The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Irish Penny Journal, Vol. 1 No. 02, July 11, 1840

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Title: The Irish Penny Journal, Vol. 1 No. 02, July 11, 1840

Author: Various

Release date: February 25, 2013 [eBook #42201]

Language: English

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Number 2. SATURDAY, JULY 11, 1840. Volume I.


Among the many wonders of Ireland, as yet undescribed and little known, even to Irishmen, beyond their immediate localities, the subject of our prefixed illustration has every claim to find a place, and to attract our attention as a subject equally interesting to the geologist, artist, and historian. That it should have hitherto remained unnoticed, as we think it has, while objects of the same description in other localities less remarkable and interesting have been repeatedly described, may be attributed chiefly to the circumstance of its situation being remote from any leading road, and in a wild and rarely visited district of country, namely, the barony of Corran, in the county of Sligo. Of this barony, the mountain called Ceis or Kish-Corran, is the most striking geographical feature. It is composed of tabular limestone; has a flat outline at top, but is precipitous on its sides, and rises to an altitude of upwards of a thousand feet. To the traveller journeying from Boyle to Sligo it must be a familiar and pleasing object, as, after passing the little town of Ballinafad, it offers, for some miles of the road towards the west and south-west, the charms of a mountain boundary in contrast to the rich woods of Hollybrook, and the delightful vistas of the water of Lough Arrow, or Arva, which skirt the road along the east. But the most precipitous and noble point of Kish-Corran is presented to the west, and is not seen by the traveller on this road, which must for a time be abandoned to enable him to see it, as well as the wonderful caves which open on its face, and to which we have now to call the attention of our readers. On this western side, the mountain, to within a hundred feet or two of its summit, presents a green but boldly sloping grassy face, formed of the debris of the rocks above, which rise perpendicularly, and look more like a wall—lichen-stained and ivy-decked—formed by the Cyclops or giants of old, than creations of nature’s hand. And such impression is increased in no small degree by the lofty and magnificent caves, which present themselves like doorways, and lead into the inmost recesses of the mountain. It is of one of these entrances, and the most remarkable for grandeur, that our illustration attempts to give an idea. Its height is no less than twenty feet. How far the caves extend, we are unable to speak with certainty; they are undoubtedly of great extent, and, if the local accounts are to be trusted, reach even to the opposite or eastern side of the mountain, and contain lakes of unfathomable depth, and spars of unimaginable beauty.

A spot so striking to the imagination could not be, in Ireland, without its legends of a romantic and singular character; and some of these are of a most remote antiquity, and connected with the earliest legendary history of our country. In the ancient topographical tract called the Dinnseanchus, which gives the origin, according to the poets, of the names of the most remarkable mountains, lakes, rivers, caves, forts, &c. in Ireland, we are told that Corran received its name from the harper of Diancecht, to whom that magical race, called the Tuátha de Danann, gave the territory as a reward for his musical skill; and popular tradition still points to the cave of Kish-Corran as his residence, according to the ancient form quoted in the Dinnseanchus:—

“Here used to dwell the gentle Corann, whose hand was [Pg 10]skilled in playing on the harp; Corann was the only ollave of Drancich (with whom he lived), in free and peaceable security.

To Corann of the soft music, the Tuátha De gave with great honour a free territory for his skilful playing, his knowledge, and his astrology. Here was he, this generous man, not without literature or in a churlish fortress, but in a place where the stranger was at liberty to a free sojournment with him, this liberal prosperous man.”

The same authority accounts for the prefix Ceis, or, as it is pronounced, Kish, which is applied to the mountain by a very singular legend, according to which it would appear that it was originally the name of a lady, who with five others were, by a charm compounded with the nut-fruit, metamorphosed into pigs, the unhappy Ceis herself being here subsequently slain. However this may be, there is nothing improbable in the supposition that the caves of Kish-Corran were in former times the favourite dens of the wild boar, the wolf, and many other animals now extinct; they furnish a secure retreat to the fox and many other wild animals at the present day.




If it be afflictive, on one side, to reflect upon the deeds of cruelty and oppression which prevail upon earth, through the instrumentality of man, it is delightful, on the other, to perceive that human reason, instead of being abused and perverted into a source of tyrannical oppression, is occasionally exercised, as it ought to be, in promoting happiness and social harmony, even among brutes; in producing that degree of peaceful concord, which it has been proved may exist among animals whose natural antipathies are the most violent imaginable—that feeling which disarms the strong among them of all desire to tyrannise over and destroy the weak, and is brought into exercise by a steady and persevering system of early training (and consequent acquirement of abiding habits), directly opposed to that which prompts us to place a whip in the hand of a child.

I have been led into this train of contemplation, from having recently witnessed a practical illustration of the wonderful effects producible by what may fairly be termed a benevolent system, for there is no degree whatever of harsh discipline connected with it—no starvation, no blows, nothing of that “reign of terror,” under the influence of which Van Amburgh has doubtless effected his dominion over the most ferocious of beasts; the exhibition of which power, while it surprises, does not please us; for, though, by an effort of the imagination, the mind may be led for a moment to the anticipation of the scene in which “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,” it quickly considers this surprising display of human power with painful sensations, from the conviction that extreme severity of discipline alone has enabled man in this instance to attain his despotic sovereignty, and that the unnatural results which he beholds are an evidence that the legitimate dominion granted to man “over every thing that moveth upon the earth,” has in this case, as in ten thousand others, been overstrained and abused.

While animals of prey are in a state of nature, they either avoid each other, or meet in deadly contest, according to the degree of their antipathies; and until He who has impressed their dispositions upon them shall bid them lie down together in peace, no efforts of puny man can avail in changing their habits, except under such rare circumstances as confirm the general law of instinct which leads them to destroy each other. But the dislike which many of the domesticated animals entertain for each other, is greatly increased by the encouragement which they receive from man. The dog, which under other treatment would be familiar with the cat or the hog, is taught from his puppyhood to pursue and worry each of them; the cat instinctively defends herself with those claws which are her natural weapons, and she scratches her opponent’s face, and through their after life they are never thoroughly reconciled to each other, but live proverbially as “cat and dog.” The hog cannot defend himself from the teeth of the dog; his ears are torn by them; he cannot retaliate, but he lives ever afterwards in dread of the whole canine race. Dogs, which otherwise would live in harmony together, are taught to fight; their natural jealousy is encouraged, and they are rendered bullies by profession.

That the dread of man is in a certain degree naturally upon every beast of the field and bird of the air, cannot be disputed; but this feeling is increased considerably by the experience which many brutes have of man’s caprice or tyranny, and this dread is transmissible (as may be justly inferred from cases which are perfectly analogous, such as the acquired habit of pointing at game) to their posterity.

