The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer, Vol. 1
Charles James Lever
Part 3 out of 3
narrow crib, a more woe-begone picture can scarcely be imagined than that
before me. Here and there through the gloomy cabin lay the victims of
the fell malady, in every stage of suffering, and in every attitude of
misery. Their cries and lamentings mingled with the creaking of the
bulk-heads and the jarring twang of the dirty lamp, whose irregular swing
told plainly how oscillatory was our present motion. I turned from the
unpleasant sight, and was about again to address myself to slumber with
what success I might, when I started at the sound of a voice in the very
berth next to me--whose tones, once heard, there was no forgetting. The
words ran as nearly as I can recollect thus:--
"Oh, then, bad luck to ye for pigs, that ever brought me into the like of
this. Oh, Lord, there it is again." And here a slight interruption to
eloquence took place, during which I was enabled to reflect upon the
author of the complaint, who, I need not say, was Mrs. Mulrooney.
"I think a little tay would settle my stomach, if I only could get it;
but what's the use of talking in this horrid place? They never mind me
no more than if I was a pig. Steward, steward--oh, then, it's wishing
you well I am for a steward. Steward, I say;" and this she really did
say, with an energy of voice and manner that startled more than one
sleeper. "Oh, you're coming at last, steward."
"Ma'am," said a little dapper and dirty personage, in a blue jacket, with
a greasy napkin negligently thrown over one arm "ex officio," "Ma'am, did
"Call, is it call? No; but I'm roaring for you this half hour. Come
here. Have you any of the cordial dhrops agin the sickness?--you know
what I mean."
"Is it brandy, ma'am?"
"No, it isn't brandy;"
"We have got gin, ma'am, and bottled porter--cider, ma'am, if you like."
"Agh, no! sure I want the dhrops agin the sickness."
"Don't know indeed, ma'am."
"Ah, you stupid creature; maybe you're not the real steward. What's your
"Ah, I thought so; go away, man, go away."
This injunction, given in a diminuendo cadence, was quickly obeyed, and
all was silence for a moment or two. Once more was I dropping asleep,
when the same voice as before burst out with--
"Am I to die here like a haythen, and nobody to come near me? Steward,
steward, steward Moore, I say,"
"Who calls me?" said a deep sonorous voice from the opposite side of the
cabin, while at the same instant a tall green silk nightcap, surmounting
a very aristocratic-looking forehead, appeared between the curtains of
the opposite berth.
"Steward Moore," said the lady again, with her eyes straining in the
direction of the door by which she expected him to enter.
"This is most strange," muttered the baronet, half aloud. "Why, madam,
you are calling me!"
"And if I am," said Mrs. Mulrooney, "and if ye heerd me, have ye no
manners to answer your name, eh? Are ye steward Moore?"
"Upon my soul ma'am I thought so last night, when I came on board; but
you really have contrived to make me doubt my own identity."
"And is it there ye're lying on the broad of yer back, and me as sick as
a dog fornent ye?"
"I concede ma'am the fact; the position is a most irksome one on every
"Then why don't ye come over to me?" and this Mrs. Mulrooney said with a
voice of something like tenderness--wishing at all hazards to conciliate
so important a functionary.
"Why, really you are the most incomprehensible person I ever met."
"I'm what?" said Mrs. Mulrooney, her blood rushing to her face and
temples as she spoke--for the same reason as her fair townswoman is
reported to have borne with stoical fortitude every harsh epithet of the
language, until it occurred to her opponent to tell her that "the divil a
bit better she was nor a pronoun;" so Mrs. Mulrooney, taking "omne
ignotum pro horribili," became perfectly beside herself at the unlucky
phrase. "I'm what? repate it av ye dare, and I'll tear yer eyes out? Ye
dirty bla--guard, to be lying there at yer ease under the blankets,
grinning at me. What's your thrade--answer me that--av it isn't to wait
on the ladies, eh?"
"Oh, the woman must be mad," said Sir Stewart.
"The devil a taste mad, my dear--I'm only sick. Now just come over to
me, like a decent creature, and give me the dhrop of comfort ye have.
"Go over to you?"
"Ay, and why not? or if it's so lazy ye are, why then I'll thry and cross
over to your side."
