[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]
THE CONFESSIONS OF HARRY LORREQUER, v2
[By Charles James Lever (1806-1872)]
Volume 2. (Chapters XI. to XVII.)
Cheltenham--Matrimonial Adventure--Showing how to make love for a friend
Dublin--Tom O'Flaherty--A Reminiscence of the Peninsula
Dublin--The Boarding-house--Select Society
Mems Of the North Cork
CHAPTER XVI* (The chapter # is a repeat in the print copy.)
CHELTENHAM--MATRIMONIAL ADVENTURE--SHOWING HOW TO MAKE LOVE FOR A FRIEND.
It was a cold raw evening in February as I sat in the coffee-room of the
Old Plough in Cheltenham, "Lucullus c. Lucullo"--no companion save my
half-finished decanter of port. I had drawn my chair to the corner of
the ample fire-place, and in a half dreamy state was reviewing the
incidents of my early life, and like most men who, however young, have
still to lament talents misapplied, opportunities neglected, profitless
labour, and disastrous idleness. The dreary aspect of the large and ill-
lighted room--the close-curtained boxes--the unsocial look of every thing
and body about suited the habit of my soul, and I was on the verge of
becoming excessively sentimental--the unbroken silence, where several
people were present, had also its effect upon me, and I felt oppressed
and dejected. So sat I for an hour; the clock over the mantel ticked
sharply on--the old man in the brown surtout had turned in his chair,
and now snored louder--the gentleman who read the Times had got the
Chronicle, and I thought I saw him nodding over the advertisements. The
father who, with a raw son of about nineteen, had dined at six, sat still
and motionless opposite his offspring, and only breaking the silence
around by the grating of the decanter as he posted it across the table.
The only thing denoting active existence was a little, shrivelled man,
who, with spectacles on his forehead, and hotel slippers on his feet,
rapidly walked up and down, occasionally stopping at his table to sip a
little weak-looking negus, which was his moderate potation for two hours.
I have been particular in chronicling these few and apparently trivial
circumstances, for by what mere trifles are our greatest and most
important movements induced--had the near wheeler of the Umpire been only
safe on his fore legs, and while I write this I might--but let me
continue. The gloom and melancholy which beset me, momentarily
increased. But three months before, and my prospects presented every
thing that was fairest and brightest--now all the future was dark and
dismal. Then my best friends could scarcely avoid envy at my fortune--
now my reverses might almost excite compassion even in an enemy. It was
singular enough, and I should not like to acknowledge it, were not these
Confessions in their very nature intended to disclose the very penetralia
of my heart; but singular it certainly was--and so I have always felt it
since, when reflecting on it--that although much and warmly attached to
Lady Jane Callonby, and feeling most acutely what I must call her
abandonment of me, yet, the most constantly recurring idea of my mind on
the subject was, what will the mess say--what will they think at head-
quarters?--the raillery, the jesting, the half-concealed allusion, the
tone of assumed compassion, which all awaited me, as each of my comrades
took up his line of behaving towards me, was, after all, the most
difficult thing to be borne, and I absolutely dreaded to join my
regiment, more thoroughly than did ever schoolboy to return to his labour
on the expiration of his holidays. I had framed to myself all manner of
ways of avoiding this dread event; sometimes I meditated an exchange into
an African corps--sometimes to leave the army altogether. However, I
turned the affair over in my mind--innumerable difficulties presented
themselves, and I was at last reduced to that stand-still point, in
which, after continual vacillation, one only waits for the slightest
impulse of persuasion from another, to adopt any, no matter what
suggestion. In this enviable frame of mind I sat sipping my wine, and
watching the clock for that hour at which, with a safe conscience, I
might retire to my bed, when the waiter roused me by demanding if my name
was Mr. Lorrequer, for that a gentleman having seen my card in the bar,
had been making inquiry for the owner of it all through the hotel.
"Yes," said I, "such is my name; but I am not acquainted with any one
here, that I can remember."
"The gentleman has ony arrived an hour since by the London mail, sir, and
here he is."
At this moment, a tall, dashing-looking, half-swaggering fellow, in a
very sufficient envelope of box-coats, entered the coffee-room, and
unwinding a shawl from his throat, showed me the honest and manly
countenance of my friend Jack Waller, of the __th dragoons, with whom I
had served in the Peninsula.
Five minutes sufficed for Jack to tell me that he was come down on a bold
speculation at this unseasonable time for Cheltenham; that he was quite
sure his fortune was about to be made in a few weeks at farthest, and
what seemed nearly as engrossing a topic--that he was perfectly famished,
and desired a hot supper, "de suite."
Jack having despatched this agreeable meal with a traveller's appetite,
proceeded to unfold his plans to me as follows:
There resided somewhere near Cheltenham, in what direction he did not
absolutely know, an old East India colonel, who had returned from a long
career of successful staff-duties and government contracts, with the
moderate fortune of two hundred thousand. He possessed, in addition, a
son and a daughter; the former, being a rake and a gambler, he had long
since consigned to his own devices, and to the latter he had avowed his
intention of leaving all his wealth. That she was beautiful as an angel
--highly accomplished--gifted--agreeable--and all that, Jack, who had
never seen her, was firmly convinced; that she was also bent resolutely
on marrying him, or any other gentleman whose claims were principally the
want of money, he was quite ready to swear to; and, in fact, so assured
did he feel that "the whole affair was feasible," (I use his own
expression,) that he had managed a two months' leave, and was come down
express to see, make love to, and carry her off at once.
"But," said I, with difficulty interrupting him, "how long have you known
"Known him? I never saw him."
"Well, that certainly is cool; and how do you propose making his
acquaintance. Do you intend to make him a "particeps criminis" in the
elopement of his own daughter, for a consideration to be hereafter paid
out of his own money?"
"Now, Harry, you've touched upon the point in which, you must confess,
my genius always stood unrivalled--acknowledge, if you are not dead to
gratitude--acknowledge how often should you have gone supperless to bed
in our bivouacs in the Peninsula, had it not been for the ingenuity of
your humble servant--avow, that if mutton was to be had, and beef to be
purloined, within a circuit of twenty miles round, our mess certainly
kept no fast days. I need not remind you of the cold morning on the
retreat from Burgos, when the inexorable Lake brought five men to the
halberds for stealing turkeys, that at the same moment, I was engaged in
devising an ox-tail soup, from a heifer brought to our tent in jack-boots
the evening before, to escape detection by her foot tracks."
"True, Jack, I never questioned your Spartan talent; but this affair,
time considered, does appear rather difficult."
"And if it were not, should I have ever engaged in it? No, no, Harry. I
put all proper value upon the pretty girl, with her two hundred thousand
pounds pin-money. But I honestly own to you, the intrigue, the scheme,
has as great charm for me as any part of the transaction."
"Well, Jack, now for the plan, then!"
"The plan! oh, the plan. Why, I have several; but since I have seen you,
and talked the matter over with you, I have begun to think of a new mode
of opening the trenches."
"Why, I don't see how I can possibly have admitted a single new ray of
light upon the affair."
"There are you quite wrong. Just hear me out without interruption, and
I'll explain. I'll first discover the locale of this worthy colonel--
'Hydrabad Cottage' he calls it; good, eh?--then I shall proceed to make a
tour of the immediate vicinity, and either be taken dangerously ill in
his grounds, within ten yards of the hall-door, or be thrown from my gig
at the gate of his avenue, and fracture my skull; I don't much care
which. Well, then, as I learn that the old gentleman is the most kind,
hospitable fellow in the world, he'll admit me at once; his daughter will
tend my sick couch--nurse--read to me; glorious fun, Harry. I'll make
fierce love to her; and now, the only point to be decided is whether,
having partaken of the colonel's hospitality so freely, I ought to carry
her off, or marry her with papa's consent. You see there is much to be
said for either line of proceeding."
"I certainly agree with you there; but since you seem to see your way so
clearly up to that point, why, I should advise you leaving that an 'open
question,' as the ministers say, when they are hard pressed for an
"Well, Harry, I consent; it shall remain so. Now for your part, for I
have not come to that."
"Mine," said I, in amazement; "why how can I possibly have any character
assigned to me in the drama?"
"I'll tell you, Harry, you shall come with me in the gig in the capacity
of my valet."
"Your what?" said I, horror-struck at his impudence.
"Come, no nonsense, Harry, you'll have a glorious time of it--shall
choose as becoming a livery as you like--and you'll have the whole female
world below stairs dying for you; and all I ask for such an opportunity
vouchsafed to you is to puff me, your master, in every possible shape and
form, and represent me as the finest and most liberal fellow in the
world, rolling in wealth, and only striving to get rid of it."
The unparalleled effrontery of Master Jack, in assigning to me such an
office, absolutely left me unable to reply to him; while he continued to
expatiate upon the great field for exertion thus open to us both. At
last it occurred to me to benefit by an anecdote of a something similar
arrangement, of capturing, not a young lady, but a fortified town, by
retorting Jack's proposition.
"Come," said I, "I agree, with one only difference--I'll be the master
and you the man on this occasion."
To my utter confusion, and without a second's consideration, Waller
grasped my hand, and cried, "done." Of course I laughed heartily at the
utter absurdity of the whole scheme, and rallied my friend on his
prospects of Botany Bay for such an exploit; never contemplating in the
most remote degree the commission of such extravagance.
Upon this Jack, to use the expressive French phrase, "pris la parole,"
touching with a master-like delicacy on my late defeat among the
Callonbys, (which up to this instant I believed him in ignorance of;) he
expatiated upon the prospect of my repairing that misfortune, and
obtaining a fortune considerably larger; he cautiously abstained from
mentioning the personal charms of the young lady, supposing, from my
lachrymose look, that my heart had not yet recovered the shock of Lady
Jane's perfidy, and rather preferred to dwell upon the escape such a
marriage could open to me from the mockery of the mess-table, the jesting
of my brother officers, and the life-long raillery of the service,
wherever the story reached.
The fatal facility of my disposition, so often and so frankly chronicled
in these Confessions--the openness to be led whither any one might take
the trouble to conduct me--the easy indifference to assume any character
which might be pressed upon me, by chance, accident, or design, assisted
by my share of three flasks of champagne, induced me first to listen--
then to attend to--soon after to suggest--and finally, absolutely to
concur in and agree to a proposal, which, at any other moment, I must
have regarded as downright insanity. As the clock struck two, I had just
affixed my name to an agreement, for Jack Waller had so much of method in
his madness, that, fearful of my retracting in the morning, he had
committed the whole to writing, which, as a specimen of Jack's legal
talents I copy from the original document now in my posession.
"The Plough, Cheltenham, Tuesday night or morning, two o'clock--be
the same more or less. I, Harry Lorrequer, sub. in his Majesty's
__th regiment of foot, on the one part; and I, John Waller, commonly
called Jack Waller, of the __th light dragoons on the other; hereby
promise and agree, each for himself, and not one for the other, to
the following conditions, which are hereafter subjoined, to wit, the
aforesaid Jack Waller is to serve, obey, and humbly follow the
aforementioned Harry Lorrequer, for the space of one month of four
weeks; conducting himself in all respects, modes, ways, manners, as
his, the aforesaid Lorrequer's own man, skip, valet, or saucepan--
duly praising, puffing, and lauding the aforesaid Lorrequer, and in
every way facilitating his success to the hand and fortune of--"
"Shall we put in her name, Harry, here?" said Jack.
"I think not; we'll fill it up in pencil; that looks very knowing."
"--at the end of which period, if successful in his suit, the
aforesaid Harry Lorrequer is to render to the aforesaid Waller the
sum of ten thousand pounds three and a half per cent. with a
faithful discharge in writing for his services, as may be. If, on
the other hand, and which heaven forbid, the aforesaid Lorrequer
fail in obtaining the hand of _____, that he will evacuate the
territory within twelve hours, and repairing to a convenient spot
selected by the aforesaid Waller, then and there duly invest himself
with a livery chosen by the aforesaid Waller--"
"You know, each man uses his choice in this particular," said Jack.
