« AnteriorContinuar »
over silver sand almost up to the lawn, passing the charming little town of Conamore, pleasantly situated on a point; before which were at all times to be seen a variety of vessels lying close to the quays. Along the sides of the mountains marks of labour were apparent, wheresoever the eye roved. White cottages were scattered with delightful profusion, fenced fields proclaimed that labour was brown with toil; in spring the busy plough was seen, in the green waving crop, and in autumn the yellow, rich and sweetly varied tints of nature seemed as though they were crowning industry with golden smiles. At all seasons his Lordship might be seen viewing the roads he had cut along the hills, or admiring the plantations his taste had produced.
In person he was tall, and in deportment lofty and commanding ; short in his manner, passionate in his actions, distant in his intercourse at one time, and at another unceremoniously familiar : kind-hearted, yet haughty and overbearing ; benevolent, yet constantly railing at beggary; ever doing good, and yet inflicting injury; in short, an eccentric being whom many thought perfectly happy, but in reality one whom I found to be not above the lot of hu
manity. His Lordship was as remarkable for singularity in dress as in manner.
He wore a brown plain wig with a long queue, a broad-brimmed white hat, a coat entirely different from the fashion of his own times, an embroidered waistcoat which sloped away down his thighs: in the fields his legs were cased in huge boots; but in the drawing-room he appeared with polished shoes, gold buckles, white silk stockings, and kerseymere smallclothes.
Of Lord Conamore's household establishment, I need only introduce the reader to his maiden sister, Lady Constantia, a prim sprig of nobility, with sufficient family pride, and a strong passion for elevated society ; to her niece, Lady Emily Temple, Lord Conamore's only child, a most charming girl ; and to his Lordship’s prime minister in and about Conamore, Mr. Peter Prentice, who was, to describe him in a word, as great an oddity as his master.
It was customary with Lord Conamore, on Midsummer eve, to give his tenants a treat and a dance on the lawn, while the genteel society in the vicinity and the neighbouring town were sumptuously entertained in the Lodge, after patronizing the light fantastic toe, among the lower orders on the green. One of these annual festivals was at hand, when I, then on a visit with a relation at Conamore, received a polite invitation, and my acquaintance with the characters whom I introduce commenced.
The breath of summer never perfumed a more lovely evening than that in which my friend and I sallied forth to partake of the hospitality of Conamore Lodge. The cuckoo and corncrake were loud. in expressing their pleasure, and ten thousand warblers made the ambient air delightfully vocal ; while the bright sandy beach along which we walked was covered with innumerable species of life, all enjoying the serenity of nature and the glorious departure of the brilliant sun, sporting and racing from their sand-built habitations, and with insect wonder gazing perhaps at our stately march. All the blue bright expanse of ocean lay like an undulating plain of glass, unruffled save by the dip of marine birds that hovered over it kissing their own images. All was quiet in elemental existence. Echo multiplied the charms of hearing, and sight was gratified by seeing many an interesting object inverted ; for as we rounded the point, Conamore Lodge, the scenery near it, and numerous persons approaching,
all appeared in the water topsy-turvy. It is impossible to sketch and do justice to such an animated picture as my eye met in every direction. On one side boats were plying the oar to and from vessels whose blood-red flags floated in compliments of acknowledgment and courtesy to the Lord of the soil ; while on the other the chain of hills, melting into purple tints, as evening advanced, displayed streaks of rosy fire from the illuminated cottages, and the parties bearing torches down the mountain towards the place of general resort. At once Conamore Lodge began to blaze with variegated light, and the trees around seemed as though they were covered with the fire-fly tribe. Such were the brilliancy of the illumination, and the industry of Peter Prentice to make his handy work visible, that every thing appeared more vividly distinct than at noon day.
Barrels of ale and kegs of whisky were placed under the care of stewards, on a mound or platform of earth in the centre of the lawn, which was crowded with the population for five miles round. His Lordship was receiving the congratulations of the different parties as they arrived with banners
and music; for every family or clan had its own distinguishing insignia. He marshalled the whole, assisted by the indefatigable Peter, who appeared in full glory. Each company as it arrived was placed in position, and formed part of a periphery at a considerable distance from the mound on which the good stuff was in tempting visibility. Young and old, male and female, were at length seated on the velvet grass ; then his Lordship, standing on the platform with a glass in his hand, and the best words he could command at the tip of his tongue, signified how delighted he was to see his old friends once more assembled on Midsummer eve, gave his usual toast “ Bis mille faltah,” which I need not inform you is Irish for a thousand welcomes, drank off the contents, and passed the signal to Peter for the fiddles to strike up.
Immediately many a blue-frieze-coated mountaineer, with neat leg, and abundant spirit, made his unsophisticated bow to the black-eyed girl of his heart, and Irish jigs and minuets were soon danced that afforded me the greatest amusement. Every one knows what a contrast Irish music presents to the lover of harmony. Our slow tunes are perfect