The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Irish Penny Journal, Vol. 1 No. 24, December 12, 1840

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Title: The Irish Penny Journal, Vol. 1 No. 24, December 12, 1840

Author: Various

Release date: April 8, 2017 [eBook #54509]

Language: English

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[Pg 185]


Number 24. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1840. Volume I.
The castle of Donegal


The ruins of the old castellated Mansion of Donegal are not only interesting as affording, to use the words of Sir R. Colt Hoare, “a good subject for the pencil,” but still more as a touching memorial of the fallen fortunes of a long-time powerful and illustrious family, the ancient lords of Tirconnell. These ruins are situated on the north bank of the little river Easky, or the fishy river, at the extremity of the town to which, as well as to the county, it has given its name. This name, however, which signifies literally the Dun, or Fort of the Foreigners, is of much higher antiquity than the castle erected here by the O’Donnells, and was, there can be no doubt, originally applied to a fortress, most probably of earth, raised here by the Danes or Northmen anterior to the twelfth century; for it appears unquestionable that the Irish applied the appellations Gaill exclusively to the northern rovers, anterior to the arrival of the English. Of the early history of this dun or fortress there is nothing preserved beyond the bare fact recorded in the Annals of Ulster, that it was burnt by Murtogh M’Loughlin, the head of the northern Hy-Niall race, in the year 1159. We have, however, an evidence of the connection of the Danes with this locality more than two centuries earlier, in a very valuable poem which we shall at no remote time present to our readers, addressed by the Tirconnellian bard, Flan Mac Lonan, to Aighleann and Cathbar, the brothers of Domhnall, from whom the name of O’Donnell is derived. In this poem, which was composed at the commencement of the tenth century, the poet relates that Egneachan, the father of Donnell, gave his three beautiful daughters, Duibhlin, Bebua, and Bebinn, in marriage to three Danish princes, Caithis, Torges, and Tor, for the purpose of obtaining their friendship, and to secure his territory from their depredations; and these marriages were solemnised at Donegal, where Egneachan then resided.

But though we have therefore evidence that a fort or dun existed here from a very remote time, it would appear certain, from a passage in the Annals of the Four Masters, that a castle, properly so called, was not erected at Donegal by the O’Donnells till the year 1474. In this passage, which records the death of Hugh Roe, the son of Niall Garve O’Donnell, at the year 1505, it is distinctly stated that he was the first that erected a castle at Donegal, that it might serve as a fortress for his descendants; and that he also erected as it would appear, at the same time, a monastery for Observantine Franciscans near the same place, and in which he was interred in the seventy-eighth year of his age, and forty-fourth of his reign. From this period forward the Castle of Donegal became the chief residence of the chiefs of Tirconnell, till their final extinction in the reign of James I., and was the scene of many a petty domestic feud and conflict. From a notice of one of these intestine broils, as recorded in the[Pg 186] Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1564, it would appear that shortly previous to that period a tower, called “the New Tower,” had been added to the older structure. This tower being at that time in the possession of Hugh, the grandson of the builder of the original castle, while the latter was inhabited by his fraternal nephews, Con, the son of Calvarch, then Prince of Tirconnell, in the absence of his father, attempted to get possession of both, and nearly succeeded, when he was made captive by O’Neill.

Towards the close of the great war with the Earl of Tyrone in 1601, this castle, as well as the adjacent monastery, having been placed in the hands of the Queen’s troops, through the instrumentality of Niall Garve O’Donnell, it was besieged and taken by the celebrated leader, Red Hugh O’Donnell, who afterwards blockaded the English in the monastery, from the end of September till the end of October following. But though the besieged were reduced to the utmost extremity, in consequence of the explosion of their powder by some accident, which reduced the greater part of the monastery to ruins, they maintained their position with undaunted bravery, and O’Donnell finally raised the siege, and passed into Munster to join the Spaniards. It appears, however, from a contemporaneous poem, addressed to the ruins of this castle, a translation of which we shall presently lay before our readers, that O’Donnell did not depart from his native territory, never to return, till he had reduced the proud castle of his ancestors to a ruined pile, assigning as a reason, that it should never become what its name indicated—a fortress for strangers!

Whether this castle was subsequently repaired or reconstructed by Red Hugh’s brother Rory, the Earl of Tirconnell, during the few years for which he held his earldom previous to his flight to Rome, does not appear from any document which has fallen under our notice, and we are inclined to believe that he did not do so. But be this as it may, the existing ruins retain no feature of a castle of the 15th century, but on the contrary are in every respect characteristic of the castellated residences of the reign of James I.; so that if it be of Rory O’Donnell’s age, he must have rebuilt the mansion from its foundation. It appears, however, at least equally probable that the present structure may owe its re-erection to Sir Basil Brooke, to whom a grant of the castle was made in 1610. But it is certain, at all events, that he repaired the castle and resided in it until his death in 1633; and two chimney-pieces which still remain are unquestionably of his time, as the arms on one of them testify. These arms, which are sculptured on two shields, are, on the first, those of Brooke impaling Leicester—the family name of Sir Basil’s lady; and on the second, those of Brooke only. These chimney-pieces, which are very splendid specimens of the architectural taste of the age, are faithfully represented in wood-cuts in the second volume of the Dublin Penny Journal, and are accompanied by an excellent notice from the pen, as we believe, of Sir William Betham. In this notice it is stated that the Castle of Donegal “was granted by patent, dated the 16th November 1610, to Captain Basil Brooke, for twenty-one years, if he should live so long, with one hundred acres of land, and the fishings, customs, and duties extending along the river from the castle to the sea. Captain Brooke was knighted 2d February 1616, by Sir Arthur Chichester, knight, Lord Deputy, and had a re-grant of twenty-one years, or his life, of the castle by patent, dated 27th July 1620, and on the 12th February 1623, he had a grant of the fee of the castle for ever.”

According to the same authority, this “Sir Basil Brooke was a scion of the family of Brooke of Norton, in Cheshire, and his lady was Anne, daughter of Thomas Leicester of Toft, in that county. Henry Vaughan Brooke, Esq. Member of Parliament for the county of Donegal, was his descendant and heir-at-law, who left the estates of his family to his nephew Thomas Grove, Esq. who took the name and arms of Brooke by royal sign-manual in 1808. He died without issue, and the estates of the family went to Thomas Young, Esq. of Lough Esk, who also took the name of Brooke by royal sign-manual, dated 16th July 1830, and is the present possessor.”