A benevolent man, living, as we read of Robinson Crusoe, among his goats, ceases to be an object of apprehension to the animals around him; even birds, habituated to his kindness and protection, would become divested of the dread of man; and each successive generation of those familiarized birds would probably become more and more disposed to associate with him, if he were systematically kind and encouraging in his manner. Such experiments with the brute kind, it is true, can be but extremely partial, and are unattended with any very practically useful results in themselves; but, as respects the education of children, they are of extreme utility in exciting tender and benevolent feelings, and awakening the intellectual faculties from subjects merely sensual or idly amusing; they teach us “to look from Nature up to Nature’s God.”

There never was a better founded observation than that of the late Mr Cobbett, that no one should be entrusted with the care of the nobler animals who had not been habituated to treat the lesser ones with kindness.

I love to see a child feeding his rabbits or pigeons, and familiarly playing with them, consulting their tastes, and contributing to their comforts by every means within his power. Surely such a pursuit should not be rudely discouraged; how much more humanizing than the desire to possess “whips for a penny,” to which I have recently adverted! It tends to render a child compassionate in his disposition to all God’s creatures, and unwilling to hurt, for the sake of inflicting pain, or from thoughtless mischief.

And I am just enough of phrenologist to be of opinion that, if there be any remarkable developement of the organ of destructiveness, this may be sufficiently counteracted by the exercise of feelings which have connection with the faculty of benevolence, and so modified, by avoiding all pursuits of a cruel nature, as to constitute, with God’s blessing, a benevolent character, which, by the indulgence of the inherent inclination to cruel sports, would become of the opposite nature; for there is unquestionably an adaptation of the mind, as well as the body, to the circumstances under which individuals are placed. It is with the faculties of the human mind as with the habits of brutes; when exercised, they acquire strength, and gradually become more developed and confirmed; ay, and become hereditary too in proportion to their original or gradually progressing degree of developement. How important, then, that the higher faculties, on which depends the elevation of the moral character, should be strengthened by use and exercise! But I have digressed far from the illustration which I was about to give at the beginning, of a practically benevolent system of brute education.

There stands on every fine day, near one of the great London bridges, a mild, cheerful looking man, who exhibits to the passers by an assemblage of animals of the most decided antipathies by nature, who live together in the same large cage in perfect harmony. The notion of collecting into one family such apparently discordant members, originated, I believe, with a gentleman who has long made the brute animal economy the subject of his investigations, and who suggested to John Austin the harmlessness, at least, of earning the means of his support by the novel and interesting exhibition of a cat, rats, mice, Guinea pigs, hawks, pigeons, owls, and starlings, and, I believe, another bird, under the same limited roof, and with perfect freedom of access from one to another. One of the pigeons is now hatching, without any cause of alarm from the hawk for the safety of her anticipated offspring; for that bird is so far from being of a destructive temper, that he frequently feeds a young starling with meat from his own bill, and apparently of his own impulse; nor do any of the birds manifest apprehension from the cat, which has been almost born in their company, and although frequently permitted to go outside the cage and take the air without restraint, returns soon again, without having had her disposition corrupted by intercourse with bad company, takes up her favourite position in a corner, where the rats most affectionately run up to her for warmth and concealment from the public gaze, behind her furry and comfortable back. The pigeons are also allowed their liberty occasionally, but they soon return to their quarters, which habit has rendered pleasant to them.

Now, I by no means recommend to parents, for their chil[Pg 11]dren, the establishment of a domestic menagerie, for the care of this would be extremely troublesome, and occupy time which should be spent to far better purpose; nor do I recommend the keeping of useless pets of any kind, my object being merely to point out, by actual exemplification, what the benevolent principle, systematically exercised, can produce even under the most adverse circumstances. On what are called pets, such as lapdogs and parrots, much warm, kind feeling is often unprofitably bestowed. When Ponto dies of plethora, or Poll from cold or infirmity, sensibilities are sometimes called forth, which would not flow from the contemplation of human sufferings. The servant who is daily employed to wash and comb the dog, is perhaps never sent upon an errand of mercy to any of the distressed families around the mistress, and a wayworn group of children may unavailingly solicit the luxurious food which is placed before the pampered pet, without shame or scruple.

I do not intend to maintain the pet system in general; it is the principle of humanity which I seek, not that mawkish sensibility which causes so many to weep at the dramatic exhibition of fictitious woe, who would not drop one tear of sympathy for real misery, divested, as in the scenes of every-day life, of the embellishments and romantic adjuncts which false sentiment delights in. We all, it is true, require some especial objects of endearment, something on which the feelings of the heart may find expansion, else we become cold, selfish, and very disagreeable to every one. In childhood, therefore, the disposition to love even the domestic animals born for our use, should be sedulously fostered, but not to such excess as to weaken the affection for parents, brothers, sisters, or friends. The principle should only be checked, however, in its exuberance, never crushed. In mature years the affections should have the highest objects, and in those instances in which the Creator has denied the gift of offspring to us, I would respectfully suggest to those who desire pets, the adoption of an orphan or two, whom they may train both for earth and heaven, in preference to any other perishable idols.


“The longest way round is often the shortest way home.”—Old Proverb.

I was not more than eight or nine years old when the following anecdote was related to me by the actor or sufferer, whichever he might be called, himself. He was a fine stately old gentleman. His family had once been powerful; but in the troubles with which the page of Ireland’s history is filled and darkened, they had been reduced, and he, fleeced by a treacherous guardian of the last remnant of the property, had been compelled to accept the influence of friends in procuring him a commission in the civil service (for in war he would not serve them) of a government which he loathed.

He was of a stern and rather gloomy disposition, and rarely condescended to social or pleasant conversation, much less to notice children; but sometimes the genial fire within would thaw the icy surface, and diffuse life and light around. The bow could not be kept ever bent: the garrison was too feeble to keep constant watch and ward, and a view would be sometimes gained, through an open door, of a heart fitted by nature to give and receive all sublunary happiness. I heard his history long after his career had closed. But it has nothing to do with the present story—another time for it.

I had been playing marbles with my cousin and playfellows; we quarrelled, and were proceeding to blows, when Mr M——, who was sitting, unobserved by us, on a stone bench, and had witnessed our dispute, called to us both to approach him. He took one on each knee, and looking alternately at us, said, in a tone so mild and different from his usual harsh commanding voice, that we could scarcely think it was the same man who spoke, “Boys, beware of sudden ungovernable passion; under its influence you might commit, in one moment, an act which would embitter, with remorse and vain regret, all your subsequent life.

