Imágenes de páginas

termined to persevere, and was to set which were to unite them. My mind out on the following morning for flew from one bright spot to another, -- whence he was to start forward and never stopped to regard the dusty as a pedestrian, and pursue whatever and broiling road between ; and often course accident might trace out for in the course of my rambles, as I aphim. It was to little purpose that I proached the halting place for the endeavoured to abate the sanguine night, and had little in my thoughts, earnestness with which he looked for- except that I was to have rest and ward to the pleasures which he antici- shelter after a wearying day, I have pated during his excursion. I had smiled to contrast the reality with the made a somewhat similar excursion picture I had previously drawn—when the year before, and assured him that I had imagined the inn windows burI was heartily tired of it. For the nished by the setting sun, and somefirst week it was very well; the no- thing looking out very unlike the fat, velty had its charm, and the free air coarse landlady who was now giving and the open country were cheering the professional welcome ; I had imaa to the spirits; but after a short time, gined myself delighting in my good for. these pleasures were a good deal tune, as if weariness had never seized deadened, and if it were not for the upon me, or as if feet and limbs were social evenings with which our days as little subject to fatigue as the fancy used to close, the pedestrian excur. itself. Let me tell you, you will find sion had little to recommend it, ex- a wonderful difference; and as to chacept the romance of its captivating racter or incident, the best thing to name. “ Depend upon it,” I said to wish you, where you are going, is that O'Brien—"Depend upon it, you will you should pass through the country, find the reality of your excursion no. and come back again, without conthing like what your fancy represents versing with one of its inhabitants, or it. If you had your friends with witnessing one of its adventures. This you, it would be very well ; but to promenading may be a pleasant kind go alone, and walk about the country of folly enough in peaceable places, but for months without any reasonable the probability is, that where you are object, you will find little to recomgoing, it may get you knocked on the pense you for your blistered feet, and head as a spy." the pitiless broiling you are sure to en- “ And even if it should, it would counter on these sultry days.” not be of much consequence to any

“Oh! you think I go to see sights, body ;-but I trust better. All your as it is called ? Nothing can be farther representations cannot deter me; I do from my notions—I go to mix with not think my excursion can be quite the people, to converse with them, so barren of incident as you represent and, in short, am more anxious to meet yours to have been.

You know you with incident, and to observe charac- do not enter readily into conversation ter, than to see the finest and the with any stranger, and I have, for most picturesque scenery that ever such offices, a very reasonable facility. was visited.”

I think this the great secret of maAnd you expect incident and cha- king a tour like mine pleasant-to racter in your excursion ?"

converse with every person I meet, “ To be sure I do; and think it a and to come out altogether from my much more interesting object of pure own thoughts, and for the time being suit, than either the picturesque or enter into the thoughts and passions the beautiful of nature.

of others. And as to my proceeding And, allow me to add, an object alone, I assure you it adds considerably much less likely to be attained. I set to my interest in going. When Alker out last year with notions somewhat proposed to accompany me, I at first like yours, but I very soon was forced thought it would be pleasant to have to give them up. At first I expected him, but now, when I think that I that every inn was to be a kind of ene am going, in all probability, among chanted castle-so full of adventures relatives of whose condition I am alto--and that every man with a pale face gether ignorant, and with no remem, and dark hair must have a story to brance of any creature except an old tell; and, as I thought of all these woman, who was, I believe my nurse, pleasant things, I quite left out of I am much better satisfied to make my count the tedious and toilsome hours first visit alone. It would be a very dear friend indeed, whom I would wish a furious people, or else' standing to have with me'on such an occasion.” against them in determined and dead

O'Brien accordingly set out up- ly opposition. This little town has on his excursion,' his faithful valet been, for the last three days, in a state being his only companion, and deter. of the utmost alarm and confusion. mined, most adventurously, either to Before I left town, you may remem. make incidents or to find them. The ber our having had an account, through country was at this period much dis. the papers, of combinations entered turbed; and that part of it, towards into among the people, for the purwhich he directed his course, the very pose of regulating the quantum of tithe focus of insurrection. It may easily and rent to be paid. This appeared be conceived, that a Roman Catholic alarming enough at a safe distance, population may be very readily brought but to comprehend the nature of it io consider tithes a grievance ; and fully, you should feel yourself here that, if the Protestant gentry, from where the effects of such combinamotives of short-sighted and miserable tions are immediately apparent. A cupidity, give countenance to such a party met the day before yesterday at notion, those who consider that they a few miles' distance from this little are compelled, by unjust and cruel town. Their object was to swear the laws, to pay for the support of an people of some neighbouring villages heretical church, may excusably look to an acquiescence in their determina. upon any exactions for that purpose tions. But their progress was interas most odious and insupportable. rupted by Mr -, who, with a

