HAD WE to rehearse a story woven out of our own brains, imagination, unable or unwilling to
recognize any plausibility in the stem truths of real life, would, perhaps, have rejected the sudden
catastrophe of the last chapter; and, even allowing John and Letty finally to commit crime, have
invented some more gradual progress to it. The lovers of beautiful fiction may exclaim against
their fall at the very moment when they had braced themselves in virtue, and only met to prove to
each other how straight and how firmly they could walk their path. But human nature, such as it
is known to those who study it, must be an appeal from possible censure in this instance.
Temptations that have long borne hard, and often made a distinct, though unwelcomed
impression, are not to be set at bay by any other means than total estrangement from the object or
opportunity that has set them on. In the presence of that object or opportunity, WILL, however
previously made up and determined, may, in one second, be dethroned and trampled down. We
prose, or we sermonize; but, in illustration of the oft-repeated, though oft-forgotten theory,
cannot the sagest reader recollect any slight case in which he has made the identical slip he had
spent much preparation to avoid? Crime is not meant; the most trivial counteraction of "re-
resolved" reason, by a momentary pressure of old temptation, will suffice—indeed, more than
suffice;—for, as it is ordained that the greater the sin the greater shall be the temptation to
commit it; and, as in the instance recorded, the sin and the passion accordingly balanced each
other so, if but an ordinary infatuation has overthrown the wisest plans of the wisest reader, an
extraordinary one must have had equal power, more power, over the best resolves of this poor
boy and girl.
At the utmost speed the unhappy young pair were whirled in the post-chaise to Nenagh. We
believe Letty was half sensible of being lifted by John into the vehicle; but she made no
resistance; she even showed no consciousness. He held her in his circling arms as they now sat
together; still she remained passive and motionless; her head hanging towards the corner of the
chaise, or falling on his shoulder. Night closed; he could not see her; and yet she stirred not. It
suddenly struck him that she was dead; but he did not start at the thought; nor call out to stop the
chaise; nor utter a cry; the wretched youth only smiled to himself. His feeling could not be
understood, were it even well-defined; it is left then, in the darkness and confusion that gave it
Thus, without moving or speaking, they gained Nenagh. The horn of a night coach was heard
coming to the inn door. The driver told him he could have two seats for Dublin, and asked should
he change his luggage from the chaise. John calmly answered him. The man re-appeared, saying
the coach was about to start, and offering his assistance to remove the lady. John fiercely turned
from him, caught her up suddenly and unassisted, and with some difficulty, removed her
"Is the lady very sick, Sir?" enquired a surly old gentleman, as, after much squeezing among
well-wrapt knees, broad shoulders, elbows squared, and heads wearing white nightcaps, John
placed her in the corner of a "six-inside."
"Very, Sir;" imagining he answered a commiserating person.
"Then wouldn't it be more comfortable to you and her, Sir, to travel alone, than for us to travel
with you?" continued the man.
"Answer your question your own way, Sir," growled John Nowlan.
"Guard!" cried the knowing stage-coacher, thrusting his head out at the window. The moving
woolsack appeared at the door.
"Do you mean that I am to travel in your coach to Dublin, with a sick and dying body cheek by
jowl with me?"
"Rascal!" exclaimed John, and was starting from his seat to seize the old barbarian, when, to his
utter surprise—horror—Letty roused herself— caught his arm, and said, scarcely
articulate—"I am not very ill, Sir; I am only—only "—and burst into tears.
Even the crabbed selfishness of a cruel-hearted old man melted at her voice and her sorrow;
apologies were instantly made to John and her; the pert voices of two younger passengers broke
out in assurances of satisfaction and good wishes; the guard disappeared to his place, the horn
sounded, the driver's whip cracked, and John proceeded on his journey, half-thinking, even amid
the chaos within him—" So this is our first welcome among mankind."
After Letty had spoken, she sank back in the corner of the coach, covering her face, although it
was pitch-dark, with some loose drapery; and did not utter another word during the remainder of
the journey: nor did John once address her. He did not now even hold her in his arms: and she
seemed to shrink ftom his touch.
