« PreviousContinue »
but no bullet came winged with death. Imagine my state of horrible suspense as I heard the wretch hammering the flint. But suddenly I heard the sharp crack of a rifle in the road; it was followed by a shout, and the noise of conflict. Zwey could sce all that passed, and evidently now feared his victim might escape him. He hurled his rifle from him with an oath, and plunged reckless into the still unabated stream. Whether he expected to leap the torrent and join in the fray, I know not. If he did, he failed. He was not a more skilful swimmer than myself, and, since the main part of the bridge was gone, the solitary piece of masonry by which I clung was the only object which could arrest his progress to destruction. Whatever was his original object, it was evidently now his frantic purpose that I'or both should perish; and, should he approach me, I could not prevent it. I was completely occupied in clinging to my post. I watched him with panting interest; and he did approach! A moment he was by my side! He thought my pole was my chief stay, -caught at and grasped it;—but he was wrong. I relinquished it, and clung closer to the buttress. It was too late for even him to retrieve his error: the torrent bore him away, while I was safe. I shuddered as I saw his vain, but frightful struggles. I saw him upon the brink of the gulph. How dreadful was the yell of rage
which rose even above the roar of the cataract, as he disappeared for ever!
The tumult above me had now subsided, and my calls brought me assistance. By the aid of ropes I was with difficulty rescued from my perilous situation, and the first voice I heard was an assurance of the safety of my loved one. I had anticipated her rescue from the noise above me and the madness of my rival, but I had to hear from the villagers the tale of her abduction. They had taken one of the fellows who carried her off, and killed the other. They learned from their prisoner, who had confessed, that the whispers as to the late occupations of Zwey were not without foundation. Despairing of success in his suit hy fair means, he determined to have recourse to force, and to carry Louise far beyond pursuit. As the price of their assistance to his scheme, he offered his adherence to a band who infested the Italian mountains. With their aid he determined to put his design into execution the day before that appointed for our departure: a rifle ball was to have dispatched his rival, and Louise was to have been severely taught the duties of a bandit's bride amid the recesses of the Abruzzi. The cottage of the Carthusian was daringly entered, he was bound, and his niece was borne off. The cries of the old man, after some time, brought his neighbours to his assistance, and a pursuit was commenced; but it was the breaking of the bridge alone which defeated the attempt of the villains. That cut off their only retreat.
Louise was found in a swoon, into which she had fallen upon witnessing the ill success of my mad leap at the torrent, and had been conveyed home by her uncle. As I in my turn recounted the death of Zwey, which my friends had been too much occupied to observe, the little knot crossed themselves, and looked fearfully towards the scene of his fate. While dogging me, he had doubtless welcomed the storm as a powerful auxiliary. It proved the minister of avenging Heaven.
Reader, would you know more? Then I must tell you that the occurrences of that day are the only theme that can cloud the smile, or hush
the merry repartee, of one whose youthful beauty is cmulated by that of a daughter, just stepping from childhood into girlhood. I pass my summers amid the sunny vineyards of Lausanne, and sometimes try to keep up with my two boys in a ramble among the mountains. But, during the winters, I always take care to be as remote as possible from cataracts and catastrophes in the hospitable heart of old England, or else at the château of my noble father-in-law. Summer, however, always finds me at Lausanne, and, should any of my fair readers feel a passion to sketch Mont Blanc from Morges, or Chillon from the Lake, or to view
“ The deep-blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone," if they will call in La Grande Chaine, I will show them my Louise.
THE POOR SCHOLAR'S LAMENT.
DEATH,-old fellow ! have we, then,
Come at last so near each other?
A quiet friend, a faithful brother.
Gone with cash and health, old fellow !
(Save, now and then, when I got mellow.)
Fine was't thou too, classic learning,
Head, and heart, and temples burning.
Wasting o'er the midnight taper,
I woke, and found my life-a vapour!
For wealth, and health,'and fame-the bubble !
And got a fall, boy, for my trouble !
Not one cheered my strong endeavour;
Come, boy, let's be friends for ever!
“ Curse!" and thou " Amen!"
SKETCHES ON IRISH HIGHWAYS.
THE IRISH JAUNTING CAR.
