Page images

She was

EDGEWORTH, MARIA, a British novelist, born at Black Bourton, Oxfordshire,, January 1, 1767 ; died at Edgeworthstown, Longford, Ireland, May 22, 1849. She was the daughter of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and his first wife. educated by her father, who, when she was fifteen years of age, removed to Ireland with his family. In 1798 Practical Education, the joint work of father and daughter, was published. Two years later appeared Castle Rackrent, the sole work of the daughter, which at once established her reputation as a novelist. This was followed by another novel, Belinda, and by an Essay on Irish Bulls; the latter, however, was written in partnership with her father. In 1804 appeared Popular Tales ; in 1809–12 Tales of Fashionable Life, including Ennui, The Dun, Manæuvring, Almeira, Vivian, The Absentee, Madame de Fleury, and Emile de Coulanges. These works contain several fine character studies. They were followed by Patronage (1814), and Harrington, Ormond, and Comic Dramas (1817). Mr. Edgeworth died in this year, and his daughter de. voted herself to the completion of his Memoirs, which had been commenced by him. They were published in 1820. In 1822 appeared Rosamond, a Sequel to Early Lessons, to which Mr. Edgeworth had contributed; in 1825 Harry and Lucy, and in 1834 Helen, one of her best novels. Miss Edge. worth aimed to paint national manners, and to enforce morality. Her works are delineations of character, and are characterized by good sense and humor. She is eminently successful in depicting the Irish character. Her vivacious dialogue, varied incidents, and clear and flowing style render her novels, if not intensely interesting, extremely pleasant reading. “As a painter of national life and manners, and an illustrator of the homelier graces of human character, Miss Edgeworth is surpassed by Sir Walter Scott alone; while as a direct moral teacher she has no peer among novelists."



My real name is Thady Quirk, though in the family I have always been known by no other than “honest Thady;" afterward, in the time of Sir Murtagh, deceased, I remember to hear them calling me old Thady,and now I'm come to poor Thady; " for I wear a long great-coat winter and summer, which is very handy, I never put my arms into the sleeves; they are as good as new, though come Holantide next I've had it these seven years; it holds on by a single button round my neck, cloak-fashion. To look at me you would hardly think “poor Thady” was the father of Attorney Quirk; he is a high gentleman, and never minds what poor Thady says, and having better than fifteen hundred a year, landed estate, looks down upon honest Thady ; but I wash my hands of his doings, and as I have lived, so will I die—true and loyal to the family. The family of the Rackrents is, I am proud to say, one of the most ancient in the kingdom. Everybody knows this is not the old family name, which was O'Shaughlin, related to the kings of Ireland—but that was before my time. My grandfather was driver of the great Sir Patrick O'Shaughlin, and I heard him when I was a boy, telling how the Castle Rackrent estate came to Sir

VOL. IX.-7.

Patrick ; Sir Tallyhoo Rackrent was cousin-german to him, and had a fine estate of his own, only never a gate upon it, it being his maxim that a car was the best gate. Poor gentleman ! he lost a fine hunter and his life at last by it, all in one day's hunt. But I ought to bless that day, for the estate came straight into the family, upon one condition that Sir Patrick O'Shaughlin at the time took sadly to heart, they say, but thought better of it afterward, seeing how large a stake depended upon it-that he should, by act of Parliament, take and bear the surname and arms of Rackrent.

Now it was that the world was to see what was in Sir Patrick. On coming into the estate he gave the finest entertainment ever was heard of in the country; not a man could stand after supper but Sir Patrick himself, who could sit out the best man in Ireland, let alone the three kingdoms itself. He had his house, from one year's end to another, as full of company as ever it could hold, and fuller; for rather than be left out of the parties at Castle Rackrent, many gentlemen, and those men of the first consequence and landed estates in the country—such as the O'Neils of Ballynagrotty, and the Moneygawls of Mount Juliet's Town, and O'Shannons of New Town Tullyhog-made it their choice, often and often, when there was no moon to be had for love or money, in long winter nights, to sleep in the chicken house, which Sir Patrick had fitted up for the purpose of accommodating his friends and the public in general, who honored him unexpectedly at Castle Rackrent; and this went on I can't tell you how long—the whole country rang with his praises—Long life to him ! I'm sure I love to look upon his picture, now opposite to me; though I never saw him, he must have been a portly gentleman-his neck something short, and remarkable for the largest pimple on his nose, which, by his particular desire, is still extant in his picture, said to be a striking likeness, though taken when young. He is said also to be the inventor of raspberry whiskey, which is very likely.

