Charles James Lever.

Charles O'Malley, the Irish dragon online

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and opened it. No one was there. I looked around, as well as the
coming gloom of evening would permit, but saw nothing. I lis-
tened, and heard at some distance off my friend Power's manly
voice, as he sang, —

" Oh love is the soul of an Irish dragoon !"

I hallooed out, " Power !"

" Eh, O'Malley, is that you ?" inquired he. " Why, then, it seems
it required some deliberation whether you opened your door or not.
Why, man, you can have no great gift of prophecy, or you wouldn't
have kept me so long there."

" And have you been so ?"

" Only twenty minutes, for as I saw the key in tfte lock, I had
determined to succeed, if noise would do it."

" How strange ! I never heard it."

" Glorious sleeper you must be. But come, my dear fellow, you
don't appear altogether awake yet."

" I have not been quite well these few days."

" Oh, indeed ! The Dashwoods thought there must have been
something of that kind the matter, by your brisk retreat. They sent
me after you yesterday ; but wherever you went, Heaven knows !
I never could come up with you, so that your great good news has
been keeping twenty-four hours longer than need be."


" I am not aware what you allude to."

" Well, you are not over-likely to be the wiser when you hear it,
if you can assume no more intelligent look than that. Why, mail,
there's great luck in store for you."

" As how, pray? Come, Power, out with it, though I can't pledge
myself to feel half as grateful for my good fortune as I should do.
What is it?"

" You know Cameron ?"

" I have seen him," said I, reddening.

"Well, Old Camy, as we used to call him, has brought over,
among his other news, your gazette."

" My gazette ! what do you mean ?"

" Confound your uncommon stupidity this evening. I mean, man,
that you are one of us — gazetted to the 14th Light — the best fellows
for love, war, and whisky that ever sported a sabretasche. ' Oh love
is the soul of an Irish dragoon V By Jove ! I am as delighted to
have rescued you from the black harness of the King's Bench as
though you had been a prisoner there. Know, then, friend Charley,
that on Wednesday we proceed to Fermoy, join some score of gal-
lant fellows — all food for powder — and, with the aid of a rotten
transport and the stormy winds that blow, will be bronzing our
beautiful faces in Portugal before the month's out. But come,
now, let's see about supper. Some of ours are coming over here
at eleven, and I promised them a devilled bone. And as it's your
last night among these classic precincts, let us have a shindy of it."

While I despatched Mike to Morrison's to provide supper, I
heard from Power that Sir George Dashwood had interested him-
self so strongly for me, that I had obtained my cornetcy in the 14th;
that, fearful lest any disappointment might arise, he had never
mentioned the matter to me, but that he had previously obtained
my uncle's promise to concur in the arrangement if his negotiation
succeeded. It had done so, and now the long sought-for object of
many days was within my grasp. But, alas! the circumstance
which lent it fill its fascinations was a vanished dream ; and what
but two days before had rendered my happiness perfect, I listened
to listlessly and almost without interest. Indeed, my first impulse,
on finding that I owed my promotion to Sir George, was to return a
positive refusal of the cornetcy ; but then I remembered how deeply
such conduct would hurt my poor uncle, to whom I never could
give an adequate explanation. So I heard Power in silence to the
end, thanked him sincerely for his own good-natured kindness in
the matter, which already, by the interest he had taken in me, went
far to heal the wounds that my own solitary musings were deepen-
ing in my heart. At eighteen, fortunately, consolations are attain-


able that become more difficult at eight-and-twenty, and impossible
at eiglrt-arid-thirty.

While Power continued to dilate upon the delights of a soldier's
life, — a theme which many a boyish dream had long since made
hallowed to my thoughts, — I gradually felt my enthusiasm rising,
and a certain throbbing at my heart betrayed to me that, sad and
dispirited as 1 felt, there was still within that buoyant spirit which
youth possesses as its privilege, and which answers to the call of
enterprise as the war-horse to the trumpet. That a career worthy
of manhood, great, glorious, and inspiriting, opened before me,
coming so soon after the late downfall of my hopes, was in itself a
source of such true pleasure, that ere long I listened to my friend,
and heard his narrative with breathless interest. A lingering sense
of pique, too, had its share in all this. I longed to come forward in
some manly and dashing part, where my youth might not be ever
remembered against me, and when, having brought myself to the
test, I might no longer be looked upon and treated as a boy.

