THE WORKS OF WILLIAM CARLETON
TRAITS AND STORIES OF THE IRISH PEASANTRY
The Party Fight And Funeral.
The Lough Derg Pilgrim.
Our readers are to suppose the Reverend Philemy M'Guirk, parish priest of Tir-neer, to be standing upon the altar of the chapel, facing the congregation, after having gone through the canon of the Mass; and having nothing more of the service to perform, than the usual prayers with which he closes the ceremony.
"Take notice, that the Stations for the following week will be held as follows:—
"On Monday, in Jack Gallagher's of Corraghnamoddagh. Are you there, Jack?"
"To the fore, yer Reverence."
"Why, then, Jack, there's something ominous—something auspicious—to happen, or we wouldn't have you here; for it's very seldom that you make part or parcel of this present congregation; seldom are you here, Jack, it must be confessed: however, you know the old classical proverb, or if you don't, I do, which will just answer as well—Non semper ridet Apollo—it's not every day Manus kills a bullock; so, as you are here, be prepared for us on Monday."
"Never fear, yer Reverence, never fear; I think you ought to know that the grazin' at Corraghnamoddagh's not bad."
"To do you justice, Jack, the mutton was always good with you, only if you would get it better killed it would be an improvement. Get Tom McCusker to kill it, and then it'll have the right smack."
"Very well, yer Rev'rence, I'll do it."
"On Tuesday, in Peter Murtagh's of the Crooked Commons. Are you there, Peter?"
"Here, yer Reverence."
"Indeed, Peter, I might know you are here; and I wish that a great many of my flock would take example by you: if they did, I wouldn't be so far behind in getting in my dues. Well, Peter, I suppose you know that this is Michaelmas?"*
* Michaelmas is here jocularly alluded to as that period of the year when geese are fattest.
"So fat, yer Reverence, that they're not able to wag; but, any way, Katty has them marked for you—two fine young crathurs, only this year's fowl, and the ducks isn't a taste behind them—she crammin' them this month past."
"I believe you, Peter, and I would take your word for more than the condition of the geese. Remember me to Katty, Peter."
"On Wednesday, in Parrah More Slevin's of Mullaghfadh. Are you there, Parrah More?"—No answer. "Parrah More Sle-vin?"—Silence. "Parrah More Slevin, of Mullaghfadh?"—No reply. "Dan Fagan?"
"Do you know what keeps that reprobate from mass?"
"I bleeve he's takin' advantage, sir, of the frost, to get in his praties to-day, in respect of the bad footin', sir, for the horses in the bog when there's not a frost. Any how, betune that and a bit of a sore head that he got, yer Reverence, on Thursday last in takin' part wid the O'Scallaghans agin the Bradys, I bleeve he had to stay away to-day."
"On the Sabbath day, too, without my leave! Well, tell him from me, that I'll make an example of him to the whole parish, if he doesn't attend mass better. Will the Bradys and the O'Scallaghans never be done with their quarrelling? I protest, if they don't live like Christians, I'll read them out from the altar. Will you tell Parrah More that I'll hold a station in his house on next Wednesday?"
"I will, sir; I will, yer Reverence."
"On Thursday, in Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy's of the Esker. Are you there, Phaddhy?"'
"Wid the help of God, I'm here, sir."
"Well, Phaddhy, how is yer son Briney, that's at the Latin? I hope he's coming on well at it."
"Why, sir, he's not more nor a year and a half at it yet, and he's got more books amost nor he can carry; he'll break me buying books for him."
"Well, that's a good sign, Phaddhy; but why don't you bring him to me till I examine him?"
"Why, never a one of me can get him to come, sir, he's so much afeard of yer Reverence."
"Well, Phaddhy, we were once modest and bashful ourselves, and I'm glad to hear that he's afraid of his clargy; but let him be prepared for me on Thursday, and maybe I'll let him know something he never heard before; I'll open his eyes for him."
"Do you hear that, Briney?" said the father, aside to the son, who knelt at his knee; "you must give up yer hurling and idling now, you see. Thank yer Reverence; thank you, docthor."
"On Friday, in Barny O'Darby's, alias Barny Butters. Are you there, Barny?"
"All that's left of me is here, sir."
"Well, Barny, how is the butter trade this season?"
"It's a little on the rise, now, sir: in a, month or so I'm expecting it will be brisk enough. Boney, sir, is doing that much for us anyway."
"Ay, and, Barny, he'll do more than that for us: God prosper him at all events; I only hope the time's coming, Barny, when every one will be able to eat his own butter, and his own beef, too."
"God send it, sir."
"Well, Barny, I didn't hear from your brother Ned these two or three months; what has become of him?"
"Ah, yer Reverence, Pentland done him up."
"What! the gauger?"
"He did, the thief; but maybe he'll sup sorrow for it, afore he's much oulder."
"And who do you think informed, Barny?"
"Oh, I only wish we knew that, sir."
"I wish I knew it, and if I thought any miscreant here would become an informer, I'd make an example of him. Well, Barny, on Friday next: but I suppose Ned has a drop still—eh, Barny?"
"Why, sir, we'll be apt to have something stronger nor wather, anyhow."
"Very well, Barny; your family was always a dacent and spirited family, I'll say that for them; but, tell me, Barny, did you begin to dam the river yet? * I think the trouts and eels are running by this time."
* It is usual among the peasantry to form, about Michaelmas, small artificial cascades, called dams, under which they place long, deep, wicker creels, shaped like inverted cones, for the purpose of securing the fish that are now on their return to the large rivers, after having deposited their spawn in the higher and remoter streams. It is surprising what a number of fish, particularly of eels, are caught in this manner—sometimes from one barrel to three in the course of a single night!
"The creels are made, yer Reverence, though we did not set them yet; but on Tuesday night, sir, wid the help o' God, we'll be ready."
"You can corn the trouts, Barny, and the eels too; but should you catch nothing, go to Pat Hartigan, Captain Sloethorn's gamekeeper, and, if you tell him it's for me, he'll drag you a batch out of the fish-pond."
"Ah! then, you're Reverence, it's himself that'll do that wid a heart an' a half."
Such was the conversation which took place between the Reverend Philemy M'Guirk, and those of his parishioners in whose houses he had appointed to hold a series of Stations, for the week ensuing the Sunday laid in this our account of that hitherto undescribed portion of the Romish discipline.
Now, the reader is to understand, that a station in this sense differs from a station made to any peculiar spot remarkable for local sanctity. There, a station means the performance of a pilgrimage to a certain place, under peculiar circumstances, and the going through a stated number of prayers and other penitential ceremonies, for the purpose of wiping out sin in this life, or of relieving the soul of some relation from the pains of purgatory in the other; here, it simply means the coming of the parish priest and his curate to some house in the town-land, on a day publicly announced from the altar for that purpose, on the preceding Sabbath.
This is done to give those who live within the district in which the station is held an opportunity of coming to their duty, as frequenting the ordinance of confession is emphatically called. Those who attend confession in this manner once a year, are considered merely to have done their duty; it is expected, however, that they should approach the tribunal,* as it is termed, at least twice during that period, that is, at the two great festivals of Christmas and Easter. The observance or omission of this rite among Roman Catholics, establishes, in a great degeee, the nature of individual character. The man who,frequents his duty will seldom be pronounced a bad man, let his conduct and principles be what they may in other respects; and he who neglects it, is looked upon, by those who attend it, as in a state little short of reprobation.
* That is, of confession—so going to confession is termed by the priests.
When the "giving out" of the stations was over, and a few more jests were broken by his Reverence, to which the congregation paid the tribute of a general and uproarious laugh, he turned round, and resumed the performance of the mass, whilst his "flock" began to finger their beads with faces as grave as if nothing of the kind had occurred. When mass was finished, and the holy water sprinkled upon the people, out of a tub carried by the mass-server through the chapel for that purpose, the priest gave them a Latin benediction, and they dispersed.
Now, of the five individuals in whose houses the "stations" were appointed to be held, we will select Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy for our purpose; and this we do, because it was the first time in which a station was ever kept in his house, and consequently Phaddhy and his wife had to undergo the initiatory ceremony of entertaining Father Philemy and his curate, the Reverend Con M'Coul, at dinner.
Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy had been, until a short time before the period in question, a very poor man; but a little previous to that event, a brother of his, who had no children, died very rich—that is, for a farmer—and left him his property, or, at least, the greater part of it. While Phaddhy was poor, it was surprising what little notice he excited from his Reverence; in fact, I have heard him acknowledge, that during all the days of his poverty, he never got a nod of recognition or kindness from Father Philemy, although he sometimes did, he said, from Father Con, his curate, who honored him on two occasions so far as to challenge him to a bout at throwing the shoulder-stone, and once to a leaping match, at both of which exercises Father Con, but for the superior power of Phaddhy, had been unrivalled.
"It was an unlucky day to him," says Phaddy, "that he went to challenge me, at all at all; for I was the only man that ever bate him, and he wasn't able to hould up his head in the parish for many a day afther."
As soon, however, as Phaddhy became a man of substance, one would almost think that there had been a secret relationship between his good fortune and Father Philemy's memory; for, on their first meeting, after Phaddhy's getting the property, the latter shook him most cordially by the hand—a proof that, had not his recollection been as much improved as Phaddhy's circumstances, he could by no means have remembered him; but this is a failing in the memory of many, as well as in that of Father Philemy. Phaddhy, however, was no Donnell, to use his own expression, and saw as far into a deal board as another man.
"And so, Phaddy," said the priest, "how are all your family?—six you have, I think?"
"Four, your Rev'rence, only four," said Phaddy, winking at Tim Dillon, his neighbor, who happened to be present—"three boys an' one girl."
"Bless my soul, and so it is indeed, Phaddy, and I ought to know it; an how is your wife Sarah?—I mean, I hope Mrs. Sheemus Phaddhy is well: by the by, is that old complaint of hers gone yet?—a pain in the stomach, I think it was, that used to trouble her; I hope in God, Phaddhy, she's getting over it, poor thing. Indeed, I remember telling her, last Easter, when she came to her duty, to eat oaten bread and butter with water-grass every morning fasting, it cured myself of the same complaint."
