Imatges de pàgina

the patient and meek-minded man. And here we shall quote a passage which strikes at the root of the worst of Ireland's galling miseries.

« On rising from his bed of sickness, the prospect before him required his utmost fortitude to bear. He was now wasted in energy both of mind and body, reduced to utter poverty, with a large family of children, too young to assist him, without means of retrieving his circumstances, his wife and himself gaunt skeletons, his farm ne. glected, his house wrecked, and his offices falling to ruin, yet every day bringing the half-year's term nearer! Oh, ye who riot on the miseries of such men-ye who roll round the easy circle of fashionable life, think upon this picture! Ye vile and heartless landlords, who see not, hear not, know not those to whose heart-breaking toil ye owe the only merit ye possess that of rank in society—come and contemplate this virtuous man, as unfriended, unassisted, and uncheered by those who are bound by a strong moral duty to protect and aid him, he looks shuddering into the dark cheerless future! Is it to be wondered at that he, and such as he, should, in the misery of his despair, join the nightly meetings, be lured to associate himself with the incendiary, or seduced to grasp, in the stupid apathy of wretchedness, the weapon of the murderer? By neglecting the people, by draining them, with merciless rapacity of the means of life; by goading them on under a cruel system of rack rents, ye become not their natural benefactors, but curses and scourges, nearly as much in reality as ye are in their opinion.

“ When Owen rose, he was driven by hunger, direct and immediate, to sell his best cow; and having purchased some oat meal at an enormous price, from a well known devotee in the parish, who hoarded up his commodity for a dear summer,' he laid his plans for the future, with as much judgment as any man could display. One morning after breakfast he addressed the wife as follows:

“Kathleen, mavourneen, I want to consult wid you about what we ought to do; things are low wid us, asthore, and except our Heavenly Father puts it into the heart of them I'm goin' to mention, I don't know what we'll do, nor what 'ill become of these poor crathurs that's naked and hungry about us. God pity them, they don't know_and maybe that same's some comfort--the hardships that's before them. Poor crathurs, see how quiet and sorrowful they sit about their little play, passin' the time for themselves as well as they can! Alley, acushla machree, come over to me. Your hair is bright and fair, Alley, and curls so purtily that the finest lady in the land might envy it, but acushla, your colour's gone, your little hands are wasted away, too ; that sickness was sore upon you, a colleen machree, and he that 'ud spend his heart's blood for you darlin', can do nothing to help you!'

“ He looked at the child as he spoke, and'a slight motion in the muscles of his face was barely perceptible, but it passed away; and, after kissing her, he proceeded :

“Ay, ye crathurs—you and I, Kathleen, could earn our bread for ourselves yet, but these can't do it. This last stroke, darlin', has laid us at the door of both poverty and sickness, but blessed be the Mother of Heaven for it, they are all left wid us; and sure that's a blessin' we've to be thankful for-glory be to God!'

Ay, poor things, it's well to have them spared, Owen dear; sure I'd rather a thousand times beg from door to door, and have my childher to look at, than be in comfort widout them.''

To go forth and beg is the only resource, averse as it is the honest pride of the descendant of Macarthy More. Led by the wild hope of reaching the Head Landlord, and of making their distress known to him, and moving his compassion or his sense of justice, Owen makes a long journey. On his return to his family from this bootless errand, he finds his favourite child dead, and his wife and little ones driven to the shelter of a kind neighbour's barn. His farm was not yet taken, for that the threats of the thoughtless combinations who execute “ wild justice” in Ireland, prevented; though Owen had no part in their proceedings.