The Church, in fact, was ill-ad- small party of military, had come out ministered. It was parcelled out to disperse them. At first a kind of amongst the sons and relatives of those parley took place between the oppo. who possessed parliamentary interest sing parties. Mr- demanded why sufficient to command its patronage, they had assembled, and, with all and its spiritual interests were scan. proper formalities, commanded them dalously neglected. The Protestant to return peaceably to their homes ; Church of Ireland, at that period, ale but instead of obeying him, they con. most realized the Archbishop of Dube tinued to advance closer on him and lin's antithesis of " a church without his little party. In this critical state a religion;" and the Protestant gen- of things, where a few soldiers were try accordingly, with some rare excep- in danger-a danger which had been tions, grew up to manhood, and be recently realized-of being surrounded came magistrates of the county and by an immense, and perhaps well. members of parliament, with scarcely armed multitude, Mr -, with the any sense of religion, and with no promptitude for which he has been sense at all of the Church, except that remarkable, stepped forward, and they were jealous of its rights and en- drew a line on the road. "Whatever vious of its possessions.

you have to say,' said he,' we will The following letter, which I re- hear while you keep to your own side ceived from my friend shortly after of this line, but the instant a single his departure, will more fully describe man passes it, I command the milithe precise state in which he found the tary to fire.' This for a few minutes country than any thing which I could checked the populace ; but they again say.

moved forward, and in the hindmost ~ MY DEAR HASTINGS,

part of the crowd a bustle was obser. “ You were wrong in supposing ved, as if the party were producing that I should want incident to give in. arms from under their great. coats. terest to my excursion-decidedly Mr —all this time kept watching wrong. It were difficult to convey a the road, and observing whether they full idea of the state of things where passed the line, and the instant the I stop at present, to one who has hi- foremost man passed it, he gave the therto only known the calm and trane word, and two soldiers fired. He had quil character of the metropolis. Here directed that the first shot should be every thing is in commotion-you fired over their heads, but that the would think that the elements of ci. second should be deliberately aimed. vil society were crumbling into a He soon found it necessary to give the chaos; the gentry either cowering be- second command, for though the refore the menace and the vengeance of port of the first shot gave a moment

ary check to the crowd, yet when sions began to turn on the state of the they found it only a report, they com. country, the expediency of relieving menced again the forward movement. the peasantry from their burdens, esa Then Mr gave the word to fire pecially that of tithe ; and the mob, as and take aim, and the two most for- was to be expected, shouted in acclaim. ward men, who seemed leaders of the Some proposal was under consideraparty, fell. At this, a general panic tion of offering a certain sum in lieu spread through the multitude, and of tithe, when my attention (for I had when they saw the soldiers levelling forced my way in, and was standing their muskets for a general discharge, at an open window) was called away and heard Mr cry out, that if by some murmurs in the strett below they did not instantly disperse, many me; and I soon distinguished pasmore of them should experience the sionate exclamations from the crowd fate of their leaders, they—irresolute in the Court- house—'Oh, look at him! how to proceed, and terrified by their Good Lord, have mercy on us !- look leaders' fall-scattered and dispersed at him! how easy he is, and two poor over the country. The two unfortu- souls crying out again' him.' I looked nate men had been shot dead; and from the window, and was directed Mr- returned with his party to by the mob in the house and in the give directions about holding an in- street towards a remarkably fine-lookquest on the bodies; but, in the ing old man, coming towards the meantime, some of the disturbers had court. The mob in the street appearreturned for their fallen friends; and ed under the influence of a panic rawhether it was that they had received ther than a desire for revenge-at least encouragement from some of the gen- I saw no attitudes of menace, and if try, or had been rendered desperate, there was any threatening expression, they conveyed the bodies into town, it did not reach my ears. I could see, and had them laid at Mr —'s door. very distinctly, the old gentleman; This took place in the evening, and for as he advanced, the mob fell back the people passed the night in the from before him, and left his figure greatest terror, expecting that an at- quite visible. He had all the erecttack would be made upon the town, ness and amplitude, in the upper part and feeling how badly prepared they of his figure, which we look for in the were to resist it.

