"-----------------------That Sottish elf
Who quaffs with swollen lips the ruby wine,
Draining the cellar with as free a hand
As if it were his purse which ne'er lack'd coin ;--
And then, with feign'd contrition ruminates
Upon his wasteful pranks, and revelry,
In some secluded dell or lonely grove
Tinsel'd by Twilight." -
THE HAUNTED CELLAR.
There are few people who have not heard of
the Mac Carthies - one of the real old Irish
families, with the true Milesian blood running in
their veins, as thick as buttermilk. Many were
the clans of this family in the south; as the Mac
Carthy-more - and the Mac Carthy-reagh--and
the Mac Carthy of Muskerry; and all of them
were noted for their hospitality to strangers,
gentle and simple.
But not one of that name, or of any other, ex-
ceeded Justin Mac Carthy, of Ballinacarthy, at
putting plenty to eat and drink upon his table;
and there was a right hearty welcome for every
one who would share it with him. Many a wine-
cellar would be ashamed of the name if that at
Ballinacarthy was the proper pattern for one;
large as that cellar was, it was crowded with bins
of wine, and long rows of pipes, and hogsheads,
and casks, that it would take more time to count
than any sober man could spare in such a place,
with plenty to drink about him, and a hearty wel-
come to do so.
There are many, no doubt, who will think that
the butler would have little to complain of in such
a house; and the whole country round would
have agreed with them, if a man could be found
to remain as Mr. Mac Carthy's butler for any
length of time worth speaking of; yet not one
who had been in his service gave him a bad
"We have no fault," they would say, "to find
with the master, and if he could but get any one
to fetch his wine from the cellar, we might every
one of us have grown gray in the house, and have
lived quiet and contented enough in his service
until the end of our days."
" 'Tis a queer thing that, surely," thought
young Jack Leary, a lad who had been brought
up from a mere child in the stables of Ballina-
carthy to assist in taking care of the horses, and
had occasionally lent a hand in the butler's pan-
try : - " 'tis a mighty queer thing, surely, that
one man after another cannot content himself
with the best place in the house of a good master,
but that every one of them must quit, all through
the means, as they say, of the wine-cellar. If
the master, long life to him! would but make me
his butler, I warrant never the word more would
be heard of grumbling at his bidding to go to the
Young Leary accordingly watched for what he
conceived to be a favourable opportunity of pre-
senting himself to the notice of his master.
A few mornings after, Mr. Mac Carthy went
into his stable-yard rather earlier than usual, and
called loudly for the groom to saddle his horse, as
he intended going out with the hounds. But
there was no groom to answer, and young Jack
Leary led Rainbow out of the stable.
"Where is William?" enquired Mr. Mac
"Sir?" said Jack; and Mr. Mac Carthy re-
peated the question.
"Is it William, please your honour?" returned
Jack; " why, then, to tell the truth, he had just
one drop too much last night."
"Where did he get it?" said Mr. Mac Carthy;
"for since Thomas went away, the key of the
wine-cellar has been in my pocket, and I have
been obliged to fetch what was drank myself."
"Sorrow a know I know," said Leary, "unless
the cook might have given him the least taste in
life of whiskey. But," continued he, performing
a low bow by seizing with his right hand a lock
of hair, and pulling down his head by it, whilst
his left leg, which had been put forward, was
scraped back against the ground, "may I make
so bold as just to ask your honour one question?"
"Speak out, Jack," said Mr. Mac Carthy.
"Why, then, does your honour want a butler?"
" Can you recommend me one," returned his
master, with the smile of good-humour upon his
countenance, "and one who will not be afraid of
going to my wine-cellar?"
"Is the wine-cellar all the matter?" said young
Leary; "devil a doubt I have of myself then for
" So you mean to offer me your services in the
capacity of butler?" said Mr. Mac Carthy, with
"Exactly so," answered Leary, now for the
first time looking up from the ground.
"Well, I believe you to be a good lad, and have
no objection to give you a trial."
"Long may your honor reign over us, and
the Lord spare you to us !" ejaculated Leary,
with another national bow, as his master rode off;
and he continued for some time to gaze after him
with a vacant stare, which slowly and gradually
assumed a look of importance.
