William Carleton.

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William Carleton

Author of " The Colleen Baton," " Traits and Stories of the

Irish Peasantry" " The Fawn of Springvale" " The Squanders

of Castle Squander" " Fardarougha tht Miser,"







WILLIAM Carleton, the unrivalled delineator of the
habits and character of his countrymen, was born at
Prillisk, in the county of Tyrone, in the year 1798. His
father was a small farmer. Both father and mother were
persons of greatly superior mind ; and although not highly
educated they were better informed than most of their
class, and were rich in natural endowments, so that the
son had considerable privileges, both in the matter of
mental inheritance and early associations. The father was
endowed with such a marvellous memory, that it is said he
could repeat the greater part of the bible by heart. He
was also a walking repertory of legendary lore, and could
tell tales from year's end to year's end. His mother was
noted for her beautiful voice, and talent in the realms of song.

William was intended for a priest, and had begun the
preliminary studies required to fit him for entering May-
nooth. At this critical period of his early career, his father
died, and immediately the son abandoned all thought of
the church ; which would make it appear, that to take this
step had been more the wish of his father than of himself.
Some years afterwards he left the Roman Catholic Church
and joined the Church of England.

Of an imaginative and sanguine temperament, he was,
through a perusal of Gil Bias, fired with a desire to see the
world and seek his fortune away from the quiet vale where
he had been nurtured. His first effort only resulted in
obtaining a situation as tutor, at a very poor salary, in a
farmer's house. Soon tired of this uncongenial drudgery,
he threw up the situation and started for Dublin, in which
city he found himself without any definite plan for the
future in his mind, and with the sum of two shillings and
ninepence in his pocket. Here again he had to reconcile
himself for some time to the uncongenial labours of tutor.




Ultimately, while still resident in Dublin, he became
acquainted with the Rev. Caesar Otvvay. At this gentle-
man's suggestion young Carleton wrote a tale for one of
the magazines, which attracted general notice. This formed
the second turning point in the young man's life, and
showed to himself and friends where his forte lay. From
this period a long stream of writings came from the
talented author's pen, both through separate volumes and
through the magazine press. In all, the volumes he became
author of amounted to over forty in number. Many of his
novels and tales exhibit singular power and talent, and
have universally been acknowledged as giving true and
faithful representations of the social life of his countrymen.
William Carleton died in 1869 at the age of seventy-one.

The tales contained in this volume are selected from
several of the distinguished author's numerous works.
These latter, as already intimated, amount to a very con-
siderable number. It will be observed that those given in
the following pages are all of an amusing and humorous
nature, it being chiefly on that ground that they have been
selected. At the same time, they will be found rich des-
criptively of the manners, customs, sympathies, and ideas
of the Irish people. The native habits and tastes of any
people form an interesting study, and iri such matters
the Irish are quite as attractive as any of the other
modern nations — in temperament and character they are
as strongly distinctive as each of the three sister peoples.
The Irish have been distinguished for their warm-hearted,
affectionate disposition, capable of great goodness, faithful
to trust, and grateful for kindness and sympathy received.
And no doubt through increased industry and improved
laws these beautiful traits of character will aid in forming
a distinguished future for them as a people.


•: o :-

The Irish S m u g g I e r ; or, The

G a u ge r Outwitted


The C o tin t r y Dancing Ma s ter . 9

The Irish Match- Maker . . 18



The Irish Senachie; or, The

r ig i n of the name of Gordon 42

The Irish Prophecy Ma 71 . . 62


The Knockmany Giant. . » yy



The S 1 r y of the Squire . . 91




How the Protestant Church was

Invented by Luther and the Devil . 113

The Country Fiddler . . ,129

The Country Mid-Wife . 138



The Irish Christening . . .154



Mysterious Doings at S lathb eg . 167


And how he defeated the Exciseman , 204

The C n naug h t P ig -Driver. . 219



The Holding of the Station . 241



The Country Dancing Master.

