Part 3 out of 10
remark, that it is safer to judge of people by their conduct to others
than by their manners towards ourselves; but as yet, he felt scarcely
any interest on the subject of Lady Dashfort's or Lady Isabel's
characters: however, he inquired and listened to all the evidence he
could obtain respecting this mother and daughter.
He heard terrible reports of the mischief they had done in families;
the extravagance into which they had led men; the imprudence, to say
no worse, into which they had betrayed women. Matches broken off,
reputations ruined, husbands alienated from their wives, and wives
made jealous of their husbands. But in some of these stories he
discovered exaggeration so flagrant as to make him doubt the whole; in
others, it could not be positively determined whether the mother or
daughter had been the person most to blame.
Lord Colambre always followed the charitable rule of believing only
half what the world says, and here he thought it fair to believe
which half he pleased. He farther observed, that, though all joined
in abusing these ladies in their absence, when present they seemed
universally admired. Though every body cried "shame!" and "shocking!"
yet every body visited them. No parties so crowded as Lady Dashfort's;
no party deemed pleasant or fashionable where Lady Dashfort or Lady
Isabel was not. The bon-mots of the mother were every where repeated;
the dress and air of the daughter every where imitated. Yet Lord
Colambre could not help being surprised at their popularity in Dublin,
because, independently of all moral objections, there were causes of
a different sort, sufficient, he thought, to prevent Lady Dashfort
from being liked by the Irish, indeed by any society. She in general
affected to be ill-bred, and inattentive to the feelings and opinions
of others; careless whom she offended by her wit or by her decided
tone. There are some persons in so high a region of fashion, that they
imagine themselves above the thunder of vulgar censure. Lady Dashfort
felt herself in this exalted situation, and fancied she might
"Hear the innocuous thunder roll below."
Her rank was so high that none could dare to call her vulgar: what
would have been gross in any one of meaner note, in her was freedom or
originality, or Lady Dashfort's way. It was Lady Dashfort's pleasure
and pride to show her power in perverting the public taste. She often
said to those English companions with whom she was intimate, "Now see
what follies I can lead these fools into. Hear the nonsense I can make
them repeat as wit." Upon some occasion, one of her friends _ventured_
to fear that something she had said was _too strong_. "Too strong,
was it? Well, I like to be strong--woe be to the weak!" On another
occasion she was told that certain visitors had seen her ladyship
yawning. "Yawn, did I?--glad of it--the yawn sent them away, or I
should have snored;--rude, was I? they won't complain. To say I was
rude to them, would be to say, that I did not think it worth my while
to be otherwise. Barbarians! are not we the civilized English, come to
teach them manners and fashions? Whoever does not conform, and swear
allegiance too, we shall keep out of the English pale."
Lady Dashfort forced her way, and she set the fashion: fashion, which
converts the ugliest dress into what is beautiful and charming,
governs the public mode in morals and in manners; and thus, when great
talents and high rank combine, they can debase or elevate the public
With Lord Colambre she played more artfully: she drew him out in
defence of his beloved country, and gave him opportunities of
appearing to advantage; this he could not help feeling, especially
when the Lady Isabel was present. Lady Dashfort had dealt long enough
with human nature to know, that to make any man pleased with her, she
should begin by making him pleased with himself.
Insensibly the antipathy that Lord Colambre had originally felt to
Lady Dashfort wore off; her faults, he began to think, were assumed;
he pardoned her defiance of good-breeding, when he observed that she
could, when she chose it, be most engagingly polite. It was not that
she did not know what was right, but that she did not think it always
for her interest to practise it.
The party opposed to Lady Dashfort affirmed that her wit depended
merely on unexpectedness; a characteristic which may be applied to any
impropriety of speech, manner, or conduct. In some of her ladyship's
repartees, however, Lord Colambre now acknowledged there was more
than unexpectedness; there was real wit; but it was of a sort utterly
unfit for a woman, and he was sorry that Lady Isabel should hear
it. In short, exceptionable as it was altogether, Lady Dashfort's
conversation had become entertaining to him; and though he could never
esteem, or feel in the least interested about her, he began to allow
that she could be agreeable.
"Ay, I knew how it would be," said she, when some of her friends told
her this. "He began by detesting me, and did I not tell you that,
if I thought it worth my while to make him like me, he must, sooner
or later? I delight in seeing people begin with me as they do with
olives, making all manner of horrid faces, and silly protestations
that they will never touch an olive again as long as they live; but,
after a little time, these very folk grow so desperately fond of
olives, that there is no dessert without them. Isabel, child, you are
in the sweet line--but sweets cloy. You never heard of any body living
on marmalade, did ye?"
Lady Isabel answered by a sweet smile.
"To do you justice, you play Lydia Languish vastly well," pursued the
mother; "but Lydia, by herself, would soon tire; somebody must keep up
the spirit and bustle, and carry on the plot of the piece, and I am
that somebody--as you shall see. Is not that our hero's voice which I
hear on the stairs?"
It was Lord Colambre. His lordship had by this time become a constant
visitor at Lady Dashfort's. Not that he had forgotten, or that he
meant to disregard his friend Sir James Brooke's parting words. He
promised himself faithfully, that if any thing should occur to give
him reason to suspect designs, such as those to which the warning
pointed, he would be on his guard, and would prove his generalship by
an able retreat. But to imagine attacks where none were attempted,
to suspect ambuscades in the open country, would be ridiculous and
"No," thought our hero; "Heaven forefend I should be such a coxcomb
as to fancy every woman who speaks to me has designs upon my precious
heart, or on my more precious estate!" As he walked from his hotel to
Lady Dashfort's house, ingeniously wrong, he came to this conclusion,
just as he ascended the stairs, and just as her ladyship had settled
her future plan of operations.
After talking over the nothings of the day, and after having given
two or three _cuts_ at the society of Dublin, with two or three
compliments to individuals, who she knew were favourites with his
lordship, she suddenly turned to him. "My lord, I think you told me,
or my own sagacity discovered, that you want to see something of
Ireland, and that you don't intend, like most travellers, to turn
round, see nothing, and go home content."
Lord Colambre assured her ladyship that she had judged him rightly,
for that nothing would content him but seeing all that was possible to
be seen of his native country. It was for this special purpose he came
"Ah!--well--very good purpose--can't be better; but now how to
accomplish it. You know the Portuguese proverb says, 'You go to hell
for the good things you _intend_ to do, and to heaven for those you
do.' Now let us see what you will do. Dublin, I suppose, you've seen
enough of by this time; through and through--round and round--this
makes me first giddy, and then sick. Let me show you the country--not
the face of it, but the body of it--the people.--Not Castle this, or
Newtown that, but their inhabitants. I know them; I have the key, or
the pick-lock to their minds. An Irishman is as different an animal on
his guard and off his guard, as a miss in school from a miss out of
school. A fine country for game, I'll show you; and if you are a good
marksman, you may have plenty of shots 'at folly as it flies.'"
Lord Colambre smiled.
"As to Isabel," pursued her ladyship, "I shall put her in charge of
Heathcock, who is going with us. She won't thank me for that, but you
will. Nay, no fibs, man; you know, I know, as who does not that has
seen the world? that, though a pretty woman is a mighty pretty thing,
yet she is confoundedly in one's way, when any thing else is to be
seen, heard,--or understood."
Every objection anticipated and removed, and so far a prospect held
out of attaining all the information he desired, with more than all
the amusement he could have expected, Lord Colambre seemed much
tempted to accept the invitation; but he hesitated, because, as he
said, her ladyship might be going to pay visits where he was not
"Bless you! don't let that be a stumbling-block in the way of your
tender conscience. I am going to Killpatricks-town, where you'll
be as welcome as light. You know them, they know you; at least you
shall have a proper letter of invitation from my Lord and my Lady
Killpatrick, and all that. And as to the rest, you know a young man is
always welcome every where, a young nobleman kindly welcome--I won't
say such a young man, and such a young nobleman, for that might put
you to your bows or your blushes--but _nobilitas_ by itself, nobility
is virtue enough in all parties, in all families, where there are
girls, and of course balls, as there are always at Killpatricks-town.
Don't be alarmed; you shall not be forced to dance, or asked to marry.
I'll be your security. You shall be at full liberty; and it is a house
where you can do just what you will. Indeed, I go to no others. These
Killpatricks are the best creatures in the world; they think nothing
good or grand enough for me. If I'd let them, they would lay down
cloth of gold over their bogs for me to walk upon. Good-hearted
beings!" added Lady Dashfort, marking a cloud gathering on Lord
Colambre's countenance. "I laugh at them, because I love them. I could
not love any thing I might not laugh at--your lordship excepted. So
you'll come--that's settled."
And so it was settled. Our hero went to Killpatricks-town.
"Every thing here sumptuous and unfinished, you see," said Lady
Dashfort to Lord Colambre, the day after their arrival. "All begun as
if the projectors thought they had the command of the mines of Peru,
and ended as if the possessors had not sixpence. Luxuries enough for
an English prince of the blood: comforts not enough for an English
yeoman. And you may be sure that great repairs and alterations have
gone on to fit this house for our reception, and for our English
eyes!--Poor people!--English visitors, in this point of view, are
horribly expensive to the Irish. Did you ever hear, that in the last
century, or in the century before the last, to put my story far enough
back, so that it shall not touch any body living; when a certain
English nobleman, Lord Blank A----, sent to let his Irish friend, Lord
Blank B----, know that he and all his train were coming over to pay
him a visit; the Irish nobleman, Blank B----, knowing the deplorable
condition of his castle, sat down fairly to calculate whether it would
cost him most to put the building in good and sufficient repair,
fit to receive these English visitors, or to burn it to the ground.
He found the balance to be in favour of burning, which was wisely
accomplished next day. Perhaps Killpatrick would have done well
to follow this example. Resolve me which is worst, to be burnt
out of house and home, or to be eaten out of house and home. In
this house, above and below stairs, including first and second
table, housekeeper's room, lady's maids' room, butler's room, and
gentleman's, one hundred and four people sit down to dinner every
day, as Petito informs me, besides kitchen boys, and what they call
_char_-women, who never sit down, but who do not eat or waste the less
for that; and retainers and friends, friends to the fifth and sixth
generation, who 'must get their bit and their sup;' for 'sure, it's
only Biddy,' they say;" continued Lady Dashfort, imitating their Irish
brogue. "And 'sure, 'tis nothing at all, out of all his honour my lord
has. How could he _feel_ it?--Long life to him!--He's not that way:
not a couple in all Ireland, and that's saying a great dale, looks
less after their own, nor is more off-handeder, or open-hearteder, or
greater openhouse-keeper, _nor_ my Lord and my Lady Killpatrick.'
Now there's encouragement for a lord and a lady to ruin themselves."
[Footnote 1: Fact.]
[Footnote 2: _Feel_ it, become sensible of it, know it.]
[Footnote 3: _Nor_, than.]
