Page images
[graphic][merged small]



JULY, 1867.

The Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly.




BOUT eighteen miles from Bishop's Folly, and in the very midst of the Mourne Mountains, a low spur of land projects into the sea by a thin narrow promontory, so narrow, indeed, that in days of heavy sea and strong wind, the waves have been seen to meet across it. Some benevolent individual had once conceived the idea of planting a small lighthouse here, as a boon to the fishermen who frequent the coast. The lighthouse was built, but never occupied, and after standing some years in a state of half ruin, was turned into a sort of humble inn or shebeen, most probably a mere pretext to cover its real employment as a depôt for smuggled goods; for

in the days of high duties French silks and brandies found many channels into Ireland beside the road that lay through her Majesty's customs. Mr., or, as he was more generally called, Tim Mackessy, the proprietor, was a well-known man in those parts. He followed what in Ireland for some years back has been as much a profession as law or physic, and occasionally a more lucrative line than either-Patriotism. He was VOL. XVI.-NO. 91. .


one of those ready, voluble, self-asserting fellows, who abound in Ireland, but whose favour is not the less with their countrymen from the fact of their frequency. He had, he said, a father, who suffered for his country in ninety-eight; and he had himself maintained the family traditions by being twice imprisoned in Carrickfergus Gaol, and narrowly escaping transportation for life. On the credit of this martyrdom, and the fact that Mr. O'Connell once called him honest Tim Mackessy, he had lived in honour and repute amongst such of his countrymen as "feel the yoke and abhor the rule of the Saxon."

For the present, we are, however, less occupied by Tim and his political opinions than by two guests, who had arrived a couple of days before, and were, at the moment we are now at, seated at breakfast in that modest apartment called the best parlour. Two men less like in appearance might not readily be found. One, thin, fresh-looking, with handsome but haughty features, slightly stooped, but to all seeming as much from habit. as from any debility, was Lord Culduff; his age might be computed by some reference to the list of his services, but would have been a puzzling calculation from a mere inspection of himself: In figure and build, he might be anything from five-and-thirty to two or three and forty; in face, at a close inspection, he might have been high up in the sixties.

His companion was a middle-sized, middle-aged man, with a head of bushy curly black hair, a round bullet head, wide-set eyes, and a short nose, of the leonine pattern; his mouth, large and thick-lipped, had all that mobility that denotes talker and eater; for Mr. Cutbill, civil engineer and architect, was both garrulous and gourmand, and lived in the happy enjoyment of being thought excellent company, and a first-rate judge of a dinner. He was musical too; he played the violoncello with some skill, and was an associate of various philharmonics, who performed fantasias and fugues to dreary old ladies and snuffy old bachelors, who found the amusement an economy that exacted nothing more costly than a little patience. Amongst these Tom Cutbill was a man of wit and man of the world. His career brought him from time to time into contact with persons of high station and rank, and these he ventilated amongst his set in the most easy manner, familiarly talking of Beaufort, and Argyle, and Cleveland, as though they were household words.

It was reported that he had some cleverness as an actor; and he might have had, for the man treated life as a drama, and was eternally representing something,-some imaginary character,-till any little fragment of reality in him had been entirely rubbed out by the process, and he remained the mere personation of whatever the society he chanced to be in wanted or demanded of him.

He had been recommended to Lord Culduff's notice by his lordship's London agent, who had said, "He knows the scientific part of his business as well as the great swells of his profession, and he knows the world a precious sight better than they do. They could tell you if you have coal, but he will do that and more; he will tell you what to do with

it." It was on the advice thus given Lord Culduff had secured his services, and taken him over to Ireland. It was a bitter pill to swallow, for this old broken-down man of fashion, self-indulgent, fastidious, and refined, to travel in such company; but his affairs were in a sad state, from years of extravagance and high living, and it was only by the supposed discovery of these mines on this unprofitable part of his estate that his creditors consented to defer that settlement which might sweep away almost all that remained to him. Cutbill was told, too," His lordship is rather hard-up just now, and cannot be liberal as he could wish; but he is a charming person to know, and will treat you like a brother." The one chink in this shrewd fellow's armour was his snobbery.

It was told of

him once, in a very dangerous illness, when all means of inducing perspiration had failed, that some one said," Try him with a lord, it never failed with Tom yet." If an untitled squire had proposed to take Mr. Cutbill over special to Ireland for a hundred-pound note and his expenses, he would have indignantly refused the offer, and assisted the proposer besides to some unpalatable reflections on his knowledge of life; the thought, however, of journeying as Lord Culduff's intimate friend, being treated as his brother, thrown, from the very nature of the country they travelled in, into close relations, and left free to improve the acquaintance by all those social wiles and accomplishments on which he felt he could pride himself, was a bribe not to be resisted. And thus was it that these two men, so unlike in every respect, found themselves fellowtravellers and companions.

A number of papers, plans, and drawings littered the breakfast-table at which they were seated, and one of these, representing the little promontory of arid rock, tastefully coloured and converted into a handsome pier, with flights of steps descending to the water, and massive cranes swinging bulky masses of merchandise into tall-masted ships, was just then beneath his lordship's double eyeglass.

"Where may all this be, Cutbill? is it Irish?" asked he.

"It is to be out yonder, my lord," said he, pointing through the little window to the rugged line of rocks, over which the sea was breaking in measured rhythm.

"You don't mean there ?" said Lord Culduff, half horrified.

"Yes, my lord, there! Your lordship is doubtless not aware that of all her Majesty's faithful lieges the speculative are the least gifted with the imaginative faculty, and to supply this unhappy want in their natures, we, whose function it is to suggest great industrial schemes or large undertakings, we Promoters,' as we are called, are obliged to supply, not merely by description, but actually pictorially, the results which success will in due time arrive at. We have, as the poet says, to annihilate 'both time and space,' and arrive at a goal which no effort of these worthy people's minds could possibly attain to. What your lordship is now looking at is a case in point, and however little promising the present aspect of that coast-line may seem, time and money,-yes, my lord, time and

« PreviousContinue »