During the troubles of 1641, the Castle of Donegal was garrisoned for the king by Sir Henry Brooke, the son of Sir Basil; but was taken in May 1651 by the Marquess of Clanricarde, who was joined by the Ulster forces under Sir Phelim O’Neill, when the O’Reillys and the MacMahons joined with him. But the castle was shortly afterwards abandoned by him, on receiving intelligence of the advance of Sir Charles Coote, into whose possession it then fell. Since that period the Castle of Donegal has never we believe been used as a residence, and no care has been taken to save it from the ruined state in which it now appears. It is, however, to the credit of its present possessor that he has taken every care to delay as much as possible the further ravages of time on a structure so interesting in its associations with the past.

It is indeed impossible to look on this venerable pile without carrying our minds back to the days of its proud but unfortunate chiefs; and in our feelings of pity for their fate, indulging such sentiments as one of their last bards has attempted to express in the following poem, addressed to its ruins, and of which we give a literal translation. It is the composition of Malmurry Mac-an-Ward, or the son of the bard, and was written on the demolition of the castle by Red Hugh O'Donnell in 1601.


O, solitary fort that standest yonder,
What desolation dost thou not reveal!
How tarnished is the beauty of thine aspect,
Thou mansion of the chaste and gentle melodies!
Demolished lie thy towering battlements—
The dark loam of the earth has risen up
Over the whiteness of thy polished stones;
And solitude and ruin gird thee round.
Thy end is come, fair fortress, thou art fallen—
Thy magical prestige has been stripped off—
Thy well-shaped corner-stones have been displaced
And cast forth to the outside of thy ramparts.
In lieu of thy rich wine feasts, thou hast now
Nought but the cold stream from the firmament;
It penetrates thee on all sides,
Thou mansion like Emania the golden.
Thy doorways are, alas! filled up,
Thou fortress of the once bright doors!
The limestones of thy top lie at thy base,
On all the sides of thy fair walls.
Over the mouldings of thy shattered windows,
The music that to-day breaks forth
Is the wild music of the birds and winds,
The voices of the stormy elements!
O, many-gated Court of Donegal,
What spell of slumber overcame thee,
Thou mansion of the board of flowing goblets,
To make thee undergo this rueful change?
Thou wert, O, happy one of the bright walls,
The Fortress of the Meetings of Clann-Connell,
The Tara of Assemblies to Conn’s offspring,
O, thou resplendent fount of nobleness!
Thou rivalledst Emania in Ulster,
Thou wert the peer of Cruachan in Connaught,
Or of the mansion over the bright Boyne,
Thou Rome of all delight for Erin!
In thee, thou fair, capacious dome,
Where Ulster’s tributes prodigally spent,
And Connaught’s tributes were poured into thee,
Deserted though thou art this night!
From thee have we beheld—delightful sight!—
From the high pinnacles of thy purple turrets,
Long lines of ships at the approach of May,
With masts and snow-white sails.
From the high pinnacles of thy white watch-towers
We have seen the fleetness of the youthful steeds,
The bounding of the hounds, the joyous chase,
Thou pleasant fastness of unnumbered plains!
Within thee at the festive board
We have seen the strong battalions of the Gael,
And outside on thy wide green court,
After the meeting and the feasting.
Alas for this event, O Dun-na-Gall!
Sad is the lethargy that trances thee,
It is my grief to see thee thus deserted,
Without thy nobles, without mirth to-night!
Although thy ruins now bestrew the soil,
There have come of the race of Connell
Some men who would have mourned thy downfall,
O, thou fair fortress of the smooth-clad nobles!
[Pg 187]
Manus O’Donnell’s noble mind,
Had he but heard of thy disasters,
O, fortress of the regal towers,
Would suffer deepest anguish for thee!
Could Hugh, the son of Hugh, behold
The desolation of thy once white walls,
How bitter, O, thou palace of the kings,
His grief would be for thy decline and fall!
If thus thou couldst have been beheld
By Hugh Roe, who demolished thee,
Methinks his triumph and delight would cease,
Thou beautiful, time-hallowed house of Fertas!
O, never was it dreamed that one like him,
That one sprung from the Tirconnellians,
Could bring thee to this woeful state,
Thou bright-streamed fortress of the embellished walls!
From Hugh O’Donnell, thine own king,
From him has come this melancholy blow,
This demolition of thy walls and towers,
O, thou forsaken fortress o’er the Easky!
Yet was it not because he wished thee ill
That he thus left thee void and desolate;
The king of the successful tribe of Dalach
Did not destroy thee out of hatred.
The reason that he left thee as thou art
Was lest the black ferocious strangers
Should dare to dwell within thy walls,
Thou fair-proportioned, speckled mansion!
Lest we should ever call thee theirs,
Should call thee in good earnest Dun-na-gall,
This was the reason, Fortress of the Gaels,
That thy fair turrets were o’erthrown.
Now that our kings have all been exiled hence
To dwell among the reptiles of strange lands,
It is a woe for us to see thy towers,
O, bright fort of the glossy walls!
Yet, better for thee to be thus destroyed
By thine own king than that the truculent Galls
Should raise dry mounds and circles of great stones
Around thee and thy running waters!
He who has brought thee to this feebleness,
Will soon again heal all thy wounds,
So that thou shall not sorrow any more,
Thou smooth and bright-walled mansion!
As doth the surgeon, if he be a true one,
On due examination of his patient,
Thy royal chief has done by thee,
Thou shield and bulwark of the race of Coffey!
The surgeon, on examining his patient,
Knows how his illness is to be removed,
Knows where the secret of his health lies hid,
And where the secret of his malady.
Those members that are gangrened or unsound
He cuts away from the more healthy trunk
Before they mortify, and so bring death
Without remead upon the sufferer.
Now, thy disease is obviously the Galls,
And thy good surgeon is thy chief, O’Donnell,
And thou thyself, thou art the prostrate patient
O, green-hued mansion of the race of Dalach!
With God’s will; and by God’s permission,
Thy beauty shall yet put to shame thy meanness,
Thy variegated courts shall be rebuilt
By that great Chief who laid thee low!
As Hugh Roe, king of the Connellians
Was he who laid thy speckled walls in ruins,
He will again renew thy greatness,
Yes, he will be thy best physician!

Wickedness may well be compared to a bottomless pit, into which it is easier to keep oneself from falling, than having fallen into, to stay oneself from falling infinitely.—Sir P. Sydney.

If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independence with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.—Day.



Man has been somewhere described as a “bundle of sensations;” and certainly if ever sensations were capable of being packed together, they would make a bundle, and a good large one too. I am not a physiologist, or even a doctor, so cannot pretend to speak very learnedly on this subject: but as we all in common have “our sensations,” he must be rather a dull fellow, I should think, who would have nothing to say when they were laid upon the table for discussion. Even if he were a Jew, he might repeat with Shylock, “Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?” and so on.

