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"My dear Bircham-hem!-you know among military men-hem!-honourable confidence may be reposed-hem! My young friend here danced with her-represented as an heiress to him
I groaned audibly-it was Jemima to a T: | sanity. Fearing from his mental malady, that --Captain Rattigan looked queer. he may have misconducted himself to your amiable niece last night at the coterie, I beg on the part of my poor friend (who is tolerably collected this morning), to say that he is heartily sorry for what has occurred, and requests the lady will consider anything he might have said only as the wanderings of a confirmed lunatic!
"I am, Madam, &c., your obedient Servant, TERENCE RATTIGAN, Capt. S-M- Militia.
"By a cursed hag who cheats at cribbage, and carries off negus by the quart."
"True bill, by -!" ejaculated the Captain. "Complained eternally of thirst and the heat of the room, and did me regularly out of thirty shillings."
"Ha! ha! ha!-Rat, Rat, and wert thou so soft, my old one?"
"But, Birchy," said the Captain, "the devil of it is, my young friend-little too much wine thought himself in honourable hands, and promised her "
"A new silk gown-ah, my young friend,
little didst thou know the Jezebel.
was a promise obtained under false pretences --she told you a cock-and-bull story about Lady Morgan-sported Scott-dealt out Tom Moore by the yard-all false pretences. See her damned before I would buy her a yard of riband. What a pirate the woman is!"
Rat jumped off his chair, drew his breath in, and gulped out "A gown! Zounds, man, he promised to marry her!"
Up jumped Bircham. "To marry her! Are you mad, or are you hoaxing?" "Serious, by St. Patrick," said Rat. "Why then it's no longer a joke. You are in a nice scrape. I beg to tell you that Jemmy O'Brien is as notorious as Captain Rock. She has laid several fools under contribution, and has just returned from Dublin, after taking an action against a little drunken one-eyed Welsh major, whom her aunt got, when intoxicated, to sign some paper or promise of marriage. The major, like a true gentleman, retrieved his error by suspending himself in his lodgings the day before the trial; and it is likely that Jem and her aunt will be in jail for the law expenses.'
Rat and I were overwhelmed, and looked for some minutes in silence at each other. At last I told Bircham the whole affair The dragoon was convulsed with laughter-"So," said he, "at twelve o'clock the gentle Jemmy is to be spirited away. But come, there's no time to lose-sit down, Rat, get a pen in thy fist, and I'll dictate and thou inscribe."
"MADAM,-Having unfortunately, at the request of his afflicted family, undertaken the case of Lieutenant Kennedy of the South Mayo regiment, I beg to apprise you that the unhappy gentleman is subject to occasional fits of in
"To Mrs. Cogan, &c."
How very flattering this apology was to me I submit to the indulgent auditor. I was indubitably proven to have been an ass overnight, and I must pass as a lunatic in the We had barely time to speculate on morning. the success of Bircham's curious epistle, when my aunt Cogan's answer arrived with due promptitude. The cornet separated the wet wafer with a "Faugh!" and holding the billet at arm's-length, as if it exhibited a plaguespot, he favoured us with the contents, whic were literally as follows:"CAPTIN RATIGIN,
"SIR, I have red your paltrey appollony for your nephew's breech of promis. I beg to tell you, that a lady of the family of Clinch will not submit to be ensulted with imponnitey. My neece is packed and reddy; and if your friend does not apear acording to apointment, he will shortly here as will not plase him, from yours to command,
"HONOR COGAN, otherwise CLINCH. "Hawthorn Cotage, Friday morning."
Twelve o'clock passed-and we waited the result of Mrs. Cogan's threats, when the waiter showed up a visitor, and Mr. Christopher Clinch, the prime cause of all our misfortunes, presented himself. He persisted in standing. or more properly stooping-for the ceiling was not quite six feet from the floor-coughed— hoped his interference might adjust the mis take, as he presumed it must be on the part of Lieutenant Kennedy, and begged to inform him that Miss Jemima O'Brien was ready to accompany the said Mr. Kennedy, as last night arranged. Captain Rattigan took the liberty to remark, that he, the captain, had been very explicit with Mrs. Cogan, and requested to refer to his letter, in which Mr. Kennedy' sentiments were fully conveyed, and, on his part, to decline the very flattering proposal of Miss Jemima O'Brien. Mr. Clinch stated that an immediate change of sentiment on the part of Mr. Kennedy was imperative, or that Mr. K. would be expected to favour him, Mr. C., with an interview in the Priest's Meadow.