We were joined at length by the other officers of the 14th, and, to
the number of twelve, sat down to supper.

It was to be my last night in Old Trinity, and we resolved that
the farewell should be a solemn one. Mansfield, one of the wildest
young fellows in the regiment, had vowed that the leave-taking
should be commemorated by some very decisive and open expression
of our feelings, and had already made some progress in arrange-
ments for blowing up the great bell, which had more than once
obtruded upon our morning convivialities ; but he was overruled by
his more discreet associates, and we at length assumed our places at
table, in the midst of which stood a hecatomb of all my college
equipments, cap, gown, bands, &c. A funeral pile of classics was
arrayed upon the hearth, surmounted by my " Book on the Cellar,"
and a punishment-roll waved its length, like a banner, over the
doomed heroes of Greece and Rome.

It is seldom that any very determined attempt to be gay par
excellence has a perfect success, but certainly upon this evening ours
had. Songs, good stories, speeches, toasts, bright visions of the cam-
paign before us, the wild excitement which such a meeting cannot be
free from, gradually, as the wine passed from hand to hand, seized
upon all, and about four in the morning, such was the uproar we
caused, and so terrific the noise of our proceedings, that the accumu-
lated force of porters, sent one by one to demand admission, was
now a formidable body at the door ; and Mike at last came in to
assure us that the Bursar, the most dread official of all collegians,
was without, and insisted, with a threat of his heaviest displeasure
in case of refusal, that the door should be opened.


A committee of the whole house immediately sat upon the ques-
tion, and it was at length resolved, nemine contradicente, that the
request should be complied with. A fresh bowl of punch, in honor
of our expected guest, was immediately concocted, a new broil
put on the gridiron, and, having seated ourselves with as great a
semblance of decorum as four bottles a man admits of, Curtis,
the junior Captain, being most drunk, was at once deputed to
receive the Bursar at the door, and introduce him into our august

Mike's instructions were, that immediately on Dr. Stone (the
Bursar) entering, the door was to be slammed to, and none of his
followers admitted. This done, the Doctor was to be ushered in,
and left to our own polite attentions.

A fresh thundering from without scarcely left time for further
deliberation ; and at last Curtis moved towards the door, in execu-
tion of his mission.

" Is there any one there ?" said Mike, in a tone of most unsoph-
isticated innocence, to a rapping that, having lasted three-quarters
of an hour, threatened now to break in the panel. " Is there any
one there?"

" Open the door this instant — the senior Bursar desires you — this

" Sure it's night, and we're all in bed," said Mike.

"Mr. Webber — Mr. O'Malley," said the Bursar, now boiling
with indignation, " I summon you, in the name of the Board, to
admit me."

" Let the gemman in," hiccupped Curtis ; and at the same instant
the heavy bars were withdrawn, and the doors opened, but so
sparingly as with difficulty to permit the passage of the burly figure
of the Bursar.

Forcing his way through, and regardless of what became of the
rest, he pushed on vigorously through the ante-chamber, and before
Curtis could perform his functions of usher, stood in the midst of
us. What were his feelings at the scene before him, Heaven knows.
The number of figures in uniform at once betrayed how little his
jurisdiction extended to the great mass of the company, and he im-
mediately turned towards me.

" Mr. Webber "

" O'Malley, if you please, Mr. Bursar," said I, bowing with most
ceremonious politeness.

" No matter, sir ; arcades arnbo, I believe."

" Both Archdeacons," said Melville, translating, with a look of
withering contempt upon the speaker.

The Doctor continued, addressing me :


" May I ask, sir, if you believe yourself possessed of any privilege
for converting this University into a common tavern ?"

"I wish to Heaven he did," said Curtis; "capital tap your old
commons would make."

" Really, Mr. Bursar," replied I, modestly, " I had begun to natter
myself that our little innocent gayety had inspired you with the
idea of joining our party."

" I humbly move that the old cove in the gown do take the chair,"
gang out one. "All who are of this opinion say 'Aye.' " . A perfect
yell of ayes followed this. "All who are of the contrary say ■ No.'
The ayes have it."

Before the luckless Doctor had a moment for thought, his legs
were lifted from under him, and he was jerked, rather than placed,
upon a chair, and put sitting upon the table.

