Barry Lyndon HTML version

Chapter 8
Barry's Adieu To Military Profession
You who have never been out of your country, know little what it is to hear a friendly
voice in captivity; and there's many a man that will not understand the cause of the burst
of feeling which I have confessed took place on my seeing my uncle. He never for a
minute thought to question the truth of what I said. 'Mother of God!' cried he, 'it's my
brother Harry's son.' And I think in my heart he was as much affected as I was at thus
suddenly finding one of his kindred; for he, too, was an exile from home, and a friendly
voice, a look, brought the old country back to his memory again, and the old days of his
boyhood. 'I'd give five years of my life to see them again,' said he, after caressing me
very warmly. 'What?' asked I. 'Why,' replied he, 'the green fields, and the river, and the
old round tower, and the burying-place at Ballybarry. 'Twas a shame for your father to
part with the land, Redmond, that went so long with the name.'
He then began to ask me concerning myself, and I gave him my history at some length; at
which the worthy gentleman laughed many times, saying, that I was a Barry all over. In
the middle of my story he would stop me, to make me stand back to back, and measure
with him (by which I ascertained that our heights were the same, and that my uncle had a
stiff knee, moreover, which made him walk in a peculiar way), and uttered, during the
course of the narrative, a hundred exclamations of pity, and kindness, and sympathy. It
was 'Holy Saints!' and 'Mother of Heaven!' and 'Blessed Mary!' continually; by which,
and with justice, I concluded that he was still devotedly attached to the ancient faith of
our family.
It was with some difficulty that I came to explain to him the last part of my history, viz.,
that I was put into his service as a watch upon his actions, of which I was to give
information in a certain quarter. When I told him (with a great deal of hesitation) of this
fact, he burst out laughing, and enjoyed the joke amazingly. 'The rascals!' said he; 'they
think to catch me, do they? Why, Redmond, my chief conspiracy is a faro-bank. But the
King is so jealous, that he will see a spy in every person who comes to his miserable
capital in the great sandy desert here. Ah, my boy, I must show you Paris and Vienna!'
I said there was nothing I longed for more than to see any city but Berlin, and should be
delighted to be free of the odious military service. Indeed, I thought, from his splendour
of appearance, the knickknacks about the room, the gilded carriage in the remise, that my
uncle was a man of vast property; and that he would purchase a dozen, nay, a whole
regiment of substitutes, in order to restore me to freedom.
But I was mistaken in my calculations regarding him, as his history of himself speedily
showed me. 'I have been beaten about the world,' said he, 'ever since the year 1742, when
my brother your father (and Heaven forgive him) cut my family estate from under my
heels, by turning heretic, in order to marry that scold of a mother of yours. Well, let
bygones be bygones. 'Tis probable that I should have run through the little property as he