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Monthly Journal of Fashion.
LONDON, JUNE 1, 1839.
ALL SAINTS' EVE;
A RECOLLECTION OF THE IRISH PEASANTRY.
BY AN AMERICAN IN IRELAND.
Bright and generous as the hearts of those it warmed, was the flame that kindled on the hearth of Murthy Delaney's cottage, glowing through a volume of smoke on the merry night of All-hallowmass.
Obstinate in superstitions that countenance their festivities, and afford free scope to their wild theories of fairy agency, the unsophisticated children of old Ireland devote this night, with many others, to the indulgence of revelry and song.
Unshackled by the restraints of“ etiquette,"—their hearts devoted to the hilarity of the passing hour, and reckless of cares that disturb them not at the moment,—the Irish peasantry enjoy.those mirth-stirring festivals in the full flow of their lively temperament, with all the fervency of soul that native wit, native beauty, and native “potteen”. can inspire.
Few, however, regarded the observance of All-hallowmass or All Saints' Eve, as it is more generally termed, with such pious attention to its enjoyments, as Murthy Delaney himself. Never did he hail the return of that night, but the neighbours experienced the full tide of his hospitable influcnce, in the form of a plenteous entertainment. With a heart rich in its good nature, warm in its impulses, and blessed above the common lot in his circumstances, Murthy was enabled to indulge its generous promptings. Loved for the frankness of his disposition, the ingenuous warmth that knows not to appreciate the good it engenders, respected for his industry, and happy in the affections of his family, he felt but little intimacy with the many miseries of existence, and held as much influence over his neighbours, as the landlord himself. Murthy's antipathies were confined to the Brunswicker and the Exciseman; those he detested to the utmost of Irish hate ; but Daniel O'Connel and “ Ould Ireland” divided the throne of his affections with Kate herself. Such was Murthy Delany when our acquaintance first commenced.
It is some three years since, that a stranger was observed lying on the road side, with a fractured leg; his horse quietly browsing at some distance from him, outside the village of Aranure, in the ancient “kingdom of Cunnemara.”* It was my unfortunate self. My steed, perhaps, to rid himself of his ignoble burthen, began to curvette and prance and rear and plunge, in such an animated style, that I, not the most expert horseman in the world, was immediately laid prostrate in the above mentioned pitiable condition. Some twenty or thirty persons, who were returning from their day's labour, surrounded me, and with looks of the
most charitable commisseration, bore me to the nearest cottage, the inmates of which received me with all the kindness that characterises Irish hospitality. The Doctor was immediately sent for ; he was fortunately at hand, and I soon had the pleasure of learning that my hurt was not of a very dangerous nature. My leg (unfortunate limb ) was tortured into sanity ; but I found myself unable to venture on my journey, for a few weeks at least. The time, however passed more pleasantly than I could have imagined, and the individual night saw my invalidship in the midst of a merry group, who were, as usual, assembled at Murthy's (for such was my host) to enjoy the customary observance of All Saints' Eve.
I was in such a situation by the hearth side, that it afforded me a full opportunity of observing those about me.
Beside me was the village schoolmaster, who was placed there, as Murthy said, “ bekase as how he was the fittest person to convarse with the jontleman.” He was the Paddy Burns of the village, and most of its inhabitants had been his “scholards.” He was looked up to as an oracle. No wonder then, if the pride of literature had transferred somewhat of its importance to his countenance. No man could puzzle him, from “ Abel, a man's name,” to “transubstantiation.” But place him on the hillock's side, without the chapel, on a Sunday, with the last Connaught Journal from Galway in his hand, and the horn cased spectacles on his nose, both equally venerable, a crowd of village politicians eagerly devouring his interpretations, then, indeed, was my learned neighbour in his element. Some fifty summers had numbered their existence, since he had first undertaken the office of instruction, and many a truant had he since lashed through the vistas of literature. For a long portion of this period had he acted as clerk to the Roman Catholic minister of the parish ; and when, during the ceremony of mass, he delivered the latin responses, the astounded villagers recognised in him the second literary character in the world. His age and infirmities, however, obliged him to relinquish this exalted servitude, and one of his most eminent pupils succeeded the “measther."
On the opposite side, despising the luxury of a stool, (I occupied the only chair in the house,) was seated on the hearth Murthy's mother, with some other antiquated dames, their knees in such happy communion with their chin, as evidently proved the familiarity of the position. They were inhaling the fragrance of their favorite leaf, through the medium of a “dudeen” or pipe, so short that its tepid head was being kissed by the reverend wrinkles on their aged cheeks. They were watching the feats of cunning and activity, which were being performed by the younger guests of mine host, at the further end of the apartment, which alternately answered the purpose of kitchen and drawing room. Their gossip was in Irish; but from the marked expression on their countenances, and their many significant ejaculations, I could ascertain that age was, even on this scene, as on others, acting its peculiar part ; scattertering contempt on the march of modern degeneracy, and extolling the superior excellence of its own early days.
• The Western part of Galway, so called.
