Charles James Lever.

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[BRARY



THE UNIVERSITY



OF CAL IFORNIA



LOS ANGELES




GIFT OF

FREDERIC THOMAS BLANCHARD

FOR THE
ENGLISH READING ROOM



THE CONFESSIONS



OF



CON CREGAN



THE CONFESSIONS



OF



CON CREGAN



BY

CHARLES LEVER

AUTHOR OF "CHARLES O'MALLEY"



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS



LONDON
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS

THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE
NF.W YORK: 416, BROOME STREET



LONDON :

WOODFALL AND KINDER, PRINTERS,
MILKORD LANE, STRAND, W.C.



College
{library



PREFACE.



AN eminent apothecary of my acquaintance once told me
that at each increase to his family, he added ten per cent.
to the price of his drags, and as his quiver was full of
daughters, Blackdraught, when I knew him, was a more
costly cordial than Cui^oa.

To apply this to my own case, I may mention that I had
a daughter born to me about the time this story dates from,
and not having at my command the same resource as my
friend the chemist, I adopted the alternative of writing
another storv, to be published contemporaneously with that
now appearing "The Daltons;" and not to incur the
reproach so natural in criticism of over- writing myself I
took care that the work should come out without a name.

I am not sure that I made any attempt to disguise my
style ; I was conscious of scores of blemishes I decline
to call them mannerisms that would betray me : but I
believe I trusted most of all to the fact that I was making
my monthly appearance to the world in another story, and
with another publisher, and I had my hope that my small
duplicity would thus escape undetected.

I was aware that there was a certain amount of peril in
running an opposition coach on the line I had made in some
degree my own ; not to say that it might be questionable

1462615



VI PREFACE.

policy to glut the public with a kind of writing more
remarkable for peculiarity than perfection.

I remember that excellent Irishman Bianconi, not the less
Irish that he was born at Lucca which was simply a " bull "
once telling me that to popularize a road on which few
people were then travelling, and on which his daily two-
horse car was accustomed to go its journey, with two or
at most three passengers, the idea occurred to him that he
would start an opposition conveyance, of course in perfect
secrecy, and with every outward show of its being a genuine
rival. He effected his object with such success, that his own
agents were completely taken in, and never wearied of report-
ing, for his gratification, all the shortcomings and disasters
of the rival company.

At length, and when the struggle between the competitors
was at its height, one of his drivers rushed frantically into
his office one day, crying out, " Give a crown-piece to drink
your honour's health for what I done to-day."

" What was it, Larry ? "

" I killed the yallow mare of the opposition car ; I passed
her on the long hill, when she was blown, and I bruk her
heart before she reached the top."

" After this I gave up the opposition," said my friend
" ' mocking was catching,' as the old proverb says ; and I
thought that one might carry a joke a little too far."

I had this experience before me, and I will not say it did
not impress me. My puzzle was, however, in this wise: I
imagined I did not care on which horse I stood to win ; in
other words, I persuaded myself that it was a matter of per-
fect indifference to me which book took best with the public,



PREFACE. V1J

and whether the reader thought better of " The Dal tons "
or " Con Cregan," that it could in no way concern me.

That I totally misunderstood myself, or misconceived the
case before me, I am now quite ready to own. For one notice
of " The Daltons " by the Press, there were at least three or
four of " Con Cregan," and while the former was dismissed
with a few polite and measured phrases, the latter was
largely praised and freely quoted. Nor was this all. The
critics discovered in " Con Cregan" a freshness and a vigour
which were so sadly deficient in " The Daltons." It was,
they averred, the work of a less practised writer, but of one
whose humour was more subtle, and whose portraits, roughly
sketched as they were, indicated a far higher power than the
well-known author of "Harry Lorrequer."

