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ask a vote from a poor man, who was planting willows in a little garden by the road side.
“You have a vote, my good sir, I am told,” said the candidate, in an insinuating tone.
The poor man struck the willow which he had in his hand into the ground, and with a deliberate pace came towards the candidate to parley with him.
“ Please your honour,” said he gravely, “ I have a vote, and I have not a vote.”
“ How can that be?”
“I will tell you, sir,” said he, leaning, or rather lying down slowly upon the back of the ditch facing the road, so that the gentleman, who was on horseback, could see only his head and arms.
Sir," said he, “out of this little garden, with my five acres of land and my own labour, I once had a freehold; but I have been robbed of my freehold, and who do you think has robbed me? why, that man!” pointing to his landlord's steward, who stood beside the candidate. “With my own hands I sowed my own ground with oats, and a fine crop
I expected—but I never reaped that crop: not a bushel, no, nor half a bushel, did I ever see; for into my little place comes this man, with I don't know how many more, with their shovels and their barrows, and their horses and their cars, and to work they fell, and they ran a road straight through the best part of my land, turning all to heaps of rubbish, and a bad road it was, and a bad time of year to make it ! But where was I when he did this ? not where I am now,” said the orator, raising himself up and standing firm, “not as you see me now, but lying on my back in
bed in a fever. When I got up, I was not able to make my rent out of
land. Besides myself, I had my five children to support. I sold my clothes, and have never been able to buy any since but such as a recruit could sell, who was in haste to get into regimentals—such clothes as these,” said he, looking down at his black rags. Soon I had nothing to eat: but that's not all. I am a weaver, sir : for my rent they seized my two looms; then I had nothing to do. But of all this I do not complain. There was an election some time ago in this county, and a man rode up to me in this garden as you do now, and asked me for my vote, but I refused him, for I was steady to my landlord. The gentleman observed I was a poor man, and asked if I wanted for nothing ? but all did not signify ; so he rode on gently, and at the corner of the road, within view of my garden, I saw him drop a purse, and I knew, by his looking at me, it was on purpose for me to pick it up. After a while he came back, thinking, to be sure, I had taken up the purse, and had changed my mind, but he found his purse where he left it. My landlord knew all this, and he promised to see justice done me, but he forgot. Then as for the candidate's lady, before the election nothing was too fair-speaking for me ; but afterward, in my distress, when I applied to her to get me a loom, which she could have had from the Linen Board by only asking for it, her answer to me was,
I don't know that I shall ever want a vote again in the county.'
“ Now, sir,” continued he, “when justice is done to me (and no sooner), I shall be glad to assist my landlord or his friend. I know who you are, sir, very well : you bear a good character : success to you ! but I have no vote to give to you or any man.”
“ If I were to attempt to make you any amends for what you have suffered," replied the candidate, “I should do you an injury; it would be said that I had bribed you; but I will repeat your story where it will meet with attention. I cannot, however, tell it so well as you have told it.” No, sir,” was his answer, for
cannot feel it as I do.”
This is almost in terms the conclusion of Pope's epistle from Eloisa to Abelard :
“ He best can paint them who shall feel them most.”
In objurgation and pathetic remonstrancing eloquence, the females of the lower class in Ireland are not inferior to the men. A thin tall woman wrapped in a long cloak, the hood of which was drawn over her head, and shaded her pale face, came to a gentleman to complain of the cruelty of her landlord.
“ He is the most hard-hearted man alive, so he is, sir,” said she ; “ he has just seized all I have, which, God knows, is little enough ! and has driven my cow to pound, the only cow I have, and only dependance I have for a drop of milk to drink ; and the cow itself too standing there starving in the pound, for not a wisp of hay would he give to cow or christian to save their lives, if it was ever so! And the rent for which he is driving me, please your honour, has not been due but one week: a hard master he is ; but these middle men are all so, one and all. Oh! if it had but been
my lot to be tenant to a gentleman born, like
your honour, who is the poor man's friend, and the orphan's, and the widow's— the friend of them that have none other. Long life to you ! and long may you live to reign over us! Would
but speak three words to my landlord, to let my cow out of pound, and give me a fortnight's time, that I might see and fatten her to sell against the fair, I could
pay him then all honestly, and not be racked entirely, and he would be ashamed to refuse your honour, and afraid to disoblige the like of you, or get your
ill-will. May the blessing of Heaven be upon you, if you'll just send and speak to him three words for the poor woman and widow, that has none other to speak for her in the wide world.”
Moved by this lamentable story, the effect of which the woman's whole miserable
appearance corroborated and heightened, the gentleman sent immediately for her hard-hearted landlord. The landlord appeared ; not a gentleman, not a rich man, as the term landlord might denote, but a stout, square, stubbed, thicklimbed, gray-eyed man, who seemed to have come smoking hot from hard labour. The gentleman repeated the charge made against him by the poor widow, and mildly remonstrated on his cruelty: the man heard all that was said with a calm but unmoved countenance.
" And now have
done?” said he, turning to the woman, who had recommenced her lamentations. “Look at her standing there, sir. It's easy for her to put on her long cloak, and to tell her long story, and to make her poor mouth to your honour; but if you are willing to hear, I'll tell you what she is, and what I am.
She is one that has none but herself in this world to provide for ; she is one that is able to afford herself a glass of whiskey when she pleases, and she pleases it often; she is one that never denies herself the bit of staggering bob * when in season ; she is one that has a snug house well thatched to live in all the year round, and nothing to do or nothing that she does, and this is the way of her life, and this is what she is. And what am I? I am the father of eight children, and I have a wife and myself to provide for. I am a man that is at hard labour of one kind or another from sunrise to sunset. The straw that thatched the house she lives in I brought two miles on my back ; the walls of the house she lives in I built with my own hands; I did the same by five other houses, and they are all sound and dry, and good to live in, summer or winter. I set them for rent to put bread into my
children's mouth, and after all I cannot get it! And to support my eight children, and my wife, and myself, what have I in this world,” cried he, striding suddenly with colossal firmness upon his sturdy legs, and raising to heaven arms which looked like fore
* Slink calf.