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beauty. This wail she carried on as long as we remained; suspecting host, whom he stabbed to the heart with the spear and her voice coming on the ear between the thunder-peals, already named, then scalped him, and, springing from the hut, had an effect singularly wild and unearthly: it would be was out of the village, and deep in a neighbouring waterfruitless to attempt a description of it. The reader, if he know course, by the time that his enemies' dogs were upon him; what an Irishwoman's song of sorrow is, must imagine the effect again, by many a night march and day of hunger and sufferit would have at such a moment among those lightning-shat-ing, he arrived in his village, his conscience set at rest by the tered ruins, and chanted by such a living vocal monument of act at which we shudder. human woe and desolation.
WE could relate many instances of the gratitude with which Indians repay a kindness, and of their firmness in friendship, but our limits restrain us. We must besides admit, that they are equally resentful of injury as mindful of favours, and persecute an enemy with as much constancy as they cherish a friend. Mr Catlin has preserved the portrait of a Mandan chief, named Mah-to-tôh-pa, or the Four Bears, whose life affords many singular illustrations of the above truths. We have room for one only. His brother had been surprised while asleep by a Riccaree, who left the spear with which he had murdered the sleeping man in the wound, and boasted of what he had done. The Four Bears took possession of the spear, preserved it carefully, with the blood of his brother encrusted on its point, and swore to cover that stain with the heart's blood of the Riccaree. Many moons elapsed, many snows even went by, and the Four Bears had not yet found the much desired opportunity of revenge. At length the culpability of his enforced delay became too heavy a reproach, and he resolved on seeking the Riccaree in his distant home, to do which he had to steal his way through his enemy's country for hundreds of miles; a task, the difficulty of which can be appreciated only by those who know the watch fulness of Indian habits, and the vigilance of those whom he had to circumvent. But when Greek meets Greek," we all know what "comes;" in this case, however, "diamondcut-diamond" were perhaps the more appropriate metaphor: let our readers settle that point. The Four Bears accomplished his task; he had traversed many a weary plain, had threaded many a tangled forest, swam many a river; but at length he stood, famished and outworn, before the village of his enemy. This was surrounded by a stockade, but he overcame that with little difficulty. It was night, but the dwelling of the offender was known to him, and entering it, he sat down before the fire, over which hung a pot containing food, which the provident squaw had set to simmer through the night. The family were in their beds, which consist of skins stretched on low frames, and ranged around the walls of the hut. The Riccaree, the object of the Mandan's visit, was also on his couch, with his arms close beside him, as is the custom. But he was not asleep; the flame as it rose fitfully was reflected from his glittering eyes, which rested, but with no particular interest, on his visitor. The latter, conscious that his then exhausted strength was not equal to the duty he came to perform, sat collected within himself for a certain time; he then took part of the food that filled the pot, and ate in such measure as he thought advisable. This done, he lighted his pipe, and sat to smoke it. The squaw meanwhile had asked her husband what man it was who was reposing at their hearth. "He is a hungry man, for thou seest he is eating; what matter for the rest?" was her husband's reply, and the uninvited guest concluded his meal without interruption. Was the Mandan shaken by what we feel to be the most touching appeal of this deep confidence to his better sympathies? He scarcely felt that it was one. Among Indians, hospitality is neither offered nor accepted as a matter of favour, but of right, and of course; nor would he have replied to such an appeal could he have felt it. He believed himself to be in the performance of a most solemn duty, and would have scorned all vacillation as weakness. Nor shall we be just ourselves if we lose sight of this in our abhorrence of his deed.
The pipe of the Mandan exhausted, he adjusted his raiment for departure; he rose, collected his force, sprang on his un
Mr Catlin, who knew this chief intimately, relates many stories of his bravery and general elevation of character, but we have room for the tale of his death only. In the year 1837, Mr Catlin had left the friendly Mandans some three years, when the small-pox was carried among them by the traders; the whole family of the Four Bears perished by this disease wife, child, not one was left him; he stood alone in his desolation, and gathering the corpses together, he covered all with skins, after the manner of his people; the songs for the dead then performed, he seated himself by the mound he had raised, which he addressed from time to time in the most touching terms of endearment, as each individual composing the mournful group rose to his memory. This continued through nine days and nights, during all which he took neither food nor sleep, and on the tenth he was himself a corpse.
