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morial;" and on another occasion when a friend insisted that all clergymen were gentlemen, he turned upon him with a kind of fierceness-"Our Saviour was no gentleman," he cried; "the apostles were no gentlemen either."

But, gentleman or no gentleman, he would endure insolence from no man, and the spirit of combat showed itself early within him. His career at Trinity College, Dublin, was disturbed by brawls of all kinds, and though he distinguished himself in scholarship, he regarded the authorities as his natural foes. With Dr Baldwin, the Provost, he had a lasting feud, and that stiffnecked Whig, using the worst insult he knew, denounced his pupil for a Jacobite. The result was that Skelton left the university two years before his scholarship expired. But his conduct was never marked by the priggishness of the student. His mighty strength and his aptitude for sports of all kinds gave him an early superiority among his fellows, while his irascible temper made him ever prompt to quarrel. Once, indeed, he was only saved from a duel on St Stephen's Green by the diplomacy of his friends; and on another occasion he raised a riot in the streets, and a man was unfortunately killed by some of the party. "This," says Burdy, with his usual imperturbability, "had a serious effect upon him." However, he was not always thus bloodthirsty, and at the common games of skill and strength he was always an adept. Though

he was a fine boxer, and most dexterous at the small-sword, the back-sword was his favourite weapon, and once at Donnybrook Fair he won a hat set up as a prize for the best cudgel-player. But having gained the victory he made a bow to the girls, and told them he fought just to please them, and returned the hat that they might have the more amusement. "A hero in romance, says the faithful biographer, "could not have been more complaisant to the fair sex." So complaisant was he, indeed, that he perfected himself also in the art of dancing. "He could both dance gracefully and dance long "— again we quote Burdy-"two rare qualities united." And all the while he was resolutely preparing to enter the Church.

But his strangest prank of all was so near to swindling, and it is described by the biographer with so cold a humour, that not a word of it should be lost. It is the more interesting, too, because it has been repeated unconsciously a thousand times, and was gravely reported not six months ago in a French newspaper. Thus it is brought within the domain of folklore, and is the best possible proof that Samuel Burdy modelled his style on the pedlar's wares. "The following trick of his " (we quote textually), "which has since been practised by some others, is not unsuitable to the character of a young man in the college. He and twelve more, dining at an inn near Dublin, when the reckoning was to be paid, they discovered there was no money

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in the company. Skelton then invented the scheme of blindfolding the waiter, that the first he might catch should pay the reckoning, and thus they all escaped." It was a wonderful invention truly, and rather befitting the hero of a jest-book than an orthodox divine. But that is the strength of Philip Skelton: though his orthodoxy was impregnable, he always remained a man of infinite humour and fierce passion.

So Skelton left Dublin, where he had more acquaintances than any man in the college, to take orders in the Church. It was Bishop Sterne, of Clogher, who ordained him, and it is characteristic of the man that on the day of ordination he threw another deacon down - stairs. His first curacy was interrupted speedily by a brawl with the vicar's wife; but he had already discovered not only the splendid charity which dominated his life, but his talent for preaching. On the one hand, he was not a "dull drowsy lecturer," nor, on the other, was he one of "the smooth pretty preachers." His discourses were apt to draw tears or to arouse laughter. On the subject of hell-fire he was peculiarly eloquent, and he could move the most cultured audience to terror. Once when he had preached before a too refined congregation he was told that a certain lady did not like his sermon. 66 “Oh, replied Skelton, "she has a good right not to like sermons about hell's fire, for she is mistress to the Archbishop of York, and all London knows it." But all


his hearers were not as this lady, and he thundered to good purpose wherever he went, and supported his stern opinions with his own lack of conventionality. "I set out on the road of orthodoxy," said he, "but I found leisure to switch the Arians now and then." And in good truth he switched them all, and defended his own opinions with admirable ergy. "Between you and me," he said to a friend, "I'll pawn my salvation on the truth of the Trinity."