"Why, thin, I'm very much obliged to your Rev'rence for purscribin' for her," replied Phaddhy; "for, sure enough, she has neither pain nor ache, at the present time, for the best rason in the world, docthor, that she'll be dead jist seven years, if God spares your Rev'rence an' myself till to-morrow fortnight, about five o'clock in the mornin'."
This was more than Father Philemy could stand with a good conscience, so after getting himself out of the dilemma as well as he could, he shook Phaddhy again very cordially by the hand, saying, "Well, good-bye, Phaddliy, and God be good to poor Sarah's soul—I now remember her funeral, sure enough, and a dacent one it was, for indeed she was a woman that had everybody's good word—and, between you and me, she made a happy death, that's as far as we can judge here; for, after all, there may be danger, Phaddy, there may be danger, you understand—however, it's your own business, and your duty, too, to think of that; but I believe you're not the man that would be apt to forget her."
"Phaddhy, ye thief o' the world," said Jim Dillon, when Father Philemy was gone, there's no comin' up to ye; how could you make sich a fool of his Rev'rence, as to tell im that Katty was dead, and that you had only four childher, an' you has eleven o' them, an' the wife in good health?"
"Why, jist, Tim," replied Phaddhy, with his usual shrewdness, "to tache his Reverence himself to practise truth a little; if he didn't know that I got the stockin' of guineas and the Linaskey farm by my brother Barney's death, do ye think that he'd notish me at all at all?—not himself, avick; an' maybe he won't be afther comin' round to me for a sack of my best oats,* instead of the bushel I used to give him, and houldin' a couple of stations wid me every year."
* The priest accompanied by a couple of servants each with a horse and sack, collects from such of his parishioners as can afford it, a quantity of oats, varying with the circumstances of the donor. This collection—called Questing—is voluntary on the part of his parishioners who may refuse it it they wish; very few are found however, hardy enough to risk the obloquy of declining to contribute, and the consequence is that the custom operates with as much force as if it were legal and compulsory.
"But won't he go mad when he hears you tould him nothing but lies?"
"Not now, Tim," answered Phaddhy—"not now; thank God,—I'm not a poor man, an' he'll keep his temper. I'll warrant you the horsewhip won't be up now, although, afore this, I wouldn't say but it might—though the poorest day I ever was, 'id's myself that wouldn't let priest or friar lay a horsewhip to my back, an' that you know, Tim."
Phaddhy's sagacity, however, was correct; for, a short time after this conversation, Father Philemy, when collecting his oats, gave him a call, laughed heartily at the sham account of Katty's death, examined young Briney in his Latin, who was called after his uncle, pronounced him very cute, and likely to become a great scholar—promised his interest with the bishop to get him into Maynooth, and left the family, after having shaken hands with, and stroked down the heads of all the children.
When Phaddhy, on the Sunday in question, heard the public notice given of the Station about to be held in his house, notwithstanding his correct knowledge of Father Philemy's character, on which he looked with a competent portion of contempt, he felt a warmth of pride about his heart, that arose from the honor of having a station, and of entertaining the clergy, in their official capacity, under his own roof, and at his own expense—that gave him, he thought, a personal consequence, which even the "stockin' of guineas" and the Linaskey farm were unable, of themselves, to confer upon him. He did enjoy, 'tis true, a very fair portion of happiness on succeeding to his brother's property; but this would be a triumph over the envious and ill-natured remarks which several of his neighbors and distant relations had taken the liberty of indulging in against him, on the occasion of his good fortune. He left the chapel, therefore, in good spirits, whilst Briney, on the contrary, hung a lip of more melancholy pendency than usual, in dread apprehension of the examination that he expected to be inflicted on him by his Reverence at the station.
Before I introduce the conversation which took place between Phaddhy and Briney, as they went home, on the subject of this literary ordeal, I must observe, that there is a custom, hereditary in some Irish families, of calling fathers by their Christian names, instead of by the usual appellation of "father." This usage was observed, not only by Phaddhy and his son, but by all the Phaddys of that family, generally. Their surname was Doran, but in consequence of the great numbers in that part of the country who bore the same name, it was necessary as of old, to distinguish the several branches of it by the Christian names of their fathers and grandfathers, and sometimes this distinction went as far back as the great-grandfather. For instance—Phaddhy Sheemus Phaddhy, meant Phaddhy, the son of Sheemus, the son of Phaddhy; and his son, Briney, was called, Brian Phaddy Sheemus Phaddy, or, anglice, Bernard the son of Patrick, the son of James, the son of Patrick. But the custom of children calling fathers, in a viva voce manner, by their Christian names, was independent of the other more general usage of the patronymic.
"Well, Briney," said Phaddy, as the father and son returned home, cheek by jowl from the chapel, "I suppose Father Philemy will go very deep in the Latin wid ye on Thursday; do ye think ye'll be able to answer him?"
"Why, Phaddhy," replied Briney, "how could I be able to answer a clargy?—doesn't he know all the languages, and I'm only in the Fibulae AEsiopii yet."
"Is that Latin or Greek, Briney?"
"It's Latin, Phaddhy."
"And what's the translation of that?"
"It signifies the Fables of AEsiopius."
"Bliss my sowl! and Briney, did ye consther that out of yer own head?"
"Hogh! that's little of it. If ye war to hear me consther Gallus Gallinaceus, a dunghill cock?"
"And, Briney, are ye in Greek at all yet?"
"No, Phaddhy, I'll not be in Greek till I'm in Virgil and Horace, and thin I'll be near finished."
"And how long will it be till that, Briney?"
"Why, Phaddhy, you know I'm only a year and a half at the Latin, and in two years more I'll be in the Greek."
"Do ye think will ye ever be as larned as! Father Philemy, Briney?"
"Don't ye, know whin I'm a clargy I will but I'm only a lignum sacerdotis yet, Phaddhy."
"What's ligdum saucerdoatis, Briney?"
"A block of a priest, Phaddhy."
"Now, Briney, I suppose Father Philemy knows everything."
"Ay, to be sure he does; all the languages' that's spoken through the world, Phaddhy."
"And must all the priests know them, Briney?—how many are they?"
"Seven—sartainly, every priest must know them, or how could they lay the divil, if he'd, spake to them in a tongue they couldn't understand, Phaddhy?"
"Ah, I declare, Briney, I see it now; only for that, poor Father Philip, the heavens be his bed, wouldn't be able to lay ould Warnock, that haunted Squire Sloethorn's stables."
"Is that when the two horses was stole, Phaddhy?"
"The very time, Briney; but God be thanked, Father Philip settled him to the day of judgment."
"And where did he put him, Phaddhy?"
"Why, he wanted to be put anundher the hearth-stone; but Father Philip made him walk away with himself into a thumb-bottle, and tied a stone to it, and then sent him to where he got a cooling, the thief, at the bottom of the lough behind the house."
"Well, I'll tell you what I'm thinking I'll be apt to do, Phaddhy, when I'm a clargy."
"And what is that, Briney?"
"Why, I'll—but, Phaddhy,don't be talking of this, bekase, if it should come to be known, I might get my brains knocked out by some of the heretics."
"Never fear, Briney, there's no danger of that—but what is it?"
"Why, I'll translate all the Protestants into asses, and then we'll get our hands red of them altogether."
"Well, that flogs for cuteness, and it's a wondher the clargy* doesn't do it, and them has the power; for 'twould give us pace entirely. But, Briney, will you speak in Latin to Father Philemy on Thursday?"
* I have no hesitation in asserting that the bulk of the uneducated peasantry really believe that the priests have this power.
"To tell you the thruth, Phaddhy, I would rather he wouldn't examine me this bout, at all at all."
"Ay, but you know we couldn't go agin him, Briney, bekase he promised to get you into the college. Will you speak some Latin, now till I hear you?"
"Hem!—Verbum personaley cohairit cum nomnatibo numbera at persona at numquam sera yeast at bonis moras voia."
"Bless my heart!—and, Briney, where's that taken from?"
"From Syntax, Phaddhy."
"And who was Syntax—do you know, Briney?"
"He was a Roman, Phaddhy, bekase there's a Latin prayer in the beginning of the book."
"Ay, was he—a priest, I'll warrant him. Well, Briney, do you mind yer Latin, and get on wid yer larnin', and when you grow up you'll have a pair of boots, and a horse of your own (and a good broadcloth black coat, too) to ride on, every bit as good as Father Philemy's, and may be betther nor Father Con's."
From this point, which usually wound up these colloquies between the father and son, the conversation generally diverged into the more spacious fields of science; so that by the time they reached home, Briney had probably given the father a learned dissertation upon the elevation of the clouds above the earth, and told him within how many thousand miles they approached it, at their nearest point of approximation.
"Katty," said Phaddhy, when he got home, "we're to have a station here on Thursday next: 'twas given out from the altar to-day by Father Philemy."
"Oh, wurrah, wurrah!" exclaimed Katty, overwhelmed at the consciousness of her own incapacity to get up a dinner in sufficient style for such guests—"wurrah, wurrah! Phaddhy, ahagur, what on the livin' earth will we do at all at all! Why, we'll never be able to manage it."
"Arrah, why, woman; what do they want but their skinful to eat and dhrink, and I'm sure we're able to allow them that, any way?"
"Arrah, bad manners to me, but you're enough to vex a saint—'their skinful to eat and dhrink!'—you common crathur you, to speak that way of the clargy, as if it was ourselves or the laborers you war spaking of."
"Ay, and aren't we every bit as good as they are, if you go to that?—haven't we sowls to be saved as well as themselves?"
"'As good as they are!'—as good as the clargy!! Manum a yea agus a wurrah!*—listen to what he says! Phaddhy, take care of yourself, you've got rich, now; but for all that, take care of yourself. You had betther not bring the priest's ill-will, or his bad heart upon us. You know they never thruv that had it; and maybe it's a short time your riches might stay wid you, or maybe it's a short time you might stay wid them: at any rate, God forgive you, and I hope he will, for making use of sich unsanctified words to your lawful clargy."
* My soul to God and the Virgin.
