Charles James Lever.

The Knight Of Gwynne, Vol. I (of II) online

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him resigning his seat in the House; this morning he would send a
request to Lord Castlereagh, begging he might be permitted to accept an
escheatorship; I need not say how willingly the proposal was accepted,
and his name will appear in the 'Gazette' to-morrow morning."

"This conduct, if persisted in, will ruin our case," said the lawyer,
despondingly. "I cannot comprehend his reasons for it."

"They are simple enough: his own words were, 'I can never continue to be
a member of the legislature when the only privilege it would confer is
freedom from arrest.'"

"A very valuable one at this crisis, if he knew but all," muttered the
other. "You will write to young Darcy at once."

"That he has done already, and to Lady Eleanor also; and as he expects
me at seven, I 'll take my leave of you till to-morrow."

"Well, Daly," said the Knight, as his friend entered the drawing-room
before dinner, "how do you like the lawyer?"

"He's a shrewd fellow, and I suppose, for his calling, an honest one;
but the habit of making the wrong seem right leads to a very great
inclination to reverse the theorem, and make the right seem wrong."

"He thinks badly of our case, is n't that so?"

"He 'd think much better of it, and of us too, I believe, if both were

"I am just as well pleased that it is not so," said Darcy, smiling; "a
bad case is far more endurable than a bad conscience. But here comes
dinner, and I have got my appetite back again."


To rescue our friend Bagenal Daly from any imputation the circumstance
might suggest, it is as well to observe here, that when he issued the
order to his servant to seek out the boy who brought the intelligence of
Gleeson's flight, he was merely relying on that knowledge of the obscure
recesses of Old Dublin which Sandy possessed, and not by any means upon
a distinct acquaintance with gentlemen of the same rank and station as

When Daly first took up his residence in the capital, many, many years
before, he was an object of mob worship. He had every quality necessary
for such. He was immensely rich, profusely spendthrift, and eccentric to
an extent that some characterized as insanity. His dress, his equipage,
his liveries, his whole retinue and style of living were strange and
unlike other men's, while his habits of life bid utter defiance to every
ordinance of society.

In the course of several years' foreign travel he had made acquaintances
the most extraordinary and dissimilar, and many of these were led to
visit him in his own country. Dublin being less resorted to by strangers
than most cities, the surprise of its inhabitants was proportionably
great as they beheld, not only Hungarians and Russian nobles, with
gorgeous equipages and splendid retinues, driving through the streets,
but Turks, Armenians, and Greeks, in full costume; and, on one occasion,
Daly's companion on a public promenade was no less remarkable a person
than a North American chief, in all the barbaric magnificence of his
native dress. To obviate the inconvenience of that mob accompaniment
such spectacles would naturally attract, Daly entered into a compact
with the leaders of the varions sets or parties of low Dublin, by which,
on payment of a certain sum, he was guaranteed in the enjoyment of
appearing in public without a following of several hundred ragged
wretches in full cry after him. Nothing could be more honorable and fair
than the conduct of both parties in this singular treaty; the subsidy
was regularly paid through the hands of Sandy M'Grane, while the
subsidized literally observed every article of the contract, and not
only avoided any molestation on their own parts, but were a formidable
protective force in the event of any annoyance from others of a superior
rank in society.

The hawkers of the various newspapers were the deputies with whom
Sandy negotiated this treaty, they being recognized as the legitimate
interpreters of mob opinion through the capital; men who combined an
insight into local grievances with a corresponding knowledge of general
politics; and certain it is, their sway must have been both respected
and well protected, for a single transgression of the compact with Daly
never occurred.

Bagenal Daly troubled his head very little in the matter, it is true;
for his own sake he would never have thought of such a bargain, but he
detested the thought of foreigners carrying away with them from Ireland
any unpleasant memories of mob outrage or insult; and desired that the
only remembrance they should preserve of his native country should be of
its cordial and hospitable reception. A great many years had now elapsed
since these pleasant times, and Daly's name was scarcely more than a
tradition among those who now lounged in rags and idleness through the
capital, - a fact of which he could have had little doubt himself, if he
had reflected on that crowd which followed his own steps but a few days
before. Of this circumstance, however, he took little or no notice, and
gave his orders to Sandy with the same conscious power he had wielded
nearly fifty years back.

