The Station by William Carleton
Our readers are to suppose the Reverend Philemy M'Guirk, parish priest of
Tir-neer, to be standing upon the altar of the chapel, facing the
congregation, after having gone through the canon of the Mass; and having
nothing more of the service to perform, than the usual prayers with which
he closes the ceremony.
"Take notice, that the Stations for the following week will be held as
"On Monday, in Jack Gallagher's of Corraghnamoddagh. Are you there,
"To the fore, yer Reverence."
"Why, then, Jack, there's something ominous—something auspicious—to
happen, or we wouldn't have you here; for it's very seldom that you make
part or parcel of this present congregation; seldom are you here,
Jack, it must be confessed: however, you know the old classical proverb,
or if you don't, I do, which will just answer as well—Non semper
ridet Apollo—it's not every day Manus kills a bullock;
so, as you are here, be prepared for us on Monday."
"Never fear, yer Reverence, never fear; I think you ought to know that the
grazin' at Corraghnamoddagh's not bad."
"To do you justice, Jack, the mutton was always good with you, only if you
would get it better killed it would be an improvement. Get Tom McCusker to
kill it, and then it'll have the right smack."
"Very well, yer Rev'rence, I'll do it."
"On Tuesday, in Peter Murtagh's of the Crooked Commons. Are you
"Here, yer Reverence."
"Indeed, Peter, I might know you are here; and I wish that a great many of
my flock would take example by you: if they did, I wouldn't be so far
behind in getting in my dues. Well, Peter, I suppose you know that
this is Michaelmas?"*
* Michaelmas is here jocularly alluded to as that period
of the year when geese are fattest.
"So fat, yer Reverence, that they're not able to wag; but, any way, Katty
has them marked for you—two fine young crathurs, only this year's
fowl, and the ducks isn't a taste behind them—she crammin' them this
"I believe you, Peter, and I would take your word for more than the
condition of the geese. Remember me to Katty, Peter."
"On Wednesday, in Parrah More Slevin's of Mullaghfadh. Are you
there, Parrah More?"—No answer. "Parrah More Sle-vin?"—Silence.
"Parrah More Slevin, of Mullaghfadh?"—No reply. "Dan Fagan?"
"Do you know what keeps that reprobate from mass?"
"I bleeve he's takin' advantage, sir, of the frost, to get in his praties
to-day, in respect of the bad footin', sir, for the horses in the bog when
there's not a frost. Any how, betune that and a bit of a sore head that he
got, yer Reverence, on Thursday last in takin' part wid the O'Scallaghans
agin the Bradys, I bleeve he had to stay away to-day."
"On the Sabbath day, too, without my leave! Well, tell him from me, that
I'll make an example of him to the whole parish, if he doesn't attend mass
better. Will the Bradys and the O'Scallaghans never be done with their
quarrelling? I protest, if they don't live like Christians, I'll read them
out from the altar. Will you tell Parrah More that I'll hold a station in
his house on next Wednesday?"
"I will, sir; I will, yer Reverence."
"On Thursday, in Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy's of the Esker. Are you
"Wid the help of God, I'm here, sir."
"Well, Phaddhy, how is yer son Briney, that's at the Latin? I hope he's
coming on well at it."
"Why, sir, he's not more nor a year and a half at it yet, and he's got
more books amost nor he can carry; he'll break me buying books for him."
"Well, that's a good sign, Phaddhy; but why don't you bring him to me till
I examine him?"
"Why, never a one of me can get him to come, sir, he's so much afeard of
"Well, Phaddhy, we were once modest and bashful ourselves, and I'm glad to
hear that he's afraid of his clargy; but let him be prepared for me on
Thursday, and maybe I'll let him know something he never heard before;
I'll open his eyes for him."
"Do you hear that, Briney?" said the father, aside to the son, who knelt
at his knee; "you must give up yer hurling and idling now, you see. Thank
yer Reverence; thank you, docthor."
"On Friday, in Barny O'Darby's, alias Barny Butters. Are you there,
"All that's left of me is here, sir."
"Well, Barny, how is the butter trade this season?"
"It's a little on the rise, now, sir: in a, month or so I'm expecting it
will be brisk enough. Boney, sir, is doing that much for us anyway."
"Ay, and, Barny, he'll do more than that for us: God prosper him at all
events; I only hope the time's coming, Barny, when every one will be able
to eat his own butter, and his own beef, too."
"God send it, sir."
"Well, Barny, I didn't hear from your brother Ned these two or three
months; what has become of him?"
"Ah, yer Reverence, Pentland done him up."
"What! the gauger?"
"He did, the thief; but maybe he'll sup sorrow for it, afore he's much
"And who do you think informed, Barny?"
"Oh, I only wish we knew that, sir."
"I wish I knew it, and if I thought any miscreant here would become an
informer, I'd make an example of him. Well, Barny, on Friday next: but I
suppose Ned has a drop still—eh, Barny?"
"Why, sir, we'll be apt to have something stronger nor wather, anyhow."
"Very well, Barny; your family was always a dacent and spirited family,
I'll say that for them; but, tell me, Barny, did you begin to dam the
river yet? * I think the trouts and eels are running by this time."
* It is usual among the peasantry to form, about
Michaelmas, small artificial cascades, called dams,
under which they place long, deep, wicker creels,
shaped like inverted cones, for the purpose of securing
the fish that are now on their return to the large
rivers, after having deposited their spawn in the
higher and remoter streams. It is surprising what a
number of fish, particularly of eels, are caught in
this manner—sometimes from one barrel to three in the
course of a single night!
"The creels are made, yer Reverence, though we did not set them yet; but
on Tuesday night, sir, wid the help o' God, we'll be ready."
"You can corn the trouts, Barny, and the eels too; but should you catch
nothing, go to Pat Hartigan, Captain Sloethorn's gamekeeper, and, if you
tell him it's for me, he'll drag you a batch out of the fish-pond."
"Ah! then, you're Reverence, it's himself that'll do that wid a heart an'
Such was the conversation which took place between the Reverend Philemy
M'Guirk, and those of his parishioners in whose houses he had appointed to
hold a series of Stations, for the week ensuing the Sunday laid in this
our account of that hitherto undescribed portion of the Romish discipline.
Now, the reader is to understand, that a station in this sense differs
from a station made to any peculiar spot remarkable for local sanctity.
There, a station means the performance of a pilgrimage to a certain place,
under peculiar circumstances, and the going through a stated number of
prayers and other penitential ceremonies, for the purpose of wiping out
sin in this life, or of relieving the soul of some relation from the pains
of purgatory in the other; here, it simply means the coming of the parish
priest and his curate to some house in the town-land, on a day publicly
announced from the altar for that purpose, on the preceding Sabbath.
This is done to give those who live within the district in which the
station is held an opportunity of coming to their duty, as frequenting the
ordinance of confession is emphatically called. Those who attend
confession in this manner once a year, are considered merely to have done
their duty; it is expected, however, that they should approach the
tribunal,* as it is termed, at least twice during that period, that is, at
the two great festivals of Christmas and Easter. The observance or
omission of this rite among Roman Catholics, establishes, in a great
degeee, the nature of individual character. The man who,frequents his duty
will seldom be pronounced a bad man, let his conduct and principles be
what they may in other respects; and he who neglects it, is looked upon,
by those who attend it, as in a state little short of reprobation.
* That is, of confession—so going to confession is
termed by the priests.
When the "giving out" of the stations was over, and a few more jests were
broken by his Reverence, to which the congregation paid the tribute of a
general and uproarious laugh, he turned round, and resumed the performance
of the mass, whilst his "flock" began to finger their beads with faces as
grave as if nothing of the kind had occurred. When mass was finished, and
the holy water sprinkled upon the people, out of a tub carried by the
mass-server through the chapel for that purpose, the priest gave them a
Latin benediction, and they dispersed.
Now, of the five individuals in whose houses the "stations" were appointed
to be held, we will select Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy for our purpose;
and this we do, because it was the first time in which a station was ever
kept in his house, and consequently Phaddhy and his wife had to undergo
the initiatory ceremony of entertaining Father Philemy and his
curate, the Reverend Con M'Coul, at dinner.
Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy had been, until a short time before the
period in question, a very poor man; but a little previous to that event,
a brother of his, who had no children, died very rich—that is, for a
farmer—and left him his property, or, at least, the greater part of
it. While Phaddhy was poor, it was surprising what little notice he
excited from his Reverence; in fact, I have heard him acknowledge, that
during all the days of his poverty, he never got a nod of recognition or
kindness from Father Philemy, although he sometimes did, he said, from
Father Con, his curate, who honored him on two occasions so far as to
challenge him to a bout at throwing the shoulder-stone, and once to a
leaping match, at both of which exercises Father Con, but for the superior
power of Phaddhy, had been unrivalled.
"It was an unlucky day to him," says Phaddy, "that he went to challenge
me, at all at all; for I was the only man that ever bate him, and he
wasn't able to hould up his head in the parish for many a day afther."
As soon, however, as Phaddhy became a man of substance, one would almost
think that there had been a secret relationship between his good fortune
and Father Philemy's memory; for, on their first meeting, after Phaddhy's
getting the property, the latter shook him most cordially by the hand—a
proof that, had not his recollection been as much improved as Phaddhy's
circumstances, he could by no means have remembered him; but this is a
failing in the memory of many, as well as in that of Father Philemy.
Phaddhy, however, was no Donnell, to use his own expression, and
saw as far into a deal board as another man.
"And so, Phaddy," said the priest, "how are all your family?—six you
have, I think?"
"Four, your Rev'rence, only four," said Phaddy, winking at Tim Dillon, his
neighbor, who happened to be present—"three boys an' one girl."
"Bless my soul, and so it is indeed, Phaddy, and I ought to know it; an
how is your wife Sarah?—I mean, I hope Mrs. Sheemus Phaddhy is well:
by the by, is that old complaint of hers gone yet?—a pain in the
stomach, I think it was, that used to trouble her; I hope in God, Phaddhy,
she's getting over it, poor thing. Indeed, I remember telling her, last
Easter, when she came to her duty, to eat oaten bread and butter with
water-grass every morning fasting, it cured myself of the same complaint."
"Why, thin, I'm very much obliged to your Rev'rence for purscribin' for
her," replied Phaddhy; "for, sure enough, she has neither pain nor ache,
at the present time, for the best rason in the world, docthor, that she'll
be dead jist seven years, if God spares your Rev'rence an' myself till
to-morrow fortnight, about five o'clock in the mornin'."
This was more than Father Philemy could stand with a good conscience, so
after getting himself out of the dilemma as well as he could, he shook
Phaddhy again very cordially by the hand, saying, "Well, good-bye,
Phaddliy, and God be good to poor Sarah's soul—I now remember her
funeral, sure enough, and a dacent one it was, for indeed she was a woman
that had everybody's good word—and, between you and me, she made a
happy death, that's as far as we can judge here; for, after all, there may
be danger, Phaddy, there may be danger, you understand—however, it's
your own business, and your duty, too, to think of that; but I believe
you're not the man that would be apt to forget her."
"Phaddhy, ye thief o' the world," said Jim Dillon, when Father Philemy was
gone, there's no comin' up to ye; how could you make sich a fool of his
Rev'rence, as to tell im that Katty was dead, and that you had only four
childher, an' you has eleven o' them, an' the wife in good health?"
"Why, jist, Tim," replied Phaddhy, with his usual shrewdness, "to tache
his Reverence himself to practise truth a little; if he didn't know that I
got the stockin' of guineas and the Linaskey farm by my brother Barney's
death, do ye think that he'd notish me at all at all?—not himself,
avick; an' maybe he won't be afther comin' round to me for a sack of my
best oats,* instead of the bushel I used to give him, and houldin' a
couple of stations wid me every year."
