Charles James Lever.

Maurice Tiernay : the soldier of fortune online

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University of California.







€]^e ^oimer of jfortune*





Copp'ight, 1894,
Bv Little, Brown, and Company.

Wini\3tmtjj ^xtss:
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge. U.S.A.


The strangeness of some of the incidents, and the
rapidity with which events so remarkable succeeded
each other, almost deterred the writer from ever com-
mitting them to the press ; nor was it till after much
consultation and some persuasive influence on the part
of friends that he at length yielded, and decided upon
so doing. Whether in that determination liis choice
was a wise one, must be left to the judgment of the
reader: for himself he has but to say, that to ponder
over some of these early scenes, and turn over in
thought some of his youthful passages, has solaced
many a weary hour of an age when men make few new
friendships, and have almost as few opportunities to
cultivate old ones.

That the chief events related in these pages — such,
for instance, as every detail of the French invasion, the
capture of Wolfe Tone, and the attack on Monte di
Faccio — are rigidly exact, the writer is most sincere in
the expression of his conviction ; for the truth of inci-
dent purely personal it is needless to press any claim,
seeing that he was this hero — owns no higher name
than that of a Soldier of Fortune.



Chafteb Page

I. " The Days of the Guillotine '* 1

n. The Restaurant '' au Scelerat " 22

III. The "Temple" 36

IV. " The Night of the Ninth Thermidor " . . 47
V. The Choice of a Life 55

VI. " The Army Sixty Years Since " 64

VII. A Passing Acquaintance 81

VIII. "Tronchon" 88

IX. A Scrape and its Consequences 94

X. An Aristocratic Republican 109

XI. "The Passage of the Rhine" 115

XII. "A Glance at Staff Duty" 128

XIII. A Farewell Letter 138

XIV. A Surprise and an Escape 146

XV. Scraps of History 155

XVI. "An Old General of the Irish Brigade" . 161

XVII. La Rochelle 171

XVIII. " The Bay of Rathfran " 180

XIX. A "Reconnaissance" 192


XXI. Our Allies 209

XXn. The Day of "Castlebar" 217

XXIII. " The Town-Major of Castlebar " .... 229

XXIV. " The Mission to the North " 239

XXV. A Passing Visit to Killala 250

XXVI. A Remnant of " Fontenoy " 258

XXVn '< The Cranagh " 272


Chapteb Page

XXVIII. Some Xew Acquaintances 279

XXIX. " The Breakfast at Letterkenny "... 288

XXX. Scene in the Royal Barracks 293

XXXI. A Brief Change of Life and Country . 301

XXXII. " The Athol Tender " 320

XXXIII. A Bold Stroke for Fame and Fortune . 333

XXXIV. " Genoa in the Siege ".....,.. 340
XXXV. A Novel Council of War 348

XXXVI. Genoa during the Siege ....... 359

XXXVII. Monte di Faccio 368

XXXVIII. A Royalist "de la Vieille Roche" ... 375

XXXIX. "A Sorrowful Parting" 388

XL. " The Chateau of Ettenheim " 399

XLI. An "Ordinary" Acquaintance 410

XLII. The "Count de Maurepas," alias , . 425

XLIII. A Forest Ride 434

XLIV. An Episode of '94 455

XLV. The Cabinet of a Chef-de-Police . . • 467

XL VI. A Glance at the "Prefecture de Police" 474

XL VII. " The Village of Schwartz- Ach " ... 481

XL VIII. " A Village Syndicus " 489

XLIX. "A Lucky Meeting" 501

L. The March on Vienna 508

LI. « SCHONBRUNN " IN 1809 525

LII. "KoMORN Forty Years Ago" 534

LIII. A Loss AND A Gain 541

LIV. Maurice Tiernay's " Last Word and

Confession " 550


The Guillotine Frontispiece

" The Coneusion was tremendous " 77

Maurice and General Massena 342

Maurice Tiernay and Napoleon 524


That I am simpl}^ recording a matter of fact, the patent
of my ancestor's nobility, now in my possession, will suffi-
ciently attest ; nor is its existence the less conclusive that it
is inscribed on the back of his commission as a captain in
the Shanabogue Feucibles, — the well-known " Clear-the-
way-boys ; " a proud title, it is said, to which they imparted
a new reading at the memorable battle afore-mentioned.

