Castle Rackrent

Author: Maria Edgeworth

Continuation of the Memoirs of the Rackrent Family


Sir Condy Rackrent, by the grace of God heir-at-law to the Castle Rackrent estate, was a remote branch of the family. Born to little or no fortune of his own, he was bred to the bar, at which, having many friends to push him and no mean natural abilities of his own, he doubtless would in process of time, if he could have borne the drudgery of that study, have been rapidly made King’s Counsel at the least; but things were disposed of otherwise, and he never went the circuit but twice, and then made no figure for want of a fee, and being unable to speak in public. He received his education chiefly in the college of Dublin, but before he came to years of discretion lived in the country, in a small but slated house within view of the end of the avenue. I remember him, bare footed and headed, running through the street of O’Shaughlin’s Town, and playing at pitch-and-toss, ball, marbles, and what not, with the boys of the town, amongst whom my son Jason was a great favourite with him. As for me, he was ever my white-headed boy: often’s the time, when I would call in at his father’s, where I was always made welcome, he would slip down to me in the kitchen, and, love to sit on my knee whilst I told him stories of the family and the blood from which he was sprung, and how he might look forward, if the then present man should die without childer, to being at the head of the Castle Rackrent estate. This was then spoke quite and clear at random to please the child, but it pleased Heaven to accomplish my prophecy afterwards, which gave him a great opinion of my judgment in business. He went to a little grammar-school with many others, and my son amongst the rest, who was in his class, and not a little useful to him in his book-learning, which he acknowledged with gratitude ever after. These rudiments of his education thus completed, he got a-horseback, to which exercise he was ever addicted, and used to gallop over the country while yet but a slip of a boy, under the care of Sir Kit’s huntsman, who was very fond of him, and often lent him his gun, and took him out a-shooting under his own eye. By these means he became well acquainted and popular amongst the poor in the neighbourhood early, for there was not a cabin at which he had not stopped some morning or other, along with the huntsman, to drink a glass of burnt whisky out of an eggshell, to do him good and warm his heart and drive the cold out of his stomach. The old people always told him he was a great likeness of Sir Patrick, which made him first have an ambition to take after him, as far as his fortune should allow. He left us when of an age to enter the college, and there completed his education and nineteenth year, for as he was not born to an estate, his friends thought it incumbent on them to give him the best education which could be had for love or money, and a great deal of money consequently was spent upon him at College and Temple. He was a very little altered for the worse by what he saw there of the great world, for when he came down into the country to pay us a visit, we thought him just the same man as ever—hand and glove with every one, and as far from high, though not without his own proper share of family pride, as any man ever you see. Latterly, seeing how Sir Kit and the Jewish lived together, and that there was no one between him and the Castle Rackrent estate, he neglected to apply to the law as much as was expected of him, and secretly many of the tenants and others advanced him cash upon his note of hand value received, promising bargains of leases and lawful interest, should he ever come into the estate. All this was kept a great secret for fear the present man, hearing of it, should take it into his head to take it ill of poor Condy, and so should cut him off for ever by levying a fine, and suffering a recovery to dock the entail [See GLOSSARY 24]. Sir Murtagh would have been the man for that; but Sir Kit was too much taken up philandering to consider the law in this case, or any other. These practices I have mentioned to account for the state of his affairs—I mean Sir Condy’s upon his coming into the Castle Rackrent estate. He could not command a penny of his first year’s income, which, and keeping no accounts, and the great sight of company he did, with many other causes too numerous to mention, was the origin of his distresses. My son Jason, who was now established agent, and knew everything, explained matters out of the face to Sir Conolly, and made him sensible of his embarrassed situation. With a great nominal rent-roll, it was almost all paid away in interest; which being for convenience suffered to run on, soon doubled the principal, and Sir Condy was obliged to pass new bonds for the interest, now grown principal, and so on. Whilst this was going on, my son requiring to be paid for his trouble and many years’ service in the family gratis, and Sir Condy not willing to take his affairs into his own hands, or to look them even in the face, he gave my son a bargain of some acres which fell out of lease at a reasonable rent. Jason set the land, as soon as his lease was sealed, to under-tenants, to make the rent, and got two hundred a year profit rent; which was little enough considering his long agency. He bought the land at twelve years’ purchase two years afterwards, when Sir Condy was pushed for money on an execution, and was at the same time allowed for his improvements thereon. There was a sort of hunting-lodge upon the estate, convenient to my son Jason’s land, which he had his eye upon about this time; and he was a little jealous of Sir Condy, who talked of setting it to a stranger who was just come into the country—Captain Moneygawl was the man. He was son and heir to the Moneygawls of Mount Juliet’s Town, who had a great estate in the next county to ours; and my master was loth to disoblige the young gentleman, whose heart was set upon the Lodge; so he wrote him back that the Lodge was at his service, and if he would honour him with his company at Castle Rackrent, they could ride over together some morning and look at it before signing the lease. Accordingly, the captain came over to us, and he and Sir Condy grew the greatest friends ever you see, and were for ever out a-shooting or hunting together, and were very merry in the evenings; and Sir Condy was invited of course to Mount Juliet’s Town; and the family intimacy that had been in Sir Patrick’s time was now recollected, and nothing would serve Sir Condy but he must be three times a week at the least with his new friends, which grieved me, who knew, by the captain’s groom and gentleman, how they talked of him at Mount Juliet’s Town, making him quite, as one may say, a laughing-stock and a butt for the whole company; but they were soon cured of that by an accident that surprised ’em not a little, as it did me. There was a bit of a scrawl found upon the waiting-maid of old Mr. Moneygawl’s youngest daughter, Miss Isabella, that laid open the whole; and her father, they say, was like one out of his right mind, and swore it was the last thing he ever should have thought of, when he invited my master to his house, that his daughter should think of such a match. But their talk signified not a straw, for as Miss Isabella’s maid reported, her young mistress was fallen over head and ears in love with Sir Condy from the first time that ever her brother brought him into the house to dinner. The servant who waited that day behind my master’s chair was the first who knew it, as he says; though it’s hard to believe him, for he did not tell it till a great while afterwards; but, however, it’s likely enough, as the thing turned out, that he was not far out of the way, for towards the middle of dinner, as he says, they were talking of stage-plays, having a playhouse, and being great play-actors at Mount Juliet’s Town; and Miss Isabella turns short to my master, and says:

’Have you seen the play-bill, Sir Condy?’

’No, I have not,’ said he.

’Then more shame for you,’ said the captain her brother, ’not to know that my sister is to play Juliet to-night, who plays it better than any woman on or off the stage in all Ireland.’

’I am very happy to hear it,’ said Sir Condy; and there the matter dropped for the present.

But Sir Condy all this time, and a great while afterwards, was at a terrible nonplus; for he had no liking, not he, to stage-plays, nor to Miss Isabella either—to his mind, as it came out over a bowl of whisky-punch at home, his little Judy M’Quirk, who was daughter to a sister’s son of mine, was worth twenty of Miss Isabella. He had seen her often when he stopped at her father’s cabin to drink whisky out of the eggshell, out hunting, before he came to the estate, and, as she gave out, was under something like a promise of marriage to her. Anyhow, I could not but pity my poor master, who was so bothered between them, and he an easyhearted man, that could not disoblige nobody—God bless him! To be sure, it was not his place to behave ungenerous to Miss Isabella, who had disobliged all her relations for his sake, as he remarked; and then she was locked up in her chamber, and forbid to think of him any more, which raised his spirit, because his family was, as he observed, as good as theirs at any rate, and the Rackrents a suitable match for the Moneygawls any day in the year; all which was true enough. But it grieved me to see that, upon the strength of all this, Sir Condy was growing more in the mind to carry off Miss Isabella to Scotland, in spite of her relations, as she desired.

’It’s all over with our poor Judy!’ said I, with a heavy sigh, making bold to speak to him one night when he was a little cheerful, and standing in the servants’ hall all alone with me as was often his custom.

’Not at all,’ said he; ’I never was fonder of Judy than at this present speaking; and to prove it to you,’ said he—and he took from my hand a halfpenny change that I had just got along with my tobacco—’and to prove it to you, Thady,’ says he, ’it’s a tossup with me which I should marry this minute, her or Mr. Moneygawl of Mount Juliet’s Town’s daughter—so it is.’

Oh-boo! boo!’ [Boo! Boo!—an exclamation equivalent to PSHAW or NONSENSE] says I, making light of it, to see what he would go on to next; ’your honour’s joking, to be sure; there’s no compare between our poor Judy and Miss Isabella, who has a great fortune, they say.’

’I’m not a man to mind a fortune, nor never was,’ said Sir Condy, proudly, ’whatever her friends may say; and to make short of it,’ says he, ’I’m come to a determination upon the spot.’ With that he swore such a terrible oath as made me cross myself. ’And by this book,’ said he, snatching up my ballad-book, mistaking it for my prayer-book, which lay in the window,—’and by this book,’ says he, ’and by all the books that ever were shut and opened, it’s come to a toss-up with me, and I’ll stand or fall by the toss; and so Thady, hand me over that pin [PIN, read PEN.—It formerly was vulgarly pronounced PIN in Ireland] out of the ink-horn;’ and he makes a cross on the smooth side of the halfpenny; ’Judy M’Quirk,’ says he, ’her mark.’

[HER MARK.—It was the custom in Ireland for those who could not write to make a cross to stand for their signature, as was formerly the practice of our English monarchs. The Editor inserts the facsimile of an Irish mark, which may hereafter be valuable to a judicious antiquary—
Her Judy X M’Quirk,
Mark. In bonds or notes signed in this manner a witness is requisite, as the name is frequently written by him or her.]

God bless him! his hand was a little unsteadied by all the whisky-punch he had taken, but it was plain to see his heart was for poor Judy. My heart was all as one as in my mouth when I saw the halfpenny up in the air, but I said nothing at all; and when it came down I was glad I had kept myself to myself, for to be sure now it was all over with poor Judy.

’Judy’s out a luck,’ said I, striving to laugh.