* The priest accompanied by a couple of servants each
with a horse and sack, collects from such of his
parishioners as can afford it, a quantity of oats,
varying with the circumstances of the donor. This
collection—called Questing—is voluntary on the part
of his parishioners who may refuse it it they wish;
very few are found however, hardy enough to risk the
obloquy of declining to contribute, and the consequence
is that the custom operates with as much force as if it
were legal and compulsory.
"But won't he go mad when he hears you tould him nothing but lies?"
"Not now, Tim," answered Phaddhy—"not now; thank God,—I'm not
a poor man, an' he'll keep his temper. I'll warrant you the horsewhip
won't be up now, although, afore this, I wouldn't say but it might—though
the poorest day I ever was, 'id's myself that wouldn't let priest or friar
lay a horsewhip to my back, an' that you know, Tim."
Phaddhy's sagacity, however, was correct; for, a short time after this
conversation, Father Philemy, when collecting his oats, gave him a call,
laughed heartily at the sham account of Katty's death, examined young
Briney in his Latin, who was called after his uncle, pronounced him very
cute, and likely to become a great scholar—promised his interest
with the bishop to get him into Maynooth, and left the family, after
having shaken hands with, and stroked down the heads of all the children.
When Phaddhy, on the Sunday in question, heard the public notice given of
the Station about to be held in his house, notwithstanding his correct
knowledge of Father Philemy's character, on which he looked with a
competent portion of contempt, he felt a warmth of pride about his heart,
that arose from the honor of having a station, and of entertaining the
clergy, in their official capacity, under his own roof, and at his own
expense—that gave him, he thought, a personal consequence, which
even the "stockin' of guineas" and the Linaskey farm were unable, of
themselves, to confer upon him. He did enjoy, 'tis true, a very fair
portion of happiness on succeeding to his brother's property; but this
would be a triumph over the envious and ill-natured remarks which several
of his neighbors and distant relations had taken the liberty of indulging
in against him, on the occasion of his good fortune. He left the chapel,
therefore, in good spirits, whilst Briney, on the contrary, hung a lip of
more melancholy pendency than usual, in dread apprehension of the
examination that he expected to be inflicted on him by his Reverence at
Before I introduce the conversation which took place between Phaddhy and
Briney, as they went home, on the subject of this literary ordeal, I must
observe, that there is a custom, hereditary in some Irish families, of
calling fathers by their Christian names, instead of by the usual
appellation of "father." This usage was observed, not only by Phaddhy and
his son, but by all the Phaddys of that family, generally. Their surname
was Doran, but in consequence of the great numbers in that part of the
country who bore the same name, it was necessary as of old, to distinguish
the several branches of it by the Christian names of their fathers and
grandfathers, and sometimes this distinction went as far back as the
great-grandfather. For instance—Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy, meant
Phaddhy, the son of Sheemus, the son of Phaddhy; and his son, Briney, was
called, Brian Phaddy Sheemus Phaddy, or, anglice, Bernard the son
of Patrick, the son of James, the son of Patrick. But the custom of
children calling fathers, in a viva voce manner, by their Christian names,
was independent of the other more general usage of the patronymic.
"Well, Briney," said Phaddy, as the father and son returned home, cheek by
jowl from the chapel, "I suppose Father Philemy will go very deep in the
Latin wid ye on Thursday; do ye think ye'll be able to answer him?"
"Why, Phaddhy," replied Briney, "how could I be able to answer a clargy?—doesn't
he know all the languages, and I'm only in the Fibulae AEsiopii
"Is that Latin or Greek, Briney?"
"It's Latin, Phaddhy."
"And what's the translation of that?"
"It signifies the Fables of AEsiopius."
"Bliss my sowl! and Briney, did ye consther that out of yer own head?"
"Hogh! that's little of it. If ye war to hear me consther Gallus
Gallinaceus, a dunghill cock?"
"And, Briney, are ye in Greek at all yet?"
"No, Phaddhy, I'll not be in Greek till I'm in Virgil and Horace, and thin
I'll be near finished."
"And how long will it be till that, Briney?"
"Why, Phaddhy, you know I'm only a year and a half at the Latin, and in
two years more I'll be in the Greek."
"Do ye think will ye ever be as larned as! Father Philemy, Briney?"
"Don't ye, know whin I'm a clargy I will but I'm only a lignum
sacerdotis yet, Phaddhy."
"What's ligdum saucerdoatis, Briney?"
"A block of a priest, Phaddhy."
"Now, Briney, I suppose Father Philemy knows everything."
"Ay, to be sure he does; all the languages' that's spoken through the
"And must all the priests know them, Briney?—how many are they?"
"Seven—sartainly, every priest must know them, or how could they lay
the divil, if he'd, spake to them in a tongue they couldn't understand,
"Ah, I declare, Briney, I see it now; only for that, poor Father Philip,
the heavens be his bed, wouldn't be able to lay ould Warnock, that haunted
Squire Sloethorn's stables."
"Is that when the two horses was stole, Phaddhy?"
"The very time, Briney; but God be thanked, Father Philip settled him to
the day of judgment."
"And where did he put him, Phaddhy?"
"Why, he wanted to be put anundher the hearth-stone; but Father Philip
made him walk away with himself into a thumb-bottle, and tied a stone to
it, and then sent him to where he got a cooling, the thief, at the bottom
of the lough behind the house."
"Well, I'll tell you what I'm thinking I'll be apt to do, Phaddhy, when
I'm a clargy."
"And what is that, Briney?"
"Why, I'll—but, Phaddhy,don't be talking of this, bekase, if it
should come to be known, I might get my brains knocked out by some of the
"Never fear, Briney, there's no danger of that—but what is it?"
"Why, I'll translate all the Protestants into asses, and then we'll get
our hands red of them altogether."
"Well, that flogs for cuteness, and it's a wondher the clargy* doesn't do
it, and them has the power; for 'twould give us pace entirely. But,
Briney, will you speak in Latin to Father Philemy on Thursday?"
* I have no hesitation in asserting that the bulk of the uneducated
peasantry really believe that the priests have this power.
"To tell you the thruth, Phaddhy, I would rather he wouldn't examine me
this bout, at all at all."
"Ay, but you know we couldn't go agin him, Briney, bekase he promised to
get you into the college. Will you speak some Latin, now till I hear you?"
"Hem!—Verbum personaley cohairit cum nomnatibo numbera at persona
at numquam sera yeast at bonis moras voia."
"Bless my heart!—and, Briney, where's that taken from?"
"From Syntax, Phaddhy."
"And who was Syntax—do you know, Briney?"
"He was a Roman, Phaddhy, bekase there's a Latin prayer in the beginning
of the book."
"Ay, was he—a priest, I'll warrant him. Well, Briney, do you mind
yer Latin, and get on wid yer larnin', and when you grow up you'll have a
pair of boots, and a horse of your own (and a good broadcloth black coat,
too) to ride on, every bit as good as Father Philemy's, and may be betther
nor Father Con's."
From this point, which usually wound up these colloquies between the
father and son, the conversation generally diverged into the more spacious
fields of science; so that by the time they reached home, Briney had
probably given the father a learned dissertation upon the elevation of the
clouds above the earth, and told him within how many thousand miles they
approached it, at their nearest point of approximation.
"Katty," said Phaddhy, when he got home, "we're to have a station here on
Thursday next: 'twas given out from the altar to-day by Father Philemy."
"Oh, wurrah, wurrah!" exclaimed Katty, overwhelmed at the consciousness of
her own incapacity to get up a dinner in sufficient style for such guests—"wurrah,
wurrah! Phaddhy, ahagur, what on the livin' earth will we do at all at
all! Why, we'll never be able to manage it."
"Arrah, why, woman; what do they want but their skinful to eat and dhrink,
and I'm sure we're able to allow them that, any way?"
"Arrah, bad manners to me, but you're enough to vex a saint—'their
skinful to eat and dhrink!'—you common crathur you, to speak that
way of the clargy, as if it was ourselves or the laborers you war spaking
"Ay, and aren't we every bit as good as they are, if you go to that?—haven't
we sowls to be saved as well as themselves?"
"'As good as they are!'—as good as the clargy!! Manum a yea agus
a wurrah!*—listen to what he says! Phaddhy, take care of
yourself, you've got rich, now; but for all that, take care of yourself.
You had betther not bring the priest's ill-will, or his bad heart upon us.
You know they never thruv that had it; and maybe it's a short time your
riches might stay wid you, or maybe it's a short time you might stay wid
them: at any rate, God forgive you, and I hope he will, for making use of
sich unsanctified words to your lawful clargy."
* My soul to God and the Virgin.
"Well, but what do you intind to do?—-or, what do you think of
getting for them?" inquired Phaddy.
"Indeed, it's very little matther what I get for them, or what I'll do
either—sorrow one of myself cares almost: for a man in his senses,
that ought to know better, to make use of such low language about the
blessed and holy crathurs, that hasn't a stain of sin about them, no more
than the child unborn!"
"So you think."
"So I think! aye, and it would be betther for you that you thought so,
too; but ye don't know what's before ye yet, Phaddhy—and now take
warnin' in time, and mend your life."
"Why what do you see wrong in my life? Am I a drunkard? am I lazy? did
ever I neglect my business? was I ever bad to you or to the childher?
didn't I always give yez yer fill to ate, and kept yez as well clad as yer
neighbors that was richer? Don't I go to my knees, too, every night and
"That's true enough, but what signifies it all? When did ye cross a
priest's foot to go to your duty? Not for the last five years, Phaddhy—not
since poor Torly (God be good to him) died of the mazles, and that'll be
five years, a fortnight before Christmas."
"And what are you the betther of all yer confessions? Did they ever mend
yer temper, avourneen? no, indeed, Katty, but you're ten times worse
tempered coming back from the priest than before you go to him."
"Oh! Phaddhy! Phaddhy! God look down upon you this day, or any man that's
in yer hardened state—I see there's no use in spaking to you, for
you'll still be the ould cut."
"Ay, will I; so you may as well give up talking about it Arrah, woman!"
said. Phaddhy, raising his voice, "who does it ever make betther—show
me a man now in all the neighborhood, that's a pin-point the holier of it?
Isn't there Jemmy Shields, that goes to his duty wanst a month,
malivogues his wife and family this minute, and then claps them to a
Rosary the next; but the ould boy's a thrifle to him of a fast day, afther
coming from the priest. Betune ourselves, Katty, you're not much behind
Katty made no reply to him, but turned up her eyes, and crossed herself,
at the wickedness of her unmanageable husband. "Well, Briney," said she,
turning abruptly to the son, "don't take patthern by that man, if you
expect to do any good; let him be a warning to you to mind yer duty, and
respect yer clargy—and prepare yerself, now that I think of it, to
go to Father Philemy or Father Con on Thursday: but don't be said or led
by that man, for I'm sure I dunna how he intends to face the Man above
when he laves this world—and to keep from his duty, and to spake of
his clargy as he does!"
There are few men without their weak sides. Phaddhy, although the priests
were never very much his favorites, was determined to give what he himself
called a let-out on this occasion, simply to show his ill-natured
neighbors that, notwithstanding their unfriendly remarks, he knew "what it
was to be dacent," as well as his betters; and Katty seconded him in his
resolution, from her profound veneration for the clargy. Every preparation
was accordingly entered into, and every plan adopted that could possibly
be twisted into a capability of contributing to the entertainment of
Fathers Philemy and Con.
