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turn, and stuck fast in a gap; and sure it's rewarded I ought to have been instead of punished, for sorra a one but myself would ever have got the horses and carriage out of the gap without a scratch or a brack upon them; but there's no justice in the world!”
As if to illustrate the truth of this last sentence, Byrne gave Spanker a smart tap with the whip, which the horse resented immediately, and began to plunge and kick at a most furious rate. How anxiously did I long for the termination of my journey! what visions of well-stuffed pillows and comfortable cushions came upon me. I thought what an exquisite figure we should cut on this broken “shandrumdandy,” horse, coachman, and all, about six o'clock, in the drive at Hyde-park, in the merry month of May. I began to make up my mind that the time of my sojourn in this poor country would be one of extreme discomfort; the road at that particular point afforded no resting-place for hope or sentimentdark and dirty hovels, fields stretching far and away, covered with that yellow pestilence the plants and blossoms of the “ bouclauns” that devour the strength of the earth. Yet, to confess the truth, the county of Wexford, more particularly that portion of it to which I was jour. neying, and which is advantageously known, through more than one channel, to the English public, affords but comparatively few instances of Irish poverty and Irish crime; and the shadows past from me as we came in sight of the venerable castles of Clomines, and of the hospitable and beautiful country-seats which still abound in the neighbourhood. How sweet, yet how sad are the records of the past !-the many years I had spent in dear England were but as a single week-a month-a month at most; every rock, every tree I recognised—every house, every turning of the road ; the changes effected by time and cultivation appeared as nought.
While my heart felt swelling within me, a sad train of thought was broken, by our driver exclaiming to one of my companions6. What did you say,
Sir?” " I was observing," was the reply," what you can know little about, Matty; that it is supposed the lost books of Spenser's · Fairy Queen? are still in Ireland.”
Byrne cast a contemptuous look upon the gentleman, as well as to say “Maybe I don't know indeed!" then with a changed expression of countenance, while with his whip he pointed exultingly to a neat pretty cottage whose white chimneys peered above the trees which clustered round it, he replied
“ There's the man that has them!”
" What!” exclaimed my companions, in natural astonishment, “ do you mean the man who lives in that cottage possesses the lost books of Spenser's Fairy Queen ?»»
“ Faith, I do-mean what I say, the very books. Every book that's printed at all at all, he gets, and the 'Dublin Pinny Magazine ; ' and a mighty fire man he is, own brother's son to Father Goram, with a power o'larnin; and since yer honor's so curos about thim books, shall I step down and say you want a sight of them? he'll lend them to you with all the pleasure in life, I'll go bail.”
At first the gentlemen's blank look of disappointment was exceedingly amusing. Matty's earnestness had misled them; they forgot for a moment that an Irishman pretends to know everything that he is
never at fault; and within that moment, brief as it was, visions of the extreme splendour with which the concluding books of the “ Fairy Queen” would burst upon the reading public in this time of poetic drought, dazzled their imaginations; even the mention of the “Dublin Penny Magazine" hardly reduced them to sober prose. Poor Byrne! he was much annoyed at not being permitted to display his friend's store of information to the “Strange English.”
We had entered upon our last mile; we were in the “ charmed district,” where the benefits arising from resident landlords, and the advantages of education and cleanliness, are too evident to be for a moment questioned. The roads were smooth and level; plantations fringed the highways; the cottages had severally obtained premiums for superior cleanliness and good order from the Agricultural Society; there were neither beggars nor pigs to annoy the wayfarer; and dozens of well-fed, well-clad peasantry grouped at each other's doors, or sung and chatted beneath the shadow of their own trees, and in the perfume of their own flowers. Many who had heard that I was coming pressed forward with tears and kindly greetings: and the opinion was unanimous that I wasn't like the child who had gone away ; but I was wonderfully like some who are even yet unforgotten, whose good deeds, like the essence of the flower, have out-lived Death-who are still spoken of with mingled tears and blessings, as the friends of the poor. The tide of Irish affection was flowing rapidly. In such mood, and under such excitement, would I desire the Irish to be seen by strangers.
Poor Spanker had climbed his last hill, and stood panting at the summit. The sun had sunk behind the old church of Bannow, and steeped the ocean in a flood of golden light. What had once been, and still is called, the Moor, lay beneath our feet, gemmed with neat and tranquil cottages, inhabited by contented and cheerful inmates. In the back-ground rose the mountain of Forth, celebrated in the history of the Irish Rebellion; and somewhat in the shadow of the windmill which crowns the hill stood a tall, picturesque figure, his hands folded, and resting on the top of his staff, and a pretty little sylph-like girl, of about five or six years old, clinging to the skirt of his coat, which was belted round his waist by a leather belt.