These words being accompanied by a certain indication of change of
residence on the part of Mrs. Mulrooney, Sir Stewart perceived there was
no time to lose, and springing from his berth, he rushed half-dressed
through the cabin, and up the companion-ladder, just as Mrs. Mulrooney
had protruded a pair of enormous legs from her couch, and hung for a
moment pendulous before she dropped upon the floor, and followed him to
the deck. A tremendous shout of laughter from the sailors and deck
passengers prevented my hearing the dialogue which ensued; nor do I yet
know how Mrs. Mulrooney learned her mistake. Certain it is, she no more
appeared among the passengers in the cabin, and Sir Stewart's manner the
following morning at breakfast amply satisfied me that I had had my
No sooner in Liverpool, than I hastened to take my place in the earliest
conveyance for London. At that time the Umpire Coach was the perfection
of fast travelling; and seated behind the box, enveloped in a sufficiency
of broad-cloth, I turned my face towards town with as much anxiety and as
ardent expectations as most of those about me. All went on in the
regular monotonous routine of such matters until we reached Northampton,
passing down the steep street of which town, the near wheel-horse
stumbled and fell; the coach, after a tremendous roll to one side,
toppled over on the other, and with a tremendous crash, and sudden shock,
sent all the outsides, myself among the number, flying through the air
like sea-gulls. As for me, after describing a very respectable parabola,
my angle of incidence landed me in a bonnet-maker's shop, having passed
through a large plate-glass window, and destroyed more leghorns and
dunstables than a year's pay would recompense. I have but light
recollection of the details of that occasion, until I found myself lying
in a very spacious bed at the George Inn, having been bled in both arms,
and discovering by the multitude of bandages in which I was enveloped,
that at least some of my bones were broken by the fall. That such fate
had befallen my collar-bone and three of my ribs I soon learned; and was
horror-struck at hearing from the surgeon who attended me, that four or
five weeks would be the very earliest period I could bear removal with
safety. Here then at once was a large deduction from my six months'
leave, not to think of the misery that awaited me for such a time,
confined to my bed in an inn, without books, friends, or acquaintances.
However even this could be remedied by patience, and summoning up all I
could command, I "bided my time," but not before I had completed a term
of two months' imprisonment, and had become, from actual starvation,
something very like a living transparency.
No sooner, however, did I feel myself once more on the road, than my
spirits rose, and I felt myself as full of high hope and buoyant
expectancy as ever. It was late at night when I arrived in London.
I drove to a quiet hotel in the west-end; and the following morning
proceeded to Portman-square, bursting with impatience to see my friends
the Callonbys, and recount all my adventures--for as I was too ill to
write from Northampton, and did not wish to entrust to a stranger the
office of communicating with them, I judged that they must be exceedingly
uneasy on my account, and pictured to myself the thousand emotions my
appearance so indicative of illness would give rise to; and could
scarcely avoid running in my impatience to be once more among them. How
Lady Jane would meet me, I thought of over again and again; whether the
same cautious reserve awaited me, or whether her family's approval would
have wrought a change in her reception of me, I burned to ascertain. As
my thoughts ran on in this way, I found myself at the door; but was much
alarmed to perceive that the closed window-shutters and dismantled look
of the house proclaimed them from home. I rung the bell, and soon
learned from a servant, whose face I had not seen before, that the family
had gone to Paris about a month before, with the intention of spending
the winter there. I need not say how grievously this piece of
intelligence disappointed me, and for a minute or two I could not
collect my thoughts. At last the servant said:
"If you have any thing very particular, sir, that my Lord's lawyer can
do, I can give you his address."
"No, thank you--nothing;" at the same time I muttered to myself, "I'll
have some occupation for him though ere long. The family were all quite
well, didn't you say?"
"Yes sir, perfectly well. My Lord had only a slight cold,"
"Ah--yes--and there address is 'Meurice;' very well."
So saying I turned from the door, and with slower steps than I had come,
returned to my hotel.
My immediate resolve was to set out for Paris; my second was to visit my
uncle, Sir Guy Lorrequer, first, and having explained to him the nature
of my position, and the advantageous prospects before me, endeavour to
induce him to make some settlement on Lady Jane, in the event of my
obtaining her family's consent to our marriage. This, from his liking
great people much, and laying great stress upon the advantages of
connexion, I looked upon as a matter of no great difficulty; so that,
although my hopes of happiness were delayed in their fulfilment, I
believed they were only about to be the more securely realized. The same
day I set out for Elton, and by ten o'clock at night reached my uncle's
house. I found the old gentleman looking just as I had left him three
years before, complaining a little of gout in the left foot--praising his
old specific, port-wine--abusing his servants for robbing him--and
drinking the Duke of Wellington's health every night after supper; which
meal I had much pleasure in surprising him at on my arrival--not having
eaten since my departure from London.