One of those large, round, stercoraceous nosegays that, like many other
wholesome plants, make up by odor what is wanting in floral beauty, and
which lay rather too contagious as Phaddhy expressed it, to the door of
his house, was transplanted by about half a dozen laborers, and as many
barrows, in the course of a day or two, to a bed some yards distant from
the spot of its first growth; because, without any reference whatever to
the nasal sense, it was considered that it might be rather an eye-sore to
their Reverences, on approaching the door. Several concave inequalities,
which constant attrition had worn in the earthen floor of the kitchen,
were filled up with blue clay, brought on a cart from the bank of a
neighboring river, for the purpose. The dresser, chairs, tables, I pots,
and pans, all underwent a rigor of discipline, as if some remarkable event
was about to occur; nothing less, it must be supposed than a complete,
domestic revolution, and a new state of things. Phaddhy himself cut two or
three large furze bushes, and, sticking them on the end of a pitchfork,
attempted to sweep down the chimney. For this purpose he mounted on the
back of a chair, that he might be able to reach the top with more ease;
but, in order that his footing might be firm, he made one of the
servant-men sit upon the chair, to keep it steady during the operation.
Unfortunately, however, it so happened that this man was needed to assist
in removing a meal-chest to another part of the house; this was under
Katty's superintendence, who, seeing the fellow sit rather more at his
ease than she thought the hurry and importance of the occasion permitted,
called him, with a little of her usual sharpness and energy, to assist in
removing the chest. For some reason or other, which it is not necessary to
mention here, the fellow bounced from his seat, in obedience to the shrill
tones of Katty, and the next moment Phaddhy (who was in a state of
abstraction in the chimney, and totally unconscious of what was going
forward below) made a descent decidedly contrary to the nature of that
which most aspirants would be inclined to relish. A severe stun, however,
was the most serious injury he received on his own part, and several round
oaths, with a good drubbing, fell to the servant; but unluckily he left
the furze bush behind him in the highest and narrowest part of the
chimney; and were it not that an active fellow succeeded in dragging it up
from the outside of the roof, the chimney ran considerable risk, as Katy
said, of being choked.
But along with the lustration which every fixture within the house was
obliged to undergo, it was necessary that all the youngsters should get
new clothes; and for this purpose, Jemmy Lynch, the tailor, with his two
journeymen and three apprentices, were sent for in all haste, that he
might fit Phaddhy and each of his six sons, in suits, from a piece of
home-made frieze, which Katty did not intend to break up till "towards
A station is no common event, and accordingly the web was cut up, and the
tailor left a wedding-suit, half-made, belonging to Edy Dolan, a thin old
bachelor, who took it into his head to try his hand at becoming a husband
ere he'd die. As soon as Jemmy and his train arrived, a door was taken off
the hinges, and laid on the floor, for himself to sit upon, and a new
drugget quilt was spread beside it, for his journeymen and apprentices.
With nimble fingers they plied the needle and thread, and when night came,
a turf was got, into which was stuck a piece of rod, pointed at one end
and split at the other; the "the white candle," slipped into a shaving of
the fringe that was placed in the cleft end of the stick, was then lit,
whilst many a pleasant story, told by Jemmy, who had been once in Dublin
for six weeks, delighted the circle of lookers-on that sat around them.
At length the day previous to the important one arrived. Hitherto, all
hands had contributed to make every thing in and about the house look
"dacent"—scouring, washing, sweeping, pairing, and repairing, had
been all disposed of. The boys got their hair cut to the quick with the
tailor's scissors; and such of the girls as were not full grown, not only
that which grew on the upper part of the head taken off, by a cut somewhat
resembling the clerical tonsure, so that they looked extremely wild and
unsettled with their straight locks projecting over their ears; every
thing, therefore, of the less important arrangements had been gone through—the
weighty and momentous concern was as yet unsettled.
This was the feast; and alas! never was the want of experience more
strongly felt than here. Katty was a bad cook, even to a proverb; and bore
so indifferent a character in the country for cleanliness, that very few
would undertake to eat her butter. Indeed, she was called Katty Sallagh (*
Dirty Katy) on this account: however, this prejudice, whether ill or weil
founded, was wearing fast away, since Phaddhy had succeeded to the
stocking of guineas, and the Lisnaskey farm. It might be, indeed, that her
former poverty helped her neighbors to see this blemish more clearly: but
the world is so seldom in the habit of judging people's qualities or
failings through this uncharitable medium, that the supposition is rather
doubtful. Be this as it may, the arrangements for the breakfast and dinner
must be made. There was plenty of bacon, and abundance of cabbages—eggs,
ad infinitum—oaten and wheaten bread in piles—turkeys, geese,
pullets, as fat as aldermen—cream as rich as Croesus—and three
gallons of poteen, one sparkle of which, as Father Philemy said in the
course of the evening, would lay the hairs on St. Francis himself in his
most self-negative mood, if he saw it. So far so good: everything
excellent and abundant in its way. Still the higher and more refined items—the
deliciae epidarum—must be added. White bread, and tea, and
sugar, were yet to be got; and lump-sugar for the punch; and a tea-pot and
cups and saucers to be borrowed; all which was accordingly done.
Well, suppose everything disposed for tomorrow's feast;—suppose
Phaddhy himself to have butchered the fowl, because Katty, who was not
able to bear the sight of blood, had not the heart to kill "the crathurs"
and imagine to yourself one of the servant men taking his red-hot tongs
out of the fire, and squeezing a large lump of hog's lard, placed in a
grisset, or Kam, on the hearth, to grease all their brogues; then
see in your mind's eye those two fine, fresh-looking girls, slyly take
their old rusty fork out of the fire, and going to a bit of three-corned
looking-glass, pasted into a board, or, perhaps, to a pail of water, there
to curl up their rich-flowing locks, that had hitherto never known a curl
but such, as nature gave them.
On one side of the hob sit two striplings, "thryin' wan another in their
catechiz," that they may be able to answer, with some credit, to-morrow.
On the other hob sits Briney, hard at his syntax, with the Fibulae
AEsiopii, as he called it, placed open at a particular passage, on the
seat under him, with a hope that, when Philemy will examine him, the book
may open at his favorite fable of "Gallus Gallinaceus—a
dung-hill cock." Phaddy himself is obliged to fast this day, there being
one day of his penance yet unperformed, since the last time he was at his
duty; which was, as aforesaid, about five years: and Katty, now that
everything is cleaned up and ready, kneels down in a corner to go over her
beads, rocking herself in a placid silence that is only broken by an
occasional malediction against the servants, or the cat, when it attempts
the abduction of one of the dead fowl.
The next morning the family were up before the sun, who rubbed his eyes,
and swore that he must have overslept himself, on seeing such a merry
column of smoke dancing over Phaddhy's chimney. A large wooden dish was
placed upon the threshold of the kitchen door, filled with water, in
which, with a trencher of oatmeal for soap,* they successively scrubbed
their faces and hands to some purpose. In a short time afterwards, Phaddhy
and the sons were cased, stiff and awkward, in their new suits, with the
tops of their fingers just peeping over the sleeve cuffs. The horses in
the stable were turned out to the fields, being obliged to make room for
their betters, that were soon expected under the reverend bodies of Father
Philemy and his curate; whilst about half a bushel of oats was left in the
manger, to regale them on their arrival. Little Richard Maguire was sent
down to the five-acres, with the pigs, on purpose to keep them from about
the house, they not being supposed fit company at a set-dinner. A roaring
turf fire, which blazed two yards up the chimney, had been put down; on
this was placed a large pot, filled with water for the tea, because they
had no kettle.
* Fact—Oatmeal is in general substituted for soap, by
those who cannot afford to buy the latter.
By this time the morning was tolerably advanced, and the neighbors were
beginning to arrive in twos and threes, to wipe out old scores. Katty had
sent several of the gorsoons "to see if they could see any sight of the
clargy," but hitherto their Reverences were invisible. At length, after
several fruitless embassies of this description, Father Con was seen
jogging along on his easygoing hack, engaged in the perusal of his Office,
previous to his commencing the duties of the day. As soon as his approach
was announced, a chair was immediately placed for him in a room off the
kitchen—the parlor, such as it was, having been reserved for Father
Phileniy himself, as the place of greater honor. This was an arrangement,
however, which went against the grain of Phaddhy, who, had he got his
will, would have established Father Con in the most comfortable apartment
of the house: but that old vagabond, human nature, is the same under all
circumstances—or, as Katty would have (in her own phraseology)
expressed it, "still the ould cut;" for even there the influence of rank
and elevation was sufficient to throw merit into the shade; and the
parlor-seat was allotted to Father Philemy, merely for being Parish
Priest, although it was well known that he could not "tare off"* mass in
half the time that Father Con could, nor throw a sledge, or shoulder-stone
within a perch of him, nor scarcely clear a street-channel, whilst the
latter could jump one-and-twenty feet at a running leap. But these are
rubs which men of merit must occasionally bear; and, when exposed to them,
they must only rest satisfied in the consciousness of their own deserts.
* The people look upon that priest as the best and most
learned who can perform the ceremony of the mass in the
shortest period of time. They call it as above "tareing
off". The quickest description of mass, however, is the
"hunting mass," so termed from the speed at which the
priest goes over it—that is, "at the rate of a hunt."
From the moment that Father Con became visible, the conversation of those
who were collected in Phaddhy's dropped gradually, as he approached the
house, into a silence which was only broken by an occasional short
observation, made by one or two of those who were in habits of the
greatest familiarity with the priest; but when they heard the noise of his
horse's feet near the door, the silence became general and uninterrupted.
There can scarcely be a greater contrast in anything than that presented
by the beginning of a station-day and its close. In the morning, the faces
of those who are about to confess present an expression in which terror,
awe, guilt, and veneration may be easily traced; but in the evening all is
mirth and jollity. Before confession every man's memory is employed in
running over the catalogue of crimes, as they are to be found in the
prayer-books, under the ten commandments, the seven deadly sins, the
Commandments of the Church, the four sins that cry to heaven for
vengeance, and the seven sins against the Holy Ghost.
When Father Con arrived, Phaddhy and Katty were instantly at the door to
"Musha, cead millia failtha ghud (* A hundred thousand welcomes to
you.) to our house, Father Con, avourneen!" says Katty, dropping him a low
curtsey, and spreading her new, brown, quilted petticoat as far out on
each side of her as it would go—"musha, an' it's you that's welcome
from my heart out."
"I thank you," said honest Con, who, as he knew not her name, did not
pretend to know it.
"Well, Father Con," said Phaddhy, this is, the first time you have ever
come to us this, way; but, plase God, it won't be the last, I hope."
"I hope not, Phaddhy," said Father Con, who, notwithstanding his
simplicity of character, loved a good dinner in the very core of his
heart, "I hope not, indeed, Phaddhy." He then threw his eye about the
premises, to see what point he might set his temper to during the
remainder of the day; for it is right to inform our readers that a
priest's temper, at a station, generally rises or falls according to the
prospect of his cheer.
Here, however, a little vista, or pantry, jutting out from the kitchen,
and left ostentatiously open, presented him with a view which made his
very nose curl with kindness. What it contained we do not pretend to say,
not having seen it ourselves; we judge, therefore, only by its effects
upon his physiognomy.
"Why, Phaddhy," he says, "this is a very fine house you've got over you;"
throwing his eye again towards a wooden buttress which supported one of
the rafters that was broken.
"Why then, your Reverence, it would not be a bad one," Phaddhy replied,
"if it had a new roof and new side-walls; and I intend to get both next
summer, if God spares me till then."
