Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

But the most striking meeting to us was a meeting with a great number of one-horse carts, those of miners, with whom this vale abounds. They were coming up from a market at Avoca, just below, and they took no more notice of being all exactly in our way than if we were not there. The driver shouted, but in vain ; and it was only by using his whip over them till he broke off the lash that he could get a passage. When they did draw out of the way, it was always purposely to the wrong side. The fact is, they were all drunk, and seemed to have a very animal doggedness of disposition about them. The Wooden Bridge inn, at the bottom of the vale, and at the commencement of the vale of Arklow, and the place of the second meeting of the waters, is the great resort of travellers. The scene here has much softness. A bend of the valley, an opening of rich meadow, surrounded by hills thickly clothed with foliage, and the rivers running on to their meeting, give a feeling of great and quiet seclusion. Here I posted, as I have said, across Carlow to Kilkenny, and to Woodstock."

But at Rosanna and at Woodstock, my hope of obtaining some information regarding Mrs. Tighe, of seeing some painting, or other object connected with her, was, with one exception, thoroughly frustrated. Mrs. Tighe was an angel ;-of her successors I have somewhat more to say. In all my visits to remarkable places in England, I have received the utmost courtesy from the proprietors of those houses and scenes which it was my object to see. In those where I was anxious to obtain sight of relics of celebrated persons of antiquity not ordinarily shown to the public, I have written to the owner to request opportunity of examining them. In such cases, noblemen of the highest rank have not, in a single instance, shown the slightest reluctance to contribute to that information which was for the public. In some cases they have themselves gone down into the country to give me the meeting, and thrown open private cabinets, and the like depositories of rare objects, with the most active liberality. In every other case, so invariably have I found the most obliging facilities given for the prosecution of my inquiries, that I have long ceased to carry a letter of introduction; my name alone being considered warranty enough. I found it equally so in Ireland, except with the Tighes.

At Rosanna, Mr. Dan Tighe, as the people familiarly call him, certainly not Danté, was pointed out to me by a workman, walking in the meadow before his house, handling his bullocks which grazed there. On asking the servant who came to the door whether Mr. Tighe was at home, he first, as a perfect tactician, requested my name, and he would see. I gave him my card ; and though he could see his master as well as I could in the meadow, to whom I directed his attention, he very solemnly marched into the house, and returned, saying he was not in. A self-evident truth. I inquired if Mrs. Tighe was at home, explaining that I had come from England, and for what object. He said, “Yes, but she was lying in, and could see no one." I then inquired when Mr. Tighe might be expected in, as I should much regret losing the opportunity of learning from him any parti

culars connected with my present inquiry. “He could not say; most likely at six o'clock, his dinner hour.” I promised to call on my way towards Avoca, about half-an-hour before that time, that I might not interfere with Mr. Tighe's dinner hour. I did so. Mr. Tighe was now standing in his field, not a hundred yards from his house. As soon as the servant appeared, he assured me Mr. Tighe was not at home; he could not tell where he was. I immediately directed his attention to where he stood looking at some men at work. The man did not choose to see him ; and, under the circumstances, it was not for me to advance and address him. It was evident that the man had his cue; the master did not choose to be sean. I therefore mounted my car, and ordered the driver to drive off. The spirit of the place was palpable. A willing master makes a willing man. Well, as Mr. Tighe was walking out, and Mrs. Tighe was lying in, I bade adieu to Rosanna, not much wiser for my visit; -but then there was Woodstock.

I drove fifty miles across the country, and found myself at the door of Woodstock. Woodstock is a show house ; and here, therefore, I anticipated no difficulty of at least obtaining a sight of the portrait or statue of the late charming poetess. But unfortunately, —what in England would have been most fortunate, Mr. Tighe was at home, and the servant on opening the door at once informed me that the house was never shown when the family was there. Having written on my card what was my object, that I had made the journey from England for it, and added the name of a gentleman well known to Mr. Tighe, who had wished me to do so, I requested the servant to present it to Mr. Tighe. He did so; and returned saying, “Mr. Tighe said I was at liberty to see the grounds, but not the house ; and he had nothing further to say !”