The document bears the address of a small public-house
called the Nest, on the Kells road, and contains in one corner
a somewhat lengthy score for potables, suggesting the notion
that his Majesty sympathized with vulgar infirmities, and
found, as the old song says, "that grief and sorrow are

The prudence which for some years sealed my grand-
father's lips lapsed, after a time, into a careless and even
boastful spirit, in which he would allude to his rank in the
peerage, the place he ought to be holding, and so on ; till at
last some of the Government people, doubtless taking a
liking to the snug house and demesne of Timmahoo, de-
nounced him as a rebel, — on which he was arrested and
thrown into jail, where he lingered for many years, and only
came out at last to find his estate confiscated and himself a

There was a small gathering of Jacobites in one of the
towns of Flanders, and thither he repaired ; but how he lived,
or how he died, I never learned. I only know that his son
wandered away to the east of Europe, and took service in
what was called Trenck's Pandom'S, — as jolly a set of rob-
bers as ever stalked the map of Europe, from one side to the
other. This was my grandfather, whose name is mentioned
in various chronicles of that estimable corps, and who was
hanged at Prague afterwards for an attempt to carry off an
archduchess of the empire, — to whom, by the wa^^, there is
good reason to believe he was privately married. This sus-
picion was strengthened by the fact that his infant child
Joseph was at once adopted by the imperial famil}^, and
placed as a pupil -in the great military school of Vienna.
From thence he obtained a commission in the Maria Theresa
Hussars, and subsequently, being sent on a private mission
to France, entered the semce of Louis XVI., where he mar-


ried a lady of the Queen's household, — a Mademoiselle de
la Lasterie, — of high rank and some fortune ; and with
whom he lived happily till the dreadful events of 17 — , when
she lost her life beside my father, then fighting as a Garde
du Corps, on the staii'case at Versailles. How he himself
escaped on that day, and what were the next features in his
history, I never knew ; but when again we heard of him, he
was married to the widow of a celebrated orator of the Moun-
tain, and he himself an intimate friend of St. Just and Marat
and all the most violent of the Republicans.

My father's history about this period is involved in such
obscurity, and his second marriage followed so rapidly on the
death of his first wife, that, strange as it may seem, I never
knew which of the two was my mother, — the lineal descend-
ant of a house noble before the Crusades, or the humble hour-
geoise of the Quartier St. Denis. What peculiar line of
political action my father followed I am unable to say, nor
whether he was suspected with or without due cause ; but
suspected he certainly was, and at a time when suspicion
was all-sufficient for conviction. He was arrested, and thrown
into the Temple, where I remember I used to visit him every
week ; and whence I accompanied him one morning, as he
was led forth with a string of others, to the Place de la Greve
to be guillotined. I believe he was accused of royalism ; and
I know that a white cockade was found among his effects,
and in mockery was fastened on his shoulder on the day of
his execution. This emblem, deep dyed with blood and still
dripping, was taken up by a bystander and pinned on my
cap, with the savage observation, " Voila! it is the proper
color; see that you profit by the way it became so." As,
with a bursting heart and a head wild with terror, I turned
to find my way homeward, I felt my hand grasped by' another.
I looked up, and saw an old man, whose threadbare black
clothes and emaciated appearance bespoke the priest in the
times of the Convention.

" You have no home now, my poor boy," said he to me ;
" come and share mine."

I did not ask him why. I seemed to have suddenly become
reckless as to everything present or future. The terrible
scene I had witnessed had dried up all the springs of my


youthful heart ; and, infant as I was, I was abeady a sceptic
as to everything good or generous in human nature. I
followed him, therefore, without a word, and we walked on,
leaving the thoroughfares and seeking the less frequented
streets, till we arrived in what seemed a subui'ban part of
Paris, — at least the houses Avere surrounded with trees and
shi'ubs ; and at a distance I could see the hill of Montmartre
and its windmills, objects well known to me by many a
Sunda}' visit.

Even after my own home, the poverty of the Pere Michel's
household was most remarkable. He had but one small room,
of which a miserable settle-bed, two chau'S, and a table con-
stituted all the furniture ; there was no fireplace, a little pan
for charcoal supplying the only means for warmth or cookery ;
a crucifix and a few colored prints of saints decorated the
whitewashed walls, and with a string of w'ooden beads, a
cloth skull-cap, and a bracket with two or three books, made
up the whole inventory of his possessions ; and yet, as he
closed the door behind him and drew me towards him to
kiss my cheek, the tears glistened in his eyes with gratitude
as he said, —

" Now, my dear Maurice, you are at home."