The night, the dreary, horrible night wore on, unnoticed and uncared for. Without weariness,
without a tear, without a thought, John sat by the side of his poor partner in guilt, in misery, and
in despair. If, as his unwinking eyes strained through the blank at the window, perception
brought, now and then, a notice of any thing to his mind, it was only to encourage the mood that
was upon him. The howling of the midnight wind over the black bogs of Tipperary; the gusty
beating of the rain against the glass; the feeble glimmering of lanterns at the doors of miserable
inns or cabins, as the coach stopped to change horses, and the miserable, half-dressed, ghost-like,
figures, roused out of their sleep, who vaguely appeared and disappeared in the dreary light and
engulphing darkness; such circumstances or sights, if at all observed by John Nowlan, could only
tend to answer, in an outward prospect, the inward horror of his soul.
When the first ray of grey dawn entered the coach windows, he found himself pulling his hat
over his eyes; then glancing at Letty's face, which was still covered, and then fearfully around
him, into the faces of the other passengers:—and thought of her, because for her, now at last
began to break his trance, and, folding his arms hard, he fell back in his seat.
The two younger passengers awoke, yawning, shrugging, and pulling off, one a night-cap, the
other a smart fur-cap; and turned to him and Letty, expressing hopes that they had found
themselves comfortable during the night. John scarcely answered, Letty did not breathe. They
spoke to each other of causes pending in Chancery and the Common-pleas and the King's-
Bench; and of "latitats," writs, declarations, pleas, plaintiffs and defendants plainly indicating, to
any one that would pay attention, that they were two rising young attornies from Limerick, going
up to term: but our poor friends were still abstracted, and the surly old fellow was still asleep, or,
the better to avoid any talk of his former rudeness, pretended to be so. They changed the topic,
and—in the acceptation of the term among young Limerick attornies who knew town—waxed
witty: evidently exhibiting, with a polite intent, to interest the lady whose face they could not see.
Practical joking, (now that people began to pass along the road) which, to any one that can enjoy
it, is the life of an Irish stage, went on among those of their friends and acquaintances who, as
they expressed it, had "endorsed the coach," and they contributed as much as they could: still no
one but themselves took the least notice of their cleverness. John scarce heard or heeded any
thing; or, if he did hear and heed, it was only to loathe it. Even tranquil, rational happiness he
would have loathed; and how must he have felt affected by mere trifling? The chastest wit would
have played round him in vain; how must he have relished buffoonery?
The coach entered Dublin. Streets and high houses closed around him; other night-coaches
passed him coming in from the country; or day-coaches whisked by starting from town. In the
trading and manufacturing district of the metropolis by which he entered, that of James-street and
Thomas- street, groups of "operatives" were already in motion towards the places of their daily
occupation; the early cries were sung or screamed aloud; carts, drays, and such vehicles ground
their way over the stones; from different public-houses, the voices of very late or very early
tipplers now and then came in vehement accents; every thing gave him the novel sensation of a
morning in a great city. To the young person who, for the first time, experiences such a
sensation, it brings—no matter how calm may be his mind and breast, how certain and soothing
his prospects—depression rather than excitement; a bleak strangeness seems around him: he
doubts and shrinks more than he admires or wonders; he is in a solitude, unlike the remote
solitudes he has quitted; in solitude with men, not nature; without the face of nature to cheer him.
But, added to this common depression, John Nowlan felt remorse for the past, despair of the
present, terror of the future. First—his distracted speculations only made on his own
account,—he saw himself sunk in crime, an outcast among men, poor, hopeless, helpless;—his
eye glanced to Letty, and he started to find his thoughts occupied without her; he shuddered to
behold her at his side; to behold her torn by him from rank, name, and affluence, and dependent
on him, alone, for future protection, for mere existence; on him who was unable to protect
himself; who had no earthly means of shielding his own outcast head from poverty, shame, ruin;
and who dared not now even call on God to interpose between him and his crime and
The passengers left the coach, and the waiter often invited him to descend before John heard or
understood the request. Still he was obliged to take Letty in his arms into the hotel: she appeared
almost as helpless as ever. The young attornies and the cross old gentleman eyed him and her
ftom top to toe, as he bore her through the hall; and, had his observation been acute, he might
have seen many a leer and grimace upon their features, as well as those of the waiters, called up
by his clerical dress, primitive air, and questionable situation. Again the waiters winked at each
other as, in a tone that showed little of the self-confidence of an experienced traveller, he
requested a bedchamber for the lady. A female attendant appeared, however; Letty retired with
her; and then John rapidly left the Royal Hibernian hotel, Dawson-street, in prosecution of some
plans he had calmly, as he thought, within the last few hours, determined upon. Turning down
Grafton-street into College Green, and thence over Carlisle Bridge into Sackville-street, he gazed
from house to house, only anxious to find open shops of a particular kind, and uninterested by
the fine city prospect about him, indeed unconscious of it. Few shops of any kind were, however,
yet opened; and for nearly two hours he walked about the streets, awaiting the leisure of the
Dublin shopmen and apprentices, who had no motive to leave their well-esteemed beds before
the hour prescribed by their masters. At last they began to take down their window-shutters, and
John entered a ready-made clothes shop; purchased a suit that did not show a bit of black; put it
on in the back parlour, into which, at his request, the young man had ushered him, and walked
out among the awaking crowds of Dublin, so far disguised from their most dreaded scrutiny.
