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"' The Lady Grey,' returned Parese for once, in his life speaking the truth, 'was very constant in her attendance on the Earl of Desmond, both by day and night; but I saw her not beside Lord Thomas.'
"' Thou sawest h«r not, I make little doubt,' cried Lord Grey; 'but dost thou presume to assert, that she was never by his couch—no, not even when his lite was in the greatest danger.'
"' No, my Lord,' replied Parese, 'I do not think she was.'
"' Liar!' exclaimed Lord Grey, furiously; 'what avails this paltry equivocation ?—thinkest thou to save the fair fame of those whom thou hast already betrayed —whose lives thou hast given over to their direst foe-man? Judas, thou hast sold thy Master, and now hesitate to betray his love secrets—thou needest not be so cautious—thou canst injure him no more—nor her—no! nor even thyself, villain as thou art;' he added, advancing close to the trembling wretch, whose terrors increasing every moment, now sunk on his knees before the exasperated Deputy, whose rage appeared to him to be little less than madness.
"The Terrified Parese would willingly have invented any story likely to pacify this sudden, and to him unaccountable irritation.'"
Tbe wretched traitor, being first paid the price of his villany, is directed to a window, and thus addressed:
"Wail not—shriek not—stand up, miscreant, and thank the mercy of him, who, valuing thee no more than a cur dog, only condemns thee to die like one—look,' he continued, seizing the almost fainting and prostrate wretch by the arm, and draggin; him towards a window, which gave on the Castle yard—' look there!—if thou art to die the death of a dog, yet shalt thou be more exalted than ever yet was mongrel hound—look at that lofty gallows, erected solely for thy use—by thy friends and admirers I trow, I gave no such magnificent order—perhaps they thought that as thy crime deprived the world of an exalted individual, so should thy punishment be in proportion—halloo!—halloo! come forth, ministers of justice—come forth, servants of the law—take this scarcely living wretch, and deprive him of the little breath which his dastard fears have left him.'
'" Spare me, Lord Grey,' shrieked the unhappy man; 'spare me, if you have human feelings—spare my sinful soul—1 have committed too many crimes to die— let me have a Priest, oh Christ! let me have a Priest!' he continued, with fearful cries, whilst those legal ruffians, the Sheriff's Officers, dragged Mm down the staircase. 'Oh give me time, Lord Grey, give me time to repent—do not destroy my wretched soul.'
"' So much time as thou gavest to the aged Archbishop,' thundered Lord Grey, 'so much time shalt thou have for shrift and repentance—no more—away with him.'
"And was there none to compassionate the miserable victim of this awful act of justice ?—no, not one."
By another train of the writer's exhaustless inventions, the besieged, having displayed the utmost gallantry and heroism, and suffered the extremities of famine and hardship, find a wild way of escape, after a series of Radcliffean adventures, and are about to retire to Kilkenny Castle, which is still in the hands of their friends, when they are tracked, and betrayed in their night march, by the spy O'Kelly, and fall into an ambush of the English. In the skirmish, Desmond is desperately wounded, and believed to be dead. Elinor is deceived and carried back to Dublin by O'Kelly, and the clansman raise the Ullaloo for the fall of the young chieftain of the Geraldines. It would be idle to attempt to give any account of these lively and bustling scenes through which we are now hurried. Lord Thomas Fitzgerald, on recovering the use of his senses, finds himself a prisoner in Dublin Castle, under the roof of his cousin Elinor, the wife of his and his country's deadliest enemy. He is visited by Cromar, now the primate, and informed that his father still lives, and of the snares laid, and the arts employed for his own ruin and for driving him into rebellion. The only enlightened and reasonable friend of Ireland at this crisis is the virtuous and enlightened Cromar. He argues as her best friends still do.
"He argued, that if the Irish were treated in the kindest possible manner by the English Government, that would be the best security for their loyalty and firm allegiance, since they would then have uo interest in, and no benefit to receive from a change.
u ' It is not,' he thought, and often endeavoured to persuade Lord Grey and others 'by stripes and coercion that this high-spirited people can be rendered submissive, and tame; on the contrary, although they rise to resist the oppression which they, and every liberal-minded person must consider as injustice, the same disposition, prompt to avenge injury or insult, would render them grateful, not merely for benefits conferred, but for the simple allowance of those equal rights, which one human being always does, and always ought to expect from another.'
