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strangely enough, the only emotions they could call up
were some vague, visionary sorrowings over his fallen and
degraded condition.

"By Jove!" said Dempsey, in a whisper to Darcy,
*' the lieutenant has more sympathy for my grandfather
than I have myself I'll be hanged if he isn't wiping his
eyes ! So you see, ma'am," added he, aloud, " it was a
taste for grandeur ruined the Dempseys ; the same ambi-
tion that hay destroyed states and kingdoms has brought
your humble servant to a trifle of thirty-eight pounds four
and nine per annum for all worldly comforts and virtuous
enjoyments ; but, as the old ballad says,

" Though classic 'tis to show one's grief,

And cry like Carthaginian Marius,
I'll not do this, nor ask relief,

Like that ould beggar Belisarius. "

No, ma'am, ' Never give in while there's a score behind
the door,' that's the motto of the Dempseys. If it's not
on their coat-of-arms, it's written in their hearts."

" Your grandfather, however, did not seem to possess
the family courage," said the Knight, slyly.

" Well, and what would you have ? Wasn't he brave
enough for a wine-merchant ?"

" The ladies will give us some tea, Leonard," said the
Knight, as Lady Eleanor and her daughter had, some time
before, slipped unobserved from the room.

" Yes, colonel, always ready."


"That's the way with him," whispered Dempsey;
" he'd swear black and blue this minute that you com-
manded the regiment he served in. He very often calls
me the quartermaster."

The party rose to join the ladies, and while Leonard
maintained his former silence, Dempsey once more took
on himself the burden of the conversation by various little
anecdotes of the Fumbally household, and sketches of life
and manners at Port Ballintray.

So perfectly at ease did he find himself, so inspired by
the happy impression he felt convinced he was making,
that he volunteered a song, " if the young lady would
only vouchsafe a few chords on the piano " by way of
accompaniment a proposition Helen acceded to.

Thus passed the evening, a period in which Lady Eleanor
more than once doubted if the whole were not a dream,
and the persons before her the mere creations of dis-
ordered fancy ; an impression certainly not lessened as
Mr. Dempsey's last words at parting conveyed a pressing
invitation to a " little thing he'd get up for them at Mother




IT is a fact not only well worthy of mention, bufc pregnant
with its own instruction, that persons who have long
enjoyed all the advantages of an elevated social position
better support the reverses which condemned them to
humble and narrow fortunes, than do the vulgar-minded,
when, by any sudden caprice of the goddess, they are
raised to a conspicuous and distinguished elevation.

There is in the gentleman, and still more in the gentle-
woman as the very word itself announces an element
of placidity and quietude that suggests a spirit of accom-
modation to whatever may arise to ruffle the temper or
disturb the equanimity. Self-respect and consideration
for others are a combination not inconsistent or unfre-
quent, and there are few who have not seen, some time or
other, a reduced gentleman dispensing in a lowly station
the mild graces and accomplishments of his order, and,
while elevating others, sustaining himself.

The upstart, on the other hand, like a mariner in some
unknown sea without chart or compass, has nothing to
guide him ; impelled hither or thither as caprice or pas-
sion dictate, he is neither restrained by a due sense of
decorum, nor admonished by a conscientious feeling of
good breeding. With the power that rank and wealth
bestows he becomes not distinguished, but eccentric ; un-
sustained by the companionship of his equals, he tries to
assimilate himself to them rather by their follies than their
virtues, and thus presents to the world that mockery of
rank and station which makes good men sad, and bad
men triumphant.

To these observations we have been led by the altered
fortunes of those two families of whom our story treats.



If the Darcys suddenly found themselves brought down
to a close acquaintanceship with poverty and its fellows,
they bore the change with that noble resignation that
springs from true regard for others at the sacrifice of our-
selves. The little shifts and straits of narrowed means
were ever treated jestingly, the trials that a gloomy spirit
had converted into sorrows, made matters of merriment
and laughter, and as the traveller sees the Arab tent in
the desert spread beside the ruined temple of ancient
grandeur, and happy faces and kind looks beneath the
shade of ever- vanished splendour, so did this little group
maintain in their fall the kindly affection and the high-
souled courage that made of that humble cottage a home
of happiness and enjoyment.