The native American is deeply imbued with religious feeling; no Indian who maintains a fair character in his tribe is without some place of retirement for worship and meditation; a lonely tree, a nook in the bank of a stream, the hollow of a rock, are frequently selected for this purpose; nor is the habit confined to such tribes as have no fixed religious ceremonies; it was practised by the Mandans and others, many of whom possessed oratories such as we have just described, in addition to their "medicine" or "mystery lodges," which may be called their public temples. The Osages, Kansas, and other tribes west of the Mississippi, never fail to implore the blessing of the Great Spirit on breaking up their encampments, and they return thanks devoutly for the food they have found, and the preservation they have experienced, on arriving at the end of their journey. Thanks and praises are also publicly offered at every new moon, at the commencement of the buffalo hunts in spring, and at the ingathering of the corn; at which latter period a feast is held, called the corn feast: over this, among some tribes, the oldest woman presides. The Minatarrees boil a large kettle full of the new corn in presence of all the people, four medicine men, painted with white clay, dancing round the kettle until its contents are well boiled; these are next burnt to ashes as an offering to the Great Spirit; the fire is then extinguished; new fire is immediately created by rubbing two sticks together; with this they cook the corn for their own feast, and the remainder of the day is spent in festivity.
Dances are also performed to the Great Spirit on various occasions, as among the Ojibbeways on the first fall of snow; this is danced in snow-shoes. All believe in a future state of existence-in the reward of the good by an eternal residence in pleasant and plentifully supplied hunting grounds beyond the great waters-and in the punishment of the wicked by transformation into some loathsome beast, reptile, or insect, and by banishment to barren, parched, and desolate regions, the abodes of bad spirits, for a period proportionate to the enormity of their guilt. Prayers are also offered to the evil spirit in deprecation of his enmity, but on none of these ceremonies is attendance compelled; that Indian is, however, less respected, who is known constantly to absent himself from all.
The "medicine man" of the Indians is at once prophet, priest, and physician; he has sometimes great influence. The ceremony by which this dignity is attained among the Sioux, is one involving no little suffering. The candidate for this honour has innumerable splints of wood driven through the most sensitive parts of his flesh, and being suspended by some of these to a pole, with his medicine bag in his hand, he is expected to keep his eyes steadily fixed on the sun from its rising to its setting, when he is taken down, and entitled to be called a medicine or mystery man for the remainder of his life; but he has to make ceaseless efforts for the support of his character, since the failure of either his cures or his prophecies renders him liable to universal contempt.
Almost every family has its medicine or mystery bag, which consists of a beaver or otter skin curiously ornamented; this contains the medicinal stores and smaller consecrated articles of the family; it is considered a great disgrace to sell or otherwise part with an article once consecrated, and the medicine bag is always held sacred and inviolate to every hand but that of its owner. When a warrior of the Sac and Fox tribe falls
in battle, his widow suspends his mystery bag on the pole before his tent, and sits herself within the lodge; the warriors, returned from the battle, and adorned with the scalps they have taken from the enemy, then assemble before the lodge; they dance to the medicine bag of their lost brother, and throw presents to his widow, of such articles as they think may best console her for her loss.
The Indian dwelling is much varied in its form and manner among the various tribes; the Pawnees, for example, live in lodges thatched with prairie grass, and which are not unlike immense bee-hives.
The Sioux, the Camanchees, the Crows, and others inhabiting a vast tract on the upper waters of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and extending to the base of the Rocky Mountains, have moveable tents formed of buffalo skins richly ornamented, according to Indian notions of ornament, and fastened to poles sometimes twenty-five feet high; some of these tents will shelter eighty persons, and require from thirty to thirty-five buffalo skins to cover them.
The Riccarees, Mandans, &c. are, or were, lodged in villages fortified by strong stockades eighteen feet high; their huts are formed of poles covered closely and smoothly with earth, and this in process of time becomes so compact and hard, that men, women, and children, recline and play on their tops. It has been sometimes asserted that the Indian people have a common language, but this is not the case; scarcely any two of their nations between whom no intercourse exists, possess a language understood by both, but this inconvenience is obviated by a "language of signs," so effective and eloquent that by this every Indian is enabled to communicate with his brother of whatever nation or tribe, and hence perhaps has arisen the supposition that all speak a common language. The mode of writing among Indians is entirely hieroglyphic, and is of course liable to wide misconstruction; but they lay down maps with no mean degree of accuracy, and the chief's wear the boundaries of their hunting-grounds traced on their robes; a counterpart being kept in the public lodge among such other records as the nation may possess, and these are referred to if any dispute arise among neighbouring tribes. Their manufactures are of course few and simple. Stones are cut into pestles and mortars, tomahawks, knives, pipes, &c.; pottery is formed for domestic purposes from the clays furnished by all parts of their country; mats are woven from grass or rushes, and blankets from the hair of the buffalo. These articles are mostly the work of the women, who with the children plant, cultivate, and gather in the crops, collect wild rice and pash-e-quah, a large bulbous root, in form like the sweet potato and in taste like the chesnut, but more juicy. Nuts of many sorts, several kinds of plums, osage oranges, gooseberries, strawberries, and many sorts of grapes, are also collected in their season. Besides this, the women dress buffalo skins, procure wood and water, and in some tribes fetch home the game which the hunter, having tracked and killed, then leaves to their further disposal.
