William Carleton, “The Hedge School” [continued]

NOW, WHEN we consider the total absence of all moral and religious principles in these establishments, and the positive presence of all that was wicked, cruel, and immoral, need we be surprised at the character of Ireland at this enlightened day. But her education and herself were neglected, and now behold the consequence. I am sorry to perceive the writings of many respectable persons on Irish topics, imbued with a tinge of spurious liberality, that frequently occasions them to depart from truth. To draw the Irish character as it is, as the model of all that is generous, hospitable, and magnanimous, is in some degree fashionable; but although I am as warm an admirer of all that is really excellent and amiable in my countrymen as any man, yet I cannot, nor will I, extenuate their weak and indefensible points. That they possess the elements of a noble and exalted national character, I grant; nay, that they actually do possess such a character, under limitations, I am ready to maintain: an Irishman, setting aside his religious and political prejudices, is grateful, affectionate, honourable, faithful, generous, and even magnanimous; but, under the stimulus of religious and political feeling, he is treacherous, cruel, and inhuman - will murder, burn, and exterminate, not only without cumpunction [sic], but with a satanic delight, worthy of a savage. Their education, indeed, was truly barbarous; they were trained and habituated to cruelty, revenge, and personal hatred, in their schools. Their knowledge was directed to evil purposes - disloyal principles were industriously insinuated into their minds by their teachers, every one of whom was a leader of some illegal association. The matter placed in their hands was of a most inflammatory and pernicious nature, as regarded politics; and as far as religion and morality were concerned, nothing could be more gross and superstitious than the books which circulated amongst them. Eulogiums on murder, robbery, and theft, were read with delight in the histories of Freney the Robber, and the Irish Rogues and Rapparees; ridicule of the Word of God, and hatred to the Protestant religion, in a book called Ward’s Cantos, written in Hudibrastic verse - the downfall of the Protestant Establishment, and the exaltation of the Romish Church, in Columbkill’s Prophecy, and latterly in that of Pastorini - a belief in every species of religious imposture, in the Lives of the Saints, of St. Patrick, of St. Columbkill, of St. Teresa, St. Francis Xavier, the Holy Scapular, and several other works, disgraceful to human reason. Political and religious ballads of the vilest doggrel, miraculous legends of holy friars persecuted by Protestants, and of signal vengeance inflicted by their divine power on their persecutors, were in the mouths of the young and old, and, of course, firmly fixed in their credulity. Their weapons of controversy were drawn from the Fifty Reasons, the Doleful Fall of Andrew Sail, the Catholic Christian, the Grounds of the Catholic Doctrine, a Net for the Fishers of Men, and several other publications of the same class. The books of amusement read in these schools, including the first-mentioned in this list, were, the Seven Champions of Christendom, the Seven Wise Masters and Mistresses of Rome, Don Belianis of Greece, the Royal Fairy Tales, the Arabian Nights Entertainments, Valentine and Orson, Gesta Romanorum, Dorastus and Faunia, the history of Reynard the Fox, the Chevalier Faublax; to these I may add, the Battle of Aughrim, Seige of Londonderry, History of the Young Ascanius, a name by which the Pretender was designated, and the Renowned History of the Seige of Troy; the Forty Thieves, Robin Hood’s Garland, the Garden of Love and Royal Flower of Fidelity; along with others, the names of which shall not appear on these pages. With this species of education before our eyes, is it at all extraordinary that lreland should be as she is?
 “Thady Bradley, will you come up wid your slate, till I examinate you in your figures? Go out, Sir, and blow your nose first, and don’t be after making a looking-glass out of the sleeve of your jacket. Now that Thady’s out, I’ll hould you, boys, that none of yees knows how to expound his name - eh? do yees? But I needn’t ax - well, ’tis Thadeus: and, maybe, that’s as much as the priest that christened him knew. Boys, you see what it is to have the larnin’ - to lade the life of a gintleman, and to be able to talk deeply wid the clargy: now, I could run down any man in arguin’, except a priest; and if the bishop was afther consecratin’ me, I’d have more larnin.’ than the most of them; but you see I’m not consecrated - and - well, ’tis no matther - I only say that the more’s the pity. Well, Thady, when did you go into subtraction?”
