Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ON VISITING WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
How shall I sleep the sleep of death ?

Where shall I wait the promised morn,
When I have gasped my latest breath

When I life's final pang have horne ?
Shall I amid the sons of song
Repose, or with the vulgar throng ?
It matters not :-Yon marble cold

Which Shakspeare's earthly semblance wears,
As well the homage can behold,

Or kindle at the envied tears
By living genius duly shed
Above the minstrel's narrow bed ;
As can the slumbering dust below.-

No sculptor's art, no poet's fire,
May consciousness again bestow,-

May rapture's thrill again inspire :
'Tombed in a desert, as serene,
As sweet, as blest, -his sleep had been !
Why then repine, though Fate to me

The fancied privilege deny,
Within this splendid sanctuary

With loftier bards in death to lie?
I cannot tellbut oh! I pant,
To be such mansion's habitant !
Give me the hope,-my soaring soul

Invention's heaven of heavens shall scale :--
Though fraught with woe my years should roll,

Though worn with care, with watchings pale;
Poor, friendless, wretched-Oh! such lot
Were bliss !--I would not be forgot.
I know it vain I feel it dear-

This passion for sepulchral fame :
'Twas God infused the instinct here,

That God who lit the quenchless flame
Which marks me for a child of song-
It may be wild-it is not wrong.
Father of Spirits !-Man to man

Is mystery all,but not to Thee :-
Each hidden fitness Thou canst scan,

All in Thy sight is symmetry :
This bootless craving-weakness, pain
Nought is assigned its place in vain!
If but the destined end it reach, .

Thou wilt be honoured,-he be blest :
Through life-in death,-submission teach,

And wheresoe'er this form may rest,
Receive iny spirit to thy heaven,
Its blindness purged its guilt forgiven !

T. G. MIRTH AND MELANCHOLY.

A SKETCH OF IRISH MANNERS.

ABOUT thirty miles to the west of Cork is a beautiful and romantic glen, called the Leap, which, in the history of the county, has long been of great importance, and still marks the boundary between the savage and the civilized; for the old adage even yet retains its full force, of beyond the * Leap, beyond the law. For the space of two miles along the valley, one side

of the road is shadowed by a thick forest of oak, forming a strange but pleasing contrast to the high and barren hills which rise upon the other; and after passing the bridge, situated at the extremity of the dell, the travelleris instantly struck with the wildness of the scenery, which encreases at every step. But, wild as it appears, it still has its peculiar charms; and though, over a plain of miles in extent, little is to be seen but bogs and morasses, yet it is so interspersed with innumerable lakes, some of them highly picturesque, that, to the eye of a poet, or a painter, the prospect must be one of interest, if not of beauty; and the political economist only would exclaim, "All is barren!' To the traveller, its charm is heightened by the change from the gloom of the dark forest to the level plain ; whilst a few broken relics of some old castles, over many parts of which the plough has passed, and weeds have grown, serve as a relief to the sameness of the view, and afford subjects for meditation as he travels on his bleak and barren journey. In the distance he beholds the high hills rising above the valley in rude magnificence; with here and there a little cultivated spot, on which its smoke only enables him to distinguish the clay-built cottage from the rocks around it. Miles beyond them he perceives Hungary mountain towering above the rest, and seeming to look with equal scorn upon the hills and the valleys beneath, proud only of its barrenness; for its whole extent does not afford pasture for a flock of sheep; whilst man, the Lord of the Creation, shuns it equally with the beings of the lower world. Its summit is crowned by an unfathomable lake, with which the peasantry have long associated tales of superstitious wonder, many of them having seen its only inhabitant, an enormous serpent, stretch forth its head, until they have lost sight of it in the clouds !

A road to the left, towards the sea coast, leads to the village of Glandore, but it is little better than a footpath, totally impassable to carriages of every description, and dangerous even to horses. The road, however, is not altogether cheerless; for, on one side, is Brade, and the beautiful demesne of Lord Kingston; and, on the other, the old mansion and rookery of Castle Jane, gives a pleasing and romantic cast to the landscape, whilst the river is seen, at intervals, between the thick wood that slopes from the road to the shore. At the distance of nearly a mile from it, is situated the village, in a valley, surrounded on every side by lofty hills, consisting of a number of straggling cottages built along the strand, with the potato-garden behind each, and fronted by the dunghill, formed as a sort of wall on either side the door. It was evening when I first approached it; an evening in autumn, and the sun was setting in all its splendour. It was the vigil of the Sabbath-day, and the villagers were assembling to pass it in their customary amusement, and, at least, harmlessly, to welcome the approach of the day of rest. At the entrance of the village I had to

