« PreviousContinue »
is joined by the second; they never halt or check their speed an instant. With diminished ranks, thinned by those thirty guns, which the Russians had laid with the most deadly accuracy, with a halo of flashing steel above their heads, and with a cheer which was many a noble fellow's death cry, they flew into the smoke of the batteries, but ere they were lost from view, the plain was strewed with their bodies and with the carcasses of horses. They were exposed to an oblique fire from the batteries on the hills on both sides, as well as to a direct fire of musketry. Through the clouds of smoke we could see their sabers flashing as they rode up to the guns and dashed between them, cutting down the gunners as they stood.
We saw them riding through the guns, as I have said; to our delight we saw them returning, after breaking through a column of Russian infantry, and scattering them like chaff, when the flank fire of the battery on the hill swept them down, scattered and broken as they were. Wounded men and dismounted troopers flying towards us told the sad tale-demi-gods could not have done what we had failed to do. At the very moment when they were about to retreat, an enormous mass of lancers was hurled on their flank. Colonel Shewell, of the 8th Hussars, saw the danger, and rode his few men straight at them, cutting his way through with fearful loss. The other regiments turned and engaged in a desperate encounter. With courage too great almost for credence, they were breaking their way through the columns which enveloped them, when there took place an act of atrocity without parallel in the modern warfare of civilized nations.
The Russian gunners, when the storm of cavalry passed, returned to their guns. They saw their own cavalry mingled with the troopers who had just ridden over them, and, to the eternal disgrace of the Russian name, the miscreants poured a murderous volley of grape and canister on the mass of struggling men and horses, mingling friend and foe in one common ruin? It was as much as our heavy cavalry brigade could do to cover the retreat of the miserable remnants of that band of heroes as they returned to the place they had so lately quitted in all the pride of life. At thirty-five minutes past eleven not a British soldier, except the dead and dying, was left in front of these bloody Muscovite guns.
MRS. J. SADLIER.
MARY A. MADDEN was born on the last day of the year 1820 in Cootehill, County Cavan, Ireland.
In August, 1844, a few weeks after her father's death, she emigrated to Canada with a younger brother. In Montreal she made the acquaintance of Mr. James Sadlier, the junior partner of the well-known firm of D. & J. Sadlier & Co., Catholic publishers, and in November, 1846, she became his wife.
James Sadlier was then the manager of the Montreal branch of the business of the firm, and in that city he and his wife continued to reside till May, 1860, when, with their children, they removed to New York. In September, 1869, Mr. James Sadlier died, leaving his widow the care of a large family.
Mrs. Sadlier was one of the most gifted, industrious, and successful writers of the nineteenth century. She was no more than eighteen years of age when she began her long literary career as an occasional contributor to La Belle Assemblée, a London magazine. In Canada she contributed both before and after her marriage to the Literary Garland, issued monthly at Montreal. Between 1847 and 1874 she was connected in one way or another with several prominent Catholic journals, especially the New York Tablet, New York Freeman's Journal, Boston Pilot, and Montreal True Witness.
During this time, and simultaneously with her labors as a Catholic journalist, Mrs. Sadlier wrote and translated from the French numerous works on various subjects.
Her original works, nearly all fiction, form a class peculiar to themselves, having each a special object in view, bearing on the moral and religious well-being of her fellow Irish Catholics.
She was described by one contemporary prelate as "the first Irish Lady in America" and by another as the greatest Irish woman that ever crossed the Atlantic."
The 'Confederate Chieftains' is perhaps her best book. It is a vivid picture of one of the most stirring periods of Irish history. The following are her chief works: Willy Burke' (about 1850); 'Alice Riordan' (about 1852); 'New Lights; or, Life in Galway' (1853) 'The Blakes and Flanagans' (1855); 'The Confederate Chieftains (1859); 'Confessions of an Apostate' (1859); 'Bessy Conway (1861); 'The Hermit of the Rock' (1863); 'Con O'Regan' (1864); Old House by the Boyne' (1865); Aunt Honor's Keepsake' (1866); 'The Heiress of Kilorgan' (1867); MacCarthy More' (1868); and 'Maureeen Dhu, a Tale of the Claddagh' (1869).
THE MARRIAGE OF FLORENCE MACCARTHY
From MacCarthy More; or, the Fortunes of an Irish Chief in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.'
Lady Ellen was sitting by a window in a musing attitude, but there was an angry flush on her cheek which did not escape her mother's keen scrutiny.
"Aileen!" said she in Irish-in which language they generally spoke to each other-" Aileen, my child, Florence MacCarthy wishes to pay a visit to Muckruss Abbey while here. We shall go this evening. The moon is at her full to-night, and we shall sail over after the evening meal."
"As you will, my lady mother!" said Ellen, carelessly. "Aileen," said her mother, "how is this? Methought it would give you pleasure, this sail on the lake by moonlight -in such good company!" she added, significantly.
"You are ever thoughtful for me, mother," the young lady relied, in a softened voice. "I desire no better company than yours and O'Sullivan More's.