A small public-house, called the Moon, in Duck Alley, a narrow lane off
the Cross Poddle, was the resort of this Rump Parliament, and thither
Sandy betook himself on a Saturday evening, the usual night of meeting,
as, there being no issue of newspapers the next morning, nothing
interfered with a prolonged conviviality. Often and often had he taken
the same journey at the same hour; but now, such is the effect of a long
interval of years, the way seemed narrower and more crooked than ever,
while as he went not one familiar face welcomed him as he passed; nor
could he recognize, as of yore, his acquaintances amid the various
disguises of black eyes and smashed noses, which were frequent on every
side. It was the hour when crime and guilt, drunken rage and grief,
mingled together their fearful agencies; and every street and alley was
crowded by half-naked wretches quarrelling and singing: some screaming
in accents of heartbroken anguish; others shouting their blasphemies
with voices hoarse from passion; age and infancy, manhood in its prime,
the mother and the young girl, were all there, reeling from drunkenness,
or faint from famine; some struggling in deadly conflict, others bathing
the lips and temples of ebbing life.

Through this human hell Sandy wended his way, occasionally followed by
the taunting ribaldry of such as remarked him: such testimonies were
very unlike his former welcomes in these regions; but for this honest
Sandy cared little; his real regret was to see so much more evidence of
depravity and misery than before. Drunkenness and its attendant vices
were no new evils, it is true; but he thought all these were fearfully
aggravated by what he now witnessed: loud and violent denunciations
against every rank above their own, imprecations on the Parliament and
the gentry that "sowld Ireland:" as if any political perfidy could
be the origin of their own degraded and revolting condition! Such
is, however, the very essence of that spirit that germinates amid
destitution and crime, and it is a dangerous social crisis when the
masses begin to attribute their own demoralization to the vices of their
betters. It well behooves those in high places to make their actions and
opinions conform to their great destinies.

Sandy's Northern blood revolted at these brutal excesses, and the savage
menaces he heard on every side; but perhaps his susceptibilities were
more outraged by one trail of popular injustice than all the rest, and
that was to hear Hickman O'Reilly extolled by the mob for his patriotic
rejection of bribery, while the Knight of Gwynne was held up to
execration by every epithet of infamy; ribald jests and low ballads
conveying the theme of attack upon his spotless character.

The street lyrics of the day were divided in interest between the late
rebellion and the act of Union; the former being, however, the favorite
theme, from a species of irony peculiar to this class of poetry, in
which certain living characters were held up to derision or execration.
The chief chorist appeared to be a fiend-like old woman, with one
eye, and a voice like a cracked bassoon: she was dressed in a cast-off
soldier's coat and a man's hat, and neither from face nor costume had
few feminine traits. This fair personage, known by the name of Rhoudlum,
was, on her appearing, closely followed by a mob of admiring amateurs,
who seemed to form both her body-guard and her chorus. When Sandy found
himself fast wedged up in this procession, the enthusiasm was at its
height, in honor of an elegant new ballad called "The Two Majors."
The air, should our reader be musically given, was the well-known one,
"There was a Miller had Three Sons:" -

"Says Major Sirr to Major Swan,
You have two rebels, give me one;
They pay the same for one as two,
I 'll get five pounds, and I 'll share with you.
Toi! loi! loi! lay."

"That's the way the blackguards sowld yer blood, boys!" said the hag, in
recitative; "pitch caps, the ridin' house, and the gallows was iligant
tratement for wearin' the green."

"Go on, Rhoudlum, go on wid the song," chimed in her followers, who
cared more for the original text than prose vulgate.

"Arn't I goin' on wid it?" said the hag, as fire flashed in her eye; "is
it the likes of you is to tache me how to modulate a strain?" And she
resumed: -

"Says Major Swan to Major Sirr,
One man's a woman! ye may take her.
'T is little we gets for them at all -
Oh! the curse of Cromwell be an ye all!
Toi! loi! loll lay."

The grand Demosthenic abruptness of the last line was the signal for
an applauding burst of voices, whose sincerity it would be unfair to

[Illustration: 288]

"Where are you pushin' to! bad scran to ye! ye ugly varmint!" said the
lady, as Sandy endeavored to force his passage through the crowd.

"Hurroo! by the mortial, it's Daly's man!" screamed she, in transport,
as the accidental light of a window showed Sandy's features.