"Then, upon my word, if it had new side-walls, a new roof, and new gavels,
too," replied Father Con, "it would look certainly a great deal the better
for it;—and do you intend to to get them next summer, Paddy?"
"If God spares me, sir."
"Are all these fine gorsoons yours, Phaddhy?"
"Why, so Katty says, your Reverence," replied Phaddhy, with a good-natured
"Haven't you got one of them for the church, Phaddhy?"
"Yes, your Reverence, there's one of them that I hope will live to have
the robes upon him Come over, Briney, and speak to Father Con. He's not
very far in his Latin yet, sir but his master tells me that he hasn't the
likes of him in the school for brightness—Briney, will you come
over, I say; come over, sarrah, and spake to the gintleman, and him wants
to shake hands wid you—come up, man, what are you afeard of?—sure
Father Con's not going to examine you now."
"No, no, Briney," said Father Con, "I'm not about to examine you at
"He's a little dashed, yer Reverence, be-kase he thought you war going to
put him through some of his Latin," said the father, bringing him up like
a culprit to Father Con, who shook hands with him, and, after a few
questions as to the books he read, and his progress, dismissed him.
"But, Father Con, wid submission," said Katty, "where's Father Philemy
from us?—sure, we expected him along wid you, and he wouldn't go to
"Oh, you needn't fear that, Katty," replied Father Con; "he'll be here
presently—before breakfast, I'll engage for him at any rate; but he
had a touch of the headache this morning, and wasn't able to rise so early
as I was."
During this conversation a little crowd had collected about the door of
the room in which he was to hear the confessions, each struggling and
fighting to get the first turn; but here, as in the more important
concerns of this world, the weakest went to the wall. He now went into the
room, and taking Katty herself first, the door was closed upon them, and
he gave her absolution; and thus he continued to confess and absolve them,
one by one, until breakfast.
Whenever a station occurs in Ireland, a crowd of mendicants and other
strolling impostors seldom fail to attend it; on this occasion, at least,
they did not. The day, though frosty, was fine; and the door was
surrounded by a train of this description, including both sexes, some
sitting on stones, some on stools, with their blankets rolled up under
them; and others, more ostensibly devout, on their knees, hard at prayer;
which, lest their piety might escape notice, our readers may be assured,
they did not offer up in silence. On one side you might observe a sturdy
fellow, with a pair of tattered urchins secured to his back by a sheet or
blanket pinned across his breast with a long iron skewer, their heads just
visible at his shoulders, munching a thick piece of wheaten bread, and the
father on his knees, with a a huge wooden cross in hand, repeating padareens,
and occasionally throwing a jolly eye towards the door, or through the;
window, opposite which he knelt, into the kitchen, as often as any
peculiar stir or commotion led him to suppose that breakfast, the loadstar
of his devotion, was about to be produced.
Scattered about the door were knots of these, men and women, occasionally
chatting together; and when the subject of their conversation happened to
be exhausted, resuming their beads, until some new topic would occur, and
so on alternately.
The interior of the kitchen where the neighbors were assembled, presented
an appearance somewhat more decorous. Andy Lalor, the mass-server, in whom
the priest had the greatest confidence, stood in a corner examining, in
their catechism, those who intended to confess; and, if they were able to
stand the test, he gave them a bit of twisted brown paper as a ticket, and
they were received at the tribunal.
The first question the priest uniformly puts to the penitent is, "Can you
repeat the Confiteor?" If the latter answers in the affirmative, he goes
on until he comes to the words, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,
when he stops, it being improper to repeat the remainder until after he
has confessed; but, if he is ignorant of the "Confiteor," the priest
repeats it for him! and he commences the rehearsal of his offences,
specifically as they occurred; and not only does he reveal his individual
crimes, but his very thoughts and intentions. By this regulation our
readers may easily perceive, that the penitent is completely at the mercy
of the priest—that all family feuds, quarrels, and secrets are laid
open to his eye—that the ruling; passions of men's lives are held up
before him, the weaknesses and propensities of nature—all the
unguarded avenues of the human heart and character are brought within his
positive knowledge, and that, too, as they exist in the young and the old,
the married and the single, the male and the female.
It was curious to remark the ludicrous expression of temporary sanctity
which was apparent on the countenances of many young men and maidens who
were remarkable in the neighborhood for attending dances and wakes, but
who, on the present occasion, were sobered down to a gravity which sat
very awkwardly upon them; particularly in I the eyes of those who knew the
lightness and drollery of their characters. This, however, was observable
only before confession; for, as soon as, "the priest's blessed hand had
been over them," their gloom and anxiety passed away, and the thoughtless
buoyancy of their natural disposition resumed its influence over their
minds. A good-humored nod, or a sly wink, from a young man to his female
acquaintance, would now be indulged in; or, perhaps a small joke would
escape, which seldom failed to produce a subdued laugh from such as had
confessed, or an impatient rebuke from those who had not.
"Tim!" one would exclaim, "arn't ye ashamed or afeared to get an that way,
and his Reverence undher the wan roof wid ye?"
"Tim, you had better dhrop your joking," a second would observe, "and not
be putting us through other, (* confusing us) when we have our offenses to
remimber; you have got your job over, and now you have nothing to trouble
"Indeed, it's fine behavior," a third would say, "and you afther coming
from the priest's knee; and what more, didn't resave (* Communicate) yet;
but wait till Father Con appears, and, I'll warrant, you'll be as grave as
another, for all you're so stout now."
The conversation would then pass to the merits of Father Philemy and
Father Con, as Confessors.
"Well," one would observe—"for my part, I'd rather go to Father
Philemy, fifty times over, than wanst to Father Con, bekase he never axes
questions; but whatever you like to tell him, he hears it, and forgives
you at wanst."
"And so sign's an it," observed another; "he could confess more in a day
that Father Con could in a week."
"But for all that," observed Andy Lalor, "it's still best to go to the man
that puts the questions, you persave, and that won't let the turning of a
straw escape him. Whin myself goes to Father Philemy, somehow or other, I
totally disremember more nor wan half of what I intinded to tell him, but
Father Con misses nothing, for he axes it."
When the last observation was finished, Father Con, finding that the usual
hour for breakfast had arrived, came into the kitchen, to prepare for the
celebration of mass. For this purpose, a table was cleared, and just in
the nick of time arrived old Moll Brian, the vestment woman, or itinerant
sacristan, whose usual occupation was to carry the priests' robes and
other apparatus, from station to station. In a short time, Father Con was
surpliced and robed; Andy Lalor, whose face was charged with commensurate
importance during the ceremony, sarved Mass, and answered the priest
stoutly in Latin although he had not the advantage of understanding that
sacerdotal language. Those who had confessed, now communicated; after
which, each of them took a draught, of water out of a small jug, which was
handed round from one to another. The ceremony then closed, and those who
had partaken of the sacrament, with the exception of such as were detained
for breakfast, after filling their bottles with holy water, went home with
a light heart. A little before the mass had been finished, Father Philemy
arrived; but, as Phaddy and Katty were then preparing to resave they could
not at that moment give him a formal reception. As soon, however, as
communion was over, the cead millia failtha was repeated with the
usual warmth, by both, and by all their immediate friends. Breakfast was
now laid in Katty's best style, and with an originality of arrangement
that scorned all precedent. Two tables were placed, one after another, in
the kitchen; for the other rooms were not sufficiently large to
accommodate the company. Father Philemy filled the seat of honor at the
head of the table, with his back to an immense fire. On his right hand sat
Father Con; on his left, Phaddhy himself, "to keep the-clargy company;"
and, in due succession after them, their friends and neighbors, each
taking precedence according to the most scrupulous notions of
respectability. Beside Father Con sat "Pettier Malone," a "young
collegian," who had been sent home from Maynooth to try his native air,
for the recovery of his health, which was declining. He arrived only a few
minutes after Father Philemy, and was a welcome reinforcement to Phaddhy,
in the arduous task of sustaining the conversation with suitable credit.
With respect to the breakfast, I can only say, that it was superabundant—that
the tea was as black as bog water—that there were hen, turkey, and
geese eggs—plates of toast soaked, crust and crumb, in butter; and
lest there might be a deficiency, one of the daughters sat on a stool at
the fire, with her open hand, by way of a fire screen, across her red,
half-scorched brows, toasting another plateful, and, to crown all, on each
corner of the table was a bottle of whiskey. At the lower board sat the
youngsters, under the surveillance of Katty's sister, who presided in that
quarter. When they were commencing breakfast, "Father Philemy," said
Katty, "won't yer Rev'rence bless the mate (* food) if ye plase?"
"If I don't do it myself," said Father Philemy, who was just after
sweeping the top off a turkey egg, "I'll get them that will. Come," said
he to the collegian, "give us grace, Peter; you'll never learn younger."
This, however, was an unexpected blow to Peter, who knew that an English
grace would be incompatible with his "college feeding," yet was unprovided
with any in Latin—The eyes of the company were now fixed upon him,
and he blushed like scarlet on finding himself in a predicament so awkward
and embarrassing. "Aliquid, Petre, alliquid; 'de profundis'—si
habes nihil aliud," said Father Philemy, feeling for his
embarrassment, and giving him a hint. This was not lost, for Peter began,
and gave them the De profundis—a Latin psalm, which Roman
Catholics repeat for the relief of the souls in, purgatory. They forgot,
however, that there was a person in company who considered himself as
having an equal claim to the repetition of at least the one-half of it;
and accordingly, when Peter got up and repeated the first verse, Andy
Lalor got also on his legs, and repeated the response.* This staggered
Peter a little, who hesitated, as uncertain how to act.
* This prayer is generally repeated by two persons, who
recite each a verse alternately.
"Perge, Petre, perge," said Father Philemy, looking rather
wistfully at his egg—"perge, stultus est et asinus quoque."
Peter and Andy proceeded until it was finished, when they resumed their
The conversation during breakfast was as sprightly, as full of fun and
humor as such breakfasts usually are. The priest, Phaddhy, and the young
collegian, had a topic of their own, whilst the rest were engaged in a
kind of by play, until the meal was finished.
"Father Philemy," said Phaddhy, in his capacity of host, "before we begin
we'll all take a dhrop of what's in the bottle, if it's not displasing to
yer Reverence; and, sure, I know, 'tis the same that doesn't come wrong at
a station, any how."
This, more majorum, was complied with; and the glass, as usual,
went round the table, beginning with their Reverences. Hitherto, Father
Philemy had not had time to bestow any attention on the state of Kitty's
larder, as he was in the habit of doing, with a view to ascertain the
several items contained therein for dinner. But as soon as the
breakfast-things were removed, and the coast clear, he took a peep into
the pantry, and, after throwing his eye over its contents, sat down at the
fire, making Phaddhy take a seat beside him, for the especial purpose of
sounding him as to the practicability of effecting a certain design, which
was then snugly latent in his Reverence's fancy. The fact was, that on
taking the survey of the premises aforesaid, he discovered that, although
there was abundance of fowl, and fish, and bacon, and hung-beef—yet,
by some unaccountable and disastrous omission, there was neither fresh
mutton nor fresh beef. The priest, it must be confessed, was a man of
considerable fortitude, but this was a blow for which he was scarcely
prepared, particularly as a boiled leg of mutton was one of his fifteen
favorite joints at dinner. He accordingly took two or three pinches of
snuff in rapid succession, and a seat at the fire, as I have said, placing
Phaddhy, unconscious of his design, immediately beside him.
