This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1844
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days

–all of whom figured in addresses and had the public voice in the country; but there was no sympathy and connection between the upper and the lower people of the Irish. To one who had been bred so much abroad as myself, this difference between Catholic and Protestant was doubly striking; and though as firm as a rock in my own faith, yet I could not help remembering my grandfather held a different one, and wondering that there should be such a political difference between the two. I passed among my neighbours for a dangerous leveller, for entertaining and expressing such opinions, and especially for asking the priest of the parish to my table at Castle Lyndon. He was a gentleman, educated at Salamanca, and, to my mind, a far better bred and more agreeable companion than his comrade the rector, who had but a dozen Protestants for his congregation; who was a lord’s son, to be sure, but he could hardly spell, and the great field of his labours was in the kennel and cockpit.

I did not extend and beautify the house of Castle Lyndon as I had done our other estates, but contented myself with paying an occasional visit there; exercising an almost royal hospitality, and keeping open house during my stay. When absent, I gave to my aunt, the widow Brady, and her six unmarried daughters (although they always detested me), permission to inhabit the place; my mother preferring my new mansion of Barryogue.

And as my Lord Bullingdon was by this time grown excessively tall and troublesome, I determined to leave him under the care of a proper governor in Ireland, with Mrs. Brady and her six daughters to take care of him; and he was welcome to fall in love with all the old ladies if he were so minded, and thereby imitate his stepfather’s example. When tired of Castle Lyndon, his Lordship was at liberty to go and reside at my house with my mamma; but there was no love lost between him and her, and, on account of my son Bryan, I think she hated him as cordially as ever I myself could possibly do.

The county of Devon is not so lucky as the neighbouring county of Cornwall, and has not the share of representatives which the latter possesses; where I have known a moderate country gentleman, with a few score of hundreds per annum from his estate, treble his income by returning three or four Members to Parliament, and by the influence with Ministers which these seats gave him. The parliamentary interest of the house of Lyndon had been grossly neglected during my wife’s minority, and the incapacity of the Earl her father; or, to speak more correctly, it had been smuggled away from the Lyndon family altogether by the adroit old hypocrite of Tiptoff Castle, who acted as most kinsmen and guardians do by their wards and relatives, and robbed them. The Marquess of Tiptoff returned four Members to Parliament: two for the borough of Tippleton, which, as all the world knows, lies at the foot of our estate of Hackton, bounded on the other side by Tiptoff Park. For time out of mind we had sent Members for that borough, until Tiptoff, taking advantage of the late lord’s imbecility, put in his own nominees. When his eldest son became of age, of course my Lord was to take his seat for Tippleton; when Rigby (Nabob Rigby, who made his fortune under Clive in India) died, the Marquess thought fit to bring down his second son, my Lord George Poynings, to whom I have introduced the reader in a former chapter, and determined, in his high mightiness, that he too should go in and swell the ranks of the Opposition–the big old Whigs, with whom the Marquess acted.

Rigby had been for some time in an ailing condition previous to his demise, and you may be sure that the circumstance of his failing health had not been passed over by the gentry of the county, who were staunch Government men for the most part, and hated my Lord Tiptoff’s principles as dangerous and ruinous, ‘We have been looking out for a man to fight against him,’ said the squires to me; ‘we can only match Tiptoff out of Hackton Castle. You, Mr. Lyndon, are our man, and at the next county election we will swear to bring you in.’

I hated the Tiptoffs so, that I would have fought them at any election. They not only would not visit at Hackton, but declined to receive those who visited us; they kept the women of the county from receiving my wife: they invented half the wild stories of my profligacy and extravagance with which the neighbourhood was entertained; they said I had frightened my wife into marriage, and that she was a lost woman; they hinted that Bullingdon’s life was not secure under my roof, that his treatment was odious, and that I wanted to put him out of the way to make place for Bryan my son. I could scarce have a friend to Hackton, but they counted the bottles drunk at my table. They ferreted out my dealings with my lawyers and agents. If a creditor was unpaid, every item of his bill was known at Tiptoff Hall; if I looked at a farmer’s daughter, it was said I had ruined her. My faults are many, I confess, and as a domestic character, I can’t boast of any particular regularity or temper; but Lady Lyndon and I did not quarrel more than fashionable people do, and, at first, we always used to make it up pretty well. I am a man full of errors, certainly, but not the devil that these odious backbiters at Tiptoff represented me to be. For the first three years I never struck my wife but when I was in liquor. When I flung the carving-knife at Bullingdon I was drunk, as everybody present can testify; but as for having any systematic scheme against the poor lad, I can declare solemnly that, beyond merely hating him (and one’s inclinations are not in one’s power), I am guilty of no evil towards him.

I had sufficient motives, then, for enmity against the Tiptoffs, and am not a man to let a feeling of that kind lie inactive. Though a Whig, or, perhaps, because a Whig, the Marquess was one of the haughtiest men breathing, and treated commoners as his idol the great Earl used to treat them–after he came to a coronet himself– as so many low vassals, who might be proud to lick his shoe-buckle. When the Tippleton mayor and corporation waited upon him, he received them covered, never offered Mr. Mayor a chair, but retired when the refreshments were brought, or had them served to the worshipful aldermen in the steward’s room. These honest Britons never rebelled against such treatment, until instructed to do so by my patriotism. No, the dogs liked to be bullied; and, in the course of a long experience, I have met with but very few Englishmen who are not of their way of thinking.

It was not until I opened their eyes that they knew their degradation. I invited the Mayor to Hackton, and Mrs. Mayoress (a very buxom pretty groceress she was, by the way) I made sit by my wife, and drove them both out to the races in my curricle. Lady Lyndon fought very hard against this condescension; but I had a way with her, as the saying is, and though she had a temper, yet I had a better one. A temper, psha! A wild-cat has a temper, but a keeper can get the better of it; and I know very few women in the world whom I could not master.

Well, I made much of the mayor and corporation; sent them bucks for their dinners, or asked them to mine; made a point of attending their assemblies, dancing with their wives and daughters, going through, in short, all the acts of politeness which are necessary on such occasions: and though old Tiptoff must have seen my goings on, yet his head was so much in the clouds, that he never once condescended to imagine his dynasty could be overthrown in his own town of Tippleton, and issued his mandates as securely as if he had been the Grand Turk, and the Tippletonians no better than so many slaves of his will.

Every post which brought us any account of Rigby’s increasing illness, was the sure occasion of a dinner from me; so much so, that my friends of the hunt used to laugh and say, ‘Rigby’s worse; there’s a corporation dinner at Hackton.’

It was in 1776, when the American war broke out, that I came into Parliament. My Lord Chatham, whose wisdom his party in those days used to call superhuman, raised his oracular voice in the House of Peers against the American contest; and my countryman, Mr. Burke–a great philosopher, but a plaguy long-winded orator–was the champion of the rebels in the Commons–where, however, thanks to British patriotism, he could get very few to back him. Old Tiptoff would have sworn black was white if the great Earl had bidden him; and he made his son give up his commission in the Guards, in imitation of my Lord Pitt, who resigned his ensigncy rather than fight against what he called his American brethren.

But this was a height of patriotism extremely little relished in England, where, ever since the breaking out of hostilities, our people hated the Americans heartily; and where, when we heard of the fight of Lexington, and the glorious victory of Bunker’s Hill (as we used to call it in those days), the nation flushed out in its usual hot-headed anger. The talk was all against the philosophers after that, and the people were most indomitably loyal. It was not until the land-tax was increased, that the gentry began to grumble a little; but still my party in the West was very strong against the Tiptoffs, and I determined to take the field and win as usual.

The old Marquess neglected every one of the decent precautions which are requisite in a parliamentary campaign. He signified to the corporation and freeholders his intention of presenting his son, Lord George, and his desire that the latter should be elected their burgess; but he scarcely gave so much as a glass of beer to whet the devotedness of his adherents: and I, as I need not say, engaged every tavern in Tippleton in my behalf.

There is no need to go over the twenty-times-told tale of an election. I rescued the borough of Tippleton from the hands of Lord Tiptoff and his son, Lord George. I had a savage sort of satisfaction, too, in forcing my wife (who had been at one time exceedingly smitten by her kinsman, as I have already related) to take part against him, and to wear and distribute my colours when the day of election came. And when we spoke at one another, I told the crowd that I had beaten Lord George in love, that I had beaten him in war, and that I would now beat him in Parliament; and so I did, as the event proved: for, to the inexpressible anger of the old Marquess, Barry Lyndon, Esquire, was returned member of Parliament for Tippleton, in place of John Rigby, Esquire, deceased; and I threatened him at the next election to turn him out of BOTH his seats, and went to attend my duties in Parliament.

It was then I seriously determined on achieving for myself the Irish peerage, to be enjoyed after me by my beloved son and heir.



And now, if any people should be disposed to think my history immoral (for I have heard some assert that I was a man who never deserved that so much prosperity should fall to my share), I will beg those cavillers to do me the favour to read the conclusion of my adventures; when they will see it was no such great prize that I had won, and that wealth, splendour, thirty thousand per annum, and a seat in Parliament, are often purchased at too dear a rate, when one has to buy those enjoyments at the price of personal liberty, and saddled with the charge of a troublesome wife.

They are the deuce, these troublesome wives, and that is the truth. No man knows until he tries how wearisome and disheartening the burthen of one of them is, and how the annoyance grows and strengthens from year to year, and the courage becomes weaker to bear it; so that that trouble which seemed light and trivial the first year, becomes intolerable ten years after. I have heard of one of the classical fellows in the dictionary who began by carrying a calf up a hill every day, and so continued until the animal grew to be a bull, which he still easily accommodated upon his shoulders; but take my word for it, young unmarried gentlemen, a wife is a very much harder pack to the back than the biggest heifer in Smithfield and, if I can prevent one of you from marrying, the ‘Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq.’ will not be written in vain. Not that my Lady was a scold or a shrew, as some wives are; I could have managed to have cured her of that; but she was of a cowardly, crying, melancholy, maudlin temper, which is to me still more odious: do what one would to please her, she would never be happy or in good- humour. I left her alone after a while; and because, as was natural in my case, where a disagreeable home obliged me to seek amusement and companions abroad, she added a mean detestable jealousy to all her other faults: I could not for some time pay the commonest attention to any other woman, but my Lady Lyndon must weep, and wring her hands, and threaten to commit suicide, and I know not what.

Her death would have been no comfort to me, as I leave any person of common prudence to imagine; for that scoundrel of a young Bullingdon (who was now growing up a tall, gawky, swarthy lad, and about to become my greatest plague and annoyance) would have inherited every penny of the property, and I should have been left considerably poorer even than when I married the widow: for I spent my personal fortune as well as the lady’s income in the keeping up of our rank, and was always too much a man of honour and spirit to save a penny of Lady Lyndon’s income. Let this be flung in the teeth of my detractors, who say I never could have so injured the Lyndon property had I not been making a private purse for myself; and who believe that, even in my present painful situation, I have hoards of gold laid by somewhere, and could come out as a Croesus when I choose. I never raised a shilling upon Lady Lyndon’s property but I spent it like a man of honour; besides incurring numberless personal obligations for money, which all went to the common stock. Independent of the Lyndon mortgages and incumbrances, I owe myself at least one hundred and twenty thousand pounds, which I spent while in occupancy of my wife’s estate; so that I may justly say that property is indebted to me in the above-mentioned sum.