Appointed curate at Monaghan, this fighting Christian, who should have ruled others, wasted the best years of his life in futile subservience. Maybe it is not strange that promotion came slowly to one who cared not to conciliate his fellows; but promotion did come slowly, and Skelton freely attributed his failure to the treachery of his bishop. Nor did he accept the neglect in amiable silence. "God forgive me," he would say, "I railed against him most violently, but he did not regard it; his station placed him far above me, and what did he care for the censure of a poor curate?" However, Skelton neither forgot nor forgave: if the bishop slighted him, he ignored the bishop. He never attended a visitation during the rest of the bishop's life; and so far did he carry his rancour, as always to insult a bishop wherever he found him, and whoever he might be. Meanwhile, though he followed a serious profession, he did not neglect the prowess of his

he was not pleased with his own lack of bravery, and at the age of fifty he thought of marriage again. He then realised the loneliness of life, and repented that he had not married when young. "Would to God," he would exclaim, “I had married a servant-maid!”

The long years of his curacy were broken only by a literary project or two, and one journey to London. He was still young when he wrote 'Some Proposals for the Revival of Christianity,' a piece attributed to Swift, under whose inspiration it was composed. The great man, after his wont, would neither acknowledge nor deny the authorship; he merely objected that the writer had not continued the irony to the end. A more serious effort was 'Deism Revealed,' a work which was approved by Hume and profitably published by Andrew Miller. To launch this masterpiece Skelton travelled to London, and his impressions of the capital are droll enough. Like Voltaire, he was amazed at the intelligence of the merchants in whose houses he dined, and there "passed many agreeable hours with company fit to entertain and instruct me." But coming up from Monaghan he was most deeply struck by the sight of a wild Irishman in a public show, "dressed up with a false beard, artificial wings, and the like." A hideous figure, he wore a chain round his waist, and cut his foolish capers before a gaping crowd. He was a native of Skelton's own Derriaghy, and had taken,

youth. He was still undefeated at the game of long-bullets, and his strength was famous throughout the countryside. He could still lift such weights as no ordinary person could move, and he told Burdy that he could wind a 50-lb. weight round his head without any difficulty. Moreover, his fist was as active as his tongue to chastise the insolent, but he had not yet found the proper theatre for his genius.

On the subject of matrimony he was no less exercised than was Panurge. "Shall I marry?" said he. "Marry in God's name," might have replied his friends. But though he had made several attempts (ingeniously tabulated by the faithful Burdy) he never changed his state. The first lady to whom he paid his addresses showed signs of extravagance, and he would have none of her. "Between your pride and his poverty," he declared, "poor "poor Phil Skelton shall never be racked." And poor Phil Skelton was not racked, though providence proved his wisdom by driving the lady to drink and adultery. Another experiment might have had a more hopeful result, had not Skelton called upon his betrothed and found her conversing in a private room with a "gay, airy youth." He dropped the beau the stairs, and never spoke to the faithless one again. After this fashion four attempts failed, and Skelton resolved to suppress his passions, for which purpose he lived two years upon vegetables. But



said he, a proper method of gulling the English. After the wild Irishman the parson was most astonished by the fact that he once dined in London for three halfpence, for which he got a quart of thick soup and a piece of bread. It was cheap and maybe savoury, but even Skelton, who was used to the hard fare of Ireland, did not like to repeat the experiment. "The soup," said he, was made of broken meat collected from cook-shops, kitchens, and strolling beggars." And if he knew beforehand its composition, it is another proof of the old man's intrepidity. However, his visit to London gave him the air of a travelled man, and the artful Burdy was not slow to question him. "What's the reason, sir' (I said to Mr Skelton once), 'that these deistical writers, Hume, Bolingbroke, and Gibbon, are SO clever, while their opponents are often inferior to them in point of composition?' 'Do you think' (he replied) 'the devil ever sent a fool on his errand?"" It reads like a parody of Boswell's 'Life,' and truly both biographer and subject acquit themselves in the approved fashion.