deer, into impassable ravines or to the brink of precipices, when they slaughter as many as they may need; but none were ever destroyed wantonly before the introduction of whisky; whereas at this time whole herds are killed merely for their skins, the flesh being left to decay on the prairies; and this, by depopulating the hunting-grounds, induces famine, and is another cause of Indian suffering and final extinction.
Buffaloes are often destroyed by the panther; solitary individuals sometimes fall a prey to a pack of wolves; others perish in the burning prairies, that awfully peculiar feature of the American solitudes; a few are drowned every season in attempting to cross the ice of rivers not firmly frozen; but the principal element of their destruction is in the rapacity of the trader; and it has been calculated that the activity of this last-named agent will ensure the extermination of this most valuable creature within a very short period of time. The education of the Indian child is an object of the most profound interest, not only to his own family but to the whole tribe. He is taught to love his country and tribe, to contemn falsehood, to reverence age, to be modest and silent; he is strictly enjoined to reward a kindness, but also to avenge an injury; to aid and guard a friend, but also to injure, by every means in his power, and relentlessly to persecute, an enemy; to abhor theft, unless it be practised on the property of an enemy, when it is called highly meritorious. The sports of youth are watched attentively by their elders, and all evidences of cowardice, meanness, &c., are followed by the needful discipline. The Indian usually retains his mother's name until he has entitled himself, by some remarkable act of prowess, endurance, &c., to choose one for himself, or been distinguished by some appellation bestowed by the tribe. Some of these 66 names" are sufficiently amusing, as, for example, He who jumps over every one,' The very sweet man,' "The man of good sense,' "No fool," The bird that goes to war," He who strikes two at once," &c. The names of women are not always inelegant. Take as a specimen of Indian taste in this matter, The bending willow," "The pure fountain," "The sweet-scented grass." Others are scarcely so complimentary, as, "The female bear," "The woman who lives in the bear's den," "The creature that creeps," &c.
The constancy with which an Indian endures tortures, is among the best known traits of his character, but his power of enduring labour has been less insisted on; nay, it has been denied by those who despair of the civilization of the race, or who believe that its destruction is a consequence inevitable to the white man's progress; but those who so judge know little of our Red brothers. We could adduce many facts in proof of this, were our space not wholly exhausted; but we must defer these, as well as the account we had purposed giving of the very extraordinary religious ceremonies practised among some of the tribes. We may, however, possibly return to the subject at some other time.
THE IRISH FIDDLER,
BY W. CARLETON.
WHAT a host of light-hearted associations are revived by that living fountain of fun and frolic, an Irish fiddler! Every thing connected with him is agreeable, pleasant, jolly. All his anecdotes, songs, jokes, stories, and secrets, bring us back from the pressure and cares of life, to those happy days and nights when the heart was as light as the heel, and both beat time to the exhilarating sound of his fiddle.
Beaver and other skins, belts of wampum, and coloured shells ground to an oval form, serve as coin; but the most important wealth of the Indian is in his horses and dogs, which assist him in the chase, and of which some possess great numbers. Many tribes of Indians are exceedingly bold and expert horsemen, the Camanchees more particularly, many of whom perform feats of dexterity on their wild horses that would astonish our boldest equestrians. These men are often seen to throw themselves on one side of their horses, to avoid the arrows of an enemy or the attack of an enraged buffalo, in such a manner that the extremity of one foot only seems to The old harper was a character looked upon by the Irish hold by the animal, and that while he continues to move at rather as a musical curiosity, than a being specially created full speed; nay, some have been even known to shoot arrows to contribute to their enjoyment. There was something about while in that position, the tenure of which is altogether incon-him which they did not feel to be in perfect sympathy with their ceivable to the European rider.