ONE of the most amusing specimens of the Irish danc-
ing-master, that I ever met, was the person who went
under the nickname of Buckram-Back. This man had
been a drummer in the army for some time, where he had
learned to play the fiddle ; but it appears that he possessed
no relish whatever for a military life, as his abandonment
of it without even the usual form of a discharge or furlough,
together with a back that had become cartilaginous from
frequent flogging, could abundantly testify. It was from
the latter circumstance that he had received his nickname.
Buckram-Back was a dapper light little fellow, with a
rich Tipperary brogue, crossed by a lofty strain of illegiti-
mate English, which he picked up whilst abroad in the
army. His habiliments sat as tight upon him as he could
readily wear them, and were all of the shabby-genteel class.
His crimped black coat was a closely worn second-hand,
and his crimped face quite as much of the second-hand as


the coat. I think I see his little pumps, little white stock-
ings, his coaxed drab breeches, his hat, smart in its cock
but brushed to -a .polish, and standing upon three hairs,
together with his tight questionable-coloured gloves, all
before me. Certainly he was the jauntiest little cock
living — quite a blood, ready to fight any man, and a great
defender of the fair sex, whom he never addressed except
in that high-flown bombastic style so agreeable to most of
them, called by their flatterers the complimentary, and by
their friends the fulsome. He was in fact a public man,
and up to everything. You met him at every fair, where
he only had time to give you a wink as he passed, being
just then engaged in a very particular affair ; but he would
tell you again. At cock-fights he was a very busy person-
age, and an angry bettor from half-a-crown downwards.
At races he was a knowing fellow, always shook hands
with the winning jockey, and then looked pompously about,
that folks might see he was hand and glove with people
of importance. The house where Buckram-Back kept his
school, which was open only after the hours of labour, was
an uninhabited cabin, the roof of which, at a particular spot,
was supported by a post that stood upright from the floor.
It was built upon an elevated situation, and commanded a
fine view of the whole country for miles about it. A
pleasant sight it was to see the modest and pretty girls,
dressed in their best frocks and ribbons, radiating in little
groups from all directions, accompanied by their partners
or lovers, making way through the fragrant summer fields,
of a calm cloudless evening, to this happy scene of innocent

And yet what an epitome of general life, with its
passions, jealousies, plots, calumnies, and contentions, did
this tiny segment of society present ! There was the
shrew, the slattern, the coquette, and the prude, as sharply
marked within this their humble sphere, as if they appeared


on the world's wider stage, with half its wealth and all its
temptations to draw forth their prevailing foibles. There
too was the bully, the rake, the liar, the coxcomb, and the
coward, each as perfect and distinct in his kind as if he had
run through a lengthened course of fashionable dissipation,
or spent a fortune in acquiring his particular character.
The elements of the human heart, however, and the
passions that make up the general business of life, are the
same in high and low, and exist with impulses as strong in
the cabin as in the palace. The only difference is, that
they have not equal room to play.

Buckram-Back's system, in originality of design, in comic
conception of decorum, and in the easy practical assurance
with which he wrought it out, was never equalled, much
less surpassed. Had the impudent little rascal confined
himself to dancing as usually taught, there would have
been nothing so ludicrous or uncommon in it ; but no ; he
was such a stickler for example in everything, that no
other mode of instruction would satisfy him. Dancing !
why, it was the least part of what he taught or professed
to teach.

In the first place, he undertook to teach every one of us
— for I had the honour of being his pupil — how to enter a
drawing-room " in the most fashionable manner alive," as
he said himself.

Secondly. He was the only man, he said, who could in
the most agreeable and polite style teach a gintleman how
to salute, or, as he termed it, how to shiloote, a leedy.
This he taught, he said, with great success.

Thirdly. He could taich every leedy and gintleman
how to make the most beautiful bow or curchy on airth,
by only imitating himself — one that would cause a thousand
people if they were all present, to think that it was par-
ticularly intended only for aich o' themselves !

Fourthly. He taught the whole art o' courtship wid all


peliteness and success, accordin' as it was practised in Paris
durin' the last saison.

Fifthly. He could taich them how to write love-letthers
and valentines accordin' to the Great Macademy of com-
pliments, which was supposed to be invinted by Bonaparte
when he was writing love letthers to both his wives.

Sixthly. He was the only person who could taich the
famous dance called Sir Roger de Coverly, or the Helter-
Skelter Drag, which comprehended widin itself all the
advantages and beauties of his whole system — in which
every gintleman was at liberty to pull every leedy where
he plaised, and every leedy was at liberty to go wherever
he pulled her.

