Charles James Lever.

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an explanation, which I need not trouble the reader by re-
capitulating, since it merely went the length I have already
related, save that he added, in conclusion, this important
piece of information.

" Your golden rule, in every difficulty, will then be, to
assure Mrs. Davis that you always did so, whatever it may
be, when you were living with Lord George, or Sir Charles,
or the Bishop of Drone. You understand me eh? "

" I think so, sir," said I, brightening up, and at the same
time stealing an illustration from my old legal practices.
" In Mrs. Davis' Court there are no precedents."

" Exactly, Con ; hit the nail on the very head, ray boy ! "

" It will not be a very difficult game, sir, if the guests are
like the mistress."

" So they are, for the most part ; now and then, you'll
have a military and naval officer at table, and you'll be obliged
to look out sharp, and not let them detect you ; but with
the skippers of merchantmen, dockyard people, storekeepers,
male and female, I fancy, you can hold your own."

" Why, sir, I hope they'll be satisfied with the qualification
that contented my former titled masters," said I, with a
knowing twinkle of the eye, he seemed to relish prodigiously,
and an assumed tone of voice, that suited well the part I was
to play.

" Come down below, now, and we'll write your characters
for you ; " and so he beckoned the others to accompany him
to the cabin, whither I followed them.

An animated debate ensued as to the number and nature of
the certificates I ought to possess. Some being of opinion
that I should have those of every kind and degree ; others
alleging that my age forbade the likelihood of my having
served in more than two or three situations.

" What say you to this, lads ? " said Pike, reading from a
rough and much-corrected draft before him.

" The bearer, Cornelius Cregan, has lived in my service ten
months as a page ; he is scrupulously honest, active, and in-
telligent, well acquainted with the duties of his station, and
competent to discharge them in the first families. I now
dismiss him at his own request. CECILIA MENDLESHAW."

" Gad ! I'd rather make him start as what they call in his
own country a ' Tay-boy,' " said Carrington, " one of those
bits of tarnished gold-lace and gaiters seen about the out-
skirts of Dublin."

" Your honour is right, sir," said I, " glad to show myself


above any absurd vanity on the score of my early beginning ;
a ' Tay-boy,' on the Rathmines road, able to drive a jaunting
car, and wait at table."

"That's the mark, I believe," said Pike. " Suppose, then,
\ve say, Con Cregan has served me twelve months, waited at
table, and taken care of a horse and car."

" Ah, sir ! " said I, sure an Irish gentleman with a ' Tay-
boy ' would be finer spoken than that. It would be, I certify
that Cornelius Cregau, who served in my establishment as
under butler, and occasionally assisting the coachman, is a
most respectable servant, well-mannered and respectful,
having always lived in high situations, and with the most
distinguished individuals."

"Ah, that's it," broke in Carrington ; " understands lamps,
and is perfectly competent to make jellies, soups, and

" Confound it, man ! you're making him a cook."

" By Jove, so I was ; it's so hard to remember what the
fellow is."

" I think we may leave it to himself," said Pike; " he seems
to have a very good notion of what is necessary ; so, Master
Con, write your own biography, my lad, and we'll give it all
the needful currency of handwriting and seal."

" It's a pity you're a Papist," said another, " or you could
have such a recommendation from a ' serious family,' I
know of, in Surrey."

" Never mind," rejoined the captain, " one signed ' P. 0.
Dowdlum, Bishop of Toronia,' will do even better in the
Lower Province."

" Exactly, sir ; and, as I used to serve mass once, I can
' come out strong ' about my early training with ' his
grace ! ' '

" Very well," said Pike ; " tell the tailor to take your
measure for the livery, and you'll wait on us to-day at
table." With this order I was dismissed to con over my
fictitious and speculate on my true " character."




As viewed from Diamond Harbour, a more striking city than
Quebec is seldom seen. The great rock rising above the
lower town, and crowned with its batteries, all bristling with
guns, seemed to my eyes the very realization of impregna-
bility. I looked from the ship that lay tranquilly on the
water below, and whose decks were thronged with blue
jackets to the Highlander who paced his short path as
sentry, some hundred feet high upon the wall of the fortress ;
and I thought to myself, with such defenders as these, that
standard yonder need never carry any other banner.