My astonishment may be imagined. The servant seemed a very decent, modest sort of fellow, and I said—“Good heavens ! does Mr. Tighe think I am come all the way from England to see his grounds when ten thousand country squires could show much finer ? Was there no picture of Mrs. Tighe, the poetess, that I might be allowed to see?” “He thought not; he did not know.” “ Was there no statue?” “He thought not! he never heard of any."

How long had he been there?” “Five years.” “And never heard of a statue or a monument to Mrs. Tighe, the poetess ?” “No, never! He had never heard Mrs. Tighe the poetess spoken of in the family! But if there were any monument, it must be at the church at Innerstiogue !” I thanked him for his intelligence, the only glimpse of information I had got at Rosanna, or Woodstock, and drove off.

The matter was now clear. The very servants who had lived years in the family had never heard the name of Mrs. Tighe, the poetess, mentioned! These present Tighes had been marrying the daughters of lords—this a daughter of the Duke of Richmond, and Dan Tighe, a daughter of Lord Crofton. They were ashamed, probably, that any of their name should have degraded herself by writing poetry, which a man or woman without an acre may do. When I reached the church at Innerstiogue, the matter received a most striking confirmation. There, sure enough, was the monument, in a small mausoleum in the churchyard. It is a recumbent figure, laid on a granite altar-shaped basement. The figure is of a freestone resembling Portland stone, and is lying on its side as on a sofa, being said, by the person who showed it, to be the position in which she died, on coming in from a walk. The execution of the whole is very ordinary, and if really by Flaxman, displays none of his genius. I have seen much better things by a common stonemason. There is a little angel sitting at the head, but this has never been fastened down by cement. The monument was, no doubt, erected by the widower of the poetess, who was a man of classical taste, and, I believe, much attached to her. There was no inscription yet put upon the tomb, though one, said to be written by her husband, had long been cut in stone for the purpose. In the wall at the back of the monument, aloft, there was an oblong-square hole left for this inscription, which I understood was lying about at the house, but no single effort had been made to put it up, though it would not require an hour's work, and though Mrs. Tighe had been then dead six and thirty years!

This was decisive! If these two gentlemen, nephews of the poetess, who are enjoying the two splendid estates of the family, Woodstock and Rosanna, show thus little respect to the only one of their name that ever lifted it above the mob, it is not to be expected that they will show much courtesy to strangers. Well is it that Mrs. Tighe raised her own monument, that of immortal verse, and wrote her own epitaph, in the hearts of all the pure and loving, not on a stone which sordid relatives, still fonder of earth than stone, may consign to the oblivion of a lumber-room.

That these nephews of the poetess do look after the earth which her husband left behind him, though not after the stone, I learned while waiting in the village for the sexton. I fell into conversation with the woman at the cottage by which I stood. It was as follows:

Self:—“Well, your landlord has a fine estate here. I hope he is good to you."

Woman,-“Well, your honour, very good, very good.”

Self:—“Very good? What do you call very good? I find English and Irish notions of goodness don't always agree."

Woman.—“Well, your honour, we may say he is mixed; mixed, your honour.”

Self:-“How mixed ?Woman.-“Why, your honour, you see I can't say that he was very good to me.”

Self._“How was that ?" Woman.—“Why, your honour, we were backward in our rent, and the squire sent for my husband, and told him that if he did not pay all next quarter, he would sell us up. My husband begged he would give him a little more time, as a neighbour said he had some money left him, and would take part of our land at a good rent, and then we should be able to pay ; but now we got little, and the children were many, and it was hard to meet and tie. “Oh !' said the squire, "if you are going to get all that money, you will be able to pay more rent. I must have two pounds a-year more !!!

Sell:-“ But, surely, he did no such thing ?”

Woman.—“ But he did it, your honour. The neighbour had no money-it was a hum ; he never took the field of us at all ; we never were able to get a penny more from any one than we gave ; but when my husband went to pay the rent at the next rent-day, the steward would not take it. He said he had orders to have two pounds a-year more ; and from that day we have had it regularly to pay."

What a fall out of the poetry of Psyche to the iron realities of Ireland!

