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In an instant one of those sudden changes so common to an Irish assembly, and scarcely credible to a stranger, took place. The multitude was hushed-the grotesque of the subscription list had passed away and was forgotten, and that same man and that same multitude stood in altered relations—they were again a reverent flock, and he once more a solemn pastor ; the natural play of his nation's mirthful sarcasm was absorbed in a moment in the sacredness of his office ; and with a solemnity befitting the highest occasion, he placed his hands together before his breast, and, raising his eyes to heaven, he poured forth his sweet voice, with a tone of the deepest devotion, in that reverential call to prayer, “ Orate, fratres.”
The sound of a multitude gently kneeling down followed, like the soft breaking of a quiet sea on a sandy beach; and when Father Philip turned to the altar to pray, his pent-up feelings found vent in tears, and while he prayed, he wept.
I believe such scenes as this are not of unfrequent occurrence in Treland ; that country so long suffering, so much maligned, and so little understood.
Suppose the foregoing scene to have been only described antecedent to the woman in the outbreak of her gratitude revealing the priest's charity, from which he recoiled-suppose the mirthfulness of the incidents arising from reading the subscription-list-a mirthfulness bordering on the ludicrous, to have been recorded, and nothing more-a stranger would be inclined to believe, and pardonable in the belief, that the Irish and their priesthood were rather prone to be irreverent; but obserye, under this exterior, the deep sources of feeling that lie hidden, and wait but the wand of divination to be revealed. In a thousand similar ways are the actions and the motives of the Irish misunderstood by those who are careless of them ; or worse, misrepresented by those whose interest, and too often business, it is to malign them.
Father Phil could proceed no further with the reading of the subscription-list, but finished the office of the mass with unusual solemnity. But if the incident just recorded abridged his address, and the publication of donors' names by way of stimulus to the less active, it produced a great effect on those who had but smaller donations to drop into the plate ; and the grey-headed collector, who could have numbered the scanty coin before the bereaved widow had revealed the pastor's charity, had to struggle his way afterwards through the eagerly-outstretched hands, that showered their hard-earned pence upon the plate, which was borne back to the altar heaped with contributions- heaped as it had not been seen for many a day. The studied excitement of their pride and their shame-and both are active agents in the Irish nature-was less successful than the accidental appeal to their affections.
Oh! rulers of Ireland, why have you not sooner learned to lead that people by love, whom all your severity has been unable to drive ?
When the mass was over, Andy waited at the door of the chapel to catch “his reverence" coming out, and obtain his advice about what he overheard from Larry Hogan; and Father Phil was accordingly accosted by Andy just as he was going to get into his saddle to ride over to breakfast with one of the neighbouring farmers, who was holding the priest's stirrup at the moment. The extreme urgency of Andy's manner, as he pressed up to the pastor's side, made the latter pause and inquire what he wanted.
“ I want to get some advice from your reverence," said Andy.
“Faith, then, the advice I give you is, never to stop a hungry man when he is going to refresh himself,” said Father Phil, who had quite recovered his usual cheerfulness, and threw his leg over his little grey hack as he spoke. “How could you be so unreasonable as to expect me to stop here listening to your case, and giving you advice indeed, when I have said three masses * this morning, and rode fifteen miles ; -how could you be so unreasonable, I say?"
“I ax your Rivirence's pardon,” said Andy; “I wouldn't have taken the liberty, only the thing is mighty particular, intirely."
" Well, I tell you again, never ask a hungry man advice ; for he is likely to cut his advice on the patthern of his stomach; and it's empty advice you'll get. Did you never hear that a 'hungry stomach has no ears?'"
The farmer who was to have the honour of the priest's company to breakfast exhibited rather more impatience than the good-humoured Father Phil, and reproved Andy for his conduct.
“ But it's so particular,” said Andy.
“I wondher you would dar to stop his Rivirence, and he black fastin'. Go along wid you !”
“ Come over to my house in the course of the week, and speak to me," said Father Phil, riding away.