“ I'd be mighty grateful to ye, Ma'am, if ye'd walk down this bit of a hill. Ye seem to know right well the ould place, and can't mistake it; and I'll lade the baste down. It's small throuble, I'm thinking, to ye to be done with the jaunting car?" said Matty Byrne.
He was very right: the dwelling where I had passed my early days was in my sight; I felt as if I could have pressed unto my heart erery stone of those old walls, every leaf of those dear trees. The old man, who I now saw was blind, advanced into our path. I thought I remembered the features : I stopped; he paused also, and took off his hat. I knew him then; I remembered him as a true and faithful servant of my family.
“ Is your name Furlong ?”
In an instant the staff dropped from his hands, which he clasped together. Tears burst from his poor sightless eyes.
“ Sure it is,” he replied. “ God bless you for remembering me! If you hadn't known me, I'd never have told you who I was.
I can't see how tall yer grown; but yer voice is higher than it used to be. Oh!
the sound of it rises my spirit up to the memory of the good ould times. God be thanked, I hear it once more! Sure I'm gone stone-blind: but maybe so best; for I can't see the throuble that's come upon some who I thought war above throuble.”
There was so much feeling in this salutation that it was more than I could bear. I was glad to take refuge, and I hope for the last time, on the outside jaunting-car.
He lived in a cottage by the highway leading to the old church, and apologized for the want of neatness in the exterior of his dwelling —" It isn't my own house at all; the neighbours would build me one if I had the bit of land; the gentry's very good, they can't give to all ;-but maybe the great landlord will one day look with pity upon me, and give the bit of ground to blind Furlong as he did to blind Brien," was his unrepining observation.
It was, however, on a subsequent visit that a communication of vast import was made to me. I will finish my sketch by relating to my readers the story of the old man, and the discovery to which it led.
“ What I want most to say to your honour is this,” he observed, “would you be plazed just to take my eldest daughter Nora from me, and bring her up, afther yer own fashion, to be an English woman. My heart isn't very asy about her here—though she's a good girl—and I'd be very glad she was out of the counthry.'
Nora was summoned from an inner room to undergo a personal scrutiny. She came forth with her knitting on her fingers, and her face steeped in blushes. I had seldom seen a creature more lovely; yet her beauty was of that peculiar character which neither painter nor author can describe-resembling a field-violet more nearly than aught else, the charm of which consists partly in its perfume, partly in its colour, but chiefly in the modesty of its aspect and bearing.
My seat was opposite a little window overshadowed by an elder tree. One of the panes was broken, and a portion of dilapidated hat had been thrust into the aperture. As the blind father discoursed upon what the pretty Nora might, could, would, and should do, I perceived the hat move, at first gently, and finally drop to the ground. I suspected that this was occasioned by some one outside who wanted to hear what was going forward within; the slight noise arrested Furlong's attention, and Nora's blushes deepened when he inquired what it was.
“ The cat, father,” she replied, “ is iver after the bits o' birdeens that build in the tree.”
I thought Furlong looked as if he did not quite believe her; and while he expatiated upon the maid's good qualities, and the extraordinary benefits I should derive from confiding in Irish servants, I. kept my eye fixed on the window. The poor fellow was so earnest, so anxious, I should take his daughter, that I hardly knew how to refuse—it is very difficult to say “ No”—and all the while there stood Nora, looking so pretty and graceful that I was fairly at fault, when, just at the moment, the face of a singularly handsome youth peeped into the window, and was instantly withdrawn. The motion, though slighter than before, attracted the father's attention, and again he demanded what occasioned the noise. Nora saw I had noted how matters really were; she clasped her hands and looked earnestly at me, and I was both annoyed and amused by the extreme readiness of her reply
" The mottled hen would never lay an egg but in the thatch, and had just flown up.”
I looked very grave, and Nora saw I was displeased. A few minutes afterwards I left the cottage, but had not gone far before I perceived the very youth, leaning over the parapet of a bridge, industriously employed in picking out fragments of mortar and tufts of the pretty maiden-hair that crept amid the stones, and throwing them into the stream beneath. As I drew nearer he removed his hat, and making an exceedingly awkward bow, while his blushes were as deep almost as the cunning Nora's, he inquired,
" If I wanted a boy in London to look afther the farm—If I did — he'd go to the world's end to sarve me.”
I told him I had not the good fortune to possess a farm, and consequently did not need his services.