"Well, but what do you intind to do?—-or, what do you think of getting for them?" inquired Phaddy.
"Indeed, it's very little matther what I get for them, or what I'll do either—sorrow one of myself cares almost: for a man in his senses, that ought to know better, to make use of such low language about the blessed and holy crathurs, that hasn't a stain of sin about them, no more than the child unborn!"
"So you think."
"So I think! aye, and it would be betther for you that you thought so, too; but ye don't know what's before ye yet, Phaddhy—and now take warnin' in time, and mend your life."
"Why what do you see wrong in my life? Am I a drunkard? am I lazy? did ever I neglect my business? was I ever bad to you or to the childher? didn't I always give yez yer fill to ate, and kept yez as well clad as yer neighbors that was richer? Don't I go to my knees, too, every night and morning?"
"That's true enough, but what signifies it all? When did ye cross a priest's foot to go to your duty? Not for the last five years, Phaddhy—not since poor Torly (God be good to him) died of the mazles, and that'll be five years, a fortnight before Christmas."
"And what are you the betther of all yer confessions? Did they ever mend yer temper, avourneen? no, indeed, Katty, but you're ten times worse tempered coming back from the priest than before you go to him."
"Oh! Phaddhy! Phaddhy! God look down upon you this day, or any man that's in yer hardened state—I see there's no use in spaking to you, for you'll still be the ould cut."
"Ay, will I; so you may as well give up talking about it Arrah, woman!" said. Phaddhy, raising his voice, "who does it ever make betther—show me a man now in all the neighborhood, that's a pin-point the holier of it? Isn't there Jemmy Shields, that goes to his duty wanst a month, malivogues his wife and family this minute, and then claps them to a Rosary the next; but the ould boy's a thrifle to him of a fast day, afther coming from the priest. Betune ourselves, Katty, you're not much behind him."
Katty made no reply to him, but turned up her eyes, and crossed herself, at the wickedness of her unmanageable husband. "Well, Briney," said she, turning abruptly to the son, "don't take patthern by that man, if you expect to do any good; let him be a warning to you to mind yer duty, and respect yer clargy—and prepare yerself, now that I think of it, to go to Father Philemy or Father Con on Thursday: but don't be said or led by that man, for I'm sure I dunna how he intends to face the Man above when he laves this world—and to keep from his duty, and to spake of his clargy as he does!"
There are few men without their weak sides. Phaddhy, although the priests were never very much his favorites, was determined to give what he himself called a let-out on this occasion, simply to show his ill-natured neighbors that, notwithstanding their unfriendly remarks, he knew "what it was to be dacent," as well as his betters; and Katty seconded him in his resolution, from her profound veneration for the clargy. Every preparation was accordingly entered into, and every plan adopted that could possibly be twisted into a capability of contributing to the entertainment of Fathers Philemy and Con.
One of those large, round, stercoraceous nosegays that, like many other wholesome plants, make up by odor what is wanting in floral beauty, and which lay rather too contagious as Phaddhy expressed it, to the door of his house, was transplanted by about half a dozen laborers, and as many barrows, in the course of a day or two, to a bed some yards distant from the spot of its first growth; because, without any reference whatever to the nasal sense, it was considered that it might be rather an eye-sore to their Reverences, on approaching the door. Several concave inequalities, which constant attrition had worn in the earthen floor of the kitchen, were filled up with blue clay, brought on a cart from the bank of a neighboring river, for the purpose. The dresser, chairs, tables, I pots, and pans, all underwent a rigor of discipline, as if some remarkable event was about to occur; nothing less, it must be supposed than a complete, domestic revolution, and a new state of things. Phaddhy himself cut two or three large furze bushes, and, sticking them on the end of a pitchfork, attempted to sweep down the chimney. For this purpose he mounted on the back of a chair, that he might be able to reach the top with more ease; but, in order that his footing might be firm, he made one of the servant-men sit upon the chair, to keep it steady during the operation. Unfortunately, however, it so happened that this man was needed to assist in removing a meal-chest to another part of the house; this was under Katty's superintendence, who, seeing the fellow sit rather more at his ease than she thought the hurry and importance of the occasion permitted, called him, with a little of her usual sharpness and energy, to assist in removing the chest. For some reason or other, which it is not necessary to mention here, the fellow bounced from his seat, in obedience to the shrill tones of Katty, and the next moment Phaddhy (who was in a state of abstraction in the chimney, and totally unconscious of what was going forward below) made a descent decidedly contrary to the nature of that which most aspirants would be inclined to relish. A severe stun, however, was the most serious injury he received on his own part, and several round oaths, with a good drubbing, fell to the servant; but unluckily he left the furze bush behind him in the highest and narrowest part of the chimney; and were it not that an active fellow succeeded in dragging it up from the outside of the roof, the chimney ran considerable risk, as Katy said, of being choked.
But along with the lustration which every fixture within the house was obliged to undergo, it was necessary that all the youngsters should get new clothes; and for this purpose, Jemmy Lynch, the tailor, with his two journeymen and three apprentices, were sent for in all haste, that he might fit Phaddhy and each of his six sons, in suits, from a piece of home-made frieze, which Katty did not intend to break up till "towards Christmas."
A station is no common event, and accordingly the web was cut up, and the tailor left a wedding-suit, half-made, belonging to Edy Dolan, a thin old bachelor, who took it into his head to try his hand at becoming a husband ere he'd die. As soon as Jemmy and his train arrived, a door was taken off the hinges, and laid on the floor, for himself to sit upon, and a new drugget quilt was spread beside it, for his journeymen and apprentices. With nimble fingers they plied the needle and thread, and when night came, a turf was got, into which was stuck a piece of rod, pointed at one end and split at the other; the "the white candle," slipped into a shaving of the fringe that was placed in the cleft end of the stick, was then lit, whilst many a pleasant story, told by Jemmy, who had been once in Dublin for six weeks, delighted the circle of lookers-on that sat around them.
At length the day previous to the important one arrived. Hitherto, all hands had contributed to make every thing in and about the house look "dacent"—scouring, washing, sweeping, pairing, and repairing, had been all disposed of. The boys got their hair cut to the quick with the tailor's scissors; and such of the girls as were not full grown, not only that which grew on the upper part of the head taken off, by a cut somewhat resembling the clerical tonsure, so that they looked extremely wild and unsettled with their straight locks projecting over their ears; every thing, therefore, of the less important arrangements had been gone through—the weighty and momentous concern was as yet unsettled.
This was the feast; and alas! never was the want of experience more strongly felt than here. Katty was a bad cook, even to a proverb; and bore so indifferent a character in the country for cleanliness, that very few would undertake to eat her butter. Indeed, she was called Katty Sallagh (* Dirty Katy) on this account: however, this prejudice, whether ill or weil founded, was wearing fast away, since Phaddhy had succeeded to the stocking of guineas, and the Lisnaskey farm. It might be, indeed, that her former poverty helped her neighbors to see this blemish more clearly: but the world is so seldom in the habit of judging people's qualities or failings through this uncharitable medium, that the supposition is rather doubtful. Be this as it may, the arrangements for the breakfast and dinner must be made. There was plenty of bacon, and abundance of cabbages—eggs, ad infinitum—oaten and wheaten bread in piles—turkeys, geese, pullets, as fat as aldermen—cream as rich as Croesus—and three gallons of poteen, one sparkle of which, as Father Philemy said in the course of the evening, would lay the hairs on St. Francis himself in his most self-negative mood, if he saw it. So far so good: everything excellent and abundant in its way. Still the higher and more refined items—the deliciae epidarum—must be added. White bread, and tea, and sugar, were yet to be got; and lump-sugar for the punch; and a tea-pot and cups and saucers to be borrowed; all which was accordingly done.
Well, suppose everything disposed for tomorrow's feast;—suppose Phaddhy himself to have butchered the fowl, because Katty, who was not able to bear the sight of blood, had not the heart to kill "the crathurs" and imagine to yourself one of the servant men taking his red-hot tongs out of the fire, and squeezing a large lump of hog's lard, placed in a grisset, or Kam, on the hearth, to grease all their brogues; then see in your mind's eye those two fine, fresh-looking girls, slyly take their old rusty fork out of the fire, and going to a bit of three-corned looking-glass, pasted into a board, or, perhaps, to a pail of water, there to curl up their rich-flowing locks, that had hitherto never known a curl but such, as nature gave them.
On one side of the hob sit two striplings, "thryin' wan another in their catechiz," that they may be able to answer, with some credit, to-morrow. On the other hob sits Briney, hard at his syntax, with the Fibulae AEsiopii, as he called it, placed open at a particular passage, on the seat under him, with a hope that, when Philemy will examine him, the book may open at his favorite fable of "Gallus Gallinaceus—a dung-hill cock." Phaddy himself is obliged to fast this day, there being one day of his penance yet unperformed, since the last time he was at his duty; which was, as aforesaid, about five years: and Katty, now that everything is cleaned up and ready, kneels down in a corner to go over her beads, rocking herself in a placid silence that is only broken by an occasional malediction against the servants, or the cat, when it attempts the abduction of one of the dead fowl.
The next morning the family were up before the sun, who rubbed his eyes, and swore that he must have overslept himself, on seeing such a merry column of smoke dancing over Phaddhy's chimney. A large wooden dish was placed upon the threshold of the kitchen door, filled with water, in which, with a trencher of oatmeal for soap,* they successively scrubbed their faces and hands to some purpose. In a short time afterwards, Phaddhy and the sons were cased, stiff and awkward, in their new suits, with the tops of their fingers just peeping over the sleeve cuffs. The horses in the stable were turned out to the fields, being obliged to make room for their betters, that were soon expected under the reverend bodies of Father Philemy and his curate; whilst about half a bushel of oats was left in the manger, to regale them on their arrival. Little Richard Maguire was sent down to the five-acres, with the pigs, on purpose to keep them from about the house, they not being supposed fit company at a set-dinner. A roaring turf fire, which blazed two yards up the chimney, had been put down; on this was placed a large pot, filled with water for the tea, because they had no kettle.
* Fact—Oatmeal is in general substituted for soap, by those who cannot afford to buy the latter.
