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The Purcell Papers, Volume 1 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

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The 'Memoir' is nearly all in italics,
it was typed in by Judith Boss, Omaha, Nebraska.
Scanned by Charles Keller with
OmniPage Professional OCR software
donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226.
Contact Mike Lough



With a Memoir by





A noble Huguenot family, owning
considerable property in Normandy, the Le
Fanus of Caen, were, upon the revocation of the
Edict of Nantes, deprived of their ancestral estates
of Mandeville, Sequeville, and Cresseron; but,
owing to their possessing influential relatives at
the court of Louis the Fourteenth, were allowed
to quit their country for England, unmolested,
with their personal property. We meet with
John Le Fanu de Sequeville and Charles Le Fanu
de Cresseron, as cavalry officers in William the
Third's army; Charles being so distinguished a
member of the King's staff that he was presented
with William's portrait from his master's own
hand. He afterwards served as a major of
dragoons under Marlborough.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century,
William Le Fanu was the sole survivor of his
family. He married Henrietta Raboteau de
Puggibaut, the last of another great and noble
Huguenot family, whose escape from France, as
a child, by the aid of a Roman Catholic uncle in
high position at the French court, was effected
after adventures of the most romantic danger.

Joseph Le Fanu, the eldest of the sons of this
marriage who left issue, held the office of Clerk of
the Coast in Ireland. He married for the second
time Alicia, daughter of Thomas Sheridan and
sister of Richard Brinsley Sheridan; his brother,
Captain Henry Le Fanu, of Leamington, being
united to the only other sister of the great wit
and orator.

Dean Thomas Philip Le Fanu, the eldest son
of Joseph Le Fanu, became by his wife Emma,
daughter of Dr. Dobbin, F.T.C.D., the father of
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the subject of this
memoir, whose name is so familiar to English
and American readers as one of the greatest
masters of the weird and the terrible amongst
our modern novelists.

Born in Dublin on the 28th of August, 1814,
he did not begin to speak until he was more
than two years of age; but when he had once
started, the boy showed an unusual aptitude in
acquiring fresh words, and using them correctly.

The first evidence of literary taste which he
gave was in his sixth year, when he made
several little sketches with explanatory remarks
written beneath them, after the manner of Du
Maurier's, or Charles Keene's humorous illustrations
in 'Punch.'

One of these, preserved long afterwards by
his mother, represented a balloon in mid-air,
and two aeronauts, who had occupied it, falling
headlong to earth, the disaster being explained
by these words: 'See the effects of trying to go
to Heaven.'

As a mere child, he was a remarkably good
actor, both in tragic and comic pieces, and was
hardly twelve years old when he began to write
verses of singular spirit for one so young. At
fourteen, he produced a long Irish poem, which
he never permitted anyone but his mother and
brother to read. To that brother, Mr. William
Le Fanu, Commissioner of Public Works,
Ireland, to whom, as the suggester of
Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Phaudrig Croohore' and
'Shamus O'Brien,' Irish ballad literature owes a
delightful debt, and whose richly humorous and
passionately pathetic powers as a raconteur of
these poems have only doubled that obligation in
the hearts of those who have been happy enough
to be his hearers--to Mr. William Le Fanu
we are indebted for the following extracts from
the first of his works, which the boy-author seems
to have set any store by:

'Muse of Green Erin, break thine icy slumbers!
Strike once again thy wreathed lyre!
Burst forth once more and wake thy tuneful numbers!
Kindle again thy long-extinguished fire!

'Why should I bid thee, Muse of Erin, waken?
Why should I bid thee strike thy harp once more?
Better to leave thee silent and forsaken
Than wake thee but thy glories to deplore.

'How could I bid thee tell of Tara's Towers,
Where once thy sceptred Princes sate in state--
Where rose thy music, at the festive hours,
Through the proud halls where listening thousands

'Fallen are thy fair palaces, thy country's glory,
Thy tuneful bards were banished or were slain,
Some rest in glory on their deathbeds gory,
And some have lived to feel a foeman's chain.

'Yet for the sake of thy unhappy nation,
Yet for the sake of Freedom's spirit fled,
Let thy wild harpstrings, thrilled with indignation,
Peal a deep requiem o'er thy sons that bled.

'O yes! like the last breath of evening sighing,
Sweep thy cold hand the silent strings along,
Flash like the lamp beside the hero dying,
Then hushed for ever be thy plaintive song.'

To Mr. William Le Fanu we are further
indebted for the accompanying specimens of his
brother's serious and humorous powers in verse,
written when he was quite a lad, as valentines
to a Miss G. K.:

'Life were too long for me to bear
If banished from thy view;
Life were too short, a thousand year,
If life were passed with you.

'Wise men have said "Man's lot on earth
Is grief and melancholy,"
But where thou art, there joyous mirth
Proves all their wisdom folly.

'If fate withhold thy love from me,
All else in vain were given;
Heaven were imperfect wanting thee,
And with thee earth were heaven.'

A few days after, he sent the following sequel:

'My dear good Madam,
You can't think how very sad I'm.
I sent you, or I mistake myself foully,
A very excellent imitation of the poet Cowley,
Containing three very fair stanzas,
Which number Longinus, a very critical man, says,
And Aristotle, who was a critic ten times more caustic,
To a nicety fits a valentine or an acrostic.
And yet for all my pains to this moving epistle,
I have got no answer, so I suppose I may go whistle.
Perhaps you'd have preferred that like an old monk I had pattered
In the style and after the manner of the unfortunate Chatterton;
Or that, unlike my reverend daddy's son,
I had attempted the classicalities of the dull, though immortal
I can't endure this silence another week;
What shall I do in order to make you speak?
Shall I give you a trope
In the manner of Pope,
Or hammer my brains like an old smith
To get out something like Goldsmith?
Or shall I aspire on
To tune my poetic lyre on
The same key touched by Byron,
And laying my hand its wire on,
With its music your soul set fire on
By themes you ne'er could tire on?
Or say,
I pray,
Would a lay
Like Gay
Be more in your way?
I leave it to you,
Which am I to do?
It plain on the surface is
That any metamorphosis,
To affect your study
You may work on my soul or body.
Your frown or your smile makes me Savage or Gay
In action, as well as in song;
And if 'tis decreed I at length become Gray,
Express but the word and I'm Young;
And if in the Church I should ever aspire
With friars and abbots to cope,
By a nod, if you please, you can make me a Prior--
By a word you render me Pope.
If you'd eat, I'm a Crab; if you'd cut, I'm your Steel,
As sharp as you'd get from the cutler;
I'm your Cotton whene'er you're in want of a reel,
And your livery carry, as Butler.
I'll ever rest your debtor
If you'll answer my first letter;
Or must, alas, eternity
Witness your taciturnity?
Speak--and oh! speak quickly
Or else I shall grow sickly,
And pine,
And whine,
And grow yellow and brown
As e'er was mahogany,
And lie me down
And die in agony.

P.S.--You'll allow I have the gift
To write like the immortal Swift.'

But besides the poetical powers with which he
was endowed, in common with the great Brinsley,
Lady Dufferin, and the Hon. Mrs. Norton,
young Sheridan Le Fanu also possessed an
irresistible humour and oratorical gift that,
as a student of Old Trinity, made him a
formidable rival of the best of the young debaters
of his time at the 'College Historical,' not a
few of whom have since reached the highest
eminence at the Irish Bar, after having long
enlivened and charmed St. Stephen's by their
wit and oratory.

Amongst his compeers he was remarkable for
his sudden fiery eloquence of attack, and ready
and rapid powers of repartee when on his
defence. But Le Fanu, whose understanding was
elevated by a deep love of the classics, in which
he took university honours, and further heightened
by an admirable knowledge of our own
great authors, was not to be tempted away by
oratory from literature, his first and, as it
proved, his last love.

