Andrew Lang.

Parson Kelly online

. (page 1 of 25)
Online LibraryAndrew LangParson Kelly → online text (page 1 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by Charles Bowen, from page scans provided by Google Books

Transcriber's Notes:

1. Page scan source:

2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].

[Frontispiece: "BUT I AM GRIEVED I HAVE NO VIRGIL." P. 160]







_Copyright, 1899_,
By Longmans, Green, And Co.
* * *
_All rights reserved_

First Edition, September, 1899
Reprinted October, 1899

University Press
John Wilson And Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.


_The Representative of a House illustrious for its Antiquity:_
_In Prosperity splendid: in Exile and Poverty gay_
_and constant: of Loyalty unshaken;_

Is Dedicated

_This Narrative, founded on the deeds of his Ancestor_,

The Chevalier Nicholas De Wogan.

A. E. W. M.
A. L.


The authors wish to say that the proceedings of Lady Oxford are
unhistorical. Swift mentions a rumour that there was such a lady, but
leaves her anonymous.



I. The Parson expresses Irreproachable Sentiments at the
Mazarin Palace.

II. Mr. Wogan refuses to Acknowledge an Undesirable
Acquaintance in St. James's Street.

III. Mr. Wogan instructs the Ignorant Parson in the Ways of

IV. Shows the Extreme Danger of knowing Latin.

V. A Literary Discussion in which a Critic, not for the
first time, turns the tables upon an Author.

VI. Mr. Nicholas Wogan reminds the Parson of a Night at the
Mazarin Palace.

VII. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu has a word to say about

VIII. Mr. Kelly has an Adventure at a Masquerade Ball.

IX. Wherein the Chivalrous Mr. Kelly behaves with Deplorable

X. What came of Mr. Kelly's Winnings from the South Sea.

XI. The Parson departs from Smilinda and learns a number of
Unpalatable Truths.

XII. The Parson meets Scrope for the Third Time, and what came
of the Meeting.

XIII. Of the Rose and the Rose-Garden in Avignon.

XIV. Of the Great Confusion produced by a Ballad and a Drunken

XV. At the Deanery of Westminster.

XVI. Mr. Wogan acts as Lightning Conductor at Lady Oxford's

XVII. Lady Oxford's 'Coup De Théâtre'.

XVIII. Wherein a New Fly discourses on the innocence of the
Spider's Web.

XIX. Stroke and Counter-stroke.

XX. Mr. Scrope bathes by Moonlight and in his Peruke.

XXI. In which Mr. Kelly surprises Smilinda.

XXII. An Eclogue which demonstrates the Pastoral Simplicity of
Corydon and Strephon.

XXIII. How the Messengers captured the wrong Gentleman; and of
what Letters the Colonel burned.

XXIV. Mr. Wogan wears Lady Oxford's Livery, but does not remain
in her Service.

XXV. How the Miniature of Lady Oxford came by a Mischance.

XXVI. Mr. Wogan Traduces his Friend, with the Happiest

XXVII. How, by keeping Parole, Mr. Kelly broke Prison.

XXVIII. Mr. Wogan again invades England, meets the elect Lady,
and bears witness to her Perfections.




"What mighty quarrels rise from trivial things!"

So wrote Mr. Alexander Pope, whom Nicholas Wogan remembers as a
bookish boy in the little Catholic colony of Windsor Forest. The line
might serve as a motto for the story which Mr. Wogan (now a one-armed
retired colonel of Dillon's Irish Brigade in French Service) is about
to tell. The beginnings of our whole mischancy business were trivial
in themselves, and in all appearance unrelated to the future. They
were nothing more important than the purchase of a couple of small
strong-boxes and the placing of Parson Kelly's patrimony in Mr. Law's
company of the West. Both of these events happened upon the same day.

It was early in February of the year 1719, and the streets of Paris
were deep in snow. Wogan, then plotting for King James's cause, rode
into Paris from St. Omer at ten o'clock of the forenoon, and just
about the same hour Parson Kelly, plotting too in his way, drove
through the Orleans gate.

A few hours later the two men met in the Marais, or rather Nicholas
Wogan saw the skirts of Kelly's coat vanishing into an ironmonger's
shop, and ran in after him. Kelly was standing by the counter with a
lady on either side of him, as was the dear man's wont; though their
neighbourhood on this occasion was the merest accident, for the Parson
knew neither of them.