 “The day beyond yestherday, Sir; yarrah musha, sure ’twas yerself, Sir, that shet me the first sum.”
-“Masther, Sir, Thady Bradley stole my cutter - that’s my cutter, Thady Bradley.”
 “No, it’s not”, (in a low voice).
 “Sir, that’s my cutter - an’ there’s three nicks in id.”
 “Thady, is that his cutter?”
 “There’s your cutter for you - Sir, I found it on the flure, and didn’t know who owe’d it.”
 “You know’d very well who owe’d it; didn’t Dick Martin see you liftin’ it off o’ my slate when I was out?”
 “Well, if Dick Martin saw him, its enough: an’ ’tis Dick that’s the tindher-hearted boy, an’ would knock you down wid a lump of a stone, if he saw you murdherin’ but a fly. “Well, Thady - throth Thady, I fear you’ll undherstand subtraction betther nor your tacher: I doubt you’ll apply it to ‘Practice’ all your life, ma bouchal, and that you’ll be apt to find it ‘the Rule of False’ at last. Well, Thady, from one thousand pounds, no shillings and no pince, how will you subtract one pound? Put it down on your slate - this way,
1000.
00.
00
1.
00.
00


 “I don’t know how to shet about it, masther.”
  “You don’t! an’ how dare you tell me so, you shingawn you - you Cornelius Agrippa, you - go to your sate and study it, or I’ll - ha! be off, you” -
 “Pierce Mahon, come up wid your multiplication. Pierce, multiply four hundred by two - put it down - that’s it,
400 by 2

 “Twicet nought is one.” (Whack, whack.) “Take that as an illustration - is that one?” “Faith, masther, that’s one an’ one, any how; but, Sir, is not wanst nought, nothin; now, masther, sure there can’t be less than nothin.” “Very good, Sir.” “If wanst nought be nothin’, then twicet nought must be somethin’, for its double what wanst nought is - see how I’m sthruck for nothin’, an’ me knows it - hoo! hoo! hoo!” “Get out, you Esculapian; but I’ll give you somethin’, by-and-by, just to make you remimber that you know nothin’ - off wid you to your sate, you spalpeen you - to tell me that there can’t be less than nothin’, when it’s well known that sporting Squire O’Canter is a thousand pounds worse than nothin’.”
 “Paddy Doran, come up to your’ Inthrest.’ Well, Paddy, what’s the intherest of a hundred pound, at five per cent? Boys, some of you let a fox pass there - manners, you thieves you.”
 “Do you mane, masther, per cent per annum?”
 “To be sure I do - how do you state it?”
 “I’ll say, as a hundher pound is to one year, so is five per cent per annum.”
 “ Hum - why - what’s the number of the sum, Paddy?”
 “’Tis No. 84, Sir.” (The master steals a glance at the Key to Gough.) “I only want to look at it in the Gough, you see, Paddy - an.’ how dare you give me such an answer, you big-headed dunce, you - go off an’ study it, you rascally Lilliputian - off wid you, and don’t let me see your ugly mug till you know it.”
 “Now, gintlemen, for the Classics; and first for the Latinaarians - Larry Cassidy, come up wid your Asop. Larry, you’re a year at Latin, an’ I don’t think you know Latin for frize, what your own coat is made of, Larry. But, in the first place, Larry, do you know what a man that taches classics is called?”
  “A schoolmasther, Sir.” (Whack, whack, whack.)
  “Take that for your ignorance, you wooden-headed goose, you - (whack, whack) - and that to the back of it - ha! that’ll tache you - to call a man that taches classics a schoolmasther, indeed! ’tis a Profissor of Humanity itself, he is - (whack, whack, whack, ) - ha! you ringlader, you; you’re as bad as Dick O’Connell, that no masther in the county could get any good of, in regard that he put the whole school together by the ears, wherever he’d be, though the spalpeen wouldn’t stand fight himself. Hard fortune to you! to go to put such an affront upon me, an’ me a Profissor of Humanity. What’s Latin for breeches?”
  “Fem - fem - femina.”
  “No, it’s not, Sir; that’s Latin for a woman.”
