Home  »  The World’s Wit and Humor  »  Buying a Present for the Priest

The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Samuel Lover (1797–1868)

Buying a Present for the Priest

From “Rory O’More”

“I PROMISED my mother to bring a present to the priest from Dublin, and I could not make up my mind rightly what to get all the time I was there. I thought of a pair o’ top-boots; for, indeed, his riverence’s is none of the best, and only you know them to be top-boots, you would not take them to be top-boots, bekase the bottoms has been put in so often that the tops is wore out intirely, and is no more like top-boots than my brogues. So I wint to a shop in Dublin, and picked out the purtiest pair o’ top-boots I could see—whin I say purty, I don’t mane a flourishin’ taarin’ pair, but sich as was fit for a priest, a respectable pair of boots—and with that I pulled out my good money to pay for thim, whin jist at that minit, remembering the thricks o’ the town, I bethought o’ myself, and, says I, ‘I suppose these are the right thing?’ says I to the man. ‘You can thry them,’ says he. ‘How can I thry them?’ says I. ‘Pull them on you,’ says he. ‘Throth, an’ I’d be sorry,’ says I, ‘to take sich a liberty with them,’ says I. ‘Why, aren’t you goin’ to ware thim?’ says he. ‘Is it me?’ says I. ‘Me ware top-boots? Do you think it’s taking lave of my sinsis I am?’ says I. ‘Then what do you want to buy them for?’ says he. ‘For his riverence, Father Kinshela,’ says I. ‘Are they the right sort for him?’ ‘How should I know?’ says he. ‘You’re a purty bootmaker,’ says I, ‘not to know how to make a priest’s boot!’ ‘How do I know his size?’ says he. ‘Oh, don’t be comin’ off that way,’ says I. ‘There’s no sitch great differ betune priests and other min!’”

“I think you were very right there,” said the pale traveller.

“To be sure,” said Rory; “and it was only jist a come off for his own ignorance. ‘Tell me his size,’ says the fellow, ‘and I’ll fit him.’ ‘He’s betune five and six feet,’ says I. ‘Most men are,’ says he, laughin’ at me. He was an impidint fellow. ‘It’s not the five, nor six, but his two feet I want to know the size of,’ says he. So I persaived he was jeerin’ me, and, says I, ‘Why, then, you respectful vagabone o’ the world, you Dublin jackeen! do you mane to insinivate that Father Kinshela ever wint bare-futted in his life, that I could know the size of his fut?’ says I, and with that I threw the boots in his face. ‘Take that,’ says I, ‘you dirty thief o’ the world! You impidint vagabone o’ the world! You ignorant citizen o’ the world!’ And with that I left the place.”…

“Well, sir, on laving the shop, as soon as I kem to myself afther the fellow’s impidince, I begun to think what was the next best thing I could get for his riverence; and with that, while I was thinkin’ about it, I seen a very respectable owld gintleman goin’ by, with the most beautiful stick in his hand I ever set my eyes on, and a golden head to it that was worth its weight in gold; and it gev him such an iligant look altogether, that, says I to myself, ‘It’s the very thing for Father Kinshela, if I could get sitch another.’

“And so I wint lookin’ about me every shop seen as I wint by, and at last, in a sthreet they call Dame Sthreet—and, by the same token, I didn’t know why they called it Dame Sthreet till I ax’d, and I was towld they called it Dame Sthreet bekase the ladies were so fond of walkin’ there; and lovely craythurs they wor! And I can’t b’lieve that the town is such an onwholesome place to live in, for most o’ the ladies I seen there had the most beautiful rosy cheeks I ever clapt my eyes upon—and the beautiful rowlin’ eyes o’ them! Well, it was in Dame Sthreet, as I was sayin’, that I kem to a shop where there was a power o’ sticks, and so I wint in and looked at thim, and a man in the place kem to me, and ax’d me if I wanted a cane. ‘No,’ says I, ‘I don’t want a cane; it’s a stick I want,’ says I. ‘A cane, you mane,’ says he. ‘No,’ says I, ‘it’s a stick;’ for I was determined to have no cane, but to stick to the stick. ‘Here’s a nate one,’ says he. ‘I don’t want a nate one,’ says I, ‘but a responsible one,’ says I. ‘Faith!’ says he, ‘if an Irishman’s stick was responsible, it would have a great dale to answer for.’ And he laughed a power. I didn’t know myself what he meant, but that’s what he said.”

“It was because you asked for a responsible stick,” said the traveller.

