« AnteriorContinuar »
what a ha’e already said to this gentleman himsell, what has the shoein’ o' horses and the makin' o' members o' Parliament to do wi' ana anither? Gin ye dinna like to ha’e yere horses shod by me, ye maun just gang elsewhere to hae the job dune ; an' gin ye find as gude a smith as me, a' that a say is, that a wuss ye baith joy o' him. An' as for the maitter o’ the farm o'which his lordship the yearl spak yenoo, a canna see, for the soul o' me, what that has to do wi' makin' o' a Parliament man, mair nor the shoein' trade.
A ha’e gotten a gey stark bargain o' the bit place, but a ha'e a tack o't, an' a'm aye yebble to pay the rent ; an' sae a'm thinkin' there's naething left to mak or mend atween us.
But, Lord sake, sirs ! a hinna time to be stannin' haverin' here ony langer: a maun till ma wark as fast's a can; for a daurna leave ma study to gang and catch saumonts, and shoot deuks, as this gentleman can do." And suiting the action to the word, he snatched up the fore-hammer, and began to thunder such a peal upon the anvil as quickly drove the nervous senators of both the Houses to their carriages; and he never stopped his noise till that of their wheels was quite lost in distance.
There was a good-natured waggish leer of comical humour on his face, when he ceased his cannonade of blows, to receive the money which we had all this time been holding in our hands. Before again placing ourselves in our vehicle, we could not resist paying him some compliments on his firm, noble, and straightforward conduct.
“ Fegs, gentlemen, it's a bad account o' human nature,” said he, “ that ye sould think it wordy while to commend a man for barely doin' that which he wad be a rascal for no doin'. But, troth, a maun say that some poor deevils are subjeckit to sair temptations by thae anti fouk, or conservatives, as they are cain' themsells. But, an they dinna let poor fouk alane, to be guided by God and their ain consciences, in the exer. ceese o' a trust, the whilk they hould for sae mony ithers beside themsells, a'm muckle mistane gif ballot be na the upshot o’d."
THE GOOD OLD TORY TIME.
Their pæans for the great and glorious,
And Tories all were merrytorious !
By the sheer force of birth and station;
Which beat for beauty and the nation ;
They shone Lucretias in their carriage;
Not waiting for the rites of marriage !
When she was strong, and great, and moral ;
As if they struggled for the laurel !
And wake the Muses from their slumber ;-
How liberal the Lord of Clumber!
Our prince upon the footpath dashes,
And others with his grim mustaches;
How stout Sir George to rob the Guelph,
Of such a vast amount of glory,
And told a very barefaced story!
Has hinted with malicious slyness,
How very low a Royal Highness.
Though, faith! the story was a poser ;
'Twas right to draw a little closer.
The rein, the spur, and drop a hint in-
For one is blind, and t'other s quintin'!
THE HARE-HOUND AND THE WITCH.
BY THE O'HARA FAMILY.
Your genuine witches, who
“ seemed not creatures of the earth, And still were on it;"
withered old women, who united in their persons the decrepitude of age with the most marvellous powers of locomotion ; half spirits, half mortals; who seemed to live solely for the purpose of paying back to the whole human race the hatred lavished by men, women, and children, on themselves ; who could blight the farmer's hope of plenty ; cheat his cows of their milk, and his wife of her butter; cause the clouds to gather, and the tempest to scourge the earth ; and yet, creatures of contrarieties ! who, possessed of all this awful power, could not, or would not, redeem themselves from rags, hunger, and misery ;-they, your genuine witches, as we have already called them, exist not, alas ! at present, in our green island: extinct, though not forgotten, is their race, like that of our noble moose.deer, our formidable wolf, and our as formidable wolf-dog. Degenerate emulators of them, indeed, we still boast ; individuals who dip into futurity by the aid of card..cutting or cup-tossing, or who find out stolen property, or vend charms against the peevish malice of the little sprites of the moonbeam ; but, compared with their renowned predeces. sors, these timid assertors of supernatural endowment may be said to disgrace their calling ; and, moreover, even they are fast sinking in repute, as well as diminishing in numbers.
But we would attempt to preserve, in the following pages, some fit idea of the importance of a true Irish witch of the good olden time. We are aware, that the chief event which must wind up our story—the sudden appearance, namely, of a lost heir-(we have the courage to speak it out, so soon) is a threadbare one ; it can't be helped, however ; and it, at least, is fact, to our own knowledge ; although we are not quite as fully accountable for the respectable traditions that surround it with such pleasing wonders as we are about to relate, and which form the real interest of our narration.
