Personal Sketches of His Own Times, Volume 2 (Google Books)

THE LAST OF THE GERALDINES.

In the early part of my life the system of domestic government and family organisation was totally different from that at present in vogue. The patriarchal authority was then frequently exercised with a rigour which, in days of degenerate relaxation, has been converted into a fruitful subject for even dramatic ridicule. In Ireland the “rule of the patriarchs” has become nearly extinguished. New lights have shone Upon the rising generation; the “rights of women” have become a statute law of society; and the old wholesome Word obedience, by which all wives and children were formerly influenced, has been reversed, by prefacing it with the monosyllable dis.

“Everybody is acquainted,” said an intimate friend of mine to his wife in my presence, “with the ruinous state of obstinacy and contradiction raging in modern times among the subordinate members of families throughout the United Kingdom; as if the word united were applied to the empire only to satirise the disunited habits, manners, politics, religion, and morality of its population. There are,” continued he, “certain functions that must be exercised every day (two or three times a-day if possible) by persons of all descriptions, who do not wish to leave this world within a week at the very latest; but, unless on the absolute necessity of mastication for purposes of self-support, I am not aware of any other subject respecting which unanimity of opinion is even affected among the individuals of any family throughout the country.”

The wife nodded assent, but spake not; first, because she hated all controversy; and second, because though, on the subject of domestic supremacy, she was always sure of getting the worst of the argument, she contented herself with having, beyond doubt, the best of the practice.*

My friend’s observations were, I think, just. In my time the change has been excessive; and to enable my readers to form a better judgment of the matter, I will lay before them a few authentic anecdotes of rather antique dates.

In voL L I mentioned the illustrious exploits of my greataunt, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, of Moret Castle, and the heroic firmness wherewith she bore the afflicting view of my great-uncle Stephen, her husband, “dancing upon nothing” (as the Irish phrase it) at the castle-gate, immediately under the battlements; and though it is possible there may exist some modern ladies who might have sufficient self-possession to look on a similar object without evincing those signs of inconsolability natural to be expected on such an occasion, yet I will venture to say few are to be found who, like my aunt Elizabeth, would risk their lives and property rather than accept of a second husband. Nor do I believe that, since the patriarchal government has been revolutionised by the unnatural rebellion of wives and children, there has existed one lady—young, old, or middle-aged—in the three kingdoms, who could be persuaded to imitate the virtuous Gentoos, and voluntarily undergo conflagration with her departed lord and master.

My great-uncle had a son borne unto him by his magnanimous spouse, who was very young and in the castle at the time his father was corded {Hibemice). Elizabeth led him to the castletop, and showing him his dangling parent, cried, “See there!

* Mrs. Mary Morton of Ballyroan, a Very worthy domestic woman, told me many years since that she had but one way of ruling her husband, which, as it is rather a novel way, and may be of some use to my fair readers, I will mention in her own words.

“You know,” said Mrs. Morton, “that Tom is most horribly nice in his eating, and fancies that both abundant and good food is essential to his health. Now, when he has been out of temper with me, he is sure of having a very bad dinner; if he grumbles, 1 tell him that whenever he puts me into a twitter by his tantrums, I always forget to give the cook proper directions. This is sure,” added she, “of keeping him in good humour for a week at least!”

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you were born a Geraldine; the blood of that noble race is in you, my boy! See—see the sufferings of your own father! Never did a true Geraldine forgive an enemy! I perceive your little face gets flushed; you tremble; ay, ay, ’tis for revenge! Shall a Cahill live?”

“No, mother, no! when I’m able, I’ll kill them all! I’ll kill all the Cahills myself!” cried the lad, worked on by the fury of his respectable mother.

“That’s my dear boy!” said Elizabeth, kissing him fervently. “Shall one live?”

“No, mother, not one,” replied the youngster.

“Man, woman, or child?” pursued the heroine.

“Neither man, woman, nor child,” echoed her precocious son.

“You are a Geraldine,” repeated Elizabeth. “Call the priest,” added she, turning to a warder.

“He made a little too free, my lady mistress,” said the warder, “and is not very fitting for duty, saving your presence; but he’ll soon sleep it off.”

“Bring him up, nevertheless,” cried Elizabeth; “I command you to bring up his reverence.”

The priest was accordingly produced by Keeran Karry. “Father,” said the lady, “where’s your manual?”

“Where should it be,” answered the priest (rather sobered), “but where it always is, lady?” pulling, as he spake, a book out of a pocket in the waistband of his breeches, where (diminished and under the name of a. fob) more modern clergymen carry their watches.

“Now, your reverence,” said Elizabeth, “we’ll swear the young squire to revenge my poor Stephen, his father, on the Cahills, root and branch, as soon as he comes to manhood. Swear him!—swear him thrice!” exclaimed she.

The boy was duly sworn, and the manual reposited in the priest’s smallclothes.

“Now, take the boy down and duck him, head over heels, in the horse-pond!” cried his mother.

Young Fitzgerald roared lustily, but was nevertheless well soused, to make him remember his oath the better. This oath he repeated upon the same spot, while his mother lived, on every anniversary of his father’s murder; and it was said by the old tenants that “young Stephen,” though flourishing in more civilised times, religiously kept the vow as far as he could; and that, so soon as he came into possession of Moret, four of the ablest of the Cahills (by way of a beginning) were missed from the neighbourhood of Timahoe in one night, nobody ever discovering what had become of them,—indeed, the fewest words were considered far the safest.

The skeletons of four lusty fellows, however, were afterwards found in clearing out a pit in the Donane Colliery, and many persons said they had belonged to the four Cahills from Timahoe; but, as the colliers very sapiently observed, there being no particular marks whereby to distinguish the bones of a Cahill from those of any other “boy,” no one could properly identify them.

A bystander, who had been inspecting the relics, protested, on hearing this remark made, that he could swear to one of the skulls at least (which appeared to have been fractured and trepanned); and he gave a very good reason for this assertion— namely, that it was himself who had “cracked the skull of Ned Cahill at the fair of Dysart, with a walloper, and he knew the said skull ever after. It was between jest and earnest,” continued Jemmy Corcoran, “that I broke his head—all about a game-cock, and be d—d to it! and by the same token, I stood by in great grief at Maryborough, while Doctor Stapleton was twisting a round piece out of Ned Cahill’s skull, and laying a two-and-eight-penny-halfpenny* (beaten quite thin on the smith’s forge) over the hole, to cover his brains anyway. The devil a brain in his sconce but I could see plainly; and the said twoand-eight-penny-halfpenny stayed fast under his wig for many a year, till Ned pulled it off (bad luck to it!) to pay for drink

* An Irish silver half-crown piece, the difference of English and Irish currency.