“And why wouldn’t I,” said Rory, “when it was for his riverence I wanted it? Why wouldn’t he have a nice-lookin’, respectable, responsible stick?”

“Certainly,” said the traveller.

“Well, I picked out one that looked to my likin’—a good substantial stick, with an ivory top to it—for I seen that the goold-headed ones was so dear I couldn’t come up to them; and so says I, ‘Give me howld o’ that,’ says I, and I tuk a grip with it. I never was so surprised in my life. I thought to get a good, brave handful of a solid stick, but, my dear, it was well it didn’t fly out o’ my hand a’most, it was so light. ‘Phew!’ says I, ‘what sort of a stick is this?’ ‘I tell you it’s not a stick, but a cane,’ says he. ‘Faith! I b’lieve you,’ says I. ‘You see how good and light it is,’ says he. Think o’ that, sir! To call a stick good and light—as if there could be any good in life in a stick that wasn’t heavy, and could sthreck a good blow!’ Is it jokin’ you are?’ says I. ‘Don’t you feel it yourself?’ says he. ‘Throth, I can hardly feel it at all,’ says I. ‘Sure, that’s the beauty of it,’ says he. Think o’ the ignorant vagabone! To call a stick a beauty that was as light a’most as a bulrush! ‘And so you can hardly feel it!’ says he, grinnin’. ‘Yis, indeed,’ says I; ‘and, what’s worse, I don’t think I could make any one else feel it either.’ ‘Oh! you want a stick to bate people with!’ says he. ‘To be sure,’ says I; ‘sure, that’s the use of a stick.’ ‘To knock the sinsis out o’ people!’ says he, grinnin’ again. ‘Sartinly,’ says I, ‘if they’re saucy,’ lookin’ hard at him at the same time. ‘Well, these is only walkin’-sticks,’ says he. ‘Throth, you may say runnin’-sticks,’ says I, ‘for you daren’t stand before any one with sich a thraneen as that in your fist.’ ‘Well, pick out the heaviest o’ them you plaze,’ says he; ‘take your choice.’ So I went pokin’ and rummagin’ among them, and, if you believe me, there wasn’t a stick in their whole shop worth a kick in the shins—divil a one!”

“But why did you require such a heavy stick for the priest?”

“Bekase there is not a man in the parish wants it more,” says Rory.

“Is he so quarrelsome, then?” said the traveller.

“No, but the greatest o’ pacemakers,” says Rory.

“Then what does he want the heavy stick for?”

“For wollopin’ his flock, to be sure,” said Rory.

“Walloping?” said the traveller, choking with laughter.

“Oh, you may laugh,” said Rory, “but ’pon my sowl, you wouldn’t laugh if you were undher his hand, for he has a brave heavy one, bless him and spare him to us!”

“And what is all this walloping for?”

“Why, sir, whin we have a bit of a fight, for fun, or the regular faction one, at the fair, his riverence sometimes hears of it, and comes, av coorse.”

“Good heaven!” said the traveller, in real astonishment, “does the priest join the battle?”

“No, no, no, sir! I see you’re quite a stranger in the counthry. The priest join it! Oh! by no manes! But he comes and stops it! And, av coorse, the only way he can stop it is to ride into thim, and wallop thim all round before him, and disparse thim—scatter thim like chaff before the wind; and it’s the best o’ sticks he requires for that same.”

“But might he not use his heavy stick for that purpose, and make use of a lighter one on other occasions?”

“As for that matther, sir,” said Rory, “there’s no knowin’ the minit he might want it, for he is often necessiated to have recoorse to it. It might be, going through the village, the public-house is too full, and in he goes and dhrives thim out. Oh! it would delight your heart to see the style he clears a public-house in, in no time!”

“But wouldn’t his speaking to them answer the purpose as well?”

“Oh, no! he doesn’t like to throw away his discoorse on thim; and why should he? He keeps that for the blessed althar on Sunday, which is a fitter place for it; besides, he does not like to be sevare on us.”

“Severe!” said the traveller, in surprise; “why, haven’t you said that he thrashes you round on all occasions?”

“Yis, sir; but what o’ that? Sure that’s nothin’ to his tongue—his words is like swoords or razhors, I may say. We’re used to a lick of a stick every day, but not to sich language as his riverence sometimes murthers us with whin we displaze him. Oh! it’s terrible, so it is, to have the weight of his tongue on you! Throth, I’d rather let him bate me from this till to-morrow, than have one angry word with him.”

“I see, then, he must have a heavy stick,” said the traveller.

“To be sure he must, sir, at all times; and that was the raison I was so particular in the shop.”