 “Femora -“Can you do it?”
  “Don’t strike me, Sir; don’t strike me, Sir, an’ I will.”
  “I say, can you do it?”
 “Femorali” - (whack, whack, whack, ) -  “Ah, Sir! ah, Sir! ’tis fermorall - ah, Sir! ’tis fermorali - ah, Sir!”
 “This thratement to a Profissor of Humanity - (whack, -whack, whack, whack, kick, kick, kick, thump, thurnp, thump, cuff, cuff, cuff - drives him head over heels to his seat.)  - Now, Sir, maybe you’ll have Latin for breeches, again, or, by my sowl, if you don’t, you must strip, and l’ll tache you what a Profissor of Humanity is!
 “Dan Shiel, you little starved-looking spalpeen, will you come up to your Illocution? - and a purty figure you cut at it, wid a voice like a penny trumpet, Dan! Well, what speeeh have you got now, Dan, ma bouchal? Is it ‘Romans, counthrymin, and lovers?’”
  “No Shir; yarrah, didn’t I spake that speech before? ’tis wan, masther, that I’m afther Pennen’ myself.”
  “No, you didn’t, you fairy; ah, Dan, little as you are, you take credit for more than ever you spoke, Dan, agrah; but, faith, the same thrick will come agin you some time or other, avick! Go, and get that speech bitther; I see, by your face, you haven’t it: off wid you, and get a patch upon your breeches, your little knees are through them, though ’tisn’t by prayin’ you’ve wore them, any how, you little hop-o’-my-thumb you, wid a voice like a rat in a thrap; and yet you’ll be practisin’ Illocution; off wid you, man-alive! You little spitfire you, if you and your school-fellow, Dick, had been wid the Jews whin they wanted to burn down the standin’ corn of the Philistins, the divil a fox they might bother their heads about, for yees both would have carried fire-brands by the hundher for them. Spake the next speech bitther; between you and Dick, you keep the school in perpetual agitation.”
  Sometimes the neighbouring gentry used to cal! into Mat’s establishment, moved probably by a curiosity excited by his character, and the general conduct of the school. On one occasion Squire Johnston and an English gentleman paid him rather an unexpected visit. Mat had that morning got a new scholar, the son of a dancing tailor in the neighbourhood; and as it was reported that the son was nearly equal to the father in that accomplishment, Mat insisted on having a specimen of his skill; and he was the more anxious on this point, as it would contribute to the amusement of a travelling schoolmaster, who had paid him rather a hostile visit, which Mat, who dreaded a literary challenge, feared might occasion him some trouble.
 “Come up here, you little sartor, till we get a dacent view of you. You’re a son of Neal Malone’s, aren’t you?” “Yes, and of Mary Malone, my mother, too, Sir.” “Why thin, that’s not bad, any how - what’s your name?” “Dick, Sir.” “Now, Dick, ma bouchal, isn’t it true that you can dance a horn-pipe?” “Yes, Sir.” “Here, Larry Brady, take the door off of the hinges, an’ lay it down on the flure, till Dick Malone dances the Humours of Glynn: silence, boys, not a word; but jist keep lookin’ an.” “Who’ll sing, Sir? for I can’t be after dancin’ a step widout the music.” “Boys, which of yees ’ill sing for Dick? I say, boys, will none of yees give Dick the harmony? Well, come, Dick, I’ll sing for you myself:
 “Torral lol, lorral lol, lorral lol, lorral, lol - Toldherol, lorral lol, lorral lol, lol”, &c. &c.
 “I say, Misther Kavanagh,” said the strange master, “what angle does Dick’s heel form in the second step of the treble, from the kibe on the left foot to the corner of the door forninst him?”
 To this Mat made no reply, only sang the tune with redoubled loudness and strength, whilst little Dicky pounded the old crazy door with all his skill and alacrity. The “boys.” were delighted. “Bravo, Dick, that’s a man - welt the flure - cut the buckle - murder the clocks - rise upon suggaun and sink upon gad; down the flure flat, foot about; keep one foot on the ground, and t’other never off it”, saluted him from all parts of the house; and sometimes he would receive a sly hint, in a feigned voice, to call for “Devil stick the Fiddler”, alluding to the master. Now a squeaking voice would chime in; by and by another, and so on, until the master’s bass had a hundred and forty trebles, all chorusing to the same tune.
