The Felons Track (9)
CONTINUATION OF PERSONAL WANDERINGS. — DUNGARVAN. — THE COMERAGHS. — MOUNT MELLARY. — KILWORTH. — CROSS. DUNMANWAY. — GOUGANE BARRA. — BANTRY BAY. — THE PRIEST’S LEAP. — KENMARE. — THE REEKS. — KILLARNEY. — TEMPLENOE.— DEPARTURE. — CORK. — BRISTOL. — LONDON. — PARIS.
After leaving Quinlan’s, as detailed in a former chapter, O’Mahony and myself agreed to separate for a few days. No reward had then been offered for him, and my presence only impeded his movements. We crossed the river Suir, and remained most of the day in Coolnamuck wood. Toward evening I was conducted far into the county Waterford, where I was to remain until I heard what progress he was able to make. My host was the chief of one of the fierce factions of county Waterford, and bore many a mark of desperate fray. I do not remember having met any man, before or since, who felt so acutely the fate of the country. He procured the best fare he could, and prepared my bed with his own hands. After I retired to rest, he continued pacing the room for several hours, sometimes sighing deeply, sometimes muttering curses between his clenched teeth, and sometimes suggesting plans which he thought might be even then available and efficient to redeem the past. These plans were all of a character more or less desperate; but some were exceedingly ingenious. A truer type of a Celt could not easily be found; his very caution was stamped with vehemence.
Next day but one I proceeded to meet O’Mahony, to learn his success in his nocturnal interviews. I was unable to meet him; but encountered a faithful follower of Thomas Francis Meagher, who was the bearer of a message to the effect that if he could be prevailed upon to attempt escaping, means could be procured for him. I expressed at once my entire concurrence, and desired the messenger should return to say that on condition the same means would be made available for those who were not yet arrested, we would all gladly accept of them. I ventured into a house, where, in early life, I spent many a happy day. Those of the family whom I had known and loved, had passed out of the world. They were a brother and sister, the former educated for the Church, and the latter highly gifted and educated far above her condition. I never knew a woman, in any rank of life, of nobler character or a more heroic nature. She had the richest store of womanly tenderness and kindly affections. She took the veil at the Dungarvan Convent in very early youth, where she died two years afterwards. I asked for some food, and while it was being prepared I wrote the following lines on a blank leaf of a book belonging to my dead friend:—
Fond, faithful and beloved; how oft,
Within the circle of this glowing glade,
Our mingling souls had soared aloft;
And wooed the knowledge of our destiny—
What is it? I a fugitive, and thou on high.
Nay, spurned by those for whom I’d die,
Unknown where your fond welcome gave,
There’s still a throb of ecstasy.
Even though the latest I may feel on earth.
In lingering o’er the scene where thou hadst birth.
We hoped, and felt, and breathed together,
Beside the broad Suir’s silent gush,
Or resting on yon mountain heather;
And dared to look beyond the narrow span,
That circumscribed the hope of man.
Thou didst bestow one look of love,
To cheer the hearts and dry the tears
Of those whose only hope’s above;
And win, beloved one, from the throne of light,
One saving ray for our long slavery’s night.
Her old doom clings unto the land;
If on her brow the brand be set,
And she must bear the chastening hand
For longer years, O grant, sweet saint, to me,
To die as if my arm had made her free.
I left Glenn next morning, with still some hope remaining, and sought out my friend to learn his success and prospects. He came, according to appointment, to a farmer’s house in the direction of Rathgormack, bringing with him James Stephens, who was destined to be thenceforth the companion of my wanderings, privations and dangers. He detailed to us, nearly as I have repeated it, the affair at Ballingarry. When he reached the village of Urlingford, he found some difficulty in escaping from the very men he hoped to lead back to the conflict. After vainly making every effort first to urge them on, and secondly to satisfy them of his own identity, he travelled a distance of thirty miles, and took shelter in the house of a private friend, where he hoped he could remain until something definite would be known of his comrades’ fate. That his stay was not of long duration, his appearance with us on Thursday, forty miles from the place of his concealment, amply testifies. That distance he travelled on foot on the preceding day, after having slept a night with a drunken man in a brake. He was even more averse than we were to giving up the struggle, and it was agreed on finally that he should be allowed to rest in a place of safety; that the messenger who had come from Mr. Meagher’s friend should be despatched with my proposal, and meantime, that I should betake me to the Comeragh mountains in search of Mr. Meagher, while our other comrade should make a final effort to rally the remaining strength of the people.
We would then be in a position to determine finally what we should do. Stephens and myself proceeded together as far as my former host’s in the mountains, where I left him, and continued my route as far as the Comeraghs, I rested that evening at a place called Sradavalla, and early next day recommenced my search around and over the mountains. After crossing several minor hills, I ascended the summit of the Comeragh, called Cuimshinane, which commands a prospect of nearly the whole counties of Waterford and Kilkenny, with a great part of Tipperary. That prospect was at once grand, beautiful and mournful. The corn crop began to be tinged with coming ripeness; but the potato was blighted, and presented a spectacle as black and dismal as the country’s hopes. This widespread ruin was the dread work of an hour. On the morning, when Mr. O’Brien appeared in Carrick, that crop was the most abundant, promising and healthy that had been seen for years. Then it appeared from sea to sea one mass of unvaried rottenness and decay. Notwithstanding this, I spent hours looking down on the landscape, and mourning more over the mental and moral blight, which shed its influence on the public heart, than the plague spot whose dark circumference embraced the circle of the island. From heat, fatigue and the effects of weak food, I discharged my stomach more than once, while descending the ranges of the Comeraghs. I again took up my station for the night at the village of Sradavalla. It was deemed prudent I should not sleep in the same house as on the previous night, and about eleven o’clock, accompanied by five or six men of the village, I proceeded to a house farther up the mountain. Here the accommodation was not such as we expected, and we were forced to return.
On our arrival, I found my sister-in-law who was escorted by two boatmen from Carrick-on-Suir, and who reached this wild sequestered and almost inaccessible mountain village, after a journey of fifty miles. A sad change had come over our circumstances since last we parted. My hopes were then nearly a conviction, and I went on my way not alone without remonstrance or regret on her part, but with intense encouragement. She had heard of Mr. O’Brien’s disaster, and a rumour of his arrest, had witnessed the prostration of the people, had heard I had means of escape proposed for me, and came with what money could be provided. We spent that night together at the house of a woman who had been lately confined. She endeavoured to provide tea and eggs, and we enjoyed our supper with as keen a relish and as high a zest as possible. I learned that Meagher was in the other extremity of the county Tipperary, and she undertook to convey my message to his friend a second time, while his faithful scout would endeavour to discover his retreat, and induce him to join us. She departed on her mission, having to walk ten miles over the mountain roads. I returned to the place where I parted from Stephens, whom I found greatly recovered. We remained that night at the house of his entertainer, where we were joined the following morning by O’Mahony. We spent the three succeeding days in and about the woods at Coolnamuck. Three more anxious days and nights never darkened the destiny of baffled rebels. Every morning arose upon a new hope which was blasted ere night came on by some sad intelligence.
The news that reached us was partly true and partly false: of the former character was the account of our beloved chief’s arrest, which took place on the evening of Sunday, the 6th of August. In proportion as it nerved our purpose and urged us to desperation, did that fatal information scatter the agencies on which we were to depend. The most desperate hazards would be readily undertaken in that hour of gloom. One more effort we decided on, and the experiment was to be tried the next night. We heard Mr. Meagher also was arrested, and we resolved, in order to satisfy ourselves of the correctness of this and other reports, to put ourselves in direct communication with some person in the town of Clonmel. We accordingly proceeded to the neighbourhood of that town, within a mile of which, at the Waterford side, we established ourselves, and remained two days. Each day we sent in a messenger who brought us correct intelligence of what occurred; and satisfied us not alone that Mr. O’Brien was then in gaol, but that he was allowed to be torn from the midst of a people for whom he had perilled his life, without a hand being raised in his defence. We then returned to the scene of our former meetings, and met, for the last time, beside a little brook near the Waterford slate-quarries. My ambassadress had also returned, and there were present three or four others.
The reunion was gloomy. But one question remained for discussion: Was there any hope left? The message I received as to the means of escape was dark and discouraging. Nothing remained but the hazards of some desperate enterprise. What had chiefly animated our hopes for the few days was the knowledge that disaffection and conspiracy existed in the ranks of the British army. But among other intelligence of evil omen that reached us was this, that the conspiracy had been discovered. Whether this were true or not, our means of communication were suspended; and, unable to learn what had occurred, we naturally concluded it was the worst. It is not quite correct to say, we, as far as the proceedings of these days in that neighbourhood were concerned. Neither Stephens nor myself was in communication with more than the one friend, to whose honour and heroism we would commit the liberty of the world. Never yet lived a man of more sanguine hope or intense patriotism. All the vigour of a gigantic intellect, aided by the endurance of great physical strength was tasked to the uttermost in attempting to rouse the broken energies of the country. He generally spent his nights in interviews with the chief men of the surrounding districts, while his duty by day was to communicate the result to us, and secure a place of safety for the ensuing night.
Our last conference was of course the longest and most anxious. There was no chance within the range of possibility we did not discuss. Of the intensity of our feelings, some idea may be formed by the fact, that the one woman who was of the party, whose sole stay on this earth I was, as well as the sole stay of her sister and a most helpless little family, never uttered one word of remonstrance against any project, however desperate, which was proposed. We concluded an interview of several hours, by referring the entire question to the sole decision of our friend. After a short silence, during which the agony of his mind was extreme, he solemnly advised and adjured us to provide as best we could for our own safety, while he, who was not so deeply compromised, would maintain his position, and still struggle against our common destiny. If he succeeded, and that we had not left the country, we could return. But to advise us to continue in our then position where an iron circle was closing around us, relying on the slender chances that then presented themselves, involved a responsibility which would be no longer endurable. We then partook of a comfortable dinner which he had provided, and parted with sad hearts.
The place which, as far as we could form an opinion, presented the greatest facilities for escape, was the town and neighbourhood of Dungarvan. Thither we resolved to repair; and about three o’clock, on the 13th day of August, we set off across the nearest range of the Comeraghs—Stephens and myself, accompanied by my sister-in-law, whom we hoped to employ in negotiating for a passage to France. A farmer and two women of the place undertook to conduct us the shortest way across the mountains, and provide us an asylum for the night, which we reached after a forced journey of six hours. We there parted from our guides; and the people to whom they recommended us were exceedingly kind, and much more hospitable than their means would permit. On the following day our host became our guide for several miles across the declining Comeraghs, until we came in view of Dungarvan. We purchased some bread, eggs and tea at a village called Tubbernaheena; but while in the village we learned that the military and police were scouring the country far and wide, in search of arms, which compelled us to change our route and take an easterly direction. We crossed several miles of bog, and had to pass many a ravine; but the worst trial was before us.
We applied in several houses for the means of preparing our dinner, having travelled at least twenty miles over moor and mountain. We applied in twenty places in vain. At last, half by force and half by entreaty, we prevailed on a woman, whose circumstances seemed comfortable. We were, of course, unknown; and though we met many a rebuff, we determined to endure them, rather than reveal our names and character. During the progress of our meal we established ourselves in the good graces of the housewife, but she obstinately refused to allow us to remain for the night. She directed us to a publichouse, where, on our arrival, we found a proclamation menacing any one who entertained, harboured or assisted us, with the direst punishment. In answer to our inquiry the owner, who was a woman, pointed to the proclamation, as an argument against which all remonstrance was vain. We made three or four other attempts equally fruitless; and when the night had closed around us, on a bleak, desolate road, I determined to call on the Roman Catholic priest, and state who we were; for while, if alone, we would infinitely prefer taking such rest as we could in the nearest brake, or under shelter of a wall, we could not think of submitting our delicate companion to the trials of a night in the open air, during an exceedingly inclement season. With some hesitation and great alarm, he procured a lodging for us at a farmer’s house in the neighbourhood. We saw him next morning, and his most earnest injunction was that we should leave the locality, which, according to him, was altogether unsafe. To escape arrest there for twelve hours was, he said, impossible. Similar advice was pressed on us afterwards in many a safer asylum; but we learned to mock at others’ fears, whereas, on this occasion, we yielded to an impression we felt to be sincere.