“We did not,” says the author, “write this story for effect. Our object was to relate facts that occurred. In Ireland there is much blame justly attached to landlords for their neglect and severity, in such depressed times, towards their tenants. There is also much that is not only indefensible but atrocions on the part of the tenants. But can the landed proprietors of Ireland plead ignorance or want of education for their neglect and rapacity, whilst the crimes of the tenants, on the contrary, may in general be ascribed to both! He who lives, as perhaps his forefathers have done, upon any man's property, and fails, from unavoidable calamity, has as just and clear a right to assistance from the landlord, as if the amount of that aid were a bonded debt. Common policy, common sense, and common justice, should induce the Irish landlords to lower their rents according to the market for agricultural produce, otherwise poverty, famine, crime, and vague political speculations, founded upon idle hopes of a general transfer of property, will spread over and convulse the kingdom. Any man who looks into our poverty, may see that our landlords ought to reduce their rents to a standard suitable to the times, and to the ability of the tenant.'

We cannot forbear copying the scene which precedes the departure of this virtuous family on the mendicant wanderings, of late years so frequent in Ireland even among decent people.

« One Saturday night he and the family found themselves without food ; they had not tasted a morsel for twenty-four hours. There were murmurinys and tears, and finally, a low conversation among them, as if they held a conference upon some sub. ject which filled them with both grief and satisfaction. In this alternation of feeling did they pass the time until the sharp gnawing of hunger was relieved by sleep. A keen December wind blew with a bitter blast on the following morning; the rain was borne along upon it with violence, and the cold was chill and piercing. Owen, his wife, and their six children, issued at day-break out of the barn in which, ever since their removal from Tubber Derg, they had lived until then ; their miserable fragments of bed clothes were tied in a bundle to keep them dry; their pace was slow, need we say sorrowful; all were in tears. Owen and Kathleen went first, with a child upon the back, and another in the hand, of each. Their route lay by their former dwelling, the door of which was open, for it had not been inhabited. On passing it they stood a moment; then with a simultaneous impulse both approached -entered—and took one last look of a spot to which their hearts clung with enduring attachment. They then returned ; and as they passed, Owen put forth his hand, picked a few small pebbles out of the wall, and put them in his pocket.

« Farewell !' said he, and may the blessin' of God rest upon you! We now lave you for ever! We're goin' at last to beg our bread through the world wide, where none will know of the happy days we passed widin your walls! We must lare you; but glory be to the Almighty, we are goin' wid a clear conscience; we took no revenge into our own hands, but left everything to God above us. We are poor, but there is neither blood, nor murder, nor dishonesty upon our heads. Don't cry, Kathleen-don't cry, childher; there is still a good God above, who can and may do something for us yet, glory be to his name.'

“ He then passed on with his family, which, including himself, made, in all, eight paupers, being an additional burden upon the country, which might easily have been avoided. His land was about two years waste, and when it was ultimately taken, the house was a ruin, and the money allowed by the landlord for building a new one, together with the loss of two years' rent, would, if humanely directed, have ena bled Owen M'Carthy to remain a solvent tenant.'"

The writer, like every man who is possessed of feeling as well as thought, is friendly to poor laws for Ireland. Indignation must mingle strongly in every British heart, with the pity inspired by perusing the subjoined remarks :

« Indeed it is astonishing how any man can, for a moment, hesitate to form his opinion upon the subject of poor laws. The English and Scotch gentry know something about the middle and lower classes of their respective countries, and, of course, they have a fixed system of provision for the poor in each. The ignorance of the Irish gentry, upon almost every subject connected with the real good of the people, is only in keeping with the ignorance of the people themselves. It is to be feared, however, that their disinclination to introduce poor laws arises less from actual ignorance, than from an illiberal selfishness. The facts of the case are these :- In Ireland the whole support of the inconceivable multitude of paupers, who swarm like locusts over the surface of the country, rests upon the middle and lower classes, or rather opon the latter, for there is scarcely such a thing in this unhappy country as a middle class. In not one out of a thousand instances do the gentry contribute to the mendicant poor. In the first place, a vast proportion of our landlords are absentees, who squander upon their own pleasures or vices, in the theatres, saloons, or gaming-houses of France, or in the softer profligacies of Italy, that which ought to return in some shape to stand in the place of duties so shamefully neglected. These persons contribute nothing to the poor, except the various evils which their absence entails upon them.

