ADVERTISEMENT

TO THE

ENGLISH READER


SOME friends who have seen Thady's history since it has been printed have suggested to the Editor, that many of the terms and idiomatic phrases with which it abounds could not be intelligible to the English reader without farther explanation. The Editor has therefore furnished the following Glossary.

Glossary

















[Monday Morning] Thady begins his Memoirs of the Rackrent Family by dating Monday morning, because no great undertaking can he auspiciously commenced in Ireland on any morning but Monday morning.—'Oh, please God we live till Monday morning, we'll set the slater to mend the roof of the house—On Monday morning we'll fall to and cut the turf—On Monday morning we'll see and begin mowing—On Monday morning, please your honor, we'll begin and dig the potatoes,' &c.

All the intermediate days between the making of such speeches and the ensuing Monday are wasted, and when Monday morning comes it is ten to one that the business is deferred to the next Monday morning. The Editor knew a gentleman who, to counteract this prejudice, made hia workmen and laborers begin all new pieces of work upon a Saturday.


















[Let alone the three kingdoms itself] Let alone, in this sentence, means put out of the consideration. This phrase let alone, which is now used as the imperative of a verb, may in time become a conjunction, and may exercise the ingenuity of some future etymologist. The celebrated Horne Tooke has proved most satisfactorily, that the conjunction but comes from the imperative of the Anglo-Saxon verb (beonutan) to be out; also that if comes from gif, the imperative of the Anglo-Saxon verb which signifies to give, &c. &c.










[Whillaluh] Ullaloo, Gol, or lamentation over the dead—
'Magnoque ululante tumultu.' Virgil.
. . . . . . . .'Ululatibus omne
Implevere nemus.' Ovid.
A full account of the Irish Gol or Ullaloo, and of the Caoinan or Irish funeral song, with its first semichorus, second semichorus, full chorus of sighs and groans, together with the Irish words and music, may be found in the fourth volume of the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. For the advantage of lazy readers, who would rather read a page than walk a yard, and from compassion, not to say sympathy with their infirmity, the Editor transcribes the following passages.

'The Irish have been always remarkable for their funeral lamentations, and this peculiarity has been noticed by almost every traveller who visited them. And it seems derived from their Celtic ancestors, the primaeval inhabitants of this isle. . . .'

'It has been affirmed of the Irish, that to cry was more natural to them than to any other nation, and at length the Irish cry became proverbial. . . .'

'Cambrensis in the twelfth century says, the Irish then musically expressed their griefs; that is, they applied the musical art, in which they excelled all others, to the orderly celebration of funeral obsequies, by dividing the mourners into two bodies, each alternately singing their part, and the whole at times joining in full chorus. . . . The body of the deceased, dressed in grave clothes and ornamented with flowers, was placed on a bier or some elevated spot. The relations and Keeners (singing mourners) ranged themselves in two divisions, one at the head and the other at the feet of the corpse. The bards and croteries had before prepared the funeral Caoinan. The chief bard of the head chorus began by singing the first stanza in a low, doleful tone, which was softly accompanied by the harp: at the conclusion the foot semichorus began the lamentation, or Ullalon, from the final note of the preceding stanza, in which they were answered by the head semichorus; then both united in one general chorus. The chorus of the first stanza being ended, the chief bard of the foot semichorus began the second Gol or lamentation, in which they were answered by that of the head; and then as before both united in the general full chorus. Thus alternately were the song and chorusses performed during the night. The genealogy, rank, possessions, the virtues and vices of the dead were rehearsed, and a number of interrogations were addressed to the deceased: as, Why did he die? If married, whether his wife was faithful to him, his sons dutiful, or good hunters or warriors? If a woman, whether her daughters were fair or chaste? If a young man, whether he had been crossed in love? or if the blue-eyed maids of Erin treated him with scorn?'

We are told that formerly the feet (the metrical feet) of the Caninan were much attended to, but on the decline of the Irish bards these feet were gradually neglected, the Caninan fell into a sort of slip-shod metre amongst women. Each province had different Caoinans, or at least different imitations of the original. There was the Munster cry, the Ulster cry, &c. It became an extempore performance, and every set of Keeners varied the melody according to their own fancy.