The whole view is panoramic. The bending of the river
shuts out the channel by which you have made your ap-
proach, giving the semblance of a lake on whose surface
vessels of every nation lie at anchor, some with the sails
hung out to dry, gracefully drooping from the taper spars;
others refitting again for sea, and loading the huge pine-
trunks, moored as vast rafts to the stern. There were people
everywhere ; all was motion, life, and activity. Jolly-boats
with twenty oars, man-of-war gigs bounding rapidly past
them with eight ; canoes skimming by without a ripple, and
seemingly without impulse, till you caught sight of the loung-
ing figure who lay at full length in the stern, and whose
red features were scarce distinguishable from the coppered-
coloured bark of his boat. Some moved upon the rafts, and
even on single trunks of trees, as, separated from the mass,
they floated down on the swift current, boat-hook in hand, to
catch at the first object chance might offer them. The quays,
and the streets leading down to them, were all thronged;
and, as you cast your eye upwards, here and there above
the tall roofs might be seen the winding flight of stairs that
lead to the upper town, alike dark with the moving tide of
men. On every embrasure and gallery, on every terrace and
platform, it was the same. Never did I behold such a human

Now, there was something amazingly inspiriting in all this,
particularly when coming from the solitude and monotony of


a long voyage. The very voices that ye-hoed; the hoarse
challenge of the sentinels on the rock ; the busy hum of the
town made delicious music to my ear; and I could have
stood and leaned over the bulwark for hours to gaze at the
scone. I own no higher interest invested the picture, for I
was ignorant of Wolfe. I had never heard of Montcalm ;
the plains of " Abra'rn" were to me but grassy slopes, and
" nothing more." It was the life and stir the tide of that
human ocean, on which I longed myself to be a swimmer
these were what charmed me. Nor was the deck of the old
Hampden inactive all the while, although seldom attracting
much of my notice. Soldiers were mustering, knapsacks
packing, rolls calling, belts buffing, and coats brushing on all
sides; men grumbling; sergeants cursing; officers swearing;
half-dressed invalids popping up their heads out of hatch-
ways, answering to wrong names, and doctors ordering them
down again with many an anathema ; soldiers in the way of
sailors, and sailors always hauling at something that inter-
fered with the inspection-drill ; every one in the wrong
place, and each cursing his neighbour for stupidity.

At last the shore-boats boarded us, as if our confusion
wanted anything to increase it. Bed-faced harbour-masters
shook hands with the skipper and pilot, and disappeared into
the " round-house " to discuss grog and the late gales.
Officers from the garrison came out to welcome their friends
for it was the second battalion we had on board of a regi-
ment whose first had been some years in Canada and then
what a rush of inquiries were exchanged. " How's the
Duke? " " All quiet in England ? " " No signs of war in
Europe ? " " Are the 8th come home ? " " Where's Forbes ? "
" Has Davern sold out ? " with a mass of such small in-
terests as engage men who live in coteries.

Then there were emissaries for newspapers, eagerly hunt-
ing for spicy rumours not found in the last journals; waiters
of hotels, porters, boatmen, guides, Indians with moccasins to
sell, and a hundred other functionaries bespeaking custom
and patronage ; and, although often driven over the side most
ignominiously at one moment, certain to reappear the next at
the opposite gangway.

How order could ever be established in this floating Babel
I knew not, and yet at last all got into train somehow.

First one large boat crammed with men, who sat even on
the gunwales, moved slowly away; then another and another
followed; a lubberly thing, half lighter half jolly-boat, was
soon loaded with baggage amid which some soldiers' wives


and a scattering population of babies were seen ; till by de-
grees the deck was cleared, and none remained of all that
vast multitude, save the "mate" and the "watch;" who
proceeded to get things " ship-shape," pretty much in the
same good-tempered spirit servants are accustomed to put
the drawing-rooins to rights, after an entertainment which
has kept them up till daylight, and allows of no time for
sleep. Till then I had not the slightest conception of what
a voyage ended meant, and that when the anchor dropped
from the bow a scene of bustle ensued to which nothing at
sea bore any proportion. Now, I had no friends no one
came to welcome me none asked for my name. The officers,
even the captain, in the excitement of arriving, had forgotten
all about me ; so that when the mate put the question to me,
" why I didn't go ashore ? " I had no other answer to give
him than the honest one, " that I had nothing to do when I
got there." " I suppose you know how to gain a livin' one
way or t'other, my lad ? " said he, with a very disparaging
glance out of the corner of his eye.