When one considers the amazing number and variety of the feelings, or perceptions arising out of impressions on the senses, of which we are capable, we discover a new and interesting proof that we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I was struck by this fact the other day, on hearing a young medical student say that he had been reading a “descriptive catalogue” of “pains,” which had been made out with great care for the use of the profession. People, when going to consult a physician, are often at a loss to describe the manner in which they are affected, and particularly the nature and character of the painful sensation that afflicts them. To assist them in this respect, and the physician in obtaining a correct idea of the case, this catalogue was made out, and highly useful I think it must be for the proposed end. The patient may thus readily meet with something answering to his own case, and lay his finger on the classification that suits him. I am sorry I have not the list by me, for I am sure it would be a curious novelty to many. There are however in it the “dull, aching pain,” the “sharp pricking pain,” the pendulum-like “going-and-returning pain,” the “throbbing pain,” the “flying-to-the-head and sickening pain,” the hot-scalding or burning pain, the pins and needles or nettle pain, pains deep seated and pains superficial, and, in short, an infinite variety, made out with nice discrimination, and all taken, I dare say, from life. None indeed could have drawn it out but one who had studied in some lazar-house, wherein, as Milton describes,

“were laid
Numbers of all diseased; all maladies
Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture; qualms
Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds;
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs—
Intestine stone and ulcer, colic pangs”—&c., &c.

There is a variety in pain, then, as well as in every thing else; but it is a variety in which few, I believe, ever found a “charm” experimentally. But there is a special wonder in the matter which forces us to exclaim, “What a piece of workmanship is man!” We are here speaking of sensations, or of perceptions arising from our bodily structure; and to these perceptions it is plainly necessary that there should be a chain of communication between the part of the body affected, and the sensorium, or seat of perception in the brain. I remember being amused with the surprise of an intelligent little girl, who complained of a sore finger, and a pain “in the finger,” on hearing for the first time that the pain was not “in her finger,” but in her own perception of it. It seemed a contradiction to her immediate experience; but on being shown that the pain she felt ceased when the nervous communication between the finger and the brain was interrupted, which could be easily done by a ligature placed above the part affected, she readily understood the distinction sought to be conveyed to her mind, namely, the difference between a diseased action in any part of the body, and our painful perception of its existence. There must be a “nerve” to “telegraph” the fact to the mind, otherwise the fact would not be consciously known. Well, then, this being the case, only consider what an infinite number of these nerves there must be in the human body, merely for the purpose of conveying disagreeable impressions, or what I may call bad news, to head-quarters! They are very useful, it is true; but like other messengers of unpleasant intelligence, not much in favour. It is dangerous, however, to do them any harm. My readers have heard perhaps of the farrier who used to cure lame horses so rapidly, that he was the astonishment of all who consulted him. A horse would be brought to him scarce putting his toe to the ground, limping and shambling in a miserable manner, and, as if by magic, this veterinary artist would send him trotting off to all appearance quite cured. His[Pg 188] secret consisted in dividing the nerve, or, as I may say, slaying the messenger of evil: the consequence of which was, that the poor horse, no longer conscious of the malady in his hoof, leaned heavily upon it, and ultimately became incurably lamed for life.

So much as to our sensations of pain. But fortunately for us there is another class, and this comprising, according to some, a family very nearly if not altogether as numerous—I mean our sensations of the pleasurable kind. “Man,” saith the Scripture, “roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire.” This includes the comforts of a good dinner, and a cheerful fire-side on a winter’s evening, and most people will agree with me these are no bad things, especially with a group of happy smiling faces about us. The inlets to our agreeable perceptions are certainly not so numerous as those to the opposite kind, as we are approachable by pain from every part of the body without exception, but it is otherwise with our “notions of the agreeable.” However, they can reach us in tolerable abundance through the eye, the ear, the taste (including the smell), and the touch. It may be as well to record here, for the benefit of posterity—as with the rapid increase of railroads, and other improved modes of travelling and living in these days, it stands a chance of being forgotten hereafter—that to one who has been up all night in a close coach, “four inside,” or has dined at a Lord’s Mayor’s inauguration dinner, partaking largely of the good things, the warm bath is a highly agreeable and efficacious restorative, and that he is indebted in this case to the entire envelope of his epidermis, and not to any one part in particular, for the pleasing sensation he experiences. There are other modes of exciting the pleasurable on this wholesale plan, such as shampooing, as it is practised in the east, and suddenly plunging into the snow after stewing in vapour, as they do in Russia, and so on; but as I have never myself been “done” by any of these processes, I do not take upon me to recommend them. I am not an advocate for tickling. The laughter which it excites is one to which we give way with reluctance, and its pleasure is equivocal. I have seen poor children tickled nearly to death, and feel a great horror of that mode of making my exit from all the consciousnesses that belong to this mortal coil.

As to the innumerable sensations of agreeableness which we may receive through the eye, including all that may be seen—the ear encompassing all the concords of sweet sounds—the warbling of birds—the voice of the beloved, and all the melody of song—through the taste, with all its varieties—what gives to the peach its melting richness?—to generous wine its elevating gentlemanliness of flavour?—to meats, soups, and sauces, all their delicious gusto?—to the rose its sweetness?—to the cinnamon tree and the orange grove their spicy fragrance? Whence come all the delightful visions of the opium-eater? He lives whilst under the influence of the drug in a world of ecstacy: his soul teems with the most pleasing fancies; all around him is soft and soothing; whatever he sees or hears, ministers to delight.

If you have never lit your cigar as you sallied forth with dog and gun on a fine December morning, let me tell you, gentle reader, that you have missed a sensation worth getting up to enjoy. But not to lose ourselves in a wilderness of sweets, or to forget our great argument, what is the immediate cause of all these so agreeable effects? Why, a peculiar organization of our bodies, fitted to receive every imaginable impression from without, whether of the painful or the agreeable kind, and to transmit that impression, when received, to the seat of perception within.

We call it the nervous system; and what I would beg my readers to consider is, how wonderful, how curious, above all comprehension or explanation, that apparatus in our construction must be, to which we owe such an infinite variety of sensations, and those of the most opposite kinds! It baffles the skill of the anatomist to unveil its mysteries: no needle can trace its ligaments; yet it is a real, substantial thing, of whose existence we have perfect assurance by the very palpable effects which it produces.

