« AnteriorContinuar »
it becomes our duty to give our readers some account of it: in the first place, as a tale; and secondly, as a dissertation on the Irish character.
As a tale, we were at first inclined to think somewhat better of it than Mr. Parnell himself appears to do; but when we had made a little progress in the work those hopes vanished, and we were forced to acknowledge the impartiality and justice with which our Hibernian Brutus has condemned his own offspring.
Father O'Brian, the popish priest of Rahery, a barren little rock on the north coast of Ireland, narrates to his parishioners with becoming humility, that after a tolerably long ministry he discovered that he had no religion in his heart, but that' (about the period when the novel begins) • he began to change his vain, worldly, selfish, hard and proud temper into a tender and pious one; and that the first proof of this Christian change was resolving to take care of two orphans' (p. 25.) of one David O'Neal, a labourer in the parish who had died about a year before, leaving his children in the filth, poverty and desolation of the lowest order of the Irish peasantry—but the tardiness of this good priest's charity did no harm.
-The orphans, a boy rejoicing in the mellifluous name of Muircheartach (anglice, Maurice, we are told) and his sister Una (hibernice, Owna) aged about eleven and twelve, had already shown a vigour of character and good sense which would have appeared unnatural in children anywhere but in Ireland; the boy had already turned out of doors, bag and baggage, his surviving relations and friends who had disgusted, by their superstitions and vulgarity, this non non sine dîs animosus infans: and he and his sister,--though only day-labourers, the one earning thirteen and the other twopence per diem,-had discovered by the mere light of their own talents and taste, and had effected, upon the strength of the aforesaid fifteen-pence, such a pure system of religion and morals, such improveinents in agriculture and domestic economy, that the priest had really nothing to teach them, and, when he heard all their wonderful works, could only exclaim, with patriarchal pathos— God love
you, children-I never heard the like before !'-p, 30. In this Ultopian Utopia of Mr. Parnell every thing which use could require or taste wish for, was provided, down even to a fashionable accent. Mr. Parnell is well aware that a hero or heroine, with an Irish brogue, would be a monstrous solecism, and he accordingly represents his orphans as so very nice in the article of accent, that they are always mistaken for English!
Besides polishing his own and his sister's pronunciation, learning Greek and Latin from Father O'Brian, and all the mysteries of scientific horsemanship,' terre à terre, passades, courbettes, caprioles sur les voltes,' (p. 113.) from an old French book on the
manège, Maurice covtrived to work so adroitly as well as earnestly, that the young prodigies found themselves growing rich on their fifteen-pence a day—an advantage, however, which, with all their labour and economy, they could hardly have effected but by the most extraordinary abstinence: for, instead of revelling on potatoes and milk, as their fellow-peasants did, our orphans restricted themselves to tea and bread and butter for breakfast and supper; and cold meat for dinner.-p. 28.
A little foreign travel now becomes necessary to perfect the education of the sagacious Muircheartach and the beautiful Una, and accordingly they set out for London, (with an ample pecuniary provision for the expenses of the tour accumulated out of their savings.) Una is soon disposed of in London in the family of a noble lady, (Lady Macartney,) who wanted an intelligent and well-educated young woman as a companion, and who, of course, thought herself happily fitted in Una O'Neal,—though it must be confessed that Una's prime accomplishments, milking, churning, &c. (p. 48.) were as much thrown away on Lady Macartney, as poor La Fleur's talent of making spatterdashes upon Yorick.
All parties, as we may well believe, felicitate themselves on so happy and appropriate a disposal of Una; but Muircheartach, or Maurice as we shall henceforth (disregarding euphony) call him, is still more fortunate; he happens to fall in with a young English farmer of the name of John Headcroft, who shew's him how to manage a short-handled spade, which on Maurice's return to day-labour in Ireland, was as good as a mine of gold' to him; he also learned, in this same school, that if he mowed with a long-handled scythe he need not stoop so low as with a short-handled one; and he was gradually initiated into some of the more recondite mysteries of the art of mowing, such as, that damp grass is cut more easily than dry, and that it is less fatiguing to mow in the morning and evening, than under the meridian sun.