Very soon after leaving college, and just when
he was called to the Bar, about the year 1838,
he bought the 'Warder,' a Dublin newspaper,
of which he was editor, and took what many
of his best friends and admirers, looking to
his high prospects as a barrister, regarded at
the time as a fatal step in his career to

Just before this period, Le Fanu had taken
to writing humorous Irish stories, afterwards
published in the 'Dublin University Magazine,'
such as the 'Quare Gander,' 'Jim Sulivan's
Adventure,' 'The Ghost and the Bone-setter,' etc.

These stories his brother William Le Fanu
was in the habit of repeating for his friends'
amusement, and about the year 1837, when he
was about twenty-three years of age, Joseph
Le Fanu said to him that he thought an
Irish story in verse would tell well, and
that if he would choose him a subject suitable
for recitation, he would write him one.
'Write me an Irish "Young Lochinvar," '
said his brother; and in a few days he
handed him 'Phaudrig Croohore'--Anglice,
'Patrick Crohore.'

Of course this poem has the disadvantage not
only of being written after 'Young Lochinvar,'
but also that of having been directly inspired by
it; and yet, although wanting in the rare and
graceful finish of the original, the Irish copy
has, we feel, so much fire and feeling that it at
least tempts us to regret that Scott's poem was
not written in that heart-stirring Northern
dialect without which the noblest of our British
ballads would lose half their spirit. Indeed, we
may safely say that some of Le Fanu's lines
are finer than any in 'Young Lochinvar,'
simply because they seem to speak straight from
a people's heart, not to be the mere echoes of
medieval romance.

'Phaudrig Croohore' did not appear in
print in the 'Dublin University Magazine'
till 1844, twelve years after its composition,
when it was included amongst the Purcell

To return to the year 1837. Mr. William Le
Fanu, the suggester of this ballad, who was from
home at the time, now received daily instalments
of the second and more remarkable of his brother's
Irish poems--'Shamus O'Brien' (James O'Brien)
--learning them by heart as they reached him,
and, fortunately, never forgetting them, for his
brother Joseph kept no copy of the ballad, and he
had himself to write it out from memory ten
years after, when the poem appeared in the
'University Magazine.'

Few will deny that this poem contains passages
most faithfully, if fearfully, picturesque,
and that it is characterised throughout by a
profound pathos, and an abundant though at
times a too grotesquely incongruous humour.
Can we wonder, then, at the immense popularity
with which Samuel Lover recited it in the United
States? For to Lover's admiration of the poem,
and his addition of it to his entertainment,
'Shamus O'Brien' owes its introduction into
America, where it is now so popular. Lover
added some lines of his own to the poem, made
Shamus emigrate to the States, and set up
a public-house. These added lines appeared
in most of the published versions of the
poem. But they are indifferent as verse, and
certainly injure the dramatic effect of the

'Shamus O'Brien' is so generally attributed to
Lover (indeed we remember seeing it advertised
for recitation on the occasion of a benefit at a
leading London theatre as 'by Samuel Lover')
that it is a satisfaction to be able to reproduce
the following letter upon the subject from Lover
to William le Fanu:

'Astor House,
'New York, U.S. America.
'Sept. 30, 1846.

'My dear Le Fanu,

'In reading over your brother's poem
while I crossed the Atlantic, I became more and
more impressed with its great beauty and dramatic
effect--so much so that I determined to
test its effect in public, and have done so here,
on my first appearance, with the greatest success.
Now I have no doubt there will be great praises
of the poem, and people will suppose, most likely,
that the composition is mine, and as you know
(I take for granted) that I would not wish to
wear a borrowed feather, I should be glad to
give your brother's name as the author, should
he not object to have it known; but as his
writings are often of so different a tone, I would
not speak without permission to do so. It is
true that in my programme my name is attached
to other pieces, and no name appended to the
recitation; so far, you will see, I have done all
I could to avoid "appropriating," the spirit of
which I might have caught here, with Irish
aptitude; but I would like to have the means
of telling all whom it may concern the name of
the author, to whose head and heart it does so
much honour. Pray, my dear Le Fanu, inquire,
and answer me here by next packet, or as soon
as convenient. My success here has been quite
'Yours very truly,

We have heard it said (though without having
inquired into the truth of the tradition) that
'Shamus O'Brien' was the result of a match at
pseudo-national ballad writing made between Le
Fanu and several of the most brilliant of his
young literary confreres at T. C. D. But
however this may be, Le Fanu undoubtedly was no
young Irelander; indeed he did the stoutest
service as a press writer in the Conservative
interest, and was no doubt provoked as well as
amused at the unexpected popularity to which
his poem attained amongst the Irish Nationalists.
And here it should be remembered that the ballad
was written some eleven years before the outbreak
of '48, and at a time when a '98 subject might
fairly have been regarded as legitimate literary
property amongst the most loyal.

We left Le Fanu as editor of the 'Warder.'
He afterwards purchased the 'Dublin Evening
Packet,' and much later the half-proprietorship
of the 'Dublin Evening Mail.' Eleven or twelve
years ago he also became the owner and editor
of the 'Dublin University Magazine,' in which
his later as well as earlier Irish Stories
appeared. He sold it about a year before his death
in 1873, having previously parted with the
'Warder' and his share in the 'Evening

He had previously published in the 'Dublin
University Magazine' a number of charming
lyrics, generally anonymously, and it is to be
feared that all clue to the identification of
most of these is lost, except that of internal

The following poem, undoubtedly his, should
make general our regret at being unable to fix
with certainty upon its fellows:

'One wild and distant bugle sound
Breathed o'er Killarney's magic shore
Will shed sweet floating echoes round
When that which made them is no more.

'So slumber in the human heart
Wild echoes, that will sweetly thrill
The words of kindness when the voice
That uttered them for aye is still.

'Oh! memory, though thy records tell
Full many a tale of grief and sorrow,
Of mad excess, of hope decayed,
Of dark and cheerless melancholy;

'Still, memory, to me thou art
The dearest of the gifts of mind,
For all the joys that touch my heart
Are joys that I have left behind.

Le Fanu's literary life may be divided into
three distinct periods. During the first of these,
and till his thirtieth year, he was an Irish
ballad, song, and story writer, his first published
story being the 'Adventures of Sir Robert
Ardagh,' which appeared in the 'Dublin University
Magazine' of 1838.

In 1844 he was united to Miss Susan Bennett,
the beautiful daughter of the late George
Bennett, Q.C. From this time until her decease,
in 1858, he devoted his energies almost entirely
to press work, making, however, his first essays
in novel writing during that period. The
'Cock and Anchor,' a chronicle of old Dublin
city, his first and, in the opinion of competent
critics, one of the best of his novels, seeing the
light about the year 1850. This work, it is to
be feared, is out of print, though there is now a
cheap edition of 'Torlogh O'Brien,' its immediate
successor. The comparative want of success
of these novels seems to have deterred Le Fanu
from using his pen, except as a press writer,
until 1863, when the 'House by the Churchyard'
was published, and was soon followed by 'Uncle
Silas' and his five other well-known novels.

We have considered Le Fanu as a ballad
writer and poet. As a press writer he is still
most honourably remembered for his learning
and brilliancy, and the power and point of his
sarcasm, which long made the 'Dublin Evening
Mail' one of the most formidable of Irish press
critics; but let us now pass to the consideration
of him in the capacity of a novelist, and in
particular as the author of 'Uncle Silas.'

There are evidences in 'Shamus O'Brien,' and
even in 'Phaudrig Croohore,' of a power over
the mysterious, the grotesque, and the horrible,
which so singularly distinguish him as a writer
of prose fiction.

'Uncle Silas,' the fairest as well as most
familiar instance of this enthralling spell over
his readers, is too well known a story to tell in
detail. But how intensely and painfully distinct
is the opening description of the silent, inflexible
Austin Ruthyn of Knowl, and his shy, sweet
daughter Maude, the one so resolutely confident
in his brother's honour, the other so romantically
and yet anxiously interested in her uncle--the
sudden arrival of Dr. Bryerly, the strange
Swedenborgian, followed by the equally unexpected
apparition of Madame de la Rougiere,
Austin Ruthyn's painful death, and the reading of his strange
will consigning poor Maude to
the protection of her unknown Uncle Silas--her
cousin, good, bright devoted Monica Knollys, and
her dreadful distrust of Silas--Bartram Haugh
and its uncanny occupants, and foremost amongst
them Uncle Silas.