Their weapons for hunting are lances five or six feet long, and tipped with stone or the bone of some animal, and bows with arrows similarly pointed. The buffalo is sometimes hunted by men who have partially concealed their persons in the skin of the white wolf, and who creep to within shot of their game by favour of this disguise; for the buffalo, accustomed to the white wolf, and safe from his attack unless, when, separated from the herd, he becomes the prey of a pack, permits the approach of the Indian thus masked, the latter being careful to keep to leeward of his game, whose scent is very acute.
Indians sometimes drive whole herds of buffalo, elk, and
habits and amusements. He was above them, not of them ; and although they respected him, and treated him kindly, yet was he never received among them with that spontaneous ebullition of warmth and cordiality with which they welcomed their own musician, the fiddler. The harper, in fact, belonged to the gentry, and to the gentry they were willing to leave him. They listened to his music when he felt disposed to play for them, but it only gratified their curiosity, instead of enlivening their hearts a fact sufficiently evident from the circumstance of their seldom attempting to dance to it. This preference, however, of the fiddle to the harp, is a feeling generated by change of times and circumstances, for it is well known that in days gone by, when Irish habits were purer
older, and more hereditary than they are now, the harp was the favourite instrument of young and old, of high and low. The only instrument that can be said to rival the fiddle, is the bagpipe; but every person knows that Ireland is a loving country, and that at our fairs, dances, weddings, and other places of amusement, Paddy and his sweetheart are in the habit of indulging in a certain quiet and affectionate kind of whisper, the creamy tones of which are sadly curdled by the sharp jar of the chanter. It is not, in fact, an instrument adapted for love-making. The drone is an enemy to sentiment, and it is an unpleasant thing for a pretty blushing girl to find herself put to the necessity of bawling out her consent at the top of her lungs, which she must do, or have the ecstatic words lost in its drowsy and monotonous murmur. The bagpipe might do for war, to which, with a slight variation, it has been applied; but in our opinion it is only fit to be danced to by an assembly of people who are hard of hearing. Indeed, we have little doubt but its cultivation might be introduced with good effect as a system of medical treatment, suitable to the pupils of a deaf and dumb institution; for if any thing could bring them to the use of their ears, its sharp and stiletto notes surely would effect that object.
The fiddle, however, is the instrument of all others most essential to the enjoyment of an Irishman. Dancing and love are very closely connected, and of course the fiddle is never thought of or heard, without awakening the tenderest and most agreeable emotions. Its music, soft, sweet, and cheerful, is just the thing for Paddy, who under its influence partakes of its spirit, and becomes soft, sweet, and cheerful himself. The very tones of it act like a charm upon him, and produce in his head such a bland and delightful intoxication, that he finds himself making love just as naturally as he would eat his meals. It opens all the sluices of his heart, puts mercury in his veins, gives honey to a tongue that was, Heaven knows, sufficiently sweet without it, and gifts him with a pair of feather heels that Mercury might envy; and to crown all, endows him, while pleading his cause in a quiet corner, with a fertility of invention, and an easy unembarrassed assurance, which nothing can surpass. In fact, with great respect for my friend Mr Bunting, the fiddle it is that ought to be our national instrument, as it is that which is most closely and agreeably associated with the best and happiest impulses of the Irish heart. The very language of the people themselves is a proof of this; for whilst neither harp nor bagpipe is ever introduced as illustrating peculiarities of feeling by any reference to their influence, the fiddle is an agreeable instrument in their hands, in more senses than one. Paddy's highest notion of flattery towards the other sex is boldly expressed by an image drawn from it, for when he boasts that he can, by honied words, impress such an agreeable delusion upon his sweetheart as to make her imagine" that there is a fiddler on every rib of the house," there can be no metaphor conceived more strongly or beautifully expressive of the charm which flows from the tones of that sweet instrument. Paddy, however, is very often hit by his own metaphor, at a time when he least expects it. When pleading his cause, for instance, and promising golden days to his fair one, he is not unfrequently met by, "Ay, ay, it's all very well now; you're sugary enough, of coorse; but wait till we'd be a year married, an' maybe, like so many others that promised what you do, you'd never come home to me widout 'hangin' up your fiddle behind the door;' by which she means to charge him with the probability of being agreeable when abroad, but morose in his own family.
