Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray - HTML preview
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Chapter 9I Appear In A Manner Becoming My Name And Lineage Fortune smiling at parting upon Monsieur de Balibari, enabled him to win a handsome sum with his faro-bank.
At ten o'clock the next morning, the carriage of the Chevalier de Balibari drew up as usual at the door of his hotel; and the Chevalier, who was at his window, seeing the chariot arrive, came down the stairs in his usual stately manner.'Where is my rascal Ambrose?' said he, looking around and not finding his servant to open the door.
'I will let down the steps for your honour,' said a gendarme, who was standing by the carriage; and no sooner had the Chevalier entered, than the officer jumped in after him, another mounted the box by the coachman, and the latter began to drive.'Good gracious!' said the Chevalier, 'what is this?' 'You are going to drive to the frontier,' said the gendarme, touching his hat. 'It is shameful--infamous! I insist upon being put down at the Austrian Ambassador's house!' 'I have orders to gag your honour if you cry out,' said the gendarme. 'All Europe shall hear of this!' said the Chevalier, in a fury. 'As you please,' answered the officer, and then both relapsed into silence.
The silence was not broken between Berlin and Potsdam, through which place the Chevalier passed as His Majesty was reviewing his guards there, and the regiments of Bulow, Zitwitz, and Henkel de Donnersmark. As the Chevalier passed His Majesty, the King raised his hat and said, 'Qu'il ne descende pas: je lui souhaite un bon voyage.' The Chevalier de Balibari acknowledged this courtesy by a profound bow.They had not got far beyond Potsdam, when boom! the alarm cannon began to roar. 'It is a deserter,' said the officer. 'Is it possible?' said the Chevalier, and sank back into his carriage again.
Hearing the sound of the guns, the common people came out along the road with fowlingpieces and pitchforks, in hopes to catch the truant. The gendarmes seemed very anxious to be on the look-out for him too. The price of a deserter was fifty crowns to those who brought him in.
'Confess, sir,' said the Chevalier to the police officer in the carriage with him, 'that you long to be rid of me, from whom you can get nothing, and to be on the look-out for the deserter who may bring you in fifty crowns? Why not tell the postilion to push on? You may land me at the frontier and get back to your hunt all the sooner.' The officer told the postillion to get on; but the way seemed intolerably long to the Chevalier. Once or twice he thought he heard the noise of horse galloping behind: his own horses did not seem to go two miles an hour; but they DID go. The black and white barriers came in view at last, hard by Bruck, and opposite them the green and yellow of Saxony. The Saxon customhouse officers came out.'I have no luggage,' said the Chevalier. 'The gentleman has nothing contraband,' said the Prussian officers, grinning, and took their leave of their prisoner with much respect. The Chevalier de Balibari gave them a Frederic apiece.
'Gentlemen,' said he, 'I wish you a good day. Will you please to go to the house whence we set out this morning, and tell my man there to send on my baggage to the "Three Kings" at Dresden?'Then ordering fresh horses, the Chevalier set off on his journey for that capital. I need not tell you that _I_ was the Chevalier. 'From the Chevalier de Balibari to Redmond Barry, Esquire, Gentilhomme Anglais, a l'Hotel des 3 Couronnes, a Dresde en Saxe.
'Nephew Redmond,--This comes to you by a sure hand, no other than Mr. Lumpit of the English Mission, who is acquainted, as all Berlin will be directly, with our wonderful story. They only know half as yet; they only know that a deserter went off in my clothes, and all are in admiration of your cleverness and valour.
'I confess that for two hours after your departure I lay in bed in no small trepidation, thinking whether His Majesty might have a fancy to send me to Spandau, for the freak of which we had both been guilty. But in that case I had taken my precautions: I had written a statement of the case to my chief, the Austrian Minister, with the full and true story how you had been set to spy upon me, how you turned out to be my very near relative, how you had been kidnapped yourself into the service, and how we both had determined to effect your escape. The laugh would have been so much against the King, that he never would have dared to lay a finger upon me. What would Monsieur de Voltaire have said to such an act of tyranny? 'But it was a lucky day, and everything has turned out to my wish. As I lay in my bed two and a half hours after your departure, in comes your ex-Captain Potzdorff. "Redmont!" says he, in his imperious High- Dutch way, "are you there?" No answer. "The rogue is gone out," said he; and straightway makes for my red box where I keep my love- letters, my glass eye which I used to wear, my favourite lucky dice with which I threw the thirteen mains at Prague; my two sets of Paris teeth, and my other private matters that you know of.
'He first tried a bunch of keys, but none of them would fit the little English lock. Then my gentleman takes out of his pocket a chisel and hammer, and falls to work like a professional burglar, actually bursting open my little box!
'Now was my time to act. I advance towards him armed with an immense water-jug. I come noiselessly up to him just as he had broken the box, and with all my might I deal him such a blow over the head as smashes the water-jug to atoms, and sends my captain with a snort lifeless to the ground. I thought I had killed him.
'Then I ring all the bells in the house; and shout and swear and scream, "Thieves!-thieves!--landlord!--murder!--fire!" until the whole household come tumbling up the stairs. "Where is my servant?" roar I. "Who dares to rob me in open day? Look at the villain whom I find in the act of breaking my chest open! Send for the police, send for his Excellency the Austrian Minister! all Europe shall know of this insult!"'"Dear Heaven!" says the landlord, "we saw you go away three hours ago!"
'"ME!" says I; "why, man, I have been in bed all the morning. I am ill--I have taken physic--I have not left the house this morning! Where is that scoundrel Ambrose? But, stop! where are my clothes and wig?" for I was standing before them in my chambergown and stockings, with my nightcap on.'"I have it--I have it!" says a little chambermaid: "Ambrose is off in your honour's dress." '"And my money--my money!" says I; "where is my purse with forty- eight Frederics in it? But we have one of the villains left. Officers, seize him!" '"It's the young Herr von Potzdorff!" says the landlord, more and more astonished. '"What! a gentleman breaking open my trunk with hammer and chisel-- impossible!"
'Herr von Potzdorff was returning to life by this time, with a swelling on his skull as big as a saucepan; and the officers carried him off, and the judge who was sent for dressed a proces verbal of the matter, and I demanded a copy of it, which I sent forthwith to my ambassador.
'I was kept a prisoner to my room the next day, and a judge, a general, and a host of lawyers, officers, and officials, were set upon me to bully, perplex, threaten, and cajole me. I said it was true you had told me that you had been kidnapped into the service, that I thought you were released from it, and that I had you with the best recommendations. I appealed to my Minister, who was bound to come to my aid; and, to make a long story short, poor Potzdorff is now on his way to Spandau; and his uncle, the elder Potzdorff, has brought me five hundred louis, with a humble request that I would leave Berlin forthwith, and hush up this painful matter.
'I shall be with you at the "Three Crowns" the day after you receive this. Ask Mr. Lumpit to dinner. Do not spare your money--you are my son. Everybody in Dresden knows your loving uncle,'THE CHEVALIER DE BALIBARI.'
And by these wonderful circumstances I was once more free again: and I kept my resolution then made, never to fall more into the hands of any recruiter, and henceforth and for ever to be a gentleman.
With this sum of money, and a good run of luck which ensued presently, we were enabled to make no ungenteel figure. My uncle speedily joined me at the inn at Dresden, where, under pretence of illness, I had kept quiet until his arrival; and, as the Chevalier de Balibari was in particular good odour at the Court of Dresden (having been an intimate acquaintance of the late monarch, the Elector, King of Poland, the most dissolute and agreeable of European princes), I was speedily in the very best society of the Saxon capital: where I may say that my own person and manners, and the singularity of the adventures in which I had been a hero, made me especially welcome. There was not a party of the nobility to which the two gentlemen of Balibari were not invited. I had the honour of kissing hands and being graciously received at Court by the Elector, and I wrote home to my mother such a flaming description of my prosperity, that the good soul very nearly forgot her celestial welfare and her confessor, the Reverend Joshua Jowls, in order to come after me to Germany; but travelling was very difficult in those days, and so we were spared the arrival of the good lady.
I think the soul of Harry Barry, my father, who was always so genteel in his turn of mind, must have rejoiced to see the position which I now occupied; all the women anxious to receive me, all the men in a fury; hobnobbing with dukes and counts at supper, dancing minuets with high-well-born baronesses (as they absurdly call themselves in Germany), with lovely excellencies, nay, with highnesses and transparencies themselves: who could compete with the gallant young Irish noble? who would suppose that seven weeks before I had been a common--bah! I am ashamed to think of it! One of the pleasantest moments of my life was at a grand gala at the Electoral Palace, where I had the honour of walking a polonaise with no other than the Margravine of Bayreuth, old Fritz's own sister: old Fritz's, whose hateful blue-baize livery I had worn, whose belts I had pipeclayed, and whose abominable rations of small beer and sauerkraut I had swallowed for five years.
Having won an English chariot from an Italian gentleman at play, my uncle had our arms painted on the panels in a more splendid way than ever, surmounted (as we were descended from the ancient kings) with an Irish crown of the most splendid size and gilding. I had this crown in lieu of a coronet engraved on a large amethyst signet-ring worn on my forefinger; and I don't mind confessing that I used to say the jewel had been in my family for several thousand years, having originally belonged to my direct ancestor, his late Majesty King Brian Boru, or Barry. I warrant the legends of the Heralds' College are not more authentic than mine was.
At first the Minister and the gentlemen at the English hotel used to be rather shy of us two Irish noblemen, and questioned our pretensions to rank. The Minister was a lord's son, it is true, but he was likewise a grocer's grandson; and so I told him at Count Lobkowitz's masquerade. My uncle, like a noble gentleman as he was, knew the pedigree of every considerable family in Europe. He said it was the only knowledge befitting a gentleman; and when we were not at cards, we would pass hours over Gwillim or D'Hozier, reading the genealogies, learning the blazons, and making ourselves acquainted with the relationships of our class. Alas! the noble science is going into disrepute now: so are cards, without which studies and pastimes I can hardly conceive how a man of honour can exist.
My first affair of honour with a man of undoubted fashion was on the score of my nobility, with young Sir Rumford Bumford of the English embassy; my uncle at the same time sending a cartel to the Minister, who declined to come. I shot Sir Rumford in the leg, amidst the tears of joy of my uncle, who accompanied me to the ground; and I promise you that none of the young gentlemen questioned the authenticity of my pedigree, or laughed at my Irish crown again.
What a delightful life did we now lead! I knew I was born a gentleman, from the kindly way in which I took to the business: as business it certainly is. For though it SEEMS all pleasure, yet I assure any low-bred persons who may chance to read this, that we, their betters, have to work as well as they: though I did not rise until noon, yet had I not been up at play until long past midnight? Many a time have we come home to bed as the troops were marching out to early parade; and oh! it did my heart good to hear the bugles blowing the reveille before daybreak, or to see the regiments marching out to exercise, and think that I was no longer bound to that disgusting discipline, but restored to my natural station.
I came into it at once, and as if I had never done anything else all my life. I had a gentleman to wait upon me, a French friseur to dress my hair of a morning; I knew the taste of chocolate as by intuition almost, and could distinguish between the right Spanish and the French before I had been a week in my new position; I had rings on all my fingers, watches in both my fobs, canes, trinkets, and snuffboxes of all sorts, and each outvying the other in elegance. I had the finest natural taste for lace and china of any man I ever knew; I could judge a horse as well as any Jew dealer in Germany; in shooting and athletic exercises I was unrivalled; I could not spell, but I could speak German and French cleverly. I had at the least twelve suits of clothes; three richly embroidered with gold, two laced with silver, a garnet-coloured velvet pelisse lined with sable; one of French grey, silver-laced, and lined with chinchilla. I had damask morning robes. I took lessons on the guitar, and sang French catches exquisitely. Where, in fact, was there a more accomplished gentleman than Redmond de Balibari?
All the luxuries becoming my station could not, of course, be purchased without credit and money: to procure which, as our patrimony had been wasted by our ancestors, and we were above the vulgarity and slow returns and doubtful chances of trade, my uncle kept a faro-bank. We were in partnership with a Florentine, well known in all the Courts of Europe, the Count Alessandro Pippi, as skilful a player as ever was seen; but he turned out a sad knave latterly, and I have discovered that his countship was a mere imposture. My uncle was maimed, as I have said; Pippi, like all impostors, was a coward; it was my unrivalled skill with the sword, and readiness to use it, that maintained the reputation of the firm, so to speak, and silenced many a timid gambler who might have hesitated to pay his losings. We always played on parole with anybody: any person, that is, of honour and noble lineage. We never pressed for our winnings or declined to receive promissory notes in lieu of gold. But woe to the man who did not pay when the note became due! Redmond de Balibari was sure to wait upon him with his bill, and I promise you there were very few bad debts: on the contrary, gentlemen were grateful to us for our forbearance, and our character for honour stood unimpeached. In later times, a vulgar national prejudice has chosen to cast a slur upon the character of men of honour engaged in the profession of play; but I speak of the good old days in Europe, before the cowardice of the French aristocracy (in the shameful Revolution, which served them right) brought discredit and ruin upon our order. They cry fie now upon men engaged in play; but I should like to know how much more honourable THEIR modes of livelihood are than ours. The broker of the Exchange who bulls and bears, and buys and sells, and dabbles with lying loans, and trades on State secrets, what is he but a gamester? The merchant who deals in teas and tallow, is he any better? His bales of dirty indigo are his dice, his cards come up every year instead of every ten minutes, and the sea is his green table. You call the profession of the law an honourable one, where a man will lie for any bidder; lie down poverty for the sake of a fee from wealth, lie down right because wrong is in his brief. You call a doctor an honourable man, a swindling quack, who does not believe in the nostrums which he prescribes, and takes your guinea for whispering in your ear that it is a fine morning; and yet, forsooth, a gallant man who sits him down before the baize and challenges all comers, his money against theirs, his fortune against theirs, is proscribed by your modern moral world. It is a conspiracy of the middle classes against gentlemen: it is only the shopkeeper cant which is to go down nowadays. I say that play was an institution of chivalry: it has been wrecked, along with other privileges of men of birth. When Seingalt engaged a man for six-and-thirty hours without leaving the table, do you think he showed no courage? How have we had the best blood, and the brightest eyes, too, of Europe throbbing round the table, as I and my uncle have held the cards and the bank against some terrible player, who was matching some thousands out of his millions against our all which was there on the baize! when we engaged that daring Alexis Kossloffsky, and won seven thousand louis in a single coup, had we lost, we should have been beggars the next day; when HE lost, he was only a village and a few hundred serfs in pawn the worse. When, at Toeplitz, the Duke of Courland brought fourteen lacqueys, each with four bags of florins, and challenged our bank to play against the sealed bags, what did we ask? 'Sir,' said we, 'we have but eighty thousand florins in bank, or two hundred thousand at three months. If your Highness's bags do not contain more than eighty thousand, we will meet you.' And we did, and after eleven hours' play, in which our bank was at one time reduced to two hundred and three ducats, we won seventeen thousand florins of him. Is THIS not something like boldness? does THIS profession not require skill, and perseverance, and bravery? Four crowned heads looked on at the game, and an Imperial princess, when I turned up the ace of hearts and made Paroli, burst into tears. No man on the European Continent held a higher position than Redmond Barry then; and when the Duke of Courland lost, he was pleased to say that we had won nobly; and so we had, and spent nobly what we won.
At this period my uncle, who attended mass every day regularly, always put ten florins into the box. Wherever we went, the tavern- keepers made us more welcome than royal princes. We used to give away the broken meat from our suppers and dinners to scores of beggars who blessed us. Every man who held my horse or cleaned my boots got a ducat for his pains. I was, I may say, the author of our common good fortune, by putting boldness into our play. Pippi was a faint-hearted fellow, who was always cowardly when he began to win. My uncle (I speak with great respect of him) was too much of a devotee, and too much of a martinet at play ever to win GREATLY. His moral courage was unquestionable, but his daring was not sufficient. Both of these my seniors very soon acknowledged me to be their chief, and hence the style of splendour I have described.
I have mentioned H.I.H. the Princess Frederica Amelia, who was affected by my success, and shall always think with gratitude of the protection with which that exalted lady honoured me. She was passionately fond of play, as indeed were the ladies of almost all the Courts in Europe in those days, and hence would often arise no small trouble to us; for the truth must be told, that ladies love to play, certainly, but not to PAY. The point of honour is not understood by the charming sex; and it was with the greatest difficulty, in our peregrinations to the various Courts of Northern Europe, that we could keep them from the table, could get their money if they lost, or, if they paid, prevent them from using the most furious and extraordinary means of revenge. In those great days of our fortune, I calculate that we lost no less than fourteen thousand louis by such failures of payment. A princess of a ducal house gave us paste instead of diamonds, which she had solemnly pledged to us; another organised a robbery of the Crown jewels, and would have charged the theft upon us, but for Pippi's caution, who had kept back a note of hand 'her High Transparency' gave us, and sent it to his ambassador; by which precaution I do believe our necks were saved. A third lady of high (but not princely) rank, after I had won a considerable sum in diamonds and pearls from her, sent her lover with a band of cut-throats to waylay me; and it was only by extraordinary courage, skill, and good luck, that I escaped from these villains, wounded myself, but leaving the chief aggressor dead on the ground: my sword entered his eye and broke there, and the villains who were with him fled, seeing their chief fall. They might have finished me else, for I had no weapon of defence.
Thus it will be seen that our life, for all its splendour, was one of extreme danger and difficulty, requiring high talents and courage for success; and often, when we were in a full vein of success, we were suddenly driven from our ground on account of some freak of a reigning prince, some intrigue of a disappointed mistress, or some quarrel with the police minister. If the latter personage were not bribed or won over, nothing was more common than for us to receive a sudden order of departure; and so, perforce, we lived a wandering and desultory life.
Though the gains of such a life are, as I have said, very great, yet the expenses are enormous. Our appearance and retinue was too splendid for the narrow mind of Pippi, who was always crying out at my extravagance, though obliged to own that his own meanness and parsimony would never have achieved the great victories which my generosity had won. With all our success, our capital was not very great. That speech to the Duke of Courland, for instance, was a mere boast as far as the two hundred thousand florins at three months were concerned. We had no credit, and no money beyond that on our table, and should have been forced to fly if his Highness had won and accepted our bills. Sometimes, too, we were hit very hard. A bank is a certainty, ALMOST; but now and then a bad day will come; and men who have the courage of good fortune, at least, ought to meet bad luck well: the former, believe me, is the harder task of the two.