" How do you know that I am called Maurice? " said I, in

" Because I was an old friend of your poor father, my
child. We came from the same country ; we held the same
faith, had the same hopes, and may one day yet, perhaps,
have the same fate."

He told me that the closest friendship had bound them
together for years past, and in proof of it showed me a
variety of papers which my father had entrusted to his
keeping, — well aware, as it would seem, of the insecurity of
his own life.

"He charged me to take you home with me, Maurice,
should the day come when this might come to pass. You
will now live with me, and I will be your father, so far, at
least, as humble means will suffer me."

I was too young to know how deep my debt of gratitude
ought to be. I had not tasted the sorrows of utter desertion,
nor did I know from what a hurricane of blood and anarchy


Fortune had rescued me ; still I accepted the Pore's benevo-
lent offer with a thankful heart, and turned to him at once
as to all that was left to me in the world.

All this time, it may be wondered how I neither spoke nor
thought of my mother, if she were indeed such; but for
several weeks before my father's death I had never seen her,
nor did he ever once allude to her. The reserve thus imposed
upon me remained sthl, and I felt as though it would have
been like a treachery to his memory were I now to speak of
her whom in his lifetime I had not dared to mention.

The P^re lost no time in diverting my mind from the
dreadful events I had so lately witnessed. The next morn-
ing, soon after daybreak, I was summoned to attend him to
the little church of St. Blois, where he said mass. It was a
very humble little edifice, which once had been the private
chapel of a chateau, and stood in a weed-grown, neglected
garden, where broken statues and smashed fountains bore
evidence of the visits of the destroyer. A rude effigy of St.
Blois, upon whom some profane hand had stuck a Phrygian
cap of liberty, and which none were bold enough to displace,
stood over the dooi'way ; except this, not a vestige of orna-
ment or decoration existed. The altar, covered with a white
cloth, displayed none of the accustomed emblems ; and
a rude crucifix of oak was the only symbol of the faith

Small as was the building, it was even too spacious for the
few who came to worship. The terror which prevailed on
every side — the dread that devotion to religion shoukl be
construed into an adherence to the monarchy, that submis-
sion to God should be interpreted as an act of rebellion
against the sovereignty of human will — had gradually
thinned the numbers, till at last the few who came were only
those whose afflictions had steeled them against any re-
verses, and who were ready martyrs to whatever might
betide them. These were almost exclusively women, — the
mothers and wives of those who had sealed then- faith with
their blood in the terrible Place de la Greve. Among them
was one whose dress and appearance, although not different
from the rest, always created a movement of respect as she
passed in or out of the chapel. She was a very old lady,


with hair white as snow, and who led by the hand a little
girl of about my own age, — her large dark eyes and bril-
liant complexion giving her a look of unearthly beauty in
that assemblage of fuiTOwed cheeks, and eyes long dimmed
by weeping. It was not alone that her featui-es were beau-
tifully regular, or that their lines were fashioned in the very
perfection of symmetiy, but there was a certain character
in the expression of the face so different from all around
it as to be abnost electi'ical in effect. Untouched by the
teiTible calamities that weighed on every heart, she seemed,
m the glad buoyancy of her youth, to be at once above the
very reach of soitow, — like one who bore a chaiTQed fate,
and whom Fortune had exempted from all the tiials of this
life. So at least did I read those features, as they beamed
upon me in such a contrast to the almost stem character of
the sad and sorrow-struck faces of the rest.

It was a part of my duty to place a footstool each morning
for the 'Olarquise," as she was distinctively called, and on
these occasions it was that I used to gaze upon that Uttle
gu-rs face with a kind of admii'ing wonder that lingered in
my heart for houi'S after. The bold look with which she
met mine, if it at first half abashed, at length encouraged
me ; and as I stole noiselessly away, I used to feel as though
I earned with me some poiiion of that high hope which
bounded within her own heart. Sti'ange magnetism! it
seemed as though her spmt whispered to me not to be
down-hearted or depressed, that the sorrows of life came
and went as shadows pass over the earth, that the season
of mourning was fast passing, and that for us the world
would wear a brighter and more glorious aspect.

