Imágenes de páginas


mony he



youth. He was still undefeat- he was not pleased with his ed at the game of long-bullets, own lack of bravery, and at and his strength was famous the age of fifty he thought of throughout the countryside. marriage again. He then reHe could still lift such weights alised the loneliness of life, and

no ordinary person could repented that he had not marmove, and he told Burdy that ried when young. 6 Would to he could wind a 50-lb. weight God,” he would exclaim, “I round his head without any had married a servant-maid !” difficulty. Moreover, his fist The long years of his curacy was as active as his tongue to were broken only by a literary chastise the insolent, but he project or two, and one journey had not yet found the proper to London. He was still young theatre for his genius.

when he wrote Some ProOn the subject of matri- posals for the Revival

of less ex- Christianity,' a piece attributed ercised than was Panurge. to Swift, under whose inspira“Shall I marry ?” said he. tion it was composed. The “Marry in God's name,” might great man, after his wont, have replied his friends. But would neither acknowledge nor though he had made several deny the authorship; he merely attempts (ingeniously tabulated objected that the writer had by the faithful Burdy) he never not continued the irony to the changed his state. The first end. A more serious effort lady to whom he paid his ad- was 'Deism Revealed,' a work dresses showed signs of which was approved by Hume travagance, and he would have and profitably published by none of her. “Between your Andrew Miller. To launch pride and his poverty,” he de- this masterpiece Skelton traclared, “poor

Phil Skelton velled to London, and his shall never be racked." And impressions of the capital are poor Phil Skelton was not droll enough. Like Voltaire, racked, though providence he was amazed at the intelliproved his wisdom by driving gence of the merchants in the lady to drink and adultery. whose houses he dined, and Another experiment might there “passed many agreeable have had a more hopeful result, hours with company fit to had not Skelton called upon entertain and instruct me. his betrothed and found her But coming up from Monaghan conversing in a private room he was most deeply struck by with “gay, airy youth.

youth.” the sight of a wild Irishman in He dropped the beau a public show, “dressed up the stairs, and never spoke with a false beard, artificial to the faithless one again. wings, and the like.” A hideous After this fashion four at- figure, he wore a chain round tempts failed, and Skelton re- his waist, and cut his foolish solved to suppress his passions, capers before a gaping crowd. for which purpose he lived two He was a native of Skelton's years upon vegetables. But own Derriaghy, and had taken,






said he, a proper method of concealed his bed, and in this gulling the English. After the modest hut he entertained wild Irishman the parson was the great ones of the neighmost astonished by the fact bourhood. His arrival that he once dined in London characteristic and magnificent. for three halfpence, for which he He was a bruiser himself, but got a quart of thick soup and a he thought that his own fists piece of bread. It was cheap might be over-matched, so he and maybe savoury, but even took with him one Jonas Good, Skelton, who was used to the a great boxer, to defend him. hard fare of Ireland, did not “I hire you to fight,” said he to like to repeat the experiment. his henchman, “at which I hear “ The soup,” said he,

you are very clever,” and bemade of broken meat collected tween them they fought the from cook-shops, kitchens, and parish into submission and good strolling beggars.” And if he behaviour. Moreover, his sense knew beforehand its composi- of fun got the better of him, and tion, it is another proof of the he dressed Jonas up to look as old man's intrepidity. How- terrific as possible. Wherefore ever, his visit to London gave he would not allow him to wear him the air of a travelled man, livery, which might have deand the artful Burdy was not stroyed the allusion, but clothed slow to question him. “What's him in picturesque braveries, the reason, sir' (I said to Mr and gave out that he was Skelton once), “that these deis match for four. Yet the ruffians tical writers, Hume, Boling- of Pettigo were equal to the broke, and Gibbon, are emergency :

the boasting of clever, while their opponents are Skelton excited the envy of often inferior to them in point some malicious people, who wayof composition ?

?' Do you laid Jonas at night, and beat think' (he replied) “the devil him most shockingly.” This, ever sent a fool on his errand?'however, was but an interlude. It reads like a parody of Bos- Jonas recovered his beating, well's Life,' and truly both and, his master aiding, ruled biographer and subject acquit the parish with an iron fist. themselves in the approved For his own part, Skelton was fashion.

always fighting. Now it is a But after twenty years of mob of tinkers that he chastises waiting Philip Skelton was ap- single-handed. Now he thrashes pointed to the living of Pettigo, an officer for profane swearing. the roughest parish in Ireland, At another time he quarrels at and there he showed his true a vestry-meeting, and putting character and courage. Remote off his clerical robe, he beats and uncultivated, it verily de- his opponent within an inch of served the name of Siberia, his life. He had been thirty which he gave to it. The vicar years a priest when he chalhimself had but one room, with lenged a major to mortal coman earthen floor, where he slept bat; and wherever he went or and studied. A simple screen whatever enterprise he under




“ He was

took, he bore himself as in the wilds of Ireland would gallant man. But, his courage have been absurd. So in the apart, he was always devoted time of frost and distress this to charity. He took upon him- open-handed hero would go self the sorrows of all his poor through Pettigo" with a strawparish. He fought hunger as rope about him to keep his he fought impertinence, with large coat on." Yet in the every fibre of his robust frame. face of disaster he allowed him“If you have not food,” he said, self one pleasure. “ beg it; if you can't get for fond of a good horse,” says begging, steal; if you can't get Burdy, “and generally had the for stealing, rob, and don't best saddle-horses that could starve.” So, as long as he had be got, though he was remarka penny in his pocket, he fed ably awkward on horseback, , his parishioners, were they for he turned out his toes, and Catholic or Protestant. No took no hold with his knees, heresy came in the way of his but balanced himself in the welldoing; only he must do stirrups, like a man on a slackgood in his own way. When wire ; so that when a horse famine came, he sold his library began to trot he jogged up to buy meal, and, distributing down like a taylor.