Andy still persevered, and taking advantage of the absence of the farmer, who was mounting his own nag at the moment, said the matter of which he wished to speak involved the interests of Squire Egan, or he would not “ make so bowld."- This altered the matter; and Father Phil desired Andy to follow him to the farm house of John Dwyer, where he would speak to him after he had breakfasted.
* The office of the mass must be performed fasting.
John Dwyer's house was a scene of activity that day, for not only was the priest to breakfast there,—which is always an affair of honour, — but a grand dinner also was preparing on a large scale ; for a wedding feast was to be held in the house, in honor of Matty Dwyer's nuptials, which were to be celebrated that day with a neighbouring young farmer, rather well to do in the world. The match had been on and off for some time, for John Dwyer was what is commonly called a “ close-fisted fellow," and his would be son-in-law could not bring him to what he considered proper terms, and though Matty liked young Casey, and he was fond of her, they both agreed not to let old Jack Dwyer have the best of the bargain in portioning off his daughter, who, having a spice of her father in her, was just as fond of number one as old Jack himself. And here it is worthy of remark, that, though the Irish are so prone in general to early and improvident marriages, no people are closer in their nuptial barter, when they are in a condition to make marriage a profitable contract. Repeated meetings between the elders of families take place, and acute arguments ensue, properly to equalize the worldly goods to be given on both sides. Pots and pans are balanced against pails and churns, cows against horses, a slip of bog against a gravel pit, or a patch of meadow against a bit of a quarry; a little lime-kiln sometimes burns stronger than the flame of Cupid-the doves of Venus herself are but crows in comparison with a good flock of geese- and a love-sick sigh less touching than the healthy grunt of a good pig; indeed, the last-named gentleman is a most useful agent in this traffic, for when matters are nearly poised, the balance is often adjusted by a grunter or two thrown into either scale. While matters are thus in a state of debate, quarrels sometimes occur between the lovers ; the gentleman's caution sometimes takes alarm, and more frequently the lady's pride is aroused at the too obvious preference given to worldly gain over heavenly beauty ; Cupid shies at Mammon, and Hymen is upset and left in the mire.
I remember hearing of an instance of this nature, when the lady gave her ci-devant lover an ingenious reproof, after they had been separated some time, when a marriage bargain was broken off, because the lover could not obtain from the girl's father a certain brown filly as part of her dowry. The damsel, after the lapse of some weeks, met her swain at a neighbouring fair, and the flame of love still smouldering in his heart, was reillumed by the sight of his charmer, who, on the contrary, had become quite disgusted with him, for his too obvious preference of profit to true affection.---He addressed her softly in a tent, and asked her to dance, but was much astonished at her returning him a look of vacant wonder, which tacitly implied, “ Who are you?" as plain as looks could speak.
“ Arrah, Mary?" exclaimed the youth.
“Sir!!!"- answered Mary, with what heroines call “ ineffable disdain."
“Why one would think you didn't know me!"
“If I ever had the honour of your acquaintance, sir,” answered Mary, “I forget you entirely.”
“ Forget me, Mary?-arrah be, aisy-is it forget the man that was courtin' and in love with you ?”
“You're under a mistake, young man,” said Mary, with a curl of her rosy lip, which displayed the pearly teeth to whose beauty her woman's nature rejoiced the recreant lover was not yet insensiblem" You're under a mistake, young man,” and her heightened colour made her eye flash more brightly, as she spoke-"You're quite under a mistakeno one was ever in love with me”-and she laid signal emphasis on the word—“There was a dirty mane blackguard, indeed, once in love with my father's brown filly, but I forget him intirely.”
Mary tossed her head proudly, as she spoke, and her horse-fancying admirer reeled under the reproof she inflicted, and sneaked from the tent, while Mary stood up, and danced with a more open-hearted lover, whose earnest eye could see more charms in one lovely woman than all the horses of Arabia.
