Penelope's Irish Experiences

PART FOURTH.

XVII.

“Silent, O Moyle, be the roar of thy water;
Break not, ye breezes, your chain of repose ;
While murmuring mournfully, Lir’s lovely daughter
Tells to the night-star her tale of woes.”

SORLEY BOY HOTEL, Glens of Antrim.

WE are here for a week, in the neighborhood of Cushendun, just to see a bit of the northeastern corner of Erin, where, at the end of the nineteenth century, as at the beginning of the seventeenth, the population is almost exclusively Catholic and Celtic. The Gaelic Sorley Boy is, in Irish state papers, Carolus Flavus, — yellow-haired Charles, — the most famous of the Macdonnell fighters ; the one who, when recognized by Elizabeth as Lord of the Route, and given a patent for his estates, burned the document before his retainers, swearing that what had been won by the sword should never be held by the sheepskin. Cushendun was one of the places in our literary pilgrimage, because of its association with that charming Irish poetess and good glenswoman who calls herself “ Moira O’Neill.”

This country of the Glens, east of the river Bann, escaped “ plantation,” and that accounts for its Celtic character. When the great Ulster chieftains, the O’Donnells and the O’Neills of Donegal, went under, the third great house of Ulster, the “ Macdonnells of the Isles,” was more fortunate, and, thanks to its Scots blood, found favor with James I. It was a Macdonnell who was created first Earl of Antrim, and given a “ grant of the Glens and the Route, from the Curran of Larne to the Cutts of Coleraine.” Ballycastle is our nearest large town, and its great days were all under the Macdonnells, where, in the Franciscan abbey across the bay, it is said the ground “ literally heaves with Clandonnell dust.” Here are buried those of the clan who perished at the hands of Shane O’Neill, — Shane the Proud, who signed himself “ Myself O’Neill,” and who has been called “ the shaker of Ulster; ” here, too, are those who fell in the great fight at Slieve-an-Aura up in Glen Shesk, when the Macdonnells finally routed the older lords, the McQuillans. A clansman once went to the Countess of Antrim to ask the lease of a farm.

“ Another Macdonnell ? ” asked the countess. “ Why, you must all be Macdonnells in the Low Glens ! ”

“ Ay,” said the man. “ Too many Macdonnells now, but not one too many on the day of Aura.”

From the cliffs of Antrim we can see on any clear day the Sea of Moyle and the bonnie blue hills of Scotland, divided from Ulster at this point by only twenty miles of sea path. The Irish or Gaels or Scots of “ Uladh ” often crossed in their curraghs to this lovely coast of Alba, then inhabited by the Piets. Here, “ when the tide drains out wid itself beyant the rocks,” we sit for many an hour, perhaps on the very spot from which they pushed off their boats. The Mull of Cantire runs out sharply toward you ; south of it are Ailsa Craig and the soft Ayrshire coast; north of the Mull are blue, blue mountains in a semicircle, and just beyond them somewhere, Francesca knows, are the Argyleshire Highlands. And oh ! the pearl and opal tints that the Irish atmosphere flings over the scene, shifting them ever at will, in misty sun or radiant shower; and how lovely are the too rare bits of woodland ! The ground is sometimes white with wild garlic, sometimes blue with hyacinths ; the primroses still linger in moist hidden places, and there are violets and marsh marigolds.

Long, long before the Clandonnell ruled these hills and glens and cliffs they were the home of Celtic legend. Over the waters of the wee river Margy, with its half-mile course, often sailed the four white swans, those enchanted children of Lir, king of the Isle of Man, who had been transformed into this guise by their cruel stepmother, with a stroke of her druidical fairy wand. After turning them into four beautiful white swans she pronounced their doom, which was to sail three hundred years on smooth Lough Derryvara, three hundred on the gloomy Sea of Moyle, and three hundred on the Sea of Erris, — sail, and sail, until the union of Largnen, the prince from the north, with Decca, the princess from the south ; until the Taillkenn 2 should come to Erinn, bringing the light of a pure faith, and until they should hear the voice of a Christian bell. They were allowed to keep their own Gaelic speech, and to sing sweet, plaintive fairy music, which should excel all the music of the world, and which should lull to sleep all who listened to it. We could hear it, we three, for we loved the story ; and love opens the ear as well as the heart to all sorts of sounds not heard by the dull and incredulous. You may hear it, too, any fine soft day, if you will sit there looking out on Fair Head and Rathlin Island, and read the old fairy tale. When you put down the book, you will see Finola, Lir’s lovely daughter, in any white-breasted bird; and while she covers her brothers with her wings, she will chant to you her old song in the Gaelic tongue.

The Fate of the Children of Lir is the second of Erin’s Three Sorrows of Story, and the third and greatest is the Fate of the Sons of Usnach, which has to do with a sloping rock on the north side of Fair Head, five miles from us. Here the three sons of Usnach landed when they returned from Alba to Erin with Deirdré, — Deirdré, who was “ beautiful as Helen, and gifted like Cassandra with unavailing prophecy ; ” and by reason of her beauty many sorrows fell upon the Ultonians. It is a sad story, and we can easily weep at the thrilling moment when, there being no man among the Ultonians to do the king’s bidding, a Norse captive takes Naisi’s magic sword and strikes off the heads of the three sons of Usnach with one swift blow, and Deirdré, falling prone upon the dead bodies, chants a lament; and when she has finished singing, she puts her pale cheek against Naisi’s, and dies; and a great cairn is piled over them, and an inscription in Ogham set upon it.

We were full of legendary lore, these days, for we were fresh from a sight of Glen Ariff. Who that has ever chanced to be there in a pelting rain but will remember its innumerable little waterfalls, and the great falls of Ess-na-Crubh and Ess-na-Craoibhe ! And who can ever forget the atmosphere of romance that broods over these Irish glens !

We have had many advantages here as elsewhere; for kind Dr. La Touche, Lady Killbally, and Mrs. Colquhoun follow us with letters, and wherever there is an unusual personage in a district we are commended to his or her care. Sometimes it is one of the “ grand quality,” and often it is an Ossianic sort of person like Shaun O’Grady, who lives in a little whitewashed cabin, and who has, like Mr. Yeats’ Gleeman, “ the whole Middle Ages under his frieze coat.” The longer and more intimately we know these peasants, the more we realize how much in imagination, or in the clouds, if you will, they live. The ragged man of leisure you meet on the road may be a philosopher, and is still more likely to be a poet; but unless you have something of each in yourself, you may mistake him for a mere beggar.

“ The practical ones have all emigrated,” a Dublin novelist told us, “and the dreamers are left. The heads of the older ones are filled with poetry and legends ; they see nothing as it is, but always through some iridescent-tinted medium. Their waking moments, when not tormented by hunger, are spent in heaven, and they all live in a dream, whether it be of the next world or of a revolution. Effort is to them useless, submission to everybody and everything the only safe course; in a word, fatalism expresses their attitude to life.”