 Just at this moment the two gentlemen entered; and, reader, you may conceive, but I cannot describe the face which Mat (who sat with his back to the door, and did not see them until they were some time in the house, ) exhibited on the occasion. There he sang ore rotundo, throwing forth an astounding tide of voice; whilst little Dick, a thin, pale-faced urchin, with his head, from which the hair stood erect, sunk between his narrow shoulders, was performing prodigious feats of agility.
 “What’s the matter? what’s the matter?” said the gentlemen. “Good morning, Mr. Kavanagh.”
 “ - Tooral lol, lol - Oh, good - oh, good morning - jintlemen, with extrame kindness”, replied Mat, rising suddenly up, but not removing his hat, although the gentlemen instantly uncovered.
  “Why, thin, jintlemen”, he continued, “you have caught us in our little relaxations to-day; but - hem! - I mane to give the boys a holiday for the sake of this honest and respectable jintleman in the frize jock, who is not entirely ignorant, you persave, of litherature; and we hed a small taste, jintlemen, among ourselves, of Sathurnalian licentiousness, ut ita dicam, in regard of - hem! - in regard of this lad here, who was dancing a horn-pipe upon the door, and we, in absence of betther musick, had to supply him with the harmony; but, as your honours know, jintlemen, the greatest men have bent themselves on espacial occasions.”
 “Make no apology, Mr. Kavanagh; it’s very commendable in you to bend yourself by. condescending to amuse your pupils.”
 “I beg your pardon, Squire, I can take freedoms with you; but perhaps the concomitant jintleman, your friend here, would be plased to take my stool. Indeed I always use a chair; but the back of it, if I may be permitted the use of a small portion of jocularity, was as frail as the fair sect: it went home yesterday to be minded. Do, Sir, condescind to be sated. Upon my reputation, Squire, I am sorry that I have not accommodation for you too, Sir; except one of these hassocks, which, in joint consitheration with the length of your honour’s legs, would be, I anticipate, rather low; but you, Sir, will honour me by taking the stool.”
 By considerable importunity he forced the gentleman to comply with his courtesy; but no sooner had he fixed himself upon the seat, than it overturned, and stretched him, black coat and all, across a wide concavity in the floor, nearly filled up with white ashes produced from mountain turf. In a moment he was completely white on one side, and exhibited a most laughable appearance; his hat, too, was scorched and nearly burned on the turf coals. Squire Johnston laughed heartily, as did the other schoolmaster, whilst the Englishman completely lost his temper; swearing that so uncivilized an establishment was not between the poles.
 “I solemnly supplicate upwards of fifty pardons”, said Mat; “bad manners to it for a stool! but, your honour, it was my own defect of speculation; bekase, you see, it’s minus a leg, a circumstance of which you warn’t in a proper capacity to take cognation, as not bein.’ personally acquainted with it. I humbly supplicate upwards of fifty pardons.”
 The Englishman was now nettled, and determined to wreak his ill temper on Mat, by turning him and his establisment into ridicule.
 “Isn’t this, Mister - I forget your name, Sir.”
 “Mat Kavanagh, at your sarvice.”
 “Very well, my learned friend, Mr. Mat Kavanagh, isn’t this precisely what is called a hedge school?” “A hedge-school!” replied Mat, highly offended; “My siminary a hedge school! No, Sir; I scorn the cognomen, in toto. This, Sir, is a Classical and Mathematical Siminary, undher the personal superintindance of your humble sarvant.”
 “Sir”, replied the other master, who till then was silent, wishing, perhaps, to sack Mat in presence of the gentlemen, “it is a hedge school; and he is no scholar, but an ignoramus, whom l’d sack in three minutes, that would be ashamed of a hedge school.”
 “Ay”, says Mat”, changing his tone, and taking the cue from his friend, whose learning he dreaded, “it’s just, for argument’s sake, a hedge school; and, what is more, I scorn to be ashamed of it.”
 “And do you not teach occasionally under the hedge behind the house here?”