Few, if any, of those around had ever seen him; but his name and his
master's were among the favored traditions of the place, and however
unwilling to acknowledge the acquaintance, Sandy had no help for it but
to exchange greetings and ask the way to "the Moon," which he found he
had forgotten.

"There it is fornint ye, Mr. M'Granes," said the lady, in the most
dulcet tones; "and if it's thinking of trating me ye are, 't is a
'crapper' in a pint of porter I 'd take; nothing stronger would sit on
my heart now."

"Ye shall hae it," said Sandy; "but come into the house."

"I darn't do it, sir; the committee is sittin' - don't ye see, besides,
the moon lookin' at you?" And she pointed to a rude representation of a
crescent moon, formed by a kind of transparency in the middle of a large
window, a signal which Sandy well knew portended that the council were
assembled within.

"Wha's the man, noo?" said Sandy, with one foot on the threshold.

"The ould stock still, darlint," said Rhoudlum, - "don't ye know his

"That's Paul Donellan, - I ken him noo."

"Be my conscience! there's no mistake. Ye can hear his screech from the
Poddle to the Pigeon House when the wind's fair."

Sandy put a shilling into the hag's hand, and, without waiting for
further parley, entered the little dark hall, and turning a corner he
well remembered, pressed a button and opened the door into the room
where the party were assembled.

"Who the blazes are you? What brings you here?" burst from a score of
rude voices together, while every hand grasped some projectile to hurl
at the devoted intruder.

"Ask Paul Donellan who I am, and he'll tell ye," said Sandy, sternly,
while, with a bold contempt for the hostile demonstrations, he walked
straight up to the head of the room.

The recognition on which he reckoned so confidently was not forthcoming,
for the old decrepit creature who, cowering beneath the wig of some
defunct chancellor, presided, stared at him with eyes bleared with age
and intemperance, but seemed unable to detect him as an acquaintance.

"Holy Paul does n't know him!" said half-a-dozen together, as, in
passionate indignation, they arose to resent the intrusion.

"He may remember this better," said Sandy, as, seizing a full bumper
of whiskey from the board, he threw it into the lamp beneath the
transparency, and in a moment the moon flashed forth, and displayed its
face at the full. The spell was magical, and a burst of savage welcome
broke from every mouth, while Donellan, as if recalled to consciousness,
put his hand trumpet-fashion to his lips, and gave a shout that made the
very glasses ring upon the board. Place was now made for Sandy at the
table, and a wooden vessel called "a noggin" set before him, whose
contents he speedily tested by a long draught.

"I may as weel tell you," said Sandy, "that I am Bagenal Daly's man. I
mind the time it wad na hae been needful to say so much, - my master's
picture used to hang upon that wall."

Had Sandy proclaimed himself the Prince of Wales the announcement could
not have met with more honor, and many a coarse and rugged grasp of the
hand attested the pleasure his presence there afforded.

"We have the picture still," said a young fellow, whose frank,
good-humored face contrasted strongly with many of those around him;
"but that old divil, Paul, always told us it was a likeness of himself
when he was young."

"Confound the scoundrel!" said Sandy, indignantly; "he was no mair like
my maister than a Dutch skipper is like a chief of the Delawares. Has
the creature lost his senses a'togither?"

"By no manner of manes. He wakes up every now and then wid a speech, or
a bit of poethry, or a sentiment."

"Ay," said another, "or if a couple came in to be married, see how the
old chap's eyes would brighten, and how he would turn the other side of
his wig round before you could say 'Jack Robinson.'"

This was literally correct, and was the simple manouvre by which Holy
Paul converted himself into a clerical character, the back of his wig
being cut in horse-shoe fashion, in rude imitation of that worn by
several of the bishops.

"Watch him now - watch him now!" said one in Sandy's ears; and the old
fellow passed his hand across his eyes as if to dispel some painful
thought, while his careworn features were lit up with a momentary flash
of sardonic drollery.

"Your health, sir," said he to Sandy; "or, as Terence has it, 'Hic tibi,
Dave' - here 's to you, Davy."

"A toast, Paul! a toast! Something agin the Union, - something agin old

"Fill up, gentlemen," said Paul, in a clear and distinct voice. "I
beg to propose a sentiment which you will drink with a bumper. Are you

"Ready!" screamed all together.

