Ireland Old News

 Star and Republican Banner
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
June 19, 1832


[Most of our readers have doubtless heard before of the tragic facts related in the following narrative: the sad story is however, so well and so affectingly told by a distinguished foreigner, Prince Puckler Muskan, (whose "Tour" thro the British Islands, translated from the German, has recently been given to the literary world,) that we cannot resist the temptation of inserting it entire for the gratification of our readers.]

From a Dublin Paper.

     In an obscure corner of the town stands a house of extreme antiquity, over the door of which are still to be seen a cross and skull bones, remarkably well sculptured in black marble. The house is called the "cross-bones" and its tragical history, is as follows.- In the fifteenth century, James Linch, a man of old family and great wealth, was chosen mayor of Galway for life, an office which was then nearly equal to that of a sovereign in power and influence. He was reverenced for his inflexible rectitude, and loved for his condescension and mildness. But yet more beloved - the idol of the citizens and their fair wives - was his son, according to the chronicle, one of the most distinguished young men of his time. To perfect manly beauty and the most noble air, he united that cheerful temper, that considerate familiarity which subdues, while it seems to flatter, that attaching grace of manner, which conquers all hearts without an effort, by its mere mutual charm. On the other hand his often proved patriotism, his high-hearted generosity, his romantic courage, and complete mastery of all warlike exercises, forming part of an education singular in his age and country, securing to him the permanency of an esteem which his first aspect involuntary bespoke. So much light was not without shadow. - Deep and burning passions, a haughty temper, jealousy of all rival merit, rendered all his fine qualities so many resources of danger to himself and others. Often had his stern father, although proud of such a son, cause for bitter reproof, and for yet more anxious solicitude about the future. But even he could not resist the sweetness of youth, as quick to repent as err, and who never for a moment failed in love and in reverence to himself. After his first displeasure was past, the defects of his son appeared to him, as they did to all others, only spots on the sun. He was still further tranquilized by the vehement and tender attachment which the young man appeared to have conceived for Anna Blake, the daughter of his best friend, and a girl possessing every lovely and attaching quality. He looked forward to their union as the fulfillment of all his wishes. But fate had willed it otherwise.
     While young Lynch found more difficulty in conquering the heart of the present object of his love than he had ever experienced before, his father was called by business to Cadiz; for the great men of Galway, like the other inhabitants of considerable sea-ports in the middle ages, held trade on a large scale to be an employment nowise unworthy of noble birth. Galway was at that time so powerful, and so widely known, that, as the chronicle relates, an Arab merchant, who had long traded in these coasts from the East once inquired "in what part of Galway Ireland lay?"
     After James Lynch had delegated his authority into trusty hands, and prepared every thing for a distant journey, with an overflowing heart he blessed his son, wished him the best issue to his suit, and sailed for his destination. Wherever he went, success crowned his undertakings. For this he was much indebted to the friendly services of a Spanish merchant named Gomez, towards whom his noble heart conceived the liveliest gratitude. It happened that Gomez had an only son, who like Edward Lynch, was the idol of his family & the darling of his native city, tho' in character as well as in external experience, entirely different from him. Both were handsome; but Edward's was the beauty of the haughty and breathing Appollo, Gonsalvo's of the serene and mild St. John. The one appeared like a rock crowned with flowers; the other like a fragrant rose-covered knoll threatened by the storm. The pagan virtues adorned the one, Christian gentleness and humility the other. Gonsalvo's graceful person exhibited more softness than energy; his languid dark blue eyes more tenderness and love than boldness and pride; a soft melancholy over-shadowed his countenance, and an air of voluptuous suffering quivered about his swelling lips, around which a timid smile rarely played, like a gentle wave gliding over pearls and coral. His mind corresponded to such a person; loving and endearing, of a grave and melancholy serenity, of more internal than external activity, he preferred solitude to the business and tumult of society, but attached himself with the strongest affection to those who treated him with kindness and friendship. His inmost heart was thus warmed by a fire which, like that of a volcano buried too deep to break out at the surface, is only seen in the increased fertility of the soil above, which it clothes in the softest green, and decks with the brightest flowers.