 “Granted”, replied Mat; “and now, where’s your vis consequentiae?”
 “ Yes,” subjoined the other, “where’s your vis consequentiae?”
 The Englishman himself was rather at a loss for the vis consequentiae, and replied, “Why the devil don’t you live, and learn, and teach like civilized beings, and not assemble like wild asses - pardon me, my friend, for the simile - at least, like wild colts, in such clusters behind the ditches?”
 “A clusther of wild coults!” said Mat; “that shows what you are; no man of classical larnin’ would use such a word.”
 “Permit me, Sir”, replied the strange master, “to ax your honour one question - did you receive a classical education? Are you college-bred?”
 “Yes”, replied the Englishman: “I can reply to both in the affirmative. I’m a Cantabrigian.”
 “You’re a what?” asked Mat.
 “I am a Cantabrigian.”
 “Come, Sir, you must explain yourself, if you plase. I’ll take my oath that’s neither a classical nor a mathematical tarrn.”
 The gentleman smiled. “I was educated in the English College of Cambridge.”
 “Well”, says Mat, “and maybe you would be as well off, if you had picked up your larnin’ in our own Thrinity; there’s good picking in Thrinity.”
 “You talk with contempt of a hedge school”, replied the other master. “Did you never hear, for all so long as you war in Cambridge, of a nate little spot in Greece, called the Groves of Academus?
 Inter lucos Aesdemi quaerere verum.
 What was Plato himself but a hedge schoolmaster? and, with humble submission, it casts no slur on an Irish tacher to be compared to him, I think. You forget, also, Sir, that the Dhruids taught under their oaks.”
 “Ay”, added Mat, “and the Tree of Knowledge, too. Faith, an’ if that same tree was now in being, if there wouldn’t be hedge schoolmasters, there would be plinty of hedge scholars, any how - particularly if the fruit was well tasted.”
 “I believe, Millbank, you must give in”, said Squire Johnston. “I think you have got the worst of it.”
 “Why”, said Mat, “if the jintleman’s not afther bein’ sacked clane, I’m not here.”
 “Are you a mathematician”, enquired Mat’s friend, determined to follow up his victory; “do you know Mensuration?”
 “Come, I do know Mensuration”, said the Englishman, with confidence.
 “And how would you find me the solid contents of a load of thorns?” said the other.
 “Ay, or how will you consther and parse me this sintince?” said Mat -
 Ragibus et clotibus solemus stopere wisdous, Nos numerus sumus et fruges consumere nati, Stercora flat stiro raro terra-tantaro bungo.”
 “Aisy, Misther Kavanagh”, replied the other, “let the Cantabrigian resolve the one I propounded him first.”
 “And let the Cantabrigian then take up mine”, said Mat; “and if he can expound it, I’ll give him a dozen more to bring home in his pocket, for the Cambridge folk to crack after their dinner, along wid their nuts.”
 “Can you do the snail?” enquired the stranger.
 “Or A and B on opposite sides of a wood without the Key?” said Mat.
 “Maybe”, said the stranger, who threw off the frize jock, and exhibited a muscular frame of great power, cased in an old black coat - “maybe the jintleman would like to get a small taste of the Scuffle!”
 “Not at all”, replied the Englishman; “devil the least curiosity I have for it - I assure you I have not. What the deuce do they mean, Johnston? I hope you have influence over them.”
 “Hand me down that cudgel, Jack Brady, till I show the jintleman the snail and the maypole”, said Mat.
 “Never mind, my lad; never mind, Mr. - a - Mr. Kevanagh. I give up the contest. I resign you the palm, gentlemen. The hedge school has beaten Camhridge hollow.”
 “One poser more, before you go, Sir”, said Mat- “Can you give me Latin for a game-egg in two words?”
 “Eh, a game egg? No; by my honour, I can not - gentlemen, I yield.”
 “Ay, I thought so”, replied Mat; “bring it home to Cambridge, anyhow, and let them chew their cuds upon it, you persave; and, by the sowI of Newton, it will [rule?] the whole establishment, or my name’s not Kavanagh.”
 “It will, I am convinced”, replied the gentleman, eyeing the herculean frame of the strange teacher, and the substantial cudgel in Mat’s hand; “it will, undoubtedly. But who is this most miserable, naked lad here, Mr. Kevanagh?”