'Sure it's my little friend the lace merchant,' said Wogan, and
clapped his hand pretty hard on the small of his friend's back, whom
he had not seen for a twelvemonth and more. Kelly stumbled a trifle,
maybe, and no doubt he coughed and spluttered. One of the ladies
dropped her purse and shuddered into a corner.

'_Quelle bête sauvage!_' murmured the second with one indignant eye
upon Nicholas Wogan, and the other swimming with pity for Mr. Kelly.

'Madame,' said Wogan, picking up the purse and restoring it with his
most elegant bow, 'it was pure affection.'

'No doubt,' said Kelly, as he rubbed his shoulder; 'but, Nick, did you
never hear of the bear that smashed his master's skull in the
endeavour to stroke off a fly that had settled on his nose? That was
pure affection too.'

He turned back to the counter, on which the shopman was setting out a
number of small strong-boxes, and began to examine them.

'Well, you must e'en blame yourself, George,' said Nick, 'for the mere
sight of you brings the smell of the peat to my nostrils and lends
vigour to my hand.'

This he said with all sincerity, for the pair had been friends in
county Kildare long before Kelly went to Dublin University, and took
deacon's orders, and was kicked out of the pulpit for preaching
Jacobitism in his homilies. As boys they had raced bare-legged over
the heather, and spent many an afternoon in fighting over again that
siege of Rathcoffey Castle which an earlier Nicholas Wogan had held so
stoutly for King Charles. The recollection of those days always played
upon Wogan's foolish heartstrings with a touch soft as a woman's
fingers, and very likely it now set George Kelly's twanging to the
same tune; for at Wogan's words he turned himself about with a face
suddenly illumined.

'Here, Nick, lay your hand there,' said he and stretched out his hand.
'You will be long in Paris?'

'No more than a night. And you?'

'Just the same time.'

He turned again to the counter, and busied himself with his boxes in
something of a hurry, as though he would avoid further questioning.
Wogan blew a low whistle.

Maybe we are on the same business, eh?' he asked. 'The King's

'Whisht, man,' whispered Kelly quickly, and he glanced about the shop.
'Have you no sense at all?'

The shop was empty at the moment, and there was no reason that Wogan
could see for his immoderate secrecy. But the Parson was much like the
rest of the happy-go-lucky conspirators who were intriguing to
dislodge the Elector from the English throne - cautious by fits and
moods, and the more often when there was the less need. But let a
scheme get ripe for completion, and sure they imagined it completed
already, and at once there would be letters left about here, for all
the world to read, and a wink and a sly word there, so that it was
little short of a miracle when a plot was launched before it had been
discovered by those it was launched against. Not that you are to
attribute to Mr. Wogan any superior measure of reticence. On the
contrary, it is very probable that it was precisely Mr. Wogan's tongue
which George Kelly distrusted, and if so, small blame to him. At any
rate, he pursed up his lips and stiffened his back. Consequence turned
him into a ramrod, and with a voice pitched towards the shopman:

'I am still in the muslin trade,' said he, meaning that he collected
money for the Cause. 'I shall cross to England to-morrow.'

'Indeed and will you now?' said Wogan, who was perhaps a little
contraried by his friend's reserve. 'Then I'll ask you to explain what
these pretty boxes have to do with the muslin trade?'

'They are to carry my samples in,' replied Kelly readily enough; and
then, as if to put Wogan's questions aside, 'Are you for England,

'No,' said Wogan, imitating Mr. Kelly's importance; 'I am going to
visit my Aunt Anne at Cadiz; so make the most of that, my little

Wogan was no great dab at the cyphers and the jargon of the plots, but
he knew that the Duke of Ormond, being then in Spain, figured in the
correspondence as my Aunt Anne. It was now Kelly's turn to whistle,
and that he did, and then laughed besides.

'I might have guessed,' said he, 'for there's a likely prospect of
broken heads at all events, and to that magnet you were never better
than a steel filing.'

'Whisht, man,' exclaimed Wogan, frowning and wagging his head
preposterously. 'Is it yourself that's the one person in the world to
practise mysteries? Broken heads, indeed!' and he shrugged his
shoulder as though he had a far greater business on hand. Kelly's
curiosity rose to the bait, and he put a question or two which Wogan
waived aside. The Parson indeed had hit the truth. Wogan had no
business whatsoever except the mere fighting, but since the Parson was
for practising so much dignified secrecy, Wogan would do no less.