“When a young man, I once suffered so keenly the consequence of my ungovernable temper, that were I to live a thousand years, I could not forget it. I see that your curiosity is excited, and you would like to hear the circumstance; but it is connected with a ghost story, and I must tell you all.” “Oh! do, Mr M——,” said I, “for papa says there are no such things as ghosts or fairies, and nurse says there are; and nurse never tells lies, and certainly papa would not, and I do not know what to think between them.” “Well,” said he, “I shall tell you the story, and it will help you to form your judgment.

From the high road between Cork and Cloyne, and about three miles from the latter, a small by-road, or ‘borheen,’ branches off. It is of very ancient date, belonging to times when men were guided by the position of the sun during the day, and the stars at night, and when, consequently, their track lay over mountain and hollow, through wood and bog, as the avoidance of impediments (except to a very short distance) would have thrown them quite out of their reckoning, and toil was much less regarded then than in these degenerate days. The road by Laght-e-Ouria is decidedly a shorter way to Cloyne than the high road from which it diverges; but a saying has arisen since it was made, ‘the longest way round is the shortest way home,’ that has been so often used as a conclusion to a debate upon ‘which of the roads should be taken,’ that the wisdom of our ancestors is voted folly, and their ways are no longer trodden.

Other reasons than the unevenness of its surface are however not wanting, and many a headstrong drunken farmer, upon whom all other argument had been tried in vain, has been induced to turn his horse’s head to the new road, by the soft voice of the ‘Vanitha’ whispering in his ear that ‘it would be midnight ere they passed Laght-e-Ouria.’

Laght, in Irish, signifies a heap of stones, and it is customary in Ireland, wherever a murder has been committed, for every passer-by to throw a stone upon the spot. A heap, or ‘laght,’ is thus soon formed, and it receives the cognomen of the unfortunate individual whose untimely end it commemorates.

In the beginning of the month of October 1775, when residing in Cork, I received a note from the Earl of Inchiquin, desiring me to meet him at Cloyne between five and six o’clock on the following morning, on most pressing and important business. I immediately ordered my horse, determining to dine with a particular friend who resided about half way, to jog quietly on in the evening, and have, what I always relished, a night’s repose on the spot where my morning’s business awaited me.

Mr Ahern was one of a class well known in the south as ‘gentlemen farmers,’ being mostly reduced gentlemen who farmed a portion of the grounds that once belonged to their ancestors, in many instances to themselves.

Hospitality, the virtue they most prided themselves upon, they carried to a fault; and my friend Ahern, in common with the rest, made it a rule, without an exception, that a bottle either of wine or whisky once opened, should be finished on the spot. Upon this occasion, however, I felt it necessary to demur. The last bottle of whisky having been opened without my consent, and feeling that, although I was still capable of proceeding on my journey, the half of what remained would put it completely out of the question, I positively refused to take another drop except the ‘Dhuch-an-dhurrish,’ or parting glass, and resisting all his importunities to stay the night, not relishing a ride of a dark morning, I took my departure about an hour before midnight.

I never was a believer in ghosts or fairies, or any class of idle, mischievous, disembodied creatures; but upon this occasion, whether from melancholy or loneliness, or the darkness, which was so intense as to force me to proceed very slowly, or from my friend’s stirrup-cup having slightly obnubilated my reasoning faculties without producing the usual valour, I know not. Certain it is, I did not feel comfortable, and wished most fervently for just as much light as would enable me to urge my horse forward at a quicker pace, but the more I wished for light the darker it became, until my eyes ached in endeavouring to penetrate the gloom.

A row of tall trees ran along at each side of the road, and nearly met at top, and the fitful breeze just agitating the leaves, or occasionally moving the branches so as to cause a low, moaning, creaking noise, jarred my nerves, and made me feel still more and more unpleasant. At length, when I had arrived at an intolerable pitch of nervous excitement, the darkness became less intense, and I could just distinguish a breach in the row of trees upon the right, which marked the locality of the ‘laght.’ Taking advantage of the opportunity, I pressed my horse. He seemed to have become as nervous as myself, for he answered to the slight touch of the spur with a loud snort and a violent spring, which I considered so totally uncalled for, as to give me a very fair excuse for being in a passion, and venting my irritability, which I proceeded to do with my whip, as giving my muscles more action than[Pg 12] the spur; but instead of plunging along at a mad gallop, as I expected, my horse reared, and turning sharply round, attempted a flight back. Again and again I turned his head to the road, but onward he would not go; this was very strange, for he never shied or started. At length I tried the soothing system; for I must confess that the general belief that horses see what is hidden from the eyes of man, occurred to me, and I coaxed and patted him, and spoke gently and encouragingly to him, but he kept sidling, and tramping, attempting to turn, and answering every word or pat with a long snore, whilst I could perceive by his forward pricked ears and the direction of his head, that his eyes were rivetted upon the heap of stones. Whilst thus engaged, and having somewhat quieted his terror, I heard a sound like the rattling of chains. Round and away with Rainbow. I brought him up again nearer than before. Again the chains clanked, and I could distinctly hear that they were chains, ere my horse bolted and ran again. ‘The third time,’ said I, ‘contains a charm, they say; and, man or devil, ghost or fairy, I’ll overhaul you. Who’s there?’ No answer. ‘Who’s there?’ Clank, clank, went the chains. I could see nothing. The perspiration was running down my face, but I was furious. ‘By the hand of my grandfather, if you do not answer me, I’ll go to you, and whilst sinew and whalebone last, you shall feel the butt of a loaded whip. Who are you?’ Again the chains clanked, and my horse would not consent to keep such company any longer. I dismounted, and, taking him a few paces back, tied him to a tree, and returned on foot to the spot.

Behind the trees was a deep trench partly filled with water; a hawthorn hedge grew at the farther side, and threw its branches nearly across. As I approached the ‘laght,’ the rattling of the chains again rose, accompanied by a plashing, scrambling noise, as of something breaking through the hedge and trench. I sprang forward, striking with the heavy handle of my whip, having twisted the thong firmly round my hand and wrist, I had only beaten air, but the violence of the blow and weight of the whip carried me forward; and, missing my footing in the darkness, I fell against, or rather upon, the monster of the chains; and having made a furious grasp to save myself, judge what was my horror at catching a handful of hair, such as might be expected to be felt upon an arctic bear! The creature slipped from me, and with a tremendous plunge and frightful rattling of its chains, gained the road, overwhelming me completely in the muddy ditch.