One of these evil chances befell us in the Duke of Baden's territory, at Mannheim. Pippi, who was always on the look-out for business, offered to make a bank at the inn where we put up, and where the officers of the Duke's cuirassiers supped; and some small play accordingly took place, and some wretched crowns and louis changed hands: I trust, rather to the advantage of these poor gentlemen of the army, who are surely the poorest of all devils under the sun.
But, as ill luck would have it, a couple of young students from the neighbouring University of Heidelberg, who had come to Mannheim for their quarter's revenue, and so had some hundred of dollars between them, were introduced to the table, and, having never played before, began to win (as is always the case). As ill luck would have it, too, they were tipsy, and against tipsiness I have often found the best calculations of play fail entirely. They played in the most perfectly insane way, and yet won always. Every card they backed turned up in their favour. They had won a hundred louis from us in ten minutes; and, seeing that Pippi was growing angry and the luck against us, I was for shutting up the bank for the night, saying the play was only meant for a joke, and that now we had had enough.
But Pippi, who had quarrelled with me that day, was determined to proceed, and the upshot was, that the students played and won more; then they lent money to the officers, who began to win, too; and in this ignoble way, in a tavern room thick with tobaccosmoke, across a deal table besmeared with beer and liquor, and to a parcel of hungry subalterns and a pair of beardless students, three of the most skilful and renowned players in Europe lost seventeen hundred louis! I blush now when I think of it. It was like Charles XII or Richard Coeur de Lion falling before a petty fortress and an unknown hand (as my friend Mr. Johnson wrote), and was, in fact, a most shameful defeat.
Nor was this the only defeat. When our poor conquerors had gone off, bewildered with the treasure which fortune had flung in their way (one of these students was called the Baron de Clootz, perhaps he who afterwards lost his head at Paris), Pippi resumed the quarrel of the morning, and some exceedingly high words passed between us. Among other things I recollect I knocked him down with a stool, and was for flinging him out of the window; but my uncle, who was cool, and had been keeping Lent with his usual solemnity, interposed between us, and a reconciliation took place, Pippi apologising and confessing he had been wrong.
I ought to have doubted, however, the sincerity of the treacherous Italian; indeed, as I never before believed a word that he said in his life, I know not why I was so foolish as to credit him now, and go to bed, leaving the keys of our cash-box with him. It contained, after our loss to the cuirassiers, in bills and money, near upon L8000 sterling. Pippi insisted that our reconciliation should be ratified over a bowl of hot wine, and I have no doubt put some soporific drug into the liquor; for my uncle and I both slept till very late the next morning, and woke with violent headaches and fever: we did not quit our beds till noon. He had been gone twelve hours, leaving our treasury empty; and behind him a sort of calculation, by which he strove to make out that this was his share of the profits, and that all the losses had been incurred without his consent.
Thus, after eighteen months, we had to begin the world again. But was I cast down? No. Our wardrobes still were worth a very large sum of money; for gentlemen did not dress like parish-clerks in those days, and a person of fashion would often wear a suit of clothes and a set of ornaments that would be a shop-boy's fortune; so, without repining for one single minute, or saying a single angry word (my uncle's temper in this respect was admirable), or allowing the secret of our loss to be known to a mortal soul, we pawned three- fourths of our jewels and clothes to Moses Lowe the banker, and with the produce of the sale, and our private pocket-money, amounting in all to something less than 800 louis, we took the field again.
Chapter 10More 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 ArchduchessGoverness 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 the grand mythological ballets which were then the mode, and in which you saw Mars in red- heeled pumps and a periwig, and Venus in patches and a hoop. They say the costume was incorrect, and have changed it since; but for my part, I have never seen a Venus more lovely than the Coralie, who was the chief dancer, and found no fault with the attendant nymphs, in their trains, and lappets, and powder. These operas used to take place twice a week, after which some great officer of the Court would have his evening, and his brilliant supper, and the dice-box rattled everywhere, and all the world played. I have seen seventy play-tables set out in the grand gallery of Ludwigslust, besides the farobank; where the Duke himself would graciously come and play, and win or lose with a truly royal splendour.
It was hither we came after the Mannheim misfortune. The nobility of the Court were pleased to say our reputation had preceded us, and the two Irish gentleman were made welcome. The very first night at Court we lost 740 of our 800 louis; the next evening, at the Court Marshal's table, I won them back, with 1300 more. You may be sure we allowed no one to know how near we were to ruin on the first evening; but, on the contrary, I endeared every one to me by my gay manner of losing, and the Finance Minister himself cashed a note for 400 ducats, drawn by me upon my steward of Ballybarry Castle in the kingdom of Ireland; which very note I won from his Excellency the next day, along with a considerable sum in ready cash. In that noble Court everybody was a gambler. You would see the lacqueys in the ducal ante-rooms at work with their dirty packs of cards; the coach and chair men playing in the court, while their masters were punting in the saloons above; the very cook-maids and scullions, I was told, had a bank, where one of them, an Italian confectioner, made a handsome fortune: he purchased afterwards a Roman marquisate, and his son has figured as one of the most fashionable of the illustrious foreigners in London. The poor devils of soldiers played away their pay when they got it, which was seldom; and I don't believe there was an officer in any one of the guard regiments but had his cards in his pouch, and no more forgot his dice than his sword-knot. Among such fellows it was diamond cut diamond. What you call fair play would have been a folly. The gentlemen of Ballybarry would have been fools indeed to appear as pigeons in such a hawk's nest. None but men of courage and genius could live and prosper in a society where every one was bold and clever; and here my uncle and I held our own: ay, and more than our own.
His Highness the Duke was a widower, or rather, since the death of the reigning Duchess, had contracted a morganatic marriage with a lady whom he had ennobled, and who considered it a compliment (such was the morality of those days) to be called the Northern Dubarry. He had been married very young, and his son, the Hereditary Prince, may be said to have been the political sovereign of the State: for the reigning Duke was fonder of pleasure than of politics, and loved to talk a great deal more with his grand huntsman, or the director of his opera, than with ministers and ambassadors.
The Hereditary Prince, whom I shall call Prince Victor, was of a very different character from his august father. He had made the Wars of the Succession and Seven Years with great credit in the Empress's service, was of a stern character, seldom appeared at Court, except when ceremony called him, but lived almost alone in his wing of the palace, where he devoted himself to the severest studies, being a great astronomer and chemist. He shared in the rage then common throughout Europe, of hunting for the philosopher's stone; and my uncle often regretted that he had no smattering of chemistry, like Balsamo (who called himself Cagliostro), St. Germain, and other individuals, who had obtained very great sums from Duke Victor by aiding him in his search after the great secret. His amusements were hunting and reviewing the troops; but for him, and if his good-natured father had not had his aid, the army would have been playing at cards all day, and so it was well that the prudent prince was left to govern.
Duke Victor was fifty years of age, and his princess, the Princess Olivia, was scarce three-and-twenty. They had been married seven years, and in the first years of their union the Princess had borne him a son and a daughter. The stern morals and manners, the dark and ungainly appearance, of the husband, were little likely to please the brilliant and fascinating young woman, who had been educated in the south (she was connected with the ducal house of S---), who had passed two years at Paris under the guardianship of Mesdames the daughters of His Most Christian Majesty, and who was the life and soul of the Court of X---, the gayest of the gay, the idol of her august father-in-law, and, indeed, of the whole Court. She was not beautiful, but charming; not witty, but charming, too, in her conversation as in her person. She was extravagant beyond all measure; so false, that you could not trust her; but her very weaknesses were more winning than the virtues of other women, her selfishness more delightful than others' generosity. I never knew a woman whose faults made her so attractive. She used to ruin people, and yet they all loved her. My old uncle has seen her cheating at ombre, and let her win 400 louis without resisting in the least. Her caprices with the officers and ladies of her household were ceaseless: but they adored her. She was the only one of the reigning family whom the people worshipped. She never went abroad but they followed her carriage with shouts of acclamation: and, to be generous to them, she would borrow the last penny from one of her poor maids of honour, whom she would never pay. In the early days her husband was as much fascinated by her as all the rest of the world was; but her caprices had caused frightful outbreaks of temper on his part, and an estrangement which, though interrupted by almost mad returns of love, was still general. I speak of her Royal Highness with perfect candour and admiration, although I might be pardoned for judging her more severely, considering her opinion of myself. She said the elder Monsieur de Balibari was a finished old gentleman, and the younger one had the manners of a courier. The world has given a different opinion, and I can afford to chronicle this almost single sentence against me. Besides, she had a reason for her dislike to me, which you shall hear.
Five years in the army, long experience of the world, had ere now dispelled any of those romantic notions regarding love with which I commenced life; and I had determined, as is proper with gentlemen (it is only your low people who marry for mere affection), to consolidate my fortunes by marriage. In the course of our peregrinations, my uncle and I had made several attempts to carry this object into effect; but numerous disappointments had occurred which are not worth mentioning here, and had prevented me hitherto from making such a match as I thought was worthy of a man of my birth, abilities, and personal appearance. Ladies are not in the habit of running away on the Continent, as is the custom in England (a custom whereby many honourable gentlemen of my country have much benefited!); guardians, and ceremonies, and difficulties of all kinds intervene; true love is not allowed to have its course, and poor women cannot give away their honest hearts to the gallant fellows who have won them. Now it was settlements that were asked for; now it was my pedigree and title-deeds that were not satisfactory: though I had a plan and rent-roll of the Ballybarry estates, and the genealogy of the family up to King Brian Boru, or Barry, most handsomely designed on paper; now it was a young lady who was whisked off to a convent just as she was ready to fall into my arms; on another occasion, when a rich widow of the Low Countries was about to make me lord of a noble estate in Flanders, comes an order of the police which drives me out of Brussels at an hour's notice, and consigns my mourner to her chateau. But at X---I had an opportunity of playing a great game: and had won it too, but for the dreadful catastrophe which upset my fortune.
In the household of the Hereditary Princess there was a lady nineteen years of age, and possessor of the greatest fortune in the whole duchy. The Countess Ida, such was her name, was daughter of a late Minister and favourite of his Highness the Duke of X---and his Duchess, who had done her the honour to be her sponsors at birth, and who, at the father's death, had taken her under their august guardianship and protection. At sixteen she was brought from her castle, where, up to that period, she had been permitted to reside, and had been placed with the Princess Olivia, as one of her Highness's maids of honour.
The aunt of the Countess Ida, who presided over her house during her minority, had foolishly allowed her to contract an attachment for her cousin-german, a penniless sublieutenant in one of the Duke's foot regiments, who had flattered himself to be able to carry off this rich prize; and if he had not been a blundering silly idiot indeed, with the advantage of seeing her constantly, of having no rival near him, and the intimacy attendant upon close kinsmanship, might easily, by a private marriage, have secured the young Countess and her possessions. But he managed matters so foolishly, that he allowed her to leave her retirement, to come to Court for a year, and take her place in the Princess Olivia's household; and then what does my young gentleman do, but appear at the Duke's levee one day, in his tarnished epaulet and threadbare coat, and make an application in due form to his Highness, as the young lady's guardian, for the hand of the richest heiress in his dominions!
The weakness of the good-natured Prince was such that, as the Countess Ida herself was quite as eager for the match as her silly cousin, his Highness might have been induced to allow the match, had not the Princess Olivia been induced to interpose, and to procure from the Duke a peremptory veto to the hopes of the young man. The cause of this refusal was as yet unknown; no other suitor for the young lady's hand was mentioned, and the lovers continued to correspond, hoping that time might effect a change in his Highness's resolutions; when, of a sudden, the lieutenant was drafted into one of the regiments which the Prince was in the habit of selling to the great powers then at war (this military commerce was a principal part of his Highness's and other princes' revenues in those days), and their connection was thus abruptly broken off.
It was strange that the Princess Olivia should have taken this part against a young lady who had been her favourite; for, at first, with those romantic and sentimental notions which almost every woman has, she had somewhat encouraged the Countess Ida and her penniless lover, but now suddenly turned against them; and, from loving the Countess, as she previously had done, pursued her with every manner of hatred which a woman knows how to inflict: there was no end to the ingenuity of her tortures, the venom of her tongue, the bitterness of her sarcasm and scorn. When I first came to Court at X--, the young fellows there had nicknamed the young lady the Dumme Grafinn, the stupid Countess. She was generally silent, handsome, but pale, stolid-looking, and awkward; taking no interest in the amusements of the place, and appearing in the midst of the feasts as glum as the death's-head which, they say, the Romans used to have at their tables.
It was rumoured that a young gentleman of French extraction, the Chevalier de Magny, equerry to the Hereditary Prince, and present at Paris when the Princess Olivia was married to him by proxy there, was the intended of the rich Countess Ida; but no official declaration of the kind was yet made, and there were whispers of a dark intrigue: which, subsequently, received frightful confirmation.
This Chevalier de Magny was the grandson of an old general officer in the Duke's service, the Baron de Magny. The Baron's father had quitted France at the expulsion of Protestants after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and taken service in X--, where he died. The son succeeded him, and, quite unlike most French gentlemen of birth whom I have known, was a stern and cold Calvinist, rigid in the performance of his duty, retiring in his manners, mingling little with the Court, and a close friend and favourite of Duke Victor; whom he resembled in disposition.
The Chevalier his grandson was a true Frenchman; he had been born in France, where his father held a diplomatic appointment in the Duke's service. He had mingled in the gay society of the most brilliant Court in the world, and had endless stories to tell us of the pleasures of the petites maisons, of the secrets of the Parc aux Cerfs, and of the wild gaieties of Richelieu and his companions. He had been almost ruined at play, as his father had been before him; for, out of the reach of the stern old Baron in Germany, both son and grandson had led the most reckless of lives. He came back from Paris soon after the embassy which had been despatched thither on the occasion of the marriage of the Princess, was received sternly by his old grandfather; who, however, paid his debts once more, and procured him the post in the Duke's household. The Chevalier de Magny rendered himself a great favourite of his august master; he brought with him the modes and the gaieties of Paris; he was the deviser of all the masquerades and balls, the recruiter of the ballet-dancers, and by far the most brilliant and splendid young gentleman of the Court.
After we had been a few weeks at Ludwigslust, the old Baron de Magny endeavoured to have us dismissed from the duchy; but his voice was not strong enough to overcome that of the general public, and the Chevalier de Magny especially stood our friend with his Highness when the question was debated before him. The Chevalier's love of play had not deserted him. He was a regular frequenter of our bank, where he played for some time with pretty good luck; and where, when he began to lose, he paid with a regularity surprising to all those who knew the smallness of his means, and the splendour of his appearance.
Her Highness the Princess Olivia was also very fond of play. On half-a-dozen occasions when we held a bank at Court, I could see her passion for the game. I could see--that is, my cool-headed old uncle could see--much more. There was an intelligence between Monsieur de Magny and this illustrious lady. 'If her Highness be not in love with the little Frenchman,' my uncle said to me one night after play, 'may I lose the sight of my last eye!''And what then, sir?' said I.
'What then?' said my uncle, looking me hard in the face. 'Are you so green as not to know what then? Your fortune is to be made, if you choose to back it now; and we may have back the Barry estates in two years, my boy.''How is that?' asked I, still at a loss. My uncle drily said, 'Get Magny to play; never mind his paying: take his notes of hand. The more he owes the better; but, above all, make him play.' 'He can't pay a shilling,' answered I. 'The Jews will not discount his notes at cent. per cent.' 'So much the better. You shall see we will make use of them,' answered the old gentleman. And I must confess that the plan he laid was a gallant, clever, and fair one.
I was to make Magny play; in this there was no great difficulty. We had an intimacy together, for he was a good sportsman as well as myself, and we came to have a pretty considerable friendship for one another; if he saw a dice-box it was impossible to prevent him from handling it; but he took to it as natural as a child does to sweetmeats.
At first he won of me; then he began to lose; then I played him money against some jewels that he brought: family trinkets, he said, and indeed of considerable value. He begged me, however, not to dispose of them in the duchy, and I gave and kept my word to him to this effect. From jewels he got to playing upon promissory notes; and as they would not allow him to play at the Court tables and in public upon credit, he was very glad to have an opportunity of indulging his favourite passion in private. I have had him for hours at my pavilion (which I had fitted up in the Eastern manner, very splendid) rattling the dice till it became time to go to his service at Court, and we would spend day after day in this manner. He brought me more jewels,--a pearl necklace, an antique emerald breast ornament, and other trinkets, as a set-off against these losses: for I need not say that I should not have played with him all this time had he been winning; but, after about a week, the luck set in against him, and he became my debtor in a prodigious sum. I do not care to mention the extent of it; it was such as I never thought the young man could pay.
Why, then, did I play for it? Why waste days in private play with a mere bankrupt, when business seemingly much more profitable was to be done elsewhere? My reason I boldly confess. I wanted to win from Monsieur de Magny, not his money, but his intended wife, the Countess Ida. Who can say that I had not a right to use ANY stratagem in this matter of love? Or, why say love? I wanted the wealth of the lady: I loved her quite as much as Magny did; I loved her quite as much as yonder blushing virgin of seventeen does who marries an old lord of seventy. I followed the practice of the world in this; having resolved that marriage should achieve my fortune.I used to make Magny, after his losses, give me a friendly letter of acknowledgment to some such effect as this,--
'MY DEAR MONSIEUR DE BALIBARI,--I acknowledge to have lost to you this day at lansquenet [or picquet, or hazard, as the case may be: I was master of him at any game that is played] the sum of three hundred ducats, and shall hold it as a great kindness on your part if you will allow the debt to stand over until a future day, when you shall receive payment from your very grateful humble servant.'
With the jewels he brought me I also took the precaution (but this was my uncle's idea, and a very good one) to have a sort of invoice, and a letter begging me to receive the trinkets as so much part payment of a sum of money he owed me.