Before venturing nearer to Dungarvan, we determined to bespeak the services of another clergyman, who lived a distance of six or seven miles in the direction of Waterford. A ridge of the Comeraghs lay between us and his lonely dwelling. Along this ridge lay a winding bridle-road, skirted by patches of green sward, and occasionally crossed by a sparkling mountain rill. Above us, on the hill-side, was a considerable bog, where crowds of country people were collecting to their daily toil. A merry laugh or boisterous joke occasionally rang clear in the morning air. The mirth went heavily to our hearts. The snatch of song, the unrestrained laugh, the merry glee, broke upon the ear of the wayfarers like the mocking of demons. The consciousness that they then sped, without a beacon or a guide, over the flinty path of flight, to end perhaps at the gibbet, imparted to the voice of mirth the sound of ingratitude. However, the day was brilliant; above us the clear, blue, unfathomable sky; around us the bracing mountain air, laden with the breath of hare-bell and heather, and far below the calm sea, sleeping in the morning light; and weariness, hunger and apprehension yielded to the influence of the scene. Many a time, ere passed the sunny noon, did we sit down to enjoy the glad prospect, unconscious, for a moment, of the fate that tracked our footsteps. At length we descended the eastern slope of the hill; and after proceeding some distance, through cornfields and meadows, we reached the mansion of the clergyman, wayworn and half-famished. He, whom we sought, had won a character for truth, manliness and courage, and we calculated upon his unrestrained sympathies, if not generous hospitality. He was absent from his house, which is situate in a lonely gorge of the Comeraghs.
We waited his arrival for more than an hour, and, through delicacy for his position, we remained concealed in a grove some distance from the door. He at length appeared, and I proceeded alone to meet him and make known my name. He started involuntarily and retreated a few paces from me. After repeating my name for a few seconds, he said, “Surely you are not so unmanly as to compromise me?” I replied, that so sensible was I of the danger of committing him, that I refused to enter his house, though we all, and particularly my female companion, sadly needed rest and shelter. After some time, he began to pace up and down in front of his door, repeating at every turn that it was indiscreet and dishonourable to compromise him. Among the many trials to which fate had doomed me, through hours of gloom, of peril and disaster, and even during reveries of still darker chances, which fear or fancy often evoked, I never felt a pang so keen as that which those unfeeling words sent through my heart. For a while I was unable to articulate, but at length I said: “You are one of those who urged us to this fate. You gave us every assurance that, in any crisis, you would be at our side. We made the desperate trial which you recommended. We have failed, because we were abandoned by those who were foremost in urging us on; and even now—here, where God alone sees us—you meet with reproaches one who has sacrificed his all on earth in a cause you pretended to bless. Is not that fate worse than defeat—than flight—than death?” “Tis a sad fate, no doubt,” said he. My object, I said, was to escape to France, and I called on him, believing he could assist me, as he must be acquainted with the boatmen around that part of the coast. He answered it was possible he could, but not then; asked how he could communicate with me; pointed to a shorter route across the mountains than that by which we had descended, and turned in to his dinner, which was just announced.
We faced towards the mountain, hungry and exhausted, without being asked to taste food or drink. It need not be detailed how sore at heart we felt as we recommenced our dreary journey. It was already evening. Censer masses of fog had gathered on the hill, and lurid streaks spreading far out on the sea, portended a night of storm and gloom. However, we had no resource but to regain the house where we had slept two nights before, which we supposed might be distant about seven miles; and by gaining the summit of the hill before dark, we hoped to make our way easily down the other side. To obtain some food, of whatever kind, was an indispensable preliminary. The house nearest to the mountain appeared to be that of a comfortable farmer. We entered it trembling, and found our expectations not disappointed. But the housewife peremptorily refused our first request, evidently suspecting there was something wrong, and unable to reconcile our appearance with the idea of hunger or distress. She bestowed a peculiarly sinister scrutiny on my poor sister.
After some parley, we said we should have something to eat, either for love or money, and while saying so, we began to examine the locks of our pistols. Either admonished by these stern intercessors, or by a look of compassion from her beautiful daughter, who stood at some distance, she replied we should have what we asked for, but only for love. Her daughters, of whom there were two, busied themselves in producing new barley bread and skimmed milk, of which we partook immoderately. We parted on better terms, and my friend Stephens was greeted with a smile from each of the lovely girls, which so influenced him that he insisted upon revealing our character and asking their hospitality for the night. After a good deal of discussion it was agreed he should make the experiment alone. He returned and produced the military cap which he always wore inside his shirt. This at once produced the desired effect, and one of the young girls came bounding up the hill to invite us to return. It was arranged, however, that we should remain on a hay-loft until quite dusk, which we gladly agreed to. The host entered with us, and stayed until we were admitted to the dwelling-house. To me, at least, that hay-loft imparted a sense of unutterable enjoyment. I was there enabled to support the drooping head of my sister, as overcharged with weariness and pain of mind, she sank into unconscious sleep.
As night fell, we were introduced into a comfortable parlour. There we had tea and eggs, with some punch. The family felt the warmest interest in us; but at the same time they occasionally manifested evident alarm. The utmost precaution was observed so as to prevent our being noticed, and we only retired to bed when the hour of midnight had struck, and the house was sunk in silence and solitude. During all that night the storm roared pitilessly and the rain fell heavily. Had it surprised us on the bleak hill, our wandering had that night ended, and the ravens of Cumshinane had feasted on our flesh. Next day the storm did not cease to howl nor the rain to sweep on the angry winds. About five o’clock, during a brief pause of the rain, preparations were made which significantly intimated that we were expected to leave.
Our host was well acquainted with the fishermen of Dungarvan and he solemnly warned us against treating with any of them. Betrayal, he said, would be certain. But he promised to accompany my sister next day to the town, where he would make every inquiry; and if he failed, as he anticipated, would see her away on the car; in which case we were to try another and a far remote sea-board. A certain newspaper of high Liberal character, affected to bestow upon us intense consideration and deep compassion. It had a guard of mobile reporters, some of whom contrived to be everywhere and hear everything—especially what did not occur. One of them, with a keener scent than his fellows, discovered my sister’s track—made himself familiar with her person and apparel—and announced her movements with a mournful accuracy. He conjectured, not unjustly, that my haunts must be near the scene of her wanderings. Completely absorbed by the one idea of gratifying the curiosity of his readers, he seemed indifferent to the conclusion, which, to a mind less engaged, would appear palpable, and inevitable—namely, that what was information to our anxious friends would equally serve the purpose of our watchful pursuers.
It became, therefore, dangerous to have her continue any longer with or near us. A hasty dinner was prepared, and we arranged to meet our host next day within a mile of Dungarvan. Never did parting look more like a last one than mine with my sister, on that occasion. For some time I thought she would be the first victim of our hard destiny. She seemed incapable of withstanding the agony that shook her frame. While sharing in the hardships and the hazards of my struggle for life, her heart, sustained by its own deep enthusiasm, triumphed over every obstacle. But she was returning to a house of mourning and of woe, where life would be one blank of desolation and stupor, to be wakened to bitter consciousness by intelligence of our doom. The sense of my responsibility, the full appreciation of the living death which, through my agency, had fallen upon a home as hallowed as ever love and joy consecrated to happiness, had burned up my eyeballs and my brain. I went forth into the recommencing storm, utterly unconscious of its rage and equally indifferent to fate. My comrade, who had no life to lose but his own, and who of that was recklessly prodigal, provided he could dispose of it to good account, stepped blithely along and uttered no complaint, although he left behind him traces marked with blood.
His terrible indifference soon restored my self-possession, and we found shelter for the night in a house near the spot designated for the next day’s interview. Just as we arrived there, the chief magistrate and police had completed a search of the house. We entered as they retired, told who we were, and claimed hospitality, which we readily obtained. The night passed as many a similar one did afterwards. Let our hardships bewhat they might during the day, we invariably enjoyed ourselves at night, and went to bed without a fear. On the following morning we sent our hostess into the town for shoes and other matters which were indispensable to our further progress. She returned, evidently alarmed to death, having read on the walls the viceregal threats against all who harboured the “traitors.” She scarcely allowed us to remain until the time appointed for the interview, which was of short duration. We were informed that there was no hope from that quarter, and that our safety for one hour was extremely precarious. This intelligence and a copy of the World newspaper, completed the information communicated by our former host.
Having laughed heartily over the World, and no less heartily at the alarm of our host and hostess, we set out on our long journey, about four o’clock in the evening, under very heavy rain. Our first effort was at the publichouse, already mentioned, where we again failed. We had some bread and punch, while drying our clothes at the fire. My comrade became very ill; but even this did not overcome the obstinate repugnance of the hostess to receive us. We were compelled to leave at about nine o’clock; and having travelled some miles, ‘midst cold and rain, my comrade shivering from fever and suffering, we determined to sleep in freshly-saved hay. While making ourselves a resting-place in the hay, we were surprised by some countrymen, who recognised us as the persons who dined on a former evening, but were coldly received and rudely expelled. Upon consulting with the women, who had seen us, they conjectured we were some of the fugitives, and followed for the purpose of inviting us to the hospitalities of their home. We accepted the offer gladly, and were received by our friends of the former evening with the warmest welcome. The principal apartment contained two beds, one of which was usually occupied by the man and his wife, and the other by their grown daughters. They gave both up to us, treated us most kindly, and the whole family, men, women and children, watched over our sleep until morning. The eldest son displayed considerable information and still greater energy of character.
He evinced the deepest interest in our fate, and accompanied us for several miles next morning. It was Sunday; the cold and wet of the previous evening had given way to calm and sunshine; and we made rapid way along the slopes of the Comeraghs—thence to the Knockmeldown mountains, having one main object in view—to place the greatest distance possible between where we were to rest that night and where we had last slept. The greatest difficulty we experienced was in passing deep ravines. The steep ascent and descent were usually wooded and covered with furze and briars. Far below gurgled a rapid and swollen mountain stream, which we crossed without undressing, and always experienced the greatest relief from the cold running water. But toiling our upward way, through trees and thorny shrubs, was excessively fatiguing. About three o’clock in the evening we reached the picturesque grounds of Mountmellary Abbey. We had then travelled thirty miles of mountain without any refreshments. The well-known hospitality of the good brothers was a great temptation to men in our situation, pressed by toil and hunger. But we felt that we possibly might compromise the Abbot and the brethren, and determined on not making ourselves known. We entered the beautiful chapel of the Abbey, and ascended the gallery while vespers were sung. We were alone on the gallery, and had an opportunity of changing our stockings and wiping the blood from our feet. We remained upwards of an hour, and then set out, but little refreshed. We hoped to find refreshments in a small publichouse, on the road leading from Clogheen to Lismore. I entered the house rather hurriedly, and the first object that met my view was a policeman. I turned quickly round and disappeared.
The rapidity of my movement attracted his attention, and, calling to his comrades and some countrymen who were in the house, they commenced a pursuit. At first they appeared little concerned, but walked quickly. We accordingly quickened our pace, and they, in turn, began to run, when it became a regular chase, which continued four miles, until we disappeared in the blue mists of the Mitchelstown mountains, as night was falling around us. When we saw our pursuers retiring, we ventured to descend, and entered a cabin where we found a few cold half-formed new potatoes and some sour milk which we ravenously devoured. I do not remember ever enjoying a dinner as I did this. My comrade, who had suffered much from illness, was unable to eat with the same relish. It was night when we finished our repast, and we set off in search of some place to lay our heads.
We met several refusals, and succeeded, with great difficulty at last, in a very poor cabin. We saw a lone hen on a cross-beam, which we proposed to purchase, and bought at last for two shillings. In less than an hour she was disposed of; and, as was invariably the case, we got the only bed in the house, where we slept a long and dreamless sleep. It rained incessantly the next day, and we were forced repeatedly to take shelter in cabins by the wayside. But, being excessively anxious to get as far as possible beyond the circle enclosed by our foes, we descended several miles along the Kilworth mountains. Towards the close of evening we crossed the River Funcheon, near Kilworth, by means of a fir-tree, the roots of which had been undermined by the rapid flood. We had spent the whole day in wet clothes. We mounted this tree, Indian-like, in the midst of rain, and dropped in the shallow part of the river from the branches. We were unable to procure lodgings afterwards until nearly eleven o’clock, and then not without difficulty. We succeeded, at length, within about a quarter of a mile of Kilworth, whence we were able to procure bread, tea and beefsteaks. We were very kindly treated, and next day accompanied to the Blackwater, at Castle Hyde, by the eldest brother of the family.
I shall not easily forget the delicacy with which this young man requested, if we thought it compatible with our safety, to tell him our names. There are few requests which either of us would feel greater reluctance in refusing. He saw our evident struggle, and said he would be satisfied with a promise that when our fate would be decided one way or the other, we would write to him; a promise which I redeemed the day after I reached Paris.
This day I think, August the 20th, we travelled over forty miles, along bog and mountain, passed within a few miles of the city of Cork, and then, taking a north-western direction, proceeded to the village of Blarney; where we slept on a loft with a number of carmen who were on their way to Cork with corn.