On the western coast of Ireland is a certain dangerous bay; into it the broad Atlantic rolls his vast waters. Two leagues inland from its mouth high black cliffs frown over it, at both sides, of which the bases are hollowed into caverns; and when the winds blow angrily—and any wind can effectually visit the open and exposed estuary-tremendous and terrific is the roar, the dash, and the foam, which deafen the ears, and distract the eyes of a pectator. That hapless vessel which, in a storm, cannot avoid an entrance into this merciless turmoil of mad waters, has sealed its doom.
Formerly, a great number of ships, from different countries, used to be dashed to splinters against the iron-bound coast ; and a few people conjecture, that the diminution of such terrible accidents, in the present day, is partially owing to some improvement in seamanship, or else to the timely warning now given to distant mariners, by lights erected at the mouth of the bay. But other persons, and by far the greater number in the neighbourhood, think that the comparative paucity of wrecks may more naturally and satisfactorily be accounted for in another way. In fact, there does not now reside, as formerly there did, in an almost unapproachable cavern, high up on the face of one of the black cliffs, “ a real witch, of the right sort."
Not that her witchship always dwelt in her cave ; no, her visits to it were but occasional. Nor did it ever become necessary for her to proclaim her presence on the coast, by exhibiting her person; the results of her close neighbourhood sufficiently “ prated of her whereabouts.” Farmers' wives toiled in vain at their churns; and when no butter would come, self-evident it was that the witch was at that moment in her cavern, seated on her heels before a vessel of plain water, from which, by drawing a dead man's hand through it, she appropriated the produce of other people's honest labour. Cows suddenly went back in their milk; and then it was known, that, by passing a wheaten straw between her finger and thumb, the witch amply filled her can, while the owner of the beautiful animal uselessly tugged at its udder. Cattle swelled, and died, too; and, once again, every one knew who was in the cave under the cliff; and if none of those events, or similar ones, proved her disagreeable proximity, the direful storms and the frightful wrecks in the bay abundantly warranted it. Often, amid the bellowing of the tempest she had raised, swelled her shrieking voice; and while the despairing creatures in the doomed vessel topped each short, high, foam-maned billow, which nearer and nearer dashed them on to their dread fate, the terrified watchers on the cliff's brow have heard her devilish laugh, until at last it broke into frenzied loudness, as the ship burst, like a glass bubble, against the sharp rocks under her dwelling-hole.
No one could tell whence she came or whither she went, when, for a time, no longer visible on the coast. Occasionally she was observed in conference with certain notorious smugglers; and the men appeared, it was well known, to petition and bribe her for a fair wind with which to enter the bay, and for a foul one to keep their pursuers out of it. And this was fully proved by the fact, that invariably their light lugger got in, and was safely moored in some little creek, against danger of coming storm ; while, the moment the revenue-cutter appeared in the offing, out buret the wildest winds, from the witch's cavern, and up swelled the sea and the bay, in mountain billows; and his Majesty's vessel was sure to be wrecked during the night.
Like all of her sisterhood of that famous period, she couid change herself, at pleasure, into various shapes. We give a serious proof of her talent in this respect.
A few miles from the coast which she so despotically ruled, resided a considerable landed proprietor. A great hunter of hares and foxes was he. His wife had just blessed him with an heir to his estate, And the boywas their only child. Of this event, the good squire was not a little proud ; for, in case of his not leaving male issue, his property was to pass away to a distant, obscure, and neglected relation, a bone in whose skin its immediate possessor neither loved nor liked; for the heir-presumptive was mean in his habits and associations, uneducated and graceless; and it would be a sad thing to know that the fine old family acres were to go into such hands.
Shortly after his wife's confinement, and while she and her baby were “ doing well,” the squire, to dissipate the recent anxiety he had suffered, sallied forth for a hunting. His pack of harriers were his attendants, on this occasion, for the hare was the object of the day's sport.
And, surely, never had such a hare been followed by dogs, or “sohoed" by mortal lips, as the hare he and his friends and pack started, and hunted, upon that memorable day. From breakfast to dinner time, a sweeping and erratic chace did she lead them all; the dogs at full stretch, and the horses at top speed. Various accidents happened to the sportsmen; one maimed his steed; another fractured his collar-bone ; some swampt in bogs; and none, except our good squire and his huntsman, escaped without injury or disaster. But, from starting to pulling up, they gallantly kept at the dogs' tails.