Beautifully closing the perspective of Sackville-street, he saw the steeple of George's Church; he
knew it must belong to a Protestant place of worship and, in furtherance of his most important
plan, John hastily walked towards it. Arriving before the church, (a little architectural gem,) he
proceeded to make enquiries for the residence of the clergyman, which he supposed must be in
the neighbourhood; and, after much trouble, was at last directed to his house.
At his request for an interview upon particular business, an amiable old gentleman appeared. In a
few words, which sounded with a startling abruptness and energy, he stated that between himself
and a young lady, his companion in town, crime and misery had taken place: that they were
obliged to fly from their friends in the country, had arrived in Dublin that morning, and now
besought the clergyman to confer upon them the only consolation their sorrow and remorse could
admit; to marry them. After some questions that evinced a due sympathy in the case, the
clergyman said he should but attend, with all despatch, to the necessary preliminaries, and at
once meet his request. John's face showed the only gleam of relief that had lately visited it. He
pressed the old gentleman to name an hour; "Twelve o'clock," he answered. "Could it not be
sooner?" Impossible. "Well, he was most thankful;" and he rose to take his leave, without
naming a place of meeting. The clergyman now spoke of seeing him and his lady in the church.
John clasped his hands, and begged him not to insist on that; the poor young lady was too ill, she
could not stir out. The clergyman paused; but, with a benevolent smile, said he would, in that
case, call at the hotel; and his suitor, eloquent in thanks, left the house.
"It is the only step I can now take," thought John, as he walked rapidly through street after street,
he did not know where,—"the only one: she is a Protestant, and this will help to bring her to
some peace with herself; it will give some little relief, no matter how little. According to her
creed, my vows can form no bar; and even the laws of the land make it a good marriage. As for
myself, and my own creed and obligations, why, it is but heaping blasphemy upon blasphemy,
sacrilege upon sacrilege. Well, no matter about me; I have destroyed her, and the least
satisfaction I can offer is my own destruction at her feet; and I am bound to cheer her present
despair, and to guard her future lot, by any means, earth, heaven, or hell, can suggest. I have
chosen my fate; I have made it, and it must be gone through; it shall be gone through: from this
hour let me be as forgotten by myself, as I am shaken off by the world; let me live and die only
for her; suffer and perish here, and for ever, so I but help her to a consolation. Come, there are
other things to do; come, come, no drooping, no tardiness, no neglect of a moment."
It was but nine o'clock: he had to wait three hours err he could meet Letty with the clergyman,
and without him he dared not meet her; to that resolution he had tied down his soul. But she must
not be left uninformed about him, in the mean time. So he strove to retrace his steps into the
more bustling parts of the town; enquired his way to a tavern, called for breakfast, of which he
could not touch a mouthful; seized a sheet of paper, wrote her a line, saying, that he was engaged
on business which concerned them both, and which would not allow him to wait on her till noon;
sent it by a messenger procured by the waiter; paid for the untouched breakfast, and once more
sallied forth into the streets.
To a goldsmith's shop John next bent his steps, and asked for a wedding-ring. The man enquired
the size; John recollected the ring he had so long worn round his neck, and so lately returned,
selected one that he believed was about its compass, purchased it, together with its guard, clasped
both in his palm, and amid the titters of the shopman and his boys, hurried out.
More than two hours were yet to elapse, before he could face towards the hotel. Again he
wandered, he did not know nor care whither. Passing through a private street, a person, he
thought he should recognise, stopped at a hall-door opposite to him, and knocked. Another look
convinced him; it was, indeed, his old reverend friend and relative, Mr. Kennedy. While he
looked, and as the door opened, the clergyman started and glanced towards him. John felt as if
cleft by a thunderbolt. His face turned down, he expected every instant the approach of his old
guide and patron; but it seemed that Mr. Kennedy refused to believe the suggestion of John's
identity, which his first glance and start intimated; the changed dress, the unlikely situation, must
have baffled him, for the door sounded as if heavily shut to. John ventured to peep up; the
clergyman had retired into the house. He turned, walked a few steps very slowly, gained the
corner of a cross street, there began to run forward with all his speed, got into other streets, still
more private and silent, without knowing it, upon the Circular Road, thence into the Phoenix
Park, and under shelter of a clump of trees, there cast himself upon the grass.