To carry the joke a step further, he turned to the counter, even as
Kelly had done, and examined the despatch-boxes. He would buy one, to
convince Kelly that he, too, was trusted with secret papers. The boxes
were as like to one another as peas, but Wogan discovered a great
dissimilitude of defects.

'There's not one of them fit to keep a mouldy cheese in,' said he,
tapping and sounding them with his knuckles, 'let alone - ' and then he
caught himself up with a glance at Kelly. 'However, this perhaps may
serve - but wait a little.' He felt in his pockets and by chance
discovered a piece of string. This string he drew out and carefully
measured the despatch-box, depth and width and length. Then he put the
tip of his thumb between his teeth and bit it in deep thought. 'Well,
and it must serve, since there's no better; but for heaven's sake, my
man, clap a stouter lock on it! I could smash this with my fist. A
good stout lock; and send it - wait a moment!' He glanced towards Kelly
and turned back to the shopman. 'I'll just write down where you are to
send it to.'

To Kelly's more complete mystification he scribbled a name and an
address on a sheet of paper, and folded it up with an infinity of

'Send it there, key and all, by nine o'clock tomorrow morning.'

The name was Mr. Kelly's, the address the inn at which Mr. Kelly was
in the habit of putting up. Wogan bought the box merely to gull Kelly
into the belief that he, also, was a Royal messenger. Then he paid for
the box, and forthwith forgot all about it over a bottle of wine.
Kelly, for his part, held his despatch-box in his hand.

'Nick, I have business,' said he as soon as the bottle was empty, 'and
it appears you have too. Shall we meet to-night? Mr. Law expects me at
the Mazarin Palace.'

'Faith, then I'll make bold to intrude upon him,' said Nicholas, who,
though Mr. Law kept open house for those who favoured the White Rose,
was but a rare visitor to the Mazarin Palace, holding the financier in
so much awe that no amount of affability could extinguish it.

However, that night he went, and so learned in greater particular the
secret of the Parson's journey. It was nine o'clock at night when
Wogan turned the corner of the Rue Vivienne and saw the windows of the
Mazarin Palace blazing out upon the snow. A little crowd shivered and
gaped beneath them, making, poor devils! a vicarious supper off the
noise of Mr. Law's entertainment. And it was a noisy party that Mr.
Law entertained. Before he was half-way down the street Wogan could
hear the peal of women's laughter and a snatch of a song, and after
that maybe a sound of breaking glass, as though a tumbler had been
edged off the table by an elbow. He was shown up the great staircase
to a room on the first floor.

'Monsieur Nicholas de Wogan,' said the footman, throwing open the
door. Wogan stepped into the company of the pretty arch conspirators
who were then mismanaging the Chevalier's affairs. However, with their
mismanagement Wogan is not here concerned, for this is not a story of
Kings and Queens and high politics but of the private fortunes of
Parson Kelly. Olive Trant was playing backgammon in a corner with Mr.
Law. Madame de Mezières, who was seldom absent when politics were
towards, graced the table and conversed with Lady Cecilia Law. And
right in front of Mr. Wogan stood that madcap her sister, Fanny
Oglethorpe, with her sleeves tucked back to her elbows, looking
gloriously jolly and handsome. She was engaged in mincing chickens in
a china bowl which was stewing over a little lamp on the table, for,
said she, Mr. Law had aspersed the English cooks, and she was minded
to make him eat his word and her chicken that very night for supper.
She had Parson Kelly helping her upon the one side, and a young French
gentleman whom Wogan did not know upon the other; and the three of
them were stirring in the bowl with a clatter of their wooden spoons.

'Here's Mr. Wogan,' cried Fanny Oglethorpe, and as Wogan held out his
hand she clapped her hot spoon into it. 'M. de Bellegarde, you must
know Mr. Wogan. He has the broadest back of any man that ever I was
acquainted with. You must do more than know him. You must love him, as
I do, for the broadness of his back.'

M. de Bellegarde looked not over-pleased with the civility of her
greeting, and bowed to Wogan with an affectation of ceremony. Mr. Law
came forward with an affable word. Olive Trant added another, and
Madame de Mezières asked eagerly what brought him to Paris.

