It was Sunday morning, and a fine day in autumn; the bells of Hereford
Cathedral rang, and all the world, smartly dressed, were flocking to
"Mrs. Hill! Mrs. Hill!--Phoebe! Phoebe! There's the cathedral bell, I
say, and neither of you ready for church, and I a verger," cried Mr.
Hill, the tanner, as he stood at the bottom of his own staircase. "I'm
ready, papa," replied Phoebe; and down she came, looking so clean, so
fresh, and so gay, that her stern father's brows unbent, and he could
only say to her, as she was drawing on a new pair of gloves, "Child, you
ought to have had those gloves on before this time of day."
"Before this time of day!" cried Mrs. Hill, who was now coming downstairs
completely equipped--"before this time of day! She should know better, I
say, than to put on those gloves at all: more especially when going to
"The gloves are very good gloves, as far as I see," replied Mr. Hill.
"But no matter now. It is more fitting that we should be in proper time
in our pew, to set an example, as becomes us, than to stand here talking
of gloves and nonsense."
He offered his wife and daughter each an arm, and set out for the
cathedral; but Phoebe was too busy in drawing on her new gloves, and her
mother was too angry at the sight of them, to accept of Mr. Hill's
courtesy. "What I say is always nonsense, I know, Mr. Hill," resumed the
matron: "but I can see as far into a millstone as other folks. Was it
not I that first gave you a hint of what became of the great dog that we
lost out of our tan-yard last winter? And was it not I who first took
notice to you, Mr. Hill, verger as you are, of the hole under the
foundation of the cathedral? Was it not, I ask you, Mr. Hill?"
"But, my dear Mrs. Hill, what has all this to do with Phoebe's gloves?"
"Are you blind, Mr. Hill? Don't you see that they are Limerick gloves?"
"What of that?" said Mr. Hill, still preserving his composure, as it was
his custom to do as long as he could, when he saw his wife was ruffled.
"What of that, Mr. Hill! why, don't you know that Limerick is in Ireland,
"With all my heart, my dear."
"Yes, and with all your heart, I suppose, Mr. Hill, you would see our
cathedral blown up, some fair day or other, and your own daughter married
to the person that did it; and you a verger, Mr. Hill."
"God forbid!" cried Mr, Hill; and he stopped short and settled his wig.
Presently recovering himself, he added, "But, Mrs. Hill, the cathedral is
not yet blown up; and our Phoebe is not yet married."
"No; but what of that, Mr. Hill? Forewarned is forearmed, as I told you
before your dog was gone; but you would not believe me, and you see how
it turned out in that case; and so it will in this case, you'll see, Mr.
"But you puzzle and frighten me out of my wits, Mrs. Hill," said the
verger, again settling his wig. "_In that case and in this case_! I
can't understand a syllable of what you've been saying to me this half-
hour. In plain English, what is there the matter about Phoebe's gloves?"
"In plain English, then, Mr. Hill, since you can understand nothing else,
please to ask your daughter Phoebe who gave her those gloves. Phoebe,
who gave you those gloves?"
"I wish they were burnt," said the husband, whose patience could endure
no longer. "Who gave you those cursed gloves, Phoebe?"
"Papa," answered Phoebe, in a low voice, "they were a present from Mr.
"The Irish glover!" cried Mr. Hill, with a look of terror.
"Yes," resumed the mother; "very true, Mr. Hill, I assure you. Now, you
see, I had my reasons."
"Take off the gloves directly: I order you, Phoebe," said her father, in
his most peremptory tone. "I took a mortal dislike to that Mr. Brian
O'Neill the first time I ever saw him. He's an Irishman, and that's
enough, and too much for me. Off with the gloves, Phoebe! When I order
a thing, it must be done."
Phoebe seemed to find some difficulty in getting off the gloves, and
gently urged that she could not well go into the cathedral without them.
This objection was immediately removed by her mother's pulling from her
pocket a pair of mittens, which had once been brown, and once been whole,
but which were now rent in sundry places; and which, having been long
stretched by one who was twice the size of Phoebe, now hung in huge
wrinkles upon her well-turned arms.
"But, papa," said Phoebe, "why should we take a dislike to him because he
is an Irishman? Cannot an Irishman be a good man?"
The verger made no answer to this question, but a few seconds after it
was put to him observed that the cathedral bell had just done ringing;
and, as they were now got to the church door, Mrs. Hill, with a
significant look at Phoebe, remarked that it was no proper time to talk
or think of good men, or bad men, or Irishmen, or any men, especially for
a verger's daughter.
We pass over in silence the many conjectures that were made by several of
the congregation concerning the reason why Miss Phoebe Hill should appear
in such a shameful shabby pair of gloves on a Sunday. After service was
ended, the verger went, with great mystery, to examine the hole under the
foundation of the cathedral; and Mrs. Hill repaired, with the grocer's
and the stationer's ladies, to take a walk in the Close, where she
boasted to all her female acquaintance, whom she called her friends, of
her maternal discretion in prevailing upon Mr. Hill to forbid her
daughter Phoebe to wear the Limerick gloves.
In the meantime, Phoebe walked pensively homewards, endeavouring to
discover why her father should take a mortal dislike to a man at first
sight, merely because he was an Irishman: and why her mother had talked
so much of the great dog which had been lost last year out of the tan-
yard; and of the hole under the foundation of the cathedral! "What has
all this to do with my Limerick gloves?" thought she. The more she
thought, the less connection she could perceive between these things: for
as she had not taken a dislike to Mr. Brian O'Neill at first sight,
because he was an Irishman, she could not think it quite reasonable to
suspect him of making away with her father's dog, nor yet of a design to
blow up Hereford Cathedral. As she was pondering upon these matters, she
came within sight of the ruins of a poor woman's house, which a few
months before this time had been burnt down. She recollected that her
first acquaintance with her lover began at the time of this fire; and she
thought that the courage and humanity he showed, in exerting himself to
save this unfortunate woman and her children, justified her notion of the
possibility that an Irishman might be a good man.
The name of the poor woman whose house had been burnt down was Smith: she
was a widow, and she now lived at the extremity of a narrow lane in a
wretched habitation. Why Phoebe thought of her with more concern than
usual at this instant we need not examine, but she did; and, reproaching
herself for having neglected it for some weeks past, she resolved to go
directly to see the widow Smith, and to give her a crown which she had
long had in her pocket, with which she had intended to have bought play
It happened that the first person she saw in the poor widow's kitchen was
the identical Mr. O'Neill. "I did not expect to see anybody here but
you, Mrs. Smith," said Phoebe, blushing.