"--and for the space of four calendar weeks, be unto the aforesaid
Waller, as his skip, or valet, receiving, in the event of success,
the like compensation, as aforesaid, each promising strictly to
maintain the terms of this agreement, and binding, by a solemn
pledge, to divest himself of every right appertaining to his former
condition, for the space of time there mentioned."
We signed and sealed it formally, and finished another flask to its
perfect ratification. This done, and after a hearty shake hands, we
parted and retired for the night.
The first thing I saw on waking the following morning was Jack Waller
standing beside my bed, evidently in excellent spirits with himself and
all the world.
"Harry, my boy, I have done it gloriously," said he. "I only remembered
on parting with you last night, that one of the most marked features in
our old colonel's character is a certain vague idea, he has somewhere
picked up, that he has been at some very remote period of his history a
most distinguished officer. This notion, it appears, haunts his mind,
and he absolutely believes he has been in every engagement from the seven
years war, down to the Battle of Waterloo. You cannot mention a siege he
did not lay down the first parallel for, nor a storming party where he
did not lead the forlorn hope; and there is not a regiment in the
service, from those that formed the fighting brigade of Picton, down to
the London trainbands, with which, to use his own phrase, he has not
fought and bled. This mania of heroism is droll enough, when one
considers that the sphere of his action was necessarily so limited; but
yet we have every reason to be thankful for the peculiarity, as you'll
say, when I inform you that this morning I despatched a hasty messenger
to his villa, with a most polite note, setting forth that a Mr.
Lorrequer--ay, Harry, all above board--there is nothing like it--'as Mr.
Lorrequer, of the __th, was collecting for publication, such materials as
might serve to commemorate the distinguished achievements of British
officers, who have, at any time, been in command--he most respectfully
requests an interview with Colonel Kamworth, whose distinguished
services, on many gallant occasions, have called forth the unqualified
approval of his majesty's government. Mr. Lorrequer's stay is
necessarily limited to a few days, as he proceeds from this to visit Lord
Anglesey; and, therefore, would humbly suggest as early a meeting as may
suit Colonel K.'s convenience.' What think you now? Is this a master-
stroke or not?"
"Why, certainly, we are in for it now," said I, drawing a deep sigh.
"But Jack, what is all this? Why, you're in livery already."
I now, for the first time, perceived that Waller was arrayed in a very
decorous suit of dark grey, with cord shorts and boots, and looked a very
knowing style of servant for the side of a tilbury.
"You like it, don't you? Well, I should have preferred something a
little more showy myself; but as you chose this last night, I, of course,
gave way, and after all, I believe you're right, it certainly is neat."
"Did I choose it last night? I have not the slightest recollection of
"Yes, you were most particular about the length of the waistcoat, and the
height of the cockade, and you see I have followed your orders tolerably
close; and now, adieu to sweet equality for the season, and I am your
most obedient servant for four weeks--see that you make the most of it."
While we were talking, the waiter entered with a note addressed to me,
which I rightly conjectured could only come from Colonel Kamworth. It
"Colonel Kamworth feels highly flattered by the polite attention of
Mr. Lorrequer, and will esteem it a particular favour if Mr. L. can
afford him the few days his stay in this part of the country will
permit, by spending them at Hydrabad Cottage. Any information as to
Colonel Kamworth's services in the four quarters of the globe, he
need not say, is entirely at Mr. L.'s disposal.
"Colonel K. dines at six precisely."
When Waller had read the note through, he tossed his hat up in the air,
and, with something little sort of an Indian whoop, shouted out--
"The game is won already. Harry, my man, give me the check for the ten
thousand: she is your own this minute."
Without participating entirely in Waller's exceeding delight, I could not
help feeling a growing interest in the part I was advertised to perform,
and began my rehearsal with more spirit than I thought I should have been
able to command.
That same evening, at the same hour as that in which on the preceding I
sat lone and comfortless by the coffee-room fire, I was seated opposite a
very pompous, respectable-looking old man, with a large, stiff queue of
white hair, who pressed me repeatedly to fill my glass and pass the
decanter. The room was a small library, with handsomely fitted shelves;
there were but four chairs, but each would have made at least three of
any modern one; the curtains of deep crimson cloth effectually secured
the room from draught; and the cheerful wood fire blazing on the hearth,
which was the only light in the apartment, gave a most inviting look of
comfort and snugness to every thing. This, thought I, is all excellent;
and however the adventure ends, this is certainly pleasant, and I never
tasted better Madeira.
"And so, Mr. Lorrequer, you heard of my affair at Cantantrabad, when I
took the Rajah prisoner?"
"Yes," said I; "the governor-general mentioned the gallant business the
very last time I dined at Government-House."
"Ah, did he? kind of him though. Well, sir, I received two millions of
rupees on the morning after, and a promise of ten more if I would permit
him to escape--but no--I refused flatly."
"Is it possible; and what did you do with the two millions?--sent them,
"No, that I didn't; the wretches know nothing of the use of money. No,
no; I have them this moment in good government security.
"I believe I never mentioned to you the storming of Java. Fill yourself
another glass, and I'll describe it all to you, for it will be of
infinite consequence that a true narrative of this meets the public eye--
they really are quire ignorant of it. Here now is Fort Cornelius, and
there is the moat, the sugar-basin is the citadel, and the tongs is the
first trench, the decanter will represent the tall tower towards the
south-west angle, and here, the wine glass--this is me. Well, it was a
little after ten at night that I got the order from the general in
command to march upon this plate of figs, which was an open space before
Fort Cornelius, and to take up my position in front of the fort, and with
four pieces of field artillery--these walnuts here--to be ready to open
my fire at a moment's warning upon the sou-west tower; but, my dear sir,
you have moved the tower; I thought you were drinking Madeira. As I said
before, to open my fire upon the sou-west tower, or if necessary protect
the sugar tongs, which I explained to you was the trench. Just at the
same time the besieged were making preparations for a sortie to occupy
this dish of almonds and raisins--the high ground to the left of my
position--put another log on the fire, if you please, sir, for I cannot
see myself--I thought I was up near the figs, and I find myself down near
the half moon."
"It is past nine," said a servant entering the room; "shall I take the
carriage for Miss Kamworth, sir?" This being the first time the name of
the young lady was mentioned since my arrival, I felt somewhat anxious to
hear more of her, in which laudable desire I was not however to be
gratified, for the colonel, feeling considerably annoyed by the
interruption, dismissed the servant by saying--
"What do you mean, sirrah, by coming in at this moment; don't you see I
am preparing for the attack on the half moon? Mr. Lorrequer, I beg your
pardon for one moment, this fellow has completely put me out; and
besides, I perceive, you have eaten the flying artillery, and in fact, my
dear sir, I shall be obliged to lay down the position again."
With this praiseworthy interest the colonel proceeded to arrange the
"materiel" of our dessert in battle array, when the door was suddenly
thrown open, and a very handsome girl, in a most becoming demi toilette,
sprung into the room, and either not noticing, or not caring, that a
stranger was present, threw herself into the old gentleman's arms, with a
degree of empressement, exceedingly vexatious for any third and
unoccupied party to witness.
"Mary, my dear," said the colonel, completely forgetting Java and Fort
Cornelius at once, "you don't perceive I have a gentleman to introduce to
you, Mr. Lorrequer, my daughter, Miss Kamworth," here the young lady
courtesied somewhat stiffly, and I bowed reverently; and we all resumed
places. I now found out that Miss Kamworth had been spending the
preceding four or five days at a friend's in the neighbourhood; and had
preferred coming home somewhat unexpectedly, to waiting for her own
My confessions, if recorded verbatim, from the notes of that four weeks'
sojourn, would only increase the already too prolix and uninteresting
details of this chapter in my life; I need only say, that without falling
in love with Mary Kamworth, I felt prodigiously disposed thereto; she was
extremely pretty; had a foot and ancle to swear by, the most silvery
toned voice I almost ever heard, and a certain witchery and archness of
manner that by its very tantalizing uncertainty continually provoked
attention, and by suggesting a difficulty in the road to success,
imparted a more than common zest in the pursuit. She was little, a very
little blue, rather a dabbler in the "ologies," than a real disciple.
Yet she made collections of minerals, and brown beetles, and
cryptogamias, and various other homeopathic doses of the creation,
infinitessimally small in their subdivision; in none of which I felt any
interest, save in the excuse they gave for accompanying her in her pony-
phaeton. This was, however, a rare pleasure, for every morning for at
least three or four hours I was obliged to sit opposite the colonel,
engaged in the compilation of that narrative of his "res gestae," which
was to eclipse the career of Napoleon and leave Wellington's laurels but
a very faded lustre in comparison. In this agreeable occupation did I
pass the greater part of my day, listening to the insufferable prolixity
of the most prolix of colonels, and at times, notwithstanding the
propinquity of relationship which awaited us, almost regretting that he
was not blown up in any of the numerous explosions his memoir abounded
with. I may here mention, that while my literary labour was thus
progressing, the young lady continued her avocations as before--not
indeed with me for her companion--but Waller; for Colonel Kamworth,
"having remarked the steadiness and propriety of my man, felt no scruple
in sending him out to drive Miss Kamworth," particularly as I gave him a
most excellent character for every virtue under heaven.
I must hasten on.--The last evening of my four weeks was drawing to a
close. Colonel Kamworth had pressed me to prolong my visit, and I only
waited for Waller's return from Cheltenham, whither I had sent him for my
letters, to make arrangements with him to absolve me from my ridiculous
bond, and accept the invitation. We were sitting round the library fire,
the colonel, as usual, narrating his early deeds and hair-breadth
'scapes. Mary, embroidering an indescribable something, which every
evening made its appearance but seemed never to advance, was rather in
better spirits than usual, at the same time her manner was nervous and
uncertain; and I could perceive by her frequent absence of mind, that her
thoughts were not as much occupied by the siege of Java as her worthy
father believed them. Without laying any stress upon the circumstance,
I must yet avow that Waller's not having returned from Cheltenham gave me
some uneasiness, and I more than once had recourse to the bell to demand
if "my servant had come back yet?" At each of these times I well
remember the peculiar expression of Mary's look, the half embarrassment,
half drollery, with which she listened to the question, and heard the
answer in the negative. Supper at length made its appearance; and I
asked the servant who waited, "if my man had brought me any letters,"
varying my inquiry to conceal my anxiety; and again, I heard he had not
returned. Resolving now to propose in all form for Miss Kamworth the
next morning, and by referring the colonel to my uncle Sir Guy, smooth,
as far as I could, all difficulties, I wished them good night and
retired; not, however, before the colonel had warned me that they were to
have an excursion to some place in the neighbourhood the next day; and
begging that I might be in the breakfast-room at nine, as they were to
assemble there from all parts, and start early on the expedition. I was
in a sound sleep the following morning, when a gentle tap at the door
awoke me; at the same time I recognised the voice of the colonel's
servant, saying, "Mr. Lorrequer, breakfast is waiting, sir."
I sprung up at once, and replying, "Very well, I shall come down,"
proceeded to dress in all haste, but to my horror, I could not discern a
vestige of my clothes; nothing remained of the habiliments I possessed
only the day before--even my portmanteau had disappeared. After a most
diligent search, I discovered on a chair in a corner of the room, a small
bundle tied up in a handkerchief, on opening which I perceived a new suit
of livery of the most gaudy and showy description and lace; of which
colour was also the coat, which had a standing collar and huge cuffs,
deeply ornamented with worked button holes and large buttons. As I
turned the things over, without even a guess of what they could mean, for
I was scarcely well awake, I perceived a small slip of paper fastened to
the coat sleeve, upon which, in Waller's hand-writing, the following few
words were written:
"The livery I hope will fit you, as I am rather particular about how
you'll look; get quietly down to the stable-yard and drive the
tilbury into Cheltenham, where wait for further orders from your
The horrible villany of this wild scamp actually paralysed me. That I
should put on such ridiculous trumpery was out of the question; yet what
was to be done? I rung the bell violently; "Where are my clothes,
"Don't know, sir; I was out all the morning, sir, and never seed them."
