A fascinating insight into nineteenth-century Irish law and actual cases passing before a magistrate.
This edition first published in 1880, and re-published in 2017.
In submitting the following pages to the consideration of the public, I am influenced by a desire to extend the appetite which is so greedy in devouring fiction to some morsels of fact.
Several of my narratives refer to incidents which, in their disclosures, might occasion disagreeable feelings to the parties or to their kindred. In such cases, I shall adopt fictitious names; but in all the details offered to the reader, I shall include nothing which I do not firmly believe or personally know to be strictly true. To the former class must be referred several anecdotes derived from parental lips, and referring to years previous to my birth. In a theatre, the performers are neither applauded nor hissed from behind the scenes. The judgment which they have to encounter is that of the audience. As a literary manager, I shall leave each tragic or comic incident to the unbiased opinion and criticism of my readers. I shall occasionally have to encounter the danger arising from allowing a great culprit to escape, or a virtuous and estimable individual to undergo misfortune. In this respect the writer of fiction possesses a vast advantage. He can lavish every worldly blessing on the deserving, and allot the direst punishments to vice and crime. But when we have to deal with stern realities, we may regret the occurrence of a fact which leaves guilt undetected and innocence in deep affliction. I can, however, safely assert, upon the experience of a long professional and official life, that vice seldom attains to great worldly prosperity, and that worth and integrity are rarely subjected to utter destitution.
It is difficult to classify anecdotes or reminiscences which are not connected with each other. The course I propose to adopt is to lay before my readers the narratives which I have derived from sources anterior to my birth, from lips truthful and occasionally humorous, but now silent for ever. I shall reserve, as far as possible, my own personal recollections for the latter part of this publication, in the hope that the amusement and information obtained from others, may soften the critical reader to an indulgent reception of the portion peculiarly connected with myself. I may remark that some anecdotes in which my name is introduced have been very extensively published in several periodicals. I accord to their authors my willing testimony as to their great imaginative power, for in the statements concerning me there is not one word of truth. My friend, Mr. Fitzpatrick, in his recent productions of "The Sham Squire" and "Ireland before the Union," has mentioned me as the source from which he derived the particulars of a few incidents in those interesting works. His unexaggerated correctness forms a strong contrast to the flippant fictions of others. However, when my name is brought before the public, in reference either to fiction or fact, it affords me some apology for appearing in propriâ personâ.
F. T. P.
29th October, 1875.