     Thus captivating, and easily captivated, was it a wonder if he stole the palm even out of the hand of Edward Lynch? But Edward's father had no such anticipations. Full of gratitude to his friend, and of affection for his engaging son, he determined to propose to the old Gomez a marriage between Gonsalvo and his daughter. The offer was too flattering to be refused. The fathers were soon agreed; and it was resolved that Gonsalvo should accompany his future father-in-law to the coast of Ireland, and if the inclinations of the young people favored the project, their union should take place at the same time with Edward's, after which they should immediately return to Spain. Gonsalvo, who was just nineteen, accompanied the revered friend of his father with joy. His young romantic spirit enjoyed in silent and delighted anticipation, the varying scenes of strange lands which he was about to see; the wonders of the deep he would contemplate; the new sort of existence was unknown people  with whom he was to be connected; and his warm heart already attached itself to the girl, of whose charms her father gave him, perhaps, a too partial description. Every moment of the long voyage, which at that time abounded with dangers, and required a much longer period than now, increased the intimacy and mutual attachment of the travellers; and when at length they descried the port of Galway, the old Lynch congratulated himself not only on the second son which God had sent him, but on the beneficial influence which the unvarying gentleness of the amiable youth would have on Edward's darker and more vehement character. This hope likely to be completely fulfilled: Edward, who found all in Gomez that was wanting in himself, felt his own nature as it were completed by his society; and as he had already learned from his father, that he was to regard him as a brother, their friendship soon ripened into the warmest and most sincere affection. But not many months had passed, before some uneasy feelings arose in Edward's mind to trouble this harmony. Gonsalvo has become the husband of his sister, but had deferred his return to Spain for an indefinite time. He was become the object of general admiration, attention and love. Edward felt that he was less happy than formerly. For the first time in his life neglected, he could not conceal from himself that he had found a successful rival of his former universal and uncontested popularity. But what shook him most fearfully, what wounded his heart no less than his pride, what prepared for him intolerable and restless torments, was the perception which every day confirmed that Anna, whom he looked upon as his- that his Anna had ever since the arrival of the handsome stranger, become colder and colder towards himself.
     Nay, he had even imagined that in unguarded moments he had seen her speaking eyes rest, as if weighed down with heavy thoughts on the soft and gentle features of Gomez and a faint blush then pass over her pale cheek, but if his eye met hers, this soft bloom suddenly became the burning glow of fever. Yes, he could not doubt it; her whole deportment was altered; capricious, humoursome, restless, sometimes sunk in deep melancholy, then suddenly breaking into fits of violent mirth, she seemed to retain only the outward form of the sensible, clear minded, serene, and equal tempered girl she had always appeared. Every thing betrayed to the quick eye of jealousy that she was the prey of some deep seated passion, and for whom? - for whom could it be but Gomez? for him, at whose every action it was evident the inmost chords of her heart gave out their altered tone. It has been wisely said, that love is more nearly akin to hate than to liking. What passed in Edward's bosom was a proof of this. Henceforth it seemed his sole enjoyment to give pain to the woman he passionately loved; and now, in the bitterness of his heart, held her guilty of all sufferings. Whenever occasion presented itself, he sought to humble and to embarrass her, to sting her by disdainful pride, or to overwhelm her with cutting reproaches; till, conscious of her secret crime, shame and anguish overpowered the wretched girl, and she burst into torrents of tears, which alone had power to allay the scorching fever of his heart.
     But no kindly reconciliation followed those scenes, and, as with lovers, resolved the dissonance with blessed harmony. The exasperation of each was only heightened to desperation; and when he at length saw enkindled in Gomez - so little capable of concealment- the same fire which burnt in the eyes of Anna; when he thought he saw his sister neglected, and himself betrayed by a serpent whom he had cherished in his bosom - he stood at that point of human infirmity, of which the All-seeing alone can decide whether it be madness or the condition of a still-accountable creature.
     On the same night in which suspicion had driven Edward from his couch a restless wanderer, it appears that the guilty lovers for the first time met in secret. According to the subsequent confession of Edward, he had concealed himself behind a pillar and had seen Gomez, wrapped in his mantle, glide with hurried steps out of a well known side-door in the house of Anna's father, which led immediately to her apartments. At the horrible certainty which now glared upon him, the fury of hell took possession of his soul; his eyes started form their sockets, the blood rushed and throbbed as if it would burst his veins; and as a man of dying of thirst pants for a draught of cooling water, so did his whole being pant for the blood of his rival. Like an infuriate tiger, he darted upon the unhappy youth, who recognized him, and vainly fled. Edward instantly overtook him, seized him, and burying his dagger a hundred times, with strokes like lightning flashes in the quivering body, gashed with Satanic rage