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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
in the wilds of Ireland would gallant man. But, his courage have been absurd. So in the apart, he was always devoted time of frost and distress this to charity. He took upon him- open-handed hero would go self he sorrows of all his poor through Pettigo“with a strawparish. He fought hunger as rope about him to keep his he fought impertinence, with large coat on." Yet in the every fibre of his robust frame. face of disaster he allowed himyou
have not food,” he said, self one pleasure. beg it; if you can't get for fond of a good horse,' says begging, steal; if you can't get Burdy, "and generally had the for stealing, rob, and don't best saddle-horses that could starve." So, as long as he had be got, though he was remarka penny in his pocket, he fed ably awkward on horseback, his parishioners, were they for he turned out his toes, and Catholic or Protestant. No took no hold with his knees, heresy came in the way of his but balanced himself in the welldoing; only he must do stirrups, like a man on a slackgood in his own way. When wire; so that when a horse famine came, he sold his library began to trot he jogged up to buy meal, and, distributing down like a taylor.
A lady the meal himself, he kept back who was riding near him one the extortionate thief with his day near Pettigo observed to strong right hand. At the him that he turned out his toes time of the greatest dearth, too much. O yes,' he said, " he and Jonas Good, the 'my education was inverted, strong man, regulated Pettigo for I was taught to ride by market on a Monday, standing a dancing-master, and to dance among the meal-sacks, each of by a riding-master.'” Are not them with a huge club in his the picture and the excuse alike hand.” It is a heroic picture, admirable ? And still which you cannot contemplate humorous is Burdy's comment: without a frank admiration for “Horace himself informs this brave old parson,
very candidly that he rode Yet though he gave up every- awkwardly on his mule.” thing, he loved comfort and Thus Skelton was preferred the good things of this world from one rectory to another, with all the energy of his vivid until at last old age drove him
The force of life domi- to seek refuge and retirement nated him, and he lived every in Dublin. There he lived minute and with every drop of quietly and at his ease, discussblood. His library gone, he ing theology, baiting bishops, collected another; in the face and playing piquet for a farof poverty he cultivated his thing a game. But by this garden, and despite the bleak- time his fame had spread wide, ness of his Siberian Pettigo, he and his table-talk was collected made a wonderful collection of for the curious. For instance, at flowers. Of dress he was pro- dinner (you are told) he would perly contemptuous, since finery give two toasts. The first was
the family of the Latouches, them until he was past eighty which had a soul superior to the and the pompous prebendary of rest of mankind; the second was Donacavey. Moreover, he had Richmond the dancing-master, a simple faith in omens and who
famous in Dublin dreams. Once upon a time a for the capture of burglars. great lady fell in love with him, This toast he would preface and offered him the tutelage of with the words : “I give you the her sons, as a step to matrihealth of a hero, Richmond the mony. Although perplexed, he dancing-master. With Skel- might have looked upon the suit ton's approval he must needs with favour, but in the night "he have been a hero, and at least saw the appearance of a wighe professed an art which the block, which, rising by degrees parson practised with skill out of the floor of the room, and and sympathy. But Skelton's then moving back and forward, familiar discourse was always said in a solemn voice : 'Beware free, and never smacked of his of what you are about.'” He cloth. To a girl who came to did beware, and procured the
, him for counsel he exclaimed : appointment for friend. “Marry a soldier, my girl, for The lady married her tutor in find honest two
- in half a year soldiers than honest parsons.” after,” says Skelton, “she cuckWhen a gentleman of Fer- hold him, and then I saw her managh told him that he ex- with my eyes a beastly drunkpected to represent the county ard.” Truly the wig-block gave in Parliament, “Ay,” he said, a just and timely warning. with a directness worthy of the Such was the man whom Doctor, “they are all a parcel Burdy drew, and in drawing of rascals, and a rascal is fittest Skelton he perforce drew himto represent them." Yet in self. So he is revealed to us a spite of his energy and strength simple friend and faithful biohe suffered from the horrors, grapher. His own career, as like Borrow and many another we have said, was merely comstrong and energetic man. In monplace. He attempted, inhis own thought, he trembled effectually, to marry Bishop for fifty years upon the brink Percy's daughter, and he printed
He would rise at a volume of poems, one of which night to rush in timid search boasted the ingenious title: “On for a doctor, and half an hour's being refused the Loan of an jogging on horseback would Umbrella by a certain Lady." restore him to confidence. His But the work of his life was parishioners, sympathetic in Skelton's biography, and it is a most things, tired of this per- curiosity of literature that, while petual anxiety, and one among Burdy and Boswell were inthem, bolder than the rest, said, spired by a similar talent, they “ Make a day, sir, and keep it, were working at the same time, and don't be always disappoint- and that their masterpieces ing us." But he refused to were published within the limit make a day, and disappointed of a single year.
