Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ 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 I, 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.-Thurg. 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, humid 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 pleq. finest peasantry in the wniverse.", : VOL. XLY. NO, CCLXXXIY.

3 C

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 abso. estate, 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 starygallaher, 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 which, 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 produceminus the quan- the Marquis of Downshire, the Duke of tity of potato absolutely necessary to Devonshire, Lord Lortoni, 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 flannel 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 liabi. laghan, 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 incli. out 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, Sopby, 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-ue 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.".

Pat Connor was a married man he received us very graciously, made himself_so he quaked in his shoes! - us stay dinner, and commanded us

“ We leave these poor people," peremptorily to remain the next day. said Sophia, with tears in her eyes, In the countries beyond the Shannon, « to your generosity-to your jus remaining the next day is an equiva. tice."

lent term for remaining as long as you Pat Connor laughed in his sleeve like, or rather as long as you must. justice and generosity expected from Accordingly we staid a fortnight with an attorney of Ballinasloe, was so de- the old earl, and enjoyed a brace of vilish good, as well as new!

the pleasantest weeks I ever killed in « Would to God," exclaimed So my life. The Earl of Clangallaher pbia, with vehemence, “ that they was, as I have said, a pauper; he was, who have the power I want, had the moreover, a finished old Irish gentlewill I possess—and that Irishmen, in man--the finest specimen of that noble stead of treating lightly the distresses animal and may I never eat another of their countrymen, would respect Carlingford oyster if I wouldn't rather their miseries, and lend their lives to dine off a dish of flummery with a man relieve them!"

of his stamp, than wash down turtle Pat Connor scrutinized the floor, with turtle punch, at the board of a blushed, and looked rather ashamed of city alderman or East India director. himself.

Before leaving, the earl called me « Pardon me, Mr Connor, if I have aside, and after some expressions comsaid too much, or rather, if my feelings plimentary to my wife and myself, have been expressed as warmly as I regretted that, in the circumstances in feel," continued Sophia. “I know that which his estates were, it was utterly you can do little for our poor people impossible for him to do any thing the distresses that press upon us press towards the augmentation of our pecu. with accumulated weight upon them niary interest in Bodkin Bog ; but ob-the embarrassment of the landlord served that, if a situation in Dublin is the misery of the tenant; but there would lie in my way, he had written is one thing you can still afford—your a pressing letter to his relative Vis sympathy in their distresses; there is count Cremona, who, in addition to a shelter you can always provide other government offices, was one of your protection from oppression !" the Commissioners of National Navi

Pat Connor started up, declared gation, and had vast power and pathat if he should lose his commission tronage at his disposal. “ Accordaltogether he would not be severe on ingly," the earl continued, “ I wished the Bodkin Bog tenantry—that there to know whether you would do me the was no resisting a lady of such noble favour to present this letter to Lord sentiments—and that, if he could not Cremona-I say do me the favour, leave Bodkin Bog better, declared, because I am satisfied his lordship will upon the honour of an attorney, which feel obliged to me for having recommay be considered equivalent to ano. mended to his notice a person so well ther gentleman's oath, that he would entitled in every way to notice as leave it no worse!

yourself.” Before we finally left that part of The unexpectedness of this favour the country, we waited upon our land on the part of his lordship-his bland lord, the Earl of Clangallaher, inform and considerate manner, and the ining his lordship of the disappointment genuous turn he gave to his intention in our territorial expectations, of the of providing for me for life, which arrangements we had made to return none but a nobleman of two centuries' again to London, and our desire to be standing can give-laying an obliga. the bearers of his lordship's com- tion so gracefully on your shoulders mands. With Lord Clangallaher I that you cannot feel its weight, or had some slight previous acquaint rather transferring the weight altoance, reporting his speeches in Par- gether from your shoulders to his own, liament in a superior style, and occa- so overwhelmed me, that if I had presionally troubling him for a frank; he viously known what afterwards turned had got wind, too, of Sophia's charac. out, that the patronage of his lordship ter in the country, which was exag. would have been the most unfortunate gerated upon the Irish principle of a accident of my life, I would neverthethousand pounds' worth of praise for less have done as I did-accepted the three penny worth of civility, so that favour with a warmth and readiness that showed I knew the kindness that state-porter at the lord lieutenant's prompted it, and was grateful for it. door, in the whole hive of officials—if