the beautiful features which had robbed him of his beloved, and of peace. It was not till the moon broke forth from behind a cloud, and suddenly lighted the ghastly spectacle before him- the disfigured mass, which retained scarcely a feature of his beloved friend - the streams of blood which bathed the body and all the earth around it,- that he waked with horror, as  from some internal dream. But the deed was done, and judgment was at hand. Led by the instinct of self-preservation he fled, like Cain, into the nearest wood. How long he wandered there, he could not recollect. Fear, love, repentance, despair, and at last madness, pursued him like frightful companions, and at length robbed him of consciousness- for a time annihilating the terrors of the past in forgetfulness; for kind nature puts an end to intolerable suffering of mind, as body, by insensibility or death.- Meanwhile the murder was soon known in the city; and the fearful end of the gentle youth, who had confided himself, a foreigner, to their hospitality, was learned by all with sorrow and indignation.
     A dagger, steeped in blood, had been found lying by the velvet cap of the Spaniard, and not far from it a hat, ornamented with plumes and a clasp of gems, showed the recent traces of a man who seemed to have sought safety in the direction of the wood. The hat was immediately recognized as Edward's and as he was no where to be found, fears were entertained that he had been murdered with his friend. The terrified father mounted his horse, and accompanied by a crowd of people, calling for vengeance, swore solemnly that nothing should save the murderer, were he even compelled to execute him with his own hands. We may imagine the shouts of joy, and the feelings of the father, when, at break of day, Edward Lynch was found sunk under a tree, living, and although covered with blood, yet apparently without any dangerous wound. We may imagine the shudder which ran through the crowd - the feelings the father we cannot imagine - when, restored to sense, he embraced his father's knees declared himself the murderer of Gonsalvo and earnestly implored instant punishment. He was brought home bound, tried before a full assembly of magistrates, and condemned to death by his own father. But the people would not lose their darling. Like the waves of the tempest-troubled sea, they filled the market-place and the streets, and forgetting the crime of the son in the relentless justice of the father, demanded with threatening cries the opening of the prison and the pardon of the criminal. During the night, though the guards were doubled, it was with great difficulty that the mob were withheld from breaking in. Towards morning, it was announced to the mayor that all resistance would soon be in vain, for that part of the soldiers had gone over to the people; - only the foreign guard held out - and all demanded with furious cries the instant ? of the criminal. At this the inflexible magistrate took a resolution, which many will call inhuman, but whose awful self-conquest certainly belongs to the rarest example of stoical firmness. Accompanied by a priest, he proceeded through a secret passage to the dungeon of his son; and when, with newly awakened desire of life, excited by the sympathy of his fellow citizens, Edward sunk at his feet, and asked him eagerly if he brought him mercy and pardon!- The old man replied with faltering voice, "No my son, in this world there is no mercy for you; your life forfeited to the law and at sun-rise you must die. One-and-twenty years I have prayed for your earthly happiness -but that is past - turn your thoughts now to eternity; and if there be yet hope there, let us kneel down together and implore the Almighty to grant you mercy hereafter; but then I hope my son, though he could not live worthy of his father, will at least know how to die worthy of him."
     With these words he rekindled the noble pride of the once dauntless youth, and after a short prayer, he surrendered himself with heroic resignation to his father's pitiless will. As the people, and the greater part of the armed men mingled in the ranks, now prepared amidst more wild and furious menaces, to storm the prison, James Lynch appeared at a lofty window; his son stood at his side, with the halter round his neck.- "I have swore, " exclaimed the inflexible magistrate, that Gonsalvo's murderer should die, even though I must perform the office of the executioner myself. Providence has taken me at my word; and you, madmen, learn from the most wretched of fathers, that nothing must stop the course of justice, and that even the ties of nature must break before it." While he spoke these words he made fast the rope to an iron beam projecting from the wall, and now suddenly pushed his son out of the window, he completed his dreadful work. Nor did he leave the spot till the last convulsive struggles gave certainty of the death of his unhappy victim. As if struck by a thunder-clap, the tumultuous mob had beheld the horrible spectacle in death like silence, and every man glided, as if stunned, to his own house.- From that moment the mayor of Galway resigned all his occupations and dignities, and was never beheld by any eye but his own family. He never left his house till he was carried from it to his grave.- Ann Blake died in a convent. Both families, in course of time disappeared from the earth, but the skull and the cross bones still mark the scene of this fearful tragedy.

Submitted by cml


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