This is his portrait:

'A face like marble, with a fearful monumental
look, and for an old man, singularly
vivid, strange eyes, the singularity of which
rather grew upon me as I looked; for his
eyebrows were still black, though his hair
descended from his temples in long locks of the
purest silver and fine as silk, nearly to his

'He rose, tall and slight, a little stooped, all
in black, with an ample black velvet tunic,
which was rather a gown than a coat. . . .

'I know I can't convey in words an idea of
this apparition, drawn, as it seemed, in black
and white, venerable, bloodless, fiery-eyed, with
its singular look of power, and an expression so
bewildering--was it derision, or anguish, or
cruelty, or patience?

'The wild eyes of this strange old man were
fixed on me as he rose; an habitual contraction,
which in certain lights took the character of a
scowl, did not relax as he advanced towards me
with a thin-lipped smile.'

Old Dicken and his daughter Beauty, old
L'Amour and Dudley Ruthyn, now enter upon
the scene, each a fresh shadow to deepen its
already sombre hue, while the gloom gathers in
spite of the glimpse of sunshine shot through it
by the visit to Elverston. Dudley's brutal
encounter with Captain Oakley, and vile persecution
of poor Maude till his love marriage comes to
light, lead us on to the ghastly catastrophe, the
hideous conspiracy of Silas and his son against
the life of the innocent girl.

It is interesting to know that the germ of
Uncle Silas first appeared in the 'Dublin
University Magazine' of 1837 or 1838, as the
short tale, entitled, 'A Passage from the Secret
History of an Irish Countess,' which is printed
in this collection of Stories. It next was published
as 'The Murdered Cousin' in a collection of
Christmas stories, and finally developed into the
three-volume novel we have just noticed.

There are about Le Fanu's narratives touches
of nature which reconcile us to their always
remarkable and often supernatural incidents.
His characters are well conceived and distinctly
drawn, and strong soliloquy and easy dialogue
spring unaffectedly from their lips. He is a close
observer of Nature, and reproduces her wilder
effects of storm and gloom with singular
vividness; while he is equally at home in his
descriptions of still life, some of which remind
us of the faithfully minute detail of old Dutch

Mr. Wilkie Collins, amongst our living
novelists, best compares with Le Fanu. Both of
these writers are remarkable for the ingenious
mystery with which they develop their plots, and
for the absorbing, if often over-sensational, nature
of their incidents; but whilst Mr. Collins excites
and fascinates our attention by an intense power
of realism which carries us with unreasoning
haste from cover to cover of his works, Le
Fanu is an idealist, full of high imagination,
and an artist who devotes deep attention to the
most delicate detail in his portraiture of men
and women, and his descriptions of the outdoor
and indoor worlds--a writer, therefore,
through whose pages it would be often an
indignity to hasten. And this more leisurely,
and certainly more classical, conduct of his
stories makes us remember them more fully and
faithfully than those of the author of the
'Woman in White.' Mr. Collins is generally
dramatic, and sometimes stagy, in his effects.
Le Fanu, while less careful to arrange his plots,
so as to admit of their being readily adapted
for the stage, often surprises us by scenes of so
much greater tragic intensity that we cannot
but lament that he did not, as Mr. Collins has
done, attempt the drama, and so furnish another
ground of comparison with his fellow-countryman,
Maturin (also, if we mistake not, of French
origin), whom, in his writings, Le Fanu far
more closely resembles than Mr. Collins, as a
master of the darker and stronger emotions of
human character. But, to institute a broader
ground of comparison between Le Fanu and
Mr. Collins, whilst the idiosyncrasies of the
former's characters, however immaterial those
characters may be, seem always to suggest the
minutest detail of his story, the latter would
appear to consider plot as the prime, character
as a subsidiary element in the art of novel

Those who possessed the rare privilege of Le
Fanu's friendship, and only they, can form any
idea of the true character of the man; for after
the death of his wife, to whom he was most
deeply devoted, he quite forsook general society,
in which his fine features, distinguished bearing,
and charm of conversation marked him out as
the beau-ideal of an Irish wit and scholar of
the old school.

From this society he vanished so entirely that
Dublin, always ready with a nickname, dubbed
him 'The Invisible Prince;' and indeed he was
for long almost invisible, except to his family
and most familiar friends, unless at odd hours
of the evening, when he might occasionally be
seen stealing, like the ghost of his former self,
between his newspaper office and his home in
Merrion Square; sometimes, too, he was to be
encountered in an old out-of-the-way bookshop
poring over some rare black letter Astrology or

To one of these old bookshops he was at one
time a pretty frequent visitor, and the bookseller
relates how he used to come in and ask with
his peculiarly pleasant voice and smile, 'Any
more ghost stories for me, Mr. -----?' and
how, on a fresh one being handed to him, he
would seldom leave the shop until he had looked
it through. This taste for the supernatural
seems to have grown upon him after his wife's
death, and influenced him so deeply that, had he
not been possessed of a deal of shrewd common
sense, there might have been danger of his
embracing some of the visionary doctrines in which
he was so learned. But no! even Spiritualism,
to which not a few of his brother novelists
succumbed, whilst affording congenial material for
our artist of the superhuman to work upon, did
not escape his severest satire.

Shortly after completing his last novel, strange
to say, bearing the title 'Willing to Die,' Le
Fanu breathed his last at his home No. 18,
Merrion Square South, at the age of fifty-nine.

'He was a man,' writes the author of a brief
memoir of him in the 'Dublin University
Magazine,' 'who thought deeply, especially on
religious subjects. To those who knew him he
was very dear; they admired him for his
learning, his sparkling wit, and pleasant
conversation, and loved him for his manly virtues, for
his noble and generous qualities, his gentleness,
and his loving, affectionate nature.' And all
who knew the man must feel how deeply deserved
are these simple words of sincere regard for
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.

Le Fanu's novels are accessible to all; but
his Purcell Papers are now for the first time
collected and published, by the permission of his
eldest son (the late Mr. Philip Le Fanu), and
very much owing to the friendly and active
assistance of his brother, Mr. William Le Fanu.



In looking over the papers of my
late valued and respected friend,
Francis Purcell, who for nearly
fifty years discharged the arduous duties of
a parish priest in the south of Ireland, I
met with the following document. It is
one of many such; for he was a curious
and industrious collector of old local
traditions--a commodity in
which the quarter
where he resided mightily abounded. The
collection and arrangement of such legends
was, as long as I can remember him, his
hobby; but I had never learned that his
love of the marvellous and whimsical had
carried him so far as to prompt him to
commit the results of his inquiries to
writing, until, in the character of residuary
legatee, his will put me in possession of all
his manuscript papers. To such as may
think the composing of such productions
as these inconsistent with the character
and habits of a country priest, it is necessary
to observe, that there did exist a race
of priests--those of the old school, a race
now nearly extinct--whose education
abroad tended to produce in them tastes
more literary than have yet been evinced
by the alumni of Maynooth.

