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For bagpipe and fiddle
And footing it featly,
The lasses trip neatly,
The glass for the old heart,
Let strong waters and ale flow,
The song and the tale go
So gaily pass over
The last of October,
'Twill be sweet to remember
When wake, next November, Our happy hearts' muster on Allhallow-E'en. Amongst the company was a little man, whom nobody seemed to know, yet he made himself very much at his ease. I first noticed him in the great hall, watching the dancers with a quiet wonder through every evolution; inspecting the divers for shillings, and mechanically opening and shutting his mouth, as if registering each snap at the apple on the twirling-cross; and all the while he spoke not a word, nor moved from his seat near the fire, till he followed us back on the invitation of Uncle Saul. Let me describe this little man for you. I will begin with his head. In shape, it resembled a pear, with the larger end downward, which was represented by a pair of fat, juicy cheeks, that hung over a white cravat, wrapped pudding.wise around his thick, short neck. His eyes were round, and somewbat protruding, with a leaden, sleepy stare ; his forehead rose conically, and bald, and over his whole face was a flush that spoke eloquently of London porter ; while here and there an erubescent pimple bloomed out, whose parentage was, beyond all question, a dash of brandy, or “cold without." His body was punchy and corpulent, and covered with a yellow waistcoat, surmounted by a blue coat, with brass buttons ; dark inexpressibles clothed his upper limbs, and leggings of the same colour were buttoned over his lower. "Come, Mr. Tupps," said my Uncle Saul, “what will you take?—this is excellent whisky, or perhaps you prefer the brandy." Tupps brightened up. “ The brandy, if you please, Mr. Slingsby; I rayther prefer it --they say 'tis good for the stomach. No sugar, thank you, sir, but just a leetle shade of cold water.” The name “Tupps” at once solved the mystery of the little man's presence, for Saul had told me that he sold his wool in the morning to a Lancashire buyer of that name; and the little gentleman's dialect now assured me that I had the professional wool-gatherer before me.
Songs, sentiments, charades, and forfeits, having each in turn contributed to the general entertainment, at length some mischief-loving spirit put it into the heart of Saul to tamper with Mr. Tupps' taciturnity. Mr. Tupps, the company are waiting for your song." “Well, I'm sure, sir,” said Tupps, “I don't know now as how I ever sung a song in my lifetime.” “Salt and water for Mr. Tupps,” cried Saul. “Nay, nay, Mr. Slingsby, if a toast or a sentiment will do .” “Well, then, Mr. Tupps, pray let us have it.” Tupps replenished his glass, turned up his eyes to the ceiling, and then looking pleasantly round him, said, as be raised his glass, “ A dry fleece and a wet skin. Gentlemen and ladies, your very good healths_all.” A roar of laughter followed this professional sentiment. But Saul was at the little man again. “Upon my word, Mr. Tupps, that's being rather hard on the graziers ; I think, however, that you are entitled to rely upon it in mitigation of punishment, and we shall be content
to dispense with one-half of the penalty. Which will you prefer, the salt or the water?" "That's Hobson's choice, sir; I'm blest if I know which to choose. Well, sir, I'll tell you a story, if you please.” “ Bravo!” said Saul.
“ Now, then, Mr. Tupps, we're all attention.”
“Well, then, gentlemen,” said Tupps, after he had cleared his throat with a cough, and then moistened it with a gulp of brandy-and-water, “I shall relate to you an adventure which once befel myself in this country, and which I shall ever look upon as a most extraordinary and providential escape. It is now over six years since I was travelling one evening in the West of Ireland, on my way to the fair of Ballybeg, which you all know is a great wool fair. There was no regular conveyance to the town, and I had hired a car at the village where the stage-coach had set me down. The road was wild and lonely, winding through a mountain-gorge, and I confess that I did not feel altogether at my ease as I sat with my back defencelessly turned to the tattered wretch who drove me, and to whom a guinea would be sufficient temptation to knock me on the head. I had a considerable sum of money about me, and my mind involuntarily recurred to all the stories of murders and robberies in Ireland, which one reads of every day in the papers. One hears a great deal, gentlemen, about the good old times,' but, for my part, I think that in many respects they might better be called the bad old times. Roads were bad, travelling was bad, inns were bad. A man could not travel a hundred miles on his lawful calling in less than two or three days, and was obliged to take pistols and blunderbusses, and the Lord knows what, about him, as ten to one he would fall in with some Jack Sheppard or Dick Turpin by the way, who was sure to ease him of his purse, and might slit his throat into the bargain. But give me our own times—they are the real “good times, Free-trade, a big loaf, fine inns and railroads ; ay, the railroads, gentlemen, they are the grandest invention of the age. A man can now travel his couple of hundred miles between breakfast and dinner, without losing his time changing horses every ten miles, or his money paying guards and coachmen. And then, you're so safe. To be sure you sometimes run the risk of being walked into by a runaway train, or blown up by a bursting boiler; but what is that compared to the danger which one often was in, even when I was a boy, of being encountered by highwaymen on some lonely common, having your pockets turned inside out, and your brains blown about your ears before you had time to bless yourself. He would be a smart, as well as a bold fellow, now-a-days, who would hop over a railway-fence of a dark night, and step into the middle of the line to lie in wait for the train, and bid it • stand and deliver,' as it comes tearing down upon him, puffing smoke and