With such advantages in prospect, and a method of
instruction so agreeable, it is not to be wondered at that
this establishment was always in a most flourishing condi-
tion. The truth is, he had it so contrived that every
gentleman should salute his lady as often as possible, and
for this purpose actually invented dances, in which not only
should every gentleman salute every lady, but every lady,
by way of returning the compliment, should render a
similar kindness to every gentleman. Nor had his male
pupils all this prodigality of salutation to themselves, for
the amorous little rascal always commenced first and ended
last, in order, he said, that they might cotch the manner
from himself. " I do this, leedies and gintlemen, as your
moral (model), and because it's part o' my system — ahem !"

And then he would perk up his little hard face, that
was too barren to produce more than an abortive smile,
and twirl like a wagtail over the floor, in a manner that
he thought irresistible.

Whether Buckram-Back was the only man who tried to
reduce kissing to a system of education in this country, I
do not know. It is certainly true that many others of his
stamp made a knowledge of the arts and modes of court-


ship, like him, a part of the course. The forms of love
letters, valentines, &c., were taught their pupils of both
sexes, with many other polite particulars, which it is to be
hoped have disappeared for ever.

One thing, however, to the honour of our country-women
we are bound to observe, which is, that we do not remem-
ber a single result incompatible with virtue to follow from
the little fellow's system, which, by the way, was in this
respect peculiar only to himself, and not the general custom
of the country. Several weddings, unquestionably, we had,
more than might otherwise have taken place, but in no one
instance have we known any case in which a female was
brought to unhappiness or shame.

We shall now give a brief sketch of Buckram-Back's
manner of tuition, begging our readers at the same time to
rest assured that any sketch we could give would fall far
short of the original.

" Paddy Corcoran, walk out an' ' inther your drawin'-
room ;' an' let Miss Judy Hanratty go out along wid you,
an' come in as Mrs. Corcoran."

" Faith, I'm afeard, master, I'll make a bad hand of it ;
but, sure, it's something to have Judy here to keep me in

" Is that by way of compliment, Paddy ? Mr. Corcoran,
you should ever an' always spaik to a leedy in an alablas-
ther tone ; for that's the cut."

[Paddy and Judy retire.

" Mickey Scanlan, come up here, now that we're braithin'
a little ; an' you Miss Grauna Mulholland, come up along
wid him. Miss Mulholland, you are masther of your five
positions and your fifteen attitudes, I believe ? " " Yes,
sir." "Very well, Miss. Mickey Scanlan — ahem — Misther
Scanlan, can you perform the positions also, Mickey? "

" Yes, sir ; but you remember I stuck at the eleventh


"Attitude, sir — no matther. Well, Misther Scanlan, do
you know how to shiloote a leedy, Mickey ? "

" Faix, it's hard to say, sir, till we try ; but I'm very
willin' to larn it. I'll do my best, an' the best can do no

" Very well — ahem ! Now merk me, Misther Scanlan ;
you approach your leedy in this style, bowin' politely, as I
do. Miss Mulholland, will you allow me the honour of a
heavenly shiloote ? Don't bow, ma'am ; you are to curchy,
you know ; a little lower eef you plaise. Now you say,
' Wid the greatest pleasure in life, sir, an' many thanks for
the feevour.' (Smack). There, now, you are to make
another curchy politely, an' say, 'Thank you, kind sir, I
owe you one.' Now, Misther Scanlan, proceed."

" I'm to imitate you, masther, as well as I can, sir, I
believe ? "

" Yes, sir, you are to imitate me. But hould, sir ; did
you see me lick my lips or pull up my breeches ? Be
gorra, that's shockin' unswintemintal. First make a curchy,
a bow I mane, to Miss Grauna. Stop again, sir ; are you
going to sthrangle the leedy ? Why, one would think that
it's about to teek laive of her for ever you are. Gently,
Misther Scanlan ; gently, Mickey. There — well, that's
an improvement. Practice, Misther Scanlan, practice will
do all, Mickey, but don't smack so loud, though. Hilloo,
gintlemen ! where's our drawin'-room folks ? Go out, one
of you, for Misther and Mrs. Paddy Corcoran."

