Charles James Lever.

Charles O'Malley, the Irish dragon online

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spot, and regard with stern intensity any object near you, the chances
are ten to one that you have several companions in your curiosity
before a minute expires.

Now, Webber, who had at first stood still, without any peculiar
thought in view, no sooner perceived that he was joined by others,
than the idea of making something out of it immediately occurred
to him.

" What is it, agra?" inquired an old woman, very much in his
own style of dress, pulling at the hood of his cloak.

"And can't you see for yourself, darling?" replied he, sharply, as
he knelt down, and looked most intensely at the sewer.

"Are ye long there, avick?" inquired he of an imaginary indi-
vidual below, and then waiting as if for a reply, said, " Two hours !
Blessed Virgin ! he's two hours in the drain !"

By this time the crowd had reached entirely across the street, and
the crushing and squeezing to get near the important spot was awful.

" Where did he come from ?" " Who is he?" " How did he get
there ?" were questions on every side, and various surmises were


afloat, till Webber, rising from his knees, said, in a mysterious
whisper to those nearest him, " He's made his escape to-night out o'
Newgate by the big drain, and lost his way ; he was looking for the
Liffey, and took the wrong turn."

To an Irish mob, what appeal could equal this ? A culprit at any
time has his claims upon their sympathy ; but let him be caught in
the very act of cheating the authorities and evading the law, and his
popularity knows no bounds. Webber knew this well, and, as the*
mob thickened around him, sustained an imaginary conversation
that Savage Landor might have envied, imparting now and then such
hints concerning the runaway as raised their interest to the highest
pitch, and fifty different versions were related on all sides — of the
crime he was guilty of, the sentence that was passed on him, and the
day he was to suffer.

" Do you see the light, dear ?" said Webber, as some ingeniously
benevolent individual had lowered down a candle with a string —
" do ye see the light ? Oh ! he's fainted, the creature." A cry of
horror from the crowd burst forth at these words, followed by a uni-
versal shout of " Break open the street."

Pickaxes, shovels, spades, and crowbars seemed absolutely the
walking accompaniments of the crowd, so suddenly did they appear
upon the field of action, and the work of exhumation was begun
with a vigor that speedily covered nearly half the street with mud and
paving-stones. Parties relieved each other at the task, and ere half
an hour a hole capable of containing a mail coach was yawning in
one of the most frequented thoroughfares of Dublin. Meanwhile, as
no appearance of the culprit could be had, dreadful conjectures as to
his fate began to gain ground. By this time the authorities had
received intimation of what was going forward, and attempted to
disperse the crowd ; but Webber, who still continued to conduct the
prosecution, called on them to resist the police, and save the poor
creature. And now began a most terrific fray. The stones, forming
a ready weapon, were hurled at the unprepared constables, who, on
their side, fought manfully, but against superior numbers ; so that,
at last, it was only by the aid of a military force the mob could be
dispersed, and a riot, which had assumed a very serious character,
got under. Meanwhile, Webber had reached his chambers, changed
his costume, and was relating over the supper-table the narrative of
his philanthropy to a very admiring circle of his friends.

Such was my chum, Frank Webber ; and as this was the first
anecdote I had heard of him, I relate it here that my readers may
be in possession of the grounds upon which my opinion of that
celebrated character was founded while yet our acquaintance was in
its infancy.




WITHIN a few weeks after my arrival in town, I had become
a matriculated student of the University, and the possessor
of chambers within its walls, in conjunction with the sage
and prudent gentleman I have introduced to my readers in the last
chapter. Had my intentions on entering college been of the most
studious and regular kind, the companion into whose society I was
then immediately thrown would have quickly dissipated them. He
voted morning chapels a bore, Greek lectures a humbug, examina-
tions a farce, and pronounced the statute-book, with its attendant
train of fines and punishment, an " unclean thing." With all my
country habits and predilections fresh upon me, that I was an easily
won disciple to his code need not be wondered at, and, indeed, ere
many days had passed over, my thorough indifference to all college
rules and regulations had given me a high place in the esteem of
Webber and his friends. As for myself, I was most agreeably sur-
prised to find that what I had looked forward to as a very melan-
choly banishment, was likely to prove a most agreeable sojourn.
Under Webber's directions, there was no hour of the day that hung
heavily upon our hands. We rose about eleven, and breakfasted ;
after which succeeded fencing, sparring, billiards, or tennis in the
park; about three, got on horseback, and either cantered in the
Phcenix or about the squares till visiting time ; after which made
our calls, and then dressed for dinner, which we never thought of
taking at commons, but had it from Morrison's, we both being re-
ported sick in the dean's list, and thereby exempt from the routine
fare of the fellows' table. In the evening our occupations became
still more pressing. There were balls, suppers, whist parties, rows at
. the theatre, shindies in the street, devilled drumsticks at Hayes's,
select oyster parties at the Carlingford; in fact, in every known
method of remaining up all night, and appearing both pale and
penitent the following morning.

