Barry Lyndon HTML version

Chapter 19
If the world were not composed of a race of ungrateful scoundrels, who share your
prosperity while it lasts, and, even when gorged with your venison and Burgundy, abuse
the generous giver of the feast, I am sure I merit a good name and a high reputation: in
Ireland, at least, where my generosity was unbounded, and the splendour of my mansion
and entertainments unequalled by any other nobleman of my time. As long as my
magnificence lasted, all the country was free to partake of it; I had hunters sufficient in
my stables to mount a regiment of dragoons, and butts of wine in my cellar which would
have made whole counties drunk for years. Castle Lyndon became the headquarters of
scores of needy gentlemen, and I never rode a- hunting but I had a dozen young fellows
of the best blood of the country riding as my squires and gentlemen of the horse. My son,
little Castle Lyndon, was a prince; his breeding and manners, even at his early age,
showed him to be worthy of the two noble families from whom he was descended: I don't
know what high hopes I had for the boy, and indulged in a thousand fond anticipations as
to his future success and figure in the world. But stern Fate had determined that I should
leave none of my race behind me, and ordained that I should finish my career, as I see it
closing now-- poor, lonely, and childless. I may have had my faults; but no man shall
dare to say of me that I was not a good and tender father. I loved that boy passionately;
perhaps with a blind partiality: I denied him nothing. Gladly, gladly, I swear, would I
have died that his premature doom might have been averted. I think there is not a day
since I lost him but his bright face and beautiful smiles look down on me out of heaven,
where he is, and that my heart does not yearn towards him. That sweet child was taken
from me at the age of nine years, when he was full of beauty and promise: and so
powerful is the hold his memory has of me that I have never been able to forget him; his
little spirit haunts me of nights on my restless solitary pillow; many a time, in the wildest
and maddest company, as the bottle is going round, and the song and laugh roaring about,
I am thinking of him. I have got a lock of his soft brown hair hanging round my breast
now: it will accompany me to the dishonoured pauper's grave; where soon, no doubt,
Barry Lyndon's worn-out old bones will be laid.
My Bryan was a boy of amazing high spirit (indeed how, coming from such a stock,
could he be otherwise?), impatient even of my control, against which the dear little rogue
would often rebel gallantly; how much more, then, of his mother's and the women's,
whose attempts to direct him he would laugh to scorn. Even my own mother ('Mrs. Barry
of Lyndon' the good soul now called herself, in compliment to my new family) was quite
unable to check him; and hence you may fancy what a will he had of his own. If it had
not been for that, he might have lived to this day: he might--but why repine? Is he not in a
better place? would the heritage of a beggar do any service to him? It is best as it is--
Heaven be good to us!--Alas! that I, his father, should be left to deplore him.
It was in the month of October I had been to Dublin, in order to see a lawyer and a
moneyed man who had come over to Ireland to consult with me about some sales of mine