended all its meetings; subscribed for Band-money; and was
by far the most active member in the whole town of Ballykeerin. It was not
simply that he forgot his former poverty; he forgot himself. At every
procession he was to be seen, mounted on a spanking horse, ridiculously
over-dressed—the man, we mean, not the horse—flaunting with
ribands, and quite puffed up at the position to which he had raised
This certainly was not the humble and thankful feeling with which he ought
to have borne his prosperity. The truth, however, was, that Art, in all
this parade, was not in the beginning acting upon those broad, open
principles of honesty, which, in the transactions of business, had
characterized his whole life. He was now influenced by his foibles—by
his vanity—and by his ridiculous love of praise. Nor, perhaps, would
these have been called into action, were it not through the intervention
of his old friend and pot companion, Toal Finnigan. Toal, be it known to
the reader, the moment he heard that Art had become a Teetotaller,
immediately became one himself, and by this means their intimacy was once
more renewed; that is to say, they spoke in friendly terms whenever they
met—but no entreaty or persuasion could ever induce Toal to enter
Art's house; and the reader need not be told why. At all events, Toal,
soon after he joined it, put himself forward in the Teetotal Movement with
such prominence, that Art, who did not wish to be outdone in anything,
began to get jealous of him. Hence his ridiculous exhibitions of himself
in every manner that could attract notice, or throw little Toal into the
shade; and hence also the still more senseless determination not to work
for any but a Teetotaller; for in this, too, Toal had set him the example.
Toal, the knave, on becoming a Teetotaller, immediately resolved to turn
it to account; but Art, provided he could show off, and cut a conspicuous
figure in a procession, had no dishonest motive in what he did; and this
was the difference between them. For instance, on going up the town of
Ballykeerin, you might see over the door of a middle-sized house,
"Teetotal Meal Shop. N. B.—None but Teetotallers need come here."
Now every one knew Toal too well not to understand this; for the truth is,
that maugre his sign, he never refused his meal or other goods to any one
that had money to pay for them.
One evening about this time, Art was seated in his own parlor—for he
now had a parlor, and was in a state of prosperity far beyond anything he
had ever experienced before—Margaret and the children were with him;
and as he smoked his pipe, he could not help making an observation or two
upon the wonderful change which so short a time had brought about.
"Well, Margaret," said he, "isn't this wondherful, dear? look at the
comfort we have now about us, and think of—; but troth I don't like
to think of it at all."
"I never can," she replied, "without a troubled and a sinkin' heart; but,
Art, don't you remember when I wanst wished you to become a Teetotaller,
the answer you made me?"
"May be I do; what was it?"
"Why, you axed me—and you were makin' game of it at the time—whether
Teetotallism would put a shirt or a coat to your back—a house over
your head—give you a bed to lie on, or blankets to keep you and the
childre from shiverin', an' coughin', an' barkin' in the could of the
night? Don't you remember sayin' this?"
"I think I do; ay, I remember something about it now. Didn't I say that
whiskey was my coach an' my carriage, an' that it made me a lord?"
"You did; well, now what do you say? Hasn't Teetotallism bate you in your
own argument? Hasn't it given you a shirt an' a coat to your back, a good
bed to lie on, a house over your head? In short, now, Art, hasn't it given
you all you said, an' more than ever you expected? eh, now?"
"I give in, Margaret—you have me there; but," he proceeded, "it's
not every man could pull himself up as I did; eh?"
"Oh, for God's sake, Art, don't begin to put any trust in your own mere
strength, nor don't be boasting of what you did, the way you do; sure, we
ought always to be very humble and thankful to God for what he has done
for us; is there anything comes to us only through him?"
"I'm takin' no pride to myself," said Art, "divil a taste; but this I
know, talk as you will, there's always somethin' in the ould blood."
"Now, Art," she replied, smiling, "do you know I could answer you on that
subject if I liked?"
"You could," said Art; "come, then, let us hear your answer—come now—ha,
She became grave, but complacent, as she spoke. "Well, then, Art," said
she, "where was the ould blood when you fell so low? If it was the ould
blood that riz you up, remember it was the ould blood that put you down.
You drank more whiskey," she added, "upon the head of the ould blood of
Ireland, and the great Fermanagh Maguires, than you did on all other
subjects put together. No, Art dear, let us not trust to ould blood or
young blood, but let us trust to the grace o' God, an' ax it from our
"Well, but arn't we in great comfort now?"
"We are," she replied, "thank the Giver of all good for it; may God
continue it to us, and grant it to last!"
"Last! why wouldn't it last, woman alive? Well, begad, after all, 'tis not
every other man, any way—"
"Whisht, now," said Margaret, interrupting him, "you're beginnin' to
"Well, I won't then; I'm going down the town to have a glass or two o'
cordial wid young Tom Whiskey, in Barney Scaddhan's."
"Art," she replied, somewhat solemnly, "the very name of Barney Scaddhan
sickens me. I know we ought to forgive every one, as we hope to be
forgiven ourselves; but still, Art, if I was in your shoes, the sorra foot
ever I'd put inside his door. Think of the way he trated you; ah, Art
acushla, where's the pride of the ould blood now?"
"Hut, woman, divil a one o' me ever could keep in bad feelin' to any one.
Troth, Barney of late's as civil a crature as there's alive; sure what you
spake of was all my own fault and not his; I'll be back in an hour or so."
"Well," said his wife, "there's one thing, Art, that every one knows."
"What is that, Margaret?"
"Why, that a man's never safe in bad company."
"But sure, what harm can they do me, when we drink nothing that can injure
"Well, then," said she, "as that's the case, can't you as well stay with
good company as bad?"
"I'll not be away more than an hour."
"Then, since you will go, Art, listen to me; you'll be apt to meet Toal
Finnigan there; now, as you love me and your childre, an' as you wish to
avoid evil and misfortune, don't do any one thing that he proposes to you:
I've often tould you that he's your bitterest enemy."
