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and we had ample room and verge enough to become very intimate with our fair guests; for, as we see in animal nature, how a storm on a hillside or meadow will collect all the sheep closely together, and drive them under the lee of some rock or wall for shelter; so a rainy week in a remote country-house draws the occupants of said mansion closely together, and, in the dearth of out of door occupation, compels them to lean much one on the other, like the huddled sheep in the aforesaid pastoral simile, for supplies and resources of mutual entertainment. And thus it is, that I believe that Eros and his followers Hymen are especially busy on such occasions, when young people are there, so that I think a noble poet, when he enumerates the causes which induce love, and " remove antipathies;" as
"Accident, blind contact, or the strong Necessity of loving,"
might have added in a prosaic note— the subject being too homely for verse a week's rain in an old lonely house."
Gilbert, as I said, was staying with us, and seemed greatly to admire both ladies. A curious circumstance took place during this dispensation of rain which illustrated a point in the character of my cousin, and of Mrs. Cardonald, the elder of our gentle guests.
My uncle and I were sitting writing in the large library, when we heard the voice of Mr. Kildoon pitched in rather a pompous key, holding forth to some one in the corridor, and as the door was wide open we were sensible of the following dialogue
Mrs. Cardonald.-"Most interesting indeed, Mr. Kildoon; quite literary, as one may say, and so delightfully
Gilbert.-"Yes, Mrs. Cardonald, the name is good. It is pure Celtican old time-honoured name; and I assure you of a far more remote origin than my maternal name of Nugent, which is only Norman, and of comparatively recent origin. Kil
doon, or, as I find it in Vallancey and O'Halloran, and other great authorities Kildonnagh --Killi-nadoon---or Kil-na-doon, for the word is spelt all three several ways-signifies the Church of the Fort,' expressive either of the high locality my family occupied, or the martial and clerical professions they filled in the ecclesiastical or military establishment of the day; or, as we say in modern language, the 'church and the army.' The Kildoons are the elder branch of the O'Dondeys, and the O'Mac Philbens, whose vast property lay in the two baronies of* Calrigiamuighemurisk, in Amalgaid, and Con-macni Quiltola; and so I assure you, Mrs. Cardonald, I am not a little proud of my old Irish blood."
It is impossible to express the droll look which beamed over my uncle's face on hearing this harangue; the next moment he advanced to shut the door, saying, "Walter, we must listen no more, lest Gilbert should commence to slander the Nugents; and we should verify the proverb by hearing no good of ourselves." But the descendant of the O'Dondeys,or the O'Donkeys as poor Montfort would infallibly have styled them, had he been here had retired, having soon shot his bolt," as saith another proverb.
"I know not whether to be more amused or amazed," said the General, "with Gilbert. I knew he was proud, but I did not give him credit for all this folly; and how could he venture to pour such a farrago of audacious nonsense into the ear of that poor lady. Yet, positively, both she and her daughter seem to admire Gilbert greatly. Strange that one so shrewd on matters of business as he is, should be so silly on this matter of mere romance; and that one who is so intelligent on the common things of life, should have uttered such a compound of ignorance and conceit as his speech conveyed, I cannot comprehend, unless he has some purpose in view. I should have brought him up less for a clerk, and more for a gentleman, and educated him more
The curious reader may find all these names given in "John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain," published 1596. Speed was originally a tailor, which may partly account for his stitching together such appalling polysyllables as the above. He is mentioned among "Fuller's Worthies" in Cheshire.
liberally. There is nothing like the College and the classics, after all, for giving a man nice tastes, and enlarging the mind," continued the old man, half soliloquizing; "I remember now that he has been rummaging among my old Irish histories for the last month, from which he has picked up this wild family lore, which, I dare say, is as great a myth as the Golden Fleece; and has gotten off by rote these baronies with the unpronouncable names, which are enough to choke a Russian schoolmaster, or dislocate the jaw of a Chinese. I am glad, however, that he is so well satisfied with his own name, and has thus confirmed my judgment in refusing to give him mine."
As my uncle spoke, I called to mind what Montfort had often said, that my cousin had two ruling passions, and both in an intense degree-and these were Avarice and Vanity, lurking in all their violence beneath that sleek demeanour; as we may suppose the fiercest workings of the volcano to be pent up beneath the very spot where the mountain shows smoothest and looks most verdant. And thus I saw how possible it was, in this strange anomaly of our common nature, for strong qualities of reason to lodge in the one mind together with passions 80 contemptible as Vanity, and so irrational as Avarice.