The unknown for there was no attempt to guess him
was pronounced not to be an imitator of Mr. Lever, though
there were certain small points of resemblance ; for he was
clearly original in his conception of character, in his conduct
of his story, and in his dialogues; and there were traits of
knowledge of life, in scenes and under conditions to which
Mr. Lever could lay no claim. One critic, who had found
out more features of resemblance between the two writers
than his colleagues, uttered a friendly caution to Mr. Lever
to look to his laurels, for there was a rival in the field pos-
sessing many of the characteristics by which he first won
public favour ; but a racy drollery in description and a quaint-
ness in his humour all his own. It was the amusement of
one of my children at the time to collect these sage comments
and torment me with their judgments, and I remember a
droll little note-book, in which they were pasted, and read



Till PREFACE.

aloud from time to time with no small amusomcut and
laughter.

One or two of these I have even now before me :

" Our new novelist has great stuff in him." Bath Gazette.

" ' Con Cregan' author unknown begins promisingly ; his
first number is a decided hit." Cambridge Chronicle.

" The writer of ' Con Cregan ' is a new hand, but we pre-
dict he will be a success." Cambridge Advertiser.

" A new tale, in a style with which Lever and his followers
have made us acquainted." Hampshire Advertiser.

" This tale is from the pen of an able Irish writer. The
dialogue is very smartly written, so much so and we cannot
pay the writer a more genuine compliment that it bespeaks
the author to be an Irishman, &c." Somerset Gazette.

" ' Con Cregan ' by an unnamed author is a new candi-
date for popularity," &c. Northern Whiff, Belfast.

" The writer must be an Irishman." Nottingham Gazette.

" A new barque, launched by an unknown builder." Chel-
tenham Chronicle.

" That the author's name is not disclosed will not affect
the popularity of this work one of the most attractive,"
&c. Oxford Journal.

" This is a new tale by the pen of some able Irish
writer, the first part of which is only published." Ten
Town Messenger.

" Another new candidate for popular fame, and ' Harry
Lorrequer ' had better look to his laurels. There is a poacher
in the manor in the person of the writer of ' Con Cregan.' "
Yorkshireman,



PEEFACE. IX

'"Con Cregau' promises to become as great a fact as
1 Harry Lorrequer.' " Peoples Journal.

" The author of ' Con Cregan,' whoever he be, is no ordi-
nary man."

" Another daring author has entered the lists, and with
every promise of success." Exeter Post.

It may sound very absurd to confess it, but I was exces-
sively provoked at the superior success of the unacknow-
ledged book, and felt the rivalry to the full as painfully as
though I had never written a line of it. Was it that I
thought well of one story and very meanly of the other ; and
in consequence was angry at the want of concurrence of my
critics ? I suspect not. I rather imagine I felt hurt at dis-
covering how little hold I had, in my acknowledged name,
on a public with whom I fancied myself on such good terms,
and it pained me to see with what little difficulty a new and
a nameless man could push for the place I had believed to be
my own.

"The Daltons" I always wrote, after my habit, in the
morning ; I never turned to " Con Cregan " until nigh mid-
night ; and I can still remember the widely different feelings
with which I addressed myself to the task I liked, and to
a story which, in the absurd fashion I have mentioned, was
associated with wounded self-love.

It is scarcely necessary for me to say that there was no
plan whatever in this book. My notion was, that " Con
Cregan," once created, would not fail to find adventures.
The vicissitudes of daily poverty would beget shifts and
contrivances ; with these successes would come ambition and



X PREFACE.

daring. Meanwhile a growing knowledge of life would
develop his character, and I should soon see whether he
would win the silver spoon or spoil the horn. I ask pardon
in the most humble manner for presuming for a moment
to associate my hero with the great original of Le Sage.
But I used the word " Irish " adjectively, and with the
same amount of qualification that one employs to a diamond,
and indeed, as I have read it in a London paper, to a
"Lord."

An American officer, of whom I saw much at the time,
was my guide to the interior of Mexico ; he had been ori-
ginally in the Santa Fe expedition, was a man of most
adventurous disposition, and a love of stirring incident and
peril, that even broken-down health and a failing constitution
could not subdue.