It is curious to observe how customs and ceremonies degenerate. The present Irish cry or howl cannot boast of much melody, nor is the funeral procession conducted with much dignity. The crowd of people who assemble at these funerals sometimes amounts to a thousand, often to four or five hundred. They gather as the bearers of the hearse proceed on their way, and when they pass through any village, or when they come near any houses, they begin to cry—Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Agh! Agh! raising their notes from the first Oh! to the last Agh! in a kind of mournful howl. This gives notice to the inhabitants of the village that a funeral is passing, and immediately they flock out to follow it. In the province of Munster it is a common thing for the women to follow a funeral, to join in the universal cry with all their might and main for some time, and then to turn and ask— 'Arrah! who is it that's dead ?—who is it we're crying for ?'—Even the poorest people have their own burying-places, that is, spots of ground in the church-yards, where they say that their ancestors have been buried ever since the wars of Ireland: and if these burial-places are ten miles from the place where a man dies, his friends and neighbours take care to carry his corpse thither. Always one priest, often five or six priests, attend these funerals; each priest repeats a mass, for which he is paid sometimes a shilling, sometimes half a crown, sometimes half a guinea, or a guinea, according to the circumstances, or as they say, according to the ability of the deceased. After the burial of any very poor man who has left a widow or children, the priest makes what is called a collection for the widow; he goes round to every person present, and each contributes sixpence or a shilling, or what they please. The reader will find in the note upon the word Wake more particulars respecting the conclusion of the Irish funerals.

Certain old women, who cry particularly loud and well, are in great request, and, as a man said to the Editor, 'Every one would wish and be proud to have such at his funeral, or at that of his friends.' The lower Irish are wonderfully eager to attend the funerals of their friends and relations, and they make their relationships branch out to a great extent. The proof that a poor man has been well beloved during his life, is his having a crowded funeral. To attend a neighbour's funeral is a cheap proof of humanity, but it does not, as some imagine, cost nothing. The time spent in attending funerals may be safely valued at half a million to the Irish nation: the Editor thinks that double that sum would not be too high an estimate. The habits of profligacy and drunkenness which are acquired at wakes are here put out of the question. When a labourer, a carpenter, or a smith is not at his work, which frequently happens, ask where he is gone, and ten to one the answer is—'Oh faith, please your honor, he couldn't do a stroke to-day, for he's gone to the funeral.'

Even beggars, when they grow old, go about begging for their own funerals; that is, begging for money to buy a coffin, candles, pipes and tobacco.—For the use of the candles, pipes and tobacco, see Wake.

Those who value customs in proportion to their antiquity, and nations in proportion to their adherence to antient customs, will doubtless admire the Irish Ullaloo, and the Irish nation, for persevering in this usage from time immemorial. The Editor, however, has observed some alarming symptoms, which seem to prognosticate the declining taste for the UlIaloo in Ireland. In a comic theatrical entertainment represented not long since on the Dublin stage, a chorus of old women was introduced, who set up the Irish howl round the relics of a physician, who is supposed to have fallen under the wooden sword of Harlequin. After the old women have continued their Ullaloo for a decent time, with all the neceasary accompaniments of wringing their hands, wiping or rubbing their eyes with the corners of their gowns or aprons, &c. one of the mourners suddenly suspends her lamentable cries, and turning to her neighbour, asks—'Arrah now, honey, who is it we're crying for?'


















[The tenants were sent away without their whiskey] It is usual with some landlords to give their inferior tenants a glass of whiskey when they pay their rents. Thady calls it their whiskey; not that the whiskey is actually the property of the tenants, but that it becomes their right, after it has been often given to them. In this general mode of reasoning respecting rights, the lower Irish are not singular, but they are peculiarly quick and tenacious in claiming these rights.—'Last year your honor gave me some straw for the roof of my house, and I expect your honor will be after doing the same this year.'—In this manner gifts are frequently turned into tributes. The high and low are not always dissimilar in their habits. It is said that the Sublime Ottoman Porte is very apt to claim gifts as tributes: thus it is dangerous to send the Grand Seignor a fine horse on his birth-day one year, lest on his next birth-day he should expect a similar present, and should proceed to demonstrate the reasonableness of his expectations.


