VOL. n. 2 E

with myself at Timahoe. They said he was ever after a little cracked when in his liquor; and I’m right sorry for having art or part in that same fracture, for Ned was a good hoy, so he was, and nobody would strike him a stroke on the head at any rate after the two-and-cight-penny-halj”penny was pledged off his skull.”

Though Mr. Jemmy Corcoran was so confident as to the skull he had fractured, his testimony was not sufficient legally to identify a Cahill, and the four sets of bones heing quietly buried at Clapook, plenty of masses, etc., were said for an entire year by Father Cahill of Stradbally to get their souls clean out of purgatory; that is, if they were in it, which there was not a clergy in the place would lake on to say he was “sartain

en *

sure ot.

This Stephen Fitzgerald—who had killed the Cahills, sure enough, as became the time son and heir of the aforesaid Stephen, who was hanged—lived, as report went, plentifully and regularly at Moret. No better geutleman existed, the old people said, in the quiet way, after once he had put the four CahilLs into the coal-pit, as he promised his worthy mother Elizabeth, “the likes of whom Moret never saw before nor since, nor ever will while time is time, and longer too!”

Stephen had one son only, who is the principal subject of my present observations; and as he and his family (two lovely boys and two splendid girls) were not exactly the same sort of people commonly seen now-a-days, it may not be uninteresting to give my readers a picture of them.

* I recollect (at an interval of more than fifty years) Father Doran of Culrnaghbog, an excellent man, full of humour ami well informed, putting the tovl in the most comprehensible state of personification possible. He said the icvMi could not understand what the soul was by the old explanations.

“I tell you all, my flock,” said Father Doran, “there’s not a man, woman, or child among you that has not his soul this present minute shut up in lii^ body, waiting for the last judgment, according to his faith and actions. 1 tell you fairly, that if flesh could be seen through, like a glass window, you might see every one’s soul at the inside of his body peeping out through the rihs liki,’ the prisoners at the jail of Maryborough through their iron bars; anJ the moment the breath is out of a man or woman, the soul escapes and makes of I” be dealt with as it deserves, and that’s the truth: so say your beads and renumber your clergy ! “—(Aulltor’s note.)

Stephen, the son of Elizabeth, had been persuaded by Mr. John Lodge, an attorney of Bull Alley, in the city of Dublin (who married a maid-servant of my grandfather’s at Cullenagh), that the two-mile race-course of the Great Heath in Queen’s County, which King George pretended was ids property because it had been formerly taken from a papist Geraldine, now reverted to my great-uncle’s family, in consequence of their being Protestants; and Mr. Lodge added, that if Squire Stephen would make his son a counsellor, no doubt he would more aptly trace pedigrees, rights, titles, and attainders, and, in fine, get possession of several miles of the Great Heath, or of the race-course at any rate.

The advice was adopted, and Stephen the son was sent to the Temple in London to study law; and while there, was poisoned at a cook’s shop by the cook’s daughter because he would not marry her. This poisoning (though it was not fatal), he always said, stopped his growth like witchcraft.

The father died in his bed; and my uncle, Stephen the counsellor, became a double relative from marrying Catherine Byrne, daughter of Sir John Byrne, Bart., of Timahoe Castle, and sister to my grandmother, heretofore mentioned. After he had studied Bracton, Fleta, Littleton, the Year Books, the three Cokes, and in short the marrow of the English law, he used to say that he got on very well with the first book, not so well with the second, worse with the third; and at length found that the more he read, the more he was puzzled, knowing less when he left off than when he began—as all the law-books contradicted each other like the lawyers themselves: thus, after two years’ hard work, he gave up all further attempts to expound what he swore ‘fore God was utterly inexplicable. He also relinquished his father’s squabble with King George as to the race-course on the Great Heath; and, concentrating his search after knowledge upon one learned book, the Justice of Quorum’s PocIect Companion, commenced magistrate. He was likewise a horse-racer, country gourmand, tippler, and farmer. His wife, my aunt, was as .ordinary a gentlewoman “as may be seen of a summer’s day;” but then, she was worthy in proportion.

As to my uncle’s figure, nothing resembling it having ever been seen, at least by me, I cannot pretend to give any idea of it, save by an especial description. He was short (which he said was the effect of the poison), and as broad as long—appearing to grow the wrong way. He observed, touching this subject, that where there are materials for growth, if anything does not advance in height, it spreads out like a fir-tree* when the top shoot is broken off and it fills wide at the bottom. He was not actually fat, nor particularly bony: I think his bulk consisted of solid, substantial flesh. His face was neither extravagantly ugly, nor disproportioned to his body; but a double, or rather treble chin descended in layers very nearly to the pit of his stomach, whence his paunch abruptly stretched out, as if placed by Nature as a shelf for the chin to rest upon. His limbs each gained jn thickness what it wanted in length; so that it would seem impossible for him to be thrown down, or if he were, he would roll about like a ball His hands (as if Nature exhibited the contrast for amusement’s sake) were thin, white, and ladylike—so much so, indeed, that did he fall, they could not help him up again. “Each particular hair” was almost of the thickness of a goose-quill; his locks were queued behind, and combed about once or twice a-month. His nostrils were always crammed with snuff (now and then discharged, as from a mortar, by sneezing), and his chins were so well dusted and caked with that material, that the whole visage at times appeared as if it were a magazine thereof.

My uncle’s dress exactly matched his style of person: he

always wore a s/iw^coloured coat and breeches, with a scarlet waistcoat that had been once bound with lace (the strings whereof remained, like ruins in a landscape); blue worsted stockings, and immense silver shoe and knee buckles. His hat was very large, with a blunt cock in front. It had also once been fully laced; but no button had been seen on it since the year succeeding his nuptials.