"1 am ashamed to say, sir, that I do not."

" Well, I never see'd Picaroons starve, that's a comfort you
have ; but as we don't mean to mess you here, you'd better
get your kit on deck, and prepare to go ashore."

Now the kit alluded to was the chest of clothes given to
me by the captain, which, being bestowed for a particular
purpose, and with an object now seemingly abandoned or
forgotten, I began to feel scruples as to my having any claim
to. Like an actor whose engagement had been for one part,
I did not think myself warranted in carrying away the ward-
robe of my character ; besides, who should tell how the captain
might resent such conduct on my side. I might be treated as
a thief! I, Con Cregan, who had registered a solemn vow
in my own heart to be a " gentleman : " such an indignity
should not be entertained even in thought. Yet was it very
hard for one in possession of such an admirable wardrobe to
want a dinner for one so luxuriously apparelled on the
outside, to be so lamentably unprovided within. From the
solution of this knotty question I was most fortunately
preserved by the arrival of a corporal of the th, who came
with an order from Captain Pike, that I should at once repair
to his quarters in the Upper Town.

Not being perhaps in his captain's confidence, nor having
any very clear notion of my precise station in life for
I was dressed in an old cloak and a foraging cap the
corporal delivered his message to me with a military salute,


and a certain air of deference very grateful to my feel-

" Have you a boat alongside, corporal ? " said I, as I
lounged listlessly on the binnacle.

" Yes, sir ; a pair of oars will that do ? "

" Yes, that will do," replied I, negligently ; " see iny traps
safe on board, and tell me when all's ready."

The corporal saluted once more, and went to give the
necessary directions : meanwhile the mate, who had been a
most amazed spectator of the scene, came over and stood
right opposite me, with an expression of the most ludicrous
doubt and hesitation. It was just at that moment that, in
drawing the cloak round me, I discovered in a pocket of it
an old cigar-case. I took it out with the most easy non-
chalance, and leisurely striking a light, began smoking away,
and not bestowing even a glance at my neighbour.

Astonishment had so completely gotten the better of the
man, that he could not utter a word ; and I perceived that
he had to look over the side, where the boat lay, to assure
himself that the whole was reality.

" All right, sir," said the corporal, carrying his hand to
his cap.

I arose languidly from my recumbent position, and followed
the soldier to the gangway ; then turning slowly around, I
surveyed the mate from head to foot, with a glance of mild
but contemptuous pity, while I said, " In your station, my
good man, the lesson is perhaps not called for, since you may
rarely be called on to exercise it ; but I would wish to observe,
that you will save yourself much humiliation, and consider-
able contempt, by not taking people for what they seem by
externals." With this grave admonition, delivered in a halt-
theatrical tone of voice, I draped my "toga/' so as to hide
any imperfection of my interior costume, and descended
majestically into the boat.

When we reached the barrack, which was in the Upper
Town, the captain was at mess ; but had left orders that I
should have my dinner, and be ready at his quarters, in my
full livery, in the evening.

I dined, very much to my satisfaction, on some of tho
" debris" of the mess ; and under the auspices of the captain's
servant, arrayed myself in my new finery, which, I am free
to confess, presented what artists would call " a flashy bit of
colour ;" being far more in the style of Horace Vernet than
Van Dyke. Had the choice been given me, I own I should
have preferred wooing Fortune in more sombre habiliments :


but this was a mere minor consideration and so I felt, as I
found myself standing alone in the captain's sitting room,
and endeavouring to accustom myself to my own very showy
identity, as reflected in a large cheval glass, which exhibited
me down to the very buckles of my shoes.

