Charles James Lever.

The O'Donoghue : a tale of Ireland fifty years ago online

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(XI



THE O'DONOGHUE




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THE



O'DO N O G H U E



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BY

CHARLES LEVER

AUTHOR OP "CHARLES O'mALLEY"



IV/Tff ILLUSTRATIONS



LONDON

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS, Limited

Broadway, Ludgate Hill

GLASGOW, MANCHESTER, AND NEW YORK



> fi -i ^t



CHARLES LEVER'S WORKS.


THE "HARRY LORREQURR" EDITION.


Itt Crovm Zvo, with Illustrations.


Harry Lorrequer.


The Dodd Family, vol. 1.


Jack Hinton.


The Dodd Family, vol. a.


Charles O'Malley, vol. I.


Luttrell of Arran.


Charles O'Malley, vol. •.


Davenport Dunn, vol. t.


Con Cregan.


Davenport Dunn, vol. a.


The O'Donoghue.


The Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly.


Tom Buike, vol. i.


Lord Kilgobbin.


Tom Burke, voL a.


The Martins of Cro' Martin, voL i.


One of Them,


The Martins of Cro' Martin, vol. a.


The Daltons, vol. t»


That Boy of Norcott's.


The Daltons, vol. 2.


I'he Fortunes of Glencore.


The Knight of Gwynne, Tol I.


Sir Jasper Carew.


Th"^ Knight of Gwynne, vol %.


Maurice Tiemay.


Artha- 'O'Leary.


A Day's Ride : A Life's Romanot.


Roland Cashel, voL z.


Tony Butler.


Roland CasV.el, >cl. u>


Sir Brooke Fosbrooki


SaJiiDgtoo.


Horace Templetoo.






PEEFACE.



It was in wandering through the south of Ireland 1 came
to visit the wild valley of Glenflesk — a scene of loneliness
^; and desolation, with picturesque beauty, I have never seen
surpassed. The only living creature I met for miles of the
way was a very old man, whose dress and look bespoko
extreme poverty, but who, on talking with him, I dis-
covered to be the owner of four cows that were grazing on
the rocky sides of the cliff. He had come some miles, he
told me, to give the cows the spare herbage that cropped
up amidst the granite boulders. As I had seen no house
nor trace of habitation as I came along, I was curious to
know where he lived, but his answer, as he pointed to the
mountain, was, " There, alone," and this with evident
unwillingness to be more freely communicative.

Though not caring to be interrogated, nor, like most
Irish peasants, much disposed to have a talk with a
stranger, he made no scruple to ask for alms, and pleaded
his wretched rags — and they were very miserable — as a



VI PREFACE.

proof of Ills poverty. I did not think that the pittance I
gave him exactly warranted me in asking how the owner
of the cows we saw near us could be in that condition of
want he represented ; at all events, I preferred not to dash
the pleasure I was giving him by the question. We parted,
therefore, on good terms ; but some miles farther on in the
Glen I learned from a woman, who was " beelling " her
clothes in the river, that " ould Mat," as she called him,
was one of the most well-to-do farmers in that part of the
county, that he had given his daughters, of whom he had
several, good marriage portions, and that his son was
a thriving attorney in the town of Tralee. " Maybe,
yer honer's heard of him," said the woman — "Tim
O'Donoghue."

It was no new thing to me to know the Ii'ish peasant in
his character of a hoarder and a saver. There is no one
trait so indicative of the Celt as acquisitiveness, nor does
Eastern story contain a man more given to the castle-
building that grows out of some secret hoard — however
small — than Paddy. He is to add half an acre to his
potato garden, or to buy another pig, or to send the " gos-
soon " to a school in the town, or to pay his passage to
New York. This tendency to construct a future, so strong
in the Irish nature, has its rise in a great reliance on what
he feels to be the goodness of God : a firm conviction that
all his struggles are watched and cared for, and that every
little turn of good fortune has been given iiim by some



PREFACE. Vll

especial favour, lies deep in his nature, and suggests an
amount of hope to him which a less sanguine spirit could
never have conceived.

"While I thought over the endless contrarieties of this
mysterious national character, where good and evil eter-
nally lay side by side, I wondered within myself whether
the new civilization of later years was likely to be suc-
cessful in dealing with men whose temperaments and
manners were so unlike the English, or were we right in
extinguishing the old feudalism that bound the peasant to
the landlord before we had prepared each for the new rela-
tions of mere gain and loss that were in future to subsist
between them ?