Although I have described the utter disgust and distaste which speedily took possession of my breast as regarded Lady Lyndon; and although I took no particular pains (for I am all frankness and above-board) to disguise my feelings in general, yet she was of such a mean spirit, that she pursued me with her regard in spite of my indifference to her, and would kindle up at the smallest kind word I spoke to her. The fact is, between my respected reader and myself, that I was one of the handsomest and most dashing young men of England in those days, and my wife was violently in love with me; and though I say it who shouldn’t, as the phrase goes, my wife was not the only woman of rank in London who had a favourable opinion of the humble Irish adventurer. What a riddle these women are, I have often thought! I have seen the most elegant creatures at St. James’s grow wild for love of the coarsest and most vulgar of men; the cleverest women passionately admire the most illiterate of our sex, and so on. There is no end to the contrariety in the foolish creatures; and though I don’t mean to hint that _I_ am vulgar or illiterate, as the persons mentioned above (I would cut the throat of any man who dared to whisper a word against my birth or my breeding), yet I have shown that Lady Lyndon had plenty of reason to dislike me if she chose: but, like the rest of her silly sex, she was governed by infatuation, not reason; and, up to the very last day of our being together, would be reconciled to me, and fondle me, if I addressed her a single kind word.

‘Ah,’ she would say, in these moments of tenderness–‘Ah, REDMOND, if you would always be so!’ And in these fits of love she was the most easy creature in the world to be persuaded, and would have signed away her whole property, had it been possible. And, I must confess, it was with very little attention on my part that I could bring her into good-humour. To walk with her on the Mall, or at Ranelagh, to attend her to church at St. James’s, to purchase any little present or trinket for her, was enough to coax her. Such is female inconsistency! The next day she would be calling me ‘Mr. Barry’ probably, and be bemoaning her miserable fate that she ever should have been united to such a monster. So it was she was pleased to call one of the most brilliant men in His Majesty’s three kingdoms: and I warrant me OTHER ladies had a much more flattering opinion of me.

Then she would threaten to leave me; but I had a hold of her in the person of her son, of whom she was passionately fond: I don’t know why, for she had always neglected Bullingdon her older son, and never bestowed a thought upon his health, his welfare, or his education.

It was our young boy, then, who formed the great bond of union between me and her Ladyship; and there was no plan of ambition I could propose in which she would not join for the poor lad’s behoof, and no expense she would not eagerly incur, if it might by any means be shown to tend to his advancement. I can tell you, bribes were administered, and in high places too,–so near the royal person of His Majesty, that you would be astonished were I to mention what great personages condescended to receive our loans. I got from the English and Irish heralds a description and detailed pedigree of the Barony of Barryogue, and claimed respectfully to be reinstated in my ancestral titles, and also to be rewarded with the Viscounty of Ballybarry. ‘This head would become a coronet,’ my Lady would sometimes say, in her fond moments, smoothing down my hair; and, indeed, there is many a puny whipster in their Lordships’ house who has neither my presence nor my courage, my pedigree, nor any of my merits.

The striving after this peerage I considered to have been one of the most unlucky of all my unlucky dealings at this period. I made unheard-of sacrifices to bring it about. I lavished money here and diamonds there. I bought lands at ten times their value; purchased pictures and articles of vertu at ruinous prices. I gave repeated entertainments to those friends to my claims who, being about the Royal person, were likely to advance it. I lost many a bet to the Royal Dukes His Majesty’s brothers; but let these matters be forgotten, and, because of my private injuries, let me not be deficient in loyalty to my Sovereign.

The only person in this transaction whom I shall mention openly, is that old scamp and swindler, Gustavus Adolphus, thirteenth Earl of Crabs. This nobleman was one of the gentlemen of His Majesty’s closet, and one with whom the revered monarch was on terms of considerable intimacy. A close regard had sprung up between them in the old King’s time; when His Royal Highness, playing at battledore and shuttlecock with the young lord on the landing-place of the great staircase at Kew, in some moment of irritation the Prince of Wales kicked the young Earl downstairs, who, falling, broke his leg. The Prince’s hearty repentance for his violence caused him to ally himself closely with the person whom he had injured; and when His Majesty came to the throne there was no man, it is said, of whom the Earl of Bute was so jealous as of my Lord Crabs. The latter was poor and extravagant, and Bute got him out of the way, by sending him on the Russian and other embassies; but on this favourite’s dismissal, Crabs sped back from the Continent, and was appointed almost immediately to a place about His Majesty’s person.

It was with this disreputable nobleman that I contracted an unluckly intimacy; when, fresh and unsuspecting, I first established myself in town, after my marriage with Lady Lyndon: and, as Crabs was really one of the most entertaining fellows in the world, I took a sincere pleasure in his company; besides the interesting desire I had in cultivating the society of a man who was so near the person of the highest personage in the realm.

To hear the fellow, you would fancy that there was scarce any appointment made in which he had not a share. He told me, for instance, of Charles Fox being turned out of his place a day before poor Charley himself was aware of the fact. He told me when the Howes were coming back from America, and who was to succeed to the command there. Not to multiply instances, it was upon this person that I fixed my chief reliance for the advancement of my claim to the Barony of Barryogue and the Viscounty which I proposed to get.

One of the main causes of expense which this ambition of mine entailed upon me was the fitting out and arming a company of infantry from the Castle Lyndon and Hackton estates in Ireland, which I offered to my gracious Sovereign for the campaign against the American rebels. These troops, superbly equipped and clothed, were embarked at Portsmouth in the year 1778; and the patriotism of the gentleman who had raised them was so acceptable at Court, that, on being presented by my Lord North, His Majesty condescended to notice me particularly, and said, ‘That’s right, Mr. Lyndon, raise another company; and go with them, too!’ But this was by no means, as the reader may suppose, to my notions. A man with thirty thousand pounds per annum is a fool to risk his life like a common beggar: and on this account I have always admired the conduct of my friend Jack Bolter, who had been a most active and resolute cornet of horse, and, as such, engaged in every scrape and skirmish which could fall to his lot; but just before the battle of Minden he received news that his uncle, the great army contractor, was dead, and had left him five thousand per annum. Jack that instant applied for leave; and, as it was refused him on the eve of a general action, my gentleman took it, and never fired a pistol again: except against an officer who questioned his courage, and whom he winged in such a cool and determined manner, as showed all the world that it was from prudence and a desire of enjoying his money, not from cowardice, that he quitted the profession of arms.

When this Hackton company was raised, my stepson, who was now sixteen years of age, was most eager to be allowed to join it, and I would have gladly consented to have been rid of the young man; but his guardian, Lord Tiptoff, who thwarted me in everything, refused his permission, and the lad’s military inclinations were balked. If he could have gone on the expedition, and a rebel rifle had put an end to him, I believe, to tell the truth, I should not have been grieved over-much; and I should have had the pleasure of seeing my other son the heir to the estate which his father had won with so much pains.

The education of this young nobleman had been, I confess, some of the loosest; and perhaps the truth is, I DID neglect the brat. He was of so wild, savage, and insubordinate a nature, that I never had the least regard for him; and before me and his mother, at least, was so moody and dull, that I thought instruction thrown away upon him, and left him for the most part to shift for himself. For two whole years he remained in Ireland away from us; and when in England, we kept him mainly at Hackton, never caring to have the uncouth ungainly lad in the genteel company in the capital in which we naturally mingled. My own poor boy, on the contrary, was the most polite and engaging child ever seen: it was a pleasure to treat him with kindness and distinction; and before he was five years old, the little fellow was the pink of fashion, beauty, and good breeding.

In fact he could not have been otherwise, with the care both his parents bestowed upon him, and the attentions that were lavished upon him in every way. When he was four years old, I quarrelled with the English nurse who had attended upon him, and about whom my wife had been so jealous, and procured for him a French gouvernante, who had lived with families of the first quality in Paris; and who, of course, must set my Lady Lyndon jealous too. Under the care of this young woman my little rogue learned to chatter French most charmingly. It would have done your heart good to hear the dear rascal swear Mort de ma vie! and to see him stamp his little foot, and send the manants and canaille of the domestics to the trente mille diables. He was precocious in all things: at a very early age he would mimic everybody; at five, he would sit at table, and drink his glass of champagne with the best of us; and his nurse would teach him little French catches, and the last Parisian songs of Vade and Collard,–pretty songs they were too; and would make such of his hearers as understood French burst with laughing, and, I promise you, scandalise some of the old dowagers who were admitted into the society of his mamma: not that there were many of them; for I did not encourage the visits of what you call respectable people to Lady Lyndon. They are sad spoilers of sport,–tale-bearers, envious narrow-minded people; making mischief between man and wife. Whenever any of these grave personages in hoops and high heels used to make their appearance at Hackton, or in Berkeley Square, it was my chief pleasure to frighten them off; and I would make my little Bryan dance, sing, and play the diable a quatre, and aid him myself, so as to scare the old frumps.

I never shall forget the solemn remonstrances of our old square-toes of a rector at Hackton, who made one or two vain attempts to teach little Bryan Latin, and with whose innumerable children I sometimes allowed the boy to associate. They learned some of Bryan’s French songs from him, which their mother, a poor soul who understood pickles and custards much better than French, used fondly to encourage them in singing; but which their father one day hearing, he sent Miss Sarah to her bedroom and bread and water for a week, and solemnly horsed Master Jacob in the presence of all his brothers and sisters, and of Bryan, to whom he hoped that flogging would act as a warning. But my little rogue kicked and plunged at the old parson’s shins until he was obliged to get his sexton to hold him down, and swore, corbleu, morbleu, ventrebleu, that his young friend Jacob should not be maltreated. After this scene, his reverence forbade Bryan the rectory-house; on which I swore that his eldest son, who was bringing up for the ministry, should never have the succession of the living of Hackton, which I had thoughts of bestowing on him; and his father said, with a canting hypocritical air, which I hate, that Heaven’s will must be done; that he would not have his children disobedient or corrupted for the sake of a bishopric, and wrote me a pompous and solemn letter, charged with Latin quotations, taking farewell of me and my house. ‘I do so with regret,’ added the old gentleman, ‘for I have received so many kindnesses from the Hackton family that it goes to my heart to be disunited from them. My poor, I fear, may suffer in consequence of my separation from you, and my being hence-forward unable to bring to your notice instances of distress and affliction; which, when they were known to you, I will do you the justice to say, your generosity was always prompt to relieve.’

There may have been some truth in this, for the old gentleman was perpetually pestering me with petitions, and I know for a certainty, from his own charities, was often without a shilling in his pocket; but I suspect the good dinners at Hackton had a considerable share in causing his regrets at the dissolution of our intimacy: and I know that his wife was quite sorry to forego the acquaintance of Bryan’s gouvernante, Mademoiselle Louison, who had all the newest French fashions at her fingers’ ends, and who never went to the rectory but you would see the girls of the family turn out in new sacks or mantles the Sunday after.

I used to punish the old rebel by snoring very loud in my pew on Sundays during sermon-time; and I got a governor presently for Bryan, and a chaplain of my own, when he became of age sufficient to be separated from the women’s society and guardianship. His English nurse I married to my head gardener, with a handsome portion; his French gouvernante I bestowed upon my faithful German Fritz, not forgetting the dowry in the latter instance; and they set up a French dining-house in Soho, and I believe at the time I write they are richer in the world’s goods than their generous and free-handed master.

For Bryan I now got a young gentleman from Oxford, the Rev. Edmund Lavender, who was commissioned to teach him Latin, when the boy was in the humour, and to ground him in history, grammar, and the other qualifications of a gentleman. Lavender was a precious addition to our society at Hackton. He was the means of making a deal of fun there. He was the butt of all our jokes, and bore them with the most admirable and martyrlike patience. He was one of that sort of men who would rather be kicked by a great man than not be noticed by him; and I have often put his wig into the fire in the face of the company, when he would laugh at the joke as well as any man there. It was a delight to put him on a high-mettled horse, and send him after the hounds,–pale, sweating, calling on us, for Heaven’s sake, to stop, and holding on for dear life by the mane and the crupper. How it happened that the fellow was never killed I know not; but I suppose hanging is the way in which HIS neck will be broke. He never met with any accident, to speak of, in our hunting-matches: but you were pretty sure to find him at dinner in his place at the bottom of the table making the punch, whence he would be carried off fuddled to bed before the night was over. Many a time have Bryan and I painted his face black on those occasions. We put him into a haunted room, and frightened his soul out of his body with ghosts; we let loose cargoes of rats upon his bed; we cried fire, and filled his boots with water; we cut the legs of his preaching-chair, and filled his sermon-book with snuff. Poor Lavender bore it all with patience; and at our parties, or when we came to London, was amply repaid by being allowed to sit with the gentlefolks, and to fancy himself in the society of men of fashion. It was good to hear the contempt with which he talked about our rector. ‘He has a son, sir, who is a servitor: and a servitor at a small college,’ he would say. ‘How COULD you, my dear sir, think of giving the reversion of Hackton to such a low-bred creature?’