When I had put him in such a position as I deemed favourable to my intentions, I spoke to him candidly, and without any reserve, as one man of the world should speak to another. 'I will not, my dear fellow,' said I, 'pay you so bad a compliment as to suppose that you expect we are to go on playing at this rate much longer, and that there is any satisfaction to me in possessing more or less sheets of paper bearing your signature, and a series of notes of hand which I know you never can pay. Don't look fierce or angry, for you know Redmond Barry is your master at the sword; besides, I would not be such a fool as to fight a man who owes me so much money; but hear calmly what I have to propose.
'You have been very confidential to me during our intimacy of the last month; and I know all your personal affairs completely. You have given your word of honour to your grandfather never to play upon parole, and you know how you have kept it, and that he will disinherit you if he hears the truth. Nay, suppose he dies to- morrow, his estate is not sufficient to pay the sum in which you are indebted to me; and, were you to yield me up all, you would be a beggar, and a bankrupt too.
'Her Highness the Princess Olivia denies you nothing. I shall not ask why; but give me leave to say, I was aware of the fact when we began to play together.'
'Will you be made baron-chamberlain, with the grand cordon of the order?' gasped the poor fellow. 'The Princess can do anything with the Duke.'
'I shall have no objection,' said I, 'to the yellow riband and the gold key; though a gentleman of the house of Ballybarry cares little for the titles of the German nobility. But this is not what I want. My good Chevalier, you have hid no secrets from me. You have told me with what difficulty you have induced the Princess Olivia to consent to the project of your union with the Grafinn Ida, whom you don't love. I know whom you love very well.''Monsieur de Balibari!' said the discomfited Chevalier; he could get out no more. The truth began to dawn upon him.
'You begin to understand,' continued I. 'Her Highness the Princess' (I said this in a sarcastic way) 'will not be very angry, believe me, if you break off your connection with the stupid Countess. I am no more an admirer of that lady than you are; but I want her estate. I played you for that estate, and have won it; and I will give you your bills and five thousand ducats on the day I am married to it.'
'The day _I_ am married to the Countess,' answered the Chevalier, thinking to have me, 'I will be able to raise money to pay your claim ten times over' (this was true, for the Countess's property may have been valued at near half a million of our money); 'and then I will discharge my obligations to you. Meanwhile, if you annoy me by threats, or insult me again as you have done, I will use that influence, which, as you say, I possess, and have you turned out of the duchy, as you were out of the Netherlands last year.'
I rang the bell quite quietly. 'Zamor,' said I to a tall negro fellow habited like a Turk, that used to wait upon me, 'when you hear the bell ring a second time, you will take this packet to the Marshal of the Court, this to his Excellency the General de Magny, and this you will place in the hands of one of the equerries of his Highness the Hereditary Prince. Wait in the ante-room, and do not go with the parcels until I ring again.'
The black fellow having retired, I turned to Monsieur de Magny and said, 'Chevalier, the first packet contains a letter from you to me, declaring your solvency, and solemnly promising payment of the sums you owe me; it is accompanied by a document from myself (for I expected some resistance on your part), stating that my honour has been called in question, and begging that the paper may be laid before your august master his Highness. The second packet is for your grandfather, enclosing the letter from you in which you state yourself to be his heir, and begging for a confirmation of the fact. The last parcel, for his Highness the Hereditary Duke,' added I, looking most sternly, 'contains the Gustavus Adolphus emerald, which he gave to his princess, and which you pledged to me as a family jewel of your own. Your influence with her Highness must be great indeed,' I concluded,' when you could extort from her such a jewel as that, and when you could make her, in order to pay your play- debts, give up a secret upon which both your heads depend.'
'Villain!' said the Frenchman, quite aghast with fury and terror, 'would you implicate the Princess?'
'Monsieur de Magny,' I answered, with a sneer, 'no: I will say YOU STOLE the jewel.' It was my belief he did, and that the unhappy and infatuated Princess was never privy to the theft until long after it had been committed. How we came to know the history of the emerald is simple enough. As we wanted money (for my occupation with Magny caused our bank to be much neglected), my uncle had carried Magny's trinkets to Mannheim to pawn. The Jew who lent upon them knew the history of the stone in question; and when he asked how her Highness came to part with it, my uncle very cleverly took up the story where he found it, said that the Princess was very fond of play, that it was not always convenient to her to pay, and hence the emerald had come into our hands. He brought it wisely back with him to S--; and, as regards the other jewels which the Chevalier pawned to us, they were of no particular mark: no inquiries have ever been made about them to this day; and I did not only not know then that they came from her Highness, but have only my conjectures upon the matter now.
The unfortunate young gentleman must have had a cowardly spirit, when I charged him with the theft, not to make use of my two pistols that were lying by chance before him, and to send out of the world his accuser and his own ruined self. With such imprudence and miserable recklessness on his part and that of the unhappy lady who had forgotten herself for this poor villain, he must have known that discovery was inevitable. But it was written that this dreadful destiny should be accomplished: instead of ending like a man, he now cowered before me quite spirit-broken, and, flinging himself down on the sofa, burst into tears, calling wildly upon all the saints to help him: as if they could be interested in the fate of such a wretch as he!
I saw that I had nothing to fear from him; and, calling back Zamor my black, said I would myself carry the parcels, which I returned to my escritoire; and, my point being thus gained, I acted, as I always do, generously towards him. I said that, for security's sake, I should send the emerald out of the country, but that I pledged my honour to restore it to the Duchess, without any pecuniary consideration, on the day when she should procure the sovereign's consent to my union with the Countess Ida.
This will explain pretty clearly, I flatter myself, the game I was playing; and, though some rigid moralist may object to its propriety, I say that anything is fair in love, and that men so poor as myself can't afford to be squeamish about their means of getting on in life. The great and rich are welcomed, smiling, up the grand staircase of the world; the poor but aspiring must clamber up the wall, or push and struggle up the back stair, or, PARDI, crawl through any of the conduits of the house, never mind how foul and narrow, that lead to the top. The unambitious sluggard pretends that the eminence is not worth attaining, declines altogether the struggle, and calls himself a philosopher. I say he is a poor- spirited coward. What is life good for but for honour? and that is so indispensable, that we should attain it anyhow.
The manner to be adopted for Magny's retreat was proposed by myself, and was arranged so as to consult the feelings of delicacy of both parties. I made Magny take the Countess Ida aside, and say to her, 'Madam, though I have never declared myself your admirer, you and the Court have had sufficient proof of my regard for you; and my demand would, I know, have been backed by his Highness, your august guardian. I know the Duke's gracious wish is, that my attentions should be received favourably; but, as time has not appeared to alter your attachment elsewhere, and as I have too much spirit to force a lady of your name and rank to be united to me against your will, the best plan is, that I should make you, for form's sake, a proposal UNauthorised by his Highness: that you should reply, as I am sorry to think your heart dictates to you, in the negative: on which I also will formally withdraw from my pursuit of you, stating that, after a refusal, nothing, not even the Duke's desire, should induce me to persist in my suit.'
The Countess Ida almost wept at hearing these words from Monsieur de Magny, and tears came into her eyes, he said, as she took his hand for the first time, and thanked him for the delicacy of the proposal. She little knew that the Frenchman was incapable of that sort of delicacy, and that the graceful manner in which he withdrew his addresses was of my invention.
As soon as he withdrew, it became my business to step forward; but cautiously and gently, so as not to alarm the lady, and yet firmly, so as to convince her of the hopelessness of her design of uniting herself with her shabby lover, the sub-lieutenant. The Princess Olivia was good enough to perform this necessary part of the plan in my favour, and solemnly to warn the Countess Ida, that, though Monsieur de Magny had retired from paying his addresses, his Highness her guardian would still marry her as he thought fit, and that she must for ever forget her out-at-elbowed adorer. In fact, I can't conceive how such a shabby rogue as that could ever have had the audacity to propose for her: his birth was certainly good; but what other qualifications had he?
When the Chevalier de Magny withdrew, numbers of other suitors, you may be sure, presented themselves; and amongst these your very humble servant, the cadet of Ballybarry. There was a carrousel, or tournament, held at this period, in imitation of the antique meetings of chivalry, in which the chevaliers tilted at each other, or at the ring; and on this occasion I was habited in a splendid Roman dress (viz., a silver helmet, a flowing periwig, a cuirass of gilt leather richly embroidered, a light blue velvet mantle, and crimson morocco half-boots): and in this habit I rode my bay horse Brian, carried off three rings, and won the prize over all the Duke's gentry, and the nobility of surrounding countries who had come to the show. A wreath of gilded laurel was to be the prize of the victor, and it was to be awarded by the lady he selected. So I rode up to the gallery where the Countess Ida was seated behind the Hereditary Princess, and, calling her name loudly, yet gracefully, begged to be allowed to be crowned by her, and thus proclaimed myself to the face of all Germany, as it were, her suitor. She turned very pale, and the Princess red, I observed; but the Countess Ida ended by crowning me: after which, putting spurs into my horse, I galloped round the ring, saluting his Highness the Duke at the opposite end, and performing the most wonderful exercises with my bay.
My success did not, as you may imagine, increase my popularity with the young gentry. They called me adventurer, bully, dice-loader, impostor, and a hundred pretty names; but I had a way of silencing these gentry. I took the Count de Schmetterling, the richest and bravest of the young men who seemed to have a hankering for the Countess Ida, and publicly insulted him at the ridotto; flinging my cards into his face. The next day I rode thirty-five miles into the territory of the Elector of B----, and met Monsieur de Schmetterling, and passed my sword twice through his body; then rode back with my second, the Chevalier de Magny, and presented myself at the Duchess's whist that evening. Magny was very unwilling to accompany me at first; but I insisted upon his support, and that he should countenance my quarrel. Directly after paying my homage to her Highness, I went up to the Countess Ida, and made her a marked and low obeisance, gazing at her steadily in the face until she grew crimson red; and then staring round at every man who formed her circle, until, MA FOI, I stared them all away. I instructed Magny to say, everywhere, that the Countess was madly in love with me; which commission, along with many others of mine, the poor devil was obliged to perform. He made rather a SOTTE FIGURE, as the French say, acting the pioneer for me, praising me everywhere, accompanying me always! he who had been the pink of the MODE until my arrival; he who thought his pedigree of beggarly Barons of Magny was superior to the race of great Irish kings from which I descended; who had sneered at me a hundred times as a spadassin, a deserter, and had called me a vulgar Irish upstart. Now I had my revenge of the gentleman, and took it too.
I used to call him, in the choicest societies, by his Christian name of Maxime. I would say, 'Bon jour, Maxime; comment vas-TU?' in the Princess's hearing, and could see him bite his lips for fury and vexation. But I had him under my thumb, and her Highness too-I, poor private of Bulow's regiment. And this is a proof of what genius and perseverance can do, and should act as a warning to great people never to have SECRETS--if they can help it.
I knew the Princess hated me; but what did I care? She knew I knew all: and indeed, I believe, so strong was her prejudice against me, that she thought I was an indelicate villain, capable of betraying a lady, which I would scorn to do; so that she trembled before me as a child before its schoolmaster. She would, in her woman's way, too, make all sorts of jokes and sneers at me on reception days; ask about my palace in Ireland, and the kings my ancestors, and whether, when I was a private in Bulow's foot, my royal relatives had interposed to rescue me, and whether the cane was smartly administered there,--anything to mortify me. But, Heaven bless you! I can make allowances for people, and used to laugh in her face. Whilst her jibes and jeers were continuing, it was my pleasure to look at poor Magny and see how HE bore them. The poor devil was trembling lest I should break out under the Princess's sarcasm and tell all; but my revenge was, when the Princess attacked me, to say something bitter to HIM,--to pass it on, as boys do at school. And THAT was the thing which used to make her Highness feel. She would wince just as much when I attacked Magny as if I had been saying anything rude to herself. And, though she hated me, she used to beg my pardon in private; and though her pride would often get the better of her, yet her prudence obliged this magnificent princess to humble herself to the poor penniless Irish boy.
As soon as Magny had formally withdrawn from the Countess Ida, the Princess took the young lady into favour again, and pretended to be very fond of her. To do them justice, I don't know which of the two disliked me most,--the Princess, who was all eagerness, and fire, and coquetry; or the Countess, who was all state and splendour. The latter, especially, pretended to be disgusted by me: and yet, after all, I have pleased her betters; was once one of the handsomest men in Europe, and would defy any heyduc of the Court to measure a chest or a leg with me: but I did not care for any of her silly prejudices, and determined to win her and wear her in spite of herself. Was it on account of her personal charms or qualities? No. She was quite white, thin, short-sighted, tall, and awkward, and my taste is quite the contrary; and as for her mind, no wonder that a poor creature who had a hankering after a wretched ragged ensign could never appreciate ME. It was her estate I made love to; as for herself, it would be a reflection on my taste as a man of fashion to own that I liked her.
Chapter 11In Which The Luck Goes Against Barry
My hopes of obtaining the hand of one of the richest heiresses in Germany were now, as far as all human probability went, and as far as my own merits and prudence could secure my fortune, pretty certain of completion. I was admitted whenever I presented myself at the Princess's apartments, and had as frequent opportunities as I desired of seeing the Countess Ida there. I cannot say that she received me with any particular favour; the silly young creature's affections were, as I have said, engaged ignobly elsewhere; and, however captivating my own person and manners may have been, it was not to be expected that she should all of a sudden forget her lover for the sake of the young Irish gentleman who was paying his addresses to her. But such little rebuffs as I got were far from discouraging me. I had very powerful friends, who were to aid me in my undertaking; and knew that, sooner or later, the victory must be mine. In fact, I only waited my time to press my suit. Who could tell the dreadful stroke of fortune which was impending over my illustrious protectress, and which was to involve me partially in her ruin?
All things seemed for a while quite prosperous to my wishes; and in spite of the Countess Ida's disinclination, it was much easier to bring her to her senses than, perhaps, may be supposed in a silly constitutional country like England, where people are not brought up with those wholesome sentiments of obedience to Royalty which were customary in Europe at the time when I was a young man.
I have stated how, through Magny, I had the Princess, as it were, at my feet. Her Highness had only to press the match upon the old Duke, over whom her influence was unbounded, and to secure the goodwill of the Countess of Liliengarten, (which was the romantic title of his Highness's morganatic spouse), and the easy old man would give an order for the marriage: which his ward would perforce obey. Madame de Liliengarten was, too, from her position, extremely anxious to oblige the Princess Olivia; who might be called upon any day to occupy the throne. The old Duke was tottering, apoplectic, and exceedingly fond of good living. When he was gone, his relict would find the patronage of the Duchess Olivia most necessary to her. Hence there was a close mutual understanding between the two ladies; and the world said that the Hereditary Princess was already indebted to the favourite for help on various occasions. Her Highness had obtained, through the Countess, several large grants of money for the payment of her multifarious debts; and she was now good enough to exert her gracious influence over Madame de Liliengarten in order to obtain for me the object so near my heart. It is not to be supposed that my end was to be obtained without continual unwillingness and refusals on Magny's part; but I pushed my point resolutely, and had means in my hands of overcoming the stubbornness of that feeble young gentleman. Also, I may say, without vanity, that if the high and mighty Princess detested me, the Countess (though she was of extremely low origin, it is said) had better taste and admired me. She often did us the honour to go partners with us in one of our faro-banks, and declared that I was the handsomest man in the duchy. All I was required to prove was my nobility, and I got at Vienna such a pedigree as would satisfy the most greedy in that way. In fact, what had a man descended from the Barrys and the Bradys to fear before any VON in Germany? By way of making assurance doubly sure, I promised Madame de Liliengarten ten thousand louis on the day of my marriage, and she knew that as a play-man I had never failed in my word: and I vow, that had I paid fifty per cent. for it, I would have got the money.
Thus by my talents, honesty, and acuteness, I had, considering I was a poor patronless outcast, raised for myself very powerful protectors. Even his Highness the Duke Victor was favourably inclined to me; for, his favourite charger falling ill of the staggers, I gave him a ball such as my uncle Brady used to administer, and cured the horse; after which his Highness was pleased to notice me frequently. He invited me to his hunting and shooting parties, where I showed myself to be a good sportsman; and once or twice he condescended to talk to me about my prospects in life, lamenting that I had taken to gambling, and that I had not adopted a more regular means of advancement. 'Sir,' said I,' if you will allow me to speak frankly to your Highness, play with me is only a means to an end. Where should I have been without it? A private still in King Frederick's grenadiers. I come of a race which gave princes to my country; but persecutions have deprived them of their vast possessions. My uncle's adherence to his ancient faith drove him from our country. I too resolved to seek advancement in the military service; but the insolence and ill-treatment which I received at the hands of the English were not bearable by a high- born gentleman, and I fled their service. It was only to fall into another bondage to all appearance still more hopeless; when my good star sent a preserver to me in my uncle, and my spirit and gallantry enabled me to take advantage of the means of escape afforded me. Since then we have lived, I do not disguise it, by play; but who can say I have done him a wrong? Yet, if I could find myself in an honourable post, and with an assured maintenance, I would never, except for amusement, such as every gentleman must have, touch a card again. I beseech your Highness to inquire of your resident at Berlin if I did not on every occasion act as a gallant soldier. I feel that I have talents of a higher order, and should be proud to have occasion to exert them; if, as I do not doubt, my fortune shall bring them into play.'
The candour of this statement struck his Highness greatly, and impressed him in my favour, and he was pleased to say that he believed me, and would be glad to stand my friend.