"' But,' said their opponents, they have always been turbulent and disturbed; it is their nature; they would never be satisfied, do whatever you would for their advantage.'
il Cromar quietly answered, 'Was it ever tried? Had they ever fair measure dealt to tliem ?—they are a vivacious, and, therefore, a turbulent people—but have they not ever had a good excuse for such turbulence? even if it does afford them pleasure—have they not ever been a proscribed race, by those very Conquerors who, in taking forcible possession of the soil, ought certainly, in good policy, for their own sakes, if not for the love of justice, have endeavoured, by means of equal laws and privileges extended to all, to have incorporated the Victors and Vanquished together as one people—if the sway was equally kind and paternal, if there was no cause for complaint, is it not probable that the wild Irish Kearoe would care little whether the King, or Chief Governor who ruled him, was native of this side of the Channel or of that—but when he finds himself a proscribed and marked man, considered by those who have obtruded their sway, unasked and unpermitted, as of another and more degraded caste; not merely brow-beaten by his conquerors, but his individual property, the maintenance and patrimony of his children, forcibly wrung from him, for the advantage of those, from whom he receives not benefits, but injuries in return?'
"' Who can reasonably expect loyalty and submission to the Government from men so treated ?—they might not be better off, you say, under Chiefs of their own appointing—possibly they might not—but that, they naturally think, remains to be tried—they could scarcely be worse off under any rulers; and the best way of reconciling them to the English yoke, would be to leave them nothing of which to complain.'
"Thus argued the mild and benevolent Cromar; but his arguments were as vain, as have been those of many an equally well-intentioned man in later times. The same system was pursued then, and has been pursued since—with the result hitherto, the world is sufficiently well acquainted—but as the conciliating plan of the good Primate has never yet been tried, the knowledge of what success it might possibly have, remains in the womb of Fate."
The Primate is unable to bring Lord Thomas to the state of mind he wishes, but he cannot abandon him who, from childhood, had held so strongly on his warmest affections; and all his efforts are turned to procure delay, if not mitigation, of his punishment. In the meanwhile, under the impression that he must speedily die, the young chief employs the night in writing to his ever-beloved cousin Elinor, whose interest in his fate advances at the same pace with the insatiable desire for his blood which now stimulates her husband to many acts of cruelty and tyranny. Her horror, and her alienationfrom Lord Leonard, reach their heightwhen she is compelled to preside as vice-queen at a banquet in Dublin Castle, to which her four uncles of the house of Geraldine are invited, and, on a signal, murdered in her presence in cold blood. This bloody banquet is a scene of great power. The interest of the tale, in both its leading threads, is now wrought up to the highest pitch. But to the fate of the Earl of Desmond, who falls the victim of the ruffian O'Kelly, we cannot advert, though it possesses what many will feel an interest of a more I
subdued and touching kind than the tumultuary closing scenes in Dublin, and a tender beauty of description unequalled in any other portion of the work. A variety of events hasten the period of the execution of the chief of the Geraldines; the Lord Deputy secretly afraid that the royal mercy might snatch from him the victim for whose blood he thirsted. The Ormonds, the hereditary enemies of the Geraldines, had employed their interest in obtaining a remission of the sentence of Lord Thomas. An English vessel had come late into the bay, which was supposed to have on board dispatches which might either contain a reprieve or a pardon. A signal had been made for a pilot. On this ship the hopes of the excellent Primate were now placed. He had previously used every means of saving his young friend, to whom, with the feelings of a father, he gave the name of son, and after the bloody banquet, losing all respect for the tyrant Lord Deputy, he had endeavoured to favour his escape. It is but a feeble idea that we can give of the deep agitation and thrilling suspense which ushers in the scene we now present to our readers:—
>' Those who saw Elinor on that fatal morning, could scarcely recognize in hrr that brilliant beauty, who had, so short a space before, graced the Vice-Regal Court.
"Pale as marble, with dishevelled hair, and disordered dress, she was dragged, rather than led, to a magnificent and elevated seat, from whence it was intended thai she should witness the closing scene of her ill-fated lover's misfortunes.
"The rising sun glanced brightly from helm and hauberk, and played over polished lance head, and gilded banner—as reining in his proud war-steed to a measured pace, Sir William Brcreton led forth the whole of the troops, both horse and foot, then composing the garrison of Dublin; and drew them in a belt around the field, which had been marked ont as the theatre of Lord Grey's vengeance.
"This military force, considerable in itself, was paraded with all of display and pomp, which the fine appearance of the men, the splendour of their apparel, and the gay caparison of their horses, rendered likely to impress an exaggerated idea of their strength on any part of the populace there assembled, who might be native Irish.
"However of those, although considerable crowds had collected, long before daylight, it was quite uncertain whether any were aboriginal natives—since the most part, both of the commercial, as well as of the lower orders, dwelling in the metropolis, were Danish settlers (Ostmen,) and their descendants; and these people had shewn themselves adverse to the cau»c itf the Geraldines a few months be/ore, when they had shut the City Gates on the party of Irish, admitted by treaty to besiege the Castle.