"So much the greater the pleasure of the meeting; to me, I mean, Miss
Hill," said O'Neill, rising, and putting down a little boy, with whom he
had been playing. Phoebe went on talking to the poor woman; and, after
slipping the crown into her hand, said she would call again. O'Neill,
surprised at the change in her manner, followed her when she left the
house, and said, "It would be a great misfortune to me to have done
anything to offend Miss Hill, especially if I could not conceive how or
what it was, which is my case at this present speaking." And as the
spruce glover spoke, he fixed his eyes upon Phoebe's ragged gloves. She
drew them up in vain; and then said, with her natural simplicity and
gentleness, "You have not done anything to offend me, Mr. O'Neill; but
you are some way or other displeasing to my father and mother, and they
have forbid me to wear the Limerick gloves."
"And sure Miss Hill would not be after changing her opinion of her humble
servant for no reason in life but because her father and mother, who have
taken a prejudice against him, are a little contrary."
"No," replied Phoebe; "I should not change my opinion without any reason;
but I have not yet had time to fix my opinion of you, Mr. O'Neill."
"To let you know a piece of my mind, then, my dear Miss Hill," resumed
he, "the more contrary they are, the more pride and joy it would give me
to win and wear you, in spite of 'em all; and if without a farthing in
your pocket, so much the more I should rejoice in the opportunity of
proving to your dear self, and all else whom it may consarn, that Brian
O'Neill is no fortune-hunter, and scorns them that are so narrow-minded
as to think that no other kind of cattle but them there fortune-hunters
can come out of all Ireland. So, my dear Phoebe, now we understand one
another, I hope you will not be paining my eyes any longer with the sight
of these odious brown bags, which are not fit to be worn by any Christian
arms, to say nothing of Miss Hill's, which are the handsomest, without
any compliment, that ever I saw, and, to my mind, would become a pair of
Limerick gloves beyond anything: and I expect she'll show her generosity
and proper spirit by putting them on immediately."
"You expect, sir!" repeated Miss Hill, with a look of more indignation
than her gentle countenance had ever before been seen to assume.
"Expect!" "If he had said hope," thought she, "it would have been
another thing: but expect! what right has he to expect?"
Now Miss Hill, unfortunately, was not sufficiently acquainted with the
Irish idiom to know that to expect, in Ireland, is the same thing as to
hope in England; and, when her Irish admirer said "I expect," he meant
only, in plain English, "I hope." But thus it is that a poor Irishman,
often, for want of understanding the niceties of the English language,
says the rudest when he means to say the civillest things imaginable.
Miss Hill's feelings were so much hurt by this unlucky "I expect" that
the whole of his speech, which had before made some favourable impression
upon her, now lost its effect: and she replied with proper spirit, as she
thought, "You expect a great deal too much, Mr. O'Neill; and more than
ever I gave you reason to do. It would be neither pleasure nor pride to
me to be won and worn, as you were pleased to say, in spite of them all;
and to be thrown, without a farthing in my pocket, upon the protection of
one who expects so much at first setting out.--So I assure you, sir,
whatever you may expect, I shall not put on the Limerick gloves."
Mr. O'Neill was not without his share of pride and proper spirit; nay, he
had, it must be confessed, in common with some others of his countrymen,
an improper share of pride and spirit. Fired by the lady's coldness, he
poured forth a volley of reproaches; and ended by wishing, as he said, a
good morning, for ever and ever, to one who could change her opinion,
point blank, like the weathercock. "I am, miss, your most obedient; and
I expect you'll never think no more of poor Brian O'Neill and the
If he had not been in too great a passion to observe anything, poor Brian
O'Neill would have found out that Phoebe was not a weathercock: but he
left her abruptly, and hurried away, imagining all the while that it was
Phoebe, and not himself, who was in a rage. Thus, to the horseman who is
galloping at full speed, the hedges, trees, and houses seem rapidly to
recede, whilst, in reality, they never move from their places. It is he
that flies from them, and not they from him.
On Monday morning Miss Jenny Brown, the perfumer's daughter, came to pay
Phoebe a morning visit, with face of busy joy.
"So, my dear!" said she: "fine doings in Hereford! But what makes you
look so downcast? To be sure you are invited, as well as the rest of
"Invited where?" cried Mrs. Hill, who was present, and who could never
endure to hear of an invitation in which she was not included. "Invited
where, pray, Miss Jenny?"
"La! have not you heard? Why, we all took it for granted that you and
Miss Phoebe would have been the first and foremost to have been asked to
Mr. O'Neill's ball."
"Ball!" cried Mrs. Hill; and luckily saved Phoebe, who was in some
agitation, the trouble of speaking. "Why, this is a mighty sudden thing:
I never heard a tittle of it before."
"Well, this is really extraordinary! And, Phoebe, have you not received
a pair of Limerick gloves?"
"Yes, I have," said Phoebe, "but what then? What have my Limerick gloves
to do with the ball?"
"A great deal," replied Jenny. "Don't you know that a pair of Limerick
gloves is, as one may say, a ticket to this ball? for every lady that has
been asked has had a pair sent to her along with the card; and I believe
as many as twenty, besides myself, have been asked this morning."
Jenny then produced her new pair of Limerick gloves, and as she tried
them on, and showed how well they fitted, she counted up the names of the
ladies who, to her knowledge, were to be at this ball. When she had
finished the catalogue, she expatiated upon the grand preparations which
it was said the widow O'Neill, Mr. O'Neill's mother, was making for the
supper, and concluded by condoling with Mrs. Hill for her misfortune in
not having been invited. Jenny took her leave to get her dress in
readiness: "for," added she, "Mr. O'Neill has engaged me to open the ball
in case Phoebe does not go; but I suppose she will cheer up and go, as
she has a pair of Limerick gloves as well as the rest of us."
There was a silence for some minutes after Jenny's departure, which was
broken by Phoebe, who told her mother that, early in the morning, a note
had been brought to her, which she had returned unopened, because she
knew, from the handwriting of the direction, that it came from Mr.
