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but none could avert, sat in their cheerless homes, each year more hopeless than the last, each chance of ultimate relief more desperate, till at length the honest earnings of parental industry were no more, and bankruptcy consigned to penury and despair those who were ever industrious, and, alas! had once been opulent.
In the evening, I reached the town of N, and on the following day left it for the village of M, where the first years of my life had been passed. It was the market-day when the postillion stopped at the little inn, but all that indicated this day of business and bustle was a string of beggarly apple-stalls, and a few wretched old women, with scanty bunches of yarn, huddled together in a corner of the square. the sellers were, and limited as was the quantity of their commodity, they seemed far to exceed the demand. The
market-house was in a ruinous state; the little cupola still bore the dial of the town-clock, which for many years had ceased to tell the flight of time the rusted hand pointed to the tenth hour, and its association recalled “ days of lang syne." I looked for the academy of Peter Martin-it was roofless. How often, as I hurried to his house, has my course been impeded in the very spot I .stood in; when the now, silent bell struck the hour to which the idle hand still pointed, hundreds sprung up and towered above the crowd, while a thousand lusty arms instantly exhibited their merchandise. To understand me, you must be aware of what an Irish Linen Market was ;—the buyers occupied benches, which raised them some feet above those who sold: the sale commenced as the town-clock told the hour; and at the first beat of the bell, the merchants leaping on their forms, and the instantaneous
protrusion of some thousand webs for their inspection, seemed almost magical.
The inn at which I stopped was, in the days of its prosperity, the lowest of the village Hostels-its humbleness had probably been the cause of its lingering beyond its competitors. I looked up the street for my old acquaintance, the Jolly Draper-the Jolly Draper had disappeared. Where were the Red Lion, and the Black Bear, and the White Swan? All gone. I looked in vain for some house whose fairer external would
promise better accommodation than the General Wolfe ; none but some wretched pot-houses were visible : I had no choice, and into the General Wolfe I entered with a heavy heart.
Although the gallant commander had contrived to outlive his competitors for public favour, he was evidently on the point of annihilation; all within was filthy and comfortless-the earthen floor of the
kitchen was deeply furrowed with holes, and what each of these pits wanted in clay, they seemed to have supplied with water; with no inconsiderable difficulty I piloted myself clear of the numerous pools, to where an old dirty-looking woman was bent double across the smoky embers. I asked if I could get accommodation and a chamber? “ E-agh,” was thrice replied to my inquiries ; a third demand, with a considerable intonation of voice, brought a ragged, red-headed girl to the stair-head, who peeping over the crazy bannister, kept bawling at the same time, “ Wolly, here's a gentleman, shake yourself, mun, and turn the pig out of the parlour.” Wolly presently showed himself; he had, I presume, been sleeping, as he yawned every step he made in his descent, when he presented
view a dozed, drunken, stupid sot of forty—his face swollen and flaccid, his eye dim and reeling; and yet the
features were the very counterpart of an old acquaintance, his father. How different, and yet how much alike. The father an active, thrifty publican-the son a wretched, bloated pauper! The sot inducted me to the sitting-room-it was in unison with the kitchen; the table bore the marks of the last night's revels of some carriers who were driving from the door; beer was splashed over the seats, broken pipes and pewter measures were everywhere strewn around. I, however, yielding to necessity, endeavoured to make my misfortunes as light as I could ; I raised one window, (the other was built up with loose stones to save the tax,) set the sandy-haired drab to scrub, and having ordered breakfast, strolled out, glad to escape an atmosphere tainted with whiskey and bad tobacco. Need I describe my farther investigation of this “ deserted village ?” In a word, I had put up at the best