[He demeaned himself greatly] Means, he lowered, or disgraced himself much.


















[Duty fowls—and duty turkies—and duty geese] In many leases in Ireland, tenants were formerly bound to supply an inordinate quantity of poultry to their landlords. The Editor knew of sixty turkies being reserved in one lease of a small farm.


















[English tenants] An English tenant does not mean a tenant who is an Englishman, but a tenant who pays his rent the day that it is due. It is a common prejudice in Ireland, amongst the poorer classes of people, to believe that all tenants in England pay their rents on the very day when they become due. An Irishman, when he goes to take a farm, if he wants to prove to his landlord that he is a substantial man, offers to become an Engfish tenant. If a tenant disobliges his landlord by voting against him, or against his opinion, at an election, the tenant is immediately informed by the agent that he must become an English tenant. This threat does not imply that he is to change his language or his country, but that he must pay all the arrear of rent which he owes, and that he must thenceforward pay his rent on the day when it becomes due.


















[Canting] Canting does not mean talking or writing hypocritical nonsense but selling substantially by auction.
















[Duty work] It was formerly common in Ireland to insert clauses in leases, binding tenants to furnish their landlords with laborers and horses for several days in the year. Much petty tyranny snd oppression have resulted from this feudal custom. Whenever a poor man disobliged his landlord, the agent sent to him for his duty work, and Thady does not exaggerate when he says, that the tenants were often called from their own work to do that of their landlord. Thus the very means of earning their rent were taken from them: whilst they were getting home their landlord's harvest, their own was often ruined, and yet their rents were expected to be paid as punctually as if their time had been at their own disposal. This appears the height of absurd injustice.

In Esthonia, amongst the poor Sclavonian race of peasant slaves, they pay tributes to their lords, not under the name of duty work, duty geese, duty turkies, &c. but under the name of righteousnesses. The following ballad is a curious specimen of Estonian poetry:

This is the cause that the country is ruined,
And the straw of the rhatch is eaten away,
The gentry are come to live in the land—
Chimneys between the village,
And the proprietor upon the white floor!
The sheep brings forth a lamb with a white forehead;
This is paid to the lord for a righteousness sheep.
The sow farrows pigs, They go to the spit of the lord.
The hen lays eggs,
They go into the lord's frying-pan.
The cow drops a male calf,
That goes into the lord's herd as a bull.
The mare foals a horse foal,
That must be for my lord's nag.
The boor's wife has sons,
They must go to look after my lord's poultry.

















[Out of forty-nine suits which he had, he never lost one—but seventeen] Thady's language in this instance is a specimen of a mode of rhetoric common in Ireland. An astonishing assertion is made in the beginning of a sentence, which ceases to be in the least surprising when you hear the qualifying explanation that follows. Thus a man who is in the last stage of staggering drunkenness will, if he can articulate, swear to you—'Upon his conscience now (and may he never stir from the spot alive if he is telling a lie) upon his conscience he has not tasted a drop of any thing, good or bad, since morning at-all-at-all—but half a pint of whiskey, please your honor.'


