It was often very difficult for me to tear myself away from
his Texan and Mexican experiences, his wild scenes of
prairie life, or his sojourn amongst Indian tribes, and keep
to the more commonplace events of my own story ; nor could
all my entreaties confine him to those descriptions of places
and scenes which I needed for my own characters.

The saunter after tea-time, with this companion, generally
along that little river that tumbles through the valley of the
Bagno di Lucca, was the usual preparation for my night's
work ; and I came to it as intensely possessed by Mexico
dress, manner, and landscape as though I had been drawing
on the recollection of a former journey.

So completely separated in my mind were the two tales
by the different parts of the day in which I wrote them,
that no character of " The Daltons " ever crossed my mind



PREFACE. Xi

after nightfall, nor was there a trace of " Con Cregan "
in my head at my breakfast next morning.

None of the characters of this story have been taken from
life. The one bit of reality in the whole is in the sketch
of " Anticosti," where I myself suffered once a very small
shipwreck ; but of which I retain a very vivid recollection
to this hour.

I have already owned that I bore a grudge to the story
as I wrote it ; nor have I outlived the memory of the chagrin
it cost me, though it is many a year since I acknow-
ledged that " Con Cregan " was by the author of " Harry
Lorrequer."



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

PAG

A PEEP AT MY FATHKR . ... 1



CHAPTER II.

ANOTHER PEE? AT MY FATHER



CHAPTER III.
A FIRST STEP ON LIFE'S LAPPER ....... 16

CHAPTER IV.
"How I ENTERED COLLEOK, ANP HOW I LEFT IT" . . . .26

CHAPTER V.
A PEEP AT " HIGH AND Low COMPANY "...,. 33

CHAPTER VI.
"VIEWS OF LIFE" 40

CHAPTER VII.
A BOLD STROKE FOR AN OPENING IN THE WORLP . , . 43

CHAPTER VIII.

"A QUIET CHOP" AT "KILLEEN'S," AND A GLAN<> AT A NEW

CHARACTER 01



X1Y CONTENTS.



CHAPTER IX.

PAGB

SIR DUDLEY BROUQHTON 78



CHAPTER X.
"THK VOTAOB Our" 88

CHAPTER XI.
"MEANS AND MEDITATIONS" 107

CHAPTER XIL
"A GLIMPSE OP ANOTHER OPENING IN LIPB" . . . .181

CHAPTER XIIL
QUEBEC 139

CHAPTER XIV.
How I "PELL IN" AND "OUT" WITH "THE WIDOW DAVIS" . 147

CHAPTER XV.
AN EMIGRANT'S FIRST STEP "ON SHORK" 165

CHAPTER XVI.
A NIOHT IN THE "LOWER TOWN" 175

CHAPTER XVII.
A "SCKNE" AND "Mr LUCUBRATIONS ON THE ST. LAWRENCE" . 184

CHAPTER XVIII.
"THB ORDINART OF ALL NATIONS" 198



CONTENTS. XV



CHAPTER XIX.

PAGE

"ON BOARD OP 'THE CHRISTOBAL'" . , r . . 221



CHAPTER XX.
THE Loo-HuT AT BRAZOS 240



CHAPTER XXI.
"A NIGHT IN A FOREST OP TEXAS" 258



CHAPTER XXII.
THE LAZARETTO op BEXAR 275

CHAPTER XXIII.
"THE PLACER" , 295



CHAPTER XXIV.
THE FATE OF A GAMBUSINO , . . 807

CHAPTER XXV.
LA SEXUORA 322

CHAPTER XXVI.
"THE DISCOVERY" 313

CHAPTER XXVII.

" GlJAJUAQUALLA " 367

CHAPTER XXVIIL
"THE VOYAGE OP THE 'AOADIE'". . . . , 385



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XXIX.