Having thus shown that the fiddle and its music are mixed up so strongly with our language, feelings, and amusements, it is now time to say something of the fiddler. In Ireland it is impossible, on looking through all the classes of society, to find any individual so perfectly free from care, or, in stronger words, so completely happy, as the fiddler, especially if he be blind, which he generally is. His want of sight circumscribes his other wants, and, whilst it diminishes his enjoyments, not only renders him unconscious of their loss, but gives a greater zest to those that are left him, simple and innocent as they are. He is in truth a man whose lot in life is happily cast, and whose lines have fallen in pleasant places. The phase of life which is presented to him, and in which he moves, is one of innocent mirth and harmless enjoyment. Marriages, weddings, dances, and merry-makings of all descriptions, create the atmosphere of mirth and happiness which he ever breathes. With the dark designs, the crimes, and outrages of mankind, he has nothing to do, and his light spirit is never depressed
by their influence. Indeed, he may be said with truth to pass through none but the festivals of life, to hear nothing but mirth, to feel nothing but kindness, and to communicate nothing but happiness to all around him. He is at once the source and the centre of all good and friendly feelings. By him the aged man forgets his years, and is agreeably cheated back into youth; the labourer snatches a pleasant moment from his toil, and is happy; the care-worn ceases to remember the anxieties that press him down; the boy is enraptured with delight, and the child is charmed with a pleasure that he feels to be wonderful.
Surely such a man is important, as filling up with enjoyment so many of the painful pauses in human misery. He is a thousand times better than a politician, and is a true philosopher without knowing it. Every man is his friend, unless it be a rival fiddler, and he is the friend of every man, with the same exception. Every house, too, every heart, and every hand, is open to him; he never knows what it is to want a bed, a dinner, or a shilling. Good heavens! what more than this can the cravings of a human heart desire! For my part, I do not know what others might aim at; but I am of opinion that in such a world, as this, the highest proof of a wise man would be, a wish to live and die an Irish fiddler.
And yet, alas! there is no condition of life without some remote or contingent sorrow. Many a scene have I witnessed connected with this very subject, that would wring the tears out of any eye, and find a tender pulse in the hardest heart. It is indeed a melancholy alternative that devotes the poor sightless lad to an employment that is ultimately productive of so much happiness to himself and others. This alternative is seldom resorted to, unless when some poor child—perhaps a favourite is deprived of sight by the terrible ravages of the small-pox. In life there is scarcely any thing more touching than to witness in the innocent invalid the first effects, both upon himself and his parents, of this woeful privation. The utter helplessness of the pitiable darkling, and his total dependence upon those around him his unacquaintance with the relative situation of all the places that were familiar to himhis tottering and timid step, and his affecting call of " Mammy, where are you?" joined to the bitter consciousness on her part that the light of affection and innocence will never sparkle in those beloved eyes again-all this constitutes a scene of deep and bitter sorrow. When, however, the sense of his bereavement passes away, and the cherished child grows up to the proper age, a fiddle is procured for him by his parents, if they are able, and if not, a subscription is made up among their friends and neighbours to buy him one. All the family, with tears in their eyes, then kiss and take leave of him; and his mother, taking him by the hand, leads him, as had been previously arranged, to the best fiddler in the neighbourhood, with whom he is left as an apprentice. There is generally no fee required, but he is engaged to hand his master all the money he can make at dances, from the time he is proficient enough to play at them. Such is the simple process of putting a blind boy in the way of becoming acquainted with the science of melody.
In my native parish there were four or five fiddlers-all good in their way; but the Paganini of the district was the far-famed Mickey M'Rorey. Where Mickey properly lived, I never could actually discover, and for the best reason in the world he was not at home once in twelve months. As Colley Cibber says in the play, he was "a kind of a here-and-thereian -a stranger nowhere.' This, however, mattered little; for though perpetually shifting day after day from place to place, yet it somehow happened that nobody ever was at a loss where to find him. The truth is, he never felt disposed to travel incog, because he knew that his interest must suffer by doing so; the consequence was, that wherever he went, a little nucleus of local fame always attended him, which rendered it an easy matter to find his whereabouts.
Mickey was blind from his infancy, and, as usual, owed to the small-pox the loss of his eyesight. He was about the middle size, of rather a slender make, and possessed an intelligent countenance, on which beamed that singular expression of inward serenity so peculiar to the blind. His temper was sweet and even, but capable of rising through the buoyancy of his own humour to a high pitch of exhilaration and enjoyment. The dress he wore, as far as I can remember, was always the same in colour and fabric-to wit, a brown coat, a sober-tinted cotton waistcoat, grey stockings, and black corduroys. Poor Mickey! I think I see him before me, his head erect, as the heads of all blind men are, the fiddle-case under his left arm, and his hazel staff held out like a feeler, exploring with expe
rimental pokes the nature of the ground before him, even although some happy urchin leads him onward with an exulting eye; an honour of which he will boast to his companions for many a mortal month to come.