It is known to most people, at all familiar with the traditions of Ireland, that this village is one of her most classic spots. There is deposited the celebrated Blarney stone, a touch of which imparts to the tongue of the pilgrim the gift of persuasion. So famous has this stone become, not only in Ireland but in England, that the most plausible fluency is characterised by its name, which at once confers on such oratory the stamp of unapproachable eloquence. It must be confessed, however, that in many instances “Blarney” conveys doubts of the speaker’s sincerity, as well as admiration for his capacity. To see this talisman would be with me, on another occasion, an object of deep anxiety and most eager curiosity. But I was compelled to forego the pleasure, by the fact that a police-barrack loomed in its immediate vicinity, and at the other side was posted a proclamation offering a reward for my person. We could scarcely sleep, owing to the noise and bustle of the carmen, as they came and went, and loudly snored in various parts of our dormitory. But we were allowed to rest until seven in the morning, when we took a hasty breakfast and departed. It was a point with us never to walk along a road, and never to ask our way. We were now travelling through an open corn country, and our progress was accordingly slow.
We felt, too, the necessity of not departing far from our intended route, and accordingly we called in occasionally to national schools to make the necessary observations on the maps. Sometimes we examined the children, and sometimes the master; generally one of us was so employed while the other was noting down carelessly on the map the points of observation to direct our path. We crossed the Lee undressed, near the village of “Cross,” and slept soundly in a churchyard on a neighbouring hill the name of which has passed from my memory. We then directed our footsteps to a small village called Crookstown, situated in a romantic spot on a branch of the Lee. We experienced much difficulty, and narrowly escaped detection, in entering this village, which is surrounded by beautiful country seats, through the grounds of some of which we were obliged to grope our way. We obtained lodgings, after one or two fruitless trials, in a very comfortable house kept by a farmer. The young family seemed to be rather tastefully educated, and we soon became fast friends. We passed as whimsical tourists, and delighted our entertainers with glowing accounts of the scenery of Connemara, Wicklow and Kerry. We remained with them two nights, on pretence of being engaged in sketching the enchanting views in the neighbourhood; and left, promising, that if we returned by the same road, we would delay a week. Our destination was Dunmanway, near which a friend of mine lived, in whose house I hoped we might remain concealed, while means of escape would be procured somewhere among the western headlands. A short journey brought us to this house.
My friend was absent, but daughters of his, whom I had not seen since childhood, recognised and welcomed us. We had then travelled 150 miles, and fancied that, as no one could think of our making such a journey without walking one half-mile of road, we would be safe there for many days. In this we were disappointed. It was communicated to us next morning early that our persons were recognised, and that half the inhabitants of Dunmanway were by that time aware of our whereabouts. It was added, that the people were venal and treacherous; a character which the inhabitants of that region of Cork invariably attribute to each other. We remained a second and most of a third day, notwithstanding, and enjoyed ourselves heartily, although our little festivities had all the air of a wake. We set out at length on the evening of the third day, having made one glorious friend, whose exertions afterwards tended mainly to secure my escape. We had expected letters from home before we reached Dunmanway, and received them there on the day after. They contained the concentrated and compressed agony of weeks, but no word of complaint or regret. They also confirmed the intelligence which we had heard ere we set out, namely, that all our comrades were arrested, except Dillon, O’Gorman, and a few others, of whose fate we remained uncertain. Certain friends of the family undertook to communicate with clergymen, near the seashore, who were supposed to be in a position to facilitate our escape, while we proposed to visit Gougane Barra and Ceimeneagh, and, if practicable, Killarney, before we returned to learn the success of their applications. We followed the stream that passes Dunmanway for several miles through an almost inaccessible valley, until we reached the southwestern base of Shehigh, the highest mountain in the range which stretches between Mallow and Cape Clear.
Here we purchased some good new potatoes, butter, eggs and milk, on which we dined satisfactorily. We then faced the mountain which we crossed near the summit, being desirous to gain Gougane Barra by the shortest possible route. A steep ascent gives the traveller fresh impulses and an irrepressible desire to bound down at the other side. It seems to spring from that principle of action and reaction pervading all nature. At the northern base of Shehigh, after traversing some miles of bog, we found ourselves entering the pass of Ceimenagh. Though that Pass had been recently immortalised in the unequalled verses of Denis Florence M’Carthy, and I had learned to love a spot where echoes of minstrelsy so soft and passionate had found a “local habitation,” I was ignorant of its locality and entirely unprepared for the surpassing grandeur of the scene, which, in the full blaze of a harvest moon burst upon my view. My comrade was even more startled than I, and we paused at every turn of that enchanting passage to gaze upon the masses of rock projecting over our heads hundreds of feet in the air, and casting their dark rude outlines upon the clear autumn sky. The pass is a mile long, while in no one spot can many yards’ distance be seen on either side.
The road seems to lose itself every moment in the bowels of the mountain, but as you proceed, you find a new avenue of escape, and a more fantastic group of impending rocks of a yet more entrancing beauty than that you had left behind. In such a scene one could have no feeling of weariness and no sense of fear. Neither could he doubt man’s truth any more than God’s omnipotence. We lingered in the solitude and drank the moonbeams as they strayed through disjointed rocks and fell silvery and glowing on our path. Our reverie ended in a mistake, for we unconsciously passed the point where we should turn to Gougane Barra, then the scene of a ceremony, half religious, half superstitious, as it has been during the autumn season from time immemorial. People come great distances to perform “stations” on the ruins of a very ancient church on poor Callanan’s “green little island.”
We were advised against returning, but told to seek shelter in a publichouse at a place called Ballingeary, on the banks of Lough Lua through which the infant Lee runs. We found the house quite full, in consequence of a fair which was to be held the Monday following at Bantry. We were accordingly refused; but we insisted on remaining in the house. We had some milk and whisky, in which we asked the host to join us, and after one or two potations, he and his wife offered to give us their own bed and remain up. We thankfully and gladly accepted the offer. I know not whether they recognised us, and if not, it is not easy to account for the generous kindness that prompted such a sacrifice. The next day being Sunday, we proposed to spend it wandering about the lovely lake in the bosom of the hill, and to return in the evening to dinner. The day was an anxious one; but we left no spot on the island or near the lake which we did not explore.
The “Green Little Island,” is surpassingly romantic. The old ruin of a monastery, God knows how old, gigantic forest trees, bowing their aged limbs into the clear water, the shadows of the frowning mountain thrown fantastically on the bosom of the lake, form a tout ensemble of lonely loveliness rarely equalled. Then the play of
the scream of the eagle on the crags of Mailoc, far, far on high, all justify Callanan’s preference for the spot which was meetest for the bard. We endeavoured to recall his tender strains, and thought mournfully of his sad prophecy—alas! when shall it be fulfilled?
When Erin awakes and her fetters are broken
Some minstrel shall come in the summer’s eve gleaming,
When Freedom’s young light on his spirit is beaming,
And bend o’er my grave with a tear of emotion,
Where calm Avonbui seeks the kisses of ocean,
Or plant a wild wreath from the banks of that river,
O’er the heart and the harp that are sleeping for ever.
We saw at a short distance, the pass which so enraptured us the night before, but we resisted the temptation to revisit it, lest the glare of light might disenchant us of those sublime impressions of beauty it had made on our minds.
We found a most comfortable dinner on our arrival, for which we could not account. In the course of the evening we learned casually from our host that he had spent several years of his life where it was impossible he should not have seen and known me. This was a disturbing conviction wherewith to retire to rest, but we trusted to our propitious stars, in which we had begun to feel a superstitious confidence. We were not disappointed then or afterwards, and next morning we slept in unquestioning security. We rose late and reluctantly, and left a scene where we enjoyed more undisturbed rest and real comfort than had fallen to our lot for weeks before. The day became dark and showery. Crossing the bogs in the recesses of Shehigh, we were overtaken by a storm, from which we took shelter in some hay gathered on the bleak moor, where I wrote the following:—
Hurrah for the felon’s doom!
Hurrah for the last death-strife!
Hurrah for an exile’s tomb!
Come life or death, ’tis still the same,
So we preserve our stainless name
From losel of the coward’s shame.
Hurrah for the mountain side!
Hurrah for the bivouac!
Hurrah for the heaving tide!
If rocking the felon’s track.
If served by th’ ungrudging hand,
Hurrah for the hearts of steel,
Still true to this fallen land!
Still true, though every hazard brings
Some new disaster on its wings,
Which o’er her last faint hope it flings.
Hurrah; though the brave be low!
Hurrah; though a villain doom!
The true to the headsman’s blow.
As long as one life-throb remain,
We’ll spurn the tyrant’s gyve and chain
On gallows-tree or bloody plain.
Which like a prophetic star,
Illumined the long, lone night
Of the wanderers from afar.
Give us for resting-place the rath,
Give us to brave the foeman’s wrath,
So that dear smile be o’er our path.
Hurrah for the mountain side!
Hurrah for the bivouac!
Hurrah for the heaving tide!
If rocking the felon’s track.
Being apprehensive that our former retreat near Dunmanway was discovered, and that we would be looked for there, we determined to try another district, from which we might be able to communicate with her who had evinced such sympathy for us. We sought the house of a friend of hers, but found him so terrified that we could not think of forcing ourselves on his hospitality. He promised, however, to call on her and learn if she had any letters or other information for us. On our return, next day, he was somewhat reassured. He brought us a note from her, and letters from home. My comrade’s was a sad, sad blow. Where he had most trusted on earth, his application had been coldly received, and his most unlimited confidence utterly disappointed. Money was forwarded to him from other sources; but the spirit that braved every disaster up to that, broke under disappointed affection and blighted love. For some time he refused to take another step, but yielding himself up to the agony of shattered feelings, he ardently desired to abandon a struggle involving nothing but the life he no longer desired to save.
From my knowledge of the country, and other resources, he regarded my chances of escape as favourable, and his own presence as an impediment and a check. He was therefore anxious to relieve me of a burden, at the same time that he would free himself from a weight still more intolerable. In that he was mistaken. His imperturbable equanimity, and ever daring hope, had sustained me in moments of perplexity and alarm when no other resource could have availed. During the whole time which we spent, as it were, in the shadow of the gibbet, his courage never faltered, and his temper never once ruffled. The arrival of our enthusiastic friend, who had stolen to see us, revived his spirits, and her persuasions reassured his resolution. We drove for some time in her car, and after nightfall returned to the house where we had slept on the previous night. A practice which prevailed in that part of the county Cork greatly facilitated our efforts. It was this: in the vicinity of the great routes of travel, the farmers are in the habit of giving lodgings for payment, the amount of which generally depends on the traveller’s ability to pay.
As our means, for purposes of at least this kind were not stinted, we were sure of welcome a second time. But this fact had a tendency to frustrate our aim in another point of view; for it always excited curiosity, so that it was doubtful whether we would not be safer with persons who would provide for us at the cost of their last morsel, by confiding to them who and what we were. But in this district of Cork, the centre of which is the notorious town of Bandon, were scattered several families of Orangemen, who were intensely inimical to the cause and people of Ireland. In this very instance we lodged with one of those families. A letter that I tore near the house was picked up, put together, and read, so as to lead to suspicion, which was immediately communicated to the magistrate. This caused the most vigilant surveillance to be exercised over the homes and persons of our friends. But before the discovery was made we were far beyond the reach of our pursuers. We had learned that the efforts made for our escape were unsuccessful, and that time would be required to effect anything, so as not to arouse the suspicion of those who guarded the coast; and we agreed to conceal ourselves as best we could in some distant part of the country, for three weeks, and then return or communicate with our friend, who promised, meantime, to leave no effort untried on our behalf. A second time, we set out by the same route. When we found ourselves on a hill-top, far from human haunts, we sat down as was our wont, to consider our future course.
We determined to visit some obscure watering-place in the vicinity of Cape Clear. With that view we skirted the picturesque mountains that surround Dunmanway. These mountains present features to which the eye of one living in the inland country is little accustomed. The mountains of the midland and eastern counties are generally enormous clumps with little inequality of surface, and covered over with heath and weeds. Here, on the contrary, the mountains seemed to be carved out into the most fantastic shapes, covered with white granite stones, whose reflections in the watery surface gave the scene an appearance of singular beauty. However strange it may appear, we lingered over these picturesque scenes in intense delight; the more so because there seemed no limit to our journey, and no definite aim to which our efforts led. And a mountain-top has always an assurance of safety stamped upon it. There we could indulge our admiration for the beautiful; there we could snatch an hour of fearless and unbroken sleep.