"Aileen! Aileen! beware!" said the countess, solemnly and sadly. "Our last chance is lost if you turn his heart away. He is well affected towards you now, but his mind may change if he find you cold and careless. You are mad, mad, mad, if you do not thankfully accept the deliverance that God hath placed within your reach, for me, for your father, for Clan Carthy-for the Geraldines!" she added, with stern emphasis, as she quitted the room.
After her mother's departure, Ellen sat long in the same
1 The marriage scene related in this extract is historical. To prevent the union of Florence MacCarthy Reagh with the daughter of The MacCarthy More, the political advisers of Queen Elizabeth had exercised their utmost ingenuity. They had reason to fear that Florence MacCarthy was about to cast in his fortune with the cause for which Hugh O'Neill was then in arms; and as this union, by placing Florence at the head of the two great branches of the MacCarthy family, would render him a formidable enemy, they determined to prevent it if they could. The marriage, which was solemnized under the circumstances here detailed, was treated as an act of treason by Elizabeth's Government. Husband and wife, and mother-inlaw, and other members of both families, were arrested immediately on the news of the event becoming known, and Florence MacCarthy spent the remainder of his life in the Tower of London.
attitude; it were hard to define the expression of her face, and so her faithful Una thought as she anxiously observed her. She was evidently debating some point in her own mind, the same angry flush on her cheek, the same cloud lowering on her brow. At length she started from her reverie.
"I will go," she said, "but not on his account. Since he is so easily put off, I will e'en show him that I am otherwise disposed." She smiled as she met Una's anxious eyes, and going up to her, patted her on the head, where she sat at work. "You must use your best skill, little Una, to deck me as becomes MacCarthy's daughter. Bring forth my kirtle of sea-green taffeta. I would look my best to-day-not for love," she added in an undertone, "but for spite."
And she did look her best, when, as evening approached, she appeared before her mother, ready to descend to the hall. The Countess noted with an approving smile the change in her daughter's apparel.
"How passing fair my child is!" she murmured low to herself, as they descended to the banqueting-hall, at the entrance of which they were met by MacCarthy and O'Sullivan, who conducted them to their seats on the dais. The same feeling of admiration was expressed in the eloquent glance of Florence, but the lady, proud and cold, appeared to notice it not.
With music and mirth the moments lightly sped while the meal went on. Never had Eman of the Harps called from the silver strings more joyous strains; the praises of the O'Sullivans and MacCarthys mingled in his song; and the gentles above, and the retainers below, were alike inspired by his minstrelsy. Even the Countess was less grave than usual. Lady Ellen alone refused to smile, and O'Sullivan, with the privilege of an old friend, bantered the fair girl on her maidenly modesty, as he doubtless deemed it.
When the first moonbeams came streaming into the hall through the splayed loopholes the Countess and Florence rose simultaneously, and the Countess whispered to her daughter that it was time to go, if they would have the best of the moonlight. O'Sullivan, who had been pledging
MacFinan across the table, drained his goblet hastily, and declared his willingness to join the party.
"Though I must own, Countess," he pleasantly said, "I were better pleased to go by daylight. It is a lonesome place, that same Irrelagh, now that the monks are gone, and only the dead dwelling in the old abbey."
"No need to go in," replied the lady with a calm smile. "We may even land, and there will be enough of us in the boat to make good company."
Some of the gentlemen looked as though they would fain have joined the party, gathering its destination from O'Sullivan's words, but unasked they might not intrude themselves on such a company, and so they were fain to content themselves with toasting the ladies of Clancarthy in the Spanish wine that sparkled in huge methers on the board, as the retainers did in the less costly usquebaugh provided for their delectation.
Meanwhile our party sailed out into the Lower Lake, the boat guided by a skillful hand through the rocks and shoals at the head of the swift rolling Laune. Some half a dozen sturdy gallowglasses occupied one end of the boat, their battleaxes gleaming in the moonlight-such a guard was, in those stormy times, not alone one of honor, but one of prudence-while the lusty arms of four stalwart kerne impelled the light craft over the waters, now bright in the moonlight, now dark in the shade.
On sped the boat, and silence seemed to have fallen like a spell on the party, enhanced, as it were, by the more than earthly beauty of the scenes through which they glided, and the hushed repose of earth and air. The boatmen began all at once a low, plaintive song, to the measured cadence of which their oars kept time. Occasionally, too, was heard the shrill scream of the heron from the mountains above. These sounds served but to make the general hush of nature deeper still by contrast, and lent, therefore, a new charm to the scene.
Past Rabbit Island the boat glided-past Innisfallen and its ruined abbey, ruined like Muckruss and Aghaboe,1 not as yet by time, but by the ruthless soldiers of Henry
1 Three abbeys, for ages long in ruins, give a more mournful and solemn beauty to the magic scenes of Killarney. These are Aghaboe, on a high hill in the sight of the Lower Lake; Innisfallen, on the island of that name; and Muckruss, or Irrelagh, on the peninsula of Muckruss.