Let us now turn to the west, where another and very
different picture presented itself. Although certain weighty
questions remained to be tried at law between the Darcys
and the Hickmans, Bicknell could not advise the Knight
to contest the mortgage under which the Hickmans had
now taken possession of the abbey.

The reputation for patriotism and independence so for-
tunately acquired by that family came at a most oppor-
tune moment. In no country of Europe are the associa-
tions connected with the proprietorship of land more
regarded than in Ireland ; this feeling, like most others
truly Irish, has the double property of being either a
great blessing or a great curse, for while it can suggest
a noble attachment to country, it can also, as we see it in
our own day, be the fertile source of the most atrocious

Had Hickman O'Reilly succeeded to the estate of the
Darcys at any other moment than when popular opinion
called the one a "patriot " and the other a "traitor," the
consequences would have been serious ; all the disposable
force, civil and military, would scarcely have been suffi-
cient to secure possession. The thought of the " ould
ancient family " deposed and exiled by the men of yester-
day, would have excited a depth of feeling enough to stir
the country far and near. Every trait that adorned the
one, for generations, would be remembered, while the
humble origin of the other would be offered as the bitter-


cst reproach, by those who thought in embodying the
picture of themselves and their fortune they were ac-
tually summing up the largest amount of obloquy and
disgrace. Such is mob principle in everything ! Aris-
tocracy has no such admirers as the lowly born, just as
the liberty of the press is inexpressibly dear to that part
of the population who know not how to read.

When last we saw Gwynne Abbey the scene was one
of mourning, the parting hour of those whose affections
clung to the old walls, and who were to leave it for ever.
We must now return there for a brief space under differ-
ent auspices, and when Mr. Hickman O'Reilly, the high
sheriff of the county, was entertaining a large and dis-
tinguished company in his new and princely residence.

It was the assize week, and the judges, as well as the
leading officers of the Crown, were his guests ; many
of the gentry were also there, some from indifference
to whom their host might be ; others, from curiosity
to see how the upstart, Bob Hickman, would do the
honours ; and there were many who felt far more at their
ease in the abbey now, than when they had the fears of
Lady Eleanor Darcy's quietude and coldness of manner
before them.

No expense was spared to rival the style and retinue of
the abbey under its former owners. O'Reilly well knew
the value of first impressions in such matters, and how
the report that would soon gain currency would decide
the matter for or against him. So profusely, and with
such disregard to money, was everything done, that, as a
mere question of cost, there was no' doubt that never in
the Knight's palmiest days had anything been seen more
magnificent than the preparations. Luxuries, brought a'
an immense cost, and by contraband, from abroad ; wines,
of the rarest excellence, abounded at every entertainment ;
equipages, more splendid than any ever seen there before,
appeared each morning; and troops of servants without
number moved hither and thither, displaying the gorgeous
liveries of the O'Reillys.

The guests were for the most part the neighbouring
gentry, the military, and the members of the bar; but
there were others also, selected with peculiar care, and

E 2


whose presence was secured at no inconsiderable pains.
These were the leading " diners-out" of Dublin, and re-
cognized " men about town," whose names were seen on
club committees, and whose word was law on all questions
of society. Among them, the chief was Con Hefiernan,
and he now 8aw himself for the first time a guest at
Gwynne Abbey. The invitation was made and accepted
with a certain coquetting that gave it the character of a
reconciliation ; there were political differences to be got
over, mutual recriminations to be forgotten ; but as each
felt, for his own reasons, not indisposed to renew friendly
relations, the matter presented little difficulty, and when
Mr. O'Reilly received his guest, on his arrival, with a
shake of both hands, the action was meant and taken as a
receipt in full for all past misunderstanding, and both had
too much tact ever to go back on " bygones."