It would be superfluous to display his feelings; every reader will comprehend them. He was
roused from his trance by a near clock striking eleven, and the chimes for a quarter. Starting up,
and examining his watch, he saw, indeed, he had but three quarters of an hour to get to the hotel,
and keep his most important appointment. He staggered to the gate of the park, enquiring his way
to Dawson-street. The people told him he was very far away from it. Again he ran along the
Circular Road; found himself in the town; turned into street after street, without asking any
proper direction, or without thinking of a hackney coach: as he rushed by a stand of them,
however, a Dublin jarvey hailed him, and after some trouble made him understand the nature of
the service offered. John gladly bounded into the crazy machine; gained the steps of his hotel a
few minutes before twelve; looked up and down the street for the clergyman; precisely at the
appointed moment saw him approach; accompanied him into a waiting-room, and then, pausing
to compose himself, slowly ascended to Letty's chamber.
He tapped at her door; no voice sounded in answer: he tapped again, all was silent: seizing the
handle in much alarm, he entered, and, at the remote end of a large apartment, saw her kneeling,
her back turned, in earnest prayer. He started, and stood motionless. Letty did not seem aware of
his presence, but, her hands clasped, and her head raised, continued to pray. Still John stood
without moving; without a loud breath; but he shook from top to toe and, his feelings at last
exhausting him, he staggered against the wall. Then she looked round, and, seeing him, buried
her face in the bed. He manned himself, stept softly towards her, gently took her hand, placed in
it the wedding-ring, and in a solemn tone said, "The Protestant clergyman is in
She looked at the ring, again hid her face, groaned dolefully, but, in a few seconds, rose up,
snatched a white veil that lay near her, threw it over her head and neck, and, without venturing a
glance at John, took his arm, and walked with him to the waiting-room.
The moment the door opened she curtsied, profoundly and lowlily, not raising her eyes from the
ground, and advanced with John into the middle of the floor, both scarce able to move. The good
clergyman, fully understanding the scene, spoke only few words, and those few of the gentlest
accents, but at once opened his book, and performed the marriage service; his servant standing by
as a witness. John and Letty did not know the ceremony was over, when, taking their hands, he
caused them to confront each other, as he said, "Salute one another, my poor children; wife,
behold your husband; husband, behold your wife."
Letty at last looked up, pale, shivering, and in blinding tears; she saw John stand with extended
arms: shrieking, she cast herself upon his neck, and was clasped to his despairing heart, and their
united sobs were soon echoed by the clergyman: until, as he tried to lead the sinking girl to a
seat, she dropped, fainting, at her husband's feet.
When recalled to her senses, the former scene was renewed. The poor young pair again clung to
each other, sobbing aloud, and continuing to pour forth the first shower of blessed tears that had
come to melt the hardness of their sorrow. Now and then Letty murmured, "I knew it—I
expected it.—I knew you would immolate yourself, John, to your wretched Letty.—I knew I
was to be your ruin!"—and he only replied—"My joy! my only joy and hope, you
mean!—my only life—my pride—my own Letty—my wife! my wife, dearly loved, and
honoured for ever!"
The clergyman, again taking their hands, withdrew. Hours lapsed while they still remained
weeping in each other's arms. It was a miserably happy nuptial day; a day and evening of
delightful anguish; of terrible enjoyment. She clung to him, now in a sense of virtue somewhat
restored, as her sole earthly good;—all other good—every one and every thing lost for him;
and a hope of the future, by his side, springing up in her heart: he clung to her with a conscience
unrelieved, a remorse unsoothed, a future uncalculated or dreaded, and yet with a surpassing pity
and love, an oblivion of self that humanized even the black visage of despair, and made him
determined, if not content, to think this world and the next "well lost" upon her bosom. He felt
the joy of frenzy, the secret of despair, that sends the poor suicide to the bed destined to be
drenched in his blood, smiling upon the hard-crammed pistol, which, at a certain hour, is to give
him his supposed triumph over misery.