Lest our readers should suspect us of not having adequate authority for these important facts, we shall give the original account of the improvement imported into Ireland by Maurice, one of the few benefactors of that too-long-neglected and misgoverned country.
• Profit he did, and that forthwith. He had lived well while in Eng. land, and was in full strength and health. He immediately looked out for a job of task work, and as it was well known, that he would finish his work to perfection, equally as well by task as by day's work, he had his choice. His earnings were large, and his expense little, for he drank nothing but milk or water, and ate cold meat and bread. He lived alone, like a hermit, getting a neighbour's wife to buy his meaç
and boil it for him ; still as he earned his money, he laid it out in getting tools made after the English fashion He soon had a short handle spade and a broad shovel, and was secretly getting a plough, harrows, and a set of draining tools made, as he began to speculate on taking his land into his own hands, and managing it, as John Headcroft bad taught him. He waited impatiently till the mowing began, which was late in the country round about. Good mowers were, as usual, scarce, and the price enormous, five shillings an acre. Maurice contracted to mow so much, that every one supposed he meant to engage under-men to assist him; he set to work with a good scythe and a bent handle, so that he had no longer to mow with his chin almost on his knees, as bis neighbours did.
• Then, instead of working through the day as was the fashion of the country, under the hot sun, when the grass got dry and cut harsh and difficult, he began to mow with the first foot-fall of the morning, or, as was said, the middle of the night; in the middle of the day he lay down in the shade and slept, and began again in the cool of the evening, for he had learnt in England, not only what every man's sense would tell him, that he could work harder and pleasanter in the cool than in the heat; but that the grass cut twice as easy while
and wet with the dew. By this means Maurice did twice as much as the country mowers, with less fatigue than they had.
• To mowing succeeded a job of reaping and thrashing, and then a heavy piece of ditching, which turned out unusually profitable to him, from the use of his broad short handled spade. In truth, if Maurice did the work of four men, the spade did the work of two, for it dug and
the clay at once ; whereas a shoveller is always forced to attend the narrow fac to lift up all it' drops, which is half what it digs, then the shovel being worn and narrow, drops again half what it attempts to lift, and both fac-man and shovel-man, repugning to bend their backs, the day's work has very little to show for itself when it is ended.
*Thus earning much, and spending little, Maurice again grew rich.'pp. 78–82.
This is not the worst specimen of Mr. Parnell's style; and the reader has already anticipated us in pronouncing it to be a very fair imitation of the most approved models in Mr. Tabart's Lilliputian Library.' We could say much in praise of Mr. Parnell's choice but we must return to our tale.
In the intervals of mowing, reaping, and heavy pieces of ditching, Maurice found time to fall in love, and to learn French. Though Mr. Parnell did not originally intend to write a novel, yet there are certain stated forms of that admired species of composition with which he feels himself bound to comply.-One of the most recognized of them is, that the hero should save the heroine from sone imminent peril. There is a great diversity in the species of peril which authors have had red irse to for this purpose.
Sophia Western is thrown from her horse, Camilla is run away with in a phaeton, several Julias and Carolines bave been in peril of drowning from the up-setting of boats, and Lucy Aston and divers other young ladies have narrowly escaped being gored by a bull; but none of these predicaments would suit Mr. Parnell's purpose. Miss Berghetta O'Tual, (vulgarly Berrett Toole,) the widow Toole's daughter, had neither horse nor phaeton to run away with her, nor are there, we believe, any roads in Rahery upon which that exploit could be performed; the sea, to be sure, was open to
case of drowning, but Mr. Parnell had an absolute necessity to reserve this accident for an ulterior emergency; and bulls are not in Ireland objects of peculiar terror—all these, therefore, Mr. Parnell judiciously rejects, and with a simplicity which must delight the lover of real life, frightens his village heroine with the barking of a village dog.
• “ But how came you acquainted ?" said I, “ for she never sees any one in her mother's house, nor ever leaves it but to go to chapel, and then she draws her cloak over her face, and speaks to no man.