We must observe that Phoebe had already told her mother of her meeting
with this gentleman at the poor widow's, and of all that had passed
between them afterwards. This openness on her part had softened the
heart of Mrs. Hill, who was really inclined to be good-natured, provided
people would allow that she had more penetration than any one else in
Hereford. She was, moreover, a good deal piqued and alarmed by the idea
that the perfumer's daughter might rival and outshine her own. Whilst
she had thought herself sure of Mr. O'Neill's attachment to Phoebe, she
had looked higher, especially as she was persuaded by the perfumer's lady
to think that an Irishman could not but be a bad match; but now she began
to suspect that the perfumer's lady had changed her opinion of Irishmen,
since she did not object to her own Jenny's leading up the ball at Mr.
All these thoughts passed rapidly in the mother's mind, and, with her
fear of losing an admirer for her Phoebe, the value of that admirer
suddenly rose in her estimation. Thus, at an auction, if a lot is going
to be knocked down to a lady who is the only person that has bid for it,
even she feels discontented, and despises that which nobody covets; but
if, as the hammer is falling, many voices answer to the question, "Who
bids more?" then her anxiety to secure the prize suddenly rises, and,
rather than be outbid, she will give far beyond its value.
"Why, child," said Mrs. Hill, "since you have a pair of Limerick gloves;
and since certainly that note was an invitation to us to this ball; and
since it is much more fitting that you should open the ball than Jenny
Brown; and since, after all, it was very handsome and genteel of the
young man to say he would take you without a farthing in your pocket,
which shows that those were misinformed who talked of him as an Irish
adventurer; and since we are not certain 'twas he made away with the dog,
although he said its barking was a great nuisance; there is no great
reason to suppose he was the person who made the hole under the
foundation of the cathedral, or that he could have such a wicked thought
as to blow it up; and since he must be in a very good way of business to
be able to afford giving away four or five guineas' worth of Limerick
gloves, and balls and suppers; and since, after all, it is no fault of
his to be an Irishman, I give it as my vote and opinion, my dear, that
you put on your Limerick gloves and go to this ball; and I'll go and
speak to your father, and bring him round to our opinion, and then I'll
pay the morning visit I owe to the widow O'Neill and make up your quarrel
with Brian. Love quarrels are easy to make up, you know, and then we
shall have things all upon velvet again, and Jenny Brown need not come
with her hypocritical condoling face to us any more."
After running this speech glibly off, Mrs. Hill, without waiting to hear
a syllable from poor Phoebe, trotted off in search of her consort. It
was not, however, quite so easy a task as his wife expected, to bring Mr.
Hill round to her opinion. He was slow in declaring himself of any
opinion; but when once he had said a thing, there was but little chance
of altering his notions. On this occasion Mr. Hill was doubly bound to
his prejudice against our unlucky Irishman; for he had mentioned with
great solemnity at the club which he frequented the grand affair of the
hole under the foundation of the cathedral, and his suspicions that there
was a design to blow it up. Several of the club had laughed at this
idea; others, who supposed that Mr. O'Neill was a Roman Catholic, and who
had a confused notion that a Roman Catholic must be a very wicked,
dangerous being, thought that there might be a great deal in the verger's
suggestions, and observed that a very watchful eye ought to be kept upon
this Irish glover, who had come to settle at Hereford nobody knew why,
and who seemed to have money at command nobody knew how.
The news of this ball sounded to Mr. Hill's prejudiced imagination like
the news of a conspiracy. "Ay! ay!" thought he; "the Irishman is cunning
enough! But we shall be too many for him: he wants to throw all the good
sober folks of Hereford off their guard by feasting, and dancing, and
carousing, I take it, and so to perpetrate his evil design when it is
least suspected; but we shall be prepared for him, fools as he takes us
plain Englishmen to be, I warrant."
In consequence of these most shrewd cogitations, our verger silenced his
wife with a peremptory nod when she came to persuade him to let Phoebe
put on the Limerick gloves and go to the ball. "To this ball she shall
not go, and I charge her not to put on those Limerick gloves as she
values my blessing," said Mr. Hill. "Please to tell her so, Mrs. Hill,
and trust to my judgment and discretion in all things, Mrs. Hill. Strange
work may be in Hereford yet: but I'll say no more; I must go and consult
with knowing men who are of my opinion."
He sallied forth, and Mrs. Hill was left in a state which only those who
are troubled with the disease of excessive curiosity can rightly
comprehend or compassionate. She hied her back to Phoebe, to whom she
announced her father's answer, and then went gossiping to all her female
acquaintance in Hereford, to tell them all that she knew, and all that
she did not know, and to endeavour to find out a secret where there was
none to be found.
There are trials of temper in all conditions, and no lady, in high or low
life, could endure them with a better grace than Phoebe. Whilst Mr. and
Mrs. Hill were busied abroad, there came to see Phoebe one of the widow
Smith's children. With artless expressions of gratitude to Phoebe this
little girl mixed the praises of O'Neill, who, she said, had been the
constant friend of her mother, and had given her money every week since
the fire happened. "Mammy loves him dearly for being so good-natured,"
continued the child; "and he has been good to other people as well as to
"To whom?" said Phoebe.
"To a poor man who has lodged for these few days past next door to us,"
replied the child; "I don't know his name rightly, but he is an Irishman,
and he goes out a-haymaking in the daytime along with a number of others.
He knew Mr. O'Neill in his own country, and he told mammy a great deal
about his goodness."
As the child finished these words, Phoebe took out of a drawer some
clothes, which she had made for the poor woman's children, and gave them
to the little girl. It happened that the Limerick gloves had been thrown
into this drawer; and Phoebe's favourable sentiments of the giver of
those gloves were revived by what she had just heard, and by the
confession Mrs. Hill had made, that she had no reasons, and but vague
suspicious, for thinking ill of him. She laid the gloves perfectly
smooth, and strewed over them, whilst the little girl went on talking of
Mr. O'Neill, the leaves of a rose which she had worn on Sunday.