By this time the morning was tolerably advanced, and the neighbors were beginning to arrive in twos and threes, to wipe out old scores. Katty had sent several of the gorsoons "to see if they could see any sight of the clargy," but hitherto their Reverences were invisible. At length, after several fruitless embassies of this description, Father Con was seen jogging along on his easygoing hack, engaged in the perusal of his Office, previous to his commencing the duties of the day. As soon as his approach was announced, a chair was immediately placed for him in a room off the kitchen—the parlor, such as it was, having been reserved for Father Phileniy himself, as the place of greater honor. This was an arrangement, however, which went against the grain of Phaddhy, who, had he got his will, would have established Father Con in the most comfortable apartment of the house: but that old vagabond, human nature, is the same under all circumstances—or, as Katty would have (in her own phraseology) expressed it, "still the ould cut;" for even there the influence of rank and elevation was sufficient to throw merit into the shade; and the parlor-seat was allotted to Father Philemy, merely for being Parish Priest, although it was well known that he could not "tare off"* mass in half the time that Father Con could, nor throw a sledge, or shoulder-stone within a perch of him, nor scarcely clear a street-channel, whilst the latter could jump one-and-twenty feet at a running leap. But these are rubs which men of merit must occasionally bear; and, when exposed to them, they must only rest satisfied in the consciousness of their own deserts.
* The people look upon that priest as the best and most learned who can perform the ceremony of the mass in the shortest period of time. They call it as above "tareing off". The quickest description of mass, however, is the "hunting mass," so termed from the speed at which the priest goes over it—that is, "at the rate of a hunt."
From the moment that Father Con became visible, the conversation of those who were collected in Phaddhy's dropped gradually, as he approached the house, into a silence which was only broken by an occasional short observation, made by one or two of those who were in habits of the greatest familiarity with the priest; but when they heard the noise of his horse's feet near the door, the silence became general and uninterrupted.
There can scarcely be a greater contrast in anything than that presented by the beginning of a station-day and its close. In the morning, the faces of those who are about to confess present an expression in which terror, awe, guilt, and veneration may be easily traced; but in the evening all is mirth and jollity. Before confession every man's memory is employed in running over the catalogue of crimes, as they are to be found in the prayer-books, under the ten commandments, the seven deadly sins, the Commandments of the Church, the four sins that cry to heaven for vengeance, and the seven sins against the Holy Ghost.
When Father Con arrived, Phaddhy and Katty were instantly at the door to welcome him.
"Musha, cead millia failtha ghud (* A hundred thousand welcomes to you.) to our house, Father Con, avourneen!" says Katty, dropping him a low curtsey, and spreading her new, brown, quilted petticoat as far out on each side of her as it would go—"musha, an' it's you that's welcome from my heart out."
"I thank you," said honest Con, who, as he knew not her name, did not pretend to know it.
"Well, Father Con," said Phaddhy, this is, the first time you have ever come to us this, way; but, plase God, it won't be the last, I hope."
"I hope not, Phaddhy," said Father Con, who, notwithstanding his simplicity of character, loved a good dinner in the very core of his heart, "I hope not, indeed, Phaddhy." He then threw his eye about the premises, to see what point he might set his temper to during the remainder of the day; for it is right to inform our readers that a priest's temper, at a station, generally rises or falls according to the prospect of his cheer.
Here, however, a little vista, or pantry, jutting out from the kitchen, and left ostentatiously open, presented him with a view which made his very nose curl with kindness. What it contained we do not pretend to say, not having seen it ourselves; we judge, therefore, only by its effects upon his physiognomy.
"Why, Phaddhy," he says, "this is a very fine house you've got over you;" throwing his eye again towards a wooden buttress which supported one of the rafters that was broken.
"Why then, your Reverence, it would not be a bad one," Phaddhy replied, "if it had a new roof and new side-walls; and I intend to get both next summer, if God spares me till then."
"Then, upon my word, if it had new side-walls, a new roof, and new gavels, too," replied Father Con, "it would look certainly a great deal the better for it;—and do you intend to to get them next summer, Paddy?"
"If God spares me, sir."
"Are all these fine gorsoons yours, Phaddhy?"
"Why, so Katty says, your Reverence," replied Phaddhy, with a good-natured laugh.
"Haven't you got one of them for the church, Phaddhy?"
"Yes, your Reverence, there's one of them that I hope will live to have the robes upon him Come over, Briney, and speak to Father Con. He's not very far in his Latin yet, sir but his master tells me that he hasn't the likes of him in the school for brightness—Briney, will you come over, I say; come over, sarrah, and spake to the gintleman, and him wants to shake hands wid you—come up, man, what are you afeard of?—sure Father Con's not going to examine you now."
"No, no, Briney," said Father Con, "I'm not about to examine you at present."
"He's a little dashed, yer Reverence, be-kase he thought you war going to put him through some of his Latin," said the father, bringing him up like a culprit to Father Con, who shook hands with him, and, after a few questions as to the books he read, and his progress, dismissed him.
"But, Father Con, wid submission," said Katty, "where's Father Philemy from us?—sure, we expected him along wid you, and he wouldn't go to disappoint us?"
"Oh, you needn't fear that, Katty," replied Father Con; "he'll be here presently—before breakfast, I'll engage for him at any rate; but he had a touch of the headache this morning, and wasn't able to rise so early as I was."
During this conversation a little crowd had collected about the door of the room in which he was to hear the confessions, each struggling and fighting to get the first turn; but here, as in the more important concerns of this world, the weakest went to the wall. He now went into the room, and taking Katty herself first, the door was closed upon them, and he gave her absolution; and thus he continued to confess and absolve them, one by one, until breakfast.
Whenever a station occurs in Ireland, a crowd of mendicants and other strolling impostors seldom fail to attend it; on this occasion, at least, they did not. The day, though frosty, was fine; and the door was surrounded by a train of this description, including both sexes, some sitting on stones, some on stools, with their blankets rolled up under them; and others, more ostensibly devout, on their knees, hard at prayer; which, lest their piety might escape notice, our readers may be assured, they did not offer up in silence. On one side you might observe a sturdy fellow, with a pair of tattered urchins secured to his back by a sheet or blanket pinned across his breast with a long iron skewer, their heads just visible at his shoulders, munching a thick piece of wheaten bread, and the father on his knees, with a a huge wooden cross in hand, repeating padareens, and occasionally throwing a jolly eye towards the door, or through the; window, opposite which he knelt, into the kitchen, as often as any peculiar stir or commotion led him to suppose that breakfast, the loadstar of his devotion, was about to be produced.
Scattered about the door were knots of these, men and women, occasionally chatting together; and when the subject of their conversation happened to be exhausted, resuming their beads, until some new topic would occur, and so on alternately.
The interior of the kitchen where the neighbors were assembled, presented an appearance somewhat more decorous. Andy Lalor, the mass-server, in whom the priest had the greatest confidence, stood in a corner examining, in their catechism, those who intended to confess; and, if they were able to stand the test, he gave them a bit of twisted brown paper as a ticket, and they were received at the tribunal.
The first question the priest uniformly puts to the penitent is, "Can you repeat the Confiteor?" If the latter answers in the affirmative, he goes on until he comes to the words, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, when he stops, it being improper to repeat the remainder until after he has confessed; but, if he is ignorant of the "Confiteor," the priest repeats it for him! and he commences the rehearsal of his offences, specifically as they occurred; and not only does he reveal his individual crimes, but his very thoughts and intentions. By this regulation our readers may easily perceive, that the penitent is completely at the mercy of the priest—that all family feuds, quarrels, and secrets are laid open to his eye—that the ruling; passions of men's lives are held up before him, the weaknesses and propensities of nature—all the unguarded avenues of the human heart and character are brought within his positive knowledge, and that, too, as they exist in the young and the old, the married and the single, the male and the female.
It was curious to remark the ludicrous expression of temporary sanctity which was apparent on the countenances of many young men and maidens who were remarkable in the neighborhood for attending dances and wakes, but who, on the present occasion, were sobered down to a gravity which sat very awkwardly upon them; particularly in I the eyes of those who knew the lightness and drollery of their characters. This, however, was observable only before confession; for, as soon as, "the priest's blessed hand had been over them," their gloom and anxiety passed away, and the thoughtless buoyancy of their natural disposition resumed its influence over their minds. A good-humored nod, or a sly wink, from a young man to his female acquaintance, would now be indulged in; or, perhaps a small joke would escape, which seldom failed to produce a subdued laugh from such as had confessed, or an impatient rebuke from those who had not.
"Tim!" one would exclaim, "arn't ye ashamed or afeared to get an that way, and his Reverence undher the wan roof wid ye?"
"Tim, you had better dhrop your joking," a second would observe, "and not be putting us through other, (* confusing us) when we have our offenses to remimber; you have got your job over, and now you have nothing to trouble you."
"Indeed, it's fine behavior," a third would say, "and you afther coming from the priest's knee; and what more, didn't resave (* Communicate) yet; but wait till Father Con appears, and, I'll warrant, you'll be as grave as another, for all you're so stout now."
The conversation would then pass to the merits of Father Philemy and Father Con, as Confessors.
"Well," one would observe—"for my part, I'd rather go to Father Philemy, fifty times over, than wanst to Father Con, bekase he never axes questions; but whatever you like to tell him, he hears it, and forgives you at wanst."
"And so sign's an it," observed another; "he could confess more in a day that Father Con could in a week."
"But for all that," observed Andy Lalor, "it's still best to go to the man that puts the questions, you persave, and that won't let the turning of a straw escape him. Whin myself goes to Father Philemy, somehow or other, I totally disremember more nor wan half of what I intinded to tell him, but Father Con misses nothing, for he axes it."