Now, the reader knows that Phaddhy was a man possessing a considerable
portion of dry, sarcastic humor, along with that natural, quickness of
penetration and shrewdness for which most of the Irish peasantry are in a
very peculiar degree remarkable; add to this that Father Philemy, in
consequence of his contemptuous bearing to him before he came in for his
brother's property, stood not very high in his estimation. The priest knew
this, and consequently felt that the point in question would require to be
managed, on his part, with suitable address.
"Phaddhy," says his Reverence, "sit down here till we chat a little,
before I commence the duties of the day. I'm happy to, see that you have
such a fine thriving family: how many sons and daughters have you?"
"Six sons, yer Reverence," replied. Phaddhy, "and five daughters: indeed,
sir, they're as well to be seen as their neighbors, considhering all
things. Poor crathurs, they get fair play* now, thank Grod, compared to
what they used to get—God rest their poor uncle's sowl for that!
Only for him, your Reverence, there would be very few inquiring this or
any other day about them."
* By this is meant good food and clothing.
"Did he die as rich as they said, Phaddhy?" inquired his Reverence.
"Hut, sir," replied Phaddhy, determined to take what he afterwards called
a rise out of the priest; "they knew little about it—as rich as they
said, sir! no, but three times as rich, itself: but, any how, he was the
man that could make the money."
"I'm very happy to hear it, Phaddhy, on, your account, and that of your
children. God be good to him—requiescat animus ejus in pace, per
omnia secula seculorum, Amen!—he liked a drop in his time,
Phaddhy, as well as ourselves, eh?"
"Amen, amen—the heavens be his bed!—he-did, poor man! but he
had it at first cost, your Reverence, for he run it all himself in the
mountains: he could afford to take it."
"Yes, Phaddhy, the heavens be his bed, I pray; no Christmas or Easter ever
passed but he was sure to send me the little keg of stuff that never saw
water; but, Phaddhy, there's one thing that concerns me about him, in
regard of his love of drink—I'm afraid it's a throuble to him where
he is at present; and I was sorry to find that, although he died full of
money, he didn't think it worth his while to leave even the price of a
mass to be said for the benefit of his own soul."
"Why, sure you know, Father Philemy, that he wasn't what they call a
dhrinking man: once a quarther, or so, he sartinly did take a jorum; and
except at these times, he was very sober. But God look upon us, yer
Reverence—or upon myself, anyway; for if he's to suffer for his
doings that way, I'm afeard we'll have a troublesome reck'ning of it."
"Hem, a-hem!—Phaddhy," replied the priest, "he has raised you and
your children from poverty, at all events, and you ought to consider that.
If there is anything in your power to contribute to the relief of his
soul, you havs a strong duty upon you to do it; and a number of masses,
offered up devoutly, would—"
"Why, he did, sir, raise both myself and my childre from poverty," said
Phaddhy, not willing to let that point go farther—"that I'll always
own to; and I hope in God that whatever little trouble might be upon him
for the dhrop of dhrink, will be wiped off by this kindness to us."
"He hadn't even a Month's mind!"*
* A Mouth's Mind is the repetition of one or more
masses, at the expiration of a month after death, for
the repose of a departed soul. There are generally more
than the usual number of priests on such occasions:
each of whom receives a sum of money, varying according
to the wealth of the survivors—sometimes five
shillings, and sometimes five guineas.
"And it's not but I spoke to him about both, yer Eeverence."
"And what did he say, Phaddy?"
"'Phaddy,' said he, 'I have been giving Father M'Guirk, one way or
another, between whiskey, oats, and dues, a great deal of money every
year; and now, afther I'm dead,' says he, 'isn't it an ungrateful thing of
him not to offer up one mass for my sowl, except I leave him payment for
"Did he say that, Phaddhy?"
"I'm giving you his very words, yer Reverence."
"Phaddhy, I deny it; it's a big lie—he could not make much use of
such words, and he going to face death. I say you could not listen to
them; the hair would stand on your head if he did; but God forgive him—that's
the worst I wish him. Didn't the hair stand on your head, Phaddhy, to hear
"Why, then, to tell yer Reverence God's truth, I can't say it did."
"You can't say it did! and if I was in your coat, I would be ashamed to
say it did not. I was always troubled about the way the fellow died, but I
hadn't the slightest notion: that he went off such a reprobate. I fought
his battle and yours hard enough yesterday; but I knew less about him than
I do now."
"And what, wid submission, did you fight our battles about, yer
Reverence?" inquired Phaddhy.
"Yesterday evening, in Parrah More Slevin's, they had him a miser, and
yourself they set down as very little better."
"Then I don't think I desarved that from Parrah More, anyhow, Father
Philemy; I think I can show myself as dacent as Parrah More or any of his
"It was not Parrah More himself, nor his family, that said anything about
you, Phaddhy," said the priest, "but others that were present. You must
know that we were all to be starved here to-day."
"Oh! ho!" exclaimed Phaddhy, who was hit most palpably upon the weakest
side—the very sorest spot about him, "they think bekase this is the
first station that ever was held in my house, that you won't be thrated as
you ought; but they'll be disappointed; and I hope, for so far, that yer
Reverence and yer friends had no rason to complain."
"Not in the least, Phaddhy, considering that it was a first station; and
if the dinner goes as well off as the breakfast, they'll be biting their
nails: but I should not wish myself that they would have it in their power
to sneer or throw any slur over you about it.—Go along, Dolan,"
exclaimed his Reverence to a countryman who came in from the street, where
those stood who were for confession, to see if he had gone to his room—"Go
along, you vagrant, don't you see I'm not gone to the tribunal yet?—But
it's no matter about that, Phaddhy, it's of other things you ought to
think: when were you at your duty?"
"This morning, sir," replied the other—"but I'd have them to
understand, that had the presumption to use my name in any such manner,
that I know when and where to be dacent with any mother's son of Parrah
More's faction; and that I'll be afther whispering to them some of these
fine mornings, plase goodness."
"Well, well, Phaddhy, don't put yourself in a passion about it,
particularly so soon after having been at confession—it's not right—I
told them myself, that we'd have a leg of mutton and a bottle of wine at
all events for it was what they had; but that's not worth talking about—when
were you with the priest before Phaddhy?"
"If I wasn't able, it would be another thing, but as long as I'm able,
I'll let them know that I've the spirit"—said Phaddhy, smarting
under the implication of niggardliness—"when was I at confession
before, Father Philemy? Why, then, dear forgive me, not these five years;—and
I'd surely be the first of the family that would show a mane spirit, or a
want of hospitality."
"A leg of mutton is a good dish, and a bottle of wine is fit for the first
man in the land!" observed his Reverence; "five years!—why, is it
possible you stayed away so long, Phaddhy! how could you expect to prosper
with five years' burden of sin upon your conscience—what would it
"Indeed, myselfs no judge, your Reverence, as to that; but, cost what it
will, I'll get both."
"I say, Phaddhy, what trouble would it cost you to come to your duty twice
a year at the very least; and, indeed, I would advise you to become a
monthly communicant. Parrah More was speaking of it as to himself, and you
ought to go—"
"And I will go and bring Parrah More here to his dinner, this very day, if
it was only to let him see with his own eyes—"
"You ought to go once a month, if it was only to set an example to your
children, and to show the neighbors how a man of substance and
respectability, and the head of a family, ought to carry himself."
"Where is the best wine got, your Reverence?"
"Alick M'Loughlin, my nephew, I believe, keeps the best wine and spirits
in Ballyslantha.—You ought also, Phaddy, to get a scapular, and
become a scapularian; I wish your brother had thought of that, and he
wouldn't have died in so hardened a state, nor neglected to make a
provision for the benefit of his soul, as he did."
"Lave the rest to me, yer Reverence, I'll get it; Mr. M'Loughlin will give
me the right sort, if he has it betune him and death."
"M'Laughlin! what are you talking about?"
"Why, what is your Reverence talking about?"
"The scapular," said the priest.
"But I mane the wine and the mutton," says Phaddhy.
"And is that the way you treat me, you reprobate you?" replied his
Reverence in a passion: "is that the kind of attention you're paying me,
and I, advising you, all this time, for the good of your soul? Phaddhy, I
tell you, you're enough to vex me to the core—five years!—only
once at confession in five years! What do I care about your mutton and
your wine!—you may get dozens of them if you wish; or, may be, it
would be more like a Christian to never mind getting them, and let the
neighbors laugh away. It would teach you humility, you hardened creature,
and God knows you want it; for my part, I'm speaking to you about other
things; but that's the way with the most of you—mention any
spiritual subject that concerns your soul, and you turn a deaf ear to it—here,
Dolan, come in to your duty. In the meantime, you may as well tell Katty
not to boil the mutton too much; it's on your knees you ought to be at
your rosary, or the seven penitential psalms, any way."
"Thrue for you, sir," says Phaddhy; "but as to going wanst a month, I'm
afeard, your Rev'rence, if it would shorten my timper as it does Katty's,
that we'd be bad company for one another; she comes home from confession,
newly set, like a razor, every bit as sharp; and I'm sure that I'm within
the truth when I say there's no bearing her."
"That's because you've no relish for anything spiritual yourself, you
nager you," replied his Reverence, "or you wouldn't see her temper in that
light—but, now that I think of it, where did you get that stuff we
had at breakfast?"
"Ay, that's the sacret; but I knew your Rev'rence would like it; did
Parrah More aiquil it? No, nor one of his faction couldn't lay his finger
on such a dhrop."
"I wish you could get me a few gallons of it," said the priest; "but let
us drop that; I say, Phaddhy, you're too worldly and too careless about
"Well, Father Philemy, there's a good time coming; I'll mend yet."
"You want it, Phaddhy."
"Would three gallons do, sir?"
"I would rather you would make it five, Phaddhy; but go to your rosary."
"It's the penitential psalms, first, sir," said Phaddhy, "and the rosary
at night. I'll try, anyhow; and if I can make off five for you, I will."
"Thank you, Phaddhy; but I would recommend you to say the rosary before
"I believe yer Reverence is right," replied Phaddhy, looking somewhat
slyly in the priest's face; "I think it's best to make sure of it now, in
regard that in the evening, your Reverence—do you persave?"
"Yes," said his Reverence, "you're in a better frame of mind at present,
Phaddhy, being fresh from confession."
So saying, his Reverence—for whom Phaddhy, with all his shrewdness
in general, was not a match—went into his room, that he might send
home about four dozen of honest, good-humored, thoughtless, jovial,
swearing, drinking, fighting Hibernians, free from every possible stain of
sin and wickedness!
"Are you all ready now?" said the priest to a crowd of country people who
were standing about the kitchen door, pressing to get the "first turn" at
the tribunal, which on this occasion consisted of a good oaken chair, with
his Reverence upon it.
"Why do you crush forward in that manner, you ill-bred spalpeens? Can't
you stand back, and behave yourselves like common Christians?—back
with you! or, if you make me get my whip, I'll soon clear you from about
the dacent man's door. Hagarty, why do you crush them two girls there, you
great Turk, you? Look at the vagabonds! Where's my whip," said he, running
in, and coming out in a fury, when he commenced cutting about him, until
they dispersed in all directions. He then returned into the house; and,
after calling in about two dozen, began to catechize them as follows,
still holding the whip in his hand, whilst many of those individuals, who
at a party quarrel or faction fight, in fair or market, were incapable of
the slightest terror, now stood trembling before him, absolutely pale and
breathless with fear.
"Come, Kelly," said he to one of them, "are you fully prepared for the two
blessed sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, that you are about to
receive? Can you read, sir?"
"Can I read, is id?—my brother Barney can, yor Rev'rence," replied
Kelly, sensible, amid all the disadvantages around him, of the degradation
of his ignorance.