" Mr. O'Malley, your expulsion within twenty-four hours "

"Hip, hip, hurra, hurra, hurra!" drowned the rest, while Power,
taking off the Doctor's cap, replaced it by a foraging cap, very much
to the amusement of the party.

" There is no penalty that the law permits of that I shall not "

" Help the Doctor," said Melville, placing a glass of punch in his
unconscious hand.

" Now for a ' Viva la Compagnie V " said Telford, seating himseli
at the piano, and playing the first bars of that well-known air, to
which, in our meetings, we were accustomed to improvise a doggerel
in turn :

" I drink to the graces, Law, Physic, Divinity,

Viva la Compagnie !
And here's to the worthy old Bursar of Trinity,

Viva la Compagnie !"

" Viva, viva la va !" &c, was chorused with a shout that shook
the old walls, while Power took up the strain :

"Though with lace caps and gowns they look so like asses,
Viva la Compagnie !
They'd rather have punch than the springs of Parnassus,
Viva la Compagnie !"

" What a nose the old gentleman has, by the way,

Viva la Compagnie !
Since he smelt out the devil from Botany Bay,*

Viva la Compagnie !"

Words cannot give even the faintest idea of the poor Bursar's
feelings while these demoniacal orgies were enacting around him.
Held fast in his chair by Lechmere and another, he glowered on the

* Botany Bay was the slang name given by college men to a new square rather
remotely situated from the remainder of the college.


riotous mob around like a maniac, and astonishment that such lib-
erties could be taken with one in his situation seemed to have sur-
passed even his rage and resentment ; and every now and then a
stray thought would flash across his mind that we were mad, — a
sentiment which, unfortunately, our conduct was but too well calcu-
lated to inspire.

" So you're the morning lecturer, old gentleman, and have just
dropped in here in the way of business ; pleasant life you must have
of it," said Casey, now by far the most tipsy man present.

" If you think, Mr. O'Malley, that the events of this evening are
to end here "

" Very far from it, Doctor," said Power ; " I'll draw up a little
account of the affair for ' Saunders.' They shall hear of it in every
corner and nook of the kingdom."

" The Bursar of Trinity shall be a proverb for a good fellow that
loveth his lush," hiccupped out Fegan.

"And if you believe that such conduct is academical," said the
Doctor, with a withering sneer.

"Perhaps not," lisped Melville, tightening his belt; "but yet it's
devilish convivial — eh, Doctor?"

"Is that like him?" said Moreton, producing a caricature, which
he had just sketched.

" Capital — very good — perfect. M'Cleary shall have it in his win-
dow by noon to-day," said Power.

At this instant some of the combustibles disposed among the re-
jected habiliments of my late vocation caught fire, and squibs, crack-
ers, and detonating shots went off on all sides. The Bursar, who
had not been deaf to several hints and friendly suggestions about
setting fire to him, blowing him up, &c, with one vigorous spring
burst from his antagonists, and, clearing the table at a bound,
reached the floor. Before he could be seized, he had gained the
door, opened it, and was away. We gave chase, yelling like so many
devils; but wine and punch, songs and speeches, had done their
work, and more than one among the pursuers measured his length
upon the pavement ; while the terrified Bursar, with the speed of
terror, held on his way, and gained his chambers, by about twenty
yards in advance of Power and Melville, whose pursuit only ended
when the oaken panel of the door shut them out from their victim.
One loud cheer beneath his window served for our farewell to our
friend, and we returned to my rooms. By this time a regiment of
those classic functionaries yclept porters had assembled around the
door, and seemed bent upon giving battle in honor of their mal-
treated ruler ; but Power explained to them, in a neat speech, replete
with Latin quotations, that their cause was a weak one, that we were


more than their match, and, finally, proposed to them to finish the
punch-bowl — to which we were really incompetent — a motion that
met immediate acceptance ; and old Duncan, with his helmet in one
hand and a goblet in the other, wished- me many happy days, and
every luck in this life, as I stepped from the massive archway, and
took my last farewell of Old Trinity.