Thus much for our different and various sensations arising from outward impressions; but there is yet a third class, in which, by a sort of reflection, our nerves perform an important function, and transmit the action begun in the mind to the seat of emotion, or the soul. Hence the joy of the mathematician at the discovery of some important problem, or of the poet at hitting upon some long-sought-for rhyme with answering metre. In such cases the mind, or pure intellect, originates, and the body “takes the signal” from it. There is a reciprocity between them, and it is well when, like some loving couples, they dwell on good terms together. When, happily, this is the case, there is much peace “at home:” the senses do not seek for gratifications which the mind disapproves, and the mind does not apply to them for pleasures which are forbidden.

However, I shall not enter upon this further disquisition—highly interesting though it be—at present, but shall reserve it in order that we may resume it with due deliberation, and do it that justice which it so well deserves, at another opportunity.




(Second Article.)

In a former paper we gave an authentic account of what the country folks, and we ourselves at the time, looked upon as a genuine instance of apparition. It appeared to the simple-minded to be a clear and distinct case, exhibiting all those minute and subordinate details which, by an arrangement naturally happy and without concert, go to the formation of truth. There was, however, but one drawback in the matter, and that was the ludicrous and inadequate nature of the moral motive; for what unsteady and derogatory notions of Providence must we not entertain when we see the order and purposes of his divine will so completely degraded and travestied by the fact of a human soul returning to this earth again for the ridiculous object of settling the claim to a pair of breeches!

When we see the succession to crowns and kingdoms, and the inheritance to large territorial property and great personal rank, all left so completely undecided that ruin and desolation have come upon nations and families in attempting their adjustment, and when we see a laughable dispute about a pair of breeches settled by a personal revelation from another life, we cannot help asking why the supernatural intimation was permitted in the one case and not in the other, especially when their relative importance differed so essentially? To follow up this question, however, by insisting upon a principle so absurd, would place Providence in a position so perfectly unreasonable and capricious, that we do not wish to press the inference so far as admission of divine interference in such a manner would justify us in doing.

Having detailed the case of Daly’s daughter, however, we take our leave of the girl and the ghost, and turn now to another case which came under our own observation in connection with Frank Martin and the fairies. Before commencing, however, we shall by way of introduction endeavour to give our readers a few short particulars as to fairies, their origin, character, and conduct. And as we happen to be on this subject, we cannot avoid regretting that we have not by us copies of two most valuable works upon it from the pen of our learned and admirable countryman, Thomas Keightly—we allude to his Fairy Mythology and his History of the Transmission of Popular Fictions; two works which cannot be perused without delight at the happy manner in which so much learning and amusement, so much solid information, and all that is agreeable in extensive research, are inimitably combined. We are sorry, we repeat, that we have them not by us; but we trust that we may on some early occasion be allowed to notice them at greater length, and to give them a more formal recommendation to our countrymen.

With the etymology of the word fairy we do not intend in a publication like this to puzzle our readers. It is with the tradition connected with the thing that we have to do, and not with a variety of learned speculations, which appear after all to be yet unsettled. The general opinion, in Ireland at least, is, that during the war of Lucifer in heaven the angels were divided into three classes. The first class consisted of those faithful spirits who at once and without hesitation adhered to the standard of the Omnipotent; the next consisted of those who openly rebelled and followed the great apostate, sharing eternal perdition along with him; the third and last consisted of those who, during the mighty clash and uproar of the contending hosts, stood timidly aloof and refused to join either power. These, says the tradition, were hurled out of heaven, some upon earth and some into the waters of the earth, where they are to remain ignorant of their fate until[Pg 189] the day of judgment. They know their own power, however, and it is said that nothing but their hopes of salvation prevent them from at once annihilating the whole human race. Such is the broad basis of the general superstition; but our traditional history and conception of the popular fairy falls far short of the historical dignity associated with its origin. The fairy of the people is a diminutive creature, generally dressed in green, irritable, capricious, and quite unsteady in all its principles and dealings with mankind. Sometimes it exhibits singular proofs of ingenuity, but, on the contrary, is frequently overreached by mere mortal capacity. It is impossible to say in dealing with it whether its conduct will be found benevolent or otherwise, for it often has happened that its threats of injury have ended in kindness, and its promises of protection terminated in malice and treachery. What is very remarkable too is, that it by no means appears to be a mere spirit, but a being with passions, appetites, and other natural wants like ourselves. Indeed, the society or community of fairies appears to be less self-dependent than ours, inasmuch as there are several offices among them which they not only cannot perform, but which render it necessary that we should be stolen and domiciled with them, for the express purpose of performing for them. Like us they are married and given in marriage, and rear families; but whether their offspring are subject to death, is a matter not exactly of the clearest. Some traditions affirm that they are, and others that they are as immortal as the angels, although possessing material bodies analogous to our own. The fairy, in fact, is supposed to be a singular mixture of good and evil, not very moral in its actions or objects, often very thievish, and sometimes benevolent when kindness is least expected from it. It is generally supposed by the people that this singular class of fictitious creatures enjoy as a kind of right the richest and best of all the fruits of the earth, and that the top grain of wheat, oats, &c., and the ripest apple, pear, &c., all belong to them, and are taken as their own exclusive property.

They have also other acknowledged rights which they never suffer to be violated with impunity. For instance, wherever a meal is eaten upon the grass in an open field, and the crumbs are not shaken down upon the spot for their use, there they are sure to leave one of their curses called the far gurtha, or the hungry man: for whoever passes over that particular spot for ever afterwards is liable to be struck down with weakness and hunger; and unless he can taste a morsel of bread, he neither will nor can recover. The weakness in this instance, however, is not natural, for if the person affected but tastes as much meal or flour as would lie on the point of a penknife, he will instantaneously break the spell of the fairies, and recover his former strength. Such spots are said to be generally known by their superior verdure: they are always round, and the diameter of these little circles is seldom more than a single step. The grass which grows upon them is called in the north and parts of the north-west hungry-grass, and is accounted for as we have already stated. Indeed, the walks and haunts of the fairies are to be considered as very sacred and inviolate. For instance, it is dangerous to throw out dirty water after dusk or before sunrise, lest in doing so you bespatter them with a liquid as unsavoury to the smell as it is unclean to the touch: for these little gentry are peculiarly fond of cleanliness and neatness, both in dress and person. Bishop Andrews’s Lamentation for the Fairies gives as humorous and correct a notion of their personal habits in this way, and their disposition to reward cleanliness in servants, as could be written.

We shall ourselves relate a short anecdote or two touching them, before we come to Frank Martin’s case; premising to our readers that we could if we wished fill a volume—ay, three of them—with anecdotes and legends connected with our irritable but good-humoured little friends.

