« PreviousContinue »
• Here was the end of his journey. A beautiful carved mantel-piece of white marble stood over the fire-place, and on crimson velvet cushions there lay two beautiful white cats before the fire. Diamonds and rubies, emeralds and amethysts, lay on the ground before him in thousands, and the ceiling and walls were stuck with them in heaps. There was no living thing in the room, except my grandfather and the cats. The creatures had golden collars, embossed with diamonds, round their necks, and to these were fastened long gold chains, which just gave them liberty to move round the room, being fastened to the walls at each side by golden staples. As he looked at them, they glanced fully upon his face, and he thought they watched his very looks.
• He passed on to the inner room. The gold lay on the floor like wheat in a miller's store; he filled his sack to the brim with the coin, until, although he was the strongest inan in the barony, he was scarcely able to lift it. As he passed through the room where the cats were, he paused for one moment to take a parting glance at the treasures that lay around him. There was one golden bit, studded with diamonds, and blazing like a lamp, that hung from the ceiling. It was too tempting. He forgot the advice not to touch any thing but the gold in the inner room, reached out his hand to seize the sparkling prize, when one of the cats, who was watching his motions, sprang forward, quick as a stroke of lightning, and struck out his right eye with a dash of its paw. At the same moment, some invisible hand bore off the bag of gold from his shoulders, as if it were only a bag of feathers. Out went the lights, my grandfather was obliged to grope his way out as well as he could, cursing his greediness, that would not be content with what he had got. He found his way home the next morning with only one eye.'
"And do you believe all this?
• If I don't,' said the philomath,' half the country does. To be sure as my grandfather was fond of a drop of drink, he might have dreamed all this: but then there was his right eye wanting. Indeed, there are some who
that he fell over the clifi in a drunken fit, and that his eye was scratched out in that way. But, as it would not beseem me to make a liar of my grandfather, I stick for his own account. If the story is not true, it deserves to be.'
In this strange conclusion I quite coincided, and the philomath, proud of this display of his legendary lore, proceeded to acquaint me with the accredited legend of the meadow next the lake. I shall continue my endeavor to adhere to the very words of the narrator.
• SOME thousand years ago but of course after this lake was formed, and the old fairy's prophecy fulfilled, that the giant would come to his death by water — there was a man owned all the fields in the Rock Close. He was a farmer, a plain, honest man. Not long after the place came to be his, he wondered very much why, although there was the same cultivation given to this field as the rest, it never gave any crops. He spoke to his herdsman, a mighty knowing man, who said that it would be worth while to watch the place, for that although
he often saw the blades of grass a foot high at night, all was as closely shaven as a bowling-green in the morning. His master, one of the old stock of the MacCarthy's, thought there was reason in what he said, so he desired him to watch.
• The herdsman did his bidding. The next morning he told MacCarthy that he had hid himself behind an old gateway - you may see it there to the left — and at midnight the waters of the lake were mightily disturbed; that he saw six cows come out of the lake, and commence eating up all the grass, until, by daybreak, there was not a yard of the field that they had not made as smooth as the palm of my hand; that as the day began to dawn, the cows, having finished their meal, returned to the lake, and walked down to the bottom, as quietly as if they were on dry land.
• To be sure, this was strange news for MacCarthy. He was completely at his wits' end. The herdsman offered to watch again that night, and go down to the lake, and make a regular complaint of the trespass. He was a little man, but had the heart of a lion. And on that same night he went again, and placed himself, this time, behind that great stone that lies to your right. The cows came up, as before, and cleared the field; they could not go into any other, because there were high, quickset hedges, which may be they did not like to take a flying leap over.
* Just as the last cow was passing by, on her return to the lake, the herdsman made a dart at her tail, and took a fast hold of it. The cow walked on as if nothing had happened, and the herdsman, still holding the tail, followed
• Down dashed the beast into the waters, but the herdsman still kept his grasp. Down they went, deep, deep into the bottom of the lake. Sure enough, there was the giant's castle. A little boy was in the court-yard playing with a golden ball. All round the yard were piles of armor spears and helmets, swords and shields -all made of pure gold. In dashed the cows, and with them went the herdsman.
