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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, August 7, 1841   By:

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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 1.

FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 7, 1841.

THE WIFE CATCHERS.

A LEGEND OF MY UNCLE'S BOOTS.

In Four Chapters.

"His name 'tis proper you should hear, 'Twas Timothy Thady Mulligin: And whenever he finish'd his tumbler of punch, He always wished it full agin."

CHAPTER II.

[Illustration: Y]"You can have no idea, Jack, how deeply the loss of those venerated family retainers affected me."

My uncle paused. I perceived that his eyes were full, and his tumbler empty; I therefore thought it advisable to divert his sorrow, by reminding him of our national proverb, " Iss farr doch na skeal [1]."

[1] A drink is better than a story.

The old man's eyes glistened with pleasure, as he grasped my hand, saying, "I see, Jack, you are worthy of your name. I was afraid that school learning and college would have spoiled your taste for honest drinking; but the right drop is in you still, my boy. I mentioned," continued he, resuming the thread of his story, "that my grandfather died, leaving to his heirs the topped boots, spurs, buckskin breeches, and red waistcoat; but it is about the first mentioned articles I mean especially to speak, as it was mainly through their respectable appearance that so many excellent matches and successful negotiations have been concluded by our family. If one of our cousins was about to wait on his landlord or his sweetheart, if he meditated taking a farm or a wife, 'the tops' were instantly brushed up, and put into requisition. Indeed, so fortunate had they been in all the matrimonial embassies to which they had been attached, that they acquired the name of 'the wife catchers,' amongst the young fellows of our family. Something of the favour they enjoyed in the eyes of the fair sex should, perhaps, be attributed to the fact, that all the Duffys were fine strapping fellows, with legs that seemed made for setting off topped boots to the best advantage.

"Well, years rolled by; the sons of mothers whose hearts had been won by the irresistible buckism of Shawn Duffy's boots, grew to maturity, and, in their turn, furbished up 'the wife catchers,' when intent upon invading the affections of other rustic fair ones. At length these invaluable relics descended to me, as the representative of our family. It was ten years on last Lady day since they came into my possession, and I am proud to say, that during that time the Duffys and 'the wife catchers' lost nothing of the reputation they had previously gained, for no less than nineteen marriages and ninety six christenings have occurred in our family during the time. I had every hope, too, that another chalk would have been added to the matrimonial tally, and that I should have the pleasure of completing the score before Lent; for, one evening, about four months ago, I received a note from your cousin Peter, informing me that he intended riding over, on the following Sunday, to Miss Peggy Haggarty's, for the purpose of popping the question, and requesting of me the loan of the lucky 'wife catchers' for the occasion.

"I need not tell you I was delighted to oblige poor Peter, who is the best fellow and surest shot in the county, and accordingly took down the boots from their peg in the hall. Through the negligence of the servant they have been hung up in a damp state, and had become covered with blue mould. In order to render them decent and comfortable for Peter, I placed them to dry inside the fender, opposite the fire; then lighting my pipe, I threw myself back in my chair, and as the fragrant fumes of the Indian weed curled and wreathed around my head, with half closed eyes turned upon the renowned 'wife catchers,' I indulged in delightful visions of future weddings and christenings, and recalled, with a sigh, the many pleasant ones I had witnessed in their company."

Here my uncle applied the tumbler to his face to conceal his emotion. "I brought to mind," he continued (ordering; in a parenthesis, another jug of boiling water), "I brought to mind the first time I had myself sported the envied 'wife catchers' at the pattron of Moycullen... Continue reading book >>


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