Mr. Hill was all this time in deep conference with those prudent men of
Hereford who were of his own opinion, about the perilous hole under the
cathedral. The ominous circumstance of this ball was also considered,
the great expense at which the Irish glover lived, and his giving away
gloves, which was a sure sign he was not under any necessity to sell
them, and consequently a proof that, though he pretended to be a glover,
he was something wrong in disguise. Upon putting all these things
together, it was resolved by these over-wise politicians that the best
thing that could be done for Hereford, and the only possible means of
preventing the immediate destruction of its cathedral, would be to take
Mr. O'Neill into custody. Upon recollection, however, it was perceived
that there was no legal ground on which he could be attacked. At length,
after consulting an attorney, they devised what they thought an admirable
mode of proceeding.
Our Irish hero had not that punctuality which English tradesmen usually
observe in the payment of bills; he had, the preceding year, run up a
long bill with a grocer in Hereford, and, as he had not at Christmas cash
in hand to pay it, he had given a note, payable six months after date.
The grocer, at Mr. Hill's request, made over the note to him, and it was
determined that the money should be demanded, as it was now due, and
that, if it was not paid directly, O'Neill should be that night arrested.
How Mr. Hill made the discovery of this debt to the grocer agree with his
former notion that the Irish glover had always money at command we cannot
well conceive, but anger and prejudice will swallow down the grossest
contradictions without difficulty.
When Mr. Hill's clerk went to demand payment of the note, O'Neill's head
was full of the ball which he was to give that evening. He was much
surprised at the unexpected appearance of the note: he had not ready
money by him to pay it; and after swearing a good deal at the clerk, and
complaining of this ungenerous and ungentleman-like behaviour in the
grocer and the tanner, he told the clerk to be gone, and not to be
bothering him at such an unseasonable time: that he could not have the
money then, and did not deserve to have it at all.
This language and conduct were rather new to the English clerk's
mercantile ears: we cannot wonder that it should seem to him, as he said
to his master, more the language of a madman than a man of business. This
want of punctuality in money transactions, and this mode of treating
contracts as matters of favour and affection, might not have damned the
fame of our hero in his own country, where such conduct is, alas! too
common; but he was now in a kingdom where the manners and customs are so
directly opposite, that he could meet with no allowance for his national
faults. It would be well for his countrymen if they were made, even by a
few mortifications, somewhat sensible of this important difference in the
habits of Irish and English traders before they come to settle in
But to proceed with our story. On the night of Mr. O'Neill's grand ball,
as he was seeing his fair partner, the perfumer's daughter, safe home, he
felt himself tapped on the shoulder by no friendly hand. When he was
told that he was the king's prisoner, he vociferated with sundry strange
oaths, which we forbear to repeat. "No, I am not the king's prisoner! I
am the prisoner of that shabby, rascally tanner, Jonathan Hill. None but
he would arrest a gentleman in this way, for a trifle not worth
Miss Jenny Brown screamed when she found herself under the protection of
a man who was arrested; and, what between her screams and his oaths,
there was such a disturbance that a mob gathered.
Among this mob there was a party of Irish haymakers, who, after returning
late from a hard day's work, had been drinking in a neighbouring
ale-house. With one accord they took part with their countryman, and
would have rescued him from the civil officers with all the pleasure in
life if he had not fortunately possessed just sufficient sense and
command of himself to restrain their party spirit, and to forbid them, as
they valued his life and reputation, to interfere, by word or deed, in
He then despatched one of the haymakers home to his mother, to inform her
of what had happened, and to request that she would get somebody to be
bail for him as soon as possible, as the officers said they could not let
him out of their sight till he was bailed by substantial people, or till
the debt was discharged.
The widow O'Neill was just putting out the candles in the ball-room when
this news of her son's arrest was brought to her. We pass over Hibernian
exclamations: she consoled her pride by reflecting that it would
certainly be the most easy thing imaginable to procure bail for Mr.
O'Neill in Hereford, where he had so many friends who had just been
dancing at his house; but to dance at his house she found was one thing
and to be bail for him quite another. Each guest sent excuses, and the
widow O'Neill was astonished at what never fails to astonish everybody
when it happens to themselves. "Rather than let my son be detained in
this manner for a paltry debt," cried she, "I'd sell all I have within
half an hour to a pawnbroker." It was well no pawnbroker heard this
declaration: she was too warm to consider economy. She sent for a
pawnbroker, who lived in the same street, and, after pledging goods to
treble the amount of the debt, she obtained ready money for her son's
O'Neill, after being in custody for about an hour and a half, was set at
liberty upon the payment of his debt. As he passed by the cathedral in
his way home, he heard the clock strike; and he called to a man, who was
walking backwards and forwards in the churchyard, to ask whether it was
two or three that the clock struck. "Three," answered the man; "and, as
yet, all is safe."
O'Neill, whose head was full of other things, did not stop to inquire the
meaning of these last words. He little suspected that this man was a
watchman whom the over-vigilant verger had stationed there to guard the
Hereford Cathedral from his attacks. O'Neill little guessed that he had
been arrested merely to keep him from blowing up the cathedral this
night. The arrest had an excellent effect upon his mind, for he was a
young man of good sense: it made him resolve to retrench his expenses in
time, to live more like a glover and less like a gentleman; and to aim
more at establishing credit, and less at gaining popularity. He found,
from experience, that good friends will not pay bad debts.
On Thursday morning our verger rose in unusually good spirits,
congratulating himself upon the eminent service he had done to the city
of Hereford by his sagacity in discovering the foreign plot to blow up
the Cathedral, and by his dexterity in having the enemy held in custody,
at the very hour when the dreadful deed was to have been perpetrated. Mr.
Hill's knowing friends farther agreed it would be necessary to have a
guard that should sit up every night in the churchyard; and that as soon
as they could, by constantly watching the enemy's motions, procure any
information which the attorney should deem sufficient grounds for a legal
proceeding, they should lay the whole business before the mayor.
After arranging all this most judiciously and mysteriously with friends
who were exactly of his own opinion, Mr. Hill laid aside his dignity of
verger, and assuming his other character of a tanner, proceeded to his
tan-yard. What was his surprise and consternation, when he beheld his
great rick of oak bark levelled to the ground; the pieces of bark were
scattered far and wide, some over the close, some over the fields, and
some were seen swimming upon the water! No tongue, no pen, no muse can
describe the feelings of our tanner at this spectacle--feelings which
became the more violent from the absolute silence which he imposed on
himself upon this occasion. He instantly decided in his own mind that
this injury was perpetrated by O'Neill, in revenge for his arrest; and
went privately to the attorney to inquire what was to be done, on his
part, to secure legal vengeance.