 “Why, Sir”, replied Mat, with his broad Milesian face, expanding with a forthcoming joke, “he is, Sir, in a sartin and especial particularity, a namesake of your own.”
 “How is that, Mr. Kevanagh?”
 “My name’s not Kevanagh”, replied Mat, “but Kavanagh; the Irish A for ever!”
 “Well, but how is the lad a name-sake of mine?” said the Englishman.
 “Bekase, you see, he’s a poor scholar, Sir,” replied Mat; “an’ hope your honour will pardon me for the facetiousness - Quid vetat ridentem dicere verum? as Horace says to Maecenas, in the first of the Sathirs?”
 “There, Mr. Kavanagh, is the price of a suit of clothes for him.”
 “Michael, will you rise up, Sir, and make the jintleman a bow? he has given you the price of a shoot of clothes, ma bouchal.”
 Michael came up with a thousand rags dangling about him; and, catching his fore-lock, bobbed down his head after the usual manner, saying -“Musha yarrah, long life to yer honour every day you rise, an’ the Lord grant your sowI a short stay in purgathory, wishin’ ye, at the same time, a happy death aftherwards!”
 The gentlemen could not stand this, but laughed so heartily that the argument was fairly knocked up,
 It appeared, however, that Squire Johnston did not visit Mat’s school from mere curiosity. “Mr. Kavanagh”, said he, “I would be glad to have a little private conversation with you, and will thank you to walk down the road a little with this gentleman and me.”
 When the gentlemen and Mat had gone ten or fifteen yards from the school door, the Englishman heard himself congratulated in the following phrazes:
 “How do you feel afther bein’ sacked, gentleman? The masther sacked you! You’re a purty scholar! It’s not you, Mr. Johnston, it’s the other. You’ll come to argue again, will you? Where’s your head, now? Bah! Come back till we put the soogan about yer neck. Bah! You must go to school to Cam-bridge agin, before you can argue an Irisher! Look at the figure he cuts! Why duv ye put the one foot past the other, when ye walk, for? Bah! Dunce!!”
 “Well, boys, never heed yees for that,” shouted Mat; “never fear but I’ll castigate yees, ye spalpeen villains, as soon as I go back. Sir;’ said Mat, “I supplicate upwards of fifty pardons. I assure you, Sir, I’ll give them a most inordinate castigation, for their want of respectability.”
 “What’s the Greek for tobaccy?” they continued, or for Larry O’Toole? or bletherum skite? How many beans makes five? What’s Latin for poteen and flummery? You a mathemathitician! could you measure a snail’s horn? How does your hat stay up and nothing undher it? Will you fight Barny Farrell, wid one hand tied? I’d lick you myself! What’s Greek for gosther?” with many other expressions of a similar stamp.
 “Sir”, said Mat, “lave the justice of this in my hands. By the sowl of Newton, your own counthryman, ould Isaac, I’ll flog the marrow out of them.”
 “You have heard, Mr. Kavanagh”, continued Mr. Johnston, as they went along, “of the burning of Moore’s stable and horses, the night before last? The fact is, that the magistrates of the county are endeavouring to get at the incendiaries, and would render a service to any person capable, either directly or indirectly, of facilitating that object, or stumbling on a clew to the transaction.”
 “And how could I do you a sarvice in it, Sir?” enquired Mat.
 “Why”, replied Mr. Johnston, “from the children. If you could sift them in an indirect way, so as, without suspicion, to ascertain the absence of a brother, or so, on that particular night, I might have it in my power to serve you, Mr. Kavanagh. There will he a large reward offered to- morrow besides.”
 “Oh, damn the penny of the reward ever I’d finger, even if I knew the whole conflagration”, said Mat; but lave the siftin’ of the children wid myself, and if I get any thing out of them, you’ll hear from me; but your honour must keep a close mouth, or you might have occasion to lend me the money for my own funeral some o’ these days. Good morning, jintlemen.”
 The gentlemen departed.