"What's that to me, sir?" said the priest, "what your brother Barney can
do—can you not read yourself?"
"I can not, your Reverence," said Kelly, in a tone of regret.
"I hope you have your Christian Doctrine, at all events," said the priest.
"Go on with the Confiteor."
Kelly went on—"Confeetur Dimnipotenmti batchy Mary semplar virginy,
batchy Mickletoe Archy Angelo, batchy Johnny Bartisty, sanctris postlis—Petrum
hit Paulum omnium sanctris, et tabby pasture, quay a pixavit minus coglety
ashy hony verbum et offer him smaxy quilia smaxy quilta—sniaxy maxin
* Let not our readers suppose that the above version in
the mouth of a totally illiterate peasant is
overcharged; for we have the advantage of remembering
how we ourselves used to hear it pronounced in our
early days. We will back the version in the text
against Edward Irving's new language—for any money.—
"Very well, Kelly, right enough, all except the pronouncing, which
wouldn't pass muster in Maynooth, however. How many kinds of commandments
"What are they?"
"God's and the Church's."
"Repeat God's share of them."
He then repeated the first commandment according to his catechism.
"Very good, Kelly, very good. Well now, repeat the commandments of the
"First—Sundays and holidays, Mass thou shalt sartinly hear;
"Second—All holidays sanctificate throughout all the whole year.
"Third—Lent, Ember days, and Virgins, thou shalt be sartain to fast;
"Fourth—Fridays and Saturdays flesh thou shalt not, good, bad or
"Fifth—In Lent and Advent, nuptial fastes gallantly forbear.
"Sixth—Confess your sins, at laste once dacently and soberly every
"Seventh—Resave your God at confission about great Easter-day;
"Eighth—And to his Church and his own frolicsome clargy neglect not
tides (tithes) to pay."
"Well," said his Eeverence, "now, to great point is, do you understand
"Wid the help of God, I hope so, your Rev'rence; and I have also the three
"Theojollyological vartues; the four sins that cry to heaven for
vingeance; the five carnal vartues—prudence, justice, timptation,
and solitude; (* Temperance and fortitude) the seven deadly sins; the
eight grey attitudes—"
"Grey attitudes! Oh, the Boeotian!" exclaimed his Eeverence, "listen to
the way in which he's playing havoc among them. Stop, sir," for Kelly was
going on at full speed—"Stop, sir. I tell you it's not gray
attitudes, but bay attitudes—doesn't every one know the eight
"The eight bay attitudes; the nine ways of being guilty of another's sins;
the ten commandments; the twelve fruits of a Christian; the fourteen
stations of the cross; the fifteen mystheries of the passion—"
"Kelly," said his Eeverence, interrupting him, and heralding, the joke,
for so it was intended, with a hearty chuckle, "you're getting fast out of
your teens, ma bouchal?" and this was of course, honored with a merry
peal; extorted as much by an effort of softening the rigor of examination,
as by the traditionary duty which entails upon the Irish laity the
necessity of laughing at a priest's jokes, without any reference at all to
their quality. Nor was his Reverence's own voice the first to subside into
that gravity which became the solemnity of the occasion; or even whilst he
continued the interrogatories, his eye was laughing at the conceit with
which it was evident the inner man was not competent to grapple. "Well,
Kelly, I can't say but you've answered very well, as far as the repealing
of them goes; but do you perfectly understand all the commandments of the
"I do, sir," replied Kelly, whose confidence kept pace with his
"Well, what is meant by the fifth?"
"The fifth, sir?" said the other, rather confounded—"I must begin
agin, sir, and go on till I come to it."
"Well," said the priest, "never mind that; but tell us what the eighth
Kelly stared at him a second time, but was not able to advance "First—Sundays
and holidays, mass thou shalt hear;" but before he had proceeded to the
second, a person who stood at his elbow began to whisper to him the proper
reply, and in the act of so doing received a lash of the whip across the
ear for his pains.
"You blackguard, you!" exclaimed Father Philemy, "take that—how dare
you attempt to prompt any person that I'm examining?"
Those who stood around Kelly now fell back to a safe distance, and all was
silence, terror, and trepidation once more.
"Come, Kelly, go on—the eighth?"
Kelly was still silent.
"Why, you ninny you, didn't you repeat it just now. 'Eighth—And to
his church neglect not tithes to pay.' Now that I have put the words in
your mouth, what does it mean?"
Kelly having thus got the cue, replied, in the words of the Catechism, "To
pay tides to the lawful pasterns of the church, sir."
"Pasterns!—oh, you ass you! Pasterns! you poor; base,
contemptible, crawling reptile, as if we trampled you under our hooves—oh,
you scruff of the earth! Stop, I say—it's pastors."
"Pastures of the church."
"And, tell me, do you fulfil that commandment?"
"I do, sir."
"It's a lie, sir," replied the priest, brandishing the whip over his head,
whilst Kelly instinctively threw up his guard to protect himself from the
blow. "It's a lie, sir," repeated his Eeverence; "you don't fulfil it.
What is the church?"
"The church is the congregation of the faithful that purfiss the true
faith, and are obadient to the Pope."
"And who do you pay tithes to?"
"To the parson, sir."
"And, you poor varmint you, is he obadient to the Pope?"
Kelly only smiled at the want of comprehension which prevented him from
seeing the thing according to the view which his Reverence took of it.
"Well, now," continued Father Philemy, "who are the lawful pastors of
"You are, sir: and all our own priests."
"And who ought you to pay your tithes to?"
"To you, sir, in coorse; sure I always knew that, your Rev'rence."
"And what's the reason, then, you don't pay them to me, instead of the
This was a puzzler to Kelly, who only knew his own side of the question.
"You have me there, sir," he replied, with a grin.
"Because," said his Reverence, "the Protestants, for the present, have,
the law of the land on their side, and power over you to compel the
payment of tithes to themselves; but we have right, justice, and the law
of God on ours; and, if every thing was in its proper place, it is not to
the parsons, but to us, that you would pay them."
"Well, well, sir," replied Kelly, who now experienced a community of
feeling upon the subject with his Reverence, that instantly threw him into
a familiarity of manner which he thought the point between them justified—"who
knows, sir?" said he with a knowing smile, "there's a good time coming,
"Ay," said Father Philemy, "wait till we get once into the Big* House, and
if we don't turn the scales—if the Established Church doesn't go
down, why, it won't be our fault. Now, Kelly, all's right but the money—have
you brought your dues?"
* Parliament. This was written before the passing of
the Emancipation Bill.
"Here it is, sir," said Kelly, handing him his dues for the last year.
It is to be observed here, that, according as the penitents went to be
examined, or to kneel down to confess, a certain sum was exacted from
each, which varied according to the arrears that might have been due to
the priest. Indeed, it is not unusual for the host and hostess, on these
occasions, to be refused a participation in the sacrament, until they pay
this money, notwithstanding the considerable expense they are put to in
entertaining not only the clergy, but a certain number of their own
friends and relations.
"Well, stand aside, I'll hear you first; and now, come up here, you young
gentleman, that laughed so heartily a while ago at my joke—ha, ha,
ha!—come up here, child."
A lad now approached him, whose face, on a first view, had something
simple and thoughtless in it, but in which, on a closer inspection, might
be traced a lurking, sarcastic humor, of which his Reverence never dreamt.
"You're for confession, of course?" said the priest.
"Of coorse," said the lad, echoing him, and laying a stress upon
the word, which did not much elevate the meaning of the compliance in
general with the rite in question.
"Oh!" exclaimed the priest, recognizing him when he approached—"you
are Dan Fagan's son, and designed for the church yourself; you are a good
Latinist, for I remember examining you in Erasmus about two years ago—Quomodo
sehabet corpus tuum, charum lignum sacredotis"
"Valde, Domine," replied the lad, "Quomodo se habet anima tua,
charum exemplar sacerdotage, et fulcrum robustissium Ecclesiae sacrosancte?"
"Very good, Harry," replied his Reverence, laughing—"stand aside;
I'll hear you after Kelly."
He then called up a man with a long melancholy face, which he noticed
before to have been proof against his joke, and after making two or three
additional and fruitless experiments upon his gravity, he commenced a
cross fire of peevish interrogatories, which would have excluded him from
the "tribunal" on that occasion, were it not that the man was remarkably
well prepared, and answered the priest's questions very pertinently.
This over, he repaired to his room, where the work of absolution
commenced; and, as there was a considerable number to be rendered sinless
before the hour of dinner, he contrived to unsin them with an alacrity
that was really surprising.
Immediately after the conversation already detailed between his Reverence
and Phaddhy, the latter sought Katty, that he might communicate to her the
unlucky oversight which they had committed, in neglecting to provide fresh
meat and wine. "We'll be disgraced forever," said Phaddhy, "without either
a bit of mutton or a bottle of wine for the gintlemen, and that big thief
Parrah More Slevin had both."
"And I hope," replied Katty, "that you're not so mane as to let any of
that faction outdo you in dacency, the nagerly set? It was enough for them
to bate us in the law-shoot about the horse, and not to have the laugh
agin at us about this."
"Well, that same law-shoot is not over with them yet," said Phaddhy; "wait
till the spring fair comes, and if I don't have a faction gathered that'll
sweep them out of the town, why my name's not Phaddhy! But where is Matt
till we sind him off?"
"Arrah, Phaddhy," said Katty, "wasn't it friendly of Father Philemy to
give us the hard word about the wine and mutton?"
"Very friendly," retorted Phaddhy, who, after all, appeared to have
suspected the priest—"very friendly, indeed, when it's to put a good
joint before himself, and a bottle of wine in his jacket. No, no, Katty!
it's not altogether for the sake of Father Philemy, but I wouldn't have
the neighbors say that I was near and undacent; and above all tilings, I
wouldn't be worse nor the Slevins—for the same set would keep it up
agin us long enough."
Our readers will admire the tact with which Father Philemy worked upon the
rival feeling between the factions; but, independently of this, there is a
generous hospitality in an Irish peasant which would urge him to any
stratagem, were it even the disposal of his only cow, sooner than incur
the imputation of a narrow, or, as he himself terms it, "undacent" or
In the course of a short time, Phaddhy dispatched two messengers, one for
the wine, and another for the mutton; and, that they might not have cause
for any unnecessary delay, he gave them the two reverend gentlemen's
horses, ordering them to spare neither whip nor spur until they returned.
This was an agreeable command to the messengers, who, as soon as they
found themselves mounted, made a bet of a "trate," to be paid on arriving
in the town to which they were sent, to him who should first reach a
little stream that crossed the road at the entrance of it, called the
"Pound burn." But I must not forget to state, that they not only were
mounted on the priest's horses, but took their great-coats, as the day had
changed, and threatened to rain. Accordingly, on getting out upon the main
road, they set off, whip and spur, at full speed, jostling one another,
and cutting each other's horses as if they had been intoxicated; and the
fact is, that, owing to the liberal distribution of the bottle that
morning, they were not far from it.
"Bliss us!" exclaimed the country people, as they passed, "what on airth
can be the matther with Father Philemy and Father Con, that they're
abusing wan another at sich a rate!"
"Oh!" exclaimed another, "it's apt to be a sick call, and they're thrying,
maybe, to be there before the body grows cowld."
"Ay, it may be," a third conjectured, "it's to old Magennis, that's on the
point of death, and going to lave all his money behind him."