Just at that instant the whole truth flashed across my mind; and with a vengeful rage that I am ashamed to confess, I sprang up, and pursuing my unfortunate victim, a jackass, who could make but little exertion to escape, being spancelled with a piece of an iron chain, I kept my oath, by belabouring poor Neddy until I could strike no more from exhaustion. I then turned to remount my horse; but he was gone, having left the principal portion of his bridle hanging on the bough for a keepsake. Nothing saved Neddy from a second edition, with considerable additions, but the recollection of the hour, the necessity of catching my horse, and the confounded distance I should have to travel afterwards, for he was, of course, gone the wrong way.

I ran as fast as I could, but was soon obliged to pull up. I found that I was carrying weight, and no light weight, for my clothes were saturated with water, and covered thickly with mud. Having scraped off as much as I could of the latter, I got along, and about two o’clock reached my friend’s house again, entertaining a faint hope that Rainbow had returned to the last stall he had occupied; and so he had.

Not finding the gate open, he had jumped the road fence, and was quietly grazing with two or three other horses. There was now light enough to distinguish objects at a hundred yards; and I could see his saddle, but how to catch him was now the question, for he had at all times a propensity to keep his liberty when he had got it; and to think of catching him without help was idle. I approached the house, but just then recollected that my friend had a couple of dangerous mastiff dogs, of extraordinary size and ferocity; and as the entrance to the front of the house lay through the farm-yard, in which they were kept, it would be as much as my life was worth to approach it. My only chance was to get at the rere; and having made the circuit of a few fields, I reached it, and, selecting a window likely to belong to some sleeping apartment on the ground floor, I tapped at it with the butt of my whip. Receiving no answer, I repeated the knock, and placing my head close, heard a female voice exclaim, ‘Marcy save us, it’s the boys;’ and the speaker hurried barefooted from the room. I knew that the only female inmate of the house was the daughter of an old follower of the family, now called ‘the servant man;’ for Pat or Paddy fulfilled the manifold duties of butler, footman, gardener, and valet, besides taking a hand at every thing about the farm in turn.

Whilst considering whether or not I should knock again, I had the satisfaction to see, by the still increasing light, that the shutter of an upper window was cautiously opened; then the window was gently raised; and I waited for the appearance of a head to announce myself, when a bright flash issued forth, accompanied by a tremendous report. Away went my hat; and at the same instant the dogs opened, not barking, but with yells upon yells, as if Pandemonium was let loose. ‘Ahern! Ahern!’ I roared out, ‘what are you at? ’Tis I—don’t you know me?—M—— My horse has run away; he’s in your field, and I want help to catch him.’ I bellowed this at the top of my voice, in the vain endeavour to drown the ‘bow-wow-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo’ of the dogs. The answer I received was, ‘You to (hiccup) blazes (hiccup); here’s at you again, you villains.’ I threw myself down as my quondam kind host discharged a second blunderbuss at me; but was instantly on my legs again, as the roaring of the dogs announced their rapid approach. They had in some manner got out of the yard. I glanced hurriedly round for some place of shelter. A large arbutus tree was the nearest object, and into it I scrambled, just as the dogs appeared in full career upon the field.

They made repeated springs at me, for I was not above eight feet from the ground, but I contrived, by well-aimed kicks in the jaws, to keep them at bay for a while. I was thus pleasantly engaged for about five minutes, when Ahern and four or five men made their appearance. He carried a blunderbuss in his hand, another tucked under his arm, and a brace of holster pistols stuck in his waistband. His old servant had the master’s fowling-piece, and the rest, who were farm servants, had pitchforks.

As soon as I espied them, I roared out, ‘Call off the dogs, I’m M——, you stupid drunken rascal.’ ‘Ho! ho! he’s—hic—up in the arbutus.’ ‘Blur-an-agers, tare-an-taffy, sir, you’ll shoot the dogs!’ said old Paddy, knocking up the levelled blunderbuss. ‘It’s Mr M——; don’t ye know his voice? Down, Fin—down, Oscar—down with ye,’ and with persuasive words, and still more persuasive blows of the fowling-piece, Pat drew off the dogs, and took them away. I came down in a state of indescribable rage. Nothing vexes a man so much as the consciousness of being an object of mirth or ridicule.

Having paused awhile for words, I poured forth a torrent of abuse on Ahern. He hiccupped once or twice, looked with the most stupid astonishment at me, and, when I paused for breath, ‘damned me but it would have been due to me to be shot; firstly, for leaving a Christian habitation at the dead hour of the night; secondly, for going at that hour by a haunted road; and, thirdly, for attempting to get in at a back window of his house, when I well knew that I had only to raise the latch, and walk in at the front door.’

‘How the d—— could I get past your infernal dogs?’ said I.

‘Good dogs always know friends from foes,’ he replied; ‘but—hic—it was just one of your tricks—you wanted to frighten me, and—ha! ha! ha!—you got frightened yourself, and the devil’s cure to you!—hic.’ I was beginning again, when he stopped me by saying, ‘that if I thought he had taken any advantage of me, matters could be made even;’ and he produced the holster pistols, saying ‘that they were both double loaded; he had charged them himself, and I might have my choice.’ In a minute the ground was measured; the men were ordered not to interfere, but stand aside; and Ahem himself asked me if I was ready, and immediately said ‘fire!’

Well might he say ‘the pistols were double charged;’ they were trebly charged—loaded to the muzzles. In fact, it was safer to stand before than behind them. I was stunned by the report, and remained standing, until roused by one of the men asking me ‘was I shot?’ adding, that ‘I had killed the masther.’ In an instant the whole impropriety of my conduct flashed before me, and I ran to my poor unfortunate friend, who lay motionless. I knelt down by his side, and never shall I forget the piercing anguish that at that moment penetrated my soul. All his virtues—his amiable qualities—his kind-heartedness—every good action of his life with which I was acquainted, and they were numerous, appeared in order before my mental vision; and then conscience,[Pg 13] shaking the ægis, on which appeared, not the Gorgon’s, but my poor friend’s blackened countenance, before me, and asking, ‘Why did you do this?’ froze up my faculties, and converted my outward seeming into stone; but within, there was a foretaste of the eternal torments.

Involuntarily I called upon his name; the sound of my own voice started me, arousing me to a sense of keener anguish; and I was about to break forth into some violent extravagance, when my unfortunate friend opened his eyes, and, looking at me with kindness, said, ‘M——, you did not do it; my pistol burst and has hurt me—take me into the house—I’m sober enough now.’