Between the great families — the old houses of the land
and the present race of proprietors — there lay a couple of
generations of men who, with all the traditions and many
of the pretensions of birth and fortune, had really become
in ideas, modes of life, and habits, very little above the
peasantry around them. They inhabited, it is true, the
"great house," and they were in name the owners of the
soil ; but, crippled by debt and overborne by mortgages,
they subsisted in a shifty conflict with their creditors,
rack-renting their miserable tenants to maintain it. Sur-
vivors of everything but pride of family, they stood there
like the stumps, blackened and charred, the last remnants
of a burnt forest, their proportions attesting the noble
growth that had preceded them.



VUl PKEFACE.

What would the descendants of these men prove when,
destitute of fortune and helpless, they were thrown upon a
world that actually regarded them as blamable for the un-
happy condition of Ireland ? Would they stand by " their
order" in so far as to adhere to the cause of the gentry?
or would they share the feelings of the peasant to whose
lot they had been reduced, and charging on the Saxon the
reverses of their fortune, stand forth as rebels to England ?

Here was much for speculation and something for story.
For an opening scene what could I desire finer than the
gloomy gi^andeur and the rugged desolation of Glenflesk,
and if some patches of bright verdure here and there
gleamed amidst the barrenness — if a stray sunlight lit up
the granite cliffs and made the heather glow, might there
not be certain reliefs of human tenderness and love to show
that no scene in which man has a part is utterly destitute
of those affections whose home is the heart. I had now
got my theme and my locality. For my name I took the
O'Donoghue : it had became associated in my mind with
Glenflesk, and would not be separated from it.

Here, then, in one word, is the history of this book. If
the performance bears but slight relation to the intention
—if, indeed, my story seems to have little reference to what
suggested it — it will be only another instance of a way-
wardness which has beset me through life, and left mo
never sure when I started for Norway that I might not
find myself in Naples.



PREFACE c ix

It is not necessary, perhaps, for me to say that no
character in this tale was drawn from a model. I began
the story, in so far as a few pages went, at a little inn at
Killarney, and I believe I stole the name of Kerry O'Leary
from one of the boatmen on the lake, but, so far as I am
aware, it is tbe only theft in the book. I believe that the
very crude notions of an English tourist for the betterment
of Ireland, and some exceedingly absurd comments he
made me on the habits of people which an acquaintance-
ship of three weeks enabled him to pronounce on, provoked
me to draw the character of Sir Marmaduke, but I can
declare that the traveller aforesaid only acted as tinder to
a mine long prepared, and afforded me a long-sought-for
opportunity — not for exposing, for I did not go that far —
but for touching on the consummate effrontery with which
a mere passing stranger can settle the difficulties and de-
termine the remedies for a country, in which the resident
sits down overwhelmed by the amount and utterly despair-
ing of a solution.

I have elsewhere recorded that I have been blamed for
the fate I reserved for Kate O'Donoghue, and that she
deserved something better than to have her future linked
to one who was so unworthy of her in many ways. Till I
re-read the story after a long lapse of years, I had believed
that this charge was better founded than I am now dis-
posed to think it. First of all, judging from an Irish point
of view, I do not consent to regard Mark O'Donoghue as



X PREFACE.

a bad fellow. The greater number of bis faults were the
results of neglected training, irregular — almost utter want
of — education, and the false position of an heir to a pro-
perty so swamped by debt as to be valueless. I will not
say these are the ingredients which go to the formation of
a very regular life or a very perfect husband, but they
might all of them have made a worse character than Mark's
if he had not possessed some very sterling qualities as a
counterbalance. Secondly, I am not of those who think
that the married life of a man is but the second volume
of his bachelor existence. I rather incline to believe that
he starts afresh in life under circumstances very favourable
to the development of whatever is best, and to the ex-
tinguishment of what is worst, in him. That is, of course,
•where he marries well, and where lie allies himself to
qualities of temper and tastes which will serve as the com-
plement or, at times, the correctives of his own. Now
Kate O'Donoghue would instance what I mean in this
case.

Then I keep my best reason for the last — they liked
each other — this, if not a guarantee for their future happi-
ness, is still the best "martingale " the game of marriage
admits of.

