William Carleton.

Fardorougha, the miser; or, The convicts of Lisnamona online

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Preparing for immediate Publication, in Monthly Parts,


Willi the Lives, Deaths, Marriages, anil other Misfortunes of its Inhabitants]

By William Carleton.

Lately Published, by the same Author,

1. Tales of Ireland, with Six Etchings by Brooke, 7s. Gd.

2. Father Butler and the Lough Derg Pilgrim. Second edition, 3s. '.ii.





Author of " Tales of Ireland," " Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry,*
" Father Butler," &c. &c.




Dublin: Printed by John S. Folds, 5, Bachelor's-walk.


«• TO





^ My Dear M ; Cullagh,

It is with the sincerest satisfaction that I avail
myself of the present opportunity, and I only wish the
<" occasion were more important, of inscribing to you

this Volume of the " Convicts of Lisnamona." Indeed I
feel great pride in doing so ; and this for many reasons.
In the first place, your name is one which confers honour
not only on our country, but on science itself, as well
as on the University of which you are such an illustrious
ornament ; add to this, the gratification I feel in your
friendship, to me so warm and disinterested. These
motives alone would be sufficient to induce me to place
a name so eminent in the front of my book. But
when I inform my readers that you and I are natives
of the same county, it will be at once admitted that
there is something peculiarly fit and appropriate in



dedicating this Volume to you, rather than to any one
else. Apart, however, from other considerations, it
is no common honour to have associated with a pro-
duction so humble as this, the name of the first science
scholar and profoundest mathematician that our country
has ever produced — the name of a man whose unob-
trusive character and modesty are equal to his great
and extensive genius.

Believe me to be, my dear M'Cullagh,

Most affectionately and faithfully yours,



In consequence of the very favourable reception
which the tale of Fardorougha the Miser met with
in the pages of our admirable Irish Periodical, the
Dublin University Magazine, I have been induced
to submit it in a separate and collected form to a
still wider circle of readers. This was rendered
the more necessary, as much of the force and con-
nection of the story was lost in consequence of its
not having appeared with regularity in the con-
secutive numbers of the Periodical I have mentioned.

Most of the dramatis persona of the story are
in point of fact drawn from life ; the chief character
in it, that of the miser himself, is one to which I
have never met any thing similar in books, yet I
beg to assure the reader, that I have known and
witnessed in real life most of the struggles between


avarice and affection which I have attempted to
depict in the narrative. I knew the original well ;
and many readers in the county of Louth will
at once recognize the little withered old man,
who always wore his great coat (cothamore) about
his shoulders, and kept perpetually sucking in his
cheeks while engaged in conversation. It is also
true that he was nearly fourteen years married
before he became a father ; his wife having borne
him but one son, the only issue they ever had.

It is indeed surprising to think how easy a thing
it is to give to truth the appearance and impress of
fiction. The miser's conduct at the residence of the
County Treasurer who absconded with his money, is
so well remembered, that it is now believed by the
people that the descendants of that public delin-
quent have never prospered since, in consequence of
his curses. This will be the more easily under-
stood by my readers, when they are informed, that
it is the opinion of the lower Irish that a curse, when
once uttered, must fall either upon the object of its
malignity, or upon something else; and that it will
hover seven years in the air, rather than fail in
accomplishing some evil purpose analogous to that


of him who uttered it — that is, when it cannot fulfil
his intention upon the person against whom it was
originally directed.

With respect to his wife, I have only to say, that
hy those who know as I do the qualities which
prevail among the humble females of my country,
her character will immediately be recognised as
one which they have frequently witnessed. Honor
O' Donovan is no creature of the imagination, but,
on the contrary, a likeness faithful and true to the
virtues of thousands whose glowing piety, meek
endurance, and unexampled fortitude have risen
triumphant over some of the severest trials of
domestic life. Dear to my heart is the memory
of the beloved being whose virtues are but faintly
shadowed forth in the portrait of her which I have
drawn. Oh, many a portrait of equal piety and
purity is to be found under the humble roof of the
Irish cottage and the Irish farm-house; for in no
country on the earth, or among no class of females,
could the eye of an observer discover greater truth,
sincerer religion, or firmer principle, than among the
wives and daughters of the Irish peasantry. We
have indeed a right to be proud of our country-


women ; and ungenerous must the heart of any Irish
writer he, who will neglect to record virtues that are
so worthy of imitation.