Much of this submission to the inevitable is a product of past poverty, misfortune and famine, and the rest is undoubtedly a trace of the same spirit that we find in the lives and writings of the saints, and which is an integral part of the mystery and the tradition of Romanism. We who live in the bright (and sometimes staring) sunlight of common sense can hardly hope to penetrate the dim, mysterious world of the Catholic peasant, with his unworldliness and sense of failure.

Dr. Douglas Hyde, an Irish scholar and stanch Protestant, says: “A pious race is the Gaelic race. The Irish Gael is pious by nature. There is not an Irishman in a hundred in whom is the making of an unbeliever. The spirit, and the things of the spirit, affect him more powerfully than the body, and the things of the body. . . . What is invisible for other people is visible for him. . . . He feels invisible powers before him, and by his side, and at his back, throughout the day and throughout the night. . . . His mind on the subject may be summed up in the two sayings: that of the early Church, 3 Let ancient things prevail,’ and that of St. Augustine, ‘ Credo quia impossibile.’ Nature did not form him to be an unbeliever ; unbelief is alien to his mind and contrary to his feelings.”

Here, only a few miles away, is the Slemish mountain where St. Patrick, then a captive of the rich cattle-owner Milcho, herded his sheep and swine. Here, when his flocks were sleeping, he poured out his prayers, a Christian voice in pagan darkness. It was the memory of that darkness, you remember, that brought him back, years after, to convert Milcho. Here, too, they say, lies the great bard Ossian ; for they love to think that Finn’s son Oisin1, the hero poet, survived to the time of St. Patrick, three hundred years after the other “ Fianna ” had vanished from the earth, — the three centuries being passed in Tir-nanog, the Land of Youth, where the great Oisin married the king’s daughter, Niam of the Golden Hair.

There is plenty of history here, and plenty of poetry, to one who will listen to it; but the high and tragic story of Ireland has been cherished mainly in the sorrowful traditions of a defeated race, and the legends have not yet been wrought into undying verse. Erin’s songs of battle could only recount weary successions of Flodden Fields, with never a Bannockburn and its nimbus of victory ; but somewhere in the green isle is an unborn poet who will put all this mystery, beauty, passion, romance, and sadness, these tragic memories, these beliefs, these visions of unfulfilled desire, into verse that will glow on the page and live for ever. Somewhere is a mother who has kept all these things in her heart, and who will bear a son to write them. Meantime, who shall say that they have not been imbedded in the language, like flower petals in amber ? — that language which, as an English scholar says, “has been blossoming there unseen,like a hidden garland of roses; and whenever the wind has blown from the west, English poetry has felt the vague perfume of it.”

XVIII.

“ As beautiful Kitty one morning was tripping
With a pitcher of milk from the fair of Coleraine,
When she saw me she stumbled, the pitcher it tumbled,
And all the sweet buttermilk watered the plain.”

We wanted to cross to Rathlin Island, which is “ like an Irish stockinge, the toe of which pointeth to the main lande.” That would bring Francesca six miles nearer to Scotland and her Scottish lover; and we wished to see the castle of Robert the Bruce, where, according to the legend, he learned his lesson from the “six times baffled spider.” We delayed too long, however, and the Sea of Moyle looked as bleak and stormy as it did to the children of Lir. We had no mind to be swallowed up in Brecain’s Caldron, where the grandson of Niall and the Nine Hostages sank with his fifty curraghs ; so we left the Sorley Boy Hotel bright and early in the morning, for Coleraine, a great Presbyterian stronghold in what is called by the Roman Catholics the “black north.” If we liked it, and saw anything of Kitty’s descendants, or any nice pitchers to break, or any reason for breaking them, we intended to stop; if not, then to push on to the walled town of Derry,

“ Where Foyle his swelling waters
Rolls northward to the main.”

We thought it Francesca’s duty, as she was to be the wife of a Scottish minister of the Established Church, to look up Presbyterianism in Ireland whenever and wherever possible, with a view to discoursing learnedly about it in her letters,— though, as she confessed ingenuously, Ronald, in his, never so much as mentions Presbyterianism. As for ourselves, we determined to observe all theological differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics, but leave Presbyterianism to gang its ain gait. We had devoted hours — yes, days — in Edinburgh to the understanding of the subtle and technical barriers which separated the Free Kirkers and the United Presbyterians ; and the first thing they did, after we had completely mastered the subject, was to unite. It is all very well for Salemina, who condenses her information and stows it away neatly; but we who have small storage room and inferior methods of packing must be as economical as possible in amassing facts.

If we had been touring properly, of course we should have been going to the Giant’s Causeway and the swinging bridge at Carrick-a-rede ; but propriety was the last thing we aimed at, in our itineraries. We were within worshiping distance of two rather important shrines in our literary pilgrimage ; for we had met a very knowledgable traveler at the Sorley Boy, and after a little chat with him had planned a day of surprises for the academic Miss Peabody. We proposed to halt at Port Stewart, lunch at Coleraine, sleep at Limavady; and meantime, Salemina was to read all the books at her command, and guess, we hoped vainly, the why and wherefore of these stops.

On the appointed day, the lady in question drove in state on a car with Benella, but Francesca and I hired a couple of very wheezy bicycles for the journey. We had a thrilling start; for it chanced to be a Fair day in Ballycastle, and we wheeled through a sea of squealing, bolting pigs, stupid sheep, and unruly cows, all pursued on every side by their drivers. To alight from a bicycle in such a whirl of beasts always seems certain death ; to remain seated diminishes, I believe, the number of one’s days of life to an appreciable extent. Francesca chose the first course, and, standing still in the middle of the street, called upon everybody within hearing to save her, and that right speedily. A crowd of “ jibbing ” heifers encircled her on all sides, while a fat porker, “ who might be a prize pig by his impidence,” and a donkey that (his driver said) was feelin’ bluemouldy for want of a batin’, tried to poke their noses into the group. Salemina’s only weapon was her scarlet parasol, and, standing on the step of her side car, she brandished this with such terrible effect that the only bull in the cavalcade put up his head and roared. “ Have conduct, woman dear ! ” cried his owner to Salemina. “ Sure if you kape on moidherin’ him wid that red ombrelly, you ’ll have him ugly on me immajently, and the divil a bit o’ me can stop him.” “ Don’t be cryin’ that way, asthore,” he went on, going to Francesca’s side, and piloting her tenderly to the hedge. “ Sure I ’ll nourish him wid the whip whin I get him to a more remoted place.”

We had no more adventures, but Francesca was so unhinged by her unfortunate exit from Ballycastle that, after a few miles, she announced her intention of putting her machine and herself on the car; whereupon Benella proclaimed herself a cyclist, and climbed down blithely to mount the discarded wheel. Her ideas of propriety were by this time so developed that she rode ten or twelve feet behind me, where she looked quaint enough, in her black dress and little black bonnet with its white lawn strings.