A few days before his death he was very merry ; it being his honor's birthday, he called my grandfather in. God bless him! to drink the company's health, and filled a bumper himself, but could not carry it to his head, on account of the great shake in his hand; on this he cast his joke, saying, “What would my poor father say to me if he was to pop out of the grave and see me now? I remember when I was a little boy, the first bumper of claret he gave me after dinner, how he praised me for carrying it so steady to my mouth. Here's my thanks to him-a bumper toast.” Then he fell to singing the favorite song he learned from his father-for the last time, poor gentleman; he sung it that night as loud and as hearty as ever, with a chorus:

He that goes to bed, and goes to bed sober,
Falls as the leaves do, falls as the leaves do, and dies in October ;
But he that goes to bed, and goes to bed mellow,
Lives as he ought to do, lives as he ought to do, and dies an honest


Sir Patrick died that night: just as the company rose to drink his health with three cheers, he fell down in a sort of fit, and was carried off : they sat it out, and were surprised, on inquiry in the morning, to find that it was all over with poor Sir Patrick. Never did any gentleman live and die more beloved in the country by rich and poor. His funeral was such a one as was never known before or since in the history of the county! All the gentlemen in the three counties were at it; far and near how they flocked ! my great-grandfather said, that to see all the women in their red cloaks, you would have taken them for the army drawn out. Then such a fine whillaluh! you might have heard it to the farthest end of the county, and happy the man who could get but a sight of the hearse! But who'd have thought it? just as all was going on right-through his own town they were passing--when the body was seized for debt. Α. rescue was apprehended from the mob, but the heir, who attended the funeral, was against that, for fear of consequences, seeing that those villains who came to serve acted under the disguise of the law ; so, to be sure, the law must take its course, and little gain had the creditors for their pains. First and foremost, they had the curses of the country; and Sir Murtagh Rackrent, the new heir, in the next place, on account of this affront to the body, refused to pay a shilling of the debts, in


which he was countenanced by all the best gentlemen of property, and others of his acquaintance.

Sir Murtagh-I forgot entirely to mention that -had no childer, so the Rackrent estate went to his younger brother, a young dashing officer, who came among us before I knew for the life of me whereabouts I was, in a gig or some of them things, with another spark along with him, and led-horses, and servants, and dogs, and scarce a place to put any Christian of them into; for my late lady had sent all the feather-beds off before her, and blankets and household linen, down to the very knife-cloths, on the cars to Dublin, which were all her own, lawfully paid for out of her own money. So the house was quite bare, and my young master, the moment ever he set foot in it out of his gig, thought all those things must come of themselves, I believe, for he never looked after anything at all, but harum-scarum called for everything, as if we were conjurors, or hin a public house. For my part, I could not bestir myself anyhow ; I had been so much used to my late master and mistress, all was upside down with me, and the new servants in the servants' hall were quite out of my way; I had nobody to talk to, and if it had not been for my pipe and tobacco should, I verily believe, have broke my heart for poor Sir Murtagh. But one morning as my new master caught a glimpse of me, as I was looking at his horse's heels in hopes of a word from him. And is that old Thady?" says he, as he got into his gig. I loved him from that day to this, his voice was so like the family ; and he threw me a guinea out of his waistcoat pocket, as he drew up the reins with his other hand, his horse rearing too ; I thought I never set my eyes on a finer figure of a man, quite another sort from Sir Murtagh, though withal, to me, a family likeness. A fine life should we have led had he staid among us, God bless him! He valued a guinea as little as any man ; money to him was no more than dirt, and his gentleman, and groom, and all belonging to him, the same; but the sporting season over, he grew tired of the place, and having got down a great architect for the house, and an improver for the grounds, and seen their plans and elevations, he fixed a day for settling

« EelmineJätka »