Слике страница

bates. Undoubtedly such phrases tend to lessen the power of shame and the effect of punishment, and a witty rogue will lead numbers to the gallows. English morality is not in so much danger as Irish manners must be from these humorous talents in their knights of industry. If, nevertheless, there be frequent executions for capital crimes in England, we must account for this in the words of the old lord chief justice Fortescue—“More men,” says his lordship, “are hanged in Englonde in one year then in Fraunce in seven, because the English have better hartes ; the Scotchmenne likewise never dare rob, but only commit larcenies.” At all events, the phlegmatic temper of Englonde secures her from making bulls. The

propensity to this species of blunder exists in minds of a totally different cast ; in those who are quick and enthusiastic, who are confounded by the rapidity and force with which undisciplined multitudes of ideas crowd for utterance. Persons of such intellectual characters are apt to make elisions in speaking which, they trust, the capacities of their audience will supply: passing rapidly over a long chain of thought, they sometimes forget the intermediate links, and no one but those of equally rapid habits can follow them successfully

We hope that the evidence of the Dublin shoeblack has, in some degree, tended to prove our minor, that the Irish are disposed to use figurative language: we shall not, however, rest our cause on a single evidence, however respectable ; but before we summon our other witnesses, we beg to relieve the reader's attention, which must have been fatigued by such a chapter of criticism. They shall now have the tale of a mendicant. A specimen of city rhetoric is given in the shoeblack; the country mendicant's eloquence is of a totally different species.



PERHAPS the reader may wish to see as well as hear the petitioner. At first view you might have taken him for a Spaniard. He was tall; and if he had been a gentleman, you would have said that there was an air of dignity in his figure. He seemed very old, yet he appeared more worn by sorrow than by time. Leaning upon a thick oaken stick as he took off his hat to ask for alms, his white hair was blown by the wind. “ Health and long life to you !” said he.

“ Give an old man something to help to bury him. He is past his labour, and cannot trouble this world long any way."

He held his hat towards us, with nothing importunate in his manner, but rather with a look of confidence in us, mixed with habitual resignation. His thanks were : “ Heaven bless you !-Long life yours! and

and success to you ! to you and

may you never want a friend, as 1 do.”

The last words were spoken low. He laid his hand upon

his heart as he bowed to us, and walked slowly away. We called him back ; and upon our questioning bim farther, he gave the following account of himself :

“ I was bred and born—but no matter where such a one as I was bred and born, no more than where I may die and be buried. I, that have neither son, nor daughter, nor kin, nor friend, on the wide earth, to mourn over my grave when I am laid in it, as I soon must. Well! when it pleases God to take me, I shall never be missed out of this world, so much as by a dog. and why should I? Having never in my time done good to any—but evil—which I have lived to repent me of, many's the long day and night, and ever shall whilst I have sense and reason left. In my youthful days God was too good to me: I had friends, and a little home of my own to go toma pretty spot of land for a farm, as


with a snug cabin, and every thing complete, and all to be mine ; for I was the only one my father and mother had, and accordingly was made much of, too much ; for I grew headstrong upon it, and high, and thought nothing of any man, and little of any woman, but

That one I surely did think of; and well worth thinking of she was. Beauty, they say, is all fancy; but she was a girl every man might fancy. Never was one more sought after. She was then just in her prime, and full of life and spirits ; but

could see,


[ocr errors]

nothing light in her behaviour-quite modest—yet obliging. She was too good for me to be thinking of, no doubt; but · faint heart never won fair lady,' 80 I made bold to speak to Rose, for that was her name, and after a world of pains, I began to gain upon her good liking, but couldn't get her to say more than that she never seen the man she should fancy so well. This was a great deal from her, for she was coy and proud-like, as she had a good right to be ; and, besides being young, loved her little innocent pleasure, and could not easy be brought to give up her sway. No fault of hers: but all very natural. Well! I always considered she never would have held out so long, nor have been so stiff with me, had it not been for an old aunt Honour of hers --God rest her soul! One should not be talking ill of the dead; but she was more out of my way than enough; yet the cratur had no malice in her against me, only meaning her child's good, as she called it, but mistook it, and thought to make Rose happy by some greater match than me, counting her fondness for me, which she could not but see something of, childishness, that she would soon be broke of. Now there was a party of English soldiers quartered in our town, and there was a sergeant amongst them that had money, and a pretty place, as they said, in his own country. He courted Rose, and the aunt favoured him. He and I could never relish one another at all. He was a handsome portly man, but very proud, and looked upon me as dirt under his feet, because I was an Irishman; and at every word

would say,

Do you

- That's an Irish bull!'or, hear Paddy's brogue ?' at which his fellow-soldiers, being all English, would look greatly delighted. Now all this I could have taken in good part from any but him, for I was not an ill-humoured fellow; but there was a spite in him I plainly saw against me, and I could not, nor would not take a word from him against me or my country, especially when Rose was by, who did not like me the worse for having å proper spirit. She little thought what would come of it. Whilst all this was going on, her aunt Honour found to object against me, that I was wild, and given to drink ; both which charges were false and malicious, and I knew could come from none other than the sergeant, which enraged me the more against him for speaking so mean behind my back. Now I knew, that though the sergeant did not drink spirits, he drank plenty of beer. Rose took it, however, to heart, and talked very serious upon it, observing she could never think to marry a man given to drink, and that the sergeant was remark: ably sober and staid, therefore most like, as her aunt Honour said, to make a good husband. The words went straight to my heart, along with Rose's look. I said not a word, but went out, resolving, before I slept, to take an oath against spirits of all sorts for Rose's sweet sake. That evening I fell in with some boys of the neighbours, who would have had me along with them, but I denied myself and them; and all I would taste was one parting glass, and then made my

in the presence of the priest,

« ПретходнаНастави »