Having thus the two Dukes, the Duchess, and the reigning favourite enlisted on my side, the chances certainly were that I should carry off the great prize; and I ought, according to all common calculations, to have been a Prince of the Empire at this present writing, but that my ill luck pursued me in a matter in which I was not the least to blame,--the unhappy Duchess's attachment to the weak, silly, cowardly Frenchman. The display of this love was painful to witness, as its end was frightful to think of. The Princess made no disguise of it. If Magny spoke a word to a lady of her household, she would be jealous, and attack with all the fury of her tongue the unlucky offender. She would send him a half-dozen of notes in the day: at his arrival to join her circle or the courts which she held, she would brighten up, so that all might perceive. It was a wonder that her husband had not long ere this been made aware of her faithlessness; but the Prince Victor was himself of so high and stern a nature that he could not believe in her stooping so far from her rank as to forget her virtue: and I have heard say, that when hints were given to him of the evident partiality which the Princess showed for the equerry, his answer was a stern command never more to be troubled on the subject. 'The Princess is light- minded,' he said; 'she was brought up at a frivolous Court; but her folly goes not beyond coquetry: crime is impossible; she has her birth, and my name, and her children, to defend her.' And he would ride off to his military inspections and be absent for weeks, or retire to his suite of apartments, and remain closeted there whole days; only appearing to make a bow at her Highness's LEVEE, or to give her his hand at the Court galas, where ceremony required that he should appear. He was a man of vulgar tastes, and I have seen him in the private garden, with his great ungainly figure, running races, or playing at ball with his little son and daughter, whom he would find a dozen pretexts daily for visiting. The serene children were brought to their mother every morning at her toilette; but she received them very indifferently: except on one occasion, when the young Duke Ludwig got his little uniform as colonel of hussars, being presented with a regiment by his godfather the Emperor Leopold. Then, for a day or two, the Duchess Olivia was charmed with the little boy; but she grew tired of him speedily, as a child does of a toy. I remember one day, in the morning circle, some of the Princess's rouge came off on the arm of her son's little white military jacket; on which she slapped the poor child's face, and sent him sobbing away. Oh, the woes that have been worked by women in this world! the misery into which men have lightly stepped with smiling faces; often not even with the excuse of passion, but from mere foppery, vanity, and bravado! Men play with these dreadful two- edged tools, as if no harm could come to them. I, who have seen more of life than most men, if I had a son, would go on my knees to him and beg him to avoid woman, who is worse than poison. Once intrigue, and your whole life is endangered: you never know when the evil may fall upon you; and the woe of whole families, and the ruin of innocent people perfectly dear to you, may be caused by a moment of your folly.
When I saw how entirely lost the unlucky Monsieur de Magny seemed to be, in spite of ail the claims I had against him, I urged him to fly. He had rooms in the palace, in the garrets over the Princess's quarters (the building was a huge one, and accommodated almost a city of noble retainers of the family); but the infatuated young fool would not budge, although he had not even the excuse of love for staying. 'How she squints,' he would say of the Princess, 'and how crooked she is! She thinks no one can perceive her deformity. She writes me verses out of Gresset or Crebillon, and fancies I believe them to be original. Bah! they are no more her own than her hair is!' It was in this way that the wretched lad was dancing over the ruin that was yawning under him. I do believe that his chief pleasure in making love to the Princess was, that he might write about his victories to his friends of the PETITES MAISONS at Paris, where he longed to be considered as a wit and a VAINQUEUR DE DAMES.
Seeing the young man's recklessness, and the danger of his position, I became very anxious that MY little scheme should be brought to a satisfactory end, and pressed him warmly on the matter.
My solicitations with him were, I need not say, from the nature of the connection between us, generally pretty successful; and, in fact, the poor fellow could REFUSE ME NOTHING: as I used often laughingly to say to him, very little to his liking. But I used more than threats, or the legitimate influence I had over him. I used delicacy and generosity; as a proof of which, I may mention that I promised to give back to the Princess the family emerald, which I mentioned in the last chapter that I had won from her unprincipled admirer at play.
This was done by my uncle's consent, and was one of the usual acts of prudence and foresight which distinguish that clever man. "Press the matter now, Redmond my boy," he would urge. "This affair between her Highness and Magny must end ill for both of them, and that soon; and where will be your chance to win the Countess then? Now is your time! win her and wear her before the month is over, and we will give up the punting business, and go live like noblemen at our castle in Swabia. Get rid of that emerald, too," he added: "should an accident happen, it will be an ugly deposit found in our hand." This it was that made me agree to forego the possession of the trinket; which, I must confess, I was loth to part with. It was lucky for us both that I did: as you shall presently hear.
Meanwhile, then, I urged Magny: I myself spoke strongly to the Countess of Liliengarten, who promised formally to back my claim with his Highness the reigning Duke; and Monsieur de Magny was instructed to induce the Princess Olivia to make a similar application to the old sovereign in my behalf. It was done. The two ladies urged the Prince; his Highness (at a supper of oysters and champagne) was brought to consent, and her Highness the Hereditary Princess did me the honour of notifying personally to the Countess Ida that it was the Prince's will that she should marry the young Irish nobleman, the Chevalier Redmond de Balibari. The notification was made in my presence; and though the young Countess said 'Never!' and fell down in a swoon at her lady's feet, I was, you may be sure, entirely unconcerned at this little display of mawkish sensibility, and felt, indeed, now that my prize was secure.
That evening I gave the Chevalier de Magny the emerald, which he promised to restore to the Princess; and now the only difficulty in my way lay with the Hereditary Prince, of whom his father, his wife, and the favourite, were alike afraid. He might not be disposed to allow the richest heiress in his duchy to be carried off by a noble, though not a wealthy foreigner. Time was necessary in order to break the matter to Prince Victor. The Princess must find him at some moment of good-humour. He had days of infatuation still, when he could refuse his wife nothing; and our plan was to wait for one of these, or for any other chance which might occur.
But it was destined that the Princess should never see her husband at her feet, as often as he had been. Fate was preparing a terrible ending to her follies, and my own hope. In spite of his solemn promises to me, Magny never restored the emerald to the Princess Olivia.
He had heard, in casual intercourse with me, that my uncle and I had been beholden to Mr. Moses Lowe, the banker of Heidelberg, who had given us a good price for our valuables; and the infatuated young man took a pretext to go thither, and offered the jewel for pawn. Moses Lowe recognised the emerald at once, gave Magny the sum the latter demanded, which the Chevalier lost presently at play: never, you may be sure, acquainting us with the means by which he had made himself master of so much capital. We, for our parts, supposed that he had been supplied by his usual banker, the Princess: and many rouleaux of his gold pieces found their way into our treasury, when at the Court galas, at our own lodgings, or at the apartments of Madame de Liliengarten (who on these occasions did us the honour to go halves with us) we held our bank of faro.
Thus Magny's money was very soon gone. But though the Jew held his jewel, of thrice the value no doubt of the sums he had lent upon it, that was not all the profit which he intended to have from his unhappy creditor; over whom he began speedily to exercise his authority. His Hebrew connections at X--, money-brokers, bankers, horse-dealers, about the Court there, must have told their Heidelberg brother what Magny's relations with the Princess were; and the rascal determined to take advantage of these, and to press to the utmost both victims. My uncle and I were, meanwhile, swimming upon the high tide of fortune, prospering with our cards, and with the still greater matrimonial game which we were playing; and we were quite unaware of the mine under our feet.
Before a month was passed, the Jew began to pester Magny. He presented himself at X--, and asked for further interest-hush-money; otherwise he must sell the emerald. Magny got money for him; the Princess again befriended her dastardly lover. The success of the first demand only rendered the second more exorbitant. I know not how much money was extorted and paid on this unluckly emerald: but it was the cause of the ruin of us all.
One night we were keeping our table as usual at the Countess of Liliengarten's, and Magny being in cash somehow, kept drawing out rouleau after rouleau, and playing with his common ill success. In the middle of the play a note was brought into him, which he read, and turned very pale on perusing; but the luck was against him, and looking up rather anxiously at the clock, he waited for a few more turns of the cards, when having, I suppose, lost his last rouleau, he got up with a wild oath that scared some of the polite company assembled, and left the room. A great trampling of horses was heard without; but we were too much engaged with our business to heed the noise, and continued our play.
Presently some one came into the play-room and said to the Countess, 'Here is a strange story! A Jew has been murdered in the Kaiserwald. Magny was arrested when he went out of the room.' All the party broke up on hearing this strange news, and we shut up our bank for the night. Magny had been sitting by me during the play (my uncle dealt and I paid and took the money), and, looking under the chair, there was a crumpled paper, which I took up and read. It was that which had been delivered to him, and ran thus:-' If you have done it, take the orderly's horse who brings this. It is the best of my stable.
There are a hundred louis in each holster, and the pistols are loaded. Either course lies open to you i you know what I mean. In a quarter of an hour I shall know our fate- whether I am to be dishonoured and survive you, whether you are guilty and a coward, or whether you are still worthy of the name of 'M.'
This was in the handwriting of the old General de Magny; and my uncle and I, as we walked home at night, having made and divided with the Countess Liliengarten no inconsiderable profits that night, felt our triumphs greatly dashed by the perusal of the letter. 'Has Magny,' we asked, 'robbed the Jew, or has his intrigue been discovered?' In either case, my claims on the Countess Ida were likely to meet with serious drawbacks: and I began to feel that my 'great card' was played and perhaps lost.
Well, it WAS lost: though I say, to this day, it was well and gallantly played. After supper (which we never for fear of consequences took during play) I became so agitated in my mind as to what was occurring that I determined to sally out about midnight into the town, and inquire what was the real motive of Magny's apprehension. A sentry was at the door, and signified to me that I and my uncle were under arrest.
We were left in our quarters for six weeks, so closely watched that escape was impossible, had we desired it; but, as innocent men, we had nothing to fear. Our course of life was open to all, and we desired and courted inquiry. Great and tragical events happened during those six weeks; of which, though we heard the outline, as all Europe did, when we were released from our captivity, we were yet far from understanding all the particulars, which were not much known to me for many years after. Here they are, as they were told me by the lady, who of all the world perhaps was most likely to know them. But the narrative had best form the contents of another chapter.
Chapter 12Tragical History Of Princess Of X----
More than twenty years after the events described in the past chapters, I was walking with my Lady Lyndon in the Rotunda at Ranelagh. It was in the year 1790; the emigration from France had already commenced, the old counts and marquises were thronging to our shores: not starving and miserable, as one saw them a few years afterwards, but unmolested as yet, and bringing with them some token of their national splendour. I was walking with Lady Lyndon, who, proverbially jealous and always anxious to annoy me, spied out a foreign lady who was evidently remarking me, and of course asked who was the hideous fat Dutchwoman who was leering at me so? I knew her not in the least. I felt I had seen the lady's face somewhere (it was now, as my wife said, enormously fat and bloated); but I did not recognise in the bearer of that face one who had been among the most beautiful women in Germany in her day.
It was no other than Madame de Liliengarten, the mistress, or as some said the morganatic wife, of the old Duke of X----, Duke Victor's father. She had left X----a few months after the elder Duke's demise, had gone to Paris, as I heard, where some unprincipled adventurer had married her for her money; but, however, had always retained her quasi-royal title, and pretended, amidst the great laughter of the Parisians who frequented her house, to the honours and ceremonial of a sovereign's widow. She had a throne erected in her state-room, and was styled by her servants and those who wished to pay court to her, or borrow money from her, 'Altesse.' Report said she drank rather copiously--certainly her face bore every mark of that habit, and had lost the rosy, frank, good- humoured beauty which had charmed the sovereign who had ennobled her.
Although she did not address me in the circle at Ranelagh, I was at this period as well known as the Prince of Wales, and she had no difficulty in finding my house in Berkeley Square; whither a note was next morning despatched to me. 'An old friend of Monsieur de Balibari,' it stated (in extremely bad French), 'is anxious to see the Chevalier again and to talk over old happy times. Rosina de Liliengarten (can it be that Redmond Balibari has forgotten her?) will be at her house in Leicester Fields all the morning, looking for one who would never have passed her by TWENTY YEARS ago.'
Rosina of Liliengarten it was indeed--such a full-blown Rosina I have seldom seen. I found her in a decent first-floor in Leicester Fields (the poor soul fell much lower afterwards) drinking tea, which had somehow a very strong smell of brandy in it; and after salutations, which would be more tedious to recount than they were to perform, and after further straggling conversation, she gave me briefly the following narrative of the events in X----, which I may well entitle the 'Princess's Tragedy.'
'You remember Monsieur de Geldern, the Police Minister. He was of Dutch extraction, and, what is more, of a family of Dutch Jews. Although everybody was aware of this blot in his scutcheon, he was mortally angry if ever his origin was suspected; and made up for his fathers' errors by outrageous professions of religion, and the most austere practices of devotion. He visited church every morning, confessed once a week, and hated Jews and Protestants as much as an inquisitor could do. He never lost an opportunity of proving his sincerity, by persecuting one or the other whenever occasion fell in his way.
'He hated the Princess mortally; for her Highness in some whim had insulted him with his origin, caused pork to be removed from before him at table, or injured him in some such silly way; and he had a violent animosity to the old Baron de Magny, both in his capacity of Protestant, and because the latter in some haughty mood had publicly turned his back upon him as a sharper and a spy. Perpetual quarrels were taking place between them in council; where it was only the presence of his august masters that restrained the Baron from publicly and frequently expressing the contempt which he felt for the officer of police.
'Thus Geldern had hatred as one reason for ruining the Princess, and it is my belief he had a stronger motive still--interest. You remember whom the Duke married, after the death of his first wife?-- a princess of the house of F----. Geldern built his fine palace two years after, and, as I feel convinced, with the money which was paid to him by the F----family for forwarding the match.
'To go to Prince Victor, and report to his Highness a case which everybody knew, was not by any means Geldern's desire. He knew the man would be ruined for ever in the Prince's estimation who carried him intelligence so disastrous. His aim, therefore, was to leave the matter to explain itself to his Highness; and, when the time was ripe, he cast about for a means of carrying his point. He had spies in the houses of the elder and younger Magny; but this you know, of course, from your experience of Continental customs. We had all spies over each other. Your black (Zamor, I think, was his name) used to give me reports every morning; and I used to entertain the dear old Duke with stories of you and your uncle practising picquet and dice in the morning, and with your quarrels and intrigues. We levied similar contributions on everybody in X----, to amuse the dear old man. Monsieur de Magny's valet used to report both to me and Monsieur de Geldern.
'I knew of the fact of the emerald being in pawn; and it was out of my exchequer that the poor Princess drew the funds which were spent upon the odious Lowe, and the still more worthless young Chevalier. How the Princess could trust the latter as she persisted in doing, is beyond my comprehension; but there is no infatuation like that of a woman in love: and you will remark, my dear Monsieur de Balibari, that our sex generally fix upon a bad man.''Not always, madam,' I interposed; 'your humble servant has created many such attachments.'
'I do not see that that affects the truth of the proposition,' said the old lady drily, and continued her narrative. 'The Jew who held the emerald had had many dealings with the Princess, and at last was offered a bribe of such magnitude, that he determined to give up the pledge. He committed the inconceivable imprudence of bringing the emerald with him to X----, and waited on Magny, who was provided by the Princess with money to redeem the pledge, and was actually ready to pay it.'
'Their interview took place in Magny's own apartments, when his valet overheard every word of their conversation. The young man, who was always utterly careless of money when it was in his possession, was so easy in offering it, that Lowe rose in his demands, and had the conscience to ask double the sum for which he had previously stipulated.
'At this the Chevalier lost all patience, fell on the wretch and was for killing him; when the opportune valet rushed in and saved him. The man had heard every word of the conversation between the disputants, and the Jew ran flying with terror into his arms; and Magny, a quick and passionate, but not a violent man, bade the servant lead the villain downstairs, and thought no more of him.
'Perhaps he was not sorry to be rid of him, and to have in his possession a large sum of money, four thousand ducats, with which he could tempt fortune once more; as you know he did at your table that night.''Your ladyship went halves, madam,' said I; 'and you know how little I was the better for my winnings.'
'The man conducted the trembling Israelite out of the palace, and no sooner had seen him lodged at the house of one of his brethren, where he was accustomed to put up, than he went away to the office of his Excellency the Minister of Police, and narrated every word of the conversation which had taken place between the Jew and his master.
'Geldern expressed the greatest satisfaction at his spy's prudence and fidelity. He gave him a purse of twenty ducats, and promised to provide for him handsomely: as great men do sometimes promise to reward their instruments; but you, Monsieur de Balibari, know how seldom those promises are kept. "Now, go and find out," said Monsieur de Geldern, "at what time the Israelite proposes to return home again, or whether he will repent and take the money." The man went on this errand. Meanwhile, to make matters sure, Geldern arranged a play-party at my house, inviting you thither with your bank, as you may remember; and finding means, at the same time, to let Maxime de Magny know that there was to be faro at Madame de Liliengarten's. It was an invitation the poor fellow never neglected.'I remembered the facts, and listened on, amazed at the artifice of the infernal Minister of Police.
'The spy came back from his message to Lowe, and stated that he had made inquiries among the servants of the house where the Heidelberg banker lodged, and that it was the latter's intention to leave X---- that afternoon. He travelled by himself, riding an old horse, exceedingly humbly attired, after the manner of his people.
'"Johann," said the Minister, clapping the pleased spy upon the shoulder, "I am more and more pleased with you. I have been thinking, since you left me, of your intelligence, and the faithful manner in which you have served me; and shall soon find an occasion to place you according to your merits. Which way does this Israelitish scoundrel take?"
'"Now, listen. The emerald must be taken from that Jew: in the very keeping it the scoundrel has committed high treason. To the man who brings me that emerald I swear I will give five hundred louis. You understand why it is necessary that it should be restored to her Highness. I need say no more."'"You shall have it to-night, sir," said the man. "Of course your Excellency will hold me harmless in case of accident."
'"Psha!" answered the Minister; "I will pay you half the money beforehand; such is my confidence in you. Accident's impossible if you take your measures properly. There are four leagues of wood; the Jew rides slowly. It will be night before he can reach, let us say, the old Powder-Mill in the wood. What's to prevent you from putting a rope across the road, and dealing with him there? Be back with me this evening at supper. If you meet any of the patrol, say 'foxes are loose,'--that's the word for to-night. They will let you pass them without questions."
'The man went off quite charmed with his commission; and when Magny was losing his money at our faro-table, his servant waylaid the Jew at the spot named the Powder-Mill, in the Kaiserwald. The Jew's horse stumbled over a rope which had been placed across the road; and, as the rider fell groaning to the ground, Johann Kerner rushed out on him, masked, and pistol in hand, and demanded his money. He had no wish to kill the Jew, I believe, unless his resistance should render extreme measures necessary.
'Nor did he commit any such murder; for, as the yelling Jew roared for mercy, and his assailant menaced him with a pistol, a squad of patrol came up, and laid hold of the robber and the wounded man.