Webber had a large acquaintance in Dublin, and soon made me
known to them all. Among others, the officers of the — th Light
Dragoons, in which regiment Power was captain, were his particular
friends, and we had frequent invitations to dine at their mess.
There it was first that military life presented itself to me in its most
attractive possible form, and heightened the passion I already so
strongly conceived for the army. Power, above all others, took my
fancy. He was a gay, dashing-looking, handsome fellow of about
eight-and-twenty, who had already seen some service, having joined


while his regiment was in Portugal ; was in heart and soul a soldier,
and had that species of pride and enthusiasm in all that regarded a
military career that form no small part of the charm in the charac-
ter of a young officer.

I sat near him the second day we dined at the mess, and was much
pleased at many slight attentions in his manner towards me.

"I called on you to-day, Mr. O'Malley," said he, "in company
with a friend, who is most anxious to see you."

" Indeed," said I ; " I did not hear of it."

" We left no cards either of us, as we were determined to make
you out on another day ; my companion has most urgent reasons for
seeing you. I see you are puzzled," said he, "and although I
promised to keep his secret, I must blab : it was Sir George Dash-
wood who was with me ; he told us of your most romantic adven-
ture in the west, and, faith, there is no doubt you saved the lady's

"Was she worth the trouble of it?" said the old major, whose
conjugal experiences imparted a very crusty tone to the question.

" I think," said I, " I need only tell her name to convince you
of it."

" Here's a bumper to her," said Power, filling his glass ; " and
every true man will follow my example."

When the hip, hipping which followed the toast was over, I found
myself enjoying no small share of the attention of the party as the
deliverer of Lucy Dash wood.

" Sir George is cudgelling his brain to show his gratitude to you,"
said Power.

" What a pity, for the sake of his peace of mind, that you are not
in the army," said another ; " it's so easy to show a man a delicate
regard by a quick promotion."

" A devil of a pity for his own sake, too," said Power, again ;
" they're going to make a lawyer of as strapping a fellow as ever
carried a sabretasche."

"A lawyer!" cried out half a dozen together, pretty much with
the same tone and emphasis as though he had said a twopenny
postman — " the devil they are."

" Cut the service at once — you'll get no promotion in it," said the
colonel. " A fellow with a black eye like you would look much
better at the head of a squadron than a string of witnesses. Trust
me, you'd shine more in conducting a picket than a prosecution."

"But if I can't?" said I.

" Then take my plan," said Power, " and make it cut you."

" Yours ?" said two or three in a breath — " yours ?"

" Ay, mine ; did you never know that I was bred to the bar ?


Come, come, if it was only for O'Malley's use and benefit — as we
say in the parchments — I must tell you the story."

The claret was pushed briskly round, chairs drawn up to fill any
vacant spaces, and Power began his story.

" As I am not over long-winded, don't be scared at my beginning
my history somewhat far back. I began life that most unlucky of
all earthly contrivances for supplying casualties in case anything
may befall the heir of the house — a species of domestic jury-mast?
only lugged out in a gale of wind — a younger son. My brother
Tom, a thick-skulled, pudding-headed dog, that had no taste for
anything save his dinner, took it into his wise head one morning
that he would go into the army, and, although I had been origi-
nally destined for a soldier, no sooner was his choice made, than all
regard for my taste and inclination was forgotten ; and as the
family interest was only enough for one, it was decided that I
should be put in what is called a ' learned profession,' and let push
my fortune. ' Take your choice, Dick/ said my father, with a most
benign smile — ' take your choice, boy. Will you be a lawyer, a
parson, or a doctor ?'