"I know you did; but sure, wanst a woman takes a pick (pique) aginst a man
she'll never forgive him. In about an hour mind." He then went out.
The fact is, that some few of those who began to feel irksome under the
Obligation—by which I mean the knaves and hypocrites, for it is not
to be supposed that among such an incredible multitude as joined the
movement there were none of this description—some few, I say, were
in the habit of resorting to Barney Scaddhan's for the social purpose of
taking a glass of the true Teetotal cordial together. This drinking of
cordial was most earnestly promoted by the class of low and dishonest
publicans whom we have already described, and no wonder that it was so; in
the first place, it's sale is more profitable than that of whiskey itself,
and, in the second place, these fellows know by experience that it is the
worst enemy that teetolism has, very few having ever strongly addicted
themselves to cordial, who do not ultimately break the pledge, and resume
the use of intoxicating liquor. This fact was well known at the time, for
Father Costelloe, who did every thing that man could do to extend and
confirm the principle of temperance, had put his parishioners on their
guard against the use of this deleterious trash. Consequently, very few of
the Ballykeerin men, either in town or parish, would taste it; when they
stood in need of anything to quench their thirst, or nourish them, they
confined themselves to water, milk, or coffee. Scarcely any one,
therefore, with the exception of the knaves and hypocrites, tampered with
themselves by drinking it.
The crew whom Art went to meet on the night in question consisted of about
half a dozen, who, when they had been in the habit of drinking whiskey,
were hardened and unprincipled men—profligates in every sense—fellows
that, like Toal Finnigan, now adhered to teetotalism from sordid motives
only, or, in other words, because they thought they could improve their
business by it. It is true, they were suspected and avoided by the honest
teetotallers, who wondered very much that Art Maguire, after the treatment
he had formerly received at their hands, should be mean enough, they said,
ever "to be hail fellow well met" with them again. But Art, alas! in spite
of all his dignity of old blood, and his rodomontade about the Fermanagh
Maguires, was utterly deficient in that decent pride which makes a man
respect himself, and prevents him from committing a mean action.
For a considerable time before his arrival, there were assembled in Barney
Scaddhan's tap, Tom Whiskey, Jerry Shannon, Jack Mooney, Toal Finnigan,
and the decoy duck, young Barney Scaddhan himself, who merely became a
teetotaller that he might be able to lure his brethren in to spend their
money in drinking cordial.
"I wondher Art's not here before now," observed Tom Whiskey; "blood alive,
didn't he get on well afther joinin' the 'totallers?"
"Faix, it's a miracle," replied Jerry Shannon, "there's not a more
'spbnsible man in Ballykeerin, he has quite a Protestant look;—ha,
"Divil a sich a pest ever this house had as the same Art when he was a
blackguard," said young Scaddhan; "there was no keepin' him out of it, but
constantly spungin' upon the dacent people that wor dhrmkin' in it."
"Many a good pound and penny he left you for all that, Barney, my lad,"
said Mooney; "and purty tratement you gave him when his money was gone."
"Ay, an' we'd give you the same," returned Scaddhan, "if your's was gone,
too; ha, ha, ha! it's not moneyless vagabones we want here."
"No," said Shannon, "you first make them moneyless vagabones, an' then you
kick them out o' doors, as you did him."
"Exactly," said the hardened miscreant, "that's the way we live; when we
get the skin off the cat, then we throw out the carcass."
"Why, dang it, man," said Whiskey, "would you expect honest Barney here,
or his still honester ould rip of a father, bad as they are, to give us
drink for nothing?"
"Now," said Finnigan, who had not yet spoken, "yez are talkin' about Art
Maguire, and I'll tell yez what I could do; I could bend my finger that
way, an' make him folly me over the parish."
"And how could you do that?" asked Whiskey.
"By soodherin' him—by ticklin' his empty pride—by dwellin' on
the ould blood of Ireland, the great Fermanagh Maguires—or by
tellin' him that he's betther than any one else, and could do what nobody
"Could you make him drunk to-night?" asked Shannon.
"Ay," said Toal, "an' will, too, as ever you seen him in your lives; only
whin I'm praisin' him do some of you oppose me, an' if I propose any thing
to be done, do you all either support me in it, or go aginst me, accordin'
as you see he may take it."
"Well, then," said Mooney, "in ordher to put you in spirits, go off,
Barney, an' slip a glass o' whiskey a piece into this cordial, jist to
tighten it a bit—ha, ha, ha!"
"Ay," said Tom Whiskey, "till we dhrink success to teetotalism, ha, ha,
"Suppose you do him in the cordial," said Shannon.
"Never mind," replied Toal; "I'll first soften him a little on the
cordial, and then make him tip the punch openly and before faces, like a
"Troth, it's a sin," observed Moonoy, who began to disrelish the project;
"if it was only on account of his wife an' childre."
Toal twisted his misshapen mouth into still greater deformity at this
"Well," said he, "no matter, it'll only be a good joke; Art is a dacent
fellow, and afther this night we won't repate it. Maybe," he continued "I
may find it necessary to vex him, an' if I do, remember you won't let him
get at me, or my bread's baked."
This they all promised, and the words were scarcely concluded, when Art
entered and joined them. As a great portion of their conversation did not
bear upon the subject matter of this narrative, it is therefore
unnecessary to record it. After about two hours, during which Art had
unconsciously drunk at least three glasses of whiskey, disguised in
cordial, the topic artfully introduced by Toal was the Temperance
"As for my part," said he, "I'm half ashamed that I ever joined it. As I
was never drunk, where was the use of it? Besides, it's an unmanly thing
for any one to have it to say that he's not able to keep himself sober,
barrin' he takes an oath, or the pledge."
"And why did you take it then?" said Art.
"Bekaise I was a fool," replied Toal; "devil a thing else."
