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THE GAP OF BARNESMORE.
It is a bold step in a candid novelist to carry his readers to the siege of Derry. The horse-flesh and vermin eaten by the apprentices, were not more revolting viands than poor readers have had to swallow under conti. nual obsessions of parsons, parish. clerks, and schoolmasters-
“ Stern, rugged Graham, thy rigid lore,
With patience many a year we bore--"
HERE is something new and vigorous --something Irish also, without wolf. dogs, druids, or Ollamh Fodhlas ; a bold picture of Ireland Protestantized, and, for once at least, the protectress of freedom and the deliverer of Great Britain from foreign rule. For unquestionably it was the Protestant power of Ulster, at the period recalled by these pages, which turned the scale, and confirmed the English revolution an event happy for England, and proud for Ulster, but we cannot add happy history, we fear, will say hapless and humiliating—for the rest of Ireland. If the people of Ulster at that time could have foreseen that their descend. ants, a century and a-half after, would still remain dissevered from the rest of their own countrymen-still a garrison, but a garrison for an England no longer Protestant; that without having gained the name of Britons, they would still have failed to make that of Irishmen respected ; that the Roman religion would be again freely recognised in England, and authoritatively encouraged throughout this country, whither they had come to put it down--they would probably not have assumed so resolutely an office 80 thankless. Protestantism probably would at this day be established in the hearts and minds of a free people, bold to look the defects of their ecelesiasti. cal system in the face, because not afraid nor ashamed of their social position in their own country. But it was otherwise decreed. Sic tos non robis has been the lesson read by time to all who support external influences in their own lands. Still, however he may be occasionally stung by the sense of being in a false position, no Protestant Irishman can look back on the heroism of these saviours of British freedom, and founders of British prosperity, who decided the fate of the Revolution of 1688, in Clster, with out pride, and a feeling of hereditary importance in the state.
We compare an author who comes to our relief, with a cargo of knowledge and candour, to Kirk with his brigs breaking the boom above Culmore.
This portion of Ulster witnessed a wondrous variety of incident, between the return of Red Hugh O'Donnell and the day when the siege of Derry was raised. In one century, it passed through a transition equal to the changes of six elsewhere. Little more than fifty years before this strife of cultivated minds, and of hands trained to the appliances of modern warfare, contending for the establishment or overthrow of principles which should rule one-half of the civilized world, took place on these banks of the Foyle, this country had been the theatre of wars almost as simple in their strategy, and as circumscribed in their objects, as the tribe battles of the Red Indians. Topographers, for want of better features, planted that quarter of their charts over with galloglasses
" As g'ographers, on Afric map,
With alligators fill a gap,
-Mac Sweenys and O'Boyles, men of big limbs, and fierce, cruel countenances, clad in long coats of mail, with broad-axes in their hands, and iron scull-caps, barefooted, seated on moun. tain-tops, themselves drawn as big as the mountains. Such were the deni. zens of the place, before Dockwra sailed up the Foyle, and astonished O'Don
*"The Gap of Barnesmore: a Tale of the Irish Highlands, and the Revolution of 1688." London: Smith, Elder, and Co. 1848.
head of the bay of Donegal,' and near the southern adit of the Pass of Bar. nesmore, a kind of Tyrconnellian Kyber, traversing the mountains which separate the basin of the Erne from that of the Foyle. Barnesmore signi. fies the “Great Gap."
nell, by casting up his sloping green mounds, and his deep, impassable trenches, commanded on every side by the mutually-protecting faces and flanks of works disposed into the novel and embarrassing adjustment of bastions and ravelines. A little while after, and O'Donnell lies entombed in Valladolid_the O'Neills, in St. Peter's on the Mount-Mac Guire at Genoa ; the crowning-stones bave been tumbled down at Tullaghogue and Kilmacrennan; the corrachs have disappeared from the Foyle, and on its placid bosom float high-rigged long-ships from across the sea, full of rich goods, and cannon, and the strength of gunpowder-while, on shore, woods are felling, iron smelt. ing, cloth weaving, and
“By this gap,” says our author, “the chain of mouniains is broken ; it seems exactly as if a cut had been designedly made in their continuity. A perfectly level space, of about a quarter of a mile in breadth, and nearly two in length, lies between the rugged fronts of the dissevered mountains, that rise on either side in inaccessible grandeur, with bare and naked cliffs, between which chasms have been formed by the mountain-torrents; a little stream, glassy in its surface and lazy in its course, winds slowly along the level; the inclination of the ground seems scarcely enough to give its waters an impetus either way. An excellent mail-coach road has been of late years made through the pass, and as you bowl along with the most perfect ease over the smooth surface of the highway, you can scarcely believe that if it were not for that pass, for a line of country extending to more than twenty miles on either side, there would be no mode of effecting a passage across the natural barrier of mountain, and moor, and morass, wbich nature has formed. It is only when you look up to the vast piles of mountain that rise on either side until the eye is fatigued with carrying on its gaze from height to height, that you can form some idea of the magnitude of the barrier which is thus conveniently divided."