'Kerner swore an oath. "You have come too soon," said he to the sergeant of the police. "FOXES ARE LOOSE." "Some are caught," said the sergeant, quite unconcerned; and bound the fellow's hands with the rope which he had stretched across the road to entrap the Jew. He was placed behind a policeman on a horse; Lowe was similarly accommodated, and the party thus came back into the town as the night fell. 'They were taken forthwith to the police quarter; and, as the chief happened to be there, they were examined by his Excellency in person. Both were rigorously searched; the Jew's papers and cases taken from him: the jewel was found in a private pocket. As for the spy, the Minister, looking at him angrily, said, "Why, this is the servant of the Chevalier de Magny, one of her Highness's equerries!" and without hearing a word in exculpation from the poor frightened wretch, ordered him into close confinement.
'Calling for his horse, he then rode to the Prince's apartments at the palace, and asked for an instant audience. When admitted, he produced the emerald. "This jewel," said he, "has been found on the person of a Heidelberg Jew, who has been here repeatedly of late, and has had many dealings with her Highness's equerry, the Chevalier de Magny. This afternoon the Chevalier's servant came from his master's lodgings, accompanied by the Hebrew; was heard to make inquiries as to the route the man intended to take on his way homewards; followed him, or preceded him rather, and was found in the act of rifling his victim by my police in the Kaiserwald. The man will confess nothing; but, on being searched, a large sum in gold was found on his person; and though it is with the utmost pain that I can bring myself to entertain such an opinion, and to implicate a gentleman of the character and name of Monsieur de Magny, I do submit that our duty is to have the Chevalier examined relative to the affair. As Monsieur de Magny is in her Highness's private service, and in her confidence I have heard, I would not venture to apprehend him without your Highness's permission."
'The Prince's Master of the Horse, a friend of the old Baron de Magny, who was present at the interview, no sooner heard the strange intelligence than he hastened away to the old general with the dreadful news of his grandson's supposed crime. Perhaps his Highness himself was not unwilling that his old friend and tutor in arms should have the chance of saving his family from disgrace; at all events, Monsieur de Hengst, the Master of the Horse, was permitted to go off to the Baron undisturbed, and break to him the intelligence of the accusation pending over the unfortunate Chevalier.
'It is possible that he expected some such dreadful catastrophe, for, after hearing Hengst's narrative (as the latter afterwards told me), he only said, "Heaven's will be done!" for some time refused to stir a step in the matter, and then only by the solicitation of his friend was induced to write the letter which Maxime de Magny received at our play-table.
'Whilst he was there, squandering the Princess's money, a police visit was paid to his apartments, and a hundred proofs, not of his guilt with respect to the robbery, but of his guilty connection with the Princess, were discovered there,--tokens of her giving, passionate letters from her, copies of his own correspondence to his young friends at Paris,--all of which the Police Minister perused, and carefully put together under seal for his Highness, Prince Victor. I have no doubt he perused them, for, on delivering them to the Hereditary Prince, Geldern said that, IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS HIGHNESS'S ORDERS, he had collected the Chevalier's papers; but he need not say that, on his honour, he (Geldern) himself had never examined the documents. His difference with Messieurs de Magny was known; he begged his Highness to employ any other official person in the judgment of the accusation brought against the young Chevalier. 'All these things were going on while the Chevalier was at play. A run of luck--you had great luck in those days, Monsieur de Balibari- -was against him. He stayed and lost his 4000 ducats. He received his uncle's note, and such was the infatuation of the wretched gambler, that, on receipt of it, he went down to the courtyard, where the horse was in waiting, absolutely took the money which the poor old gentleman had placed in the saddle-holsters, brought it upstairs, played it, and lost it; and when he issued from the room to fly, it was too late: he was placed in arrest at the bottom of my staircase, as you were upon entering your own home.
'Even when he came in under the charge of the soldiery sent to arrest him, the old General, who was waiting, was overjoyed to see him, and flung himself into the lad's arms, and embraced him: it was said, for the first time in many years. "He is here, gentlemen," he sobbed out,--"thank God he is not guilty of the robbery!" and then sank back in a chair in a burst of emotion; painful, it was said by those present, to witness on the part of a man so brave, and known to be so cold and stern.
'"Robbery!" said the young man. "I swear before Heaven I am guilty of none!" and a scene of almost touching reconciliation passed between them, before the unhappy young man was led from the guard- house into the prison which he was destined never to quit.
'That night the Duke looked over the papers which Geldern had brought to him. It was at a very early stage of the perusal, no doubt, that he gave orders for your arrest; for you were taken at midnight, Magny at ten o'clock; after which time the old Baron de Magny had seen his Highness, protesting of his grandson's innocence, and the Prince had received him most graciously and kindly. His Highness said he had no doubt the young man was innocent; his birth and his blood rendered such a crime impossible; but suspicion was too strong against him: he was known to have been that day closeted with the Jew; to have received a very large sum of money which he squandered at play, and of which the Hebrew had, doubtless, been the lender,--to have despatched his servant after him, who inquired the hour of the Jew's departure, lay in wait for him, and rifled him. Suspicion was so strong against the Chevalier, that common justice required his arrest; and, meanwhile, until he cleared himself, he should be kept in not dishonourable durance, and every regard had for his name, and the services of his honourable grandfather. With this assurance, and with a warm grasp of the hand, the Prince left old General de Magny that night; and the veteran retired to rest almost consoled, and confident in Maxime's eventual and immediate release.
'But in the morning, before daybreak, the Prince, who had been reading papers all night, wildly called to the page, who slept in the next room across the door, bade him get horses, which were always kept in readiness in the stables, and, flinging a parcel of letters into a box, told the page to follow him on horseback with these. The young man (Monsieur de Weissenborn) told this to a young lady who was then of my household, and who is now Madame de Weissenborn, and a mother of a score of children.
'The page described that never was such a change seen as in his august master in the course of that single night. His eyes were bloodshot, his face livid, his clothes were hanging loose about him, and he who had always made his appearance on parade as precisely dressed as any sergeant of his troops, might have been seen galloping through the lonely streets at early dawn without a hat, his unpowdered hair streaming behind him like a madman.
'The page, with the box of papers, clattered after his master,--it was no easy task to follow him; and they rode from the palace to the town, and through it to the General's quarter. The sentinels at the door were scared at the strange figure that rushed up to the General's gate, and, not knowing him, crossed bayonets, and refused him admission. "Fools," said Weissenborn, "it is the Prince!" And, jangling at the bell as if for an alarm of fire, the door was at length opened by the porter, and his Highness ran up to the Generals bedchamber, followed by the page with the box.
'"Magny--Magny," roared the Prince, thundering at the closed door, "get up!" And to the queries of the old man from within, answered, "It is I--Victor--the Prince!--get up!" And presently the door was opened by the General in his ROBE-DE-CHAMBRE, and the Prince entered. The page brought in the box, and was bidden to wait without, which he did; but there led from Monsieur de Magny's bedroom into his antechamber two doors, the great one which formed the entrance into his room, and a smaller one which led, as the fashion is with our houses abroad, into the closet which communicates with the alcove where the bed is. The door of this was found by M. de Weissenborn to be open, and the young man was thus enabled to hear and see everything which occurred within the apartment.
'The General, somewhat nervously, asked what was the reason of so early a visit from his Highness; to which the Prince did not for a while reply, farther than by staring at him rather wildly, and pacing up and down the room.
'At last he said, "Here is the cause!" dashing his fist on the box; and, as he had forgotten to bring the key with him, he went to the door for a moment, saying, "Weissenborn perhaps has it;" but seeing over the stove one of the General's couteaux de chasse, he took it down, and said, "That will do," and fell to work to burst the red trunk open with the blade of the forest knife. The point broke, and he gave an oath, but continued haggling on with the broken blade, which was better suited to his purpose than the long pointed knife, and finally succeeded in wrenching open the lid of the chest.
"'What is the matter?" said he, laughing." Here's the matter;--read that!--here's more matter, read that!--here's more--no, not that; that's somebody else's picture--but here's hers! Do you know that, Magny? My wife's--the Princess's! Why did you and your cursed race ever come out of France, to plant your infernal wickedness wherever your feet fell, and to ruin honest German homes? What have you and yours ever had from my family but confidence and kindness? We gave you a home when you had none, and here's our reward!" and he flung a parcel of papers down before the old General; who saw the truth at once;--he had known it long before, probably, and sank down on his chair, covering his face.
'The Prince went on gesticulating, and shrieking almost. "If a man injured you so, Magny, before you begot the father of that gambling lying villain yonder, you would have known how to revenge yourself. You would have killed him! Yes, would have killed him. But who's to help me to my revenge? I've no equal. I can't meet that dog of a Frenchman,-that pimp from Versailles,--and kill him, as if he had played the traitor to one of his own degree."
'"Can I take it?" cried the Prince; "you know I can't. I can't have the privilege of any other gentleman in Europe. What am I to do? Look here, Magny: I was wild when I came here; I didn't know what to do. You've served me for thirty years; you've saved my life twice: they are all knaves and harlots about my poor old father here--no honest men or women-you are the only one--you saved my life; tell me what am I to do?" Thus from insulting Monsieur de Magny, the poor distracted Prince fell to supplicating him; and, at last, fairly flung himself down, and burst out in an agony of tears.
'Old Magny, one of the most rigid and cold of men on common occasions, when he saw this outbreak of passion on the Prince's part, became, as my informant has described to me, as much affected as his master. The old man from being cold and high, suddenly fell, as it were, into the whimpering querulousness of extreme old age. He lost all sense of dignity; he went down on his knees, and broke out into all sorts of wild incoherent attempts at consolation; so much so, that Weissenborn said he could not bear to look at the scene, and actually turned away from the contemplation of it.
'But, from what followed in a few days, we may guess the results of the long interview. The Prince, when he came away from the conversation with his old servant, forgot his fatal box of papers and sent the page back for them. The General was on his knees praying in the room when the young man entered, and only stirred and looked wildly round as the other removed the packet. The Prince rode away to his hunting-lodge at three leagues from X----, and three days after that Maxime de Magny died in prison; having made a confession that he was engaged in an attempt to rob the Jew, and that he had made away with himself, ashamed of his dishonour.
'But it is not known that it was the General himself who took his grandson poison: it was said even that he shot him in the prison. This, however, was not the case. General de Magny carried his grandson the draught which was to carry him out of the world; represented to the wretched youth that his fate was inevitable; that it would be public and disgraceful unless he chose to anticipate the punishment, and so left him. But IT WAS NOT OF HIS OWN ACCORD, and not until he had used EVERY means of escape, as you shall hear, that the unfortunate being's life was brought to an end.
'As for General de Magny, he quite fell into imbecility a short time after his grandson's death, and my honoured Duke's demise. After his Highness the Prince married the Princess Mary of F----, as they were walking in the English park together they once met old Magny riding in the sun in the easy chair, in which he was carried commonly abroad after his paralytic fits. "This is my wife, Magny," said the Prince affectionately, taking the veteran's hand; and he added, turning to his Princess, "General de Magny saved my life during the Seven Years' War."
"'What, you've taken her back again?" said the old man. "I wish you'd send me back my poor Maxime." He had quite forgotten the death of the poor Princess Olivia, and the Prince, looking very dark indeed, passed away.
'And now,' said Madame de Liliengarten,' I have only one more gloomy story to relate to you--the death of the Princess Olivia. It is even more horrible than the tale I have just told you.' With which preface the old lady resumed her narrative.
'The kind weak Princess's fate was hastened, if not occasioned, by the cowardice of Magny. He found means to communicate with her from his prison, and her Highness, who was not in open disgrace yet (for the Duke, out of regard to the family, persisted in charging Magny with only robbery), made the most desperate efforts to relieve him, and to bribe the gaolers to effect his escape. She was so wild that she lost all patience and prudence in the conduct of any schemes she may have had for Magny's liberation; for her husband was inexorable, and caused the Chevalier's prison to be too strictly guarded for escape to be possible. She offered the State jewels in pawn to the Court banker; who of course was obliged to decline the transaction. She fell down on her knees, it is said, to Geldern, the Police Minister, and offered him Heaven knows what as a bribe. Finally, she came screaming to my poor dear Duke, who, with his age, diseases, and easy habits, was quite unfit for scenes of so violent a nature; and who, in consequence of the excitement created in his august bosom by her frantic violence and grief, had a fit in which I very nigh lost him. That his dear life was brought to an untimely end by these transactions I have not the slightest doubt; for the Strasbourg pie, of which they said he died, never, I am sure, could have injured him, but for the injury which his dear gentle heart received from the unusual occurrences in which he was forced to take a share.
'All her Highness's movements were carefully, though not ostensibly, watched by her husband, Prince Victor; who, waiting upon his august father, sternly signified to him that if his Highness (MY Duke) should dare to aid the Princess in her efforts to release Magny, he, Prince Victor, would publicly accuse the Princess and her paramour of high treason, and take measures with the Diet for removing his father from the throne, as incapacitated to reign. Hence interposition on our part was vain, and Magny was left to his fate.
'It came, as you are aware, very suddenly. Geldern, Police Minister, Hengst, Master of the Horse, and the colonel of the Prince's guard, waited upon the young man in his prison two days after his grandfather had visited him there and left behind him the phial of poison which the criminal had not the courage to use. And Geldern signified to the young man that unless he took of his own accord the laurelwater provided by the elder Magny, more violent means of death would be instantly employed upon him, and that a file of grenadiers was in waiting in the courtyard to despatch him. Seeing this, Magny, with the most dreadful self-abasement, after dragging himself round the room on his knees from one officer to another, weeping and screaming with terror, at last desperately drank off the potion, and was a corpse in a few minutes. Thus ended this wretched young man.
'His death was made public in the COURT GAZETTE two days after, the paragraph stating that Monsieur de M----, struck with remorse for having attempted the murder of the Jew, had put himself to death by poison in prison; and a warning was added to all young noblemen of the duchy to avoid the dreadful sin of gambling, which had been the cause of the young man's ruin, and had brought upon the grey hairs of one of the noblest and most honourable of the servants of the Duke irretrievable sorrow.
'The funeral was conducted with decent privacy, the General de Magny attending it. The carriages of the two Dukes and all the first people of the Court made their calls upon the General afterwards. He attended parade as usual the next day on the Arsenal-Place, and Duke Victor, who had been inspecting the building, came out of it leaning on the brave old warrior's arm. He was particularly gracious to the old man, and told his officers the oft-repeated story how at Rosbach, when the X----contingent served with the troops of the unlucky Soubise, the General had thrown himself in the way of a French dragoon, who was pressing hard upon his Highness in the rout, had received the blow intended for his master, and killed the assailant. And he alluded to the family motto of "Magny sans tache," and said, "It had been always so with his gallant friend and tutor in arms." This speech affected all present very much; with the exception of the old General, who only bowed and did not speak: but when he went home he was heard muttering "Magny sans tache, Magny sans tache!" and was attacked with paralysis that night, from which he never more than partially recovered.
'The news of Maxime's death had somehow been kept from the Princess until now: a GAZETTE even being printed without the paragraph containing the account of his suicide; but it was at length, I know not how, made known to her. And when she heard it, her ladies tell me, she screamed and fell, as if struck dead; then sat up wildly and raved like a madwoman, and was then carried to her bed, where her physician attended her, and where she lay of a brain-fever. All this while the Prince used to send to make inquiries concerning her; and from his giving orders that his Castle of Schlangenfels should be prepared and furnished, I make no doubt it was his intention to send her into confinement thither: as had been done with the unhappy sister of His Britannic Majesty at Zell.
'She sent repeatedly to demand an interview with his Highness; which the latter declined, saying that he would communicate with her Highness when her health was sufficiently recovered. To one of her passionate letters he sent back for reply a packet, which, when opened, was found to contain the emerald that had been the cause round which all this dark intrigue moved.
'Her Highness at this time became quite frantic; vowed in the presence of all her ladies that one lock of her darling Maxime's hair was more precious to her than all the jewels in the world: rang for her carriage, and said she would go and kiss his tomb; proclaimed the murdered martyr's innocence, and called down the punishment of Heaven, the wrath of her family, upon his assassin. The Prince, on hearing these speeches (they were all, of course, regularly brought to him), is said to have given one of his dreadful looks (which I remember now), and to have said, "This cannot last much longer."
'All that day and the next the Princess Olivia passed in dictating the most passionate letters to the Prince her father, to the Kings of France, Naples, and Spain, her kinsmen, and to all other branches of her family, calling upon them in the most incoherent terms to protect her against the butcher and assassin her husband, assailing his person in the maddest terms of reproach, and at the same time confessing her love for the murdered Magny. It was in vain that those ladies who were faithful to her pointed out to her the inutility of these letters, the dangerous folly of the confessions which they made; she insisted upon writing them, and used to give them to her second robe-woman, a Frenchwoman (her Highness always affectioned persons of that nation), who had the key of her cassette, and carried every one of these epistles to Geldern.
'With the exception that no public receptions were held, the ceremony of the Princess's establishment went on as before. Her ladies were allowed to wait upon her and perform their usual duties about her person. The only men admitted were, however, her servants, her physician and chaplain; and one day when she wished to go into the garden, a heyduc, who kept the door, intimated to her Highness that the Prince's orders were that she should keep her apartments.
'They abut, as you remember, upon the landing of the marble staircase of Schloss X----; the entrance to Prince Victor's suite of rooms being opposite the Princess's on the same landing. This space is large, filled with sofas and benches, and the gentlemen and officers who waited upon the Duke used to make a sort of antechamber of the landing-place, and pay their court to his Highness there, as he passed out, at eleven o'clock, to parade. At such a time, the heyducs within the Princess's suite of rooms used to turn out with their halberts and present to Prince Victor--the same ceremony being performed on his own side, when pages came out and announced the approach of his Highness. The pages used to come out and say, "The Prince, gentlemen!" and the drums beat in the hall, and the gentlemen rose, who were waiting on the benches that ran along the balustrade.