Out came a lady, dressed up with jewels and gold, and her eyes as bright as the sun-beams on a May morning, or the diamonds that glinted on her breast. In her hand was a golden milk-pail. Great was the cry she gave when she saw the herdsman. I should have said that as they were going down, the cow whispered him and said, 'For the life of you, don't let go my tail, whatever you see.' Out rushed a whole regiment of soldiers, with their cheeks red as fire, and their looks as fierce, as if they were in the heat of battle. Oh that villain !! said the lady, pointing to the poor herdsman. • Come here!' shouted the dragoons. But the herdsman knew better. * Send your master to me,' said he, impudent enough.
Well, they wondered, as well they might, at the fellow's impudence; but they called out the master. He came, with a crown of gold on his head, and purple velvet robes, and a pair of bright copper shoes. 'I demand justice,' said the herdsman, .for the trespass that your cows have committed on the land of the MacCarthy's; and I seize this cow, until the damage be paid.'
There was no use in talking: the cow was seized, and they tried to tempt the herdsman to surrender her. But he knew better. * At last, the master of them said, “Take that ball of gold that the child has, and leave us the cow.'
Hand it over to me,' said the herdsman. • Come for it,' said they. But the herdsman was too cunning for them all. “I've a touch of the rheumatism in my knee,' said he, and can't walk. With that they handed him the ball, and as soon as he saw that it was gold, he put it into his waiscoat pocket, and said it was not half enough.
So, they were getting out a grey-hound — one of the blood-hounds that the Spaniards took to hunt down the Indians in America — and when he saw this, he whispered the cow: • My little cow,' said he, go home.' The cow took his advice, and stole backwards through half the lake before they missed her. If you take me above ground,' said she, 'you must never swear in my presence; for the spell is on me, and I shall be obliged to return to the lake.'
• Well, to make a long story short, they let the hound slip, and it cut through the waters like a dolphin, and just as the cow came to land, the dog caught hold of the herdsman's coat, and tore off the skirt.
• The herdsman told his master, and gave him the golden ball, which Mr. Jeffereys has to this day.* The hound runs round the lake at day. break, every first of September, and is to run, year after year, until his silver shoes are worn out. The field was not touched by the cows again, for their master, below, thought it was not quite so pleasant to run the chance of having them taken up for trespass. Never was there a field in Munster that gave such crops; sow it or not, there was always a barn-full of grain from it.
• The cow, of course, had young ones: it is her breed that we now call Kerry cows, those cattle that fetch such prices, small in size, but good in substance; and MacCarthy might have made a fortune by her, she gave such a power of milk, but that one day, as one of his horses was leaping over a high hedge into the field where the cow was, MacCarthy burst out with a rattling oath, and she made one spring into the lake, and was never heard of more. From that time out, the cows again came to the field, and I suppose will continue to come, until somebody has the heart to go down and claim for trespass once more. * I forgot, that Mr. Jeffereys tried to drain the lake some time ago,
but it filled faster than the men could empty it. They might as well think to drain the Atlantic with a slop-pail.'
Very well, indeed, Mr. Cronin. Now answer me one question: Do you
believe those stories ? • Faith, and that question is a poser. Then I do not believe them entirely; but when I meet with curious gentlemen, I am proud to tell them, because they usually invite me to spend the evening with them at the Red Cow, on the brow of the hill above there.'
Which of course I now do.'
Tom proved an entertaining companion, and appeared to have a ten Kerry-man power of drinking whiskey-punch, over which he became quite eloquent, chiefly in praise of his own endowments. I parted from him at the 'sma' hours' in the morning, and have since heard that he died about two years ago.f
* There is really such a ball, concerning which strange stories are told.
+ The writer may as well state, that the above legends have been written with a view of showing how easily, without spelling a word wrong, the English of an Irish peasant may be conveyed to the reader. It bas frequently struck him that this peculiar mode of speaking might be represented by the idiom and characteristic expression, even more successfully than by an attempt -- so often a failure - to make the brogue represent the originality and humour of the peasantry of his birth-land.
