Charles James Lever.

Charles O'Malley, the Irish dragon online

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VIII.— The Night March, 426

IX.— The Journey, 430

X.— The Ghost, 436

XI.— Lisbon, 442

XII.— A Pleasant Predicament, 450

XIII.— The Dinner, 453

XIV.— The Letter, 457

XV.— The Villa, 463

XVI.— The Visit, 469

XVIL— The Confession, 473

XVIII.— My Charger, 479

XIX.— Maurice, 483

XX.— The Masquerade, 488

XXL— The Lines, 497

XXIL— The Eetreat of the French, 501

XXIIL— Patrick's Day in the Peninsula, 504

XXIV.— Fuentes d'Onoro, 519

XXV.— The Battle of Fuentes d'Onoro, 523

XXVL— A Rencontre, 532

XXVIL— Almeida, 537

XXVIIL— A Night on the Azava, 539

XXIX.— Mike's Mistake, 551

XXX.— Major Monsoon in Trouble, 558

XXXI.— The Confidence, 567

XXXIL— The Cantonment, 572

XXXIIL— Mickey Free's Adventure, 576

XXXIV.— The San Petro, 581




XXXV.— The Count's Letter, 589

XXXVI.— The Trenches, 593

XXXVII.— The Storming op Ciudad Rodrigo, 598

XXXVIII.— The Rampart, 601

XXXIX.— The Despatch, 607

XL.— The Leave, 610

XLL— London, 618

XLIL— The Bell: at Bristol, ,623

XLIIL— Ireland, 631

XLIV.— The Return, 640

XLV.— Home, 644

XLVI. — An Old Acquaintance, 652

XLVII.— A Surprise, 659

XLVIIL— New Views, 669

XLIX.— A Recognition, 674

L.— A Mistake, 680

LI.— Brussels, 689

LIL— An Old Acquaintance, 698

LIIL— The Duchess of Richmond's Ball, * .706

LIV.— Quatre Bras, . • .717

LV.— Waterloo, - .733

LVI. — Brussels, » .748

LVIL— Conclusion, r . 754


®he Jrish Dragoon,



THE rain was dashing in torrents against the window-panes,
and the wind sweeping in heavy and fitful gusts along the
dreary and deserted streets, as a party of three persons sat over
their wine, in that stately old pile which once formed the resort of
the Irish members, in College Green, Dublin, and went by the name
of Daly's Club House. The clatter of falling tiles and chimney-pots,
the jarring of the window-frames and howling of the storm without,
seemed little to affect the spirits of those within, as they drew closer
to a blazing fire, before which stood a small table covered with the
remains of a dessert, and an abundant supply of bottles, whose
characteristic length of neck indicated the rarest wines of France
and Germany. While the portly magnum of claret — the wine par
excellence of every Irish gentleman of the day — passed rapidly from
hand to hand, the conversation did not languish, and many a deep
and hearty laugh followed the stories which every now and then
were told, as some reminiscence of early days was recalled, or some
trait of a former companion remembered.

One of the party, however, was apparently engrossed by other
thoughts than those of the mirth and merriment around; for,
in the midst of all, he would turn suddenly from the others, and
devote himself to a number of scattered sheets of paper, upon
which he had written some lines, but whose crossed and blotted
sentences attested how little success had waited upon his literary
labors. This individual was a short, plethoric-looking, white-
haired man of about fifty, with a deep, round voice, and a chuck-
ling, smothering laugh, which, whenever he indulged, not only
shook his own ample person, but generally created a petty earth-
2 (17)


