After the friendly parting of the foes (pro tempore), there was a general scatter of the party who had come to see the duel; and how strange is the fact, that,' much as human nature is prone to shudder at death under the gentlest circumstances, yet men will congregate to be its witnesses, when violence aggravates the calamity! A public execution or a duel is a focus where burning curiosity concentrates : in the latter case, Ireland bears the palm, for a crowd ; in the former, the. annals of the Old Bailey can amply testify. Ireland' has its own interest, too, in a place of execution, but not in the same. degree, as England. They have been too used to hanging in Ireland, to make it piquant : toujours perdrix" is a saying which applies in this as in many other cases. The gallows, in its palmy days, was shorn of its terrors ; it: became rather a pastime. For the victim, it was a pastime, with a vengeance ;-for,' through it, all time was past with him. For the rabble who beheld his agony, the frequency of the sight had blunted the edge of horror, and only sharpened that of unnatural' excitement. The great school, where law should be the respected master, failed 'to. inspire its intended awe ; the legislative lesson became a mockery; and, death, instead of frowning with terror, grinned in a fool's cap from the scaffold. · This may be doubted now, when a milder spirit presides in the councils of the nation and on the bench; but those who remember Ireland not very long ago, can bear witness how lightly life was.'valued or death regarded.-Illustrative of this, one may refer to the story of the two basket-women, in Dublin, who held gentle converse on the subject of an approaching execution. - :

" Won't you go see de man die to-morrow, Judy?! 10.,

" Oh no, darlin',” said Judy ;-by the bye, Judy pronounced the'n. through her nose, and said, do."

“ Ah do, jewel," said her friend. : “..'
Judy again responded,—“do."
“ And why won't you go, dear ?" inquired her friend again.

“ I've to wash de child,” said Judy. .“ Sure, didn't you wash it last week ?" said her friend in an expostulatory tone.

“Oh, well, I won't go,” said Judy.

“ Throth, Judy, you're ruinin' your health," said this soft-hearted acquaintance; “ dere's a man to die to-morrow, and you won't comeaugh !--you dever take do divarshin !"

And wherefore is it thus? Why should tears bedew the couch of

him who dies in the bosom of his family, surrounded by those who love him, whose pillow is smoothed by the hand of filial piety, whose past is without reproach, and whose future is bright with hope ;-—and why should dry eyes behold the duellist or the culprit, in whom folly or guilt may be the cause of a death on which the seal of censure or infamy may be set, and whose futurity we must tremble to consider ? With more reason might we weep for the fate of either of the latter than the former, and yet we do not. And why is it so? If I may venture an opinion, it is that nature is violated : a natural death demands and receives the natural tribute of tears; but a death of violence falls with a stunning force upon the nerves, and the fountain of pity stagnates and will not flow.

Though there was a general scattering of the persons who came to see the duel, still a good many rode homeward with Murphy, who with his second, Tom Durfy, beside him, headed the party, as they rode gaily towards the town, and laughed over the adventure of Andy and Dick.

" No one can tell how anything is to finish," said Tom Durfy ; .66 here we came out to have a duel, and, in the end, it turned out a hunt.”

“ I'm glad you were not in at my death, however," said Murphy, who seemed particularly happy at not being killed.

“ You lost no time in firing, Murtough,” said one of his friends.

“ And small blame to me, Billy,” answered Murphy ; “ Egan is a capital shot, and how did I know but he might take it into his head to shoot me ? for he's very hot, when roused, though as good-natured a fellow, in the main, as ever broke bread; and yet I don't think, after all, he'd have liked to do me much mischief either; but you see he couldn't stand the joke he thought I played him.”

“ Will you tell us what it was ?” cried another of the party, pressing forward, “ for we can't make it out exactly, though we've heard something of it:-wasn't it leeches you sent to him, telling him he was a blood-sucking villain ?"

A roar of laughter from Murtough followed this question. “ Lord, how a story gets mangled and twisted,” said he, as soon as he could speak. “ Leeches !—what an absurdity !--no-it was—"

“A bottle of castor oil, wasn't it, by way of a present of noyau ?" said another of the party, hurrying to the front to put forward his version of the matter.

