The Poor Scholar by William Carleton
One day about the middle of November, in the year 18—, Dominick M'Evoy
and his son Jemmy were digging potatoes on the side of a hard, barren
hill, called Esker Dhu. The day was bitter and wintry, the men
were thinly clad, and as the keen blast swept across the hill with
considerable violence, the sleet-like rain which it bore along pelted
into their garments with pitiless severity. The father had advanced
into more than middle age; and having held, at a rack-rent the miserable
waste of farm which he occupied, he was compelled to exert himself
in its cultivation, despite either obduracy of soil, or inclemency of
weather. This day, however, was so unusually severe, that the old man
began to feel incapable of continuing his toil. The son bore it better;
but whenever a cold rush of stormy rain came over them, both were
compelled to stand with their sides against it, and their heads turned,
so as that the ear almost rested back upon the shoulder in order to
throw the rain off their faces. Of each, however, that cheek which was
exposed to the rain and storm was beaten into a red hue; whilst the
other part of their faces was both pale and hunger-pinched.
The father paused to take breath, and, supported by his spade, looked
down upon the sheltered inland which, inhabited chiefly by Prostestants
and Presbyterians, lay rich and warm-looking under him.
"Why, thin," he exclaimed to the son—a lad about fifteen,—"sure I know
well I oughtn't to curse yez, anyway, you black set! an yit, the Lord
forgive me my sins, I'm almost timpted to give yez a volley, an' that
from my heart out! Look at thim, Jimmy agra—only look at the black
thieves! how warm an' wealthy they sit there in our ould possessions,
an' here we must toil till our fingers are worn to the stumps, upon this
thievin' bent. The curse of Cromwell on it!—You might as well ax the
divil for a blessin', as expect anything like a dacent crop out of
it.—Look at thim two ridges!—such a poor sthring o' praties is in
it!—one here an' one there—an' yit we must turn up the whole ridge for
that same! Well, God sind the time soon, when the right will take place,
"An' doesn't Pasthorini say it? Sure whin Twenty-five comes, we'll have
our own agin: the right will overcome the might—the bottomless pit will
be locked—ay, double: boulted, if St. Pettier gets the kays, for he's
the very boy that will accommodate the heretics wid a warm corner; an'
yit, faith, there's: many o' thim that myself 'ud put in a good word
for, affcher all."
"Throth, an' here's the same, Jimmy. There's Jack Stuart, an' if there's
a cool corner in hell, the same Jack will get it—an' that he may, I
pray Gor this day, an' amin. The Lord sind it to him! for he richly
desarves it. Kind, neighborly, and frindly, is he an' all belongin' to
him; an' I wouldn't be where a hard word 'ud be spoken of him, nor a dog
in connection wid the family ill-treated; for which reason may he get a
cool corner in hell, I humbly sufflicate."
"What do you think of Jack Taylor? Will he be cosey?"
"Throth, I doubt so—a blessed youth is Jack: yit myself 'ud hardly wish
it. He's a heerum-skeemm, divil-may-care fellow, no doubt of it, an'
laughs at the priests, which same I'm thinkin' will get him below
stairs more nor a new-milk heat, any way; but thin agin, he thrates thim
dacent, an' gives thim good dinners, an' they take all this rolliken
in good part, so that it's likely he's not in airnest in it, and surely
they ought to know best, Jimmy."
"What do you think of Yallow Sam?—honest Sam, that they say was born
widout a heart, an' carries the black wool in his ears, to keep out
the cries of the widows an' the orphans, that are long rotten in their
graves through his dark villany!—He'll get a snug birth!"*
* This was actually said of the person alluded to—a
celebrated usurer and agent to two or three estates,
who was a little deaf, and had his ears occasionally
stuffed with black wool.
"Yallow Sam," replied the old man, slowly, and a dark shade of intense
hatred blackened his weather-beaten countenance, as he looked in the
direction from which the storm blew: "'twas he left us where we're
standin', Jimmy—undher this blast, that's cowldher an' bittherer nor a
step-mother's breath, this cuttin' day! 'Twas he turned us on the wide
world, whin your poor mother was risin' out of her faver. 'Twas he
squenched the hearth, whin she wasn't able to lave the house, till I
carried her in my arms into Paddy Cassidy's—the tears fallin' from my
eyes upon her face, that I loved next to God. Didn't he give our farm to
his bastard son, a purple Orangeman? Out we went, to the winds an' skies
of heaven, bekase the rich bodagh made intherest aginst us. I tould him
whin he chated me out o' my fifteen goolden guineas, that his masther,
the landlord, should hear of it; but I could never get next or near to
him, to make my complaint. Eh? A snug birth! I'm only afeard that hell
has no corner hot enough for him—but lave that to the divil himself:
if he doesn't give him the best thratement hell can afford, why I'm not
"Divil a one o' the ould boy's so bad as they say, father; he gives it
to thim hot an' heavy, at all evints."
"Why even if he was at a loss about Sam, depind upon it, he'd get a hint
from his betthers above, that 'ud be sarviceable."
"They say he visits him as it is, an' that Sam can't sleep widout some
one in the room wid him. Dan Philips says the priest was there, an'
had a Mass in every room in the house; but Charley Mack tells me there's
no! thruth in it. He was advised to it, he says; but it seems the ould
boy has too strong ahoult of him, for Sam said he'd have the divil any
time sooner nor the priest, and its likest what he would say."
"Och, och, Jimmy, avick, I'm tir'd out! We had betther give in; the
day's too hard, an' there's no use in standin' agin the weather that's
in it. Lave the ould villain to God, who he can't chate, any way."
"Well, may our curse go along wid the rest upon him, for dhrivin' us to
sich an unnatural spot as this! Hot an' heavy, into the sowl an'
marrow of him may it penethrate. An' sure that's no more than all the
counthry's wishin' him, whether or not—not to mintion the curses that's
risin' out o' the grave agin him, loud an' piercin'!"
"God knows it's not slavin' yourself on sich a day as this you'd be,
only for him. Had we kep our farm, you'd be now well an in your larnin'
for a priest—an' there 'ud be one o' the family sure to be a gintleman,
anyhow; but that's gone too, agra. Look at the smoke, how comfortable
it rises from Jack Sullivan's, where the priest has a Station to-day.
'Tisn't fishin' for a sthray pratie he is, upon a ridge like this. But
it can't be helped; an' God's will be done! Not himself!—faix, it's
he that'll get the height of good thratement, an' can ride home, well
lined, both inside an' outside. Much good may it do him!—'tis but his
The lad now paused in his turn, looked down on Jack Sullivan's
comfortable house, sheltered by a clump of trees, and certainly saw
such a smoke tossed up from the chimney, as gave unequivocal evidence of
preparation for a good dinner. He next looked "behind the wind," with
a visage made more blank and meagre by the contrast; after which he
reflected for a few minutes, as if working up his mind to some sudden
determination. The deliberation, however, was short; he struck his open
hand upon the head of the spade with much animation, and instantly took
it in both hands, exclaiming:
"Here, father, here goes; to the divil once an' for ever I pitch
slavery," and as he spoke, the spade was sent as far from him as he had
strength to throw it. "To the divil I pitch slavery! An' now, father,
wid the help o' God, this is the last day's work I'll ever put my hand
to. There's no way of larnin' Latin here; but off to Munster I'll start,
an' my face you'll never see in this parish, till I come home either a
priest an a gintleman! But that's not all, father dear; I'll rise you
out of your distress, or die in the struggle. I can't bear to see your
gray hairs in sorrow and poverty."
"Well, Jimmy—well, agra—God enable you, avourneen; 'tis a good
intintion. The divil a one o' me will turn another spadeful aither, for
this day: I'm dhrookin' (* dripping) wid the rain. We'll go home an'
take an air o' the fire we want it; and aftherwards we can talk about
what you're on (* determined) for."
It is usual to attribute to the English and Scotch character,
exclusively, a cool and persevering energy in the pursuit of such
objects as inclination or interest may propose for attainment; whilst
Irishmen are considered too much the creatures of impulse to reach
a point that requires coolness, condensation of thought, and efforts
successively repeated. This is a mistake. It is the opinion of
Englishmen and Scotchmen who know not the Irish character thoroughly.
The fact is, that in the attainment of an object, where a sad-faced
Englishman would despair, an Irishman will, probably, laugh, drink,
weep, and fight, during his progress to accomplish it. A Scotchman will
miss it, perhaps, but, having done all that could be done, he will
try another speculation. The Irishman may miss it too; but to console
himself he will break the head of any man who may have impeded him in
his efforts, as a proof that he ought to have succeeded; or if he cannot
manage that point, he will crack the pate of the first man he meets, or
he will get drunk, or he will marry a wife, or swear a gauger never
to show his face in that quarter again; or he will exclaim, if it be
concerning a farm, with a countenance full of simplicity—"God bless
your honor, long life and honor to you, sir! Sure an' 'twas but a
thrifle, anyhow, that your Reverence will make up for me another time.
An' 'tis well I know your Lordship 'ud be the last man on airth to give
me the cowld shoulder, so you would, an' I an ould residenthur on your
own father's estate, the Lord be praised for that same! An' 'tis
a happiness, an' nothjn' else, so it is, even if I payed double
rint—wherein, maybe, I'm not a day's journey from that same, manin'
the double rint, your honor; only that one would do a great deal for
the honor an' glory of livin' undher a raal gintleman—an' that's but
There is, in short, a far-sightedness in an Irishman which is not
properly understood, because it is difficult to understand it. I do
not think there is a nation on earth, whose inhabitants mix up their
interest and their feelings together more happily, shrewdly, and yet
less ostensibly, than Irishmen contrive to do. An Irishman will make you
laugh at his joke, while the object of that joke is wrapped up from
you in the profoundest mystery, and you will consequently make the
concession to a certain point of his character, which has been really
obtained by a faculty you had not penetration to discover, or, rather,
which he had too much sagacity to exhibit. Of course, as soon as your
back is turned, the broad grin is on him, and one of his cheeks is stuck
out two inches beyond the other, because his tongue is in it at your
stupidity, simplicity, or folly. Of all the national characters on this
habitable globe, I verily believe that that of the Irish is the most
profound and unfathomable; and the most difficult on which to form a
system, either social, moral, or religious.
It would be difficult, for example, to produce a more signal instance of
energy, system, and perseverance than that exhibited in Ireland during
the struggle for Emancipation. Was there not flattery to the dust?
blarney to the eyes? heads broken? throats cut? houses burned? and
cattle houghed? And why? Was it for the mere pleasure of blarney—of
breaking heads (I won't dispute the last point, though, because I
scorn to give up the glory of the national character),—of cutting
throats—burning houses—or houghing cattle? No; but to secure
Emancipation. In attaining that object was exemplified that Irish method
of gaining a point.
"Yes," said Jemmy, "to the divil I pitch slavery! I will come home able
to rise yez from your poverty, or never show my face in the parish of
When the lad's determination was mentioned to his mother and the family,
there was a loud and serious outcry against it: for no circumstance is
relished that ever takes away a member from an Irish hearth, no matter
what the nature of that circumstance may be.
"Och, thin, is it for that bocaun (* soft, innocent person) of a boy
to set off wid himself, runnin' through the wide world afther larnin',
widout money or friends! Avourneen, put it out of yer head. No; struggle
on as the rest of us is doin', an' maybe yell come as well off at the
"Mother, dear," said the son, "I wouldn't wish to go agin what you'd
say; but I made a promise to myself to 'rise yez out of your poverty if
I can, an' my mind's made up on it; so don't cross me, or be the manes
of my havin' bad luck on my journey, in regard of me goin' aginst yer
will, when you know 'twould be the last thing I wish to do."
"Let the gossoon take his way, Vara. Who knows but it was the Almighty
put the thoughts of it into his head. Pasthorini says that there
will soon be a change, an' 'tis a good skame it 'ill be to have him
a sogarth when the fat living will be walkin' back to their ould
"Oh, an' may the Man above grant that, I pray Jamini this day! for are
not we harrished out of our lives, scrapin' an' scramblin' for the black
thieves, what we ought to put on our backs, an' into our own mouths.
Well, they say it's not lucky to take money from a priest, because
it's the price o' sin, an' no more it can, seein' that they want it
themselves; but I'm sure it's their (* The Protestant clergy) money
that ought to carry the bad luck to them, in regard of their gettin' so
many bitter curses along wid it."
When a lad from the humblest classes resolves to go to Munster as a poor
scholar, there is but one course to be pursued in preparing his outfit.
This is by a collection at the chapel among the parishioners, to whom
the matter is made known by the priest, from the altar some Sunday
previous to his departure. Accordingly, when the family had all given
their consent to Jemmy's project, his father went, on the following day,
to communicate the matter to the priest, and to solicit his co-operation
in making a collection in behalf of the lad, on the next Sunday but one:
for there is always a week's notice given, and sometimes more, that the
people come prepared.
The conversation already detailed between father and son took place
on Friday, and on Saturday, a day on which the priest never holds a
Station, and, of course, is generally at home, Dominick M'Evoy went to
his house with the object already specified in view. The priest was
at home; a truly benevolent man, but like the worthies of his day, not
over-burdened with learning, though brimful of kindness and hospitality
mixed up with drollery and simple cunning.
"Good morning, Dominick!" said the priest, as Dominick entered.
"Good morrow, kindly, Sir," replied Dominick: "I hope your Reverence is
well, and in good health."
"Troth I am, Dominick! I hope there's nothing wrong at home; how is the
wife and children?"
"I humbly, thank your Reverence for axin'! Troth there's no rason for
complainin' in regard o' the health; sarra one o' them but's bravely,
consitherin' all things: I believe I'm the worst o' them, myself, yer
Reverence.. I'm gettin' ould, you see, an' stiff', an' wake; but that's
only in the coorse o' nathur; a man can't last always. Wait till them
that's young an' hearty now, harrows as much as I ploughed in my day,
an' they won't have much to brag of. Why, thin, but yer Reverence stands
it bravely—faix, wondherfully itself—the Lord be praised! an' it warms
my own heart to see you look so well."
"Thank you, Dominick. Indeed, my health, God be thanked, is very good.
Ellish," he added, calling to an old female servant—"you'll take a
glass, Dominick, the day is cowldish—Ellish, here take the kay, and
get some spirits—the poteen, Ellish—to the right hand in the cupboard.
Indeed, my health is very good, Dominick. Father Murray says he invies
me my appetite, an' I tell him he's guilty of one of the Seven deadly
"Ha, ha, ha!—Faix, an' Invy is one o' them sure enough; but a joke is
a joke in the mane time. A pleasant gintleman is the same Father Murray,
but yer Reverence is too deep for him in the jokin' line, for all that.
Ethen, Sir, but it's you that gave ould Cokely the keen cut about his
religion—ha, ha, ha! Myself laughed till I was sick for two days afther
it—the ould thief!"
"Eh?—Did you hear that, Dominick? Are you sure that's the poteen,
Ellish? Ay, an' the best of it all was, that his pathrun, Lord
Foxhunter, was present. Come, Dominick, try that—it never seen wather.
But the best of it all was—"
—"'Well, Father Kavanagh,' said he, 'who put you into the church?
Now,' said he, 'you'll come over me wid your regular succession from St.
Peter, but I won't allow that.'
"'Why, Mr. Cokely,' says I, back to him, 'I'll giye up the succession;'
says I, 'and what is more, I'll grant that you have been called by the
Lord, and that I have not; but the Lord that called you,' says I, 'was
Lord Foxhunter.' Man, you'd tie his Lordship wid a cobweb, he laughed so
"'Bravo, Father Kavanagh,' said he. 'Cokely, you're bale,' said he; 'and
upon my honor you must both dine with me to-day, says he—and capital
claret he keeps."
"Your health, Father Kavanagh, an' God spare you to us! Hah! wather! Oh,
the divil a taste itself did the same stuff see! Why, thin, I think your
Reverence an' me's about an age. I bleeve. I'm a thrifle oulder; but I
don't bear it so well as you do. The family, you see, an' the childhre,
an' the cares o' the world, pull me down: throth, the same family's a
throuble to me. I wish I had them all settled safe, any way."
"What do you intind to do with them, Dominick?"
"In throth, that's what brought me to yer Reverence. I've one
boy—Jimmy—a smart chap entirely, an' he has taken it into his head to
go as a poor scholar to Munster. He's fond o' the larnin', there's not
a doubt o' that, an' small blame to him to be sure; but then again, what
can I do? He's bint on goin', an' I'm not able to help him, poor fellow,
in any shape; so I made bould to see yer Reverence about it, in hopes
that you might be able to plan out something for him more betther nor
I could do. I have the good wishes of the neighbors, and indeed of the
whole parish, let the thing go as it may."
"I know that, Dominick, and for the same rason well have a collection at
the three althars. I'll mintion it to them after Mass to-morrow, and let
them be prepared for Sunday week, when we can make the collection. Hut,
man, never fear; we'll get as much as will send him half-way to the
priesthood; and I'll tell you what, Dominick, I'll never be the man to
refuse giving him a couple of guineas myself."
"May the heavenly Father bless an' keep your Reverence. I'm sure 'tis
a good right the boy has, as well as all of us, to never forget your
kindness. But as to the money—he'll be proud of your assistance
the other way, sir,—so not a penny—'tis only your good-will we
want—hem—except indeed, that you'd wish yourself to make a piece of
kindness of it to the poor boy. Oh, not a drop more, sir,—I declare
it'll be apt to get into my head. Well, well—sure an' we're not to
disobey our clargy, whether or not: so here's your health over agin,
your Reverence! an' success to the poor child that's bint on good!"
"Two guineas his Reverence is to give you from himself, Jimmy," said the
father, on relating the success of this interview with the priest; "an'
faix I was widin one of refusin' it, for feard it might bring something
unlucky* wid it; but, thought I, on the spur, it's best to take it,
any way. We can asily put it off on some o' these black-mouthed
Presbyterians or Orangemen, by way of changin' it, an' if there's
any hard fortune in it, let them have the full benefit of it, ershi
misha." ( ** Say I.)
* There is a superstitious belief in some parts of
Ireland, that priests' money is unlucky; "because," say
the people, "it is the price of sin"—alluding to
It is by trifles of this nature that the unreasonable though enduring
hatred with which the religious sects of Ireland look upon those of a
different creed is best known. This feeling, however, is sufficiently
mutual. Yet on both sides there is something more speculative than
practical in its nature. When they speak of each other as a distinct
class, the animosity, though abstracted, appears to be most deep; but
when they mingle in the necessary intercourse of life, it is curious
to see them frequently descend, on both sides, from the general rule to
those exceptions of good-will and kindness, which natural benevolence
and mutual obligation, together with a correct knowledge of each other's
real characters, frequently produce. Even this abstracted hatred,
however, has been the curse of our unhappy country; it has kept us too
much asunder, or when we met exhibited us to each other in our darkest
and most offensive aspects.
Dominick's conduct in the matter of the priest's money was also a happy
illustration of that mixture of simplicity and shrewdness with which
an Irishman can frequently make points meet, which superstition, alone,
without such ingenuity, would keep separate for ever. Many another
man might have refused the money from an ignorant dread of its proving
unlucky; but his mode of reasoning on the subject was satisfactory
to himself, and certainly the most ingenious which, according to his
belief, he could have adopted—that of foisting it upon a heretic.
The eloquence of a country priest, though rude, and by no means
elevated, is sometimes well adapted to the end in view, to the feelings
of his auditory, and to the nature of the subject on which he speaks.
Pathos and humor are the two levers by which the Irish character is
raised or depressed; and these are blended, in a manner too anomalous to
be ever properly described. Whoever could be present at a sermon on
the Sunday when a Purgatorian Society is to be established, would hear
pathos and see grief of the first water. It is then he would get
a "nate" and glowing description of Purgatory, and see the broad,
humorous, Milesian faces, of three or four thousand persons, of both
sexes, shaped into an expression of the most grotesque and clamorous
grief. The priest, however, on particular occasions of this nature, very
shrewdly gives notice of the sermon, and of the purpose for which it is
to be preached:—if it be grave, the people are prepared to cry; but
if it be for a political, or any other purpose not decidedly religious,
there will be abundance of that rough, blunt satire and mirth, so keenly
relished by the peasantry, illustrated, too, by the most comical and
ridiculous allusions. That priest, indeed, who is the best master
of this latter faculty, is uniformly the greatest favorite. It is no
unfrequent thing to see the majority of an Irish congregation drowned
in sorrow and tears, even when they are utterly ignorant of the language
spoken; particularly in those districts where the Irish is still the
vernacular tongue. This is what renders notice of the sermon and its
purport necessary; otherwise the honest people might be seriously at a
loss whether to laugh or cry.
"Elliih avourneen, gho dhe dirsha?"—"Ellish, my dear, what is he
"Och, musha niel eshighum, ahagur—ta sha er Purgathor, ta
barlhum."—"Och, I dunna that, jewel; I believe he's on Purgatory."
"Och, och, oh—och, och, oh—oh, i, oh, i, oh!"
And on understanding that Purgatory is the subject, they commence their
grief with a rocking motion, wringing their hands, and unconsciously
passing their beads through their fingers, whilst their bodies are bent
forward towards the earth.
On the contrary, when the priest gets jocular—which I should have
premised, he never does in what is announced as a solemn sermon—you
might observe several faces charged with mirth and laughter, turned,
even while beaming with this expression, to those who kneel beside them,
"Arrah, Barny, what is it—ha, ha, ha!—what is it he's sayin'? The Lord
spare him among us, anyhow, the darlin' of a man! Eh, Barny, you that's
in the inside the English?" This, of course is spoken in Irish.
Barny, however, is generally too much absorbed in the fun to become
interpreter just then; but as soon as the joke is nearly heard out, in
compliance with the importunity of his neighbors, he gives them a brief
hint or two, and instantly the full chorus is rung out, long, loud, and
On the Sunday in question, as the subject could not be called strictly
religious, the priest, who knew that a joke or two would bring in many
an additional crown to Jemmy's caubeen,* was determined that they,
should at least have a laugh for their money. The man, besides, was
benevolent, and knew the way to the Irish heart; a knowledge which he
felt happy in turning to the benefit of the lad in question.
* Such collections were generally made in hats—the
usual name for an Irish peasant's hat being—caubeen.
With this object in view, he addressed the people somewhat in the
following language: "'Blessed is he that giveth his money to him that
standeth in need of it.'"
"These words, my brethren, are taken from St. Paul, who, among
ourselves, knew the value of a friend in distress as well as any other
apostle in the three kingdoms—hem. It's a nate text, my friends,
anyhow. He manes, however, when we have it to give, my own true,
well-tried, ould friends!—when we have it to give. It's absence althers
the case, in toto; because you have all heard the proverb—'there is no
takin' money out of an empty purse:' or, as an ould ancient author said
long ago upon the same subject:
'Cantabit whaekuus coram lathrone whiathur!'
—(Dshk, dshk, dshk*—that's the larnin'!)—He that carries an empty
purse may fwhistle at the thief. It's sing in the Latin; but sing or
fwhistle, in my opinion, he that goes wid an empty purse seldom sings
or fwhistl'es to a pleasant tune. Melancholy music I'd call it, an'
wouldn't, may be, be much asthray al'ther—Hem. At all evints, may none
of this present congregation, whin at their devotions, ever sing or
fwhistle to the same time! No; let it be to 'money in both pockets,'
if you sing at all; and as long as you have that, never fear but you'll
also have the 'priest in his boots' into the bargain—("Ha, ha,
ha!—God bless him, isn't he the pleasant gentleman, all out—ha, ha,
ha!—moreover, an' by the same a token, it's thrue as Gospel, so it
is,")—for well I know you're the high-spirited people, who wouldn't see
your priest without them, while a fat parson, with half-a-dozen chins
upon him, red and rosy, goes about every day in the week bogged in
boots, like a horse-trooper!—("Ha, ha, ha!—good, Father Dan! More
power to you—ha, ha, ha! We're the boys that wouldn't see you in want
o' them, sure enough. Isn't he the droll crathur?")
* This sound, which expresses wonder, is produced by
striking the tip of the tongue against the palate.
"But suppose a man hasn't money, what is he to do? Now this divides
itself into what is called Hydrostatics an' Metaphuysics, and must be
proved logically in the following manner:
"First, we suppose him not to have the money—there I may be wrong or I
may be right; now for the illustration and the logic.
"Here, your Reverence."
"Now, Pether, if I suppose you to have no money, am I right, or am I
"Why, thin, I'd be sarry to prove your Reverence to be wrong, so I
would; but, for all that, I believe I must give it aginst you."
"How much have you got, Pether?"
"Ethen, but 'tis your Reverence that's comin' close upon me; two or
three small note an' some silver."
"How much silver, Pether?"
"I'll tell your Reverence in a jiffy—I ought to have a ten shillin',
barring the price of a quarther o' tobaccy that I bought at the
crass-roads boyant. Nine shillins an' somo hapuns, yer Reverence."
"Very good, Pether, you must hand me the silver, till I give the rest of
the illustration wid it."
"But does your Reverence mind another ould proverb?—'a fool an' his
money's asy parted.' Sure an' I know you're goin' to do a joke upon me."
("Give him the money, Pether," from a hundred voices—"give his
Reverence the money, you nager you—give him the silver, you dirty
spalpeen you—hand it out, you misert.")
"Pether, if you don't give it dacently, I'll not take it; and in that
"Here, here, your Reverence—here it is; sure I wouldn't have your
ill-will for all I'm worth."
"Why, you nager, if I wasn't the first orathor livin', barrin' Cicero or
Demosthenes himself, I couldn't schrew a penny out o' you! Now, Pether,
there's a specimen of logic for you; an' if it wasn't good, depind upon
it the money would be in your pocket still. I've never known you to give
a penny for any charitable purpose, since ever I saw your face: but I'm
doin' a good action in your behalf for once; so if you have any movin'
words to say to the money in question, say them, for you'll never finger
A burst of the most uproarious mirth followed this manoeuvre, in which
the simple priest himself joined heartily; whilst the melancholy
of Peter's face was ludicrously contrasted with the glee which
characterized those who surrounded him.
"Hem!—Secondly—A man, you see, may have money, or he may not, when his
follow creature who stands in need of it makes an appale to his dacency
and his feelings; and sorry I'd be to think that there's a man before
me, or a woman either, who'd refuse to assist the distresses of any
one, of any creed, church, or persuasion, whether white, black, or
yallow—no; I don't except even the blue-bellies themselves. It's what I
never taught you, nor never will tache you to the day of my death! To be
sure, a fellow-creature may say, 'Help me, my brother, I am distressed,'
or, 'I am bent on a good purpose, that your kindness can enable me to
accomplish.' But suppose that you have not the money about you at the
time, wouldn't you feel sorry to the back-bone? Ay, would yez—to the
very core of the heart itself. Or if any man—an' he'd be' nothing else
than a bodagh that would say it—if any man would tell me that you would
not, I'd—yes—I'd give him his answer, as good as I gave to ould Cokely
long ago, and you all know what that was.
"The next point is, what would you do if you hadn't it about you?
It's that can tell you what you'd do:—you'd say, 'I haven't got it,
brother,'—for ev'ry created bein' of the human kind is your brother,
barrin' the women, an' they are your sisters—[this produced a grin upon
many faces]—'but,' says you, 'if you wait a bit for a day or two, or a
week, or maybe for a fortnight, I'll try what I can do to help you.'
"Picture to yourselves a fellow-creature in distress—suppose him
to have neither hat, shoe, nor stocking—[this was a touch of the
pathetic]—and altogether in a state of utter destitution! Can there be
a more melancholy picture than this? No, there can't. But 'tisn't
the tithe of it!—a barefaced robbery is the same tithe—think of him
without father, mother, or friend upon the earth—both dead, and ne'er
another to be had for love or money—maybe he has poor health—maybe
he's sick, an' in a sthrange country—[here Jemmy's mother and friends
sobbed aloud, and the contagion began to spread]—the priest, in fact,
knew where to touch—his face is pale—his eyes sunk with sickness and
sorrow in his head—his bones are cuttin' the skin—he knows not where
to turn himself—hunger and sickness are strivin' for him.—[Here the
grief became loud and general, and even the good-natured preacher's own
voice got somewhat unsteady.]—He's in a bad state entirely—miserable!
more miserable!! most miserable!!! [och, och, oh!] sick, sore, and
sorry!—he's to be pitied, felt for, and compassionated!—[a general
outcry!]—'tis a faver he has, or an ague, maybe, or a rheumatism, or an
embargo (* lumbago, we presume) on the limbs, or the king's evil, or
a consumption, or a decline, or God knows but it's the falling
sickness—[ooh, och, oh!—och, och, oh!] from the whole congregation,
whilst the simple old man's eyes were blinded with tears at the force of
the picture he drew.—[Ay, maybe it's the falling-sickness, and in that
case how on earth can he stand it.—He can't, he can't, wurra strew,
wurra strew!—och, och, oh!—ogh, ogh, ogh!]—The Lord in heaven look
down upon him—[amin, amin, this blessed an' holy Sunday that's in
it!—och, oh!]—pity him—[amin, amin!—och, och, an amin!]—with
miseracordial feeling and benediction! He hasn't a rap in his
company!—moneyless, friendless, houseless, an' homeless! Ay, my
friends, you all have homes—but he has none! Thrust back by every
hard-hearted spalpeen, and he, maybe, a better father's son than the
Turk that refuses him! Look at your own childre, my friends! Bring the
case home to yourselves! Suppose he was one of them—alone on the earth,
and none to pity him in his sorrows! Your own childre, I say, in a
strange land.—[Here the outcry became astounding; men, women, and
children in one general uproar of grief.]—An'—this may all be Jemmy
M'Evoy's case, that's going in a week or two to Munster, as a poor
scholar—may be his case, I say, except you befriend him, and show your
dacency and your feelings, like Christians and Catholics; and for either
dacency or kindness, I'd turn yez against any other congregation in the
diocess, or in the kingdom—ay, or against Dublin, itself, if it was
convanient, or in the neighborhood."
Now here was a coup de main—not a syllable mentioned about Jemmy
M'Evoy, until he had melted them down, ready for the impression, which
he accordingly made to his heart's content.