But elements of danger began to lower over our loved haunts. The grouse season had just set in, and occasionally the report of a musket broke our reverie, or startled our deepest sleep. Yet, even from this cup of bitterness did we derive some sparkles of happiness. We could easily avoid the sportsman’s eye; and when we wanted anything from the lower regions, the vicinity of the mountains, and the business of the fowler, accounted for our presence and our wants, and readily gained us a supply. But the potato crop had failed, and the disease had already destroyed all the tubers which had approached maturity. This rendered it necessary to look to other resources, and we contrived to procure bread and sometimes meat, which we were able to get prepared easily under pretence of being catering for shooting parties.
On the first day we made this experiment, we found ourselves descending into that dreary plain that stretches out to the doomed district of Skibbereen. Under cover of night we sought to penetrate this desolate region in the remotest direction of the sea, where we hoped we might remain unnoticed as country bathers. We obtained shelter at a small farmers, and made a great many inquiries concerning the neighbouring watering-places, whither we said we were going for the benefit of our health. There were two young girls, the confidence of one of whom my comrade contrived to win during the evening. She told him that her sister had a courtship with the sergeant of police, who usually visited there every day. This hastened our departure next morning. We set out in the grey dawn, and once again reascended the mountain, to rest and take thought. The communication of the young girl; the sister’s long delay, when she went to procure refreshments at the village, where the police-sergeant was stationed; the father’s pursuits, and other circumstances, induced us to believe that to follow the plan which, to a certain extent, we had unfolded, would be dangerous. We therefore determined to change our course. We were then about fifteen miles south-southwest of Dunmanway. Adhering to our resolution of settling for a few weeks in some village on the seaside, we purposed to substitute the Kerry side of Bantry Bay for the district we had at first fixed on. The distance was about fifty miles, and we had to cross a plain several miles wide. We swept over this plain with a rapidity that taxed severely our exhausted energies, and lay down to sleep on the first patch of heath we gained on the Bantry mountains.
We bathed our feet in a mountain stream, and having partaken of a slight meal, resumed our weary journey. Night fell on us in the midst of a desolate bog on a mountain top. We travelled several miles in search of shelter, first in cabins and next in haycocks. It was a dark, gloomy and threatening night. After lying for some time on the roadside, where alone a dry spot was to be found, I forced Stephens to consent to make a trial of the town of Bantry, then a mile distant. The darkness and gloom were favourable to the experiment. We entered the town, and traversed one or two streets, we knew not in what direction. On inquiring for a lodging-house, we were directed to the house of Mrs. Barry, who kept a large grocery establishment. We found accommodation and comfort. Next day, having made some small purchases through the agency of the servant, and posted some letters, we deliberately walked out of Bantry, by the road which seemed to lead the most directly to the country. The day was miserable, and we found our journey through the mountains, which overhang the beautiful bay, very unpleasant. We determined to reach a place called the Priest’s Leap, which is consecrated by a holy tradition in the estimation of the people. They tell that in the times of persecution a priest was set and sold in these fastnesses. Having discovered that he was betrayed, he effected his escape through a circle of enclosing pursuers, which it was deemed impossible to break through; the country people believed that he floated invisibly through the air, and alighted on the deck of a Spanish frigate then coasting these shores.
An impenetrable fog descended the mountain, and the rain deepened into a torrent. Moored in the bay were two war-steamers, with screw propellers; but they had all their sails unfurled, and swung uneasily to and fro. We, who were ignorant of their character, frequently paused to regard them, utterly unable to account for their extraordinary movements. Believing them American packets, which had put in through stress of weather, we would have given worlds even for an opportunity of swimming to them through the waters of the bay. But the coast was strictly guarded by police and revenue officers. Notwithstanding this the vessels had for us an irresistible attraction, and we entered a mountain cabin, where we learned their real character. A second attempt to reach the Priest’s Leap, of whose exact bearing we were ignorant, involved us in deeper mist and a heavier shower, from which we took shelter in a wretched hut, directly over the bay, and within about one mile of an hotel of great fame, frequented by travellers who are attracted to these districts to view the magnificent bay and the singular beauty of Glengarriff. Here we spent the remainder of the day. Eggs and potatoes were provided for us; and when, as evening approached, we prepared to depart to the hotel, the woman pressed us to remain, and produced clean sheets, telling us they would give up their bed, and adding that she would be satisfied with the fifth of what we should pay in the hotel, where, she slyly hinted, our reception would be very doubtful in our then trim. We readily consented to her arrangement; and it was further agreed that her husband should go to the hotel and provide some bacon, bread, tea, and whisky.
We had not, during our wanderings, met two such characters as this man and woman, nor had we taken shelter in so extraordinary an abode. They had a single child, a girl about four years of age, whose dark eyes and compressed lip Akkad evidenced the presence of those terrible passions which had burned deep channels along the brow and cheek of her mother. The cabin was ten feet square, with no window and no chimney. The floor, except where the bed was propped in a corner, was composed of a sloping mountain rock, somewhat polished by human feet and the constant tread of sheep, which were always shut up with the inmates at night. The fire, which could be said to burn and smoke, but not to light, consisted of heath sods, dug fresh from the mountain. A splinter of bog-wood, lurid through the smoke, supplied us with light for our nightly meal. The tea was drawn in a broken pot, and drunk from wooden vessels, while the sheep chewed the cud in calm and happy indifference. They were about twelve in number, and occupied the whole space of the cabin between the bed and the fire-place.
In that singular picture, the figure of the woman stood out bold, prominent and alone, absorbing, in its originality, every character of the entire. Neither she nor her husband could be said to wear any dress. Neither wore shoes or stockings, or any covering whatever on the head; shreds of flannel, which might once have borne the shape of drawers, a tattered shirt of unbleached linen, with an old blanket drawn uncouthly around his waist and shoulders, completed the costume of the man. His wife’s was equally scant and rude, but so arranged as to present the idea that even in her breast the sense of fitness, the last feeling of froward womanhood, was not quite extinguished. The squalid rags and matted hair, by a single touch of the hand, a gesture, or a shake of the head, assumed such shape as she fancied would display to greatest advantage what remained of a coarse and masculine beauty.
The consciousness that she once possessed such beauty fired at once her heart and eye. Her foot and ankle, which had been rudely tested by flinty rocks and many a winter’s frost, were faultless; her step was firm; her form erect and tall; her hair black as ebony; her features coarse, but regular; her brow lofty, but furrowed and wrinkled; and her terrible eyes dilated with pride, passion and disdain. Her lip’s slight curl, or a shade of crimson suddenly suffusing her dark complexion, bespoke her feelings towards her husband. He was her drudge, her slave, her horror and her convenience. Her ruling idea was a wish to have it understood that the match was ill-assorted and compelled by necessity; though the last idea bespoke a youth of shame. The child alone was dressed, and with some care, as if she wished to assert its claim to a superior paternity or better destiny. Among the predominant passions which swayed her, avarice seemed uppermost; and she scowled ominously on her stupid husband, whose rigid impassable stolidity seemed impervious to all prospects and chances of pleasure and of gain.
The rain continued to pour without abatement during the whole night and until sunset the succeeding day. The next night passed nearly in the same way as the first, save that I could not rest from a vague sense of apprehension with which this woman inspired me. Both the people of the house slept on the hearth-stone, without any bed, or, as far as I know, any covering, save their rags. I had an opportunity of overhearing their connubial colloquy, which was in Irish, and had reference solely to conjectures respecting us, our character, our object and our money. It convinced me that our safety would be compromised by any longer delay. During the pauses of their conversation, I endeavoured to string together a rough draft of the stanzas that follow, or a considerable part of them. I give them here, with the accompanying notes, as they were published in the People newspaper. In the notes or in the text, there is nothing I wish to alter.
Yet came, mo stór, in vain,
And left thee but the wailing hum
Of sorrow and of pain.
My light of life, my lonely love,
Thy portion sure must be,
Man’s scorn below, God’s wrath above
A Chuisle geal mo chroidhe.
‘Twas hoped from thee by all,
That, with one gallant sunward bound,
Thou’dst burst long ages thrall.
Thy faith was tried, alas! and those
Who perilled all for thee,
Were cursed, and branded as thy foes;
A Chuisle geal mo chroidhe.
That even the trusted few
Should pay thee back with hate and guile,
When most they should be true?
‘Twas not thy strength or spirit failed;
And those that bleed for thee,
And love thee truly, have not quailed;
A Chuisle geal mo chroidhe.
And manhood’s waning years;
I’ve blest thee in thy sunniest time,
And shed with thee my tears;
And mother, though thou’st cast away
The child who’d die for thee,
My latest accents still shall pray
For Chuisle geal mo chroidhe.
And slept within the brake,
More lonely than the swan that glides
O’er Lua’s fairy lake.
The rich have spurned me from their door,
Because I’d set thee free;
Yet do I love thee more and more,
A Chuisle geal mo chroidhe.
I was awakened next morning by a strange voice, with an accent, as I thought, different from that which we had been accustomed to. Our immediate conclusion was that we were betrayed. But a short time convinced us that our visitor had come to warn us that if we remained many hours where we were, our fate would be sealed. He represented “Finey” (as our hostess was familiarly called, in derision of her affected pride) in colours not very flattering to her virtue. He said he could positively furnish us with the means of escape; described his resources as unlimited, and his interest in us as paramount to every consideration he had on earth. He was an ecclesiastical student, and had left college to take part in the struggle of his country. He bitterly lamented that Dillon and O’Gorman were not in the way, that he might have the happiness of assisting in saving them also. Agreeably to his advice, we left our den and proceeded up the mountain. It was Sunday morning, and there was not a cloud darkening the azure sky. Below us slept the waters of the bay, reflecting, in their crystal depths, the superincumbent mountains and overarching sky.
The sun rose majestically, broad, unclouded, full of effulgence, and shed his yellow beams, on a scene as lovely as ever met his burning eye. The mountains around the bay form very nearly a complete circle; the numerous peaks, from south to north, range at an average height of about 500 feet above the water’s level, while a few ascend as high as 1,000. We stood on the loftiest of all. Immediately below us, a little to the right, embosomed in the mountains, lay the unmatched beauties of Glengarriff. There are few spots on earth of wilder attractions. The hills around form a complete amphitheatre. On an island in the centre of the valley is the cottage of the noble proprietor, accessible only by one narrow pathway which winds through hillocks and passes various rivulets on rustic bridges. The grounds about the cottages are tastefully laid out in shrubberies, flower-knots, green pastures, and artificial lakes. That which constitutes the chief feature of beauty in other landscapes, namely, an extensive prospect, is wanting here. From the cottage, or any part of the grounds, you can only command a view of the limited demesne, and the craggy and bleak mountain rising almost perpendicularly from its outskirts. But the view is unique, and the contrast exquisite between the rich green of the arbutus, amidst clumps of which sparkle the impeded mountain waters, and the barren hill-sides whose blue summits seem blended with the skies giving to the scene such an air of calm serenity and soft repose as to leave the beholder almost without a wish to look beyond.
By this time we had learned to lose all consciousness of our own fate in contemplating lines of beauty such as then marked the outline and radiated through every minor detail of mountain, ocean, and cosy lawn. We dwelt on the scene with enraptured eye and heart, and scarcely felt the time glide by, which was to bring us our promised deliverer. He was with us at the appointed moment, and only preceded his sisters by about half an hour. They came, three in number, and toiled up to the summit under a hot sun, bringing each a basket with abundant and delicate provisions for a picnic. They were joined soon after by two other brothers, who kept watch while we enjoyed the delicacies of our meal, which we finished with some bottles of excellent claret. While we were thus engaged, Lord Bantry was at the cabin we had left, gnashing his teeth at the misfortune of missing such a prey.
My comrade sang the newly-composed verses and others of more exquisite melody and far higher sentiment, within less than half a mile of the frowning and fuming lord. At four o’clock we took leave of our kind entertainers, the student promising to use the coming night in efforts to secure our flight, and a younger brother undertaking to act as our guide across the mountain and round the base of the Glengarriff ridge of hills to a dark gorge, at the County Kerry side. This was a most trying journey, at least twenty miles long, over precipitous mountains, and performed, for the most part, during night. It was necessary that we should not rest until we travelled far out of range of the locality where our persons had been known and our retreat discovered. Our young guide left us with friends or dependents of his family, and returned to be in readiness to communicate any tidings from his brother. Those tidings came fast on our footsteps; but the message was to warn us that we were not even there safe; for that Lord Bantry had all his tenantry engaged in searching for us. The despatch added that, if able, we were to be at the “Priest’s Leap” at a certain hour in the evening, where we would hear the result of the efforts made for us. The tone of the letter left us nothing to hope; still we determined to test the doubtful promise to the last. Accordingly we set out for the new rendezvous.