I am free to own that the book I had in my head to write
was a far better one than I have committed to paper, but
as that is a sort of event that has happened to better men
than myself, I bear it as one of the accidents that author-



PKEFACE. XI

sliip is heir to. At all events, my Public received it with
favour, and I can now — after an interval of close on thirty
years — recall with warm gratitude the reception it met
with.

A French critic — one far too able to have his dicta
lightly despised — has sneered at my making a poor igno-
rant peasant child find pleasure in the resonance of a
Homeric verse, but I could tell him of barefooted boys in
the south, running errands for a scanty subsistence, with
a knowledge of classical literature which would puzzle
many a gowned student to cope with. If the improba-
bilities of this volume went no further than this, it would
have been worthy of the reader's attention, and far more
grateful to the conscience of the author.

CHARLES LEVER.
Trieste, 1872.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER L

GtENPLESK .. - ......, i



CHAPTER U.
The Watsidb Inn ■/

CHAPTER III.
The " Cottage and the Castle "....., 14

CHAPTER IV.
Kerry O'Leabt 29

CHAPTER V.

rUPBESSIONS OF IRELAND • . . S9

CHAPTER VI.
"The Black Vauet" .48



Xiv CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VII.

PAGE

Sib Af.oht's Temper Tried < ,59



CHAPTER VIII.
The House of Sickness ,70

CHAPTER IX.
A Doctor's Visit , , , 77

CHAPTER X.
An Evenino at "Mart" M'Kelly's , . . , « 85

CHAPTER XL
Mistakes on All Sides ....•••• 103



CHAPTER XII.
The Glen at Midnioht 115



CHAPTER XIII.
*'The Guardsman" , . 124



CONTENTS. . XV



CHAPTER XIV.

TAGS

The Comments oh a Hueried Departukk .... 134



CHAPTER XV.
Some of the Pleasurks of Propkrtt , , . . . 141



CHAPTER XVL
The Foreign Letter .163



CHAPTliR XVII.
Kate O'Donoghub 138



CHAPTER XVIII,
A Hasty Pledge . » 172

CHAPTER XIX.
A Diplomatist Defeated . ,173



CHAPTER XX.
Temptation in a Weak Hodr , l&l



CHAPTER XXI.
The Return o/ auE Envoy 200



XVI CONTENTS,



CHAPTER XXII.

PAOB

A MoRNiNO Visit 20e



CHAPTER XXIIL
Some Opposite Tp.aits of CaARAciER . , . , ,213

CHAPTER XXIV.
A Walk by Moonlight • 229

CHAPTER XXV.
A Day op Difficult Negotiations ...... 234

CHAPTER XXVI.
A Last Etening at Houg . . , . . . .' 2lf

CHAPTER XXVIL
A Supper Party 254

CHAPTER XXVIII.
The Capital and its Pleasures 267

CHAPTER XXIX.
First Impressions 280



CONTENTS. XVll



CHAPTER XXX.

PAGE

Old Characters 'vhtu New Faces ....*. 287



CHAPTER XXXI.
Some Hints about Harei Talbot ...... 295

CHAPTER XXXII.
A Presage of Danger 205

CHAPTER XXXIII.
The St. Patrick's Ball 311

CHAPTER XXXIY.
TuE Daybreak on the Strand 330

CHAPTER XXXV.
The Wanderer's Return. ....... 342

CHAPTER XXXVI.
Spspicions on Every Side , .354

CHAPTER XXXVII.

Hemsworth's Letter 363

b



Xviu CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

PAOE

Tampering and Plottinq 370



CHAPTER XXXIX.
The Brothers 380

CHAPTER XL.
The Lull before the Stokm 387

CHAPTER XLL
A Discovert • • • 393

CHAPTER XLII.
The Sheauno 405

CHAPTER XLIIL
The Confkdkrates . . . * • • • • • »14

CHAPTER XLIV.
The Mountain at Sunrise ..»..•• 418

CHAPTER XLV.
The Progress of Treachery ....... 429



CONTENTS. XIX



CHAPTER XLVI.

PAGE

The Priest's Cottage . 438



CHAriER XLVII.
The Day of Reckoning 446

CHAPTER XLVIII.
The Glen and the Bay 460



1

CHAPTER XLIX.

The End , , ... 477



/x ■



J 1 O ^ ft



THE O'DONOGHUE:

^ ^nk jof IrHuutr j;fi% g^ars ^00.