But their astonishment was not a whit lessened, when, in about an hour
afterwards, they perceived them both return; the person who represented
Father Con having an overgrown leg of mutton slung behind his back like an
Irish harp, reckless of its friction against his Reverence's coat, which
it had completely saturated with grease; and the duplicate of Father
Philemy with a sack over his shoulder, in the bottom of which was half a
dozen of Mr. M'Laughlin's best port.
Phaddhy, in the meantime, being determined to mortify his rival Parrah
More by a superior display of hospitality, waited upon that parsonage, and
exacted a promise from him to come down and partake of the dinner—a
promise which the other was not slack in fulfilling. Phaddhy's heart was
now on the point of taking its rest, when it occurred to him that there
yet remained one circumstance in which he might utterly eclipse his rival,
and that was to ask Captain Wilson, his landlord, to meet their Reverences
at dinner. He accordingly went over to him, for he only lived a few fields
distant, having first communicated the thing privately to Katty, and
requested that, as their Reverences that day held a station in his house,
and would dine there, he would have the kindness to dine along with them.
To this the Captain, who was intimate with both the clergymen, gave a
ready compliance, and Phaddhy returned home in high spirits.
In the meantime, the two priests were busy in the work of absolution; the
hour of three had arrived, and they had many to shrive; but, in the course
of a short time, a reverend auxiliary made his appearance, accompanied by
one of Father Philemy's nephews, who was then about to enter Maynooth.
This clerical gentleman had been appointed to a parish; but, owing to some
circumstances which were known only in the distant part of the diocese
where he had resided, he was deprived of it, and had, at the period I am
writing of, no appointment in the church, though he was in full orders. If
I mistake not, he incurred his bishop's displeasure by being too warm an
advocate for Domestic Nomination,* a piece of discipline, the
re-establishment of which was then attempted by the junior clergymen of
the diocese wherein the scene of this station is laid. Be this as it may,
he came in time to assist the gentlemen in absolving those penitents (as
we must call them so) who still remained unconfessed.
* Domestic Nomination was the right claimed by a
portion of the Irish clergy to appoint their own
bishops, independently of the Pope.
During all this time Katty was in the plenitude of her authority, and her
sense of importance manifested itself in a manner that was by no means
softened by having been that morning at her duty. Her tones were not so
shrill, nor so loud as they would have been, had not their Reverences been
within hearing; but what was wanting in loudness, was displayed in a firm
and decided energy, that vented, itself frequently in the course of the
day upon the backs and heads of her sons, daughters, and servants, as they
crossed her path in the impatience and bustle of her employment. It was
truly ludicrous to see her, on encountering one of them in these fretful
moments, give him a drive head-foremost against the wall, exclaiming, as
she shook her fist at him, "Ho, you may bless your stars, that they're
under the roof, or it wouldn't go so asy wid you; for if goodness hasn't
said it, you'll make me lose my sowl this blessed and holy day: but this
is still the case—the very time I go to my duty, the devil (between
us and harm) is sure to throw fifty temptations acrass me, and to help
him, you must come in my way—but wait till tomorrow, and if I, don't
pay you for this, I'm not here."
That a station is an expensive ordinance to the peasant who is honored by
having one held in his house, no one who knows the characteristic
hospitality of the Irish people can doubt. I have reason, however, to know
that, within the last few years, stations in every sense have been very
much improved, where they have not been abolished altogether. The priests
now are not permitted to dine in the houses of their parishioners, by
which a heavy tax has been removed from the people.
About four o'clock the penitents were at length all despatched; and those
who were to be detained for dinner, many of whom had not eaten anything
until then, in consequence of the necessity of receiving the Eucharist
fasting, were taken aside to taste some of Phaddhy's poteen. At length the
hour of dinner arrived, and along with it the redoubtable Parra More
Slevin, Captain Wilson, and another nephew of Father Philemy's, who had
come to know what detained his brother who had conducted the auxiliary
priest to Phaddhy's. It is surprising on these occasions, to think how
many uncles, nephews, and cousins, to the forty-Second degree, find it
needful to follow their Reverences on messages of various kinds; and it is
equally surprising to observe with what exactness they drop in during the
hour of dinner. Of course, any blood-relation or friend of the priests
must be received with cordiality; and consequently they do not return
without solid proofs of the good-natured hospitality of poor Paddy, who
feels no greater pleasure than in showing his "dacency" to any one
belonging to his Reverence.
I dare say it would be difficult to find a more motley and diversified
company than sat down to the ungarnished fare which Katty laid before
them. There were first Fathers Philemy, Con, and the Auxiliary from the
far part of the diocese; next followed Captain Wilson, Peter Malone, and
Father Philemy's two nephews; after these came Phaddhy himself, Parrah
More Slevin, with about two dozen more of the most remarkable and uncouth
personages that could sit down to table. There were besides about a dozen
of females, most of whom by this time, owing to Katty's private kindness,
were in a placid state of feeling. Father Philemy ex officio,
filled the chair—he was a small man with cherub cheeks as red as
roses, black twinkling eyes, and double chin; was of the fat-headed genus,
and, if phrenologists be correct, must have given indications of early
piety, for he was bald before his time, and had the organ of veneration
standing visible on his crown; his hair from having once been black, had
become an iron gray, and hung down behind his ears, resting on the collar
of his coat according to the old school, to which, I must remark, he
belonged, having been educated on the Continent. His coat had large double
breasts, the lappels of which hung down loosely on each side, being the
prototype of his waistcoat, whose double breasts fell downwards in the
same manner—his black small-clothes had silver buckles at the knees,
and the gaiters, which did not reach up so far, discovered a pair of white
lamb's-wool stockings, somewhat retreating from their original color.
Father Con was a tall, muscular, able-bodied young man, with an immensely
broad pair of shoulders, of which he was vain; his black hair was cropped
close, except a thin portion of it which was trimmed quite evenly across
his eyebrows; he was rather bow-limbed, and when walking looked upwards,
holding out his elbows from his body, and letting the lower parts of his
arms fall down, so that he went as if he carried a keg under each; his
coat, though not well made, was of the best glossy broadcloth—and
his long clerical boots went up about his knees like a dragoon's; there
was an awkward stiffness about him, in very good keeping with a dark
melancholy cast of countenance, in which, however, a man might discover an
air of simplicity not to be found in the visage of his superior Father
The latter gentleman filled the chair, as I said, and carved the goose; on
his right sat Captain Wilson; on his left, the auxiliary—next to
them Father Con, the nephews, Peter Malone, et cetera. To enumerate
the items of the dinner is unnecessary, as our readers have a pretty
accurate notion of them from what we have already said. We can only
observe, that when Phaddhy saw it laid, and all the wheels of the system
fairly set agoing, he looked at Parrah More with an air of triumph which
he could not conceal. It is also unnecessary for us to give the
conversation in full; nor, indeed, would we attempt giving any portion of
it, except for the purpose of showing the spirit in which a religious
ceremony such as it is, is too frequently closed.
The talk in the beginning was altogether confined to the clergymen and Mr.
Wilson, including a few diffident contributions from "Peter Malone" and
the "two nephews."
"Mr. M'Guirk," observed Captain Wilson, after the conversation had taken
several turns, "I'm sure that in the course of your professional duties,
sir, you must have had occasion to make many observations upon human
nature, from the circumstance of seeing it in every condition and state of
feeling possible; from the baptism of the infant, until the aged man
receives the last rites of your church, and the soothing consolation of
religion from your hand."
"Not a doubt of it, Phaddhy," said Father Philemy to Phaddhy, whom he had
been addressing at the time, "not a doubt of it; and I'll do everything in
my power to get him in* too, and I am told he is bright."
* That is—into Maynooth college—the great object of
ambition to the son of an Irish peasant or rather to
"Uncle," said one of the nephews, "this gentleman is speaking to you."
"And why not?" continued his Eeverence, who was so closely engaged with
Phaddhy, that he did not even hear the nephew's appeal—"a bishop—and
why not? Has he not as good a chance of being a bishop as any of them?
though, God knows, it is not always merit that gets a bishopric in any
church, or I myself might—But let that pass." said he, fixing his
eyes on the bottle. "Father Philemy," said Father Con, "Captain Wilson was
addressing himself to you in a most especial manner."
"Oh! Captain, I beg ten thousand pardons, I was engaged talking with
Phaddhy here about his son, who is a young shaving of our cloth, sir, he
is intended for the Mission*—Phaddhy, I will either examine him
myself, or make Father Con examine him by-and-by.—Well, Captain?"
The Captain now repeated what he had said.
* The Church of Rome existing in any heretical country—
that is, where she herself is not the State church—is
considered a missionary establishment; and taking
orders in her is termed "Going upon the Mission." Even
Ireland is looked upon as in partibus infidelium,
because Protestantism is established by law—hence the
"Very true, Captain, and we do see it in as many shapes as ever—Con,
what do you call him?—put on him."
"Proteus," subjoined Con, who was famous at the classics.
Father Philemy nodded for the assistance, and continued—"but as for
human nature, Captain, give it to me at a good rousing christening; or
what is better again, at a jovial wedding between two of my own
parishioners—say this pretty fair-haired daughter of Phaddhy Shemus
Phaddhy's here, and long Ned Slevin, Parrah More's son there—eh
Phaddhy, will it be a match?—what do you say, Parrah More? Upon my
veracity I must bring that about."
"Why, then, yer Reverence," replied Phaddhy, who was now a little
softened, and forgot his enmity against Parrah More for the present,
"unlikelier things might happen."
"It won't be my fault," said Parrah More, "if my son Ned has no
"He object!" replied Father Philemy, "if' I take it in hands, let me see
who'll dare to object; doesn't the Scripture say it? and sure we can't go
against the Scripture."
"By the by," said Captain Wilson, who was a dry humorist, "I am happy to
be able to infer from what you say, Father Philemy, that you are not, as
the clergymen of your church are supposed to be, inimical to the Bible."
"Me an enemy to the Bible! no such thing, sir; but, Captain, begging your
pardon we will have nothing more about the bible; you see we are met here,
as friends and good fellows, to enjoy ourselves after the severity of our
spiritual duties, and we must relax a little; we can't always carry long
faces like Methodist parsons—come, Pairah More, let the Bible take a
nap, and give us a song."
His Reverence was now seconded in his motion by the most of all present,
and Parrah More accordingly gave them a song. After a few songs more, the
conversation went on as before.
"Now, Parrah More," said Phaddhy, "you must try my wine; I hope it's as
good as what you gave his Reverence yesterday." The words, however, had
scarcely passed his lips, when Father Philemy burst out into a fit of
laughter, clapping and rubbing his hands in a manner the most
irresistible. "Oh, Phaddhy, Phaddhy!" shouted his Reverence, laughing
heartily, "I done you for once—I done you, my man, cute as you
thought yourself: why, you nager you, did you think to put us off with
punch, and you have a stocking of hard guineas hid in a hole in the wall?"
"What does yer Rev'rence mane," said Phaddhy; "for myself can make no
understanding out of it, at all at all?"
To this his Reverence only replied by another laugh.
"I gave his Reverence no wine," said Parrah More, in reply to Phaddhy's
"What!" said Phaddhy, "none yesterday, at the station held with you?"
"Not a bit of me ever thought of it."
"Nor no mutton?"
"Why, then, devil a morsel of mutton, Phaddhy; but we had a rib of beef."
Phaddhy now looked over to his Reverence rather sheepishly, with the smile
of a man on his face who felt himself foiled. "Well, yer Reverence has
done me, sure enough," he replied, rubbing his head—"I give it up to
you, Father Philemy; but any how, I'm glad I got it, and you're all
welcome from the core of my heart. I'm only sorry I haven't as much more
now to thrate you all like gintlemen; but there's some yet, and as much
punch as will make all our heads come round."
