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SOME ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF.
BY THE IRISH OYSTER-EATER.
FASCICULUS THE THIRTEENTH.
"From the vacant riband they went on to talk over this man's pension and the other man's job, and considered who was to get such and such a place when such and such a person should resign, or succeed to something better. Then all the miserable mysteries of ministerial craft were unfolded to Vivian's eyes. He had read, he had heard, he had believed that public affairs were conducted in this manner, but he had never till now actually seen it; he was really novice enough still to fetl surprise at finding that, after all the fine professions made on both sides, the main, the only object of these politicians was, to keep their own or get into the places of others. Vivian felt, every moment, his disgust and his melancholy ivcrease. And is it with these people I have consented to act ? And am I to be hurried along by this stream of corruption to infamy and oblivion}"?'- Miss EDGEWORTH.
I had been married to Sophia more battered-out debauchee Lord Cupid, than fifteen years, and had successively for hours together-receiver of stolen essayed the vario’s toils which await nonsense, a recorder of lies, a chronithe gentleman of the press-rising by cler of small beer; fancy this, not gradation and seniority, according as once or twice, but for a lifetime_not my superiors on the paper were car- your diversion, but your trade-I:
I say, ried off to Elysium, the Fleet, or Bo- fancy this, and thank God that you tany Bay (as the case might be), by only know the sort of life it is the several steps of penny-a-liner, through the medium of your imagina. paragraph.compounder, and dread. tion! ful-aecident"-maker, up to supernu- Between the life of the coal-whipmerary theatrical critic, and occasional per and that of the parliamentary rereporter. Thence I ascended into porter I see no manner of difference. “the Gallery," and became a perma- Both are Irishmen—both shamefully nent parliamentary reporter, in which worked and shamefully paid--both capacity, as the inevitable conse- imbibing an atmosphere that makes quence of my situation, I imbibed that tippling essential to existence—both propensity to exterminate oysters for pass the prime of life and the period which you are indebted to the honour of human enjoyment in an unintermitof my acquaintance, and also a cor. ting struggle to obtain the mere ne. responding and equally extravagant cessaries of existence and both, when disposition towards drink. Man is the the season of age and infirmity arrives, child of circumstances. Wordsworth are pushed from their stools by more says, the child is father of the man- active labourers, and, lonely and dethat's poetry; I say, circumstances are sertod, pass the twilight of existence the fathers and mothers of men—that's in poverty and pinches, and finally fact; and, in the circumstances in escape the workhouse in the grave ! which a coal-whipper or parliamentary I emerged from “the Gallery” as reporter must necessarily be placed, I soon as I could, you may be sure, and defy either the one or the other to avoid was appointed a sort of sub-editor, at a propensity to malt-liquors. Fancy which I became so expert, that I could yourself, my good
instead of re- do any thing but write the leadingclining at your ease as you are now, articles, which were furnished by a luxuriating over this Magazine, or, gentleman of the bar, hired for that what is better still, having some fair purpose at three guineas per week. girl to read it you—fancy yourself, I In this sub.editorial capacity I hapsay, perched sky-high in a dirty hole pened to be employed in paying one of a gallery, whereunto ascendeth of our penny-a-liners for two “mysteclouds of dust, smoke of lamps, and rious occurrences," five “shocking acsmells of all unsavoury things, with cidents," and an “extraordinary ciryour hat full of “slips," and your poc- cumstance," which he had concocted kets full of quill-pens and writing-fiuit, (to order) out of his own head, for inhaling the tallow-smelling atmo- that day's paper, when, taking a newssphere, deafened with noise and blind- paper from his pocket, the penny-aed with dust, cocking your ear to liner, who happened to be a Galway catch the faintest echo of the vapid man, directed my attention to the folplatitudes of that poor creature the lowing announcement, headed “ AfHome- Secretary, the mouthings of fair of honour." “ We (the Castlebar Hobhouse, the faded flippancy of that Blazer) have the pleasure to announce that an affair of honour was decided surprise me ; indeed the wonder is near the Cross-Guns, on Sunday that he had not met with it twenty morning (after last mass), between years before, which postponement of Mr Bodkin of Bodkin Bog, in this his inevitable fate I can only account county, and Major Derrydown of the for by supposing that Mr Snake BodNorth Mayo militia, in which the for- kin's previous antagonists were not mer gentleman met with an accident. such close shots as Major Derrydown We understand the slight difference of the North Mayo militia. I went arose about a cover hack, warranted on with my professional avocations, sound by Mr Bodkin to the Major, thinking litile about the matter, and but which the latter discovered to caring less, when a letter in mourning have been afflicted with a blood spavin; arrived from Pat Connor, the attorney whereupon the Major demanded in- of Ballinasloe, to inform me that Bodstant satisfaction, which, after some kin had deposited with him a testamendelay (owing to the Major's bill for tary deed, and duly sealed, signed, and the mare having been protested), was delivered, bearing date the day before acceded to by Mr Bodkin.