The attorney unluckily--or at least, as Mr. Hill thought, unluckily--had
been sent for, half an hour before, by a gentleman at some distance from
Hereford, to draw up a will: so that our tanner was obliged to postpone
his legal operations.
We forbear to recount his return, and how many times he walked up and
down the close to view his scattered bark, and to estimate the damage
that had been done to him. At length that hour came which usually
suspends all passions by the more imperious power of appetite--the hour
of dinner: an hour of which it was never needful to remind Mr. Hill by
watch, clock, or dial; for he was blessed with a punctual appetite, and
powerful as punctual: so powerful, indeed, that it often excited the
spleen of his more genteel or less hungry wife. "Bless my stars! Mr.
Hill," she would oftentimes say, "I am really downright ashamed to see
you eat so much; and when company is to dine with us, I do wish you would
take a snack by way of a damper before dinner, that you may not look so
prodigious famishing and ungenteel."
Upon this hint, Mr. Hill commenced a practice, to which he ever
afterwards religiously adhered, of going, whether there was to be company
or no company, into the kitchen regularly every day, half an hour before
dinner, to take a slice from the roast or the boiled before it went up to
table. As he was this day, according to his custom, in the kitchen,
taking his snack by way of a damper, he heard the housemaid and the cook
talking about some wonderful fortune-teller, whom the housemaid had been
consulting. This fortune-teller was no less a personage than the
successor to Bampfylde Moore Carew, king of the gipsies, whose life and
adventures are probably in many, too many, of our readers' hands.
Bampfylde, the second king of the gipsies, assumed this title, in hopes
of becoming as famous, or as infamous, as his predecessor: he was now
holding his court in a wood near the town of Hereford, and numbers of
servant-maids and 'prentices went to consult him--nay, it was whispered
that he was resorted to, secretly, by some whose education might have
taught them better sense.
Numberless were the instances which our verger heard in his kitchen of
the supernatural skill of this cunning man; and whilst Mr. Hill ate his
snack with his wonted gravity, he revolved great designs in his secret
soul. Mrs. Hill was surprised, several times during dinner, to see her
consort put down his knife and fork, and meditate. "Gracious me, Mr.
Hill! what can have happened to you this day? What can you be thinking
of, Mr. Hill, that can make you forget what you have upon your plate?"
"Mrs. Hill," replied the thoughtful verger, "our grandmother Eve had too
much curiosity; and we all know it did not lead to good. What I am
thinking of will be known to you in due time, but not now, Mrs. Hill;
therefore, pray, no questions, or teasing, or pumping. What I think, I
think; what I say, I say; what I know, I know; and that is enough for you
to know at present: only this, Phoebe, you did very well not to put on
the Limerick gloves, child. What I know, I know. Things will turn out
just as I said from the first. What I say, I say; and what I think, I
think; and this is enough for you to know at present."
Having finished dinner with this solemn speech, Mr. Hill settled himself
in his arm-chair, to take his after-dinner's nap: and he dreamed of
blowing up cathedrals, and of oak bark floating upon the waters; and the
cathedral was, he thought, blown up by a man dressed in a pair of woman's
Limerick gloves, and the oak bark turned into mutton steaks, after which
his great dog Jowler was swimming; when, all on a sudden, as he was going
to beat Jowler for eating the bark transformed into mutton steaks, Jowler
became Bampfylde the Second, king of the gipsies; and putting a horse-
whip with a silver handle into Hill's hand, commanded him three times, in
a voice as loud as the town-crier's, to have O'Neill whipped through the
market-place of Hereford: but just as he was going to the window to see
this whipping, his wig fell off, and he awoke.
It was difficult, even for Mr. Hill's sagacity, to make sense of this
dream: but he had the wise art of always finding in his dreams something
that confirmed his waking determinations. Before he went to sleep, he
had half resolved to consult the king of the gipsies, in the absence of
the attorney; and his dream made him now wholly determined upon this
prudent step. "From Bampfylde the Second," thought he, "I shall learn
for certain who made the hole under the cathedral, who pulled down my
rick of bark, and who made away with my dog Jowler; and then I shall
swear examinations against O'Neill, without waiting for attorneys. I
will follow my own way in this business: I have always found my own way
So, when the dusk of the evening increased, our wise man set out towards
the wood to consult the cunning man. Bampfylde the Second, king of the
gipsies, resided in a sort of hut made of the branches of trees; the
verger stooped, but did not stoop low enough, as he entered this
temporary palace, and, whilst his body was almost bent double, his peruke
was caught upon a twig. From this awkward situation he was relieved by
the consort of the king; and he now beheld, by the light of some embers,
the person of his gipsy majesty, to whose sublime appearance this dim
light was so favourable that it struck a secret awe into our wise man's
soul; and, forgetting Hereford Cathedral, and oak bark, and Limerick
gloves, he stood for some seconds speechless. During this time, the
queen very dexterously disencumbered his pocket of all superfluous
articles. When he recovered his recollection, he put with great
solemnity the following queries to the king of the gipsies, and received
the following answers:--
"Do you know a dangerous Irishman of the name of O'Neill, who has come,
for purposes best known to himself, to settle at Hereford?"
"Yes, we know him well."
"Indeed! And what do you know of him?"
"That he is a dangerous Irishman."
"Right! And it was he, was it not, that pulled down, or caused to be
pulled down, my rick of oak bark?"
"And who was it that made away with my dog Jowler, that used to guard the
"It was the person that you suspect."
"And was it the person whom I suspect that made the hole under the
foundation of our cathedral?"
"The same, and no other."
"And for what purpose did he make that hole?"
"For a purpose that must not be named," replied the king of the gipsies,
nodding his head in a mysterious manner.
"But it may be named to me," cried the verger, "for I have found it out,
and I am one of the vergers; and is it not fit that a plot to blow up the
Hereford Cathedral should be known _to_ me, and _through_ me?"
"Now, take my word,
Wise men of Hereford,
None in safety may be,
Till the bad man doth flee."