 “May the most ornamental kind of hard fortune pursue you every day you rise, you desavin’ villain, that would have me turn Informer, bekase your brother-in-law, rack-rintin’ Moore’s stable and horses were burnt; but l’d see you and all your breed in the flames o’ hell first.” Such was Mat’s soliloquy as be entered the school on his return.
 “Now, boys, I’m afther givin’ yees to-day and tomorrow for a holy-day: to-morrow we will have our Gregory; a fine faste, plinty of poteen, and a fiddle; and you will tell your brothers and sisters to come in the evening to the dance. You must bring plinty of bacon, hung beef, and fowls, bread and cabbage - not forgetting the phaties, and six-pence a-head for the crathur, boys, won’t yees?”
 The next day, of course, was one of festivity: every boy brought, in fact, as much provender as would serve six; but the surplus gave Mat some good dinners for three months to come. This feast was always held upon St. Gregory’s day, from which circumstance it had its name. The pupils were at liberty for that day to conduct themselves as they pleased; and the consequence was, that they became generally intoxicated, and were brought home in that state to their parents. If the children of two opposite parties chanced to be at the same school, they usually had a fight, of which the master was compelled to feign ignorance; for if he identified himself with either faction, his residence in the neighbourhood would be short, In other districts, where Protestant schools were in existence, a battle-royal commonly took place between the opposite establishments, in some field lying half-way between them. This has often occurred.
 Every one must necessarily be acquainted with the ceremony of barring out. This took place at Easter and Christmas. The master was brought or sent out on some fool’s errand, the door shut and barricadoed, and the pedagogue excluded, until a certain term of vacation w as extorted. With this, however, the master never complied until all his efforts at forcing an entrance were found to be ineffectual; because, if he succeeded in getting in, they not only had no claim for a long play-time, but were liable to be corrected. The schoolmaster had also generally the clerkship of the parish; an office, however, which in the country parts of Ireland is without any kind of salary, beyond what results from the patronage of the priest - a matter of serious moment to a teacher, who, should he incur his Reverence’s displeasure, would be immediately driven out of the parish. The master, therefore, was always tyrannical and insolent to the people, in proportion as he stood high in the estimation of the priest. He was also the master of ceremonies at all wakes and funerals, and usually sat among a crowd of the village sages, engaged in exhibiting his own learning, and in recounting the number of his religious and literary disputatations.
 One day, soon alter the visit of the gentlemen above mentioned, two strange men came into Mat’s establishment - rather, as Mat thought, in an unceremonious manner.
 “Is your name Matthew Kavanagh?” said one of them.
 “That is indeed the name that’s upon me, said Mat, with rather an infirm voice, whilst his face got as pale as ashes.
 “Well”, said the fellow, “we’ll jist trouble you to walk with us a bit.”
 “How far, with submission, are yees goin’ to bring me?” said Mat.
 “Do you know Johnny Short’s hotel?” [The County gaol.]
 “My curse upon you, Findramore”, exclaimed Mat, in a paroxysm of anguish, “every day you rise! but your breath’s unlucky to a schoolmaster; and it’s no lie what was often said, that no schoolmasther ever thruv in you, but something ill came over him.”
 “Don’t curse the town, man alive”, said the constable, “but curse your own ignorance and folly; any way, I wouldn’t stand in your coat for the wealth of the three kingdoms. You’ll undoubtedly swing, unless you turn king’s evidence. It’s about Moore’s business, Misther Kavanagh.”
 “D--n the that I’d do, even if I knew any thing about it; but, God be praised for it, I can set them all at defiance - that I’m sure of, Jintlemen, innocence is a jewel.”
 “But Barny Brady, that keeps the sheebeen house - you know him - is of another opinion. You and some of the Findramore boys took a sup in Barny’s on a sartin night?”
 “Ay, did we, on many a night, and will agin, plase Providence - no harm in takin’ a sup, any how - by the same token, that maybe you and yer friend here would have a drop of rale stuff, as a thrate from me?”
 “I know a thrick worth two of that”, said the man; “I thank ye kindly, Mr. Kavanagh.”