* This idea was a standing joke with him for some time, till old Kit Julian, the retired exciseman (heretofore mentioned), made a hit at my uncle, which put his comparison to an end. “By my troth, then, Counsellor,” said Kit, “if you arc like a fir, it is not a ‘spruce fir’ anyhow.” This sarcasm cut my uncle in the raw; and it was said that he had an additional shaving-day and clean crmt every week afterward.— (Author’s note.)

The fruits of my uncle’s marriage were, as I have said, two boys and two girls. The eldest of these Geraldines, Tom, took to what ignorant doctors call poison—but country gentlemen, potation. My uncle declared he knew from his own experience that a “little learning was a dangerous thing;” and therefore thought it better that Tom should have none at all! Tom therefore studied nothing but “Cardan’s receipt for drinking!” The art of writing his own name came pretty readily; but his penmanship went no further. At twenty-six he quarrelled with a vicious horse, which was easily offended. The animal, on his master’s striking him with a whip, returned the blow with his hoof; and on Tom being taken to his chamber and examined, it was found that he had left the greater part of his brains in the stable.

Jack, his brother, was now heir-apparent. His figure was nearly as grotesque, but only half the size of his father’s; his eyes were of the most cautious description, one closely watching his nose, the other glancing quite outward, to see that no enemy approached. He loved liquor as well as Tom, but could not get down so much of it. Nevertheless, after a pretty long life, he was concluded by rather extravagant and too frequent doses of port and potteen.

I have already given some account of the castle of Moret as it formerly appeared. When I last saw it, some dozen of years back, it presented nothing remarkable save its ivy covering. The dwelling-house, which, as it stood in my uncle’s time, would have been worth detailing (had not every country gentleman’s mansion been of a similar genus), had declined into an ordinary residence. In Squire Stephen’s day it was low, long, dilapidated, dirty, old, and ugly—and had defied paint, plaster, and whitewash, for at least the better half of a century. The ham, court, dunghill, pigeon-house, horse-pond, piggery, and slaughter-house, formed, as usual, the chief prospects from the parlour-windows; and on hot days the effluvia were so exquisite, that one might clearly distinguish each several perfume.

My uncle never could contrive to stick on horseback, and therefore considered riding as a dangerous exercise for any gentleman. He used to say it was indeed one of his standing jokes, that jockeys and vulgar persons, being themselves leasts, might stick by virtue of mutual attraction upon their own species; but that ladies and gentlemen were, as a matter of course, always subject to tumble off. He bred and kept, notwithstanding, four or five race-horses, which he got regularly trained; and at every running upon the heath or curragh he entered such of them as were qualified by weight, etc.; yet, singularly enough, though the animals were well bred and well trained, not one, during the whole of the five-and-twenty years that he kept them, ever won a plate, prize, or race of any description; for .ill that he would never sell either for any price; and when they got too old to run any more, they were turned out to end their days unmolested in a marsh and the straw-yard. It was said by those competent to judge that some of these animals were excellent, but that Squire Fitzgerald’s old groom used to give trials, and to physic the horses, and that (through his people) they were bought off when there was a probability of their winning. However, my uncle, so that none of them were distanced, was just as well pleased, exhibiting not the least uneasiness at their failure. Indeed, he never attended any of the races personally, or betted a shilling upon the event of one—circumstances which remind me of a certain judge, who was always sufficiently gratified by a simple conviction and by passing sentence on a culprit, eventually saving more lives by pardon than any two of his colleagues.

I was very young when taken to my uncle’s for a stay of some months by my grandmother, but at an age when strong impressions are sometimes made upon the memory. I was a gTe.it

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Personal Sketches of His Own Times, Volume 2
By Sir Jonah Barrington

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favourite, and indulged in everything, even by my uncle; and very frequently afterward, while my aunt lived at Moret in her widowhood, I visited there, every visit reminding me of former times, and recalling persons and things that might otherwise have been lost to my juvenile recollection. This hitter was the period when, having nobody of my own age in the house to chatter to, I took delight in hearing the old people about Moret tell their long traditionary stories, which, as I observed in my first sketch (voL i.) descended from generation to generation with hereditary exactness; and, to the present day, I retain a fondness for hearing old occurrences detailed.

My eldest female cousin, Miss Dolly Fitzgerald, was at least twelve years older than I when I was first taken to Moret by my grandmother; the second, Miss Fanny, ten. Never, sure, did two sisters present such a contrast. Dolly was as like her father as rather more height and an uncommonly fair skin would permit; her tongue was too large for the mouth, and consequently thickened her pronunciation; her hair was yellow; her feet were like brackets, and her hands resembled milkwhite shoulders of mutton. Her features were good, but her nostrils and upper lip displayed considerable love of the favourite comforter of her father. She was very good natured, but ignorance personified.

Her sister was as thin as the handle of a sweeping-brash, and had dark eyes twinkling like stars on a vapoury evening, with yellow skin, black hair, a mouth literally stretching across the face (like a foss to protect her chin), very red lips, and much more vivacity than comprehension. There were few sound teeth in the whole family, and none that a dentist would think worth the expense of dressing.

For these two amiable young ladies it was the principal object of my aunt to procure husbands, if possible, in the neighbourhood . But the squires were shy of matching into the family of so great an oddity as my uncle. They preferred getting wives among people who went on the jog-trot of the world like themselves.

On this point my uncle and aunt entirely differed; and during the discussions as to their differences, time ran on, nothing was done for the ladies, and Miss Dolly was in her sixand-twentieth year before she was fully emancipated from the discipline of the nursery and suffered to dine at papa’s table. When that important period arrived, it was considered as a great epoch at Moret Castle; all the neighbours were invited, and Dolly’s majority was formally announced. She was then given to understand she might thereafter dine at the great table, speak to any gentleman she pleased, and, in short, have full liberty to act entirely as she thought proper, provided she always previously consulted her father’s will, and obeyed it without “questions asked.” She was likewise enjoined to take especial care not to forget her pastry*

On these free and happy terms, Dolly was to have the chariot for a day, and to set the world on fire. The old carriage was accordingly cleared for action from the dust accumulated upon it, the horses’ tails were trimmed, and the young lady was to go to the church of Portarlington the ensuing Sunday— “where,” said my uncle to his spouse, “‘fore Gad, Kate, our Dolly will catch some young fellow after the service is over, either in the aisle or the churchyard. She’ll have some proposals; but, ‘fore Gad, it’s not everybody I’d give her to.”

