Imágenes de páginas


crity, and, entering the smithy, addressed Mr. Strongitharm with a fami. liar yet haughty nod.

“ You’re a voter, my good fellow, a’n’t ye?”

“ A believe a wull ha'e a vote, sir, after a ha’e qualifeed,” replied the smith, in a plain, simple, yet respectful manner.

“ Well, you'll give it to me, wont ye?" said the candidate. “ May a ax wha ye are, sir ?" demanded Strongitharm.

“ Oh! I'm Mr. B-, you know, who has now represented this district of burghs in Parliament for these eight years back.”

“ Od, sir, ye mun ha’e been young begun wi’ the Parlymentin' business,” replied the smith, “ but muckle though a ha'e read o' the news. papers, a ha'e never seen o' your doin' ony thing, either for the gude o' the country in general, or for this hamewald pairt o' the warld in parteecler; though they tell me ye hae gotten a gude fifeteen hunder ayear o' the nation's money; an' for what, a'm sure a kenna.”

“ That, my good friend, was merely the salary of a laborious office, of which the present men have deprived me,” replied the candidate, in a somewhat subdued tone.

“ A kenna whaure the labour o't. lay than,” said the smith, drily ; a can only say, that a dinna think muckle o' laborin' frae sax o'clock till sax o'clock wi' this bit fore-hammer i’ my hand, an'a dinna get the fifeteenth pairt o' that siller for ma pains. They tell me that your warkshop's in Lunnon-an'a'm sure a never saw that the wark o't ever stoppit ye frae saumont-fishing i' the spring; nor frae deuk shootin' i' the loch a' the simmer; nor frae murderin' the poor muirfools nor paitricks, i' the autumn; nor frae ridin' after the fox, a'the rest o' the year. Whaure the labor o't can be than, is mair nor a can find oot. Labor eneuch did you indeed tak’ whanever Lord John Russell, or ony o' thae pawtriotic chields, spak aboot reform. Ma certy, whatever sport was in play at the time, ye gaed aff an' left it in an auld hurry. An a' to do what think ye? By ma soul, for nae ither purpose but to gi’e your silent vote against a' thing that was raisonable ; just that you, an' the pairty that gied you that laborious an’ ill-paid office o' your's that ye spak o', might haud doon puir fouk’s heads, an' prevent sic like as me frae ha’ein' that sma' voice in the nation, to the whilk, a tak’ it, common sense wud say that they are fairly enteetled.”

“You are a very sensible man, Mr. Strongitharm,” said the candi. date ; “ though some of your views are not altogether correct, or quite in harmony with mine. But, however much I may have opposed reform from conscientious motives, I am free to confess, that, since it has now become the law of the land, no one can be more disposed to see that it is fairly administered than I shall be.”

“ Weel, sir, that may be very true,” replied the smith; “ but a’m for pitten a chield to the new reform bellyses, wha had some hand in settin' them up, an’ wha best kens hoo to work them. In short, sir, to save ye frae blawin' ony mair o'the wund oot o' yours, a maun just honestly tell ye, that a canna' gi'e ma vote to a gentleman, wha, gif he had had his nane wull, wad never hae letten me hae ony vote to gi'e.”

“ Then you have been canvassed already by Mr. A-, I suppose,” said Mr. B- --, in a pettish tone.

“Na, Maister A- nor nae ane else has been naur me," replied the smith ; " ye're the very first that ever spak till me aboot ony siccan a business. But whether Mr. A- comes till me or no', a mean to gi'e him ma vote, as bein' the best man we can get for our turn; and, gif we


[ocr errors]


can get him to gang to Parliament to do oor wark, am thinkin' that oor burghs wull be muckle obliged till him.”

“ But, Mr Strongitharm,” said the candidate, somewhat moved, “ you seem to forget, sir, that although you never saw me before, the whole horses of my stud, hunters, hacks, and all, have been shod in your smithy for nearly two years past.”

“ That may be, sir,” coolly replied the smith, “ a'm sure a ha’e been very proud o' your custom ; an' mair nor that, a'm proud eneuch to believe that your horses were the best shod horses in a' the country side. But what has horse-shoein' to do wi' the makin' o' members o' Parliament?”

“Why-hoy--whoy, nothing very directly indeed," said the candi. date, taken a good deal aback by the suddenness of the honest smith's question ; “ but—but you know it is in my power to send my horses to be shod somewhere else.”

Ou, nae doot o' that, sir!" replied the smith, “ though, wi' reverence be it spoken, a canna’ just see hoo siccan a hint as that jumps very weel wi' your declaration, that nane could be mair disposed than you are to see the Reform Bull fairly administered, noo that it's an ack.

