Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

large octavo, with a preliminary dis- Lest it might be supposed, however, sertation upon the times in which he that the word “gentleman,” or, as lived, also, his washerwoman's bills many poets write, "jintleman," was to (unpaid), for several years, and an ap- be construed to imply aristocratic pendix of original letters, “now first birth merely, not gentleman-like concollected, and never before published.” duct—the poet describes epithetically The native brass of the autobiographer the class of society from which the is transferred in the line manner unto Saint derives his origin, thusthe copper of the engraver, and is ex

“ And come of ducent people," hibited in volume first, “ to face the title.”—Volume second is sure to be the adjective denoting a large and most decorated with a map of his travels, or respectable class of small proprietors, a perspective view of the house in with unimpeachable characters, inwbich his grandmother sold tobacco cluding, among others, publicans, and groceries. There is no doubt of tanners, struggling farmers, butterplenty of “filling up stuff," in the buyers, and pig-jobbers. But the shape of dedication, preface, index, poet's anxiety to vindicate the geneaand annotations, each successive anno- logy of his hero does not end here, tator giving his predecessor the lie for, after a couplet devoted to the direct, as usual, if you observe, in the Saint's performances, performances of these learned eluci. “ He built a church in Dublin town, dators. Now, I scorn this beaten And on it stuck a steeple track of autobiography ; and therefore the pedigree is given with that faiththank your stars, gentlemen, that I ful minuteness, peculiarly the charinflict upon you neither plate nor

acteristic of the ancient bards or seamap, washerwomen's bills, nor letters

nachies-bitherto unpublished, but a plain

“ His father was a Hooligan, honest, straightforward account of my

His mother was a Brady, adventures, which, if ever you have

His aunt was one O'Brallighan, the luck to see in print, there is no

And his wet-nurse Widow Grady." occasion to call at the trunkmakers.Not a bit of it-you shall see me, sir,

In the celebrated performance at. not dressed up in the vain, transitory tributed to Mogh. Nuad, the court typographical fashion of the day, but bard of the Royal Irish House of Conushered into the literary republic in ary, but which Counsellor O’Rubmanner and form prescribed by im- bishy has, with success, fastened upmemorial usage of the incomparable

à monk of the eighth century, Maga, from whose columns, more im.

named Cataldus Tiraboschi, who, my perishable than basalt, these my lu- life for yours, will never deny the cubrations will be transferred into the fact, we have the following passage:tablets of the brains of residents in “ MacCluskey too, Iceland, and residents in Timbuctoo, Good manners knew; by the light of fish-oil lamps, and tro- For though he was'nt richpical suns, aye, and be thundered with He called himself a jintleman, extasy by the British Consul at Moga

And still behaved as sich.dore, and the Company's Superintend- Thus, to the truth of the assertion, ent in Japan.

that in Ireland every man is a "jinI am a gentleman born.- In Ire- tleman,” or a “gentleman," whichiland, I need not tell you, gentlemen, ever orthography you prefer, antiquiwe are all gentlemen born—the epic ty lends her sanction, nor does the con. poem attributed erroneously to Tur- temporary age refuse its authority. glesius, and which Counsellor O’Rub. If you detect a juvenile pickpocket bishy declares was translated by Te- in the act of “prigging” your pocketgernach-but I defy him to prove it- book, and seize him by the collar, he the opening stanza descants upon the indignantly repels your grasp, and inpedigree of Saint Patrick, whose very forms you that he is ready to walk as existence has been denied by Leland- far as the police office, but expects to but no matter for that_nay, the open- be treated“ like a gentleman"_the ing line—the arma virumque ca- porter who is employed to carry your no,"_is devoted to transmitting to luggage, is very sorry that he is becountless ages the information that spoke, but in less than no time at all

“ Saint Patrick was a gintleman." will send your honour another gentle

on

man—the hackney-coachman,to whose number one, he used to say invariably, demand of thrice his lawful fare you was the first law of nature-it no less are inclined to demur, winds up his gave a fine edge to an intellect naturtornado of imprecations, with a thun- ally dull and obtuse, and quickened a dering crack of his whip, and a polite little leaden eye into all the liveliness intimation to the by-standers, that of precocious avarice. He wrote a good "you are a scaly blackguard," and hand, ciphered tolerably, and his holi“no gentleman."