spitting fire. Well, gentlemen, to come back to my story, I was amusing myself with such pleasant thoughts as these, and, to confess the truth, they did not help much to make my mind easier. The sun had set, and the night was coming on very dark. Occasionally we passed some fellow loitering on the road side I'm sure no good purpose brought him out at such an hour and the driver, which I thought very suspicious, was sure to know him, and salute him with God save you, Mick,' or 'Good night, Paddy.' At last, just as we turned an angle of the road at a little grove of fir-trees, two men jumped out over the ditch and ordered the driver to stop. I desired him to whip on as fast as he could, but the rascal drew up his horse in a moment. Now, ladies, you can fancy that this was enough to make any man nervous. They were stout, wicked-looking young chaps, with big sticks in their hands; and I could see, dark as the night was, something sticking out of the breast of one of their coats, that I could swear was a pistol. How many miles is it to Ballybeg?' asked the fellow with the pocket pistol. Just two from the cross-roads below there, your honour,' replied the carman. • Well, my lad, you must give us a lift in-the gentleman will make no objection.' Och! not the laste in life sir,' said the rascal, without as much as asking my leave— Up with ye, gentlemen.' So up they got and no mistake, the fellow with the pocket-pistol beside me, and the other beside the driver. I'm blest if I was not all over in a swither when I felt the fellow's breath upon me, and knew how completely I was in his power. Well, he soon began to question me, asking where I came from, what was my business, and where I meant to stop for the night? You may be sure I gave him as little information as possible, and I never felt more relieved in the whole course of my life than when we drew up at the inn at Ballybeg. The house was a small one, and it was very crowded, so I could with difficulty get accommodation, being obliged to take a bed in a double-bedded room. As I came back to have my bag fetched up, I caught a sight of the two fellows who travelled with me in conversation with the car-driver, and I heard him say, "Oh never fear, them sort of chaps has money enough in their pockets, I'll be bound, if a body could only get a sight of it;' these were the very words, for I shall never forget them. Well, I went into the travellers'-room, and having got a bit of something comfortable for supper, and a glass or two of grog-they had no brandy in the house, gentlemen-I went up to my bed-room. I don't know how it was, but I felt very nervous and uncomfortable, for I couldn't get the thoughts of the two ill-looking fellows out of my head. At last I went to bed, but I took care to put my pocket-book under my pillow, and left the candle lighting. I might as well have not gone to bed, for I could not get a wink of sleep; and I no sooner closed my eyes than I fancied the chap with the pocket-pistol was fumbling under my pillow for my pocketbook. I continued tumbling and turning in this way, I don't know how long, but I'm sure it could not be far from midnight, when the door opened, and what was my horror to see the two desperadoes entering on tip-toe. They looked about the room, and one of them stepped up to my bed-side and peered into my face. I pretended, you may be sure, to be fast asleep, but I saw him plainly enough give a knowing wink and a smile to the other, and whisper, "The very man, by Jupiter, and he's fast asleep.' He then examined the window, and I have no doubt in the world they intended to have got away through it after baving robbed me. The other fellow had his back turned to me, but I saw him taking the pistol from his breast and lay it on the table. • That driver is a prime lad,' said he, 'I got a full charge of the right sort from him. That's lucky,' said the other, and now to business ; the house is quiet, and 'tis just the time for taking notes.? Ladies and gentlemen, I felt that the critical moment which was to decide my fate had arrived. I seized my pocket-book, sprang out of bed, and flinging my inexpressibles across my arm, I darted out of the door, which I closed after me, and gained the kitchen, I know not how, in safety. My first notion was to fly from the house, but the rain was coming down in torrents, and I would be certain to lose my life if I went out half-naked in the wet and cold. Fortunately I saw a settle-bed in the corner which was unoccupied. I locked the door, stirred the fire, and threw myself in the settle, holding my pocket-book in one hand and my inexpressibles in the other, to be prepared for any emergency. Strange to say, I fell asleep, in spite of all my endeavours to keep awake. At length I was aroused by a violent knocking at the door, anıl a woman's voice calling out, • The divil take you, Lanty, what's come over you at all, to be locking yourself in that-a-way?. Open the door, I tell you.' I rose, and found the day had just broken; so, slipping on my inexpressibles, I opened the door, and the housemaid bolted in upon me. Wisha, the divil take Oh, the Lord between us an' harm! who are you at all?' cried the girl, starting back. I explained to her that I had come down to sleep in the kitchen, as I had a great objection to occupy a room with strangers, and begged her to step up to No. 15, and fetch me my clothes. Off she went, and returned in a few moments with my apparel, saying,
Why, sir, there's nobody at all in the room; the two gentlemen that slept in the big bed went away just now.' Well, you may be sure I felt thankful for my extraordinary deliverance from the villains who, it was plain enough, had decamped before any one was stirring, having the fear of the bridewell before their eyes. I returned to the room and finished my sleep; but I thought it the wisest course to say nothing about what happened in the night, as the landlord might say I was injuring his house, and bring me into trouble. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I think you will agree with me in saying this was a very singular adventure.”