After“ an unprecedented run,” the hare suddenly scudded towards the cliffs of the bay, immediately over the witch's cavern.
The good harriers pursued ; and the eager squire did not stay behind them ; his huntsman closely following. The hare gained the verge of the cliff
. Sheela, the prime bitch of the pack, just had time to close her, make a chop at her, and take a mouthful of flesh from her haunch, before she leaped down the face of almost a precipice. Dogs and horsemen were at a pause ; none dared follow her.
In some time, nearly all the other discomfited members of the hunt came up, soiled, wounded, or jaded. They heard of the termination of the chase; and all wondered at the extraordinary freaks of the little animal, which had so distressed and based the best harriers and the best hunters in the country, taking men and horses together.
Ву. -!” suddenly exclaimed the huntsman, a young fellow of known hardihood of character, swearing a great oath, “ I'll tell yez how it is; ye are afther huntin' the witch o’the cave sthraight undher us ! It is'n't the first time that cratures like her have made a laugh, in this way, of nearly as good men as we all are, standin' here together.”
Most of his auditors ridiculed the speaker ; one or two, however, looked grave : perhaps in patronage of his assertions; perhaps because the pains and aches resulting from their many falls, during the day, lengthened their faces, darkened their brows, and puckered their lips. The huntsman offered, if any one would accompany him on the dangerous enterprize, to scale down the cliff, penetrate the witch's cavern, and prove his saying. One did volunteer to be his companion : an humble friend of his own, forming an individual of the crowd of gaping peasants assembled round the gentlemen hunters. The adventurers succeeded in reaching and entering the awful cave.
Upon their return, over the line of the cliff, they reported that they had found the witch at home, stretched, panting and exhausted, upon some straw, in a dark corner of the cave; that they had dragged her, much against her will (and indeed her screams certainly had reached the squire and his friends above) to the light, at its opening; had, with main force, examined her person ; and, sure enough, had found a defi. ciency of flesh in her haunch, with plainly the marks of Sheela's teeth in and about the wound, from which the blood freshly streamed. To be sure the better-informed of the hearers of this story, or at least a majority of them, still laughed at it; but whatever they might think, those to whom the talents and capabilities of witches were better known, firmly believed that the Squire and his companions had hunted all that day, a hare, which was no hare after all ; and that the courageous little Sheela had tasted flesh of a forbidden kind.
And happy had it been for the squire and his pet bitch had they proved less eager after their sport. Poor Sheela died in great agonies upon the very night of that day, and her master was doomed to a speedy punishment for his own audacity.
Nothing daunted at the idea of whom he had been hunting, he took the field again a few days after ; and now no question could be raised as to the nature of the game he a second time started and pursued. Puss did not, indeed, immediately make for the sea ; but this was only a ruse to effect her own malignant purposes. She wanted to get her enemy alone at the edge of the cliff. And for this purpose, her speed and her manners quite outdid those of a former day: so much so, that, in a few hours, even the dare-neck and dare-devil huntsman was thrown out, and returned with a lamed horse and a sprained ankle to the gentleman who had suffered before him, leaving the squire alone close upon the dogs.
For a considerable time he and his master's friends awaited the re-appearance of the persevering Nimrod. Finally, they repaired to the cliff, which the huntsman had left him speedily approaching. There they found his horse without a rider; but himself they never again beheld. The unbelievers in witchcraft immediately surmised that his high-blooded hunter had borne him against his will to the edge of the cliff ; had there suddenly started back; and that by the quick and violent action, the unhappy gentleman had been thrown forward out of his saddle, and precipitated from rock to rock hundreds of feet downward. A few who were able for the effort, cautiously descended towards the sea. On their way they discovered their friend's hunting-cap on the sharp pinnacle of a rock; its iron headpiece was stove in; and it became evident that, after having been loosed from its wearer, by the force of the concussion which had fractured it, the squire's body had tumbled still farther downward. They reached the sea's level. His remains were not visible ; they must have fallen into the sea, and been floated away by its tide. The witch of the cavern disappeared with her victim,-her victims, we should say: for her vengeance on the squire was not limited to his own destruction. At the story of his shocking death, hastily and injudiciously communicated, his wife, yet enfeebled by her recent confinement, sickened, and in a few days died; nay, nearly within the hour of her departure from this world, her only child, the heir to her husband's estate, disappeared; no one could tell whither or by what means. Strange enough to say, however, part of the baby's dress was found on the identical pinnacle of rock where his father's hunting..cap had been met with ; and, in the minds of the educated and wealthy of the neighbourhood, this