"Ay," he went on, "an' 'tis the parish of Ballysogarth that has the
name, far and near, for both, and well they desarve it. You won't see
the poor gossoon go to a sthrange country—with empty pockets. He's the
son of an honest man—one of yourselves; and although he's a poor man,
you know 'twas Yallow Sam that made him so—that put him out of his
comfortable farm and slipped a black-mouth * into it. You won't turn
your backs on the son in regard of that, any way. As for Sam, let him
pass; he'll not grind the poor, nor truckle to the rich, when he gives
up his stewardship in the kingdom come. Lave him to the friend of the
poor—to his God; but the son of them that he oppressed, you will stand
up for. He's going to Munster, to learn 'to go upon the Mission:' and,
on Sunday next, there will be a collection made here, and at the other
two althars for him; and, as your own characters are at stake, I trust
it will be neither mane nor shabby. There will be Protestants here, I'll
engage, and you must act dacently before them, if it was only to set
them a good example. And now I'll tell yez a story that the mintion of
the Protestants brings to my mind:—
* In the North of Ireland the word black-mouth means a
"There was, you see, a Protestant man and a Catholic woman once married
together. The man was a swearing, drinking, wicked rascal, and his wife
the same: between them they were a blessed pair to be sure. She never
bent her knee under a priest until she was on her death-bed; nor was he
known ever to enter a church door, or to give a shilling in charity
but once, that being—as follows:—He was passing a Catholic place of
worship one Sunday, on his way to fowl—for he had his dog and gun with
him;—'twas beside a road, and many of the congregration were kneeling
out across the way. Just as he passed they were making a collection
for a poor scholar—and surely they that love the larning desarve to be
encouraged! Well, behold you, says one of them, 'will you remember the
poor scholar,' says he, 'and put something in the hat? You don't know,'
says he, 'but his prayers will be before you.' (* In the other world.)
'True enough, maybe,' says the man, 'and there's a crown to him, for
God's sake.' Well and good; the man died, and so did the wife; but the
very day before her departure, she got a scapular, and died in it. She
had one sister, however, a good crature, that did nothing but fast and
pray, and make her sowl. This woman had strong doubts upon her mind, and
was very much troubled as to whether or not her sister went to heaven;
and she begged it as a favor from the blessed Virgin, that the state of
her sister's sowl might be revaled to her. Her prayer was granted.
One night, about a week after her death, her sister came back to her,
dressed, all in white, and circled round by a veil of glory.
"'Is that Mary?' said the living sister.
"'It is,' said the other; 'I have got liberty to appear to you,' says
she, 'and to tell you that I'm happy.'
"'May the holy Virgin be praised!' said the other. 'Mary, dear, you have
taken a great weight off of me,' says she: 'I thought you'd have a bad
chance, in regard of the life you led.'
"'When I died,' said the spirit, 'and was on my way to the other world,
I came to a place where the road divided itself into three parts;—one
to heaven, another to hell, and a third to purgatory. There was a dark
gulf between me and heaven, and a breach between me and purgatory that
I couldn't step across, and if I had missed my foot there, I would have
dropped into hell. So I would, too, only that the blessed Virgin put my
own scapular over the breach, and it became firm, and I stepped on it,
and got over. The Virgin then desired me to look into hell, and the
first person I saw was my own husband, standing with a green sod under
his feet! 'He got that favor,' said the blessed Virgin, 'in consequence
of the prayers of a holy priest, that had once been a poor scholar, that
he gave assistance to, at a collection made for him in such a chapel,'
says she, 'Then,' continued the sowl, 'Mary,' says she, 'but there's
some great change in the world since I died, or why would the people
live so long? It can't be less than six thousand years since I departed,
and yet I find every one of my friends just as I left them.'
"'Why,' replied the living sister, 'you're only six days dead.'
"'Ah, avourneen!' said the other, 'it can't be—it can't be! for I have
been thousands on thousands of years in pain!'—and as she spoke this
"Now there's a proof of the pains of purgatory, where one day seems as
long as a thousand years; and you know we oughtn't to grudge a thrifle
to a fellow-crature, that we may avoid it. So you see, my friends,
there's nothing like good works. You know not when or where this lad's
prayers may benefit you. If he gets ordained, the first mass he says
will be for his benefactors; and in every one he celebrates after that,
they must also be remembered: the words are pro omnibus benefactoribus
meis, per omnia secula secularum!
"Thirdly—hem—I now lave the thing to yourselves.
"But wasn't I match for Pettier Donovan, that would brake a stone for
the marrow *—Eh?—(a broad laugh at Pother's rueful visage.)—Pettier,
you Turk, will your heart never soften—will you never have dacency, an'
you the only man of your family that's so? Sure they say you're going to
be marrid some of these days. Well, if you get your wife in my parish, I
tell you, Pettier, I'll give you a fleecin', for don't think I'll marry
you as chape as I would a poor honest man. I'll make you shell out the
yallowboys, and 'tis that will go to your heart, you nager you; and then
I'll eat you out of house and home at the Stations. May the Lord grant
us, in the mane time, a dacent appetite, a blessing which I wish you
* I know not whether this may be considered worthy of a
note or not. I have myself frequently seen and tasted
what is appropriately termed by the peasantry "Stone
Marrow." It is found in the heart of a kind of soft
granite, or perhaps I should rather say freestone. The
country people use it medicinally, but I cannot
remember what particular disease it is said to cure. It
is a soft, saponaceous substance, not unpleasant to the
taste, of a bluish color, and melts in the mouth, like
the fat of cold meat, leaving the palate greasy. How
far an investigation into its nature and properties
might be useful to the geologist or physician, it is
not for me to conjecture. As the fact appeared to be a
curious one, and necessary, moreover, to illustrate the
expression used in the text, I thought it not amiss to
mention it. It may be a bonne bouche for the
At this moment the congregation was once more in convulsions of laughter
at the dressing which Peter, whose character was drawn with much truth
and humor, received at the hands of the worthy pastor.
Our readers will perceive that there was not a single prejudice, or
weakness, or virtue, in the disposition of his auditory, left untouched
in this address. He moved their superstition, their pride of character,
their dread of hell and purgatory, their detestation of Yellow Sam, and
the remembrance of the injury so wantonly inflicted on M'Evoy's family;
he glanced at the advantage to be derived from the lad's prayers, the
example they should set to Protestants, made a passing hit at tithes;
and indulged in the humorous, the pathetic, and the miraculous. In
short, he left no avenue to their hearts untouched; and in the process
by which he attempted to accomplish his object he was successful.
There is, in fact, much rude, unpolished eloquence among the Roman
Catholic priesthood, and not a little which, if duly cultivated by study
and a more liberal education, would deserve to be ranked very high.
We do not give this as a specimen of their modern pulpit eloquence,
but as a sample of that in which some of those Irish clergy shone,
who, before the establishment of Maynooth, were admitted to orders
immediately from the hedge-schools, in consequence of the dearth of
priests which then existed in Ireland. It was customary in those days to
ordain them even before they departed for the continental colleges, in
order that they might, by saying masses and performing other clerical
duties, be enabled to add something to the scanty pittance which was
appropriated to their support. Of the class to which Father Kavanagh
belonged, there are few, if any, remaining. They sometimes were called
"Hedge-priests," * byway of reproach; though for our own parts, we wish
their non-interference in politics, unaffected piety, and simplicity of
character, had remained behind them.
* This nickname was first bestowed upon them by the
continental priests, who generally ridiculed them for
their vulgarity. They were, for the most! part, simple
but worthy men.
On the Sunday following, Dominick M'Evoy and his son Jemmy attended
mass, whilst the other members of the family, with that sense of
honest pride which is more strongly inherent in Irish character than is
generally supposed, remained at home, from a reluctance to witness what
they could not but consider a degradation. This decency of feeling was
anticipated by the priest, and not overlooked by the people; for the
former, the reader may have observed, in the whole course of his address
never once mentioned the word "charity;" nor did the latter permit the
circumstance to go without its reward, according to the best of their
ability. So keen and delicate are the perceptions of the Irish, and
so acutely alive are they to those nice distinctions of kindness and
courtesy, which have in their hearts a spontaneous and sturdy growth,
that mocks at the stunted virtues of artificial life.
In the parish of Ballysogarth there were three altars, or places of
Roman Catholic worship; and the reader may suppose that the collection
made at each place was considerable. In truth, both father and son's
anticipations were far under the sum collected. Protestants and
Presbyterians attended with their contributions, and those of the
latter who scrupled to be present at what they considered an idolatrous
worship, did not hesitate to send their quota by some Roman Catholic
Their names were accordingly announced with an encomium from the priest,
which never failed to excite a warm-hearted murmur of approbation.
Nor was this feeling transient, for, we will venture to say, that had
political excitement flamed up even to rebellion and mutual slaughter,
the persons and property of those individuals would have been held
At length Jemmy was equipped; and sad and heavy became the hearts of
his parents and immediate relations as the morning appointed for his
departure drew nigh. On the evening before, several of his more distant
relatives came to take their farewell of him, and, in compliance with
the usages of Irish hospitality, they were detained for the night. They
did not, however, come empty-handed: some brought money; some brought
linen, stockings, or small presents—"jist, Jimmy, asthore, to keep me
in yer memory, sure,—and nothin' else it is for, mavourneen."
Except Jemmy himself, and one of his brothers who was to accompany him
part of the way, none of the family slept. The mother exhibited deep
sorrow, and Dominick, although he made a show of firmness, felt, now
that the crisis was at hand, nearly incapable of parting with the
boy. The conversation of their friends and the cheering effects of the
poteen, enabled them to sustain his loss better than they otherwise
would have done, and the hope of seeing him one day "an ordained
priest," contributed more than either to support them.
When the night was nearly half spent, the mother took a candle and
privately withdrew to the room in which the boy slept. The youth was
fair, and interesting to look upon—the clustering locks of his white
forehead were divided; yet there was on his otherwise open brow, a shade
of sorrow, produced by the coming separation, which even sleep could not
efface. The mother held the candle gently towards his face, shading
it with one hand, lest the light might suddenly awake him; she then
surveyed his features long and affectionately, whilst the tears fell in
showers from her cheeks.
"There you lie," she softly sobbed out, in Irish, "the sweet pulse of
your mother's heart; the flower of our flock, the pride of our eyes, and
the music of our hearth! Jimmy, avourneen machree, an' how can I part
wid you, my darlin' son! Sure, when I look at your mild face, and think
that you're takin' the world on your head to rise us out of our poverty,
isn't my heart breakin'! A lonely house we'll have afther you, acushla!
Goin' out and comin' in, at home or abroad, your voice won't be in my
ears, nor your eye smilin' upon me. An' thin to think of what you may
suffer in a sthrange land! If your head aches, on what tendher breast
will it lie? or who will bind the ribbon of comfort * round it? or wipe
your fair, mild brow in sickness? Oh, Blessed Mother!—hunger, sickness,
and sorrow may come upon you when you'll be far from your own, an' from
them that loves you!"
* The following quotation, taken from a sketch called
"The Irish Midwife," by the author, gives an
illustration of this passage:—"The first, meaning
pain in the head, she cures by a very formal and
serious process called 'measuring the head.' This is
done by a ribbon, which she puts round the cranium,
repeating during the admeasurement a certain prayer or
charm from which the operation is to derive its whole
efficacy. The measuring is performed twice—in the
first instance, to show that its sutures are separated
by disease, or to speak more plainly, that the bones
of the head are absolutely opened, and that as a
natural consequence the head must be much larger than
when the patient is in a state of health. The
circumference of the first admeasurement is marked upon
a ribbon, after which she repeats the charm that is to
remove the headache, and measures the cranium again, in
order to show, by a comparison of the two ribbons,
that the sutures have been closed, the charm successful,
and the headache immediately removed. It is
impossible to say how the discrepancy in the
measurement is brought about; but be that as it may,
the writer of this has frequently seen the operation
performed in such a way as to defy the most
scrutinizing eye to detect any appearance of imposture,
and he is convinced that in the majority of cases there
is not the slightest imposture intended. The operator
is in truth a dupe to a strong and delusive
This melancholy picture was too much for the tenderness of the mother;
she sat down beside the bed, rested her face on her open hand, and wept
in subdued but bitter grief. At this moment his father, who probably
suspected the cause of her absence, came in and perceived her distress.
"Vara," said he, in Irish also, "is my darlin' son asleep?"
She looked up, with streaming eyes, as he spoke, and replied to him in a
manner so exquisitely affecting, when the circumstances of the boy, and
the tender allusion made by the sorrowing mother, are considered—that
in point of fact no heart—certainly no Irish heart—could withstand
it. There is an old Irish melody unsurpassed in pathos, simplicity,
and beauty—named in Irish "Tha ma mackulla's na foscal me,"—-or
in English, "I am asleep, and don't waken me." The position of the boy
caused the recollection of the old melody to flash into the mother's
heart,—she simply pointed to him as the words streamed in a low
melodious murmur, but one full of heartrending sorrow, from her lips.
The old sacred association—for it was one which she had sung for him
a thousand times,—until warned to desist by his tears—deepened the
tenderness of her heart, and she said with difficulty, whilst she
involuntarily held over the candle to gratify the father's heart by a
sight of him. "I was keepin' him before my eye," she said; "God knows
but it may be the last night we'll ever see him undher our own roof!
Dominick, achora, I doubt I can't part wid him from my heart."
"Then how can I, Vara?" he replied. "Wasn't he my right hand in
everything? When was he from me, ever since he took a man's work upon
him? And when he'd finish his own task for the day, how kindly he'd
begin an' help me wid mine! No, Vara, it goes to my heart to let him go
away upon sich a plan, and I wish he hadn't taken the notion into his
head at all."
"It's not too late, maybe," replied his mother: "I think it wouldn't
be hard to put him off of it; the crathur's own heart is failin' him to
lave us. He has sorrow upon his face where he lies."
The father looked at the expression of affectionate melancholy which
shaded hia features as he slept; and the perception of the boy's
internal struggle against his own domestic attachments in accomplishing
hia first determination, powerfully touched his heart.
"Vara," said he, "I know the boy—he won't give it up; and 'twould be a
pity—maybe a sin—to put him from it. Let the child get fair play, and
thry his coorse. If, he fails, he can come back to us, an' our arms an'
hearts will be open to welcome him! But, if God prospers him, wouldn't
it be a blessin' that we never expected, to see him in the white robes,
celebratin' one mass for his parents. If these ould eyes could see that,
I would be continted to close them in pace an' happiness for ever."
"An' well you'd become them, avourneen machree! Well would your mild
and handsome countenance look wid the long heavenly stole of innocence
upon you! and although it's atin' into my heart, I'll bear it for the
sake of seein' the same blessed sight. Look at that face, Dominick;
mightn't many a lord of the land be proud to have sich a son? May the
heavens shower down its blessin' upon him!"
The father burst into tears. "It is—it is!" said he. "It is the face
that 'ud make many a noble heart proud to look at it! Is it any wondher
it 'ud cut our hearts, thin, to have it taken from afore our eyes? Come
away, Vara, come away, or I'll not be able to part wid it. It is the
lovely face—an' kind is the heart of my darlin' child!" As he spoke,
he stooped down and kissed the youth's cheek, on which the warm tears
of affection fell, soft as the dew from heaven. The mother followed his
example, and they both left the room.
"We must bear it," said Dominick, as they passed into another apartment;
"the money's gathered, an' it wouldn't look well to be goin' back wid it
to them that befrinded us. We'd have the blush upon our face for it, an'
the child no advantage."
"Thrue for you, Dominick; and we must make up our minds to live widout
him for a while."
The following morning was dark and cloudy, but calm and without rain.
When the family were all assembled, every member of it evinced traces
of deep feeling, and every eye was fixed upon the serene but melancholy
countenance of the boy with tenderness and sorrow. He himself maintained
a quiet equanimity, which, though apparently liable to be broken by
the struggles of domestic affection, and in character with his meek and
unassuming disposition, yet was supported by more firmness than might be
expected from a mind in which kindness and sensibility were so strongly
predominant. At this time, however, his character was not developed,
or at least not understood, by those that surrounded him. To strong
feelings and enduring affections he added a keenness of perception and
a bitterness of invective, of which, in his conversation with his father
concerning Yellow Sam, the reader has already had sufficient proofs. At
breakfast little or nothing was eaten; the boy himself could not taste
a morsel, nor any other person in the family. When the form of the meal
was over, the father knelt down—"It's right," said he, "that we should
all go to our knees, and join in a Rosary in behalf of the child that's
goin' on a good intintion. He won't thrive the worse bekase the last
words that he'll hear from his father and mother's lips is a prayer for
bringin the blessin' of God down upon his endayvors."
This was accordingly performed, though not without tears and sobs, and
frequent demonstrations of grief; for religion among the peasantry is
often associated with bursts of deep and powerful feeling.
When the prayer was over, the boy rose and calmly strapped to his back
a satchel covered with deer-skin, containing a few books, linen, and a
change of very plain apparel. While engaged in this, the uproar of grief
in the house was perfectly heart-rending. When just ready to set out, he
reverently took off his hat, knelt down, and, with tears streaming from
his eyes, craved humbly and meekly the blessing and forgiveness of his
father and mother. The mother caught him in her arms, kissed his lips,
and, kneeling also, sobbed out a fervent benediction upon his head;
the father now, in the grief of a strong man, pressed him to his heart,
until the big burning tears fell upon the boy's face; his brothers
and sisters embraced him wildly; next his more distant relations; and
lastly, the neighbors who were crowded about the door. After this he
took a light staff in his hand, and, first blessing himself after the
form of his church, proceeded to a strange land in quest of education.
He had not gone more than a few perches from the door, when his mother
followed him with a small bottle of holy water. "Jimmy, a lanna
voght," (* my poor child) said she, "here's this, an' carry it about
you—it will keep evil from you; an' be sure to take good care of the
written correckther you got from the priest an' Square Benson; an',
darlin', don't be lookin' too often at the cuff o' your coat, for feard
the people might get a notion that you have the bank-notes sewed in it.
An', Jimmy agra, don't be too lavish upon their Munster crame; they say
it's apt to give people the ague. Kiss me agin, agra; an' the heavens
above keep you safe and well till we see you once more!"
She then tenderly, and still with melancholy pride, settled his shirt
collar, which she thought did not set well about his neck, and kissing
him again, with renewed sorrow left him to pursue his journey.
M'Evoy's house was situated on the side of a dark hill—one of that
barren description which can be called neither inland nor mountain. It
commanded a wide and extended prospect, and the road along which the lad
travelled was visible for a considerable distance from it. On a small
hillock before the door sat Dominek and his wife, who, as long as their
son was visible, kept their eyes, which were nearly blinded with tears,
rivetted upon his person. It was now they gave full vent to their grief,
and discussed with painful and melancholy satisfaction all the excellent
qualities which he possessed. As James himself advanced, one neighbor
after another fell away from the train which accompanied him, not,
however, until they had affectionately embraced and bid him adieu, and
perhaps slipped, with peculiar delicacy, an additional mite into
his waistcoat pocket. After the neighbors, then followed the gradual
separation from his friends—one by one left him, as in the great
journey of life, and in a few hours he found himself accompanied only by
his favorite brother.
This to him was the greatest trial he had yet felt; long and
heartrending was their embrace. Jemmy soothed and comforted his beloved
brother, but in vain. The lad threw himself on the spot at which they
parted, and remained there until Jemmy turned an angle of the road which
brought him out of his sight, when the poor boy kissed the marks of his
brother's feet repeatedly, and then returned home, hoarse and broken
down with the violence of his grief.
He was now alone, and for the first time felt keenly the strange object
on which he was bent, together with all the difficulties connected with
its attainment. He was young and uneducated, and many years, he knew,
must elapse e'er he could find himself in possession of his wishes. But
time would pass at home, as well as abroad, he thought; and as there lay
no impediment of peculiar difficulty in his way, he collected all his
firmness and proceeded.
There is no country on the earth in which either education, or the
desire to procure it, is so much reverenced as in Ireland. Next to the
claims of the priest and schoolmaster come those of the poor scholar for
the respect of the people. It matters not how poor or how miserable
he may be; so long as they see him struggling with poverty in the
prosecution of a purpose so laudable, they will treat him with
attention and kindness. Here there is no danger of his being sent to the
workhouse, committed as a vagrant, or passed from parish to parish until
he reaches his own settlement. Here the humble lad is not met by the
sneer of purse-proud insolence, or his simple tale answered only in the
frown of heartless contempt. No—no—no. The best bit and sup are placed
before him; and whilst his poor, but warm-hearted, entertainer can
afford only potatoes and salt to his own half-starved family, he will
make a struggle to procure something better for the poor scholar;
'Becase he's far from his own, the craihur! An' sure the intuition in
him is good, anyhow; the Lord prosper him, an' every one that has the
heart set upon the larnin'!'
As Jemmy proceeded, he found that his satchel of books and apparel gave
as clear an intimation of his purpose, as if he had carried a label to
that effect upon his back.
"God save you, a bouchal!" said a warm, honest-looking countryman, whom
he met driving home his cows in the evening, within a few miles of the
town in which he purposed to sleep.
"God save you kindly!"
"Why, thin, 'tis a long journey you have before you, alanna, for I know
well it's for Munster you're bound."
"Thrue for you; 'tis there, wid the help of God, I'm goin'. A great
scarcity of larnin' was in my own place, or I wouldn't have to go at
all," said the boy, whilst his eyes filled with, tears.
"'Tis no discredit in life," replied the countryman, with untaught
natural delicacy, for he perceived that a sense of pride lingered about
the boy which made the character of poor scholar sit painfully upon him;
"'tis no discredit, dear, nor don't be cast down. I'll warrant you that
God will prosper you; an' that He may, avick, I pray this day!" and as
he spoke, he raised his hat in reverence to the Being whom he invoked.
"An' tell me, dear—where do you intend to sleep to-night?"
"In the town forrid here," replied Jemmy. "I'm in hopes I'll be able to
reach it before dark."
"Pooh! asy you will. Have you any friends or acquaintances there that
'ud welcome you, a bouchal dhas (my handsome boy)?"
"No, indeed," said Jemmy, "they're all strangers to me; but I can stop
in 'dhry lodgin',' for it's chaper."
"Well, alanna, I believe you; but I'm no stranger to you—so come home
wid me to-night; where you'll get a good bed, and betther thratement nor
in any of their dhry lodgins. Give me your books, and I'll carry them
for you. Ethen, but you have a great batch o' them entirely. Can you
make any hand o' the Latin at all yet?"
"No, indeed," replied Jemmy, somewhat sorrowfully; "I didn't ever open a
Latin book, at all at all."
"Well, acushla, everything has a beginnin';—you won't be so. An' I know
by your face that you'll be bright at it, an' a credit to them owes (*
owns) you. There's my house in the fields beyant, where you'll be well
kept for one night, any way, or for twinty, or for ten times twinty, if
you wanted them."
The honest farmer then commenced the song of Colleen dhas Crotha na
Mho (* The pretty girl milking her cow), which he sang in a clear
mellow voice, until they reached the house.
"Alley," said the man to his wife, on entering, "here's a stranger I've
"Well," replied Alley, "he's welcome sure, any way; Cead millia, failta
ghud, alanna! sit over to the fire. Brian, get up, dear," said she to
one of the children, "an' let the stranger to the hob."
"He's goin' on a good errand, the Lord bless him!" said the husband, "up
the country for the larnin'. Put thim books over on the settle; an' whin
the, girshas are done milkin', give him a brave dhrink of the sweet
milk; it's the stuff to thravel on."
"Troth, an' I will, wid a heart an' a half, wishin' it was betther I had
to give him. Here, Nelly, put down a pot o' wather, an' lave soap an'
a praskeen, afore you go to milk, till I bathe the dacent boy's feet.
Sore an' tired they are afther his journey, poor young crathur."
When Jemmy placed himself upon the hob, he saw that some peculiarly
good fortune had conducted him to so comfortable a resting-place. Ho
considered this as a good omen; and felt, in fact, much relieved, for
the sense of loneliness among strangers was removed.
The house evidently belonged to a wealthy farmer, well to do in
the world; the chimney was studded with sides upon sides of yellow
smoke-dried bacon, hams, and hung beef in abundance. The kitchen tables
were large, and white as milk; and the dresser rich in its shining array
of delf and pewter. Everything, in fact, was upon a large scale. Huge
meal chests were ranged on one side, and two or three settle beds on
the other, conspicuous, as I have said, for their uncommon cleanliness;
whilst hung from the ceiling were the glaiks, a machine for churning;
and beside the dresser stood an immense churn, certainly too unwieldy to
be managed except by machinery. The farmer was a ruddy-faced Milesian,
who wore a drab frieze coat, with a velvet collar, buff waistcoat,
corduroy small-clothes, and top-boots* well greased from the tops
down. He was not only an agriculturist, but a grazier—remarkable for
shrewdness and good sense, generally attended fairs and markets, and
brought three or four large droves of fat cattle to England every year.
From his fob hung the brass chain and almost rusty key of a watch, which
he kept certainly more for use than ornament.
* This in almost every instance, is the dress of
wealthy Irish farmer.
"A little sup o' this," said he, "won't take your life," approaching
Jemmy with a bottle of as good poteen as ever escaped the eye of an
exciseman; "it'll refresh you—for you're tired, or I wouldn't offer
it, by rason that one bint on what you're bint on, oughtn't to be makin'
freedoms wid the same dhrink. But there's a time for everything, an'
there's a time for this.—Thank you, agra," he added, in reply to Jemmy,
who had drunk his health. "Now, don't be frettin'—but make yourself as
aisy as if you were at your own father's hearth. You'll have everything
to your heart's contint for this night; the carts are goin' in to the
market to-morrow airly—you can sit upon them, an' maybe you'll get
somethin' more nor you expect: sure the Lord has given it to me, an' why
wouldn't I share it wid them that wants it more nor I do?"
The lad's heart yearned to the generous farmer, for he felt that his
kindness had the stamp of truth and sincerity upon it. He could only
raise his eyes in a silent prayer, that none belonging to him might ever
be compelled, as strangers and way-farers, to commit themselves, as he
did, to the casualties of life, in pursuit of those attainments which
poverty cannot otherwise command. Fervent, indeed, was his prayer; and
certain we are, that because it was sincere, it must have been heard.
In the meantime, the good woman, or vanithee, had got the pot of water
warmed, in which Jemmy was made to put his feet. She then stripped up
her arms to the elbows, and, with soap and seedy meal, affectionately
bathed his legs and feet: then, taking the praskeen, or coarse towel,
she wiped them with a kindness which thrilled to his heart.
"And now," said she, "I must give you a cure for blisthers, an' it's
this:—In the mornin', if we're all spared, as we will, plase the
Almighty, I'll give you a needle and some white woollen thread, well
soaped. When your blisthers gets up, dhraw the soapy thread through
them, clip it on each side, an', my life for yours, they won't throuble
you. Sure I thried it the year I went on my Station to Lough Derg, an' I
know it to be the rale cure."
"Here, Nelly," said the farmer,—who sat iwith a placid benevolent face,
smoking his pipe on the opposite hob—to one of the maids who came in
from milking,—"bring up a noggin of that milk, we want it here: let it
be none of your washy foremilk, but the strippins, Nelly, that has
the strinth in it. Up wid it here, a colleen."
"The never a one o' the man but's doatin' downright, so he is," observed
the wife, "to go to fill the tired child's stomach wid plash. Can't you
wait till he ates a thrifle o' some-thin' stout, to keep life in him,
afther his hard journey? Does your feet feel themselves cool an' asy
"Indeed," said Jemmy, "I'm almost as fresh as when I set out. 'Twas
little thought I had, when I came away this mornin', that I'd meet wid
so much friendship on my journey. I hope it's a sign that God's on my
side in my undertakin'!"
"I hope so, avourneen—I hope so, an' it is, too," replied the farmer,
taking the pipe out of his mouth, and mildly whiffing away the smoke,
"an' God'll be always on your side, as long as your intentions are good.
Now ate somethin'—you must want it by this; an' thin, when you rest
yourself bravely, take a tass into a good feather-bed, where you can
sleep rings round you. (* As much as you please.) Who knows but you'll
be able to say mass for me or some o' my family yit. God grant that, any
Poor James's heart was too full to eat much; he took, therefore, only
a very slender portion of the refreshments set before him; but his
hospitable entertainer had no notion of permitting him to use the free
exercise of his discretion on this important point. When James put away
the knife and fork, as an indication of his having concluded the meal,
the farmer and his wife turned about, both at the same moment, with a
kind of astonishment.
"Eh? is it giving over that way you are? Why, alanna, it's nothin' at
all you've tuck; sure little Brian there would make a fool of you, so
he would, at the atin'. Come, come, a bouchal—don't be ashamed, or make
any way sthrange at all, but ate hearty."
"I declare I have ate heartily, thank you," replied James; "oceans
itself, so I did. I couldn't swally a bit more if the house was full."
"Arrah, Brian," said the wife, "cut him up more o' that hung beef, it's
ashamed the crathur is! Take it, avick; don't we know the journey you
had! Faix, if one o' the boys was out on a day's thravellin', you'd see
how he'd handle himself."
"Indeed," said James, "I can't—if I could I would. Sure I would be no
way backward at all, so I wouldn't."
"Throth, an' you can an' must," said the farmer: "the never a rise
you'll rise, till you finish that"—putting over a complement out of all
reasonable proportion with his age and size.
"There now's a small taste, an' you must finish it. To go to ate nothin'
at all! Hut tut! by the tops o' my boots, you must put that clear an'
clane out o' sight, or I'll go mad an' barn them."
The lad recommenced, and continued to eat as long as he could possibly
hold out; at length he ceased:—
"I can't go on," said he; "don't ax me: I can't indeed."
"Bad manners to the word I'll hear till you finish it; you know it's but
a thrifle to spake of. Thry agin, avick, but take your time; you'll be
able for it."
The poor lad's heart was engaged on other thoughts and other scenes; his
home, and its beloved inmates—sorrow and the gush of young affections,
were ready to burst forth.
"I cannot ate," said he, and he looked imploringly on the farmer and his
wife, whilst the tears started to his eyes—"don't ax me, for my heart's
wid them I left behind me, that I may never see agin!" and he wept in a
burst of grief which he could not restrain.