Paddy Corcoran’s wife was for several years afflicted with a kind of complaint which nobody could properly understand. She was sick, and she was not sick; she was well, and she was not well; she was as ladies wish to be who love their lords, and she was not as such ladies wish to be. In fact, nobody could tell what the matter with her was. She had a gnawing at the heart which came heavily upon her husband; for, with the help of God, a keener appetite than the same gnawing amounted to could not be met with of a summer’s day. The poor woman was delicate beyond belief, and had no appetite at all, so she hadn’t, barring a little relish for a mutton-chop, or a “staik,” or a bit o’ mait, anyway; for sure, God help her! she hadn’t the laist inclination for the dhry pratie, or the dhrop o’ sour butthermilk along wid it, especially as she was so poorly: and indeed for a woman in her condition—for, sick as she was, poor Paddy always was made to believe her in that condition—but God’s will be done! she didn’t care. A pratie an’ a grain o’ salt was as welcome to her—glory be to his name!—as the best roast an’ boiled that ever was dressed; an’ why not? There was one comfort: she wouldn’t be long wid him—long throublin’ him; it matthered little what she got; but sure she knew herself that from the gnawin’ at her heart, she could never do good widout the little bit o’ mait now and then; an’, sure, if her own husband begridged it to her, who else had she a betther right to expect it from?

Well, as we said, she lay a bedridden invalid for long enough, trying doctors and quacks of all sorts, sexes, and sizes, and all without a farthing’s benefit, until at the long run poor Paddy was nearly brought to the last pass in striving to keep her in “the bit o’ mait.” The seventh year was now on the point of closing, when one harvest day, as she lay bemoaning her hard condition on her bed beyond the kitchen fire, a little weeshy woman, dressed in a neat red cloak, comes in, and, sitting down by the hearth, says,

“Well, Kitty Corcoran, you’ve had a long lair of it there on the broad o’ yer back for seven years, an’ you’re jist as far from bein’ cured as ever.”

“Mavrone, ay,” said the other; “in troth that’s what I was this minnit thinkin’ ov, and a sorrowful thought it is to me.”

“It’s yer own fau’t, thin,” says the little woman; “an’ indeed for that matter, it’s yer fau’t that ever you wor there at all.”

“Arra, how is that?” asked Kitty; “sure I wouldn’t be here if I could help it? Do you think it’s a comfort or a pleasure to me to be sick and bedridden?”

“No,” said the other, “I do not; but I’ll tell you the truth: for the last seven years you have been annoyin’ us. I am one o’ the good people; an’ as I have a regard for you, I’m come to let you know the raison why you’ve been sick so long as you are. For all the time you’ve been ill, if you’ll take the thrubble to remimber, you’ve threwn out yer dirty wather afther dusk an’ before sunrise, at the very time we’re passin’ yer door, which we pass twice a-day. Now, if you avoid this, if you throw it out in a different place, an’ at a different time, the complaint you have will lave you: so will the gnawin’ at the heart; an’ you’ll be as well as ever you wor. If you don’t follow this advice, why, remain as you are, an’ all the art o’ man can’t cure you.” She then bade her good-bye, and disappeared.

Kitty, who was glad to be cured on such easy terms, immediately complied with the injunction of the fairy; and the consequence was, that the next day she found herself in as good health as ever she enjoyed during her life.

Lanty M’Clusky had married a wife, and of course it was necessary to hire a house in which to keep her. Now, Lanty had taken a bit of a farm, about six acres; but as there was no house on it, he resolved to build one; and that it might be as comfortable as possible, he selected for the site of it one of those beautiful green circles that are supposed to be the play-ground of the fairies. Lanty was warned against this; but as he was a headstrong man, and not much given to fear, he said he would not change such a pleasant situation for his house to oblige all the fairies in Europe. He accordingly proceeded with the building, which he finished off very neatly; and as it is usual on these occasions to give one’s neighbours and friends a house-warming, so, in compliance with this good and pleasant old custom, Lanty having brought home the wife in the course of the day, got a fiddler, and gave those who had come to see him a dance in the evening. This was all very well, and the fun and hilarity were proceeding briskly, when a noise was heard after night had set in, like a crushing and straining of ribs and rafters on the top of the house. The folks assembled all listened, and without doubt there was nothing heard but crushing, and heaving, and pushing, and groaning, and panting, as if a thousand little men were engaged in pulling down the roof.

“Come,” said a voice, which spoke in a tone of command, “work hard: you know we must have Lanty’s house down before midnight.”

This was an unwelcome piece of intelligence to Lanty, who, finding that his enemies were such as he could not cope with, walked out, and addressed them as follows:—

“Gintlemen, I humbly ax yer pardon for buildin’ on any place belongin’ to you; but if you’ll have the civilitude to let[Pg 190] me alone this night, I’ll begin to pull down and remove the house to-morrow morning.”

This was followed by a noise like the clapping of a thousand tiny little hands, and a shout of “Bravo, Lanty! build half way between the two Whitethorns above the boreen;” and after another hearty little shout of exultation, there was a brisk rushing noise, and they were heard no more.

The story, however, does not end here; for Lanty, when digging the foundation of his new house, found the full of a kam of gold: so that in leaving the fairies to their play-ground, he became a richer man than ever he otherwise would have been, had he never come in contact with them at all.

There is another instance of their interference mentioned, in which it is difficult to say whether their simplicity or benevolence is the most amusing. In the north of Ireland there are spinning meetings of unmarried females frequently held at the houses of farmers, called kemps. Every young woman who has got the reputation of being a quick and expert spinner, attends where the kemp is to be held, at an hour usually before daylight, and on these occasions she is accompanied by her sweetheart or some male relative, who carries her wheel, and conducts her safely across the fields or along the road as the case may be. A kemp is indeed an animated and joyous scene, and one, besides, which is calculated to promote industry and decent pride. Scarcely any thing can be more cheering and agreeable than to hear at a distance, breaking the silence of morning, the light-hearted voices of many girls either in mirth or song, the humming sound of the busy wheels—jarred upon a little, it is true, by the stridulous noise and checkings of the reels, and the voices of the reelers, as they call aloud the checks, together with the name of the girl and the quantity she has spun up to that period; for the contest is generally commenced two or three hours before daybreak. This mirthful spirit is also sustained by the prospect of a dance—with which, by the way, every kemp closes; and when the fair victor is declared, she is to be looked upon as the queen of the meeting, and treated with the necessary respect.

