Barry Lyndon HTML version

Chapter 10
More Runs Of Luck
I am not going to entertain my readers with an account of my professional career as a
gamester, any more than I did with anecdotes of my life as a military man. I might fill
volumes with tales of this kind were I so minded; but at this rate, my recital would not be
brought to a conclusion for years, and who knows how soon I may be called upon to
stop? I have gout, rheumatism, gravel, and a disordered liver. I have two or three wounds
in my body, which break out every now and then, and give me intolerable pain, and a
hundred more signs of breaking up. Such are the effects of time, illness, and free-living,
upon one of the strongest constitutions and finest forms the world ever saw. Ah! I
suffered from none of these ills in the year '66, when there was no man in Europe more
gay in spirits, more splendid in personal accomplishments, than young Redmond Barry.
Before the treachery of the scoundrel Pippi, I had visited many of the best Courts of
Europe; especially the smaller ones, where play was patronised, and the professors of that
science always welcome. Among the ecclesiastical principalities of the Rhine we were
particularly well received. I never knew finer or gayer Courts than those of the Electors
of Treves and Cologne, where there was more splendour and gaiety than at Vienna; far
more than in the wretched barrack-court of Berlin. The Court of the Archduchess-
Governess of the Netherlands was, likewise, a royal place for us knights of the dice-box
and gallant votaries of fortune; whereas in the stingy Dutch or the beggarly Swiss
republics, it was impossible for a gentleman to gain a livelihood unmolested.
After our mishap at Mannheim, my uncle and I made for the Duchy of X---. The reader
may find out the place easily enough; but I do not choose to print at full the names of
some illustrious persons in whose society I then fell, and among whom I was made the
sharer in a very strange and tragical adventure.
There was no Court in Europe at which strangers were more welcome than at that of the
noble Duke of X---; none where pleasure was more eagerly sought after, and more
splendidly enjoyed. The Prince did not inhabit his capital of S---, but, imitating in every
respect the ceremonial of the Court of Versailles, built himself a magnificent palace at a
few leagues from his chief city, and round about his palace a superb aristocratic town,
inhabited entirely by his nobles, and the officers of his sumptuous Court. The people
were rather hardly pressed, to be sure, in order to keep up this splendour; for his
Highness's dominions were small, and so he wisely lived in a sort of awful retirement
from them, seldom showing his face in his capital, or seeing any countenances but those
of his faithful domestics and officers. His palace and gardens of Ludwigslust were
exactly on the French model. Twice a week there were Court receptions, and grand Court
galas twice a month. There was the finest opera out of France, and a ballet unrivalled in
splendour; on which his Highness, a great lover of music and dancing, expended
prodigious sums. It may be because I was then young, but I think I never saw such an
assemblage of brilliant beauty as used to figure there on the stage of the Court theatre, in