These oracular verses, pronounced by Bampfylde with all the enthusiasm of
one who was inspired, had the desired effect upon our wise man; and he
left the presence of the king of the gipsies with a prodigiously high
opinion of his majesty's judgment and of his own, fully resolved to
impart, the next morning, to the mayor of Hereford his important
Now it happened that, during the time Mr. Hill was putting the foregoing
queries to Bampfylde the Second, there came to the door or entrance of
the audience chamber an Irish haymaker who wanted to consult the cunning
man about a little leathern purse which he had lost whilst he was making
hay in a field near Hereford. This haymaker was the same person who, as
we have related, spoke so advantageously of our hero O'Neill to the widow
Smith. As this man, whose name was Paddy M'Cormack, stood at the
entrance of the gipsies' hut, his attention was caught by the name of
O'Neill; and he lost not a word of all that pasted. He had reason to be
somewhat surprised at hearing Bampfylde assert it was O'Neill who had
pulled down the rick of bark. "By the holy poker!" said he to himself,
"the old fellow now is out there. I know more o' that matter than he
does--no offence to his majesty; he knows no more of my purse, I'll
engage now, than he does of this man's rick of bark and his dog: so I'll
keep my tester in my pocket, and not be giving it to this king o' the
gipsies, as they call him: who, as near as I can guess, is no better than
a cheat. But there is one secret which I can be telling this conjuror
himself: he shall not find it such an easy matter to do all what he
thinks; he shall not be after ruining an innocent countryman of my own
whilst Paddy M'Cormack has a tongue and brains."
Now, Paddy M'Cormack had the best reason possible for knowing that Mr.
O'Neill did not pull down Mr. Hill's rick of bark; it was M'Cormack
himself who, in the heat of his resentment for the insulting arrest of
his countryman in the streets of Hereford, had instigated his fellow
haymakers to this mischief; he headed them, and thought he was doing a
clever, spirited action.
There is a strange mixture of virtue and vice in the minds of the lower
class of Irish: or rather, a strange confusion in their ideas of right
and wrong, from want of proper education. As soon as poor Paddy found
out that his spirited action of pulling down the rick of bark was likely
to be the ruin of his countryman, he resolved to make all the amends in
his power for his folly--he went to collect his fellow haymakers, and
persuaded them to assist him this night in rebuilding what they had
They went to this work when everybody except themselves, as they thought,
was asleep in Hereford. They had just completed the stack, and were all
going away except Paddy, who was seated at the very top, finishing the
pile, when they heard a loud voice cry out, "Here they are! Watch!
Immediately all the haymakers who could, ran off as fast as possible. It
was the watch who had been sitting up at the cathedral who gave the
alarm. Paddy was taken from the top of the rick and lodged in the watch-
house till morning. "Since I'm to be rewarded this way for doing a good
action, sorrow take me," said he, "if they catch me doing another the
longest day ever I live."
Happy they who have in their neighbourhood such a magistrate as Mr.
Marshal! He was a man who, to an exact knowledge of the duties of his
office, joined the power of discovering truth from the midst of
contradictory evidence, and the happy art of soothing or laughing the
angry passions into good-humour. It was a common saying in Hereford that
no one ever came out of Justice Marshal's house as angry as he went into
Mr. Marshal had scarcely breakfasted when he was informed that Mr. Hill,
the verger, wanted to speak to him on business of the utmost importance.
Mr. Hill, the verger, was ushered in; and, with gloomy solemnity, took a
seat opposite to Mr. Marshal.
"Sad doings in Hereford, Mr. Marshal! Sad doings, sir."
"Sad doings? Why, I was told we had merry doings in Hereford. A ball
the night before last, as I heard."
"So much the worse, Mr. Marshal--so much the worse: as those think with
reason that see as far into things as I do."
"So much the better, Mr. Hill," said Mr. Marshal, laughing, "so much the
better: as those think with reason that see no farther into things than I
"But, sir," said the verger, still more solemnly, "this is no laughing
matter, nor time for laughing, begging your pardon. Why, sir, the night
of that there diabolical ball our Hereford Cathedral, sir, would have
been blown up--blown up from the foundation, if it had not been for me,
"Indeed, Mr. Verger! And pray how, and by whom, was the cathedral to be
blown up? and what was there diabolical in this ball?"
Here Mr. Hill let Mr. Marshal into the whole history of his early dislike
to O'Neill, and his shrewd suspicions of him the first moment he saw him
in Hereford: related in the most prolix manner all that the reader knows
already, and concluded by saying that, as he was now certain of his
facts, he was come to swear examinations against this villanous Irishman,
who, he hoped, would be speedily brought to justice, as he deserved.
"To justice he shall be brought, as he deserves," said Mr. Marshal; "but
before I write, and before you swear, will you have the goodness to
inform me how you have made yourself as certain, as you evidently are, of
what you call your facts?"
"Sir, that is a secret," replied our wise man, "which I shall trust to
you alone;" and he whispered into Mr. Marshal's ear that, his information
came from Bampfylde the Second, king of the gipsies.
Mr. Marshal instantly burst into laughter; then composing himself, said:
"My good sir, I am really glad that you have proceeded no farther in this
business; and that no one in Hereford, beside myself, knows that you were
on the point of swearing examinations against a man on the evidence of
Bampfylde the Second, king of the gipsies. My dear sir, it would be a
standing joke against you to the end of your days. A grave man like Mr.
Hill! and a verger too! Why you would be the laughing-stock of
Now Mr. Marshal well knew the character of the man to whom he was
talking, who, above all things on earth, dreaded to be laughed at. Mr.
Hill coloured all over his face, and, pushing back his wig by way of
settling it, showed that he blushed not only all over his face, but all
over his head.
"Why, Mr. Marshal, sir," said he, "as to my being laughed at, it is what
I did not look for, being, as there are, some men in Hereford to whom I
have mentioned that hole in the cathedral, who have thought it no
laughing matter, and who have been precisely of my own opinion
"But did you tell these gentlemen that you had been consulting the king
of the gipsies?"
"No, sir, no: I can't say that I did."
"Then I advise you, keep your own counsel, as I will."
Mr. Hill, whose imagination wavered between the hole in the cathedral and
his rick of bark on one side, and between his rick of bark and his dog
Jowler on the other, now began to talk of the dog, and now of the rick of
bark; and when he had exhausted all he had to say upon these subjects,
Mr. Marshal gently pulled him towards the window, and putting a spy-glass
into his hand, bade him look towards his own tan-yard, and tell him what
he saw. To his great surprise, Mr. Hill saw his rick of bark re-built.