Roman statues-his limbs light and “Next day, a market-day, the streets handsomely formed-his countenance were excessively crowded, and the calm and steady, without a wrinkle, dead bodies were paraded in a very and with an appearance of freshness conspicuous place, and curses and me- remarkable at his time of life. Indeed, naces, not only deep but loud, were it was more from his dress, than his to be heard on all sides. The gentry, person, that you would judge him to feeling themselves called on to adopt be old. He wore large buckles in his some resolution, summoned a meeting shoes, a long-skirted coat, a powdered at the Court-house, which, at first, curled wig, and a cocked hat. I had they intended to consist of magistrates full time to observe him, as he walkexclusively; but some gentlemen, not ed leisurely through the streets; his magistrates, having made their way hands behind his back, and his head in, the doors were left open to the peo- held steadily up-turning, as he walkple indiscriminately; and although ed, to neither side of the way. Just the magistrates were permitted to oc- before he entered the Court-house I cupy the higher part of the Court. heard him speak, and was much house, and were indulged in some- struck by the character of his voice, thing like a breathing place, yet, all and the steady deliberation of tone the lower parts were so exceedingly with which he made every syllable he thronged, that it required the greatest uttered be distinctly heard. Some exertion, on the part of the constables, butchers kept their stalls adjacent to who were in attendance, to preserve the gate, and I suppose it had been his the magisterial benches from being habit to converse with them on ordicarried violently by the pressure of nary occasions, for he said, as he passthe mob.

ed ihem by, “I salute no man to-day For some time, it did not clearly-my notice might not be serviceable.' appear what the magistrates had met As he passed under the gateway, I to deliberate about; but their discuss turned towards the assembled magis


[ocr errors]

trates, and found that they had been same demand? And yet you interexpecting him, and intended to make cede with me! And you dare to dica proposition, about the success of tate to me how my property is to be which they were very doubtful-I disposed of ;-you who have not couheard the words— All to no purpose rage to defend your own! I pity you. -it won't do-quite unmanageable.' You think you can protect yourselves But now all this by-play was at an end, by making a sacrifice of me! 'Fore for Mr H-had made his way up God, unless your wisdom is more to to the benches, and was standing con- be commended than your consciences, spicuously in sight of the whole ase if I were to give up the management sembly. Now the proposal was made of my own concerns, you are not the -what it was I could not distinctly guardians I should choose. What hear-for the gentleman who made it have you met here for to-day? There spoke in a low and hurried tone. For are two dead bodies lying in your some time Mr H- was silent, and streets, and I call upon you to see remained observing the magistrates that an inquest is properly held. As with fixed attention, and in a manner for me, I need none of your civilities. so imposing, that even the mob were Let the jury on the inquest declare hushed into perfect stillness. At last their verdict, and upon ihat decision he spoke-'I pity you,' said he ; ''fore I will act. Let the laws of your counGod, I pity you. You, gentlemen of try be duly executed, and endeavour the county-the sons, some of you, to act as if you felt the importance of of most respectable parents-and you the charge committed to you ; and, suffer yourselves to be terrified into above all things, make no such pitiful these paltry measures, because you proposals as you have made, until the have not virtue enough to protect the country is in a state not to have inpeople when they are suffering, nor surrection encouraged by your rashcourage to oppose them when they do ness or imbecility: wrong. You, magistrates of the coun- “ The old gentleman concluded ; ty, sworn to preserve the peace, and and, after some desultory conversation, you lend yourselves to inake every rab- the assembly broke up, and the people ble-rout important and dangerous. departed. I could see that Mr HFor shame! I tell you, you are more was afterwards remonstrating with guilty than the creatures whom the the magistrates individually, and that law will soon be called on to punish- they seemed to subrnit to him with a you are worse subjects of your king, certain kind of deference; and the and worse enemies to the laws which end of all was, that, on the verdict, it is your province to uphold. And he was acquitted ; and that the alarms you take upon you to intercede with of the town subsided into a more tranme for the poor! When was it known quil apprehension. To day there was that I ever oppressed a poor man? - a new alarm. A report reached the When was I ever known to favour the town that a man had been killed, and rich ? I call upon you to name the was lying in a ditch at about two miles' instance, if in your power. And you,' distance. It was said that he was a said he, turning to the populace, whom proctor of Mr HM, and that, the ponow for the first time he regarded— lice being absent on some duty, no peryou, poor misguided creatures, come son would incur the hazard of going forward any one of you, and say, out to see the poor man, although it have I ever, in any instance, done could not be certainly known whether you wrong ?--I have acted as a ma- he was yet dead. Such, you see, is the gistrate for more than forty years; terror here. As I, however, was only I have for that length of time had a sojourner, I did not so much apdealings with you ; and if you pro- prehend the consequences; and I set duce a single act in which I have off, John accompanying me, at a very been guilty of injustice, I here pledge rapid pace; and although we were my word before you all, to recom- on foot, we soon reached the spot pense the injured person to the ut- where the poor man was lying-a most of my power-Is there one of dreadful spectacle he was! We were you who has a claim upon me? Does in the act of examining whether any nobody speak ? Not one. Do you, spark of life remained, when I heard, gentlemen, note this silence ? Is there from the other side of the angle which one among you that would hazard the the road made at this place, the same deep and distinct voice which had so torn from the coats of the murderers much struck me on the day before. by a dying grasp. Poor fellow ! It was uttered in a kind of address to said he, again turning to the dead a stubborn horse. I will not strug, body; we have passed many hours gle with you ; I never contended with of danger together, and God gave us a brute devoid of reason. Then see. strength and courage to come through ing us, as he descended from his them. You were a faithful servant.' vehicle, he said, with the same preci. After remaining some time silent, he sion, 'Answer-Who are you?-are asked whether I would assist him in you friends ?" I gave him a brief ex- removing the body; and I gave, of planation, and directed his attention course, an affirmative reply. He had to the pitiful sight which awaited him. previously placed planks across a part After feeling the wrist of the object of his car, and on these we laid the before him, and applying his hand to body, and secured it as effectually as the mouth, he remained for some we could. During our return I made minutes silent, gazing on the body. some acquaintance with Mr HThen he turned round to me. • He although he spoke very little ; but he is dead,' said he ; 'it was no com- has given me a very pressing invitamon struggle, you may perceive,' tion to spend some days at his house, pointing to the footprints stamped which I felt no hesitation about acdeeply into the ground, and to some cepting, and I purpose removing there blood-stains and fragments of cloth to.morrow.”