'He is on his way to join the Duke of Ormond at Cadiz,' cried Kelly;
'and,' said this man deceived, 'he carries the most important
messages. Bow to him, ladies! Gentlemen, your hands to your hearts,
and your knees to the ground! It's no longer a soldier of fortune that
you see before you, but a diplomatist, an ambassador: His Excellency,
the Chevalier Wogan;' and with that he ducked and bowed, shaking his
head and gesticulating with his hands, as though he were some
dandified court chamberlain. All the Parson's diplomacy had been
plainly warmed out of him in his present company. Mr. Law began to
laugh, but Fanny Oglethorpe dropped her spoon and looked at Wogan.

'The Duke of Ormond?' said she, lowering her voice.

'Indeed? and you carry messages?' said Miss Olive Trant, upsetting the
backgammon board.

'Of what kind?' exclaimed Madame de Mezières; and then, in an instant,
their pretty heads were clustered about the table, and their mouths
whispering questions, advice, and precautions, all in a breath. 'It's
at Bristol you are to land?' 'The Earl Marischal is for Scotland?'
'You carry 5,000 barrels, Mr. Wogan?' meaning thereby stands of arms.
And, 'You may speak with all confidence,' Miss Oglethorpe urged, with
a glance this way and that over her shoulders. 'There are none but
honest people here. M. de Bellegarde,' and she looked towards the
French spark, blushing very prettily, 'is my good friend.'

Mr. Wogan bowed.

'It was not that I doubted M. de Bellegarde,' he replied. 'But 'faith,
ladies, I have learnt more of the prospects of the expedition from
your questions than ever I knew before. I was told for a certain thing
that heads would be broken, and, to be sure, I was content with the

At that Mr. Law laughed. Kelly asked, 'What of the despatch-box,
then?' The ladies pouted their resentment; and Mr. Wogan, for the
first and last time in his life, wore the reputation of a diplomatist.
'A close man,' said M. de Bellegarde, pursing his lips in approval.

'But sped on an unlikely venture,' added Mr. Law, getting back to his
backgammon. 'Oh, I know,' he continued, as the voices rose against
him, 'you have grumblings enough in England to fill a folio, and so
you think the whole country will hurry to the waterside to welcome
you, before you have set half your foot on shore. But, when all is
said, the country's prosperous. Your opportunity will come with its

But Madame de Mezières would hear nothing of such forebodings; and
Olive Trant, catching up a glass, swung it above her head.

'May the Oak flourish!' she cried.

Fanny Oglethorpe sprang from her seat. 'May the White Rose bloom!' she
answered, giving the counter-word. The pair clinked their glasses.

'Aye, that's the spirit!' cried the Parson. 'Drink, Nick! God save the
King! Here's a bumper to him!'

He stood with his face turned upwards, his blue eyes afire. 'Here's to
the King!' he repeated. 'Here's to the Cause! God send that nothing
ever come between the Cause and me.' He drained his glass as he spoke,
and tossed it over his shoulder. There was a tinkling sound, and a
flash of sparks, as it were, when the glass splintered against the
wall. George Kelly stood for a moment, arrested in his attitude, his
eyes staring into vacancy, as though some strange news had come of a
sudden knocking at his heart. Then he hitched his shoulders. 'Bah!' he
cried, and began to sing in a boisterous voice some such ditty as

Of all the days that's in the year,
The tenth of June's to me most dear,
When our White Roses do appear
To welcome Jamie the Rover.

Or it may have been

Let our great James come over,
And baffle Prince Hanover,
With hearts and hands in loyal bands,
We'll welcome him at Dover.

It was not the general practice to allow the Parson to sing without
protest; for he squeezed less music out of him than any other Irishman
could evoke from a deal board with his bare knuckles. When he sang,
and may Heaven forgive the application of the word in this
conjunction, there was ever a sort of mortal duello between his voice
and the tune - very distressing to an audience. But now he sang his
song from beginning to end, and no one interrupted him, or so much as
clapped a hand over an ear; and this not out of politeness. But his
words so rang with a startling fervour; and he stood, with his head
thrown back, rigid in the stress of passion. His voice quavered down
to silence, but his eyes still kept their fires, his attitude its
fixity. Once or twice he muttered a word beneath his breath, and then
a hoarse cry came leaping from his mouth.

'May nothing ever come between the Cause and me, except it be
death - except it be death!'