The distance was very long unless we crossed through Glengarriff. This we determined to do, feeling satisfied that the last place we would be looked for would be his lordship’s pleasure-grounds. We paused to examine more minutely the exquisite serenity of that scene, and learned from a game-keeper several matters illustrative of our pursuer’s character, while his adherents were tracking our supposed footsteps, over moor and mountain, far away. Arrived at our destination, we had to wait several hours, during which we were amused by our guide claiming fraternity with us, on the ground of being banned by the law, in consequence of a suspicion (a false one, he averred) of having mistaken another man’s sheep for his own. He had an idea that we, too, must have infringed the law, but in whatparticular he did not concern himself to inquire. The fact sufficed for the establishment of a good understanding between us.
We at last saw our female friends approach. They brought us another excellent dinner, for which we had a still more excellent appetite. During the time we dined, they informed us that everything was proceeding as favourably as we could expect, and that they had no doubt of success. When taking leave of us, however, one of them pressed a little note into my hand, and they disappeared in the darkness. I burned to learn what the note contained. With the assistance of our new friend we found lodgings in the neighbourhood, where I read that the student failing in his enterprise, and being afraid to compromise himself further, left that very night for college. He had to consult a clergyman, a very near friend of his, and we made no doubt the present step resulted from his considerate advice.
This is written here, not for the purpose of disparaging the clergyman’s counsel or the student’s resolution. On the contrary, no doubt was then entertained of the sincerity of either, nor has there ever since been. There could be no one more disposed to make allowance for the difficult position in which both were placed, as well as all others who ventured to serve us: nor could we blame men for shrinking from peril, which at the best, presented no rational chance for us, while the effort involved those who made it in almost certain ruin. I had other opportunities of satisfying myself afterward that this clergyman, who visited us in the mountains, never relaxed in his exertions to save us.
We found ourselves next morning in an exceedingly romantic valley to the north of the “Priest’s Leap,” the property of Lord Lansdowne, where there are many comfortable farmers’ houses, and many others, whose showy exterior is sadly belied by the filth and discomfort of the inside. We spent the day with the man of the sheep, who promised to obtain lodgings for us at a publichouse, where he was refused. But during our stay there we met a farmer’s son, who took us home and travelled with us the whole of the next day. We proposed to him and his sister to accompany us to the United States, having for some time entertained seriously a project of trying our chances to escape as emigrants. He consented to be of the party, although we fully explained to him the risk of being taken in our company. He guessed from this that we were engaged in the attempted outbreak, and being sent in to the town of Kenmare to make some purchases, he could not conceal so important a secret, but sought out a friend, a true man, to whom he unburdened himself. We had appointed to meet him at a place called Cross, about two miles from Kenmare.
We were repairing thither at the appointed hour, and were met, not by our trusty messenger, but the friend to whom he had revealed his important secret. This friend, alarmed at our temerity in approaching so near the town, had come to forewarn us. His advances were met by distrust and menace, which pained him deeply. He remonstrated and referred to the fact of coming to meet us alone, when if he meant us injury he could easily secure us. Satisfied, at length, that his friendship was sincere, we consented to accompany him to meet another friend who had taken a different road in the direction of the mountain. He was known to us by character, but that knowledge, with me at least, tended to increase rather than to allay distrust. I had formed an idea of the man from reading speeches of his which appeared of an unscrupulously partisan character. I was very soon disabused, but not however until I communicated to him my feelings in his regard. The best proof of my mistake is furnished by the fact that my unnecessary frankness did not in the least check the enthusiasm with which he was prepared to risk fortune, liberty and life in our service. Our interview was short. We dismissed the ambassador who had acquired for us these new allies. They, or rather he, of whom I have last spoken offered us money which we declined. In opposition to his remonstrance, we insisted on remaining for the night at a publichouse in the village of Cross. He, to whom peril was new, could not understand our “audacity.” But we who had experienced the disadvantages of asking for entertainment in quarters where such things were unusual, preferred the chance of escaping unobserved among crowds of persons similar in appearance and, applying only for ordinary accommodation. In this and many such instances we determined aright. We obtained a comfortable bed and passed unnoticed. Next morning we set out for the southern slope of the Killarney mountains.
As soon as we attained a safe elevation, we took a western direction, skirting those mountains and crossing the road which leads from Killarney to Kenmare, about five miles from the latter town. We then kept a westerly direction, and turned round the vast bog situated at the western side of the road. This bog contains several thousand acres, and seems quite susceptible of reclamation and improvement. We ascended the steep hill at the north-western boundary where we slept for an hour or so, and then resumed our journey in the direction of the Reeks. We purposed ascending the loftiest of these mountains, and not wishing to take the route by the Gap of Dunloe, we crossed the intermediate valley and began to ascend the mountain to the north, believing it to be that which we had determined to climb. After having toiled to the summit, we discovered in the distance the peak we were in search of, its wonderful elevation leaving no manner of doubt as to its identity. Between us and its base lay another broad valley.
Before attempting the ascent, we secured a lodging at the foot, and leaving our coats behind, we began our task about four o’clock in the evening, having then travelled upwards of twenty miles and crossed two large mountains. The southern acclivity is more steep than the northern, and we lost much by our ignorance of the best routes; but we reached Carn-Tuathail, far the highest spot in Ireland, about sunset. The view that presents itself from that peak is of the most extraordinary character. Stretching out into the sea a distance of thirty miles, is a jumble of mountains tossed together in the wildest confusion, and exhibiting no definite outline. At the east, far inland, lay the long ridge of which Mangerton is the loftiest point. At the north alone could we discern an extensive view, where a rich and well cultivated valley extended along Dingle Bay as far as Ballyheige. But the grandeur of the scene Jay at our feet. Beneath us yawned at every side chasms of seemingly unfathomable depth, whose darkness it was impossible to penetrate, as the sun was sinking in the Atlantic. It was really a spectacle full of grandeur and of awe, and we remained enjoying it till the last ray of the sun ceased to glimmer on the distant waters.
At that hour, we were well assured, many a brain was busy, and many an eye set to discover our retreat. By the side of the public thoroughfares, on great bridges, and frequented cross-roads, detective vigilance kept sleepless watch, and fancied in every approaching form, the doomed victims, who were at once to satisfy the angry gallows and its own excited avarice. Equally well assured were we that the most inventive and hazardous scrutiny would never track our footsteps to the dizzy height of Carn-Tuathail. One motive with us was to baffle all calculation on the part of our pursuers. When we found we were tracked and discovered, our first care was to consider how our enemies would be likely to judge respecting our future movements. If we had reason to suspect that we were recognised on a mountain, we sought shelter in or near a town, and after we appeared in public places for a day or an hour, we kept the mountain-side for a week following.
We had, too, another, and it must needs be confessed, a more powerful motive. In either alternative which our fate presented, there was no hope of ever beholding these scenes again, and we could not omit this last opportunity of minutely examining and enjoying what was grandest and loveliest in our native land. We resolved, therefore, to leave no glorious spot unvisited, whatever toil it cost, or risk it exposed us to. Mountains, indeed, never did involve a risk, but the Lakes of Killarney, which were much frequented at the time, could not be seen without imminent danger, unless by overcoming great physical difficulties. After we descended from Carn-Tuathail, we were so utterly exhausted as to be obliged to lie down in hay, within one field of the cabin where we were to sleep, from which nothing could tempt us to stir for the night; but we were assailed by swarms of small flies of the mosquito species, that stung us to further exertion. Although the owners of the cabin gave us their only bed, and provided the best supper for us, we were so persecuted by these flies, that we were forced to quit our bed before day dawned, and endeavour to shake off our tormentors by rolling in the dew and shaking our shirts in the wind. We set out early, finding the place utterly intolerable, owing to these terrible tormentors, although we had resolved the evening before, to remain a few days fishing in the lovely lakes collected in the gorges of the reeks.
The day was misty and wet. This, we hoped, would afford us a good opportunity of seeing the lakes unobserved; for such weather would necessarily confine the tourists to their hotels. We accordingly directed our way to the Upper Lake, along ledges of rocks covered with tall wet grass, wading or swimming through outlets of the lake. We obtained a tolerable view of the Upper Lake, and minutely examined the several accesses to it through the wood on the southern side. After spending most of the fore-noon in this wood, we attempted to cross the upper neck of the lake for the purpose of skirting the base of Mangerton and gaining the summit of Turc Mountain, from which are to be seen the Middle and Lower Lake in their most varied and seductive loveliness. Few travellers ever see the lakes from this point, because it is difficult to attain; but I had been there, and knowing its superiority over every other, I wished to give my comrade a taste of the exquisite pleasure derivable from a scene of beauty unsurpassed in the world. There is no spot, in or near Killarney, from which its wonderful scenery can be seen to such advantage. On the water, at Ross Island, at Mucross or Glena, the view is confined to the scenery immediately around, with an occasional glimpse of the nearer mountains, which indeed may well satisfy the most exacting curiosity and fastidious taste, while from the summit of Mangerton (the great mountain attraction of travellers) but miniature forms of beauty present themselves, the great distance and height contracting the circle of beauty, and depriving every object of its fulness and natural proportions. From Turc mountain, on the other hand, you see the lake at your feet—all its islets, curls, cascades are within ken, entrancing your senses. Standing on that green hill, it is impossible to divest the mind of the idea, that the scene is one of pure enchantment.
But we were destined not to realise it. There was a police-station immediately on our way. In our first effort to avoid it, we found ourselves, after much trouble, within one field of the door. We then made a still wider circuit, keeping, as we thought, far clear of it; but following a valley which led round a clump of hill, we once more very nearly stepped into its back yard. To avoid similar mistakes we ventured along the public road direct towards Kenmare; but when we were clear of the police-barrack, we had to travel several miles of mountain to gain the intended spot. Our feet were all cut and bleeding, and we lay down on a rock in our wet clothes, where we slept soundly, and I suppose sweetly, until near sunset. When we awoke we were obliged, from the lateness of the hour, to abandon our project.
During our stay near Killarney, we fondly indulged the last dream for our country. In the remote regions of the counties of Cork and Kerry, the people seemed possessed of no political information. They had a vague notion that an effort was made to free the country from foreign thrall, and that the patriots and their cause were lost through the Catholic priests. It was easy to perceive, by the bitterness with which they cursed, that they—although never reached by a speech of Mr. O’Connell’s, or an article or song of the Nation’s—had cherished in their hearts the same imperishable purpose and hope of overturning the dominion of the stranger. We calculated on collecting between fifty and one hundred of the hardiest and most desperate mountaineers, whom we could easily place in ambush near the lakes, to seize on Lord John Russell, who was at the time announced as a visitor to Killarney. Once in our possession, we could have him conveyed to some inaccessible fastness where we could dictate terms to him concerning our imprisoned comrades. We had scarcely a doubt of putting our plan into execution, and our sojourn near Killarney was prolonged for the purpose of becoming more familiar with the pathways whereby to escape to the mountains with our prisoner. How success in that enterprise might have suggested or shaped a further course of aggression, it is now bootless to conjecture. The project was marred by the Premier’s abandonment of his intention.
Having appointed to meet a person this evening, near Kenmare, who was to bring us the latest papers and otherwise inform us of his lordship’s movements, we proceeded in that direction, determined to return to Killarney next day to prosecute our examination of the locality. But the current news informed us that Lord John Russell had left for Scotland.
We remained several days in the neighbourhood of Kenmare, where we had daily interviews with the friend to whom I have already alluded. He spent all his time in endeavouring to devise some means of escape, and intermediately provided resting-places for us at various distances. We had the guidance of a young country lad of fine intelligence and true fidelity, who was acquainted with every foot of bog and mountain for miles around. We spent several days rather agreeably, perambulating the ranges of hills between Kilfademore and Templenoe, embracing a district about fifteen miles square. One night we slept in an empty cabin within a field of Kilfademore House, a fine old mansion, belonging to the father of Christabel, the mountain poetess, which is now only inhabited by the tenant of the farm, while the whole available military and police force of the district were drawing their lines of circumvallation around this old house, which, as soon as they made the proper dispositions to prevent our escape, they burst into with the stealth and precipitancy of a robber band.
We were most kindly received and cared for wherever our friend or his guide bespoke a night’s hospitality. But although we unquestioningly reposed on the truth of all to whom our safety was committed, we felt the circle of our armed foes was closing and contracting around us, and it became indispensable to break through it. It was clear that our steps were tracked, for every night a search was made for us in one or other of the houses over which the influence of our friend extended. But our information respecting their arrangements was always earlier and surer than theirs concerning our movements. During this interval when, although we travelled an average of fifteen miles a day, we considered ourselves resting, we received the kindest attentions everywhere; frequently finding a rude mountain cabin furnished with excellent beds and every delicacy.