But gif ye wull be contented to ha’e your hunters shod by gleed Wully Robb, poor chield, or even by the bit genty body up the street that maks the nice pokers an' tangs, and nit-crackers, and nitmug graters, a ha'e naething for to say against it; an' gif ony o' them, or ony ither man, can shoe ye're hunters as weel as a can do, what for no' employ him? But if the truth be, as a jalouse, that a can shoe your horses better than ony ither smith i' this pairt o' the country side, then, ma opinion just is, that if ye gang elsewhere to fare waur, ye ha'ena' just a' that wusdom for your ain interest that fouk gi'e ye credit for.”

“ Why do you talk so long?” called out one of the personages from the interior of the vehicle, in an impatient tone. “ Come away ! come

away !”


Mr. B- hastened to the side of the carriage, and after a little private parley, a servant was called to open the door, and to let down the steps; and the indefatigable Mr. B- returned to the charge, reinforced by the presence of his two friends from the interior.

“ Mr. Strongitharm, this is my father-in-law, the Earl of C, and this is my wife's cousin, the Marquis of F-" said the candidate.

Mr. Strongitharm,” said the marquis, with a good-natured, familiar air and manner,

you know that I keep hounds, I believe ; that I hunt a pretty wide extent of country; and that not only all my shoeing work is done in your shop, but that I have it in my power to give you, or to take from you, half the shoeing work and farriery business of this county, and those on each side of it. Will you refuse me your vote for my con. nexion, Mr. B?”

“ Mr. Strongitharm," said the earl, taking up the discourse before the smith had time to reply,“ you know that I also have some shoeing in my stables, and much smith work adoing at the castle ; all this I have the power of giving or withholding. But there is yet another thing to which I would earnestly call your attention : you hold a farm of three hundred a-year from me; and now, will you refuse me your vote for my son-in-law, Mr. B?"

« Ma lords,” replied Mr. Strongitharm, apparently now resolved to permit the negotiation to be as little spun out as he possibly could ; to the horse an' smith pairt o'your twa speeches, a maun just say to you

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

as a


what a ha'e already said to this gentleman himsell, what has the shoein' o' horses and the makin' o' members o' Parliament to do wi' ana anither? Gin ye dinna like to ha'e yere horses shod by me, ye maun just gang elsewhere to hae the job dune ; an' gin ye find as gude a smith as me, a' that a say is, that a wuss ye baith joy o' him. An' as for the maitter o’the farm o' which his lordship the yearl spak yenoo, a canna see, for the soul o' me, what that has to do wi' makin' o' a Parliament man, mair nor the shoein' trade. A ha'e gotten a gey stark bargain o' the bit place, but a ha'e a tack o't, an' a'm aye yebble to pay the rent ; an' sae a'm thinkin' there's naething left to mak or mend atween us. But, Lord sake, sirs ! a hinna time to be stannin' haverin' here ony langer: a maun till ma wark as fast's a can ; for a daurna leave ma study to gang and catch saumonts, and shoot deuks, as this gentleman can do.” And suiting the action to the word, he snatched up the fore-hammer, and began to thunder such a peal upon the anvil as quickly drove the nervous senators of both the Houses to their carriages; and he never stopped his noise till that of their wheels was quite lost in distance.

There was a good-natured waggish leer of comical humour on his face, when he ceased his cannonade of blows, to receive the money which we had all this time been holding in our hands. Before again placing ourselves in our vehicle, we could not resist paying him some compliments on his firm, noble, and straightforward conduct.

“ Fegs, gentlemen, it's a bad account o’ human nature,” said he, “ that ye sould think it wordy while to commend a man for barely doin' that which he wad be a rascal for no doin'. But, troth, a maun say that some poor deevils are subjeckit to sair temptations by thae anti fouk, or conservatives, as they are cain' themsells. But, an they dinna let poor fouk alane, to be guided by God and their ain consciences, ceese o' a trust, the whilk they hould for sae mony ithers beside them. sells, a'm muckle mistane gif ballot be na the upshot o'd."


Oh for the time when minstrels pour'd

Their peans for the great and glorious,
When truth and freedom were abhorr’d,

And Tories all were merrytorious !
When every prince was wise and good,

By the sheer force of birth and station;
And princesses all hearts subdued,

Which beat for beauty and the nation ;
When loved by loyal lords and knights,

They shone Lucretias in their carriage;
E'en though they claim'd the marriage-rights,

Not waiting for the rites of marriage !
Such were the days of England's pride,

When she was strong, and great, and moral ;
When every muse in meanness vied,

As if they struggled for the laurel!
Oh! would some pow'r those days renew,

And wake the Muses from their slumber ;
To tell how generous is Buccleuch,

How liberal the Lord of Clumber!
To tell with what a fearless speed

Our prince upon the footpath dashes,
And frights some ladies with his steed,
And others with his grim mustaches ;

How stout Sir George to rob the Guelph,

Of such a vast amount of glory,
Took the whole honour to himself,

And told a very barefaced story!
Alas! some muse, from trammels free,

Has hinted with malicious slyness,
How very false a knight may be,

How very low a Royal Highness.
But let her hint; on truth we'll lean,

Though, faith! the story was a poser ;
If far from Perfect he has been,

'Twas right to draw a little closer.
If this wont do, we'll blame the steed,

The rein, the spur, and drop a hint in-
Their eyes were fathers of the deed;

For one is blind, and t’other s quintin'!



