Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray - HTML preview
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William Makepeace Thackeray
A Bibliographical Note ..................................................................................................... 3
Chapter 1 ........................................................................................................................... 6
Chapter 2 ......................................................................................................................... 26
Chapter 3 ......................................................................................................................... 38
Chapter 4 ......................................................................................................................... 48
Chapter 5 ......................................................................................................................... 55
Chapter 6 ......................................................................................................................... 66
Chapter 7 ......................................................................................................................... 78
Chapter 8 ......................................................................................................................... 86
Chapter 9 ......................................................................................................................... 92
Chapter 10 ..................................................................................................................... 101
Chapter 11 ..................................................................................................................... 113
Chapter 12 ..................................................................................................................... 119
Chapter 13 ..................................................................................................................... 133
Chapter 14 ..................................................................................................................... 144
Chapter 15 ..................................................................................................................... 152
Chapter 16 ..................................................................................................................... 163
Chapter 17 ..................................................................................................................... 174
Chapter 18 ..................................................................................................................... 188
Chapter 19 ..................................................................................................................... 204
A Bibliographical Note
Barry Lyndon--far from the best known, but by some critics acclaimed as the finest, of Thackeray's works--appeared originally as a serial a few years before VANITY FAIR was written; yet it was not published in book form, and then not by itself, until after the publication of VANITY FAIR, PENDENNIS, ESMOND and THE NEWCOMES had placed its author in the forefront of the literary men of the day. So many years after the event we cannot help wondering why the story was not earlier put in book form; for in its delineation of the character of an adventurer it is as great as VANITY FAIR, while for the local colour of history, if I may put it so, it is no undistinguished precursor of ESMOND.
In the number of FRASER'S MAGAZINE for January 1844 appeared the first instalment of 'THE LUCK OF BARRY LYNDON, ESQ., A ROMANCE OF THE LAST CENTURY, by FitzBoodle,' and the story continued to appear month by month--with the exception of October--up to the end of the year, when the concluding portion was signed 'G. S. FitzBoodle.' FITZBOODLE'S CONFESSIONS, it should be added, had appeared occasionally in the magazine during the years immediately precedent, so that the pseudonym was familiar to FRASER'S readers. The story was written, according to its author's own words, 'with a great deal of dulness, unwillingness and labour,' and was evidently done as the instalments were required, for in August he wrote 'read for "B. L." all the morning at the club,' and four days later of '"B. L." lying like a nightmare on my mind.' The journey to the East--which was to give us in literary results NOTES OF A JOURNEY FROM CORNHILL TO GRAND CAIRO--was begun with BARRY LYNDON yet unfinished, for at Malta the author noted on the first three days of November--'Wrote Barry but slowly and with great difficulty.' 'Wrote Barry with no more success than yesterday.' 'Finished Barry after great throes late at night.' In the number of Fraser's for the following month, as I have said, the conclusion appeared. A dozen years later, in 1856, the story formed the first part of the third volume of Thackeray's MISCELLANIES, when it was called MEMOIRS OF BARRY LYNDON, ESQ., WRITTEN BY HIMSELF. Since then, it has nearly always been issued with other matter, as though it were not strong enough to stand alone, or as though the importance of a work was mainly to be gauged by the number of pages to be crowded into one cover. The scheme of the present edition fortunately allows fitting honour to be done to the memoirs of the great adventurer.
To come from the story as a whole to the personality of the eponymous hero. Three widely-differing historical individuals are suggested as having contributed to the composite portrait. Best known of these was that very prince among adventurers, G. J. Casanova de Seingalt, a man who in the latter half of the eighteenth century played the part of adventurer--and generally that of the successful adventurer--in most of the European capitals; who within the first five-and-twenty years of his life had been 'abbe, secretary to Cardinal Aquaviva, ensign, and violinist, at Rome, Constantinople, Corfu, and his own birthplace (Venice), where he cured a senator of apoplexy.' His autobiography, MEMOIRES ECRIT PAR LUI MEME (in twelve volumes), has been described as 'unmatched as a self-revelation of scoundrelism.' It has also been suggested, with I think far less colour of probability, that the original of Barry was the diplomatist and satiric poet Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, whom Dr Johnson described as 'our lively and elegant though too licentious lyrick bard.' The third original, and one who, there cannot be the slightest doubt, contributed features to the great portrait, is a certain Andrew Robinson Stoney, afterwards Stoney- Bowes.
The original of the Countess Lyndon was Mary Eleanor Bowes, Dowager Countess of Strathmore, and heiress of a very wealthy Durham family. This lady had many suitors, but in 1777 Stoney, a bankrupt lieutenant on half pay, who had fought a duel on her behalf, induced her to marry him, and subsequently hyphenated her name with his own. He became member of Parliament, and ran such extravagant courses as does Barry Lyndon, treated his wife with similar barbarity, abducted her when she had escaped from him, and then, after being divorced, found his way to a debtors' prison. There are similarities here which no seeker after originals can overlook. Mrs Ritchie says that her father had a friend at Paris, 'a Mr Bowes, who may have first told him this history of which the details are almost incredible, as quoted from the papers of the time.' The name of Thackeray's friend is a curious coincidence, unless, as may well have been the case, he was a connection of the family into which the notorious adventurer had married. It is not unlikely that Thackeray had seen the work published in 1810--the year of StoneyBowes's death--in which the whole unhappy romance was set forth. This was 'THE LIVES OF ANDREW ROBINSON BOWES ESQ., and THE COUNTESS OF STRATHMORE. Written from thirty-three years' Professional Attendance, from letters and other well authenticated Documents by Jesse Foot, Surgeon.' In this book we find several incidents similar to ones in the story. Bowes cut down all the timber on his wife's estate, but 'the neighbours would not buy it.' Such practical jokes as Barry Lyndon played upon his son's tutor were played by Bowes on his chaplain. The story of Stoney and his marriage will be found briefly given in the notice of the Countess's life in the DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY.
Whence that part of the romantic interlude dealing with the stay in the Duchy of X----, dealt with in chapter x., etc., was inspired, Thackeray's own note\books (as quoted by Mrs Ritchie) conclusively show: 'January 4,1844. Read in a silly book called L'EMPIRE, a good story about the first K. of Wurtemberg's wife; killed by her husband for adultery. Frederic William, born in 1734 (?), m. in 1780 the Princess Caroline of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel, who died the 27th September 1788. For the rest of the story see L'EMPIRE, OU DIX ANS SOUS NAPOLEON, PAR UN CHAMBELLAN: Paris, Allardin, 1836; vol. i. 220.' The 'Captain Freny' to whom Barry owed his adventures on his journey to Dublin (chapter iii.) was a notorious highwayman, on whose doings Thackeray had enlarged in the fifteenth chapter of his IRISH SKETCH BOOK. Despite the slowness with which it was written, and the seeming neglect with which it was permitted to remain unreprinted, BARRY LYNDON was to be hailed by competent critics as one of Thackeray's finest performances, though the author himself seems to have had no strong regard for the story. His daughter has recorded, 'My father once said to me when I was a girl: "You needn't read BARRY LYNDON, you won't like it." Indeed, it is scarcely a book to LIKE, but one to admire and to wonder at for its consummate power and mastery.' Another novelist, Anthony Trollope, has said of it: 'In imagination, language, construction, and general literary capacity, Thackeray never did anything more remarkable than BARRY LYNDON.' Mr Leslie Stephen says: 'All later critics have recognised in this book one of his most powerful performances. In directness and vigour he never surpassed it.'W.J.
Chapter 1My Pedigree And Family--Undergo The Influence Of The Tender Passion
Since the days of Adam, there has been hardly a mischief done in this world but a woman has been at the bottom of it. Ever since ours was a family (and that must be very NEAR Adam's time,--so old, noble, and illustrious are the Barrys, as everybody knows) women have played a mighty part with the destinies of our race.
I presume that there is no gentleman in Europe that has not heard of the house of Barry of Barryogue, of the kingdom of Ireland, than which a more famous name is not to be found in Gwillim or D'Hozier; and though, as a man of the world, I have learned to despise heartily the claims of some PRETENDERS to high birth who have no more genealogy than the lacquey who cleans my boots, and though I laugh to utter scorn the boasting of many of my countrymen, who are all for descending from kings of Ireland, and talk of a domain no bigger than would feed a pig as if it were a principality; yet truth compels me to assert that my family was the noblest of the island, and, perhaps, of the universal world; while their possessions, now insignificant and torn from us by war, by treachery, by the loss of time, by ancestral extravagance, by adhesion to the old faith and monarch, were formerly prodigious, and embraced many counties, at a time when Ireland was vastly more prosperous than now. I would assume the Irish crown over my coat-of-arms, but that there are so many silly pretenders to that distinction who bear it and render it common.
Who knows, but for the fault of a woman, I might have been wearing it now? You start with incredulity. I say, why not? Had there been a gallant chief to lead my countrymen, instead or puling knaves who bent the knee to King Richard II., they might have been freemen; had there been a resolute leader to meet the murderous ruffian Oliver Cromwell, we should have shaken off the English for ever. But there was no Barry in the field against the usurper; on the contrary, my ancestor, Simon de Bary, came over with the first-named monarch, and married the daughter of the then King of Munster, whose sons in battle he pitilessly slew.
In Oliver's time it was too late for a chief of the name of Barry to lift up his war-cry against that of the murderous brewer. We were princes of the land no longer; our unhappy race had lost its possessions a century previously, and by the most shameful treason. This I know to be the fact, for my mother has often told me the story, and besides had worked it in a worsted pedigree which hung up in the yellow saloon at Barryville where we lived.
That very estate which the Lyndons now possess in Ireland was once the property of my race. Rory Barry of Barryogue owned it in Elizabeth's time, and half Munster beside. The Barry was always in feud with the O'Mahonys in those times; and, as it happened, a certain English colonel passed through the former's country with a body of men-at-arms, on the very day when the O'Mahonys had made an inroad upon our territories, and carried off a frightful plunder of our flocks and herds.
This young Englishman, whose name was Roger Lyndon, Linden, or Lyndaine, having been most hospitably received by the Barry, and finding him just on the point of carrying an inroad into the O'Mahonys' land, offered the aid of himself and his lances, and behaved himself so well, as it appeared, that the O'Mahonys were entirely overcome, all the Barrys' property restored, and with it, says the old chronicle, twice as much of the O'Mahonys' goods and cattle.
It was the setting in of the winter season, and the young soldier was pressed by the Barry not to quit his house of Barryogue, and remained there during several months, his men being quartered with Barry's own gallowglasses, man by man in the cottages round about. They conducted themselves, as is their wont, with the most intolerable insolence towards the Irish; so much so, that fights and murders continually ensued, and the people vowed to destroy them.
The Barry's son (from whom I descend) was as hostile to the English as any other man on his domain; and, as they would not go when bidden, he and his friends consulted together and determined on destroying these English to a man.
But they had let a woman into their plot, and this was the Barry's daughter. She was in love with the English Lyndon, and broke the whole secret to him; and the dastardly English prevented the just massacre of themselves by falling on the Irish, and destroying Phaudrig Barry, my ancestor, and many hundreds of his men. The cross at Barrycross near Carrignadihioul is the spot where the odious butchery took place.
Lyndon married the daughter of Roderick Barry, and claimed the estate which he left: and though the descendants of Phaudrig were alive, as indeed they are in my person,[Footnote: As we have never been able to find proofs of the marriage of my ancestor Phaudrig with his wife, I make no doubt that Lyndon destroyed the contract, and murdered the priest and witnesses of the marriage.--B. L.] on appealing to the English courts, the estate was awarded to the Englishman, as has ever been the case where English and Irish were concerned.
Thus, had it not been for the weakness of a woman, I should have been born to the possession of those very estates which afterwards came to me by merit, as you shall hear. But to proceed with my family, history.
My father was well known to the best circles in this kingdom, as in that of Ireland, under the name of Roaring Harry Barry. He was bred like many other young sons of genteel families to the profession of the law, being articled to a celebrated attorney of Sackville Street in the city of Dublin; and, from his great genius and aptitude for learning, there is no doubt he would have made an eminent figure in his profession, had not his social qualities, love of field-sports, and extraordinary graces of manner, marked him out for a higher sphere. While he was attorney's clerk he kept seven race-horses, and hunted regularly both with the Kildare and Wicklow hunts; and rode on his grey horse Endymion that famous match against Captain Punter, which is still remembered by lovers of the sport, and of which I caused a splendid picture to be made and hung over my dining-hall mantelpiece at Castle Lyndon. A year afterwards he had the honour of riding that very horse Endymion before his late Majesty King George II. at New-market, and won the plate there and the attention of the august sovereign.
Although he was only the second son of our family, my dear father came naturally into the estate (now miserably reduced to L400 a year); for my grandfather's eldest son Cornelius Barry (called the Chevalier Borgne, from a wound which he received in Germany) remained constant to the old religion in which our family was educated, and not only served abroad with credit, but against His Most Sacred Majesty George II. in the unhappy Scotch disturbances in '45. We shall hear more of the Chevalier hereafter.
For the conversion of my father I have to thank my dear mother, Miss Bell Brady, daughter of Ulysses Brady of Castle Brady, county Kerry, Esquire and J.P. She was the most beautiful woman of her day in Dublin, and universally called the Dasher there. Seeing her at the assembly, my father became passionately attached to her; but her soul was above marrying a Papist or an attorney's clerk; and so, for the love of her, the good old laws being then in force, my dear father slipped into my uncle Cornelius's shoes and took the family estate. Besides the force of my mother's bright eyes, several persons, and of the genteelest society too, contributed to this happy change; and I have often heard my mother laughingly tell the story of my father's recantation, which was solemnly pronounced at the tavern in the company of Sir Dick Ringwood, Lord Bagwig, Captain Punter, and two or three other young sparks of the town. Roaring Harry won 300 pieces that very night at faro, and laid the necessary information the next morning against his brother; but his conversion caused a coolness between him and my uncle Corney, who joined the rebels in consequence.