“ God bless you, Ma'am, dear! whether or no; but I hope you'r not going to take Norry away from us. She'd never be any use in life to you, -she's not up to the English ways-her father thinks she isbut she is not-she'd never do you any good.”
"I quite agree with you," I replied, somewhat maliciously,“ in thinking her exactly what you say—a girl who will never do any good.”
“Oh, Blessed Virgin!" he exclaimed, his entire countenance expressing astonishment and displeasure, “I never said that of Norry. She that's been the comfort to her mother, the hands and eyes of her whole family --she, that her poor blind father turned against. And for what?-just because she'd a heart with feeling in it. Oh, Ma’am, dear! if ever you war in love yerself—which, in course, you war—think of poor Norry!" This argument was unanswerable; and the young man followed it up with the“ story of his love,” in a strain of eloquence and fervour which proved his sincerity. “I'm as good as her in the way of family,” he continued, "and as to her father talking about her being too young, her mother was younger by seven months when she married. And, haven't I,” — and he stood firmly on the ground, and stretched his long muscular arms upwards as he spoke-“havn't I these four bones to work for her; and if he wants her to travel, why we'll go to America, and never be behoulden to any thing or any one but ourselves. God is good! and the world's wide enough to hould all the people—if they'd accommodate each other; but as to saying Norry would do no good, you mistook me, Ma'am, entirely. She's good and a blessing to every one, only, I think, somehow she wouldn't suit the English, she's too lifey and not used to seriousness.”
Here was a love affair ! The same evening, as I was meditating upon the ouvert opposition of the Irish to the discipline of Malthus, Nora, with streaming eyes, tapped gently at the window of my dressing-room.
“I thought, lady, dear,” she said, after many prefatory hems, “I might as well insense you into the rights of it; for I saw you thought bad o' me, for the bit of a lie I tould about the windy. Well, you see, all my life I've had nothing but throuble ; the darkness came on my father before I was nine years old, and he lost his sweet temper along with the light, and my mother's heart would have been broken with the crossness, only I come between her and it. Well, I used to lead him about all day, and nurse the children all night, with maybe not a shoe to my foot; but the heart was always light within me for all that; and of a sunny Sunday, Harry (that's the boy's name) though he was only a bit of a boy then, used to lend me his shoes that I might
Oct.-VOL. XLII. NO. CLXVI.
go dacent to Mass. And at last,' he says, 'Norry, I had a mind for the sea, but I'll not go—I'll be a shoemaker, as my father was before me, and then you shall never want shoes.' Well, out of that, the kindness grew,
my father knew it, but never said a word against it until lately, when the crossness overcame him entirely; and then he wanted to send me with you, my lady, which I'd have been proud and happy of, only for Harry, my lady. Poor boy--he'd take on with the lowness of spirits—so he would !”
“ Has he any way of supporting you if you were married ?”
Supporting ! Oh, sure two together would'nt eat more than two by themselves : it's the one expense, married or single. Besides, he has a trade,- and if he could get any work
This “if" appeared to me of much importance, and I was foolish enough to think of reasoning with a young girl in love.
“ What are you to do if he were unable to get any ?”
“We could only do as we did before,” replied Nora, rolling up the corner of her apron.
“ But suppose you had a parcel of children ?” “Oh! it would be a long time first.”
But, again, you would be in the midst of trouble.”
Well, sure; it's only what I'm used to." “I think
your wisest plan, Nora, will be to get a situation in some gentleman's family. I will speak to my friends about you. You can save a little money, perhaps,— Harry might do the same,--and I will make your
father promise that then he will not object to your union.” “ God bless you, Ma’am, dear,— it's all very true. You see Harry, was mighty kind to me entirely; he gave me this new handkerchief, and these new ribands; and his father was as hard upon him as my father was upon me. So, as every one turned again us, why we took the more to each other, and got married last week!"
This is the universal finale of Irish love-making ; but I was unprepared for it: it electrified me more than the jolting of the everlasting cars which jingle along their highways. The cunning monkey! No wonder Master Harry should rout the hat out of the window at the idea of his wife's going to England, -and she looking so demure and wellbehaved all the time ;-then she was in such desperate fear about her father's displeasure, and in absolute agony lest “ he should turn her from his door without a blessing.” When I looked upon her exceeding loveliness, and remembered her youth, my heart melted at the knowledge of the probable misery she would have to undergo; but now I hope better things for her: she sailed last week with her handsome husband for America, and her father blest her and forgave them both ere their departure.
I shall hereafter detail a few more incidents in my “My Travels' History."
A. M. H.