"There, Thomas, be smart now and send them up, will you?" Thomas
disappeared, and speedily returned to say, "that my clothes could not be
found any where; no one knew any thing of them, and begged me to come
down, as Miss Kamworth desired him to say that they were still waiting,
and she begged Mr. Lorrequer would not make an elaborate toilette, as
they were going on a country excursion." An elaborate toilette! I wish
to heaven she saw my costume; no, I'll never do it. "Thomas, you must
tell the ladies and the colonel, too, that I feel very ill; I am not able
to leave my bed; I am subject to attacks--very violent attacks in my
head, and must always be left quiet and alone--perfectly alone--mind me,
Thomas--for a day at least." Thomas departed; and as I lay distracted in
my bed, I heard, from the breakfast room, the loud laughter of many
persons evidently enjoying some excellent joke; could it be me they were
laughing at; the thought was horrible.
"Colonel Kamworth wishes to know if you'd like the doctor, sir," said
Thomas, evidently suppressing a most inveterate fit of laughing, as he
again appeared at the door.
"No, certainly not," said I, in a voice of thunder; "what the devil are
you grinning at?"
"You may as well come, my man; you're found out; they all know it now,"
said the fellow with an odious grin.
I jumped out of the bed, and hurled the boot-jack at him with all my
strength; but had only the satisfaction to hear him go down stairs
chuckling at his escape; and as he reached the parlour, the increase of
mirth and the loudness of the laughter told me that he was not the only
one who was merry at my expense. Any thing was preferable to this; down
stairs I resolved to go at once--but how; a blanket I thought would not
be a bad thing, and particularly as I had said I was ill; I could at
least get as far as Colonel Kamworth's dressing-room, and explain to him
the whole affair; but then if I was detected en route, which I was almost
sure to be, with so many people parading about the house. No; that would
never do, there was but one alternative, and dreadful, shocking as it
was, I could not avoid it, and with a heavy heart, and as much
indignation at Waller for what I could not but consider a most scurvy
trick, I donned the yellow inexpressibles; next came the vest, and last
the coat, with its broad flaps and lace excrescenses, fifty times more
absurd and merry-andrew than any stage servant who makes off with his
table and two chairs amid the hisses and gibes of an upper gallery.
If my costume leaned towards the ridiculous, I resolved that my air and
bearing should be more than usually austere and haughty; and with
something of the stride of John Kemble in Coriolanus, I was leaving my
bed-room, when I accidentally caught a view of myself in the glass; and
so mortified, so shocked was I, that I sank into a chair, and almost
abandoned my resolution to go on; the very gesture I had assumed for
vindication only increased the ridicule of my appearance; and the strange
quaintness of the costume totally obliterated every trace of any
characteristic of the wearer, so infernally cunning was its contrivance.
I don't think that the most saturnine martyr of gout and dyspepsia could
survey me without laughing. With a bold effort, I flung open my door,
hurried down the stairs, and reached the hall. The first person I met
was a kind of pantry boy, a beast only lately emancipated from the
plough, and destined after a dozen years' training as a servant, again to
be turned back to his old employ for incapacity; he grinned horribly for
a minute, as I passed, and then in a half whisper said--
"Maester, I advise ye run for it; they're a waiting for ye with the
constables in the justice's room!" I gave him a look of contemptuous
superiority at which he grinned the more, and passed on.
Without stopping to consider where I was going, I opened the door of the
breakfast-parlour, and found myself in one plunge among a room full of
people. My first impulse was to retreat again; but so shocked was I, at
the very first thing that met my sight, that I was perfectly powerless to
do any thing. Among a considerable number of people who stood in small
groups round the breakfast-table, I discerned Jack Waller, habited in a
very accurate black frock and dark trowsers, supporting upon his arm--
shall I confess--no less a person than Mary Kamworth, who leaned on him
with the familiarity of an old acquaintance, and chatted gaily with him.
The buzz of conversation which filled the apartment when I entered,
ceased for a second of deep silence; and then followed a peal of laughter
so long and so vociferous, that in my momentary anger I prayed some one
might burst a blood-vessel, and frighten the rest. I put on a look of
indescribable indignation, and cast a glance of what I intended should be
most withering scorn on the assembly; but alas! my infernal harlequin
costume ruined the effect; and confound me, if they did not laugh the
louder. I turned from one to the other with the air of a man who marks
out victims for his future wrath; but with no better success; at last,
amid the continued mirth of the party, I made my way towards where Waller
stood absolutely suffocated with laughter, and scarcely able to stand
"Waller," said I, in a voice half tremulous with rage and shame together;
"Waller, if this rascally trick be yours, rest assured no former term of
intimacy between us shall--"
Before I could conclude the sentence, a bustle at the door of the room,
called every attention in that direction; I turned and beheld Colonel
Kamworth, followed by a strong posse comitatus of constables, tipstaffs,
&c., armed to the teeth, and evidently prepared for vigorous battle.
Before I was able to point out my woes to my kind host, he burst out
"So you scoundrel, you impostor, you damned young villain, pretending to
be a gentleman, you get admission into a man's house and dine at his
table, when your proper place had been behind his chair.--How far he
might have gone, heaven can tell, if that excellent young gentleman, his
master, had not traced him here this morning--but you'll pay dearly for
it, you young rascal, that you shall."
"Colonel Kamworth," said I, drawing myself proudly up, (and I confess
exciting new bursts of laughter,) "Colonel Kamworth, for the expressions
you have just applied to me, a heavy reckoning awaits you; not, however,
before another individual now present shall atone for the insult he has
dared to pass upon me." Colonel Kamworth's passion at this declaration
knew no bounds; he cursed and swore absolutely like a madman, and vowed
that transportation for life would be a mild sentence for such iniquity.
Waller at length wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes, interposed
between the colonel and his victim, and begged that I might be forgiven;
"for indeed my dear sir," said he, "the poor fellow is of rather
respectable parentage, and such is his taste for good society that he'd
run any risk to be among his betters, although, as in the present case
the exposure brings a rather heavy retribution, however, let me deal with
him. Come, Henry," said he, with an air of insufferable superiority,
"take my tilbury into town, and wait for me at the George, I shall
endeavour to make your peace with my excellent friend, Colonel Kamworth;
and the best mode you can contribute to that object, is to let us have no
more of your society."
I cannot attempt to picture my rage at these words; however, escape from
this diabolical predicament was my only present object; and I rushed from
the room, and springing into the tilbury at the door, drove down the
avenue at the rate of fifteen miles per hour, amid the united cheers,
groans, and yells of the whole servants' hall, who seemed to enjoy my
"detection," even more than their betters. Meditating vengeance, sharp,
short, and decisive on Waller, the colonel, and every one else in the
infernal conspiracy against me, for I utterly forgot every vestige of our
agreement in the surprise by which I was taken, I reached Cheltenham.
Unfortunately I had no friend there to whose management I could commit
the bearing of a message, and was obliged as soon as I could procure
suitable costume, to hasten up to Coventry where the __th dragoons were
then quartered. I lost no time in selecting an adviser, and taking the
necessary steps to bring Master Waller to a reckoning; and on the third
morning we again reached Cheltenham, I thirsting for vengeance, and
bursting still with anger; not so, my friend, however, who never could
discuss the affair with common gravity, and even ventured every now and
then on a sly allusion to my yellow shorts. As we passed the last toll-
bar, a travelling carriage came whirling by with four horses at a
tremendous pace; and as the morning was frosty, and the sun scarcely
risen, the whole team were smoking and steaming so as to be half
invisible. We both remarked on the precipitancy of the party; for as our
own pace was considerable, the two vehicles passed like lightning. We
had scarcely dressed, and ordered breakfast, when a more than usual
bustle in the yard called us to the window; the waiter who came in at the
same instant told us that four horses were ordered out to pursue a young
lady who had eloped that morning with an officer.
"Ah, our friend in the green travelling chariot, I'll be bound," said my
companion; but as neither of us knew that part of the country, and I was
too engrossed by my own thoughts, I never inquired further. As the
chaise in chase drove round to the door, I looked to see what the pursuer
was like; and as he issued from the inn, recognised my "ci devant host,"
Colonel Kamworth. I need not say my vengeance was sated at once; he had
lost his daughter, and Waller was on the road to be married. Apologies
and explanations came in due time, for all my injuuries and sufferings;
and I confess, the part which pleased me most was, that I saw no more of
Jack for a considerable period after; he started for the continent, where
he has lived ever since on a small allowance, granted by his father-in-
law, and never paying me the stipulated sum, as I had clearly broken the
So much for my second attempt at matrimony; one would suppose that such
experience should be deemed sufficient to show that my talent did not lie
in that way. And here I must rest for the present, with the additional
confession, that so strong was the memory of that vile adventure, that I
refused a lucrative appointment under Lord Anglesey's government, when I
discovered that his livery included "yellow plush breeches;" to have such
"souvenirs" flitting around and about me, at dinner and elsewhere, would
have left me without a pleasure in existence.
DUBLIN--TOM O'FLAHERTY--A REMINISCENCE OF THE PENINSULA.
Dear, dirty Dublin--"Io te salute"--how many excellent things might be
said of thee, if, unfortunately, it did not happen that the theme is an
old one, and has been much better sung than it can ever now be said.
With thus much of apology for no more lengthened panegyric, let me beg of
my reader, if he be conversant with that most moving melody--the Groves
of Blarney--to hum the following lines, which I heard shortly after my
landing, and which well express my own feelings for the "loved spot."
Oh! Dublin, sure, there is no doubtin',
Beats every city upon the say.
'Tis there you'll see O'Connell spouting,
And Lady Morgan making "tay."
For 'tis the capital of the greatest nation
With finest peasantry on a fruitful sod,
Fighting like devils for conciliation,
And hating each other for the love of God.
Once more, then, I found myself in the "most car-drivingest city," en
route to join on the expiration of my leave. Since my departure, my
regiment had been ordered to Kilkenny, that sweet city, so famed in song
for its "fire without smoke;" but which, were its character in any way to
be derived from its past or present representative, might certainly, with
more propriety, reverse the epithet, and read "smoke without fire." My
last communication from head-quarters was full of nothing but gay doings
--balls, dinners, dejeunes, and more than all, private theatricals,
seemed to occupy the entire attention of every man of the gallant __th.
I was earnestly entreated to come, without waiting for the end of my
leave--that several of my old "parts were kept open for me;" and that, in
fact, the "boys of Kilkenny" were on tip-toe in expectation of my
arrival, as though his Majesty's mail were to convey a Kean or a Kemble.
I shuddered a little as I read this, and recollected "my last appearance
on any stage," little anticipating, at the moment, that my next was to be
nearly as productive of the ludicrous, as time and my confessions will
show. One circumstance, however, gave me considerable pleasure. It was
this:--I took it for granted that, in the varied and agreeable
occupations which so pleasurable a career opened, my adventures in love
would escape notice, and that I should avoid the merciless raillery my
two failures, in six months, might reasonably be supposed to call forth.
I therefore wrote a hurried note to Curzon, setting forth the great
interest all their proceedings had for me, and assuring him that my stay
in town should be as short as possible, for that I longed once more to
"strut the monarch of the boards," and concluded with a sly paragraph,
artfully intended to act as a "paratonnere" to the gibes and jests which
I dreaded, by endeavouring to make light of my matrimonial speculations.
The postscript ran somewhat thus--"Glorious fun have I had since we met;
but were it not that my good angel stood by me, I should write these
hurried lines with a wife at my elbow; but luck, that never yet deserted,
is still faithful to your old friend, H. Lorrequer."