Neither the strength nor tenderness of the lad's affection was
unappreciated by this excellent couple. In a moment the farmer's wife
was also in tears; nor did her husband break the silence for some
"The Almighty pity an' strengthen him!" said the farmer's wife, "but
he has the good an' the kind heart, an' would be a credit to any
family.—Whisht, acushla machree—whisht, we won't ax you to ate—no
indeed. It was out o' kindness we did it: don't be cast down aither;
sure it isn't the ocean you're crossin'; but goin' from one county
like to another. God 'll guard an' take care o' you, so he will. Your
intintion's good, an' he'll prosper it."
"He will, avick," said the farmer himself—"he will. Cheer up, my good
boy! I know thim that's larned an' creditable clargy this day, that went
as you're goin'—ay, an' that ris an' helped their parents, an' put them
above poverty an' distress; an' never fear, wid a blessin', but you'll
do the same."
"That's what brings me at all," replied the boy, drying his tears; "if
I was once able to take them out o' their distresses, I'd be happy: only
I'm afeard the cares o' the world will break my father's heart before I
have it in my power to assist him."
"No such thing, darlin'," said the good woman. "Sure his hopes out o'
you, an' his love for you will keep him up; an' you dunna but God may
give him a blessin' too, avick."
"Mix another sup o'that for him," said the fanner: "he's low spirited,
an' it's too strong to give him any more of it as it is. Childhre,
where's the masther from us—eh? Why, thin, God help them, the
crathurs—wasn't it thoughtful o' them to lave the place while he was at
his dinner, for fraid he'd be dashed—manin' them young crathurs, Alley,
But can you tell us where the 'masther' is? Isn't this his night wid us?
I know he tuck his dinner here."
"Ay did he; but it's up to Larry Murphy's he's gone, to thry his son
in his book-keepin'. Mavrone, but he had time enough to put him well
through it afore this, any way."
As she spoke, a short thickset man, with black twinkling eyes and ruddy
cheeks entered. This personage was no other than the schoolmaster of
that district, who circulated, like a newspaper, from one farmer's house
to another, in order to expound for his kind entertainers the news
of the day, his own learning, and the very evident extent of their
The moment he came in, the farmer and his wife rose with an air of much
deference, and placed a chair for him exactly opposite the fire, leaving
a respectful distance on each side, within which no illiterate mortal
durst presume to sit.
"Misther Corcoran," said the farmer, presenting Jemmy's satchel, through
which the shapes of the books were quite plain, "thig in thu shinn?"
(* Do you understand this) and as he spoke he looked significantly at
"Ah," replied the man of letters, "thigum, thigum. (* I understand) God
be wid the day when I carried the likes of it. 'Tis a badge of polite
genius, that no boy need be ashamed of. So my young suckling of
litherature, you're bound for Munster?—for that counthry where the
swallows fly in conic sections—where the magpies and the turkey's
confab in Latin, and the cows and bullocks will roar you Doric
Greek—bo-a-o—clamo. What's your pathronymic? quo nomine gowdes,
The lad was silent; but the farmer's wife turned up the whites of her
eyes with an expression of wonder and surprise at the erudition of the
"I persave you are as yet uninitiated into the elementary principia of
the languages; well—the honor is still before you. What's your name?"
"James M'Evoy, sir."
Just now the farmer's family began to assemble round the spacious
hearth; the young lads, whose instruction the worthy teacher claimed as
his own peculiar task, came timidly forward, together with two or three
pretty bashful girls with sweet flashing eyes, and countenances full of
feeling and intelligence. Behind on the settles, half-a-dozen servants
of both sexes sat in pairs—each boy placing himself beside his favorite
girl. These appeared to be as strongly interested in the learned
conversation which the master held, as if they were masters and
mistresses of Munster Latin and Doric Greek themselves; but an
occasional thump cautiously bestowed by no slender female hand upon the
sturdy shoulder of her companion, or a dry cough from one of the young
men, fabricated to drown the coming blow, gave slight indications that
they contrived to have a little amusement among themselves, altogether
independent of Mr. Corcoran's erudition.
When the latter came in, Jemmy was taking the tumbler of punch which the
farmer's wife had mixed for him; on this he fixed an expressive glance,
which instantly reverted to the vanithee, and from her to the large
bottle which stood in a window to the right of the fire. It is a quick
eye, however, that can anticipate Irish hospitality.
"Alley," said the farmer, ere the wife had time to comply with the hint
conveyed by the black, twinkling eye of the schoolmaster; "why, Alley"—
"Sure, I am," she replied, "an' will have it for you in less than no
She accordingly addressed herself to the bottle, and in a few minutes
handed a reeking jug of punch to the Farithee, or good man.
"Come, Masther, by the hand o' my body, I don't like dhry talk so long
as I can get anything to moisten the discoorse. Here's your health,
Masther," continued the farmer, winking at the rest, "and a speedy
conclusion to what you know! In throth, she's the pick of a good
girl—not to mintion what she has for her portion. I'm a friend to the
same family, an' will put a spoke in your wheel, Masther, that'll sarve
"Oh, Mr. Lanigan, very well, sir—very well—you're becoming quite
facetious upon me," said the little man, rather confused; "but upon my
credit and reputation, except the amorous inclination and regard to me
is on her side," and he looked sheepishly at his hands, "I can't say
that the arrows of Cupid have as yet pinethrated the sintimintal side of
my heart. It is not with me as it was wid Dido—hem—
Non 'haeret lateri lethalis arundo,'
as Virgil says. Yet I can't say, but if a friend were to become
spokesman for me, and insinuate in my behalf a small taste of amorous
sintimintality, why—hem, hem, hem! The company's health! Lad, James
M'Evoy, your health, and success to you, my good boy!—hem, hem!"
"Here's wishin' him the same!" said the farmer.
"James," said the schoolmaster, "you are goin' to Munsther, an' I can
say that I have travelled it from end to end, not to a bad purpose, I
hope—hem! Well, a bouchal, there are hard days and nights before you,
so keep a firm heart. If you have money, as 'tis likely you have, don't
let a single rap of it into the hands of the schoolmaster, although the
first thing he'll do will be to bring you home to his own house, an'
palaver you night an' day, till he succeeds in persuading you to leave
it in his hands for security. You might, if not duly pre-admonished,
surrender it to his solicitations, for—
'Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit.'
Michael, what case is mortalium?" added he, suddenly addressing one of
the farmer's sons; "come, now, Michael, where's your brightness? What
case is mortalium?"
The boy was taken by surprise, and for a few minutes could not reply.
"Come man," said the father, "be sharp, spake out bravely, an' don't be
afraid; nor don't be in a hurry aither, we'll wait for you."
"Let him alone—let him alone," said Corcoran; "I'll face the same boy
agin the county for cuteness. If he doesn't expound that, I'll never
consthru a line of Latin, or Greek, or Masoretic, while I'm livin'."
His cunning master knew right well that the boy, who was only confused
at the suddenness of the question, would feel no difficulty in answering
it to his satisfaction. Indeed, it was impossible for him to miss it, as
he was then reading the seventh book of Virgil, and the fourth of Homer.
It is, however, a trick with such masters to put simple questions of
that nature to their pupils, when at the houses of their parents, as
knotty and difficult, and when they are answered, to assume an air of
astonishment at the profound reach of thought displayed by the pupil.
When Michael recovered himself, he instantly replied, "Mortalium is
the genitive case of nemo, by 'Nomina Partiva.'"
Corcoran laid down the tumbler, which he was in the act of raising to
his lips, and looked at the lad with an air of surprise and delight,
then at the farmer and his wife, alternately, and shook his head with
much mystery. "Michael," said he to the lad; "will you go out and tell
us what the night's doin'."
The boy accordingly went out—"Why," said Corcoran, in his absence, "if
ever there was a phanix, and that boy will be the bird—an Irish phanix
he will be, a
Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno!
There's no batin' him at anything he undher-takes. Why, there's thim
that are makin' good bread by their larnin', that couldn't resolve that;
and you all saw how he did it widout the book! Why, if he goes on at
this rate, I'm afraid he'll soon be too many for myself—hem!"
"Too many for yourself! Fill the masther's tumbler, Alley. Too many for
yourself! No, no! I doubt he'll never see that day, bright as he is, an'
cute. That's it—put a hape upon it. Give me your hand, masther. I thank
you for your attention to him, an' the boy is a credit to us. Come over,
Michael, avourneen. Here, take what's in this tumbler, an' finish it.
Be a good boy and mind your lessons, an' do everything the masther
here—the Lord bless him!—bids you; an' you'll never want a frind,
masther, nor a dinner, nor a bed, nor a guinea, while the Lord spares me
aither the one or the other."
"I know it, Mr. Lanigan, I know it; and I will make that boy the pride
of Ireland, if I'm spared. I'll show him cramboes that would puzzle
the great Scaliger himself; and many other difficulties I'll let him
into, that I have never let out yet, except to Tim Kearney, that bate
them all at Thrinity College in Dublin up, last June."
"Arrah, how was that, Masther?"
"Tim, you see, went in to his Entrance Examinayshuns, and one of the
Fellows came to examine him, but divil a long it was till Tim sacked
"'Go back agin', says Tim, 'and sind some one that's able to tache me,
for you're not.'
"So another greater scholar agin came to yry Tim, and did thry him, and
Tim made a hare of him, before all that was in the place—five or
six thousand ladies and gintlemen, at laste!
"The great learned Fellows thin began to look odd enough; so they picked
out the best scholar among them but one, and slipped him at Tim; but
well becomes Tim, the never a long it was till he had him, too, as dumb
as a post. The fellow went back—
"'Gintlemen,' says he to the rest, 'we'll be disgraced all out,' says
he, 'for except the Prowost sacks that Munsther spalpeen, he'll bate us
all, an' we'll never be able to hould up our heads afther.'
"Accordingly, the Prowost attacks Tim; and such a meetin' as they had,
never was seen in Thrinity College since its establishment. At last when
they had been nine hours and a half at it, the Prowost put one word to
him that Tim couldn't expound, so he lost it by one word only. For
the last two hours the Prowost carried on the examinashun in Hebrew,
thinking, you see, he had Tim there; but he was mistaken, for Tim
answered him in good Munsther Irish, and it so happened that they
understood each other, for the two languages are first cousins, or, at
all evints, close blood relations. Tim was then pronounced to be the
best scholar in Ireland except the Prowost; though among ourselves, they
might have thought of the man that taught him. That, however, wasn't
all. A young lady fell in love wid Tim, and is to make him a present of
herself and her great fortune (three estates) the moment he becomes a
counsellor; and in the meantime she allows him thirty pounds a year to
bear his expenses, and live like a gintleman.
"Now to return to the youth in the corner: Nemo mortalium omnibus horis
sapit, Jemmy keep your money, or give it to the priest to keep, and
it will be safest; but by no means let the Hyblean honey of the
schoolmaster's blarney deprive you of it, otherwise it will be a vale,
vale, longum vale between you. Crede experto!"
"Masther," said the farmer, "many a sthrange accident you met wid on yer
thravels through Munsther?"
"No doubt of that, Mr. Lanigan. I and another boy thravelled it in
society together. One day we were walking towards a gintleman's house
on the road side, and it happened that we met the owner of it in the
vicinity, although we didn't know him to be such.
"'Salvete Domini!' said he, in good fresh Latin.
"'Tu sis salvus, quoque!' said I to him, for my comrade wasn't cute,
an' I was always orathor.
"'Unde veniti?' said he, comin' over us wid another deep piece of
larnin' the construction of which was, 'where do yez come from?'
"I replied, 'Per varios casus et tot discrimina rerum, venimus a
"'Good!' said he, 'you're bright; follow me.'
"So he brought us over to his own house, and ordered us bread and cheese
and a posset; for it was Friday, an' we couldn't touch mate. He, in the
mane time, sat an chatted along wid us. The thievin' cook, however, in
makin' the posset, kept the curds to herself, except a slight taste here
and there, that floated on the top; but she was liberal enough of the
whey, any how.
"Now I had been well trained to fishing in my more youthful days; and no
gorsoon could grope a trout wid me. I accordingly sent the spoon through
the pond before me wid the skill of a connoisseur; but to no purpose—it
came up wid nothin' but the whey.
"So, said I off hand to the gintleman, houlding up the bowl, and looking
at it with a disappointed face,
'Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.'
'This,' says I, 'plase your hospitality, may be Paotolus, but the divil
a taste o' the proper sand is in the bottom of it.'
"The wit of this, you see, pleased him, and we got an excellent treat
in his studium, or study: for he was determined to give myself another
"'What's the wickedest line in Virgil?' said he.
"Now I had Virgil at my fingers' ends, so I answered him:
'Flectere si nequeo superos, Aeheronta movebo,'
"'Very good,' said he, 'you have the genius, and will come to somethin'
yet: now tell me the most moral line in Virgil.'
'Discere justitiam moniti et non temnere divos.' *
* He is evidently drawing the long-bow here; this
anecdote has been told before.
"'Depend upon it,' said he, 'you will be a luminary. The morning star
will be but a farthing candle to you; and if you take in the learning as
you do the cheese, in a short time there won't be a man in Munsther
fit to teach you,' and he laughed, for you see he had a tendency to
"He did not give me up here, however, being determined to go deeper wid
"'Can you translate a newspaper into Latin prose?' said he.
"Now the divil a one o' me was just then sure about the prose, so I was
goin' to tell him; but before I had time to speak, he thrust the paper
into my hand, and desired me to thranslate half-a-dozen barbarous
"The first that met me was about a reward offered for a Newfoundland dog
and a terrier, that had been stolen from a fishing-tackle manufacturer,
and then came a list of his shabby merchandise, ending with a
long-winded encomium upon his gunpowder, shot, and double-barrelled
guns. Now may I be shot with a blank cartridge, if I ever felt so much
at an amplush in my life, and I said so.
"'Your honor has hooked me wid the fishing hooks,' said I; 'but I grant
the cheese was good bait, any how.'
"So he laughed heartily, and bid me go on.
"Well, I thought the first was difficult: but the second was Masoretic
to it—something about drawbacks, excisemen, and a long custom-house
list, that would puzzle Publius Virgilius Maro, if he was set to
translate it. However, I went through wid it as well as I could; where I
couldn't find Latin, I laid in the Greek, and where the Greek failed
me, I gave the Irish, which, to tell the truth, in consequence of its
vernacularity, I found to be the most convanient. Och, och many a larned
scrimmage I have signalized myself in, during my time. Sure my name's
as common as a mail-coach in Thrinity College; and 'tis well known
there isn't a fellow in it but I could sack, except may be, the prowost.
That's their own opinion. 'Corcoran,' says the prowost, 'is the most
larned man in Ireland; an' I'm not ashamed,' says he, 'to acknowledge
that I'd rather decline meeting him upon deep points.' Ginteels, all
your healths—hem! But among ourselves I could bog him in a very short
time; though I'd scorn to deprive the gintleman of his reputaytion or
his place, even if he sent me a challenge of larnin' to-morrow, although
he's too cute to venture on doing that—hem, hem!"
To hear an obscure creature, whose name was but faintly known in the
remote parts even of the parish in which he lived, draw the long-bow
at such a rate, was highly amusing. The credulous character of his
auditory, however, was no slight temptation to him; for he knew that
next to the legends of their saints, or the Gospel itself, his fictions
ranked in authenticity; and he was determined that it should not be his
fault if their opinion of his learning and talents were not raised to
the highest point. The feeling experienced by the poor scholar, when
he awoke the next morning, was one both of satisfaction and sorrow. He
thought once more of his home and kindred, and reflected that it might
be possible he had I seen the last of his beloved relations. His grief,
however, was checked when he remembered the warm and paternal affection
with which he was received on the preceding night by his hospitable
countryman. He offered up his prayers to God; humbly besought his grace
and protection; nor did he forget to implore a blessing upon those who I
had thus soothed his early sorrows, and afforded him, though a stranger
and friendless, I shelter, comfort, and sympathy.
"I hope," thought he, "that I will meet many such, till I overcome my
difficulties, an' find myself able to assist my poor father an' mother!"
And he did meet many such among the humble, and despised, and neglected
of his countrymen; for—and we say it with pride—the character of this
excellent farmer is thoroughly that of our peasantry within the range of
When he had eaten a comfortable breakfast, and seen his satchel stuffed
with provision for his journey, the farmer brought him up to his own
room, in which were also his wife and children.
"God," said he, "has been good to me; blessed be his holy name!—betther
it appears in one sinse, than he has been to you, dear, though maybe I
don't desarve it as well. But no matther, acushla; I have it, an' you
want it; so here's a thrifle to help your forrid in your larnin'; an'
all I ax from you is to offer up a bit of a prayer for me, of an odd
time, an' if ever you live to be a priest, to say, if it wouldn't be
throublesome, one Mass for me an' those that you see about me. It's not
much, James agra—only two guineas. They may stand your friend, whin
friends will be scarce wid you; though, I hope, that won't be the case
The tears were already streaming down. Jemmy's cheeks. "Oh," said the
artless boy, "God forever reward you! but sure I have a great dale of
money in the—in the—cuff o' my coat. Indeed I have, an' I won't want
The farmer, affected by the utter simplicity of the lad, looked at his
wife and smiled, although a tear stood in his eye at the time. She wiped
her eyes with her apron, and backed the kind offer of her husband.
"Take it, asthore," she added, "in your cuff! Musha, God help you! sure
it's not much you or the likes of you can have in your cuff, avourneen!
Don't be ashamed, but take it; we can well afford it, glory be to God
for it! It's not, agra, bekase you're goin' the way you are—though that
same's an honor to you—but bekase our hearts warmed to you, that we
offered it, an' bekase we would wish you to be thinkin' of us now an'
thin, when you're in a strange part of the country. Let me open your
pocket an' put them into it. That's a good, boy, thank you, an' God
bless an' prosper you! I'm sure you were always biddable."
"Now childre," said the farmer, addressing his sons and daughters,
"never see the sthranger widout a friend, nor wantin' a bed or a dinner,
when you grow up to be men an' women. There's many a turn in this world;
we may be strangers ourselves; an' think of what I would feel if any of
you was far from me, widout money or friends, when I'd hear that you
met a father in a strange counthry that lightened your hearts by his
kindness. Now, dear, the carts 'll be ready in no time—eh? Why there
they are at the gate waitin' for you. Get into one of them, an' they'll
lave you in the next town. Come, roan, budan' age, be stout-hearted, an'
don't cry; sure we did nothin' for you to spake of."
He shook the poor scholar by the hand, and drawing his hat over his
eyes, passed hurriedly out of the room. Alley stooped down, kissed his
lips, and wept; and the children each embraced him with that mingled
feeling of compassion and respect which is uniformly entertained for the
poor scholar in Ireland.
The boy felt as if he had been again separated from his parents; with a
sobbing bosom and wet cheeks he bid them farewell, and mounting one of
the carts was soon beyond sight and hearing of the kind-hearted farmer
and his family.
When the cart had proceeded about a mile, it stopped, and one of the
men who accompanied it addressing a boy who passed with two sods of turf
under his arm, desired him to hurry on and inform his master that they
waited for him.
"Tell Misther Corcoran to come into coort," said the man, laughing, "my
Lordship's waitin' to hear his defince for intindin' not to run away wid
Miss Judy Malowny. Tell him Lord Garty's ready to pass sintince on him
for not stalin' the heart of her wid his Rule o' Three. Ha! by the holy
farmer, you'll get it for stayin' from school to this hour. Be quick,
In a few minutes the trembling urchin, glad of any message that might
serve to divert the dreaded birch from himself, entered the, uproarious
"Siminary," caught his forelock, bobbed down his head to the master,
and pitched his "two sods" into a little'heap of turf which lay in the
corner of the school.
"Arrah, Pat Roach, is this an hour to inter into my establishment wid
impunity? Eh, you Rosicrusian?"
"Masther, sir," replied the adroit monkey, "I've a message for you, sir,
i' you plase."
"An' what might the message be, Masther; Pat Roach? To dine to-day wid
your worthy father, abouchal?"
"No, sir; it's from one o' Mr. Lanigan's boys—him that belongs to the
carts, sir; he wants to spake to you, sir, i' you plase."
"An' do you give that by way of an apologetical oration for your absence
from the advantages of my tuition until this hour? However, non constat
Patrici; I'll pluck the crow wid you on my return. If you don't find
yourself a well-flogged youth for your 'mitchin,' never say that this
right hand can administer condign punishment to that part of your
physical theory which constitutes the antithesis to your vacuum caput.
En et ewe, you villain," he added, pointing to the birch, "it's newly
cut and trimmed, and pregnant wid alacrity for the operation. I correct,
Patricius, on fundamental principles, which you'll soon feel to your
"Masther, sir," replied the lad, in a friendly, conciliating tone, "my
father 'ud be oblaged to you, if you'd take share of a fat goose wid him
"Go to your sate, Paddy, avourneen; devil a dacent boy in the seminary I
joke—so much wid, as I do wid yourself; an' all out of respect for your
worthy parents. Faith, I've a great regard for them, all out, an' tell
He then proceeded to the carts, and approaching Jemmy, gave him such
advice touching his conduct in Munster, as he considered to be most
serviceable to an inexperienced lad of his years.
"Here," said the kind-hearted soul—"here, James, is my mite; it's but
bare ten shillings; but if I could make it a pound for you, it would
give me a degree of delectability which I have not enjoyed for a long
time. The truth is, there's something like the nodus matrimonii, or
what they facetiously term the priest's gallows, dangling over my head,
so that any little thrifle I may get must be kept together for that
crisis, James, abouchal; so that must be my apology for not giving
you more, joined to the naked fact, that I never was remarkable for a
superfluity of cash under any circumstances. Remember what I told you
last night. Don't let a shilling of your money into the hands of the
masther you settle wid. Give it to the parish priest, and dhraw it from
him when you want it. Don't join the parties or the factions of the
school. Above all, spake ill of nobody; and if the; masther is harsh
upon you, either bear it patiently, or mintion it to the priest, or
to some other person of respectability in the parish, and you'll be
protected. You'll be apt to meet cruelty enough, my good boy: for there
are larned Neros in Munster, who'd flog if the province was in flames.
"Now, James, I'll tell you what you'll do, when you reach the larned
south. Plant yourself on the highest hill in the neighborhood wherein
the academician with whom you intend to stop, lives. Let the hour of
reconnoitring be that in which dinner is preparing. When seated there,
James, take a survey of the smoke that ascends from the chimneys of the
farmer's houses, and be sure to direct your steps to that from which
the highest and merriest column issues. This is the old plan and it is
a sure one. The highest smoke rises from the largest fire, the largest
fire boils the biggest pot, the biggest pot generally holds the fattest
bacon, and the fattest bacon is kept by the richest farmer. It's a
wholesome and comfortable climax, my boy, and one by which I myself was
enabled to keep a dacent portion of educated flesh between the master's
birch and my ribs. The science itself is called Gastric Geography, and
is peculiar only to itinerant young gintlemen who seek for knowledge in
the classical province of Munster.
"Here's a book that thravelled along wid myself through all my
peregrinations—Creech's Translation of Horace. Keep it for my sake;
and when you accomplish your education, if you return home this way, I'd
thank you to give me a call. Farewell! God bless you and prosper you as
I wish, and as I am sure you desarve."
He shook the lad by the hand; and as it was probable that his own former
struggles with poverty, when in the pursuit of education, came with all
the power of awakened recollection to his mind, he hastily drew his hand
across his eyes, and returned to resume the brief but harmless authority
of the ferula.
After arriving at the next town, Jemmy found himself once more
prosecuting his journey alone. In proportion as he advanced into a
strange land, his spirits became depressed, and his heart cleaved more
and more to those whom he had left behind him. There is, however, an
enthusiasm in the visions of youth, in the speculations of a young
heart, which frequently overcomes difficulties that a mind taught by
the experience of life would often shrink from encountering. We may all
remember the utter recklessness of danger, with which, in our
youthful days, we crossed floods, or stood upon the brow of yawning
precipices—feats which, in after years, the wealth of kingdoms could
not induce us to perform. Experience, as well as conscience, makes
cowards of us all.
The poor scholar in the course of his journey had the satisfaction
of finding himself an object of kind and hospitable attention to his
countrymen. His satchel of books was literally a passport to their
hearts. For instance, as he wended his solitary way, depressed and
travel-worn, he was frequently accosted by laborers from behind a ditch
on the roadside, and, after giving a brief history of the object he had
in view, brought, if it was dinner-hour, to some farm-house or cabin,
where he was made to partake of their meal. Even those poor creatures
who gain a scanty subsistence by keeping what are called "dhry lodgins,"
like lucus a non lucendo, because they never keep out the rain, and
have mostly a bottle of whiskey for those who know how to call for
it, even they, in most instances, not only refused to charge the poor
scholar for his bed, but declined to receive any remuneration for his
"Och, och, no, you poor young cratlrur, not from you. No, no; if we
wouldn't help the likes o' you, who ought we to help? No dear; but
instead o' the airighad, (* money) jist lave us your blessin',
an' maybe we'll thrive as well wid that, as we would wid your little
'pences, that you'll be wanting for yourself whin your frinds won't be
near to help you."
Many, in fact, were the little marks of kindness and attention which the
poor lad received on his way. Sometimes a ragged peasant, if he happened
to be his fellow-traveller, would carry his satchel so long as they
travelled together, or a carman would give him a lift on his empty car;
or some humorous postilion, or tipsy "shay-boy," with a comical leer in
his eye, would shove him into his vehicle; remarking—
"Bedad, let nobody say you're a poor scholar now, an' you goin' to
school in a coach! Be the piper that played afore Moses, if ever any
rascal upraids you wid it, tell him, says you—'You damned rap,' says
you, 'I wint to school in a coach! an' that,' says you, 'was what
none o' yer beggarly gin oration was ever able to do,' says you; 'an'
moreover, be the same token,' says you, 'be the holy farmer, if you
bring it up to me, I'll make a third eye in your forehead wid the butt
o' this whip,' says you. Whish! darlins! That's the go! There's drivin',
At length, after much toil and travel, he reached the South, having
experienced as he proceeded a series of affectionate attentions, which
had, at least, the effect of reconciling him to the measure he had
taken, and impressing upon his heart a deeper confidence in the kindness
and hospitality of his countrymen.
Upon the evening of the day on which he terminated his journey, twilight
was nearly falling; the town in which he intended to stop for the night
was not a quarter of a mile before him, yet he was scarcely able to
reach it; his short, yielding steps were evidently those of a young and
fatigued traveller: his brow was moist with perspiration: he had just
begun, too, to consider in what manner he should introduce himself to
the master who taught the school at which he had been advised to stop,
when he heard a step behind him, and on looking back, he discovered a
tall, well-made, ruddy-faced young man, dressed in black, with a book in
his hand, walking after him.
"Unde et quo viator?" said the stranger, on coming up to him.
"Oh, sir," replied Jemmy, "I have not Latin yet."
"You are on your way to seek it, however," replied the other. "Have you
"A long way, indeed, sir; I came from the County ———, sir—the upper
part of it."
"Have you letters from your parish priest?"
"I have, sir, and one from my father's landlord, Square Benson, if you
ever heard of him."
"What's your object in learning Latin?"
"To be a priest, wid the help o' God; an' to rise my poor father an'
mother out of their poverty."
His companion, after hearing this reply, bent a glance upon him, that
indicated the awakening of an interest in the lad much greater than he
probably otherwise would have felt.
"It's only of late," continued the boy, "that my father an' mother got
poor; they were once very well to do in the world. But they were put out
o' their farm in ordher that the agint might put a man that had married
a get (* A term implying illegitimacy) of his own into it. My father
intended to lay his case before Colonel B———, the landlord; but he
couldn't see him at all, bekase he never comes near the estate.
The agint's called Yallow Sam, sir; he's rich through cheatery an'
dishonesty; puts money out at intherest, then goes to law, an' brakes
the people entirely; for, somehow, he never was known to lose a lawsuit
at all, sir. They say it's the divil, sir, that keeps the lawyers on his
side; an' that when he an' the lawyers do be dhrawin' up their writins,
the devil—God betune me an' harm!—does be helpin' them!"
"And is Colonel B——— actually—or, rather, was he your father's
"He was, indeed, sir; it's thruth I'm tellin' you."
"Singular enough! Stand beside me here—do you see that large house to
the right among the trees?"
"I do, sir; a great big house, entirely—like a castle, sir."
"The same. Well, that house belongs to Colonel B———, and I am very
intimate with him. I am Catholic curate of this parish; and I was,
before my ordination, private tutor in his family for four years."
"Maybe, sir, you might have intherest to get my father back into his
"I do not know that, my good lad, for I am told Colonel B——-is rather
embarrassed, and, if I mistake not, in the power of the man you call
Yellow Sam, who has, I believe, heavy mortgages upon his property.
But no matter; if I cannot help your father, I shall be able to serve
yourself. Where do you intend to stop for the night?"
"In dhry lodgin', sir, that's where my father and mother bid me stop
always. They war very kind to me, sir, in the dhry lddgins."
"Who is there in Ireland who would not be kind to you, my good boy? I
trust you do not neglect your religious duties?"
"Wid the help o' God, sir, I strive to attind to them as well as I can;
particularly since I left my father and mother. Every night an' mornin',
sir, I say five Fathers, five Aves, an' a Creed; an' sometimes when I'm
walkin' the road, I slip up an odd Father, sir, an' Ave, that God may
grant me good luck."
The priest smiled at his candor and artlessness, and could not help
feeling the interest which the boy had already excited in him increase.
"You do right," said he, "and take care that you neglect not the worship
of God. Avoid bad company; be not quarrelsome at school; study to
improve yourself diligently; attend mass regularly; and be punctual in
going to confession."
After some further conversation, the priest and he entered the town
"This is my house," said the former; "or if not altogether mine—at
least, that in which I lodge; let me see you here at two o'clock
to-morrow. In the meantime, follow me, and I shall place you with a
family where you will experience every kindness and attention that can
make you comfortable."
He then led him a few doors up the street, till he stopped at a
decent-looking "House of Entertainment," to the proprietors of which he
"Be kind to this strange boy," said the worthy clergyman, "and whatever
the charges of his board and lodging may be until we get him settled, I
shall be accountable for them."