"It's many a good man's case," observed Art in reply, "to take an oath
against liquor, or a pledge aither, an' no disparagement to any man that
"He's a betther man that can keep himself sober widout it," said Toal
"What do you mane by a betther man?" asked Art, somewhat significantly;
"let us hear that first, Toal."
"Don't be talking' about betther men here," said Jerry Shannon; "I tell
you, Toal, there's a man in this room, and when you get me a betther man
in the town of Ballykeerin, I'll take a glass of punch wid you, or a pair
o' them, in spite of all the pledges in Europe!"
"And who is that, Jerry," said Toal.
"There he sits," replied Jerry, putting his extended palm upon Art's
shoulder and clapping it.
"May the divil fly away wid you," replied Toal; "did you think me a manus,
that I'd go to put Art Maguire wid any man that I know? Art Maguire
indeed! Now, Jerry, my throoper, do you think I'm come to this time o'
day, not to know that there's no man in Ballykeerin, or the parish it
stands in—an' that's a bigger word—that could be called a
betther man that Art Maguire?"
"Come, boys," said Art, "none of your nonsense. Sich as I am, be the same
good or bad, I'll stand the next trate, an' devilish fine strong cordial
"Why, then, I don't think myself it's so good," replied young Scaddhan;
"troth it's waiker than we usually have it; an' the taste somehow isn't
exactly to my plaisin'."
"Very well," said Art; "if you have any that 'ill plaise yourself betther,
get it; but in the mane time bring us a round o' this, an' we'll be
"Art Maguire," Toal proceeded, "you were ever and always a man out o' the
"Now, Toal, you're beginnin'," said Art; "ha, ha, ha—well, any way,
how is that!"
"Bekaise the divil a taste o' fear or terror ever was in your
constitution. When Art, boys, was at school—sure he an' I wor
schoolfellows—if he tuck a thing into his head, no matter what, jist
out of a whim, he'd do it, if the divil was at the back door, or the whole
world goin' to stop him."
"Throth, Toal, I must say there's a great deal o' thruth in that. Divil a
one livin' knows me betther than Toal Finigan, sure enough, boys."
"Arra, Art, do you remember the day you crossed the weir, below Tom
Booth's," pursued Toal, "when the river was up, and the wather jist
intherin' your mouth?"
"That was the day Peggy Booth fainted, when she thought I was gone; begad,
an' I was near it."
"The very day."
"That may be all thrue enough," observed Tom Whiskey; "still I think I
know Art this many a year, and I can't say I ever seen any of these great
doing's. I jist seen him as aisy put from a thing, and as much afeard of
the tongues of the nabors, or of the world, as another."
"He never cared a damn for either o' them, for all that," returned Toal;
"that is, mind, if he tuck a thing into his head; ay, an' I'll go farther—divil
a rap ever he cared for them, one way or other. No, the man has no fear of
any kind in him."
"Why, Toal," said Mooney, "whether he cares for them or not, I think is
aisily decided; and whether he's the great man you make him. Let us hear
what he says himself upon it, and then we'll know."
"Very well, then," replied Toal; "what do you say yourself, Art? Am I
right, or am I wrong?"
"You're right, Toal, sure enough; if it went to that, I don't care a curse
about the world, or all Ballykeerin along wid it. I've a good business,
and can set the world at defiance. If the people didn't want me, they
wouldn't come to me."
"Come, Toal," said Jerry; "here—I'll hould you a pound note"—and
lie pulled out one as he spoke—"that I'll propose a thing he won't
"Aha—thank you for nothing, my customer—I won't take that
bait," replied the other; "but listen—is it a thing that he can do?"
"It is," replied Jerry; "and what's more, every man in the room can do it,
as well as Art, if he wishes."
"Here," said Toal, clapping down his pound. "Jack Mooney, put these in
your pocket till this matther's decided. Now, Jerry, let us hear it."
"I will;—he won't drink two tumblers of punch, runnin'; that is, one
afther the other."
"No," observed Art, "I will not; do you want me to break the pledge?"
"Sure," said Jerry, "this is not breaking the pledge—it's only for a
"No matther," said Art; "it's a thing I won't do."
"I'll tell you what, Jerry," said Toal, "I'll hould you another pound now,
that I do a thing to-night that Art won't do; an' that, like your own
wager, every one in the room can do."
"Done," said the other, taking out the pound note, and placing it in
Mooney's hand—Toal following his example.
"Scaddhan," said Toal, "go an' bring me two tumblers of good strong punch.
I'm a Totaller as well as Art, boys. Be off, Scaddhan."
"By Japers," said Tom Whiskey, as if to himself—looking at the same
time as if he were perfectly amazed at the circumstance—"the little
fellow has more spunk than Maguire, ould blood an' all! Oh, holy Moses;
afther that, what will the world come to!"
Art heard the soliloquy of Whiskey, and looked about him with an air of
peculiar meaning. His pride—his shallow, weak, contemptible pride,
was up, while the honest pride that is never separated from firmness and
integrity, was cast aside and forgotten. Scaddhan came in, and placing the
two tumblers before Toal, that worthy immediately emptied first one of
them, and then the other.
"The last two pounds are yours," said Jerry; "Mooney, give them to him."
Art, whose heart was still smarting under the artful soliloquy of Tom
Whiskey, now started to his feet, and exclaimed—
"No, Jerry, the money's not his yet. Barney, bring in two tumblers. What
one may do another may do; and as Jerry says, why it's only for a wager.
At any rate, for one o' my blood was never done out, and never will."
"By Japers," said Whiskey, "I knew he wouldn't let himself be bate. I knew
when it came to the push he wouldn't."
"Well, Barney," said Toal, "don't make them strong for him, for they might
get into his head; he hasn't a good head anyway—let them be rather
"No," said Art, "let them be as strong as his, and stronger, Barney; and
lose no time about it."
"I had better color them," said Barney, "an' the people about the place
'll think it's cordial still."
