Слике страница
PDF
ePub

up the bank notes, which he had begun to reckon for the purchase money. “I beg your pardon, sir. If you knew the facts, you would excuse me. Why does not this rascal come up to be paid ?

The attorney, thunderstruck by this Hibernian impetuosity, had not yet found time to take his pen out of his month. As he sat transfixed in his armchair, O'Reilly ran to the head of the stairs, and called out in a stentorian voice, “ Here, you Mr. Owen ap Jones; come up and be paid off this instant, or you shall never be paid at all.

Up stairs hobbled the old schoolmaster, as fast as the gout and Welsh ale would let him.

“ Cot pless me, that voice," he began

“Where's your bond, sir ?” said the attorney.
“ Safe here, Cot be praised,” said the terrified

Jones, pulling out of his bosom, first a blue pocket-handkerchief, and then a tattered Welsh grammar, which O'Reilly kicked to the farther end of the room.

“ Here is my bond,” said he, “in the crammer,” which he gathered from the ground; then fumbling over the leaves, he at length unfolded the precious deposit.

O'Reilly saw the bond, seized it, looked at the sum, paid it into the attorney's hands, tore the seal from the bond ; then, without looking at old Jones, whom he dared not trust himself to speak to, he clapped his hat upon his head, and rushed out of the room. Arrived at the King's Bench prison, he hurried to the apartment where Edwards was confined.

Owen ap

[ocr errors]

The bolts flew back; for even the turnkeys seemed to catch our hero's enthusiasm.

Edwards, my dear boy ! how do you do? Here's a bond debt, justly due to you

for
my

education. O, never mind asking any unnecessary questions ; only just make haste out of this undeserved abode : our old rascal is paid off-Owen ap Jones, you

know.–Well, how the man stares! Why, now, will

you have the assurance to pretend to forget who I am ? and must I spake,continued he, assuming the tone of his childhood, “ and must I spake to you again in my ould Irish brogue before you will ricollict you own little Dominick ?"

When his friend Edwards was out of prison, and when our hero had leisure to look into business, he returned to the attorney, to see that Mr. Owen ap Jones had been legally satisfied.

“Sir," said the attorney, “ I have paid the plaintiff in this suit; and he is satisfied : but I must say,” added he, with a contemptuous smile, “that you Irish gentlemen are rather in too great a hurry in doing business : business, sir, is a thing that must be done slowly to be done well."

“ I am ready now to do business as slowly as you please ; but when my friend was in prison, I thought the quicker I did his business the better. Now tell me what mistake I have made, and I will rectify it instantly."

Instantly! 'Tis well, sir, with your promptitude, that you have to deal with what prejudice thinks uncommon-an honest attorney. Here are

[ocr errors]

some bank notes of yours, sir, amounting to a good round sum. You made a little blunder in this business: you left me the penalty, instead of the principal, of the bond-just twice as much as you should have done.”

“ Just twice as much as was in the bond, but not twice as much as I should have done, nor half as much as I should have done, in my opinion,” said O'Reilly ;

- but whatever I did was with my eyes open: I was persuaded you were an honest man ; in which

I was not mistaken; and as a man of business, I knew you would pay Jones only his due. The remainder of the money I meant, and mean, should lie in

your
hands for

my

friend Edwards's use. I feared he would not have taken it from

my

hands I therefore left it in

yours.
To have taken

my

friend out of prison merely to let him go back again to-day, for want of money to keep himself clear with the world, would have been a blunder indeed, but not an Irish blunder: our Irish blunders are never blunders of the heart.”

you see

3

CHAPTER V.

THE BLISS OF IGNORANCE.

No well-informed Englishman would laugh at the blunders of such a character as little Dominick ; but there are people who justify the assertion, that laughter always arises from a sense of real or imaginary superiority. Now if it be true, that laughter has its source in vanity, as the most ignorant are generally the most vain, they must enjoy this pleasure in its highest perfection. Unconscious of their own deficiencies, and consequently fearless of becoming in their turn the objects of ridicule, they enjoy in full security the delight of humbling their superiors. How much are they to be admired for the courage with which they apply, on all occasions, their test of truth! Wise men may be struck with admiration, respect, doubt, or humility ; but the ignorant, happily unconscious that they know nothing, can be checked in their merriment by no consideration, human or divine. Theirs is the sly sneer, the dry joke, and the horse laugh: theirs the comprehensive range of ridicule, which takes "

every creature in, of every kind.” No fastidious delicacy spoils their sports of fancy: though ten times told, the tale to them never can be tedious; though dull “ as the fat weed that grows on Lethe’s bank,” the jest for them has all the poignancy of satire : on the very offals, the garbage of wit, they can feed and batten. Happy they who can find in every jester the wit of Sterne or Swift ; who else can wade through hundreds of thickly printed pages to obtain for their reward such witticisms as the following :

“ Two Irishmen having travelled on foot from Chester to Barnet, were confoundedly tired and fatigued by their journey; and the more so when they were told that they had still about ten miles to go.

[ocr errors]

By my shoul and St. Patrick, cries one of them, • it is but five miles a-piece.""

Here, notwithstanding the promise of a jest held forth by the words, “ By my shoul and St. Patrick," we are ultimately cheated of our hopes. To the ignorant, indeed, the word of promise is kept to the mind as well as to the ear; but others perceive that, instead of a bull, they have only a piece of sentimental arithmetic, founded upon the elegant theorem, that friendship doubles all our pleasures, and divides all our pains.

We must not, from false delicacy to our countrymen, here omit a piece of advice to English retailers or inventors of Irish blunders. Let them beware of such prefatory exclamations as- By my shoul and St. Patrick ! By Jasus ! Arrah, honey! My dear joy!&c., because all such phrases, beside being absolutely out of date and fashion in Ireland, raise too high an expectation in the minds of a British audience, operating as much to the disadvantage of the story-teller as the dangerous exordium of—“ I'll tell you an excellent story;' an exordium ever to be avoided by all prudent wits.

Another caution should be given to well-meaning ignorance. Never produce that as an Irish bull for which any person of common literature can immediately supply a precedent from our best authors. Never be at the pains, for instance, of telling, from Joe Miller, a good story of an Irish sailor, who travelled with Captain Cook round the world, and

« ПретходнаНастави »