Upon examination it was discovered that a piece of the pistol barrel had hit him above the forehead, cutting a path through his scalp; one of his fingers was broken, and his hand and arm were severely contused, but he seemed to think nothing of it, but desired one of the men to go for old Biddy Hoolaghan, a celebrated doctress, and the rest of them to catch Rainbow. I refused to leave him in his then present condition, of which I was the unlucky cause, but he would not hear of my stopping. ‘No, no,’ said he, ‘your business cannot be neglected; and as to fault, we may divide the matter between us, and bear each his own share. If I did not make the ridiculous rule, that a bottle of whisky once opened should be finished at once, I would not have drunk after you left me, but have gone to bed at once; in which case I’d have known your voice, and all would have been right. And if you were not so lazy as to object to a morning ride (which you must take after all), you’d have staid where you were, and saved all the mischief. But, at all events, remember for the rest of your days that ‘the longest way round is often the shortest way home.’

Rainbow was caught at length. Ahern lent me a bridle, and at four o’clock I faced the road again, and arrived at Cloyne, without further adventure, at five, thoroughly soaked with the rain, which commenced heavily soon after my second departure, and for which I was thankful, as it partially cleansed me from the ditch mud, and accounted for my dripping and soiled state when I made my appearance before the earl, which I was obliged to do, without changing my dress, at half past five.”



(From the MS. Annals of the Four Masters, translated by Mr O’Donovan.)

A.D. 1537. In this year died O’Donnell (Hugh, son of Hugh Roe, who was son of Niall Garve, who was son of Torlogh of the Wine), Lord of Tyrconnell, Inishowen, Kinel-Moen,[A] Fermanagh, and Lower Connaught; a man to whom rents and tributes had been paid by the people of other territories over which he had acquired dominion and jurisdiction, such as Moylorg, Machaire-Chonnacht, Clann-Conway, Costello, Gallen, Tirawly, and Conmaicne-Cuile, to the west, and Oireacht-ui-Chathain (the patrimony of O’Kane), the Route, and Clannaboy, to the east; for of all these there was not one territory that had not given him pledges for the payment of his tribute of protection. It was this man who had compelled the four lords who ruled Tyrone in his lifetime, to give him new charters of Inishowen, Kinel-Moen, and Fermanagh, by way of confirmations of the ancient charters which his ancestors had held in proof of their right to govern these countries; and this he had done, in order that he might peaceably enjoy jurisdiction over them, and have authority to summon their forces into the field when he wanted them. Neither in all this is there anything to be wondered at, for never had victory been seen with his enemies—never had he retreated one foot from any army, whether small or numerous; he had been distinguished as an abolisher of evil customs, and a restrainer of evil deeds, a destroyer and banisher of rebels and plunderers, and a rigid enforcer of the Irish laws and ordinances after the strictest and most upright manner; he was a man in whose reign the seasons had been favourable, so that both sea and land had been profusely productive while he continued on the throne;[B] a man who had established every person in his country in his rightful hereditary possessions, to the end that no one of them might bear enmity to another; a man who had not suffered the power of the English to come into his country, for he had formed a league of peace and amity with the King of England so soon as he saw that the Irish would not yield the superiority to any one chief or lord among themselves, but that friends and blood relations fiercely contended against one another; and a man who had carefully protected from harm or violation the Termon-lands (or sanctuaries) belonging to the friars, churchmen, poets, and ollaves.

This O’Donnell (Hugh, son of Hugh Roe) died on the 5th of July, in the year of salvation 1537, being Wednesday, in the monastery of Donegall, having first taken upon him the habit of St Francis, having bewailed his crimes and iniquities, and done penance for his sins and transgressions. He was buried in the same monastery, with all the honour and solemnity which were his due; and Magnus O’Donnell was nominated to succeed him in his place by the successors of St Columbkille [viz. the Abbots of Kilmacrenan, Raphoe, and Derry], with the permission and by the advice of the nobles of Tyrconnell, both lay and ecclesiastical.

[A] Now the barony of Raphoe.

[B] Cormac, in his instructions to his son Carbry, tells him that “when a worthy prince reigns, the great God sends favourable seasons.” It is worthy of remark that, among the oriental nations, the same notion prevails to the present day; and the poets of the East frequently express their anticipations of favourable weather and abundant harvests upon the accession of a peaceable monarch to the throne.


The harp was the favourite musical instrument, not only of the Irish, but of the Britons and other northern nations, during the middle ages, as is evident from their laws, and from every passage in their history in which there is the least allusion to music. By the laws of Wales, the possession of a harp was one of the three things that were necessary to constitute a gentleman, that is, a freeman; and no person could pretend to that title, unless he had one of those favourite instruments, and could play upon it.

In the same laws, to prevent slaves from pretending to be gentlemen, it was expressly forbidden to teach or to permit them to play upon the harp; and none but the king, the king’s musicians, and gentlemen, were allowed to have harps in their possession. A gentleman’s harp was not liable to be seized for debt, because the want of it would have degraded him from his rank, and reduced him to a slave.

The harp was in no less estimation and universal use among the Saxons and Danes; those who played upon this instrument were declared gentlemen by law; their persons were esteemed inviolable, and secured from injuries by very severe penalties; they were readily admitted into the highest company, and treated with distinguished marks of respect wherever they appeared.

Anecdote of Jerome Duigenan, a Harper.—Some curious tales are told of Jerome Duigenan, a Leitrim harper, born in the year 1710. One is of so extraordinary a character, that, were it not for the particularity of the details, which savour strongly of an origin in fact, the editor would hesitate to give it publicity. He is, however, persuaded that he has it as it was communicated to O’Neill, between whose time and that of Duigenan there was scarcely room for the invention of a story not substantially true. It is as follows:—“There was a harper,” says O’Neill, “before my time, named Jerome Duigenan, not blind, an excellent Greek and Latin scholar, and a charming performer. I have heard numerous anecdotes of him. The one that pleased me most was this. He lived with a Colonel Jones, of Drumshambo, who was one of the representatives in parliament for the county of Leitrim. The colonel, being in Dublin, at the meeting of parliament, met with an English nobleman who had brought over a Welsh harper. When the Welshman had played some tunes before the colonel, which he did very well, the nobleman asked him, had he ever heard so sweet a finger? ‘Yes,’ replied Jones, ‘and that by a man who never wears either linen or woollen.’ ‘I bet you a hundred guineas,’ says the nobleman, ‘you can’t produce any one to excel my Welshman.’ The bet was accordingly made, and Duigenan was written to, to come immediately to Dublin, and bring his harp and dress of Cauthack with him; that is, a dress made of beaten rushes, with something like a caddy or plaid of the same stuff. On Duigenan’s arrival in Dublin, the colonel acquainted the members with the nature of his bet, and they requested that it might be decided in the House of Commons, before business commenced. The two harpers performed before all the members accordingly, and it was unanimously decided in favour of[Pg 14] Duigenan, who wore his full Cauthack dress, and a cap of the same stuff, shaped like a sugar loaf, with many tassels; he was a tall, handsome man, and looked very well in it.”—Bunting’s Ancient Music of Ireland.