During Mr. Tupps's narrative, his auditory were all attention; but had any one looked at Bishop or myself they would have seen amazement depicted on every feature of our faces. Jack now advanced towards Mr. Tupps, and, beckoning me forward, we stood before him. Looking fixedly in his face, Jack said, “Pray, Mr. Tupps, did you ever see us before ?" The little man looked long and bewilderedly in our faces. At length he said, “Well, I'm blest now—no, it
can't be-yes, it is. Why, upon my credit, you are very like the fellows_ahem! I beg pardon, the individuals--who thought to-a--who travelled into Ballybeg with me.” “ The very identical fellows, Mr. Tupps, as you are pleased to call us—wicked-looking fellows-ill-looking dogs. Eh? sir.” • Well
, but, gentlemen, I really did not know you were present; besides, you had terrible beards and whiskers then, and you wore no shirt-collars. But, indeed, I can't under. stand the thing at all. Were you not really highwaymen?”, “Pray, sir, say that again,” said Jack, looking most comically ferocious; “I did not exactly hear the word you made use of.” “Nay, sir, I mean no offence, I assure you ; but, perhaps, you'll be so kind as to explain the matter, for I'm blest if I know what to think." “ That's easily done. "My friend and myself were making the tour of the western counties on foot, and were fortunate enough to meet your car, so as to get a • lift' into Ballybeg. The only room left at the inn was the one in which we were all put, and having paid our bill at night, we were off in the morning by daybreak. I confess we were quite unable to account for your bolting so suddenly out of the room, but we thought you had been asleep, and had gone out in a fit of somnambulisin.” “Well, well, but what do you say about your conversation with the car-driver ?". “Why, he was complaining that you declined to give him any gratuity." "And so I because he took you up without my leave. What did you mean by saying that the driver had given you a charge of the right sort ?" "Oh, the fellow was grateful for a few shillings we gave him, and put me in the way of filling my pocket-pistol' with some genuine potheen whiskey.” • Dear, dear! how strange. Well, there's but one thing more which, if you can clear up, I shall admit that I wronged you. Why did you say that it was just the time for taking notes? Can you deny that you said these very words, sir?” “ Ha! ha! ha!” shouted Bishop, “Mr. Slingsby must explain that to you ; he is answerable for having unkennelled you." - That I will,” said I. “You must know, sir, that we were in the babit of keeping a journal of our tour, and made it a practice to note down whatever had occurred to us worthy of remark during the day. I assure you, Mr. Tupps, you occupied a very considerable portion of our diary that night."
The shame and confusion of Mr. Tupps was now complete. I thought he would have sunk into the earth. At length Uncle Saul, in pity to his sufferings, came to the rescue. “Upon my word, Mr. Tupps, I do not at all wonder at your having fallen into the mistake you did. I am sure I should have been very much frightened if I were in your place. You showed admirable presence of mind to decamp with your baggage, and in good order. And now I will give you a song myself, and you must all
fill your glasses to pledge me in the toasts and join in the chorus.”
Here's to those round our bosoms entwining,
The sun-light of life's cloudy sky-
That flashes from beauty's bright eye.
Illumines our goblet to night,
And soon it runs sparkling in light.
Here's to those round our bosoms entwining,
Be wound round our hearts, as to-night.
To night o'er our deep-flowing bowl,
Here's to each dear-loved friend of our soul
Yes, the friends that still fondly will cheer us,
Like moon-beams when sinks the sun's ray,
And the sunshine of love fades away.
May we still find them true as to-day.
Here's to those in climes distant delaying,
Bright gems from our crown rent away;
Till they cheer us again with their ray.
Of the fond and the true that have died,
And a sigh o'er the true that have died ! So ended our “ Allhallow-E’en," and I am again at home in my sanctum; and as it is “just the time for taking notes," I have indicted this somewhat lengthy epistle to you, dear Anthony, to show you that there is some remnant of the good old fashions still lingering amongst us. And now good night-I might alınost say good morning : for the hand of the dial is close to midnight. I wish you and Maga a happy November.
Thine, as always, dear Anthony,
JONATHAN FREKE SLINGSBY. To Anthony Poplar, Esq.