quake on every side of him. For the present, I shall not stop to
particularize him more closely; but when I add tfeat the person in
question was a well-known member of the Irish House of Com-
mons, whose acute undemanding arid' practical good sense were
veiled under an affected and well-dissembled habit of blundering,
that did far more for his party than the most violent and pointed
attacks of his more accurate associates, some of my readers may
anticipate me in pronouncing him to be Sir Harry Boyle. Upon
his left sat a figure the most unlike him possible ; he was a tall,
thin, bony man, with a bolt-upright air, and a most saturnine ex-
pression ; his eyes were covered by a deep green shade, which fell
far over his face, but failed to conceal a blue scar that, crossing his
cheek, ended in the angle of his mouth, and imparted to that
feature, when he spoke, an apparently abortive attempt to extend
towards his eyebrow ; his upper lip was covered with a grizzly and
ill-trimmed moustache, which added much to the ferocity of his
look, while a thin and pointed beard on his chin gave an apparent
length to the whole face that completed its rueful character. His
dress was a single-breasted, tightly-buttoned frock, in one button-
hole of which a yellow ribbon was fastened, the decoration of a
foreign service, which conferred upon its wearer the title of Count ;
and though Billy Considine, as he was familiarly called by his
friends, was a thorough Irishman in all his feelings and affections,
yet he had no objection to the designation he had gained in the
Austrian army. The Count was certajnly no beauty, but, somehow,
very few men of his day had a fancy for telling him so; a deadlier
hand and a steadier eye never covered his man in the Phoenix ; and
though he never had a seat in the House, he was always regarded
as one of the government party, who more than once had dampened
the ardor of an opposition member, by the very significant threat
of " setting Billy at him." The third figure of the group was a
large, powerfully-built, and handsome man, older than either of the
others, but not betraying in his voice or carriage any touch of time.
He was attired in the green coat and buff vest which formed the
livery of the club ; and in his tall, ample forehead, clear, well-set
eye, and still handsome mouth, bore evidence that no great flattery
was necessary at the time which called Godfrey O'Malley the hand-
somest man in Ireland.

" Upon my conscience," said Sir Harry, throwing down his pen
with an air of ill-temper, "I can make nothing of it; I have got
into such an infernal habit of making bulls, that I can't write sense
when I want it."

" Come, come," said O'Malley, " try again, my dear fellow. If
you can't succeed, I'm sure Billy and I have no chance."


" What have you written ? Let us see," said Considine, drawing
the paper towards him, and holding it to the light. " Why, what
the devil is all this? You have made him 'drop down dead after
dinner of a lingering illness, brought on by the debate of yester-
' " Oh, impossible !"

" Well, read it yourself — there it is ; and, as if to make the thing
less credible, you talk of his ' Bill for the Better Kecovery of Small
Debts.' I'm sure, O'Malley, your last moments were not employed
in that manner."

" Come, now," said Sir Harry, " I'll set all to rights with a post-
script. ' Any one who questions the above statement, is politely
requested to call on Mr. Considine, 16 Kildare street, who will feej.
happy to afford him every satisfaction upon Mr. O'Malley 's decease,
or upon miscellaneous matters.' "

" Worse and worse," said O'Malley. " Killing another man will
never persuade the world that I am dead."

" But we'll wake you, and have a glorious funeral."

"And if any man doubt the statement, I'll call him out," said the

" Or, better still," said Sir Harry, " O'Malley has his action at
law for defamation."

" I see I'll never get down to Galway at this rate," said O'Malley ;
" and as the new election takes place on Tuesday week, time presses.
There are more writs flying after me this instant than for all the
government boroughs."

" And there will be fewer returns, I fear," said Sir Harry.

" Who is the chief creditor ?" asked the Count.

" Old Stapleton, the attorney in Fleet street, has most of the

" Nothing to be done with him in this way ?" said Considine, bal-
ancing the cork-screw like a hair trigger.

" No chance of it."

" May be," said Sir Harry, " he might come to terms if I were to
call and say, You are anxious to close accounts, as your death has
just taken place. You know what I mean."

" I fear so should he, were you to say so. No, no, Boyle, just try
a plain, straightforward paragraph about my death. - We'll have it
in Falkner's paper to-morrow ; on Friday the funeral can take place,
and, with the blessing o' God, I'll come to life on Saturday at Ath-
lone, in time to canvass the market."

" I think it wouldn't be bad if your ghost were to appear to old
Timins the tanner, in Naas, on your way down; you know he
arrested you once before."


" 1 prefer a night's sleep," said O'Malley ; " but come, finish the
squib for the paper."

"Stay a little," said Sir Harry, musing; "it just strikes me that
if ever the matter gets out, I may be in some confounded scrape.
Who knows if it is not a breach of privilege to report the death of
a member ? And to tell you the truth, I dread the Sergeant and the
Speaker's warrant with a very lively fear."

"Why, when did you make his acquaintance?" asked the

" Is it possible you never heard of Boyle's committal ?" said
O'Malley ; " you surely must have been abroad at the time ; but it's
not too late to tell it yet."