"Why, it was not there last night," exclaimed he, rubbing his eyes. "Why,
some conjuror must have done this."
"No," replied Mr. Marshal, "no conjuror did it: but your friend Bampfylde
the Second, king of the gipsies, was the cause of its being re-built; and
here is the man who actually pulled it down, and who actually re-built
As he said these words Mr. Marshal opened the door of an adjoining room
and beckoned to the Irish haymaker, who had been taken into custody about
an hour before this time. The watch who took Paddy had called at Mr.
Hill's house to tell him what had happened, but Mr. Hill was not then at
It was with much surprise that the verger heard the simple truth from
this poor fellow; but no sooner was he convinced that O'Neill was
innocent as to this affair, than he recurred to his other ground of
suspicion, the loss of his dog.
The Irish haymaker now stepped forward, and, with a peculiar twist of the
hips and shoulders, which those only who have seen it can picture to
themselves, said, "Plase your honour's honour, I have a little word to
say too about the dog."
"Say it, then," said Mr. Marshal.
"Plase your honour, if I might expect to be forgiven, and let off for
pulling down the jontleman's stack, I might be able to tell him what I
know about the dog."
"If you can tell me anything about my dog," said the tanner, "I will
freely forgive you for pulling down the rick: especially as you have
built it up again. Speak the truth, now: did not O'Neill make away with
"Not at all, at all, plase your honour," replied the haymaker: "and the
truth of the matter is, I know nothing of the dog, good or bad; but I
know something of his collar, if your name, plase your honour, is Hill,
as I take it to be."
"My name is Hill: proceed," said the tanner, with great eagerness. "You
know something about the collar of my dog Jowler?"
"Plase your honour, this much I know, any way, that it is now, or was the
night before last, at the pawnbroker's there, below in town; for, plase
your honour, I was sent late at night (that night that Mr. O'Neill, long
life to him! was arrested) to the pawnbroker's for a Jew by Mrs. O'Neill,
poor creature! She was in great trouble that same time."
"Very likely," interrupted Mr. Hill: "but go on to the collar; what of
"She sent me--I'll tell you the story, plase your honour, _out of the
face_--she sent me to the pawnbroker's for the Jew; and, it being so late
at night, the shop was shut, and it was with all the trouble in life that
I got into the house any way: and, when I got in, there was none but a
slip of a boy up; and he set down the light that he had in his hand, and
ran up the stairs to waken his master: and, whilst he was gone, I just
made bold to look round at what sort of a place I was in, and at the old
clothes and rags and scraps; there was a sort of a frieze trusty."
"A trusty!" said Mr. Hill; "what is that, pray?"
"A big coat, sure, plase your honour: there was a frieze big coat lying
in a corner, which I had my eye upon, to trate myself to: I having, as I
then thought, money in my little purse enough for it. Well, I won't
trouble your honour's honour with telling of you now how I lost my purse
in the field, as I found after; but about the big coat--as I was saying,
I just lifted it off the ground to see would it fit me; and, as I swung
it round, something, plase your honour, hit me a great knock on the
shins: it was in the pocket of the coat, whatever it was, I knew; so I
looks into the pocket to see what was it, plase your honour, and out I
pulls a hammer and a dog-collar: it was a wonder, both together, they did
not break my shins entirely: but it's no matter for my shins now; so,
before the boy came down, I just out of idleness spelt out to myself the
name that was upon the collar: there were two names, plase your honour,
and out of the first there were so many letters hammered out I could make
nothing of it at all, at all; but the other name was plain enough to
read, any way, and it was Hill, plase your honour's honour, as sure as
life: Hill, now."
This story was related in tones and gestures which were so new and
strange to English ears and eyes, that even the solemnity of our verger
gave way to laughter.
Mr. Marshal sent a summons for the pawnbroker, that he might learn from
him how he came by the dog-collar. The pawnbroker, when he found from
Mr. Marshal that he could by no other means save himself from being
committed to prison, confessed that the collar had been sold to him by
Bampfylde the Second, king of the gipsies.
A warrant was immediately despatched for his majesty; and Mr. Hill was a
good deal alarmed by the fear of its being known in Hereford that he was
on the point of swearing examinations against an innocent man upon the
evidence of a dog-stealer and a gipsy.
Bampfylde the Second made no sublime appearance when he was brought
before Mr. Marshal, nor could all his astrology avail upon this occasion.
The evidence of the pawnbroker was so positive as to the fact of his
having sold to him the dog-collar, that there was no resource left for
Bampfylde but an appeal to Mr. Hill's mercy. He fell on his knees, and
confessed that it was he who stole the dog, which used to bark at him at
night so furiously, that he could not commit certain petty depredations
by which, as much as by telling fortunes, he made his livelihood.
"And so," said Mr. Marshal, with a sternness of manner which till now he
had never shown, "to screen yourself, you accused an innocent man; and by
your vile arts would have driven him from Hereford, and have set two
families for ever at variance, to conceal that you had stolen a dog."
The king of the gipsies was, without further ceremony, committed to the
house of correction. We should not omit to mention that, on searching
his hat, the Irish haymaker's purse was found, which some of his
majesty's train had emptied. The whole set of gipsies decamped upon the
news of the apprehension of their monarch.
Mr. Hill stood in profound silence, leaning upon his walking-stick,
whilst the committal was making out for Bampfylde the Second. The fear
of ridicule was struggling with the natural positiveness of his temper.
He was dreadfully afraid that the story of his being taken in by the king
of the gipsies would get abroad; and, at the same time, he was unwilling
to give up his prejudice against the Irish glover.
"But, Mr. Marshal," cried he, after a long silence, "the hole under the
foundation of the cathedral has never been accounted for--that is, was,
and ever will be, an ugly mystery to me; and I never can have a good
opinion of this Irishman till it is cleared up, nor can I think the
cathedral in safety."
"What!" said Mr. Marshal, with an arch smile, "I suppose the verses of
the oracle still work upon your imagination, Mr. Hill. They are
excellent in their kind. I must have them by heart, that when I am asked
the reason why Mr. Hill has taken an aversion to an Irish glover, I may
be able to repeat them:--
"Now, take my word,
Wise men of Hereford,
None in safety may be,
Till the bad man doth flee."