"Color the devil," replied Art; "put no colorin' on them. Do you think I'm
afeard of any one, or any colors?"
"You afeard of any one," exclaimed Tom Whiskey; "one o' the ould Maguires
afeard! ha, ha, ha!—that 'ud be good!"
Art, when the tumblers came in, drank off first one, which he had no
sooner emptied, than he shivered into pieces against the grate; he then
emptied the other, which shared the same fate.
"Now," said he to Barney, "bring me a third one; I'll let yez see what a
The third, on making its appearance, was immediately drained, and shivered
like the others—for the consciousness of acting-wrong, in spite of
his own resolution, almost drove him mad. Of what occurred subsequently in
the public house, it is not necessary to give any account, especially as
we must follow Art home—simply premising, before we do so, that the
fact of "Art Maguire having broken the pledge," had been known that very
night to almost all Ballykeerin—thanks to the industry of Toal
Finnigan, and his other friends.
His unhappy wife, after their conversation that evening, experienced one
of those strange, unaccountable presentiments or impressions which every
one, more or less, has frequently felt. Until lately, he had not often
gone out at night, because it was not until lately that the clique began
to reassemble in Barney Scaddhan's. 'Tis true the feeling on her part was
involuntary, but on that very account it was the more distressing; her
principal apprehension of danger to him was occasioned by his intimacy
with Toal Finnigan, who, in spite of all her warnings and admonitions,
contrived, by the sweetness of his tongue, to hold his ground with him,
and maintain his good opinion. Indeed, any one who could flatter, wheedle,
and play upon his vanity successfully, was sure to do this; but nobody
could do it with such adroitness as Toal Finnigan.
It is wonderful how impressions are caught by the young from those who are
older and have more experience than themselves. Little Atty, who had heard
the conversation already detailed, begged his mammy not to send him to bed
that night until his father would come home, especially as Mat Mulrennan,
an in-door apprentice, who had been permitted that evening to go to see
his family, had not returned, and he wished, he said, to sit up and let
him in. The mother was rather satisfied than otherwise, that the boy
should sit up with her, especially as all the other children and the
servants had gone to bed.
"Mammy," said the boy, "isn't it a great comfort for us to be as we are
now, and to know that my father can never get drunk again?"
"It is indeed, Atty;" and yet she said so; with a doubting, if not an
"He'll never beat you more, mammy, now?"
"No, darlin'; nor he never did, barrin' when he didn't know what he was
"That is when he was drunk, mammy?"
"Yes, Atty dear."
"Well, isn't it a great thing that he can never get drunk any more, mammy;
and never beat you any more; and isn't it curious too, how he never bate
"You, darlin'? oh, no, he would rather cut his arm off than rise it to
you, Atty dear; and it's well that you are so good a boy as you are—for
I'm afeard, Atty, that even if you deserved to be corrected, he wouldn't
"But what 'ud we all do widout my father, mammy? If anything happened to
him I think I'd die. I'd like to die if he was to go."
"Bekase, you know, he'd go to heaven, and I'd like to be wid him; sure
he'd miss me—his own Atty—wherever he'd be."
"And so you'd lave me and your sisters, Atty, and go to heaven with your
The boy seemed perplexed; he looked affectionately at his mother, and said—
"No, mammy, I wouldn't wish to lave you, for then you'd have no son at
all; no, I wouldn't lave you—I don't know what I'd do—I'd like
to stay wid you, and I'd like to go wid him, I'd—"
"Well, darlin', you won't be put to that trial this many a long day, I
Just then voices were heard at the door, which both recognized as those of
Art and Mat Mulrennan the apprentice.
"Now, darlin'," said the mother, who observed that the child was pale and
drowsy-looking, "you may go to bed, I see you are sleepy, Atty, not bein'
accustomed to sit up so late; kiss me, an' good-night." He then kissed
her, and sought the room where he slept.
Margaret, after the boy had gone, listened a moment, and became deadly
pale, but she uttered no exclamation; on the contrary, she set her teeth,
and compressed her lips closely together, put her hand on the upper part
of her forehead, and rose to go to the door. She was not yet certain, but
a dreadful terror was over her—Could it be possible that he was
drunk?—she opened it, and the next moment her husband, in a state of
wild intoxication, different from any in which she had ever seen him, come
in. He was furious, but his fury appeared to have been directed against
the apprentice, in consequence of having returned home so late.
On witnessing with her own eyes the condition in which he returned, all
her presentiments flashed on her, and her heart sank down into a state of
instant hopelessness and misery.
"Savior of the world!" she exclaimed, "I and my childre are lost; now,
indeed, are we hopeless—oh, never till now, never till now!" She
"What are you cryin' for now?" said he; "what are you cryin' for, I say?"
he repeated, stamping his feet madly as he spoke; "stop at wanst, I'll
have no cry—cryin' what—at—somever."
She instantly dried her eyes.
"Wha—what kep that blasted whelp, Mul—Mulrennan, out till now,
"I don't know indeed, Art."
"You—you don't! you kno—know noth-in'; An' now I'll have a
smash, by the—the holy man, I'll—I'll smash every thing in—in
He then took up a chair, which, by one blow against the floor, he crashed
"Now," said he, "tha—that's number one; whe—where's that
whelp, Mul—Mulrennan, till I pay—pay him for stayin' out so—so
late. Send him here, send the ska-min' sco—scoundrel here, I bid
you.". Margaret, naturally dreading violence, went to get little Atty to
pacify him, as well as to intercede for the apprentice; she immediately
returned, and told him the latter was coming. Art, in the mean time, stood
a little beyond the fireplace, with a small beach chair in his hand which
he had made for Atty, when the boy was only a couple of years old, but
which had been given to the other children in succession. He had been
first about to break it also, but on looking at it, he paused and said—
"Not this—this is Atty's, and I won't break it."