"Here, then, - repeat after me: -

"Whether he's out, or whether he's in,
It does n't signify one pin;
Here's every curse of every sin
On Maurice Darcy, Knight of Gwynne."

"Hold!" shouted Sandy, as he drew a double-barrelled pistol from his
bosom. "By the saul o' my body the man that drinks that toast shall
hae mair in his waim than hot water and whiskey. Maurice Darcy is my
maister's friend, and a better gentleman never stepped in leather: who
dar say no?"

"Are we to drink it, Paul?"

"As I live by drink," cried Paul, stretching out both hands, "this is
my _alter ego_, my duplicate self, Sanders M'Grane's, 'revisiting the
glimpses of the moon,' _post totidem annos!_" And a cordial embrace now
followed, which at once dispelled the threatened storm.

"Mr. M'Grane's health in three times three, gentlemen;" and, rising,
Paul gave the signal for each cheer as he alone could give it.

Sandy had now time to throw a glance around the table, where, however,
not one familiar face met his own; that they were of the same calling
and order as his quondam associates in the same place he could have
little doubt, even had that fact not been proclaimed by the names of
various popular journals affixed to their hats, and by whose titles
they were themselves addressed. The conversation, too, had the same
sprinkling of politics, town gossip, and late calamities he well
remembered of yore, interspersed with lively commentaries on public men
which, if printed, would have been suggestive of libel.

[Illustration: 292]

The new guest soon made himself free of the guild by a proposal to treat
the company, on the condition that he might be permitted to have five
minutes' conversation with their president in an adjoining room. He
might have asked much more in requital for his liberality, and without a
moment's delay, or even apprising Paul of what was intended, the "Dublin
Journal" and the "Free Press" took him boldly between them and carried
him into a closet off the room where the carouse was held.

"I know what you are at," said Paul, as soon as the door closed. "Daly
wants a rising of the Liberty boys for the next debate, - don't deny it,
it's no use. Well, now, listen, and don't interrupt me. Tom Conolly came
down from the Castle yesterday and offered me five pounds for a good
mob to rack a house, and two-ten if they'd draw Lord Clare home; but
I refused, - I did, on the virtue of my oath. There's patriotism for
ye! - yer soul, where 's the man wid only one shirt and a supplement to
his back would do the same?"

"You 're wrang, - we dinna want them devils at a'; it 's a sma' matter of
inquiry I cam about. Ye ken Freney?"

"Is it the Captain? Whew!" said Paul, with a long whistle.

"It's no him," resumed Sandy, "but a wee bit of a callant they ca'

"Jemmy the diver, - the divil's own grandson, that he is."

"Where can I find him?" said Sandy, impatiently.

"Wait a bit, and you'll be sure to see him at home in his lodgings in

"I must find him out at once; put me on his track, and I 'll gie a
goold guinea in yer hand, mon. I mean the young rascal no harm; it's a
question I want him to answer me, that's all."

"Well, I'll do my best to find him for you, but I must send down to the
country. I'll have to get a man to go beyond Kilcullen."

"We 'll pay any expense."

"Sure I know that." And here Paul began a calculation to himself of
distances and charges only audible to Sandy's ears at intervals: "Two
and four, and six, with a glass of punch at Naas - half an hour at
Tims' - the coach at Athy - ay, that will do it. Have ye the likes of a
pair of ould boots or shoes? I 've nothing but them, and the soles
is made out of two pamphlets of Roger Connor's, and them's the driest
things I could get."

"I'll gie ye a new pair."

"You 're the son of Fingal of the Hills, divil a less. And now if ye had
a cast-off waistcoat - I don't care for the color - orange or green, blue
or yellow, _Tros Tyriusve mihiy_ as we said in Trinity."

"Ye shall hae a coat to cover your old bones. But let us hae nae mair o'
this - when may I expect to see the boy?"

"The evening after next, at eight o'clock, at the corner of Essex
Bridge, Capel Street - 'on the Rialto' - eh? that's the cue. And now let
us join the revellers - _per Jove_, but I'm dry." And so saying, the
miserable old creature broke from Sandy, and, assisted by the wall,
tottered back to the room to his drunken companions, where his voice was
soon heard high above the discord and din around him.

And yet this man, so debased and degraded, had been once a scholar of
the University, and carried off its prizes from men whose names stood
high among the great and valued of the land.