« On the other hand, the resident gentry never, in any case, assist a beggar, even in the remote parts of the country, where there are no Mendicity Institutions. Nor do the beggars ever think of applying to them. They know that his Honour's dogs would be slipped at them; or that the whip might be laid, perhaps, to the shoulders of a broken-hearted father, with his brood of helpless children wanting food ; perhaps, upon the emaciated person of a miserable widow, who begs for her orphans, only because the hands that supported, and would have defended, both her and them, are mouldered into dnst." But this is speculation ; what follows is reality :

Any person conversant with the Irish people must frequently have heard such dialogues as the following, during the application of a beggar for alms ;

Mendicant-'We're axin your charity, for God's sake!'

« Poor Tenant-'Whethen for His sake you would get it, poor crathur, if we had it; but it's not for you widin the four corners of the house. It ’ud be well for us if we had now all we gave away in charity durin' the whole year; we wouldn't have to be buyin' for ourselves at three prices. Why don't you go up to the Big House ? They're rich an'can afford it.'

Mendicant, with a shrug, which sets all his coats and bags in motion-- Och! och! The Big House, inagh! Musha, do you want me, an' the childhre here, to be torn to pieces wid the dogs ? or lashed wid a whip by one o' the sarwints ? No, no, avourneen! (with a hopeless shake of the head.) That 'ud be a blue look-up, like a clear evenin.'

Poor Tenant—' Then, indeed, we haven't it to help you now, poor man. We're buyin' ourselves.'

Mendicant- Thin, throth, that's lucky, so it is ! I've as purty a grain o' male here, as you'd wish to thicken wather wid, that I sthruv to get together, in hopes to be able to buy a quarther o' tobaccy, along wid a pair o' new bades and a scapular for myself. I'm suspicious that there's about a stone ov it altogether. You can have it anundher the market price, for I'm frettin' at not havin' the scapular an me. Sure the Lord will sind me an' the childhre a hit an' sup some way else-glory to his name !-besides a lock o' praties in the corner o' the bag here, that'll do us for this day, any way.'

“ The bargain is immediately struck, and the poor tenant is glad to purchase, even from a beggar, his stone of meal, in consequence of getting it a few pence under market price. Such scenes as this, which are of frequent occurrence in the country parts of Ireland, need no comment.

“ This, certainly, is not a state of things which should be permitted to exist. Every man ought to be compelled to support the poor of his native parish according to his means. It is an indelible disgrace to the legislature so long to have neglected the paupers of Ireland. Is it to be thought of with common patience, that a person rolling in wealth shall feed upon his turtle, his venison, and his costly luxuries of every description, for which he will not scruple to pay the highest price that this heartless and selfish man, whether he reside at home or abroad, shall thus unconscionably pamper himself with viands purchased by the toil of the people, and yet not contribute to their miseries, when poverty, sickness, or age, throws them upon the scanty support of casual charity ?

“ Shall this man be permitted to batten in luxury in a foreign land, or, at home, to whip our paupers from his carriage, or hunt them, like beasts of prey, from his grounds, whilst the lower classes, the gradually decaying poor-are compelled to groan under the burden of their support in addition to their other burdens ? Surely it is pot a question which admits of argument. This subject has been darkened and made difficult by fine-spun and unintelligible theories, when the only knowledge necessary to understand it may be gained by spending a few weeks in some poor village in the interior of the country. As for Parliamentary Committees upon this or any other subject, they are, with reverence be it spoken, thoroughly contemptible. They will summon and examine witnesses who, for the most part, know little about the habits or distresses of the poor; public money will be wasted in defraying their expenses and in printing reports; resolutions will be passed ; something will be said about it in the House of Commons; and, in a few weeks, after resolving and re-resolving, it is as little thought of, as if it had never been the subject of investiga. tion."