But to our tale. Every one knew Shaun Buie M’Gaveran to be the cleanest, best-conducted boy, and the most industrious too, in the whole parish of Faugh-a-balla. Hard was it to find a young fellow who could handle a flail, spade, or reaping-hook, in better style, or who could go through his day’s work in a more creditable or workmanlike manner. In addition to this he was a fine, well-built, handsome young man as you could meet in a fair; and so sign was on it, maybe the pretty girls weren’t likely to pull each other’s caps about him. Shaun, however, was as prudent as he was good-looking; and although he wanted a wife, yet the sorrow one of him but preferred taking a well-handed, smart girl, who was known to be well behaved and industrious like himself. Here, however, was where the puzzle lay on him, for instead of one girl of that kind, there were in the neighbourhood no less than a dozen of them—all equally fit and willing to become his wife, and all equally good-looking. There were two, however, whom he thought a trifle above the rest; but so nicely balanced were Biddy Corrigan and Sally Gorman, that for the life of him he could not make up his mind to decide between them. Each of them had won her kemp; and it was currently said by them who ought to know, that neither of them could overmatch the other. No two girls in the parish were better respected, nor more deserved to be so; and the consequence was, they had every one’s good word and good wish. Now, it so happened that Shaun had been pulling a cord with each; and as he knew not how to decide between, he thought he would allow them to do that themselves if they could. He accordingly gave out to the neighbours that he would hold a kemp on that day week, and he told Biddy and Sally especially that he had made up his mind to marry whichever of them won the kemp, for he knew right well, as did all the parish, that one of them must. The girls agreed to this very good-humouredly—Biddy telling Sally, that she (Sally) would surely win it; and Sally, not to be outdone in civility, telling the same thing to her.

Well, the week was nearly past, there being but two days till that of the kemp, when, about three o’clock, there walks into the house of old Paddy Corrigan, a little woman dressed in high-heeled shoes and a short red cloak. There was no one in the house but Biddy at the time, who rose up and placed a chair near the fire, and asked the little red woman to sit down and rest herself. She accordingly did so, and in a short time a lively chat commenced between them.

“So,” said the strange woman, “there’s to be a great kemp in Shaun Buie M’Gaveran’s?”

“Indeed there is that, good woman,” replied Biddy, smiling a little, and blushing to the back of that again, because she knew her own fate depended on it.

“And,” continued the little woman, “whoever wins the kemp, wins a husband?”

“Ay, so it seems.”

“Well, whoever gets Shaun will be a happy woman, for he’s the moral of a good boy.”

“That’s nothing but the truth, any how,” replied Biddy, sighing for fear, you may be sure, that she herself might lose him; and indeed a young woman might sigh from many a worse reason. “But,” said she, changing the subject, “you appear to be tired, honest woman, an’ I think you had better eat a bit, an’ take a good drink of buinnhe ramwher (thick milk) to help you on your journey.”

“Thank you kindly, a colleen,” said the woman; “I’ll take a bit, if you plase, hopin’ at the same time that you won’t be the poorer of it this day twelve months.”

“Sure,” said the girl, “you know that what we give from kindness, ever and always leaves a blessing behind it.”

“Yes, acushla, when it is given from kindness.”

She accordingly helped herself to the food that Biddy placed before her, and appeared after eating to be very much refreshed.

“Now,” said she, rising up, “you’re a very good girl, an’ if you are able to find out my name before Tuesday morning, the kemp-day, I tell you that you’ll win it, and gain the husband.”

“Why,” said Biddy, “I never saw you before. I don’t know who you are, nor where you live; how then can I ever find out your name?”

“You never saw me before, sure enough,” said the old woman, “an’ I tell you that you will never see me again but once; an’ yet if you have not my name for me at the close of the kemp, you’ll lose all, an’ that will leave you a sore heart, for well I know you love Shaun Buie.”

So saying, she went away, and left poor Biddy quite cast down at what she had said, for, to tell the truth, she loved Shaun very much, and had no hopes of being able to find out the name of the little woman, on which it appeared so much to her depended.

It was very near the same hour of the same day that Sally Gorman was sitting alone in her father’s house, thinking of the kemp, when who should walk into her but our friend the little red woman?

“God save you, honest woman.” said Sally; “this is a fine day that’s in it, the Lord be praised!”

“It is,” said the woman, “as fine a day as one could wish for; indeed it is.”

“Have you no news on your travels?” asked Sally.

“The only news in the neighbourhood,” replied the other, “is this great kemp that’s to take place at Shaun Buie M’Gaveran’s. They say you’re either to win him or lose him then,” she added, looking closely at Sally as she spoke.

“I’m not very much afraid of that,” said Sally with confidence; “but even if I do lose him, I may get as good.”

“It’s not easy gettin’ as good,” rejoined the old woman, “an’ you ought to be very glad to win him if you can.”

“Let me alone for that,” said Sally. “Biddy’s a good girl, I allow; but as for spinnin’, she never saw the day she could leave me behind her. Won’t you sit an’ rest you?” she added; “you’re maybe tired.”

“It’s time for you to think of it,” thought the woman, but she spoke nothing; “but,” she added to herself on reflection, “it’s better late than never—I’ll sit awhile, till I see a little closer what she’s made of.”

She accordingly sat down and chatted upon several subjects, such as young women like to talk about, for about half an hour; after which she arose, and taking her little staff in hand, she bade Sally good-bye and went her way. After passing a little from the house she looked back, and could not help speaking to herself as follows:—

“She’s smooth and smart,
But she wants the heart;
She’s tight and neat,
But she gave no meat.”

Poor Biddy now made all possible inquiries about the old woman, but to no purpose. Not a soul she spoke to about her had ever seen or heard of such a woman. She felt very dispirited and began to lose heart, for there is no doubt that if she missed Shaun, it would have cost her many a sorrowful[Pg 191] day. She knew she would never get his equal, or at least any one that she loved so well. At last the kemp day came, and with it all the pretty girls of the neighbourhood, to Shaun Buie’s. Among the rest, the two that were to decide their right to him were doubtless the handsomest pair by far, and every one admired them. To be sure, it was a blythe and merry place, and many a light laugh and sweet song rang out from pretty lips that day. Biddy and Sally, as every one expected, were far ahead of the rest, but so even in their spinning that the reelers could not for the life of them declare which was the best. It was neck and neck and head and head between the pretty creatures, and all who were at the kemp felt themselves wound up to the highest pitch of interest and curiosity to know which of them would be successful.

