Charles James Lever.

Lord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time online

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courage in life, and attribute to the want of will what we well know
lies in the want of power.

Last of all lie bethought himself of this mau Donogau, a dangerous
fellow in a certain way, and one whoso companionship must be got
rid of at any price. Plotting over in his mind how this should be done
in the morning, he at last fell fast asleep.

So overcome was he by slumber, that he never awoke when that
venerable institution, called the College woman — the hag whom the
virtue of unerring dons insists on imposing as a servant on resident
students — entered, made up the fire, swept the room, and arranged the
breakfast-table. It was only as she jogged his arm to ask him for an
additional penny to buy more milk, that he awoke and remembered
where he was.

DICK Kearney's chambers. 157

"Will I get yer honer a bit of bacon?" asked she in a tone
intended to be insinuating.

" Whatever you like," said he, drowsily.

*' It's himself there likes a rasher — when he can get it," said
she, with a leer, and a motion of her thumb towards the adjoining

"Whom do you mean ?" asked he, half to learn what and how
much she knew of his neighbour.

" Oh ! don't I know him well ? — Dan Donogan," replied she, with
a gi'in. " Didn't I see him in the dock with Smith O'Brien in '48,
and wasn't he in trouble again after he got his pardon ; and won't he
always be in trouble ? "

" Hush ! don't talk so loud," cried Dick warningly.

" He'd not hear me now if I was screechin' ; it's the only time
he sleeps hard ; for he gets up about three or half-past — before it's
day — and he squeezes through the bars of the window, and gets out
into the Park, and he takes his exercise there for two hours, most of
the time running full speed and keeping himself in fine wind. Do
you know what he said to me the other day ? ' Molly,' says he,
* when I know I can get between those bars there, and run round
the College Park in three minutes and twelve seconds, I feel that
there's not many a jail in Ireland can howld, and the divil a
policeman in the island could catch me.' " And she had to lean
over the back of a chair to steady herself while she laughed at the

" I think, after all," said Kearney, " I'd rather keep out of the
scrape than trust to that way of escaping it."

" He wouldn't," said she. " He'd rather be seducin' soldiers in
Barrack Street, or swearing in a new Fenian, or nailing a death-
warnin' on a hall-door, than he'd be lord mayor ! If he wasn't in
mischief he'd like to be in his grave."

" And what comes of it all ?" said Kearney, scarcely giving any
exact meaning to his words.

" That's what I do be saying myself," cried the hag. " When
they can transport you for singing a ballad, and send you to pick
oakum for a green cravat, it's time to take to some other trade than
patriotism ! " And with this reflection she shufiled away, to procure
the materials for breakfast.

The fresh rolls, the watercress, n couple of red herrings devilled
as those ancient damsels are expert in doing, and a smoking dish of
rashers and eggs, flanked by a hissing tea-kettle, soon made their
appearance, the hag assuring Kearney that a stout knock with tho
poker on the back of the grate would summon Mr. Donogan almost


instantaneously — so rapidly, indeed, and with such indifference as to
raiment, that, as she modestly declared, " I have to take to my heels
the moment I call him," and the modest avowal was confirmed by her
hasty departure.

The assurance was so far correct, that scarcely had Kearney
replaced the poker, when the door opened, and one of the strangest
figures he had ever beheld presented itself in the room. He was a
short thick-set man with a profusion of yellowish hair, which, divided
in the middle of the head, hung down on cither side to his neck —
beard and moustache of the same hue, left little of the face to be
seen but a pair of lustrous blue eyes, deep-sunken in their orbits, and
a short wide-nostrilled nose, which bore the closest resemblance to
a lion's. Indeed, a most absurd likeness to the king of beasts
was the impression produced on Kearney as this wild-looking
fellow bounded forward, and stood there amazed at finding a stranger
to confront him.

His dress was a flannel-shirt and trousers, and a pair of old
slippers which had once been Kearney's own.

"I was told by the College woman how I was to summon you,
Mr. Donogan," said Kearney, good-naturedly. " You are not ofiended
with the liberty?"

" Are you Dick ?" asked the other, coming forward.

" Yes. I think most of my friends know me by that name."

" And the old devil has told you mine ?" asked he, quickly.

" No, I believe I discovered that for myself. I tumbled over
Bome of your things last night, and saw a letter addressed to you."