I should now speak of my other son, at least my Lady Lyndon’s: I mean the Viscount Bullingdon. I kept him in Ireland for some years, under the guardianship of my mother, whom I had installed at Castle Lyndon; and great, I promise you, was her state in that occupation, and prodigious the good soul’s splendour and haughty bearing. With all her oddities, the Castle Lyndon estate was the best managed of all our possessions; the rents were excellently paid, the charges of getting them in smaller than they would have been under the management of any steward. It was astonishing what small expenses the good widow incurred; although she kept up the dignity of the TWO families, as she would say. She had a set of domestics to attend upon the young lord; she never went out herself but in an old gilt coach and six; the house was kept clean and tight; the furniture and gardens in the best repair; and, in our occasional visits to Ireland, we never found any house we visited in such good condition as our own. There were a score of ready serving-lasses, and half as many trim men about the castle; and everything in as fine condition as the best housekeeper could make it. All this she did with scarcely any charges to us: for she fed sheep and cattle in the parks, and made a handsome profit of them at Ballinasloe; she supplied I don’t know how many towns with butter and bacon; and the fruit and vegetables from the gardens of Castle Lyndon got the highest prices in Dublin market. She had no waste in the kitchen, as there used to be in most of our Irish houses; and there was no consumption of liquor in the cellars, for the old lady drank water, and saw little or no company. All her society was a couple of the girls of my ancient flame Nora Brady, now Mrs. Quin; who with her husband had spent almost all their property, and who came to see me once in London, looking very old, fat, and slatternly, with two dirty children at her side. She wept very much when she saw me, called me ‘Sir,’ and ‘Mr. Lyndon,’ at which I was not sorry, and begged me to help her husband; which I did, getting him, through my friend Lord Crabs, a place in the excise in Ireland, and paying the passage of his family and himself to that country. I found him a dirty, cast-down, snivelling drunkard; and, looking at poor Nora, could not but wonder at the days when I had thought her a divinity. But if ever I have had a regard for a woman, I remain through life her constant friend, and could mention a thousand such instances of my generous and faithful disposition.

Young Bullingdon, however, was almost the only person with whom she was concerned that my mother could not keep in order. The accounts she sent me of him at first were such as gave my paternal heart considerable pain. He rejected all regularity and authority. He would absent himself for weeks from the house on sporting or other expeditions. He was when at home silent and queer, refusing to make my mother’s game at piquet of evenings, but plunging into all sorts of musty old books, with which he muddled his brains; more at ease laughing and chatting with the pipers and maids in the servants’ hall, than with the gentry in the drawing-room; always cutting jibes and jokes at Mrs. Barry, at which she (who was rather a slow woman at repartee) would chafe violently: in fact, leading a life of insubordination and scandal. And, to crown all, the young scapegrace took to frequenting the society of the Romish priest of the parish– a threadbare rogue, from some Popish seminary in France or Spain– rather than the company of the vicar of Castle Lyndon, a gentleman of Trinity, who kept his hounds and drank his two bottles a day.

Regard for the lad’s religion made me not hesitate then how I should act towards him. If I have any principle which has guided me through life, it has been respect for the Establishment, and a hearty scorn and abhorrence of all other forms of belief. I therefore sent my French body-servant, in the year 17–, to Dublin with a commission to bring the young reprobate over; and the report brought to me was that he had passed the whole of the last night of his stay in Ireland with his Popish friend at the mass-house; that he and my mother had a violent quarrel on the very last day; that, on the contrary, he kissed Biddy and Dosy, her two nieces, who seemed very sorry that he should go; and that being pressed to go and visit the rector, he absolutely refused, saying he was a wicked old Pharisee, inside whose doors he would never set his foot. The doctor wrote me a letter, warning me against the deplorable errors of this young imp of perdition, as he called him; and I could see that there was no love lost between them. But it appeared that, if not agreeable to the gentry of the country, young Bullingdon had a huge popularity among the common people. There was a regular crowd weeping round the gate when his coach took its departure. Scores of the ignorant savage wretches ran for miles along by the side of the chariot; and some went even so far as to steal away before his departure, and appear at the Pigeon-House at Dublin to bid him a last farewell. It was with considerable difficulty that some of these people could be kept from secreting themselves in the vessel, and accompanying their young lord to England.

To do the young scoundrel justice, when he came among us, he was a manly noble-looking lad, and everything in his bearing and appearance betokened the high blood from which he came. He was the very portrait of some of the dark cavaliers of the Lyndon race, whose pictures hung in the gallery at Hackton: where the lad was fond of spending the chief part of his time, occupied with the musty old books which he took out of the library, and which I hate to see a young man of spirit poring over. Always in my company he preserved the most rigid silence, and a haughty scornful demeanour; which was so much the more disagreeable because there was nothing in his behaviour I could actually take hold of to find fault with: although his whole conduct was insolent and supercilious to the highest degree. His mother was very much agitated at receiving him on his arrival; if he felt any such agitation he certainly did not show it. He made her a very low and formal bow when he kissed her hand; and, when I held out mine, put both his hands behind his back, stared me full in the face, and bent his head, saying, ‘Mr. Barry Lyndon, I believe;’ turned on his heel, and began talking about the state of the weather to his mother, whom he always styled ‘Your Ladyship.’ She was angry at this pert bearing, and, when they were alone, rebuked him sharply for not shaking hands with his father.

‘My father, madam?’ said he; ‘surely you mistake. My father was the Right Honourable Sir Charles Lyndon. _I_ at least have not forgotten him, if others have.’ It was a declaration of war to me, as I saw at once; though I declare I was willing enough to have received the boy well on his coming amongst us, and to have lived with him on terms of friendliness. But as men serve me I serve them. Who can blame me for my after-quarrels with this young reprobate, or lay upon my shoulders the evils which afterwards befell? Perhaps I lost my temper, and my subsequent treatment of him WAS hard. But it was he began the quarrel, and not I; and the evil consequences which ensued were entirely of his creating.

As it is best to nip vice in the bud, and for a master of a family to exercise his authority in such a manner as that there may be no question about it, I took the earliest opportunity of coming to close quarters with Master Bullingdon; and the day after his arrival among us, upon his refusal to perform some duty which I requested of him, I had him conveyed to my study, and thrashed him soundly. This process, I confess, at first agitated me a good deal, for I had never laid a whip on a lord before; but I got speedily used to the practice, and his back and my whip became so well acquainted, that I warrant there was very little CEREMONY between us after a while.

If I were to repeat all the instances of the insubordination and brutal conduct of young Bullingdon, I should weary the reader. His perseverance in resistance was, I think, even greater than mine in correcting him: for a man, be he ever so much resolved to do his duty as a parent, can’t be flogging his children all day, or for every fault they commit: and though I got the character of being so cruel a stepfather to him, I pledge my word I spared him correction when he merited it many more times than I administered it. Besides, there were eight clear months in the year when he was quit of me, during the time of my presence in London, at my place in Parliament, and at the Court of my Sovereign.

At this period I made no difficulty to allow him to profit by the Latin and Greek of the old rector; who had christened him, and had a considerable influence over the wayward lad. After a scene or a quarrel between us, it was generally to the rectory-house that the young rebel would fly for refuge and counsel; and I must own that the parson was a pretty just umpire between us in our disputes. Once he led the boy back to Hackton by the hand, and actually brought him into my presence, although he had vowed never to enter the doors in my lifetime again, and said, ‘He had brought his Lordship to acknowledge his error, and submit to any punishment I might think proper to inflict.’ Upon which I caned him in the presence of two or three friends of mine, with whom I was sitting drinking at the time; and to do him justice, he bore a pretty severe punishment without wincing or crying in the least. This will show that I was not too severe in my treatment of the lad, as I had the authority of the clergyman himself for inflicting the correction which I thought proper.

Twice or thrice, Lavender, Bryan’s governor, attempted to punish my Lord Bullingdon; but I promise you the rogue was too strong for HIM, and levelled the Oxford man to the ground with a chair: greatly to the delight of little Byran, who cried out, ‘Bravo, Bully! thump him, thump him!’ And Bully certainly did, to the governor’s heart’s content; who never attempted personal chastisement afterwards; but contented himself by bringing the tales of his Lordship’s misdoings to me, his natural protector and guardian.

With the child, Bullingdon was, strange to say, pretty tractable. He took a liking for the little fellow,–as, indeed, everybody who saw that darling boy did,–liked him the more, he said, because he was ‘half a Lyndon.’ And well he might like him, for many a time, at the dear angel’s intercession of ‘Papa, don’t flog Bully to-day!’ I have held my hand, and saved him a horsing, which he richly deserved.

With his mother, at first, he would scarcely deign to have any communication. He said she was no longer one of the family. Why should he love her, as she had never been a mother to him? But it will give the reader an idea of the dogged obstinacy and surliness of the lad’s character, when I mention one trait regarding him. It has been made a matter of complaint against me, that I denied him the education befitting a gentleman, and never sent him to college or to school; but the fact is, it was of his own choice that he went to neither. He had the offer repeatedly from me (who wished to see as little of his impudence as possible), but he as repeatedly declined; and, for a long time, I could not make out what was the charm which kept him in a house where he must have been far from comfortable.

It came out, however, at last. There used to be very frequent disputes between my Lady Lyndon and myself, in which sometimes she was wrong, sometimes I was; and which, as neither of us had very angelical tempers, used to run very high. I was often in liquor; and when in that condition, what gentleman is master of himself? Perhaps I DID, in this state, use my Lady rather roughly; fling a glass or two at her, and call her by a few names that were not complimentary. I may have threatened her life (which it was obviously my interest not to take), and have frightened her, in a word, considerably.

After one of these disputes, in which she ran screaming through the galleries, and I, as tipsy as a lord, came staggering after, it appears Bullingdon was attracted out of his room by the noise; as I came up with her, the audacious rascal tripped up my heels, which were not very steady, and catching his fainting mother in his arms, took her into his own room; where he, upon her entreaty, swore he would never leave the house as long as she continued united with me. I knew nothing of the vow, or indeed of the tipsy frolic which was the occasion of it; I was taken up ‘glorious,’ as the phrase is, by my servants, and put to bed, and, in the morning, had no more recollection of what had occurred any more than of what happened when I was a baby at the breast. Lady Lyndon told me of the circumstance years after; and I mention it here, as it enables me to plead honourably ‘not guilty’ to one of the absurd charges of cruelty trumped up against me with respect to my stepson. Let my detractors apologise, if they dare, for the conduct of a graceless ruffian who trips up the heels of his own natural guardian and stepfather after dinner.

This circumstance served to unite mother and son for a little; but their characters were too different. I believe she was too fond of me ever to allow him to be sincerely reconciled to her. As he grew up to be a man, his hatred towards me assumed an intensity quite wicked to think of (and which I promise you I returned with interest): and it was at the age of sixteen, I think, that the impudent young hangdog, on my return from Parliament one summer, and on my proposing to cane him as usual, gave me to understand that he would submit to no farther chastisement from me, and said, grinding his teeth, that he would shoot me if I laid hands on him. I looked at him; he was grown, in fact, to be a tall young man, and I gave up that necessary part of his education.

It was about this time that I raised the company which was to serve in America; and my enemies in the country (and since my victory over the Tiptoffs I scarce need say I had many of them) began to propagate the most shameful reports regarding my conduct to that precious young scapegrace my stepson, and to insinuate that I actually wished to get rid of him. Thus my loyalty to my Sovereign was actually construed into a horrid unnatural attempt on my part on Bullingdon’s life; and it was said that I had raised the American corps for the sole purpose of getting the young Viscount to command it, and so of getting rid of him. I am not sure that they had not fixed upon the name of the very man in the company who was ordered to despatch him at the first general action, and the bribe I was to give him for this delicate piece of service.