TO A PORTRAIT OF A ROMAN GIRL:
Those decp, deep, fervent eyes, whose gaze intense
that youthful brow,
Scarce open, and the long distracted air
Those rich brown tresses, that the winds of Heaven
And burns within that full and glowing breast,
Where never more sweet peace, nor tranquil rest
No legend speaks the story of thy days;
Yet there is that in wronght upon thy brow,
Which far more eloquent than words avow,
Heart crush'd — hope lost — life wasted -- all things gone,
But the deep sense of wretchedness alone,
Oh, fitting emblem of Rome's crumbled wall,
In ruins still most beautiful! And all
There is perhaps no region of the world where there is such an amiable docility in imitating every thing that is either praised, or imported from abroad, as in the United States. We certainly approach as nearly as animal can come to vegetable life, to the species called squashes, which are said to become pumpkins, by being planted in the same bed, and moreover to impair in no small degree the flavor of melons, by virtue of propinquity. We seem to have exhausted our independence in resisting ihe Stamp Aci, for we receive every other staip with the most exemplary submission.'
To a calm and unprejudiced observer, the society of our cities
presents rather a singular appearance. From the highest to the lowest grade, it is in a state of effervescence. The struggle for place and precedence — the fancied superiority of one class over another — their mutual jealousies, their groundless distinctions, and the insane grasping for that wealth which will enable them to eclipse or rival their neighbors — these are the passions that agitate the heart of society, and whose effects are felt through all its members. In our political relations, we have one unerring standard by which to judge of our own station as well as that of others, that all men are born free and equal.' To maintain this truth, our fathers ‘resisted unto blood;' and to see how
* The expression of the face in this picture is such, that the artist has bestowed upon it the name of ‘Misery.'
gloriously they have established it, we need only to look abroad over our bright and prosperous country — the land of liberty and equal rights. In our government, all is order, beauty, and harmony; but in our social system, we are still whirling in the vortex of revolution. It is true, we are no longer the oppressed subjects of a foreign king and parliament; our bodies indeed are free, but we have voluntarily surrendered our minds to the bondage of European usages, and European opinions. Our houses, our equipages, our dress, our conventional rules, our attempted divisions of rank, are all copied after what is seen and practised abroad. We are not satisfied to appear in the true glory of the American character — its republican simplicity and independence – but we hanker after the leeks and onions of Egypt. As a people, we have vanity - inordinate vanity. Like Goldsmith's personage, who, not content with his fame as an author, tried to rival the tricks of a mountebank, of whose applauses he was jealous, so we are not contented with our birth-right, as noble and independent freemen, but we must servilely strive to be thought equal to Europeans, in luxury and false refinement. It is this that exposes us to the ridicule of foreign tourists, and renders us so morbidly sensitive under their gross caricaturing. Were we to respect ourselves as we ought, their satire would fall as harmless, and their criticism appear as futile, as that of one who would find fault with a noble structure, because its surface was not polished, like the slab of a pier table. It is true there are follies among us, egregious follies, that are sufficient to excite the lash of the satirist, the smile of the philosopher, and the anxiety of the patriot. Fearful of wounding the self-love of our countrymen, we pass them by unnoticed; and we are only brought to a consciousness of their existence, when we see them exaggerated and caricatured by some hireling scribe, who is remunerated in proportion to his success in hiding our glorious privileges as freemen from the European populace, by blazoning forth the weaknesses and faults that still enslave the fashionable society of our cities.
Our government, in all its fair proportions, its chaste simplicity, its noble architecture, stands on an eminence, in the sight of all the world. And the people of all nations are beginning to turn their eyes bitherward, and to desire it for a habitation. It is founded upon the rock of human rights, it is safe from the attacks of outward assailants, and if it fall, it will be owing to the folly or turpitude of those who dwell within the walls. Let us examine ourselves, let us look into our society, and see if there be not imported customs and manners among us, that tend to undermine the very foundation stone of our liberties. What will be the effect of this jealous exclusiveness between fellow-countrymen this fearful increase of luxury and display - this idolatrous worship of foreign customs - this burning thirst for gain — that is consuming the honor and the integrity of our citizens? Alas, alas! we truly have departed from that republican simplicity which should characterize our social as well as our political institutions. In this simplicity consists our glory and our strength: and, thanks be to God! we have yet a host who have not bowed the knee to Baal men who are worthy of the name
— whose characters and whose principles show the elevated stand that man may attain when • liberty and equality is his watch-word and bis birth-right.