Should any kind reader feel interested as to the ulterior course
assumed by the Bursar, I have only to say that the terrors of the
" Board" were never fulminated against me, harmless and innocent
as I should have esteemed them. The threat of giving publicity to
the entire proceedings by the papers, and the dread of figuring in a
sixpenny caricature in M'Cleary's window, were too much for the
worthy Doctor, and he took the wiser course, under the circum-
stances, and held his peace about the matter. I, too, have done so
for many a year, and only now recall the scene among the wild
transactions of early days and boyish follies.



WHAT a glorious thing it is when our first waking thoughts
not only dispel some dark depressing dream, but arouse us
to the consciousness of a new and bright career suddenly
opening before us, buoyant in hope, rich in promise for the future !
Life has nothing better than this. The bold spring by which the
mind clears the depth that separates misery from happiness, is
ecstasy itself; and, then, what a world of bright visions come teem-
ing before us — what plans we form — what promises we make to our-
selves in our own hearts — how prolific is the dullest imagination —
how excursive the tamest fancy, at such a moment ! In a few short
and fleeting seconds, the events of a whole life are planned and
pictured before us. Dreams of happiness and visions of bliss, oi
which all our after years are insufficient to eradicate the prestige a
come in myriads about us ; and from that narrow aperture through
which this new hope pierces into our heart, a flood of light is poured
that illumes our path to the very verge of the grave. How many a
success in after-days is reckoned but as one step in that ladder of
ambition some boyish review has framed, — perhaps, after all, des-
tined to be the first and only one ! With what triumph we hail
some goal attained, some object of our wishes gained, less for its
present benefit than as the accomplishment of some youthful pro-


phecy, when, picturing to our hearts all that we would have in life,
we whispered within us the flattery of success.

Who is there who has not had some such moment ? and who would
exchange it, with all the delusive and deceptive influences by which
it comes surrounded, for the greatest actual happiness he has par-
taken of? Alas ! alas ! it is only in the boundless expanse of such
imaginations, unreal and fictitious as they are, that we are truly
blessed. Our choicest blessings in life come even so associated
with some sources of care, that the cup of enjoyment is not pure,
but dregged in bitterness.

To such a world of bright anticipation did I awake on the morn-
ing after the events I have detailed in my last chapter. The
first thing my eyes fell upon was an oflicial letter from the Horse
Guards : —

" The Commander of the Forces desires that Mr. O'Malley will
report himself, immediately on receipt of this letter, at the head-
quarters of the regiment to which he is gazetted."

Few and simple as the lines were, how brimful of pleasure they
sounded to my ears. The regiment to which I was gazetted ! And
so I was a soldier at last ! the first wish of my boyhood was then
really accomplished. And my uncle — what will he say ? — what will
he think ?

"A letter, sir, by the post," said Mike, at the moment.

I seized it eagerly ; it came from home, but was in Considine's
handwriting. How my heart failed me as I turned to look at the
seal. " Thank God I" said I, aloud, on perceiving that it was a red
one. I now tore it open and read :

" My Dear Charley :— Godfrey being laid up with the gout,
has desired me to write to you by this day's post. Your appoint-
ment to the 14th, notwithstanding all his prejudices about the army,
has given him sincere pleasure. I believe, between ourselves, that
your college career, of which he has heard something, convinced
him that your forte did not lie in the classics ; you know I said so
always, but nobody minded me. Your new prospects are all that
your best friends could wish for you. You begin early ; your corps
is a crack one ; you are ordered for service. What could you have

" Your uncle hopes, if you can get a few days' leave, that you will
come down here before you join, and I hope so too ; for he is un-
usually low-spirited, and talks about never seeing you again, and all
that sort of thing.

" I have written to Merivale, your colonel, on this subject, as well


as generally on your behalf; we were cornets together forty years
ago ; a strict fellow you'll find him, but a trump on service. If you
can't manage the leave, write a long letter home, at all events ; and
so God bless you, and all success.

" Yours, sincerely,


" I had thought of writing you a long letter of advice for yous
new career, and, indeed, half accomplished one. After all, however,
I can tell you little that your own good sense will not teach you as
you go on, and experience is ever better than precept. I know of
but one rule in life which admits of scarcely any exception, and
having followed it upwards of sixty years, approve of it only the
more. Never quarrel when you can help it ; but meet any man —
your tailor, your hairdresser — if he wishes to have you out.

" W. C."