This great difficulty being settled, my Lord Bagwig lent my father his own yacht, then lying at the Pigeon House, and the handsome Bell Brady was induced to run away with him to England, although her parents were against the match, and her lovers (as I have heard her tell many thousands of times) were among the most numerous and the most wealthy in all the kingdom of Ireland. They were married at the Savoy, and my grandfather dying very soon, Harry Barry, Esquire, took possession of his paternal property and supported our illustrious name with credit in London. He pinked the famous Count Tiercelin behind Montague House, he was a member of 'White's,' and a frequenter of all the chocolate-houses; and my mother, likewise, made no small figure. At length, after his great day of triumph before His Sacred Majesty at Newmarket, Harry's fortune was just on the point of being made, for the gracious monarch promised to provide for him. But alas! he was taken in charge by another monarch, whose will have no delay or denial,--by Death, namely, who seized upon my father at Chester races, leaving me a helpless orphan. Peace be to his ashes! He was not faultless, and dissipated all our princely family property; but he was as brave a fellow as ever tossed a bumper or called a main, and he drove his coach-and- six like a man of fashion.
I do not know whether His gracious Majesty was much affected by this sudden demise of my father, though my mother says he shed some royal tears on the occasion. But they helped us to nothing: and all that was found in the house for the wife and creditors was a purse of ninety guineas, which my dear mother naturally took, with the family plate, and my father's wardrobe and her own; and putting them into our great coach, drove off to Holyhead, whence she took shipping for Ireland. My father's body accompanied us in the finest hearse and plumes money could buy; for though the husband and wife had quarrelled repeatedly in life, yet at my father's death his high- spirited widow forgot all her differences, gave him the grandest funeral that had been seen for many a day, and erected a monument over his remains (for which I subsequently paid), which declared him to be the wisest, purest, and most affectionate of men.
In performing these sad duties over her deceased lord, the widow spent almost every guinea she had, and, indeed, would have spent a great deal more, had she discharged onethird of the demands which the ceremonies occasioned. But the people around our old house of Barryogue, although they did not like my father for his change of faith, yet stood by him at this moment, and were for exterminating the mutes sent by Mr. Plumer of London with the lamented remains. The monument and vault in the church were then, alas! all that remained of my vast possessions; for my father had sold every stick of the property to one Notley, an attorney, and we received but a cold welcome in his house--a miserable old tumble-down place it was. [Footnote: In another part of his memoir Mr. Barry will be found to describe this mansion as one of the most splendid palaces in Europe; but this is a practice not unusual with his nation; and with respect to the Irish principality claimed by him, it is known that Mr. Barry's grandfather was an attorney and maker of his own fortune.]
The splendour of the funeral did not fail to increase the widow Barry's reputation as a woman of spirit and fashion; and when she wrote to her brother Michael Brady, that worthy gentleman immediately rode across the country to fling himself in her arms, and to invite her in his wife's name to Castle Brady.
Mick and Barry had quarrelled, as all men will, and very high words had passed between them during Barry's courtship of Miss Bell. When he took her off, Brady swore he would never forgive Barry or Bell; but coming to London in the year '46, he fell in once more with Roaring Harry, and lived in his fine house in Clarges Street, and lost a few pieces to him at play, and broke a watchman's head or two in his company,--all of which reminiscences endeared Bell and her son very much to the good-hearted gentleman, and he received us both with open arms. Mrs. Barry did not, perhaps wisely, at first make known to her friends what was her condition; but arriving in a huge gilt coach with enormous armorial bearings, was taken by her sister- in-law and the rest of the county for a person of considerable property and distinction. For a time, then, and as was right and proper, Mrs. Barry gave the law at Castle Brady. She ordered the servants to and fro, and taught them, what indeed they much wanted, a little London neatness; and 'English Redmond,' as I was called, was treated like a little lord, and had a maid and a footman to himself; and honest Mick paid their wages,--which was much more than he was used to do for his own domestics,--doing all in his power to make his sister decently comfortable under her afflictions. Mamma, in return, determined that, when her affairs were arranged, she would make her kind brother a handsome allowance for her son's maintenance and her own; and promised to have her handsome furniture brought over from Clarges Street to adorn the somewhat dilapidated rooms of Castle Brady.
But it turned out that the rascally landlord seized upon every chair and table that ought by rights to have belonged to the widow. The estate to which I was heir was in the hands of rapacious creditors; and the only means of subsistence remaining to the widow and child was a rent-charge of L50 upon my Lord Bagwig's property, who had many turf-dealings with the deceased. And so my dear mother's liberal intentions towards her brother were of course never fulfilled.
It must be confessed, very much to the discredit of Mrs. Brady of Castle Brady, that when her sister-in-law's poverty was thus made manifest, she forgot all the respect which she had been accustomed to pay her, instantly turned my maid and man-servant out of doors, and told Mrs. Barry that she might follow them as soon as she chose. Mrs. Mick was of a low family, and a sordid way of thinking; and after about a couple of years (during which she had saved almost all her little income) the widow complied with Madam Brady's desire. At the same time, giving way to a just though prudently dissimulated resentment, she made a vow that she would never enter the gates of Castle Brady while the lady of the house remained alive within them.
She fitted up her new abode with much economy and considerable taste, and never, for all her poverty, abated a jot of the dignity which was her due and which all the neighbourhood awarded to her. How, indeed, could they refuse respect to a lady who had lived in London, frequented the most fashionable society there, and had been presented (as she solemnly declared) at Court? These advantages gave her a right which seems to be pretty unsparingly exercised in Ireland by those natives who have it,--the right of looking down with scorn upon all persons who have not had the opportunity of quitting the mother-country and inhabiting England for a while. Thus, whenever Madam Brady appeared abroad in a new dress, her sister-in-law would say, 'Poor creature! how can it be expected that she should know anything of the fashion?' And though pleased to be called the handsome widow, as she was, Mrs. Barry was still better pleased to be called the English widow.
Mrs. Brady, for her part, was not slow to reply: she used to say that the defunct Barry was a bankrupt and a beggar; and as for the fashionable society which he saw, he saw it from my Lord Bagwig's side-table, whose flatterer and hanger-on he was known to be. Regarding Mrs. Barry, the lady of Castle Brady would make insinuations still more painful. However, why should we allude to these charges, or rake up private scandal of a hundred years old? It was in the reign of George II that the above-named personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now; and do not the Sunday papers and the courts of law supply us every week with more novel and interesting slander?
At any rate, it must be allowed that Mrs. Barry, after her husband's death and her retirement, lived in such a way as to defy slander. For whereas Bell Brady had been the gayest girl in the whole county of Wexford, with half the bachelors at her feet, and plenty of smiles and encouragement for every one of them, Bell Barry adopted a dignified reserve that almost amounted to pomposity, and was as starch as any Quakeress. Many a man renewed his offers to the widow, who had been smitten by the charms of the spinster; but Mrs. Barry refused all offers of marriage, declaring that she lived now for her son only, and for the memory of her departed saint.
'Harry Barry was as big a sinner as ever was known; and 'tis notorious that he and Bell hated each other. If she won't marry now, depend on it, the artful woman has a husband in her eye for all that, and only waits until Lord Bagwig is a widower.'
And suppose she did, what then? Was not the widow of a Barry fit to marry with any lord of England? and was it not always said that a woman was to restore the fortunes of the Barry family? If my mother fancied that SHE was to be that woman, I think it was a perfectly justifiable notion on her part; for the Earl (my godfather) was always most attentive to her: I never knew how deeply this notion of advancing my interests in the world had taken possession of mamma's mind, until his Lordship's marriage in the year '57 with Miss Goldmore, the Indian nabob's rich daughter.
Meanwhile we continued to reside at Barryville, and, considering the smallness of our income, kept up a wonderful state. Of the half- dozen families that formed the congregation at Brady's Town, there was not a single person whose appearance was so respectable as that of the widow, who, though she always dressed in mourning, in memory of her deceased husband, took care that her garments should be made so as to set off her handsome person to the greatest advantage; and, indeed, I think, spent six hours out of every day in the week in cutting, trimming, and altering them to the fashion. She had the largest of hoops and the handsomest of furbelows, and once a month (under my Lord Bagwig's cover) would come a letter from London containing the newest accounts of the fashions there. Her complexion was so brilliant that she had no call to use rouge, as was the mode in those days. No, she left red and white, she said (and hence the reader may imagine how the two ladies hated each other) to Madam Brady, whose yellow complexion no plaster could alter. In a word, she was so accomplished a beauty, that all the women in the country took pattern by her, and the young fellows from ten miles round would ride over to Castle Brady church to have the sight of her.
But if (like every other woman that ever I saw or read of) she was proud of her beauty, to do her justice she was still more proud of her son, and has said a thousand times to me that I was the handsomest young fellow in the world. This is a matter of taste. A man of sixty may, however, say what he was at fourteen without much vanity, and I must say I think there was some cause for my mother's opinion. The good soul's pleasure was to dress me; and on Sundays and holidays I turned out in a velvet coat with a silver-hilted sword by my side and a gold garter at my knee, as fine as any lord in the land. My mother worked me several most splendid waistcoats, and I had plenty of lace for my ruffles, and a fresh riband to my hair, and as we walked to church on Sundays, even envious Mrs. Brady was found to allow that there was not a prettier pair in the kingdom.
Of course, too, the lady of Castle Brady used to sneer, because on these occasions a certain Tim, who used to be called my valet, followed me and my mother to church, carrying a huge prayer-book and a cane, and dressed in the livery of one of our own fine footmen from Clarges Street, which, as Tim was a bandy-shanked little fellow, did not exactly become him. But, though poor, we were gentlefolks, and not to be sneered out of these becoming appendages to our rank; and so would march up the aisle to our pew with as much state and gravity as the Lord Lieutenant's lady and son might do. When there, my mother would give the responses and amens in a loud dignified voice that was delightful to hear, and, besides, had a fine loud voice for singing, which art she had perfected in London under a fashionable teacher; and she would exercise her talent in such a way that you would hardly hear any other voice of the little congregation which chose to join in the psalm. In fact, my mother had great gifts in every way, and believed herself to be one of the most beautiful, accomplished, and meritorious persons in the world. Often and often has she talked to me and the neighbours regarding her own humility and piety, pointing them out in such a way that I would defy the most obstinate to disbelieve her.
When we left Castle Brady we came to occupy a house in Brady's town, which mamma christened Barryville. I confess it was but a small place, but, indeed, we made the most of it. I have mentioned the family pedigree which hung up in the drawingroom, which mamma called the yellow saloon, and my bedroom was called the pink bedroom, and hers the orange tawny apartment (how well I remember them all!); and at dinner-time Tim regularly rang a great bell, and we each had a silver tankard to drink from, and mother boasted with justice that I had as good a bottle of claret by my side as any squire of the land. So indeed I had, but I was not, of course, allowed at my tender years to drink any of the wine; which thus attained a considerable age, even in the decanter.
Uncle Brady (in spite of the family quarrel) found out the above fact one day by calling at Barryville at dinner-time, and unluckily tasting the liquor. You should have seen how he sputtered and made faces! But the honest gentleman was not particular about his wine, or the company in which he drank it. He would get drunk, indeed, with the parson or the priest indifferently; with the latter, much to my mother's indignation, for, as a true blue Nassauite, she heartily despised all those of the old faith, and would scarcely sit down in the room with a benighted Papist. But the squire had no such scruples; he was, indeed, one of the easiest, idlest, and best- natured fellows that ever lived, and many an hour would he pass with the lonely widow when he was tired of Madam Brady at home. He liked me, he said, as much as one of his own sons, and at length, after the widow had held out for a couple of years, she agreed to allow me to return to the castle; though, for herself, she resolutely kept the oath which she had made with regard to her sister-in-law.
The very first day I returned to Castle Brady my trials may be said, in a manner, to have begun. My cousin, Master Mick, a huge monster of nineteen (who hated me, and I promise you I returned the compliment), insulted me at dinner about my mother's poverty, and made all the girls of the family titter. So when we went to the stables, whither Mick always went for his pipe of tobacco after dinner, I told him a piece of my mind, and there was a fight for at least ten minutes, during which I stood to him like a man, and blacked his left eye, though I was myself only twelve years old at the time. Of course he beat me, but a beating makes only a small impression on a lad of that tender age, as I had proved many times in battles with the ragged Brady's Town boys before, not one of whom, at my time of life, was my match. My uncle was very much pleased when he heard of my gallantry; my cousin Nora brought brown paper and vinegar for my nose, and I went home that night with a pint of claret under my girdle, not a little proud, let me tell you, at having held my own against Mick so long.
And though he persisted in his bad treatment of me, and used to cane me whenever I fell in his way, yet I was very happy now at Castle Brady with the company there, and my cousins, or some of them, and the kindness of my uncle, with whom I became a prodigious favourite. He bought a colt for me, and taught me to ride. He took me out coursing and fowling, and instructed me to shoot flying. And at length I was released from Mick's persecution, for his brother, Master Ulick, returning from Trinity College, and hating his elder brother, as is mostly the way in families of fashion, took me under his protection; and from that time, as Ulick was a deal bigger and stronger than Mick, I, English Redmond, as I was called, was left alone; except when the former thought fit to thrash me, which he did whenever he thought proper.
Nor was my learning neglected in the ornamental parts, for I had an uncommon natural genius for many things, and soon topped in accomplishments most of the persons around me. I had a quick ear and a fine voice, which my mother cultivated to the best of her power, and she taught me to step a minuet gravely and gracefully, and thus laid the foundation of my future success in life. The common dances I learned (as, perhaps, I ought not to confess) in the servants' hall, which, you may be sure, was never without a piper, and where I was considered unrivalled both at a hornpipe and a jig.