Lady Dashfort imitated the Irish brogue in perfection; boasted that
"she was mistress of fourteen different brogues, and had brogues for
all occasions." By her mixture of mimicry, sarcasm, exaggeration, and
truth, she succeeded continually in making Lord Colambre laugh at
every thing at which she wished to make him laugh; at every _thing_,
but not at every _body_: whenever she became personal, he became
serious, or at least endeavoured to become serious; and if he could
not instantly resume the command of his risible muscles, he reproached
"It is shameful to laugh at these people, indeed, Lady Dashfort, in
their own house--these hospitable people, who are entertaining us."
"Entertaining us! true, and if we are _entertained_, how can we help
All expostulation was thus turned off by a jest, as it was her
pride to make Lord Colambre laugh in spite of his better feelings
and principles. This he saw, and this seemed to him to be her sole
object; but there he was mistaken. _Off-handed_ as she pretended to
be, none dealt more in the _impromptu fait à loisir_; and, mentally
short-sighted as she affected to be, none had more _longanimity_ for
their own interest.
It was her settled purpose to make the Irish and Ireland ridiculous
and contemptible to Lord Colambre; to disgust him with his native
country; to make him abandon the wish of residing on his own estate.
To confirm him an absentee was her object, previously to her ultimate
plan of marrying him to her daughter. Her daughter was poor, she would
therefore be glad to _get_ an Irish peer for her; but would be very
sorry, she said, to see Isabel banished to Ireland; and the young
widow declared she could never bring herself to be buried alive in
In addition to these considerations, Lady Dashfort received certain
hints from Mrs. Petito, which worked all to the same point.
"Why, yes, my lady; I heard a great deal about all that, when I was
at Lady Clonbrony's," said Petito, one day, as she was attending at
her lady's toilette, and encouraged to begin chattering. "And I own
I was originally under the universal error that my Lord Colambre was
to be married to the great heiress, Miss Broadhurst; but I have been
converted and reformed on that score, and am at present quite in
another way of thinking."
Petito paused, in hopes that her lady would ask what was her present
way of thinking? But Lady Dashfort, certain that she would tell her
without being asked, did not take the trouble to speak, particularly
as she did not choose to appear violently interested on the subject.
"My present way of thinking," resumed Petito, "is in consequence of
my having, with my own eyes and ears, witnessed and overheard his
lordship's behaviour and words, the morning he was coming away from
_Lunnun_ for Ireland; when he was morally certain nobody was up, nor
overhearing nor overseeing him, there did I notice him, my lady,
stopping in the antechamber, ejaculating over one of Miss Nugent's
gloves, which he had picked up. 'Limerick!' said he, quite loud enough
to himself; for it was a Limerick glove, my lady--'Limerick!--dear
Ireland! she loves you as well as I do!'--or words to that effect;
and then a sigh, and down stairs and off. So, thinks I, now the cat's
out of the bag. And I wouldn't give much myself for Miss Broadhurst's
chance of that young lord, with all her Bank stock, scrip, and
_omnum_. Now, I see how the land lies, and I'm sorry for it; for she's
no _fortin_; and she's so proud, she never said a hint to me of the
matter: but my Lord Colambre is a sweet gentleman; and--"
"Petito! don't run on so; you must not meddle with what you don't
understand: the Miss Killpatricks, to be sure, are sweet girls,
particularly the youngest."
Her ladyship's toilette was finished; and she left Petito to go down
to my Lady Killpatrick's woman, to tell, as a very great secret, the
schemes that were in contemplation, among the higher powers, in favour
of the youngest of the Miss Killpatricks.
"So Ireland is at the bottom of his heart, is it?" repeated Lady
Dashfort to herself: "it shall not be long so."
From this time forward, not a day, scarcely an hour passed, but her
ladyship did or said something to depreciate the country, or its
inhabitants, in our hero's estimation. With treacherous ability,
she knew and followed all the arts of misrepresentation; all those
injurious arts which his friend, Sir James Brooke, had, with such
honest indignation, reprobated. She knew how, not only to seize the
ridiculous points, to make the most respectable people ridiculous,
but she knew how to select the worst instances, the worst exceptions;
and to produce them as examples, as precedents, from which to condemn
whole classes, and establish general false conclusions respecting a
In the neighbourhood of Killpatrick's-town, Lady Dashfort said,
there were several _squireens_, or little squires; a race of men who
have succeeded to the _buckeens_, described by Young and Crumpe.
_Squireens_ are persons who, with good long leases, or valuable farms,
possess incomes from three to eight hundred a year, who keep a pack
of hounds; _take out_ a commission of the peace, sometimes before
they can spell (as her ladyship said), and almost always before they
know any thing of law or justice. Busy and loud about small matters;
_jobbers at assizes_; combining with one another, and trying upon
every occasion, public or private, to push themselves forward, to the
annoyance of their superiors, and the terror of those below them.
In the usual course of things, these men are not often to be found
in the society of gentry except, perhaps, among those gentlemen or
noblemen who like to see hangers-on at their, tables: or who find it
for their convenience to have underling magistrates, to _protect_
their favourites, or to propose and _carry_ jobs for them on grand
juries. At election times, however, these persons rise into sudden
importance with all who have views upon the county. Lady Dashfort
hinted to Lord Killpatrick, that her private letters from England
spoke of an approaching dissolution of parliament: she knew that, upon
this hint, a round of invitations would be sent to the squireens; and
she was morally certain that they would be more disagreeable to Lord
Colambre, and give him a worse idea of the country, than any other
people who could be produced. Day after day some of these personages
made their appearance; and Lady Dashfort took care to draw them out
upon the subjects on which she knew that they would show the most
self-sufficient ignorance, and the most illiberal spirit. They
succeeded beyond her most sanguine expectations.
"Lord Colambre! how I pity you, for being compelled to these permanent
sittings after dinner!" said Lady Isabel to him one night, when he
came late to the ladies from the dining-room.
"Lord Killpatrick insisted upon my staying to help him to push about
that never-ending, still-beginning electioneering bottle," said Lord
"Oh! if that were all; if these gentlemen would only drink:--but their
conversation!" "I don't wonder my mother dreads returning to Clonbrony
Castle, if my father must have such company as this. But, surely, it
cannot be necessary."
"Oh, indispensable! positively indispensable!" cried Lady Dashfort;
"no living in Ireland without it. You know, in every country in the
world, you must live with the people of the country, or be torn to
pieces: for my part, I should prefer being torn to pieces."
Lady Dashfort and Lady Isabel knew how to take advantage of the
contrast between their own conversation, and that of the persons by
whom Lord Colambre was so justly disgusted: they happily relieved his
fatigue with wit, satire, poetry, and sentiment; so that he every day
became more exclusively fond of their company; for Lady Killpatrick
and the Miss Killpatricks were mere commonplace people. In the
mornings, he rode or walked with Lady Dashfort and Lady Isabel: Lady
Dashfort, by way of fulfilling her promise of showing him the people,
used frequently to take him into the cabins, and talk to their
inhabitants. Lord and Lady Killpatrick, who had lived always for the
fashionable world, had taken little pains to improve the condition of
their tenants: the few attempts they had made were injudicious. They
had built ornamented, picturesque cottages, within view of their park;
and favourite followers of the family, people with half a century's
habit of indolence and dirt, were _promoted_ to these fine dwellings.
The consequences were such as Lady Dashfort delighted to point out:
every thing let to go to ruin for the want of a moment's care, or
pulled to pieces for the sake of the most surreptitious profit: the
people most assisted always appearing proportionally wretched and
discontented. No one could, with more ease and more knowledge of her
ground, than Lady Dashfort, do the _dishonours_ of a country. In
every cabin that she entered, by the first glance of her eye at the
head, kerchiefed in no comely guise, or by the drawn-down corners of
the mouth, or by the bit of a broken pipe, which in Ireland never
characterizes _stout labour_, or by the first sound of the voice, the
drawling accent on "your honour," or, "my lady," she could distinguish
the proper objects of her charitable designs, that is to say, those
of the old uneducated race, whom no one can help, because they will
never help themselves. To these she constantly addressed herself,
making them give, in all their despairing tones, a history of their
complaints and grievances; then asking them questions, aptly contrived
to expose their habits of self-contradiction, their servility and
flattery one moment, and their litigious and encroaching spirit the
next: thus giving Lord Colambre the most unfavourable idea of the
disposition and character of the lower class of the Irish people. Lady
Isabel the while standing by, with the most amiable air of pity, with
expressions of the finest moral sensibility, softening all her mother
said, finding ever some excuse for the poor creatures, and following,
with angelic sweetness, to heal the wounds her mother inflicted.
When Lady Dashfort thought she had sufficiently worked upon Lord
Colambre's mind to weaken his enthusiasm for his native country; and
when Lady Isabel had, by the appearance of every virtue, added to
a delicate preference, if not partiality for our hero, ingratiated
herself into his good opinion, and obtained an interest in his mind,
the wily mother ventured an attack of a more decisive nature; and so
contrived it was, that if it failed, it should appear to have been
made without design to injure, and in total ignorance.
One day, Lady Dashfort, who, in fact, was not proud of her family,
though she pretended to be so, was herself prevailed on, though with
much difficulty, by Lady Killpatrick, to do the very thing she wanted
to do, to show her genealogy, which had been beautifully blazoned, and
which was to be produced in evidence in the lawsuit that brought her
to Ireland. Lord Colambre stood politely looking on and listening,
while her ladyship explained the splendid intermarriages of her
family, pointing to each medallion that was filled gloriously with
noble, and even with royal names, till at last she stopped short, and
covering one medallion with her finger, she said, "Pass over that,
dear Lady Killpatrick. You are not to see that, Lord Colambre--that's
a little blot in our scutcheon. You know, Isabel, we never talk of
that prudent match of great uncle John's: what could he expect by
marrying into _that_ family, where, you know, all the men were not
_sans peur_, and none of the women _sans reproche_?"
"Oh, mamma!" cried Lady Isabel, "not one exception!"
"Not one, Isabel," persisted Lady Dashfort: "there was Lady ----, and
the other sister, that married the man with the long nose; and the
daughter again, of whom they contrived to make an honest woman, by
getting her married in time to a _blue riband_, and who contrived to
get herself into Doctors' Commons the very next year."
"Well, dear mamma, that is enough, and too much. Oh! pray don't go
on," cried Lady Isabel, who had appeared very much distressed during
her mother's speech. "You don't know what you are saying: indeed,
ma'am, you don't."
"Very likely, child; but that compliment I can return to you on the
spot, and with interest; for you seem to me, at this instant, not to
know either what you are saying, or what you are doing. Come, come,
"Oh, no, ma'am--Pray say no more; I will explain myself another time."
"Nay, there you are wrong, Isabel; in point of good-breeding, any
thing is better than hints and mystery. Since I have been so unlucky
as to touch upon the subject, better go through with it, and, with
all the boldness of innocence, I ask the question, Are you, my Lord
Colambre, or are you not, related to or connected with any of the St.
"Not that I know of," said Lord Colambre; "but I really am so bad a
genealogist, that I cannot answer positively."