The maps and picture-charts of the Plantation, preserved at Lambeth, give surprisingly exact and interesting representations of the houses and castles of the new settlers. From the manor house, with its many-gabled centre and wings—its flanking, conical. topped turrets, court-yard, and stately entrance.gate, and the leaseholder's farm - house of timber frame-work, wrought into compartments and patterns, with its roof of shining, freshsplit shingle, down to the cottager's hut of mud-walls and thatch, every building is represented with perfect accuracy. Among the houses of the cottagers one may remark, as contradistinguished from the rectangular, high gabled, one-story house of the co. lonist, the circular, flat-roofed hut of the native Irishman. These latter ha. bitations, with their cylindrical form and chimney (where they have a chim, ney) rising at one side, bear a ludi. crous resemblance to the wooden milk. ing-vessel in common use. But many of the better class of houses exhibit great stateliness of design, and, to our mediæval revivors, would be excellent patterns for pseudo-antique country residences—a class of abodes to which we may say, in passing, that we enter. tain the strongest objection, as out of place, and unsuitable to the times we live in.
Our author introduces us to the principal characters of his tale, in a plantation-castle of this description, near Loch Esk, a charming lake at the
We will now present our readers with a prospect of the Plantation Cas. tle we have spoken of, the residence of Sir Robert Oakley, a worthy gentleman-uniting, in family connexions as well as in manners and feeling, the characters of the old Irish chieftain on the one hand, and of the loyal, English-sprung settler on the other ; uniting, also, to Protestant indepen. dence, a respect for the amiable side of Romanism, and, at the commencement of our author's tale, a loyal subject of King James. The castle is so well described, that we should almost say our author had had access to the picture.charts of Lambeth, or to the transcripts of them at Mountjoy. Mountjoy-every time we write the word, we experience the indignant sense of mismanagement, neglect, and discountenance, shown towards us by
those who suppressed that department of our ordnance survey, and who, but for absolute fear of provoking national resistance, would long since have carried into effect their threat of removing these national records to Southampton. Mountjoy-it makes us think of Petrie and his wasted days and nights, and services forgotten; while his country calls for his aid in succes. sive departments which they fill with fools. But, to come back to Esk Cas
relief to the dark bill that rose imme. diately behind, the light gray battlements and towers of the eastern wing im. pressed the stranger with the idea of one of the baronialstrongholds of feudaltimes. With a more particular description of the stronghold we may have hereafter to trouble our readers : suffice it at presont to say that, as originally built, it was one of the few erections in the district which literally fulfilled the obligation upon every undertaker of a knight's fee to build upon bis estate a fortified castle."
"On the flat table of an eminence on
Here we are made acquainted with the southern side of the river Esk, not Ellen Oakley and William Spencer, far from the point where it emerges the amiable couple on whose fortunes from the lake, was placed a pile of build the love-department of the story turns. ings, thrown into the form of a hollow There is not much in the character of quadrangle, the regularity, however, of either to distinguish them from the the shape being more than compensated
hero and heroine of any other novel : for by the irregularity of the style of
the captain is a gentleman-a man of architecture of which different portions were constructed. The quadrangle
honour, bravery, and fidelity, and a built, it is to be observed, but on three
strong Protestant; Miss Oakley, a sides, the river running in a deep chan
pure-minded, ingenuous young girl, nel forming the fourth-was, in fact, in with a vein of Catholic and Irish sen. tended to include within the compass of timent, derived from her mother. one enclosure. all the necessary build- These associations throw us a good ings of a gentleman's residence and deal into Romish society in the pro. farm. The exterior wall of the man gress of the tale ; and we cannot but sion was therefore of considerable ex
commend the candid spirit with which tent, but of height varying not a little
whatever is most amiable among these in its different parts. The southern front, or what might be termed the
good people is put forward by a writer front of the house, consisted of a low
whose own sympathies are manifestly and whitish building, two stories high,
of the strongest Protestant complexion. with plain but very narrow windows;
Native Irish manners are also present and broken in two places by very plain
ed to us with an equally frank and arched gates, which formed the opening honest disposition to do them justice; to the quadrangle behind. The two but the O'Donnell, who plays the part wings, as we may term the eastern and of Irish chieftain in “the Gap of Barwestern sides, rose to a considerable nesmore,” is not a Fergus Mac Ivor. height above this; both these wings Our author, we think, has misconceiv. were surmounted by turrets, the east ed the manners likely to be acquired ern, next the lake, rising much higher
by an Irish exile of good birth in the than the other. Indeed, the entire east
Spanish service at that time. Whatern portion assumed the form of a cas. tellated fortress, battlements and tur. ever might
ever might be the natural tendency to rets rose high over it, frowning above vanity or boastfulness in the man himthe rest of the building; and the win- self, he would have learned, in a Span. dows were surrounded with mullions of ish regiment of the seventeenth cen. cut stone. In the south-eastern angle tury, a sound knowledge of military of the building, a military arch led to tactics, and a grave and dignified de. the door of the house. This portion of meanour. The O'Donnell of “the the building was in reality built in the
gap" possesses, however, the tradiproportions of a castle, and as the oppo.