BY J. U. U.

From the haunts of busy life,
Homes of care, and paths of strife,
Up the breezy mountain way,
’Mid the upper fields of day,
Let me wander, far and lonely,
Without guide, save nature only;
And still ever as I go,
Lose all thought of things below,
Cast all sorrow to the wind,
While the low vales sink behind:
Fetterless and spirit free
As the merry mountain bee.
Like a spirit, thought and eye
Buoyant between earth and sky,
There to bask in free pure light
On the joyous mountain height;
Dallying with the breeze and shower,
Claiming kin with every flower,
Catching iris dreams that glance
On the breath of circumstance.
Changing with the changeful scene—
Solemn, sombre, gay, serene:
As each change fresh wonders bring,
Weaving thought from every thing.
Oft let shadowy hollows fall,
And grey cliffs’ embattled wall
Crown the gloom with hoary height,
Where the raven wheels his flight.
Or green vale unfolding soft,
In the lonesome crags aloft
Shut the far down world from view.
There, long up ether’s darkening blue,
The eye may gaze for worlds unseen,
In the skyey void serene,
And weave visions strange and fair,
Of the starry empires there—
Spirits changeless, pure, and bright,
In their glorious vales of light;
Till some wild note break the spell
From sequester’d rural dell
Where the mountain goatherds dwell:
So to break the wild fond dream,
And to man bring down the theme;
For all earthly things impart
Thoughts of Man to human heart.
Then from towery crag on high,
If far city win the eye,
Glittering through the misty air,
’Twere a prospect meet and fair
For the lone sequestered gaze
O’er its wide uncertain maze,
Then to muse on wealth and fame,
And on every specious name
That gilds the dross of earth below,
Till, from reflection, wisdom grow.
Wisdom:—not that sense which cleaveth
To the world where all deceiveth;
Not grave prudence, hard, yet hollow—
In the beaten round to follow
Lengthened aims, in life’s short day,
While the ages glide away:—
But that moral, old and sage,
Said and sung in every age;
Old as man—yet ever new,
Heard by all, and known to few;
Murmur of Being’s wave, that still,
Unheeded as the babbling rill,
In the world’s noise, makes music only
’Midst the hush of deserts lonely.
Last, from o’er the seaward steep,
Let me view the spacious deep,
While the billows break and flow
In the caverned gloom below.
There let cloud and sunbeam flee
O’er the sunned and shadowy sea—
Light and dark in fleeting strife,
Like the vanities of life;
So to dream of joy and woe,
Imaged in the gliding show,
As they come, and as they fly,
To the verge of sea and sky;
So our joys and sorrows flee,
Onward to eternity.
Then away in spirit wrought
By the voluntary thought,
Where the heath is freshly springing,
Where the sky-borne lark is clinging
On mid air with lively song,
Which the echoing cliffs prolong;
O’er wild steep and dreamy hollow,
On, still onward let me follow.
While the airy morn is bright,
While rich noon is at its height,
Till eve falls with sober grey,
Freely let me roam away.



(Translated for the Irish Penny Journal.)


A mason was one day at work, building a stout wall to protect a garden; nigh him lay a piled-up heap of stones, which he took into his hands in succession, one by one, according as he wanted them. The stones on their part submitted with exemplary quietness to be handled and introduced into their appropriate places; for they were fully aware that the mason’s object was to erect a wall, and they knew equally well that that object could not be attained, if they took it into their thick heads to rebel against the principle upon which he was proceeding. At last, however, somewhat to the mason’s amusement, it did so happen, after he had accomplished a considerable portion of his task, that one contumacious fellow, upon being laid hold of, began to talk very big upon the rights of stones, and the tyranny of coercing stonekind in general, declaring, that for himself, whether in a wall or out of a wall, he was determined to enjoy that liberty which was the birthright of every stone upon the earth, and that he would sooner be trodden into powder than surrender it.

“I tell you plumply and plainly, Master Mason,” said he, “that I will not be subjected to restraint. I must have scope for my energies. I must have room to look about me, and be able to roll to the left side or to the right, as I think proper, like a free agent!”

The mason, on hearing this, could not refrain from laughing. “Truly,” said he, “I have lighted here on an eccentric specimen of the stony tribe. So, my good friend, you wish to have room to roll about in—eh?”

“Precisely,” returned the other.

“Did you ever hear of the adage, ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss?’”

“Yes, and despise it,” answered the Stone; “a moss is a token of antiquity; and antiquity and absurdity are synonymous terms in my vocabulary. May heaven defend me from ever gathering moss!”

“Whew!” whistled the mason, in a manner to indicate mingled surprise and contempt. “Pray, what do you take yourself to be?”

“What do I take myself to be! Just a stone—a wall stone—neither more nor less.”

“And are you content that I should allot you a position in the wall?”

“Certainly I am.”

“And yet,” said the mason, “you declare you will not be satisfied to remain under constraint? You must have room forsooth for your energies! Really your inconsistency is most ridiculous. Come; I have no time to lose; tell me at once what you would be at. Will you go into the wall, or shall I deposit you again on the ground?”

“I have made up my mind to oblige you by going into the wall,” replied the Stone, with a patronizing air; “but I will[Pg 15] not be swindled out of my natural rights! Liberty is the first of these—and I must have liberty, even in a wall.”

“So you shall,” said the man; “your liberty will be that of obtaining your just position in the wall, and of maintaining it undisturbedly.”

“Bah! what stupid, sneaking notions you have of liberty, surely! I tell you again that I must have space to expand and expatiate in. Do you think that I can stoop to fill the office of a mere wedge?”

“You tire out my patience, friend,” said the mason: “there is no use in arguing the matter further. I see I cannot get you to take up your lodging in the wall: I see I must throw you on the earth again.”

“Very well; be it so,” returned the Stone: “liberty before all things! Pitch me to a respectable distance from the other stones, that I may feel myself unshackled and independent. I have the same right to be a free-stone that you have to be a free-mason.”

“There, then,” said the mason, and with the words he cast the Stone from him into the middle of the highway.

The Stone was now in the full enjoyment of its darling liberty. Exceedingly did it congratulate itself. For a time also everything went well with it. The summer was a mild one; the skies were bright, and the foot of the passenger was continually transferring it to a new locality, and showing it daily more and more of the ways of the world. But, alas! the summer could not last for ever: autumn came, and brought with it clouds of dust and showers of yellow leaves; and when the wind-gusts had subsided, there fell on the earth heavy torrents of rain; and the highway was covered with mire, and the measure of the isolated stone was forthwith taken for a surtout of mud; and there it lay, fallen from its high estate, and completely confounded by the passing eye with the vilest of the rubbish in its vicinity.