"Then I must put the substance of my question into a new form. Have
you, or have you not, a cousin of the name of Nugent?"
"Miss Nugent!--Grace Nugent!--Yes," said Lord Colambre, with as much
firmness of voice as he could command, and with as little change
of countenance as possible; but, as the question came upon him so
unexpectedly, it was not in his power to answer with an air of
absolute indifference and composure.
"And her mother was--" said Lady Dashfort.
"My aunt, by marriage; her maiden name was Reynolds, I think. But she
died when I was quite a child. I know very little about her. I never
saw her in my life; but I am certain she was a Reynolds."
"Oh, my dear lord," continued Lady Dashfort; "I am perfectly aware
that she did take and bear the name of Reynolds; but that was not her
maiden name--her maiden name was--; but perhaps it is a family secret
that has been kept, for some good reason, from you, and from the poor
girl herself; the maiden name was St. Omar, depend upon it. Nay, I
would not have told this to you, my lord, if I could have conceived
that it would affect you so violently," pursued Lady Dashfort, in a
tone of raillery; "you see you are no worse off than we are. We have
an intermarriage with the St. Omars. I did not think you would be so
much shocked at a discovery, which proves that our family and yours
have some little connexion."
Lord Colambre endeavoured to answer, and mechanically said something
about "happy to have the honour." Lady Dashfort, truly happy to see
that her blow had hit the mark so well, turned from his lordship
without seeming to observe how seriously he was affected; and Lady
Isabel sighed, and looked with compassion on Lord Colambre, and then
reproachfully at her mother. But Lord Colambre heeded not her looks,
and heard none of her sighs; he heard nothing, saw nothing, though his
eyes were intently fixed on the genealogy, on which Lady Dashfort was
still descanting to Lady Killpatrick. He took the first opportunity he
could of quitting the room, and went out to take a solitary walk.
"There he is, departed, but not in peace, to reflect upon what has
been said," whispered Lady Dashfort to her daughter. "I hope it will
do him a vast deal of good."
"None of the women _sans reproche_! None!--without one exception,"
said Lord Colambre to himself; "and Grace Nugent's mother a St.
Omar!--Is it possible? Lady Dashfort seems certain. She could not
assert a positive falsehood--no motive. She does not know that Miss
Nugent is the person to whom I am attached--she spoke at random. And
I have heard it first from a stranger,--not from my mother. Why was
it kept secret from me? Now I understand the reason why my mother
evidently never wished that I should think of Miss Nugent--why she
always spoke so vehemently against the marriages of relations, of
cousins. Why not tell me the truth? It would have had the strongest
effect, had she known my mind."
Lord Colambre had the greatest dread of marrying any woman whose
mother had conducted herself ill. His reason, his prejudices, his
pride, his delicacy, and even his limited experience were all against
it. All his hopes, his plans of future happiness, were shaken to their
very foundation; he felt as if he had received a blow that stunned his
mind, and from which he could not recover his faculties. The whole
of that day he was like one in a dream. At night the painful idea
continually recurred to him; and whenever he was fallen asleep, the
sound of Lady Dashfort's voice returned upon his ear, saying the
words, "What could he expect when he married one of the St. Omars?
None of the women _sans reproche_."
In the morning he rose early; and the first thing he did was to write
a letter to his mother, requesting (unless there was some important
reason for her declining to answer the question) that she would
immediately relieve his mind from a great _uneasiness_ (he altered the
word four times, but at last left it uneasiness). He stated what he
had heard, and besought his mother to tell him the whole truth without
One morning Lady Dashfort had formed an ingenious scheme for leaving
Lady Isabel and Lord Colambre _tête-à-tête_; but the sudden entrance
of Heathcock disconcerted her intentions. He came to beg Lady
Dashfort's interest with Count O'Halloran, for permission to hunt
and shoot on his grounds next season.--"Not for myself, 'pon honour,
but for two officers who are quartered at the next _town_ here, who
will indubitably hang or drown themselves if they are debarred from
"Who is this Count O'Halloran?" said Lord Colambre.
Miss White, Lady Killpatrick's companion, said, "he was a great
oddity;" Lady Dashfort, "that he was singular;" and the clergyman
of the parish, who was at breakfast, declared "that he was a man of
uncommon knowledge, merit, and politeness."
"All I know of him," said Heathcock, "is, that he is a great
sportsman, with a long queue, a gold-laced hat, and long skirts to a
Lord Colambre expressed a wish to see this extraordinary personage;
and Lady Dashfort, to cover her former design, and, perhaps thinking
absence might be as effectual as too much propinquity, immediately
offered to call upon the officers in their way, and carry them with
Heathcock and Lord Colambre to Halloran Castle.
Lady Isabel retired with much mortification, but with becoming grace;
and Major Benson and Captain Williamson were taken to the count's.
Major Benson, who was a famous _whip_, took his seat on the box of
the barouche; and the rest of the party had the pleasure of her
ladyship's conversation for three or four miles: of her ladyship's
conversation--for Lord Colambre's thoughts were far distant; Captain
Williamson had not any thing to say; and Heathcock nothing but "Eh!
re'lly now!--'pon honour!"
They arrived at Halloran Castle--a fine old building, part of it in
ruins, and part repaired with great judgment and taste. When the
carriage stopped, a respectable-looking man-servant appeared on the
steps, at the open hall-door.
Count O'Halloran was out fishing; but his servant said that he would
he at home immediately, if Lady Dashfort and the gentlemen would be
pleased to walk in.
On one side of the lofty and spacious hall stood the skeleton of an
elk; on the other side, the perfect skeleton of a moose-deer, which,
as the servant said, his master had made out, with great care, from
the different bones of many of this curious species of deer, found
in the lakes in the neighbourhood. The leash of officers witnessed
their wonder with sundry strange oaths and exclamations.--"Eh! 'pon
honour--re'lly now!" said Heathcock; and, too genteel to wonder at
or admire any thing in the creation, dragged out his watch with some
difficulty, saying, "I wonder now whether they are likely to think of
giving us any thing to eat in this place?" And, turning his back upon
the moose-deer, he straight walked out again upon the steps, called to
his groom, and began to make some inquiry about his led horse. Lord
Colambre surveyed the prodigious skeletons with rational curiosity,
and with that sense of awe and admiration, by which a superior mind is
always struck on beholding any of the great works of Providence.
"Come, my dear lord!" said Lady Dashfort; "with our sublime
sensations, we are keeping my old friend, Mr. Ulick Brady, this
venerable person, waiting to show us into the reception-room."
The servant bowed respectfully--more respectfully than servants of
"My lady, the reception-room has been lately painted,--the smell of
paint may be disagreeable; with your leave, I will take the liberty of
showing you into my master's study."
He opened the door, went in before her, and stood holding up his
finger, as if making a signal of silence to some one within. Her
ladyship entered, and found herself in the midst of an odd assembly:
an eagle, a goat, a dog, an otter, several gold and silver fish in a
glass globe, and a white mouse in a cage. The eagle, quick of eye but
quiet of demeanour, was perched upon his stand; the otter lay under
the table, perfectly harmless; the Angora goat, a beautiful and
remarkably little creature of its kind, with long, curling, silky
hair, was walking about the room with the air of a beauty and a
favourite; the dog, a tall Irish greyhound--one of the few of that
fine race, which is now almost extinct--had been given to Count
O'Halloran by an Irish nobleman, a relation of Lady Dashfort's. This
dog, who had formerly known her ladyship, looked at her with ears
erect, recognized her, and went to meet her the moment she entered.
The servant answered for the peaceable behaviour of all the rest of
the company of animals, and retired. Lady Dashfort began to feed the
eagle from a silver plate on his stand; Lord Colambre examined the
inscription on his collar; the other men stood in amaze. Heathcock,
who came in last, astonished out of his constant "Eh! re'lly now!"
the moment he put himself in at the door, exclaimed, "Zounds! what's
all this live lumber?" and he stumbled over the goat, who was at that
moment crossing the way. The colonel's spur caught in the goat's curly
beard; the colonel shook his foot, and entangled the spur worse and
worse; the goat struggled and butted; the colonel skated forward on
the polished oak floor, balancing himself with outstretched arms.
The indignant eagle screamed, and, passing by, perched on Heathcock's
shoulders. Too well bred to have recourse to the terrors of his beak,
he scrupled not to scream, and flap his wings about the colonel's
ears. Lady Dashfort, the while, threw herself back in her chair,
laughing, and begging Heathcock's pardon. "Oh, take care of the dog,
my dear colonel!" cried she; "for this kind of dog seizes his enemy by
the back, and shakes him to death." The officers, holding their sides,
laughed and begged--no pardon; while Lord Colambre, the only person
who was not absolutely incapacitated, tried to disentangle the spur,
and to liberate the colonel from the goat, and the goat from the
colonel; an attempt in which he at last succeeded, at the expense of
a considerable portion of the goat's beard. The eagle, however, still
kept his place; and, yet mindful of the wrongs of his insulted friend
the goat, had stretched his wings to give another buffet. Count
O'Halloran entered; and the bird, quitting his prey, flew down to
greet his master. The count was a fine old military-looking gentleman,
fresh from fishing: his fishing accoutrements hanging carelessly
about him, he advanced, unembarrassed, to Lady Dashfort; and received
his other guests with a mixture of military ease and gentlemanlike
Without adverting to the awkward and ridiculous situation in which he
had found poor Heathcock, he apologized in general for his troublesome
favourites. "For one of them," said he, patting the head of the dog,
which lay quiet at Lady Dashfort's feet, "I see I have no need to
apologize; he is where he ought to be. Poor fellow! he has never lost
his taste for the good company to which he was early accustomed. As
to the rest," said he, turning to Lady Dashfort, "a mouse, a bird,
and a fish, are, you know, tribute from earth, air, and water, to a
"But from no barbarous Scythian!" said Lord Colambre, smiling. The
count looked at Lord Colambre, as at a person worthy his attention;
but his first care was to keep the peace between his loving subjects
and his foreign visitors. It was difficult to dislodge the old
settlers, to make room for the new comers: but he adjusted these
things with admirable facility; and, with a master's hand and master's
eye, compelled each favourite to retreat into the back settlements.
With becoming attention, he stroked and kept quiet old Victory, his
eagle, who eyed Colonel Heathcock still, as if he did not like him;
and whom the colonel eyed as if he wished his neck fairly wrung off.
The little goat had nestled himself close up to his liberator, Lord
Colambre, and lay perfectly quiet, with his eyes closed, going very
wisely to sleep, and submitting philosophically to the loss of one
half of his beard. Conversation now commenced, and was carried on by
Count O'Halloran with much ability and spirit, and with such quickness
of discrimination and delicacy of taste, as quite surprised and
delighted our hero. To the lady the count's attention was first
directed: he listened to her as she spoke, bending with an air of
deference and devotion. She made her request for permission for Major
Benson and Captain Williamson to hunt and shoot in his grounds next
season: this was instantly granted.