There had been a little correspondence between the
parties, the eru-ly portions of which were marked " Confi-
dential," and the' latter " Strictly confidential and pri-
vate." This related to a request made by O'Reilly to
Heffernan to entreat his influence in behalf of Lionel
Darcy. Nothing could exceed the delicacy of the nego-
tiation, for after professing that the friendship which had
subsisted between his own son and young Darcy was
the active motive for the request, he went on to say, that
in the course of certain necessary legal investigations, it
was discovered that young Lionel, in the unguarded care-
lessness of a young and extravagant man, had put his name
to bills of a large amount, and even hinted that he had not
stopped there, but had actually gone the length of signing
his father's name to documents for the sale of property.
To obtain an appointment for him in some regiment
serving in India would at once withdraw him from the
likelihood of any exposure in these matters. To interest
Heffernan in the afl'air was the object of O'Reilly's cor-
respondence, and Heffernan was only too glad, at so ready
an opportunity, to renew their ruptured relations.

Lions were not as fashionable in those days as at
present, but still the party had its share in the person of
Counsellor O'Halloran, the great orator of the bar, and
the great speaker at public meetings, the rising patriot


who, not being deemed of importance enough to be
bought, was looked on as incorruptible. He had como
down special to defend O'Reilly in a record of Darcy
versus Hickman, the first case submitted for trial by
Bicknell, and one which, small in itself, would yet, if
determined in the Knight's favour, form a rule of great
importance respecting those that were to follow.

It was in the first burst of Hickman O'Reilly's indigna-
tion against Government that he had secured O'Halloran
as his counsel, never anticipating that any conjuncture
would bring him once more into relations with the
Ministry. His appointment of high sheriff, however, and
his subsequent correspondence with Heffernan, ending
with the invitation to the abbey, had greatly altered his
sentiments, and he more than once regretted the preci-
pitancy with which he had selected his advocate.

Whether " the Counsellor" did or did not perceive
that his reception was one of less cordiality and more
embarrassment than might be expected, it is not easy to
say, for he was one of those persons who live too much
out of themselves to betray their own feelings to the
world. He was a large and well-looking man, but whoso
features would have been coarse in their expression were
it not for the animated intelligence of his eye, and the
quaint humour that played about the angles of his mouth,
and added to the peculiar drollery of an accent to which
Kerry had lent all its native archness. His gestures were
bold, striking, and original ; his manner of speaking, even
in private, impressive from the deliberate slowness of his
utterance, and the air of truthfulness sustained by every
agency of look, voice, and expression. The least observ-
ant could not fail to remark in him a conscious power, a
sense of his own great gifts either in argument or invec-
tive, for he was no less skilful in unravelling the tangled
tissue of a knotted statement, than in overwhelming his
adversary with a torrent of abusive eloquence. The
habits of his profession, but, in particular, the practice of
cross-examination, had given him an immense insight into
the darker recesses of the human heart, and made him
master of all the subtleties and evasions of inferior capa-
cities. This knowledge he brought with him into society,


where his powers of conversation had already established
for him a high repute. He abounded in anecdote, which
he introduced so easily and naturally, that the a propos
had as much merit as the story itself. Yet with all these
qualities, and in a time when the members of his profes-
sion were more than ever esteemed and courted, he him-
self was not received, save on sufferance, into the better
society of the capital. The stamp of a " low tone," and
the assertion of democratic opinions, were two insur-
mountable obstacles to his social acceptance ; and he was
rarely, if ever, seen in those circles which arrogated to
themselves the title of best. Whether it was a conscious
sense of what was " in him " powerful enough to break
down such barriers as these, and that, like Nelson, he felt
the day would come when he would have a " Gazette
of Ms own" but his manner at times displayed a spirit
of haughty daring and effrontery that formed a singular
contrast with the slippery and insinuating softness of his
nisiprius tone and gesture.

