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inconsistent management of the different characters in his fictions, and for a great deal of what is unnatural and absurd, overwrought and unskilful, in the general conduct of his narratives.

In repeating this balanced judgment upon his former works, we sufficiently characterise the merits and defects of the volumes now before us. They exhibit all the peculiarities of the author's mind and style: they are remarkable for the same desultory strength of description; they betray the same intervals and lapses of inequality and weakness; and though the tales which they contain, cannot, certainly, on the whole, be placed in competition, for spirit and graphic force, with the earlier series, their inferiority is not so distinct and palpable as to endanger the modicum of fame, of which the author had previously and deservedly possessed him


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The history of The Nowlans,' fills the two first volumes, and offers, consequently, much more ample scope for the delineation of national manners, than that entitled Peter of the Castle,' which is compressed into the single remaining volume. The scene of the story of The Nowlans,' is laid in our own times, and among the Llieuve-Jeullum, or Slieve-Bloom Mountains :-that wild and barren tract of the south-west of Ireland, which stretches through the county of Tipperary, and borders on Limerick. The family of the Nowlans are of the class of the more considerable farmers of this unfrequented and mountainous region; and, accordingly, we are carefully introduced to the whole of their pedigree and kindred. But the business and interest of the tale turn chiefly upon the fortunes of two individuals, a son and a daughter, of the house; of whom the former, John Nowlan, is educated for the priesthood; and the latter, his sister, Peggy Nowlan, is the humble heroine of the piece.

The opening of the tale, and the duty of familiarizing us with all the race of the Nowlans, afford the author an opportunity for some of his extremely clever and most accurate delineations of Irish life. Before the boy John Nowlan is irrecoverably destined to the sacred office, a scheme of his parents' ambition is to obtain his adoption by an unmarried uncle, Mr. Aby Nowlan, the wealthiest gentleman farmer' of the district. This important personage is one of the most original characters--with no good character at all, intellectual or moral-in the whole tale. Having inherited considerable wealth, and the leasehold of several extensive farms, from the industry of his father, he had made it the sole occupation of his manhood, to stock the neighbouring cabins with his illegitimate progeny, while some favourite sultana-the Mrs. Nowlan ' of the hour-always reigned in his own domicile. Here, in the stupid ambition of vying with the quality,' Masther Aby kept open house to all the roaring, hunting, blades of the country, who condescended to eat up his great meat dinners, and to make his roof echo with their singing, blasphemy, and drunken revelry. All

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this brutal vice was of course accompanied with the heartless, wilful waste, that, on the faith of a good old adage, promised a woeful want'-with a besotted indolence on the part of Masther,' who suffered his affairs to run into irretrievable confusion and ultimate ruin—and with all the idleness and peculation of a swarm of menials and lounging dependents, who devoured whatever his 'quality friends' were unable to destroy. All the details of this picture of grovelling debauchery, low extravagance, and vulgar riot, for which, unfortunately, Irish society in the middle orders still offers too many originals-are described by our author with a quaint and expressive minuteness, that, like the compositions of Ostade and Teniers, is at once admirable for its fidelity, and revolting for its grossness.

The really respectable parents of John Nowlan, having succeeded in their anxious plan of establishing him in the favour of his precious uncle, the simple-hearted boy, with all the seeds of good principles which had been carefully instilled into him until the age of fourteen, is consigned to this den of filty debauchery, and goes to reside with Masther Aby.' Masther Aby.' On the evening of his arrival, there is as usual, a drunken party; and the poor lad is induced by his uncle to drink to intoxication, and thus for the first time in his life, to degrade and brutalize his nature. The description of the house on the morning after this debauch, is a perfect piece of painting.

The young sportsmen having, soon after day-break, hurried off after Aby's grouse, John found him standing alone at the parlour window, breathing his low whistle, with a cup of tea in one hand, and an old almanack in the other; and he was no sooner conscious of his nephew's presence, than he turned round in perfect good humour, and only saying— 'Well, lad; hope your early risin' 'ill do you no harm;-would a bit o'breakfast lie in your vay, I wondher?' pointed to the table, and turned round to look out at nothing, through the barred and dirty window.