“Don’t be too sure, Stephen,” rejoined my aunt. “You keep your daughters as if they were haunches of vension. It’s not everybody who has a taste for meat that has been hung a fortnight in the larder to give it a flavour. The men, I tell you, like fresh and fresh, Stephen; and be assured you have kept Dolly too long to suit every man’s palate. I have always been telling you so, but you are perpetually saying you’ll be the head of your own family; so now you’ll see the end of it1”

* The Irish Indies in the country at that period were always taught the art of pie and dumpling making, as a necessary accomplishment; and a husband who bleed a good table always preferred a housekeeper to a gadder. Tanpom mulantur !—(Author’s note.)

The ladies seem to have vexed our author. There are no gadders now; the work of life keeps their noses to the grinding-stone.

“Why, Kate, you were a good while in the larder yourself at Timahoe before you got a husband,” replied my uncle.

“I may thank the smallpox for that, Stephen,” retorted my aunt: “only for that enemy I should never have been mistress of Moret Castle, Counsellor Stephen being governor of it!”

“Well, you’ll see that I am right,” said my uncle. “I tell you, men who look out for wives like a seasoned, obedient woman at the head of their families, and not your tittering, giddy young creatures that have not had time to settle their brains or mature their understandings. No girl should be away from the eye of her natural guardian till she arrives at the full extent of her twenty-sixth year, like Dolly. “You’ll see now she’ll do some mischief at the church or churchyard of Portarlington!”

“Stephen,” said my aunt (who, by-the-by, had her nose nearly stopped by the smallpox, which made her somewhat snuffle, and gave a peculiar emphasis to her vowels) ’tis too late! Dolly knows nothing of the world. It would take a full year at the church and balls at Portarlington, the races of the Great Heath and green of Maryborough, the hurlings at the fort of Dunnally, and a month or two on a visit to our nephew, Jack Barrington, at Blandsfort, before she would learn enough to be able to converse with mankind on any subject—except darning your stockings, or turning off a kitchen-maid.”

My uncle started as much as his form would admit; cocked his eyebrows, and stared with all his might. “Tore Gad, Kate, I believe you are out of your wits! Did you say Jack Barrington’s of Blandsfort? Jack Barrington’s! Why, you know very well, Kate, as everybody knows, that there’s nothing going on at that house but hunting and feasting; dancing all night, and rattling about all day like mad people; and coshering with raking pots of tea, hot cakes, syllabubs, pipers, and the devil knows what! No, no. If Dolly were to get one month among her cousins at Blandsfort, I should never see a day’s comfort after; topsy-turvy would go Moret! I’d never be master of my own house half-an-hour after Dolly had received a course of instruction at Jack Barrington’s. I don’t wish her to know too much of the world. No, no. Tore Gad, Kate, Dolly never puts her foot, while she is a spinster, into Jack Barrington’s house at Blandsfort.”

Folks generally become mulish as their years advance, and my uncle enjoyed that quality in its greatest perfection. The Misses Dolly and Fanny Fitzgerald were commanded, under the pain of displeasure, by their patriarchal father, Stephen, to abjure and give up all thoughts of the festivities of Blandsfort.

“‘Fore Gad, Kate!” said my uncle to their more conceding mother—” ‘Fore Gad, Kate, you had better send the girls a visiting to the antipodes than be turning them upside down at Blandsfort. No rational man would have anything to do with them afterwards. There it is only pull-haul and tear, and the devil take the hindmost!—eh?”

“And for Heaven’s sake, Stephen,” replied my aunt (who was no cosmographer), “what family are these antipodes whom you would send our daughters to visit in preference to their nearest relations ?—I never heard of them: they must be upstarts, Stephen. I thought I knew every family in the county.”

“‘Fore Gad, Kate!” rejoined my uncle, laughing heartily, “your father, old Sir John, ought to be tied to the cart’s tail for so neglecting your education. Why, Kate, the antipodes are at this moment standing on their heads immediately under you— upside down, just as you see a fly on the ceiling, without the danger of falling down from it.”

“And for Heaven’s sake, Stephen,” said my puzzled aunt, “how do the ladies keep down their petticoats in that position?”

“Ask Sir Isaac Newton that,” said my uncle, who was not prepared for that interrogation. “But let me hear no more of the topsy-turvy of their cousins at Blandsfort. I’ll send my daughters to church at Portarlington, Kate, where they cannot fail of being seen and much noticed.”

“And that may not be much in their favour at present, Stephen,” replied my aunt, who was not blind to her progeny— “at least until they are a little better rigged out than in their present nursery dresses, Stephen.”

“Rig away, rig away, Kate!” said my uncle, “rig away; you may make them as tawdry as jackdaws, so as you don’t turn their heads at Jack Barrington’s.”

In fine, they were made sufficiently glaring, and, accompanied by aunt in the resuscitated postchaise, made their first debut at the church of Portarlington. Of course they attracted universal notice. The ladies congratulated my aunt on her showy girls; the parson on their coming of age; and the innkeeper declared they were the most genteelest of all the new subscribers to his ball and supper at the market-house.

The ladies returned to Moret highly delighted with their cordial reception in the churchyard, and Mrs. Gregory, the head mantua-maker of the county, was immediately set to work to fit out the ladies in the newest taste of Dublin fashions, preparatory to the next ball.

Now, Portarlington had been a very small village in the Queen’s County until the French Protestant emigrants, on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, made a settlement there (it was said from the enormous quantity of fine frogs generated in that neighbourhood), and there they commenced schoolmasters and mistresses, with a good reputation, which they ceased not to keep up, until in time it became an established seminary. Here the numerous schools and academies were always ready to pour out their hobbledehoys and misses in their teens to the dances and assemblies; but very few mature gentlemen assisted at these coteries, and it was the customary prayer of all the young ladies going to those balls—” If I cannot get a man for a partner, 0 Heaven, in thy mercy, send me a big boy!”