'As if fate impelled her to her death, one day the Princess, as her guards turned out, and she was aware that the Prince was standing, as was his wont, on the landing, conversing with his gentlemen (in the old days he used to cross to the Princess's apartment and kiss her hand)--the Princess, who had been anxious all the morning, complaining of heat, insisting that all the doors of the apartments should be left open; and giving tokens of an insanity which I think was now evident, rushed wildly at the doors when the guards passed out, flung them open, and before a word could be said, or her ladies could follow her, was in presence of Duke Victor, who was talking as usual on the landing: placing herself between him and the stair, she began apostrophising him with frantic vehemence:
'"Take notice, gentlemen!" she screamed out, "that this man is a murderer and a liar; that he lays plots for honourable gentlemen, and kills them in prison! Take notice, that I too am in prison, and fear the same fate: the same butcher who killed Maxime de Magny, may, any night, put the knife to my throat. I appeal to you, and to all the kings of Europe, my Royal kinsmen. I demand to be set free from this tyrant and villain, this liar and traitor! I adjure you all, as gentlemen of honour, to carry these letters to my relatives, and say from whom you had them!" and with this the unhappy lady began scattering letters about among the astonished crowd.
'"LET NO MAN STOOP!" cried the Prince, in a voice of thunder. "Madame de Gleim, you should have watched your patient better. Call the Princess's physicians: her Highness's brain is affected. Gentlemen, have the goodness to retire." And the Prince stood on the landing as the gentlemen went down the stairs, saying fiercely to the guard, "Soldier, if she moves, strike with your halbert!" on which the man brought the point of his weapon to the Princess's breast; and the lady, frightened, shrank back and re-entered her apartments. "Now, Monsieur de Weissenborn," said the Prince," pick up all those papers;" and the Prince went into his own apartments, preceded by his pages, and never quitted them until he had seen every one of the papers burnt.
'The next day the COURT GAZETTE contained a bulletin signed by the three physicians, stating that "her Highness the Hereditary Princess laboured under inflammation of the brain, and had passed a restless and disturbed night." Similar notices were issued day after day. The services of all her ladies, except two, were dispensed with. Guards were placed within and without her doors; her windows were secured, so that escape from them was impossible: and you know what took place ten days after. The church-bells were ringing all night, and the prayers of the faithful asked for a person IN EXTREMIS. A GAZETTE appeared in the morning, edged with black, and stating that the high and mighty Princess Olivia Maria Ferdinanda, consort of His Serene Highness Victor Louis Emanuel, Hereditary Prince of X----, had died in the evening of the 24th of January 1769.
'But do you know HOW she died, sir? That, too, is a mystery. Weissenborn, the page, was concerned in this dark tragedy; and the secret was so dreadful, that never, believe me, till Prince Victor's death, did I reveal it.
'After the fatal ESCLANDRE which the Princess had made, the Prince sent for Weissenborn, and binding him by the most solemn adjuration to secrecy (he only broke it to his wife many years after: indeed, there is no secret in the world that women cannot know if they will), despatched him on the following mysterious commission.
'"There lives," said his Highness, "on the Kehl side of the river, opposite to Strasbourg, a man whose residence you will easily find out from his name, which is MONSIEUR DE STRASBOURG. You will make your inquiries concerning him quietly, and without occasioning any remark; perhaps you had better go into Strasbourg for the purpose, where the person is quite well known. You will take with you any comrade on whom you can perfectly rely: the lives of both, remember, depend on your secrecy. You will find out some period when MONSIEUR DE STRASBOURG is alone, or only in company of the domestic who lives with him (I myself visited the man by accident on my return from Paris five years since, and hence am induced to send for him now, in my present emergency). You will have your carriage waiting at his door at night; and you and your comrade will enter his house masked; and present him with a purse of a hundred louis; promising him double that sum on his return from his expedition. If he refuse, you must use force and bring him; menacing him with instant death should he decline to follow you. You will place him in the carriage with the blinds drawn, one or other of you never losing sight of him the whole way, and threatening him with death if he discover himself or cry out. You will lodge him in the old Tower here, where a room shall be prepared for him; and his work being done, you will restore him to his home with the same speed and secrecy with which you brought him from it."
'Such were the mysterious orders Prince Victor gave his page; and Weissenborn, selecting for his comrade in the expedition Lieutenant Bartenstein, set out on his strange journey.
'All this while the palace was hushed, as if in mourning, the bulletins in the COURT GAZETTE appeared, announcing the continuance of the Princess's malady; and though she had but few attendants, strange and circumstantial stories were told regarding the progress of her complaint. She was quite wild. She had tried to kill herself. She had fancied herself to be I don't know how many different characters. Expresses were sent to her family informing them of her state, and couriers despatched PUBLICLY to Vienna and Paris to procure the attendance of physicians skilled in treating diseases of the brain. That pretended anxiety was all a feint: it was never intended that the Princess should recover.
'The day on which Weissenborn and Bartenstein returned from their expedition, it was announced that her Highness the Princess was much worse; that night the report through the town was that she was at the agony: and that night the unfortunate creature was endeavouring to make her escape.
'She had unlimited confidence in the French chamber-woman who attended her, and between her and this woman the plan of escape was arranged. The Princess took her jewels in a casket; a private door, opening from one of her rooms and leading into the outer gate, it was said, of the palace, was discovered for her: and a letter was brought to her, purporting to be from the Duke, her father-in-law, and stating that a carriage and horses had been provided, and would take her to B----: the territory where she might communicate with her family and be safe.
'The unhappy lady, confiding in her guardian, set out on the expedition. The passages wound through the walls of the modern part of the palace and abutted in effect at the old Owl Tower, as it was called, on the outer wall: the tower was pulled down afterwards, and for good reason.
'At a certain place the candle, which the chamberwoman was carrying, went out; and the Princess would have screamed with terror, but her hand was seized, and a voice cried "Hush!" The next minute a man in a mask (it was the Duke himself) rushed forward, gagged her with a handkerchief, her hands and legs were bound, and she was carried swooning with terror into a vaulted room, where she was placed by a person there waiting, and tied in an arm-chair. The same mask who had gagged her, came and bared her neck and said, "It had best be done now she has fainted."
'Perhaps it would have been as well; for though she recovered from her swoon, and her confessor, who was present, came forward and endeavoured to prepare her for the awful deed which was about to be done upon her, and for the state into which she was about to enter, when she came to herself it was only to scream like a maniac, to curse the Duke as a butcher and tyrant, and to call upon Magny, her dear Magny.
'At this the Duke said, quite calmly, "May God have mercy on her sinful soul!" He, the confessor, and Geldern, who were present, went down on their knees; and, as his Highness dropped his handkerchief, Weissenborn fell down in a fainting fit; while MONSIEUR DE STRASBOURG, taking the back hair in his hand, separated the shrieking head of Olivia from the miserable sinful body. May Heaven have mercy upon her soul!'. . . .
This was the story told by Madame de Liliengarten, and the reader will have no difficulty in drawing from it that part which affected myself and my uncle; who, after six weeks of arrest, were set at liberty, but with orders to quit the duchy immediately: indeed, with an escort of dragoons to conduct us to the frontier. What property we had, we were allowed to sell and realise in money; but none of our play debts were paid to us: and all my hopes of the Countess Ida were thus at an end.
When Duke Victor came to the throne, which he did when, six months after, apoplexy carried off the old sovereign his father, all the good old usages of X----were given up,-play forbidden; the opera and ballet sent to the right-about; and the regiments which the old Duke had sold recalled from their foreign service: with them came my Countess's beggarly cousin the ensign, and he married her. I don't know whether they were happy or not. It is certain that a woman of such a poor spirit did not merit any very high degree of pleasure.
The now reigning Duke of X----himself married four years after his first wife's demise, and Geldern, though no longer Police Minister, built the grand house of which Madame de Liliengarten spoke. What became of the minor actors in the great tragedy, who knows? Only MONSIEUR DE STRASBOURG was restored to his duties. Of the rest--the Jew, the chamber-woman, the spy on Magny--I know nothing. Those sharp tools with which great people cut out their enterprises are generally broken in the using: nor did I ever hear that their employers had much regard for them in their ruin.
Chapter 13I 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 him.
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 elegance, no refinement; none of the chivalry of the old world, of which I form a portion. Think of the fashion of London being led by a Br-mm-l! [Footnote: This manuscript must have been written at the time when Mr. Brummel was the leader of the London fashion.] a nobody's son: a low creature, who can no more dance a minuet than I can talk Cherokee; who cannot even crack a bottle like a gentleman; who never showed himself to be a man with his sword in his hand: as we used to approve ourselves in the good old times, before that vulgar Corsican upset the gentry of the world! Oh, to see the Valdez once again, as on that day I met her first driving in state, with her eight mules and her retinue of gentlemen, by the side of yellow Mancanares! Oh, for another drive with Hegenheim, in the gilded sledge, over the Saxon snow! False as Schuvaloff was, 'twas better to be jilted by her than to be adored by any other woman. I can't think of any one of them without tenderness. I have ringlets of all their hair in my poor little museum of recollections. Do you keep mine, you dear souls that survive the turmoils and troubles of near half a hundred years? How changed its colour is now, since the day Sczotarska wore it round her neck, after my duel with Count Bjernaski, at Warsaw.
I never kept any beggarly books of accounts in those days. I had no debts. I paid royally for everything I took; and I took everything I wanted. My income must have been very large. My entertainments and equipages were those of a gentleman of the highest distinction; nor let any scoundrel presume to sneer because I carried off and married my Lady Lyndon (as you shall presently hear), and call me an adventurer, or say I was penniless, or the match unequal. Penniless! I had the wealth of Europe at my command. Adventurer! So is a meritorious lawyer or a gallant soldier; so is every man who makes his own fortune an adventurer. My profession was play: in which I was then unrivalled. No man could play with me through Europe, on the square; and my income was just as certain (during health and the exercise of my profession) as that of a man who draws on his Three- per-cents., or any fat squire whose acres bring him revenue. Harvest is not more certain than the effect of skill is: a crop is a chance, as much as a game of cards greatly played by a fine player: there may be a drought, or a frost, or a hail-storm, and your stake is lost; but one man is just as much an adventurer as another.
In evoking the recollection of these kind and fair creatures I have nothing but pleasure. I would I could say as much of the memory of another lady, who will henceforth play a considerable part in the drama of my life,--I mean the Countess of Lyndon; whose fatal acquaintance I made at Spa, very soon after the events described in the last chapter had caused me to quit Germany.
Honoria, Countess of Lyndon, Viscountess Bullingdon in England, Baroness Castle Lyndon of the kingdom of Ireland, was so well known to the great world in her day, that I have little need to enter into her family history; which is to be had in any peerage that the reader may lay his hand on. She was, as I need not say, a countess, viscountess, and baroness in her own right. Her estates in Devon and Cornwall were among the most extensive in those parts; her Irish possessions not less magnificent; and they have been alluded to, in a very early part of these Memoirs, as lying near to my own paternal property in the kingdom of Ireland: indeed, unjust confiscations in the time of Elizabeth and her father went to diminish my acres, while they added to the already vast possessions of the Lyndon family.
The Countess, when I first saw her at the assembly at Spa, was the wife of her cousin, the Right Honourable Sir Charles Reginald Lyndon, Knight of the Bath, and Minister to George II. and George III. at several of the smaller Courts of Europe. Sir Charles Lyndon was celebrated as a wit and bon vivant: he could write love-verses against Hanbury Williams, and make jokes with George Selwyn; he was a man of vertu like Harry Walpole, with whom and Mr. Grey he had made a part of the grand tour; and was cited, in a word, as one of the most elegant and accomplished men of his time.
I made this gentleman's acquaintance as usual at the play-table, of which he was a constant frequenter. Indeed, one could not but admire the spirit and gallantry with which he pursued his favourite pastime; for, though worn out by gout and a myriad of diseases, a cripple wheeled about in a chair, and suffering pangs of agony, yet you would see him every morning and every evening at his post behind the delightful green cloth: and if, as it would often happen, his own hands were too feeble or inflamed to hold the box, he would call the mains, nevertheless, and have his valet or a friend to throw for him. I like this courageous spirit in a man; the greatest successes in life have been won by such indomitable perseverance.
I was by this time one of the best-known characters in Europe; and the fame of my exploits, my duels, my courage at play, would bring crowds around me in any public society where I appeared. I could show reams of scented paper, to prove that this eagerness to make my acquaintance was not confined to the gentlemen only; but that I hate boasting, and only talk of myself in so far as it is necessary to relate myself's adventures: the most singular of any man's in Europe. Well, Sir Charles Lyndon's first acquaintance with me originated in the right honourable knight's winning 700 pieces of me at picquet (for which he was almost my match); and I lost them with much goodhumour, and paid them: and paid them, you may be sure, punctually. Indeed, I will say this for myself, that losing money at play never in the least put me out of good-humour with the winner, and that wherever I found a superior, I was always ready to acknowledge and hail him.
Lyndon was very proud of winning from so celebrated a person, and we contracted a kind of intimacy; which, however, did not for a while go beyond pump-room attentions, and conversations over the supper- table at play: but which gradually increased, until I was admitted into his more private friendship. He was a very free-spoken man (the gentry of those days were much prouder than at present), and used to say to me in his haughty easy way, 'Hang it, Mr. Barry, you have no more manners than a barber, and I think my black footman has been better educated than you; but you are a young fellow of originality and pluck, and I like you, sir, because you seem determined to go to the deuce by a way of your own.' I would thank him laughingly for this compliment, and say, that as he was bound to the next world much sooner than I was, I would be obliged to him to get comfortable quarters arranged there for me. He used also to be immensely amused with my stories about the splendour of my family and the magnificence of Castle Brady: he would never tire of listening or laughing at those histories.
'Stick to the trumps, however, my lad,' he would say, when I told him of my misfortunes in the conjugal line, and how near I had been winning the greatest fortune in Germany. 'Do anything but marry, my artless Irish rustic' (he called me by a multiplicity of queer names). 'Cultivate your great talents in the gambling line; but mind this, that a woman will beat you.'That I denied; mentioning several instances in which I had conquered the most intractable tempers among the sex.
'They will beat you in the long run, my Tipperary Alcibiades. As soon as you are married, take my word of it, you are conquered. Look at me. I married my cousin, the noblest and greatest heiress in England--married her in spite of herself almost' (here a dark shade passed over Sir Charles Lyndon's countenance). 'She is a weak woman. You shall see her, sir, HOW weak she is; but she is my mistress. She has embittered my whole life. She is a fool; but she has got the better of one of the best heads in Christendom. She is enormously rich; but somehow I have never been so poor as since I married her. I thought to better myself; and she has made me miserable and killed me. And she will do as much for my successor, when I am gone.'
'Has her Ladyship a very large income?' said I. At which Sir Charles burst out into a yelling laugh, and made me blush not a little at my gaucherie; for the fact is, seeing him in the condition in which he was, I could not help speculating upon the chance a man of spirit might have with his widow.
'No, no!' said he, laughing. 'Waugh hawk, Mr. Barry; don't think, if you value your peace of mind, to stand in my shoes when they are vacant. Besides, I don't think my Lady Lyndon would QUITE condescend to marry a'----'Marry a what, sir?' said I, in a rage.
"Never mind what: but the man who gets her will rue it, take my word on't. A plague on her! had it not been for my father's ambition and mine (he was her uncle and guardian, and we wouldn't let such a prize out of the family), I might have died peaceably, at least; carried my gout down to my grave in quiet, lived in my modest tenement in Mayfair, had every house in England open to me; and now, now I have six of my own, and every one of them is a hell to me. Beware of greatness, Mr. Barry. Take warning by me. Ever since I have been married and have been rich, I have been the most miserable wretch in the world. Look at me. I am dying a worn-out cripple at the age of fifty. Marriage has added forty years to my life. When I took off Lady Lyndon, there was no man of my years who looked so young as myself. Fool that I was! I had enough with my pensions, perfect freedom, the best society in Europe; and I gave up all these, and married, and was miserable. Take a warning by me, Captain Barry, and stick to the trumps." Though my intimacy with the knight was considerable, for a long time I never penetrated into any other apartments of his hotel but those which he himself occupied. His lady lived entirely apart from him; and it is only curious how they came to travel together at all. She was a goddaughter of old Mary Wortley Montagu: and, like that famous old woman of the last century, made considerable pretensions to be a blue-stocking and a bel esprit. Lady Lyndon wrote poems in English and Italian, which still may be read by the curious in the pages of the magazines of the day. She entertained a correspondence with several of the European savans upon history, science, and ancient languages, and especially theology. Her pleasure was to dispute controversial points with abbes and bishops; and her flatterers said she rivalled Madam Dacier in learning. Every adventurer who had a discovery in chemistry, a new antique bust, or a plan for discovering the philosopher's stone, was sure to find a patroness in her. She had numberless works dedicated to her, and sonnets without end addressed to her by all the poetasters of Europe, under the name of Lindonira or Calista. Her rooms were crowded with hideous China magots, and all sorts of objects of VERTU.
No woman piqued herself more upon her principles, or allowed love to be made to her more profusely. There was a habit of courtship practised by the fine gentlemen of those days, which is little understood in our coarse downright times: and young and old fellows would pour out floods of compliments in letters and madrigals, such as would make a sober lady stare were they addressed to her nowadays: so entirely has the gallantry of the last century disappeared out of our manners.
Lady Lyndon moved about with a little court of her own. She had half-a-dozen carriages in her progresses. In her own she would travel with her companion (some shabby lady of quality), her birds, and poodles, and the favourite savant for the time being. In another would be her female secretary and her waiting-women; who, in spite of their care, never could make their mistress look much better than a slattern. Sir Charles Lyndon had his own chariot, and the domestics of the establishment would follow in other vehicles.
Also must be mentioned the carriage in which rode her Ladyship's chaplain, Mr. Runt, who acted in capacity of governor to her son, the little Viscount Bullingdon,--a melancholy deserted little boy, about whom his father was more than indifferent, and whom his mother never saw, except for two minutes at her levee, when she would put to him a few questions of history or Latin grammar; after which he was consigned to his own amusements, or the care of his governor, for the rest of the day.
The notion of such a Minerva as this, whom I saw in the public places now and then, surrounded by swarms of needy abbes and schoolmasters, who flattered her, frightened me for some time, and I had not the least desire to make her acquaintance. I had no desire to be one of the beggarly adorers in the great lady's train,-- fellows, half friend, half lacquey, who made verses, and wrote letters, and ran errands, content to be paid by a seat in her Ladyship's box at the comedy, or a cover at her dinner-table at noon. 'Don't be afraid,' Sir Charles Lyndon would say, whose great subject of conversation and abuse was his lady: 'my Lindonira will have nothing to do with you. She likes the Tuscan brogue, not that of Kerry. She says you smell too much of the stable to be admitted to ladies' society; and last Sunday fortnight, when she did me the honour to speak to me last, said, "I wonder, Sir Charles Lyndon, a gentleman who has been the King's ambassador can demean himself by gambling and boozing with low Irish blacklegs!" Don't fly in a fury! I'm a cripple, and it was Lindonira said it, not I.'