the date of the duel, and constituting " At the third fire, Mr Bodkin fell, me tenant in life of the demesne of shot through the occiput in a work- Bodkin Bog, with all the lands, mesmanlike manner, the Major having suages, and tenements thereunto apreceived his adversary's ball through pertaining, for the term of my natural both whiskers, cheeks included; where life; and begging me, if I was alive, upon the delighted spectators peace- to come over at once to take possesably dispersed to witness another sion; and, if I was dead, to let him fight ten miles off.
The parties were know by return of post. I forgot to attended to the ground by Count state that there were two conditions O'Gilligan of the Holy Roman Em- described in Pat Connor's letter, as pire, and Patrick Taafe, Esq., of essential to my legal enjoyment of the Hovel- Taafe, who together published estate—the first, that I should make a a manifesto, declaring that their prin. handsome apology to Major Derrydown cipals, surviving and deceased, proved on behalf of the deceased; and the themselves close shots and perfect gen. second, that I should take the name tlemen!
and arms of Bodkin, in preference to 6. We have the further pleasure to my own. After communicating the announce, that another affair is ex- joyful intelligence to Sophia, I wrote pected to come off on Sunday next, at to Pat Connor, to inform him that I the same hour, between the gentle. was alive and kicking ; that I would men above mentioned, Count O'Gilli- make the required apology promptly gan and Patrick Taafe, Esq., who are to Major Derrydown; and that I would well known as not likely to leave the not only call myself Bodkin, but change ground without showing pepper.' my patronymic to Knitting-needle for We understand this difference arises half the money! Soon after, Sophia out of a bowl of mutton-broth, and packed up our little all, and we found trust the weather may be anspicious." ourselves on our way to the Emerald
In another part of the paper, there Isle, happy in anticipated happinessis an expression of the editor's strong happy in each other-bappy oursuspicion that some evil-minded per- selves! Our amusement on the joursons have it in contemplation to insti- ney home consisted in building castles tute a prosecution in the Bodkin in the air, and pulling them down to affair, and he (the editor) warns the build castles in the air anew. Sophia grand jury, that, if they attempt to was full of little plans of domestic enfind a bill, they may expect nothing joyment, while I meditated no less less than to be individually "riddled; than the purchase of the Castlebar and further takes the liberty to assure Blazer, and, instead of hiring a bar. the going judge of assize, that, if he rister to write the leading articles, countenances any such low and un- con mencing Jupiter Tonans on my gentlemanly proceeding, he may de- own account. pend upon the editor of the Blazır, “ I'll astonish their weak minds, that there will be “wigs on the never fear!" said I, “when I get hold green!"
of the Castlebar Blazer." The intelligence of Mr Bodkin's “I must have a dairy," observed little "accident" did not in the least Sopliia.