"Jack Leary," said he at length, "Jack - is it
Jack ?"in a tone of wonder; " faith, 'tis not Jack
now, but Mr. John, the butler;" and with an air
of becoming consequence he strided out of the
stable-yard towards the kitchen.
It is of little purport to my story, although it
may afford an instructive lesson to the reader, to
depict the sudden transition of nobody into some-
body. Jack's former stable companion, a poor
superannuated hound named Bran, who had been
accustomed to receive many an affectionate pat on
the head, was spurned from him with a kick and
an " Out of the way, sirrah." Indeed, poor Jack's
memory seemed sadly affected by this sudden
change of situation. What established the point
beyond all doubt was his almost forgetting the
pretty face of Peggy, the kitchen wench, whose
heart he had assailed but the preceding week
by the offer of purchasing a gold ring for the
fourth finger of her right hand, and a lusty im-
print of good-will upon her lips.
When Mr. Mac Carthy returned from hunting,
he sent for Jack Leary- so he still continued to
call his new butler. "Jack," said he, "I believe
you are a trustworthy lad, and here are the keys
of my cellar. I have asked the gentlemen with
whom I hunted to-day to dine with me, and I
hope they may be satisfied at the way in which
you will wait on them at table; but above all, let
there be no want of wine after dinner."
Mr. John having a tolerably quick eye for such
things, and being naturally a handy lad, spread
his cloth accordingly, laid his plates and knives
and forks in the same manner he had seen his
predecessors in office perform these mysteries,
and really, for the first time, got through attend-
ance on dinner very well.
It must not be forgotten, however, that it was
at the house of an Irish country squire, who was
entertaining a company of booted and spurred
fox-hunters, not very particular about what are
considered matters of infinite importance under
other circumstances and in other societies.
For instance, few of Mr. Mac Carthy's guests,
(though all excellent and worthy men in their
way,) cared much whether the punch produced
after soup was made of Jamaica or Antigua rum ;
some even would not have been inclined to ques-
tion the correctness of good old Irish whiskey; and,
with the exception of their liberal host himself,
every one in company preferred the port which
Mr. Mac Carthy put on his table to the less ardent
flavour of claret, a choice rather at variance
with modern sentiment.
It was waxing near midnight, when Mr. Mac
Carthy rang the bell three times. This was a
signal for more wine; and Jack proceeded to the
cellar to procure a fresh supply, but it must be
confessed not without some little hesitation.
The luxury of ice was then unknown in the
south of Ireland; but the superiority of cool wine
had been acknowledged by all men of sound judg-
ment and true taste.
The grandfather of Mr. Mac Carthy, who had
built the mansion of Ballinacarthy upon the site
of an old castle which had belonged to his ances-
tors, was fully aware of this important fact; and
in the construction of his magnificent wine-cellar
had availed himself of a deep vault, excavated
out of the solid rock in former times as a place
of retreat and security. The descent to this vault
was by a flight of steep stone stairs, and here and
there in the wall were narrow passages - I ought
rather to call them crevices; and also certain pro-
jections, which cast deep shadows, and looked very
frightful when any one went down the cellar stairs
with a single light: indeed, two lights did not
much improve the matter, for though the breadth
of the shadows became less, the narrow crevices
remained as dark and darker than ever.
Summoning up all his resolution, down went
the new butler, bearing in his right hand a lantern
and the key of the cellar, and in his left a basket,
which he considered sufficiently capacious to con-
tain an adequate stock for the remainder of the
evening: he arrived at the door without any in-
terruption whatever; but when he put the key,
which was of an ancient and clumsy kind - for it
was before the days of Bramah's patent, - and
turned it in the lock, he thought he heard a strange
kind of laughing within the cellar, to which some
empty bottles that stood upon the floor outside
vibrated so violently, that they struck against
each other: in this he could not be mistaken, al-
though he may have been deceived in the laugh,
for the bottles were just at his feet, and he saw
them in motion.
Leary paused for a moment, and looked about
him with becoming caution. He then boldly
seized the handle of the key, and turned it with
all his strength in the lock, as if he doubted his
own power of doing so; and the door flew open
with a most tremendous crash, that, if the house
had not been built upon the solid rock, would
have shook it from the foundation.