Since the publication of the first edition, I have received a little information respecting Mrs. Tighe. Mrs. Elinor Ward, of Southampton, who states herself to be the daughter of the first cousin to Mrs. Henry Tighe, who was brought up as a sister with her, has kindly forwarded the following particulars. The Rev. William Blachford, the father of Mrs. Tighe, she says, was not only librarian of Marsh's library, but rector of St. Werburgh's church, in Dublin. That he died of a fever, leaving a family of ten young children. Mrs. Ward asserts that consumption was not in the Blachford family ; and that Mrs. Tighe's works were not published till after her death, and that the proceeds of the sale went to the funds for the support of an institution founded and established by her mother, Mrs. Blachford, in Dublin, and called “ The House of Refuge,” intended for a home for female servants out of place, and educating them for service.

This is totally at variance with the account already given ; yet it should be correct, for Mrs. Ward adds—“ When I said Mrs. Tighe's works were not published till after her death, I should have excepted twelve copies of Psyche,' which she had printed herself for her nearest and dearest friends, of whom my mother was one. I have the little volume now in my possession, with my mother's name written by Mrs. Tighe, and a portrait of her, given by Mrs. Blachford as the highest token of affection to my mother, her niece; and Mrs. Blachford considered it the best that had been taken of her daughter."

As to the mode of her death, Mrs. Ward says—"For many years previous to her death, Mrs. Tighe had lost all power of movement in her legs and feet, and was carried from room to room. She could not, therefore, have died on her return from a walk; nor did she die in the attitude represented in the monument erected to her memory at Woodstock. She died in the position in which, for some time before her death, she had been accustomed to sleep,-sitting on a low stool, leaning back in the easy-chair in which she used to sit occasionally."

The Rev. C. Bathurst Woodman has also very kindly forwarded to me a manuscript letter of the Rev. S. Pierce, who spent some time in

the family at Rosanna, and was particularly struck with Mrs. Henry Tighe, the author of Psyche. The whole account is highly interesting, and perhaps contains more information respecting the family than the public is likely to obtain. The letter is addressed by the reverend gentleman to his wife. It is dated July, 1796 :

“I had heard much of the county of Wicklow, as containing the most romantic views and enchanting scenes in Ireland, and especially an estate called Rosanna, where a very opulent family reside of the name of Tighe, and where every external pleasure offered itself to the various senses of the happy visitants.

“You may suppose that I was not without a wish to see this Eden of delights, and little thought of realizing my desires ; when, to my pleasing astonishment, I received a letter of invitation from Dr. M'Dowall, written at Mrs. Tighe's request, to spend some days at Rosanna.

“I went down last Monday, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Kelly ; the former a son of Judge Kelly, the latter a daughter of Mrs. Tighe. I tarried there till yesterday morning ; but oh, the enrapturing place! It is impossible for me to describe it. Never did my imagination paint Paradise itself so full of Nature's sweets. Everything that could gratify the most delicate taste abounds there; the ear, the eye, the smell, all were charmed at once. Nature in her richest foliage, her most varied beauty, her truest dignity, and amid her sweetest perfumes, literally displayed herself in this charming demesne ; while the combined family produced the same effect upon the heart within doors, that Nature does upon the senses without.

“Mrs. Tighe is a widow lady of about forty-five years of age, of strong sense, friendly manners, and, above all, with a heart warmly devoted to religion. She has three sons : one has a seat in the House of Parliament; the youngest lives with her; another, Mr. Henry Tighe, having lately married, is building himself a house near his mother's. Of all the men I ever saw, I never was so much interested at the glance of a moment as when my eyes first fell on him. I fancied I perceived all the dignity and frankness of a Roman in his countenance and bearing ; nor was I disappointed. I found him the idol of al his acquaintance. One thing alone he wantsoh, that Heaven would bless him with it !-the one thing needful. His lady is young, lovely, and of sweet manners, united with as sweet a form. She entered the room, soon after I came to Rosanna, with a chaplet of roses about her head. Where,' I thought, were the beauties of the garden and the parlour so united before ? Indeed, I felt myself as on enchanted ground, amused with a pleasing dream, too romantic to be true.

“Three ladies besides form the female division of the family; the eldest is Mrs. Kelly. She is not distinguished by the regularity of her features, nor the delicacy of her complexion ; but her mind is enriched with such stores of grammatical, classical, philosophical, and historical knowledge, as I never met with in one of her sex before. She paints admirably. I do not pretend to be a connoisseur in painting ; but, as well as I could judge, she unites the boldness of

« AnteriorContinuar »