At that moment Mulrennan entered the room, with Atty behind him, but he
had scarcely done so, when Art with all his strength flung the hard beach
chair at his head; the lad, naturally anxious to avoid it, started to one
side out of its way, and Atty, while in the act of stretching out his arms
to run to his father, received the blow which had been designed for the
other. It struck him a little above the temple, and he fell, but was not
cut. The mother, on witnessing the act, raised her arms and shrieked, but
on hearing the heavy, but dull and terrible sound of the blow against the
poor boy's head, the shriek was suspended when half uttered, and she
stood, her arms still stretched out, and bent a little upwards, as if she
would have supplicated heaven to avert it;—her mouth was half open—her
eyes apparently enlarged, and starting as if it were out of their sockets;
there she stood—for a short time so full of horror as to be
incapable properly of comprehending what had taken place. At length this
momentary paralysis of thought passed away, and with all the tender
terrors of affection awakened in her heart, she rushed to the insensible
boy. Oh, heavy and miserable night! What pen can portray, what language
describe, or what imagination conceive, the anguish, the agony of that
loving mother, when, on raising her sweet, and beautiful, and most
affectionate boy from the ground whereon he lay, that fair head, with its
flaxen locks like silk, fell utterly helpless now to this side, and now to
"Art Maguire," she said, "fly, fly,"—and she gave him one look; but,
great God! what an object presented itself to her at that moment. A man
stood before her absolutely hideous with horror; his face but a minute ago
so healthy and high-colored, now ghastly as that of a corpse, his hands
held up and clenched, his eyes frightful, his lips drawn back, and his
teeth locked with strong and convulsive agony. He uttered not a word, but
stood with his wild and gleaming eyes riveted, as if by the force of some
awful spell, upon his insensible son, his only one, if he was then even
that. All at once he fell down without sense or motion, as if a bullet had
gone through his heart or his brain, and there lay as insensible as the
boy he had loved so well.
All this passed so rapidly that the apprentice, who seemed also to have
been paralyzed, had not presence of mind to do any thing but look from one
person to another with terror and alarm.
"Go," said Margaret, at length, "wake up the girls, and then fly—oh,
fly—for the doctor."
The two servant maids, however, had heard enough in her own wild shriek to
bring them to this woful scene. They entered as she spoke, and, aided by
the apprentice, succeeded with some difficulty in laying their master on
his bed, which was in a back room off the parlor.
"In God's name, what is all this?" asked one of them, on looking at the
insensible bodies of the father and son.
"Help me," Margaret replied, not heeding the question, "help me to lay the
treasure of my heart—my breakin' heart—upon his own little bed
within, he will not long use it—tendherly, Peggy, oh, Peggy dear,
tendherly to the broken flower—broken—broken—broken,
never to rise his fair head again; oh, he is dead," she said, in a calm
low voice, "my heart tells me that he is dead—see how his limbs
hang, how lifeless they hang. My treasure—our treasure—our
sweet, lovin', and only little man—our only son sure—our only
son is dead—and where, oh, where, is the mother's pride out of him
now—where is my pride out of him now?"
They laid him gently and tenderly—for even the servants loved him as
if he had been a relation—upon the white counterpane of his own
little crib, where he had slept many a sweet and innocent sleep, and
played many a lightsome and innocent play with his little sisters. His
mother felt for his pulse, but she could feel no pulse, she kissed his
passive lips, and then—oh, woful alternative of affliction!—she
turned to his equally insensible father.
"Oh, ma'am," said one of the girls, who had gone over to look at Art; "oh,
for God's sake, ma'am, come here—here is blood comin' out of the
She was at the bedside in an instant, and there, to deepen her sufferings
almost beyond the power of human fortitude, she saw the blood oozing
slowly out of his mouth. Both the servants were now weeping and sobbing as
if their hearts would break.
"Oh, mistress dear," one of them exclaimed, seizing her affectionately by
both hands, and looking almost distractedly into her face, "oh, mistress
dear, what did you ever do to desarve this?"
"I don't know, Peggy," she replied, "unless it was settin' my father's
commands, and my mother's at defiance; I disobeyed them both, and they
died without blessin' either me or mine. But oh," she said, clasping her
hands, "how can one poor wake woman's heart stand all this—a double
death—husband and son—son and husband—and I'm but one
woman, one poor, feeble, weak woman—but sure," she added, dropping
on her knees, "the Lord will support me. I am punished, and I hope
forgiven, and he will now support me."
She then briefly, but distractedly, entreated the divine support, and rose
once more with a heart, the fibres of which were pulled asunder, as it
were, between husband and son, each of whose lips she kissed, having wiped
the blood from those of her husband, with a singular blending together of
tenderness, distraction and despair. She went from the one to the other,
wringing her hands in dry agony, feeling for life in their hearts and
pulses, and kissing their lips with an expression of hopelessness so
pitiable and mournful, that the grief of the servants was occasioned more
by her sufferings than by the double catastrophe that had occurred.
The doctor's house, as it happened, was not far from theirs, and in a very
brief period he arrived.
"Heavens! Mrs. Maguire, what has happened?" said he, looking on the two
apparently inanimate bodies with alarm.
"His father," she said, pointing to the boy, "being in a state of drink,
threw a little beech chair at the apprentice here, he stepped aside, as
was natural, and the blow struck my treasure there," she said, holding her
hand over the spot where he was struck, but not on it; "but, doctor, look
at his father, the blood is trickling out of his mouth."
The doctor, after examining into the state of both, told her not to
"Your husband," said he, "who is only in a fit, has broken a blood-vessel,
I think some small blood-vessel is broken; but as for the boy, I can as
yet pronounce no certain opinion upon him. It will be a satisfaction to
you, however, to know that he is not dead, but only in a heavy stupor
occasioned by the blow."
It was now that her tears began to flow, and copiously and bitterly they
did flow; but as there was still hope, her grief, though bitter, was not
that of despair. Ere many minutes, the doctor's opinion respecting one of
them, at least, was verified. Art opened his eyes, looked wildly about
him, and the doctor instantly signed to his wife to calm the violence of
her sorrow, and she was calm.