[Fairy Mounts] Barrows. It is said that these high mounts were of great service to the natives of Ireland, when Ireland was invaded by the Danes. Watch was always kept on them, and upon the approach of an enemy a fire was lighted to give notice to the next watch, and thus the intelligence was quickly communicated through the country. Some years ago, the common people believed that these Barrows were inhabited by fairies, or as they call them, by the good people.—'Oh troth, to the best of my belief, and to the best of my judgment and opinion, (said an elderly man to the Editor) it was only the old people that had nothing to do, and got together and were telling stories about them fairies, but to the best of my judgment there's nothing in it.—Only this I heard myself not very many years back, from a decent kind of a man, a grazier, that as he was coming just fair and easy (quietly) from the fair, with some cattle and sheep that he had not sold, just at the church of ———, at an angle of the road like, he was met by a good looking man, who asked him where was he going? And he answered, "Oh, far enough, I must be going all night."—"No, that you mustn't nor won't (says the man), you'll sleep with me the night, and you'll want for nothing, nor your cattle nor sheep neither, nor your beast (horse); so come along with me."—With that the grazier lit (alighted) from his horse, and it was dark night; but presently he finds himself, he does not know in the wide world how, in a fine house, and plenty of every thing to eat and drink—nothing at all wanting that he could wish for or think of—And he does not mind (recollect, or know) how at last he falls asleep; and in the morning he finds himself lying, not in ever a bed or a house at all, but just in the angle of the road where first he met the strange man: there he finds bimself lying on his back on the grass, and all his sheep feeding as quiet as ever all round about him, and his horse the same way, and the bridle of the beast over his wrist. And I asked him what he thought of it, and from first to last he could think of nothing but for certain sure it must have been the fairies that entertained him so well. For there was no house to see any where nigh hand, or any building, or barn, or place at all, but only the church and the mote (barrow). There's another odd thing enough that they tell about this same church, that if any person's corpse, that had not a right to be buried in that church-yard, went to be burying there in it, no not all the men, women, or childer in all Ireland could get the corpse any way into the church-yard; but as they would be trying to go into the church-yard, their feet would seem to be going backwards instead of forwards; aye, continually backwards the whole funeral would seem to go; and they would never set foot with the corpse in the church-yard. Now they say, that it is the fairies do all this; but it is my opinion it is all idle talk, and people are after being wiser now.'

The country people in Ireland certainly had great admiration mixed with reverence, if not dread of fairies. They believed, that beneath these fairy mounts were spacious subterraneous palaces inhabited by the good people, who must not on any account be disturbed. When the wind raises a little eddy of dust upon the road, the poor people believe that it is raised by the fairies, that it is a sign that they are journeying from one of the fairy mounts to another, and they say to the fairies, or to the dust as it passes—'God speed ye, gentlemen, God speed ye.' This averts any evil that the good people might be inclined to do them. There are innumerable stories told of the friendly and unfriendly feats of these busy fairies; some of these tales are ludicrous, and some romantic enough for poetry. It isa pity that poets should lose such convenient, though diminutive machinery.—By the by, Parnell, who shewed himself so deeply 'skilled of faerie lore,' was an Irishman; and though he has presented his faeries to the world in the ancient English dress of 'Britain's Isle, and Arthur's days,' it is probable that his first acquaintance with them began in his native country.

Some remote origin for the most superstitious or romantic popular illusions or vulgar errors may often be discovered. In Ireland, the old churches and church-yards have been usually fixed upon as the scenes of wonders. Now the antiquarians tell us, that near the ancient churches in that kingdom caves of various constructions have from time to time been discovered, which were formerly used as granaries or magazines by the ancient inhabitants, and as places to which they retreated in time of danger. There is (p. 84 of the R. I. A. Transactions for 1789) a particular account of a number of these artificial caves at the West end of the church of Killossy, in the county of Kildare. Under a rising ground, in a dry sandy soil, these subterraneous dwellings were found: they have pediment roofs, and they communicate with each other by small apertures. In the Brehon laws these see mentioned, and there are fines inflicted by those laws upon persons who steal from the subterraneous granaries. All these things shew, that there was a real foundation for the stories which were told of the appearance of lights and of the sounds of voices near these places. The persons who had property concealed there very willingly countenanced every wonderful relation that tended to make these places objects of sacred awe or superstitious terror.


















[Weed-ashes] By antient usage in Ireland, all the weeds on a farm belonged to the farmer's wife, or to the wife of the squire who holds the ground in his own hands. The great demand for alkaline salts in bleaching rendered these ashes no inconsiderable perquisite.
