Your genuine witches, who

_“ seemed not creatures of the earth, And still were on it;"

withered old women, who united in their persons the decrepitude of age with the most marvellous powers of locomotion ; half spirits, half mortals; who seemed to live solely for the purpose of paying back to the whole human race the hatred lavished by men, women, and children, on themselves ; who could blight the farmer's hope of plenty ; cheat his cows of their milk, and his wife of her butter; cause the clouds to gather, and the tempest to scourge the earth ; and yet, creatures of contrarieties ! who, possessed of all this awful power, could not, or would not, redeem themselves from rags, hunger, and misery ;-they, your genuine witches, as we have already called them, exist not, alas! at present, in our green island: extinct, though not forgotten, is their race, like that of our noble moose.deer, our formidable wolf, and our as formidable wolf-dog. Dege. nerate emulators of them, indeed, we still boast ; individuals who dip into futurity by the aid of card..cutting or cup-tossing, or who find out stolen property, or vend charms against the peevish malice of the little sprites of the moonbeam ; but, compared with their renowned predeces. sors, these timid assertors of supernatural endowment may be said to disgrace their calling ; and, moreover, even they are fast sinking in repute, as well as diminishing in numbers.

But we would attempt to preserve, in the following pages, some fit idea of the importance of a true Irish witch of the good olden time. We are aware, that the chief event which must wind up our story—the sudden appearance, namely, of a lost heir-(we have the courage to speak it out, so soon) is a threadbare one ; it can't be helped, however ; and it, at least, is fact, to our own knowledge ; although we are not quite as fully accountable for the respectable traditions that surround it with such pleasing wonders as we are about to relate, and which form the real interest of our narration.


On the western coast of Ireland is a certain dangerous bay; into it the broad Atlantie rolls his vast waters. Two leagues inland from its mouth high black cliffs frown over it, at both sides, of which the bases are hollowed into caverns; and when the winds blow angrily_and any wind can effectually visit the open and exposed estuary-tremendous and terrific is the roar, the dash, and the foam, which deafen the ears, and distract the eyes of a spectator. That hapless vessel which, in a storm, cannot avoid an entrance into this merciless turmoil of mad waters, has sealed its doom.

Formerly, a great number of ships, from different countries, used to be dashed to splinters against the iron-bound coast ; and a few people conjecture, that the diminution of such terrible accidents, in the present day, is partially owing to some improvement in seamanship, or else to the timely warning now given to distant mariners, by lights erected at the mouth of the bay. But other persons, and by far the greater num. ber in the neighbourhood, think that the comparative paucity of wrecks may more naturally and satisfactorily be accounted for in another way. In fact, there does not now reside, as formerly there did, in an almost unapproachable cavern, high up on the face of one of the black cliffs, “ a real witch, of the right sort.”

Not that her witchship always dwelt in her cave ; no, her visits to it were but occasional. Nor did it ever become necessary for her to proclaim her presence on the coast, by exhibiting her person ; the results of her close neighbourhood sufficiently “ prated of her whereabouts.” Farmers' wives toiled in vain at their churns; and when no butter would come, self-evident it was that the witch was at that moment in her cavern, seated on her heels before a vessel of plain water, from which, by drawing a dead man's hand through it, she appropriated the produce of other people's honest labour. Cows suddenly went back in their milk ; and then it was known, that, by passing a wheaten straw between her finger and thumb, the witch amply filled her can, while the owner of the beautiful animal uselessly tugged at its udder. Cattle swelled, and died, too; and, once again, every one knew who was in the cave under the cliff; and if none of those events, or similar ones, proved her disagreeable proximity, the direful storms and the frightful wrecks in the bay abundantly warranted it. Often, amid the bellowing of the tempest she had raised, swelled her shrieking voice ; and while the despairing creatures in the doomed vessel topped each short, high, foam-maned billow, which nearer and nearer dashed them on to their dread fate, the terrified watchers on the cliff's brow have heard her devilish laugh, until at last it broke into frenzied loudness, as the ship burst, like a glass buba ble, against the sharp rocks under her dwelling-hole.

No one could tell whence she came or whither she went, when, for a time, no longer visible on the coast. Occasionally she was observed in conference with certain notorious smugglers ; and the men appeared, it was well known, to petition and bribe her for a fair wind with which to enter the bay, and for a foul one to keep their pursuers out of it. And this was fully proved by the fact, that invariably their light lugger got in, and was safely moored in some little creek, against danger of coming storm ; while, the moment the revenue-cutter appeared in the offing, out burst the wildest winds, from the witch's


swelled the sea and the bay, in mountain billows; and his Majesty's vessel was sure to be wrecked during the night.

cavern, and

« AnteriorContinuar »