Corcoran's face now appears peeping in at the door, lit
up with a comic expression of genuine fun, from whatever
cause it may have proceeded.

"Aisy, Misther Corcoran; an' where's Mrs. Corcoran,

" Are we both to come in together, masther ? "

" Certainly : turn out both your toses — turn them out. I


" Faix, sir, it's aiser said than done wid some of us."

" I know that, Misther Corcoran ; but practice is every-
thing. The bow legs are strongly against you, I grant.
Hut tut, Misther Corcoran — why, if your toes wor where
your heels is, you'd be exactly in the first position, Paddy.
Well, both of you turn out your toses ; look street forward ;
clap your caubeen — ahem ! — your castor under your ome
(arm), an' walk into the middle of the fiure, wid your head
up. Stop, take care o' the post. Now, take your caubeen,
castor I mane, in your right hand ; give it a flourish. Aisy,
Mrs. Hanratty — Corcoran I mane — it's not you that's to
flourish. Well, flourish your castor, Paddy, and thin make
a graceful bow to the company. Leedies and gintlemen" —

" Leedies and gintlemen " —

" I'm your most obadient sarvint " —

" I'm your most obadient sarwint."

" Tuts man alive ! that's not a bow. Look at this : there's
a bow for you. Why, instead of meeking a bow, you
appear as if you wor goin' to sit down with an embargo
(lumbago) in your back. Well, practice is every thing ; an'
there's luck in leisure."

" Dick Doorish, will you come up, and thry if you can
meek anything of that treblin' step. You're a purty lad,
Dick ; you're a purty lad, Misther Doorish, with a pair o' left
legs an you, to expect to lam to dance ; but don't dispeer,
man alive, I'm not afeard but I'll make a graceful slip o'
you yet. Can you meek a curchy ? "

" Not right, sir, I doubt."

" Well, sir, I know that ; but, Misther Doorish, you
ought to know how to meek both a bow and a curchy.
Whin you marry a wife, Misther Doorish, it mightn't come
wrong for you to know how to taich her a curchy. Have you
the gad and suggaun wid you ? " " Yes, sir." " Very well,
on wid them ; the suggaun on the right foot, or what ought
to be the right foot, an' the gad upon what ought to be the


left. Are you ready ? " " Yes, sir." " Come, then, do as I
bid you. Rise upon suggaun an' sink upon gad ; rise upon

suggaun an' sink upon gad ; rise upon Hould, sir ;

you're sinkin' upon suggaun an' risin' upon gad, the very
thing begad you ought not to do. But, God help you !
sure you're left-legged. Ah, Misther Doorish, it 'ud be a
long time before you'd be able to dance Jig Polthogue or
the College Hornpipe upon a drum-head, as I often did.
However, don't despeer, Misther Doorish : if I could only
get you to know your right leg — but God help you ! sure
you hav'n't such a thing — from your left, I'd make some-
thing of you yet, Dick."

The Irish dancing-masters were eternally at daggers-
drawn among themselves ; but as they seldom met, they
were forced to abuse each other at a distance, which they
did with a virulence and scurrility proportioned to the
space between them. Buckram-Back had a rival of this de-
scription, who was a sore thorn in his side. His name was
Paddy Fitzpatrick, and from having been a horse-jockey,
he gave up the turf, and took to the calling of a dancing-
master. Buckram-Back sent a message to him to the
effect that " if he could not dance Jig Polthogue on the
drum-head, he had better hould his tongue for ever." To
this Paddy replied, by asking if he was the man to dance
the Connaught Jockey upon the saddle of a blood horse,
and the animal at a three-quarter gallop.

At length the friends on each side, from a natural love
of fun, prevailed upon them to decide their claims as fol-
lows : Each master with twelve of his pupils, was to dance
against his rival with twelve of his ; the match to come off
on the top of Mallybeny hill, which commanded a view of
the whole parish. I have already mentioned that in
Buckram-Back's school there stood near the middle of the
floor a post, which, according to some new manoeuvre of
his own, was very convenient as a guide to the dancers


when going through the figure. Now, at the spot where
this post stood it was necessary to make a curve, in order
to form part of the figure of eight, which they were to fol-
low ; but as many of them were rather impenetrable to a
due conception of the line of beauty, he forced them to
turn round the post, rather than make an acute angle of it,
which several of them did. Having premised thus much,
we proceed with our narrative.