"Margaret," said he, "where's Atty? bring him to me—bring him to
"Your son was hurt," replied the doctor, "and has just gone to sleep."
"He is dead," said Art, "he is dead, he will never waken from that sleep—and
it was I that killed him!"
"Don't disturb yourself," said the doctor, "as you value your own life and
his; you yourself have broken a blood-vessel, and there is nothing for you
now but quiet and ease."
"He is dead," said his father, "he is dead, and it was I that killed him;
or, if he's not dead, I must hear it from his mother's lips."
"Art, darlin', he is not dead, but he is very much hurted," she replied;
"Art, as you love him, and me, and us all, be guided by the doctor."
"He is not dead," said the doctor; "severely hurt he is, but not dead. Of
that you may rest assured."
So far as regarded Art, the doctor was right; he had broken only a small
blood vessel, and the moment the consequences of his fit had passed away,
he was able to get up, and walk about with very little diminution of his
To prevent him from seeing his son, or to conceal the boy's state from
him, was impossible. He no sooner rose than with trembling hands, a
frightful terror of what was before him, he went to the little bed on
which the being dearest to him on earth lay. He stood for a moment, and
looked down upon the boy's beautiful, but motionless face; he first
stooped, and putting his mouth to the child's ear said—
"Atty, Atty"—he then shook his head; "you see," he added, addressing
those who stood about him, "that he doesn't hear me—no, he doesn't
hear me—that ear was never deaf to me before, but it's deaf now;" he
then seized his hand, and raised it, but it was insensible to his touch,
and would have fallen on the bed had he let it go. "You see," he
proceeded, "that his hand doesn't know mine any longer! Oh, no, why should
it? this is the hand that laid our flower low, so why should he
acknowledge it? yet surely he would forgive his father, if he knew it—oh,
he would forgive that father, that ever and always loved him—loved
him—loved him, oh, that's a wake word, a poor wake word. Well," he
went on, "I will kiss his lips, his blessed lips—oh, many an' many a
kiss, many a sweet and innocent kiss—did I get from them lips, Atty
dear, with those little arms, that are now so helpless, clasped about my
neck." He then kissed him again and again, but the blessed child's lips
did not return the embrace that had never been refused before. "Now," said
he, "you all see that—you all see that he won't kiss me again, and
that is bekaise he can't do it; Atty, Atty," he said, "won't you speak to
me? it's I, Atty, sure it's I, Atty dear, your lovin' father, that's
callin' you to spake to him. Atty dear, won't you spake to me—do you
hear my voice, asthore machree—do you hear your father's
voice, that's callin' on you to forgive him?" He paused for a short time,
but the child lay insensible and still.
At this moment there was no dry eye present; the very doctor wept.
Margaret's grief was loud; she felt every source of love and tenderness
for their only boy opened in her unhappy and breaking heart, and was
inconsolable: but then compassion for her husband was strong as her grief.
She ran to Art, she flung her arms about his neck, and exclaimed—
"Oh, Art dear, Art dear, be consoled: take consolation if you can, or you
will break my heart. Forgive you asthore! you, you that would shed your
blood for him! don't you know he would forgive you? Sure, I forgive you—his
mother, his poor, distracted, heart-broken mother forgives you—in
his name I forgive you." She then threw herself beside the body of their
child, and shouted out—"Atty, our blessed treasure, I have forgiven
your father for you—in your blessed name, and in the name of the
merciful God that you are now with, I have forgiven your unhappy find
heart-broken father—as you would do, if you could, our lost
treasure, as you would do."
"Oh," said his father vehemently distracted with his horrible affliction;
"if there was but any one fault of his that I could remimber now, any one
failin' that our treasure had—if I could think of a single spot upon
his little heart, it would relieve me; but, no, no, there's nothin' of
that kind to renumber aginst him. Oh, if he wasn't what he was—if he
wasn't what he was—we might have some little consolation; but now
we've none; we've none—none!"
As he spoke and wept, which he did with the bitterest anguish of despair,
his grief assumed a character that was fearful from the inward effusion of
blood, which caused him from time to time to throw it up in red mouthfuls,
and when remonstrated with by the doctor upon the danger of allowing
himself to be overcome by such excitement—
"I don't care," he shouted, "if it's my heart's blood, I would shed it at
any time for him; I don't care about life now; what 'ud it be to me
without my son? widout you, Atty dear, what is the world or all that's in
it to me now! An' when I think of who it was that cut you down—cursed
be the hand that gave you that unlucky blow, cursed may it be—cursed
be them that tempted me to drink—cursed may the drink be that made
me as I was, and cursed of God may I be that—"
"Art, Art," exclaimed Margaret, "any thing but that, remember there's a
God above—don't blasphame;—we have enough to suffer widout
havin' to answer for that."
He paused at her words, and as soon as the paroxysm was over, he sunk by
fits into a gloomy silence, or walked from room to room, wringing his
hands and beating his head, in a state of furious distraction, very nearly
bordering on insanity.
The next morning, we need scarcely assure our readers, that, as the
newspapers have it, a great and painful sensation had been produced
through the town of Bally-keerin by the circumstances which we have
"Art Maguire had broken the pledge, gone home drunk, and killed his only
son by the blow of an iron bar on the, head; the crowner had been sent
for, an' plaise God we'll have a full account of it all."
In part of this, however, common fame, as she usually is, was mistaken;
the boy was not killed, neither did he then die. On the third day, about
eight o'clock in the evening, he opened his eyes, and his mother, who was
scarcely ever a moment from his bedside, having observed the fact,
approached him with hopes almost as deep as those of heaven itself in her
heart, and in a voice soft and affectionate as ever melted into a human
"Atty, treasure of my heart, how do you feel?"