My reader may suppose--for he is sufficiently behind the scenes with me--
with what feelings I penned these words; yet any thing was better than
the attack I looked forward to: and I should rather have changed into the
Cape Rifle Corps, or any other army of martyrs, than meet my mess with
all the ridicule my late proceedings exposed me to. Having disburthened
my conscience of this dread, I finished my breakfast, and set out on a
stroll through the town.
I believe it is Coleridge who somewhere says, that to transmit the first
bright and early impressions of our youth, fresh and uninjured to a
remote period of life, constitutes one of the loftiest prerogatives of
genius. If this be true, and I am not disposed to dispute it--what a
gifted people must be the worthy inhabitants of Dublin; for I scruple not
to affirm, that of all cities of which we have any record in history,
sacred or profane, there is not one so little likely to disturb the
tranquil current of such reminiscences. "As it was of old, so is it
now," enjoying a delightful permanency in all its habits and customs,
which no changes elsewhere disturb or affect; and in this respect I defy
O'Connell and all the tail to refuse it the epithet of "Conservative."
Had the excellent Rip Van Winkle, instead of seeking his repose upon the
cold and barren acclivities of the Kaatskills--as we are veritably
informed by Irving--but betaken himself to a comfortable bed at
Morrison's or the Bilton, not only would he have enjoyed a more agreeable
siesta, but, what the event showed of more consequence, the pleasing
satisfaction of not being disconcerted by novelty on his awakening. It
is possible that the waiter who brought him the water to shave, for Rip's
beard, we are told, had grown uncommonly long--might exhibit a little of
that wear and tear to which humanity is liable from time; but had he
questioned him as to the ruling topics--the proper amusements of the day
--he would have heard, as he might have done twenty years before, that
there was a meeting to convert Jews at the Rotunda; another to rob
parsons at the Corn Exchange; that the Viceroy was dining with the
Corporation, and congratulating them on the prosperity of Ireland, while
the inhabitants were regaled with a procession of the "broad ribbon
weavers," who had not weaved, heaven knows when! This, with an
occasional letter from Mr. O'Connell, and now and then a duel in the
"Phaynix," constituted the current pastimes of the city. Such, at least,
were they in my day; and though far from the dear locale, an odd flitting
glance at the newspapers induces me to believe that matters are not much
I rambled through the streets for some hours, revolving such thoughts as
pressed upon me involuntarily by all I saw. The same little grey
homunculus that filled my "prince's mixture" years before, stood behind
the counter at Lundy Foot's, weighing out rappee and high toast, just as
I last saw him. The fat college porter, that I used to mistake in my
school-boy days for the Provost, God forgive me! was there as fat and as
ruddy as heretofore, and wore his Roman costume of helmet and plush
breeches, with an air as classic. The old state trumpeter at the castle,
another object of my youthful veneration, poor "old God save the King" as
we used to call him, walked the streets as of old; his cheeks indeed, a
little more lanky and tendinous; but then there had been many viceregal
changes, and the "one sole melody his heart delighted in," had been more
frequently called in requisition, as he marched in solemn state with the
other antique gentlemen in tabards. As I walked along, each moment some
old and early association being suggested by the objects around, I felt
my arm suddenly seized. I turned hastily round, and beheld a very old
companion in many a hard-fought field and merry bivouack. Tom O'Flaherty
of the 8th. Poor Tom was sadly changed since we last met, which was at
a ball in Madrid. He was then one of the best-looking fellows of his
"style" I ever met,--tall and athletic, with the easy bearing of a man of
the world, and a certain jauntiness that I have never seen but in
Irishmen who have mixed much in society.
There was also a certain peculiar devil-may-care recklessness about the
self-satisfied swagger of his gait, and the free and easy glance of his
sharp black eye, united with a temper that nothing could ruffle, and a
courage nothing could daunt. With such qualities as these, he had been
the prime favourite of his mess, to which he never came without some
droll story to relate, or some choice expedient for future amusement.
Such had Tom once been; now he was much altered, and though the quiet
twinkle of his dark eye showed that the spirit of fun within was not
"dead, but only sleeping,"--to myself, who knew something of his history,
it seemed almost cruel to awaken him to any thing which might bring him
back to the memory of by-gone days. A momentary glance showed me that he
was no longer what he had been, and that the unfortunate change in his
condition, the loss of all his earliest and oldest associates, and his
blighted prospects, had nearly broken a heart that never deserted a
friend, nor quailed before an enemy. Poor O'Flaherty was no more the
delight of the circle he once adorned; the wit that "set the table in a
roar" was all but departed. He had been dismissed the service!!--The
story is a brief one:--
In the retreat from Burgos, the __ Light Dragoons, after a most fatiguing
day's march, halted at the wretched village of Cabenas. It had been
deserted by the inhabitants the day before, who, on leaving, had set it
on fire; and the blackened walls and fallen roof-trees were nearly all
that now remained to show where the little hamlet had once stood.
Amid a down-pour of rain, that had fallen for several hours, drenched to
the skin, cold, weary, and nearly starving, the gallant 8th reached this
melancholy spot at nightfall, with little better prospect of protection
from the storm than the barren heath through which their road led might
afford them. Among the many who muttered curses, not loud but deep, on
the wretched termination to their day's suffering, there was one who kept
up his usual good spirits, and not only seemed himself nearly regardless
of the privations and miseries about him, but actually succeeded in
making the others who rode alongside as perfectly forgetful of their
annoyances and troubles as was possible under such circumstances. Good
stories, joking allusions to the more discontented ones of the party,
ridiculous plans for the night's encampment, followed each other so
rapidly, that the weariness of the way was forgotten; and while some were
cursing their hard fate, that ever betrayed them into such misfortunes,
the little group round O'Flaherty were almost convulsed with laughter at
the wit and drollery of one, over whom if the circumstances had any
influence, they seemed only to heighten his passion for amusement. In
the early part of the morning he had captured a turkey, which hung
gracefully from his holster on one side, while a small goat-skin of
Valencia wine balanced it on the other. These good things were destined
to form a feast that evening, to which he had invited four others; that
being, according to his most liberal calculation, the greatest number to
whom he could afford a reasonable supply of wine.
When the halt was made, it took some time to arrange the dispositions for
the night; and it was nearly midnight before all the regiment had got
their billets and were housed, even with such scanty accommodation as the
place afforded. Tom's guests had not yet arrived, and he himself was
busily engaged in roasting the turkey before a large fire, on which stood
a capacious vessel of spiced wine, when the party appeared. A very
cursory "reconnaissance" through the house, one of the only ones
untouched in the village, showed that from the late rain it would be
impossible to think of sleeping in the lower story, which already showed
signs of being flooded; they therefore proceeded in a body up stairs, and
what was their delight to find a most comfortable room, neatly furnished
with chairs, and a table; but, above all, a large old-fashioned bed, an
object of such luxury as only an old campaigner can duly appreciate. The
curtains were closely tucked in all round, and, in their fleeting and
hurried glance, they felt no inclination to disturb them, and rather
proceeded to draw up the table before the hearth, to which they speedily
removed the fire from below; and, ere many minutes, with that activity
which a bivouack life invariably teaches, their supper smoked before
them, and five happier fellows did not sit down that night within a large
circuit around. Tom was unusually great; stories of drollery unlocked
before, poured from him unceasingly, and what with his high spirits to
excite them, and the reaction inevitable after a hard day's severe march,
the party soon lost the little reason that usually sufficed to guide
them, and became as pleasantly tipsy as can well be conceived. However,
all good things must have an end, and so had the wine-skin. Tom had
placed it affectionately under his arm like a bag-pipe and failed, with
even a most energetic squeeze, to extract a drop; there was no nothing
for it but to go to rest, and indeed it seemed the most prudent thing for
The bed became accordingly a subject of grave deliberation; for as it
could only hold two, and the party were five, there seemed some
difficulty in submitting their chances to lot, which all agreed was the
fairest way. While this was under discussion, one of the party had
approached the contested prize, and, taking up the curtains, proceeded to
jump in--when, what was his astonishment to discover that it was already
occupied. The exclamation of surprise he gave forth soon brought the
others to his side; and to their horror, drunk as they were, they found
that the body before them was that of a dead man, arrayed in all the
ghastly pomp of a corpse. A little nearer inspection showed that he had
been a priest, probably the Padre of the village; on his head he had a
small velvet skull cap, embroidered with a cross, and his body was
swathed in a vestment, such as priests usually wear at the mass; in his
hand he held a large wax taper, which appeared to have burned only half
down, and probably been extinguished by the current of air on opening
the door. After the first brief shock which this sudden apparition had
caused, the party recovered as much of their senses as the wine had
left them, and proceeded to discuss what was to be done under the
circumstances; for not one of them ever contemplated giving up a bed
to a dead priest, while five living men slept on the ground. After much
altercation, O'Flaherty, who had hitherto listened without speaking,
interrupted the contending parties, saying, "stop, lads, I have it."
"Come," said one of them, "let us hear Tom's proposal."
"Oh," said he, with difficulty steadying himself while he spoke, "we'll
put him to bed with old Ridgeway, the quarter-master!"
The roar of loud laughter that followed Tom's device was renewed again
and again, till not a man could speak from absolute fatigue. There was
not a dissentient voice. Old Ridgeway was hated in the corps, and a
better way of disposing of the priest and paying off the quarter-master
could not be thought of.
Very little time sufficed for their preparations; and if they had been
brought up under the Duke of Portland himself, they could not have
exhibited a greater taste for a "black job." The door of the room was
quickly taken from its hinges, and the priest placed upon it at full
length; a moment more sufficed to lift the door upon their shoulders,
and, preceded by Tom, who lit a candle in honour of being, as he said,
"chief mourner," they took their way through the camp towards Ridgeway's
quarters. When they reached the hut where their victim lay, Tom ordered
a halt, and proceeded stealthily into the house to reconnoitre. The old
quarter-master he found stretched on his sheep-skin before a large fire,
the remnants of an ample supper strewed about him, and two empty bottles
standing on the hearth--his deep snoring showed that all was safe, and
that no fears of his awaking need disturb them. His shako and sword lay
near him, but his sabertasche was under his head. Tom carefully withdrew
the two former; and hastening to his friends without, proceeded to
decorate the priest with them; expressing, at the same time, considerable
regret that he feared it might wake Ridgeway, if he were to put the
velvet skull-cap on him for a night-cap.