It is now some time since I have been before the
public, and I consequently feel much anxiety as to
the reception I may experience at its hands. I
cannot forget, however, that it has hitherto treated
me with great kindness ; and I earnestly hope that
it will continue to manifest the same indulgence to
one, whose greatest happiness has been that his
humble efforts were deemed worthy of its good

Dublin, June, 1839.





On a gentle declivity facing the south, and sheltered
by a sharp Esker or land-ridge, lay the long, low,
whitewashed farm-house of Fardorougha Donovan of
Lisnamona. There was little of artificial ornament
about the place, but much of the rough, heart-stirring
wildness of nature, as it appeared in a strong,
vigorous district, well cultivated, but without being
tamed down by those finer and more graceful touches,
which now-a-days mark the skilful hand of the scien-
tific agriculturist.

To the left waved a beautiful hazel glen, which
gradually expanded into the meadows above
mentioned. Up behind the house stood an ancient
plantation of whitethorn, which, during the month
of May, diffused its fragrance, its beauty, and its
melody over the whole farm. The plam garden was



hedged round by the graceful poplar, whilst here
and there were studded over the fields either single
trees or small groups of mountain-ash, a tree still
more beautiful than the former. The small dells
about the farm were closely covered with blackthorn
and holly, with an occasional oak shooting up from
some little cliff, and towering sturdily over its lowly
companions. Here grew a thick interwoven mass of
dog-tree, and upon a wild hedge-row, leaning like a
beautiful wife upon a rugged husband, might be seen
supported by clumps of blackthorn, that most fra-
grant and exquisite of creepers the delicious honey-
suckle. Add to this the neat appearance of the farm
itself, with its meadows and corn-fields waving to the
soft sunny breeze of summer, and the reader may
admit, that without possessing any striking features
of pictorial effect, it would, nevertheless, be difficult
to find an up-lying farm upon which the eye could
rest with greater satisfaction.

This brief description we deemed it necessary to
give of a place which, however humble, will be
found the scene of the darkest and tenderest passions
of the human heart.

It was on one of those nights in August, when the
moon and stars shine through an atmosphere clear
and cloudless with a mildness of lustre almost con-
tinental, that a horseman, advancing at a rapid pace,
turned off a remote branch of road up a narrow lane,
and, dismounting before a neat whitewashed cottage,
gave a quick and impatient knock at the door.


Almost instantly, out of a small window that opened
on hinges, was protruded a broad female face, sur-
rounded, by way of nightcap, with several folds of
flannel, that had originally been white.

" Is Mary Moan at home ?" said the horseman.

"For a maricle — ay!" replied the female; "who's
dovm in the name o' goodness ?"

" Why, thin, I'm thinkin' you'll be smilin' whin
you hear it," replied the messenger. "The sorra
one else than Honor Donovan, that's now marrid
upon Fardorougha Donovan to the tune of thirteen
year. Bedad, time for her, any how — but, sure
it 'ill be good whin it comes, we're thinkin'."

" Well, betther late than never — the Lord be
praised for all his gifts, any how! Put your horse
down to the mountin' stone, and I'll be wid you in
half a jiffy, acushla."

She immediately drew in her head, and ere the
messenger had well placed his horse at the aforesaid
stirrup, or mounting-stone, which is an indispensable
adjunct to the midwife's cottage, she issued out,
cloaked and bonneted; for, in point of fact, her
practice was so extensive, and the demands upon
her attendance so incessant, that she seldom, if ever,
slept, or went to bed, unless partially dressed. And
such was her habit of vigilance, that she ultimately
became an illustration of the old Roman proverb,
Non donnio omnibus; that is to say, she could sleep
as sound as a top to every possible noise except a
knock at the door, to which she might be said, during


the greater part of her professional life, to have been
instinctively awake.