CHAPTER I.



GLENFLESK,



In that wild and picturesque valley which winds its wav
between the town of Macroom and Bantry Bay, and goes
by the name of Glenflesk, the chai'acter of Irish scenery is
perhaps more perfectly displayed than in any other tract of
the same extent in the island. The mountains, rugged and
broken, are singularly fanciful in their outline ; their sides
a mingled mass of granite and straggling herbage, where
the deep estgreen and the red purple of the heath-bell are
blended harmoniously together. The valley beneath, alter-
nately widening and narrowing, presents one rich meadow
tract, watered by a deep and rapid stream, fed by a thousand
rills that come tumbling and foaming down the mountain
sides, and to the traveller are seen like white streaks
marking the dark surface of the precipice. Scarcely a hut
is to be seen for miles of this lonely glen, and save for the
herds of cattle and the flocks of sheep here and there to be
descried, it would seem as if the spot had been forgotten
by man, and left to sleep in its own gloomy desolation.
The river itself has a character of wildness all its own —
now brawling over rugged rocks — now foaming between
high and narrow sides, abrupt as walls, sometimes flowing
over a ledge of granite, without a ripple on the surface — ■
then plunging madly into some dark abyss, to emerge
again lower down the valley in one troubled sea of foam

B



2 THE o'dONOGHUE.

and spray: its doll roar the only v^oice that echoes in the
mountain gorge.

Even where the hiimble roof of a soHtary cabin can
be seen, the- aspect of habitation rather heightens than
diminishes the feeling of lonehness and desolation around.
The thought of poverty enduring its privations unseen and
unknown, without an eye to mark its struggles, or a heart
to console its griefs, comes mournfully on the mind, and one
wonders what manner of man he can be who has fixed his
dwelling in such solitude.

In vain the eye ranges to catch sight of one human being,
save that dark speck be such which crowns the cliff, and
stands out from the clear sky behind. Yes, it is a child
watching the goats that are browsing along the mountain,
and as you look, the swooping mist has hidden him from
your view. Life of dreariness and gloom ! What sad and
melancholy thoughts must be his companions, who spends
the livelong day on these wild heaths, his eye resting on
the trackless waste where no fellow-creature moves ! how
many a mournful dream will pass over his mind ! what fear-
ful superstitions will creep in upon his imagination, giving
form and shape to the flitting clouds, and making the dark
shadows, as they pass, seem things of life and substance.

Poor child of sorrow ! How destiny has marked you
for misery ! Eor you no childish gambols in the sun— no
gay playfellow — no paddling in the running stream, that
steals along bright and glittering, like happy infancy — no
budding sense of a fair world, opening in gladness, but all
a dreary waste, the weariness of age bound up with the
terrors of childhood.

The sun was just setting on a mellow evening, late in
the autumn of a year towards the close of the last century,
as a solitary traveller sat down to rest himself on one of
the large rocks by the roadside ; divesting himself of his
gun and shot-pouch, he lay carelessly at his length, and
seemed to be enjoying the light breeze which came up
the valley.

He was a young and powerfully- biiilt man, whose well-
knit frame and muscular limbs showed how much habitual
exercise had contributed to make the steepest paths of the
mountain a task of ease to him. He was scarcely above
the middle height, but with remarkable breadth of chest.



GLENFLESX. 3

and that squareness of proportion wlncli indicates con-
siderable physical strength; his countenance, except for
a look of utter listlessness and vacuity, had been pleasing;
the eyes were large and full, and of the deep grey which
simulates blue ; the nose large and well formed ; the mouth
alone was unprepossessing — the expression it wore was of
ill-humour and discontent, and this character seemed so
habitual, that even as he sat thus alone and in solitude the
curl of the upper lip betrayed his nature.

His dress was a shooting-jacket of some coarse stuff,
stained and washed by many a mountain streamlet ; loose
trousers of grey cloth, and heavy shoes — such as are worn
by the peasantry, wherever such luxuries are attainable. It
would have been difficult, at a mere glance, to have decided
what class or condition of life he pertained to ; for, al-
though certain traits bespoke the person of a respectable
rank, there was a general air of neglect about him, that
half contradicted the supposition. He lay for some time
perfectly motionless, when the tramp of horses at a distance
down the glen suddenly roused him from his seeming
apathy, and resting on his elbow he listened attentively.
The sounds came nearer and nearer, and now the dull roll
of a carriage could be heard approaching. Strange noises
these in that solitary valley, where even the hoofs of a
single horse but rarely roused the echoes. A sudden dip
of the road at a little distance from where he lay con-
cealed the view, and he remained in anxious expectancy,
wondering what these sounds should portend, when sud-
denly the carriage seemed to have halted, and all was still.