When the last observation was finished, Father Con, finding that the usual hour for breakfast had arrived, came into the kitchen, to prepare for the celebration of mass. For this purpose, a table was cleared, and just in the nick of time arrived old Moll Brian, the vestment woman, or itinerant sacristan, whose usual occupation was to carry the priests' robes and other apparatus, from station to station. In a short time, Father Con was surpliced and robed; Andy Lalor, whose face was charged with commensurate importance during the ceremony, sarved Mass, and answered the priest stoutly in Latin although he had not the advantage of understanding that sacerdotal language. Those who had confessed, now communicated; after which, each of them took a draught, of water out of a small jug, which was handed round from one to another. The ceremony then closed, and those who had partaken of the sacrament, with the exception of such as were detained for breakfast, after filling their bottles with holy water, went home with a light heart. A little before the mass had been finished, Father Philemy arrived; but, as Phaddy and Katty were then preparing to resave they could not at that moment give him a formal reception. As soon, however, as communion was over, the cead millia failtha was repeated with the usual warmth, by both, and by all their immediate friends. Breakfast was now laid in Katty's best style, and with an originality of arrangement that scorned all precedent. Two tables were placed, one after another, in the kitchen; for the other rooms were not sufficiently large to accommodate the company. Father Philemy filled the seat of honor at the head of the table, with his back to an immense fire. On his right hand sat Father Con; on his left, Phaddhy himself, "to keep the-clargy company;" and, in due succession after them, their friends and neighbors, each taking precedence according to the most scrupulous notions of respectability. Beside Father Con sat "Pettier Malone," a "young collegian," who had been sent home from Maynooth to try his native air, for the recovery of his health, which was declining. He arrived only a few minutes after Father Philemy, and was a welcome reinforcement to Phaddhy, in the arduous task of sustaining the conversation with suitable credit.
With respect to the breakfast, I can only say, that it was superabundant—that the tea was as black as bog water—that there were hen, turkey, and geese eggs—plates of toast soaked, crust and crumb, in butter; and lest there might be a deficiency, one of the daughters sat on a stool at the fire, with her open hand, by way of a fire screen, across her red, half-scorched brows, toasting another plateful, and, to crown all, on each corner of the table was a bottle of whiskey. At the lower board sat the youngsters, under the surveillance of Katty's sister, who presided in that quarter. When they were commencing breakfast, "Father Philemy," said Katty, "won't yer Rev'rence bless the mate (* food) if ye plase?"
"If I don't do it myself," said Father Philemy, who was just after sweeping the top off a turkey egg, "I'll get them that will. Come," said he to the collegian, "give us grace, Peter; you'll never learn younger."
This, however, was an unexpected blow to Peter, who knew that an English grace would be incompatible with his "college feeding," yet was unprovided with any in Latin—The eyes of the company were now fixed upon him, and he blushed like scarlet on finding himself in a predicament so awkward and embarrassing. "Aliquid, Petre, alliquid; 'de profundis'—si habes nihil aliud," said Father Philemy, feeling for his embarrassment, and giving him a hint. This was not lost, for Peter began, and gave them the De profundis—a Latin psalm, which Roman Catholics repeat for the relief of the souls in, purgatory. They forgot, however, that there was a person in company who considered himself as having an equal claim to the repetition of at least the one-half of it; and accordingly, when Peter got up and repeated the first verse, Andy Lalor got also on his legs, and repeated the response.* This staggered Peter a little, who hesitated, as uncertain how to act.
* This prayer is generally repeated by two persons, who recite each a verse alternately.
"Perge, Petre, perge," said Father Philemy, looking rather wistfully at his egg—"perge, stultus est et asinus quoque." Peter and Andy proceeded until it was finished, when they resumed their seats.
The conversation during breakfast was as sprightly, as full of fun and humor as such breakfasts usually are. The priest, Phaddhy, and the young collegian, had a topic of their own, whilst the rest were engaged in a kind of by play, until the meal was finished.
"Father Philemy," said Phaddhy, in his capacity of host, "before we begin we'll all take a dhrop of what's in the bottle, if it's not displasing to yer Reverence; and, sure, I know, 'tis the same that doesn't come wrong at a station, any how."
This, more majorum, was complied with; and the glass, as usual, went round the table, beginning with their Reverences. Hitherto, Father Philemy had not had time to bestow any attention on the state of Kitty's larder, as he was in the habit of doing, with a view to ascertain the several items contained therein for dinner. But as soon as the breakfast-things were removed, and the coast clear, he took a peep into the pantry, and, after throwing his eye over its contents, sat down at the fire, making Phaddhy take a seat beside him, for the especial purpose of sounding him as to the practicability of effecting a certain design, which was then snugly latent in his Reverence's fancy. The fact was, that on taking the survey of the premises aforesaid, he discovered that, although there was abundance of fowl, and fish, and bacon, and hung-beef—yet, by some unaccountable and disastrous omission, there was neither fresh mutton nor fresh beef. The priest, it must be confessed, was a man of considerable fortitude, but this was a blow for which he was scarcely prepared, particularly as a boiled leg of mutton was one of his fifteen favorite joints at dinner. He accordingly took two or three pinches of snuff in rapid succession, and a seat at the fire, as I have said, placing Phaddhy, unconscious of his design, immediately beside him.
Now, the reader knows that Phaddhy was a man possessing a considerable portion of dry, sarcastic humor, along with that natural, quickness of penetration and shrewdness for which most of the Irish peasantry are in a very peculiar degree remarkable; add to this that Father Philemy, in consequence of his contemptuous bearing to him before he came in for his brother's property, stood not very high in his estimation. The priest knew this, and consequently felt that the point in question would require to be managed, on his part, with suitable address.
"Phaddhy," says his Reverence, "sit down here till we chat a little, before I commence the duties of the day. I'm happy to, see that you have such a fine thriving family: how many sons and daughters have you?"
"Six sons, yer Reverence," replied. Phaddhy, "and five daughters: indeed, sir, they're as well to be seen as their neighbors, considhering all things. Poor crathurs, they get fair play* now, thank Grod, compared to what they used to get—God rest their poor uncle's sowl for that! Only for him, your Reverence, there would be very few inquiring this or any other day about them."
* By this is meant good food and clothing.
"Did he die as rich as they said, Phaddhy?" inquired his Reverence.
"Hut, sir," replied Phaddhy, determined to take what he afterwards called a rise out of the priest; "they knew little about it—as rich as they said, sir! no, but three times as rich, itself: but, any how, he was the man that could make the money."
"I'm very happy to hear it, Phaddhy, on, your account, and that of your children. God be good to him—requiescat animus ejus in pace, per omnia secula seculorum, Amen!—he liked a drop in his time, Phaddhy, as well as ourselves, eh?"
"Amen, amen—the heavens be his bed!—he-did, poor man! but he had it at first cost, your Reverence, for he run it all himself in the mountains: he could afford to take it."
"Yes, Phaddhy, the heavens be his bed, I pray; no Christmas or Easter ever passed but he was sure to send me the little keg of stuff that never saw water; but, Phaddhy, there's one thing that concerns me about him, in regard of his love of drink—I'm afraid it's a throuble to him where he is at present; and I was sorry to find that, although he died full of money, he didn't think it worth his while to leave even the price of a mass to be said for the benefit of his own soul."
"Why, sure you know, Father Philemy, that he wasn't what they call a dhrinking man: once a quarther, or so, he sartinly did take a jorum; and except at these times, he was very sober. But God look upon us, yer Reverence—or upon myself, anyway; for if he's to suffer for his doings that way, I'm afeard we'll have a troublesome reck'ning of it."
"Hem, a-hem!—Phaddhy," replied the priest, "he has raised you and your children from poverty, at all events, and you ought to consider that. If there is anything in your power to contribute to the relief of his soul, you havs a strong duty upon you to do it; and a number of masses, offered up devoutly, would—"
"Why, he did, sir, raise both myself and my childre from poverty," said Phaddhy, not willing to let that point go farther—"that I'll always own to; and I hope in God that whatever little trouble might be upon him for the dhrop of dhrink, will be wiped off by this kindness to us."
"He hadn't even a Month's mind!"*
* A Mouth's Mind is the repetition of one or more masses, at the expiration of a month after death, for the repose of a departed soul. There are generally more than the usual number of priests on such occasions: each of whom receives a sum of money, varying according to the wealth of the survivors—sometimes five shillings, and sometimes five guineas.
"And it's not but I spoke to him about both, yer Eeverence."
"And what did he say, Phaddy?"
"'Phaddy,' said he, 'I have been giving Father M'Guirk, one way or another, between whiskey, oats, and dues, a great deal of money every year; and now, afther I'm dead,' says he, 'isn't it an ungrateful thing of him not to offer up one mass for my sowl, except I leave him payment for it?'"
"Did he say that, Phaddhy?"
"I'm giving you his very words, yer Reverence."
"Phaddhy, I deny it; it's a big lie—he could not make much use of such words, and he going to face death. I say you could not listen to them; the hair would stand on your head if he did; but God forgive him—that's the worst I wish him. Didn't the hair stand on your head, Phaddhy, to hear him?"
"Why, then, to tell yer Reverence God's truth, I can't say it did."
"You can't say it did! and if I was in your coat, I would be ashamed to say it did not. I was always troubled about the way the fellow died, but I hadn't the slightest notion: that he went off such a reprobate. I fought his battle and yours hard enough yesterday; but I knew less about him than I do now."
"And what, wid submission, did you fight our battles about, yer Reverence?" inquired Phaddhy.
"Yesterday evening, in Parrah More Slevin's, they had him a miser, and yourself they set down as very little better."
"Then I don't think I desarved that from Parrah More, anyhow, Father Philemy; I think I can show myself as dacent as Parrah More or any of his faction."
"It was not Parrah More himself, nor his family, that said anything about you, Phaddhy," said the priest, "but others that were present. You must know that we were all to be starved here to-day."
"Oh! ho!" exclaimed Phaddhy, who was hit most palpably upon the weakest side—the very sorest spot about him, "they think bekase this is the first station that ever was held in my house, that you won't be thrated as you ought; but they'll be disappointed; and I hope, for so far, that yer Reverence and yer friends had no rason to complain."
"Not in the least, Phaddhy, considering that it was a first station; and if the dinner goes as well off as the breakfast, they'll be biting their nails: but I should not wish myself that they would have it in their power to sneer or throw any slur over you about it.—Go along, Dolan," exclaimed his Reverence to a countryman who came in from the street, where those stood who were for confession, to see if he had gone to his room—"Go along, you vagrant, don't you see I'm not gone to the tribunal yet?—But it's no matter about that, Phaddhy, it's of other things you ought to think: when were you at your duty?"