’I’m out a luck,’ said he; and I never saw a man look so cast down: he took up the halfpenny off the flag, and walked away quite sober-like by the shock. Now, though as easy a man, you would think, as any in the wide world, there was no such thing as making him unsay one of these sort of vows, which he had learned to reverence when young, as I well remember teaching him to toss up for bog-berries on my knee. [VOWS.—It has been maliciously and unjustly hinted that the lower classes of the people of Ireland pay but little regard to oaths; yet it is certain that some oaths or vows have great power over their minds. Sometimes they swear they will be revenged on some of their neighbours; this is an oath that they are never known to break. But, what is infinitely more extraordinary and unaccountable, they sometimes make and keep a vow against whisky; these vows are usually limited to a short time. A woman who has a drunken husband is most fortunate if she can prevail upon him to go to the priest, and make a vow against whisky for a year, or a month, or a week, or a day.] So I saw the affair was as good as settled between him and Miss Isabella, and I had no more to say but to wish her joy, which I did the week afterwards, upon her return from Scotland with my poor master.

My new lady was young, as might be supposed of a lady that had been carried off by her own consent to Scotland; but I could only see her at first through her veil, which, from bashfulness or fashion, she kept over her face.

’And am I to walk through all this crowd of people, my dearest love?’ said she to Sir Condy, meaning us servants and tenants, who had gathered at the back gate.

’My dear,’ said Sir Condy, ’there’s nothing for it but to walk, or to let me carry you as far as the house, for you see the back road is too narrow for a carriage, and the great piers have tumbled down across the front approach; so there’s no driving the right way, by reason of the ruins.’

’Plato, thou reasonest well!’ said she, or words to that effect, which I could noways understand; and again, when her foot stumbled against a broken bit of a car-wheel, she cried out, ’Angels and ministers of grace defend us!’ Well, thought I, to be sure, if she’s no Jewish, like the last, she is a mad woman for certain, which is as bad: it would have been as well for my poor master to have taken up with poor Judy, who is in her right mind anyhow.

She was dressed like a mad woman, moreover, more than like any one I ever saw afore or since, and I could not take my eyes off her, but still followed behind her; and her feathers on the top of her hat were broke going in at the low back door and she pulled out her little bottle out of her pocket to smell when she found herself in the kitchen, and said, ’I shall faint with the heat of this odious, odious place.’

’My dear, it’s only three steps across the kitchen, and there’s a fine air if your veil was up,’ said Sir Condy; and with that threw back her veil, so that I had then a full sight of her face. She had not at all the colour of one going to faint, but a fine complexion of her own, as I then took it to be, though her maid told me after it was all put on; but even, complexion and all taken in, she was no way, in point of good looks, to compare to poor Judy, and withal she had a quality toss with her; but maybe it was my over-partiality to Judy, into whose place I may say she stepped, that made me notice all this.

To do her justice, however, she was, when we came to know her better, very liberal in her housekeeping—nothing at all of the skinflint in her; she left everything to the housekeeper, and her own maid, Mrs. Jane, who went with her to Scotland, gave her the best of characters for generosity. She seldom or ever wore a thing twice the same way, Mrs. Jane told us, and was always pulling her things to pieces and giving them away, never being used, in her father’s house, to think of expense in anything; and she reckoned to be sure to go on the same way at Castle Rackrent; but when I came to inquire, I learned that her father was so mad with her for running off, after his locking her up and forbidding her to think any more of Sir Condy, that he would not give her a farthing; and it was lucky for her she had a few thousands of her own, which had been left to her by a good grandmother, and these were very convenient to begin with. My master and my lady set out in great style; they had the finest coach and chariot, and horses and liveries, and cut the greatest dash in the county, returning their wedding visits; and it was immediately reported that her father had undertaken to pay all my master’s debts, and of course all his tradesmen gave him a new credit, and everything went on smack smooth, and I could not but admire my lady’s spirit, and was proud to see Castle Rackrent again in all its glory. My lady had a fine taste for building, and furniture, and playhouses, and she turned everything topsy-turvy, and made the barrack-room into a theatre, as she called it, and she went on as if she had a mint of money at her elbow; and to be sure I thought she knew best, especially as Sir Condy said nothing to it one way or the other. All he asked—God bless him!—was to live in peace and quietness, and have his bottle or his whisky-punch at night to himself. Now this was little enough, to be sure, for any gentleman; but my lady couldn’t abide the smell of the whiskypunch.

’My dear,’ says he, ’you liked it well enough before we were married, and why not now?’

’My dear,’ said she, ’I never smelt it, or I assure you I should never have prevailed upon myself to marry you.’

’My dear, I am sorry you did not smell it, but we can’t help that now,’ returned my master, without putting himself in a passion, or going out of his way, but just fair and easy helped himself to another glass, and drank it off to her good health.

All this the butler told me, who was going backwards and forwards unnoticed with the jug, and hot water, and sugar, and all he thought wanting. Upon my master’s swallowing the last glass of whisky-punch my lady burst into tears, calling him an ungrateful, base, barbarous wretch; and went off into a fit of hysterics, as I think Mrs. Jane called it, and my poor master was greatly frightened, this being the first thing of the kind he had seen; and he fell straight on his knees before her, and, like a goodhearted cratur as he was, ordered the whisky-punch out of the room, and bid ’em throw open all the windows, and cursed himself: and then my lady came to herself again, and when she saw him kneeling there, bid him get up, and not forswear himself any more, for that she was sure he did not love her, and never had. This we learned from Mrs. Jane, who was the only person left present at all this.

’My dear,’ returns my master, thinking, to be sure, of Judy, as well he might, ’whoever told you so is an incendiary, and I’ll have ’em turned out of the house this minute, if you’ll only let me know which of them it was.’

’Told me what?’ said my lady, starting upright in her chair.

’Nothing at all, nothing at all,’ said my master, seeing he had overshot himself, and that my lady spoke at random; ’but what you said just now, that I did not love you, Bella; who told you that?’

’My own sense,’ she said, and she put her handkerchief to her face, and leant back upon Mrs. Jane, and fell to sobbing as if her heart would break.

’Why now, Bella, this is very strange of you,’ said my poor master; ’if nobody has told you nothing, what is it you are taking on for at this rate, and exposing yourself and me for this way?’

’Oh, say no more, say no more; every word you say kills me,’ cried my lady; and she ran on like one, as Mrs. Jane says, raving, ’Oh, Sir Condy, Sir Condy! I that had hoped to find in you—’

’Why now, faith, this is a little too much; do, Bella, try to recollect yourself, my dear; am not I your husband, and of your own choosing, and is not that enough?’

’Oh, too much! too much!’ cried my lady, wringing her hands.

’Why, my dear, come to your right senses, for the love of heaven. See, is not the whisky-punch, jug and bowl and all, gone out of the room long ago? What is it, in the wide world, you have to complain of?’

But still my lady sobbed and sobbed, and called herself the most wretched of women; and among other out-of-the-way provoking things, asked my master, was he fit company for her, and he drinking all night? This nettling him, which it was hard to do, he replied, that as to drinking all night, he was then as sober as she was herself, and that it was no matter how much a man drank, provided it did noways affect or stagger him: that as to being fit company for her, he thought himself of a family to be fit company for any lord or lady in the land; but that he never prevented her from seeing and keeping what company she pleased, and that he had done his best to make Castle Rackrent pleasing to her since her marriage, having always had the house full of visitors, and if her own relations were not amongst them, he said that was their own fault, and their pride’s fault, of which he was sorry to find her ladyship had so unbecoming a share. So concluding, he took his candle and walked off to his room, and my lady was in her tantarums for three days after; and would have been so much longer, no doubt, but some of her friends, young ladies, and cousins, and second cousins, came to Castle Rackrent, by my poor master’s express invitation, to see her, and she was in a hurry to get up, as Mrs. Jane called it, a play for them, and so got well, and was as finely dressed, and as happy to look at, as ever; and all the young ladies, who used to be in her room dressing of her, said in Mrs. Jane’s hearing that my lady was the happiest bride ever they had seen, and that to be sure a lovematch was the only thing for happiness, where the parties could any way afford it.

As to affording it, God knows it was little they knew of the matter; my lady’s few thousands could not last for ever, especially the way she went on with them; and letters from tradesfolk came every post thick and threefold, with bills as long as my arm, of years’ and years’ standing. My son Jason had ’em all handed over to him, and the pressing letters were all unread by Sir Condy, who hated trouble, and could never be brought to hear talk of business, but still put it off and put it off, saying, ’Settle it anyhow,’ or, ’Bid ’em call again tomorrow,’ or, ’Speak to me about it some other time.’ Now it was hard to find the right time to speak, for in the mornings he was a-bed, and in the evenings over his bottle, where no gentleman chooses to be disturbed. Things in a twelvemonth or so came to such a pass there was no making a shift to go on any longer, though we were all of us well enough used to live from hand to mouth at Castle Rackrent. One day, I remember, when there was a power of company, all sitting after dinner in the dusk, not to say dark, in the drawing-room, my lady having rung five times for candles, and none to go up, the housekeeper sent up the footman, who went to my mistress, and whispered behind her chair how it was.

’My lady,’ says he, ’there are no candles in the house.’

’Bless me,’ says she; ’then take a horse and gallop off as fast as you can to Carrick O’Fungus, and get some.’

’And in the meantime tell them to step into the playhouse, and try if there are not some bits left,’ added Sir Condy, who happened, to be within hearing. The man was sent up again to my lady, to let her know there was no horse to go, but one that wanted a shoe.

’Go to Sir Condy then; I know nothing at all about the horses,’ said my lady; ’why do you plague me with these things?’ How it was settled I really forget, but to the best of my remembrance, the boy was sent down to my son Jason’s to borrow candles for the night. Another time, in the winter, and on a desperate cold day, there was no turf in for the parlour and above stairs, and scarce enough for the cook in the kitchen. The little GOSSOON was sent off to the neighbours, to see and beg or borrow some, but none could he bring back with him for love or money; [GOSSOON: a little boy—from the French word GARCON. In most Irish families there used to be a barefooted gossoon, who was slave to the cook and the butler, and who, in fact, without wages, did all the hard work of the house. Gossoons were always employed as messengers. The Editor has known a gossoon to go on foot, without shoes or stockings, fifty-one English miles between sunrise and sunset.] so, as needs must, we were forced to trouble Sir Condy—’Well, and if there’s no turf to be had in the town or country, why, what signifies talking any more about it; can’t ye go and cut down a tree?’