But we pined to be more at large. We had interviews with clergymen and others, who discussed various projects of escape. Among the rest, it was proposed to my comrade to accompany a lady—who was about leaving for London—in the dress and character of a servant-maid. He was well fitted for such disguise, being extremely young and having very delicate features. Besides this, he was supposed to be dead, having received a slight wound in the skirmish at Ballingarry. He obstinately refused to adopt the disguise, but consented to that of a servant boy. When the matter was finally arranged, it was proposed to us to sleep at Templenoe, on the north side of Kenmare Bay, where he was to be furnished with suitable clothes. Since the commencement, I did not feel the same sense of desolation as when these arrangements were completed, and an hour was appointed for his departure next morning. It was on the evening of the 23rd of September. We spent the day with one of the noblest of fellows.
He had beds brought far into the neighbouring mountains, where he remained with us for the night. A cloud of sadness, and I believe chagrin, enveloped all my senses. I could not help feeling myself utterly abandoned. It seemed fated that even from the most kindly efforts my unfortunate position utterly excluded me. Stephens sang as usual, and endeavoured to rally me; but my mind had set in impenetrable gloom. One idea was uppermost with me, namely, that within the circle that was then drawn around me, there was no further possible safety. We parted before daylight, and I immediately determined on my own course. It was this: to assume the disguise of a clergyman and attempt to cross to France.
The trials at Clonmel were approaching, and I concluded that they would engross the entire attention of Government, and would even require the presence of the whole corps of detectives who were acquainted with my person and were then on my track. I communicated my intention to the friend to whose hospitality I was then indebted. He combatted it with great earnestness, and could not be persuaded of its practicability. I, however, persevered, and he offered to place a horse, upon which he set great value, at my disposal. Just as we made our final arrangements and had despatched a messenger to Kenmare to provide the disguise, Stephens returned, wet, weary and hungry. He was in the worst spirits: but the case admitted of no delay.
The lady with whom he was to travel had to stay one day in Cork, and to overtake her there was the only chance left. There was only one possible way to effect this—to give him the horse and let him ride on to Cork. I at once agreed, and he immediately set off. The loss of the horse imposed on me the difficulty of a journey on foot to Cork, and this rendered the assistance of a man to carry my disguise—who would take a different route from myself—indispensable. Our friend who, in giving his favourite horse to Stephens, told him to try and sell him in Cork and put the money in his pocket, provided me with another horse and car, by which my baggage was to be brought about forty miles. Having settled all preliminaries, he conveyed me to a cabin on the hills, where he provided an excellent dinner, and left me to my musings.
They were, it may be well conceived, not of the gayest character. The responsibility and hazards of the attempt before me, narrowed the chances of my destiny to the one alternative, and I could not shake off gloomy phantoms which represented every phase of the last bloody drama which was to close the career of those who loved, too dearly, our ill-fated land. But, come what might, my purpose was definitely fixed. I spent the evening in the deepest gloom, which I endeavoured to dissipate by composing the following stanzas, suggested at the time by involuntary visions of my wife and children at the foot of the gallows:—
While she prays, in her heart, to the Ruler above,
To protect, and to guide to some happier land,
The joy of her soul and the spouse of her love:
And she marks by her pulses, so wild in their play,
The slow progress of time, as it straggles along;
And she lists to the wind, as ’tis moaning away,
And she deems it the chaunt of some funeral song.
And she strains at the whispers of every one round,
While she brushes away, half indignant, the tear,
That will gush, tho’ unbidden, at every fresh sound;
And she strives to conceal—oh! how idle the task—
The deep lines in her cheek, and the rent in her heart;
But her neighbours grow pale as they gaze on the mask,
And more lowly and slowly they talk, as they part.
And keep vigil, how wistfully, over their sleep,
As it mirrors, poor mourner, the stillness of death,
And she stirs them, and calls, for she deems it too deep;
But again does she hush them, first telling them pray,
Till at length overcharged by the tears yet unshed,
Will she sink, and as consciousness passes away,
O’er her pale furrowed cheek, see the hectic o’erspread.
Its incessant course down her fast-withering cheek,
Till the smile that made light in the glow of her face,
But the faint, fading glimpses of vigour bespeak,
And her reason will fitfully pass into night—
Into night even deeper than that of the blind,
As the shade of the gibbet-tree looms in her sight.
And she fancies a death-scream in th’ echoing wind.
In the house where I slept—as indeed in every house of the same character in the county—the whole stock of the family, consisting chiefly of cows and sheep, were locked in at night. Such was the extreme poverty of the people that they would not be otherwise safe. The weather was excessively wet, and, for the season, cold. There was a slight partition between the room where my bed was and the kitchen, where there were three cows, a man, his wife and four children. It is impossible to convey any idea of the sensations which crowd upon one in such a scene. I fell asleep at last, lulled by the heavy breathing and monotonous ruminating of the cows. Never was deeper sleep.
On being awakened next morning by my watchful friend, it required some time before I could satisfy myself of my position. An excellent breakfast was provided for me, and I parted from my stout-hearted and magnanimous ally. He had sent my baggage, and also provided me with a guide who would lead me across the mountains. He taught me the password of his clan, which I was to use on certain contingencies. The morning was fearfully wet, and we did not travel many miles before we were wet to the skin. The circumstance was the most auspicious that could occur, as it enabled us to pass unobserved.
Besides this, it facilitated the task of crossing streams, which we always did precisely as if they were dry land. One river only opposed a serious barrier to us—that, which enters Kenmare Bay. It was greatly swollen, and rushed fiercely over precipitous rocks. At the same time, even in the rain and tempest, to cross the bridge was not to be thought of. The guide pointed out a house belonging to one of our friend’s clan who immediately provided a horse and accompanied us to a ford. When we reached the ford he hesitated to cross, so deep and rapid was the flood. No persuasion could induce him to make the experiment. I had no choice left but to trust myself to chance. I faced the animal against the current, and forcing him to make his best efforts to mount the stream, we were carried directly across. The owner of the horse said he would come back of his own accord. I turned him into the stream, and when half way across, he was borne headlong over a precipice, where I concluded he was dashed to pieces.
Another horse was immediately procured, by a man who had no fears, to bring the guide across; but the latter was so terrified that he made himself drunk ere he attempted the dangerous passage. As he was essential to me in consequence of the arrangements made about my luggage, I endeavoured to rouse him. He staggered on for several miles, but seemed utterly unconscious where he was going. When I found him incapable of directing me, I endeavoured to procure some food for him, and with that view proceeded to a mountain hut, but before I reached it, he sank down utterly exhausted and powerless. He was unable even to articulate the name of the man to whose house he was directed to take me, or the locality where he lived. It was only from circumstances and a dim recollection of the name that I was able to apprise the owner of the cabin whither I was bound; and after all, much remained for the exercise of his sagacity, which was not long at fault.
We brought my old guide to the cabin, thrown across a pony, and I set out anew, guided by the dweller on the hills. He forced me to mount the pony, and led the way over the crags. He bounded from rock to rock with the agility of a deer, though the stones were sharp as flint, and he barefooted. He was a man of powerful proportions and extreme activity. My pony, on the other hand, crept his way through narrow pathways, worn by the rain. In this way we crossed two considerable mountains, and, leaving the pony at the summit of the last, I pursued my companion’s flight down the slope with the best speed my stiffened limbs could be forced to. Arriving over a valley which is called, I think, Branlieu, situated in a western direction from Gougane Barra, he pointed to a lone house at the extremity of the valley, as my destination. It was about four o’clock, but the rays of the sun had ceased to irradiate this gloomy valley, over which hung the shades of night. At the western side the mountain was steep as a wall, and down from the summit dashed headlong torrents, swelled by the morning’s rain. The waters gleamed like sheeted ice through the haze, and their roar fell upon the ear with a dull sense of loneliness and pain. On the eastern slope wound a new road, one of those heartless experiments which the inventive genius of the Board of Works in Ireland substituted for the exploded trial of prolonging beggars’ lives by Soyer soup and chained spoons. On these roads the people were to perform the greatest possible amount of work, and live on the least possible quantity of food.
But, although these operations cost much waste of blood, the roads opened no new and fruitful sources of industry in these mountain valleys, only frequented by the footsteps of thesportsman, or scanned by the eye of the votaries of pleasure. The house where I called was intended for my guide. However, I found my claim for hospitality at once recognised on pronouncing the password of my host by the sea. The cabin—it was literally such—was in the most filthy state. The dung of the cattle had not been removed for days, and half-naked children squatted in it as joyously as if they rolled on richest carpets. The housewife merely replied to my question in the affirmative. But she immediately proceeded, with the help of two little girls, to remove the filth. I was so fatigued and hungry that I could willingly postpone the process of cleaning for the sake of providing any sort of food. I was doomed to disappointment. No appearance of supper interrupted the busy operation, until the dung was removed, and the floor drained. I retired, and endeavoured to ascend the eastern hill, to a point where I could catch a glimpse of the setting sun.
On my return I found the owner of the house, a man of giant frame and noble features. His dress bespoke a taste or pursuit incompatible with the wild mountain destiny stamped upon the external aspect of his home and family. His wife spoke a few words in Irish, explaining my presence, to which he answered that I was welcome. Supper was at length prepared, when he drew from a basket a few of the finest trout I ever saw. He cleaned and fried them with his own hands, as if the operation were above the capacity of his wife, who performed the other culinary duties with silent assiduity. It might be owing to hunger, it might be owing to the actual superiority of the fish, or it might be owing to the mode of cooking, but it seemed to me as if I never tasted anything of equal flavour to those trout. The entertainment was ended with some boiled new milk, slightly curdled, a delicacy little known in the circle of fashion, but never surpassed either in that or any other.
Some fresh hay was procured and strewn on an article of furniture common in the houses of the Kerry peasantry, called a “settle.” It is a sort of a rude sofa, made of common deal timber. On this “settle” my host prepared my bed of new-mown hay, barricaded with old chairs and a table against the assaults of the hungry animals. I had not long lain down when a man entered (the door consisted of a pair of tongs, so placed as to prevent the egress of the cattle), lay at full length on the table, and fell fast asleep. In an hour or so afterwards, there came another, who groped his way over the cattle, and, sweeping the fire from the hearth, lay down to sleep in peace. This man slept uneasily, and groaned heavily, as if some terrible sense of guilt or fear pressed against his heart.
I had a vague feeling of uneasiness, not free from alarm, but the hearty snoring of the one, and the fitful complaints of the other of my bedfellows died away on my ear, and I, too, shared their unconsciousness in deep sleep. The man who brought my baggage arrived early next morning. My host soon provided a good substantial breakfast—excellent new potatoes, which had escaped the blight, butter, new milk, and a slice of the flesh of fried badger. He then proposed to accompany us with his son, aged about thirteen, who by some inexplicable privilege seemed exempt from any portion of the drudgery which was the lot of the family. The other man who brought the baggage was persuaded to leave his horse and car, and accompany us with my bundle, as far as the summit of the hill. To climb the steepest mountain side had become an amusement to me, and we ascended the one then before us, merrily, our host relating many anecdotes of sportsmanship, and detailing the startling incidents and wild rapture of badger-hunting.
From the summit we commanded a view of the country for miles around. “Here we are,” said our host, “higher than the proudest of your enemies.” He then traced the route of the man with the bundle, through the open plain, and by the nearest way; and turning to me, he said: “You must not go in the same direction, for every yard of it is set. Follow my son,” he said, and turning to the boy, he named several points in the path whereby he should conduct me. “Lead Mr. Doheny safely,” he concluded, “and remember you are the son of —-.” In utter astonishment I inquired how he knew me, and he answered by waving his hand in the direction of the boy, who had bounded off and was scarcely perceptible above the tall heath. I soon overtook him, and as we went along, I learned that my two companions during the night were also evading the law’s pursuit. One of them he described as having killed a man by accident, and ever after leading, the life of a “poor wild goose.” I made no doubt but this was he whose spirit seemed so heavily laden. We had a couple of terriers of the truest breed, whose sudden discovery of a badger interrupted our conversation and impeded our journey. The young hunter became delirious with joy. His encouraging cries to the dogs were broken outbursts of wildest rapture; and when the game took shelter in his inaccessible den, he would dash himself against the rocks with the same reckless vehemence as his dogs, who, in their rage, attempted to bite away the hard mountain stones.