Suffice it to say that my cousins, at the first ball, outglared all the females in the room put together; my aunt’s old rings and hereditary paraphernalia had been brought fully into requisition. But, unfortunately, Providence sent them that night neither a grown man-partner nor a big boy in the shape of a man-partner, and, after having sat as full-blown wall-flowers

the whole night, they returned to Moret highly discouraged that their rose-colour satin and family Dresdens, which cut all the other girls out of feather, had no better result than the going home again—my philosophical aunt telling them all the way home, “that balls were no places to catch husbands at, there was so much variety; and I assure you, Dolly,” said my aunt, “men, now-a-days, look more at a girl’s purse than her flounces, and you’ll have nothing very showy in that way whilst your father and mother are alive, Dolly.”

My poor cousin Dolly’s feet also, after three balls more (dead failures), got so crimped and cramped by tight shoes, to restrain her fat brackets within reasonable boundaries, that corns, bunions, callosities, etc., showed a plentiful harvest the ensuing summer, and, conspiring with her winter chilblains, and tortures to match, put my poor cousin’s jigging out of the question for the remainder of her existence.

My cousin Fanny, whose feet were only bone and gristle, made numerous exhibitions both in the minuet and rigadoon, and for the same purpose. But no wooers for the Miss Fitzgeralds of Moret Castle made their advances; not a sigh was exploded for either of the demoiselles, though the church, the balls, the races at the Great Heath, and hurlings at the fort of Dunnally, were all assiduously attended for the laudable purpose aforesaid. All in vain. And after a two years’ vigorous chase the game was entirely given over, and my cousins slunk back into cover, where, in all human probability, they would have remained during their hives, had not heaven sent down a putrid fever to bring my uncle Stephen up to it, as all the old ladies asserted, to please the widow, although old Julian, the exciseman, ungratefully remarked, that “there must have been a great number of vacancies in Heaven when they called up the counsellor there.” However, before her weeds got rusty, my aunt, shaking a loose leg, after having been forty years handcuffed and linked to Counsellor Stephen, set out with the entire family for the great city of Dublin, where, no doubt, the merits if not the beauty of my cousins, with a more proximate reversion, would be duly appreciated.

However, neither their merit nor beauty, nor the reversion, could exorcise the spirit of celibacy, which still pursued them from Moret. Jack, their brother, married a mantua-maker; and my poor uncle, not being a Mahomedan, and, of course, not having any houri in the clouds to solace his leisure hours, and finding himself lonesome without his old Kate, Providence again showed its kindness towards him, and sent down a pulmonary consumption to Dublin to carry my aunt up to her well-beloved Stephen. My unfortunate cousins were now left orphans, of only forty and forty-one years of age, to buffet with the cares of the world, and accept the brevet-rank of old maidens, which they certainly did with as much good-humour and as little chagrin as are generally exhibited on those occasions. Their incomes were ample for all their purposes, and they got on to the end of their career very comfortably. Dolly chose three lap-dogs and a parrot for her favourites, and Fanny adopted a squirrel and four tom-cats to chase away her ennui But those animals having a natural antipathy to each other, got into an eternal state of altercation and hostility, the parrot eternally screeching to make peace between them. So a maidservant, who understood the humour of poodles, cats, etc. etc., was hired to superintend and keep them in peace and proper order.

This maid of natural history got great ascendency; and, as she was what is termed in Ireland a swaddler, in England a canter or psalm-singer, she soon convinced my cousins that there was no certain road to salvation, save through the preachers and love-feasts of those societies. Of course a plate was laid ready for some lank pulpiteer at dinner, every day, and my cousins became thorough-paced swaddlers (singing excepted). But, as years would still roll on, and they could not be always swaddling, and saving their souls, some extra comfort was, as customary, found necessary for their languid hours. The maid of natural history therefore suggested that, as solid food and weak Bordeaux were not of the best efficacy for feeble appetites, which her mistresses were beginning to show symptoms of, a glass of cordial, now and then, in the morning, might restore the tone of their stomachs. Of consequence, a couple of liqueurbottles were prepared, and always properly replenished; the ladies found their liquid appetites daily increase: the preacher got the whole bottle of wine to himself; Lundyfoot’s most pungent was well crammed into my cousin’s nostrils, as an interlude, till snuffling was effected; and the matter went on as cheerily as possible between the dogs and cats, the preacher, snuff, and the cordial comforts, till an ill-natured dropsy, with tappings to match, sent my cousin Dolly to my uncle Stephen; and some other disorder having transmitted cousin Fanny the same journey to her mother, I anticipated very great satisfaction in opening the last will and testament of the survivor; whereupon, all things being regularly prepared, with an audible voice I read the first legacy, bequeathing ” her body to the dust, and her soul to God,” in most pious and pathetic expressions, and of considerable longitude. The second legacy ran: “Item—to my dear cousin, Jonah Barrington, I bequeath my mother’s wedding-ring and my father’s gold sleeve-buttons, as family keepsakes; also all my father’s books and papers of every description, except bonds, or any securities for money, or contracts ;” and so far looked favourable, till, casting my eye over the third legacy, to the wonder of the company I stopped short, and handing it cautiously to the swaddling preacher (who was present), begged he would be so kind as to read it himself. This office he coyly accepted, and performed it in a drawling whine, and with heavy sighs, that made everybody laugh, except myself. In fine, cousin Fanny, after her ” soul to God, and her body to the dust” (the latter of which legacies she could not possibly avoid), as to all her worldly substance, etc., bequeathed it ” to such charitaUc purposes as her maid Mary might think proper, by and with the spiritual advice and assistance of that holy man, Mr. Clarke. This pious philosopher never changed a muscle at his good fortune. The will, indeed, could be no surprise either to him or Mrs. Mary. With the aid of the orator’s brother, who was an attorney (and got snacks), they had prepared it according to their

own satisfaction; and cousin Fanny executed it one evening, after her cordial and prayers had their full operation ; and, in a few days more, her disorder put a conclusive termination to any possibility of revoking it.

This affair had its sequel exactly as any rational person might have anticipated. The preacher and Mrs. Mary, after a decent mourning, united their spiritual and temporal concerns, and became flesh of the flesh and bone of the bone; in which happy state of husband and wife (which happy state they had been in many months before the ceremony was thought necessary) they remained nearly two years, when his reverence, happening to light on a younger and handsomer swaddler and legatee, after beating Mrs. Mary almost to a jelly, embarked with his new proselyte for America, where, changing his name, curling his hair, colouring his eyebrows, etc. etc., he turned Quaker, and is at this moment, I have learned, in good repute at meeting, and solvency as a trader, in the city of Philadelphia.