In the matter of book-learning, I had always an uncommon taste for reading plays and novels, as the best part of a gentleman's polite education, and never let a pedlar pass the village, if I had a penny, without having a ballad or two from him. As for your dull grammar, and Greek and Latin and stuff, I have always hated them from my youth upwards, and said, very unmistakably, I would have none of them.
This I proved pretty clearly at the age of thirteen, when my aunt Biddy Brady's legacy of L100 came in to mamma, who thought to employ the sum on my education, and sent me to Doctor Tobias Tickler's famous academy at Ballywhacket--Backwhacket, as my uncle used to call it. But six weeks after I had been consigned to his reverence, I suddenly made my appearance again at Castle Brady, having walked forty miles from the odious place, and left the Doctor in a state near upon apoplexy. The fact was, that at taw, prison-bars, or boxing, I was at the head of the school, but could not be brought to excel in the classics; and after having been flogged seven times, without its doing me the least good in my Latin, I refused to submit altogether (finding it useless) to an eighth application of the rod. 'Try some other way, sir,' said I, when he was for horsing me once more; but he wouldn't; whereon, and to defend myself, I flung a slate at him, and knocked down a Scotch usher with a leaden inkstand. All the lads huzza'd at this, and some or the servants wanted to stop me; but taking out a large clasp-knife that my cousin Nora had given me, I swore I would plunge it into the waistcoat of the first man who dared to balk me, and faith they let me pass on. I slept that night twenty miles off Ballywhacket, at the house of a cottier, who gave me potatoes and milk, and to whom I gave a hundred guineas after, when I came to visit Ireland in my days of greatness. I wish I had the money now. But what's the use of regret? I have had many a harder bed than that I shall sleep on to-night, and many a scantier meal than honest Phil Murphy gave me on the evening I ran away from school. So six weeks' was all the schooling I ever got. And I say this to let parents know the value of it; for though I have met more learned book-worms in the world, especially a great hulking, clumsy, blear-eyed old doctor, whom they called Johnson, and who lived in a court off Fleet Street, in London, yet I pretty soon silenced him in an argument (at 'Button's Coffeehouse'); and in that, and in poetry, and what I call natural philosophy, or the science of life, and in riding, music, leaping, the small-sword, the knowledge of a horse, or a main of cocks, and the manners of an accomplished gentleman and a man of fashion, I may say for myself that Redmond Barry has seldom found his equal. 'Sir,' said I to Mr. Johnson, on the occasion I allude to--he was accompanied by a Mr. Buswell of Scotland, and I was presented to the club by a Mr. Goldsmith, a countryman of my own--'Sir,' said I, in reply to the schoolmaster's great thundering quotation in Greek, 'you fancy you know a great deal more than me, because you quote your Aristotle and your Pluto; but can you tell me which horse will win at Epsom Downs next week?--Can you run six miles without breathing?--Can you shoot the ace of spades ten times without missing? If so, talk about Aristotle and Pluto to me.''D'ye knaw who ye're speaking to?' roared out the Scotch gentleman, Mr. Boswell, at this. 'Hold your tongue, Mr. Boswell,' said the old schoolmaster. 'I had no right to brag of my Greek to the gentleman, and he has answered me very well.' 'Doctor,' says I, looking waggishly at him, 'do you know ever a rhyme for ArisTOTLE?'
'Port, if you plaise,' says Mr. Goldsmith, laughing. And we had SIX RHYMES FOR ARISTOTLE before we left the coffee-house that evening. It became a regular joke afterwards when I told the story, and at 'White's' or the 'Cocoa-tree' you would hear the wags say, 'Waiter, bring me one of Captain Barry's rhymes for Aristotle.' Once, when I was in liquor at the latter place, young Dick Sheridan called me a great Staggerite, a joke which I could never understand. But I am wandering from my story, and must get back to home, and dear old Ireland again.
I have made acquaintance with the best in the land since, and my manners are such, I have said, as to make me the equal of them all; and, perhaps, you will wonder how a country boy, as I was, educated amongst Irish squires, and their dependants of the stable and farm, should arrive at possessing such elegant manners as I was indisputably allowed to have. I had, the fact is, a very valuable instructor in the person of an old gamekeeper, who had served the French king at Fontenoy, and who taught me the dances and customs, and a smattering of the language of that country, with the use of the sword, both small and broad. Many and many a long mile I have trudged by his side as a lad, he telling me wonderful stories of the French king, and the Irish brigade, and Marshal Saxe, and the opera- dancers; he knew my uncle, too, the Chevalier Borgne, and indeed had a thousand accomplishments which he taught me in secret. I never knew a man like him for making or throwing a fly, for physicking a horse, or breaking, or choosing one; he taught me manly sports, from birds'-nesting upwards, and I always shall consider Phil Purcell as the very best tutor I could have had. His fault was drink, but for that I have always had a blind eye; and he hated my cousin Mick like poison; but I could excuse him that too.
With Phil, and at the age of fifteen, I was a more accomplished man than either of my cousins; and I think Nature had been also more bountiful to me in the matter of person. Some of the Castle Brady girls (as you shall hear presently) adored me. At fairs and races many of the prettiest lasses present said they would like to have me for their bachelor; and yet somehow, it must be confessed, I was not popular.
In the first place, every one knew I was bitter poor; and I think, perhaps, it was my good mother's fault that I was bitter proud too. I had a habit of boasting in company of my birth, and the splendour of my carriages, gardens, cellars, and domestics, and this before people who were perfectly aware of my real circumstances. If it was boys, and they ventured to sneer, I would beat them, or die for it; and many's the time I've been brought home well-nigh killed by one or more of them, on what, when my mother asked me, I would say was 'a family quarrel.' 'Support your name with your blood, Reddy my boy,' would that saint say, with the tears in her eyes; and so would she herself have done with her voice, ay, and her teeth and nails.
Thus, at fifteen, there was scarce a lad of twenty, for half-a-dozen miles round, that I had not beat for one cause or other. There were the vicar's two sons of Castle Brady--in course I could not associate with such beggarly brats as them, and many a battle did we have as to who should take the wall in Brady's Town; there was Pat Lurgan, the blacksmith's son, who had the better of me four times before we came to the crowning fight, when I overcame him; and I could mention a score more of my deeds of prowess in that way, but that fisticuff facts are dull subjects to talk of, and to discuss before highbred gentlemen and ladies.
However, there is another subject, ladies, on which I must discourse, and THAT is never out of place. Day and night you like to hear of it: young and old, you dream and think of it. Handsome and ugly (and, faith, before fifty, I never saw such a thing as a plain woman), it's the subject next to the hearts of all of you; and I think you guess my riddle without more trouble. LOVE! sure the word is formed on purpose out of the prettiest soft vowels and consonants in the language, and he or she who does not care to read about it is not worth a fig, to my thinking.
My uncle's family consisted of ten children; who, as is the custom in such large families, were divided into two camps, or parties; the one siding with their mamma, the other taking the part of my uncle in all the numerous quarrels which arose between that gentleman and his lady. Mrs. Brady's faction was headed by Mick, the eldest son, who hated me so, and disliked his father for keeping him out of his property: while Ulick, the second brother, was his father's own boy; and, in revenge, Master Mick was desperately afraid of him. I need not mention the girls' names; I had plague enough with them in after-life, Heaven knows; and one of them was the cause of all my early troubles: this was (though to be sure all her sisters denied it) the belle of the family, Miss Honoria Brady by name.
She said she was only nineteen at the time; but I could read the fly-leaf in the family Bible as well as another (it was one of the three books which, with the backgammonboard, formed my uncle's library), and know that she was born in the year '37, and christened by Doctor Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin: hence she was three- andtwenty years old at the time she and I were so much together.
When I come to think about her now, I know she never could have been handsome; for her figure was rather of the fattest, and her mouth of the widest; she was freckled over like a partridge's egg, and her hair was the colour of a certain vegetable which we eat with boiled beef, to use the mildest term. Often and often would my dear mother make these remarks concerning her; but I did not believe them then, and somehow had gotten to think Honoria an angelical being, far above all the other angels of her sex.
And as we know very well that a lady who is skilled in dancing or singing never can perfect herself without a deal of study in private, and that the song or the minuet which is performed with so much graceful ease in the assembly-room has not been acquired without vast labour and perseverance in private; so it is with the dear creatures who are skilled in coquetting. Honoria, for instance, was always practising, and she would take poor me to rehearse her accomplishment upon; or the exciseman, when he came his rounds, or the steward, or the poor curate, or the young apothecary's lad from Brady's Town: whom I recollect beating once for that very reason. If he is alive now I make him my apologies. Poor fellow! as if it was HIS fault that he should be a victim to the wiles of one of the greatest coquettes (considering her obscure life and rustic breeding) in the world.
If the truth must be told--and every word of this narrative of my life is of the most sacred veracity--my passion for Nora began in a very vulgar and unromantic way. I did not save her life; on the contrary, I once very nearly killed her, as you shall hear. I did not behold her by moonlight playing on the guitar, or rescue her from the hands of ruffians, as Alfonso does Lindamira in the novel; but one day, after dinner at Brady's Town, in summer, going into the garden to pull gooseberries for my dessert, and thinking only of gooseberries, I pledge my honour, I came upon Miss Nora and one of her sisters, with whom she was friends at the time, who were both engaged in the very same amusement.'What's the Latin for gooseberry, Redmond?' says she. She was always 'poking her fun,' as the Irish phrase it. 'I know the Latin for goose,' says I. 'And what's that?' cries Miss Mysie, as pert as a peacock.
'Bo to you!' says I (for I had never a want of wit); and so we fell to work at the gooseberry-bush, laughing and talking as happy as might be. In the course of our diversion Nora managed to scratch her arm, and it bled, and she screamed, and it was mighty round and white, and I tied it up, and I believe was permitted to kiss her hand; and though it was as big and clumsy a hand as ever you saw, yet I thought the favour the most ravishing one that was ever conferred upon me, and went home in a rapture.
I was much too simple a fellow to disguise any sentiment I chanced to feel in those days; and not one of the eight Castle Brady girls but was soon aware of my passion, and joked and complimented Nora about her bachelor.
The torments of jealousy the cruel coquette made me endure were horrible. Sometimes she would treat me as a child, sometimes as a man. She would always leave me if ever there came a stranger to the house.
'For after all, Redmond,' she would say, 'you are but fifteen, and you haven't a guinea in the world.' At which I would swear that I would become the greatest hero ever known out of Ireland, and vow that before I was twenty I would have money enough to purchase an estate six times as big as Castle Brady. All which vain promises, of course, I did not keep; but I make no doubt they influenced me in my very early life, and caused me to do those great actions for which I have been celebrated, and which shall be narrated presently in order.
I must tell one of them, just that my dear young lady readers may know what sort of a fellow Redmond Barry was, and what a courage and undaunted passion he had. I question whether any of the jenny- jessamines of the present day would do half as much in the face of danger.
About this time, it must be premised, the United Kingdom was in a state of great excitement from the threat generally credited of a French invasion. The Pretender was said to be in high favour at Versailles, a descent upon Ireland was especially looked to, and the noblemen and people of condition in that and all other parts of the kingdom showed their loyalty by raising regiments of horse and foot to resist the invaders. Brady's Town sent a company to join the Kilwangan regiment, of which Master Mick was the captain; and we had a letter from Master Ulick at Trinity College, stating that the University had also formed a regiment, in which he had the honour to be a corporal. How I envied them both! especially that odious Mick as I saw him in his laced scarlet coat, with a ribbon in his hat, march off at the head of his men. He, the poor spiritless creature, was a captain, and I nothing,--I who felt I had as much courage as the Duke of Cumberland himself, and felt, too, that a red jacket would mightily become me! My mother said I was too young to join the new regiment; but the fact was, that it was she herself who was too poor, for the cost of a new uniform would have swallowed up half her year's income, and she would only have her boy appear in a way suitable to his birth, riding the finest of racers, dressed in the best of clothes, and keeping the genteelest of company.
Well, then, the whole country was alive with war's alarums, the three kingdoms ringing with military music, and every man of merit paying his devoirs at the court of Bellona, whilst poor I was obliged to stay at home in my fustian jacket and sigh for fame in secret. Mr. Mick came to and fro from the regiment, and brought numerous of his comrades with him. Their costume and swaggering airs filled me with grief, and Miss Nora's unvarying attentions to them served to make me half wild. No one, however, thought of attributing this sadness to the young lady's score, but rather to my disappointment at not being allowed to join the military profession.
Once the officers of the Fencibles gave a grand ball at Kilwangan, to which, as a matter of course, all the ladies of Castle Brady (and a pretty ugly coachful they were) were invited. I knew to what tortures the odious little flirt of a Nora would put me with her eternal coquetries with the officers, and refused for a long time to be one of the party to the ball. But she had a way of conquering me, against which all resistance of mine was in vain. She vowed that riding in a coach always made her ill. 'And how can I go to the ball,' said she, 'unless you take me on Daisy behind you on the pillion?' Daisy was a good blood-mare of my uncle's, and to such a proposition I could not for my soul say no; so we rode in safety to Kilwangan, and I felt myself as proud as any prince when she promised to dance a country-dance with me.
When the dance was ended, the little ungrateful flirt informed me that she had quite forgotten her engagement; she had actually danced the set with an Englishman! I have endured torments in my life, but none like that. She tried to make up for her neglect, but I would not. Some of the prettiest girls there offered to console me, for I was the best dancer in the room. I made one attempt, but was too wretched to continue, and so remained alone all night in a state of agony. I would have played, but I had no money; only the gold piece that my mother bade me always keep in my purse as a gentleman should. I did not care for drink, or know the dreadful comfort of it in those days; but I thought of killing myself and Nora, and most certainly of making away with Captain Quin!