PAOE

THE "CARCEL MORENA" AT MALAGA ...... 897



CHAPTER XXX.
CONSOLATIONS OP DIPLOMACY ....



CHAPTER XXXL
"A NEW WALK IN PROGRESSIVE LIFE"



CHAPTER XXXII.
" Moi KT MON PRINCE .....



CHAPTER XXXIII.

A SOIREE IN THE "GREAT WORLD"



CHAPTER XXXIV.
CONCLUSION ....... .... *78



THE

CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN.



CHAPTER I.

A PBEP AT MY FATHER.

WHEN we shall have become better acquainted, my worthy
reader, there will be little necessity for my insisting upon a
fact which, at this early stage of our intimacy, I deem it
requisite to mention ; namely, that my native modesty and
bashfulness are only second to my veracity, and that while
the latter quality in a manner compels me to lay an occa-
sional stress upon my own goodness of heart, generosity, can-
dour, and so forth, I have, notwithstanding, never introduced
the subject without a pang, such a pang as only a sensitive
and diffident nature can suffer or comprehend ; there now,
not another word of preface or apology !

I was born in a little cabin on the borders of Meath and
King's County : it stood on a small triangular bit of ground,
beside a cross road ; and although the place was surveyed
every ten years or so, they were never able to say to which
county we belonged ; there being just the same number of
arguments for one side as for the other ; a circumstance,
many believed, that decided my father in his original choice
of the residence ; for while, under the " disputed boundary
question," he paid no rates or county cess, he always made a
point of voting at both county elections ! This may seem to
indicate that my parent was of a naturally acute habit ; and
indeed the way he became possessed of the bit of ground will
confirm that impression.

There was nobody of the rank of gentry in the parish, nor

B



2 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CBEGAN.

even " squireen ; " the richest being a farmer, a snug old fel-
low, one Henry M'Cabe, that had two sons, who were always
fighting between themselves which was to have the old man's
money. Peter, the elder, doing everything to injure Mat, and
Mat never backward in paying off the obligation. At last
Mat. tired out in the struggle, resolved he would bear no
more. He took leave of his father one night, and next day
set off for Dublin, and 'listed in the " Buffs." Three weeks
after, he sailed for India ; and the old man, overwhelmed by
grief, took to his bed, and never arose from it after.

Not that his death was any way sudden, for he lingered on
for months long ; Peter always teasing him to make his will,
and be revenged on " the dirty spalpeen " that disgraced the
family : but old Harry as stoutly resisting, and declaring
that whatever he owned should be fairly divided between
them.

These disputes between them were well known in the
neighbourhood. Few of the country people passing the house
at night but had overheard the old man's weak reedy voice,
and Peter's deep hoarse one, in altercation. When, at last
it was on a Sunday night all was still and quiet in the house ;
not a word, not a footstep, could be heard, no more than if it
were uninhabited, the neighbours looked knowingly at each
other, and wondered if the old man was worse if he were
dead !

It was a little after midnight that a knock came to the
door of our cabin. I heard it first, for I used to sleep in a
little snug basket near the fire ; but I didn't speak, for I was
frightened. It was repeated still louder, and then came a
cry " Con Cregan ; Con, I say, open the door ! I want you."
I knew the voice well ; it was Peter M'Cabe's ; but I pre-
tended to be fast asleep, and snored loudly. At last my
father unbolted the door, and I heard him say, " Oh, Mr.
Peter, what's the matter ? is the ould man worse ? "

" Faix that's what he is! for he's dead ! "

" Glory be his bed ! when did it happen ? "

" About an hour ago," said Peter, in a voice that even I
from my corner could perceive was greatly agitated. " He
died like an ould haythen, Con, and never made a will ! "

" That's bad," says my father, for he was always a polite
man, and said whatever was pleasing to the company.