If we seem to dwell longer on this picture than the
place the original occupies in our story would warrant,
it is because the character is not fictitious, and there is
always an interest to those who have seen the broad
current of a mighty river rolling onward in its mighty
strength, to stand beside the little streamlet which, first
rising from the mountain, gave it origin to mark the
first obstacles that opposed its course and to watch the
strong impulses that moulded its destiny to overcome

Whatever fears Hickman O'Reilly might have felt as
to how his counsel, learned in the law, would be received
by the Government agent, Mr. Heffernan, were speedily
allayed. The gentlemen had never met before, and yet,
ere the first day went over, they were as intimate as
old acquaintances, each, apparently, well pleased with the
strong good sense and natural humour of the other. And
so, indeed, it may be remarked in the world, that when
two shrewd, far-reaching individuals are brought .together,
the attraction of quick intelligence and craft is sufficient
to draw them into intimate relations at once. There is
something wonderfully fraternal in roguery.


This was the only social difficulty O'Reilly dreaded,
arid happily it was soon dispelled, and the general enjoy-
ment was unclouded by even the slightest accident. The
judges were Ion vivants, who enjoyed good living and
good wine ; he of the Common Pleas, too, was an excellent
shot, and always exchanged his robes for a shooting-jacket
on entering the park, and despatched hares and wood-
cocks as he walked along, with as much unconcern as he
had done Whiteboys half an hour before. The Solicitor-
General was passionately fond of hunting, and would
rather any day have drawn a cover than an indictment ;
and so with the rest, they seemed all of them sporting
gentlemen of wit and pleasure, who did. a little business
at law by way of " distraction." Nor did O'Halloran
form an exception ; he was as ready as the others to
snatch an interval of pleasure amid the fatigues of his
laborious day. But, somehow, he contrived that no
amount of business should be too much for him ; and
while his ruddy cheek and bright eye bespoke perfect
health and renewed enjoyment, it was remarked that the
lamp burned the whole night long unextinguished in his
chamber, and that no morning found him ever unprepared
to defend the interest of his client.

There was, as we have said, nothing to throw a damper
on the general joy; fortune was bent on dealing kindly
with Mr. O'Reilly, for while he was surrounded with
distinguished and delighted guests, his father, the doctor,
the only one whose presence could have brought a blush
to his cheek, was confined to his room by a severe cold,
and unable to join the party.

The assize calendar was a long one, and the town the
last in the circuit, so that the judges were in no hurry to
move on ; besides, Gwynne Abbey was a quarter which it
was very unlikely would soon be equalled in style of living
and resources. For all these several reasons the business
of the law went on with an easy and measured pace, the
Court opening each day at ten, and closing about three
or four, when a magnificent procession of carriages and
saddle-horses drew up in the main street to convey the
guests back to the abbey.

While the other trials formed the daily subject of table-


talk, suggesting those stories of fun, anecdote, and inci-
dent, with which no other profession can enter into
rivalry, the case of Darcy versus Hickman was never
alluded to, and, being adroitly left last on the list for
trial, could not possibly interfere with the freedom so
essential to pleasant intercourse.

The day fixed on for this record was a Saturday. It
was positively the last day the judges could remain, and
having accepted an engagement to a distant part of the
country for that very day at dinner, the Court was to sit
early, and there being no other cause for trial, it was
supposed the cause would be concluded in time to permit
their departure. Up to this morning the high sheriff' had
never omitted, as in duty bound, to accompany the judges
to the court-house, displaying in the number and splen-
dour of his equipages a costliness and magnificence that
excited the wonder of the assembled gentry. On this
day, however, he deemed it would be more delicate on
his part to be absent, as the matter in litigation so nearly
concerned himself. And half seriously, and half in jest,
he made his apologies to the learned baron who was to
try the cause, and begged for permission to remain at
the abbey. The request was most natural, and at once
acceded to, and although Heffernan had expressed the
greatest desire to hear the Counsellor, he determined
to pass the morning, at least, with O'Reilly, and en-
deavour afterwards to be in time for the address to
the jury.

At last the procession moved off ; several country gen-
tlemen, who had come over to breakfast, joining the party,
and making the cavalcade, as it entered the town, a very
imposing body. It was the market-day, too, and thus the
square in front of the court-house was crowded with a
frieze-coated and red-cloaked population, earnestly gesti-
culating and discussing the approaching trial, for to the
Irish peasant the excitement of a law process has the
most intense and fascinating interest. All the ordinary
traffic of the day was either neglected or carelessly per-
formed, in the anxiety to see those who dispensed the
dread forms of justice, but more particularly to obtain a
sight of the young " Counsellor," who, for the first time,


had appeared on this circuit, but whose name as a patriot
and an orator was widely renowned.