“ Sure it’s a quare footman ye have, melady,” said a pleasant and friendly person who was sitting by the roadside smoking his old dudeen. An Irishman, somehow, is always going to his work “jist,” or coming from it, or thinking how it shall presently be done, or meditating on the next step in the process, or resting a bit before taking it up again, or reflecting whether the weather is on the whole favorable to its proper performance ; but, however poor and needy he may be, it is somewhat difficult to catch him at the precise working moment. Mr. Alfred Austin says of the Irish peasants that idleness and poverty seem natural to them. “ Life to the Scotsman or Englishman is a business to conduct, to extend, to render profitable. To the Irishman it is a dream, a little bit of passing consciousness on a rather hard pillow; the hard part of it being the occasional necessity for work, which spoils the tenderness and continuity of the dream.”

Presently we passed the castle, rode along a neat quay with a row of houses advertising lodgings to let; and here is Lever Cottage, where Harry Lorrequer was written ; for Lever was dispensary doctor in Port Stewart when his first book was appearing in the Dublin University Magazine.

We did not fancy Coleraine ; it looked like anything but Cuil-rathain, a ferny corner. Kitty’s sweet buttermilk may have watered, but it had not fertilized the plain, though the town itself seemed painfully prosperous. Neither the Clothworkers’ Inn nor the Corporation Arms looked a pleasant stopping place ; so we took the railway, and departed with delight for Limavady, where Thackeray, fresh from his visit to Charles Lever, laid his poetical tribute at the stockingless feet of Miss Margaret of that town.

O’Cahan, whose chief seat was at Limavady, was the principal urraght of O’Neill, and when one of the great clan was “ proclaimed ” at Tullaghogue it was the magnificent privilege of the O’Cahan to toss a shoe over his head. We slept at O’Cahan’s Hotel, and — well, one must sleep; and wherever we attend to that necessary function without due preparation, we generally make a mistake in the selection of the particular spot. Protestantism does not necessarily mean cleanliness, although it may have natural tendencies in that direction ; and we find, to our surprise (a surprise rooted, probably, in bigotry), that Catholicism can be as clean as a penny whistle, now and again. There were no special privileges at O’Cahan’s for maids, and Benella, therefore, had a delightful evening in the coffee room with a storm-bound commercial traveler. As for Francesca and me, there was plenty to occupy us in our regular letters to Ronald and Himself; and Salemina wrote several sheets of thin paper to somebody, — no one in America, either, for we saw her put on a penny stamp.

Our pleasant duties over, we looked into the cheerful glow of the turf sods while I read aloud Thackeray’s verses, delightful all, from Peg’s first entrance,

“ Presently a maid
Enters with the liquor
(Half-a-pint of ale
Frothing in a beaker).
Gads ! I did n’t know
What my beating heart meant:
Hebe’s self I thought
Enter’d the apartment.
As she came she smiled,
And the smile bewitching,
On my word and honour,
Lighted all the kitchen ! ”

to the last eloquent summing-up of her charms : —

“ This I do declare,
Happy is the laddy
Who the heart can share
Of Peg of Limavaddy.
Married if she were,
Blest would be the daddy
Of the children fair
Of Peg of Limavaddy.
Beauty is not rare
In the land of Paddy,
Fair beyond compare
Is Peg of Limavaddy.”

This cheered us a bit; but the wind sighed in the trees, the rain dripped on the window panes, and we felt for the first time a consciousness of home-longing. Francesca sat on a low stool, looking into the fire, Ronald’s last letter in her lap, and it was easy indeed to see that her heart was in the Highlands. She had been giving us a few extracts from the letter, an unusual proceeding, as Ronald, in his ordinary correspondence, is evidently not a quotable person. We smiled over his account of a visit to his old parish of Inchacaldy in Fifeshire. There is a certain large orphanage in the vicinity, in which we had all taken an interest, chiefly because our friends the Macraes of Pettybaw House were among its guardians.

It seems that Lady Rowardennan of the Castle had promised the orphans, en bloc, that those who passed through an entire year without once falling into falsehood should have a treat or festival of their own choosing. On the eventful day of decision, those orphans, male and female, who had not for a twelvemonth deviated from the truth by a hair’s breadth raised their little white hands (emblematic of their pure hearts and lips), and were solemnly counted. Then came the unhappy moment when a scattering of small grimy paws was timidly put up, and their falsifying owners confessed that they had fibbed more than once during the year. These tearful fibbers were also counted, and sent from the room, while the non-fibbers chose their reward, which was to sail around the Bass Rock and the Isle of May in a steam tug.

On the festival day, the matron of the orphanage chanced on the happy thought that it might have a moral effect on the said fibbers to see the non-fibbers depart in a blaze of glory ; so they were taken to the beach to watch the tug start on its voyage. They looked wretched enough, Ronald wrote, when forsaken by their virtuous playmates, who stepped jauntily on board, holding their sailor hats on their heads and carrying nice little luncheon baskets ; so miserably unhappy, indeed, did they seem that certain sympathetic and ill-balanced persons sprang to their relief, providing them with sandwiches, sweeties, and pennies. It was a lovely day, and when the fibbers’ tears were dried they played merrily on the sand, their games directed and shared in by the aforesaid misguided persons.

Meantime a high wind had sprung up at sea, and the tug was tossed to and fro upon the foamy deep. So many and so varied were the ills of the righteous orphans that the matron could not attend to all of them properly, and they were laid on benches or on the deck, where they languidly declined luncheon, and wept for a sight of land. At five the tug steamed up to the landing. A few of the voyagers were able to walk ashore, some were assisted, others were carried ; and as the pale, haggard, truthful company gathered on the beach, they were met by a boisterous, happy crowd of Ananiases and Sapphiras, sunburned, warm, full of tea and cakes and high spirits, and with the moral law already so uncertain in their minds that at the sight of the suffering non-liars it tottered to its fall.

Ronald hopes that Lady Rowardennan and the matron may perhaps have gained some useful experience by the incident, though the orphans, truthful and untruthful, are hopelessly mixed in their views of right doing.

He is staying now at the great house of the neighborhood, while his new manse is being put in order. Roderick, the piper, he says, has a grand collection of pipe tunes given him by an officer of the Black Watch. Francesca, when she and Ronald visit the Castle on their wedding journey, is to have Johnnie Cope to wake her in the morning, Brose and Butter just before dinner is served, a reel, a strathspey, and a march while the meal is going on, and last of all The Highland Wedding. Ronald does not know whether there are any Lowland Scots or English words to this pipe tune, but it is always played in the Highlands after the actual marriage, and the words in the Gaelic are, “ Alas for me if the wife I have married is not a good one, for she will eat the food and not do the work ! ”

“ You don’t think Ronald meant anything personal in quoting that ? ” I asked Francesca teasingly; but she shot me such a reproachful look that I had n’t the heart to persist, her face was so full of self-distrust and love and longing.