[Sealing-money] Formerly it was the custom in Ireland for tenants to give the squire's lady from two to fifty guineas as a perquisite upon the sealing of their leases. The Editor not very long since knew of a baronet's lady accepting fifty guineas as sealing money, upon closing a bargain for a considerable farm.
















[Sir Murtagh grew mad] Sir Murtagh grew angry.
















[The whole kitchen was out on the stairs] Means that all the inhabitants of the kitchen came out of the kitchen and stood upon the stairs. These, and simliar expressions, shew how much the Irish are disposed to metaphor and amplification.
















[Firing down the yearly rent] When an Irish gentleman, like Sir Kit Rackrent, has lived beyond his income, and finds himself distressed for want of ready money, tenants obligingly offer to take his land at a rent far below the value, and to pay him a small sum of money in hand, which they call fining down the yearly rent. The temptation of this ready cash often blinds the landlord to his future interest.
















[Driver] A man wbo is employed to drive tenants for rent; that is, to drive the cattle belonging to tenants to pound. The office of driver is by no means a sinecure.
















[I thought to make him a priest] It wsa customary amongst those of Thady's rank, in Ireland, whenever they could get a little money, to send their sons abroad to St. Omer's, or to Spain, to be educated as priests. Now they are educated at Maynooth. The Editor has lately known a young lad, who began by being a post-boy, afterwards tum into a carpenter; then quit his plane and work-bench to study his Humanities, as he said, at the college of Maynooth: but after he had gone through his course of Humanities, he determined to be a soldier instead of a priest.
















[Flam] Short for flambeau.
















[Barrack room] Formerly it was customary, in gentlemen's houses in Ireland, to fit up one large bed-chamber with a number of beds for the reception of occasional visitors. These rooms were called Barrack rooms.
















[An innocent] in Ireland, means a simpleton, an idiot.
















[The Curragh] is the Newmarket of Ireland.
















[The Cant] The auction.
















[And so should cut him off for ever, by levying a fine, and suffering a recovery to dock the entail] The English reader may perhaps be surprised at the extent of Thady's legal knowledge, and at the fluency with which he pours forth law terms; but almost every poor man in Ireland, be he farmer, weaver, shopkeeper, or steward, is, beside his other occupations, occasionally a lawyer. The nature of processes, ejectments, custodiams, injunctions, replevins, &c. &c. are perfectly known to them, and the terms are as familiar to then as to any attorney. They all love law. It is a kind of lottery, in which every man, staking his own wit or cunning against his richer neighbour's property, feels that be has little to lose and much to gain.

'I'll have the law of you, so I will !'—is the saying of an Englishman who expects justice. 'I'll have you before his honor'—is the threat of an Irishman who hopes for partiality. Miserable is the life of a justice of the peace in Ireland the day after a fair, especially if he resides near a small town. The multitude of the kilt (kilt does not mean killed, but hurt) and wounded who come before his honor with black eyes or bloody heads is astonishing, but more astonishing is the number of those, who, though they are scarcely able by daily labour to procure daily food, will nevertheless, without the least reluctance, waste six or seven hours of the day lounging in the yard or hall of a justice of the peace, waiting to make some complaint about—nothing. It is inpossible to convince them that time is money. They do not set any value upon their own tine, and they think that others estimate theirs at less than nothing. Hence they ake no scruple of telling a justice of the peace a story of an hour long about a tester (sixpence): and if he grow impatient, they attribute it to some seeret prejudice which he entertains against them.

Their method is to get a story completely by beset, and to tell it, as they call it, out of the face, that is, from the beginning to the end, without interruption.

'Well, my good friend, I have seen you lounging about these three hours in the yard; what is your business?'

'Please your honor, it is what I want to speak one word to your honor.'

'Speak then, but be quick—What is the matter?'