At last, and at morning, the ball was over. The rest of our ladies went off in the lumbering creaking old coach; Daisy was brought out, and Miss Nora took her place behind me, which I let her do without a word. But we were not half-a-mile out of town when she began to try with her coaxing and blandishments to dissipate my ill-humour.'Sure it's a bitter night, Redmond dear, and you'll catch cold without a handkerchief to your neck.' To this sympathetic remark from the pillion, the saddle made no reply.
'Did you and Miss Clancy have a pleasant evening, Redmond? You were together, I saw, all night.' To this the saddle only replied by grinding his teeth, and giving a lash to Daisy. 'O mercy! you'll make Daisy rear and throw me, you careless creature you: and you know, Redmond, I'm so timid.' The pillion had by this got her arm round the saddle's waist, and perhaps gave it the gentlest squeeze in the world.
'I hate Miss Clancy, you know I do!' answers the saddle; 'and I only danced with her because--because--the person with whom I intended to dance chose to be engaged the whole night.'
'Sure there were my sisters,' said the pillion, now laughing outright in the pride of her conscious superiority; 'and for me, my dear, I had not been in the room five minutes before I was engaged for every single set.'
'Were you obliged to dance five times with Captain Quin?' said I; and oh! strange delicious charm of coquetry, I do believe Miss Nora Brady at twenty-three years of age felt a pang of delight in thinking that she had so much power over a guileless lad of fifteen. Of course she replied that she did not care a fig for Captain Quin: that he danced prettily, to be sure, and was a pleasant rattle of a man; that he looked well in his regimentals too; and if he chose to ask her to dance, how could she refuse him?'But you refused me, Nora.'
'Oh! I can dance with you any day,' answered Miss Nora, with a toss of her head; 'and to dance with your cousin at a ball, looks as if you could find no other partner. Besides,' said Nora--and this was a cruel, unkind cut, which showed what a power she had over me, and how mercilessly she used it,--'besides, Redmond, Captain Quin's a man and you are only a boy!'
'If ever I meet him again,' I roared out with an oath, 'you shall see which is the best man of the two. I'll fight him with sword or with pistol, captain as he is. A man indeed! I'll fight any man-- every man! Didn't I stand up to Mick Brady when I was eleven years old?--Didn't I beat Tom Sullivan, the great hulking brute, who is nineteen?--Didn't I do for the Scotch usher? O Nora, it's cruel of you to sneer at me so!'
But Nora was in the sneering mood that night, and pursued her sarcasms; she pointed out that Captain Quin was already known as a valiant soldier, famous as a man of fashion in London, and that it was mighty well of Redmond to talk and boast of beating ushers and farmers' boys, but to fight an Englishman was a very different matter.
Then she fell to talk of the invasion, and of military matters in general; of King Frederick (who was called, in those days, the Protestant hero), of Monsieur Thurot and his fleet, of Monsieur Conflans and his squadron, of Minorca, how it was attacked, and where it was; we both agreed it must be in America, and hoped the French might be soundly beaten there.
I sighed after a while (for I was beginning to melt), and said how much I longed to be a soldier; on which Nora recurred to her infallible 'Ah! now, would you leave me, then? But, sure, you're not big enough for anything more than a little drummer.' To which I replied, by swearing that a soldier I would be, and a general too.
As we were chattering in this silly way, we came to a place that has ever since gone by the name of Redmond's Leap Bridge. It was an old high bridge, over a stream sufficiently deep and rocky, and as the mare Daisy with her double load was crossing this bridge, Miss Nora, giving a loose to her imagination, and still harping on the military theme (I would lay a wager that she was thinking of Captain Quin)-- Miss Nora said, 'Suppose now, Redmond, you, who are such a hero, was passing over the bridge, and the inimy on the other side?''I'd draw my sword, and cut my way through them.' 'What, with me on the pillion? Would you kill poor me?' (This young lady was perpetually speaking of 'poor me!') 'Well, then, I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd jump Daisy into the river, and swim you both across, where no enemy could follow us.' 'Jump twenty feet! you wouldn't dare to do any such thing on Daisy. There's the Captain's horse, Black George, I've heard say that Captain Qui--'
She never finished the word, for, maddened by the continual recurrence of that odious monosyllable, I shouted to her to 'hold tight by my waist,' and, giving Daisy the spur, in a minute sprang with Nora over the parapet into the deep water below. I don't know why, now--whether it was I wanted to drown myself and Nora, or to perform an act that even Captain Quin should crane at, or whether I fancied that the enemy actually was in front of us, I can't tell now; but over I went. The horse sank over his head, the girl screamed as she sank and screamed as she rose, and I landed her, half fainting, on the shore, where we were soon found by my uncle's people, who returned on hearing the screams. I went home, and was ill speedily of a fever, which kept me to my bed for six weeks; and I quitted my couch prodigiously increased in stature, and, at the same time, still more violently in love than I had been even before. At the commencement of my illness, Miss Nora had been pretty constant in her attendance at my bedside, forgetting, for the sake of me, the quarrel between my mother and her family; which my good mother was likewise pleased, in the most Christian manner, to forget. And, let me tell you, it was no small mark of goodness in a woman of her haughty disposition, who, as a rule, never forgave anybody, for my sake to give up her hostility to Miss Brady, and to receive her kindly. For, like a mad boy as I was, it was Nora I was always raving about and asking for; I would only accept medicines from her hand, and would look rudely and sulkily upon the good mother, who loved me better than anything else in the world, and gave up even her favourite habits, and proper and becoming jealousies, to make me happy.
As I got well, I saw that Nora's visits became daily more rare: 'Why don't she come?' I would say, peevishly, a dozen times in the day; in reply to which query, Mrs. Barry would be obliged to make the best excuses she could find,--such as that Nora had sprained her ankle, or that they had quarrelled together, or some other answer to soothe me. And many a time has the good soul left me to go and break her heart in her own room alone, and come back with a smiling face, so that I should know nothing of her mortification. Nor, indeed, did I take much pains to ascertain it: nor should I, I fear, have been very much touched even had I discovered it; for the commencement of manhood, I think, is the period of our extremest selfishness. We get such a desire then to take wing and leave the parent nest, that no tears, entreaties, or feelings of affection will counterbalance this overpowering longing after independence. She must have been very sad, that poor mother of mine--Heaven be good to her!--at that period of my life; and has often told me since what a pang of the heart it was to her to see all her care and affection of years forgotten by me in a minute, and for the sake of a little heartless jilt, who was only playing with me while she could get no better suitor. For the fact is, that during the last four weeks of my illness, no other than Captain Quin was staying at Castle Brady, and making love to Miss Nora in form. My mother did not dare to break this news to me, and you may be sure that Nora herself kept it a secret: it was only by chance that I discovered it.
Shall I tell you how? The minx had been to see me one day, as I sat up in my bed, convalescent; she was in such high spirits, and so gracious and kind to me, that my heart poured over with joy and gladness, and I had even for my poor mother a kind word and a kiss that morning. I felt myself so well that I ate up a whole chicken, and promised my uncle, who had come to see me, to be ready against partridge-shooting, to accompany him, as my custom was.
The next day but one was a Sunday, and I had a project for that day which I determined to realise, in spite of all the doctor's and my mother's injunctions: which were that I was on no account to leave the house, for the fresh air would be the death of me.
Well, I lay wondrous quiet, composing a copy of verses, the first I ever made in my life; and I give them here, spelt as I spelt them in those days when I knew no better. And though they are not so polished and elegant as 'Ardelia ease a Love-sick Swain,' and 'When Sol bedecks the Daisied Mead,' and other lyrical effusions of mine which obtained me so much reputation in after life, I still think them pretty good for a humble lad of fifteen:--THE ROSE OF FLORA. Sent by a Young Gentleman of Quality to Miss Br-dy, of Castle Brady.
On Brady's tower there grows a flower, It is the loveliest flower that blows,--
At Castle Brady there lives a lady
(And how I love her no one knows):
Her name is Nora, and the goddess Flora
Presents her with this blooming rose.
'O Lady Nora,' says the goddess Flora, 'I've many a rich and bright parterre;
In Brady's towers there's seven more flowers, But you're the fairest lady there:
Not all the county, nor Ireland's bounty, Can projuice a treasure that's half so fair!
What cheek is redder? sure roses fed her! Her hair is maregolds, and her eye of blew
Beneath her eyelid is like the vi'let,
That darkly glistens with gentle jew?
The lily's nature is not surely whiter
Than Nora's neck is,--and her arrums too.
'Come, gentle Nora,' says the goddess Flora, 'My dearest creature, take my advice, There is a poet, full well you know it,
Who spends his lifetime in heavy sighs,-- Young Redmond Barry, 'tis him you'll marry,
If rhyme and raisin you'd choose likewise.'
On Sunday, no sooner was my mother gone to church, than I summoned Phil the valet, and insisted upon his producing my best suit, in which I arrayed myself (although I found that I had shot up so in my illness that the old dress was wofully too small for me), and, with my notable copy of verses in my hand, ran down towards Castle Brady, bent upon beholding my beauty. The air was so fresh and bright, and the birds sang so loud amidst the green trees, that I felt more elated than I had been for months before, and sprang down the avenue (my uncle had cut down every stick of the trees, by the way) as brisk as a young fawn. My heart began to thump as I mounted the grass-grown steps of the terrace, and passed in by the rickety hall- door. The master and mistress were at church, Mr. Screw the butler told me (after giving a start back at seeing my altered appearance, and gaunt lean figure), and so were six of the young ladies.'Was Miss Nora one?' I asked. 'No, Miss Nora was not one,' said Mr. Screw, assuming a very puzzled, and yet knowing look.
'Where was she?' To this question he answered, or rather made believe to answer, with usual Irish ingenuity, and left me to settle whether she was gone to Kilwangan on the pillion behind her brother, or whether she and her sister had gone for a walk, or whether she was ill in her room; and while I was settling this query, Mr. Screw left me abruptly.
I rushed away to the back court, where the Castle Brady stables stand, and there I found a dragoon whistling the 'Roast Beef of Old England,' as he cleaned down a cavalry horse. 'Whose horse, fellow, is that?' cried I.
'Feller, indeed!' replied the Englishman: 'the horse belongs to my captain, and he's a better FELLER nor you any day.'
I knew somehow what I should see there. I saw Captain Quin and Nora pacing the alley together. Her arm was under his, and the scoundrel was fondling and squeezing the hand which lay closely nestling against his odious waistcoat. Some distance beyond them was Captain Fagan of the Kilwangan regiment, who was paying court to Nora's sister Mysie.
I am not afraid of any man or ghost; but as I saw that sight my knees fell a-trembling violently under me, and such a sickness came over me, that I was fain to sink down on the grass by a tree against which I leaned, and lost almost all consciousness for a minute or two: then I gathered myself up, and, advancing towards the couple on the walk, loosened the blade of the little silver-hilted hanger I always wore in its scabbard; for I was resolved to pass it through the bodies of the delinquents, and spit them like two pigeons. I don't tell what feelings else besides those of rage were passing through my mind; what bitter blank disappointment, what mad wild despair, what a sensation as if the whole world was tumbling from under me; I make no doubt that my reader hath been jilted by the ladies many times, and so bid him recall his own sensations when the shock first fell upon him.
'No, Norelia,' said the Captain (for it was the fashion of those times for lovers to call themselves by the most romantic names out of novels), 'except for you and four others, I vow before all the gods, my heart has never felt the soft flame!'
'Ah! you men, you men, Eugenio!' said she (the beast's name was John), 'your passion is not equal to ours. We are like--like some plant I've read of--we bear but one flower and then we die!''Do you mean you never felt an inclination for another?' said Captain Quin. 'Never, my Eugenio, but for thee! How can you ask a blushing nymph such a question?' 'Darling Norelia!' said he, raising her hand to his lips.
I had a knot of cherry-coloured ribands, which she had given me out of her breast, and which somehow I always wore upon me. I pulled these out of my bosom, and flung them in Captain Quin's face, and rushed out with my little sword drawn, shrieking, 'She's a liar
- she's a liar, Captain Quin! Draw, sir, and defend yourself, if you are a man!' and with these words I leapt at the monster, and collared him, while Nora made the air echo with her screams; at the sound of which the other captain and Mysie hastened up.
Although I sprang up like a weed in my illness, and was now nearly attained to my full growth of six feet, yet I was but a lath by the side of the enormous English captain, who had calves and shoulders such as no chairman at Bath ever boasted. He turned very red, and then exceedingly pale at my attack upon him, and slipped back and clutched at his sword--when Nora, in an agony of terror, flung herself round him, screaming, 'Eugenio! Captain Quin, for Heaven's sake spare the child--he is but an infant.'
'And ought to be whipped for his impudence,' said the Captain; 'but never fear, Miss Brady, I shall not touch him; your FAVOURITE is safe from me.' So saying, he stooped down and picked up the bunch of ribands which had fallen at Nora's feet, and handing it to her, said in a sarcastic tone, 'When ladies make presents to gentlemen, it is time for OTHER gentlemen to retire.''Good heavens, Quin!' cried the girl; 'he is but a boy.' 'I am a man,' roared I, 'and will prove it.' 'And don't signify any more than my parrot or lap-dog. Mayn't I give a bit of riband to my own cousin?' 'You are perfectly welcome, miss,' continued the Captain, 'as many yards as you like.' 'Monster!' exclaimed the dear girl; 'your father was a tailor, and you are always thinking of the shop. But I'll have my revenge, I will! Reddy, will you see me insulted?' 'Indeed, Miss Nora,' says I, 'I intend to have his blood as sure as my name's Redmond.' 'I'll send for the usher to cane you, little boy,' said the Captain, regaining his selfpossession; 'but as for you, miss, I have the honour to wish you a good-day.' He took off his hat with much ceremony, made a low CONGE, and was just walking off, when Mick, my cousin, came up, whose ear had likewise been caught by the scream. 'Hoity-toity! Jack Quin, what's the matter here?' says Mick; 'Nora in tears, Redmond's ghost here with his sword drawn, and you making a bow?' 'I'll tell you what it is, Mr. Brady,' said the Englishman: 'I have had enough of Miss Nora, here, and your Irish ways. I ain't used to 'em, sir.' 'Well, well! what is it?' said Mick good-humouredly (for he owed Quin a great deal of money as it turned out); 'we'll make you used to our ways, or adopt English ones.'