As I descended the stair-case, I saw Gilbert faisant ses adieux at the hall-door to the two ladies. He was going into Galway for a week or two, to visit a friend of his, a Captain O'Skerret, of Castle O'Skerret. I always make it a point to give the full name, for reasons prudential and pacific, inasmuch as I had heard that the said Captain had called a gentleman out, and "took him over the hip," for presuming to abbreviate him in his territorial titles. Yet was the Castle a mere stone bawn, or square tower, built of unhewn masonry, standing in a flat field, or lawn, par excellence, on which thistles sprouted luxuriantly, and donkies browzed luxuriously, and where geese wandered pompously, cackling melodiously. Around the lawn was a wilderness of stone, whole acres of arocky superficies, with scanty patches of earth and herbage peeping out at long intervals-a veritable Arabia Petræa translocated to the wilds
of Galway. A dilapidated gatehouse stood at the top of the field, which looked as if it had sustained a heavy Chancery suit; yet decidedly of a hospitable character, inasmuch as the winds and weather had free ingress by door and window, and no man dwelt there to forbid the intrusion. This, with an unsuccessful attempt at an orchard on the right, and an unwalled garden, with a broken hedge, on the left, formed the frontispiece of the Castle. Behind was a long row of substantial thatched offices; for the Captain, though he had never read Virgil, was a keen admirer of practical Bucolics, and Georgics also, and had some good farms about three miles from his residence. These buildings stood in a wild, littered farm-yard, which had been unswept for years, and unpaved for centuries. Here were armies of turkeys, battalions of ducks, and cohorts of countless cocks and hens; the yard was flanked by a gigantic turf-rick, so high that the Titans might have piled it to scale the heavens; and so large, that the Cyclops might have used it to feed their fires. Opposite to this Olympus of turf smoked an immense Hat manure heap; while in the centre slumbered an old green horsepond, where wriggled comely eels in the verdant mud," and where whole fleets of ducklings were launched each prolific month by their adventurous parents. And concerning which pond, the owner was reported to have saidwhen exhorted by a meddling neighbour to fill it up because of its unwholesomeness-that "he could not spare it, because it was convaynient for the fowl."
These particulars, all taken together, composed the demesne of Dowell O'Skerrett, Esq., of Castle O'Skerrett, late Lieutenant in his Majesty's 62nd Regiment, or the gallant Springers," and Captain par courtesie among friends, retainers, and admirers, with a continuation of the title, no man forbidding, in secula scculorum.
With this Tanist, Gilbert had some way fraternised. The principles of mutual affinity being undiscovered, or at least not yellowing to the surface of observation; and thither now he was about to depart in a new fine gig, and in nasty foul weather; so,
THE good weather seemed to have only waited until my cousin's departure to revisit us again, for next morning the rain had entirely ceased, although the air and ground were as yet all loaded with mist and moisture. We had breakfasted in a little oak room looking out on the back of the house, which was called the "Chess Parlour," and were passing through the hall, when I heard the sound of laughter mingled with the hoarse scrape of a violin; and on reaching the hall-door, I found some of the servants collected before the windows, and gazing on a strange figure, who was dancing on the wet gravel in a most solemn and absurd fashion, while he "humoured" his own steps on a miserable old brokenbridged violin, on whose strings he kept scraping with a violence and an agility of elbow which had much more of miracle than music in it. The figure was middle-sized; lean as a ferret; palefaced; sheep-headed; with a glare from his small, green gooseberry eyes which bespoke a mixture of idiotcy and cunning. On his head he had two old hats surmounting each other, something in the style of the picture of Lord Peter's head-dress in "The Tale of a Tub." On his lank limbs were faded and thin drab trousers, a world too wide for the shrunk shanks they covered, and which flapped to every wind; these terminated in a pair of
And heard from out a hundred caves,
An fairrge na H'Erin, or, The Sea of Ireland.
cotton stockings, once white, but now yellow with use, and age, and ignorance of the laundry. A pair of old dancing pumps, tied with bows of white tape, and which had never known the polishing influence of Day and Martin, completed the furniture of his feet; while his huge boots, out of which he had just stepped, and which evidently had been made for a man twice his size, stood erect and together near where he was capering, as if gravely wondering at their owner's activity, and illustrating, as in a picture, Sloth in inert contemplation of Energy. His coat was long-skirted and ragged, and hung as loosely on him as a suit of cast clothes on a broker's peg. His was Peter Sleveen, fiddler, dancing-master, story-teller, sheepdoctor, and gossip-general to the whole country round about; and not Beau Brummel, in his palmiest days, was ever more popular, or a greater object of admiration, than was Peter to the simple peasantry among whom he moved. No fair, no station, no wedding or christening, no dance, no death, no wake, no burial was deemed complete without the presence of Peter and his fiddle to cheer or to comfort as the case might be. He had picked up some shreds and patches of learning, which he had stitched together till they were absolute nonsense; and these he carried as glibly on his tongue, and as ready
for production, as the kit under his arm. By his own account Peter was Philiposopher," and belonged to the school of "Pollypotaties, or Walking Sect," which he had selected from choice, as his "gaynius inclined more to the infanthry than the cavaldry." He was a disciple also of the goddess "Terpkickory," one of the Nine Graces, "who presided over the aancient science of flure navigayshin, vulgarly called dancing." His violin he called Mrs. Sleveen; "ould his family, he said, were Phaynicians" (a caste above my cousin Gilbert's, and the association made me smile), and his lineal ancestress was Queen Dido herself, who over to Ireland a little after the flood, and took lodgings in the town of Galway, where she was baptized by St. Patrick and St. Larry O'Toole in the blessed well of Tubber ReaMoses and Nebbycodnazor standing godfathers for the occasion." When worn out with dancing, he would commence story-telling, in which he had great encouragement from the unwearied interest displayed by his auditory; and when tired of romancing in prose, he would take to rhyming, and pour the doggrel off his tongue as fast as marbles could hop and tumble from a school-boy's bag.
