Dennis Haggarty's Wife
There was an odious Irishwoman who with her daughter used to frequent the
"Royal Hotel" at Leamington some years ago, and who went by the name of Mrs.
Major Gam. Gam had been a distinguished officer in His Majesty's service, whom
nothing but death and his own amiable wife could overcome. The widow
mourned her husband in the most becoming bombazeen she could muster, and
had at least half an inch of lampblack round the immense visiting tickets which
she left at the houses of the nobility and gentry her friends.
Some of us, I am sorry to say, used to call her Mrs. Major Gammon; for if the
worthy widow had a propensity, it was to talk largely of herself and family (of her
own family, for she held her husband's very cheap), and of the wonders of her
paternal mansion, Molloyville, county of Mayo. She was of the Molloys of that
county; and though I never heard of the family before, I have little doubt, from
what Mrs. Major Gam stated, that they were the most ancient and illustrious
family of that part of Ireland. I remember there came down to see his aunt a
young fellow with huge red whiskers and tight nankeens, a green coat, and an
awful breastpin, who, after two days' stay at the Spa, proposed marriage to Miss
S-----, or, in default, a duel with her father; and who drove a flash curricle with a
bay and a grey, and who was presented with much pride by Mrs. Gam as
Castlereagh Molloy of Molloyville. We all agreed that he was the most
insufferable snob of the whole season, and were delighted when a bailiff came
down in search of him.
Well, this is all I know personally of the Molloyville family; but at the house if you
met the widow Gam, and talked on any subject in life, you were sure to hear of it.
If you asked her to have peas at dinner, she would say, "Oh, sir, after the peas at
Molloyville, I really don't care for any others,--do I, dearest Jemima? We always
had a dish in the month of June, when my father gave his head gardener a
guinea (we had three at Molloyville), and sent him with his compliments and a
quart of peas to our neighbour, dear Lord Marrowfat. What a sweet place
Marrowfat Park is! isn't it, Jemima?" If a carriage passed by the window, Mrs.
Major Gammon would be sure to tell you that there were three carriages at
Molloyville, "the barouche, the chawiot, and the covered cyar." In the same
manner she would favour you with the number and names of the footmen of the
establishment; and on a visit to Warwick Castle (for this bustling woman made
one in every party of pleasure that was formed from the hotel), she gave us to
understand that the great walk by the river was altogether inferior to the principal
avenue of Molloyville Park. I should not have been able to tell so much about
Mrs. Gam and her daughter, but that, between ourselves, I was particularly sweet
upon a young lady at the time, whose papa lived at the "Royal," and was under
the care of Doctor Jephson.
The Jemima appealed to by Mrs. Gam in the above sentence was, of course, her
daughter, apostrophised by her mother, "Jemima, my soul's darling?" or,
"Jemima, my blessed child!" or, "Jemima, my own love!" The sacrifices that Mrs.
Gam had made for that daughter were, she said, astonishing. The money she