What creatures of sense we are, after all; and in certain moods, of what avail is it if the beloved object is alive, safe, loyal, so long as he is absent ? He may write letters like Horace Walpole or Chesterfield, — better still, like Alfred de Musset, or George Sand, or the Brownings; but one clasp of the hand that moved the pen is worth an ocean of words ! You believe only in the etherealized, the spiritualized passion of love ; you know that it can exist through years of separation, can live and grow where a coarser feeling would die for lack of nourishment; still, though your spirit should be strong enough to meet its spirit mate somewhere in the realms of imagination, and the bodily presence ought not really to be necessary, your stubborn heart of flesh craves sight and sound and touch. That is the only pitiless part of death, it seems to me. We have had the friendship, the love, the sympathy, and these are things that can never die ; they have made us what we are, and they are by their very nature immortal; yet we would come near to bartering all these spiritual possessions for the “ touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still.”

How could I ever think life easy enough to be ventured on alone ! It is so beautiful to feel one’s self of infinite value to one other human creature ; to hear beside one’s own step the tread of a chosen companion on the same road. And if the way be dusty or the hills difficult to climb, each can say to the other : “I love you, dear; lean on me and walk in confidence. I can always be counted on, whatever happens.”

XIX.

“ Here’s a health to you, Father O’Flynn !
Slainté, and slainté and slainté agin ;
Pow’rfulest preacher and tenderest teacher,
And kindliest creature in ould Donegal.”

COOMNAGEEHA HOTEL,

In ould Donegal.

It is a far cry from the kingdom of Kerry to “ ould Donegal,” where we have been traveling for a week, chiefly in the hope of meeting Father O’Flynn. We miss our careless, genial, ragged, southern Paddy just a bit; for he was a picturesque, likable figure, on the whole, and easier to know than this Ulster Irishman, the product of a mixed descent.

We did not stop long in Belfast; for if there is anything we detest, when on our journeys, it is to mix too much with people of industry, thrift, and business sagacity. Sturdy, prosperous, calculating, well-to-do Protestants are well enough in their way, and undoubtedly they make a very good backbone for Ireland ; but we crave something more romantic than the citizen virtues, or we should have remained in our own country, where they are tolerably common, although we have not as yet anything approaching overproduction.

Dr. La Touche writes to Salemina that we need not try to understand all the religious and political complications which surround us. They are by no means as violent or as many as in Thackeray’s day, when the great English author found nine shades of politico-religious differences in the Irish Liverpool. As the impartial observer must necessarily displease eight parties, and probably the whole nine, Thackeray advised a rigid abstinence from all intellectual curiosity. Dr. La Touche says, if we wish to know the north better, it will do us no harm to study the Plantation of Ulster, the United Irish movement, Orangeism, Irish Jacobitism, the effect of French and Swiss Republicanism in the evolution of public sentiment, and the close relation and affection that formerly existed between the north of Ireland and New England. (This last topic seems to appeal to Salemina particularly.) He also alludes to Tories and Rapparees, Rousseau and Thomas Paine and Owen Roe O’Neill, but I have entirely forgotten their connection with the subject. Francesca and I are thoroughly enjoying ourselves, as only those people can who never take notes, and never try, when Pandora’s box is opened in their neighborhood, to seize the heterogeneous contents and put them back properly, with nice little labels on them.

Ireland is no longer a battlefield of English parties, neither is it wholly a laboratory for political experiment; but from having been both the one and the other, its features are a bit knocked out of shape and proportion, as it were. We have bought two hideous engravings of The Battle of the Boyne and The Secret of England’s Greatness; and whenever we stay for a night in any inn where perchance these are not, we pin them on the wall, and are received into the landlady’s heart at once. I don’t know which is the finer study : the picture of his Majesty William III. crossing the Boyne, or the plump little Queen presenting a huge family Bible to an apparently uninterested black man. In the latter work of art the eye is confused at first, and Francesca asked innocently, “ Which is the secret of England’s greatness, — the Bible, the Queen, or the black man ? ”

This is a thriving town, and we are at a smart hotel which had for two years an English manager. The scent of the roses hangs round it still, but it is gradually growing fainter under the stress of small patronage and other adverse circumstances. The table linen is a trifle ragged, though clean; but the circle of red and green wineglasses by each plate, an array not borne out by the number of vintages on the wine list, the tiny ferns scattered everywhere in innumerable pots, and the dozens of minute glass vases, each holding a few blue hyacinths, give an air of urban elegance to the dining room. The guests are requested in printed placards to be punctual at meals, especially at the seven-thirty table d’hôte dinner, and the management itself is punctual at this function about seven forty-five. This is much better than at the south, where we, and sixty other travelers, were once kept waiting fifteen minutes between the soup and the fish course. When we were finally served with half - cooked turbot, a pleasantspoken waitress went about to each table, explaining to the irate guests that the cook was “ not at her best.”

There is nothing sacred about dinner to the average Irishman ; he is willing to take anything that comes, as a rule, and cooking is not regarded as a fine art here. Perhaps occasional flashes of starvation and seasons of famine have rendered the Irish palate easier to please; at all events, wherever the national god may be, its pedestal is not in the stomach. Our breakfast, day after day, week after week, has been bacon and eggs. One morning we had tomatoes on bacon, and concluded that the cook had experienced religion or fallen in love, since both these operations send a flush of blood to the brain and stimulate the mental processes. But no; we found simply that the eggs had not been brought in time for breakfast. There is no consciousness of monotony, — far from it; the nobility and gentry can at least eat what they choose, and they choose bacon and eggs. There is no running of the family gamut, either, from plain boiled to omelet; poached or fried eggs on bacon, it is, week days and Sundays. The luncheon, too, is rarely inspired : they eat cold joint of beef with pickled beet root, or mutton and boiled potatoes, with unfailing regularity, finishing off at most hotels with semolina pudding, a concoction intended for, and appealing solely to, the taste of the toothless infant, who, having just graduated from rubber rings, has not a jaded palate.

It is odd to see how soon, if one has a strong sense of humanity, one feels at home in a foreign country. I am never impressed by the differences, at least, but only by the similarities, between Englishspeaking peoples. We take part in the life about us here, living each experience as fully as we can, whether it be a “ hiring fair ” in Donegal or a pilgrimage to the Doon “Well of Healing.” Not the least part of the pleasure is to watch its effect upon the Derelict. Where, or in what way, could three persons hope to gain as much return from a monthly expenditure of twenty dollars, added to her living and traveling expenses, as we have had in Miss Benella Dusenberry ? We sometimes ask ourselves what we found to do with our time before she came into the family, and yet she is as busy as possible herself.