Our readers must assist us with their own imaginations, and suppose the
conversation to have passed very pleasantly, and the night, as well as the
guests, to be somewhat far gone. The principal part of the conversation
was borne by the three clergymen, Captain Wilson, and Phaddy; that of the
two nephews and Peter Malone ran in an under current of its own; and in
the preceding part of the night, those who occupied the bottom of the
table, spoke to each other rather in whispers, being too much restrained
by that rustic bashfulness which ties up the tongues of those who feel
that their consequence is overlooked among their superiors. According as
the punch circulated, however, their diffidence began to wear off; and
occasionally an odd laugh or so might be heard to break the monotony of
their silence. The youngsters, too, though at first almost in a state of
terror, soon commenced plucking each other; and a titter, or a suppressed
burst of laughter, would break forth from one of the more waggish, who was
put to a severe task in afterwards composing his countenance into
sufficient gravity to escape detection, and a competent portion of
chastisement the next day, for not being able to "behave himself with
During these juvenile breaches of decorum, Katty would raise her arm in a
threatening attitude, shake her head at them, and look up at the clergy,
intimating more by her earnestness of gesticulation than met the ear.
Several songs again went round, of which, truth to tell, Father Philomy's
were by far the best; for he possessed a rich, comic expression of eye,
which, added to suitable ludicrousness of gesture, and a good voice,
rendered him highly amusing to the company. Father Con declined singing,
as being decidedly serious, though he was often solicited.
"He!" said Father Philemy, "he has no more voice than a woolpack; but
Con's a cunning fellow. What do you think, Captain Wilson, but he pretends
to be too pious to sing, and gets credit for piety,—not because he
is devout, but because he has a bad voice; now, Con, you can't deny it,
for there's not a man in the three kingdoms knows it better than myself;
you sit there with a face upon you that might go before the Lamentations
of Jeremiah the Prophet, when you ought to be as jovial as another."
"Well, Father Philemy," said Phaddhy, "as he won't sing, may be, wid
submission he'd examine Briney in his Latin, till his mother and I hear
how's he doing at it."
"Ay, he's fond of dabbling at Latin, so he may try him—I'm sure I
have no objection—: so, Captain, as I was telling you—"
"Silence there below!" said Phaddhy to those at the lower end of the
table, who were now talkative enough; "will yez whisht there till Father
Con hears Briney a lesson in his Latin. Where are you, Briney? come here,
But Briney had absconded when he saw that the tug of war was about to
commence. In a few minutes, however, the father returned, pushing the boy
before him, who in his reluctance to encounter the ordeal of examination,
clung to every chair, table, and person in his way, hoping that his
restiveness might induce them to postpone the examination till another
occasion. The father, however, was inexorable, and by main force dragged
him from all his holds, and, placed him before Father Con.
"What's come over you, at all at all, you unsignified shingawn you, to
affront the gintleman in this way, and he kind enough to go for to give
you an examination?—come now, you had betther not vex me, I tell
you, but hould up your head, and spake out loud, that we can all hear you:
now, Father Con, achora, you'll not be too hard upon him in the beginning,
till he gets into it, for he's aisy dashed."
"Here, Briney," said Father Philemy, handing him his tumbler, "take a pull
of this and if you have any courage at all in you it will raise it;—take
a good pull." Briney hesitated.
"Why, but you take the glass out of his Reverence's hand, sarrah," said
the father—"what! is it without dhrinking his Reverence's health
Briney gave a most melancholy nod at his Reverence, as he put the tumbler
to his mouth, which he nearly emptied, notwithstanding his shyness.
"For my part," said his Reverence, looking at the almost empty tumbler, "I
am pretty sure that that same chap will be able to take care of himself
through life. And so, Captain,—" said he, resuming the conversation
with Captain Wilson—for his notice of Briney was only parenthetical.
Father Con now took the book, which was AEsop's Fables, and, in accordance
with Briney's intention, it opened exactly at the favorite fable of Gallus
Gallinacexis. He was not aware, however, that Briney had kept that place
open during the preceding part of the week, in order to effect this point.
Father Philemy, however, was now beginning to relate another anecdote to
the Captain, and the thread of his narrative twined rather ludicrously
with that of the examination.
Briney, after, a few hems, at length proceeded—"Gallus
Gallinaceus, a dung-hill cock—"
"So, Captain, I was just after coming out of Widow Moylan's—it was
in the Lammas fair—and a large one, by the by, it was—so, sir,
who should come up to me but Branagan. 'Well, Branagan,' said I, 'how does
the world go now with you?'——"
"Gallus Gallinaceus, a dunghill cock——"
——"Says he. 'And how is that?' says I.
——-"Says he, 'Hut tut, Branagan,' says I—'you're drunk.'
'That's the thing, sir' says Branagan, 'and I want to explain it all to
your Reverence.' 'Well,' said I, 'go on—-"
"Gallus Gallinaceus, a dunghill cock——"
——"Says he,——Let your Gallus Gallinaceus go to
roost for this night, Con," said Father Philemy, who did not relish the
interruption of his story; "I say, Phaddhy, send the boy to bed, and bring
him down in your hand to my house on Saturday morning, and we will both
examine him, but this is no time for it, and me engaged in conversation
with Captain Wilson.—So, Captain ____'Well, sir,' says Branagan, and
he staggering,—'I took an oath against liquor, and I want your
Reverence to break it,' says he. 'What do you mean?' I inquired. 'Why,
please your Reverence,' said he, 'I took an oath against liquor, as I told
you, not to drink more nor a pint of whiskey in one day, and I want your
Reverence to break it for me, and make it only half a pint; for I find
that a pint is too much for me; by the same token, that when I get that
far, your Reverence, I disremember the oath entirely."
The influence of the bottle now began to be felt, and the conversation
absolutely blew a gale, wherein hearty laughter, good strong singing, loud
argument, and general good humor blended into one uproarious peal of
hilarity, accompanied by some smart flashes of wit and humor which would
not disgrace a prouder banquet. Phaddhy, in particular, melted into a
spirit of the most unbounded benevolence—a spirit that would (if by
any possible means he could effect it) embrace the whole human race; that
is to say, he would raise them, man, woman, and child, to the same
elevated state of happiness which he enjoyed himself. That, indeed, was
happiness in perfection, as pure and unadulterated as the poteen which
created it. How could he be otherwise than happy?—he had succeeded
to a good property, and a stocking of hard guineas, without the hard labor
of acquiring them; he had the "clargy" under his roof at last, partaking
of a hospitality which he felt himself well able to afford them; he had
settled with his Reverence for five years' arrears of sin, all of which
had been wiped out of his conscience by the blessed absolving hand of the
priest; he was training up Briney for the Mission, and though last, not
least, he was—far gone in his seventh tumbler!
"Come, jinteels," said he, "spare nothing here—there's lashings of
every thing; thrate yourselves dacent, and don't be saying tomorrow or
next day, that ever my father's son was nagerly. Death alive, Father Con,
what are you doin'? Why, then, bad manners to me if that'll sarve, any
"Phaddhy," replied Father Con, "I assure you I have done my duty."
"Very well, Father Con, granting all that, it's no sin to repate a good
turn you know. Not a word I'll hear, yer Reverence—one tumbler along
with myself, if it was only for ould times." He then filled Father Con's
tumbler with his own hand, in a truly liberal spirit. "Arrah, Father Con,
do you remember the day we had the leapin'-match, and the bout at the
"Indeed, I'll not forget it, Phaddhy."
"And it's yourself that may say that; but I bleeve I rubbed the consate
off of your Reverence—only that's betune ourselves, you persave."
"You did win the palm, Phaddhy, I'll not deny it; but you are the only man
that ever bet me at either of the athletics.'
"And I'll say this for yer Reverence, that you are one of the best and
most able-bodied gintlemen I ever engaged with. Ah! Father Con, I'm past
all that now—but no matter, here's yer Reverence's health, and a
shake. hands; Father Philomy, yer health, docthor: yer strange Reverence's
health—Captain Wilson, not forgetting you, sir: Mr. Pettier, yours;
and I hope to see you soon with the robes upon you, and to be able to
prache us a good sarmon. Parrah More—wus dha lauv (* give me
yer hand), you steeple you; and I haven't the smallest taste of objection
to what Father Philemy hinted at—yell obsarve. Kitty, you thief of
the world, where are you? Your health, avourneen; come here, and give us
your fist, Katty: bad manners to me if I could forget you afther all;—the
best crathur, your Reverence, under the sun, except when yer Reverence
puts yer comedher on her at confession, and then she's a little,
sharp or so, not a doubt of it: but no matther, Katty ahagur, you do it
all for the best. And Father Philemy, maybe it's myself didn't put the
thrick upon you in the Maragy More, about Katty's death—ha, ha, ha!
Jack M'Craner, yer health—all yer healths, and yer welcome here, if
you war seven times as many. Briney, where are you, ma bouchal? Come up
and shake hands wid yer father, as well as another—come up, acushla,
and kiss me. Ah, Briney, my poor fellow, ye'll never be the cut of a man
yer father was; but no matther, avourneen, ye'll be a betther man, I hope;
and God knows you may asy be that, for Father Philemy, I'm not what I
ought to be, yer Reverence; however, I may mend, and will, maybe, before a
month of Sundays goes over me: but, for all that, Briney, I hope to see
the day when you'll be sitting an ordained priest at my own table; if I
once saw that, I could die contented—so mind yer larning, acushla,
and, his Reverence here will back you, and make inthorest to get you into
the college. Musha, God pity them crathurs at the door—aren't they
gone yet? Listen to them coughin', for fraid we'd forget them: and throth
and they won't be forgot this bout any how—Katty, avourneen, give
them every one, big and little, young and ould, their skinful—don't
lave a wrinkle in them; and see, take one of them bottles—the
crathurs, they're starved sitting there all night in the cowld—and
give them a couple of glasses a-piece—it's good, yer Reverence, to
have the poor body's blessing at all times; and now, as I was saying,
Here's all yer healths! and from the very veins of my heart yer welcome
Our readers may perceive that Phaddhy
"Was not only blest, but glorious,
O'er a' the ills o' life victorious;"
for, like the generality of our peasantry, the native drew to the
surface of his character those warm, hospitable, and benevolent virtues,
which a purer system of morals and education would most certainly keep in
full action, without running the risk, as in the present instance, of
mixing bad habits with frank, manly, and generous qualities.
"I'll not go, Con—I tell you I'll not go till I sing another song.
Phaddhy, you're a prince—but where's the use of lighting more
candles now, man, than you had in the beginning of the night? Is Captain
Wilson gone? Then, peace be with him; it's a pity he wasn't on the right
side, for he's not the worst of them. Phaddhy, where are you?"
"Why, yer Reverence," replied Katty, "he's got a little unwell, and jist
laid down his head a bit."
"Katty," said Father Con, "you had better get a couple of the men to
accompany Father Philemy home; for though the night's clear, he doesn't
see his way very well in the dark—poor man, his eye-sight's failing
"Then, the more's the pity, Father Con. Here, Denis, let yourself and Mat
go home wid Father Philemy."
"Good-night, Katty," said Father Con—"Good-night: and may our
blessing sanctify you all."
"Good-night, Father Con, ahagur," replied Katty; "and for goodness' sake
see that they take care of Father Philemy, for it's himself that's the
blessed and holy crathur, and the pleasant gintleman out and out."
"Good-night, Katty," again repeated Father Con, as the cavalcade proceeded
in a body—"Good-night!" And so ended the Station.