But this was not the worst: in the course of a few weeks, the rains continuing still to fall, and the mire to accumulate, the earth gave way under it, and it became, as it were, imbedded in a hole produced by the force of its own pressure on the soft soil, till at last no part of it remained above ground except the upper surface. Unfortunately, too, there was no longer a possibility of retracing its steps, for the wall was now erected and the mason was far away. Nothing remained for it but to sink deeplier and deeplier into the earth, until not a vestige of it remained visible to the eye. Alas! for our poor Stone! Oh, Liberty! Oh, Independence! ye are indeed desirable objects of attainment; but surely they who seek ye at the expense of the great combining principle of social order, commit a senseless and irremediable blunder.

In the spring following, the mason was employed in building another wall. He hoped that his work would be suffered to proceed without interruption on this occasion at least, but he was speedily undeceived; for one of the stones, just as in the previous year, began to grumble, and protest against the treatment to which it was about to be subjected. The mason, recollecting the former scene, was on the point of flinging it away at once; but second thoughts suggested to him the eligibility of first trying the effect of a little reasoning and remonstrance, “for, after all,” said he, aloud, “no two stones are alike, and though I have met with one that was proof against argument, another may be less intractable in my hands.”

“There it is!” cried the Stone impatiently; “no two stones alike!—that’s your foolish mistake, your ignorance. I tell you that there is no difference between one stone and another: I am just as good as any stone in the wall, and I insist on my prerogatives.”

“Hoity-toity!” exclaimed the mason, “but you are a sturdy beggar! Will you be condescending enough to define your prerogatives? I will thank you to tell me briefly how you would have me dispose of you.”

“I want to be a corner-stone, then,” said the rebel, “and a corner-stone I will be. I stand on my rights: all stones are equal; so, quick!—let me occupy a position in the corner.”

“That you cannot do, my friend,” returned the mason: “don’t you see that the corner-stones are already in their places?”

“I see that well enough,” said the Stone; “but you can take one of them out, and install me in its place. I have as clear a right to be there as any of them: equality is the badge of us all: every one of us is from a common quarry: we are all stones alike. Take one of them out, and put me in.”

“Now, see how grossly inconsistent you are!” urged the workman: “all stones, you assert, are equal, and have the same rights: yet you would have me rudely displace and degrade one of them for your pleasure, though, according to your own acknowledgment, you are not a bit better than he is! Upon my word, but you have enlightened conceptions of what constitutes equality. But I cannot stand here arguing the question with you all day; my time is precious; I beg you will decide whether you are satisfied to form part of the wall or not.”

“Assuredly I am,” said the other, “but only as a corner stone. How can you be so blind as not to see that we are all stones alike, and all therefore equal?”

“You are all stones alike,” replied the mason, “and so far equal, in a certain sense; but your equality consists merely in your being all liable to serve as wall-stones, not in your being all qualified for the place of corner-stones.”

“A truce with your slavish doctrines!” cried the malcontent; “either make of me a corner-stone, or build your wall without me.”

“Is that your final decision?” asked the mason. “I warn you not to trifle with me, for I cannot let my work wait for you any longer.”

“I have said it,” said the Stone. “I would see your wall trampled into dust, and the whole universe along with it, before I would surrender my great principle. Do what you please.”

“Go, then, refractory wronghead,” exclaimed the mason, “go and enjoy your equality where none will be likely to dispute it!” And so saying, he cast the Stone from him with a vigorous jerk; and the Stone, after it had completed its journey through the air, fell down, and from the force of its own gravitation sank several feet low into the bottom of a deep and slimy pool.

This was, for all historical purposes, the termination of its existence. What became of it in the pool ultimately, it is impossible to conjecture, for half a century has elapsed since; but as a total extinguisher was put upon its aspirations after notoriety by the accident, it is highly probable that if not worn quite away by the friction of the surrounding mud and water, it was at least gnawed to the core, in a moral sense, by its regrets for the folly of its past misconduct—regrets which we may suppose to have been shared in a pretty equal degree by its twin-brother of the preceding year, which had stickled so stoutly in its colloquy with the mason for its favourite theory of liberty and independence.


The objects which come every day before our eyes, the offices which involuntarily and almost unconsciously we at each moment must perform in order that we may live, are precisely the subjects concerning which the mass of mankind are least curious, and of the true nature and utility of which they are the most completely ignorant. It is thus with the air we breathe. There is no person but is aware of the necessity of breathing, and of the motion of the air caused by winds; but how few have asked themselves, What is air? How much is there of it? Could the same air be always used for breathing? How do fishes manage living in water in place of air? Yet the information thus obtainable might be the means of saving the lives of hundreds, as certainly the ignorance on these points has been the source of death, by painful and lingering torture, in many cases. We purpose, therefore, now to give some information about air, to show the importance of it to mankind, and to indicate how much we owe to the Omniscient Providence that has given to air the properties that we find it to possess.

Although “trifles light as air” has become a proverb, yet air is positively heavy. A hogshead of air weighs about ten ounces; this is heavier than the gas which is burned in the streets and shops, of which a hogshead would weigh only seven ounces; and very much heavier than hydrogen gas, with which balloons were formerly filled, a hogshead of hydrogen gas weighing only two-thirds of an ounce. A balloon filled with hydrogen, or even with coal gas, rises into the air, as oil or a cork rises up through water. The air being thus heavy, presses upon the earth; and by measuring the degree of pressure we can tell how much air there is. This is done by an instrument termed a barometer—a glass tube closed at one end, and which, having been filled with quicksilver, is turned upside down in a cup containing quicksilver also. The tube being shut at the top, the air does not press on the[Pg 16] quicksilver inside, but presses upon that in the basin; the quicksilver in the tube, which tends naturally to fall down into the basin, is thus forced to remain up in the tube by the pressure of external air; and it rises so high that the pressure inside, of the quicksilver, and outside, of the air, is equal. If the pressure of the air diminishes, the quicksilver falls; if the pressure of the air increases, the quicksilver rises: and as all great changes of the air are connected with changes of the weather, the barometer is generally known and consulted as a sort of weather-glass.

Every space of an inch square supports fifteen pounds weight of air; at the rate of ten ounces to a hogshead, the depth of the air would therefore be about five miles. But it is much deeper, for air is what is termed compressible—that is to say, it may by pressure be squeezed into a smaller bulk; and hence the air next the ground, being compressed by the portions above it, is much the heaviest portion. At three miles high a hogshead of air weighs only five ounces, and at eight miles high only two ounces; hence the limits of the air are much farther removed, and it is known to extend to at least forty miles.