Such were the thoughts her dark eyes revealed to me, and
such the hopes I caught up from her proud featm-es.

It is easy to color a life of monotony ; any hue may soon
tinge the outer sm-face, and thus mine speedily assumed a
hopeful cast, not the less decided that the distance was lost
in vague uncertainty. The nature of my studies — and the
Pere kept me rigidly to the desk — offered little to the dis-
cursiveness of fancy. The rudiments of Greek and Latin,
the lives of saints and martyrs, the litanies of the Church,
the invocations peculiar to certain holy days, chiefly filled


up my time when not sharing those menial offices which our
poverty exacted from our own hands.

Oui- life was of the very simplest. Except a cup of coffee
each morning at daybreak, we took but one meal ; our drink
was always water. By what means even the humble fare
we enjoyed was procm-ed I never knew, for I never saw
money in the Pere's possession, nor did he ever appear to
buy anything.

For about two houi's in the week I used to enjoy entu-e
liberty, as the Pere was accustomed every Saturday to visit
certain persons of his flock who were too infirm to go abroad.
Ou these occasions he would leave me with some thoughtful
injunction about reflection or pious meditation, perhaps sug-
gesting for my amusement the life of St. Vincent de Paul,
or some other of those adventurous spkits whose missions
among the Indians are so replete with heroic struggles, but
still with free permission for me to walk out at large and
enjoy myself as I liked best. VTe lived so near the outer
boulevard that I could akeady see the open country from
our windows ; but fair and enticing as seemed the sunny
slopes of Montmartre, bright as glanced the young leaves of
spring in the gardens at its foot, I ever turned my steps
into the crowded city, and sought the thoroughfares where
the great human tide rolled fullest.

There were ceitain spots which held a kind of supernatural
influence over me ; one of these was the Temple, another was
the Place de la Greve. The window at which my father used
to sit, from which as a kind of signal I have so often seen
his red kerchief floating, I never could pass now without
stopping to gaze at, — now, thinking of him who had been
its inmate ; now, wondering who might be its present occu-
pant. It needed not the onward cm-rent of population that
each Satm'day bore along, to carry me to the Place de la
Greve. It was the great day of the guillotine, and as many
as two hundred were often led out to execution. Although
the spectacle had now lost every charm of excitement to the
population from its frequency, it had become a kind of
necessity to their existence, and the sight of blood alone
seemed to slake that feverish thu-st for vengeance which no
sufferings appeared capable of satiating. It was rare, how-


ever, when some great and distinguished criminal did not
absorb all the interest of the scene. It was at that period
when the fierce tyrants of the Convention had tui'ned upon
each other, and sought, by denouncing those who had been
then' bosom friends, to seal their new allegiance to the people.
There was something demoniacal in the exultation with
which the mob witnessed the fate of those whom, but a few
weeks back, they had acknowledged as then* guides and
teachers. The uncertainty of human greatness appeared the
most glorious recompense to those whose station debarred
them from all the enjoyments of power ; and the}^ stood by
the death-agonies of then- former friends with a fiendish joy
that all the sufferings of then- enemies had never yielded.

To me the spectacle had all the fascination that scenes of
horror exercise over the mind of j^outh. I knew nothing of
the teiTible conflict, nothing of the fierce passions enlisted
in the struggle, nothing of the sacred names so basely pol-
luted, nothing of that remorseless vengeance with which the
low-born and degraded were still hounded on to slaughter.
It was a solemn and a fearful sight, but it was no more ; and
I gazed upon every detail of the scene with an interest that
never wandered from the spot whereon it was enacted. If
the parade of soldiers, of horse, foot, and artillery, gave these
scenes a character of public justice, the horrible mobs who
chanted ribald songs and danced around the guillotine sug-
gested the notion of popular vengeance ; so that I was lost
in all my attempts to reconcile the reasons of these execu-
tions with the circumstances that accompanied them.