It is perhaps necessary to add that the
superstition illustrated by the following
story, namely, that the corpse last buried
is obliged, during his juniority of interment,
to supply his brother tenants of the
churchyard in which he lies, with fresh
water to allay the burning thirst of
purgatory, is prevalent throughout the south of

The writer can vouch for a case in
which a respectable and wealthy farmer,
on the borders of Tipperary, in tenderness
to the corns of his departed helpmate,
enclosed in her coffin two pair of brogues, a
light and a heavy, the one for dry, the
other for sloppy weather; seeking thus to
mitigate the fatigues of her inevitable
perambulations in procuring water and
administering it to the thirsty souls of
purgatory. Fierce and desperate conflicts
have ensued in the case of two funeral
parties approaching the same churchyard
together, each endeavouring to secure to
his own dead priority of sepulture, and a
consequent immunity from the tax levied
upon the pedestrian powers of the last-
comer. An instance not long since
occurred, in which one of two such parties,
through fear of losing to their deceased
friend this inestimable advantage, made
their way to the churchyard by a short cut,
and, in violation of one of their strongest
prejudices, actually threw the coffin over
the wall, lest time should be lost in making
their entrance through the gate. Innumerable
instances of the same kind might be
quoted, all tending to show how strongly
among the peasantry of the south this
superstition is entertained. However, I
shall not detain the reader further by
any prefatory remarks, but shall proceed
to lay before him the following:

Extract from the MS. Papers of the late
Rev. Francis Purcell, of Drumcoolagh.

I tell the following particulars, as
nearly as I can recollect them, in the
words of the narrator. It may be necessary
to observe that he was what is termed
a well-spoken man, having for a considerable
time instructed the ingenious youth
of his native parish in such of the liberal
arts and sciences as he found it convenient
to profess--a circumstance which may account
for the occurrence of several big
words in the course of this narrative, more
distinguished for euphonious effect than
for correctness of application. I proceed
then, without further preface, to lay
before you the wonderful adventures of
Terry Neil.

'Why, thin, 'tis a quare story, an' as
thrue as you're sittin' there; and I'd make
bould to say there isn't a boy in the seven
parishes could tell it better nor crickther
than myself, for 'twas my father himself it
happened to, an' many's the time I heerd
it out iv his own mouth; an' I can say, an'
I'm proud av that same, my father's word
was as incredible as any squire's oath in the
counthry; and so signs an' if a poor man
got into any unlucky throuble, he was
the boy id go into the court an' prove; but
that doesn't signify--he was as honest and
as sober a man, barrin' he was a little bit
too partial to the glass, as you'd find in a
day's walk; an' there wasn't the likes of
him in the counthry round for nate labourin'
an' baan diggin'; and he was mighty handy
entirely for carpenther's work, and men
din' ould spudethrees, an' the likes i' that.
An' so he tuk up with bone-settin', as
was most nathural, for none of them could
come up to him in mendin' the leg iv a stool
or a table; an' sure, there never was a bone-
setter got so much custom-man an' child,
young an' ould--there never was such
breakin' and mendin' of bones known in
the memory of man. Well, Terry Neil--
for that was my father's name--began to
feel his heart growin' light, and his purse
heavy; an' he took a bit iv a farm in Squire
Phelim's ground, just undher the ould castle,
an' a pleasant little spot it was; an' day an'
mornin' poor crathurs not able to put a foot
to the ground, with broken arms and broken
legs, id be comin' ramblin' in from all quarters
to have their bones spliced up. Well,
yer honour, all this was as well as well could
be; but it was customary when Sir Phelim
id go anywhere out iv the country, for some
iv the tinants to sit up to watch in the ould
castle, just for a kind of compliment to the
ould family--an' a mighty unplisant compliment
it was for the tinants, for there
wasn't a man of them but knew there was
something quare about the ould castle. The
neighbours had it, that the squire's ould
grandfather, as good a gintlenlan--God be
with him--as I heer'd, as ever stood in
shoe-leather, used to keep walkin' about in
the middle iv the night, ever sinst he
bursted a blood vessel pullin' out a cork
out iv a bottle, as you or I might be doin',
and will too, plase God--but that doesn't
signify. So, as I was sayin', the ould
squire used to come down out of the
frame, where his picthur was hung up, and
to break the bottles and glasses--God be
marciful to us all--an' dthrink all he could
come at--an' small blame to him for that
same; and then if any of the family id be
comin' in, he id be up again in his place,
looking as quite an' as innocent as if he
didn't know anything about it--the
mischievous ould chap

'Well, your honour, as I was sayin', one
time the family up at the castle was stayin'
in Dublin for a week or two; and so, as
usual, some of the tinants had to sit up in
the castle, and the third night it kem to
my father's turn. "Oh, tare an' ouns!"
says he unto himself, "an' must I sit up
all night, and that ould vagabone of a
sperit, glory be to God," says he,
"serenadin' through the house, an' doin' all
sorts iv mischief?" However, there was
no gettin' aff, and so he put a bould face
on it, an' he went up at nightfall with a
bottle of pottieen, and another of holy

'It was rainin' smart enough, an' the
evenin' was darksome and gloomy, when
my father got in; and what with the rain
he got, and the holy wather he sprinkled
on himself, it wasn't long till he had to
swally a cup iv the pottieen, to keep the
cowld out iv his heart. It was the ould
steward, Lawrence Connor, that opened
the door--and he an' my father wor
always very great. So when he seen who
it was, an' my father tould him how it
was his turn to watch in the castle, he
offered to sit up along with him; and you
may be sure my father wasn't sorry for
that same. So says Larry:

' "We'll have a bit iv fire in the
parlour," says he.

' "An' why not in the hall?" says my
father, for he knew that the squire's
picthur was hung in the parlour.

' "No fire can be lit in the hall," says
Lawrence, "for there's an ould jackdaw's
nest in the chimney."

' "Oh thin," says my father, "let us
stop in the kitchen, for it's very unproper
for the likes iv me to be sittin' in the
parlour," says he.

' "Oh, Terry, that can't be," says
Lawrence; "if we keep up the ould
custom at all, we may as well keep it up
properly," says he.

' "Divil sweep the ould custom!" says
my father--to himself, do ye mind, for he
didn't like to let Lawrence see that he was
more afeard himself.

' "Oh, very well," says he. "I'm
agreeable, Lawrence," says he; and so
down they both wint to the kitchen, until
the fire id be lit in the parlour--an' that
same wasn't long doin'.

'Well, your honour, they soon wint up
again, an' sat down mighty comfortable by
the parlour fire, and they beginned to talk,
an' to smoke, an' to dhrink a small taste iv
the pottieen; and, moreover, they had a
good rousin' fire o' bogwood and turf, to
warm their shins over.

'Well, sir, as I was sayin' they kep'
convarsin' and smokin' together most
agreeable, until Lawrence beginn'd to get
sleepy, as was but nathural for him, for he
was an ould sarvint man, and was used to
a great dale iv sleep.

' "Sure it's impossible," says my father,
"it's gettin' sleepy you are?"

' "Oh, divil a taste," says Larry; "I'm
only shuttin' my eyes," says he, "to keep
out the parfume o' the tibacky smoke,
that's makin' them wather," says he.
"So don't you mind other people's
business," says he, stiff enough, for he had
a mighty high stomach av his own (rest
his sowl), "and go on," says he, "with
your story, for I'm listenin'," says he,
shuttin' down his eyes.

'Well, when my father seen spakin'
was no use, he went on with his story.
By the same token, it was the story of
Jim Soolivan and his ould goat he was
tellin'--an' a plisant story it is--an'
there was so much divarsion in it, that
it was enough to waken a dormouse, let
alone to pervint a Christian goin' asleep.
But, faix, the way my father tould it, I
believe there never was the likes heerd
sinst nor before, for he bawled out every
word av it, as if the life was fairly
lavin' him, thrying to keep ould Larry
awake; but, faix, it was no use, for the
hoorsness came an him, an' before he kem
to the end of his story Larry O'Connor
beginned to snore like a bagpipes.

' "Oh, blur an' agres," says my father,
"isn't this a hard case," says he, "that
ould villain, lettin' on to be my friend, and
to go asleep this way, an' us both in the
very room with a sperit," says he. "The
crass o' Christ about us!" says he; and
with that he was goin' to shake Lawrence
to waken him, but he just remimbered if
he roused him, that he'd surely go off to
his bed, an' lave him complately alone, an'
that id be by far worse.

' "Oh thin," says my father, "I'll not
disturb the poor boy. It id be neither
friendly nor good-nathured," says he, "to
tormint him while he is asleep," says he;
"only I wish I was the same way,
myself," says he.