The first time I ever heard Mickey play was also the first I ever heard a fiddle. Well and distinctly do I remember the occasion. The season was summer-but summer was summer then and a new house belonging to Frank Thomas had been finished, and was just ready to receive him and his family. The floors of Irish houses in the country generally consist at first of wet clay; and when this is sufficiently well smoothed and hardened, a dance is known to be an excellent thing to bind and prevent them from cracking. On this occasion the evening had been appointed, and the day was nearly half advanced, but no appearance of the fiddler. The state of excitement in which I found myself could not be described. The name of Mickey M'Rorey had been ringing in my ears for God knows how long, but I had never seen him, or even heard his fiddle. Every two minutes I was on the top of a little eminence looking out for him, my eyes straining out of their sockets, and my head dizzy with the prophetic expectation of rapture and delight. Human patience, however, could bear this painful suspense no longer, and I privately resolved to find Mickey, or perish. I accordingly proceeded across the hills, a distance of about three miles, to a place called Kilnahushogue, where I found him waiting for a guide. At this time I could not have been more than seven years of age; and how I wrought out my way over the lonely hills, or through what mysterious instinct I was led to him, and that by a path too over which I had never travelled before, must be left unrevealed, until it shall please that Power which guides the bee to its home, and the bird for thousands of miles through the air, to disclose the principle upon which it is accomplished.
On our return home I could see the young persons of both sexes flying out to the little eminence I spoke of, looking eagerly towards the point we travelled from, and immediately scampering in again, clapping their hands, and shouting with delight. Instantly the whole village was out, young and old, standing for a moment to satisfy themselves that the intelligence was correct; after which, about a dozen of the youngsters sprang forward, with the speed of so many antelopes, to meet us, whilst the elders returned with a soberer but not less satisfied manner into the houses. Then commenced the usual battle, as to who should be honoured by permission to carry the fiddle-case. Oh! that fiddle-case! For seven long years it was an honour exclusively allowed to myself, whenever Mickey attended a dance any where at all near us; and never was the Lord Chancellor's mace-to which, by the way, with great respect for his lordship, it bore a considerable resemblance carried with a prouder heart or a more exulting But so it is
"These little things are great to little men.' "Blood alive, Mickey, you're welcome!" "How is every bone of you, Mickey? Bedad we gev you up." No, we didn't give you up, Mickey; never heed him; sure we knew very well you'd not desart the Towny boys-whoo!-Fol de rol lol!" "Ah, Mickey, won't you sing There was a wee devil come over the wall?" " "To be sure he will, but wait till he comes home and gets his dinner first. Is't off an empty stomach you'd have him to sing?" "Mickey, give me the fiddlecase, won't you, Mickey?" "No, to me, Mickey." "Never beed them, Mickey: you promised it to me at the dance in Carntaul."
Aisy, boys, aisy. The truth is, none of yez can get the fiddle-case. Shibby, my fiddle, hasn't been well for the last day or two, and can't bear to be carried by any one barrin' myself." "Blood alive! sick is it, Mickey ?-an' what ails her?" "Why, some o' the doctors says there's a frog in her, an' others that she has the cholic; but I'm goin' to give her a dose of balgrifauns when I get up to the house above. Ould Harry Connolly says she's with fiddle; an' if that's true, boys, maybe some o' yez won't be in luck. I'll be able to spare a young fiddle or two among yez."
Many a tiny hand was clapped, and many an eye was lit up with the hope of getting a young fiddle; for gospel itself was never looked upon to be more true than this assertion of Mickey's. And no wonder. The fact is, he used to amuse himself by making small fiddles of deal and horse-hair, which he carried about with him as presents for such youngsters as he took a fancy to. This he made a serious business of, and
carried it on with an importance becoming the intimation just given. Indeed, I remember the time when I watched one of them, which I was so happy as to receive from him, day and night, with the hope of being able to report that it was grow ing larger; for my firm belief was, that in due time it would reach the usual size.
As we went along, Mickey, with his usual tact, got out of us all the information respecting the several courtships of the neighbourhood that had reached us, and as much, too, of the village gossip and scandal as we knew.
Nothing can exceed the overflowing kindness and affection with which the Irish fiddler is received on the occasion of a dance or merry-making; and to do him justice he loses no opportunity of exaggerating his own importance. From habit, and his position among the people, his wit and power of repartee are necessarily cultivated and sharpened. Not one of his jokes ever fails-a circumstance which improves his humour mightily; for nothing on earth sustains it so much as knowing, that, whether good or bad, it will be laughed at. Mickey, by the way, was a bachelor, and, though blind, was able, as he himself used to say, to see through his ears better than another could through the eyes. He knew every voice at once, and every boy and girl in the parish by name, the moment he heard them speak.