But the truth is, I was of opinion then (and though the fulfilment of my prophecy has been delayed, yet I make no doubt it will be brought to pass ere long), that my Lord Bullingdon needed none of MY aid in sending him into the other world; but had a happy knack of finding the way thither himself, which he would be sure to pursue. In truth, he began upon this way early: of all the violent, daring, disobedient scapegraces that ever caused an affectionate parent pain, he was certainly the most incorrigible; there was no beating him, or coaxing him, or taming him.

For instance, with my little son, when his governor brought him into the room as we were over the bottle after dinner, my Lord would begin his violent and undutiful sarcasms at me.

‘Dear child,’ he would say, beginning to caress and fondle him, ‘what a pity it is I am not dead for thy sake! The Lyndons would then have a worthier representative, and enjoy all the benefit of the illustrious blood of the Barrys of Barryogue; would they not, Mr. Barry Lyndon?’ He always chose the days when company, or the clergy or gentry of the neighbourhood, were present, to make these insolent speeches to me.

Another day (it was Bryan’s birthday) we were giving a grand ball and gala at Hackton, and it was time for my little Bryan to make his appearance among us, as he usually did in the smartest little court- suit you ever saw (ah me! but it brings tears into my old eyes now to think of the bright looks of that darling little face). There was a great crowding and tittering when the child came in, led by his half-brother, who walked into the dancing-room (would you believe it?) in his stocking-feet, leading little Bryan by the hand, paddling about in the great shoes of the elder! ‘Don’t you think he fits my shoes very well, Sir Richard Wargrave?’ says the young reprobate: upon which the company began to look at each other and to titter; and his mother, coming up to Lord Bullingdon with great dignity, seized the child to her breast, and said, ‘From the manner in which I love this child, my Lord, you ought to know how I would have loved his elder brother had he proved worthy of any mother’s affection!’ and, bursting into tears, Lady Lyndon left the apartment, and the young lord rather discomfited for once.

At last, on one occasion, his behaviour to me was so outrageous (it was in the hunting-field and in a large public company), that I lost all patience, rode at the urchin straight, wrenched him out of his saddle with all my force, and, flinging him roughly to the ground, sprang down to it myself, and administered such a correction across the young caitiff’s head and shoulders with my horsewhip as might have ended in his death, had I not been restrained in time; for my passion was up, and I was in a state to do murder or any other crime. The lad was taken home and put to bed, where he lay for a day or two in a fever, as much from rage and vexation as from the chastisement I had given him; and three days afterwards, on sending to inquire at his chamber whether he would join the family at table, a note was found on his table, and his bed was empty and cold. The young villain had fled, and had the audacity to write in the following terms regarding me to my wife, his mother:–

‘Madam,’ he said, ‘I have borne as long as mortal could endure the ill-treatment of the insolent Irish upstart whom you have taken to your bed. It is not only the lowness of his birth and the general brutality of his manners which disgust me, and must make me hate him so long as I have the honour to bear the name of Lyndon, which he is unworthy of, but the shameful nature of his conduct towards your Ladyship; his brutal and ungentlemanlike behaviour, his open infidelity, his habits of extravagance, intoxication, his shameless robberies and swindling of my property and yours. It is these insults to you which shock and annoy me, more than the ruffian’s infamous conduct to myself. I would have stood by your Ladyship as I promised, but you seem to have taken latterly your husband’s part; and, as I cannot personally chastise this low-bred ruffian, who, to our shame be it spoken, is the husband of my mother; and as I cannot bear to witness his treatment of you, and loathe his horrible society as if it were the plague, I am determined to quit my native country: at least during his detested life, or during my own. I possess a small income from my father, of which I have no doubt Mr. Barry will cheat me if he can; but which, if your Ladyship has some feelings of a mother left, you will, perhaps, award to me. Messrs. Childs, the bankers, can have orders to pay it to me when due; if they receive no such orders, I shall be not in the least surprised, knowing you to be in the hands of a villain who would not scruple to rob on the highway; and shall try to find out some way in life for myself more honourable than that by which the penniless Irish adventurer has arrived to turn me out of my rights and home.’

This mad epistle was signed ‘Bullingdon,’ and all the neighbours vowed that I had been privy to his flight, and would profit by it; though I declare on my honour my true and sincere desire, after reading the above infamous letter, was to have the author within a good arm’s length of me, that I might let him know my opinion regarding him. But there was no eradicating this idea from people’s minds, who insisted that I wanted to kill Bullingdon; whereas murder, as I have said, was never one of my evil qualities: and even had I wished to injure my young enemy ever so much, common prudence would have made my mind easy, as I knew he was going to ruin his own way.

It was long before we heard of the fate of the audacious young truant; but after some fifteen months had elapsed, I had the pleasure of being able to refute some of the murderous calumnies which had been uttered against me, by producing a bill with Bullingdon’s own signature, drawn from General Tarleton’s army in America, where my company was conducting itself with the greatest glory, and with which my Lord was serving as a volunteer. There were some of my kind friends who persisted still in attributing all sorts of wicked intentions to me. Lord Tiptoff would never believe that I would pay any bill, much more any bill of Lord Bullingdon’s; old Lady Betty Grimsby, his sister, persisted in declaring the bill was a forgery, and the poor dear lord dead; until there came a letter to her Ladyship from Lord Bullingdon himself, who had been at New York at headquarters, and who described at length the splendid festival given by the officers of the garrison to our distinguished chieftains, the two Howes.

In the meanwhile, if I HAD murdered my Lord, I could scarcely have been received with more shameful obloquy and slander than now followed me in town and country. ‘You will hear of the lad’s death, be sure,’ exclaimed one of my friends. ‘And then his wife’s will follow,’ added another. ‘He will marry Jenny Jones,’ added a third; and so on. Lavender brought me the news of these scandals about me: the country was up against me. The farmers on market-days used to touch their hats sulkily, and get out of my way; the gentlemen who followed my hunt now suddenly seceded from it, and left off my uniform; at the county ball, where I led out Lady Susan Capermore, and took my place third in the dance after the duke and the marquis, as was my wont, all the couples turned away as we came to them, and we were left to dance alone. Sukey Capermore has a love of dancing which would make her dance at a funeral if anybody asked her, and I had too much spirit to give in at this signal instance of insult towards me; so we danced with some of the very commonest low people at the bottom of the set–your apothecaries, wine-merchants, attorneys, and such scum as are allowed to attend our public assemblies.

The bishop, my Lady Lyndon’s relative, neglected to invite us to the palace at the assizes; and, in a word, every indignity was put upon me which could by possibility be heaped upon an innocent and honourable gentleman.

My reception in London, whither I now carried my wife and family, was scarcely more cordial. On paying my respects to my Sovereign at St. James’s, His Majesty pointedly asked me when I had news of Lord Bullingdon. On which I replied, with no ordinary presence of mind, ‘Sir, my Lord Bullingdon is fighting the rebels against your Majesty’s crown in America. Does your Majesty desire that I should send another regiment to aid him?’ On which the King turned on his heel, and I made my bow out of the presence-chamber. When Lady Lyndon kissed the Queen’s hand at the drawing-room, I found that precisely the same question had been put to her Ladyship; and she came home much agitated at the rebuke which had been administered to her. Thus it was that my loyalty was rewarded, and my sacrifice, in favour of my country, viewed! I took away my establishment abruptly to Paris, where I met with a very different reception: but my stay amidst the enchanting pleasures of that capital was extremely short; for the French Government, which had been long tampering with the American rebels, now openly acknowledged the independence of the United States. A declaration of war ensued: all we happy English were ordered away from Paris; and I think I left one or two fair ladies there inconsolable. It is the only place where a gentleman can live as he likes without being incommoded by his wife. The Countess and I, during our stay, scarcely saw each other except upon public occasions, at Versailles, or at the Queen’s play-table; and our dear little Bryan advanced in a thousand elegant accomplishments which rendered him the delight of all who knew him.

I must not forget to mention here my last interview with my good uncle, the Chevalier de Ballybarry, whom I left at Brussels with strong intentions of making his salut, as the phrase is, and who had gone into retirement at a convent there. Since then he had come into the world again, much to his annoyance and repentance; having fallen desperately in love in his old age with a French actress, who had done, as most ladies of her character do,–ruined him, left him, and laughed at him. His repentance was very edifying. Under the guidance of Messieurs of the Irish College, he once more turned his thoughts towards religion; and his only prayer to me when I saw him and asked in what I could relieve him, was to pay a handsome fee to the convent into which he proposed to enter.

This I could not, of course, do: my religious principles forbidding me to encourage superstition in any way; and the old gentleman and I parted rather coolly, in consequence of my refusal, as he said, to make his old days comfortable.

I was very poor at the time, that is the fact; and entre nous, the Rosemont of the French Opera, an indifferent dancer, but a charming figure and ankle, was ruining me in diamonds, equipages, and furniture bills, added to which I had a run of ill-luck at play, and was forced to meet my losses by the most shameful sacrifices to the money-lenders, by pawning part of Lady Lyndon’s diamonds (that graceless little Rosemont wheedled me out of some of them), and by a thousand other schemes for raising money. But when Honour is in the case, was I ever found backward at her call: and what man can say that Barry Lyndon lost a bet which he did not pay?

As for my ambitious hopes regarding the Irish peerage, I began, on my return, to find out that I had been led wildly astray by that rascal Lord Crabs; who liked to take my money, but had no more influence to get me a coronet than to procure for me the Pope’s tiara. The Sovereign was not a whit more gracious to me on returning from the Continent than he had been before my departure; and I had it from one of the aides-de-camp of the Royal Dukes his brothers, that my conduct and amusements at Paris had been odiously misrepresented by some spies there, and had formed the subject of Royal comment; and that the King had, influenced by these calumnies, actually said I was the most disreputable man in the three kingdoms. I disreputable! I a dishonour to my name and country! When I heard these falsehoods, I was in such a rage that I went off to Lord North at once to remonstrate with the Minister; to insist upon being allowed to appear before His Majesty and clear myself of the imputations against me, to point out my services to the Government in voting with them, and to ask when the reward that had been promised to me–viz., the title held by my ancestors–was again to be revived in my person?

There was a sleepy coolness in that fat Lord North which was the most provoking thing that the Opposition had ever to encounter from him. He heard me with half-shut eyes. When I had finished a long violent speech–which I made striding about his room in Downing Street, and gesticulating with all the energy of an Irishman–he opened one eye, smiled, and asked me gently if I had done. On my replying in the affirmative, he said, ‘Well, Mr. Barry, I’ll answer you, point by point. The King is exceedingly averse to make peers, as you know. Your claims, as you call them, HAVE been laid before him, and His Majesty’s gracious reply was, that you were the most impudent man in his dominions, and merited a halter rather than a coronet. As for withdrawing your support from us, you are perfectly welcome to carry yourself and your vote whithersoever you please. And now, as I have a great deal of occupation, perhaps you will do me the favour to retire.’ So saying, he raised his hand lazily to the bell, and bowed me out; asking blandly if there was any other thing in the world in which he could oblige me.

I went home in a fury which can’t be described; and having Lord Crabs to dinner that day, assailed his Lordship by pulling his wig off his head, and smothering it in his face, and by attacking him in that part of the person where, according to report, he had been formerly assaulted by Majesty. The whole story was over the town the next day, and pictures of me were hanging in the clubs and print- shops performing the operation alluded to. All the town laughed at the picture of the lord and the Irishman, and, I need not say, recognised both. As for me, I was one of the most celebrated characters in London in those days: my dress, style, and equipage being as well known as those of any leader of the fashion; and my popularity, if not great in the highest quarters, was at least considerable elsewhere. The people cheered me in the Gordon rows, at the time they nearly killed my friend Jemmy Twitcher and burned Lord Mansfield’s house down. Indeed, I was known as a staunch Protestant, and after my quarrel with Lord North veered right round to the Opposition, and vexed him with all the means in my power.