The child made no reply, but as his eye had not met hers, and as she had
whispered very low, it was likely, she thought, that he had not heard her.
"I will bring his father," said she, "for if he will know or spake to any
one, he will, spake to him."
She found Art walking about, as he had done almost ever since the unhappy
accident, and running to him with a gush of joyful tears, she threw her
arms about his neck, and kissing him, said—
"Blessed be the Almighty, Art—" but she paused, "oh, great God, Art,
what is this! merciful heaven, do I smell whiskey on you?"
"You do," he replied, "it's in vain, I can't live—I'd die widout it;
it's in vain, Margaret, to spake—if I don't get it to deaden my
grief I'll die: but, what wor you goin' to tell me?" he added eagerly.
She burst into tears.
"Oh, Art," said she, "how my heart has sunk in spite of the good news I
have for you."
"In God's name," he asked, "what is it? is our darlin' betther?"
"He is," she replied, "he has opened his eyes this minute, and I want you
to spake to him."
They both entered stealthily, and to their inexpressible delight heard the
child's voice; they paused,—breathlessly paused,—and heard him
utter, in a low sweet voice, the following words—
"Daddy, won't you come to bed wid me, wid your own Atty?"
This he repeated twice or thrice before they approached him, but when they
did, although his eye turned from one to another, it was vacant, and
betrayed no signs whatsoever of recognition.
Their hearts sank again, but the mother, whose hope was strong and active
as her affection, said—
"Blessed be the Almighty that he is able even to spake but he's not well
enough to know us yet."
This was unhappily too true, for although they spoke to him, and placed
themselves before him by turns, yet it was all in vain; the child knew
neither them nor any one else. Such, in fact, was now their calamity, as a
few weeks proved. The father by that unhappy blow did not kill his body,
but he killed his mind; he arose from his bed a mild, placid, harmless
idiot, silent and inoffensive—the only words he was almost heard to
utter, with rare exceptions, being those which had been in his mind when
he was dealt the woful blow:—"Daddy, won't you come to bed wid me,
wid your own Atty?" And these he pronounced as correctly as ever, uttering
them with the same emphasis of affection which had marked them before his
early reason had been so unhappily destroyed. Now, even up to that period,
and in spite of this great calamity, it was not too late for Art Maguire
to retrieve himself, or still to maintain the position which he had
regained. The misfortune which befell his child ought to have shocked him
into an invincible detestation of all intoxicating liquors, as it would
most men; instead of that, however, it drove him back to them. He had
contracted a pernicious habit of diminishing the importance of first
errors, because they appeared trivial in themselves; he had never
permitted himself to reason against his propensities, unless through the
indulgent medium of his own vanity, or an overweening presumption in the
confidence of his moral strength, contrary to the impressive experience of
his real weakness. His virtues were many, and his foibles few; yet few as
they were, our readers perceive that, in consequence of his indulging
them, they proved the bane of his life and happiness. They need not be
surprised, then, to hear that from the want of any self-sustaining power
in himself he fell into the use of liquor again; he said he could not live
without it, but then he did not make the experiment; for he took every
sophistry that appeared to make in his favor for granted. He lived, if it
could be called life, for two years and a half after this melancholy
accident, but without the spring or energy necessary to maintain his
position, or conduct his business, which declined as rapidly as he did
himself. He and his family were once more reduced to absolute beggary,
until in the course of events they found a poorhouse to receive them. Art
was seldom without a reason to justify his conduct, and it mattered not
how feeble that reason might be, he always deemed it sufficiently strong
to satisfy himself. For instance, he had often told his wife that if Atty
had recovered, sound in body and mind, he had determined never again to
taste liquor; "but," said he, "when I seen my darlin's mind gone, I
couldn't stand it widout the drop of drink to keep my heart an' spirits
up." He died of consumption in the workhouse of Ballykeerin, and there
could not be a stronger proof of the fallacy with which he reasoned than
the gratifying fact, that he had not been more than two months dead, when
his son recovered his reason, to the inexpressible joy of his mother; so
that had he followed up his own sense of what was right, he would have
lived to see his most sanguine wishes, with regard to his son,
accomplished, and perhaps have still been able to enjoy a comparatively
long and happy life.
On the morning of the day on which he died, although not suffering much
from pain, he seemed to feel an impression that his end was at hand. It is
due to him to say here, that he had for months before his death been
deeply and sincerely penitent, and that he was not only sensible of the
vanity and errors which had occasioned his fall from integrity, and cut
him off in the prime of life, but also felt his heart sustained by the
divine consolations of religion. Father Costello was earnest and
unremitting in his spiritual attentions to him, and certainly had the
gratification of knowing that he felt death to be in his case not merely a
release from all his cares and sorrows, but a passport into that life
where the weary are at rest.
About twelve o'clock in the forenoon he asked to see his wife—his
own Margaret—and his children, but, above all, his blessed Atty—for
such was the epithet he had ever annexed to his name since the night of
the melancholy accident. In a few minutes the sorrowful group appeared,
his mother leading the unconscious boy by the hand, for he knew not where
he was. Art lay, or rather reclined, on the bed, supported by two
bolsters; his visage was pale, but the general expression of his face was
calm, mild, and sorrowful; although his words were distinct, his voice was
low and feeble, and every now and then impeded by a short catch—for
to cough he was literally unable.
"Margaret," said he, "come to me, come to me now," and he feebly received
her hand in his; "I feel that afther all the warfare of this poor life,
afther all our love and our sorrow, I am goin' to part wid you and our
childhre at last."
"Oh, Art, darlin', I can think of nothing now, asthore, but our love," she
replied, bursting into a flood of tears, in which she was joined by the
children—Atty, the unconscious Atty, only excepted.
"An' I can think of little else," said he, "than our sorrows and
sufferins, an' all the woful evil that I brought upon you and them."
"Darlin'," she replied, "it's a consolation to yourself, as it is to us,
that whatever your errors wor, you've repented for them; death is not
frightful to you, glory be to God!"