“ Hang me, if I don't let them know sures that are inseparable from every what fine writing is !"
condition of our chequeredexistence, “ And a dear delightful donkey." all together mingling confusedly with
“A what, Sophy ?” enquired 1, our thoughts, produce a sort of mental suspecting something personal. intoxication as delightful as it is transi
• A donkey, dear," replied my wife, tory. But far higher even than this, innocently.
pleasurable as it is, are the sensations “Well, my love, you shall have a of a man who, like myself, after donkey. But when I get the Blazer struggling in the sea of life, scarce into my own hands, I don't the least able to keep afloat, without hope or doubt to make it equal to trumps. Let expectation beyond the moment that me see-Monday, a leader on the poor passes over his head, finds himself law ; Tuesday, a slashing.cut-and suddenly dashed by a friendly wave thrust, double-barrelled article on upon a hospitable shore, where, in tithes ; Wednesday, a fire-and-fury sheltered repose, he hears the storm letter on the pig trade."
still rage, and in security beholds the “ What sort of house is Bodkin wreck of fortunes less happy than his House?" enquired Sophy.
own! It was this that gave such a “ The tumble-down order of archi- pleasurable turn at this period to the tecture, sweet,” said I.
complexion of my mind : relieved from " It must be rebuilt, of course?" the pressure of present, or the dread
“Of course, my dear; how can you of future want, i busied myself in conask such a question?-_Thursday, a". triving schemes of ideal felicity. Al
“ We will have it in the Elizabethan ready I had flocks and herds pasturstyle."
ing by the banks of rivers, whose “ Italian, if you please, my dear.- names I did not know ; already I saw Thursday, a
hills, that had no material altitude, “ But I do not please any such clothed with groves planted by my thing, my dear."
imaginative hand; already the gables “Very well, duck."
and chimneys of Sophy's intended “Don't duck me, sir, if you please; Elizabethan mansion rose upon the and it is not very well. Am I to be view ; already I had surrounded myalways crossed in my taste about every self with troops of friends ; already I thing? I say again, I will have the devised plans for the welfare of my house with a bay window in every children ; already all the delights of scullery, attic, and cellar; four prin learned leisure and cultivated retirecipal fronts, with two principal gables ment I had made my own! to every front."
Alas! that we should find our hap“ Very well, madam.”
piness only in deceiving ourselves “ Yes, sir-with chimneys as long, that all that is blissful should be basestrong, and thick as asparagus in the less—and that the realities of life and cheap season, growing in bundles out its sorrows should be the same ! of the roof."
Our arrival at Bodkin Bog dissi“ As you please, Mrs B.-Thurs- pated in a twinkling all our highday, a statistical account of Timbuc. wrought anticipations, and the only too, with the natural history of the red pleasure we had left was in the deherring.”
licious remembrance of our dreams. If no man does any thing for the Bodkin Bog was a dreary, sterile tract, last time without regret, neither does in a wild, treeless, bumid country, coany man approach a change in his con- vered with mosses expanding to the dition, or open a new vista in his pro- limits of the visible horizon, and spects of life, without a sensation plea- blotched over with sedgy, black-looksurable, if it be not indeed pleasure in ing lakes, that appeared like the craters the purest sense. “ Anticipation for- of volcanoes, which the Fire Brigade ward points the view," and novelty had succeeded in putting out. It was lends a freshness and piquancy to the with no little difficulty I persuaded anticipation; the love of change natu- Sophia that the mud hovels, scarcely ral to man, the colouring that inex. raised above the earth that formed perience gives to hope, the delusive them, were the cottages of my tenanself-complacency with which we en- try; and that the subdued, squalid, hance the pleasures we expect to en. heart-broken looking wretches who joy, while we put away out of our issued from them could possibly be the sight all the drawbacks to those plea- finest peasantry in the universe.". VOL. XLY. NO, CCLXXXIV.