"It is bad,''' said Peter; "but it would be worse if we
couldn't help it. Listen to me now, Corny, I want ye to help
me in this business ; and here's five guineas in goold, if ye
do what I bid ye. You know that ye were always reckoned



A PEEP AT MY FATHEE. 8

the image of my father, and before he took ill ye were mis-
taken for each other every day of the week."

" Anaii ! " said my father ; for he was getting frightened at
the notion, without well knowing why.

" Well, what I want is, for ye to come over to the house,
and get into the bed."

" Not beside the corpse ? " said my father, trembling.

" By no means ; but by yourself; and you're to pretend to
be my father, and that ye want to make yer will before ye
die ; and then I'll send for the neighbours, and Billy Scanlan
the schoolmaster, and ye'll tell him what to write, laving all
the farm and everything to me, ye understand. And as
the neighbours will see ye, and hear yer voice, it will never
be believed but that it was himself that did it."

" The room must be very dark," says my father.

" To be sure it will, but have no fear ! Nobody will dare
to come nigh the bed ; and ye'll only have to make a cross
with yer pen under the name."

" And the priest ? " said my father.

" My father quarrelled with him last week about the Easter
dues : and Father Tom said he'd not give him the ' rites : '
and that's lucky now ! Come along now, quick, for we've no
time to lose : it must be all finished before the day breaks."

My father did not lose much time at his toilet, for he just
wrapped his big coat 'round him, and slipping on his brogues,
left the house. I sat up in the basket and listened till they
were gone some minutes ; and then, in a costume as light as
my parent's, set out after them, to watch the course of the
adventure. I thought to take a short cut, and be before
them ; but by bad luck I fell into a bog-hole, and only
escaped being drowned by a chance. As it was, when I
reached the house, the performance had already begun.

I think I see the whole scene this instant before my eyes,
as I sat on a little window with one pane, and that a broken
one, and surveyed the proceeding. It was a large room, at
one end of which was a bed, and beside it a table, with
physic-bottles, and spoons, and teacups ; a little farther off
was another table, at which sat Billy Scanlan, with all manner
of writing materials before him. The country people sat two,
sometimes three, deep round the walls, all intently eager and
anxious for the coming event. Peter himself went from
place to place, trying to smother his grief, and occasionally
helping the company to whisky which was supplied with
more than accustomed liberality.

All my consciousness of the deceit and trickery could not

B 2



4 THE CONFESSIONS OP CON CBEOAN.

deprive the scene of a certain solemnity. The misty distance
of the half-lighted room ; the highly-wrought expression of
the country people's faces, never more intensely excited than
at some moment of this kind ; the low, deep-drawn breathings,
unbroken save by a sigh or a sob the tribute of affectionate
sorrow to some lost friend, whose memory was thus forcibly
brought back : these, I repeat it, were all so real, that, as I
looked, a thrilling sense of awe stole over me, and I actually
shook with fear.

A low faint cough, from the dark corner where the bed
stood, seemed to cause even a deeper stillness ; and then in a
silence, where the buzzing of a fly would have been heard,
my father said, " Where's Billy Scanlan ? I want to make
my will ! "

"He'a here, father ! " said Peter, taking Billy by the hand
and leading him to the bedside.

" Write what I bid ye, Billy, and be quick ; for I hav'n't a
long time afore me here. I die a good Catholic, though
Father O'Rafferty won't give me the ' rites ! ' '

A general chorus of muttered " Oh ! musha, musha," was
now heard through the room ; but whether in grief over the
sad fate of the dying man, or the unflinching severity of the
priest, is hard to say.

" I die in peace with all my neighbours and all man-
kind ! "

Another chorus of the company seemed to approve these
charitable expressions.