"God forbid, your Reverence, that ever a penny belongin' to a poor boy
lookin' for his larnin' should go into our pockets, if he was wid us
twelve months in the year. No—no! He can stay with the bouchaleens;
(* little boys) let them be thryin' one another in their books. If he is
fardher on in the Latin then Andy, he can help Andy; an' if Andy has
the foreway of him, why Andy can help him. Come here, boys, all of yez.
Here's a comrade for yez—a dacent boy that's lookin' for his larnin',
the Lord enable him! Now be kind to him, an' whisper," he added, in an
undertone, "don't be bringin' a blush to the gorsoon's face. Do ye hear?
Ma chorp! if ye do!—Now mind it. Ye know what I can do whin I'm well
vexed! Go, now, an' get him somethin' to ate an' dhrink, an' let him
sleep wid Barney in the feather bed."
During the course of the next day, the benevolent curate introduced
him to the parish priest, who from the frequent claims urged by poor
scholars upon his patronage, felt no particular interest in his case. He
wrote a short letter, however, to the master with whom Jemmy intended
to become a pupil, stating that "he was an honest boy, the son of
legitimate parents, and worthy of consideration."
The curate, who saw further into the boy's character than the parish
priest, accompanied him on the following day to the school; introduced
him to the master in the most favorable manner, and recommended him in
general to the hospitable care of all the pupils. This introduction did
not serve the boy so much as might have been expected; there was nothing
particular in the letter of the parish priest, and the curate was but a
curate—no formidable personage in any church where the good-will of the
rector has not been already secured.
Jemmy returned that day to his lodgings, and the next morning, with his
Latin Grammar under his arm, he went to school to taste the first bitter
fruits of the tree of knowledge.
On entering it, which he did with a beating heart, he found the despot
of a hundred subjects sitting behind a desk, with his hat on, a brow
superciliously severe, and his nose crimped into a most cutting and
vinegar curl. The truth was, the master knew the character of the
curate, and felt that because he had taken Jemmy under his protection,
no opportunity remained for him of fleecing the boy, under the pretence
of securing his money, and that consequently the arrival of the poor
scholar would be no windfall, as he had expected.
When Jemmy entered, he looked first at the master for his welcome; but
the master, who verified the proverb, that there are none so blind as
those who will not see, took no notice whatsoever of him. The boy then
looked timidly about the school in quest of a friendly face, and indeed
few faces except friendly ones were turned upon him.
Several of the scholars rose up simultaneously to speak to him; but
the pedagogue angrily inquired why they had left their seats and their
"Why, sir," said a young Munsterman, with a fine Milesian face—"be
gorra, sir, I believe if we don't welcome the poor scholar, I think you
won't. This is the boy, sir, that Mr. O'Brien came along wid yistherday,
an' spoke so well of."
"I know that, Thady; and Misther O'Brien thinks, because he himself
first passed through that overgrown hedge-school wid slates upon the
roof of it, called Thrinity College, and matriculated in Maynooth
afther, that he has legal authority to recommend every young vagrant to
the gratuitous benefits of legitimate classicality. An' I suppose, that
you are acting the Pathrun, too, Thady, and intind to take this young
wild-goose under your protection?"
"Why, sir, isn't he a poor scholar? Sure he mustn't want his bit an'
sup, nor his night's lodgin', anyhow. You're to give him his larnin'
"I suppose so, Mr. Thaddeus; but this is the penalty of celebrity. If I
weren't so celebrated a man for classics as I am, I would have none of
this work. I tell you, Thady, if I had fifty sons I wouldn't make one o'
"Wait till you have one first, sir, and you may make him as great a
numskull as you plase, Master."
"But in the meantime, Thady, I'll have no dictation from you, as to
whether I have one or fifty; or as to whether he'll be an ass or a
Newton. I say that a dearth of larnin' is like a year of famine in
Ireland. When the people are hard pushed, they bleed the fattest
bullocks, an' live on their blood; an' so it is wid us Academicians.
It's always he that has the most larned blood in his veins, and the
greatest quantity of it that such hungry leeches fasten on."
"Thrue for you, sir," said the youth with a smile; "but they say the
bullocks always fatten the betther for it. I hope you'll bleed well now,
"Thady, I don't like, the curl of your nose; an', moreover, I have
always found you prone to sedition. You remember your conduct at the
'Barring out.' I tell you it's well that your worthy father is a dacent
wealthy man, or I'd be apt to give you a memoria technica on the
"God be praised for my father's wealth, sir! But I'd never wish to have
a good memory in the way you mention."
"Faith, an' I'll be apt to add that to your other qualities, if you
don't take care of yourself."
"I want no such addition, Masther; if you do, you'll be apt to subtract
yourself from this neighborhood, an', maybe, ther'e won't be more than a
cipher gone out of it, afther all."
"Thady, you're a wag," exclaimed the crestfallen pedagogue; "take the
lad to your own sate, and show him his task. How! is your sister's sore
"Why, sir," replied the benevolent young wit, "she's betther than I am.
She can swallow more, sir."
"Not of larnin', Thady; there you've the widest gullet in the parish."
"My father's the richest man in it, Masther," replied Thady. "I think,
sir, my! gullet and his purse are much about the same size—wid you."
"Thady, you're first-rate at a reply;—but exceedingly deficient in the
retort courteous. Take the lad to your sate, I say, and see how far he
is advanced, and what he is fit for. I suppose, as you are so ginerous,
you will volunteer to tache him yourself."
"I'll do that wid pleasure, sir; but I'd like to know whether you intind
to tache him or not."
"An' I'd like to know, Thady, who's to pay me for it, if I do. A purty
return Michael Rooney made me for making him such a linguist as he is.
'You're a tyrant,' said he, when he grew up, 'and instead of expecting
me to thank you for your instructions, you ought to thank me for not
preparing you for the county hospital, as a memento of the cruelty
and brutality you made me feel, when I had the misfortune to be a poor
scholar! under you.' And so, because he became curate of the parish, he
showed me the outside of it."
"But will you tache this poor young boy, sir?"
"Let me know who's to guarantee his payments."
"I have money myself, sir, to pay you for two years," replied Jemmy.
'They told me, sir, that you were a great scholar, an' I refused to stop
in other schools by rason of the name you have for Latin and Greek."
"Verbum sat," exclaimed the barefaced knave. "Come here. Now, you see,
I persave you have dacency. Here is your task; get that half page by
heart. You have a cute look, an' I've no doubt but the stuff's in you.
Come to me afther dismiss, 'till we have a little talk together."
He accordingly pointed out the task, after which he placed him at his
side, lest the inexperienced boy might be put on his guard by any of the
scholars. In this intention, however, he was frustrated by Thady, who,
as he thoroughly detested the knavish tyrant, resolved to caution
the poor scholar against his dishonesty. Thady, indeed most heartily
despised the mercenary pedagogue, not only for his obsequiousness to the
rich, but on account of his severity to the children of the poor. About
two o'clock the young wag went out for a few minutes, and immediately
returned in great haste to inform the master, that Mr. Delaney, the
parish priest, and two other gentlemen wished to see him over at the
Cross-Keys, an inn which was kept at a place called the Nine Mile
House, within a few perches of the school. The parish priest, though an
ignorant, insipid old man, was the master's patron, and his slightest
wish a divine law to him. The little despot, forgetting his prey,
instantly repaired to the Cross-Keys, and in his absence, Thady,
together with the larger boys of the school, made M'Evoy acquainted with
the fraud about to be practised on him.
"His intintion," said they, "is to keep you at home to-night, in ordher
to get whatever money you have into his own hands, that he may keep it
safe for you; but if you give him a penny, you may bid farewell to it.
Put it in the curate's hands," added Thady, "or in my father's, an' thin
it'll be safe. At all evints, don't stay wid him this night. He'll take
your money and then turn you off in three or four weeks."
"I didn't intind to give him my money," replied Jemmy; "a schoolmaster I
met on my way here, bid me not to do it. I'll give it to the priest."
"Give it to the curate," said Thady—"wid him it'll be safe; for the
parish priest doesn't like to throuble himself wid anything of the
This was agreed upon; the boy was prepared against the designs of the
master, and a plan laid down for his future conduct. In the meantime,
the latter re-entered the school in a glow of indignation and
Thady, however, disregarded him; and as the master knew that the
influence of the boy's father could at any time remove him from the
parish, his anger subsided without any very violent consequences. The
parish priest was his avowed patron, it is true; but if the parish
priest knew that Mr. O'Rorke was dissatisfied with him, that moment
he would join Mr. O'Rorke in expelling him: from the neighborhood. Mr.
O'Rorke was a wealthy and a hospitable man, but the schoolmaster was
neither the one nor the other.
During school-hours that day, many a warm-hearted urchin entered into
conversation with the poor scholar; some moved by curiosity to hear his
brief and simple history; others anxious to offer him a temporary asylum
in their father's houses; and several to know if he had the requisite
books, assuring him if he had not they would lend, them to him. These
proofs of artless generosity touched the homeless youth's heart the more
acutely, inasmuch as he could perceive but too clearly that the eye
of the master rested upon him, from time to time, with no auspicious
When the scholars were dismissed, a scene occurred which was calculated
to produce a smile, although it certainly placed the poor scholar in a
predicament by no means agreeable. It resulted from a contest among
the boys as to who should first bring him home. The master who, by that
cunning for which the knavish are remarkable, had discovered in the
course of the day that his designs upon the boy's money was understood,
did not ask him to his house. The contest was, therefore, among the
scholars; who, when the master had disappeared from the school-room,
formed themselves into a circle, of which Jemmy was the centre, each
pressing his claim to secure him.
"The right's wid me," exclaimed Thady; "I stood to him all day, and I
say I'll have him for this night. Come wid me, Jimmy. Didn't I do most
for you to-day?"
"I'll never forget your kindness," replied poor Jemmy, quite alarmed at
the boisterous symptoms of pugilism which already began to appear. In
fact, many a tiny fist was shut, as a suitable, accompaniment to the
auguments with which they enforced their assumed rights.
"There, now," continued Thady, "that I puts an ind to it; he says he'll
never forget my kindness. That's enough; come wid me, Jimmy."
"Is it enough?" said a lad, who, if his father was less wealthy than
Thady's, was resolved to put strength of arm against strength of purse.
"Maybe it isn't enough! I say I bar it, if your fadher was fifty times
as rich!—Rich! Arrah, don't be comin' over us in regard of your riches,
man alive! I'll bring the sthrange boy home this very night, an' it
isn't your father's dirty money that'll prevint me."
"I'd advise you to get a double ditch about your nose," replied Thady,
"before you begin to say anything disrespectful aginst my father.—Don't
think to ballyrag over me. I'll bring the boy, for I have the best right
to him. Didn't I do (* outwit) the masther on his account?"
"A double ditch about my nose?"
"Are you able to fight me?"
"I'm able to thry it, anyhow, an' willin too."
"Do you say you're able to fight me?"
"I'll bring the boy home whether or not."
"Thady's not your match, Jack Ratigan," said another boy. "Why don't you
challenge your match?"
"If you say a word, I'll half-sole your eye. Let him say whether he's
able to fight me like a man or not. That's the chat."
"Half-sole my eye! Thin here I am, an' why don't you do it. You're
crowin' over a boy that you're bigger than. I'll fight you for Thady.
Now half-sole my eye if you dar! Eh? Here's my eye, now! Arrah, be
the holy man, I'd—Don't we know the white hen's in you. Didn't Barny
Murtagh cow you at the black-pool, on Thursday last, whin we wor
"Come, Ratigan," said Thady, "peel an' turn out. I say, I am able to
fight you; an' I'll make you ate your words aginst my father, by way of
givin' you your dinner. An' I'll make the dacent strange boy walk home
wid me over your body—that is, if he'd not be afraid to dirty his
Ratigan and Thady immediately set to, and in a few minutes there were
scarcely a little pair of fists present that were not at work, either
on behalf of the two first combatants, or with a view to determine their
own private rights in being the first to exercise hospitality towards
the amazed poor scholar. The fact was, that while the two largest boys,
were arguing the point, about thirty or forty minor disputes all ran
parallel to theirs, and their mode of decision was immediately adopted
by the pugnacious urchins of the school. In this manner they were
engaged, poor Jemmy attempting to tranquillize and separate them, when
the master, armed in all his terrors, presented himself.
With the tact of a sly old disciplinarian, he first secured the door,
and instantly commenced the agreeable task of promiscuous castigation.
Heavy and vindictive did his arm descend upon those whom he suspected
to have cautioned the boy against his rapacity; nor amongst the
warm-hearted lads, whom he thwacked so cunningly, was Thady passed over
with a tender hand. Springs, bouncings, doublings, blowing of fingers,
scratching of heads, and rubbing of elbows—shouts of pain, and
doleful exclamations, accompanied by action that displayed surpassing
agility-marked the effect with which he plied the instrument of
punishment. In the meantime the spirit of reaction, to use a modern
phrase, began to set in. The master, while thus engaged in dispensing
justice, first received a rather vigorous thwack on the ear from behind,
by an anonymous contributor, who gifted him with what is called a
musical ear, for it sang during five minutes afterwards. The monarch,
when turning round to ascertain the traitor, received another insult on
the most indefensible side, and that with a cordiality of manner, that
induced him to send his right hand reconnoitring the invaded part. He
wheeled round a second time with more alacrity than before; but nothing
less than the head of James could have secured him on this occasion. The
anonymous contributor sent him a fresh article. This was supported by
another kick behind: the turf began to fly; one after another came in
contact with his head and shoulders so rapidly, that he found himself,
instead of being the assailant, actually placed upon his defence.
The insurrection spread, the turf flew more thickly; his subjects closed
in upon him in a more compact body; every little fist itched to be
at him; the larger boys boldly laid in the facers, punched him in the
stomach, I treated him most opprobriously behind, every kick and cuff
accompanied by a memento of his cruelty; in short, they compelled him,
like Charles the Tenth, ignominiously to fly from his dominions.
On finding the throne vacant, some of them suggested that it ought to be
overturned altogether. Thady, however, who was the ringleader of
the rebellion, persuaded them to be satisfied with what they had
accomplished, and consequently succeeded in preventing them from
destroying the fixtures.
Again they surrounded the poor scholar, who, feeling himself the cause
of the insurrection, appeared an object of much pity. Such was his grief
that he could scarcely reply to them. Their consolation on witnessing
his distress was overwhelming. They desired him to think nothing of it;
if the master, they told him, should wreak his resentment on him, "be
the holy farmer," they would pay (* pay) the masther. Thady's claim
was now undisputed. With only the injury of a black eye, and a lip
swelled to the size of a sausage, he walked home in triumph, the poor
scholar accompanying him.
The master, who feared, that this open contempt of his authority,
running up, as it did, into a very unpleasant species of retaliation,
was something like a signal for him to leave the parish, felt rather
more of the penitent the next morning than did any of his pupils. He was
by no means displeased, therefore, to see them drop in about the usual
hour. They came, however, not one by one, but in compact groups, each
officered by two or three of the larger boys; for they feared that,
had they entered singly, he might have punished them singly, until his
vengeance should be satisfied. It was by bitter and obstinate struggles
that they succeeded in repressing their mirth, when he; appeared at his
desk with one of his eyes literally closed, and his nose considerably
improved in size and richness of color. When they were all assembled,
he hemmed several times, and, in a woo-begone tone of voice, split—by
a feeble attempt at maintaining authority and suppressing his
terrors—into two parts, that jarred most ludicrously, he briefly
addressed them as follows:—
"Gintlemen classics, I have been now twenty-six years engaged in
the propagation of Latin and Greek litherature, in conjunction wid
mathematics, but never, until yesterday, has my influence been spurned;
never, until yesterday, have sacrilegious hands been laid upon my
person; never, until yesterday, have I been kicked—insidiously,
ungallantly, and treacherously kicked—by my own subjects. No,
gintlemen,—and, whether I ought to bestow that respectable epithet
upon you after yesterday's proceedings is a matter which admits of
dispute,—never before has the lid of my eye been laid drooping, and
that in such a manner that I' must be blind to the conduct of half of
my pupils, whether I will or not. You have complained, it appears, of
my want of impartiality; but, God knows, you have compelled me to be
partial for a week to come. Neither blame me if I may appear to look
upon you with scorn for the next fortnight; for I am compelled to turn
up my nose at you much against my own inclination. You need never want
an illustration of the naso adunco of Horace again; I'm a living
example of it. That, and the doctrine of projectile forces, have been
exemplified in a manner that will prevent me from ever relishing these
subjects in future. No king can consider himself properly such until
after he has received the oil of consecration; but you, it appears,
think differently. You have unkinged me first, and anointed me
afterwards; but, I say, no potentate would relish such unction. It
smells confoundedly of republicanism. Maybe this is what you understand
by the Republic of Letters; but, if it be, I would advise you to change
your principles. You treated my ribs as if they were the ribs of a
common man; my shins you took liberties with even to excoriation;
my head you made a target of, for your hardest turf; and my nose you
dishonored to my fage. Was this ginerous? was it discreet? was it
subordinate? and, above all, was it classical? However, I will show you
what greatness of mind is. I will convince you that it is more noble and
god-like to forgive an injury, or rather five dozen injuries, than to
avenge one; when—hem—-yes, I say, when I—I—might so easily avenge
it. I now present you wid an amnesty: return to you allegiance; but
never, while in this seminary, under my tuition, attempt to take the
execution of the laws into your own hands. Homerians, come up!"
This address, into which he purposely threw a dash of banter and mock
gravity, delivered with the accompaniments of his swelled nose and
drooping eye, pacified his audience more readily than a serious one
would have done. It was received without any reply or symptom of
disrespect, unless the occasional squeak of a suppressed laugh, or the
visible shaking of many sides with inward convulsions, might be termed
In the course of the day, it is true, their powers of maintaining
gravity were put to a severe test, particularly when, while hearing a
class, he began to adjust his drooping eye-lid, or coax back his nose
into its natural, position. On these occasions a sudden pause might be
noticed in the business of the class; the boy's voice, who happened
to read at the time, would fail him; and, on resuming his sentence by
command of the master, its tone was tremulous, and scarcely adequate to
the task of repeating the words without his bursting into laughter. The
master observed all this clearly enough, but his mind was already made
up to take no further notice of what had happened.
All this, however, conduced to render the situation of the poor scholar
much more easy, or rather less penal, than it would otherwise have been.
Still the innocent lad was on all possible occasions a butt for this
miscreant. To miss a word was a pretext for giving him a cruel blow. To
arrive two or three minutes later than the appointed hour was certain
on his part to be attended with immediate punishment. Jemmy bore it all
with silent heroism. He shed no tear—he uttered no remonstrance; but,
under the anguish of pain so barbarously inflicted, he occasionally
looked round upon his schoolfellows with an I expression of silent
entreaty that was seldom lost upon them. Cruel to him the master often
was; but to inhuman barbarity the large scholars never permitted him to
descend. Whenever any of the wealthier farmers'-sons had neglected their
lessons, or deserved chastisement, the mercenary creature substituted a
joke for the birch; but as soon as the son of a poor man, or, which was
better still, the poor scholar, came before him, he transferred
that punishment which the wickedness or idleness of respectable boys
deserved, to his or their shoulders. For this outrageous injustice the
hard-hearted: old villain had some plausible excuse ready, so that
it was in many cases difficult for Jemmy's generous companions to
interfere; in his behalf, or parry the sophistry of such: a petty
In this miserable way did he pass over the tedious period of a year,
going about every night in rotation with the scholars, and severely
beaten on all possible occasions by the master. His conduct and manners
won him: the love and esteem of all except his tyrant instructor. His
assiduity was remarkable, and his progress in the elements of English
and classical literature surprisingly rapid. This added considerably
to his character, and procured him additional respect. It was not long
before he made himself useful and obliging to all the boys beneath his
standing in the school. These services he rendered with an air of such
kindness, and a grace so naturally winning, that the attachment of
his schoolfellows increased towards him from day to day. Thady was his
patron on all occasions: neither did the curate neglect him. The latter
was his banker, for the boy had very properly committed his purse to his
keeping. At the expiration of every quarter the schoolmaster received
the amount of his bill, which he never failed to send in, when due.
Jemmy had not, during his first year's residence in the south, forgotten
to request the kind curate's interference with the landlord, on behalf
of his father. To be the instrument of restoring his family to their
former comfortable holding under Colonel B———; would have afforded
him, without excepting the certainty of his own eventual success, the
highest gratification. Of this, however, there was no hope, and nothing
remained for him but assiduity in his studies, and patience under the
merciless scourge of his teacher. In addition to an engaging person and
agreeable manners, nature had gifted him with a high order of intellect,
and great powers of acquiring knowledge. The latter he applied to the
business before him with indefatigable industry. The school at; which
he settled was considered the first in Munster; and the master,
notwithstanding his known severity, stood high, and justly so, in
the opinion of the people, as an excellent classical and mathematical
scholar. Jemmy applied himself to the study of both, and at the
expiration of his second year had made such progress that he stood
without a rival in the school.
It is usual, as we have said, for the poor scholar to go night after
night, in rotation, with his schoolfellows; he is particularly welcome
in the houses of those farmers whose children are not so far advanced
as himself. It is expected that he should instruct them in the evenings,
and enable them, to prepare their lessons for the following day, a task
which he always performs with pleasure, because in teaching them he
is confirming his own mind in the knowledge which he has previously
acquired. Towards the end of the second year, however, he ceased
to circulate in this manner. Two or three of the most independent
parishioners, whose sons were only commencing their studies, agreed to
keep him week about; an arrangement highly convenient to him, as by that
means he was not so frequently dragged, as he had been, to the remotest
parts of the parish. Being an expert penman, he acted also as secretary
of grievances to the poor, who frequently employed him to draw up
petitions to obdurate landlords, or to their more obdurate agents, and
letters to soldiers in all parts of the world, from their anxious and
affectionate relations. All these little services he performed kindly
and promptly; many a blessing was fervently invoked upon his head; the
"good word" and "the prayer" were all they could afford, as they said,
"to the bouchal dhas oge * that tuck the world an him for sake o' the
larnin', an' that hasn't the kindliness o' the mother's breath an' the
mother's hand near him, the crathur."
* The pretty young boy. Boy in Ireland does not always
About the middle of the third year he was once more thrown upon the
general hospitality of the people. The three farmers with whom he had
lived for the preceding six months emigrated to America, as did many
others of that class which, in this country, most nearly approximates to
the substantial yeomanry of England. The little purse, too, which he
had placed in the hands of the kind priest, was exhausted; a season of
famine, sickness, and general distress had set in; and the master, on
understanding that he was without money, became diabolically savage.
In short, the boy's difficulties increased to a perplexing degree. Even
Thady and his grown companions, who usually interposed in his behalf
when the master became excessive in correcting him, had left the school,
and now the prospect before him was dark and cheerless indeed. For a few
months longer, however, he struggled on, meeting every difficulty with
meek endurance. From his very boyhood he had reverenced the sanctity of
religion, and was actuated by a strong devotional spirit. He trusted in
God, and worshipped Him night and morning with a sincere heart.
At this crisis he was certainly an object of pity; his clothes, which,
for some time before had been reduced to tatters, he had replaced by a
cast-off coat and small-clothes, a present from his friend the Curate,
who never abandoned him. This worthy young man could not afford him
money, for as he had but fifty pounds a year, with which to clothe,
subsist himself, keep a horse, and pay rent, it was hardly to be
expected that his benevolence could be extensive. In addition to this,
famine and contagious disease raged with formidable violence in the
parish; so that the claims upon his bounty of hundreds who lay huddled
together in cold cabins, in out-houses, and even behind ditches, were
incessant as well, as heart-rending. The number of interments that took
place daily in the parish was awful; nothing could be seen but funerals
attended by groups of ragged and emaciated creatures from whose hollow
eyes gleamed forth the wolfish fire of famine. The wretched mendicants
were countless, and the number of coffins that lay on the public
roads—where, attended by the nearest relatives of the deceased, they
had been placed for the purpose of procuring charity—were greater than
ever had been remembered by the oldest inhabitant.
Such was the state of the parish when our poor scholar complained one
day in school of severe illness. The early symptoms of the prevailing
epidemic were well known; and, on examining more closely into his
situation, it was clear that, according to the phraseology of the
people, he had "got the faver on his back"—had caught "a heavy load
of the faver." The Irish are particularly apprehensive of contagious
maladies. The moment it had been discovered that Jemmy was infected, his
schoolfellows avoided him with a feeling of terror scarcely credible,
and the inhuman master was delighted at any circumstance, however
calamitous, that might afford him a pretext for driving the friendless
youth out of the school.
"Take," said he, "every thing belongin' to you out of my establishment:
you were always a plague to me, but now more so than ever. Be quick,
sirra, and nidificate for yourself somewhere else. Do you want to
thranslate my siminary into an hospital, and myself into Lazarus, as
president? Go off, you wild goose! and conjugate aegroto wherever
you find a convenient spot to do it in." The poor boy silently and with
difficulty arose, collected his books, and, slinging on his satchel,
looked to his schoolfellows, as if he had said, "Which of you will
afford me a place where to lay my aching head?" All, however, kept aloof
from him; he had caught the contagion, and the contagion, they knew, had
swept the people away in vast numbers. At length he spoke. "Is there any
boy among you," he inquired, "who will bring me home? You know I am a
stranger, an' far from my own, God help me!"
This was followed by a profound silence. Not one of those who had so
often befriended him, or who would, on any other occasion, share their
bed and their last morsel with him, would even touch his person, much
less allow him, when thus plague-stricken, to take shelter under their
roof. Such are the effects of selfishness, when it is opposed only by
the force of those natural qualities that are not elevated into a sense
of duty by clear and profound views of Christian truth. It is one thing
to perform a kind action from constitutional impulse, and another to
perform it as a fixed duty, perhaps contrary to that impulse.
Jemmy, on finding himself avoided like a Hebrew leper of old, silently
left the school, and walked on without knowing whither he should
ultimately direct his steps. He thought of his friend the priest, but
the distance between him and his place of abode was greater, he felt,
than his illness would permit him to travel. He walked on, therefore,
in such a state of misery as can scarcely be conceived, much less
described. His head ached excessively, an intense pain shot like
death-pangs through his lower back and loins, his face was flushed, and
his head giddy. In this state he proceeded, without money or friends;
without a house to shelter him, or a bed on which to lie, far from
his own relations, and with the prospect of death, under circumstances
peculiarly dreadful, before him! He tottered on, however, the earth, as
he imagined, reeling under him; the heavens, he thought, streaming with
fire, and the earth indistinct and discolored. Home, the paradise of the
absent—home, the heaven of the affections—with all its tenderness and
blessed sympathies, rushed upon his heart. His father's deep but quiet
kindness, his mother's sedulous love; his brothers, all that they had
been to him—these, with their thousand heart-stirring associations,
started into life before him again and again. But he was now ill, and
the mother—Ah! the enduring sense of that mother's love placed her
brightest, and strongest, and tenderest, in the far and distant group
which his imagination bodied forth.
"Mother!" he exclaimed—"Oh, mother, why—why did I ever lave you?
Mother! the son you loved is dyin' without a kind word, lonely and
neglected, in a strange land! Oh, my own mother! why did I ever lave
The conflict between his illness and his affections overcame him; he
staggered—he grasped as if for assistance at the vacant air—he fell,
and lay for some time in a state of insensibility.
The season was then that of midsummer, and early meadows were falling
before the scythe. As the boy sank to the earth, a few laborers were
eating their scanty dinner of bread and milk so near him, that only
a dry low ditch ran between him and them. They had heard his words
indistinctly, and one of them was putting the milk bottle to his lips
when, attracted by the voice, he looked in the direction of the speaker,
and saw him fall. They immediately recognized "the poor scholar," and in
a moment were attempting to recover him.
"Why thin, my poor fellow, what's a shaughran wid you?"
Jemmy started for a moment, looked about him, and asked, "Where am I?"
"Faitha, thin, you're in Rory Connor's field, widin a few perches of the
high-road. But what ails you, poor boy? Is it sick you are?"
"It is," he replied; "I have got the faver. I had to lave school;
none o' them would take me home, an' I doubt I must die in a Christian
counthry under the open canopy of heaven. Oh, for God's sake, don't lave
me! Bring me to some hospital, or into the next town, where people may
know that I'm sick, an' maybe some kind Christian will relieve me."
The moment he mentioned "faver," the men involuntarily drew back, after
having laid him reclining against the green ditch.
"Thin, thundher an' turf, what's to be done?" exclaimed one of them,
thrusting his spread fingers into his hair. "Is the poor boy to die
widout help among Christyeens like us?"
"But hasn't he the sickness?" exclaimed another: "an' in that case,
Pether, what's to be done?"
"Why, you gommoch, isn't that what I'm wantin' to know? You wor ever and
always an ass, Paddy, except before you wor born, an' thin you wor like
Major M'Curragh, worse nor nothin'. Why the sarra do you be spakin'
about the sickness, the Lord protect us, whin you know I'm so timersome
"But considher," said another, edging off from Jemmy, however, "that
he's a poor scholar, an' that there's a great blessin' to thim that
assists the likes of him."
"Ay, is there that, sure enough, Dan; but you see—blur-an-age, what's
to be done? He can't die this way, wid nobody wid him but himself."
"Let us help him!" exclaimed another, "for God's sake, an' we won't be
apt to take it thin."
"Ay, but how can we help him, Frank? Oh, bedad, it 'ud be a murdherin'
shame, all out, to let the crathur die by himself, widout company, so it
"No one wul take him in, for fraid o' the sickness. Why, I'll tell
you what we'll do:—Let us shkame the remainder o' this day off o' the
Major, an' build a shed for him on the road-side here, jist against the
ditch. It's as dhry as powdher. Thin we can go through the neighbors,
an' git thim to sit near him time about, an' to bring him little
dhreeniens o' nourishment."
"Divil a purtier! Come thin, let us get a lot o' the neighbors, an' set
about it, poor bouchal. Who knows but it may bring down a blessin' upon
us aither in this world or the next."
"Amin! I pray Gorra! an' so it will sure I doesn't the Catechiz say
it? 'There is but one Church,' says the Catechiz, 'one Faith, an' one
Baptism.' Bedad, there's a power o' fine larnin' in the same Catechiz,
so there is, an' mighty improvin'."