Noiselessly and steadily they now entered, and proceeded to put down
their burden, which, after a moment's discussion, they agreed to place
between the quarter-master and the fire, of which, hitherto, he had
reaped ample benefit. This done, they stealthily retreated, and hurried
back to their quarters, unable to speak with laughter at the success of
their plot, and their anticipation of Ridgeway's rage on awakening in the
It was in the dim twilight of a hazy morning, that the bugler of the 8th
aroused the sleeping soldiers from their miserable couches, which,
wretched as they were, they, nevertheless, rose from reluctantly--so
wearied and fatigued had they been by the preceding day's march; not one
among the number felt so indisposed to stir as the worthy quarter-master;
his peculiar avocations had demanded a more than usual exertion on his
part, and in the posture he had laid down at night, he rested till
morning, without stirring a limb. Twice the reveille had rung through
the little encampment, and twice the quarter-master had essayed to open
his eyes, but in vain; at last he made a tremendous effort, and sat bolt
upright on the floor, hoping that the sudden effort might sufficiently
arouse him; slowly his eyes opened, and the first thing they beheld was
the figure of the dead priest, with a light cavalry helmet on his head,
seated before him. Ridgeway, who was "bon Catholique," trembled in every
joint--it might be a ghost, it might be a warning, he knew not what to
think--he imagined the lips moved, and so overcome with terror was he at
last, that he absolutely shouted like a maniac, and never cased till the
hut was filled with officers and men, who hearing the uproar ran to his
aid--the surprise of the poor quarter-master at the apparition, was
scarcely greater than that of the beholders--no one was able to afford
any explanation of the circumstance, though all were assured that it must
have been done in jest--the door upon which the priest had been conveyed,
afforded the clue--they had forgotten to restore it to its place--
accordingly the different billets were examined, and at last O'Flaherty
was discovered in a most commodious bed, in a large room without a door,
still fast asleep, and alone; how and when he had parted from his
companions, he never could precisely explain, though he has since
confessed it was part of his scheme to lead them astray in the village,
and then retire to the bed, which he had determined to appropriate to his
Old Ridgeway's rage knew no bounds; he absolutely foamed with passion,
and in proportion as he was laughed at his choler rose higher; had this
been the only result, it had been well for poor Tom, but unfortunately
the affair got to be rumoured through the country--the inhabitants of the
village learned the indignity with which the Padre had been treated; they
addressed a memorial to Lord Wellington--inquiry was immediately
instituted--O'Flaherty was tried by court martial, and found guilty;
nothing short of the heaviest punishment that could be inflicted under
the circumstances would satisfy the Spaniards, and at that precise period
it was part of our policy to conciliate their esteem by every means in
our power. The commander-in-chief resolved to make what he called an
"example," and poor O'Flaherty--the life and soul of his regiment--the
darling of his mess, was broke, and pronounced incapable of ever serving
his Majesty again. Such was the event upon which my poor friend's
fortune in life seemed to hinge--he returned to Ireland, if not entirely
broken-hearted, so altered that his best friends scarcely knew him; his
"occupation was gone;" the mess had been his home; his brother officers
were to him in place of relatives, and he had lost all. His after life
was spent in rambling from one watering place to another, more with the
air of one who seeks to consume than enjoy his time; and with such a
change in appearance as the alteration in his fortune had effected, he
now stood before me, but altogether so different a man, that but for the
well-known tones of a voice that had often convulsed me with laughter, I
should scarcely have recognised him.
"Lorrequer, my old friend, I never thought of seeing you here--this is
indeed a piece of good luck."
"Why, Tom? You surely knew that the __ were in Ireland, didn't you?"
"To be sure. I dined with them only a few days ago, but they told me you
were off to Paris, to marry something superlatively beautiful, and most
enormously rich, the daughter of a duke, if I remember right; but certes,
they said your fortune was made, and I need not tell you, there was not a
man among them better pleased that I was to hear it."
"Oh! they said so, did they? Droll dogs--always quizzing--I wonder you
did not perceive the hoax--eh--very good, was it not?" This I poured out
in short broken sentences, blushing like scarlet, and fidgeting like a
school girl with downright nervousness.
"A hoax! devilish well done too,"--said Tom, "for old Carden believed
the whole story, and told me that he had obtained a six months' leave for
you to make your 'com.' and, moreover, said that he had got a letter from
the nobleman, Lord _____ confound his name."
"Lord Grey, is it?" said I, with a sly look at Tom.
"No, my dear friend," said he drily, "it was not Lord Grey--but to
continue--he had got a letter from him, dated from Paris, stating his
surprise that you had never joined them there, according to promise, and
that they knew your cousin Guy, and a great deal of other matter I can't
remember--so what does all this mean? Did you hoax the noble Lord as
well as the Horse Guards, Harry?"
This was indeed a piece of news for me; I stammered out some ridiculous
explanation, and promised a fuller detail. Could it be that I had done
the Callonbys injustice, and that they never intended to break off my
attention to Lady Jane--that she was still faithful, and that of all
concerned I alone had been to blame. Oh! how I hoped this might be the
case; heavily as my conscience might accuse, I longed ardently to forgive
and deal mercifully with myself. Tom continued to talk about indifferent
matters, as these thoughts flitted through my mind; perceiving at last
that I did not attend, he stopped suddenly and said--
"Harry, I see clearly that something has gone wrong, and perhaps I can
make a guess at the mode too: but however, you can do nothing about it
now; come and dine with me to-day, and we'll discuss the affair together
after dinner; or if you prefer a 'distraction,' as we used to say in
Dunkerque, why then I'll arrange something fashionable for your evening's
amusement. Come, what say you to hearing Father Keogh preach, or would
you like a supper at the Carlingford, or perhaps you prefer a soiree chez
Miladi; for all of these Dublin affords--all three good in their way, and
"Well, Tom, I'm yours; but I should prefer your dining with me; I am at
Bilton's; we'll have our cutlet quite alone, and--"
"And be heartily sick of each other, you were going to add. No, no,
Harry; you must dine with me; I have some remarkably nice people to
present you to--six is the hour--sharp six--number ___ Molesworth-street,
Mrs. Clanfrizzle's--easily find it--large fanlight over the door--huge
lamp in the hall, and a strong odour of mutton broth for thirty yards on
each side of the premises--and as good luck would have it, I see old Daly
the counsellor, as they call him, he's the very man to get to meet you,
you always liked a character, eh!"
Saying this, O'Flaherty disengaged himself from my arm, and hurried
across the street towards a portly middle-aged looking gentleman, with
the reddest face I ever beheld. After a brief but very animated
colloquy, Tom returned, and informed that that all was right; he had
"And who is Daly?" said I, inquiringly, for I was rather interested in
hearing what peculiar qualification as a diner-out the counsellor might
lay claim to, many of Tom's friends being as remarkable for being the
quizzed as the quizzers.
"Daly," said he, "is the brother of a most distinguished member of the
Irish bar, of which he himself is also a follower, bearing however, no
other resemblance to the clever man than the name, for as assuredly as
the reputation of the one is inseparably linked with success, so
unerringly is the other coupled with failure, and strange to say, that
the stupid man is fairly convinced that his brother owes all his success
to him, and that to his disinterested kindness the other is indebted for
his present exalted station. Thus it is through life; there seems ever
to accompany dullness a sustaining power of vanity, that like a life-
buoy, keeps a mass afloat whose weight unassisted would sink into
obscurity. Do you know that my friend Denis there imagines himself the
first man that ever enlightened Sir Robert Peel as to Irish affairs; and,
upon my word, his reputation on this head stands incontestably higher
than on most others."
"You surely cannot mean that Sir Roert Peel ever consulted with, much
less relied upon, the statements of such a person, as you described you
friend Denis to be?"
"He did both--and if he was a little puzzled by the information,
the only disgrace attaches to a government that send men to rule over
us unacquainted with our habits of thinking, and utterly ignorant of the
language--ay, I repeat it--but come, you shall judge for yourself; the
story is a short one, and fortunately so, for I must hasten home to give
timely notice of your coming to dine with me. When the present Sir
Robert Peel, then Mr. Peel, came over here, as secretary to Ireland,
a very distinguished political leader of the day invited a party to meet
him at dinner, consisting of men of different political leanings; among
whom were, as may be supposed, many members of the Irish bar; the elder
Daly was too remarkable a person to be omitted, but as the two brothers
resided together, there was a difficulty about getting him--however, he
must be had, and the only alternative that presented itself was adopted
--both were invited. When the party descended to the dining-room,
by one of those unfortunate accidents, which as the proverb informs us
occasionally take place in the best regulated establishments, the wrong
Mr. Daly got placed beside Mr. Peel, which post of honor had been
destined by the host for the more agreeable and talented brother.
There was now no help for it; and with a heart somewhat nervous for the
consequences of the proximity, the worthy entertainer sat down to do the
honors as best he might; he was consoled during dinner by observing
that the devotion bestowed by honest Denis on the viands before him
effectually absorbed his faculties, and thereby threw the entire of
Mr. Peel's conversation towards the gentleman on his other flank.
This happiness was like most others, destined to be a brief one.
As the dessert made its appearance, Mr. Peel began to listen with some
attention to the conversation of the persons opposite; with one of whom
he was struck most forcibly--so happy a power of illustration, so vivid a
fancy, such logical precision in argument as he evinced, perfectly
charmed and surprised him. Anxious to learn the name of so gifted an
individual, he turned towards his hitherto silent neighbour and demanded
who he was.
"'Who is he, is it?' said Denis, hesitatingly, as if he half doubted such
extent of ignorance as not to know the person alluded to.
"Mr. Peel bowed in acquiescence.
"'That's Bushe!' said Denis, giving at the same time the same sound to
the vowel, u, as it obtains when occurring in the word 'rush.'
"'I beg pardon,' said Mr. Peel, 'I did not hear.'
"'Bushe!' replied Denis, with considerable energy of tone.
"'Oh, yes! I know,' said the secretary, 'Mr. Bushe, a very distinguished
member of your bar, I have heard.'
"'Faith, you may say that!' said Denis, tossing off his wine at what he
esteemed a very trite observation.
"'Pray,' said Mr. Peel, again returning to the charge, though certainly
feeling not a little surprised at the singular laconicism of his
informant, no less than the mellifluous tones of an accent then perfectly
new to him. 'Pray, may I ask, what is the peculiar character of Mr.
Bushe's eloquence? I mean of course, in his professional capacity.'
"'Eh!' said Denis, 'I don't comprehend you exactly.'
"'I mean,' said Mr. Peel, 'in one word, what's his forte?'
"'I mean what his peculiar gift consists in--'
"'Oh, I perceave--I have ye now--the juries!'
"'Ah! addressing a jury.'
"'Ay, the juries.'
"'Can you oblige me by giving me any idea of the manner in which he
obtains such signal success in this difficult branch of eloquence.'
"'I'll tell ye,' said Denis, leisurely finishing his glass, and smacking
his lips, with the air of a man girding up his loins for a mighty effort,
'I'll tell ye--well, ye see the way he has is this,'--here Mr. Peel's
expectation rose to the highest degree of interest,--'the way he has is
this--he first butthers them up, and then slithers them down! that's all,
devil a more of a secret there's in it.'"
How much reason Denis had to boast of imparting early information to the
new secretary I leave my English readers to guess; my Irish ones I may
trust to do him ample justice.
My friend now left me to my own devices to while away the hours till time
to dress for dinner. Heaven help the gentleman so left in Dublin, say I.
It is, perhaps, the only city of its size in the world, where there is no
lounge--no promenade. Very little experience of it will convince you
that it abounds in pretty women, and has its fair share of agreeable men;
but where are they in the morning? I wish Sir Dick Lauder, instead of
speculating where salmon spent the Christmas holidays, would apply his
most inquiring mind to such a question as this. True it is, however,
they are not to be found. The squares are deserted--the streets are very
nearly so--and all that is left to the luckless wanderer in search of the
beautiful, is to ogle the beauties of Dame-street, who are shopkeepers in
Grafton-street, or the beauties of Grafton-street, who are shopkeepers in
Dame-street. But, confound it, how cranky I am getting--I must be
tremendously hungry. True, it's past six. So now for my suit of sable,
and then to dinner.
DUBLIN--THE BOARDING-HOUSE--SELECT SOCIETY.
Punctual to my appointment with O'Flaherty, I found myself a very few
minutes after six o'clock at Mrs. Clanfrizzle's door. My very
authoritative summons at the bell was answered by the appearance of a
young, pale-faced invalid, in a suit of livery the taste of which bore a
very unpleasant resemblance to the one I so lately figured in. It was
with considerable difficulty I persuaded this functionary to permit my
carrying my hat with me to the drawing-room, a species of caution on my
part--as he esteemed it--savouring much of distrust. This point however,
I carried, and followed him up a very ill-lighted stair to the drawing-
room; here I was announced by some faint resemblance to my real name,
but sufficiently near to bring my friend Tom at once to meet me, who
immediately congratulated me on my fortune in coming off so well, for
that the person who preceded me, Mr. Jones Blennerhasset, had been just
announced as Mr. Blatherhasit--a change the gentleman himself was not
disposed to adopt--"But come along, Harry, while we are waiting for Daly,
let me make you known to some of our party; this, you must know, is a
boarding-house, and always has some capital fun--queerest people you ever
met--I have only one hint--cut every man, woman, and child of them, if
you meet them hereafter--I do it myself, though I have lived here these
six months." Pleasant people, thought I, these must be, with whom such a
line is advisable, much less practicable.