Having twice singed Francesca’s beautiful locks, she no longer attempts hairdressing ; while she never accomplishes the lacing of an evening dress without putting her knee in the centre of your back once, at least, during the operation. She can button shoes, and she can mend and patch and darn to perfection ; she has a frenzy for small laundry operations, and, after washing the windows of her room, she adorns every pane of glass with a fine cambric handkerchief, and, stretching a line between the bedpost and the bureau knob, she hangs out her white neckties and her bonnet strings to dry. She has learned to pack reasonably well, too. But if she has another passion beside those of washing and mending, it is for making bags. She buys scraps of gingham and print, and makes cases of every possible size and for every possible purpose; so that all our personal property, roughly speaking, — hairbrushes, shoes, writing materials, pincushions, photographs, underclothing, gloves, medicines, — is bagged. The strings in the bags pull both ways, and nothing is commoner than to see Benella open and close seventeen or eighteen of them when she is searching for Francesca’s rubbers or my gold thimble. But what other lady’s maid or traveling companion ever had half the Derelict’s unique charm and interest, half her conversational power, her unusual and original defects and virtues? Put her in a third-class carriage when we go “first,” and she makes friends with all her fellow travelers, discussing Home Rule or Free Silver with the utmost prejudice and vehemence, and freeing her mind on any point, to the delight of the natives. Occasionally, when borne along by the joy of argument, she forgets to change at the point of junction, and has to be found and dragged out of the railway carriage ; occasionally, too, she is left behind when taking a cheerful cup of tea at a way station, but this is comparatively seldom. Her stories of life below stairs in the various inns and hotels, her altercations with housemaid or boots or landlady in our behalf, all add a zest to the day’s doings.

Benella’s father was an itinerant preacher, her mother the daughter of a Vermont farmer ; and although she was left an orphan at ten years, educating and supporting herself as best she could after that, she is as truly a combination of both parents as her name is a union of their two names.

“ I’m so ’fraid I shan’t run across any of grandmother’s folks over here, after all,” she said yesterday, “ though I ask every nice-appearin’ person I meet anywheres if he or she’s any kin to Mary Boyce of Trim ; and then, again, I’m scared to death for fear I shall find I’m own cousin to one of these here critters that ain’t brushed their hair nor washed their apurns for a month o’ Sundays ! I declare, it keeps me real nerved up.... I think it’s partly the climate that makes ’em so slack,” she philosophized, pinning a new bag on her knee, and preparing to backstitch the seam. “There’s nothin’ like a Massachusetts winter for puttin’ the git-up-an’-git into you. Land ! you’ve got to move round smart, or you 'd freeze in your tracks. These warm, moist places always makes folks lazy; and when they ’re hot enough, if you take notice, it makes heathen of ’em. It always seems so queer to me that real hot weather and the Christian religion don’t seem to git along together. P’r’aps it’s just as well that the idol-worshipers should git used to heat in this world, for they ’ll have it consid’able hot in the next one, I guess ! And see here, Mrs. Beresford, will you get me ten cents’ — I mean sixpence worth o’ red gingham, to make Miss Monroe a bag for Mr. Macdonald’s letters ? They go sprawlin’ all over her trunk ; and there’s so many of ’em, I wish to the land she’d send ’em to the bank while she’s travelin’ ! ”

XX.

“Soon as you lift the latch, little ones are meeting you,
Soon as you 're ’neath the thatch, kindly looks are greeting you ;
Scarcely have you time to be holding out the fist to them —
Down by the fireside you ’re sitting in the midst of them.”

ROOTHYTHANTHRUM COTTAGE, Knockcool, County Tyrone.

Of course, we have always intended sooner or later to forsake this life of hotels and lodgings, and become either Irish landlords or tenants, or both, with a view to the better understanding of one burning Irish question. We heard of a charming house in County Down, which could be secured by renting it the first of May for the season ; but as we could occupy it only for a month at most, we were obliged to forego the opportunity.

“ We have been told from time immemorial that absenteeism has been one of the curses of Ireland,” I remarked to Salemina ; “ so, whatever the charms of the cottage in Rostrevor, do not let us take it, and in so doing become absentee landlords.”

“ It was you two who hired the ‘ wee theekit hoosie ’ in Pettybaw,” said Francesca. “ I am going to be in the vanguard of the next house-hunting expedition ; in fact, I have almost made up my mind to take my third of Benella and be an independent householder for a time. If I am ever to learn the management of an establishment before beginning to experiment on Ronald’s, now is the proper moment.”

“ Ronald must have looked the future in the face when he asked you to marry him,” I replied, “ although it is possible that he looked only at you, and therefore it is his duty to endure your maiden incapacities ; but why should Salemina and I suffer you to experiment upon us, pray ? ”

It was Benella, after all, who inveigled us into making our first political misstep ; for, after avoiding the sin of absenteeism, we fell into one almost as black, inasmuch as we evicted a tenant. It is part of Benella’s heterogeneous and unusual duty to take a bicycle and scour the country in search of information for us: to find out where shops are, post office, lodgings, places for good sketches, ruins, pretty roads for walks and drives, and many other things, too numerous to mention. She came home from one of these expeditions flushed with triumph.

“ I’ve got you a house! ” she exclaimed proudly. “ There’s a lady in it now, but she ’ll move out to-morrow when we move in, and we are to pay seventeen dollars fifty — I mean three pound ten — a week for the house, with privilege of renewal, and she throws in the hired girl.” (Benella is hopelessly provincial in the matter of language; butler, chef, boots, footman, scullery maid, all come under the generic term “help.”)

“ I knew our week at this hotel was out to-morrow,” she continued, “and we’ve about used up this place, anyway, and the new village that I’ve b’en to is the prettiest place we’ve seen yet; it’s got an up-and-down hill to it, just like home, and the house I’ve partly rented is opposite a Fair green, where there’s a market every week, and Wednesday’s the day; and we ’ll save money, for I shan’t cost you so much when we can housekeep.”

“Would you mind explaining a little more in detail,” asked Salemina quietly, “ and telling me whether you have hired the house for yourself or for us ? ”

“For us all,” she replied genially, — “ you don’t suppose I’d leave you ? I liked the looks of this cottage the first time I passed it, and I got acquainted with the hired girl by going in the side yard and asking for a drink. The next time I went I got acquainted with the lady, who’s got the most outlandish name that ever was wrote down, and here it is on a paper; and to-day I asked her if she did n’t want to rent her house for a week to three quiet ladies without children. She said it wa’n’t her own house, and I asked her if she could n’t sublet to desirable parties, — I knew she was as poor as Job’s turkey by her looks ; and she said it would suit her well enough, if she had any place to go. I asked her if she would n’t like to travel, and she said no. Then I says, ‘ Would n’t you like to go to visit some of your folks ? ’ And she said she s’posed she could stop a week with her son’s wife, just to oblige us. So I engaged a car to drive you down this afternoon just to look at the place ; and if you like it we can easy move over to-morrow. The sun’s so hot I asked the stableman if he had n’t got a top buggy, or a surrey, or a carryall; but he never heard tell of any of ’em; he did n’t even know a shay. I forgot to tell you the lady is a Protestant, and the hired girl’s name is Bridget Thunder, and she’s a Roman Catholic, but she seems extra smart and neat. I was kind of in hopes she would n’t be, for I thought I should enjoy trainin’ her, and doin’ that much for the country.”