’Which tree, please your honour?’ I made bold to say.

’Any tree at all that’s good to burn,’ said Sir Condy; ’send off smart and get one down, and the fires lighted, before my lady gets up to breakfast, or the house will be too hot to hold us.’

He was always very considerate in all things about my lady, and she wanted for nothing whilst he had it to give. Well, when things were tight with them about this time, my son Jason put in a word again about the Lodge, and made a genteel offer to lay down the purchase-money, to relieve Sir Condy’s distresses. Now Sir Condy had it from the best authority that there were two writs come down to the sheriff against his person, and the sheriff, as ill-luck would have it, was no friend of his, and talked how he must do his duty, and how he would do it, if it was against the first man in the country, or even his own brother, let alone one who had voted against him at the last election, as Sir Condy had done. So Sir Condy was fain to take the purchasemoney of the Lodge from my son Jason to settle matters; and sure enough it was a good bargain for both parties, for my son bought the fee-simple of a good house for him and his heirs for ever, for little or nothing, and by selling of it for that same my master saved himself from a gaol. Every way it turned out fortunate for Sir Condy, for before the money was all gone there came a general election, and he being so well beloved in the county, and one of the oldest families, no one had a better right to stand candidate for the vacancy; and he was called upon by all his friends, and the whole county I may say, to declare himself against the old member, who had little thought of a contest. My master did not relish the thoughts of a troublesome canvass, and all the ill-will he might bring upon himself by disturbing the peace of the county, besides the expense, which was no trifle; but all his friends called upon one another to subscribe, and they formed themselves into a committee, and wrote all his circular letters for him, and engaged all his agents, and did all the business unknown to him; and he was well pleased that it should be so at last, and my lady herself was very sanguine about the election; and there was open house kept night and day at Castle Rackrent, and I thought I never saw my lady look so well in her life as she did at that time. There were grand dinners, and all the gentlemen drinking success to Sir Condy till they were carried off; and then dances and balls, and the ladies all finishing with a raking pot of tea in the morning [See GLOSSARY 25]. Indeed, it was well the company made it their choice to sit up all nights, for there were not half beds enough for the sights of people that were in it, though there were shake-downs in the drawing-room always made up before sunrise for those that liked it. For my part, when I saw the doings that were going on, and the loads of claret that went down the throats of them that had no right to be asking for it, and the sights of meat that went up to table and never came down, besides what was carried off to one or t’other below stair, I couldn’t but pity my poor master, who was to pay for all; but I said nothing, for fear of gaining myself ill-will. The day of election will come some time or other, says I to myself, and all will be over; and so it did, and a glorious day it was as any I ever had the happiness to see.

’Huzza! huzza! Sir Condy Rackrent for ever!’ was the first thing I hears in the morning, and the same and nothing else all day, and not a soul sober only just when polling, enough to give their votes as became ’em, and to stand the browbeating of the lawyers, who came tight enough upon us; and many of our freeholders were knocked off; having never a freehold that they could safely swear to, and Sir Condy was not willing to have any man perjure himself for his sake, as was done on the other side, God knows; but no matter for that. Some of our friends were dumbfounded by the lawyers asking them: Had they ever been upon the ground where their freeholds lay? Now, Sir Condy being tender of the consciences of them that had not been on the ground, and so could not swear to a freehold when cross-examined by them lawyers, sent out for a couple of cleavesful of the sods of his farm of Gulteeshinnagh; [At St. Patrick’s meeting, London, March 1806, the Duke of Sussex said he had the honour of bearing an Irish title, and, with the permission of the company, he should tell them an anecdote of what he had experienced on his travels. When he was at Rome he went to visit an Irish seminary, and when they heard who it was, and that he had an Irish title, some of them asked him, ’Please your Royal Highness, since you are an Irish peer, will you tell us if you ever trod upon Irish ground?’ When he told them he had not, ’Oh, then,’ said one of the Order, ’you shall soon do so.’ They then spread some earth, which had been brought from Ireland, on a marble slab, and made him stand upon it.] and as soon as the sods came into town, he set each man upon his sod, and so then, ever after, you know, they could fairly swear they had been upon the ground. [This was actually done at an election in Ireland.] We gained the day by this piece of honesty [See GLOSSARY 26]. I thought I should have died in the streets for joy when I seed my poor master chaired, and he bareheaded, and it raining as hard as it could pour; but all the crowds following him up and down, and he bowing and shaking hands with the whole town.

’Is that Sir Condy Rackrent in the chair?’ says a stranger man in the crowd.

’The same,’ says I. ’Who else should it be? God bless him!’

’And I take it, then, you belong to him?’ says he.

’Not at all,’ says I; ’but I live under him, and have done so these two hundred years and upwards, me and mine.’

’It’s lucky for you, then,’ rejoins he, ’that he is where he is; for was he anywhere else but in the chair, this minute he’d be in a worse place; for I was sent down on purpose to put him up, [TO PUT HIM UP: to put him in gaol] and here’s my order for so doing in my pocket.’

It was a writ that villain the wine merchant had marked against my poor master for some hundreds of an old debt, which it was a shame to be talking of at such a time as this.

’Put it in your pocket again, and think no more of it anyways for seven years to come, my honest friend,’ says I; ’he’s a member of Parliament now, praised be God, and such as you can’t touch him: and if you’ll take a fool’s advice, I’d have you keep out of the way this day, or you’ll run a good chance of getting your deserts amongst my master’s friends, unless you choose to drink his health like everybody else.’

’I’ve no objection to that in life,’ said he. So we went into one of the public-houses kept open for my master; and we had a great deal of talk about this thing and that. ’And how is it,’ says he, ’your master keeps on so well upon his legs? I heard say he was off Holantide twelvemonth past.’

’Never was better or heartier in his life,’ said I.

’It’s not that I’m after speaking of’ said he; ’but there was a great report of his being ruined."

’No matter,’ says I, ’the sheriffs two years running were his particular friends, and the sub-sheriffs were both of them gentlemen, and were properly spoken to; and so the writs lay snug with them, and they, as I understand by my son Jason the custom in them cases is, returned the writs as they came to them to those that sent ’em much good may it do them!—with a word in Latin, that no such person as Sir Condy Rackrent, Bart., was to be found in those parts.’

’Oh, I understand all those ways better—no offence—than you,’ says he, laughing, and at the same time filling his glass to my master’s good health, which convinced me he was a warm friend in his heart after all, though appearances were a little suspicious or so at first. ’To be sure,’ says he, still cutting his joke, ’when a man’s over head and shoulders in debt, he may live the faster for it, and the better if he goes the right way about it; or else how is it so many live on so well, as we see every day, after they are ruined?’

’How is it,’ says I, being a little merry at the time—’how is it but just as you see the ducks in the chicken-yard, just after their heads are cut off by the cook, running round and round faster than when alive?’

At which conceit he fell a-laughing, and remarked he had never had the happiness yet to see the chicken-yard at Castle Rackrent.

’It won’t be long so, I hope,’ says I; ’you’ll be kindly welcome there, as everybody is made by my master: there is not a freerspoken gentleman, or a better beloved, high or low, in all Ireland.’

And of what passed after this I’m not sensible, for we drank Sir Candy’s good health and the downfall of his enemies till we could stand no longer ourselves. And little did I think at the time, or till long after, how I was harbouring my poor master’s greatest of enemies myself. This fellow had the impudence, after coming to see the chicken-yard, to get me to introduce him to my son Jason; little more than the man that never was born did I guess at his meaning by this visit: he gets him a correct list fairly drawn out from my son Jason of all my master’s debts, and goes straight round to the creditors and buys them all up, which he did easy enough, seeing the half of them never expected to see their money out of Sir Condy’s hands. Then, when this baseminded limb of the law, as I afterwards detected him in being, grew to be sole creditor over all, he takes him out a custodiam on all the denominations and sub-denominations, and even carton and half-carton upon the estate [See GLOSSARY 27]; and not content with that, must have an execution against the master’s goods and down to the furniture, though little worth, of Castle Rackrent itself. But this is a part of my story I’m not come to yet, and it’s bad to be forestalling: ill news flies fast enough all the world over.

To go back to the day of the election, which I never think of but with pleasure and tears of gratitude for those good times: after the election was quite and clean over, there comes shoals of people from all parts, claiming to have obliged my master with their votes, and putting him in mind of promises which he could never remember himself to have made: one was to have a freehold for each of his four sons; another was to have a renewal of a lease; another an abatement; one came to be paid ten guineas for a pair of silver buckles sold my master on the hustings, which turned out to be no better than copper gilt; another had a long bill for oats, the half of which never went into the granary to my certain knowledge, and the other half was not fit for the cattle to touch; but the bargain was made the week before the election, and the coach and saddle-horses were got into order for the day, besides a vote fairly got by them oats; so no more reasoning on that head. But then there was no end to them that were telling Sir Condy he had engaged to make their sons excisemen, or high constables, or the like; and as for them that had bills to give in for liquor, and beds, and straw, and ribands, and horses, and post-chaises for the gentlemen freeholders that came from all parts and other counties to vote for my master, and were not, to be sure, to be at any charges, there was no standing against all these; and, worse than all, the gentlemen of my master’s committee, who managed all for him, and talked how they’d bring him in without costing him a penny, and subscribed by hundreds very genteelly, forgot to pay their subscriptions, and had laid out in agents’ and lawyers’ fees and secret service money to the Lord knows how much; and my master could never ask one of them for their subscription you are sensible, nor for the price of a fine horse he had sold one of them; so it all was left at his door. He could never, God bless him again! I say, bring himself to ask a gentleman for money, despising such sort of conversation himself; but others, who were not gentlemen born, behaved very uncivil in pressing him at this very time, and all he could do to content ’em all was to take himself out of the way as fast as possible to Dublin, where my lady had taken a house fitting for him as a member of Parliament, to attend his duty in there all the winter. I was very lonely when the whole family was gone, and all the things they had ordered to go, and forgot, sent after them by the car. There was then a great silence in Castle Rackrent, and I went moping from room to room, hearing the doors clap for want of right locks, and the wind through the broken windows, that the glazier never would come to mend, and the rain coming through the roof and best ceilings all over the house for want of the slater, whose bill was not paid, besides our having no slates or shingles for that part of the old building which was shingled and burnt when the chimney took fire, and had been open to the weather ever since. I took myself to the servants’ hall in the evening to smoke my pipe as usual, but missed the bit of talk we used to have there sadly, and ever after was content to stay in the kitchen and boil my little potatoes, [MY LITTLE POTATOES.—Thady does not mean by this expression that his potatoes were less than other people’s, or less than the usual size. LITTLE is here used only as an Italian diminutive, expressive of fondness.] and put up my bed there, and every post-day I looked in the newspaper, but no news of my master in the House; he never spoke good or bad, but, as the butler wrote down word to my son Jason, was very ill-used by the Government about a place that was promised him and never given, after his supporting them against his conscience very honourably, and being greatly abused for it, which hurt him greatly, he having the name of a great patriot in the country before. The house and living in Dublin too were not to be had for nothing, and my son Jason said, ’Sir Condy must soon be looking out for a new agent, for I’ve done my part, and can do no more. If my lady had the bank of Ireland to spend, it would go all in one winter, and Sir Condy would never gainsay her, though he does not care the rind of a lemon for her all the while.’