tionary hospitality and sense of honour site wing had also its turrets, and the
which have never ceased, in all the vislate roof of the southern front was
cissitudes of their race, to characterise concealed by a curtain wall, the whole pile of building assumed the appearance
the Irish gentleman ; but the writer's of what it really was-a military for
sympathies are evidently on the Saxon
sy tress of considerable strength; while side, and his Irishman plays a part as seen from a little distance, rising in the subordinate in the tale as, taking a middle of the spacious woods that sur- broad view of the events of that time, rounded them, and standing out in bold the Irish race did in the affairs of Eu
rope. It was, perhaps, impossible to do without him; but had it been prac. ticable, we should rather have had no O'Donnell at all.
Old James Morris and Tom Black, two Protestant settlers, are characters of another stamp, conceived with vi. gorous originality. Morris, a Covenanter-severe, sanctimonious; Black, an Episcopalian-blunt and jocose, but roughly. pious. A son of Morris having lost his life in one of the earlier broils between the Royalist Rapparees and the Protestant settlers, in that part of Donegal where the principal scene is laid, his burial gives occasion to a scene of startling power :
“A few grains of clay had been flung upon the coffin: and the musketeers were preparing to discharge their fare. well volley over his still open grave, when a tall gaunt person stood at its head, and waving his hand to prevent interruption, spoke in a voice whose naturally harsh intonations were not im. proved by the strong Scotch accent in which he spoke :
"• Ye ken, my brethren,' said he, *that we of the Scotch Kirk do not use to pray at the burying of the dead; not' -said he, as if remembering the presence of many Episcopalians - not that there is, in itself, anything superstitious or ungodly in praying for the living, as we bury the dead; but because these things may too easily be turned into su. perstition. And, perhaps, ye may won. der to see me, a true and faithful minis. ter of the faithful and covenanting portion of that church, taking a part here this morning.' This will introduce the speaker to our readers, as no less a personage than the Rev. Reuben M'Gregor, the minister of the covenanting congregation to which Morris belonged.
"• I speak, however, now,' he said, as a soldier more than as a minister, though I make no distinction between the two characters : every faithful minister is at all times a soldier of the Lord; and surely, in times when wiek edness and Popery are placed in high places in the nation, every faithful sol. dier is the best and truest minister of the Lord. But, brethren,' he continued, in a voice distinctly audible to the extreme limits of the crowd, I would improve this solemn occasion to the good of our holy religion. Protestants have been divided, Protestants have been distrustful of each other ; here, now, over the open grave of our murdered brother, by the red light of these torches, and by the everlasting light
of yon stars, that fought once against Sisera in their courses, let us take a solemn oath and covenant to stand true to each other, come weal, come woe, fire, or sword, or famine. Let us swear never to desert the cause. Let us be sworn brothers.'
“We will! we will!' burst from a hundred voices. hundr
Hamilton hinted to Sir Robert Oakley to withdraw; the latter made his way back to the corner of the enclosure, where he stood concealed from observation under a tree.
" Then I will give you the oath,' he continued ; and first of all,' he said,
I ought to give it to him whom we all love, the sheriff of our county; but, brethren, there is one here who has a right at this grave before even him. James Morris,' he continued, 'stand forth, and let no earthly sorrow mar now your duty to your God.'
“Morris slowly rose upon a little rock which was beside the grave; bis form, thus elevated above the crowd, was distinctly visible in the strong light of the torches. He reverently removed the tartan bonnet, which, a tribute to his Scottish descent, was the usual covering of his head. His tall and manly form, bent by the grief which weighed him down, rose erect as he looked upward; still as was the morning, bis long, iron-grey hair, which the position of his head threw back upon his shoulders, appeared to move and tremble with the slightest motion of the air; while over his naturally tine, but stern and unforgiving features, passed an aspect of unchangeable and relentless resolution that, mixed as it was with an expression of religious zeal and devotion, gave to the features a dauntless firmness that was absolutely grand. He raised his outstretched hand to heaven, to call God to witness what he said; and, after the dictation of the minister, he slowly repeated the words: “In the presence of Almighty God, that to every Protestant brother he should be leal and true; that by him he would stand in peace and in war, come weal or woe-in fire, iu sword, and famineagainst pope, bishop, and king-until death he would be true to the Protestant cause, and, when be betrayed it, might God give up him.-So help bim God.'