And so we drove over to this village of Knockcool (Knockcool, by the way, means “ Hill of Sleep ”), as much to make amends for Benella’s eccentricities as with any idea of falling in with her proposal. The house proved everything she said, and in Mrs. Wogan Odevaine Benella had found a person every whit as remarkable as herself. She was evidently an Irish gentlewoman of very small means, very flexible in her views and convictions, very talkative and amusing, and very much impressed with Benella as a product of New England institutions. We all took a fancy to one another at first sight, and we heard with real pleasure that her son’s wife lived only a few miles away. We insisted on paying the evicted lady the three pounds ten in advance for the first week. She seemed surprised, and we remembered that Irish tenants, though often capable of shedding blood for a good landlord, are generally averse to paying him rent. Mrs. Wogan Odevaine then drove away in high good humor, taking some personal belongings with her, and promising to drink tea with us some time during the week. She kissed Francesca goodby, told her she was the prettiest creature she had ever seen, and asked if she might have a peep at all her hats and frocks when she came to visit us.

Salemina says that Rhododendron Cottage (pronounced by Bridget Thunder “ Roothythanthrum ”) being the property of one landlord and the residence of four tenants at the same time makes us in a sense participators in the old system of rundale tenure, long since abolished. The good will or tenant right was infinitely subdivided, and the tiniest holdings sometimes existed in thirty - two pieces. The result of this joint tenure was an extraordinary tangle, particularly when it went so far as the subdivision of “ one cow’s grass,” or even of a horse, which, being owned jointly by three men, ultimately went lame, because none of them would pay for shoeing the fourth foot.

We have been here five days, and instead of reproving Benella, as we intended, for gross assumption of authority in the matter, we are more than ever her bond slaves. The place is altogether charming, and here it is for you.

Knockcool Street is Knockcool village itself, as with almost all Irish towns ; but the line of little thatched cabins is brightened at the far end by the neat house of Mrs. Wogan Odevaine, set a trifle back in its own garden, by the pillared porch of a modest hotel, and by the barracks of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The sign of the Provincial Bank of Ireland almost faces our windows; and although it is used as a meal shop the rest of the week, they tell us that two thousand pounds in money is needed there on Fair days. Next to it is a little house, the upper part of which is used as a Methodist chapel; and old Nancy, the caretaker, is already a good friend of ours. It is a humble house of prayer, but Nancy takes much pride in it, and showed us the melodeon, “ worked by a young lady from Rossantach,” the Sunday-school rooms, and even the cupboard where she keeps the jugs for the love feast and the linen and wine for the sacrament, which is administered once in three years. Next comes the Hoeys’ cabin, where we have always a cordial welcome, but where we never go all together, for fear of embarrassing the family, which is a large one, — three generations under one roof, and plenty of children in the last. Old Mrs. Hoey does not rightly know her age, she says ; but her daughter Ellen was born the year of the Big Wind, and she herself was twenty-two when she was married, and you might allow a year between that and when Ellen was born, and make your own calculation. Ellen’s husband, Miles M’Gillan, is the carpenter on an estate in the neighborhood. His shop opens out of the cabin, and I love to sit by the Hoey fireside, where the fan bellows, turned by a crank, brings in an instant a fresh flame to the sods of smouldering turf, and watch a wee Colleen Bawn playing among her ancestral shavings, tying them about her waist and fat wrists, hanging them on her ears and in among her brown curls. Mother Hoey says that I do not speak like an American, — that I have not so many “ caperin’s ” in my language, whatever they may be; and so we have long delightful chats together when I go in for a taste of Ellen’s griddle bread, cooked over the peat coals. Francesca, meantime, is calling on Mrs. O’Rourke, whose son has taken more than fifty bicycle prizes; and no stranger can come to Knockcool without inspecting the brave show of silver, medals, and china that adorn the bedroom, and make the O’Rourkes the proudest couple in ould Donegal. Phelim O’Rourke smokes his dudeen on a bench by the door, and invites the passer-by to enter and examine the trophies. His trousers are held up with bits of rope arranged as suspenders ; indeed, his toilet is so much a matter of strings that it must be a work of time to tie on his clothing in the morning, in case he takes it off at night, which is open to doubt; nevertheless it is he that’s the satisfied man, and the luck would be on him as well as on e’er a man alive, were he not kilt wid the cough intirely! Mrs. Phelim’s skirt shows a triangle of red flannel behind, where the two ends of the waistband fail to meet by about six inches, but are held together by a piece of white ball fringe. Any informality in this part of her costume is, however, more than atoned for by the presence of a dingy bonnet of magenta velvet, which she always dons for visitors.

The O’Rourke family is the essence of hospitality, so their kitchen is generally full of children and visitors ; and on the occasion when Salemina issued from the prize bedroom, the guests were so busy with conversation that, to use their own language, divil a wan of thim clapt eyes on the O’Rourke puppy, and they did not notice that the baste was floundering in a tub of soft, newly made butter standing on the floor. He was indeed desperately involved, being so completely wound up in the waxy mass that he could not climb over the tub’s edge.

He looked comical and miserable enough in his plight: the children and the visitors thought so, and so did Francesca and I; but Salemina went directly home, and was not at her best for an hour. She is so sensitive ! Och, thin, it’s herself that’s the marthyr intirely ! We cannot see that the incident affects us so long as we avoid the O’Rourkes’ butter ; but she says, covering her eyes with her handkerchief and shuddering: “ Suppose there are other tubs and other pup— Oh, I cannot bear the thought of it, dears ! Please change the subject, and order me two hard-boiled eggs for dinner.”

Leaving Knockcool behind us, we walk along the country road between high, thick hedges : here a clump of weatherbeaten trees, there a stretch of bog with silver pools and piles of black turf, then a sudden view of hazy hills, a grove of beeches, a great house with a splendid gateway, and sometimes, riding through it, a figure new to our eyes, a Lady Master of the Hounds, handsome in her habit with red facings. We pass many an “ evicted farm,” the ruined house with the rushes growing all about it, and a lonely goat browsing near; and on we walk, until we can see the roofs of Lisdara’s solitary cabin row, huddled under the shadow of a gloomy hill topped by the ruin of an old fort. All is silent, and the blue haze of the peat smoke curls up from the thatch. Lisdara’s young people have mostly gone to the Big Country ; and how many tears have dropped on the path we are treading, as Peggy and Mary, Cormac and Miles, with a little wooden box in the donkey cart behind them, or perhaps with only a bundle hanging from a blackthorn stick, have come down the hill to seek their fortune ! Perhaps Peggy is barefooted ; perhaps Mary has little luggage beyond a pot of shamrock or a mountain thrush in a wicker cage; but what matter for that ? They are used to poverty and hardship and hunger, and although they are going quite penniless to a new country, sure it can be no worse than the old. This is the happy-go-lucky Irish philosophy, and there is mixed with it a deal of simple trust in God.

How many exiles and wanderers, both those who have no fortune and those who have failed to win it, dream of these cabin rows, these sweet-scented boreens with their “ banks of furze unprofitably gay,” these leaking thatches with the purple loosestrife growing in their ragged seams, and, looking backward across the distance of time and space, give the humble spot a tender thought, because after all it was in their dear native isle !