This piqued me, and I resolved to become acquainted with Lady Lyndon; if it were but to show her Ladyship that the descendant of those Barrys, whose property she unjustly held, was not an unworthy companion for any lady, were she ever so high. Besides, my friend the knight was dying: his widow would be the richest prize in the three kingdoms. Why should I not win her, and, with her, the means of making in the world that figure which my genius and inclination desired? I felt I was equal in blood and breeding to any Lyndon in Christendom, and determined to bend this haughty lady. When I determine, I look upon the thing as done.
My uncle and I talked the matter over, and speedily settled upon a method for making our approaches upon this stately lady of Castle Lyndon. Mr. Runt, young Lord Bullingdon's governor, was fond of pleasure, of a glass of Rhenish in the garden-houses in the summer evenings, and of a sly throw of the dice when the occasion offered; and I took care to make friends with this person, who, being a college tutor and an Englishman, was ready to go on his knees to any one who resembled a man of fashion. Seeing me with my retinue of servants, my vis-a-vis and chariots, my valets, my hussar, and horses, dressed in gold, and velvet, and sables, saluting the greatest people in Europe as we met on the course, or at the Spas, Runt was dazzled by my advances, and was mine by a beckoning of the finger. I shall never forget the poor wretch's astonishment when I asked him to dine, with two counts, off gold plate, at the little room in the casino: he was made happy by being allowed to win a few pieces of us, became exceedingly tipsy, sang Cambridge songs, and recreated the company by telling us, in his horrid Yorkshire French, stories about the gyps, and all the lords that had ever been in his college. I encouraged him to come and see me oftener, and bring with him his little viscount; for whom, though the boy always detested me, I took care to have a good stock of sweetmeats, toys, and picture-books when he came.
I then began to enter into a controversy with Mr. Runt, and confided to him some doubts which I had, and a very very earnest leaning towards the Church of Rome. I made a certain abbe whom I knew write me letters upon transubstantiation, &c., which the honest tutor was rather puzzled to answer. I knew that they would be communicated to his lady, as they were; for, asking leave to attend the English service which was celebrated in her apartments, and frequented by the best English then at the Spa, on the second Sunday she condescended to look at me; on the third she was pleased to reply to my profound bow by a curtsey; the next day I followed up the acquaintance by another obeisance in the public walk; and, to make a long story short, her Ladyship and I were in full correspondence on transubstantiation before six weeks were over. My Lady came to the aid of her chaplain; and then I began to see the prodigious weight of his arguments: as was to be expected. The progress of this harmless little intrigue need not be detailed. I make no doubt every one of my readers has practised similar stratagems when a fair lady was in the case. I shall never forget the astonishment of Sir Charles Lyndon when, on one summer evening, as he was issuing out to the play-table in his sedan-chair, according to his wont, her Ladyship's barouche and four, with her outriders in the tawny livery of the Lyndon family, came driving into the courtyard of the house which they inhabited; and in that carriage, by her Ladyship's side, sat no other than the 'vulgar Irish adventurer,' as she was pleased to call him: I mean Redmond Barry, Esquire. He made the most courtly of his bows, and grinned and waved his hat in as graceful a manner as the gout permitted; and her Ladyship and I replied to the salutation with the utmost politeness and elegance on our parts.
I could not go to the play-table for some time afterwards for Lady Lyndon and I had an argument on transubstantiation, which lasted for three hours; in which she was, as usual, victorious, and, in which her companion, the Honourable Miss Flint Skinner, fell asleep; but when, at last, I joined Sir Charles at the casino, he received me with a yell of laughter, as his wont was, and introduced me to all the company as Lady Lyndon's interesting young convert. This was his way. He laughed and sneered at everything. He laughed when he was in a paroxysm of pain; he laughed when he won money, or when he lost it: his laugh was not jovial or agreeable, but rather painful and sardonic.
'Gentlemen,' said he to Punter, Colonel Loder, Count du Carreau, and several jovial fellows with whom he used to discuss a flask of champagne and a Rhenish trout or two after play, 'see this amiable youth! He has been troubled by religious scruples, and has flown for refuge to my chaplain, Mr. Runt, who has asked for advice from my wife, Lady Lyndon; and, between them both, they are confirming my ingenious young friend in his faith. Did you ever hear of such doctors, and such a disciple?'''Faith, sir,' said I, 'if I want to learn good principles, it's surely better I should apply for them to your lady and your chaplain than to you!' 'He wants to step into my shoes!' continued the knight.
'The man would be happy who did so,' responded I, 'provided there were no chalk-stones included!' At which reply Sir Charles was not very well pleased, and went on with increased rancour. He was always free-spoken in his cups; and, to say the truth, he was in his cups many more times in a week than his doctors allowed.
'Is it not a pleasure, gentlemen,' said he, 'for me, as I am drawing near the goal, to find my home such a happy one; my wife so fond of me, that she is even now thinking of appointing a successor? (I don't mean you precisely, Mr. Barry; you are only taking your chance with a score of others whom I could mention.) Isn't it a comfort to see her, like a prudent housewife, getting everything ready for her husband's departure?'
'I hope you are not thinking of leaving us soon, knight?' said I, with perfect sincerity; for I liked him, as a most amusing companion. 'Not so soon, my dear, as you may fancy, perhaps,' continued he. 'Why, man, I have been given over any time these four years; and there was always a candidate or two waiting to apply for the situation. Who knows how long I may keep you waiting?' and he DID keep me waiting some little time longer than at that period there was any reason to suspect.
As I declared myself pretty openly, according to my usual way, and authors are accustomed to describe the persons of the ladies with whom their heroes fall in love; in compliance with this fashion, I perhaps should say a word or two respecting the charms of my Lady Lyndon. But though I celebrated them in many copies of verses, of my own and other persons' writing; and though I filled reams of paper in the passionate style of those days with compliments to every one of her beauties and smiles, in which I compared her to every flower, goddess, or famous heroine ever heard of,--truth compels me to say that there was nothing divine about her at all. She was very well; but no more. Her shape was fine, her hair dark, her eyes good, and exceedingly active; she loved singing, but performed it as so great a lady should, very much out of tune. She had a smattering of half- a-dozen modern languages, and, as I have said before, of many more sciences than I even knew the names of. She piqued herself on knowing Greek and Latin; but the truth is, that Mr. Runt, used to supply her with the quotations which she introduced into her voluminous correspondence. She had as much love of admiration, as strong, uneasy a vanity, and as little heart, as any woman I ever knew. Otherwise, when her son, Lord Bullingdon, on account of his differences with me, ran--but that matter shall be told in its proper time. Finally, my Lady Lyndon was about a year older than myself; though, of course, she would take her Bible oath that she was three years younger.
Few men are so honest as I am; for few will own to their real motives, and I don't care a button about confessing mine. What Sir Charles Lyndon said was perfectly true. I made the acquaintance of Lady Lyndon with ulterior views. 'Sir,' said I to him, when, after the scene described and the jokes he made upon me, we met alone, 'let those laugh that win. You were very pleasant upon me a few nights since, and on my intentions regarding your lady. Well, if they ARE what you think they are,--if I DO wish to step into your shoes, what then? I have no other intentions than you had yourself. I'll be sworn to muster just as much regard for my Lady Lyndon as you ever showed her; and if I win her and wear her when you are dead and gone, corbleu, knight, do you think it will be the fear of your ghost will deter me?'Lyndon laughed as usual; but somewhat disconcertedly: indeed I had clearly the best of him in the argument, and had just as much right to hunt my fortune as he had.
But one day he said, 'If you marry such a woman as my Lady Lyndon, mark my words, you will regret it. You will pine after the liberty you once enjoyed. By George! Captain Barry,' he added, with a sigh, 'the thing that I regret most in life--perhaps it is because I am old, blase, and dying--is, that I never had a virtuous attachment.''Ha! ha! a milkmaid's daughter!' said I, laughing at the absurdity.
'Well, why not a milkmaid's daughter? My good fellow, I WAS in love in youth, as most gentlemen are, with my tutor's daughter, Helena, a bouncing girl; of course older than myself' (this made me remember my own little love-passages with Nora Brady in the days of my early life), 'and do you know, sir, I heartily regret I didn't marry her? There's nothing like having a virtuous drudge at home, sir; depend upon that. It gives a zest to one's enjoyments in the world, take my word for it. No man of sense need restrict himself, or deny himself a single amusement for his wife's sake: on the contrary, if he select the animal properly, he will choose such a one as shall be no bar to his pleasure, but a comfort in his hours of annoyance. For instance, I have got the gout: who tends me? A hired valet, who robs me whenever he has the power. My wife never comes near me. What friend have I? None in the wide world. Men of the world, as you and I are, don't make friends; and we are fools for our pains. Get a friend, sir, and that friend a woman--a good household drudge, who loves you. THAT is the most precious sort of friendship; for the expense of it is all on the woman's side. The man needn't contribute anything. If he's a rogue, she'll vow he's an angel; if he's a brute, she will like him all the better for his illtreatment of her. They like it, sir, these women. They are born to be our greatest comforts and conveniences; our--our moral bootjacks, as it were; and to men in your way of life, believe me such a person would be invaluable. I am only speaking for your bodily and mental comfort's sake, mind. Why didn't I marry poor Helena Flower, the curate's daughter?'
I thought these speeches the remarks of a weakly disappointed man; although since, perhaps, I have had reason to find the truth of Sir Charles Lyndon's statements. The fact is, in my opinion, that we often buy money very much too dear. To purchase a few thousands a year at the expense of an odious wife, is very bad economy for a young fellow of any talent and spirit; and there have been moments of my life when, in the midst of my greatest splendour and opulence, with half-a-dozen lords at my levee, with the finest horses in my stables, the grandest house over my head, with unlimited credit at my banker's, and--Lady Lyndon to boot, I have wished myself back a private of Bulow's, or anything, so as to get rid of her. To return, however, to the story. Sir Charles, with his complication of ills, was dying before us by inches! and I've no doubt it could not have been very pleasant to him to see a young handsome fellow paying court to his widow before his own face as it were. After I once got into the house on the transubstantiation dispute, I found a dozen more occasions to improve my intimacy, and was scarcely ever out of her Ladyship's doors. The world talked and blustered; but what cared I? The men cried fie upon the shameless Irish adventurer; but I have told my way of silencing such envious people: and my sword had by this time got such a reputation through Europe, that few people cared to encounter it. If I can once get my hold of a place, I keep it. Many's the house I have been to where I have seen the men avoid me. 'Faugh! the low Irishman,' they would say. 'Bah! the coarse adventurer!' 'Out on the insufferable blackleg and puppy!' and so forth. This hatred has been of no inconsiderable service to me in the world; for when I fasten on a man, nothing can induce me to release my hold: and I am left to myself, which is all the better. As I told Lady Lyndon in those days, with perfect sincerity, 'Calista' (I used to call her Calista in my correspondence)--' Calista, I swear to thee, by the spotlessness of thy own soul, by the brilliancy of thy immitigable eyes, by everything pure and chaste in heaven and in thy own heart, that I will never cease from following thee! Scorn I can bear, and have borne at thy hands. Indifference I can surmount; 'tis a rock which my energy will climb over, a magnet which attracts the dauntless iron of my soul!' And it was true, I wouldn't have left her--no, though they had kicked me downstairs every day I presented myself at her door.
That is my way of fascinating women. Let the man who has to make his fortune in life remember this maxim. ATTACKING is his only secret. Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beat you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb. In those days my spirit was so great, that if I had set my heart upon marrying a princess of the blood, I would have had her!
I told Calista my story, and altered very very little of the truth. My object was to frighten her: to show her that what I wanted, that I dared; that what I dared, that I won; and there were striking passages enough in my history to convince her of my iron will and indomitable courage. 'Never hope to escape me, madam,' I would say: 'offer to marry another man, and he dies upon this sword, which never yet met its master. Fly from me, and I will follow you, though it were to the gates of Hades.' I promise you this was very different language to that she had been in the habit of hearing from her Jemmy-Jessamy adorers. You should have seen how I scared the fellows from her.
When I said in this energetic way that I would follow Lady Lyndon across the Styx if necessary, of course I meant that I would do so, provided nothing more suitable presented itself in the interim. If Lyndon would not die, where was the use of my pursuing the Countess? And somehow, towards the end of the Spa season, very much to my mortification I do confess, the knight made another rally: it seemed as if nothing would kill him. 'I am sorry for you, Captain Barry,' he would say, laughing as usual. 'I'm grieved to keep you, or any gentleman, waiting. Had you not better arrange with my doctor, or get the cook to flavour my omelette with arsenic? What are the odds, gentlemen,' he would add, 'that I don't live to see Captain Barry hanged yet?'
In fact, the doctors tinkered him up for a year. 'It's my usual luck,' I could not help saying to my uncle, who was my confidential and most excellent adviser in all matters of the heart. 'I've been wasting the treasures of my affections upon that flirt of a countess, and here's her husband restored to health and likely to live I don't know how many years!' And, as if to add to my mortification, there came just at this period to Spa an English tallow-chandler's heiress, with a plum to her fortune; and Madame Cornu, the widow of a Norman cattle-dealer and farmer-general, with a dropsy and two hundred thousand livres a year.'What's the use of my following the Lyndons to England,' says I, 'if the knight won't die?' 'Don't follow them, my dear simple child,' replied my uncle. 'Stop here and pay court to the new arrivals.' 'Yes, and lose Calista for ever, and the greatest estate in all England.'
'Pooh, pooh! youths like you easily fire and easily despond. Keep up a correspondence with Lady Lyndon. You know there's nothing she likes so much. There's the Irish abbe, who will write you the most charming letters for a crown apiece. Let her go; write to her, and meanwhile look out for anything else which may turn up. Who knows? you might marry the Norman widow, bury her, take her money, and be ready for the Countess against the knight's death.'
And so, with vows of the most profound respectful attachment, and having given twenty louis to Lady Lyndon's waiting-woman for a lock of her hair (of which fact, of course, the woman informed her mistress), I took leave of the Countess, when it became necessary for her return to her estates in England; swearing I would follow her as soon as an affair of honour I had on my hands could be brought to an end.
I shall pass over the events of the year that ensued before I again saw her. She wrote to me according to promise; with much regularity at first, with somewhat less frequency afterwards. My affairs, meanwhile, at the play-table went on not unprosperously, and I was just on the point of marrying the widow Cornu (we were at Brussels by this time, and the poor soul was madly in love with me,) when the London Gazette was put into my hands, and I read the following announcement:--
'Died at Castle-Lyndon, in the kingdom of Ireland, the Right Honourable Sir Charles Lyndon, Knight of the Bath, member of Parliament for Lyndon in Devonshire, and many years His Majesty's representative at various European Courts. He hath left behind him a name which is endeared to all his friends for his manifold virtues and talents, a reputation justly acquired in the service of His Majesty, and an inconsolable widow to deplore his loss. Her Ladyship, the bereaved Countess of Lyndon, was at the Bath when the horrid intelligence reached her of her husband's demise, and hastened to Ireland immediately in order to pay her last sad duties to his beloved remains.'
That very night I ordered my chariot and posted to Ostend, whence I freighted a vessel to Dover, and travelling rapidly into the West, reached Bristol; from which port I embarked for Waterford, and found myself, after an absence of eleven years, in my native country.
Chapter 14I Return To Ireland, And Exhibit My Splendour And Generosity In That Kingdom
How were times changed with me now! I had left my country a poor penniless boy--a private soldier in a miserable marching regiment. I returned an accomplished man, with property to the amount of five thousand guineas in my possession, with a splendid wardrobe and jewel-case worth two thousand more; having mingled in all the scenes of life a not undistinguished actor in them; having shared in war and in love; having by my own genius and energy won my way from poverty and obscurity to competence and splendour. As I looked out from my chariot windows as it rolled along over the bleak bare roads, by the miserable cabins of the peasantry, who came out in their rags to stare as the splendid equipage passed, and huzza'd for his Lordship's honour as they saw the magnificent stranger in the superb gilded vehicle, my huge body-servant Fritz lolling behind with curling moustaches and long queue, his green livery barred with silver lace, I could not help thinking of myself with considerable complacency, and thanking my stars that had endowed me with so many good qualities. But for my own merits I should have been a raw Irish squireen such as those I saw swaggering about the wretched towns through which my chariot passed on its road to Dublin. I might have married Nora Brady (and though, thank Heaven, I did not, I have never thought of that girl but with kindness, and even remember the bitterness of losing her more clearly at this moment than any other incident of my life); I might have been the father of ten children by this time, or a farmer on my own account, or an agent to a squire, or a gauger, or an attorney; and here I was one of the most famous gentlemen of Europe! I bade my fellow get a bag of copper money and throw it among the crowd as we changed horses; and I warrant me there was as much shouting set up in praise of my honour as if my Lord Townshend, the Lord Lieutenant himself, had been passing.
My second day's journey--for the Irish roads were rough in those days, and the progress of a gentleman's chariot terribly slow-- brought me to Carlow, where I put up at the very inn which I had used eleven years back, when flying from home after the supposed murder of Quin in the duel. How well I remember every moment of the scene! The old landlord was gone who had served me; the inn that I then thought so comfortable looked wretched and dismantled; but the claret was as good as in the old days, and I had the host to partake of a jug of it and hear the news of the country.
He was as communicative as hosts usually are: the crops and the markets, the price of beasts at last Castle Dermot fair, the last story about the vicar, and the last joke of Father Hogan the priest; how the Whiteboys had burned Squire Scanlan's ricks, and the highwaymen had been beaten off in their attack upon Sir Thomas's house; who was to hunt the Kilkenny hounds next season, and the wonderful run entirely they had last March; what troops were in the town, and how Miss Biddy Toole had run off with Ensign Mullins: all the news of sport, assize, and quarter-sessions were detailed by this worthy chronicler of small-beer, who wondered that my honour hadn't heard of them in England, or in foreign parts, where he seemed to think the world was as interested as he was about the doings of Kilkenny and Carlow. I listened to these tales with, I own, a considerable pleasure; for every now and then a name would come up in the conversation which I remembered in old days, and bring with it a hundred associations connected with them.