'It's not the English way for ladies to have two lovers'(the 'Henglish way,' as the captain called it), 'and so, Mr. Brady, I'll thank you to pay me the sum you owe me, and I'll resign all claims to this young lady. If she has a fancy for schoolboys, let her take 'em, sir.''Pooh, pooh! Quin, you are joking,' said Mick. 'I never was more in earnest,' replied the other.
'By Heaven, then, look to yourself!' shouted Mick. 'Infamous seducer! infernal deceiver!
-you come and wind your toils round this suffering angel here--you win her heart and leave her--and fancy her brother won't defend her? Draw this minute, you slave! and let me cut the wicked heart out of your body!'
'Faith!' said Captain Fagan, who seemed mightily amused, 'you may settle your own quarrel, Captain Quin;' and coming over to me, whispered, 'At him again, you little fellow.''As long as Mr. Quin withdraws his claim,' said I, 'I, of course, do not interfere.' 'I do, sir--I do,' said Mr. Quin, more and more flustered. 'Then defend yourself like a man, curse you!' cried Mick again. 'Mysie, lead this poor victim away--Redmond and Fagan will see fair play between us.' 'Well now--I don't--give me time--I'm puzzled--I--I don't know which way to look.' 'Like the donkey betwixt the two bundles of hay,' said Mr. Fagan drily, 'and there's pretty pickings on either side.'
Chapter 2I Show Myself To Be A Man Of Spirit
During this dispute, my cousin Nora did the only thing that a lady, under such circumstances, could do, and fainted in due form. I was in hot altercation with Mick at the time, or I should have, of course, flown to her assistance, but Captain Fagan (a dry sort of fellow this Fagan was) prevented me, saying, 'I advise you to leave the young lady to herself, Master Redmond, and be sure she will come to.' And so indeed, after a while, she did, which has shown me since that Fagan knew the world pretty well, for many's the lady I've seen in after times recover in a similar manner. Quin did not offer to help her, you may be sure, for, in the midst of the diversion, caused by her screaming, the faithless bully stole away.
'Which of us is Captain Quin to engage?' said I to Mick; for it was my first affair, and I was as proud of it as of a suit of laced velvet. 'Is it you or I, Cousin Mick, that is to have the honour of chastising this insolent Englishman?' And I held out my hand as I spoke, for my heart melted towards my cousin under the triumph of the moment.
But he rejected the proffered offer of friendship. 'You--you!' said he, in a towering passion; 'hang you for a meddling brat: your hand is in everybody's pie. What business had you to come brawling and quarrelling here, with a gentleman who has fifteen hundred a year?''Oh,' gasped Nora, from the stone bench, 'I shall die: I know I shall. I shall never leave this spot.' 'The Captain's not gone yet,' whispered Fagan; on which Nora, giving him an indignant look, jumped up and walked towards the house. 'Meanwhile,' Mick continued, 'what business have you, you meddling rascal, to interfere with a daughter of this house?'
'Rascal yourself!' roared I: 'call me another such name, Mick Brady, and I'll drive my hanger into your weasand. Recollect, I stood to you when I was eleven years old. I'm your match now, and, by Jove, provoke me, and I'll beat you like--like your younger brother always did.' That was a home-cut, and I saw Mick turn blue with fury.'This is a pretty way to recommend yourself to the family,' said Fagan, in a soothing tone. 'The girl's old enough to be his mother,' growled Mick.
'Old or not,' I replied: 'you listen to this, Mick Brady' (and I swore a tremendous oath, that need not be put down here): 'the man that marries Nora Brady must first kill me--do you mind that?'
'Pooh, sir,' said Mick, turning away, 'kill you--flog you, you mean! I'll send for Nick the huntsman to do it;' and so he went off.
Captain Fagan now came up, and taking me kindly by the hand, said I was a gallant lad, and he liked my spirit. 'But what Brady says is true,' continued he; 'it's a hard thing to give a lad counsel who is in such a far-gone state as you; but, believe me, I know the world, and if you will but follow my advice, you won't regret having taken it. Nora Brady has not a penny; you are not a whit richer. You are but fifteen, and she's four-and-twenty. In ten years, when you're old enough to marry, she will be an old woman; and, my poor boy, don't you see--though it's a hard matter to see--that she's a flirt, and does not care a pin for you or Quin either?'
But who in love (or in any other point, for the matter of that) listens to advice? I never did, and I told Captain Fagan fairly, that Nora might love me or not as she liked, but that Quin should fight me before he married her--that I swore.
'Faith,' says Fagan, 'I think you are a lad that's likely to keep your word;' and, looking hard at me for a second or two, he walked away likewise, humming a tune: and I saw he looked back at me as he went through the old gate out of the garden. When he was gone, and I was quite alone, I flung myself down on the bench where Nora had made believe to faint, and had left her handkerchief; and, taking it up, hid my face in it, and burst into such a passion of tears as I would then have had nobody see for the world. The crumpled riband which I had flung at Quin lay in the walk, and I sat there for hours, as wretched as any man in Ireland, I believe, for the time being. But it's a changeable world! When we consider how great our sorrows SEEM, and how small they ARE; how we think we shall die of grief, and how quickly we forget, I think we ought to be ashamed of ourselves and our fickle-heartedness. For, after all, what business has time to bring us consolation? I have not, perhaps, in the course of my multifarious adventures and experience, hit upon the right woman; and have forgotten, after a little, every single creature I adored; but I think, if I could but have lighted on the right one, I would have loved her for EVER.
I must have sat for some hours bemoaning myself on the garden bench, for it was morning when I came to Castle Brady, and the dinner-bell clanged as usual at three o'clock, which wakened me up from my reverie. Presently I gathered up the handkerchief, and once more took the riband. As I passed through the offices, I saw the Captain's saddle was still hanging up at the stable-door, and saw his odious red-coated brute of a servant swaggering with the scullion-girls and kitchen-people. 'The Englishman's still there, Master Redmond,' said one of the maids to me (a sentimental black- eyed girl, who waited on the young ladies). 'He's there in the parlour, with the sweetest fillet of vale; go in, and don't let him browbeat you, Master Redmond.'And in I went, and took my place at the bottom of the big table, as usual, and my friend the butler speedily brought me a cover. 'Hallo, Reddy my boy!' said my uncle, 'up and well?--that's right.' 'He'd better be home with his mother,' growled my aunt.
'Don't mind her,' says Uncle Brady; 'it's the cold goose she ate at breakfast didn't agree with her. Take a glass of spirits, Mrs. Brady, to Redmond's health.' It was evident he did not know of what had happened; but Mick, who was at dinner too, and Ulick, and almost all the girls, looked exceedingly black, and the Captain foolish; and Miss Nora, who was again by his side, ready to cry. Captain Fagan sat smiling; and I looked on as cold as a stone. I thought the dinner would choke me: but I was determined to put a good face on it, and when the cloth was drawn, filled my glass with the rest; and we drank the King and the Church, as gentlemen should. My uncle was in high good-humour, and especially always joking with Nora and the Captain. It was, 'Nora, divide that merry-thought with the Captain! see who'll be married first.' 'Jack Quin, my dear boy, never mind a clean glass for the claret, we're short of crystal at Castle Brady; take Nora's and the wine will taste none the worse;' and so on. He was in the highest glee,--I did not know why. Had there been a reconciliation between the faithless girl and her lover since they had come into the house?
I learned the truth very soon. At the third toast, it was always the custom for the ladies to withdraw; but my uncle stopped them this time, in spite of the remonstrances of Nora, who said, 'Oh, pa! do let us go!' and said, 'No, Mrs. Brady and ladies, if you plaise; this is a sort of toast that is drunk a great dale too seldom in my family, and you'll plaise to receive it with all the honours. Here's CAPTAIN AND MRS. JOHN QUIN, and long life to them. Kiss her, Jack, you rogue: for 'faith you've got a treasure!''He has already '----I screeched out, springing up. 'Hold your tongue, you fool--hold your tongue!' said big Ulick, who sat by me; but I wouldn't hear.
'He has already,' I screamed, 'been slapped in the face this morning, Captain John Quin; he's already been called coward, Captain John Quin; and this is the way I'll drink his health. Here's your health, Captain John Quin!' And I flung a glass of claret into his face. I don't know how he looked after it, for the next moment I myself was under the table, tripped up by Ulick, who hit me a violent cuff on the head as I went down; and I had hardly leisure to hear the general screaming and skurrying that was taking place above me, being so fully occupied with kicks, and thumps, and curses, with which Ulick was belabouring me. 'You fool!' roared he--' you great blundering marplot--you silly beggarly brat' (a thump at each), 'hold your tongue!' These blows from Ulick, of course, I did not care for, for he had always been my friend, and had been in the habit of thrashing me all my life.
When I got up from under the table all the ladies were gone; and I had the satisfaction of seeing the Captain's nose was bleeding, as mine was--HIS was cut across the bridge, and his beauty spoiled for ever. Ulick shook himself, sat down quietly, filled a bumper, and pushed the bottle to me. 'There, you young donkey,' said he, 'sup that; and let's hear no more of your braying.'
'In Heaven's name, what does all the row mean?' says my uncle. 'Is the boy in the fever again? '
'You'd best not try it, Quin,' said Ulick, who was always my champion; and turning to his father, 'The fact is, sir, that the young monkey has fallen in love with Nora, and finding her and the Captain mighty sweet in the garden to-day, he was for murdering Jack Quin.''Gad, he's beginning young,' said my uncle, quite good-humouredly. ''Faith, Fagan, that boy's a Brady, every inch of him.'
'And I'll tell you what, Mr. B.,' cried Quin, bristling up: 'I've been insulted grossly in this 'OUSE. I ain't at all satisfied with these here ways of going on. I'm an Englishman I am, and a man of property; and I--I'--'If you're insulted, and not satisfied, remember there's two of us, Quin,' said Ulick gruffly. On which the Captain fell to washing his nose in water, and answered never a word.
'Mr. Quin,' said I, in the most dignified tone I could assume, 'may also have satisfaction any time he pleases, by calling on Redmond Barry, Esquire, of Barryville.' At which speech my uncle burst out a-laughing (as he did at everything); and in this laugh, Captain Fagan, much to my mortification, joined. I turned rather smartly upon him, however, and bade him to understand that as for my cousin Ulick, who had been my best friend through life, I could put up with rough treatment from him; yet, though I was a boy, even that sort of treatment I would bear from him no longer; and any other person who ventured on the like would find me a man, to their cost. 'Mr. Quin,' I added, 'knows that fact very well; and if HE'S a man, he'll know where to find me.'
My uncle now observed that it was getting late, and that my mother would be anxious about me. 'One of you had better go home with him,' said he, turning to his sons, 'or the lad may be playing more pranks.' But Ulick said, with a nod to his brother, 'Both of us ride home with Quin here.''I'm not afraid of Freny's people,' said the Captain, with a faint attempt at a laugh; 'my man is armed, and so am I.' 'You know the use of arms very well, Quin,' said Ulick; 'and no one can doubt your courage; but Mick and I will see you home for all that.' 'Why, you'll not be home till morning, boys. Kilwangan's a good ten mile from here.' 'We'll sleep at Quin's quarters,' replied Ulick: 'WE'RE GOING TO STOP A WEEK THERE.' 'Thank you,' says Quin, very faint; 'it's very kind of you.' 'You'll be lonely, you know, without us.' 'Oh yes, very lonely!' says Quin.
'And in ANOTHER WEEK, my boy,' says Ulick (and here he whispered something in the Captain's ear, in which I thought I caught the words 'marriage,' 'parson,' and felt all my fury returning again).' As you please,' whined out the Captain; and the horses were quickly brought round, and the three gentlemen rode away.
Fagan stopped, and, at my uncle's injunction, walked across the old treeless park with me. He said that after the quarrel at dinner, he thought I would scarcely want to see the ladies that night, in which opinion I concurred entirely; and so we went off without an adieu.
'A pretty day's work of it you have made, Master Redmond,' said he. 'What! you a friend to the Bradys, and knowing your uncle to be distressed for money, try and break off a match which will bring fifteen hundred a year into the family? Quin has promised to pay off the four thousand pounds which is bothering your uncle so. He takes a girl without a penny--a girl with no more beauty than yonder bullock. Well, well, don't look furious; let's say she IS handsome-- there's no accounting for tastes,--a girl that has been flinging herself at the head of every man in these parts these ten years past, and MISSING them all. And you, as poor as herself, a boy of fifteen--well, sixteen, if you insist--and a boy who ought to be attached to your uncle as to your father'--'And so I am,' said I.
'And this is the return you make him for his kindness! Didn't he harbour you in his house when you were an orphan, and hasn't he given you rent-free your fine mansion of Barryville yonder? And now, when his affairs can be put into order, and a chance offers for his old age to be made comfortable, who flings himself in the way of him and competence?--You, of all others; the man in the world most obliged to him. It's wicked, ungrateful, unnatural. From a lad of such spirit as you are, I expect a truer courage.'
'I am not afraid of any man alive,' exclaimed I (for this latter part of the Captain's argument had rather staggered me, and I wished, of course, to turn it--as one always should when the enemy's too strong); 'and it's _I_ am the injured man, Captain Fagan. No man was ever, since the world began, treated so. Look here--look at this riband. I've worn it in my heart for six months. I've had it there all the time of the fever. Didn't Nora take it out of her own bosom and give it me? Didn't she kiss me when she gave it me, and call me her darling Redmond?'