On reaching the house he is bound for, he either partakes of, or at least is offered, refreshment, after which comes the ecstatic moment to the youngsters: but all this is done by due and solemn preparation. First he calls for a pair of scissors, with which he pares or seems to pare his nails; then asks for a piece of rosin, and in an instant half a dozen boys are off at a break-neck pace, to the next shoemaker's, to procure it; whilst in the meantime he deliberately pulls a piece out of his pocket and rosins his bow. But, heavens! what a ceremony the opening of that fiddle-case is! The manipulation of the blind man as he runs his hand down to the key-hole-the turning of the key-the taking out of the fiddle-the twang twangand then the first ecstatic sound, as the bow is drawn across the strings; then comes a screwing; then a delicious saw or two; again another screwing-twang twang-and away he goes with the favourite tune of the good woman, for such is the etiquette upon these occasions. The house is immediately thronged with the neighbours, and a preliminary dance is taken, in which the old folks, with good-humoured violence, are literally dragged out, and forced to join. Then come the congratulations" Ah, Jack, you could do it wanst," says Mickey, "an' can still; you have a kick in you yet." "Why, Mickey, I seen dancin' in my time," the old man will reply, his brow relaxed by a remnant of his former pride, and the hilarity of the moment, "but you see the breath isn't what it used to be wid me, when I could dance the Baltehorum Jig on the bottom of a ten-gallon cask. But I think a glass o' whisky will do us no harm afther that. Heighho!-well, well—I'm sure I thought my dancin' days wor over.'
"Bedad an' you wor matched any how," rejoined the fiddler. Molshy carried as light a heel as ever you did; sorra a woman of her years ever I seen could cut the buckle wid her. You would know the tune on her feet still."
"Ah, Mickey, the thruth is," the good woman would say, "we have no sich dancin' now as there was in my days. Thry that glass."
“But as good fiddlers, Molshy, eh? Here's to you both, and long may ye live to shake the toe! Whoo! bedad that's great stuff. Come now, sit down, Jack, till I give you your ould favourite, Cannie Soogah.'
These were happy moments and happy times, which might well be looked upon as picturing the simple manners of country life with very little of moral shadow to obscure the cheerfulness which lit up the Irish heart and hearth into humble happiness. Mickey, with his usual good nature, never forgot the younger portion of his audience. After entertaining the old and full-grown, he would call for a key, one end of which he placed in his mouth, in order to make the fiddle sing for the children their favourite song, beginning with
"Oh! grand-mamma, will you squeeze my wig?" This he did in such a manner, through the medium of the key, that the words seemed to be spoken by the instrument, and not by himself. After this was over, he would sing us, to his own accompaniment, another favourite, "There was a wee devil looked over the wall," which generally closed that portion of the entertainment so kindly designed for us.
Upon those moments I have often witnessed marks of deep
and pious feeling, occasioned by some memory of the absent or the dead, that were as beautiful as they were affecting. If, for instance, a favourite son or daughter happened to be removed by death, the father or mother, remembering the air which was loved best by the departed, would pause a moment, and with a voice full of sorrow, say, "Mickey, there is one tune that I would like to hear; I love to think of it, and to hear it; I do, for the sake of them that's gone-my darlin' son that's lyin' low: it was he that loved it. His ear is closed against it now; but for his sake-ay, for your sake, avourneen machree-we will hear it wanst more."
Mickey always played such tunes in his best style, and amidst a silence that was only broken by sobs, suppressed moanings, and the other tokens of profound sorrow. These gushes, however, of natural feeling soon passed away. In a few minutes the smiles returned, the mirth broke out again, and the lively dance went on as if their hearts had been incapable of such affection for the dead-affection at once so deep and tender. But many a time the light of cheerfulness plays along the stream of Irish feeling, when cherished sorrow lies removed from the human eye far down from the surface.
These preliminary amusements being now over, Mickey is conducted to the dance-house, where he is carefully installed in the best chair, and immediately the dancing commences. It is not my purpose to describe an Irish dance here, having done it more than once elsewhere. It is enough to say that Mickey is now in his glory; and proud may the young man be who fills the honourable post of his companion, and sits next him. He is a living storehouse of intelligence, a travelling directory for the parish-the lover's text-book-the young woman's best companion; for where is the courtship going on of which he is not cognizant? where is there a marriage on the tapis, with the particulars of which he is not acquainted? He is an authority whom nobody would think of questioning. It is now, too, that he scatters his jokes about; and so correct and well trained is his ear, that he can frequently name the young man who dances, by the peculiarity of his step.