An Irishman never works for wages with half the zeal which he displays
when working for love. Ere many hours passed, a number of the neighbors
had assembled, and Jemmy found himself on a bunch of clean straw, in a
little shed erected for him at the edge of the road.
Perhaps it would be impossible to conceive a more gloomy state of misery
than that in which young M'Evoy found himself. Stretched on the side
of the public road, in a shed formed of a few loose sticks covered
over with "scraws," that is, the sward of the earth pared into thin
stripes—removed above fifty perches from any human habitation—his body
racked with a furious and oppressive fever—his mind conscious of all
the horrors by which he was surrounded—without the comforts even of a
bed or bedclothes—and, what was worst of all, those from whom he might
expect kindness, afraid; to approach him! Lying helpless, under these
circumstances, it ought not to be wondered at, if he wished that death
might at once close his extraordinary sufferings, and terminate those
straggles which filial piety had prompted him to encounter.
This certainly is a dark picture, but our humble hero knew that even
there the power and goodness of God could support him. The boy trusted
in God; and when removed into his little shed, and stretched upon his
clean straw, he felt that his situation was, in good sooth, comfortable
when contrasted with what it might have been, if left to perish behind a
ditch, exposed to the scorching-heat of the sun by day, and the dews
of heaven by night. He felt the hand of God even in this, and placed
himself, with a short but fervent prayer, under his fatherly protection.
Irishmen however, are not just that description of persons who can
pursue their usual avocations, and see a fellow-creature-die, without
such attentions as they can afford him; not precisely so bad as that,
gentle reader! Jemmy had not been two hours on his straw, when a second
shed much larger than his own, was raised within a dozen yards of it:
In this a fire was lit; a small pot was then procured, milk was sent
in, and such other little comforts brought together, as they supposed
necessary for the sick boy. Having accomplished these matters, a kind of
guard was set to watch and nurse-tend him; a pitchfork was got, on the
prongs of which they intended to reach him bread across the ditch; and
a long-shafted shovel was borrowed, on which to furnish him drink with
safety to themselves. That inextinguishable vein of humor, which in
Ireland mingles even with death and calamity, was also visible here. The
ragged, half-starved creatures laughed heartily at the oddity of their
own inventions, and enjoyed the ingenuity with which they made shift
to meet the exigencies of the occasion, without in the slightest degree
having their sympathy and concern for the afflicted youth lessened.
When their arrangements were completed, one of them (he of the scythe)
made a little whey, which, in lieu of a spoon, he stirred with the
end of his tobacco-pipe; he then extended it across the ditch upon the
shovel, after having put it in a tin porringer.
"Do you want a taste o' whay, avourneen?"
"Oh, I do," replied Jemmy; "give me a drink for God's sake."
"There it is, a bouchal, on the shovel. Musha if myself rightly knows
what side you're lyin' an, or I'd put it as near your lips as I could.
Come, man, be stout, don't be cast down at all at all; sure, bud-an-age,
we' shovelin' the way to you, any how."
"I have it," replied the boy—"oh, I have it. May God never forget this
to you, whoever you are."
"Faith, if you want to know who I am; I'm Pettier Connor the mower, that
never seen to-morrow. Be Gorra, poor boy, you mustn't let your spirits
down at all at all. Sure the neighbors is all bint to watch an' take
care of you.—May I take away the shovel?—an' they've built a brave
snug shed here beside yours, where they'll stay wid you time about until
you get well. We'll feed you wid whay enough, bekase we've made up our
minds to stale lots o' sweet milk for you. Ned Branagan an' I will milk
Kody Hartigan's cows to-night, wid the help o' God. Divil a bit sin in
it, so there isn't, an' if there is, too, be my sowl there's no harm in
it any way—for he's but a nager himself, the same Rody. So, acushla,
keep a light heart, for, be Gorra, you're sure o' the thin pair o'
throwsers, any how. Don't think you're desarted—for you're not. It's
all in regard o' bein' afeard o' this faver, or it's not this way you'd
be; but, as I said a while agone, when you want anything, spake, for
you'll still find two or three of us beside you here, night an' day.
Now, won't you promise to keep your mind asy, when you know that we're
"God bless you," replied Jemmy, "you've taken a weight off of my heart.
I thought I'd die wid nobody near me at all."
"Oh, the sorra fear of it. Keep your heart up. We'll stale lots o' milk
for you. Bad scran to the baste in the parish but we'll milk, sooner nor
you'd want the whay, you crathur you."
The boy felt relieved, but his malady increased; and were it not that
the confidence of being thus watched and attended to supported him, it
is more than probable he would have sunk under it.
When the hour of closing the day's labor arrived, Major ——— came down
to inspect the progress which his mowers had made, and the goodness of
his crop upon his meadows. No sooner was he perceived at a distance,
than the scythes were instantly resumed, and the mowers pursued their
employment with an appearance of zeal and honesty that could not be
On arriving at the meadows, however, he was evidently startled at the
miserable day's work they had performed.
"Why, Connor," said he, addressing the nurse-tender, "how is this? I
protest you have not performed half a day's labor! This is miserable and
"Bedad, Major, it's thrue for your honor, sure enough. It's a poor day's
work, the I never a doubt of it. But be all the books; that never was
opened or shut, busier men! than we wor since mornin' couldn't be had;
for love or money. You see, Major, these meadows, bad luck to them!—God
pardon me for cursin' the harmless crathurs, for sure 'tisn't their
fau't, sir: but you see, Major, I'll insinse you into it. Now look
here, your honor. Did you ever see deeper: meadow nor that same, since
you war foal—-hem—sintce you war born, your honor? Maybe, your honor,
Major, 'ud just take the scythe an' sthrive to cut a swaythe?"
"Nonsense, Connor; don't you know I cannot."
"Thin, be Gorra, sir, I wish you could; thry it. I'd kiss the book, we
did more labor, an' worked harder this day, nor any day for the last
fortnight. If it was light grass, sir—see here, Major, here's alight
bit—now, look at how the scythe runs through it! Thin look at here
agin—just observe this, Major—why, murdher alive, don't you see how
slow she goes through that where the grass is heavy! Bedad, Major,
you'll be made up this suson wid your hay, any how. Divil carry the
finer meadow ever I put the scythe in nor this same meadow, God bless
"Yes, I see it, Connor; I agree with you as to its goodness. But the
reason of that is, Connor, that I always direct my steward myself in
laying it down for grass. Yes, you're right, Connor; if the meadow were
light, you could certainly mow comparatively a greater space in a day."
"Be the livin' farmer, God pardon me for swearin', it's a pleasure to
have dalins wid a gintleman like you, that knows things as cute as
if you war a mower yourself, your honor. Bedad, I'll go bail, sir, it
wouldn't be hard to tache you that same."
"Why, to tell you the truth, Connor, you have hit me off pretty well.
I'm beginning to get a taste for agriculture."
"But," said Connor, scratching his head, "won't your honor allow us the
price of a glass, or a pint o' portlier, for our hard day's work. Bad
cess to me, sir, but this meadow 'ill play the puck wid us afore we
get it finished.—Atween ourselves, sir—if it wouldn't be takin'
freedoms—if you'd look to your own farmin' yourself. The steward, sir,
is a dacent kind of a man; but, sowl, he couldn't hould a candle to your
honor in seein' to the best way of doin' a thing, sir. Won't you allow
us glasses apiece, your honor? Faix, we're kilt entirely, so we are."
"Here is half-a-crown among you, Connor; but don't get drunk."
"Dhrunk! Musha, long may you reign, Sir! Be the scythe in my hand, I'd
rather—Och, faix, you're one o' the ould sort, sir—the raal Irish
gintleman, your honor. An' sure your name's far and near for that, any
Connor's face would have done the heart of Brooke or Cruikshank good,
had either of them seen it charged with humor so rich as that which
beamed upon it, when the Major left them to enjoy their own comments
upon what had happened.
"Oh, be the livin' farmer," said Connor, "are we all alive at all afther
doin' the Major! Pp., thin, the curse o' the crows upon you, pijor,
darlin', but you are a Manus!* The damn' rip o' the world, that wouldn't
give the breath he breathes to the poor for God's sake, and he'll threwn
a man half-a-crown that 'll blarney him for farmin', and him doesn't
know the differ atween a Cork-red a Yellow-leg."**
* A soft booby easily hoaxed.
**Different kinds of potatoes.
"Faith, he's the boy that knows how to make a Judy of himself any way,
Pether," exclaimed another. "The divil a hapurt'h asier nor to
give these Quality the bag to hould, so there isn't. An' they think
themselves so cute, too!"
"Augh!" said a third, "couldn't a man find the soft side o' them as asy
as make out the way to' his own nose, widout being led to it. Divil a
sin it is to do them, any way. Sure, he thinks we wor tooth an' nail at
the meadow all day; an' me thought I'd never recover it, to see Pether
here—the rise he tuck out of him! Ha, ha, ha—och, och, murdher, oh!"
"Faith," exclaimed Connor, "'twas good, you see, to help the poor
scholar; only for it we couldn't get shkamin' the half-crown out of him.
I think we ought to give the crathur half of it, an' him so sick: he'll
be wantin' it worse nor ourselves."
"Oh, be Gorra, he's fairly entitled to that. I vote him fifteen pince."
"Surely!" they exclaimed unanimously. "Tundher-an'-turf! wasn't he the
manes of gettin' it for us?"
"Jemmy, a bouchal," said Connor, across the ditch to M'Evoy, "are you
"Sleepin'! Oh, no," replied Jemmy; "I'd give the wide world for one wink
of asy sleep."
"Well, aroon, here's fifteen pince for you, that we skham—Will I tell
him how we cot it?"
"No, don't," replied his neighbors; "the boy's given to devotion, and
maybe might scruple to take it."
"Here's fifteen pince, avourneen, on the shovel, that we're givin' you
for God's sake. If you over * this, won't you offer up a prayer for us?
Won't you, avick?"
*That is—to get over—to survive.
"I can never forget your kindness," replied Jemmy; "I will always pray
for you, and may God for ever bless you and yours!
"Poor crathur! May the Heavens above have prosthration on him! Upon my
sowl, it's good to have his blessin' an' his prayer. Now don't fret,
Jemmy; we're lavin' you wid a lot o' neighbors here. They'll watch
you time about, so that whin you want anything, call, avourneen, an'
there'll still be some one here to answer. God bless you, an' restore
you, till we come wid the milk we'll stale for you, wid the help o' God.
Bad cess to me, but it 'ud be a mortual sin, so it would, to let the
poor boy die at all, an' him so far from home. For, as the Catechiz
says 'There is but one Faith, one Church, and one Baptism!' Well, the
readin' that's in that Catechiz is mighty improvin', glory be to God!"
It would be utterly impossible to detail the affliction which our poor
scholar suffered in this wretched shed, for the space of a fortnight,
notwithstanding the efforts of those kind-hearted people to render his
The little wigwam they had constructed near him was never, even for a
moment, during his whole illness, without two or three persons ready to
attend him. In the evening their numbers increased; a fire was always
kept burning, over which a little pot for making whey or gruel was
suspended. At night they amused each other with anecdotes and laughter,
and occasionally with songs, when certain that their patient was not
asleep. Their exertions to steal milk for him were performed with
uncommon glee, and related among themselves with great humor. These
thefts would have been unnecessary, had not the famine which then
prevailed through the province been so excessive. The crowds that
swarmed about the houses of wealthy farmers, supplicating a morsel to
keep body and soul together, resembled nothing which our English readers
ever had an opportunity of seeing. Ragged, emaciated creatures, tottered
about with an expression of wildness and voracity in their gaunt
features; fathers and mothers reeled under the burthen of their beloved
children, the latter either sick, or literally expiring for want of
food; and the widow, in many instances, was compelled to lay down her
head to die, with the wail, the feeble wail, of her withered orphans
mingling with her last moans! In such a state of things it was difficult
to procure a sufficient quantity of milk to allay the natural thirst
even of one individual, when parched by the scorching heat of a fever.
Notwithstanding this, his wants were for the most part anticipated, so
far as their means would allow them; his shed was kept waterproof; and
either shovel or pitchfork always ready to be extended to him, by way of
substitution for the right hand of fellowship.
When he called for anything, the usual observation was, "Husht! the
crathur's callin'. I must take the shovel an' see what he wants."
There were times, it is true, when the mirth of the poor fellows was'
very low, for hunger was generally among themselves; there were
times when their own little shed presented a touching and melancholy
spectacle—perhaps we ought also to add, a noble one; for, to
contemplate a number of men, considered rude and semi-barbarous,
devoting themselves, in the midst of privations the most cutting and
oppressive, to the care and preservation of a strange lad, merely
because they knew him to be without friends and protection, is to
witness a display of virtue truly magnanimous. The food on which some
of the persons were occasionally compelled to live, was blood boiled up
with a little oatmeal; for when a season of famine occurs in Ireland,
the people usually bleed the cows and bullocks to preserve themselves
from actual starvation. It is truly a sight of appalling misery to
behold feeble women gliding across the country, carrying their cans and
pitchers, actually trampling upon fertility, and fatness, and collected
in the corner of some grazier's farm waiting, gaunt and ravenous as
Ghouls, for their portion of blood. During these melancholy periods of
want, everything in the shape of an esculent disappears. The miserable
creatures will pick up chicken-weed, nettles, sorrell, bug-loss,
preshagh, and sea-weed, which they will boil and eat with the voracity
of persons writhing under the united agonies of hunger and death! Yet
the very country thus groaning under such a terrible sweep of famine is
actually pouring from all her ports a profusion of food, day after day;
flinging it from her fertile bosom, with the wanton excess of a prodigal
oppressed by abundance.
Despite, however, of all the poor scholar's nurse-guard suffered, he was
attended with a fidelity of care and sympathy which no calamity could
shake. Nor was this care fruitless; after the fever had passed through
its usual stages he began to recover. In fact, it has been observed
very truly, that scarcely any person has been known to die under
circumstances similar to those of the poor scholar. These sheds, the
erection of which is not unfrequent in case of fever, have the advantage
of pure free air, by which the patient is cooled and refreshed. Be the
cause of it what it may, the fact has been established, and we feel
satisfaction in being able to adduce our humble hero as an additional
proof of the many recoveries which take place in situations apparently
so unfavorable to human life. But how is it possible to detail what
M'Evoy suffered during this fortnight of intense agony? Not those
who can command the luxuries of life—not those who can reach
its comforts—nor those who can supply themselves with its bare
necessaries—neither the cotter who struggles to support his wife and
helpless children—the mendicant who begs from door to door—nor even
the felon in his cell—can imagine what he felt in the solitary misery
of his feverish bed. Hard is the heart that cannot feel his sorrows,
when, stretched beside the common way, without a human face to look
on, he called upon the mother whose brain, had she known his situation,
would have been riven—whose affectionate heart would have been broken,
by the knowledge of his affliction. It was a situation which afterwards
appeared to him dark and terrible. The pencil of the painter could
not depict it, nor the pen of the poet describe it, except like a dim
vision, which neither the heart nor the imagination are able to give to
the world as a tale steeped in the sympathies excited by reality.
His whole heart and soul, as he afterwards acknowledged, were, during
his trying illness, at home. The voices of his parents, of his sisters,
and of his brothers, were always in his ears; their countenances
surrounded his cold and lonely shed; their hands touched him; their eyes
looked upon him in sorrow—and their tears bedewed him. Even there, the
light of his mother's love, though she herself was distant, shone upon
his sorrowful couch; and he has declared, that in no past moment
of affection did his soul ever burn with a sense of its presence so
strongly as it did in the heart-dreams of his severest illness. But God
is love, and "temporeth the wind to the shorn lamb."
Much of all his sufferings would have been alleviated, were it not that
his two best friends in the parish, Thady and the curate, had been
both prostrated by the fever at the same time with himself. There was
consequently no person of respectability in the neighborhood cognizant
of his situation. He was left to the humbler class of the peasantry, and
honorably did they, with all their errors and ignorance, discharge those
duties which greater wealth and greater knowledge would, probably, have
On the morning of the last day he ever intended to spend in the shed,
at eleven o'clock he hoard the sounds of horses' feet passing along
the road, The circumstance was one quite familiar to him; but these
horsemen, whoever they might be, stopped, and immediately after, two
respectable looking men, dressed in black, approached him. His forlorn
state and frightfully wasted appearance startled them, and the younger
of the two asked, in a tone of voice which went directly to his heart,
how it was that they found him in a situation so desolate.
The kind interest implied by the words, and probably a sense of his
utterly destitute state, affected him strongly, and he burst into tears.
The strangers looked at each other, then at him; and if looks could
express sympathy, theirs expressed it.
"My good boy," said the first, "how is it that we find you in a
situation so deplorable and wretched as this? Who are you, or why is it
that you have not a friendly roof I to shelter you?"
"I'm a poor scholar," replied Jemmy, "the son of honest but reduced
parents: I came to this part of the country with the intention of
preparing myself for Maynooth and, if it might plase God, with the hope
of being able to raise them out of their distress."
The strangers looked more earnestly at the boy; sickness had touched his
fine intellectual features into a purity of expression almost ethereal.
His fair skin appeared nearly transparent, and the light of truth and
candor lit up his countenance with a lustre which affliction could not
The other stranger approached him more nearly, stooped for a moment, and
felt his pulse.
"How long have you been in this country?" he inquired.
"Nearly three years."
"You have been ill of the fever which is so prevalent; how did you come
to be left to the chance of perishing upon the highway?"
"Why, sir, the people were afeard to let me into their houses in
consequence of the faver. I got ill in school, sir, but no boy would
venture to bring me home, an' the master turned me out, to die, I
believe. May God forgive him!"
"Who was your master, my child?"
"The great' Mr.———, sir. If Mr. O'Brien, the curate of the parish,
hadn't been ill himself at the same time, or if Mr. O'Rorke's son,
Thady, hadn't been laid on his back, too, sir, I wouldn't suffer what I
"Has the curate been kind to you?"
"Sir, only for him and the big boys I couldn't stay in the school, on
account of the master's cruelty, particularly since my money was out."
"You are better now—are you not?" said the other gentleman.
"Thank God, sir!—oh, thanks be to the Almighty, I am! I expect to be
able to lave this place to-day or to-morrow."
"And where do you intend to go when you recover?"
The boy himself had not thought of this, and the question came on him so
unexpectedly, that he could only reply—
"Indeed, sir, I don't know."
"Had you," inquired the second stranger, "testimonials from your parish
"I had, sir: they are in the hands of Mr. O'Brien. I also had a
character from my father's landlord."
"But how," asked the other, "have you existed here during your illness?
Have you been long sick?"
"Indeed I can't tell you, sir, for I don't know how the time passed
at all; but I know, sir, that there were always two or three people
attendin' me. They sent me whatever they thought I wanted, upon a shovel
or a pitchfork, across the ditch, because they were afraid to come near
During the early part of the dialogue, two or three old hats, or
caubeens, might have been seen moving steadily over from the wigwam
to the ditch which ran beside the shed occupied by M'Evoy. Here they
remained stationary, for those who wore them were now within hearing of
the conversation, and ready to give their convalescent patient a good
word, should it be necessary.
"How were you supplied with drink and medicine?" asked the younger
"As I've just told you, sir," replied Jemmy; "the neighbors here let me
want for nothing that they had. They kept me in more whey than I could
use; and they got me medicine, too, some way or other. But indeed, sir,
during a great part of the time I was ill, I can't say how they attended
me: I wasn't insinsible, sir, of what was goin' on about me."
One of those who lay behind the ditch now arose, and after a few hems
and scratchings of the head, ventured to join in the conversation.
"Pray have you, my man," said the elder of the two, "been acquainted
with the circumstances of this boy's illness?"
"Is it the poor scholar, my Lord?* Oh thin bedad it's myself that has
that. The poor crathur was in a terrible way all out, so he was. He
caught the faver in the school beyant, one day, an' was turned out by
the nager o' the world that he was larnin' from."
* The peasantry always address a Roman Catholic Bishop
as "My Lord."
"Are you one of the persons who attended him?"
"Och, och, the crathar! what could unsignified people like us do for
him, barrin' a thrifle? Any how, my Lord, it's the meracle o' the world
that he was ever able to over it at all. Why, sir, good luck to the one
of him but suffered as much, wid the help o' God, as 'ud overcome fifty
"How did you provide him with drink at such a distance from any human
"Throth, hard enough we found it, sir, to do that same: but sure,
whether or not, my Lord, we couldn't be sich nagers as to let him die
all out, for want o' sometlrm' to moisten his throath wid."
"I hope," inquired the other, "you had nothing to do in the
milk-stealing which has produced such an outcry in this immediate
"Milk-stalin'! Oh, bedad, sir, there never was the likes known afore
in the caunthry. The Lord forgive them, that did it! Be gorra, sir, the
wickedness o' the people': mighty improving if one 'ud take warnin' by
it, glory be to God!"
"Many of the fanners' cows have been milked at night, Connor—perfectly
drained. Even my own cows have not escaped; and we who have suffered are
certainly determined, if possible, to ascertain those who have committed
the theft. I, for my part, have gone even beyond my ability in relieving
the wants of the poor, during this period of sickness and famine; I
therefore deserved this the less."
"By the powdbers, your honor, if any gintleman desarved to have his cows
unmilked, it's yourself. But, as I said this minute, there's no end to
the wickedness o' the people, so there's not, although the Catechiz is
against them; for, says it, 'there is but one Faith, one Church, an' one
Baptism.' Now, sir, isn't it quare that people, wid sich words in the
book afore them, won't be guided by it? I suppose they thought it only a
white sin, sir, to take the milk, the thieves o' the world."
"Maybe, your honor," said another, "that it was only to keep the life in
some poor sick crathur that wanted it more nor you or the farmers, that
they did it. There's some o' the same farmers desarve worse, for they're
keepin' up the prices o' their male and praties upon the poor, an' did
so all along, that they might make money by our outlier destitution."
"That is no justification for theft," observed the graver of the two.
"Does any one among you suspect those who committed it in this instance?
If you do, I command you, as your Bishop, to mention them."
"How, for instance," added the other, "were you able to supply this sick
boy with whey during his illness?"
"Oh thin, gintlemen," replied Connor, dexterously parrying the question,
"but it's a mighty improvin' thing to see our own Bishop,—God spare
his Lordship to us!—an the Protestant minister o' the parish joinin'
together to relieve an' give good advice to the poor! Bedad, it's
settin' a fine example, so it is, to the Quality, if they'd take
patthern by it."
"Reply," said the Bishop, rather sternly, "to the questions we have
"The quistions, your Lordship? It's proud an' happy we'd be to do what
you want; but the sarra man among us can do it, barin' we'd say what we
ought not to say. That's the thruth, my Lord; an' surely 'tisn't your
Gracious Reverence that 'ud want us to go beyant that?"
"Certainly not," replied the Bishop. "I warn you both against falsehood
and fraud; two charges which might frequently be brought against you in
your intercourse with the gentry of the country, whom you seldom scruple
to deceive and mislead, by gliding into a character, when speaking to
them, that is often the reverse of your real one; whilst at the same
time you are both honest and sincere to persons of your own class. Put
away this practice, for it is both sinful and discreditable."
"God bless your Lordship! an' many thanks to your Gracious Reverence
for advisin' us! Well we know that it's the blessed thing to folly your
"Bring over that naked, starved-looking man, who is stirring the fire
under that pot," said the Hector. "He looks like Famine itself."
"Paddy Dunn! will you come over here to his honor, Paddy! He's goin'
to give you somethin," said Connor, adding of his own accord the last
clause of his message.
The tattered creature approached him with a gleam of expectation in his
eyes that appeared like insanity.
"God bless your honor for your goodness," exclaimed Paddy. "It's me
that's in it, sir!—Paddy Dunn, sir, sure enough; but, indeed, I'm the
next thing to my own ghost, sir, now God help me!"
"What, and for whom are you cooking?"
"Jist the smallest dhrop in life, sir, o' gruel, to keep the sowl in
that lonely crathur, sir, the poor scholar."
"Pray how long is it since you have eaten anything yourself?"
The tears burst from the eyes of the miserable creature as he replied—
"Before God in glory, your honor, an' in the presence of his Lordship
here, I only got about what 'ud make betther nor half a male widin the
last day, sir. 'Twas a weeshy grain o' male that I got from a friend;
an' as Ned Connor here tauld me that this crathur had nothin' to make
the gruel for him, why I shared it wid him, bekase he couldn't even beg
it, sir, if he wanted it, an' him not able to walk yit."
The worthy pastor's eyes glistened with a moisture that did him honor.
Without a word of observation, he slipped a crown into the hand of Dunn,
who looked at it as if he had been paralyzed.
"Oh thin," said he, fervently, "may every hair on your honor's head
become a mould-candle to light you into glory! The world's goodness is
in your heart, sir; an' may all the blessin's of Heaven rain down upon
you an' yours!"
The two gentlemen then gave assistance to the poor scholar, whom the
Bishop addressed in kind and encouraging language:
"Come to me, my good boy," he added, "and if, on further inquiry, I find
that your conduct has been such as I believe it to have been, you may
rest assured, provided also you continue worthy of my good opinion, that
I shall be a friend and protector to you. Call on me when you got well,
and I will speak to you at greater length."
"Well," observed Connor, when they were gone, "the divil's own hard
puzzle the Bishop had me in, about stalin' the milk. It went agin' the
grain wid me to tell him the lie, so I had to invint a bit o' truth to
keep my conscience clear; for sure there was not a man among us that
could tell him, barrin' we said that we oughtn't to say. Doesn't all the
world know that a man oughtn't to condimn himself? That was thruth, any
way; but divil a scruple I'd have in blammin' the other—not but that
he's one o' the best of his sort. Paddy Dunn, quit lookin' at that
crown, but get the shovel an' give the boy his dhrink—he's wantin' it."
The agitation of spirits produced by Jemmy's cheering interview with
the Bishop was, for three days afterwards, somewhat prejudicial to his
convalescence. In less than a week, however, he was comfortably settled
with Mr. O'Rorke's family, whose kindness proved to him quite as warm as
he had expected.
When he had remained with them a few days, he resolved to recommence
his studies under his tyrant master. He certainly knew that his future
attendance at the school would be penal to him, but he had always looked
forward to the accomplishment of his hopes as a task of difficulty and
distress. The severity to be expected from the master could not,
he thought, be greater than that which he had already suffered; he
therefore decided, if possible, to complete his education under him.
The school, when Jemmy appeared in it, had been for more than an hour
assembled, but the thinness of the attendance not only proved the woful
prevalence of sickness and distress in the parish, but sharpened the
pedagogue's vinegar aspect into an expression of countenance singularly
peevish and gloomy. When the lad entered, a murmur of pleasure and
welcome ran through the scholars, and joy beamed forth from every
countenance but that of his teacher. When the latter noticed this, his
irritability rose above restraint, and he exclaimed:—
"Silence! and apply to business, or I shall cause some of you to denude
immediately. No school ever can prosper in which that hirudo, called
a poor scholar, is permitted toleration. I thought, sarra, I told you
to nidificate and hatch your wild project undher some other wing than
"I only entrate you," replied our poor hero, "to suffer me to join the
class I left while I was sick, for about another year. I'll be very
quiet and humble, and, as far as I can, will do everything you wish me."
"Ah! you are a crawling reptile," replied the savage, "and, in my
opinion, nothing but a chate and impostor. I think you have imposed
yourself upon Mr. O'Brien for what you are not; that is, the son of an
honest man. I have no doubt, but many of your nearest relations died
after having seen their own funerals. Your mother, you runagate, wasn't
your father's wife, I'll be bail."
The spirit of the boy could bear this no longer; his eyes flashed, and
his sinews stood out in the energy of deep indignation.
"It is false," he exclaimed; "it is as false as your own cruel and
cowardly heart, you wicked and unprincipled tyrant! In everything you
have said of my father, mother, and friends, and of myself, too, you
are' a liar, from the hat on your head to the dirt undher your feet—a
liar, a coward, and a villain!"
The fury of the miscreant was ungovernable:—he ran at the still feeble
lad, and, by a stroke of his fist, dashed him senseless to the earth.
There were now no large boys in the school to curb his resentment, he
therefore kicked him in the back when he fell. Many voices exclaimed in
alarm—"Oh, masther! sir; don't kill him! Oh, sir! dear, don't kill him!
Don't kill poor Jemmy, sir, an' him still sick!"
"Kill him!" replied the master; "kill him, indeed! Faith, he'd be no
common man who could kill him; he has as many lives in him as a cat!
Sure, he can live behind a ditch, wid the faver on his back, wid-out
dying; and he would live if he was stuck on the spire of a steeple."
In the meantime the boy gave no symptoms of returning life, and the
master, after desiring a few of the scholars to bring him oat to the
air, became pale as death with apprehension. He immediately withdrew
to his private apartment, which joined the schoolroom, and sent out his
wife to assist in restoring him to animation. With some difficulty
this was accomplished. The unhappy boy at once remembered what had just
occurred; and the bitter tears gushed from his eyes, as he knelt down,
and exclaimed "Merciful Father of heaven and earth, have pity on me! You
see my heart, great God! and that what I did, I did for the best!"
"Avourneen," said the woman, "he's passionate, an' never mind him. Come
in an' beg his pardon for callin' him a liar, an' I'll become spokesman
for you myself. Come, acushla, an' I'll get lave for you to stay in the
"Oh, I'm hurted!" said the poor youth: "I'm hurted inwardly—somewhere
about the back, and about my ribs!" The pain he felt brought the tears
down his pale cheeks. "I wish I was at home!" said he. "I'll give up all
and go home!" The lonely boy then laid his head upon his hands, as he
sat on the ground, and indulged in a long burst of sorrow.
"Well," said a manly-looking little fellow, whilst the tears stood in
his eyes, "I'll tell my father this, anyhow. I know he won't let me come
to this school any more. Here, Jemmy, is a piece of my bread, maybe it
will do you good."
"I couldn't taste it, Frank dear," said Jemmy; "God bless you; but I
couldn't taste it."
"Do," said Frank; "maybe it will bate back the pain."
