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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.
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 certainly 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 damped the ardour 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 handsomest man in Ireland.
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 labours. This individual was a short, plethoric-looking, whitehaired man of about fifty, with a deep, round voice, and a chuckling, smothering laugh, which, whenever he indulged, not only shook his own ample person, but generally created a petty earthquake on every side of him. For the present shall not stop to particularize him more closely; but when I add that the person in question was a well-known member of the Irish House of Commons, whose acute understanding and 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 expression; 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 illtrimmed 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, tightlybuttoned 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
"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 yesterday."" "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 Recovery 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 postscript. 'Any one who questions the above statement, is politely requested to call on Mr. Considine, 16 Kildare Street, who will feel 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'm 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 count.
"Nothing to be done with him in this way?" said Considine, balancing the cork-screw like a hair-trigger.
"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 mis"Who is the chief creditor?" asked the took their friends, voted against the bill, and, amid the loudest cheering of the opposition, "Old Stapleton, the attorney in Fleet Street, the government party were defeated. The has most of the mortgages." 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 among 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 looked again 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 extremely 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 pleasant companions --but I'll give you a chant to enliven you.' So saying, he cleared his throat with a couple of short coughs, and struck up, with the voice of a Stentor, the following verse of a popular ballad:
"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.
"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 Athlone, 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."
"I 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 truth, I dread the serjeant and the speaker's warrant with a very lively fear."
"Why, when did you make his acquaintance?" said the count.
"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 another 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.
"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;
"Great rogues all.'
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 serjeant-at-arms, and left for three weeks in Newgate to practise his melody."
"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 member 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 | the skill of their caste is taken into considerait was hereditary not to have any children- tion, 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
"" Here a burst of laughter from Considine and O'Malley interrupted the reader, who with the greatest difficulty could be persuaded that he was again bulling it.
"The devil fly away with it," said he, "I'll 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 twentyfour hours, the late member would be enjoying his otium cum dignitate in his majesty's jail of Newgate.
"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; and as the clock struck four, the party separated for the night, well satisfied with the result of their labours.
When the dissolution of parliament was an nounced the following morning in Dublin its interest in certain circles was manifestly increased by the fact that Godfrey O'Malley was at last open to 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 supposed to experience on the day that a breach is reported as practicable, 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 monarch, instead of merely being the member for Galway, the kingdom over whose destinies he had been called to preside would have suffered 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
Expectation was at the highest-confidence hourly increasing-success all but certainwhen, in the midst of all this high-bounding hope, the dreadful rumour spread that O'Malley was no more. One had seen it just five minutes before in the evening edition of Falkner's paper-another heard it in the courtsa third overheard the chief-justice stating it to the master of the rolls--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 describe the consternation the intelligence caused on every side is impossible; nothing in history equals it, except, perhaps, the entrance 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 creditors, 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 attempt 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'Malley Castle, whose contents will at once explain the writer's intention, and also serve to introduce my unworthy self to my reader. It ran thus:
"DEAR CHARLEY,-Your uncle Godfrey, whose debts [God pardon 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 circumstantial detail of the newspaper 'that
he was confined six weeks to his bed from a cold he caught ten days ago, while on guard.' Repeat 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 Mac 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,
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.
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 Galway, bordering on the Shannon. On every side stretched the property 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, presented many features of beauty; beyond it all was sterile, bleak, and barren. Long tracts of brown heath-clad mountain, or not less un-complishments that I was nearly six feet high, profitable valleys of tall and waving fern, were with more than a common share of activity all that the eye could discern, except where and strength for my years, and no inconsiderthe broad Shannon, expanding into a tranquil able portion of good looks, I have finished my and glassy lake, lay still and motionless beneath sketch, and stand before my reader. the dark mountains, a few islands, with some ruined churches and a round tower, alone breaking the dreary waste of water.
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 Killaloe to Banagher. These were the staple of my endowments. 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 neighbourhood, and was held in very considerable repute.
When I add to this portraiture of my ac
It is now time I should return to Sir Harry's letter, which so completely 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 escapes 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 obstinatethey furious. 'I'll die first,' said I. 'Galway or nothing!"" "Hurrah!" from the mob. "O'Malley for ever!" "And ye see, I kept
"HARRY BOYLE. "Daly's, about eight in the evening.
"To Charles O'Malley, Esq., O'Malley Castle, Galway."
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.
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.”
When a mere child I was left an orphan to the care of my worthy 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,
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."
A FATHER AND SON.
[Luttrell, a disappointed man, lives in one of the islands of Arran, off the coast of county Galway, away from all society. He has an only son, named Harry, whom he loves and yet keeps at a distance; and whom he would almost sacrifice to his pride. The necessity for sending two letters to the mainland gives him an opportunity of gratifying his morbid feelings: the extract that follows tells how. The scene opens with a conversation between Luttrell and a fisherman of the island.]
"How is the wind, Hennesy?" asked he of his boatman.
"Strong from the east, sir, and comin' on harder."
"Could you beat up to Westport, think you? I have two letters of importance to send." "We might, sir," said the man, doubtingly, "but it's more likely we'd be blown out to sea." "How long is this gale likely to last?"
1 This extract is somewhat abridged.
"It's the season of these winds, your honour, and we'll have, maybe, three weeks or a month of them, now."
The cheers here were deafening, and my little ballast, too." 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 Mac Shane resided. He was then suffered to touch the earth once more, when, having shaken hands with all of his constituency within reach, he 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-nabocklish -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 triumph.
"In that case you must try it. Take three men with you, and the large yawl; put some provisions and water on board; perhaps a
"That we will, sir. She'll take a ton more, at least, to carry sail in this weather." Are you afraid to go?" asked Luttrell, and his voice was harsh and his manner stern. "Afraid! devil a bit afraid!" said the man, boldly, and as though the imputation had made him forget his natural respect.
"I'd not ask you to do what I'd not venture on myself."
"We all know that well, sir," said the boatman, recovering his former manner. . . "You bade me remind you, sir, that the next time the boat went over to Westport that I was to take Master Harry, and get him measured for some clothes; but of course you'd not like to send him in this weather."
"I think not; I think there can be no doubt of that," cried Luttrell, half angrily. "It's not when the strong easterly gales have set in, and a heavy sea is coming up from the south'ard, that I'd tell you to take a boy———” He stopped suddenly, and turning fiercely on the sailor, said, "You think I have courage enough to send you and a boat's crew out, and not to send my son. Speak out and say it. Isn't that what you mean?"
"It is not, sir. If you towld me to take the child, I wouldn't do it."
"You wouldn't do it?" cried Luttrell, passionately.
"I would not, sir, if you never gave me another day's pay."
'Leave the room-leave the house, and prepare to give up your holding. I'll want that cabin of yours this day month. Do you hear me?"
"I do, sir," said the man, with a lip pale and quivering.