'An' with that he beginned to walk up
an' down, an' sayin' his prayers, until he
worked himself into a sweat, savin' your
presence. But it was all no good; so he
dthrunk about a pint of sperits, to compose
his mind.

' "Oh," says he, "I wish to the Lord I
was as asy in my mind as Larry there.
Maybe," says he, "if I thried I could go
asleep;" an' with that he pulled a big arm-
chair close beside Lawrence, an' settled
himself in it as well as he could.

'But there was one quare thing I forgot
to tell you. He couldn't help, in spite
av himself, lookin' now an' thin at the
picthur, an' he immediately obsarved that
the eyes av it was follyin' him about, an'
starin' at him, an' winkin' at him, wher-
iver he wint. "Oh," says he, when he
seen that, "it's a poor chance I have,"
says he; "an' bad luck was with me the
day I kem into this unforthunate place,"
says he. "But any way there's no use in
bein' freckened now," says he; "for if I
am to die, I may as well parspire
undaunted," says he.

'Well, your honour, he thried to keep
himself quite an' asy, an' he thought two
or three times he might have wint asleep,
but for the way the storm was groanin'
and creakin' through the great heavy
branches outside, an' whistlin' through the
ould chimleys iv the castle. Well, afther
one great roarin' blast iv the wind, you'd
think the walls iv the castle was just goin'
to fall, quite an' clane, with the shakin' iv
it. All av a suddint the storm stopt, as
silent an' as quite as if it was a July
evenin'. Well, your honour, it wasn't
stopped blowin' for three minnites, before
he thought he hard a sort iv a noise over
the chimley-piece; an' with that my
father just opened his eyes the smallest
taste in life, an' sure enough he seen the
ould squire gettin' out iv the picthur, for
all the world as if he was throwin' aff his
ridin' coat, until he stept out clane an'
complate, out av the chimley-piece, an'
thrun himself down an the floor. Well,
the slieveen ould chap--an' my father
thought it was the dirtiest turn iv all--
before he beginned to do anything out iv
the way, he stopped for a while to listen
wor they both asleep; an' as soon as he
thought all was quite, he put out his hand
and tuk hould iv the whisky bottle, an
dhrank at laste a pint iv it. Well, your
honour, when he tuk his turn out iv it, he
settled it back mighty cute entirely, in the
very same spot it was in before. An' he
beginned to walk up an' down the room,
lookin' as sober an' as solid as if he never
done the likes at all. An' whinever he
went apast my father, he thought he felt a
great scent of brimstone, an' it was that
that freckened him entirely; for he knew
it was brimstone that was burned in hell,
savin' your presence. At any rate, he
often heerd it from Father Murphy, an'
he had a right to know what belonged to
it--he's dead since, God rest him. Well,
your honour, my father was asy enough
until the sperit kem past him; so close,
God be marciful to us all, that the smell iv
the sulphur tuk the breath clane out iv
him; an' with that he tuk such a fit iv
coughin', that it al-a-most shuk him out
iv the chair he was sittin' in.

' "Ho, ho!" says the squire, stoppin'
short about two steps aff, and turnin'
round facin' my father, "is it you that's
in it?--an' how's all with you, Terry

' "At your honour's sarvice," says my
father (as well as the fright id let him,
for he was more dead than alive), "an'
it's proud I am to see your honour to-
night," says he.

' "Terence," says the squire, "you're
a respectable man" (an' it was thrue for
him), "an industhrious, sober man, an' an
example of inebriety to the whole parish,"
says he.

' "Thank your honour," says my father,
gettin' courage, "you were always a civil
spoken gintleman, God rest your honour."

' "REST my honour?" says the sperit
(fairly gettin' red in the face with the
madness), "Rest my honour?" says he.
"Why, you ignorant spalpeen," says he,
"you mane, niggarly ignoramush," says
he, "where did you lave your manners?"
says he. "If I AM dead, it's no fault iv
mine," says he; "an' it's not to be thrun
in my teeth at every hand's turn, by the
likes iv you," says he, stampin' his foot an
the flure, that you'd think the boords id
smash undther him.

' "Oh," says my father, "I'm only a
foolish, ignorant poor man," says he.

' "You're nothing else," says the squire:
"but any way," says he, "it's not to be
listenin' to your gosther, nor convarsin'
with the likes iv you, that I came UP--
down I mane," says he--(an' as little as
the mistake was, my father tuk notice iv
it). "Listen to me now, Terence Neil,"
says he: "I was always a good masther
to Pathrick Neil, your grandfather," says

' " 'Tis thrue for your honour," says my

' "And, moreover, I think I was always
a sober, riglar gintleman," says the squire.

' "That's your name, sure enough," says
my father (though it was a big lie for him,
but he could not help it).

' "Well," says the sperit, "although I
was as sober as most men--at laste as
most gintlemin," says he; "an' though I
was at different pariods a most extempory
Christian, and most charitable and inhuman
to the poor," says he; "for all that
I'm not as asy where I am now," says
he, "as I had a right to expect," says he.

' "An' more's the pity," says my father.
"Maybe your honour id wish to have a
word with Father Murphy?"

' "Hould your tongue, you misherable
bliggard," says the squire; "it's not iv
my sowl I'm thinkin'--an' I wondther you'd
have the impitence to talk to a gintleman
consarnin' his sowl; and when I want
THAT fixed," says he, slappin' his thigh,
"I'll go to them that knows what belongs
to the likes," says he. "It's not my sowl,"
says he, sittin' down opossite my father;
"it's not my sowl that's annoyin' me most
--I'm unasy on my right leg," says he,
"that I bruk at Glenvarloch cover the
day I killed black Barney."

'My father found out afther, it was a
favourite horse that fell undher him, afther
leapin' the big fence that runs along by the

' "I hope," says my father, "your
honour's not unasy about the killin' iv

' "Hould your tongue, ye fool," said the
squire, "an' I'll tell you why I'm unasy on
my leg," says he. "In the place, where I
spend most iv my time," says he, "except
the little leisure I have for lookin' about me
here," says he, "I have to walk a great dale
more than I was ever used to," says he,
"and by far more than is good for me either,"
says he; "for I must tell you," says he,
"the people where I am is ancommonly
fond iv cowld wather, for there is nothin'
betther to be had; an', moreover, the
weather is hotter than is altogether plisant,"
says he; "and I'm appinted," says he,
"to assist in carryin' the wather, an' gets
a mighty poor share iv it myself," says he,
"an' a mighty throublesome, wearin' job it
is, I can tell you," says he; "for they're
all iv them surprisinly dthry, an' dthrinks
it as fast as my legs can carry it," says he;
"but what kills me intirely," says he, "is
the wakeness in my leg," says he, "an' I
want you to give it a pull or two to bring
it to shape," says he, "and that's the long
an' the short iv it," says he.

' "Oh, plase your honour," says my
father (for he didn't like to handle the
sperit at all), "I wouldn't have the
impidence to do the likes to your honour,"
says he; "it's only to poor crathurs like
myself I'd do it to," says he.

' "None iv your blarney," says the
squire. "Here's my leg," says he, cockin'
it up to him--"pull it for the bare life,"
says he; an' "if you don't, by the immortial
powers I'll not lave a bone in your carcish
I'll not powdher," says he.

'When my father heerd that, he seen
there was no use in purtendin', so he tuk
hould iv the leg, an' he kep' pullin' an'
pullin', till the sweat, God bless us, beginned
to pour down his face.

' "Pull, you divil!" says the squire.

' "At your sarvice, your honour," says
my father.

" 'Pull harder," says the squire.

'My father pulled like the divil.