"You didn't read it?"

" Certainly not. It fell out of your pocket-book, and I put it
back there,"

" So the old hag didn't blab on me ? I'm anxious about this,
because it's got out somehow that I'm back again. I landed at
Kcnmare in a fishing-boat from the New York Packet, the Osprcy, on
Tuesday fortnight, and three of the newspapers had it before I was a
week on shore."

" Our breakfast is getting cold ; sit down here and let me help
you. Will you begin with a rasher ? "

Not replying to the invitation, Donogan covered his plate with
bacon, and leaning his arm on the table, stared fixedly at Kearney.

" I'm as glad as fifty pounds of it," muttered he slowly to

" Glad of what ? "

" Glad that you're not a swell, Mr. Kearney," said he gravely.
*' ' The Honourable Piichard Kearney,' whenever I repeated that to

DICK Kearney's chambers. 159

myself it gave me a cold sweat. I thought of velvet collars and a
cravat with a grand pin in it, and a stuck-up creature behind both,
that wouldn't condescend to sit down with me."

" I'm sure Joe Atlee gave you no such impression of :me."

A short grunt that might mean anything was all the reply.

" He was my chum, and knew me better," reiterated the other.

" He knows many a thing he doesn't say, and he says plenty that
he doesn't know. ' Kearney will be a swell,' said I, ' and he'll turn
upon me just out of contempt for my condition.' "

" That was judging me hardly, Mr. Donogan."

" No, it wasn't ; it's the treatment the mangy dogs meet all the
world over. Why is England insolent to us, but because we're
poor — answer me that ? Are we mangy ? Don't you feel mangy ? —
I know Z do !"

Dick smiled a sort of mild contradiction, but said nothing.

" Now that I see you, Mr. Kearney," said the other, "I'm as
glad as a ten-pound note about a letter I wrote you ' '

" I never received a letter from you."

" Sure I know you didn't! haven't I got it here?" And he
drew forth a square-shaped packet and held it up before him. " I
never said that I sent it, nor I won't send it now : here's its present
address added he," as he threw it on the fire and pressed it down with
his foot.

" Why not have given it to me now ? " asked the other.

"Because three minutes will tell you all that was in it, and
better than writing; for I can reply to anything that wants an
explanation, and that's what a letter cannot. First of all, do you
know that Mr. Claude Barry, your county member, has asked for the
Chiltern, and is going to resign ?"

" No, I have not heard it."

" Well, it's a fact. They are going to make him a second secretaiy
somewhere, and pension him oS. He has done his work : he voted
an Arms Bill and an Insurrection Act, and he had the influenza when
the amnesty petition was presented, and sure no more could be expected
from any man."

" The question scarcely concerns me ; our interest in the county
is so small now, we count for very little."

" And don't you know how to make your influence greater ? "

" I cannot say that I do."

" Go to the poll yourself, Richard Kearney, and be the member."

" You are talking of an impossibility, Mr. Donogan. First of all,
we have no fortune, no large estates in the county, with a wide
tenantry and plenty of votes ; secondly, we have no place amongst


the county families, as our old uame nud good blood might have given
us ; thirdly, we are of the wrong religion, and, I take it, with as wrong
polities ; and, lastly, we should not know what to do with the prize if
we had won it."

" "Wrong in evciy one of your propositions — wholly wrong," cried
the other. " The pai-ty that will send you in won't want to be bribed,
and they'll be proud of a man who doesn't overtop them with his
money. You don't need the big families, for you'll beat them.
Your religion is the right one, for it will give you the Priests ; and
your politics shall be Repeal, and it will give you the Peasants ; and
as to not knowing what to do when you're elected, are you so mighty
well off in life that you've nothing to wish for ? "

"I can scarcely say that," said Dick, smiling.

" Give me a few minutes' attention," said Donogan, " and I
think I'll show you that I've thought this matter out and out ; indeed,
before I sat down to write to you, I went into all the details."

And now, with a clearness and a fairness that astonished Kearney,
this strange-looking fellow proceeded to prove how he had weighed
the whole difficulty, and saw how, in the nice balance of the two great
parties who would contest the seat, the Repealer would step in and
steal votes from both.

He showed not only that he knew eveiy barony of the county, and
every estate and property, but that he had a clear insight into the
different localities where discontent prevailed, and places where there
was something more than discontent.