It were an endless task to relate the variety of tricks , sich a flustrification, (continued he, addressing himself to performed by both sexes. Some were collected round a | me, for being in rather a nervous mood, I felt somewhat tub of cold water, diving for an apple; others were endea alarmed,) but thin, your honor, take a small dhrop more o' vouring in a variety of forms, by spells, and incantations, the stuff, ( bad luck saze the gaugers, for a theeving set, if to learn who was the fated partner of their future fortunes. they could, I wouldn't have it,) it ’ill make you quite nate
The “gossoons” were active in doing mischief. The intirely, intirely---bether nor all the pois'n the Dochther shirt of one man's coat they nailed to a long form, and then could be afther givin you. set fire to a heap of straw under his feet. In the effort to Mrs. Delany entered, as he spoke, bearing in either hand escape he left the skirt behind him,
a jug amply replenished with the insidious beverage, which Retired from the vulgar gaze, I could observe the young Murthy so eloquently styled the “crathur." lover pour the soft pleadings of his passion into the ear of He filled a large cup which he presented to me. I would his mistress, rich in the glowing expression of his native be excused, but it was in vain, and to persist in refusing, tongue; whilst she, smiling modesty, seemed to check with I would be to insult my host, for the Irish peasant is a very a sweetness that provoked repetition.
tyrant in hospitality, so I even took it without a murmur. The spirit of “potteen” thawed every care from their He filled another for himself, and the men followed his exhearts; and, as it circulated, so did the song. I did not ample. Then turning to me, his eyes glistening as he spoke, understand the themes of their sweet, wild melodies but "By the sowl o' Murthy Delaney, but it is my own sel that they told deeply to the heart.
knows as how your honor is one o' the raal--- your face is During the commencement of the evening, my neighbour thrue blue.” “Is it ? ” said I turning to my neighbour in the schoolmaster, laid such close siege to my attention, that the utmost surprise, not immediately recognising the intent I could scarcely observe any other, and I was almost worried of Murthy's rather equivocal expression. A laugh at my to death by his political enquiries. At length, however, simplicity followed, but the “measther never deigned to the spirit of story-telling began to prevail, and this relieved relax the rigidity of his countenance, while he answered, me from his importunity.
with all the consequence of a man that understands two Fatigued by exercise, and longing to gratify their passion languages, " he manes that your visinogominy (the learned for the fictitious, all began to collect round the fire, and autocrat of the village loved to indulge in big words) is one deep was the attention given to the detail of their country's o' the right sort.” “Och, by sowl, if it ben't; so axin your legends. Many a tale was told, till it at length came to pard'n, continued Murthy, “if it isn't oftinsive---shoch on the turn of a tall, gaunt, gray headed old woman to favor dioul ug a Sassenach.” My interpreter whispered, “ that the audience with a story. She began, and, as my neigh manes---the devil to the Brunswickers.” In a second, every lour afterwards informed me, hers was a tale of horror. one raised a cup, brimming with “native” to his lips, and At first she spoke in a low, deep, emphatic tone, then in at a single pull the contents were drained. A wild hurrah such a strain of pathos, that elicited tears from even the echoed through the house, while many and deep were the men; her energy, rising with her subject, a keen expression execrations that followed, heaped upon the heads of their of awe was visible among all. I, myself, as if I understood oppressors. The girls sat modestly silent---but smiling watched her with the utmost intensity. Conscious of their acclamations. nothing but the engrossing events of her legend, she rose By this time, the multiplicity of their potations seemed up---there was very beauty in her action---her voice swelled to have considerably softened the hearts of the men. Their as she spoke, so earnest in her recital, till it became high eyes glowed with love and affection, and uttured volumes to and shrill, as she arrived at the crisis of her story. She the girls. Hands were shaken with warmth, and professions ended---a murmur of terror succeeded ; some crossed them of friendship expressed; even the measther" looked less selves, some drew their stools closer to the rest. Their proudly---though I have been told his features never knew pipes hung idle on the nether lips of the “old crones,” and the luxury of a smile. an unbroken silence prevailed for some seconds---when, It was at this juncture, that Murthy himself was loudly suddenly, the ponderous fist of mine host came thundering called on for a song. “Athin, is it ya song yez id be axin on the table. All leaped upon their feet as if the “Pookah”. from Murthy Delany, ye gossoons, whin I never didn't sing himself had come in among them---but to their astonishment at all at all; but its mysel that won't disappoint yez, for if succeeded peels of laughter that rung through the roof. I can't sing, faix I can tal a shtory.” Such is the variability of Irish character.
“Yerra, Kate, agra," proceeded Murthy,“ don't be sham't “ Arragh, Kate, ma Cholleen," + uttered Murthy, in all the intirely, kase I'm jist goin to tal them all about. How I richness of his native brogve, “Divil a dhrop of the crathur took'd you away from your father's, whin I freckened them is here to dhrive away the fear, that Moll there is after all, wid that raw-mash of an Omadhaun, that think'd to puttin into us. Run, “a cushla't an bring us a wee wee marry you; an how you took'd away the forthin wid vou, dhrop more.” Kate, Murthy's wife, and a fair sample of an how we were married, an how---" but it would be imCunnemara loveliness, hastaned to obey the mandate of her possible to relate the many preliminary “an hor: 's” of lord. “I beg your honor's pardon for throwing you into Murthy, so we come to the pith and marrow of his story.
“ Your honour musht know,” said he, addressing himself • The“ Pookah” is an imaginary monster, supposed to be all particularly to me, “whin I was a 'gossoon' the divil a powerful on All Saints' Night. It is hardly possible to describe wilder sowl was in the village than my own four bones.” ibe alread which the Irish peasantry enteriain for this, the “Thrue for you" interrupted my neighbour, as perhaps the most terrible being of their popular superstition.
recollection of Murthy's excesses flashed across his memory. † Oh then, Kate, my girl.
“ Thrue for you,” said his mother; and “thrue for you," In term of endearment. It signifies, literally, pulse of my echoed the ancient association around her. “Thrue for heart.
me,” resumed Murthy, “and divil a one in the village was