"Hut of whatever race or description might be the thousands congregating from all quarters, both from within and from without the City, they appeared most formidable in the eyes of Sir William Brcreton—who was, by this time, pretty well experienced in the uncertainty of Irish warfare, which had so frequently ba'ffled all regular military calculation; and whilst the wary General, in order to intimidate, ordered some light pieces of artillery to be wheeled on the ground, he secretly marvelled, if the Deputy really intended to hurry on the execution, ere the vessel bearing the King's orders had arrived : since it was now well known to all, that she was actually lying without the bar, with signals flying, and ready to enter the harbour with the rising tide.
"The field in which this strange pageant was in preparation sloped towards the cast, and commanded a splendid view of the beautiful and unequalled Bay of Dublin; where, softly undulating on the bosom of the smooth and now sparkling waters, lay the vessel in question, the English flag gaily streaming from the mast head; and as Sir William Brereton gazed attentively, he could distinctly see, notwithstanding the distance, and the level rays of the rising sun dazzling his eyes, a small boat shoot from her side, and cut its way towards '.he shore with astonishing rapidity.
"Had telescopes been its much in use in those days as they have subsequently become, he might, by such aid, have discerned in that boat the aged Primate, urging the six rowers to still greater exertions, and clasping to his bosom the royal despatches, which his trembling hands had scarcely strength to hold.
"If the rigid, although humane General, had beeu able to distinguish this, he might have been less apprehensive, lest any proceeding, so irregular, so illegal, and
so disgraceful to the British name, should take place, as a condemnation and execution, unsanctioned by the royal authority. Even, as it was, he felt in some degree satisfied, on seeing the boat from the vessel proceeding so rapidly towards the shore; since he had no doubt but that it had been despatched by the Viceroy, and that he would act according to the orders thereby obtained. ,
"Under this impression, therefore, Sir William Brereton proceeded to marshal forth his men at arms, drawing them in close files several ranks deep—compromising, within their circle, the canopied throne of the unhappy Elinor; and scarcely more melancholy in its object, although so different in outward form, the scaffold, arrayed in funeral pomp. Over the head of the former waved the English flag, in its 'pride of place;' and at the foot of the latter, lay the prostrate banner of the Geraldines.
u Beyond this military screen the plain was crowded, even to the remotest distance which the eye could reach, with the silent and expectant populace.
"The arguments were complete;—a pause ensued, during which the attendants, who supported Elinor, could almost hear the pulsations of her heart, which beat thick and fast, seemingly beyond the power of her delicate frame to endure.
"This awful silence was at length broken by a sudden flourish of wind instruments—a spirited and martial musie, which immediately preceded the arrival of the Lord Deputy, who, surrounded by the officers of his household, now rode into the centre of the enclosed space—his countenance was deadly pale, and his lips compressed, as if suffering under some violent internal struggle; but as he rode along the lines, he received and returned the military salute with his usual grace and urbanity of manner.
"That ceremony concluded, without casting a glance towards his unhappy wife, he drew up his horse opposite to the scaffold; and his personal attendants closing around him, all waited with a strange feeling of doubt and awe, what was next to ensue.
"The martial music which had preceded and accompanied Lord Grey, was hushed —and another strain was now heard from a distance.
"A long procession of bare-footed friars, clothed in black, walking two and two, advanced slowly from the City Gate, bearing a large crucifix in front, and moving onwards towards the plain.
"They chanted in chorus the ' De Profundis,' and in the stillness of the early morning, not a breeze arose to disturb or disperse the tones of their deep and sonorous roices; nor did any other sound break on the solemn anthem, save only as they neared the military screen, the voice of Sir William Brereton, in one short emphatic word, gave the order, which was immediately followed by the clash of arms, as the soldiers fell back to form a vista for the admission of the mournful procession.
"That momentary interruption past, the funeral chant was alone heard as the friars proceeded onwards to the scaffold.
"Immediately following these holy men, came a band of battle-axe guards on foot, aud, in the centre of this group, a single horseman.
"His countenance was pale, but fearless; he gazed boldly and proudly, and with an expression somewhat resembling scorn, on all this needless pomp—the splendour of ail this public display, which, although it might he supposed to be in honour of his rank, he rather felt had probably been adopted, in the vain hope of forcing that heart to quail, for which death, however accompanied, had now no terrors.
"His bearing was high and haughty—his eye was undinimed as he gazed around, taking one last look of his native land, adorned with all the loveliness of the early spring; fresh, green, and breathing incense. Once, and once only, he changed colour, when his eye caught the canopied throne, and its apparently dying occupant. His cheek, at that moment, flushed a deep crimson, which hue it retained unaltered, as, with a firm step, he ascended the steps leading to the scaffold; gracefully, and with dignity, saluting those spectators who were without the screen, and passing unheeded over those who were within; nor suffering his eye to rest again on her, who had been there placed in order to inflict on him a last pang, beyond that of the parting of soul and body.