"This morning, sir," replied the other—"but I'd have them to understand, that had the presumption to use my name in any such manner, that I know when and where to be dacent with any mother's son of Parrah More's faction; and that I'll be afther whispering to them some of these fine mornings, plase goodness."
"Well, well, Phaddhy, don't put yourself in a passion about it, particularly so soon after having been at confession—it's not right—I told them myself, that we'd have a leg of mutton and a bottle of wine at all events for it was what they had; but that's not worth talking about—when were you with the priest before Phaddhy?"
"If I wasn't able, it would be another thing, but as long as I'm able, I'll let them know that I've the spirit"—said Phaddhy, smarting under the implication of niggardliness—"when was I at confession before, Father Philemy? Why, then, dear forgive me, not these five years;—and I'd surely be the first of the family that would show a mane spirit, or a want of hospitality."
"A leg of mutton is a good dish, and a bottle of wine is fit for the first man in the land!" observed his Reverence; "five years!—why, is it possible you stayed away so long, Phaddhy! how could you expect to prosper with five years' burden of sin upon your conscience—what would it cost you—?"
"Indeed, myselfs no judge, your Reverence, as to that; but, cost what it will, I'll get both."
"I say, Phaddhy, what trouble would it cost you to come to your duty twice a year at the very least; and, indeed, I would advise you to become a monthly communicant. Parrah More was speaking of it as to himself, and you ought to go—"
"And I will go and bring Parrah More here to his dinner, this very day, if it was only to let him see with his own eyes—"
"You ought to go once a month, if it was only to set an example to your children, and to show the neighbors how a man of substance and respectability, and the head of a family, ought to carry himself."
"Where is the best wine got, your Reverence?"
"Alick M'Loughlin, my nephew, I believe, keeps the best wine and spirits in Ballyslantha.—You ought also, Phaddy, to get a scapular, and become a scapularian; I wish your brother had thought of that, and he wouldn't have died in so hardened a state, nor neglected to make a provision for the benefit of his soul, as he did."
"Lave the rest to me, yer Reverence, I'll get it; Mr. M'Loughlin will give me the right sort, if he has it betune him and death."
"M'Laughlin! what are you talking about?"
"Why, what is your Reverence talking about?"
"The scapular," said the priest.
"But I mane the wine and the mutton," says Phaddhy.
"And is that the way you treat me, you reprobate you?" replied his Reverence in a passion: "is that the kind of attention you're paying me, and I, advising you, all this time, for the good of your soul? Phaddhy, I tell you, you're enough to vex me to the core—five years!—only once at confession in five years! What do I care about your mutton and your wine!—you may get dozens of them if you wish; or, may be, it would be more like a Christian to never mind getting them, and let the neighbors laugh away. It would teach you humility, you hardened creature, and God knows you want it; for my part, I'm speaking to you about other things; but that's the way with the most of you—mention any spiritual subject that concerns your soul, and you turn a deaf ear to it—here, Dolan, come in to your duty. In the meantime, you may as well tell Katty not to boil the mutton too much; it's on your knees you ought to be at your rosary, or the seven penitential psalms, any way."
"Thrue for you, sir," says Phaddhy; "but as to going wanst a month, I'm afeard, your Rev'rence, if it would shorten my timper as it does Katty's, that we'd be bad company for one another; she comes home from confession, newly set, like a razor, every bit as sharp; and I'm sure that I'm within the truth when I say there's no bearing her."
"That's because you've no relish for anything spiritual yourself, you nager you," replied his Reverence, "or you wouldn't see her temper in that light—but, now that I think of it, where did you get that stuff we had at breakfast?"
"Ay, that's the sacret; but I knew your Rev'rence would like it; did Parrah More aiquil it? No, nor one of his faction couldn't lay his finger on such a dhrop."
"I wish you could get me a few gallons of it," said the priest; "but let us drop that; I say, Phaddhy, you're too worldly and too careless about your duty."
"Well, Father Philemy, there's a good time coming; I'll mend yet."
"You want it, Phaddhy."
"Would three gallons do, sir?"
"I would rather you would make it five, Phaddhy; but go to your rosary."
"It's the penitential psalms, first, sir," said Phaddhy, "and the rosary at night. I'll try, anyhow; and if I can make off five for you, I will."
"Thank you, Phaddhy; but I would recommend you to say the rosary before night."
"I believe yer Reverence is right," replied Phaddhy, looking somewhat slyly in the priest's face; "I think it's best to make sure of it now, in regard that in the evening, your Reverence—do you persave?"
"Yes," said his Reverence, "you're in a better frame of mind at present, Phaddhy, being fresh from confession."
So saying, his Reverence—for whom Phaddhy, with all his shrewdness in general, was not a match—went into his room, that he might send home about four dozen of honest, good-humored, thoughtless, jovial, swearing, drinking, fighting Hibernians, free from every possible stain of sin and wickedness!
"Are you all ready now?" said the priest to a crowd of country people who were standing about the kitchen door, pressing to get the "first turn" at the tribunal, which on this occasion consisted of a good oaken chair, with his Reverence upon it.
"Why do you crush forward in that manner, you ill-bred spalpeens? Can't you stand back, and behave yourselves like common Christians?—back with you! or, if you make me get my whip, I'll soon clear you from about the dacent man's door. Hagarty, why do you crush them two girls there, you great Turk, you? Look at the vagabonds! Where's my whip," said he, running in, and coming out in a fury, when he commenced cutting about him, until they dispersed in all directions. He then returned into the house; and, after calling in about two dozen, began to catechize them as follows, still holding the whip in his hand, whilst many of those individuals, who at a party quarrel or faction fight, in fair or market, were incapable of the slightest terror, now stood trembling before him, absolutely pale and breathless with fear.
"Come, Kelly," said he to one of them, "are you fully prepared for the two blessed sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, that you are about to receive? Can you read, sir?"
"Can I read, is id?—my brother Barney can, yor Rev'rence," replied Kelly, sensible, amid all the disadvantages around him, of the degradation of his ignorance.
"What's that to me, sir?" said the priest, "what your brother Barney can do—can you not read yourself?"
"I can not, your Reverence," said Kelly, in a tone of regret.
"I hope you have your Christian Doctrine, at all events," said the priest. "Go on with the Confiteor."
Kelly went on—"Confeetur Dimnipotenmti batchy Mary semplar virginy, batchy Mickletoe Archy Angelo, batchy Johnny Bartisty, sanctris postlis—Petrum hit Paulum omnium sanctris, et tabby pasture, quay a pixavit minus coglety ashy hony verbum et offer him smaxy quilia smaxy quilta—sniaxy maxin in quilia."*
* Let not our readers suppose that the above version in the mouth of a totally illiterate peasant is overcharged; for we have the advantage of remembering how we ourselves used to hear it pronounced in our early days. We will back the version in the text against Edward Irving's new language—for any money.— Original note.
"Very well, Kelly, right enough, all except the pronouncing, which wouldn't pass muster in Maynooth, however. How many kinds of commandments are there?"
"What are they?"
"God's and the Church's."
"Repeat God's share of them."
He then repeated the first commandment according to his catechism.
"Very good, Kelly, very good. Well now, repeat the commandments of the Church."
"First—Sundays and holidays, Mass thou shalt sartinly hear;
"Second—All holidays sanctificate throughout all the whole year.
"Third—Lent, Ember days, and Virgins, thou shalt be sartain to fast;
"Fourth—Fridays and Saturdays flesh thou shalt not, good, bad or indifferent, taste.
"Fifth—In Lent and Advent, nuptial fastes gallantly forbear.
"Sixth—Confess your sins, at laste once dacently and soberly every year.
"Seventh—Resave your God at confission about great Easter-day;
"Eighth—And to his Church and his own frolicsome clargy neglect not tides (tithes) to pay."
"Well," said his Eeverence, "now, to great point is, do you understand them?"
"Wid the help of God, I hope so, your Rev'rence; and I have also the three thriptological vartues."
"Theojollyological vartues; the four sins that cry to heaven for vingeance; the five carnal vartues—prudence, justice, timptation, and solitude; (* Temperance and fortitude) the seven deadly sins; the eight grey attitudes—"
"Grey attitudes! Oh, the Boeotian!" exclaimed his Eeverence, "listen to the way in which he's playing havoc among them. Stop, sir," for Kelly was going on at full speed—"Stop, sir. I tell you it's not gray attitudes, but bay attitudes—doesn't every one know the eight beatitudes?"
"The eight bay attitudes; the nine ways of being guilty of another's sins; the ten commandments; the twelve fruits of a Christian; the fourteen stations of the cross; the fifteen mystheries of the passion—"
"Kelly," said his Eeverence, interrupting him, and heralding, the joke, for so it was intended, with a hearty chuckle, "you're getting fast out of your teens, ma bouchal?" and this was of course, honored with a merry peal; extorted as much by an effort of softening the rigor of examination, as by the traditionary duty which entails upon the Irish laity the necessity of laughing at a priest's jokes, without any reference at all to their quality. Nor was his Reverence's own voice the first to subside into that gravity which became the solemnity of the occasion; or even whilst he continued the interrogatories, his eye was laughing at the conceit with which it was evident the inner man was not competent to grapple. "Well, Kelly, I can't say but you've answered very well, as far as the repealing of them goes; but do you perfectly understand all the commandments of the church?"
"I do, sir," replied Kelly, whose confidence kept pace with his Reverence's good-humor.
"Well, what is meant by the fifth?"
"The fifth, sir?" said the other, rather confounded—"I must begin agin, sir, and go on till I come to it."
"Well," said the priest, "never mind that; but tell us what the eighth means?"
Kelly stared at him a second time, but was not able to advance "First—Sundays and holidays, mass thou shalt hear;" but before he had proceeded to the second, a person who stood at his elbow began to whisper to him the proper reply, and in the act of so doing received a lash of the whip across the ear for his pains.