Every hour seemed to complicate the Knight of Gwynne's difficulties, and
to increase that intricacy by which he already was so much embarrassed.
The forms of law, never grateful to him, became now perfectly odious,
obscuring instead of explaining the questions on which he desired
information. He hated, besides, the small and narrow expedients so
constantly suggested in cases where his own sense of right convinced him
of the justice of his cause, nor could he listen with common patience to
the detail of all those legal subtleties by which an adverse claim might
be, if not resisted, at least protracted indefinitely.

His presence, far from affording any assistance, was, therefore, only an
embarrassment both to Daly and the lawyer, and they heard with unmixed
satisfaction of his determination to hasten down to the West, and
communicate more freely with his family, for as yet his letter to
Lady Eleanor, far from disclosing the impending ruin, merely mentioned
Gleeson's flight as a disastrous event in the life of a man esteemed
and respected, and adverting but slightly to his own difficulties in

"We must leave the abbey, Bagenal, I foresee that," said Darcy, as he
took his friend aside a few minutes before starting.

Daly made no reply, for already his own convictions pointed the same

"I could not live there with crippled means and broken fortune; 'twould
kill me in a month, by Jove, to see the poor fellows wandering about
idle and unemployed, the stables nailed up, the avenue grass-grown, and
not hear the cry of a hound when I crossed the courtyard. But what
is to be done? Humbled as I am, I cannot think of letting it to
some Hickman O'Reilly or other, some vulgar upstart, feasting his low
companions in those old halls, or plotting our utter ruin at our own
hearthstone; could we not make some other arrangement?"

"I have thought of one," said Daly, calmly; "my only fear is how to ask
Lady Eleanor's concurrence to a plan which must necessarily press most
heavily on her."

"What is it?" said Darcy, hastily.

"Of course, your inclination would be, for a time at least, perfect

"That, above all and everything."

"Well, then, what say you to taking up your abode in a little cottage of
mine on the Antrim coast? It is a wild and lonely spot, it's true, but
you may live there without attracting notice or observation. I see you
are surprised at my having such a possession. I believe I never told
you, Darcy, that I bought Sandy's cabin from him the day he entered my
service, and fitted it up, and intended it as an asylum for the poor
fellow if he should grow weary of my fortunes, or happily survive me. By
degrees, I have added a room here and a closet there, till it has grown
into a dwelling that any one, as fond of salmon-fishing as you and I
were, would not despise; come, will you have it?" Darcy grasped his
friend's hand without speaking, and Daly went on: "That's right; I'll
give orders to have everything in readiness at once; I'll go down, too,
and induct you. Ay, Darcy, and if the fellows could take a peep at us
over our lobster and a glass of Isla whiskey, they 'd stare to think
those two jovial old fellows, so merry and contented, started, the day
they came of age, with the two best estates in Ireland."

"If I had not brought ruin on others, Bagenal - "

"No more of that, Darcy; the most scandal-loving gossip of the Club will
never impute, for he dare not, more than carelessness to your conduct,
and I promise you, if you 'll only fall back on a good conscience,
you 'll not be unhappy under the thatched roof of my poor shieling.
My sincerest regards to Lady Eleanor and Helen. I see there is a crowd
collecting at the sight of the four posters, so don't delay."

Darcy could do no more than squeeze the cordial hand that held his own,
and, passing hastily out, he stepped into the travelling-carriage at the
door, not unobserved, indeed, for about a hundred ragged creatures had
now assembled, who saluted his appearance with groans and hisses,
accompanied with ruffianly taunts about bribery and corruption; while
one, more daring than the rest, mounted on the step, and with his face
to the window, cried out: "My Lord, my Lord, won't you give us a trifle
to drown your new coronet?"

The words were scarcely out, when, seizing him by the neck with one
hand, and taking a leg in the other, Daly hurled the fellow into the
middle of the mob, who, such is their consistency, laughed loud and
heartily at the fellow's misfortunes; meanwhile, the postilions plied
whip and spur, and ere the laughter had subsided, the carriage was out
of sight.

"There is a gentleman in the drawing-room wishes to speak to you, sir,"
said a servant to Daly, who had just sat down to a conference with the

"Present my respectful compliments, and say that I am engaged on most
important and pressing business."

"Had you not better ask his name?" said the lawyer.

Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe Knight Of Gwynne, Vol. I (of II) → online text (page 21 of 34)