A lady the meal himself, he kept back who was riding near him one the extortionate thief with his day near Pettigo observed to strong right hand.

At the him that he turned out his toes time of the greatest dearth, too much. O yes,' he said, “ he and Jonas Good,

Jonas Good, the 'my education was inverted, , strong man, regulated Pettigo for I was taught to ride by market on a Monday, standing a dancing-master, and to dance among the meal-sacks, each of by a riding-master."" Are not them with a huge club in his the picture and the excuse alike hand.” It is a heroic picture, admirable ? And still more which you cannot contemplate humorous is Burdy's comment: without a frank admiration for “ Horace himself informs this brave old parson,

very candidly that he rode Yet though he gave up every- awkwardly on his mule.” thing, he loved comfort and Thus Skelton was preferred the good things of this world from one rectory to another, with all the energy of his vivid until at last old age drove him nature. The force of life domi- to seek refuge and retirement nated him, and he lived every in Dublin. There he lived minute and with every drop of quietly and at his ease, discussblood. His library gone, he ing theology, baiting bishops, collected another; in the face and playing piquet for a farof poverty he cultivated his thing a game. But by this garden, and despite the bleak- time his fame had spread wide, ness of his Siberian Pettigo, he and his table-talk was collected made a wonderful collection of for the curious. For instance, at flowers. Of dress he was pro- dinner (you are told) he would perly contemptuous, since finery give two toasts.

The first was




you will


the family of the Latouches, them until he was past eighty which had a soul superior to the and the pompous prebendary of rest of mankind ; the second was Donacavey. Moreover, he had Richmond the dancing-master, a simple faith in omens and who

famous in Dublin dreams. Once upon a time a for the capture of burglars. great lady fell in love with him, This toast he would preface and offered him the tutelage of with the words : “I give you the her sons, as a step to matrihealth of a hero, Richmond the mony. Although perplexed, he dancing-master.' With Skel- might have looked upon the suit ton's approval he must needs with favour, but in the night “he have been a hero, and at least saw the appearance of a wighe professed an art which the block, which, rising by degrees parson practised with skill out of the floor of the room, and and sympathy. But Skelton's then moving back and forward, familiar discourse was always said in a solemn voice : ‘Beware free, and never smacked of his of what you are about.' He cloth. To a girl who came to did beware, and procured the him for counsel he exclaimed: appointment for friend. “Marry a soldier, my girl, for The lady married her tutor in find

honest two

two years; "in half a year soldiers than honest parsons. after," says Skelton, “she cuckWhen a gentleman of Fer- hold him, and then I saw her managh told him that he ex with my eyes a beastly drunkpected to represent the county ard.” Truly the wig-block gave in Parliament, “Ay,” he said, a just and timely warning. with a directness worthy of the Such was the man whom Doctor, “they are all a parcel Burdy drew, and in drawing of rascals, and a rascal is fittest Skelton he perforce drew himto represent them.” Yet in self. So he is revealed to us a spite of his energy and strength simple friend and faithful biohe suffered from the horrors, grapher. His own career, as like Borrow and many another we have said, was merely comstrong and energetic man. In monplace. He attempted, inhis own thought, he trembled effectually, to marry Bishop for fifty years upon the brink Percy's daughter, and he printed

He would rise at a volume of poems, one of which night to rush in timid search boasted the ingenious title: “On for a doctor, and half an hour's being refused the Loan of an jogging on horseback would Umbrella by a certain Lady.” restore him to confidence. His But the work of his life was parishioners, sympathetic in Skelton's biography, and it is a most things, tired of this per- curiosity of literature that, while petual anxiety, and one among Burdy and Boswell were inthem, bolder than the rest, said, spired by a similar talent, they “Make a day, sir, and keep it, were working at the same time, and don't be always disappoint- and that their masterpieces ing us."

But he refused to were published within the limit make a day, and disappointed of a single year.


of the grave.

3 M


OH, maybe it was yesterday, or fifty years ago!

Meself was risin' early on a day for cuttin' rushes; Walkin' up the Brabla' burn, still the sun was low,

Now I'd hear the burn run an' then I'd hear the thrushes. Young, still young !-an' drenchin' wet the grass,

Wet the golden honeysuckle hangin' sweetly down ; Here, lad, here ! will ye follow where I pass,

An' find me cuttin' rushes on the mountain.

Then was it only yesterday, or fifty years or so?

Rippin' round the bog pools high among the heather, The hook it made me hand sore, I had to lave it go;

'Twas he that cut the rushes then for me to bind together. Come, dear, come !-an' back along the burn

See the darlin' honeysuckle hangin' like a crown. Quick, one kiss ! Sure, there some one at the turn!

“Oh, we're afther cuttin' rushes on the mountain.”


Yesterday, yesterday, or fifty years ago

I waken out o’ dreams when I hear the summer thrushes. Oh, that's the Brabla' burn, I can hear it sing an’ flow,

For all that's fair, I'd sooner see a bunch o' green rushes. Run, burn, run! Can ye mind when we were young ?

The honeysuckle hangs above, the pool is dark an’ brown: Sing, burn, sing! Can ye mind the song ye sung

The day we cut the rushes on the mountain ?


« AnteriorContinuar »