" It is down there," said he significantly, " that I can be useful.
The man that has had his foot in the dock, and only escaped having
his head in the noose, is never discredited in Ireland. Talk parliament
and parliamentary tactics to the small shopkeepers in Moate, and leave
me to talk treason to the people in the bog."

"But I mistake you and your friends gi-eatly," said Kearney,
*' if these were the tactics you always followed ; I thought that you
were the physical force party, who sneered at constitutionalism and
only believed in the pike."

" So wo did, so long as we saw O'Connell and the lawyers
working the game of that grievance for their own advantage, and
teaching the English Government how to rule Ireland by a system of
concession to them and to their friends. Now, however, we begin to
perceive that to assault that heavy bastion of Saxon intolerance, we
must have spies in the enemy's fortress, and for this we send in so
many members to the Whig party. There are scores of men who
will aid us by their vote who would not risk a bone in our cause.
Theirs is a sort of subacute patriotism; but it has its use. It

DICK Kearney's chambers. 161

smashes an Establislied Cliurch, breaks clown Protestant ascendancy,
destroys the prestige of lauded property, and will in time abrogate
entail and primogeniture, and many another fine thing ; and in this
way it clears the ground for our operations, just as soldiers fell trees
and level houses lest they interfere with the range of heavy artillery."

" So that the place you would assign me is that very honourable
one you have just called a * spy in the camp ? ' "

*' By a figure I said that, Mr. Kearney; but you know well
enough what I meant was, that there's many a man will help us on
the Treasury benches, that would not turn out on Tallaght ; and we
want both. I won't say," added he, after a pause, " I'd not rather
see you a leader in our ranks than a Parliament man. I was bred a
doctor, Mr. Kearney, and I must take an illustration from my own
art. To make a man susceptible of certain remedies, you are often
obliged to reduce his strength and weaken his constitution. So it is
here. To bring Ireland into a condition to be bettered by Repeal,
you must crush the Church and smash the bitter Protestants. The
Whigs will do these for us, but we must help them. Do you under-
stand me now ?"

*' I believe I do. In the case you speak of, then, the Govern-
ment will support my election."

" Against a Tory, yes; but not against a pure Whig — a thorough-
going supporter, who would bargain for nothing for his country, only
something for his own relations."

" If your project has an immense fascination for me at one
moment, and excites my ambition beyond all bounds, the moment I
turn my mind to the cost, and remember my own poverty, I see
nothing but hopelessness."

" That's not my view of it, nor when you listen to me patiently
will it, I believe, be yours. Can we have another talk Dver this in
the evening ?"

" To be sure ! we'll dine here together at six."

" Oh, never mind me, think of yourself, Mr. Kearney, and your
own engagements. As to the matter of dining, a crust of bread and
a couple of apples are fully as much as I want or care for."

" We'll dine together to-day at six," said Dick, " and bear in
mind I am more interested in this than you are."





As they were about to sit clown to dinner on that day, a telegram,
re-directed from Kilgobbin, reached Kearney's hand. It bore the
date of that morning from PImnuddm Castle, and was signed " Atlee."
Its contents were these: — "H. E. wants to mark the Kilgobbin
defence with some sign of approval. What shall it be ? Reply by

" Read that, and tell us what you think of it."

" Joe Atlce at the Viceroy's castle in Wales ! " cried the other.
" We're going up the ladder hand over head, Mr. Kearney ! A week
ago his ambition was bounded on the south by Ship Street, and on
the east by the Lower Castle Yard."

" How do you understand the despatch ? " asked Keai'ney, quickly.

" Easily enough. His Excellency wants to know what you'll
have for shooting down three — I think they were three — Irishmen."

" The fellows came to demand arms, and with loaded guns in
their hands."

" And if they did ! Is not the first right of a man the weapon
that defends him ? He that cannot use it or does not possess it, is
a slave. By what prerogative has Kilgobbin Castle, within its walls,
what can take the life of any, the meanest, tenant on the estate ?"

" I'm not going to discuss this with you ; I think I have heard
most of it before, and was not impressed when I did so. What I
asked w^as, what sort of a recognition one might safely ask for and
reasonably expect ? "

" That's not long to look for. Let them support you in the
county. Telegraph back, ' I'm going to stand, and, if I get in, M'ill
be a Whig, whenever I am not a Nationalist. Will the party stand
by me ? ' "

" Scarcely with that programme."