“ Pearly are the skies in the country of my fathers,
Purple are thy mountains, home of my heart;
Mother of my yearning, love of all my longings,
Keep me in remembrance long leagues apart.”

I have been thinking in this strain because of an old dame in the first cabin in Lisdara row, whose daughter is in America, and who can talk of nothing else. She shows us the last letter, with its postal order for sixteen shillings, that Mida sent from New York, with little presents for blind Timsy, “dark since he were three year old,” and for lame Dan, or the “ Bocca,” as he is called in Lisdara. Mida was named for the virgin saint of Killeedy in Limerick, often called the Brigit of Munster. “ And it ’s she that’s good enough to bear a saint’s name, glory be to God ! ” exclaims the old mother, returning Mida’s photograph to a little hole in the wall, where the pig cannot possibly molest it.

At the far end of the row lives “ Omadhaun Pat.” He is a “little sthrange,” you understand; not because he was born with too small a share of wit, but because he fell asleep one evening when he was lying on the grass up by the old fort, and — “ well, he was niver the same thing since.” There are places in Ireland, you must know, where, if you lie down upon the green earth and sink into untimely slumber, you will “ wake silly;' or, for that matter, although it is doubtless a risk, you may escape the fate of waking silly, and wake a poet! Carolan fell asleep upon a faery rath, and it was the faeries who filled his ears with music, so that he was haunted by the tunes ever afterward ; and perhaps all poets, whether they are conscious of it or not, fall asleep on faery raths before they write sweet songs.

Little Omadhaun Pat is pale, holloweyed, and thin ; but that, his mother says, is “ because he is overstudyin’ for his confirmation.” The great day is many weeks away, but to me it seems likely that, when the examination comes, Pat will be where he will know more than the priests!

Next door lives old Biddy Tuke. She is too old to work, and she sits in her doorway, always a pleasant figure in her short woolen petticoat, her little shawl, and her neat white cap. She has pitaties for food, with stirabout of Indian meal once a day (oatmeal is too dear), tea occasionally when there is sixpence left from the rent, and she has more than once tasted bacon in her eighty years of life; more than once, she tells me proudly, for it’s she that’s had the good sons to help her a bit now and then, — four to carry her and one to walk after, which is the Irish notion of an ideal family.

“ It’s no chuckens I do be havin’ now, ma’am,” she says, “ but it’s a darlin’ flock I had ten year ago, whin Dinnis was harvestin’ in Scotland ! Sure it was two-and-twinty chuckens I had on the floore wid meself that year, ma’am.”

“ Oh, it’s a conthrary world, that’s a mortial fact ! ” as Phelim O’Rourke is wont to say when his cough is bad; and for my life I can frame no better wish for ould Biddy Tuke and Omadhaun Pat, dark Timsy and the Bocca, than that they might wake, one of these summer mornings, in the harvest field of the seventh heaven. That place is reserved for the saints, and surely these unfortunates, acquainted with grief like Another, might without difficulty find entrance there.

I am not wise enough to say how much of all this squalor and wretchedness and hunger is the fault of the people themselves, how much of it belongs to circumstances and environment, how much is the result of past errors of government, how much is race, how much is religion. I only know that children should never be hungry, that there are ignorant human creatures to be taught how to live: and if it is a hard task, the sooner it is begun the better, both for teachers and pupils. It is comparatively easy to form opinions and devise remedies, when one knows the absolute truth of things; but it is so difficult to find the truth here, or at least there are so many and such different truths to weigh in the balance, — the Protestant and the Roman Catholic truth, the landlord’s and the tenant’s, the Nationalist’s and the Unionist’s truth ! I am sadly befogged, and so, pushing the vexing questions all aside, I take dark Timsy, Bocca Lynch, and Omadhaun Pat up on the green hillside near the ruined fort, to tell them stories, and teach them some of the thousand things that happier, luckier children know.

This is an island of anomalies ; the Irish peasants will puzzle you, perplex you, disappoint you, with their inconsistencies, but keep from liking them if you can ! There are a few cleaner and more comfortable homes in Lisdara and Knockcool than when we came, and Benella has been invaluable, although her reforms, as might be expected, are of an unusual character; and with her the wheels of progress never move silently, as they should, but always squeak. With the two golden sovereigns given her to spend, she has bought scissors, knives, hammers, boards, sewing materials, knitting needles, and yarn, — everything to work with, and nothing to eat, drink, or wear, though Heaven knows there is little enough of such things in Lisdara.

“ The quicker you wear ’em out, the better you ’ll suit me,” she says to the awe-stricken Lisdarians. “ I ’in a workin’ woman myself, an’ it’s my ladies’ money I’ve spent this time ; but I ’ll make out to keep you in brooms and scrubbin’ brushes, if only you ’ll use ’em ! You must n’t take offense at anything I say to you, for I’m part Irish, — my grandmother was Mary Boyce of Trim; and if she had n’t come away and settled in Salem, Massachusetts, mebbe I wouldn’t have known a scrubbin’ brush by sight myself ! ”

XXI.

“ What ails you, Sister Erin, that your face
Is, like your mountains, still bedewed with tears ?
Forgive ! forget! lest harsher lips should say,
Like your turf fire, your rancour smoulders long,
And let Oblivion strew Time’s ashes o’er your wrong.”

At tea time, and again after our simple dinner, — for Bridget Thunder’s repertory is not large, and Benella’s is quite unsuited to the Knockcool markets, — we wend our way to a certain little house that stands by itself on the road to Lisdara. It is only a whitewashed cabin with green window trimmings, but it is a larger and more comfortable one than we commonly see, and it is the perfection of neatness within and without. The stone wall that incloses it is whitewashed, too, and the iron picket railing at the top is painted bright green; the stones on the posts are green, also, and there is the prettiest possible garden, with nicely cut borders of box. In fine, if ever there was a cheery place to look at, Sarsfield Cottage is that one; and if ever there was a cheerless gentleman, it is Mr. Jordan, who dwells there. Mrs. Wogan Odevaine commended him to us as the man of all others with whom to discuss Irish questions, if we wanted, for once in a way, to hear a thoroughly disaffected, outraged, wrong-headed, and rancorous view of things.

“ He is an encyclopædia, and he is perfectly delightful on any topic in the universe but the wrongs of Ireland,” said she ; “ not entirely sane, and yet a good father, and a good neighbor, and a good talker. Faith, he can abuse the English government with any man alive! He has a smaller grudge against you Americans, perhaps, than against most of the other nations, so possibly he may elect to discuss something more cheerful than our national grievances ; if he does, and you want a livelier topic, just mention — let me see — you might speak of Wentworth, who destroyed Ireland’s woolen industry, though it is true he laid the foundation of the linen trade, so he would n’t do, though Mr. Jordan is likely to remember the former point, and forget the latter. Well, just breathe the words ‘ Catholic Disqualification ’ or ‘ Ulster Confiscation,’ and you will have as pretty a burst of oratory as you’d care to hear. You remember that exasperated Englishman who asked in the House why Irishmen were always laying bare their grievances ? And Major O’Gorman bawled across the floor, 'Because they want them redressed ! ’ ”

Salemina and I went to call on Mr. Jordan the very next day after our arrival at Knockcool. Over the sittingroom or library door at Sarsfield Cottage is a coat of arms with the motto of the Jordans, “ Percussus surgus ; ” and as our friend is descended from Richard Jordan of Knock, who died on the scaffold at Claremorris in the memorable year 1798, I find that he is related to me, for one of the De Exeter Jordans married Penelope O’Connor, daughter of the king of Connaught. He took her to wife, too, when the espousal of anything Irish, names, language, apparel, customs, or daughters, was high treason,and meant instant confiscation of estates. I never thought of mentioning the relationship, for obviously a family cannot hold grievances for hundreds of years and bequeath a sense of humor at the same time.