For some minutes the youth appeared to doubt whether
he had not been deceived by some swooping of the wind
through the passes in the mountains, when the sound of
voices fell on his ear, and at the same moment two figures
appeared over the crest of the hill, slowly advancing up
the road. The one was a man advanced in years, but
still hale and vigorous in look ; his features, even yet
eminently handsome, wore an air of mingled frankness
and haughtiness ; there was in their expression the habitual
character of one accustomed to exert a degree of command
and influence over others — a look which, of all the char-
acteristics of temper, is least easily mistaken.

At his side walked one who, even at a passing glance,

B 2



THE o'dONOGHUE.



might be pronounced his daughter, so striking the resem-
blance between them. She did not seem above sixteen
years of age, but through the youthful traits of her
features you could mark the same character of expression
her father's wore, modified by tender beauty, which at
that age blends the loveliness of the girl with the graces of
womanhood. Rather above than below the middle height,
her figure had that distinguishing mark of elegance high
birth impresses, and in her very walk a quick observer
might detect an air of class,

They both stopped short as they gained the summit of
the hill, and appeared wonder-struck at the scene before
them. The grey gloom of twilight threw its sombre
shadows over . the valley, but the mountain peaks were
tipped with the setting sun, and shone in those rich violet
and purple hues the autumn heath displays so beautifully.
The dark-leaved holly and the bright arbutus blossom
lent their colour to every jutting cliff and promontory,
which, to eyes unacqiminted with the scenery, gave an
air of culture strangely at variance with the desolation
around.

" Is this wild enough for your fancy, Sybella," said the
father, with a playful smile, as he watched the varying ex-
pression of the young girl's features, " or would you desire
something still more dreary ? " But she made no answer.
Her gaze was fixed on a thin wreath of smoke that curled
its way upwards from what appeared a low mound of earth
in the valley below the road ; some branches of trees,
•covered with sods of earth, grass-grown and still green,
were heaped up together, and through these the vapour
found a passage and floated into the air.

" I am wondering what that fire can mean," said she,
j)ointing downwards with her finger.

" Here is some one will explain it," said the old man, as
for the first time he perceived the youth, who still main-
tained his former attitude on the bank, and with a studied
indifference paid no attention to those whose presence had
before so much surprised him.

" I say, my good fellow, what does that smoke mean we
fiee yonder ? "

The youth sprang to his feet with a bound that almost
startled his questioner, so sudden and abrupt the motion ;



OLENFLESK. . 5

his features, inactive and colourless the moment before,
seemed almost convulsed now, while they became dark
with blood.

" Was it to me you spoke ? " said he, in a low, guttural
tone, which his passion made actually tremulous.

"Yes "

But before the old man could reply, his daughter, with
the quick tact of womanhood, perceiving the mistake
her father had fallen into, hastily interrupted him by
sajing,— _

" Yes, sir ; we were asking you the cause of the fire at
the foot of that cliff'."

The tone and the manner in which the words were
uttered seemed at once to have disarmed his anger j and
although for a second or two he made no answer, his
features recovered their former half-listless look, as he
said, —

" It is a cabin — there is another yonder, beside the
river."

" A cabin ! Surely you cannot mean that people are
living there?" said the girl, as a sickly pallor spread
itself across her cheeks.

" Yes, to be sure," replied the youth; "they have no
better hereabouts,"

'' What poverty — what dreadful misery is this ! " said
she, as the great tears gushed forth, and stole heavily
down her face.

'* They are not so poor," answered the young man, in a
voice of almost reproof. " The cattle along that mountain
all belong to these people — the goats you see in that glen
are theirs also."

" And whose estate may this be ? " said the old man.

Either the questioner or his question seemed to have
called up again the youth's former resentment, for he
fixed his eyes steadily on him for some time without a
word, and then slowly added, —



Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe O'Donoghue : a tale of Ireland fifty years ago → online text (page 1 of 43)