encounter the inquisitive gaze of many a country lass, sitting at her cabin door, braiding her tresses, and arranging her rustic finery, in preparation for the evening dance. A countryman, who, if he was not going my way, made it his, addressed me with · It's a fine evening, your honour, God bless it! This blessing is the general accompaniment of the Irish to every thing they admire. I have frequently heard it bestowed on things animate and inanimate and that's a fine cow, God bless it !' or, it's a beautiful tree, God bless it !' are constant and favourite expressions. My companion, for he became one, was an old and weather-beaten sailor, who had visited one half the globe, and knew something of the other : he seemed not a little vain of his superiority over his fellow-villagers, and it was with some difficulty I prevailed on him to forget the Esquimaux and the Hottentots, and to leave St. Lawrence and the Table mountain, for the Glandore hill and river. At length, in his own dialect, half seaman, and half rustic, he commenced his account of the neighbouring villas and their inhabitants, and continued to point out to me the most attractive scenes as we walked along • Do you see that house upon the hill yonder ? that's Mr. R.'s. Oh ! he's a hard man to the poor, that; 'tis a bad life that his tenants have of it; I'd as live be a slave in an Algee rover, and I was once, and by the same token I'll remember it to my death: we fought hard, but they shot away our jib-boom, and so took us. And that little island that runs away from the shore, like the deserters at Madeira,—that's Mr. M.'s; that is, it isn't now, for he's dead. Och ! it's he was the good man in his time, any how. No cratur ever passed his door without the bit and the sup, barring the exciseman, the blagard that tuck his potteen, and kill't his illegant little bit of a mare : Oh wisha ! every thing's bad luck to him for that same. Look at that ould castle upon the grey rock; that's Mr. O.'s. Him as made a will, and made his dead uncle put his name on it, by holding the corpse's hand, and then he swore he'd life in him; and so he had, faith! for he put a live worm in the dead man's mouth. And that house in the glen yonder, that's the clargyman's, with sixteen Protestants in his rich parish ; and not one more !' By this time we had reached the middle of the village ; and my companion thinking it now necessary for me to give some account of myself, were it but in gratitude for his confidence and communications, questioned and cross-questioned me, though to no purpose. An Irish peasant is like a black-letter book, which though difficult to peruse, generally rewards the labour by opening sources of new and curious information, and is seldom closed with dissatisfaction. The very causes that have conspired to depress them, and still keep them but a half civilized race, have at the same time given them that quickness of intellect, and that penetrating shrewdness, by which they are so generally distinguished. Believing themselves, as they certainly do, mastered by strangers in their own land, they feel, or fancy themselves, called upon to act on the defensive, and to overbalance might by cunning. They are, therefore, frequently ungrateful, because unaccustomed to kindness, they often look on a favour as a bribe; or, at best, as the offering of self-interest and policy. After having borne patiently the examination of my companion, like a shrewd witness before a long-headed lawyer, who thinks before he opens his lips, and never replies, until he has well conned his answer, I pointed towards one of the cottages, round the door of which a number of the peasantry were assembled, and asked him what was doing there. It's the potteen, your honour ; may be your honour, would like to see the gossoons dancing; and süre now there'll be many a nate girl and boy tripping it there, when blind Jerry, the piper, that's on the hill yonder, is to the fore.' We advanced towards the house, over the door of which was a large sign, with a grim figure of Saint Patrick, mitred and clad in his robes, bearing a cross in one hand, and a book in the other; before him were toads and serpents in abundance, creeping out of the way of his curse ; while one or two, more courageous than the rest, had ventured to turn round and hiss at the holy man who was thus dispossessing them of their territory. We entered the cabin, and the attention of the company was divided between the strange gentleman, and Jerry, the blind piper, who arrived at the same moment, the squeaking sound of whose music, as he filled the bellows of his pipes, immediately set the party in motion. • Arrah; Jerry,' said one, 'what kept you now ? and here's Nelly Vaughan's toes cramped wid waiting for you.'-'. And the stuff you like to taste growing could,' said another. Well, he's here now,' exclaimed several; and girls, if ye have no corns, dance away! and see which'll be tired first, honies, your legs or Jerry's music.' A stranger never requires an introduction, and is always sure of a welcome. A seat was handed to me, and I accepted the invitation. "Will your honour be pleased to sit down ? it's little the likes of us has to give your honour, but the quality likes the mountain-dew, as they call it; and here it is, nate and beautiful, sure enough! Some whiskey-punch accompanied the recommendation, in a sort of mutilated tumbler, tied round the top, which a large crack made necessary, by a piece of tarred string : It isn't the best glass, but it's the largest, sir,' said the man who presented it to me, and added, with a wink and a smile. "your honour isn't an officer ? thus sufficiently intimating that my liquor had paid no duty to the king. I had now leisure to make my remarks on the group around me; they were principally gazing on the four dancers, and, by a well done, Paddy! or, an illegantly danced, Judy !' applauding the endeavours of the young peasants, who certainly footed it with all their hearts. Among the lookers-on, the old people, of whom there were but few present, only had seats; the rest were either standing, or sitting cross-legged around the ring. The room was crowded, and I never saw an apparently more happy group; for there was not a single countenance among them that bore any traces of care. - The evening was like one of those green spots on their barren mountains; and if they did not at times enjoy such, the lot of the Irish peasants would be indeed one of wretchedness and misery. I had scarcely finished my beverage, when a smart young damsel advanced towards me, and dropped her curtesy; though, as I did not wish to shew the non-education of my toes, I pretended not to understand her, when a matron, who sat beside me, undertook the office of interpreter, saying, "She wants to dance wid your honour.' In common politeness, as I had been drinking with the men, I could not avoid dancing with the women; so I arose, and hopped, and hobbled through an Irish jig. My buxom partner far outshone me in agility; and when she withdrew another came forward, and another, and another, who seemed determined to tire me; but I was determined not to be tired. At length there was an universal cry of "Fadda ! fadda !' (fie for shame!) • lave the gentleman sit,' and I was left leaping alone. But to shew that I was not wearied, I made my rustic scrape and bow to a pretty and interesting girl who was seated in a corner; “I don't dance, O wisha! I could not; God knows, sir, I could not,' was her reply to my invitation.