'She was PRACTISING,' replied Mr. Fagan, with a sneer. 'I know women, sir. Give them time, and let nobody else come to the house, and they'll fall in love with a chimneysweep. There was a young lady in Fermoy'--
'A young lady in flames,' roared I (but I used a still hotter word). 'Mark this; come what will of it, I swear I'll fight the man who pretends to the hand of Nora Brady. I'll follow him, if it's into the church, and meet him there. I'll have his blood, or he shall have mine; and this riband shall be found dyed in it. Yes, and if I kill him, I'll pin it on his breast, and then she may go and take back her token.' This I said because I was very much excited at the time, and because I had not read novels and romantic plays for nothing.'Well,' says Fagan after a pause, 'if it must be, it must. For a young fellow, you are the most blood-thirsty I ever saw. Quin's a determined fellow, too.' 'Will you take my message to him?' said I, quite eagerly. 'Hush!' said Fagan: 'your mother may be on the look-out. Here we are, close to Barryville.' 'Mind! not a word to my mother,' I said; and went into the house swelling with pride and exultation to think that I should have a chance against the Englishman I hated so.
Tim, my servant, had come up from Barryville on my mother's return from church; for the good lady was rather alarmed at my absence, and anxious for my return. But he had seen me go in to dinner, at the invitation of the sentimental lady's-maid; and when he had had his own share of the good things in the kitchen, which was always better furnished than ours at home, had walked back again to inform his mistress where I was, and, no doubt, to tell her, in his own fashion, of all the events that had happened at Castle Brady. In spite of my precautions to secrecy, then, I half suspected that my mother knew all, from the manner in which she embraced me on my arrival, and received our guest, Captain Fagan. The poor soul looked a little anxious and flushed, and every now and then gazed very hard in the Captain's face; but she said not a word about the quarrel, for she had a noble spirit, and would as lief have seen anyone of her kindred hanged as shirking from the field of honour. What has become of those gallant feelings nowadays? Sixty years ago a man was a MAN, in old Ireland, and the sword that was worn by his side was at the service of any gentleman's gizzard, upon the slightest difference. But the good old times and usages are fast fading away. One scarcely every hears of a fair meeting now, and the use of those cowardly pistols, in place of the honourable and manly weapon of gentlemen, has introduced a deal of knavery into the practice of duelling, that cannot be sufficiently deplored.
When I arrived at home I felt that I was a man in earnest, and welcoming Captain Fagan to Barryville, and introducing him to my mother, in a majestic and dignified way, said the Captain must be thirsty after his walk, and called upon Tim to bring up a bottle of the yellow-sealed Bordeaux, and cakes and glasses, immediately.
Tim looked at the mistress in great wonderment: and the fact is, that six hours previous I would as soon have thought of burning the house down as calling for a bottle of claret on my own account; but I felt I was a man now, and had a right to command; and my mother felt this too, for she turned to the fellow and said, sharply, 'Don't you hear, you rascal, what YOUR MASTER says! Go, get the wine, and the cakes and glasses, directly.' Then (for you may be sure she did not give Tim the keys of our little cellar) she went and got the liquor herself; and Tim brought it in, on the silver tray, in due form. My dear mother poured out the wine, and drank the Captain welcome; but I observed her hand shook very much as she performed this courteous duty, and the bottle went clink, clink, against the glass. When she had tasted her glass, she said she had a headache, and would go to bed; and so I asked her blessing, as becomes a dutiful son--(the modern BLOODS have given up the respectful ceremonies which distinguished a gentleman in my time)-- and she left me and Captain Fagan to talk over our important business.
'Indeed,' said the Captain,' I see now no other way out of the scrape than a meeting. The fact is, there was a talk of it at Castle Brady, after your attack upon Quin this afternoon, and he vowed that he would cut you in pieces: but the tears and supplications of Miss Honoria induced him, though very unwillingly, to relent. Now, however, matters have gone too far. No officer, bearing His Majesty's commission, can receive a glass of wine on his nose--this claret of yours is very good, by the way, and by your leave we'll ring for another bottle--without resenting the affront. Fight you must; and Quin is a huge strong fellow.''He'll give the better mark,' said I. 'I am not afraid of him.' 'In faith,' said the Captain,' I believe you are not; for a lad, I never saw more game in my life.'
'Look at that sword, sir,' says I, pointing to an elegant silver- mounted one, in a white shagreen case, that hung on the mantelpiece, under the picture of my father, Harry Barry. 'It was with that sword, sir, that my father pinked Mohawk O'Driscol, in Dublin, in the year 1740; with that sword, sir, he met Sir Huddlestone Fuddlestone, the Hampshire baronet, and ran him through the neck. They met on horseback, with sword and pistol, on Hounslow Heath, as I dare say you have heard tell of, and those are the pistols' (they hung on each side of the picture) 'which the gallant Barry used. He was quite in the wrong, having insulted Lady Fuddlestone, when in liquor, at the Brentford assembly. But, like a gentleman, he scorned to apologise, and Sir Huddlestone received a ball through his hat, before they engaged with the sword. I am Harry Barry's son, sir, and will act as becomes my name and my quality.'
'Give me a kiss, my dear boy,' said Fagan, with tears in his eyes. 'You're after my own soul. As long as Jack Fagan lives you shall never want a friend or a second.' Poor fellow! he was shot six months afterwards, carrying orders to my Lord George Sackville, at Minden, and I lost thereby a kind friend. But we don't know what is in store for us, and that night was a merry one at least. We had a second bottle, and a third too (I could hear the poor mother going downstairs for each, but she never came into the parlour with them, and sent them in by the butler, Mr. Tim): and we parted at length, he engaging to arrange matters with Mr. Quin's second that night, and to bring me news in the morning as to the place where the meeting should take place. I have often thought since, how different my fate might have been, had I not fallen in love with Nora at that early age; and had I not flung the wine in Quin's face, and so brought on the duel. I might have settled down in Ireland but for that (for Miss Ouinlan was an heiress, within twenty miles of us, and Peter Burke, of Kilwangan, left his daughter Judy L700 a year, and I might have had either of them, had I waited a few years). But it was in my fate to be a wanderer, and that battle with Quin sent me on my travels at a very early age: as you shall hear anon.
I never slept sounder in my life, though I woke a little earlier than usual; and you may be sure my first thought was of the event of the day, for which I was fully prepared. I had ink and pen in my room--had I not been writing those verses to Nora but the day previous, like a poor fond fool as I was? And now I sat down and wrote a couple of letters more: they might be the last, thought I, that I ever should write in my life. The first was to my mother:--
'Honoured Madam'--I wrote--'This will not be given you unless I fall by the hand of Captain Quin, whom I meet this day in the field of honour, with sword and pistol. If I die, it is as a good Christian and a gentleman,--how should I be otherwise when educated by such a mother as you? I forgive all my enemies--I beg your blessing as a dutiful son. I desire that my mare Nora, which my uncle gave me, and which I called after the most faithless of her sex, may be returned to Castle Brady, and beg you will give my silverhiked hanger to Phil Purcell, the gamekeeper. Present my duty to my uncle and Ulick, and all the girls of MY party there. And I remain your dutiful son,'REDMOND BARRY.' To Nora I wrote:--
'This letter will be found in my bosom along with the token you gave me. It will be dyed in my blood (unless I have Captain Quin's, whom I hate, but forgive), and will be a pretty ornament for you on your marriage-day. Wear it, and think of the poor boy to whom you gave it, and who died (as he was always ready to do) for your sake.'REDMOND.'
These letters being written, and sealed with my father's great silver seal of the Barry arms, I went down to breakfast; where my mother was waiting for me, you may be sure. We did not say a single word about what was taking place: on the contrary, we talked of anything but that; about who was at church the day before, and about my wanting new clothes now I was grown so tall. She said I must have a suit against winter, if--if--she could afford it. She winced rather at the 'if,' Heaven bless her! I knew what was in her mind. And then she fell to telling me about the black pig that must be killed, and that she had found the speckled hen's nest that morning, whose eggs I liked so, and other such trifling talk. Some of these eggs were for breakfast, and I ate them with a good appetite; but in helping myself to salt I spilled it, on which she started up with a scream. 'THANK GOD,' said she, 'IT'S FALLEN TOWARDS ME.' And then, her heart being too full, she left the room. Ah! they have their faults, those mothers; but are there any other women like them?
When she was gone I went to take down the sword with which my father had vanquished the Hampshire baronet, and, would you believe it?-- the brave woman had tied A NEW RIBAND to the hilt: for indeed she had the courage of a lioness and a Brady united. And then I took down the pistols, which were always kept bright and well oiled, and put some fresh flints I had into the locks, and got balls and powder ready against the Captain should come. There was claret and a cold fowl put ready for him on the sideboard, and a case-bottle of old brandy too, with a couple of little glasses on the silver tray with the Barry arms emblazoned. In after life, and in the midst of my fortune and splendour, I paid thirty-five guineas, and almost as much more interest, to the London goldsmith who supplied my father with that very tray. A scoundrel pawnbroker would only give me sixteen for it afterwards; so little can we trust the honour of rascally tradesmen!
At eleven o'clock Captain Fagan arrived, on horseback, with a mounted dragoon after him. He paid his compliments to the collation which my mother's care had provided for him, and then said, 'Look ye, Redmond my boy; this is a silly business. The girl will marry Quin, mark my words; and as sure as she does you'll forget her. You are but a boy. Quin is willing to consider you as such. Dublin's a fine place, and if you have a mind to take a ride thither and see the town for a month, here are twenty guineas at your service. Make Quin an apology, and be off.''A man of honour, Mr. Fagan,' says I, 'dies, but never apologises. I'll see the Captain hanged before I apologise.' 'Then there's nothing for it but a meeting.' 'My mare is saddled and ready,' says I; 'where's the meeting, and who's the Captain's second?' 'Your cousins go out with him,' answered Mr. Fagan.
'I'll ring for my groom to bring my mare round,' I said, 'as soon as you have rested yourself.' Tim was accordingly despatched for Nora, and I rode away, but I didn't take leave of Mrs. Barry. The curtains of her bedroom windows were down, and they didn't move as we mounted and trotted off... BUT TWO HOURS AFTERWARDS, you should have seen her as she came tottering downstairs, and heard the scream which she gave as she hugged her boy to her heart, quite unharmed and without a wound in his body. What had taken place I may as well tell here. When we got to the ground, Ulick, Mick, and the Captain were already there: Quin, flaming in red regimentals, as big a monster as ever led a grenadier company. The party were laughing together at some joke of one or the other: and I must say I thought this laughter very unbecoming in my cousins, who were met, perhaps, to see the death of one of their kindred.'I hope to spoil this sport,' says I to Captain Fagan, in a great rage, 'and trust to see this sword of mine in yonder big bully's body.' 'Oh! it's with pistols we fight,' replied Mr. Fagan. 'You are no match for Quin with the sword.' 'I'll match any man with the sword,' said I. 'But swords are to-day impossible; Captain Quin is--is lame. He knocked his knee against the swinging park-gate last night, as he was riding home, and can scarce move it now.'
'Not against Castle Brady gate,' says I: 'that has been off the hinges these ten years.' On which Fagan said it must have been some other gate, and repeated what he had said to Mr. Quin and my cousins, when, on alighting from our horses, we joined and saluted those gentlemen.
'Oh yes! dead lame,' said Ulick, coming to shake me by the hand, while Captain Quin took off his hat and turned extremely red. 'And very lucky for you, Redmond my boy,' continued Ulick; 'you were a dead man else; for he is a devil of a fellow--isn't he, Fagan?''A regular Turk,' answered Fagan; adding, 'I never yet knew the man who stood to Captain Quin.' 'Hang the business!' said Ulick; 'I hate it. I'm ashamed of it. Say you're sorry, Redmond: you can easily say that.' 'If the young FELLER will go to DUBLING, as proposed'--here interposed Mr. Quin. ' I am NOT sorry--I'll NOT apologise--and I'll as soon go to DUBLING as to--!' said I, with a stamp of my foot. 'There's nothing else for it,' said Ulick with a laugh to Fagan. 'Take your ground, Fagan,-twelve paces, I suppose?' 'Ten, sir,' said Mr. Quin, in a big voice; 'and make them short ones, do you hear, Captain Fagan?'
'Don't bully, Mr. Quin,' said Ulick surlily; 'here are the pistols.' And he added, with some emotion, to me, 'God bless you, my boy; and when I count three, fire.'
Mr. Fagan put my pistol into my hand,--that is, not one of mine (which were to serve, if need were, for the next round), but one of Ulick's. 'They are all right,' said he. 'Never fear: and, Redmond, fire at his neck--hit him there under the gorget. See how the fool shows himself open.' Mick, who had never spoken a word, Ulick, and the Captain retired to one side, and Ulick gave the signal. It was slowly given, and I had leisure to cover my man well. I saw him changing colour and trembling as the numbers were given. At 'three,' both our pistols went off. I heard something whizz by me, and my antagonist, giving a most horrible groan, staggered backwards and fell.
'How is it with you?' said Ulick. 'Is he really hit?' said he, looking hard at him. The unfortunate man did not answer, but when the support of Ulick's arm was withdrawn from his back, groaned once more, and fell backwards.
'The young fellow has begun well,' said Mick, with a scowl. 'You had better ride off, young sir, before the police are up. They had wind of the business before we left Kilwangan.''Is he quite dead?' said I. 'Quite dead,' answered Mick. 'Then the world's rid of A COWARD,' said Captain Fagan, giving the huge prostrate body a scornful kick with his foot. 'It's all over with him, Reddy,--he doesn't stir.'