('opious as our extracts have been, we cannot forbear the pathetic scene of the first alms-asking. It is, we think, touchingly tender and beautiful, and overflows with the milky generosity of the native character of the Irish. This conversation takes place on the highway :

«6 « Kathleen, asthore,' said Owen, "I can't bid you not to cry; bear up, acushla machree; bear up : sure, as I said when we came out this mornin', there's a good God above us, that can still turn over the good lafe for us, if we put our hopes in him.'

“Owen,' said his sinking wife,' it's not altogether bekase we're brought to this, that I'm cryin. No indeed.'

«« Thin what ails you, Kathleen darlin ?'

“ The wife hesitated, and evaded the question for some time; but at length upon his pressing her for an answer, with a fresh gush of sorrow, she replied,

“6 Owen, since you must know-och, may God pity us!-since you must know, its wid hunger—wid hunger! I kept, unknownst, a little bit of bread to give the childre this mornin', an' that was part of it I gave you yesterday early-I'm near two days fastin.'

Kathleen! Kathleen! Och! sure I know your worth, avillish. You were too good a wife, an' too good a mother, amost! God forgive me, Kathleen! I fretted about beggin', dear ; but as my heavenly Father's above me, I'm now happier to beg wid you by my side, nor if I war in the best house in the province widout you; Hould up, avourneen, for a while. Come on, childhre, darlins, an, the first house we meet we'll ax their char- their assistance. Come on, darlins, all of yees. Why my heart's asier, so it is. Sure we have your mother, childhre, safe wid us, an' what signifies any thing so long as she's left to us.'

“ He then raised his wife tenderly, for she had been compelled to sit from weak. ness, and they bent their steps to a decent farm-house, that stood a few perches off the road, about a quarter of a mile before them.

“ As they approached the door, the husband hesitated a moment ; his face got paler than usual, and his lip quivered, as he said -- Kathleen-'

“I know what you're goin' to say, Owen. No, acushla, you won't; r'll ax it inyself.'

« Do,' said Owen, with difficulty; 'I can't do it; but I'll overcome my pride afore long, I hope. It's thryin' to me, Kathleen, an' you know it is for you know how little I ever expected to be brought to this.'

“ Husht, avillish! We'll thry, then, in the name o' God.'

“ As she spoke, the children, herself, and her husband, entered, to beg for the first time in their lives a morsel of food. Yes! timidly-with a blush of shame, red even to crimson, upon the pallid features of Kathleen—with grief acute and piercing - they entered the house together.

“ For some minutes they stood and spoke not. The unhappy woman, unaccus. tomed to the language of supplication, scarcely knew in what terms to crave assistance. Owen, himself, stood back, uncovered, his fine but much changed features overcast with an expression of deep affliction. Kathleen cast a single glance at him as if for eneouragement. Their eyes met; she saw the upright man—the last remnant of the M‘Carthy-himself once the friend of the poor, of the unhappy, of the afflicted—standing crushed and broken down by misfortunes which he had not deserved, waiting with patience for a morsel of charity. Owen, too, had his remembrances. He recollected the days when he sought and gained the pure and fond af. fections of his Kathleen ; when beauty, and youth, and innocence encircled her with their light and their grace, as she spoke or moved; he saw her a happy wife and mother in her own home, kind and benevolent to all who required her good word or her good office; and now she was homeless. He remembered, too, how she used to plead with himself for the afflicted. It was but a moment; yet when their eyes met, that moment was crowded by remembrances that flashed across their minds with a keen sense of a lot so bitter and wretched as theirs. Kathleen could not speak, al. though she tried; her sobs denied her utterance : and Owen involuntarily sat upon a chair, and covered his face with his hand.

“ To an observing eye it is never difficult to detect the cant of imposture, or to perceive distress when it is real. The good woman of the house, as is (isual in IreLand, was in the act of approaching them, unsolicited, with a double handful of meal —that is what the Scotch and northern Irish call a gowpen—or as much as both hands locked together can contain—when noticing their distress, she pansed a mo. ment, eyed them more closely, and exclaimed

"What's this? Why there's something wrong wid you, good people! But first

an' foremost take this, in the name an' honour of God.'