When I came, with the assistance tenant will only subject himself to an of Pat Connor, to look into my affairs, honest rent: the practice of the midI discovered that, so far from being dleman is to lay on a rept which he likely to rebuild the mansion-house of knows the farmer cannot pay-by this the Bodkins in the Elizabethan or any means he has his victim completely in other style of architecture, it was ques. his power-by this means he gleans tionable whether it would not ultimate the last potato off the land, and gets ly prove that I had gained a loss in the that land made productive for absoestate, and had been left a legacy of lutely nothing. law-suits, debts, troubles, and respon- The plan Bodkin adopted was as sibilities, in its enjoyment.
follows:- When any of the cabins and The estate was held by lease of lives potato plots on Bodkin Bog fell vacant, renewable for ever (a tenure peculiar he took proposals, as he called it ; that to Ireland), under the Earl of Clan. is, he gathered the houseless, the starvgallaher, at about double the intrinsic ing, and the unemployed together, and value of the land. Bodkin had it sub- had a sort of auction, encouraging let to under-tenants, at a rack-rent of them to bid over one another's heads, quadruple the value of the land ; and when he decided not in favour of the the under-tenants con-acred it out to highest bidder, but of the strongest man tenants still more desperate than them- _not the wretch whose desperation selves, at whatever could be got from offered the most, but the man out of desperate men ; and in this way I have whose sinews the highest rent could known an acre of land to cost the un- be actually got in the shape of labour, happy wretches who ultimately tilled The rent was paid by the daily labour it not less than twenty pounds. of the tenant, at fivepence a day in
If the devil were to come up out of winter, and eightpence in summer; hell for no other purpose than that of and at these wages, eight or nine reducing a nation to the extremest months of unintermitting toil were reverge of misery, this sub-letting sys: quired to pay the rent of his hovel and tem is precisely the system the devil patch of potato ground, which, when would adopt. It is forestalling not I came to the estate, was as much as the produce of the land, but the land five pounds for half a rood of ground, itself-it is compelling the labourer whichi, on my solemn oath, I can de. who raises that produce, and cultivates pose to as not worth more than fifteen that land, to go through a succession of shillings the acre! I denounce these usurers, from the lord of the fee down rascally middlemen. Of landlords, to the top-booted, whisky-smelling ras- some are goad, others bad, and not a cally middleman, who calculates to a few indifferent; of the middlemen, one potato skin-ay, to a potato skin—the and all are equally bad neither farminimum quantity of food by which mers norgentlemen--neither fish, flesh, human life can be kept in, and that nor good salt herring-clodhopping minimum regulates the rent—the pra- pawnbrokers, agricultural usurers, rasduce of the soil in Ireland is the rent, cals in potatoes, and rogues in grain ! and the rent is the produce of the soil Lord Londonderry, Lord Lansdowne, -the total produce-minus the quan- the Marquis of Downshire, the Duke of tity of potato absolutely necessary to Devonshire, Lord Lortor, Lord Stanenable the farmer to exist-not to live ley-every man who can point to a de-to exist, I say, for the purpose of cent cottage on his land, and lay a head extracting from the soil the produce on his pillow, not disquieted by the thereof. The cultivator of the land in consciousness that people are dying on Ireland—the raiser of its millions of his estate from actual want-every one exported produce and its millions of of these worthy men, of both parties, exported rent_facetiously called a have cashiered the rascally middlemen. farmer-is never expected to pay his The cream of the joke is, however, rent; he is expected only to give his that, while the good landlords are alskill, time, labour, and the total pro- most all non-resident, the rascally duce of his farm-facetiously described middlemen are always on the spot, for as rent. The rascally middlemen can. purposes of extortion. If it comes to not abide a man who pays his rent- the middleman's ears, that Pat Mulfor they well know that if he can pay lins's wife bought a second-hand his rent he can live; they hate a good fannel petticoat, or that Jemmy tenant as the devil hates holy water, Joyce burns rushlights in his cabin, or for they are well assured that an honest that Thady Brady's little boy was seen in a pair of breeches, he is like to go in the generosity of her heart, declared mad with rage and vexation; but if, that it was our duty to God and man by an unlucky chance, he happens to to reduce our rent whether or not; but get wind of the killing of Corney Cal. Pat Connor demonstrated, to his own laghan's pig, and discovers that the blundering satisfaction, that Bodkin spare ribs and offal, instead of being had mortgaged his interest in the tersold (with the carcase), were devoured ritory to such an extent, that the by the family, he denounces eternal profit-stock, after paying interest of, vengeance against the whole clan Cal- borrowed money, and the other liabilaghan, rushes home like a lunatic, lities, would leave little more than a turns Mrs Middleman out of doors, nominal balance, and that we should thrashes young Master Middleman not be able to live, much less reduce (who is intended for the bar), and the rent, unless we stayed upon the kicks his top-boot through Miss Mid- land, and managed our own affairs. dleman's semi-grand piano!