'WE are not cowards, Fagan,' said Ulick roughly, 'whatever he was! Let's get the boy off as quick as we may. Your man shall go for a cart, and take away the body of this unhappy gentleman. This has been a sad day's work for our family, Redmond Barry: you have robbed us of 1500(pounds) a year.'
'It was Nora did it,' said I; 'not I.' And I took the riband she gave me out of my waistcoat, and the letter, and flung them down on the body of Captain Quin. 'There!' says I--'take her those ribands. She'll know what they mean: and that's all that's left to her of two lovers she had and ruined.'
I did not feel any horror or fear, young as I was, in seeing my enemy prostrate before me; for I knew that I had met and conquered him honourably in the field, as became a man of my name and blood.
'And now, in Heaven's name, get the youngster out of the way,' said Mick. Ulick said he would ride with me, and off accordingly we galloped, never drawing bridle till we came to my mother's door. When there, Ulick told Tim to feed my mare, as I would have far to ride that day; and I was in the poor mother's arms in a minute.
I need not tell how great were her pride and exultation when she heard from Ulick's lips the account of my behaviour at the duel. He urged, however, that I should go into hiding for a short time; and it was agreed between them that I should drop my name of Barry, and, taking that of Redmond, go to Dublin, and there wait until matters were blown over. This arrangement was not come to without some discussion; for why should I not be as safe at Barryville, she said, as my cousin and Ulick at Castle Brady?--bailiffs and duns never got near THEM; why should constables be enabled to come upon me? But Ulick persisted in the necessity of my instant departure; in which argument, as I was anxious to see the world, I must confess, I sided with him; and my mother was brought to see that in our small house at Barryville, in the midst of the village, and with the guard but of a couple of servants, escape would be impossible. So the kind soul was forced to yield to my cousin's entreaties, who promised her, however, that the affair would soon be arranged, and that I should be restored to her. Ah! how little did he know what fortune was in store for me!
My dear mother had some forebodings, I think, that our separation was to be a long one; for she told me that all night long she had been consulting the cards regarding my fate in the duel: and that all the signs betokened a separation; then, taking out a stocking from her escritoire, the kind soul put twenty guineas in a purse for me (she had herself but twenty-five), and made up a little valise, to be placed at the back of my mare, in which were my clothes, linen, and a silver dressing-case of my father's. She bade me, too, to keep the sword and the pistols I had known to use so like a man. She hurried my departure now (though her heart, I know, was full), and almost in half-an-hour after my arrival at home I was once more on the road again, with the wide world as it were before me. I need not tell how Tim and the cook cried at my departure: and, mayhap, I had a tear or two myself in my eyes; but no lad of sixteen is VERY sad who has liberty for the first time, and twenty guineas in his pocket: and I rode away, thinking, I confess, not so much of the kind mother left alone, and of the home behind me, as of to-morrow, and all the wonders it would bring.
Chapter 3A False Start In The Genteel World
I rode that night as far as Carlow, where I lay at the best inn; and being asked what was my name by the landlord of the house, gave it as Mr. Redmond, according to my cousin's instructions, and said I was of the Redmonds of Waterford county, and was on my road to Trinity College, Dublin, to be educated there. Seeing my handsome appearance, silverhiked sword, and well-filled valise, my landlord made free to send up a jug of claret without my asking; and charged, you may be sure, pretty handsomely for it in the bill. No gentleman in those good old days went to bed without a good share of liquor to set him sleeping, and on this my first day's entrance into the world, I made a point to act the fine gentleman completely; and, I assure you, succeeded in my part to admiration. The excitement of the events of the day, the quitting my home, the meeting with Captain Quin, were enough to set my brains in a whirl, without the claret; which served to finish me completely. I did not dream of the death of Quin, as some milksops, perhaps, would have done; indeed, I have never had any of that foolish remorse consequent upon any of my affairs of honour: always considering, from the first, that where a gentleman risks his own life in manly combat, he is a fool to be ashamed because he wins. I slept at Carlow as sound as man could sleep; drank a tankard of small beer and a toast to my breakfast; and exchanged the first of my gold pieces to settle the bill, not forgetting to pay all the servants liberally, and as a gentleman should. I began so the first day of my life, and so have continued. No man has been at greater straits than I, and has borne more pinching poverty and hardship; but nobody can say of me that, if I had a guinea, I was not freehanded with it, and did not spend it as well as a lord could do.
I had no doubts of the future: thinking that a man of my person, parts, and courage, could make his way anywhere. Besides, I had twenty gold guineas in my pocket; a sum which (although I was mistaken) I calculated would last me for four months at least, during which time something would be done towards the making of my fortune. So I rode on, singing to myself, or chatting with the passers-by; and all the girls along the road said God save me for a clever gentleman! As for Nora and Castle Brady, between to-day and yesterday there seemed to be a gap as of half-a-score of years. I vowed I would never reenter the place but as a great man; and I kept my vow too, as you shall hear in due time.
There was much more liveliness and bustle on the king's highroad in those times, than in these days of stage-coaches, which carry you from one end of the kingdom to another in a few score hours. The gentry rode their own horses or drove in their own coaches, and spent three days on a journey which now occupies ten hours; so that there was no lack of company for a person travelling towards Dublin. I made part of the journey from Carlow towards Naas with a well- armed gentleman from Kilkenny, dressed in green and a gold cord, with a patch on his eye, and riding a powerful mare. He asked me the question of the day, and whither I was bound, and whether my mother was not afraid on account of the highwaymen to let one so young as myself to travel? But I said, pulling out one of them from a holster, that I had a pair of good pistols that had already done execution, and were ready to do it again; and here, a pock-marked man coming up, he put spurs into his bay mare and left me. She was a much more powerful animal than mine; and, besides, I did not wish to fatigue my horse, wishing to enter Dublin that night, and in reputable condition.
As I rode towards Kilcullen, I saw a crowd of the peasant-people assembled round a onehorse chair, and my friend in green, as I thought, making off half a mile up the hill. A footman was howling 'Stop thief!' at the top of his voice; but the country fellows were only laughing at his distress, and making all sorts of jokes at the adventure which had just befallen.'Sure you might have kept him off with your blunderBUSH!' says one fellow. 'Oh, the coward! to let the Captain BATE you; and he only one eye!' cries another. 'The next time my Lady travels, she'd better lave you at home!' said a third.
'What is this noise, fellows?' said I, riding up amongst them, and, seeing a lady in the carriage very pale and frightened, gave a slash of my whip, and bade the red-shanked ruffians keep off. 'What has happened, madam, to annoy your Ladyship?' I said, pulling off my hat, and bringing my mare up in a prance to the chair window.
The lady explained. She was the wife of Captain Fitzsimons, and was hastening to join the Captain at Dublin. Her chair had been stopped by a highway-man: the great oaf of a servant-man had fallen down on his knees armed as he was; and though there were thirty people in the next field working when the ruffian attacked her, not one of them would help her; but, on the contrary, wished the Captain, as they called the highwayman, good luck.'Sure he's the friend of the poor,' said one fellow, 'and good luck to him!'
'Was it any business of ours?' asked another. And another told, grinning, that it was the famous Captain Freny, who, having bribed the jury to acquit him two days back at Kilkenny assizes, had mounted his horse at the gaol door, and the very next day had robbed two barristers who were going the circuit.
I told this pack of rascals to be off to their work, or they should taste of my thong, and proceeded, as well as I could, to comfort Mrs. Fitzsimons under her misfortunes. 'Had she lost much?' 'Everything: her purse, containing upwards of a hundred guineas; her jewels, snuff-boxes, watches, and a pair of diamond shoe-buckles of the Captain's.' These mishaps I sincerely commiserated; and knowing her by her accent to be an Englishwoman, deplored the difference that existed between the two countries, and said that in OUR country (meaning England) such atrocities were unknown.
'You, too, are an Englishman?' said she, with rather a tone of surprise. On which I said I was proud to be such: as, in fact, I was; and I never knew a true Tory gentleman of Ireland who did not wish he could say as much.
I rode by Mrs. Fitzsimon's chair all the way to Naas; and, as she had been robbed of her purse, asked permission to lend her a couple of pieces to pay her expenses at the inn: which sum she was graciously pleased to accept, and was, at the same time, kind enough to invite me to share her dinner. To the lady's questions regarding my birth and parentage, I replied that I was a young gentleman of large fortune (this was not true; but what is the use of crying bad fish? my dear mother instructed me early in this sort of prudence) and good family in the county of Waterford; that I was going to Dublin for my studies, and that my mother allowed me five hundred per annum. Mrs. Fitzsimons was equally communicative. She was the daughter of General Granby Somerset of Worcestershire, of whom, of course, I had heard (and though I had not, of course I was too well- bred to say so); and had made, as she must confess, a runaway match with Ensign Fitzgerald Fitzsimons. Had I been in Donegal?--No! That was a pity. The Captain's father possesses a hundred thousand acres there, and Fitzsimonsburgh Castle's the finest mansion in Ireland. Captain Fitzsimons is the eldest son; and, though he has quarrelled with his father, must inherit the vast property. She went on to tell me about the balls at Dublin, the banquets at the Castle, the horse- races at the Phoenix, the ridottos and routs, until I became quite eager to join in those pleasures; and I only felt grieved to think that my position would render secrecy necessary, and prevent me from being presented at the Court, of which the Fitzsimonses were the most elegant ornaments. How different was her lively rattle to that of the vulgar wenches at the Kilwangan assemblies! In every sentence she mentioned a lord or a person of quality. She evidently spoke French and Italian, of the former of which languages I have said I knew a few words; and, as for her English accent, why, perhaps I was no judge of that, for, to say the truth, she was the first REAL English person I had ever met. She recommended me, further, to be very cautious with regard to the company I should meet at Dublin, where rogues and adventurers of all countries abounded; and my delight and gratitude to her may be imagined, when, as our conversation grew more intimate (as we sat over our dessert), she kindly offered to accommodate me with lodgings in her own house, where her Fitzsimons, she said, would welcome with delight her gallant young preserver.
'Indeed, madam,' said I, 'I have preserved nothing for you.' Which was perfectly true; for had I not come up too late after the robbery to prevent the highwayman from carrying off her money and pearls?
'And sure, ma'am, them wasn't much,' said Sullivan, the blundering servant, who had been so frightened at Freny's approach, and was waiting on us at dinner. 'Didn't he return you the thirteenpence in copper, and the watch, saying it was only pinch-beck?'
But his lady rebuked him for a saucy varlet, and turned him out of the room at once, saying to me when he had gone, 'that the fool didn't know what was the meaning of a hundred-pound bill, which was in the pocket-book that Freny took from her.' Perhaps had I been a little older in the world's experience, I should have begun to see that Madam Fitzsimons was not the person of fashion she pretended to be; but, as it was, I took all her stories for truth, and, when the landlord brought the bill for dinner, paid it with the air of a lord. Indeed, she made no motion to produce the two pieces I had lent to her; and so we rode on slowly towards Dublin, into which city we made our entrance at nightfall. The rattle and splendour of the coaches, the flare of the linkboys, the number and magnificence of the houses, struck me with the greatest wonder; though I was careful to disguise this feeling, according to my dear mother's directions, who told me that it was the mark of a man of fashion never to wonder at anything, and never to admit that any house, equipage, or company he saw, was more splendid or genteel than what he had been accustomed to at home.
We stopped, at length, at a house of rather mean appearance, and were let into a passage by no means so clean as that at Barryville, where there was a great smell of supper and punch. A stout red-faced man, without a periwig, and in rather a tattered nightgown and cap, made his appearance from the parlour, and embraced his lady (for it was Captain Fitzsimons) with a great deal of cordiality. Indeed, when he saw that a stranger accompanied her, he embraced her more rapturously than ever. In introducing me, she persisted in saying that I was her preserver, and complimented my gallantry as much as if I had killed Freny, instead of coming up when the robbery was over. The Captain said he knew the Redmonds of Waterford intimately well: which assertion alarmed me, as I knew nothing of the family to which I was stated to belong. But I posed him, by asking WHICH of the Redmonds he knew, for I had never heard his name in our family. He said he knew the Redmonds of Redmondstown. 'Oh,' says I, 'mine are the Redmonds of Castle Redmond;' and so I put him off the scent. I went to see my nag put up at a livery-stable hard by, with the Captain's horse and chair, and returned to my entertainer.
Although there were the relics of some mutton-chops and onions on a cracked dish before him, the Captain said, 'My love, I wish I had known of your coming, for Bob Moriarty and I just finished the most delicious venison pasty, which his Grace the Lord Lieutenant sent us, with a flask of Sillery from his own cellar. You know the wine, my dear? But as bygones are bygones, and no help for them, what say ye to a fine lobster and a bottle of as good claret as any in Ireland? Betty, clear these things from the table, and make the mistress and our young friend welcome to our home.'
Not having small change, Mr. Fitzsimons asked me to lend him a tenpenny-piece to purchase the dish of lobsters; but his lady, handing out one of the guineas I had given her, bade the girl get the change for that, and procure the supper; which she did presently, bringing back only a very few shillings out of the guinea to her mistress, saying that the fishmonger had kept the remainder for an old account. 'And the more great big blundering fool you, for giving the gold piece to him,' roared Mr. Fitzsimons. I forget how many hundred guineas he said he had paid the fellow during the year.
Our supper was seasoned, if not by any great elegance, at least by a plentiful store of anecdotes, concerning the highest personages of the city; with whom, according to himself, the Captain lived on terms of the utmost intimacy. Not to be behindhand with him, I spoke of my own estates and property as if I was as rich as a duke. I told all the stories of the nobility I had ever heard from my mother, and some that, perhaps, I had invented; and ought to have been aware that my host was an impostor himself, as he did not find out my own blunders and misstatements. But youth is ever too confident. It was some time before I knew that I had made no very desirable acquaintance in Captain Fitzsimons and his lady; and, indeed, went to bed congratulating myself upon my wonderful good luck in having, at the outset of my adventures, fallen in with so distinguished a couple.