I will not affirm it positively, but only throw it out as a
hint, that the major part of a decanter of sherry, which I
discussed at dinner, aided in lifting me above the paltry con-
sideration of mere appearance, and made me feel what I have
often heard ragged vagabonds in the streets denominate,
" the dignity of a man." By degrees, too, I not only grew
reconciled to the gaudy costume, but began strange
accommodation of feeling actually to enjoy its distinctive

" There are young gentlemen, Con," said I, in soliloquy,
" many are there who would look absurd merry-andrews if
dressed in this fashion. There are fellows to whom this kind
of thing would be a sore test ! These bright tints would play
the very devil with their complexion not to mention that
every one's legs couldn't afford such publicity ! But Con, my
friend, you have a natural aptitude for every shade of colour,
and for every station and condition. Courage, my boy !
although in the rear rank at present, you'll march in the van
yet. Nature has been gracious with you, Mr. Cregan ! " said
I, warming with the subject, while with my hands deep down
in my coat-pockets, I walked backward and forward before
the glass, stealing sidelong glances at myself as I passed ;
" there are fellows who, born in your station, would have died
in it, without a bit more influence over their fate in this life
than a Poldoody oyster ; they'd vegetate to the end of existence,
and slip out of the world, as a fellow shirks out of a shebeen-
house when he hasn't tu'pence for another ' dandy' of punch.
Not so with you, Con Cregan ! You have hydrogen in you
you have the buoyant element that soars above the vulgar
herd. These are not the partial sentiments of a dear friend,
Con ; they are the current opinions of the world about you.
How soon the ' Captain ' saw what stuff you were made of.
How long was old Pike in detecting the latent powers of
your intellect?" What a shout of laughter followed these
words ! It came from half a dozen officers, who, having
entered the room during my apostrophe, had concealed them-
selves behind a screen to listen to the peroration.

They now rushed out in a body, and throwing themselves
into chairs and upon sofas, laughed till the very room rang
with the clamour, the captain himself joining in the emotion


with all his heart. As for me, however self-satisfied but one
moment back, I was humbled to the very earth now ; the
vauntings by which I had been soothing my vanity were
suddenly turned into scoffs and sneers at my self-conceit, and
I actually looked to see if I could not leap out of the window,
and never be seen by one of the party again. The window,
however, was barred the door was unapproachable there
was a fire in the grate and so, as escape was denied me, I
at once abandoned a plan which I saw unfeasible ; and with
a quickness to which I owe much in life, immediately adopted
an opposite tactic. Assuming a deferential position, I drew
back towards the wall, to be laughed at, as long as the honour-
able company should fancy it.

" So, Mr. Cregan, " cried one, drying his eyes with his
handkerchief, " modesty is one of those invaluable gifts with
which nature has favoured you ? "

" I sincerely trust it may be no bar to your advancement,"
said another.

" Rather cruel," added a third, " to be balked for such a
mere trifle."

"I say, Pike," added another, "I rather envy you the
insinuated flattery of your discrimination. It would seem
that you detected the precious metal here at once."

" What country do you come from, boy? " said a hard-
featured old officer, who had laughed less than the others.

"How can you ask, Chudleigh ? " said another; "there's
only one land rears that plant."

" There's a weed very like it in Scotland, M'Aldine," said
the captain, with a grin which the last speaker did not half

" You're Hirish, ain't you ? " said a very boyish-looking
ensign, with sore eyes.

" Yes, sir."

"Very much so, I fancy," said he, laughing as though he
had been very droll.

" I always heard your countrymen had wings ; what has
become of them ? ''

" I believe we used to have, sir; but the English plucked
us," said I, with a look of assumed simplicity.

" And what is all that about the Blarney stone ? " said
another ; " isn't there some story or other about it ? "

" It's a stone they kiss in my country, sir, to give us a
smooth tongue."

" I don't see the great use of that," rejoined he, with a
stupid look.


" It's mighty useful at times, sir," said I, with a half
glance towards Captain Pike.

" You're too much, gentlemen, far too much for my poor
friend Con," said the captain : " you forget that he's only a
poor Irish lad. Come, now, let us rather think of starting
him in the world, with something to keep the devil out of
his pocket." And with this kind suggestion, he chucked a
dollar into his cap ; and then commenced a begging tour of
the room, which, I am ready to confess, showed the company
to be far more generous than they were witty.

" Here, Master Con," said he, as he poured the contents
into my two hands, " here is wherewithal to pay your footing
at Mrs. Davis's. As a traveller from the old country, you'll
be expected to entertain the servants' hall do it liberally ;
there's nothing like a bold push at the first go off."

" I know it, sir ; my father used to say that the gentleman
always won his election who made most freeholders drunk the
first day of the poll."