Captain Rattigan acknowledged the request of | I felt very queer on finding myself opposite
Mr. Clinch to be a very reasonable alternative, and covenanted that Mr. Kennedy should appear at the time and place mentioned; and Mr. Clinch was then very ceremoniously conducted down stairs by the polite commander.
a truculent fellow of enormous height, with a pair of projecting whiskers upon which a man might hang his hat, and a pistol two feet long clutched in his bony grasp. Rattigan, as he adjusted my weapon, whispered "Frank, jewel, remember the hip-bone; or, as the fellow's a of a length, you may level a trifle higher;" and, stepping aside, his coadjutor pronounced in an audible voice-One!-two!! -three!!!
Through motives of delicacy, I had at the commencement of the interview retired to the next apartment; and as the rooms were only separated by a boarded partition, I overheard through a convenient chink with desperate alarm, Captain Rattigan giving every facility to my being shot at in half-an-hour in the Priest's Meadow. No wonder then Rat found me pale as a spectre, when bursting into the room he seized me by the hand, and told me he had brought this unlucky business to a happy termination. He, the captain, dreaded that Jemima would have been looking for legal redress; but, thank God, it would only end in a duel.
I hinted at the chance of my being shot. "Shot!" exclaimed my comforter, "why, what the deuce does that signify? If indeed you had been under the necessity of hanging yourself, like the one-eyed major, it would have been a hardship. No funeral honours no decent wake-but smuggled into the earth like a half-bale of contraband tobacco;-but, in your case, certain of respectable treatment -reversed arms-dead march-and Christian burial:-vow to God, quite a comfort to be shot under such flattering circumstances! Frank, you have all the luck of the Rattigans about yon!”—and, opening the door, he hallooed "Myke-Mykle Boyle, bring down the pace makers to the parlour."
In a few seconds I heard the captain and his man busily at work, and by a number of villanous clicks, which jarred through my system like electricity, I found these worthies were arranging the commander's pace-makers for my use in the Priest's Meadow.
At the appointed hour I reached the ground, which was but a short distance from the inn. Rattigan and Bircham accompanied me, and Myke Boyle followed with the tools. Mr. Christopher Clinch and his friends were waiting for us; and a cadaverous-looking being was peeping through the hedge, whom I afterwards discovered to be the village apothecary, allured thither by the hope of an accident, as birds of prey are said to be collected by a chance of carrion.
The customary bows were formally interchanged between the respective belligerentsthe ground correctly measured-pistols squibbed, loaded, and delivered to the principals.
Off went the pistols. I felt Mr. Clinch's bullet whistle past my ear, and saw Captain Rattigan next moment run up to my antagonist, and inquire "if he was much hurt." Heaven's!-how delightful! I had brought the engagement to a glorious issue by neatly removing Mr. Clinch's trigger-finger, and thereby spoiling his shooting for life.
With a few parting bows we retired from the Priest's Meadow, leaving Christopher Clinch a job for the vampire apothecary, and a fit subject for the assiduities of Mrs. Cogan and the gentle Jemima.
If Captain Rattigan had registered a rash vow against port wine, it is to be lamented; for never were three gentlemen of the sword more completely done up at an early hour of the evening than we.
Next day we were informed that Clinch was tolerably well, and that their attorney had been closeted with the ladies of Hawthorn Cottage. We held a council of war, and while debating on the expediency of my retiring on leave to Connemara, where I might set Jemmy and her lawyer at defiance, the post brought us intelligence that "a turn-out for the line was wanted;" and if I could muster the necessary number, I should be exchanged into a regular regiment. Off Rat and I started for Naas, and with little difficulty succeeded in making up the quota; and the first intimation the prototype of Glorvina received of our movements was being seduced to the window by the drums, as I marched past Hawthorn Cottage, with as choice a sample of "food for gunpowder" as ever left Ballybunnion. I saluted the once-intended Mrs. Kennedy with great respect; the fifers struck up "Fare you well, Killeavey;" and Captain Rattigan, who accompanied me the first day's march, ejaculated, as he looked askance at this second Ariadne, May the devil smother you, Jemima O'Brien!" And now, my dear friends, having brought my autobiography to that interesting period when I left the militia for the line, I shall pause in the narrative to direct your attention to the moral of the tale. It is quite evident
that a young attorney should never compare deeds within duelling distance of an accomplished bonnet-maker, nor an elderly one divorce a sickly gentleman's wife without securing his costs before he announces his instructions to proceed. No bilious bailiff should cross the Shannon, for it is not every stomach which will digest a stripe of parchment; and exercise, a good thing enough in its own way, may, if taken on a tense blanket, be very inconvenient to persons of sedentary habits.
