The wild irish girl a n.., p.20
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       The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale, p.20

           Lady Morgan
 
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  LETTER XIV.

  TO J. D. ESQ., M. P.

  To day I was present at an interview granted by the Prince to twocontending parties, who came to _ask law of him_, as they term it.This, I am told, the Irish peasantry are ready to do upon every slightdifference; so that they are the most litigious, or have the nicestsense of _right_ and _justice_ of any people in the world.

  Although the language held by this little judicial meeting was Irish, itwas by no means necessary it should be understood to comprehend, in somedegree, the subject of discussion for the gestures and countenancesboth of the judge and the clients were expressive beyond all conception:and I plainly understood, that almost every other word on both sides wasaccompanied by a species of _local oath_, sworn on the first object thatpresented itself to their hands, and strongly marked the vehemence ofthe national character.

  When I took notice of this to Father John, he replied,

  “It is certain, that the habit of confirming every assertion with anoath, is as prevalent among the Irish as it _was_ among the ancient, and_is_ among the modern Greeks. And it is remarkable, that even at thisday, in both countries, the nature and form of their adjurations andoaths are perfectly similar: a Greek will still swear by his parents,or his children; an Irishman frequently swears ‘by my father, who is nomore!’ ‘by my mother in the grave!’ Virgil makes his pious Æneasswear by his head. The Irish constantly swear ‘by my hand,’--‘by thishand,’--or, ‘by the hand of my gossip!’ * There is one who has justsworn by _the Cross_; another by the blessed stick he holds in hishand. In short, no intercourse passes between them where confidence isrequired, in which oaths are not called in to confirm the transaction.”

  * The mention of this oath recalls to my mind an * anecdote of the bard Carolan, as related by Mr. Walker, in his inimitable Memoir of the Irish Bards. “He (Carolan) went once on a pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Purgatory, a cave in an island in Lough Dergh, (county of Donegal) of which more wonders are told than even the Cave of Triphonius. On his return to shore, he found several pilgrims waiting the arrival of the boat, which had conveyed him to the object of his devotion. In assisting some of those devout travellers to get on board, he chanced to take a lady’s hand, and instantly exclaimed ‘dar lamh mo Chardais Criost, [i. e. by the hand of my gossip] this is the hand of Bridget Cruise.’ His sense of feeling did not deceive him--it was the hand of her who he once adored.”

  *****

  I am at this moment returned from my _Vengolf,_ after having declaredthe necessity of my absence for some time, leaving the term, however,indefinite; so that in this instance, I can be governed by myinclination and convenience, without any violation of promise. Thegood old Prince looked as much amazed at my determination, as thoughhe expected I were never to depart; and I really believe, in the oldfashioned hospitality of his Irish heart, he would be better satisfiedI never should. He said many kind and cordial things in his own curiousway; and concluded by pressing my speedy return, and declaring that mypresence had created a little jubilee among them.

  The priest was absent; and Glorvina, who sat at her little wheel by herfather’s side, snapped her thread, and drooped her head close to herwork, until I casually observed, that I had already passed above threeweeks at the castle--then she shook back the golden tresses from herbrow, and raised her eyes to mine with a look that seemed to say, “canthat be possible!” Not even by a glance did I reply to the flatteringquestion but I felt it not the less.

  When we arose to retire to our respective apartments, and I mentionedthat I should be off at dawn, the Prince shook me cordially by the hand,and bid me farewell with an almost paternal kindness.

  Glorvina, on whose arm he was leaning, did not follow his example--shesimply wished me “a pleasant journey.”

  “But where,” said the Prince, “do you sojourn to?”

  “To the town of Bally--------,” said I, “which has been hitherto my headquarters, and where I have left my clothes, books, and drawing utensils.I have also some friends in the neighbourhood, procured me by letters ofintroduction with which I was furnished in England.”

  You know that a great part of this neighbourhood is my father’sproperty, and once belonged to the ancestors of the Prince. He changedcolour as I spoke, and hurried on in silence.

  Adieu! the castle clock strikes twelve! What creatures we are! whenthe tinkling of a bit of metal can affect our spirits. Mine, however,(though why, I know not,) were prepared for the reception of sombreimages. This night may be, in all human probability, the last I shallsleep in the castle of Inismore; and what then--it were perhaps as wellI had never entered it. A generous mind can never reconcile itselfto the practices of deception yet to prejudices so inveterate, I hadnothing but deception to oppose. And yet, when in some happy moment ofparental favour, when all my past sins are forgotten, and my presentstate of regeneration only remembered--I shall find courage to disclosemy romantic adventure to my father, and through the medium of thatstrong partiality the son has awakened in the heart of the Prince, unitein bonds of friendship these two worthy men but _unknown_ enemies--thenI shall triumph in my impositions, and, for the first time, adopt themaxim, that good consequences may be effected by means not strictlyconformable to the rigid laws of truth.

  I have just been at my window, and never beheld so gloomy a night--not astar twinkles through the massy clouds that are driven impetuously alongby the sudden gusts of a rising storm--not a ray of light partiallydissipates the profound obscurity, save what falls on a fragment of anopposite tower, and seems to issue from the window of a closet whichjoins the apartment of Glorvina. She has not yet then retired to rest,and yet ’tis unusual for her to sit up so late. For I have oftenwatched that little casement--its position exactly corresponds with theangle of the castle where I am lodged.

  If I should have any share in the vigils of Glorvina!!!

  I know not whether to be most gratified or hurt at the manner in whichshe took leave of me. Was it indifference, or resentment, that markedher manner? She certainly was surprised, and her surprise was not of themost pleasing nature--for where was the magic smile, the sentient blush,that ever ushers in and betrays every emotion of her ardent soul!Sweet being! whatever may be the sentiments which the departure of thesupposed unfortunate wanderer awakens in thy bosom, may that bosom stillcontinue the hallowed asylum of the dove of peace! May the pure heart itenshrines still throb to the best impulses of the happiest nature,and beat with the soft palpitation of innocent pleasure and guilelesstransport, veiled from the rude intercourse of that world to which thyelevated and sublime nature is so eminently superior; long amidst theshade of the venerable ruins of thy forefathers mayest thou bloom andflourish in undisturbed felicity! the ministering angel of thy poorcompatriots, who look up to thee for example and support--thy country’smuse, and the bright model of the genuine character of her daughters,when unvitiated by erroneous education and by those fatal prejudiceswhich lead them to seek in foreign refinements for those talents, thosegraces, those virtues which are no where to be found more flourishing,more attractive than in their native land.

  H. M.

 
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