" Your father was a man of keen observation, Con."

" And is, sir, still, with your leave, if kangaroo meat hasn't
disagreed with him, and left me to sustain the honours of
the house."

"Oh, that's it, Con, is it? " said Captain Pike, with a sly

" Yes, sir, that's it," said I, replying more to his look than
his words.

" Here's the letter for Mrs. Davis you'll present it early
to-morrow ; be discreet keep your own counsel, and I've no
doubt you'll do well."

" I'd be an ungrateful vagabond, if I made your honour
out a false prophet," said I; and bowing respectfully to the
company, 1 withdrew.

" What a wonderful principle of equilibrium exists be-
tween one's heart and one's pocket ! " thought I, as I went
downstairs. " I never felt the former so light as now that the
latter is heavy."

I wandered out into the town, somewhat puzzled how to
dispose of myself for the evening. Had I been performing
the part of a " walking gentleman," I fancied I could have
easily hit upon some appropriate and becoming pastime. A
theatre there was one in the " Lower Town " and a tavern
afterwards, would have filled the interval before it was time
to go to bed. " Time to go to bed ! " strange phrase ! born
of a thousand-aud-one conventionalities. For some, that
time comes when the sun has set, and with its last beams of



rosy light reminds labour of the coming morrow. To some
it is the hour when wearied faculties can do no more when
tired intellect falters "by the way," and cannot keep the
" line of march." To others, it comes with dawning light,
and when roses and rouge look ghastly ; and to others,
again, whose " deeds are evil," it is the glare of noon-day.

Now, as for me, I was neither wearied by toil nor pleasure ;
no sense of past fatigue no anticipation of coming exertion
invited slumber ; nay, I was actually more wakeful than
I had been during the entire evening, and I felt a most im-
pulsive desire for a little social enjoyment that kind of
intercourse with strangers, which I always remarked had the
effect of eliciting my own conversational qualities, to a degree
that astonished even myself.

In search of some house of entertainment some public
resort I paced all the streets of the Upper Town, but to no
purpose. Occasionally, lights in a drawing-room, and the
sound of a piano, would tell where some small evening party
was assembled ; or now and then, from a lower story, a
joyous roar of laughter, or the merry chorus of a drinking-
song, would bespeak some after-dinner convivialities ; but to
mingle in scenes like these, I felt that I had yet a long road
to travel ay, to pass muster in the very humblest of those
circles, what a deal had I to learn ! How much humility,
how much confidence ; what deference, and what self-
reliance ; what mingled gravity and levity ; what shades and
gradations of colour, so nicely balanced and proportioned
too, that, unresolved by the prism, they show no preponder-
ating tint make up that pellucid property men call
" Tact ! " Ay, Con, that is your rarest gift of all ! only
acquire that, and you may dispense with ancestry, and
kindred, and even wealth itself; since he who has "tact"
participates in all these advantages, " among his friends."

As I mused thus, I had reached the " Lower Town," and
found myself opposite the door of a tavern, over which a
brilliant lamp illuminated the sign of " The British Grena-
dier," a species of canteen, in high favour with sergeants and
quarter-masters of the garrison. I entered boldly, and with
the intention of behaving generously to myself; but scarcely
had I passed the threshold, than I heard a sharp voice utter
in a half- whisper, " Dang me, if he an't in livery ! "

I did not wait for more. My "tact" assured me that
even there I was not admissible ; so I strolled out again,
muttering to myself, " When a man has neither friend nor
supper, and the hour is past midnight, the chances are it is


4 time to go to bed ;' " and with this sage reflection, I wended
my way towards a humble lodging-house on the quay,
over which on landing I read the words, " The Emigrant's



FOR the sake of conciseness in this veracious history, I prefer
making the reader acquainted at once with facts and indivi-
duals, not by the slow process in which the knowledge of
them was acquired by myself, but in all the plenitude which
intimate acquaintance now supplies ; and although this may
not seem to accord with the bit-by-bit and day-by-day nar-
rative of a life, it saves a world of time, some patience, and
mayhap some skipping too. Under this plea, I have already
introduced Sir Dudley Broughton to the reader ; and now,
with permission, mean to present Mrs. Davis.

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 5) → online text (page 15 of 50)