Her ladyship's requests were to him commands, the count said.--His
gamekeeper should be instructed to give the gentlemen, her friends,
every liberty, and all possible assistance.
Then, turning to the officers, he said, he had just heard that
several regiments of English militia had lately landed in Ireland;
that one regiment was arrived at Killpatrick's-town. He rejoiced in
the advantages Ireland, and he hoped he might be permitted to add,
England, would probably derive from the exchange of the militia
of both countries: habits would be improved, ideas enlarged. The
two countries have the same interest; and, from the inhabitants
discovering more of each other's good qualities, and interchanging
little good offices in common life, their esteem and affection for
each other would increase, and rest upon the firm basis of mutual
To all this Major Benson answered only, "We are not militia officers."
"The major looks so like a stuffed man of straw," whispered Lady
Dashfort to Lord Colambre, "and the captain so like the king of
spades, putting forth one manly leg."
Count O'Halloran now turned the conversation to field sports, and then
the captain and major opened at once.
"Pray now, sir," said the major, "you fox-hunt in this country, I
suppose; and now do you manage the thing here as we do? Over night,
you know, before the hunt, when the fox is out, stopping up the earths
of the cover we mean to draw, and all the rest for four miles round.
Next morning we assemble at the cover's side, and the huntsman throws
in the hounds. The gossip here is no small part of the entertainment:
but as soon as we hear the hounds give tongue--"
"The favourite hounds," interposed Williamson.
"The favourite hounds, to be sure," continued Benson: "there is a dead
silence till pug is well out of cover, and the whole pack well in:
then cheer the hounds with tally-ho! till your lungs crack. Away he
goes in gallant style, and the whole field is hard up, till pug takes
a stiff country: then they who haven't pluck lag, see no more of him,
and, with a fine blazing scent, there are but few of us in at the
"Well, we are fairly in at the death, I hope," said Lady Dashfort: "I
was thrown out sadly at one time in the chase."
Lord Colambre, with the count's permission, took up a book in which
the count's pencil lay, "Pasley on the Military Policy of Great
Britain;" it was marked with many notes of admiration, and with hands
pointing to remarkable passages.
"That is a book that leaves a strong impression on the mind," said the
Lord Colambre read one of the marked passages, beginning with "All
that distinguishes a soldier in outward appearance from a citizen
is so trifling--" but at this instant our hero's attention was
distracted by seeing in a black-letter book this title of a chapter:
"Burial-place of the Nugents."
"Pray now, sir," said Captain Williamson, "if I don't interrupt you,
as you are a fisherman too; now in Ireland do you, _Mr._--"
A smart pinch on his elbow from his major, who stood behind him,
stopped the captain short, as he pronounced the word _Mr._ Like all
awkward people, he turned directly to ask, by his looks, what was the
The major took advantage of his discomfiture, and, stepping before
him, determined to have the fishing to himself, and went on with,
"Count O'Halloran, I presume you understand fishing, too, as well as
The count bowed: "I do not presume to say that, sir."
"But pray, count, in this country, do you arm your hook this ways?
Give me leave;" taking the whip from Williamson's reluctant hand,
"this ways, laying the outermost part of your feather this fashion
next to your hook, and the point next to your shank, this wise, and
that wise; and then, sir,--count, you take the hackle of a cock's
"A plover's topping's better," said Williamson.
"And work your gold and silver thread," pursued Benson, "up to your
wings, and when your head's made, you fasten all."
"But you never showed how your head's made," interrupted Williamson.
"The gentleman knows how a head's made; any man can make a head, I
suppose: so, sir, you fasten all."
"You'll never get your head fast on that way, while the world stands,"
"Fast enough for all purposes; I'll bet you a rump and dozen, captain:
and then, sir,--count, you divide your wings with a needle."
"A pin's point will do," said Williamson.
The count, to reconcile matters, produced from an Indian cabinet,
which he had opened for Lady Dashfort's inspection, a little basket
containing a variety of artificial flies of curious construction,
which, as he spread them on the table, made Williamson and Benson's
eyes almost sparkle with delight. There was the _dun-fly_, for the
month of March; and the _stone-fly_, much in vogue for April; and the
_ruddy-fly_, of red wool, black silk, and red capon's feathers.
Lord Colambre, whose head was in the burial-place of the Nugents,
wished them all at the bottom of the sea.
"And the _green-fly_, and the _moorish-fly_!" cried Benson, snatching
them up with transport; "and, chief, the _sad-yellow-fly_, in which
the fish delight in June; the _sad-yellow-fly_, made with the
buzzard's wings, bound with black braked hemp, and the _shell-fly_,
for the middle of July, made of greenish wool, wrapped about with the
herle of a peacock's tail, famous for creating excellent sport." All
these and more were spread upon the table before the sportsmen's
"Capital flies! capital, faith!" cried Williamson.
"Treasures, faith, real treasures, by G--!" cried Benson.
"Eh! 'pon honour! re'lly now," were the first words which Heathcock
had uttered since his battle with the goat.
"My dear Heathcock, are you alive still?" said Lady Dashfort: "I had
really forgotten your existence."
So had Count O'Halloran, but he did not say so.
"Your ladyship has the advantage of me there," said Heathcock,
stretching himself; "I wish I could forget my existence, for, in my
mind, existence is a horrible _bore_."
"I thought you _was_ a sportsman," said Williamson.
"And a fisherman?"
"Why look you there, sir," pointing to the flies, "and tell a body
life's a bore."
"One can't _always_ fish or shoot, I apprehend, sir," said Heathcock.
"Not always--but sometimes," said Williamson, laughing; "for I suspect
shrewdly you've forgot some of your sporting in Bond-street."
"Eh! 'pon honour! re'lly now!" said the colonel, retreating again
to his safe entrenchment of affectation, from which he never could
venture without imminent danger.
"'Pon honour," cried Lady Dashfort, "I can swear for Heathcock, that
I have eaten excellent hares and ducks of his shooting, which, to my
knowledge," added she, in a loud whisper, "he bought in the market."
"_Emptum aprum!_" said Lord Colambre to the count, without danger of
being understood by those whom it concerned.
The count smiled a second time; but politely turning the attention of
the company from the unfortunate colonel, by addressing himself to
the laughing sportsmen, "Gentlemen, you seem to value these," said he,
sweeping the artificial flies from the table into the little basket
from which they had been taken; "would you do me the honour to accept
of them? They are all of my own making, and consequently of Irish
manufacture." Then, ringing the bell, he asked Lady Dashfort's
permission to have the basket put into her carriage.
Benson and Williamson followed the servant, to prevent them from being
tossed into the boot. Heathcock stood still in the middle of the room,
Count O'Halloran turned from him to Lord Colambre, who had just got
happily to _the burial-place of the Nugents_, when Lady Dashfort,
coming between them, and spying the title of the chapter, exclaimed,
"What have you there?--Antiquities! my delight!--but I never look at
engravings when I can see realities."
Lord Colambre was then compelled to follow, as she led the way, into
the hall, where the count took down golden ornaments, and brass-headed
spears, and jointed horns of curious workmanship, that had been found
on his estate; and he told of spermaceti wrapped in carpets, and he
showed small urns, enclosing ashes; and from among these urns he
selected one, which he put into the hands of Lord Colambre, telling
him, that it had been lately found in an old abbey-ground in his
neighbourhood, which had been the burial-place of some of the Nugent
"I was just looking at the account of it, in the book which you saw
open on my table.--And as you seem to take an interest in that family,
my lord, perhaps," said the count, "you may think this urn worth your
Lord Colambre said, "It would be highly valuable to him--as the
Nugents were his near relations."
Lady Dashfort little expected this blow; she, however, carried him off
to the moose-deer, and from moose-deer to round-towers, to various
architectural antiquities, and to the real and fabulous history of
Ireland, on all which the count spoke with learning and enthusiasm.
But now, to Colonel Heathcock's great joy and relief, a handsome
collation appeared in the dining-room, of which Ulick opened the
"Count, you have made an excellent house of your castle," said Lady
"It will be, when it is finished," said the count. "I am afraid,"
added he, smiling, "I live like many other Irish gentlemen, who never
are, but always to be, blessed with a good house. I began on too large
a scale, and can never hope to live to finish it."
"'Pon honour! here's a good thing, which I hope we shall live to
finish," said Heathcock, sitting down before the collation; and
heartily did he eat of eel-pie, and of Irish ortolans , which, as
Lady Dashfort observed, "afforded him indemnity for the past, and
security for the future."
[Footnote 1: As it may be satisfactory to a large portion of the
public, and to all men of taste, the editor subjoins the following
account of the Irish ortolan, which will convince the world that this
bird is not in the class of fabulous animals:
"There is a small bird, which is said to be peculiar to the Blasquet
Islands, called by the Irish, Gourder, the English name of which I
am at a loss for, nor do I find it mentioned by naturalists. It is
somewhat larger than a sparrow; the feathers of the back are dark, and
those of the belly are white; the bill is straight, short, and thick;
and it is web-footed: they are almost one lump of fat; when roasted,
of a most delicious taste, and are reckoned to exceed an ortolan; for
which reason the gentry hereabouts call them the _Irish Ortolan_.
These birds are worthy of being transmitted a great way to market;
for ortolans, it is well known, are brought from France to supply the
markets of London."--See Smith's Account of the County of Kerry, p.
"Eh! re'lly now! your Irish ortolans are famous good eating," said
"Worth being quartered in Ireland, faith! to taste 'em," said Benson.
The count recommended to Lady Dashfort some of "that delicate
sweetmeat, the Irish plum."
"Bless me, sir,--count!" cried Williamson, "it's by far the best thing
of the kind I ever tasted in all my life: where could you get this?"
"In Dublin, at my dear Mrs. Godey's; where _only_, in his majesty's
dominions, it is to be had," said the count.
The whole vanished in a few seconds.
"'Pon honour! I do believe this is the thing the queen's so fond of,"
Then heartily did he drink of the count's excellent Hungarian wines;
and, by the common bond of sympathy between those who have no other
tastes but eating and drinking, the colonel, the major, and the
captain, were now all the best companions possible for one another.
Whilst "they prolonged the rich repast," Lady Dashfort and Lord
Colambre went to the window to admire the prospect: Lady Dashfort
asked the count the name of some distant hill.
"Ah!" said the count, "that hill was once covered with fine wood; but
it was all cut down two years ago."
"Who could have been so cruel?" said her ladyship.
"I forget the present proprietor's name," said the count; "but he
is one of those who, according to _the clause of distress_ in their
leases, _lead, drive, and carry away_, but never _enter_ their lands;
one of those enemies to Ireland--those cruel absentees!"
Lady Dashfort looked through her glass at the mountain:--Lord Colambre
sighed, and, endeavouring to pass it off with a smile, said frankly to
the count, "You are not aware, I am sure, count, that you are speaking
to the son of an Irish absentee family. Nay, do not be shocked, my
dear sir; I tell you only because I thought it fair to do so: but let
me assure you, that nothing you could say on that subject could hurt
me personally, because I feel that I am not, that I never can be, an
enemy to Ireland. An absentee, voluntarily, I never yet have been; and
as to the future, I declare--"
"I declare you know nothing of the future," interrupted Lady Dashfort,
in a half peremptory, half playful tone--"you know nothing: make no
rash vows, and you will break none."
