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Barry Lyndon

Chapter 1
My Pedigree And Family--Undergo The Influence Of The Tender Passion
Since the days of Adam, there has been hardly a mischief done in this world but a woman
has been at the bottom of it. Ever since ours was a family (and that must be very NEAR
Adam's time,--so old, noble, and illustrious are the Barrys, as everybody knows) women
have played a mighty part with the destinies of our race.
I presume that there is no gentleman in Europe that has not heard of the house of Barry of
Barryogue, of the kingdom of Ireland, than which a more famous name is not to be found
in Gwillim or D'Hozier; and though, as a man of the world, I have learned to despise
heartily the claims of some PRETENDERS to high birth who have no more genealogy
than the lacquey who cleans my boots, and though I laugh to utter scorn the boasting of
many of my countrymen, who are all for descending from kings of Ireland, and talk of a
domain no bigger than would feed a pig as if it were a principality; yet truth compels me
to assert that my family was the noblest of the island, and, perhaps, of the universal
world; while their possessions, now insignificant and torn from us by war, by treachery,
by the loss of time, by ancestral extravagance, by adhesion to the old faith and monarch,
were formerly prodigious, and embraced many counties, at a time when Ireland was
vastly more prosperous than now. I would assume the Irish crown over my coat-of-arms,
but that there are so many silly pretenders to that distinction who bear it and render it
common.
Who knows, but for the fault of a woman, I might have been wearing it now? You start
with incredulity. I say, why not? Had there been a gallant chief to lead my countrymen,
instead or puling knaves who bent the knee to King Richard II., they might have been
freemen; had there been a resolute leader to meet the murderous ruffian Oliver Cromwell,
we should have shaken off the English for ever. But there was no Barry in the field
against the usurper; on the contrary, my ancestor, Simon de Bary, came over with the
first-named monarch, and married the daughter of the then King of Munster, whose sons
in battle he pitilessly slew.
In Oliver's time it was too late for a chief of the name of Barry to lift up his war-cry
against that of the murderous brewer. We were princes of the land no longer; our
unhappy race had lost its possessions a century previously, and by the most shameful
treason. This I know to be the fact, for my mother has often told me the story, and besides
had worked it in a worsted pedigree which hung up in the yellow saloon at Barryville
where we lived.
That very estate which the Lyndons now possess in Ireland was once the property of my
race. Rory Barry of Barryogue owned it in Elizabeth's time, and half Munster beside. The
Barry was always in feud with the O'Mahonys in those times; and, as it happened, a
certain English colonel passed through the former's country with a body of men-at-arms,
 
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