The entire of my uncle Stephen’s library and manuscripts, with the exception of the year-books, Newcastle on the Manege, seven farriery and several cookery books, I gave to my friend, old Lundyfoot, to envelop his powder in; and most of my books being well impregnated, or rather populously inhabited, by divers minute and nearly impalpable maggots, probably added some poignancy to the sneezing qualities of his celebrated preparation.

I recollect a whimsical expression used by Davy Lander, an Irish counsellor, whom I brought with me to hear the will read. “By my soul, Barrington,” said Lander, “she was right enough in bequeathing her soul to God, out of hand, or the devil would certainly have taken it as heir-at-law! But I hope he has the reversion.”

That branch of the Geraldines is now entirely extinct, having ended with my cousin Fanny, the swaddler; and nothing now remains but the old castle, its celebrated ivy tree, St. Bridget’s stone, and my legends, to preserve even the recollection of Morct.

HANGING AN ATTORNEY BY ACCIDENT.

A Hanging-match of a very curious nature occurred a few days after the breaking out of the same rebellion in Dublin, and its relation will form an excellent companion to that of Lieutenant H ‘s mode of execution.

The attorney’s corps of yeomanry, horse and foot, were at that period little less than 800 or 900 strong; and I really believe it might, in an enemy’s country (or even in a remote district of its own), have passed for as fine a “pulk of Cossacks” as ever came from the banks of the Don or the Danube.

In Ireland, everything has its alias denomination; in the regular army, certain regiments are honoured by the titles of the “King’s own,” the “Queen’s own,” or the “Prince’s own,” etc. Many of the Irish yeomanry corps, in 1798, were indulged with similar distinctions; not indeed by the King himself, but by his majesty’s sovereign mob of Dublin. For example, the attorney’s regiment was christened, collectively, the “Devil’s own;” the infantry part of it, the Rifle Brigade; and the cavalry, the Chargers; the custom-house corps, Ccesar’s {scizer’s) army, etc etc. etc. The pre-eminent titles thus given to the attorneys, who are gentlemen by act of parliament, were devised by one Mr. Murry, a cheese and oilman in Great George Street, whose premises (as he deponed) were stormed one night by a patrol of that legal corps, and divers articles of the first quality—food and luxury, cheeses, hams, tongues, anchovies, Burton ale, and bottled porter, etc., were abstracted against his will therefrom, and feloniously conveyed into, and concealed in, the bodies, bowels, and intestines, of divers ravenous and thirsty attorneys, solicitors, and scriveners; and thereby conveyed beyond the reach or jurisdiction of any search-warrants, replevins, or other

favourite, and indulged in everything, even by my uncle; and very frequently afterward, while my aunt lived at Moret in her widowhood, I visited there, every visit reminding me of former times, and recalling persons and things that might otherwise have been lost to my juvenile recollection. This hitter was the period when, having nobody of my own age in the house to chatter to, I took delight in hearing the old people about Moret tell their long traditionary stories, which, as I observed in my first sketch (voL i.) descended from generation to generation with hereditary exactness; and, to the present day, I retain a fondness for hearing old occurrences detailed.

My eldest female cousin, Miss Dolly Fitzgerald, was at least twelve years older than I when I was first taken to Moret by my grandmother; the second, Miss Fanny, ten. Never, sure, did two sisters present such a contrast. Dolly was as like her father as rather more height and an uncommonly fair skin would permit; her tongue was too large for the mouth, and consequently thickened her pronunciation; her hair was yellow; her feet were like brackets, and her hands resembled milkwhite shoulders of mutton. Her features were good, but her nostrils and upper lip displayed considerable love of the favourite comforter of her father. She was very good natured, but ignorance personified.

Her sister was as thin as the handle of a sweeping-brash, and had dark eyes twinkling like stars on a vapoury evening, with yellow skin, black hair, a mouth literally stretching across the face (like a foss to protect her chin), very red lips, and much more vivacity than comprehension. There were few sound teeth in the whole family, and none that a dentist would think worth the expense of dressing.

For these two amiable young ladies it was the principal object of my aunt to procure husbands, if possible, in the neighbourhood . But the squires were shy of matching into the family of so great an oddity as my uncle. They preferred getting wives among people who went on the jog-trot of the world like themselves.

On this point my uncle and aunt entirely differed; and during the discussions as to their differences, time ran on, nothing was done for the ladies, and Miss Dolly was in her sixand-twentieth year before she was fully emancipated from the discipline of the nursery and suffered to dine at papa’s table. When that important period arrived, it was considered as a great epoch at Moret Castle; all the neighbours were invited, and Dolly’s majority was formally announced. She was then given to understand she might thereafter dine at the great table, speak to any gentleman she pleased, and, in short, have full liberty to act entirely as she thought proper, provided she always previously consulted her father’s will, and obeyed it without “questions asked.” She was likewise enjoined to take especial care not to forget her pastry*

On these free and happy terms, Dolly was to have the chariot for a day, and to set the world on fire. The old carriage was accordingly cleared for action from the dust accumulated upon it, the horses’ tails were trimmed, and the young lady was to go to the church of Portarlington the ensuing Sunday— “where,” said my uncle to his spouse, “‘fore Gad, Kate, our Dolly will catch some young fellow after the service is over, either in the aisle or the churchyard. She’ll have some proposals; but, ‘fore Gad, it’s not everybody I’d give her to.”

“Don’t be too sure, Stephen,” rejoined my aunt. “You keep your daughters as if they were haunches of vension. It’s not everybody who has a taste for meat that has been hung a fortnight in the larder to give it a flavour. The men, I tell you, like fresh and fresh, Stephen; and be assured you have kept Dolly too long to suit every man’s palate. I have always been telling you so, but you are perpetually saying you’ll be the head of your own family; so now you’ll see the end of it1”

* The Irish Indies in the country at that period were always taught the art of pie and dumpling making, as a necessary accomplishment; and a husband who bleed a good table always preferred a housekeeper to a gadder. Tanpom mulantur !—(Author’s note.)

The ladies seem to have vexed our author. There are no gadders now; the work of life keeps their noses to the grinding-stone.

“Why, Kate, you were a good while in the larder yourself at Timahoe before you got a husband,” replied my uncle.