Now I could not bear to hear Jason giving out after this manner against the family, and twenty people standing by in the street. Ever since he had lived at the Lodge of his own he looked down, howsomever, upon poor old Thady, and was grown quite a great gentleman, and had none of his relations near him; no wonder he was no kinder to poor Sir Condy than to his own kith or kin. [KITH AND KIN: family or relations. KIN from KIND; KITH from we know not what.] In the spring it was the villain that got the list of the debts from him brought down the custodiam, Sir Condy still attending his duty in Parliament and I could scarcely believe my own old eyes, or the spectacles with which I read it, when I was shown my son Jason’s name joined in the custodiam; but he told me it was only for form’s sake, and to make things easier than if all the land was under the power of a total stranger. Well, I did not know what to think; it was hard to be talking ill of my own, and I could not but grieve for my poor master’s fine estate, all torn by these vultures of the law; so I said nothing, but just looked on to see how it would all end.

It was not till the month of June that he and my lady came down to the country. My master was pleased to take me aside with him to the brewhouse that same evening, to complain to me of my son and other matters, in which he said he was confident I had neither art nor part; he said a great deal more to me, to whom he had been fond to talk ever since he was my white-headed boy before he came to the estate; and all that he said about poor Judy I can never forget, but scorn to repeat. He did not say an unkind word of my lady, but wondered, as well he might, her relations would do nothing for him or her, and they in all this great distress. He did not take anything long to heart, let it be as it would, and had no more malice or thought of the like in him than a child that can’t speak; this night it was all out of his head before he went to his bed. He took his jug of whiskypunch—my lady was grown quite easy about the whisky-punch by this time, and so I did suppose all was going on right betwixt them till I learnt the truth through Mrs. Jane, who talked over the affairs to the housekeeper, and I within hearing. The night my master came home, thinking of nothing at all but just making merry, he drank his bumper toast ’to the deserts of that old curmudgeon my father-in-law, and all enemies at Mount Juliet’s Town.’ Now my lady was no longer in the mind she formerly was, and did noways relish hearing her own friends abused in her presence, she said.

’Then why don’t they show themselves your friends ’ said my master, ’and oblige me with the loan of the money I condescended, by your advice, my dear, to ask? It’s now three posts since I sent off my letter, desiring in the postscript a speedy answer by the return of the post, and no account at all from them yet.’

’I expect they’ll write to ME next post,’ says my lady, and that was all that passed then; but it was easy from this to guess there was a coolness betwixt them, and with good cause.

The next morning, being post-day, I sent off the gossoon early to the post-office, to see was there any letter likely to set matters to rights, and he brought back one with the proper postmark upon it, sure enough, and I had no time to examine or make any conjecture more about it, for into the servants’ hall pops Mrs. Jane with a blue bandbox in her hand, quite entirely mad.

’Dear ma’am, and what’s the matter?’ says I.

’Matter enough,’ says she; ’don’t you see my bandbox is wet through, and my best bonnet here spoiled, besides my lady’s, and all by the rain coming in through that gallery window that you might have got mended if you’d had any sense, Thady, all the time we were in town in the winter?’

’Sure, I could not get the glazier, ma’am,’ says I.

’You might have stopped it up anyhow,’ says she.

’So I, did, ma’am, to the best of my ability; one of the panes with the old pillow-case, and the other with a piece of the old stage green curtain. Sure I was as careful as possible all the time you were away, and not a drop of rain came in at that window of all the windows in the house, all winter, ma’am, when under my care; and now the family’s come home, and it’s summer-time, I never thought no more about it, to be sure; but dear, it’s a pity to think of your bonnet, ma’am. But here’s what will please you, ma’am—a letter from Mount Juliet’s Town for my lady.

With that she snatches it from me without a word more, and runs up the back stairs to my mistress; I follows with a slate to make up the window. This window was in the long passage, or gallery, as my lady gave out orders to have it called, in the gallery leading to my master’s bedchamber and hers. And when I went up with the slate, the door having no lock, and the bolt spoilt, was ajar after Mrs. Jane, and, as I was busy with the window, I heard all that was saying within.

’Well, what’s in your letter, Bella, my dear?’ says he: ’you’re a long time spelling it over.’

’Won’t you shave this morning, Sir Condy?’ says she, and put the letter into her pocket.

’I shaved the day before yesterday,’ said he, ’my dear, and that’s not what I’m thinking of now; but anything to oblige you, and to have peace and quietness, my dear’—and presently I had a glimpse of him at the cracked glass over the chimney-piece, standing up shaving himself to please my lady. But she took no notice, but went on reading her book, and Mrs, Jane doing her hair behind.

’What is it you’re reading there, my dear?—phoo, I’ve cut myself with this razor; the man’s a cheat that sold it me, but I have not paid him for it yet. What is it you’re reading there? Did you hear me asking you, my dear?’

’THE SORROWS OF WERTHER,’ replies my lady, as well as I could hear.

’I think more of the sorrows of Sir Condy,’ says my master, joking like. ’What news from Mount Juliet’s Town?’

’No news,’ says she, ’but the old story over again; my friends all reproaching me still for what I can’t help now.’

’Is it for marrying me?’ said my master, still shaving. ’What signifies, as you say, talking of that, when it can’t be help’d now?’

With that she heaved a great sigh that I heard plain enough in the passage.

’And did not you use me basely, Sir Condy,’ says she, ’not to tell me you were ruined before I married you?’

’Tell you, my dear!’ said he. ’Did you ever ask me one word about it. And had not your friends enough of your own, that were telling you nothing else from morning to night, if you’d have listened to them slanders?’

’No slanders, nor are my friends slanderers; and I can’t bear to hear them treated with disrespect as I do,’ says my lady, and took out her pocket-handkerchief; ’they are the best of friends, and if I had taken their advice—But my father was wrong to lock me up, I own. That was the only unkind thing I can charge him with; for if he had not locked me up, I should never have had a serious thought of running away as I did.’

’Well, my dear,’ said my master, ’don’t cry and make yourself uneasy about it now, when it’s all over, and you have the man of your own choice, in spite of ’em all.’

’I was too young, I know, to make a choice at the time you ran away with me, I’m sure,’ says my lady, and another sigh, which made my master, half-shaved as he was, turn round upon her in surprise.

’Why, Bell,’ says he, ’you can’t deny what you know as well as I do, that it was at your own particular desire, and that twice under your own hand and seal expressed, that I should carry you off as I did to Scotland, and marry you there.’

’Well, say no more about it, Sir Condy,’ said my lady, pettishlike; ’I was a child then, you know.’

’And as far as I know, you’re little better now, my dear Bella, to be talking in this manner to your husband’s face; but I won’t take it ill of you, for I know it’s something in that letter you put into your pocket just now that has set you against me all on a sudden, and imposed upon your understanding.’

’It’s not so very easy as you think it, Sir Condy, to impose upon my understanding,’ said my lady.

’My dear,’ says he, ’I have, and with reason, the best opinion of your understanding of any man now breathing; and you know I have never set my own in competition with it till now, my dear Bella,’ says he, taking her hand from her book as kind as could be—’till now, when I have the great advantage of being quite cool, and you not; so don’t believe one word your friends say against your own Sir Condy, and lend me the letter out of your pocket, till I see what it is they can have to say.’

’Take it then,’ says she; ’and as you are quite cool, I hope it is a proper time to request you’ll allow me to comply with the wishes of all my own friends, and return to live with my father and family, during the remainder of my wretched existence, at Mount Juliet’s Town.’

At this my poor master fell back a few paces, like one that had been shot.

’You’re not serious, Bella,’ says he; ’and could you find it in your heart to leave me this way in the very middle of my distresses, all alone’ But recollecting himself after his first surprise, and a moment’s time for reflection, he said, with a great deal of consideration for my lady, ’Well, Bella, my dear, I believe you are right; for what could you do at Castle Rackrent, and an execution against the goods coming down, and the furniture to be canted, and an auction in the house all next week? So you have my full consent to go, since that is your desire; only you must not think of my accompanying you, which I could not in honour do upon the terms I always have been, since our marriage, with your friends. Besides, I have business to transact at home; so in the meantime, if we are to have any breakfast this morning, let us go down and have it for the last time in peace and comfort, Bella.’

Then as I heard my master coming to the passage door, I finished fastening up my slate against the broken pane; and when he came out I wiped down the window-seat with my wig, I and bade him a ’good-morrow’ as kindly as I could, seeing he was in trouble, though he strove and thought to hide it from me.

[Wigs were formerly used instead of brooms in Ireland for sweeping or dusting tables, stairs, etc. The Editor doubted the fact till he saw a labourer of the old school sweep down a flight of stairs with his wig; he afterwards put it on his head again with the utmost composure, and said, ’Oh, please your honour, it’s never a bit the worse.