"Well, Harry," said my uncle, when the servants had left the room, and we
drew over the spider table to the fire to discuss our wine with comfort,
"what good wind has blown you down to me, my boy? for it's odd enough,
five minutes before I heard the wheels on the gravel I was just wishing
some good fellow would join me at the grouse--and you see I have had my
wish! The old story, I suppose, 'out of cash.' Would not come down here
for nothing--eh? Come, lad, tell truth; is it not so?"
"Why, not exactly, sir; but I really had rather at present talk about
you, than about my own matters, which we can chat over tomorrow. How do
you get on, sir, with the Scotch steward?"
"He's a rogue, sir--a cheat--a scoundrel; but it is the same with them
all; and your cousin, Harry--your cousin, that I have reared from his
infancy to be my heir, (pleasant topic for me!) he cares no more for me
than the rest of them, and would never come near me, if it were not that,
like yourself, he was hard run for money, and wanted to wheedle me out of
a hundred or two."
"But you forget, sir--I told you I have not come with such an object."
"We'll see that--we'll see that in the morning," replied he, with an
incredulous shake of the head.
"But Guy, sir--what has Guy done?"
"What has he not done? No sooner did he join that popinjay set of
fellows, the __th hussars, than he turned out, what he calls a
four-in-hand drag, which dragged nine hundred pounds out of my pocket
--then he has got a yacht at Cowes--a grouse mountain in Scotland--and
has actually given Tattersall an unlimited order to purchase the
Wreckinton pack of harriers, which he intends to keep for the use of the
corps. In a word, there is not an amusement of that villanous regiment,
not a flask of champagne drank at their mess, I don't bear my share in
the cost of; all through the kind offices of your worthy cousin, Guy
This was an exceedingly pleasant expose for me, to hear of my cousin
indulged in every excess of foolish extravagance by his rich uncle, while
I, the son of an elder brother who unfortunately called me by his own
name, Harry, remained the sub. in a marching regiment, with not three
hundred pounds a year above my pay, and whom any extravagance, if such
had been proved against me would have deprived of even that small
allowance. My uncle however did not notice the chagrin with which I
heard his narrative, but continued to detail various instances of wild
and reckless expense the future possessor of his ample property had
already launched into.
Anxious to say something without well-knowing what, I hinted that
probably my good cousin would reform some of these days, and marry.
"Marry," said my uncle; "yes, that, I believe, is the best thing we can
do with him; and I hope now the matter is in good train--so the latest
accounts say, at least."
"Ah, indeed," said I, endeavouring to take an interest where I really
felt none--for my cousin and I had never been very intimate friends, and
the differences in our fortunes had not, at least to my thinking, been
compensated by any advances which he, under the circumstances, might have
made to me.
"Why, Harry, did you not hear of it?" said my uncle.
"No--not a word, sir."
"Very strange, indeed--a great match, Harry--a very great match, indeed."
"Some rich banker's daughter," thought I. "What will he say when he
hears of my fortune?"
"A very fine young woman, too, I understand--quite the belle of London
--and a splendid property left by an aunt."
I was bursting to tell him of my affair, and that he had another nephew,
to whom if common justice were rendered, his fortune was as certainly
made for life.
"Guy's business happened this way," continued my uncle, who was quite
engrossed by the thought of his favourite's success. "The father of the
young lady met him in Ireland, or Scotland, or some such place, where he
was with his regiment--was greatly struck with his manner and address
--found him out to be my nephew--asked him to his house--and, in fact,
almost threw this lovely girl at his head before they were two months
"As nearly as possible my own adventure," thought I, laughing to myself.
"But you have not told me who they are, sir," said I, dying to have his
story finished, and to begin mine.
"I'm coming to that--I'm coming to that. Guy came down here, but did not
tell me one word of his having ever met the family, but begged me to give
him an introduction to them, as they were in Paris, where he was going on
a short leave; and the first thing I heard of the matter was a letter
from the papa, demanding from me if Guy was to be my heir, and asking
'how far his attentions in his family, met with my approval.'"
"Then how did you know sir that they were previously known to each
"The family lawyer told me, who heard it all talked over."
"And why, then, did Guy get the letter of introduction from you, when he
was already acquainted with them?"
"I am sure I cannot tell, except that you know he always does every thing
unlike every one else, and to be sure the letter seems to have excited
some amusement. I must show you his answer to my first note to know how
all was going on; for I felt very anxious about matters, when I heard
from some person who had met them, that Guy was everlastingly in the
house, and that Lord Callonby could not live without him."
