THE author of' this fiction has seen something of Irish life, and pretty closely observed Irish character, especially amongst the " squireens," or "role ould Irish jontlemen :" he has attended Protestant public meetings ;. but, though he attempts to describe them, we question whether he has ever been admitted to a serious evening party of Orange Saints : he has got a surface familiarity with the leading theological arguments, or what pass for such, of the Romanists ; and the misrepresentations of the itinerant Pro- testant lecturers are at his finger-ends. He is also an Irish patriot, wishing for a national Parliament in College Green ; and holds, truly enough, that agrarian outrages are not the result of the people's religion, but of their misery, and its aggravation by bigoted ejection from their holdings. In addition, Mr. MORIARTY has va- rious views on polities and faith ; and all this miscellaneous know- ledge he has thrown together in the form of a religious and political novel,—Innisfoyle Abbey being merely the name of a religious house, in whose neighbourhood part of the scene is laid, and whose Abbot is one of the speakers in the controversial parts, and an oc- casional actor.
The tale of Innisfoyle Abbey is what is familiarly known as an Irish story, without head or tail, structure or conduct. It is not even a well-contrived peg to hang scenes and incidents upon, but a variety of simultaneously-existing stories, running parallel to or across each other, but never uniting: and that which seems intended to excite the principal interest is, where probable, mere common- place, and exaggerated without a purpose when it approaches the romantic. To present an outline of such a medley, would hardly be possible, and useless it' it were.
The characters are better—often truthful in conception, and occasionally well-developed, but rarely sustained ; the author changing their nature for his own convenience. There is an old Orange Colonel, not bad-hearted, though cruelly expelling his Catholic tenants in order to go with his party; and a zealous Protestant, not as knowing or caring much about religion, but from regard to consistency and caste. Very good, too, is Mr. James M'Cosky the younger, the tithe-agent,—demure in pious company, a very scapegrace elsewhere; aping gentility, and boasting with unblushing impudence of his acquaintance with the great ; a scamp too obtuse to have principle or feeling, and quite unscrupu- lous in his plans, but so obviously a constitutional rogue, and so small in his schemes, that his rogueries do not excite disgust, and his levity amuses. But Big Burke, the foxhunting bachelor squire— with the courtesy of an Irishman and the naivete of a sporting re- cluse—with a load of debts and a dilapidated mansion, yet keeping open house and a pack of hounds—is perhaps the cluf-d'teavre. The other prominent characters are not so good ; the virtuous being rather insipid, and the vicious exaggerated. Unctuous rogues do not admit their roguery to others, whatever they may do to themselves.
The b4:ellt!S would be more effective had they been better-placed : frequently the reader begins them with disfavour, from their hay- ing no relation to the story, or from the abruptness with which they are introduced. Of the best, the following may be taken as a sample. Mrs. O'Hara, and her daughter Mary, the heroine, have been driven by a storm to take shelter at their relation's, Big Burke's.
A RESPECTABLE WAKE IN A BACHELOR'S HOUSE.
It was quite dark when they reached the house. On the gravelled spate before the door, was a crowd of persons, who found gradual admission into a low, stone-floored ball, which reeked with a potent fume of whisky. " What is the matter ? " inquired Mrs. O'Hara. " 'Tie the ould lady's wake, the last night of it," replied aportly-looking man, to whom the question was addressed; i she'll be buried n the morning at cockcrow."
4' What ? Mr. Burke's mother P" " Yes, ma'am—his honour's mother. Och, she has been ailing for many a year. God rest her soul! she was good in her day, but all our turns must come."
" I am afraid," said MIS. O'Hara, " we have arrived at a very inconvenient time ; we were overtaken by the storm, and there is not an inn for many miles."
" Ocb, no inconvanience in life," replied the accommodating master of the ceremonies ; " just follow mime, ladies, and. I'll bring you to the master's private harbor. The he housekeeper will m , make ye off beds. This way, ladies," he added, entering a narrow side-passage, in order to avoid the crowded hull, in which were assembled the overflow of country-folks, who could not obtain room in the apartment in which the ancient dame's remains were laid. When Mary and her mother were announced to Mr. Burke, that gentleman was busily endeavouring to induce an unfortunate creditor to postpone an ap- plication for money till after the funeral. " Oh, Brian, how can you pester me at such a moment ?—house in con- fusion—old lady gone "--( here he applied his handkerchief to his eyes.) " Come to-morrow, can't you, Ithen things are more quiet and settled, and ask to see Dempsey about it.'