"Mrs. Clanfrizzle, my friend Mr. Lorrequer; thinks he'll stay the summer
in town. Mrs. Clan--, should like him to be one of us." This latter was
said sotto voce, and was a practice he continued to adopt in presenting
me to his several friends through the room.
Miss Riley, a horrid old fright, in a bird of paradise plume, and corked
eyebrows, gibbetted in gilt chains and pearl ornaments, and looking as
the grisettes say, "superbe en chrysolite"--"Miss Riley, Captain
Lorrequer, a friend I have long desired to present to you--fifteen
thousand a-year and a baronetcy, if he has sixpence"--sotto again.
"Surgeon M'Culloch--he likes the title," said Tom in a whisper--"Surgeon,
Captain Lorrequer. By the by, lest I forget it, he wishes to speak to
you in the morning about his health; he is stopping at Sandymount for the
baths; you could go out there, eh!" The tall thing in green spectacles
bowed, and acknowledged Tom's kindness by a knowing touch of the elbow.
In this way he made the tour of the room for about ten minutes, during
which brief space, I was according to the kind arrangements of
O'Flaherty, booked as a resident in the boarding-house--a lover to at
least five elderly, and three young ladies--a patient--a client--a second
in a duel to a clerk in the post-office--and had also volunteered
(through him always) to convey, by all of his Majesty's mails, as many
parcels, packets, band-boxes, and bird-cages, as would have comfortably
filled one of Pickford's vans. All this he told me was requisite to my
being well received, though no one thought much of any breach of compact
subsequently, except Mrs. Clan--herself. The ladies had, alas! been
often treated vilely before; the doctor had never had a patient; and as
for the belligerent knight of the dead office, he'd rather die than fight
The last person to whom my friend deemed it necessary to introduce me,
was a Mr. Garret Cudmore, from the Reeks of Kerry, lately matriculated to
all the honors of freshmanship in the Dublin university. This latter was
a low-sized, dark-browed man, with round shoulders, and particularly long
arms, the disposal of which seemed sadly to distress him. He possessed
the most perfect brogue I ever listened to; but it was difficult to get
him to speak, for on coming up to town some weeks before, he had been
placed by some intelligent friend at Mrs. Clanfrizzle's establishment,
with the express direction to mark and thoroughly digest as much as he
could of the habits and customs of the circle about him, which he was
rightly informed was the very focus of good breeding and haut ton; but
on no account, unless driven thereto by the pressure of sickness,
or the wants of nature, to trust himself with speech, which, in his
then uninformed state, he was assured would inevitably ruin him
among his fastidiously cultivated associates.
To the letter and the spirit of the despatch he had received, the worthy
Garret acted rigidly, and his voice was scarcely ever known to transgress
the narrow limits prescribed by his friends. In more respects that one,
was this a good resolve; for so completely had he identified himself with
college habits, things, and phrases, that whenever he conversed, he
became little short of unintelligible to the vulgar--a difficulty not
decreased by his peculiar pronunciation.
My round of presentation was just completed, when the pale figure in
light blue livery announced Counsellor Daly and dinner, for both came
fortunately together. Taking the post of honour, Miss Riley's arm, I
followed Tom, who I soon perceived ruled the whole concern, as he led
the way with another ancient vestal in black stain and bugles. The long
procession wound its snake-like length down the narrow stair, and into
the dining-room, where at last we all got seated; and here let me briefly
vindicate the motives of my friend--should any unkind person be found to
impute to his selection of a residence, any base and grovelling passion
for gourmandaise, that day's experience should be an eternal vindication
of him. The soup--alas! that I should so far prostitute the word; for
the black broth of Sparta was mock turtle in comparison--retired to make
way for a mass of beef, whose tenderness I did not question; for it sank
beneath the knife of the carver like a feather bed--the skill of Saladin
himself would have failed to divide it. The fish was a most rebellious
pike, and nearly killed every loyal subject at table; and then down the
sides were various comestibles of chickens, with azure bosoms, and hams
with hides like a rhinoceros; covered dishes of decomposed vegetable
matter, called spinach and cabbage; potatoes arrayed in small masses, and
browned, resembling those ingenious architectural structures of mud,
children raise in the high ways, and call dirt-pies. Such were the chief
constituents of the "feed;" and such, I am bound to confess, waxed
beautifully less under the vigorous onslaught of the party.
The conversation soon became both loud and general. That happy
familiarity--which I had long believed to be the exclusive prerogative of
a military mess, where constant daily association sustains the interest
of the veriest trifles--I here found in a perfection I had not
anticipated, with this striking difference, that there was no absurd
deference to any existing code of etiquette in the conduct of the party
generally, each person quizzing his neighbour in the most free and easy
style imaginable, and all, evidently from long habit and conventional
usage, seeming to enjoy the practice exceedingly. Thus, droll allusions,
good stories, and smart repartees, fell thick as hail, and twice as
harmless, which any where else that I had ever heard of, would assuredly
have called for more explanations, and perhaps gunpowder, in the morning,
than usually are deemed agreeable. Here, however, they knew better; and
though the lawyer quizzed the doctor for never having another patient
than the house dog, all of whose arteries he had tied in the course of
the winter for practice--and the doctor retorted as heavily, by showing
that the lawyer's practice had been other than beneficial to those for
whom he was concerned--his one client being found guilty, mainly through
his ingenious defence of him; yet they never showed any, the slightest
irritation--on the contrary, such little playful badinage ever led to
some friendly passages of taking wine together, or in arrangements for a
party to the "Dargle," or "Dunleary;" and thus went on the entire party,
the young ladies darting an occasion slight at their elders, who
certainly returned the fire, often with advantage; all uniting now and
then, however, in one common cause, an attack of the whole line upon Mrs.
Clanfrizzle herself, for the beef, or the mutton, or the fish, or the
poultry--each of which was sure to find some sturdy defamer, ready and
willing to give evidence in dispraise. Yet even these, and I thought
them rather dangerous sallies, led to no more violent results than
dignified replies from the worthy hostess, upon the goodness of her fare,
and the evident satisfaction it afforded while being eaten, if the
appetites of the party were a test. While this was at its height, Tom
stooped behind my chair, and whispered gently--
"This is good--isn't it, eh?--life in a boarding-house--quite new to you;
but they are civilized now compared to what you'll find them in the
drawing-room. When short whist for five-penny points sets in--then Greek
meets Greek, and we'll have it."
During all this melee tournament, I perceived that the worthy jib as
he would be called in the parlance of Trinity, Mr. Cudmore, remained
perfectly silent, and apparently terrified. The noise, the din of
voices, and the laughing, so completely addled him, that he was like one
in a very horrid dream. The attention with which I had observed him,
having been remarked by my friend O'Flaherty, he informed me that the
scholar, as he was called there, was then under a kind of cloud--an
adventure which occurred only two nights before, being too fresh in his
memory to permit him enjoying himself even to the limited extent it had
been his wont to do. As illustrative, not only of Mr. Cudmore, but the
life I have been speaking of, I may as well relate it.
Soon after Mr. Cudmore's enlistment under the banners of the
Clanfrizzle, he had sought and found an asylum in the drawing-room of the
establishment, which promised, from its geographical relations, to expose
him less to the molestations of conversation than most other parts of the
room. This was a small recess beside the fire-place, not uncommon in
old-fashioned houses, and which, from its incapacity to hold more than
one, secured to the worthy recluse the privacy he longed for; and here,
among superannuated hearth-brushes, an old hand screen, an asthmatic
bellows, and a kettle-holder, sat the timid youth, "alone, but in a
crowd." Not all the seductions of loo, limited to three pence, nor even
that most appropriately designated game, beggar-my-neighbour--could
withdraw him from his blest retreat. Like his countryman, St. Kevin--my
friend Petrie has ascertained that the saint was a native of Tralee--he
fled from the temptations of the world, and the blandishments of the
fair; but, alas! like the saint himself, the
"poor jib little knew
All that wily sex can do;"
For while he hugged himself in the security of his fortress, the web of
his destiny was weaving. So true is it, as he himself used, no less
pathetically than poetically to express it, "misfortune will find you
out, if ye were hid in a tay chest."
It happened that in Mrs. Clanfrizzle's establishment, the "enfant bleu,"
already mentioned, was the only individual of his sex retained; and
without for a moment disparaging the ability or attentions of this gifted
person, yet it may reasonably be credited, that in waiting on a party of
twenty-five or thirty persons at dinner, all of whom he had admitted as
porter, and announced as maitre d'hotel, with the subsequent detail of
his duties in the drawing-room, that Peter, blue Peter--his boarding-
house soubriquet--not enjoying the bird-like privilege of "being in two
places at once," gave one rather the impression of a person of hasty and
fidgetty habits--for which nervous tendency the treatment he underwent
was certainly injudicious--it being the invariable custom for each guest
to put his services in requisition, perfectly irrespective of all other
claims upon him, from whatsoever quarter coming--and then, at the precise
moment that the luckless valet was snuffing the candles, he was abused by
one for not bringing coal; by another for having carried off his tea-cup,
sent on an expedition for sugar; by a third for having left the door
open, which he had never been near; and so on to the end of the chapter.
It chanced that a few evenings previous to my appearance at the house,
this indefatigable Caleb was ministering as usual to the various and
discrepant wants of the large party assembled in the drawing-room. With
his wonted alacrity he had withdrawn from their obscure retreat against
the wall, sundry little tables, destined for the players at whist, or
"spoil five"--the popular game of the establishment. With a dexterity
that savoured much of a stage education, he had arranged the candles, the
cards, the counters; he had poked the fire, settled the stool for Miss
Riley's august feet, and was busily engaged in changing five shillings
into small silver for a desperate victim of loo--when Mrs. Clanfrizzle's
third, and, as it appeared, last time, of asking for the kettle smote
upon his ear. His loyalty would have induced him at once to desert every
thing on such an occasion; but the other party engaged, held him fast,
"Never mind HER, Peter--you have sixpence more to give me."
Poor Peter rummaged one pocket, then another--discovering at last three
pence in copper, and some farthings, with which he seemed endeavouring to
make a composition with his creditor for twelve shillings in the pound;
when Mrs. Clan's patience finally becoming exhausted, she turned towards
Mr. Cudmore, the only unemployed person she could perceive, and with her
blandest smile said,
"Mr. Cudmore, may I take the liberty of requesting you would hand me the
kettle beside you."
Now, though the kettle aforesaid was, as the hostess very properly
observed, beside him, yet the fact that in complying with the demand, it
was necessary for the bashful youth to leave the recess he occupied, and,
with the kettle, proceed to walk half across the room--there to perform
certain manual operations requiring skill and presence of mind, before a
large and crowded assembly--was horror to the mind of the poor Jib; and
he would nearly as soon have acceded to a desire to dance a hornpipe, if
such had been suggested as the wish of the company. However, there was
nothing for it; and summoning up all his nerve--knitting his brows--
clenching his teeth, like one prepared to "do or die," he seized the
hissing cauldron, and strode through the room, like the personified
genius of steam, very much to the alarm of all the old ladies in the
vicinity, whose tasteful drapery benefitted but little from his progress.
Yet he felt but little of all this; he had brought up his courage to the
sticking place, and he was absolutely half unconscious of the whole scene
before him; nor was it till some kind mediator had seized his arm, while
another drew him back by the skirts of the coat, that he desisted from
the deluge of hot water, with which, having filled the tea-pot, he
proceeded to swamp every thing else upon the tray, in his unfortunate
abstraction. Mrs. Clanfrizzle screamed--the old ladies accompanied her
--the young ones tittered--the men laughed--and, in a word, poor Cudmore,
perfectly unconscious of any thing extraordinary, felt himself the
admired of all admirers,--very little, it is true, to his own
satisfaction. After some few minutes exposure to these eclats de rire,
he succeeded in depositing the source of his griefs within the fender,
and once more retired to his sanctuary,--having registered a vow, which,
should I speak it, would forfeit his every claim to gallantry for ever.