“He was evidently struggling with intense emotion. As he spoke, his chest almost visibly dilated_his figure seerned to expand-his eye flashed with fire. When he had finished the oath, he dropped his arm from the extended posture to which he had raised it; after a moment he elevated it again. Brethren,'
he said, “it is a hard thing for a father " Bless, O God,' continued the mito stand by the grave of his only son; nister, • Thy cause; preserve its defenbut had I ten sons, I would not grudge ders, especially Thy servant the Prince their blood for the cause : but here, in of Orange; confound its enemies, and the sight of God, I swear everlasting let them be brought to shame; and enmity to them that murdered my boy give to us, Thy servants, deliverance I swear eternal enmity to bloody Tyr- and peace.' connell, and every Popish governor of Ireland: so help me God! And it is not There are few Irish Protestants, because he has left my heart black and from Cavan to Derry, who will not my home desolate to-day, it is not be. cause he has left the pride of my heart
feel their hearts burn within them at in that cold grave, that I take this oath
passages in the scene we have tran. -00, I could, as a Christian man, for
scribed; but we should do them little give the murderer of my child_but it is justice as Irishmen, as we should because he is the enemy of God, and of grievously wrong our author, both as his cause; because he would destroy the an Irishman and a man of talent, if Protestant faith, for wbich my people we hesitated to place before them the bled, under the blue banner, on the hea other side of the picture, drawn here, ther and the hill : for this I swear ever for, we might almost say, the first lasting hatred to him and all Popish go- time, by this new and able hand. The vernors; and for this, and for no personal
book is plainly written for no party ill-will I bear him, I would plunge this sword in his heart, if God would so
purpose of this day. If any one will highly honour me as to give me the oc
read it aright, he will feel for both casion,
parties-exclusively with neither. God " There was a wild strain of natural
forbid that similar times should ever eloquence in this outburst of strong again arise among us; but perhaps passion, that would at any time have the best preparation we can make powerfully swayed the feelings of an ex. against such a misfortune, is to accited crowd ; delivered, however, with quaint ourselves with the elements of all the adjuncts that gave intensity to strife which still survive around us, its power, the crowd moved under its
that we may, with God's help, guide influence like the wave before the storm.
them into new and safer combinations ; Hamilton felt embarrassed, and perhaps alarmed; he waited a few seconds, until
for unquestionably much of the unthe excitement to which the assembly
reasoning bigotry of the Morrises and bad been wound up had in some degree
Blacks of that day remains amongst subsided. He stood on the rock beside us, as well as much of the fanatical hosMorris, and grasping his hand in one of tility against England and the English, his, with the other raised to heaven, he which, in this stirring picture of past repeated the words of the oath which troublesome times, our author has Morris bad first taken, laying especial impersonated in another of his chaemphasis upon the words pope, bishop, racters, Father Meehan. There is
ng, especially the two latter. He matter for much useful reflection in waited for no farther expression of feel the folle
the following dialogue, which we earing, but said loudly, What I have
nestly commend to the consideration sworn, swear ye all.' A thousand voices answered to his demand-a thousand
of our country squires :arms were raised to the starry heavens, as the deep and confused murmur of a “Spencer maintained his own opis multitude repeating that oath, rose upon nions, in argument with his revethe morning air. As it died away, the rend friend. "What !' he said, on one harsh voice of the minister once more was occasion, when the priest had been beard-it was in prayer: • Eternal and most energetic in expressing his sentiAlmighty Lord God, Thou that hearest ments—'what would you have me, and all that is spoken upon earth, Thou those like me to do? we who are, in that keepest covenant, and lovest them truth, the English against whom you that keep it, hear this our solemn oath bring these terrible charges.' and covenant, and deal Thou, O God, “* Are the descendants of the Moors with each man here, as he keeps the less Spanish now,' replied the priest, vow and covenant we have now made because once their ancestors were inwith each other in Thy name.' A vaders of Spain? Are the old Norman hoarse murmur of Amens responded barons of England now less English to this prayer, with more solemn effect than the veriest descendant of the than ever swelled the response of the Saxon Thane? Did you never hear of the choir in the cathedral's vaulted aisles. Geraldines Hibernis ipsis Hiberniores ?