The undaunted assurance of Lady Dashfort's genius for intrigue gave
her an air of frank imprudence, which prevented Lord Colambre from
suspecting that more was meant than met the ear. The count and he took
leave of one another with mutual regard; and Lady Dashfort rejoiced to
have got our hero out of Halloran Castle.
Lord Colambre had waited with great impatience for an answer to the
letter of inquiry which he had written about Miss Nugent's mother. A
letter from Lady Clonbrony arrived: he opened it with the greatest
eagerness--passed over "Rheumatism--warm weather--warm bath--Buxton
balls--Miss Broadhurst--your _friend_, Sir Arthur Berryl, very
assiduous!" The name of Grace Nugent he found at last, and read as
"Her mother's maiden name was _St. Omar_; and there was a _faux
pas_, certainly. She was, I am told, (for it was before my time,)
educated at a convent abroad; and there was an affair with a
Captain Reynolds, a young officer, which her friends were obliged
to hush up. She brought an infant to England with her, and took
the name of Reynolds--but none of that family would acknowledge
her: and she lived in great obscurity, till your Uncle Nugent saw,
fell in love with her, and (knowing her whole history) married
her. He adopted the child, gave her his name, and, after some
years, the whole story was forgotten. Nothing could be more
disadvantageous to Grace than to have it revived: this is the
reason we kept it secret."
Lord Colambre tore the letter to bits.
From the perturbation which Lady Dashfort saw in his countenance, she
guessed the nature of the letter which he had been reading, and for
the arrival of which he had been so impatient.
"It has worked!" said she to herself. "_Pour le coup Philippe je te
Lord Colambre appeared this day more sensible than he had ever yet
seemed to the charms of the fair Isabel.
"Many a tennis-ball, and many a heart, is caught at the rebound," said
Lady Dashfort. "Isabel! now is your time!"
And so it was--or so, perhaps, it would have been, but for a
circumstance which her ladyship, with all her genius for intrigue,
had never taken into her consideration. Count O'Halloran came to
return the visit which had been paid to him; and, in the course of
conversation, he spoke of the officers who had been introduced to him,
and told Lady Dashfort that he had heard a report which shocked him
much--he hoped it could not be true--that one of these officers had
introduced his mistress as his wife to Lady Oranmore, who lived in the
neighbourhood. This officer, it was said, had let Lady Oranmore send
her carriage for this woman; and that she had dined at Oranmore with
her ladyship and her daughters. "But I cannot believe it! I cannot
believe it to be possible, that any gentleman, that any _officer_
could do such a thing!" said the count.
"And is this all?" exclaimed Lady Dashfort. "Is this all the terrible
affair, my good count, which has brought your face to this prodigious
The count looked at Lady Dashfort with astonishment.
"Such a look of virtuous indignation," continued she, "did I never
behold on or off the stage. Forgive me for laughing, count; but,
believe me, comedy goes through the world better than tragedy, and,
take it all in all, does rather less mischief. As to the thing in
question, I know nothing about it; I dare say it is not true: but,
now, suppose it were--it is only a silly _quiz_ of a raw young officer
upon a prudish old dowager. I know nothing about it, for my part:
but, after all, what irreparable mischief has been done? Laugh at the
thing, and then it is a jest--a bad one, perhaps, but still only a
jest--and there's an end of it: but take it seriously, and there is
no knowing where it might end--in this poor man's being broke, and in
half a dozen duels, may be."
"Of that, madam," said the count, "Lady Oranmore's prudence and
presence of mind have prevented all danger. Her ladyship _would_ not
understand the insult. She said, or she acted as if she said, '_Je ne
veux rien voir, rien écouter, rien savoir._' Lady Oranmore is one of
the most respectable--"
"Count, I beg your pardon!" interrupted Lady Dashfort; "but I must
tell you, that your favourite, Lady Oranmore, has behaved very ill
to me; purposely omitted to invite Isabel to her ball; offended and
insulted me:--her praises, therefore, cannot be the most agreeable
subject of conversation you can choose for my amusement; and as to the
rest, you, who have such variety and so much politeness, will, I am
sure, have the goodness to indulge my caprice in this instance."
"I shall obey your ladyship, and be silent, whatever pleasure it might
give me to speak on that subject," said the count; "and I trust Lady
Dashfort will reward me by the assurance, that, however playfully she
may have just now spoken, she seriously disapproves, and is shocked."
"Oh, shocked! shocked to death! if that will satisfy you, my dear
The count, obviously, was not satisfied: he had civil, as well as
military courage, and his sense of right and wrong could stand against
the raillery and ridicule of a fine lady.
The conversation ended: Lady Dashfort thought it would have no farther
consequences; and she did not regret the loss of a man like Count
O'Halloran, who lived retired in his castle, and who could not have
any influence upon the opinion of the fashionable world. However, upon
turning from the count to Lord Colambre, who she thought had been
occupied with Lady Isabel, and to whom she imagined all this dispute
was uninteresting, she perceived, by his countenance, that she had
made a great mistake. Still she trusted that her power over Lord
Colambre was sufficient easily to efface whatever unfavourable
impression this conversation had made upon his mind. He had no
personal interest in the affair; and she had generally found that
people are easily satisfied about any wrong or insult, public or
private, in which they have no immediate concern. But all the charms
of her conversation were now tried in vain to reclaim him from the
reverie into which he had fallen.
His friend Sir James Brooke's parting advice occurred to our hero: his
eyes began to open to Lady Dashfort's character; and he was, from this
moment, freed from her power. Lady Isabel, however, had taken no part
in all this--she was blameless; and, independently of her mother, and
in pretended opposition of sentiment, she might have continued to
retain the influence she had gained over Lord Colambre, but that a
slight accident revealed to him _her_ real disposition.
It happened, on the evening of this day, that Lady Isabel came into
the library with one of the young ladies of the house, talking very
eagerly, without perceiving Lord Colambre, who was sitting in one of
the recesses reading.
"My dear creature, you are quite mistaken," said Lady Isabel, "he was
never a favourite of mine; I always detested him; I only flirted with
him to plague his wife. Oh, that wife! my dear Elizabeth, I do hate,"
cried she, clasping her hands, and expressing hatred with all her
soul, and with all her strength. "I detest that Lady de Cressy to such
a degree, that, to purchase the pleasure of making her feel the pangs
of jealousy for one hour, look, I would this moment lay down this
finger and let it be cut off."
The face, the whole figure of Lady Isabel, at this moment, appeared
to Lord Colambre suddenly metamorphosed; instead of the soft, gentle,
amiable female, all sweet charity and tender sympathy, formed to love
and to be loved, he beheld one possessed and convulsed by an evil
spirit--her beauty, if beauty it could be called, the beauty of a
fiend. Some ejaculation, which he unconsciously uttered, made Lady
Isabel start. She saw him--saw the expression of his countenance, and
knew that all was over.
Lord Colambre, to the utter astonishment and disappointment of Lady
Dashfort, and to the still greater mortification of Lady Isabel,
announced this night that it was necessary he should immediately
pursue his tour in Ireland. We pass over all the castles in the air
which the young ladies of the family had built, and which now fell
to the ground. We pass all the civil speeches of Lord and Lady
Killpatrick; all the vehement remonstrances of Lady Dashfort; and the
vain sighs of Lady Isabel. To the last moment Lady Dashfort said, "He
will not go."
But he went; and, when he was gone, Lady Dashfort exclaimed, "That man
has escaped from me." After a pause, turning to her daughter, she,
in the most taunting and contemptuous terms, reproached her as the
cause of this failure, concluding by a declaration, that she must in
future manage her own affairs, and had best settle her mind to marry
Heathcock, since every one else was too wise to think of her.
Lady Isabel of course retorted. But we leave this amiable mother and
daughter to recriminate in appropriate terms, and we follow our hero,
rejoiced that he has been disentangled from their snares. Those who
have never been in similar peril will wonder much that he did not
escape sooner; those who have ever been in like danger will wonder
more that he escaped at all. They who are best acquainted with the
heart or imagination of man will be most ready to acknowledge that the
combined charms of wit, beauty, and flattery, may, for a time, suspend
the action of right reason in the mind of the greatest philosopher, or
operate against the resolutions of the greatest of heroes.
Lord Colambre pursued his way to Halloran Castle, desirous, before
he quitted this part of the country, to take leave of the count, who
had shown him much civility, and for whose honourable conduct and
generous character he had conceived a high esteem, which no little
peculiarities of antiquated dress or manner could diminish. Indeed,
the old-fashioned politeness of what was formerly called a well-bred
gentleman pleased him better than the indolent or insolent selfishness
of modern men of the ton. Perhaps, notwithstanding our hero's
determination to turn his mind from every thing connected with the
idea of Miss Nugent, some latent curiosity about the burial-place
of the Nugents might have operated to make him call upon the count.
In this hope he was disappointed; for a cross miller, to whom the
abbey-ground was let, on which the burial-place was found, had taken
it into his head to refuse admittance, and none could enter his
Count O'Halloran was much pleased by Lord Colambre's visit. The
very day of his arrival at Halloran Castle, the count was going to
Oranmore; he was dressed, and his carriage was waiting: therefore Lord
Colambre begged that he might not detain him, and the count requested
his lordship to accompany him.
"Let me have the honour of introducing you, my lord, to a family,
with whom, I am persuaded, you will he pleased; by whom you will be
appreciated; and at whose house you will have an opportunity of seeing
the best manner of living of the Irish nobility."
Lord Colambre accepted the invitation, and was introduced at Oranmore.
The dignified appearance and respectable character of Lady Oranmore;
the charming unaffected manners of her daughters; the air of domestic
happiness and comfort in her family; the becoming magnificence,
free from ostentation, in her whole establishment; the respect and
affection with which she was treated by all who approached her,
delighted and touched Lord Colambre; the more, perhaps, because he had
heard this family so unjustly abused; and because he saw Lady Oranmore
and her daughter in immediate contrast with Lady Dashfort and Lady
A little circumstance which occurred during this visit, increased his
interest for the family. When Lady de Cressy's little boys came in
after dinner, one of them was playing with a seal, which had just been
torn from a letter. The child showed it to Lord Colambre, and asked
him to read the motto. The motto was, "Deeds, not words." His friend
Sir James Brooke's motto, and his arms. Lord Colambre eagerly inquired
if this family was acquainted with Sir James, and he soon perceived
that they were not only acquainted with him, but that they were
particularly interested about him.
Lady Oranmore's second daughter, Lady Harriet, appeared particularly
pleased by the manner in which Lord Colambre spoke of Sir James. And
the child, who had now established himself on his lordship's knee,
turned round, and whispered in his ear, "'Twas aunt Harriet gave me
the seal; Sir James is to be married to aunt Harriet, and then he will
be my uncle."