The day was now more than half gone, and no difference was between them, when, to the surprise and sorrow of every one present, Biddy Corrigan’s heck broke in two, and so to all appearance ended the contest in favour of her rival; and what added to her mortification, she was as ignorant of the red little woman’s name as ever. What was to be done? All that could be done was done. Her brother, a boy of about fourteen years of age, happened to be present when the accident took place, having been sent by his father and mother to bring them word how the match went on between the rival spinsters. Johnny Corrigan was accordingly dispatched with all speed to Donnel M’Cusker’s, the wheelwright, in order to get the heck mended, that being Biddy’s last but hopeless chance. Johnny’s anxiety that his sister should win was of course very great, and in order to lose as little time as possible he struck across the country, passing through, or rather close by, Kilrudden forth, a place celebrated as a resort of the fairies. What was his astonishment, however, as he passed a whitethorn tree, to hear a female voice singing, in accompaniment to the sound of a spinning-wheel, the following words:

“There’s a girl in this town doesn’t know my name;
But my name’s Even Trot—Even Trot.”

“There’s a girl in this town,” said the lad, “who’s in great distress, for she has broken her heck and lost a husband. I’m now goin’ to Donnel M’Cusker’s to get it mended.”

“What’s her name?” said the little red woman.

“Biddy Corrigan.”

The little woman immediately whipped out the heck from her own wheel, and giving it to the boy, desired him to bring it to his sister, and never mind Donnel M’Cusker.

“You have little time to lose,” she added, “so go back and give her this; but don’t tell her how you got it, nor, above all things, that it was Even Trot that gave it to you.”

The lad returned, and after giving the heck to his sister, as a matter of course told her that it was a little red woman called Even Trot that sent it to her, a circumstance which made the tears of delight start to Biddy’s eyes, for she knew now that Even Trot was the name of the old woman, and having known that, she felt that something good would happen to her. She now resumed her spinning, and never did human fingers let down the thread so rapidly. The whole kemp were amazed at the quantity which from time to time filled her pirn. The hearts of her friends began to rise, and those of Sally’s party to sink, as hour after hour she was fast approaching her rival, who now spun if possible with double speed on finding Biddy coming up with her. At length they were again even, and just at that moment in came her friend the little red woman, and asks aloud, “is there any one in this kemp that knows my name?” This question she asked three times before Biddy could pluck up courage to answer her. She at last said,

“There’s a girl in this town does know your name—
Your name is Even Trot—Even Trot.”

“Ay,” said the old woman, “and so it is; and let that name be your guide and your husband’s through life. Go steadily along, but let your step be even; stop little; keep always advancing; and you’ll never have cause to rue the day that you first saw Even Trot.”

We need scarcely add that Biddy won the kemp and the husband, and that she and Shaun lived long and happily together; and I have only now to wish, kind reader, that you and I may live longer and more happily still.

Men no more desire another’s secrets, to conceal them, than they would another’s purse, for the pleasure only of carrying it.—Fielding.


A few months ago I had the honour of passing a day in England with a gentleman of considerable property, who took the trouble of showing me a very extensive park and tillage farm near his manor-house, around which every thing indicated good taste and abundant wealth in the possessor.

It has rarely been my good fortune to view more beautiful scenery than that which the demesne of F—— possesses within itself, or a place in which it would be more difficult to find a want, either in the nature or extent of the landscape: yet as we walked along, and were admiring some undulating land, about six miles distant, Mr F—— suddenly stopped, and remarked “that he had long wished for that hill, in order to plant on it a clump or two of trees, as a picturesque termination to his prospect: it would be such a comfort to have it! I have offered forty years’ purchase for that land,” said he; “but the possessor is an obstinate fellow, and won’t part with it.”

I ventured to suggest that he should endeavour to prevail upon the owner of the hill to plant the desired clumps; but to this he gave a decided negative, saying, that it would be very uncomfortable indeed to be indebted to such an unaccommodating person for any thing.

At dinner, the lady of the house, after asking me if I had been pleased with Mr F——’s farming, and proposing some other questions of that nature, which she considerately accommodated to my capacity, in order to relieve me if possible from the embarrassment natural to a man of my station in life when sitting at table with his betters, and surrounded with luxuries quite new to him, inquired with great suavity of manner if I did not think that the owner of the hill property was very “tiresome” in refusing Mr F—— the little comfort on which his heart was fixed; and in the course of the dessert informed me that the governess was a very “comfortable” person to have about children: that the King of the French had no “comfort” in his ministers, and must find the attempts upon his life very “tiresome” indeed.

Having got over the dinner business, during which I had been really uncomfortable from the dread of doing something very awkward, I became composed and familiar by degrees, and asked questions in my turn; and was assured that there is very little comfort to be had in a mere country life without a first-rate bailiff and gardener, newspapers, new publications, a billiard table, and society of a certain class within visiting distance; that hot baths are indispensable comforts within the house, and that one adjoining the stables is also a great comfort to a hunter after a hard day’s work.

It was also among their comforts to have the nursery in a remote wing, where the cry of a child could not reach the seniors of the family in their apartments, and a very great comfort to have a pew in the church with a fireplace in it.

My host, who would not allow me to leave Castle F—— that night, passed much of the evening in reading the papers of that day, standing at intervals with his back to the fire, which comfort he seemed to enjoy extremely, while I threw in a word now and then to him or his lady, to whom I detailed the receipt for making catsup from nettles, as it appears in my Cyclopædia of Agriculture. “This economical method of making catsup,” she was pleased to say, “would be a great comfort to the poor;” and so it would, as I ventured to observe, if they had any thing to eat that required such sauce.

I was conducted at night to a bedroom, with large mirrors, a pair of wax candles on the dressing-table, a luxurious chair placed opposite the fire, and an immensely high bedstead, curtained with damask satin. Being subject to the nightmare, I mounted this (by a step-ladder) with fear and trembling, lest I should roll out in the night; and the apprehension of this calamity in a strange house, and among great people, kept me from sleeping all night, and rendered me extremely uncomfortable.

I could not help thinking what Mrs Doyle and the children would say if they saw me tucked under such fine bed-clothes, and stretched under such a grand canopy; and to tell the truth, I wished myself safely out of it, and in my own crib at Ballyorley. Yet to the obliging inquiries of my entertainers, on the ensuing morning, “if my bed had been comfortable?” I was unable to say No. But what are comforts? thought I to myself all the time. Indeed, the consideration of this question has occupied my mind a good deal since, for I find the notions attached to the term “comfort” are infinitely varied.

[Pg 192]

When I left Castle F——, the weather was cold; I mounted, however, the roof of a coach, and proceeded with many other passengers for Salisbury. We had not gone far when rain fell in torrents, driven by a piercing blast; umbrellas and coats were not waterproof, and when we alighted at the inn-door at Salisbury, there were none of the outsides who were not more or less wet and miserable.

