Barry Lyndon HTML version

Chapter 13
I Continue My Career As A Man Of Fashion
I find I have already filled up many scores of pages, and yet a vast deal of the most
interesting portion of my history remains to be told, viz. that which describes my sojourn
in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, and the great part I played there; moving among
the most illustrious of the land, myself not the least distinguished of the brilliant circle. In
order to give due justice to this portion of my Memoirs, then,--which is more important
than my foreign adventures can be (though I could fill volumes with interesting
descriptions of the latter),--I shall cut short the account of my travels in Europe, and of
my success at the Continental Courts, in order to speak of what befell me at home.
Suffice it to say that there is not a capital in Europe, except the beggarly one of Berlin,
where the young Chevalier de Balibari was not known and admired; and where he has not
made the brave, the high-born, and the beautiful talk of him. I won 80,000 roubles from
Potemkin at the Winter Palace at Petersburg, which the scoundrelly favourite never paid
me; I have had the honour of seeing his Royal Highness the Chevalier Charles Edward as
drunk as any porter at Rome; my uncle played several matches at billiards against the
celebrated Lord C----at Spa, and I promise you did not come off a loser. In fact, by a neat
stratagem of ours, we raised the laugh against his Lordship, and something a great deal
more substantial. My Lord did not know that the Chevalier Barry had a useless eye; and
when, one day, my uncle playfully bet him odds at billiards that he would play him with a
patch over one eye, the noble lord, thinking to bite us (he was one of the most desperate
gamblers that ever lived), accepted the bet, and we won a very considerable amount of
Nor need I mention my successes among the fairer portion of the creation. One of the
most accomplished, the tallest, the most athletic, and the handsomest gentlemen of
Europe, as I was then, a young fellow of my figure could not fail of having advantages,
which a person of my spirit knew very well how to use. But upon these subjects I am
dumb. Charming Schuvaloff, black-eyed Sczotarska, dark Valdez, tender Hegenheim,
brilliant Langeac!--ye gentle hearts that knew how to beat in old times for the warm
young Irish gentleman, where are you now? Though my hair has grown grey now, and
my sight dim, and my heart cold with years, and ennui, and disappointment, and the
treachery of friends, yet I have but to lean back in my arm- chair and think, and those
sweet figures come rising up before me out of the past, with their smiles, and their
kindnesses, and their bright tender eyes! There are no women like them now--no manners
like theirs! Look you at a bevy of women at the Prince's, stitched up in tight white satin
sacks, with their waists under their arms, and compare them to the graceful figures of the
old time! Why, when I danced with Coralie de Langeac at the fetes on the birth of the
first Dauphin at Versailles, her hoop was eighteen feet in circumference, and the heels of
her lovely little mules were three inches from the ground; the lace of my jabot was worth
a thousand crowns, and the buttons of my amaranth velvet coat alone cost eighty
thousand livres. Look at the difference now! The gentlemen are dressed like boxers,
Quakers, or hackney-coachmen; and the ladies are not dressed at all. There is no