days, when he had them, were spent at Miss Edgeworth divides Irish gen- an auction room, the weighhouse, or, tlemen into three great classes—“the what heliked better than both, a sherift“s half-mounted gentleman," “ the gen. sale. His earliest occupation was as tleman every inch of him ;" and third- “inventory-man," and when a decease ly and lastly, the “gentleman to the or a distress was in the wind, Little Joey, back-bone. The only defect of this for Joey, gentlemen, was my grandclassification is, that the examination father's name, flitted here and there, of these several grand classes is not with the animation of a grasshopper, followed up by a sufficient detail of an ink-horn pendant from his buttonthe sub-genera or species. For exam- hole, and a quill projecting behind his ple, as regards birth merely, the "ould right ear, the impersonification to the stockhave indisputable pretensions life of an embryo pettifogger. He was to pre-eminence ; next to them the faithful to an excess, in all instances real bloods" are in highest estima- wherein there was no safe opportunity tion; in politics, we have the “true to cheat on his own account, and had a blues," and not less in public regard, good word for everybody, except where “the right sort,” while equivocal pre- he knew a bad one would serve his tenders to gentility are stigmatized by turn. Subservient and sycophantic, but the derogatory epithets of “ginger- withal as vindictive as a tiger, he never bread gents," « dunghill cocks," showed his teeth but when he knew “ mushrooms,” and “ fagots.” I he could bite, nor ever bit without was born, then, a gentleman—but I being sure of bringing away the piece must needs confess I am the first of -at the same time he could take cold our family whose pretensions to gen- potatoes, buttons, half. pence, or kicks, tle blood were unquestioned, my fa- of which last he had in his youth an ther's progenitor being unable to trace abundant variety, without any ostenhis pedigree in the ascending, de- sible emotion, reserving for himself scending, collateral, or indeed, in any his right to settle the account with other line.

mankind, when he should be in a conIn short, gentlemen, my grandfa- dition to strike a balance in his own ther never had any father-nor for favour. that matter, any mother either, for Strange enough that one who stood he was discovered on a cobbler's bulk, with his fellow men in such a position, in a state of primitive innocence and that it is difiicult to say whether they nudity, and was spoon-fed into a hap- feared or hated him most, should be. py maturity, an out-pensioner of the come a rising and a prosperous man ; Hôpital des Enfans 'Trouvés, or in but so it was with Joey, who was emthe vernacular of the lawfully-wedded ployed indiscriminately by all the gossips of the neighbourhood," the rogues who were anxious to cheat, and brat-house.” This was often heard by the honest poor devils who were to fall indirectly from his own lips, afraid of being cheated.

Nothing which were seldom opened without a presented itself amiss to my grandpious ejaculation of thanksgiving that father that smacked of money-makhe “had never refused to assist his ing: rebellion itself became palatable kinsmen in distress;" a piece of self- to him ; for, although he declined the gratulation he might have sworn to honour of fighting the royal forces with a clear conscience.

in the capacity of general of the If the discipline of the Foundling United Irishmen, he jumped at the Hospital, and the subsequent expe- offer of being cashier and treasurer of rience of a charity school, produced in a district, and on the eve of the outmy grandfather å premature ossifica- break ran away to Dublin with his tion of the heart, in all that related to military chest, to which he contrived any other numeral than that express. to unite a very handsome sum in the ed by the integral quantity or unit, nature of blood-money, by giving information to the Government of the pulsion of poor tenantry, contributed whereabouts of his old colleagues in more to emigration in his time, than the insurrection, by which timely as- the Canada Land Company, or the sistance, several of the “ generals,” Australian Commissioners. To “cap who, to do them justice, were as the climax," my grandfather united cowardly in the field as their treasurer his fortunes to those of a lady in the was faithless in the cabinet, were, after next county town, who had acquired leading their unhappy followers to de. a reputation for amiability, beauty, feat and death, conducted to the gal virtue, and, what weighed not a little lows, being pulled out by the tail from in my grandfather's estimation, fortune, the pig-sties in which they had con- without any real pretensions to these cealed themselves, or extracted with very desirable qualifications, by the pitchforks from beneath greater dung. simple operation of keeping her carhills than themselves.