It must be acknowledged that these men are not in any danger of catching cold by taking off their wigs occasionally, because they usually have fine crops of hair growing under their wigs. The wigs are often yellow, and the hair which appears from beneath them black; the wigs are usually too small, and are raised up by the hair beneath, or by the ears of the wearers.]

’This window is all racked and tattered,’ says I, ’and it’s what I’m striving to mend.’

’It IS all racked and tattered, plain enough,’ says he, ’and never mind mending it, honest old Thady,’ says he; ’it will do well enough for you and I, and that’s all the company we shall have left in the house by and by.’

’I’m sorry to see your honour so low this morning,’ says I; ’but you’ll be better after taking your breakfast.’

’Step down to the servants’ hall,’ said he, ’and bring me up the pen and ink into the parlour, and get a sheet of paper from Mrs. Jane, for I have business that can’t brook to be delayed; and come into the parlour with the pen and ink yourself, Thady, for I must have you to witness my signing a paper I have to execute in a hurry.’

Well, while I was getting of the pen and ink-horn, and the sheet of paper, I ransacked my brains to think what could be the papers my poor master could have to execute in such a hurry, he that never thought of such a thing as doing business afore breakfast in the whole course of his life, for any man living; but this was for my lady, as I afterwards found, and the more genteel of him after all her treatment.

I was just witnessing the paper that he had scrawled over, and was shaking the ink out of my pen upon the carpet, when my lady came in to breakfast, and she started as if it had been a ghost; as well she might, when she saw Sir Condy writing at this unseasonable hour.

’That will do very well, Thady,’ says he to me, and took the paper I had signed to, without knowing what upon the earth it might be, out of my hands, and walked, folding it up, to my lady.

’You are concerned in this, my Lady Rackrent,’ said he, putting it into her hands; ’and I beg you’ll keep this memorandum safe, and show it to your friends the first thing you do when you get home; but put it in your pocket now, my dear, and let us eat our breakfast, in God’s name.’

’What is all this?’ said my lady, opening the paper in great curiosity.

’It’s only a bit of a memorandum of what I think becomes me to do whenever I am able,’ says my master; ’you know my situation, tied hand and foot at the present time being, but that can’t last always, and when I’m dead and gone the land will be to the good, Thady, you know; and take notice it’s my intention your lady should have a clear five hundred a year jointure out the estate afore any of my debts are paid.’ ’Oh, please your honour,’ says I, ’I can’t expect to live to see that time, being now upwards of fourscore years of age, and you a young man, and likely to continue so, by the help of God.’

I was vexed to see my lady so insensible too, for all she said was, ’This is very genteel of you, Sir Condy. You need not wait any longer, Thady.’ So I just picked up the pen and ink that had tumbled on the floor, and heard my master finish with saying, ’You behaved very genteel to me, my dear, when you threw all the little you had in your power along with yourself into my hands; and as I don’t deny but what you may have had some things to complain of,’—to be sure he was thinking then of Judy, or of the whisky-punch, one or t’other, or both,—’and as I don’t deny but you may have had something to complain of, my dear, it is but fair you should have something in the form of compensation to look forward to agreeably in future; besides, it’s an act of justice to myself, that none of your friends, my dear, may ever have it to say against me, I married for money, and not for love.’

’That is the last thing I should ever have thought of saying of you, Sir Condy,’ said my lady, looking very gracious.

’Then, my dear,’ said Sir Condy, ’we shall part as good friends as we met; so all’s right.’

I was greatly rejoiced to hear this, and went out of the parlour to report it all to the kitchen. The next morning my lady and Mrs. Jane set out for Mount Juliet’s Town in the jaunting-car. Many wondered at my lady’s choosing to go away, considering all things, upon the jaunting-car, as if it was only a party of pleasure; but they did not know till I told them that the coach was all broke in the journey down, and no other vehicle but the car to be had. Besides, my lady’s friends were to send their coach to meet her at the cross-roads; so it was all done very proper.

My poor master was in great trouble after my lady left us. The execution came down, and everything at Castle Rackrent was seized by the gripers, and my son Jason, to his shame be it spoken, amongst them. I wondered, for the life of me, how he could harden himself to do it; but then he had been studying the law, and had made himself Attorney Quirk; so he brought down at once a heap of accounts upon my master’s head. To cash lent, and to ditto, and to ditto, and to ditto and oats, and bills paid at the milliner’s and linen-draper’s, and many dresses for the fancy balls in Dublin for my lady, and all the bills to the workmen and tradesmen for the scenery of the theatre, and the chandler’s and grocer’s bills, and tailor’s, besides butcher’s and baker’s, and, worse than all, the old one of that base wine merchant’s, that wanted to arrest my poor master for the amount on the election day, for which amount Sir Condy afterwards passed his note of hand, bearing lawful interest from the date thereof; and the interest and compound interest was now mounted to a terrible deal on many other notes and bonds for money borrowed, and there was, besides, hush-money to the sub-sheriffs, and sheets upon sheets of old and new attorneys’ bills, with heavy balances, ’as per former account furnished,’ brought forward with interest thereon; then there was a powerful deal due to the Crown for sixteen years’ arrear of quit-rent of the town-lands of Carrickshaughlin, with driver’s fees, and a compliment to the receiver every year for letting the quit-rent run on to oblige Sir Condy, and Sir Kit afore him. Then there were bills for spirits and ribands at the election time, and the gentlemen of the committee’s accounts unsettled, and their subscription never gathered; and there were cows to be paid for, with the smith and farrier’s bills to be set against the rent of the demesne, with calf and hay money; then there was all the servants’ wages, since I don’t know when, coming due to them, and sums advanced for them by my son Jason for clothes, and boots, and whips, and odd moneys for sundries expended by them in journeys to town and elsewhere, and pocketmoney for the master continually, and messengers and postage before his being a Parliament man. I can’t myself tell you what besides; but this I know, that when the evening came on the which Sir Condy had appointed to settle all with my son Jason, and when he comes into the parlour, and sees the sight of bills and load of papers all gathered on the great dining-table for him, he puts his hands before both his eyes, and cried out, ’Merciful Jasus! what is it I see before me?’ Then I sets an arm-chair at the table for him, and with a deal of difficulty he sits him down, and my son Jason hands him over the pen and ink to sign to this man’s bill and t’other man’s bill, all which he did without making the least objections. Indeed, to give him his due, I never seen a man more fair and honest, and easy in all his dealings, from first to last, as Sir Condy, or more willing to pay every man his own as far as he was able, which is as much as any one can do.

’Well,’ says he, joking like with Jason, ’I wish we could settle it all with a stroke of my grey goose quill. What signifies making me wade through all this ocean of papers here; can’t you now, who understand drawing out an account, debtor and creditor, just sit down here at the corner of the table and get it done out for me, that I may have a clear view of the balance, which is all I need be talking about, you know?’

’Very true, Sir Condy; nobody understands business better than yourself,’ says Jason.

’So I’ve a right to do, being born and bred to the bar,’ says Sir Condy. ’Thady, do step out and see are they bringing in the things for the punch, for we’ve just done all we have to do for this evening.’

I goes out accordingly, and when I came back Jason was pointing to the balance, which was a terrible sight to my poor master.

’Pooh! pooh! pooh!’ says he. ’Here’s so many noughts they dazzle my eyes, so they do, and put me in mind of all I suffered larning of my numeration table, when I was a boy at the day-school along with you, Jason—units, tens, hundreds, tens of hundreds. Is the punch ready, Thady?’ says he, seeing me.

’Immediately; the boy has the jug in his hand; it’s coming upstairs, please your honour, as fast as possible,’ says I, for I saw his honour was tired out of his life; but Jason, very short and cruel, cuts me off with—’Don’t be talking of punch yet awhile; it’s no time for punch yet a bit—units, tens, hundreds,’ goes he on, counting over the master’s shoulder, units, tens, hundreds, thousands.

’A-a-ah! hold your hand,’ cries my master. ’Where in this wide world am I to find hundreds, or units itself, let alone thousands?’

’The balance has been running on too long,’ says Jason, sticking to him as I could not have done at the time, if you’d have given both the Indies and Cork to boot; ’the balance has been running on too long, and I’m distressed myself on your account, Sir Condy, for money, and the thing must be settled now on the spot, and the balance cleared off,’ says Jason.

’I’ll thank you if you’ll only show me how,’ says Sir Condy.

’There’s but one way,’ says Jason, ’and that’s ready enough. When there’s no cash, what can a gentleman do but go to the land?’

’How can you go to the land, and it under custodiam to yourself already?’ says Sir Condy; ’and another custodiam hanging over it? And no one at all can touch it, you know, but the custodees.’

’Sure, can’t you sell, though at a loss? Sure you can sell, and I’ve a purchaser ready for you,’ says Jason.

’Have you so?’ says Sir Condy. ’That’s a great point gained. But there’s a thing now beyond all, that perhaps you don’t know yet, barring Thady has let you into the secret.’

’Sarrah bit of a secret, or anything at all of the kind, has he learned from me these fifteen weeks come St. John’s Eve,’ says I, ’for we have scarce been upon speaking terms of late. But what is it your honour means of a secret?’

’Why, the secret of the little keepsake I gave my Lady Rackrent the morning she left us, that she might not go back empty-handed to her friends.’

’My Lady Rackrent, I’m sure, has baubles and keepsakes enough, as those bills on the table will show,’ says Jason; ’but whatever it is,’ says he, taking up his pen, ’we must add it to the balance, for to be sure it can’t be paid for.’

’No, nor can’t till after my decease,’ says Sir Condy; ’that’s one good thing.’ Then colouring up a good deal, he tells Jason of the memorandum of the five hundred a-year jointure he had settled upon my lady; at which Jason was indeed mad, and said a great deal in very high words, that it was using a gentleman who had the management of his affairs, and was, moreover, his principal creditor, extremely ill to do such a thing without consulting him, and against his knowledge and consent. To all which Sir Condy had nothing to reply, but that, upon his conscience, it was in a hurry and without a moment’s thought on his part, and he was very sorry for it, but if it was to do over again he would do the same; and he appealed to me, and I was ready to give my evidence, if that would do, to the truth of all he said.

So Jason with much ado was brought to agree to a compromise.