' "I'll take a little sup," says the squire,
rachin' over his hand to the bottle, "to
keep up my courage," says he, lettin' an
to be very wake in himself intirely. But,
as cute as he was, he was out here, for he
tuk the wrong one. "Here's to your
good health, Terence," says he; "an' now
pull like the very divil." An' with that he
lifted the bottle of holy wather, but it was
hardly to his mouth, whin he let a screech
out, you'd think the room id fairly split
with it, an' made one chuck that sent the
leg clane aff his body in my father's hands.
Down wint the squire over the table, an'
bang wint my father half-way across the
room on his back, upon the flure. Whin
he kem to himself the cheerful mornin' sun
was shinin' through the windy shutthers,
an' he was lying flat an his back, with the
leg iv one of the great ould chairs pulled
clane out iv the socket an' tight in his
hand, pintin' up to the ceilin', an' ould
Larry fast asleep, an' snorin' as loud as
ever. My father wint that mornin' to
Father Murphy, an' from that to the day
of his death, he never neglected confission
nor mass, an' what he tould was betther
believed that he spake av it but seldom.
An', as for the squire, that is the sperit,
whether it was that he did not like his
liquor, or by rason iv the loss iv his leg, he
was never known to walk agin.'


Being a second Extract from the Papers of the late
Father Purcell.

'The earth hath bubbles as the water hath--
And these are of them.'

In the south of Ireland, and on
the borders of the county of
Limerick, there lies a district of
two or three miles in length, which is
rendered interesting by the fact that it is
one of the very few spots throughout this
country, in which some vestiges of
aboriginal forest still remain. It has
little or none of the lordly character of
the American forest, for the axe has felled
its oldest and its grandest trees; but in
the close wood which survives, live all the
wild and pleasing peculiarities of nature:
its complete irregularity, its vistas, in
whose perspective the quiet cattle are
peacefully browsing; its refreshing glades,
where the grey rocks arise from amid the
nodding fern; the silvery shafts of the old
birch trees; the knotted trunks of the
hoary oak, the grotesque but graceful
branches which never shed their honours
under the tyrant pruning-hook; the soft
green sward; the chequered light and
shade; the wild luxuriant weeds; the lichen
and the moss--all, all are beautiful alike in
the green freshness of spring, or in the
sadness and sere of autumn. Their beauty
is of that kind which makes the heart full
with joy--appealing to the affections with
a power which belongs to nature only.
This wood runs up, from below the base,
to the ridge of a long line of irregular
hills, having perhaps, in primitive times,
formed but the skirting of some mighty
forest which occupied the level below.

But now, alas! whither have we drifted?
whither has the tide of civilisation borne
us? It has passed over a land unprepared
for it--it has left nakedness behind
it; we have lost our forests, but our
marauders remain; we have destroyed
all that is picturesque, while we have
retained everything that is revolting in
barbarism. Through the midst of this
woodland there runs a deep gully or glen,
where the stillness of the scene is broken in
upon by the brawling of a mountain-stream,
which, however, in the winter season,
swells into a rapid and formidable torrent.

There is one point at which the glen
becomes extremely deep and narrow; the
sides descend to the depth of some
hundred feet, and are so steep as to be
nearly perpendicular. The wild trees
which have taken root in the crannies and
chasms of the rock have so intersected
and entangled, that one can with difficulty
catch a glimpse of the stream, which
wheels, flashes, and foams below, as if
exulting in the surrounding silence and

This spot was not unwisely chosen, as a
point of no ordinary strength, for the
erection of a massive square tower or keep,
one side of which rises as if in continuation
of the precipitous cliff on which it is based.
Originally, the only mode of ingress was
by a narrow portal in the very wall which
overtopped the precipice, opening upon a
ledge of rock which afforded a precarious
pathway, cautiously intersected, however,
by a deep trench cut with great labour
in the living rock; so that, in its original
state, and before the introduction of
artillery into the art of war, this tower
might have been pronounced, and that not
presumptuously, almost impregnable.

The progress of improvement and the
increasing security of the times had,
however, tempted its successive proprietors, if
not to adorn, at least to enlarge their
premises, and at about the middle of the
last century, when the castle was last
inhabited, the original square tower formed
but a small part of the edifice.

The castle, and a wide tract of the sur-
rounding country, had from time immemorial
belonged to a family which, for
distinctness, we shall call by the name of
Ardagh; and owing to the associations
which, in Ireland, almost always attach to
scenes which have long witnessed alike the
exercise of stern feudal authority, and of
that savage hospitality which distinguished
the good old times, this building has
become the subject and the scene of many wild
and extraordinary traditions. One of them
I have been enabled, by a personal acquaintance
with an eye-witness of the events, to
trace to its origin; and yet it is hard to say
whether the events which I am about to
record appear more strange or improbable
as seen through the distorting medium of
tradition, or in the appalling dimness
of uncertainty which surrounds the

Tradition says that, sometime in the
last century, Sir Robert Ardagh, a young
man, and the last heir of that family, went
abroad and served in foreign armies; and
that, having acquired considerable honour
and emolument, he settled at Castle
Ardagh, the building we have just now
attempted to describe. He was what the
country people call a DARK man; that is,
he was considered morose, reserved, and
ill-tempered; and, as it was supposed from
the utter solitude of his life, was upon no
terms of cordiality with the other members
of his family.

The only occasion upon which he broke
through the solitary monotony of his life
was during the continuance of the racing
season, and immediately subsequent to it;
at which time he was to be seen among
the busiest upon the course, betting deeply
and unhesitatingly, and invariably with
success. Sir Robert was, however, too
well known as a man of honour, and of too
high a family, to be suspected of any unfair
dealing. He was, moreover, a soldier,
and a man of an intrepid as well as of a
haughty character; and no one cared to
hazard a surmise, the consequences of
which would be felt most probably by its
originator only.

Gossip, however, was not silent; it was
remarked that Sir Robert never appeared
at the race-ground, which was the only
place of public resort which he frequented,
except in company with a certain strange-
looking person, who was never seen
elsewhere, or under other circumstances. It
was remarked, too, that this man, whose
relation to Sir Robert was never distinctly
ascertained, was the only person to whom
he seemed to speak unnecessarily; it was
observed that while with the country
gentry he exchanged no further communication
than what was unavoidable in
arranging his sporting transactions, with
this person he would converse earnestly
and frequently. Tradition asserts that, to
enhance the curiosity which this unaccountable
and exclusive preference excited, the
stranger possessed some striking and
unpleasant peculiarities of person and of garb
--she does not say, however, what these
were--but they, in conjunction with Sir
Robert's secluded habits and extraordinary
run of luck--a success which was supposed
to result from the suggestions and
immediate advice of the unknown--were
sufficient to warrant report in pronouncing
that there was something QUEER in the
wind, and in surmising that Sir Robert
was playing a fearful and a hazardous game,
and that, in short, his strange companion
was little better than the devil himself

Years, however, rolled quietly away,
and nothing novel occurred in the arrangements
of Castle Ardagh, excepting that
Sir Robert parted with his odd companion,
but as nobody could tell whence he
came, so nobody could say whither he had
gone. Sir Robert's habits, however,
underwent no consequent change; he
continued regularly to frequent the race
meetings, without mixing at all in the
convivialities of the gentry, and
immediately afterwards to relapse into the
secluded monotony of his ordinary life.

It was said that he had accumulated
vast sums of money--and, as his bets were
always successful, and always large, such
must have been the case. He did not
suffer the acquisition of wealth, however,
to influence his hospitality or his
housekeeping--he neither purchased land, nor
extended his establishment; and his mode
of enjoying his money must have been
altogether that of the miser--consisting
merely in the pleasure of touching and
telling his gold, and in the consciousness
of wealth.

Sir Robert's temper, so far from
improving, became more than ever gloomy and
morose. He sometimes carried the indulgence
of his evil dispositions to such a
height that it bordered upon insanity.
During these paroxysms he would neither
eat, drink, nor sleep. On such occasions
he insisted on perfect privacy, even from
the intrusion of his most trusted servants;
his voice was frequently heard, sometimes
in earnest supplication, sometime
as if in loud and angry altercation with
some unknown visitant; sometimes he
would, for hours together, walk to and fro
throughout the long oak wainscoted
apartment, which he generally occupied,
with wild gesticulations and agitated pace,
in the manner of one who has been roused
to a state of unnatural excitement by some
sudden and appalling intimation.