Some of the principal gentry of this part of the country happened to
dine at Oranmore on one of the days Lord Colambre was there. He
was surprised at the discovery, that there were so many agreeable,
well-informed, and well-bred people, of whom, while he was at
Killpatrick's-town, he had seen nothing. He now discerned how far he
had been deceived by Lady Dashfort.
Both the count, and Lord and Lady Oranmore, who were warmly attached
to their country, exhorted him to make himself amends for the time
he had lost, by seeing with his own eyes, and judging with his
own understanding, of the country and its inhabitants, during the
remainder of the time he was to stay in Ireland. The higher classes,
in most countries, they observed, were generally similar; but, in the
lower class, he would find many characteristic differences.
When he first came to Ireland, he had been very eager to go and see
his father's estate, and to judge of the conduct of his agents, and
the condition of his tenantry; but this eagerness had subsided, and
the design had almost faded from his mind, whilst under the influence
of Lady Dashfort's misrepresentations. A mistake, relative to some
remittance from his banker in Dublin, obliged him to delay his journey
a few days, and during that time, Lord and Lady Oranmore showed him
the neat cottages, and well-attended schools, in their neighbourhood.
They showed him not only what could be done, but what had been done,
by the influence of great proprietors residing on their own estates,
and encouraging the people by judicious kindness.
He saw,--he acknowledged the truth of this; but it did not come home
to his feelings now as it would have done a little while ago. His
views and plans were altered: he had looked forward to the idea of
marrying and settling in Ireland, and then every thing in the country
was interesting to him; but since he had forbidden himself to think of
a union with Miss Nugent, his mind had lost its object and its spring;
he was not sufficiently calm to think of the public good; his thoughts
were absorbed by his private concerns. He knew and repeated to
himself, that he ought to visit his own and his father's estates, and
to see the condition of his tenantry; he desired to fulfil his duties,
but they ceased to appear to him easy and pleasurable, for hope and
love no longer brightened his prospects.
That he might see and hear more than he could as heir-apparent to
the estate, he sent his servant to Dublin to wait for him there. He
travelled _incognito_, wrapped himself in a shabby great-coat, and
took the name of Evans. He arrived at a village, or, as it was called,
a town, which bore the name of Colambre. He was agreeably surprised by
the air of neatness and finish in the houses and in the street, which
had a nicely swept paved footway. He slept at a small but excellent
inn,--excellent, perhaps, because it was small, and proportioned to
the situation and business of the place. Good supper, good bed, good
attendance; nothing out of repair; no things pressed into services
for which they were never intended by nature or art. No chambermaid
slipshod, or waiter smelling of whiskey; but all tight and right, and
every body doing their own business, and doing it as if it were their
every day occupation, not as if it were done by particular desire, for
the first or last time this season. The landlord came in at supper
to inquire whether any thing was wanted. Lord Colambre took this
opportunity of entering into conversation with him, and asked him
to whom the town belonged, and who were the proprietors of the
"The town belongs to an absentee lord--one Lord Clonbrony, who lives
always beyond the seas, in London; and who had never seen the town
since it was a town, to call a town."
"And does the land in the neighbourhood belong to this Lord
"It does, sir; he's a great proprietor, but knows nothing of his
property, nor of us. Never set foot among us, to my knowledge, since
I was as high as the table. He might as well be a West India planter,
and we negroes, for any thing he knows to the contrary--has no more
care, nor thought about us, than if he were in Jamaica, or the
other world. Shame for him! But there's too many to keep him in
Lord Colambre asked him what wine he could have; and then inquired who
managed the estate for this absentee.
"Mr. Burke, sir. And I don't know why God was so kind to give so good
an agent to an absentee like Lord Clonbrony, except it was for the
sake of us, who is under him, and knows the blessing, and is thankful
for the same."
"Very good cutlets," said Lord Colambre.
"I am happy to hear it, sir. They have a right to be good, for Mrs.
Burke sent her own cook to teach my wife to dress cutlets."
"So the agent is a good agent, is he?"
"He is, thanks be to Heaven! And that's what few can boast, especially
when the landlord's living over the seas: we have the luck to have got
a good agent over us, in Mr. Burke, who is a right bred gentleman; a
snug little property of his own, honestly made; with the good-will,
and good wishes, and respect of all."
"Does he live in the neighbourhood?"
"Just _convanient_. At the end of the town; in the house on the
hill as you passed, sir; to the left, with the trees about it, all of
his own planting, grown too; for there's a blessing on all he does,
and he has done a deal.--There's salad, sir, if you are _partial_ to
it. Very fine lettuce. Mrs. Burke sent us the plants herself."
[Footnote 1: _Convenient_, near.]
"Excellent salad! So this Mr. Burke has done a great deal, has he? In
"In every way, sir,--sure was not it he that had improved, and
fostered, and _made_ the town of Colambre?--no thanks to the
proprietor, nor to the young man whose name it bears, neither!"
"Have you any porter, pray, sir?"
"We have, sir, as good, I hope, as you'd drink in London, for it's the
same you get there, I understand, from Cork. And I have some of my own
brewing, which, they say, you could not tell the difference between it
and Cork quality--if you'd be pleased to try.--Harry, the corkscrew."
The porter of his own brewing was pronounced to be extremely good;
and the landlord observed it was Mr. Burke encouraged him to learn to
brew, and lent him his own brewer for a time to teach him.
"Your Mr. Burke, I find, is _apropos_ to porter, _apropos_ to salad,
_apropos_ to cutlets, _apropos_ to every thing," said Lord Colambre,
smiling: "he seems to be a very uncommon agent I suppose you are a
great favourite of his, and you do what you please with him."
"Oh, no, sir, I could not say that; Mr. Burke does not have favourites
any way; but, according to my deserts, I trust I stand well enough
with him; for, in truth, he is a right good agent."
Lord Colambre still pressed for particulars; he was an Englishman,
and a stranger, he said, and did not exactly know what was meant in
Ireland by a good agent.
"Why, he is the man that will encourage the improving tenant; and show
no favour or affection, but justice, which comes even to all, and does
best for all at the long run; and, residing always in the country,
like Mr. Burke, and understanding country business, and going about
continually among the tenantry, he knows when to press for the rent,
and when to leave the money to lay out upon the land; and, according
as they would want it, can give a tenant a help or a check properly.
Then no duty work called for, no presents, nor _glove money_, nor
_sealing money_ even, taken or offered; no underhand hints about
proposals, when land would be out of lease; but a considerable
preference, if desarved, to the old tenant, and if not, a fair
advertisement, and the best offer and tenant accepted: no screwing of
the land to the highest penny, just to please the head landlord for
the minute, and ruin him at the end, by the tenant's racking the land,
and running off with the year's rent; nor no bargains to his own
relations or friends did Mr. Burke ever give or grant, but all fair
between landlord and tenant; and that's the thing that will last; and
that's what I call the good agent."
Lord Colambre poured out a glass of wine, and begged the innkeeper to
drink the good agent's health, in which he was heartily pledged. "I
thank your honour:--Mr. Burke's health! and long may he live over and
amongst us; he saved me from drink and ruin, when I was once inclined
to it, and made a man of me and all my family."
The particulars we cannot stay to detail; this grateful man, however,
took pleasure in sounding the praises of his benefactor, and in
raising him in the opinion of the traveller.
"As you've time, and are curious about such things, sir, perhaps you'd
walk up to the school that Mrs. Burke has for the poor children; and
look at the market house, and see how clean he takes a pride to keep
the town: and any house in the town, from the priest to the parson's,
that you'd go into, will give you the same character as I do of Mr.
Burke; from the brogue to the boot, all speak the same of him, and can
say no other. God for ever bless and keep him over us!"
Upon making further inquiries, every thing the innkeeper had said
was confirmed by different inhabitants of the village. Lord Colambre
conversed with the shopkeepers, with the cottagers; and, without
making any alarming inquiries, he obtained all the information he
wanted. He went to the village-school--a pretty, cheerful house, with
a neat garden and a play-green; met Mrs. Burke; introduced himself to
her as a traveller. The school was shown to him: it was just what it
ought to be--neither too much nor too little had been attempted; there
was neither too much interference nor too little attention. Nothing
for exhibition; care to teach well, without any vain attempt to teach
in a wonderfully short time. All that experience proves to be useful,
in both Dr. Bell's and Mr. Lancaster's modes of teaching, Mrs. Burke
had adopted; leaving it to "graceless zealots" to fight about the
rest. That no attempts at proselytism had been made, and that no
illiberal distinctions had been made in his school, Lord Colambre was
convinced, in the best manner possible, by seeing the children of
protestants and catholics sitting on the same benches, learning from
the same books, and speaking to one another with the same cordial
familiarity. Mrs. Burke was an unaffected, sensible woman, free from
all party prejudices, and without ostentation, desirous and capable
of doing good. Lord Colambre was much pleased with her, and very glad
that she invited him to tea.
Mr. Burke did not come in till late; for he had been detained
portioning out some meadows, which were of great consequence to the
inhabitants of the town. He brought home to tea with him the clergyman
and the priest of the parish, both of whom he had taken successful
pains to accommodate with the land which suited their respective
convenience. The good terms on which they seemed to be with each
other, and with him, appeared to Lord Colambre to do honour to Mr.
Burke. All the favourable accounts his lordship had received of this
gentleman were confirmed by what he saw and heard. After the clergyman
and priest had taken leave, upon Lord Colambre's expressing some
surprise, mixed with satisfaction, at seeing the harmony which
subsisted between them, Mr. Burke assured him that this was the
same in many parts of Ireland. He observed, that "as the suspicion
of ill-will never fails to produce it," so he had often found,
that taking it for granted that no ill-will exists, has the most
conciliating effect. He said, to please opposite parties, he used
no arts; but he tried to make all his neighbours live comfortably
together, by making them acquainted with each other's good qualities;
by giving them opportunities of meeting sociably, and, from time
to time, of doing each other little services and good offices.
Fortunately, he had so much to do, he said, that he had no time for
controversy. He was a plain man, made it a rule not to meddle with
speculative points, and to avoid all irritating discussions: he was
not to rule the country, but to live in it, and make others live as
happily as he could.
Having nothing to conceal in his character, opinions, or
circumstances, Mr. Burke was perfectly open and unreserved in
his manner and conversation; freely answered all the traveller's
inquiries, and took pains to show him every thing he desired to
see. Lord Colambre said he had thoughts of settling in Ireland; and
declared, with truth, that he had not seen any part of the country he
should like better to live in than this neighbourhood. He went over
most of the estate with Mr. Burke, and had ample opportunities of
convincing himself that this gentleman was indeed, as the innkeeper
had described him, "a right good gentleman, and a right good agent."
He paid Mr. Burke some just compliments on the state of the tenantry,
and the neat and flourishing appearance of the town of Colambre.
"What pleasure it will give the proprietor when he sees all you have
done!" said Lord Colambre.