 One Tuesday morning, about six weeks after this event, the largest crowd ever remembered in that neighbourhood was assembled on Findramore Hill, whereon had been erected a certain wooden machine, yclept - a gallows. A little after the hour of eleven o’clock, two carts were descried winding slowly down a slope in the southern side of the town and church, which I have already mentioned, as terminating the view along the level road north of the hill. As soon as they were observed, a low, suppressed ejaculation of horror ran through the crowd, painfully perceptible to the ear - in the expression of ten thousand murmurs, all blending into one deep groan - and to the eye, by a simultaneous motion that ran through the crowd like an electric shock. The place of execution was surrounded by a strong detachment of military; and the carts that contained the convicts were also strongly guarded.
 As the prisoners approached the fatal spot, which was within sight of the place where the outrage had been perpetrated, the shrieks and lamentations of their relations and acquaintances were appalling, indeed. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, and all persons to the most remote degree of kindred and acquaintanceship, were present - all excited by the alternate expression of grief, and low-breathed vows of retaliation; not only relations, but all who were connected with them by the bonds of their desperate and illegal oaths. Every eye, in fact, corruscated with a wild and savage fire, that shot from under brows knit in a spirit that seemed to cry out blood, vengeance - blood, vengeance. The expression was truly awful, and what rendered it more terrific, was the writhing reflection, that numbers and physical force were unavailing against a comparatively small body of armed troops. This condensed the fiery impulse of the moment into an expression of subdued rage, that really shot like livid gleams from their visages.
 At length the carts stopped under the gallows; and, after a short interval spent in devotional exercise, three of the culprits ascended the platform, who, after recommending themselves to God, and avowing their innocence, although the clearest possible evidence of guilt had been brought against them, were launched into another life, among the shrieks and groans of the multitude. The other three then ascended, two of whom either declined, or had not strength to address the assembly. The third advanced to the edge of the boards - it was Mat. After two or three efforts to speak, in which he was unsuccessful from bodily weakness, he at length addressed them as follows:-
 “My friends and good people - In hopes that you may be all able to demonstrate the last proposition laid down by a dying man, I undertake to address you before I depart to that world where Euclid, De Carts, and many other larned men are gone before me. There is nothing in all philosophy more true, than, that, as the multiplication-table says, ‘two and two makes four;’ but it is equally veracious and worthy of credit, that if you do not abnegate this system that you work the common rules or your proceedings by - if you don’t become loyal men, and give up burnin’ and murdherin’, the solution of it will be found on the gallows. I acknowledge myself to be guilty, for not separatin’ myself clane from yees; we have been all guilty, and may God forgive thim that jist now departed wid a lie in their mouth.”
  Here he was interrupted by a volley of execrations and curses, mingled with “stag, informer, traithor to the thrue cause!” which, for some time, compelled him to be silent.
  “You may curse”, continued Mat; “but it’s too late now to abscond the truth - the ‘sum’ of my wickedness and folly is worked out, and you see the ‘answer.’ God forgive me, many a young crathur I enticed into the Ribbon business, and now it’s to ind in Hemp! Obey the law; or, if you don’t, you’ll find it a lex talionis - the construction of which is, that if a man burns or murdhers, he won’t miss hanging; take warning by me - by us all; for, although I take God to witness that I was not at the perpetration of the crime that I’m to be suspinded for, yet I often connived, when I might have superseded the carrying of such intintions into effectuality. I die in peace wid all the world, save an’ except the Findramore people, whom, may the maledictionary execration of a dying man follow into eternal infinity! My manuscription of conic sections” -
  Here an extraordinary buzz commenced among the crowd, which rose gradually into a shout of wild, astounding exultation. The sheriff followed the eyes of the multitude, and perceived a horseman dashing with breathless fury up towards the scene of execution. He carried and waved a white handkerchief on the end of a rod, and made signals with his hat to stop the execution. He arrived, and brought a full pardon for Mat, and a commutation of sentence to transportation for life, for the other two. What became of Mat I know not; but in Findramore he never dared to appear, as certain death would have been the consequence of his not dying game. With respect to Barny Brady, who kept the sheebeen and was the principle evidence against those who were concerned in this outrage, he was compelled to enact an ex tempore death in less than a month afterwards; having been found dead, with a slip of paper in his mouth, inscribed - “This is the fate of all Informers.”

[END]
 
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