"No," said he, looking upwards, and clasping his worn hands; "I am
resigned to the will of my good and merciful God, for in him is my hope
an' trust. Christ, by his precious blood, has taken away my sins, for you
know I have been a great sinner;" he then closed his eyes for a few
minutes, but his lips were moving as if in prayer. "Yes, Margaret," he
again proceeded, "I am goin' to lave you all at last; I feel it—I
can't say that I'll love you no more, for I think that even in heaven I
couldn't forget you; but I'll never more lave you a sore heart, as I often
did—I'll never bring the bitther tear to your eye—the hue of
care to your face, or the pang of grief an' misery to your heart again—thank
God I will not; all my follies, all my weaknesses, and all my crimes—"
"Art," said his wife, wringing her hands, and sobbing as if her heart
would break, "if you wish me to be firm, and to set our childre an example
of courage, now that it's so much wanted, oh, don't spake as you do—my
heart cannot stand it."
"Well, no," said he, "I won't; but when I think of what I might be this
day, and of what I am—when I think of what you and our childre might
be—an' when I see what you are—and all through my means—when
I think of this, Margaret dear, an' that I'm torn away from you and them
in the very prime of life—but," he added, turning hastily from that
view of his situation, "God is good an' merciful, an' that is my hope."
"Let it be so, Art dear," replied Margaret; "as for us, God will take care
of us, and in him we will put our trust, too; remimber that he is the God
and father of the widow an' the orphan."
He here appeared to be getting very weak, but in a minute or two he
rallied a little, and said, while his eye, which was now becoming heavy,
sought about until it became fixed upon his son—
"Margaret, bring him to me."
She took the boy by the hand, and led him over to the bedside.
"Put his hand in mine," said he, "put his blessed hand in mine."
She did so, and Art looked long and steadily upon the face of his child.
"Margaret," said he, "you know that durin' all my wild and sinful coorses,
I always wore the lock of hair you gave me when we wor young next my heart—my
poor weak heart."
Margaret buried her face in her hands, and for some time could not reply.
"I don't wish, darlin'," said he, "to cause you sorrow—you will have
too much of that; but I ax it as a favor—the last from my lips—that
you will now cut off a lock of his hair—his hair fair—an' put
it along with your own upon my heart; it's all I'll have of you both in
the grave where I'll sleep; and, Margaret, do it now—oh, do it
Margaret, who always carried scissors hanging by her pocket, took them
out, and cutting a long abundant lock of the boy's hair, she tenderly
placed it where he wished, in a little three-cornered bit of black silk
that was suspended from his neck, and lay upon his heart.
"Is it done?" said he.
"It is done," she replied as well as she could!
"This, you know, is to lie on my heart," said he, "when I'm in my grave;
you won't forget that!"
"No—oh, no, no; but, merciful God, support me! for Art, my husband,
my life, I don't know how I'll part with you."
"Well, may God bless you forever, my darlin' wife, and support you and my
orphans! Bring them here."
They were then brought over, and in a very feeble voice he blessed them
"Now, forgive me all," said he, "forgive ME ALL!"
But, indeed, we cannot paint the tenderness and indescribable affliction
of his wife and children while uttering their forgiveness of all his
offences against them, as he himself termed it. In the meantime he kept
his son close by him, nor would he suffer him to go one moment from his
"Atty," said he, in a low voice, which was rapidly sinking;—"put his
cheek over to mine"—he added to his wife, "then raise my right arm,
an' put it about his neck;—Atty," he proceeded, "won't you give me
one last word before I depart?"
His wife observed that as he spoke a large tear trickled down his cheek.
Now, the boy was never in the habit of speaking when he was spoken to, or
of speaking at all, with the exception of the words we have already given.
On this occasion, however, whether the matter was a coincidence or not, it
is difficult to say, he said in a quiet, low voice, as if imitating his
"Daddy, won't you come to bed for me, for your own Atty?"
The reply was very low, but still quite audible—
"Yes, darlin', I—I will—I will for you, Atty."
The child said no more, neither did his father, and when the sorrowing
wife, struck by the stillness which for a minute or two succeeded the
words, went to remove the boy, she found that his father's spirit had gone
to that world where, we firmly trust, his errors, and follies, and sins
have been forgiven. While taking the boy away, she looked upon her
husband's face, and there still lay the large tear of love and repentance—she
stooped down—she kissed it—and it was no longer there.
There is now little to be added, unless to inform those who may take an
interest in the fate of his wife and children, that his son soon
afterwards was perfectly restored to the use of his reason, and that in
the month of last September he was apprenticed in the city of Dublin to a
respectable trade, where he is conducting himself with steadiness and
propriety; and we trust, that, should he ever read this truthful account
of his unhappy father, he will imitate his virtues, and learn to avoid the
vanities and weaknesses by which he brought his family to destitution and
misery, and himself to a premature grave. With respect to his brother
Frank, whom his irreclaimable dissipation drove out of the country, we are
able to gratify our readers by saying that he got happily married in
America, where he is now a wealthy man, in prosperous business and very
Margaret, in consequence of her admirable character, was appointed to the
situation of head nurse in the Ballykeerin Hospital, and it will not
surprise our readers to hear that she gains and retains the respect and
good-will of all who know her, and that the emoluments of her situation
are sufficient, through her prudence and economy, to keep her children
comfortable and happy.
Kind reader, is it necessary that we should recapitulate the moral we
proposed to show' in this true but melancholy narrative? We trust not. If
it be not sufficiently obvious, we can only say it was our earnest
intention that it should be so. At all events, whether you be a
Teetotaller, or a man carried away by the pernicious love of intoxicating
liquors, think upon the fate of Art Maguire, and do not imitate the errors
of his life, as you find them laid before you in this simple narrative of
"The Broken Pledge." simple narrative of "The Broken Pledge."