"Don't ask me, Frank dear," said Jemmy; "I couldn't ate it: I'm hurted
"Bad luck to me!" exclaimed the indignant boy, "if ever my ten toes will
darken this school door agin. By the livin' farmer, if they ax me at
home to do it, I'll run away to my uncle's, so I will. Wait, Jemmy, I'll
be big yit; an', be the blessed Gospel that's about my neck, I'll give
the same masther a shirtful of sore bones, the holy an' blessed minute
I'm able to do it."
Many of the other boys declared that they would acquaint their friends
with the master's cruelty to the poor scholar; but Jemmy requested them
not to do so, and said that he was determined to return home the moment
he should be able to travel.
The affrighted woman could not prevail upon him to seek a reconciliation
with her husband, although the expressions of the other scholars
induced her to press him to it, even to entreaty. Jemmy arose, and with
considerable difficulty reached the Curate's house, found him at home,
and, with tears in his eyes, related to him the atrocious conduct of the
"Very well," said this excellent man, "I am glad that I can venture to
ride as far as Colonel B———'s to-morrow. You must accompany me; for
decidedly such brutality cannot be permitted to go unpunished."
Jemmy knew that the curate was his friend; and although he would
not himself have thought of summoning the master to answer for his
barbarity, yet he acquiesced in the curate's opinion. He stopped that
night in the house of the worthy man to whom Mr. O'Brien had recommended
him on his first entering the town. It appeared in the morning, however,
that he was unable to walk; the blows which he had received were then
felt by him to be more dangerous than had been supposed. Mr. O'Brien, on
being informed of this, procured a jaunting-car, on which they both sat,
and at an easy pace reached the Colonel's residence.
The curate was shown into an ante-room, and Jemmy sat in the hall: the
Colonel joined the former in a few minutes. He had been in England and
on the continent, accompanied by his family, for nearly the last three
years, but had just returned, in order to take possession of a large
property in land and money, to which he succeeded at a very critical
moment, for his own estates were heavily encumbered. He was now
proprietor of an additional estate, the rent-roll of which was six
thousand per annum, and also master of eighty-five thousand pounds in
the funds. Mr. O'Brien, after congratulating him upon his good fortune,
introduced the case of our hero as one which, in his opinion, called for
the Colonel's interposition as a magistrate.
"I have applied to you, sir," he proceeded, "rather than to any other
of the neighboring gentlemen, because I think this friendless lad has a
peculiar claim upon any good offices you could render him."
"A claim upon me! How is that, Mr. O'Brien?"
"The boy, sir, is not a native of this province. His father was formerly
a tenant of yours, a man, as I have reason to believe, remarkable for
good conduct and industry. It appears that his circumstances, so long as
he was your tenant, were those of a comfortable independent farmer. If
the story which his son relates be true—and I, for one, believe it—his
family have been dealt with in a manner unusually cruel and iniquitous.
Your present agent, Colonel, who is known in his own neighborhood by the
nickname of Yellow Sam, thrust him out of hia farm, when his wife was
sick, for the purpose of putting into it a man who had married his
illegitimate daughter. If this be found a correct account of the
transaction, I have no hesitation in saying, that you, Colonel B———,
as a gentleman of honor and humanity, will investigate the conduct of
your agent, and see justice done to an honest man, who must have been
oppressed in your name, and under color of your authority."
"If my agent has dared to be unjust to a worthy tenant," said the
Colonel, "in order to provide for his bastard, by my sacred honor, he
shall cease to be an agent of mine! I admit, certainly, that from some
circumstances which transpired a few years ago, I have reason to suspect
his integrity. That, to be sure, was only so far as he and I were
concerned; but, on the other hand, during one or two visits I made to
the estate which he manages, I heard the tenants thank and praise him
with much gratitude, and all that sort of thing. There was 'Thank your
honor!'—'Long may you reign over us, sir!'—and, 'Oh, Colonel, you've
a mighty good man to your agent!' and so forth. I do not think, Mr.
O'Brien, that he has acted so harshly, or that he would dare to do it.
Upon my honor, I heard those warm expressions of gratitude from the lips
of the tenants themselves."
"If you knew the people in general, Colonel, as well as I do," replied
the curate, "you would admit, that such expressions are often either
cuttingly ironical, or the result of fear. You will always find, sir,
that the independent portion of the people have least of this forced
dissimulation among them. A dishonest and inhuman agent has in his own
hands the irresponsible power of harassing and oppressing the tenantry
under him. The class most hateful to the people are those low wretches
who spring up from nothing into wealth, accumulated by dishonesty
and rapacity. They are proud, overbearing, and jealous, even to
vindictiveness, of the least want of respect. It is to such upstarts
that the poorer classes are externally most civil; but it is also such
persons whom they most hate and abhor. They flatter them to their faces,
'tis true even to nausea; but they seldom spare them in their absence.
Of this very class, I believe, is your agent, Yellow Sam; so that any
favorable expressions you may have heard from your tenantry towards him,
were most probably the result of dissimulation and fear. Besides, sir,
here is a testimonial from M'Evoy's parish priest, in which his father
is spoken of as an honest, moral, and industrious man."
"If what you say, Mr. O'Brien, be correct," observed the Colonel, "you
know the Irish peasantry much better than I do. Decidedly, I have
always thought them in conversation exceedingly candid and sincere. With
respect to testimonials from priests to landlords in behalf of their
tenants, upon my honor I am sick of them. I actually received, about
four years ago, such an excellent character of two tenants, as induced
me to suppose them worthy of encouragement. But what was the fact? Why,
sir, they were two of the greatest firebrands on my estate, and put both
me and my agent to great trouble and expense. No, sir, I wouldn't give
a curse for a priest's testimonial upon such an occasion. These fellows
were subsequently convicted of arson on the clearest evidence, and
"Well, sir, I grant that you may have been misled in that instance.
However, from what I've observed, the two great faults of Irish
landlords are these:—In the first place, they suffer themselves
to remain ignorant of their tenantry; so much so, indeed, that they
frequently deny them access and redress when the poor people are anxious
to acquaint them with their grievances; for it is usual with landlords
to refer them to those very agents against whose cruelty and rapacity
they are appealing. This is a carte blanche to the agent to trample
upon them if he pleases. In the next place, Irish landlords too
frequently employ ignorant and needy men to manage their estates; men
who have no character, no property, or standing in society, beyond the
reputation of being keen shrewd, and active. These persons, sir, make
fortunes; and what means can they have of accumulating wealth, except by
cheating either the landlord or his tenants, or both? A history of
their conduct would be a black catalogue of dishonesty, oppression, and
treachery. Respectable men, resident on or-near the estate, possessing
both character and property, should always be selected for this
important trust. But, above all things, the curse of a tenantry is
a percentage agent. He racks, and drives, and oppresses, without
consideration either of market or produce, in order that his receipts
may be ample, and his own income large."
"Why, O'Brien, you appear to be better acquainted with all this sort of
thing than I, who am a landed proprietor."
"By the by, sir, without meaning you any disrespect, it is the landlords
of Ireland who know least about the great mass of its inhabitants; and
I might also add, about its history, its literature, the manners of the
people, their customs, and their prejudices. The peasantry know this,
and too often practise upon their ignorance. There is a landlord's Vade
mecum sadly wanted in Ireland, Colonel."
"Ah! very good, O'Brien, very good! Well, I shall certainly inquire into
this case, and if I find that Yellow Ham has been playing the oppressor,
out he goes. I am now able to manage him, which I could not readily do
before, for, by the by, he had mortgages on my property."
"I would take it, Colonel, as a personal favor, if you would investigate
the transaction I have mentioned."
"Undoubtedly I shall, and that very soon. But about this outrage
committed against the boy himself? We had better take his informations,
and punish the follow."
"Certainly; I think that is the best way. His conduct to the poor youth
has been merciless and detestable. We must put him out of this part of
"Call the lad in. In this case I shall draw up the informations myself,
although Gregg usually does that."
Jemmy, assisted by the curate, entered the room, and the humane Colonel
desired him, as he appeared ill, to sit down.
"What is your name?" asked the Colonel.
"James M'Evoy," he replied. "I'm the son, sir, of a man who was once a
tenant of yours."
"Ay! and pray how did he cease to be a tenant of mine?"
"Why, sir, your agent, Yallow Sam, put him out of our farm, when my
poor mother was on her sick-bed. He chated my father, sir, out of some
money—part of our rent it was, that he didn't give him a receipt for.
When my father went to him afterwards for the receipt, Yallow Sam abused
him, and called him a rogue, and that, sir, was what no man ever called
my father either before or since. My father, sir, threatened to tell
you about it, and you came to the country soon after; but Yallow Sam got
very great wid my father at that time, and sent him to sell bullocks for
him about fifty miles off, but when he come back again, you had left the
country. Thin, sir, Yallow Sam said nothing till the next half-year's
rent became due, whin he came down on my father for all—that is, what
he hadn't got the receipt for, and the other gale—and, without any
warning in the world, put him out. My father offered to pay all; but
he said he was a rogue, and that you had ordered him off the estate. In
less than a week after this he put a man that married a bastard daughter
of his own into our house and place. That's God's truth, sir; and you'll
find it so, if you inquire into it. It's a common trick of his to keep
back receipts, and make the tenants pay double."*
* This is the fact. The individual here alluded to,
frequently kept back receipts when receiving rents,
under pretence of hurry, and afterwards compelled the
tenants to pay the same gale twice!
"Sacred Heaven, O'Brien! can this be possible?"
"Your best way, Colonel, is to inquire into it."
"Was not your father able to educate you at home, my boy?"
"No, sir. We soon got into poverty after we left your farm; and another
thing, sir, there was no Latin school in our neighborhood."
"For what purpose did you become a poor scholar?"
"Why, sir, I hoped one day or other to be able to raise my father and
mother out of the distress that Yallow Sam brought on us."
"By Heaven! a noble aim, and a noble sentiment. And what has this d—d
fellow of a schoolmaster done to you?"
"Why, sir, yesterday, when I went back to the school, he abused me, and
said that he supposed that most of my relations were hanged; spoke ill
of my father; and said that my mother"—Here the tears started to his
eyes—he sobbed aloud.
"Go on, and be cool," said the Colonel. "What did he say of your
"He said, sir, that she was never married to my father. I know I was
wrong, sir; but if it was the king on his throne that said it of my
mother, I'd call him a liar. I called him a liar, and a coward, and a
villain: ay, sir, and if I had been able, I would have tramped him under
The Colonel looked steadily at him, but the open clear eye which the boy
turned upon him was full of truth and independence. "And you will find,"
said the soldier, "that this spirited defence of your mother will be the
most fortunate action of your life. Well; he struck you then, did he?"
"He knocked me down, sir, with his fist—then kicked me in the back and
sides. I think some of my ribs are broke."
"Ay!—no doubt, no doubt," said the Colonel. "And you were only after
recovering from this fever which is so prevalent?"
"I wasn't a week out of it, sir."
"Well, my boy, we shall punish him for you."
"Sir, would you hear me for a word or two, if it would be pleasing to
"Speak on," said the Colonel.
"I would rather change his punishment to—I would—that is—if it would
be agreeable to you—It's this, sir—I wouldn't throuble you now against
the master, if you'd be pleased to rightify my father, and punish Yallow
Sam. Oh, sir, for God's sake, put my heart-broken father into his farm
again! If you would, sir, I could shed my blood, or lay down my life
for you, or for any belonging to you. I'm but a poor boy, sir, low and
humble; but they say there's a greater Being than the greatest in this
world, that listens to the just prayers of the poor and friendless. I
was never happy, sir, since we left it—neither was any of us; and when
we'd sit cowld and hungry, about our hearth, We used to be talking of
the pleasant days we spent in it, till the tears would be smothered in
curses against him that put us out of it. Oh, sir, if you could know
all that a poor and honest family suffers, when they are thrown into
distress by want of feeling in their landlords, or by the dishonesty of
agents, you would consider my father's case. I'm his favorite son, sir,
and good right have I to speak for him. If you could know the sorrow,
the misery, the drooping down of the spirits, that lies upon the
countenances and the hearts of such people, you wouldn't, as a man and a
Christian, think it below you to spread happiness and contentment among
them again. In the morning they rise to a day of hardship, no matter
how bright and cheerful it may be to others—nor is there any hope of a
brighter day for them: and at night they go to their hard beds to strive
to sleep away their hunger in spite of cowld and want. If you could see
how the father of a family, after striving to bear up, sinks down at
last; if you could see the look he gives at the childhre that he would
lay down his heart's blood for, when they sit naked and hungry about
him; and the mother, too, wid her kind word and sorrowful smile, proud
of them in all their destitution, but her heart breaking silent! All the
time, her face wasting away. Her eye dim, and her strength gone—Sir,
make one such family happy—for all this has been in my father's house!
Give us back our light spirits, our pleasant days, and our cheerful
hearts again! We lost them through the villainy of your agent. Give
them back to us, for you can do it; but you can never pay us for what we
suffered. Give us, sir, our farm, our green fields, our house, and every
spot and nook that we had before. We love the place, sir, for its own
sake;—it is the place of our fathers, and our hearts are in it. I often
think I see the smooth river that runs through it, and the meadows
that I played in when I was a child;—the glen behind our house, the
mountains that rose before us when we left the door, the thorn-bush at
the garden, the hazels in the glen, the little beach-green beside the
river—Oh, sir, don't blame me for crying, for they are all before my
eyes, in my ears, and in my heart! Many a summer evening have I gone to
the march-ditch of the farm that my father's now in, and looked at the
place I loved, till the tears blinded me, and I asked it as a favor of
God to restore us to it! Sir, we are in great poverty at home; before
God we are; and my father's heart is breaking."
The Colonel drew his breath deeply, rubbed his hands, and as he looked
at the fine countenance of the boy—expressing, as it did, enthusiasm
and sorrow—his eye lightened with a gleam of indignation. It could
not be against the poor scholar; no, gentle reader, but against his own
"O'Brien," said he, "what do you think, and this noble boy is the son
of a man who belongs to a class of which I am ignorant! By Heaven, we
landlords are, I fear, a guilty race."
"Not all, sir," replied the Curate. "There are noble exceptions among
them; their faults are more the faults of omission than commission."
"Well, well, no matter. Come, I will draw up the informations against
this man; afterwards I have something to say to you, my boy," he added,
addressing Jemmy, "that will not, I trust, be unpleasant."
He then drew up the informations as strongly as he could word them,
after which Jemmy deposed to their truth and accuracy, and the Colonel,
rubbing his hands again, said—
"I will have the fellow secured. When you go into town, Mr. O'Brien,
I'll thank you to call on Meares, and hand him these. He will lodge the
miscreant in limbo this very night."
Jemmy then thanked him, and was about to withdraw, when the Colonel
desired him to remain a little longer.
"Now," said he, "your father has been treated inhumanly, I believe; but
no matter. That is not the question. Your sentiments, and conduct, and
your affection for your parents, are noble, my boy. At present, I say,
the question is not whether the history of your father's wrongs be true
or false; you, at least, believe it to be true. From this forward—but
by the by, I forgot; how could your becoming a poor scholar relieve your
"I intended to become a priest, sir, and then to help them."
"Ay! so I thought; and, provided your father were restored to the farm,
would you be still disposed to become a priest?"
"I would, sir; next to helping my father, that is what I wish to be."
"O'Brien, what would it cost to prepare him respectably for the
priesthood?—I mean to defray his expenses until he completes his
preparatory education, in the first place, and afterwards during his
residence in Maynooth?"
"I think two hundred pounds, sir, would do it easily and respectably."
"I do not think it would. However, do you send him—but first let me ask
what progress he has already made?"
"He has read—in fact he is nearly prepared to enter Maynooth. His
progress has been very rapid."
"Put him to some respectable boarding-school for a year; then let him
enter Maynooth, and I will bear the expense. But remember I do not adopt
this course in consequence of his father's history. Not I, by Jupiter; I
do it on his own account. He is a noble boy, and full of fine qualities,
if they be not nipped by neglect and poverty. I loved my father myself,
and fought a duel on his account; and I honor the son who has spirit to
defend his absent parent."
"This is a most surprising turn in the boy's fortunes, Colonel."
"He deserves it. A soldier, Mr. O'Brien, is not without his enthusiasm,
nor can he help admiring it in others, when nobly and virtuously
directed. To see a boy in the midst of poverty, encountering the
hardships and difficulties of life, with the hope of raising up his
parents from distress to independence, has a touch of sublimity in it."
"Ireland, Colonel, abounds with instances of similar virtue, brought
out, probably, into fuller life and vigor by the sad changes and
depressions which are weighing down the people. In her glens, on her
bleak mountain sides, and in her remotest plains, such examples of pure
affection, uncommon energy, and humble heroism, are to be seen; but,
unfortunately, few persons of rank or observation mingle with the Irish
people, and their many admirable qualities pass away without being
recorded in the literature of their country. They are certainly a
strange people, Colonel, almost an anomaly in the history of the human
race. They are the only people who can rush out from the very virtues
of private life to the perpetration of crimes at which we shudder. There
is, to be sure, an outcry about their oppression; but that is wrong.
Their indigence and ignorance are rather the result of neglect;—of
neglect, sir, from the government of the country—from the earl to
the squireen. They have been taught little that is suitable to their
stations and duties in life, either as tenants who cultivate our lands,
or as members of moral or Christian society."
"Well, well: I believe what you say is too true. But touching the
records of virtue in human life, pray who would record it when nothing
goes down now-a-days but what is either monstrous or fashionable?"
"Very true, Colonel; yet in my humble opinion, a virtuous Irish peasant
is far from being so low a character as a profligate man of rank."
"Well, well, well! Come, O'Brien, we will drop the subject. In the
meantime, touching this boy, as I said, he must be looked to, for he has
that in him which ought not to be neglected. We shall now see that this
d—d pedagogue be punished for his cruelty." The worthy Colonel in a
short time dismissed poor Jemmy with an exulting heart; but not until
he had placed a sufficient sum in the Curate's hands for enabling him to
make a respectable appearance. Medical advice was also procured for him,
by which he sooner overcame the effects of his master's brutality.
On their way home Jemmy related to his friend the conversation which he
had had with his Bishop in the shed, and the kind interest which that
gentleman had taken in his situation and prospects. Mr. O'Brien told him
that the Bishop was an excellent man, possessing much discrimination
and benevolence; "and so," said he, "is the Protestant clergyman who
accompanied him. They have both gone among the people during this heavy
visitation of disease and famine, administering advice and assistance;
restraining them from those excesses which they sometimes commit, when,
driven by hunger, they attack provision-carts, bakers' shops, or the
houses of farmers who are known to possess a stock of meal or potatoes.
God knows, it is an excusable kind of robbery; yet it is right to
"It is a pleasant thing, sir, to see clergymen of every religion working
together to make the people happy."
"It is certainly so," replied the curate; "and I am bound to say, in
justice to the Protestant clergy, that there is no class of men in
Ireland, James, who do so much good without distinction of creed or
party. They are generally kind and charitable to the poor; so are their
wives and daughters. I have often known them to cheer the sick-bed—to
assist the widow and the orphan—to advise and admonish the profligate,
and, in some instances, even to reclaim them. But now about your own
prospects; I think you should go and see your family as soon as your
health permits you."
"I would give my right hand," replied Jemmy, "just to see them, if it
was only for five minutes: but I cannot go. I vowed that I would never
enter my native parish until I should become a Catholic clergyman. I
vowed that, sir, to God—and with his assistance I will keep my vow."
"Well," said the curate, "you are right. And now lot me give you a
little advice. In the first place, learn to speak as correctly as you
can; lay aside the vulgarisms of conversation peculiar to the common
people; and speak precisely as you would write. By the by, you acquitted
yourself to admiration with the Colonel. A little stumbling there was in
the beginning; but you got over it. You see, James, the force of truth
and simplicity. I could scarcely restrain my tears while you spoke."
"If I had not been in earnest, sir, I could never have spoken as I did."
"You never could. Truth, James, is the foundation of all eloquence; he
who knowingly speaks what is not true, may dazzle and perplex; but he
will never touch with that power and pathos which spring from truth.
Fiction is successful only by borrowing her habiliments. Now, James, for
a little more advice. Don't let the idea of having been a poor scholar
deprive you of self-respect; neither let your unexpected turn of fortune
cause you to forget what you have suffered. Hold a middle course; be
firm and independent; without servility on the one hand, or vanity on
the other. You have also too much good sense, and, I hope, too much
religion, to ascribe what this day has brought forth in your behalf, to
any other cause than God. It has pleased him to raise you from misery to
ease and comfort; to him, therefore, be it referred, and to him be your
thanks and prayers directed. You owe him much, for you now can perceive
the value of what he has done for you! May his name be blessed!"
Jemmy was deeply affected by the kindness of his friend, for such, in
friendship's truest sense, was he to him. He expressed, the obligations
which he owed him, and promised to follow the excellent advice he had
The schoolmaster's conduct to the poor scholar had, before the close
of the day on which it occurred, been known through the parish. Thady
O'Rorke, who had but just recovered from the epidemic, felt so bitterly
exasperated at the outrage, that he brought his father to the parish
priest, to whom he give a detailed account of all that our hero and the
poorer children of the school had suffered. In addition to this, he
went among the more substantial farmers of the neighborhood, whose
cooperation he succeeded in obtaining, for the laudable purpose of
driving the tyrant out of the parish.
Jemmy, who still lived at the "House of Entertainment," on hearing what
they intended to do, begged Mr. O'Brien, to allow him, provided the
master should be removed from the school, to decline prosecuting him.
"He has been cruel to me, no doubt," he added; "still I cannot forget
that his cruelty has been the means of changing my condition in life
so much for the better. If he is put out of the parish it will be
punishment enough; and, to say the truth, sir, I can now forgive
everybody. Maybe, had I been still neglected I might punish him; but,
in the meantime, to show him and the world that I didn't deserve his
severity, I forgive him."
Mr. O'Brien was not disposed to check a sentiment that did the boy's
heart so much honor; he waited on the Colonel the next morning,
acquainted him with Jemmy's wishes, and the indictment was quashed
immediately after the schoolmaster's removal from his situation.
Our hero's personal appearance was by this time incredibly changed for
the better. His countenance, naturally expressive of feeling, firmness,
and intellect, now appeared to additional advantage; so did his whole
person, when dressed in a decent suit of black. No man acquainted with
life can be ignorant of the improvement which genteel apparel produce in
the carriage, tone of thought, and principles of an individual. It
gives a man confidence, self-respect, and a sense of equality with
his companions; it inspires him with energy, independence, delicacy
of sentiment, courtesy of manner, and elevation of language. The face
becomes manly, bold, and free; the brow open, and the eye clear; there
is no slinking through narrow lanes and back streets: but, on the
contrary, the smoothly dressed man steps out with a determination not
to spare the earth, or to walk as if he trod on eggs or razors. No; he
brushes onward; is the first to accost his friends; gives a careless
bow to this, a bluff nod to that, and a patronizing "how dy'e do" to a
third, who is worse dressed than himself. Trust me, kind reader, that
good clothes are calculated to advance a man in life nearly as well
as good principles, especially in a world like this, where external
appearance is taken as the exponent of what is beneath it.
Jemmy, by the advice of his friend, now waited upon the Bishop, who was
much surprised at the uncommon turn of fortune which had taken place in
his favor. He also expressed his willingness to help him forward, as far
as lay in his power, towards the attainment of his wishes. In order to
place the boy directly under suitable patronage, Mr. O'Brien suggested
that the choice of the school should be left to the Bishop. This,
perhaps, mattered him a little, for who is without his weaknesses? A
school near the metropolis was accordingly fixed upon, to which Jemmy,
now furnished with a handsome outfit, was accordingly sent. There we
will leave him, reading with eagerness and assiduity, whilst we return
to look after Colonel B. and his agent.
One morning after James's departure, the Colonel's servant waited upon
Mr. O'Brien with a note from his master, intimating a wish to see him.
He lost no time in waiting upon that gentleman, who was then preparing
to visit the estate which he had so long neglected.
"I am going," said he, "to see how my agent, Yellow Sam, as they call
him, and my tenants agree. It is my determination, Mr. O'Brien, to
investigate the circumstances attending the removal of our protege's
father. I shall, moreover, look closely into the state and feelings of
my tenants in general. It is probable I shall visit many of them, and
certain that I will inquire into the character of this man."
"It is better late than never, Colonel; but still, though I am a friend
to the people, yet I would recommend you to be guided by great caution,
and the evidence of respectable and disinterested men only. You must
not certainly entertain all the complaints you may hear, without clear
proof, for I regret to say, that too many of the idle and political
portion of the peasantry are apt to throw the blame of their own folly
and ignorance—yes, and of their crimes, also—upon those who in no
way have occasioned either their poverty or their wickedness. They are
frequently apt to consider themselves oppressed, if concessions are not
made, to which they, as idle and indolent men, who neglected their own
business, have no fair claim. Bear this in mind, Colonel—be cool,
use discrimination, take your proofs from others besides the parties
concerned, or their friends, and, depend upon it, you will arrive at the
"O'Brien, you would make an excellent agent."
"I have studied the people, sir, and know them. I have breathed
the atmosphere of their prejudices, habits, manners, customs, and
superstitions. I have felt them all myself, as they feel them; but I
trust I have got above their influence where it is evil, for there are
many fine touches of character among them, which I should not willingly
part with. No, sir, I should make a bad agent, having no capacity for
transacting business. I could direct and overlook, but nothing more."
"Well, then, I shall set out to-morrow; and in the meantime, permit me
to say that I am deeply sensible of your kindness in pointing out my
duty as an Irish landlord, conscious that I have too long neglected it."
"Kindness, Colonel, is the way to the Irish heart. There is but one man
in Ireland who can make an Irishman ungrateful, and that is his priest.
I regret that in times of political excitement, and especially during
electioneering struggles, the interference of the clergy produces
disastrous effects upon the moral feelings of the people. When a tenant
meets the landlord whom he has deserted in the critical momont of the
contest the landlord to whom he has solemnly promised his support, and
who, perhaps, as a member of the legislature, has advocated his claims
and his rights, and who, probably, has been kind and indulgent to him—I
say, when he meets him afterwards, his shufflings, excuses, and evasions
are grievous. He is driven to falsehood and dissimulation in explaining
his conduct; he expresses his repentance, curses himself for his
ingratitude, promises well for the future, but seldom or never can
be prevailed upon to state candidly that he acted in obedience to
the priest. In some instances, however, he admits this, and inveighs
bitterly against his interference—but this is only whilst in the
presence of his landlord. I think, Colonel, that no clergyman, set apart
as he is for the concerns of a better world, should become a firebrand
in the secular pursuits and turmoils of this."
"I wish, Mr. O'Brien, that every clergyman of your church resembled you,
and acted up to your sentiments: our common country would be the better
"I endeavor to act, sir, as a man who has purely spiritual duties to
perform. It is not for us to be agitated and inflamed by the political
passions and animosities of the world. Our lot is differently cast, and
we ought to abide by it. The priest and politician can no more agree
than good and evil. I speak with respect to all churches."
"And so do I."
"What stay do you intend to make, Colonel?"
"I think about a month. I shall visit some of my old friends there, from
whom I expect a history of the state and feelings of the country."
"You will hear both sides of the question before you act?"
"Certainly. I have written to my agent to say that I shall look very
closely into my own affairs on this occasion. I thought it fair to give
"Well, sir, I wish you all success."
"Farewell, Mr. O'Brien; I shall see you immediately after my return."
The Colonel performed his journey by slow stages, until he reached "the
hall of his fathers,"—for it was such, although he had not for years
resided in it. It presented the wreck of a fine old mansion, situated
within a crescent of stately beeches, whose moss-covered and ragged
trunks gave symptoms of decay and neglect. The lawn had been once
beautiful, and the demesne a noble one; but that which blights the
industry of the tenant—the curse of absenteeism—had also left the
marks of ruin stamped upon every object around him. The lawn was
little better than a common; the pond was thick with weeds and sluggish
water-plants, that almost covered its surface; and a light, elegant
bridge, that spanned a river which ran before the house, was also
moss-grown and dilapidated. The hedges were mixed up with briers, the
gates broken, or altogether removed, the fields were rank with the
ruinous luxuriance of weeds, and the grass-grown avenues spoke of
solitude and desertion. The still appearance, too, of the house itself,
and the absence of smoke from its time-tinged chimneys—all told a
tale which constitutes one, perhaps the greatest, portion of Ireland's
misery! Even then he did not approach it with the intention of residing
there during his sojourn in the country. It was not habitable, nor had
it been so for years. The road by which he travelled lay near it, and
he could not pass without looking upon the place where a long line
of gallant ancestors had succeeded each other, lived their span, and
disappeared in their turn.
He contemplated it for some time in a kind of reverie. There, it stood,
sombre and silent;—its gray walls mouldering away—its windows dark and
broken;—like a man forsaken by the world, compelled to bear the storms
of life without the hand of a friend to support him, though age and
decay render him less capable of enduring them. For a momont fancy
repeopled it;—again the stir of life, pastime, mirth, and hospitality
echoed within its walls; the train of his long departed relatives
returned; the din of rude and boisterous enjoyment peculiar to the
times; the cheerful tumult of the hall at dinner; the family feuds and
festivities; the vanities and the passions of those who now slept in
dust;—all—all came before him once more, and played their part in the
vision of the moment!
As he walked on, the flitting wing of a bat struck him lightly in
its flight; he awoke from the remembrances which crowded on him, and,
resuming his journey, soon arrived at the inn of the nearest town, where
he stopped that night. The next morning he saw his agent for a short
time, but declined entering upon business. For a few days more he
visited most of the neighboring gentry, from whom he received sufficient
information to satisfy him that neither he himself nor his agent
was popular among his tenantry. Many flying reports of the agent's
dishonesty and tyranny were mentioned to him, and in every instance he
took down the names of the parties, in order to ascertain the truth.
M'Evoy's case had occurred more than ten years before, but he found
that the remembrance of the poor man's injury was strongly and bitterly
retained in the recollections of the people—a circumstance which
extorted from the blunt, but somewhat sentimental soldier, a just
observation:—"I think," said he, "that there are no people in the world
who remember either an injury or a kindness so long as the Irish."