I had received many letters from my mother, which informed me of the doings of the Brady's Town family. My uncle was dead, and Mick, his eldest son, had followed him too to the grave. The Brady girls had separated from their paternal roof as soon as their elder brother came to rule over it. Some were married, some gone to settle with their odious old mother in out-of-the-way watering-places. Ulick, though he had succeeded to the estate, had come in for a bankrupt property, and Castle Brady was now inhabited only by the bats and owls, and the old gamekeeper. My mother, Mrs. Harry Barry, had gone to live at Bray, to sit under Mr. Jowls, her favourite preacher, who had a chapel there; and, finally, the landlord told me, that Mrs. Barry's son had gone to foreign parts, enlisted in the Prussian service, and had been shot there as a deserter.
I don't care to own that I hired a stout nag from the landlord's stable after dinner, and rode back at nightfall twenty miles to my old home. My heart beat to see it. Barryville had got a pestle and mortar over the door, and was called 'The Esculapian Repository,' by Doctor Macshane; a red-headed lad was spreading a plaster in the old parlour; the little window of my room, once so neat and bright, was cracked in many places, and stuffed with rags here and there; the flowers had disappeared from the trim garden-beds which my good orderly mother tended. In the churchyard there were two more names put into the stone over the family vault of the Bradys: they were those of my cousin, for whom my regard was small, and my uncle, whom I had always loved. I asked my old companion the blacksmith, who had beaten me so often in old days, to give my horse a feed and a litter: he was a worn weary-looking man now, with a dozen dirty ragged children paddling about his smithy, and had no recollection of the fine gentleman who stood before him. I did not seek to recall my-self to his memory till the next day, when I put ten guineas into his hand, and bade him drink the health of English Redmond.
As for Castle Brady, the gates of the park were still there; but the old trees were cut down in the avenue, a black stump jutting out here and there, and casting long shadows as I passed in the moonlight over the worn grass-grown old road. A few cows were at pasture there. The garden-gate was gone, and the place a tangled wilderness. I sat down on the old bench, where I had sat on the day when Nora jilted me; and I do believe my feelings were as strong then as they had been when I was a boy, eleven years before; and I caught myself almost crying again, to think that Nora Brady had deserted me. I believe a man forgets nothing. I've seen a flower, or heard some trivial word or two, which have awakened recollections that somehow had lain dormant for scores of years; and when I entered the house in Clarges Street, where I was born (it was used as a gambling-house when I first visited London), all of a sudden the memory of my childhood came back to me--of my actual infancy: I recollected my father in green and gold, holding me up to look at a gilt coach which stood at the door, and my mother in a flowered sack, with patches on her face. Some day, I wonder, will everything we have seen and thought and done come and flash across our minds in this way? I had rather not. I felt so as I sat upon the bench at Castle Brady, and thought of the bygone times.
The hall-door was open--it was always so at that house; the moon was flaring in at the long old windows, and throwing ghastly chequers upon the floors; and the stars were looking in on the other side, in the blue of the yawning window over the great stair: from it you could see the old stable-clock, with the letters glistening on it still. There had been jolly horses in those stables once; and I could see my uncle's honest face, and hear him talking to his dogs as they came jumping and whining and barking round about him of a gay winter morning. We used to mount there; and the girls looked out at us from the hallwindow, where I stood and looked at the sad, mouldy, lonely old place. There was a red light shining through the crevices of a door at one corner of the building, and a dog presently came out baying loudly, and a limping man followed with a fowling-piece.
I thought the old man would have fired his piece at me at first, for he pointed it at the window; but I called to him to hold his hand, and came down and embraced him.... Psha! I don't care to tell the rest: Phil and I had a long night, and talked over a thousand foolish old things that have no interest for any soul alive now: for what soul is there alive that cares for Barry Lyndon?I settled a hundred guineas on the old man when I got to Dublin, and made him an annuity which enabled him to pass his old days in comfort.
Poor Phil Purcell was amusing himself at a game of exceedingly dirty cards with an old acquaintance of mine; no other than Tim, who was called my 'valet' in the days of yore, and whom the reader may remember as clad in my father's old liveries. They used to hang about him in those times, and lap over his wrists and down to his heels; but Tim, though he protested he had nigh killed himself with grief when I went away, had managed to grow enormously fat in my absence, and would have fitted almost into Daniel Lambert's coat, or that of the vicar of Castle Brady, whom he served in the capacity of clerk. I would have engaged the fellow in my service but for his monstrous size, which rendered him quite unfit to be the attendant of any gentleman of condition; and so I presented him with a handsome gratuity, and promised to stand godfather to his next child: the eleventh since my absence. There is no country in the world where the work of multiplying is carried on so prosperously as in my native island. Mr. Tim had married the girls' waitingmaid, who had been a kind friend of mine in the early times; and I had to go salute poor Molly next day, and found her a slatternly wench in a mud hut, surrounded by a brood of children almost as ragged as those of my friend the blacksmith.From Tim and Phil Purcell, thus met fortuitously together, I got the very last news respecting my family. My mother was well. ''Faith sir,' says Tim, 'and you're come in time, mayhap, for preventing an addition to your family.' 'Sir!' exclaimed I, in a fit of indignation. 'In the shape of father-in-law, I mane, sir,' says Tim: 'the misthress is going to take on with Mister Jowls the praacher.'
Poor Nora, he added, had made many additions to the illustrious race of Quin; and my cousin Ulick was in Dublin, coming to little good, both my informants feared, and having managed to run through the small available remains of property which my good old uncle had left behind him.
I saw I should have no small family to provide for; and then, to conclude the evening, Phil, Tim, and I, had a bottle of usquebaugh, the taste of which I had remembered for eleven good years, and did not part except with the warmest terms of fellowship, and until the sun had been some time in the sky. I am exceedingly affable; that has always been one of my characteristics. I have no false pride, as many men of high lineage like my own have, and, in default of better company, will hob and nob with a ploughboy or a private soldier just as readily as with the first noble in the land.
I went back to the village in the morning, and found a pretext for visiting Barryville under a device of purchasing drugs. The hooks were still in the wall where my silverhiked sword used to hang; a blister was lying on the window-sill, where my mother's 'Whole Duty of Man' had its place; and the odious Doctor Macshane had found out who I was (my countrymen find out everything, and a great deal more besides), and sniggering, asked me how I left the King of Prussia, and whether my friend the Emperor Joseph was as much liked as the Empress Maria Theresa had been. The bell-ringers would have had a ring of bells for me, but there was but one, Tim, who was too fat to pull; and I rode off before the vicar, Doctor Bolter (who had succeeded old Mr. Texter, who had the living in my time), had time to come out to compliment me; but the rapscallions of the beggarly village had assembled in a dirty army to welcome me, and cheered 'Hurrah for Masther Redmond!' as I rode away.
My people were not a little anxious regarding me, by the time I returned to Carlow, and the landlord was very much afraid, he said, that the highwaymen had gotten hold of me. There, too, my name and station had been learned from my servant Fritz: who had not spared his praises of his master, and had invented some magnificent histories concerning me. He said it was the truth that I was intimate with half the sovereigns of Europe, and the prime favourite with most of them. Indeed I had made my uncle's order of the Spur hereditary, and travelled under the name of the Chevalier Barry, chamberlain to the Duke of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
They gave me the best horses the stable possessed to carry me on my road to Dublin, and the strongest ropes for harness; and we got on pretty well, and there was no rencontre between the highwaymen and the pistols with which Fritz and I were provided. We lay that night at Kilcullen, and the next day I made my entry into the city of Dublin, with four horses to my carriage, five thousand guineas in my purse, and one of the most brilliant reputations in Europe, having quitted the city a beggarly boy, eleven years before. The citizens of Dublin have as great and laudable a desire for knowing their neighbours' concerns as the country people have; and it is impossible for a gentleman, however modest his desires may be (and such mine have notoriously been through life), to enter the capital without having his name printed in every newspaper and mentioned in a number of societies. My name and titles were all over the town the day after my arrival. A great number of polite persons did me the honour to call at my lodgings, when I selected them; and this was a point very necessarily of immediate care, for the hotels in the town were but vulgar holes, unfit for a nobleman of my fashion and elegance. I had been informed of the fact by travellers on the Continent; and determining to fix on a lodging at once, I bade the drivers go slowly up and down the streets with my chariot, until I had selected a place suitable to my rank. This proceeding, and the uncouth questions and behaviour of my German Fritz, who was instructed to make inquiries at the different houses until convenient apartments could be lighted upon, brought an immense mob round my coach; and by the time the rooms were chosen you might have supposed I was the new General of the Forces, so great was the multitude following us.
I fixed at length upon a handsome suite of apartments in Capel Street, paid the ragged postilions who had driven me a splendid gratuity, and establishing myself in the rooms with my baggage and Fritz, desired the landlord to engage me a second fellow to wear my liveries, a couple of stout reputable chairmen and their machine, and a coachman who had handsome job-horses to hire for my chariot, and serviceable riding-horses to sell. I gave him a handsome sum in advance; and I promise you the effect of my advertisement was such, that next day I had a regular levee in my antechamber: grooms, valets, and maitres-d'hotel offered themselves without number; I had proposals for the purchase of horses sufficient to mount a regiment, both from dealers and gentlemen of the first fashion. Sir Lawler Gawler came to propose to me the most elegant bay-mare ever stepped; my Lord Dundoodle had a team of four that wouldn't disgrace my friend the Emperor; and the Marquess of Ballyragget sent his gentleman and his compliments, stating that if I would step up to his stables, or do him the honour of breakfasting with him previously, he would show me the two finest greys in Europe. I determined to accept the invitations of Dundoodle and Ballyragget, but to purchase my horses from the dealers. It is always the best way. Besides, in those days, in Ireland, if a gentleman warranted his horse, and it was not sound, or a dispute arose, the remedy you had was the offer of a bullet in your waistcoat. I had played at the bullet game too much in earnest to make use of it heedlessly: and I may say, proudly for myself, that I never engaged in a duel unless I had a real, available, and prudent reason for it.
There was a simplicity about this Irish gentry which amused and made me wonder. If they tell more fibs than their downright neighbours across the water, on the other hand they believe more; and I made myself in a single week such a reputation in Dublin as would take a man ten years and a mint of money to acquire in London. I had won five hundred thousand pounds at play; I was the favourite of the Empress Catherine of Russia; the confidential agent of Frederick of Prussia; it was I won the battle of Hochkirchen; I was the cousin of Madame Du Barry, the French King's favourite, and a thousand things beside. Indeed, to tell the truth, I hinted a number of these stories to my kind friends Ballyragget and Gawler; and they were not slow to improve the hints I gave them. After having witnessed the splendours of civilised life abroad, the sight of Dublin in the year 1771, when I returned thither, struck me with anything but respect. It was as savage as Warsaw almost, without the regal grandeur of the latter city. The people looked more ragged than any race I have ever seen, except the gipsy hordes along the banks of the Danube. There was, as I have said, not an inn in the town fit for a gentleman of condition to dwell in. Those luckless fellows who could not keep a carriage, and walked the streets at night, ran imminent risks of the knives of the women and ruffians who lay in wait there,--of a set of ragged savage villains, who neither knew the use of shoe nor razor; and as a gentleman entered his chair or his chariot, to be carried to his evening rout, or the play, the flambeaux of the footmen would light up such a set of wild gibbering Milesian faces as would frighten a genteel person of average nerves. I was luckily endowed with strong ones; besides, had seen my amiable countrymen before.
I know this description of them will excite anger among some Irish patriots, who don't like to have the nakedness of our land abused, and are angry if the whole truth be told concerning it. But bah! it was a poor provincial place, Dublin, in the old days of which I speak; and many a tenth-rate German residency is more genteel. There were, it is true, near three hundred resident Peers at the period; and a House of Commons; and my Lord Mayor and his corporation; and a roystering noisy University, whereof the students made no small disturbances nightly, patronised the roundhouse, ducked obnoxious printers and tradesmen, and gave the law at the Crow Street Theatre. But I had seen too much of the first society of Europe to be much tempted by the society of these noisy gentry, and was a little too much of a gentleman to mingle with the disputes and politics of my Lord Mayor and his Aldermen. In the House of Commons there were some dozen of right pleasant fellows. I never heard in the English Parliament better speeches than from Flood, and Daly, of Galway. Dick Sheridan, though not a well-bred person, was as amusing and ingenious a table-companion as ever I met; and though during Mr. Edmund Burke's interminable speeches in the English House I used always to go to sleep, I yet have heard from well-informed parties that Mr. Burke was a person of considerable abilities, and even reputed to be eloquent in his more favourable moments.
I soon began to enjoy to the full extent the pleasures that the wretched place affords, and which were within a gentleman's reach: Ranelagh and the Ridotto; Mr. Mossop, at Crow Street; my Lord Lieutenant's parties, where there was a great deal too much boozing, and too little play, to suit a person of my elegant and refined habits. 'Daly's Coffee-house,' and the houses of the nobility, were soon open to me; and I remarked with astonishment in the higher circles, what I had experienced in the lower on my first unhappy visit to Dublin, an extraordinary want of money, and a preposterous deal of promissory notes flying about, for which I was quite unwilling to stake my guineas. The ladies, too, were mad for play; but exceeding unwilling to pay when they lost. Thus, when the old Countess of Trumpington lost ten pieces to me at quadrille, she gave me, instead of the money, her Ladyship's note of hand on her agent in Galway; which I put, with a great deal of politeness, into the candle. But when the Countess made me a second proposition to play, I said that as soon as her Ladyship's remittances were arrived, I would be the readiest person to meet her; but till then was her very humble servant. And I maintained this resolution and singular character throughout the Dublin society: giving out at 'Daly's' that I was ready to play any man, for any sum, at any game; or to fence with him, or to ride with him (regard being had to our weight), or to shoot flying, or at a mark; and in this latter accomplishment, especially if the mark be a live one, Irish gentlemen of that day had no ordinary skill.
Of course I despatched a courier in my liveries to Castle Lyndon with a private letter for Runt, demanding from him full particulars of the Countess of Lyndon's state of health and mind; and a touching and eloquent letter to her Ladyship, in which I bade her remember ancient days, which I tied up with a single hair from the lock which I had purchased from her woman, and in which I told her that Sylvander remembered his oath, and could never forget his Calista. The answer I received from her was exceedingly unsatisfactory and inexplicit; that from Mr. Runt explicit enough, but not at all pleasant in its contents. My Lord George Poynings, the Marquess of Tiptoft's younger son, was paying very marked addresses to the widow; being a kinsman of the family, and having been called to Ireland relative to the will of the deceased Sir Charles Lyndon.
Now, there was a sort of rough-and-ready law in Ireland in those days, which was of great convenience to persons desirous of expeditious justice; and of which the newspapers of the time contain a hundred proofs. Fellows with the nicknames of Captain Fireball, Lieutenant Buffcoat, and Ensign Steele, were repeatedly sending warning letters to landlords, and murdering them if the notes were unattended to. The celebrated Captain Thunder ruled in the southern counties, and his business seemed to be to procure wives for gentlemen who had not sufficient means to please the parents of the young ladies; or, perhaps, had not time for a long and intricate courtship.
I had found my cousin Ulick at Dublin, grown very fat, and very poor; hunted up by Jews and creditors: dwelling in all sorts of queer corners, from which he issued at nightfall to the Castle, or to his card-party at his tavern; but he was always the courageous fellow: and I hinted to him the state of my affections regarding Lady Lyndon.
'The Countess of Lyndon!' said poor Ulick; 'well, that IS a wonder. I myself have been mightily sweet upon a young lady, one of the Kiljoys of Ballyhack, who has ten thousand pounds to her fortune, and to whom her Ladyship is guardian; but how is a poor fellow without a coat to his back to get on with an heiress in such company as that? I might as well propose for the Countess myself.'
'You had better not,' said I, laughing; 'the man who tries runs a chance of going out of the world first.' And I explained to him my own intention regarding Lady Lyndon. Honest Ulick, whose respect for me was prodigious when he saw how splendid my appearance was, and heard how wonderful my adventures and great my experience of fashionable life had been, was lost in admiration of my daring and energy, when I confided to him my intention of marrying the greatest heiress in England.
I bade Ulick go out of town on any pretext he chose, and put a letter into a post-office near Castle Lyndon, which I prepared in a feigned hand, and in which I gave a solemn warning to Lord George Poynings to quit the country; saying that the great prize was never meant for the likes of him, and that there were heiresses enough in England, without coming to rob them out of the domains of Captain Fireball. The letter was written on a dirty piece of paper, in the worst of spelling: it came to my Lord by the postconveyance, and, being a high-spirited young man, he of course laughed at it.
As ill-luck would have it for him, he appeared in Dublin a very short time afterwards; was introduced to the Chevalier Redmond Barry, at the Lord Lieutenant's table; adjourned with him and several other gentlemen to the club at 'Daly's,' and there, in a dispute about the pedigree of a horse, in which everybody said I was in the right, words arose, and a meeting was the consequence. I had had no affair in Dublin since my arrival, and people were anxious to see whether I was equal to my reputation. I make no boast about these matters, but always do them when the time comes; and poor Lord George, who had a neat hand and a quick eye enough, but was bred in the clumsy English school, only stood before my point until I had determined where I should hit him.
My sword went in under his guard, and came out at his back. When he fell, he goodnaturedly extended his hand to me, and said, 'Mr. Barry, I was wrong!' I felt not very well at ease when the poor fellow made this confession: for the dispute had been of my making, and, to tell the truth, I had never intended it should end in any other way than a meeting.
He lay on his bed for four months with the effects of that wound; and the same post which conveyed to Lady Lyndon the news of the duel, carried her a message from Captain Fireball to say, 'This is NUMBER ONE!''You, Ulick,' said I,' shall be NUMBER TWO.' ''Faith,' said my cousin,' one's enough:' But I had my plan regarding him, and determined at once to benefit this honest fellow, and to forward my own designs upon the widow.