"Oh, sir, don't speak of it!--that breaks my heart; he never has shown
the least interest in any thing I have done: he is quite dissatisfied
with me, because I have not ruined his tenantry, by forcing them to
pay more than the land is worth; because I have not squeezed money
from them, by fining down rents; and--but all this, as an Englishman,
sir, must be unintelligible to you. The end of the matter is, that,
attached as I am to this place and the people about me, and, as I
hope, the tenantry are to me,--I fear I shall he obliged to give up
"Give up the agency! How so? you must not," cried Lord Colambre, and,
for the moment, he forgot himself; but Mr. Burke took this only for an
expression of good-will.
"I must, I am afraid," continued he. "My employer, Lord Clonbrony,
is displeased with me--continual calls for money come upon me from
England, and complaints of my slow remittances."
"Perhaps Lord Clonbrony is in embarrassed circumstances," said Lord
"I never speak of my employer's affairs, sir," replied Mr. Burke; now
for the first time assuming an air of reserve.
"I beg pardon, sir--I seem to have asked an indiscreet question." Mr.
Burke was silent.
"Lest my reserve should give you a false impression, I will add, sir,"
resumed Mr. Burke, "that I really am not acquainted with the state of
his lordship's affairs in general. I know only what belongs to the
estate under my own management. The principal part of his lordship's
property, the Clonbrony estate, is under another agent, Mr.
"Garraghty!" repeated Lord Colambre; "what sort of a person is he? But
I may take it for granted, that it cannot fall to the lot of one and
the same absentee to have two such agents as Mr. Burke."
Mr. Burke bowed, and seemed pleased with the compliment, which he
knew he deserved--but not a word did he say of Mr. Garraghty; and
Lord Colambre, afraid of betraying himself by some other indiscreet
question, changed the conversation.
The next night the post brought a letter to Mr. Burke, from Lord
Clonbrony, which he gave to his wife as soon as he had read it,
saying, "See the reward of all my services!"
Mrs. Burke glanced her eye over the letter, and being extremely fond
of her husband, and sensible of his deserving far different treatment,
burst into indignant exclamations--"See the reward of all your
services, indeed!--What an unreasonable, ungrateful man!--So, this is
the thanks for all you have done for Lord Clonbrony!"
"He does not know what I have done, my dear. He never has seen what I
"More shame for him!"
"He never, I suppose, looks over his accounts, or understands them."
"More shame for him!"
"He listens to foolish reports, or misrepresentations, perhaps. He is
at a distance, and cannot find out the truth."
"More shame for him!"
"Take it quietly, my dear; we have the comfort of a good conscience.
The agency may be taken from me by this lord; but the sense of having
done my duty, no lord or man upon earth can give or take away."
"Such a letter!" said Mrs. Burke, taking it up again. "Not even the
civility to write with his own hand!--only his signature to the
scrawl--looks as if it was written by a drunken man, does not it, Mr.
Evans?" said she, showing the letter to Lord Colambre, who immediately
recognized the writing of Sir Terence O'Fay.
"It does not look like the hand of a gentleman, indeed," said Lord
"It has Lord Clonbrony's own signature, let it be what it will," said
Mr. Burke, looking closely at it; "Lord Clonbrony's own writing the
signature is, I am clear of that."
Lord Clonbrony's son was clear of it, also; but he took care not to
give any opinion on that point.
"Oh, pray read it, sir, read it," said Mrs. Burke; "read it, pray; a
gentleman may write a bad hand, but no _gentleman_ could write such
a letter as that to Mr. Burke--pray read it, sir; you who have seen
something of what he has done for the town of Colambre, and what he
has made of the tenantry and the estate of Lord Clonbrony."
Lord Colambre read, and was convinced that his father had never
written or read the letter, but had signed it, trusting to Sir Terence
O'Fay's having expressed his sentiments properly.
"As I have no farther occasion for your services, you will take
notice, that I hereby request you will forthwith hand over, on or
before the 1st of November next, your accounts, with the balance
due of the _hanging-gale_ (which, I understand, is more than ought
to be at this season) to Nicholas Garraghty, Esq., College-green,
Dublin, who, in future, will act as agent, and shall get, by post,
immediately, a power of attorney for the same, entitling him to
receive and manage the Colambre, as well as the Clonbrony estate,
"Sir, your obedient humble servant,
Though misrepresentation, caprice, or interest, might have induced
Lord Clonbrony to desire to change his agent, yet Lord Colambre knew
that his father never could have announced his wishes in such a style;
and, as he returned the letter to Mrs. Burke, he repeated, he was
convinced that it was impossible that any nobleman could have written
such a letter; that it must have been written by some inferior person;
and that his lordship had signed it without reading it.
"My dear, I'm sorry you showed that letter to Mr. Evans," said Mr.
Burke; "I don't like to expose Lord Clonbrony; he is a well-meaning
gentleman, misled by ignorant or designing people; at all events, it
is not for us to expose him."
"He has exposed himself," said Mrs. Burke; "and the world should know
"He was very kind to me when I was a young man," said Mr. Burke; "we
must not forget that now, because we are angry, my love."
"Why, no, my love, to be sure we should not; but who could have
recollected it just at this minute but yourself? And now, sir,"
turning to Lord Colambre, "you see what kind of a man this is: now is
it not difficult for me to bear patiently to see him ill-treated?"
"Not only difficult, but impossible, I should think, madam," said Lord
Colambre; "I know even I, who am a stranger, cannot help feeling for
both of you, as you must see I do."
"But half the world, who don't know him," continued Mrs. Burke, "when
they hear that Lord Clonbrony's agency is taken from him, will think
perhaps that he is to blame."
"No, madam," said Lord Colambre, "that you need not fear; Mr. Burke
may safely trust to his character: from what I have within these two
days seen and heard, I am convinced that such is the respect he has
deserved and acquired, that no blame can touch him."
"Sir, I thank you," said Mrs. Burke, the tears coming into her eyes:
"you can judge--you do him justice; but there are so many who don't
know him, and who will decide without knowing any of the facts."
"That, my dear, happens about every thing to every body," said Mr.
Burke; "but we must have patience; time sets all judgments right,
sooner or later."
"But the sooner the better," said Mrs. Burke. "Mr. Evans, I hope you
will be so kind, if ever you hear this business talked of--"
"Mr. Evans lives in Wales, my dear."
"But he is travelling through Ireland, my dear, and he said he should
return to Dublin, and, you know, there he certainly will hear it
talked of; and I hope he will do me the favour to state what he has
seen and knows to be the truth."
"Be assured that I will do Mr. Burke justice--as far as it is in my
power," said Lord Colambre, restraining himself much, that he might
not say more than became his assumed character. He took leave of this
worthy family that night, and, early the next morning, departed.
"Ah!" thought he, as he drove away from this well-regulated and
flourishing place, "how happy I might be, settled here with such a
wife as--her of whom I must think no more."
He pursued his way to Clonbrony, his father's other estate, which was
at a considerable distance from Colambre: he was resolved to know what
kind of agent Mr. Nicholas Garraghty might be, who was to supersede
Mr. Burke, and, by power of attorney, to be immediately entitled to
receive and manage the Colambre as well as the Clonbrony estate.
Towards the evening of the second day's journey, the driver of Lord
Colambre's hackney chaise stopped, and jumping off the wooden bar, on
which he had been seated, exclaimed, "We're come to the bad step, now.
The bad road's beginning upon us, please your honour."
"Bad road! that is very uncommon in this country. I never saw such
fine roads as you have in Ireland."
"That's true; and God bless your honour, that's sensible of that same,
for it's not what all the foreign quality I drive have the manners to
notice. God bless your honour! I heard you're a Welshman, but whether
or no, I am sure you are a jantleman, any way, Welsh or other."
Notwithstanding the shabby great coat, the shrewd postilion perceived,
by our hero's language, that he was a gentleman. After much dragging
at the horses' heads, and pushing and lifting, the carriage was got
over what the postilion said was the worst part of the _bad step_; but
as the road "was not yet to say good," he continued walking beside the
"It's only bad just hereabouts, and that by accident," said he, "on
account of there being no jantleman resident in it, nor near; but only
a bit of an under-agent, a great little rogue, who gets his own turn
out of the roads, and every thing else in life. I, Larry Brady, that
am telling your honour, have a good right to know; for myself, and my
father, and my brother, Pat Brady, the wheelwright, had once a farm
under him; but was ruined, horse and foot, all along with him, and
cast out, and my brother forced to fly the country, and is now working
in some coachmaker's yard, in London; banished he is!--and here am I,
forced to be what I am--and now that I'm reduced to drive a hack, the
agent's a curse to me still, with these bad roads, killing my horses
and wheels--and a shame to the country, which I think more of--Bad
luck to him!"
"I know your brother; he lives with Mr. Mordicai, in Long-Acre, in
"Oh, God bless you for that!"
They came at this time within view of a range of about four-and-twenty
men and boys, sitting astride on four-and-twenty heaps of broken
stones, on each side of the road; they were all armed with hammers,
with which they began to pound with great diligence and noise as soon
as they saw the carriage. The chaise passed between these batteries,
the stones flying on all sides.
"How are you, Jem?--How are you Phil?" said Larry. "But hold your
hand, can't ye, while I stop and get the stones out of the horses'
_feet_. So you're making up the rent, are you, for St. Dennis?"
"Whoosh!" said one of the pounders, coming close to the postilion, and
pointing his thumb back towards the chaise. "Who have you in it?"
"Oh, you need not scruple, he's a very honest man;--he's only a man
from North Wales, one Mr. Evans, an innocent jantleman, that's sent
over to travel up and down the country, to find is there any copper
mines in it."
"How do you know, Larry?"
"Because I know very well, from one that was tould, and I _seen_ him
tax the man of the King's Head with a copper half-crown at first
sight, which was only lead to look at, you'd think, to them that was
not skilful in copper. So lend me a knife, till I cut a linchpin out
of the hedge, for this one won't go far."
Whilst Larry was making the linchpin, all scruple being removed, his
question about St. Dennis and the rent was answered.
"Ay, it's the rint, sure enough, we're pounding out for him; for he
sent the driver round last night-was-eight days, to warn us Old Nick
would be down a'-Monday, to take a sweep among us; and there's only
six clear days, Saturday night, before the assizes, sure: so we must
see and get it finished any way, to clear the presentment again' the
swearing day, for he and Paddy Hart is the overseers themselves, and
Paddy is to swear to it."
"St. Dennis, is it? Then you've one great comfort and security--that
he won't be _particular_ about the swearing; for since ever he had his
head on his shoulders, an oath never stuck in St. Dennis's throat,
more than in his own brother, Old Nick's."
"His head upon his shoulders!" repeated Lord Colambre. "Pray, did you
ever hear that St. Dennis's head was off his shoulders?"
"It never was, plase your honour, to my knowledge."
"Did you never, among your saints, hear of St. Dennis carrying his
head in his hand?" said Lord Colambre.