These were not, unluckily, very great, for I was a bad speaker, and the House would not listen to me, and presently, in 1780, after the Gordon disturbance, was dissolved, when a general election took place. It came on me, as all my mishaps were in the habit of coming, at a most unlucky time. I was obliged to raise more money, at most ruinous rates, to face the confounded election, and had the Tiptoffs against me in the field more active and virulent than ever.

My blood boils even now when I think of the rascally conduct of my enemies in that scoundrelly election. I was held up as the Irish Bluebeard, and libels of me were printed, and gross caricatures drawn representing me flogging Lady Lyndon, whipping Lord Bullingdon, turning him out of doors in a storm, and I know not what. There were pictures of a pauper cabin in Ireland, from which it was pretended I came; others in which I was represented as a lacquey and shoeblack. A flood of calumny was let loose upon me, in which any man of less spirit would have gone down.

But though I met my accusers boldly, though I lavished sums of money in the election, though I flung open Hackton Hall and kept champagne and Burgundy running there, and at all my inns in the town, as commonly as water, the election went against me. The rascally gentry had all turned upon me and joined the Tiptoff faction: it was even represented that I held my wife by force; and though I sent her into the town alone, wearing my colours, with Bryan in her lap, and made her visit the mayor’s lady and the chief women there, nothing would persuade the people but that she lived in fear and trembling of me; and the brutal mob had the insolence to ask her why she dared to go back, and how she liked horsewhip for supper.

I was thrown out of my election, and all the bills came down upon me together–all the bills I had been contracting during the years of my marriage, which the creditors, with a rascally unanimity, sent in until they lay upon my table in heaps. I won’t cite their amount: it was frightful. My stewards and lawyers made matters worse. I was bound up in an inextricable toil of bills and debts, of mortgages and insurances, and all the horrible evils attendant upon them. Lawyers upon lawyers posted down from London; composition after composition was made, and Lady Lyndon’s income hampered almost irretrievably to satisfy these cormorants. To do her justice, she behaved with tolerable kindness at this season of trouble; for whenever I wanted money I had to coax her, and whenever I coaxed her I was sure of bringing this weak and light-minded woman to good- humour: who was of such a weak terrified nature, that to secure an easy week with me she would sign away a thousand a year. And when my troubles began at Hackton, and I determined on the only chance left, viz. to retire to Ireland and retrench, assigning over the best part of my income to the creditors until their demands were met, my Lady was quite cheerful at the idea of going, and said, if we would be quiet, she had no doubt all would be well; indeed, was glad to undergo the comparative poverty in which we must now live for the sake of the retirement and the chance of domestic quiet which she hoped to enjoy.

We went off to Bristol pretty suddenly, leaving the odious and ungrateful wretches at Hackton to vilify us, no doubt, in our absence. My stud and hounds were sold off immediately; the harpies would have been glad to pounce upon my person; but that was out of their power. I had raised, by cleverness and management, to the full as much on my mines and private estates as they were worth; so the scoundrels were disappointed in THIS instance; and as for the plate and property in the London house, they could not touch that, as it was the property of the heirs of the house of Lyndon.

I passed over to Ireland, then, and took up my abode at Castle Lyndon for a while; all the world imagining that I was an utterly ruined man, and that the famous and dashing Barry Lyndon would never again appear in the circles of which he had been an ornament. But it was not so. In the midst of my perplexities, Fortune reserved a great consolation for me still. Despatches came home from America announcing Lord Cornwallis’s defeat of General Gates in Carolina, and the death of Lord Bullingdon, who was present as a volunteer.

For my own desires to possess a paltry Irish title I cared little. My son was now heir to an English earldom, and I made him assume forthwith the title of Lord Viscount Castle Lyndon, the third of the family titles. My mother went almost mad with joy at saluting her grandson as ‘my Lord,’ and I felt that all my sufferings and privations were repaid by seeing this darling child advanced to such a post of honour.



If the world were not composed of a race of ungrateful scoundrels, who share your prosperity while it lasts, and, even when gorged with your venison and Burgundy, abuse the generous giver of the feast, I am sure I merit a good name and a high reputation: in Ireland, at least, where my generosity was unbounded, and the splendour of my mansion and entertainments unequalled by any other nobleman of my time. As long as my magnificence lasted, all the country was free to partake of it; I had hunters sufficient in my stables to mount a regiment of dragoons, and butts of wine in my cellar which would have made whole counties drunk for years. Castle Lyndon became the headquarters of scores of needy gentlemen, and I never rode a- hunting but I had a dozen young fellows of the best blood of the country riding as my squires and gentlemen of the horse. My son, little Castle Lyndon, was a prince; his breeding and manners, even at his early age, showed him to be worthy of the two noble families from whom he was descended: I don’t know what high hopes I had for the boy, and indulged in a thousand fond anticipations as to his future success and figure in the world. But stern Fate had determined that I should leave none of my race behind me, and ordained that I should finish my career, as I see it closing now– poor, lonely, and childless. I may have had my faults; but no man shall dare to say of me that I was not a good and tender father. I loved that boy passionately; perhaps with a blind partiality: I denied him nothing. Gladly, gladly, I swear, would I have died that his premature doom might have been averted. I think there is not a day since I lost him but his bright face and beautiful smiles look down on me out of heaven, where he is, and that my heart does not yearn towards him. That sweet child was taken from me at the age of nine years, when he was full of beauty and promise: and so powerful is the hold his memory has of me that I have never been able to forget him; his little spirit haunts me of nights on my restless solitary pillow; many a time, in the wildest and maddest company, as the bottle is going round, and the song and laugh roaring about, I am thinking of him. I have got a lock of his soft brown hair hanging round my breast now: it will accompany me to the dishonoured pauper’s grave; where soon, no doubt, Barry Lyndon’s worn-out old bones will be laid.

My Bryan was a boy of amazing high spirit (indeed how, coming from such a stock, could he be otherwise?), impatient even of my control, against which the dear little rogue would often rebel gallantly; how much more, then, of his mother’s and the women’s, whose attempts to direct him he would laugh to scorn. Even my own mother (‘Mrs. Barry of Lyndon’ the good soul now called herself, in compliment to my new family) was quite unable to check him; and hence you may fancy what a will he had of his own. If it had not been for that, he might have lived to this day: he might–but why repine? Is he not in a better place? would the heritage of a beggar do any service to him? It is best as it is–Heaven be good to us!–Alas! that I, his father, should be left to deplore him.

It was in the month of October I had been to Dublin, in order to see a lawyer and a moneyed man who had come over to Ireland to consult with me about some sales of mine and the cut of Hackton timber; of which, as I hated the place and was greatly in want of money, I was determined to cut down every stick. There had been some difficulty in the matter. It was said I had no right to touch the timber. The brute peasantry about the estate had been roused to such a pitch of hatred against me, that the rascals actually refused to lay an axe to the trees; and my agent (that scoundrel Larkins) declared that his life was in danger among them if he attempted any further despoilment (as they called it) of the property. Every article of the splendid furniture was sold by this time, as I need not say; and as for the plate, I had taken good care to bring it off to Ireland, where it now was in the best of keeping–my banker’s, who had advanced six thousand pounds on it: which sum I soon had occasion for.

I went to Dublin, then, to meet the English man of business; and so far succeeded in persuading Mr. Splint, a great shipbuilder and timber-dealer of Plymouth, of my claim to the Hackton timber, that he agreed to purchase it off-hand at about one-third of its value, and handed me over five thousand pounds: which, being pressed with debts at the time, I was fain to accept. HE had no difficulty in getting down the wood, I warrant. He took a regiment of shipwrights and sawyers from his own and the King’s yards at Plymouth, and in two months Hackton Park was as bare of trees as the Bog of Allen.

I had but ill luck with that accursed expedition and money. I lost the greater part of it in two nights’ play at ‘Daly’s,’ so that my debts stood just as they were before; and before the vessel sailed for Holyhead, which carried away my old sharper of a timber- merchant, all that I had left of the money he brought me was a couple of hundred pounds, with which I returned home very disconsolately: and very suddenly, too, for my Dublin tradesmen were hot upon me, hearing I had spent the loan, and two of my wine- merchants had writs out against me for some thousands of pounds.

I bought in Dublin, according to my promise, however–for when I give a promise I will keep it at any sacrifices–a little horse for my dear little Bryan; which was to be a present for his tenth birthday, that was now coming on: it was a beautiful little animal and stood me in a good sum. I never regarded money for that dear child. But the horse was very wild. He kicked off one of my horse- boys, who rode him at first, and broke the lad’s leg; and, though I took the animal in hand on the journey home, it was only my weight and skill that made the brute quiet.

When we got home I sent the horse away with one of my grooms to a farmer’s house, to break him thoroughly in, and told Bryan, who was all anxiety to see his little horse, that he would arrive by his birthday, when he should hunt him along with my hounds; and I promised myself no small pleasure in presenting the dear fellow to the field that day: which I hoped to see him lead some time or other in place of his fond father. Ah me! never was that gallant boy to ride a fox-chase, or to take the place amongst the gentry of his country which his birth and genius had pointed out for him!

Though I don’t believe in dreams and omens, yet I can’t but own that when a great calamity is hanging over a man he has frequently many strange and awful forebodings of it. I fancy now I had many. Lady Lyndon, especially, twice dreamed of her son’s death; but, as she was now grown uncommonly nervous and vapourish, I treated her fears with scorn, and my own, of course, too. And in an unguarded moment, over the bottle after dinner, I told poor Bryan, who was always questioning me about the little horse, and when it was to come, that it was arrived; that it was in Doolan’s farm, where Mick the groom was breaking him in. ‘Promise me, Bryan,’ screamed his mother, ‘that you will not ride the horse except in company of your father.’ But I only said, ‘Pooh, madam, you are an ass!’ being angry at her silly timidity, which was always showing itself in a thousand disagreeable ways now; and, turning round to Bryan, said, ‘I promise your Lordship a good flogging if you mount him without my leave.’

I suppose the poor child did not care about paying this penalty for the pleasure he was to have, or possibly thought a fond father would remit the punishment altogether; for the next morning, when I rose rather late, having sat up drinking the night before, I found the child had been off at daybreak, having slipt through his tutor’s room (this was Redmond Quin, our cousin, whom I had taken to live with me), and I had no doubt but that he was gone to Doolan’s farm.

I took a great horsewhip and galloped off after him in a rage, swearing I would keep my promise. But, Heaven forgive me! I little thought of it when at three miles from home I met a sad procession coming towards me: peasants moaning and howling as our Irish do, the black horse led by the hand, and, on a door that some of the folk carried, my poor dear dear little boy. There he lay in his little boots and spurs, and his little coat of scarlet and gold. His dear face was quite white, and he smiled as he held a hand out to me, and said painfully, ‘You won’t whip me, will you, papa?’ I could only burst out into tears in reply. I have seen many and many a man dying, and there’s a look about the eyes which you cannot mistake. There was a little drummer-boy I was fond of who was hit down before my company at Kuhnersdorf; when I ran up to give him some water, he looked exactly like my dear Bryan then did–there’s no mistaking that awful look of the eyes. We carried him home and scoured the country round for doctors to come and look at his hurt.

But what does a doctor avail in a contest with the grim invincible enemy? Such as came could only confirm our despair by their account of the poor child’s case. He had mounted his horse gallantly, sat him bravely all the time the animal plunged and kicked, and, having overcome his first spite, ran him at a hedge by the roadside. But there were loose stones at the top, and the horse’s foot caught among them, and he and his brave little rider rolled over together at the other side. The people said they saw the noble little boy spring up after his fall and run to catch the horse; which had broken away from him, kicking him on the back, as it would seem, as they lay on the ground. Poor Bryan ran a few yards and then dropped down as if shot. A pallor came over his face, and they thought he was dead. But they poured whisky down his mouth, and the poor child revived: still he could not move; his spine was injured; the lower half of him was dead when they laid him in bed at home. The rest did not last long, God help me! He remained yet for two days with us; and a sad comfort it was to think he was in no pain.