'Nothing strange—The matter, please your honor, is nothing at-all-at-all, only just about the grazing of a horse, please your honor, that this man here sold me at the fair of Gurtishannon last Shrove fair, which lay down three times with myself, please your honor, and kilt me; not to be telling your honor of how, no later back than yesterday night, he lay down in the house there within, and all the childer standing round, and it was God's mercy he did not fall a'-top of them, or into the fire to burn himself. So please your honor, to-day I took him back to this man, which owned him, and after a great deal to do I got the mare again I swopped (exchanged) him for; but he wont't pay the grazing of the horse for the time I had him, though he promised to pay the grazing in case the horse didn't answer; and he never did a day's work, good or bad, please your honor, all the time he was with me, and I had the doctor to him five times, any how. And so, please your honor, it is what I expect your honor will stand my friend, for I'd sooner come to your honor for justice than to any other in all Ireland. And so I brought him here before your honor, and expect your honor will make him pay me the grazing, or tell me, can I process him for it at the next assizes, please your honor?'

The defendant now, turning a quid of tobacco with his tongue into some secret cavern in his mouth, begins his defence with—

'Please your honor, under favor, and saving your honor's presence, there's not a word of truth in all this man has been saying from beginning to end, upon my conscience, and I wouldn't for the value of the horse itself, grazing and all, be after telling your honor a lie. For please your honor, I have a dependance upon your honor that you'll do me justice, and not be listening to him or the like of him. Please your honor, it's what he has brought me before your honor, because he had a spite against me about some oats I sold your honor, which he was jealous of, and a shawl his wife got at my shister's shop there without, and never paid for; so I offered to set the shawl ageinat the grazing, and give him a receipt in full of all demands, but he wouldn't out of spite, please your honor; so he brought me before your honor, expecting your honor was mad with me for cutting down the tree in the horse park, which was none of my doing, please your honor—ill luck to them that went and belied me to your honor behind my back!—So if your honor is pleasing, I'll tell you the whole truth about the horse that he swopped against my mare, out of the face.—Last Shrove fair I met this man, Jemmy Duffy, please your honor, just at the corner of the road where the bridge is broke down that your honor is to have the presentment for this year—long life to you for it!—And he was at that time coming from the fair of Gurtishannon, and I the same way. 'How are you, Jemmy?' says I.—'Very well, I thank ye kindly, Bryan,' says he; 'shall we turn back to paddy Salmon's, and take a naggin of whiskey to our better acquaintance ?'—'I don't care if I did, Jemmy,' says I; 'only it is what I can't take the whiskey, because I'm under an oath against it for a month.' Ever since, please your honor, the day your honor met me on the road, and observed to me I could hardly stand I had taken so much—though upon my conscience your honor wronged me greatly that same time—ill luck to them that belied me behind my back to your honor!—Well, please your honor, as I was telling you, as he was taking the whiskey, and we talking of one thing or t'other, he makes me an offer to swop his mare that he couldn't sell at the fair of Gurtishannon, because nobody would be troubled with the beast, please your honor, against my horse, and to oblige him I took the mare—sorrow take her! and him along with her !—She kicked me a new car, that was worth three pounds ten, to tatters the first time ever I put her into it, and I expect your honor will make him pay me the price of the car, any how, before I pay the grazing, which I've no right to pay at-all-at-all, only to oblige him.—But I leave it all to your honor—and the whole grazing he ought to be charging for the beast is but two and eight-pence half-penny, any how, please your honor. So I'll abide by what your honor says, good or bad. I'll leave it all to your honor.'

I'll leave it all to your honor—literally means, I'll leave all the trouble to your honor.

The Editor knew a justice of the peace in Ireland, who had such a dread of having it all left to his honor, that he frequently gave the complainants the sum about which they were disputing to make peace between them, and to get rid of the trouble of hearing their stories out of the face. But he was soon cured of this method of buying off disputes, by the increasing multitude of those who, out of pure regard to his honor, came 'to get justice from him, because they would sooner come before him than before any man in all lreland.'


















