« AnteriorContinuar »
s him—he confessed most freely to all around, that he had murdered “ the child, Mary Albert whom he adored.—But it was not the infant “ who was his intended victim,—Sarah Longman, a girl to whom he had “ been attached, was the person whose life he had intended to take. “ She had disappointed him, and he prepared the knife to kill her. “ The devil however tempted him to act otherwise, and while he held the “ child in his arms, he thus reasoned with himself-If I kill Sarah Long“ man, she will have much sin to answer for,- but if I merely kill the “ child, the crime will not be so great, as she must be innocent. He “ instantly resolved upon the act and did it.” This is one of many melancholy crimes, perpetrated under the influence of that mental hallucination, which arises from an ill-directed and over excited religious enthusiasm. A court of justice however did not consider his being a Fanatic sufficient palliation for murder—he was tried, found guilty, condemned and executed. Mr. Combe avails himself of this case to sketch the program of an interesting drama, as performed upon the stage of Dean's skull, by certain little puppets called " mental organs."
“Disappointment in love, appears to have produced diseased action in the organs of amativeness philoprogenitiveness and adhesivness, which soon extended itself to the whole brain, and then, the different mental faculties are perceived acting like so many automata, when their different organs happen to be excited by external objects. Amativeness excited destructiveness and he first resolved to kill Sarah Longman ;-the little child, however, fell accidentally fell in his way, and stimulated philoprogenitweness,—he then bought apples for the child, and bestowed on it the warmest caresses. Destructiveness however, again came into play, and a kind of random gleam from benevolence and veneration, at the same time suggested, that if he murdered Sarah Longman, her eternal welfare might be endangered, and then, under an entire absence of intellectual perception, he murdered the child, whom moment before he had cherished. No sooner was destructiveness gratified, than benevolence and veneration started vividly into action. Overwhelmed with remorse, he was prompted by venerution to enter a chapel ;--- the impulse of the higher faculties were so much reinforced by the sermon there heard, that he hastened to the watchhouse, and gave himself up to the law. In prison, the temptations to indulge his lower propensities were withdrawn; luis higher sentiments were cherished by the benevolence and piety of the chaplain and other individuals who visited him ; they then blazed forth in a state of insane inspiration ; and in this condition, the miserable being was launched into eternity, by the hands of the public executioner,”
It is not for us to determine, whether it be just or not to inflict capital punishment upon an individual, for a crime committed when not perfectly sane.-Dean was evidently mad, and his insanity did not need the dictum of a Phrenologist to be manifest. But Mr. Combe is not satisfied with the display of his Dramatic powers. He endeavours also to combine the gravity and wisdom of a legislator, with the profound and benevolent sagacity of a physician." Such a spectacle makes one blush for “ the administration of English criminal law, and excites a deep feeling “ of regret, that the conductors of the public press, should in 1815, have s considered it their duty to load with abuse, a system of philosophy, “ which, had they then proclaimed its true nature, might, in 1819 have “ saved this wretch from the gallows and sent him, more appropriately to “ a lunatic Asylum-no person, in the least degree conversant with the “ Phrenological theory of mind, could possibly have consented to the “ execution of a man so evidently insane.”—Here we are at a loss which to admire most, his philanthropy or his humility-he modestly tells us, that had his system of philosophy been adopted as the law, all the evils attendant upon the errors of judicial authority, would have been happily averted. Unfortunately however, very little wisilom indeed governs this world, and we fear Mr. Combe must continue to lament, that his dearly beloved doctrines of Phrenology, are not yet incorporated with the Statutes, and that men still exist, who are wicked enough not to praise them. 7
Whoever wishes to know the peasantry of Ireland, in their genuine and unmixed state, should visit them in their fastnesses, amongst the mountains which extend along the western coasts from Bantry to the Shannon, and from that river northward to Sligo. The lapse of centuries, and the progress of civility, seem to have operated but little in those seldom visited regions, while the effects of English connection are not very prominently visible, their martial spirit it is true is broken and subduer, their existence no longer depends on successful descents on the plain country, or extensive creaghs, for they have been compelled to look to their own flocks, and the produce of their cultivated lands, for a subsistence obtained with less danger and adventure and more certainty; but in all other respects their habits and manners are little changed, they seem to be in the primitive state of their fathers
-ere polity sedate and sage