concealed his bed, and in this modest hut he entertained the great ones of the neighbourhood. His arrival was characteristic and magnificent. He was a bruiser himself, but he thought that his own fists might be over-matched, so he took with him one Jonas Good, a great boxer, to defend him. "I hire you to fight," said he to his henchman, "at which I hear you are very clever," and between them they fought the parish into submission and good behaviour. Moreover, his sense of fun got the better of him, and he dressed Jonas up to look as terrific as possible. Wherefore he would not allow him to wear livery, which might have destroyed the allusion, but clothed him in picturesque braveries, and gave out that he was a match for four. Yet the ruffians of Pettigo were equal to the emergency: the boasting of Skelton "excited the envy of some malicious people, who waylaid Jonas at night, and beat him most shockingly." This, however, was but an interlude. Jonas recovered his beating, and, his master aiding, ruled the parish with an iron fist.

For his own part, Skelton was always fighting. Now it is a mob of tinkers that he chastises single-handed. Now he thrashes an officer for profane swearing. At another time he quarrels at a vestry-meeting, and putting off his clerical robe, he beats his opponent within an inch of his life. He had been thirty years a priest when he challenged a major to mortal combat; and wherever he went or whatever enterprise he under

But after twenty years of waiting Philip Skelton was appointed to the living of Pettigo, the roughest parish in Ireland, and there he showed his true character and courage. Remote and uncultivated, it verily deserved the name of Siberia, which he gave to it. The vicar himself had but one room, with an earthen floor, where he slept and studied. A simple screen

took, he bore himself as a gallant man. But, his courage apart, he was always devoted to charity. He took upon himself the sorrows of all his poor parish. He fought hunger as he fought impertinence, with every fibre of his robust frame. "If you have not food," he said, "beg it; if you can't get for begging, steal; if you can't get for stealing, rob, and don't starve." So, as long as he had a penny in his pocket, he fed his parishioners, were they Catholic or Protestant. No heresy came in the way of his welldoing; only he must do good in his own way. When famine came, he sold his library to buy meal, and, distributing the meal himself, he kept back the extortionate thief with his strong right hand. At the time of the greatest dearth, "he and Jonas Good, the strong man, regulated Pettigo market on a Monday, standing among the meal-sacks, each of them with a huge club in his hand." It is a heroic picture, which you cannot contemplate without a frank admiration for this brave old parson,

in the wilds of Ireland would have been absurd. So in the time of frost and distress this open-handed hero would go through Pettigo" with a strawrope about him to keep his large coat on." Yet in the face of disaster he allowed himself one pleasure. "He was fond of a good horse," says Burdy, "and generally had the best saddle-horses that could be got, though he was remarkably awkward on horseback, for he turned out his toes, and took no hold with his knees, but balanced himself in the stirrups, like a man on a slackwire; so that when a horse began to trot he jogged up down like a taylor. A lady who was riding near him one day near Pettigo observed to him that he turned out his toes too much. "O yes,' he said, 'my education the 'my education was inverted, for I was taught to ride by a dancing-master, and to dance by a riding-master."" Are not the picture and the excuse alike admirable? And still more humorous is Burdy's comment : "Horace himself informs us very candidly that he rode awkwardly on his mule."

Yet though he gave up everything, he loved comfort and the good things of this world with all the energy of his vivid nature. The force of life dominated him, and he lived every minute and with every drop of blood. His library gone, he collected another; in the face of poverty he cultivated his garden, and despite the bleakness of his Siberian Pettigo, he made a wonderful collection of flowers. Of dress he was properly contemptuous, since finery

Thus Skelton was preferred from one rectory to another, until at last old age drove him to seek refuge and retirement in Dublin. There he lived quietly and at his ease, discussing theology, baiting bishops, and playing piquet for a farthing a game. But by this time his fame had spread wide, and his table-talk was collected for the curious. For instance, at dinner (you are told) he would give two toasts. The first was

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