At this moment Mary and her mother entered. " There now," said Mr. Burke, rising, " you surely cannot intrude upon ladies."
The creditor very reluctantly retreated, saying, " Well, your honour, I'll call to-morrow."
" Ay do, and talk to Dempsey. Ladies, I bid you most hearty welcome," continued Mr. Burke, advancing to meet them with an air of cordial hasp. tality. " I presume vou have come from Innislbyle to-day ? " Mrs. O'Hara thanked him for his kind reception, and briefly detailed the cir- cumstances which rendered her a claimant on his hospitality. " I am truly indebted to the storm," quoth the courteous host, " since I find it has procured me the pleasure of seeing you. Ballymacreedy is open at all times to my friends, need I say that my kinswomen are especially welcome? Though we have not met belbrc, lain perfectly aware of our relationship, and the present meeting is a gratification for which I have long been anxious." And thus saying, Big Jack Burke (his usual sobriquet) bestowed a loving glance on Mrs. O'Hara, and a doubly loving one upon Mary.
Mrs. O'Hara expressed her acknowledgments, and regretted their intrusion at such a moment.
" Say nothing about it, I nitrate you," replied Burke : " I could have wished to render your reception more agreeable; but my poor mother's death is most unopportune for that. We can't help these things, though old people will die when their time conies." (Mrs. 0 Ham a considered the apology needless.) " However, I shall frequently see you, permit me to hope ; ' and so saying, their herculean entertainer rang the bell, and ordered refreshment for his guests. Ile seemed well-inclined to continue the conversation ; but just at this moment he was summoned away to receive a cousin of distinction, who bad come from a distant county to attend the funeral ; and Alary O'Hara and her mother requested the servant might send some one to show them to their dormitory. Brief as was the view of the establithment afforded by the transit from Mr. Burke's parlour to their own apartment, it presented sonic peculiarities, which, in the eyes of the fastidious visitors, might have been all the better for a little amendment. For instance, the O'llaras, in their over-curious solicitude for comfort, might have recommended the refitting of broken windows with glass, instead of the partial, ineffective substitute of thick brown paper, or perchance a hat thrust into the aperture. They might also have suggested that the doors would much better accomplish the desirable object of excluding draughts of wind, if their locks were rendered more available to fasten aud their hinges to support them.
When they reached their room, they found the chimney smoking terribly. " Choke it, for smoke," cried the girl who had piloted them, putting her band to her eyes; " for six weeks past I've been at Dinny Mummy to go up that chimbley wid a holly -bush ; and as regular as the day come, he promised he'd do it to-morrow ; and there, now, we're poisoned wid smoke after all, and 'tis well if the house don't take fire. Oh then 'tis you, Dimly lienessy, that's the lazy behoonoeh."
" Are the thimnies ever swept? " inquired Mrs. O'Hara.
" Yes, ma'am, sometimes. This chimbley was swept this time twelvemonth; but we generally barns the soot in the parlour and drawing-room flues." At this moment a loud ken, or death-song, was suddenly upraised in the hall. The words were Irish, and every expression of affection and of eulogy was lavished upon the deceased. Mrs. O'Hara caught the words of a stanza which ascribed to the lifeless object of encomium every virtue under heaven, concluding with a record of her mild benevolence and ever open heart ana hand.
" You must all regret her sadly," said Mary to the girl.
" Oclz, many's the box on the ear she gave me, and a tight hand she laid upon the arrigath. She never gave one copper in charity for as long as she lived."
" That's not what the keeners say."
"And would your honour believe the keeners ? " inquired the girl, with a stare of surprise. " Sure them are paid for praising ; and what else could they say but that the mild lady was good ? Troth it's politic for people to die if they want a good cburarbier. There has been more good said and sung about the poor ould lady for the last three nights than ever there was for the four- score years that her honour lived." Mary was curious to know how much money was paid for these posthumous puffs ; and she ascertained, from her communicative attendant, that the keeners got half-a-crown per night apiece, together with as mach whisky as they could-drink when their laudatory strains were concluded; but they were not Permitted to exceed half a noggin of the undiluted spirit at an earlier period, lest its exhilarating qualities might produce an inconvenient effect upon their minstrelsy.