Not daring to inform the Pere Michel of where I had
been, I could not ask him for au}^ explanation ; and thus was
I left to pick up from the scattered phrases of the crowd
what was the guilt alleged against the criminals. In many
cases the simple word Chouan^ of which I knew not the
import, was all I heard ; in others jeering allusions to former
rank and station would be uttered ; while against some the
taunt would imply that they had shed tears over others who
fell as enemies of the people, and that such sympathy was a
costly pleasure to be paid for but with a life's-blood. Such
entire possession of me had these awful sights taken, that I
lived in a continual dream of them. The sound of every


cart-wheel recalled the dull rumble of the hurdle, every dis-
tant sound seemed like the far-off hum of the coming multi-
tude, every sudden noise suggested the clanking drop of the
guillotine ! My sleep had no other images, and I wandered
about my little round of duties pondering over this terrible

Had I been less occupied with my own thoughts, I must
have seen that the Pere Michel was suffering under some
great calamity. The poor priest became wasted to a shadow ;
for entu-e days long he would taste of nothing ; sometimes
he would be absent from early morning to late at night, and
when he did return, instead of betaking himself to rest, he
would drop down before the crucifix in an agony of prayer,
and thus spend more than half the night. Often and often
have I, when feigning sleep, followed him as he recited the
litanies of the breviary, adding my own unuttered prayers
to his, and beseeching for a mercy whose object I knew

For some time his little chapel had been closed by the
authorities, — a heavy padlock and two massive seals being
placed upon the door, and a notice in a vulgar handwriting
appended, to the effect that it was by the order of the Com-
missaiy of the Department. Could this be the soui*ce of
the Pere's soitow, or did not his affliction seem too great
for such a cause, were questions I asked myself again and

In this state were matters, when one morning, it was a
Saturday, the Pere enjoined me to spend the day in prayer,
reciting particularly the litm-gies for the dead, and all those
sacred offices for those who have just departed this life.

" Pray unceasingly, my dear child, — pray with your whole
heart, as though it were for one you loved best in the world.
I shall not return, perhaps, till late to-night ; but I will kiss
you then, and to-morrow we shall go into the woods

The tears fell from his cheek to mine as he said this, and
his damp hand trembled as he pressed my fingers. My heart
was full to bursting at his emotion, and I resolved faithfully
to do his bidding. To watch him as he went, I opened the
sash ; and as I did so, the sound of a distant drum, the well-


known muffled roll, floated on the air, and I remembered it
was the day of the guillotine, — that day in which my fever-
ish spiiit turned, as it were in relief, to the reality of blood.
Remote as was the part of the city we lived in, I could still
mark the hastening steps of the foot-passengers, as they lis-
tened to the far-off summons, and see the tide was setting
towards the fatal Place de la Greve. It was a lowering,
heavy morning, overcast with clouds, and on its loaded
atmosphere sounds moved slowly and indistincth' ; yet I
could trace through all the din of the great city, the inces-
sant roll of the drums, and the loud shouts that burst forth
from time to time from some great multitude.

Forgetting everj^thing save my intense passion for scenes
of terror, I hastened down the stau's into the street, and at
the top of my speed hurried to the place of execution. As
I went along, the crowded streets and thronged avenues told
of some event of more than common interest; and in the
words which fell from those around me, I could trace that
some deep Royalist plot had just been discovered, and that
the conspirators would all on that day be executed. AVhether
it was that the frequent sight of blood was beginning to pall
upon the popular appetite, or that these wholesale massacres
interested less than the sight of indi\idual suffering, I know
not ; but certainly there was less of exultation, less of
triumphant scorn in the tone of the speakers. They talked
of the coming event as of a common occurrence, which, from
mere repetition, was gradually losing interest.

" I thought we had done with these Chouans," said a man
in a blouse, with a paper cap on his head. " Pardie! they
must have been more numerous than we ever suspected."

"That they were, citoyen^" said a haggard-looking fellow,
whose features showed the signs of recent strife ; " they were
the millions who gorged and fed upon us for centuries, who
sipped the red grape of Bordeaux while you and I drank the
water of the Seine."

" Well, their time is come now," cried a third.

" And when will ours come? " asked a fresh-looking, dark-
eyed girl, whose dress bespoke her trade as a flower-girl;
"or do you call this cur time, my masters, when Paris has
no more pleasant sight than blood, nor any music save the


pa iVa, that drowns the cries at the guillotine? Is this our
time, when we have lost those who gave us bread, and got
in their place only those who would feed us with carnage ? "

"Down with her! down with the Chouaue ! a has la

Online LibraryCharles James LeverMaurice Tiernay : the soldier of fortune → online text (page 1 of 47)