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between Mr. E. and Mr. M., about the boundaries of a farm, an old tenant of Mr. M.'s cut a sod from Mr. M.'s land, and inserted it in a spot prepared for its reception in Mr. E.'s land; so nicely was it inserted, that nú eye could detect the junction of the grass. The old man, who was to give his evidence as to the property, stood upon the inserted sod when the viewers came, and swore that the ground he then stood upon belonged to his landlord, Mr. M.
The editor had flattered himself that the ingenious contrivance which Thady records, and the similar subterfuge of this old Irishman in the dispute concerning boundaries, were instances of 'cuteness unparalleled in all but Irish story: an English friend, however, has just mortified the editor's national vanity by an account of the following custom, which prevails in part of Shropshire :-It is discreditable for women to appear abroad after the birth of their children till they have been churched. To avoid this reproach, and at the same time to enjoy the pleasure of gadding, whenever a woman goes abroad before she has been to church, she takes a tile from the roof of her house and puts it upon her head: wearing this panoply all the time she pays her visits, her conscience is perfectly at ease; for she can afterward safely declare to the clergyman that she “has never been from under her own roof till she came to be churched.”
Page 51. Carton, or half-carlon.—Thady means cartron, or half-cartron. " According to the old record in the black book of Dublin, a cantred is said to contain 30 villatas terras, which are also called quarters of land (quarterons, cartrons); every one of which quarters must contain so much ground as will pasture 400 cows, and 17 ploughlands. A knight's fee was composed of 8 hydes, which amount to 160 acres, and that is generally deemed about a ploughland."
The editor was favoured by a learned friend with the above extract from a MS. of Lord Totness in the Lanbeth library.
Page 65. Wake.-A wake in England means a festival held upon the anniversary of the saint of the parish. At these wakes rustic games, rustic conviviality, and rustic courtship are pursued with all the ardour and all the appetite which accompany such pleasures as occur but seldom. In Ireland a wake is a midnight meeting, held
professedly for the indulgence of holy sorrow, but usually it is converted into orgies of unholy joy. When an Irish man or woman of the lower order dies, the straw which composed his bed, whether it has been contained in a bag to form a mattress or simply spread upon the earthen floor, is immediately taken out of the house, and burned before the cabin door, the family at the same time setting up the death-howl. The ears and eyes of the neighbours being thus alarmed, they flock to the house of the deceased, and by their vociferous sympathy excite and at the same time sooth the sorrows of the family.
It is curious to observe how good and bad are mingled in human institutions. In countries which were thinly inhabited, this custom prevented private attempts against the lives of individuals, and formed a kind of coroner's inquest upon the body which had recently expired, and burning the straw upon which the sick man lay became a simple preservative against infection. At night the dead body is waked, that is to say, all the friends and neighbours of the deceased collect in a barn or stable, where the corpse is laid upon some boards, or an unhinged door, supported upon stools, the face exposed, the rest of the body covered with a white sheet. Round the body are stuck in brass candlesticks, which have been borrowed perhaps at five miles' distance, as many candles as the poor person can beg or borrow, observing always to have an odd number. Pipes and tobacco are first distributed, and then, according to the ability of the deceased, cakes and ale, and sometimes whiskey, are dealt to the company:
“Deal on, deal on, my merry men all,
Deal on your cakes and your wine,
shall be dealt to-morrow at mine." After a fit of universal sorrow, and the comfort of a universal dram, the scandal of the neighbourhood, as in higher circles, occupies the company. The young lads and lasses romp with one another, and when the fathers and mothers are at last overcome with sleep and whiskey (vino et somno), the youth become more enterprising, and are frequently successful. It is said that more matches are made at wakes than at weddings.
Page 68. Kilt.-This word frequently occurs in the preceding pages, where it means, not killed, but much hurt. In Ireland, not only cowards, but the brave, “die many times before their death.”—There killing is no murder.
ESSAY ON IRISH BULLS.
Summos posse viros, et magna exempla daturos,
What mortal, what fashionable mortal, is there who has not, in the midst of a formidable circle, been reduced to the embarrassment of having nothing to say? Who is there that has not felt those oppressive fits of silence which ensue after the weather, and the fashions, and the politics, and the scandal, and all the commonplace topics of the day have been utterly exhausted? Who is there that, at such a time, has not tried in vain to call up an idea, and found that none would come when they did call, or that all that came were impertinent, and must be rejected, some as too grave, others too gay, some too vulgar, some too refined for the hearers, some relating to persons, others to circumstances, that must not be mentioned ? Not one will do! and all this time the silence lasts, and the difficulty of breaking it increases every instant in an incalculable proportion.
Let it be some comfort to those whose polite sensibility has laboured under such distress to be assured that they need never henceforward fear to be reduced to similar dilemmas. They may be ensured for ever against such dangers at the slight premium and upon the easy condition of perusing the following little volume. It will satisfy them that there is a subject which still affords inexhausted and inexhaustible sources of conversation, suited to all tastes, all ranks, all individuals, democratic, aristocratic, commercial, or philosophic; suited to every company which can be combined, purposely or fortuitously, in this great metropolis, or in any of the most remote parts of England, Wales, or Scotland. There is a subject which dilates the heart of every true Briton, which relaxes his muscles, however rigid, to a smile,—which opens his lips, however closed, to conversation. There is a subject