« « May the blessin' of the same Manrest upon yees !” replied Kathleen. This is a sorrowful thrial to us ; for its our first day to be upon the world ; an' this is the first help of the kind we ever axed for, or ever got; an' indeed now I find we haven't even a place to carry it in. I've no--b-b-cloth, or any thing to hould it.'

««Your first, is it?' said the good woman. «Your first ! May the marciful queen o'heaven look down upon yees, but it's a bitther day yees war driven out on! Sit down, there, you poor crathur. God pity you, I pray this day, for you have a heartbroken look! Sit down awhile, near the fire, you an' the childhre! Come over, darlins, an' warm yourselves! Och, oh! but it's the thousand pities to see sich fine childhre_handsome an' good lookin', even as they are, brought to this ! Come over, good man ; get near the fire, for you're wet an could all of yees. Brian, ludher them two lazy thieves o' dogs out o' that. Eiree suas, a wadhee bradagh, agus go mah a shin !-be off wid yees, ye lazy divils, that's not worth you feedin.' Come over, honest man.'

“ Owen an his family were placed near the fire; the poor man's heart was full, and he sighed heavily. 66 May he that it plased to thry us,' he exclaimed, reward you for this!

We are,' he continued, a poor an' a sufferin’ family; but it's the will of God that we should be so, an' sure we can't complain widout committin' sin. All we ax now is, that it may be plasin' to him that brought us low, to enable us to bear up undher our thrials. We would take it to our choice to beg an' be honest, sooner nor to be wealthy an' wicked ! We have our failins an' our sins, God help us ; but still there's nothin' dark or heavy on our consciences. Glory be to the name o' God for it!'

«• Throth, I believe you,' replied the farmer's wife ; there's thruth an' honesty in your face ; one may easily see the remains of dacency about yees all. Musha, throw your little things aside, an' stay where yees are to-day: you can't bring out the childhre undher the teem of rain an' sleet that's in it. Wurrah dheelish, but it's the bitther day all out! Faix, Paddy will get a dhrookin, so he will, at that weary fair wid the stirks, poor bouchal a son of ours that's gone to Ballyboulteen to sell some cattle, an' he'll not be worth three hapuns afore he comes back.'"

It would be a more pleasing task to follow the gradual rise of this poor family, and their subsequent happy restoration to Tubber Derg.

But on that we cannot venture. Wildgoose Lodge is a tale of horror, not the less revolting that it is based in facts. It is not composed in the tender, easy, or humorous vein, in which this writer is generally so successful ; and in the melo-dramatic scenes of the chapel, violates everything like probability. We notice the Poor Scholar, one of the longest and best of the stories, merely to introduce the following exquisite exemplification of Paddy's powers of blarneying and doing his betters. The Poor Scholar, far from home and friends, is, by the inhumanity of his pedagogue, turned out of doors, while suffering under typhus fever. He is found in a ditch by a few mowers, who usually made their dining parlour in the same convenient place.

Their horror of fever, the dreadful scourge of the country, strong as it is, cannot overcome their compassion. The first impulse was to draw back, when the lad explained the nature of his illness; but then,

« « Thundher an' turf, what's to be done ?' exclaimed one of them, thrusting his spread fingers into his hair. “ Is the poor boy to die widout help among Chris. tyeens like uz?'

“ • But hasn't he the sick ness? exclaimed another : 'an' in that case, Pether, what's to be done ?'

“ Why, you gommoch, isn't that what I'm wantin' to know? You wor ever an always a dam'ass, Paddy, except before you wor born, an' thin you wor like Major

. God is sometimes thus termed in Jreland. By “ Man” here is meant person or being. He is also called the “ Man above;" although this must be intended for, and often is applied, to Christ only,

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