" Well, it's about two years since old Townsend brought in his
Enlistment Bill, and the whole country was scoured for all our
voters, who were scattered here and there, never anticipating ano-
ther call of the House, and supposing that the session was just over.
Among others, up came our friend Harry, here, and the night he
arrived they made him a ' Monk of the Screw,' and very soon made
him forget his senatorial dignities.

" On the evening after his reaching town, the bill was brought in,
and at two in the morning the division took place. A vote was of
too much consequence not to look after it closely, and a Castle
messenger was in waiting in Exchequer street, who, when the debate
was closing, put Harry, with three others, into a coach, and brought
them down to the House. Unfortunately, however, they mistook
their friends, voted against the bill, and, amid the loudest cheering
of the opposition, the government party were defeated. The rage
of the ministers knew no bounds, and looks of defiance and even
threats were exchanged between the ministers and the deserters.
Amid all this poor Harry fell fast asleep, and dreamed that he was
once more in Exchequer street, presiding amongst the monks, and
mixing another tumbler. At length he awoke and looked about
him. The clerk was just at the instant reading out, in his usual
routine manner, a clause of the new bill, and the remainder of the
House was in dead silence. Harry again looked around on every
side, wondering where was the hot water, and what had become of
the whisky bottle, and above all, why the company were so ex-
tremely dull and ungenial. At length, with a half shake, he roused
up a little, and giving a look of unequivocal contempt on every
side, called out, 'Upon my soul, you're very pleasant compan-
ions — but I'll give you a chant to enliven you.' So saying, he
cleared his throat with a couple of short coughs, and at once struck
up, with the voice of a Stentor, the following verse of a popular


" 'And they nibbled away, both night and day,
Like mice in a round of Glo'ster;
Great rogues they were all, both great and small,
From Flood to Leslie Foster.

" ' Great rogues all.'

" ' Chorus, boys I*

" If he was not joined by the voices of his friends in the song, it
was probably because such a roar of laughing never was heard since
the walls were roofed over. The whole House rose in a mass, and
my friend Harry was hurried over the benches by the Sergeant-
at-Arms, and left for three weeks in Newgate to practice his

" All true," said Sir Harry, " and worse luck to them for not
liking music ; but come now, will this do ? — ' It is our melancholy
duty to announce the death of Godfrey O'Malley, Esq., late mem-
ber for the county of Galway, which took place on Friday evening,
at Daly's Club House. This esteemed gentleman's family, one of
the oldest in Ireland, and among whom it was hereditary not to
have any children " '

Here a burst of laughter from Considine and O'Malley interrupted
the reader, who with the greatest difficulty could be persuaded that
Jae was again bulling it.

" The devil fly away with it," said he ; " I'll never succeed."

" Never mind," said O'Malley ; " the first part will do admirably ;
and let us now turn our attention to other matters."

A fresh magnum was called for, and over its inspiring contents
all the details of the funeral were planned. As the clock struck
four, the party separated for the night, well satisfied with the result
of their labors.



WHEN the dissolution of Parliament was announced the fol-
lowing morning in Dublin, its interest in certain circles was
manifestly increased by the fact that Godfrey O'Malley was
at last opeivto arrest ; for as in olden times certain gifted individuals
possessed some happy immunity against death by fire or sword, so the
worthy O'Malley seemed to enjoy a no less valuable privilege, and
for many a year had passed among the myrmidons of the law as
writ-proof. Now, however, the charm seemed to have yielded, and
pretty much with the same feeling as a storming party may be sup-


posed to experience on the day that a breach is reported as practi-
cable, did the honest attorneys retained in the various suits against
him rally round each other that morning in the Four Courts.

Bonds, mortgages, post-obits, promissory notes, — in fact, every
imaginable species of invention for raising the O'Malley exchequer
for the preceding thirty years, — were handed about on all sides,
suggesting to the mind of an uninterested observer the notion that
had the aforesaid O'Malley been an independent and absolute mon-
arch, instead of merely being the member for Galway, the kingdom
over whose destinies he had been called to preside would have suf-
fered not a little from a depreciated currency and an extravagant
issue of paper. Be that as it might, one thing was clear : the whole
estates of the family could not possibly pay one-fourth of the debt,
and the only question was one which occasionally arises at a scanty
dinner on a mail-coach road — who was to be the lucky individual to
carve the joint, where so many were sure to go off hungry.