A second shout of laughter from Murphy greeted this third edition of the story. “ If you will listen to me, I'll give you the genuine version," said Murtough, “ which is better, I promise you, than any which invention could supply. The fact is, Squire Egan is engaged against O'Grady, and applied to me to harass him in the parchment line, swearing he would blister him; and this phrase of blistering occurred so often, that when I sent him over the bit o'parchment, which he engaged to have served on my bold O'Grady, I wrote to him, Dear Squire, I send you the blister;" and that most ingenious of all blunderers, Handy Andy, being the bearer, and calling at M'Garry's shop on his way home, picked up from the counter a real blister, which was folded up in an enclosure, something like the process, and left the law-stinger behind him.

“ That's grate,' cried Doyle.

“Oh, but you have not heard the best of it yet,” added Murphy. “ I am certain the bit of parchment was sent to O'Grady, for he was hunting M‘Garry this morning through the town, with a cudgel of portentous dimensions--put that and that together.”

“No mistake !" cried Doyle ; “ and divil pity O'Grady, for he's a blustering, swaggering, overbearing ill-tempered”

“ Hillo, hillo, Bill,” interrupted Murphy, “ you are too hard on the adjectives ; besides, you'll spoil your appetite if you ruffle your temper; and that would fret me, for I intend you to dine with me to-day.”

“ Faith an' I'll do that same, Murtough, my boy, and glad to be asked, as the old maid said.”

“I'll tell you all what it is," said Murphy. “Boys, you must all dine with me to-day, and drink long life to me since I'm not killed."

There are seventeen of us,” said Durfy; “ the little parlour won't hold us all."

“ But isn't there a big room at the inn, Tom ?" returned Murphy, " and not better drink in Ireland than Mrs. Fay's. What do you say, lads, one and all—will you dine with me ?”

" Will a duck swim ?chuckled out Jack Horan, an oily veteran, who seldom opened his mouth but to put something into it, and spared his words, as if they were of value ; and to make them appear so, he spoke in apophthegms.

" What say you, James Reddy ?” said Murtough.

" Ready, sure enough, and willing too !" answered James, who was a small wit, and made the aforesaid play upon his name, at least three hundred and sixty-five times every year.

" Oh, we'll all come,” was uttered right and left.

" Good men and true!" shouted Murphy ; " won't we make the rafters shake, and turn the cellar inside out!-whoo! I'm in great heart to-day. But who is this powdhering up the road ? by the powers, 'tis the doctor, I think ; 'tis-I know his bandy hat over the cloud of dust.”

The individual, thus designated as the doctor, now emerged from the obscurity in which he had been enveloped, and was received with a loud shout by the whole cavalcade as he approached them. Both parties drew rein; and the doctor, lifting from his head the aforesaid bandy hat, which was slouched over one eye, with a sinister droop, made a low obeisance to Murphy, and said with mock solemnity, “Your servant, sir-and so you're not killed ?".

“ No,” said Murphy; “ and you've lost a job, which I see you came to look for ; but you're not to have the carving of me yet."

“ Considering it's so near Michaelmas, I think you've had a great escape, signor,” returned the doctor.

“ Sure enough," said Murphy, laughing; “but you're late, this time; so you must turn back, and content yourself with carving something more innocent than an attorney, to-day-though at an attorney's cost. You must dine with me."

“ Willingly, signor," said the doctor ; “but pray don't make use of the word 'cost.' I hate to hear it out of an attorney's mouth-or bill, I should say."

A laugh followed the doctor's pleasantry, but no smile appeared upon his countenance ; for though uttering quaint, and often very good, but oftener very bitter things, he never moved a muscle of his face, while others were shaking their sides at his sallies. He was, in more ways than one, a remarkable man. A massive head, large and rather protruding eyes, lank hair, slouching ears, a short neck and broad shoulders, rather inclined to stooping; a long body, and short legs slightly bowed, constituted his outward man; and a lemon-coloured complexion, which a residence of some years in the East Indies had produced, did not tend to increase his beauty. His mind displayed a superior intelligence, original views, contempt of received opinions, with a power of satire and ridicule, which rendered him a pleasing friend or a dangerous enemy, as the case might be ; though, to say the truth, friend and foe were treated with nearly equal severity, if a joke or a sarcasm tempted the assault. His own profession hated him ; for he unsparingly ridiculed all stale practice, which his conviction led him to believe was inefficient, and he daringly introduced fresh, to the no small indignation of the more cut and dry portion of the faculty, for whose hate he returned contempt, of which he made no secret. From an extreme coarseness. of manner, even those who believed in his skill were afraid to trust to his humour, and the dislike of his brother practitioners to meet him, superadded to this, damaged his interest considerably, and prevented his being called in until extreme danger frightened patients, or their friends, into sending for Doctor Growling. His carelessness in dress, too, inspired disgust in the fair portion of the creation ; and "snuffy,” and “ dirty,” and “savage,” and “ brute,” were among the sweet words they applied to him.

