Barry Lyndon HTML version

Chapter 5
Barry Far From Military Glory
After the death of my protector, Captain Fagan, I am forced to confess that I fell into the
very worst of courses and company. Being a rough soldier of fortune himself, he had
never been a favourite with the officers of his regiment; who had a contempt for
Irishmen, as Englishmen sometimes will have, and used to mock his brogue, and his
blunt uncouth manners. I had been insolent to one or two of them, and had only been
screened from punishment by his intercession; especially his successor, Mr. Rawson, had
no liking for me, and put another man into the sergeant's place vacant in his company
after the battle of Minden. This act of injustice rendered my service very disagreeable to
me; and, instead of seeking to conquer the dislike of my superiors, and win their goodwill
by good behaviour, I only sought for means to make my situation easier to me, and
grasped at all the amusements in my power. In a foreign country, with the enemy before
us, and the people continually under contribution from one side or the other, numberless
irregularities were permitted to the troops which would not have been allowed in more
peaceable times. I descended gradually to mix with the sergeants, and to share their
amusements: drinking and gambling were, I am sorry to say, our principal pastimes; and I
fell so readily into their ways, that though only a young lad of seventeen, I was the master
of them all in daring wickedness; though there were some among them who, I promise
you, were far advanced in the science of every kind of profligacy. I should have been
under the provost- marshal's hands, for a dead certainty, had I continued much longer in
the army: but an accident occurred which took me out of the English service in rather a
singular manner.
The year in which George II died, our regiment had the honour to be present at the battle
of Warburg (where the Marquis of Granby and his horse fully retrieved the discredit
which had fallen upon the cavalry since Lord George Sackville's defalcation at Minden),
and where Prince Ferdinand once more completely defeated the Frenchmen. During the
action, my lieutenant, Mr. Fakenham, of Fakenham, the gentleman who had threatened
me, it may be remembered, with the caning, was struck by a musket-ball in the side. He
had shown no want of courage in this or any other occasion where he had been called
upon to act against the French; but this was his first wound, and the young gentleman was
exceedingly frightened by it. He offered five guineas to be carried into the town, which
was hard by; and I and another man, taking him up in a cloak, managed to transport him
into a place of decent appearance, where we put him to bed, and where a young surgeon
(who desired nothing better than to take himself out of the fire of the musketry) went
presently to dress his wound.
In order to get into the house, we had been obliged, it must be confessed, to fire into the
locks with our pieces; which summons brought an inhabitant of the house to the door, a
very pretty and black-eyed young woman, who lived there with her old half-blind father,
a retired Jagdmeister of the Duke of Cassel, hard by. When the French were in the town,
Meinherr's house had suffered like those of his neighbours; and he was at first