To recount what the poor fellow saw would be
impossible, for he seems not to know very clearly
himself: but what he told the cook the next morn-
ing was, that he heard a roaring and bellowing like
a mad bull, and that all the pipes and hogsheads
and casks in the cellar went rocking backwards
and forwards with so much force, that he thought
every one would have keen staved in, and that
he should have been drowned or smothered in
When Leary recovered, he made his way back
as well as he could to the dining-room, where he
found his master and the company very impatient
for his return.
"What kept you?" said Mr. Mac Carthy in an
angry voice; "and where is the wine? I rung
for it half an hour since."
" The wine is in the cellar, I hope, sir," said
Jack, trembling violently; "I hope 't is not all
"What do you mean, fool ?" exclaimed Mr.
Mac Carthy in a still more angry tone: " why
did you not fetch some with you?"
Jack looked wildly about him, and only uttered
a deep groan.
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Mac Carthy to his
guests, " this is too much. When I next see you
to dinner, 1 hope it will be in another house, for
it is impossible I can remain longer in this, where
a man has no command over his own wine-cellar,
and cannot get a butler to do his duty. I have
long thought of moving from Ballinacarthy; and I
am now determined, with the blessing of God, to
leave it to-morrow. But wine shall you have,
were I to go myself to the cellar for it." So
saying, he rose from table, took the key and
lantern from his half stupified servant, who re-
garded him with a look of vacancy, and descended
the narrow stairs, already described, which led to
When he arrived at the door, which he found
open, he thought he heard a noise, as if of rats
or mice scrambling over the casks, and on ad-
vancing perceived a little figure, about six inches
in height, seated astride upon the pipe of the
oldest port in the place, and bearing a spigot upon
his shoulder. Raising the lantern, Mr. Mac Carthy
contemplated the little fellow with wonder: he
wore a red nightcap on his head; before him
was a short leather apron, which now, from his
attitude, fell rather on one side; and he had
stockings of a light blue colour, so long as nearly
to cover the entire of his legs; with shoes, having
huge silver buckles in them, and with high heels
(perhaps out of vanity to make him appear taller).
His face was like a withered winter apple; and
his nose, which was of a bright crimson colour,
about the tip wore a delicate purple bloom, like
that of a plum: yet his eyes twinkled
"like those mites
Of candied dew in moony nights -
and his mouth twitched up at one side with an
"Ha, scoundrel!" exclaimed Mr. Mac Carthy,
"have I found you at last? disturber of my cellar
- what are you doing there?"
"Sure, and master," returned the little fellow,
looking up at him with one eye, and with the
other throwing a sly glance towards the spigot
on his shoulder, " a'n' t we going to move to-mor-
row? and sure you would not leave your own
little Cluricaune Naggeneen behind you?"
"Oh !" thought Mr. Mac Carthy, " if you are
to follow me, master Naggeneen, I don't see much
use in quitting Ballinacarthy." So filling with
wine the basket which young Leary in his fright
had left behind him, and locking the cellar door,
he rejoined his guests.
For some years after Mr. Mac Carthy had always
to fetch the wine for his table himself, as the little
Cluricaune Naggeneen seemed to feel a personal
respect towards him. Notwithstanding the la-
bour of these journeys, the worthy lord of Bal-
linacarthy lived in his paternal mansion to a good
round age, and was famous to the last for the
excellence of his wine, and the conviviality of his
company; but at the time of his death, that same
conviviality had nearly emptied his wine-cellar;
and as it was never so well filled again, nor so
often visited, the revels of master Naggeneen be-
came less celebrated, and are now only spoken of
amongst the legendary lore of the country. It is
even said that the poor little fellow took the de-
clension of the cellar so to heart, that he became
negligent and careless of himself, and that he has
been sometimes seen going about with hardly a
skreed to cover him.
Some, however, believe that he turned brogue
maker, and assert that they have seen him at his
work, and heard him whistling as merry as a
blackbird on a May morning, under the shadow of
a brown jug of foaming ale bigger- aye bigger
than himself; decently dressed enough, they say;
--only looking mighty old. But still 't is clear
he has his wits about him, since no one ever had
the luck to catch him or to get hold of the purse
he has with him, which they call spre'- na-skillinagh,
and 't said is never without a shilling in it.