"You blackguard, you!" exclaimed Father Philemy, "take that—how dare you attempt to prompt any person that I'm examining?"
Those who stood around Kelly now fell back to a safe distance, and all was silence, terror, and trepidation once more.
"Come, Kelly, go on—the eighth?"
Kelly was still silent.
"Why, you ninny you, didn't you repeat it just now. 'Eighth—And to his church neglect not tithes to pay.' Now that I have put the words in your mouth, what does it mean?"
Kelly having thus got the cue, replied, in the words of the Catechism, "To pay tides to the lawful pasterns of the church, sir."
"Pasterns!—oh, you ass you! Pasterns! you poor; base, contemptible, crawling reptile, as if we trampled you under our hooves—oh, you scruff of the earth! Stop, I say—it's pastors."
"Pastures of the church."
"And, tell me, do you fulfil that commandment?"
"I do, sir."
"It's a lie, sir," replied the priest, brandishing the whip over his head, whilst Kelly instinctively threw up his guard to protect himself from the blow. "It's a lie, sir," repeated his Eeverence; "you don't fulfil it. What is the church?"
"The church is the congregation of the faithful that purfiss the true faith, and are obadient to the Pope."
"And who do you pay tithes to?"
"To the parson, sir."
"And, you poor varmint you, is he obadient to the Pope?"
Kelly only smiled at the want of comprehension which prevented him from seeing the thing according to the view which his Reverence took of it.
"Well, now," continued Father Philemy, "who are the lawful pastors of God's church?"
"You are, sir: and all our own priests."
"And who ought you to pay your tithes to?"
"To you, sir, in coorse; sure I always knew that, your Rev'rence."
"And what's the reason, then, you don't pay them to me, instead of the parson?"
This was a puzzler to Kelly, who only knew his own side of the question. "You have me there, sir," he replied, with a grin.
"Because," said his Reverence, "the Protestants, for the present, have, the law of the land on their side, and power over you to compel the payment of tithes to themselves; but we have right, justice, and the law of God on ours; and, if every thing was in its proper place, it is not to the parsons, but to us, that you would pay them."
"Well, well, sir," replied Kelly, who now experienced a community of feeling upon the subject with his Reverence, that instantly threw him into a familiarity of manner which he thought the point between them justified—"who knows, sir?" said he with a knowing smile, "there's a good time coming, yer Rev'rence."
"Ay," said Father Philemy, "wait till we get once into the Big* House, and if we don't turn the scales—if the Established Church doesn't go down, why, it won't be our fault. Now, Kelly, all's right but the money—have you brought your dues?"
* Parliament. This was written before the passing of the Emancipation Bill.
"Here it is, sir," said Kelly, handing him his dues for the last year.
It is to be observed here, that, according as the penitents went to be examined, or to kneel down to confess, a certain sum was exacted from each, which varied according to the arrears that might have been due to the priest. Indeed, it is not unusual for the host and hostess, on these occasions, to be refused a participation in the sacrament, until they pay this money, notwithstanding the considerable expense they are put to in entertaining not only the clergy, but a certain number of their own friends and relations.
"Well, stand aside, I'll hear you first; and now, come up here, you young gentleman, that laughed so heartily a while ago at my joke—ha, ha, ha!—come up here, child."
A lad now approached him, whose face, on a first view, had something simple and thoughtless in it, but in which, on a closer inspection, might be traced a lurking, sarcastic humor, of which his Reverence never dreamt.
"You're for confession, of course?" said the priest.
"Of coorse," said the lad, echoing him, and laying a stress upon the word, which did not much elevate the meaning of the compliance in general with the rite in question.
"Oh!" exclaimed the priest, recognizing him when he approached—"you are Dan Fagan's son, and designed for the church yourself; you are a good Latinist, for I remember examining you in Erasmus about two years ago—Quomodo sehabet corpus tuum, charum lignum sacredotis"
"Valde, Domine," replied the lad, "Quomodo se habet anima tua, charum exemplar sacerdotage, et fulcrum robustissium Ecclesiae sacrosancte?"
"Very good, Harry," replied his Reverence, laughing—"stand aside; I'll hear you after Kelly."
He then called up a man with a long melancholy face, which he noticed before to have been proof against his joke, and after making two or three additional and fruitless experiments upon his gravity, he commenced a cross fire of peevish interrogatories, which would have excluded him from the "tribunal" on that occasion, were it not that the man was remarkably well prepared, and answered the priest's questions very pertinently.
This over, he repaired to his room, where the work of absolution commenced; and, as there was a considerable number to be rendered sinless before the hour of dinner, he contrived to unsin them with an alacrity that was really surprising.
Immediately after the conversation already detailed between his Reverence and Phaddhy, the latter sought Katty, that he might communicate to her the unlucky oversight which they had committed, in neglecting to provide fresh meat and wine. "We'll be disgraced forever," said Phaddhy, "without either a bit of mutton or a bottle of wine for the gintlemen, and that big thief Parrah More Slevin had both."
"And I hope," replied Katty, "that you're not so mane as to let any of that faction outdo you in dacency, the nagerly set? It was enough for them to bate us in the law-shoot about the horse, and not to have the laugh agin at us about this."
"Well, that same law-shoot is not over with them yet," said Phaddhy; "wait till the spring fair comes, and if I don't have a faction gathered that'll sweep them out of the town, why my name's not Phaddhy! But where is Matt till we sind him off?"
"Arrah, Phaddhy," said Katty, "wasn't it friendly of Father Philemy to give us the hard word about the wine and mutton?"
"Very friendly," retorted Phaddhy, who, after all, appeared to have suspected the priest—"very friendly, indeed, when it's to put a good joint before himself, and a bottle of wine in his jacket. No, no, Katty! it's not altogether for the sake of Father Philemy, but I wouldn't have the neighbors say that I was near and undacent; and above all tilings, I wouldn't be worse nor the Slevins—for the same set would keep it up agin us long enough."
Our readers will admire the tact with which Father Philemy worked upon the rival feeling between the factions; but, independently of this, there is a generous hospitality in an Irish peasant which would urge him to any stratagem, were it even the disposal of his only cow, sooner than incur the imputation of a narrow, or, as he himself terms it, "undacent" or "nagerly" spirit.
In the course of a short time, Phaddhy dispatched two messengers, one for the wine, and another for the mutton; and, that they might not have cause for any unnecessary delay, he gave them the two reverend gentlemen's horses, ordering them to spare neither whip nor spur until they returned. This was an agreeable command to the messengers, who, as soon as they found themselves mounted, made a bet of a "trate," to be paid on arriving in the town to which they were sent, to him who should first reach a little stream that crossed the road at the entrance of it, called the "Pound burn." But I must not forget to state, that they not only were mounted on the priest's horses, but took their great-coats, as the day had changed, and threatened to rain. Accordingly, on getting out upon the main road, they set off, whip and spur, at full speed, jostling one another, and cutting each other's horses as if they had been intoxicated; and the fact is, that, owing to the liberal distribution of the bottle that morning, they were not far from it.
"Bliss us!" exclaimed the country people, as they passed, "what on airth can be the matther with Father Philemy and Father Con, that they're abusing wan another at sich a rate!"
"Oh!" exclaimed another, "it's apt to be a sick call, and they're thrying, maybe, to be there before the body grows cowld."
"Ay, it may be," a third conjectured, "it's to old Magennis, that's on the point of death, and going to lave all his money behind him."
But their astonishment was not a whit lessened, when, in about an hour afterwards, they perceived them both return; the person who represented Father Con having an overgrown leg of mutton slung behind his back like an Irish harp, reckless of its friction against his Reverence's coat, which it had completely saturated with grease; and the duplicate of Father Philemy with a sack over his shoulder, in the bottom of which was half a dozen of Mr. M'Laughlin's best port.
Phaddhy, in the meantime, being determined to mortify his rival Parrah More by a superior display of hospitality, waited upon that parsonage, and exacted a promise from him to come down and partake of the dinner—a promise which the other was not slack in fulfilling. Phaddhy's heart was now on the point of taking its rest, when it occurred to him that there yet remained one circumstance in which he might utterly eclipse his rival, and that was to ask Captain Wilson, his landlord, to meet their Reverences at dinner. He accordingly went over to him, for he only lived a few fields distant, having first communicated the thing privately to Katty, and requested that, as their Reverences that day held a station in his house, and would dine there, he would have the kindness to dine along with them. To this the Captain, who was intimate with both the clergymen, gave a ready compliance, and Phaddhy returned home in high spirits.
In the meantime, the two priests were busy in the work of absolution; the hour of three had arrived, and they had many to shrive; but, in the course of a short time, a reverend auxiliary made his appearance, accompanied by one of Father Philemy's nephews, who was then about to enter Maynooth. This clerical gentleman had been appointed to a parish; but, owing to some circumstances which were known only in the distant part of the diocese where he had resided, he was deprived of it, and had, at the period I am writing of, no appointment in the church, though he was in full orders. If I mistake not, he incurred his bishop's displeasure by being too warm an advocate for Domestic Nomination,* a piece of discipline, the re-establishment of which was then attempted by the junior clergymen of the diocese wherein the scene of this station is laid. Be this as it may, he came in time to assist the gentlemen in absolving those penitents (as we must call them so) who still remained unconfessed.
* Domestic Nomination was the right claimed by a portion of the Irish clergy to appoint their own bishops, independently of the Pope.
During all this time Katty was in the plenitude of her authority, and her sense of importance manifested itself in a manner that was by no means softened by having been that morning at her duty. Her tones were not so shrill, nor so loud as they would have been, had not their Reverences been within hearing; but what was wanting in loudness, was displayed in a firm and decided energy, that vented, itself frequently in the course of the day upon the backs and heads of her sons, daughters, and servants, as they crossed her path in the impatience and bustle of her employment. It was truly ludicrous to see her, on encountering one of them in these fretful moments, give him a drive head-foremost against the wall, exclaiming, as she shook her fist at him, "Ho, you may bless your stars, that they're under the roof, or it wouldn't go so asy wid you; for if goodness hasn't said it, you'll make me lose my sowl this blessed and holy day: but this is still the case—the very time I go to my duty, the devil (between us and harm) is sure to throw fifty temptations acrass me, and to help him, you must come in my way—but wait till tomorrow, and if I, don't pay you for this, I'm not here."