VOL. CLXV.-NO. MIII.
of the grave.
OH, maybe it was yesterday, or fifty years ago!
Now I'd hear the burn run an' then I'd hear the thrushes. Young, still young!-an' drenchin' wet the grass,
Wet the golden honeysuckle hangin' sweetly down; Here, lad, here! will ye follow where I pass,
An' find me cuttin' rushes on the mountain.
Then was it only yesterday, or fifty years or so?
Rippin' round the bog pools high among the heather, The hook it made me hand sore, I had to lave it go;
"Twas he that cut the rushes then for me to bind together. Come, dear, come !-an' back along the burn
See the darlin' honeysuckle hangin' like a crown. Quick, one kiss! Sure, there' some one at the turn! "Oh, we're afther cuttin' rushes on the mountain.”
Yesterday, yesterday, or fifty years ago
I waken out o' dreams when I hear the summer thrushes. Oh, that's the Brabla' burn, I can hear it sing an' flow,
For all that's fair, I'd sooner see a bunch o' green rushes. Run, burn, run! Can ye mind when we were young
The honeysuckle hangs above, the pool is dark an' brown: Sing, burn, sing! Can ye mind the song ye sung The day we cut the rushes on the mountain?
THE RECORD OF A LIFE.
An autobiography, or a con
apfidential diary, affords an oppor- plaud, you cannot help acknowtunity for the display of many ledging the frankness of the attractive and engaging quali- record. Not one line is writties. It may be instructive, ten for mere effect; not one amusing, and ingenious. It sentence but is stamped with may contain interesting facts the unmistakable hall-mark of not hitherto revealed to the the writer's mind and heart. world, or valuable judgments Mrs Oliphant had originally passed by the writer upon his designed her autobiography for contemporaries, or vivid de- a legacy to her sons; but after scriptions of choses vues. But their death she continued the there is one virtue without the work, avowedly with a view to presence of which all other ex- posthumous publication. cellences are as naught, and that virtue is candour. Any claims, " to write all this with the
“How strange it is to me," she exattempt to pose, any tendency effort of making light reading of it, to strike an attitude, is fatal. and putting in anecdotes that will do It is notorious how apt autobio- to quote in the papers and make the graphers are to be lacking in book sell ! It is a sober narrative this one essential. In analys- enough, heaven knows ! and when I
wrote it for my Cecco [her younger ing his own character -“the son] to read, it was all very different ; other fellow” (to wit himself), but now that I am doing it consciously as Laurence Lockhart used to for the public, with the aim (no evil say—a man, consciously or un- aim) of leaving a little more money,
I feel all this to be so vulgar, so comconsciously, sets down what he
mon, so unnecessary, as if I were desires to set down. In dis- making pennyworths of myself.” cussing the motives which prompted a particular action, It is difficult to believe that he colours his picture with tints the narrative could have been borrowed from subsequent ex- more free from affectation and perience and reflection. Thus pretence, more open and more he never comes to close quarters intimate, if the original purwith his readers, who are quick pose of the writer had not been to detect the ring of insincerity. altered by the crushing blow Whatever merits or defects this which made her once happy remarkable volumel may pos- home “empty, cold, and silent, " sess, no one can deny its absol- and left her waiting, longing, ute straightforwardness. You in earnest expectation, for “the feel instinctively that the writer one event to come, which will, is in good faith ; and, whether I hope and believe, do away you approve or disapprove, with all the suffering past, and
1 The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs M. O. W. Oliphant. Arranged and Edited by Mrs Harry Coghill. William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh and London : 1899.