I had scarcely come to the end of this very characteristic epistle,
when two more letters were placed upon my table. One was from
Sir George Dashwood, inviting me to dinner, to meet some of my
"brother officers." How my heart beat at the expression. The
other was a short note, marked " Private," from my late tutor, Dr.
Mooney, saying, " that if I made a suitable apology to the Bursar
for the late affair at my room, he might probably be induced to
abandon any further step ; otherwise" — then followed innumerable
threats about fine, penalties, expulsion, &c, that fell harmlessly
upon my ears. I accepted the invitation ; declined the apology ;
and, having ordered my horse, cantered off to the barracks to con-
sult my friend Power as to all the minor details of my career.

As the dinner hour drew near, my thoughts became again fixed
upon Miss Dashwood, and a thousand misgivings crossed my mind
as to whether I should have nerve enough to meet her, without dis-
closing in my manner the altered state of my feelings — a possibility
which 1 now dreaded fully as much as I had longed some days before
to avow my affection for her, however slight its prospects of return.
All my valiant resolves, and well-contrived plans for appearing un-
moved and indifferent in her presence, with which I stored my mind
while dressing, and when on the way to dinner, were, however,
needless, for it was a party exclusively of men ; and as the coffee was
served in the dining-room, no move was made to the drawing-room
by any of the company. " Quite as well as it is !" was my muttered
opinion, as I got into my cab at the door. " All is at an end as re-
gards me in her esteem, and I must not spend my days sighing for a
young lady that cares for another." Very reasonable, very proper
resolutions these ; but, alas ! I went home to bed only to think half


the night long of the fair Lucy, and dream of her the remainder
of it.

When morning dawned, my first thought was, Shall I see her
once more ? shall I leave her forever thus abruptly ? or, rather, shall
I not unburden my bosom of its secret, confess my love, and say
farewell ? I felt such a course much more in unison with my wishes
than the day before ; and, as Power had told me that before a week
we should present ourselves at Fermoy, I knew that no time was to
be lost.

My determination was taken. I ordered my horse, and, early as
it was, rode out to the Royal Hospital. My heart beat so strongly
as 1 rode up to the door, that I half resolved to return. I rang the
bell. Sir George was in town. Miss Dashwood had just gone five
minutes before to spend some days at Carton. " It is fate I" thought
I, as I turned from the spot, and walked slowly beside my horse
towards Dublin.

In the few days that intervened before my leaving town, my time
was occupied from morning to night ; the various details of my uni-
form, outfit, &c, were undertaken for me by Power. My horses
were sent for to Galway, and I myself, with innumerable persons to
see, and a mass of business to transact, contrived, at least three times
a day, to ride out to the Royal Hospital, always to make some trifling
inquiry for Sir George, and always to hear repeated that Miss Dash-
wood had not returned.

Thus passed five of my last six days in Dublin, and as the morn-
ing of the last opened, it was with a sorrowing spirit that I felt my
hour of departure approach, without one only opportunity of seeing
Lucy, even to say good-bye.

While Mike was packing in one corner, and I in another was con-
cluding a long letter to my poor uncle, my door opened and Webber

" Eh, O'Malley, I'm only in time to say adieu ! it seems. To my
surprise this morning I found you had cut the 'Silent Sister.' I
feared I should be too late to catch one glimpse of you ere you started
for the wars."

" You are quite right, Master Frank, and I scarcely expected to
have seen you. Your last brilliant achievement at Sir George's very
nearly involved me in a serious scrape."

" A mere trifle. How confoundedly silly Power must have looked,
eh ? Should have liked so much to have seen his face. He booked
up next day — very proper fellow. By the bye, O'Malley, I rather like
the little girl ; she is decidedly pretty ; and her foot — did you remark
her foot? — capital."

" Yes, she's very good-looking," said I, carelessly.


" I'm thinking of cultivating her a little," said Webber, pulling
up his cravat and adjusting hi* hair at the glass. " She's spoiled by-
all the tinsel vaporing of her hussar and aide-de-camp acquaintances ;
but something may be done for her, eh?"

" With your most able assistance and kind intentions."

" That's what I mean exactly. Sorry you're going — devilish sorry.
You served out Stone gloriously : perhaps it's as well, though ; you
know they'd have expelled you. But still something might turn up ;

Online LibraryCharles James LeverCharles O'Malley, the Irish dragon → online text (page 15 of 80)