Whether in the vow aforesaid Mr. Cudmore had only been engaged in that
species of tesselating which furnishes the pavement so celebrated in the
lower regions, I know not; but true it is, that he retired that night to
his chamber very much discomfited at his debut in the great world, and
half disposed to believe that nature had neither intended him for a
Brummel nor a D'Orsay. While he was ruminating on such matters, he was
joined by O'Flaherty, with whom he had been always more intimate than any
other inmate of the house--Tom's tact having entirely concealed what the
manners of the others too plainly evinced, the perfect appreciation of
the student's oddity and singularity. After some few observations on
general matters, O'Flaherty began with a tone of some seriousness to
express towards Cudmore the warm interest he had ever taken in him, since
his first coming among them; his great anxiety for his welfare, and his
firm resolve that no chance or casual inattention to mere ceremonial
observances on his part should ever be seized on by the other guests
as a ground for detraction or an excuse for ridicule of him.
"Rely upon it, my dear boy," said he, "I have watched over you like a
parent; and having partly foreseen that something like this affair of
to-night would take place sooner or later"--
"What affair?" said Cudmore--his eyes staring half out of his head.
"That business of the kettle."
"Kett--el. The kettle! What of that?" said Cudmore.
"What of it? Why, if you don't feel it, I am sure it is not my duty to
remind you; only"--
"Feel it--oh, yes. I saw them laughing, because I spilled the water over
old Mrs. Jones, or something of that sort."
"No, no, my dear young friend, they were not laughing at that--their
mirth had another object."
"What the devil was it at, then?"
"You don't know, don't you?"
"No; I really do not."
"Nor can't guess--eh?"
"Confound me if I can."
"Well. I see, Mr. Cudmore, you are really too innocent for these
people. But come--it shall never be said that youth and inexperience
ever suffered from the unworthy ridicule and cold sarcasm of the base
world, while Tom O'Flaherty stood by a spectator.
"Sir," said Tom, striking his hand with energy on the table, and darting
a look of fiery indignation from his eye, "Sir, you were this night
trepanned--yes, sir, vilely, shamefully trepanned--I repeat the
expression--into the performance of a menial office--an office so
degrading, so offensive, so unbecoming the rank, the station, and the
habits of gentlemen, my very blood recoils when I only think of the
The expression of increasing wonder and surprise depicted in Mr.
Cudmore's face at these words, my friend Phiz might convey--I cannot
venture to describe it--suffice it to say, that even O'Flaherty himself
found it difficult to avoid a burst of laughter, as he looked at him and
"Witnessing, as I did, the entire occurrence; feeling deeply for the
inexperience which the heartless worldlings had dared to trample upon,
I resolved to stand by you, and here I am come for that purpose."
"Well, but what in the devil's name have I done all this time?"
"What! are you still ignorant?--is it possible? Did you not hand the
kettle from the fire-place, and fill the tea-pot?--answer me that!"
"I did," said Cudmore, with a voice already becoming tremulous.
"Is that the duty of a gentleman?--answer me that."
A dead pause stood in place of a reply, while Tom proceeded--
"Did you ever hear any one ask me, or Counsellor Daly, or Mr. Fogarty,
or any other person to do so?--answer me that."
"No; never" muttered Cudmore, with a sinking spirit.
"Well then why may I ask, were you selected for an office that by your
own confession, no one else would stoop to perform? I'll tell you,
because from your youth and inexperience, your innocence was deemed a fit
victim to the heartless sneers of a cold and unfeeling world."
And here Tom broke forth into a very beautiful apostrophe, beginning--
"Oh, virtue!" (this I am unfortunately unable to present to my readers;
and must only assure them that it was a very faithful imitation of the
well-known one delivered by Burke in the case of Warren Hastings,) and
concluding with an exhortation to Cudmore to wipe out the stain of his
wounded honour, by repelling with indignation the slightest future
attempt at such an insult.
This done, O'Flaherty retired, leaving Cudmore to dig among Greek roots,
and chew over the cud of his misfortune. Punctual to the time and place,
that same evening beheld the injured Cudmore resume his wonted corner,
pretty much with the feeling with which a forlorn hope stands match in
hand to ignite the train destined to explode with ruin to thousands--
himself perhaps amongst the number: there he sat with a brain as burning,
and a heart as excited, as though, instead of sipping his bohea beside a
sea-coal fire, he was that instant trembling beneath the frown of Dr.
Elrington, for the blunders in his Latin theme, and what terror to the
mind of a "Jib" can equal that one?
As luck would have it, this was a company night in the boarding-house.
Various young ladies in long blue sashes, and very broad ribbon sandals,
paraded the rooms, chatting gaily with very distinguished looking young
gentlemen, with gold brooches, and party-coloured inside waistcoats;
sundry elderly ladies sat at card-tables, discussing the "lost honour by
an odd trick they played," with heads as large as those of Jack or Jill
in the pantomime; spruce clerks in public offices, (whose vocation the
expansive tendency of the right ear, from long pen-carrying, betokened)
discussed fashion, "and the musical glasses" to some very over-dressed
married ladies, who preferred flirting to five-and-ten. The tea-table,
over which the amiable hostess presided, had also its standing votaries:
mostly grave parliamentary-looking gentlemen, with powdered heads,
and very long-waisted black coats, among whom the Sir Oracle was a
functionary of his Majesty's High Court of Chancery, though I have reason
to believe, not, Lord Manners: meanwhile, in all parts of the room might
be seen Blue Peter, distributing tea, coffee, and biscuit, and
occasionally interchanging a joke with the dwellers in the house. While
all these pleasing occupations proceeded, the hour of Cudmore's trial was
approaching. The tea-pot which had stood the attack of fourteen cups
without flinching, at last began to fail, and discovered to the prying
eyes of Mrs. Clanfrizzle, nothing but an olive-coloured deposit of soft
matter, closely analogous in appearance and chemical property to the
residuary precipitate in a drained fish-pond; she put down the lid with
a gentle sigh and turning towards the fire bestowed one of her very
blandest and most captivating looks on Mr. Cudmore, saying--as plainly
as looks could say--"Cudmore, you're wanting." Whether the youth did,
or did not understand, I am unable to record: I can only say, the appeal
was made without acknowledgment. Mrs. Clanfrizzle again essayed, and by
a little masonic movement of her hand to the tea-pot, and a sly glance at
the hob, intimated her wish--still hopelessly; at last there was nothing
for it but speaking; and she donned her very softest voice, and most
persuasive tone, saying--
"Mr. Cudmore, I am really very troublesome: will you permit me to ask
"Is it for the kettle, ma'am?" said Cudmore, with a voice that startled
the whole room, disconcerting three whist parties, and so absorbing the
attention of the people at loo, that the pool disappeared without any one
being able to account for the circumstance.
"Is it for the kettle, ma'am?"
"If you will be so very kind," lisped the hostess.
"Well, then, upon my conscience, you are impudent," said Cudmore, with
his face crimsoned to the ears, and his eyes flashing fire.
"Why, Mr. Cudmore," began the lady, "why, really, this is so strange.
Why sir, what can you mean?"
"Just that," said the imperturbable jib, who now that his courage was up,
dared every thing.
"But sir, you must surely have misunderstood me. I only asked for the
kettle, Mr. Cudmore."
"The devil a more," said Cud, with a sneer.
"Well, then, of course"--
"Well, then, I'll tell you, of course," said he, repeating her words;
"the sorrow taste of the kettle, I'll give you. Call you own skip--Blue
Pether there--damn me, if I'll be your skip any longer."
For the uninitiated I have only to add, that "skip" is the Trinity
College appellation for servant, which was therefore employed by Mr.
Cudmore, on this occasion, as expressing more contemptuously his sense
of the degradation of the office attempted to be put upon him. Having
already informed my reader on some particulars of the company, I leave
him to suppose how Mr. Cudmore's speech was received. Whist itself was
at an end for that evening, and nothing but laughter, long, loud, and
reiterated, burst from every corner of the room for hours after.
As I have so far travelled out of the record of my own peculiar
confessions, as to give a leaf from what might one day form the matter of
Mr. Cudmore's, I must now make the only amende in my power, by honestly
narrating, that short as my visit was to the classic precincts of this
agreeable establishment, I did not escape without exciting my share of
ridicule, though, I certainly had not the worst of the joke, and may,
therefore, with better grace tell the story, which, happily for my
readers, is a very brief one. A custom prevailed in Mrs. Clanfrizzle's
household, which from my unhappy ignorance of boarding-houses, I am
unable to predicate if it belong to the genera at large, or this one
specimen in particular, however, it is a sufficiently curious fact, even
though thereby hang no tale, for my stating it here. The decanters on
the dinner-table were never labelled, with their more appropriate
designation of contents, whether claret, sherry, or port, but with the
names of their respective owners, it being a matter of much less
consequence that any individual at table should mix his wine, by pouring
"port upon madeira," than commit the truly legal offence of appropriating
to his own use and benefit, even by mistake, his neighbour's bottle.
However well the system may work among the regular members of the
"domestic circle," and I am assured that it does succeed extremely--
to the newly arrived guest, or uninitiated visitor, the affair is
perplexing, and leads occasionally to awkward results.
It so chanced, from my friend O'Flaherty's habitual position at the foot
of the table, and my post of honour near the head, that on the first day
of my appearing there, the distance between us, not only precluded all
possible intercourse, but any of those gentle hints as to habits and
customs, a new arrival looks for at the hands of his better informed
friend. The only mode of recognition, to prove that we belonged to each
other, being by that excellent and truly English custom of drinking wine
together, Tom seized the first idle moment from his avocation as carver
"Lorrequer, a glass of wine with you."
Having, of course, acceded, he again asked,
"What wine do you drink?" intending thereby, as I afterwards learned, to
send me from his end of the table, what wine I selected. Not conceiving
the object of the inquiry, and having hitherto without hesitation helped
myself from the decanter, which bore some faint resemblance to sherry,
I immediately turned for correct information to the bottle itself, upon
whose slender neck was ticketed the usual slip of paper. My endeavours
to decypher the writing occupied time sufficient again to make O'Flaherty
"Well, Harry, I'm waiting for you. Will you have port?"
"No, I thank you," I replied, having by this revealed the inscription.
"No, I thank you; I'll just stick to my old friend here, Bob M'Grotty;"
for thus I rendered familiarly the name of Rt. M'Grotty on the decanter,
and which I in my ignorance believed to be the boarding-house soubriquet
for bad sherry. That Mr. M'Grotty himself little relished my familiarity
with either his name or property I had a very decisive proof, for turning
round upon his chair, and surveying my person from head to foot with a
look of fiery wrath, he thundered out in very broad Scotch,
"And by my saul, my freend, ye may just as weel finish it noo, for deil a
glass o' his ain wine did Bob M'Grotty, as ye ca' him, swallow this day."
The convulsion of laughter into which my blunder and the Scotchman's
passion threw the whole board, lasted till the cloth was withdrawn, and
the ladies had retired to the drawing-room, the only individual at table
not relishing the mistake being the injured proprietor of the bottle, who
was too proud to accept reparation from my friend's decanter, and would
scarcely condescend to open his lips during the evening; notwithstanding
which display of honest indignation, we contrived to become exceedingly
merry and jocose, most of the party communicating little episodes of
their life, in which, it is true, they frequently figured in situations
that nothing but their native and natural candour would venture to avow.