It was now a trial of address between these various and highly-
gifted gentlemen who should first pounce upon the victim, and when
the skill of their caste is taken into consideration, who will doubt
that every feasible expedient for securing him was resorted to?
While writs were struck against him in Dublin, emissaries were
despatched to the various surrounding counties to procure others in*
the event of his escape. Ne exeats were sworn, and water-bailiffs
engaged to follow him on the high seas ; and as the great Nassau
balloon did not exist in those days, no imaginable mode of escape
appeared possible, and bets were offered at long odds that within
twenty-four hours the late member would be enjoying his otium cum
dignitate in his Majesty's gaol of Newgate.

Expectation was at the highest — confidence hourly increasing —
success all but certain — when, in the midst of all this high-bounding
hope, the dreadful rumor spread that O'Malley was no more. One
had seen it just five minutes before in the evening edition of Falk-
ner's paper, another heard it in the courts, a third overheard the
Chief Justice stating it to the Master of the Eolls, and, lastly, a
breathless witness arrived from College Green with the news that
Daly's Club House was shut up, and the shutters closed. To de-
scribe the consternation the intelligence caused on every side is
impossible ; nothing in history equals it, except, perhaps, the en-
trance of the French army into Moscow, deserted and forsaken by
its former inhabitants. While terror and dismay, therefore, spread
amid that wide and respectable body who formed O'Malley's cred-
itors, the preparations for his funeral were going on with every
rapidity ; relays of horses were ordered at every stage of the journey,
and it was announced that, in testimony of his worth, a large party


of his friends were to accompany his remains to Portumna Abbey —
a test much more indicative of resistance in the event of any at-
tempt to arrest the body than of anything like reverence for their
departed friend.

Such was the state of matters in Dublin, when a letter reached
me one morning at O'Malle^ Castle, whose contents will at once
explain the writer's intention, and also serve to introduce my un-
worthy self to my reader. It ran thus : —

" Dear Charley : — Your uncle Godfrey, whose debts (God par-
don him) are more numerous than the hairs of his wig, was obliged
to die here last night. We did the thing for him completely ; and
all doubts as to the reality of the event are silenced by the circum-
stantial detail of the newspaper ' that he was confined six weeks to
his bed from a cold he caught, ten days ago, while on guard/ Ke-
peat this, for it's better we had all the same story till he comes to
life again, which, maybe, will not take place before Tuesday or
Wednesday. At the same time, canvass the county for him, and
say he'll be with his friends next week, and up in Woodford and
the ScarifF barony. Say he died a true Catholic ; it will serve him
on the hustings. Meet us in Athlone on Saturday, and bring your
uncle's mare with you — he says he'd rather ride home ; and tell
Father M'Shane to have a bit of dinner ready about four o'clock,
for the corpse can get nothing after he leaves Mountmellick. No
more now, from yours, ever,

"Harry Boyle.

" Daly's, about eight in the evening.
" To Charles O'Maixey, Esq.,
O'Malley Castle, Galway."

When this not over-clear document reached me, I was the sole
inhabitant of O'Malley Castle, a very ruinous pile of incongruous
masonry, that stood in a wild and dreary part of the county of Gal-
way, bordering on the Shannon. On every side stretched the prop-
erty of my uncle, or at least what had once been so ; and, indeed,
so numerous were its present claimants, that he would have been a
subtle lawyer who could have pronounced upon the rightful owner.
The demesne around the castle contained some well-grown and
handsome timber, and, as the soil was undulating and fertile, pre-
sented many features of beauty ; beyond it, all was sterile, bleak,
and barren. Long tracts of brown heath-clad mountain, or not less
unprofitable valleys of tall and waving fern, were all that the eye
could discern, except where the broad Shannon, expanding into a
tranquil and glassy lake, lay still and motionless beneath the dark


mountains — a few islands, with some ruined churches and a round
tower, alone freaking the dreary waste of water.

Here it was that I had passed my infancy and my youth, and
here I now stood, at the age of seventeen, quite unconscious that
the world contained aught fairer and brighter than that gloomy
valley, with its rugged frame of mountains.

When a mere child, I was left an orphan to the care of my wor-
thy uncle. My father, whose extravagance had well sustained the
family reputation, had squandered a large and handsome property
in contesting elections for his native county, and in keeping up that
system of unlimited hospitality for which Ireland in general, and
Galway more especially, was renowned. The result was, as might
be expected, ruin and beggary. He died, leaving every one of his
estates encumbered with heavy debts, and the only legacy he left to
his brother was a boy of four years of age, entreating him, with his
last breath, " Be anything you like to him, Godfrey, but a father, or
at least such a one as I have proved."

