The House by the Churchyard


Chapelizod, Dublin. "AD 1767 - in the beginning of the month of May - I mention it because as I said, I write from memoranda, an awfully dark night down on Chapelizod and all the country round. I believe there was no moon, and the stars had been quite put out under the "wet blanket of the night," which impenetrable muffler overspread the sky with a funereal darkness. There was a little of that sheet-lightning early in the evening, which betokens sultry weather. The clouds, column after column, came up sullenly over the Dublin mountains, rolling themselves from one horizon to the other into one black dome of vapour, their slow but steady motion contrasting with the awful stillness of the air. There was a weight in the atmosphere, and a sort of undefined menace brooding over the little town, as if unseen crime or danger - some mystery of iniquity - was stealing into the heart of it, and the disapproving heavens scowled a melancholy warning... It was, indeed, a remarkably dark night - a rush and down-pour of rain! The doctor stood just under the porch of the stout brick house - of King William's date, which was then the residence of the worthy rector of Chapelizod - with his great surtout and cape on - his leggings buttoned up - and his capacious leather "overalls" pulled up and strapped over these - and his broad-leafed hat tied down over his wig and ears with a mightly silk kerchief. I dare say he looked absurd enough - but it was the women's doing - who always, upon emergencies, took the doctor's wardrobe in hands. Old Sally, with her kind, mild grave face, and gray locks, stood modestly behind the hall; and pretty Lilias, his only child, gave him her parting kiss, and her last grand charge about his shoes and other exterior toggery, in the porch; and he patted her cheek with a little fond laugh, taking old John Tracy's, the butler's, arm. John carried a handsome horn-lantern, which flashed now on a roadside bush - now on the discoloured battlements of the bridge - and now on a streaming window. They stept out - there were no umbrellas in those days - splashing among the wide and widening pools; while Sally and Lilias stood in the porch, holding candles for full five minutes after the doctor and his "Jack-o'-the lantern," as he called honest John, whose arm and candle always befriended him in his night excursions, had got round the corner."


J. Sheridan Le Fanu, (1863) "The House By the Churchyard,"


Online at: http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/E860000-006.html



Last update: 24 March 2016