Having ascended the mounting-stone, and placed
herself on the crupper, the guide and she, while
passing down the narrow and difficult lane, along
which they could proceed but slowly and with cau-
tion, entered into the following dialogue, she having
first turned up the hood of her cloak over her bonnet,
and tied a spotted cotton kerchief round her neck.

"This," said the guide, who was Fardorougha
Donovan's servantman, "is a quare enough business,'
as some o' the nabours do be sayin' — marrid upon
one another beyant thirteen year, an' ne'er a sign of
a haporth till now. Why then begad it is quare."

"Whisht, whisht," replied Molly, with an ex-
pression of mysterious and superior knowledge ;
" don't be spakin' about what you don't understand —
sure, nuttin's impossible to God, avick — don't you
know that?"

" Oh, bedad, sure enough — that we must allow,
whether or not; — still"' —

"Very well; seein' that, what more have we to
say, barrin' to hould our tongues. Childre sent late
always come either for great good or great sarra to
their paarents — an' God grant that this may be for
good to the honest people — for indeed honest people
they are, by all accounts. But what myself wonders
at is, that Honor Donovan never once opened her
lips to me about it. However, God's will be done !
The Lord send her safe over all her throubles, poor


woman ! And, now that we're out o' this thief of
a lane, lay an for the bare life, and never heed me.
I'm as good a horseman as yourself; and, indeed,
I've a good right, for I'm an ould hand at it."

" I'm thinkin','' she added, after a short silence,
" it's odd I never was much acquainted with the
Donovans. I'm tould they're a hard pack, that loves
the money, honest as they are."

" Faix," replied her companion, " let Fardorougha
.alone for knowin' the value of a shillin'! — they're
not in Europe can hould a harder grip of one."

His master, in fact, was a hard frugal man, and
his mistress a woman of somewhat a similar cha-
racter: both were strictly honest, but, like many
persons to whom God has denied offspring, their
hearts had for a considerable time before been placed
upon money as their idol; for, in truth, the affections
must be fixed upon something, and we generally find
that where children are denied, the world comes in
and hardens by its influence the best and tenderest
sympathies of humanity.

After a journey of two miles they came out on a
hay-track, that skirted an extensive and level sweep
of meadow, along which they proceeded with as
much speed as a pillionless midwife was capable of

Ere arriving at the house they were met by Fardo-
rougha himself, a small man, with dark, but well-set
features, which being at no time very placid, ap-
peared now to be absolutely gloomy, yet marked by
strong and profound anxiety.


" Thank God!" he exclaimed on meeting them;
" Is this Mary Moan ?"

" It is — it is," she exclaimed : " how are all
within ? — Am I in time ?"

" Only poorly," he returned; "you are, I hope."

The midwife, when they reached the door, got
herself dismounted in all haste, and was about enter-
ing the house, when Fardorougha, laying his hand
upon her shoulder, said in a tone of voice tremulous
with apprehension —

" I need say nothing to you : what you can do
you will do — but one thing I expect — if you see
danger, call in assistance."

" It's all in the hands o' God, Fardorougha,
acushla: be as aisy in your mind as you can: if
there's need for more help you'll hear it; so keep the
man an' horse both ready."

She then blessed herself, and entered the house,
repeating a short prayer, or charm, which was sup-
posed to possess uncommon efficacy in relieving cases
of the nature she was theu called upon to attend.

Fardorougha Donovan was a man of shrewd sense,
and of strong, but not obvious or flexible feeling;
that is to say, on strong occasions he felt accordingly,
and exhibited very remarkable symptoms of the feel-
ing that swayed him. In matters of a less important
character, he was either deficient in sensibility alto-
gether, or it affected him so slightly as not to be
perceptible. What his disposition might have been,
had his parental affections and domestic sympathies