When the tenants were apprised of his presence among them, they
experienced no particular feeling upon the subject. During all his
former visits to his estate, he appeared merely the creature and puppet
of his agent, who never acted the bully, nor tricked himself out in his
brief authority more imperiously than he did before him. The knowledge
of this damped them, and rendered any expectations of redress or justice
from the landlord a matter not to be thought of.
"If he wasn't so great a man," they observed, "who thinks it below him
to speak to his tenants, or hear their complaints, there 'ud be some
hope. But that rip of hell, Yallow Sam, can wind him round his finger
like a thread, an' does, too. There's no use in thinkin' to petition
him, or to lodge a complaint against Stony Heart, for the first thing
he'd do 'ud be to put it into the yallow-boy's hands, an' thin, God be
marciful to thim that 'ud complain. No, no; the best way is to wait till
Sam's masther* takes him; an' who knows but that 'ud be sooner nor we
* The devil;—a familiar name for him when mentioned in
connection with a villain.
"They say," another would reply, "that the Colonel is a good gintleman
for all that, an' that if he could once know the truth, he'd pitch the
'yallow boy' to the 'ould boy.'"
No sooner was it known by his tenantry that the head landlord was
disposed to redress their grievances, and hear their complaints, than
the smothered attachment, which long neglect had nearly extinguished,
now burst forth with uncommon power.
"Augh! by this an' by that the throe blood's in him still. The rale
gintleman to dale wid, for ever! We knew he only wanted to come at the
thruth, an' thin he'd back us agin the villain that harrished us! To the
divil wid skamin' upstarts, that hasn't the ould blood 'in thim! What
are they but sconces an' chates, every one o' thim, barrin' an odd one,
for a wondher!"
The Colonel's estate now presented a scene of gladness and bustle. Every
person who felt in the slightest degree aggrieved, got his petition
drawn up; and, but that we fear our sketch is already too long, we
could gratify the reader's curiosity by submitting a few of them. It
is sufficient to say, that they came to him in every shape—in all the
variety of diction that the poor English language admits of—in the
schoolmaster's best copy-hand, and choicest sesquipedalianism of
pedantry—in the severer, but more Scriptural terms of the parish
clerk—in the engrossing hand and legal phrase of the attorney—in the
military form, evidently redolent of the shrewd old pensioner—and
in the classical style of the young priest:—for each and all of the
foregoing were enlisted in the cause of those who had petitions to send
in "to the Colonel himself, God bless him!"
Early in the morning of the day on which the Colonel had resolved to
compare the complaints of his tenantry with the character which his
agent gave him of the complainants, he sent for the former, and the
following dialogue took place between them.
"Good morning, Mr. Carson! Excuse me for requesting your presence to-day
earlier than usual. I have taken it into my head to know something of my
own tenantry, and as they have pestered me with petitions, and letters,
and complaints, I am anxious to have your opinion, as you know them
better than I do."
"Before we enter on business, Colonel, allow me to inquire if you
feel relieved of that bilious attack you complained of the day before
yesterday? I'm of a bilious habit myself, and know something about the
management of digestion!"
"A good digestion is an excellent thing, Carson; as for me, I drank too
much claret with my friend B——y; and there's the secret. I don't like
cold wines, they never agree with me."
"Nor do I; they are not constitutional. Your father was celebrated
for his wines, Colonel: I remember an anecdote told me by Captain
Ferguson—by the by, do you know where Ferguson could be found, now,
"Not I. What wines do you drink, Carson?"
"A couple of glasses of sherry, sir, at dinner; and about ten o'clock, a
glass of brandy and water."
"Carson, you are sober and prudent. Well about these cursed petitions;
you must help me to dispose of them. Why, a man would think by the tenor
of them, that these tenants of mine are ground to dust by a tyrant."
"Ah! Colonel, you know little about these fellows. They would make black
white. Go and take a ride, sir, return about four o'clock, and I will
have everything as it ought to be."
"I wish to heaven, Carson, I had your talents for business. Do you think
my tenants attached to me?"
"Attached! sir, they are ready to cut your throat or mine, on the first
convenient opportunity. You could not conceive their knavishness and
dishonesty, except you happened to be an agent for a few years.
"So I have been told, and I am resolved to remove every dishonest tenant
from my estate. Is there not a man, for instance, called Brady? He has
sent me a long-winded petition here. What do you think of him?"
"Show me the petition, Colonel."
"I cannot lay my hand on it just now; but you shall see it. In the mean
time, what's your opinion of the fellow?"
"Brady! Why, I know the man particularly well. He is one of my
favorites. What the deuce could the fellow petition about, though? I
promised the other day to renew his lease for him."
"Oh, then, if he be a favorite of yours, his petition may go to the
devil, I suppose? Is the man honest?"
"Remarkably so; and has paid his rents very punctually. He is one of our
"Do you know a man called Cullen?"
"The most litigious scoundrel on the estate."
"Indeed? Oh, then, we must look into the merits of his petition, as
he is not honest. Had he been honest like Brady, Carson, I should have
"Cullen, sir, is a dangerous fellow. Do you know, that rascal has
charged me with keeping back his receipts, and with making I him pay
double rent!—ha, ha, ha! Upon my honor, its fact."
"The scoundrel! We shall sift him to some purpose, however."
"If you take my advice, sir, you will send him about his business; for
if it be once known that you listen to malicious petitions, my authority
over such villains as Cullen is lost."
"Well, I set him aside for the present. Here's a long list of others,
all of whom have been oppressed, forsooth. Is there a man called M'Evoy
on my estate?—Dominick M'Evoy, I think."
"M'Evoy! Why that rascal, sir, has not been your tenant for ten years?
His petition, Colonel, is a key to the nature of their grievances in
"I believe you, Carson—most implicitly do I believe that. Well, about
"Why, it is so long since, that upon my honor, I cannot exactly remember
the circumstances of his misconduct. He ran away."
"Who is in his farm now, Carson?"
"A very decent man, sir. One Jackson, an exceedingly worthy, honest,
industrious fellow. I take some credit to myself for bringing Jackson on
"Is Jackson married? Has he a family?"
"Married! Let me see! Why—yes—I believe he is. Oh, by the by, now
I think of it, he is married, and to a very respectable woman, too.
Certainly, I remember—she usually accompanies him when he pays his
"Then your system must be a good one, Carson; you weed out the idle and
profligate, to replace them by the honest and industrious."
"Precisely so, sir; that is my system."
"Yet there are agents who invert your system in some cases; who drive
out the honest and industrious, and encourage the idle and profligate;
who connive at them, Carson, and fill the estates they manage with their
own dependents, or relatives, as the case may be. You have been alway's
opposed to this, and I'm glad to hear it."
"No man, Colonel B———, filling the situation which I have the honor
to hold under you, could study your interests with greater zeal and
assiduity. God knows, I have had so many quarrels, and feuds, and
wranglings, with these fellows, in order to squeeze money out of them to
meet your difficulties, that, upon my honor, I think if it required
five dozen oaths to hang me, they could be procured upon your estate. An
agent, Colonel, who is faithful to the landlord, is seldom popular with
"I can't exactly see that, Carson; and I have known an unpopular
landlord rendered highly popular by the judicious management of an
enlightened and honest agent, who took no bribes, Carson, and who
neither extorted from nor ground the tenantry under him—something like
a counterpart of yourself. But you may be right in general."
"Is there anything particular, Colonel, in which I can assist you now?"
"Not now. I was anxious to hear the character of those fellows from
you who know them. Come down about eleven or twelve o'clock; these
petitioners will be assembled, and you may be able to assist me."
"Colonel, remember I forewarn you, that you are plunging into a mesh
of difficulties, which you will never be able to disentangle. Leave
the fellows to me, sir; I know how to deal with them. Besides, upon my
honor, you are not equal to it, in point of health. You look ill. Pray
allow me to take home their papers, and I shall have all clear and
satisfactory before two o'clock. They know my method, sir."
"They do, Carson, they do; but I am anxious they should also know mine.
Besides, it will amuse me, for I want excitement. Good day, for the
present; you will be down about twelve, or one at the furthest."
"Certainly, sir. Good morning, Colonel."
The agent was too shrewd a man not to perceive that there were touches
of cutting irony in some of the Colonel's expressiqns, which he did
not like. There was a dryness, too, in the tone of his voice and words,
blended with a copiousness of good humor, which, taken altogether,
caused him to feel uncomfortable. He could have wished the Colonel at
the devil: yet had the said Colonel never been more familiar in his
life, nor, with one or two exceptions, readier to agree with almost
every observation made to him.
"Well," thought he, "he may act as he pleases; I have feathered my nest,
at all events, and disregard him."
Colonel B——-, in fact, ascertained with extreme regret, that something
was necessary to be done, to secure the good-will of his tenants; that
the conduct of his agent had been marked by rapacity and bribery almost
incredible. He had exacted from the tenantry in general the performance
of duty-labor to such an extent, that his immense agricultural farms
were managed with little expense to himself. If a poor man's corn were
drop ripe, or his hay in a precarious state, or his turf undrawn, he
must suffer his oats, hay, and turf, to be lost, in order to secure the
crops of the agent. If he had spirit to refuse, he must expect to become
a martyr to his resentment. In renewing leases his extortions were
exorbitant; ten, thirty, forty, and fifty guineas he claimed as a fee
for his favor, according to the ability of the party; yet this was quite
distinct from the renewal tine, and went into his own pocket. When such
"glove money" was not to be had, he would accept of a cow or horse, to
which he usually made a point to take a fancy; or he wanted to purchase
a firkin of butter at that particular time; and the poor people usually
made every sacrifice to avoid his vengeance. It is due to Colonel
B——— to say, that he acted in the investigation of his agent's
conduct with the strictest honor and impartiality. He scrutinized every
statement thoroughly, pleaded for him as temperately as he could; found,
or pretended to find, extenuating motives for his most indefensible
proceedings; but all would not do. The cases were so clear and evident
against him, even in the opinion of the neighboring gentry, who had been
for years looking upon the system of selfish misrule which he practised,
that at length the generous Colonel's blood boiled with indignation
in his veins at the contemplation of his villany. He accused himself
bitterly for neglecting his duties as a landlord, and felt both
remorse and shame for having wasted his time, health, and money, in
the fashionable dissipation of London and Paris; whilst a cunning,
unprincipled upstart played the vampire with his tenants, and turned his
estate into a scene of oppression and poverty. Nor was this all; he
had been endeavoring to bring the property more and more into his own
clutches, a point which he would ultimately have gained, had not the
Colonel's late succession to so large a fortune enabled him to meet his
At one o'clock the tenants were all assembled about the inn door, where
the Colonel had resolved to hold his little court. The agent himself
soon arrived, as did several other gentlemen, the Colonel's friends, who
knew the people and could speak to their character.
The first man called was Dominick M'Evoy. No sooner was his name
uttered, than a mild, poor-looking man, rather advanced in years, came
"I beg your pardon, Colonel," said Carson, "here is some mistake; this
man is not one of your tenants. You may remember I told you so this
"I remember it," replied the Colonel; "this is 'the rascal' you spoke
of—is he not? M'Evoy," the Colonel proceeded, "you will reply to
my questions with strict truth. You will state nothing but what has
occurred between you and my agent; you must not even turn a circumstance
in your own favor, nor against Mr. Carson, by either adding to, or
taking away from it, more or less than the truth. I say this to you, and
to all present; for, upon my honor, I shall dismiss the first case in
which I discover a falsehood."
"Wid the help o' the Almighty, sir, I'll state nothing but the bare
"How long are you off my estate?"
"Ten years, your honor, or a little more."
"How came you to run away out of your farm?"
"Run away, your honor! Grod he knows, I didn't run away, sir. The whole
counthry knows that."
"Yes, ran away! Mr. Carson, here, stated to me this morning, that
you ran away. He is a gentleman of integrity, and would not state a
"I beg your pardon, Colonel, not positively. I told you I did not
exactly remember the circumstances; I said I thought so; but I may be
wrong, for, indeed, my memory of facts is not good. M'Evoy, however,
is a very honest man, and I have no doubt will state everything as it
happened, fairly and without malice."
"An honest 'rascal,' I suppose you mean, Mr. Carson," said the Colonel,
bitterly. "Proceed, M'Evoy."
M'Evoy stated the circumstances precisely as the reader is already
acquainted with them, after which the Colonel turned round to his agent
and inquired what he had to say in reply.
"You cannot expect, Colonel B———," he replied, "that with such a
multiplicity of business on my hands, I could remember, after a lapse of
ten years, the precise state of this particular case. Perhaps I may have
some papers, a memorandum or so, at home, that may throw light upon it.
At present I can only say, that the man failed in his rents, I ejected
him, and put a better tenant in his place. I cannot see a crime in
"Plase your honor," replied M'Evoy, "I can prove by them that's standin'
to the fore this minute, as well as by this written affidavit, sir,
that I offered him the full rint, havin', at the same time, as God is my
judge, ped part of it afore."
"That is certainly false—an untrue and malicious statement," said
Carson. "I now remember that the cause of my resentment—yes, of my just
resentment against you, was your reporting that I received your rent and
withheld your receipt."
"Then," observed the Colonel, "There has been more than one charge
of that nature brought against you? You mentioned another to me this
morning if I mistake not."
"I have made my oath, your honor, of the thruth of it; an' here is a
dacent man, sir, a Protestant, that lent me the money, an' was present
when I offered it to him. Mr. Smith, come forrid, sir, an' spake up for
the poor man, as you're always willin' to do."
"I object to his evidence," said Carson: "he is my open enemy."
"I am your enemy, Mr. Carson, or rather the enemy of your corruption and
want of honesty," said Smith: "but, as you say, an open one. I scorn to
say behind your back what I wouldn't say to your face. Right well you
know I was present when he tendered you his rent. I lent him part of it.
But why did you and your bailiffs turn him out, when his wife was on her
sick bed? Allowing that he could not pay his rent, was that any reason
you should do so barbarous an act as to drag a woman from her sick bed,
and she at the point of death? But we know your reasons for it."
"Gentlemen," said the Colonel, "pray what character do M'Evoy and Smith
here bear in the country?"
"We have known them both for years to be honest, conscientious men,"
said those whom he addressed: "such is their character, and in our
opinion they well deserve it."
"God bless you, gintlemen!" said M'Evoy—"God bless your honors, for
your kind Words! I'm sure for my own part, I hope though but a poor man
now, God help me!"
"Pray, who occupies the farm at present, Mr. Carson?"
"The man I mentioned to you this morning, sir. His name is Jackson."
"And pray, Mr. Carson, who is his wife?"
"Oh, by the by, Colonel, that's a little too close! I see the gentlemen
smile; but they know I must beg to decline answering that question—-not
that it matters much. We have all sown our wild oats in our time—myself
as well as another—ha, ha, ha!"
"The fact, under other circumstances," observed the Colonel, "could
never draw an inquiry from me; but as it is connected with, or probably
has occasioned, a gross, unfeeling, and an unjust act of oppression
towards an honest man, I therefore alluded to it, as exhibiting the
motives from which you acted. She is your illegitimate daughter, sir!"
"She's one o' the baker's dozen o' them, plase your honor," observed a
humorous little Presbyterian, with a sarcastic face, and sharp northern
accent—"for feth, sir, for my part, A thenk he lies one on every hill
head. All count, your honor, on my fingers a roun' half-dozen, all on
your estate, sir, featherin' their nests as fast as they can."
"Is this Jackson a good tenant, Mr. Carson?"
"I gave you his character this morning, Colonel B."
"Hout, Colonel!" said the Presbyterian, "deil a penny rent the man pays,
at all, at all. A'll swear a hev it from Jackson's own lips. He made him
a Bailey, sir; he suts rent free. Ask the man, sir, for his receipts,
an' a'll warrant the truth will come out."
"I have secured Jackson's attendance," said the Colonel; "let him be
The man in a few minutes entered.
"Jackson," said the Colonel, "how long is it since you paid Mr. Carson
here any rent?"
Jackson looked at Carson for his cue; but the Colonel rose up
indignantly: "Fellow!" he proceeded, "if you tamper with me a single
moment, you shall find Mr. Carson badly able to protect you. If you
speak falsehood, be it at your peril."
"By Jing, sir," said Jackson, "All say nothin' aginst my father-in-laa,
an' A don't care who teks it well or ull. A was just tekin' a gun (* a
half-tumbler of punch) with a fren' or two—an d—-me, A say, A'll stick
to my father-m-laa, for he hes stuck to me."
"You appear to be a hardened, drunken wretch," observed the Colonel.
"Will you be civil enough to show your last receipt for rent?"
"Wull A show it? A dono whether A wull or not, nor A dono whether A hey
it or not; but ef aall the receipts in Europe wur burnt, d—— my blood,
but A'll stick to my father-in-laa."
"Your father-in-law may be proud of you," said the Colonel.
"By h——, A'll back you en that," said the fellow nodding his head, and
looking round him confidently. "By h——-, A say that, too!"
"And I am sorry to be compelled to add," continued the Colonel, "that
you may be equally proud of your father-in-law."
"A say, right agane! D—— me, bit A'll back that too!"and he nodded
confidently, and looked around the room once more. "A wull, d—— my
blood, bit no man can say agane it. A'm married to his daughter; an', by
the sun that shines A'll still stan' up for my father-in-laa."
"Mr. Carson," said the Colonel, "can you disprove these facts? Can you
show that you did not expel M'Evoy from his farm, and put the husband of
your illegitimate daughter into it? That you did not receive his rent,
decline giving him a receipt, and afterwards compel him to pay twice,
because he could not produce the receipt which you withheld?"
"Gentlemen," said Carson, not directly replying to the Colonel, "there
is a base conspiracy got up against me; and I can perceive, moreover,
that there is evidently some unaccountable intention on the part of
Colonel B. to insult my feelings and injure my character. When paltry
circumstances that have occurred above ten years ago, are raked up in my
teeth, I have little to say, but that it proves how very badly off
the Colonel must have been for an imputation against my conduct and
discretion as his agent, since he finds himself compelled to hunt so far
back for a charge."
"That is by no means the heaviest charge I have to bring against you,"
replied the Colonel. "There is no lack of them; nor shall you be able to
complain that they are not recent, as well as of longer standing. Your
conduct in the case of poor honest M'Evoy here is black and iniquitous.
He must be restored to his farm, but by other hands than yours, and that
ruffian instantly expelled from it. From this moment, sir, you cease to
be my agent. You have betrayed the confidence I reposed in you; you have
misled me as to the character of my tenants; you have been a deceitful,
cunning, cringing, selfish and rapacious tyrant. My people you have
ground to dust; my property you have lessened in value nearly one-half,
and for your motives in doing this, I refer you to certain transactions
and legal documents which passed between us. There is nothing cruel or
mercenary which you did not practice, in order to enrich yourself. The
whole tenor of your conduct is before me. Your profligacy is not only
discovered, but already proved; and you played those villainous pranks,
I suppose, because I have been mostly an absentee. Do not think,
however, that you shall enjoy the fruits of your extortion? I will place
the circumstances, and the proofs of the respective charges against you,
in the hands of my solicitor, and, by the sacred heaven above me! you
shall disgorge the fruits of your rapacity. My good people, I shall
remain among you for another fortnight, during which time I intend to go
through my estate, and set everything to rights as well as I can, until
I may appoint a humane and feeling gentleman as my agent—such a one as
will have, at least, a character to lose. I also take this opportunity
of informing you, that in future I shall visit you often, will redress
your grievances, should you have any to complain of, and will give such
assistance to the honest and industrious among you—but to them
only—as I trust may make us better pleased with each other than we have
been.—Do not you go, M'Evoy, until I speak to you."
During these observations Carson sat with a smile, or rather a sneer
upon his lips. It was the sneer of a purse-proud villain confident that
his wealth, no matter how ill-gotten, was still wealth, and worth its
"Colonel," said he, "I have heard all you said, but you see me 'so
strong in honesty,' that I am not moved. In the course of a few weeks
I shall have purchased an estate of my own, which I shall manage
differently, for my fortune is made, sir. I intend also to give up my
other agencies: I am rather old and must retire to enjoy a little of the
otium cum dignitate. I wish you all goo'd-morning!"
The Colonel turned away in abhorrence, but disdained any reply.
"A say, Sam," said the Presbyterian, "bring your son-in-laa wuth you."
"An' I say that, too," exclaimed the drunken ruffian—"A say that; A do.
A'm married to his daughter; an' A say stull, that d———my blood, bit
A'll stick to my father-in-laa! That's the point!"—and again he nodded
his head, and looked round him with a drunken swagger:—"A'll stick to my
father-in-laa! A'll do that; feth, A wull!"*
* This dialect is local.
It is scarcely necessary to inform the reader, that the Colonel's
address to Carson soon got among the assembled tenantry, and a vehement
volley of groans and hisses followed the discarded agent up the street.
"Ha! bad luck to you for an ould villain. You were made to hear on the
deaf side o' your head at last! You may take the black wool out o' your
ears now, you rip! The cries an' curses o' the widows an' orphans that
you made and oppressed, has ris up agin you at the long run! Ha! you
beggarly nager! maybe you'll make us neglect our own work to do yours
agin! Go an' gather the dhry cow-cakes, you misert, an' bring them home
in your pocket, to throw on the dunghill!"
"Do you remimber the day," said others, "you met Mr. M., an' you goin'
up the street wid a cake of it in your fists, undher your shabby skirts;
an' whin the gintlemen wint to shake hands wid you, how he discovered
your maneness? Three groans for Yallow Sam, the extortioner! a short
coorse to him! Your corner's warm for you, you villain!"
"But now, boys, for the Colonel!" they exclaimed.—"Huzza for noble
Colonel B——— the rale Irish gintlemen, that wouldn't see his tenants
put upon by a villain!—Huzza! Hell resave yees, shout! Huzza! Huzza!
Huzza! Huz—tundher-an'-ounze, my voice is cracked! Where's his
coach?—where's his honor's coach? Come, boys, out wid it,—out wid it!
Tattheration to yees, come! We'll dhraw it to the divil, to hell an'
back agin, if it plases him! Success to Colonel B———! Blood-an-turf!
what'll we do for a fight? Long life to noble Colonel B———, the poor
man's friend!—long life to him for ever an' a day longer! Whoo! my
darlins! Huzza!" etc.
The warm interest which the Colonel took in M'Evoy's behalf, was looked
upon by the other tenants as a guarantee of his sincerity in all he
promised. Their enthusiasm knew no bounds. They got out his carriage
from the Inn-Yard, and drew it through the town, though the Colonel
himself, beyond the fact of their shouting, remained quite ignorant of
what was going forward.
After Carson's departure, the Colonel's friends, having been first asked
to dine with him at the inn, also took their leave, and none remained
but M'Evoy, who waited with pleasing anxiety to hear what the Colonel
proposed to say—for he felt certain that it would be agreeable.
"M'Evoy," said the Colonel, "I am truly sorry for what you have suffered
through the villany of my agent; but I will give you redress, and allow
you for what you have lost by the transaction. It is true, as I
have been lately told by a person who pleaded your cause nobly and
eloquently, that I can never repay you for what you have suffered.
However, what we can, we will do. You are poor, I understand?"
"God he sees that, sir; and afflicted, too, plase your honor."
"Afflicted? How is that?"
"I had a son, sir—a blessed boy! a darlin' boy!—once our comfort, an'
once we thought he'd be our pride an' our staff, but"—
The poor man's tears here flowed fast; he took up the skirt of his
"Cotha More," or great-coat, and, after wiping his eyes, and clearing
his voice, proceeded:—
"He was always, as I said, a blessed boy, and we looked up to him
alwayrs, sir. He saw our poverty, your honor, an' he felt it, sir, keen
enough, indeed, God help him! How an'-iver, he took it on him to go
up to Munster, sir, undher hopes of risin' us—undher the hopes, poor
child—an' God knows, sir,—if—oh, Jemmy avourneen ma-chree!—doubt—I
doubt you sunk undher what proved too many for you!—I doubt my child's
dead, sir—him that all our hearts wor fixed upon; and if that 'ud
happen to be the case, nothin'—not even your kindness in doin' us
justice, could make us happy. We would rather beg wid him, sir, nor have
the best in the world widout him. His poor young heart, sir, was fixed
upon the place your honor is restorin' us to; an I'm afeard his mother,
sir, would break her heart if she thought he couldn't share our good
fortune! And we don't know whether he's livin' or dead! That, sir, is
what's afflictin' us. I had some notion of goin' to look for him; but
he tould us he would never write, or let us hear from him, till he'd be
either one thing or other."
"I can tell you, for your satisfaction, that your son is well, M'Evoy.
Believe me, he is well—I know it."
"Well! Before God, does your honor spake truth? Well! Oh, sir, for His
sake that died for us, an' for the sake of his blessed mother, can you
tell me is my darlin' son alive?"
"He is living; is in excellent health; is as well dressed as I am; and
has friends as rich and as capable of assisting him as myself. But
how is this? What's the matter with you? You are pale! Good God! Here,
waiter! Waiter! Waiter, I say!"
The Colonel rang the bell violently, and two or three waiters entered at
the same moment.
"Bring a little wine and water, one of you, and let the other two remove
this man to the open window. Be quick. What do you stare at?"
In a few minutes the old man recovered, and untying the narrow coarse
cravat which he wore, wiped the perspiration off his pale face.
"Pray, don't be too much affected," said the Colonel. "Waiter, bring
up refreshment—bring wine—be quiet and calm—you are weak, poor
fellow—but we will strengthen you by-and-by."
"I am wake, sir," he replied; "for, God help us! this was a hard year
upon us; and we suffered what few could bear. But he's livin', Colonel.
Our darlin' is livin! Oh, Colonel, your kindness went to my heart this
day afore, but that was nothin'—he's livin' an' well! On my two knees,
before God, I thank you for them words! I thank you a thousand an' a
thousand times more for them words, nor for what your honor did about
"Get up," said the Colonel—"get up. The proceedings of the day have
produced a revulsion of feeling which has rendered you incapable of
sustaining intelligence of your son. He is well, I assure you. Bring
those things to this table, waiter."
"But can your honor tell me anything in particular about him, sir? What
he's doin'—or what he intends to do?"
"Yes! he is at a respectable boarding-school."
"Boordin'-school! But isn't boordin'-schools Protestants, sir?"
"Not at all; he is at a Catholic boarding-school, and reading hard to be
a priest, which, I hope, he will soon be. He has good friends, and you
may thank him for being restored to your farm."
"Glory be to my Maker for that! Oh, sir, your tenants wor desaved in
you! They thought, sir, that you wor a hard-hearted gintleman, that
didn't care whether they lived or died."
"I feel that I neglected them too long, M'Evoy. Now take some
refreshment: eat something, and afterwards drink a few glasses of wine.
Your feelings have been much excited, and you will be the better for it.
Keep up your spirits. I am going to ride, and must leave you: but if you
call on me to-morrow, at one o'clock, I shall have more good news
for you. We must stock your farm, and enable you to enter upon it
"Sir," said M'Evoy, "you are a Protestant; but, as I hope to enther
glory, I an' my wife an' childhre will pray that your bed may be made in
heaven, this night; and that your honor may be led to see the truth an'
the right coorse."
The Colonel then left him; and the simple man, on looking at the cold
meat, bread, and wine before him, raised his hands and eyes towards
heaven, to thank God for his goodness, and to invoke a blessing upon his
noble and munificent benefactor.
But how shall we describe the feelings of his family, when, after
returning home, he related the occurrences of that day. The severe and
pressing exigencies under which they labored had prevented his sons
from attending the investigation that was to take place in town. Their
expectations, however, were raised, and they looked out with intense
anxiety for the return of their father.
At length he was seen coming slowly up the hill; the spades were thrown
aside, and the whole family assembled to hear "what was done."
The father entered in silence, sat down, and after wiping his brow and
laying down his hat, placing his staff across it upon the floor, he drew
his breath deeply.
"Dominick," said the wife, "what news? What was done?"
"Vara," replied Dominick, "do you remimber the day—fair and handsome
you wor then—when I first kissed your lips, as my own darlin' wife?"
"Ah, avourneen, Dominick, don't spake of them times. The happiness we
had then is long gone, acushla, in one sense."
"It's before me like yestherday, Vara—the delight that went through my
heart, jist as clear as yestherday, or the blessed sun that's shinin'
through the broken windy on the floor there. I remimber, Vara, saying
to you that day—I don't know whether you remimber it or not—but I
remimber sayin' to you, that if I lived a thousand years, I could never
feel sich happiness as I did when I first pressed you to my heart as my
"Well, but we want to hear what happened, Dominick, achora."
"Do you remimber the words, Vara?"
"Och! I do, avourneen. Didn't they go into my heart at the time, an' how
could I forget them? But I can't bear, somehow, to look back at what we
wor then, bekase I feel my heart brakin', acushla!"
"Well, Vara, look at me. Amn't I a poor wasted crathur now, in
comparishment to what I was thin?"
"God he sees the change that's in you, darlin'! But sure 'twasn't your
fau't, or mine either, Dominick, avilish!"
"Well, Vara, you see me now—I'm happpier—before God, I'm
happier—happier, a thousand degrees than I was thin! Come to my arms,
asthore machree—my heart s breakin'—but it's wid happiness—don't be
frightened—it's wid joy I'm sheddin' these tears—it's wid happiness
an' delight In' cryin'! Jemmy is livin', an' well, childhre—he's livin'
an' well, Vara—the star of our hearts is livin', an' well, an' happy!
Kneel down, childhre—kneel down! Bend before the great God, an' thank
him for his kindness to your blessed brother—to our blessed son.
Bless the Colonel, childhre; bless him whin you're down, Protestant an'
all, as he is. Oh, bless him as if you prayed for myself, or for Jemmy,
that's far away from us!"
He paused for a few minutes, bent his head upon his hands as he knelt
in supplication at the chair, then resumed his seat, as did the whole
family, deeply affected.
"Now, childhre," said he, "I'll tell yez all; but don't any of you be so
poor a crathur as I was to-day. Bear it mild an' asy, Vara, acushla, for
I know it will take a start out of you. Sure we're to go back to our own
ould farm! Ay, an' what'a more—oh, God of heaven, bless him!—what's
more, the Colonel is to stock it for us, an' to help us; an' what is
more, Yallow Sam is out! out!!"