Four of us determined to remain at the inn all night; and as we threw off dripping cloaks and mufflers, and approached a blazing fire in a small snug parlour, where a cloth, and knives and forks, and a plate-warmer, gave indications of a hot dinner, we all agreed that this was true comfort; nor was this opinion changed when soon afterwards we sat in dry clothes by a fire, with—but let no one mention this to Father Mathew—a hot tumbler of brandy punch before each of us.

But though we were unanimous on this occasion, I soon found that the utmost difference of opinion prevailed on other points, as to real comfort. One of the gentlemen, who sat at my right hand, whispered to me in confidence that there was no comfort in a single life, that his house was cheerless, his servants great plagues from want of a mistress to keep them in order, and his furniture going to destruction. My companion on the other side, whose wife I understood to be a virago, gave a groan, shook his head two or three times, and whispered to me, “If the gentleman wishes to enjoy comfort, he will leave matrimony alone.”

Having occasion to hire a good brickmaker to bring over with me to teach my workmen how bricks ought to be made, I went into several cottages inhabited by labourers in Shropshire. In the first into which I went, and this was very well furnished, were a man and his wife at breakfast. They had tea and sugar, a large white quartern loaf, and some crock butter. Very good, said I to myself; these people are exceedingly comfortable. The man was a common field labourer, and earned twelve shillings a-week the year round. They had a piece of meat every day at dinner with their greens or potatoes, and bread into the bargain, and bread and butter in the evening.

There stood a little boiler in a back kitchen, which I understood was for brewing small beer occasionally; and nothing seemed wanting in the way of comforts to this couple.

I was not offered a chair, nor did either of them ask me to sit down, but they answered such questions as I put to them.

“I’m glad to see you so comfortable,” said I. “May I ask if you have any others in family?”

“No, we’re only ourselves. We ha’n’t no children, boys nor girls,” said the woman in rather a dissatisfied tone.

“Well, then,” I rejoined, “you have the less cause for anxiety. Children are uncertain blessings, though certain cares: and depend upon it, you are much better off than many parents who have them.”

“That is very true,” replied the woman; “but still a child or two would be a great comfort to us in our old age.”

Their next-door neighbours had four noisy children and the same weekly wages. Here I was told by the parents, who were also at a tea breakfast, that their childless neighbours were far better off than they, as they had comforts beyond their own reach. “We can’t drink no beer,” said the man—(this was a lie, by the way, for he spent a shilling every week in the jerry-shop, to the real discomfort of his family), “nor eat no good wittals, nor have nothing comfortable.”

In short, in every house into which I went there was something wanting to constitute comfort.

In the dwelling of an artizan it was the want of a hot joint and a pudding on Sundays, or the substitution of an occasional dish of potatoes for bread or meat; and sometimes it was the house itself which was uncomfortable from some cause or other. One or two of the very poorest families which I visited were disposed to think they would have comforts in the Union house which they could not afford under their own roofs, although those who were within that establishment declared that they had no comforts at all.

An old woman in one of the cottages complained to me that John Snook had stolen one of her geese when it was just ready for the market, and that it would be a great comfort to her if John Snook could be taken and transported.

A parish schoolmaster assured me that he had no perfect comfort except in vacation time; the boys when at school were so unruly that he had little peace or comfort except by flogging them. The boys, on the other hand, derived no comfort from being flogged.

A sick man told me that a bowl of wine whey would be of the greatest comfort to him; and a woman recovering from fever, whose bed linen had been just changed, spoke within my hearing to her sister of the comfort which she felt in consequence.

I hired a brickmaker in the course of that tour, and set off with him for Ireland. When I reached Liverpool, a steamer was about to leave for Wexford. Into this I entered. The steward showed me a comfortable berth, in which I was dreadfully sick during a passage of twenty hours, loathing the sight and smell of food; yet he often came to ask me if there was any little comfort in the way of meat and drink that he could supply.

A few days after I had reached home, I went into the cottages of my own workpeople, and there the distinction between them and those of the corresponding class in England in their estimate of what is comfortable, struck me very forcibly.

Although the principle which leads most of us to desire something more than we possess in the way of comforts, as they are called—but of extreme luxuries in many instances—operates in the Irish labourer as among nine-tenths of his fellow men, his notions of what is comfortable are truly moderate.

One of my ploughmen was at breakfast as I walked into his house. He and his family were seated round a table—it had no cloth I must admit—helping themselves at pleasure from a dish of stirabout, and dipping each spoonful into a mug of milk. This I thought a far more suitable breakfast for them than weak and adulterated tea and white bread, at a much greater expense than an oatmeal diet.

I asked Pat what he would think of bread and tea every morning and evening, to which he very sensibly replied that it wasn’t fit for him nor the likes of him! but that a cup of tea and some bread would be very agreeable to them every Sunday evening, especially so to his old mother, who would think a little tea now and then a great comfort. As to meat, he would like that once or twice a-week, but was not so unreasonable as to wish for it oftener. As long as the potatoes and the milk stood to him, he had no reason to complain!

Then what are comforts? I again asked myself.

Returning home, I called at the house of a dying widow whose character I had long respected. She was very poor, but always contented, though she could hardly be said at any time to have enjoyed what are considered the blessings of this life. I asked her if she wanted anything that I could send her—any little comforts. The word excited her languid spirit. “I have wanted for nothing,” said she, “that was really needful for me; and now, O God! ‘thy comforts delight my soul.’” After a little time she said, “Blessed be the God of all comfort;” and again, “I am filled with comfort.”

These words gave another turn to my thoughts: the subject was placed in a new point of contemplation. Let my reader now in his turn, entering into the widow’s application of the term comfort, ponder upon the question, “What is comfort?” and I am much mistaken if he does not discover that it is something which the world cannot give.

Malaria.—It is not a mere theory, but a well-founded opinion, that all the destructive epidemics that have afflicted this globe have had their origin in malaria, which in a cold climate has produced typhus fever, in a more temperate one plague and yellow fever, and within the tropics cholera, each modified according to the idiosyncratic state of the sufferers. A few examples may be enumerated. Ancient Rome was subject to frequent epidemics, generally caused by inundations of the Tiber; but in the year 81 of the Christian era, after a severe rainy season succeeded by intense heat, the mortality was so great as to carry off 10,000 citizens daily. It is narrated by historians that the year 1374 was marked by a comet, by excessive rain and heat, and succeeded by the most dreadful mortality that we have any record of, and by which two-thirds of the human race were destroyed in a very brief period; many places were entirely depopulated; 20,000,000 died in the east in one year, 100,000 perished in Venice, 50,000 were buried in one graveyard in London, grass grew up in the streets of cities hitherto most populous, and people fled in boats and ships to sea, regardless of property and friends.

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