'John proceeded to fill himself some tea, out of a tea-pot, once, and very recently too, of a good kind of English china, but that now had a wooden lid, and only half a snout; and he poured it into a saucer which was no match to his cup, and added to it some rich but dabbled cream, found in an ewer, the remnant of a suit differing from every other article of teaequipage on the table, as each individual article differed from the other. He required some water for his tea-pot, and discovered it in a tin saucepan, covered down with a wooden platter, by the hearth, for the copper kettle wanted a bottom, and the tin kettle a handle this half-year;' his eye rested on the table-cloth; it was full of holes and rents, though not of an old texture; stained and creased, and yellow, out of the last wash. His tea tasted weak, after the dilution of greasy water, but the remedy was at hand, in a saucerful of black and green, lying on the mantle-piece; more than a pound of dirty butter was scattered on scraps of small plates over the table; more than four pounds of bread, served on nothing at all; a silver spoon was left to boil away in an egg-saucepan, on the fire; while a leaden one (the pig having eaten more than half a dozen of the silver set

in her mess, from time to time), served for his cup; and, to finish the pleasing display, five or six cups and saucers, or (in the same service), bowls and plates, together with as many dinner plates and dishes, knives and forks, were huddled together at the far end of the table, all still at variance in size, shape, or pattern, and all shewing slops, or half-picked bones and egg-shells, that told what a breakfast had been dispatched, partly by their agency, at an earlier hour that morning.

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John looked around him. The parlour was of a good size and shape, but, though begun twenty years ago, had never been finished. The walls, smoothly prepared for painting or papering, remained bare; the surbases and door frames were just as the carpenter had nailed them up, except that the deal had turned brownish from time and smoke; the furniture, once of a good, substantial, and not inelegant fashion, was covered with dust; some of the chairs wanting a leg, some a back, some a bottom: yet none thus reduced from regular service, but rather from hard usage, in the kitchen, or up-stairs, or when the company' knocked them about, or played leap-frog' over them of an evening; or when the dogs scratched the hair out of them; or Mrs. Nowlan's' pet raven picked it out ;—and ever since, although every day promising to send them to be mended, or to send for some one to mend them, the Masther' had let them stand, or totter, rather, as they were, with abundance of means, and facilities too, to attend to their reduced condition. And then the carpet, of an expensive description, had not been nailed down, and was always crumpled at the door, so that every one that went in or out should stoop, with a curse, to arrange it; and the holes scraped in it by the dogs, or by the hob-nails of many brogues, ran riot for want of a darn, and the dust came up through it for want of a shaking. In a word-all was expensive waste, indolent wreck, and miserable mismanagement.

• His uncle invited him to walk out; and John, attending him, was supplied with abundant evidences of the same presiding spirit of thoughtless

and careless ruin.

'As they sauntered down the rugged, half-choked avenue, two of the men who had taken their horses the night before, appeared leaning over a crumbled wall, in attitudes of luxurious ease, as they alternately smoked and handed to each other the dooden,' or short pipe.


Sarvent, gentlemen," said Aby, addressing them in what he would himself call a gibing way.'

"God save you kindly, Sir."

"And what are ye for doing with yourselfs to-day, gentlemen?"


Why, Masther Aby, we war upon thinkin' iv' goin' down to the bottom (valley), to see what way is the hay goin' on.""

"An' take your time, a-vouchal; it's a bad thing to be over-hasty,an' things are apt to spile wid hurry."-These words were volunteered in a jeering tone, with a voice that sounded like the interrupted growl of a bear, by a big fellow, with a bull neck, rolling, unmanageable eyes, broad caricature features, and tattered apparel, visibly the fragments of Aby's castoff wardrobe, as, his uncouth person shambling along, almost sideways, he made his appearance over a style, from the post-office.

"What's that you're sayin,' you bosthoon, you?" queried Aby, with a smile on the new comer, such as kings of yore were wont to bestow on their admired jesters.

"I say so I do, there's loock in lesure: as the boys well knows, an' yourself can bear witness to the same along wid 'em."'-vol. i., pp. 79-84.

As a counterpart to this picture, we cannot refrain from giving the evening scene of this same day.

'The sportsmen returned home to dinner, bringing with them Masther Tony Ferret, three or four field companions, picked up during the day, and, exclusive of Aby's dogs, all of whom had been in their service, nearly a dozen of canine guests. Their bags were well stuffed; and John saw them, with amazement and anger, send every bird and hare they had killed up to Mount Nelson, to the magistrate," by the hands of all the lounging fellows about the house, not a single one being even offered to Aby; and, immediately after, sit down, tantivying and shouting, to a smoking table of roast beef, boiled mutton, steaks, chops, and veal-cutlets; the whole mess supplied on old credit, and at arbitrary prices, by the village butchers, while no fowls of any kind, no bacon, no ham, in fact, nothing that the farm-yard should have furnished, appeared to qualify the heavy expense of such an entertainment.