" And do you think that the priests' nominees, who are three-
lourths of the Irish Members, oiler better terms ? Do you imagine
that the men that crowd the Whig lobby have not reserved their
freedom of action about the Pope, and the Fenian prisoners, and the
Orange processionists ? If they were not free so far, I'd ask you
with the old Duke, How is her Majesty's Government to be carried

Kearney shook his head in dissent.

" And that's not all," continued the other ; " but you must write


to the papers a flat contraJiction of that shooting story. You must
either declare that it never occurred at all, or was done by that youn»
scamp from the Castle, who happily got as much as he gave."

" That I could not do," said Kearney, firmly.

" And it is that precisely that you must do," rejoined the other.
" If you go into the House to represent the popular feeling of Irish-
men, the hand that signs the roll must not be stained with Irish

" You forget ; I was not within fifty miles of the place."

" And another reason to disavow it. Look here, Mr. Kearney :
if a man in a battle was to say to himself, I'll never give any but a
fair blow, he'd make a mighty bad soldier. Now, public life is a
battle, and worse than a battle in all that touches treachery and
falsehood. If you mean to do any good in the world, to yourself and
your country, take my word for it, you'll have to do plenty of things
that you don't like, and, what's worse, can't defend."

" The soup is getting cold all this4ime. Shall we sit down ?"

*' No, not till we answer the telegram. Sit down and say what
I told you."

" Atlee will say I'm mad. He knows I have not a shilling in
the world."

" Riches is not the badge of the representation," said the other.

" They can, at least, pay the cost of the elections."

" Well, we'll pay ours, too — not all at once, but later on ; don't
fret yourself about that."

" They'll refuse me flatly."

" No, we have a lien on the fine gentleman with the broken arm.
What would the Tories give for that story, told as I could tell it to
them ? At all events, whatever you do in life, remember this — that
if asked your price for anything you have done, name the highest,
and take nothing if it's refused you. It's a waiting race, but I never
knew it fail in the end."

Kearney despatched his message, and sat down to the table, far
too much flurried and excited to care for his dinner. Not so his
guest, who ate voraciously, seldom raising his head and never uttering
a word. " Here's to the new member for King's County," said he
at last, and he drained ofl" his glass ; " and I don't know a pleasantcr
way of wishing a man prosperity than in a bumper. Has your father
any polities, 'Mr. Kearney ? "

" He thinks he's a Whig, but, excc[.t hating the Established
Church and having a print of Lord Russell over the fireplace, I don't
know he has other reason for the opinion."

"All right; there's nothing finer for a young man entering


public life than to be able to sneer at his father for a noodle. That's
the practical ^vay to show contempt for the wisdom of our ancestors.
There's no appeal the public respond to with the same certainty as
that of the man who quarrels with his relations for the sake of his
principles, and whether it be a change in your politics or your
religion, they're sure to uphold you."

" If diflering with my father will ensure my success, I can afford
to be confident," said Dick, smiling.

" Your sister has her notions about Ireland, hasn't she ? "

" Yes, I believe she has ; but she fancies that laws and acts of
parHameut are not the things in fault, but ourselves and our modes
of dealing with the people, that were not often just, and were always
capricious. I am not sure how she works out her problem, but I
believe we ought to educate each other ; and that in turn, for teaching
the people to read and write, there are scores of things to be learned
from them."

"And the Greek girl?" •

" The Greek girl " — began Dick, haughtily, and with a manner
that betokened rebuke, and which suddenly changed as he saw that
nothing in the other's manner gave any indication of intended freedom
or insolence — " The Greek is my first cousin, Mr. Donogan," said
he calmly ; " but I am anxious to know how you have heard of her,
or indeed of any of us."

" From Joe — Joe Atlee ! I believe we have talked you over —
every one of you — till I know you all as well as if I lived in the
castle and called you by your Christian names. Do you know, Mr.
Kearney " — and his voice trembled now as he spoke — " that to a
lone and desolate man like myself, who has no home, and scarcely a
country, there is something indescribably touching in the mere picture
of the fireside, and the family gathered round it, talking over little
homely cares and canvassing the changes of each day's fortune. I
could sit here half the night and listen to Atlee telling how you lived,
and the sort of things that interested you."