" Had he said, ' Will you be put in the stocks, the pillory, or
publicly whipped V I could not have looked more blank than at the

"As a decent Protestant, he should have grudged me to the
Church ; as a philanthropist, he might have scrupled at making me
a physician ; but as he had lost deeply by law-suits, there looked
something very like a lurking malice in sending me to the bar.
Now, so far I concurred with him, for having no gift for enduring
either sermons or senna, I thought I'd make a bad administrator of
either, and as I was ever regarded in the family as rather of a shrewd
and quick turn, with a very natural taste for roguery, I began to
believe he was right, and that nature intended me for the circuit.

" From the hour my vocation was pronounced, it had been happy
for the family that they could have got rid of me. A certain ambi-
tion to rise in my profession laid hold on me, and I meditated all
day and night how I was to get on. Every trick, every subtle inven-
tion to cheat the enemy that I could read of, I treasured up care-
fully, being fully impressed with the notion that roguery meant
law, and equity was only another name for odd and even.

"My days were spent haranguing special juries of housemaids
and laundresses, cross-examining the cook, charging the under
butler, and passing sentence of death upon the pantry boy, who, I
may add, was invariably hanged when the court rose.

" If the mutton were overdone, or the turkey burned, I drew up
an indictment against old Margaret, and against the kitchen-maid


as accomplice ; and the family hungered while I harangued ; and,
in fact, into such disrepute did I bring the legal profession, by the
score of annoyance of which I made it the vehicle, that my father
got a kind of holy horror of law courts, judges, and crown solicitors,
and absented himself from the assizes the same year, for which,
being a high sheriff, he paid a penalty of £500.

" The next day I was sent off in disgrace to Dublin, to begin my
career in college, and eat the usual quartos and folios of beef and
mutton which qualify a man for the woolsack.

"Years rolled over, in which, after an ineffectual effort to get
through college, — the only examination I ever got being a jubilee
for the king's birthday,— I was at length called to the Irish bar, and
saluted by my friends as Counsellor Power. The whole thing was
so like a joke to me, that it kept me in laughter for three terms,
and, In fact, it was tfte best thing that could happen to me, for I had
nothing else to do. The hall of the Four Courts was a very plea-
sant lounge, plenty of agreeable fellows that never earned sixpence,
or were likely to uo so. Then the circuits were so many country
excursions, that supplied fun of one kind or other, but no profit.
As for me, I was what was called a good junior. I knew how to
look after the waiters, to inspect the decanting of the wine, and the
airing of the claret, and was always attentive to the father of the
circuit, the crossest old villain that ever was a king's counsel.
These eminent qualities, and my being able to sing a song in honor
of our own bar, were recommendations enough to make me a favor-
ite, and I was one.

" Now, the reputation I obtained was pleasant enough at first,
but I began to wonder that I never got a brief. Somehow, if it
rained civil bills or declarations, devil a one would fall upon my
head, and it seemed as if the only object I had in life was to accom-
pany the circuit, a kind of deputy-assistant commissary-general,
never expected to come into action. To be sure, I was not alone in
misfortune ; there were several promising youths, who cut great
figures in Trinity, in the same predicament, the only difference
being that they attributed to jealousy what I expected was for-
getfulness, for I don't think a single attorney in Dublin knew
one of us.

" Two years passed over, and then I walked the hall with a bag
filled with newspapers, to look like briefs, and was regularly called
by two or three criers from one court to the other. It never took ;
even when I used to seduce a country friend to visit the courts, and
get him into an animated conversation in a corner between two
pillars, devil a one would believe him to be a client, and I was
fairly nonplussed.


" - How is a man ever to distinguish himself in such a walk as
this ?' was my eternal question to myself every morning as I put on
my wig. ' My face is as well known here as Lord Manners' ; every
one says, " How are you, Dick?" " How goes it, Power?" hut ex-
cept Holmes, that said one morning, as he passed me, " Eh, always
busy?" no one alludes to the possibility of my having anything
to do.'

" ' If I could only get a footing,' thought I, ' Lord, how I'd aston-
ish them ! As the song says, —

" Perhaps a recruit
Might chance to shoot

Great General Bonapartfi."