been cultivated by the tender intercourse which sub-
sists between a parent and his children, it is not easy
to say. On such occasions many a new and delight-
ful sensation — many a sweet trait of affection previ-
ously unknown — and, oh! many, many a fresh im-
pulse of rapturous emotion never before felt, — gushes
out of the heart; all of which, were it not for the
existence of ties so delightful, might have there lain,
sealed up for ever. Where is the man who does not
remember the strange impression of tumultuous de-
light which he experienced on finding himself a hus-
band 1 And who does not recollect that nameless
eharm, amounting almost to a new sense, which per-
vaded his whole being with tenderness and transport
on kissing the rose-bud lips of his first-born babe /
It is indeed by the ties of domestic life that the
purity and affection and the general character of the
human heart are best tried. What is there more
beautiful than to see that fountain of tenderness
multiplying its affections instead of diminishing them,
according as claim after claim arises to make fresh
demands upon its love. Love, and especially parental
love, like jealousy, increases by what it feeds On.
But, oh! from what an unknown world of exquisite
enjoyment are they shut out, to whom Providence has
not vouchsafed those beloved beings on whom the
heart lavishes the whole fulness of its rapture! No
wonder, that their own affections should wither in the
cold gloom of disappointed hope, or their hearts
harden into that moody spirit of worldly-mindedness
which adopts for its offspring the miser's idol.


Whether Fardorougha felt the want of children
acutely or otherwise, could not be inferred from any
visible indication of regret on his part by those who
knew him. His own wife, whose facilities of obser-
vation were so great and so frequent, was only able
to suspect in the affirmative. For himself he neither
murmured nor repined, but she could perceive that
after a few years had passed, a slight degree of gloom
began to settle on him, and an anxiety concerning his
crops, and his few cattle, and the produce of his farm.
He also began to calculate the amount of what might
be saved from the fruits of their united industry.
Sometimes, but indeed upon rare occasions, his
temper appeared incliniug to be irascible or impa-
tient; but in general it was grave, cold, and inflexible,
without any outbreaks of passion, or the slightest
disposition to mirth. His wife's mind, however, was
by no means so cold as his, nor so free from the
traces of that secret regret which preyed upon it.
She both murmured and repined, and often in terms
which drew from Fardorougha a cool rebuke for her
want of resignation to the will of God. As years
advanced, however, ner disappointment became haras-
sing even to herself, and now that hope began to die
away, her heart gradually partoook of the cool worldly
spirit which had seked upon the disposition of her
husband. Though cultivating but a small farm, which
they held at a smart rent, yet by the dint of frugality
and incessant diligence they were able to add a little
each year to the small stock of money which they


had contrived to put together. Still would the
unhappy reflection that they were childless steal pain-
fully and heavily over them; the wife would some-
times murmur, and the husband reprove her, but in
a tone so cool and indifferent that she could not avoid
concluding that his own want of resignation, though
not expressed, was at heart equal to her own. Each
also became somewhat religious, and both remarkable
for a punctual attendance upon the rites of their
church, and that in proportion as the love of temporal
things overcame them. In this manner they lived
upwards of thirteen years, when Mrs. Donovan
declared herself to be in that situation which in due
time rendered the services of Mary Moan necessary.
From the moment this intimation was given, and
its truth confirmed, a faint light, not greater than
the dim and trembling lustre of a single star, broke
in upon the darkened affections and worldly spirit
of Fardorougha Donovan. Had the announcement
taken place within any reasonable period after his
marriage, before he had become sick of disappoint-
ment, or had surrendered his heart from absolute
despair to an incipient spirit of avarice, it would no
doubt have been hailed with all the eager delight of
unblighted hope and vivid affection; but now a new
and subtle habit had been superinduced, after the last
cherished expectation of the heart had departed; a
spirit of foresight and severe calculation descended on
him, and had so nearly saturated his whole being,
that he could not for some time actually determine