The appearance of the chamber I occupied might, indeed, have led me to imagine that the heir of Fitzsimonsburgh Castle, county Donegal, was not as yet reconciled with his wealthy parents; and, had I been an English lad, probably my suspicion and distrust would have been aroused instantly. But perhaps, as the reader knows, we are not so particular in Ireland on the score of neatness as people are in this precise country; hence the disorder of my bedchamber did not strike me so much. For were not all the windows broken and stuffed with rags even at Castle Brady, my uncle's superb mansion? Was there ever a lock to the doors there, or if a lock, a handle to the lock or a hasp to fasten it to? So, though my bedroom boasted of these inconveniences, and a few more; though my counterpane was evidently a greased brocade dress of Mrs. Fitzsimons's, and my cracked toilet- glass not much bigger than a half-crown, yet I was used to this sort of ways in Irish houses, and still thought myself in that of a man of fashion. There was no lock to the drawers, which, when they DID open, were full of my hostess's rouge-pots, shoes, stays, and rags; so I allowed my wardrobe to remain in my valise, but set out my silver dressing-apparatus upon the ragged cloth on the drawers, where it shone to great advantage.When Sullivan appeared in the morning, I asked him about my mare, which he informed me was doing well. I then bade him bring me hot shaving-water, in a loud dignified tone.
'Hot shaving-water!' says he, bursting out laughing (and I confess not without reason). 'Is it yourself you're going to shave?' said he. 'And maybe when I bring you up the water I'll bring you up the cat too, and you can shave her.' I flung a boot at the scoundrel's head in reply to this impertinence, and was soon with my friends in the parlour for breakfast. There was a hearty welcome, and the same cloth that had been used the night before: as I recognised by the black mark of the Irish-stew dish, and the stain left by a pot of porter at supper.
My host greeted me with great cordiality; Mrs. Fitzsimons said I was an elegant figure for the Phoenix; and indeed, without vanity, I may say of myself that there were worselooking fellows in Dublin than I. I had not the powerful chest and muscular proportion which I have since attained (to be exchanged, alas! for gouty legs and chalk- stones in my fingers; but 'tis the way of mortality), but I had arrived at near my present growth of six feet, and with my hair in buckle, a handsome lace jabot and wristbands to my shirt, and a red plush waistcoat, barred with gold, looked the gentleman I was born. I wore my drab coat with plate buttons, that was grown too small for me, and quite agreed with Captain Fitzsimons that I must pay a visit to his tailor, in order to procure myself a coat more fitting my size.
'I needn't ask whether you had a comfortable bed,' said he. 'Young Fred Pimpleton (Lord Pimpleton's second son) slept in it for seven months, during which he did me the honour to stay with me, and if HE was satisfied, I don't know who else wouldn't be.'
After breakfast we walked out to see the town, and Mr. Fitzsimons introduced me to several of his acquaintances whom we met, as his particular young friend Mr. Redmond, of Waterford county; he also presented me at his hatter's and tailor's as a gentleman of great expectations and large property; and although I told the latter that I should not pay him ready cash for more than one coat, which fitted me to a nicety, yet he insisted upon making me several, which I did not care to refuse. The Captain, also, who certainly wanted such a renewal of raiment, told the tailor to send him home a handsome military frock, which he selected.
Then we went home to Mrs. Fitzsimons, who drove out in her chair to the Phoenix Park, where a review was, and where numbers of the young gentry were round about her; to all of whom she presented me as her preserver of the day before. Indeed, such was her complimentary account of me, that before half-an-hour I had got to be considered as a young gentleman of the highest family in the land, related to all the principal nobility, a cousin of Captain Fitzsimons, and heir to L10,000 a year. Fitzsimons said he had ridden over every inch of my estate; and 'faith, as he chose to tell these stories for me, I let him have his way--indeed, was not a little pleased (as youth is) to be made much of, and to pass for a great personage. I had little notion then that I had got among a set of impostors
-that Captain Fitzsimons was only an adventurer, and his lady a person of no credit; but such are the dangers to which youth is perpetually subject, and hence let young men take warning by me.
I purposely hurry over the description of my life in which the incidents were painful, of no great interest except to my unlucky self, and of which my companions were certainly not of a kind befitting my quality. The fact was, a young man could hardly have fallen into worse hands than those in which I now found myself. I have been to Donegal since, and have never seen the famous Castle of Fitzsimonsburgh, which is, likewise, unknown to the oldest inhabitants of that county; nor are the Granby Somersets much better known in Worcestershire. The couple into whose hands I had fallen were of a sort much more common then than at present, for the vast wars of later days have rendered it very difficult for noblemen's footmen or hangers-on to procure commissions; and such, in feet, had been the original station of Captain Fitzsimons. Had I known his origin, of course I would have died rather than have associated with him: but in those simple days of youth I took his tales for truth, and fancied myself in high luck at being, at my outset into life, introduced into such a family. Alas! we are the sport of destiny. When I consider upon what small circumstances all the great events of my life have turned, I can hardly believe myself to have been anything but a puppet in the hands of Fate; which has played its most fantastic tricks upon me.
The Captain had been a gentleman's gentleman, and his lady of no higher rank. The society which this worthy pair kept was at a sort of ordinary which they held, and at which their friends were always welcome on payment of a certain moderate sum for their dinner. After dinner, you may be sure that cards were not wanting, and that the company who played did not play for love merely. To these parties persons of all sorts would come: young bloods from the regiments garrisoned in Dublin: young clerks from the Castle; horse-riding, wine-tippling, watchman-beating men of fashion about town, such as existed in Dublin in that day more than in any other city with which I am acquainted in Europe. I never knew young fellows make such a show, and upon such small means. I never knew young gentlemen with what I may call such a genius for idleness; and whereas an Englishman with fifty guineas a year is not able to do much more than starve, and toil like a slave in a profession, a young Irish buck with the same sum will keep his horses, and drink his bottle, and live as lazy as a lord. Here was a doctor who never had a patient, cheek by jowl with an attorney who never had a client: neither had a guinea--each had a good horse to ride in the Park, and the best of clothes to his back. A sporting clergyman without a living; several young wine-merchants, who consumed much more liquor than they had or sold; and men of similar character, formed the society at the house into which, by ill luck, I was thrown. What could happen to a man but misfortune from associating with such company?--(I have not mentioned the ladies of the society, who were, perhaps, no better than the males)--and in a very very short time I became their prey.
As for my poor twenty guineas, in three days I saw, with terror, that they had dwindled down to eight: theatres and taverns having already made such cruel inroads in my purse. At play I had lost, it is true, a couple of pieces; but seeing that every one round about me played upon honour and gave their bills, I, of course, preferred that medium to the payment of ready money, and when I lost paid on account.
With the tailors, saddlers, and others, I employed similar means; and in so far Mr. Fitzsimons's representation did me good, for the tradesmen took him at his word regarding my fortune (I have since learned that the rascal pigeoned several other young men of property), and for a little time supplied me with any goods I might be pleased to order. At length, my cash running low, I was compelled to pawn some of the suits with which the tailor had provided me; for I did not like to part with my mare, on which I daily rode in the Park, and which I loved as the gift of my respected uncle. I raised some little money, too, on a few trinkets which I had purchased of a jeweller who pressed his credit upon me; and thus was enabled to keep up appearances for yet a little time.
I asked at the post-office repeatedly for letters for Mr. Redmond, but none such had arrived; and, indeed, I always felt rather relieved when the answer of 'No' was given to me; for I was not very anxious that my mother should know my proceedings in the extravagant life which I was leading at Dublin. It could not last very long, however; for when my cash was quite exhausted, and I paid a second visit to the tailor, requesting him to make me more clothes, the fellow hummed and ha'd, and had the impudence to ask payment for those already supplied: on which, telling him I should withdraw my custom from him, I abruptly left him. The goldsmith too (a rascal Jew) declined to let me take a gold chain to which I had a fancy; and I felt now, for the first time, in some perplexity. To add to it, one of the young gentlemen who frequented Mr. Fitzsimons's boardinghouse had received from me, in the way of play, an IOU for eighteen pounds (which I lost to him at piquet), and which, owing Mr. Curbyn, the livery-stable keeper, a bill, he passed into that person's hands. Fancy my rage and astonishment, then, on going for my mare, to find that he positively refused to let me have her out of the stable, except under payment of my promissory note! It was in vain that I offered him his choice of four notes that I had in my pocket--one of Fitzsimons's for L20, one of Counsellor Mulligan's, and so forth; the dealer, who was a Yorkshireman, shook his head, and laughed at every one of them; and said, 'I tell you what, Master Redmond, you appear a young fellow of birth and fortune, and let me whisper in your ear that you have fallen into very bad hands--it's a regular gang of swindlers; and a gentleman of your rank and quality should never be seen in such company. Go home: pack up your valise, pay the little trifle to me, mount your mare, and ride back again to your parents,--it's the very best thing you can do.'
In a pretty nest of villains, indeed, was I plunged! It seemed as if all my misfortunes were to break on me at once; for, on going home and ascending to my bedroom in a disconsolate way, I found the Captain and his lady there before me, my valise open, my wardrobe lying on the ground, and my keys in the possession of the odious Fitzsimons. 'Whom have I been harbouring in my house?' roared he, as I entered the apartment. 'Who are you, sirrah?''SIRRAH! Sir,' said I, 'I am as good a gentleman as any in Ireland.' 'You're an impostor, young man: a schemer, a deceiver!' shouted the Captain. 'Repeat the words again, and I will run you through the body,' replied I.
'Tut, tut! I can play at fencing as well as you, Mr. REDMOND BARRY. Ah! you change colour, do you--your secret is known, is it? You come like a viper into the bosom of innocent families; you represent yourself as the heir of my friends the Redmonds of Castle Redmond; I inthrojuice you to the nobility and genthry of this methropolis' (the Captain's brogue was large, and his words, by preference, long); 'I take you to my tradesmen, who give you credit, and what do I find? That you have pawned the goods which you took up at their houses.''I have given them my acceptances, sir,' said I with a dignified air.
'UNDER WHAT NAME, unhappy boy--under what name?' screamed Mrs. Fitzsimons; and then, indeed, I remembered that I had signed the documents Barry Redmond instead of Redmond Barry: but what else could I do? Had not my mother desired me to take no other designation? After uttering a furious tirade against me, in which he spoke of the fatal discovery of my real name on my linen--of his misplaced confidence of affection, and the shame with which he should be obliged to meet his fashionable friends and confess that he had harboured a swindler, he gathered up the linen, clothes, silver toilet articles, and the rest of my gear, saying that he should step out that moment for an officer and give me up to the just revenge of the law.
During the first part of his speech, the thought of the imprudence of which I had been guilty, and the predicament in which I was plunged, had so puzzled and confounded me, that I had not uttered a word in reply to the fellow's abuse, but had stood quite dumb before him. The sense of danger, however, at once roused me to action. 'Hark ye, Mr. Fitzsimons,' said I; 'I will tell you why I was obliged to alter my name: which is Barry, and the best name in Ireland. I changed it, sir, because, on the day before I came to Dublin, I killed a man in deadly combat--an Englishman, sir, and a captain in His Majesty's service; and if you offer to let or hinder me in the slightest way, the same arm which destroyed him is ready to punish you; and by Heaven, sir, you or I don't leave this room alive!'
So saying, I drew my sword like lightning, and giving a 'ha! ha!' and a stamp with my foot, lunged within an inch of Fitzsimons's heart, who started back and turned deadly pale, while his wife, with a scream, flung herself between us.'Dearest Redmond,' she cried, 'be pacified. Fitzsimons, you don't want the poor child's blood. Let him escape--in Heaven's name let him go.'
'He may go hang for me,' said Fitzsimons sulkily; 'and he'd better be off quickly, too, for the jeweller and the tailor have called once, and will be here again before long. It was Moses the pawnbroker that peached: I had the news from him myself.' By which I conclude that Mr. Fitzsimons had been with the new laced frock-coat which he procured from the merchant tailor on the day when the latter first gave me credit.
What was the end of our conversation? Where was now a home for the descendant of the Barrys? Home was shut to me by my misfortune in the duel. I was expelled from Dublin by a persecution occasioned, I must confess, by my own imprudence. I had no time to wait and choose: no place of refuge to fly to. Fitzsimons, after his abuse of me, left the room growling, but not hostile; his wife insisted that we should shake hands, and he promised not to molest me. Indeed, I owed the fellow nothing; and, on the contrary, had his acceptance actually in my pocket for money lost at play. As for my friend Mrs. Fitzsimons, she sat down on the bed and fairly burst out crying. She had her faults, but her heart was kind; and though she possessed but three shillings in the world, and fourpence in copper, the poor soul made me take it before I left her--to go--whither? My mind was made up: there was a score of recruiting-parties in the town beating up for men to join our gallant armies in America and Germany; I knew where to find one of these, having stood by the sergeant at a review in the Phoenix Park, where he pointed out to me characters on the field, for which I treated him to drink.
I gave one of my shillings to Sullivan the butler of the Fitzsimonses, and, running into the street, hastened to the little alehouse at which my acquaintance was quartered, and before ten minutes had accepted His Majesty's shilling. I told him frankly that I was a young gentleman in difficulties; that I had killed an officer in a duel, and was anxious to get out of the country. But I need not have troubled myself with any explanations; King George was too much in want of men then to heed from whence they came, and a fellow of my inches, the sergeant said, was always welcome. Indeed, I could not, he said, have chosen my time better. A transport was lying at Dunleary, waiting for a wind, and on board that ship, to which I marched that night, I made some surprising discoveries, which shall be told in the next chapter.