A momentary silence waited upon the abrupt cessation of his voice:
Wogan even held his breath; Miss Oglethorpe did not stir; and during
that silence, there came a gentle rapping on the door. Kelly looked
towards it with a start, as though there was his answer; but the
knocking was repeated before anyone moved; it seemed as if suspense
had hung its chains upon every limb. It was Mr. Wogan who opened the
door, and in stalked Destiny in the shape of a lackey. He carried a
note, and handed it to George Kelly.

'The messenger has but this instant brought it,' he said.

Kelly broke the seal, and unfolded the paper.

'From General Dillon,' he said; and, reading the note through,
'Ladies, will you pardon me? Mr. Law, I have your permission? I have
but this one night in Paris, and General Dillon has news of importance
which bears upon my journey.'

With that he took his hat, and got him from the room. Fanny Oglethorpe
sprang up from her chair.

'Sure, my chicken will be ruined,' she cried. 'Come, M. de
Bellegarde,' and the pair fell again to stirring in the bowl, and with
such indiscriminate vigour that more than once their fingers got
entangled. This Mr. Wogan observed, and was sufficiently indiscreet to
utter a sly proposal that he should make a third at the stirring.

'There is no need for a third,' said Miss Oglethorpe, with severity.
'But, on the other hand, I want a couple of pats of butter, and a
flagon of water; and I shall be greatly obliged if Mr. Wogan will
procure me them.' And what with that and other requests which chanced
to come into her head, she kept him busy until the famous supper was

In the midst of that supper back came Mr. Kelly, and plumped himself
down in his chair, very full of his intelligence. A glass or two of
Mr. Law's burgundy served to warm out of his blood all the reserve
that was left over from the morning.

'We are all friends here,' said he, turning to Miss Oglethorpe.
'Moreover, I need the advantage of your advice and knowledge. General
Dillon believes that my Lord Oxford maybe persuaded to undertake the
muslin trade in Britain.'

'Lord Oxford,' exclaimed Miss Oglethorpe, with a start, for Oxford had
lain quiet since he nearly lost his head five years agone. 'He is to
collect the money from our supporters?'

'It is the opinion that he will, if properly approached.'

Mr. Law, at the top of the table, shook his head.

'It is a very forward and definite step for so prudential a
politician,' said he.

'But a politician laid on a shelf, and pining there,' replied George.
'There's the reason for it. He has a hope of power, - _Qui a bu,
boira!_ The hope grows real if we succeed.'

'I would trust him no further than a Norfolk attorney,' returned Mr.
Law; 'and that's not an inch from the end of my nose. He will swear
through a two-inch board to help you, and then turn cat in pan if a
Whig but smile at him.'

'Besides,' added Miss Oglethorpe, and she rested, her chin
thoughtfully upon her hands. As she spoke, all the eyes in that
company were turned on her. 'Besides,' and then she came to a stop,
and flushed a little. 'Lord Oxford,' she continued, 'was my good
friend when I was in England.' Then she stopped again. Finally she
looked straight into M. de Bellegarde's eyes, and with an admirable
bravery: 'Some, without reason, have indeed slandered me with stories
that he was more than my friend.'

'None, Madame, who know you, I'll warrant,' said M. de Bellegarde, and
gravely lifting her hand to his lips, he kissed it.

'Well, that's a very pretty answer,' said she in some confusion. 'So
Mr. Kelly may know,' she went on, 'that I speak with some authority
concerning my Lord Oxford. It is not he whom I distrust. But he has
lately married a young wife.'

'Ah,' said Mr. Law, and 'Oh!' cried Mr. Wogan, with a shrug of his
shoulders. 'If a lady is to dabble her tender fingers in the pie - '

'And what of it, Mr. Wogan?' Madame de Mezières took him up coldly.

'Yes, Mr. Wogan, what of it?' repeated Olive Trant hotly, 'provided
the lady be loyal.' In an instant Mr. Wogan had the whole nest
swarming about his ears, with the exception of Fanny Oglethorpe. It
was intimated to him that he had a fine preposterous conceit of his
sex, and would he be pleased to justify it?

Madame de Mezières hinted that the ability to swing a shillelagh and
bring it down deftly on an offending sconce did not comprise the whole
virtues of mankind. And if it came to the test of dealing blows, why
there was Joan of Arc, and what had Mr. Wogan to say to her? Mr. Wogan

Online LibraryAndrew LangParson Kelly → online text (page 1 of 25)