’The purchaser that I have ready,’ says he, ’will be much displeased, to be sure, at the encumbrance on the land, but I must see and manage him. Here’s a deed ready drawn up; we have nothing to do but to put in the consideration money and our names to it.’

’And how much am I going to sell!—the lands of O’Shaughlin’s Town, and the lands of Gruneaghoolaghan, and the lands of Crookagnawaturgh,’ says he, just reading to himself. ’And—oh, murder, Jason! sure you won’t put this in—the castle, stable, and appurtenances of Castle Rackrent?’

’Oh, murder!’ says I, clapping my hands; ’this is too bad, Jason.’

’Why so?’ said Jason. ’When it’s all, and a great deal more to the back of it, lawfully mine, was I to push for it.’

’Look at him,’ says I, pointing to Sir Condy, who was just leaning back in his arm-chair, with his arms falling beside him like one stupefied; ’is it you, Jason, that can stand in his presence, and recollect all he has been to us, and all we have been to him, and yet use him so at the last?’

’Who will you find to use him better, I ask you?’ said Jason; ’if he can get a better purchaser, I’m content; I only offer to purchase, to make things easy, and oblige him; though I don’t see what compliment I am under, if you come to that. I have never had, asked, or charged more than sixpence in the pound, receiver’s fees, and where would he have got an agent for a penny less?’

’Oh, Jason! Jason! how will you stand to this in the face of the county, and all who know you?’ says I; ’and what will people think and say when they see you living here in Castle Rackrent, and the lawful owner turned out of the seat of his ancestors, without a cabin to put his head into, or so much as a potato to eat?’

Jason, whilst I was saying this, and a great deal more, made me signs, and winks, and frowns; but I took no heed, for I was grieved and sick at heart for my poor master, and couldn’t but speak.

’Here’s the punch,’ says Jason, for the door opened; ’here’s the punch!’

Hearing that, my master starts up in his chair, and recollects himself, and Jason uncorks the whisky.

’Set down the jug here,’ says he, making room for it beside the papers opposite to Sir Condy, but still not stirring the deed that was to make over all.

Well, I was in great hopes he had some touch of mercy about him when I saw him making the punch, and my master took a glass; but Jason put it back as he was going to fill again, saying: ’No, Sir Condy, it shan’t be said of me I got your signature to this deed when you were half-seas over: you know your name and handwriting in that condition would not, if brought before the courts, benefit me a straw; wherefore, let us settle all before we go deeper into the punch-bowl.’

’Settle all as you will,’ said Sir Condy, clapping his hands to his ears; ’but let me hear no more. I’m bothered to death this night.’

’You’ve only to sign,’ said Jason, putting the pen to him.

’Take all, and be content,’ said my master. So he signed; and the man who brought in the punch witnessed it, for I was not able, but crying like a child; and besides, Jason said, which I was glad of, that I was no fit witness, being so old and doting. It was so bad with me, I could not taste a drop of the punch itself, though my master himself, God bless him! in the midst of his trouble, poured out a glass for me, and brought it up to my lips.

’Not a drop; I thank your honour’s honour as much as if I took it, though.’ And I just set down the glass as it was, and went out, and when I got to the street door the neighbours’ childer, who were playing at marbles there, seeing me in great trouble, left their play, and gathered about me to know what ailed me; and I told them all, for it was a great relief to me to speak to these poor childer, that seemed to have some natural feeling left in them; and when they were made sensible that Sir Condy was going to leave Castle Rackrent for good and all, they set up a whillaluh that could be heard to the farthest end of the street; and one—fine boy he was—that my master had given an apple to that morning, cried the loudest; but they all were the same sorry, for Sir Condy was greatly beloved amongst the childer, for letting them go a-nutting in the demesne, without saying a word to them, though my lady objected to them. The people in the town, who were the most of them standing at their doors, hearing the childer cry, would know the reason of it; and when the report was made known, the people one and all gathered in great anger against my son Jason, and terror at the notion of his coming to be landlord over them, and they cried, ’No Jason! no Jason! Sir Condy! Sir Condy! Sir Condy Rackrent for ever!’ And the mob grew so great and so loud, I was frightened, and made my way back to the house to warn my son to make his escape, or hide himself for fear of the consequences. Jason would not believe me till they came all round the house, and to the windows with great shouts. Then he grew quite pale, and asked Sir Condy what had he best do?

’I’ll tell you what you had best do,’ said Sir Condy, who was laughing to see his fright; ’finish your glass first, then let’s go to the window and show ourselves, and I’ll tell ’em—or you shall, if you please—that I’m going to the Lodge for change of air for my health, and by my own desire, for the rest of my days.’

’Do so,’ said Jason, who never meant it should have been so but could not refuse him the Lodge at this unseasonable time: Accordingly, Sir Condy threw up the sash and explained matters, and thanked all his friends, and bid them look in at the punchbowl, and observe that Jason and he had been sitting over it very good friends; so the mob was content, and he sent them out some whisky to drink his health, and that was the last time his honour’s health was ever drunk at Castle Rackrent.

The very next day, being too proud, as he said to me, to stay an hour longer in a house that did not belong to him, he sets off to the Lodge, and I along with him not many hours after. And there was great bemoaning through all O’Shaughlin’s Town, which I stayed to witness, and gave my poor master a full account of when I got to the Lodge. He was very low, and in his bed, when I got there, and complained of a great pain about his heart; but I guessed it was only trouble and all the business, let alone vexation, he had gone through of late; and knowing the nature of him from a boy, I took my pipe, and whilst smoking it by the chimney began telling him how he was beloved and regretted in the county, and it did him a deal of good to hear it.

’Your honour has a great many friends yet that you don’t know of, rich and poor, in the county,’ says I; ’for as I was coming along the road I met two gentlemen in their own carriages, who asked after you, knowing me, and wanted to know where you was and all about you, and even how old I was. Think of that.’

Then he wakened out of his doze, and began questioning me who the gentlemen were. And the next morning it came into my head to go, unknown to anybody, with my master’s compliments, round to many of the gentlemen’s houses, where he and my lady used to visit, and people that I knew were his great friends, and would go to Cork to serve him any day in the year, and I made bold to try to borrow a trifle of cash from them. They all treated me very civil for the most part, and asked a great many questions very kind about my lady and Sir Condy and all the family, and were greatly surprised to learn from me Castle Rackrent was sold, and my master at the Lodge for health; and they all pitied him greatly, and he had their good wishes, if that would do; but money was a thing they unfortunately had not any of them at this time to spare. I had my journey for my pains, and I, not used to (walking, nor supple as formerly, was greatly tired, but had the satisfaction of telling my master, when I got to the Lodge, all the civil things said by high and low.

’Thady,’ says he, ’all you’ve been telling me brings a strange thought into my head. I’ve a notion I shall not be long for this world anyhow, and I’ve a great fancy to see my own funeral afore I die.’ I was greatly shocked, at the first speaking, to hear him speak so light about his funeral, and he to all appearance in good health; but recollecting myself, answered:

’To be sure it would be as fine a sight as one could see, I dared to say, and one I should be proud to witness, and I did not doubt his honour’s would be as great a funeral as ever Sir Patrick O’Shaughlin’s was, and such a one as that had never been known in the county afore or since.’ But I never thought he was in earnest about seeing his own funeral himself till the next day he returns to it again.

’Thady,’ says he, ’as far as the wake goes, sure I might without any great trouble have the satisfaction of seeing a bit of my own funeral.’ [A ’wake’ in England is a meeting avowedly for merriment; in Ireland it is a nocturnal meeting avowedly for the purpose of watching and bewailing the dead, but in reality for gossiping and debauchery. [See GLOSSARY 28]]

’Well, since your honour’s honour’s SO bent upon it,’ says I, not willing to cross him, and he in trouble, ’we must see what we can do.’

So he fell into a sort of sham disorder, which was easy done, as he kept his bed, and no one to see him; and I got my shister, who was an old woman very handy about the sick, and very skilful, to come up to the Lodge to nurse him; and we gave out, she knowing no better, that he was just at his latter end, and it answered beyond anything; and there was a great throng of people, men, women, and childer, and there being only two rooms at the Lodge, except what was locked up full of Jason’s furniture and things, the house was soon as full and fuller than it could hold, and the heat, and smoke, and noise wonderful great; and standing amongst them that were near the bed, but not thinking at all of the dead, I was startled by the sound of my master’s voice from under the greatcoats that had been thrown all at top, and I went close up, no one noticing.

’Thady,’ says he, ’I’ve had enough of this; I’m smothering, and can’t hear a word of all they’re saying of the deceased.’

’God bless you, and lie still and quiet,’ says I, ’a bit longer, for my shister’s afraid of ghosts, and would die on the spot with fright was she to see you come to life all on a sudden this way without the least preparation.’

So he lays him still, though well nigh stifled, and I made all haste to tell the secret of the joke, whispering to one and t’other, and there was a great surprise, but not so great as we had laid out it would. ’And aren’t we to have the pipes and tobacco, after coming so far to-night?’ said some; but they were all well enough pleased when his honour got up to drink with them, and sent for more spirits from a shebeen-house [’Shebeenhouse,’ a hedge alehouse. Shebeen properly means weak, smallbeer, taplash.], where they very civilly let him have it upon credit. So the night passed off very merrily, but to my mind Sir Condy was rather upon the sad order in the midst of it all, not finding there had been such a great talk about himself after his death as he had always expected to hear.

The next morning, when the house was cleared of them, and none but my shister and myself left in the kitchen with Sir Condy, one opens the door and walks in, and who should it be but Judy M’Quirk herself! I forgot to notice that she had been married long since, whilst young Captain Moneygawl lived at the Lodge, to the captain’s huntsman, who after a whilst ’listed and left her, and was killed in the wars. Poor Judy fell off greatly in her good looks after her being married a year or two; and being smoke-dried in the cabin, and neglecting herself like, it was hard for Sir Condy himself to know her again till she spoke; but when she says, ’It’s Judy M’Quirk, please your honour; don’t you remember her?’

’Oh, Judy, is it you?’ says his honour. ’Yes, sure, I remember you very well; but you’re greatly altered, Judy,’

’Sure it’s time for me,’ says she. ’And I think your honour, since I seen you last—but that’s a great while ago—is altered too.’