These paroxysms of apparent lunacy
were so frightful, that during their
continuance even his oldest and most-faithful
domestics dared not approach him;
consequently, his hours of agony were never
intruded upon, and the mysterious causes
of his sufferings appeared likely to remain
hidden for ever.

On one occasion a fit of this kind
continued for an unusual time, the ordinary
term of their duration--about two
days--had been long past, and the old
servant who generally waited upon Sir
Robert after these visitations, having in
vain listened for the well-known tinkle of
his master's hand-bell, began to feel
extremely anxious; he feared that his master
might have died from sheer exhaustion, or
perhaps put an end to his own existence
during his miserable depression. These
fears at length became so strong, that
having in vain urged some of his brother
servants to accompany him, he determined
to go up alone, and himself see whether
any accident had befallen Sir Robert.

He traversed the several passages which
conducted from the new to the more
ancient parts of the mansion, and having
arrived in the old hall of the castle, the
utter silence of the hour, for it was very
late in the night, the idea of the nature of
the enterprise in which he was engaging
himself, a sensation of remoteness from
anything like human companionship, but,
more than all, the vivid but undefined
anticipation of something horrible, came
upon him with such oppressive weight that
he hesitated as to whether he should
proceed. Real uneasiness, however, respecting
the fate of his master, for whom he felt
that kind of attachment which the force of
habitual intercourse not unfrequently
engenders respecting objects not in themselves
amiable, and also a latent unwillingness
to expose his weakness to the ridicule
of his fellow-servants, combined to overcome
his reluctance; and he had just placed
his foot upon the first step of the staircase
which conducted to his master's chamber,
when his attention was arrested by a low
but distinct knocking at the hall-door.
Not, perhaps, very sorry at finding thus
an excuse even for deferring his intended
expedition, he placed the candle upon a
stone block which lay in the hall, and
approached the door, uncertain whether his
ears had not deceived him. This doubt
was justified by the circumstance that the
hall entrance had been for nearly fifty years
disused as a mode of ingress to the castle.
The situation of this gate also, which we
have endeavoured to describe, opening
upon a narrow ledge of rock which overhangs
a perilous cliff, rendered it at all
times, but particularly at night, a dangerous
entrance. This shelving platform of
rock, which formed the only avenue to the
door, was divided, as I have already stated,
by a broad chasm, the planks across which
had long disappeared by decay or otherwise,
so that it seemed at least highly im-
probable that any man could have found
his way across the passage in safety to the
door, more particularly on a night like
that, of singular darkness. The old man,
therefore, listened attentively, to ascertain
whether the first application should be
followed by another. He had not long to
wait; the same low but singularly distinct
knocking was repeated; so low that it
seemed as if the applicant had employed
no harder or heavier instrument than his
hand, and yet, despite the immense thickness
of the door, with such strength that
the sound was distinctly audible.

The knock was repeated a third time,
without any increase of loudness; and the old
man, obeying an impulse for which to his
dying hour he could never account, proceeded
to remove, one by one, the three great oaken
bars which secured the door. Time and
damp had effectually corroded the iron
chambers of the lock, so that it afforded
little resistance. With some effort, as he
believed, assisted from without, the old
servant succeeded in opening the door;
and a low, square-built figure, apparently
that of a man wrapped in a large black
cloak, entered the hall. The servant could
not see much of this visitant with any
distinctness; his dress appeared foreign, the
skirt of his ample cloak was thrown over
one shoulder; he wore a large felt hat,
with a very heavy leaf, from under which
escaped what appeared to be a mass of
long sooty-black hair; his feet were cased
in heavy riding-boots. Such were the few
particulars which the servant had time and
light to observe. The stranger desired
him to let his master know instantly that
a friend had come, by appointment, to
settle some business with him. The servant
hesitated, but a slight motion on the
part of his visitor, as if to possess himself
of the candle, determined him; so, taking
it in his hand, he ascended the castle stairs,
leaving his guest in the hall.

On reaching the apartment which opened
upon the oak-chamber he was surprised to
observe the door of that room partly open,
and the room itself lit up. He paused, but
there was no sound; he looked in, and saw
Sir Robert, his head and the upper part
of his body reclining on a table, upon
which burned a lamp; his arms were
stretched forward on either side, and
perfectly motionless; it appeared that, having
been sitting at the table, he had thus sunk
forward, either dead or in a swoon. There
was no sound of breathing; all was silent,
except the sharp ticking of a watch, which
lay beside the lamp. The servant coughed
twice or thrice, but with no effect; his
fears now almost amounted to certainty,
and he was approaching the table on which
his master partly lay, to satisfy himself of
his death, when Sir Robert slowly raised
his head, and throwing himself back in his
chair, fixed his eyes in a ghastly and
uncertain gaze upon his attendant. At length
he said, slowly and painfully, as if he
dreaded the answer:

'In God's name, what are you?"

'Sir,' said the servant, 'a strange gentleman
wants to see you below.'

At this intimation Sir Robert, starting
on his feet and tossing his arms wildly
upwards, uttered a shriek of such appalling
and despairing terror that it was almost
too fearful for human endurance; and long
after the sound had ceased it seemed to
the terrified imagination of the old servant
to roll through the deserted passages in
bursts of unnatural laughter. After a few
moments Sir Robert said:

'Can't you send him away? Why does
he come so soon? O God! O God! let
him leave me for an hour; a little time.
I can't see him now; try to get him away.
You see I can't go down now; I have not
strength. O God! O God! let him come
back in an hour; it is not long to wait.
He cannot lose anything by it; nothing,
nothing, nothing. Tell him that; say
anything to him.'

The servant went down. In his own
words, he did not feel the stairs under him
till he got to the hall. The figure stood
exactly as he had left it. He delivered his
master's message as coherently as he could.
The stranger replied in a careless tone:

'If Sir Robert will not come down to
me, I must go up to him.'

The man returned, and to his surprise
he found his master much more composed
in manner. He listened to the message,
and though the cold perspiration rose in
drops upon his forehead faster than he
could wipe it away, his manner had lost
the dreadful agitation which had marked
it before. He rose feebly, and casting a
last look of agony behind him, passed from
the room to the lobby, where he signed to
his attendant not to follow him. The man
moved as far as the head of the staircase,
from whence he had a tolerably distinct
view of the hall, which was imperfectly
lighted by the candle he had left there.

He saw his master reel, rather than
walk down the stairs, clinging all the way
to the banisters. He walked on, as if
about to sink every moment from weakness.
The figure advanced as if to meet
him, and in passing struck down the light.
The servant could see no more; but there
was a sound of struggling, renewed at
intervals with silent but fearful energy. It
was evident, however, that the parties
were approaching the door, for he heard
the solid oak sound twice or thrice, as the
feet of the combatants, in shuffling hither
and thither over the floor, struck upon it.
After a slight pause he heard the door
thrown open with such violence that the
leaf seemed to strike the side-wall of the
hall, for it was so dark without that this
could only be surmised by the sound.
The struggle was renewed with an agony
and intenseness of energy that betrayed
itself in deep-drawn gasps. One desperate
effort, which terminated in the breaking of
some part of the door, producing a sound
as if the door-post was wrenched from its
position, was followed by another wrestle,
evidently upon the narrow ledge which ran
outside the door, overtopping the precipice.
This proved to be the final struggle, for it
was followed by a crashing sound as if some
heavy body had fallen over, and was rushing
down the precipice, through the light
boughs that crossed near the top. All
then became still as the grave, except when
the moan of the night wind sighed up the
wooded glen.