He left the spot with the utmost reluctance, after venting an oath of vengeance against the head of the poor badger, to which he promised sure destruction on the occasion of their next meeting. We quickly descended in the direction of Gougane Barra, where he parted from me, indignantly refusing a half-crown which I offered him.
Once more I found myself on the slopes of Shehigh, in sight of Lough Lua. My immediate object was to place myself in communication with my lady friend at Dunmanway. I was extremely anxious to see her. I wanted to procure through her some things to complete my costume as a disguised priest, and finally I expected to learn through her some news of my family. With the view of seeing her in the safest retreat, I determined to conceal myself in a wood belonging to a Mr. O’Leary, at a place called Coolmountain. I endeavoured to gain the friendship of a man in the neighbourhood, of whom I had learned the highest character for probity. It was necessary to confide in him fully; for his fidelity to his employer might induce him to betray me, if he suspected that my flight was occasioned by moral guilt. He did not disappoint me. At once he entered into all my plans, and immediately sent his wife with a message to Dunmanway.
The distance was about six miles; and the utmost caution was necessary, for the police authorities, baffled in all their calculations, concerning my retreat, and deceived in every word of the information they were able to purchase, had determined on making simultaneous searches in all quarters of the country, so that scarcely a house remained in this vicinity that had not the honour of a domicilary visit. My friend, too, who during the past three weeks had made various attempts to see me, and had gone on to Kenmare for that purpose, was continually dogged, and arrested three or four times. On one occasion they stripped her nearly naked, searching for papers. She at once saw that to see me would be attended with danger; but she wrote a hurried note, and despatched it by another messenger, as well as a large packet of letters from home.
In these letters I was adjured to continue the disguise of a peasant in whatever attempts I made. She, too, strongly objected to my proposed plan, and communicated to me a project of escaping which was suggested by a friend of hers at Cork, whither she had gone in her anxiety. His plan was that I should proceed to Cork, that very night, and take up my residence at some obscure lodging-house, until he could find means of stowing me in a coal vessel, which would take me as far as Wales. If I agreed to this proposal, I was to be at Crookstown (already mentioned in this narrative) at six o’clock that evening, where I would meet three men who were to conduct me by a safe route to Cork.
When I received this information, it was four o’clock, and the distance to Crookstown was at least seventeen miles. The plan was one of which I could not approve; but it would be invaluable to me to have a safe asylum in Cork, for any project I might finally decide on. I accordingly communicated to my man of confidence the difficulty I found myself in, and requested he would procure a horse and car which I could drive along the high road, hoping to reach Crookstown before the promised guide would have left. He suggested the man at whose house I stopped on a former evening. Thither both of us repaired, after having completed my costume, such as is generally worn by the lowest Cork peasants—literally rags. We got the horse and car, but before the arrangements for our departure were made it was past the hour when I should be at Crookstown.
A servant boy who led the horse was my companion. When we arrived at Crookstown it was eleven o’clock, and we found no trace of the messengers. Nothing remained but to try and get on to Cork. I proposed the journey to the boy; but he resolutely refused. I affected to acquiesce, and asked him to drink something in a publichouse, which was kept open for the accommodation of carriers, of whom there are large numbers at that season of the year. He soon yielded to the influence of milk punch, and allowed me to do as I pleased. We proceeded along the great thoroughfare, having an empty butter cask in the car. We passed several patrolling parties in the road, and at grey dawn we were entering the city of Cork; the boy sleeping in the car, and the horse led by me. I paid at the custom-gate for my butter, and passed on through the city unnoticed. A few gentle taps brought the gentleman, who undertook to have me conveyed out of the country, to the door. I introduced myself; was admitted, and conducted to a bedroom, where everything was prepared for my reception. Thus I found myself in the very heart of the city of Cork, while the strictest search was made for me in every cabin on the mountains of Kerry and the western shore.
In my sojourn for two days and nights in the woods of Coolmountain, I received attentions for which it would be shameful not to express my gratitude. Although the crisis of my fate was so near at hand, I felt some hours of unalloyed pleasure in its shade. I had leisure to peruse my letters from home, so full of courage, hope and love; and to consider well the different proposals and means of escape, suggested by others and contemplated by myself. The weather had cleared up and there was a succession of brilliant harvest days. I employed my evenings in composing the following two pieces; and after nightfall I was visited by some friends, with whom I sipped delicious champagne, till a late hour, ‘neath the calm watchfulness of a brilliant harvest moon.
Eiblin a ruin,
But these were happy days,
Eiblin a ruin,
When mount and vale and grove,
Where we were wont to rove,
Were beautified by love,
Eiblin a ruin.
Eiblin a ruin.
Too fondly far to tell,
Eiblin a ruin.
I loved thee as the day,
Serener for the ray,
Thy smile shed o’er my way,
Eiblin a ruin.
Eiblin a ruin.
With clouds and gloom and blight,
Eiblin a ruin,
Yet here an outlaw lone,
My heart else, like a stone,
Is more and more thy own,
Eiblin a ruin.
Eiblin a ruin.
I share the wild dog’s den,
Eiblin a ruin,
Oppressed with woe and care,
As sleep comes o’er me there,
Methinks I hear thy prayer,
Eiblin a ruin.
Eiblin a ruin
Thy image fills my breast,
Eiblin a ruin,
And ere the vision’s fled,
My cold and flinty bed
Seems down unto my head,
Eiblin a ruin.
Eiblin a ruin,
Along the opening skies,
Eiblin a ruin,
In the soft purpling ray,
That heralds early day,
I see thy fond smile play,
Eiblin a ruin.
Eiblin a ruin,
My fate seemed sealed at last,
Eiblin a ruin.
A low voice ever near,
Still whispers in mine ear—
“For her sake do not fear”—
Eiblin a ruin,
Or why should its honours divide
The feelings that centred in thee, love,
As fondly you clung to my side;
Or why should ambition or glory,
E’er tempt me to wander so far,
For sake of distinction in story,
From thee, my heart’s faithfulest star.
To sport with the life that was thine,
Or risk for a land overthrown, love,
A stake that no longer was mine;
Or why should I pledge for the fallen
What only belonged to the free;
For had I not gauged life and all on
The faith that was plighted to thee?
Beneath the cold shadows of night,
Or lie with my head on a stone, love,
Awaiting the dawning of light,
My spirit unthralled is returning,
Where far from the coward and slave,
Her beacon of love is still burning,
To light, to direct me and save.
At Cork two families were compromised by my prolonged stay, one of them irretrievably, if I were arrested. However, they placed themselves entirely and unconditionally at my disposal. I stated my objections to the proposed conveyance of a coal boat to Wales, where I would be equally exposed as in Ireland, and have infinitely less sympathy or assistance. I suggested one of the London steamers instead, which they agreed to. After some preliminary negotiations, a person connected with one of those vessels promised to secrete me and have me landed at Southampton, where I could easily procure a passage to France. Just as this arrangement was concluded, news arrived that Tipperary was again in arms, under the command of my friend, O’Mahony. The report added that I was associated with him in command. Hour after hour brought some story stranger than that which preceded it; but in each and all I found myself figuring in some character or other, all, of course, contrary to the truth.
This fact led at once to a suspicion of the accuracy of the whole. But I was aware that caution was a leading characteristic of O’Mahony’s genius, and I felt assured he would not attempt any open movement without strong probabilities of success. The fabrications about myself I reconciled to the belief that he wished it to appear he had my sanction and support. The vessel was to sail next day, and I should determine at once, or risk the safety of the family who protected me. I endeavoured to find a middle course, and suggested the impossibility of leaving the country while even a vague report confirmed the belief that some at least of its people were prepared to vindicate her liberty, or die nobly in its assertion. They acquiesced, and the vessel was allowed to sail. I insisted, however, that after nightfall I should leave the house and take up my quarters in some obscure lodging house. Meantime it was arranged that if the next mail confirmed the accounts from Tipperary, I should be provided with a horse and car, and be able to leave Cork as I entered it. When night came, the lady of the house sternly and resolutely opposed my leaving it. She would not consent to free herself from a risk she took so much honest pleasure in encountering. Another day and night left us in the same uncertainty. The reports were still more unsatisfactory and contradictory. But that there should be reports at all, satisfied my mind, and I finally prepared to start for Tipperary on the morning of the 29th of September.
Information at length reached me that the party under O’Mahony were dispersed and himself fled. The difficulty of my position, with respect to my protectors, left me no alternative. Any chance that presented itself should be embraced. The Bristol boat was in the river, panting to escape her anchorage; and following the horse, which was to bear me to Tipperary, to the quay, I walked on board the Juverna, just as she was loosing her cables. My baggage, made up in a small box, was put on board as a parcel addressed to a young friend of mine in London. The few moments that intervened were fraught with most intense suspense. I stood on the fore deck among cattle, covered with rags and dirt, my eyes fixed on two detectives who stood at the cabin entrance, scrutinising narrowly the figure and features of every cabin passenger.
The bell rang, the detectives stepped on shore, one of my friends who watched my movements from a distance, waved a kind adieu, the Juverna slipped her cables, and by one bound was out in the river. The first motion of her paddles sounded to me like the assurance of fate, and I looked on the curling foam with measureless exultation. TheJuverna made a momentary halt at Passage, and then glanced gaily through Cove harbour out into the sea. As she cleared the road I turned back to look for the last time upon my fatherland. Her prospects, her promise, her strength, her hopes, her failure and her fall rushed in burning memory through my brain. I endeavoured to embody in the following verses the feelings that agitated and almost paralysed my every faculty of body and mind. I wrote them on a piece of paper that had been wrapped round some cheese:—
One heave, one bound, and off she’s dashing,
Expanding wide her snowy wings,
The white foam round her paddles flashing.
Away, away, the land recedes,
Far into dim and dreary distance,
As gallantly our packet speeds.
Unconscious of the gale’s resistance.
Away, away, how oft before,
With paling cheek and aching stomach,
I’ve trembled at the billow’s roar.
And crouched me in my narrow hammock.
But now, I bless the wildest waves
That bear me from a land of slaves.
Which, mounting the blue vault of Heaven,
Soars calmly o’er the murky shroud
That palls the close of boisterous even,
Is scarcely fairer than the form,
The light, the grace, from stem to stern—a
Fairy riding on the storm—
Of the fleet, trusty, dight Juverna,
Away, away, one last look more:
One blessing on the naked land—
Though the too glorious dream be o’er—
One blessing for her truthful hand,
Her proud old faith, though darkly grown,
Still lingering by each cold hearth-stone.
Couldst thou but dream this mournful end,
This midnight of a hope so great,
Where shame and sorrow darkly blend—
Couldst thou divine that thus bedecked,
With rags and dirt, thine eyes downturned:
Thou’dst flee, thy whole life’s labour wrecked.
Thy very heart within thee burned.
—Away, away, in all the past,
There’s not an act I would recall,
I bow me to the o’erwhelming blast,
But ’tis the heart alone can fall,
And mine may once again defy.
The fate that mocks it scoffingly.
My voice could reach the prison grate.
Where daylight creeping gloomily,
Comes to deride the captives’ fate;
Could I but prove by word or act,
How firm my heart and purpose still,
Their life’s worst pang to counteract,
Before their proud young hearts were still—
To live but that the land they loved
Should yet assert its native right,
That the immortal faith they proved,
Should yet be robed in victory’s light,
And, oh, to feel such promise high,
Were last to light their dying eye.
If apology were to be offered for the change of measure of the above, and its somewhat conflicting sentiments, it would be found in the tumult of passions, excitement, fear, hope, rage, disappointment and regret with which, standing among cattle on the deck, and disguised in meanest rags, I looked upon my country’s shores for, it may be the last time, and thought of her hopes, her misery and fall. Both faults may be amended here, but I cannot help regarding it as irreligious toward thoughts suggested by the circumstances then around me to remodel even the structure into which they spontaneously shaped themselves.
Night soon fell drearily upon the water. I engaged a berth from one of the sailors, and before half an hour, lost all consciousness of country and friends, of wind and tide, and hope, and shame, and peril, in tranquil repose. On ascending next morning, the shores of England were in view, and we sailed up the channel to the mouth of the Avon under a calm and mellow sky. I had some breakfast with one of the cowherds. We were delayed several hours waiting for the tide, which were spent for the most part in making difficult evolutions; and exhibiting to the cabin passengers the peculiar qualities of the Juverna. Night had fallen before we reached Bristol, and I slipped away from the boat, amid the confusion and bustle which checked the progress of the gay and rich, around whose footsteps avarice had gathered an eager and jostling crowd. Rude contact with, and unsavoury odours from, the unclean multitude shocked their nervous sensibility, as they made their way to their hotels amidst obtrusive obsequiousness, while the lone outlaw’s pathway lay free through the open street and uncontaminated air. But a wretched exterior has its disadvantages also. I dared not present myself at a hotel, and many of the humbler hostelries refused me admittance, believing, no doubt, either that the seeds of pestilence were in my rags, or not a copper in my pocket. Indeed, to no brain but that of a very imaginative genius would the possibility of such a superfluity as a pocket suggest itself. All the beds were “full.” At last I thought me of an expedient. I called for a glass of ale, for which payment in advance was duly demanded. I handed a sovereign, which at once emptied a bed, provided I slept in a room with another person which I refused, feeling that I had acquired a footing. I had something to eat, and finally found that there was a vacant room.