I have a mighty affection for the army, and, therefore, I supplicate young soldiers never to propose for a lady in a public ballroom the first night they arrive in country quarters, and to shun, as they would the chorea viti, that seductive tune, called "The wind that shakes the barley!"—and, finally, to give no credence whatever to any apology offered for a soiled silk unless they have perpetrated the offence in person, or have seen it committed in their own actual presence.
PART FIRST. 1
O! sweetest sweet, and fairest fair, Of birth and worth beyond compare, Thou art the causer of my care,
Since first I loved thee.
Yet God hath given to me a mind, The which to thee shall prove as kind As any one that thou shalt find,
Of high or low degree.
Lord Macaulay regarded this as the finest piece of ballad poetry extant. The legend upon which it is founded is briefly this:-Helen Irving, daughter of the Laird of Kirconnell in Dumfriesshire, celebrated for her beauty, was beloved by two gentlemen. The favoured lover was Adam Fleming of Kirkpatrick; the other is supposed to have been a Bell of Blacket House. The latter's suit was favoured by the friends of the lady; consequently, the lovers were obliged to meet in secret, and by night in the Kirconnell churchyard, a picturesque spot almost surrounded by the river Kirtle. During one of these meetings the despised suitor suddenly appeared on the opposite bank of the stream and fired a carabine at his rival. But Helen, throwing herself before her lover, received the bullet intended for him, and died in his arms. Fleming fought the murderer and cut him to pieces. Other accounts state that Fleming pursued his foe to Spain, and slew him in the streets of Madrid. The first part of the ballad-suspected to be modern-consists of an address to the lady, either by Fleming or his rival; the second part-by far the more beautiful-forms the lament of Fleming over Helen's grave. Several paraphrases of this ballad have been published; amongst them one by John Mayne, author of The Siller Gun, &c.
The shallowest water makes maist din, The deadest pool, the deepest linn; The richest man least truth within,
Though he preferred be.
Yet, nevertheless, I am content,
O! Helen sweet, and maist complete, My captive spirit's at thy feet! Thinks thou still fit thus for to treat Thy captive cruelly?
O! Helen brave! but this I crave,
I wish I were where Helen lies, Night and day on me she cries; O that I were where Helen lies, On fair Kirconnell Lee!
Curst be the heart that thought the thought,
O think na ye my heart was sair,
As I went down the water side, None but my foe to be my guide, None but my foe to be my guide,
On fair Kirconnell Lee;
I lighted down my sword to draw,
For her sake that died for me.
O Helen fair, beyond compare! I'll make a garland of thy hair, Shall bind my heart for evermair, Until the day I die.
O that I were where Helen lies!
Says, "Haste and come to me!".
O Helen fair! O Helen chaste!
I wish my grave were growing green, A winding-sheet drawn ower my een, And I in Helen's arms lying,
On fair Kirconnell Lee.
I wish I were where Helen lies!
For her sake that died for me.
ANNE PAGE AND SLENDER.