I recollect an improvisation which he delivered to Madeline, after she had ordered him to have his breakfast from the parlour window, and which has clung to my memory ever since, in company, I grieve to say, with many other unprofitable things. It was as follows:--
Of elegant crame,
Which from Drimendhu came:
And this he concluded with a flourish on his violin, or a profusion of bows, or a caper or two cut in the air, and all the time looking as grave as an owl at a funeral, and as solemn and as doleful as if he was just on the eve of being led out to be hanged. My uncle pitied him, but never would witness his dancing, which he thought a wretched and contemptible way of earning his bread; and so the good old man, being well-assured of the creature's honesty, had offered to make him messenger to the post and town, and give him an old mule to carry him by day, and a comfortable lodge at our back gate to shelter him by night, and a fair compensation in wages for his trouble. But this proffer was declined with many thanks, and bows innumerable, with the excuse of there being but the one man who taught dancing in the country, viz., himself, and therefore he could not be spared; and on the personal plea of expe"Flure Navidiency, inasmuch as gayshin" was absolutely necessary for the said Peter's happiness and health. On the present occasion he "Rooshian Dingwas performing a dongo, one of the latest arrivals from the island of Bohaymia ;" and the execution of which greatly amused Mrs. Cardonald and her fair daughter-the latter entering into it with a gusto which quite astonished me, and made my uncle, to whom I mentioned her enjoyment of it afterwards, cry, "Phoo, phoo!" But Peter's chef d'enere was his "Paw sowl" (pas
seal), which consisted in his hopping on one leg, and howling out a recitation of gibberish which he asserted was French; while his bow and fiddle were moved so rapidly and violently up and down, rasping, and scraping, and tearing, and throttling each other like two dogs fighting, that they seemed almost an integral part of his excitable self, and gave the spectator the idea that the whole concern, artist and instrument, was labouring under an active paroxysm of the falling sickness.
When he had finished his "Navigayshin," and partaken of a good luncheon, under the beef-and-beeradministering auspices of Mrs. Doxey --and, like all lean men, he was a huge feeder" -he slipped his pumps into one of his pockets, and a-halfcrown my uncle sent him into the other, and drawing on his large heavy boots over his trousers, and making a profusion of solemn bows, he went clattering up the avenue like a cat shod with cockles, and evanished from sight in a loose trot.
On his departure, one of the grooms -a new comer-brought me a note which Peter had delivered to him "for the General's nephew." I opened it without looking at the address, though the seal-a very beautifully cut coat of arms-took my attention for a minute. The billet ran thus:
The rain had now ceased for several hours, and as we sat at an early luncheon, my uncle announced that the weather-glass was looking up" and that the wind was veering to the north-west. As he spoke, a bright sun ray streamed in on his face and form, and rested on the Admiral's old chair; and the next moment a dull, thundering sound like the distant but distinct report of a large pięce of artillery was heard by us all. "Ha!" said the General, "that shot is from Thubber-a-Thallin, the largest of our puffing holes, and it is fully three
miles off. There must be a springtide running now; and see, the seagulls are wheeling over the lawn. Depend upon it, we shall have a gale of wind, and there will be a magnificent surf breaking all along our coast in a few hours. Now, ladies, if you want to see the grand old Atlantic in all its magnificence, and are not afraid of a little fatigue, we will order the jaunting-car, and the two little mules will take us to the cliffs swiftly and safely; and if you are afraid of rain, I believe we have muting enough in this house to thatch a whole barony of adventurous ladies." Mrs. Carndonald and her daughter were but too happy at the proposal; and, truth to say, we were all delighted to get out once more into the free air, after our long and doleful incarceration by that dripping janitor, the rain.
The mules flew with us up the avenue. The General's Yorkists could not equal them in their trot. On leaving the avenue we made right across the rabbit warren, through which ran a road, flanked by sand hillocks and bent grass: startled by our approach, thousands of the timid population were seen scampering to their holes, kicking up their hind legs, and evanishing with a parting glance of their white tails into their burrows. The General called them his Troglodyte subjects. On emerging from the warren, we turned off at right angles towards the cliffs; our road now was parallel to the sea, and as Miss Cardonald and I occupied the side of the car next it, its appearance was inexpressibly grand and sublime. It was all in billowy foam, the waves rolling in like liquid mountains, and breaking and crashing on the beach, like the hoarse clangor and bray of ten thousand brazen trumpets. The gale was frshening every minute, and the mighty yet melodious noise of the rejoicing sea, with its warring, clashing, bursting and battling waves, was momentarily becoming louder and more exciting on the senses. I stole a look at my companion, but I think she generally repelled my enthusiasm by never sharing it, and I felt reproved under the coldness of her want of sympathy; and timid to express emotions which I was afraid she considered as appertaining more