One story I was considerably amused at; it was told by the counsellor,
Mr. Daly, in illustration of the difficulty of rising at the bar, and
which, as showing his own mode of obviating the delay that young
professional men submit to from hard necessity, as well as in evidence of
his strictly legal turn, I shall certainly recount, one of these days,
for the edification of the junior bar.
On the morning after my visit to the boarding-house, I received a few
hurried lines from Curzon, informing me that no time was to be lost in
joining the regiment--that a grand fancy ball was about to be given by
the officers of the Dwarf frigate, then stationed off Dunmore; who, when
inviting the ___, specially put in a demand for my well-known services,
to make it to go off, and concluding with an extract from the Kilkenny
Moderator, which ran thus--
"An intimation has just reached us, from a quarter on which we can
place the fullest reliance, that the celebrated amateur performer,
Mr. Lorrequer, may shortly be expected amongst us; from the many
accounts we have received of this highly-gifted gentleman's powers,
we anticipate a great treat to the lovers of the drama," &c. &c.
"So you see, my dear Hal," continued Curzon, "thy vocation calls
thee; therefore come, and come quickly--provide thyself with a black
satin costume, slashed with light blue--point lace collar and
ruffles--a Spanish hat looped in front--and, if possible, a long
rapier, with a flap hilt.--Carden is not here; so you may show your
face under any colour with perfect impunity.--Yours from the side
This clever epistle sufficed to show me that the gallant __th had gone
clean theatrical mad; and although from my "last appearance on any
stage," it might be supposed I should feel no peculiar desire to repeat
the experiment, yet the opportunity of joining during Col. Carden's
absence, was too tempting to resist, and I at once made up my mind to
set out, and, without a moment's delay, hurried across the street to
the coach office, to book myself an inside in the mail of that night;
fortunately no difficulty existed in my securing the seat, for the way-
bill was a perfect blank, and I found myself the only person who had,
as yet, announced himself a passenger. On returning to my hotel, I found
O'Flaherty waiting for me; he was greatly distressed on hearing my
determination to leave town--explained how he had been catering for my
amusement for the week to come--that a picnic to the Dargle was arranged
in a committee of the whole house, and a boating party, with a dinner at
the Pigeon-house, was then under consideration; resisting, however, such
extreme temptations, I mentioned the necessity of my at once proceeding
to headquarters, and all other reasons for my precipitancy failing,
concluded with that really knock-down argument, "I have taken my place;"
this, I need scarcely add, finished the matter--at least I have never
known it fail in such cases. Tell your friends that your wife is hourly
expecting to be confined; your favourite child is in the measles--you
best friend waiting your aid in an awkward scrape--your one vote only
wanting to turn the scale in an election. Tell them, I say, each or all
of these, or a hundred more like them, and to any one you so speak, the
answer is--"Pooh, pooh, my dear fellow, never fear--don't fuss yourself
--take it easy--to-morrow will do just as well." If, on the other hand,
however, you reject such flimsy excuses, and simply say, "I'm booked in
the mail," the opposition at once falls to the ground, and your quondam
antagonist, who was ready to quarrel with you, is at once prepared to
assist in packing your portmanteau.
Having soon satisfied my friend Tom that resistance was in vain, I
promised to eat an early dinner with him at Morrisson's, and spent the
better part of the morning in putting down a few notes of my Confessions,
as well as the particulars of Mr. Daly's story, which, I believe, I half
or wholly promised my readers at the conclusion of my last chapter; but
which I must defer to a more suitable opportunity, when mentioning the
next occasion of my meeting him on the southern circuit.
My dispositions were speedily made. I was fortunate in securing the
exact dress my friend's letter alluded to among the stray costumes of
Fishamble-street; and rich in the possession of the only "properties" it
has been my lot to acquire, I despatched my treasure to the coach office,
and hastened to Morrisson's, it being by this time nearly five o'clock.
There, true to time, I found O'Flaherty deep in the perusal of the bill,
along which figured the novel expedients for dining, I had been in the
habit of reading in every Dublin hotel since my boyhood. "Mock turtle,
mutton, gravy, roast beef and potatoes--shoulder of mutton and potatoes!
--ducks and peas, potatoes!! ham and chicken, cutlet steak and
potatoes!!! apple tart and cheese:" with a slight cadenza of a sigh over
the distant glories of Very, or still better the "Freres," we sat down to
a very patriarchal repast, and what may be always had par excellence in
Dublin, a bottle of Sneyd's claret.
Poor Tom's spirits were rather below their usual pitch; and although he
made many efforts to rally and appear gay, he could not accomplish it.
However, we chatted away over old times and old friends, and forgetting
all else but the topics we talked of, the time-piece over the chimney
first apprised me that two whole hours had gone by, and that it was now
seven o'clock, the very hour the coach was to start. I started up at
once, and notwithstanding all Tom's representations of the impossibility
of my being in time, had despatched waiters in different directions for a
jarvey, more than ever determined upon going; so often is it that when
real reasons for our conduct are wanting, any casual or chance opposition
confirms us in an intention which before was but uncertain. Seeing me so
resolved, Tom, at length, gave way, and advised my pursuing the mail,
which must be now gone at least ten minutes, and which, with smart
driving, I should probably overtake before getting free of the city, as
they have usually many delays in so doing. I at once ordered out the
"yellow post-chaise," and before many minutes had elapsed, what, with
imprecation and bribery, I started in pursuit of his Majesty's Cork and
Kilkenny mail coach, then patiently waiting in the court-yard of the Post
"Which way now, your honor?" said a shrill voice from the dark--for such
the night had already become, and threatened with a few heavy drops of
straight rain, the fall of a tremendous shower.
"The Naas road," said I; "and, harkye, my fine fellow, if you overtake
the coach in half an hour, I'll double your fare."
"Be gorra, I'll do my endayvour," said the youth; at the same time
instant dashing in both spurs, we rattled down Nassau-street at a very
respectable pace for harriers. Street after street we passed, and at
last I perceived we had got clear of the city, and were leaving the long
line of lamp-lights behind us. The night was now pitch dark. I could
not see any thing whatever. The quick clattering of the wheels, the
sharp crack of the postillion's whip, or the still sharper tone of his
"gee hup," showed me we were going at a tremendous pace, had I not even
had the experience afforded by the frequent visits my head paid to the
roof of the chaise, so often as we bounded over a stone, or splashed
through a hollow. Dark and gloomy as it was, I constantly let down the
window, and with half my body protruded, endeavores to catch a glimpse of
the "Chase;" but nothing could I see. The rain now fell in actual
torrents; and a more miserable night it is impossible to conceive.
After about an hour so spent, he at last came to a check, so sudden and
unexpected on my part, that I was nearly precipitated, harlequin fashion,
through the front window. Perceiving that we no longer moved, and
suspecting that some part of our tackle had given way, I let down the
sash, and cried out--"Well now, my lad, any thing wrong?" My questions
was, however, unheard; and although, amid the steam arising from the wet
and smoking horses, I could perceive several figures indistinctly moving
about, I could not distinguish what they were doing, nor what they said.
A laugh I certainly did hear, and heartily cursed the unfeeling wretch,
as I supposed him to be, who was enjoying himself at my disappointment.
I again endeavoured to find out what had happened, and called out still
louder than before.
"We are at Ra'coole, your honor," said the boy, approaching the door of
the chaise, "and she's only beat us by hafe a mile."
"Who the devil is she?" said I.
"The mail, your honor, is always a female in Ireland."
"Then why do you stop now? You're not going to feed I suppose?"
"Of course not, your honor, it's little feeding troubles these bastes,
any how, but they tell me the road is so heavy we'll never take the
chaise over the next stage without leaders."
"Without leaders!" said I. "Pooh! my good fellow, no humbugging,
four horses for a light post-chaise and no luggage; come get up, and no
nonsense." At this moment a man approached the window with a lantern in
his hand, and so strongly represented the dreadful state of the roads
from the late rains--the length of the stage--the frequency of accidents
latterly from under-horsing, &c. &c. that I yielded, a reluctant assent,
and ordered out the leaders, comforting myself the while, that
considering the inside fare of the coach, I made such efforts to
overtake, was under a pound, and that time was no object to me, I
certainly was paying somewhat dearly for my character for resolution.
At last we got under way once more, and set off cheered by a tremendous
shout from at least a dozen persons, doubtless denizens of that
interesting locality, amid which I once again heard the laugh that had so
much annoyed me already. The rain was falling, if possible, more heavily
than before, and had evidently set in for the entire night. Throwing
myself back into a corner of the "leathern convenience," I gave myself up
to the full enjoyment of the Rouchefoucauld maxim, that there is always a
pleasure felt in the misfortunes of even our best friends, and certainly
experienced no small comfort in my distress, by contrasting my present
position with that of my two friends in the saddle, as they sweltered on
through mud and mire, rain and storm. On we went, splashing, bumping,
rocking, and jolting, till I began at last to have serious thoughts of
abdicating the seat and betaking myself to the bottom of the chaise, for
safety and protection. Mile after mile succeeded, and as after many a
short and fitful slumber, which my dreams gave an apparent length to,
I woke only to find myself still in pursuit--the time seemed so
enormously protracted that I began to fancy my whole life was to be
passed in the dark, in chase of the Kilkenny mail, as we read in the true
history of the flying Dutchman, who, for his sins of impatience--like
mine--spent centuries vainly endeavouring to double the Cape, or the
Indian mariner in Moore's beautiful ballad, of whom we are told as--
"Many a day to night gave way,
And many a morn succeeded,
Yet still his flight, by day and night,
That restless mariner speeded."
This might have been all very well in the tropics, with a smart craft and
doubtless plenty of sea store--but in a chaise, at night, and on the Naas
road, I humbly suggest I had all the worse of the parallel.
At last the altered sound of the wheels gave notice of our approach
to a town, and after about twenty minutes; rattling over the pavement
we entered what I supposed, correctly, to be Naas. Here I had long since
determined my pursuit should cease. I had done enough, and more than
enough, to vindicate my fame against any charge of irresolution as to
leaving Dublin, and was bethinking me of the various modes of prosecuting
my journey on the morrow, when we drew up suddenly at the door of the
Swan. The arrival of a chaise and four at a small country town inn,
suggests to the various employees therein, any thing rather than the
traveller in pursuit of the mail, and so the moment I arrived, I was
assailed with innumerable proffers of horses, supper, bed, &c. My
anxious query was thrice repeated in vain, "When did the coach pass?"
"The mail," replied the landlord at length. "Is it the down mail?"
Not understanding the technical, I answered, "Of course not the Down--the
Kilkenny and Cork mail."
"From Dublin, sir?"
"Yes, from Dublin."
"Not arrived yet, sir, nor will it for three quarters of an hour; they
never leave Dublin till a quarter past seven; that is, in fact, half
past, and their time here is twenty minutes to eleven."
"Why, you stupid son of a boot-top, we have been posting on all night
like the devil, and all this time the coach has been ten miles behind
"Well, we've cotch them any how," said the urchin, as he disengaged
himself from his wet saddle, and stood upon the ground; "and it is not my
fault that the coach is not before us."
With a satisfactory anathema upon all innkeepers, waiters, hostlers, and
post-boys, with a codicil including coach-proprietors, I followed the
smirking landlord into a well-lighted room, with a blazing fire, when
having ordered supper, I soon regained my equanimity.
My rasher and poached eggs, all Naas could afford me, were speedily
despatched, and as my last glass, from my one pint of sherry, was poured
out, the long expected coach drew up. A minute after the coachman
entered to take his dram, followed by the guard; a more lamentable
spectacle of condensed moisture cannot be conceived; the rain fell from
the entire circumference of his broad-brimmed hat, like the ever-flowing
drop from the edge of an antique fountain; his drab-coat had become a
deep orange hue, while his huge figure loomed still larger, as he stood
amid a nebula of damp, that would have made an atmosphere for the
"Going on to-night, sir?" said he, addressing me; "severe weather, and no
chance of its clearing, but of course you're inside."