riage. Nature had been by no means When the rebellion was extinguish- bountiful to her, fortune had gone ed, and all hostile operations, as well rather against her_but with a stroke as the greater number of the “gene- of genius peculiar to her sex, and a rals," suspended, my grandfather made deep knowledge of the people among his appearance once more in the whom she lived, she boldly attempted, country, in the novel character of and attempted with success, to retrieve captain of a yeomanry corps, in which her ground by the daring stroke of setdistinguished arm of the service, it is ting up a carriage. A few paternal incredible the number of sides of salt acres afforded her the means of feedbeef and flitehes of bacon he succeeded ing a couple of half-bred cattle, for in capturing, and the multitudes of the purpose of propelling a genteel turkey-cocks, geese, ducks, and fine yellow post-chaise, which was driven peasantry he put to the sword. Per. by an active postilion, in a frieze haps no other country in the world can jacket and buckskins, the only male match Ireland in the concentration, attendant she possessed-a little girl (which, begging your pardon, Mistress who served for her food and clothes, Martineau, is the antagonist expres- being her sole household domestic. sion to division of labour) in one and in all that related to appearances, my the same individual: my grandfather, grandmother that was to be, was in addition to his military avocations pulous to an excess her hall door in the yeomanry, as aforesaid, united was painted once every year, and in his own proper person the various every year of a new colour - her and apparently incompatible functions window-curtains were of the best of sub-agent to an absentee proprietor, Howered moreen, and her neat muscollector of county cess for the barony, lin blinds were taken down and relay impropriator, hotel-keeper, grain newed every Monday morning. She merchant, miller, master extraordinary dined on half a salt herring and potain Chancery, and “ land-shark.” The toes, or a sausage made with her own last occupation he pursued with extra- hands, and laid out every penny at her ordinary energy and success he would disposal on her carriage, her carriage bid for any quantity of arable, town horses, and her carriage dress - no park pasture, or turbary, over the head living soulever darkened her door as a of the occupying tenant, without re- visitant. But what of that? not an asmorse, and, as he was known to be piring young maiden in the place who solvent, usually commanded a prefe- was not ambitious of riding, even by inrence. If, however, the landlord vitation, in a carriage, until the happy happened to be a humane man, or opportunity might arrive when she demurred at turning out an old occu- would ride in a carriage of her own. pier, my grandfather would tempt his The mothers were delighted to have avarice by the offer to take it as yearly a carriage drawn up at their doors, tenant, at fifty per cent above the pre- and the fathers fatigued their wives sent rent, and at the year's end would and daughters with injunctions to conthreaten to throw it up if he did not ciliate such a very fine woman, unexget an abatement to something less ceptionable acquaintance, good family, than any other solvent tenant would who kept her carriage. give ; so that at last he became lessee Nobody hated her but the poor, and of a whole country side, and by the ex- nobody cares who the poor bate; she

ru

[ocr errors]

But per

must be a charitable woman no doubt, self, and became not a little reconfor “ she kept her carriage"-rich, ciled, after the first burst of disappointfor “ she kept her carriage"_virtu- ment, to find that his helpmate was ous, for she came to church every fine as mean, hypocritical, stingy, tricky, Sunday, and drove away in “her car- and as contemptible as himself. – riage.

They worked together like lock and In short, the bait was well chosen key, and were in the fair way to and dexterously played. The car- amass a very considerable fortune, riage, set up in a fit of poverty and being, in process of time, congratulavanity, became in time to be looked ted by each other,-for they had nei. upon as an undubitable proof of riches therneighbours, friends, nor acquaintand respectability, and the meanness ances to wish them joy,--in the posthat enabled the owner to maintain it session of two fine boys to inherit the was not known, because, unlike the fruits of their joint stinginess and racarriage, it was not seen; so that pacity. This, probably, the young when my grandfather swallowed the gentlemen might, in the fulness of hook and proposed for the lady, the years, have arrived at, but for a slight wonder of the whole country town accident which happened to one of and the whole country side was, not them, whereby the prosperous curthat my grandfather took her, but rent of our family was totally chanthat she took him!

ged, and their fair prospect of arriving The last act of my grandmother's at worldly distinction clouded for maiden existence was worthy of her ever. To say that my grandfather was character and talents. She had taken disliked, would be to say nothing ; he in the old hunks, but was determined was hated, gentlemen, with a hate surthat nobody but himself should know passing the hate of woman. it; accordingly, having dressed for haps you may form a better idea of church in a bridal costume of great the estimation in which he was held, splendour, she went out to the rear of by a billet-doux found under his hallher premises, and set fire with her own door, and which to this day is indehand to a pile of matrasses, old chairs, libly impressed on my memory. The tables, and the whole irremoveable superscription ran thus-—“ To Bloody trumpery of her establishment—her old Joe," and the contents as follow: flowered moreen curtains and muslin “ Take notis, your grave is dig, an' blinds were packed up with two band- get cofen for yerseLF-JOEY you are boxes and an imperial, containing the DEAD an' berrid this nite week, So whole of her personal paraphernalia, no more at prisent. and placed behind her carriage, into