"Lord who, sir?" said I in a voice that made the old man upset his glass,
and spring from his chair in horror.
"What the devil is the matter with the boy. What makes you so pale?"
"Whose name did you say at that moment, sir," said I with a slowness of
speech that cost me agony.
"Lord Callonby, my old schoolfellow and fag at Eton."
"And the lady's name, sir?" said I, in scarcely an audible whisper.
"I'm sure I forget her name; but here's the letter from Guy, and I think
he mentions her name in the postscript."
I snatched rudely the half-opened letter from the old man, as he was
vainly endeavouring to detect the place he wanted, and read as follows:
"My adored Jane is all your fondest wishes for my happiness could
picture, and longs to see her dear uncle, as she already calls you on
every occasion." I read no more--my eyes swam--the paper, the candles,
every thing before me, was misty and confused; and although I heard my
uncle's voice still going on, I knew nothing of what he said.
For some time my mind could not take in the full extent of the base
treachery I had met with, and I sat speechless and stupified. By degrees
my faculties became clearer, and with one glance I read the whole
business, from my first meeting with them at Kilrush to the present
moment. I saw that in their attentions to me, they thought they were
winning the heir of Elton, the future proprietor of fifteen thousand per
annum. From this tangled web of heartless intrigue I turned my thoughts
to Lady Jane herself. How had she betrayed me! for certainly she had not
only received, but encouraged my addresses--and so soon, too.--To think
that at the very moment when my own precipitate haste to see her had
involved me in a nearly fatal accident, she was actually receiving the
attentions of another! Oh, it was too, too bad.
But enough--even now I can scarcely dwell upon the memory of that moment,
when the hopes and dreams of many a long day and night were destined to
be thus rudely blighted. I seized the first opportunity of bidding my
uncle good night; and having promised him to reveal all my plans on the
morrow, hurried to my room.
My plans! alas, I had none--that one fatal paragraph had scattered them
to the winds; and I threw myself upon my bed, wretched and almost
I have once before in these "Confessions" claimed to myself the
privilege, not inconsistent with a full disclosure of the memorabilia of
my life, to pass slightly over those passages, the burden of which was
unhappy, and whose memory is painful. I must now, therefore, claim the
"benefit of this act," and beg of the reader to let me pass from this sad
portion of my history, and for the full expression of my mingled rage,
contempt, disappointment, and sorrow, let me beg of him to receive
instead, what a learned pope once gave as his apology for not reading a
rather polysyllabic word in a Latin letter--"As for this," said he,
looking at the phrase in question, "soit qui'l dit," so say I. And now
EBOOK EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A rather unlady-like fondness for snuff
Amount of children which is algebraically expressed by an X
And some did pray--who never prayed before
Annoyance of her vulgar loquacity
Brought a punishment far exceeding the merits of the case
Chateaux en Espagne
Ending--I never yet met the man who could tell when it ended
Escaped shot and shell to fall less gloriously beneath champagne
Exclaimed with Othello himself, "Chaos was come again;"
Fearful of a self-deception where so much was at stake
Green silk, "a little off the grass, and on the bottle"
Had a most remarkable talent for selecting a son-in-law
Had to hear the "proud man's contumely"
Has but one fault, but that fault is a grand one
How ingenious is self-deception
If such be a sin, "then heaven help the wicked"
Indifferent to the many rebuffs she momentarily encountered
Memory of them when hallowed by time or distance
No equanimity like his who acts as your second in a duel
Nothing seemed extravagant to hopes so well founded
Now, young ladies, come along, and learn something, if you can
Oh, the distance is nothing, but it is the pace that kills
Opportunely been so overpowered as to fall senseless
Profuse in his legends of his own doings in love and war
Respectable heir-loom of infirmity
Stoicism which preludes sending your friend out of the world
Suppose I have laughed at better men than ever he was
That land of punch, priests, and potatoes
That vanity which wine inspires
That "to stand was to fall,"
The divil a bit better she was nor a pronoun
There are unhappily impracticable people in the world
Time, that 'pregnant old gentleman,' will disclose all
Vagabond if Providence had not made me a justice of the peace
What will not habit accomplish
When you pretended to be pleased, unluckily, I believed you
Whose paraphrase of the book of Job was refused
Wretched, gloomy-looking picture of woe-begone poverty
What we wish we readily believe
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