Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

two hundred years before. The roof was flagged with grey-stones ; the doors were oaken, and studded with iron bolts; the windows filled with glass of dark and gloomy colours; the whole looking strength without comfort, pride without magnificence. No alteration in its appearance was observable, as any repairs which time had rendered necessary were effected without taking aught from its antiquity. The offices detached from the main building were partly sunk in a ravine, and partly shaded by the tall trees that embosomed them. Clumps of oak-trees and scrub (as the lower Irish term coppice-wood) were interspersed over the distant heaths. The castle towered above the whole, and from the high bank on which it stood forced itself upon the view with an imposing air of gloomy isolated grandeur. A broad ditch, once filled with water, encompassed the ancient fortress; but the later owners had given the stream another direction, and, levelling the mounds, clothed their sloping sides with verdure, while the river which had supplied the fosse, diverted from its original channel, fell a little to the right into the lake, wandering in its course through shrubberies and extensive gardens. The lakes extended fourteen or fifteen miles, and were irregular in their breadth, varying from one to seven. The extremities of neither were visible, as the prospect terminated by the headlands shutting in on either side. The castle, being placed on the narrow strait, where the waters of both united, had been erected to command the ancient bridge, a pass at that time undoubtedly of great importance.

In the retirement of Castle Carra, Henry O'Hara was educated. The boy, from his infancy, seemed destined to support some arduous character in the drama of human life: his constitution, his form, and his youth, were all extraordinary for his years. The contiguous heaths afforded him health and exercise ; sickness or restraint had never prevented him from braving each opposite of heat and cold ; and, attended by his tutor, more as a companion than a guide, he wandered wherever fancy prompted.

The period of infancy is soon passed over ; years roll on rapidly, and that portion of existence comprised between childhood and adolescence is but remembered as a dream. The mother of young O'Hara had been removed before her son could well estimate her loss, and his surviving parent devoted himself wholly to the education of the orphan; but of necessity, it was, in many material points, wild and imperfect. The seclusion of his father, and the solitude of the mansion, had given a romantic turn to the habits and opinions of the son, and when he had completed his fifteenth year, he knew men as he was taught mathematics, --solely by the agency of others.

The ill health of Mrs. O'Hara had made Dr. Molloy a constant visiter at the castle : from the child's infancy the physician had been attached to him, and so sincerely, that when he lost his mother, the Doctor retired from practice, and took up his residence at Castle Carra, where he had been an inmate for many years. Dr. Molloy had crept into life from great obscurity, and his youth had passed away before he obtained the requisite qualifications for practising physic. To a figure of singular oddity, he united uncouth

manners; the exterior was harsh and repulsive, but the feeling heart it contained was inestimable. Kindness and innocence were buried beneath the rough and unpolished habits of his youth ; and when his breast throbbed as he listened to a tale of misery, his features at the moment would have pictured gloomy misanthropy, although a dole, too liberal for his limited fortune to warrant, was dealt with an unsparing hand. Nature had refused her favour's to his person, but she had been otherwise munificent. A comprehensive mind, and prodigious memory, gifted this self-taught scholar; and while his abstracted manners would have admitted a charge of downright stupidity, perhaps at the moment this singular being was lost in contemplations from which minds of no ordinary capacity would have shrunk with dismay. As a professional man, his character stood justly high ; and, consequently, the liberal and extensive practice he had possessed enabled him to exert his benevolent dispositions, and acquire a moderate independence. He was fond of society, although his unconquerable absence of mind often in

[ocr errors]

commoded him in conversation, and his wandering thoughts could never be sufficiently at home to allow him to engage at the card-table. In the drama he delighted, and as he listened to the strollers who occasionally visited the adjoining market-town, to him the delusion of the scene disappeared, and all was truth and reality. On one occasion he interrupted the business of the stage by throwing a handful of silver to “ Lieutenant Workington,” and even once arrested the fate of the gentle Desdemona, by striding over the benches, and shouting, “ Othello, you're a fool !” and tendered his oath to the exculpation of the suspected beauty. His was a character constructed of opposites ; one moment grappling with a folio, and the next bewildered in the intricacies of a romance. He wrote much, but his lucubrations were usually committed to fate and shreds of paper. He had once, indeed, gone so far as to send a clever work into the world, notwithstanding arrangement was not to be included among the number of its excellencies. Every one in the neighbourhood subscribed to what, with one or two exceptions, no one in the

« ForrigeFortsæt »