That a station is an expensive ordinance to the peasant who is honored by having one held in his house, no one who knows the characteristic hospitality of the Irish people can doubt. I have reason, however, to know that, within the last few years, stations in every sense have been very much improved, where they have not been abolished altogether. The priests now are not permitted to dine in the houses of their parishioners, by which a heavy tax has been removed from the people.
About four o'clock the penitents were at length all despatched; and those who were to be detained for dinner, many of whom had not eaten anything until then, in consequence of the necessity of receiving the Eucharist fasting, were taken aside to taste some of Phaddhy's poteen. At length the hour of dinner arrived, and along with it the redoubtable Parra More Slevin, Captain Wilson, and another nephew of Father Philemy's, who had come to know what detained his brother who had conducted the auxiliary priest to Phaddhy's. It is surprising on these occasions, to think how many uncles, nephews, and cousins, to the forty-Second degree, find it needful to follow their Reverences on messages of various kinds; and it is equally surprising to observe with what exactness they drop in during the hour of dinner. Of course, any blood-relation or friend of the priests must be received with cordiality; and consequently they do not return without solid proofs of the good-natured hospitality of poor Paddy, who feels no greater pleasure than in showing his "dacency" to any one belonging to his Reverence.
I dare say it would be difficult to find a more motley and diversified company than sat down to the ungarnished fare which Katty laid before them. There were first Fathers Philemy, Con, and the Auxiliary from the far part of the diocese; next followed Captain Wilson, Peter Malone, and Father Philemy's two nephews; after these came Phaddhy himself, Parrah More Slevin, with about two dozen more of the most remarkable and uncouth personages that could sit down to table. There were besides about a dozen of females, most of whom by this time, owing to Katty's private kindness, were in a placid state of feeling. Father Philemy ex officio, filled the chair—he was a small man with cherub cheeks as red as roses, black twinkling eyes, and double chin; was of the fat-headed genus, and, if phrenologists be correct, must have given indications of early piety, for he was bald before his time, and had the organ of veneration standing visible on his crown; his hair from having once been black, had become an iron gray, and hung down behind his ears, resting on the collar of his coat according to the old school, to which, I must remark, he belonged, having been educated on the Continent. His coat had large double breasts, the lappels of which hung down loosely on each side, being the prototype of his waistcoat, whose double breasts fell downwards in the same manner—his black small-clothes had silver buckles at the knees, and the gaiters, which did not reach up so far, discovered a pair of white lamb's-wool stockings, somewhat retreating from their original color.
Father Con was a tall, muscular, able-bodied young man, with an immensely broad pair of shoulders, of which he was vain; his black hair was cropped close, except a thin portion of it which was trimmed quite evenly across his eyebrows; he was rather bow-limbed, and when walking looked upwards, holding out his elbows from his body, and letting the lower parts of his arms fall down, so that he went as if he carried a keg under each; his coat, though not well made, was of the best glossy broadcloth—and his long clerical boots went up about his knees like a dragoon's; there was an awkward stiffness about him, in very good keeping with a dark melancholy cast of countenance, in which, however, a man might discover an air of simplicity not to be found in the visage of his superior Father Philemy.
The latter gentleman filled the chair, as I said, and carved the goose; on his right sat Captain Wilson; on his left, the auxiliary—next to them Father Con, the nephews, Peter Malone, et cetera. To enumerate the items of the dinner is unnecessary, as our readers have a pretty accurate notion of them from what we have already said. We can only observe, that when Phaddhy saw it laid, and all the wheels of the system fairly set agoing, he looked at Parrah More with an air of triumph which he could not conceal. It is also unnecessary for us to give the conversation in full; nor, indeed, would we attempt giving any portion of it, except for the purpose of showing the spirit in which a religious ceremony such as it is, is too frequently closed.
The talk in the beginning was altogether confined to the clergymen and Mr. Wilson, including a few diffident contributions from "Peter Malone" and the "two nephews."
"Mr. M'Guirk," observed Captain Wilson, after the conversation had taken several turns, "I'm sure that in the course of your professional duties, sir, you must have had occasion to make many observations upon human nature, from the circumstance of seeing it in every condition and state of feeling possible; from the baptism of the infant, until the aged man receives the last rites of your church, and the soothing consolation of religion from your hand."
"Not a doubt of it, Phaddhy," said Father Philemy to Phaddhy, whom he had been addressing at the time, "not a doubt of it; and I'll do everything in my power to get him in* too, and I am told he is bright."
* That is—into Maynooth college—the great object of ambition to the son of an Irish peasant or rather to his parent.
"Uncle," said one of the nephews, "this gentleman is speaking to you."
"And why not?" continued his Eeverence, who was so closely engaged with Phaddhy, that he did not even hear the nephew's appeal—"a bishop—and why not? Has he not as good a chance of being a bishop as any of them? though, God knows, it is not always merit that gets a bishopric in any church, or I myself might—But let that pass." said he, fixing his eyes on the bottle. "Father Philemy," said Father Con, "Captain Wilson was addressing himself to you in a most especial manner."
"Oh! Captain, I beg ten thousand pardons, I was engaged talking with Phaddhy here about his son, who is a young shaving of our cloth, sir, he is intended for the Mission*—Phaddhy, I will either examine him myself, or make Father Con examine him by-and-by.—Well, Captain?" The Captain now repeated what he had said.
* The Church of Rome existing in any heretical country— that is, where she herself is not the State church—is considered a missionary establishment; and taking orders in her is termed "Going upon the Mission." Even Ireland is looked upon as in partibus infidelium, because Protestantism is established by law—hence the phrase above.
"Very true, Captain, and we do see it in as many shapes as ever—Con, what do you call him?—put on him."
"Proteus," subjoined Con, who was famous at the classics.
Father Philemy nodded for the assistance, and continued—"but as for human nature, Captain, give it to me at a good rousing christening; or what is better again, at a jovial wedding between two of my own parishioners—say this pretty fair-haired daughter of Phaddhy Shemus Phaddhy's here, and long Ned Slevin, Parrah More's son there—eh Phaddhy, will it be a match?—what do you say, Parrah More? Upon my veracity I must bring that about."
"Why, then, yer Reverence," replied Phaddhy, who was now a little softened, and forgot his enmity against Parrah More for the present, "unlikelier things might happen."
"It won't be my fault," said Parrah More, "if my son Ned has no objection."
"He object!" replied Father Philemy, "if' I take it in hands, let me see who'll dare to object; doesn't the Scripture say it? and sure we can't go against the Scripture."
"By the by," said Captain Wilson, who was a dry humorist, "I am happy to be able to infer from what you say, Father Philemy, that you are not, as the clergymen of your church are supposed to be, inimical to the Bible."
"Me an enemy to the Bible! no such thing, sir; but, Captain, begging your pardon we will have nothing more about the bible; you see we are met here, as friends and good fellows, to enjoy ourselves after the severity of our spiritual duties, and we must relax a little; we can't always carry long faces like Methodist parsons—come, Pairah More, let the Bible take a nap, and give us a song."
His Reverence was now seconded in his motion by the most of all present, and Parrah More accordingly gave them a song. After a few songs more, the conversation went on as before.
"Now, Parrah More," said Phaddhy, "you must try my wine; I hope it's as good as what you gave his Reverence yesterday." The words, however, had scarcely passed his lips, when Father Philemy burst out into a fit of laughter, clapping and rubbing his hands in a manner the most irresistible. "Oh, Phaddhy, Phaddhy!" shouted his Reverence, laughing heartily, "I done you for once—I done you, my man, cute as you thought yourself: why, you nager you, did you think to put us off with punch, and you have a stocking of hard guineas hid in a hole in the wall?"
"What does yer Rev'rence mane," said Phaddhy; "for myself can make no understanding out of it, at all at all?"
To this his Reverence only replied by another laugh.
"I gave his Reverence no wine," said Parrah More, in reply to Phaddhy's question.
"What!" said Phaddhy, "none yesterday, at the station held with you?"
"Not a bit of me ever thought of it."
"Nor no mutton?"
"Why, then, devil a morsel of mutton, Phaddhy; but we had a rib of beef."
Phaddhy now looked over to his Reverence rather sheepishly, with the smile of a man on his face who felt himself foiled. "Well, yer Reverence has done me, sure enough," he replied, rubbing his head—"I give it up to you, Father Philemy; but any how, I'm glad I got it, and you're all welcome from the core of my heart. I'm only sorry I haven't as much more now to thrate you all like gintlemen; but there's some yet, and as much punch as will make all our heads come round."
Our readers must assist us with their own imaginations, and suppose the conversation to have passed very pleasantly, and the night, as well as the guests, to be somewhat far gone. The principal part of the conversation was borne by the three clergymen, Captain Wilson, and Phaddy; that of the two nephews and Peter Malone ran in an under current of its own; and in the preceding part of the night, those who occupied the bottom of the table, spoke to each other rather in whispers, being too much restrained by that rustic bashfulness which ties up the tongues of those who feel that their consequence is overlooked among their superiors. According as the punch circulated, however, their diffidence began to wear off; and occasionally an odd laugh or so might be heard to break the monotony of their silence. The youngsters, too, though at first almost in a state of terror, soon commenced plucking each other; and a titter, or a suppressed burst of laughter, would break forth from one of the more waggish, who was put to a severe task in afterwards composing his countenance into sufficient gravity to escape detection, and a competent portion of chastisement the next day, for not being able to "behave himself with betther manners."
During these juvenile breaches of decorum, Katty would raise her arm in a threatening attitude, shake her head at them, and look up at the clergy, intimating more by her earnestness of gesticulation than met the ear. Several songs again went round, of which, truth to tell, Father Philomy's were by far the best; for he possessed a rich, comic expression of eye, which, added to suitable ludicrousness of gesture, and a good voice, rendered him highly amusing to the company. Father Con declined singing, as being decidedly serious, though he was often solicited.