"At the mute salutation of the young chieftain, the hitherto repressed feelings of the multitude burst forth simultaneously in a shout, which 'made the welkin ring,' and which was returned in a thousand echoes, from mountain and valley, from wood and shore; and which, as it died slowly away, left a feeling of pride, almost of pleasure, on the heart of him thus greeted; and sent something like doubt and dismay to that of the Lord Deputy.
"To Sir William Brereton, also, it gave a sensation by no means agreeable; and,
so. x.—vol.. 11. 2 K
spurring his horse up beside Lord Grey, he entered into a long and whispered conference, during which many were the glances, although very different in expression, directed by both towards Lord Thomas Fitzgerald; who, now endeavouring to shake off his last earthly feeling, gave his whole and undivided attention to the reverend priest, who stood beside him ready to administer the last consolations of religion— nor did he deem it too worldly or intrusive a thought, to breathe one sigh of re-jrret, for the, to him, unaccountable absence at that solemn moment, of his first, his earliest, and truest friend, the Primate.''
The remonstrance of Sir William Brereton had no effect with the Lord Deputy. The former reins up his horse beside Sir Edmund Butler, who, in a low voice, informs the Englishman how matters stand.
"The speech of Sir Edmund was interrupted by a tremendous shout from the assembled multitude—not now, however, as before, in the tumultuous but sorroo-fid greeting to the victim, for whose release they believed no human effort could avail; now, it was with triumphant cries and deafening clamour, that they hailed the approach of the Primate, who, raised on the shoulders of his attendants, was borne forward with rapid steps—whilst their delighted cries, of a 'Reprieve, a pardon,' were repeated from man to man, until it rung from the united voices like thunder in the ears of the Deputy.
"With a faint cry, Elinor, repeating the word, sprang from the arms of her ladies in waiting, and rushed wildly towards Cromar. The soldiers involuntarily drew back, and opened a way for the unhappy lady to pass; one glance at this sudden and strange movement, told to Lord Grey her object and her aim, of which she was in fact herself unconscious. Drawing forth a white handkerchief, he waved it in the air, at the same moment in which the frantic Elinor reached the Primate, from whose trembling hands she caught the important paper, and, holding it aloft, flew, with fawn-like speed, amidst the joyous snouts of the multitude, crying, 'A pardon, a pardon.' She was too late. As she arrived at the fatal spot, the executioner, who had instantly acted upon the concerted signal given by the Lord Deputy, held up, by the dark and glossy ringlets, the bleeding and still beautiful head; proclaiming aloud, 'This is the head of a traitor.'
• • . • • • • •
"Then there was seen, in the remote distance, a man on horseback approaching, with such desperate speed, as if he likewise had come on the same vain errand. The now silent crowd opened gradually, and suffered him to pass through; as he neared the English soldiers they also fell back, but in wild terror and confusion, on the Right of the never-to-be-forgotten horse on which he was mounted; it was the same that very same coal black, fiend-like steed, which they had left to perish in the morass into which he had plunged both himself and Lord Grey. He was not to be mistaken; his vast size, the fiery eye, the open scarlet nostril, from which his breath ascended in clouds of vapours—and, above all, his more than mortal speed—it was, it could be no other, than the terrible Brien.*
"The rider was a slight, delicate-looking, fair-haired boy; from his appearance totally inadequate to control this fierce animal, which, indeed, he scarcely seemed to hold; riding, with more of reckless indifference to the horse's movements, than with skill. His course was direct for the scaffold, and none stayed to impede his progress; all fled in terror at the apparition of the sorcerer steed; even the executioner dropt the bleeding head, which he had, a moment before, displayed with savage triumph, and hastily retreated like the rest.
"Arrived at the foot of the scaffold, the youthful horseman, checking his rapid course, gazed for an instant on the terrible spectacle before him; lifting up the fair head, he pressed his lips sadly to the palid brow, then, suddenly stooping, flung his arms around the body, laying it across the horse's neck. Without taking up the reins, his whole attention seeming absorbed in the mournful prize, of which he had thus so strangely possessed himself, he struck his spurs into the flanks of bis wild steed, and departed with the same furious speed with which he had arrived; vanishing from the eyes of the astonished spectators, ere any had summoned courage to advance and interrupt him."
• BrlerTBoni, the heroic steed of the murdered chieftain, which shares his perils and glory in war and in deeds of humanity, in the course of the tale.