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And, on this evening, Mrs. Nowlan' had also her usual little coterie ' above stairs.' Ere dinner was announced, Matthew passed the open window of the parlour, coming a second time over the style from the village, and laden with two large parcels, one of tea, the other of sugar, and three black bottles of whiskey;-and

"Where are you goin' wid them, you sprissaun o' the divil ?" inquired Aby.

To the misthress, to be sure," answered Matthew; "there's to be tay an' fine language up stairs this evenin', so there is."

The night closed even more gloriously than the last: John, although by a visit to the garden after dinner, where he met his beautiful cousin, he contrived to keep himself more temperate than his initiation had been, remaining up, at his uncle's desire, to witness it. The gentlemen guests now amounted to about nine; and as "the more the merrier," seems especially to apply to a set of topers, their spirits rose, after twelve o'clock, into something ecstatic. More "tumblers" and glasses were broken, more chairs dislocated, on this occasion, than had been known for weeks; and, at last, John saw them all start up, form themselves into opposite lines, arrange a country-dance, and, to the music of their own shouts, cut the strangest vagaries, in the name of figures, as they capered "up the middle, down again, hands across, and turned their partners;" Aby, all the while, sitting steadily in his chair, and, every now and then, crying "ha;" until, at last, an answering screech of female voices came from the upper regions, followed by the misthress," heading half-a-dozen "ladies," with flushed cheeks, swimming eyes, and disarranged dresses, to whom immediately arrived an accession of the two kitchen-wenches, and old Poll; and now partners were really chosen, and a country dance, "somethin' like the thing," ensued, as was observed by Matthew, who, with a crowd of "workmen," that scarce ever worked, "poor relations and followers of the Masther," stood at the open door of the parlour, to bless their visions with a view of the "company."-vol. i., pp. 93-95.


The gradual progress of the coming and inevitable ruin of his

uncle, to which John was now for five years to be a witness, we shall not stop to detail. After going through the usual course of law-suits and their attendant expenses, he was compelled to surrender all his property to his creditors.

The history of Mr. Aby Nowlan, is told in a masterly style; it is however interesting more from its fidelity to real life, than as it at all advances us in the plot of the story. That, in fact, commences only with the ruin, and the almost immediate death, of the besotted spendthrift. At the epoch of John's return home, he had suffered even much more in mind and character than in prospects. His residence in his uncle's house had necessarily tended to demoralize his excellent nature; the seductive charms of one of his illegitimate cousins, a certain Maggy Nowlan, had filled him with an unholy passion; and now, by the corruption of situation and habits, notwithstanding the early good promise of a pious education, he already stood on the brink of depravity. In this condition his wavering virtue, his temptations, and his internal struggles of conscience, are very powerfully described. In the conflict, his better feelings prevail: he shakes off the dangerous influence of his beautiful cousin; and he eagerly renews his studies and his preparation for the sacred profession, to which he had originally been devoted. But his cousin thus left, after her father's ruin, without principle or guidance, in destitution and in the hands of a profligate mother, falls an easy prey to a seducer, and sinks to the lowest depths of infamy: her early love to the young priest being previously changed, on its repulse, into all the hatred which woman, slighted and vicious, can cherish.

After these "passages," time rolls on, and several years are supposed to have elapsed, when the scene somewhat changes; and John's far heavier trials commence. By a very common device with story-wrights, some new and important actors are brought upon the stage, and introduced at the hearth of the Nowlans. Mr. Long, a widowed and childless gentleman of large fortune, with a nephew and a niece, his adopted heirs, Mr. Frank, and Miss Letty Adams, are overtaken by a violent thunder storm, while employed in sketching some of the wild and beautiful mountain views in the vicinity of the Nowlans' farm. The uncle is rapidly borne by his terrified horse to the edge of a dangerous quarry, where his life is saved by the intrepidity of John, (now a priest); and the whole party afterwards take shelter in the cottage of the Nowlans. Here Mr. Long's gratitude, and the favourable impression which he receives of his humble entertainers, lead to farther intercourse; and the young priest and his sister, Peggy, become guests for a season at Long Hall.

This is the commencement of a tragedy, of which Peggy, and John, and Miss Letty, are the victims, and Mr. Frank, the ruthless instrument. Suddenly removed from his cottage chamber, and his dry classical and theological studies, to an elegant man

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