[A raking pot of tea] We should observe, that this custom has long since been banished from the higher orders of Irish gentry. The mysteries of a raking pot of tea, like those of the Bona Dea, are supposed to be sacred to females, but now and then it has happened that some of the male species, who were either more audacious or more highly favored tban the rest of their sex, have been admitted by stealth to these orgies. The time when the festive ceremony begins varies according to circumstancea, but it is never earlier than twelve o'clock at night; the joys of a raking pot of tea depending on its being made in secret, and at an unseasonable hour. After a ball, when the more discreet part of tbe company had departed to rest, a few chosen female spirits, who have footed it till they can foot it no longer, and till the sleepy notes expire under the slurring hand of the musician, retire to a bed-chamber, call the favorite maid, who alone is admitted, bid her put down the kettle, lock the door, and amidst as much giggling and scrambling as possible, they get round a tea-table on which all manner of things are huddled together. Then begin mutual railleries and mutual confidences amongst the young ladies, and the faint scream and the loud laugh Is heard, and the romping for letters and pocket-books begins, and gentlemen are called by their surnames, or by the general name of fellows—pleasant fellows! charming fellows! odious fellows! abominable fellows!—and then all prudish decorums are forgotten, and then we might be convinced how much the satytical poet was mistaken when he said,
'There is no woman where there is no reserve.'
The merit of the original idea of a raking pot of tea evidently belongs to the washerwornan and the laundry-maid. But why should not we have Low life above stairs, as well as High life below stairs?


















[Carton, or half Carton] Thady means cartron or half cartron. 'According to the old record in the black book of Dublin, a cantred is said to contain 30 villatas terras, which are also called quarters of land (quarterons, cartrons); every one of which quarters must contain so much ground as will pasture 400 cows and 17 plough-lands. A knight's fee was composed of 8 hydes, which amount to 160 acres, and that is generally deemed about a plough-land.'

The Editor was favored by a learned friend with the above Extract, from a MS. of Lord Totness's in the Lambeth library.


















[ Wake] A wake, in England, means a festival held upon the anniversary of the Saint of the parish. At these wakes rustic games, rustic conviviality, and rustic courtship, are pursued with all the ardour and all the appetite, which accompany such pleasures as occur but seldom.—In Ireland a wake is a midnight meeting, held professedly for the indulgence of holy sorrow, but usually it is converted into orgies of unholy joy. When an Irish man or woman of the lower order dies, the straw which composed his bed, whether it has been contained in a bag to form a mattress, or simply spread upon the earthen floor, is immediately taken out of the house, and burned before the cabin door, the family at the same time setting up the death howl. The ears and eyes of the neighbours being thus alarmed, they flock to the house of the deceased, and by their vociferous sympathy excite and at the same time sooth the sorrows of the family.

It is curious to observe how good and bad are mingled in human institutions. In countries which were thinly inhabited, this custom prevented private attempts against the lives of individuals, and formed a kind of Coroner's inquest upon the body which had recently expired, and burning the straw upon which the sick man lay became a simple preservative against infection. At night the dead body is waked, that is to say, all the friends and neighbours of the deceased collect in a barn or stable, where the corpse is laid upon some boards, or an unhinged door supported upon stools, the face exposed, the rest of the body covered with a white sheet. Round the body are stuck in brass candlesticks, which have been borrowed perhaps at five miles distance, as many candles as the poor person can beg or borrow, observing always to have an odd number. Pipes and tobacco are first distributed, and then according to the ability of the deceased, cakes and ale, and sometimes whiskey, are dealt to the company.

'Deal on, deal on, my merry men all,
. . Deal on your cakes and your wine,
For whatever is dealt at her funeral to-day
. . Shall he dealt to-morrow at mine.'
After a fit of universal sorrow, and the comfort of a universal dram, the scandal of the neighbourhood, as in higher circles, occupy the company. The young lads and lasses romp with one another, and when the fathers and mothers are at last overcome with sleep and whiskey, (vino & somno) the youth become more enterprizing and are frequently successful. It is said that more matches are made at wakes than at weddings.


















[Kilt] This word frequently occurs in the following pages, where it means not killed, but much hurt. In Ireland, not only cowards, but the brave 'die many times before their death'. There Killing is no murder.