" I bequeath unto my son, Peter, and never was there a
better son, or a decenter boy ! have you that down ? I
bequeath unto my son, Peter, the whole of my two farms
of Killimundoonery and Knocksheboora, with the fallow
meadows behind Lynch's house ; the forge, and the right of
turf on the Dooran bog. I give him, and much good may it
do him, Lanty Cassarn's acre, and the Luary field, with the
limekiln ; and that reminds me that my mouth is just as
dry ; let me taste what ye have in the jug." Here the dying
man took a very hearty pull, and seemed considerably re-
freshed by it. "Where was I, Billy Scanlan?" says he;
" oh, I remember, at the limekiln ; I leave him that's Peter,
I mean the two potato-gardens at Noonan's Well ; and it is
the elegant fine crops grows there."

" An't you gettin' wake, father, darlin'? " says Peter; who
began to be afraid of my father's loquaciousness ; for, to say
the truth, the punch got into his head, and he was greatly
disposed to talk.



A EEP AT MY FATHER. 5

" I am, Peter, my son," says he ; "I am getting wake ;
just touch, my lips again with the jug. Ah, Peter, Peter, you
watered the drink ! "

" No, indeed, father ; but it's the taste is leavin' you," says
Peter ; and again a low chorus of compassionate pity mur-
mured through the cabin.

"Well, I'm nearly done now," says my father: "there's
only one little plot of ground remaining ; and I put it on
you, Peter, as ye wish to live a good man, and die with the
same easy heart I do now, that ye mind my last words to
ye here. Are ye listening ? Are the neighbours listening ?
Is Billy Scanlan listening ? "

"Yes, sir. Yes, father. We're all minding," chorused the
audience.

" Well, then, it's my last will and testament, and may
give me over the jug," here he took a long drink " and
may that blessed liquor be poison to me if I'm not as eager
about this as every other part of my will ; I say, then, I
bequeath the little plot at the cross-roads to poor Con Cregan ;
for he has a heavy charge, and is as honest and as hard-
working a man as ever I knew. Be a friend to him, Peter,
dear ; never let him want while ye have it yourself ; think
of me on my death-bed whenever he asks ye for any trifle.
Is it down, Billy Scanlan ? the two acres at the cross to Con
Cregan, and his heirs in secla seclorum. Ah, blessed be the
saints! but I feel my heart lighter after that," says he; "a
good work makes an easy conscience ; and now I'll drink all
the company's good health, and many happy returns "

What he was going to add, there's no saying ; but Peter,
who was now terribly frightened at the lively tone the sick
man was assuming, hurried all the people away into another
room, to let his father die in peace.

When they were all gone, Peter slipped back to my father,
who was putting on his brogues in a corner : " Con," says
he, "ye did it all well; but sure that was a joke about the
two acres at the cross."

" Of course it was, Peter," says he ; " sure it was all a
joke for the matter of that : won't I make the neighbours
laugh hearty to-morrow when I tell them all about it ! "

"You wouldn't be mean enough to betray me?" says
Peter, trembling with fright.

" Sure ye wouldn't be mean enough to go against yer father's
dying words?" says my father ; "the last sentence ever he
spoke;" and here he gave a low wicked laugh, that made
myself shake with fear.



6 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CKEGAN.

" Very well, Con ! " says Peter, holding out his hand ; " a
bargain's a bargain ; yer a deep fellow, that's all ! " and so
it ended ; and my father slipped quietly home over the bog,
mighty well satisfied with the legacy he left himself.

And thus we became the owners of the little spot known
to this day as Con's Acre ; of which, more hereafter.



CHAPTER II.

ANOTHER PEBP AT MY FATHER.

MY father's prosperity had the usual effect it has in similar
cases. It lifted him into a different sphere of companion-
ship, and suggested new habits of life. No longer neces-
sitated to labour daily for his bread, by a very slight exercise
of industry he could cultivate his" potato-garden;" and every
one who knows anything of Ireland, well knows that the
potato and its corollary the pig, supply every want of an
Irish cottier household.

Being thus at liberty to dispose of himself and his time,
my parent was enabled to practise a long-desired and much-



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