So,' said I to myself, ' I'll make these halls ring for it some day or
other, if the occasion ever present itself.' But, faith, it seemed as if
some cunning solicitor overheard me, and told his associates, for
they avoided me like a leprosy. The home circuit I had adopted
for some time past, for the very palpable reason that, being near
town, it was least costly, and it had all the advantages of any other
for me, in getting me nothing to do. Well, one morning we were in
Philipstown ; I was lying awake in bed, thinking how long it would
be before I'd sum up resolution to cut the bar, where certainly my
prospects were not the most cheering, when some one tapped gently
at my door.

" ' Come in/ said I.

" The waiter opened gently, and held out his hand with a large
roll of paper, tied round with a piece of red tape.

" ' Counsellor,' said he, ' handsel.'

"' What do you mean?' said I, jumping out of bed; 'what is it,
you villain ?'

" ' A brief.'

"'A brief: so I see; but it's for Counsellor Kinshella, below
stairs.' That was the first name written on it.

" ' Bethershin,' said he ; ' Mr. M'Grath bid me to give it to you,

" By this time I had opened the envelope, and read my own name
at full length as junior counsel in the important case of Mona-
ghan v. M'Shean, to be tried in the Record Court at Ballinasloe.
' That will do,' said I, flinging it on the bed with a careless air, as if
it were a very every-day matter with me.

" ' But, counsellor, darlin', give us a thrifle to dhrink your health
with your first cause, and the Lord send you plenty of them.'

" 'My first,' said I, with a smile of most ineffable compassion at
his simplicity : ' I'm worn out with them ; do you know, Peter, I


was thinking seriously of leaving the bar, when you came into the
room? Upon my conscience, it's in earnest I am.'

" Peter believed me, I think, for I saw him give a very peculiar
look as he pocketed his half-crown and left the room.

" The door was scarcely closed when I gave way to the free trans-
port of my ecstasy ; there it lay at last, the long looked-for, long
wished-for object of all my happiness, and though I well knew that a
junior counsel has about as much to do in the conducting of a case ;is
a rusty handspike has in a naval engagement, yet I suffered not such'
thoughts to mar the current of my happiness. There was my name
in conjunction with the two mighty leaders on the circuit, and
though they each pocketed a hundred, I doubt very much if they
received their briefs with one half the satisfaction. My joy at
length subdued a little. I opened the roll of paper, and began
carefully to peruse about fifty pages of narrative regarding a water-
course that once had turned a mill ; but, from some reasons
doubtless known to itself or its friends, would do so no longer,
and thus set two respectable neighbors at loggerheads, and in-
volved them in a record that had been now heard three several

" Quite forgetting the subordinate part I was destined to fill, I
opened the case in the most flowery oration, in which I descanted
upon the benefits accruing to mankind from water-communication
since the days of Noah ; remarked upon the antiquity of mills, and
especially of millers, and consumed half an hour in a preamble of
generalities that I hoped would make a very considerable impres-
sion upon the court. Just at the critical moment when I was about
to enter more particularly into the case, three or four of the
great unbriefed came rattling into my room, and broke in upon the

" ' I say, Power/ said one * come and have an hour's skating on
the canal ; the courts are filled, and we sha'n't be missed.'

" * Skate, my dear friend,' said I, in a most dolorous tone ; ' out
of the question ; see, I am chained to a devilish knotty case with
Kinshella and Mills.'

" ' Confound your humbugging !' said another ; ' that may do very
well in Dublin for the attorneys, but not with us.'

" ' I don't well understand you,' I replied ; ? there is the brief.
Hennesy expects me to report upon it this evening, and so I am

" Here a very chorus of laughing broke forth, in which, after
several vain efforts to resist, I was forced to join, and kept it up
with the others.

" When our mirth was over, my friends scrutinized the red tape-


tied packet, and pronounced it a real brief, with a degree of sur-
prise that certainly augured little for their familiarity with such
objects of natural history.

" When they had left the room, I leisurely examined the all-im-
portant document, spreading it out before me upon the table, and
surveying it as a newly-anointed sovereign might be supposed to
contemplate a map of his dominions.