CAPTEN Rock." which she inserted herself, having the This polite intimation was accomstreet-door key in her pocket, and in panied with sundry hieroglyphies, in this order proceeded to be married. which Champollion would probably When the ceremonywas completed, my discover some lines indicative of the new grandmotherdrove home withJoey coffin which my grandfather was in. for the last time of driving “ in her vited to prepare, as well as certain carriage," the vehicle, horses, and har- characters emblematic of a death's ness, having been disposed of a fort- head and cross-bones, to which condinight before, the proceeds being con- tion it was the evident intention of the verted into the bridal costume afore. writer to reduce the cranium and fesaid, which, together with the two mora of the poor unfortunate “landband-boxes, the imperial, the flowered shark." Any doubt that might have moreen window-curtains, and muslin remained of the sincerity of Captain blinds, comprised, as Joey too soon dis- Rock’s intentions was dispelled by an covered, the whole amount of my apparition visible before the door next grandmother's real and personal pro- morning, in the shape of a newly dug perty, goods, chattels, and assets ; or, grave, wherein reposed a dead dog, as as a modern Joey of no mean celebrity, « locum tenens" of the intended per“ him of Kilkenny,” would elegantly manent

tenant, the devoted Joey aforeterm it, “ her tottle."

said. Now, all these manifestations However deeply my grandfather of Captain Rock, Joey treated with felt his pecuniary deficit, he was wise some degree of contempt which was enough to keep his vexation to him- by no means justified in the issue ; but as my grandfather was in the habit of and swamps like a hunted leveret, and receiving a notification to prepare his how at last, when his little horse had coffin at least once every quarter, or spent all its force and came down four times per annum, which prepar- upon its knees, he awaited his puration would have put him to great suers manfully, and demanded to unnecessary expense, besides leaving know " what injury he had ever done the second-hand coffins on his hands, them?" how, after loudly recommendJoey, wisely considering that he could ing several times his soul to God, he die like other gentlemen but once in stood before his prostrate favourite his life, postponed indefinitely the and fought hardly for his life, and manufacture of his wooden surtout, how at last (for all this came out upon and, in the full confidence of finding no the trial of his assassins) bis skull was immediate occasion for it, confined his dashed into a thousand pieces, and his defensive operations to the purchase of murderers returned to refresh thema large quantity of hand-grenades for selves at the cabin whose inmates a house use, and a brace of double-bar- few hours before had tasted, and prayrelled pistols, which he carried con- ed the blessings of Heaven upon, his tinually about his person. My grand- benevolence. father, as I told you, gentlemen, had The unfortunate old man, returning two sons, the eldest an humble, pious, home the following day with the manand sincere young man, who rather gled remains of his hapless son, thus chose to spend his time idly than to vicariously butchered for his father's follow at his father's heels in the sins, found his house, his stack-yard, career of desperate rapacity that cha- and his offices, in flames--all that he racterized the old gentleman; he was had amassed for a series of years from good to the poor, humane and gene- out the subsistence of the widow and rous, which I only mention to show the orphan--all that he had grubbed that if he had lived he would have been together under the pressure of popular poor himself-his only extravagance hatred and amid the muttered curses was the indulgence of a pony to carry of his fellow-men-bis dearly-loved him to the neighbouring hills on an strong-box, with its treasures of gold occasional snipe-shooting excursion. and silver, its sheaves of bank-notes, You may judge, then, of the surprise its title-deeds, mortgages, bonds, judg: and horror of his parents, who loved ments, promissory-notes, acknowledghim, to do them justice, next to their ments, I O U's-all, all involved in strong-box, on having the intelligence one hopeless and unpitied conflagraconveyed to them about nine o'clock tion! at night, that their brave son lay but- The whole country side gathered chered among the hills, having been round about the flames, and, although fairly hunted to death by a band of they refrained from openly insulting hired assassins, who had lain in am. the man upon whose grey head such buscade for his father a whole week, an avalanche of sorrow had descendand, failing to destroy him, had pur- ed, it was but too plain, from their resued his innocent son to the mountains, fusal to lend a hand, and from their and slaked their murderous thirsti- listless complacency, that they regardness in his blood. I recollect, as it ed the fire and the murder as judgwere yesterday, the thrill that ran to ments from Heaven upon a man who the tip of every bair upon my boyish had spared no pains to call them down head, and the jangling of every nerve upon his devoted head. within my frame, when my father re. From this day to the day of his lated the minutiæ of this worse than death, which was not long deferred, cannibal atrocity,-how the youth was the old man never raised his head ;pursuing his innocent sport upon the he looked upon himself as the murhills, how that he had called at a cabin derer of his child, and knew but too with a bottle of wine which he had well that to his cruel rapacity was purloined from his father's cellar solely to be ascribed the horrible re(pious theft!), for a poor woman near venge which prompted the murder of her down-lying ; how that a group of an innocent youth, from no other mofellows fired several shots at him, how tive, as the approver swore, while a that he pushed his little pony to its thrill of horror and a deep groan of utmost speed, how the assassins winded lamentation over human nature perand doubled him through the mosses vaded the crowded court, than because

« AnteriorContinuar »