“A BEAUTIFUL car! Won't yer honour go with Shaun Langly ? Sorra such a horse from Passage to Waterford. Stand out o' the way, ye pack of impostors! Sure it isn't such a garron as that you'd put before his honour ? Look at his shandrumdandy! Whew! it hangs together by nothing at all !--it'll go to pieces the first bit of bad road that comes in its way.”
This was the first specimen of genuine Irish brogue I had heard for more than sixteen years, and I felt an indescribable sensation as it fell upon my ear, while once more standing on my native soil. Our reply to the invitation was,
_“ We don't want a car. "Oh! I ax yer honour's pardon. Then it's for you the Swish car is waitin there all the mornin forenint us at the side o' the bill. Holloa ! Misther Ally's man! Come down, will ye? Here's the English company. Come, step out. Holloo! holloo !"
The truth is, our friend“ hollood" so loudly, that he would have been invaluable on board the steam-boat we had just quitted, as a speaking-trumpet. In answer to his summons, half tumbling, whole galloping down the hill, came the “ Swiss car.”
Many years had passed since I visited my native land; and sooth to say, I had a sort of intuitive dread that my remembrances would lose much of their couleur de rose if brought into actual contact with the realities of Irish life. My poetry and patriotism received a severe shock on perceiving that the inhabitants of Passage had whitewashed the roofs instead of the walls of their cabins; and that the pigs roved from dwelling to dwelling in unrestrained freedom and loquacity. I wonder what Turner would make of the village of Passage in one of his foregrounds ? Would it be possible to idealize it?—that little church upon the hill looks really as if Protestantism was decaying as fast as its adversaries could desire. But then the pigs,--the everlasting pigs, --long-backed, grunting, dirty animals. One would be led to imagine from a peep into Passage that Ireland was a vast pigstye.
“ This will never do," thought I to myself, shutting my eyes upon the ugly village of Ballyhack, on the opposite side of the river-when fairly stowed away in the very pretty and convenient machine sent for us by our friends. “I shall hate the country before I arrive at my journey's end.”
“ Is the sun too much in yer eyes, Ma'am, dear?" exclaimed a kind voice at my elbow, just as the driver was mounting. “ Put up yer numparal, my darlint. Yer bonnet's too small, my lady: which, though an advantage to me, is the contrary to you. It's a beautiful sun, God bless it, for the harvest ;-but I'm doubtin if it's as bright over the wather as it is here. Well, glory he to God, they can't take the bames of the sun from us, any way. There, now you're not so sinsible of the heat! A safe and plisant journey to yez here and hereafther! Take the baste asy, Michael, up the hill. Sure Ireland's bothered entirely wid the hills,-but the roads are as smooth as wax from this to Bannow.” And on we went. How
very, very delightful is a small kindness, garnished by a little bit
of flattery. The church upon the opposite hill became absolutely pictun resque; and so would have been the village, -- but for the pigs; an old lady with thirteen young ones had taken undisputed possession of a Kish of potatoes under shelter of what was called a cottage door, while its kind mistress, intent upon my not being incommoded by the sun-beams, either did not see, or seeing did not heed their ravages. I thought of the happy pigs of Mulinevat, who have the clean straw to lie upon,
while their lords and masters put up with the dirty, who eat that Irish luxury, a maley potato, while their mistresses are content with the damp ones, ---and who go to bed by candlelight, while the family sit in the dark.
The pretty Swiss car conveyed us to a house where the cordial welcome of people I had never before seen, assured me I was not in England. I mean no offence to a nation I esteem-ay, and love-more than any other in the world; but I must say the English have not the art of making strangers feel at their ease. The French have acquired it by study; but an Irishman is born with it,- it is found in the peasant's hut, as well as in nobler dwellings. The moment you set foot on Irish ground you feel“ at home ;'' that domestic epithet is the only one I can find to convey a perfect idea of the freedom and hospitality which prevail there among all classes of society.
When the time came for us to proceed on our journey, it was found that the Swiss car could not take our luggage, so we determined to hire a machine which we heard wonderful strong,” and a horse that “would go to Bannow and back in less than no time.”