" ' At last/ said I to myself — ' at last, and here is the footstep to
the woolsack.' For more than an hour I sat motionless, my eyes
fixed upon the outspread paper, lost in a very maze of reverie. The
ambition which disappointments had crushed, and delay had
chilled, came suddenly back, and all my day-dreams of legal suc-
cess, my cherished aspirations after silk-gowns, and patents of pre-
cedence, rushed once more upon me, and I resolved to do or die.
Alas ! a very little reflection showed me that the latter was per-
fectly practicable, but that, as a junior counsel, five minutes of very
commonplace recitation was all my province, and with the main
business of the day I had about as much to do as the call-boy of a
playhouse has with the success of a tragedy.

" ' My lord, this is an action brought by Timothy Higgin,' &c,
and down I go, no more to be remembered and thought of than if I
had never existed. How different it would be were I the leader !
Zounds, how I would worry the witnesses, browbeat the evidence,
cajole the jury, and soften the judges ! If the Lord were in his
mercy to remove old Mills and Kinshella before Tuesday, who
knows but my fortune might be made? This supposition once
started, set me speculating upon all the possible chances that might
cut off two king's counsel in three days, and left me fairly con-
vinced that my own elevation was certain were they only removed
from my path.

" For two whole days the thought never left my mind ; and on the
evening of the second day I sat moodily over my pint of port, in the
Clonbrock Arms, with my friend, Timothy Casey, Captain in the
North Cork Militia, for my companion.

" ' Fred,' said Tim, ' take off your wine, man. When does this
confounded trial come on ?'

" ' To-morrow,' said I, with a deep groan.

" ' Well, well, and if it does, what matter?" he said ; 'you'll do well
enough, never be afraid.'

"'Alas!' said I, 'you don't understand the cause of my depres-
sion.' I here entered upon an account of my sorrows, which lasted
for above an hour, and only concluded just as a tremendous noise in
the street without announced an arrival. For several minutes, such
was the excitement in the house, such running hither and thither,


such confusion and such hubbub, that we could not make out who
had arrived.

"At last a door opened quite near us, and we saw the waiter
assisting a very portly-looking gentleman off with his greatcoat,
assuring him the while that, if he would only walk into the coffee-
room for ten minutes, the fire in his apartment should be got ready.
The stranger accordingly entered and seated himself at the fireplace,
having never noticed that Casey and myself — the only persons
there — were in the room.

" ' I say, Phil, who is he ?' inquired Casey of the waiter.

" 'Counsellor Mills, Captain,' said the waiter, and left the room.

"'That's your friend,' said Casey.

" ' I see,' said I ; ' and I wish with all my heart he was at home
with his pretty wife in Leeson street.'

" " Is she good-looking?' inquired Tim.

" ' Devil a better,' said I ; ' and he's as jealous as Old Nick/

" ' Hem,' said Tim ; ' mind your cue, and I'll give him a start.'
Here he suddenly changed his whispering tone for one in a louder
key, and resumed : ' I say, Power, it will make some work for you
lawyers. But who can she be? that's the question.' Here he took
a much crumpled letter from his pocket, and pretended to read :
' " A great sensation was created in the neighborhood of Merrion
square yesterday, by the sudden disappearance from her house of

the handsome Mrs. " Confound it — what's the name? — what a

hand he writes ! Hill, or Miles, or something like that — "the lady
of an eminent barrister, now on circuit. The gay Lothario is, they
say, the Hon. George " ' I was so thunderstruck at the rash-
ness of the stroke, I could say nothing, while the old gentleman
started as if he had sat down on a pin. Casey, meanwhile, went on.

" ' Hell and fury !' said the king's counsel, rushing over ; ' what is
it you're saying ?'

" ' You appear warm, old gentleman,' said Casey, putting up the
letter, and rising from the table.

"'Show me that letter — show me that infernal letter, sir, this
instant !'

" ' Show you my letter,' said Casey ; ' cool, that, anyhow. You
are certainly a good one.'

" ' Do you know me, sir ? answer me that,' said the lawyer, burst-
ing with passion.

" ' Not at present/ said Tim, quietly; 'but I hope to do so in the
morning, in explanation of your language and conduct.' A tre-
mendous ringing of the bell here summoned the waiter to the room.

"'Who is that ?' inquired the lawyer. The epithet he

judged it safe to leave unsaid, as he pointed to Casey.


" ' Captain Casey, sir ; the commanding officer here/

Online LibraryCharles James LeverCharles O'Malley, the Irish dragon → online text (page 11 of 80)