Mr. Jordan’s wife has been long dead, but he has four sons, only one of them, Napper Tandy, living at home. Theobald Wolfe Tone is practicing law in Dublin ; Hamilton Rowan is a physician in Cork; and Daniel O’Connell, commonly called “ Lib ” (a delicate reference to the Liberator), is still a lad at Trinity. It is a great pity that Mr. Jordan could not have had a larger family, that he might have kept fresh in the national heart the names of a few more patriots ; for his library walls, “ where Memory sits by the altar she has raised to Woe,” are hung with engravings and prints of celebrated insurgents, rebels, agitators, demagogues, denunciators, conspirators, — pictures of anybody, in a word, who ever struck a blow, right or wrong, well or ill judged, for the green isle. That gallant Jacobite, Patrick Sarsfield, Burke, Grattan, Flood, and Robert Emmet stand shoulder to shoulder with three Fenian gentlemen, named Allan, Larkin, and O’Brien, known in ultra-Nationalist circles as the “ Manchester martyrs.” For some years after this trio was hanged in Salford jail, it appears that the infant mind was sadly mixed in its attempt to separate knowledge in the concrete from the more or less abstract information contained in the Catechism; and many a bishop was shocked, when asking in the confirmation service, “ Who are the martyrs ? ” to be told, “ Allan, Larkin, and O’Brien, me lord ! ”

Francesca says she longs to smuggle into Mr. Jordan’s library a picture of Tom Steele, one of Daniel O’Connell’s henchmen, to whom he gave the title of Head Pacificator of Ireland. It is true he was half a madman, but as Sir James O’Connell, Daniel’s candid brother, said, “ And who the divil else would take such a job ? ” At any rate, when we gaze at Mr. Jordan’s gallery, imagining the scene that would ensue were the breath of life breathed into the patriots’ quivering nostrils, we feel sure that the Head Pacificator would be kept busy.

Dear old white-haired Mr. Jordan, known in select circles as “ Grievance Jordan,” sitting in his library surrounded by his denunciators, conspirators, and martyrs, with incendiary documents piled mountains high on his desk, — what a pathetic anachronism he is !

The shillelagh is hung on the wall now, for the most part, and faction-fighting is at an end ; but in the very last moments of it there were still “ ructions ” between the Fitzgeralds and the Moriartys, and the age-old reason of the quarrel was, according to the Fitzgeralds, the betrayal of the “ Cause of Ireland.” The particular instance occurred in the sixteenth century, but no Fitzgerald could ever afterward meet any Moriarty at a fair without crying, “Who dare tread on the tail of me coat ? ” and inviting him to join in the dishcussion with shticks. This practically is Mr. Jordan’s position ; and if an Irishman desires to live entirely in the past, he can be as unhappy as any man alive. He is writing a book, which Mrs. Wogan Odevaine insists is to be called The Groans of Ireland ; but after a glance at a page of memoranda penciled in a collection of Swift’s Irish tracts that he lent to me (the volume containing that ghastly piece of irony, The Modest Proposal for Preventing the Poor of Ireland from being a Burden to their Parents and Country), I have concluded that he is editing a Catalogue of Irish Wrongs Alphabetically Arranged. This idea pleased Mrs. Wogan Odevaine extremely ; and when she drove over to tea, bringing several cheerful young people to call upon us, she proposed, in the most lighthearted way in the world, to play what she termed the Grievance Game, an intellectual diversion which she had invented on the instant. She proposed it, apparently, with a view of showing us how small a knowledge of Ireland’s ancient wrongs is the property of the modern Irish girl, and how slight a hold on her memory and imagination have the unspeakably bitter days of the long ago.

We were each given pencil and paper, and two or three letters of the alphabet, and bidden to arrange the wrongs of Ireland neatly under them, as we supposed Mr. Jordan to be doing for the instruction and the depression of posterity. The result proved that Mrs. Odevaine was a true prophet, for the youngest members of the coterie came off badly enough, and read their brief list of grievances with much chagrin at their lack of knowledge ; the only piece of information they possessed in common being the inherited idea that England never had understood Ireland, never would, never could, never should, never might understand her.

Rosetta Odevaine succeeded in remembering, for A, F, and H, Absenteeism, Flight of the Earls, Famine, and Hunger ; her elder sister, Eileen, fresh from college, was rather triumphant with O and P, giving us Oppression of the Irish Tenantry, Penal Laws, Protestant Supremacy, Poyning’s Law, Potato Rot, and Plantations. Their friend, Rhona Burke, had Y, W, X, Y, Z, and succeeded only in finding Wentworth and Woolen Trade Destroyed, until Miss Odevaine helped her with Wood’s Halfpence, about which everybody else had to be enlightened ; and there was plenty of laughter when Francesca suggested, for V, Vipers Expelled by St. Patrick. Salemina carried off the first prize ; but we insisted that C and D were the easiest letters ; at any rate, her list showed great erudition, and would certainly have pleased Mr. Jordan. C. Church Cess, Catholic Disqualification, Crimes Act of 1887, Confiscations, Cromwell, Carrying Away of Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny) from Tara. D. Destruction of Trees on Confiscated Lands, Discoverers (of flaws in Irish titles), Debasing of the Coinage by James I.

Mrs. Odevaine came next with R and S. R. Recall of Lord Fitzwilliams by Pitt, Rundale LandTenure, Rack-Rents, Ribbonism. S. Schism Act, Supremacy Act, Sixth Act of George I.

I followed with T and U, having unearthed Tithes and the Test Act for the first, and Undertakers, the Acts of Union and Uniformity, for the second ; while Francesca, who had been given I, J, K, L, and M, disgraced herself by failing on all the letters but the last, under which she finally catalogued one particularly obnoxious wrong in Middlemen.

This ignorance of the past may have its bright side, after all, though, to speak truthfully, it did show a too scanty knowledge of national history. But if one must forget, it is as well to begin with the wrongs of far-off years, those “ done to your ancient name or wreaked upon your race.”

Kate Douglas Wiggin.

(To be continued.)

  1. Copyright, 1901, by KATE DOUGLAS RIGGS.
  2. A name given by the druids to St. Patrick.
  3. Pronounced Isheen in Munster, Osh‘in’in Ulster.