"You'll oblige me, sir," said the verger, "if you would never repeat
those verses, sir, nor mention, in any company, the affair of the king of
"I will oblige you," replied Mr. Marshal, "if you will oblige me. Will
you tell me honestly whether, now that you find this Mr. O'Neill is
neither a dog-killer nor a puller-down of bark-ricks, you feel that you
could forgive him for being an Irishman, if the mystery, as you call it,
of the hole under the cathedral was cleared up?"
"But that is not cleared up, I say, sir," cried Mr. Hill, striking his
walking-stick forcibly upon the ground with both his hands. "As to the
matter of his being an Irishman, I have nothing to say to it; I am not
saying anything about that, for I know we all are born where it pleases
God, and an Irishman may be as good as another. I know that much, Mr.
Marshal, and I am not one of those illiberal-minded, ignorant people that
cannot abide a man that was not born in England. Ireland is now in his
majesty's dominions. I know very well, Mr. Marshal; and I have no manner
of doubt, as I said before, that an Irishman born may be as good, almost,
as an Englishman born."
"I am glad," said Mr. Marshal, "to hear you speak--almost as reasonably
as an Englishman born and every man ought to speak; and I am convinced
that you have too much English hospitality to persecute an inoffensive
stranger, who comes amongst us trusting to our justice and good nature."
"I would not persecute a stranger, God forbid!" replied the verger, "if
he was, as you say, inoffensive."
"And if he was not only inoffensive, but ready to do every service in his
power to those who are in want of his assistance, we should not return
evil for good, should we?"
"That would be uncharitable, to be sure; and, moreover, a scandal," said
"Then," said Mr. Marshal, "will you walk with me as far as the Widow
Smith's, the poor woman whose house was burnt last winter? This
haymaker, who lodged near her, can show us the way to her present abode."
During his examination of Paddy M'Cormack, who would tell his whole
history, as he called it, _out of the face_, Mr. Marshal heard several
instances of the humanity and goodness of O'Neill, which Paddy related to
excuse himself for that warmth of attachment to his cause that had been
manifested so injudiciously by pulling down the rick of bark in revenge
for the rest. Amongst other things, Paddy mentioned his countryman's
goodness to the Widow Smith. Mr. Marshal was determined, therefore, to
see whether he had, in this instance, spoken the truth; and he took Hill
with him, in hopes of being able to show him the favourable side of
Things turned out just as Mr. Marshal expected. The poor widow and her
family, in the most simple and affecting manner, described the distress
from which they had been relieved by the good gentleman; and lady--the
lady was Phoebe Hill; and the praises that were bestowed upon Phoebe were
delightful to her father's ear, whose angry passions had now all
The benevolent Mr. Marshal seized the moment when he saw Mr. Hill's heart
was touched, and exclaimed, "I must be acquainted with this Mr. O'Neill.
I am sure we people of Hereford ought to show some hospitality to a
stranger who has so much humanity. Mr. Hill, will you dine with him to-
morrow at my house?"
Mr. Hill was just going to accept of this invitation, when the
recollection of all he had said to his club about the hole under the
cathedral came across him, and, drawing Mr. Marshal aside, he whispered,
"But, sir, sir, that affair of the hole under the cathedral has not been
cleared up yet."
At this instant the Widow Smith exclaimed, "Oh! here comes my little
Mary" (one of her children, who came running in); "this is the little
girl, sir, to whom the lady has been so good. Make your curtsey, child.
Where have you been all this while?"
"Mammy," said the child, "I've been showing the lady my rat."
"Lord bless her! Gentlemen, the child has been wanting me this many a
day to go to see this tame rat of hers; but I could never get time,
never--and I wondered, too, at the child's liking such a creature. Tell
the gentlemen, dear, about your rat. All I know is that, let her have
but never such a tiny bit of bread for breakfast or supper, she saves a
little of that little for this rat of hers; she and her brothers have
found it out somewhere by the cathedral."
"It comes out of a hole under the wall of the cathedral," said one of the
older boys; "and we have diverted ourselves watching it, and sometimes we
have put victuals for it--so it has grown, in a manner, tame-like."
Mr. Hill and Mr. Marshal looked at one another during this speech; and
the dread of ridicule again seized on Mr. Hill, when he apprehended that,
after all he had said, the mountain might at last bring forth--a rat. Mr.
Marshal, who instantly saw what passed in the verger's mind, relieved him
from this fear by refraining even from a smile on this occasion. He only
said to the child, in a grave manner, "I am afraid, my dear, we shall be
obliged to spoil your diversion. Mr. Verger, here, cannot suffer rat-
holes in the cathedral; but, to make you amends for the loss of your
favourite, I will give you a very pretty little dog, if you have a mind."
The child was well pleased with this promise; and, at Mr. Marshal's
desire, she then went along with him and Mr. Hill to the cathedral, and
they placed themselves at a little distance from that hole which had
created so much disturbance. The child soon brought the dreadful enemy
to light; and Mr. Hill, with a faint laugh, said, "I'm glad it's no
worse, but there were many in our club who were of my opinion; and, if
they had not suspected O'Neill too, I am sure I should never have given
you so much trouble, sir, as I have done this morning. But I hope, as
the club know nothing about that vagabond, that king of the gipsies, you
will not let any one know anything about the prophecy, and all that? I
am sure I am very sorry to have given you so much trouble, Mr. Marshal."
Mr. Marshal assured him that he did not regret the time which he had
spent in endeavouring to clear up all those mysteries and suspicions; and
Mr. Hill gladly accepted his invitation to meet O'Neill at his house the
next day. No sooner had Mr. Marshal brought one of the parties to reason
and good humour than he went to prepare the other for a reconciliation.
O'Neill and his mother were both people of warm but forgiving tempers--the
arrest was fresh in their minds; but when Mr. Marshal represented to them
the whole affair, and the verger's prejudices, in a humorous light, they
joined in the good-natured laugh; and O'Neill declared that, for his
part, he was ready to forgive and to forget everything if he could but
see Miss Phoebe in the Limerick gloves.
Phoebe appeared the next day, at Mr. Marshal's, in the Limerick gloves;
and no perfume ever was so delightful to her lover as the smell of the
rose-leaves in which they had been kept.
Mr. Marshal had the benevolent pleasure of reconciling the two families.
The tanner and the glover of Hereford became, from bitter enemies, useful
friends to each other; and they were convinced by experience that nothing
could be more for their mutual advantage than to live in union.