During this time the dear angel’s temper seemed quite to change: he asked his mother and me pardon for any act of disobedience he had been guilty of towards us; he said often he should like to see his brother Bullingdon. ‘Bully was better than you, papa,’ he said; ‘he used not to swear so, and he told and taught me many good things while you were away.’ And, taking a hand of his mother and mine in each of his little clammy ones, he begged us not to quarrel so, but love each other, so that we might meet again in heaven, where Bully told him quarrelsome people never went. His mother was very much affected by these admonitions from the poor suffering angel’s mouth; and I was so too. I wish she had enabled me to keep the counsel which the dying boy gave us.

At last, after two days, he died. There he lay, the hope of my family, the pride of my manhood, the link which had kept me and my Lady Lyndon together. ‘Oh, Redmond,’ said she, kneeling by the sweet child’s body, ‘do, do let us listen to the truth out of his blessed mouth: and do you amend your life, and treat your poor loving fond wife as her dying child bade you.’ And I said I would: but there are promises which it is out of a man’s power to keep; especially with such a woman as her. But we drew together after that sad event, and were for several months better friends.

I won’t tell you with what splendour we buried him. Of what avail are undertakers’ feathers and heralds’ trumpery? I went out and shot the fatal black horse that had killed him, at the door of the vault where we laid my boy. I was so wild, that I could have shot myself too. But for the crime, it would have been better that I should, perhaps; for what has my life been since that sweet flower was taken out of my bosom? A succession of miseries, wrongs, disasters, and mental and bodily sufferings which never fell to the lot of any other man in Christendom.

Lady Lyndon, always vapourish and nervous, after our blessed boy’s catastrophe became more agitated than ever, and plunged into devotion with so much fervour, that you would have fancied her almost distracted at times. She imagined she saw visions. She said an angel from heaven had told her that Bryan’s death was as a punishment to her for her neglect of her first-born. Then she would declare Bullingdon was alive; she had seen him in a dream. Then again she would fall into fits of sorrow about his death, and grieve for him as violently as if he had been the last of her sons who had died, and not our darling Bryan; who, compared to Bullingdon, was what a diamond is to a vulgar stone. Her freaks were painful to witness, and difficult to control. It began to be said in the country that the Countess was going mad. My scoundrelly enemies did not fail to confirm and magnify the rumour, and would add that I was the cause of her insanity: I had driven her to distraction, I had killed Bullingdon, I had murdered my own son; I don’t know what else they laid to my charge. Even in Ireland their hateful calumnies reached me: my friends fell away from me. They began to desert my hunt, as they did in England, and when I went to race or market found sudden reasons for getting out of my neighbourhood. I got the name of Wicked Barry, Devil Lyndon, which you please: the country- folk used to make marvellous legends about me: the priests said I had massacred I don’t know how many German nuns in the Seven Years’ War; that the ghost of the murdered Bullingdon haunted my house. Once at a fair in a town hard by, when I had a mind to buy a waistcoat for one of my people, a fellow standing by said, ”Tis a strait-waistcoat he’s buying for my Lady Lyndon.’ And from this circumstance arose a legend of my cruelty to my wife; and many circumstantial details were narrated regarding my manner and ingenuity of torturing her.

The loss of my dear boy pressed not only on my heart as a father, but injured my individual interests in a very considerable degree; for as there was now no direct heir to the estate, and Lady Lyndon was of a weak health, and supposed to be quite unlikely to leave a family, the next in succession-that detestable family of Tiptoff– began to exert themselves in a hundred ways to annoy me, and were at the head of the party of enemies who were raising reports to my discredit. They interposed between me and my management of the property in a hundred different ways; making an outcry if I cut a stick, sunk a shaft, sold a picture, or sent a few ounces of plate to be remodelled. They harassed me with ceaseless lawsuits, got injunctions from Chancery, hampered my agents in the execution of their work; so much so that you would have fancied my own was not my own, but theirs, to do as they liked with. What is worse, as I have reason to believe, they had tamperings and dealings with my own domestics under my own roof; for I could not have a word with Lady Lyndon but it somehow got abroad, and I could not be drunk with my chaplain and friends but some sanctified rascals would get hold of the news, and reckon up all the bottles I drank and all the oaths I swore. That these were not few, I acknowledge. I am of the old school; was always a free liver and speaker; and, at least, if I did and said what I liked, was not so bad as many a canting scoundrel I know of who covers his foibles and sins, unsuspected, with a mask of holiness. As I am making a clean breast of it, and am no hypocrite, I may as well confess now that I endeavoured to ward off the devices of my enemies by an artifice which was not, perhaps, strictly justifiable. Everything depended on my having an heir to the estate; for if Lady Lyndon, who was of weakly health, had died, the next day I was a beggar: all my sacrifices of money, &c., on the estate would not have been held in a farthing’s account; all the debts would have been left on my shoulders; and my enemies would have triumphed over me: which, to a man of my honourable spirit, was ‘the unkindest cut of all,’ as some poet says.

I confess, then, it was my wish to supplant these scoundrels; and, as I could not do so without an heir to my property, _I_ DETERMINED TO FIND ONE. If I had him near at hand, and of my own blood too, though with the bar sinister, is not here the question. It was then I found out the rascally machinations of my enemies; for, having broached this plan to Lady Lyndon, whom I made to be, outwardly at least, the most obedient of wives,–although I never let a letter from her or to her go or arrive without my inspection,–although I allowed her to see none but those persons who I thought, in her delicate health, would be fitting society for her; yet the infernal Tiptoffs got wind of my scheme, protested instantly against it, not only by letter, but in the shameful libellous public prints, and held me up to public odium as a ‘child-forger,’ as they called me. Of course I denied the charge–I could do no otherwise, and offered to meet any one of the Tiptoffs on the field of honour, and prove him a scoundrel and a liar: as he was; though, perhaps, not in this instance. But they contented themselves by answering me by a lawyer, and declined an invitation which any man of spirit would have accepted. My hopes of having an heir were thus blighted completely: indeed, Lady Lyndon (though, as I have said, I take her opposition for nothing) had resisted the proposal with as much energy as a woman of her weakness could manifest; and said she had committed one great crime in consequence of me, but would rather die than perform another. I could easily have brought her Ladyship to her senses, however: but my scheme had taken wind, and it was now in vain to attempt it. We might have had a dozen children in honest wedlock, and people would have said they were false.

As for raising money on annuities, I may say I had used her life interest up. There were but few of those assurance societies in my time which have since sprung up in the city of London; underwriters did the business, and my wife’s life was as well known among them as, I do believe, that of any woman in Christendom. Latterly, when I wanted to get a sum against her life, the rascals had the impudence to say my treatment of her did not render it worth a year’s purchase,–as if my interest lay in killing her! Had my boy lived, it would have been a different thing; he and his mother might have cut off the entail of a good part of the property between them, and my affairs have been put in better order. Now they were in a bad condition indeed. All my schemes had turned out failures; my lands, which I had purchased with borrowed money, made me no return, and I was obliged to pay ruinous interest for the sums with which I had purchased them. My income, though very large, was saddled with hundreds of annuities, and thousands of lawyers’ charges; and I felt the net drawing closer and closer round me, and no means to extricate myself from its toils.

To add to all my perplexities, two years after my poor child’s death, my wife, whose vagaries of temper and wayward follies I had borne with for twelve years, wanted to leave me, and absolutely made attempts at what she called escaping from my tyranny.

My mother, who was the only person that, in my misfortunes, remained faithful to me (indeed, she has always spoken of me in my true light, as a martyr to the rascality of others and a victim of my own generous and confiding temper), found out the first scheme that was going on; and of which those artful and malicious Tiptoffs were, as usual, the main promoters. Mrs. Barry, indeed, though her temper was violent and her ways singular, was an invaluable person to me in my house; which would have been at rack and ruin long before, but for her spirit of order and management, and for her excellent economy in the government of my numerous family. As for my Lady Lyndon, she, poor soul! was much too fine a lady to attend to household matters– passed her days with her doctor, or her books of piety, and never appeared among us except at my compulsion; when she and my mother would be sure to have a quarrel.

Mrs. Barry, on the contrary, had a talent for management in all matters. She kept the maids stirring, and the footmen to their duty; had an eye over the claret in the cellar, and the oats and hay in the stable; saw to the salting and pickling, the potatoes and the turf-stacking, the pig-killing and the poultry, the linen-room and the bakehouse, and the ten thousand minutiae of a great establishment. If all Irish housewives were like her, I warrant many a hall-fire would be blazing where the cobwebs only grow now, and many a park covered with sheep and fat cattle where the thistles are at present the chief occupiers. If anything could have saved me from the consequences of villainy in others, and (I confess it, for I am not above owning to my faults) my own too easy, generous, and careless nature, it would have been the admirable prudence of that worthy creature. She never went to bed until all the house was quiet and all the candles out; and you may fancy that this was a matter of some difficulty with a man of my habits, who had commonly a dozen of jovial fellows (artful scoundrels and false friends most of them were!) to drink with me every night, and who seldom, for my part, went to bed sober. Many and many a night, when I was unconscious of her attention, has that good soul pulled my boots off, and seen me laid by my servants snug in bed, and carried off the candle herself; and been the first in the morning, too, to bring me my drink of small-beer. Mine were no milksop times, I can tell you. A gentleman thought no shame of taking his half-dozen bottles; and, as for your coffee and slops, they were left to Lady Lyndon, her doctor, and the other old women. It was my mother’s pride that I could drink more than any man in the country,–as much, within a pint, as my father before me, she said.

That Lady Lyndon should detest her was quite natural. She is not the first of woman or mankind either that has hated a mother-in-law. I set my mother to keep a sharp watch over the freaks of her Ladyship; and this, you may be sure, was one of the reasons why the latter disliked her. I never minded that, however. Mrs. Barry’s assistance and surveillance were invaluable to me; and, if I had paid twenty spies to watch my Lady, I should not have been half so well served as by the disinterested care and watchfulness of my excellent mother. She slept with the house-keys under her pillow, and had an eye everywhere. She followed all the Countess’s movements like a shadow; she managed to know, from morning to night, everything that my Lady did. If she walked in the garden, a watchful eye was kept on the wicket; and if she chose to drive out, Mrs. Barry accompanied her, and a couple of fellows in my liveries rode alongside of the carriage to see that she came to no harm. Though she objected, and would have kept her room in sullen silence, I made a point that we should appear together at church in the coach-and-six every Sunday; and that she should attend the race-balls in my company, whenever the coast was clear of the rascally bailiffs who beset me. This gave the lie to any of those maligners who said I wished to make a prisoner of my wife. The fact is, that, knowing her levity, and seeing the insane dislike to me and mine which had now begun to supersede what, perhaps, had been an equally insane fondness for me, I was bound to be on my guard that she should not give me the slip. Had she left me, I was ruined the next day. This (which my mother knew) compelled us to keep a tight watch over her; but as for imprisoning her, I repel the imputation with scorn. Every man imprisons his wife to a certain degree; the world would be in a pretty condition if women were allowed to quit home and return to it whenever they had a mind. In watching over my wife, Lady Lyndon, I did no more than exercise the legitimate authority which awards honour and obedience to every husband.

Such, however, is female artifice, that, in spite of all my watchfulness in guarding her, it is probable my Lady would have given me the slip, had I not had quite as acute a person as herself as my ally: for, as the proverb says that ‘the best way to catch one thief is to set another after him,’ so the best way to get the better of a woman is to engage one of her own artful sex to guard her. One would have thought that, followed as she was, all her letters read, and all her acquaintances strictly watched by me, living in a remote part of Ireland away from her family, Lady Lyndon could have had no chance of communicating with her allies, or of making her wrongs, as she was pleased to call them, public; and yet, for a while, she carried on a correspondence under my very nose, and acutely organised a conspiracy for flying from me; as shall be told.

She always had an inordinate passion for dress, and, as she was never thwarted in any whimsey she had of this kind (for I spared no money to gratify her, and among my debts are milliners’ bills to the amount of many thousands), boxes used to pass continually to and fro from Dublin, with all sorts of dresses, caps, flounces, and furbelows, as her fancy dictated. With these would come letters from her milliner, in answer to numerous similar injunctions from my Lady; all of which passed through my hands, without the least suspicion, for some time. And yet in these very papers, by the easy means of sympathetic ink, were contained all her Ladyship’s correspondence; and Heaven knows (for it was some time, as I have said, before I discovered the trick) what charges against me.

But clever Mrs. Barry found out that always before my lady-wife chose to write letters to her milliner, she had need of lemons to make her drink, as she said; this fact, being mentioned to me, set me a-thinking, and so I tried one of the letters before the fire, and the whole scheme of villainy was brought to light. I will give a specimen of one of the horrid artful letters of this unhappy woman. In a great hand, with wide lines, were written a set of directions to her mantua-maker, setting forth the articles of dress for which my Lady had need, the peculiarity of their make, the stuff she selected, &c. She would make out long lists in this way, writing each article in a separate line, so as to have more space for detailing all my cruelties and her tremendous wrongs. Between these lines she kept the journal of her captivity: it would have made the fortune of a romance-writer in those days but to have got a copy of it, and to have published it under the title of the ‘Lovely Prisoner, or the Savage Husband,’ or by some name equally taking and absurd. The journal would be as follows:–

. . . . . . .

‘MONDAY.–Yesterday I was made to go to church. My odious, MONSTROUS, VULGAR SHE-DRAGON OF A MOTHER-IN-LAW, in a yellow satin and red ribands, taking the first place in the coach; Mr. L. riding by its side, on the horse he never paid for to Captain Hurdlestone. The wicked hypocrite led me to the pew, with hat in hand and a smiling countenance, and kissed my hand as I entered the coach after service, and patted my Italian greyhound–all that the few people collected might see. He made me come downstairs in the evening to make tea for his company; of whom three-fourths, he himself included, were, as usual, drunk. They painted the parson’s face black, when his reverence had arrived at his seventh bottle; and at his usual insensible stage, they tied him on the grey mare with his face to the tail. The she-dragon read the “Whole Duty of Man” all the evening till bedtime; when she saw me to my apartments, locked me in, and proceeded to wait upon her abominable son: whom she adores for his wickedness, I should think, AS STYCORAX DID CALIBAN.’

. . . . . . .

You should have seen my mother’s fury as I read her out this passage! Indeed, I have always had a taste for a joke (that practised on the parson, as described above, is, I confess, a true bill), and used carefully to select for Mrs. Barry’s hearing all the COMPLIMENTS that Lady Lyndon passed upon her. The dragon was the name by which she was known in this precious correspondence: or sometimes she was designated by the title of the ‘Irish Witch.’ As for me, I was denominated ‘my gaoler,’ ‘my tyrant,’ ‘the dark spirit which has obtained the mastery over my being,’ and so on; in terms always complimentary to my power, however little they might be so to my amiability. Here is another extract from her ‘Prison Diary,’ by which it will be seen that my Lady, although she pretended to be so indifferent to my goings on, had a sharp woman’s eye, and could be as jealous as another:–

. . . . . . .

‘WEDNESDAY.–This day two years my last hope and pleasure in life was taken from me, and my dear child was called to heaven. Has he joined his neglected brother there, whom I suffered to grow up unheeded by my side: and whom the tyranny of the monster to whom I am united drove to exile, and perhaps to death? Or is the child alive, as my fond heart sometimes deems? Charles Bullingdon! come to the aid of a wretched mother, who acknowledges her crimes, her coldness towards thee, and now bitterly pays for her error! But no, he cannot live! I am distracted! My only hope is in you, my cousin– you whom I had once thought to salute by a STILL FONDER TITLE, my dear George Poynings! Oh, be my knight and my preserver, the true chivalric being thou ever wert, and rescue me from the thrall of the felon caitiff who holds me captive–rescue me from him, and from Stycorax, the vile Irish witch, his mother!’

(Here follow some verses, such as her Ladyship was in the habit of composing by reams, in which she compares herself to Sabra, in the ‘Seven Champions,’ and beseeches her George to rescue her from THE DRAGON, meaning Mrs. Barry. I omit the lines, and proceed:)–

‘Even my poor child, who perished untimely on this sad anniversary, the tyrant who governs me had taught to despise and dislike me. ‘Twas in disobedience to my orders, my prayers, that he went on the fatal journey. What sufferings, what humiliations have I had to endure since then! I am a prisoner in my own halls. I should fear poison, but that I know the wretch has a sordid interest in keeping me alive, and that my death would be the signal for his ruin. But I dare not stir without my odious, hideous, vulgar gaoler, the horrid Irishwoman, who pursues my every step. I am locked into my chamber at night, like a felon, and only suffered to leave it when ORDERED into the presence of my lord (_I_ ordered!), to be present at his orgies with his boon companions, and to hear his odious converse as he lapses into the disgusting madness of intoxication! He has given up even the semblance of constancy–he, who swore that I alone could attach or charm him! And now he brings his vulgar mistresses before my very eyes, and would have had me acknowledge, as heir to my own property, his child by another!

‘No, I never will submit! Thou, and thou only, my George, my early friend, shalt be heir to the estates of Lyndon. Why did not Fate join me to thee, instead of to the odious man who holds me under his sway, and make the poor Calista happy?’

. . . . . . .

So the letters would run on for sheets upon sheets, in the closest cramped handwriting; and I leave any unprejudiced reader to say whether the writer of such documents must not have been as silly and vain a creature as ever lived, and whether she did not want being taken care of? I could copy out yards of rhapsody to Lord George Poynings, her old flame, in which she addressed him by the most affectionate names, and implored him to find a refuge for her against her oppressors; but they would fatigue the reader to peruse, as they would me to copy. The fact is, that this unlucky lady had the knack of writing a great deal more than she meant. She was always reading novels and trash; putting herself into imaginary characters and flying off into heroics and sentimentalities with as little heart as any woman I ever knew; yet showing the most violent disposition to be in love. She wrote always as if she was in a flame of passion. I have an elegy on her lap-dog, the most tender and pathetic piece she ever wrote; and most tender notes of remonstrance to Betty, her favourite maid; to her housekeeper, on quarrelling with her; to half-a-dozen acquaintances, each of whom she addressed as the dearest friend in the world, and forgot the very moment she took up another fancy. As for her love for her children, the above passage will show how much she was capable of true maternal feeling: the very sentence in which she records the death of one child serves to betray her egotisms, and to wreak her spleen against myself; and she only wishes to recall another from the grave, in order that he may be of some personal advantage to her. If I DID deal severely with this woman, keeping her from her flatterers who would have bred discord between us, and locking her up out of mischief, who shall say that I was wrong? If any woman deserved a strait-waistcoat,–it was my Lady Lyndon; and I have known people in my time manacled, and with their heads shaved, in the straw, who had not committed half the follies of that foolish, vain, infatuated creature.

My mother was so enraged by the charges against me and herself which these letters contained, that it was with the utmost difficulty I could keep her from discovering our knowledge of them to Lady Lyndon; whom it was, of course, my object to keep in ignorance of our knowledge of her designs: for I was anxious to know how far they went, and to what pitch of artifice she would go. The letters increased in interest (as they say of the novels) as they proceeded. Pictures were drawn of my treatment of her which would make your heart throb. I don’t know of what monstrosities she did not accuse me, and what miseries and starvation she did not profess herself to undergo; all the while she was living exceedingly fat and contented, to outward appearances, at our house at Castle Lyndon. Novel-reading and vanity had turned her brain. I could not say a rough word to her (and she merited many thousands a day, I can tell you), but she declared I was putting her to the torture; and my mother could not remonstrate with her but she went off into a fit of hysterics, of which she would declare the worthy old lady was the cause.

At last she began to threaten to kill herself; and though I by no means kept the cutlery out of the way, did not stint her in garters, and left her doctor’s shop at her entire service,–knowing her character full well, and that there was no woman in Christendom less likely to lay hands on her precious life than herself; yet these threats had an effect, evidently, in the quarter to which they were addressed; for the milliner’s packets now began to arrive with great frequency, and the bills sent to her contained assurances of coming aid. The chivalrous Lord George Poynings was coming to his cousin’s rescue, and did me the compliment to say that he hoped to free his dear cousin from the clutches of the most atrocious villain that ever disgraced humanity; and that, when she was free, measures should be taken for a divorce, on the ground of cruelty and every species of ill-usage on my part.

I had copies of all these precious documents on one side and the other carefully made, by my beforementioned relative, godson, and secretary, Mr. Redmond Quin at present the WORTHY agent of the Castle Lyndon property. This was a son of my old flame Nora, whom I had taken from her in a fit of generosity; promising to care for his education at Trinity College, and provide for him through life. But after the lad had been for a year at the University, the tutors would not admit him to commons or lectures until his college bills were paid; and, offended by this insolent manner of demanding the paltry sum due, I withdrew my patronage from the place, and ordered my gentleman to Castle Lyndon; where I made him useful to me in a hundred ways. In my dear little boy’s lifetime, he tutored the poor child as far as his high spirit would let him; but I promise you it was small trouble poor dear Bryan ever gave the books. Then he kept Mrs. Barry’s accounts; copied my own interminable correspondence with my lawyers and the agents of all my various property; took a hand at piquet or backgammon of evenings with me and my mother; or, being an ingenious lad enough (though of a mean boorish spirit, as became the son of such a father), accompanied my Lady Lyndon’s spinet with his flageolet; or read French and Italian with her: in both of which languages her Ladyship was a fine scholar, and with which he also became conversant. It would make my watchful old mother very angry to hear them conversing in these languages; for, not understanding a word of either of them, Mrs. Barry was furious when they were spoken, and always said it was some scheming they were after. It was Lady Lyndon’s constant way of annoying the old lady, when the three were alone together, to address Quin in one or other of these tongues.

I was perfectly at ease with regard to his fidelity, for I had bred the lad, and loaded him with benefits; and, besides, had had various proofs of his trustworthiness. He it was who brought me three of Lord George’s letters, in reply to some of my Lady’s complaints; which were concealed between the leather and the boards of a book which was sent from the circulating library for her Ladyship’s perusal. He and my Lady too had frequent quarrels. She mimicked his gait in her pleasanter moments; in her haughty moods, she would not sit down to table with a tailor’s grandson. ‘Send me anything for company but that odious Quin,’ she would say, when I proposed that he should go and amuse her with his books and his flute; for, quarrelsome as we were, it must not be supposed we were always at it: I was occasionally attentive to her. We would be friends for a month together, sometimes; then we would quarrel for a fortnight; then she would keep her apartments for a month: all of which domestic circumstances were noted down, in her Ladyship’s peculiar way, in her journal of captivity, as she called it; and a pretty document it is! Sometimes she writes, ‘My monster has been almost kind to-day;’ or, ‘My ruffian has deigned to smile.’ Then she will break out into expressions of savage hate; but for my poor mother it was ALWAYS hatred. It was, ‘The she-dragon is sick to-day; I wish to Heaven she would die!’ or, ‘The hideous old Irish basketwoman has been treating me to some of her Billingsgate to-day,’ and so forth: all which expressions, read to Mrs. Barry, or translated from the French and Italian, in which many of them were written, did not fail to keep the old lady in a perpetual fury against her charge: and so I had my watch-dog, as I called her, always on the alert. In translating these languages, young Quin was of great service to me; for I had a smattering of French–and High Dutch, when I was in the army, of course, I knew well–but Italian I knew nothing of, and was glad of the services of so faithful and cheap an interpreter.

This cheap and faithful interpreter, this godson and kinsman, on whom and on whose family I had piled up benefits, was actually trying to betray me; and for several months, at least, was in league with the enemy against me. I believe that the reason why they did not move earlier was the want of the great mover of all treasons– money: of which, in all parts of my establishment, there was a woful scarcity; but of this they also managed to get a supply through my rascal of a godson, who could come and go quite unsuspected: the whole scheme was arranged under our very noses, and the post-chaise ordered, and the means of escape actually got ready; while I never suspected their design.

A mere accident made me acquainted with their plan. One of my colliers had a pretty daughter; and this pretty lass had for her bachelor, as they call them in Ireland, a certain lad, who brought the letter-bag for Castle Lyndon (and many a dunning letter for me was there in it, God wot!): this letter-boy told his sweetheart how he brought a bag of money from the town for Master Quin; and how that Tim the post-boy had told him that he was to bring a chaise down to the water at a certain hour. Miss Rooney, who had no secrets from me, blurted out the whole story; asked me what scheming I was after, and what poor unlucky girl I was going to carry away with the chaise I had ordered, and bribe with the money I had got from town?

Then the whole secret flashed upon me, that the man I had cherished in my bosom was going to betray me. I thought at one time of catching the couple in the act of escape, half drowning them in the ferry which they had to cross to get to their chaise, and of pistolling the young traitor before Lady Lyndon’s eyes; but, on second thoughts, it was quite clear that the news of the escape would make a noise through the country, and rouse the confounded justice’s people about my ears, and bring me no good in the end. So I was obliged to smother my just indignation, and to content myself by crushing the foul conspiracy, just at the moment it was about to be hatched.

I went home, and in half-an-hour, and with a few of my terrible looks, I had Lady Lyndon on her knees, begging me to forgive her; confessing all and everything; ready to vow and swear she would never make such an attempt again; and declaring that she was fifty times on the point of owning everything to me, but that she feared my wrath against the poor young lad her accomplice: who was indeed the author and inventor of all the mischief. This–though I knew how entirely false the statement was–I was fain to pretend to believe; so I begged her to write to her cousin, Lord George, who had supplied her with money, as she admitted, and with whom the plan had been arranged, stating, briefly, that she had altered her mind as to the trip to the country proposed; and that, as her dear husband was rather in delicate health, she preferred to stay at home and nurse him. I added a dry postscript, in which I stated that it would give me great pleasure if his Lordship would come and visit us at Castle Lyndon, and that I longed to renew an acquaintance which in former times gave me so much satisfaction. ‘I should seek him out,’ I added, ‘so soon as ever I was in his neighbourhood, and eagerly anticipated the pleasure of a meeting with him.’ I think he must have understood my meaning perfectly well; which was, that I would run him through the body on the very first occasion I could come at him.

Then I had a scene with my perfidious rascal of a nephew; in which the young reprobate showed an audacity and a spirit for which I was quite unprepared. When I taxed him with ingratitude, ‘What do I owe you?’ said he. ‘I have toiled for you as no man ever did for another, and worked without a penny of wages. It was you yourself who set me against you, by giving me a task against which my soul revolted,–by making me a spy over your unfortunate wife, whose weakness is as pitiable as are her misfortunes and your rascally treatment of her. Flesh and blood could not bear to see the manner in which you used her. I tried to help her to escape from you; and I would do it again, if the opportunity offered, and so I tell you to your teeth!’ When I offered to blow his brains out for his insolence, ‘Pooh!’ said he,–‘kill the man who saved your poor boy’s life once, and who was endeavouring to keep him out of the ruin and perdition into which a wicked father was leading him, when a Merciful Power interposed, and withdrew him from this house of crime? I would have left you months ago, but I hoped for some chance of rescuing this unhappy lady. I swore I would try, the day I saw you strike her. Kill me, you woman’s bully! You would if you dared; but you have not the heart. Your very servants like me better than you. Touch me, and they will rise and send you to the gallows you merit!’

I interrupted this neat speech by sending a water-bottle at the young gentleman’s head, which felled him to the ground; and then I went to meditate upon what he had said to me. It was true the fellow had saved poor little Bryan’s life, and the boy to his dying day was tenderly attached to him. ‘Be good to Redmond, papa,’ were almost the last words he spoke; and I promised the poor child, on his death-bed, that I would do as he asked. It was also true, that rough usage of him would be little liked by my people, with whom he had managed to become a great favourite: for, somehow, though I got drunk with the rascals often, and was much more familiar with them than a man of my rank commonly is, yet I knew I was by no means liked by them; and the scoundrels were murmuring against me perpetually.

But I might have spared myself the trouble of debating what his fate should be, for the young gentleman took the disposal of it out of my hands in the simplest way in the world: viz. by washing and binding up his head so soon as he came to himself: by taking his horse from the stables; and, as he was quite free to go in and out of the house and park as he liked, he disappeared without the least let or hindrance; and leaving the horse behind him at the ferry, went off in the very post-chaise which was waiting for Lady Lyndon. I saw and heard no more of him for a considerable time; and now that he was out of the house, did not consider him a very troublesome enemy.

But the cunning artifice of woman is such that, I think, in the long run, no man, were he Machiavel himself, could escape from it; and though I had ample proofs in the above transaction (in which my wife’s perfidious designs were frustrated by my foresight), and under her own handwriting, of the deceitfulness of her character and her hatred for me, yet she actually managed to deceive me, in spite of all my precautions and the vigilance of my mother in my behalf. Had I followed that good lady’s advice, who scented the danger from afar off, as it were, I should never have fallen into the snare prepared for me; and which was laid in a way that was as successful as it was simple.

My Lady Lyndon’s relation with me was a singular one. Her life was passed in a crack-brained sort of alternation between love and hatred for me. If I was in a good-humour with her (as occurred sometimes) there was nothing she would not do to propitiate me further; and she would be as absurd and violent in her expressions of fondness as, at other moments, she would be in her demonstrations of hatred. It is not your feeble easy husbands who are loved best in the world; according to my experience of it. I do think the women like a little violence of temper, and think no worse of a husband who exercises his authority pretty smartly. I had got my Lady into such a terror about me, that when I smiled, it was quite an era of happiness to her; and if I beckoned to her, she would come fawning up to me like a dog. I recollect how, for the few days I was at school, the cowardly mean-spirited fellows would laugh if ever our schoolmaster made a joke. It was the same in the regiment whenever the bully of a sergeant was disposed to be jocular–not a recruit but was on the broad grin. Well, a wise and determined husband will get his wife into this condition of discipline; and I brought my high-born wife to kiss my hand, to pull off my boots, to fetch and carry for me like a servant, and always to make it a holiday, too, when I was in good-humour. I confided perhaps too much in the duration of this disciplined obedience, and forgot that the very hypocrisy which forms a part of it (all timid people are liars in their hearts) may be exerted in a way that may be far from agreeable, in order to deceive you.

After the ill-success of her last adventure, which gave me endless opportunities to banter her, one would have thought I might have been on my guard as to what her real intentions were; but she managed to mislead me with an art of dissimulation quite admirable, and lulled me into a fatal security with regard to her intentions: for, one day, as I was joking her, and asking her whether she would take the water again, whether she had found another lover, and so forth, she suddenly burst into tears, and, seizing hold of my hand, cried passionately out,–

‘Ah, Barry, you know well enough that I have never loved but you! Was I ever so wretched that a kind word from you did not make me happy! ever so angry, but the least offer of goodwill on your part did not bring me to your side? Did I not give a sufficient proof of my affection for you, in bestowing one of the first fortunes in England upon you? Have I repined or rebuked you for the way you have wasted it? No, I loved you too much and too fondly; I have always loved you. From the first moment I saw you, I felt irresistibly attracted towards you. I saw your bad qualities, and trembled at your violence; but I could not help loving you. I married you, though I knew I was sealing my own fate in doing so; and in spite of reason and duty. What sacrifice do you want from me? I am ready to make any, so you will but love me; or, if not, that at least you will gently use me.’

I was in a particularly good humour that day, and we had a sort of reconciliation: though my mother, when she heard the speech, and saw me softening towards her Ladyship, warned me solemnly, and said, ‘Depend on it, the artful hussy has some other scheme in her head now.’ The old lady was right; and I swallowed the bait which her Ladyship had prepared to entrap me as simply as any gudgeon takes a hook.

I had been trying to negotiate with a man for some money, for which I had pressing occasion; but since our dispute regarding the affair of the succession, my Lady had resolutely refused to sign any papers for my advantage: and without her name, I am sorry to say, my own was of little value in the market, and I could not get a guinea from any money-dealer in London or Dublin. Nor could I get the rascals from the latter place to visit me at Castle Lyndon: owing to that unlucky affair I had with Lawyer Sharp when I made him lend me the money he brought down, and old Salmon the Jew being robbed of the bond I gave him after leaving my house, [Footnote: These exploits of Mr. Lyndon are not related in the narrative. He probably, in the cases above alluded to, took the law into his own hands.] the people would not trust themselves within my walls any more. Our rents, too, were in the hands of receivers by this time, and it was as much as I could do to get enough money from the rascals to pay my wine- merchants their bills. Our English property, as I have said, was equally hampered; and, as often as I applied to my lawyers and agents for money, would come a reply demanding money of me, for debts and pretended claims which the rapacious rascals said they had on me.

It was, then, with some feelings of pleasure that I got a letter from my confidential man in Gray’s Inn, London, saying (in reply to some ninety-ninth demand of mine) that he thought he could get me some money; and inclosing a letter from a respectable firm in the city of London, connected with the mining interest, which offered to redeem the incumbrance in taking a long lease of certain property of ours, which was still pretty free, upon the Countess’s signature; and provided they could be assured of her free will in giving it. They said they heard she lived in terror of her life from me, and meditated a separation, in which case she might repudiate any deeds signed by her while in durance, and subject them, at any rate, to a doubtful and expensive litigation; and demanded to be made assured of her Ladyship’s perfect free will in the transaction before they advanced a shilling of their capital.

Their terms were so exorbitant, that I saw at once their offer must be sincere; and, as my Lady was in her gracious mood, had no difficulty in persuading her to write a letter, in her own hand, declaring that the accounts of our misunderstandings were utter calumnies; that we lived in perfect union, and that she was quite ready to execute any deed which her husband might desire her to sign.

This proposal was a very timely one, and filled me with great hopes. I have not pestered my readers with many accounts of my debts and law affairs; which were by this time so vast and complicated that I never thoroughly knew them myself, and was rendered half wild by their urgency. Suffice it to say, my money was gone–my credit was done. I was living at Castle Lyndon off my own beef and mutton, and the bread, turf, and potatoes off my own estate: I had to watch Lady Lyndon within, and the bailiffs without. For the last two years, since I went to Dublin to receive money (which I unluckily lost at play there, to the disappointment of my creditors), I did not venture to show in that city: and could only appear at our own county town at rare intervals, and because I knew the sheriffs: whom I swore I would murder if any ill chance happened to me. A chance of a good loan, then, was the most welcome prospect possible to me, and I hailed it with all the eagerness imaginable.

In reply to Lady Lyndon’s letter, came, in course of time, an answer from the confounded London merchants, stating that if her Ladyship would confirm by word of mouth, at their counting-house in Birchin Lane, London, the statement of her letter, they, having surveyed her property, would no doubt come to terms; but they declined incurring the risk of a visit to Castle Lyndon to negotiate, as they were aware how other respectable parties, such as Messrs. Sharp and Salmon of Dublin, had been treated there. This was a hit at me; but there are certain situations in which people can’t dictate their own terms: and, ‘faith, I was so pressed now for money, that I could have signed a bond with Old Nick himself, if he had come provided with a good round sum.

I resolved to go and take the Countess to London. It was in vain that my mother prayed and warned me. ‘Depend on it,’ says she, ‘there is some artifice. When once you get into that wicked town, you are not safe. Here you may live for years and years, in luxury and splendour, barring claret and all the windows broken; but as soon as they have you in London, they’ll get the better of my poor innocent lad; and the first thing I shall hear of you will be, that you are in trouble.’