• Och, Mary! hurra!' echoed several of the party, two of whom advanced and forced her from her seat, when I discovered the reason of her bashful tardiness was, that the feet of my chosen one were naked; so, with a natural gallantry, I threw off my own shoes, and we footed it together gaily on the earthen floor.

We were thus engaged, when an old man burst into the room, exclaiming, “The old ferry-boat is gone down, and they're all lost!' The music instantly ceased, and the whole party hurried towards the shore; where we found that the boat had indeed gone down, but that the passengers were not all lost. On the beach men and women were running, and asking of all they met who were drowned; each fearing to hear of a husband, or brother, among the victims; while the joy of those who clasped their fainting and dripping relatives, was scarcely less agonizing than the fearful anxiety of others who as yet knew not the fate of their own friends. I soon saw my former companion, and his wet clothes witnessed for him that he had not been idle; three times had he plunged into the waves, and as often returned, bearing a fellow-creature from the waters. Others had exerted themselves with equal success; and one only of the hapless party was brought lifeless to the land. A few drops issued from a wound on the young man's forehead, and he must have received a fatal blow when the boat struck. Sadly and slowly the party returned to the house, where, but a few minutes before, they had been gay and happy, following mournfully the body of him who had been thus cut off in the April of his days. It was dark, but I heard deep sobs from the midst of the crowd ; and I knew that he was not the only being to be wept for. The corpse was laid on the table in the room where the dance had so lately been; and there were two female figures standing beside it, the mother and sister of the dead youth. The young girl was moaning and weeping bitterly, while the crowd stood sorrowfully by. One of them tried to soothe her with Mary, Mary, dear! 'tis God's will ! She turned towards the man who had spoken, and pointed to the body; and then, with the action of phrenzy, she shook the pale corpse, shrieking, · Tom! Tom, dear! why won't ye wake? oh! wake! wake!' and she fell senseless on the floor. It was the very barefooted partner with whom, but a little while before, I had been dancing. The noise roused the mother, who had stood beside the corpse, wiping off the chill damp, and the drops of blood that still oozed from the forehead, with a sorrow too deep for tears. 'I tell ye, Mary, he's dead!' she murmured,

and will never wake again!' and she bent lifelessly over the body, while her hand was laid on his pale brow; and she muttered, as if unconscious of the presence of any one save her dead child, “You were a good son, agra ! how like his father he is now, when I see him last, before they put him in his could grave :-What'll Mary do when I'm gone? God be with her, and him that's dead, him that's a corpse before me, and I not by with a blessing for him ! Most of the villagers had left the scene of sorrow; and as I saw those who remained were all the young man's relatives and friends, I departed also, with an aching heart, to reflect on the melancholy close of this evening of gaiety and joy; and once more to bear testimony to the truism that pleasure and happiness are, too often, but

“The torrent's smoothness, ere it dash below!”

« ПредишнаНапред »