網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

MEMOIRS.

CHAPTER I.

I have the advantage of being an Irishman. My parents had also the felicity of first seeing the light of day as it shone upon the soil of the land which for ages has seemed to possess such passing interest in the eyes of Britain. Their family consisted of six children : four boys, and two girls. I was the youngest of the whole, and, for reasons I do not profess to comprehend, was a special favourite. I was named Thomas ; which, interpreted by parental love, was converted into Benjamin, with a double portion of all that substance so scanty as theirs could supply. I was born in the small townsland of Enneham, King's County, in the province of Leinster, about the year 1790, be the same a little earlier or later. The exact period I cannot specify; as at that time and place, and in consequence of the culpable negligence generally prevalent in parochial registration, very little thought or care was shown in recording such events. Those were the days of intestine broil and vengeance.

The seeds of rebellion, which had been sown with an unsparing and remorseless hand, were just ready to produce their baneful first-fruit. Such was the jeopardy in which Protestants especially were placed, that no one who beheld the morning

B

sun arise, could safely calculate upon seeing it go down. “Domestic fury, and fierce civil strife," kindled and mainly maintained by Papal cupidity and violence, raged through the fairest portions of the country. No one had courage to trust his neighbours; for no one could tell who was worthy of trust. Mutual confidence, based upon moral principle, which alone can cement society, was blotted from the list of social virtues. Not many dared depend even upon

former friends, The ties of relationship, and those arising from nearness of kin, were frequently forgotten. Natural affection, usually invincible, was unheeded ; and under cover of night, or even in open day, the unwary traveller became frequently a prey to instantaneous death from the bullet of some skulking assassin, concealed behind the road-side bush or brake.

My parents, I regret to state, were Roman Catholics. They knew no better, for no other teaching had reached their minds. Their membership with that fallen community was their misfortune rather than their fault. I believe the profession they made was sincere; and that though mingled with the dross of Popish superstition, they were possessors of at least some few grains of sterling piety. My mother, in particular, was remarkably constant and fervid in her devotions; and the earnest manner in which her beads were counted, though I could never detect the meritorious points of calculation, is to be numbered among the earliest and most powerful impressions I ever received. My father had for several

years

acted as steward to Archibald Nevens, Esq., a gentleman, who, at that time, was the owner of considerable estates in the vicinity of Portarlington. Ours was a happy family. My father, though a plain man, was excelled by few in attachment to his wife and children. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »