Charles O'Malley, Vol. 1
Part 3 out of 10
"'I've been a spectator of your election contests; I've partaken of your
hospitality; I've witnessed your popular and national sports; I've
been present at your weddings, your fairs, your wakes; but no,--I was
forgetting,--I never saw a wake.'
"'Never saw a wake?' repeated each of the company in turn, as though the
gentleman was uttering a sentiment of very dubious veracity.
"'Never,' said Mr. Prettyman, rather abashed at this proof of his
incapacity to instruct his English friends upon _all_ matters of Irish
"'Well, then,' said Macnamara, 'with a blessing, we'll show you one.
Lord forbid that we shouldn't do the honors of our poor country to an
intelligent foreigner when he's good enough to come among us.'
"'Peter,' said he, turning to the servant behind him, 'who's dead
"'Sorra one, yer honor. Since the scrimmage at Portumna the place is
"'Who died lately in the neighborhood?'
"'The widow Macbride, yer honor.'
"'Couldn't they take her up again, Peter? My friend here never saw a wake.'
"'I'm afeered not; for it was the boys roasted her, and she wouldn't be a
decent corpse for to show a stranger,' said Peter, in a whisper.
"Mr. Prettyman shuddered at these peaceful indications of the neighborhood,
and said nothing.
"'Well, then, Peter, tell Jimmy Divine to take the old musket in my
bedroom, and go over to the Clunagh bog,--he can't go wrong. There's twelve
families there that never pay a halfpenny rent; and _when it's done_, let
him give notice to the neighborhood, and we'll have a rousing wake.'
"'You don't mean, Mr. Macnamara,--you don't mean to say--' stammered out
the cockney, with a face like a ghost.
"'I only mean to say,' said Phil, laughing, 'that you're keeping the
decanter very long at your right hand.'
"Burke contrived to interpose before the Englishman could ask any
explanation of what he had just heard,--and for some minutes he could only
wait in impatient anxiety,--when a loud report of a gun close beside the
house attracted the attention of the guests. The next moment old Peter
entered, his face radiant with smiles.
"'Well, what's that?' said Macnamara.
"''T was Jimmy, yer honor. As the evening was rainy, he said he'd take one
of the neighbors; and he hadn't to go far, for Andy Moore was going home,
and he brought him down at once.'
"'Did he shoot him?' said Mr. Prettyman, while cold perspiration broke over
his forehead. 'Did he murder the man?'
"'Sorra murder,' said Peter, disdainfully. 'But why shouldn't he shoot him
when the master bid him?'
"I needn't tell you more, Charley; but in ten minutes after, feigning some
excuse to leave the room, the terrified cockney took flight, and offering
twenty guineas for a horse to convey him to Athlone, he left Galway, fully
convinced that they don't yet know us on the other side of the Channel."
The election concluded, the turmoil and excitement of the contest over, all
was fast resuming its accustomed routine around us, when one morning my
uncle informed me that I was at length to leave my native county and enter
upon the great world as a student of Trinity College, Dublin. Although long
since in expectation of this eventful change, it was with no slight feeling
of emotion I contemplated the step which, removing me at once from all my
early friends and associations, was to surround me with new companions and
new influences, and place before me very different objects of ambition from
those I had hitherto been regarding.
My destiny had been long ago decided. The army had had its share of the
family, who brought little more back with them from the wars than a short
allowance of members and shattered constitutions; the navy had proved, on
more than one occasion, that the fate of the O'Malleys did not incline to
hanging; so that, in Irish estimation, but one alternative remained, and
that was the bar. Besides, as my uncle remarked, with great truth and
foresight, "Charley will be tolerably independent of the public, at all
events; for even if they never send him a brief, there's law enough in the
family to last _his_ time,"--a rather novel reason, by-the-bye, for making
a man a lawyer, and which induced Sir Harry, with his usual clearness, to
observe to me:--
"Upon my conscience, boy, you are in luck. If there had been a Bible in the
house, I firmly believe he'd have made you a parson."
Considine alone, of all my uncle's advisers, did not concur in this
determination respecting me. He set forth, with an eloquence that certainly
converted _me_, that my head was better calculated for bearing hard knocks
than unravelling knotty points, that a shako would become it infinitely
better than a wig; and declared, roundly, that a boy who began so well and
had such very pretty notions about shooting was positively thrown away
in the Four Courts. My uncle, however, was firm, and as old Sir Harry
supported him, the day was decided against us, Considine murmuring as he
left the room something that did not seem quite a brilliant anticipation of
the success awaiting me in my legal career. As for myself, though only a
silent spectator of the debate, all my wishes were with the count. Prom my
earliest boyhood a military life had been my strongest desire; the roll of
the drum, and the shrill fife that played through the little village,
with its ragged troop of recruits following, had charms for me I cannot
describe; and had a choice been allowed me, I would infinitely rather have
been a sergeant in the dragoons than one of his Majesty's learned in the
law. If, then, such had been the cherished feeling of many a year, how much
more strongly were my aspirations heightened by the events of the last few
days. The tone of superiority I had witnessed in Hammersley, whose conduct
to me at parting had placed him high in my esteem; the quiet contempt of
civilians implied in a thousand sly ways; the exalted estimate of his own
profession,--at once wounded my pride and stimulated my ambition; and
lastly, more than all, the avowed preference that Lucy Dashwood evinced for
a military life, were stronger allies than my own conviction needed to make
me long for the army. So completely did the thought possess me that I felt,
if I were not a soldier, I cared not what became of me. Life had no other
object of ambition for me than military renown, no other success for
which I cared to struggle, or would value when obtained. "_Aut Caesar aut
nullus_," thought I; and when my uncle determined I should be a lawyer,
I neither murmured nor objected, but hugged myself in the prophecy of
Considine that hinted pretty broadly, "the devil a stupider fellow ever
opened a brief; but he'd have made a slashing light dragoon."
The preliminaries were not long in arranging. It was settled that I should
be immediately despatched to Dublin to the care of Dr. Mooney, then a
junior fellow in the University, who would take me into his especial
charge; while Sir Harry was to furnish me with a letter to his old friend,
Doctor Barret, whose advice and assistance he estimated at a very high
price. Provided with such documents I was informed that the gates of
knowledge were more than half ajar for me, without an effort upon my
part. One only portion of all the arrangements I heard with anything like
pleasure; it was decided that my man Mickey was to accompany me to Dublin,
and remain with me during my stay.
It was upon a clear, sharp morning in January, of the year 18--, that I
took my place upon the box-seat of the old Galway mail and set out on my
journey. My heart was depressed, and my spirits were miserably low. I had
all that feeling of sadness which leave-taking inspires, and no sustaining
prospect to cheer me in the distance. For the first time in my life, I had
seen a tear glisten in my poor uncle's eye, and heard his voice falter as
he said, "Farewell!" Notwithstanding the difference of age, we had been
perfectly companions together; and as I thought now over all the thousand
kindnesses and affectionate instances of his love I had received, my heart
gave way, and the tears coursed slowly down my cheeks. I turned to give one
last look at the tall chimneys and the old woods, my earliest friends; but
a turn of the road had shut out the prospect, and thus I took my leave of
My friend Mickey, who sat behind with the guard, participated but little in
my feelings of regret. The potatoes in the metropolis could scarcely be as
wet as the lumpers in Scariff; he had heard that whiskey was not dearer,
and looked forward to the other delights of the capital with a longing
heart. Meanwhile, resolved that no portion of his career should be lost, he
was lightening the road by anecdote and song, and held an audience of four
people, a very crusty-looking old guard included, in roars of laughter.
Mike had contrived, with his usual _savoir faire_, to make himself very
agreeable to an extremely pretty-looking country girl, around whose waist
he had most lovingly passed his arm under pretence of keeping her from
falling, and to whom, in the midst of all his attentions to the party at
large, he devoted himself considerably, pressing his suit with all the aid
of his native minstrelsy.
"Hould me tight, Miss Matilda, dear."
"My name's Mary Brady, av ye plase."
"Ay, and I do plase.
'Oh, Mary Brady, you are my darlin',
You are my looking-glass from night till morning;
I'd rayther have ye without one farthen,
Nor Shusey Gallagher and her house and garden.'
May I never av I wouldn't then; and ye needn't be laughing."
"Is his honor at home?"
This speech was addressed to a gaping country fellow that leaned on his
spade to see the coach pass.
"Is his honor at home? I've something for him from Mr. Davern."
Mickey well knew that few western gentlemen were without constant
intercourse with the Athlone attorney. The poor countryman accordingly
hastened through the fence and pursued the coach with all speed for above
a mile, Mike pretending all the time to be in the greatest anxiety for his
overtaking them, until at last, as he stopped in despair, a hearty roar of
laughter told him that, in Mickey's _parlance_, he was "sould."
"Taste it, my dear; devil a harm it'll do ye. It never paid the king
Here he filled a little horn vessel from a black bottle he carried,
accompanying the action with a song, the air to which, if any of my
readers feel disposed to sing it, I may observe, bore a resemblance to the
well-known, "A Fig for Saint Denis of France."
POTTEEN, GOOD LUCK TO YE, DEAR.
Av I was a monarch in state,
Like Romulus or Julius Caysar,
With the best of fine victuals to eat,
And drink like great Nebuchadnezzar,
A rasher of bacon I'd have,
And potatoes the finest was seen, sir,
And for drink, it's no claret I'd crave,
But a keg of ould Mullens's potteen, sir,
With the smell of the smoke on it still.
They talk of the Romans of ould,
Whom they say in their own times was frisky;
But trust me, to keep out the cowld,
The Romans at home here like whiskey.
Sure it warms both the head and the heart,
It's the soul of all readin' and writin';
It teaches both science and art,
And disposes for love or for fightin'.
Oh, potteen, good luck to ye, dear.
This very classic production, and the black bottle which accompanied it,
completely established the singer's pre-eminence in the company; and I
heard sundry sounds resembling drinking, with frequent good wishes to the
provider of the feast,--"Long life to ye, Mr. Free," "Your health and
inclinations, Mr. Free," etc.; to which Mr. Free responded by drinking
those of the company, "av they were vartuous." The amicable relations thus
happily established promised a very lasting reign, and would doubtless have
enjoyed such, had not a slight incident occurred which for a brief season
interrupted them. At the village where we stopped to breakfast, three very
venerable figures presented themselves for places in the inside of the
coach; they were habited in black coats, breeches, and gaiters, wore hats
of a very ecclesiastic breadth in their brim, and had altogether the
peculiar air and bearing which distinguishes their calling, being no less
than three Roman Catholic prelates on their way to Dublin to attend a
convocation. While Mickey and his friends, with the ready tact which every
low Irishman possesses, immediately perceived who and what these worshipful
individuals were, another traveller who had just assumed his place on the
outside participated but little in the feelings of reverence so manifestly
displayed, but gave a sneer of a very ominous kind as the skirt of the
last black coat disappeared within the coach. This latter individual was a
short, thick-set, bandy-legged man of about fifty, with an enormous nose,
which, whatever its habitual coloring, on the morning in question was of a
brilliant purple. He wore a blue coat with bright buttons, upon which some
letters were inscribed; and around his neck was fastened a ribbon of the
same color, to which a medal was attached. This he displayed with something
of ostentation whenever an opportunity occurred, and seemed altogether a
person who possessed a most satisfactory impression of his own importance.
In fact, had not this feeling been participated in by others, Mr. Billy
Crow would never have been deputed by No. 13,476 to carry their warrant
down to the west country, and establish the nucleus of an Orange Lodge in
the town of Foxleigh; such being, in brief, the reason why he, a very well
known manufacturer of "leather continuations" in Dublin, had ventured upon
the perilous journey from which he was now returning. Billy was going on
his way to town rejoicing, for he had had most brilliant success: the
brethren had feasted and fêted him; he had made several splendid orations,
with the usual number of prophecies about the speedy downfall of Romanism,
the inevitable return of Protestant ascendancy, the pleasing prospect that
with increased effort and improved organization they should soon be able
to have everything their own way, and clear the Green Isle of the horrible
vermin Saint Patrick forgot when banishing the others; and that if Daniel
O'Connell (whom might the Lord confound!) could only be hanged, and Sir
Harcourt Lees made Primate of all Ireland, there were still some hopes of
peace and prosperity to the country.
Mr. Crow had no sooner assumed his place upon the coach than he saw that he
was in the camp of the enemy. Happily for all parties, indeed, in Ireland,
political differences have so completely stamped the externals of each
party that he must be a man of small penetration who cannot, in the first
five minutes he is thrown among strangers, calculate with considerable
certainty whether it will be more conducive to his happiness to sing,
"Croppies Lie Down," or "The Battle of Ross." As for Billy Crow, long life
to him! you might as well attempt to pass a turkey upon M. Audubon for a
giraffe, as endeavor to impose a Papist upon him for a true follower of
King William. He could have given you more generic distinctions to guide
you in the decision than ever did Cuvier to designate an antediluvian
mammoth; so that no sooner had he seated himself upon the coach than he
buttoned up his great-coat, stuck his hands firmly in his side-pockets,
pursed up his lips, and looked altogether like a man that, feeling himself
out of his element, resolves to "bide his time" in patience until chance
may throw him among more congenial associates. Mickey Free, who was himself
no mean proficient in reading a character, at one glance saw his man, and
began hammering his brains to see if he could not overreach him. The
small portmanteau which contained Billy's wardrobe bore the conspicuous
announcement of his name; and as Mickey could read, this was one important
step already gained.
He accordingly took the first opportunity of seating himself beside him,
and opened the conversation by some very polite observation upon the
other's wearing apparel, which is always in the west considered a piece of
very courteous attention. By degrees the dialogue prospered, and Mickey
began to make some very important revelations about himself and his master,
intimating that the "state of the country" was such that a man of his way
of thinking had no peace or quiet in it.
"That's him there, forenent ye," said Mickey, "and a better Protestant
never hated Mass. Ye understand."
"What!" said Billy, unbuttoning the collar of his coat to get a fairer view
at his companion; "why, I thought you were--"
Here he made some resemblance of the usual manner of blessing oneself.
"Me, devil a more nor yourself, Mr. Crow."
"Why, do you know me, too?"
"Troth, more knows you than you think."
Billy looked very much puzzled at all this; at last he said,--
"And ye tell me that your master there's the right sort?"
"Thrue blue," said Mike, with a wink, "and so is his uncles."
"And where are they, when they are at home?"
"In Galway, no less; but they're here now."
At these words he gave a knock of his heel to the coach, as if to intimate
"You don't mean in the coach, do ye?"
"To be sure I do; and troth you can't know much of the west, av ye don't
know the three Mr. Trenches of Tallybash!--them's they."
"You don't say so?"
"Faix, but I do."
"May I never drink the 12th of July if I didn't think they were priests."
"Priests!" said Mickey, in a roar of laughter,--"priests!"
"Be-gorra, though, ye had better keep that to yourself; for they're not the
men to have that same said to them."
"Of course I wouldn't offend them," said Mr. Crow; "faith, it's not me
would cast reflections upon such real out-and-outers as they are. And where
are they going now?"
"To Dublin straight; there's to be a grand lodge next week. But sure Mr.
Crow knows better than me."
Billy after this became silent. A moody revery seemed to steal over him;
and he was evidently displeased with himself for his want of tact in not
discovering the three Mr. Trenches of Tallybash, though he only caught
sight of their backs.
Mickey Free interrupted not the frame of mind in which he saw conviction
was slowly working its way, but by gently humming in an undertone the loyal
melody of "Croppies Lie Down," fanned the flame he had so dexterously
kindled. At length they reached the small town of Kinnegad. While the coach
changed horses, Mr. Crow lost not a moment in descending from the top, and
rushing into the little inn, disappeared for a few moments. When he again
issued forth, he carried a smoking tumbler of whiskey punch, which he
continued to stir with a spoon. As he approached the coach-door he tapped
gently with his knuckles; upon which the reverend prelate of Maronia, or
Mesopotamia, I forget which, inquired what he wanted.
"I ask your pardon, gentlemen," said Billy, "but I thought I'd make bold to
ask you to take something warm this cold day."
"Many thanks, my good friend; but we never do," said a bland voice from
"I understand," said Billy, with a sly wink; "but there are circumstances
now and then,--and one might for the honor of the cause, you know. Just put
it to your lips, won't you?"
"Excuse me," said a very rosy-cheeked little prelate, "but nothing stronger
"Botheration," thought Billy, as he regarded the speaker's nose. "But I
thought," said he, aloud, "that you would not refuse this."
Here he made a peculiar manifestation in the air, which, whatever respect
and reverence it might carry to the honest brethren of 13,476, seemed only
to increase the wonder and astonishment of the bishops.
"What does he mean?" said one.
"Is he mad?" said another.
"Tear and ages," said Mr. Crow, getting quite impatient at the slowness of
his friends' perception,--"tear and ages, I'm one of yourselves."
"One of us," said the three in chorus,--"one of us?"
"Ay, to be sure," here he took a long pull at the punch,--"to be sure I am;
here's 'No surrender,' your souls! whoop--" a loud yell accompanying the
toast as he drank it.
"Do you mean to insult us?" said Father P------. "Guard, take the fellow."
"Are we to be outraged in this manner?" chorussed the priests.
"'July the 1st, in Oldbridge town,'" sang Billy, "and here it is, 'The
glorious, pious, and immortal memory of the great and good--'"
"Guard! Where is the guard?"
"'And good King William, that saved us from Popery--'"
"Coachman! Guard!" screamed Father ------.
"Policeman! policeman!" shouted the priests.
"'Brass money and wooden shoes;' devil may care who hears me!" said Billy,
who, supposing that the three Mr. Trenches were skulking the avowal of
their principles, resolved to assert the pre-eminence of the great cause
single-handed and alone.
[Illustration: MR. CROW WELL PLUCKED.]
"'Here's the Pope in the pillory, and the Devil pelting him with priests.'"
At these words a kick from behind apprised the loyal champion that a very
ragged auditory, who for some time past had not well understood the gist of
his eloquence, had at length comprehended enough to be angry. _Ce n'est que
le premier pas qui coûte_, certainly, in an Irish row. "The merest urchin
may light the train; one handful of mud often ignites a shindy that ends in
a most bloody battle."
And here, no sooner did the _vis-a-tergo_ impel Billy forward than a severe
rap of a closed fist in the eye drove him back, and in one instant he
became the centre to a periphery of kicks, cuffs, pullings, and haulings
that left the poor deputy-grand not only orange, but blue.
He fought manfully, but numbers carried the day; and when the coach drove
off, which it did at last without him, the last thing visible to the
outsides was the figure of Mr. Crow,--whose hat, minus the crown, had been
driven over his head down upon his neck, where it remained like a dress
cravat,--buffeting a mob of ragged vagabonds who had so completely
metamorphosed the unfortunate man with mud and bruises that a committee of
the grand lodge might actually have been unable to identify him.
As for Mickey and his friends behind, their mirth knew no bounds; and
except the respectable insides, there was not an individual about the coach
who ceased to think of and laugh at the incident till we arrived in Dublin
and drew up at the Hibernian in Dawson Street.
No sooner had I arrived in Dublin than my first care was to present myself
to Dr. Mooney, by whom I was received in the most cordial manner. In fact,
in my utter ignorance of such persons, I had imagined a college fellow to
be a character necessarily severe and unbending; and as the only two very
great people I had ever seen in my life were the Archbishop of Tuam and the
chief-baron when on circuit, I pictured to myself that a university
fellow was, in all probability, a cross between the two, and feared him
The doctor read over my uncle's letter attentively, invited me to partake
of his breakfast, and then entered upon something like an account of the
life before me; for which Sir Harry Boyle had, however, in some degree
"Your uncle, I find, wishes you to live in college,--perhaps it is better,
too,--so that I must look out for chambers for you. Let me see: it will be
rather difficult, just now, to find them." Here he fell for some moments
into a musing fit, and merely muttered a few broken sentences, as: "To be
sure, if other chambers could be had--but then--and after all, perhaps, as
he is young--besides, Frank will certainly be expelled before long, and
then he will have them all to himself. I say, O'Malley, I believe I must
quarter you for the present with a rather wild companion; but as your uncle
says you're a prudent fellow,"--here he smiled very much, as if my uncle
had not said any such thing,--"why, you must only take the better care of
yourself until we can make some better arrangement. My pupil, Frank Webber,
is at this moment in want of a 'chum,' as the phrase is,--his last three
having only been domesticated with him for as many weeks; so that until we
find you a more quiet resting-place, you may take up your abode with him."
During breakfast, the doctor proceeded to inform me that my destined
companion was a young man of excellent family and good fortune who, with
very considerable talents and acquirements, preferred a life of rackety and
careless dissipation to prospects of great success in public life, which
his connection and family might have secured for him. That he had been
originally entered at Oxford, which he was obliged to leave; then tried
Cambridge, from which he escaped expulsion by being rusticated,--that
is, having incurred a sentence of temporary banishment; and lastly, was
endeavoring, with what he himself believed to be a total reformation, to
stumble on to a degree in the "silent sister."
"This is his third year," said the doctor, "and he is only a freshman,
having lost every examination, with abilities enough to sweep the
university of its prizes. But come over now, and I'll present you to him."
I followed him down-stairs, across the court to an angle of the old square
where, up the first floor left, to use the college direction, stood the
name of Mr. Webber, a large No. 2 being conspicuously painted in the middle
of the door and not over it, as is usually the custom. As we reached the
spot, the observations of my companion were lost to me in the tremendous
noise and uproar that resounded from within. It seemed as if a number of
people were fighting pretty much as a banditti in a melodrama do, with
considerable more of confusion than requisite; a fiddle and a French horn
also lent their assistance to shouts and cries which, to say the best, were
not exactly the aids to study I expected in such a place.
Three times was the bell pulled with a vigor that threatened its downfall,
when at last, as the jingle of it rose above all other noises, suddenly
all became hushed and still; a momentary pause succeeded, and the door was
opened by a very respectable looking servant who, recognizing the doctor,
at once introduced us into the apartment where Mr. Webber was sitting.
In a large and very handsomely furnished room, where Brussels carpeting and
softly cushioned sofas contrasted strangely with the meagre and comfortless
chambers of the doctor, sat a young man at a small breakfast-table beside
the fire. He was attired in a silk dressing-gown and black velvet slippers,
and supported his forehead upon a hand of most lady-like whiteness, whose
fingers were absolutely covered with rings of great beauty and price. His
long silky brown hair fell in rich profusion upon the back of his neck and
over his arm, and the whole air and attitude was one which a painter might
have copied. So intent was he upon the volume before him that he never
raised his head at our approach, but continued to read aloud, totally
unaware of our presence.
"Dr. Mooney, sir," said the servant.
_"Ton dapamey bominos, prosephe, crione Agamemnon"_ repeated the student,
in an ecstasy, and not paying the slightest attention to the announcement.
"Dr. Mooney, sir," repeated the servant, in a louder tone, while the doctor
looked around on every side for an explanation of the late uproar, with a
face of the most puzzled astonishment.
_"Be dakiown para thina dolekoskion enkos"_ said Mr. Webber, finishing a
cup of coffee at a draught.
"Well, Webber, hard at work I see," said the doctor.
"Ah, Doctor, I beg pardon! Have you been long here?" said the most soft and
insinuating voice, while the speaker passed his taper fingers across his
brow, as if to dissipate the traces of deep thought and study.
While the doctor presented me to my future companion, I could perceive, in
the restless and searching look he threw around, that the fracas he had so
lately heard was still an unexplained and _vexata questio_ in his mind.
"May I offer you a cup of coffee, Mr. O'Malley?" said the youth, with an
air of almost timid bashfulness. "The doctor, I know, breakfasts at a very
"I say, Webber," said the doctor, who could no longer restrain his
curiosity, "what an awful row I heard here as I came up to the door. I
thought Bedlam was broke loose. What could it have been?"
"Ah, you heard it too, sir," said Mr. Webber, smiling most benignly.
"Hear it? To be sure I did. O'Malley and I could not hear ourselves talking
with the uproar."
"Yes, indeed, it is very provoking; but then, what's to be done? One can't
complain, under the circumstances."
"Why, what do you mean?" said Mooney, anxiously.
"Nothing, sir; nothing. I'd much rather you'd not ask me; for after all,
I'll change my chambers."
"But why? Explain this at once. I insist upon it."
"Can I depend upon the discretion of your young friend?" said Mr. Webber,
"Perfectly," said the doctor, now wound up to the greatest anxiety to learn
"And you'll promise not to mention the thing except among your friends?"
"I do," said the doctor.
"Well, then," said he, in a low and confident whisper, "it's the dean."
"The dean!" said Mooney, with a start. "The dean! Why, how can it be the
"Too true," said Mr. Webber, making a sign of drinking,--"too true, Doctor.
And then, the moment he is so, he begins smashing the furniture. Never was
anything heard like it. As for me, as I am now become a reading man, I must
Now, it so chanced that the worthy dean, who albeit a man of most
abstemious habits, possessed a nose which, in color and development, was a
most unfortunate witness to call to character, and as Mooney heard Webber
narrate circumstantially the frightful excesses of the great functionary, I
saw that something like conviction was stealing over him.
"You'll, of course, never speak of this except to your most intimate
friends," said Webber.
"Of course not," said the doctor, as he shook his hand warmly, and prepared
to leave the room. "O'Malley, I leave you here," said he; "Webber and you
can talk over your arrangements."
Webber followed the doctor to the door, whispered something in his ear, to
which the other replied, "Very well, I will write; but if your father
sends the money, I must insist--" The rest was lost in protestations and
professions of the most fervent kind, amidst which the door was shut, and
Mr. Webber returned to the room.
Short as was the interspace from the door without to the room within, it
was still ample enough to effect a very thorough and remarkable change in
the whole external appearance of Mr. Frank Webber; for scarcely had the
oaken panel shut out the doctor, when he appeared no longer the shy, timid,
and silvery-toned gentleman of five minutes before, but dashing boldly
forward, he seized a key-bugle that lay hid beneath a sofa-cushion and blew
a tremendous blast.
[Illustration: FRANK WEBBER AT HIS STUDIES.]
"Come forth, ye demons of the lower world," said he, drawing a cloth from
a large table, and discovering the figures of three young men coiled up
beneath. "Come forth, and fear not, most timorous freshmen that ye are,"
said he, unlocking a pantry, and liberating two others. "Gentlemen, let
me introduce to your acquaintance Mr. O'Malley. My chum, gentlemen. Mr.
O'Malley, that is Harry Nesbitt, who has been in college since the days of
old Perpendicular, and numbers more cautions than any man who ever had his
name on the books. Here is my particular friend, Cecil Cavendish, the only
man who could ever devil kidneys. Captain Power, Mr. O'Malley, a dashing
dragoon, as you see; aide-de-camp to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant,
and love-maker-general to Merrion Square West. These," said he, pointing to
the late denizens of the pantry, "are jibs whose names are neither known to
the proctor nor the police-office; but with due regard to their education
and morals, we don't despair."
"By no means," said Power; "but come, let us resume our game." At these
words he took a folio atlas of maps from a small table, and displayed
beneath a pack of cards, dealt as if for whist. The two gentlemen to whom
I was introduced by name returned to their places; the unknown two put on
their boxing gloves, and all resumed the hilarity which Dr. Mooney's advent
had so suddenly interrupted.
"Where's Moore?" said Webber, as he once more seated himself at his
"Making a spatch-cock, sir," said the servant.
At the same instant, a little, dapper, jovial-looking personage appeared
with the dish in question.
"Mr. O'Malley, Mr. Moore, the gentleman who, by repeated remonstrances to
the board, has succeeded in getting eatable food for the inhabitants of
this penitentiary, and has the honored reputation of reforming the commons
"Anything to Godfrey O'Malley, may I ask, sir?" said Moore.
"His nephew," I replied.
"Which of you winged the gentleman the other day for not passing the
decanter, or something of that sort?"
"If you mean the affair with Mr. Bodkin, it was I."
"Glorious, that; begad, I thought you were one of us. I say, Power, it was
he pinked Bodkin."
"Ah, indeed," said Power, not turning his head from his game, "a pretty
shot, I heard,--two by honors,--and hit him fairly,--the odd trick.
Hammersley mentioned the thing to me."
"Oh, is he in town?" said I.
"No; he sailed for Portsmouth yesterday. He is to join the llth--game. I
say, Webber, you've lost the rubber."
"Double or quit, and a dinner at Dunleary," said Webber. "We must show
O'Malley,--confound the Mister!--something of the place."
The whist was resumed; the boxers, now refreshed by a leg of the
spatch-cock, returned to their gloves; Mr. Moore took up his violin; Mr.
Webber his French horn; and I was left the only unemployed man in the
"I say, Power, you'd better bring the drag over here for us; we can all go
"I must inform you," said Cavendish, "that, thanks to your philanthropic
efforts of last night, the passage from Grafton Street to Stephen's
Green is impracticable." A tremendous roar of laughter followed this
announcement; and though at the time the cause was unknown to me, I may as
well mention it here, as I subsequently learned it from my companions.
Among the many peculiar tastes which distinguished Mr. Francis Webber was
an extraordinary fancy for street-begging. He had, over and over, won large
sums upon his success in that difficult walk; and so perfect were his
disguises,--both of dress, voice, and manner,--that he actually at one time
succeeded in obtaining charity from his very opponent in the wager. He
wrote ballads with the greatest facility, and sang them with infinite
pathos and humor; and the old woman at the corner of College Green was
certain of an audience when the severity of the night would leave all other
minstrelsy deserted. As these feats of _jonglerie_ usually terminated in a
row, it was a most amusing part of the transaction to see the singer's part
taken by the mob against the college men, who, growing impatient to carry
him off to supper somewhere, would invariably be obliged to have a fight
for the booty.
Now it chanced that a few evenings before, Mr. Webber was returning with a
pocket well lined with copper from a musical _reunion_ he had held at the
corner of York Street, when the idea struck him to stop at the end of
Grafton Street, where a huge stone grating at that time exhibited--perhaps
it exhibits still--the descent to one of the great main sewers of the city.
The light was shining brightly from a pastrycook's shop, and showed the
large bars of stone between which the muddy water was rushing rapidly down
and plashing in the torrent that ran boisterously several feet beneath.
To stop in the street of any crowded city is, under any circumstances, an
invitation to others to do likewise which is rarely unaccepted; but when
in addition to this you stand fixedly in one spot and regard with stern
intensity any object near you, the chances are ten to one that you have
several companions in your curiosity before a minute expires.
Now, Webber, who had at first stood still without any peculiar thought in
view, no sooner perceived that he was joined by others than the idea of
making something out of it immediately occurred to him.
"What is it, agra?" inquired an old woman, very much in his own style of
dress, pulling at the hood of his cloak. "And can't you see for yourself,
darling?" replied he, sharply, as he knelt down and looked most intensely
at the sewer.
"Are ye long there, avick?" inquired he of an imaginary individual below,
and then waiting as if for a reply, said,
"Two hours! Blessed Virgin, he's two hours in the drain!"
By this time the crowd had reached entirely across the street, and the
crushing and squeezing to get near the important spot was awful.
"Where did he come from?" "Who is he?" "How did he get there?" were
questions on every side; and various surmises were afloat till Webber,
rising from his knees, said, in a mysterious whisper, to those nearest him,
"He's made his escape to-night out o' Newgate by the big drain, and lost
his way; he was looking for the Liffey, and took the wrong turn."
To an Irish mob what appeal could equal this? A culprit at any time has
his claim upon their sympathy; but let him be caught in the very act of
cheating the authorities and evading the law, and his popularity knows
no bounds. Webber knew this well, and as the mob thickened around him
sustained an imaginary conversation that Savage Landor might have envied,
imparting now and then such hints concerning the runaway as raised their
interest to the highest pitch, and fifty different versions were related on
all sides,--of the crime he was guilty of, the sentence that was passed on
him, and the day he was to suffer.
"Do you see the light, dear?" said Webber, as some ingeniously benevolent
individual had lowered down a candle with a string,--"do ye see the light?
Oh, he's fainted, the creature!" A cry of horror burst forth from the crowd
at these words, followed by a universal shout of, "Break open the street."
Pickaxes, shovels, spades, and crowbars seemed absolutely the walking
accompaniments of the crowd, so suddenly did they appear upon the field of
action; and the work of exhumation was begun with a vigor that speedily
covered nearly half of the street with mud and paving-stones. Parties
relieved each other at the task, and ere half an hour a hole capable
of containing a mail-coach was yawning in one of the most frequented
thoroughfares of Dublin. Meanwhile, as no appearance of the culprit could
be had, dreadful conjectures as to his fate began to gain ground. By this
time the authorities had received intimation of what was going forward, and
attempted to disperse the crowd; but Webber, who still continued to conduct
the prosecution, called on them to resist the police and save the poor
creature. And now began a most terrific fray: the stones, forming a ready
weapon, were hurled at the unprepared constables, who on their side fought
manfully, but against superior numbers; so that at last it was only by the
aid of a military force the mob could be dispersed, and a riot which had
assumed a very serious character got under. Meanwhile Webber had reached
his chambers, changed his costume, and was relating over a supper-table the
narrative of his philanthropy to a very admiring circle of his friends.
Such was my chum, Frank Webber; and as this was the first anecdote I had
heard of him, I relate it here that my readers may be in possession of the
grounds upon which my opinion of that celebrated character was founded,
while yet our acquaintance was in its infancy.
Within a few weeks after my arrival in town I had become a matriculated
student of the university, and the possessor of chambers within its walls
in conjunction with the sage and prudent gentleman I have introduced to my
readers in the last chapter. Had my intentions on entering college been of
the most studious and regular kind, the companion into whose society I
was then immediately thrown would have quickly dissipated them. He voted
morning chapels a bore, Greek lectures a humbug, examinations a farce,
and pronounced the statute-book, with its attendant train of fines
and punishment, an "unclean thing." With all my country habits and
predilections fresh upon me, that I was an easily-won disciple to his code
need not be wondered at; and indeed ere many days had passed over, my
thorough indifference to all college rules and regulations had given me a
high place in the esteem of Webber and his friends. As for myself, I was
most agreeably surprised to find that what I had looked forward to as a
very melancholy banishment, was likely to prove a most agreeable sojourn.
Under Webber's directions there was no hour of the day that hung heavily
upon our hands. We rose about eleven and breakfasted, after which succeeded
fencing, sparring, billiards, or tennis in the park; about three, got on
horseback, and either cantered in the Phoenix or about the squares till
visiting time; after which, made our calls, and then dressed for
dinner, which we never thought of taking at commons, but had it from
Morrison's,--we both being reported sick in the dean's list, and thereby
exempt from the routine fare of the fellows' table. In the evening our
occupations became still more pressing; there were balls, suppers, whist
parties, rows at the theatre, shindies in the street, devilled drumsticks
at Hayes's, select oyster parties at the Carlingford,--in fact, every known
method of remaining up all night, and appearing both pale and penitent the
Webber had a large acquaintance in Dublin, and soon made me known to them
all. Among others, the officers of the --th Light Dragoons, in which
regiment Power was captain, were his particular friends; and we had
frequent invitations to dine at their mess. There it was first that
military life presented itself to me in its most attractive possible form,
and heightened the passion I had already so strongly conceived for
the army. Power, above all others, took my fancy. He was a gay,
dashing-looking, handsome fellow of about eight-and-twenty, who had already
seen some service, having joined while his regiment was in Portugal; was in
heart and soul a soldier; and had that species of pride and enthusiasm in
all that regarded a military career that forms no small part of the charm
in the character of a young officer.
I sat near him the second day we dined at the mess, and was much pleased at
many slight attentions in his manner towards me.
"I called on you to-day, Mr. O'Malley," said he, "in company with a friend
who is most anxious to see you."
"Indeed," said I, "I did not hear of it."
"We left no cards, either of us, as we were determined to make you out on
another day; my companion has most urgent reasons for seeing you. I see you
are puzzled," said he; "and although I promised to keep his secret, I must
blab. It was Sir George Dashwood was with me; he told us of your most
romantic adventure in the west,--and faith there is no doubt you saved the
"Was she worth the trouble of it?" said the old major, whose conjugal
experiences imparted a very crusty tone to the question.
"I think," said I, "I need only tell her name to convince you of it."
"Here's a bumper to her," said Power, filling his glass; "and every true
man will follow my example."
When the hip-hipping which followed the toast was over, I found myself
enjoying no small share of the attention of the party as the deliverer of
"Sir George is cudgelling his brain to show his gratitude to you," said
"What a pity, for the sake of his peace of mind, that you're not in the
army," said another; "it's so easy to show a man a delicate regard by a
"A devil of a pity for his own sake, too," said Power, again; "they're
going to make a lawyer of as strapping a fellow as ever carried a
"A lawyer!" cried out half a dozen together, pretty much with the same tone
and emphasis as though he had said a twopenny postman; "the devil they
"Cut the service at once; you'll get no promotion in it," said the colonel;
"a fellow with a black eye like you would look much better at the head of
a squadron than of a string of witnesses. Trust me, you'd shine more in
conducting a picket than a prosecution."
"But if I can't?" said I.
"Then take my plan," said Power, "and make it cut _you_."
"Yours?" said two or three in a breath,--"yours?"
"Ay, mine; did you never know that I was bred to the bar? Come, come, if
it was only for O'Malley's use and benefit, as we say in the parchments, I
must tell you the story."
The claret was pushed briskly round, chairs drawn up to fill any vacant
spaces, and Power began his story.
"As I am not over long-winded, don't be scared at my beginning my
history somewhat far back. I began life that most unlucky of all earthly
contrivances for supplying casualties in case anything may befall the heir
of the house,--a species of domestic jury-mast, only lugged out in a gale
of wind,--a younger son. My brother Tom, a thick-skulled, pudding-headed
dog, that had no taste for anything save his dinner, took it into his wise
head one morning that he would go into the army, and although I had been
originally destined for a soldier, no sooner was his choice made than
all regard for my taste and inclination was forgotten; and as the family
interest was only enough for one, it was decided that I should be put in
what is called a 'learned profession,' and let push my fortune. 'Take
your choice, Dick,' said my father, with a most benign smile,--'take your
choice, boy: will you be a lawyer, a parson, or a doctor?'
"Had he said, 'Will you be put in the stocks, the pillory, or publicly
whipped?' I could not have looked more blank than at the question.
"As a decent Protestant, he should have grudged me to the Church; as a
philanthropist, he might have scrupled at making me a physician; but as he
had lost deeply by law-suits, there looked something very like a lurking
malice in sending me to the bar. Now, so far, I concurred with him; for
having no gift for enduring either sermons or senna, I thought I'd make a
bad administrator of either, and as I was ever regarded in the family as
rather of a shrewd and quick turn, with a very natural taste for roguery, I
began to believe he was right, and that Nature intended me for the circuit.
"From the hour my vocation was pronounced, it had been happy for the family
that they could have got rid of me. A certain ambition to rise in my
profession laid hold on me, and I meditated all day and night how I was to
get on. Every trick, every subtle invention to cheat the enemy that I could
read of, I treasured up carefully, being fully impressed with the notion
that roguery meant law, and equity was only another name for odd and even.
"My days were spent haranguing special juries of housemaids and
laundresses, cross-examining the cook, charging the under-butler, and
passing sentence of death upon the pantry boy, who, I may add, was
invariably hanged when the court rose.
"If the mutton were overdone, or the turkey burned, I drew up an indictment
against old Margaret, and against the kitchen-maid as accomplice, and the
family hungered while I harangued; and, in fact, into such disrepute did I
bring the legal profession, by the score of annoyance of which I made
it the vehicle, that my father got a kind of holy horror of law courts,
judges, and crown solicitors, and absented himself from the assizes the
same year, for which, being a high sheriff, he paid a penalty of five
"The next day I was sent off in disgrace to Dublin to begin my career in
college, and eat the usual quartos and folios of beef and mutton which
qualify a man for the woolsack.
"Years rolled over, in which, after an ineffectual effort to get through
college, the only examination I ever got being a jubilee for the king's
birthday, I was at length called to the Irish bar, and saluted by my
friends as Counsellor Power. The whole thing was so like a joke to me that
it kept me in laughter for three terms; and in fact it was the best thing
could happen me, for I had nothing else to do. The hall of the Four Courts
was a very pleasant lounge; plenty of agreeable fellows that never earned
sixpence or were likely to do so. Then the circuits were so many country
excursions, that supplied fun of one kind or other, but no profit. As for
me, I was what was called a good junior. I knew how to look after the
waiters, to inspect the decanting of the wine and the airing of the claret,
and was always attentive to the father of the circuit,--the crossest old
villain that ever was a king's counsel. These eminent qualities, and my
being able to sing a song in honor of our own bar, were recommendations
enough to make me a favorite, and I was one.
"Now, the reputation I obtained was pleasant enough at first, but I began
to wonder that I never got a brief. Somehow, if it rained civil bills or
declarations, devil a one would fall upon my head; and it seemed as if
the only object I had in life was to accompany the circuit, a kind of
deputy-assistant commissary-general, never expected to come into action.
To be sure, I was not alone in misfortune; there were several promising
youths, who cut great figures in Trinity, in the same predicament, the only
difference being, that they attributed to jealousy what I suspected was
forgetfulness, for I don't think a single attorney in Dublin knew one of
"Two years passed over, and then I walked the hall with a bag filled with
newspapers to look like briefs, and was regularly called by two or three
criers from one court to the other. It never took. Even when I used to
seduce a country friend to visit the courts, and get him into an animated
conversation in a corner between two pillars, devil a one would believe him
to be a client, and I was fairly nonplussed.
"'How is a man ever to distinguish himself in such a walk as this?' was my
eternal question to myself every morning, as I put on my wig. 'My face is
as well known here as Lord Manners's.' Every one says, 'How are you, Dick?'
'How goes it, Power?' But except Holmes, that said one morning as he passed
me, 'Eh, always busy?' no one alludes to the possibility of my having
anything to do.
"'If I could only get a footing,' thought I, 'Lord, how I'd astonish them!
As the song says:--
"Perhaps a recruit
Might chance to shoo
Great General Buonaparté."
So,' said I to myself, 'I'll make these halls ring for it some day or
other, if the occasion ever present itself.' But, faith, it seemed as if
some cunning solicitor overheard me and told his associates, for they
avoided me like a leprosy. The home circuit I had adopted for some time
past, for the very palpable reason that being near town it was least
costly, and it had all the advantages of any other for me in getting me
nothing to do. Well, one morning we were in Philipstown; I was lying awake
in bed, thinking how long it would be before I'd sum up resolution to cut
the bar, where certainly my prospects were not the most cheering, when some
one tapped gently at my door.
"'Come in,' said I.
"The waiter opened gently, and held out his hand with a large roll of paper
tied round with a piece of red tape.
"'Counsellor,' said he, 'handsel.'
"'What do you mean?' said I, jumping out of bed. 'What is it, you villain?'
"'A brief. So I see; but it's for Counsellor Kinshella, below stairs.' That
was the first name written on it.
"'Bethershin,' said he, 'Mr. M'Grath bid me give it to you carefully.'
"By this time I had opened the envelope and read my own name at full length
as junior counsel in the important case of Monaghan _v_. M'Shean, to be
tried in the Record Court at Ballinasloe. 'That will do,' said I, flinging
it on the bed with a careless air, as if it were a very every-day matter
"'But Counsellor, darlin', give us a thrifle to dhrink your health with
your first cause, and the Lord send you plenty of them!'
"'My first,' said I, with a smile of most ineffable compassion at his
simplicity; 'I'm worn out with them. Do you know, Peter, I was thinking
seriously of leaving the bar, when you came into the room? Upon my
conscience, it's in earnest I am.'
"Peter believed me, I think, for I saw him give a very peculiar look as he
pocketed his half-crown and left the room.
"The door was scarcely closed when I gave way to the free transport of my
ecstasy; there it lay at last, the long looked-for, long wished-for object
of all my happiness, and though I well knew that a junior counsel has about
as much to do in the conducting of a case as a rusty handspike has in a
naval engagement, yet I suffered not such thoughts to mar the current of my
happiness. There was my name in conjunction with the two mighty leaders on
the circuit; and though they each pocketed a hundred, I doubt very much if
they received their briefs with one half the satisfaction. My joy at length
a little subdued, I opened the roll of paper and began carefully to peruse
about fifty pages of narrative regarding a watercourse that once had turned
a mill; but, from some reasons doubtless known to itself or its friends,
would do so no longer, and thus set two respectable neighbors at
loggerheads, and involved them in a record that had been now heard three
"Quite forgetting the subordinate part I was destined to fill, I opened
the case in a most flowery oration, in which I descanted upon the benefits
accruing to mankind from water-communication since the days of Noah;
remarking upon the antiquity of mills, and especially of millers, and
consumed half an hour in a preamble of generalities that I hoped would make
a very considerable impression upon the court. Just at the critical moment
when I was about to enter more particularly into the case, three or four
of the great unbriefed came rattling into my room, and broke in upon the
"'I say, Power,' said one, 'come and have an hour's skating on the canal;
the courts are filled, and we sha'n't be missed.'
"'Skate, my dear friend,' said I, in a most dolorous tone, 'out of the
question; see, I am chained to a devilish knotty case with Kinshella and
"'Confound your humbugging,' said another, 'that may do very well in Dublin
for the attorneys, but not with us.'
"'I don't well understand you,' I replied; 'there is the brief. Hennesy
expects me to report upon it this evening, and I am so hurried.'
"Here a very chorus of laughing broke forth, in which, after several vain
efforts to resist, I was forced to join, and kept it up with the others.
"When our mirth was over, my friends scrutinized the red-tape-tied packet,
and pronounced it a real brief, with a degree of surprise that certainly
augured little for their familiarity with such objects of natural history.
"When they had left the room, I leisurely examined the all-important
document, spreading it out before me upon the table, and surveying it as
a newly-anointed sovereign might be supposed to contemplate a map of his
"'At last,' said I to myself,--'at last, and here is the footstep to the
woolsack.' For more than an hour I sat motionless, my eyes fixed upon
the outspread paper, lost in a very maze of revery. The ambition which
disappointments had crushed, and delay had chilled, came suddenly back, and
all my day-dreams of legal success, my cherished aspirations after silk
gowns and patents of precedence, rushed once more upon me, and I was
resolved to do or die. Alas, a very little reflection showed me that the
latter was perfectly practicable; but that, as a junior counsel, five
minutes of very common-place recitation was all my province, and with the
main business of the day I had about as much to do as the call-boy of a
playhouse has with the success of a tragedy.
"'My Lord, this is an action brought by Timothy Higgin,' etc., and down I
go, no more to be remembered and thought of than if I had never existed.
How different it would be if I were the leader! Zounds, how I would worry
the witnesses, browbeat the evidence, cajole the jury, and soften the
judges! If the Lord were, in His mercy, to remove old Mills and Kinshella
before Tuesday, who knows but my fortune might be made? This supposition
once started, set me speculating upon all the possible chances that might
cut off two king's counsel in three days, and left me fairly convinced that
my own elevation was certain, were they only removed from my path.
"For two whole days the thought never left my mind; and on the evening of
the second day, I sat moodily over my pint of port, in the Clonbrock Arms,
with my friend Timothy Casey, Captain in the North Cork Militia, for my
"'Dick,' said Tim, 'take off your wine, man. When does this confounded
trial come on?'
"'To-morrow,' said I, with a deep groan.
"'Well, well, and if it does, what matter?' he said; 'you'll do well
enough, never be afraid.'
"'Alas!' said I, 'you don't understand the cause of my depression.' I here
entered upon an account of my sorrows, which lasted for above an hour, and
only concluded just as a tremendous noise in the street without announced
an arrival. For several minutes such was the excitement in the house, such
running hither and thither, such confusion, and such hubbub, that we could
not make out who had arrived.
"At last a door opened quite near us, and we saw the waiter assisting a
very portly-looking gentleman off with his great-coat, assuring him the
while that if he would only walk into the coffee-room for ten minutes, the
fire in his apartment should be got ready. The stranger accordingly entered
and seated himself at the fireplace, having never noticed that Casey and
myself, the only persons there, were in the room.
"'I say, Phil, who is he?' inquired Casey of the waiter.
"'Counsellor Mills, Captain,' said the waiter, and left the room.
"'That's your friend,' said Casey.
"'I see,' said I; 'and I wish with all my heart he was at home with his
pretty wife, in Leeson Street.'
"'Is she good-looking?' inquired Tim.
"'Devil a better,' said I; 'and he's as jealous as old Nick.'
"'Hem,' said Tim, 'mind your cue, and I'll give him a start.' Here he
suddenly changed his whispering tone for one in a louder key, and resumed:
'I say, Power, it will make some work for you lawyers. But who can she be?
that's the question.' Here he took a much crumpled letter from his pocket,
and pretended to read: '"A great sensation was created in the neighborhood
of Merrion Square, yesterday, by the sudden disappearance from her house of
the handsome Mrs. ------." Confound it!--what's the name? What a hand he
writes! Hill, or Miles, or something like that,--"the lady of an eminent
barrister, now on circuit. The gay Lothario is, they say, the Hon. George
------."' I was so thunderstruck at the rashness of the stroke, I could say
nothing; while the old gentleman started as if he had sat down on a pin.
Casey, meanwhile, went on.
"'Hell and fury!' said the king's counsel, rushing over, 'what is it you're
"'You appear warm, old gentleman,' said Casey, putting up the letter and
rising from the table.
"'Show me that letter!--show me that infernal letter, sir, this instant!'
"'Show you my letter,' said Casey; 'cool, that, anyhow. You are certainly a
"'Do you know me, sir? Answer me that,' said the lawyer, bursting with
"'Not at present,' said Tim, quietly; 'but I hope to do so in the morning
in explanation of your language and conduct.' A tremendous ringing of the
bell here summoned the waiter to the room.
"'Who is that--' inquired the lawyer. The epithet he judged it safe to
leave unsaid, as he pointed to my friend Casey.
"'Captain Casey, sir, the commanding officer here.'
"'Just so,' said Casey. 'And very much, at your service any hour after five
in the morning.'
"'Then you refuse, sir, to explain the paragraph I have just heard you
"'Well done, old gentleman; so you have been listening to a private
conversation I held with my friend here. In that case we had better retire
to our room.' So saying, he ordered the waiter to send a fresh bottle
and glasses to No. 14, and taking my arm, very politely wished Mr. Mills
good-night, and left the coffee-room.
"Before we had reached the top of the stairs the house was once more in
commotion. The new arrival had ordered out fresh horses, and was hurrying
every one in his impatience to get away. In ten minutes the chaise rolled
off from the door; and Casey, putting his head out of the window, wished
him a pleasant journey; while turning to me, he said,--
"'There's one of them out of the way for you, if we are even obliged to
fight the other.'
"The port was soon despatched, and with it went all the scruples of
conscience I had at first felt for the cruel _ruse_ we had just practised.
Scarcely was the other bottle called for when we heard the landlord calling
out in a stentorian voice,--
"'Two horses for Goran Bridge to meet Counsellor Kinshella.'
"'That's the other fellow?' said Casey.
"'It is,' said I.
"'Then we must be stirring,' said he. 'Waiter, chaise and pair in five
minutes,--d'ye hear? Power, my boy, I don't want you; stay here and study
your brief. It's little trouble Counsellor Kinshella will give you in the
"All he would tell me of his plans was that he didn't mean any serious
bodily harm to the counsellor, but that certainly he was not likely to be
heard of for twenty-four hours.
"'Meanwhile, Power, go in and win, my boy,' said he; 'such another walk
over may never occur.'
"I must not make my story longer. The next morning the great record of
Monaghan _v_. M'Shean was called on; and as the senior counsel were not
present, the attorney wished a postponement. I, however, was firm; told
the court I was quite prepared, and with such an air of assurance that I
actually puzzled the attorney. The case was accordingly opened by me in a
very brilliant speech, and the witnesses called; but such was my unlucky
ignorance of the whole matter that I actually broke down the testimony of
our own, and fought like a Trojan, for the credit and character of the
perjurers against us! The judge rubbed his eyes; the jury looked amazed;
and the whole bar laughed outright. However, on I went, blundering,
floundering, and foundering at every step; and at half-past four, amidst
the greatest and most uproarious mirth of the whole court, heard the jury
deliver a verdict against us, just as old Kinshella rushed into the court
covered with mud and spattered with clay. He had been sent for twenty miles
to make a will for Mr. Daly, of Daly's Mount, who was supposed to be at
the point of death, but who, on his arrival, threatened to shoot him for
causing an alarm to his family by such an imputation.
"The rest is soon told. They moved for a new trial, and I moved out of the
profession. I cut the bar, for it cut me. I joined the gallant 14th as a
volunteer; and here I am without a single regret, I must confess, that I
didn't succeed in the great record of Monaghan _v_. M'Shean."
Once more the claret went briskly round, and while we canvassed Power's
story, many an anecdote of military life was told, as every instant
increased the charm of that career I longed for.
"Another cooper, Major," said Power.
"With all my heart," said the rosy little officer, as he touched the bell
behind him; "and now let's have a song."
"Yes, Power," said three or four together; "let us have 'The Irish
Dragoon,' if it's only to convert your friend O'Malley there."
"Here goes, then," said Dick, taking off a bumper as he began the following
chant to the air of "Love is the Soul of a gay Irishman":--
THE IRISH DRAGOON.
Oh, love is the soul of an Irish dragoon
In battle, in bivouac, or in saloon,
From the tip of his spur to his bright sabretasche.
With his soldierly gait and his bearing so high,
His gay laughing look and his light speaking eye,
He frowns at his rival, he ogles his wench,
He springs in his saddle and _chasses_ the French,
With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.
His spirits are high, and he little knows care,
Whether sipping his claret or charging a square,
With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.
As ready to sing or to skirmish he's found,
To take off his wine or to take up his ground;
When the bugle may call him, how little he fears
To charge forth in column and beat the Mounseers,
With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.
When the battle is over, he gayly rides back
To cheer every soul in the night bivouac,
With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.
Oh, there you may see him in full glory crowned,
As he sits 'midst his friends on the hardly won ground,
And hear with what feeling the toast he will give,
As he drinks to the land where all Irishmen live,
With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.
It was late when we broke up; but among all the recollections of that
pleasant evening none clung to me so forcibly, none sank so deeply in my
heart, as the gay and careless tone of Power's manly voice; and as I fell
asleep towards morning, the words of "The Irish Dragoon" were floating
through my mind and followed me in my dreams.
I had now been for some weeks a resident within the walls of the
university, and yet had never presented my letter of introduction to Dr.
Barret. Somehow, my thoughts and occupations had left me little leisure to
reflect upon my college course, and I had not felt the necessity suggested
by my friend Sir Harry, of having a supporter in the very learned and
gifted individual to whom I was accredited. How long I might have continued
in this state of indifference it is hard to say, when chance brought about
my acquaintance with the doctor.
Were I not inditing a true history in this narrative of my life, to the
events and characters of which so many are living witnesses, I should
certainly fear to attempt anything like a description of this very
remarkable man; so liable would any sketch, however faint and imperfect, be
to the accusation of caricature, when all was so singular and so eccentric.
Dr. Barret was, at the time I speak of, close upon seventy years of age,
scarcely five feet in height, and even that diminutive stature lessened
by a stoop. His face was thin, pointed, and russet-colored; his nose so
aquiline as nearly to meet his projecting chin, and his small gray eyes,
red and bleary, peered beneath his well-worn cap with a glance of mingled
fear and suspicion. His dress was a suit of the rustiest black, threadbare,
and patched in several places, while a pair of large brown leather
slippers, far too big for his feet, imparted a sliding motion to his walk
that added an air of indescribable meanness to his appearance; a gown that
had been worn for twenty years, browned and coated with the learned dust of
the _Fagel_, covered his rusty habiliments, and completed the equipments of
a figure that it was somewhat difficult for the young student to recognize
as the vice-provost of the university. Such was he in externals. Within, a
greater or more profound scholar never graced the walls of the college;
a distinguished Grecian, learned in all the refinements of a hundred
dialects; a deep Orientalist, cunning in all the varieties of Eastern
languages, and able to reason with a Moonshee, or chat with a Persian
ambassador. With a mind that never ceased acquiring, he possessed a memory
ridiculous for its retentiveness, even of trifles; no character in history,
no event in chronology was unknown to him, and he was referred to by his
contemporaries for information in doubtful and disputed cases, as men
consult a lexicon or dictionary. With an intellect thus stored with deep
and far-sought knowledge, in the affairs of the world he was a child.
Without the walls of the college, for above forty years, he had not
ventured half as many times, and knew absolutely nothing of the busy,
active world that fussed and fumed so near him; his farthest excursion was
to the Bank of Ireland, to which he made occasional visits to fund the
ample income of his office, and add to the wealth which already had
acquired for him a well-merited repute of being the richest man in college.
His little intercourse with the world had left him, in all his habits and
manners, in every respect exactly as when he entered college nearly half
a century before; and as he had literally risen from the ranks in the
university, all the peculiarities of voice, accent, and pronunciation which
distinguished him as a youth, adhered to him in old age. This was singular
enough, and formed a very ludicrous contrast with the learned and deep-read
tone of his conversation; but another peculiarity, still more striking,
belonged to him. When he became a fellow, he was obliged, by the rules of
the college, to take holy orders as a _sine qua non_ to his holding his
fellowship. This he did, as he would have assumed a red hood or blue one,
as bachelor of laws or doctor of medicine, and thought no more of it;
but frequently, in his moments of passionate excitement, the venerable
character with which he was invested was quite forgotten, and he would
utter some sudden and terrific oath, more productive of mirth to his
auditors than was seemly, and for which, once spoken, the poor doctor felt
the greatest shame and contrition. These oaths were no less singular than
forcible; and many a trick was practised, and many a plan devised, that the
learned vice-provost might be entrapped into his favorite exclamation of,
"May the devil admire me!" which no place or presence could restrain.
My servant, Mike, who had not been long in making himself acquainted with
all the originals about him, was the cause of my first meeting the doctor,
before whom I received a summons to appear on the very serious charge of
treating with disrespect the heads of the college.
The circumstances were shortly these: Mike had, among the other gossip of
the place, heard frequent tales of the immense wealth and great parsimony
of the doctor, and of his anxiety to amass money on all occasions, and the
avidity with which even the smallest trifle was added to his gains. He
accordingly resolved to amuse himself at the expense of this trait, and
proceeded thus. Boring a hole in a halfpenny, he attached a long string to
it, and having dropped it on the doctor's step stationed himself on the
opposite side of the court, concealed from view by the angle of the
Commons' wall. He waited patiently for the chapel bell, at the first toll
of which the door opened, and the doctor issued forth. Scarcely was his
foot upon the step, when he saw the piece of money, and as quickly stooped
to seize it; but just as his finger had nearly touched it, it evaded his
grasp and slowly retreated. He tried again, but with the like success. At
last, thinking he had miscalculated the distance, he knelt leisurely down,
and put forth his hand, but lo! it again escaped him; on which, slowly
rising from his posture, he shambled on towards the chapel, where, meeting
the senior lecturer at the door, he cried out, "H------ to my soul, Wall,
but I saw the halfpenny walk away!"
For the sake of the grave character whom he addressed, I need not recount
how such a speech was received; suffice it to say, that Mike had been seen
by a college porter, who reported him as my servant.
I was in the very act of relating the anecdote to a large party at
breakfast in my rooms, when a summons arrived, requiring my immediate
attendance at the board, then sitting in solemn conclave at the examination
I accordingly assumed my academic costume as speedily as possible, and
escorted by that most august functionary, Mr. M'Alister, presented myself
before the seniors.
The members of the board, with the provost at their head, were seated at a
long oak table covered with books, papers, etc., and from the silence they
maintained as I walked up the hall, I augured that a very solemn scene was
"Mr. O'Malley," said the dean, reading my name from a paper he held in his
hand, "you have been summoned here at the desire of the vice-provost, whose
questions you will reply to."
I bowed. A silence of a few minutes followed, when, at length, the learned
doctor, hitching up his nether garments with both hands, put his old and
bleary eyes close to my face, while he croaked out, with an accent that no
hackney-coachman could have exceeded in vulgarity,--
"Eh, O'Malley, you're _quartus_, I believe; a'n't you?"
"I believe not. I think I am the only person of that name now on the
"That's thrue; but there were three O'Malleys before you. Godfrey O'Malley,
that construed _Calve Neroni_ to Nero the Calvinist,--ha! ha! ha!--was
cautioned in 1788."
"My uncle, I believe, sir."
"More than likely, from what I hear of you,--_Ex uno_, etc. I see your name
every day on the punishment roll. Late hours, never at chapel, seldom at
morning lecture. Here ye are, sixteen shillings, wearing a red coat."
"Never knew any harm in that, Doctor."
"Ay, but d'ye see me, now? 'Grave raiment,' says the statute. And then, ye
keep numerous beasts of prey, dangerous in their habits, and unseemly to
"A bull terrier, sir, and two game-cocks, are, I assure you, the only
animals in my household."
"Well. I'll fine you for it."
"I believe, Doctor," said the dean, interrupting in an undertone, "that you
cannot impose a penalty in this matter."
"Ay, but I can. 'Singing-birds,' says the statute, 'are forbidden within
"And then, ye dazzled my eyes at Commons with a bit of looking-glass, on
Friday. I saw you. May the devil!--ahem! As I was saying, that's casting
_reflections_ on the heads of the college; and your servant it was,
_Michaelis Liber_, Mickey Free,--may the flames of!--ahem!--an insolent
varlet! called me a sweep."
"You, Doctor; impossible!" said I, with pretended horror.
"Ay, but d'ye see me, now? It's thrue, for I looked about me at the time,
and there wasn't another sweep in the place but myself. Hell to!--I
mean--God forgive me for swearing! but I'll fine you a pound for this."
As I saw the doctor was getting on at such a pace, I resolved,
notwithstanding the august presence of the board, to try the efficacy of
Sir Harry's letter of introduction, which I had taken in my pocket in the
event of its being wanted.
"I beg your pardon, sir, if the time be an unsuitable one; but may I take
the opportunity of presenting this letter to you?"
"Ha! I know the hand--Boyle's. _Boyle secundus_. Hem, ha, ay! 'My young
friend; and assist him by your advice.' To be sure! Oh, of course. Eh, tell
me, young man, did Boyle say nothing to you about the copy of Erasmus,
bound in vellum, that I sold him in Trinity term, 1782?"
"I rather think not, sir," said I, doubtfully.
"Well, then, he might. He owes me two-and-fourpence of the balance."
"Oh, I beg pardon, sir; I now remember he desired me to repay you that sum;
but he had just sealed the letter when he recollected it."
"Better late than never," said the doctor, smiling graciously. "Where's the
money? Ay! half-a-crown. I haven't twopence--never mind. Go away, young
man; the case is dismissed. _Vehementer miror quare hue venisti_. You're
more fit for anything than a college life. Keep good hours; mind the terms;
and dismiss _Michaelis Liber_. Ha, ha, ha! May the devil!--hem!--that is
do--" So saying, the little doctor's hand pushed me from the hall, his mind
evidently relieved of all the griefs from which he had been suffering, by
the recovery of his long-lost two-and-four-pence.
Such was my first and last interview with the vice-provost, and it made an
impression upon me that all the intervening years have neither dimmed nor
TRINITY COLLEGE.--A LECTURE.
I had not been many weeks a resident of Old Trinity ere the flattering
reputation my chum, Mr. Francis Webber, had acquired, extended also to
myself; and by universal consent, we were acknowledged the most riotous,
ill-conducted, disorderly men on the books of the university. Were the
lamps of the squares extinguished, and the college left in total darkness,
we were summoned before the dean; was the vice-provost serenaded with
a chorus of trombones and French horns, to our taste in music was the
attention ascribed; did a sudden alarm of fire disturb the congregation
at morning chapel, Messrs. Webber and O'Malley were brought before the
board,--and I must do them the justice to say that the most trifling
circumstantial evidence was ever sufficient to bring a conviction. Reading
men avoided the building where we resided as they would have done the
plague. Our doors, like those of a certain classic precinct commemorated by
a Latin writer, lay open night and day, while mustached dragoons, knowingly
dressed four-in-hand men, fox-hunters in pink, issuing forth to the
Dubber or returning splashed from a run with the Kildare hounds, were
everlastingly seen passing and repassing. Within, the noise and confusion
resembled rather the mess-room of a regiment towards eleven at night
than the chambers of a college student; while, with the double object of
affecting to be in ill-health, and to avoid the reflections that daylight
occasionally inspires, the shutters were never opened, but lamps and
candles kept always burning. Such was No. 2, Old Square, in the goodly days
I write of. All the terrors of fines and punishments fell scathless on the
head of my worthy chum. In fact, like a well-known political character,
whose pleasure and amusement it has been for some years past to drive
through acts of Parliament and deride the powers of the law, so did Mr.
Webber tread his way, serpenting through the statute-book, ever grazing,
but rarely trespassing upon some forbidden ground which might involve the
great punishment of expulsion. So expert, too, had he become in his special
pleadings, so dexterous in the law of the university, that it was no easy
matter to bring crime home to him; and even when this was done, his pleas
of mitigation rarely failed of success.
There was a sweetness of demeanor, a mild, subdued tone about him, that
constantly puzzled the worthy heads of the college how the accusations
ever brought against him could be founded on truth; that the pale,
delicate-looking student, whose harsh, hacking cough terrified the hearers,
could be the boisterous performer upon a key-bugle, or the terrific
assailant of watchmen, was something too absurd for belief. And when Mr.
Webber, with his hand upon his heart, and in his most dulcet accents,
assured them that the hours he was not engaged in reading for the medal
were passed in the soothing society of a few select and intimate friends
of literary tastes and refined minds, who, knowing the delicacy of his
health,--here he would cough,--were kind enough to sit up with him for an
hour or so in the evening, the delusion was perfect; and the story of the
dean's riotous habits having got abroad, the charge was usually suppressed.
Like most idle men, Webber never had a moment to spare. Except read, there
was nothing he did not do; training a hack for a race in the Phoenix,
arranging a rowing-match, getting up a mock duel between two white-feather
acquaintances, were his almost daily avocations. Besides that, he was at
the head of many organized societies, instituted for various benevolent
purposes. One was called "The Association for Discountenancing Watchmen;"
another, "The Board of Works," whose object was principally devoted to the
embellishment of the university, in which, to do them justice, their labors
were unceasing, and what with the assistance of some black paint, a ladder,
and a few pounds of gunpowder, they certainly contrived to effect many
important changes. Upon an examination morning, some hundred luckless
"jibs" might be seen perambulating the courts, in the vain effort to
discover their tutors' chambers, the names having undergone an alteration
that left all trace of their original proprietors unattainable: Doctor
Francis Mooney having become Doctor Full Moon; Doctor Hare being, by the
change of two letters, Doctor Ape; Romney Robinson, Romulus and Remus, etc.
While, upon occasions like these, there could be but little doubt of Master
Frank's intentions, upon many others, so subtle were his inventions, so
well-contrived his plots, it became a matter of considerable difficulty to
say whether the mishap which befell some luckless acquaintance were the
result of design or mere accident; and not unfrequently well-disposed
individuals were found condoling with "Poor Frank" upon his ignorance of
some college rule or etiquette, his breach of which had been long and
deliberately planned. Of this latter description was a circumstance which
occurred about this time, and which some who may throw an eye over these
pages will perhaps remember.
The dean, having heard (and, indeed, the preparations were not intended to
secure secrecy) that Webber destined to entertain a party of his friends
at dinner on a certain day, sent a peremptory order for his appearance at
Commons, his name being erased from the sick list, and a pretty strong hint
conveyed to him that any evasion upon his part would be certainly followed
by an inquiry into the real reasons for his absence. What was to be done?
That was the very day he had destined for his dinner. To be sure, the
majority of his guests were college men, who would understand the
difficulty at once; but still there were some others, officers of the 14th,
with whom he was constantly dining, and whom he could not so easily
put off. The affair was difficult, but still Webber was the man for a
difficulty; in fact, he rather liked one. A very brief consideration
accordingly sufficed, and he sat down and wrote to his friends at the Royal
DEAR POWER,--I have a better plan for Tuesday than that I
had proposed. Lunch here at three (we'll call it dinner), in the hall
with the great guns. I can't say much for the grub; but the
After that we'll start for Lucan in the drag; take
our coffee, strawberries, etc., and return to No. 2 for supper at ten.
Advertise your fellows of this change, and believe me,
Most unchangeably yours, FRANK WEBBER.
Accordingly, as three o'clock struck, six dashing-looking light dragoons
were seen slowly sauntering up the middle of the dining-hall, escorted
by Webber, who, in full academic costume, was leisurely ciceroning his
friends, and expatiating upon the excellences of the very remarkable
portraits which graced the walls.
The porters looked on with some surprise at the singular hour selected
for sight-seeing; but what was their astonishment to find that the party,
having arrived at the end of the hall, instead of turning back again, very
composedly unbuckled their belts, and having disposed of their sabres in a
corner, took their places at the Fellows' table, and sat down amidst the
collective wisdom of Greek lecturers and Regius professors, as though they
had been mere mortals like themselves.
Scarcely was the long Latin grace concluded, when Webber, leaning forward,
enjoined his friends, in a very audible whisper, that if they intended to
dine no time was to be lost.
"We have but little ceremony here, gentlemen, and all we ask is a fair
start," said he, as he drew over the soup, and proceeded to help himself.
The advice was not thrown away; for each man, with an alacrity a campaign
usually teaches, made himself master of some neighboring dish, a very quick
interchange of good things speedily following the appropriation. It was
in vain that the senior lecturer looked aghast, that the professor of
astronomy frowned. The whole table, indeed, were thunderstruck, even to the
poor vice-provost himself, who, albeit given to the comforts of the table,
could not lift a morsel to his mouth, but muttered between his teeth, "May
the devil admire me, but they're dragoons!" The first shock of surprise
over, the porters proceeded to inform them that except Fellows of the
University or Fellow-commoners, none were admitted to the table. Webber
however assured them that it was a mistake, there being nothing in the
statute to exclude the 14th Light Dragoons, as he was prepared to prove.
Meanwhile dinner proceeded, Power and his party performing with great
self-satisfaction upon the sirloins and saddles about them, regretting
only, from time to time, that there was a most unaccountable absence of
wine, and suggesting the propriety of napkins whenever they should dine
there again. Whatever chagrin these unexpected guests caused among their
entertainers of the upper table, in the lower part of the hall the laughter
was loud and unceasing; and long before the hour concluded, the Fellows
took their departure, leaving to Master Frank Webber the task of doing the
honors alone and unassisted. When summoned before the board for the offence
on the following morning, Webber excused himself by throwing the blame upon
his friends, with whom, he said, nothing short of a personal quarrel--a
thing for a reading man not to be thought of--could have prevented
intruding in the manner related. Nothing less than _his_ tact could have
saved him on this occasion, and at last he carried the day; while by an
act of the board the 14th Light Dragoons were pronounced the most insolent
corps in the service.
An adventure of his, however, got wind about this time, and served to
enlighten many persons as to his real character, who had hitherto been most
lenient in their expressions about him. Our worthy tutor, with a zeal for
our welfare far more praiseworthy than successful, was in the habit of
summoning to his chambers, on certain mornings of the week, his various
pupils, whom he lectured in the books for the approaching examinations.
Now, as these séances were held at six o'clock in winter as well as summer,
in a cold fireless chamber,--the lecturer lying snug amidst his blankets,
while we stood shivering around the walls,--the ardor of learning must
indeed have proved strong that prompted a regular attendance. As to Frank,
he would have as soon thought of attending chapel as of presenting himself
on such an occasion. Not so with me. I had not yet grown hackneyed enough
to fly in the face of authority, and I frequently left the whist-table, or
broke off in a song, to hurry over to the doctor's chambers and spout Homer
and Hesiod. I suffered on in patience, till at last the bore became so
insupportable that I told my sorrows to my friend, who listened to me out,
and promised me succor.
It so chanced that upon some evening in each week Dr. Mooney was in the
habit of visiting some friends who resided a short distance from town,
and spending the night at their house. He, of course, did not lecture the
following morning,--a paper placard, announcing no lecture, being affixed
to the door on such occasions. Frank waited patiently till he perceived the
doctor affixing this announcement upon his door one evening; and no sooner
had he left the college than he withdrew the paper and departed.
On the next morning he rose early, and concealing himself on the staircase,
waited the arrival of the venerable damsel who acted as servant to the
doctor. No sooner had she opened the door and groped her way into the
sitting-room than Frank crept forward, and stealing gently into the
bedroom, sprang into the bed and wrapped himself up in the blankets. The
great bell boomed forth at six o'clock, and soon after the sounds of the
feet were heard upon the stairs. One by one they came along, and gradually
the room was filled with cold and shivering wretches, more than half
asleep, and trying to arouse themselves into an approach to attention.
"Who's there?" said Frank, mimicking the doctor's voice, as he yawned three
or four times in succession and turned in the bed.
"Collisson, O'Malley, Nesbitt," etc., said a number of voices, anxious to
have all the merit such a penance could confer.
"Absent, sir," chorussed the whole party.
"Sorry for it," said the mock doctor. "Webber is a man of first-rate
capacity; and were he only to apply, I am not certain to what eminence his
abilities might raise him. Come, Collisson, any three angles of a triangle
are equal to--are equal to--what are they equal to?" Here he yawned as
though he would dislocate his jaw.
"Any three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles," said
Collisson, in the usual sing-song tone of a freshman.
As he proceeded to prove the proposition, his monotonous tone seemed to
have lulled the doctor into a doze, for in a few minutes a deep, long-drawn
snore announced from the closed curtains that he listened no longer. After
a little time, however, a short snort from the sleeper awoke him suddenly,
and he called out, "Go on, I'm waiting. Do you think I can arouse at this
hour of the morning for nothing but to listen to your bungling? Can no one
give me a free translation of the passage?"
This digression from mathematics to classics did not surprise the hearers,
though it somewhat confused them, no one being precisely aware what the
line in question might be.
"Try it, Nesbitt,--you, O'Malley. Silent all? Really this is too bad!" An
indistinct muttering here from the crowd was followed by an announcement
from the doctor that the speaker was an ass, and his head a turnip! "Not
one of you capable of translating a chorus from Euripides,--'Ou, ou, papai,
papai,' etc.; which, after all, means no more than, 'Oh, whilleleu, murder,
why did you die!' etc. What are you laughing at, gentlemen? May I ask, does
it become a set of ignorant, ill-informed savages--yes, savages, I repeat
the word--to behave in this manner? Webber is the only man I have with
common intellect,--the only man among you capable of distinguishing
himself. But as for you, I'll bring you before the board; I'll write to
your friends; I'll stop your college indulgences; I'll confine you to the
walls; I'll be damned, eh--"
This lapse confused him. He stammered, stuttered, endeavored to recover
himself; but by this time we had approached the bed, just at the moment
when Master Frank, well knowing what he might expect if detected, had
bolted from the blankets and rushed from the room. In an instant we were in
pursuit; but he regained his chambers, and double-locked the door before we
could overtake him, leaving us to ponder over the insolent tirade we had so
patiently submitted to.
That morning the affair got wind all over college. As for us, we were
scarcely so much laughed at as the doctor; the world wisely remembering,
if such were the nature of our morning's orisons, we might nearly as
profitably have remained snug in our quarters.
Such was our life in Old Trinity; and strange enough it is that one should
feel tempted to the confession, but I really must acknowledge these were,
after all, happy times, and I look back upon them with mingled pleasure and
sadness. The noble lord who so pathetically lamented that the devil was not
so strong in him as he used to be forty years before, has an echo in my
regrets that the student is not as young in me as when these scenes were
enacting of which I write.
THE INVITATION.--THE WAGER.
I was sitting at breakfast with Webber, a few mornings after the mess
dinner I have spoken of, when Power came in hastily.
"Ha, the very man!" said he. "I say, O'Malley, here's an invitation for you
from Sir George, to dine on Friday. He desired me to say a thousand civil
things about his not having made you out, regrets that he was not at home
when you called yesterday, and all that. By Jove, I know nothing like the
favor you stand in; and as for Miss Dashwood, faith! the fair Lucy blushed,
and tore her glove in most approved style, when the old general began his
laudation of you."
"Pooh, nonsense," said I; "that silly affair in the west."
"Oh, very probably; there's reason the less for you looking so excessively
conscious. But I must tell you, in all fairness, that you have no chance;
nothing short of a dragoon will go down."
"Be assured," said I, somewhat nettled, "my pretensions do not aspire to
the fair Miss Dashwood."
"_Tant mieux et tant pis, mon cher_. I wish to Heaven mine did; and, by
Saint Patrick, if I only played the knight-errant half as gallantly
as yourself, I would not relinquish my claims to the Secretary at War
"What the devil brought the old general down to your wild regions?"
"To contest the county."
"A bright thought, truly. When a man was looking for a seat, why not try a
place where the law is occasionally heard of?"
"I'm sure I can give you no information on that head; nor have I ever heard
how Sir George came to learn that such a place as Galway existed."
"I believe I can enlighten you," said Power. "Lady Dashwood--rest her
soul!--came west of the Shannon; she had a large property somewhere in
Mayo, and owned some hundred acres of swamp, with some thousand starving
tenantry thereupon, that people dignified as an estate in Connaught. This
first suggested to him the notion of setting up for the county, probably
supposing that the people who never paid in rent might like to do so in
gratitude. How he was undeceived, O'Malley there can inform us. Indeed, I
believe the worthy general, who was confoundedly hard up when he married,
expected to have got a great fortune, and little anticipated the three
chancery suits he succeeded to, nor the fourteen rent-charges to his wife's
relatives that made up the bulk of the dower. It was an unlucky hit for him
when he fell in with the old 'maid' at Bath; and had she lived, he must
have gone to the colonies. But the Lord took her one day, and Major
Dashwood was himself again. The Duke of York, the story goes, saw him at
Hounslow during a review, was much struck with his air and appearance, made
some inquiries, found him to be of excellent family and irreproachable
conduct, made him an aide-de-camp, and, in fact, made his fortune. I do not
believe that, while doing so kind, he could by possibility have done a more
popular thing. Every man in the army rejoiced at his good fortune; so that,
after all, though he has had some hard rubs, he has come well through,
the only vestige of his unfortunate matrimonial connection being a
correspondence kept up by a maiden sister of his late wife's with him. She
insists upon claiming the ties of kindred upon about twenty family eras
during the year, when she regularly writes a most loving and ill-spelled
epistle, containing the latest information from Mayo, with all particulars
of the Macan family, of which she is a worthy member. To her constant hints
of the acceptable nature of certain small remittances, the poor general is
never inattentive; but to the pleasing prospect of a visit in the flesh
from Miss Judy Macan, the good man is dead. In fact, nothing short of being
broke by general court-martial could complete his sensations of horror at
such a stroke of fortune; and I am not certain, if choice were allowed him,
that he would not prefer the latter."
"Then he has never yet seen her?" said Webber.
"Never," replied Power; "and he hopes to leave Ireland without that
blessing, the prospect of which, however remote and unlikely, has, I know
well, more than once terrified him since his arrival."
"I say, Power, and has your worthy general sent me a card for his ball?"
"Not through me, Master Frank."
"Well, now, I call that devilish shabby, do you know. He asks O'Malley
there from _my_ chambers, and never notices the other man, the superior in
the firm. Eh, O'Malley, what say you?"
"Why, I didn't know you were acquainted."
"And who said we were? It was his fault, though, entirely, that we were
not. I am, as I have ever been, the most easy fellow in the world on
that score, never give myself airs to military people, endure anything,
everything, and you see the result; hard, ain't it?"
"But, Webber, Sir George must really be excused in this matter. He has
a daughter, a most attractive, lovely daughter, just at that budding,
unsuspecting age when the heart is most susceptible of impressions; and
where, let me ask, could she run such a risk as in the chance of a casual
meeting with the redoubted lady-killer, Master Frank Webber? If he has not
sought you out, then here be his apology."
"A very strong case, certainly," said Frank; "but, still, had he confided
his critical position to my honor and secrecy, he might have depended on
me; now, having taken the other line--"
"Well, what then?"
"Why, he must abide the consequences. I'll make fierce love to Louisa;
isn't that the name?"
"Lucy, so please you."
"Well, be it so,--to Lucy,--talk the little girl into a most deplorable
attachment for me."
"But, how, may I ask, and when?"
"I'll begin at the ball, man."
"Why, I thought you said you were not going?"
"There you mistake seriously. I merely said that I had not been invited."
"Then, of course," said I, "Webber, you can't think of going, in any case,
on _my_ account."
"My very dear friend, I go entirely upon my own. I not only shall go, but
I intend to have most particular notice and attention paid me. I shall be
prime favorite with Sir George, kiss Lucy--"
"Come, come, this is too strong."
"What do you bet I don't? There, now, I'll give you a pony apiece, I do. Do
you say done?"
"That you kiss Miss Dashwood, and are not kicked down-stairs for your
pains; are those the terms of the wager?" inquired Power.
"With all my heart. That I kiss Miss Dashwood, and am not kicked
down-stairs for my pains."
"Then, I say, done."
"And with you, too, O'Malley?"
"I thank you," said I, coldly; "I am not disposed to make such a return for
Sir George Dashwood's hospitality as to make an insult to his family the
subject of a bet."
"Why, man, what are you dreaming of? Miss Dashwood will not refuse my
chaste salute. Come, Power, I'll give you the other pony."
"Agreed," said he. "At the same time, understand me distinctly, that I hold
myself perfectly eligible to winning the wager by my own interference; for
if you do kiss her, by Jove! I'll perform the remainder of the compact."
"So I understand the agreement," said Webber, arranging his curls before
the looking-glass. "Well, now, who's for Howth? The drag will be here in
half an hour."
"Not I," said Power; "I must return to the barracks."
"Nor I," said I, "for I shall take this opportunity of leaving my card at
Sir George Dashwood's."
"I have won my fifty, however," said Power, as we walked out in the courts.
"I am not quite certain--"
"Why, the devil, he would not risk a broken neck for that sum; besides, if
he did, he loses the bet."
"He's a devilish keen fellow."
"Let him be. In any case I am determined to be on my guard here."
So chatting, we strolled along to the Royal Hospital, when, having dropped
my pasteboard, I returned to the college.
I have often dressed for a storming party with less of trepidation than I
felt on the evening of Sir George Dashwood's ball. Since the eventful day
of the election I had never seen Miss Dashwood; therefore, as to what
precise position I might occupy in her favor was a matter of great doubt in
my mind, and great import to my happiness. That I myself loved her, was
a matter of which all the badinage of my friends regarding her made
me painfully conscious; but that, in our relative positions, such an
attachment was all but hopeless, I could not disguise from myself. Young as
I was, I well knew to what a heritage of debt, lawsuit, and difficulty I
was born to succeed. In my own resources and means of advancement I had no
confidence whatever, had even the profession to which I was destined been
more of my choice. I daily felt that it demanded greater exertions, if not
far greater abilities, than I could command, to make success at all likely;
and then, even if such a result were in store, years, at least, must elapse
before it could happen; and where would she then be, and where should I?
Where the ardent affection I now felt and gloried in,--perhaps all the more
for its desperate hopelessness,--when the sanguine and buoyant spirit to
combat with difficulties which youth suggests, and which, later, manhood
refuses, should have passed away? And even if all these survived the toil
and labor of anxious days and painful nights, what of her? Alas, I now
reflected that, although only of my own age, her manner to me had taken all
that tone of superiority and patronage which an elder assumes towards
one younger, and which, in the spirit of protection it proceeds upon,
essentially bars up every inlet to a dearer or warmer feeling,--at least,
when the lady plays the former part. "What, then, is to be done?" thought
I. "Forget her?--but how? How shall I renounce all my plans, and unweave
the web of life I have been spreading around me for many a day, without
that one golden thread that lent it more than half its brilliancy and all
its attraction? But then the alternative is even worse, if I encourage
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