" Here he comes ! Here he comes ! Make way there ! "
went from mouth to mouth, as Q'Halloran, who had
entered the inn for a moment, now issued forth in wig and
gown, and carrying a heavily-laden bag in his hand. The
crowd opened for him respectfully and in dead silence,
and then a hearty cheer burst forth, that echoed through
the wide square, and was taken up by hundreds of voices
in the neighbouring streets.

It needed not the reverend companionship of Father
John M'Enerty, the parish priest of Curraghglass, who
walked at his side, to secure him this hearty burst of wel-
come, although of a truth the circumstance had its merit
also, and many favourable comments were passed upon
O'Halloran for the familiar way he leaned on the priest's
arm, and the kindly intelligence that subsisted between

If anything could have added to the pleasure of the
assembled crowd at the instant, it was an announcement
by Father John, who, turning round on the steps of the
court-house, informed them in a kind of confidential
whisper that was heard over the square, that " if they
were good boys, and didn't make any disturbance in the
town," the Counsellor would give them a speech when the
trial was over.

The most deafening shout of applause followed this
declaration, and whatever interest the questions of law
had possessed for them before, was now merged in the
higher anxiety to hear the great Counsellor himself dis-
cuss the " veto," that long-agitated question each had
taught himself to believe of nearest importance to him-

"When last I visited this town," said Bicknell to the
senior counsel employed in the Knight's behalf, " I wit-
nessed a very different scene. Then we had triumphal
arches, and bonfire illuminations, and addresses. It was
young Darcy's birthday, and a more enthusiastic reception
it is impossible to conceive than he met in these very
streets fi'om these very people."

" There is only one species of interest felt for dethroned


monarchs," said the other, caustically " how they bear
their misfortunes."

" The man you see yonder waving his hat to young
O'Reilly, was one of a deputation to congratulate the heir
of Gwynne Abbey ! I remember him well his name is

" I hope not the same I see upon our jury-list here," said
the counsellor, as he unfolded a written paper, and perused
it attentively.

" The same man ; he holds his house under the Darcys,
and has received many and deep favours at their hands."

" So much the worse, if we should find him in the jury-
box. But have we any chance of young Darcy yet ? Do
you give up all hope of his arrival ?"

" The last tidings I received from my clerk were, that
he was to follow him down to Plymouth by that night's
mail, and still hoped to be in time to catch him ere the
transport sailed."

" What a rash and reckless fellow he must be, that
would leave a country where he has such interests at
stake ! "

" If he felt that a point of honour or duty was involved,
I don't believe he'd sacrifice a jot of either to gain this
cause, and I'm certain that some such plea has been made
use of on the present occasion."

" How they cheer! What's the source of their enthusiasm
at this moment ? There it goes, that carriage with the
green liveries and the Irish motto round the crest. Look
at O'Halloran, too ! how he shakes hands with the towns-
folk ; canvassing for a verdict already ! Now, Bicknell,
let us move on ; but, for my part, I feel our cause is
decided outside the court-house. If I'm not very much
mistaken, we are about to have an era of ' popular justice '
in Ireland, and our enemies could not wish us worse



ALTHOUGH Mr. Hickman O'Reilly affected an easy uncon-
cern regarding the issue of the trial, he received daring
the morning more than one despatch from the court-house
narrating its progress. The were brief but significant ;
and when Heffernan, with his own tact, inquired if the
news were satisfactory, the reply was made by putting
into his hands a slip of paper with a few words written
in pencil: " They are beaten the verdict is certain."

" I concluded," said Heffernan, as he handed back the
paper, "that the case was not deemed by you a very
doubtful matter."

" Neither doubtful nor important," said Hickman calmly;
" it was an effort, in all probability suggested by some
crafty lawyer, to break several leases on the ground of
forgery in the signatures. I am sure nothing short of

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 13) → online text (page 5 of 35)