" So that you'd actually like to look at us ? "

Donogan' s eyes grew glassy, and his lips trembled, but he could
not utter a word.

"So you shall then," cried Dick, resolutely. "We'll start
to-morrow by the early train. You'll not object to a ten-miles' walk,
and we'll arrive for dinner."

" Do you know who it is you are inviting to your father's house ?
Do you know that I am an escaped convict, with a price on my head
this minute ? Do you know the penalty of giving me shelter, or
even what the law calls comfort ? "


" I know this, that in the heart off the Bog of Allen, you'll bo far
safer than in the city of Dublin ; that none shall ever learn who you
are, nor, if they did, is there one — the poorest in the place — would
betray you."

" It is of you, sir, I'm thinking, not of me," said Donogan calmly.

" Don't fret yourself about us. We are well known in our county,
and above suspicion. Whenever you yourself should feel that your
presence was like to be a danger, I am quite willing to believe you'd
take yourself off."

" You judge me rightly, sir, and I'm proud to see it ; but how
are you to present me to your friends ? "

"As a College acquaintance — a friend of Atlee's and of mine —
a gentleman who occupied the room next me. I can surely say that
with truth."

" And dined with you every day since you knew him. Why not
add that ? "

He laughed merrily over this conceit, and at last Donogan said,
" I've a little kit of clothes — something decenter than these — up in
Thomas Street, No. 13, Mr. Kearney ; the old house Lord Edward
was shot in, and the safest place in Dublin now, because it is so
notorious. I'll step up for them this evening, and I'll be ready to
start when you like."

" Here's good fortune to us, whatever we do next," said Kearney,
filling both their glasses ; and they touched the brims together, and
clinked them, before they drained them.


"on the leads."

Kate Keaeney's room was on the top of the castle, and " gave " by
a window over the leads of a large square tower. On this space she
had made a little garden of a few flowers, to tend which was one of
what she called " her dissipations."

Some old packing-cases, filled with mould, sufficed to nourish a
few stocks and carnations, a rose or two, and a mass of mignonette,
which possibly, like the children of the poor, grew up sturdy and
healthy from some of the adverse circumstances of their condition.
It was a very favourite spot with her ; and if she came hither in her
happiest moments, it was here also her saddest hours were passed,
sui'e that in the cares and employments of her loved plants, she would


find solace and consolation. It was at this window Kate now sat
with Nina, looking over the vast plain, on which a rich moonlight
was streaming, the shadows of fast-flitting clouds throwing strange
and fanciful effects over a space almost wide enough to he a prairie.

" What a deal have mere names to do with our imaginations,
Nina!" said Kate. "Is not that houndless sweep hefore us as
fine as your hoastcd Campagna ? Does not the night- wind career
over it as joj'fully, and is not the moonlight as picturesque in its
breaks by turf-clamp and hillock as by ruined wall and tottering
temple ? In a word, are not we as well here, to drink in all this
delicious silence, as if we were sitting on your loved Pincian ? "

" Don't ask me to share such heresies. I see nothing out there
but bleak desolation. I don't know if it ever had a past; I can
almost swear it will have no future. Let us not talk of it."

" What shall we talk of? " asked Kate, with an arch smile.

"You know well enough what led me up here. I want to hear
what you know of that strange man Dick brought here to-day to

" I never saw him before — never even heard of him."

" Do you like him? "

" I have scarcely seen him."

" Don't be so guarded and reserved. Tell me frankly the impres-
sion he makes on you. Is he not vulgar — very vulgar ? "

' ' How should I say, Nina ? Of all the people you ever met,
who knows so little of the habits of society as myself ? Those lino
gentlemen who were here the other day shocked my ignorance by
numberless little displays of indifference. Yet I can feel that they
must have been paragons of good breeding, and that what I believed
to be a veiycool self-sufficiency was in reality the very latest London
version of good manners."

" Oh, you did not like that charming carelessness of Englishmen
that goes where it likes and when it likes, that does not wait to be
answered when it questions, and only insists on one thing, which is —
* not to be bored.' If you knew, dearest Kate, how foreigners school
themselves, and strive to catch up that insouciance, and never
succeed — never! "

" My brother's friend certainly is no adept in it."

Online LibraryCharles James LeverLord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time → online text (page 17 of 48)