The next day was Sunday. No trains travelled to London except third class. This was rather unlucky, for I was aware that certain straitened gentlemen were often obliged, by stress of circumstances—the pressure of business which brooked not a moment’s delay—reluctantly to avail themselves of this mode of conveyance. I felt, too, that the loyalty of these slender aristocrats, was on a par with the unhappy incidents which compelled them to consort with vulgar people, that is to say, so constrained, that however much against the impulses of their generous natures, they could not omit any opportunity of manifesting the sentiment in its full intensity, I selected my company on this occasion, being only anxious to exclude the “arbiters elegantiarum,” Of my “compagnons de voyage,” some were in gin, some in fumes and some in glee, and the journey passed off without an incident.
On arriving at the Paddington terminus, an unlooked-for difficulty presented itself. My costume attracted universal attention. It was, in fact, outre even in comparison with the most outlandish; for every article had been carefully selected for its singularity. My “caubeen” especially excited the risibility of the merry boys who thronged the streets. I was soonfollowed by an uproarious crowd of most incorrigible young rascals, who made lunges at my unfortunate head-gear. They peered at me round lamp-posts, and occasionally, “Teigue,” and “Phelim,” pronounced in a broad English accent, grated on my ear. Although not indisposed to be merry, I grasped one of my tormentors and handed him over to a policeman. The sentinel of city morals dismissed him with a harsh rebuke, and threatened to “haul up” whoever gave me further annoyance. We were then near Oxford street. I told him I wanted to go to Tottenham Court road; but after making several fruitless attempts to pronounce the name, his own fertile genius had to supply my deficiency. He walked with me until the last unruly boy had disappeared, and then he sent me on my way rejoicing, after having spent some minutes in teaching me to articulate distinctly “Tottenham Court Road.” It was already nightfall. I felt as if all danger were passed. I could not anticipate the check I was about to receive.
I knew a man named Parker, who resided in Museum Street. I thought his house that to which I could easiest find access without exciting notice. I made my way to it unobserved, rapped, and to my great relief the door was opened by the man himself. He did not recognise me for some time, but as soon as he did, he fell into a paroxysm half hysterical, half frantic. I had completed his ruin, he exclaimed, and his unhappy family would have to curse me as the cause of his destruction. He was ready to sink on the floor in sheer terror, and with difficulty could he utter a request that I should instantly leave his house. This was a command, however harsh and heartless, which I dared not resist, for I was forced to admit to myself that under his terrified exterior might lurk a sentiment baser than fear.
I left the place in utter dismay. I could not venture into a house such as I had lodged in at Bristol, the night before, because my person was well known in London, and because those places are frequented by characters of all sorts. I could not venture, in my then guise, to the house of my young friend to whom I had addressed the parcel, because my appearance there would inevitably attract the notice of the policeman. I dare not, of course, venture to a respectable hotel. Thus perplexed, I bethought of a woman with whom I used formerly to lodge, and I repaired to her rooms (she had herself become a lodger). I met her on the stairs, where she nearly fainted. She hurried me into the street, and there told me that a person who lived in the house was actually watching to betray me. She suggested the house of an Irishwoman who lived in a court hard by. I had no alternative. The poor woman received me with tears. Such was her emotion that I could not hesitate to trust her with my life: Her son and daughter-in-law, who spent the day with her, were about returning home. They lived in the suburbs, at the Surrey side. They proposed to take me to their cottage, and I readily consented. We got a coach and drove home. The kindliest attentions were lavished on me by these people. As soon as I arrived, I shaved and cleansed myself; no small task, considering that I had on a fortnight’s beard, and had rubbed my face over with soot and grease.
I had a shirt and clothes from my host, with whom, in my new trim, I sat down to a comfortable supper. Early next morning he informed my friend of my arrival, and I was at once surrounded by several who would risk their lives for my safety. I had by this time begun to regard many singular escapes of mine as preordained by Providence, and I ceased to feel much concern in my fate. I cherished a presentiment of safety until it grew into a conviction, and acting on its assurance, I gave way to an unconcern that was quite inexplicable to those around me. But one feeling of fear lingered with me: it was lest Parker should add treason to cowardice, which certain ominous expressions that were said to fall from him, confirmed. I otherwise felt so secure, and so thankful to my entertainers, that I would gratify their wishes to remain a day or two longer with them; but the tide answered so well—the whole journey to Boulogne being by night, that I determined to avail myself of the opportunity. I donned my clerical costume, got me a sleek wig, folded a stole round my breviary, and with Christian patience awaited the hour of departure.
I was to be accompanied to Paris by my young friend, who spoke the French language perfectly, and was well acquainted with the etiquette of the journey. We entered the express train at London Bridge at half-past eight. When it was just starting, my host, who had accompanied us, clung to the panel of the door, and warned me, with provoking warmth, to “write, write, as soon as I was safe.” As the train drove off and his boisterous adieus died on my ear, I lost the last feeling of anxiety on my own account. The carriage was full—a German with a toothache—two gossiping old bachelors—a jolly English resident of the sunny south—my friend and myself occupied the six seats. However fluttered may be the hearts of the passengers, whatever may be the pressure of guilt, or fear, or remorse upon their souls, the heart of the mighty engine, on its fiery course, throbs only with one passion, namely how to outspeed the flight of time. Our fellow-travellers conversed upon all subjects, and wished for my opinion upon each; but I was so reserved and pious, and my friend so ready and witty, and exuberant in his gaiety, that my obstinate silence was pardoned or forgotten. We were able to make our way on board Her Majesty’s mail packet by the light of a clouded moon, then fast waning. I did not trouble myself to learn the name of the boat, but she appeared endued with more than the speed of fire. She flew over her allotted trip in one hour and three-quarters, and about two o’clock I set my foot on the free soil of the young Republic.
I had longed for such an event with an intensity of feeling not to be described; nay, I had often enjoyed anticipated exultation from indulging in a vague dream of its bare possibility, which absorbed all the gloom and horror of my situation. Yet when I stepped securely on what, to me, was hallowed ground, an adequate appreciation of the circumstance was far from realised in my feelings. New sights and sounds began to share my thoughts and engross my comprehension. In a moment the past vanished, with all its disquietude and alarm; and I entered on the new scene with a taste akin to the appetite of a convalescent. If I felt any deep emotion, it was only when my mind recurred to the fate of my comrades, or the feelings of joy with which my family would learn the tidings of my safety. We left our baggage at the Custom house—mine consisted of a pair of boots stowed away in a rather capacious valise—handed the keys, in due form, to the commissionaire of police, and directed them to be sent after us to our hotel. A commissionaire, so they call themselves, appeared in the morning with the keys, which he handed us bowing, adding that all was right.
There was a fete at Boulogne. Nothing was to be seen but glittering bayonets, and nothing to be heard but the harsh monotonous sound of the drum. Flags floated in the breeze, and cheers echoed from the distant hills, and everything proclaimed the festivity of liberty. It was a grand sight, and yet a sad one for me. I could not help contrasting with the scene before me the fate of my own unfortunate country. At ten o’clock we were on our way to Paris.
Such was the anxiety with which I gazed on the glad face of that sunny land during the entire of the journey that I could at this moment recognise every object that attracted my attention. But the scope of this narrative, now drawing rapidly to a close, does not embrace a description of France or Paris. Many pens have plied the task, and were mine more adequate than any, it were unfit to interweave so bright a theme with the gloomy details of this mournful history.
There remains to be told but one incident. On our arrival at the Paris terminus, we got into an English omnibus which brought us to an English hotel—the Hotel de Louvre in the Rue St. Thomas. There we dined together, some dozen or so of the passengers. After dinner my friend and I had champagne. While discussing its merits the conversation turned on Ireland. Opinions, of course, varied. Mine, it need scarcely be added, to an Englishman’s ear sounded bloodily, and I urged them with the vehemence of baffled hope. An old English gentleman of that quiet school which affects liberality and moderation, but entertains deepest animosity, deprecated the violence of my language and sentiments, and expressed his painful astonishment at hearing such opinions from the mouth of a clergyman; “They would not be unbecoming,” added he, with great bitterness of tone, “in that sanguinary brigand, Doheny.” Involuntarily and simultaneously my friend and myself burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, The gentleman could not at all comprehend our mirth.
He had, he thought, delivered himself of very sound and very gentlemanly philosophy, and he was really shocked to find it had made an impression so different from what he had expected. He had travelled much, he said, and met men of many lands, of whom Irishmen were ever the most polite and best bred gentlemen; a fact which rendered our laughing in his face rather inexplicable. The conversation was again resumed and again waxed warm. I expressed my opinion of English paupers in Ireland, and said they ought to be transported in a convict ship back to Liverpool, in the same fashion as Irish paupers of a different class are transmitted to Dublin by the Liverpool guardians. To this he replied by saying that there would be no peace in Ireland until the Mitchels and Dohenys were hanged, a fate which the latter was hastening to with irresistible impetus.
At this self-satisfied prophecy we laughed louder than before, whereupon he waxed wrathful, and repeating his experience of the world in general, and of Irishmen in particular, demanded an explanation of the laugh. I said, “That is a straightforward question, and demands a direct answer. It shall be given, although you have refused to answer, as all Englishmen of your class invariably do, to several direct questions which I have put to you. I laughed because I am that same sanguinary Doheny”: and pulling off my wig, I added, “Mevoila at your service.” The sudden appearance of him who answered the incantations of the weird sisters could not produce a greater panic. Chairs tumbled in every direction, and their occupiers fled the room, leaving myself and my friend ample space to enjoy the joke and the champagne in undisturbed quiet.
I have nothing further to relate in connection with myself. Paris appeared to me clothed with a grandeur, a glory, and a beauty, infinitely surpassing every description of them I had ever read or heard. Standing in any commanding spot surrounded by the monuments of her splendour and magnificence, upon each of which the genius of the land shed its immortal lustre, one feels coerced to the conviction that the high command and abiding destiny of France must be equally imperishable. But these considerations belong not to my story, and I renounce the idea of commemorating the sensations of gratified pride which that gorgeous capital awakened in my bosom. Her architecture and her art, her memorials of glory, and the triumphs of her progress, require to be scanned by the eye and portrayed by the ability of artistic genius. I must content myself with preserving a delighted recollection of the French metropolis which no scene or circumstance, possible in life can ever efface. The companion of all my hazards in Ireland, whom I again joined in Paris, more than shared my enthusiasm. He spent all his days wandering among the galleries of the Louvre or the statues of Versailles, forgetting in the sublime presence of their unmatched chefs d’ouvres all the shame and perils of the past. I hope he may be induced to give the result of his long examinations and fond reveries to the public.
 “Alice and Uua.”
 This may be a harsh and unjust opinion; if so, no one could regret it more than myself. In any case I wish to disclaim the idea of making a charge against the body of the Roman Catholic clergy, to some of whose members it applies. I yet fully believe that the great majority of the priesthood would willingly die with the rest of their countrymen in struggling for the liberty of their common home. Even of those who acted against us with such deadly success, I am sure some were influenced by pure and honourable motives: there were others, however, whose conduct the noblest motives would fail to justify, or even extenuate.
 I hope my friend “Desmond” (a true poet and genuine Irishman, whom God long preserve) will allow me to borrow his “graceful spirit people” to elevate to poetical dignity the otherwise unattractive and straggling waters of Lough Lua. It is near the lone and lovely passes of Ceimeneagh, which his genius has invested with graceful immortality, and his
“Children of the earth and sea.”.
may be sometimes tempted to lave therein.
Lough Lua loses in the comparison suggested by the sublime scenery around it, of which the “green little island,” and the pass are immeasurably the greatest. I saw it in no happy frame of mind, as I dragged my weary limbs along the rugged slopes of Shehigh. The only real feature of interest I could discover, was the solitary swan above alluded to, to which an intellect less fanciful than that of my friend could not refuse a claim to be recognised as the genius loci, or spirit of the spot.