Ireland is the land of job. From hive that can be called which is devoid the highest to the lowest, every per- of industry and produces nothing son in the remotest degree connected there is not an insect in the slightest with the public service is a jobber by degree identified with the people of trade. The lords lieutenant job with Ireland—with their benefit in any way, the supporters of their government, past, present, and to come. They or rather of the government whereof swarm round the viceroy, spectators of they are the Polichinellos--the lords a pitiable puppet-show, take their s chancellor job with the swarm of laries quarterly, and their very names seedy, needy, greedy, clamorous gen. are unknown save in the almanac that tlemen of the bar, except in the case chronicles their places. of Chancellor Hannibal, who jobs only T o assist the bumpkin statesmen in with the fruit of his own loins—the the proper distribution of this patronsecretary of state, his under secretary, age, each secretary of state is earand the under-secretary's private se. wigged by a knot of sturdy beggars cretary-as also the under-secretary's from the moment he arrives on the private secretary's under-secretary,job “sod," who cling to him like horsewith every living soul that will job with leeches, sucking through him the pubthem. As my friend Isaacs, the slop- lic money, and only dropping off to seller of Houndsditch, observes of his fasten upon the next bumpkin statescongenial avocation, “ I vill buy you, man in succession. You will see these by Gosh, and by Gosh I vill sell you fellows in the lord lieutenant's antiall de same." The only difference room besieging his excellency; in the between old Isaacs and the slop-sellers. secretary of state's anti-room blockof Dublin Castle is, that whereas the ading the secretary of state; in the latter traffic upon the public capital, under-secretary's cooling-room, dan. the Jew, more honest, carries on busi. cing attendance on the under-secreness upon capital of his own.

tary, lying in ambuscade under the There is no appointment in the gift Castle stairs, and uncovering to every of these official jobbers which you may funky who wears the vice-regal livery. not hope to attain, provided you have No matter whether the thing to be no real or substantial qualification. given away be a peerage or a policeThere is nothing for which you may man's place, it is all the same, the not confidently apply, providing you vermin are instantly in motion, and can prove to their satisfaction that you the scratching incontinently begins. have not the shadow of a claim. There Such more than oriental prostration, is no degree of social familiarity to such lick-spittling, such a congregawhich you may not aspire, provided tion of rascally running dustmen you you have the required number of extra never saw in your life! If you were joints in your back-bone.

to enquire what public services these Under one vice-regal reign a civet. virtual dispensers of the patronage of scented coxcomb, a clerical scamp, or Ireland had ever performed, to entitle a captain with a turn for intrigue, will them to select the office-holders of be provided for in preference to all the nation if you demanded wbether others. One bumpkin of a secretary their energies had ever been directed of state provides for a fellow who to noble aims or praiseworthy purplayed skittles at Oxford, and an- suits—if they, or any of them, were other puts his bastard son into a splen. known in the remotest degree in litedid snuggery for life; but in all cases, rature or science, arms or arts, you and under all circumstances, it is ex- must receive a reply in the negapected that to gain an appointment in tive-place-hunting is their trade, and Ireland you must be a native of Eng- prowling about the Castle of Dublin, land. The better to succeed in offi. the business of their lives ; nor are cial duties among the people, you are you ever informed of their existence required to know nothing of them, save in some scurvy rag of a news. and only to entertain for them the paper that mentions their names for highest contempt; and the more effec. hire, or at the tail of some humbugging tually to serve the country, you are to report to some humbugging commistake all you can get, and cut out of it sion. For the use and benefit of these as fast as you possibly can. From the men are commissions organized in lord lieutenant down to the bloated perpetual succession, with the usual

« PreviousContinue »