"Out!" they exclaimed: "Jemmy well, an' Yallow Sam out! Oh, father,
"Now behave, I say. Ay, and never to come in again! But who do you think
got him out?"
"Who?—why God he knows. Who could get him out?"
"Our son, Vara—our son, childhre: Jemmy got him out, an' got ourselves
back to our farm! I had it partly from the noble Colonel's own lips,
an' the remainder from Mr. Moutray, that I met on my way home. But
there's more to come:—sure Jemmy has friends aquil to the Colonel
himself: an' sure he's at a Catholic boordin'-school, among gintlemen's
childhre, an' in a short time he'll be a priest in full ordhers."
We here draw a veil over the delight of the family. Questions upon
questions, replies upon replies, sifting and cross-examinations,
followed in rapid succession, until all was known that the worthy man
had to communicate.
Another simple scene followed, which, as an Irishman, I write with
sorrow. When the joy of the family had somewhat subsided, the father,
putting his hand in his coat-pocket, pulled out several large slices of
"Along wid all, childhre," said he, "the Colonel ordhered me my dinner.
I ate plinty myself, an' slipped these slices in my pocket for you: but
the devil a one o' me knows what kind o' mate it is. An' I got wine,
too! Oh!—Well, they may talk, but wine is the drink! Bring me the ould
knife, till I make a fair divide of it among ye. Musha, what kind o'
mate can it be, for myself doesn't remimber atin' any sort, barrin'
bacon an' a bit o' slink-veal of an odd time?"
They all ate it with an experimental air of sagacity that was rather
amusing. None, however, had ever tasted mutton before, and consequently
the name of the meat remained, on that occasion, a profound secret to
M'Evoy and his family.* It is true, they supposed it to be mutton;
but not one of them could pronounce it to be such, from any positive
knowledge of its peculiar flavor.
* There are hundreds of thousands—yes, millions—of
the poorer classes in Ireland, who have never tasted
"Well," said Dominick, "it's no matther what the name of it is, in
regard that it's good mate, any way, for them that has enough of it."
With a fervent heart and streaming eyes did this virtuous family offer
up their grateful prayers to that God whose laws they had not knowingly
violated, and to whose providence they owed so much. Nor was their
benefactor forgotten. The strength and energy of the Irish language,
being that in which the peasantry usually pray, were well adapted to
express the depth of their gratitude towards a man who had, as they
said, "humbled himself to look into their wants, as if he was like one
For upwards of ten years they had not gone to bed free from the
heaviness of care, or the wasting grasp of poverty. Now their hearth
was once more surrounded by peace and contentment; their burthens were
removed, their pulses beat freely, and the language of happiness again
was heard under their humble roof. Even sleep could not repress the
vivacity of their enjoyments: they dreamt of their brother—for in the
Irish heart domestic affections hold the first place;—they dreamt of
the farm to which those affections had so long yearned. They trod it
again as its legitimate possessors. Its fields were brighter, its corn
waved with softer murmurs to the breeze, its harvests were richer, and
the song of their harvest home more cheerful than before. Their delight
was tumultuous, but intense; and when they arose in the morning to a
sober certainty of waking bliss, they again knelt in worship to God with
exulting hearts, and again offered up their sincere prayers in behalf of
the just man who had asserted their rights against the oppressor.
Colonel B. was a man who, without having been aware of it, possessed an
excellent capacity for business. The neglect of his property resulted
not from want of feeling, but merely from want of consideration. There
had, moreover, been no precedent for him to follow. He had seen no
Irishman of rank ever bestow a moment's attention on his tenantry. They
had been, for the most part, absentees like himself, and felt satisfied
if they succeeded in receiving their half-yearly remittance in due
course, without ever reflecting for a moment upon the situation of those
from whom it was drawn.
Nay, what was more—he had not seen even the resident gentry enter into
the state and circumstances of those who lived upon their property. It
was a mere accident that determined him to become acquainted with his
tenants; but no sooner had he seen his duty, and come to the resolution
of performing it, than the decision of his character became apparent.
It is true, that, within the last few years, the Irish landlords have
advanced in knowledge. Many of them have introduced more improved
systems of agriculture, and instructed their tenants in the best methods
of applying them; but during the time of which we write, an Irish
landlord only saw his tenants when canvassing them for their votes, and
instructed them in dishonesty and perjury, not reflecting that he was
then teaching them to practise the arts of dissimulation and fraud
against himself. This was the late system: let us hope that it will be
superseded by a better one; and that the landlord will think it a duty,
but neither a trouble nor a condescension, to look into his own affairs,
and keep an eye upon the morals and habits of his tenantry.
The Colonel, as he had said, remained more than a fortnight upon his
estate; and, as he often declared since, the recollections arising from
the good which he performed during that brief period, rendered it
the portion of his past life upon which he could look with most
satisfaction. He did not leave the country till he saw M'Evoy and his
family restored to their farm, and once more independent;—until he had
redressed every well-founded complaint, secured the affections of those
who had before detested him, and diffused peace and comfort among every
family upon his estate. From thenceforth he watched the interests of his
tenants, and soon found that in promoting their welfare, and instructing
them in their duties, he was more his own benefactor than theirs.
Before many years had elapsed, his property was wonderfully improved;
he himself was called the "Lucky Landlord," "bekase," said the people,
"ever since he spoke to, an' advised his tenants, we find that it's
lucky to live undher him. The people has heart to work wid a gintleman
that won't grind thim; an' so sign's on it, every one thrives upon his
land: an' dang my bones, but I believe a rotten stick 'ud grow on it,
set in case it was thried."
In sooth, his popularity became proverbial; but it is probable, that not
even his justice and humanity contributed so much to this, as the
vigor with which he prosecuted his suit against "Yellow Sam," whom he
compelled literally to "disgorge" the fruits of his heartless extortion.
This worthy agent died soon after his disgrace, without any legitimate
issue; and his property, which amounted to about fifty thousand pounds,
is now inherited by a gentleman of the strictest honor and integrity. To
this day his memory is detested by the people, who, with that bitterness
by which they stigmatized a villain, have erected him into a standard
of dishonesty. If a man become remarkable for want of principle, they
usually say—"he's as great a rogue as Yallow Sam;" or, "he is the
greatest sconce that ever was in the country, barrin' Yallow Sam."
We now dismiss him, and request our readers, at the same time, not
to suppose that we have held him up as a portrait of Irish agents
in general. On the contrary, we believe that they constitute a most
respectable class of men, who have certainly very difficult duties to
perform. The Irish landlords, we are happy to say, taught by experience,
have, for the most part, both seen and felt the necessity of appointing
gentlemen of property to situations so very important, and which require
so much patience, consideration, and humanity, in those who fill them.
We trust they will persevere in this plan; * but we can assure them,
that all the virtues of the best agent can never compensate, in the
opinion of the people, for neglect in the "Head Landlord." One visit,
or act, even of nominal kindness, for him, will at any time produce more
attachment and gratitude among them, than a whole life spent in good
offices by an agent. Like Sterne's French Beggar, they would prefer a
pinch of snuff from the one, to a guinea from the other. The agent only
renders them a favor, but the Head Landlord does them an honor.
* This tale has been written nearly twelve years, but
the author deeply regrets that the Irish landlords have
disentitled themselves to the favorable notice taken of
them in the text.
Colonel B., immediately after his return home, sent for Mr. O'Brien,
who waited on him with a greater degree of curiosity than perhaps he had
ever felt before. The Colonel smiled as he extended his hand to him.
"Mr. O'Brien," said he, "I knew you would feel anxious to hear the
result of my visit to the estate which this man with the nickname
managed for me."
"Managed, sir? Did you say managed?"
"I spoke in the past time, O'Brien: he is out."
"Then your protege's story was correct, sir?"
"True to a title. O'Brien, there is something extraordinary in that
boy; otherwise, how could it happen that a sickly, miserable-looking
creature, absolutely in tatters, could have impressed us both so
strongly with a sense of the injustice done ten years ago to his father?
It is, indeed, remarkable."
"The boy, Colonel, deeply felt that act of injustice, and the expression
of it came home to the heart."
"I have restored his father, however. The poor man and his family are
once more happy. I have stocked their old farm for them; in! fact, they
now enjoy comfort and independence."
"I am glad, sir, that you have done them justice. That act, alone, will
go far to redeem your character from the odium which the conduct of your
agent was calculated to throw upon it."
"There is not probably in Ireland a landlord so popular as I am this
moment—at least among my tenants on that property. Restoring M'Evoy,
however, is but a small part of what I have done. Carson's pranks were
incredible. He was a rack-renter of the first water. A person named
Brady had paid him twenty-five guineas as a douceur—in other words, as
a bribe—for renewing a lease for him; yet, after having received the
money, he kept the poor man dangling after him, and at length told him
that he was offered a larger sum by another. In some cases he kept back
the receipts, and made the poor people pay twice, which was still more
iniquitous. Then, sir, he would not take bank notes in payment. No; he
was so wonderfully concientious, and so zealously punctual in fulfilling
my wishes, as he told them on the subject, that nothing would pass in
payment but gold. This gold, sir, they were compelled to receive from
himself, at a most oppressive premium; so that he actually fleeced them
under my name, in every conceivable manner and form of villainy. He is a
usurer, too; and, I am told, worth forty or fifty thousand pounds: but,
thank heaven! he is no longer an agent of mine."
"It gives me sincere pleasure, sir, that you have at length got correct
habits of thinking upon your duties as an Irish landlord; for believe
me, Colonel B., as a subject involving a great portion of national
happiness or national misery, it is entitled to the deepest and most
serious consideration, not only of the class to which you belong, but of
the legislature. Something should be done, sir, to improve the condition
of the poorer classes. A rich country and poor inhabitants is an
anomaly; and whatever is done should be prompt and effectual. If the
Irish landlords looked directly into the state of their tenantry, and
set themselves vigorously to the task of bettering their circumstances,
they would, I am certain, establish the tranquillity and happiness of
the country at large. The great secret, Colonel, of the dissensions
that prevail among us is the poverty of the people. They are poor, and
therefore the more easily wrought up to outrage; they are poor, and
think that any change must be for the better; they are not only poor,
but imaginative, and the fittest recipients for those vague speculations
by which they are deluded. Let their condition be improved, and the most
fertile source of popular tumult and crime is closed. Let them be taught
how to labor: let them not be bowed to the earth by rents so far above
the real value of their lands. The pernicious maxims which float among
them must be refuted—not by theory, but by practical lessons performed
before their eyes for their own advantage. Let them be taught how to
discriminate between their real interests and their prejudices; and none
can teach them all this so effectually as their landlords, if they could
be roused from their apathy, and induced to undertake the task. Who ever
saw a poor nation without great crimes?"
"Very true, O'Brien; quite true. I am resolved to inspect personally
the condition of those who reside on my other estates. But now about our
protege? How is he doing?"
"Extremely well. I have had a letter from him a few days ago, in which
he alludes to the interest you have taken in himself and his family,
with a depth of feeling truly affecting."
"When you write to him, let him know that I have placed his father in
his old farm; and that Carson is out. Say I am sure he will conduct
himself properly, in which case I charge myself with his expenses until
he shall have accomplished his purpose. After that he may work his
own way through life, and I have no doubt but he will do it well and
Colonel B———'s pledge on this occasion was nobly redeemed. Our humble
hero pursued his studies with zeal and success. In due time he entered
Maynooth, where he distinguished himself not simply for smartness as
a student, but as a young man possessed of a mind far above the common
order. During all this time nothing occurred worthy of particular
remark, except that, in fulfilment of his former vow, he never wrote to
any of his friends; for the reader should have been told, that this was
originally comprehended in the determination he had formed. He received
ordination at the hands of his friend the Bishop, whom we have already
introduced to the reader, and on the same day he was appointed by that
gentleman to a curacy in his own parish. The Colonel, whose regard
for him never cooled, presented him with fifty pounds, together with
a horse, saddle, and bridle; so that he found himself in a capacity
to enter upon his duties in a decent and becoming manner. Another
circumstance that added considerably to his satisfaction, was the
appointment of Mr. O'Brien to a parish adjoining that of the Bishop.
James's afflictions had been the means of bringing the merits of that
excellent man before his spiritual superior, who became much attached
to him, and availed himself of the earliest opportunity of rewarding his
unobtrusive piety and benevolence.
No sooner was his ordination completed, than the long suppressed
yearnings after his home and kindred came upon his spirit with a power
that could not be restrained. He took leave of his friends with a
beating heart, and set out on a delightful summer morning to revisit all
that had been, notwithstanding his long absence and severe trials,
so strongly wrought into his memory and affections. Our readers may,
therefore, suppose him on his journey home, and permit, themselves to be
led in imagination to the house of his former friend, Lanigan, where we
must lay the scene for the present.
Lanigan's residence has the same comfortable and warm appearance which
always distinguishes the habitation of the independent and virtuous man.
What, however, can the stir, and bustle, and agitation which prevail
in it mean? The daughters run out to a little mound, a natural terrace,
beside the house, and look anxiously towards the road; then return, and
almost immediately appear again, with the same intense anxiety to catch
a glimpse of some one whom they expect. They look keenly; but why is it
that their disappointment appears to be attended with such dismay?
They go into their father's house once more, wringing their hands, and
betraying all the symptoms of affliction. Here is their mother, too,
coming to peer into the distance, she is rocking with that motion
peculiar to Irishwomen when suffering distress. She places her open hand
upon her brows that she may collect her sight to a particular spot; she
is blinded by her tears; breaks out into a low wail, and returns with
something like the darkness of despair on her countenance. She goes into
the house, passes through the kitchen, and enters into a bed-room; seats
herself on a chair beside the bed, and renews her low but' bitter wail
of sorrow. Her husband is lying in that state which the peasantry know
usually precedes the agonies of death.
"For the sake of the livin' God," said he, on seeing her, "is there any
sign o' them?"
"Not yet, a suillish; (* My light) but they will soon—they must soon,
asthore, be here, an' thin your mind will be asy."
"Oh, Alley, Alley, if you could know what I suffer for 'fraid I'd die
widout the priest you'd pity me!"
"I do pity you, asthore: but don't be cast down, for I have my trust in
God that he won't desart you in your last hour. You did what you could,
my heart's pride; you bent before him night an' mornin', and sure the
poor neighbor never wint from your door widout lavin' his blessin'
The dying man raised his hands feebly from the bed-clothes; "Ah!" he
exclaimed, "I thought I did a great dale, Alley: but now—but now—it
appears nothin' to what I ought to a' done when I could. Still,
avour-neen, my life's not unpleasant when I look back at it; for I can't
remimber that I ever purposely offinded a livin' mortal. All I want to
satisfy me is the priest."
"No, avourneen, you did not; for it wasn't in you to offind a child."
"Alley, you'll pardon me an' forgive me acushla, if ever—if ever I did
what was displasin' to you! An' call in the childhre, till I see them
about me—I want to have their forgiveness, too. I know I'll have
it—for they wor good childhre, an' ever loved me."
The daughters now entered the room, exclaiming—"Ahir dheelish
(beloved father), Pether is comin' by himself, but no priest! Blessed
Queen of Heaven, what will we do! Oh! father darlin', are you to die
widout the Holy Ointment?"
The sick man clasped his hands, looked towards heaven and groaned aloud.
"Oh, it's hard, this," said he. "It's hard upon me! Yet I won't be cast
down. I'll trust in my good God; I'll trust in his blessed name!"
His wife, on hearing that her son was returned without the priest, sat,
with her face shrouded by her apron, weeping in grief that none but they
who know the dependence which those belonging to her church place in
its last rites can comprehend. The children appeared almost distracted;
their grief had more of that stunning character which attends unexpected
calamity, than of sorrow for one who is gradually drawn from life.
At length the messenger entered the room, and almost choked with tears,
stated that both priests were absent that day at Conference, and would
not return till late.
The hitherto moderated grief of the wife arose to a pitch much wilder
than the death of her husband could, under ordinary circumstances,
occasion. To die without absolution—to pass away into eternity
"unanointed, unaneled"—without being purified from the inherent
stains of humanity—was to her a much deeper affliction than her final
separation from him. She cried in tones of the most piercing despair,
and clapped her hands, as they do who weep over the dead. Had he died in
the calm confidence of having received the Viaticum, or Sacrament before
death, his decease would have had nothing remarkably calamitous in
it, beyond usual occurrences of a similar nature. Now the grief was
intensely bitter in consequence of his expected departure without the
priest. His sons and daughters felt it as forcibly as his wife; their
lamentations were full of the strongest and sharpest agony.
For nearly three hours did they remain in this situation; poor Lanigan
sinking by degrees into that collapsed state from which there is no
possibility of rallying. He was merely able to speak; and recognize his
family; but every moment advanced him, with awful certainty, nearer and
nearer to his end..
A great number of the neighbors were now assembled, all participating in
the awful feeling which predominated, and anxious to compensate by their
prayers for the absence of that confidence derived by Roman Catholics
during the approach of death, from the spiritual aid of the priest.
They were all at prayer; the sick-room and kitchen were crowded with his
friends and acquaintances, many of whom knelt out before the door,
and joined with loud voices in the Rosary which was offered up in his
In this crisis were they, when a horseman, dressed in black, approached
the house. Every head was instantly turned round, with a hope that it
might be the parish priest or his curate; but, alas! they were doomed to
experience a fresh disappointment. The stranger, though clerical enough
in his appearance, presented a countenance with which none of them
was acquainted. On glancing at the group who knelt around the door, he
appeared to understand the melancholy cause which brought them together.
"How is this?" he exclaimed. "Is there any one here sick or dying?"
"Poor Misther Lanigan, sir, is jist departing glory be to God! An'
what is terrible all out upon himself and family, he's dyin' widout the
priest. They're both at Conwhirence, sir, and can't come—Mr. Dogherty
an' his curate."
"Make way!" said the stranger, throwing himself off his horse, and
passing quickly through the people. "Show me to the sick man's room—be
quick, my friends—I am a Catholic clergyman."
In a moment a passage was cleared, and the stranger found himself
beside the bed of death. Grief in the room was loud and bitter; but his
presence stilled it despite of what they felt.
"My dear friends," said he, "you know there should be silence in the
apartment of a dying man. For shame!—for shame! Cease this clamor, it
will but distract him for whom you weep, and prevent him from composing
his mind for the great trial that is before him."
"Sir," said Lanigan's wife, seizing his hand in both hers, and looking
distractedly in his face, "are you a priest? For heaven's sake tell us?"
"I am," he replied; "leave the room every one of you. I hope your
husband is not speechless?"
"Sweet Queen of Heaven, not yet, may her name be praised! but near it,
your Reverence—widin little or no time of it.".
Whilst they spoke, he was engaged in putting the stole about his
neck, after which he cleared the room, and commenced hearing Lanigan's
The appearance of a priest, and the consolation it produced, rallied the
powers of life in the benevolent farmer. He became more collected; made
a clear and satisfactory confession; received the sacrament of Extreme
Unction; and felt himself able to speak with tolerable distinctness and
precision. The effects of all this were astonishing. A placid serenity,
full of hope and confidence, beamed from the pale and worn features of
him who was but a few minutes before in a state of terror altogether
indescribable. When his wife and family, after having been called in,
observed this change, they immediately participated in his tranquillity.
Death had been deprived of its sting, and grief of its bitterness; their
sorrow was still deep, but it was not darkened by the dread of future
misery. They felt for him as a beloved father, a kind husband, and a
clear friend, who had lived a virtuous life, feared God, and was now
about to pass into happiness.
When the rites of the church were administered, and the family again
assembled round the bed, the priest sat down in a position which enabled
him to see the features of this good man more distinctly.
"I would be glad," said Lanigan, "to know who it is that God in his
goodness has sent to smooth my bed in death, if it 'ud be plasin', sir,
to you to tell me?"
"Do you remember," replied the priest, "a young lad whom you met some
years ago on his way to Munster, as a poor scholar! You and your family
were particularly kind to him; so kind that he has never since forgotten
your affectionate hospitality."
"We do, your Reverence, we do. A mild, gentle crathur he was, poor boy.
I hope God prospered him."
"You see him now before you," said the priest. "I am that boy, and I
thank God that I can testify, however slightly, my deep sense of the
virtues which you exercised towards me; although I regret that the
occasion is one of such affliction."
The farmer raised his eyes and feeble hands towards heaven. "Praise an'
glory to your name, good God!" he exclaimed. "Praise an' glory to your
holy name! Now I know that I'm not forgotten, when you brought back the
little kindness I did that boy for your sake, wid so many blessins to me
in the hour of my affliction an' sufferin'! Childher remimber this,
now that I'm goin' to lave yez for ever! Remimber always to help the
stranger, an' thim that's poor an' in sorrow. If you do, God won't
forget it to you; but will bring it back to yez when you stand in need
of it, as he done to me this day. You see, childhre dear, how small
thrifles o' that kind depend on one another. If I hadn't thought of
helpin' his Reverence here when he was young and away from his own, he
wouldn't think of callin' upon us this day as he was passin'. You see
the hand of God is in it, childhre: which it is, indeed, in every thing
that passes about us, if we could only see it as we ought to do. Thin,
but I'd like to look upon your face, sir, if it's plasin' to you? A
little more to the light, sir. There, I now see you. Ay, indeed, it's
changed for the betther it is—: the same mild, clear countenance, but
not sorrowful, as when I seen it last. Suffer me to put my hand on your
head, sir; I'd like to bless you before I die, for I can't forget what
you undertook to do for your parents."
The priest sat near him; but finding he was scarcely able to raise his
hand to his head, he knelt down, and the farmer, before he communicated
the blessing inquired—
"Musha, sir, may I ax, wor you able to do anything to help your family
as you expected?"
"God," said the priest, "made me the instrument of raising them from
their poverty; they are now comfortable and happy."
"Ay! Well I knew at the time, an' I said it, that a blessin' would
attind your endayvors. An' now resave my blessin'. May you never depart
from the right way! May the blessin' of God rest upon you for
ever—Amin! Childhre, I'm gettin' wake; come near me, till, till I bless
you, too, for the last time! They were good childhre, sir—they were
ever an' always good to me, an' to their poor mother, your Reverence;
an'—God forgive me if it's a sin!—but I feel a great dale o' my heart
an' my love fixed upon them. But sure I'm their father, an' God, I hope,
will look over it! Now, darlins, afore I bless yez, I ax your
forgiveness if ever I was harsher to yez than I ought!"
The children with a simultaneous movement encircled his bed, and could
not reply for some minutes.
"Never, father darlin'! Oh, never did you offind us! Don't speak in that
way, or you'll break our hearts; but forgive us, father asthore! Oh,
forgive an' bless us, an' don't remimber against us, our folly an'
disobedience, for it's only now that we see we warn't towards you as we
ought to be. Forgive us an' pardon us!"
He then made them all kneel around his bed, and with solemn words, and
an impressive manner, placed his hand upon their heads, and blessed them
with a virtuous father's last blessing.
He then called for his wife, and the scene became not only more
touching, but more elevated. There was an exultation in her manner, and
an expression of vivid hope in her eye, arising from the fact of her
husband having received, and been soothed by the rites of her church,
that gave evident proof of the unparalleled attachment borne by persons
of her class to the Catholic religion. The arrival of our hero had been
so unexpected, and the terrors of the tender wife for her husband's soul
so great, that the administration of the sacrament almost superseded
from her heart every other sensation than that of devotional triumph.
Even now, in the midst of her tears, that triumph kindled in her eye
with a light that shone in melancholy beauty upon the bed of death.
In proportion, however, as the parting scene—which was to be their
last—began to work with greater power upon her sorrow, so did this
expression gradually fade away. Grief for his loss resumed its dominion
over her heart so strongly, that their last parting was afflicting even
to look upon.
When it was over, Lanigan once more addressed the priest:—
"Now, sir," he observed, but with great difficulty, "let me have your
blessin' an' your prayers; an' along wid that, your Reverence, if you
remimber a request I once made to you"—
"I remember it well," replied the priest; "you allude to the masses
which you-wished I me to say for you, should I ever receive Orders. Make
your mind easy on that point. I not only shall offer up mass for the
repose of your soul, but I can assure you that I have mentioned you by
name in every mass which I celebrated since my ordination."
He then proceeded to direct the mind of his dying benefactor to such
subjects as were best calculated to comfort and strengthen him.
About day-break the next morning, this man of many virtues, after
struggling rather severely for two hours preceding his death, passed
into eternity, there to enjoy the recompense of a well-spent life.
When he was dead, the priest, who never left him during the night,
approached the bed, and after surveying his benevolent features, now
composed in the stillness of death, exclaimed—
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they rest from their
labors, and their works do follow them!"
Having uttered the words aloud, he sat down beside the bed, buried his
face in his handkerchief, and wept.
He was now only a short day's journey from home, and as his presence, he
knew, would be rather a restraint upon a family so much in affliction,
he bade them farewell, and proceeded on his way. He travelled slowly,
and, as every well-known hill or lake appeared to him, his heart
beat quickly, his memory gave up its early stores, and his affections
prepared themselves for the trial that was before them.
"It is better for me not to arrive," thought he, "until the family
shall have returned from their daily labor, and are collected about the
In the meantime, many an impression of profound and fervid piety
came over him, when he reflected upon the incontrovertible proofs of
providential protection and interference which had been, during his
absence from home, under his struggles, and, in his good fortune, so
clearly laid before him. "Deep," he exclaimed, "is the gratitude I owe
to God for this; may I never forget to acknowledge it!"
It was now about seven o'clock; the evening was calm, and the sun
shone with that clear amber light which gives warmth, and the power of
exciting tenderness to natural scenery. He had already gained the ascent
which commanded a view of the rich sweep of country that reposed below.
There it lay—his native home—his native parish—bathed in the light
and glory of the hour. Its fields were green—its rivers shining like
loosened silver; its meadows already studded with hay-cocks, its green
pastures covered with sheep, and its unruffled lakes reflecting the
hills under which they lay. Here and there a gentleman's residence rose
among the distant trees, and well did he recognize the church spire
that cut into the western sky on his right. It is true, nothing of the
grandeur and magnificence of nature was there; everything was simple in
its beauty. The quiet charm, the serene light, the air of happiness
and peace that reposed upon all he saw, stirred up a thousand tender
feelings in a heart whose gentle character resembled that of the
prospect which it felt so exquisitely. The smoke of a few farm-houses
and cottages rose in blue, graceful columns to the air, giving just
that appearance of life which was necessary; and a figure or two, with
lengthened shadows, moved across the fields and meadows a little below
where he stood.
But our readers need not to be told, that there was one spot which,
beyond all others, riveted his attention. On that spot his eager eye
rested long and intensely. The spell of its remembrance had clung to
his early heart: he had never seen it in his dreams without weeping;
and often had the agitation of his imaginary sorrow awoke him with his
eye-lashes steeped in tears. He looked down on it steadily. At length he
was moved with a strong sensation like grief: he sobbed twice or thrice,
and the tears rolled in showers from his eyes. His gathering affections
were relieved by this: he felt lighter, and in the same slow manner rode
onward to his father's house.
To this there were two modes of access: one by a paved bridle-way, or
boreen, that ran up directly before the door—the other by a green lane,
that diverged from the boreen about a furlong below the house. He took
the latter, certain that the family could not notice his approach, nor
hear the noise of his horse's footsteps, until he could arrive at the
very threshold.. On dismounting, he felt that he could scarcely walk. He
approached the door, however, as steadily as he could. He entered—and
the family, who had just finished their supper, rose up, as a mark of
their respect to the stranger.
"Is this," he inquired, "the house in which Dominick M'Evoy lives?"
"That's my name, sir," replied Dominick. "The family, I trust,
are—all—well? I have been desired—but—no—no—I cannot—I
"It's him!" shrieked the mother—"Its himself!—Jemmy"
"Jemmy!—Jemmy!" shouted the lather, with a cry of joy which might be
heard far beyond the house.
"Jemmy!—our poor Jemmy!—Jemmy!!" exclaimed his brothers and sisters.
"Asy, childhre," said the father—"asy; let the mother to him—let her
to him. Who has the right that she has? Vara, asthore—Vara, think of
yourself. God of heaven! what is comin' over her?—Her brain's turned!"
"Father, don't remove her," said the son. "Leave her arms where they
are: it's long since they encircled my neck before. Often—often would I
have given the wealth of the universe to be encircled in my blessed and
beloved mother's arms! Yes, yes!—Weep, my father—weep, each of
you. You see those tears:—consider them as a proof that I have never
forgotten you! Beloved mother! recollect yourself: she knows me not—her
eyes wander!—I fear the shock has been too much for her. Place a chair
at the door, and I will bring her to the air."
After considerable effort, the mother's faculties were restored so far
as to be merely conscious that our hero was her son. She had not yet
shed a tear, but now she surveyed his countenance, smiled and named
him, placed her hands upon him, and examined his dress with a singular
blending of conflicting emotions, but still without being thoroughly
"I will speak to her," said Jemmy, "in Irish, it will go directly to her
heart:—Mhair, avourneen, tha ma, laht, anish!—Mother, my darling, I
am with you at last."
"Shamus, aroon, vick machree, wuil thu Ihum? wuil thu—wuil thu
Ihum?—Jemmy, my beloved, son of my heart, are you with me?—are
you—are you with me?"
"Ish maheen a tha in, a vair dheelish machree—It is I who am with
you, beloved mother of my heart!"
She smiled again—but only for a moment. She looked at him, laid his
head upon her bosom, bedewed his face with her tears, and muttered out,
in a kind of sweet, musical cadence, the Irish cry of joy.
We are incapable of describing the scene further. Our readers must be
contented to know, that the delight and happiness of our hero's whole
family were complete. Their son, after many years of toil and struggle,
had at length succeeded, by a virtuous course of action, in raising them
from poverty to comfort, and in effecting his own object, which was,
to become a member of the Catholic priesthood. During all his trials he
never failed to rely on God; and it is seldom that those who rely upon
Him, when striving to attain a laudable purpose, are ever ultimately
We regret to inform our readers, that the poor scholar is dead! He did
not, in fact, long survive the accomplishment of his wishes. But as we
had the particulars of his story from his nearest friends, we thought
his virtues of too exalted a nature to pass into oblivion without some
record, however humble. He died as he had lived—the friend of God and