« Well, I do not wish to stay here," “ I never thought it would come to said Sophia, “ when my means to do this,” said Sophia, sorrowfully looking good cannot keep pace with my incliout on the brown bog and plashy lake nation ; and sooner than live upon the that formed our drawing-room prospect produce of such misery, I would prein the tumble-down mansion of the fer to return to London, and support Bodkins of Bodkin Bog—“I never myself by the labour of my own thought it would come to this." hands."
I saw a fine opportunity of making Generous, kind-hearted soul! If an observation on Elizabethan archi- ever I discover the philosopher's stone, tecture, and bundles of asparagus you shall be mistress of an Elizabethan chimneys, but checked myself in time, edifice, as magnificent as Hatfield, with and only observed in reply
bundles of asparagus chimneys, pier“ I never thought I would come to cing the seventh heaven! this."
To make a long story short, we “ To what—mon ami ?" enquired stayed three weeks at Bodkin Bog, by Sophy.
which time Sophia had reduced her“ To be a middleman," replied I; self to her last flannel petticoat, and " to subsist upon the starvation of my I was left without any other clothes fellow.creatures—to suck their blood than those on my back. I gave a
- to find their competence my ruin, power of attorney to Pat Connor to their misery my gain-to watch every act as my agent, on the condition of morsel they put into their children's reducing the tenants' rents five-andmouths, and see so much deducted twenty per cent, paying the interest from my rent."
of the incumbrances, saving me harm“ 'Tis terrible indeed,” observed less, and remunerating himself rea. Sophia ; " who can bear the spectacle sonably for his time and trouble. Pat of so much misery, who has a heart to Connor had no head, but nature had feel, but not the power to relieve!" compensated for the loss by giving
“ To eject, distrain, and auction off him a little heart; he was poor, and -to bully, threaten, and cajole," con- on that account I gave him credit for tinued I.
being honest. • To see their wives ragged and squa- “ You know, Mr Connor,"remarked lid, their children naked and hungry." Sophia, “ that for ourselves we expect
“ Yes—and themselves, with hearts nothing from this miserable place, past hope, and, as a natural conse- except the pleasure of knowing that quence, faces past shame."
those who depend upon us shall not “ We had better return to London," be completely wretched." concluded Sophia, with a deep sigh. “ They're used to it, ma'am, quite
In this dilemma, Pat Connor was used to it, I assure you," was the cool sent for ; and that functionary, Sophy, response of Mr Pat Connor. and myself, held a council of war-or " They may, sir," said my wife I should, with more strictness, call it warmly, “ but we are not--we bave a committee of ways and means. So been accustomed to see men housed phia was sure the Earl of Clangalla like men, fed like men, clothed like her would reduce our head-rent; but men—not housed like wolves, fed like Pat Connor assured Sophia that the dogs, and clothed like scarecrows ! Earl was a pauper, and paupers never I am astonished to hear such an obreduce anybody's rent. Sophia then, servation, Mr Connor."