“I may thank the smallpox for that, Stephen,” retorted my aunt: “only for that enemy I should never have been mistress of Moret Castle, Counsellor Stephen being governor of it!”

“Well, you’ll see that I am right,” said my uncle. “I tell you, men who look out for wives like a seasoned, obedient woman at the head of their families, and not your tittering, giddy young creatures that have not had time to settle their brains or mature their understandings. No girl should be away from the eye of her natural guardian till she arrives at the full extent of her twenty-sixth year, like Dolly. “You’ll see now she’ll do some mischief at the church or churchyard of Portarlington!”

“Stephen,” said my aunt (who, by-the-by, had her nose nearly stopped by the smallpox, which made her somewhat snuffle, and gave a peculiar emphasis to her vowels) ’tis too late! Dolly knows nothing of the world. It would take a full year at the church and balls at Portarlington, the races of the Great Heath and green of Maryborough, the hurlings at the fort of Dunnally, and a month or two on a visit to our nephew, Jack Barrington, at Blandsfort, before she would learn enough to be able to converse with mankind on any subject—except darning your stockings, or turning off a kitchen-maid.”

My uncle started as much as his form would admit; cocked his eyebrows, and stared with all his might. “Tore Gad, Kate, I believe you are out of your wits! Did you say Jack Barrington’s of Blandsfort? Jack Barrington’s! Why, you know very well, Kate, as everybody knows, that there’s nothing going on at that house but hunting and feasting; dancing all night, and rattling about all day like mad people; and coshering with raking pots of tea, hot cakes, syllabubs, pipers, and the devil knows what! No, no. If Dolly were to get one month among her cousins at Blandsfort, I should never see a day’s comfort after; topsy-turvy would go Moret! I’d never be master of my own house half-an-hour after Dolly had received a course of instruction at Jack Barrington’s. I don’t wish her to know too much of the world. No, no. Tore Gad, Kate, Dolly never puts her foot, while she is a spinster, into Jack Barrington’s house at Blandsfort.”

Folks generally become mulish as their years advance, and my uncle enjoyed that quality in its greatest perfection. The Misses Dolly and Fanny Fitzgerald were commanded, under the pain of displeasure, by their patriarchal father, Stephen, to abjure and give up all thoughts of the festivities of Blandsfort.

“‘Fore Gad, Kate!” said my uncle to their more conceding mother—” ‘Fore Gad, Kate, you had better send the girls a visiting to the antipodes than be turning them upside down at Blandsfort. No rational man would have anything to do with them afterwards. There it is only pull-haul and tear, and the devil take the hindmost!—eh?”

“And for Heaven’s sake, Stephen,” replied my aunt (who was no cosmographer), “what family are these antipodes whom you would send our daughters to visit in preference to their nearest relations ?—I never heard of them: they must be upstarts, Stephen. I thought I knew every family in the county.”

“‘Fore Gad, Kate!” rejoined my uncle, laughing heartily, “your father, old Sir John, ought to be tied to the cart’s tail for so neglecting your education. Why, Kate, the antipodes are at this moment standing on their heads immediately under you— upside down, just as you see a fly on the ceiling, without the danger of falling down from it.”

“And for Heaven’s sake, Stephen,” said my puzzled aunt, “how do the ladies keep down their petticoats in that position?”

“Ask Sir Isaac Newton that,” said my uncle, who was not prepared for that interrogation. “But let me hear no more of the topsy-turvy of their cousins at Blandsfort. I’ll send my daughters to church at Portarlington, Kate, where they cannot fail of being seen and much noticed.”

“And that may not be much in their favour at present, Stephen,” replied my aunt, who was not blind to her progeny— “at least until they are a little better rigged out than in their present nursery dresses, Stephen.”

“Rig away, rig away, Kate!” said my uncle, “rig away; you may make them as tawdry as jackdaws, so as you don’t turn their heads at Jack Barrington’s.”

In fine, they were made sufficiently glaring, and, accompanied by aunt in the resuscitated postchaise, made their first debut at the church of Portarlington. Of course they attracted universal notice. The ladies congratulated my aunt on her showy girls; the parson on their coming of age; and the innkeeper declared they were the most genteelest of all the new subscribers to his ball and supper at the market-house.

The ladies returned to Moret highly delighted with their cordial reception in the churchyard, and Mrs. Gregory, the head mantua-maker of the county, was immediately set to work to fit out the ladies in the newest taste of Dublin fashions, preparatory to the next ball.

Now, Portarlington had been a very small village in the Queen’s County until the French Protestant emigrants, on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, made a settlement there (it was said from the enormous quantity of fine frogs generated in that neighbourhood), and there they commenced schoolmasters and mistresses, with a good reputation, which they ceased not to keep up, until in time it became an established seminary. Here the numerous schools and academies were always ready to pour out their hobbledehoys and misses in their teens to the dances and assemblies; but very few mature gentlemen assisted at these coteries, and it was the customary prayer of all the young ladies going to those balls—” If I cannot get a man for a partner, 0 Heaven, in thy mercy, send me a big boy!”

Suffice it to say that my cousins, at the first ball, outglared all the females in the room put together; my aunt’s old rings and hereditary paraphernalia had been brought fully into requisition. But, unfortunately, Providence sent them that night neither a grown man-partner nor a big boy in the shape of a man-partner, and, after having sat as full-blown wall-flowers

the whole night, they returned to Moret highly discouraged that their rose-colour satin and family Dresdens, which cut all the other girls out of feather, had no better result than the going home again—my philosophical aunt telling them all the way home, “that balls were no places to catch husbands at, there was so much variety; and I assure you, Dolly,” said my aunt, “men, now-a-days, look more at a girl’s purse than her flounces, and you’ll have nothing very showy in that way whilst your father and mother are alive, Dolly.”

My poor cousin Dolly’s feet also, after three balls more (dead failures), got so crimped and cramped by tight shoes, to restrain her fat brackets within reasonable boundaries, that corns, bunions, callosities, etc., showed a plentiful harvest the ensuing summer, and, conspiring with her winter chilblains, and tortures to match, put my poor cousin’s jigging out of the question for the remainder of her existence.