whether the knowledge of his wife's situation was
more agreeable to his affection, or repugnant to the
parsimonious disposition which had quickened his
heart into an energy incompatible with natural bene-
volence, and the perception of those tender ties which
spring up from the relations of domestic life. For a
considerable time this struggle between the two prin-
ciples went on; sometimes a new hope would spring
up, attended in the back-ground by a thousand affect-
ing circumstances — on the other hand, some gloomy
and undefinable dread of exigency, distress, and ruin,
would wring his heart and sink his spirits down to
positive misery. Notwithstanding this conflict be-
tween growing avarice and affection, the star of the
father's love had risen, and though, as we have
already said, its light was dim and unsteady, yet the
moment a single opening occurred in the clouded
mind, there it was to be seen serene and pure, a
beautiful emblem of undying and solitary affection
struggling with the cares and angry passions of life.
By degrees the husband's heart became touched by
the hopes of his younger years, former associations
revived, and remembrances of past tenderness, though
blunted in a heart so much changed, came over him
like the breath of fragrance that has nearly passed
away. He began, therefore, to contemplate the event
without foreboding, and by the time the looked for
period arrived, if the world and its debasing influences
were not utterly overcome, yet nature and the quick-
ening tenderness of a father's feelings had made a


considerable progress in a heart from which they had
been long banished.

Far different from all this was the history of his
wife since her perception of an event so delightful.
In her was no bitter and obstinate principle subversive
of affection to be overcome. For although she had
in latter years sank into the painful apathy of a hope-
less spirit, and given herself somewhat to the world,
yet no sooner did the unexpected light dawn upon her,
than her whole soul was filled with exultation and
rapture. The world and its influence passed away
like a dream, and her heart melted into a habit of
tenderness at once so novel and exquisite, that she
often assured her husband she had never felt true
happiness before.

Such are the respective states of feeling in which
our readers find Fardorougha Donovan and his wife,
upon an occasion whose consequences run too far into
futurity for us to determine at present whether they
are to end in happiness or misery.

For a considerable time that evening before the
arrival of Mary Moan, the males of the family had taken
up their residence in an inside kiln, where, after having
kindled a fire in the draught hole, or what the Scotch
call the "logie," they sat and chatted in that kind of
festive spirit which such an event uniformly produces
among the servants of a family. Fardorougha him-
self remained for the most part with them, that is to
say, except while ascertaining from time to time the
situation of his wife. His presence, however, was


only a restraint upon their good humour, and his
niggardly habits caused some rather uncomplimentary
epithets during his short visits of inquiry. It is cus-
tomary upon such occasions, as soon as the mistress of
the family is taken ill, to ask the servants to drink " an
easy bout to the misthress, sir, and a speedy recovery
— not forgettin' a safe landin' to the youngsther,
and, like a Christmas compliment, many of them to
you both! Whoo ! death alive, but that's fine stuff.
Oh, be gorra, the misthress can't but thrive wid
that in the house. Thank you, sir, an' wishin' her
once more safe over her troubles ! — Divil a better mis-
thress ever," &c. &c. &c.

Here, however, there was nothing of the kind.
Fardorougha's heart in the first instance was set
against the expense, and besides, its present broodings
resembled the throes of pain which break out from the
stupor that presses so heavily upon the exhausted
functions of life in the crisis of a severe fever. He
could not, in fact, rest nor remain for any length of
time in the same spot. With a slow but troubled
step he walked backward and forward, sometimes
uttering indistinct ejaculations and broken sentences,
such as no one could understand. At length he ap-
proached his own servants, and addressed the mes-
senger, whose name was Nogher M'Cormick,
" Nogher," said he, " I'm throubled."
"Throubled! dad, Fardorougha, you ought to be
a happy and a thankful man this night, that is, if
God sinds the misthress safe over it, as I hope he
will, plase goodness."


I'm poor, Nogher, I'm poor, and here's a family


" Faith, take care it's not sin you're committin' by
spakin' as you're doin'."

" But you know I'm poor, Nogher."

" But I know you're not, Fardorougha; but I'm
afraid, if God hasn't said it, that your heart's too
much fixed upon the world. Be my faiks, it's on your
knees you ought to be this same night, thankin' the
Almighty for his goodness, an' not grumblin' an'
sthreelin' about the place, flyin' in the face of God
for sendin' you an' your wife a blessin' — for sure
I hear the Scripther says that all childre's a bles-
sin' if they're resaved as sich; 'an' vo be to the

Online LibraryWilliam CarletonFardorougha, the miser; or, The convicts of Lisnamona → online text (page 1 of 28)