“ Had quenched the fire of the feudal age" full of the old national peculiarities, retaining their ancient language faith-most of the primitive customs, and mode of thinking. - They may now be viewed as the broken reliques of the bold and enterprising clans, which in the middle ages occupied those strong-holds of freedom, The painter of national manners, or of natural scenery would here find ample materials for his subject, a people, honest, hospitable, generous, and warm hearted,--scenes of calm beauty, or majestic grandeur, wooded isles, and meads of bright and luxurient verdure, rushing torrents, peaks and precipices and purple hills, sublime in rock and cliff, exercising their influence over the imagination. It is emphatically “a land renowned in monuments of Eld' covered with the remains of past ages, the ivied tower, the feudal castle, the venerable abbey“ where ruin greenly dwells” the lofty cairn, the hallowed circle, and the stone of power,” at every step objects belonging to other days arise, so many tell tales of ancient glory, chivalry and sanctity, with all their recollections about them " which like a trumpet make the spirit dance."
Happening some time since to be on a visit to a friend in the neighbourhood of that part of what I shall call our Munster highlands, which forms a boundary between Kerry, Cork, and Limerick, I spent a considerable share of my time in visiting that portion of the Country, and I had constant opportunity of mixing and becoming acquainted with the people, spending days and weeks upon the mountains, whose numerous glens and hollows I have repeatedly traversed, and whatever might have been my predilection for a city life, I must confess that I should return again with pleasure, to the scenes and the enjoyment of those secluded regions, I have partaken with their inhabitants of their sports and their amusements,—seen them in the wild revelry of the fair, the pattern and the marriage feast, or joined with them to celebrate the mystic rites of their ·annual festivals of the eves of May and Mid-summer and of Hallow E'en-I have enjoyed their winter's fire side, listened to the “Tale, Ro
mance and Lay,” in truth I have seen them in their joys and their griefs, their smiles and their tears, and watched con amore the traits of their character as they appeared in those varying scenes. But of all the occasions on which, I conceive, the native character is most amply displayed, with all its peculiarities, its points of humour, and the full developement of the heterogenous mixture of feelings, disposition and passion which constitute it, the Wake affords the best and most general specimens.-It js not at Donnybrook, it is at the Wake, that the Irishman is all in his glory, there the gaiety and gravity, the tenderness and the wild ungovern, able uproariousness of his character are pre-eminently displayed, softened to sorrow, now maddened” by whiskey and fun, in the full noon of his extravagance and his folly, he is the devil of an Irishman. At throwing the slipper, or profound swoops of the “ mountain dew," at pouring out in impassioned glances—in warm pressures and words that burn, the full tide of his love, or rushing with headlong recklessness into the midst of the conflict of shillelas, “ as faithful in love as he's gallant in war”—at the tale where the most grotesque imagination, aided by words and expressions of the richest tones and copious fluency holds ungovernable sway, or, enacting the patient and willing listener, his judgment all surrendered, all his fears, or his passions wrought on, he is unequalled by the native of any other clime at this side of Pelion and Ossa. I remember being at one of those Wakes, the season was winter, the deceased was the wife of a wealthy farmer (whose hospitality and convivial habits had won him golden opinions in his native glens) her death was under circumstances strongly connected with the superstitions of the people, and her wake naturally drew together a large concourse, the causes of her decease and the supernatural agency by which it was accomplished, and of which I had heard some vague hints, which only the more excited my inclination, to hear the circumstances in detail, I conceived would there receive the fullest discussion amongst the gossips, the crones and the curious of both sexes who would be there brought together, I availed myself of the opportunity of an offer to repair thither, with some equally curious members of our domestic circle--the preparations for the reception of the sorrowing guests, were commensurate to the means of the substantial farmer, and to the number of mourning friends who were expected to attend, strong porter was procured by boat from Limerick-the afflicted spouse himself, aided by the nature of the topography of his demesnes, had contrived to have in readiness a reasonable sufficiency of the mountain dew, from his own secret still up the glen, wherewith he was enabled 10 regale all commers and goers, to the farthest extent of their wishes and capacities. Every apartment in his abode was fitted up with forms and other seats for the reception of the numerous visitors, and lest all might not be accommodated, the barns and out-bouses were strewed with clean straw for the more hunible part of the friends and followers of his house, who, no matter whether inspired by grief, or attracted by the good cheer, (opined with much correctness, to await and reward their attendance) were certain to repair to the house of mourning.