The comedy of The Merry Wives of Windsor, although rarely now performed on the stage, was regarded by Warton as "the most complete specimen of Shakspeare's comic powers;" and Johnson said: "This comedy is remarkable for the variety and number of the personages, who exhibit more characters appropriated and discriminated than perhaps can be found in any other play." The ludicrous misfortunes of Falstaff, into which he is betrayed by the "merry wives," Mistress Page and Mistress Ford, form the principal action of the comedy; of the underplot, "Sweet Anne Page," a bright, merry-eyed lass, is the centre. Her mother has decided that she shall marry the wealthy French Doctor Caius, who is in favour at court; her father has decided that she shall marry Slender, the cousin of Justice Shallow; whilst Anne herself has decided that she shall marry Fenton, a gallant cavalier, who finds favour with neither father nor mother. Slender "hath but a little wee face; but he is as tall a man of his hands as any is between this and his head." He is urged to the match by pompous Justice Shallow, but he is most awkward in his wooing. He means to show his affection by his indifference to dinner, and remains outside Page's house when all his friends are seated at table. Anne is sent to desire him to join the party:
Anne. Will't please your worship to come in, sir?
Anne. I pray you, sir, walk in.
Slen. I had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised my shin th' other day with playing at sword and dagger with a master of fence; three veneys for a dish of stewed prunes; and, by my troth, I cannot abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your dogs bark so? be
there bears i' the town?
Anne. I think there are, sir: I heard them talked of.
Slen. I love the sport well; but I shall as soon quarrel at it as any man in England. You are afraid if you see the bear loose, are you not? Anne. Ay, indeed, sir.
Slen. That's meat and drink to me, now. I have seen Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken him by the chain; but, I warrant you, the women have so cried and shrieked at it, that it passed: but women, indeed, cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favoured rough things.
Slen. No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; He doth object I am too great of birth; I am very well.
Anne. The dinner attends you, sir.
Slen. I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth. Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go wait upon my cousin Shallow. [Exit Simple.] A justice of peace sometimes may be beholding to his friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy yet, till my mother be dead: but what though? yet I live like a poor gentleman born. Anne. I may not go in without your wor ship: they will not sit till you come.
And that, my state being gall'd with my expense,
Albeit I will confess thy father's wealth
Slen. I' faith, I'll eat nothing: I thank Yet, wooing thee, I found thee of more value you as much as though I did. Than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags;
And 'tis the very riches of thyself
That now I aim at.
O, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults
Shal. She's coming: to her, coz. O boy,
thou hadst a father!
Slen. I had a father, Mistress Anne; my uncle can tell you good jests of him. Pray you, uncle, tell Mistress Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of a pen, good uncle.
Shal. Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you. Slen. Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in Gloucestershire.
Shal. He will maintain you like a gentle
Slen. Ay, that I will, come cut and longtail, under the degree of a squire.
Shal. He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.
Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and MISTRESS QUICKLY. Shal. Break their talk, Mistress Quickly; my kinsman shall speak for himself.
Slen. I'll make a shaft or a bolt on't: 'slid, 'tis but venturing.
Shal. Be not dismayed.
Slen. No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that, but that I am afeard.
Quick. Hark ye; Master Slender would speak a word with you.
[Exeunt Page, Shal. and Sira. Anne. I come to him. [Aside] This is my successful; but the lovers triumph at length. Fenton's appeal to the mother is equally un
To frighten and torment Falstaff for his attentions to Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, it is arranged to beguile the knight to the oak of Herne the Hunter in the forest, where all the conspirators will appear in the disguise of fairies and goblins, and play such pranks upon him as will make him glad to escape alive. On the occasion of this frolic Mistress Page has arranged that Anne is to be dressed in green, and to elope with Dr. Caius; Page has arranged that Anne is to be dressed in white, and is to escape with Slender to Eton, where they are to be married. Caius and Slender respectively carry out their parts of the programme, but when in the church each discovers that the companion of his flight is a great lubberly boy. Slender cries:-
Anne. Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.
Enter PAGE and MISTRESS PAGE.
Page. Now, Master Slender: love him, daughter Anne.
Why, how now! what does Master Fenton here? You wrong me, sir, thus still to haunt my house:
Shal. Marry, I thank you for it; I thank you for that good comfort. She calls you, coz: I'll leave you.
Anne. Now, Master Slender-
Slen. My will! 'od's heartlings, that's a pretty jest indeed! I ne'er made my will yet, I thank Heaven; I am not such a sickly creature, I give Heaven praise.
Anne. I mean, Master Slender, what would you with me?
Slen. Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing with you. Your father and my uncle hath made motions: if it be my luck, so; if not, happy man be his dole! They can tell you how things go better than I can: you may ask your father; here he comes.
I told you, sir, my daughter is disposed of.
Page. She is no match for you.