Interview of Mrs Clinton and the poor Scholar in the Abbey Ruins

Scene of a gathering in Muckross Abbey. Two finely dressed women, of whom one is possibly a child, and a man with top hat and cane are walking towards another man, who has a sack on his shoulder and holds a tall hat in his hand. Another man and two women are further in the background. A wall of the ruined abbey, with gothic windows serves as the backdrop of the scene.

Inscribed in Image

  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – Interview of Mrs. Clinton & the poor Scholar in the Abbey Ruins. / See Page

Image Details

Genre Genre painting
Technique Etchings
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites
Geographical Location
  • Muckross Abbey - Named locality
  • Kerry - County
  • Munster - Province
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 6.8 cm x 9.2 cm
Published / created 1846

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account The Killarney Poor Scholar
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. p. 36
Source copy National Library of Ireland Ir 82389 s 78
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

They arrived with the setting sun, in sight of Mucruss Abbey, against whose mouldering walls were piled the bleaching bones of other generations. It is a spot peculiarly calculated for religious retirement. The party entered the ruins. In the centre of the building stands a majestic yew, whose trunk is between seven and eight feet in circumference, and its boughs form an umbrageous awning to the cloister, which is a square of twelve yards. Leaning against a broken arch near it, stood a pale, ragged, keen-looking lad. His hat lay at his feet, and a satchel with a few books, the bindings broken, and the leaves well thumbed, were spread out upon the top of it. With a native courtsey, that seems inherent [p. 36] in the Irish peasantry, he seized the front lock of his matted black hair and bowed. The curiosity of Mrs. Clinton's party was excited, and Arthur, who was fresh from Rugby school, approached him with an air of learned scorn. Mr. Meredith purposely kept back. “Who are you?” said Arthur. “A Killarney poor scholar, please your honour," replied the lad. "What is that ?" "What is that, is it ? One who asks the generous to assist him to obtain education, by helping him to buy books." "And can you read?" said. Arthur. "Yes," said the boy, and he fluently construed the first four lines of Virgil's first Eclogue. "What! Latin?" said Arthur. "Oh yes, all Latin." "I doubt it; none but gentlemen learn Latin," replied Arthur. The lad was silent. "You are no gentleman," said Arthur. [p. 37] Mr. Meredith frowned. "No, sir, no made gentleman; I must make myself one," replied the lad. "Good," muttered Mr. Meredith. "Why you cannot unless you have money, and fine clothes, and a chariot like mama's, and an Arabian pony like mine. At our school we should vote you a bore, because you are poor, and make you every one's ‘fag,’ because you are - a beggar." "God made you; and He made me: God gave you riches, and to me no money. But He has mercifully given me health as good as yours, strength greater than yours, and a desire to learn not inferior to yours. I know nothing of schools where pride is taught and humanity despised; I wish to know nothing of any such. He who has made me what I am, commands me to be forbearing to all—to be kindly to all: to think of the poor who are good with pleasure, and of the rich who are wicked with pity: to pray for their amendment, and to esteem the vir- [p. 38] tuous beggar far, far beyond the profligate prince." “How saucy!" said Sarah. “How free!" said Harriet. “How just!" exclaimed Jane. Do you reside near this place?" asked Mrs. Clinton. "In Killarney, honoured madam," replied the poor scholar. "And," mildly rejoined Mr. Meredith, "you frequent this inspiring solitude to pursue your studies?" "It is right, sir." "I am sure it is no school for any but beggars," retorted Arthur. "Again!" said Mr. Meredith. "Young gentleman," again observed the lad, "this awful spot may instruct us all. Yes, even gentlemen have studied here, wept, and wailed. Do you see that window-recess so blocked up? Not many years ago,—yes, a gentleman, stung by his sins, fled to this very school to unlearn his [p. 39] pride. These haggard skulls, which whiten in the summer suns and winter winds, told him he must die. These scattered bones read him the lesson of the vanity of riches and the folly of mere rank. Nor were they useless teachers. Here did he repent and pray; on this very spot, through many a dreary year his coffin was his bed. Here he held communion with these humbling records of mortality, and the haughtiness of your great schools was found to be but the vanity of vanities. Yes, here was new instruction for a gentleman." As he stopped, a flash of momentary triumph played upon his fine countenance. Mr. Meredith caught his hand, while a tear, excited by various emotions, trembled in his eye. "Pure and happy spirit! where can thy lot be so well cast as here? Where can the simple expressions of an incorrupt heart be more fittingly indulged than here, thus surrounded by the beautiful works of the great Being who inspires them. May He, whose help is all-sufficient, ever continue you in innocence." [p. 40] "Your honours, I have to go. Ladies, sir, young gentleman, happiness to all of you: I hope no offence." "None." And as Mrs. Clinton spoke, she, without being perceived, delicately dropped her purse into the outstretched hat of the poor scholar. [pp. 35-40]
Interview of Mrs Clinton and the poor Scholar in the Abbey Ruins