My cousin Fanny, whose feet were only bone and gristle, made numerous exhibitions both in the minuet and rigadoon, and for the same purpose. But no wooers for the Miss Fitzgeralds of Moret Castle made their advances; not a sigh was exploded for either of the demoiselles, though the church, the balls, the races at the Great Heath, and hurlings at the fort of Dunnally, were all assiduously attended for the laudable purpose aforesaid. All in vain. And after a two years’ vigorous chase the game was entirely given over, and my cousins slunk back into cover, where, in all human probability, they would have remained during their hives, had not heaven sent down a putrid fever to bring my uncle Stephen up to it, as all the old ladies asserted, to please the widow, although old Julian, the exciseman, ungratefully remarked, that “there must have been a great number of vacancies in Heaven when they called up the counsellor there.” However, before her weeds got rusty, my aunt, shaking a loose leg, after having been forty years handcuffed and linked to Counsellor Stephen, set out with the entire family for the great city of Dublin, where, no doubt, the merits if not the beauty of my cousins, with a more proximate reversion, would be duly appreciated.

However, neither their merit nor beauty, nor the reversion, could exorcise the spirit of celibacy, which still pursued them from Moret. Jack, their brother, married a mantua-maker; and my poor uncle, not being a Mahomedan, and, of course, not having any houri in the clouds to solace his leisure hours, and finding himself lonesome without his old Kate, Providence again showed its kindness towards him, and sent down a pulmonary consumption to Dublin to carry my aunt up to her well-beloved Stephen. My unfortunate cousins were now left orphans, of only forty and forty-one years of age, to buffet with the cares of the world, and accept the brevet-rank of old maidens, which they certainly did with as much good-humour and as little chagrin as are generally exhibited on those occasions. Their incomes were ample for all their purposes, and they got on to the end of their career very comfortably. Dolly chose three lap-dogs and a parrot for her favourites, and Fanny adopted a squirrel and four tom-cats to chase away her ennui But those animals having a natural antipathy to each other, got into an eternal state of altercation and hostility, the parrot eternally screeching to make peace between them. So a maidservant, who understood the humour of poodles, cats, etc. etc., was hired to superintend and keep them in peace and proper order.

This maid of natural history got great ascendency; and, as she was what is termed in Ireland a swaddler, in England a canter or psalm-singer, she soon convinced my cousins that there was no certain road to salvation, save through the preachers and love-feasts of those societies. Of course a plate was laid ready for some lank pulpiteer at dinner, every day, and my cousins became thorough-paced swaddlers (singing excepted). But, as years would still roll on, and they could not be always swaddling, and saving their souls, some extra comfort was, as customary, found necessary for their languid hours. The maid of natural history therefore suggested that, as solid food and weak Bordeaux were not of the best efficacy for feeble appetites, which her mistresses were beginning to show symptoms of, a glass of cordial, now and then, in the morning, might restore the tone of their stomachs. Of consequence, a couple of liqueurbottles were prepared, and always properly replenished; the ladies found their liquid appetites daily increase: the preacher got the whole bottle of wine to himself; Lundyfoot’s most pungent was well crammed into my cousin’s nostrils, as an interlude, till snuffling was effected; and the matter went on as cheerily as possible between the dogs and cats, the preacher, snuff, and the cordial comforts, till an ill-natured dropsy, with tappings to match, sent my cousin Dolly to my uncle Stephen; and some other disorder having transmitted cousin Fanny the same journey to her mother, I anticipated very great satisfaction in opening the last will and testament of the survivor; whereupon, all things being regularly prepared, with an audible voice I read the first legacy, bequeathing ” her body to the dust, and her soul to God,” in most pious and pathetic expressions, and of considerable longitude. The second legacy ran: “Item—to my dear cousin, Jonah Barrington, I bequeath my mother’s wedding-ring and my father’s gold sleeve-buttons, as family keepsakes; also all my father’s books and papers of every description, except bonds, or any securities for money, or contracts ;” and so far looked favourable, till, casting my eye over the third legacy, to the wonder of the company I stopped short, and handing it cautiously to the swaddling preacher (who was present), begged he would be so kind as to read it himself. This office he coyly accepted, and performed it in a drawling whine, and with heavy sighs, that made everybody laugh, except myself. In fine, cousin Fanny, after her ” soul to God, and her body to the dust” (the latter of which legacies she could not possibly avoid), as to all her worldly substance, etc., bequeathed it ” to such charitaUc purposes as her maid Mary might think proper, by and with the spiritual advice and assistance of that holy man, Mr. Clarke. This pious philosopher never changed a muscle at his good fortune. The will, indeed, could be no surprise either to him or Mrs. Mary. With the aid of the orator’s brother, who was an attorney (and got snacks), they had prepared it according to their

own satisfaction; and cousin Fanny executed it one evening, after her cordial and prayers had their full operation ; and, in a few days more, her disorder put a conclusive termination to any possibility of revoking it.

This affair had its sequel exactly as any rational person might have anticipated. The preacher and Mrs. Mary, after a decent mourning, united their spiritual and temporal concerns, and became flesh of the flesh and bone of the bone; in which happy state of husband and wife (which happy state they had been in many months before the ceremony was thought necessary) they remained nearly two years, when his reverence, happening to light on a younger and handsomer swaddler and legatee, after beating Mrs. Mary almost to a jelly, embarked with his new proselyte for America, where, changing his name, curling his hair, colouring his eyebrows, etc. etc., he turned Quaker, and is at this moment, I have learned, in good repute at meeting, and solvency as a trader, in the city of Philadelphia.

The entire of my uncle Stephen’s library and manuscripts, with the exception of the year-books, Newcastle on the Manege, seven farriery and several cookery books, I gave to my friend, old Lundyfoot, to envelop his powder in; and most of my books being well impregnated, or rather populously inhabited, by divers minute and nearly impalpable maggots, probably added some poignancy to the sneezing qualities of his celebrated preparation.

I recollect a whimsical expression used by Davy Lander, an Irish counsellor, whom I brought with me to hear the will read. “By my soul, Barrington,” said Lander, “she was right enough in bequeathing her soul to God, out of hand, or the devil would certainly have taken it as heir-at-law! But I hope he has the reversion.”

That branch of the Geraldines is now entirely extinct, having ended with my cousin Fanny, the swaddler; and nothing now remains but the old castle, its celebrated ivy tree, St. Bridget’s stone, and my legends, to preserve even the recollection of Morct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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