Godfrey O'Malley, some short time previous, had lost his wife,
and when this new trust was committed to him, he resolved never to
remarry, but to rear me up as his own child, and the inheritor of
his estates. How weighty and onerous an obligation this latter
might prove, the reader can form some idea. The intention was.
however, a kind one ; and to do my uncle justice, he loved me with
all the affection of a warm and open heart.

From my earliest years his whole anxiety was to fit me for the
part of a country gentleman, as he regarded that character — viz., I
rode boldly with fox-hounds; I was about the best shot within
twenty miles of us ; I could swim the Shannon at Holy Island ; I
drove four-in-hand better than the coachman himself; and from
finding a hare to hooking a salmon, my equal could not be found
from Kilaloe to Banagher. These were the staple of my endow-
ments. Besides which, the parish priest had taught me a little
Latin, a little French, and a little geometry, and a great deal of
the life and opinions of St. Jago, who presided over a holy well in
the neighborhood, and was held in very considerable repute.

When I add to this portraiture of my accomplishments that I was
nearly six feet high, with more than a common share of activity and
strength for my years, and no inconsiderable portion of good looks,
I have finished my sketch, and stand before my reader.

It is now time I should return to Sir Harry's letter, which so com-
pletely bewildered me, that but for the assistance of Father Roach, I
should have been totally unable to make out the writer's intentions.
By his advice, I immediately set out for Athlone, where, when I
arrived, I found my uncle addressing the mob from the top of the


hearse, and recounting his miraculous escape as a new claim upon
their gratitude.

" There was nothing else for it, boys ; the Dublin people insisted
on my being their member, and besieged the club-house. I refused —
they threatened — I grew obstinate — they furious. ' I'll die first/
said I. * Galway or nothing !' " "Hurrah I" from the mob. "O'Mal-
ley forever I" "And ye see, I kept my word, boys — I did die ; I died
that evening at a quarter-past eight. There, read it for yourselves ;
there's the paper; was waked and carried out, and here I am
after all, ready to die in earnest for you — but never to desert you."

The cheers here were deafening, and my uncle was carried through
the market, down to the mayor's house, who, being a friend of the
opposite party, was complimented with three groans ; then up the
Mall to the chapel, beside which Father M'Shane resided. He was"
then suffered to touch the earth once more, when, having shaken
hands with all his constituency within reach, ne entered the house,
to partake of the kindest welcome and best reception the good priest
could afford him.

My uncle's progress homeward was a triumph ; the real secret of
his escape had somehow come out, and his popularity rose to a white
heat. "An' it's little O'Malley cares for the law — bad luck to it ;
it's himself can laugh at judge and jury. Arrest him ! Nabock-
lish — catch a weasel asleep," &c. Such were the encomiums that
greeted him as he passed on towards home, while shouts of joy and
blazing bonfires attested that his success was regarded as a national

The west has certainly its strong features of identity. Had my
uncle possessed the claims of the immortal Howard, — had he united
in his person all the attributes which confer a lasting and an en-
nobling fame upon humanity, — he might have passed on unnoticed
and unobserved ; but for the man that had duped a judge and
escaped the sheriff, nothing was sufficiently flattering to mark their
approbation. The success of the exploit was twofold; the news
spread far and near, and the very story canvassed the county better
than Billy Davern himself, the Athlone attorney.

This was the prospect now before us; and, however little my
readers may sympathize with my taste, I must honestly avow that I
looked forward to it with a most delighted feeling. O'Malley Castle
was to be the centre of operations, and filled with my uncle's sup-
porters ; while I, a mere stripling, and usually treated as a boy,
was to be entrusted with an important mission, and sent off to can-
vass a distant relation, with whom my uncle was not upon terms,
and who might possibly be approachable by a younger branch of the
family, with whom he had never any collision.




NOTHING but the exigency of the case could ever have per-
suaded my uncle to stoop to the humiliation of canvassing the
individual to whom I was now about to proceed as envoy ex-
traordinary, with full powers to make any or every amende, provided

Online LibraryCharles James LeverCharles O'Malley, the Irish dragon → online text (page 2 of 80)