"Ah ha! Paddy Brien, you're there? Sure I'd know the sound of your smoothin'-irons any where. Is it thrue, Paddy, that you wor sint for down to Errigle Keerogue, to kill the clocks for Dan M'Mahon? But, nabuklish! Paddy, what'll you have?"
"Is that Grace Reilly on the flure? Faix, avourneen, you can do it; devil o' your likes I see any where. I'll lay Shibby to a penny trump that you could dance your own namesake-the Calleen dhas dhun, the bonny brown girl-upon a spider's cobweb, widout breakin' it. Don't be in a hurry, Grace dear, to tie the knot; I'll wait for you."
Several times in the course of the night a plate is brought round, and a collection made for the fiddler: this was the moment when Mickey used to let the jokes fly in every direction. The timid he shamed into liberality, the vain he praised, and the niggardly he assailed by open hardy satire; all managed, however, with such an under-current of good humour, that no one could take offence. No joke ever told better than that of the broken string. Whenever this happened at night, Mickey would call out to some soft fellow, Blood alive, Ned Martin, will you bring me a candle?—I've broken a string.” The unthinking young man, forgetting that he was blind, would take the candle in a hurry, and fetch it to him.
It is unnecessary to say, that the mirth on such occasions was convulsive. Another similar joke was also played off by him against such as he knew to be ungenerous at the collection. "Paddy Smith, I want a word wid you. I'm goin' across the country as far as Ned Donnelly's, and I want you to help me along the road, as the night is dark."
"To be sure, Mickey. I'll bring you over as snug as if you wor on a clane plate, man alive!"
to his fiddle. His hopes and pleasures, though limited, are full. His heart is necessarily light, for he comes in contact with the best and brightest side of life and nature; and the consequence is, that their mild and mellow lights are reflected on and from himself. I am ignorant whether poor Mickey is dead or not; but I dare say he forgets the boy to whose young spirit he communicated so much delight, and who often danced with a buoyant and careless heart to the pleasant notes of his fiddle. Mickey M'Rorey, farewell! Whether living or dead, peace be with you!
There is another character in Ireland essentially different from the mere fiddler-I mean the country dancing-master. In a future number of the Journal I will give a sketch of one who was eminent in his line. Many will remember him when I name BUCKRAM-BACK.
THE PASSING BELL.
BY J. U. U.
With its measured pause, and its long-drawn wail,
Till another rings forth for the dead and gone.
Is the lord's of the valley-the rich man's knell :
Yet, bell of death, on the living air
Thy tones come bound from the house of prayer—
Through the gate unclosed for the dead and gone.
Faix, Ned, I knew you wor jist fit for't; houldin' a candle CURRENT COIN OF CHINA.-The only coin made in China to a dark man! Isn't he a beauty, boys?—look at him, girls—is the tchen, or cash, as it is called in Canton. It is composed as cute as a pancake." of base metal, having the date and reigning emperor's name stamped on it. According to Gutzlaff, they had coins of this description a thousand years before our era. It is nearly as large as an old shilling. There is a square hole in the centre, to admit of a number of them being strung on a bamboo. From seven to eight hundred of these, according to the exchange, may be had for a Spanish dollar. Silver is the commercial medium of barter; it is not coined, but passes by weight, after being purified, when it is called sycee silver. It is then cast into lumps of one tael, or Chinese ounce, each, the value of which in English money is about six shillings. When decimal parts are required, it is cut. Spanish dollars are current in Canton, and they are also cut when required for lesser portions. Whenever one of these gets into the possession of a Chinese, he stamps his name on it; hence in a short time the Spanish marks become quite obliterated, and then they are called chop dollars, and are melted into sycee silver. Gold is like any other article of trade, and is not used as a medium of barter.-Dr Fulton's Travelling Sketches in Various Countries.
"Thank you, Paddy; throth you've the dacency in you; an' kind father for you, Paddy. Maybe I'll do as much for you some other time."
Mickey never spoke of this until the trick was played off, after which, he published it to the whole parish; and Paddy of course was made a standing jest for being so silly as to think that night or day had any difference to a man who could not see.
Thus passed the life of Mickey M'Rorey, and thus pass the lives of most of his class, serenely and happily. As the sailor to his ship, the sportsman to his gun, so is the fiddler attached