’And with reason, Judy,’ says Sir Condy, fetching a sort of a sigh. ’But how’s this, Judy?’ he goes on. ’I take it a little amiss of you that you were not at my wake last night.’

’Ah, don’t be being jealous of that,’ says she; ’I didn’t hear a sentence of your honour’s wake till it was all over, or it would have gone hard with me but I would have been at it, sure; but I was forced to go ten miles up the country three days ago to a wedding of a relation of my own’s, and didn’t get home till after the wake was over. But,’ says she, ’it won’t be so, I hope, the next time, please your honour.’ [At the coronation of one of our monarchs the King complained of the confusion which happened in the procession. ’The great officer who presided told his Majesty that ’it should not be so next time.’]

’That we shall see, Judy,’ says his honour, ’and maybe sooner than you think for, for I’ve been very unwell this while past, and don’t reckon anyway I’m long for this world.’

At this Judy takes up the corner of her apron, and puts it first to one eye and then to t’other, being to all appearance in great trouble; and my shister put in her word, and bid his honour have a good heart, for she was sure it was only the gout that Sir Patrick used to have flying about him, and he ought to drink a glass or a bottle extraordinary to keep it out of his stomach; and he promised to take her advice, and sent out for more spirits immediately; and Judy made a sign to me, and I went over to the door to her, and she said, ’I wonder to see Sir Condy so low: has he heard the news?’

’What news?’ says I.

’Didn’t ye hear it, then?’ says she; ’my Lady Rackrent that was is kilt [See GLOSSARY 29] and lying for dead, and I don’t doubt but it’s all over with her by this time.’

’Mercy on us all,’ says I; ’how was it?’

’The jaunting-car it was that ran away with her,’ says Judy. ’I was coming home that same time from Biddy M’Guggin’s marriage, and a great crowd of people too upon the road, coming from the fair of Crookaghnawaturgh, and I sees a jaunting-car standing in the middle of the road, and with the two wheels off and all tattered. "What’s this?" says I. "Didn’t ye hear of it?" says they that were looking on; "it’s my Lady Rackrent’s car, that was running away from her husband, and the horse took fright at a carrion that lay across the road, and so ran away with the jaunting-car, and my Lady Rackrent and her maid screaming, and the horse ran with them against a car that was coming from the fair with the boy asleep on it, and the lady’s petticoat hanging out of the jaunting-car caught, and she was dragged I can’t tell you how far upon the road, and it all broken up with the stones just going to be pounded, and one of the road-makers, with his sledge-hammer in his hand, stops the horse at the last; but my Lady Rackrent was all kilt and smashed," [KILT AND SMASHED.—Our author is not here guilty of an anti-climax. The mere English reader, from a similarity of sound between the words ’kilt’ and ’killed,’ might be induced to suppose that their meanings are similar, yet they are not by any means in Ireland synonymous terms. Thus you may hear a man exclaim, ’I’m kilt and murdered!’ but he frequently means only that he has received a black eye or a slight contusion. ’I’m kilt all over’ means that he is in a worse state than being simply ’kilt.’ Thus, ’I’m kilt with the cold,’ is nothing to ’I’m kilt all over with the rheumatism.’] and they lifted her into a cabin hard by, and the maid was found after where she had been thrown in the gripe of a ditch, her cap and bonnet all full of bog water, and they say my lady can’t live anyway." Thady, pray now is it true what I’m told for sartain, that Sir Condy has made over all to your son Jason?’

’All,’ says I.

’All entirely?’ says she again.

’All entirely’ says I.

’Then,’ says she, ’that’s a great shame; but don’t be telling Jason what I say.’

’And what is it you say?’ cries Sir Condy, leaning over betwixt us, which made Judy start greatly. ’I know the time when Judy M’Quirk would never have stayed so long talking at the door and I in the house.’

’Oh!’ says Judy, ’for shame, Sir Condy; times are altered since then, and it’s my Lady Rackrent you ought to be thinking of.’

’And why should I be thinking of her, that’s not thinking of me now?’ says Sir Condy.

’No matter for that,’ says Judy, very properly; ’it’s time you should be thinking of her, if ever you mean to do it at all, for don’t you know she’s lying for death?’

’My Lady Rackrent!’ says Sir Condy, in a surprise; ’why it’s but two days since we parted, as you very well know, Thady, in her full health and spirits, and she, and her maid along with her, going to Mount Juliet’s Town on her jaunting-car.

’She’ll never ride no more on her jaunting-car,’ said Judy, ’for it has been the death of her, sure enough.’

And is she dead then?’ says his honour.

’As good as dead, I hear,’ says Judy; ’but there’s Thady here as just learnt the whole truth of the story as I had it, and it’s fitter he or anybody else should be telling it you than I, Sir Condy: I must be going home to the childer.’

But he stops her, but rather from civility in him, as I could see very plainly, than anything else, for Judy was, as his honour remarked at her first coming in, greatly changed, and little likely, as far as I could see—though she did not seem to be clear of it herself—little likely to be my Lady Rackrent now, should there be a second toss-up to be made. But I told him the whole story out of the face, just as Judy had told it to me, and he sent off a messenger with his compliments to Mount Juliet’s Town that evening, to learn the truth of the report, and Judy bid the boy that was going call in at Tim M’Enerney’s shop in O’Shaughlin’s Town and buy her a new shawl.

’Do so,’ Said Sir Condy, ’and tell Tim to take no money from you, for I must pay him for the shawl myself.’ At this my shister throws me over a look, and I says nothing, but turned the tobacco in my mouth, whilst Judy began making a many words about it, and saying how she could not be beholden for shawls to any gentleman. I left her there to consult with my shister, did she think there was anything in it, and my shister thought I was blind to be asking her the question, and I thought my shister must see more into it than I did, and recollecting all past times and everything, I changed my mind, and came over to her way of thinking, and we settled it that Judy was very like to be my Lady Rackrent after all, if a vacancy should have happened.

The next day, before his honour was up, somebody comes with a double knock at the door, and I was greatly surprised to see it was my son Jason.

’Jason, is it you?’ said I; ’what brings you to the Lodge?’ says I. ’Is it my Lady Rackrent? We know that already since yesterday.’

’Maybe so,’ says he; ’but I must see Sir Condy about it.’

’You can’t see him yet,’ says I; ’sure he is not awake.’

’What then,’ says he, ’can’t he be wakened, and I standing at the door?’

’I’ll not: be disturbing his honour for you, Jason,’ says I; ’many’s the hour you’ve waited in your time, and been proud to do it, till his honour was at leisure to speak to you. His honour,’ says I, raising my voice, at which his honour wakens of his own accord, and calls to me from the room to know who it was I was speaking to. Jason made no more ceremony, but follows me into the room.

’How are you, Sir Condy?’ says he; ’I’m happy to see you looking so well; I came up to know how you did to-day, and to see did you want for anything at the Lodge,’

’Nothing at all, Mr. Jason, I thank you,’ says he; for his honour had his own share of pride, and did not choose, after all that had passed, to be beholden, I suppose, to my son; ’but pray take a chair and be seated, Mr. Jason.’

Jason sat him down upon the chest, for chair there was none, and after he had set there some time, and a silence on all sides.

’What news is there stirring in the country, Mr. Jason M’Quirk?’ says Sir Condy, very easy, yet high like.

’None that’s news to you, Sir Condy, I hear,’ says Jason. ’I am sorry to hear of my Lady Rackrent’s accident.’

’I’m much obliged to you, and so is her ladyship, I’m sure,’ answered Sir Condy, still stiff; and there was another sort of a silence, which seemed to lie the heaviest on my son Jason.

’Sir Condy,’ says he at last, seeing Sir Condy disposing himself to go to sleep again,’Sir Condy, I daresay you recollect mentioning to me the little memorandum you gave to Lady Rackrent about the L500 a year jointure.’

’Very true,’ said Sir Condy; ’it is all in my recollection.’ ’But if my Lady Rackrent dies, there’s an end of all jointure,’ says Jason.

’Of course,’ says Sir Condy.

’But it’s not a matter of certainty that my Lady Rackrent won’t recover,’ says Jason.

’Very true, sir,’ says my master.

’It’s a fair speculation, then, for you to consider what the chance of the jointure of those lands, when out of custodiam, will be to you.’

’Just five hundred a year, I take it, without any speculation at all,’ said Sir Condy.

’That’s supposing the life dropt, and the custodiam off, you know; begging your pardon, Sir Condy, who understands business, that is a wrong calculation.’

’Very likely so,’ said Sir Condy; ’but, Mr. Jason, if you have anything to say to me this morning about it, I’d be obliged to you to say it, for I had an indifferent night’s rest last night, and wouldn’t be sorry to sleep a little this morning.’

’I have only three words to say, and those more of consequence to you, Sir Condy, than me. You are a little cool, I observe; but I hope you will not be offended at what I have brought here in my pocket,’ and he pulls out two long rolls, and showers down golden guineas upon the bed.

’What’s this?’ said Sir Condy; ’it’s long since’—but his pride stops him.

’All these are your lawful property this minute, Sir Condy, if you please,’ said Jason.

’Not for nothing, I’m sure,’ said Sir Condy, and laughs a little. ’Nothing for nothing, or I’m under a mistake with you, Jason.’

’Oh, Sir Condy, we’ll not be indulging ourselves in any unpleasant retrospects,’ says Jason; ’it’s my present intention to behave, as I’m sure you will, like a gentleman in this affair. Here’s two hundred guineas, and a third I mean to add if you should think proper to make over to me all your right and title to those lands that you know of.’

’I’ll consider of it,’ said my master; and a great deal more, that I was tired listening to, was said by Jason, and all that, and the sight of the ready cash upon the bed, worked with his honour; and the short and the long of it was, Sir Condy gathered up the golden guineas, and tied them up in a handkerchief, and signed some paper Jason brought with him as usual, and there was an end of the business: Jason took himself away, and my master turned himself round and fell asleep again.