"The _rael_ saint!" said the postilion, suddenly changing his tone,
and looking shocked. "Oh, don't be talking that way of the saints,
plase your honour."
"Then of what St. Dennis were you talking just now?--Whom do you mean
by St. Dennis, and whom do you call Old Nick?"
"Old Nick," answered the postilion, coming close to the side of the
carriage, and whispering,--"Old Nick, plase your honour, is our
nickname for one Nicholas Garraghty, Esq., of College-green, Dublin,
and St. Dennis is his brother Dennis, who is Old Nick's brother in all
things, and would fain be a saint, only he's a sinner. He lives just
by here, in the country, under-agent to Lord Clonbrony, as Old Nick is
upper-agent--it's only a joke among the people, that are not fond of
them at all. Lord Clonbrony himself is a very good jantleman, if he
was not an absentee, resident in London, leaving us and every thing to
the likes of them."
Lord Colambre listened with all possible composure and attention;
but the postilion, having now made his linchpin of wood, and _fixed
himself_, he mounted his bar, and drove on, saying to Lord Colambre,
as he looked at the road-makers, "Poor _cratures_! They couldn't keep
their cattle out of pound, or themselves out of jail, but by making
"Is road-making, then, a very profitable business!--Have road-makers
higher wages than other men in this part of the country?"
"It is, and it is not--they have, and they have not--plase your
"I don't understand you."
"No, beca-ase you're an Englishman--that is, a Welshman--beg your
honour's pardon. But I'll tell you how that is, and I'll go slow over
these broken stones--for I can't go fast: it is where there's no
jantleman over these under-agents, as here, they do as they plase;
and when they have set the land they get rasonable from the head
landlords, to poor cratures at a rackrent, that they can't live and
pay the rent, they say--"
"Them under-agents, that have no conscience at all. Not all--but
_some_, like Dennis, says, says he, 'I'll get you a road to make
up the rent:' that is, plase your honour, the agent gets them a
presentment for so many perches of road from the grand jury, at twice
the price that would make the road. And tenants are, by this means, as
they take the road by contract, at the price given by the county, able
to pay all they get by the job, over and above potatoes and salt, back
again to the agent, for the arrear on the land. Do I make your honour
[Footnote 1: Do I make you understand?]
"You make me much more sensible than I ever was before," said Lord
Colambre: "but is not this cheating the county?"
"Well, and suppose," replied Larry, "is not it all for my good, and
yours too, plase your honour?" said Larry, looking very shrewdly.
"My good!" said Lord Colambre, startled. "What have I to do with it?"
"Haven't you to do with the roads as well as me, when you're
travelling upon them, plase your honour? And sure, they'd never be
got made at all, if they wern't made this ways; and it's the best way
in the wide world, and the finest roads we have. And when the _rael_
jantleman's resident in the country, there's no jobbing can be,
because they're then the leading men on the grand jury; and these
journeymen jantlemen are then kept in order, and all's right."
Lord Colambre was much surprised at Larry's knowledge of the manner in
which county business is managed, as well as by his shrewd good sense:
he did not know that this is not uncommon in his rank of life in
Whilst Larry was speaking, Lord Colambre was looking from side to side
at the desolation of the prospect.
"So this is Lord Clonbrony's estate, is it?"
"Ay, all you see, and as far and farther than you can see. My Lord
Clonbrony wrote, and ordered plantations here, time back; and enough
was paid to labourers for ditching and planting. And, what next?--Why,
what did the under-agent do, but let the goats in through gaps, left
o' purpose, to bark the trees, and then the trees was all banished.
And next, the cattle was let in trespassing, and winked at, till the
land was all poached: and then the land was waste, and cried down:
and Saint Dennis wrote up to Dublin to Old Nick, and he over to the
landlord, how none would take it, or bid any thing at all for it: so
then it fell to him a cheap bargain. Oh, the tricks of them! who knows
'em, if I don't?" Presently, Lord Colambre's attention was roused
again, by seeing a man running, as if for his life, across a bog, near
the roadside: he leaped over the ditch, and was upon the road in an
instant. He seemed startled at first, at the sight of the carriage;
but, looking at the postilion, Larry nodded, and he smiled and said,
"All's safe!" "Pray, my good friend, may I ask what that is you have
on your shoulder?" said Lord Colambre. "_Plase_ your honour, it
is only a private still, which I've just caught out yonder in the
bog; and I'm carrying it in with all speed to the gauger, to make a
discovery, that the jantleman may benefit by the reward: I expect
he'll make me a compliment."
"Get up behind, and I'll give you a lift," said the postilion.
"Thank you kindly--but better my legs!" said the man; and, turning
down a lane, off he ran again, as fast as possible.
"Expect he'll make me a compliment," repeated Lord Colambre, "to make
"Ay, plase your honour; for the law is," said Larry, "that, if an
unlawful still, that is, a still without licence for whiskey, is
found, half the benefit of the fine that's put upon the parish goes to
him that made the discovery: that's what that man is after; for he's
"I should not have thought, from what I see of you," said Lord
Colambre, smiling, "that you, Larry, would have offered an informer a
"Oh, plase your honour!" said Larry, smiling archly, "would not I give
the laws a lift, when in my power?"
Scarcely had he uttered these words, and scarcely was the informer out
of sight, when, across the same bog, and over the ditch, came another
man, a half kind of gentleman, with a red silk handkerchief about his
neck, and a silver-handled whip in his hand.
"Did you see any man pass the road, friend?" said he to the postilion.
"Oh! who would I see? or why would I tell?" replied Larry in a sulky
"Come, come, be smart!" said the man with the silver whip, offering
to put half-a-crown into the postilion's hand; "point me which way he
"I'll have none o' your silver! don't touch me with it!" said Larry.
"But, if you'll take my advice, you'll strike across back, and follow
the fields, out to Killogenesawce."
The exciseman set out again immediately, in an opposite direction to
that which the man who carried the still had taken. Lord Colambre now
perceived that the pretended informer had been running off to conceal
a still of his own.
"The gauger, plase your honour," said Larry, looking back at Lord
Colambre; "the gauger is a _still-hunting_!"
"And you put him on a wrong scent!" said Lord Colambre.
"Sure, I told him no lie: I only said, 'If you'll take my advice.' And
why was he such a fool as to take my advice, when I wouldn't take his
"So this is the way, Larry, you give a lift to the laws!"
"If the laws would give a lift to me, plase your honour, may be I'd do
as much by them. But it's only these revenue laws I mean; for I never,
to my knowledge, broke another commandment: but it's what no honest
poor man among his neighbours would scruple to take--a glass of
"A glass of what, in the name of Heaven?" said Lord Colambre.
"_Potsheen_, plase your honour;--beca-ase it's the little whiskey
that's made in the private still or pot; and _sheen_, because it's a
fond word for whatsoever we'd like, and for what we have little of,
and would make much of: after taking the glass of it, no man could go
and inform to ruin the _cratures_; for they all shelter on that estate
under favour of them that go shares, and make rent of 'em--but I'd
never inform again' 'em. And, after all, if the truth was known, and
my Lord Clonbrony should be informed against, and presented, for it's
his neglect is the bottom of the nuisance--"
"I find all the blame is thrown upon this poor Lord Clonbrony," said
"Because he is absent," said Larry: "it would not be so was he
_prisint_. But your honour was talking to me about the laws. Your
honour's a stranger in this country, and astray about them things.
Sure, why would I mind the laws about whiskey, more than the quality,
or the _jidge_ on the bench?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why! was not I _prisint_ in the court-house myself, when the _jidge_
was on the bench judging a still, and across the court came in one
with a sly jug of _potsheen_ for the _jidge_ himself, who _prefarred_
it, when the right thing, to claret; and when I _seen_ that, by the
laws! a man might talk himself dumb to me after again' potsheen, or in
favour of the revenue, or revenue officers. And there they may go on,
with their gaugers, and their surveyors, and their supervisors, and
their watching officers, and their coursing officers, setting 'em
one after another, or one over the head of another, or what way they
will--we can baffle and laugh at 'em. Didn't I know, next door to our
inn, last year, ten _watching officers_ set upon one distiller, and
he was too cunning for them; and it will always be so, while ever
the people think it no sin. No, till then, not all their dockets and
permits signify a rush, or a turf. And the gauging rod, even! who
fears it? They may spare that rod, for it will never mend the child."
How much longer Larry's dissertation on the distillery laws would have
continued, had not his ideas been interrupted, we cannot guess; but he
saw he was coming to a town, and he gathered up the reins, and plied
the whip, ambitious to make a figure in the eyes of its inhabitants.
This _town_ consisted of one row of miserable huts, sunk beneath the
side of the road, the mud walls crooked in every direction; some of
them opening in wide cracks, or zigzag fissures, from top to bottom,
as if there had just been an earthquake--all the roofs sunk in various
places--thatch off, or overgrown with grass--no chimneys, the smoke
making its way through a hole in the roof, or rising in clouds from
the top of the open door--dunghills before the doors, and green
standing puddles--squalid children, with scarcely rags to cover them,
gazing at the carriage.
"Nugent's town," said the postilion, "once a snug place, when my Lady
Clonbrony was at home to white-wash it, and the like."
As they drove by, some men and women put their heads through the smoke
out of the cabins; pale women, with long, black, or yellow locks--men
with countenances and figures bereft of hope and energy.
"Wretched, wretched people!" said Lord Colambre.
"Then it's not their fault, neither," said Larry; "for my uncle's one
of them, and as thriving and hard a working man as could be in all
Ireland, he was, _afore_ he was tramped under foot, and his heart
broke. I was at his funeral, this time last year; and for it, may the
agent's own heart, if he has any, burn in--"
Lord Colambre interrupted this denunciation by touching Larry's
shoulder, and asking some question, which, as Larry did not distinctly
comprehend, he pulled up the reins, and the various noises of the
vehicle stopped suddenly.
"I did not hear well, plase your honour."
"What are those people?" pointing to a man and woman, curious figures,
who had come out of a cabin, the door of which the woman, who came out
last, locked, and carefully hiding the key in the thatch, turned her
back upon the man, and they walked away in different directions: the
woman bending under a huge bundle on her back, covered by a yellow
petticoat turned over her shoulders; from the top of this bundle the
head of an infant appeared; a little boy, almost naked, followed her
with a kettle, and two girls, one of whom could but just walk, held
her hand and clung to her ragged petticoat; forming, all together, a
complete group of beggars. The woman stopped, and looked after the
The man was a Spanish-looking figure, with gray hair; a wallet hung
at the end of a stick over one shoulder, a reaping-hook in the other
hand: he walked off stoutly, without ever casting a look behind him.
"A kind harvest to you, John Dolan," cried the postilion, "and success
to ye, Winny, with the quality. There's a luck-penny for the child
to begin with," added he, throwing the child a penny. "Your honour,
they're only poor _cratures_ going up the country to beg, while the
man goes over to reap the harvest in England. Nor this would not be,
neither, if the lord was in it to give 'em _employ_. That man, now,