But no such result as this was likely to take place in Matty Dwyer's case; she and her lover agreed with one another on the settlement to be made, and Old Jack was not to be allowed an inch over what was considered an even bargain. At length all matters were agreed upon, the wedding day fixed and the guests invited ; yet still both parties were not quite satisfied, for young Casey thought he should be put into absolute possession of a certain little farm and cottage, and have the lease looked over to see all was right, (for Jack Dwyer was considered rather slippery,) while old Jack thought it time enough to give him possession and the lease and his daughter altogether.
However, matters had gone so far, that, as the reader has seen, the wedding feast was prepared, the guests invited, and Father Phil on the spot to help James and Matty, (in the facetious parlance of Paddy,) to “tie with their tongues what they couldn't undo with their teeth."
When the priest had done breakfast, the arrival of Andy was announced to him, and Andy was admitted to a private audience with Father Phil, the particulars of which must not be disclosed, for in short, Andy made a regular confession before the Father, and, we know confessions must be held sacred ;—but we may say that Andy confided the whole post-office affair to the pastor,-told him how Larry Hogan had contrived to worm that affair out of him, and by his devilish artifice had, as Andy feared, contrived to implicate Squire Egan in the transaction, and by threatening a disclosure, got the worthy squire into his villanous power. Andy, under the solemn queries of the priest, posi. tively denied having said one word to Hogan to criminate the squire, and that Hogan could only infer the squire's guilt ;-upon which
Father Phil, having perfectly satisfied himself, told Andy to make his mind easy, for that he would secure the squire from any harm, and he moreover praised Andy for the fidelity he displayed to the interests of his old master, and declared he was so pleased with him, that he would desire Jack Dwyer to ask him to dinner.-" And that will be no blind nut, let me tell you,” said Father Phil—"A wedding dinner, you lucky dog-lashings and lavings, and plenty of dancing afther!"
Andy was accordingly bidden to the bridal feast whither the guests began already to gather thick and fast.—They strolled about the field before the house, basked in groups in the sunshine, or lay in the shade under the hedges, where hints for future marriages were given to many a pretty girl, and nudges and pinches were returned by small screams suggestive of additional assault, and inviting denials of " Indeed I won't," and that crowning provocative to riotous conduct, “ Behave yourself."
In the meantime, the barn was laid out with long planks supported on barrels or big stones, which, when covered with clean cloths, made a goodly board, that soon began to be covered with ample wooden dishes of corned beef, roasted geese, boiled chickens and bacon, and intermediate stacks of cabbage, and huge bowls of potatoes, all sending up their wreaths of smoke to the rafters of the barn, soon to become hotter from the crowd of guests, who, when the word was given, rushed to the onslaught with right good-will.
The dinner was later than the hour named, and the delay arose from the absence of one, who, of all others, ought to have been presentnamely—the bridegroom.-But James Casey was missing, and Jack Dwyer had been closeted from time to time with several long-headed grey beards, canvassing the occurrence, and wondering at the default on the bridegroom's part.-The person who might have been supposed to bear this default the worst, supported it better than any one.—Matty was all life and spirits, and helped in making the feast ready, as if nothing wrong happened, and she backed Father Phil's argument to sit down to dinner at once ;-" that if James Casey was not there, that was no reason dinner should be spoiled-he'd be there soon enough
-besides, if he didn't arrive in time, it was better he should have good meat cold, than every body have hot meat spoiled—the ducks would be done to cindhers—the beef boiled to rags, and the chickens be all in jommethry— "
So down they sat to dinner :-its heat, its mirth, its clatter, and its good cheer I will 'not attempt to describe ; suffice it to say, the viands were good, the guests hungry, and the drink unexceptionable ; and Father Phil, no bad judge of such matters, declared he never pronounced grace over a better spread. But still, in the midst of the good cheer, neighbours (the women particularly) would suggest to each other the “wondher” where the bridegroom could be; and even within earshot of the bride elect, the low-voiced whisper ran, of " Where in the world is James Casey ?"
Still the bride kept up her smiles, and cheerfully returned the healths that were drunk to her ; but old Jack was not unmoved—a cloud hung on his brow, which grew darker and darker as the hour advanced and