Now I am anxious that my experience should warn others against the evils of Irish travelling,--at least in so far as concerns the confiding of life and limb to the tender mercies of “ an outside jaunting car.” Public or private, they are all execrable. Had my English readers ever the good fortune to behold one? If not, let them imagine a long box, elevated upon what are called springs ; this long box forms the centre of the machine, and, to confess the truth, is a convenient place for conveying luggage; at each side of the under part of this box projects a board, which forms the seats, and from these depend narrow, moveable steps, upon which it was intended the feet of the travellers shall rest; the driver's seat is elevated over one end of the box, and is generally composed of crooked bars of iron, while the harness, perfectly independent of oil or blacking, is twisted and patched, and tied so as to leave but little trace of what it originally was, either in formation or quality. Upon one of these atrocities was I seated, my feet hanging down upon the “ step,”- if I leaned back, I bumped my head against the driver's seat; if I sat forward, I must inevitably have fallen upon what our charioteer called “ Bran new powdher pavement," the said powdher pavement consisting of a quantity of red granite broken into lumps the size of a giant's hand, and strewn thickly over the hills and hollows of a most wicked road.
Our party consisted of three. Now, on hese cars you are placed dos-a-dos, and as three could not possibly sit on a side intended for two, I had half the vehicle to myself ; the gentlemen chatting of politics on the back opposite (to invent an Irishism) seat.
“I hope ye'r honour's comfortable ?” inquired the driver, after a terrific jolt, with that familiar, yet respectful manner, which distinguishes a race now almost extinct even in primitive Ireland—the race of old
servants. “I hope your honour's comfortable. I think this a dale pleasanter than them Swish cars, though I did my best to make that easy for you this morning.”
“ Indeed! What did you do to it, Michael ?"
“Faith, then, just put half a hundred of stones in the bottom of it, and plenty of straw over them to keep it steady, which you'd ha? never knowd-only I'm afther telling you—these mighty fly-away cars, them furrin ones, are not asy and steady like these "-(another terrific jolt that would have destroyed the springs of the best made London phaeton.) -Michael looked round at me, and then repeated, “I hope yer honour's comfortable !" It seemed a bitter mockery of comfort, and yet poor Michael did not mean it so. At last we got over the “
* powdher pavement,” and even the gentlemen congratulated themselves on the event. When, lo and behold! we stood at the foot of what I was told was a “ little hill;" the poor horse eyed it with strong symptoms of dislike.
“It's a fine mornin',” said Mike, pulling the horse to a dead stop. “So it is," said I.
“Gintlemin, there's a beautiful view from this hill," persisted our driver," and the sweetest of fresh air—and to walk it up would do ye a dale of good. You might travel long enough in England widout comin' across such a prospict. “ Shall I walk also, Michael ?"
Oh, sorra a step! Sure Nimble (that's the baste's name) will go a dale the better from havin' a lady to carry. Gee up, my man! Cushla machree was every inch of ye. Nimble, my darlint! it's yerself that was the beauty-onct!"
“It is a long time ago, then," replied I, looking with compassion upon the poor, long-boned animal. Indeed
you may say that, lady dear. You see he's kilt entirely with the hard work; and the poor appetite, though that last is lucky, for it's little the man that owns him has to give him to eat.”
“How is that, Michael ? "
“Faith, it's myself can't tell you, my lady, only sorrow has long legs, and his landlord's as hard as the devil's forehead”-(another jolt, I thought the car was broken to atoms.)
“ Michael, what is the matter ?” “Troth, Ma'am, we're done for! I wish I hadn't sent the gintlemin
but wouldn't have a knife, or a piece of ould leather, or a taste o'rope in yer pocket-asy, Nimble-bad luck to ye, will ye stand asy ? " Small blame to the baste to want to get on; there's a black cloud comin' over Knocknaughdowly will soak every tack on our backs in five minutes, and sorra a house nearer than Kilborristhane. Come here do, you little gossoon, run afther thim gintlemin, and call thim back; and harkee! give me that piece of string that's round yer hat. Now run, run for the dear life. Och, faith, we're in for it; this harness ’ill never reach Bannow; an' deed an' deed poor Nimble seems
“ Was he in harness to-day, before ?"
“Not to say far, only three mile. I mean three goin' and three comin."