On receiving this letter, I imme. until a season when the excitement diately wrote him :

which now possesses me shall have in "MY DEAR O'Brien,

some degree subsided, and the divine “ I feel myself in imminent peril of voice of that region of enchantment, incurring a censure such as we have out of which I have just emerged, sometimes not unsparingly visited on shall have ceased to ring around me. our friend Stephenson, when, at a ran- “ One preliminary, however, I must dom stroke, he has demolished a the beg to arrangemand observe, I underory, and obtruded some irrelevant stand it as agreed to by you. It is, story or remark upon us, while occu- that you read straightforward as I pied with some far more interesting write, and make no short cuts to the narrative or speculation. Your letter, conclusion of my story. I am about with all its speciosa miracula rerum, is to tell you of matters strange and diflying before me-notunread - and I am ficult of comprehension. What I write actually on the point of setting it aside, to you, I may perhaps hereafter submit while I call your attention to certain to more general perusal. Of what I wonders of my own, which I think not now communicate to you, it is not unworthy of your consideration. What improbable that I may attempt an excourse shall í pursue? Shall I do vio- planation ; and to understand whether lence to the current of my thoughts, I succeed, it is necessary that you shall and practise politeness on compulsion; have read the entire account of what I or shall I do what I believe will be endeavour to explain. In my view of more acceptable to you, think no more such matters, even where feelings have of giving honour to your epistle, and been disproportionably excited, they write you a correct and particular ac- are not unworthy of being noticed. count of my own adventure? I have You are not one of those who think made up my mind-your letter shall that nothing but what can be touched lie over. I could not tell


or seen, deserves to be made mention strange haps in telegraphic concise- of. You are willing to allow its pro

Once let me begin, and multi- per reality to the world of imaginatudes of thoughts and feelings, ear- tion; and you know that if, even withnest and loquacious as Irish witnesses, out an adequate cause, astonishment will insist on having their words. Let or terror has been strongly felt, the them have their wish, and accept you circumstances under which such senmy story, assured that I have not re- sations were experienced, are as worceived your communication with less thy of being recorded as are many of thankfulness, and that I do not regard those important facts which are daily it with less interest, because I defer the paraded in all the pomp with which expression of my acknowledgments printing can invest them. Ilear,then, my

of my


« AnteriorContinuar »