“Ah, father, when I first saw that pale (quere hale) and heavenly face, which was never uncovered but at her devotions, so gentle, so sweet, so pure! many ways I tried to accost her, but she heeded me not, but chance favoured me; as she was passing by a house, some dogs ran out and barked at her; and she has such an extreme terror of these cabin curs, that she screamed and began to run. I was never far from her on her return from chapel, and flew to her assistance. I dealt one of the dogs a blow with my stick, with such good will, that I laid him dead.-I then overtook Berghetta, who was so terrified, that she could scarcely stand, and was obliged to lean on my arm, and let me accompany her home. Yet in all other respects, she is a hale (quere pale) active girl ; and who milks a cow, or tends her dairy better? Her mother smiled on me when I brought her home, and I saw that my fortune was made.' -p-93, 94.
This interesting hale, pale, Berghetta, 'though obligated to milk cows,' was lineally descended from king O'Toole, who was formerly sovereign of that very county of which Mr. Parnell-quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore!—is now a simple knight of the shire Lan alliance with Maurice was, however, no degradation, even to the O'Tooles—Maurice himself being lineally descended from king O'Neal, sovereign of Tyrone, though' of all the property of his house he possessed nothing but a beautiful pedigree written in gold upon vellum, a mud cabin and a score of acres of hungry land.' p. 5.
The nuptials of these royal peasants were therefore celebrated, to the great joy of the two illustrious houses, and three children blest the happy union; one of these was a daughter, whom with that strict attention to bistorical accuracy and national feeling which distinguishes Mr. Parnell, he christens Geraldine, thereby in
timating that the Fitzgeralds, to whom the name of Geraldine is appropriate, were of the ancient houses of O'Neal or O'Toole.
And now, in the midst of all this happiness, the clouds of disappointment and sorrow appear. The widow Toole dies, and is carried two hundred miles to be buried in the tomb of king O'Toole, her ancestor. She is no sooner laid by the side of her progenitor, in the Re-feast or royal sepuchre of the Seven Churches, than her ghost appears to her daughter Berrett, who thereupon, without ailment or notice, dies, as the Americans express it, slick right away.'
Misfortunes never come alone--Maurice and the Priest had a common friend, an officer (he seemed to mortal eyes) in the Irish brigade, in the French service, but the gods, Father O'Brian, and Mr. Parnell, know him to be Hi Sullivan Bere, king of Kerry. Maurice had saved this young prince from drowning by the upsetting of his boat in Bantry bay, and of course became his devoted friend. The prince (or his father, the late king Sullivan) had lost a law-suit against one Squire Dale, which so exasperated the royal youth, that, about the time of Berrett's death, he came from France with Una, (both of course in love and plighted to each other,) with the poble design of raising a rebellion in Ireland, in the hopes of recovering by war the land which he had lost by law. Maurice and the Priest do not quite approve such proceedings, but as their friend is resolved upon having a little disturbance, they cousider it a point of honour to accompany him. On Hi Sullivan's arrival amongst bis clan, he assembles them for his patriotic enterprize; but while he is endeavouring, by Maurice's mediation, to extort from Mr. Dale 50001. on condition of suspending hostilities, the mob, not understanding such shilly-shally practices, set fire to the house (more hibernico) and burn Mr. and Mrs. Dale and all their family alive. Although this was a little mistake in which Hi Sullivan had no direct share, he having intended to commit high treason only, and not arson and murder, yet on the general evidence of the facts and the particular evidence of some false witnesses, who swore that he had actually ordered them to burn Mr. Dale's house, king Hi Sullivan was convicted and hanged, to the great sorrow and indignation of Maurice, Father O'Brian, and Mr. Parnell, who consider his punishment as a most brutal and infamous instance of the oppression of the Irish government.
This little accident renders a residence in Ireland not over agreeable to queen Una, who thereupon goes to Spain, where she is immediately introduced to their catholic majesties, who take her into great favour, and acknowledge at once, and without reference even to the Herald's College, her rank of princess. • “When we reached the circle where the queen sat, I made a slen