I soon found what had put Jason in such a hurry to conclude this business. The little gossoon we had sent off the day before with my master’s compliments to Mount Juliet’s Town, and to know how my lady did after her accident, was stopped early this morning, coming back with his answer through O’Shaughlin’s Town, at Castle Rackrent, by my son Jason, and questioned of all he knew of my lady from the servant at Mount Juliet’s Town; and the gossoon told him my Lady Rackrent was not expected to live over night; so Jason thought it high time to he moving to the Lodge, to make his bargain with my master about the jointure afore it should be too late, and afore the little gossoon should reach us with the news. My master was greatly vexed—that is, I may say, as much as ever I seen him when he found how he had been taken in; but it was some comfort to have the ready cash for immediate consumption in the house, anyway.

And when Judy came up that evening, and brought the childer to see his honour, he unties the handkerchief, and—God bless him! whether it was little or much he had, ’twas all the same with him—he gives ’em all round guineas apiece.

’Hold up your head,’ says my shister to Judy, as Sir Condy was busy filling out a glass of punch for her eldest boy—’Hold up your head, Judy; for who knows but we may live to see you yet at the head of the Castle Rackrent estate?’

’Maybe so,’ says she, ’but not the way you are thinking of.’

I did not rightly understand which way Judy was looking when she made this speech till a while after.

’Why, Thady, you were telling me yesterday that Sir Condy had sold all entirely to Jason, and where then does all them guineas in the handkerchief come from?’

’They are the purchase-money of my lady’s jointure,’ says I.

Judy looks a little bit puzzled at this. ’A penny for your thoughts, Judy,’ says my shister; ’hark, sure Sir Condy is drinking her health.’

He was at the table in the room [THE ROOM—the principal room in the house], drinking with the excise-man and the gauger, who came up to see his honour, and we were standing over the fire in the kitchen.

’I don’t much care is he drinking my health or not,’ says Judy; ’and it is not Sir Condy I’m thinking of, with all your jokes, whatever he is of me.’

’Sure you wouldn’t refuse to be my Lady Rackrent, Judy, if you had the offer?’ says I.

’But if I could do better!’ says she.

’How better?’ says I and my shister both at once.

’How better?’ says she. ’Why, what signifies it to be my Lady Rackrent and no castle? Sure what good is the car, and no horse to draw it?’

’And where will ye get the horse, Judy?’ says I.

’Never mind that,’ says she; ’maybe it is your own son Jason might find that.’

’Jason!’ says I; ’don’t be trusting to him, Judy. Sir Condy, as I have good reason to know, spoke well of you when Jason spoke very indifferently of you, Judy.’

’No matter,’ says Judy; ’it’s often men speak the contrary just to what they think of us.’

’And you the same way of them, no doubt,’ answered I. ’Nay, don’t he denying it, Judy, for I think the better of ye for it, and shouldn’t be proud to call ye the daughter of a shister’s son of mine, if I was to hear ye talk ungrateful, and anyway disrespectful of his honour.’

’What disrespect,’ says she, ’to say I’d rather, if it was my luck, be the wife of another man?’

’You’ll have no luck, mind my words, Judy,’ says I; and all I remembered about my poor master’s goodness in tossing up for her afore he married at all came across me, and I had a choking in my throat that hindered me to say more.

’Better luck, anyhow, Thady,’ says she, ’than to be like some folk, following the fortunes of them that have none left.’

Oh! King of Glory!’ says I, ’hear the pride and ungratitude of her, and he giving his last guineas but a minute ago to her childer, and she with the fine shawl on her he made her a present of but yesterday!’

’Oh, troth, Judy, you’re wrong now,’ says my shister, looking at the shawl.

’And was not he wrong yesterday, then,’ says she, ’to be telling me I was greatly altered, to affront me?’

’But, Judy,’ says I, ’what is it brings you here then at all. in the mind you are in; is it to make Jason think the better of you?’

’I’ll tell you no more of my secrets, Thady,’ says she, ’nor would have told you this much, had I taken you for such an unnatural fader as I find you are, not to wish your own son prefarred to another.’

’Oh, troth, you are wrong now, Thady,’ says my shister.

Well, I was never so put to it in my life: between these womens, and my son and my master, and all I felt and thought just now, I could not, upon my conscience, tell which was the wrong from the right. So I said not a word more, but was only glad his honour had not the luck to hear all Judy had been saying of him, for I reckoned it would have gone nigh to break his heart; not that I was of opinion he cared for her as much as she and my shister fancied, but the ungratitude of the whole from Judy might not plase him; and he could never stand the notion of not being well spoken of or beloved like behind his back. Fortunately for all parties concerned, he was so much elevated at this time, there was no danger of his understanding anything, even if it had reached his ears. There was a great horn at the Lodge, ever since my master and Captain Moneygawl was in together, that used to belong originally to the celebrated Sir Patrick, his ancestor; and his honour was fond often of telling the story that he learned from me when a child, how Sir Patrick drank the full of this horn without stopping, and this was what no other man afore or since could without drawing breath. Now Sir Condy challenged the gauger, who seemed to think little of the horn, to swallow the contents, and had it filled to the brim with punch; and the gauger said it was what he could not do for nothing, but he’d hold Sir Condy a hundred guineas he’d do it.

’Done,’ says my master; ’I’ll lay you a hundred golden guineas to a tester you don’t.’ [TESTER: sixpence; from the French word TETE, a head—a piece of silver stamped with a head, which in old French was called UN TESTION, and which was about the value of an old English sixpence. ’Tester’ is used in Shakspeare.]

’Done,’ says the gauger; and done and done’s enough between two gentlemen. The gauger was cast, and my master won the bet, and thought he’d won a hundred guineas, but by the wording it was adjudged to be only a tester that was his due by the exciseman. It was all one to him; he was as well pleased, and I was glad to see him in such spirits again.

The gauger—bad luck to him!—was the man that next proposed to my master to try himself, could he take at a draught the contents of the great horn.

’Sir Patrick’s horn!’ said his honour; ’hand it to me: I’ll hold you your own bet over again I’ll swallow it.’

’Done,’ says the gauger; ’I’ll lay ye anything at all you do no such thing.’

’A hundred guineas to sixpence I do,’ says he; ’bring me the handkerchief.’ I was loth, knowing he meant the handkerchief with the gold in it, to bring it out in such company, and his honour not very able to reckon it. ’Bring me the handkerchief, then, Thady,’ says he, and stamps with his foot; so with that I pulls it out of my greatcoat pocket, where I had put it for safety. Oh, how it grieved me to see the guineas counting upon the table, and they the last my master had! Says Sir Condy to me, ’Your hand is steadier than mine to-night, old Thady, and that’s a wonder; fill you the horn for me.’ And so, wishing his honour success, I did; but I filled it, little thinking of what would befall him. He swallows it down, and drops like one shot. We lifts him up, and he was speechless, and quite black in the face. We put him to bed, and in a short time he wakened, raving with a fever on his brain. He was shocking either to see or hear.

’Judy! Judy! have you no touch of feeling? Won’t you stay to help us nurse him?’ says I to her, and she putting on her shawl to go out of the house.

’I’m frightened to see him,’ says she, ’and wouldn’t nor couldn’t stay in it; and what use? He can’t last till the morning.’ With that she ran off. There was none but my shister and myself left near him of all the many friends he had.

The fever came and went, and came and went, and lasted five days, and the sixth he was sensible for a few minutes, and said to me, knowing me very well, ’I’m in a burning pain all withinside of me, Thady.’ I could not speak, but my shister asked him would he have this thing or t’other to do him good? ’No,’ says he, ’nothing will do me good no more,’ and he gave a terrible screech with the torture he was in; then again a minute’s ease—’brought to this by drink,’ says he. ’Where are all the friends?—where’s Judy? Gone, hey? Ay, Sir Condy has been a fool all his days,’ said he; and there was the last word he spoke, and died. He had but a very poor funeral after all.

If you want to know any more, I’m not very well able to tell you; but my Lady Rackrent did not die, as was expected of her, but was only disfigured in the face ever after by the fall and bruises she got; and she and Jason, immediately after my poor master’s death, set about going to law about that jointure; the memorandum not being on stamped paper, some say it is worth nothing, others again it may do; others say Jason won’t have the lands at any rate; many wishes it so. For my part, I’m tired wishing for anything in this world, after all I’ve seen in it; but I’ll say nothing—it would be a folly to he getting myself ill-will in my old age. Jason did not marry, nor think of marrying Judy, as I prophesied, and I am not sorry for it: who is? As for all I have here set down from memory and hearsay of the family, there’s nothing but truth in it from beginning to end. That you may depend upon, for where’s the use of telling lies about the things which everybody knows as well as I do?

The Editor could have readily made the catastrophe of Sir Condy’s history more dramatic and more pathetic, if he thought it allowable to varnish the plain round tale of faithful Thady. He lays it before the English reader as a specimen of manners and characters which are perhaps unknown in England. Indeed, the domestic habits of no nation in Europe were less known to the English than those of their sister country, till within these few years.

Mr. Young’s picture of Ireland, in his tour through that country, was the first faithful portrait of its inhabitants. All the features in the foregoing sketch were taken from the life, and they are characteristic of that mixture of quickness, simplicity, cunning, carelessness, dissipation, disinterestedness, shrewdness, and blunder, which, in different forms and with various success, has been brought upon the stage or delineated in novels.

It is a problem of difficult solution to determine whether a union will hasten or retard the amelioration of this country. The few gentlemen of education who now reside in this country will resort to England. They are few, but they are in nothing inferior to men of the same rank in Great Britain. The best that can happen will be the introduction of British manufacturers in their places.

Did the Warwickshire militia, who were chiefly artisans, teach the Irish to drink beer? or did they learn from the Irish to drink whisky?



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Chicago: Maria Edgeworth, "Continuation of the Memoirs of the Rackrent Family," Castle Rackrent, trans. Garnett, Constance Black, 1862-1946 in Castle Rackrent (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831), Original Sources, accessed December 6, 2023,

MLA: Edgeworth, Maria. "Continuation of the Memoirs of the Rackrent Family." Castle Rackrent, translted by Garnett, Constance Black, 1862-1946, in Castle Rackrent, London, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831, Original Sources. 6 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Edgeworth, M, 'Continuation of the Memoirs of the Rackrent Family' in Castle Rackrent, trans. . cited in 1831, Castle Rackrent, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London. Original Sources, retrieved 6 December 2023, from