At the approach of twilight, the candles set apart for watching the dead, were lighted up beside the bed whereon the body lay, and gradually the different apartments were filling with the bearers of tristful countenances, whose trusty organs of smell, had unerringly scented out the grateful fumes of the porter, potheen and tobacco, laid up for them in rich store. And for
some time a sober silence and attention prevailed amongst them, attention being wrapped up in the solemn and plaintive chaunts of a band of professional keepers-a tribe who
“ live upon the dead
To mimic sorrow when the heart's not sad." amongst whom an evident competition existed, as to who should in more pathetic cadences and prolonged notes, excite the envied approval of the mute, though in such things, very critical auditory around -each newly entered matron as she approached the bier, instigated by pristine reininiscences, discharged herself of an Eloge funebre—full of figure and metaphor, eulogy and lamentation, according to ancient and approved nsage, over the body of the deceased, which having done, the full chorus of professional keeners relieved her from further exertion in the cause of sorrow. Thus the early hours passed away-visitor crowded in on the heels of visitor, old and young were huddling together—and the dun clouds of tobacco smoke, began to ascend and to spread abroad a fragrant odour, which even the poultry in the hen-roost seemed to enjoy, by their movements on the first approach of the grateful incense,—groups were gradually forming among the earlier arrivals, and a few mumbling articulations in the way of greetings, enquiries, &c. helped out the brief intervals of discharging the ashes or filling the dudeens &c. But time flies as we are informed on some antiquated town clocks—clocks too often unfaithful in their indications of the progress of that ruthless mower.—Time ftew, and the glorious moment arrived, when even those farthest removed from the great store-room—the repository of all that was to counteract the melancholy of the cause of their assembling, could perceive “the fair sunny vision” of a large jappaned goblet as it hastened towards the darkly bearded mouth (all gaping to receive it) of a horn fisted spalpeen, whose good genius had placed him near the oft eyed portal of that abounding cellar, a hundred eyes at once, glance towards the long wished for object, the pipes by simultaneous movement, descend from their dented perches, in order that no cloud might intervene to obscure the opening prospect :-a weary religionist in the character of a pilgrim, who had placed himself in a warm corner within the ample hearth, at the sight, involuntarily grasped his staff with redoubled ardour, and once again to his imagination were represented all the scenes and visions of the recently visited purgatory of St. Patrick, in Lough Dearg, while his tongue waxed garulous, and he fain would describe them over again to all who would considerately lend him an hearing—the countenance of the time and weather broken remains of a pensioned tar who had returned to his native mountains, after years of strife were over, blind of his larboard eye, brightened as the glad tidings were whispered in his ear by the parish tailor, while the near approach of a barefooted ganymede with a sparkling horn of the exhilirating beverage, half filled with inspiration the Philomath of said parish. Words scarcely utterable by any human tongue but his own, ran through a hasty concoction previous to his essaying to thunder them out, on the ears of the surrounding rustics, whose familiarity begotten in the self sufficiency inspired by the vapours of their dudes, this master of the birch thought it now high time to check by one or more masterly sentences, composed of words of learned length and thundering sound.” In sooth, tongues were now unloosed that before only broke silence