At length they met, and it would have been a matter of
much difficulty to determine their relative merits, each
was such an admirable match for the other. When
Buckram-Back's pupils, however, came to perform, they
found that the absence of the post was their ruin. To the
post the)' had been trained — accustomed ; with it they
could dance ; but wanting that, they were like so many
ships at sea without rudders or compasses. Of course a
scene of ludicrous confusion ensued, which turned the
laugh against poor Buckram-Back, who stood likely to ex-
plode with shame and venom. In fact he was in an agony.

"Gintlemen, turn the post!" he shouted, stamping upon
the ground, and clenching his little hands with fury ;
" leedies, remimber the post ! Oh, for the honour of
Kilnahushogue don't be bate. The post, gintlemen ! leedies
the post, if you love me. Murdher alive, the post ! "

" Be gorra, masther, the jokey will distance us," replied
Bob Magawly ; " it's likely to be the winnin '-post to him,
any how."

"Any money," shouted the little fellow, " any money for
long Sam Sallaghan ; he'd do the post to the life. Mind it,
boys dear, mind it or we're lost. Divil a bit they heed me :
it's a flock of bees or sheep they are like. Sam Sallaghan
where are you ? The post, you blackguards ! "

" Oh, masther dear, if we had even a fishin'-rod or a crow-
bar, or a poker, we might do yet. But, anyhow, we had
betther give in, for it's only worse we're gettin'."


At this stage of the proceedings, Paddy came over, and
making a low bow, asked him, " Arra, how do you feel, Mis-
ther Dogherty ? " for such was Buckram-Back's name.

" Sir," replied Buckram-Back, bowing low, however, in re-
turn, " I'll take the shine out of you, yet. Can you shiloote
a leedy wid me — that's the chat ! Come, gintlemen, show
them what's betther than fifty posts — shiloote your partners
like Irishmen. Kilnahushogue for ever ! "

The scene that ensued baffles all description. The fact is,
the little fellow had them trained, as it were, to kiss in pla-
toons, and thespectators were literally convulsed with laughter
at this most novel and ludicrous character that Buckram-
Back gave to his defeat, and the ceremony which he intro-
duced. The truth is, he turned the laugh completely against
his rival, and swaggered off the ground in high spirits, ex-
claiming, " He know how to shiloote a leedy ! Why the
poor spalpeen never kissed any woman but his mother, an'
her only when she was dyin'. Hurra for Kilnahushogue ! "

Such is a slight sketch of an Irish dancing-master, which
if it possesses any merit at all, is to be ascribed to the
circumstance that it is drawn from life, and combines, how-
ever faintly, most of the points essential to the truest con-
ception of the character.


The Irish Match-Maker.

OUR readers are not to understand that in Ireland there
exists, like the fiddler or dancing-master, a distinct char-
acter openly known by the appellation of match-maker. No
such thing. On the contrary, the negotiations they under-
take are all performed under false colours. The business,


in fact, is close and secret, and always carried on with the
profoundest mystery, veiled by the sanction of some other
ostensible occupation.

One of the best specimens of the kind we ever met was
old Mary Murray. Mary was a tidy creature of middle
size, who always went dressed in a short crimson cloak,
much faded, a striped red and blue drugget petticoat, and a
heather-coloured gown of the same fabric. When walking,
which she did with the aid of a light hazel staff hooked at
the top, she generally kept the hood of the cloak over her
head, which gave to her whole figure a picturesque effect ;
and when she threw it back, one could not help admiring
how well her small but symmetrical features agreed with
the dowd cap of white linen, with a plain muslin border,
which she wore. A pair of bluestockings and sharp-pointed
shoes, high in the heels, completed her dress. Her features
were good-natured and Irish, but over the whole counten-
ance there lay an expression of quickness and sagacity, con-
tracted no doubt by an habitual exercise of penetration and
circumspection. At the time I saw her she was very old,
and I believe had the reputation of being the last in that
part of the country who was known to go about from house
to house spinning on the distaff, an instrument which has
now passed away, being mor« conveniently replaced by the
spinning wheel.

The manner and style of Mary's visits were different from

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