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THE STAGE COACH.
Now there is nothing gives a man such spirits,
Leavening his blood as Cayenne doth a curry,
I have long ceased to wonder at the seemingly idle crowd that collects around our stage coaches, as they come into a country town. It is a fine sight to see one of these leathern conveniences, as the Quakers call them, whirl along at eight miles an hour, the guard playing some favourite tune on his Kent-bugle, and every turn of the road revealing its nearer approach, loaded with passengers. There is so much of life and motion in the sight-so much to excite curiosity—to gratify speculation-so much that is congenial to human sympathy and feeling, that it would surprise me greatly if men passed on without taking an interest in the busy scene.
You may expect to see a very pretty face; and who does not like to behold one? You may chance to recognize among the passengers an old friend or acquaintance. You may derive amusement from guessing at the probable inducements which have set these strangers in motion; and employ your fancy in conjuring up visions equally as unsubstantial but fully as entertaining as many a reality.
Thus I sometimes gaze, and smile at my own ideas as they pass through the wonderful organs of reflection. However, I was too well rewarded, the other day, by absolutely discovering a very dear old brother Sub, most unexpectedly, on the box seat, not to recommend looking at all passing stage coaches. We had been chess friends in the Deckan; and that delightful game has, among its other fine properties, the power of attaching one mind to another. Good players are old acquaintances at the first game ; firm friends after a few checkmates, and never forget each other in life. But as keeping up correspondence at a distance is as inconsistent with half-pay arrangements as Captain Clutterbuck's horse discovered hay and oats to be, our faces remained among the treasures of memory
only. From that invaluable mine they were, however, drawn forth in a moment; and the coach had no sooner stopped before the King's Arms of Newry, than our right hands were locked in the familiar recognition of Auld Lang Syne, and “ Why, Jack, who expected to see thee here?"_“ Why, Charles, who expected to find thee here?” fell from our tongues.
I found that my excellent checkmate, Jack Malony, late of his Majesty's regiment, was going to Belfast on some business, of little importance to my reader. He had started that morning from the Waterford Hotel, Dublin ; and how he got thither, with other particulars, in which curiosity may possibly feel an interest, shall perhaps appear in the sequel.
“ We part not thus, dear Jack,” said I : “let the Fair Trader proceed, and pocket thy remaining fare ; it is all business-like. But you will accompany me to my mountain cottage in this immediate neighbourhood. We shall have a pleasant resource, after you give me the history of your changes, since we last met, in the
games; and I need not say how happy it will make my Mary to see her husband's old friend.”
Crack went the whip, and off started the Fair Trader, to the tune of “ Patrick's day in the morning," while Jack and I, followed by his travelling trunk, directed our course towards my jaunting car, which conveyed us in Irish style, back to back, to the bottom of Constitution-hill. Here we dismounted; and having panted up into a purer atmosphere, you may conceive my good-natured lady extending her hand to Jack Malony. This being over, and dinner removed, you may as readily picture the scene. My dear Mary in the nursery, surrounded by many a pledge of love, and Jack Malony, with her husband, seated in unceremonious attitude near a comfortable fire, a decanter of good old port, a flask of right native malt, lump sugar, boiling water, lemon peel, and all other et cætera which the land of potatoes thinks essential to afterdinner enjoyment.
“ So, Jack,” said I, “you have been residing near Cork, in the heart of blood and murder. How did you escape ? A man of your sensibility must have been deeply affected by the scenes of misery and atrocity which fell, no doubt, in three of unexampled resistance to order, under your own observation."
“ I have seen enough,” replied Jack, “ to confirm my opinion that the case of our unfortunate country is deeply to be deplored by every man of sense ; yet what I have witnessed leads to the conclusion, that, of all parts of Europe, this Emerald Isle has within itself the largest portion of natural wealth, with all the elements of prosperity ; and that, when time and capital shall have evolved the advantages which inunificent Providence has in store for us, as there is no land that deserves a better fate, from the generous dispositions of her sons and daughters, so there will not be in the world a more happy and flourishing people than the united children of Erin. How did I escape ? you ask.—Why, every one knew my misfortunes ; every one respected my father : he was a man of no party-loyal to his king—true to his country-commiserating the evils which he had no power to arrest. Every one knew that he had lost nearly all his property by the failure of the Fermoy bank, and that, when he was a man of fortune and a magistrate in the county, the poor peasantry found in him a benevolent friend, a kind considerate landlord, and a just and upright protector of the feeble against the strong. They were