Nevertheless, those who loved a joke more than they feared a hit, would run the risk of an occasional thrust of the doctor's stiletto, for the sake of enjoying the mangling he gave other people; and such rollicking fellows as Murphy, and Durfy, and Dawson, and Squire Egan, petted this social hedgehog.

The doctor now turned his horse's head, and joined the cavalcade to the town. “ I have blown my Rozinante," said he, “ I was in such a hurry to see the fun."

“Yes,” said Murphy, “he smokes."

“ And his master takes snuff,” said the doctor, suiting the action to the word. “I suppose, signor, you were thinking a little while ago that the squire might serve an ejectment on your vitality.”

“ Or that in the trial between us I might get damages,” said Murphy.

“ There is a difference, in such case," said the doctor, “ between a court of law, and the court of honour ; for, in the former, the man is plaintiff, before he gets his damages, while in the latter, it is after he gets his damages that he complains.'

“ I'm glad my term is not ended, however,” said Murphy.

“ If it had been,” said the doctor, “ I think you'd have had a long vacation in limbo.”

“ And suppose I had been hit,” said Murphy, "you would have been late on the ground. You're a pretty friend !"

“ It's my luck, sir," said the doctor. “ I'm always late for a job. By the bye, I'll tell you an amusing fact of that musty piece of humanity, Miss Jinkins. Her niece was dangerously ill, and she had that licensed slaughterer from Killanmaul, trying to tinker her up, till the poor girl was past all hope, and then she sends for me. She swore, some time ago, I should never darken her doors, but when she began to apprehend that death was rather a darker gentleman than me, she tolerated my person. The old crocodile met me in the hall ;-by the bye, did you ever remark she's like a crocodile-only not with so pleasing an expression ?-and wringing her hands, she cried, “Oh, doctor, I'll be bound to you for ever ;'-I hope not, thought I to myself, —Save my Jemima, doctor, and there's nothing I won't do to prove my gratitude.' • Is she long ill, ma'am?' said I. 'A fortnight, doctor.'- I wish I had been called in sooner, ma'am,' says I,-for, 'pon my conscience, Murphy, it is too ridiculous the way people go on about me. I verily believe they think I can raise people out of their graves; and they call me in to repair the damages disease and the doctors have been making; and while the gentlemen in black silk stockings, with gold-headed canes, have been fobbing fees for three weeks, perhaps, they call in poor Jack Growling, who scorns jack-a-dandyism, and he gets a solitary guinea for mending the bungling that cost something to the tune of twenty or thirty, perhaps. And when I have plucked them from the jaws of death,-regularly cheated the sexton out of them,—the best word they have for me is to call me a pig, or abuse my boots ; or wonder the doctor is not more particular about his linen-the fools! But to return to my gentle crocodile. I was shown up stairs to the sick room, and there, sir, I saw the unfortunate girl, speechless, at the last gasp, absolutely. The Killanmaul dandy had left her to die-absolutely given her up; and then, indeed, I'm sent for! Well, I was in a rage, and was rushing out of the house, when the crocodile waylaid me in the hall. 'Oh, doctor, wont you do something for my Jemima ? 'I can't, ma'am,' says I ; 'but Mister Fogarty can.' Mister Fogarty!' says she. "Yes, ma'am,' says I. "You have mistaken my profession, Miss JinkinsI'm a doctor, ma'am ; but I suppose you took me for the undertaker.'

- Well, you hit her hard, doctor," said Murphy.
“Sir, you might as well hit a rhinoceros," returned the doctor.
" When shall we dine ?" asked Jack Horan.

As soon as Mrs. Fay can let us have the eatables," answered Murphy; " and, by the bye, Jack, I leave the ordering of the dinner to you; for no man understands better how to do that same; besides, I want to leave my horse in my own stable, and I'll be up at the inn, after you, in a brace of shakes.”

The troop now approached the town. Those who lived there rode to their own stables, and returned to the party at Mrs. Fay's; while they who resided at a distance dismounted at the door of the inn, which soon became a scene of bustle in all its departments, from this large influx of guests and the preparation for the dinner, exceeding in scale what Mrs. Fay was generally called upon to provide, except when the

« ElőzőTovább »