Posted in Posts and podcasts

The Connaught Smuggler – 1881 (concluded)

Cork Examiner, Supplement 23rd July, 1881 (abridged)

Galway Cathedral Photo; Norma Scheibe
Galway Cathedral
Photo; Norma Scheibe

“Madam,” said he.
“You must excuse me for stopping you.  While I have every desire to be civil to a lady, I have received information I can depend on, that you have just landed from the East India fleet with a quantity of goods about you.  You must submit to be searched; which I must now proceed to do, in the most accurate manner consistent with my respect for your sex and quality.”
Biddy was at this account, no doubt, surprised and distressed, but in no way thrown off her centre.  Without any hesitation, she replied;
“Sir, many thanks to you for your civility. I am quite aware you are but acting according to information, and doing what you consider your duty; and sir, in order to show how much you are mistaken, I shall at once alight.  I am sure, sir, a gentleman like you will help a poor, infirm woman, labouring under my sad complaint, to alight with ease. The mare – bad manners to her – is skittish, and it requires all my servant’s hands to hold her.”

To the servant she said;
“Luke, avick! This gentleman insists on taking me down.  Hold hard the beast while I am alighting – I’ll do my endeavours to get off – there sir – so Button” (speaking to her horse).
“Now, hold up your arms, sir, and I will gently drop. Yes, that will do.”
And with that she plopped herself into the little dapper excise man’s arms.
A summer tent, pitched on a Syrian meadow might as well bear up against the down tumbling avalanche as this spare man could the mountain of flesh that came over him in the form of Biddy.  Down he went sprawling, as Biddy had intended he should do, and she uppermost, moaning and heaving over him. And there they lay, when with stentorian voice, Biddy cried to her boy Luke;
“Luke, bouey, ride off; never mind me! The gentleman, I’m sure will help me up when he can! Skelp away mo bouchall.”
In the meanwhile, the excise man lay groaning and Biddy moaning.

I shall not attempt to describe the remainder of this scene. I leave it to the imagination of the reader to suppose that the smuggler kept her position just so long as she thought it gave time enough for her property being carried far away from the hands of the overwhelmed gauger.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

The Connaught Smuggler – 1881

Cork Examiner, Supplement 23rd July, 1881

Spanish arch, Galway Wikimedia Commons Photo: Sylvia
Spanish arch, Galway
Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Sylvia

The Connaught Smuggler (Part 2) (abridged)
A large fleet of East Indiamen, unable to beat up channel, due to north-easterly winds, was obliged to put into Galway Bay for water and provisions, and there these huge merchantmen lay at anchor, freighted not only with tea and indigo, but with those delicate muslins which Manchester had not yet learned to imitate.

Now, it was known to Biddy Bod that each officer and sailor, might have a supply of such valuable goods as a private venture, and to make her own market, she went on board. Expert as she was in smuggling, she knew how and where about her own ample person to stow away soft goods. She, by nature large and was also ‘prone’ to dropsy.  The swelling of her legs and body was sometimes awful. What medicine she used to get down the enlargement, whether belladonna or digitalis, is not recorded, but she did now and then keep down her dropsical dispositions and “became small by degrees and beautifully less.”
On her return from the India fleet, Biddy Bod had a full fit of ‘dropsy’. Her body was like a rhinoceros;s, her legs like those of the largest elephant of the King of Siam; she might have got the elephantiasis from being  so near, (while on board the fleet), the elephant which the Nabob of Arcot was sending as a present to Queen Charlotte.  So she landed, in all her amphoteric, west of Claddagh.  When she did she (as I may say) tapped herself.  She unrolled all the gold and silver muslin, the wonders of the India loom; Cashmere shawls from her person. These she stuffed into the hollow of an immense pillion  fastened on her large black button tailed mare.   By help of a convenient granite stone she mounted,  her man Luke before her, with her arm confidingly placed around said Luke’s waist.  They departed,  slow paced and sure, away from the town of Galway and  the custom house, the dreaded custom house. They took the road to Athenry  and all seemed safe. All of a sudden, at the turning of the road, out bounced a smart, dapper, active eyed, but rather diminutive man, and caught hold of the rein of her bridle.   More…