The office of the air is to support animal life: no animal can live without air: even fishes require air. The water in which they swim contains air mixed with it, and this water washing the gills, which are their lungs, serves to them as the air directly acts on us. If we boil water until the air is expelled from it, and let it cool in a close vessel, we may drown a fish by putting it into such water, as easily as a land animal; it could not breathe. It is thus that in the lakes on the tops of very high mountains there are no fish. The heights are deserted by land and by water animals, in consequence of the air being too thin to support life. The way in which the air acts upon the body is very interesting. The most abundant element of our food is what the chemists term carbon, of which, in a gross manner, charcoal may serve as an example. Now, we eat much more of this than we require for the supply of our bodies, and it must be got rid of. This is done by its uniting in the body with a substance termed oxygen, and forming carbonic acid, the sort of air which boils up in soda water and ginger beer. This dissolves in the blood, colouring it a deep purple, and escapes from it when by the action of the heart the black blood is exposed to the action of the air on the surface of the lungs. Now, the office of the air is to supply this oxygen which removes the carbon from the blood. But the air is not pure oxygen. If it were, it would act too violently. An animal which breathes pure oxygen, becomes flushed, pants violently, and, if not choked, dies of inflammation of the lungs, produced by the intense action. In the air we breathe, the oxygen gas is diluted to the proper degree by another gas, termed nitrogen, which is totally destitute of power; it does of itself no good and no harm; it is the only substance that could be mixed in the air we breathe, without interfering in any way. When thus the blood loses, by exposure to the air in the lungs, its carbonic acid, it takes oxygen in its place; from dark purple it becomes bright red, and is then proper to take up a fresh quantity of carbon, and to sustain the body in health by its removal.

When any thing burns in the air, it is the oxygen which is active. The nitrogen dilutes here also the oxygen, and keeps its activity down to the degree most suitable to our wants. If the air were pure oxygen, all our domestic fires would be violent conflagrations; our iron pokers and tongs, if heated red hot, would take fire and burn like squibs; no comfort, no safety for society could exist. But in burning, this oxygen is destroyed. If a candle be placed lighted under a glass bell, it will, after a little, go out. The air will become unfit to support combustion. Here also, as well as in the burning of coals, coke, gas, oil, charcoal, &c. the oxygen is changed into carbonic acid, and precisely as a fresh supply of oxygen is necessary for the continuance of life, so is it for combustion.

The air contains about one part in five of oxygen, and, as has been seen, this oxygen is liable to continual destruction by the breathing of animals and the burning of fuel and of lights. An ordinary man spoils in twenty-four hours 720 cubic feet of air, that is, a mass of air 11 feet 6 inches square and 6 feet thick. The burning of three ounces of charcoal, or of a mould candle of six to the pound, produces the same effect. It is not unusual in a factory to burn ten tons of coal a-day, which spoils 3,185,760 cubic feet of air, a mass of a quarter of a mile square and six feet thick. If we multiply these numbers by the number of inhabitants, of man and of all other animals upon the earth, and also by the quantity of fuel burned all over the globe, it will be evident that without some regulating power superior to all that mere human means could devise, the air might ultimately become unfit to be the sustenance of living beings, and all the numerous tribes of animated nature which now adorn its surface, would be destroyed.

By the all-wise arrangement of Providence, however, the animals, in thus converting the oxygen of the air into carbonic acid, become the means of supplying nourishment to another class of beings equally interesting and numerous. All vegetables breathe; but as animals take in too much carbon with their solid food, so do plants obtain too little from the substances that give nourishment to their roots. The animal breathes to give off carbon, the vegetable breathes to take it up. The two great divisions of living nature thus act in contrary ways upon the air; the oxygen consumed by the animal or by combustion, is given out again by the carbon of the carbonic acid becoming fixed in the plant of which it forms the woody mass; and thus the composition of the air is kept balanced at its proper point, and provision for the due nutrition of animals and vegetables is secured.

The air we breathe serves, however, for other important uses. Without the air, the fresh breezes which moderate the heats of summer could not exist, and there would prevail in nature an eternal silence, for it is by means of air that we not only breathe, but hear. The variety of aspect given to the sky by the formation and rapid change of clouds, arises from the mixture of warm and of cold damp air. If there was no air, there might be dew, but there could never be a cloud.

Without the air we could not have the bright blue sky which gives to our fine season its greatest charm. The heavens would be a vault of intense black, in which the sun would appear alone a glaring ball of fire, whose rays, unmitigated by the air which now absorbs them in their passage through its mass, would be a continual source of ill. The blue sky, the bright white clouds, arise from the sun’s rays being partly stopped, and turned from one object to another. The sun’s rays really consist of light of all the colours of the rainbow; of these the red portion is lost in passing through the air, and the blue remains, giving the colour we observe. Without the air, a place shaded from the sun would be in absolute darkness; as it now exists, a quantity of light is scattered about in every way by the different portions of the air, and thus an agreeable shade provided in place of the total absence of all light. On very elevated tops of mountains, where the traveller is placed above the greater portion of the air, all these effects of its absence which we have noticed, are found to exist. On the summit of Mont Blanc, a pistol discharged is scarcely heard, and a companion once out of sight, may be lost; for neither can he produce any noise by his own exertions, nor could his voice reach his friends, even if he could speak; the sky is deep indigo-coloured, or nearly black; and those objects on which the sun’s light does not directly fall, are seen with difficulty.

Such are the uses of the common air we breathe. Such are the benefits we derive from a blessing, of whose existence when at rest we are almost unconscious.

Absence of Mind.—A well-known gentleman of Magdalen College, Cambridge, had taken his watch from his pocket, to mark the time he intended to boil an egg for his breakfast, when a friend entering the room, found him absorbed in some abstruse calculation, with the egg in his hand, upon which he was intently looking, and the watch supplying its place in the saucepan of boiling water.

Early Rising.—Six or seven hours’ sleep is certainly sufficient, and no one ought to exceed eight. To make sleep refreshing, the following things are requisite:—To take sufficient exercise in the open air; to avoid strong tea or coffee; to eat a light supper; and to lie down with a mind as cheerful and serene as possible. We hardly ever knew an early riser who did not enjoy a good state of health. It consists with observation, that all very old men have been early risers. This is the only circumstance attending longevity, to which we never knew an exception.

Printed and Published every Saturday by Gunn and Cameron, at the Office of the General Advertiser, 6 Church Lane, College Green, Dublin.


Page 10: developement as in the original (two occurrences)

Page 12: rere as in the original in "My only chance was to get at the rere"

Page 13: Donegall as in the original in "monastery of Donegall"

Page 16: Magdalen as in the original in "Magdalen College, Cambridge"