The old servant had not nerve to return
through the hall, and to him the darkness
seemed all but endless; but morning at
length came, and with it the disclosure of
the events of the night. Near the door,
upon the ground, lay Sir Robert's sword-
belt, which had given way in the scuffle.
A huge splinter from the massive door-
post had been wrenched off by an almost
superhuman effort--one which nothing but
the gripe of a despairing man could have
severed--and on the rock outside were left
the marks of the slipping and sliding of

At the foot of the precipice, not
immediately under the castle, but dragged some
way up the glen, were found the remains
of Sir Robert, with hardly a vestige of a
limb or feature left distinguishable. The
right hand, however, was uninjured, and
in its fingers were clutched, with the
fixedness of death, a long lock of coarse
sooty hair--the only direct circumstantial
evidence of the presence of a second person.
So says tradition.

This story, as I have mentioned, was
current among the dealers in such lore;
but the original facts are so dissimilar in
all but the name of the principal person
mentioned and his mode of life, and the
fact that his death was accompanied with
circumstances of extraordinary mystery,
that the two narratives are totally
irreconcilable (even allowing the utmost for
the exaggerating influence of tradition),
except by supposing report to have combined
and blended together the fabulous
histories of several distinct bearers of
the family name. However this may be,
I shall lay before the reader a distinct
recital of the events from which the foregoing
tradition arose. With respect to
these there can be no mistake; they are
authenticated as fully as anything can be
by human testimony; and I state them
principally upon the evidence of a lady
who herself bore a prominent part in the
strange events which she related, and
which I now record as being among the
few well-attested tales of the marvellous
which it has been my fate to hear. I
shall, as far as I am able, arrange in one
combined narrative the evidence of several
distinct persons who were eye-witnesses of
what they related, and with the truth of
whose testimony I am solemnly and deeply

Sir Robert Ardagh, as we choose to call
him, was the heir and representative of the
family whose name he bore; but owing to the
prodigality of his father, the estates descended
to him in a very impaired condition. Urged
by the restless spirit of youth, or more
probably by a feeling of pride which could not
submit to witness, in the paternal mansion,
what he considered a humiliating alteration
in the style and hospitality which up to
that time had distinguished his family,
Sir Robert left Ireland and went abroad.
How he occupied himself, or what countries
he visited during his absence, was never
known, nor did he afterwards make any
allusion or encourage any inquiries touching
his foreign sojourn. He left Ireland
in the year 1742, being then just of age,
and was not heard of until the year 1760
--about eighteen years afterwards--at
which time he returned. His personal
appearance was, as might have been
expected, very greatly altered, more altered,
indeed, than the time of his absence might
have warranted one in supposing likely.
But to counterbalance the unfavourable
change which time had wrought in his
form and features, he had acquired all the
advantages of polish of manner and refinement
of taste which foreign travel is sup-
posed to bestow. But what was truly
surprising was that it soon became evident
that Sir Robert was very wealthy--
wealthy to an extraordinary and unaccountable
degree; and this fact was made
manifest, not only by his expensive style
of living, but by his proceeding to dis-
embarrass his property, and to purchase
extensive estates in addition. Moreover,
there could be nothing deceptive in these
appearances, for he paid ready money for
everything, from the most important purchase
to the most trifling.

Sir Robert was a remarkably agreeable
man, and possessing the combined advantages
of birth and property, he was, as a
matter of course, gladly received into the
highest society which the metropolis then
commanded. It was thus that he became
acquainted with the two beautiful Miss
F----ds, then among the brightest ornaments
of the highest circle of Dublin
fashion. Their family was in more than
one direction allied to nobility; and Lady
D----, their elder sister by many years,
and sometime married to a once well-
known nobleman, was now their protectress.
These considerations, beside the
fact that the young ladies were what is
usually termed heiresses, though not to a
very great amount, secured to them a high
position in the best society which Ireland
then produced. The two young ladies
differed strongly, alike in appearance and
in character. The elder of the two, Emily,
was generally considered the handsomer--
for her beauty was of that impressive kind
which never failed to strike even at the first
glance, possessing as it did all the advantages
of a fine person and a commanding
carriage. The beauty of her features
strikingly assorted in character with that
of her figure and deportment. Her hair
was raven-black and richly luxuriant,
beautifully contrasting with the perfect
whiteness of her forehead--her finely
pencilled brows were black as the ringlets that
clustered near them--and her blue eyes, full,
lustrous, and animated, possessed all the
power and brilliancy of brown ones, with
more than their softness and variety of
expression. She was not, however, merely
the tragedy queen. When she smiled,
and that was not seldom, the dimpling
of cheek and chin, the laughing display
of the small and beautiful teeth--but,
more than all, the roguish archness of her
deep, bright eye, showed that nature had
not neglected in her the lighter and the
softer characteristics of woman.

Her younger sister Mary was, as I
believe not unfrequently occurs in the case
of sisters, quite in the opposite style of
beauty. She was light-haired, had more
colour, had nearly equal grace, with much
more liveliness of manner. Her eyes were
of that dark grey which poets so much
admire--full of expression and vivacity.
She was altogether a very beautiful and
animated girl--though as unlike her sister
as the presence of those two qualities
would permit her to be. Their dissimilarity
did not stop here--it was deeper
than mere appearance--the character of
their minds differed almost as strikingly
as did their complexion. The fair-haired
beauty had a large proportion of that
softness and pliability of temper which
physiognomists assign as the characteristics of
such complexions. She was much more
the creature of impulse than of feeling,
and consequently more the victim of
extrinsic circumstances than was her sister.
Emily, on the contrary, possessed considerable
firmness and decision. She was less
excitable, but when excited her feelings
were more intense and enduring. She
wanted much of the gaiety, but with it
the volatility of her younger sister. Her
opinions were adopted, and her friendships
formed more reflectively, and her affections
seemed to move, as it were, more slowly,
but more determinedly. This firmness of
character did not amount to anything
masculine, and did not at all impair the
feminine grace of her manners.

Sir Robert Ardagh was for a long time
apparently equally attentive to the two
sisters, and many were the conjectures and
the surmises as to which would be the lady
of his choice. At length, however, these
doubts were determined; he proposed for
and was accepted by the dark beauty,
Emily F----d.

The bridals were celebrated in a manner
becoming the wealth and connections of
the parties; and Sir Robert and Lady
Ardagh left Dublin to pass the honeymoon
at the family mansion, Castle
Ardagh, which had lately been fitted up
in a style bordering upon magnificent.
Whether in compliance with the wishes
of his lady, or owing to some whim of his
own, his habits were henceforward strikingly
altered; and from having moved
among the gayest if not the most
profligate of the votaries of fashion, he
suddenly settled down into a quiet, domestic,
country gentleman, and seldom, if ever,
visited the capital, and then his sojourns
were as brief as the nature of his business
would permit.

Lady Ardagh, however, did not suffer
from this change further than in being
secluded from general society; for Sir
Robert's wealth, and the hospitality which
he had established in the family mansion,
commanded that of such of his lady's
friends and relatives as had leisure or
inclination to visit the castle; and as their
style of living was very handsome, and its
internal resources of amusement considerable,
few invitations from Sir Robert or
his lady were neglected.

Many years passed quietly away, during
which Sir Robert's and Lady Ardagh's
hopes of issue were several times
disappointed. In the lapse of all this time
there occurred but one event worth
recording. Sir Robert had brought with
him from abroad a valet, who sometimes
professed himself to be French, at
others Italian, and at others again
German. He spoke all these languages
with equal fluency, and seemed to take a
kind of pleasure in puzzling the sagacity
and balking the curiosity of such of the
visitors at the castle as at any time
happened to enter into conversation with him,
or who, struck by his singularities, became
inquisitive respecting his country and
origin. Sir Robert called him by the
French name, JACQUE, and among the
lower orders he was familiarly known by
the title of 'Jack, the devil,' an appellation
which originated in a supposed malignity
of disposition and a real reluctance to
mix in the society of those who were
believed to be his equals. This morose
reserve, coupled with the mystery which
enveloped all about him, rendered him an
object of suspicion and inquiry to his
fellow-servants, amongst whom it was
whispered that this man in secret
governed the actions of Sir Robert with
a despotic dictation, and that, as if to

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